MATCH REVIEW: Women’s Division Three Grand Final
Written by Michael Shillito
Holroyd Parramatta Goannas vs. St George – Blacktown ISP on Sunday 15th September
And so we came to Sunday, the last day of the season. Four more premiership cups to be handed out before the curtain would be lowered on the 2019 season.
First up was the Women’s Division Three Grand Final, a match-up between Holroyd-Parramatta Goannas and St George Dragons.
For the Goannas, it’s their second season as a women’s footy club. Their women’s program has been so successful that they won Division Two in their first season, and had enough players to field a second team this year. While for the Dragons, this season has been their first as a women’s footy club. And while few of the players who took part in this match had ever played a football Grand Final before, they rose to the occasion with an entertaining contest.
The Goannas had finished top of the ladder after the regular season. A week off in the first week of the finals was followed by a win in the Major Semi-Final, earning them another week off to prepare for this clash. While the Dragons had done it tough, coming from the Elimination Final and winning three sudden death finals in a row to make it through to the big dance.
The Goannas were the more rested side, but it was the Dragons who hit the ground running and ensured they would take early control of the contest. The first three goals were on the board in less than 15 minutes, and the Goannas were forced into catch-up footy. The Dragons had taken the early initiative, bursting out of the blocks and putting on plenty of attacking flair in the early exchanges, and the reward on the scoreboard was a just effort for their early enthusiasm around the ball. The Goannas steadied later in the quarter and got two late goals back, but the Dragons remained six points ahead at quarter time.
Momentum had shifted, and the Goannas were controlling proceedings early in the second. Two early goals saw them take the lead, as blue and gold jumpers were winning the contested ball and the Dragons were left to chase their counterparts to minimise the damage. But their period of dominance was short-lived; and as the quarter drew on, the Dragons began to re-assert themselves. And this twisted tale would turn again, as the Dragons landed three goals in a ferocious burst of footy to regain the lead and take a nine-point advantage back to the rooms at the long break.
The Goannas were still within striking distance. An early goal in the third got them within a kick. They kept coming, kept pressing, but kept coming up blank. The goal that would restore the lead was not forthcoming. Not for a lack of effort but the Dragon defence stood firm against the onslaught and would not concede. Having weathered the storm, the Dragons managed two late ones at the other end to extend their advantage to 13 points at the last change.
But it wasn’t over yet. Twice in the last quarter the Goannas got back within a kick. But, like in the third term, they were unable to take the lead. The Goannas kept pushing, but the Dragons defended grimly to hold them out. The last quarter would yield two goals apiece, as the Dragons came up with the answering goals to keep the Goannas at bay. Time ran down, and the siren sounded. The Dragons had come up with a 12-point win.
Heartbreak for the Goannas, to have been such a strong team all season only to fall at the last hurdle. Krystal Dinh was outstanding, kicking four goals to be their best; while Michala Ford and Stevie-Leigh Foster also featured prominently for the Goannas. They’ve had a great season; but the dream of premiership glory was not to be.
Instead, it was St George who were the champions. Louise Hoban, Maddison Hatswell and Ashleigh Walsh were the standouts; but there were many Dragons who stood up and delivered when it was needed. It was a day to remember for the Dragons. Their first season in women’s footy, and a dream debut season finished with some silverware to display at Olds Park.
Yet for 80 minutes of action, and many highlights of play; there is one iconic moment which was captured and for which this contest will be remembered.
While Tayla Harris is immortalised in bronze, our league has its own moment of gymnastic power. St George’s Erin Wardrop coming from behind, the legs split in symmetrical straightness as she lept high to effect a spoil. A footballer having a go, never conceding the contest, and being captured in this moment of glory.
The splits, the Wardrop Challenge. Never giving up against the odds.
The first season with a Women’s Division Three finished with the Dragons holding up the trophy. The match was a fitting climax to a competition that came about through the growth in women playing our game; numbers that continue to grow with each passing season.
St George Dragons – 3.2 6.3 8.4 10.6 (66)
Holroyd-Parramatta Goannas – 2.2 4.6 5.9 7.12 (54)
St George Goals – L. Hoban 3, L. Grady 3, J. Bevan 2, M. Hatswell, S. Wynn
Holroyd-Parramatta Goals – K. Dinh 4, A. Foster 2, B. Keogh
St George Best – L. Hoban, M. Hatswell, A. Walsh, H. Ascoli, L. Grady, G. Hill
Holroyd-Parramatta Best – K. Dinh, M. Ford, S. Foster, R. O’Brien, T. Cook, B. Keogh