Perth Footy Live Rd 8: B Grade semi-final Quinns District v Piara Waters
~ A Recap by Scully ~
Last Saturday the boys headed off to Lightning Park to watch the C4 Noranda versus Rossmoyne match. I went in a different direction back to Ridgewood Oval for the women’s B Grade semi-final match between Quinns Districts and Piara Waters, leaving the rest of the team on their own to re-enact The Hangover, or maybe the more age-appropriate The Bucket List. I’m not going say it was the beer that got me back to Ridgewood Oval, but it was unequivocally the beer that got me back to Ridgewood Oval. And the women’s footy.
Now, before I get into this week’s recap, there are two corrections that I need to make to last week’s edition. Firstly, behind every multi-tasking man there’s a multi-talented woman, so I need to give due credit to Denise Eiffler; Darren Eiffler’s amazing wife and club all-rounder. Once the pandemic is over and done with, you’ll also find her on an all-expenses paid trip to Bali with Lyn and Kim. The second correction I need to make is that Woz is actually the owner of the Ocean View Tavern and not the manager. Of course, I’d have never made that mistake had Woz not been as weak as piss and avoided the commentary tent in the first place.
As for the game, Quinns Districts were going into the semi-final as undefeated minor premiers. They’d previously beaten Piara Waters in Round 1, but that was two months ago and lots can change in that time; for example, the entire world going into lockdown. The Bulls were fielding a team with quite a few changes from their first encounter and they were without their captain and midfield on-the-ball scrapper, Renee Matthews. It was also the team’s first finals campaign, so it was a good thing the suburb of Ridgewood doesn’t have market gardens, otherwise the butterflies streaming out of the clubrooms would have had a field day.
As the Bulls girls ran onto the oval, I noticed a few familiar faces from West Perth Women’s who had been recruited by Community Engagement manager, Trish Medwin, including Jen Dwyer, Shannen Wynne, and Ebany Goddard. Considering that Wynne scored two of the three Bulls goals that game and Goddard earned Best on Ground, I’d say that Trish has done a damn fine job in her role. Around Perth Footy Live parts Ward Harris is known for his talent management but somehow he ended up with this motley crew, which I reckon means that Trish has upstaged him in that department.
The Bulls were up and about in the first quarter and it was mostly locked in their half. With only one goal slotted by the fancy footwork of Rhiannan Lloyd Deely, the players weren’t making enough of their opportunities. While they still held the lead at half time, they were continuing to miss their chances, rushing the ball when in scoring range. Shout out to Tessa Mettam for her impressive delivery of the ball into the forward, and to Jennie Fowler for her spleen-rupturing tackle in the second. Ellie Barrett also put her cardio-vascular tank to good use chasing the ball up and down the oval.
With the first half of the semi-final game done and dusted, I went in hot pursuit of beer. Carlton Draught beer, that is. Actually, I went in hot pursuit of bourbon but that detail doesn’t work for our sponsorship agreement. I overheard an interesting conversation while standing in line; a mum had been trying to get her daughter to play netball but she’d flatly refused and said it’d have to be footy or nothing. What a little champion.
Thirst quenched, the third quarter was another tightly fought contest. The Bulls put one goal on the board through Wynne, and Piara Waters found the bacon and griddle twice. Their second goal came from Cheyenne Sams who I’m sure smashed the land-speed record, at the very least, the blue flame from her exhaust pipes left a scorched strip on the couch grass. For the Bulls, Talysha Jessop worked hard around the ground; when she wasn’t chasing she was kicking long, and when she wasn’t tackling she was gathering off the deck. She clearly learned how to multi-task from Effi, or more likely, Denise.
After another quarter of little movement on the scoreboard, the frustration of the Quinns Districts players began to show, and they gave away a double 50m penalty early on. Piara Waters must have rubbed the horseshoe on a leprechaun’s foot because the ball kept bouncing in their favour. Oh, and they were playing fairly decent football. Wynne, again, was able to peg a goal back in the dying minutes; she might look like a string bean but she hits the guts like a habanero. Alas, the Bulls sharpened their horns a little too late, and Piara Waters advanced straight through to the grand final by nine points.
