Point Proven

Point Proven

One-point thrillers seemed to be the order of the first 24 hours of the weekend, with Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team following in the steps of Collingwood the night before who edged out West Coast by a point. The Animalettes left Bennettswood Reserve for the last time in the 2019 season winners, producing four quarters worthy of everyone’s attention. The typical Melbourne weather took cues from the Animalettes themselves, getting better as the morning wore on. Intermittent rain and sunshine streamed down as Prahran Assumption struggled to combat the intensity and pressure that was constantly and consistently being applied to them at every turn. Mental and physical toughness were the key messages Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team ran out onto the ground with and they provided the exact visual representation of that. In arguably tough conditions, they put their heads down and gritted their teeth to get a win for the ages, despite the game being a low-scoring affair.

Put simply, the Animalettes showed that they wanted it more. For four quarters they were willing and able to put their bodies on the line for their teammates and their club, with tackling pressure relentless and constant, unwilling to give in to their opposition. For a game between fourth and seventh on the ladder and with Prahran rightly coming into the game as favourites particularly given the fact that the last time they faced each other, Prahran ran away with the win 66-0, it didn’t show as they were almost stunned with the way Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team came out of the gates. Head Coach Roy Fenton lauded the attack on the footy with Assistant Coach Brendan Ellwood believing it to be the best he’s seen from his team.

The first quarter was a slog, with much of the play in the Animalettes’ attacking half, making them unlucky to go into quarter time with only a point on the board. Still, for a team who aren’t well known for fast starts, they continued their form from their last outing against Swinburne University and controlled the game for a majority of the first half, with nobody scoring in the second quarter. The run and carry game that Prahran beat Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team with the first time was nowhere to be found with the tackling pressure and clean ball usage from the Animalettes ridding them of the opportunity.

The third quarter began much of the same way after a happy halftime break for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team who went into the rooms already proud of their achievements. But in true Animalettes fashion to keep everyone at the pavilion and on the bench on their toes, the third quarter, while still incredibly impressive, showed glimpses of games past. Momentary lapses gave Prahran some control back, only for the Animalettes to wrangle the game into their own hands again, particularly in the dying minutes of the third. Prahran went into the last break 0.1.1 whilst their opponents had managed two more minor scores and were sitting at 0.3.3.

The situation got a bit dicey in the last quarter before the Animalettes clicked into another gear and had most of the possessions, dominating play and allowing them to hold onto the ball in their forward fifty, despite Prahran adding a minor score to their total. With 40 seconds to go, Sheridan Harris held on to a double-grab mark from an opposition’s clearing kick out of the Animalettes’ forward 50, and knowing she wouldn’t make the distance to goal, used as much time as she could before launching the ball to the top of the square, where a tight contest kept it in until the final siren sounded, the scoreboard 0.3.3 to 0.2.2.

Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team normally finish games smiling, regardless of the scoreboard, but the smiles they wore as they shook hands with their opponents were more blinding than the sun that had made another appearance. To get the reward for their second game in a row is something they’ll remember for a long time. A tight team hug out on the ground preceded the walk off the ground to the rooms, where a rousing rendition of Grand Old Flag could be heard.

Their fourth win of the season gifts the Animalettes a different kind of streak, sending them into the last two games of the year on a two-game winning streak. On-field, they look a settled, united front, with Ellwood enjoying how much his charges are beginning to adapt to each other’s strengths and trusting each other’s abilities. It was a show of complete ease and the gelling of the team that hasn’t been seen in months that got Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team over the line. Fenton was impressed with how well the shotgun handpass out the back worked, with his team hitting targets with nearly every handball. Both coaches are incredibly proud of the way their team goes about their footy and were absolutely rapt with the win.

It’s hard to single out players in a game that was wholly a team effort and where the connection between the entire team was on show. But particular efforts from Abbey Gray, who was a surprise inclusion for the blue and blue, and Maddy Hogan excelled with their abilities to lockdown opposition players in tackles and create stoppages. The defence line stood up strong like they have for most of the season, flourishing and getting the ball out with relative ease on the back of impeccable ball-collecting skills from vice-captain Sam Bridgland, who beat her direct opponent in the air and on the ground every time. Kayla Hetherington and Shannon Harris facilitated movement in the forward line that allowed for easy uncontested marks, and Bridget Monaghan’s work with Hogan in the ruck gave the girls at their feet every opportunity. Both Kate Fletcher and Tara Ingham made their returns to the team, and did so seamlessly, playing their roles to the best of their abilities like they hadn’t missed a few games, with Fletcher’s pressure on the ball-carrier back in full swing, and Ingham’s innate positional knowledge again allowing her to float where she liked.

