Sharks hang on

Kiara Rigg kicks goal for Hillside. (Ljubica Vrankovic) 416139_13

Tara Murray

Hillside remains undefeated after coming out on top in its toughest test of the Essendon District Football League women’s premier division season.

It was a battle between the top two sides, with Oak Park making the trip out to Hillside Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

The Sharks had a big win the first time the two teams played, but this one was a lot closer.

Scoring was tough to come by with the wet weather coming into play.

The Sharks were able to convert better in front of goal and it proved to be the difference, winning 3.1 (19)-2.4 (16).

Sharks coach Blaise Ferraro said it was a match that really tested them.

“It was one of the more brutal games we’ve played,” he said. “The conditions weren’t too bad, it was just very physical.

“It was a little bittersweet with a few girls who went down and it doesn’t look good. It was a really gutsy effort.”

Ferraro said with the conditions, skills went out the window and it was a case of who wanted it more.

Neither team scored in the first quarter and Hillside had the only goals on the board at three quarter time.

The Kangaroos came late, kicking their first goals in the final quarter. The Sharks were able to get one late and it was enough to get the win.

Ferraro said the discipline of his group across the whole four quarters was the difference in the end.

“They stuck to the game plan all game.”

It was all single goal kickers for the Sharks.

Ferraro said Hannah Ibrahim, Lisa Parisi, who moved to fullback, and rucks Tiffany Matthewman and Melissa Higgins did an outstanding job with more than 120 stoppages.

He said they would wait to find out how badly injured Nikita Wright is, but Emma Picone is done for the year.

“She’s been vital to us,” he said. “We’ve had four knees for the year, we can’t catch a break.

“We’ve got some depth in the twos and we’ve been able to keep filling the holes.”

The win has the Sharks sitting two games clear at the top of the ladder.

There’s a division wide bye this weekend, which Ferraro said comes at the right time.

“We’ve got a few niggling injuries and some players who are sick,” he said. “We could not have asked for much more from them on the weekend.

“We’ll enjoy the weekend off, they’ve been great throughout the whole year. We’d secured top two for a while now, it’s a huge difference.

“It’s reward for everything everyone has put in.”

In women’s division 1, Burnside Heights went a step closer to locking in top spot.

Facing Greenvale in the top of the table clash, the Bears won, 9.8 (62)-3.1 (19).

The Bears are now a game clear on top.

In the men’s competition, Hillside beat Rupertswood in division 1, while Burnside Heights lost a thriller to Taylors Lakes.