MATCH REVIEW: Women’s Division Two Grand Final
Written by Michael Shillito
Macquarie University Warriors vs. East Coast Eagles – Blacktown ISP on Sunday 15th September
After a marathon weekend of Grand Final footy, just one game remained to lower the curtain on the 2019 season. The Women’s Division Two Grand Final saw the same two clubs, Macquarie Uni Warriors and East Coast Eagles, that played in the Premier Division Grand Final on Saturday. But while the Warriors took out the Premier Division title, this time it was the Eagles who would emerge with the spoils.
The Warriors had finished minor premiers, and were only required to play one game to make it through to the Grand Final. There was only a point in it, but the Warriors got past South West Sydney in the Major Semi-Final to earn themselves a week off to recover and prepare ahead of the Grand Final.
It had been a tough road for the Eagles to make it through to the big match. Sudden death finals against Wollondilly, Sydney Uni and South-West Sydney were run and won and the Eagles had some winning momentum behind them.
The Warriors had the easier buildup to the Grand Final, and had been the benchmark in this division all year. But even early on, it was evident they had a fight on their hands. The Eagles were looking quicker and were winning the contested footy more often than not. And although it took nearly ten minutes before the first score of the game, the Eagles were getting the ball into their forward 50 with regularity. A second goal quickly followed the first. The Warriors got one back against the run of play late in the quarter but the Eagles had been the pace-setters early on.
It took another eight minutes for the scoring to start in the second term, but when the Eagles scrambled a goal on the line, the lead had extended to 14 points. The Warriors were looking shell-shocked, struggling to get a clean possession and it wasn’t looking like there was any way of working their way back into the contest. The Warriors knew they had to tighten the game up and and managed to prevent the Eagles from scoring again. But the 15-point margin at the long break was looking like a high mountain that the Warriors would struggle to climb.
The premiership quarter was an arm-wrestle. If the Eagles were to goal first, the game would move out of the Warriors’ reach. A Warriors goal would get them back into the contest. The ball travelled from end to end. Ball-ups, stoppages, the tension rising with each minute that ticked by; breaths baited with anticipation as time ticked onwards, waiting for something to crack. And eventually, after 15 minutes, it came; as Bethanie Rohde landed a tackle. Holding the ball, then 50 metres put her within scoring range. Making no mistake with the kick, the margin was back to 10 points.
But as quickly as the chance came, it was gone. The Eagles ran the ball forward, and Bryany Parker pounced on a loose ball and slammed it home. The 16-point margin was restored. Just moments remaining in the quarter, and the Warriors’ hard work to get back into the contest was undone with one kick.
Even at the last change, a margin of 16 points wasn’t impossible. The coaches implored their charges for one last effort. But after working so hard for most of the third term to get back into the contest, only to immediately concede the reply, seemed to take the wind out of the Warriors’ sails. The Eagles had the sniff of a flag and they weren’t letting go.
A mark in the square to Emily Hurley just a few minutes into the last quarter stretched the lead further. And when Hurley was on the board again at the eight minute mark, it was all over bar the shouting. The Eagles’ premiership was safe, but the party was just getting started. Three more goals turned it into a comprehensive 46-point win.
It was a tough loss for the Warriors to take. They had been the best side in this division for most of the season. But in the game that mattered most, they were unable to get it done and struggled to implement the game plan that had served them so well for most of the year. Roxanne Haid, Sarah Brenton and Monique Le Mottee in particular worked hard; but the run of play just didn’t go their way, and to only have two goals to show for the day was disappointing for them.
But the Eagles had prevailed. Coming from the Elimination Final, timing their run to perfection and playing their best footy on the year that mattered most. Emily Hurley led the way up forward with five goals; while around the ground the Eagles were served by outstanding performances from Bryany Parker, Kate Scholz and Jade Swabey.
The on-field football action was over. But the East Coast party was just getting warmed up.
East Coast Eagles – 2.2 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 9.5 (59)
Macquarie University – 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 (13)
East Coast Goals – E. Hurley 5, B. Parker 2, L. Gribbin, D. Polverino
Macquarie Uni Goals – S. Stewart, B. Rohde
East Coast Best – B. Parker, K. Scholz, J. Swabey, E. Hurley, N. Gray, A. O’Grady
Macquarie Uni Best – R. Haid, S. Brenton, M. Le Mottee, A. Ferrari, J. Mckee, C. Bye