Women’s Premier Division MOTW: Auburn-Penrith beat Sydney Uni for the first time
Written by Phoebe McWilliams
A star-studded Sydney University midfield wasn’t enough to get the Bombers over the line in their home game against the Auburn Penrith Giants on Saturday.
Heading into the final quarter with a three-point lead, the Bombers unleashed their arsenal of AFLW stars Alicia Eva, Louise Stephenson, Nicola Barr and Erin McKinnon.
However, it was their fellow GWS GIANTS teammate, Renee Tomkins who lifted Auburn-Penrith to get them over the line by one-point.
Tomkins, who battled in the ruck all day against McKinnon, was involved in two very important passages of play in the final term.
The first was when Tomkins stayed down to read the ruck tap of McKinnon, booting the ball long into the Giants forward line. The second was a handball-receive from her teammate, delivering the ball deep into her forwards. Both plays resulted in vital points, nudging the Giants over the line for the win.
It was a close match throughout with no team able to break away at any stage of the game. Five-points was the biggest margin separating the two sides at any break.
Sydney University started strongly, kicking the first goal in the opening thirty seconds with Barr running forward to kick a goal on the run. The Bombers midfield combination of Barr and McKinnon looked very threatening and they were assisted around the ground by Eva who was positioned on the wing.
Despite the Bombers kicking the first goal, the Giants kicked the following two for the quarter. They could have kicked three goals had forward Melissa Brydon not missed a golden opportunity in front of goal. Brydon marked five metres out directly in front, but kicked the ball into the player on the mark – much to the home crowd’s delight.
In the second term, Brydon made amends when she kicked her first goal for the match, this time making no mistake from close range.
At the other end, the Bombers found goals through Amber Laven, whose fancy footwork bamboozled Giants defenders, and Alexandra Sneddon who kicked truly from a set shot. The Bombers went into half-time with a one-point lead.
Two midfielders from each side both lifted in the second half. For the Giants it was Haneen Zreika. The midfielder created headaches for the Bombers around stoppages, taking players on and evading tackles to win a number of clearances for her team.
For the Bombers, it was Stephenson who lifted and found plenty of the ball. Stephenson kicked the first goal for the final quarter after a very neat ruck tap from McKinnon. Stephenson collected the ball and placed it on her preferred left boot for a snap shot on goal to put the Bombers in front.
But it was short lived. The Giants responded at the next centre bounce when Zreika cleared the ball forward to a contest. Kate Easthope gathered the ball front and centre, and put the ball through for a goal.
With 20 seconds to go and the Bombers trailing by one-point, Sydney University were awarded a free kick 40m out. Stephenson took the kick and delivered the ball long, however the final siren rang when the ball was travelling through the air, not making it across the goal line.
For GWS GIANTS AFLW Best and Fairest, Alicia Eva, it was a day of conflicting emotions. Eva returned to football after an extended break following the AFLW season, however her competitive nature left her disappointed with a loss.
“It was really good to be back out there (playing). I had just over two months off playing so was keen to get out there and run around again,” said Eva.
“I never enjoy a loss. So a one-point loss is even more bitter, particularly when the siren goes and the ball is inside your forward 50.
“We had some really good passages, so did Auburn. There’s plenty to take out of it, and we will move on!”
It was Eva’s first game in the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, having moved from Victoria late last year.
“It was a tough contest! The Auburn girls were pretty explosive and played on quickly, so it was played at a pretty quick pace.
“I played most of the game on a wing, which I hadn’t done much of during the AFLW season, so that took a bit of getting used to again.”
In other matches across Round 7, UNSW Eastern Suburb Bulldogs (8.10.58) defeated Newtown (0.9.9). Macquarie University (11.7.73) remain undefeated beating the Western Wolves (0.1.1) by 72 points. Finally the UTS Shamrocks (16.9.105) had a big win over the Southern Power (3.2.20).
Phoebe McWilliams is a current AFL Women’s player, recently signed by the Geelong Cats after two years spent with the GWS GIANTS. McWilliams is also a freelance writer for publications such as Inside Football Magazine. Following the 2018 NAB AFL Women’s season, McWilliams is playing for Hawthorn in the Swisse VFL Women’s competition in Victoria, while writing for AFL Sydney.