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NSW Waratahs crush Fijian Drua to claim fifth Super Rugby W crown
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NSW Waratahs crush Fijian Drua to claim fifth Super Rugby W crown

NSW Waratahs have completed operation redemption to claim a record fifth Super Rugby Women’s crown with a rousing grand final triumph over the defending champions Fijian Drua. Fittingly, prolific wingers Desiree Miller, with a try-scoring hat-trick, and Maya Stewart, with a double, were front and centre as the Waratahs capped their dominant undefeated season with a 50-14 rout at Ballymore on Sunday.

The comprehensive eight-tries-to-two victory atoned for a shattering semi-final loss to the Drua last year, a defeat that has driven the Tahs all season. The only downer was playing the title decider before a small crowd in Brisbane.

A grand final in Sydney might have packed out Allianz Stadium, especially on a beautiful autumn afternoon, but the Tahs will likely forget that in the jubilation of their first premiership in three seasons.

“I feel amazing. It means so much and I know we’ll celebrate this one tonight,” said Waratahs playmaker Arabella McKenzie.

The result was only ever really in doubt for a few minutes early in the second half after the Waratahs made a lightning start to the match. An early penalty try and five-pointers to Miller and Stewart had the favourites up 17-0 inside almost as many minutes.

The Drua briefly threatened an unlikely comeback with two tries either side of halftime, first a penalty try, then one from winger Merewairita Neivosa while Miller was in the sin bin for a deliberate infringement to cut the deficit to five points. But ill-discipline cruelled the two-time defending champions as they were quickly reduced to 13 players, with five-eighth Jeniffer Ravutia and winger Adita Milinia both yellow-carded.

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The Waratahs wasted little time cashing in on their one- and then two-player advantage, with Stewart and Miller both crossing again to give NSW an unassailable 45-13 lead in the 69th minute. Stewart’s strike was her competition-topping 13th of the season, while Miller’s was her 11th.

But, deservingly, classy outside centre and player of the match Georgina Friedrichs – who had a hand in almost all of the Waratahs’ tries – crossed herself to put the icing on the cake. Powerhouse lock and official player of the grand final Atasi Lafai completed the romp seven minutes from full-time to bring up NSW’s half-century.

By the end of the game, the Pacific Islanders’ card count was four yellows and one red after Ravutia was sent off late when her frustrations boiled over and she stomped on Waratahs replacement Jade Sheridan.

“We’ve got to learn from this, a few discipline issues,” said Drua lock Jaide Coates. “We showcased what we’re capable in the moments of the game and that’s the annoying thing; we’re so capable and better than that.”

“But those yellow cards definitely didn’t help. We want to play with 15 on the field, so hopefully we can sort our discipline out and come back next year.”

Source: theguardian.com