THE penultimate round of the NAB League Girls competition was made for defenders, as nine genuine starters had to fit into six for the Draft Central Team of the Week, while the midfield is as stacked as ever. Unlike in past weeks where forwards have dominated the landscape, a lot of low-scoring games had the defensive work of players on show. Three sides – Calder Cannons, Eastern Ranges and Northern Knights all enjoyed victories and had three players each in our Team of the Week, while other winners, Dandenong Stingrays, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets had the two players in the 24-player squad. Unlucky losers, Murray Bushrangers, Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons all had two players, while Bendigo Pioneers, Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power had just the one player – the least of any week for the Falcons.
Northern Knights’ big win over Geelong Falcons in the final game of the round saw Team of the Week regulars, Ellie McKenzie and Gabby Newton making the side, as did forward, Alyssa Bannan. Abbey Chapman‘s work in defence under siege was terrific, picking up 11 rebounds in the Falcons’ first loss in two years, and slots into full-back. Up the other end of the field, Eastern Ranges’ Serena Gibbs booted 3.4 and lines up at full-forward, joined inside 50 by Team of the Week debutant Jenna Richardson, while Tarni Brown impressed on a wing. Regular Calder Cannons’ Team of the Week players, Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis make the side once again, as does Laura Cocomello who was impressive through the midfield.
Also on the ball is Murray Bushrangers ball magnet, Abby Favell who was named Draft Central Rising Star of the Week despite her side going down. She joins Newton and Prespakis onball, while Millie Brown stood up in defence and makes the team. In the opposite back pocket is Brooke Vernon who was best-on for Dandenong Stingrays in the win, while Isabella Shannon stood up in crunch moments in the forward half and she also makes the team. The Rebels’ captain Sophie Molan was involved everywhere and spent time inside 50 to provide a target, making the team alongside Nyakoat Dojiok who was terrific on a wing. Their opponents Oakleigh Chargers had the two nominees, with Kalarni Kearns impressing through the ruck against quality opposition, while Gemma Lagioia was also slick with her ball use off half-back.
The half-back line is filled with players from the one match, as Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis and Isabelle Pritchard were strong in rebounding the ball out of the Sandringham Dragons’ defensive 50. Up the other end, Sarah Hartwig was the Dragons’ best and makes Team of the Week again, along with Alice Burke who worked hard through the midfield. Rounding out the team are individual nominees for their respective sides, Bendigo Pioneers’ defender Kate Douglass, and Gippsland Power’s mid-defender Megan Fitzsimon.