Winning two games in a row this late into the season boosts the spirits for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team and sets them up well for the last two games of 2019. This week, they hike over to W.R. Ruthven Reserve to take on the second-placed Preston Bullants. Both teams are coming off wins, with Preston aiming to cement a top two spot and the Animalettes looking to continue finishing off the season on a high. If they play the way they did against Prahran, they’re in with a huge chance for the upset of the year.

Women host grudge match to end home season

Women host grudge match to end home season

For the last time in the 2019 home and away season, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team will run out onto Bennettswood Reserve on Saturday, playing host to Prahran Assumption for their second encounter of the year. Two weeks ago, the Animalettes put on a show against Swinburne University away from home, securing their third win of the year and consolidating weeks of Animals spirit and determination into a win on the scoreboard. The VAFA-wide Representative weekend bye allowed them to celebrate the culmination of their efforts, but it hasn’t changed the intensity at training.

The last time they met each other, Prahran ran away winners by 66 points, with Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team being unable to put a score on the board. With Prahran sitting fourth on the ladder and the Animalettes sitting seventh, there’s a huge opportunity for them to beat a good opposition. Both teams are coming off wins and will be searching for another one when they take the field on Saturday.

Team selection has quite a few more names than there have been in recent weeks, with a proper bench named and players returning. In the backline, Soraya Jeanes, Sam Bridgland and Dee Burden will have some run provided by Shino Walsh, Claire Anderson and Abbey Gray at halfback. Maddy Hogan will start in the ruck, and Sam Hogarth, Shellby Lonie, and Shanelle Blachford at her feet. Out on the wings is Sarah Morley and Tara Ingham. On the half forward line is Jess Evans, Sheridan Harris, Kayla Hetherington and Kate Lucas, with Shannon Harris and Bridget Monaghan starting deep. Delightful inclusions has three named on the bench, with Kate Fletcher, Caroline Simon and Ashleigh Morley.

The win against Swinburne University only emphasised and heightened the sense of unity for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team. With a couple of skilful and promising training nights under their belts, Saturday’s game is set to be a cracker. Will the return of a bench provide some extra legs for the Animalettes to run the game out? Are the inclusions of the likes of Tara Ingham and Caroline Simon likely to provide some more supply to the forward line? Get down to Bennettswood Reserve and find out! First bounce is 9.20am.

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That's Morley Like It - Animals snap streak to sink Swinburne

That's Morley Like It - Animals snap streak to sink Swinburne

Shellby Lonie kicks her third goal for 2019

Shellby Lonie kicks her third goal for 2019

It was typical Melbourne weather for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team when they trekked over to St James Park to face Swinburne University on the weekend, with blue skies and sun providing warmth for their warm up, only for it to give way to blustery wind and eventual rain as the day wore on. But the Animalettes weren’t distracted by the ever-changing weather nor their 7-game losing streak and provided their own moments of sunshine, holding their own on the field for the entire day and putting together almost four quarters of pressure and fight that rewarded them with their third win of the season. Playing with one on the bench seemed to invigorate Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team for much of the day, with every player keen to put every ounce of effort they could into every contest they were in.

For Head Women’s Coach Roy Fenton, the win was set up in the first quarter, with his charges starting the game kicking against the wind though you couldn’t tell, outscoring Swinburne 2.3.15 to 2.0.12. ‘The pressure on the opposition was fantastic and our quick disposal and ability to get the footy forward quickly was great.’ Shellby Lonie added to her season tally with a goal, and Abbey Gray scored her first in the blue and blue, with both majors being celebrated as they should have, players running from everywhere to get around their teammates. Already a huge sense of passion had blanketed St James Park and sparked efforts from every Emmaus St Leo’s player.

