VFLW Game Day VFLW 2021 Season - Preliminary Final loss to Geelong

R1: Defeated by the Southern Saints
  • Lore

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    It got a write up at least.
    Bombers beaten in VFLW season opener
    Essendon VFLW has suffered an 18-point defeat to the Southern Saints in its season opener and first official game at the NEC Hangar.

    The Bombers fought back in the second half after a slow start, but couldn’t overturn a 30-point half-time deficit in the 4.5 (29) to 7.5 (47) loss.

    After no football since the 2019 season, excitement and intensity levels were high throughout the first quarter, with the Saints having to fight hard to score the first major for the day.

    The Bombers, led by new captain Georgia Nanscawen and vice-captain Courtney Ugle, challenged the Saints across the ground but struggled to capitalise in front of goals.

    The Saints came out firing after the first break, kicking a quick four unanswered goals to leave the Bombers goalless at the main break.

    Cecilia McIntosh was vital throughout the first half, throwing herself into contests and applying much needed pressure on the Saints.


    Cecilia McIntosh did her best to fire up the Bombers. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    After a stirring half-time address from coach Brendan Major, the Bombers ran out with a change of mindset and were lively early.

    They hit the board quickly with forward Alex Quigley scoring two majors within minutes of one another.

    The team maintained consistent intensity and pressure throughout the third term to keep the Saints scoreless, with Alex Morcom strong across the backline and Kendra Heil supporting Nanscawen in midfield.

    A fourth-quarter position change from midfield to forward for Alana Barba resulted in the Bombers’ third goal of the day, with McIntosh hitting the scoreboard shortly after.


    Alana Barba (middle) celebrates her fourth-quarter goal. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    But the Saints quickly replied with two late final-quarter goals to seal the 18-point win.

    Nanscawen was disappointed in her side’s first half, but said there were plenty of positives to come out of the game.

    “It’s disappointing to not get off to a great start. Throughout the first half, we were really on the back foot, and as a result we dropped our heads a bit too much,” Nanscawen said.

    “In the second half, we were a lot more proactive and played the game on our terms a bit more. There certainly were lots of encouraging signs, but we need to tidy up that (attitude) as it wasn’t a great course to drop our heads, so we need to be better with that.”

    Nanscawen attributed the strong second half to a change in attitude and the increase of pressure applied to the Saints.

    “In the second half, we had the confidence that we could play our game and we were a lot more proactive, particularly around the stoppages,” she said.

    “In the first half, we didn’t man up very well, so we really tidied that up and played the game more on our terms.”

    Nanscawen said she was “incredibly excited” to see the future of women’s football after the NEC Hangar hosted its first VFLW game today, with the players using their new facilities for the first time.

    “We are very lucky to have these facilities and we can feel very proud that when people come here that they can marvel at what we have. I certainly feel very proud to be a part of a historic day to play the first official match here," she said.

    “I can’t wait to hopefully sing the song here in not too long a time."

    The VFLW Bombers will now look forward to round two against Casey Demons at Casey Fields at 10am on Saturday, March 6.

    Essendon 0.2 0.4 2.4 4.5 (29)
    Southern Saints 1.2 5.4 5.4 7.5 (47)

    Goals: Quigley 2, Barba, McIntosh

    Best: Ugle, McIntosh, Frew, Barba, Heil, Morcom

    R2: 9 point win over Casey Demons
  • Lore

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    VFLW Bombers claim first win of 2021
    Essendon has claimed its first win of the 2021 VFLW season with a nine-point victory over the Casey Demons on Saturday.

    In still conditions at Casey Fields, the Bombers held off a fast-finishing Casey to record the 4.7 (31) to 3.4 (22) win.

    The Bombers applied the pressure early with Cecilia McIntosh laying strong tackles on her Casey opponents.

    Consistent scoreboard pressure put the Demons’ backline under the pump, with the Bombers having five shots at goals in the first quarter but only managing to convert one through Felicity Theodore.

    The Demons finally hit the scoreboard early in the second quarter, only for the Bombers to quickly answer with a goal from Alana Barba.

    Ruck duo Lori Stepnell and Eleanor Cornish combined to combat the height of their opponents, while Eloise Gardner was strong in defence, cutting off repeat forward entry attempts.

    Both teams came out firing after half-time with Casey hitting the scoreboard within the opening minutes. After some back and forth, the Bombers were finally able to break the pressure of the Demons with an on-the-run goal from Federica Frew.

    Emotions were high in the final term as the contest tightened up, with the Demons scoring early in the quarter to get within three points.

    Mia-Rae Clifford steadied the Bombers, taking a strong contested mark directly in front of goal and converting with ease.

    Alex Morcom felt the consequences of a heavy tackle in the second quarter but managed to play through the pain to be named best on the ground.

    Grace Dicker and Tamsin Crook were also impressive in their debuts.

    Head coach Brendan Major attributed the win to his side’s ability to remain accountable and focused after a disappointing round one loss to the Southern Saints.

    “I think our players were really accountable. They took it on themselves to make sure that we didn't just let players run through, so that was fantastic to see,” Major said.

    “We respected the opposition, we closed that space down, we made sure that we didn't give them too much space. I think that as a group, we're jelling a little bit better together, so we're getting it, we're understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each player. That always takes time, you can't replace experience.”

    The experienced McIntosh impressed Major with her professionalism and leadership, while Barba continued to impress in her new role as a forward.

    “From week one, Cecilia McIntosh showed the professional that she is, and she did it again today,” Major said.

    “Alana Barba, who's being put into a forward position because of how dangerous she was in the first week, I thought she was really dangerous again.”

    Looking towards round three, Major said as the team was inexperienced, the focus would be on reinforcing their own individual style and continuing to develop as a team.

    “We always bring it back to the things that we're trying to work on - that's core to us and our way. We're just trying to reinforce our style. So we don't reinvent the wheel, we don't change much from week to week,” he said.

    “We're a developing group and we've only played two games and we've got a lot of developing to do.”

    The VFLW Bombers will return home to the NEC Hangar in round three to take on Hawthorn at 11am on Saturday, March 13.

    Casey 0.0 1.4 2.4 3.4 (22)
    Essendon 1.4 2.4 3.7 4.7 (31)

    Goals: Theodore, Barba, Frew, Clifford

    Best: Morcom, Davies, Stepnell, Mackay, Crook, McIntosh
    R3: Thrashed the Box Hill Hawks by 28
  • Lore

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    Essendon has recorded back-to-back VFLW wins and its first at the NEC Hangar with a 28-point victory over Hawthorn on Saturday.

    In humid conditions, the Bombers had a strong first half to set themselves up for an 8.7 (55) to 3.9 (27) win against the Hawks.

    The Hawks hit the board in the early minutes of the game with the Bombers quickly replying with goals from Federica Frew and Mia-Rae Clifford.

    The Bombers didn’t give their opponents any space in the second quarter, with the pressure resulting in four unanswered goals including two majors from Natalie MacDonald.

    Debutant Elizabeth Snell, who came up from the Bendigo Pioneers’ under-18 side, showed her skills through midfield, providing solid support for Courtney Ugle and Georgia Nanscawen.

    After heading into the main break with a 31-point lead, the Bombers extended their lead with an early third-quarter goal from Frew.

    The Hawks lifted their intensity, however, locking the ball in their half for the majority of the third term, but were unable to capitalise against an Alex Morcom-led Bomber backline.

    The Hawks dominated the play throughout the final term, managing to hit the scoreboard for multiple majors for the time since the opening quarter.

    Midway through the fourth quarter, Clifford was rewarded a free kick directly in front of goal, converting her third major to seal the win for Essendon.

    Leadership group member Eloise Ashley-Cooper saw today’s game as a “stepping stone for the future”, with many younger team members stepping up.

    “It was really a team effort. I think everyone played their role, but in particular Tamsin (Crook) was awesome down back and Snell (Elizabeth Snell) was phenomenal coming in for her first game,” Ashley-Cooper said.

    “We’ve been working towards our vision for a very long time, and I think we implemented some of the things we have been working on at training.”

    As the team is young and continues to develop, Ashley-Cooper said the Bombers’ focus for the match was to continue establishing their own style of play and consistently implementing it.

    “Today we just wanted to play a brand of footy that we are proud of,” she said.

    “We have been working towards a vision for a very long time and I think we just wanted to implement what we have been working on at training.”

    The 20-year-old felt the team was a lot more composed with the ball, but could see areas for improvement heading into the round four clash with Darebin.

