AFLW: Preliminary Final

The McGrath Report

SNC v Byford BC

Well, that was close….

 

There were concerning signs five minutes prior to the SNC v Byford Secondary College game. Players weren’t there, girls couldn’t play the full game, there was talk of McDonalds and there was a lot of chat about the strong opposition players, but we got there - just!

 

The pressure was on for us to win the game and make a grand final, an achievement that St Norbert College has not experienced, so there was some underlying pressure; that was not really showing on the players who seemed far too relaxed for the coach's liking . . .

 

After a short and considered ‘spray’, the team lined up in the middle of the ground with one of our best barely making it on time. There was a large crowd assembled on either side of the ground with the more vocal (Maccas-eating) group offering some more entertaining advice and support from the far-wing!

 

The ball was thrown up by the WAFC umpire who was going to bring a new perspective to the game than what we were used to, and it didn’t take long before the much-spoken-about opposition player who couldn’t be caught grabbed the ball and was off in a flash. Things were looking ominous. 

 

This AFLW-focussed Byford SC could play and they seemed to have strength, pace and skill all around our ‘wonkily-white-markered home ground’. It didn’t help that our ‘dockeresque’ style of forward-play was back and we took a concerning 1.5 to 1 goal lead into half time. If it wasn’t for the amazing play by full back Chloe Miller we could have possibly been behind by two goals as she managed to somehow defend with the odds against her, showing great composure and skill for a player with not too much experience. 

 

 

Promisingly though, it seemed that a rev-up at half time from coach and captain was what was needed to waken this grand-final-focussed team from its slumber. With Chloe Reilly needing to race off at any minute for State training she did her best to attack the ball (like she had to be somewhere else) and put through a couple of goals to the relief of the vocal (Ms Kyd) home-team biased crowd. There was an initial feeling of relief when we went out to a two-goal lead. But with Paige Craven-Bower coming off with hard head knock earlier which left her with cut above her eye (she was a ‘sight to see’ in the morning!) we were left without a ‘gun’ to get the job done. Charlize Nicolaou came on to the ground and gave great effort but the Byford girls knew they had to step up and that’s what they did.

 

We were under the pump; they started to run and put on the pressure. Enter Zeta Stevens who put some pressure on their runners and never gave up with her chase and Lachauntae Eades, who put on another ‘display’ in the first half, played more of a defensive role in the second to stifle some of the oppos' forays into their forward 50. 

 

With Akeelah Mayhew finding some space we were able to control more of the play and Glenda Cornwall showing her skill to add another goal to her tally. Courtney Fitzgerald continued to show her sporting prowess with a natural understanding of how to play the game and Kyla Shepherd rose to the pressure to help the team. 

 

With Byford putting up a fight and a late goal we needed our ‘engine-room’ to get going and they fought it out to the end. When Ella Reilly looks over drained having given effort-after-effort you know the team is ‘on the brink’ of exhaustion. Cass Marciano and Jacinta Barraza again showed their toughness and Summer Pollard continued to give her all with a physical and relentless attack on the footy whilst our Year 9 gun Ella Hackett knew that she couldn’t slow down with only minutes to go and a four-point lead to defend. Our Year 8 legends in Myla Norling and Sophie Eaton never took a backward step and fought it out to the end. 

 

 

Captain Chloe Reilly again showed how and why she inspires this team. We were waiting the whole game for her to run off to get to her compulsory State training with Marion Kipchumba, Gaelle Mootoo and Ciera Power ready to replace her but Chloe needed to know we had won the game. With the end of the 20 minutes of second half which was announced with a loud cheer from the crowd, we had managed to win the game and ‘live to fight another day’. Chloe sprinted to the carpark . . . 

 

It was a spirited win which was finished with a due-respect for the opposition and some great sportwomanship and it is always heart-warming to see the St Norbert players show they are a team that can play hard, shake hands at the end of the game and join the Byford girls to cheer each other for their respective efforts. This win was highlighted by the leadership that Lachauntae Eades showed bringing our team in for a few words, with the many supporters who were there watching close by, and proudly call for ‘hands-in, Canons on three; one, two, three, Canons!!!’ - a proud team showing their pride in their team effort and what they had achieved together.

 

Mr B McGrath (Coach)