IT was the first ever grand final in the TAC Cup Girls competition, with Geelong Falcons claiming the premiership with an 11-point win over Northern Knights. We took notes on some of those girls in the Vic Metro and Vic Country sides, in a match that was jam-packed full of talent for both this year’s draft and the next two drafts.
#7 Olivia Purcell
Had a strong battle with Knights’ captain Maddy Brancatisano in the midfield and continued to fight throughout the four quarters. Was probably at her most damaging when she found time and space, accelerating out of a contest or executing the quick handball to teammates on the outside. Always watched because of the danger she posed to the opposition, Purcell played her role in close in that midfield.
#18 Nina Morrison
One of the Falcons best across the four quarters, Morrison continued to provide run and carry through the midfield into the forward line. She played against Marnie Jarvis on a wing for the most part and had a highlight in the opening term where she streamed down the middle of the field and placed a kick in front of Elise Vella inside 50. Unfortunately the shot on goal missed, but Morrison’s influence was being felt early.
#23 Lucy McEvoy
A consistent four quarter effort and certainly in the Falcons’ best for her work in defence in the first half. She always provided a contest in the air and was constantly mopping up in defence along with Denby Taylor. Switched forward in the second half and while she did not manage to hit the scoreboard, crashed a pack or two and provided a target inside 50. A courageous captain’s game.
#27 Denby Taylor
Deservedly best on ground after an unbelievable performance at both ends. Was one of the best in the first half with McEvoy and Morrison, and then shot to the top with an imposing performance on the wing for the Falcons. She laid several run-down tackles including one on the speedster Marnie Jarvis. A crucial inside 50 in the third term eventuated in the Tarryn Love goal from a stoppage, then in the fourth quarter she became the ultimate interceptor, roaming up to half-forward. Took several marks on the attacking 50, had shots on goal and nailed one after a 50 metre penalty. Just gave the Knights plenty of headaches in that second half and was superb both offensively and defensively.
#35 Sophie Walmsley
Kicked the third goal of the Falcons’ third quarter goals and the way she did it was outstanding in context. Twice in the first half Walmsley had used her trademark burst to try and break the game open, but had been caught or run down. This time, she marked the ball about 45 metres out from goal, and sensing the clock was running down and she would kick from outside her range, she boldly took off, fended off her opponent and kicked a goal from the run about 35 metres out to hand the Falcons a remarkable six-point lead at the final change.
#36 Abbey Chapman
Really impressed with her defensive game, taking a number of intercept marks on the last line of the defence and was strong at full-back. Held up the fort in the second half when Taylor and McEvoy were moved up the ground too, working well with Laura Gardiner when the Knights were attacking late. Chapman had a goal-saving spoil on the line in the second term when Ellie McKenzie snapped on goal. Chapman also took a really strong defensive mark leaning backwards in the third quarter to stop a Knights attack.
#38 Renee Tierney
Provided a target up forward for the Falcons and had a couple of shots on goal. Did not manage to nail one, but almost made history when her shot on goal just clipped the post on the way through. Her poster did become the first score of a TAC Cup Girls Grand Final. Given she still has another two years in the competition, the forward showed promising signs for the years ahead.
#39 Tarryn Love
Played a crucial role in that third term that got the Falcons going and her subsequent work to be the difference in-and-under in the forward half was a reason I had her as the Falcons’ second best. Whilst others won more of the football, Love set up the first goal to Sachi DeGiacomi, drawing the opponent in a tackle and handballing whilst being brought down, for DeGiacomi to kick the goal on the run. Moments later, Love snapped out of a pack to kick truly and create something out of nothing. Those two pieces of play gained the Falcons two vital goals late in the third term when the Knights were still in control.
#2 Marnie Jarvis
Had her as one of the Knights best for the line-breaking speed she brought to the team and did it consistently over four quarters. She took the game on and also moved well between attack and defence, and was used in transition for Northern. She showed quick hands and darted around the field, being the Knights best outside midfielder for the day and teamed well with the likes of Maddy Brancatisano and Gabby Newton through that midfield.
#5 Maddy Brancatisano
Opposed to Olivia Purcell, she managed to nullify her a little at stoppages and while Purcell did well on the outside at times, Brancatisano was able to match her at the coal-face. She put in a hard-working effort and was often found burrowing under packs or executing the quick handball. Read the ruck taps well and did not win a heap of easy ball, but made it count with quick hands to the outside.
#6 Alyssa Bannan
Was matched up by Lucy McEvoy early in the game and often pushed up quite high in the opening half. She won a number of possessions on the wing and used her long kick to move the ball long when the Knights were on, early in the match.
#7 Abigail Bennett
Had a purple patch in the second term which saw Bennett make history when she kicked the first goal in a TAC Cup Girls Grand Final. It was a well-placed kick from Jarvis which found its way to Bennett inside 50 who turned around and kicked truly. Moments later Walmsley tried to step around an opponent and was blindsighted by Bennett coming from a 45 degree angle behind her. Bennett wrapped her up well and won the free kick for holding the ball.
#18 Sarah Sansonetti
Was one of the better Knights out of defence and stood up in the final term when the Falcons were attacking. By the end of the game she had provided drive and effected some good spoils in the air, working in tandem with Ashleigh Snow out of defence.
#21 Ellie McKenzie
Became a force in the second term in particular, but was seemingly present throughout. She uncharacteristically dropped a mark early in the second quarter, then clunked one moments later with strong hands and a good vertical leap. Did not kick a goal, but had a couple of snaps which went close, and led up at the football playing off half-forward throughout the match.
#22 Britney Gutknecht
Became the Knights second goal kicker with a right-time, right-place goal. She had positioned herself a few metres off the pack inside 50 and when the ball bobbled out, Gutknecht snapped around her body truly and gave Northern an 11-point lead in what was a low-scoring game. Looked dangerous with Bennett and McKenzie in that second term.
#23 Gabby Newton
Unbelievable game and had the Knights won, I reckon she would have been given the best on ground. Just won the football in the middle, in defence and up forward, then rotated through the ruck and won some clean hit-outs. Had one of the highlights of the day in the third term when she pick-pocketed Tarryn Love who was running into goal. Newton stuck her hand out, cleanly stole it and kicked out of defensive 50. Won numerous clearances as both a ruck and midfielder, showing her versatility that we have all come to know.