By Nicholas Galea
The Coburg Lions Women’s team has capped off their final preseason practice game with a comfortable 33-point victory over the Frankston Dolphins at Skybus Stadium, 7.6 48 to 2.3 15, after a powerful second half which saw them kick six goals to one.
Kicking to the Bay Street end, it was Coburg who made the early running with several entries inside 50 courtesy of Tylah Bell and Abby Glascott who found plenty of the ball and were duly rewarded with Regina Said who kicked the opening goal of the day.
The Lions created several dangerous forays forward, moving the ball throughout the corridor with pace but Frankston were resolute in defence and were soon after on the board themselves.
Even though Coburg controlled the bulk of the quarter, scores were tied at six apiece at the end of the first term.
With coach Liam Cavanagh asking his players to slow the play down, the Lions obliged, slowing the pace of the game down, focusing more on a possession and retention-based game style. That said, regardless of the pace of the ball movement, they continued to barrage the Dolphins back six, forcing them wide down the line, struggling to manoeuvre the ball beyond the wing.
Coburg kept up its intensity and pressure around the contest and ball carrier (7-0 forward half turnovers), but the scoreboard did not reflect their dominance around the ground (7-4 in clearances) and up forward (9-1 inside 50 entries) as they lead by just the one point going into the half time break.
After dominating the second term, quality not quantity was the message going into the third quarter from Cavanagh and it seemed that the girls got the memo as midfielder Sharni Barker kicked off the second half underway in style with a goal in the opening minute.
The Lions started to open up the game, holding sway in the centre square with its midfield capitalising on the ruck dominance provided from both Sophie Damon and Tash Phillips and they started to translate that statistical dominance on the scoreboard.
Bell was once again in the action as she found Jaime Nankiville in the pocket 20 metres out, who kicked truly to extend the lead to 14 points, six minutes into the term.
Needing to respond, the Dolphins hit back but the Lions kept them at bay after a crumbing soccer goal from Hannah Fosbrooke in the goal square brought the margin once more to 14 points
From there the Lions raised their intensity and pressure, suffocating Frankston’s defensive structures as they struggled to find its breath which allowed Lauren Sims to take full toll with a classy finish on the run from 30 metres out.
At three quarter time Coburg headed into the last quarter with a 19-point lead, 5-4 34 to 2.3 15.
Coburg continued to maintain control throughout the fourth quarter as the game was very much played on their terms and in their forward half (8-1 inside 50 entries). A free kick to Sophie Damon in the early stages of the fourth quarter, saw her put through her first goal of the day, extending the margin to a game high 25 points.
Even with the result assured midway through the final quarter Coburg did not relent, continuing to harass and lock the ball inside 50.
After three goals against Heidelberg last week, star midfielder Teaghan Bradley also found herself amongst the goals with a clinical set shot from the pocket in the final stages of the term, which put the exclamation mark on what was an impressive display from Coburg.
Speaking post game, women’s senior head coach Liam Cavanagh was encouraged by the team’s ability to overcome the challenge thrown to them by the Dolphins in the first half, adapting to the situation and ultimately exerting their dominance in the third and fourth quarters.
‘Frankston did challenge us really well so it’s a credit to what they’re doing to enable us to learn on the spot,’ he said.
‘The most pleasing thing for me was exactly that, we were up by a point at half time in a scrimmage match, so we needed to tidy some things up and we did so.’
‘We had to just give a few more handballs that enabled us to kick the ball a little bit flatter entering and we found that as long as that ball was to advantage it gave the forwards the space to work.
Cavanagh also emphasised that there is still much improvement left in the tank as the team continues to build continuity and chemistry as it counts down the days to round one for the women’s sides maiden season.
‘I think that with a new group that where no one has really played together before, no one has been coached by myself or other coaches before,’ he said.
‘Our biggest disadvantage is the amount of time we spend together compared to teams who have played together for a long time.’
‘Now we understand the structure so it’s a little bit scenario based and understanding when we are in this position, we need to do things differently.
Star midfielder Tylah Bell also shared Cavanagh’s belief that the adjustments made at half time were certainly a key factor in breaking open the game to secure the 33-point win.
‘I thought the first half was a pretty well fought out game from both sides, I think we tried to nudge them a bit but we were playing a bit more of their game in the first half,’ she said.
‘“Cav” got into us towards the half time huddle and really told us what we needed to do and lower our eyes for our forwards and then we got it back on our terms in the second half.’
The Coburg Lions Women’s Team returns to action on Saturday April 24th at 2:00pm against the St Kilda Sharks, where they play their inaugural game for premiership points at Jackson Reserve, Coburg North.
Frankston: 1-0 6 1-1 7 2-3 15 2-3 15
Coburg: 1-0 6 1-2 8 5-4 34 7-6 48
Goals: Barker, Bradley, Nankiville, Said, Damon, Sims and Fosbrooke