Hat-trick for Sydney at women’s rugby nationals

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Sydney University had 10 players in the Sydney women’s rugby union squad that went through the 2017 national championships undefeated to claim a third successive title.

Sydney defeated ACT 34-0 in the final on Sunday after three days of competition on the Gold Coast.

The Sydney squad included  Sera Naiqama, Lope Leiataua, Kirrily Mariie, Fi Jones, IIiseva B, Emily Chancellor, Grace Hamilton, Ash Hewson, Kim Davey and Taz Lam from Sydney University Women’s Rugby Club.

It was the second year running the Sydneysiders edged out their southern rivals. They opened the scoring with a try from tighthead Evelyn Horomia, before skipper Hewson landed two penalties to give the defending title holders a 13-nil lead at the break.

Sydney posted another three tries through Victoria Latu, Chloe Leupape and Hewson in the second half to seal the title.

Five-eighth Hewson led the way – in attack and on the scoreboard – for Sydney throughout the tournament.

“It just shows what depth we’ve got at Sydney and we’ve probably got the best competition in the country and we showed today we are the best team in Australia,” she said.

“We did show resolve. Everyone wants to knock us off our perch after coming first the past two years but we stayed composed and it’s a testament to our girls.”

Hewson said the competition had lifted another level in 2017, ahead of the biggest Test calendar in recent history, leading into the Women’s World Cup.

“It’s just the best preparation we’ve had for a World Cup,” she said. “Even this tournament, it’s stepped up another notch. There has been a bit of a gap between our national competition and international matches but the last few years because of nationals and the development of young girls, it’s the best preparation we can hope for.”

Queensland finished third with a 27-13 win over Western Australia, while NSW Country and the ADFRU each scored five tries in the fifth-place playoff which the Defence Force won with a penalty from Nicole Hall.

Standouts from the competition will be selected for the Wallaroos squad to take on England, New Zealand and Canada in June, before the Australian squad heads off to Ireland in August for the 2017 World Cup.