Port Pirates to clash with Wauchope Thunder in 2018 women's sevens grand final

Back in the game: Port Pirates celebrate their 2017 grand final win.
Back in the game: Port Pirates celebrate their 2017 grand final win.

PORT PIRATES lost captain Ashleigh Cocking early in the season but it won’t stop them as they aim for back-to-back women’s sevens premierships on Saturday.

In a replay of last year’s decider, Pirates clash with a Wauchope side who will want to avenge their loss from 12 months ago.

Cocking suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament inside the first month of action.

Team manager Lisa Vogel said the playing squad had all stepped up and covered the loss of the skipper.

“When you lose your captain, morale goes down a little bit,” Vogel said.

“That threw us a lot and the other girls stepped up to the captain and vice-captain positions and we’ve forged ahead.”

They have also overcome the challenge of introducing new players into their playing group.

The introduction of teams from Bowraville, Grafton and Kempsey had seen the competition grow from last year.

As a result, Vogel knew the Pirates were the team everyone wanted to beat.

“We understand there’s a target on our backs knowing that we were major and minor premiers last year,” she said.

“We’ve just been excited that the comp has grown and we’ve been able to have more teams to play against.”

Vogel expected a physical contest from Wauchope.

“We know there’s going to be some hard hits and some hard tackles and hard contests for the ball,” she said.

“A lot of what we’ve been training for is that we know we can’t underestimate them.

“They’re an amazing team and we’ll have a hard-fought battle on our hands.”

Vogele said the key to Pirates claiming back-to-back premierships was on working hard as a unit.

“A lot of it is supporting each other,” she said.

“When you’ve only got seven players on the field you can’t leave anyone isolated and so we work a lot on working together.”

Kick-off is at 2.35pm at Oxley Oval.