Essendon VFLW’s winning streak has come to an end with a two-point loss to the Southern Saints at Windy Hill on Saturday.
Despite largely leading the way for three quarters, the Bombers fell devastatingly short, with the Saints slotting three consecutive goals to snatch the 7.2 (44) to 7.4 (46) victory.
Essendon was off to a hot start in the first, controlling the inside 50s early on as it looked to assert its dominance.
Making the most of their opportunities up front, the Bombers snuck away to a two-goal lead early in the game, sparked by majors to Alex Quigley and Maddy Collier.
Alex Quigley celebrates one of her two goals. (Photo: AFL Photos)
Essendon’s back six, led by Kendra Heil, worked to effectively transition from defence into attack as the visitors struggled to gain momentum.
A chain of running play from Marianna Anthony and Eloise Ashley-Cooper helped Quigley find the goals for the second time, before a Monique DeMatteo major saw the Bombers take a 21-point lead into the first break.
Essendon moved the ball quickly in the second, with its forward pressure around the contest leading to a higher set-shot advantage.
A clever snap to Lori Stepnell gave the Dons the ascendancy early in the quarter, while the midfielders benefited from the added intensity.
Debutant Alana Barba gets a kick away. (Photo: AFL Photos)
The Saints, however, were able to work themselves back into the contest with a run of three unanswered goals to make it an eight-point ball game at the main break.
Essendon came out firing in the third, setting up Jessica Stassi with a shot from 40m out to convert her first.
With patches of rain, the slippery conditions added some difficulties, but a goal to the Saints brought the game right back.
Strong forward-half pressure by the likes of Shae Audley, Ruby Svarc and Federica Frew helped the Bombers find their composure against a relentless Saints outfit.
A second goal to Stassi saw the Dons maintain composure, heading into the final term with a 13-point buffer.
The Saints, lifting in the front half of the final quarter, managed to boot three unanswered goals to cut the Bombers' lead.
Essendon had its own chances to score but wasted a number of opportunities in front of goal.
The Dons defended gamely under siege as the game came to a close, but Olivia Vesely scored in the final minutes of the game to give the Saints the final lead.
Senior coach Brendan Major said he was proud of the team’s effort coming up against a top-two side.
"To play a game like that, against a team like the Saints, and not come away with the four points does hurt, but there many positives,” he said.
“Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve played good team football, but that’s the best the team has played.
“The first half was easily the best footy we’ve played."
Major also touched on the three-goal-to-zero final term.
“We just got our stoppage structure wrong for five minutes and that’s enough time for a good side like that.
“They scored three goals and then we just couldn’t wrestle back to get a goal on the scoreboard."
Major noted there was plenty of belief among the group, as it prepares to face the Bulldogs next weekend.
“We’ve played some pretty average footy at times, so it’s easy for them to get distracted and not believe that they can be this good as a team."
“I’ve had a lot of belief in this group since the start of the year, it’s actually building belief in the group."
Essendon VFLW will take on the Western Bulldogs at Victoria University Whitten Oval from 4pm on Saturday, August 10.
Essendon 4.0 5.0 7.1 7.2 (44)
Southern Saints 0.3 3.4 4.4 7.4 (46)
Essendon – Quigley 2, Stassi 2, Collier, DeMatteo, Stepnell
Southern Saints – Shierlaw 3, Bohanna, Greiser, Mackie, Vesely
Victoria Raptis is in the final year of her Bachelor of Communications (Journalism) degree at RMIT University. As part of their strategic partnership, Essendon Football Club and RMIT University are committed to providing opportunities for students, staff, players and the wider community.