It was yet more despair for the Animals Women’s side against Prahran as the Two Blues notched up yet another win to condemn the Animalettes to a fourth straight heading into the midway point of the season.
In what was built to be a defensive slog, Prahran showed an attacking potency not seen by them in games gone by to run out to an early 2 goal lead as they kicked with a stiff breeze in their backs. The Animals then repelled gallantly until a mix up as to when the finish of the quarter occurred allowed Prahran to tack an extra tally at the end and lead by 4 kicks.
The second quarter was a lesson in football the Animalettes will not soon forget, as Prahran blew the game wide apart with superior attack on the ball and execution of a midfield wall that was second to none. Leo’s were left trying to catch a breath in the mere seconds between repeated forward 50 entries which, if not for the heroics of Claire Anderson, may have seen the damage been much worse.
Instead Anderson was a woman on a mission to try and keep the Animals any sort of hope in the second half. Missing her partners in crime Sammy Bridgland and Kayla Heatherington, it was left to Claire to shut down as many of Prahran’s key threats as possible.
And if the game wasn’t bad enough, Men’s ruckman Tom “Tiny” Coleman provided the ultimate blow on the day, proceeding to drop the half time lolly container. The fumble saw its contents sprawl across the Basil St Reserve floor and summed up the half, and day. It’s a job he will be none too quick to be tasked with again.
In the second half, Anderson got some help, with Captain Sally Hood dropping back from her more preferred forward position and Jess Evans slotting in from the wing. Hood and Evans joined Anderson to build a wall of there own and in what was a mission of damage limitation, the trio played spectacularly.
Assistant Coach Brendan Ellwood was in high praise of the move, and the effort that was shown in rectifying the first half problems.
“Sally and Moo were still fairly fresh after minimal action in the forward line in the first half. Throwing them back to get more involved opened the opportunity for some of the midfueld rotation to get some more rest up forward on a day when we were short on numbers. Both girls are on-fields generals in their way, using their voice and understanding of the game to bolster and coordinate those around them, and both have an exceptional ability and understanding of where to position themselves to rebound the footy. We've seen jess do it in a wing or half forward role so to see her excel in a similar job down back opens some options for us.”
Maddy Hogan and Bridget Monaghan also toiled away in the ruck against an opponent who whilst may have outsized them, was constantly outdone in the contest by the pair. Hogan then lifted her workrate, and managed to limit the re-entries of Prahran by shutting down her direct opponent in a performance which was noticed by those on the sidelines.
“Snook has sneaky good games. You'll get toward half time and suddenly go "jeez, she's been good today". Competes well against bigger rucks, but the most impressive bit is her willingness to impact the contest at ground level too. She's laid some ripping tackles this year, applies pressure and is often seen picking herself up out of a pack after forcing a ball up, which she is then going to ruck for. The longer she can run that role in a game, the more bridget is able to sit forward and clunk marks.”
The Animals finished the third on the attack, and took that buoyancy into the final term as well. However this was a Prahran team playing with confidence, and were beginning to find ways into the rejigged Animals backline as fatigue set in. Despite the lack of ability to rest, that didn’t stop the Women from putting in an effort that gave hope for the second half of the season, with Ellwood emphatic in his desires for the rest of the year.
“For the second year we feel.like our record doesnt totally reflect our team ability or performance. We know with a full squad available and playing to our ability we can take it to anyone. Ultimately from here what we are looking for is consistency in terms of the effort each week.”