​Albury Thunder sides stand tall in women's rugby league carnival

TRY TIME: Albury Thunder's Tenille Ballard celebrates with her teammates. Pictures: MARK JESSER
TRY TIME: Albury Thunder's Tenille Ballard celebrates with her teammates. Pictures: MARK JESSER

ALBURY Thunder women’s rugby league carnival looks set to expand next season following the success of the inaugural event at Greenfield Park.

Pani Rupapere is stopped in her tracks by some strong defence at Greenfield Park on Saturday.

Pani Rupapere is stopped in her tracks by some strong defence at Greenfield Park on Saturday.

With most teams indicating they will be returning, club president Rick O’Connell said talks were already underway.

Gemma Blackhall was one of many youngsters to impress. A good crowd turned out for the inaugural event.

Gemma Blackhall was one of many youngsters to impress. A good crowd turned out for the inaugural event.

“We have certainly put it on the calendar for next year,” O’Connell said.

“We will talk to the juniors as we may need another field if it grows in teams.

“Most teams said they would be back and we would anticipate the Wagga and Canberra sides will spread the word.”

Yenda All Stars, Albury Thunder, Murray Cup, Uni Canberra Grizzlies, Bombala Blue Heelers, Valley Dragons Canberra, Panthers and Lake Cargelligo fought it out in the open division.

Albury Thunder finished on top of their pool after playing superbly on Saturday but fell to Valley Dragons 16-10 in the semi-final.

Thunder’s prospects were hurt by Alice Rash (concussion), Nataya Jackson (leg) and Jess McDonnell (unavailable) missing the clash.

Jess and Hayley McDonnell were named in the Riverina side to play Samoa in Wagga while Kerryn Wake also played well.

Yenda All Stars accounted for Valley Dragons 36-14 in the final.

In the under-16s, Albury Thunder went down to Griffith Black and Whites 40-0 in the final.

Despite his side giving away a huge size advantage, coach Craig Blackhall was delighted with his team’s performances.

‘We played five games and the girls did a great job getting through to the final,” Blackhall said.

“Griffith Black and Whites would have put it to half the senior sides.

“They were a big side.

“It was a great weekend and I think the carnival will really kick on.”

Albury Thunder advanced to the grand final by defeating Yanco Wamoon 28-8 in the semi-final.

Sam Clegg starred for Albury Thunder with some outstanding defensive work over the two days.

“She put her body on the line all weekend,” Blackhall said.

“All the girls were really good though and they are looking forward to playing in a Riverina competition now.”

Former NRL player Steve Roach and Australian Jillaroos fullback Sam Bremner were special guests at the event.