DAREBIN 6.1 (37) def WILLIAMSTOWN 5.4 (34)

DAREBIN called on all of its famed spirit to produce a remarkable comeback and stun Williamstown by three points in a thrilling rebel VFLW season-opener at La Trobe University on Saturday.

The Falcons looked dead and buried for all money when the Seagulls flew out of the blocks with a brilliant 5.2 to 0.0 opening term, but a few home truths from new coach and club legend Kate Tyndall at quarter-time shocked them into gear.

They conceded only two behinds for the rest of the match, kicking two goals in each quarters and taking the lead when Stephanie Simpson kicked her second with nine-and-a-half minutes to go before hanging on for a famous win to rival any of their great performances of the pre-AFLW era.

Williamstown's Sofi Georgas is wrapped up by Darebin players during the round one VFLW match at LaTrobe University on February 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

And it was their experienced players who led the way, with Western Bulldogs recruit Angelica Gogos best on ground with 24 disposals, seven clearances, 10 tackles and a goal, veteran Nicole Callinan had 21, six clearances, six tackles and a goal and Gena Lawson-Tavan contributed 18 touches and five tackles and youngster Katelyn Hazlett laid nine tackles in a strong display.

Returning star Sharnie Whiting was outstanding at centre half-back for Williamstown, pulling in five marks and mopping up with 20 kicks, fellow recruit Bridie Kennedy had 18 possessions, reigning best-and-fairest winner Ruby Tripodi 16, nine tackles and five clearances and Alana Sarec dominated the ruck with 30 hitouts, but the Seagulls would be bitterly disappointed to have let the game slip after such a strong start.

ESSENDON 15.8 (98) def WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 (0)

ESSENDON blasted the Western Bulldogs off the park at The Hangar, completing the third shutout in the rebel VFLW’s short history.

The Bombers kicked easily their highest score while keeping the undermanned Bulldogs scoreless, conceding just nine inside 50s as their domination was also highlighted by lopsided numbers in disposals (323-189) and marks (74-42).

Casey held Williamstown scoreless (59-0) on May 8 last year, while Seaford shut Knox out 77-0 in the competition’s inaugural 2016 season.

In what was Essendon’s first head-to-head victory over the Bulldogs in the VFLW, the Bombers’ topped their previous best score and lowest score conceded, both set in an 11.12 (78) to 0.1 (1) win over Williamstown in 2019.

They had winners everywhere, with co-captain and Lambert-Pearce medallist Georgia Nanscawen and Brisbane recruit Jordan Zanchetta doing the heavy lifting under the packs with 28 disposals and seven tackles apiece, while Geelong signing Renee Tierney (24, nine marks, two goals), Grace Dicker (22), best and fairest Eloise Ashley-Cooper (20), Sarah Ford (19) and Courtney Ugle (19) all got plenty of the ball and Marianna Anthony backed up her 19 disposals with 11 tackles.

The goals were shared around, with Jessie Davies, Natalie MacDonald and Cecilia McIntosh booting three each and Eleanor Cornish and Tierney two apiece.

Lucy Schneider (21, six marks) and Eliza Vale (20, seven marks) were terrific for the Bulldogs, Mikayla Barnes laid eight tackles and Brooke Hards six, while Jaimee-Lee Morrow won the ruck battle with 25 hitouts and six clearances.

CASEY DEMONS 5.5 (35) def PORT MELBOURNE 4.1 (25)

CASEY produced the other great comeback of the day, powering over the top of Port Melbourne by 10 points at Casey Fields.

The Demons were goalless at half-time and still trailed by 10 points at the final change but Maeve Chaplin kicked two goals in eight minutes to put them in front before Alison Dowler’s second sealed an impressive first-up victory with 75 seconds to go.

Krstel Petrevski was Casey’s best with 19 disposals and 10 tackles in a terrific display, former Cat Olivia Purcell led all comers with 20 possessions, Alexandra Kirkwood was ferocious at the contest with 12 tackles and Georgia Campbell laid six and had seven clearances.

Sophie Molan was the Borough’s best with 17 disposals and 14 tackles, Courtney Bromage also stuck 14 tackles and Sophie Locke had 15 touches and kicked two goals, while Olivia Barton started well on her 21st birthday before finishing with 12 and a goal and Bridie Winbanks had 17 hitouts to Bianca Lenarcic’s 16 against her former team.