    “I think we just stuck to our structures more and were more composed with the ball. We had clear intentions and played a selfless game of footy,” Ashley-Cooper said.

    “There were some times we didn’t achieve or play as we wanted but I think that is all in the learnings.”

    The Bombers will hope to carry the momentum from their back-to-back wins into their round four clash against Darebin next Sunday from 10:30 am at the NEC Hangar.

    Essendon 2.3 6.5 7.6 8.7 (55)
    Hawthorn 1.1 1.4 1.7 3.9 (27)

    Goals: Clifford 3, MacDonald 2, Frew 2, Theodore

    Best: MacDonald, Ashley-Cooper, Snell, Morcom, Clifford, Barba
    R4: Gave Darebin a 67 point thrashing
  • Lore

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    Some ripper photos to go with the write up as well.

    VFLW Bombers claim third straight win


    A best-on-ground performance from captain Georgia Nanscawen has set up the Bombers for their third straight VFLW win in a 67-point victory over Darebin at the NEC Hangar on Sunday.

    The Bombers adapted to the slippery conditions to keep Darebin goalless and claim a 10.10 (70) to 0.3 (3) triumph, moving into fourth position after round four.

    Nanscawen led from the front with her clean possessions and tough tackles through the midfield, combining with second-gamer Grace Dicker to repeatedly drive the ball forward.

    Mia-Rae Clifford was creative with her ball work to set up Felicity Theodore for the first major of the day, with Marianna Anthony and Alana Barba hitting the scoreboard shortly after.


    Marianna Anthony flies for a grab. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    The Bombers didn’t give their opponents any space in the second quarter and continued to extend their lead, with Dicker scoring her first goal as a Bomber. Theodore converted for her second, while Clifford and Natalie MacDonald followed soon after.

    Following an early third-quarter goal from Jessie Davies, the Bombers’ pressure dropped off and allowed Darebin to come into the game, but Alex Morcom continued her consistent form to ensure the opposition didn’t capitalise.

    In the final term, Anthony put her body on the line to lock the ball in the Bombers’ forward fifty and Barba was able to change the momentum with her second goal.

    MacDonald was lively in the forward line, converting for her second major and finalising a 67-point winning margin.


    Natalie MacDonald continued her impressive form on Sunday. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Coach Brendan Major was impressed with his side’s win over Darebin, especially with Dicker’s performance and Nanscawen’s leadership.

    “Grace Dicker, for a second game, played really well and I think our half-backs were playing well but Georgia killed it today,” Major said.

    “She got a lot of the ball, structured up well, communicated, her defensive work rate was fantastic, so she was really good.”

    At half-time the Bombers led by 47 points, with Major reminding his team of the need to focus on playing its style of footy, rather than focusing on the scoreboard.

    “When we’re losing games, I talk to the playing group about not worrying about the scoreboard. That doesn’t change when we are winning. For us it’s about building what we’re trying to do and building the type of footy we want to play,” Major said.

    “It’s great to get points and it’s great to be up but it’s more important for me how we’re playing.”

    The Bombers will now turn their focus to next week’s game against league leader Port Melbourne, which Major sees as an opportunity to test his side’s structures against strong opposition.

    “We’ve got a really tough side next week so we’re going to play Port Melbourne, they’re top of the table,” Major said.

    “It’s a really good opportunity for us try out our systems while we’re playing a really, really strong opposition, so it’s going to be a big week for us.”

    The VFLW Bombers will host Port Melbourne at the NEC Hangar in round five from 10:30am on Sunday.

    ESSENDON 3.3 7.5 8.6 10.10 (70)
    DAREBIN 0.0 0.0 0.3 0.3 (3)

    GOALS: Theodore 2, Barba 2, MacDonald 2, Anthony, Clifford, Dicker, Davies

    Best: Nanscawen, Anthony, Dicker, MacDonald, Barba, Morcom
    R5: 11pt loss to Port Melbourne
  • Lore

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    VFLW Bombers fall to league leaders
    Essendon VFLW’s three-game winning streak has come to an end in an 11-point loss to the undefeated Port Melbourne on Sunday.

    The Bombers fought hard all day but the pressure from the league leaders proved too much, with the Boroughs winning 6.2 (38) to 4.3 (27) at the NEC Hangar.

    The intensity was high from the first bounce with both teams fighting hard at contests.

    Georgia Nanscawen and Eloise Ashley-Cooper competed in midfield to lock the ball in the Bombers’ attacking half and create multiple forward entries.

    The Bombers were first to hit the board, with Federica Frew converting on the run. The Boroughs answered with consecutive goals, changing the momentum and establishing control over the opening term.

    Both teams were locked in a tough contest throughout the second quarter, with neither team giving their opposition any space.

    Alex Morcom and Eloise Gardner stood strong, taking contested marks and cutting off the opposition’s forward entries, while Emma Mackay provided great run along the wing.

    Port Melbourne broke free from the pressure of Essendon to score two quick goals and take a three-goal lead into the main break.

    Defenders from both sides were working overtime in the third quarter as the ball went back and forth. Alana Barba fought with intent through the midfield, snapping a goal from a forward contest to break the deadlock.

    The Bombers kept Port Melbourne goalless in the last term and managed to reduce the deficit through a major from Felicity Theodore.

    Vice-captain Courtney Ugle was impressed with the Bombers’ intent across the four quarters, but disappointed in their inability to maintain the high-intensity game played by the Boroughs.

    “We knew they were going to come out hard at the ball and against us. We knew that they were bigger body quality side, obviously haven’t lost a game this season so far so we knew the fight was going to be brought,” Ugle said.

    “We probably owned the first five minutes of every quarter, but then they kind of ran on top of us. I think we kind of broke down on the field and we looked a little bit tired, but our thought and endeavour and intent couldn’t be questioned.”

    Despite the defeat, Ugle was impressed with the individual performances of Barba, Mackay and Gardner.


    Eloise Gardner was a standout against Port Melbourne. (Photo: Celie Hay)
    “Alana Barba was exceptional. You can see the way when she doesn’t have any pressure on herself, she just glides and uses the ball really well. I thought that Emma Mackay was great out on the wing as well, confidence to just get the ball and go,” Ugle said.

    “'Logger’ (Gardner) was strong down back as well and took some really great marks. She looked really composed when she was hitting up targets.”

    Although disappointed, Ugle believes the loss to the competition’s benchmark will better the team in future games.

    “I think it is really good for us to be hit with a tough game like that. I think it’s only going to drive us to come back and be hungry for the back half of the season,” she said.

    “But what Port did really well was they used the ball well and they were a lot cleaner than us. They were able to execute better than us and they are a quality side and we fully respected that. Playing against a quality side like that is only going to make us better.”

    Ugle was pleased with her team’s ability to push Port Melbourne until the final siren, looking to the upcoming Easter bye as an opportunity to reset ahead of the rest of the season.

    “I think attitude is a big thing. As we came off, some emotions were pretty high and I think that just goes to show how invested we are about this group, this club and the growth of our football,” she said.

    “It’s nice to see the emotion but we really need to regroup, come back together. We’ve got two weeks off now to rest our bodies, rest our minds, and come back and regroup because we know that we can play great footy. We just need to believe in ourselves.”

    The VFLW will have a competition-wide bye over Easter before the Bombers return for their round six clash with Hawthorn at Box Hill City Oval on April 10.

    ESSENDON 1.1 2.1 3.1 4.3 (27)
    PORT MELBOURNE 3.0 5.1 6.1 6.2 (38)

    Goals: Frew 2, Barba, Theodore

    Best: Ashley-Cooper, Ugle, Barba, Morcom, Frew, Nanscawen

    Easter is a bye weekend for the VFLW, so the next game is Round 6 @ Hawthorn, Box Hill, 10 April, 10.30AM
    R6: WIN against Hawthorn
  • Lore

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    VFLW Bombers return to winners list

    The VFLW Bombers have returned to the winners list after defeating Hawthorn by 14 points at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday.

    The Bombers struggled in the wet conditions and spent the majority of the game chasing the Hawks, but a late last-quarter surge allowed them to run away with the 4.5 (29) to 1.9 (15) victory.

    Both teams fought with intensity from the opening bounce, with the ball being locked in contests for majority of the first quarter.

    It took 15 minutes for the first goal to be scored through an off-the-ground kick from Mia-Rae Clifford giving the Bombers an early lead.

    With the rain settling in, the Hawks quickly took control of the game early in the second quarter, locking the ball in their forward half and converting for their first major.

