Broncos score historic three-peat victory
The Brisbane Broncos women's side have done what the Sydney Roosters men's side couldn't and secured a three-peat in season 2020.
Coach Kelvin Wight's side consolidated their reputation as the powerhouse of the NRL women's competition, beating the Roosters women 20-10 at ANZ Stadium on Sunday.
The win was Brisbane's third-straight grand final victory since the inception of the NRLW in 2018.
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Dally M player of the year Ali Brigginshaw broke the Roosters' heart in the 44th minute. Brigginshaw produced some brilliant lead-up play, taking the ball to line, to put Talisha Harden over to score and extend the lead 20-10.
"Winning on GF day is the most amazing feeling, there were a lot more nerves today, it was a tough game. Roosters kept coming... but we kept turning them away, I was really confident in our defence," Broncos coach Kelvin Wright said.
"It's a great achievement, they have sacrificed a lot and they don't have it easy either, we demand a lot of the players."
KARYN MURPHY MEDAL
The award for best player on the field wasn't without controversy. The Karyn Murphy Medal was awarded to Broncos forward Amber Hall. Hall courted controversy in the lead-up to Sunday's grand final after she missed last week's clash against the Roosters for a hip drop tackle on Isabelle Kelly in round two.
Hall was also cited for a hair pull on Kelly in that same tackle but only received a fine. The ugly incident has given rise for hair pulling to be an automatic sin-bin during a match.
But other than conceding she was "nervous" after being charged, Hall said she was in "shock" to be named as the player of the match.
"I was just playing for my team. I've never been looked after the way they looked after me at the Broncos," Hall said.
There was another hair pull by a Broncos player on Sunday, Brisbane's Tarryn Aiken was penalised for pulling Botille Vette-Welsh's hair in the 46th minute.
"Naturally in the women's game there is going to be some hair flying around and everyone is desperate to make the tackle so sometimes a hair pull happens," Roosters captain Corban McGregor said.
While all the attention was on Brigginshaw it was backrower Tarryn Aiken who stole the show early. With the number 13 on her back but playing at halfback, Aiken cracked open the Roosters line, hitting 28km/h in the process, to create the first try of the grand final for fullback Tamika Upton.
Aitken did a great job in taking control of the left edge attack and provided a genuine running threat for the Broncos. The Broncos dynamo, minutes later, set up Amber Hall for Brisbane's second try.
"We spoke about that, we really wanted to start fast and we did that … they were chasing the whole game," Brisbane coach Wright said.
Roosters captain McGregor handed out a lesson in the importance of knowing when to use a captain's challenge - which her male counterparts have struggled with in season 2020.
Sarah Togatuki was ruled to have knocked in the play the ball in their attacking zone. But replays showed Togatuki had maintained possession after McGregor challenged referee Belinda Sharpe's call. The Roosters then posted their first point through Yasmin Meakes on the back of retaining possession. Meakes used her flashy footwork and strength to power past Brisbane's Julia Robinson to crash over and score.
Taking another bite at the cherry, McGregor challenged another knock-on call only to be denied the second time.
LET'S GET PHYSICAL
Roosters dominated in the early exchanges both in physicality and in intensity. The Broncos might have been the hot favourites but the Tricolours announced their intentions.
Good physical defence to start from the Roosters in the first set and then ran hard to bend the Broncos line in attack.
That steeliness melted away as the Roosters edge right defence in particular struggled to contain the ball running of Broncos playmaker Aiken.
But the Roosters refused to fold in the second half despite being two tries behind. A break from fullback Botille Vette-Welsh put the Roosters in prime attacking position, with utility Quincy Dodd making the most of it and burrowing over to score the Roosters second try.
Vette-Welsh was in doubt for Sunday's decider with a hamstring injury.
"She's a selfless player, she was only going to make a decision that was right for the team. She was outstanding for us and I'm glad she made the decision to play," Roosters coach Jaimey Feeney said.
After being named to start at prop, Chelsea Lenarduzzi actually played off the bench. The forward was not phased by the chance and played with impact from the pine. Lenarduzzi powered over to score early in the second half to extend Brisbane's lead.
The NRL's departing and retiring players parade has been a longstanding tradition on grand final day. For the first time in the history, the parade also paid tribute to the women farewelling the game at the end of season 2020.
Lorina Papali'i and Sarina Clark from the New Zealand Warriors, Lavina O'Mealey, Rebecca Young and Ruan Sims from the Sydney Roosters and Heather Ballinger from the Brisbane Broncos, were all part of the parade.
They joined male counterparts including 306-game Roosters veteran and premiership winner Mitchell Aubusson and Wests Tigers veteran Chris Lawrence.
Originally published as Broncos score historic three-peat victory