GEELONG 11.7 (73) def CARLTON 2.2 (14)

GEELONG broke all its records against Carlton in a crushing 59-point triumph at Deakin University.

The Cats’ previous best score against the Blues was 8.3 (51), its biggest win was 33 points and its lowest score conceded was 4.7 (31), with all comprehensively beaten as they laid down an early marker on the season.

The 2021 grand finalists kicked clear from the outset, conceded just one behind in the first half and finishing strongly with four majors in the last term for an early percentage boost.

Paige Sheppard was sensational in the middle for Geelong, racking up 26 disposals, 10 clearances and five tackles, with Tamara Smith (20, 12 tackles, seven clearances) not far behind.

Ruck Olivia Barber gave the Blues nightmares, pulling in nine marks and kicking three goals to go with 12 hitouts, key forward Claudia Gunjaca booted 2.3 and Sachi Degiacomi and Mia Skinner also kicked two.

Carlton struggled to get its hands on the ball, with Maddy Guerin (16, six tackles) and Millie Klingbeil (15) leading its stats sheet, while Imogen Milford, Vanessa Murphy and debutant Jessica Stramandinoli had seven tackles each.

COLLINGWOOD 1.3 (9) lost to SOUTHERN SAINTS 4.5 (29)

COLLINGWOOD’S tilt at breaking the record for most consecutive wins in the rebel VFLW competition came to a crashing halt in the opening round when the Southern Saints stunned the Magpies by 20 points at Victoria Park on Sunday.

The Magpies had won their previous 18 matches and not tasted defeat since falling to the Western Bulldogs in the 2019 second semi-final, winning that year’s premiership and qualifying for last year’s abandoned Grand Final undefeated.

They had also won four consecutive games against the Saints dating back to May 5, 2019, but they were never in the contest as the Saints kicked two unanswered goals in the first term and never looked back to ensure Darebin’s 2016 20-match winning streak remained the competition’s best.

Despite only kicking two goals after quarter-time themselves, the visitors held Collingwood to just one behind in the first half and only one major for the game – the second lowest score in the Magpies’ history and the lowest at their spiritual home.

The main destroyer for Southern was a former Magpie in Grace Buchan, who dominated with 25 disposals and five marks, with strong support coming from Jacqui Vogt (22, five marks, eight tackles), Gabriella De Angelis (21 and a goal) and Sarah Black, who had 21 hitouts on debut against the double team of Sarah King (15) and Grace Matser (11).

Experienced pair Katie Lee and Nicola Hales did their best to keep Collingwood in the game with former St Kilda Shark Lee having 23 disposals, seven marks and six tackles in an impressive performance, while Hales compiled 21 touches and six marks.

Youngster Elisabeth Jackson (20 disposals, five tackles, four clearances) was also good, while Marla Neal (eight tackles) and Matilda Zander (seven) also worked hard.

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.1 (13) lost to HAWTHORN 10.12 (72)

HAWTHORN joined Essendon in starting its final build-up to its AFLW debut by crushing North Melbourne by 59 points at Aegis Park (Arden St).

Taylor Moss kicked the first goal of the game for the Kangaroos inside two minutes but the Hawks didn’t take long to get the reply through Casey recruit Mietta Kendall and were largely untroubled from there, despite kicking six behinds in a row either side of quarter-time.

Hawthorn led by 19 points at half-time and held the home team scoreless after the main break while adding 6.4 of its own, winning the inside-50 count by a dominant 48-11 to take top spot on the ladder at the end of the opening round.

Ruck Tegan Cunningham was outstanding for the visitors, with 25 disposals making her the only player with 20 or more in the game – and she added seven marks, six tackles, 12 hitouts and five clearances for good measure.

Kendall booted three goals in a new forward role after being used in defence at the Demons and captain Tamara Luke finished with 2.4 from a round-high nine marks, while Lauren Szigeti (19, six clearances) also performed well.

Sarah Skinner was the best of the Kangaroos in a low-possession game, having 16 and six tackles, with former Magpie Jennifer Guy getting 15 and seven tackles and Elizabeth McGrath taking six marks and having 16 hitouts.