The Southern Saints went down to the Box Hill Hawks by 17 points in a drizzly Saturday afternoon clash at Box Hill City Oval.
Photography by Anthony Vella
In the final round of the season, the Southern Saints brought trademark tackling pressure and endeavour but couldn’t find the connection up forward to put the score on the board.
Coming into the game in fifth spot on the ladder, and needing a win to guarantee a finals berth, the Southern Saint showed urgency, effort and high intensity early. But the loss, and results elsewhere, unfortunately means the Southern Saints finish the 2023 rebel VFLW season in seventh place, percentage below the top six.
Tessa Boyd put in another phenomenal performance across the backline to back up her fan-voted June Player of the Month title, collecting 16 disposals and three marks.
Gaby De Angelis showed fight and spirit all day also collecting a team-high 17 disposals to go along with eight tackles.
Other notable performances came from Winnie Laing (16 disposals and seven tackles), Jemima Wrigley (15 disposals and 12 tackles) and Madi Capsalis (12 disposals, a game-high seven inside-50s and an equal game-high five clearances).
With a light sprinkle present at the start of the game, the Saints’ first meaningful foray forward involved Wrigley whose chip pass put Co-Captain Tayla Kearns into space but the ball wouldn’t sit up and the opportunity passed.
Capsalis displayed her physicality five minutes into the match, running back with the flight of the ball on the wing to force a contest, before bouncing up to lay a strong tackle moments later. A quick kick then set Abbey Tregellis away into space and her running shot at goal bounced just wide for the first score of the game.
Much of the rest of the first term was played between the arcs as possession was split 50-50, but a late Hawks goal meant a five-point quarter time deficit for the Saints.
Both teams continued to match each other’s tackling intensity and pressure with the high stakes of this pseudo elimination final evident. Saints Co-Captain Ali Hynes had a remarkable nine of her game-high 14 tackles in the first half, but the margin remained five points in the Hawks’ favour at the main break.
Kearns continued to battle hard up forward to start the third quarter, taking a strong contested mark but her set shot from the edge of 50 fell just short.
With the Saints starting to dominate the territory battle, De Angelis forced the ball to ground inside the 50-metre arc and her follow up tackle allowed Laing to win a high free kick from the spillage. Laing’s set shot from the pocket sailed just wide to the right.
Despite leading the inside-50 count 20 to 17, the Saints weren’t able to convert and a late Box Hill goal meant the deficit extended to 13 points at three-quarter-time.
With the season on the line, the Saints continued to create chances in the final quarter but couldn’t find the synergy to convert them.
The Saints and Hawks were evenly matched in terms of possessions, tackles and inside-50s but the result means the Saints finish seventh and just miss out on a finals spot. The evenness of the 2023 rebel VFLW season is epitomised by the fact that only one win separated first and seventh place on the ladder.
Stay tuned for details regarding the 2023 Southern Saints Best and Fairest, a very special event on our calendar.
Final Score: Southern Saints 0.4 (4) defeated by Box Hill Hawks 3.3 (21)
Written by Matthew Santini – Sandringham Football Club Media