Author: Michael Alvaro

AFLW U18 Championships Team Profile: Vic Metro

THE final Victoria Metropolitan squad for the Under 18 National Championships has been named, with a number of strong top-age prospects set to lead the charge from some exciting middle-age guns. After looking in-depth at the Vic Country squad last week, we take a look at how each player has stacked up statistically in this year’s NAB League season, as well as what they may bring to the Metro side come game time.

 

#1 Olivia Meagher*
Eastern Ranges | Balanced Midfielder | 158cm

The zippy midfielder is as tough as they come and mixes her line-breaking speed with clearance-winning ability. Put in an exceptional Preliminary Final performance against the Knights and while she does not always accumulate the biggest numbers, Meagher can find the goals and may feature forward of centre if given an opportunity. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Eastern Ranges7728105140022002462711.04.015.02.00.03.10.356
Total-7728105140022002462711.04.015.02.00.03.10.356

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20197728105140022002462711.04.015.02.00.03.10.356
Total7728105140022002462711.04.015.02.00.03.10.356

 

#2 Felicity Theodore
Calder Cannons | Small Defender/Forward | 159cm

The reliable Cannon is one who can play a role at either end inside the arcs, rebounding well from defence and looking dangerous around goal up forward. Will be an asset at ground level and sweeps up well under the talls.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Calder Cannons612182120020007123106.12.18.21.20.02.00.331
Total-612182120020007123106.12.18.21.20.02.00.331

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019612182120020007123106.12.18.21.20.02.00.331
Total612182120020007123106.12.18.21.20.02.00.331

 

#3 Gemma Lagioia
Oakleigh Chargers | Outside Midfielder | 160cm

A classy ball user, Lagioia is often a joy to watch. Has all the makings of a neat outside player, employed on just about every line – with time at half-forward, half-back, and through the middle. Accumulated over 15 disposals in six of her nine games.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Oakleigh Chargers100531492500130027541010.05.314.92.50.01.30.456
Total-100531492500130027541010.05.314.92.50.01.30.456

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019100531492500130027541010.05.314.92.50.01.30.456
Total100531492500130027541010.05.314.92.50.01.30.456

 

#4 Nicola Xenos
Oakleigh Chargers | General Defender | 161cm

Another who has spent time at either end, Xenos mixes a pressure game with ball-winning well – averaging 15.4 disposals and 5.4 tackles, while breaking each arc around two times per her eight NAB League games.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Oakleigh Chargers6261114130040001416387.87.614.31.60.05.00.451
Total-6261114130040001416387.87.614.31.60.05.00.451

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20196261114130040001416387.87.614.31.60.05.00.451
Total6261114130040001416387.87.614.31.60.05.00.451

 

#5 Elisabeth Georgostathis
Western Jets | Defender/Midfielder | 162cm

The Western Jets skipper most often plays as a classic rebounding half-back, finding a high amount of ball and bringing it out of the back half with line-breaking speed. She may find a home there at the Championships, but can also move into the midfield and provide pressure around the ball while also winning it herself. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Western Jets138381762300380017440915.34.219.62.60.04.20.071
Total-138381762300380017440915.34.219.62.60.04.20.071

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019138381762300380017440915.34.219.62.60.04.20.071
Total138381762300380017440915.34.219.62.60.04.20.071

 

#6 Madeline Edwards
Eastern Ranges | General Defender | 164cm

The small defender has made her mark as a pressure player, averaging almost five tackles across her nine NAB League games. Not always a high disposal winner, but disposes by foot more often than not and can rebound well.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Eastern Ranges5421758004000816096.02.38.30.90.04.40.029
Total-5421758004000816096.02.38.30.90.04.40.029

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20195421758004000816096.02.38.30.90.04.40.029
Total5421758004000816096.02.38.30.90.04.40.029

 

#7 Amelia Van Oosterwijck
Oakleigh Chargers | General Forward | 164cm

A tackle-happy small forward who found the goals in three of her nine NAB League games for Oakleigh, including a Round 1 haul of two. Delivered the ball inside 50 at least twice in her average of just over 11 disposals, and rarely falls below double-figures.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Oakleigh Chargers61399917004600190496.84.311.01.90.05.10.442
Total-61399917004600190496.84.311.01.90.05.10.442

