AFLW Round 6 – Adelaide v Melbourne: Oysters, Thunder and Heartburn
5.40 pm (ACST), Saturday, 11 March 2017
TIO Oval, Darwin
Anne Cahill Lambert
Ye gods and little fishes: it was bad enough that the apparent temperature in Darwin at the start of the game was 5,327 degrees centigrade*, but the humidity! Not to mention the intensity of the game, its closeness and the final result. Let’s break them down…
AFL is a winter sport in the rest of Australia, other than the practice matches, now called JLT games. Rarely do the stars come out to play in that category. Now, I’m all for games being played in Darwin, especially since a large contingent of the Crows are from there. But it’s just too hot before the sun goes down.
There was also the little problem of trying to finish before the thunderstorm. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, so too is there a thunderstorm on average once a day at this time of year in Darwin.
I know there are administrators who say that this is the only time of year that the AFLW can play, but it is really, really, really unfair on the players and also the supporters. We need to think more cleverly about these things and figure out how women can play a winter sport, well, umm, in winter.
Credit to both teams that they didn’t hover in the air conditioning and that they actually came out to play. One of the coach’s** pearlers at her presser on the Thursday addressed the weather: “I’ve never seen a player drown from sweat before, so I think we’re going to be ok.”
The excitement for Adelaide*** was, of course, that many of the women didn’t have to travel and they would have their families with them. It has surely been a challenge for the coaches to bring a group together who ordinarily reside about 3,000 km apart. No other team in the competition has faced this challenge, but the Crows have done it admirably. You can see that all the players regard one another as sisters, irrespective of their home base.
So it was a thrill that, yet again, Sally Riley kicked the first goal for the Crows. Chelsea Randall tackled like a woman possessed, and then there was *that* mark from Erin Phillips – one to rival the specky by Alex Jesaulenko in the 1970 VFL grand final!
For Melbourne, Daisy Pearce was in everything in the first quarter; well actually, all evening. She is a magnificent player in all facets of the game.
The Crows kept the Demons scoreless in the first quarter, but perhaps the Dees had adjusted to the heat by quarter 2. It took just 17 seconds for Deanna Berry to score truly for Melbourne. Randall and the Great Daisy both scored majors so that by half time we had a game on our hands. Just a goal in it. Melbourne seemed to be rotating their players more often than the Crows, but this is just a sense, rather than a fact, as I haven’t seen any of that data.
I ate my oysters mornay at half time in the nation’s cooler capital, washed down with a lovely chardonnay that I had bought in Rutherglen a few weeks ago.
It was Melbourne’s turn to keep the Crows scoreless in the third quarter and I started to become a little anxious. The Crows were in everything: the ball was in their 50, but they weren’t making the most of their early lead or their opportunities.
So to the last quarter. What’s that pain in your chest when you think you’re about to explode? Heartburn. Shouldn’t have eaten the oysters till the match was over. When Aliesha Newman kicked truly for Melbourne at the 10-minute mark I put the glasses down and took the heartburn tablet.
But wait. The Crows weren’t done – two goals in quick succession by Kellie Gibson and that fabulous embodiment of what the game is about – Sarah Perkins – gave us hope. Two points.
The thunder roared and so did the siren. That was it. Two points.
What went wrong for Adelaide? They won the inside 50s: 35-21. But the efficiency of their inside 50s was half as good as the Dees: 20% – 43%. And they met a team that was clearly eager to live up to its pre-competition name of being a real contender for the final.
I can’t say enough about Daisy Pearce. So I’ll just give her the votes. She made it happen for Melbourne and didn’t ever give up.
Adelaide is off to Melbourne this week to meet the Pies. Let’s hope the players can draw on another of the coach’s one-liners: “Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor and we’re on the dance floor.” Brilliant.
Adelaide 2.1 3.1 3.1 5.2 (32)
Melbourne 0.0 2.1 4.3 5.4 (34)
Adelaide Riley, Bevan, Randall, Gibson, Perkins
Melbourne Berry, Pearce, Mifsud, Scott, Newman
OUR VOTES Pearce 3, Paxman 2, Randall 1, Perkins ½ (for giving us hope)
UMPIRES Crosby, Raynor and Toner
*Ok, so maybe it was only 34 degrees, but the humidity made it extremely uncomfortable according to the coach’s mother.
**Making me the coach’s aunt (but favourite aunt).
***Yes, therefore, I’m probably a bit biased towards the Crows.