In the lead-up to the Western Women's Rugby League semi-finals, Wiradjuri Goannas captain April Townsend said starting well against the Panorama Platypi was vital.
The two sides hadn't met during the regular season - the Goannas had been forced to forfeit due to injuries and COVID cases - so coming to terms with the Platypi's style quickly was imperative.
The Platypi, the minor premiers, scored twice in the opening eight minutes at Oberon and then led 14-0 before running out 26-16 victors to set-up a grand final clash with Woodbridge.
"We only had one sub today and it was really hot," Goannas captain Townsend said.
"We thought playing in Oberon might give us some cooler weather but that was to be today.
"We were buggered with that one sub but we did go out there half asleep, which didn't help us, and Panorama started strong and in the end that was the difference.
"It's a hard time of the year for us. It's wedding season, a few of our teammates had babies, a couple of us had COVID and we had no front row today, since both of them were injured. It just wasn't our time."
Starting strong has been key to the Platypi's success in 2022 and it proved the case again on Sunday as the early tries for Poorsha McPhillamy and Demi Chapman sent them on their way.
While that was pleasing for coach Kev Grimshaw, a scrappy that finish that allowed the Goannas to briefly dream of a stunning comeback was a concern.
"We started pretty strongly, which is something we've been doing over the last few weeks. Then we get a false sense of security about us, where we start to pass when we shouldn't pass and we get lazy around the play-the-ball," Platypi coach Kev Grimshaw said.
"That puts pressure back onto us. Next week against Woodbridge we need to start strong again but keep playing at that level because they'll punish us.
"A lot of them haven't played a lot of footy though, so that's got a lot to do with it, and they need to realise what to do after we drop the ball.
"I still thought we were in control of the game virtually all the time."
After McPhillamy and Chapman scored early on in the semi, the Goannas failed to capitalise on chances of their own and were made to pay as Claudia McLaren crossed to extend the Platypi lead.
Joy finally came the Goannas' way just before half-time when Alahna Ryan scored, but tries after the break on back-to-back sets to Molly Kennedy and Jacinta Windsor pushed Platypi out to a 26-4 lead.
Goannas didn't shy away from the challenge ahead of them, and in the second half they scored through Ryan and Tarlee Roberts.
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