It was a Friday night to remember when St Kilda hosted the Demons at Moorabbin in Round Three of the AFLW Season. Despite having just a five-day turnaround after their heartbreaking defeat against Adelaide the week before, it was the Saints who finished the match full of running against a highly fancied and undefeated Melbourne team. After a nail-biting encounter, the final siren sent the Moorabbin faithful into raptures celebrating a historic breakthrough AFLW victory.
Caitlin Greiser was the hero for the Saints, her long bomb from outside fifty snatching the lead for her team late. A dominant presence up forward, it was the perfect exclamation mark on an outstanding performance from the 20-year-old key tall. On a night of strong performances, she wasn’t the only Saints to shine. Rhiannon Watt repelled countless Demon attacks with her intercept marking down back. The co-captain leading by example and standing up under extreme pressure.
With the Demons comprehensively winning the battle for territory, with an inside fifty advantage of 31-17, the Saints defence was required to absorb considerable pressure to keep their team in the game. Watt was ably assisted in this by Tilly Lucas-Rodd. For the second week in a row, the former Magpie was steady and composed in helping set up the team’s rebound from defensive 50.
Olivia Veseley was another Saint to get her hands on a lot of the ball, the youngster once again showing why she is so highly regarded by her teammates. Ending the night with six tackles, her defensive efforts were also a highlight. Rosie Dillon (7), Nat Exon (7), and Kate McCarthy (5), also finished the game with high tackle numbers as the Saints consistently pressured the Demons into error.
The pattern the match would follow was evident in its earliest exchanges. Melbourne set up camp in the Saints forward fifty early but was unable to capitalise. This inability would prove costly when McCarthy and Greiser combined to kick the first goal of the match. The breakthrough coming, after eight Melbourne inside fifties, from the Saints first forward entry.
The lead would not last long though, with the Dees grabbing a four point quarter time lead through a Shelley Scott goal. Greiser again would be front and centre when the Saints put their noses back in front in the shadows of half-time. Flying across the front of two Demons, Greiser brought the ball to the ground. Not content with this single effort, she roved her own spillage and kicked the ball 40 metres to the advantage of the loose Guttridge who finished off the fine work with the Saints second goal of the night.
The balance of the match would be an epic arm-wrestle with neither side able to land a killer blow until Greiser completed a strong one-handed mark inside forward fifty late in the game. With the opportunity to grab the lead for her team she rose to the occasion struck the Sherrin sweetly and, despite taking the shot frow well outside fifty, never looked like missing. Coming just four days after her 21st birthday it was the perfect belated present.
The final siren prompted amazing scenes as the team celebrated their historic moment. For co-captain and lifelong St Kilda fan Rhiannon Watt, it was a dream come true as she was able to lead the team in a particularly enthusiastic rendition of the club song in the middle of the ground.
While the history books might show just four points were earned by this young team on this night at the clubs spiritual home, there is a sense that it was more important than that. With spirit and passion by the bucketload, and nine players under 21 in this history-making team, it might just be the beginning of something special.
AFLW 2020 – ROUND THREE
ST KILDA 1.0 2.0 2.0 3.1 (19)
MELBOURNE 1.4 1.5 1.8 1.8 (14)
St Kilda: Greiser 2, Guttridge
St Kilda: Greiser, Lucas-Rodd, Watt, Vesely, Guttridge, Drennan
Melbourne: Paxman, O’Dea, Gay, Pearce, Hore, Zanker
St Kilda: Nil
Melbourne: Guerin (knee), Goldrick (concussion)
St Kilda: Nil
Crowd: 4012 at RSEA Park