Bombers blitz Hawks to keep flag defence alive

ESSENDON’S premiership defence is still alive, after the Bombers defeated the Hawks by 10 points in the VFLW Elimination Final yesterday. In a game that was close for most of the afternoon, the Bombers ultimately held strong late to take the win, 4.7 (31) to 3.3 (21).

Clean disposals were hard to come by early in the first term as both teams really brought the defensive pressure and intensity. Essendon did dominate forward territory early though, and was rewarded with the first goal of the game after Mia-Rae Clifford slotted one through from the tightest angle possible in the pocket.

The Bombers continued to dominate forward 50 time for much of the opening quarter but thanks in large part to Nadia Von Bertouch, the Hawks defence held up really well and made scoring chances for the Bombers very limited.

The Hawks had a few opportunities to score late in the quarter but the Essendon defence also continued to hold up strong and deny the Hawks scoring opportunities. In the end it was a low scoring first term that saw the Bombers take an eight-point lead into the first change.

Benefitting from a wind advantage, the Hawks dominated the forward 50 territory early in the second term but were unable to make the most of it on the scoreboard. It took them eight minutes to finally get their first goal on the board thanks to an around the body snap from Jordan Mifsud, and suddenly the margin was back to a single point.

As the wind began to pick up, the game continued to get even scrappier as defensive pressure remained high from both sides. Thanks to an absolute bomb of a goal from skipper Nicole Garner, Box Hill eventually got its second goal 15 minutes in and with that, the lead was its to lose.

Jayda Richardson picked a goal back for the Bombers in the final minute of the quarter with a real against the run of play goal, and as such at half time the Bombers held a one point lead.

The Hawks were quick to get the ball in their forward 50 in the third term, but could not make it count on the scoreboard straight away. The Bombers then made the Hawks really pay by taking the ball up the other end and recording their third goal of the game thanks to El Chaston.

This saw a bit of a momentum switch for the game as the Bombers continued to enjoy plenty of forward 50 time. Much like in the first quarter, the Hawks certainly had their opportunities in their forward 50 to score, but the Essendon defence held strong and did not allow the Hawks to get any shots on goal. The Bombers also continued to pepper their own goals but could not kick straight.

As such, the margin was nine points in favour of the Bombers, but the Hawks had the wind advantage in the final term and as such the match was far from decided. The Hawks got off to the perfect start in the final term when Molly Simpson slotted a goal through to bring the margin back to a mere three points.

However, they were unable to keep that momentum going as momentum started to turn the Bombers’ way. Much of the quarter was played between the arcs, so although the margin was small as the quarter progressed the Hawks were running out of time to make up the deficit.

As the Hawks kept pressing late, Sophie Molan really stood up and led the Bombers defence to really keep the scoring chances for Box Hill down. The ball spent the final few minutes in the Bombers’ forward line, and the Bombers locked the ball in really well and a goal after the siren from Olivia Manfre was the icing on the cake.

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