In season 2022, the Women’s Division Two side made Pennant Hills club history becoming the first Demon Women’s side to win the Minor Premiership and then to be crowned Premiers by winning the Grand Final at Henson Park on Father’s Day, Sunday 4 September 2022.
Grand Final: Pennant Hills 3.3-21 defeated Penrith Rams 3.1-19
During the home and away season the two grand finalists had played each other 3 times, in round 6 (Penno won by 37 pts), round 13 (Penno by 46 pts) and round 17 (Penrith by 18 pts). Penno finished minor premiers 2 games clear of second placed Randwick Saints. Penrith finished third, 4 games behind the Demons.
In the Qualifying Final Penno thumped the Saints 51 – nil and earned a week-off before the Grand Final in a fortnight’s time. Penrith qualified with respectable wins over South West Sydney Blues (15 pts) and Randwick Saints (10 pts) in the preliminary final. All of this put together meant that Penno were ‘warm’ premiership favourites.
This season, AFL Sydney collaborated with Sportscast Australia to live stream the Match of the Day for each round throughout the season including all Grand Finals. The following story is a written description of the Women’s Division Two Grand Final based on the author’s own observations on the day, re-watching the match video but also inspired by the commentary of David Redden and Lucas Holmes. Without a screen on the day, the commentators called the game “Au Naturale!”
In spite of a forecast for persistent rain, the day turned out to be “clear overhead, but damp underfoot” due to rain from the previous day. The overnight rain resulted in slippery conditions and “… nearside, the ground was very wet …” with mud on the goal lines and in the interchange areas.
There was a brisk sou’wester blowing into the left hand corner pocket at the scoreboard end. “It was blustery outside.”
All the Penno players looked resplendent with hair tied up with ribbons and/or scrunchies of red and blue, the Club colours. The team looked confident and ready to go!
Penrith won the toss and opted to kick with the wind and “Penno were running to the right,” into the stiff breeze!
First in the ruck for Penno was Emma Richards (#19) and she was up against a very able and nimble opponent, Ammie Vamah (#13), who was clearly one of the Rams best players. There was no clearance from the first bounce and it took more than two minutes before the ball was finally kicked; a free kick to Penrith’s Brielle Daines (#9).
Shortly thereafter, Kelly Chapman (#12) took the first mark and kick for Penno. After more than 3 minutes the ball “had hardly moved more than 20 metres” in either direction.
It was obvious from the early going that the match would be a tight contest with both sides very effective at shutting down their opponents forward play. With both teams evenly matched in the mid-field, combined with the slippery conditions, the match became a scrappy affair with both sides struggling to string multiple possessions together. The game became a sprawling melee with continuous stoppages, ball-ups and throw-ins. Neither side was able to dominant and scoring was difficult.
The advice from the commentators was that “players should kick off the ground in these conditions!”
The Rams got the first inside 50 entry and Penno’s Emily Lewis (#11) and Amy Court (#10) combined to clear the danger. Sophia Wall (#25) received Penno’s first free kick for a high tackle and Emily Carroll (#6) was responsible for Penno’s first inside 50 entry.
Jodie Llamas (#22) spilt a mark but received a free kick for being held without the ball “… a tug of the jumper”. She had the first shot on goal from 25 out, “… normally not a tough kick but with this breeze she’ll have to flush it!” The kick dropped short and was marked on the goal line by Ashleigh Grubba (#15) who kicked the first goal for the game. After 6 minutes, Penno led 1 goal, 6 pts to nil.
So, against the wind, it was Penno that kicked the first goal of the match. Ashleigh Grubba had kicked the first of her two goals, this one against the wind from the goal square.
From the restart, the Rams won the clearance, Sophia Wall ran down an opponent and earned a freekick. The Rams second inside 50 was “their first realistic chance for a score.” No score resulted.
The commentator’s advice to the team kicking with the wind was simply to “get that ball up in the air, just kick long.”
“Another inside 50 for Penrith … starting to work their way back into it.” There’s a “big pack of players, trying to wrestle out of the contest,” but the ball gets stuck “in that mud patch” and “you’d have to be Houdini to get it out of there.” 8 mins gone.
