Women play with pride in decider

The South East women’s team travelled to Whyalla to compete in the Think! Road Safety SA Country Football Championships at the weekend and made it to the big dance, but fell just short of glory.

In game one South East tackled Eastern on a chilly and windy day which made scoring hard for both teams.

The red, white and black was forced to kick against the breeze but was able to take the lead despite only scoring two behinds by keeping Eastern scoreless.

Unfortunately for South East, team captain Scarlett Jarrad went down early in the half with a knee injury which was a massive blow side-lining her for the rest of the carnival.

South East took full advantage of the wind in the second half, booting seven goals spread across six kickers, while Eastern was completely nullified.

In a dominant performance, South East won by an outstanding 46 points.

The goal kickers were Shandeen Balshaw with two, while singles were scored by Alice Tentye, Kendell Saffin, Dellie Brown, Sophie Arkun and Zoe Hawker.

Tess Andrews, Tentye, Annabel Mould, Dellie Brown and Erin Horsnell were the stand-outs in a comprehensive performance.

On the same day South East came up against Northern and a change of venue did not make any difference to the wind, but it did bring out the sun which made things a bit more tolerable.

Facing off against Northern – who were coming off a loss to Southern – South East enjoyed the breeze in the first half and built up a handy three goal lead by half time.

The second half was a rough and tumble affair, with neither side willing to give in and two behinds were scored from each side as a result.

But South East was able to dig deep to get over the line with another win by 18 points.

Goal kickers for the winners were Brown, Sophie Arkun and Saffin while best players were Hawker, Annabel Mould, Chelsea Frost, Nell Estough and Andrews.

With the two wins from as many games South East surged to the top of the ladder which set up a date with Southern in the championship game on Sunday.

It was a fast start from the South East team in the big dance where they hit the scoreboard early.

But Southern came back with fight and cut the deficit down to just a single point by the first break.

Southern then found another gear in the second quarter to go into the main break with a 10-point lead.

In the third term South East felt the pressure from their opponents who dominated the play and made the most of the opportunities.

Southern was relentless and repelled each attack from the South East side and held a good lead of 21 points at the last change.

It would have been a mighty effort for South East to close the gap, but it was not the case as Southern powered on to claim the win by 21 points.

Erin Horsnell, Caroline McGrath and Andrews fought hard for the Limestone Coast outfit in the midfield, while Tentye and Turner kicked the three goals.

Their efforts could not match Casie Coombe, Tamara Page and Rachel Searle, who all scored two goals.

Despite losing the decider for the second straight season South East enjoyed strong representation in the team of the championships with Tentye, Saffin, Andrews, Chelsea Frost and Mould all named.

South East coach Michael Hunt said it was disappointing to fall short again, but was still upbeat about the team’s campaign.

“The girls were disappointed in losing, but as the coach I was super proud of the effort and they left nothing on the table,” he said.

“Having the girls not play football at the moment might have been a bit of a factor because the other girls are match-hardened and our girls were getting sore by (the grand final).

“The girls have trained more than most and have worked extremely hard being out of season and need to be rewarded with what they deserve.

“We are still the only side to compete in the last two grand finals.”

Hunt said the girls played well in patches during the decider, but some mix ups including giving away an easy goal to the opposition proved costly.

“They had a good 10 minutes in the third quarter which we could not negate … because we came up against a better side,” he said.

“There were girls who we were trying to give a little bit of a rest but a mix up from the coach meant one of our girls come off the back of the square which resulted in the six-six-six rule and gave a 50 metre penalty which resulted in a goal.”

Hunt conceded the injury to captain Jarrad also had a big impact on the competition.

“Absolutely, losing Scarlett Jarred would have made a difference with her hardness around the ball,” he said.

“You can put her forward, back and in the middle … she has got the grunt, good skills and chases hard so we really missed her.

“But having said that, the girls really stood up in her absence and the forward pressure was extraordinary.”

Hunt would like to take on the role of coach again but a new face will lead the team next year due to a policy in place which changes the coach every two years.

Hunt also praised the SANFL’s running of the weekend and said the organisatiton should be recognised with a “big pat on the back” for the way all teams were looked after over the weekend.

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