A BIG crowd and a warm day awaited for the Brisbane Lions when they took to the field in IKON Arena for the AFLW grand final. And it would certainly turn out to be warm work for the Brisbane women.
North Melbourne took the lead with the game’s first goal, kicked by standout Jasmine Garner, and both sides struggled to fashion chances. Although the Kangaroos found themselves in their forward 50 more often, the Brisbane defence was typically strong, with Natalie Grider tough to get past, marking seven times across the match.
After Charlotte Mullins struck back and Garner booted another, the Kangaroos took a one-point lead in at the half. It was well deserved as North Melbourne worked hard to get the ball forward against a Brisbane midfield, led by the again excellent Belle Dawes, who weren’t willing to give an inch.
In the third quarter North began to turn the screws and it extended the lead to seven points by the last change. But if the Kangaroos felt they had one paw on the trophy, it was snatched away by a powerhouse fourth term from the Lions.
As the Lions’ wingers began to impose themselves, with Orla O’Dwyer again eyecatching at both ends of the ground, Brisbane started to show more up front. Ipswich favourite Dakota Davidson, a threat all game, delivered on the menace she’d offered the defence, with two goals that put the trophy firmly into the Lions’ grasp. They never looked back, with Ellie Hampson, all power, and Bre Koenen, the team’s skipper and the best on ground for the game, kicking straight shots to see Brisbane home.
In the end, the sheer brute force of a Brisbane side that has proved it has another gear late in several games this season proved too much for the Kangaroos. Coach Craig Starcevich was able to come pitchside a fair while before the final hooter to begin the celebrations early but even as the interchange started to enjoy victory the players on the ground stuck to their task. The Kangaroos had no answer at all to the Lions’ four goals in the last quarter.
After the game Koenen laughed when asked what Starcevich had told the team at three-quarter time, saying she had no idea but it must have worked. Certainly, as the team laid a record 110 tackles on North Melbourne, the foundation was the effort that the Lions were willing to put in.
AFLW GRAND FINAL
BRISBANE LIONS (7.2) 44
NORTH MELBOURNE (4.3) 27