Essendon youngster Lily-Rose Williamson has been taken to hospital after a distressing incident late in the Bombers’ clash with Port Adelaide on Sunday.
With just under two minutes left in the game, Williamson crashed head-first into the Alberton turf and rolled over onto her back while her left arm was being held onto by Port’s Maria Moloney in a tackle.
The visibly upset 18-year-old was comforted by nearby Power players, with captain Erin Phillips briefly holding her hand, before she was consoled by her teammates and medical staff arrived.
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Luckily for Williamson, she was conscious in the rooms after the match.
Bombers coach Natalie Wood told reporters after her side’s 27-point win that Williamson appeared to have avoided a major injury.
“Lily-Rose obviously went down in a really awkward collision … it’s a neck complaint,” Wood said.
“She’s been taken away in the ambulance and is being well looked after by the medical team.
“She’ll go in for an assessment and we’ll know more then.
“I saw her just before she went into the ambulance and she was in good spirits … the girls had got around her.
“Obviously, it’s a really traumatic thing … no one likes seeing anyone go down hurt.
“I thought it was terrific support from our girls who rallied around her, as did the Port Adelaide girls.
“It’s a real sign of camaraderie, which is nice.”
The injury was a sour note on an otherwise resoundingly positive day for Essendon.
The Bombers were rarely troubled on their way to the fourth win of their inaugural AFLW season to finish in 10th spot.
“I’m not sure what the expectations were (of us) … we’ve just looked internally,” Wood said.
“We set some measures with the players about what growth we were trying to get from them and I think for the most part we’ve got that although it perhaps hasn’t always been consistent.
“When we analyse the season and look at the number of players that we’ve experimented with in different positions and seeing what that gives us as a group … there are some real positives from that.
“It will give us a really strong launching pad.”
The Bombers were the best-performed expansion side in the first season of the 18-team competition, with their fourth win elevating them to 10th spot on the ladder.
With a bit more luck Essendon, who lost two games by two points or less, could have been fighting for a finals berth, which says a lot about the foundation they’ve laid for future success.
Maddie Prespakis starred again with a game-high 24 possessions, but all indications are that she won’t need to carry the bulk of the midfield workload much longer, with help coming from her developing teammates.
Daria Bannister booted two goals to be Essendon’s leading goal-kicker for the season with eight.
Her first in the pouring rain in the second quarter was a checkside beauty from a tight angle that will be a goal-of-the-year contender
Arnell spoke about “embracing the expectations of this football club” when she was appointed in April and a solitary win and a draw falls short of those expectations.
But in fairness, it was never solely about wins and losses for the Power in the club’s inaugural season.
The key question that the club’s hierarchy will pose when the dust has settled is ‘Have we laid a solid foundation for future success?’
The answer is a qualified ‘Yes’, but there is still much work to be done.
The two key areas the Power will look to address in the off-season are the team’s conversion in attack and the consistency of effort across four quarters.
Gemma Houghton, who was a late out with a quad strain on Sunday, was restricted to four games through injury and the gun forward’s absence again highlighted the Power’s deficiencies in attack.
Port led the inside 50s 7-1 in the first quarter but couldn’t muster a goal or even a mark inside the attacking arc, the Power held goalless in an opening term for the sixth time and goalless in the first half for the third time despite having six more inside 50s.
Erin Phillips, who the club confirmed is continuing her decorated career next season, came agonisingly close to her first goal for the Power, the three-time premiership winner hitting the post in the last quarter.
Cheyenne Hammond kicked Port’s only goal with just over five minutes left in the match.
POWER 0.1 0.3 0.3 1.4 (10)
BOMBERS 1.2 2.2 3.6 5.7 (37)
GOALS Power: Hammond. Bombers: Bannister 2, Clarke, Toogood, Alexander.
BEST Power: Yorston, Dowrick, Phillips, O’Dea, Ewings, Foley. Bombers: Prespakis, Vogt, Gee, Bannister, Toogood, Clarke, Scott, Cain.
INJURIES Power: Houghton (quad – late withdrawal). Bombers: Williamson (neck).
Venue Alberton Oval
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
3. M Prespakis (Ess)
2. J Vogt (Ess)
1. J Yorston (PA)