Penno’s Tamika Sutton (#24) switches to the ruck to give Richards a break.
Madison Fleming (#2) received a relieving free kick from deep in defence.
Penrith’s captain Ainsley Jones (#30) marked inside the Ram’s forward 50, “working the ball back on the breeze, she had the distance but it went left” for Rams first score, a behind. Penno 6 – 1. 12.45 minutes gone.
From a Rams free kick, Penno’s fullback Lisa Maynard (#18) took a timely defensive mark. It was a mark or a free kick for a block, going by the “umpire with her arms in the crucifix position!” Call it a mark I reckon.
A clearing kick from Tamika Sutton went to Natalie Morrow (#17) who got caught holding the ball on the wing. Around the 16 minute mark, Penno’s Jesse Smith (#8) received a free for high contact. She kicked to Emily Phelps (#3) who marked on the wing.
Penrith intercepted once more. “It’s just been one of those quarters, not much open football!”
Fleming to Tielman to Grubba who shot from 40 out but the ball went over the boundary line “deep in the corner pocket.” Penrith cleared the ball from the throw-in and then the siren for the end of the first quarter sounded at 18.44 minutes.
Crucially, Penno’s dour defence in the first quarter kept the Rams goal-less, restricting them to only 1 behind.
Score after first quarter:
Pennant Hills Demons 1.0-6 led Penrith Rams 0.1-1 (lead by 5 pts).
“We come back to Henson Park and the wind’s still blowing and it’s still cold, very wintery conditions in September. Penno with the ascendancy, a five point lead.”
In the second quarter it was Penno’s turn to kick with the wind and they were rewarded with an early goal at the 2 ½ minute mark. This was Ashleigh Grubba’s second major and, together with an earlier behind, took Penno’s margin out to 12 pts. Penno held the Rams goal-less in the first half.
From the first bounce, the ball made its way towards Penno’s goals. But inside the first minute a Rams player received a free kick for a throw/incorrect disposal.
At around the 2 minute mark, Penno’s Steph Martin (#1) received a holding free kick on centre wing. Moments later another free to Penno, this time to Emily Lewis (#11) “… adjacent to the centre square. She kicked a low driving ball inside 50, a chance for Pennant Hills … that was Grubba who’s kick bounced through for a behind and Penno lead by one straight kick! (2.41 mins gone). The kick-in ended with Grubba again and she played on, running across the field at an angle to about 25 m out and snapped the ball over her left shoulder and kicked her second goal ‘’just sneaking inside the left goal post and Ash Grubba is … putting her imprint on the game.’’ The girls get around her and Penno now leads 2.1-13 to 01.1, a 2 goal lead. 3.15 gone.
“The Demons are away here and we’ll have to see what Penrith will do in response and they’ll need it quickly!”
“Away we go again, back to the middle,” and after a secondary ball-up Jesse Smith (#8) received a free-kick “… the emergency umpire making his way down here … there must have been a problem at the right hand end of the ground?”
“There’s a rather large contingent” of Penno supporters says Lucas Holmes, but according to Dave Redden “… it’s a massive contingent beneath us!”
At 5.30 min, Penrith kicked into their forward 50 but the wind takes the ball OB “you can see the breeze just push that ball over the boundary … this is why all of the football this weekend has been played on the nearside of the ground … which helps us with our commentary!”
Lisa Maynard took the free kick which was marked by Ram’s Daines on centre wing. “Vamah back on the ground, I didn’t think it would take too long, as Penrith need her physical presence.”
At around the 6 min mark, Penno’s Emily Phelps (#3) is the victim of a “sling tackle” and received a free kick still on centre wing. Moments later she received another free for a high tackle.
Again, “… it’s just tight football.”
At 8 ½ min, Penrith worked the ball into their forward 50, then their captain, Jones, got caught holding the ball “… with absolutely no prior opportunity …” and Emily Lewis, took the free and cleared for Penno.
The Ram’s Vamah was tackled high and kicked the free to centre half forward. The ball hit the deck and in the ensuing melee one of the Ram’s fell into Madison Fleming’s back and Penno received another relieving free kick. 9.50 gone.
