ON the opening day of the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, there were wins to both Victorian sides over Queensland and Western Australia, while Central Allies got over the line against Eastern Allies. We were there and took notes on some of the players that impressed us throughout the day at Metricon Stadium. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writer.
By: Peter Williams
#4 Lily Postlethwaite
Was prominent throughout the midfield as we have come to expect from the Queensland captain. She produced a four-quarter effort and in wet conditions when many others were struggling to be clean, Postlethwaite added a touch of class to the game and was able to win the ball in every third of the field. She was able to hit targets more often than not with her ability to kick across her body or on the move. Postlethwaite also applied good defensive pressure, laying a nice bump to allow a teammate to win the footy. She mopped up in defence at times and then got forward to hit-up Taylor Smith who marked inside 50 and goaled in the final term.
#11 Tiarna Ahwang
Ahwang showed some very nice glimpses with some clear scope for the future. She has great acceleration which she used at times to keep the ball in front of her, and she did so late in the game where she was unable to take the ball cleanly on the wet surface at first, but then got hold of it and then kicked it forward well.
#13 Dee Heslop
Cracked in and got the hands up to handball out of the contest on a number of occasions. Heslop was able to position her body well when sliding in or approaching an opponent to fairly bump and go to win the contested ball. A nice mover around the ground, Heslop found space under pressure and kicked long to the wing in the second term in what was a nice piece of play.
#14 Serene Watson
The reliable defensive general, Watson was solid all game in a defence that was under siege at times. She was able to use the ball fairly well and read an errant kick from Isabella Simmons in the second term to mark on the last line and settle the team down. Watson has great composure with ball-in-hand and proved a strong intercept mark and a player who stopped quite a few Country forward forays. In the final term she took an unbelievable mark, pushed under the ball but was able to get hands to it to keep it in front of her and pull it down. Unfortunately, she played on and had to rush a handball after slipping, but overall a really impressive game.
#16 Elle Hampson
Copped a number of knocks throughout the first half but kept bouncing back and playing an important role through midfield. She continually hit the opponent hard with fierce tackles, and even fended off a couple of players to win an important contested ball in midfield. Hampson took a big grab at half-back in the second term, but her subsequent kick was smothered. Her first half was terrific and continued her good work after the break, with some neat kicks along the wing. Did get pinged for a high tackle late in the game.
#20 Charlotte Hammans
Reliable as ever, Hammans was strong in defence, getting back to take the ball and clear it up the field on a number of occasions. At times she pushed up the ground to try and get the ball deeper down the ground, and played a good team role throughout the game, doing the hard stuff in the back half of the ground.
#21 Taylor Smith
Smith had a couple of set shots on goal, one in the third term and one in the fourth. The first one was a good attempt but fell short to the right, the second went through however. She provided a tall target inside 50 in the game and was able to capitalise with the last quarter major.
#27 Kitara Whap-Farrar
One of the cleanest players out there, Farrar was able to control the wet pill at ground level by protecting the zone and handballing out to teammates. On a number of occasions, she stepped around opponents like it was a dry track and set up teammates up the ground by opening the game up with her agility. She also showed good hands in close.
By: Taylah Melki
#4 Renee Saulitis
Impressive goal in the second quarter with a clever snap from the pocket. She showcased her goal sense to turn and bang it through the middle. She worked hard to pose a threat up forward running hard and winning a free kick but was unable to add another major to her name with the ball just dropping short.
#7 Ella Wood
Proved that she was not afraid to go hard at the footy and apply strong physical pressure with tackles and bumps to put her opponents off balance. She showcased her long strong kick and ability to sight players in space.
#9 Darcy Moloney
Worked well through the midfield to win the ball and dispose of it cleanly and cleverly, won a free kick in the first term in the forward 50 and moved the ball quickly. Broke free in the forward 50 and found good space to create opportunities. Moloney worked hard at ground level to win the ball and force contests. Kicked an impressive goal off a step and around the body in the third quarter working hard to use her feet and body to out position her opponent.
#12 Tyanna Smith
Clean hands and good vision to move through the packs and create forward thrusts. She worked hard to use the ball well and covered the ground with ease laying off a pass and then receiving it back in the forward 50 in the second quarter. She tracked the ball well at ground level given the tricky slippery conditions. Good hands under pressure and good direction to work the ball through traffic. Really good run and carry through the middle of the ground to open the forward 50 up.
#21 Sophie Molan
Really good strong hands and clever ability to read the play. Kicked the ball well supplying cleverly weighted kicks to teammates on the lead. She showcased her strength to hold up in the tackle and shake her opponent off to then dish a handball off to a passing teammate. Worked herself into the game in the last term roving the packs and getting involved at the stoppages.
