One year on, and the same two sides will go to battle again for the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division flag this Sunday at Blacktown International Sports Park.
Last time around the Sydney University Bombers were the side to get out of the blocks early, only to see that advantage disintegrate as the UNSW/ES Stingrays ran over them in the second half to claim the title.
For the Stingrays, they now go into the Grand Final as the hunted, knowing full well that the Bombers have been plotting revenge for more than 12 months.
Speaking to Girls Play Footy, Stingrays midfielder Nicola Vrachnas said her side did not fear being the hunted this time around.
“The key difference that I’ve noticed over the last fortnight is the confidence,” Vrachnas said.
“I think last year, there was a number of us who had suffered a few losses in a Grand Final or Preliminary Final, and there was just that question mark of whether we could actually follow through and take the cup home.
“Very different this year, and we’ve got a real sense of confidence and who know we can beat them, we know how to beat them, and that’s clear how we approached training in the last couple of weeks.”
Along with having GWS Giants stars Maddie Collier, Jacinda Barclay and Rebecca Beeson in their squad for this season, Vrachnas highlighted some other players who had been starring Stingrays.
“Jasmine Smith has been awesome playing in ruck, and spending some time in at centre half-back and centre half-forward.
“Phoebe Monahan is another one that’s come up from Victoria and really found her straps this year, and been a huge contributor to the team.
“Ingrid Nielsen also is an amazing ruck and mover of the ball too, with a good set of hands; she’s been solid all year.”
Despite their own players being in form, the Stingrays know they’ll have to be on their toes to halt the Bombers side that beat them in a twilight game back in round four.
Vranchas acknowledged that Sydney University have plenty of stars that they’ll need to stop.
“Obviously Nicola Barr has a beautiful running game, and she’s quick in the first couple of steps, so she gets away from her player.
“The match-up on Jennifer Lew with our player Sera Kaukiono a couple of weekends ago was sensational, Sera did such a good job… and really took Jen’s power and running game out.”
When it comes to picking a winner between these two teams, the Girls Play Footy Podcast’s Sydney reporter Lauren Hodgson says it will be a thrilling contest and she’s tipping the reigning premiers.
“They played each other once during the home and away season, and it was one win a piece, and obviously the Stingrays won in the first week of finals.
“I think the Stingrays will take out the premiership with a win; however, I think it will be a really close game and I think it will be decided by less than ten points.”
The AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division Grand Final between UNSW/ES Stingrays and Sydney University at Blacktown commences at 2pm (AEST) on Sunday, September 10.
The match can be watched via the link below.
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