Fleming’s short kick to Amy Court (#10) “… and that’s dangerous because she is one of the prime movers …” for Penno. Court handballed back to Fleming on the overlap and she kicked into the middle. Then “Morrow got the kick away and cleared the area …” into open space. Natalie Morrow (#17) followed through, kicking off the ground and gaining another 30 m. The ball went OB for a throw-in. 10.35 gone.
From the throw-in Richards handballed back to Court who hoisted the ball inside 50 towards the dead pocket. As Morrow took possession she was tackled and did not dispose correctly and was penalised. The ball went through the hands of several Ram’s players and was back in the centre. Bursting through the pack Alexandra Williams (#14) “out-muscled” her opponents and once again got the ball going forward for Penno. 11.45 gone.
Penrith then forced the ball forward and a ball-up on their forward 50m. Amy Court in a one-on-one with Ram’s Tamara Mossfield (#24), got penalised for a push in the back but the commentators reckon it was “shoved off the ball was Mossfield, but hang on a second, that was so in the side.” Court stood the mark with her hands on her hips! The ball was then centred but an easy uncontested mark was fumbled by a Ram’s player and Steph Martin cleared the loose ball. Her kick was gathered by Eliza McDonald (#16) and Penno cleared their defensive 50 by hand. 13.30 min.
Another ball-up, and the play gets stuck at half-forward for Penrith. At around the 15 minute mark, it’s another ball-up just inside Penrith’s 50. Penno’s “Richards has rucked almost unchanged so far” and “has been winning her fair share” of the ruck contests. She’s had to contend with Vamah and Lauren Russell (#27), the opposition rucks.
Danielle Cahill (#23) and Penrith’s Charlotte White (#39) wrestle for the ball; another ball-up! Richards gets blocked in the ruck contest and has the chance to clear for Penno once again with a free kick. The ball came to Penno’s Brighid Tielman (#13) who received a free for “over the shoulder”, “right on the point of the square”. One of the longest kicks for the day so far landed in the arms of Tamika Sutton. Sutton sitting over the back marked and “they’ve gotta get it going now as Grubba is on her own out the back, if they can get it to her.” “On the counter, this is Nash, 40m out, she plays-on and kicks a low driving ball that goes through for a minor score.” At the 16 minute mark, Penno 2.2-14 lead the Rams 0.1-1, by 13 points.
From the kick-in Penrith work the ball back to the centre. “Another big pack of players and the umpire calls for a ball-up”. 17.42 gone in the “dying embers of the second quarter.” Sophia Wall then burst from the pack and the ball was back in Penno’s forward 50.
From a throw-in Penrith worked the ball forward through the centre. A free kick was marked by Mossfield on centre wing. She chipped to teammate Kristyn Baker (#5) who marked still outside the 50m. 19.20 gone.
In a “heavy contest” Sophia Wall impacted Ram’s Emma Nolan (#2) with a high fend and they briefly wrestle “going on with it a bit off the ball.”
“They’re all having a red hot dip today, it’s been good, clean football.”
In the dying moments, the Ram’s Vamah received a free kick and “they’ve gotta move quickly, Penrith, it’s in to red time now.”
And, “… that would be the 30th ball-up so far, at least!”
In the final passage of play to close out the second quarter, Penno’s fullback Maynard took an intercept mark in the back pocket “deep in defence” to repel the Rams once again. Jamie Regoli (#5) took an excellent contested mark on the wing … “how good a kick was that?” Dave Redden asks.
At 21.40 minute mark the half-time siren sounds.
Score at half-time:
Pennant Hills Demons 2.2-14 led Penrith Rams 0.1-1 (lead by 13 pts).
In the third term the Rams made the most of the wind, kicking long at every opportunity. From the first bounce of the 3rd quarter, the Rams cleared the centre and landed their first goal for the game in less than 30 seconds without the Demons touching the ball. Then a minute later, the Rams kicked their second goal and all of a sudden Penno was on the defensive and it’s lead had been reduced to one point (14 – 13 pts).
With “Wolfmother playing in the background”, the second half got underway.
Tamika Sutton took the first bounce for Penno against the Ram’s Vamah.
