The Northern Football Netball League’s women’s representative football team was unable to notch its first interleague win after going down to AFL Barwon by 18 points.
The NFNL were left to rue missed early opportunities in their 2.7 (19) to 5.7 (37) loss at Queens Park in the 2019 Worksafe AFL Victoria Championships.
Catherine O’Bryan was the NFNL’s best in defeat and won the medal as the league’s best player. The NFNL skipper was used in a range of roles on the day, working between attack and defence, while also spending time in the ruck.
Nicole Blythe and Karly Cobern found plenty of the football, while Stacey Cross and Tamara Olcorn both hit the scoreboard with a goal apiece.
The NFNL made a positive start and dominated the inside 50m count in the opening ten minutes of the game, without being able to put an advantage on the scoreboard.
They visitors made to pay when AFL Barwon captain Emma Allen kicked the game’s first goal with the home side’s first forward 50m entry.
Allen doubled AFL Barwon’s advantage with her second goal soon after, with the NFNL going into the first break trailing by 14 points.
The home team controlled the opening parts of the second term, however strong play by the NFNL’s defence ensured no additional goals were added.
The NFNL began getting on top through the middle of the ground, with Demi Hallett and Ellie Koiker finding lots of the ball.
Despite controlling general play, the NFNL was again unable to convert its chances, kicking three consecutive behinds to head into half time trailing 2.4 (16) to 0.4 (4).
Olcorn was able to break through for the NFNL in the opening minutes of the third term, with her snap from the left forward pocket taking a miraculous bounce to evade two AFL Barwon defenders on the goal line.
The NFNL continued to press in the minutes that followed but were unable to penetrate through the home side’s strong defence.
AFL Barwon gradually took control back, with Maddison Janssen and Charlotte Thorn leading the charge.
A towering mark and goal to Laura McClelland handed the home side a 13-point buffer at three quarter time.
The NFNL was still a chance at a comeback in the last quarter if it could begin to convert its chances in front of goal.
The opening eight minutes of the final term were an arm wrestle as the NFNL threw everything at AFL Barwon in the hope of closing within a goal.
However, the NFNL’s chances were dashed when Allen marked and booted her third goal to stretch the difference to 18 points.
Cross found a fast reply for the NFNL, but any hopes of a come-from-behind win were erased when Tamara Knox booted AFL Barwon’s fifth major two minutes later.
It proved to be the final score of the game, as AFL Barwon closed out the remaining minutes to score an 18-point win.
Final scores: AFL Barwon 5.7 (37) def NFNL 2.7 (19)
Best Players: C. O’Bryan, N. Blythe, K. Cobern, D. Bonde, S. Nyawela , D. Hallett
Goal Kickers: S. Cross, T. Olcorn
Goal Kickers: E. Allen 3, L. McClelland, T. Knox
Best Players: E. Allen, E. Oliver, S. O”Dea, C. Thorne, M. Janssen