Amy Raphael has been there since Pirates' women's 7s ship set sail. Now she has a second successive grand final appearance in her sights. In two weeks time Raphael and her Pirates team-mates will play for a spot in the New England decider after securing the minor premiership with a draw and win against Armidale on Saturday. READ MORE: A 12-all draw with the Blues in the first game was enough to wrap up top spot despite having the bye in the final round. Blues' winger Penny Walsh scorched Pirates outwide to score the opening points, but Claudia Nielsen hit back with two quick tries, the second coming in the shades of half-time.after the Rugby WA rep took the quick tap from a penalty and ran away 80m to score and giving Pirates a 12-5 lead at the break. They held that until the final minute of the game when the Blues capitalised on an error as they tried to run the ball out of their 22. Pirates were though too strong in the second game running out 24-7 winners, Nielsen crossing for a double to follow her two tries in the first game. Speaking after the first game Raphael said it was pleasing to secure the minor premiership but they "still have a lot of work to do". She missed the early part of the season through injury but has been a welcome inclusion in recent weeks alongside good mate Phoebe McLoughlin. It was infact McLoughlin, and another young Pirates star Miah O'Sullivan, that got Raphael into rugby, encouraging her to trial for the Central North under-17s side. Successful in making the side, NSW Country honours followed, much to her delight, and surprise being only new to the sport then. One of around five of the current Pirates crop that were involved in the inaugural year of the Central North women's 7s competition back in 2018, Raphael said it is great to see how far, in just that short time, the game has come. Love sport? Subscribe today and receive a sports fan discount. It is "serious footy" now. And interest is surging particularly amongst young girls. Pirates have this year an unprecedented three girls teams in the Friday night regional competition, which, Raphael said is exciting and "makes the future look better" for the club. Several of the women's players are helping out in a coaching capacity too with Nielsen and Jacinta Cooper coaching the under-14s and Alice O'Connor and Camille Fernando the under-16s. Raphael, who calls home a property south of Scone, initially wasn't sure where she was going to play in 2020. After graduating from Calrossy last year, she is studying K-12 education at UNE, and living on campus at St Alberts. But then at the start of the season Pirates were lacking for numbers after losing a handful of players so she decided to pull on the black and gold again. Their fortunes have turned around since with COVID seeing a few players sticking around in Tamworth. They will play either the Blues or Glen Innes in the major semi-final, the draw helping the Blues' cause. They are nine points clear of the Elks but also have the bye in the final round.