In the prophetic words of commentator Lucas Holmes “we’ll see what Penrith can do early here, they need something!” From the opening bounce Vamah punched the ball forward into the path of Campisi (#35) who grabbed the ball and kicked it forward, all in the same movement. With the wind behind, the ball sailed over the pack and landed in the hands of Mossfield (#24) who slotted it through from the top of the goal square. Penrith kicked their first goal for the match after only 22 seconds into the second half. “And just like that, the Rams go bang” and they’re back in the contest. Penno by 7 pts. “Talk about a fast start … an epic start to the 3rd quarter!.”
From the restart, Vamah received a free for holding and kicked a “long, LONG, LOONG” bomb into the Rams attacking 50. After a couple of ball-ups 30 from goal, Penrith got a “huge kick away, way up in the air” that landed in the goal square after Lisa Maynard swatted the ball away from the goal face. It was one-on-one for the loose ball and Manuel (#19) was able to unceremoniously push Maynard off balance on to her knees and then swooped on the ball “can she stay calm, yes she can” and slotted it through from close range … “Penrith have come out charged up.” And Penno’s half-time lead has been quickly cutback to 1 point inside the first two minutes of the 2nd half. “What a turnaound!”
Penrith won a third consecutive centre clearance and the pressure was once again on the Demon defenders. Penrith threatened the goal again but this time Maynard got a relieving free kick for an “illegal tackle” … maybe she was a little lucky!
“The tackling has been just so intense, it’s been hard to get open pasture here today” and “the wind is still playing havoc!”
“Penrith are taking advantage of this strong breeze” and “Pennant Hills are again under enormous pressure … under siege at the moment.” 5 minutes gone.
Back on centre wing Emily Lewis (#11) gets a free kick and momentarily forgets which way the Demons are running.
At 7 ½ minutes the Demons kick out on the full and the kick back into play lands in the ‘’hot spot’’, 30 out from the Ram’s goal.
At 8 ½ minutes McDonald (#16) gets a free kick from her ‘’secondary tackle’’ of Daines. Penno gets its first inside 50 entry after more than 8 minutes ‘’a stoppage for the Demons at centre half forward and they would love to get another goal against the breeze.’’
At 11 ½ minutes, ‘’Penno are just a bit slow at the moment … they need to get more dynamism in their play.‘’
Carroll received a free kick for a throw by a Rams player and then a 50 m penalty brought her to just outside 50 ‘’exactly what the demons needed!’’ Nothing came from this forward entry.
16 minutes gone, Penno still up by 1 pt.
Penrith worked the ball back into their attacking 50. Penno’s ‘’Court is back out there, harassing with the tackle.’’
The ball is stuck inside Penno’s defensive 50 and they’re grimly defending. From a bounce about 15 m out, Belle Campisi (#35) ‘’bursting through off a step … oh she’s kicked it … she’s done it’ and put Penrith in front for the first time. Almost 18 minutes gone. ‘’Red time goals are killers!’’ Penrith by 5 pts.
In the dying moments Penno’s Grubba is held while not in possession. Taking the free kick, she is ‘’too far out to score’, and plays on, chipping the kick forward to the hot spot but a high tackle allows the Rams to clear the ball away from the danger zone.
The three quarter siren sounds at around 20 minutes of play.
So, late in the term the Rams had kicked a third goal to lead by 5 pts at the final break and Penno had been held scoreless for the quarter. Such was the influence of the wind.
Pennant Hills Demons 2.2-14 trail Penrith Rams 3.1-19 (5 pts deficit).
So, at the start of the final term Penno were behind by 5 pts but were by no means defeated.
In spite of the turnaround in the score, Penno were coming home with the wind at its back and were well placed to take the lead back in the final term. The Rams weren’t having any of that though and the dour struggle continued for the rest of the match. Penno’s defence and rebound was excellent and prevented any further score by the Rams.
There was no scoring until around the 8 ½ minute mark when Penno at last were able to run the ball into goal-scoring distance and Bela Nash (#21) kicked the Demon’s third goal, taking back a one point lead. The Demon fans behind the goals were ecstatic and rose as one with arms in the air and cheering wildly.
