Smashing through the competition

8 April 2024

It was an emotional four-day journey for the ADF Women’s Rugby League team at the NRL-administered national championships on the Gold Coast, from March 21-24.

Playing against some of the top teams from across Australia and the Pacific, ADF secured victories in half their matches.

Papua New Guinea (PNG) proved to be the toughest, with the ADF suffering a 10-0 defeat last year.

This year’s rematch was another win for PNG, but for winger Air Force Corporal Samantha Mead, ADF held their ground far better, with no points scored until the 17th minute and the second half remaining scoreless.

PNG brought with them several world-cup players.

“We love competing against Papua New Guinea and it’s the second time in six months we’ve played them,” Corporal Mead said.

“They bring so much physicality to the game but are such nice women on and off the field and are a credit to the development of women’s rugby league in PNG.”

Hooker Army Private Mikaela Trbojevich said big hits could be heard in the game recording.

“The physicality and the execution that we provided in this game was extraordinary,” Private Trbojevich said.

The PNG team was composed of formidable players known for aggressively engaging and skilfully offloading the ball.

“Our main effort was to hit hard coming off the line and secure the ball so that they had no opportunity to offload it,” Private Trbojevich said.

PNG scored only once on the wing, a testament to the strength of the ADF’s line.

Second rower Navy Able Seaman Kirra Smith said her favourite game was the win against WA on the last day.

“Everything that needed work, all the pieces of the puzzle, we put it together in that last game. It flowed really nicely,” she said.

From the first set, the match was marked by hit after hit. However, once the team calmed the pace, they broke through by executing basic strategies. 

This involved coordinated plays to the left and right, culminating in scoring opportunities on the outside, mirroring the tactics employed in the game against PNG.

Corporal Mead said the standard of women’s ADF Rugby League was on the up, with backgrounds in touch footy, rugby union and league.

Able Seaman Smith said everyone was really kind and got behind each other.

“We were all vulnerable with each other, which really brought us together as a team,” she said.

“It was the most skilled rugby team I’ve been part of in the ADF so far.”

Able Seaman Smith and Able Seaman Cayla Barlow were named in the 'team of the tournament', while Petty Officer Shannon Evans was voted 'players’ player'.



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