Ten try blitz for Nelson Bay rugby women in Suburban season opener

Nelson Bay Gropers Rugby women captured the pre-season Summer Sevens series title.

A ROYAL Australian Air Force athlete with silky skills has found a home with the Nelson Bay Gropers women’s rugby team.

Sophia Collins, a talented five eighth who has represented the Queensland Orchids, is a player to watch in the Hunter Rugby Women’s Suburban competition in 2024.

The classy playmaker was best on ground in Nelson Bay’s thumping 60-0 victory over Cooks Hill – nabbing three tries and creating several others in a dream debut at Bill Strong Oval.

Dashing centre Tash Harris (three), elusive fullback Ebony Oakley, wingers Briennan Napoli and Emjay Walters and RAAF second rower recruit Sierra Nowlan also posted tries in the first-round romp, with Oakley booting five goals.

With the crafty Collins calling the shots and Nowlan, lock Kristy Cooper and prop Taylor Rich leading by example the Gropers showed they will be a force in their second season in the Suburban Women’s competition.

Coach Josh Gamgee tips big things from his charges despite the unavailability of inspirational flanker Sophie Lembcke, second rower Caitlin Guntrip (maternity leave) and winger Ajay Linfoot (knee reconstruction) – three key players who will return in 2025.

The squad tuned up for this year’s campaign by winning the pre-season Summer Sevens series.

Team manager Leigh Byfield told News Of The Area that the club will feature “some exciting new blood” in the women’s ranks but are still keen to bolster their depth.

“We are very supportive and inclusive and welcome any women that are interested in taking up rugby,” revealed Leigh.

“The squad train at Tomaree Sporting Complex on Mondays and Bill Strong Oval on Wednesdays from 5.45pm,” she added.

By Chris KARAS

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