ULVERSTONE has booked its spot in the Tasmanian Women’s Statewide Grand Final after getting the job done in an imposing performance against Launceston at Dial Park in Penguin on the weekend. The Robins controlled play for nearly the entirety of the match, having 15 scoring shots to six – including 11 to two by the final break, but it took until a goal in the last two minutes from Amy Bissett to seal the 19-point victory.
In the first year of the new-look women’s football structure in Tasmania, Ulverstone and Launceston were the respective premiers in the NWFL and NTFA in the north of the state. By winning their respective leagues, they booked a spot in the preliminary final in order to have a shot at the winner of the Southern Football League (SFL) competition. Both sides came into the clash with some impressive young players and experienced heads, and in perfect football conditions, produced a hard-fought spectacle throughout four quarters.
For the most part, the game was dominated by Ulverstone in the forward half, with respective captains Meg Thompson (Ulverstone) and Dearne Taylor (Launceston) the best on ground for their respective sides. The Robins had more depth around the ground however, with ex-AFLW listed talents in Chloe and Libby Haines up opposite ends, and a sprinkling of talented Tasmania Devils players such as Meghan Gaffney and Candice Belbin through midfield and Bissett up forward who all caught the eye.
Neither team could really get on the board in a meaningful way early, with five behinds shared between the teams, and Ulverstone leading by three points at the first break. Bissett had a great run and set it up to Georgia Anderson, but the subsequent set shot missed. The Robins did the bulk of the attacking as it would prove to be the case for most of the game, with Bissett and Chloe Haines both having rushed shots on goal, which saw the Launceston defence up to the task. Up the other end, Kiara Mills had a chance on goal but was marked on the line, with Molly Clark‘s strong hands and booming kick around the ground having an impact for the Blues.
The second term saw Anderson put through the first major of the game six minutes into the term, with a contested ball win by Belbin getting the ball forward on the wing to a teammate in space, and leading to Anderson kicking the major. The Blues tried to respond immediately with Mills having a quick snap under pressure but bouncing through for a behind. It would be Launceston’s only goal of the game, as Bissett missed a chance she would usually gobble up, to put the margin at nine points heading into half-time. Ruby Mitchell was productive for the Robins alongside Thompson, Gaffney and Belbin, with Mikayla Binns and ruck Monique Duffy also getting involved with Clark and Taylor for the Blues.
It was complete one-way traffic for the Robins in the third term as they built an incredible 19-point lead by the final break. It should have been a lot larger, with Ulverstone kicked 1.4 to 0.0 to suffocate the Launceston attack and maintain forward possession for the majority of the term. The move of Belbin on-ball permanently was a huge success with the bottom-age talent having the ball on a string, whilst Thompson and Gaffney were busy again, and lead to Anderson having a crack at a second goal but was saved on the line by Hayley Whyte. The defensive work from Whyte had been great close to goal, but she tried to bite off too much charging out, tackled by Anderson who had another shot, but just missed.
Moments later she would get her chance though, with Thompson winning a free kick and it drifted to the pocket for Chloe Haines to mark uncontested, she popped it up to the top of the goalsquare where Anderson marked and slotted the major for her, and her team’s second goal. Despite the likes of Taylor, Whyte and Elyse Page working hard to stem the damage, the Robins kept on attacking, with Thompson having a couple of shots, with Page touching one on the line and another one being rushed across. The siren sounded soon other with an imposing 19-point lead to the Robins.
With a quarter to play, Launceston needed a quick response, and after Bissett had a snap around her body that was rushed through early in the term, the Blues provided it. They rushed it forward and had the best chance for goal after a free kick for downfield was paid to Despina Amerikanos. Her set shot missed though, and when Clark intercepted and had a shot from 40m that fell short and was cleared after a Duffy mark claim was not paid, it appeared their time, and luck had run out. They still attacked over the course of the next 10 minutes, peppering the goals desperate to get back into it, with a couple of rushed behinds with Ulverstone’s back six up to the task.
Finally Launceston got the goal they were deserving of, with Maddison Shaw winning a free kick 15m out and slotting it to cut the deficit to nine points with the faint sniff of a comeback. That was put to bed in the final few minutes though, with the Robins attacking and Bissett reading the play brilliantly off hands at the top of the goalsquare to snap the goal and send her team into the grand final. She had another chance running into goal in the final minute and almost began to celebrate her effort before it cannoned into the woodwork. Regardless, Ulverstone had got up by 19 points and progressed into the Women’s Statewide Grand Final.
Ulverstone will take on Glenorchy in the Tasmanian Women’s Stateleague Grand Final next weekend after the Magpies defeated Claremont 10.8 (68) to 5.2 (32) in the SFL Women’s Grand Final on Sunday.
ULVERSTONE 0.4 | 1.5 | 2.9 | 3.12 (30)
LAUNCESTON 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 1.5 (11)
Ulverstone: G. Anderson 2, A. Bissett.
Launceston: M. Shaw.
Ulverstone: M. Thompson, M. Gaffney, C. Belbin, G. Anderson R. Mitchell, A. Bissett
Launceston: D. Taylor, M. Clark, M. Brazendale, K. Mills, M. Duffy, M. Binns