GRAND FINAL PREVIEW AND PREDICTION: Women’s Premier Division
Women’s Premier Division Grand Final
Written by Phoebe McWilliams
Macquarie University vs. UNSW Eastern Suburbs – Saturday, September at 12.30pm at Blacktown International Sportspark
Last time they met…
The Macquarie University Warriors and UNSW Eastern Suburbs Bulldogs met just two weeks ago in the Semi-Final. The Warriors won the match by just seven points.
The Warriors have won on all three occasions in 2018, however seven points is the greatest margin, meaning it is extremely likely Saturday’s game will be another close affair.
Sera Kaukiono enjoys playing against Macquarie University, having been name best on ground twice out of their three meetings. She was outstanding in the Semi-Final, reading the play well and running off her player to meet the ball. Her strong hits set the tone for the Bulldogs.
It’s the same for the Warriors’ Ellie Brush, also named best on ground twice in their three games. Brush is cool, calm and composed under pressure. Her composure will be invaluable on the weekend when the pressure will be the greatest it’s been all season.
Three things to consider
1. The week off
Macquarie University won the Semi-Final and therefore went straight through to the Grand Final, giving them a break last weekend.
The Bulldogs on the other hand had a hard tackling, contested match against the Auburn-Penrith Giants where they won by just six-points.
Will the break benefit the Warriors? Or will the win last weekend give the Bulldogs the momentum heading into the Grand Final?
2. Can UNSW Eastern Suburbs make it three in three years?
The Bulldogs have won the past two Women’s Premier Division Grand Finals. Though there are a number of new players in their side this season, there are still a number who have played on the big stage before. They know what it takes to win Grand Finals.
This is the first Grand Final for Macquarie University and the first time a number of these players will experience playing for a Premiership Cup. The experienced heads of Amanda Farrugia, Kristy Suttcliffe and Ellie Brush will be important.
3. The X factor
Bulldogs’ forward Jacinda Barclay had an absolute field day in the Preliminary Final. She anticipated the ball better than anyone else on the ground. Barclay took a number of strong marks, presented well and hit up targets closer to goal. Will Barclay have two blinders in a row?
For the Warriors, it’s captain Amanda Farrugia who returned from injury late in the season. Farrugia showed in the Semi-Final the kind of impact she can have on a game. In the Semi, the Warriors rotated Farrugia with Lisa Steane between the midfield and the forward line. Wherever Farrugia was, she looked dangerous and capable of setting up play. The Bulldogs will need to keep a close eye on this rotation.
What the players are saying
Macquarie University – Pip Smyth (2018 Mostyn Medallist)
“I think we are all really excited but also really nervous because we know every time we’ve come up against them it’s never an easy win, we only just get there.
“They’re such a good team and they’re so strong. I think if we come in with our best game then we can definitely win, but we’ve just got to try our hardest.
“It’s probably been good to have the week off, I think a lot of us have been feeling quite sore and a have a few niggling injuries here and there, so it’s probably good that we had the week off so we’re feeling fresh.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing, if we’re smart with the footy, and we play our best game then I think that’s when we will win. Nothing too special, nothing that people haven’t seen before, we just need to play our own footy.”
UNSW Eastern Suburbs – Roxy McGee (Two-time Premiership player)
“I guess the last two years we’ve been favourites so it’s definitely a shift in position for us to go in as the underdogs this year. We’ve got a relatively new team this year, with a few new players, so we’ve got a nice mix of experience and depth, plus a bit of young blood amongst the team. So it’s a different team and definitely a different position for us to be in.
“I think it’s actually beneficial for us to have played last week and maintain that momentum. Sometimes I think if you have that week off in between it can sort of upset the momentum. We’re definitely coming off the back of a hard fought game, a physical game, but I think it’s helped us be mentally and physically prepared for this weekend.
“We definitely want it, it would be fantastic to get the trifecta, and I’m intending on retiring this year so it would be a nice way to go out – finish with a bang.
“The girls have worked really hard throughout the year. It’s a really long season. Those cold winter nights, putting in the hard yards and we certainly didn’t just sail into this Grand Final. Leading up to this Grand Final we’ve actually really had to fight hard to get ourselves there. It’s definitely not going to be a walk in the park, but we’re definitely up for the challenge. “
Seems fitting that these two sides are playing it out for the Premiership. They have been the strongest teams all year and their matches are always close.
The Warriors will have fresher legs from the week off and their rotations through the midfield will test the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs forward line in McGee, Rebecca Privitelli, Jemma Still and Barclay will need to fire and another strong game from Alison Parkin will make things very interesting, but I think ultimately the Warriors will out run the Bulldogs in the end… just.
Macquarie University by 12 points
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.