by Kyle Champion
It’s the final game of the VFLW home and away season this weekend as NT Thunder face Melbourne University at Arden St. It will be Thunder’s last game for 2019 as they seek one last win just before they exit.
Last Sunday, Thunder suffered a heavy loss to the Demons. A depleted interchange bench due to late injury and withdrawal had the NT girls out on their feet at Frankston.
Regardless of the tough circumstances, midfielder Janet Baird was proud of her team for sucking up the pain and playing out the match.
“It was hard to deal with,” Baird said. “The late outs didn’t help and towards the end, we had no bench time with limited rotations. But I thought the girls did well to push through the fatigue and play out the game to the end.”
In 2018, Baird had suffered through some aggravating injuries that kept her sidelined for most of the season. This year, Baird has played out most of the games as one of Thunder’s more consistent players.
“It feels good to play without any interruptions,” she said. “Last season I got side-tracked with knee and hamstring injuries. I bruised my knee badly at one stage and then I tore my hamstring later on. But this season I’ve been good.”
A few of Baird’s Palmerston teammates from the NTFL found their way down south to sign with Essendon for this season.
Both Freda Puruntatameri and Jessica Stassi have shown great strides in their development playing for the Bombers. However, Baird would enjoy seeing her old friends in Thunder colours next year.
“It would be great if they came over,” Baird said. “They’re awesome teammates and awesome players. If they wanted to come over to Thunder next season, they could do great things over here.”
Bella Clarke suffered an ankle injury the day before she was supposed to make her debut against Casey. Baird is hopeful that Clarke can shake off her injury and play this Sunday.
“Bella had a small injury during the captains run,” Baird said. “I’m sure with injury management monitoring her, she should play this week. Bella hasn’t played for us all season but if she gets her opportunity this week, she’s going to be great for us. She has earned her spot.”
This week is no easy task for Thunder as the Mugars are fighting for their season. Right now, Melbourne University are tied with Geelong on wins. The only thing standing in Mugars path to the VFLW finals is Thunder.
“They’re a strong and competitive side,” Baird said. “They’ve been in good form lately and have a greater motivation to win this week with finals on the table. But we’re going to focus on our game. We need to stick to our strengths and play our brand of footy. It’s the last game of the season so we need to make the most of it.”
It has been an up and down season for NT Thunder this year. But they will be happy to disappoint Melbourne University just before they leave the 2019 VFLW season.
VFLW Round 16: NT Thunder vs Melbourne University – 12:00pm Sunday 25 August, Arden St Oval, Melbourne