The Hawthorn Hawks rally around the emotional Perkins in an emotional moment despite losing their first AFLW game to the Essendon Bombers

Essendon have recovered somewhat from a self-inflicted month from hell with a Maddy Prespakis-inspired 26-point win over Hawthorn in both clubs’ AFLW debuts.

But on a dirty night for Hawthorn, Hawks key forward Sarah Perkins had a special moment late in the third quarter.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Sarah Perkins’ touching moment

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Looking to the sky in grief for her late aunt, Perkins made a love heart sign with her fingers after scoring a brilliant goal from 25 yards out.

The goal put the Hawks – Perkins’ fourth AFLW club – back five points behind the Bombers as the game looked set for a close end.

Sarah Perkins looks to the sky in honor of her late aunt. Recognition: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL photos via Getty Images
Sarah Perkins celebrates with teammates. Recognition: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL photos via Getty Images

But the upheaval on the Bombers board and the drama in their men’s program didn’t seem to distract their women’s team as they stepped away in the last quarter to make their first appearance in the expanded 18-team competition with a 7.11 (53) to 4.3 ( ) to mark. 27) Victory at Marvel Stadium.

“It’s great that the whole club can look forward to today and there has been a real excitement all week,” said Bombers manager Natalie Wood.

“Giving that to our employees and support base has been really positive.”

A crowd of 12,092 on Saturday night justified the move of the first round game from Port Melbourne’s smaller ETU Stadium after a campaign led by Hawks coach Bec Goddard.

Fans were treated to an entertaining contest as recruit Prespakis led the Bombers’ midfield with 26 dismounts and six clearances, finishing with a late goal.

Essendon kicked the last four Majors and kept their opponents scoreless in the final quarter after Hawthorn briefly hit the front midway through the third term.

A childhood dream comes true for Maddy Prespakis.

A childhood dream comes true for Maddy Prespakis.
Madison Prespakis was dominant for the Bombers. Recognition: Michael Willson/AFL Photos/AFL photos via Getty Images

Prespakis’ performance came despite a corked left thigh that kept her from training two weeks before the game.

“She was still touch and go (the day before the game) and passed a fitness test, and I thought her four-quarter performance was outstanding,” Wood said.

“To see her really compete late in the fourth and help really showcase our contested possession was fantastic.”

Bombers co-captain Bonnie Toogood (two goals) played the lead in attack and debutant Paige Scott (16 goals, one goal) was important while Jacqui Vogt and Danielle Marshall anchored defense well.

Top draft pick Jasmine Fleming (11 departures) shone in the debut for the Hawks, who were brave but lacked Essendon’s contributor spread.

Tamara Smith (14 dismounts, six dismounts), Tilly Lucas-Rodd (16, five) and Zoe Barbakos (two) also did well.

The Hawks fielded a dozen debutants, with Goddard acknowledging the inexperience mentioned last term.

“It was neck and neck for three quarters and we felt like our pressure was really at the level that we wanted,” Goddard said.

“It wasn’t in the practice games but tonight it reached a new level.

“It’s great and part of the progress, but in the fourth quarter we got into some habits that we don’t want to see.”

Goddard literally drew a line in the sand in the dressing room before the game to inspire her team, evoking the spirit of the Essendon-Hawthorn rivalry with a reference to the infamous 2004 AFL competition.

The Bombers got the first goal after five minutes through Jess Wütschner’s clean left foot shot but didn’t have it all their way in a lively encounter with a close quarters encounter.

It was an emotional moment for Sophie Locke as she converted a free-kick at the top of the field to give Hawthorn their first major.

Locke, who lost her mother to cancer earlier this month, kissed her black armband and pointed to the sky after the historic moment.

With AAP

Bonnie Toogood talks about the Bombers’ first ever win.

Bonnie Toogood talks about the Bombers’ first ever win.

https://7news.com.au/sport/aflw/hawks-rally-around-emotional-perkins-in-touching-moment-despite-loss-in-first-ever-aflw-game-against-essendon-c-8030552 The Hawthorn Hawks rally around the emotional Perkins in an emotional moment despite losing their first AFLW game to the Essendon Bombers

James Brien

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