The Southern Saints kicked off their 2021 Rebel VFL Women’s campaign with a pleasing 18-point win over Essendon in their round one matchup on Sunday at the Hangar.
Hot and sunny conditions greeted the teams and the enthusiasm could be felt across the ground as both sides were eager to put on a show, out in front of a good crowd.
The first quarter started with Essendon taking control of the stoppages and pushing forward, but some strong defensive work and excellent smothering from the Saints helped prevent their attacks.
Lucy Burke started strongly with some good marking and positioning across the last line of defence whilst Poppy Kelly provided excellent support from the ruck running back to fill the hole.
The Saints managed to settle into the flow of the game and began to control the play through the middle.
Hannah Stuart and Jess Matin were excellent at the stoppages and Matin was soon rewarded, as a quick kick led to the first goal of the game giving the Saints the lead at quarter time.
The Saints started off the second quarter sharply and continued to apply excellent tackling pressure. Matin soon had her second goal of the game — finishing off with a brilliant snap — after back-to-back tackles from Deanna Jolliffe forced a turnover.
The game started to open up for the Saints, as they looked to build upon their lead and a nice piece of linking play — which would undoubtedly please the coaches — led to a mark and finish from Gabriella De Angelis.
A well devised switch of play and an impressive, contested mark to Tara Bohanna, allowed Valerie Moreau to walk into an open goal as the Saints began to look comfortable.
Bohanna followed up with a miraculous goal of her own, dribbling in a snap from nearly 50m out, as the Saints took a commanding 30-point lead into the main break.
The third quarter started off scrappily, as the Saints appeared to come out of the main break looking a bit sluggish.
Essendon got the first goal of the quarter through Alex Quigley, and she quickly followed up with her second after a brilliant piece of solo work and a clever snap.
The Saints were forced back as Essendon continued to press towards what appeared to be the scoring end for the day.
Lucy Burke continued her excellent work and was well backed up in defense by Georgia McLean and Ebany Vanderheym.
The Saints failed to score in the third term but managed to limit the impact of the Essendon attacks and held a handy 18-point lead going into the final quarter.
At the start of the final quarter the game remained in the balance, with the first goal crucial for both sides. And it was the Saints who struck first, after multiple penalties allowed Matin to boot her third goal for the game.
It seemed the shackles may have been broken, as shortly after a clever finish from Moreau — her second for the game — extended the lead back out to 30-points.
Essendon managed to score two late goals, but it was the Saints who ran away 18-point victors in what was a convincing opening round win.
The Saints will now look to round two, where they will meet Collingwood at 12pm at Victoria Park on Saturday, March 6.
Southern Saints: 1.2 5.4 5.4 7.5 (47)
Essendon: 0.2 0.4 2.4 4.5 (29)
Goals: Matin 3, Moreau 2, Bohanna 1, De Angelis 1
Best: Matin, Stuart, Burke, Bohanna, Vanderheym, Ott
Written by Will Michael - Sandringham Football Club Media