The team mob Abbey Gray as she slots her first as an Animal

The team mob Abbey Gray as she slots her first as an Animal

After a quarter-time break that saw smiles on the faces of everyone part of this women’s side, players, coaches and supporters alike, the Animalettes came out of the blocks firing for the second quarter, just as they had in the first. Fenton was impressed with how the intensity continued as well as the pressure, with his team adding their score with an impressive set shot by Shannon Harris, who marked on top of the square in a change from the week before and expertly sent the ball through the big sticks, and four behinds. Not only this, but Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team kept Swinburne scoreless, and had a majority of the play for the entire twenty minutes with the score at the halftime siren having Swinburne still at 2.0.12 to their opponents’ 3.7.25.

For Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team, the rooms at halftime are never not full of smiles and fun, despite the way the scoreboard looks sometimes. But the rooms at halftime on Saturday were filled with so much pride in the way they’d gone about their first half of football and the fact that they’d gotten some reward on the scoreboard for their efforts. For a team who could have nearly trademarked slow starts at the beginning of the season, to come out and play the way they did was worthy of celebration. And despite a less-than-flash third quarter, they still managed to limit Swinburne’s scoring and win the quarter, finishing it 4.1.25 to the Animalettes’ 3.8.26.

Shannon Harris goals for the second week of the row, much to the enjoyment of Shellby Lonie and Bridget Monaghan

Shannon Harris goals for the second week of the row, much to the enjoyment of Shellby Lonie and Bridget Monaghan

With a couple of injured girls on the sidelines and some of the men down providing support and holding down the fort off-field, the Animalettes held the fort on-field. After a not-so-great third quarter where the intensity dropped off and Swinburne scored a couple of easy goals, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team came out of a tight huddle and into the fourth quarter ready to win and get the scoreboard reward that they’d sorely missed. The Animalettes played for each other all game, connecting on the field in ways they haven’t in a long time, and it showed, particularly in the fourth. Even when the ball came out of the forward 50, it was rocketed straight back in, the offensive pressure high.

The fourth quarter effort made Assistant Women’s Coach Brendan Ellwood incredibly proud, ‘being able to absorb pressure in the back 50 for a solid 8-10 minutes, and then immediately get a goal on the counter-attack was massive. It really boosted our spirits.’ It was definitely a quarter to remember for the Animalettes, keeping Swinburne scoreless just as they had in the second. Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team finished the game 5.10.40, the highest score of the round for Division 3 Women’s, to Swinburne’s 4.1.25.

Two 2019 debutants for Emmaus St Leo’s scored their first goals, making the fourth quarter a Sarah affair, with Sarah Morley and Sarah Dawson both kicking true, much to the delight of their teammates. For Dawson, who started at Emmaus St Leo’s as the women’s team manager, it’s probably safe to assume she didn’t picture herself donning the blue and blue and kicking the sealer in her second game of the year, but it’s doubtful she or anyone else could imagine her anywhere else.

The team was in high spirits post match

The team was in high spirits post match

Ellwood couldn’t speak more highly of Morley and the way she came in and made a real impact. ‘Ash was boosted by her sister’s presence and was dangerous for most of the game.’ The sisters’ positioning on both the wings for the whole game gave their team some real run from the halfback line, which allowed the movement up forward. ‘Sarah and Abbey in the midfield gave us a real drive and lots of momentum.’ He also lauded Maddy Hogan’s efforts in the ruck, also believing her to be close to having the most tackles for the game. ‘There were also encouraging signs from both the Harris girls with some real pressure and intent, and another goal for Shan.’

‘It was a great team effort and everyone played their role,’ Fenton says to sum up. ‘Brendan, myself and a very vocal Koopy [Geoff Koop, head of media] were very impressed with the way the girls played, we even had a 3 man hug when the final siren sounded.’ This pride was further emphasised by Ellwood, who was excited to see that ‘we also looked dangerous up forward for the first time in quite a while. Girls were finding space, finding handball and kick options, and getting good shots on goal. We set up well to keep the ball in the forward half, with lots of intercept marks.’ The fact that the Animalettes had five goalkickers for the day isn’t lost on him, citing it ‘an encouraging sign.’

For Emmaus St Leo’s as a club, Saturday’s showing was immense, given the Animalettes were their only team to play. It was a game that fully encompassed every ounce of Animals spirit and showed promising signs not only for the last few games of the season, but for the years to come. In the debrief after the game, Ellwood let his charges know that clubs and teams are built on wins like the one they’d just had, and he couldn’t be more right. To finally get the reward they’d so desperately deserved after the last couple of weeks sets the Animalettes in good stead for the rest of the season. This weekend, it’s a VAFA-wide bye for Representative Weekend, but the following week they face Prahran at Bennettswood Reserve for their final home game of the year. After their last showing, it’s set to be an incredible game.

