By Kyle Champion
In an extremely tough contest, NT Thunder managed to escape Carlton by seven points to win the game. The Final score was NT Thunder 8.5 (53) defeating Carlton 7.4 (46).
Before the game even started Thunder was at a disadvantage, Lisa Roberts was a late withdrawal and NT had to play with a woman short.
The opening bounce had Thunder on top early, a quick burst from the stoppages had Sally Riley snap the opening goal to give NT the perfect start.
Carlton would respond quickly through Breanne Moody, who proved too tall up forward. Carlton had an intimidating line up in the midfield as AFLW stars Madison Prespakis and Sarah Hosking looked dangerous early.
Thunder continued to press as Chelsea Randall and Angela Foley were everywhere. Kristy Irvine missed last week but made an immediate impact as she burst through the pack to kick Thunders second of the day. Carlton pressed forward late, but Thunder held on strong to end the first term.
The second quarter had Carlton dominate the possession, they had the ball on a string and Thunder were a step behind.
Thunders defenders were completely under siege. Lateesha Jeffrey copped a nasty knee in the guts that had the skipper laid out on the field. Jeffrey managed to walk it off but in the meantime Thunders backline was outnumbered.
Shantel Miskin-Ripia and Tayla Thorn were showing desperate acts to sustain the immense pressure the Blues were applying. Carlton finally broke through the NT wall as a lucky bounce to Teresa Cassar had Carlton just behind Thunder.
Katie Streader and Foley tried their hardest to score against the flow, but Jess Hosking was intercepting most of Thunder’s entries.
Meanwhile, the other Hosking sister Sarah, pushed forward to give Carlton the lead. The twins were proving to be a thorn in Thunder’s side.
Carlton started off the third term as they did in the last, they were winning the contested ball and Thunder needed to respond.
The response came through Tahlia Holtze, a check side off the boot through heavy congestion, put Thunder in front. It was short lived as a free kick had Natalie Plane line up directly in front to tie it all up.
Randall was moved to the halfback which proved to a smart move as her intercept marking was setting up the counter-attack.
Now thunder was taking control as forward pressure and defensive rebounds set up Riley to kick her second major.
Carlton was beginning to make mistakes and Thunder began to make them pay. Holtze was next to find the big sticks after her soccer skills pulled off the goal of the day from a tight angle.
Thunder began to bring a storm as Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill booted another to give NT a handy lead.
Carlton hit back late in the term as they strolled in to kick another major with poor checking by Thunder to end the quarter.
The final term had Prespakis crash out of the contest and smash the clearances. She soon spotted up Sarah Wright in the forward line who made no mistake in front of goal. Even though the game was dead even, the tide had turned.
Carlton had the momentum and thunder were hanging onto dear life. In a tight scrimmage, Foley managed to pump the ball inside 50 and Kristy Irvine was awarded a free kick for a push out.
She kicked truly to give Thunder a buffer but Carlton was not going away.
The ball was living in Carlton’s forward line and Thunder was starting to feel the heat. Mia Rae Clifford soon lined up from goal and kicked a thumper that just made the distance.
The game was tied yet again, Thunder needed a champion and Randall stood up. She burst from the defence shrugging off three would be tacklers then set up Machaelia Roberts to run into an open goal. Thunder took the lead late and with only seconds to go, Thorn gave Thunder a handy behind to win the game by a seven-point margin.
After last week’s performance, Thunder was seeking redemption and Tayla Thorn believed they achieved that against Carlton.
“I think from last week we wanted a bit of redemption,” Thorn said. “We had to back to the basics and play our game and do the fundamentals right. This game proved it, that we can push ourselves and it felt good to get the win and get back on the winner’s list.”
Thorn would have loved to rub salt in the wound from her last shot at goal but admits the weather denied her.
“I told one of the defenders to hold my spot for the last five minutes,” she said. “I managed to sneak forward and had the perfect run, but the wind took it to the point post. Pretty disappointed, but if we won by that one point, I would have been more than happy.”
With the next two games of the season being played in Darwin, Thunder will not need to travel as it can take it’s a toll on the players.
“Flying is really exhausting,” Thorn said. “Four hours here, four hours back, so it’s good to have a home game and play in our home ground and hopefully get the wins.”
Thorn had just recently returned from a head injury but all she wanted was to retain her spot on the squad despite the challenges.
“My heads a bit sore, I got my stitches out last weekend so coming back just a few headaches. But I went out to prove a point to get back in the side and to prove I could keep my spot. There are a lot of physical and mental fundamentals out there and that’s what I’m here for.”
Thorn is looking to head back on to an AFLW list for this year’s draft. Thorn isn’t being picky about where she gets drafted as she is looking to join any club that offers her an opportunity.
“Looking to get back onto an AFLW list,” she said. “But I’m keeping my options open and taking any opportunities that head my way with both hands,” said Thorn.
NT THUNDER: 2.1 I 3.3 I 6.4 I 8.5 (53)
CARLTON: 1.2 I 2.3 I 5.4 I 7.4 (46)
NT Thunder: 2. K. Irvine, 2 T. Holtze, 2, S. Riley S. Hoogeveen-Hill, K. Irvine, M. Roberts
Carlton: 2 N. Plane, B. Moody, T. Cassar, S. Hosking, M. Clifford, S. Wright
NT Thunder: K. Irvine, C. Randall, K. Streader, M. Roberts, S. Miskin Ripia
Carlton: A. McKay, M. Prespakis, J. Hosking, N. Stevens, T. Cassar