    Midway through the second quarter, the Bombers suffered a significant blow with captain Georgia Nanscawen coming off with a calf injury.

    Eloise Ashley-Cooper stood up to cover the loss of Nanscawen through the midfield, but the Hawks continued to pressure the Bombers and took a three-point lead into the main break.

    The wet weather caused havoc during the third quarter as both teams were locked in contests and struggled to convert on the scoreboard.

    The pressure was on the Bombers’ backs as the Hawks attempted to go forward. Eloise Gardner and Cecilia McIntosh didn’t give the opposition any space and cut off multiple scoring attempts with strong marks.

    Ruck duo Lori Stepnell and Simone Nalder combined well to tackle the height of their opponents while Alex Morcom provided excellent run off the backline.

    Debutants Zali Friswell and Kasey Lennox, who came up from the Calder Cannons’ NAB League side, didn’t look out of place in the Bombers’ side and were influential across the forward and back lines respectively.

    After a goalless third term, the Bombers’ forwards were determined to overturn the deficit and came out with intent.

    Federica Frew converted from a set shot to give the Bombers a two-point advantage before Natalie MacDonald snapped a goal from the pocket to further extend the lead.

    The Bombers’ victory was sealed when Clifford scored her second major for the day late in the quarter.


    Nanscawen was proud of her team’s attitude throughout the game and the way they continued to fight even when they were behind on the scoreboard.

    “I’m super proud of the team. Personally, it was disappointing to not be able to get through the game, but the way the girls stayed in the game with their heads held high and fought right to the end (was pleasing),” Nanscawen said.

    “We were down for quite a bit of the game and to see the character that we showed to get back into it and to be able to hold the lead, it makes me really proud.”

    Nanscawen attributed the fourth-quarter resurgence to her teammates’ confidence in each other and their ability to stay composed under pressure.

    “I think just the belief that we knew we were in it even though we were down. We knew they would throw everything at us and we were able to hold it,” she said.

    “It was about being composed and playing smart in the rain as well. We really did that and some girls really stood up in that last quarter.”

    The two debutants, Friswell and Lennox, also impressed Nanscawen in the way they seamlessly fitted into the side and played their roles.

    “They showed why they deserved to pull on the jumper, they both fought really hard. Obviously, some tough conditions for a tall back (Lennox) but both of them kept fighting right through,” she said.

    “It’s exciting to see players like that in our team.”

    After her injury, Nanscawen was pleased with the team’s ability to be flexible and the way the way they quickly adapted to her absence on the field.

    “I was exceptionally proud of how they adapted. It would have been easy for them to drop their heads when you lose anybody in the team, but they didn’t do that at all,” she said.

    “They fought right to the end and I’m super proud.”

    The Bombers will return home for to the NEC Hangar round seven next Saturday to host Williamstown from 11am.

    ESSENDON 1.1 1.2 1.3 4.5 (29)
    HAWTHORN 0.4 1.5 1.8 1.9 (15)

    Goals: Clifford 2, Frew, MacDonald
    Best: Stepnell, Gardner, McIntosh, Morcom, Ashley-Cooper, Nalder
    R7: Smashed Williamstown by 30!
  • Lore

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    VFLW Bombers too strong for Williamstown

    Essendon VFLW cements its spot in the top four with a comfortable win over Williamstown.

    By Celie Hay - 1 hr ago


    The VFLW Bombers celebrate a goal against Williamstown. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    The VFLW Bombers have recorded their fifth win of the season and cemented their spot in the top four, defeating Williamstown by 30 points at the NEC Hangar on Saturday.

    The Bombers, who entered the game placed third, overcame the Seagulls' strong physical presence to run away with a 6.9 (45) to 2.3 (15) win.

    After controlling the game early, the Bombers struggled to convert in front of goals, keeping the Seagulls in the game.

    Libby Hosking and Ashley-Cooper were influential early and fought hard through the midfield to get the ball forward.

    Zali Friswell applied strong forward pressure and was rewarded for her efforts with a goal just before the first-quarter siren.

    Momentum turned after the quarter break with the Seagulls breaking through for their first goal of the day, but Kasey Lennox and Eloise Gardner were strong across the backline, cutting off the Seagulls’ run to rebound the ball into the forward line.

    The Bombers answered the Seagulls’ fast start through a goal from Mia-Rae Clifford to take a 10-point lead into half-time.

    Williamstown’s physicality continued to pressure the Bombers into the third quarter as the ball was locked in a contested battle across the ground.

    Essendon finally broke through the Seagulls' pressure to score late in the third quarter with an on-the-run snap from Federica Frew.

    The Bombers started the final term with intent, with Friswell scoring her second goal for the day before Alana Barba got on the board for her first.

    But the Seagulls kept fighting to break the Bombers’ scoreboard pressure with their first major of the quarter.

    Frew hit the scoreboard for her second major just before the final siren, sealing a 30-point win.

    Coach Brendan Major was impressed with his side’s ability to withstand Williamstown’s physicality, but could see room for improvement in his team’s communication.

    “It was a real fight; we knew it was going to be and they came out with committed numbers to the contest. We had to keep with them and win every possession we got,” Major said.

    “I think they coped with the physicality OK but it sort of affected our communication a little bit so we want to really make sure that when teams come at us physically that we keep the communication going.”

    The VFLW Bombers form a huddle during their clash with the Seagulls. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Major was pleased with the way his leaders stood up in the absence of captain Georgia Nanscawen, who was out with a calf injury.

    “We’ve got some good leaders; ‘Ugez’ (Courtney Ugle) was a great leader for us last year and we’ve got ‘Coops’ (Eloise Ashley-Cooper) who is a good young leader so they structured up and moved the ball well,” he said said.

    “But you’re not going to be able to replace a ‘G’ (Georgia Nanscawen) in leadership or on the field so it’s one of those things that we’ll just keep battling through for as long as she is out.”

    The Bombers had multiple players in Lennox, Friswell and Elizabeth Snell come up from the NAB League to player their second games at VFLW level.
    Major was impressed with the way the trio fitted into the Bombers’ line-up and the impact they had across the ground.

    “Friswell competed one versus two, one versus three a lot of the time with them committing more numbers to defence, and I think she did well. Lennox is really strong. She’s a very strong one-on-one player so to come in and play like that, she was great,” he said.

    “‘Snelly’ (Elizabeth Snell) is really clean, being a slight body around the contest, she had to really fight today. She did well and it’s a great taste of football at the higher level.”

    The Bombers will return to the NEC Hangar next Sunday to take on Collingwood at 11am.

    ESSENDON 1.4 2.5 3.7 6.9 (45)
    WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 1.1 1.2 2.3 (15)

    Goals: Friswell 2, Frew 2, Clifford, Barba
    Best: Frew, McIntosh, Clifford, Gardner, Lennox, Friswell
    R8: 10pt loss to Collingwood
  • Lore

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    Dec 14, 2015
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    VFLW Bombers beaten in tight battle
    The VFL Bombers fall short against the second-placed Magpies on Anzac Day.
    By Celie Hay - 3 hrs ago

    Essendon VFLW’s inaugural Anzac Day game has ended in a 10-point loss to the undefeated Collingwood on Sunday.

    The Bombers led the second-placed Magpies for the first half but couldn’t maintain their lead to the final siren, with Collingwood running away with a 5.8 (38) to 4.4 (28) win at the NEC Hangar.

    Contests were tight from the opening bounce with neither side conceding any space, but the Bombers managed to control the game early with the majority of the play positioned in their forward half.

    The Bombers’ forwards put their opposition under pressure early but failed to capitalise on the scoreboard, scoring three behinds before converting their first major through Mia-Rae Clifford.

    The Magpies answered quickly to the Bombers’ early dominance to score their first goal, but Cecilia McIntosh fought hard to stop any opportunity for consecutive majors with strong contested marks across the backline.

    After a tight first quarter, both teams continued their high-level intensity into the second term with Eloise Ashley-Cooper fighting hard through the midfield to get the ball into space.

    Both teams struggled to project the ball forward, resulting in only the one behind being scored for the Magpies, and the Bombers taking a two-point lead into half-time.

    Returning from the main break, the Magpies hit the board early in the third term to score consecutive goals and take the lead for the first time.

    The Bombers lifted after a chase-down tackle from Felicity Theodore, with her effort inspiring an after-the-siren goal to Clifford - her second major - to reduce the Magpies’ lead to five points heading into the last quarter.

