VFLW 2022 Season Preview – Port Melbourne

THE 2022 VFL Women’s season is almost here, so it is time to take a look at each of the competing teams and see where they sit as another season approaches. Today, Rookie Me Central takes a look at Port Melbourne, who lost in the elimination final in 2021.

Last year was Port Melbourne’s first season in the VFLW after taking over Richmond’s VFLW license and becoming the Tigers’ aligned club.

Although it was the Borough’s first season in the competition, it could not have got off to a much better start. They won their first seven matches to stun the competition. In Round 8 though, they lost to Casey and that is where things started to go downhill.

In the next two matches, they beat Darebin by four goals but then lost to the Saints by 27 points. In the last month of the season they beat the Dees and Roos but lost to the Magpies and Hawks to ultimately finish in third on the ladder. Thise results found the Borough battling the Saints in an elimination final in the first week of the finals, which they lost and their season was done.

They have a new coach in this year. Sean Buncle replaces Lachlan Harris, who went to St Kilda to become an assistant coach with the AFLW side. They also have an extra captain this season, with Claire Dyett sharing duties with last year’s captain Melissa Kuys.

Buncle said that preseason has been going well, but certainly had its challenges because of Covid. He said that although it is quite a big role that he has come into, he has enjoyed every minute of the role.

Reflecting on last season, the captains agreed that it was an exciting but frustrating one.

“Last season was really exciting,” Dyett said. “I think going seven and 0 was such an exciting time. “Even winning Round 1 against North Melbourne was probably one of the coolest days, and just singing out the song was awesome. I think we definitely dipped off to the end of the year which everyone could see but learning experience, get another really good preseason in, get some new people in which is good, but I think we had a really good season to be honest, for a first year program.”

Kuys agreed, and added that no one at the club had thought the season would start as it did.

“I think if we looked back and had a conversation prior to the season starting, we would have never have though we’d be seven and 0, being a new club and obviously everything was new… so developing, united and being on the same page so quickly was pretty exciting for us as a footy club and I think going into this season that is definitely our goal, and to continue to get those wins under our belt, especially at the back end of the season is probably one of our main focuses.”

There are a number of new faces at the Borough this season. Akayla Peterson has come across from Carlton, and is a versatile mid and forward.

Kate Dudley and Bridie Winbanks are both rucks who have come across from Hawthorn and Casey respectively. Hanna Fosbrooke is very quick and has come down from the Northern Territory.

Buncle said the Borough had a few ultimate goals for 2022.

“I think there’s a few ways we want to measure success. One of them is certainly around our culture, so we’re looking to build something that’s going to be sustainable across a long period,” he said.

“We want to win games and we want to do all that sort of stuff and play finals and that’s an expectation of the club, but we want that to be something that we’re building a high performance environment where people feel welcome and want to get the best out of themselves and become a bit of a destination club in that sense over a long period of time.

“Obviously if you’re looking results wise, we expect that we want to continue on with how we started last year and be successful in that right but not just starting off the season really well and tapering off, we want to make sure that we successfully navigate all the challenges of VFL level that happens with obviously there’s a period in the season where you can sign players and things like that.”

Both captains agreed that the ultimate goal is finals and a premiership, but they also want to be more consistent and go one better than they did last year. They were frustrated by how the season ended, and they are hoping to avoid a repeat in 2022.

They had a practice match last weekend against Hawthorn, which although the score line was rather lopsided, all agreed that it was a good “first hit out” and blew out some cobwebs.

They have one final practice match this weekend against Casey, which will be used more to confirm what their Round 1 line up will look like. This will be their last chance to fix up any issues before they face the Dees again in Round 1.

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