Five-goal first term key to Baird’s back-to-back win

FIVE goals to one in the opening term set the tone for an impressive Team Baird win in the AFL Women’s Under 17 Championships clash against fellow Northern Territory side, Team Ponter. Baird booted 5.2 to 1.0 in the opening term, with the 26-point margin being the difference in the end, as they won 12.5 (77) to 8.5 (53). Future talent Kyanne Campbell slotted five goals in an outstanding best on ground performance.

It was a flurried start by Baird in the game having only won by a solitary point the last time the teams met a week earlier. It took less than two minutes for Erini Gikas to slot the first major on the run, and soon the Campbell party came to town with back-to-back goals to blow the early margin out to 19 points. Campbell’s ability to find space where there is very little caught the eye, and Team Baird was in complete control in the opening five minutes of the match.

Kalliopi Gikas finally got Ponter on the board at the eight-minute mark with a goal, pouncing on a loose ball and making no mistake, but it was not long before Thea Wischusen and Rhania Hewitt kicked majors over the next few minutes, and the lead was out to 26 points. Ponter talent Grace Whittaker was starting to influence the contest, and soon Ciana Niesner scored a much needed goal for the trailing side. It was not long before a 50-metre penalty in favour of Brooke Campbell saw her slot the goal from 30 metres out, and then Amber Wunungmurra did the same from a similar distance.

Ponter needed a swift response and it came from the talented Whittaker who snapped with the outside of her boot to sail home, and it looked like Niesner was set for a second major by running into an open goal but could not cleanly connect. They had the momentum, but still trailed by the 26 points at half-time after an even 2.2 apiece quarter.

The second half was just as even, with neither side really able to gain any clear momentum on the opposition, proving that the first quarter burst from Baird was critical. Annabel Kievit, who returned from running out with the Gold Coast Suns Academy in the Queensland clash the previous week, hit the scoreboard after being lively early and cut the deficit back to 20 points. Soon Baird responded through Lahni Gilby and Kyanne Campbell who kicked her third to push the lead back out to beyond five goals.

Just as it looked like the game was getting beyond doubt, Alyssa Caruana and then five minutes later Kierra Zerafa slotted majors for Ponter to give the side hope of a comeback. Kyanne Campbell’s fourth put a huge dint in that plan though, with the margin once again at 26 points with a quarter to play. Any hope of a comeback was soon snuffed out by Campbell’s fifth just 35 seconds into the final term, and when Sandringham Dragons talent and Gold Coast Suns Academy representative J’Noemi Anderson hit the scoreboard three minutes into the quarter, the lead was out to a game-high 38 points.

Team Ponter scored the last 2.2 with second goals to Niesner and Whittaker to close out proceedings, but it would not be enough, going down by four goals, 12.5 (77) to 8.5 (53). Campbell was the dominant goalscorer on the ground with five majors, as Whittaker and Niesner both slotted two apiece for the losing side. After being impressive in the opening game deep, Baird forward Siniva Sa’Anga played up the ground and was among the best, with Gikas and Wunungmurra also impressive. Anderson looked a class above when she won the ball, whilst Whittaker was again the standout for the losers. Latina Cagney had plenty of the ball herself, whilst Kievit showed why she had caught the Gold Coast Suns Academy’s eye.

With the Northern Territory AFL Women’s Under 17 Championships done and dusted, many of the players will now head off to the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s as it returns this coming weekend.

TEAM BAIRD 5.2 | 7.4 | 10.5 | 12.5 (77)
TEAM PONTER 1.0 | 3.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)

GOALS:

Baird: K. Campbell 5, E. Gikas, A. Wunungmurra, J. Anderson, T. Wischusen, R. Hewitt, L. Gilby, B. Campbell.
Ponter: G. Whittaker 2, C. Niesner 2, A. Kievit, K. Zerafa, K. Gikas, A. Caruana.

DC BEST:

Baird: K. Campbell, S. Sa’Anga, A. Wunungmurra, K. Anderson
Ponter: G. Whittaker, A. Kievit, K. Gikas, L. Cagney

Picture credit: Celina Whan / AFL Photos

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