Women’s Premier Division MOTW: Mac Uni continue undefeated run
Written by Phoebe McWilliams.
A three-goal haul to Macquarie University’s Laura Russell was the highlight of her side’s 39-point win over Southern Power on Saturday night at University Oval.
Russell spent the majority of the game in the ruck, however created headaches when she rested forward, especially in the last five minutes when she kicked two goals to add to her side’s winning margin.
This was the second time the two sides have met this season, having played one another in Round 1. Macquarie University won their first encounter convincingly by 65 points.
Despite again winning by a large margin on Saturday night, the game was a lot closer than the scoreboard tells.
Southern Power provided fight throughout the match and for a large part of the third quarter the ball was inside their forward 50. The Power had a number of scoring opportunities in this quarter, however were only able to kick three behinds, their only score for the game.
At the other end of the ground there was a large focus on Macquarie University’s key forward, Simone Freeman who kicked three goals against the Power in Round 1. Freeman still provided a strong target up forward, however she was watched closely by backman, Jacqualyn Bresnahan. Power defenders also dropped back to help out Bresnahan often creating a two on one contest. This was a successful tactic, as Freeman was held goalless for the match.
Macquarie needed to find other avenues to goal and found it in Russell. When in the ruck, Russell looked dangerous at times roving her own hit-outs and weaving in and out through players to create scoring opportunities.
The Warriors also have the flexibility of putting Pippa Smyth in the ruck, allowing Russell to push forward. This was an effective move, especially in the last quarter when Russell kicked two of her three goals. One came from an uncontested mark nearly 40m out and her second was from an excellent pack mark on the goal line with 30 seconds left to play.
Macquarie’s midfield combination again looked very slick, with Ellie Herron, Lisa Steane and Kristy Suttcliffe getting plenty of the ball. The three dominated clearances and worked together like a well-oiled machine, each knowing and performing their roles in stoppages.
Suttcliffe, who was named best on ground for her side, was pleased with the win, but mentioned that there was still room to improve.
“The girls were happy with the win, however we all know there’s still a lot to improve on. I thought our defence was solid but we need to improve on our delivery in to the forwards and converting our opportunities once it’s inside.
“Rusty (Russell) is in great form and is a very versatile player, which she showed on the weekend. She was crucial in us getting the win and at times you’d be mistaken for thinking she’s a rover caught in a ruckman’s body.”
Macquarie remain unbeaten and one game clear on top of the ladder.
Around the grounds, there was a thriller at Henson Park with UNSW Eastern Suburb Bulldogs (2.4.16) edging out Sydney University (2.3.15) by one point. The Western Wolves (2.3.15) are back on the winners list after defeating the Newtown Breakaways (0.5.5). Finally the Auburn-Penrith Giants (4.4.28) defeated the UTS Shamrocks (2.9.21).
Five of the top six goal scorers in the competition were goalless on the weekend, giving Macquarie University’s Laura Russell a chance to climb the tally. She now sits fifth on the competition’s leader board on eight goals, just three goals behind the competition’s leader Rebecca Privitelli who did not play Premier Division on the weekend.
Phoebe McWilliams is a current AFL Women’s GWS GIANTS player, who is also a freelance writer for publications such as Inside Football Magazine. Following the 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Season, McWilliams will be playing for the Hawthorn Football Club in the VFLW for the remainder of the year.