By ED BOURKE,
Local sports editor
A first-time winner will be crowned in the third season of the VAFA Premier Women’s football competition, with West Brunswick to battle Old Trinity in Sunday’s preliminary final for a spot in the season decider against St Kevin’s.
West Brunswick’s nail biting five-point victory over 2017 champions Marcellin in the first semi-final last week has set the stage for a new premier, with reigning premier Melbourne University missing out on finals action.
First division newcomers West Brunswick have been no strangers to finals football over the past two years, twice claiming the minor premiership and winning their first semi-final only to fall short at the final hurdle.
Magpies coach Josh Melican said his side would still prefer to have already secured a spot in the Grand Final despite their record.
“You always want that security of a top-two finish, but we are really proud to be playing finals straight away after coming up this season,” he said.
“We feel that we can match it with any side in the comp when we are playing our best footy.”
The performances of Big V squad members Yolanda Jones and Grace McPherson will be important in combating a powerful Old Trinity side, who won their last encounter by 45 points, but Melican said others were capable of stepping up when required.
“We have really good depth through the whole group- our backline unit were terrific against Marcelin, they really stood up,” he said.
Preliminary final favourites Old Trinity rode into the finals series on the back of five consecutive high-scoring victories, with Amanda Fogarty (20 goals), Georgia Stewart (13) and Ruby Long (10) forming a potent attack this season.
However the “Ts” were shut down in the second semi-final by St Kevin’s, who have kept them to just 29 points in their last two encounters.
Star St Kevin’s midfielder Bree Doyle said the Saints’ playing group had learnt from their heartbreaking Grand Final loss in 2017, where they were beaten by Marcellin after cruising into the decider with a 14-1 record and a whopping percentage of 501.
“I think we’re a bit more grounded this season, in 2017 in a sense we went in thinking we had already won,” Doyle said.
“We know that anyone can turn up and beat you in women’s football if you aren’t playing your best footy, but I think we are peaking at the right time this season.”
Doyle is confident of returning from a foot injury in time for the Grand Final, joining a strong midfield group led by Ali Hynes and Margaret Gleeson.
Old Trinity and West Brunswick will meet tomorrow, Sunday August 11, at 2.30pm at Elsternwick Park, with the winner to meet St Kevin’s in the Grand Final on August 18 at the same venue.