ON the weekend Essendon topped off a splendid 2022 VFLW season with a premiership, and a crucial part in that win was Lisa Hardeman medallist Alana Barba. Although many expected other Bombers to come away with Best on Ground honours, Barba’s game was one of those that was crucial, but also under the radar. This Player Focus will take a look at her performance in the Grand Final.
FINAL STATS VS SOUTHERN SAINTS
Disposals: 18 (7 kicks and 11 handballs)
Barba was certainly around the contest for much of the first term, and subsequently got plenty of the ball, leading her side in the disposal count for the quarter. However, there were many other positives she showed in the first term.
Her running ability is exceptional, and that was evident all quarter. She is capable of running all over the ground and does not look tired, which is exactly what you want from a midfielder. She is a solid tackler, who is also not afraid to get in and under at the bottom of contests.
Late in the term she laid a solid tackle in the Bombers forward line, which earned her a holding the ball free kick and a shot at goal. Unfortunately for Barba the subsequent kick only went through for a minor score.
As the Bombers spent much of the quarter under a lot of defensive pressure, Barba’s tackling pressure was again on show in the second there. There was a particular moment on the wing where she was able to lay two tackles in a row in the space of about 15 seconds.
Late on in the quarter she clunked a really strong mark, which in turn started a chain that lead to a goal that really made the Saints pay for their missed opportunities in the quarter.
One thing that was really evident in the second quarter in particular was how Barba is one of those players that is not like a seagull to a chip, as the old saying goes. She often spends her time around the pack, but will not jump on the ball just for the sake of it.
Barba spent a good chunk of the beginning of the quarter, but once on the ground she quickly got to work. She laid several strong tackles in the quarter and her handball set up one of Essendon’s many inside 50s for the quarter. Unfortunately despite it being a solid forward 50 entry it did not result in a score.
In the fourth quarter Barba continued to show many of the positive aspects to her game that she had shown all game. She landed a really strong tackle early in the quarter, but it was unfortunately too high and she gave away the free kick. Barba continued to show how tough and solid she is in a contest, and also continued to show how much of a running machine she is, to finish best afield and claim the Lisa Hardeman Medal.