After two agonising Grand Final defeats, the Sydney Roosters 2021 NRLW squad completed one of the greatest turnarounds in the Club's history to claim their inaugural title in emphatic circumstances.
With the competition expanding to six teams in its fourth season, the Tricolours suffered a hefty player turnover, with incoming Head Coach John Strange enlisting a number of young players from his Central Coast Roosters outfit, who would ultimately prove to be pivotal to the side's success.
NRLW 2021 Grand Final Highlights: Roosters vs Dragons
The young contingent included ten players on debut in the NRLW, and a further two making their first appearances in Red, White and Blue in the opening round of the competition, including star signing and strike centre Jessica Sergis.
While the Tricolours tasted defeat against the three-time reigning Premiers in the Brisbane Broncos, the seeds of a successful campaign had been planted with the introduction of a number of up and coming superstars.
A disappointing trip to Wollongong to take on newcomers the Gold Coast Titans was remedied with the return of Captain Corban Baxter in Round 3 following a fortnight battling covid-19, and her impact upon return was immediate.
Channelling the performances of the legendary Roosters sides of old, the Red, White and Blue powered through to a 28-12 win against the Newcastle Knights at the hallowed Sydney Cricket Ground to open their account for the 2021 season.
Kelly: "I'm So Overcome With Emotion"
They backed up their effort against the highly-favoured Parramatta Eels in Newcastle the following week with a nail-biting 19-18 victory thanks to a Zahara Temara field goal, with spirits high heading into the final round of the regular season.
A hard-fought battle against eventual Grand Final opponents St George Illawarra saw the side waiting on results to determine their fate, and the Rugby League gods smiled upon them as the Broncos took down Parramatta by 20 points to give them a finals berth.
Ironically their semi-final would come up against the very side that propelled them into the playoffs, and in one of the most extraordinary comebacks of all time, the Roosters overcame a 16-nil deficit in the first half against their highly-favoured opponents to complete a remarkable 22-16 victory en route to the decider.
Baxter & Strange Post Match Grand Final
Travelling to Redcliffe for the Grand Final against the Dragons, the Roosters once again overcame an early 4-nil deficit to storm home, with experienced campaigners Yasmin Meakes and Isabelle Kelly touching down in the second half, before rookie Olivia Higgins sealed the result with a solo effort with minutes to spare.
Debutant Joeli Morris emulated the efforts of John Rheinberger in the 1975 Grand Final by making her first-grade debut mid-match as a replacement, while front rower Sarah Togatuki graciously accepted the Karyn Murphy Medal as player of the match with a barnstorming performance.
Captain Corban Baxter celebrated her 28th birthday in the best possible fashion, holding the Premiership Trophy aloft as the Club claimed its inaugural NRLW title.
Sarah Togatuki Claims Karyn Murphy Medal
2021 NRLW Season Details
2021 NRLW Player Details
Fullback for Dragons is number 1 Emma TonegatoFullback for Roosters is number 1 Corban Baxter
Winger for Dragons is number 2 Teagan BerryWinger for Roosters is number 2 Leianne Tufuga
Centre for Dragons is number 3 Jaime ChapmanCentre for Roosters is number 3 Jessica Sergis
Centre for Dragons is number 4 Page McGregorCentre for Roosters is number 4 Isabelle Kelly
Winger for Dragons is number 5 Madison BartlettWinger for Roosters is number 5 Brydie Parker
Five-Eighth for Dragons is number 6 Taliah FuimaonoFive-Eighth for Roosters is number 6 Zahara Temara
Halfback for Dragons is number 7 Rachael PearsonHalfback for Roosters is number 7 Raecene McGregor
Prop for Dragons is number 8 Elsie AlbertProp for Roosters is number 8 Sarah Togatuki
Hooker for Dragons is number 9 Keeley DavisHooker for Roosters is number 9 Olivia Higgins
Prop for Dragons is number 10 Kezie AppsProp for Roosters is number 10 Mya Hill-Moana
2nd Row for Dragons is number 11 Talei Holmes2nd Row for Roosters is number 11 Yasmin Meakes
2nd Row for Dragons is number 12 Shaylee Bent2nd Row for Roosters is number 12 Olivia Kernick
Lock for Dragons is number 13 Holli WheelerLock for Roosters is number 13 Hannah Southwell
Interchange for Dragons is number 14 Quincy DoddInterchange for Roosters is number 14 Jocelyn Kelleher
Interchange for Dragons is number 15 Kody HouseInterchange for Roosters is number 15 Keilee Joseph
Interchange for Dragons is number 18 Renee TargettInterchange for Roosters is number 16 Tayla Predebon
Interchange for Dragons is number 19 Keele BrowneInterchange for Roosters is number 17 Simone Karpani
Replacement for Dragons is number 21 Aliti Namoce-Sagano
Reserve for Roosters is number 18 Joeli Morris
- Referee: Belinda Sharpe
- Touch Judge: Kasey Badger
- Senior Review Official: Matt Noyen
2021 NRLW Awards
Steggles Members' Try of the Year: Isabelle Kelly
Community Award: Jocelyn Kelleher
Rookie of the Year: Olivia Kernick
Players' Player: Sarah Togatuki
Player of the Year: Isabelle Kelly
NRLW Round 1 Match Highlights: Roosters vs Broncos
NRLW Round 2 Highlights: Roosters vs Titans
NRLW Round 3 Highlights: Roosters vs Knights
NRLW Round 4 Highlights: Roosters vs Eels
NRLW Round 5 Highlights: Roosters vs Dragons
NRLW Semi-Final Highlights: Roosters vs Broncos