Round 4, GWS vs Adelaide
4.35pm 25 February
Blacktown International Sportspark, NSW
The last time I was in Sydney, Arsenal FC had beaten the Western Sydney Wanderers, Sydney had taken on GWS and Patrick Dangerfield had kicked five goals to give Geelong the 4-point win over Hawthorn, back in Melbourne.
I’d driven my family from Melbourne to Sydney, driving 110km/h, with my parents screaming ‘instructions’ from every which way.
The perils of a Learner Driver…
We stopped off in Canberra, just for my mum and brother, who enjoyed the War Memorial, Parliament House and the National Art Gallery.
But if you ask Dad what the highlight was, he would tell you about our 10-minute stop off at Spotless Stadium to ‘stretch our legs’.
We then arrived in Sydney, where our agenda was sport and sport only; from Arsenal’s showcase game to GWS’ derby against Sydney.
Back on this trip last July, the GWS men’s team had lost to Sydney by 13 points at the SCG, failing to step up when it mattered most.
However, today’s women’s game had to be different for the GWS Giants.
And while I decided not to take the 10-hour trip up to Blacktown, NSW, I was still fully invested in the GWS Giants and the journey people take for our nations game.
They’re taking on last year’s premiers, Adelaide, who are riding high after their 7-point win over the Bulldogs last week.
But the Giants are here to play, too, aiming to better their record of one win last season and to keep this season’s journey alive.
Contested footy is forecast today, with wet and slippery conditions ahead. It seems like winter has come early.
In form key forward Phoebe McWilliams is a key target today, after losing the goal-kicking lead to Brooke Lochland (7) from the Bulldogs on Friday night.
The game starts off slow, the players adjusting and settling in to the sluggish conditions.
Rebecca Beeson kicks the Giants first, but the team aren’t looking comfortable. Minutes later Courtney Cramey kicks truly for the Crows, tying the scores at seven points a-piece. By the end of the first quarter, the rain is belting down and I’m suddenly more grateful that I’ve stayed back home in Melbourne, choosing to reminisce instead.
Early in the second, Cora Staunton mimics a Steve Johnson snap, kicking the Giants second goal and her second of the season.
Adelaide are dominating around the ball, but the Giants are using the ball better in this soggy weather.
The Giants lead 16 to 8 in the shadows of halftime.
Meanwhile, my mind ticks back to my Sydney trip, the journey we took for sport, for the games that connect all kinds of people.
While my mum and brother had no interest in the soccer or the AFL on that trip (and still don’t have that curiosity), my Dad and I were completely captivated by these games.
Driving 10 hours to be a part of something we love, will never be a question for us and created one hell of a memorable journey.
I’m brought back to reality with the siren for the third quarter.
The Giants are trying to play a slingshot forward line, but the rain is holding them back.
Conditions are soccer-like, reminding me of Arsenal’s outstanding game last year. Not one goal is kicked in the third and the Giants lead by 9 points at the final break. Adelaide’s Ruth Wallace kicks a marvellous snap to kick-start the final term.
The crows are now only three points down.
Suddenly, after a few rushed behinds, the scores are level with 4 minutes to go.
Intensity is up and everyone is around the footy, pushing, attempting, trying anything to hit the scoreboard. The weather restricts movement and play ends in a draw, both sides deserving of the four points.
Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff dominated with an AFLW record 21 tackles.
The Giants are deflated after leading all day, but their journey must go on. Alicia Eva was the stand out, collecting 22 disposals and eight tackles. And if today’s game is about journey’s, Eva has already had a remarkable one.
From her high school days with East Malvern Knights FC, to playing AFL Women’s with Collingwood and now vice-captaining the GWS Giants, it’s fair to say that her journey has been full of change and opportunity.
Alongside her GWS teammates, they too can continue their positive AFLW journey in 2018.
And as for me and my family, next time we should probably take a plane.
GWS 1.1 2.4 2.6 2.7 (19)
Adelaide 1.1 1.2 1.3 2.7 (19)
GWS: C. Staunton, R. Beeson
Adelaide: R. Wallace, C. Cramery
VOTES: Alicia Eva (GWS) 3, Angela Foley (Adelaide) 2, Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) 1