Women’s Premier Division MOTW: Shamrocks rock Western Wolves in a close one
Written by Phoebe McWilliams.
UTS Shamrocks vs. Western Wolves – Picken Oval, Saturday, April 14 at 8.30am
There were close matches all round in the second week of AFL Sydney’s Women’s Premier Division, but none were closer than our Match of the Week between the UTS Shamrocks and Western Wolves.
The two sides had completely different experiences in Round One. The Western Wolves entered the weekend’s game on a high after their win against last year’s Grand Finalists Sydney University, whilst UTS had suffered a 10-goal loss to UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs.
The results of Round One didn’t seem to matter when they met in dry conditions early on Saturday morning at Picken Oval. It was obvious from the first bounce that it was going to be a close match filled with solid tackling and defensive pressure.
There were a number of stoppages to begin with as the Wolves’ midfielders, led by their captain Melissa Freckelton, applied strong and effective tackles.
For the Shamrocks, it was their ruck-midfield combination of Rachel Hardy and Tully McDonough who impressed early.
The ball went end to end like a tennis match, however no team was able to register a major score in the opening term.
The game opened up in the second quarter when four goals were kicked in as nearly as many minutes.
Round One’s Rising Star, Jessica Urquhart, kicked the first goal of the match in an impressive one-on-one contest with her opponent deep in the goal square. Urquhart brought the ball to ground and followed up with strong bodywork to dribble through the goal from five metres out.
Her teammate, Michaela Ekman kicked the Wolves second when she gathered the ball forward, took on her opponent and had a shot from 30 metres out.
For the Shamrocks, it was Gillian Behan who was the most dangerous in their forward line, reading the play well and showing explosive pace inside 50. On two occasions Behan ran past her opponent to kick two goals from the goal square.
Heading into half time, the Shamrocks led by four points.
At the start of the third quarter the intensity lifted for both sides. The Wolves went forward early on a couple of occasions, only to have their efforts squandered by Shamrocks defender, Charnelle Willis who took several important intercept marks.
The ball then spent the remainder of the quarter in the Shamrocks’ forward line, however they were unable to capitalise on their opportunities in front of goal. They finally broke their drought when Behan received a free kick 15 metres out straight in front, kicking her third for the game and the only goal for the quarter.
Twelve points down heading into the final quarter, the Wolves had to make their move. Freckelton and Una McKay lifted in the midfield, delivering the ball forward to Ekman who kicked two goals in quick succession, giving them the perfect start.
Three-points down and with two minutes remaining the Wolves had the ball at the top of their 50 following an untimely deliberate out of bounds by the Shamrocks defence.
The Wolves kicked long into their forward line, however a strong contested mark by Shamrocks defender and Niamh Hainsworth on the goal line was the match saver. The Wolves then gave away a 50 metre penalty allowing the Shamrocks to get the ball to their end and put the match out of reach.
The Shamrocks came away winners by four points.
Shamrocks Coach, Christine McCutcheon was pleased with her team’s performance.
“Obviously it’s great to get the first win on the board. It was good to have a good close game and come out on the better side of it,” said McCutcheon.
McCutcheon praised her ruck-midfield combination of Hardy and McDonough on their efforts throughout the day.
“Tully (McDonough) is a work horse. She does all the hard work everywhere, all over the ground. Hardy also had a brilliant game in the ruck and won us a lot of possessions as well. Their work rate all day was probably what was the difference.”
In other matches over the weekend Macquarie University (8.5.53) defeated the Newtown Breakaways (6.3.39) thanks to a three-goal effort by forward Simone Freeman. The UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs (5.7.37) narrowly defeated the Auburn-Penrith Giants (4.2.26) by 11-points. Finally the Southern Power (2.4.16) defeated the Sydney University Bombers (1.4.10) in a low scoring affair at Heathcote Oval.
Round Three kicks off this Saturday morning at 10.35am with the UTS Shamrocks taking on the Sydney University Bombers at Trumper Park. The Bombers will be looking for their first win for the season.