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VFLW: Southern Saints back on track

The Southern Saints are back on the winner's list after a convincing 31-point win over the Bulldogs. - St Kilda Saints,Western Bulldogs,AFLW
The Southern Saints are back on the winner's list after a convincing 31-point win over the Bulldogs.
They don’t need a lot of fire, they are quite intrinsically motivated, but it is a reminder of how much it hurts when you don’t get it done.
Peta Searle

The Southern Saints have put a disappointing month of football behind them with a dominant 31-point victory over the Western Bulldogs at Henry Turner Reserve on Sunday afternoon.

Peta Searle’s young side came into the match on the back of four straight losses, faced with a monumental challenge in breaking the Bulldogs’ own six-match winning streak.

The physicality of the contest was sorely felt, with numerous players forced from the field, but it was the Saints who controlled proceedings over the four quarters, keeping the Dogs goalless after the sixth-minute mark of the opening term.

PHOTOS: The best snaps from the 31-point win

Saints head coach Peta Searle said it was their defensive effort all over the ground that proved the difference between the two sides.

“We’ve shown glimpses in the last couple of games, but we haven’t been able to play out the four quarters,” Searle said.

“[Today] we beat the Bulldogs in the contest and used the ball better.”

The Bulldogs benefited from a strong gale in the opening term as Jessica Francke booted the first of the day.

But it would prove to be the Bulldogs’ last.

The Saints controlled play across the rest of the quarter with repeated inside-50 entries, but struggled to get reward for effort on the scoreboard.

The breakthrough came from debutante Holly Bate as she kicked the Saints first major late in the term, before Tara Bohanna slotted another on the siren to extend the Saints lead to eight points at the first break.

Heading into the second term, the Saints wasted no time, with Amy Silver converting less than a minute after the opening bounce.

The Saints’ forward pressure proved too much for the Bulldogs, with the ball locked inside 50 for the majority of the quarter.

Kelly Thompson came off late in the quarter after a nasty head knock with Bulldogs defender Libby Birch left both with bloodied faces.

While Thompson returned in the third term heavily bandaged, the Saints were one player down after Monique Maitland’s day was cut short.

With only behinds scored by both teams in the third term after the Bulldogs evened the contest around the ball, the Saints headed into the final quarter with a healthy 18-point lead.

It was key forwards Courteney Munn and Bohanna (3.0) who converted to extend the margin and seal the Saints’ fifth win of the season.

Searle believes it was the number of inside-50s that proved a key difference on the day.

“[We had] 36 inside-50s to their 17 … we’ve struggled to get it over 20,” she said.

“It was a goal of ours to have over 25 and for the Bulldogs to have less than 25, so we smashed it.”

Searle also said “without a doubt” that close losses to Melbourne Uni (three points) and Hawthorn (nine) over the past fortnight proved a motivating factor for the team.

“They don’t need a lot of fire, they are quite intrinsically motivated. But it is a reminder of how much it hurts when you don’t get it done,” Searle said.

With another young debutante in Bate, Searle was pleased with the number of young players who have come into the team. 

“Almost every game we have had a young player debut,” she said.

“For us to be reasonably consistent over the year in a team that has played so many different players is a real credit to the team itself.”

One young player who again stood out was Eleanor Brown, who just this week was invited to the NAB 2018 AFLW Draft Combine.

Ultimately though, it was the entire team’s effort that got the Saints over the line against the Bulldogs.

“Ali Drennan fought hard, she was tagged a bit. Her footy IQ is going to another level as she is becoming a tagged player, and she is working through that,” Searle said.

“Ali Brown was a positive today in her second week back from being out for three weeks. She understands the game and gets into really good spots, and was really strong.”

Searle was also impressed by the backline duo of Leah Olsen and Selena Karlson.

“They started to work together a bit more,” Searle said.

“Leah has had a really good couple of weeks, and Selena was really positive today in terms of playing in front of her player and allowing herself the opportunity to mark the ball and not just compete.”


The Southern Saints will now meet the fifth-placed Darebin Falcons at Bill Lawry Oval next Saturday.

WESTERN BULLDOGS   1.0         1.0         1.3         1.3 (9)
SOUTHERN SAINTS        2.2         4.2         4.3         6.4 (40)

GOALS  T. Bohanna 3, C. Munn, A. Silver, H. Bate

BEST     K. Ripari, R. Watt, T. Bohanna, E. Brown, S. Karlson, G. De Angelis


Darebin vs Southern Saints 
12pm Saturday 11 August, Bill Lawry Oval