Animals looking to burne losing streak

Animals looking to burne losing streak

With Emmaus St Leo’s men’s teams not playing for a solid month, it’s up to the Animalettes to carry the torch for the club, and this weekend, they’re making the trip to St James Park to take on Swinburne University for the second time this year. Against ladder-leaders last weekend, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team showed pure fight for the entire four quarters despite losing out considerably on the scoreboard. The belief that was shown then will put them in good stead for the battle on Saturday.

Last time they saw each other, the Animalettes ran away with a two point win. That means that the last time they saw each other was the last time Emmaus St Leo’s team left the field winners on the scoreboard. In a first for the year, Swinburne sit one under the Animalettes on the ladder on points. Both teams are coming off long losing streaks, with Swinburne looking to remedy their 9-game streak, and the Animalettes their 7-game streak. It’s bound to be a good game given that both sides are nursing some wounds from the 2019 season and have something to prove.

In what’s becoming a weekly thing, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team is again debuting another player, even this late in the season. Ashwood junior Sarah Morley, who has impressed in the SMJFL Women’s u/18s competition this year with 3 goals in her last 3 games, has been granted a permit to join sister Ashleigh in the blue and the blue. The Morleys become the fifth set of siblings to play for the Animals in 2019.

Playing fullback is Jess Dawson, with Sam Bridgland and Dee Burden at her sides with Cassy Dutton, Kayla Hetherington and Soraya Jeanes at halfback. Maddy Hogan will start in the ruck, with Abbey Gray, Sam Hogarth and Shanelle Blachford at her feet, and Ashleigh Morley and Claire Anderson out on the wings. At half forward, Jess Evans, Sheridan Harris, Bridget Monaghan and Shellby Lonie are named, with Shannon Harris and Kate Lucas starting down deep. Both Sarahs are named on the bench at this point, with team-manager-turned played Sarah Dawson eager to pull the blue and blue on again, and Morley herself donning the guernsey for the first time.

In the last couple of weeks, the Animalettes fight that we saw at the start of the season has slowly returned and it’s been nothing short of inspiring to see. They have a real chance against Swinburne and will look to start the last part of the season off on a high. Are their scoring opportunities likely to continue? Can the Animalettes end their 7-game losing streak? With the men’s teams not set to return for awhile, get down to St James Park for your weekly dose of Animals spirit and find out. First bounce is at 11:20am.

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UHS grab win but Animals grab rewards

UHS grab win but Animals grab rewards

It was arguably a dirty day for Emmaus St Leo’s on Saturday, both literally and metaphorically. In the week before the triple header, Melbourne’s weather and three nights of training ravaged the Bennettswood Reserve oval, leaving pockets of mud and the opportunities for slipping everywhere. Both men’s team were again felled by Aquinas after jumping out of the blocks early and despite some on field heroics.

But just like the weather where blue skies broke through the grey clouds every once and awhile, there were moments of sunshine on field as well, especially for the women’s team who managed to score in a way they hadn’t managed in weeks against ladder-leaders UHS-VU.

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In the first quarter, the Animalettes managed to stem the bleeding slightly, only allowing their opponents to kick 3.4.22 in stark contrast to their first encounter earlier on in the year where they finished the first quarter 7.2.44. But it was the second quarter the Animalettes should specifically remember when they think of the game, limiting UHS-VU to just three scoring shots and only an addition of 8 points. Whilst they themselves only managed to score one behind, it was their work in the midfield and their ability to put pressure on their opponents that did the job. Also in the second quarter was the first score on the board for Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team as Sheridan Harris received a free kick for holding the ball and misfired a kick in the direction of Ashleigh Morley, who still collected it and would have kicked her first goal had it not been for the hand of a UHS-VU player who touched it on the line.

At the half time break, the mood in the change rooms was good despite the scoreline after a decent first half. In third quarter, the intensity dropped a little bit but the Animalettes still managed to set shots on goal, one from Jess Evans and the other from Soraya Jeanes. Unfortunately both missed, but the efforts that got them there were not lost on anybody.

