The Southern Saints have started the 2023 VFLW Season on the perfect note, defeating Darebin by 33 points at LaTrobe University as it looks to atone for last year’s Grand Final loss.

The red, white and black dealt the deciding blows within the opening of six minutes of the game and didn’t look back, with goals to Sera Kaukiono, Dakota Mason and Tayla Kearns – whose major was kicked in the game’s first 20 seconds – giving their opponents a tough bridge to overcome.

Darebin managed just one goal either side of half-time, both from Alyssa Mifsud, and with just 14 inside-50s for the match succumbed to the Saints’ press 2.1 (13) to 6.10 (46).

Jemima Wrigley (19, five clearances, eight inside-50s), Tessa Boyd (18, seven marks), Margaret Kershaw (19, 13 hit-outs), Madison Capsalis (17, six tackles, one goal) and Charlotte Ryan (19) stood out in the overall even contribution under new coach Michelle Densley, but it was Winnie Laing who was arguably best on ground.

Laing’s influential 16 disposals and five tackles set the agenda for the Southern Saints, whose charge was met with resistance by the injury-free Angelica Gogos (24 disposals, nine tackles, eight clearances) in her first outing for the Falcons.

VFLW MATCH CENTRE: View all news, stats and videos from Round 1

The home side only squeezed out the one behind in the final term despite having the momentum in its favour, yet still ended the round on top of the VFLW ladder to resume its hunt for another Grand Final tilt.

The Southern Saints will gun for Grand Final revenge next Sunday at Wilson Storage Trevor Barker Beach Oval, while Darebin will eye off its first win of the year against Casey on the same day on the Demons’ home deck.

DAREBIN  1.0  1.0  2.0  2.1 (13)
3.4  5.5  6.9  6.10 (46)

Mifsud 2
Southern Saints:
Wrigley, Mason, Kearns, Kaukiono, Foran, Burke

Gogos, Phillips, Egan, Shonne, Blackwood
Southern Saints:
Laing, Wrigley, Boyd, Phillips, De Angelis