Contributed by: Tash Gunawardana
It was a mild sunny day in Melbourne's South East. Hallam Reserve hosted the Women's Pool B top of the table clash between the Alfa Ireland Banshees and the Papua New Guinea Flames.
The contest in the opening quarter was even and tight with both teams unable to gain clear possession and to break the game open. It took to about the 10-minute mark of the first for the Banshees to get on top in the contest, as they were winning a lot more of the footy.
The Flames had more leg speed when they broke free clear with possession, but the Banshees were just using the ball more smartly and smoother with their movement with or without the ball. Virginia Kiwa (#10) came off towards the end of the opening term with what looked like a suspected knee injury. In the dying minutes of the first, Gillian Behan (#23) slotted through the first goal of the match.
Flames were strong in defence and withstood all of the Banshees attacking play in their forward half, as the amount of times the Banshees went in their forward half they should have scored more, but take your hat off to the Flames backline. Tonok Hedwick (#4) was a standout in defence for her team. The Banshees had a narrow lead of 9 points over the Flames at quarter time.
The second term began like the first with neither team dropping off in intensity and pressure. There were heaps of intense and fierce tackles early in the second from both teams. Also both teams were unable to get the ball pass the centre and therefore this made it hard for both teams to score.
Finally, the Banshees were able to get a clear kick into their attacking 50 and it paid off, as they were able to slot through the first major of the second from the goal square via Olivia McCann (#9). Rachel McGee (#3) played well in the second. The whole second quarter, the Flames had a loose woman in defence, so each time the Banshees kicked for goal or inside 50 she was able to clean up the ball and kick the ball out of her defensive 50.
Christine McCutcheon (#36) kicked a goal off a drop punt. The Banshees late in the second began to capitalise on their opportunities in front of goal. Deborah Geraghty (#29) slotted through another goal and there dominance was starting to show. Flames scored a behind, just before the siren sounded for half time. Flames were down by 26 at the major break.
Early in the third, the Flames had a couple inside 50s but were unable to trouble the scorers as the Irish defence held up well with intercept marks and possession. Taiva Lavai (#15) played well in the midfield for the Flames. Maebh Moriarty (#25) kicked a goal for the Banshees from 40m out. The Banshees started to tick the scoreboard over in the third. Aisling Gillespie (#19) dribbled through a goal for the Banshees who were showing all class with their disposal efficiency, ball skills and movement.
The Flames thought they had finally broke through with their first goal and the crowd went wild, but the Banshees told the umpires that it was touched. So there was a score review and to the sighs of the crowd the decision was reversed and sadly it was a point. Christine McCutcheon (#36) kicked accurately for another goal.
The Flames with a lot of play in their forward half, but with no luck in front of goal as the Banshees tackling pressure around the contest was immense and truly amazing viewing. Prudence Sindriwen (#25) was knocked hard in the contest and was barely moving. The play stopped for a few minutes as the trainers from both teams ran to her aid and they stretchered her off the ground to the change rooms.
Just before the match ended, the ambulance came to check up on Prudence Sindriwen (#25). Rachel McGee (#3) slotted through a great long goal from 52m out. The Flames were down by 49 at three quarter time.
It was an aggressive start to the last quarter from both teams. As a result, Amanda Maginn (#2) was knocked heavily to the ground and was on her knees. But she was able to get back up and she went back in the game.
The Banshees bench began to sing victoriously in Irish chants and songs 10 minutes into the last, because they knew they were home. Brigid Gaur (#1) was knocked hard to the ground and she seemed to be winded, as she came off the ground with the trainer, grasping for breath while she walked slowly to the bench.
It was a close and tough last quarter. Deborah Geraghty (#29) played well all match. Colleen Quinn (#22) took a great strong mark and kicked to Megan Creegan (#16) who went for goal, but the ball just fell short. Olivia McCann (#9) just before the siren sounded slotted through the Banshees ninth and final goal of the match. The Banshees posted a massive win over the Flames by 57 points in a hard fought clash.
The Banshees showed why they are top of the ladder in the Women’s competition with cleaner ball skills and slicker ball movement and why they are still the only undefeated team heading into finals.
Credit to the flames who gave it their all to the end with lots of inside 50s, but they struggled to kick any goal. This match was hard fought from both teams with three players coming off second best in the contest. It looked like all the players from both teams will be sore tonight.
Full Time Score: IRE 9.6 (60) to PNG 0.3 (3)
World Footy News