Experienced campaigner Relle Donovan will lead the charge for the South Grafton Rebels ladies league tag side in the Group 2 grand final tomorrow.
Experienced campaigner Relle Donovan will lead the charge for the South Grafton Rebels ladies league tag side in the Group 2 grand final tomorrow. Matthew Elkerton

AGE OF WISDOM: Rebels aim for grand final glory

RUGBY LEAGUE: She might be two years off 40, but mother of two, Relle Donovan, is showing no signs of slowing down.

The South Grafton Rebels halfback is the focal point of their attack, and when the chips are down she is the one they turn to most.

While it might come from the age gap she has over the rest of the competition, it also comes because of her mentality.

Donovan is focused. She is driven. But most of all she is supportive of every single player around her.

"I think I am the oldest running around in the group, and that comes with a lot of maturity," Donovan said. "The younger girls are there to learn and it is great watching them listen intently and grow with the game.

"The girls do say they look for me for guidance, and I guess I carry a lot of that onto the field. But I have led a lot in my sporting life, it's not new to me. I know how to go out there and stay focused on the task and if that helps the other girls than great."

The Rebels are going to need all of her focus tomorrow as they aim to avenge last season and take out the Glyde Family Trophy in their second year.

 

South Grafton Rebels ladies league tag side. (BACK L-R) Tammy Nagle (Manager), Jaxon Sullivan, Karri Williams, Kirby Danvers, Carmel Walker, Alinta Laurie, Brooke Suillivan, Heidi Dalton ©, Steph Elliott, Relle Donovan, Angie Greenshields, Nicole Auckram, Callum Dalton, (FRONT L-R) Shonta Morris, Denise Taylor, Leigh Woods, Tanisha Martin, Sally Gardiner, Jozee Adamson, Briony Stevens, Shellie Long, Edwina Battaglini, Sam Duroux
South Grafton Rebels ladies league tag side. (BACK L-R) Tammy Nagle (Manager), Jaxon Sullivan, Karri Williams, Kirby Danvers, Carmel Walker, Alinta Laurie, Brooke Suillivan, Heidi Dalton ©, Steph Elliott, Relle Donovan, Angie Greenshields, Nicole Auckram, Callum Dalton, (FRONT L-R) Shonta Morris, Denise Taylor, Leigh Woods, Tanisha Martin, Sally Gardiner, Jozee Adamson, Briony Stevens, Shellie Long, Edwina Battaglini, Sam Duroux Contributed

The side finished the Group 2 season as minor premiers, and after dispatching the Ghosts in emphatic fashion two weeks ago, they are firing on all cylinders ahead of the decider at Geoff King Motors Oval.

One of the main reasons for the success is their focus and composure in the middle through Donovan.

The Coffs Harbour native is a product of the league-loving Hart family, with her father part of the 1985 Group 2 grand final-winning Coffs Harbour Comets side.

The Hart family was also integral in Orara Valley's success in the 1980s as well as the Sawtell Panthers'.

"I was pretty much born into rugby league," Donovan said.

Despite her in-depth knowledge of the game, when she first stepped on to the league tag field it was like learning a new language.

"Honestly, I thought I knew the game, but when I walked on the field for the first time it was nothing like what I was expecting," she said.

"I used to give it to my husband back when he was playing, but as soon as I had that first game I went to him and said, 'I take it all back, I know nothing, can you teach me?'

"He has helped me so much since then, so has my son. He plays AFL and he had to teach me how to kick properly. It is so special to learn from your kids."

SOUTH GRAFTON REBELS: 1. Shonta Morris, 2. Leigh Turner, 3. Jozee Adamson, 4. Heidi Dalton, 5. Carmel Walker, 6. Relle Donavan, 7. Nicole Auckram, 8. Shellie Long, 9. Sam Duroux, 10 Tanisha Martin, 11. Sally Gardiner, 12. Edwina Battaglini, 13. Denise Taylor, 14. Alinta Laurie, 15. Stephanie Elliott, 16. Briony Stevens, 17. Kirby Danvers, 18. Karri Williams, 19. Angie Greenshields, 20. Brooke Sullivan

GROUP 2 GRAND FINALS

Sunday, August 26 at Geoff King Motors Oval

LLT: South Grafton Rebels v Sawtell Panthers

Under-18s: Macksville Sea Eagles v Sawtell Panthers

Reggies: Sawtell Panthers v Nambucca Heads Roosters

First Grade: Coffs Harbour Comets v Macksville Sea Eagles

League tag kicks off the day of action at 10.30am



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