West Bowl II was a long anticipated rematch of last year’s inaugural championship game. Having only one loss during the regular season, the Perth Blitz headed into the play-offs at the top of the ladder.
With Quarterback Lou Devine and Head Coach Kevin Wilson at the helm, the Blitz came in as favourites, known for their strong offensive plays. The game was predicted to be a battle, with the Perth Broncos, led by Head Coach Adam Diaz and Defensive Coordinator Damien Donaldson, finishing the season with six defensive shut-outs.
Broncos Punter Simone Levis kicked off the game with the return by Blitz’s Chae Selbie starting the Blitz on their own 40-yard line. Blitz Receiver Lauren O’Neil was denied an early 30-yard completion when the officials ruled the pass in front of the line of scrimmage.
The Broncos Offense got off to a shaky start with a false start penalty taking the team back within 30 yards of their own line. Running Backs Heather Winter and Laura St. Ruth immediately stepped up to gain the Broncos the game’s initial first down. Penalties against the Blitz for a late hit and encroachment brought the Broncos’ first drive within 30 yards of the goal, where they were held by the Blitz until the conclusion of the quarter.
The Blitz handed over possession to the Broncos at the start of the second quarter with a massive punt for more than 50 yards. The Broncos were promptly held up by the Blitz’s Defense with tackles by Nadine Mader and Australian Outback player Rhyanna Edbrooke.
A strong drive by the Blitz late in the second quarter saw receiver Tegan Brown return from a broken leg earlier in the season for a 20-yard completion and running back Janelle Callisto across the line for the first score of the game. Blitz Defensive Back Catherine Kirchner and Linebacker Laura Molloy ensured the Broncos were not given an opportunity to respond before the game headed into half time 6-0 in favour of the Blitz, giving both teams some respite from the hot weather.
Quarterback Elise Diaz led the Broncos onto the field for the second half, handing the ball to Winter, who ran over 55 yards for the Broncos’ first touchdown, levelling the score.
Along with the Broncos Defensive Line, Linebackers Miquaela Panicciari, Danni-Elle Lippiatt-Byrne and Kellie Hopkins ensured the Blitz did not progress the ball on their next possesion. A fumble recovery by Defensive End Laura Ng saw the Broncos take possession within 30 yards of the end zone.
The Blitz Defense responded in kind, forcing the Broncos back to the middle of the field. Players from both teams were helped off the field by trainers during the drive as the game reached peak intensity. The Blitz forced the Broncos to move up the field incrementally, until St. Ruth was able to carry the ball to the Broncos’ second score. Blitz Linebacker Kaylee Halse denied the conversion with an explosive sack to end the third quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Devine, Callisto and Britney Were combined for the Blitz’s longest possession, running the ball over 30 yards upfield. A sack by Broncos Defensive Tackle JJ Wan stopped the ball on the Broncos’ 35-yard line.
On the change of possession, Winter again found space for a 70-yard run to the Broncos’ third touchdown. Emily Weldon was able to cross the line for the 2-point conversion.
Being 14 points behind, Devine looked to Brown for a completion who was repeatedly denied yards by Broncos Cornerback Tara Caple. A sack by Broncos Linebacker Emily Anderson and a dropped pass by Selbie gave the Broncos final possession of the game.
The Perth Broncos knelt out the game for a 20-6 victory over the Perth Blitz.
Images courtesy of Andy Gorman
Video by Local Media Services Company