However, with more than half the quarter still to play, there were many anxious moments ahead as the tide of the play shifted back and forth from one end to the other. Both sides were struggling to get the ball into a scoring position as the scrimmage and stoppages continued to dominate the play.
Late in the final quarter, from a defensive mark, followed by a 50 metre penalty to Penno, eventually saw the ball back in the Penno scoring zone. Then Natalie Morrow received a free kick for a high tackle about 15 metres out that resulted in a minor score and Penno’s lead was now 2 points.
There were more anxious moments as the game came to an agonisingly slow finish for Penno and its fans. The siren eventually sounded after 21 minutes and Penno had clung onto its 2 point lead. The players were jubilant and a large crowd of Penno supporters invaded the pitch to share in this historic moment … the first women’s premiership for Penno!
‘Welcome back to Henson Park at Marrickville.
Penrith are already out there and they’re confident, however they will be defending against this breeze.
Pennant Hills have gotta find a way to kick a couple of goals, they need to find a way forward. They’ve gotta run, and dare and carry as they were just off the pace in the third quarter.
Penrith lifted the intensity rating massively and Pennant Hills were lucky to have only given 3 goals away.
It’s breezy, cold and the ground is drying by the minute. And, it’s all on the line in the Division Two Grand Final.’
Emma Richards was back in the ruck for the first bounce of the final quarter.
‘’Wall’s in there, they need her feistiness.’’
From a free kick, Penrith kicked the ball inside their attacking 50 and Mossfield marked on the edge of the arc. Too far out to score, she’s two kicks from goal. A stoppage closer to goals resulted from the kick. Penno hung on grimly before Wall burst away, ‘’using that right hand fend again!’’.
The ball went out in front of Penno’s interchange. “Wall and the Rams Brewer are going toe to toe.’
‘’The ball gets spat out of the blender.’’
From a throw-in, Emily Lewis gets pinned for ‘third man/player in’ and Penrith take the free kick from centre wing. Lewis was unlucky as the throw-in had drifted with the wind into her path.
From the free kick Amy Court took possession of the ball, ‘bursting through the middle she unloads the barrell’ and the ball finds its way into Penno’s forward 50 for the first time this quarter.
Lewis grabbed a loose ball and kicked to the hotspot. Amy Court kicked another inside 50. At the 4 ½ mark, Penno’s Nash breaks from the front of the pack, gives a handball to McDonald, who gives it out to a player running by. The kick went across the face of the goal and the Rams defender in a ‘one-on-one just palmed it across the boundary’’ … deliberate maybe, but not given?
Six minutes in and the contest is at the top of the goal square right in front the goals for Penno. Penrith took a relieving intercept mark.
Penno was keeping the pressure up and the ball was back in the hot spot for the Demons once again.
McDonald contested a secondary ball-up, the ball got punched into the middle, Nash collected the ball, took a couple of steps to steady and then popped the ball through the goal … ‘’Nash, Nash, NAAASH!’’
A sizeable crowd of Penno supporters were standing behind the Penno goals and they rose up in one huge cheer as the ball floated through the goal. Penno had grabbed back a 1 point lead, 20-19. ‘’Penno have got the reward from getting the ball up their end and it’s now advantage Pennant Hills!‘ ’That was the goal that Penrith did not want!’’. ‘’They need a point to get extra time.’
From the re-start, Penno was penalised for a centre square infringement and the Rams Vamah took the free kick for Penrith. Tielman appeared to mark the kick at the top of Penrith’s forward 50. The mark wasn’t paid, the kick must have been touched, and then Tielmen got penalised for holding the ball. “YOU’RE JOKING’ exclaimed Lucas Holmes in disbelief! The kick went inside 50 and ‘’now it’s pressure from Penrith.’’ Penno cleared and the ball went out over the boundary on the nearside wing.
‘’It’s hot in the kitchen I’m telling you … 7:20 to go.’
Mossfield received a free kick just outside Penrith’s forward 50, ‘two kicks from goal’’ and they need a score. Easthope (#22) marked “25 out, harsh angle into the teeth of the wind’” Penrith must at least ‘’rush this through for a behind’’ The ball came almost to the goal-line, hit the ground and Penno defended grimly to prevent any score. “The kick was online, with a lovely little inny but just didn’t get the distance.”
