A scintillating semi-final performance over Hawthorn has moved the Southern Saints move one step closer towards a Grand Final berth, coming out on top at Box Hill City Oval by 16 points today.
After a competitive opening term, a dominant third quarter and a mature closing to the game proved to be Hawthorn’s undoing as the Saints marched on to claim a 8.7 (55) to 6.3 (39) victory and a position in the preliminary final.
The Saints' hard work and reward for effort paid dividends in the opening half, eventually taking control to extend the margin to a comfortable 14 points at the main break. But the Hawks had other ideas after half-time.
Three majors from Mietta Kendall, Katelyn Cox and Sky Wilson – two of which were kicked from outside-50 and bounced through unopposed – to open the third term thrust the home side in front for the first time of the day, putting them in the box seat for a preliminary final appearance.
But when it seemed like the Saints were just close to the ropes, Gabriella De Angelis (17 disposals, one goal) Hannah Stuart (one goal, four clearances) and Tayla Kearns (13 disposals, four tackles, three goals) settled the nerves, delivering three final blows to give their side the ascendancy again.
Stuart was outstanding leading the Saints for disposals (29) and tackles (eight), while Deanna Jolliffe (22 disposals, eight marks, eight rebound-50s) and Rebecca Neaves (18 disposals, six tackles) were immense around the ground, particularly down back with the result in the balance.
Neither side capitalised on major scores in the final term, but the Saints' measured play in the final term was enough to ward off any late Hawthorn charge.
VFLW MATCH CENTRE: View all news, stats and videos from the semi-final
Forwards Kayla Ripari (11 disposals, three tackles) and Kearns again did damage in attack with two and three majors respectively.
The Southern Saints will meet Casey in the preliminary final on Sunday 26 June at ETU Stadium beginning at 4:05pm, with the winner to play Essendon in the 2022 rebel VFLW Grand Final.
Next week's match will be streamed free on AFL.com.au and the AFL Live Official App, with the stream able to be cast to your SmartTV via Chromecast and AirPlay.
SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.2 5.4 8.5 8.7 (55)
HAWTHORN 2.2 3.2 6.3 6.3 (39)
Southern Saints: Kearns 3, Ripari 2, De Angelis, Slater, Stuart
Hawthorn: Cox, Favell, Kendall, Stratton, Wilson, Wise.
Southern Saints: Stuart, Jolliffe, Kearns, Neaves, Flanagan, Black, Laing
Hawthorn: Cox, McRae, Stratton, Trend, Garner, Mifsud, Bolding