The ANZ NFNL Women’s regular season concluded on the weekend, with the teams leaving their all out on the field.
The top-five teams in each division will now turn their attention to the finals series, which begins at Epping Recreation Reserve this weekend. The ground will host the qualifying finals on Saturday before the elimination finals take place on Sunday.
In Division 1, Keilor notched its 12th win of the season, defeating Diamond Creek Women’s 7.13 (55) to 2.3 (15) at Plenty Park Oval. Unable to successfully convert their opportunities in the first half, the Blues took just a seven-point lead into half time after kicking 2.7 to the Creekers 2.0. The Blues continued to attack in the second half to add five more goals to their tally and run away 40-point winners. Keilor’s Sarah and Gemma Wright showcased the top-form they’ve produced throughout the regular season, while Shae-Lee Murphy-Burke and Karly Cobern were great for the Creekers. Having finished on top of the ladder, Keilor will enjoy a weekend off ahead of the second semi final in week two of the finals. Diamond Creek will face fourth-placed Darebin in an elimination final on Sunday.
Bendigo will head into its finals campaign full of belief after defeating fellow finalist VU Western Spurs 7.9 (51) to 1.3 (9). The Thunder kicked away in the first half, adding five-goals while holding the Spurs goalless and continued their strong form in the second half. The Thunder’s Andrea Wilson produced her best performance of the year while Andrea Walsh’s bag of five-goals brought her season to tally to a competition-high of 53. Paige Cooper and Stephanie Holland were the standout Spurs. The two teams will lock heads again in a qualifying final on Saturday.
Darebin will be pleased with its form heading into the finals after a hard-fought away victory over Whitehorse in windy conditions. The Colts opened a six-point lead by quarter time via a Tara Reiter goal and entered the second term full of confidence. The Falcons responded however and led by eight-points halfway through the third term before Alexandra Kelly kicked truly from a set shot to bring the Colts back within two points at the final change. Millie Caddy’s running goal and Sabine Cowley Du Parquet’s conversion gave the Falcons a 14-point lead and some breathing space before Kelly kicked her second goal to keep the Colts’ hopes alive. However, the Falcons soon found the match sealing goal via a brilliant individual effort from Julia Phung. Ellen Buckley was fantastic for the Falcons, while Amelia Dawborn finished her season on a high note for the Colts.
In Division 2, La Trobe University recorded its ninth win with a 7.8 (50) to 3.2 (20) win over Darebin. An exciting first half saw La Trobe take a seven-point lead, before adding three unanswered goals in the second half to come away 30-point winners. Stephanie Castagnini and Bryanna Meaden were excellent for La Trobe, while Elizabeth Strong was the best performing Falcon. La Trobe will face the VU Western Spurs, who they defeated by just four points in their most recent match-up, in Saturday’s qualifying final.
South Morang secured a finals berth with a 2.3 (15) to 1.7 (13) victory over Laurimar. With the Power a mathematical chance of replacing the Lions in the top-five, the match was hotly contested and the Power took a four-point lead into the main break. The Lions responded in the second half to take a three-point lead into the final change and managed to hold for the win. Melanie Ratcliffe played a crucial role in the Lions’ victory while Tenille Webb finished her brilliant season with a third-consecutive best on ground performance for the Power. After finishing fifth, South Morang comes up against fourth-placed Montmorency in Sunday’s elimination final.
Montmorency will charge into its final series full of confidence after adding the only blemish to an otherwise perfect season for West Preston-Lakeside, with an upset 4.5 (29) to 2.11 (23) win. The Magpies kicked the only two goals of the opening half to create a six-point buffer by half time, as the Roosters rued missed opportunities, adding only eight behinds to the scoreboard. A two-goal to one third term by the Magpies stretched their lead out to 15-points and despite the Roosters attacking hard in the last quarter, the Magpies’ lead proved to be too much to track down. Ashleigh Bayes and Lauren Dow excelled for the Magpies, while Sarina Galati and Cerrin Karpany were the Roosters’ best. West Preston- Lakeside will look to put the loss behind them during a well-earned week off, before beginning its finals campaign in the second semi final.
In Division 3, St Mary’s made it four wins on the trot, defeating La Trobe University 2.9 (21) to 0.4 (4). With inaccurate kicking the theme of the first half for both sides, the Burra landed the first blow in the third quarter and then added their second goal in the final term to seal the match. Cailey Mayerhofer, Morgan Harriman and Stephanie Trkulja led from the front for the Burra and will look to carry their form into their side’s qualifying final against the VU Western Spurs on Saturday.
Eltham ended its regular season on a high note with a 9.7 (61) to 2.1 (13) win over Greensborough. The Panthers got off to a flying start with three opening quarter goals and carried their momentum into the final three quarters to finish strongly. Krystal Cullinan and Leah Darcy continued their great form for the Panthers and the Boro’s Alana Debono tried hard all day, finishing with a goal. Greensborough will be aiming to reverse the result when the side’s meet again in the elimination final.
Bundoora achieved the perfect home and away season, maintaining its flawless record after a 14.11 (95) to 0.1 (1) victory over Mernda. After a blistering first quarter that saw the Bulls pile on five goals, the ladder-leader proved to be impossible to stop and they ran away with the match. Bundoora’s Rainbow Ebert and Sianne Clancy had plenty of the football, while Megan Kost played her role for Mernda. The undefeated Bulls are in red-hot form after their remarkable season and have been rewarded with a well-deserved break in week one of the finals.