Port Melbourne has ended its 2022 campaign on a high-note, following a heart-stopping two-point win over the Darebin Falcons.
On an historic Saturday night for the Club, ETU Stadium’s new lighting project was unveiled above a pulsating match, which ended 3.6 (24) to 3.4 (22).
Claire Dyett was electric with a match-high 28 disposals and seven marks, while Kaitlyn O’Keefe only needed one tackle to take her season tally to an astonishing 100 (averaging 7.1 per game). O’Keefe finished with 21 disposals and seven clearances.
Nayely Borg and Akayla Peterson both netted 17 disposals, as silky left-footer Jorja Livingstone enjoyed her highest disposal tally of her short career so far with 16, 12 of which being kicks. Fellow youngsters Maddy Gray, and Cassidy Mailer equally impressed with 14 disposals apiece.
The intense contest was a tale of two opposing game plans. Port Melbourne’s chaotic forward pressure matched up perfectly with the Falcon’s composed possession-based game style.
The Borough were eager to end their season on a high, and their tackling pressure backed this up. As they had in previous weeks, Port started strongly, as Hannah Fosbrooke was rewarded with her first goal of the season. Fosbrooke was feverish in her pursuit of her opponents, ending the game with a match-high six tackles.
However, Darebin began to control possession in their back half, calmly working the ball up the field for Katelyn Hazlett to kick the Falcon’s first. The quarter-time scoreline reflected the even matchup so far, with Port taking a one-point lead into the first change.
Port Melbourne began to overwhelm the Falcons once the match resumed, with Kate Dudley (21 hitouts) providing her midfielders with first use of the footy. Kaitlyn O’Keefe was rewarded with a goal as the Borough’s defensive generals, Lisa Davie and Olivia Barton, kept the Falcons goalless.
As the new light towers engulfed ETU Stadium in glorious light, Borough fans were graced with a tactical change which paid immediate dividends. Defender Olivia Barton assumed her position at full-forward, with the smart-witted Barton presenting a damaging threat in the air. Barton converted the only goal of the quarter, and the only goal of her season, helping Port to a valuable 13-point lead at the final change.
The final quarter was proving to be an arm-wrestle, with neither side bothering the scoreboard until the stanza was halfway completed. A two-and-a-half goal lead with five minutes to go seemed a tall order for the Falcons, however Mikayla Meyer proved otherwise, cutting the deficit to eight points. This was all the motivation Darebin needed, as the Falcons dominated uncontested possession. Borough fans’ collective heart rates rose once more as Nicole Callinan reduced the margin to two points with two minutes remaining.
The Borough’s defensive unit stood tall in the final two minutes, working the ball up towards the wing when needed, where Bella Stutt and Kate Adams expertly ran down the clock. To the relief of the home fans, the siren sounded on a gripping contest, as jubilation and celebration took over.
The Borough won't be playing finals this season after finishing in 10th place on the ladder. But as the siren sounds on a testing yet productive season 2022, we can only be encouraged by the depth of talent and development within our VFLW program and be excited for the future ahead.
Port Melbourne 3.6.24 def Darebin 3.4.22