Tough start for Rebels Women

The Melbourne Rebels Women have endured a tough induction to the inaugural Buildcorp Super W competition, going down to the Western Force Women 85-13 at Cottesloe Rugby Club on Sunday.

Teenage sensation Courtney Hodder scored six of her side’s 13 tries as the Force Women claimed a season opening bonus point victory in warm and blustery conditions at the seaside Perth venue.

The 17-year-old impressed in the first outing with six tries from 12 runs, which included 249 metres run, 18 tackle busts and four line breaks.

The Force Women raced out to a 21-0 lead after ten minutes when Vesinia Tuafa opened the host’s account in the second minute before Hodder used her blistering pace to score twice in four minutes.

The visitors looked to have settled in the 15th minute when scrumhalf Georgia Cormick booted the Rebels Women’s first points with a penalty after a period of sustained pressure to make it 21-3.

Hooker Tara Reed immediately responded for the Force Women three minutes later when she burst through the defence to score before Hodder completed her hat-trick in the 20th minute to make it 33-3.

The afternoon got even harder for the Rebels Women when flanker Sharlene Fagalilo was sent in the 26th minute for dangerous play when she desperately tried to stop Hodder from her fourth try.

Zakiya Kareopa scored the first of her two tries on the half-hour to extend the margin to 45-4 before the 14-player Rebels Women finally had something to celebrate on the stroke of half-time.

Starved of opportunity, the Rebels Women converted possession deep inside the Force Women’s half into points when a good run from Loanna Lelei split the defence to make it 45-8 at the break.

After a ten-minute arm wrestle after the restart, the hosts scored four times in 15 minutes through Kareopa, Hodder, Trilleen Pomare and Madeline Putz to extend the margin to 71-8 in the 65th minute.

The Rebels Women hit the scoreboard again in the 70th minute when the visitors showed quick hands down the short side to find Ashley Marsters, who did well with little space to athletically score.

Hodder completed her memorable afternoon with her sixth try in the 73rd minute after a ball back on the inside put the winger through the defence before prop Darryl Wickliffe finished the afternoon with a converted try in the final minutes.

“We played our hearts out here today,” Rebels Women captain Jayne Kareroa said post-game.

“Even though we got a red and yellow card today, it was an awesome effort from everyone who played.

“It was a challenge out there today in the heat against the Force Women but we’ll learn from this experience, keep up our team spirit and get ready for our next game.”

Western Force Women 85 (Hodder 6, Kareopa 2, Tuafa, Reed, Pomare, Putz, Wickliffe tries; Fell 5, 3 Cope, Pomare, Wickliffe cons) defeated Melbourne Rebels Women 13 (Lelei, Masters tries; Cormick pen)