SOUTH Australia has plenty of young talent that is impressing at South Australian National Football League (SANFL) level. With four games played every weekend, we will cast our eyes over how the 2021 Under 19s State Academy squad members performed. All notes are the opinion of the author.
CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
#40 Madison Lane
Player her best game of the season, building on her performance from the week before. The reliable defender used the ball well and is one who teammates rely on with ball-in-hand. She has equal measures of defence and offence with her tackling pressure and rebounding ability. One who cracks in with her tackles and is not afraid to put her body on the line. One of the Bulldogs’ best in the narrow loss and building nicely towards the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships.
#41 Laitiah Huynh
Had a really good first quarter to be able to mark early in the game and then lace out a pass to Katelyn Rosenzweig on a flank. She is quick to dispose of the ball by hand or foot, and showed she might have the quickest hands in the business with an absolute blink-and-you-miss it handball to set up the last goal 20 minutes into the final term. Clean at ground level and able to have the footy smarts to intercept in close, while she did not kick a goal, she set up scoring opportunities and provided defensive pressure which is all you could ask from a small forward.
#1 Tahlita Buethke
After a quieter first half, Buethke immediately had an impact in the third term by launching from the centre square out of the stoppage, then ran to the next contest and handballed to Jess Kirk to set up a goal. She continued to win the ball in close and move around, taking a strong mark in the middle of the ground in the fourth term, and then had a couple of kicks in quick succession going forward.
#5 Sarah Wright
Showed good defensive pressure down back and was able to be composed with ball-in-hand. She had a moment she would probably take back when deep in defence thinking the ball was over the line and Central kept playing and ran in and kicked a goal from a tight angle. Aside from that she was able to provide good presence in defence despite not winning as much as some weeks.
#36 Gypsy Schirmer
Started on a wing and roamed all over the field as usual. With high-level footy smarts and terrific athleticism, Schirmer just gets to the right spots and is able to cleanly scoop the ball off the deck. Her intercept ability was on show in the match, as well as her work rate to kick forward then follow up at the next stoppage. When rushing she can sometimes throw the ball on the boot, but her ground coverage and ability to not only find space, but apply defensive pressure is a highlight of her game, and she has no trouble racking up big numbers and being a playmaker forward of centre.
#41 Lauren Clifton
A quieter game from Clifton compared to past weeks, just having the six touches, mostly handballs in close. She had a nice pickup off the deck midway through the third term but was picked off by Huynh. She is strong at ground level through her smarts and remains a player who is strong in transition.
NORWOOD vs. STURT
#22 Jade Halfpenny
Always someone who just plays their role and still catches the eye, the key forward had an early blemish with a 50-metre penalty for getting too close to the person about to kick, but quickly got into the action with a clean pickup, then laid a big defensive tackle. She was clean at ground level and quick along the wing, aiming to kick deep inside 50. At times, Halfpenny would drop back into defence and help out, but her best moment came in the fourth term where she tucked the ball under the arm and ran through midfield to kick long inside 50. She almost set up the match-winner a minute later to Isabel Martin after a great clearance from the throw-in.
#30 Sarah Branford
It might seem odd, but Branford might have played the best statless game one could imagine. There were several players in the match who had low numbers, and Branford did not register a disposal, but her attack on the contest, and ability to get to the right spots – even just front position in a marking contest where she was undersized – was enough to suggest she was switched on. Her would-be kick was smothered early in the game, but she kept pressing throughout the game.
#3 Georgia Swan
Had a solid game across the board and looked active and lively throughout, crumbing the ball cleanly in the opening term, and winning most of her touches inside 50 and up to half-forward. She had a shot on goal when she was tackled by a couple of players in the third term but her set shot tugged to the left. Swan put the ball in a good scoring position for a teammate to score in the final term as well.
#19 Alex Ballard
Stepped up and played arguably her best game of the season thus far, contributing through each of the four quarters with her intercepting ability a kick behind play or at half-back, then pumping the ball forward. She took a great one-on-one mark against Halfpenny five minutes into the opening term, and took a crucial intercept mark close to goal early in the final quarter as some of her highlights in the match.
#20 Hannah Prenzler
Sometimes the game does not go your way and unfortunately for the talented rebounder, it was just one of those games. Prenzler did not do anything particularly wrong, she was active around the ground and laid a couple of good tackles, but did not register a disposal. It was more the ball just did not come to her or she was used in transition as much as usual more than her not doing enough because she was always around.
