THE pressure of an elimination final proved too much for Hastings Valley Vikings in a 15-5 women’s rugby grand final qualifying loss to Wauchope Thunder on Saturday.
It brought the curtain down on the Helgas season which coach Blayne West admitted had exceeded expectations.
“Only two or three of our girls had played rugby before, so to get this far is a tremendous effort,” she said.
“I’m disappointed to not be playing in the grand final, but I’m not disappointed in the girl’s efforts this season.”
West admitted it was the same scenario for both teams having to travel, but a 5.30am departure from Port Macquarie wasn’t ideal.
“Any time you have to travel it doesn’t help,” she said.
A late try to Michaela Elford provided cause for optimism for the Helgas ahead of next season.
The coach saved special mention for captain Angela White, inside centre Michellie Henry and loose head prop Brooke Mudridge.
“Angela always led from the front and we had to shift Michellie from the wing to the centre in a position she had never played before,” West said.
“And then Brooke was really good for us in the forwards.”
West said the overall improvement from her side had gone beyond anything she expected at the start of the season.
“We were just focused on winning a few games so it was incredible for them to do what they did,” she said.
“There have been a few that I’ve been blown away with their improvement and the level of consistency has been amazing.”