Darebin claimed back-to-back Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s premierships with a tense seven-point triumph over Diamond Creek at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Falcons have now won five consecutive senior-level Victorian women’s flags and were powered by influential performances from Karen Paxman and Daisy Pearce as well as Katie Brennan, who kicked two goals in the 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28) victory.
Paxman won the medal for best-on-ground in the Grand Final, having controlled play behind the ball throughout the match and regularly proving a defensive wall too great to overcome.
Coach Jane Lange’s Falcons built a 20-point lead by late in the third quarter before the Creekers fought back with three of the game’s last four majors – including two to Sophie Abbatangelo – but Darebin’s stars aligned to keep their opponents at arm’s length until the final siren.
Diamond Creek was unable to replicate its 25-point win against the Falcons in the Qualifying Final two weeks ago, but ended a season of redemption with no less admirers after rebounding from an injury-impacted 2016 season in which it missed the finals.
Darebin’s forward targets troubled the Creekers early, with Falcons skipper Elise O’Dea leading strongly up the ground from inside 50 and Katie Brennan posing problems in one-on-one contests with opponent Kerryn Harrington.
Meghan McDonald – playing in attack this week – scored the game’s first goal for Darebin after 10 minutes before Brennan added a second just before quarter time to put the Falcons 11 points clear.
Up the other end, dynamic Diamond Creek forwards Chloe Molloy and Abbatangelo were starved of opportunity as Darebin’s Lauren Pearce regularly used her height to intercept attacking forays.
The second term was an arm wrestle, with just two behinds scored by the Falcons as Paxman continually drove her team forward and the efforts of Creekers backs such as Lauren Morecroft and Laura Duryea held back the tide.
The contest opened up in the third quarter as Darebin’s class threatened to blow the game open. An early major to Ebony Marinoff created a 19-point lead before Molloy finally received her chance just minutes later. The 18-year-old converted a set shot after taking a big hit from Paxman that then forced the budding star from the field cradling her arm in her guernsey.
With Molloy out of the game until courageously returning in the last term, Daisy Pearce nailed a classy goal on the run to answer and push the Falcons 20 points clear close to three-quarter time, but Abbatangelo’s two majors either side of the change brought Diamond Creek within nine points and provided reward for the tough efforts of co-captain Steph Chiocci, Lauren Brazzale and Ash Riddell in the contests.
However, a brilliant set-shot conversion from an angle by Brennan midway through the final stanza made the task too difficult for the Creekers and helped add another chapter to Darebin’s recent story of domination in Victorian women’s football.
— #PJVFL / #VFLWomens (@VFL) September 24, 2017
DIAMOND CREEK 0.2 0.2 2.2 4.4 (28)
DAREBIN 2.1 2.3 4.4 5.5 (35)
Diamond Creek: Abbatangelo 2, Molloy, Loynes
Darebin: Brennan 2, McDonald, Marinoff, D.Pearce
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