Ebony Miller fights for the ball

Thunder enter the kennel at Ballarat this Saturday

23.07.19 17:12

by Kyle Champion

Last Saturday, NT Thunder suffered the worst defeat in its short VFLW history.

It was the last game that Thunder would play in the Northern Territory for 2019, but they couldn’t take advantage. The Casey Demons proved too strong and as a result, Thunder has been knocked down to seventh place on the ladder.

A good bit of news was the return of Ebony Miller. But it was all bittersweet with a poor result on her home deck.

“Wasn’t the best feeling,” she said. “To be playing on my home ground with that result was disappointing. But it did feel good to be back out there playing again.”

Miller had suffered an MCL injury back in Round 4 against Collingwood. It was a severe injury, but Miller has miraculously returned a few weeks earlier than anticipated.

“My injury was severe,” she said. “It was supposed to take a few more weeks to heal. But I worked really hard on my recovery and being fit helped to speed up the process. Hopefully, it won’t take me long to get back to the form I had before the injury.”

With the AFLW Under 18 Championships finished, the NT talent from the Central Allies is expected to return. Another possible return is former Adelaide Crows premiership player and NT great, Sally Riley.

“Sally Riley should be back from travelling,” she said. “She’s a very classy player that shows great leadership around the club. A couple of our under 18 girls should be back also. Shantel Miskin-Ripia and Mattea Breed will hopefully be back in the team. I’ve been watching them play with the Central Allies and Thunder and they’ve been outstanding.”

This week Thunder will have to travel twice as they meet the Bulldogs at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. The Dogs have knocked off some final’s contenders in the past, but have lacked consistency throughout the season.

“Travelling to Ballarat will be a test,” Miller said. “The Bulldogs are a very professional and well-drilled team. They’ve managed to beat Richmond and Geelong, but they lost to the Saints and we beat the Saints earlier in the year. It’ll be a tough contest and we’re are looking forward to the challenge.”

With just four games left for Thunder, their chances of making finals are in their hands. But Miller says the team isn’t worried about making finals.

“We haven’t been worried about finals,” Miller said. “Our main focus has been on the team in front of us each week. Having all the changes to our personal week after week has been tough so we’ve had to adjust and develop to the situation. We just need to go out there and show some effort and improvement, and hopefully it will show on the scoreboard.”

The race for finals is not over yet with five rounds still to come. If Thunder defeats the Western Bulldogs on the Dogs’ home turf, they could make a late blitz for a top-four spot.

Collingwood currently sits high on top of the ladder with the Southern Saints just below. The Saints are two wins ahead of the competition, but things could get interesting with six teams eyeing the third and fourth spots.

The contenders are the Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Hawthorn, Melbourne University, NT Thunder, and Geelong. All have been inconsistent and all are a chance to sneak into September action.

VFLW Round 12: NT Thunder vs Western Bulldogs – 2:00pm AEST Saturday 27 July, Mars Stadium, Ballarat