Author: Declan Reeve

WAFL League Player Focus: Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

SOUTH FREMANTLE young small forward Jesse Motlop, the son of former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne player Daniel, has had an impressive 2021 season across the WAFL Colts and PSA competitions. His form and undeniable potential earned him a WAFL League debut with South Fremantle, against fellow finals contenders Swan Districts.

The Fremantle Next Generation Academy prospect ended up being an important part of the side’s six-goal victory, chiming in with two goals of his own in the third quarter whilst setting up a few more throughout the entirety of the game.

POCKET PROFILE

Jesse Motlop
South Fremantle/Western Australia

DOB: 23/11/2003
Height/Weight: 176cm/74kg
Position: Small Forward/Midfielder

Strengths: Speed, smarts, goal sense

2021 Averages:
WAFL Colts
(4 games)

15.3 disposals | 2.5 marks | 3.0 tackles | 4.0 inside 50s | 1.5 goals (6 total)

Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

2021 WAFL League, Round 15 | Swan Districts 9.5 (59) def. by South Fremantle 15.5 (95)

#49 Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle)

Stats: 13 disposals (10 kicks, 3 handballs), 6 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 goals

Q1

It was a low-key opening term for Motlop in his debut senior outing. Starting the game on the bench, he wasn’t sighted until about eight minutes in as he took his position in the goal square as the deepest forward for his first centre bounce.

His first involvement in general play came deep inside 50 where he hit the front and centre of a marking contest, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground and in a position to run into an open goal, but was brought down as soon as he picked it up for a stoppage.

He held the ball to an opponent not long after to get a stoppage in front of goal, though it didn’t result in anything. The only disposal Motlop would record for the first term came as he pushed up the ground to be a switch option from the corridor to the boundary, taking the ball on his chest uncontested before running it up a few steps and then lacing it out to a teammate on the wing, who was able to move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 for a goal.

Despite not racking up numbers on the stats sheet, Motlop was involved in the South Fremantle forward half, pressuring opponents to cause a few turnovers and stoppages, giving his side opportunities to score and making his one kick count.

Q2

Once again taking the role as a deep forward, Motlop wasn’t given many opportunities to use the footy, with the talls of South Fremantle being the targets and Swan Districts doing well to intercept balls as they flew in. He did continue to show the pressure work he did the previous quarter, laying two tackles around the forward 50 where his second efforts saw him get back at the opposition with the ball. He showed a lot of courage at times as well, getting involved in a marking contest where neither player held the ball, but he got straight back up to follow up.

Motlop moved up the ground to get involved when it was a bit of an arm wrestle, where he won the ball off the hands of a marking contest and followed his momentum by running back towards his defensive 50 through traffic, able to maintain possession whilst running through a pack of five Swan Districts players. He side-stepped to avoid being grabbed and hit a handball to a runner from the backline. He made it obvious the front and centres were a speciality area a few times, demonstrating why he was being paired under a tall forward down deep with his clean pick-ups below his knees.

Motlop worked into the game well in the second quarter, making the most of his opportunities to show his potential for eye-catching plays, but really impressing with his pressure work, second efforts and reading of the ball off hands more than anything, playing his small forward role particularly well despite not hitting the scoreboard.

Q3

The third quarter saw Motlop taking a bit more freedom and pushing up the ground, getting free around the back end of the centre square to be used a couple of times by his teammates. In those instances, he was able to lose opponents with his acceleration or repeated lead efforts. He followed up with generally good ball use, spotting out leading teammates up the field to put them in a good spot to move the ball forward.

One kick into the middle of the ground initially looked poor, but bounced well for his teammates to win the contest and get it long forward for an easy South Fremantle goal. Motlop’s high work rate was again on display, as he made gut runs to impact opponents, even if they moved the ball on before he got there he’d follow up and try and impact the next contest.

He got himself on the scoreboard with two goals in the third quarter, with both being a good example of his forward craft and ability to get free in dangerous spots. The first was more through his high work rate and repeat leading efforts, as he lost his opponent inside forward 50 and was spotted up by a teammate, taking a mark over his head about 40 out right in front of goal, where he went back and slotted it straight through from afar. The second goal came through his footy smarts, peeling off from where a pack was going to form, standing free right in front of goal about 25 out, then being used by his teammate coming out of the pack taking it on the chest and slotting his second.

Motlop continued to do the things he had been doing well in the third, whilst adding two goals for some additional impact and reward for all his hard work over the game. When given the freedom to push further up the ground, he finds the ball and can get into good spots to be a marking option, with generally strong ball use forward and a great ability to kick start scoring opportunities with his disposal choice.

Q4

As both teams reverted to a safer way of moving and carrying the ball the opportunities for a front and centre specialist dried up very quickly, meaning Motlop wasn’t as lively around the goals but still won a bait of ball around the boundary line inside 50. There were a couple of times he found himself stuck with a close option, but opted to kick to the square or go for goal, but the Swan Districts defenders would intercept and move the ball on. Moved up the ground and got a mark in the defensive 50 as South brought it in from a behind and kicked well to a teammate.

He essentially handed a goal to one of his taller teammates in the final quarter, as he collected a ground ball off one bounce about three meters out from the goal square, standing his ground in a tackle as he spun to face the goals, handballing it off to ensure it was a goal.

Closing thoughts:

It was an impressive debut at League level for Motlop after impressing at Colts and PSA levels through the year. He looked comfortable amongst bigger bodies and didn’t noticeably struggle with the physicality, looking courageous as he ran head first into packs and impacted contests in the forward half of the ground.

He had quite a few flashy moments with his agility and ability to find the right options with his disposal, setting up scoring plays, but his fundamentals of the game and work rate are what ultimately sets him up to be the smart and damaging player he is, forcing turnovers or backwards disposals from the opposition by pressuring them with his closing speed. This game showed a good base for Motlop and suggests plenty of potential to impact at the next level.

Image Credit: South Fremantle/WAFL

Scouting Notes | 2021 U17 National Championships: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro (Game 2)

A FIXTURE adjustment saw the Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17s face off once more, and it was the Country side which came out on top this time around – claiming a nine-point win in Bendigo. There were a few changes scattered across either side and plenty while the usual suspects continue to impress, others also put their hands up in representative colours. We run through some of the top performers in the latest edition of Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of the individual author.

>> Match Report: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro – Game 2

VIC COUNTRY:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)
9/11/2004 | 174cm | Small Forward

After a relatively quiet game in the previous fixture, Konstanty ended the game as Country’s leading goal kicker with three majors – all of which were different from the others, but all equally as exciting as he showed the ability to get goals through multiple avenues. The first goal came as he laid a strong tackle inside forward 50 and converted the shot on a slight angle. His second came as Country moved the ball quickly in transition, with Konstanty the only forward inside 50. He leaped up against two defenders and held the ball strongly above his head despite receiving contact, before slotting the goal from about 45 out. His third and final goal came from a long kick inside 50, where Konstanty managed to nudge his opponent off balance and beat the other defenders in a foot race for the loose ball, and dribbled it through. He had his opportunities to get more goals on the board, but chose to do the team first thing and pass it off to other teammates, even if he was in achievable positions.

