23 Nov Tigers claim 2020 Ruby Series
Carina Leagues Club Tigers have emerged victorious over the minor premiers Brisbane North Cougars in the Queensland Ruby Series Grand Final.
Both teams set themselves up well in a competitive first half before the Tigers surged to the win late on, using their attacking assets to overcome a valiant Cougars Bside in a 56-48 victory.
The Final represented one of the most important games in these players’ young careers, and the unsurprising nerves led to a significant number of early errors. Of the two sides, the Cougars proved more decisive in capitalising upon their turnovers. Wing Attack Monique Piunti skilfully waited for passes to open up and Goal Shooter Larika Malagaoma was devastating in the circle.
All of the Tigers players were involved in an inspired defensive effort, slowing the Cougars down as they attempted to progress beyond an initial 5-2 lead. However, the chances resulting from the pressure were often not converted.
Reilley Batcheldor, although impactful in absorbing a lot of the Cougars’ attention, had only played minimally in the Ruby Series this season and appeared to lack a connection with Amelia Fazackerley, leading to miscommunication in crucial moments.
Paula Stuart recognised the issue, shifting Batcheldor from GA to GS and Tash Robinson from WA to her usual position at GA. The move was immediately effective as the Tigers were soon level, benefitting from Batcheldor’s composure in front of goal and the much-improved connection between the front two and Lily Gray.
Sisters Rianah and Lynette Childs both contributed to their team’s resurgence, claiming intercepts and constantly frustrating the Cougars. The latter worked alongside Maddison Ryan to attempt to handle Malagaoma. However, Maddie Grant stepped up to the mark when her shooting partner was occupied to keep the scores even at half-time.
The rise in intensity that began in the second quarter continued into the third, with every ball being fiercely contested and no goal being scored easily. Neither side was prepared to let go of a potential championship and the players stuck tightly to their opponents, forcing risky, cross-court passes that resulted in more turnovers.
Despite the competitive nature of the game, the Tigers were threatening to pull away, regularly edging one goal ahead before being hauled back by the Cougars. Soon, however, the threat was realised. The dynamic pairing of Robinson and Batcheldor stunned the minor premiers with a series of quick goals that gave their side a 41-35 advantage.
They carried that momentum well into the closing stages, and the Cougars struggled to compete against the vision of Robinson and Irene Mauga combined with the secure hold of Batcheldor. The Tigers belied their age and the occasion by remaining calm and patiently working their way down the court, building their confidence and damaging the Cougars’ with each goal.
Malagaoma matched Batcheldor in both her hold and shooting accuracy, and the Cougars as a team matched the Tigers for a while but weren’t able to make progress towards closing the gap. Eventually the Tigers added to their lead on the back of the disruptive defensive play of Ryan and the Childs sisters, putting the finishing touches on a title-winning performance.
Cougars 48 Tigers 56
Grand Final MVP: Reilley Batcheldor, Carina Leagues Club Tigers
Ruby Series Season MVP: Naomi Solomona, Ipswich Jets