From a throw-in right next to the goals, Penno managed to clear the ball and a kick off the ground took the ball out of harm’s way up to centre wing ‘’… How gooda football was that Lucas, how good was that?’’
A free kick to Penno allows the Demons to go forward.
More time ticks off the clock, 14 ½ minutes gone and Penrith kicked the ball forward again and this time Maynard took a timely mark in the last line. The Penrith player on the mark gave away a 50 metre penalty which brought Maynard to centre wing and she ‘’thumps’’ the ball forward. The ball goes inside 50 and Wall got caught holding the ball. Penrith cleared and the ball got smothered over the line by the Demons. 16 minutes gone.
‘Will Bela Nash’s goal be pivotal in this absorbing Grand Final’
’The level of excitement here is quite amazing!’
Penrith went forward again and ‘this is Penrith’s last chance to score.’
18 minutes gone and a throw-in on centre wing.
‘’They can smell it now, the Demons … minutes away from a premiership!’’
Sutton received a free from a dangerous kick by the opposition and got a 50 metre penalty for ‘’going too close against Baker (#5)’’ This took her maybe to within kicking distance of goal. She squared it up and from the ensuing scrimmage Morrow got pushed in the back and she’s ‘’gotta take her 30 seconds.’’ Her wobbly kick went through for a behind..
From the kick-in, Penrith were desperate and moved the ball quickly to the centre wing on the outer side.
“There can’t be long now?”
“The defence has been desperate from both sides all day.”
Penrith received a free kick for over the shoulder and it’s “last gasp for Penrith.” “And they’ve gotta go …” … a long ball inside 50 should have been marked by a Ram player, but spilled out, and from the ensuing melee Lisa Maynard made what might prove to be a match-winning tackle and earned a free kick.
“What a tackle under pressure, a phenomenal tackle that could have saved them the Grand Final Lucas?’’ Her “great kick” goes 40 or 50 metres.
Penrith got the ball forward one last time and the siren sounded before they had a chance to score. Penno win by 2 pts in a heart-stopper!
The Penno crowd, almost 100 people, stormed the ground to celebrate with the team in rapturous celebration. “Look at them run on, the Pennant Hills crew … this is amazing.!”
From David Redden, “If you wonder, if you think football doesn’t make a difference in people’s lives then just look at what you are seeing everybody. This is just wonderful, look at that Club, that means so much to them. And they’ve just won the Flag, phenomenal!.”
Coach Jed Corbett summed up the game:
“A fantastic show of grit by the girls to come back and win, and an amazing game to watch. Credit to all the girls for such a magnificent season and a premiership to top it off! To finish minor premiers and to then have the pressure to go on and win is a great achievement. It is also the first women’s premiership for Pennant Hills, so it’s a big milestone to have achieved.”
Penno’s Sophia Wall won the match ball for her Best on Ground performance.
Final score: Pennant Hills Demons 3.3-21 defeated Penrith Rams 3.1-19.
History of the Penno Women’s Seconds
Pennant Hills entered its first Women’s team in the Division One competition in 2016. The success of the Demon’s first women’s side and the growing interest in women’s football across the whole country encouraged the Club to add a second women’s side in 2018, which played in the newly created Division Two competition. This team won 8 matches and finished 6th in a field of 13 teams.
On a wave of new recruits, Pennant Hills were able to establish a 3rd women’s team in 2019 and then added a 4th in 2020. During 2019, Pennant Hills successfully applied for elevation to the Women’s Premier Division commencing in 2020. This was a reflection of the League’s determination that all Premier Division clubs should be able to field Senior sides in both Men’s and Women’s, Men’s Reserves and Men’s Under 19 Division One.
|Pennant Hills Seconds Results 2018 – 2022
||Women’s Division Two
||Women’s Division Two
||Women’s Division One
||Women’s Division One
||9th (season cancelled)
||Women’s Division Two
Written & compiled by John Acheson, October 2022
Photo Credits: David Nixon, AFL Sydney