The pride has been put back into the Roosters NRLW jersey, according to coach Jamie Feeney despite his players having to deal with a second grand final loss to the Broncos in two years.
Feeney was enjoying his first year with the Tricolours, who didn’t win a game last year. But they bounced back in 2020 with wins over the Dragons and Warriors and then pushed the Broncos early in the decider before dropping away in the second half and losing 20-10.
“We can take away pride and confidence from that [game],” Feeney said, acknowledging the Roosters were their own worst enemies in the second half, where they made the majority of their 10 errors for the game.
“We have to learn from the errors we made at crucial times. We got given opportunities and we sort of basically handed them straight back. But I’ve got to rap them for effort and turning up to come back from 12-0 down.”
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The education from losing the match, which was in the balance at half-time (12-10 to Broncos), would come in finding out how to defend dropped balls, knock-ons, passes going to ground.
“Defending our errors haven’t been great. I don’t know if we dwell on them out there, just have things in our head, but you’re going to get errors in a game – we just didn’t get it right.”
Captain Corban McGregor put her hand up in the mistake department, knocking on from dummy-half and then passing behind her winger Shanice Parker with the Broncos line just a couple of metres away.
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But McGregor said the heart shown by the Roosters meant they would be “bigger and better” in season 2021.
“This year there was a lot of belief and it was great to get Feens on board. He brought some new systems and has been awesome for us,” she said. “We seemed to have the right core of girls and they’ll be there again next year.
“This year we really wanted to make a change and show the Roosters had a lot of quality … we wanted to bring that pride back. I’ve enjoyed every minute in the journey with this team.”
Feeney hopes to be back next year – although no contract has been signed yet – because he knows how a grand final defeat can burn.
“Eight of them were there in 2018 (grand final loss to Broncos) so the fire’s in the belly for me and in the girls as well. We do it all next year and hopefully we do it in a longer competition,” he said, expecting the NRLW season to be extended in terms of match numbers and clubs.
One of those eight was second-rower Sarah Togatuki, who rued the missed chances close to the Broncos line.
“The Broncos girls were really good in their ‘D’ coming out of their zone – they proved hard to beat again,” Togatuki said.
Match statistics showed the Roosters had more tackle busts (19-17), ran further metres (1019 to 918), enjoyed more penalties (6-3) but still couldn’t get the job done.
“We had everything going our way for large parts but our execution let us down,” she said, referring to the 10 errors compared with the Broncos' seven.
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Togatuki at least has some light at the end of the tunnel. She’s been included in NSW coach Andrew Patmore’s extended squad for the Women’s State of Origin game at Sunshine Coast Stadium on November 15.
“Obviously with the Broncos girls, the majority of them are Queensland players so I think I did a good job against them; put a big-enough performance forward against some of their big names.”
Togatuki ran 102 metres in 48 minutes, made 56 post-contact metres, and 20 tackles.