Team-first approach leads impressive Lions to victory

The extreme-speed of Tianah Vandesteeg caused Healesville some headaches in the clash against Pakenham on Saturday. 414030 Picture: EUAN POULTON PHOTOGRAPHY

By David Nagel

Talented youngsters blended seamlessly with a hard-working core of senior players as Pakenham produced its best ‘team’ performance of the season in a 42-point win over Healesville on Saturday.

All six teams play each other three times in Outer East Women’s Division One, with the Lions and Bloods matching up in consecutive matches either side of the King’s Birthday bye.

The Lions prevailed by 34 points a fortnight ago, but both teams had some key inclusions that gave this contest between one and two on the ladder a real sense of the unknown.

Healesville welcomed back skipper Alex Bryan, alongside Box Hill VFLW player Paula Pavic and Eastern Rangers midfielder Ishka-Belle Stock, while the Lions also introduced a wealth of talent.

Gippsland Power trio Abby Hobson, Ash Perkins and Jayda Tannahill all made their senior debuts, while Power teammates Ava Deszcz and Bonnie Williams were back in maroon and blue after early-season introductions.

The Lions also unveiled a new talent, with Matilda Argoon making the switch from Belgrave.

The contest was super-hot early, with Pavic giving the Bloods a well-deserved lead after seven minutes of play.

Pakenham gradually gained the ascendency and a late goal to Hobson, right on the quarter-time siren, gave the Lions a three-point lead at the first break.

The Lions leading goalkicker, Aiesha Kolaritsch, then turned a half-chance into reality at the start of the second term, before Deszcz capitalised on some great work up the field.

The Lions were really organised around the stoppages, with leaders Chloe Nagel, Courtney Stephens and 50-gamer Bianca Moody not allowing the home-side room to move.

And the Lions defensive group, led by Kate Green, Abbey McKenzie, Annalise Ryan and Tannahill had the dangerous Bloods’ forwards under check.

Trailing by 17 points at half time, Healesville opened with the first goal of the third quarter and a strong response looked likely.

But the Lions had a response of their own, with goals to Emily Johnston, Hobson and Williams kicking the lead out to 33 points at three-quarter time.

Deszcz then put the final exclamation mark on victory; the Lions now a game and percentage clear at the top of the table.

Deszcz and Hobson finished with two each for the Lions, with Hobson adding seven points from her nine shots at goal in the 7.12(54) to 2.0(12) win.

Pakenham will host a rebounding Upwey-Tecoma this week after the Tigers suffered a surprise 3.3(21) to 2.2(14) loss to Berwick Springs on Saturday.

The Tigers had no answer to star performer Emily Browning, who kicked all three goals to lead the Titans to their biggest victory of the season.

And reigning-premier Olinda Ferny Creek is looming as a genuine contender once again after the Bloods defeated Belgrave by 24 points at Olinda.

Star forward Olivia Edwards proved the difference between the two sides with a stunning four-goal performance.

In Division Two, Molly Webb provided a season highlight; kicking seven goals in Emerald’s 10-goal win over Seville, while Scarlett Henderson slammed home six in Monbulk’s 49-point win over Officer.