#2 Jack O’Sullivan (Oakleigh Chargers)
22/10/2004 | 176cm | Forward/Inside Midfielder

Positioning more up forward than in the midfield, O’Sullivan played a great pressure forwards’ game. His attack on the ball and carrier in the forward half caused rushed disposals or turnovers from the Metro defenders, and quite often he laid some impressive tackles where he’d run in from seemingly nowhere to apply it. Showed some good leaping when he flew for the ball, taking a strong grab overhead early on where he took it at the highest point and followed up with a short kick inboard. He also showed an impressive sense of footy IQ in the second quarter where he got the ball from a teammate, running towards the boundary, then turned on a dime to hit a teammate inside 50 on the chest.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)
16/01/2004 | 182cm | Balanced Midfielder

Continued on from the previous fixture to be one of the best midfielders across the game, with his balance around the contest being a particularly big part of Country’s ability to get the ball forward often. Played well around stoppages, getting his way in front of opponents regularly and putting himself in a spot to win the ball cleanly, but still able to win it when it was a 50-50 and then get a quick handball out to a runner. The fact he found it so easy to keep his hands free when being tackled by opponents made it easier for him to get effective hands out, with his Metro opponents seemingly unable to pin an arm at any time. When playing more of a receiver role through the midfield, his movement around the contests to get into a prime spot for the handball was good, with his follow up burst always catching opponents off guard, allowing him to get free in space and take his time delivering well weighted kicks to his teammates.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/08/2004 | 178cm | Inside Midfielder/Small Forward

Whilst Long wasn’t necessarily as prolific as he had been the previous week, at least to the eye, he still managed to have a big impact in the win, working hard to get handball receives on the outside to keep Country moving forward. Looked at his best early on in the contest where he continued to do the impressive work with his contested side of the game, and follow up clean handballs. A later move into a more forward role would limit his ball winning opportunities, but allowed him to show off some polish with his kicking that he was missing previously, proving that when in space he can execute some penetrative kicks. Showed good smarts and vision as well, with some switch kicks later in the game allowing Country to ultimately get further up the ground than if he had taken other options.

#7 Max Clohesy (Murray Bushrangers)
12/02/2004 | 179cm | Defender

Playing a watertight defensive game, Clohesy was a consistent hindrance to Metro’s scoring attempts as he worked hard to impact the play in the defensive 50, and followed up strongly in transition to provide an offensive threat as well. Set the tone early in the backline with his rebound kicking looking good up to the wings or down the line, and aggression in collecting loose balls meaning Metro had to hit targets or it would be coming straight back out. Showed some impressive balance in the second quarter where he won the ball at ground level and managed to get his way through a pack of three or four opponents, keeping his feet and coming out the other side to deliver long up the ground for a teammate to run onto. Was measured in his pressing from the backline, never being too far away from his opponent as to let them have the ball uncontested, but also in a spot where he could intercept a rushed Metro kick.

#8 Sam Frangalas (Dandenong Stingrays)
20/04/2005 | 186cm | Midfielder/Forward

After missing selection in the first fixture, Frangalas took no time at all to validate his selection in this game. A strong bodied midfielder, Frangalas excelled with his work below his knees, even when under direct pressure, cleanly picking the ball up off the ground with one grab consistently and following up with quick hands to runners when the option was there, or using his footwork to get around opponents. One moment like this saw Frangalas pick the ball up with pressure form behind, fake one way, then fake the other and go on the third time round, handball to a teammate, then get it back and kick long inside 50. His kicking was also solid despite some errors, especially over long distance as he weighted and placed the kick well for leading teammates.

#9 Cooper Vickery (Gippsland Power)
16/12/2004 | 180cm | Defender

Playing in a similar manner to fellow defender Clohesy, Vickery was a more ‘defend first’ type of player in his approach to the game, although he didn’t allow it to stunt his overall game, as he was still able to impact the play away from his opponent, pushing to create outnumbers and get the ball out long. He contested well aerially and was a reliable intercept option, taking some contested grabs in the defensive 50.

#11 Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
23/07/2004 | 180cm | Inside Midfielder/Defender

Started the game looking like he may have a quieter one than the previous fixture, but worked into it as it went on to have a particularly strong second half. Just did his bread and butter stuff, which covers a lot of desirable traits, with his contested work standing out as he was again difficult to beat one-on-one at ground level, and even harder to bring down in tackles. Continually kept his arms free in congestion to fire off some extremely impressive handballs in close where he released runners into dangerous spots, with one moment in the third quarter catching the eye in particular, where he was being tackled by two opponents and had a third closing in, but he managed to hold his ground and get a handball out to a runner that kick-started a counter attack. His kicking was once again impressive for a player that’s almost always winning the footy in congestion, managing to get through traffic and hit targets laterally or leading at him, but he also chose the right options when in space or kicking from a mark. His marking looked improved from the previous fixture, flying high a few times and holding contested marks above his head, able to get on shoulders on a few occasions as well to get onlookers excited for more. Overall, Clark was arguably best on ground, with his defensive efforts resulting in a few promising Metro plays being stopped in their tracks in the final term.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)
18/03/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Making an immediate and consistent impact on the contest, Schuback built on the previous game where he displayed class and composure with ball in hand through the defensive half, winning more of the ball and running through the midfield to show exciting glimpses of his potential. Was clean through traffic early on, finding himself involved in congested plays around the top of the defensive 50 and weaving through traffic to dispose of the ball to free teammates – often putting it in front of leading teammates to run onto, or popping a handball over the top for teammates in close to collect and continue moving forward. Took the majority of the early kick-ins where he was balanced with his decisions, kicking to shorter options when the long ones were covered, but running it out and kicking long when a teammate presented well. Held his marks well, even getting a pack mark on the wing early on in front of four or five opponents. Looked comfortable with his move to the midfield, adding a touch of extra class and composure with his ball use and positioning.

#18 George Stevens (GWV Rebels)
14/04/2005 | 190cm | Defender

Playing a similar role to the previous game, Stevens often found himself as one of the last lines of defence for Country. Where others may have struggled with this role, Stevens thrived with his reactions in transition vital to a few of his intercept marks in the defensive 50 to stop Metro attacks. Used the ball well by foot on his shorter options, not afraid to go through the corridor out of defensive 50, and make himself an option for a follow up kick out wide. Was strong with his tackling and ground level work as well, not being knocked off balance and staying in it until the ball was out of play.

VIC METRO:

#1 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)
24/02/2005 | 168cm | Small Forward

The Eastern Ranges livewire forward was active and exciting as ever in the forward half for Metro. Early on in the game, Watson was roving off packs well in the forwardline, hitting the drop zone with speed and quickly handing out when he won it. Flew for a mark on the goalline and held it well, but it was unfortunately called over the line for a behind. Kicked Metro’s first goal when he reacted well to a teammate moving out of congestion, getting separation on the lead, taking it on the chest and converting. Was present without being exceptional in the middle two quarters, getting a few nice touches and impressing with his kicking, but it was his final quarter that stood out the most, as he slotted three of his own goals to almost drag Metro to a victory. All three were good displays of his forward instinct, with the most impressive being his final one as he got it out the back of a pack on the goal line and got boot to ball before an opponent could.

#5 Kai Windsor (Eastern Ranges)
27/01/2004 | 178cm | Wing

Demonstrating his class and elusiveness with the ball, Windsor was a delight to see throughout the contest. Made the wing his own for a large chunk of the game, looking particularly damaging with his attacking plays by foot. Had a moment in the first quarter where he collected a ground ball running towards his defensive goals, gave it off via hand and got it back two times, then turned on a dime and hit a centring kick, showing his composure and elusiveness. Held his space well, highlighted best in the third quarter where he was on the opposite wing to a stoppage on the defensive 50 mark, was used by the clearance winner that placed the ball in front of him, where he collected it at full speed, took a couple of bounces and kicked long inside 50. Whilst he had his flashy plays and impressive kicks, a standout feature of Windsor’s game is his approach to ground balls under pressure, pushing opponents away with his hips to take the ball a little easier and burst away after collecting it.

#10 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/06/2004 | 181cm | Inside Midfielder

Wardlaw demonstrated his strength throughout the contest, regularly able to fend off opponents trying to bring him down, or stand up in tackles even when two opponents were hanging off him in an attempt to bring him down. Kept his hands free through congestion as well, letting him release to runners with his quick hands in tight. He won a lot of first possession around stoppages, positioning well to ensure there wasn’t any opposition between himself and the ball, giving him a clean run at it and quickly firing out hands. Was a strong tackler, particularly around stoppages, making it particularly difficult for the inside midfielders from Country to consistently get the ball out after winning first possession off ruck taps.

