Flames atoned for last year’s grand final disappointment with a 4-2 win over defending champions and minor premiers Waratahs on Sunday.
Chasing their first premiership since 2013, Flames’ grand final t-shirts summed things up perfectly – For Girls Filled with Fire.
The fire was there from the opening minutes when Kim Resch slotted the first of her double. Julie Rodda doubled their advantage mid-way through the first half after a surging run from Resch.
Minutes later they had their third after forcing a turnover as Waratahs tried to work their way out of defence.
It was a result of the unrelenting pressure Flames applied at both ends of the field.
“We pressured them really well and reacted well to turnovers, which was one of our plans,” Rodda said.
They spoke about when they earned a turnover making sure they were in a position to receive the ball and vica versa when Wararahs got a turnover making sure they shut it down.
Generally, Flames’ defence just smothered Waratahs and constantly broke down their play.
“We knew that we had to defend well, that was always going to be the key. We knew we had to control their midfield,” Rodda said.
Nicole Reid-Smith did salvage some hope for Waratahs with a goal late in the first half, but by mid-way through the second half it was back to a three goal margin.
Putting it succinctly Waratahs coach Graeme McKenzie said Flames were just too strong.
It was almost the complete opposite story to last year, when Flames went in as minor premiers but nothing went right for them, with Waratahs never really able to find their rhythm.
“We had a plan but we couldn’t stick to it and that forced us to return to things we didn’t want to do,” McKenzie said.
“They did play well. I can’t say anything but that.”
He said his side was a bit guilty of holding onto the ball that little fraction too long, which made it easier for Flames to diffuse them.
But they never stopped trying and showed glimpses of what they were capable off in the last 20 minutes.
The game was gone by then though.
“I’m happy that they never gave up. They just got into it a bit too late,” McKenzie said.