VFL Women’s Round 1 – Melbourne University v Darebin

Melbourne University vs. Darebin Falcons

Bill Lawry Oval – Northcote; Saturday 6th May 2pm

Gabriella Pound spoiling Darcy Vescio’s mark








Ever since I watched the final Exhibition game last year, I’ve been hooked on women’s football. In awe of what I was seeing, I never knew women’s football to be at that level. I needed to know more. Who was who and where did they come from? I stumbled onto the WVFL. Though it saddened me to realise that it was near the end of their season, I rushed in the next weekend to watch the Preliminary Final between the St Kilda Sharks and Melbourne University. Unsure of who I would support, I found myself cheering for Melbourne as the game went on.

I knew I had to somehow get to the Grand Final the following week, if only for one more chance to see women’s football before the year closed out. I met my brother out at Coburg Oval that Saturday. I was excited to see Daisy Pearce, the player everyone spoke of as one of the best. Darebin came into the game undefeated all season and rightfully went on to claim the title. While Darebin looked to be in control the entire game, their classy football rising to the fore, Melbourne University fought hard and were never out of the game, especially on the scoreboard. I left that game knowing I had found something special. Fortunately, I had AFLW to focus on for the foreseeable future. Yet I have found myself equally excited for the return of VFL football.

So here we are: round one of the VFL Women’s. Fittingly, it is a Grand Final rematch between Melbourne University and Darebin that will kick things off. Intriguingly, it is also the homecoming of numerous AFLW players.

Looking at the teams going into the game, Darebin seemed to have noticeable omission such as Daisy Pearce, Hickey and O’Connor while Melbourne University had most of their AFLW players named. It definitely looked more of a stacked deck towards University.  It was always going to be interesting to see how much sides had transformed in the wake of AFLW, and its continued influence on teams over the course of the VFL season, especially if girls needed to sit out a game or two.

I was looking forward to watching Brennan, finally back from the injuries that cut her AFLW season short. I was excited to watch Stevens in the backline, who has become my favourite AFLW player to watch. I wanted to see both teams’ dominant midfield duos face off, in Kearney and Blackburn, and Paxman and O’Dea. Finally, I was eager just to see Vescio ‘do her thing’.

As I rushed to get to the ground in time for the first bounce, it started to rain. With no umbrella, I followed most supporters and fans and crammed into the lone concrete grandstand overlooking the field. As with any wet and windy conditions, the play begun very congested and messy. Neither team was getting clean or meaningful possession.

The first ten minutes the ball seemed to spend more time in University’s half, while turning around to Darebin’s forward half for the rest of the quarter. Players went in hard for possessions early but as they sent them forward into the fifty, both defences did well to get the ball and send it back out. You could see the poise and skills in some of the AFLW players. Brennan stayed calm and collected the few times she got the ball. She knew how to make space for herself.


Lauren Pearce gets the handball off with pressure from Emma Kearney


The few sections of clean football got derailed after the ball passed through a few hands, and the rare times players delivered a clean ball into the fifty, it wasn’t converted. A nice kick by Keryk straight into the arms of Shierlaw was fruitless as the shot on goal went out of bounds on the full. Minutes later, a similar play occurred up the other end of the ground, when Vescio weaved around opposition to shoot a quick kick off to a teammate on the side of the goal square. A tricky angle and a snap kick meant the ball flew out of bounds across the other side of goal.

Reminiscent of the first quarter, Vescio marked on the wing later in the game. She went to kick the ball downfield, but badly sprayed her kick as it sailed out of bounds on the full. A collective ‘oooohhh’ rang from the crowd. Nobody was immune from poor skill execution today.

As the second quarter begun the rain eased, so I left the confines of the grandstand and took position on the boundary. The play opened up as players started to find more space. Blackburn snapped a goal seven minutes in, the first major of the game. This opened the floodgates as Anderson followed suit minutes later. Keryk soon made it three in a row for University, kicking another, all before half way through the quarter. The rest of the quarter reverted to tough competitive football as both teams tried hard to win possession.

As the players came back out for the second half, University was clearly in control on the scoreboard. Darebin had to lift, and that they did, responding as Vescio kicked a goal within half a minute of the first centre bounce. But that was their only goal for the rest of the game, and they only added three more points to their total that quarter.

The rest of the quarter returned to tight contests, neither team scoring any majors. I found Ashmore, back in her long sleeve jumper, significant out on the wing, her run and attack finding her a bit of the ball.

Kaitlyn Ashmore with the kick on the wing.

Melbourne University took it out of the reach for Darebin with three final quarter shots at goal by Lochland, Kearney and Eva, converting all three to secure the game.

A few injury worries occurred during the game. Late in the first quarter, a Darebin player was taken off on a back board. She made her way on and off the ground on crutches and an iced knee later in the day. Stevens for University came off late in the third for some work, and sat out the rest of game, perhaps precautionary.

The game was a tight and hard contest for most of the game, but it was Melbourne University who rose to the top, capitalising on two goal sprees in the second and fourth quarter to bring it home for the MUGARS.

It was always going to be a tough game for last year’s grand finalists to face one another first up. It provided some vindication for Melbourne University for their grand final loss last year, but perhaps indicated that this season may be wide open. It makes for a very interesting season ahead.


Melbourne University      0.0      3.1       3.1     6.4 (40)

Darebin                               0.0      0.1       1.4     1.4 (10)




Melbourne University: Anderson, Blackburn, Eva, Kearney, Keryk, Lochland

Darebin: Vescio




About Meg Saultry

Studying at University of Melbourne. Keen supporter of the Saints (I'm not looking forward to the day Riewoldt retires), and Womens AFL.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Wonderful report. I listened to tough game between Eastern Devils and St Kilda Sharks and Sharks sly ole game in last minute. Poor conditions weather wise and tough game. Thanks for the game report. Keep them coming and put yourself forward as a writer for Women’s Footy Almanac 2018! Reply by email to this and I will put you on the list.

  2. John Butler says

    Great stuff Meg.

    Big result for the Uni.

    The after effects of the AFLW season will be well worth following.

    Darcy’s a gun.


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