#13 Paul Pascu (Calder Cannons)
20/08/2004 | 183cm | Defender/Midfielder

Playing in a variety of roles, Pascu looked at his best when given an extended run through the rover role in the final term, where his attack on the footy from the rucks’ hands and in the contest was a big part in Metro’s late scoreboard surge. He was clean with the footy for most of the contest, not looking fazed by pressure or congestion around him to deliver well weighted kicks forward for his teammates to run onto without issue. Was defensively accountable throughout the game, with one particular tackle in the last quarter on the wing proving vital for a late goal, as he got a free kick for holding the ball.

#15 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)
20/05/2004 | 184cm | Defender/Balanced Midfielder

Starting the game in the defensive 50, Teal was particularly impressive with his contested marking, standing strong and holding the ball over his head multiple times. He drifted off his opponent to take intercept marks in front of packs early on in the game, and followed up with smart ball use by foot, often looking to switch the ball and get Metro taking up space. Moved into the midfield from the third quarter onwards where he had some nice moments with his disposal, with his handballing under pressure particularly impressive from stoppages – able to read the ball well off rucks hands and then quickly fire a handball of his own to the outside. Showed a lot of courage with his tendency to sit under the flight of the ball in an effort to mark it or receive a handball on the full, not flinching even with contact and then releasing the ball quickly.

#16 Elijah Tsatas (Oakleigh Chargers)
18/10/2004 | 184cm | Wing/Half-Back

Already looking like one of the top end prospects for 2022, Tsatas managed to have a major impact throughout the entirety of the contest despite being put into the backline at times, with his burst of speed particularly eye-catching and leading to some exciting plays. That same burst got him separation on the outside really quickly, making him a dangerous runner when given the handball from an inside ball winner, running it the distance before following up with a penetrative kick. His kicking was superb throughout the clash as well, regularly putting it to the advantage of his teammates, or pinpointing it straight to their chest when he could. On the rare occasion he found himself stuck in congestion or in the thick of the contest, his quick hands, and ability to keep them free, meant the ball didn’t get held up – even having a moment where he jumped to collect the ball mid air from a handball, and immediately fired it off to a teammate as he was tackled.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

SANFL Under 18s Player Focus: Cooper Murley (Norwood)

NORWOOD midfielder and AFL Academy member Cooper Murley has had an interrupted start to his 2021 football season. Having played two games in the SANFL Reserves, an ankle injury kept him out of action for one and a half months, resulting in him missing the AFL Academy game against Geelong VFL in April. 

After returning through the Reserves in Rounds 8 and 9, Murley was brought in to the Norwood Under 18’s side in Round 10 for its clash against South Adelaide. The contest was close but ended with the Redlegs going down by nine points to the Panthers. Murley was prolific in his first Under 18’s game for the season, with a team-high 34 disposals and seven clearances, to draw attention for this week’s SANFL U18’s Player Focus.

Cooper Murley
Norwood/ South Australia

DOB: 20/06/2003
Height/Weight: 178cm/70kg
Position: Midfielder/Small Forward

2021 Averages:

SANFL Reserves: 4 games | 12 disposals | 7.8 kicks | 4.3 handballs | 3 marks | 2.8 tackles | 0.8 clearances | 2.3 inside 50s | 0.8 rebound 50s | 0.8 goals (3 total)

2021 SANFL U18s, Round 10 | Norwood 10.10 (70) def by. South Adelaide 11.13 (79)
#1 Cooper Murley (Norwood)

Stats: 34 disposals (22 kicks, 12 handballs), 5 marks, 3 tackles, 7 clearances, 8 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s, 2 goals, 1 behind

Q1: 

To start off his 2021 Under 18s campaign, Murley wasn’t overly involved early. He was put into the forward line initially, unable to impact much outside of drawing a player at an early inside 50 stoppage. It wouldn’t be until the 10-minute mark of the first quarter that Murley would come alive. Once moved into the midfield, he looked lively around stoppages, positioning himself well to be a handball receiver from whoever gathered first possession. His first clearance would come not long after his move into the guts, having it palmed down straight to him around the defensive 50 mark, handballing back and then getting it again closer to the boundary line, unable to hit his intended target by foot in the middle of the ground. 

He worked hard to assist in defence when it was down there, earning himself a free kick at one stage and initiating a promising bit of play with his switch kick. From there, Murley’s work was done exclusively at ground level, able to pick the ball up cleanly, even when under direct pressure, and fire off precise handballs to teammates. His approach to ground balls was near perfect in the first quarter, positioning his body well to protect himself and keep his arms free from contact, then getting the handballs away quickly as he stood up, rather than standing up then handballing. 

It was a strong start to his Under 18’s return, looking a class above when he had the ball and in contests, able to beat bigger opponents at ground level almost exclusively with how he positioned his body when picking the ball up.

Q2:

Murley once again started the quarter in the forwardline but looked to push up straight away, in a high half-forward sort of role. This got him pushing up the ground deeply and more involved in transition from the defensive half for Norwood, where he was the target of a lot of kicks early on. In those situations, he utilised his speed to run onto the ball, even taking a mark running with the flight. He showcased his clean hands below his knees a few times, with the most impressive being a clean pickup off the ground as soon as the ball hit it, so much so it could’ve been paid a mark. To follow that up he handballed to a teammate, then worked hard to u-turn and get in front of the running pack of players, getting a handball over the top and having a shot on goal from 50 out, which was touched just before the line. 

Two things were really obvious in the second quarter in regards to Murley; number one was how good his repeat efforts are, having a couple of marks spoiled or just not being able to hold them, but following up superbly at ground level to win the footy and shoot off a quick handball to a teammate. Number two was how dangerous he was when given even the slightest bit of space to work with, taking the advantage from a couple of free kicks for teammates, where he’d burst away, take a bounce and deliver well forward, with a moment like this leading to his second goal of the quarter right before the siren. 

His first goal was a great showing off his work rate and danger in transition, where a teammate put the ball in front of him, he ran onto it and picked up cleanly, then delivered a pinpoint kick to a teammate inside 50, ran hard to get the handball receive and snapped it through. 

Overall it was definitely a higher production quarter from Murley as he got more involved. As he did so, it got him more attention from opposition as he was being stuck to like glue around stoppages towards the end of the quarter, and given a bit of rough treatment in tackles, which he handled well. His use by foot improved from the first quarter which made Norwood more dangerous in transition.

Q3:

A quieter quarter than the last for Murley, though he still chimed in with moments of class when he was given the space and used by teammates, with his kicking taking yet another step up to hit essentially every target, or be put to their advantage, perfectly.

Murley’s hands were extra sticky in the third, holding onto a few handball receives he got at pace, before quickly composing himself to deliver a kick forward. His first real involvement played out exactly like this, with the kick and inside 50 that should’ve been marked, but wasn’t. He took a mark a little later at the back-end of the centre square, quickly wheeling onto his right side and kicking it a good 50 meters to go out the back of a pack for Norwood’s quick smalls to run onto. Later on in the quarter, he took an impressive contested grab on the far wing, not breaking stride to play on and deliver it well to a teammate at the top of the 50. 

It was more of the same brilliance for Murley overall, with his one-grab pickups below his knees continually impressive and his vision excellent to hit targets most others wouldn’t even attempt.

Q4:

Started the quarter in the midfield for the first time all game as the Redlegs needed to find a way to put the game to rest. He was in and under from the get go, getting first hands to the ball from the ruck tap and being wrapped up straight away. Unfortunately he had to spend some time on the bench as early on he copped a corkie after being ran into on the boundary line, coming on about five minutes later. 

Murley didn’t let the injury stop him throwing himself into contests and getting involved, earning a free kick in the defensive half for a good tackle and looking to spread it out wide. He took a mark later on in the quarter and sent it deep inside 50 for a teammate to mark, but unfortunately miss the resultant shot on the goal. 

