By Grace Knight
After a spectacular season, the Bull Sharks senior women’s dream of a premiership has come to a close following an unfortunate 46-16 loss against the Southport Sharks in the QAFLW preliminary final on Saturday.
With home ground advantage, it was a high intensity game for the Bull Sharks as they ferociously fought to stay in the match, however, the casualty list from across the season eventually took its toll.
After a lot of back-and-forth turnovers, the Bull Sharks scored their first goal halfway through the first quarter.
Despite an unfamiliar team with numerous reserves players stepping up as injury replacements, the Bull Sharks worked well together and became progressively more comfortable in their play as the game progressed.
The Bull Sharks put up a considerable fight with their strong backline overturning plenty of ball, however with Southport’s strong attack the hosts struggled to convert their opportunities in the forward line.
In the dying stages of the match, the Bull Sharks secured an impressive break to score the final major of the game.
With the Bull Sharks backline under constant pressure, key players included halfback Caitlin Thorne who proved untiring in her ability to overturn the ball.
Midfielder, Georgia Hutton took some great intercepts, while midfield pocket-rocket Courtney Sexton put it all on the line as she worked tirelessly across the board.
Full-forward Gabrielle Deller was also resilient against Southport’s testing defence, as she managed a number of great tackles to keep the ball in the Bull Sharks forward line.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Bull Sharks finished the 2022 season in third place on the ladder, which is an valiant effort given their unfortunate run of injuries over the latter half of the season.
The women’s reserves have kept alive their premiership hopes with a 17-10 win over Coorparoo. They will now face the Southport Sharks in the grand final at Brisbane's Leyshon Park.
After gaining some experience in the senior’s level, the reserves players who stepped up will now have their chance to help with their team bring home the flag.
WHAT THEY SAID
Despite being disheartened by the loss, head coach Luke Mansbridge remains proud of the Bull Shark’s valiant season as a whole.
“The players were pretty disappointed for the game to unfold the way it did, but in the end, we’ve had a really great year of football,” he said.
“We’ve had a great group this year, honestly the best group I’ve had. It is disappointing that we finished the way we did, but they really kept fighting all the way to the end, and that is all you can really ask for as a coach.”
He's now looking forward to this week’s final training sessions as the Bull Sharks come together to support the reserves heading into their grand final.
“For those reserves players who stepped up as injury replacements, this was a great opportunity for them to gain some experience in the senior’s league, and it should serve them well heading into this weekend,” he said.
IN OTHER GAMES
The senior men posted an unfortunate loss to Ballina 43-31 after coming unstuck in the final quarter at Fripp Oval in northern New South Wales.
A much better result for the men's reserves who thumped Ballina 97-7, putting them in a strong position as they head into the critical end of the season.