The Goulburn Women's rugby side spent the whole second half just one converted try away from victory against Royals, but were unable to close the gap, losing by 17-12 to Royals.
In a very disjointed game, Goulburn took to the field with only 12 players with six players racing towards Phillip Oval after playing in a competing rugby league fixture.
However, the rules of that competition required Royals to match those numbers and so for 25 minutes the two sides battled it out 12 against 12.
While the match stayed locked up midfield for the bulk of that period, Royals capitalised well on the scoring opportunities they were presented with and were three tries or 17-0 ahead.
Then came the cavalry, and with the arrival of the missing players, both sides were able to boost their on-field numbers. Bolstered by the inclusion of missing players, Goulburn ran in two quick tries in the last ten minutes of the first half to reduce the gap to 17-12, looking ready to seize control of the match.
But that's where the score stayed.
In a scoreless second half, Goulburn first repelled a lengthy raid on their line in which numerous try-scoring attempts by Royals were denied by sterling defence.
After absorbing more than ten minutes of this, and with ball finally in hand, the Reds had the opportunity to pick up where the second half had finished off but, try as they might, weren't able to mount a successful attack.
The Goulburn women rugby'd quite well at the lineout and breakdown but basic ball handling errors and sub-optimal decision making undid much of this.
Misdirected passes, passes to team-mates who were standing flat-footed, unforced dropped ball and cross-field running frequently cost Goulburn when they were in a strong attacking position and trying to build momentum.
Goulburn held a slight advantage in both possession and territory for the second half, but were unable to convert it.
The final 10 minutes of the match saw Goulburn camped in the Royals quarter where they repeatedly peppered their line, but while they challenged Royals in that last section, Royals proved equal to that challenge and held on for a 17-12 win.
While they picked up a bonus point for finishing within seven points of Royals, for Goulburn, it was one that got away.
The poor preparation enforced by late-arriving troops, the fact that those troops were arriving leg-weary from having played a game and the fact Goulburn had to play one player down once the late arrivals got there due to requiring uncontested scrums were definitely mitigating factors, however there are always factors and the game was there to be taken.
Best and fairest players were Kelsey Walsh (3), Lyndal Morris (2), Amelia Vitek (1) and Josephine O'Brien (1), with Walsh also named Players Player.
The women now have a weekend off and will join the reserve grade side and the Under 18s on 19 June for their next round on Poidevin Oval.
Royals 17 (Lucy Monaghan, Ella Boundy, Laura Devereux tries, Bianca Francis conversion) bt Goulburn 12 (Amelia Vitek, Bella Sheen tries, Amelia Vitek conversion).
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