Those in attendance will long remember the inaugural women’s representative match between the NFNL and South Eastern Women, with extra time needed to decide a winner.
It was a combative affair at Preston City Oval that saw both sides end normal time on 4.6 (30). The NFNL had opportunities to edge into the lead in the final term but could not break through the resilient SEW defence.
The NFNL dominated in the first half of extra time but could not score the elusive point that would have given them the lead.
All of their dominance ended in dismay, as Chloe Hunt found space to take a mark and kick the sealing point for the South Eastern Women in their 4.7 (31) to 4.6 (30) win.
Hunt was a presence up forward for the South Eastern Women, kicking 3.3 of the SEW’s 4.7 (31) score.
Speaking after the game, both coaches praised all the players and said experience gained was the most important outcome from the match.
NFNL coach Chyloe Kurdas said her players had grown as footballers and both sets of players would have learned a lot from the contest.
Vice-captain Ellie Koiker was awarded best on ground for the NFNL for her outstanding performance in midfield, which saw her rack up plenty of possessions and almost will her side to victory in the final term.
For the South Eastern Women, Olivia Aing was awarded best on ground by her coach, Megan Snart. Despite her small stature, Aing was always on the bottom of the packs and her defensive pressure was crucial in stopping the NFNL in the final term.
The NFNL began the game in style by kicking the first goal of the contest within two minutes of the opening bounce. Ashleigh Bayes created history by kicking the NFNL’s first goal in representative women’s football.
Led by Keilor star Gemma Wright in midfield, the NFNL piled pressure on the SEW defence, but could not covert from their numerous forward entries.
It took over 10 minutes for the South Eastern Women to enter their forward line and when they did, Chloe Hunt was on hand to kick their first goal of the contest.
Leading by a point at quarter time, the South Eastern Women looked to increase their lead early in the second term.
Hunt was proving too strong up forward and took a number of strong pack marks. The 20-year-old kicked her second goal of the game, and could have added more if it were not for wayward kicking in front of goal.
Sarah Astone goaled early in the third term to increase the South Eastern Women’s lead to 11 points, before goals to South Morang duo Tara Chetcuti and Cassie Hurst equalled the scores at the final break.
NFNL coach Chyloe Kurdas urged her players to increase their physicality and her team delivered in the final term by crashing packs and applying pressure.
Hunt kicked her third goal of the game, but again the lead was reduced by Hurst, who kicked her second for the home side.
Koiker tried to will her side to victory but the South Eastern Women’s defence proved too resilient to break down.
Extra time appeared to do little to separate the sides. However, just as it appeared golden point may be required to work out a winner, Hunt was on hand to kick the match-winning point.
Final score: NFNL 4.6 (30) def by SEW 4.7 (31)