Darebin, Geelong, St Kilda and VU Western Spurs enjoyed victories in Round 8 of Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s, while Diamond Creek has surged into premiership favouritism with a clinical 42-point defeat of Melbourne Uni in the clubs’ top-of-the-table clash at Plenty Park.
As Callum O’Connor reports, the Creekers led from start to finish, simultaneously producing their best attacking football while denying the Mugars the ability to do the same. From the outset, that combination of ferocious pressure and quick ball movement brought Melbourne Uni an overwhelming number of headaches in the 9.8 (62) to 3.2 (20) result.
Diamond Creek coach Scott Gowans dropped a player behind the ball in what proved to be a decisive offensive move as the Creekers’ forwards relished the open space. Chloe Molloy set the standard for her side when she won a two-on-one contest in the forward line to set up Diamond Creek’s first goal to Britt Grech. Ash Riddell, Shae Audley and Molloy all goaled as the Creekers raced to a 26-point quarter-time lead.
Already, Diamond Creek’s game plan was driving cracks in Melbourne Uni with Gowans’ match-ups negating the Mugars’ greatest strength. The tall timber of Melbourne Uni both up forward and rotating through the ruck was expected to be a definitive aspect of the match but Tanya Hetherington and Tiarna Ernst were denying Lauren Spark and Kate Shierlaw any aerial dominance. Superstar Mugar on-baller Emma Kearney was struggling to break free against Riddell while Ellie Blackburn had not shaken a mid-week illness.
Melbourne Uni jumped in the second quarter after being stung. Deanna Berry marked strongly to goal from the pocket and Shierlaw followed her after receiving a free kick for a hold. A courageous defensive effort from Maddie Keryk opened the door for Kristen Hay to kick her side’s third on the trot and bring the gap back to 15 points. Just when the Mugars were threatening, Creekers forward Christina Bernardi won a free for holding the ball at the top of the square just before half time to goal and restore her side’s lead.
Diamond Creek reasserted its control over the contest in the third quarter to snuff out Melbourne Uni’s hopes of a comeback. Molloy goaled twice in four minutes and Katie Loynes got in on the action as the lead ballooned out to 40 points. Things went from bad to worse for the Mugars when Shierlaw was taken from the field after being crunched in a tackle and didn’t return.
The match was won and lost by the last quarter but the Creekers didn’t allow Melbourne Uni any breathing space. Indeed, the Mugars scrounged a solitary behind in a barren second half. Diamond Creek sealed an outstanding win in which it executed a game plan with superb discipline and skill against a highly-rated opposition.
“Look, our structures were held really well, still a bit to work on,” Gowans said modestly after the game. “But it was a really good four-quarter effort – that was what we were most pleased with.”
In other Round 8 games:
- Darebin was at its merciless best against Cranbourne, kicking the first 12 goals en route to a massive 14.17 (101) to 1.1 (7) victory. Jas Grierson returned for the Eagles and was named best-on-ground for her role on the dangerous Darcy Vescio, while Katie Brennan kicked two goals on her return for Darebin.
- Geelong broke a four-match losing streak and kept the door to the finals ajar, cruising past Seaford 9.8 (62) to 2.3 (15). Kate Darby had a day to remember against the bottom-placed Tigerettes with a career-high four goals.
- The VU Western Spurs claimed a famous victory against the Eastern Devils to bolster their chances of breaking their finals drought. The Spurs trailed the Devils by 22 points at half time, only for Sarah Jolly to goal and tie the game in the final term, before Aleisha Newman kicked a behind to snatch the lead in the last two minutes as the Spurs desperately hung on to win 4.8 (32) to 5.1 (31).
- A blistering second-half burst saw St Kilda put Box Hill to the sword. The Sharks led by just two points at half time but the likes of Ruby Schleicher, Maddie Gay and Laura Bailey were unstoppable after half time as St Kilda slammed on 8.4 to nothing to win 11.8 (74) to 3.2 (20).