    Clifford continued her dominance up forward, scoring her third major within the opening minutes of the third term and further reducing the margin to two points.


    Mia-Rae Clifford celebrates one of her three goals. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    As the contest heated up, the Magpies had to fight hard to hit the board again with Eloise Gardner and Kendra Heil standing strong across the Bombers’ backline.

    But Collingwood managed to break down the bombers defence with consecutive mid-quarter goals to further extend its lead.

    The Bombers broke the run of the Magpies with a snap from Emma Mackay, but the deficit was too much with Collingwood holding on for a 10-point win.

    Leadership group member Mia-Rae Clifford said although the loss was “a heart breaker”, there were lots of positives that will benefit the Bombers heading into the last part of the season.

    “We knew Collingwood were going to throw everything at us so it was a really good challenge for us coming into the back end of the season and I think it could have been anyone’s game at the end of the day,” Clifford said.

    “Unfortunately today it went their way, but taking the positives out of that and knowing that we only have a few things to tweak is a real positive moving forward.

    “I believe in all the girls in the team, and I know the coaching staff do, so we are just that one per cent away from cracking open the top-two sides.”

    When the game was in the balance, the Bombers stayed focused and fought hard, something Clifford said was a key learning from their round one loss to the Southern Saints.

    “Ever since round one when we came up against the Saints, I think after that game we’ve had a massive focus on always staying in the game and being in every contest, so today was no different,” she said.

    “The girls have come a long way since round one and I think we are mentally always in it and we never drop our heads. That’s our number one rule and we always pick each other up so that will never change for the rest of the season.”

    Although Clifford starred with three goals, she attributed the team’s ability to push Collingwood to the work done by the backline.

    “Our backline, they’ve been solid throughout the whole year; the intercept marking by ‘C-Bomb’ (Cecilia McIntosh), spoiling from Nicole (Julian), ‘Logger’ (Eloise Gardner) gets up in the air, ‘Kenny’s’ (Kendra Heil) ferocity at the ball, ‘Morcs’ (Alex Morcom) reading of the play as it comes to the ground,” Clifford said.

    “I’m not going to single out one person but I’m going to say the whole back collectively, they’re always put under pressure and I’m so grateful to have them on my team.”

    The Bombers will turn their focus to returning to the winners list when they face eighth-placed Carlton on Saturday, in their first game at Windy Hill for the season.

    ESSENDON 1.3 1.3 2.4 4.4 (28)
    COLLINGWOOD 1.0 1.1 3.3 5.8 (38)

    Goals: Clifford 3, Mackay
    Best: McIntosh, Ashley-Cooper, Clifford, Davies, Gardner, Heil
    R9: Gave the Blues a 53 point thrashing!
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    VFLW Bombers dominant at Windy Hill
    Essendon records a commanding 53-point VFLW win over Carlton at Windy Hill.
    By Celie Hay - 20 hrs ago

    Windy Hill has hosted its first VFLW game of the season as Essendon claimed a commanding 53-point win over Carlton on Saturday.

    The returns of captain Georgia Nanscawen and Ruby Svarc, who played the 2021 AFLW season with the Brisbane Lions, helped the Bombers return to the winners list with a 10.12 (72) to 3.1 (19) victory.

    The Blues started quickly with the opening goal, but after some back and forth, the Bombers hit the board with Federica Frew converting from a set shot.

    A strong contested mark from Simone Nalder turned momentum the Bombers’ way, resulting in Frew snapping her second goal.

    Nanscawen, who returned to the side after suffering a calf injury against Hawthorn in round six, quickly resumed her role in the midfield with a best-on-ground performance, fighting hard to extract the ball from contests.

    The Bombers continued to control the play in the second quarter and extended their lead with a goal from Natalie MacDonald.

    Soon after, defender Tamsin Crook was awarded a 50-metre penalty and converted for her first goal as a Bomber.


    Tamsin Crook celebrates a goal with Mia-Rae Clifford (L) and Federica Frew (R). (Photo: Celie Hay)

    The Blues fought hard to end the Bombers’ run of goals with their second major, but Frew quickly answered, snapping her third major with the Bombers regaining control.

    It was a day for defenders kicking goals, with Kendra Heil floating forward to snap her first goal of the season, giving the Bombers a 33-point lead at half-time.

    After the half-time break, the Blues’ spirit lifted and the Bombers had to work hard to keep possession of the ball.

    Svarc’s speed on the wing helped the Bombers transition the ball from defence, but they struggled to capitalise on their forward entries.

    After a goalless third term, the Blues opened the final quarter with intent, hitting the board in the opening minute, only for the Bombers to reply with Mia-Rae Clifford converting from a free-kick.

    The goals kept coming for the Bombers through Svarc and Jessie Davies, but Lori Stepnell sealed the 53-point win for the Bombers with a late major.

    Svarc, who returned to the side for the first time since 2019, was rapt with the standard of football the Bombers played and the club’s team-first attitude.

    “The girls were pretty amazing today. We set up really well, held our structures and our forwards were amazing with their leads,” Svarc said.

    “They all play for each other really well, so everyone plays their role and that’s how we got the win today.”


    Ruby Svarc was welcomed back into the Bombers' line-up after an AFLW season with Brisbane. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    The Bombers’ forward line impressed the Brisbane Lions player, with Frew’s three-goal haul a standout.

    “‘Fede’ (Federica) Frew, how good was she today? A couple of her marks were spectacular and she’s really strong on the body. But there’s also a lot of younger girls coming through as well, so it’s really great to see them out there,” Svarc said.

    “Same as Mia (Clifford), I haven’t played with her before so to see her play was amazing.”

    Saturday’s warm weather helped Svarc feel at home with the 27-year-old embracing the opportunity to use the VFLW season to work on personal goals ahead of the next AFLW season.

    “I’ll just be working on the same goals I had up in Brisbane, so it’s amazing to get more game time to just work on those things,” Svarc said.

    “I’m working on just being really clean with the ball and driving out of the contest using my speed.”

    The Bombers will hope to carry their winning form into round 10 when they head down the highway to face Geelong at Deakin University Oval on Saturday.

    ESSENDON 2.4 6.9 6.11 10.12 (72)
    CARLTON 1.0 2.0 2.1 3.1 (19)

    Goals: Frew 3, MacDonald, Crook, Heil, Clifford, Svarc, Davies, Stepnell
    Best: Nanscawen, Hosking, Frew, Svarc, Davies, Nalder
    R10: 23 point loss to Geelong
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    VFLW Bombers succumb to Cats
    The VFLW Bombers fall to a 23-point defeat to a rampant Geelong at Deakin University Oval.
    By Celie Hay - 6 hrs ago

    Essendon’s VFLW side has succumbed to the third-placed Geelong by 23 points at Deakin University Oval on Saturday.

    The inclusion of reigning Gold Coast Suns best and fairest winner Lauren Ahrens wasn’t enough to get the Bombers across the line, with the home team claiming a 5.9 (39) to 2.4 (16) victory.

    Both teams applied pressure from the first bounce but neither were able to break the opposition’s defence, resulting in a goalless first term.

    A best-on-ground performance from Alex Morcom helped the Bombers cut off Geelong’s forward entries, while midfielders Elizabeth Hosking and Eloise Ashley-Cooper fought to capitalise on the defenders’ hard work.

    After the first break, Geelong quickly broke through for its first goal to put the pressure back on the Bombers’ backline.

    Tamsin Crook and Eloise Gardner stood strong but it wasn’t enough to stop consecutive Geelong goals.

    Injuries impacted Essendon in the second quarter with Cecilia McIntosh (hamstring) and Courtney Ugle (dislocated finger) both heading to the bench, but their teammates continued to fight to overturn the deficit.

    Marianna Anthony attempted to change momentum with strong tackles while Alana Barba used her fast feet to evade her opponents, but the Bombers struggled to get past Geelong’s tall defence with the Cats taking a 15-point lead into the main break.

    A stirring half-time address from head coach Brendon Major sparked energy within the Bombers and they came out firing.

    Captain Georgia Nanscawen led from the first contest, using her strength to extract the ball and setting up Barba to kick the Bombers’ first major.


    Captain Georgia Nanscawen in action against Geelong. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Running with the momentum from their goal, the Bombers lifted to lock the ball in their forward half but struggled to convert.

    Further injuries to Gardner (Lisfranc ligament) and debutant Jemma Finning (concussion) took their toll on the Bombers, with the Cats breaking through for a goal just before the third-quarter siren.