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201961399917004600190496.84.311.01.90.05.10.442
Total61399917004600190496.84.311.01.90.05.10.442

 

#8 Mimi Hill
Oakleigh Chargers | Midfielder/Defender | 165cm

A zippy outside player who finds plenty of the ball, making for busy work in between the arcs. Does just about everything in between delivering the ball to and from each 50, and had less than 15 disposals just twice this NAB League season. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Oakleigh Chargers95831682800310023170109.58.316.82.80.03.10.060
Total-95831682800310023170109.58.316.82.80.03.10.060

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201995831682800310023170109.58.316.82.80.03.10.060
Total95831682800310023170109.58.316.82.80.03.10.060

 

#9 Bella Eddey*
Sandringham Dragons | General Forward | 165cm

Only featured in five NAB League games this season, but the middle-ager showed enough to warrant selection. Can go inside 50 well and averages just below a dozen disposals per game, with one of her best being a successful return effort against GWV (13 disposals, one goal).

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Sandringham Dragons223355700190061154.46.611.01.40.03.80.234
Total-223355700190061154.46.611.01.40.03.80.234

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019223355700190061154.46.611.01.40.03.80.234
Total223355700190061154.46.611.01.40.03.80.234

 

#10 Alana Barba
Calder Cannons | Inside Midfielder | 166cm

A tough inside midfielder who compliments her fellow Calder midfield stars well with some grunt. Has played every game for the Cannons this year, and while she can fall well below 10 disposals in some games, is more than capable of collecting over 20 in others. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Calder Cannons7156127700730021143107.15.612.70.70.07.30.342
Total-7156127700730021143107.15.612.70.70.07.30.342

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20197156127700730021143107.15.612.70.70.07.30.342
Total7156127700730021143107.15.612.70.70.07.30.342

 

#11 Tarni Brown*
Eastern Ranges | Balanced Midfielder | 166cm

The 2020 Collingwood father-daughter prospect has more than shown her worth for Eastern this season, proving to be a consistent and balanced ball winner. Has class, but is not afraid to also do the hard work as well.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Eastern Ranges1146517918005000331011011.46.517.91.80.05.00.161
Total-1146517918005000331011011.46.517.91.80.05.00.161

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20191146517918005000331011011.46.517.91.80.05.00.161
Total1146517918005000331011011.46.517.91.80.05.00.161

 

#12 Alice Burke*
Sandringham Dragons | Inside Midfielder | 166cm

The durable Dragon has been a picture of consistency through the engine room, hardly straying from her average disposal count of 16.5 – with a high of 20 and a low of 13. A typical inside midfielder who also tackles hard, and wins the ball at stoppages all over the ground.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Sandringham Dragons94381321500490019140811.84.816.51.90.06.10.057
Total-94381321500490019140811.84.816.51.90.06.10.057

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201994381321500490019140811.84.816.51.90.06.10.057
Total94381321500490019140811.84.816.51.90.06.10.057

 

#13 Britney Gutknecht
Northern Knights | Midfielder/Forward | 167cm

Gutknecht has adapted well to a move into the midfield, while also reminding us of her obvious forward talents when called upon – including a four-goal haul against Murray. Is a good reader of taps and attracts the ball, but may well revert back to a forward game at the championships.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Northern Knights8963152120042002613999.97.016.91.30.04.71.061
Total-8963152120042002613999.97.016.91.30.04.71.061

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20198963152120042002613999.97.016.91.30.04.71.061
Total8963152120042002613999.97.016.91.30.04.71.061

 

#14 Laura McClelland
Eastern Ranges | General Forward | 169cm

McClelland can play above her height, leading up from half-forward and providing a good link to the forward 50. Only found the goals in three of her nine games, but gets involved and only fell below 10 disposals thrice.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Eastern Ranges50409011003710191595.64.410.01.20.14.10.637
Total-50409011003710191595.64.410.01.20.14.10.637

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201950409011003710191595.64.410.01.20.14.10.637
Total50409011003710191595.64.410.01.20.14.10.637

 