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It was in the fourth quarter that Shannon Harris managed to snag her first goal of the year, and inadvertently the club, giving the Animalettes a well-deserved reward after continuous pressure all game. Harris dropped a sitter kicked by Sam Hogarth at the top of the goal square but in what wasn’t a great show of defence, her direct opponent had already taken to protecting the goal line, which allowed Harris the time to collect, set, and send the ball through. Players came from everywhere to celebrate the score, showing how united they are as a team despite some rough times. Sarah Dawson also played her first game in the blue and blue, and lined up for a set shot after taking an impressive chest mark with a couple of minutes to go in the 4th, unfortunately missing to the right.

UHS-VU finished the game 13.13.91 to 1.4.10 which had both women’s coaches supremely happy. They were impressed with their charges’ abilities to compete against a top side and stick with it for the entire four quarters, despite small moments here and there. For the Animalettes, it seems like for most of the season they’ve had all the right pieces, they just haven’t been falling into place at the right times. With four games left of the season, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team have the opportunity to finish off with a bang. This weekend, they travel to St. James Park for the first time to take on Swinburne University, and it’s set to be a cracker!

Ressies rolled, Seniors slump after six goal start

Ressies rolled, Seniors slump after six goal start

It was a dark day in more ways than one at Bennettswood Reserve as both Men’s sides failed to avenge their earlier falls to Aquinas, going down by 75 points in twos and 23 points in the Seniors. It’s a loss which sees the Seniors tumble out of the 4 before a month off.

The weather seemed to match the mood of the day, with Aquinas solidifying their position in the top 2 of both sections, making the most of the moist conditions on the day.

Aquinas Reserves started strongly, playing like there had been no rain all week, opening up with a 5 goal quarter to put the Animals on the back foot early.

Tom Birkett would kick the Animals first early on in the second, in what at the time was a reward for the tide starting to turn, however Aquinas would turn the screws going in to the half and held a healthy lead into the long change.

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The Animals once again came out strong, and gave themselves a glimmer of hope halfway through the third with Will Morris, Joe Anker, and Zach Kearns scoring to bring the margin within something manageable. However Aquinas again responded, and kicked 3 goals themselves to keep get it back to an 8 goal lead at the last. to

It was then when Aquinas put their foot down and lashed out with a 6 goal to 2 final term to blow the margin out and stay top of the table.

It was not all doom and gloom however, with the return of Alex Maunder to the backline showing promising signs for the final games of the year, whilst James Rippon and Zac “KD” Durrant featuring in the best on votes.

The Seniors started their match a lot brighter, kicking the first 6 goals of the contest and blowing Aquinas out of the water to start.

The ambush was led by co-captain Chris Beluszar who was off the chain in the opening term, dominating play and providing a boost to the entire side. When swingman Michael Davis and small forward Dan Hill both hit the board, the Animals were firing on all cylinders.

The Animals raced out to a 39-0 lead, and then the fightback started.

Aquinas snagged two late, and it would spark a landslide, with the Bloods kicking 14 of the last 17 goals kicked in the contest.

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Aquinas struck early and often in the second, and pulled ahead just before the half, as the weather moved in again.

In a familiar position of allowing their opponent back in the contest, the Animals came out hard to start the third strong, and hit the lead midway through the quarter. However Aquinas would not stay down for a long, and kicked out to a 2 goal lead late on in the third.

Much like their Reserve counterparts, Aquinas would kick away in the last, and ran out 14.6.90 to 9.13.67 winners, making the Animals pay for their inaccuracy in front of goal again.

It’s a loss that sees the Animals slump to 4 losses in their last 5, and slip out of the 4 before three straight weeks off before a trip over the Westgate to Westbourne.

Again, not all was lost on the day, with Dan Hill making a successful return to senior footy with 3 snags, whilst the Collins boys (Jesse and Ben) both featured heavily in a strong performance.

Animals true colours on show before VU clash

Animals true colours on show before VU clash

For the last time in the 2019 home and away season, all three Emmaus St Leo’s teams are playing at home at Bennettswood Reserve. As always, the women’s team are kicking off proceedings, and will be playing host to ladder-leaders UHS-VU. The Animalettes are doing some serious soul searching on the back of a six-game losing streak and will be looking to remedy that come Saturday. Last week they showed pure Animals spirit despite being down on the scoreboard by a significant amount and the expectation is that they will do the same on the weekend.