    Geelong continued its dominance into the final term, kicking a goal in the opening minutes.

    Essendon responded with a goal from Lori Stepnell, but the deficit was too much with the Cats claiming a 23-point win.

    Vice-captain Ugle said the Bombers’ on-field communication was their key weakness but can take key learnings from playing against top-four sides like Geelong.

    “Overall, our communication between everyone, it wasn’t just one particular player or a particular line group, it was all of us,” Ugle said.

    “But we have a lot of growth and development to go. We’ve come so far but we can do better, and I believe in this group and I believe in our staff and coaching. Playing against quality sides only makes us hungry but it tests us and keeps us honest.”

    When her side was faced with adversity, Ugle was impressed the Essendon's ability to be flexible with younger team members in Ashley-Cooper and Barba standing up.

    “‘Coops’ did a killer job at going to the backline, being told in two seconds that you’ve got to go back and she played that role really well,” Ugle said.

    “I thought Alana Barba really stood up today. I think she was one of the players that kind of got us going. She was able to score, she ran all day in the midfield, and I think that’s really good for a young player for confidence and I think she did really well today.”

    As the Bombers are a young team, Ugle said having two AFLW players in Ahrens and Ruby Svarc come into the team was extremely valuable, not only for performance but also for leadership.

    “I think having them has been really beneficial for us. Obviously, Ruby’s one of the fastest girls on the planet so that speed on the outside is great for us when we need to break up and open up the game,” Ugle said.

    “’Loz’ (Lauren Ahrens) provides a monumental amount of experience and talk and a lot of height as well, which is what we lack. It’s good to have some quality experienced players back in.”

    Despite the loss, Ugle believes the Bombers are ready to embrace a potential maiden finals campaign, but acknowledges they must improve over the remainder of the home and away season.

    “We are licking our lips for finals, there’s no doubt about that,” Ugle said.

    “But we have to do the little things right first. We can’t really think of finals at the moment because we’ve got some groundwork that we need to make sure we can tick off before moving there.”

    The VFLW Bombers will return to Windy Hill next Saturday when they face the Western Bulldogs at 10am.

    GEELONG 0.3 2.5 3.7 5.9 (39)
    ESSENDON 0.0 0.2 1.4 2.4 (16)

    Goals: Barba, Stepnell
    Best: Morcom, Ashley-Cooper, Barba, Anthony, Hosking, Nanscawen
    R11: 18pt loss to the Western Bulldogs
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    Write up for Saturday's game. Four of the girls out there were NAB League players from Calder, so blooding some kids :)

    VFLW Bombers beaten by Bulldogs
    Essendon suffers consecutive defeats with an 18-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Windy Hill.
    By Celie Hay - 21 hrs ago

    The VFLW Bombers have suffered consecutive defeats after they went down to the Western Bulldogs by 18 points at Windy Hill on Saturday.

    A last-quarter resurgence wasn’t enough to get the Bombers over the line with the Bulldogs proving too strong and running away with a 4.4 (28) to 1.4 (10) win.

    The slippery conditions proved difficult for both sides, but the Bulldogs managed to get on the board early, making Essendon play catch-up from the start.

    Eloise Ashley-Cooper was instrumental through the midfield while Mia-Rae Clifford fought hard up forward to get the Bombers on the board.

    After a slow first quarter, Essendon started to regain momentum, but struggled to get past the height of the Bulldogs’ defence with the away side taking a 14-point lead into the main break.


    Head coach Brendan Major addresses his players during a break. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Alana Barba and Zali Friswell were lively throughout the third term, using their clean skills to move the ball into space and drive it forward towards goals.

    The Bombers’ backline, led by Alex Morcom, stood strong against their fast opponents but it wasn’t enough with the Bulldogs further extending their lead, leaving the Bombers looking defeated.

    But Essendon came out firing in the final term, determined to reduce the deficit with debutants Emelia Yassir and Neve Crowley demonstrating their clean skills in the wet conditions.

    After controlling the last quarter, the Bombers finally broke through for their first goal in the final five minutes but the change in momentum was too late with the Bulldogs securing an 18-point win.

    Blooding youth

    The Bombers introduced more youth into their side with Crowley and Yassir joining their Calder Cannons teammates Friswell and Kasey Lennox at VFLW level.

    Although young, the quartet didn’t look out of place at the higher level with their clean skills and strong marks adding an extra sense of class to the Bombers’ line-up.

    Coach Brendan Major was impressed with how the NAB League girls stepped up and fitted in within the Essendon side.

    “They’re really good and they’ve come in prepared so they can really just fight really hard,” Major said.

    “It’s always a big step for them as the players playing against them are a lot bigger at this level, so they did well.”

    Last-quarter surge

    Essendon’s final quarter showed the style of football it is capable of with the home side gaining control of the play through tough tackles and clean possessions.

    An increase in energy across the field inspired the Bombers to change momentum and restrict the Bulldogs to one point while finally getting on the board themselves.

    But after a scoreless first three quarters, the four-goal deficit was too much for the Bombers to overcome.

    Major was impressed with his side’s resilience and positive attitude when behind on the scoreboard.

    “The Bulldogs played well but I thought we probably didn’t play at the level that we would like to at this point in the season,” Major said.

    “I think we played the game out. The last five minutes were the best parts of the game even though the game was done.”

    Young leader steps up

    Leadership group member Ashley-Cooper was dominant through the midfield with solid tackles and clean clearances into space.

    Ashley-Cooper fought hard to against the Bulldogs’ defence to find space and send the ball forward, resulting in a best-on-ground performance.


    Eloise Ashley-Cooper was in red-hot form against the Dogs. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Major was pleased with Ashley-Cooper’s effort across four quarters, with the young midfielder inspiring the team’s final-quarter lift, but said a team effort was needed to win.

    “I think ‘Coops’ (Ashley-Cooper) played pretty well and Friswell played well across half-forward and Coops through the midfield,” Major said.

    “But we (the team) were probably just a step off today.”

    Essendon will look to return to the winners list and confirm its position in the top six when it hosts the 10th-placed North Melbourne at Windy Hill next Saturday at 10am.

    ESSENDON 0.1 0.1 0.3 1.4 (10)
    WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.1 2.2 4.3 4.4 (27)

    Goals: Clifford
    Best: Ashley-Cooper, Clifford, Morcom, Friswell, Barba, Yassir
    R14: 21 point win over Williamstown!
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    Write up for the Round 14 win :D
    VFLW Bombers return with comfortable win
    Essendon defeats Williamstown to strengthen its hold on a maiden VFLW finals berth.
    By Celie Hay - 2 days ago

    Essendon VFLW has returned from the COVID-19 lockdown with a 21-point win over Williamstown at Downer Oval on Saturday to further cement its spot in the top six and a consequent finals berth.

    The Bombers controlled the game from the opening bounce and kept the home side goalless in the second half to record a 4.11 (35) to 2.2 (14) victory in their penultimate game of the season, staying in fifth position and a game clear in the top six with a healthy percentage.

    The energy was high early as both teams embraced the chance to be back playing, but the Bombers’ midfield, led by Courtney Ugle and Alana Barba, quickly took control.

    Bombers forward Mia-Rae Clifford was the first to hit the board, but the Seagulls answered straight away, keeping the pressure on Essendon.

    Cecilia McIntosh was lively across the backline, cutting off the Seagulls’ forward entries and rebounding the ball back into the Bombers’ attacking 50, but neither side managed to break away on the scoreboard.

    The Bombers’ intensity continued into the second term with Zali Friswell rewarded for a strong tackle with a set shot directly in front of goals.

    Friswell converted to extend the Bombers’ lead, but like the first quarter, the Seagulls responded quickly and continued to fight despite the Bombers controlling the play.

    Essendon’s inaccuracy in front of goal allowed the home side to stay within five points heading into the main break.


    VFLW Bombers head coach Brendan Major addresses his players during a break. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Ruby Svarc used her speed to evade multiple Williamstown defenders and converted on the run to extend the Bombers’ lead early in the third quarter.

    Eloise Ashley-Cooper stood strong in midfield and fought hard at contests to get the ball to Jessie Davies and Svarc on the wing, providing Essendon with multiple forward entries.

    As the wind picked up, it became more challenging to hit the scoreboard, but Clifford managed to snap the ball through for her second major to seal a 21-point win.


