by Kyle Champion
After a disappointing loss against Richmond last weekend, Thunder is ready to rebound against Essendon this week.
Katie Streader believes another loss at home would be upsetting for the team, but the ability to play in Darwin gives Thunder something extra to fight for.
“We’re definitely gonna try and put our foot down against the Bombers. It would be devastating to lose twice. When we have the chance to play here at home, we want to play well and win for our family and friends watching. We want our supporters to be proud of us because we love playing at TIO Stadium in front of them.”
Streader is currently playing in her second year for Thunder and although she was nervous in her first season, she is thoroughly enjoying her football now.
“It’s been nice to know what to expect,” she said. “Last year the nerves were kicking in, but this year I know what to expect and I’m finding the game much more enjoyable.”
Streader is used to playing an inside midfielder at NTFL, but now she has a new position on the wings of the contest.
“I’m used to being in the thick of every contest,” she said. “Now I’m trying not to get sucked into the contest because I have a new role. But it’s good, I look at the game differently now and this is a new challenge for me to try something new.
Thunder was very wasteful of their goal opportunities last Saturday, but Streader believes there is a lot more work to do before facing the Bombers.
“Structures around the contest fell away late last week which I thought hurt us,” Streader said. “Goal kicking is definitely one thing we need to work on, we must convert our opportunities. I think we’ll have a look at aerial work as well, particularly in spoiling the ball. Richmond had a lot of size in their team and our girls need to know how to use their bodies against taller opponents.
So far Thunder has lost to two heavyweight teams in Collingwood and Richmond. Streader looks at these clubs as a challenge that must be beaten.
“We need to overcome those challenges,” she said. “We need to challenge ourselves to take it up to the better sides of the competition. We gotta be hungry and we’ve got to push ourselves to the next level. If we can do that, we can give them a run for their money.”
Thunder now has three wins and two losses, but Essendon only has one win to their name. However, that doesn’t mean they are short of talent.
Their champion Hayley Bullas was a member of last year’s VFLW team of the year. Bullas took the Bombers best and fairest for the 2018 season. That year she was ranked first for tackles and third for clearances in the VFLW.
Supporting Bullas is former AFLW stars Cecilia McIntosh, Shae Audley, and Bombers skipper Courtney Ugle.
McIntosh was an occult favourite at Collingwood, she has the ability to play forward or back but is elite in both areas.
Audley previously played for Carlton and is normally used as a shutdown tagger for the most dangerous midfielders.
Ugle is Essendon’s new captain for 2019. Ugle predominantly plays on the wing and has proven to be a good user of the ball. Her influence and leadership are crucial to Essendon’s structure.
VFLW Round 7: NT Thunder vs Essendon – 3:30pm AEST Saturday 22 June, TIO Stadium, Darwin