#30 Zoe Prowse
No surprise to see the ruck had another good game around the ground and presented well with some strong marks and highlight plays. She was huge in the air and her work rate and second efforts exemplary again. She laid a fantastic run down tackle on the wing nine minutes into the game and while the second half she did not win as much of it, she still showed off her athleticism in a great ruck battle with the experienced Leah Cutting.
WWT EAGLES vs. GLENELG
#8 Charlotte Dolan
Copped hit after hit in a bruising encounter but the hardnut just kept bouncing up time and time again. She might not have won a truckload of the ball, but her contested work and defensive efforts were incredibly memorable. She laid plenty of tackles or bumps and shepherds across the ground and ran down an opponent late in the first term to rush a behind. She was not able to be super efficient with her disposal which was not helped by the wet, but her positioning at the stoppage, such as in the 15-minute mark where she was able to win the ball and drive it forward. She also sensibly held onto it in the back 50 to wind down time in the final 60 seconds of the game for the Eagles to win.
#25 Jamie Parish
Not a huge game from Parish who just had the six touches, but her defensive work in the wet was impressive. She laid a number of tackles, and assisted her teammates in applying defensive pressure to the opposition. Late in the first term she showed lightning quick hands to handball to a teammate under pressure, then in the last quarter, Parish laid a fierce tackle on the wing.
#33 Brooklyn Kraft
Left the game early with a knee injury after playing through the ruck. Had a few good early taps at the stoppages, then laid a big front-on tackle six minutes into the second term, with her aggression at the ball carrier great.
#7 Brooke Tonon
Played another promising game finding plenty of the pill playing off a wing. Not only did she roam up and down the ground, but she managed to find it at half-forward and in the back 50. She took a few intercept marks and then aided the defence during the Bays’ loss. Her kicking when under pressure could be a bit rushed, but when opening up the game with some run she used it efficiently. Her clean pickup and spin early in the match was eye-catching.
#12 Tamsyn Morriss
As clean as they come in the wet, and while most of her plays were under pressure in the back 50, Morriss played with a dry footy compared to everyone else. As others were struggling to pick it up, she would scoop it off the deck like it was a summer scorcher. Her best play came five minutes into the final term where she had an elite pickup on the move, then weighted the kick perfectly in front of a teammate on a 45-degree angle at half-forward.
WEST ADELAIDE vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
#8 Keeley Kustermann
The West Adelaide bottom-ager does not need a lot of touches to do damage and this was the case again. So clean on either side and by hand or foot, she has the footy smarts to impact the play without a disposal or even before the ball is in the area be it in a marking contest or at ground level with subtle bumps or moves. Her work rate is high level and she will kick forward, then be ready for the next contest, covering the ground with ease and looking for 1-2 plays to be used in transition and moving the ball from defence to offence.
#9 Zoe Venning
After a massive game last week, Venning still had a really solid match across the board, never taking a backwards step. She cracked in for four quarters and was the recipient of a host of free kicks, both for high tackles, in the back or being there for the last touch rule. She looked to kick long at every opportunity and worked hard throughout the contest with her first quarter being her best in terms of her ball-winning and fierce defensive efforts, though she never stopped with her effort.
#30 Lauren Young
Stood out through the midfield again and set up Gretel Ramsey in the first quarter for what would be West Adelaide’s only goal of the match. She won a ton of the ball across the ground and took a number of intercept marks yet again, including one late in the second term. Another highlight for Young was her ability to win the ball dashing out at full speed, not breaking stride and kicking to the top of defensive 50. At times under pressure she would just clear the ball for distance, but when having time and space she can really launch and hit targets from short or long distances.
#31 Hannah Ewings
Unfortunately had to come off with what looked like a serious ankle injury nine minutes into the second term, but not without having an impact in the first quarter and a half. Tightly watched at stoppages, Ewings kicked a great goal from outside 50 off a couple of steps for it to casually bounce through. She won a free kick for being held and kept working hard around the ground.
#33 Julia Clark
Showed quick hands in the defensive area, and while at times was overzealous with her attack or rushed a disposal, the thing that really stood out about Clark was her determination to mop up any mistakes. As example, she had a scrubber kick on the wing that was turned over, but chased it up and won the ball back through hard work before handballing to a teammate then providing a block. She did it again in the third term where she missed a handball, mopped it up to win it, her kick was smothered then produced a third effort to win it back and handballed to a teammate.
#38 Kate Case
Had a quieter game than usual because she was not able to have as much space to use her run-and-gun game, but still used hands in close well and was clean at ground level. Her tackling pressure on a couple of occasions was impressive as she roamed from half-back to the wing, and still contributed in the Roosters’ victory.
Picture credit: Cory Sutton / SANFL