It’s no surprise that Norwood started to struggle when Murley had to go off to deal with the corkie, highlighting his importance to their play in what was the worst time to see it.

Final thoughts…

There’s no doubting Murley’s quality as a player and it’s clear to see why he’s part of the AFL Academy for 2021. Despite being smaller in stature he wasn’t phased when in contests with bigger bodies, using his smarts to gain the advantages he could and win most contests reliably. At ground level there was no one better, Murley never fumbled and his hands were too quick for opponents to react to in close. Balancing himself as a midfielder is a real strength of Murley’s as well, working hard on the inside and outside to fill the roles well, and that versatility is an asset to any team he ends up a part of in future. Whilst his kicking and marking were more often good than not, they’re two areas from this game he could look to sharpen up on.

Image Credit: Hannah Howard/SANFL

Blue trumps yellow in South Australian Under 17s Championships

WITH the Under 17s AFL Women’s Championship matches continuing, some of South Australia’s top products heading into future drafts went head-to-head at Thebarton Oval on Saturday June 5 in front of recruiters and footy fans. Split into two teams, SA Blue and SA Yellow, it was Blue that would come out on top at the final siren, never dropping the lead all day to win the game by 23 points, 8.9 (57) to 5.4 (34).

The first quarter saw SA Blue register plenty of scoring shots, but unable to truly take advantage of the shots, they ended the quarter 2.5 (17). With Deriney Headon opening the game with a goal less than two minutes in, the Blue side would register four behinds in a row before seeing their second goal, courtesy of Timeka Cox about 10 minutes later. Despite the inaccuracy, they managed to hold SA Yellow scoreless for the first term.

Yellow would not get their first score on the board until 10 minutes into the second quarter, as Astrid Gooley got herself on the scoreboard with a goal – Yellow’s only score of the first half. SA Blue did not manage much better however, unable to maintain their first term scoreboard impact, as they got just the one behind and one goal with Marlie Fiegert registering the major, in what would end up the lowest scoring quarter for the contest.

The third quarter saw SA Blue break away from SA Yellow scoring 3.3 to just the 1.2, with Mia Nolan-Grigg, Tiah Hough and Shineah Goody adding one each to the teams goalkickers list, taking advantage of their sides’ midfield strength and inside 50 count. SA Yellow had Gooley to thank again for their single goal, finding the sticks well to impact out the front.

Gooley refused to stop there, with a two-goal final quarter effort seeing her kick four of Yellow’s five total goals, with the remaining major kicked by Georgia McKee a little over halfway through the quarter. Yellow unfortunately could not stifle the efforts of Blue as much as they did in the second quarter, as Goody booted her second, and Elaine Grigg snatched one early in the quarter. 

Lana Schwerdt (29 disposals, two clearances, eight inside 50s) was the joint leading disposal-getter for the game, sharing the honours with teammate Grigg (29, four and eight), with Fiegert (27, three and three) not far behind. Grigg also laid an impressive 10 tackles, equal highest with Blue teammate Chloe Whitington-Charity. Matilda Scholz gathered the most hitouts with 10, three more than the next best on ground.

SA Yellow had some valiant performances despite the loss, with Gooley kicking four goals to double the next best goal kicker of the game. Jemma Whitington-Charity (20 disposals, eight marks, four rebound 50s), Kate Argent-Bowden (20, five, six) and Grace McNicol (20, three tackles, two clearances) were the main ball-winners for Yellow, whilst Bethany Sigley laid an impressive nine tackles. Millie McCarthy proved to be a big driver from defence with a match-high 11 rebound 50s.

SA BLUE 2.5 | 3.6 | 6.9 | 8.9 (57)
SA YELLOW 0.0 | 1.0 | 2.2 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS:

Blue: S. Goody 2, E. Grigg, M. Fiegert, T. Hough, T. Cox, D. Headon, M. Nolan-Grigg.
Yellow: A. Gooley 4, G. McKee.

Picture credit: Mark Brake/AFL Photos

QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

DESPITE a loss in their Round 13 QAFLW fixture against the undefeated Bond University, AFLW Academy and Brisbane Lions Academy members, Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith, put in strong performances to further solidify their placing as two of the most promising Queensland prospects for the upcoming AFLW Draft. Having both impressed in the recent U19 AFLW Championship fixture against Vic Country, Harmer as a defender and Smith more through the midfield, Brisbane fans will be more than happy to see the two of them make the step up.

>> MIKAYLA PAUGA PLAYER FOCUS

PLAYER PROFILE:

MAGGIE HARMER | MAROOCHYDORE
12/04/2003 | DEFENDER

Making a name for herself as a reliable defender, who plays well above her 170cm height against taller opponents, Harmer is perhaps most well known for her aerial work and clean ball use out of the defensive 50. In the recent Under 19s AFLW National Championships match against Vic Country, she took five marks in the defensive half on her way to getting named in the best, being trusted with kick ins duty for majority of the game.

BELLA SMITH | MAROOCHYDORE
5/10/2003 | UTILITY

Able to fill a role in all thirds of the ground, Smith credits her strength as one of her best traits, but also shows great speed and ball winning ability. It is clear to see why she is able to impact in all areas of the ground. Racking up 14 disposals in the recent U19 AFLW National Championships match against Vic Country, Smith was one of the better users of the ball, often looking to switch play, highlighting her footy smarts.

 

Q1:

Harmer

Stationed in her usual role in the defensive 50, Harmer was involved early on as she spoiled a few marks around the 50-metre mark, not being afraid of running off her opponent to create an outnumber. Harmer’s ball use was often strong, generally handballing to a runner from behind rather than kicking to 50/50 options.

Harmer finished the quarter with 3 Kicks, 3 Handballs and 1 Mark in a very respectable first term where she had some crucial moments with her ball use out of the defensive 50 and work rate to create contests.

Smith

Starting the quarter in the defensive half as a player that pressured opponents well and forced some turnovers for teammates to take advantage of, whilst Smith was good in defensive 50, it was when she got her rotation into the midfield where she thrived, often in the best spot to win clearances and making herself an option as a switch kick to open up the game going forward.

Coming out of the first term with 3 Kicks, 2 Handballs, 1 Mark and 1 Centre Clearance Smith was more involved than her stats suggest, applying pressure and keeping her opponent accountable as a midfielder.

 

Q2:

Harmer

Again in the backline with Maroochydore under a little bit more pressure than the previous quarter, Harmer took majority of the kick ins, where she would run out and kick the ball past the front of the centre square, even taking a bounce at one stage in a remarkable show of confidence. She gave away a harsh free kick for in the back early in the quarter.

Collected 3 Kicks, 1 Handball, 1 Tackle, 1 FA in the second quarter, continuing to create outnumbers in the defensive 50 to stop Bond University scoring as much as they could have.

Smith

Got involved in the same ways off the ball she did in the first quarter, applying pressure on opponents with the ball to force them to rush disposals and not hit targets. Despite not landing a couple of tackles she never let it get her confidence down, working continually hard and eventually getting rewarded later in the quarter, catching an opponent for holding the ball.

Finished the quarter with 2 Kicks, 3 Tackles and 1 FF she wasn’t quite as prolific in collecting the ball in the second, but looked even more dangerous in the second with her tackling and pressure work.

Bella Smith running away from her opponent.

Q3:

Harmer

Harmer moved up to be the sole kick-in player for Maroochydore, doing the same work as in the second quarter with her running out of the square and looking to get the ball far up the ground. She did the same audacious bounce as the previous quarter, but unfortunately got caught by an opponent when it slipped past her, doing well not to concede a free kick.

Getting 3 Kicks, 1 Handball and 1 Mark, for the quarter, with her four disposals all being effective ones and fairly damaging, and seemingly learning from her mistake with the bounce, she adjusted and did not attempt it again.

Smith

A move into a midfield and forward line split rather than the backline paid dividends for Smith in the third, winning more of the ball and being a driving force in getting Maroochydore forward with her ball use and ability to get around opponents. Seemingly gained more confidence around stoppages the longer she spent in the midfield.

