Bombers turn it on late to sink Hawks in battle of expansion teams

ESSENDON has triumphed in the battle of the new Victorian expansion sides, seeing off Hawthorn by 26 points at Marvel Stadium.

The Bombers were the better side for most of the night, looking incredibly threatening inside their forward 50 but lacking that final bit of polish to fully punish the Hawks in the 7.11 (53) to 4.3 (27) victory.

BOMBERS v HAWKS Full match coverage and stats

Hawthorn was well structured around the ground throughout the game, but disposal and decision-making was at times an issue for the fledgling side, who had nine previously listed AFLW players to the Bombers' 14.

AFLW S7 Highlights: Essendon v Hawthorn

05:41 Aug 27. 2022. 10:18 PM

The Bombers and Hawks clash in round one

Dangerous Hawks small forward Zoe Barbakos provided the highlight of the second quarter, running onto an Aileen Gilroy long bomb and wheeling around Ellyse Gamble to snap truly.

Crafty Barbakos drills dazzling major

00:39 Aug 27. 2022. 7:56 PM

The Hawks close the gap with this Zoe Barbakos goal

The Bombers carried a 10-point lead into half-time, having been a touch cleaner going into attack, but struggling to clear the ball when it was in Hawthorn's 50.

The Hawks kicked two quick goals to open the third through Sarah Perkins and Barbakos, drawing level with the inaccurate Bombers, until defender-turned-ruck Dani Marshall set sail with a 45m set shot.

The dam wall burst somewhat in the final minutes of the match, with Georgia Gee's creativity finding fellow ex-Blue Maddy Prespakis and Sophie Alexander also snapping truly.

Alexander strikes gold to add more icing

00:30 Aug 27. 2022. 8:57 PM

Essendon extends its lead with this superb snap on the outside of the boot from Sophie Alexander

Prespakis (26 disposals, six clearances) found a stack of the footy in the middle of the ground, while counterpart Tilly Lucas-Rodd's secondary running efforts caught the eye in her 16 touches.

In her post-match press conference, Bombers coach Natalie Wood said Prespakis had suffered a "severe" corkie in the second half of the team's practice match win over Port Adelaide.

The bullocking midfielder did not train for the ensuing two weeks, and as late as Friday, was "touch and go" to play in the club's first AFLW game.

The overhead marking and sharp kicking of Bombers draftee Paige Scott made it look like she'd been in the AFLW for several years, rather than having turned 18 in April, and former Demons spearhead Tegan Cunningham looked at home in defence for the Hawks. 

Paige Scott celebrates a goal during the R1 clash between Essendon and Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on August 27, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

One for Mum
There wasn't a dry eye in the house following Hawthorn's first goal, both Hawks and Bomber fans alike. Former Port Melbourne forward Sophie Locke's mother passed away two weeks ago due to cancer, and as luck would have it, it was Locke who booted the Hawks' first AFLW major. Earning a free kick in the goalsquare, Locke calmly slotted the goal before kissing her armband, pointing one finger to the sky.

A Wales of a time
Flying somewhat under the radar in the NAB AFLW Draft after Zoe and Lauren Wakfer stole the family headlines, twins Steph and Lucy Wales were drafted to Essendon and Hawthorn, respectively. The pair made their AFLW debuts on Saturday night, and while Lucy didn't take the opening bounce against Steph, the pair went head-to-head plenty of times throughout the night. The Waleses are the second AFLW ruck twins, following Breann and Celine Moody.

Say what?
"I was really proud of our third quarter. Hawthorn were doing some really good things late in the first half and were really challenging us, so our group after half-time were able to change up a few things and wrestled that through the third quarter, which enabled us to get some reward in the fourth." – Essendon coach Natalie Wood

"For three quarters it was neck and neck. We felt our pressure was really at the level we wanted it to be, and it hadn't been probably in the couple of practice matches we had, but it went to a new level tonight. So that's great, part of progress, but the fourth quarter we went into some habits that we probably don't want to see. That's about 12 debutants who haven't played AFLW before, 12 debutants tonight, and that's what they'll learn about what's needed to beat a really good opposition." – Hawthorn coach Bec Goddard

Up next
The Bombers take on another arch-rival when they face Carlton on Sunday at ETU Stadium, while the Hawks will look to record their first win against St Kilda later that same day.

ESSENDON        2.1     3.6     4.9     7.11     (53)
HAWTHORN     1.2      2.2     4.3     4.3     (27)

 Toogood 2, Wuetschner, Scott, Marshall, Prespakis, Alexander
Hawthorn: Barbakos 2, Locke, Perkins

 Prespakis, Scott, Toogood, Vogt, Marshall
Hawthorn: Lucas-Rodd, Luke, Barbakos, Smith, Cunningham

Hawthorn: Nil 

Reports: Nil

Crowd: 12,092 at Marvel Stadium