A THIRD week of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals, a third straight upset from fifth placed Southern Saints who are now just one win away from claiming the ultimate prize. After defeating Geelong and Hawthorn in the past fortnight, the Southern Saints toppled Casey Demons by 20 points at ETU Stadium to advance through to the 2022 VFL Women’s Grand Final. The red, white and blacks slammed home five straight goals after Casey kicked the first to set up the memorable win in typical Melbourne winter conditions.
After going down to Essendon the week before, Casey was looking to bounce back and reach the grand final, while the Southern Saints’ hoped their fairytale run to the decider could continue. It was a tough and tight opening term with the Saints first on the board through a Charlotte Ryan behind, and then Gabriella De Angelis double that score. In what would be their only scoring shot of the first half, Casey hit the scoreboard with a major first through Cara McCrossan. That would be their only real joy over the next two and a half quarters, as goals either side of the first break to Chanelle Slater and De Angelis regained the lead and then extended it. Another goal – a late one to Tayla Kearns brought the half-time advantage to 15 points.
Every goal was incredibly valuable given the conditions, and it was Slater who would be first on the board in the second half with her second, to push the lead out to 23 points. Casey had some forward half momentum but could not put a meaningful score on the board, with a rushed behind just the Demons’ second scoring shot of the match. To drive the dagger in further, Kearns nailed her second goal, and by three quarter time, the Saints were out to a massive 28-point lead. Using their own Twitter account’s words, Casey needed a “miracle” and though they were able to score a couple of early behinds, the missed conversion hurt and the Saints defence stood up. Zoe Mitchell kicked a late on the match to bring the final margin back to 20 points, but it did little to the result, with the Saints marching on to the grand final with a 5.5 (35) to 2.3 (15) victory.
Despite the impressive win, both teams had their chances, with the Saints having 15 more disposals (221-206), six more marks (39-33), four more inside 50s (31-27) and 10 more clearances (34-24), but the Demons won the hitouts (41-38) and laid five more tackles (85-80). Leading the way for the Saints was the experience of Hannah Stuart who picked up 22 disposals, two marks, 11 tackles and an equal game-high eight clearances, working well with Grace Buchan (23 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and five clearances). De Angelis (17 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, three clearances and a goal) was critical, whilst Kearns’ two majors came from 12 touches, six marks and five tackles. Madison Capsalis (21 disposals, five tackles and four clearances) and Rebecca Neaves (17 disposals, three marks and five clearances) were also strong in the Saints’ victory.
For the Demons, it marked the end of their season after defeating Collingwood in the first week of finals to earn the double chance, but then were no match for the Bombers last week. Maeve Chaplin had a dominant performance with 19 disposals, four marks, six tackles and eight clearances for the Demons to consider re-listing her for Season 7 of the AFL Women’s, while ex-Saint Samantha Johnson helped herself to 16 touches, two marks and 15 tackles. Stephanie Wales (19 disposals, five marks, four tackles, 12 hitouts and two clearances), Melanie Hogg (17 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four clearances) and McCrossan (14 disposals, six tackles, three clearances and a goal) were also among the Demons’ best.
CASEY DEMONS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.3 (15)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.5 | 5.5 (35)
Casey Demons: C. McCrossan, Z. Mitchell
Southern Saints: T. Kearns 2, C. Slater 2, G. De Angelis 2
Casey Demons: M. Chaplin, S. Johnson, S. Wales, M. Hogg, C. McCrossan
Southern Saints: H. Stewart, G. Buchan, G. De Angelis, T. Kearns, R. Neaves