THE Muswellbrook Ramettes are seeking atonement when the Group 21 CRL Women’s Nines competition kicks off at Murrurundi on Friday.
After the success of the inaugural tournament last season, the short fast-paced open-age format returns with Aberdeen, Denman, Singleton, Merriwa, Murrurundi and Muswellbrook all vying for the 2017 title.
And, the Ramettes would love nothing more than to claim the crown, according to playmaker Shae Pemberton.
“Our goal, whether it’s league tag or nines, is to make the finals,” she said.
“We did that [last season] against Singleton and led 6-4, however we lost the match in the dying seconds.
“That was disappointing.
“So, we’re keen to go one step further.”
Pemberton, who enjoyed league tag premiership glory with the Ramettes only a couple of months ago, said the nines were “more of a challenge”.
“It’s totally different – from the way you play to the crowds who attend the games,” she explained.
“But, it gives the girls a chance to strive for higher [representative] honours.
“We’re lucky we’ve got the likes of experienced players Harmony Liddell, Sarah Hughes and Cressa Harris in our side, along with a number of newcomers.
“I think the Murrurundi [nines] team will be similar to their women’s league tag squad.
“We have a good rivalry with the Mavettes; it should be an entertaining opening round clash.
“I expect Merriwa [who meets Singleton first up] to do well, too.
“The Magpies had a terrific year in league tag, there’s no reason they can’t do likewise in the nines.”
In the other fixture on Friday evening, Aberdeen faces Denman.
Country Rugby League female participation officer Kylie Hilder believes the strong response to the competition is a terrific sign of the rising popularity of rugby league among women.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the demand from groups across regional NSW to host the CRL Women’s Nines,” she said.
“To expand from just a couple of competitions last season to now having eight running with more than 1500 registered players is a great indication of that.
“In recent times we’ve seen the addition of league tag in the Country Championships, the introduction of the CRL Women’s Nines and also the first Country Women’s team selected to take on City.
“It’s a fantastic time for women in the game with the amount of opportunities beginning to present themselves.”