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VFLW: Southern Saints fall short

Peta Searle's Southern Saints came hard at Melbourne Uni but couldn't land the finishing blow. - St Kilda Saints,AFLW
Peta Searle's Southern Saints came hard at Melbourne Uni but couldn't land the finishing blow.
She’s a future superstar and no doubt will be picked up in the draft next year.
Peta Searle on Eleanor Brown

A late fightback by the Southern Saints has fallen short, with Melbourne Uni holding on for a three-point win at Skybus Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Saints trailed by 18 points heading into the final quarter, but two goals early in the term brought the home side to within five points of the lead.

Melbourne Uni responded with a goal before the Saints successfully locked the ball within their attacking half for the remainder of the quarter.

Several attempts at goal unfortunately only produced minor scores, but it was Saints forward Tara Bohanna who broke through in the 18th minute to put her side within three points.

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But as the Saints desperately surged to beat the clock and find a winner, Melbourne Uni stood firm and held out to claim the victory.

Saints head coach Peta Searle said her side “probably should have won in the end”, but that the result came down to effectiveness inside 50.

“We had a lot more scoring shots and a lot more opportunities inside 50,” Searle said post-match.

“Melbourne Uni was way more efficient when they went forward and looked like they were going to score every time. When we went in, our forward line was a bit crowded. Melbourne Uni’s was quite open.”

Kicking against the wind in the opening quarter, the Southern Saints struggled to hit the scoreboard, while Melbourne Uni snatched an early two-goal buffer.


The Saints struggled to find open space to move the ball forward, with Searle admitting it took a quarter for her midfielders to adjust to Melbourne Uni playing their numbers behind the ball.

“[Melbourne Uni] were looking to play surge footy into their forward line. But our mids adjusted, and we started to win a lot more of the ball,” she said.

It took until the 10th minute of the second quarter for the Saints to finally find the big sticks via forward Danielle Lawrence, before Jenna Owen snapped truly in the third.

Rhiannon Watt was again dominant in the ruck but often failed to hit out to advantage, as Melbourne Uni on-baller Madison Prespakis ran rampant through the middle.

And while final-quarter goals to Ashleigh Allsopp and Tara Bohanna (2.0) gave the Saints a sniff, they were ultimately unable to get over the line.

Although the loss means the Saints have now lost three in a row, Searle said she was again impressed by a number of her players’ efforts.

“Little Gabby De Angelis, her pressure was really high. She couldn’t quite find the scoreboard, but she looked dangerous every time the ball went down on the ground,” Searle said.

“Kayla Ripari was competing one on three, or one on four, and winning.

“And you’ve got Tara [Bohanna], who for three quarters of the game was doing all the right things but couldn’t quite finish it, but she gets it all together in the last quarter and basically almost won the game for us.”

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Another player who impressed was 18-year-old Eleanor Brown, who returned to the side after starring in the U18 Championships in Queensland last weekend, where she was named in the U18 All-Australian squad.

“She’s fantastic,” the coach said.

“She’s so strong for her age. You can put her anywhere, you can put her on the ball and she’ll win it, [you can] put her on the wing, she’ll win it and get territory and use her run,” Searle said of Brown.

“We were pretty short in defence, especially after Izzy [Quintal] came off and we used Brown there and she was pretty solid.

“She’s a future superstar and no doubt will be picked up in the draft next year.”

SOUTHERN SAINTS          0.0         1.1         2.3         5.6 (36)
GEELONG                            2.1         3.1         3.5         6.3 (39)

Goals:   T. Bohanna 2, A. Allsopp, D. Lawrence, J. Owen
Best:     R. Watt, K. Ripari, T. Bohanna, G. De Angelis, E. Brown, C. Jones


Southern Saints v Hawthorn
11.45am Saturday 28 July, Trevor Barker Beach Oval