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VFLW: Saints storm home in thriller

RD 13 | Southern Saints v Essendon Watch highlights of the Southern Saints Round 13 win over Essendon. Presented by Reflex

The Southern Saints have stormed home to defeat Essendon in a nail-biter.

The Southern Saints were forced to come-from behind in a thriller at Windy Hill on Saturday. 

Trailing by 15 points at three quarter time, the Saints dug deep to overhaul the Dons 7.4(46) to 7.2(44) in the Towards Zero Round.

Sam Johnson was again a standout through the middle, while impressive tall Kate Shierlaw kicked three goals, including two in the final term to drag her side over the line.

Shierlaw’s double saw the Saints close to within one straight kick of unlikely victory, before young gun Oliva Veseley put her side in front in the dying minutes.

Despite a lowly ladder position, the Bombers leapt from the blocks with the first four goals of the game.

Lucas Tilly-Rodd and Ali Brown lifted but despite their surging runs and intercept marking, the Saints struggled to find an avenue to goal.

The hosts threatened to run away from the game as they kicked their fifth just after the restart, but finally the Saints clicked into gear.

Johnson combined with Lucas-Rodd as they switched the play in order to create space in the forward 50.

The ball found Tara Bohanna and the important forward made no mistake from the set shot.

Goals to Caitlin Greiser and Shierlaw put the Saints within touching distance before the main break.

But the Bombers responsed in the third, hitting the scoreboard first to extend lead to 14 points.

The Saints hit back when Emma Mackie pulled the deficit back to single figures midway through the third term.

It was then Shierlaw stepped up, delivering two crucial goals and paving the way for Vesely to play the hero.

The remaining seconds proved to be a scrappy affair as neither team could pick up the moving ball cleanly, but the final siren sounded as the Saints scrambled to a two point win.

Senior coach Peta Searle said it was good that some of the senior players stood up in the last term to give the team some momentum.

“I think a few people stood up basically,” she said.

“Emma Mackie was pretty important in the midfield, Kate Shierlaw was really important at the front of the ball.”

“The way she attacked and launched at the ball and some of the goals she kicked, that’s probably how we won in the end.

“To the girls credit at one stage we were five goals behind and we needed five goals to get in front so to claw our way back and to do that in women’s footy is a really impressive effort.”

Despite the win, Searle said there are still some concerns about how the defence shaped up.

“We didn’t quite get the system right behind the ball,” she said.

“The fact they had one loose with 10 seconds to go in front of the ball is not on.

“So it just goes to show that we have a lot of work to do in our team defence even though we have been good, there is still a lot of work to do.”

The Southern Saints will head into the bye week before they prepare for a clash with Hawthorn.

“A break at this time of year is always helpful, ”she said.

“They will have a bit of time off and hopefully refresh and come back for Hawthorn.

“Hawthorn are going to be hard, I mean we beat them last time, but their personal has changed and gotten better.

“So we have to lift again.”