Illawarra Steelers move into inaugural Tarsha Gale Nines women's preliminary final

Grand plan: Illawarra Steelers players Keeley Davis and Mikayla Malaki have their eyes fixed on a Tarsha Gale Nines grand final berth. Picture: Adam McLean

Grand plan: Illawarra Steelers players Keeley Davis and Mikayla Malaki have their eyes fixed on a Tarsha Gale Nines grand final berth. Picture: Adam McLean

It’s my job to look for the gaps, and to hit them - Lilly-Rose Bennett

ILLAWARRA launched a spectacular comeback to be within two games of creating their own slice of history. 

In the inaugural season of the women’s Tarsha Gale Nines competition, the Steelers faced a 16-point deficit against Cronulla at Leichhardt Oval. 

But led by the lightning quick Lilly-Rose Bennett, who scored three tries, Illawarra surged back to win a thriller 26-20. 

“We knew we were going to come out and that it was going to be a hard game, but I think our girls handled it well, we worked really hard,” Bennett told NSWRL.com.au. “A few of those tries, they were pretty hard. It’s my job to look for the gaps, and to hit them.

“If we go out as hard as we do always, and the effort into our preparation at training, there’s no reason why we can’t go all the way in this competition.” 

Bennett is now the competition’s equal leading try-scorer, joining Canterbury’s Paige McGregor on 14 each. Watched by Tarsha Gale, a former Australian captain and pioneer of the women’s game, the win puts Illawarra into the preliminary final, joining the Bulldogs, who outclassed arch-rivals Parramatta 32-16. 

Canberra and Penrith also remain alive in the competition, as the Steelers wait for the grand final qualifier next week. 

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