THE Southern Saints were one of the surprise packages of the season, finishing eighth with only two AFL Women’s player on their list in Lauren Arnell and Laura Attard. Many would have expected the new team to finish on the bottom of the ladder but the Saints snuck away with a few crucial wins, including handing NT Thunder its first defeat of the season.
Round 1: Lost against Carlton by 22 points
Round 2: Defeated Williamstown by 30 points
Round 3: Defeated Casey Demons by eight points
Round 4: Defeated Essendon by 36 points
Round 5: Bye
Round 6: Lost against Hawthorn by 33 points
Round 7: Defeated NT Thunder by 20 points
Round 8: Bye
Round 9: Lost against Casey Demons by 11 points
Round 10: Lost against Geelong by 38 points
Round 11: Lost against Melbourne University by three points
Round 12: Lost against Hawthorn by nine points
Round 13: Defeated Western Bulldogs by 31 points
Round 14: Lost against Darebin by four points
Round 15: Lost against Collingwood by 38 points
Round 16: Lost against Richmond by three points
#8 Alison Drennan
Drennan was one of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premier midfielders, constantly racking up the touches week-in, week-out. She was classy with the ball-in-hand and strong in congestion. She took out the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest, along with Rhiannon Watt, and made the VFLW Team of the Year in what was a stellar season for her. Her season earned her an AFL Women’s contract with North Melbourne. One of her standout games was in Round 2, when she gathered 35 disposals to go along with seven tackles and a goal.
#15 Tara Bohanna
Tara Bohanna was a star up forward for the Southern Saints, kicking 15 goals from 14 matches. She presented well at the football and was able to peel off players inside 50. Bohanna finished inside the top 10 in the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest and finished equal third in the VFLW goal kicking tally. Bohanna had two three-goal hauls during the season, highlighting her impressive ability to hit the scoreboard.
#17 Leah Olsen
Leah Olsen was an extremely reliable defender for the Southern Saints. Often playing on a half-back flank, Olsen could match up on key players and produce exciting run and carry. She finished fourth in the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest with 86 votes. Olsen was a key contributor in almost every game for the Saints. She played a great game in Round 9, when she gathered 18 disposals and laid four tackles.
#24 Kayla Ripari
Ripari excited with her dash across half-forward and her clever ball-use. She was often calm with the ball in hand and aggressive without it, laying some bone-crunching tackles during the season. Ripari finished seventh in the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest after playing every game and making solid contributions. One of her more impressive games was against the NT Thunder when she was named best-on-ground for her side with 14 disposals and two tackles.
#28 Rhiannon Watt
Watt was arguably the best ruck in the VFLW competition, using her height to advantage to give her midfielders prime use of the ball. She was agile at ground level as well, as she was able to rack up the numbers during the season as well. She won the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest, along with Alison Drennan, and made the VFLW Team of the Year as the leading ruck. She had a standout game in Round 12, with 20 disposals, four marks and seven tackles.
The Southern Saints should be extremely proud of their season, having hardly any AFL Women’s players on their list. They trusted their young talent to pull through and they did, recording a respectable five wins this season. While the losses outweighed the wins, it wasn’t by much, as five of their nine losses were under 10 points. The Saints are building their list along nicely for an AFL Women’s berth in 2020, and could be a key contender in the VFLW next year if they get some more AFL Women’s talent on their list.