WHEN it comes to women's tackle, the Muswellbrook District Junior Rugby League Football Club is knocking over its highly-fancied rivals on a regular basis in the Newcastle-based competition.
The under-14s sit atop of the ladder, and are yet to taste defeat, while the under-16s occupy second position after chalking up seven victories.
The younger side maintained its unbeaten streak at the weekend, accounting for West Newcastle 20-16 in a bruising encounter.
"That was our most physical game so far," coach Al Baker admitted.
"Even though we had six players out, we still managed a gutsy win."
The under-14s, boasting a 384-52 for and against record, had crushed Dudley Redhead (54-0), East Maitland (62-0), West Maitland (22-16), Waratah Mayfield (50-8), Cessnock Minor RL (86-0), Raymond Terrace (34-12) and Swansea (56-0) before last Saturday's encounter.
But, the results haven't shocked Baker.
"Perseverance is the key," he said.
"When I started coaching them last year, I wasn't sure how it [tackle] would be received.
"However, the girls wanted to learn - they embraced the concept.
"We enjoyed a positive introduction to the format in 2018.
"So, I knew we'd come good.
"To be honest, I'm not that surprised they're doing so well.
"I could see we were building into something special.
"In fact, they wanted to train harder, just like the boys.
"They deserve to be where they are."
The under-16s, meanwhile, suffered a slight hiccup in round nine, losing the top of the table clash to West Newcastle 18-16.
It came on the back of strong performances against Raymond Terrace (38-12), East Maitland (12-8), Raymond Terrace (46-28), Cessnock (38-16), South Lakes (52-10) and Kincumber (54-20), as well as two forfeits.
"That's the first time we've been tested," coach Dave Smith said.
"So, it was a good hit-out for the girls.
"They never gave up and showed great determination.
"You never like being beaten, but I'm proud they tried right to the end.
"They'll learn from that."
And, Smith is confident the youngsters will return to the winner's circle straight away.
"I'm really happy with how they're going, especially playing in a Newcastle comp," he said.
"We're pretty much on the money though.
"We just need to refine a few things.
"However, the girls have gelled as a group; they're working as a team.
"The pleasing aspect is that they've developed along the way, too.
"They are a good bunch of kids.
"All of them have come through touch and league tag, so the skills are definitely there.
"Tackling hasn't fazed them at all."
The two outfits will face Macquarie United and Cessnock respectively at Muswellbrook's Olympic Park on Saturday, June 22, with games kicking off at 10.10am and 11.10am.
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