They've come within striking distance before, but the Women's Premier Division title is finally heading to the Wollongong Lions in 2022.
In a tough encounter that was heavily impacted by rain, the Lions capped a superb AFL South Coast campaign by outclassing Figtree Saints at North Dalton Park on Saturday. Teenager Lola Sossai's three-goal haul proved the difference, as Ben Hyndes's side prevailed by 5.3 (26) to 1.0 (6).
It was an extra sweet win for the Lions, who got close to being premiers in 2018, before falling to Bomaderry by two points in the decider.
"It feels excellent. I think the conditions were pretty unfavourable today for clean, easy marks and kicks, but we managed to keep that pressure going," Lions captain/president Samantha Walker said.
"It's been an interrupted season across the board, but it's really good to get the win."
It was a tough slog from the outset, with neither team looking to give their opponents an inch. Players were fearless in their tackling and it was tough to gain territory advantage.
The Lions looked the more likely to score during the early stages, but could only a muster a point. The reward came with five minutes left in the term, when 17-year-old Sossai scrambled one home. Sossai was able to muster her second goal 90 seconds later as the Lions grabbed a 13-point buffer at the first break.
The rain began to tumble in the second term, and with it came the Saints' first goal, with Grace Mewett toeing the ball through. However, that major was quickly cancelled out by a goal to Wollongong's Paige Nancarrow, who kicked truly from a set shot around 15 metres out.
The rest of the quarter turned out to be a hard battle, as players fought in the tough weather conditions. The goal-scoring drought continued for the remainder of the second, with the Lions taking a 3.2 (20) to 1.0 (6) advantage into the main break.
The stretch without goals continued into the third quarter, as the players continued to scrap for possession and territory. It proved to be a goalless term, with the Lions keeping their 14-point advantage in tact at the final break.
Any hopes of a Figtree comeback were snuffed out midway through the last quarter when Sossai booted her third goal to extend Wollongong's lead. Elicia Parrot's major with four minutes left proved the icing on the cake, as the Lions ran out winners by 27 points.
"It was tough. I think in hindsight that the wet weather probably didn't favour us, it just congested it and we couldn't get any clear footy in space," Figtree coach Brad Martin said.
"But well done to the Lions, they thoroughly deserved it. They've been the frontrunners all year."
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