#15 Alyssa Bannan*
Northern Knights | General Forward | 169cm

The Knights forward is dangerous inside 50 with good goal sense and positioning. Only failed to boot a goal in one of her eight games, while claiming multiples on five occassions. Had a day out against Bendigo with 18 disposals and three goals, and is dyamic when running over the back.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Northern Knights5129802000271102101386.43.610.02.51.43.41.650
Total-5129802000271102101386.43.610.02.51.43.41.650

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20195129802000271102101386.43.610.02.51.43.41.650
Total5129802000271102101386.43.610.02.51.43.41.650

 

#16 Emily Harley
Oakleigh Chargers | Utility | 169cm

The strong Oakleigh utility has played on every line this season, but looks most effective forward of centre having booted 13 goals this NAB League season – including four against Gippsland. Is a bullocking type through midfield, and her versatility could prove handy if required.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Oakleigh Chargers88431263400254081113108.84.312.63.40.42.51.356
Total-88431263400254081113108.84.312.63.40.42.51.356

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201988431263400254081113108.84.312.63.40.42.51.356
Total88431263400254081113108.84.312.63.40.42.51.356

 

#17 Georgia Patrikios
Calder Cannons | Outside Midfielder | 170cm

While the classy Calder leader has long been a standout, Patrikios has been in a partiularly rich vein of form at the back end of the year. Stands up in big games and has the ability to hit the scoreboard from midfield. Watch for her efficient short kicking, elite agility and speedy ball carrying throughout the championships.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Calder Cannons143421852600340038145817.95.323.13.30.04.30.689
Total-143421852600340038145817.95.323.13.30.04.30.689

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019143421852600340038145817.95.323.13.30.04.30.689
Total143421852600340038145817.95.323.13.30.04.30.689

 

#18 Emma Horne
Eastern Ranges | Balanced Midfielder | 170cm

Has been a regular in the Eastern midfield, with only a couple of outliers bringing her usually steady disposal average down. Only fell below 10 disposals twice, and had more than 15 on six occassions – with a 28-disposal effort against Gippsland her clear best return.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Eastern Ranges8467151170025001741108.46.715.11.70.02.50.148
Total-8467151170025001741108.46.715.11.70.02.50.148

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20198467151170025001741108.46.715.11.70.02.50.148
Total8467151170025001741108.46.715.11.70.02.50.148

 

#19 Marguerite Purcell
Sandringham Dragons | Wing/Outside Midfielder | 170cm

A dangerous ball winner on the outside, Purcell has made the wing her own for Sandringham. Has had one outlying game either way in an otherwise linear run of disposals, and can deliver the ball inside 50 well.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Sandringham Dragons6587314001400173079.31.110.42.00.02.00.041
Total-6587314001400173079.31.110.42.00.02.00.041

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20196587314001400173079.31.110.42.00.02.00.041
Total6587314001400173079.31.110.42.00.02.00.041

 

#20 Sarah Sansonetti
Northern Knights | Key Defender | 172cm

Sansonetti has thrived latter half of the season against some top opposition, holding her own in aeriel contests and with the ball in dispute. Is not the tallest key position player, so is ultra competitive at ground level and tackles hard. Likely to take the opposition’s best forward.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Northern Knights462975600363069095.13.28.30.70.34.00.026
Total-462975600363069095.13.28.30.70.34.00.026

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019462975600363069095.13.28.30.70.34.00.026
Total462975600363069095.13.28.30.70.34.00.026

 

#21 Ellie McKenzie*
Northern Knights | Midfielder/Forward | 173cm

The dynamic middle-ager would have a decent highlight reel to date, and is so dangerous when positoned one-out at full forward. Stands out with her clean hands and composure, and seems to always be thereabouts. Arguably as damaging as any player to take the field at the championships.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Northern Knights9047137240020403376910.05.215.22.70.42.20.761
Total-9047137240020403376910.05.215.22.70.42.20.761

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20199047137240020403376910.05.215.22.70.42.20.761
Total9047137240020403376910.05.215.22.70.42.20.761

 

#22 Sarah Hartwig*
Sandringham Dragons | Key Defender | 173cm

Another middle-ager who is sure to play a key part for Metro. Hartwig is a terrific overhead marker and has played in key positions at either end, but looks more comfortable down back. Is a composed user from defence to boot and is one to keep an eye on.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Sandringham Dragons734511825003720331098.15.013.12.80.24.10.047
Total-734511825003720331098.15.013.12.80.24.10.047

