Hawthorn claimed its first Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s premiership with a pressure-packed 13-point defeat of the Geelong Cats in Sunday’s ‘Love the Game’ Grand Final at Etihad Stadium.
The defence of the Hawks reigned supreme in their triumph, with senior coach Patrick Hill’s outfit consistently thwarting Geelong’s attempts to score across the full four quarters in their 4.6 (30) to 2.5 (17) win.
* CLICK HERE to watch a replay of the Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s ‘Love the Game’ Grand Final.
Both teams were playing in their first VFLW Grand Final after joining the competition in 2017, with Hawthorn winning the flag from second on the ladder following the home-and-away season and having knocked off minor premier Collingwood two weeks ago to qualify for the decider.
Senior coach Paul Hood’s Cats reached the Grand Final from fourth position and, despite falling at the final hurdle this year, appear well set for their inaugural AFL Women’s season in 2019.
The Hawks drew away from Geelong across the second and third terms, turning a two-point quarter-time lead into a 13-point advantage at the last change – keeping their opponents goalless in the process despite the Cats generally controlling the territory battle.
Hawthorn’s Chantella Perera won the Lisa Hardeman Medal for best on ground, recording 13 disposals, four marks and five tackles as part of a back six that withstood everything Geelong had to throw at them.
Fellow defenders Meg Hutchins (17 disposals, seven marks and six rebound-50s), Jayde Van Dyk (17, six tackles and four rebound-50s) and Kim Ebb (10 and four rebound-50s) also proved thorns in the side of the Cats, while Rebecca Beeson (game-high 24 disposals and six clearances), skipper Emma Mackie (13 and five) and Mikala Cann (13 and nine tackles) matched it with a strong Geelong midfield group.
Future Cats AFLW players Phoebe McWilliams (13 disposals and six marks) and Julia Crockett-Grills (12 disposals) also made an impact for the Hawks.
Geelong young guns Nina Morrison (20 disposals and a game-high six inside-50s) and Olivia Purcell (19 and game-highs of 10 tackles and eight clearances) were their team’s most prolific players in defeat.
Madeline Keryk (16 disposals and eight tackles), Richelle Cranston (15 and seven clearances) and Maddy McMahon (14 and 23 hitouts) were similarly hard-nosed in contests as the Cats won the clearance count and generated 34 inside-50s to 24, but Hawthorn’s suffocating pressure – the Hawks won the tackle count 84-78 – helped minimise the effectiveness of a talented Geelong forward line.
When Hawthorn dynamo Emily Gilder slotted a set-shot goal 12 minutes into the final stanza following a free kick earned due to her team’s intensity inside 50, it extended the lead back out to 13 points after a Cats challenge and proved a fitting way to seal a premiership victory based on team defence.
— #PJVFL / #SwisseVFLW (@VFL) September 23, 2018
HAWTHORN 1.3 2.6 3.6 4.6 (30)
GEELONG CATS 1.1 1.1 1.5 2.5 (17)
Hawthorn: Luke, Mackie, Perkins, Gilder
Geelong Cats: Boyd, Darby
Hawthorn: Beeson 24, Hutchins 17, Van Dyk 17, Cann 13, McWilliams 13, Mackie 13, Perera 13, Crockett-Grills 12, Luke 11, Ebb 10
Geelong Cats: Morrison 20, Purcell 19, Keryk 16, Cranston 15, Burchell 14, McMahon 14, Blakeway 12, Boyd 11, Darby 10, Clifford 9