Queensland Reds women happy to take underdog tag into the Super W Grand Final
After last year's thrilling overtime Waratahs win, expect fireworks again this weekend as the Queensland Reds take a second crack at claiming a Super W title when they take on the reigning champion.
The Reds fell heartbreakingly short in 2018 when Waratahs captain Ash Hewson slotted a penalty in golden-point overtime for the inaugural title, and suffered another agonising three-point defeat in their round three clash, but Reds coach Moana Virtue doesn't believe either loss will hang over her side's heads.
"The feeling that we have got out of that [round three] game is that we actually did create so many opportunities we just didn't capitalise on it," Virtue told ESPN.
"So I guess from a coaching point of view, although it's disappointing, it's still quite pleasing. We do have the team and the talent to actually win, we just need to make sure that we take opportunities when they come."
One of the most dominant sides in the tournament, the Reds have lost just three games in the two year competition -- all at the hands of the Waratahs -- but that won't dent the Reds confidence as they head into the weekend.
"If there's any time [to beat the Waratahs], now's it. We've actually got a pretty good backline and our forward pack is pretty dominant as well. I think all we're really worried about is ourselves; making sure we still go through the process and make sure we don't get too carried away about winning.
"I don't mind being the underdog, it probably puts us under less pressure and more pressure on them, being the champions last year. I think they've got more to lose than we have really."
Undefeated since the competition's inception, the Waratahs are easily the favourites heading into the grand final at Leichhardt Oval, but Tahs coach Matt Evrard won't read too much into the stats or the form guide, believing the game is going to be a hard slog for his side.
"The girls haven't dropped a game in two years, but a lot of talk around the game, same as it was last year, seems to be around the improvements that Queensland's made and that's good for the contest," Evrard told ESPN.
"What's even better for this group is trying to prove that wrong again and step up to another level and keep showing that, and what we've been playing so hard for. I've seen all the hard work that's gone in, if they can put it together on the weekend I'm quietly confident."
While the Reds have dominated the stats sheet in attack, leading the way for points, tries, metres, clean breaks and defenders beaten, they've also been one of the most undisciplined teams in the competition. Conceding three yellow cards throughout the season, including two against the Brumbies in the knockout final, Virtue knows it's an area the side needs to step up in if they're to take down the Waratahs, who remain the least penalised side in the competition.
"We highlighted discipline a few weeks ago and it's getting better, but we're still not there," Virtue told ESPN. "Two yellow cards, down two players for twenty minutes, you can't do that in a final. So discipline is going to be important, and if there's one thing that came out of our review from the weekend, it's exactly that.
"Discipline, giving the ball away, loose carries; it was all from us, it wasn't from other teams putting on the pressure, it was ourselves. That's easy to fix, but it's just a matter of making sure we don't get caught up in the moment and do stupid things, because we can't afford to get caught up and give away any more yellow cards, especially in the grand final."
For the Waratahs, this game will be all about cleaning up the little errors that continue to plague their game. While they're the most consistent team in the competition and have conceded the least penalties, Evrard believes they still have work to do to reach their perfect game.
"It is funny, but the only thing that's been lacking from our game so far has been our errors. They're simple errors; errors that come from pressure from the opposition, errors that come from still learning our game. I feel like we've just spent the last five weeks really building our game and putting it together and the team just want to try and play a less mistake-riddled game.
"If we cut out those mistakes and execute how we want to execute in attack and we apply the sort of pressure we think we can in defence and our kick chase, I'm pretty confident we're going to be able to deliver."
With both sides stacked full of Wallaroos talent alongside some of the best up and coming players in Australia, expect to see hard hitting expansive rugby, with plenty of fireworks.
"I wouldn't want it any other way," Virtue said. "They've got a pretty good squad and they know how to win, they've been doing it for the last however many years, so to knock a team off who know how to win and know how to win under pressure, that's a big thing we need to overcome."