17/04/2024

Meg Hutchins kicked the sealer in the final quarter against Port Melbourne. (Picture: AFL Women's/Twitter)

Meg Hutchins went out in style in her final game, Hawthorn upsetting Port Melbourne to give the superstar the exit she deserved.

It was a day of celebration at Box Hill City Oval.

Australian football legend Meg Hutchins has ended her career on a high note, with a gutsy win over Port Melbourne.

Though the Hawks were officially knocked out of VFLW finals contention last week after a slim loss to Geelong, there was no way they weren’t giving it their all this week.

Coaches, players, friends, family, and even Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett, donned the number 25 for Hutchins.

There was a smattering of Eastern Devils’ scarves and beanies floating around the oval as well, the club where Hutchins started it all.

To say the support came from everywhere would be selling those at the game short.

“Yeah the Hutch!,” yelled young Eastern Ranges ruck Jess Grace as Hutchins rotated back onto in the ground in the second quarter.

Calls of “go Hutchy!” and “come on Meg!” echoed from one side of City Oval to the other for the full 80 minutes of play.

Lining up from 45 metres out early in the final quarter after the Hawks had just snuck in front, the whole oval was watching Hutchins.

As she slotted it, the modest but no less passionate crowd cheered louder than a full-capacity MCG.

It was the last of three inspirational Hawthorn goals which sealed the game for the home team against the finals-bound Port Melbourne.

A final term to remember

Tamara Luke and Sarah Perkins scored goals on the run late in the third. There was a clear and fervent desire to get the game back on their terms.

The Borough’s Emily Harley missed a set shot after the three quarter time siren, and the home crowd let her know.

Bec Goddard kept her address at the three-quarter time huddle level, and calm. There was no sense of letting the occasion get the better of them.

“We’re in it for the long haul.”

Young Hawks’ mid Keeley Sherar got the final term off to the exact start they needed, taking first possession out of the middle and clearing the ball instantly.

After Hutchins’ subsequent goal, there was an energy about the place that no matter what Port Melbourne did, Hawthorn was winning this game.

They were doing it for Meg.

Young and old hunted the ball like their life depended on it for the next 20 minutes.

“Well done Bainy, good voice!,” the crowd yelled as Chloe Bain took another brilliant intercept mark.

A Port Melbourne assistant coach is on the phone to coach Lachie Harris, who’s sat up in the box.

“Forward pressure girls, forward pressure!,” she yells.

Veteran Tamara Luke throws herself at every contest. Ranges’ co-captain El Chaston flies high and barely drops a huge contested grab. Izzy Khoury doesn’t let a single ground level ball past her.

These are the lengths every player will go to for one of the greatest women to ever play the game.

An ending for one, disappointment for another

Hutchins exits football with an individual honours list longer than that of some teams.

She finishes on 252 combined VWFL/VFLW/AFLW games, and was a part of the Hawks 2018 VFLW premiership.

Hutchins earned six All-Australian selections, lead the Devils’ goalkicking four times and played 12 AFLW games with Collingwood while also acting as the club’s Women’s Football Operations Manager.

She would perform a similar role at Hawthorn after joining the club, acting as the Talent Identification and Recruitment Officer.

There’s no doubt Hutchins will find (or continue) an off-field role, though what that is yet is still to be decided.

On the cusp of finals, it was a disappointing loss for Port Melbourne. With Geelong losing its final game to Collingwood, Port could have secured second place and with it, a double chance.

Instead, the Borough will now have to win three games straight, including next weekend’s elimination final against the Southern Saints.

They battled hard, but were wasteful in front of goal. Forward livewire Sophie Locke added another two goals to her total, Claire Dyett and Emily Harley also handy inside 50.

Richmond-listed youngsters Ellie McKenzie and Kodi Jacques were busy in the middle, but it wasn’t enough against the spirited Hawthorn side.

Port Melbourne, however, showed its class in defeat.

Casey and Essendon will do battle in the other elimination final, while Collingwood and Geelong face off in the qualifying final.

Details including dates, times and venues are yet to be released by AFL Victoria.

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