VFLW match report: Gabby’s fairy-tale finish seals Hawks thriller

476 days ago, Gabby Collingwood had ruptured her right ACL in her comeback game from a left ACL rupture, while playing for Brisbane’s AFLW team.

Today, the star forward went from luckless to luckiest with a fairy-tale finish in her Box Hill VFLW debut.

Trailing for most of the game, the Hawks kept themselves right in touch throughout before finally breaking through for the thrilling one-point win after the siren.

After being shoved in the back, Collingwood won herself a free kick and then a 50-metre penalty in the dying seconds of the game, putting her right in front of the big sticks in the goal square.

With the siren ringing around City Oval during her run-up, Collingwood made no mistake and secured the win off her own boot.

The place then erupted as Collingwood’s teammates flooded around her, confirming a true moment of magic as the scoreboard read Box Hill – 4.5 (29) to Carlton – 4.4 (28).

Check out how the match unfolded below.


The match began pretty evenly with both midfield groups getting to work early. For Box Hill, it was Annie Muir and Grace McRae who found the ball early while Grace Matser went to work against Carlton AFLW ruck Jess Good. It was the Blues who were rewarded with a goal after 10 minutes before the Hawks fought back with a major of their own. It was a pinpoint kick from Charlotte Hammans that saw Nicole Garner take a brilliant diving mark. The captain made no mistake from a minimal angle and put Box Hill back within touching distance. However, Carlton was able to get one back late, meaning the margin at the end of the first term was five points.


Goals were hard to come by in the second quarter with the Hawks holding the Blues to just one major while scoring just a behind of their own. Box Hill’s defence was under pressure at times, but Ellie McLinden stood up, leading the way in disposals at the main break with eight. McRae continued to dominate in the midfield while there were promising signs from Eastern Ranges duo Hayley McLaughlin and Ava Campbell. Charlotte Hammans and Akayla Peterson also provided some nice run and carry but at the end of the first half, it was Box Hill down by 10 points.


The Hawks came out of the half-time break with what seemed to be extra intensity. Peterson stepped up her game in the third term with blistering pace while Nadia von Bertouch toiled away in the backline. It was Matser who got on the scoreboard though, making no mistake from an angled set shot. This gave the Hawks fighting spirit, but Carlton again fought back with a quick goal in transition. At three-quarter-time, Box Hill was upbeat as it had the same scoring shots as the Blues, highlighting the evenness of the contest. The team’s next mission was to convert more opportunities in the fourth term, going into the final break down by 10.


The fourth quarter saw the ball camped predominantly in Box Hill’s half. The team was rewarded for its pressure and set-up around the ground when Matilda Van Berkel took a strong mark and converted her first goal in brown and gold. After that, it was Jess Vukic’s time to shine. After nullifying the impact of Carlton ruck Good in the second half, Vukic went on to take a brilliant contested mark in the dying stages of the game, with a goal putting the Hawks in front. Unfortunately, her kick narrowly missed, leaving the Hawks five minutes to continue their desperate search for victory. It was at that point when the heavens opened up and the footy Gods came alive, presenting City Oval with a true moment of magic as Collingwood kicked the match-winner after the siren in her VFLW debut. Rewarded with a free kick and 50-metre penalty, the 24-year-old celebrated her return from two knee reconstructions with the ultimate finish. At the final siren, it was confirmed that Box Hill had won by one point.





4.5 (29)





4.4 (28)


Goals: Garner, Matser, Van Berkel, Collingwood

Disposals: McRae 16, Peterson 16, Muir 15, McLinden 13, Tessari 13, Thorne 12

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