The Sandringham Dragons have pulled off a gritty win on the road, getting off to a winning start to season 2022.
The Dragons girls won a close encounter at Prospect Park, ultimately prevailing by three points against the Tasmania Devils in a 2.13 25 to 3.4 22 win.
Assistant Coach Cheyne Webster was full of praise for the team after the final siren.
“It was a terrific effort, I thought the way we hung in, especially in the last quarter and a half was outstanding,” Webster said.
Webster said the win was “pivotal” and was impressed by the composure the girls had under pressure.
The Dragons blooded eight new players for the season opener and Webster couldn’t have been happier with the way they acquitted themselves.
“They [debutants] were all terrific.”
The Dragons were forced to defend early, and Tasmania drew first blood, with Georgia Clark booting the opening goal of the game inside the first three minutes.
From there though, the Dragons girls rallied, with Keely Coyne (18 disposals, four marks) and Sofia Hurley (23 disposals, six inside 50s and seven tackles), leading the charge through the middle of the ground.
Coyne’s quick hands at ground level allowed her to find Hurley, who narrowly missed the Dragons first opportunity at goal.
After owning the territory battle since the Devils’ first goal, Port Melbourne Colts product Cameron Millias kicked the Dragons first major of the afternoon.
Charlotte Ryan forced the turnover with a smother before a linkup of handballs resulted in Millias kicking truly from the forward pocket.
The Devils kicked the only goal of the second quarter as the Dragons struggled to fully capitalise on a dominant pressure game, kicking seven behinds in the term.
Two Tassie goals either side of half time had the Devils in front, but the Dragons showed grit and determination to stay in the contest.
Defensive general Georgia Foran, who was awarded best on ground by the coaching staff for a “pretty phenomenal performance”, amassed 16 disposals (15 of those kicks), 11 rebound 50s and a match-high four marks.
Foran said post-match that new Head Coach Wayne Cripps reiterated to the girls why they play the game at three quarter time.
“Crippa was really adamant that we go out there and we play footy, we do it because we love it,” said Foran.
“He wanted us to leave nothing out on the field, so that we can come off feeling like there was nothing more that we could’ve done.”
Pia Staltari kicked her first goal of the season with a soccer kick inside the goal square, to put the Dragons up by five points early in the fourth quarter.
The defensive pairing of Foran and first gamer Meg Webster was pivotal, as the duo constantly repelled the Devils’ forays forward.
“It was really stressful; I think the entire backline was feeling the pressure. The whole backline stepped up though,” said Foran.
A massive tackle from debutant Shaeydn Aylen and gutsy smother from the goal scorer Millias were two acts of individual brilliance that helped the Dragons get over the line in the dying stages.
“The whole backline stood up. They were terrific, they were challenged constantly,” said Webster.
“Across the board a really special performance, but a huge shoutout to the backline who were terrific for four quarters.”
Debutants Maddison Torpey and Ruby Dale were strong in the ruck, winning 45 hitouts between them, whilst Rebecca Thompson (12 disposals, four marks) was a target up the ground, often drawing an extra defender to curtail her influence.
The Dragons face the Oakleigh Chargers at Trevor Barker Oval this Sunday at 12pm.
Tasmania Devils: 1.1 – 2.1 – 3.2 – 3.4 22
Sandringham Dragons: 1.4 – 1.11 – 1.13 – 2.13 25
Goalkickers: Cameron Millias, Pia Staltari
Best Players: Georgia Foran, Sofia Hurley, Keely Coyne, Rebecca Thompson, Charlotte Ryan, Ella Sciberras