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019734511825003720331098.15.013.12.80.24.10.047
Total734511825003720331098.15.013.12.80.24.10.047

 

#23 Nell Morris-Dalton
Northern Knights | Key Forward | 174cm

Has been enormous for the Knights at times this year, and found the goals in six of her last seven games. Dragged her side over the line with four Preliminary Final goals last week and looks to be coming into form at the right time. Usually efficient inside 50 on her left boot, and brings others into the game.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Northern Knights804912918003128024212108.04.912.91.82.83.11.254
Total-804912918003128024212108.04.912.91.82.83.11.254

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019804912918003128024212108.04.912.91.82.83.11.254
Total804912918003128024212108.04.912.91.82.83.11.254

 

#24 Isabella Grant
Western Jets | Tall Utility | 174cm

The Bulldogs father-daughter prospect only featured in six games this season, but proved her worth in the forward half and through midfield. Marks well and can find the ball at will, with her best game a 25-disposal, five-mark effort against GWV. Can penetrate both arcs. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Western Jets584510316001900138169.77.517.22.70.03.20.259
Total-584510316001900138169.77.517.22.70.03.20.259

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019584510316001900138169.77.517.22.70.03.20.259
Total584510316001900138169.77.517.22.70.03.20.259

 

#25 Tahlia Merrett
Eastern Ranges | Key Utility | 174cm

Merrett has proven to be a useful outlet at both ends, while also contesting in the ruck when called upon. Is not a huge disposal-getter but plays whichever role is asked of her and has plenty of upside on the back of her versatility. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Eastern Ranges28174590027140442102.81.74.50.91.42.70.218
Total-28174590027140442102.81.74.50.91.42.70.218

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201928174590027140442102.81.74.50.91.42.70.218
Total28174590027140442102.81.74.50.91.42.70.218

 

#26 Gabrielle Newton
Northern Knights | Tall Utility | 175cm

Right up there with the best of the best, Newton will be a key player for Metro. Has played almost exclusively in the midfield this year but has the hops to ruck and also moves forward well, while playing a key role behind the ball with her overhead marking. Is composed in possession and finds it with ease, with her leadership qualities also evident.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Northern Knights8395178250042260197299.210.619.82.82.94.70.266
Total-8395178250042260197299.210.619.82.82.94.70.266

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20198395178250042260197299.210.619.82.82.94.70.266
Total8395178250042260197299.210.619.82.82.94.70.266

 

#27 Molly Denahy Moloney
Sandringham Dragons | Ruck | 175cm

Has not been a huge year for the Sandringham product over her five NAB League games, but she is a ruck who can win the hitouts and follow up with hard tackles at ground level. Not a high disposal winner, but makes her presence felt and can also spend time forward. 

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Sandringham Dragons1115260001736030052.23.05.20.07.23.40.021
Total-1115260001736030052.23.05.20.07.23.40.021

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20191115260001736030052.23.05.20.07.23.40.021
Total1115260001736030052.23.05.20.07.23.40.021

 

#28 Isabelle Pritchard*
Western Jets | Key Defender | 176cm

Collects her fair share of ball as a taller prospect, not falling below 10 touches across her seven games. Does not drop many marks and provides safe rebound out of the back half, so could be part of a solid Metro back six as a middle-ager.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Western Jets55521071400271901014077.97.415.32.02.73.90.052
Total-55521071400271901014077.97.415.32.02.73.90.052

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201955521071400271901014077.97.415.32.02.73.90.052
Total55521071400271901014077.97.415.32.02.73.90.052

 

#29 Cleo Saxon-Jones
Western Jets | Key Forward | 181cm

A physical centre half-forward, Saxon-Jones finds her way up the ground well to impact the contest and provide a link into the forward half. Has a knack for taking strong contested marks and may even pinch-hit in the ruck.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Western Jets4513581200590143167.52.29.72.01.50.80.241
Total-4513581200590143167.52.29.72.01.50.80.241

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
20194513581200590143167.52.29.72.01.50.80.241
Total4513581200590143167.52.29.72.01.50.80.241

 

#30 Amelia Peck
Oakleigh Chargers | Ruck/Key Utility | 183cm

The only over-ager prospect on the Metro list, Peck has earned her spot as a standout ruck. Averages almost 12 hitouts per game and just under 10 disposals, while also being able to move forward when required having at least scored in three games.

