An end to the Roy girls run for 2016
A wet and miserable late match boded ill for the Fitzroy youth girls in their first-ever preliminary final. Not only have we had a poor showing in the cold throughout the 2016 season, but we have also had a particularly bad run in late afternoon matches. This didn’t stop the team from running out hard, and although their warm-up was conducted in a chilly downpour, they seemed keen to take on last years’ premiers Bulleen. Our previous history with this team was one win (at home), and one loss (at Bulleen), so we knew we were in with a chance, but that they would take it right to the wire.
Early on, there was far more play in our fifty than the opposition’s, yet the lack of a score on the board can be attributed to the nerves that were running at a maximum for both teams. Abby (11), Maddy(10), Molly (7), Jayde (23) and Ruby (19) all worked hard getting to the ball, putting their bodies on the line, and creating plenty of stoppages. Georgie (3) was another player who seemed to be getting her hands to the ball, but the Bulleen defence was solid and play just didn’t seem to go near our big sticks.
Our defence were certainly not sleeping on the job, with Lara (2) marking and tackling like a fiend. Kat (22) kept her cool and played plenty of good footy, too. Tilly (8) and Tess (15) contributed to a good passage of play down field, meaning that it took Bulleen the better part of 17 minutes to get a major score on the board.
Some lovely tackling by Charlotte (25) was to set a tone of consistency for the entire match, as the Roy defenders made Bulleen work for every scrappy point.
The first siren left the shivering spectators wondering why there weren’t more points on the board for Fitzroy, given the teams seemed very evenly matched out on the field.
Quarter time: Bulleen 1-3-9 Fitzroy 0-0-0
Early in the second quarter, Bulleen worked hard to scrounge two goals from our defenders, and it seemed that they were able to steady and lift despite the worsening weather. Molly led by example, putting in second and third efforts, and her customary turn of speed seemed even faster than usual. Maddy seemed to be everywhere at once, and our entire defence line played their hearts out, but Bulleen still got 4 goals for the quarter. At a point when it seemed we would get no joy from this day at all, Molly sent a screaming kick straight to Charlie (17) for a lovely mark, but again, little result for some lovely play. Amelie (6) was instrumental down the flank on more than one occasion, however, all of our endeavours netted us only a point for the quarter.
Half time Bulleen 5-7-37 Fitzroy 0-1-1
The third quarter started in serious rain, and a temperature of 13’. This only seemed to spur our girls on, as Maddy had a tilt at goal early, only to be thwarted by a terrible bounce. The next few minutes seemed to be all Fitzroy, keeping the ball well away from the Bulleen 50.
While the Roys were relentless in their attack, the Bulleen defence was right on top of them at every turn. While photographers and spectators alike retreated to cover, the game went on, and no-one on-field had the chance to shiver, as it ranged all over the slightly sloping oval. Some satisfying marking by Charlotte, and the running, kicking intensity of Tess, meant that the score never quite felt beyond the Roys. However Bulleen put all of their finals experience to work, and stacked on 2 goals 3 for the quarter. A clever read of the play by Tilly got a good pass in to Maddy who was able to goal not long before the siren, however we came together at three quarter time with a big job ahead of us. By three quarter time, the temperature was 12’.
¾ time Bulleen 6-10-46 Fitzroy 1-2-8
The final quarter saw no dampening of spirits for the Roys, who seemed determined to take this opportunity while it stood before them. A quick goal from Molly looked to be turning the tide for Fitzroy, however it wasn’t long before Bulleen grappled for control of the ball, until a tidy mark from Jayde stopped their progress. She wasn’t the only one, as Abby also took a lovely mark to keep Fitzroy in possession of the red pill. Coby was rucking strongly, and there never seemed a moment where we weren’t fully participating in the game.
Second endeavours from players like Bree, Jayde and Emily, and great tackles by Lara kept Bulleen from feeling too complacent about the end score. Suddenly, when all seemed lost, a huge run from Maddy led to a decent kick straight into the hands of the goal umpire, and we had our third major on the board for the day.
While we had more pairs of legs on our interchange bench than Bulleen, it was not enough to get us over the line. Bulleen had peaked at the right end of the season, and while we had been able to best them earlier in the year, we had clearly spooked them into lifting their game. They had a second premiership in their sights and they were not about to let that go (despite Fitzroy’s best efforts). The final quarter scores were 2 goals 3 to 2 goals 1, which prompted one wit to suggest that a fifth quarter might have turned the tide.
Full time Bulleen 8-13-61 Fitzroy 3-3-21
Our girls played so strongly until the finish – you made us all so proud! In particular, we leaned very heavily on Molly (7) and Maddy (10), while Charlotte’s (25) safe hands in the back-line proved their worth fifty times over. The development of skills over this year can never be underestimated, and our Roy girls are not the raw recruits who started training back in March. Our coaches, Michael and Gray, and runner Mark, have provided the knowledge and skills to get our girls to a point where senior teams are watching them play and doing some serious recruiting.
It’s a pretty rare thing when a team starts the season with five straight losses, yet manages to make it to the preliminary final. Our team have done the maroon, blue and gold proud. Those that are getting The Golden Boot (our seniors – Charlotte Croome, Molly Eastman, Coby Lowrie, Ruby McDermott, Tess McDonald, Charlie McKinlay, Kat McKenzie, Heather Munro, Lara Peters, Abby Reeves, and Bryanna Maeden), we hope you leave with a sense of accomplishment. For the fifteen left behind, we hope you remember all the good from this year. We are all looking forward to cheering you on in the 2017 season.
More photos here