The 2021 Veolia Limestone Coast Women’s Football League ventured across the border for the first time this season with some entertaining fixtures at Island Park on Sunday.
Victoria got its first taste of women’s football this year and Penola took centre stage with a fighting win over North Gambier in the opening game.
The Eagles flew out of the blocks from the opening bounce and the Tigers struggled to find answers for the fast ball movement as the deficit already grew past 50 points before three-quarter time.
Penola coach Daniel Hackwill said his team sent a statement early which laid the foundations of the 43-point victory.
“The players were ready to go and thought if they can build some scoreboard pressure early they might be able to kick on after that,” he said.
“They stuck to the structures which was really pleasing.”
Although five of the Eagles’ seven goals were scored before half time, the victors were heavily impacted by injury.
Despite the setbacks and slow finish, Hackwill believed it was a positive experience for his team.
“Unfortunately we had a few injuries and North probably changed how they played to slow us down, but it was still a solid game,” he said.
“They actually happened really early, Caroline McGrath had a big head clash and got a concussion and tore her AC joint.
“Angela Broad gave her calf a bit of a tweak around half time, so we were down a couple of rotations from late in the first half.
“But it was not a bad problem to have because it allowed us to try players in a few different positions which is good for the long term.”
Remarkably before Broad was forced to depart the field for her calf, she had already booted five majors to setup the win.
Hackwill said she has been an influential figure in Penola’s dressing room being the second highest goal scorer in the entire competition.
“Angela has a lot of good skills and to be honest we would like a couple of her on the ground because she is a good on-baller as well,” he said.
“She is very willing to take the game on and is very quick off the mark and good in the air, so can be a nightmare matchup for defenders inside 50.”
After toiling away in the mid pack over recent seasons, the Eagles have appeared to leap to another level in 2021.
The side is well placed ahead of finals with five wins and a competitive loss to the mighty South Gambier side.
Hackwill said the team’s improvement is a result of its positive frame of mind.
“The best thing about the campaign is the fact we have not had a full-strength side for the whole season yet which says a lot about our group,” he said.
“When we got together for training as a coaching group we thought about a late November start, but the playing group wanted to get going as early as possible.
“So full credit to them and they are reaping the rewards from it now.
“Their fundamental skills and understanding of the game has improved immensely.”
Tomorrow night fans will get to see Penola first hand in a huge game at McCorquindale Park.
The Eagles host Kybybolite for the blockbuster Friday night clash and Hackwill said everyone is looking forward to the occasion.
“The girls have been hanging out for a home game and particularly one under the lights on Friday night is pretty exciting,” he said.
“Coming up against a side like Kybybolite should make for a good spectacle, so we are all very excited and the girls are raring to go.”
Kyby warmed up for the contest with a 46-point win over Kalangadoo.
In a physical encounter at Mundulla, Lauren Sandercock and Dellie Brown led the way.
The Demons were untouchable again despite the best efforts of a hungry Cats side at home.
Three goals from Melanie Bateman handed South an early lead, before a strong finish by Casterton Sandford cut the lead back to 23 points before the final siren.
Simone Macdonald and Jasmine White also impressed for the ladder leaders with two majors each, while Kate Tomkins fronted the Cat attack.
In home conditions, Mundulla was too strong for Kongorong on Sunday afternoon.
A six-goal bag from Kellsie Turner dominated the scene as she received strong support from Natasha Horne, Brooke Ballinger and Lauren Tink in the 100-0 win.
The Hawks’ top performer was Stevi Clayton.
Proceedings at McCorquindale Park kick off with what should be one-sided affair between South and North Gambier at 6.30pm before the Eagles take on Kyby.
Casterton’s Island Park gets a second dose of footy with Kongorong meeting Kalangadoo and the hosts meeting Millicent on Sunday.