Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe will host the first standalone grand final for the NRLW Premiership. The St. George-Illawarra Dragons will face the Sydney Roosters, both looking for their first NRL Women's title.
This season will also be the first time in NRLW history that the Brisbane Broncos will not feature in the game, after losing to the Roosters in the semi finals.
The Sydney Roosters are no stranger to the NRLW Grand Final stage. This will be their third appearance in the competition’s four year history, losing to the Broncos on both occasions.
This season has been a slow start for the Roosters, who have had injury problems all season.
Without Corban Baxter, the Roosters struggled in their season opener against the Broncos. More injuries in that match forced an even weaker side to take the field in the second round. Round Three provided them their first win of the season, at the cost of a Jess Sergis injury.
Facing the possibility of missing the finals, Zahara Temara proved the difference in Round Four, with a last-minute game-winning field goal.
In the final round of the Home and Away season, the Roosters had a chance to qualify for the finals on their own merit, if they took down the Dragons. They lost the game, and had to hope for other results to go their way.
Fortunately for the Roosters, they were extended a lifeline by other results, and had a semi-final against the Broncos.
With the Broncos finishing as minor premiers and being undefeated against them, the Roosters were heavy underdogs in their matchup. Down 16-0 after 16 minutes, the Roosters' season seemed all but over.
However, Isabelle Kelly seemed unstoppable, with 156 run metres and a try. Her play, along with Jess Sergis and Keilee Joseph, led to one of the biggest upsets of the season.
St-George Illawarra Dragons
Coming off the back of a wooden spoon in the 2020 season, the Dragons were looking to turn things around. With Jess Sergis and Isabelle Kelly leaving for the Roosters, St. George needed to find new stars.
In stepped 28-year-old debutant Rachael Pearson, and Rugby 7s convert Emma Tonegato.
Tonegato stepped up right away, breaking 6 tackles and assisting a try in their opening win against the Titans.
Round Two was down to Wollongong, and Pearson stole the show. She scored the game’s only try, as well as kicking three goals in three attempts.
Undefeated, and on top of the ladder, the Dragons faced the dominant Broncos, in a Round Three battle for top of the ladder. While the Broncos did take the win, a tight, competitive match showed that Brisbane’s dominance may be nearing the end.
The Dragons proved they could bounce back from the loss, taking down Newcastle in a dominant 40-4 victory, headlined by Emma Tonegato’s two tries.
Their Home and Away season finished against the Roosters, where they secured finals with a 16-10 victory.
The Dragons were messy in the first half of their semi-final, but fortunately for them, the Titans had many errors of their own.
Rachael Person also bounced back from a couple of bad weeks kicking, with the eight points off her boot being enough to lock in a trip to Redcliffe.
Keys to the Grand Final
The Roosters and Dragons are second and third this season for linebreaks and first and second for tackles. Both teams have hard-working forward packs, and will be looking to neutralise each other’s star fullbacks.
The Roosters' forward unit is young however, and while they’ve shown signs of being impenetrable at their best, at their worst they have been extremely error-prone, and will be looking to Origin forwards Hannah Southwell and Yasmin Meakes for leadership in defence.
If the Roosters' front is unable to hold off the Dragons, they could find the score getting ugly quickly. The Dragons backfield is incredibly dangerous, and fullback Emma Tonegato could either be a scoring threat, or set up her very talented wingers, Teagan Berry and Madison Bartlett, for long runs and tries.
The NRLW Grand Final kicks off at 12:30pm at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe.