NSW City cruise to Grand Final glory

Margie McDonald

Co-captains Eli Walton and Maddie Studdon hugged each other as the fulltime whistle sounded after their NSW City side punished NSW Country 34-4 in the 2019 Harvey Norman Women's National Championships Grand Final.

The seven-tries to one win not only reversed the result from a year ago – when Country reigned supreme – it has given NSW Origin coach Andrew Patmore food for thought as he formulates his team for the upcoming Holden Women's State of Origin match with Queensland on June 21.

But for 34-year-old Walton, it was pure delight to see City's name engraved on the trophy.

"That's been decades in the making," she told NSWRL.com.  

"City has always made the final but I've never come home with it – but today we came home in the most amazing way," she said before describing why the victory was so dominant.

"We just needed to calm down and not over-think things too much. And the game just flowed."

For Studdon, who was on the losing end 16-12 last year, it was satisfaction personified.

"This year we were more prepared and the bonding and culture in our team was so good. There was a bit of revenge in there too – we really wanted it," Studdon said.

"We knew Country was always going to be tough but we dug deep and pulled through.

"I know we scored some fine tries but our defence really won it for us. The girls turned up and the attack came off that."

Studdon picked up the third of NSW City's seven tries.

"I don't get many because I like setting my players up. But it opened up for me so I got a bit selfish."

Someone who was spectacular, rather than selfish, was City's left-side winger Tiana Penitani (Cronulla).

She scored a hat-trick in Sunday's grand final to match the hat-trick she registered in City's 22-18 win over South-East Queensland on Saturday.

Penitani was awarded the Tahnee Norris Medal for player of the National Championships.

"Tiana Penitani is going to be a super-star. I think I'll be telling my grandkids that I coached her one day," said NSW City coach Steve Kelly.

"Look everyone put it in all week. Everyone was positive from day one. We just didn’t go away today We proved nothing can faze this bunch.

"I think the Origin selectors have a few headaches now."

Penitani started the scoreboard ticking over in the 2nd minute, then scored herself again 14 minutes later.

In between NSW Country hooker Kylie Hilder scored in the 7th minute, but City took an 8-4 lead at halftime.

Again, just two minutes from the resumption and Studdon was over with a fine 15-metre individual run – one pass off the ruck.

She set up Penitani in the 35th with a superb cut-out pass after second rower Shaylee Bent (Mounties) made a 10 metres bust down the left edge.

Interchange back Bo Vette-Welsh (Wests Tigers) scored in the 38th, prop Teina Clark (Wentworthville) in the 43rd off a fine run by right centre Jess Sergis (Helensburg), before right winger Kiana Takairangi (Cronulla) finished things off in the 55th.

She spun in the tackle of two Country defenders to get her arm free and plant the ball.

The NSW Origin team will be named this week before the Blues go into camp on June 16.