MATCH REVIEWS: Women’s Premier Division Preliminary Final
Written by Michael Shillito
Sydney University Bombers vs. East Coast Eagles – Blacktown ISP on Saturday 7th September
It was blowing a gale at Blacktown International Sportspark on Saturday as the Womens Premier Division Preliminary Final was played out. But what was felt was the winds of change, as East Coast Eagles made their way through to the Grand Final in their first season at Premier Division level.
The sun was shining, but a stiff wind was blowing across the ground; not really favouring either end but keeping the ball floating towards the outer wing and making long kicking difficult.
East Coast Eagles finished minor premiers, but went down to Macquarie Uni in the Major Semi-Final and now had another chance to make it through. Their opponents in this Preliminary Final were Sydney Uni, who were too good for UNSW-ES in the Minor Semi-Final. While the Warriors had the week off and were watching intently, a tight tussle was unfolding in front of them.
In the blustery conditions, neither team was taking chances early and a tight, defensive scrap was developing. There was plenty of physical pressure, and some desperate defensive work from both sides as they refused to concede easy possessions. Just one goal apiece would be scored in the first term, with the desperation stakes rising as the Bombers led by a point at quarter time.
A spot in the Grand Final was at stake, and neither team was going to die wondering. Every chance to lay a tackle was taken, every chance to keep their opponent in check was followed. But to break the game open was too hard an ask against such determined opposition. It was defensive-minded, but an enthralling tactical battle. Both coaches swinging the changes and looking in vain for the chink in their opposition’s armoury. But the fatal flaw that would disqualify either team was not to be found in a term of footy that saw the Eagles kick the only goal and head into to the long break with a seven point lead.
The Eagles had the slightest of edges, and that would be maintained in the third term. But the Bombers were still within striking distance, and the game was far from safe. The tension was rising, the pressure was intense and easy possessions were hard to come by. Just one goal apiece would be scored in the third term, a quarter of footy that saw the Eagles stay in front but never enough to be comfortable. Just six points separated the two sides at the last change, and a thrilling contest was unfolding.
The game was there to be won, it needed a team to step up and take it. With so little separating the two sides for three quarters, now was the time to stand and deliver. And when the crunch was on, it was the Eagles who would make the decisive move and open up the match-winning break. Three goals in quick succession was enough. Time ran down, but there was no way back for the Bombers. The final siren sounded, and the Bombers were 24 points short. It had been a strong season, but it came to an end one game short of a Grand Final appearance.
Zoe Hurrell, Kristen Hay and Meg Haynes had worked magnificently for the Bombers all day. But in the end, it wasn’t enough to keep their season alive. Sydney Uni has a long and proud record in women’s footy but there’ll be no Grand Final appearance this time.
Instead, it is the Eagles, in their first season at Premier Division level, who progress through to Sydney footy’s big day. Renee Tomkins, Sarah Ford and Georgia Garnett featured prominently for the Eagles as they were able to find the edge when the game was there to be won.
Eight teams started the season in Women’s Premier Division. Four of them made the finals. And now just two remain. Macquarie Uni and East Coast. There shouldn’t be much in it on Saturday; and this is a Grand Final with the potential to be a fascinating contest between two very closely matched teams.
East Coast Eagles –1.0 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 6.2 (38)
Sydney University – 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)
East Coast Goals – R McGartland 3, G Garnett, E Wilson, D Gisu
Sydney Uni Goals – A Foo, A Roditis
East Coast Best – R Tomkins, S Ford, G Garnett, E Goodsir, H Zreika, G Marzano
Sydney Uni Best – Z Hurrell, K Hay, M Haynes, M Harley, L Stephenson, J Lew