THE North Tamworth Bears have capped off an undefeated Group 4 ladies league tag season after winning a tight grand final tussle against Dungowan at Jack Woolaston Oval on Saturday.
The Bears won 30-14, after the contest was locked at 14-14 at full-time.
Bears' number 10 Steph Halpin helped her side launch a three-try extra-time blitz by scoring two tries of her own to bring her tally to three for the day.
The effort was enough to see Halpin named player of the grand final.
North Tamworth coach James Cooper said his side had earned a measure of redemption for their shock grand final loss to the Roosters last year.
"We had told the girls coming into the game to wipe out all of our previous form because grand finals are a totally different thing," Cooper said.
"Last year we went through the whole season undefeated only to loose the grand final, so we were very keen to not let that happen again."
The Bears established a 10-0 lead in the first half after tries to Halpin and No.17 Kate Sunderland. Halpin produced a brilliant solo run, while Sunderland scored after Norths created an overlap.
Dungowan, however, showed that they would be no pushovers when teen sensation Jada Taylor scored an explosive try that made it 10-6 at the break.
Taylor is the 16-year-old daughter of Cowgirls coach Luke Taylor. She scored three tries on debut in the Cowgirls' 18-0 preliminary final win over Gunnedah last weekend. Her mum, Sarah, also plays for the side.
After several minutes of back-and-forth play to start the second half, Taylor scored her second try and it was 10-10.
Norths then had a player sin-binned.
That was followed by Bears fullback Kim Resch missing a penalty goal after Dungowan Cowgirls No.13 Emma Cummins was sin-binned.
Then the Bears made the most of a 20-metre dropout, with Georgia Horniman scoring a try to give the home side a 14-10 with two minutes remaining in the match.
But the Cowgirls would not go quietly into the night. They scored a try on the siren, which was not converted - sending the enthralling contest into an extra time that consisted of five minutes each way.
A diving try from Halpin in the corner handed North Tamworth a 18-14 lead at the halfway point of extra time.
A big overlap then resulted in North Tamworth's No.3 Hollie Bynge scoring the Bears' second try of extra time. Resch converted: 24-14.
Cooper said his side's strong kicking game proved vital in Saturday's victory.
"It was a nail-biter with the game going to extra time, but that's probably fitting on grand final day," Cooper said.
"We tried to target Dungowan throughout the season with our kicking game, particularly in midfield where we could put a bit of pressure on them to try and take a difficult catch.
"However, hats off to Dungowan they played exceptionally well and really pushed us to the limit.
"For our girls, it is really special to have gone through the season undefeated, we did it last season and came up short in the grand final, but to do it again this season and go one better is really special."
Bears co-coach Jake McManus - who played a vital role in the Bears' first-grade grand final victory, said his side rose to the occasion.
"They came out and scored a couple of tries [in extra time], which was good," McManus said.
"It would've been nice to score them in normal time. But, look, we'll take the win."
The grand final victory was only the latest in a string of good news for McManus, who is expecting his first child with his partner Kim Resch.
"It is a pretty special time at the moment," he said.
"This win just makes it even more exciting."
NORTH TAMWORTH 30 (Steph Halpin 3, Kate Sutherland, Georgia Horniman, Holly Bynge tries, Kim Resch 3 goals) d DUNGOWAN14 (Jada Taylor 2, Brianna Trickett tries, Emma Carrigan goal).