NAB League Girls

SeasonTeamKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
2019Oakleigh Chargers42477818001611801522104.24.77.81.811.81.60.244
Total-42477818001611801522104.24.77.81.811.81.60.244

Career Total

SeasonKHBDMCPUPTHOCLRI50R50GLGMKHDMHOTGDC Points
201942477818001611801522104.24.77.81.811.81.60.244
Total42477818001611801522104.24.77.81.811.81.60.244

 

* – denotes middle-ager.

NAB League Boys Round 8 wash-up: Mixed bag sees three games decided by under a goal

ROUND 8 of the NAB League Boys season threw up three close results, as well as three not so close ones. Calder broke the early trend of tight finishes with a huge victory to keep Murray languishing near the bottom, while Tasmania brought it to league-leaders Dandenong in another surprise scoreline. All that, and more in this week’s wash-up.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.6 | 3.8 | 6.10 (46)

GOALS:
Northern:
S. Brazier, R. Gardner, S. Philp, J. Zapantis , J. Trudgeon
Oakleigh: T. Graham 2, D. Williams 2, T. Lovell, R. Sklavenitis

BEST:
Northern:
S. Philp, R. Sturgess, R. Gardner, L. Potter, K. Brandt, J. Davies
Oakleigh: L. Jenkins, D. Williams, J. Woodfull, J. May, S. Seach, M. Steiner

By: Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers scraped home in a dour low-scoring affair, overcoming a three-quarter time deficit to beat the Northern Knights by six points. The match served as a curtain-raiser to the NAB League Girls finals at Shepley Oval, but both sides came out slowly on the big stage to play out a deadlocked 1.2 apiece first term. It proved much of the same in the following quarter, but Oakleigh managed to hold on to a two-point lead at half time after kicking the first goal of the term through Spiros Sklavenitis. The Knights hit back following the main break after Oakleigh’s Thomas ‘Love Machine’ Lovell again ensured the Chargers had the first goal of the quarter, with majors to Ryan Gardner and Joel Trudgeon putting them in a winning position heading into the last turn. It wasn’t to be though, with Dylan Williams‘ inspired move forward proving the difference as the Oakleigh co-captain booted two last quarter goals and assisted another to help his side sneak ahead and hold on. Bottom-aged Chargers Lochlan Jenkins (23 disposals, eight clearances) and Fraser Elliot (28 disposals, six clearances) were terrific in midfield, with the wing pairing of Josh May (24 disposals, six inside 50s) and Jeromy Lucas (23 disposals) also finding plenty of the ball. Thomas Graham joined Williams as the only other Oakleigh multiple goal-kicker, with no Knight achieving the same feat. Sam Philp (28 disposals, nine clearances) and Gardner (15 disposals, seven inside 50s) were named amongst Northern’s best and also found the goals, with Ryan Sturgess (19 disposals, 10 rebound 50s) resolute in defence and Lachie Potter (17 disposals) providing plenty of run. A second-consecutive narrow win sees Oakleigh sneak into the top eight, with Northern just outside on three wins as the competition heads into a development weekend.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 4.0 | 6.0 | 10.1 | 12.2 (74)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 4.10 | 6.12 | 10.18 (78)

GOALS:
Bendigo:
J. Dick-O’Flaherty 3, J. Treacy 3, R. Clarke 2, J. Evans, K. Attwell, J. Schischka, Z. Murley
Sandringham: J. Florent 2, E. Soylemez 2, R. Bowman 2, R. Byrnes, T. Spencer, J. Bell, M. Bergman

BEST:
Bendigo:
W. Wallace, J. Treacy, J. Evans, J. Ginnivan, W. Shaw, R. Wilson
Sandringham: C. Watts, M. Bergman, A. Hanrahan, R. Byrnes, J. Voss, J. Bell