Ending the quarter with 4 Kicks, 1 Handball, 1 Mark, 1 Centre Clearance and 1 Clearance, Smith saw a good return stats wise for her extended time in the midfield, without seeing a drop in her pressure work either

Q4:

Harmer

With the game coming to a close and Bond University looking increasingly likely to win, Harmer never dropped her effort, seeing her end as one of the more vital players for Maroochydore, with her ball use getting better and better as the game went on. With just the one blemish for the quarter being another harsh in the back call.

4 Kicks, 2 Handballs, 1 Mark and 1 Free Against, was the return for Harmer in the final quarter, which was arguably her best performance across the game, linking up well with teammates to keep Bond from scoring as much as they could have.

Smith

Looking increasingly more confident on the inside of the contest and around stoppages, especially in the forward half, with her pinpoint handballing leading to inside 50s and scoring opportunities.

The final quarter return for Smith was 1 Kick, 3 Handballs and 1 Clearance, with most of her work done in the forward half, she still applied that pressure she had shown through the whole game.

Maggie Harmer looking to make a lead at half-back.

SUMMARY:

Harmer: 20 Disposals, 12 Kicks, 8 Handballs, 3 Marks, 2 FA

Getting a high return for a defender, especially one that often played deep, Harmer put in a good performance despite the loss, and her kicks from opposition behinds were often put into good spots to result in inside 50s, with Bond’s team setting up well behind the play to stop that eventuating. Although only holding three marks, she flew for everything that was in her area, showing that with some assistance on her marking technique she’ll be an even bigger aerial threat.

 

Smith: 16 Disposals, 10 Kicks, 6 Handballs, 2 Marks, 3 Tackles, 1 FF, 2 Centre Clearances, 2 Clearances

Being thrown about in all thirds of the ground, Smith was able to maintain a consistent level of pressure, whilst chiming in with quality disposals when she got it. Her strength and speed around stoppages was a big advantage over her opponents, unable to be matched for speed when she locked on to a loose ball. With those strengths, her game is sure to translate well to the next level.

WA Gold level AFLW U17s series with big win over Black

THE second game for the Western Australia AFL Women’s U17s was not quite the contest the previous game was, as WA Gold came in looking to rectify the result, delivering with a resounding victory over WA Black who were held scoreless in the second term as WA Gold ran rampant on the scoreboard, taking home the victory with the final scoreboard reading 8.6 (54) to 3.3 (21).

WA GOLD 4.3 | 6.5 | 8.5 | 8.6 (54)
WA BLACK 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.3 (21)

It would not take long for the scoring to start, with WA U19 Representative Emily Boothman getting seven points on the board for WA Black in the first three minutes, the only score for Black for the half. Tyla Fitzgerald would respond not long after with a goal of her own. The game became a real contest for the next five or so minutes, with both midfields battling hard to try and inch it closer to their respective forward 50’s. The hard work of Olivia Cripps would see Meg Mcaullay deliver a darting kick inside 50 for Tamashya Blurton to take an easy mark and narrowly missing to the right. It would not take long for her to get her first however, taking advantage of a smothered ball in the forward 50 and kicking it through for her first. Gold would kick two more majors for the quarter through Izabella Mirchevska and Riley Hall seeing the quarter end 4.3 (27) to 1.1 (7).

With some fatigue in the legs, it took a little longer for the second quarter’s first goal, as both teams again battled hard in the midfield, seeing the ball ping back and forth between both ends of the ground. The first goal would come from Blurton, who was able to take advantage of a miskick from the WA Black defender, and snap the goal from about 35 meters out. It would not take long for them to get their second on the board either, with Mirchevska getting on to the end of a very good Charlotte Tompkin inside 50 kick, able to convert from the set shot, finishing the quarter 6.5 (41) to 1.1 (7).

After the main break, like the previous fixture, the magnets were thrown about and majority of the girls were in new positions, seeing the game go back to a genuine arm wrestle in the midfield, with both defences in overdrive to repel any opposition inside 50’s. The first goal would not come until almost seven minutes into the quarter, where Abbygail Bushby got onto the end of a small handball chain from WA Gold, took a few steps and snapped through on her left boot for a goal. Not looking to go without a goal for a second quarter, WA Black had most of the play for the rest of the quarter, with Holly Britton being around and involved in a lot of inside 50 contests and finally breaking through for a goal. WA Gold would have their opportunities later on, with the WA Black defence holding up well despite the pressure, forcing it over the boundary line. Anjelique Raison took advantage of her strength to force front position for the throw in, follow up her own tap and kick the goal with just a minute and a half left, seeing the score at the final break 8.5 (53) to 2.2 (14).

As the game came to a close with the final quarter fatigue set in, seeing an increase in congestion and long bombs around the ground, meaning we saw less scoring for the quarter. The only goal came from Boothman for her second, as the WA Black forward line took advantage of a long bomb and handballed it around, until they reached Boothman who was running past without an opponent, able to kick truly through goal, with the final score reading 8.6 (54) to 3.3 (21).

GOALS:

Gold: T. Blurton 2, I. Michevska 2, R. Hall, T. Fitzgerald, A. Raison, A. Bushby
Black:
E. Boothman 2, H. Britton

DC BESTS:

Gold: K. Van Den Heever, T. Fitzgerald, J. Henry, R. Hall, A. Bushby, A. Raison
Black:
G. Fenton, Z. Fish, J. Haines, E. Boothman, A. Reich, N. Browne

 

TOP PERFORMERS:

#17 Kayla Van den Heever (WA Gold): Spending a lot of her game time in the defensive half, where she was one of the main drivers out of the backline for WA Gold, looking particularly dangerous in the second half when WA Black started to get a bit of delivery from the midfield. Van Den Heever was not scared about taking risks, taking on opponents with her run, getting around them and then kicking forward to try and get the ball clear of scoring areas. Not just kicking though, she was good with balancing her disposal, often drawing in opponents to commit to tackling her and then handballing to a loose teammate.

#15 Tyla Fitzgerald (WA Gold): Playing majority of the game in the forward half, Fitzgerald had some flashy moments, where her confidence to take on opponents was on show. Utilising her agility, she had no issues finding ways to get out of tight spots and move the ball on to teammates deeper inside 50, even giving an opponent a ‘don’t argue’ in the second term when running inside 50. With her combination of agility and good use by foot, she was naturally apart of a lot of WA Gold play in the forward half, as Gold actively looked to use her where they could. Had some stints through the midfield where those same strengths were obvious and just made her difficult to match up on.

#28 Jaime Henry (WA Gold): Unsurprisingly Henry played a similar role to the one she played in the previous game, being thrown about into a few different positions but still managing to maintain a consistent impact on the contest. When in defence or up forward she still pushed up the ground to applying pressure in tighter situations, with no one able to break her tackles once she latched on. She won plenty of it on the inside, with no opponent able to pin her arms or bring her down, she was racking up contested possessions, then firing out handballs with ease, but also taking the time to assess options and kick if there was someone leading for it.

#33 Anjelique Raison (WA Gold): Playing almost exclusively in the ruck, Raison arguably was the most impactful of the rucks on field. Despite giving up a bit of height in most ruck contests, Raison was unmatched when following up at ground level, leading to her winning an equal game high 5 clearances. These clearances were not the typical blind bombs either, she was measured in her disposal, often handballing off to an outside opponent and at one stage kicking a goal from one inside 50. In the ruck duels, she would battle for front position and often make it near impossible for her opponents to win.

#30 Riley Hall (WA Gold): Using her agility and speed whenever she had the ball to get significant meters behind her ball use, Hall was one of the more exciting players to watch on field. Spending her time 50/50 between forward and midfield, her game sense and ability to win the footy lead to her topping the disposal charts for Gold, utilising her kick and that previously mentioned game sense to spot up kicks in the corridor, setting up a couple of scoring opportunities in the first half.

