by Kyle Champion
It was another tough week for Thunder at GMHBA Stadium with Geelong winning convincingly over NT. The final score saw Geelong 9.8(62) defeat Thunder 3.1(19).
In the opening term, Geelong applied the pressure early. A quick play by the Cats saw Jamie Woollett get out the back, to give the Cats the perfect start.
Machaelia Roberts was fast to reply, her quick burst inside 50 nailed Thunder’s first goal of the day. Unfortunately, the Cats would respond with three unanswered goals through Ruby Benham, Renee Caris, and Georgia Clarke to end the quarter.
In the second term, Thunder was matching Geelong’s pressure around the ground. Morgan Johnston and Ebony Miller were playing the perfect clean-up crew down back and Katie Streader was working hard on the wing.
A great rundown tackle by Celina Whan had her line up directly in front of goal. Whan made no mistake kicking her first major in NT colours and gave Thunder a much-needed boost.
But Geelong hit back with Caris and Clarke claiming their second majors to end the first half.
The third quarter had the ball living in Geelong’s forward line, Thunder was being outrun and out hunted by the Cats.
Although Geelong was inaccurate in front of goal, it dominated the inside 50 count and kept Thunder scoreless. Madison Maguire kicked truly late to extend the margin and keep Thunder out of reach.
The final act had the Cats up and about again, they were dominating possession and demanding the front position across the ground.
Tayla Thorn was pushed forward and was able to create a goal off some great forward pressure.
However, time was the enemy and Geelong quickly replied with Sophie Van De Heuvel kicking back to back goals to end the match.
AFLW champion Ebony Marinoff thought Geelong’s AFLW top-heavy talent was tough on display considering the Cats had 12 senior women on the field to Thunder’s two.
“It was pretty tough coming in with Geelong coming out with 12 AFLW girls,” Marinoff said. “Then there was only me and Sally Riley who has joined up with the Gold Coast for senior talent. Geelong are very well drilled and when they’ve got cohesion with forwards, midfield, and backs, it makes things a little bit difficult. But that’s what VFLW is with AFLW girls coming in and out so it was a bit of a challenge today.”
Marinoff has been away on holidays for some time, she only recently found out she would be playing this week. Unfortunately, it may be the only game she plays with the AFLW pre-season training around the corner.
“I actually didn’t know I’d be playing until later on in the week,” she said. “I have been in Europe for the last couple of months. I was going to have the VFL season off, all my teammates are either overseas, away in Australia somewhere, working, or injured. I got the call up this week, but I’ll probably head back (to South Australia) so this is probably my one-hit-wonder. I have got to get my body right for the AFLW preseason which is my priority at the moment.”
Marinoff expressed the importance of senior women taking part in the VFLW as it is crucial for player development.
“Having AFLW girls play week in and week out is beneficial,” she said. “I know VFLW is VFLW, but the more VFLW teams play their AFLW girls, they will get a higher standard of football. The higher the standard the better the girls (NT Thunder) will get.”
Two of the players who have impressed Marinoff are Thorn and Alysha Healy. Thorn was drafted by Adelaide in 2016, but her former Crows teammate believes she is due for a recall. Healy, on the other hand, is one of the Central Allies youth girls that has been impressive in recent years.
“Tayla Thorn is awesome,” Marinoff said. “She played for us in Adelaide’s first season of AFLW. Hopefully, she puts her name forward in the draft, she’d definitely be a great pickup. Another young gun is Alysha Healy who’s coming through the ranks through the NT youth girls which is really exciting. Maybe she could follow the pathway of Danielle Ponter, who knows.”
Thunder now have the bye for the next round and after four straight losses, they desperately need it. Finals seem to be out of reach, but the Thunder would love to finish the 2019 season with a few more wins.
NT Thunder: 1.1 I 2.1 I 2.1 I 3.1 (19)
Geelong: 4.1 I 6.3 I 7.7 I 9.8 (62)
NT Thunder: Tayla Thorn, Machaelia Roberts, Celina Whan
Geelong: Sophie Van De Heuvel 2, Georgia Clarke 2, Renee Caris 2, Jamie Woollett, Madisen Maguire, Ruby Benham
NT Thunder: Ebony Marinoff, Mattea Breed, Tayla Thorn, Katie Streader, Janet Baird, Charlie Deegan
Geelong: Rebecca Webster, Rachelle Cranston, Tarryn Love, Renee Caris, Georgia Clarke, Sophie Van De Heuvel