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Essendon recorded back-to-back wins for the first time in their AFLW history with a 12-point victory over St Kilda at Windy Hill in front of almost 4000 fans, mostly Bomber faithful.
It was a feat made even more special, according to returning midfielder and inaugural Bombers player Georgia Nanscawen, by the side’s return to Essendon’s spiritual home ground.
“We’ve spoken a bit about the history of Windy Hill, so to be a part of this next chapter of history, for the first AFLW game [here], was super special. [It] was a really great turn out. The crowd was amazing, which is something very special to us,” said Nanscawen, who was the captain of the Bombers’ VFLW premiership 2022 side, after the win.
Maddy Prespakis takes a selfie with Bombers fans after Essendon’s win over St Kilda.Credit: Getty Images
“We want to create a bit of a fortress here and we don’t want teams to enjoy coming to Windy Hill, so I think we’ve started that today. The noise that was generated was really loud – it felt like another team member out there and [it] was able to help push us over the line.”
It was Nanscawen’s second game at the elite level for Essendon after she returned from an ACL injury and missed all of last season.
“There was a lot of build up to the first game back, so it felt nice to get that out of the way and [I] can now just keep building on that for the rest of the season,” she said.
Essendon started strongly against St Kilda, with three first-term goals, but the game quickly developed into a tussle with see-saws of momentum. The Bombers took a two-goal lead into the final break, which they held on to – 6.4 (40) to 4.4 (28) – as the final term was a scoreless one, as each side seemed to run out of legs.
Bonnie Toogood in action for the Bombers against the Saints at Windy Hill.Credit: Getty Images
Essendon coach Natalie Wood said the two wins in a row was indicative of the growth of the side, which entered the AFLW competition just last season.
“It’s a nice growth in our evolution as a young, evolving team. Yeah [it’s] nice to get that consistency to go back to back,” said Wood.
She added she thought the game was a great contest – fought hard from both teams.
“[In] the first half, both teams were really strong around the ball and both teams had some momentum,” said Wood.
“And in the fourth quarter, that ball was going up and down, up and down, and we looked down on our legs. I looked at St Kilda, they looked about the same, so it was such a hard fought contest by both teams and I thought that was some really good football.”
For St Kilda coach Nick Dal Santo it’s back-to-back losses, with the Saints having lost to North Melbourne last weekend. He said they came into the game with a really clear plan on how to improve but they need to refocus once again.
“Ultimately a good result [is what] we came here for and there was a process that we went about and I thought for large chunks of the game, we got exactly what we wanted, we just missed a lot of opportunities,” Dal Santo said.
Steph Cain thanks the red-and-black faithful for turning out.Credit: AFL Photos
Jessie Wardlaw is proving to be a strong pick-up for the Saints. Despite being the league’s leading goalkicker last season and embodying all the chops of a key forward, she was moved intermittently into the ruck to help up the ground and at the contest.
Nicola Xenos and Jaimee Lambert were also strong around the ball.
It was also the second win for the weekend for Wood, who on Saturday won a premiership with Darebin in AFL Masters, where she also collected best on ground.
Hawthorn kick-start season with win over Bulldogs
Hawthorn have survived an arm-wrestle to post a seven-point victory over the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat.
Exploiting an injury-riddled Bulldogs side, the Hawks pipped their opponents 6.10 (46) to 5.9 (39) to snatch their first win of the season – and second-ever AFLW victory – at Mars Stadium on Sunday.
Kirsty McLeod created a fiery start for the Bulldogs by kicking two majors but her efforts were wasted, with the side unable to capitalise on a hard-earned five-point lead at quarter-time.
The Hawks dominated with fast ball movement in the corridor to deliver perfect service to Gaelic football converts Aine McDonagh (one goal, 11 disposals) and Aileen Gilroy (one, nine). Emily Bates (22 disposals, three clearances) was dangerous for the Hawks, while skipper Tilly Lucas-Rodd (21, five) led from the front and kicked their first goal.
But the Bulldogs were unwilling to give up, and a string of goals by former No.1 draft pick Gabrielle Newton, Sarah Hartwig and Brianna McFarlane gave them a 10-point lead before goals to Bridie Hipwell and Greta Bodey (two goals, 11 disposals) sealed the win.
Collingwood too good for Dockers
Collingwood have demolished Fremantle by 21 points to register their first win of the AFLW season.
Led by superstar captain Brianna Davey, the Magpies never trailed at Victoria Park on Sunday to keep the Dockers scoreless in the first and third terms. Nell Morris-Dalton was Collingwood’s only multiple goal-kicker, with two, as the Magpies prevailed 7.4 (46) to 3.7 (25).
Davey was brilliant with 19 disposals and a crucial goal, Aishling Sheridan (21 possessions) had one of her best games for the Magpies, while fellow star Britt Bonnici (20) put in another top performance in her comeback from an ACL injury.
Former league best-and-fairest winner Kiara Bowers could not have done anything more for Fremantle, finishing with a game-high 23 possessions and 18 tackles.
Kangaroos beat Blues to stay undefeated
Jasmine Garner led North Melbourne to a 60-point win over Carlton to ensure the Kangaroos remain unbeaten after two rounds of the AFLW season.
Garner dominated from the opening bounce as the Kangaroos kept the Blues scoreless until the dying stages in a 10.6 (66) to 1.0 (6) win at Arden Street Oval. She racked up 36 disposals, six clearances, and 10 inside 50s.
Former St Kilda player Kate Shierlaw (two goals, 10 disposals) opened the scoring for North in kicking the only goal of the first term. The Kangaroos added two more goals in the second term, despite Abbie McKay (25 disposals, six clearances) and Mimi Hill (30, six) working hard to lift the Blues.
North’s veteran skipper Emma Kearney stood tall in the back line, collecting 19 disposals, six intercept clearances and four marks, and it was much the same story in the second half, with the Blues playing on the Kangaroos’ terms.
Tahlia Randall (four goals, 15 disposals) added to the Kangaroos’ haul with two majors as the Blues remained scoreless in the third term.
Gaelic football star Erone Fitzpatrick (one goal, nine disposals, two clearances) ended the Blues’ scoring drought in the final stanza in kicking their only goal of the match. But it was nothing but a consolation for the Blues as the Kangaroos kicked a further four goals.
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