Bridie McClure stars as Vipers' rookies shine in Western Women's Rugby League return

Despite a host of unavailable stars and a distinct lack of preparation Vipers opened their Western Women's Rugby League campaign with a dominant win over Panorama on Saturday afternoon, trouncing the Platypi 44-12 at Waratahs Sportsground.

The likes of Prime Minister's XIII back-rower Kaitlyn Phillips and NSW Country half Bec Ford missed the clash but Vipers' established players stood up to fill the holes and the side's band of debutantes weren't overawed in their first foray in the contact code.

Vipers draw on all of Orange's clubs and codes and while the likes of Em McDonald, Jacky Lyden, Heidi Regan, Karina Kiley, Bridie McClure and Lailee Phillips controlled the contest, a host of the outfit's rookie recruits made their presence felt.

I didn't really have any expectations ... but it was a really good performance and the perfect way to start the season.

Vipers coach Marty Lyden

Barbarians' league tag player-of-the-year Kasey Byrne was impressive in her contact debut, for instance, but none impressed Vipers coach Marty Lyden as much as hockey convert Madie Smith.

With a wealth of state, national and international hockey experience under her belt Smith's competitiveness and athletic ability was never in question and it came to the fore as she lined up as an edge forward for Vipers.

"Madie Smith played really well. She's not even playing league tag so it was her first game, but we put her in as an edge forward and she did well," Lyden said.

"I didn't really have any expectations considering we'd only had a couple of sessions, were missing a couple of players and there was a lot of new faces, but it was a really good performance and the perfect way to start the season.

"There's plenty of improvement to make and we're still in the process of teaching a lot of the players the game, but they all did really well and they all came off the field with massive grins on their faces."

Lyden went on to laud McClure's influence as well. After shifting into the middle in Hawks' league tag outfit in 2019 she was thrust into the halves to partner McDonald on the weekend, and impressed.

"Bridie was outstanding, she's had some experience in the contact stuff but I was really impressed with her on Saturday," Lyden said.

"With Bec Ford away we threw her into five-eighth and it's not a position she's overly familiar with but she did a really great job.

"There is structure and the girls did really well with it but we sort of said 'play what's in front of you' and it worked well, we'll just have to keep going with it now."

Although stoked with the win, Lyden said the only expectation within the group now is to continue improving week-to-week.

The win finished off a strong opening round for the entire Vipers club, they picked up wins over Panorama in the under-13 (50-16) and under-18 (34-nil) divisions as well, while the Platypi won the under-15 clash 26-6.

This story Rookies shine for Vipers in Western Women's Rugby League return first appeared on Daily Liberal.