#2 Abbygail Bushby (WA Gold): Playing mostly off the wing, Bushby’s speed was arguably her biggest weapon in the game, often receiving a handball from the inside of the contest, bursting away and then kicking forward to a contest in the forward half, with a game high six inside 50’s she was arguably the biggest driver of play offensively. Had the opportunity to kick a goal after the siren in the second quarter, but unfortunately missed, making up for it in the third at the end of an impressive team handball chain.

#16 Emily Boothman (WA Black): Once again looked comfortable as a link up forward, pushing higher up the ground to take marks and then deliver to other leading forwards or kicking inside 50 for teammates to run onto. Opened up the game with the first behind and goal, she ended up as WA Black’s only multiple goal scorer, trying to create whenever she was deep forward. Not selfish with her approach though, she handballed when there was a clear option there. One particular highlight was in the second quarter, where she led up the ground, with the ball dropping short she picked it up and fended off an opponent.

#4 Zippy Fish (WA Black): The winner of the WA U17 AFLW Championship MVP, Zippy was once again an excitement machine with her speed particularly eye catching. A little quiet in the first half, when she was given a bit more of a free rein in the midfield in the second half she started looking more and more dangerous. Although not as clean as the previous game, she still looked good moving the ball forward and weaving through traffic. Her pressure work and tackling was noticeably higher quality to match the more congested game, showing that she is not only willing to contribute in offensive play.

#13 Gracie Fenton (WA Black): Accumulating a game high 22 disposals, Fenton enjoyed a high quality outing splitting her time between the midfield and defence. It was impressive to see that, despite winning a lot of footy on the inside she was still composed and clean with her ball use, placing the ball in front of her teammates to run onto without breaking stride, or kicking to the advantage of her forwards. Positioned well when in defence, taking a couple of uncontested intercept marks in the third quarter.

#1 Jorja Haines (WA Black): The Fremantle father-daughter prospect, with her father Daniel playing 16 games, looked most impressive when she was thrown into the midfield, positioning well around stoppages to win clearances, where her composure with the footy held her in good stead to use the footy well and find teammates in the corridor or leading at her. When she was not winning the clearances she did well to force poor disposal from the opposition with her pressure and tackling work.

SANFLW Player Focus: Zoe Venning (West Adelaide)

LEADING the game for disposals, West Adelaide young gun Zoe Venning played a major role in her sides win against Norwood in the recent SANFLW Preliminary Final, where the Wests’ secured their maiden Grand Final berth against Glenelg, who are also appearing on the big stage for the first time. An Under 19s South Australian representative at the recent AFLW National Championships, Venning was a major ball winner, particularly strong around stoppages and on the inside, where her toughness and speed were major weapons, she carried on that style into the game. 

ZOE VENNING | WEST ADELAIDE
4/11/2003 | MIDFIELDER/FORWARD

PLAYER PROFILE:

Arguably one the top South Australian draft prospects for the upcoming 2021 AFLW Draft, Venning is possibly best known for her toughness around the contest and elite endurance, allowing her to run out games without needing an extended break on the bench. She is comfortable either up forward or through the midfield, positioning well to get in front of opponents and create separation, which is particularly handy for her leading and clearance work. Venning is often balanced with her disposal, rarely blazing away and just kicking without assessing her options, where she looks for outside runners to handball to. 

PRELIMINARY FINAL SANFLW v NORWOOD

Q1:

Starting the game in her usual spot at half forward, Venning was involved early, pushing up the ground to be a link up option from the defensive half for West Adelaide, able to get separation a few times and take the marks uncontested and on the chest. The Norwood defence did well to create packs down the line, limiting the effectiveness of her kicks when she did not move the ball quickly. She hung around her ruck when she got a mark or free and attempted to get the handball receive and utilise her kick. She set up Wests first goal, getting the ball from a teammate just inside 50, then kicking into the hot spot about 35 meters in front of goal for a teammate to mark.

With the first term getting her a return of 6 kicks, 2 marks, 1 tackle and 1 free for, she was involved a fair bit and one of the main drivers heading into the forward 50. When she was in the midfield she had the opportunity to win a few clearances but had an opponent tight on her at all stoppages, making it difficult to get separation.

Q2:

With the heightened pressure, in the second term, it was hard for forwards to get clear leads or marks, meaning Venning found it harder to get involved early on playing the link up role. When the ball went in deeper forward 50 she looked dangerous, putting her head over the footy and getting the free kick for a high tackle, taking a shot on goal that was accurate but unfortunately dropped short. She was once again involved around stoppages and got first possession a couple of times, but the Norwood midfield were not giving an inch and were right onto her as soon as she did. Got a free kick for a holding the ball tackle later in the quarter, kicking deep to a contest.

Racked up 5 kicks, 1 handball, 1 tackle and 2 frees for in what was a good quarter overall, playing more midfield than she did in the first and making the most of that opportunity, unfortunately not getting clearances she probably deserves given her positioning work around stoppages, just unable to get through the other side at times.

Q3:

A good display as a balanced type of midfielder for Venning in the third quarter, she played her role really well in the midfield, positioning behind the ball to take an uncontested chest mark early on, and looking to use her kick to get Wests moving quickly. Looking to balance her disposal more she was not so quick to just bomb the ball long, rather assessing if there was a handball option first and then making the decision quickly.

Finishing the quarter with 4 kicks, 2 handballs, 1 mark and 1 free for she was again consistently involved and one of the more noticeable ball winners for the quarter. Again being rewarded for her courage with her head over the ball and drawing the free.

Q4:

A more quiet final term than her first three did not mean Venning had a lesser impact, almost more involved around the play with her pressure work and one-percenters, just unable to convert that into stats. Received a free kick when she was held without the ball in the centre of the ground, with a long kick inside 50 for a teammate to run onto and kick the final goal of the game.

The final quarter saw a return of 1 kick, 2 handballs, 1 free for and 1 clearance as Wests came home strong, securing the win and their maiden Grand Final berth within the SANFLW.

SUMMARY:

21 Disposals, 16 Kicks, 5 Handballs, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 5 frees for
(Note: Discrepancies from official stats may come down to different interpretation or events happening off screen)

Splitting her time about 50/50 in the forward line and midfield, it was impressive how Venning was able to impact to a high standard in both positions, with her pressure work and run particularly impressive. She was not afraid to go in for the contested footy, and the willingness to go in and put herself on the line resulted in her drawing some free kicks she otherwise would not have gotten. With the likes of Richmond listed Sarah Dargan and recently crowned SANFLW League Best and Fairest Lauren Young, in the side, to come out of the game as the leading ball winner for her side is an impressive result and will certainly catch the eyes of recruiters, not just in SA.

WAFLW Player Focus: Amy Franklin (Claremont)

PLAYING a crucial role in her sides win against South Fremantle, WA’s Amy Franklin continued what has been an impressive year where she has announced herself as one of the top WA prospects in the upcoming 2021 AFLW Draft. A representative at Under 19’s level for WA in the recent National Championships, Franklin has shown consistently she can play up either end to great success, an aspect of her game which is sure to see either of Fremantle or West Coast more than happy to bring her onboard. With the WAFLW season coming to a close shortly, and Claremont needing the win as they prepare for some difficult fixtures against fellow top 4 sides Subiaco and Peel Thunder, Franklin was placed up forward and through the ruck for the game.

PLAYER PROFILE:

AMY FRANKLIN | CLAREMONT (WEST PERTH)
4/02/2003 | TALL UTILITY

One of the most highly rated WA Draft Prospects for the 2021 AFLW Draft, Franklin is a tall player capable of playing as a Defender, Ruck or Forward, making her a valuable asset to any team she’s apart of given her versatility. This versatility saw her fill roles as both a Key Position Defender and Forward in the recent NAB AFLW U19 Championships, when WA clashed with the Allies and VIC Metro. Some of Franklins most impressive traits are her athleticism for her height, with her speed, agility and leap all high level and her marking, especially above head, complimenting her preferred position as a Key Position Forward.

