Great Southern Nine’s 2022 Wrap Up

Western Fijian Ladies Overcome Gallant Giants In Overtime Victory

In the debut edition of the Women’s Tackle at the GS9s, the Western Fijians had a bit too much fuel in the tank for the Joondalup Giants, eventually winning the final in overtime, 16-12. In the contest of the day, both teams went back and forth and at different stages thought they might have done enough to win it.

In a NRL WA first, the Kwinana Titans debuted in the senior competition, with their ladies participating on day one, undermanned but full of confidence. Showing amazing guts and determination, they had to go all the way down to 6 players before they finally succumbed to injury and numbers. A brave group who we hope to see again.

Gur Wirimalpa also had a huge presence in Albany, with both Tag and Tackle teams participating. Showing really good team and community spirit, they fought in every game, especially against a great league tag Joondalup side as rivals. Only a superb individual try kept them from contesting the grand final, and they deservedly earned themselves plenty of admirers.

But in the final, it was blow for blow. With the Western Fijians trying to run away with it, they made all the early running. Cherysh Leaf in particular did most of the damage with several scything runs, and finally got the Fijians on the board with a brilliant offload to Litea Roy. This kicked the Giants into gear, as they ran the ball on the last in the ensuing set, and released Cortney Waters with a great try on the left hand wing, which went through no less than 5 sets of hands.

Again, the Western Fijians went into over drive, and off the back of some superb play from star half, Melissa-Jane Buchanan, captain Sera Ravatudei powered over to give them back the lead. Again this only made the Giants more hungry, and after some good work from their forwards and hooker Tammy Byrnes, Emysen Robinson found herself with a two on two, threw the dummy and hit the gas to run 30 metres and score. Locked up at 8-8 it was on for all money.

With both groups of supporters going crazy, the Western Fijians found themselves attacking the line, and powerhouse Cherysh Leaf delivered. Getting one on one, five metres out, she was too strong and put the Fijians up, and seemingly had won them the game. 12-8 with no time left you’d be forgiven for thinking that was it. Enter Elle Warren. Basically off the tap restart, she received the ball, got one on one with a tired defender, and hit the nitrous oxide. Soon after and at 12 points a piece we were being sent into extra time golden point (you could not buy a conversion, every try was scored out wide). But the Fijians didn’t make any mistakes. A searching run from Buchanan setup an attacking raid and their other two stars in Ravatudei and Leaf combined to send the Fijian crowd into ecstasy. A brave performance from the Giants and an amazing game.



Joondalup Giants powerful debut proves too much for creative Fijians

While the Roosters couldn’t come to defend their title, the Joondalup Giants debuted and proved to classy for the once again beaten finalists the Western Fijians. In a complete performance, the Giants suffocated the free flowing Fijians with some amazing defence and ultra disciplined offence. While the Fijians will rue a bunch of lost opportunities with the elements contriving against them.

A fantastic weekend, hosted yet again by the Albany Sea Dragons, saw the hosts fight bravely. While showing flashes of brilliance mixed in with some great speed, they ultimately were outmatched by more experienced opponents. And the returning Mandurah Storm proved plucky once again. Scoring some brilliant tries and picking themselves up off the canvas time and again to throw themselves into the fray. Even the opposition were commenting on the toughness of the diminutive Storm side.

The story of the weekend was the arrival of the South Hedland Cougars. One of our most northern clubs, travelling 2000kms to play in a tournament in the most southern port of Western Australia, and did they turn some heads. One of the most enjoyable teams to watch, they drew some admirers with their powerful and no nonsense rugby league, and it was great to see them getting involved. Gur Wirimalpa also debuted in the Albany competition, and just like their ladies, they brought alot of fire and community to the event. With their supporters getting involved, the men played with amazing enthusiasm and took most teams right to the wire, with their game against the hometown Sea Dragons, one of the games of the tournament.

But it all finished with the free flowing Fijians, who showed their patented brand of no fear, high risk and high reward football going through the group stages undefeated. Scoring some scintillating tries, they were on a collision course for the Joondalup Giants from the start, with the Giants losing narrowly to the Fijians in the first game, after a virtuoso performance from Jona Naborisi, but accounting for every other side with professionalism and ease. In their 5 pool games the Giants scored a stunning 142 points, at an average of 28.4 a game, they only conceded 34, to have the best offence and defensive record for the carnival.

And in the final it was a complete contrast of styles. The Fijians threw caution to the wind from the opening whistle and lived by the sword, making some costly errors and allowing the Giants to take control. In a credit to themselves, the Fijians defended whole heartedly for a long period, before the errors finally told, with unsung hero Lincoln Pomare-Eriha scoring a beautiful solo try to kick off the Giants. And when the Fijians made another error off the restart, the Giants quickly spun to ball to youngster Tyzan Hita-Duval, who put the hammer down from 70 metres out and showed superb pace to beat off all comers. This allowed the Giants to stay in control, and with a halftime score of 8-0, the Western Fijians really had to start the second half well to be any hope.

But the suffocating defence of the Giants seemed to have no end, and with the wind playing havoc with the Fijians ability to promote the football, the Giants continued to knuckle down. With both teams getting a bit heated, and some niggle entering the contest, a brilliant offload was then followed by a direct run from Davey Martin, who made no mistake and dotted down right next to the post. The ensuing successful conversion from Gus Marshall put the Giants up 14-0, and while the Fijians scored a quick consolation try to Saimoni Qaranivalu in they dying stages, it was all too little to late. The siren went in the background, and the Giants celebrated their first Great Southern Nine’s tournament in style.