Port Melbourne burrows into VFLW decider

PORT Melbourne has qualified for the 2023 VFL Grand Final after defeating the Essendon by five goals at ETU Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

A ticket in the big dance was on the line as the two sides faced off in the preliminary final yesterday in one of the most anticipated matchups of the year.

Both teams had shown the capability to win in big games over the course of the season, and although Port Melbourne finished higher on the ladder, finals bring anything and Essendon had shown promise in its recent win over Box Hill.

  • Team
  • Essendon VFLW
  • Port Melbourne VFLW

Essendon 1.5 (11) def. by Port Melbourne 6.5 (41)

The game started in tight fashion, with the ball living in Essendon’s forward half in the opening minutes of the contest. However, the Bombers could not find the big sticks in a low-scoring opening term amid plenty of congestion.

Essendon’s forward half-pressure put the Port Melbourne’s defence on the back foot, and forced a couple of rushed behinds as a result. Neither side found the big sticks in the opening term, although the Bombers looked the most likely, but accuracy saw them take a slim three-point lead into the first change.

The Borough lifted to start the second quarter, matching Essendon’s intensity around the contest and gaining some territory of their own. Nayeley Borg registered the first major of the game and put Port Melbourne in front for the first time.

The Borough had their tails up and began pushing the ball forward with intent in the minutes that followed, and were rewarded with back to back majors from the boot of Emily Harley to give Port Melbourne a 16-point lead at half time.

Although halftime could have potentially disrupted their momentum, the Borough picked up exactly where they left off, extracting the ball out of the middle and pushing it forward, where Alice Campbell snagged the first major of the second half.

With Port Melbourne’s lead extended, things became much trickier for Essendon. Although they managed to stop the bleeding a bit on the scoreboard, the Bombers could not conjure any majors themselves, and all their hard work defensively was brought undone when Port Melbourne put one through via Chantelle Mitchell on the eve of three-quarter time.

Harley snagged her third of the day five minutes into the final quarter, before Essendon answered with their first shortly after, courtesy of Maddi Wilson. There were no more scores for the remainder of the day as the Borough cruised home to a 30-point win and a spot in the deciding match.

Harley was best on ground for the winning side, registering 3.2 from 16 disposals (14 kicks) and five marks in a performance that broke the game open in the end, while Kaitlyn O’Keefe (20 disposals, six tackles) and Laura Wright (12 disposals, 10 tackles) were also key figures for Port Melbourne.

For the Bombers, Grace Dicker could not have fought any harder, producing a seriously tough performance to finish with 21 disposals and a whopping 15 tackles, while Sophie Molan racked up a game-high 24 touches.

The Borough will take on Collingwood in the 2023 VFLW Grand Final on Saturday.

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