Melton Centrals will be better for the experience after losing their AFL Goldfields Women’s qualifying final against East Point on Sunday.
With many in the side playing in their first season, playing a final was something new.
It was the Kangaroos who were the better side on the day, winning 7.9 (51)-0.3 (3) after leading by 17 points at half-time.
Centrals coach Ray Martin said he was proud of his players.
He said they had been confident going into the game after having beaten the Kangaroos earlier in the season.
“It was a pretty physical match,” he said. “They had two periods of play which saw them score three goals and two goals. We had a lot of the ball down there, but we weren’t able to put the score on the board.”
Martin said his side was nervous before the game and that showed at times during the match.
He said that after swapping notes with the East Point coach, it was clear the two sides had different levels of experience.
He said a lot of the Kangaroos’ top players who missed the first game between the two sides had returned.
“They’ve had three years with the same squad and it hasn’t changed much,” said Martin of East Point.
“I have a lot of new players – there’s 10 new girls in my side that have never played before.
“We haven’t been together for even 12 months. For me, they were all brilliant.”
Martin said Kate Saleta was the Centrals’ best, while Nicole Martin was given Centrals’ best-on-ground award by the opposition.
Martin said he was hopeful that the side would learn from the loss for its knock-out semi-final at home against Gisborne on Sunday.
He said they would be taking a degree of confidence into the game – the last time the two teams met, Gisborne won by 16 points.
Gisborne won through to the semi-final by beating Bacchus Marsh in the elimination final by four points.
“There’s still a lot of learning for the group,” Martin said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better year, even if we don’t win another game.
“We still think we can win this week and we’re still in with a good shot.”
East Point will play Redan in the other final, with a grand final spot on the line.
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