Young cats show claws

The Parkes Spacemen Rugby League Football Club had its first team on the field last weekend, and it was the Women’s League tag team that had the honours of being the first for season 2017.

They joined 19 other sides from the Western Division area competitions to once again compete in the fast growing and popular Western Leaguetag challenge.

With strong teams from Bathurst, Orange and Blayney in attendance, coupled with the loss of a large number of last year’s squad, the team affectionately known as the Spacecats were expected to make a modest showing against far more experienced opposition.

In their first match, the girls defeated Burrengong Bears 16-0, thanks to a scintillating debut from wiz-kid Tyannua Goolagong.

From the famous football family out of the Condobolin area, Goolagong will be a favourite at Pioneer Oval this year and combined effortlessly with team veterans Demi-Joyce Winter and Emma Bayley to start the day well.

Parkes then defeated a plucky Canowindra side in front of their home crowd, and registered a third win against the Portland Colts side.

India Draper, one of many rookies new to the game, showed outstanding skill and vision in these two games, while representative star Claire Barber dazzled the crowd with her toughness and finesse that she has been well known for.

A final pool match against 2014 and 2015 Challenge Champions Orange Cyms would determine the semi-finalist and throughout the game it was all Orange.

CYMS had 75% possession of the ball, but to the amazement of the large crowd watching on, could not crack the Spacecats line.

Wave after wave was repelled, ending in a nil all draw and a standing ovation from all in attendance.

The gutsy Cats, led by Sami Afele, went through to the finals thanks to their perfect defensive record of zero points allowed for the day.

That earned them a meeting with 2016 champions and the highly experienced Bathurst st Pats side.

The Spacecats on the attack during their impressive start to the season in Canowindra last weekend.

The Spacecats on the attack during their impressive start to the season in Canowindra last weekend.

With 12 of the 15 Parkes players under 20, they probably weren’t expected to repel the slick combination of Pats, however Beth Magill, Alice Maier, Afele, Draper and Barber amongst others showed why the Cats will be a great team to watch in 2017, defending their line with desperation and pride.

Afele and Bayley made great inroads in attack, complemented by rookie Hannah Noakes and returning player Casey Patton.

With 50 seconds remaining in the match, Pats deservingly broke the Parkes line for the first time all day, resulting in a 6-nil victory to the experienced Bathurst side.

Again Parkes left the field to a rapture of applause and praise for their gutsy yet stylish brand of play.

St Pats went on to dominate the final 10-0.