By: Joe Lee

A wasteful Sandringham escaped with a four-point victory at Victoria Park, Echuca, with Bendigo pushing the Dragons right until the final siren. Whilst Bendigo made the most of their entries, Sandringham was the antithesis, recording 18 behinds. Miles Bergman was outstanding but was the main culprit, kicking five behinds and only one goal. In what was a consistently tight contest, Bendigo managed to hold a 19-point lead early in the fourth, but Sandringham fought back to run out eventual victors. It was the Pioneers’ efficiency inside 50 that kept them in the game, registering 14 shots from 24 inside 50s compared to the 54 inside 50s for Sandy. Ryan Byrnes and Bergman continued their sensational form for the Dragons whilst Riley Wilson worked hard for the Pioneers. The win cements Sandringham as one of the teams to beat whilst Bendigo are left languishing down the lower echelon of the ladder.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 3.3 | 8.4 | 10.5 | 10.7 (67)
CALDER CANNONS 6.2 | 11.4 | 15.7 | 18.9 (117)

GOALS:
Murray:
C. Wilson 3, B. Kelly 2, H. Kaak 2, C. Wild, L. Fiore, Z. Barzen
Calder: F. Evans 3, J. O’Sullivan 3, S. Ramsay 2, B. Bozinovski 2, N. Gentile 2, J. Kemp 2, A. Righele, S. Graham, D. Mott, T. Browning

BEST:
Murray:
B. Kelly, C. Wilson, C. Wild, L. Fiore, S. Durham, D. Bedendo
Calder: N. Gentile, B. Newman, J. O’Sullivan, A. Righele, D. Mott, T. Browning

By: Michael Alvaro

The Calder Cannons continued their recent upward trend, with a 50-point victory over Murray Bushrangers on Saturday making it three wins from their last four outings. After having their previous win streak broken by the highly-fancied Gippsland Power last week, the Cannons came out firing with 11 goals in a high-scoring opening half. While Murray managed to stay with them throughout the first two stanzas, Calder thwarted the home side’s scoring after the main break while piling on a further eight majors to come out comprehensive winners. Draft Central player of the week nominee Ned Gentile was named best afield for his 24 disposals, eight clearances and two goals, while Daniel Mott was the leading possession-getter on the ground with 29 and Brodie Newman (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s) again impressed. Calder had an impressive 10 individual goal kickers with Francis Evans and Jeremy O’Sullivan booting three, while Sam Ramsay was one of four others to find multiple goals. Murray also three players kick multiple goals as Cameron Wilson booted three, and Ben Kelly and Hudson Kaak each had two with Kelly named their best as he pushes for mid-season draft selection. Cam Wild (27 disposals, six clearances, one goal) clearly led the Bushrangers’ possession count, with Wilson and Jimmy Boyer the next best on 16. The Bushies’ biggest loss of the season sees them stuck much closer to the bottom than expected with two wins, while Calder has shot up to ninth – equal on points with four top-eight sides.

GEELONG FALCONS 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.10 (22)
WESTERN JETS 1.4 | 5.6 | 7.6 | 7.8 (50)

GOALS:
Geelong:
C. Brauer, L. Smith
Western: A. Clarke 2, A. Manton 2, J. Honey, B. Ryan, S. Clifford

BEST:
Geelong:
K. Rayner, S. Bourke, L. Smith, H. Stubbings, J. Clark, W. Kilpatrick
Western: L. Rocci, W. Kennedy, D. Andrews , K. Crimmins, D. Cassar, J. Horo

By: Taylah Melki

The Western Jets put on a strong defensive effort to limit the Falcons to a mere two goals for the game while applying plenty of attacking pressure themselves. The Falcons had plenty of opportunities however, inaccuracy killed them unable to capitalise on scoring chances registering 10 points. It was a tight tussle to start with as the both sides only managed a goal in the first quarter but the Jets pushed away as the game went on, piling on four goals to none in the second term to ultimately set up the game for them. In the last term, the Falcons had all the play winning the ball out of the middle and peppering the goals but they could not convert slotting 1.5 to the Jets 0.2. Western were led by Darcy Cassar who was prolific amassing a game high 41 disposals while Daly Andrews was also important for the Jets winning the ball at the coalface and delivering it to teammates on the lead. Aaron Clarke and Archi Manton made their presence felt on the scoreboard nailing two goals apiece while Josh Honey was equally important with his 11 touches and one goal. For the Falcons William Kilpatrick and Harry Stubbings were impressive winning their fair share of the ball and using it well. Stubbings was the leading disposals winner for Geelong with 27 to go with his seven clearances showcasing his hard work across the ground. Charlie Sprague was also impressive applying strong pressure to win the ball and offering good leads to be a constant option for the Falcons racking up four inside 50s. Another key player for the Falcons was Keidan Rayner who contested hard to win the ball and created plenty of attacking forays with five inside 50s and six clearances.

