This article was first written for and published by the Roar.
Round 3 of the Women’s National Rugby League Premiership saw the Brisbane Broncos get their first win of the season against the Gold Coast Titans.
But the blockbuster game of the weekend saw the Sydney Roosters hold their position at the top of the ladder, thumping the St George Illawarra Dragons to help christen the new Allianz Stadium. Here’s your talking points.
NRLW worthy of the best stadiums
What an opportunity for the NRLW with the Roosters playing the season opener at the new Allianz Stadium against the Dragons. Whilst it was all locked up at 6-6 at half time, the Chooks ran away with it in the second half. The final score of 34-6 reflected the Roosters’ dominance and in particular the class of Sam Bremner and Raecene McGregor, who continue to impress for the Tricolours.
After the game, a photo of some graffiti on the new stadium was circulating. The graffiti was courtesy of James Tedesco and Isabelle Kelly, the respective captains at the Roosters, making their mark with the score from the opening games.
When it comes to the growth of the NRLW there is plenty of focus on introducing more teams and paying players appropriately. These are both extremely important issues, but it’s also important that players be given the chance to play at quality stadiums with appropriate facilities – stadiums like Allianz and CommBank.
Playing in quality venues is not always the case in women’s sport. Earlier this week, GWG Giants AFLW player Chloe Dalton spoke about the conditions at Ikon Park, which she called ‘the most offensive’ she has ever experienced as an athlete. Just to shower in private, players were forced to cross the ground in ‘towels and sports bras’.
This is an issue faced across women’s sport and isn’t just unique to the AFLW.
It’s not just about the on-field experience, it’s about access to changerooms, too. Even the littlest things make a difference. At the new Allianz Stadium, with dedicated women’s change rooms, at least women do not need to walk into changerooms and see urinals front and centre with cubicles being considered an afterthought.
We talk about the magic of grounds like Leichhardt Oval, but it’s extremely important that our athletes be given the chance to play at appropriate grounds with the right facilities. Because right now, venues like Leichhardt are not up to hosting women’s rugby league at that high level.
The race to the finals is on
With their win over the Dragons, the Roosters have all but secured their place in the finals.
Whilst the Dragons and Knights are also looking strong, I am very interested in that fourth spot.
Whilst Parramatta remain winless, they have played the three tough teams in the competition; being the Knights, Roosters and Dragons. The Eels have shown tremendous improvement each week and were unlucky not to ice the match against the Knights.
Now, with their final two games against the Titans and the Broncos, the Eels could still slip into that fourth spot.
It’s not just the finals that the players have one eye on, with the Rugby League World Cup just around the corner and battles aplenty as players jostle for Australian jerseys.
The fullback battle is my favourite, with several options including Tamika Upton, Sam Bremner and Emma Tonegato.
Sam Bremner has been player of the competition so far, and outplayed Emma Tonegato on Friday night, announcing herself as lead contender for the Australian Jillaroos fullback spot.
• Monalisa Soliola made history, becoming the first person to score a try at the new Allianz Stadium.
• Both teams had some injury concerns with Holli Wheeler requiring scans on a collarbone and Sarah Togatuki struggling with a knee issue.
• Jocelyn Kelleher scored a double for the first time in her NRLW career.
• With nine tries, Madison Bartlett is leading the NRLW for number of tries scored.
• Jamie Chapman joined Tamika Upton and Kimiora Breayley-Nati as another Bronco that has managed to score an NRLW hat-trick.
• Rikeya Horne scored a double for the Eels in their loss to the Knights.
On to the next
The opening game of the next round will see one of the Eels or Titans get their first win of the season. For the Eels to keep their finals hopes alive it is a must-win, with their final match against the Broncos. The Titans are not out of contention either but have a bigger challenge ahead with their final match against the Roosters.
The Knights have a challenge ahead when they play the Premiership favourites the Roosters, and the Broncos will try and go back to back when they face the Dragons.