The Yass Magpies ladies’ side proved that they are the best side in the 2022 Katrina Fanning Shield season, defeating the Woden Rams 36-12 in the grand final at Seiffert Oval.

Yass completed the whole season undefeated, with no team able to beat the Magpie girls, winning all 13 of their games played.

“It was a dominant first half from the Magpies which proved too much for the Rams to overcome, completing a perfect season with another big victory.

Yass centre, Tijana Zdravevska was awarded as Player of the Match after proving to be lethal in the centres with some big defence and amazing attack.

Tijana Zdravevska accepting the Best on Ground award

It was a fast start for the minor premiers who capitalised off the first-set penalty to open the scoring. 

It was a great run by back-rower Afele who produced a brilliant offload to Dummett which allowed her to cross over in the second minute.

The try was converted by Bullock as the Magpies gained an early six-point advantage.

The Magpies relentless start continued after they forced an error from the Rams with an awesome kick chase, giving them more possession in great field position.

Yass would immediately capitalise through Zdravevska who crossed over in the right corner, using some great power and footwork to beat the Rams’ edge defence.

Bullock’s second conversion attempt was unsuccessful, as the Magpies jumped out to a 10-0 lead after just six minutes. 

The Rams seemed destined not to get the ball after Yass earned another penalty and would capitalise with their third try in the ninth minute.

It was a beautiful short ball by Massey which found Smith who powered her way over, the conversion attempt was unsuccessful as the Magpies stretched their lead to 16 points.

Yass was on a different level as they rolled down the field and earned themselves a repeat set through another goal-line drop-out.

The Rams start went from bad to worse as Allan would end up leaving the field just 11 minutes into the contest.

Yass would score and take advantage immediately after more great field positions, as Dummett took on the line and crashed over for her second try.

The try was converted by Bullock as the Magpies would lead 20-0 after the first quarter of the match, with the Rams not having any possession besides the knock-on.

The Rams would finally take possession and complete their first set in the 16th minute, but it was great defensive work by the Magpies.

The Magpies were running rings around the Rams as Zdravevska would power her way over for a second try in the match. 

Bullock’s attempt from the right sideline was once again unsuccessful as the Magpies extended their lead to 24-0

Yass made it clear they were targeting the edge defence and it was Dummett who was terrorising Woden’s defence as she would combine once again with Afele, who crossed over in the 24th minute.

Unfortunately, Bullock wasn’t able to convert from the left sideline, but it was still a dominant 28-0 lead for the Magpies.

Afele would cross over for a second try just moments later after another great run by Dummett put them in excellent field position.

Magpies – Captain Sami Afele accepted the winner’s shield

Yass would earn a penalty in the final minute of the half and had one last chance to put points on before halftime, but the Magpies were able to hold strong.

It was a dominant first half from the minor premiers who went into the break with a 32-0 lead.

Woden had to start the second half fast to have any hope of a comeback and that’s exactly what they did, pinning down Yass in their own corner.

The Rams would open their scoring for the match just moments later in the 33rd minute after Brewer powered over multiple defenders.

Morris converted the try right in front, a perfect second-half start for the Rams.

Unfortunately, an error from the Rams would gift possession right back to the Magpies, failing to find touch from a penalty.

The Rams’ defence improved out of sight in the opening ten minutes of the second half and the game.

It took an incredible try-saving tackle from Woden to stop the Magpies just metres out from their goal line which would have ended any chance of a comeback.

The rams were desperate to score and keep any comeback hope alive but made a crucial error when they seemed destined to score.

Yass would seal their victory in the 53rd minute after Gaynor crossed over in the right corner after Fleming put them in great field position with an awesome run.

The sideline conversion attempts didn’t seem to be working for Bullock, but the try gave the Magpies a 30-point lead after finally scoring their first try of the second half.

The game was over, but the Rams would prove how much they improved in the second half by scoring the game’s final try in the 58th minute.

It was an eyes-up play from Ryan, who crossed over from the dummy half and a successful conversion from Morris would limit the deficit to 24 points as the full-time siren went.

In the end, a dominant first half from the Magpies was too much for the Rams, as Yass completed their undefeated season with a 36-12 grand final win.”

Following the game and after match presentation, the Magpies team took a detour past Greg ‘Spider’ Smith’s (Yass Assistant Coach) house, who is currently sidelined at home at the moment waiting for his surgery.

Detour past Assistant Coach Greg “Spider” to show off their trophy

Magpies Coach Brendon Houston spoke to the Times following the grand final win about the season that was.

“It was obviously a really successful year going through undefeated and getting the ultimate goal of winning the premiership, so I’m pretty happy. As a first-year coach, I don’t think it gets any better really,” Houston said.

“We showed commitment and consistency the whole season and never really strayed off course. We were focused on every training session and even with the little hiccups of not playing any footy in a fair few weeks due to forfeits and weeks off in finals, the training still remained very focused and it showed off in the grand final.”

Houston also praised his girls for their incredible performance in Sunday’s season decider.

“Our first half was exceptional. I think that 30-point cushion at half-time was needed because the Rams came out really hard in that second half and we’re probably on top for 10-15 minutes and ended up winning the second half 12-6. They showed a lot of fight in that second half, but we were just too good in the first half and put them away.

“I thought Tijana [Zdravevska] was outstanding. She’s been our top try scorer so she’s always dangerous, especially when she’s got the ball and a bit of space. She can use her speed to get around people and caused havoc on that edge the whole game. 

Magpies- Captain Sami Afele accepted the Katrina Fanning Shield

“It was nice to go back to Greg Smith’s house after the game. He’s got a few things going on with him at the moment and was unfortunately unable to be at the game and a lot of the trainings of late, so we thought it would be nice to surprise him and hopefully lift his spirits a bit. It was really nice to see him and see how happy he was seeing all the girls there.”

The Magpies team went back to the Soldiers Club in Yass on Sunday night for drinks and a meal to celebrate the season, before taking the celebrations long into the night.

Yass have just hosted their end-of-season presentation for all grades on Saturday night at the Soldiers Club – the Magpies’ main sponsor – celebrating a successful season for the Club, with reserve grade making the preliminary finals and first grade finishing a tough season.

Brendon is hoping the same core ladies Magpies group can stay together next season for another assault at the Katrina Fanning Shield title. 

“I’m not too sure if I’ll be back to coach again, it was a really good experience, but I’ve got to think a few things over, but I’d love to see all the girls come back, whether it’s with me or another coach stepping into the role,” Brendon continued.

“When that gets organised, I’m sure there will be a preseason later this year and then a bit of a break before getting back into it next year.”

Well done to the Magpies on an incredible and historic season, claiming the Katrina Fanning Shield. 

Tim Warren