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Wildfires' ability to adapt impresses coach Joey de Dassel in loss to Jack Scott Cup big guns

By Renee Valentine
Emma Bradford, pictured in action for the Wildfires in 2020, played out of position for Hunter on Saturday in one of a number of forced changes due to injuries. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Hunter Wildfires coach Joey de Dassel praised his side's ability to adapt quickly to injuries as they went down 17-5 to Jack Scott Cup heavyweights Sydney Uni in round two on Saturday.

The Wildfires had opened their third season of the Sydney women's premier rugby union competition with a 29-12 win over Western Sydney in round one and were locked 5-5 with Sydney Uni at half-time of their round-two clash played in Sydney.

But the Jack Scott Cup big guns ran away with the game in the second period.

"They are a good side and the clear benchmark of the competition," de Dassel said.

"We didn't have our best game but what I'm really proud of was our effort. It was massive again. We didn't quite do the little things right that we did last week so we've got some small areas of improvement on our core skills and just small aspects of the game.

"But our effort is there and I was really proud of the girls for our ability to adapt with positional changes."

The Wildfires sustained an early double blow with the loss of key forwards Mary Utai and Olivia Creswick to injury inside the first five minutes of play.

"Those injuries meant we had to juggle positions and ask a few players to play out of position," de Dassel said.

"Emma Bradford did very well. She's a flanker but was shuffled around and had to play the second row. Emily Freeman was good too. She started the game at halfback but after two minutes I shifted her to inside centre, where she hasn't trained and hasn't ever played and she had a great game.

"Essentially a lot of players had to play out of position. Jen Mauli was epic in that she stood up and played in the front row where she hasn't trained and hasn't played. She was a late inclusion and had a massive game."

Fullback Danielle Buttsworth crossed for the Wildfires' sole try.

Hunter will return to Newcastle for their first home game of the season next Saturday when they host Warringah.

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