The Southern Saints start their 2022 Rebel VFL Women’s campaign in stunning fashion, defying the odds at Victoria Park and defeating Collingwood.
Photography: Anthony Vella
On a warm morning at the Pies' spiritual home, Collingwood came into the season, and this match, unbeaten in their last 18 games and favourites to continue that streak.
However, from the first bounce the Saints dominated the Pies, with the final margin 20 points when the final siren rang.
We were led from the back by Grace Buchan and Ilena Gentile who both stood tall against a usually rampant Collingwood attack. Gentile finished with 13 disposals, whilst Buchan finished with a game high 25 disposals, 18 kicks plus five marks.
AFLW-listed midfielder, Jacqui Vogt, fought hard across the ground. She finished with 22 disposals, 15 of which came in the second half, plus an equal game high eight tackles (seven in the first half).
Livewire forward-mid Gaby De Angelis provided a spark in the Saints' attacking half, finishing with 21 disposals, four tackles plus an early goal.
Kicking towards the Yarra River in the first, the Saints had a chance inside the first minute to get the first goal of the match, but unfortunately struck the post.
It got tight and congested after that, but after a Grace Buchan interception she set up a Flanagan set shot, which she slotted to give the Saints the first goal.
De Angelis kicked the Saints' second after a holding the ball free kick, with that goal the final of the term, giving the Southern Saints a two goal lead heading into the first break.
Collingwood looked sharp early on in the second. However the Saints still held firm and continued to create pressure all over the ground, with two holding the balls inside forward 50 by Vogt and Tayla Kearney showing that pressure.
Nat Exon managed to get in behind and kick the Saints' third. After a rushed behind inside the last few minutes, we took a 19-point lead heading into the main break.
The third quarter was more congested and fairly even, with Vogt starting to take control in the midfield. But after slowly starting to gain some momentum, the Pies got their first and only goal of the contest midway into the third through Abbi Moloney.
A few minutes later Nicki Cormack managed to ping Katie Lee near the goal square and kick her first goal in a Saints shirt. That was the final goal of the term as the Saints took another three goal lead heading into the final break.
We continued to pile the pressure early on in the fourth and created chances inside 50. However we couldn’t capitalise on those chances as Collingwood started to again slowly get on top. The Saints, led by Buchan and Gentile, still managed to stand firm down back despite the constant inside 50’s for the Pies.
After a more even final few minutes of the contest, the many Saints fans at Vic Park cheered hard as the final siren rang to give us the perfect start to 2022 and to end Collingwood’s unbeaten winning streak of 18 games and 891 days.
Final score: Southern Saints 4.5.29 def Collingwood 1.3.9
Goals: O. Flanagan, N. Exon, G. De Angelis, N. Cormack
Best: G. Buchan, E. Nixon, W. Laing, N. Cormack, K. McCarthy, G. De Angelis