#23 Lucy McEvoy
Long penetrating kick into the forward 50 and applied good pressure. She showcased her strong hands to win the ball cleanly and used her good hands at the stoppages to feed the ball out of the contest and to a free teammate. McEvoy was not afraid to apply strong physical pressure putting her body on the line to win the ball in the air and on the ground. Used her body well throughout the game to barge through congestion and deliver the ball to teammates. Showcased her general footy smarts to create forward opportunities for Vic Country. She is a real bull in and around the contest and showcased her spatial awareness to lay the ball out to teammates in advantage. Topped off her impressive performance with a snap in the last quarter credit to her goal sense and strength to break free and win the ball. McEvoy kicked her second goal moments later reading the tap out of the ruck and snapping truly.
#24 Isabella Simmons
Simmons worked hard to get into the right place at the right time nailing her first for the morning with a goal right on the goal line. Simmons used her body well and showcased her general footy smarts to work her way to the goal line and capitalise on her opportunities.
#25 Olivia Barber
Kicked the opening goal for Vic Country credit to her strong hands to take a contested mark and then back it up with a strong kick. She quickly followed that up slotting her second goal in the first quarter off the deck after a booming kick from McEvoy into the forward 50. Barber continued her goal kicking form nailing her third in the dying minutes of the second quarter. Continued to be an imposing force in the forward 50 create scoring opportunities but was unable to capitalise scoring two points straight. Barber proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the forward 50 slotting her fourth goal in the opening few minutes in the last term.
VIC METRO VS. WESTERN AUSTRALIA
#9 Isabella Lewis
Got the first inside 50 for Western Australia with a quick kick, and kept battling in the forward half with some fierce tackles. She was often trying to win the hardball and feed it out, and whilst Lewis did give away a few free kicks in the process, showed great attack on the ball.
#10 Mikayla Hyde
A human highlight reel in the air, Hyde had a number of high-flying attempts throughout the match. Hyde reads the play well and was able to chop off a kick in-board to the middle in the second term, and then handball quickly to a teammate quickly. She has great strength overhead and while she did not take every mark she flew for, still created a presence in the air. A damaging player in the forward half and still a year to go in her development.
#13 Kia Buckley
Played in the forward half and showed some nice offensive and defensive traits. Buckley was able to use her body well in on-on-one contests, taking a strong mark while being held at one stage, then took another good mark on a lead just outside the 50. Her kick inside set up a goal for her team.
#14 Sarah Verrier
One of the important inside midfielders, Verrier was superb with her tackling and clearance ability in a role often understated in a hard slog. She continually fought hard in the middle to win the footy and then kick long, getting it out of congestion and into the forward 50. She gave away a few free kicks, but her use with the ball was telling in the conditions, just looking to kick rather than handball.
#17 Mikayla Bowen
An outstanding game from Bowen who showed once again why West Coast made the decision to pre-list her ahead of next season. She was everywhere, using the ball well, playing the team role and leading from the front. When her side was down early, she was cracking in trying to win the ball and thump it forward. Her tackling was not just often, but fierce and made her opponents earn every possession. Her clearance work was the best on the ground and she never stopped running. Bowen’s smarts should also not be underrated, kicking off the ground to gain distance in congestion and give her side a chance to run onto it early in the game. Brought down Elle McKenzie in a tackle too which is no easy feat.
#23 Mikayla Morrison
Not a huge amount of ball, but she was classy in the big moments late. Her last quarter in particular was a highlight, winning the ball tight in the pocket and getting the ball by hand over to Lily Bird who converted a goal, then got on the end of one herself after marking terrifically under pressure and nailing the set shot from 35m – bringing the deficit to just 11 points.
#29 Roxanne Roux
Along with Bowen, Roux was a standout player, with a dominating presence in the air and capitalising on the scoreboard. She booted two goals during the game – both from set shots – and could have had a third. She booted a goal early in the second which was Western Australia’s first major, then launched from long range in the third quarter for a huge goal. Her contested marking was a treat, and while she did not take as many marks as she has in the past, she fly a number of times, almost bringing down a cracker at half-forward in the second term. She then moved into the ruck in the final term, having a huge game and finishing with 18 hitouts to complement her game further, and had a massive leap that was too hard for the opposition to combat.
#35 Mim Strom
Really impressive throughout the day because while Strom was clearly the number one ruck on the ground, it was her work around the ground that also looked good. She worked within usual ruck limitations of aiming to handball to running teammates, but did not mind doing the hard stuff, laying a terrific tackle on Elisabeth Georgostathis who tried to evade her, and winning a free on the wing. Worked hard in close and became like a fourth midfielder at times.
By: Sophie Taylor
#2 Felicity Theodore
Great clearing kick down ground. Right in the contest when needed, putting in the hard yards especially in the late stages of the match to apply constant pressure on the scrap and be the crumbing player to clear back out of the contest. She may not have had the influence on the ball that she wanted, but produced plenty of stoppages credit to her tackling pressure and ability to force her opposition to be unsure about the contest.
