Southern Saints defeat Port Melbourne in gutsy performance
The Southern Saints continued their winning ways at ETU Stadium on Saturday afternoon defeating second placed Port Melbourne by 27-points to solidify their spot in the top six.
Photos by Tony Vella
A vocal crowd turned out to watch the teams do battle in what was a crucial game on an overcast day for both teams.
The pressure was on, as the Saints were trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since round 6.
It was high-tempo football to start the first quarter, with the Saints doing most of the early attacking.
The breakthrough came from Tahlia Meyer, who soccered the ball off the ground in the goal square to kick the Saints' first major of the match.
Led by Hannah Stuart, the Saints midfielders were on top early and won several key clearances.
The Saints forward pressure was on show early, with several bone crunching tackles preventing Port Melbourne from exiting the back half.
The Saints capitalised through Tara Bohanna who continued her impressive form with a contested mark and goal just before the siren to give her team a 20-point quarter time lead.
The second quarter saw the momentum shift, as Port Melbourne burst out of the blocks with two consecutive goals through Emily Harley and Holly Bailey.
However, the Saints were up to the challenge as their defensive unit stood up against several attacking thrusts from the Borough.
In the forward half, Meyer was involved in several attacking plays and looked to trouble Port Melbourne with her speed.
The game was being played between the arcs at a frenetic pace, and when Madi Capsalis broke the deadlock with a 35-metre set shot goal, it was all the Saints for the remainder of the second term.
The Saints extended their lead to 19-points, after Bohanna kicked her second giving them a solid platform heading into the main break.
It was all to play for in the second half as the Saints looked to entrench themselves in the top six.
They got the fast start through Rebecca Neaves, who kicked a long-range goal to settle the nerves.
The Borough tried to apply some pressure of their own with several repeat inside 50s, but were stopped by an inspirational Alexandra Hynes who laid a brilliant rundown tackle close to goal.
The Saints looked dangerous whenever they moved the ball forward and were rewarded with a 36-point lead when Clara Fitzpatrick snapped a sharp chance in heavy traffic.
The margin was cut to 30 points at the final change courtesy of a late 50 metre penalty to the Borough, but the Saints were still well and truly on top.
It was a high intensity start to the final quarter, as Alice Burke impressed with several intercept marks in the backline for the Saints.
Unfortunately, the Borough kicked the crucial first goal through Maddy Brancatisano to keep her team’s hopes alive.
But the Saints stood tall to maintain their lead and not concede another score for the remainder of the match.
The Saints controlled play in the final five minutes to record an exceptional 27-point victory against the highly rated Port Melbourne.
Midfield coach, Shane Hamill was full of praise for his troops for outworking their Port Melbourne opponents.
“It was a pretty good performance from most of the mids today. Burkey (Alice Burke) did a great job for us today with her tackling pressure and Alex (Hynes), in the ruck, did a fantastic job,” he said.
Senior Coach, Dale Robinson said the win was a confidence booster for the Saints as they enter the final month of the regular season.
“This is really important — it gives the girls further belief that they can match it with the teams at the top,” she said.
“But most importantly, just to build that connection with each other to know that they can get the job done.”
The Saints now move to 5-5 for the season and sit sixth on the ladder ahead of their round 11 clash against Geelong.