    Alana Barba, Courtney Ugle and Eloise Ashley-Cooper celebrate at the final siren. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Rebounding from the break

    After a four-week break due to the COVID-19 lockdown, head coach Brendan Major said his side struggled early to adjust to being back on the field, but was happy with his side’s overall performance.

    “It’s good to be back. I think that we played some really good football and got it out to space and played the way we wanted to," Major said.

    “But we were a bit rusty early and I think the skill errors were probably the thing that let us down the most.”

    Major said the Bombers’ struggles on the scoreboard were influenced by the lack of football the side had played over the past month.

    “We got some really good looks inside the forward 50 but didn’t convert the way we wanted to,” he said.

    “4.11 is probably reflective of the big break we just had.”

    Midfielders lead the way

    A best-on-ground performance from Alana Barba, who rotated between the midfield and forward lines, helped the Bombers control Williamstown’s physical presence.

    Major was impressed by how his midfielders fought hard at contests, and despite being undersized, continued to tackle hard and apply pressure to their opponents.

    “We were outsized pretty much all the way across the ground, not in height but physical size, but our players just cracked in,” he said.

    “Players like ‘Millzy’ (Emilia Yassir), ‘Barbs’ (Alana Barba) and ‘Coops’ (Eloise Ashley-Cooper) and ‘Ugez’ (Courtney Ugle) especially, they cracked in and did what they needed to get it done.”

    The home stretch

    With one game remaining in the VFLW season, the Bombers will look to stay in the top six and qualify for a maiden finals series when they take on Darebin next weekend.

    But the Bombers aren’t looking too far ahead, with their focus remaining on their final home and away match.

    Coming off the break, Major said the Bombers would go back to basics to ensure their on-field skills are clean and sharp.

    “It’s just the basic skill fundamentals,” Major said.

    “We are shaping up the way we want to, we’re giving ourselves a good look (at goals) but we’re just not executing so that’s what we’re working on.”

    The VFLW Bombers will take on Darebin at Bill Lawry Oval in their final home and away match at 12pm on Saturday.

    WILLIAMSTOWN 1.1 2.1 2.1 2.2 (14)
    ESSENDON 1.3 2.6 3.9 4.11 (35)

    Goals: Clifford 2, Friswell, Svarc
    Best: Barba, Ugle, Davies, McIntosh, Ashley-Cooper, Svarc
    R15: Smashed Darebin by 50 points. We're in the finals!!
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    Club website write up for the last game of the season 😁

    "The VFLW Bombers will face Casey Demons next weekend in an elimination final, with the fixture yet to be released."

    I think Casey must host since they're ranked higher than we are.

    VFLW Bombers secure maiden finals berth
    Essendon VFLW records a big win over Darebin to book in a maiden finals series.
    By Celie Hay - 23 hrs ago

    The VFLW Bombers celebrate their big win over Darebin at Bill Lawry Oval on Saturday. (Photo: AFL Photos)

    The VFLW Bombers have secured fifth place and a maiden finals berth with a commanding 51-point win over Darebin Falcons at Bill Lawry Oval on Saturday.

    A three-goal haul from Jessie Davies in slippery conditions helped seal the 7.10 (52) to 0.2 (2) win for the Bombers, setting up an elimination final against the fourth-placed Casey Demons next week.

    A switch from defence to forward for Tamsin Crook proved successful, with the 18-year-old hitting the board in the opening minutes.

    The Bombers’ young midfield was dominant early, with Alana Barba, Emilia Yassir and Georgie Prespakis fighting hard to clear the ball into space and set up their forwards.

    Captain Georgia Nanscawen hit the board for her first goal as a Bomber before Jessie Davies further extended the lead with an on-the-run snap.

    The Falcons’ intensity lifted after the first break, but the Bombers responded with a goal from Mia-Rae Clifford.

    Calder Cannons debutant Tahlia Gillard adjusted quickly to the stronger bodies and performed well through the ruck while also flying high to crash packs across the forward line.

    Davies put her body on the line to score her second goal and give the Bombers a 31-point lead at half-time.

    After the main break, both teams came out firing but the Bombers’ authority over the game continued with Davies hitting the board for her third major.

    Courtney Ugle was impressive through the midfield while Simone Nalder worked hard through the ruck to overcome Darebin’s height.

    Despite a goalless final term from both sides, there was elation on the siren, with Essendon securing the 51-point win and a spot in the VFLW top six for the first time in its history.


    All smiles at the final siren. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Finals bound

    After three seasons in the VFLW, Essendon has broken through for a maiden finals appearance after achieviseventh win for the season against the Falcons.

    Nanscawen said she was extremely excited for what was to come, admitting the players didn’t let themselves think too far ahead until finals were made official with today’s win.

    “It’s incredibly exciting. Obviously there’s been a bit of a build-up and we’ve been pretty keen to keep focused, as cliché as it sounds. We have been focusing on one week at a time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves,” Nanscawen said.

    “But to be able to say now that we are playing in our first final series, it’s super exciting and I think from this point we can just enjoy it and make the most of the opportunity.”


    The victorious VFLW Bombers leave the field after securing a maiden finals berth. (Photo: AFL Photos)

    As the team’s focus turns to its elimination final against fourth-placed Casey Demons, Nanscawen said the recent lockdown had given her team a chance to refresh and review its focus heading into finals.

    “I think it’s just not trying to change anything or do anything different just because it’s finals. We still have to prepare well and we still have to recover well, but we will review today’s game and look at who we are playing next week,” she said.

    “The last couple of weeks, coming back from lockdown, the vibe at training has been really good and people are appreciating football and the opportunity to play so we will give it a red-hot crack.”

    Youth steps up

    The Bombers blooded another debutant from the Calder Cannons in Gillard, who came into the side alongside fellow Cannons player Prespakis.

    The pair were just several NAB League players who stepped up to VFLW level across the season, with Nanscawen impressed with how composed they were at the next level.

    “They’ve slotted into our team brilliantly. We had ‘Tahls’ (Tahlia Gillard) today, a nice bit of height for our team. We also had Prespakis come back as well. ‘Millzy’ (Emilia Yassir) has slotted in really well,” she said.

    “It’s exciting to have them and they are bringing that energy and enthusiasm to the group, which is great.”


    A proud captain Georgia Nanscawen at the final siren. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Clean in the wet

    Essendon adjusted well to the slippery and muddy conditions to clear the ball out of stoppages and move it quickly towards goal.

    Nanscawen was impressed with her side's ability to overcome the difficult conditions while still sticking to its style of play.

    “I think we knew that it was going to be a pretty contested game and we wanted to make sure we played more to our free-flowing style, which I think we did given the conditions,” she said.

    “It was quite tough out there. We actually handled it pretty well and played on our terms which is exactly what we wanted to do.”

    The VFLW Bombers will face Casey Demons next weekend in an elimination final, with the fixture yet to be released.

    DAREBIN 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.2 (2)
    ESSENDON 3.3 5.3 7.9 7.10 (52)

    Goals: Davies 3, Crook, Nanscawen, Clifford, Nalder
    Best: Barba, Yassir, Gillard, Prespakis, Nalder, Ugle
    EF: Win over Casey Demons!
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    Match Report for our Finals Win 😁

    Bombers advance to VFLW semis
    The VFLW Bombers make history with a thrilling victory in their first-ever final.


    The VFLW Bombers embrace after a famous victory. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    The VFLW Bombers have held off a fast-finishing Casey Demons in its first-ever VFLW final to celebrate a three-point victory at Casey Fields on Saturday.

    The windy conditions dictated the game, but Essendon made the most of the goal-scoring end to claim a 5.5 (35) to 5.2 (32) elimination final win and advance to the semi-finals.

    Casey started strongly with the opening goal, but the Bombers kept up the intensity and locked the ball in their forward half.

    Kicking against the wind, the Bombers struggled to convert but controlled the play and applied strong pressure to their opponents through strong tackles from Georgia Nanscawen and Courtney Ugle.

    A determined Bombers outfit returned after the first break, with Georgie Prespakis and Alana Barba using their clean skills through the midfield to move the ball up forward.

    Goals to Barba and Elizabeth Hosking sparked the Bombers’ enthusiasm, with the momentum turning their way.

    Mia-Rae Clifford’s AFLW experience was evident as she took strong marks to set up her teammates while also providing great leadership.


    Making history: The VFLW Bombers run out for their first-ever final. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    An on-the-run goal to Jessie Davies followed by a set-shot major to Tara Slender gave the Bombers a 23-point lead at half-time.

    But the Demons came out firing after the main break, utilising the wind to kick three consecutive goals.

