Sunday saw the long-awaited return of football to Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval and it was the Southern Saints who kicked off 2021 with an excellent result coming away 28-point victors in their first practice match against the North Melbourne VFL women’s side.
In true Melbourne fashion, despite it being the middle of summer, the teams arrived at the ground to wet and blustery conditions. However, no amount of rain could put a dampener on spirits, as both teams looked to start off the 2021 campaign with a bang.
The first quarter started slowly, as conditions were tough and players tried to dust off the cobwebs after a lengthy break from competitive play. As the quarter drew on, the ground dried up and Aisling Curley was able to capitalise on a skillful transition from the defence to the forward line which would have impressed the coaches.
Some strong tackling and defensive work kept North Melbourne out, however a few missed chances denied the Saints the opportunity to be ahead by more at the first quarter break.
The second quarter was played primarily between the arcs, although some strong work from Jess Matin through the middle and Isabella Shannon across half forward allowed the Saints to press. However, the North defence was resolute, and a late running goal saw the scores all but level going into halftime.
The halftime message for the Saints clearly worked, as they came out of the break with a spring in their step and took control. A cheap free kick against North allowed Jess Matin to open the scoring which was followed by a brilliant Deanna Jolliffe finish from a tight angle after a nicely constructed play. Lucy Burke worked tirelessly down back to repel any opposition attacks, and another late free kick and costly 50m penalty, allowed Jess Matin another goal to finish the quarter and open up a 23-point buffer for the Saints.
A great running effort from Valerie Moreau and some smart link up play opened up the 4th quarter, as the Saints looked to build on their lead. Alice Burke continued to provide great run and carry from half-back, and the Saints never stopped working, applying good pressure and tackling even as players tired.
The Saints came away 28-point victors - a pleasing result in the first practice match.
Next week sees the Saints play Williamstown for the second practice match at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval at 11am.
Written by Will Michael - Sandringham Football Club Media