#17 Georgia Patrikios
Patrikios was one of the best on ground for the afternoon, if not best for Metro in an altogether successful match. Showcased her skill to produce a great clearing kick from the midfield toward the forward, and was right up in every contest from the get-go. Had a great read of the play, finding the ball with ease and producing some impressive marks in among the contest. Had a run on goal in the first that was punched on the line but showed good intent and ability to find space to line up in front, following it up with a successful goal moments into the second after a 50m penalty. Also showed off some of her game smarts late, proving her great read of play as she spotted Saxon-Jones one on one inside 50, leading to a goal.
#21 Ellie McKenzie
Put on a solid performance credit to her ability to take the game on but was stopped in her tracks by a hungry WA side on a number of occasions, unable to find the space to run free with the ball. Produced some great crunching tackles, while also creating play credit to her ability to find a loose player and clear the ball out of the contest in their direction.
#23 Nell Morris-Dalton
Kicked one goal in a mostly successful hitout. Spent a lot of the first term further up the ground than usual, not hanging inside 50 as accustomed to and giving some room to the likes of Cleo Saxon-Jones and Emily Harley. Showcased some of her good marking ability, providing great option inside 50 and taking a great mark right in front of goal in the second, putting an easy goal on the board.
#26 Gabby Newton
Newton was impressive off the stoppage, finding teammates with ease and using her ability to play with smarts to not only create play across the field but use her teammates’ position to advantage as she made opportunities arise. Her booming kick was effective on multiple occasions, while her pressure both on and off the ball forced her opposition to second guess around the footy and rethink their options.
#29 Cleo Saxon-Jones
Early took a good contested mark off the boot of Morris-Dalton, finishing with a snap around the body from the pocket and goal. Wasn’t able to take advantage of sitting alone in the goal square but set up well for open goal if it came to her. Hit the post on second try minutes later but made up for it by putting her body on the line at every opportunity. Kicked a sensational goal in the final term to keep Metro in the contest when WA was hot on their heels, taking a great running mark one on one for a set shot well within her range, straight through the middle for her third goal.
#20 Sarah Sansonetti
Applied very good physical pressure, nullifying influence of her opponent with her one on one play. Read the play well and was able to cherry pick passes. Was both good at ground level and aerially, producing some good linkup play with the likes of Newton and McKenzie. Fumbled a mark late in the game but recovered well, also producing a great clearing kick from a 50m penalty that finished in a goal to Metro.
EASTERN ALLIES VS. CENTRAL ALLIES
By: Taylah Melki
#10 Abby Favell
Clean hands in and around the contest to feed the ball out of congestion and to teammates streaming past. She used her long booming kick to move the ball down the field and push hard forward. Favell worked tirelessly to win the ball and showcased her vision to flick the ball out to teammates in better positions across the ground. Was a real bull at the stoppages bursting through to gain possession and tackled hard.
#11 Mia King
Good intent and attack on the footy at all times. She tracked the ball well in the air and used the footy cleverly delivering well weighted passes across the field. Good burst of speed through the midfield to open up the forward 50. King displayed her strength and courage standing under the high ball and just taking the knock while also applying strong tackles across the ground. Really good kick and ability to measure her passes to hit her teammates on the chest. Stood up in the tackles time and time again and showcased her strength to still dispose of the ball with players hanging off her. Displayed good evasive skills to sidestep her opponents and work through the traffic. Consistently kept her feet in the contest and led up at the footy creating space across the ground.
#14 Jessica Whelan
Hot start to the game finding plenty of the ball early on. Good hands at ground level to pick the ball up off the deck and then follow up her efforts with a lead in the forward 50. Proved that she was not afraid to take the game on laying a big crunching tackle and winning a dropping the ball call. Good read of the flight of the ball to take a running intercept grab and propel the ball forward.
#17 Lillian Doyle
Slotted the first goal of the game on a tricky angle. She presented well up at the footy and showcased her strength to take a big mark under pressure. Doyle was composed under pressure and made the most of her opportunities in front of goal.
#15 Emily Pease
Really took the game on in the last quarter bursting through the middle and chasing her opponents to force turnovers. Went in hard at the contests and showcased her clean set of hands to work the ball out of the congestion time and time again.
#20 Brenna Tarrant
Won plenty of the footy and showcased her footy smarts to read the play. Worked hard throughout the match and applied good physical pressure to try ad regain possession for the Eastern Allies. Presented well up at the footy and showcased her strength to take the mark on her chest. Showcased a good urgency to move the ball on and create attacking pressure in the forward half.
