VFLW Round 4 vs Williamstown

Darebin Falcons 3.3-21 def by 5.13-43 Williamstown

Darebin Falcons jumped out of the blocks well this week, but were ultimately chased down in the second half of the match.  The Falcons were strong at the contest, and smart with the ball, started to see reward for efforts, leading by a goal at half time.  Although the Falcons battled hard in the second half, the hungry Seagulls were able to use their home ground windy conditions to more advantage kicking 3 goals, and restricting Darebin’ s scoring, winning by 22 points in the end.

There were a couple of changes to the squad were outs from senior players Vic Blackwood’s ankle injury from last round, and a late withdrawals from captain Steph Simpson due to illness.  This created a chance for the leadership group, and Ange Gogos led the team strongly in the captaincy role.   With 15 kicks, 8 tackles, the ever consistent Gogos had a good individual performance too.

The Falcons played with great intensity from the first whistle, winning some ball with strong tackles.  The first five minutes was an arm wrestle along the wing.  Just outside the forward 50, Gogos found a clever toe poke out of a pack, where Vanja Smiljanic under pressure sent the ball inside 50.  Sabine Cowley du Parquet was unable to mark but her strong tackling created pressure on the Williamstown defender, who coughed up a free kick for the throw.  Cowley de Parquet went back and kicked straight through the middle to get the Falcons on the scoreboard.

When Williamstown tried to respond, the defenders stood firm.  Julia Phung got a nice clearing kick into the centre, and reading the ball beautifully, Vanja Smiljanic took a clearing run down the middle of the ground, taking 2 bounces, before getting a big push in the back as she kicked at goal.  With the free kick 30 metres out, Smiljanic smartly handballed sideways to Falcs forward Alyssa Mifsud, but unfortunately a misfire on a windy day ended up with no score.  Williamstown were able to take on some attacking play of their own and went to the first break with a 1 point lead.

The second quarter started again tightly contested, with Falcons winning possession with good pressure across the team.  Millie Shone took a nice intercept mark off the rebounding Williamstown defenders.  Shone’s kick into the Falcons’ 50 bounced high, with Emma Mackay reading it nicely, to get a good kick right to the goal square.  Smiljanic again in the right spot for the crumbs but her shot on goal was just off line, bringing the scores to level.  Bringing the ball out of defence was tricky, and frustrated with the breeze taking the ball over the line, a Williamstown defender threw the ball away.  This gave away a 50 metre penalty and a shot on goal for Emma Mackay, unfortunately missing to the left.  Williamstown were unable to clear the ball, with Simone Ruedin showing some great intensity at the ball in the centre and created good pressure.  Out of this contest, Cowley du Parquet won a free kick, and delivered it directly to the lead from Alyssa Mifsud.  From 30 metres out, Mifsud kicked through a blustery wind for her first goal of the game.

From the centre again, the Seagulls were able to manage an answering goal from some slick handballing.  However, the Falcons did take control of the game in the last part of the term.  Mikayla Plunkett read the tap from Sally Lynch, sending the ball to the hotspot.  In the goal square, Mifsud battled well, but just couldn’t get her boot the ball.  Plunkett and Louey worked well together to trap the ball in Darebin’s forward 50, and return it to the goal square.  Mifsud showed her good read on the play, and with a soccer off the ground, sent the ball past the Williamstown defenders and right it through the middle.  Her 2nd goal of the match gave Darebin a 7 point lead at half time.

The third term was played mostly on the home team’s terms.  Although largely inaccurate, the Seagulls had repeated inside 50’s, and started to adjust better to the wind.  With the scoring end in the last quarter, the Falcons were unable to capitalise on their contesting pressure, and found it difficult to get space for their attacking game.  Feeling the pressure, the Falcons just struggled to find the connections and were unable to replicate the positive attacking play of the first half, unable to create that scoreboard pressure.

The coaches were positive about what the squad’s improvements had been. “Yes, we were very proud of the group with that start, that performance today. It shows the character of this squad to turn up like they did today, and also so good to see some reward for effort for our players.  Even at that last change, we were right in this game.  It shows that we are looking after each other, and by taking that focus on fundamentals from our training, we really showed where we can get more out of our match day performances” (Coach Aasta O’Connor.)

This week the Falcon of the Week was awarded to Sabine Cowley du Parquet, who not only kicked a goal up forward, but also showed team first mentality, positivity and resoluteness to take on a role in the backline when needed.

Next match will be the first fixture at Preston City Oval, so a good chance for some home crowd support.  Round 5 is  Saturday 22 April, Darebin playing North Melbourne, 2.30pm.

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