Last time they saw each other, UHS-VU ran away winners incredibly comfortably and since then have kept their perch at the top of the ladder, sitting at 8-1 after 9 games. It doesn’t look as good for the Animalettes who after their 2 wins early on in the season now sit 2-7. UHS-VU are coming off a significantly smaller win than a few they’ve already had against the Hampton Rovers, whilst the Animalettes are still nursing some wounds after a 91-0 loss to Oakleigh. Both teams will have something to prove on Saturday.

At the selection table, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team will once again be without a bench but they do have one debutant, even this late in the season. Starting back is Claire Anderson, Sam Bridgland and Brooke Chapman, with Shellby Lonie, Kayla Hetherington and Dee Burden at the half back line, providing support. On the wings, Soraya Jeanes makes her return on one side and Grace de Cesare the other. Cassy Dutton will start in the ruck, with Sam Hogarth, Shanelle Blachford, and Abbey Gray, who will don the blue and blue for the first time, at her feet. In the forward half of the ground, Ashleigh Morley, Sheridan Harris and Jess Evans will start at the half forward line, and Bridget Monaghan and Shannon Harris are to share the space deep.

Despite low numbers at training, Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team are still 100% committed and will look to prove their worth against a side making a strong push for the flag. Did UHS-VU have the home ground advantage last time they went into battle against the Animalettes? With 17 players named, will no bench once again inspire some belief and spirit? Get down to Bennettswood Reserve and find out. Stick around to watch the men take on Aquinas in must-win games! First bounce is at 9.20am.

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Key ins for Aquinas revenge quest

Key ins for Aquinas revenge quest

A slew of key inclusions for the Animals see them gear up for the the first big test of the second half of the season when Aquinas come to Bennettswood for the second of their meetings this year.

The Reserves see a new bench come in for the clash, return of ‘Tiny’ Coleman, Louis Fasolino, Will Haydon, and Oscar McVann.

Only Fasolino featured in the clash earlier this season, where the Animals went down by 10 points after trailing by 5 goals at quarter time.

In a low scoring affair in conditions similar to what is expected in the return clash, Aquinas stifled the Animals attacking flair and kept them to their lowest score of the season so far. However an in-form Tom Birkett and Lachlan Gunn up front will be looking to combine again to lift the Animals to victory.

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For the Seniors, the return of Co-Captian Harry Davis along with gun running mid Hugh Shaeche sees the Animals clamber back towards their best 22. Lawrence Virgo also makes his way back in after an extended period out, and will return in a familiar forward role.

The Animals will be looking to improve going forward, after a blunt showing last week at the Canterbury Sportsground, but will be coming up an Aquinas side sturdy in defence.

Aquinas were able to keep the Animals at arms length last time out, and Leo’s will be out to prove some doubters wrong and end a streak of 3 losses in 4 games.

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Ladies Luncheon gives Animals 20,000 reasons to smile

Ladies Luncheon gives Animals 20,000 reasons to smile

A move to the Bennettswood Pavilion proved to be a contributing factor into Emmaus St. Leo's raising over $20,000 in funding for Breast Cancer research with this year's instalment of the annual Ladies Luncheon.

Previous years have seen the event held away from Bennettswood in nearby venues, however this year event organisers Harry Davis and Joden Crothers pulled off a spectacular feat by being able to arrange and run the event in the new clubrooms, transforming them into a fantastic pavilion for the event to be held.

Club President Alex Maunder was extremely impressed with the relocation of the event, with plans to go even further in 2020.

"Having brought the Ladies Luncheon back to the rooms at Bennettswood Pavilion we are looking to consolidate this for next year. We have a better understanding of the capacity of the space, and you can be rest assured that we will be doing everything we possibly can to make next year the biggest and best year yet!"

The day was enjoyed by all who attended, seeing new local MP for Burwood Will Fowles appear at the club for the first time since coming on as a new supporter, as well as NBCF guest speaker Katherine Sroka.

Most importantly, $21,078 was raised, all of which will go directly to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to assist in their fight against Breast Cancer.

When asked about the result, President Maunder could not have been more elated with the outcome.

