THE Illawarra Steelers created their own slice of history on Saturday, when they claimed their first ever Tarsha Gale premiership, by defeating the Newcastle Knights 24-12 on Saturday.
Coach Daniel Lacey, who has seen his side gradually improve each of the past three seasons, and his side opened the match at Bankwest Stadium in perfect fashion, with two tries in the first five minutes.
The first came through Olivia Vale before Teagan Berry crossed, to make it 10-nil, which is how it remained until half-time.
But the scarlett and white's lead was reduced to converted try in the 25th minute when Newcastle's Caitlan Johnston scored.
Tiana Graham's four-pointer in the 30th minute helped extend the to two converted tries, following Vale's second conversion for the afternoon.
When Berry crossed in the 40th minute, Lacey and his side had one hand on the trophy, as the score stretched to 20-4.
In the final minutes, Knights' Carissa Harrison scored two consolation tries while a skilful try to Steelers' Mikayla Kidd sealed her side's historic first ever win in the Tarsha Gale competition.
"We were really focused in getting a strong start to the match, especially in terms of our completions," Lacey said.
"Against the top four sides in the competition, we had only completed at 60 per cent, whereas we were at 90 per cent against all the other sides.
"So in the lead up to the final, I tried to clear all the player's minds with some techniques aimed at getting them more focused and grounded, while all being on the same page - I wanted to take the stress out of the game and make the girls have fun, as grand final don't come around all the time.
"These were all techniques I had learnt over the past three seasons, as well as from my time with the Illawarra Cutters.
"To the girls credit, they used these techniques to full effect, by not letting the Knights back into the match - our desperation in defence was enormous, as it really galvanised everyone on the day, while we also managed to complete at over 80 per cent."
In what Lacey labelled as close to their 'best performance of the season', he highlighted the play of half Tiana Graham, fullback Keele Browne, hooker Rhiannon Tingai, player of the tournament Maddison Weatherall and player of the final Teagan Berry - who all produced numerous big plays in the win.
"When the final siren sounded, I had a sense of relief and just sat back and watched the girls' emotions on the field - their joy makes all our sacrifices worth it," Lacey said.
"There are plenty of similarities between this win and the Illawarra Cutters on in 2016, but this one is special as I was the head coach and I've developed a lot in the three years as a coach - it was a very satisfying win."
In the 12-point win, Lacey's side was headlined by Group Seven's Keele Browne, Meg Buchanan (both Milton-Ulladulla), Teagan Berry and Riley Scott (both Stingrays).
Joining those four in the side were Illawarra's Olivia Vale, Mikayla Kidd, Tiana Graham, Emily Andrews, Rhiannon Tungau, Maddison Weatherall, Chantell Tugaga, Ula-Mari Time-Cribb, Madi Singleton, Eleni Amone, Machaela Scutts and Nancy Misa.
"Saturday was one of the best day's in the Steelers club history," Lacey said.
"Across the board, I think the club is in the best postilion it's been in a very long time.
"Take our Tarsha Gale side for example, as we will have 14 of our 23-person squad eligible to play in the side against next year.
"Not to mention the players coming through from our Lisa Fiola side - it is very exciting time for our club."