ESSENDON’S first season in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition is certainly not what the side would have hoped for. But some close losses and pulling through for a win late in the season has given the Bombers some positives to take out of the year.
Round 1: Lost against Hawthorn by 39 points
Round 2: Lost against Melbourne University by eight points
Round 3: Lost against NT Thunder by 72 points
Round 4: Lost against Southern Saints by 36 points
Round 5: Lost against Richmond by 34 points
Round 6: Bye
Round 7: Lost against Hawthorn by 27 points
Round 8: Lost against Casey Demons by 26 points
Round 9: Defeated Richmond by eight points
Round 10: Lost against Western Bulldogs by six points
Round 11: Lost against Darebin by 27 points
Round 12: Bye
Round 13: Lost against Collingwood by 26 points
Round 14: Lost against Geelong by 45 points
Round 15: Lost against Williamstown by 28 points
Round 16: Lost against Carlton by 75 points
#1 Jessica Trend
Trend was one of Essendon’s most reliable players, often being a stalwart in defence. Her football smarts were second to none and allowed her to see plenty of the football. She finished fifth in Essendon’s Best and Fairest count and has earned herself an AFL Women’s contract at North Melbourne as a result of her consistent year at the Bombers. She was Essendon’s leading disposal-getter in Round 8 with 20 touches. Trend also took two marks and laid six tackles in that match.
#8 Hayley Bullas
The most ferocious tackler in the competition, Bullas gave opposition midfielders headaches. She was a workhorse on the inside for the Bombers this season and won the Best and Fairest as a result. Bullas played all 14 games this season, consistently earning a spot in the side for her midfield efforts. Remarkably, she racked up more than 10 tackles on five separate occasions, with the standout being in Round 4 when she laid a whopping 19 tackles.
#25 Rebecca Neaves
Like Trend, Neaves was also a reliable player for the Bombers, playing a solid role in defence. Neaves was able to move the ball swiftly out of defensive 50 and was a good marker of the football. She came third in Essendon’s Best and Fairest count after an excellent year.
#44 Maddy Collier
The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) midfielder showed her experience in the red and black, playing some stellar games throughout the season. Collier seemed to find the football with ease and kicked it nicely. Her quick hands and tackling were also impressive features of her game. She led the way for the Bombers in Round 11, racking up 21 disposals, four marks and six tackles. Collier was also named best-on-ground by her coaches in five of her 12 games this season.
#46 Courtney Ugle
Ugle’s run and carry out of defence often saved Essendon from some big losses this season. She was smart with the ball in hand and could use it well both by hand or by foot. For a defender, she still managed to rack up plenty of touches, highlighting her ability to find the football under duress. She came second in Essendon’s Best and Fairest count. One of her best games was against Collingwood in Round 13 where she gathered 16 disposals and laid five tackles.
Despite just the one win, Essendon did come close on a couple of occasions. The Bombers were able to push the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne University right until the end, going down in both those games by less than 10 points. Two losses by more than 70 points would have dampened their spirits, but the Bombers would be going into the off-season excited about their young list. Additionally, exciting players like Valerie Moreau and Kendra Heil would boost their chances of getting a few more wins in 2019.