The Sandringham Dragons were dealt their second loss of the season on Sunday, going down to a strong Western Jets outfit by 25 points.
The Dragons had the ascendency early, kicking the only major of the opening stanza.
Bridie Hipwell (17 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s) kicked the goal with a strong contested mark 15 metres out, something which has become a strong part of her game.
Hipwell also played more minutes on ball against the Jets than she has throughout the season to date, giving the Dragons a taller, bigger bodied option through the middle of the ground. Her hunger at the coalface and ability to drive the ball inside 50 added another dimension to the Dragons on ball brigade.
Carly Witts (12 disposals), playing her first NAB League game of 2022, was a shining light in defence early on, taking a team-high five marks to deny the Jets forwards.
Sandringham dominated play in the first term, able to generate repeat inside 50s to put pressure on the Jets’ defence.
However, the Dragons were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard, with a few tough chances going begging.
After being held scoreless in the opening quarter, the Jets kicked their first of the day early in the second term from a tight set shot in the pocket.
The second term was a complete arm-wrestle from the outset, with the Jets’ early goal the only goal. The Dragons dominance early in the match meant they held a slender lead of just four points going into the main break.
Western kicked another goal just four minutes into the second half to take the lead before power forward Mia Zielinski grabbed the ball out of the ruck from a forward 50 stoppage and snapped brilliantly to regain the lead for Sandringham.
Zielinski’s presence was important all day for the Dragons, who often were outsized around the ground. After missing the first match of the season, Zielinski has kicked five goals in three games to lead the club’s goalkicking.
The Jets responded in fine fashion however, kicking two goals in quick succession to take the lead going into the final term.
Down by 13 points at three-quarter-time, the Dragons swung defensive general Georgia Foran forward in an attempt to shake things up and add another tall target forward of centre.
Unfortunately, the move was to no avail however, as the Jets kicked the opening three goals of the fourth quarter.
In Foran’s absence, Meg Webster took the reins as the main girl in defence and flourished. Webster has become an integral piece of the Dragons stingy defensive setup, laying bone-crunching tackles and some beautiful piercing kicks.
Debutant Siena Farrell gave the Dragons something to smile about kicking a goal on debut late in the match. It was a busy week for the young Dragon, who has been destroying her competitors in various Athletics championships of late.
Fellow debutant Tiger Doultree was also solid, with both girls having caught the eye of coaches and teammates alike during the start of the season. The pair showed promising signs with their attack on the ball a real highlight in their first game at the level.
Keely Coyne was also at her smooth-moving best at Trevor Barker Oval, especially late when the game was on the line. She amassed 19 disposals, 16 of those kicks and was one of Sandringham’s prime ball movers against a strong Jets midfield.
Sofia Hurley (24 disposals, nine tackles, four frees for) also continued her outstanding start to the season. The young midfielder’s work rate has been a trait of her game all year, her two-way running making her a vital piece of the Dragons team.
Post-match, assistant coach Lisa Roper lamented how the Dragons lost control of the game in the second term.
“We started strong and started with the structures that we wanted but took a little bit of a backseat after that,” she said.
“The first quarter showed what we actually can do when we apply ourselves, so if we can just concentrate and keep that focus and the attention to detail, we can bounce back.”
The Futures girls won their match by 29 points and played with freedom in their last game of the season and Roper hopes the NAB League girls can play with a similar passion next week.
“I am hoping that the NABs can have a look at what the Futures did. We said to the futures that there’s spots up for grabs, this is the last futures game, this is your chance to shine.
There were several standout performances in the Futures match which is set to bring a healthy competition for places in the NAB League fixtures from here on in.
“What you saw out there was [Futures] going out there and taking the game on, there’ll be some changes for next week.
“We’ll get back to our lines, the big thing will be working on our transition up the field as a team, we’ve got to improve on that.”
The Dragons will look to get back on to the winner’s list this Sunday against the Gippsland Power at Churchill Football Ground.
Sandringham Dragons 1.4 – 1.6 – 2.7 – 3.8 (21)
Western Jets 0.0 – 1.2 – 5.2 – 8.3 (51)
Goal Kickers: Bridie Hipwell, Mia Zielinski, Siena Farrell
BEST: Meg Webster, Keely Coyne, Sofia Hurley, Mia Zielinski, Siena Farrell, Carly Witts