The disappointment of the Quinns Districts girls could be seen on their faces as they walked off the oval to the loyal support and encouragement of the Bulls family. One thing I noticed throughout the game was the huge supporter numbers cheering for the women’s team and how many players were known by name. Quinns Districts is a community that is clearly invested in female football. Another thing I noticed though, is that an opposition player can pull the big ol’ middle finger at Bulls’ supporters, and still walk away with their life intact. Yeah, that happened around the second quarter.
I got a chance to chat to the Quinns Districts players and coaches after their debrief. Their captain noted the congestion around the ball, especially in the forward line, and the importance of maintaining structures. After censoring much of my conversation with Renee Matthews, in a less-than-verbatim way she said, “We just rushed it too much. We needed to slow it down but perhaps our nerves got the better of us. Next week we need to be tough and make sure we’re first to the ball and communicating.” One of the girls in the background also chimed in, “We needed the age, wisdom and experience that Renee brings to the team.” I hate to bring it to Renee’s attention once again, but age was oddly emphasised.
The coaches, Leesy and Bretto, also echoed the captain’s sentiments. Leesy and Bretto do, in fact, have full names, but apparently nobody would know who the hell I was talking about if I didn’t use these shortened versions. Leesy told me, “The finals are a different game and you’ve got to change it up. They’re a resilient group and will bounce back, but they need to play in the moment, and play four full quarters out.” He also noted, “We didn’t do the stuff we normally do. We didn’t gel enough in the back or forward. We need to front up to play, and capitalise on our chances when it’s in your hands for 85% of the game.”
Leesy also gave credit to Piara Waters. “They had a good 8 or 9 minutes of solid play that they capitalised on. They’ve earned their right to be there in the grand final. Whoever comes up against them will need to put in a lot of work and effort.” He even had something to say about Cockburn Lakes, who Quinns Districts will play on Saturday in the preliminary final. “In my eyes Cockburn are a good side. They’re competitive and very hard at it. It’s gonna be a tough game, so we need to make sure we come at them.”
Seeing as I had the chance, I spoke to Leesy and Bretto about women’s footy in general too, and I promise that I did not put any words in their mouths. Leesy made the bold claim that it’s better than coaching the boys. “The boys are all ego. You don’t have to coach them on ability, they have other challenges. The girls listen and ask questions, and are quick to learn. The way they’ve gone about this year is great.” Bretto added, “I find it really rewarding. It’s different from the guys, they’ve been playing for so long. The girls are sponges and they just want to learn.”
The Bulls women had already turned the loss into a lesson during our conversations. Justis King noted in a quietly reflective way, “You’re not winners if you don’t know what losing feels like.” And Ebany Goddard was already looking to the future, “We’ll get our heads back into the game and train hard. The grand final is our focus now and we want it.” The girls threw in so many one-liner classics that the conversation started to sound like an RnB Friday session. It started with Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, transitioned to Aaliyah’s classic Dust Yourself Off and Try Again, and ended with Jennifer Lopez’s Let’s Get Loud. We only needed someone to hit play on Mary J. Blige’ Not Gon’ Cry and I’d have had to drag out my happy pants from 1992.
If you’re keen to support the Quinns Districts Women’s this weekend, you’ll find them playing against Cockburn Lakes in the preliminary final at Ridgewood Oval from 9:50. You’ll find the Perth Footy Live team at Soklich & Co Oval live streaming the C2 SNESA versus Kenwick match from 2:45 onwards.
Now, it wouldn’t be a Quinns Districts recap if I didn’t have to send out some reminders. Firstly, to the umpires, can the Bulls get their game ball back please? And secondly, to Warnbro Swans, Clarky is still waiting for the return of his esky…