The VFLW Tigers have defeated the Darebin Falcons by 35 points in the opening round of the VFLW season at the Swinburne Centre on Saturday afternoon.
The team’s 12.7 (79) to 7.2 (44) victory capped a stellar debut for 12 fresh players.
The final score was also a drastic improvement from the two teams’ previous meeting in the 2018 season, where the Tigers were held goalless and lost by 39 points.
VFLW Tigers coach Tom Hunter said although more than half the team was officially taking to the field in the Yellow and Black for the first time, they were ready.
“I just felt our girls were really prepared going into the game, and knew what we wanted to do," Hunter told Roar Vision post-game.
Among the debutantes was Tayla Stahl-Smith, who booted six goals for the team.
Picture: Tayla Stahl-Smith
Stahl-Smith supported the team across the ground throughout the match and helped to set up multiple other goals, including one for Emily Paterno from the forward pocket in the first quarter.
Hunter said Stahl-Smith had been working hard at her fitness since joining the team over the pre-season.
“She took a really big step forward today, on the back of the work that our midfield are doing and allowing her to be free on the forward line as well.”
Midfielder Jessica Kennedy, who continues in her role as captain for the 2019 season, collected 11 disposals, three inside 50s and three tackles.
Pictured: Skipper Jessica Kennedy and Emily Paterno
Newcomer Millie Klingbeil (one goal, 10 disposals) also played an important role in connecting the midfield and forwardlines.
During the third quarter, Klingbeil went for a run and made a crucial pass to full-forward Courtney Wakefield, resulting in a nice team goal.
Pictured: Millie Klingbeil
Another debutant Hannah Ibrahim (team-high 16 disposals, eight tackles, one goal) and 18-year-old midfielder Grace Egan (15 disposals) also had big days on-field.
Pictured: Hannah Ibrahim with Tayla Stahl-Smith
The Tigers kept their defensive line solid before half-time, but struggled to clear the ball from full-back at times as the game wore on.
Darebin’s determination earned them four goals in the final quarter as they made a bid for a comeback win, but the Tigers eventually prevailed.
Hunter said the team will work on that late-game momentum in training in the weeks to come.
“We’ll take a lot of learnings out of this game, particularly late in quarters [and] staying engaged in the game, and that’s just going to make us a lot better,” he said.
Richmond will face the GWS AFLW side in a practice match next weekend, before resuming their VFLW campaign at the Swinburne Centre on May 25 against Essendon in the first of a Dreamtime triple-header.