by Kyle Champion
In a battle of attrition, NT Thunder has outlasted Hawthorn in a tough contest. Hawthorn started off well but was slowly overtaken. The final result saw NT Thunder 3.13(49) defeat Hawthorn 4.3(27).
It was a cold day at Box Hill City Oval as NT Thunder went head to head with the reigning premiers, Hawthorn. NT Thunder had a disappointing end to season 2018 and wanted to make an impact in Round 1 of VFLW.
Hawthorn was alive early as a quick kick inside 50 and a free kick had Jessica Sibley lining up for goal early. A behind was the result as Thunder began to rebound line against a strong Hawthorn defence. Irish star Ailiish Considine finally broke the ice with a quick snap around the corner to claim Thunders first major. Angela Foley and Deni Varnhagen were starting to get busy in the midfield as repeated inside 50’s had Hawthorn’s backline under serious pressure. The Hawks managed to hang till the siren as Thunder claimed early bragging rights.
The second term had Chelsea Randall dominate play as her centre clearances and tackles showed the talent of a true champion. NT began to pepper their forward line but due to inaccuracy and lack of penetration in their kicks, the ball was rushed behind on multiple occasions. Hawthorn bounced back with Tamara Luke taking a great pack mark in the goal square and booting the Hawks first. Inside clearances were favouring NT Thunder but the Hawks ability to flood back made it very difficult on Thunders forwards.
A slingshot play had Chantella Perera push forward and give the Hawks the lead. Thunder was in deep need for a goal and Foley delivered with a tight shot at goal from the boundary. Gwynne Medallist Janet Baird was next to goal after an anti-density rule had her line up directly in front of goal. Hawthorn just managed to sneak a goal a minute behind the siren through Jessica Sibley slotting her first major.
From the start of the third quarter, the Hawks had another broken another anti-density rule. Considine was awarded the free 40 meters out from goal and made no mistake slotting her second. A decent margin had Hawthorn desperate as Thunder began to take control. Forwards Amy Chittick, Tahlia Holtze, and Jordann Hickey all combined to bring in real forward pressure in the third term. Jasmyn Hewett kicked Thunders next as a ‘Stevie J’ snap had Thunder turning into lightning.
The final act had the Hawks strike back as Sibley proved that size does matter as she kicked her second major off a big pack mark. Hawthorn was swarming but Thunders backline was holding strong despite the intensity. A stalemate would last for 15 minutes until Lisa Roberts snuck into the forward line and drilled a goal off the burst. The nail in the coffin had been well and truly hammered home as Thunder claimed their first win for the year.
Captain Lateesha Jeffrey was happy with the win but knows her team has a lot of room for improvement.
“There is a lot we still need to work on especially converting our goals,” she said. “Every quarter especially the last, we knew we couldn’t let Hawthorn get a taste for the contest because we know how good they are.”
Jeffrey praised the efforts of Crows stars Varnhagen, Randall and Foley but was equally impressed with likes of Tayla Thorn and Machaelia Roberts
“Varnhagen, Foley and Randall were definitely the standouts today,” Jeffrey said. I think Tayla Thorn in the backline was good, she got the ball out quickly and can cover some range with her kicks. Machaelia Roberts was another who rotated into the forward line and she was ferocious. In the end, it was a team effort and everybody played their role.”
Before today Jeffrey had never seen Lisa Roberts kick a goal, but today she has.
I think it’s the first time I’ve seen her kick a goal,” she said. “We don’t see Robbo go forward too often, but I saw the red boots and the goal and thought yeah that’s Robbo.”
NT THUNDER: 1.4, 3.8, 5.10, 3.13 (49)
HAWTHORN: 0.1, 3.1, 3.2, 4.3 (27)
Goals: NT Thunder – A. Considine 2, L. Roberts, J. Baird, J. Hewett, A. Foley
Hawthorn – J. Sibley 2, T. Luke, C. Perera
Best – NT Thunder: T. Thorn, C. Randall, J. Hewett, D. Varnhagen, M. Roberts
Hawthorn – T. Luke, C. Perera, E. Nixon, P. Peschke, R. Dillon, N. Cormack