Magpies back on top
Tuesday, 4th September, 2018
By Tyler Hannigan
The Magpies have returned to the top of AFL Broken Hill’s women’s competition with a 13-point upset win over the South Roos in Saturday’s grand final.
Central, who had won the premiership in the first four years of the women’s competition that began in 2012, went into this year’s grand final as slight underdogs given South were gunning for their third premiership in a row and had only lost three games for the season.
The Pies finished third on the ladder but were far too strong for North last weekend in the prelim to earn their spot in the decider.
That confidence gained last week seemed to carry through into Saturday as Central made the perfect start with Nikki Phillips kicking two goals within the opening five minutes.
Central controlled the midfield stoppages early but a quick clearance to star Eliza Cumming allowed Shae Nevill to hit the scoreboard in a frenetic start.
The game settled down somewhat as South were able to wrestle back the momentum until Grace Crowley booted Central’s third goal late in the term to give the Pies a 12-point lead at the first break.
Not much changed in the second term as both sides created chances although neither could really take control. Makayla Berg kicked Central’s fourth goal of the match while Bridgette Hurst kept the Roos in the contest with one down the other end but they still trailed by 11 points at the halftime break.
It was another tight affair in the third that went much like the second. Paris Barrett extended Central’s lead but again South were able to drag it back, this time through Mel Keenan.
If South were to make it three-consecutive flags then they needed to lift in the last term and break the back-and-forth trend of the match. They made the perfect start as Bronte Johns kicked her first goal of the day to leave South trailing by seven points with nine minutes remaining.
The Roos continued to throw everything at Central as time wore on but to no avail. Ashleigh Forbes was fantastic in defence for the Pies, taking a number of telling intercept marks.
Eventually, the game was sealed when Crowley found herself all alone in acres of space on Central’s half-forward line. She gathered, ran on and kicked truly for her second goal to put the game beyond the Roos.
The Sheldon Hall-coached Magpies were elated as the final siren sounded to signal a 13-point win and their fifth premiership from six grand finals in seven years of the women’s competition.
Shelby Raven was fantastic in the prelim and that form continued on against South. Her run and carry was a real difference between the sides.
Forbes in defence and Barrett in the ruck played very well, as did Makayla Berg, Amber Evans and Hannah Muscat through the middle. Phillips and Crowley remained dangerous up forward all match.
For South, Eliza Cumming was solid throughout the four-quarters and Sarah Gillespie battled hard in an entertaining match up with Barrett. Abby Stevens was again terrific across halfback and laid the best tackle of the day on Raven just as Raven looked to be off to the races. Keenan, Hurst and Nevill were also impressive.
The loss will be tough to take for South who were the benchmark side all year but were found wanting on the big day. Central were up and down all season but put it all together when it mattered most.
CENTRAL: 3.1 4.1 5.2 6.3 (39) def
SOUTH: 1.1 2.2 3.2 4.2 (26)
Central - N. Phillips 2, G. Crowley 2, P. Barrett, M. Berg
South - B. Hurst, S. Nevill, M. Keenan, B. Johns
Central - S. Raven, M. Berg, A. Forbes, P. Barrett, A. Evans, H. Muscat
South - E. Cumming, S. Gillespie, A. Stevens, M. Keenan, B. Hurst, S. Nevill