Round 7 match preiew

Thunder expecting cool reception from Saints – Round 7

21.06.18 09:49

NT Thunder makes the long, cold, trip south again this weekend for its VFL W Round 7 match against the Southern Saints at Skybus Stadium in Frankston on Saturday.

Last weekend Thunder endured cold and windy conditions in dispatching Carlton by 36 points to extend its unbeaten run to five matches in its inaugural season in the VFL W.

This weekend they travel to the Melbourne suburb of Frankton to take on the Southern Saints for Round 7 on a ground just a stone’s throw from the beach.

The Saints have won three matches and lost two so far this VFL W season and sit sixth on the ladder.

Thunder has won five and lost none and is in second spot on the ladder.

Kate Macqueen was the Saints’ solitary goal-kicker against Hawthorn last round as they lost to the Hawks by 33 points.

In contrast, Thunder hasn’t had a lot of difficulty scoring goals so far this season and against the Blues, kicked the first five goals of the match.

One of the stories of Round 6 was the debut of Lauren Motlop for Thunder after being a travelling emergency more than once.

Speaking after the match, coach Tim Weatherald praised the versatile player for the way she’d approached the game.

“She kicked a goal, really presented and some of her forward pressure was brilliant. The girls loved having her around and she’ll definitely get more opportunities to play. It was a great effort by her and it was good having a Motlop in there,” he said.

Motlop is forging her own path in footy, but it’s hard to avoid thinking she’s following the “family business”.

Lauren’s brothers Daniel (North Melbourne/Port Adelaide), Shannon (North Melbourne/Melbourne) and Steven (Geelong/Port Adelaide) have all played in the AFL.

Her mother Stephanie is a stalwart of the Wanderers’ Football Club in Darwin and brother Rod Waddell played for Geelong and Carlton.

Her father Eddie has been a coach for Wanderers in the NTFL and the club’s president.

Her uncles Mark, Mo and Paul have all been coaches and players of note in the NTFL among other leagues around the country.

Her cousins Aaron, Thomas, Marlon (Port Adelaide), Brenton and Jerome have also made their marks in the NT and around the country.

“They watch me and give me a few tips here and there,” Lauren says.

“They’re proud of me, I know they are, they probably don’t say it so much, but they ring me after a game and ask me how I went. They’re always supportive.”

As good as the Motlop men are at chasing footballs around grassed ovals, Lauren says the football-going public should start tuning into the women’s game.

“I think maybe one thing I have that they don’t have is my defensive side,” she says.

I’m a better defender than they are. They’re more skillful and they get there and they’re tough and that, but I’d like to say I’m a little bit tougher than them.”

After missing the second half of the NTFL season, due to a medial collateral injury to her knee, Motlop is enjoying being back in the game.

“It was really exciting,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity. I was patient. I waited. It was a lot of fun to play.

“I played in the forward line, full forward and pushed up the ground a bit so it was good. I don’t usually play forward, I’m usually a backline player.

“In the NTFL I play through the midfield, but in state comps I’m usually a backline player so it was good to get a feel for the forward line.”

With her first game and first goal under her belt, Motlop is now looking to consolidate her position in the side and if she can do that, will happily welcome any further promotion.

“If the opportunity’s there I’d grab it with both hands again, just like the VFL W,” she said.

“I think I’m doing all the right things and from my past experience when the AFLW was introduced, I was a part of that, I think at the time I wasn’t ready. I thought I was, but I probably wasn’t and I think now having that insight over the last three years has given me a better understanding of what it’s going to take for me to be a part of this VFL W side.”

She says playing and training alongside the AFLW players in Thunder’s VFL W squad is also bringing her benefits.

“Being around the Adelaide Crows girls, it really pushes you to that next level,” she explains.

“I guess you know you’ve got to be up there fighting for a spot every week. It’s interesting and it’s exciting at the same time.”

Although the AFLW dream is still an ambition of hers, Motlop says her immediate goals remain pretty simple.

“I just want to be a better player and a better person, a better team-mate, so that’s my aim at the moment,” she said.

VFL W Round 7 – Southern Saints v NT Thunder,11.15 am Saturday 23 June, Skybus Stadium, Frankston.