 

ROUND 13 WAFLW v South Fremantle

Q1:

Starting the quarter inside 50, Franklin was up the wrong end to have an impact early as South Fremantle controlled the play to keep it in their forward half. She followed her opponent up the ground and laid a smother to stop the ball getting sent back inside defensive 50 about four minutes in. Her first bit pf possession resulted in the first goal of the game, taking advantage of some quick ball movement from Claremont to take an overhead mark just behind her opponent, an impressive grab for the wet conditions, and kicked truly to put it straight through the middle. In the latter stages of the quarter she moved into the ruck, coming up against fellow WA Under 19’s representative Lauren Wakfer, with neither able to get a clear win in the contests they were against each other for.

Ending the quarter with 1 kick, 1 mark, 1 goal and 1 hitout it was not a quarter with big numbers for Franklin, but there is no doubting she had a big impact at times.

 

Q2:

A similar quarter positionally to the last, Franklin started in the forward 50 early and then moved into the ruck, back into the forward 50. Was more involved overall in the second, pushing up the ground early and getting two handballs up on the wing, where she won it on the inside and then got it out to teammates running past. She then reaped the rewards of some hard work by Claremont, where there was a turnover forced through pressure in the forward 50, and she got the handball from a teammate and snapped her second for the game from about 35 out, then running to the bench for her rotation. Came back on as a Ruck and competed well against Wakfer, winning one hitout where she collected it at ground level and kicked it long for the clearance.

Finishing with 3 Kicks, 3 handballs, 1 clearance, 1 goal and 2 hitouts she certainly had higher numbers in the second quarter, but her willingness to go in and compete for the contested footy was particularly impressive and gave Claremont some additional strength at ground level in the forward half.

 

Q3:  

Impacted mostly by the team looking to take advantage of the wind and bomb it long, Franklin was often in a good position for a handball around contests in the forward half but was rarely used. She also looked to push up the ground a bit more in the third, providing as a switch option at one stage, where she got used and quickly sent Claremont forward with a well placed kick. Positioned well just outside the 50-metre mark when it was locked in the Claremont 50, being around the ball as it spilled out and getting the one kick the set up a scoring opportunity

Collected the 2 kicks, 1 handball, 1 mark and 1 tackle in the third where once again she was thrown about from forward to ruck, and spent more time on the bench than she had done in the previous two quarters.

 

Q4:

Looking dangerous early, Franklin was unfortunately forced off for an extended period due to what appeared to be a rolled ankle but powered through to come back on and get a few more touches. What was most impressive was her ability to hold her feet in a groundball contest, which lead to the injury, but was showed good strength and endeavour to remain standing. Once again got into the right spots but unfortunately wasn’t used even when she was the best option.

Franklin collected 3 handballs and 1 mark in the final term despite the reduced time on ground and not getting her usual run through the ruck, with her handballs again looking to find teammates already on the run and placed in front of them.

 

SUMMARY:

13 Disposals, 6 Kicks, 7 Handballs, 3 Marks, 1 Tackle, 1 Clearance, 3 Hitouts, 2 Goals

For a player positioned mostly as a Forward, Franklin had a respectable showing with her stat line, maintaining a consistent impact on the game with her roaming up the ground on the wings, trying to present as a switch option for her teammates. When she was used her ball use was good, whilst not always hitting teammates directly is was always put to their advantage so that they could run onto the ball and collect it easily. Franklin was not used as the main target inside 50 which certainly gave her less opportunity than she could have gotten, but it was obvious the opposition were wary of her, playing Fremantle listed Mim Strom on her at various stages of the game. Franklin’s athleticism for her height is obvious, with her agility one of her more impressive traits for the game.

QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)

WITH the Under 19s AFL Women’s National Championships match against VIC Metro being delayed from the weekend due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the QAFL Women’s was treated to a plethora of Queensland state representatives returning to their sides, with Bond University welcoming back AFLW National Academy and Brisbane Lions Academy member Mikayla Pauga against reigning premiers Yeronga South Brisbane, looking to keep their undefeated start to the season continuing.

PLAYER PROFILE:

Pauga is one of the leading Queensland prospects for the 2021 AFLW Draft, often splitting her time between the forward line and midfield, she uses her clean skills, particularly her quick hands, to compliment her stoppage work, able to spot out her loose teammates and put the ball in an advantageous spot for them to run onto. Her work off the ball is also a staple of her game, working hard to lay tackles, apply pressure and force mistakes on the inside, but also looking to control the corridor and provide meaningful leads as a forward, where she gets separation through her game sense and delivers the ball well by foot afterwards. Usually pushing up the ground as a forward, she’s also handy closer to goal, with 14 goals in her 10 QAFLW appearances, including a haul of four. Pauga chimed in with 11 disposals for the U19 AFLW National Championship game against VIC Country, bringing those midfield strengths to the game.

 

ROUND 12 QAFLW vs YERONGA SOUTH BRISBANE

Q1:

Starting the game in the forward line, she got involved early being the intended target off the first clearance, leading to the top of the 50. The ball went over her head, but she beat her opponent to it on the way back, taking the shot that drifted just to the right for a behind. About a minute later she would take a mark in the centre of the ground, kicking it well to her teammate just outside of 50, unfortunately unable to mark. The next few disposals came under pressure, with her next kick pretty impressive given she managed to escape three opponents to put it inside 50. In the latter stages of the quarter she managed to intercept a kick from fellow U19 Queensland representative Christine Okesene, following up with a great handball to an oncoming runner that resulted in Bond’s third behind.

Ending the quarter with; 5 kicks, 4 handballs, 2 marks, 1 clearance and 1 behind, Pauga really should have had more of the ball given the leads she made and how hard she worked forward of the ball to be an option, often creating separation on the lead and streaming through the middle, just not being used as Bond looked to play closer to the boundary moving forward.

Streaming forward in the second quarter.

Q2:

Once again in the forward line, Pauga was put on a bit of a tighter leash from Yeronga, who seemingly looked to negate and limit her movement off the ball, not giving her an inch around the play, and sticking right on her as she attempted to make leads like she did the previous quarter. All her earliest work was in the forward 50, pressuring opponents and forcing turnovers that she rarely saw the reward for effort from the pressure. Her most impressive play of the quarter came from her controlling the corridor, able to get onto a ball handballed over the top in transition and deliver well inside 50, unfortunately seeing the mark dropped and punched over the boundary line.

Overall it was a quiter second term on the stats sheet for Pauga, finishing with; 2 kicks, 2 handballs and 2 tackles, although the same work off the ball and effort to control the corridor of the ground was present, with her getting more into it later in the piece when she had found ways to deal with the tighter opponent.

Firing away a handball under pressure close to goal in the third quarter.

Q3:

Another quarter of ‘almosts’ for Pauga as she one again drew attention from the opposition, at times having two players dedicated to stopping her off the ball when Bond were in transition, so despite continuing to look to control the corridor and be a link up player, working hard with her leading, she was rarely the best option given the opposition attention. She looked to work harder defensively, pushing up the ground and impacting contests with her pressure work, even managing a spoil and forcing opponents to work hard to mark as she looked to push them out a bit. Still had her highlight moments in the forward 50, with the speed and accuracy of her handballs to oncoming runners giving Bond plenty of opportunity to score.

Getting a return of 3 handballs did not quite do her efforts justice, but it was another quarter where she worked hard and would have earned plenty of praise from teammates and coaches.

Assessing her options going forward in the final term.

Q4:

Started well in the fourth, being rewarded early for a lead very similar to the ones she had been doing all game, where she followed up with a centring kick that gave Bond the entire 50 to kick into. The kick itself was a darting sort that hit her teammate, showing her class by foot. The next bit of play saw her used by a teammate, running toward goal and then delivering the ball high for a pack inside 50 where she realistically could’ve gone for goal. The one time she was allowed space alone she picked the ball up with ease and passed it off to an outside runner to deliver inside 50, showing why she so often had an opponent hanging on to her.

