Cats scratch Saints hopes for a win in tough weather conditions
Despite a resilient effort on Sunday morning against Geelong in unpleasant conditions, the Southern Saints persevered until the final siren.
Photography: Darcy Allen
In a day of highs and lows the Southern Saints continued competing all over the ground as the heavens opened to challenge both sides at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval. With many forward entries from Geelong, the Saints backline continued to hold up strong, with Deanna Jolliffe finishing the day with 19 disposals, 9 tackles, whilst Tessa Boyd had 13 disposals and 5 tackles.
A game which was predominantly played at ground level, Lucy Burke, Jane Moore, Winnie Laing and Deanna Jolliffe had 13 marks between them, an impressive effort that helped slow down Geelong's play. Returning to the field from injury was both Co-Captains Alexandra Hynes and Tayla Kearns who brought their defensive pressure having 5 tackles each.
Battling the wet weather conditions, Geelong remained dominant with 32, forward 50 entries, but the Saints defence never showed any signs of backing down throughout all four quaters, in an attempt to level the score, particularly in the 3rd term. Saints evenly finished with Geelong in both marks (23, 23) and Hit outs (44, 44).
Jemima Wrigley (8 clearances) was influential all over the ground finishing the game with 19 disposals, 13 tackles and 8 clearances.
As the game got underway at Wilson Storage Trevor Baker Beach Oval, the storm clouds had fans and players alike hoping that it would hold off long enough to help the Southern Saints find a third win of the 2023 Rebel VFLW competition. Unfortunately is wasn't long after the four minute mark Geelong were able to find their first goal of the game.
The Saints backline got to work early after that with Jolliffe, Boyd, Moore, Hynes and Enno swarming around the contest, whilst Kim Ebb taking a mark on the wing to help put a stop to cats pressure up the ground. Once eventually taking the play up into the Saints forward line, Gabi De Angelis attempted getting the team on the board, although unfortunately only resulting in a behind.
The Cats fought back as both teams arm wrestled to keep it in their half of the ground, Geelong almost finding their second goal late, but was courageously tapped on the line.
Our pressure was consistent towards the closing minutes of the first term, however the Geelong backline and slippery ground kept challenging the Southern Saints in and around their forward line, restricting them to being seven points down.
Now kicking away from the Neil Bencraft Grandstand, the Saints continued to perform in a resilient and competitive manner whilst Geelong's impressive midfield pressed up their side of the ground in the opening term of the second quater. It wasn't until seven minutes in, when the Southern Saints hopes of staying in the game were kept alive, with an impressive goal from Lucy Burke.
A long kick down the line which was tapped by Sera Kaukiono into the hands of Burke broke open the game, with no Geelong representatives in front. Burke, understanding of the wet and slippery conditions kicked the ball, fifty meters out, landing at the top of the goal square sliding through for the Saints first and only goal of the day.
The rain returned again, putting both sides skills to the test. Eventually with a bit of luck and a hard working midfield, the Saint managed to bring the game back into their half of the ground and maintaining pressure until half time, only three points down.
Southern Saints came out at half time looking determined to roll over Geelong, and get over the line in what could be the toughest conditions of the season so far. De Angelis providing multiple handballs in and around the contest, giving at one stage Winnie Laing clearance out of the stoppage for the Saints forward line to get to work.
Geelong again found ways to dominate around the centre of the ground but it didn't stop Hynes at the twelve minute mark competing at a one on one contest at ground level, pressurising Geelong to stay clear of the corridor. Saints forward worked their way down the ground, bringing extra pressure at each contest, De Angelis and Jemma Webster controlling the play at the half backline.
Burke used her forward techniques also down in Geelong's goals, taking a courageous mark, assisting the Saints defence. As the conditions dried up once again, Wrigley kicked to Laing, seconds later receiving a handball back as she past, kicking the ball down the wing , creating an exciting piece of play in the third quater. Although both teams didn't score at all, it showed the competitive nature of both the Southern Saints and Geelong, creating an exciting last quater to come.
De Angelis started the quater well, with a free kick only minutes in. Kicking deep into the forward line, the wet and stormy conditions made it difficult for any marking contest, the ball was brought to ground by Kaukiono. Shortly later, being in dispute, the ball was sprayed out of the forward pocket by Geelong giving yet another chance for young gun, De Angelis a shot on goal. Though unfortunately hitting the outside post, the saints set up quickly to protect the ball from getting in goal range.
At the 11:36 mark, Geelong broke through the Saints defence finding their second goal of the day. This didn't stop the Saints from perservering in the rain, and applied pressure to the ball carrier at each contest. An honourable mention to Charlotte Ryan, who put her body on the line. Saints found it hard to find options in the final minutes of the game as Geelong's pressure was predominantly around the contest, however the Southern Saint competed until the final siren in the hope for a win.
Final Score: Southern Saints 1.1 (7) defeated by Geelong 2.5 (17)