    Tamsin Crook and Cecilia McIntosh fought hard across the backline to stop the Demons from taking the lead, while Ruby Svarc used her speed to chase down her opponents and cause turnovers.

    Heading into the final term, Essendon’s lead had been cut back to four points and the momentum sat with the Demons.

    Casey carried its energy from its comeback into the last quarter and took the lead with an early goal.

    It took until the final minutes for Essendon to hit the board again, with Lauren Ahrens awarded a 50-metre penalty and a direct shot at goal.

    After Ahrens converted to give the Bombers a three-point lead, the home team fought hard to get the ball towards its forward line, but Essendon’s defence stood strong.


    Lauren Ahrens is surrounded after her match-winning goal. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    There was elation on the final siren, with the Bombers’ players running from everywhere to celebrate their maiden VFLW finals win.


    There were jubilant scenes as the final siren sounded at Casey Fields. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    First finals win
    Both sides made their VFLW finals debut on Saturday, but it was the Bombers who came out victorious.

    For Clifford, who was best on ground for the Bombers, the win was a reward for the persistence and hard work that everyone involved in the VFLW program had contributed since the team's inception in 2018.

    “It’s just amazing. I think the girls played with their hearts on their sleeves today and that’s what we wanted to do - play the Bomber way. We’re so excited and happy,” Clifford said.

    “Everyone is running and screaming around, but the work rate was there and we’re just so stoked to come home with the four points after all the hard work we’ve been doing.”

    Determination until the final siren
    After a ruthless second quarter, the Bombers had to fight against the wind to keep their strong lead.

    Casey managed to capitalise on the strong conditions during the third term but Clifford said it was the Bombers’ grit and attitude that helped them overcome the Demons’ response.

    “We always prepare for anything here at Casey. We just went man on, run, back our speed. We have a lot of young quicks and some old quicks,” Clifford said.

    “We just had to be hungry for the ball and fight the whole way until that final siren, and I think we really showed that when the wind was against us.”

    At three-quarter time when the game was in the balance, Clifford said the Bombers remained confident in their abilities and didn’t drop their heads.

    “I think we were expecting them to come out firing. They’re a great side and they’ve had a great year so we knew they were going to bring the heat in that third quarter and we just had to ride it,” Clifford said.

    “I think we actually did really well even though we conceded a few goals. I think the way we stood up and pressured, we didn’t allow them to have too much flow so I think we just had to hold our ground and just fight.”


    Veteran Cecilia McIntosh couldn't contain her excitement. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Balanced team

    With five NAB League players lining up for the Bombers in Saturday’s elimination final, Clifford believes that despite having a young team, the leadership of the more experienced players helped keep the team composed in the dying moments of the game.

    “I think we have a great combo to be honest. I think the young ones are there as well but we have the middle-age group with those level heads like Ahrens and ‘Morcs’ (Alex Morcom), ‘G’ (Georgia Nanscawen) in the mid and ‘Ugez’ (Courtney Ugle),” Clifford said.

    “Then you have these young spritely ones running around, so I think we have a great balance of maturity and youth.”

    Prespakis was one NAB League player who stood out to Clifford, with the 18-year-old demonstrating her maturity and ability to be clean around the ball at the next level.

    “Definitely Prespakis today, she’s only in her third game in senior women’s footy and she’s just gone up and up and up,” Clifford said.

    “The way she just darts around people, and her body and the way she uses it is just amazing, so I can’t wait to see her future and I’m so glad I get the opportunity to play alongside her now.”

    The VFLW Bombers will continue their maiden finals series when they compete in a semi-final next weekend, with their opponent dependent on other results.

    CASEY 1.0 1.0 4.1 5.2 (32)
    ESSENDON 0.3 4.5 4.5 5.5 (35)

    Goals: Barba, Hosking, Davies, Slender, Ahrens
    Best: Clifford, Prespakis, McIntosh, Svarc, Crook

    Interview with Mia-Rae Clifford:
    Semi-Final: 7 point loss to the Pies
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    Match report for the semi-final loss to Collingwood
    VFLW Bombers beaten, but advance to prelim
    Essendon falls to the undefeated Collingwood in its VFLW semi-final, but advances to the preliminary finals.
    By Celie Hay - 1 day ago

    Mia-Rae Clifford gets a kick away against Collingwood at Victoria Park. (Photo: AFL Photos)

    Essendon has suffered an eight-point loss to the undefeated Collingwood in Saturday’s VFLW semi-final at Victoria Park.

    The Bombers have a second chance and will compete in next weekend’s preliminary finals against Geelong, while the Pies advance to the Grand Final with their 2.6 (18) to 1.5 (11) victory.

    Captain Georgia Nanscawen led from the first bounce, setting an example for her teammates by using her strength to extract the ball from stoppages and send the ball in the forward direction.

    Both sides were physical early, attempting to lock the ball in their respective halves, but Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Lauren Ahrens stood strong across the Bombers’ backline to ensure the opposition didn’t score.

    After a goalless first term, Ruby Svarc came out with intent, using her speed to chase down her opponent and lifting the Bombers’ intensity.

    Collingwood broke through for its first major 10 minutes into the second quarter but the Bombers’ spirit didn’t drop.

    Georgie Prespakis used her smooth skills at stoppages to clear the ball to the wing to Svarc, who sent the ball in a forward direction.


    Georgie Prespakis found plenty of the footy against the Pies. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    The Pies took a seven-point advantage into the main break and further extended their lead early in the third quarter.

    In the second half, Nanscawen dominated the midfield to finish with a match-high 28 disposals and 13 tackles, resulting in a best-on-ground performance.


    Captain Georgia Nanscawen starred with a match-high 28 disposals. (Photo: AFL Photos)

    Jessie Davies crumbed the ball off the back of a pack to kick Essendon’s first major and reduce the Pies’ lead to eight points heading into the final break.

    Energy was high in the Bombers’ camp after a stirring address from head coach Brendan Major and the girls came out firing to try to overturn the deficit.


    Head coach Brendan Major fires up his side at three-quarter time. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Svarc used her speed along the wing to out-run opponents and sent the ball into the forward 50, but the Bombers didn't capitalise.

    Zali Friswell helped Essendon control the play in the final quarter but the Pies held on for a narrow eight-point win.

    Learning from the league leaders

    The Bombers went into Saturday’s semi-final as underdogs with the Pies coming into the game with 15 straight wins, including a qualifying final victory over the second-placed Geelong.

    While the Bombers challenged but couldn’t overcome the league leaders, midfielder Alana Barba said they could learn from playing against the experienced Collingwood outfit to better themselves for next weekend’s preliminary final.

    “Georgie Prespakis absolutely tore it up through the midfield and Courtney Ugle showed her hard tackling pressure, while ‘C-Bomb’ (Cecilia McIntosh) was a fortress down back, as usual,” Barba said.

    “But playing quality sides obviously makes us better and when we come up against them, we just need to make sure our minds are in it and that we learn from today’s game.”

    Embracing the physicality

    It was clear from the first bounce that both sides were going to be physical.
    Nanscawen and Prespakis led from the front with 25 tackles between them, while Barba showed her strength at contests to overpower her opponents.

    Despite the loss, Barba was impressed with her team’s ability to push the undefeated Pies and continue to compete when behind on the scoreboard.

    “We just need to make sure we execute things well and that we don’t step back from our style of footy,” she said.

    “I think we played four quarters of effort. We kept our intensity up and didn’t let that drop.

    “We expected it to be physical and we hit as hard as they hit, so we will recover well and head into next week.”

    Preliminary final bound

    The Bombers will now turn their attention to a home preliminary final at Windy Hill against Geelong.

    Barba believes the Bombers will use the next week to reset after their semi-final loss to the Pies, and aim to regain their dominant style of play that helped them win over Casey in last week’s elimination final.


    The VFLW Bombers will line up against Geelong in a preliminary final next week. (Photo: AFL Photos)

    “I think we just need to focus on not going away from our way of playing. I think today we went back to our old ways,” she said.

    “We just need to have a team-first mentality and if we stick to that, then I think we can get the job done next week.”

    Essendon will host Geelong in a preliminary final at Windy Hill next weekend, with match details to be confirmed in the coming days.

