Saints fall just short in courageous loss to the Bulldogs
The Southern Saints suffered their second consecutive loss on Sunday afternoon, going down to the Western Bulldogs by 6 points at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval in a tightly contested match.
It was a beautiful day for football with clear skies, no breeze, and temperatures hitting the late teens as a passionate home crowd turned out to watch their Saints in action.
The Saints were aiming to get back on the winners list in what was a crucial clash for the finals chances of both clubs, as the teams sat sixth and seventh on the ladder respectively.
The opening minutes were played in the Southern Saint’s front half as they impressed with their ferocious tackling pressure, forcing frequent turnovers from the Bulldogs defenders.
Hannah Stuart’s work rate was excellent in the midfield, setting up multiple attacking chains for the Saints, but the Bulldogs held firm in defense to keep both sides scoreless after ten minutes of play.
Unfortunately, Natasha Morris’s day ended early as she went down with a suspected serious leg injury after getting caught in an innocuous tackle on the wing.
Minutes later, the Saints hit the scoreboard through Anna-Lisa Harris, who took advantage of a clever front and centre to snap her side’s first from 25 metres out.
Jayde Van Dyk was formidable in defense with multiple rebound possessions, plus a courageous mark just before the quarter time siren when the Bulldogs were pressing.
However, the Bulldogs pinched a late goal of their own to level the scores heading into quarter time.
The Saints started the second quarter full of run, led by Georgia Patrikios who looked a class above with her leg speed and explosiveness out of the stoppages.
Gabriella De Angelis chased strongly and took an impressive contested mark in the pocket, attracting huge cheers from the pro-Saints crowd.
Despite their early dominance, the Saints kicked just two behinds to start the quarter and struggled to capitalise on some promising entries.
The tables turned shortly after, as Georgostathis kicked truly for the Bulldogs from long range to break the deadlock between the two sides.
Trailing by less than a goal just before half time, the Saints needed a confidence booster going into the main break, and they got one through one of their most promising young midfielders.
Tyanna Smith’s superb goal from deep in the pocket gave her side a 2-point buffer, ensuring the Saints were on top heading into a crucial second half.
Similar to the first and second quarters, the Saints started strongly again in the third, kicking three behinds in the first five minutes to threaten to blow the game open.
An untimely turnover in the defensive fifty resulted in the Bulldogs kicking the first major of the second half through Annabel Scott, as they regained the lead by 2 points.
Van Dyk and Alice Burke were impressive in defense, repelling multiple forward thrusts from the Bulldogs to keep the Saints composed amidst a flurry of entries.
But it was Patrikios who provided the biggest highlight of the quarter for Saints fans, nailing a desperate crunching tackle on Gemma Lagoia to win the praise of the home crowd.
However, turnovers were costly again, with the Bulldogs capitalising on a skill error close to goal to extend the margin to 8-points going into the final change.
With all to play for in the last quarter, the Saints won the territory battle early, generating multiple shots at goal.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to break through for the much-needed first major of the quarter as the game started to tighten up.
After several minutes of disputed ball, it was the Bulldogs who extended their lead to 13 points with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
The Saints continued fighting, with Molly Mcdonald laying a bruising tackle in the backline to keep her side alive in the dying minutes.
When De Angelis took a courageous mark in the forward pocket and duly converted, the Saints had a flicker of hope with less than a minute remaining, but it was the Bulldogs who managed to hold on and record a 6-point victory in a nailbiter at WSTBBO.
Senior Coach, Dale Robinson said the Saints will take some important lessons from this match heading into next week.
“Our ball use probably let us down a bit. Our ability to be clean below the knees makes a big difference, that’ll be a key focus this week”, she said.
Robinson also spoke about the injury sustained by youngster Natasha Morris, who faces an extended stint on the sidelines.
“We’re just waiting on the scans but the doc thinks there might be a break in the lower leg. It’s unfortunate for her as a 17-year-old but we’ll make sure we get around her and support her.”
Midfield Coach, Shane Hamill was full of praise for his group but says there’s lots of room for improvement.
“Overall I thought we did a pretty solid job, Alex (Hynes) was good in the ruck and Georgia Patrikios gave us some nice run but it was our skill execution and awareness that we struggled with today”, he said.
The Saints are now 5-7 for the season and sit seventh on the ladder ahead of their must-win clash next Sunday against the ninth-placed Kangaroos at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval.
Southern Saints: 1.0 2.2 2.7 3.9 (27)
Western Bulldogs: 1.0 2.0 4.3 5.3 (33)
Goals: Smith, De Angelis, Harris
Best: Mcdonald, Priest, A.Burke, Van Dyk, Capsalis, Smith
Written by Jack Bennett - Sandringham Football Club Media