Group 19 rugby league: Spudettes out but not down about season

They may have finished outside of a semi-finals berth but there is a sense of contentment among the ranks of the Guyra Spudettes league tag team about their return season to the Group 19 competition. 

After not fielding a team in the Group in 2017, the Spuds returned to the new second division venture as a club re-building. 

The Spudettes re-formed with a few familiar faces and a host of new recruits and started the season with a win against another newcomer to the Group in the Tenterfield Tigerettes. 

The ensuing two rounds were tough outings with a loss to early season favourites Uralla and then the fancied Walcha Jillaroos team. 

Round four saw the Spudettes draw with Bingara and then they didn’t secure another win until round 13 against Ashford on Guyra turf. 

They finished their season in Uralla on Saturday, fielding 10 players against the first-placed Tigers. 

The gallant Guyra team went down 48-6 but coach Graham Smith was proud of their effort. 

“We pushed a couple of sides which was good and then they realised they are a pretty good side, it is just a matter of getting them committed to training,” he said. 

“Like last week against Uralla, I don't think their coach would be real happy because we had only 10 players and they only beat us 48-6.

“They were happy after the game with their effort and I was very happy with the way they played.”

With two wins and a draw, the Spudettes finished in sixth place for the season but for Smith, the season was about more than results on the scoreboard. 

“I think we played three-quarters of the season with no reserves,” Smith said. 

“I am just very proud of the girls and the way they played this year. 

“They always put a big effort in.

“It was hard trying to get the same team every week so we just stuck to the basics and that was all they needed to do.”

It was a learning curve for the whole team with a large contingent of newcomers as well as Smith coaching league tag for the first time in his career. 

“They are a young side too, there are only maybe four or five that have played league tag before but the rest were new players,” he said. 

“It was the first time I coached league tag and the girls should be very happy with the season they have had.

“I am happy with the way they played, the club and the town is happy with the effort they have put in.

“The girls loved it and enjoyed their season so that is all I could ask for.”

Smith is hoping the side can build on this season and would consider throwing his hat in the ring for coaching the side again next year. 

“I don't know yet, we will see what happens,” he said. 

“Just see who might be interested in playing again but I don't mind. 

“The young girls, seeing the Guyra ladies play, might be happy to turn up and play next year.”

As for the premiership, the battle for the title remains between Uralla, Walcha, Warialda and Bingara. 

After playing against the top four teams this year, Smith has tipped a tight finish between the one and two-placed sides. 

“I would probably say Walcha,” he said. 

“Just the way [Jillaroos skipper] Robyn [Broadbent] controls the game.

“You will probably edge Uralla out because they don't have that one person who controls the game.

“The games she has played she has controlled the game.”