VFL Women's recap: Round 1
St Kilda Sharks have opened the season with a thrilling one-point win on the road against the Eastern Devils in Round 1 of Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s.
A goal from Alison Brown saw the Sharks move ahead with three minutes left in the final term, with no more than 14 points separating the 2016 finalists throughout the game. In the end, St Kilda’s direct play late in the game provided them a nail-biting win, 6.5 (41) to 5.10 (40), as Callum O’Connor reports.
Pouring rain at Mulgrave Reserve was an unwelcomed sight for the Round 1 clash, with both sides missing key players to injuries carried over from the AFLW season. A goal to Sophie Casey saw the Devils take the quarter-time lead and they extended it by the main break to 14 points despite the Sharks’ attempts to control the play with more poised ball movement.
In the absence of 2016 Devils leading goalkicker Sarah Perkins, Bec Privitelli moved to the forward line and proved she had lost none of her forward smarts after a season in defence. Further afield, Samantha McGeoch was holding down key Shark target Jasmine Garner to ensure that St Kilda’s quicker, more attacking style was unable to produce any results.
After a quiet first half, the dynamic Brianna Davey was suddenly everywhere for the Sharks while Jenna Bruton became a commanding force in the St Kilda back line. Youngsters Brittany Bonnici and Ruby Schleicher – the latter making her debut for the Sharks – worked their way into the contest, and the poise of pre-season recruit Kate Hore turned what had previously been an arm-wrestle into a more freewheeling game. Third-term goals to Garner and Davey bridged the gap to just a point at the final change.
A bombardment of Devil forward entries over the first 10 minutes of the final term yielded just one goal to debutant Sophie Alexander. On the rebound, Garner swept across a pack to snap her second and cut the Devils’ lead to four points with just over seven minutes on the clock. The next four minutes were played in the Devils’ front half and it seemed they had done enough to get away with a victory. However, Davey and Laura Bailey combined to find Brown up forward and she coolly gathered and slotted the winning goal from the pocket to seal a meritorious win.
The match adds another chapter to a fierce growing rivalry; the last three matches between these two sides have been decided by a total of 10 points.
In other games:
- Geelong claimed its first VFL points in the battle of the newcomers, downing the Box Hill Hawks by 56 points at Simonds Stadium. Anna Teague and Cassie Blakeway provided tremendous poise and rebound out of the back line while former Melbourne Uni defender Bec Goring proved why she was appointed Cats captain with great leadership. CLICK HERE for a full replay
- TAC Cup Girls joint-best-and-fairest Chloe Molloy had a dream VFL debut kicking four goals for Diamond Creek in her team’s 69-point win over Seaford.
- Melbourne Uni inflicted Darebin’s first VFL Women’s defeat, claiming a 30-point win over the reigning premiers. The Bulldogs AFLW pairing of Ellie Blackburn and Emma Kearney were among the best for Uni, along with TAC Cup Girls premiership coach and Collingwood player Alicia Eva.
- VU Western Spurs defeated Cranbourne by 46 points, with the Eagles held scoreless in the first half. The Spurs led by 27 points at half time before putting the game beyond doubt in the third term, kicking with four goals to one.
*Photo: Kadek Thatcher