The UNSW/ES Stingrays took on the University of Sydney Bombers at Blacktown International Sports Park in the Women’s Premier Division semi final.
Coach Tracy Kick predicted the matchup after besting them by 28 points in an earlier round match, which gave her confidence going into the finals clash.
The stage set, both teams were ferocious at the ball with bumps, fumbles and tackles forcing a slow start on the scoreboard.
Sydney University got the first break of the game, and looked to hold the ball in their forward half. The Stingrays refused to bow to the pressure, holding strong before they turned the table and got the ball long into their own 50 resulting in the first scoring match to Belinda Pride after 11 minutes.
Another quick behind to first year player Eddie Ross saw the Stingrays attempt to lock it in and capitalise on the ball in their half, but marks and clean possession were hard to come by in the physical contest.
Perhaps under too much pressure, Sydney University gave away a free kick followed by a 50m penalty, resulting in Rebecca Beeson kicking the only goal of the quarter.
The second quarter started in a similar way to the first, but UNSW was able to break open the game much earlier through some dominant play by Maddy Collier. Coming off a quick stint on the bench, she attacked the ball and was involved in everything. The Stingrays got on the board again courtesy of a goal by Jemma Still after another 50m penalty by Sydney University.
The team from the East were starting to get a handle on their opposition, and Beeson stepped it up another level with a running mark off the half back line followed by a long kick to her attacking 50. This led to a goal by Pride, followed quickly by another one to the speedy left footer in a dominant quarter for the Stingrays.
The defending premiers came out of the sheds looking to capitalise on their first half, starting strongly and confidently with quality ball movement helping them retain possession. A piercing kick from Sandra Janjetovic lead to Still marking in the 50 and finding herself with a long range set shot. With no space, she went for goal and nailed it.
At the other end, Sydney University wasn’t having much luck. A shot at goal that looked like it would bounce through decided to slide and turned 180 degrees, denying them even a point. They were able to get a goal back with back to back contested marking, but at the final change the margin was 30 points.
Sydney University kicked the first goal of the quarter to give themselves a sneaky chance. In what seemed to be a change of tactics, the Bombers were getting the ball much deeper and it worked with another goal.
With the lead evaporating the Stingrays had to collect themselves. They managed to settle their nerves which allowed for a more methodical pace they could control, with chip kicks and switches seeing them maintain possession and take out the win.
Kick was all smiles following the win, but admitted she was relieved after the match.
“The word at three quarter time was to give it everything”, said Kick. “The whole idea was to get enough scoreboard pressure to make it as hard as possible for them.”
She was impressed by the great team effort and two way running, but reserved some praise for Sera Kaukiano, Nicola Vrachnas and Phoebe Monahan.
Kick said the Stingrays will take some key learnings out of the game, and come back even stronger in the Grand Final.
“We need to improve when the pressure is on… we got a little disarmed [at times] but that’s alright. We’ve had some practice for it now”
The Grand Final will take place on Sunday 10 September at 2pm at Blacktown, with the Stingrays opponent to be decided in the Sydney Uni v Macquarie Uni clash next Saturday.
|Sydney University Bombers||0.1-1||0.5-5||1.6-12||3.7-25|
SYDNEY UNIVERSITY BOMBERS
Goal Kickers: S. Walker 2, R. Stack
Best Players: N. Barr, E. Brush, K. Sutcliffe, J. Lew, N. Wiggins, A. Smith
Goal Kickers: J. Still 2, B. Pride 2, N. Moore, R. Beeson
Best Players: I. Nielsen, N. Vrachnas, K. Spilarewicz, S. Janjetovic, M. Collier, P. Monahan