Red Devils women face off with Pirates for CNRU grand final berth

QUICK: Red Devil Bec Smyth guns for the try-line at Gunnedah's gala day earlier this season. Photo: Peter Hardin
QUICK: Red Devil Bec Smyth guns for the try-line at Gunnedah's gala day earlier this season. Photo: Peter Hardin

Gunnedah’s Bec Smyth has a knack for finding the try-line.

She’s scored eight tries from 12 games in the women’s 7s competition this year with four of those coming in her past three games.

The Red Devil, who’s at home playing on the edges, said service from her inside played a big role in her try-scoring ability but also noted another factor.

“Sometimes it’s more that I don’t want to get tackled because I see the girls in the middle get smashed. So I just run as fast as I can,” Smyth said.

The Red Devils will be hoping Smyth will be able to keep her try-scoring run going as Gunnedah faces Pirates in the preliminary final at Weebolla Oval, Moree on Saturday.

After finishing on top of the ladder, Pirates lost 20-17 in their semi-final against Inverell last week to set up the showdown for a spot in the grand final with the Red Devils.

Smyth said the match could be won and lost on the fringes.

“A little bit nervous but I’m excited, too,” Smyth said of her feelings heading into the match.

“It’ll be really hard but I think our girls are tough enough to do it.

“They’re [Pirates] really quick so it’ll be more about keeping them away from the outside and not letting them go around us.”

The Red Devils have arguably been the biggest improvers of the competition.

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They didn’t score a win until round nine but a pair of victories of against Scone kick-started their season.

They went on to win another nine games from their remaining 14 matches to finish fourth.

“It’s really great. It’s different to most clubs I’ve been in. I know a few of the girls hadn’t even played any sort of sport and they’ve all really improved,” she said.

“John’s such a good coach as well.

“He really seems to know what he’s talking about and always knows different ways of teaching us things.”

Knowing how desperately they want another crack at the Highlanders, Pirates coach Andrew Bowden expects his side to come out firing.

He said they were a bit disheartened by the way the game finished up on Saturday, but have trained well this week.

“There wasn’t really too much we had to work on, just our rush defence and shutting the play down, and our slide defence,” he said.

They will welcome back UNE Lions squad member Sharnee Magner from injury but that has been counter-balanced by the loss of Miah O’Sullivan.

The Country rep will be a big loss but Bowden has no doubt they can get the job done.

“I think the girls we have in our side are just as good,” he said.

They won’t be taking the Red Devils lightly though.

“Gunnedah will be just as good (as Inverell),” Bowden said.​

Kick-off is at 2.35pm.