Diamond Creek Women’s have affirmed their spot as the premier team in the NFNL women’s competition after defeating Darebin by 22 points in the 2022 Winning Edge Division 1 Women’s Grand Final.
The Creekers were the best team all year and warm favourites heading into Sunday’s decider, but they were made to work hard by a determined Falcons side that held the lead for the entirety of the first three quarters.
It was an outstanding five goal to one final term that solidified the Creekers’ 8.9 (57) to 5.5 (35) triumph in front of a big crowd at Preston City Oval.
Diamond Creek Women’s skipper Stacey Cross received the best on ground medal for a brilliant four quarter effort, particularly setting the tone for the match with a scintillating first term.
The medal could have also gone to a bunch of Creekers’ players who stood tall on the big occasions. Chiara Nardo dazzled the crowd in the second half with some great bits of play while the defensive work of Karly Cobern didn’t go unnoticed, especially in the third term when the Falcons were pressing.
Maykaylah Appleby and Georgia Tait produced two goals each and proved to be a difficult task to handle for the Darebin defenders.
The Falcons’ efforts were strong, especially for a team that made their way through to the grand final via the long route, finishing in fourth spot at the end of the home and away campaign before winning three consecutive finals.
Continuing a brilliant 2022 season, Cameron Williams kicked three majors, including two crucial goals in the first half, to help give the Falcons the early ascendency.
Shannon Egan was important down back taking some important intercept marks while Lulu Beatty again excelled for Maddie Webster’s side.
Darebin won the toss and kicked with the slight wind advantage towards the City end and the move paid off in the early stages of the afternoon as Beatty would kick the opening goal of the grand final, converting the set shot opportunity from 30 metres out.
After missing a set shot early on, Cameron Williams soon kicked a major in a move that would remind the Creekers why the Falcons’ forward has been such a force in front of goals this season. That reminder came again shortly after when Williams kicked an incredible second goal on a tight angle with a snap outside the body.
All of a sudden, Darebin found themselves leading 20 to nil and despite a couple of late behinds from the Creekers, it was a pleasant start for the Falcons who went into the first change 18 points in front.
With the wind behind them in the second quarter, Diamond Creek Women’s capitalised early with a goal to Chiara Nardo inside the first 30 seconds.
But Darebin would quickly return fire as Susan Cadman sneaked a major out of the pack to push the lead back out to 18 points.
The Creekers would then regain control for the remainder of the period as forward’s Linda Thorp and Emma Wilson helped to chew Darebin’s lead down to three points at the main break.
In an intensity fuelled third term, both sides threw everything at each other to try and break the game open.
Of the 22 minutes of play in the third term, 21 and a half of those minutes had no scores but the entertainment and style of football on show was worthy of a grand final production.
The Creekers had countless opportunities to score but Darebin’s defence was very tight and didn’t allow them to turn their dominance on the field into dominance on the scoreboard.
Having been the side on top in the third quarter against the wind, Diamond Creek put themselves in the box seat to snare the victory despite still trailing by two points.
Sure enough, after a few minutes Diamond Creek Women’s found themselves in the lead with a goal to Maykaylah Appleby out of a stoppage. She backed it up with a second goal in as many minutes to put Col Wallington’s side up by 10 points.
The goal of the day would occur not long afterwards as Nardo ran along the boundary and kicked truly with the outside her boot to cap off a great performance.
When Tait kicked a goal to put Diamond Creek Women’s up by 23 points late in the game, the Creekers knew they had done enough.
A consolation goal from Williams was soon forgotten when Tait kicked goal number two for the afternoon just minutes before the final siren.
After a dominant two years in the NFNL women’s competition in which they only lost one game in that time period, the Creekers finally had a premiership to their name.