BY ALEX TIGANI
It has been seven days since the Singleton Roosterettes claimed their first senior premiership in club history (scroll down for full photo gallery).
And the achievement still has not sunk in for most, such was the elation of the feat.
Having only played in one final during their first four years of existence, this season’s line-up finished second in the AFL Black Diamond Plate Women’s competition with an 8-3 record.
The season decider was set against Lake Macquarie; a force which had not lost a game since Round 1.
Roosterettes Kyah McBride and Tayla Cronin stood strong early while teenager Kalani Bates landed the opening two goals of the game.
Both McBride and Brianna Howard would then extend the lead to 22-points at the main break before Lake Macquarie responded with three unanswered goals.
Singleton captain Tori Cowburn was not worried.
“The message was simple,” she explained.
“The third quarter was ‘Lake Macs’, the fourth quarter was all ours.
“I knew coming into the fourth quarter that we had the wind at our backs and we just needed to slot a goal or two and then lock it down.”
Assisted by fellow defenders Paula Bates, Sarah Mousley and Sophie Breeze, as well as Hannah Cox thwarting her taller opponent at full back, the defensive quintet held their opponents scoreless in the final term.
Late goals to McBride and Howard would then capture the victory.
Fittingly, the sealer would be set up by playing coach and inaugural Roosterette Nadene McBride, the club’s hard-working senior president.
“The final siren sounded and as soon as I saw ‘Nads’ face I almost let the tears loose,” Cowburn concluded.
“One look let all emotions flow.
“Knowing all we had been working towards for years had finally come to this.”
Singleton Roosterettes 2.1 4.5 4.5 6.7 (43)
Lake Macquarie 1.2 1.3 4.6 4.6 (30)
Brilliance from Bates duo
Could you have asked for a better send off?
Applause echoed across Bateau Bay when AFL Northern NSW general manager Simon Smyth announced Kalani Bates as the best on ground medallist of the grand final.
The talented teen was the pick of the umpires and starred with two goals in the opening term.
Her recognition capped of a brilliant year which saw her win the league’s Coaches Award, Rising Star Award as well as her club’s leading goal-kicker award (28).
However, she was not the only Bates family member to feature in the best players.
Her mother Paula also had a game to remember across half back and the midfield for the line-up. The dynamic duo will now return to South Australia.
“This (club) is our community,” Paula proudly declared.
“It is who you keep in contact within the pre-season, it is the people that support us through the good times and bad.
“They are loving, supportive, friendly and kind and we loved finishing with a win for the club.”
A win for Nads
There was a common theme around the Singleton playing group on the eve of the grand final.
When each player was asked about their motivation in the big dance more often than not their playing coach Nadene McBride claimed a mention.
“To play with her this far and now for her to be coaching the side, not many people can say they have played footy with their mum,” her daughter Kyah proudly declared.
“Both Mum and I are probably some of the most passionate about footy and I’m so proud to share these moments.”
Nadene was also selected as coach of the league’s team of the year which featured Kyah, Tori Cowburn, Sophie Breeze, Maddy Edsell as well as Kalani and Paula Bates.
Most fittingly, she was recognised by the AFL Hunter Central Coast as a nominee for the James J Arnold Club Person of the Year Award.
(Dan Riley Photography)