Devils women stay unbeaten after star's brilliant hat-trick
RUGBY LEAGUE: The inaugural Gympie Devils women proved they were up for the fight to stay undefeated and atop the league table when they won a tense contest against Maroochydore under lights at Jack Stokes Oval on Friday night.
The two sides wrestled for momentum for most of the first half before the Devils drew first blood when halfback Peta Dray crossed the line and placed the ball under the posts, setting up an easy conversion and a 6-0 lead at the break.
Swans fullback Codi Dalley led her side's response to create a neck-and-neck battle for supremacy at the business end, as Maroochydore kept the Devils from adding to their score and threatened to respond with potent attacking sets of their own.
It was Dalley who provided perhaps the most scintillating moment of the game, but also a major turning point to her side's detriment.
Breaking tackles and busting through the Devils' defence, the speedy Swan ran the length of the field and crossed for a certain try, only to fail to place the ball down and keep the margin at six.
The Devils capitalised on their opponents' missed opportunity, with Dray providing an eye-catching run of her own to score her second try and put Gympie up 12-0.
The home side seemed to have the bigger tank, taking a firm hold of the momentum late in the game to put the result beyond doubt.
Player of the Match Dray completed a brilliant hat-trick with her third try under the posts late on, and prop Elisha Young shrugged off multiple defenders to score at the final hooter and complete the 22-0 victory.
Dray said the Devils were "thrilled” to be undefeated after four games.
"(Maroochydore) were a tough side to crack but I feel it was made harder than it needed to be with our lack of experience, however our sheer drive and determination made up for it with some outstanding defence to keep them off the scoreboard,” she said.
"Having just started as a club and having so many girls new to the sport we couldn't be happier with our form.”
Dray, who has already pulled on Sunshine Coast Falcons colours in her first year playing the sport, said she was hoping to use her impressive start as a building block for the future.
"(A hat-trick is) more than I could ever ask for or want in a game of footy, the team win is all we ever chase,” she said.
"Being my first season of league I am slowly finding my feet and understanding my job as halfback. The recent chance to play for the ... Falcons at the 47th Battalion carnival last weekend helped to improve my knowledge of the game and give me more confidence back at the club. I hope to keep improving from here.
"The girls are such an amazing bunch to be a part of. We train hard and are united with the same end goal to come out on top at the end. I feel we will continue to be a tough side to beat.”