Port Stephens is the toast of the women's rugby league premiership after having two representatives help the Newcastle CRL team lift the NSW women's trophy for the first time.
Raymond Terrace's Olivia Higgins, a classy five-eighth, and Nelson Bay's Bobbi Law, a robust centre who scored the team's first of four tries, made huge contributions to the Newcastle team's 24-10 grand final victory over Mounties at the weekend.
The decider was played at rugby league headquarters, ANZ Olympic Stadium, on Saturday as the precursor to the Canterbury versus Wests Tigers NRL clash, which was won handsomely by the Bulldogs.
Both girls praised the efforts of coach Rick Stone, the former Newcastle Knights NRL mentor, for his guidance, while acknowledging the integral role he played in the team's victory.
The 21-year-old Law will continue her association with the master coach, moving to Sydney to play for play for the Rick Stone-coached Roosters in the NRL women's competition, scheduled to be played from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, October 6, while Higgins, aged 26, will prepare for the country championship trials expected to commence in the coming weeks.
A large contingent of Port Stephens supporters, including a busload from Raymond Terrace chaperoned by the Higgins family, were there to cheer on the locals in scenes never seen before in the women's game.
"You would never have imagined such a big crowd attending a women's match 10 years ago," reflected proud dad and one of the Terrace Magpies's favourite sons, Craig Higgins.
"And the match had a lot of quality about it. There was strong defence, desperate try savers, attractive attacking raids, great tries and a perfect finish with the result still in the balance right up to three minutes from full-time."
Bobbi's mum Janine Law was equally as impressed with the wide publicity generated by the competition and the standard of football.
"It was very exciting for the girls and a real shot in the arm for Bobbi's confidence as she moves onto play in the NRL for the Roosters," she said.
For both girls, it was a dream come true in their first season in the full body contact sport.
The Port Stephens pair could not hide their delight, lifting the grand final trophy in front of their hometown fans.
Newcastle CRL went into the half-time break ahead 12-6 but that margin was narrowed to 12-10 early in the second stanza.
On the back of some strong defence, the Newcastle side went further ahead 18-10 before sealing the match in the dying moments of the match with their fourth six-pointer.
Newcastle CRL was one of the most consistent teams throughout the competition, and had to battle hard to defeat one of the favourites, Cronulla, 16-12 in the semi-final.
The last time Newcastle had featured in a grand final was in 2017, losing to the Redfern All Blacks.