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By Zoe Hamilton (NSWRL)

Riverina Bulls will be aiming to defend their title when they take on the Newcastle-Maitland Region (NMR) Knights in the Women’s Country Championships Grand Final at McDonalds Park on Saturday 8 May.

The inaugural competition began in 2019 and all 10 teams returned to have their chance at becoming the 2021 Women’s Country Champions after last year was disrupted by COVID-19.

Top placed NMR Knights come into the Grand Final having outdone their opponents with two consecutive wins in the regular season. They secured their position in the decider after a 26-12 win over the North Coast Bulldogs in their Semi-final.

Defending champions Riverina make a return to the Grand Final stage having also gone undefeated during the regular season. Coach Andrew Hinchcliffe credits the players in his team, which includes local talent Tess Stains who represented NSW in the Under 18s Women’s Origin game in 2019, for their unbeaten run.

“Tess is one of our stars no doubt, we have many great players amongst our team” Hinchcliffe said

“We are excited and appreciate coming into the grand final in home territory. The competition is great to have… it provides a pathway for the girls to go on to bigger and better,”

“It invigorates enthusiasm in the region for women and girls to get involved in Rugby League.”

Saturday, 8 May 2021
NMR Knights v Riverina Bulls – McDonalds Park at 11am

Newcastle-Maitland Region Knights:
1. Taylah Gray 2. Robyn Draper 3. Caitlin Shoulders 4. Rhianni Cipta 5. Christa Smith 6. Nicole Stanfield 7. Ashley Harvey 8. Margaret Watson 9. Tazmyne Luchwitz 10. Sophie Buller 11. Sophie Higgins 12. Phoebe Desmond 13. Chantelle Graham 14. Amy Broadhead 15. Harmony Liddel; 16. Lacey Hickson 17. Emma Young 18. Jenni Mauli 19. Amy Waterhouse

Riverina Bulls:
1. Sophie Gaynor 2. Tommi Booth 3. Tess Staines 4. Elise Smith 5. Janjan Ravu 6. Bailey Porter 7. Jess Carter 8. Lele Katoa 9 Ua Ravu 10. Emma Hickey 11. Tash Clemson 12. Ivy Merlehan 13. Shannon Pike 14. Luci Lugsdin 15. Tarnayar Hinch 16. Sam Clegg 17. Ellie Darrow 18. Vanessa Richards