"I’m immensely proud of everyone involved from the club. Not just those organising, but everyone who reached out and asked someone to come along, or sent a message trying to find raffle prizes, or who shared the posts on our social media pages. It really does take a whole community to have an impact, and the Animals community have certainly risen to the challenge yet again, surpassing even our own expectations by cracking the $20K mark! I obviously have to thank Harry and Joden for all their amazing work in the planning process, but also the whole Davis family for making themselves available and continuing to drive the fundraising efforts."

Credit also goes out to our Men's opponent on the day, Manningham Cobras AFC, who were more than happy to help out with the fundraising efforts, which President Maunder was extremely gracious for.

"Our opposition on the day, Manningham, helped out by making their own donation, and their playing group also made a donation after the seniors’ match. We’d welcome all donations from anyone within the VAFA and encourage all clubs to make an effort to contribute beyond the walls of their own clubs."

On the field, it was a mixed day, with the Women falling gallantly to Oakleigh 32-13, the Reserves fought out a hard earned 106-81 victory, whilst the Seniors were downed in a old fashioned shootout 151-128

Rough morning shows Animals true grit

Rough morning shows Animals true grit

It wasn’t the greatest day for the Emmaus St Leo’s football club on Saturday when two of its three teams went down, but there were great moments everywhere with the men’s reserves team coming back from a deficit to draw their match with Canterbury. But the brightest moment of the day was arguably the fierce determination and spirit shown by the Animalettes who were down players before their match against Oakleigh had even started. Being without a bench against a team who had more than enough rotations meant that Emmaus St Leo’s women’s team had to find that extra gear and did, despite the scoreboard.

It could have been a game to forget for the Animalettes but they did their very best to make sure it wasn’t. The contests were hard all day, and the effort immense with no reward. Jess Dawson played her best game for the year and inadvertently for the club as she moved to full back and showed what she could do down there. Continuing her impressive form was Shellby Lonie whose presence was felt all over the ground. Trainer-turned-player Holly Pointon literally took one for the team, donning the blue and blue and some borrowed boots to boost the Animalettes’ numbers, and getting a few handy touches that no doubt did wonders for her confidence. Unfortunately, second-year player Amy Ronchi headed to the hospital after dislocating her shoulder and will be out for the rest of the season, decreasing the number of available players by one.

Oakleigh finished the game 14.7.91 to Emmaus St Leo’s 0.0.0 after consistently progressing their score over the four quarters. Despite being down by an insurmountable number on the scoreboard, the Animalettes’ ‘never say die’ attitude never died. Their second and third efforts were there until the very last second, and both coaches were incredibly proud, telling their charges as much during the debrief in the rooms after the final siren with Assistant Coach Brendan Ellwood lauding the determination, and frustrated with the fact that his team continues to consistently do what is asked of them with little to no reward.

With only 5 games left, the Animalettes continue to show that they are capable of anything despite their horror run with the scoreboard. Their dedication to each other and to the club is second to none. This week, they face a healthy challenge in ladder leaders UHS-VU at home at Bennettswood Reserve, kicking off another triple header with the men’s teams looking to get one over Aquinas.

Gunn's drawn in the two's, Seniors slip in the second half

Gunn's drawn in the two's, Seniors slip in the second half

Slow starts, sloppy second halves, and a comeback for the ages has seen the Animals have a Saturday that leaves more questions than answers ahead of the second half of the season.

The Reserves kicked things off by handing the Cobras a three goal lead before Tom Birkett continued his stellar form by dragging the Animals back in to the game with a brace of tight angle goals. Will Morris then kept the Animals within touch with his first goal since July 2017, marking a successful return to the Animals fold.

Canterbury had the lions share of the game in the second half, but the Animals were able to hold on with the Cobras wayward kicking seeing a 2.5 to 1.3 quarter.

The game was being won by the Cobras in the middle, which at one stage of the day may have contained grass, but halfway through what was the second game of the day it created a secondary challenge for all involved, one which the Cobras were able to conquer early.

But after a dressing down at half time, and the discovery of another skill in the ever-growing bag of tricks Joe Anker brings to every game, the Animals swung the momentum. Anker was swung into a tagging role of Canterbury’s best mid in Jordan Tomas. After stand in coach Jonathan Greensides delivered a speech that will be recounted for years to come, Anker locked down Tomas and drew the ire of the Cobras team. Distracted by the side battle, the Animals pounced and made it a two kick game heading into the final term.

