SOUTH Adelaide is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and how their 2020 seasons went down.
2020 IN A NUTSHELL
The back-to-back premiers showed that despite losing a heap of talent to the AFL Women’s over the summer, they were able to grind out wins early in the season, then continually get the job done when those players returned post-break. Rick Watts‘ side just found a way week-in, week-out, and even in their losses to North Adelaide, were never blown away and just a touch outclassed on the day. Nonetheless, the Panthers showed they have some seriously good young talent coming through which completed the AFL Women’s experience.
AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:
A reliable ball-winning midfielder who was among the bests most weeks, being a real beacon through the midfield and teaming up with a number of AFL Women’s talents and leading the younger players when there was less experience out on the field.
Still a year to go in her junior footy, Clifford showed during the All-Stars game what she is capable of. Still yet to turn 17 until December, the middle-age prospect was able to provide some quick ball movement and slick skills when zeroing in on goal.
Playing out of full-forward and leading the league’s goalkicking until her injury late in the season, Kirk was a reliable set shot and great with her positioning. She never needed a lot of touches to have an impact, making the most of her few disposals, often hitting the scoreboard with each one.
A raw and developing ruck/forward, Kraft continued to develop in season 2020, and showed that she could fill the role more permanently in 2021. At 182cm, the top-age talent is a late 2002-birth which usually suggests a later development and with her improving marking and set shot routine, Kraft can fill a role in the forward line as well.
Stood out coming into the side this year as an athletic forward who could also push up the ground. Her closing speed and her leap were among her good traits, and she even kicked a number of impressive goals, often from tight angles. Schirmer, like Clifton, has another year of development until she is draft-eligible.
An Adelaide Crows train-on player, it was easy to see why Cavouras was picked because she is one player that you know what to expect of each and every week. Even if she is not winning heaps of the ball – though that is a rarity – she is applying fierce defensive pressure and doing all the right things to assist teammates around the stoppages.
An athletic mid who managed to play most of her debut season in 2020, Buethke could play as an inside or outside midfielder and showed some terrific traits. Highly competitive, Buethke looks like a late bloomer and is one to watch for the future.
One of the most underrated players in the competition, Meyer does not always have the big numbers that other midfielders have, but when she is up and about, her precision kicking and decision making is unbelievable. Her ball use going inside 50 is often served on a platter for her forwards, and she can also play multiple roles around the ground.
Another young middle-age talent who has come through the strong Panthers system developing as a defender who can also be thrown forward. Rivalland showed she is capable of reading the ball well in flight and taking the game on when required and will be a player to keep an eye on next season in the League.
One of the most gifted South Australian players to come through the state, Charlton is just about the complete player. The top-age talent is a super competitive player, elite athlete, and ability to take mark of the year and goal of the year – probably off the same play – and then just do the unbelievable time and time again. No doubt the Panthers would love her in their side next year, but the tri-colours of the next level beckon.
Similar to Charlton, Tahau is just a naturally gifted player. For a taller athlete, Tahau possesses great athleticism, and an ability to run down opponents or sidestep them with ease. She is so strong above her head as a contested marking specialist, and makes the right decisions with ball-in-hand. Both Tahau and Charlton were unavailable for the All-Stars match, but as Tahau showed in the 2019 SANFL Women’s Grand Final – winning the best on ground medal – she can stand up on the big stage.
OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:
- Hannah Munyard
- Nikki Gore
- Lisa Whiteley
- Lauren Buchanan
- Samantha Pratt
- Jaslynne Smith
Honestly South’s side was that good – much like North Adelaide’s outfit – that you could have a list of the whole side. Montana McKinnon is one who was not able to play a full season due to injury, but the return of Hannah Munyard, Nikki Gore and Lisa Whiteley to the team from their respective AFL Women’s sides was vital. Whilst they represented three different AFLW teams in 2020, they will all represent the Crows in 2021. Others who shone were defenders, Lauren Buchanan, Samantha Pratt and Jaslynne Smith who continually provided drive out of defence.
South Adelaide might not have backed up their premierships of the past two seasons, but the Panthers were littered with stars, and no doubt a large majority are currently or will run around at the next level. They were deserving grand finalists, and aside from when playing North Adelaide, found a way to win even when they were down and on the ropes.
Picture: SANFL/Hannah Howard