Bendigo Thunder advance to NFLW grand final against Diamond Creek

On-baller Kerryn Harrington was the Bendigo Thunder's best in their preliminary final win on Sunday.
On-baller Kerryn Harrington was the Bendigo Thunder's best in their preliminary final win on Sunday.

BENDIGO Thunder are itching for another crack at Diamond Creek after winning their way through to next weekend’s NFLW division one grand final.

The Thunder defeated VU Western Spurs by 19 points in Sunday’s preliminary final at Preston City Oval.

They advanced to their second consecutive grand final by securing a 4.8 (32) to 2.1 (13) victory.

The Thunder will meet their semi-final nemesis Diamond Creek in next weekend’s premiership decider.

They were well served by on-ballers Kerryn Harrington and Tiahna Cochrane and their skipper Leah French, who split time in the middle of the ground and across half back.

Coach Cherie O’Neill praised her team’s backline, with Michelle Barkla across half back, vice-captain Jac Louttit and Bonnie Peers consistently repelling attacks and rebounding strongly.

“Overall the girls played a lot better as a team this week – they were a lot more focused and the vibe before the game was a lot better,” she said.

“The girls went out and really played for each other.

“The backline was very solid. The ball got down there a fair bit, but it just kept coming back out.

“The Spurs are a good side, they really made us work for the ball and had good numbers in and out.”

One likely focus during the week for the Thunder will be cleaning up their work in front of goal after they booted eight points but just four goals.

“We had the ball down in our forward line quite a bit but struggled to convert,” O’Neill said.

“Goal kicking and kicking under pressure is the key.

“We need to get the girls to settle a bit and not spend it before they have got it so to speak.”

O’Neill said bouncing back from a disappointing loss to earn another crack at Diamond Creek had provided her players with plenty of motivation on Sunday.

“If the girls come and play like they did today (Sunday), I think we are a really good show.

“We’re all looking for payback.”

Next week’s grand final will be played at Preston City Oval at 1.30pm on Sunday.

Match details

Bendigo Thunder 4.8 (32) defeated VU Western Spurs 2.1 (13).

Goals: Amanda Carrod, Tiahna Cochrane, Leah French, Kodi Jacques.

Best: Kerryn Harrington, Leah French, Michelle Barkla, Jac Louttit, Tiahna Cochrane, Bonnie Pearson, Kodi Jacques.