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VFLW: Neaves relishing defence

Bec Neaves has proven to be a vitally reliable defender for the Bombers this season.
Bec Neaves has proven to be a vitally reliable defender for the Bombers this season.

Bec Neaves was just shy of turning 21 when she came to Essendon. In her senior career at former VFL Women’s club the St Kilda Sharks and the inaugural Western Bulldogs’ AFL Women’s list in 2016, she had played predominantly as a winger who could pinch-hit as a forward.

Yet in her time at The Hangar, she has not only redefined herself as a defender but carved out a key place in the Bomber backline.

“As we’ve gone on, everyone’s feeling more comfortable,” Neaves said as she reflected on the growth of the defence.

“We’re quite a selfless group, so we really work together well. We talked about how we can help each other.

“I think that really helped us develop as a group, and then we work to improve us as individuals.”

Neaves’ aggressive attack on the ball, sure hands and consistency have proved valuable assets in the backline.

In a side that has often found itself under pressure from more experienced opponents, a preparedness to address flaws and maintain composure while developing has been a must.

Neaves says that such collective commitment was the genesis of Essendon’s breakthrough win over Richmond in round nine.

 “It was up to us to not let them get forward, it didn’t matter how may touches you got,” she said of a final quarter in which Richmond didn’t kick a goal despite dominating forward entry.

“It was all about us stopping it. We all got around each other, we knew we had a job to do and it just clicked and really worked for us.”

After going down to the Western Bulldogs by a straight kick, Essendon comes up against two-time reigning VFLW premiers the Darebin Falcons in round 11.

“It would be a massive achievement,” she declared of the proposition of beating the Falcons.

“I’ve never beaten Darebin, last time I played them was at the St Kilda Sharks – we lost to them in the prelim by a goal and that was the closest we’d ever come.

“Now that we’ve got that win we really want to keep pushing. Everyone’s willing to take it on and use their strengths so I definitely think coming into this weekend that everyone has that belief that we can win.”

Essendon will play Darebin this Saturday from 12pm at Bill Lawry Oval.