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Demons Triumph Over Eagles

Willunga came into the grand final direct from a second semi-final win over McLaren Vale. The Vale came via a convincing win in the preliminary final over Goolwa-Port Elliot.

Willunga kicked with a slight breeze and dominated the first quarter but failed to kick accurately. Their inaccuracy wasn’t helped by hitting the goal post on three occasions. Rowe and Boal defended vigorously and kept the Willunga forwards under pressure. A timely smother by Pratt stifled a major Willunga goal-scoring opportunity then Rothwell ran to space and had a great chance to split the middle but her kick sprayed wide. Duffy created opportunities and Gum was twice the beneficiary but twice her shots drifted wide. Ella Radbone and Veasey of the Vale had a titanic battle in at the centre square ruck work but it was usually Willunga’s Turner and the pacy Caitlin Radbone who won possession and forced the ball forward. When the quarter time siren sounded Willunga had left the door open for the Vale to use the wind to their scoring advantage in the second quarter.

It was Willunga, however, who extended their lead against the breeze while holding McLarens scoreless. Kohn and Gutschmidt intercepted many of the Eagles’ forward thrusts and rebounded to the Demons’ advantage. Guilfoyle had a strong impact across half-forward. She and Turner combined on several occasions to put the ball to their forwards’ advantage. The first goal of the quarter came from a ruck throw-in across half-forward. Page tapped the ball inboard where Kohn swooped on it, ran to forty metres, steadied and kicked a long goal on her natural left foot. Hutton attacked the ball for the Vale and tackled hard to stop a certain Willunga goal but two minutes later Gutschmidt, Turner and Gum combined to goal for Willunga. The Eagles dug deep and stopped the Demons breaking away and kept the half-time margin to three goals two behinds.

The premiership quarter proved decisive in determining the final result. Willunga kicked five goals to one to establish a match-winning lead. Rowe set up the first from half-back. She rebounded to Caitlin Radbone who ran to space and kicked long to the forward line where a ball-up resulted. Meanwhile, Kohn ran forward, read the ball off-hands and kicked truly. Kohn was instrumental in Willunga’s next goal too when she kicked the ball to Remphrey-Pese who passed to Archbold: she kicked accurately. The Vales’ Pratt and Bailey pressured and tackled to try to stem the Willunga avalanche but again it was the pace of Caitlin Radbone that created a chance: Archbold marked and kicked a long goal. The Eagles won the resulting centre bounce. Copley and Flanagan-Sjoberg combined to drive a long ball to the goal square where Hutton soccered a much needed goal. The Eagles’ joy was short-lived when Cooper took the ball from half-back and moved it to Page in space: she passed to Buchanan who goaled. Gum kicked another after marking a high kick from Buchanan then Sommerville, Duff, Guilfoyle and Archbold ran the ball the length of the ground. Buchanan goaled to give Willunga a 45-point lead at three quarter time.

Willunga won the final quarter three goals to one. Munzberg and Pratt marked and tackled strongly for the Vale but a mis-kick across goals allowed Page to mark and kick a long goal for the Demons. Ross and Flannagan-Sjoberg combined to get it straight back for the Eagles through an accurate Copley kick but Willunga re-established control in the centre square. Caitlin Radbone evaded a tackle and kicked to space where Gum took possession, turned her opponent inside-out, steadied and kicked a long goal. Gum set up Willunga’s next goal too when she looked inside, saw Page running hard to space and passed to her. Her 45-metre kick sailed over the goal line. Then Clifton twice showed dash and poise to run and bounce and drive the ball forward. On the second occasion the hard-running Caitlin Radbone picked up an awkward bouncing goal, stepped around a tackler and goaled from the square to cap off a BOG performance and give Willunga an eleven-goal victory and back-to-back premierships.

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