Preview: Old foes Diamond Creek and Darebin battle for 2017 VFLW premiership

Grand Final day has arrived for the VFL Women’s competition, and old foes Diamond Creek and Darebin will do battle under the roof at Etihad Stadium with the first bounce to come at 12pm (AEST).

For the fourth year in a row, the Girls Play Footy Radio team is proud to be your only live radio coverage for the biggest game on the women’s state league football calendar.

Darebin midfielder Elise O’Dea hopes to help her side flip the script on Diamond Creek who beat the Falcons two weeks ago. Image: David Smith

To listen to the best coverage of women’s football anywhere, tune in from 11am (AEST) on RSN Carnival via DAB+ digital radio in Melbourne, or worldwide on your mobile phone through Carnival on the RSN Racing and Sport app.

You can also listen via the link provided at the bottom of this article, and if you’re headed to Etihad Stadium, you can hear the call delay free on 89.1 FM.

Below, the Girls Play Footy Radio call team gives our predictions for the match, plus we look at five key points that could tip the game either way.

 

KB or bust

Just like the Western Bulldogs discovered this AFLW season, Darebin’s hopes ride on the back on how league best and fairest Katie Brennan performs.

In the second half of the season when the Falcons started climbing the ladder, it came as no surprise as that was the period KB returned from injury and found form.

That said, two weeks ago in the major Semi-Final, the Creekers’ Kerryn Harrington curbed Brennan’s influence and it showed, with the Falcons having little scoreboard impact and suffering only their third ever loss to Diamond Creek.

 

The big omission

One of the standout players for the Creekers in their win two weeks ago was half-forward Christina Bernardi – but she won’t be playing.

It’s believed Bernardi had a work trip planned to South Africa when the fixture first came out, but just before the season began, it was readjusted to have the Grand Final one week later than originally planned.

The question is, who can take over Bernardi’s role in the forward half?

A possibility is switching half-back flanker Lisa Williams to centre half-forward, a role she did play in the Creekers’ seven-goal win over the Mugars a couple of months ago.

 

Chloe Molloy vs Libby Birch

From the very first bounce to the final siren of the Semi-Final meeting, all Birch did was just push-and-shove Molloy off the ball, hoping to put the 18-year-old off her game.

Quite simply, it failed.

Looking at pure stats, one might argue that Molloy had only two goals and few possessions, but those at the ground saw how the youngster took Birch back deep to the goal square, creating space in the 50 metre arc, allowing Chiocci, Downie and Bernardi to swoop and score easy goals.

Birch, and to an extent Darebin coach Jane Lange, got sucked in and left a gaping hole in their defence. Safe to say that won’t happen again.

 

Reborn midfielder, Melissa Hickey

Renowned centre half-back Melissa Hickey has been enjoying a run in the midfield of late at both Melbourne and the Falcons.

She’s been racking up the possessions, and to be truthful might be flying under the radar with the greater focus on Daisy Pearce, Karen Paxman and Elise O’Dea.

Normally in a Grand Final, there would be the temptation to be more conservative with Hickey and put her in the centre half-back position. However, with Bernardi missing for the Creekers, coach Lange is free to leave the Mildura born-and-raised champion on the ball.

 

Quarterback Emma Grant

There’s been much praise for Diamond Creek coach Scott Gowans for how he’s managed to change the game style of the Creekers from a kick it long and chase team, into one that makes smart decisions with the ball in such a short space of time.

A pivotal move and moment for him and the Creekers in the third quarter of the match two weeks ago, was having former Bendigo Thunder captain Emma Grant positioned on the half-back line.

Having extra leadership there when it felt like the Falcons were looking to build momentum and get back into the game was crucial.

Grant, like an NFL quarterback, assessed the options further up the field and made smart decisions on what path the Creekers needed to take forward.

Her presence allows the likes of Tanya Hetherington to stay deep in defence, while giving confidence to Steph Chiocci to push further up the field.

 

The Girls Play Footy Radio call team’s predictions

Matthew Cocks – Lead caller
Diamond Creek by 13 points.
BOG: Chloe Molloy (Diamond Creek)

Peter Holden – Host and second caller
Diamond Creek by 18 points.
BOG: Shae Audley (Diamond Creek)

Lucy Watkin – Special comments, Whitehorse Colts footballer
Diamond Creek by 5 points.
BOG: Stephanie Chiocci (Diamond Creek)

Kristy Williams – Stats, former Sydney Uni & Morphettville Park footballer
Darebin by 17 points.
BOG: Melissa Hickey (Darebin)

Katie Lambeski – Boundary rider, VU Western Spurs footballer
Diamond Creek by 18 points.
BOG: Emma Grant (Diamond Creek)

Niamh Felton – Boundary rider, Melbourne Uni footballer
Diamond Creek by 11 points.
BOG: Chloe Molloy (Diamond Creek)

 

Diamond Creek vs Darebin

12pm AEST
Sunday, September 24 at Etihad Stadium

Tickets
Adults: $23
Concession/pensioner: $16
Kids under 15: Free
Ticket also covers entry to the VFL Grand Final at 3pm and TAC Cup Grand Final at 7.35pm. All tickets are general admission and can be bought at the ground or on Ticketmaster (prices on Ticketmaster are different than at the gate).

Radio
RSN Carnival from 11am AEST
Internet audio stream on girlsplayfooty.com from 11am AEST
The full interviews with Elise O’Dea and Tanya Hetherington can be heard on Wednesday night from 6pm AEST on RSN Carnival, and then from Thursday morning on the Girls Play Footy Podcast.

TV
Channel 7 from 11:30am AEST

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