Finals-bound Saints continue winning ways in dominant win over North
The Southern Saints returned to Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval on Saturday afternoon for a cut-throat clash against North Melbourne and secured a finals berth with a 38-point win in a powerful performance.
Photos by Tony Vella
The equation was simple for the Saints — a win and they would be into the top 6, a loss would mean it was season over.
A vocal pro-Saints crowd turned out to watch the girls battle it out at WSTBBO, with bright skies greeting the players on an ideal day for football.
It was a high-intensity start to the match, as North Melbourne took advantage of some early forward half dominance to kick the opening goal.
The Saints handled the pressure well as they were forced to defend for long periods of the quarter, with Tyanna Smith and Lucy Burke resolute in the backline.
Further up the ground, Melanie Bertuna looked dangerous with her breakaway speed from the contest as the Saints started to generate repeat inside 50s.
The crowd erupted when Jess Matin gave the Saints the momentum, kicking a miraculous soccer goal off the ground in heavy traffic for the Southern Saints first major of the day.
Co-captain Tara Bohanna did her best to capitalise, taking two excellent overhead marks in the forward 50.
Hannah Stuart was busy at the coalface to win contested ball and generate attacking plays for the Saints, who had the better of North Melbourne in the dying minutes of the first quarter.
Kayla Ripari was equally impressive, showing great desperation with repeat tackling and chasing efforts, and with seconds remaining in the quarter, it was Millie Peck who stood up to haul in a huge contested mark 20 metres out from goal.
She kicked her first of the afternoon, giving the Saints a 7-point lead into quarter time.
The second quarter was hotly contested, as the game was played mostly between the arcs for the first 10 minutes of the term.
Both sides struggled to generate many scoring opportunities, with some untimely skill errors letting the Saints down.
Bertuna continued her impressive work from earlier in the match, laying a bruising tackle to force a turnover whilst co-captain Deanna Jolliffe led by example in the midfield.
The Saints soon extended their lead through Gabriella De Angelis, who ran into an open goal for her first of the afternoon in a comical passage of play where the Kangaroos backline was caught off-guard when she quickly played on from a free kick.
Unfortunately for the Saints, North Melbourne responded swiftly, kicking two goals in quick succession to cut the margin back to a solitary point.
With North Melbourne pressing forward in the latter stages of the first half, it was Madi Capsalis who stood up with an excellent intercept mark to ensure the Saints held that lead as they entered the half time break.
It was a dominant start to the second half from the Saints, who came out breathing fire in their quest for a spot in the VFLW finals.
Despite earning some gilt-edged chances close to goal, the Saints weren’t able to capitalise, kicking five consecutive behinds in the early stages of the quarter.
Their forward pressure was excellent allowing them to generate repeat entries and put the Kangaroos defenders under duress.
Peck and Smith continued to impress in the third, with Smith’s speed troubling the opposition and Peck a focal point in attack with her overhead marking.
The Saints eventually broke through thanks to Bohanna’s miraculous snap goal from deep in the pocket to extend their lead to 12 points.
That proved to be the last score of the third quarter, as the remaining 12 minutes were played in a scrappy fashion with neither team able to generate much momentum.
With a finals spot on the line, the Saints started the final term strongly.
A brilliant line-breaking run across the wing from Ripari resulted in a set shot directly in front of goal to Tayla Kearns, who kicked truly for the Saints first of the quarter.
Bohanna was a class above at full-forward, marking everything that came her way, and kicking two consecutive majors from close range to increase the margin to 30 points.
Alexandra Hynes led the way with some deft tapwork, as the Saints controlled the general play for most of the quarter.
The sealer came through De Angelis’s second goal of the afternoon, with the Southern Saints recording a 38-point victory against the Kangaroos and securing themselves a finals spot.
Southern Saints coach Dale Robinson spoke post-game about how proud she is of the playing group.
“The resilience of this group has been on show all year and the way we went about our footy today is a testament to the belief we’ve built across the whole season,” she said.
Robinson also praised a few of her troops for their outstanding individual performances.
“Tyanna Smith stood up and was creative for us off the wing — Madi Capsalis had some great patches and I thought our voice coming through the backline was great.”
The Saints now conclude the VFLW regular season, with details of their week-one finals clash against Port Melbourne to be announced during the week.
Southern Saints: 2.3 3.4 4.9 8.12 (60)
North Melbourne: 1.2 3.3 3.4 3.4 (22)
Goals: Bohanna 3, De Angelis 2, Kearns, Matin, Peck
Best: Bohanna, De Angelis, Capsalis, Smith, Stuart
Written by Jack Bennett - Sandringham Football Club Media