    COLLINGWOOD 0.4 1.4 2.6 2.6 (18)
    ESSENDON 0.3 0.4 1.4 1.5 (11)

    Goals: Davies
    Best: Nanscawen, Prespakis, Ashley-Cooper, Ahrens, Svarc, Friswell
    Preliminary Final: Loss to Geelong
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club
    Preliminary Final write up;

    VFLW Bombers beaten in prelim final
    Essendon's historic VFLW season comes to an end against Geelong.
    By Celie Hay - Just now

    The VFLW Bombers’ maiden finals series has ended after Geelong ran away with a 28-point victory in Saturday’s preliminary final at Windy Hill.

    It was a tale of two halves as the Bombers were level with the Geelong at the main break, but the Cats' experience proved too strong in the 6.9 (45) to 2.5 (17) win.

    Geelong came out firing to kick the opening major, but the Bombers’ intensity lifted as they fought hard to maintain possession.

    It took until the last minute of the opening quarter for the Bombers to hit the board through No.2 AFLW draft pick Georgie Prespakis, who broke through a contest to snap a goal.


    Star midfielder Georgie Prespakis gets busy in the engine room. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Like the first quarter, Geelong opened the second term with a quick major, but the Bombers continued to fight hard and took control of the game.

    A long kick from Zali Friswell found Alana Barba in open space and she weaved through multiple opponents before waltzing into an open goal square.

    The two sides couldn’t be separated heading into the main break with a late behind from Barba levelling the score.

    After the main break, Geelong’s intensity lifted and it broke away with consecutive goals.

    But the Bombers’ defenders in Tamsin Crook and Eloise Ashley-Cooper stood strong under immense pressure, cutting off multiple Geelong forward entries.

    Momentum turned in the final minutes of the third term with the Bombers’ locking the ball in their forward half, but unfortunately they couldn’t convert.

    Geelong dominated the final quarter, but the Bombers’ intent didn’t waiver as the home side fought hard to reduce the deficit.

    Essendon conceded multiple goals in the final minutes, sealing the Cats’ 28-point victory to advance to the VFLW Grand Final.


    The VFLW Bombers can hold their heads high after an outstanding season. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Tale of two halves

    Despite waiting three weeks in between games, both sides started the game with fast ball movement and clean skills.

    While the Bombers kept up with the Geelong’s intensity for the first half, the Cats stepped up after the main break and took control of the game.

    Essendon captain Georgia Nanscawen said the Bombers started the game well but struggled to stop Geelong’s momentum throughout the second half.

    “It was a pretty tight for first half and I think we matched it with them really well. They got off to a bit of a start and we pulled them back extremely well. I thought we were actually on top of the contest, feeling really good going into half-time,” Nanscawen said.

    “I think their class just showed through in that second half. They got a bit of a run on and a bit of momentum, and it was hard to stop. In the end credit to them, they've had a great season and played the game really, really well.”

    Nanscawen said the Bombers struggled to overcome the pressure from the Cats which meant they couldn’t utilise their own structures and capitalise on their outside speed.

    “We looked at the stats at three-quarter time and they started to get on top in the contested possessions,” Nanscawen said.

    “They use the players around the back of the stoppage really well and we weren't able to number off as well as we would have liked, so they were able to get that bit of a run on and unfortunately we didn’t have the answers to them today.”

    Disappointing end to a historic season

    Although it was a disappointing end to the season, the VFLW Bombers can reflect on the season with pride as they were a part of the team which led the club to a maiden finals series.

    Nanscawen said her side never gave up throughout the season and embraced any challenge that came their way, including the disruptions caused by COVID lockdowns.

    “Obviously I'm extremely proud of the group, proud of the club and I think the club's proud of us as well,” she said.

    “One thing is we've never backed down and we've always enjoyed doing it as a group. I'm extremely proud to be part of this group and proud to stay with the Bombers going forward and developing us to hopefully go one step better next year.”

    ESSENDON 1.1 2.2 2.5 2.5 (17)
    GEELONG 1.2 2.2 4.4 6.9 (45)

    Goals: Prespakis, Barba
    Best: Prespakis, Nanscawen, Gillard, Barba, Crook, Ashley-Cooper
    Disposals: Nanscawen 26, Barba 18, Prespakis 17, Heil 13
    Best & Fairest Award Night
  • Lore

    Moderator ❀
    Dec 14, 2015
    AFL Club


    B&F - TOP 10

    After each game this season, each of the five Essendon VFLW coaches allocated 1-5 votes per player. The maximum votes a player could receive each game was 25.

    1st - Eloise Ashley-Cooper (259 votes)
    2nd - Alex Morcom (242)
    3rd - Alana Barba (234)
    4th - Mia-Rae Clifford (215)
    5th - Cecilia McIntosh (213)
    6th - Marianna Anthony (212)
    7th - Kendra Heil (205)
    =8th - Nat MacDonald, Courtney Ugle (204)
    10th - Georgia Nanscawen (203)

    Best Club Person
    Winner: Eloise Ashley-Cooper
    Determined by: Trainers

    Don of the Year
    Winner: Eloise Ashley-Cooper
    Determined by: Players' votes
    Prize: $500 + $1000 to local club, thanks to Fujitsu

    Best Finals Player
    Winner: Georgia Nanscawen
    Determined by: Coaches
    Prize: $500, thanks to Fujitsu

    Leading Goalkicker
    Winner: Mia-Rae Clifford
    Prize: $500 Amart voucher

    Most Valuable Young Player
    Winner: Alana Barba
    Determined by: Coaches
    Prize: $500 Coles voucher

    Liberty Legend
    Winner: Celie Hay
    Determined by: Players' votes
    Prize: $500 Red Balloon voucher

    Ashley-Cooper crowned 2021 VFLW Best and Fairest
    Young leader Eloise Ashley-Cooper caps a remarkable rise to win a maiden VFLW Best and Fairest medal.

    Versatile youngster Eloise Ashley-Cooper has capped a remarkable rise to earn a maiden Essendon VFLW Best and Fairest medal.

    Ashley-Cooper, who turned 21 earlier this month, claimed the Bombers' highest individual honour on 259 votes ahead of consistent defender Alex Morcom (242), star midfielder Alana Barba (234) and former AFLW players Mia-Rae Clifford (215) and Cecilia McIntosh (213).

    Ashley-Cooper becomes the youngest winner of the Bombers' VFLW Best and Fairest in its short history, in a season that also saw her elevated to the team's leadership group as the youngest in the contingent.

    She has been held in the highest regard by her peers this season, having also claimed the player-voted Don of the Year award and trainer-voted Best Club Person award for best upholding the team's values.


    Eloise Ashley-Cooper is a much-loved and respected teammate. (Photo: Celie Hay)

    Growing up in Finley in regional New South Wales, Ashley-Cooper's focus was on netball until in 2017 a close friend convinced her to join the local girls’ football team.

    In her first football game for Finley, Ashley-Cooper’s talent was identified by Murray Bushrangers in the then-TAC Cup, seeing her quickly progress into the Eastern Allies side for the 2018 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.

    After relocating to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Law at the Australian Catholic University, Ashley-Cooper was then convinced by Essendon's head coach Brendan Major to join his VFLW side ahead of the 2019 season.

    She became one of the first picked in Major's side this season, performing consistently as an inside midfielder and then half-back to feature in every game as the Bombers reached a preliminary final in their maiden finals series.

    Major said Ashley-Cooper was a worthy winner.

    "She's worked really hard over the last couple of seasons to really develop her game," Major said.

    "Her professionalism has shone through and her fitness has improved dramatically. She's always had a good base in that and a strong work ethic, but she's taken that to another level this year.

    "Her consistency across all games was probably what got her over the line. She's one of those players who turns up every week, does her job and competes really hard. When you combine that with neat skills, it makes her a deserving winner.

    "She's an exceptional young leader. She acquitted herself really well and that just shows her maturity, which is far ahead of her age. She's really well respected among the playing group for many reasons."

    Fellow youngster Barba, who last week earned an AFLW contract with Gold Coast, was duly recognised for her stellar season in midfield, claiming the Most Valuable Player award in addition to her third-placed finish.


    Alana Barba starred this season to claim multiple awards. (Photo: AFL Photos)

    Captain Georgia Nanscawen earned Best Finals Player honours, having averaged 27 disposals and 12 tackles across the Bombers' three finals matches.

    Clifford dominated her first season in the red and black, booting 16 goals to win the Leading Goalkicker award.

    Dons Digital intern Celie Hay was recognised for her outstanding output and cultural impact, voted by the players as the Liberty Legend - an award dedicated to the incredible and selfless volunteers who give their all to the team.

    The club congratulates all award winners in what was a history-making season for the VFLW Bombers.