Bloods down Cobras in exciting battle at home
After a week off, the girls had a chance to rest some sore bodies and prepare for a run into the finals. With only a couple of points separating the top four teams, every game from here-on-in has massive ramifications either way making winning the priority each and every week.
This time we faced Canterbury at home. Like us, they had continued to improve every week and were somewhat of an unknown quantity. Eyebrows were raised as Canterbury scored an early goal and quickly followed up with a second shortly after. We were getting a lot of the ball coming forward thanks to our midfield, but the Cobra’s defence were doing a good job of getting it out of there equally as fast. We managed one minor score for the quarter, but never dropped our heads knowing that a couple of quick goals would get us right back in the game.
The Bloods women came out firing in the second quarter. We slowly started to win the midfield battle with EmJ continuing to break the lines and take the game on. Her ability to not only break a tackle but accelerate away from a contest with power is truly a thing of beauty. Dusty was out the back of every pack, offering support and a calm voice just behind the play giving us a chance to break away from the stoppage on multiple occasions. Her positioning was brilliant, and her run was ever-reliable. The ball kept on getting fed into out forward line, and stand-in co-skipper Amanda Ventura put on a dominant display crashing packs and kicking two team-lifting goals. There was no celebration, just the trademark strut. To say that Danni Minutoli is an exceptionally skilled footballer just scratches the surface of this girl’s talent. Her innate ability to read the play and win almost every single content (and pressure the opposition into turning the ball over) is incredible and inspiring to watch - her efforts were rewarding her with a classy goal. After a second quarter resurgence, we equaled the ledger at 21 a-piece. We went into the rooms knowing that this game was ours for the taking.
I have to say, the rooms at half-time felt the most focused and calm that they have been all season. It was as if we knew the gravity of the situation we faced in the second half. Win, and we take another step towards playing finals in our inaugural season. Lose, and we make things incredibly hard for ourselves. We whipped ourselves into such a frenzy coming back onto the ground that we broke out into a ‘five-star handball’. While good intentions were there, we had a game to win!
We needed to make a big statement, and as if on cue powerful and fearsome Lauren Gibbs busted her way out of a ruck contest and kicked truly, with the flair that only our Kiwi can. Even resting deep in the forward line, Lauren proved that her determination made her as dangerous as she is playing on the ball. While Lauren’s goal was our only score for the quarter, props have to go to our incredible back line for keeping Canterbury scoreless – a mean feat considering the power of some of their players. Bont wasn’t giving her opponent an inch of space, pestering her at every single contest. Several times, she was the only player separating them and a potential score – taking a safe mark in the goal square and killing their forward momentum as a quite literal example. Kath Sobey attacks the ball with such ferocity that I would legitimately be scared to be in the way of her and it. It was her mission to make sure that the ball got out of our defensive 50 as quickly as it got in, and the scoreless quarter to the opposition speaks volumes of her efforts on the weekend (as well as our other legends down back). Speaking of champs, Mini Champs was another that stood up all day, but her influence was most notable in the third – driving the ball through the middle at every opportunity and providing support for those around her.
Three-quarter time saw us lead by 8 points, but we were well aware that we needed to continue attacking in order to have the game in the bag. The last quarter started off quite positively. After another exceptional game in the ruck, Erin well and truly got over her opponent, giving our girls first use of the footy. We managed to have most of the play up in our attacking 50, with our mids firing the ball deep to give our forwards every opportunity to score. Clem crashed every contest with purpose, resulting in forward pocked Deb swooping on a loose ball early and kicking truly. While it gave us some breathing space, there was still a game to be won. Danni continued her dominant display, winning the ball across the half-forward line and streaming in, only to miss a couple of times by the slightest of margins. The Cobras managed to snare another goal late, but the damage was already done. We held on for win number seven for the season. Elise Beacom played a beyond impressive first game for the Bloods. She wasn’t afraid of any contest and kept trying all day long. We’re stoked to have her on board!
We now face top-of-the-table Hawthorn at home, and Fitzroy away the week after to bring the regular season to a close. Win, and we’re finals bound.