Second half charge helps Rebels remain undefeated in wind-swept Ballarat

AN impressive second half from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at wind-swept Mars Stadium in Ballarat, has seen them remain undefeated after three rounds. The winners did not kick a goal until the twelfth minute mark of the third term, but when they got a taste for it, they took control, running out 4.9 (33) to 1.2 (8), keeping the Jets to just two behinds after quarter time in an impressive 25-point win.

With a huge breeze blowing to the Midland Highway end of the ground, the Jets were able to have the early advantage, but it took a remarkable effort from Montana Ham just inside 50 to get the first and only score of the first term on the board after some nice running and the release handball from Charlotte Baskaran. Ham utilised the open goalsquare for it to bounce home with a wonderfully accurate kick, coming moments after she rebounded it out of the back 50 following a safe mark to repel a Rebels attack. While the scores were not piling up, there were a number of defensive efforts from both sides with Marli Klaumanns-Moller laying a terrific tackle on Isabella Simmons to save a goal in the opening five minutes, while Melina Ciavarella did the same up the opposite end to stop a certain goal. Isabelle Pritchard was having an impact off half-back, with the AFL Women’s National Academy member teaming up well with Ham and Baskaran in the back half of the ground, while Caitlin Sargent was presenting at every opportunity. Despite the Jets largely dominating possession – and an impressive run down the win by Baskaran – they only led by six points heading into quarter time. For the Rebels, Alice Astbury was having an impact on debut, while Zoe Larkins was busy in the first term.

Now with the breeze themselves, the Rebels continued their brutal defensive pressure with Chloe Leonard laying a ripping tackle at half-back, as Round 1 hero, Renee Saulitis achieved the home team’s first score – albeit a behind – with a snap from a tight angle. Astbury was continually building through the middle with some important touches, while Maggie Caris‘ height and leap was a huge factor in the middle giving her smaller midfielders a chance at first touch against the taller Jets’ midfield. Sargent continued to be a headache for the Rebels defenders with her work up and down the ground, while Amelia Velardo was doing her best in the ruck, but impressing around the ground with a long wobbly kick inside 50 but Annie Gray could not quite find the space to capitalise close to goal and Nyakoat Dojiok cleared the danger. Late in the term, Ham copped a knock to the back of her head through a marking contest, but bounced back up and with Pritchard was a key reason for the Jets maintaining a three-point lead at half-time and keeping the Rebels goalless.

It was the third term where the game was won, with the Rebels remarkably having the ball locked inside their forward 50 for the majority of the quarter, with their defenders holding a high line. Despite the Jets having the wind, they could not get it into the forward 50 until the 15th minute of the term, with the only saving grace being the fact that the Rebels had kicked three consecutive behinds to be level with the Jets, 0.6 to 1.0. Such was the wind up the scoreboard end that one shot on goal from a snap by the Rebels held up in the breeze and came back into the field of play for the Jets to clear. Simmons was continually involved but could not break free, and it took an unlucky high tackle from a Jets defender on Astbury to finally break the deadlock. The debutant won the free kick straight in front and slotted it truly 12 minutes into the term. While it was the only goal of the term, it handed the home team a six-point lead with a quarter – and the wind – to play. Western’s big ball winners were still finding plenty of it, with Velardo (20 disposals, five tackles), Pritchard (17 disposals, three marks and three tackles), Ham (17 disposals, two marks and four rebounds) and Baskaran (15 disposals, two marks, eight tackles and three inside 50s). For the Rebels, Friend (14 touches, three marks, four tackles and five inside 50s) and Astbury (14 disposals, two marks and six inside 50s) were the best, while Caris was up to 23 hitouts from 12 disposals and a couple of inside 50s.

Both sides knew the importance of an early goal in the contest, and Sargent almost got her name in the books with a great passage of play. She won the ball off Pritchard at half-forward, kicked it long, then worked her way into space to mark uncontested about 35m out from goal. The set shot was on target but touched on the line. The Jets had a couple of chances in the final term, but the wind was making it difficult for the visitors, only kicking the two behinds as the likes of Astbury and Friend were combining well between midfield and forward. In fact it was Friend who took it upon her self on a tight angle to kick a running goal at the end of a chain of handballs to give the Rebels a 10-point buffer, and then backed up not long after to take a strong one-grab mark outside 50 on the lead. Sargeant, along with Ciara Singleton was working hard in the defensive half to nullify the forward thrusts. It was feeling like one more major would seal the deal, and it came through Paige Scott who perfectly roved a contest with the ball getting out to her and she snapped it off a step for a terrific goal and a 16-point lead at the 12-minute mark of the term. Lilli Condon was also working hard through the midfield with bursts and had a chance on the end of another chain of handballs, but missed, as did Saulitis who finished with four behinds for the day, but all were from tricky angles under pressure.

It was fitting that the best on ground, Astbury (15 disposals, three marks, six inside 50s and two goals) would put through the final nail in the coffin off Friend (19 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six inside 50s and one goal) who pumped a ball-burster into her teammate on the lead and pierced one home. It was a real team effort from the Rebels who celebrated the win, while the Jets were strong for the most part, but were unable to take advantage with the wind in the third term, and then the opposition got momentum in the final quarter. Also impressive was Caris (15 disposals, four inside 50s and 33 hitouts) through the ruck and Condon (16 disposals, five tackles, six inside 50s) across the ground, while Dojiok (12 disposals, two inside 50s and two rebounds) and Leonard (12 disposals, three tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds) were impressive in the back half. For the Jets, Pritchard and Velardo both shared in 50 disposals and 19 tackles, as well as a combined four inside 50s and eight rebounds. Ham worked hard for 19 touches, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Baskaran (17 disposals, two marks, nine tackles and three inside 50s), Singleton (11 disposals, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds), Sargent (10 disposals, eight tackles) and Klaumanns-Moller (13 disposals, five tackles and five rebounds) were all impressive for the losing side.

GWV REBELS 0.0 | 0.3 | 1.6 | 4.9 (33)
WESTERN JETS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

GWV: A. Astbury 2, P. Scott, E. Friend.
Western: M. Ham.

ADC BEST:

GWV: A. Astbury, M. Caris, E. Friend,  L. Condon, N. Dojiok, C. Leonard
Western: I. Pritchard, A. Velardo, M. Ham, C. Sargent, C. Singleton, C. Baskaran

DC Medal:

5 – Alice Astbury (GWV)
4 – Maggie Caris (GWV)
3 – Isabelle Pritchard (WJ)
2 – Ella Friend (GWV)
1 – Amelia Velardo (WJ)

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