Swisse VFL Women's: Rd 15 review
An extraordinary burst from St Kilda Sharks forward Jasmine Garner helped spark her side to a 28-point win over a dogged Diamond Creek.
The win all but seals a place in the finals for the Sharks, providing their 11th win of the season, 12.6 (78) to 7.8 (50), as Callum O’Connor reports.
The Sharks were challenged all the way against the Creekers at Peanut Farm Reserve, with the visitors holding the lead late in the third quarter. However, a four-goal third quarter burst from Garner turned the match on its head.
After a big week for the club with forward Mo Hope and midfielder Brianna Davey announced as 2017 marquee players, St Kilda were caught out early by Diamond Creek’s desperate attack on the footy.
The Creekers, needing to win after their shock Round 14 loss to the Spurs, curbed St Kilda’s run and carry game. Injuries of key defenders Kirby Hicks and Lauren Morecroft left Diamond Creek exposed against VFL Women’s most dangerous forward line but in the first quarter the Creekers’ defenders dictated terms. Laura Attard blanketed Hope whilst the bullocking Davey was challenged by Dianna Haines.
A week after running with Darebin captain Daisy Pearce, Shark tagger Ellie George struggled to contain Stephanie Chiocci, whose blistering pace set up her side’s attacks. When Creekers on-baller Kirsty Lamb snapped a goal halfway through the second quarter, Diamond Creek were 16 points up and looking a real chance of causing an upset.
However, the Sharks finally woke up and turned the tables on Diamond Creek in contested possession. Emily Gilder and Tilly Lucas-Rodd spearheaded their side’s revitalisation with their pace through the centre of the ground, working the ball directly to give their forwards the chance to find some space. The pressure piled on Diamond Creeks patched-up defence, and when Georgia Harris goaled from a free kick just before half time, the Sharks had the lead despite having controlled the contest for only 15 minutes.
The third quarter again saw Diamond Creek burst out of the blocks, with Steph De Bortoli, Lisa Williams and Lauren Brazzale dominating the Sharks in winning fifty-fifty contests. The Creekers’ lack of a key forward target meant Shark defenders Phoebe McWilliams and Georgia Fisher relished the opportunity for intercept marks and gaining the loose ball. It took 13 minutes for the first major of the second half, as Lisa Williams regained the lead for Diamond Creek. But as they have done all season, the Sharks rallied when they were challenged.
St Kilda looked at their best when they got numbers around the ball. For the last six minutes of the third quarter they did just that and were rewarded by a scorching cameo from Garner.
Garner reclaimed the Sharks’ lead when a fortuitous bounce left her alone in the goal square but there was nothing fluky about her goal on the run three minutes later to give her side their biggest lead of the match. She took a strong mark to convert from the very next play and then, to the Creekers’ horror, slotted her fifth goal of the game after the siren from a marking infringement. After nearly three quarters of struggle and wrestle, Garner had single-handedly broken the game open to give St Kilda a 20-point final break buffer.
The never-say-die Creekers came at the Sharks with one last charge from the start of the fourth. Chiocci stormed away with the first two clearances to set up goals to Karly Cobern and Jess Cameron to slash the margin to single figures with plenty of time left. The symbolic final blow came when Hope plucked an impossible one-handed mark from four-deep in the pack to kick her first. When Gilder picked a tap-out to slam through her second, the Sharks had restored their three quarter time lead after soaking up half a quarter. Garner rubbed salt into the wound with her sixth goal to seal a victory in which St Kilda had defeated a respected opponent despite rarely having been able to play their best football.
For Diamond Creek, an uphill battle to make finals is now only a mathematic possibility.
In other Round 15 results:
Melbourne Uni pair Louise Stephenson and Jess Anderson kicked six goals apiece in the Mugars 128-point win over Seaford
Kirsten McLeod led the way for Cranbourne with seven goals in a 98-point win over Knox
The one-two punch of Jaimee Lambert and Sarah Perkins up forward for Eastern Devils - with four goals each - helped the Devils edge closer to a finals berth with a 50-point win over VU Western Spurs
Darebin Falcon Katie Brennan moved to 60 goals for the season with a haul of seven against Geelong in a 147-point win
Round 15 results
Eastern Devils 10.8 (68) d VU Western Spurs 2.6 (18)
Darebin 24.10 (154) d Geelong 1.1 (7)
St Kilda 12.6 (78) d Diamond Creek 7.8 (50)
Melbourne Uni 22.15 (147) d Seaford 3.1 (19)
Cranbourne 16.14 (110) d Knox 1.6 (12)
CLICK HERE for full results
Round 16 fixture
Saturday August 6
Darebin v VU Western Spurs
Cranbourne v Seaford *
Sunday August 7
Eastern Devils v Melbourne Uni
Diamond Creek v Geelong
Knox v St Kilda
*VFL Women’s/VFL double-header, Casey Fields, and video stream
Photo: Cameron Grimes