AN historic match took place as the curtain raiser match at Preston City Oval on Saturday, as the Women’s Northern Football Netball League and the South Eastern Women’s Football League both played their first ever matches of representative interleague football.
The first ever SEWF League side featured representatives from Mornington in Emily Rylance, Riley Cridland, Vicki Sanford, and Georgia Speedy. Jess Johnston, Jess Adams, and Sarah Astone were selected from Seaford.
The side, led by Cranbourne’s Emily Wallace, struggled early, conceding within two minutes as NFNL’s Ashleigh Bayes made her mark by scoring the league’s first goal in representative football with a scrappy effort from the goal square.
The SEWF League side struggled in the first quarter, with the NFNL women consistently rebounding every time SEWF tried to clear their defensive lines.
After a difficult start, Chloe Hunt eventually stood tall to kick SEWF’s first for the game just before quarter time. After the first break Hunt used strong hands again to take a mark and put away her second of the match.
Hunt’s second quarter effort was the only goal for the quarter, and both teams found themselves neck and neck at half time with the scores 2.4 (16) to 1.6 (12).
As the second half began, SEWF’s Olivia Aing continued to prove a massive influence on the game through the midfield, driving her side forward and creating dangerous opportunities for the forwards.
Early in the second half it was SEWF that had the upper hand, with Sarah Astone taking a spectacular one handed grab and converting easily to put her side 10 points ahead of their NFNL opponents.
Despite their positive start, NFNL hit back with two goals through Tara Chetcuti and Cassie Hurst, which put their side in front for the first time since the two minute mark of the first quarter. Hurst’s goal, which gave her side the advantage, just barely scraped through past outreached fingers on the goal line.
At three-quarter time, it was set up for a thrilling finish, with nothing separating either side at the final break.
As the final quarter got underway, Chloe Hunt again struck for SEWF, scoring her third to put her side ahead with an easy finish from the goal square.
With time ticking away, controversy struck after Seaford’s Jess Adams was caught holding the ball after a heavy tackle, in which she was left groggy after hitting her head into the ground. The resulting free kick saw Cassie Hurst put NFNL level with just eight minutes to play.
As time wound down, NFNL were relentless in attack, but SEWF’s lose player in defence consistently intercepted and rebounded to eliminate the danger. Olivia Aing was manic in the dying moments, diving to get the ball off of the ground, but still the two sides remained deadlocked as time ticked down.
In the closing seconds, controversy again struck with the last kick of the game. A long ball forward to a one on one contest inside the NFNL forward fifty saw SEWF’s Riley Cridland and NFNL’s Linda Thorp both get hands on the ball, with neither letting go as they appeared to mark simultaneously. The umpire made the call that Cridland had got first hands on the football, and paid the mark to the defender.
WIth that decision, there was no time left for any more action in regulation time, with the final siren sounding with scores equal at 4.6 (30) to 4.6 (30).
With the game now set to go to two extra time periods of five minutes, SEWF would have to compete a woman down with Adams ruled out for the remainder of the game.
After a frantic, scrappy, and scoreless first half of extra time, it was Chloe Hunt who again stood tall to take a huge mark in the second period of time on. While she could only score a behind, it didn’t matter, as her point was the final score of the game.
With SEWF locking down the ball expertly to kill off any chance of an NFNL attack, the siren sounded and finally the South Eastern Women’s Football League side secured the history making win, 4.6 (30) to 4.7 (31).
Olivia Aing was named the best on ground for the day, and coach Megan Snart commended her women on a gutsy performance.
“Both team fought hard and it was very competitive over four quarters. Both leagues were represented well and it was a great spectacle,” she said in her post match presentation.