The Cobras kicked clear again early in the fourth, but more inspirational play by Anker lifted his teammates and the Animals begun to surge. Slowly but surely Leo’s clawed their way back and with 4 minutes to go it was back to a two kick game.

Enter Josh Webb. Webb had been in and out of the contest throughout the day, but Webb chose the perfect time to unleash his booming left foot to split the sticks in what was his final input of the day from 55m out.

It was the time for the Animal to pull out the big guns, Lachlan Gunn to be exact. After already beating his direct opponent in the air earlier in the quarter, Gunn did it again in almost the exact same spot. Like his earlier kick, gun barrel straight, it was met with a roar from the Animals bench and supporters, and with only 40 seconds left on the clock saw the Animals claw their way back to split the points.

The Seniors were not as slow out of the blocks than their reserve counterparts, but were in a similar position after a quarter of football. Foxy Beluszar was dominant in the air early, with Brent Simons accruing early touches until he was felled in a sweeping movement that ended in an Animals goal.

The second term was the best half hour of football for the day by the Seniors, but were only able to convert 22 inside 50’s in to 3 goals, whilst holding Canterbury to 3 behinds. A backline still missing some key components was doing more than its fair share in shutting down a dangerous Cobra outfit. The brilliance of Paul Baranello was shining through, and he was willing the Animals along. Simons, Emerson Lemkau, and Alex Stokes were all chipping in and the Animal headed into the long break in control of the contest.

However the winds of change swept through after half time, and the Cobras struck often and with intent. A goalless term from the Animals left them reeling as they turned for home, and the rallying cry was put out there for the Animals to stand up and send a message to the Cobras and the rest of the league.

Canterbury were the ones who made their own statement however, and in the late winter sun that bathed the Canterbury Sportsground kicked 4 goals to run away with a 32 point win and leave the Animals searching for answers entering the second half of the season.

The reserves stay in 3rd on the table, now with the wildcard element of a draw to their points total, whilst the Seniors stay 4th but see their spot in the 4 still far from secure.

Animals look to charm Canterbury

Animals look to charm Canterbury

In a rare moment of symmetry, Emmaus (3-3 and 4-2) will travel to their closest rival in 2019 when they take on Canterbury (4-2 and 3-3).

Both clubs will be aiming to draw level and move away from each other on the table which is slowly taking shape, but does not have long left to reveal its final form, with both sides officially hitting the halfway mark of their campaigns.

The Reserves will look cement another week in 3rd when they take on Canterbury who sit one game behind the Animals, and will do so with the Divisions leading goalkicker in Tom Birkett.

Birkett’s 9 goal outing last time out against North Brunswick catapulted him to the top of the pile, and he will be looking to do the same, if not more damage, against a side that failed to inflict the same amount of defeat on the same opponent.

Will Morris makes his long awaited Animals return in the ruck, and will look to feed a star-studded middle for the Animals Twos featuring a returning Jason Schinck and Kieran Jenkins

Reserves team.png

The Senior Animals will be looking to peg back their closest rivals on the table when they travel the brief 15 minute ride to Canterbury Sportsground in a delayed start.

Co-Captain Harry Davis will miss the vital mid-season clash, but coach Ian Ledder is still able to name a strong line-up for the clash.

Sean Howard comes in for the middle Davis on the bench, in one of two changes for the Seniors after their 75 point demolition job of North Brunswick before the Queens Bye.

Vice-Captain Nathan Bird stays forward after kicking 7 goals in his last two games, whilst Brent Simons will start the game forward with him. It has been the Animals ability for their midfielders to rest forward and still heavily impact the game which has many still positive about what lays ahead for the second half of the year.

Alex Stokes will start in the ruck, with regular ruckman Kevin Moloney relieving him from the benches in what will undoubtedly be yet another consistently fantastic shift delivered by the man the call “Kev”.

A slight shuffle down back sees the other ruckman in Chook O’Connor starts at CHB for the Animals, with Joden Crothers moving closer to goal to assist Sam Argus and Ben Collins.

Seniors team.png

The Cobras are undefeated at home in 2019 in both divisions, with their Twos already eclipsing their total number of wins in 2018, whilst the seniors 4 wins in 5 guys has seen them leave an opening round drubbing the past.

Both games have slightly delayed start times