Brisbane Broncos win third straight NRLW grand final

The Brisbane Broncos have underlined their status as the preeminent force in women’s rugby league, securing a 20-10 victory over the Sydney Roosters to claim their third straight NRLW premiership at a sopping wet Olympic stadium.

The Roosters enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the tough conditions, having use of the ball 57 per cent of the time, but the Broncos were cleaner with the ball in attack, scoring four tries to two.

Amber Hall — who ran for a team-high 147 metres from 16 carries, scoring the Broncos’ second, barnstorming try — was awarded the Karyn Murphy medal as player of the match.

The tricolours started the brighter of the two sides but it was Brisbane that drew first blood after capitalising on an early handling error.

Impressive halfback Tarryn Aiken scythed through the Roosters’ right edge defence, brushing a weak tackle before passing back inside, putting full-back Tamika Upton away to score untouched under the posts.

Minutes later, the Broncos were in again, Aiken providing another pass to the rampaging second rower Amber Hall, who ignored Shenae Ciesiolka on her outside to power through the Roosters’ frantically backtracking defensive line for a second score.

Meg Ward landed the conversion from the sideline and Brisbane led 12-0 after just nine minutes.

Brisbane Broncos women's players hug and smile at each other in a groupBrisbane Broncos women's players hug and smile at each other in a group
Tamika Upton (right) scored the Broncos’ opening try of the game.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Despite the frantic start, the Roosters continued to test the Broncos’ defence, earning back-to-back penalties and a repeat set thanks to a perfectly weighted kick by Melanie Howard.

Yasmin Meakes scored as a result of that pressure, diving over in the corner as the Roosters moved the ball quickly through the hands to the right wing.

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Another repeat set earned the Roosters a second try, Sarah Togatuki barrelling into the Broncos’ line with 15 metres post-contact to set up Quincy Dodd for a simple pick and drive from dummy half.

Zahara Temara nailed the conversion and the Roosters trailed by just two heading into the break.

If the Broncos were rattled by the Roosters’ fast finish to the opening 30, they countered brilliantly at the start of the second half.

Chelsea Lenarduzzi, who started on the bench, crashed over to finish a perfect one-two punch featuring another powerful run from Hall and a lovely reverse pass from Aiken.

Hannah Southwell attempted to spark the Roosters with two huge hits in the middle, the second of which forced an error from Millie Boyle.

Millie Boyle is tackled with a players arm around her faceMillie Boyle is tackled with a players arm around her face
Millie Boyle made a game-high 28 tackles in the grand final.(AAP: Dean Lewins)

But as the rain tumbled down on the players, Brisbane used its powerful runners to work its way back upfield with hard metres up the middle in the slippery conditions.

Ali Brigginshaw drew three defenders and put Tallesha Harden over untouched with a sublimely timed pass to move 10 points clear.

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Two uncharacteristic misses off the tee from Ward kept the Roosters interested, but handling errors at inopportune times let the Broncos off the hook.

A lot of those errors, just 10 from the Roosters in difficult conditions, were forced by some excellent defensive pressure from the Broncos.

The Broncos’ third straight NRLW crown comes as a result of the team losing just one game in the three-year history of the NRLW.

The Broncos beat the Roosters in the league’s first season in 2018, and then defeated St George-Illawarra Dragons in last year’s decider.

The victory capped a great week for Brisbane, following Broncos’ skipper Brigginshaw’s win as Dally M female player of the year.