Pauga gathered 2 kicks, 1 handball, 2 marks and 1 tackle in the final quarter, wrapping up an all-round good performance especially considering the circumstances.

In full flight set to launch another attack forward.

SUMMARY:

19 Disposals, 9 Kicks, 10 Handballs, 4 Marks, 3 Tackles, 1 Clearance, 2 Inside 50’s, 2 Intercept possessions, 1 Behind.

Pauga had a performance that any forward would be happy with, when you add the amount of attention she drew from the opposition after the first quarter it was a superb performance, as she worked hard to move up and down the ground to provide a meaningful option, especially in the centre corridor. Her ability to keep her hands free and fire out quick and piercing handballs to teammates that were in space was a big part of her game, and especially inside 50 it led to scoring opportunities that unfortunately were not rewarded. Her kicking was also a class above, always placed to the advantage of her teammates and more often than not looking to put it into central spots to open up the play ahead. Although likely due to the role she was playing, she wasn’t going in and winning contested ball as often as she has done in the past, especially the U19 Championships, much more inclined to wait out the side or back of the contest and try to receive the ball from a teammate.

2021 NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

NEXT up in our NAB League Girls team review series are the Oakleigh Chargers, the benchmark team all season and deserving premiers in the end. Across a campaign which only yielded one defeat, the region’s dynamic squad mixed beautifully with a strong draft eligible core leading the way. We recap the Chargers’ season, and take a look at some of the top performers across the various age groups.

Wins: 7
Losses: 1
Position: 1st (Premier)

SEASON SUMMARY:

Starting the season with a resounding 54-point victory over reigning premiers, Northern Knights, the Chargers stamped themselves as one of the contenders early on in the year, and rarely looked like they weren’t the main premiership threat. They were challenged at times, with a three-game stretch against Tasmania, Dandenong and Sandringham seeing them win collectively by 13 points. Their only loss of the season game against Geelong Falcons by 11 points, in the round before the National Championships. They’d return after the champs with a 100-point win over Gippsland Power, and convincingly won all three of their finals, with the last a 37-point triumph over Geelong to take out their inaugural NAB League Girls premiership.

DRAFT-ELIGIBLE TOP PERFORMERS

Charlie Rowbottom | Midfielder/Key Forward
22/01/2003 | 178cm

The AFLW Academy member and potential Victorian number one pick had a season to be proud of. She started the year off predominantly in the midfield, where her burst, positioning and strength around stoppages made her a key clearance winner and large part of their play going forward. As the season moved on she spent more time as a marking target up forward, where her leap and aerial presence were valuable in one-on-one contests, able to out muscle opponents that tried to make it a grapple, but also blitz them on the lead if they tried to play off her. Often getting extra attention as the season went on, she found ways to stay involved and will be better off for it in future. Representing Vic Metro as captain, she clearly has leadership attributes and may continue that at the next level.

Stella Reid | Utility
10/09/2003 | 173cm

A versatile left-footer, Reid progressively moved up the ground as the season wore on; starting in the backline and spending a couple of rounds down there before progressing to the midfield for a few rounds, then spending the rest of the season in the forwardline, where she’d go on to be the side’s leading goal kicker. With that versatility comes a wide range of traits that will allow her to slot into whichever area the team she ends up at needs, with her speed, ball use by foot and ability to hold space three of her most impressive strengths. Representing Vic Metro, she was predominantly used on the wing, which perhaps offers some insight into where recruiters picture her playing long-term.

Amanda Ling | Midfielder
09/07/2002 | 161cm

Playing an often under-appreciated role, Ling’s ball winning as an in and under type was vital in allowing her other midfield teammates to prosper during the season. As Rowbottom got more and more attention during the season, Ling consistently stepped up to be the main clearance winner, utilising her side step and quick hands to shift past opponents and get the ball out to teammates. She proved herself as an able forward as well in the last match of the home-and-away season, kicking 3.1 stationed almost permanently in the forward 50. She would step up in the most important game of the year, the Grand Final, to win best on ground honours in the victory. A Vic Metro representative and recent Port Melbourne VFLW debutant, Ling has shown she can maintain that form at the higher levels.

Brooke Vickers | Wing/Defender
06/03/2003 | 171cm

One of the surprise packets for the Chargers this season, Vickers, like Reid, started the season in defence and moved into a more permanent wing role later in the season. That was where she settled in well and became a consistent contributor, receiving handballs from the inside and delivering it to leading teammates by foot. When she was representing Vic Metro, she split her time between the two roles she had at Oakleigh, looking most impressive at half-back where her rebound game was typically strong.

Eliza James | Forward/Midfielder
01/10/2003 | 168cm

Possessing good burst speed and agility, James showed her worth as a medium forward, but has some work to do with her finishing on goal. To her credit, James often looked to give the ball off to teammates inside 50 when she had it rather than blaze away, showing off a selfless approach that led to much of the Chargers’ attacking proficiency. Another Vic Metro representative, she was a key link up player in their fixtures.

FUTURE ONES TO WATCH:

Jasmine Fleming | Midfielder
05/11/2004 | 165cm

With strong family sporting ties, (mother Wendy an Australian Under 21 netballer and father Damien an Australian cricketer) it’s no surprise that after just three games Fleming is one of the best prospects heading into 2022. Faced with the choice of cricket and football in the future, AFLW clubs will be hoping Fleming is leaning towards footy. With her speed and agility being big weapons around the contest, and her follow up ball work also at a high level, she already has a high skill base to start with and develop.

Charlotte Van der Vlies | Wing
19/01/2004 | 162cm

One of the few bottom-agers that started the year where she ended, Van der Vlies was a consistent contributor on the outside for the Chargers, where her deceptive speed and balanced ball use made her a damaging player going forward. She showed she was able to operate in congestion as well, using that speed to get separation on her opponents before disposing of the ball. Representing Vic Metro Under 17s on two occasions, Van der Vlies was a major player, showing her clearance capabilities as well.

Charlotte Taylor | Midfielder/Tall Defender
18/01/2004 | 177cm

Coming into the side in Round 7, Taylor made an immediate impact in the midfield for the Chargers, pairing well with fellow tall midfielder Rowbottom early on. As more players come in for the Chargers, Taylor’s height, and athleticism saw her moved into defence for the finals series, holding her own and offering plenty on the rebound and in the air. When representing Vic Metro Under 17s Taylor rotated between the rover, wing and half forward roles, showing her versatility and piquing the curiosity of watchers with where she’ll end up playing.

Lily Hart | Midfielder
29/09/2004 | 161cm

Spending majority of the season rubbing shoulders with the midfield brigade, Hart added a touch of class and balance through the midfield. Often the player that received the handball from one of the in-and-under teammates she has, Hart’s balanced and polished ball use was always a damaging blow to the opposition from the midfield. Yet another charger that represented Vic Metro Under 17s, she’s one that has enough midfield experience heading into next year to be one of the players to lookout for, who might just explode in 2022.

OTHERS:

Taylah Morton is a 19-year-old prospect that has played for Port Melbourne at VFLW level, as a midfielder-forward she brings a tough edge to whichever line she’s on. Alexandra McCulloch was a consistently reliable defender all season, offering plenty of damaging rebound, while Erin Woodford turned into a more than handy lockdown defender in the latter stages of the season. Looking ahead to next year, the Chargers have more exciting prospects. Key forward, and occasional rotating ruck Ameile Smith is a proven goalkicker who may be the main target up forward next season, Mia Clift is a rebounding defender with the scope to move onto a wing or through the midfield. Melbourne father-daughter prospect, Jemma Rigoni, has played in all thirds of the ground and possesses remarkable speed, whilst Rianna Thiele will be one to watch as the key defender returns from injury next year.