GLENELG has claimed its maiden South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s premiership after defeating West Adelaide by 23 points in a hard-fought and memorable grand final yesterday. The Bays lead from start to finish, as Adelaide AFL Women’s star Ebony Marinoff won best on ground honours for a remarkable 31-disposal game. Whilst West Adelaide showed plenty of promising signs for the future, Glenelg showed why they had reached the decider off a direct semi-finals win over Norwood, defeating Westies 5.10 (40) to 2.5 (17).
Glenelg came into the match with fresh legs after the week off, and the first goal in any grand final is important, but to get the ball rolling in the opening 30 seconds is rare. Jess Searle achieved just that with a superb major to get her side on the board. In what would be a fitting effort symbolic of her exploits on the day, Marinoff showed strength, poise and grace to snap a goal midway through the term to help her side to a 12-point quarter time lead.
Fellow AFL Women’s talent Chelsea Biddell got her side on the board seven minutes into the second term, and whilst Searle kicked her second major, soon Sarah Dargan got involved and Westies were back within five points with only a few minutes left in the half. Jessica Bates settled the nerves with an important response in the dying minutes of the first half, and the Bays headed into half-time with another 12-point advantage.
Neither team could really take the advantage in the third term, as Searle missed a chance, and Biddell kicked two behinds for Westies, and the teams were again separated by two straight goals when the break came about. With one quarter to play, Glenelg through everything at maintaining the lead, and whilst they could not quite find the big sticks for the most part – kicking five behinds as part of eight straight behinds since half-time – Marinoff came in and put the icing on the cake in the final minute to hand the Bays a memorable 23-point victory.
Glenelg lead the disposals (plus-36), marks (plus-12) and tackles (plus-12) in a really impressive inside and outside effort. Whilst the clearances did tip the Bays’ way (27-24), it was the hitouts (34-13) and inside 50s (43-14) that really weighed in the second placed side’s favour. West Adelaide did impressively well to clear the ball more often than not with a massive 37 rebound 50s to Glenelg’s 11, but in the end the weight of numbers won out and Glenelg was able to capitalise.
Marinoff was a clear best on ground with 31 disposals, three marks – one contested – five tackles, five clearances, seven inside 50s and two goals. Caitlin Gould dominated through the ruck with 27 hitouts, five clearances and six inside 50s to go with 21 touches, eight marks – six contested – and six tackles. Ellie Kellock (14 disposals, three marks, six clearances and five inside 50s) also dominated on the inside, whilst Brooke Tonon (14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, two clearances and two rebound 50s), Piper Window (13 disposals, two marks, two clearances and five inside 50s) and Sarah Goodwin (12 disposals, two marks, two tackles and seven inside 50s) all provided movement in transition.
For the Bloods, Sharnie Whiting stood up in defence with a whopping 14 rebounds 50s – the most of any individual in a game this year – as well as 24 disposals, two marks and three clearances. Young guns Lauren Young (18 disposals, six marks – five contested – four tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s), Keeley Kustermann (15 disposals, three tackles and four rebound 50s), acting captain Abbie Ballard (14 disposals, four tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and Zoe Venning (14 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) were all impressive. AFL Women’s talents in Biddell (14 disposals, six marks – five contested – four tackles, three hitouts, three rebound 50s and 1.3) and Dargan (14 disposals, four tackles, four clearances, two rebound 50s and a goal) also tried to provide a spark.
Upon being announced best on ground, Marinoff spoke of her love for returning to the yellow and black at the end of the AFLW season.
“It’s great to be able to come back to this league and help some players and I love this footy club and I’m so proud to be apart of Tigerland, the Bays,” she said. “The club supports us girls week-in, week-out and I just love coming back and playing for them and having an influence on the younger girls.
Glenelg premiership coach Jason Fairall praised his group saying everyone had helped lead the side to its premiership, not just the team on the day.
“To our squad .. there’s more than 22, there’s a lot more substance to our program than that. We’ve been on an intentional journey over the last four years. There’s been some ups and downs, and a fair bit of blood, sweat and tears and it does take a long, deep squad to contend at this level, so today’s not a result of 22 players, it’s because every single member of our squad has worked their backside off and surrendered the ‘me for we,’ so thank you players.”
In defeat, Ballard said Glenelg was the better team on the day, but praised her teammates for their efforts all season in getting the side to the decider.
“I just wanted to say how proud I am of you girls,” she said. “Devastated we didn’t get the win, but I could not be prouder, we did so well this season, we’ve worked so hard and just to get to the grand final was a huge achievement.”
GLENELG 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.5 | 5.10 (40)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 2.5 (17)
Glenelg: E. Marinoff 2, J. Searle 2, J. Bates.
West: C. Biddell, S. Dargan.
Glenelg: E. Marinoff, C. Gould, E. Kellock, P. Window, B. Tonon
West: S. Whiting, A. Ballard, L. Young, K. Kustermann, C. Biddell
Picture credit: SANFL