Rebecca’s Ballymore excitement inspires team for final quest
IPSWICH Rangers hope the Ballymore buzz will inspire them when the club's women warriors have another shot at Redlands in next weekend's grand final.
Battling injury and player unavailability, Rangers qualified for the season decider by beating Logan City Saints 17-12 in Saturday's preliminary final at Everton Park.
It was a tenacious rugby effort with just 10 field players and one on the bench.
Backing up against the powerful Redlands side in Saturday's grand final is a daunting task as head coach Niccy Muller rallies to secure as many players as she can this week.
However, Muller said one of her dedicated charges typified what the grand final means.
Second rower Rebecca de Graaf grabbed Muller's arm tightly after the team's latest win, declaring her excitement at the prospect of playing at tradition-rich Ballymore.
"A lot of these girls have never been to a final and some have never been to a final at Ballymore ever,'' Muller said.
For older players like de Graaf, it is especially momentous.
"She gives her all for us every game and just to hear that yesterday that it's her first final at 46 years of age and she's that excited,'' the coach said.
While her team has been hit hard in recent weeks, Muller was eager to field the strongest line-up she can against the only team to have beaten Rangers this season.
Muller was hoping Central Queensland miner and team captain Courtney Robinson could be granted permission to play in the grand final.
The dedicated coach was also waiting to see if valuable second rower Aria Albury was available after completing her police carnival commitments.
Having that vital duo back, along with players involved in Norths Tigers Ipswich Open rugby league side, will be crucial for Rangers.
That is especially after Rangers also lost forward Latoya Geebung after she suffered a hyperextension of her knee at training.
"Getting those two (Robinson and Albury) back, the girls will really play their hearts out for all those girls that are now finished for the whole season but have turned up to training, have turned up for games,'' Muller said.
The depleted Rangers faced another challenge in Saturday's final as Logan scored a couple of late tries to threaten Ipswich's lead.
"It was quite scary for us, nearly the end of our season,'' Muller said.
"They held on and dug deep and didn't give up until the end.''
Despite losing players at the wrong stage of the season, Muller saw promising signs for women's rugby in the area.
"It's only the second year for the women, so it's one (grand final) out of two so they are quite stoked about it,'' Muller said, eager to continue building a strong culture at the club.
"It is rewarding as well for myself just to know that we have got the team there.
"The club has been quite supportive to get those girls there to the grand final.
"They have worked hard, got a lot of injuries but big one next week so we'll just do some easy prep, the one percenters this week.''
The Rangers women are planning to cheer on the club's Normanby Cup competition men in their grand final at Woodend Park on Friday night.
They hope the support is returned at Saturday's Ballymore clash.
"We'll make sure we all get together on Friday and go and support the boys just to try and keep that team connection with the girls,'' Muller said.
"There will plenty of nerves come Saturday because it's grand final but more nerves the fact that they are at Ballymore, which is quite a big stage and quite a big field.''