#21 Olivia O’Donnell
Good read out the middle to get the ball cleanly out of the ruck contest and punch the ball forward. She covered the ground well and provided a spark up forward for the Allies. Good hands in close to dish off handballs to teammates and think her way through traffic.
#22 Hannah Stewart
Really good strong mark above her head stretching the mitts out and taking it cleanly in the opening term. Used her body to position well against her opponent and hold her ground. She was unfazed by the physical contest and rose to the occasion multiple times.
#25 Tarni Evans
Hot start to the second half bursting out of the blocks and showcasing her goal sense to kick her first major for the game. Applied good attacking pressure streaming inside forward 50 and using the space to her advantage to go for goal only for the ball to be cut off at the line.
#27 Emily Hurley
The defender tried hard throughout the game to nullify the influence of her opponent. Took a big intercept mark in the second term to try and repel the attacking forays of Central Allies. She had her work cut out for her with the ball entering with great speed and at high volumes but she held her own on a couple of occasions.
#30 Jordyn Jolliffe
She kicked a goal on the siren to keep the Eastern Allies in the game after taking a big contested mark just outside the goal square. She showcased her strong hands and ability to read the flight of the ball to drop back into the space and take the grab.
By: Peter Williams
#2 Madisyn Freeman
A tough player who roamed up and down the ground with the wing and provided an option, kicking well down the wing to hit-up Teah Charlton in the first term. Freeman then went forward and took a good mark inside 50 despite fierce contact coming front-on, converting the set shot. Took another great mark under duress from front on contact at half-forward, showing her strong hands above her head.
#6 Hannah Munyard
One of those players that just does not waste a disposal. Seemed like she had 20-plus touches but only recorded the eight such is her impact on the game. Whilst her first quarter was quiet, she stepped up and hit a lovely kick inside 50 to set up Tayla Hart-Aluni on the lead. She had her own chance on goal in the third term after a nice side-step but her shot went to the right. She worked into the game well in the second half, being a playmaker in the forward half, but also laying a couple of strong tackles. Her only mistake was a missed set shot which went out on the full after a good mark inside 50. Overall one of the classier users by foot in the game.
#9 Jaimi Tabb
One of Central Allies’ best throughout the game, particularly having a massive third term and finishing off stronger in the fourth. She was a tackling machine who time and time again locked the ball up and nullified contests. She began to win more of the ball as the game went on and set up attacking plays in the third term, then was rewarded with a goal making the most of a half chance in the goalsquare late in the third term for a crucial goal and one that would prove to be the match winner. In the dying last couple of minutes, Tabb laid some big tackles to lock the ball up, and when not tackling won the footy and was able to keep it locked away in her clutches so the Eastern Allies could not have an easy exit going forward.
#10 Madison Newman
A prominent player throughout the match, Newman won plenty of the ball in the back half, using her foot skills to kick it outside defensive 50 with some nice rebounding. Often able to get back and take a good mark, flying high at one stage and being able to pull down the grab, Newman showed a kick-first mentality out of the defence. She was often the one teammates found to move the ball in transition.
#13 Kiana Lee
A strong mark and hard worker, Lee took an early grab one-on-one 30m out, but just missed the set shot. She then pushed up to the wing and took a great mark there, kicking further down the ground. Lee kept presenting as a marking target going forward and worked hard with great leading patterns.
#23 Stephanie Williams
Had a couple of nice highlights throughout the game with a burst down the middle and kick inside 50 in the first term the best of them. Williams had another interesting moment at one stage at half-back, winning the footy, paddling it to herself in the air and then punching it forward along the wing after not taking possession to avoid being tackled.
#25 Teah Charlton
A dominant player throughout, but particularly the first half, Charlton was pulling down everything with some terrific marks after long leads up the ground. She did miss a couple of targets by foot with her first couple of kicks, but then used it well thereafter, laying some big tackles including a front-on tackle on the wing to win a free kick. Charlton did not hit the scoreboard as she has in the past games, but her work rate and movement in traffic was terrific, really having an impact on the game.
#26 Montana McKinnon
Presented around the ground and was a steadying influence during frantic moments. She flew high to pull down a number of strong marks, including a couple of contested grabs under pressure. Her best were one at half-forward in the second term coming in from the side, and then a huge intercept mark deep in defence late in the game when the Eastern Allies were attacking. She did well around the ground in the ruck with some nice hitouts, and was able to pump the ball forward, using it well by foot. It was her presence that was the most important thing, always looking to be involved and stepping up when her side needed her.
#27 Tayla Hart-Aluni
Had a busy first term by kicking a set shot goal after a lead, then setting up Kiana Lee for a scoring opportunity inside 50. She had another couple of chances, but could not convert on those occasions, finishing with two behinds. Hart-Aluni managed to push up the ground late in the game and ran hard off half-back to keep the ball moving. A clean player who was noticeable throughout.