TASMANIA DEVILS 1.4 | 4.5 | 4.7 | 8.8 (56)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.1 | 5.1 | 6.3 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:
Tasmania:
H. Allan 2, M. O’Neill 2, M. McGuinness, C. Stephenson, B. Gordon, W. Peppin
Dandenong: C. Gay 3, M. Riordan, W. Bravo, D. Popa, J. Nanscawen, D. Gould, L. Goonan

BEST:
Tasmania:
O. Davis, B. Gordon, E. Jackson, M. McGuinness, J. Callow, O. Shaw
Dandenong: B. Schmidt, N. Heath, H. Berenger, J. Nanscawen, C. Gay, D. Popa

By: Michael Alvaro

The Tasmania Devils were this time on the wrong end of a third-consecutive game decided by less than a goal, going down to ladder-leaders Dandenong by four points on home turf. In what was a thrilling final term where Tasmania snatched the lead for just the second time on the back of four unanswered goals, Dandenong’s Declan Gould came up clutch to break Tasmanian hearts with a goal in the final five minutes. Returning Devils star Mitch O’Neill almost proved a match-winner with his two majors both coming in the final quarter after a steady opening three, but bottom-ager Oliver Davis was the clear standout, collecting a game-high 33 disposals and nine inside 50s. Ethan Jackson (24 disposals, eight tackles), Bailey Gordon (23 disposals, eight clearances), and Matt McGuiness (21 disposals, one goal) were the other Devils to impress with solid amounts of ball throughout. The Stingrays also had a number of contributors, with over-agers Bailey Schmidt (14 disposals, 42 hitouts) and Mitch Riordan (23 disposals, five clearances) leading the way. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was the only Dandenong player to boot multiple goals, finishing with three from his 15 disposals, while Jai Nanscawen made a steady return with 18 disposals and a goal. The win serves as Dandenong’s fourth-straight, helping them to consolidate top spot in an undefeated premiership defence to date. Meanwhile, the Devils will be happy with the level of competitiveness they have shown, sitting a win outside the top eight with three already on the board.

GIPPSLAND POWER 5.3 | 9.5 | 12.6 | 15.8 (98)
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 (45)

GOALS:
Gippsland: J. Smith 3, M. McGarrity 2, S. Flanders 2, F. Phillips 2, J. McGrath, H. Neocleous, M. McGannon, L. Connolly, R. Baldi, T. Baldi
GWV: F. Macdonald 3, L. Herbert, J. Rantall, P. Rea

BEST:
Gippsland: F. Phillips, R. Baldi, J. Smith, S. Flanders, J. van der Pligt, B. Smith
GWV: J. Rantall, J. Cleaver, H. Sharp, J. Tillig, J. Dwyer, F. Macdonald

By: Peter Williams

Gippsland powered to a big win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Windy Hill in the standalone game on Sunday afternoon. In a game that the Power controlled from the first bounce, Gippsland piled on five goals to one in the first quarter, and by half-time had nine majors on the board to the Rebels’ two. GWV tightened up in the second half and hit the scoreboard themselves, booting four goals to the Power’s six in a much more even half, but the game was done and dusted by that stage. Fraser Phillips was impressive in the forward half with 24 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six inside 50s and two goals from five scoring shots, while Riley Baldi was the top ball winner with 29 touches, five marks, eight tackles, seven clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Also impressive for the Power up front was Josh Smith who rotated through the ruck and had 16 hiouts, 11 clearances, 22 disposals, four marks and three goals in one of his best games for the season. On the inside Sam Flanders (25 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and two goals) was good, while Jake Van Der Plight and Brock Smith were also impressive. For the Rebels, Jay Rantall racked up 30 disposals, six clearances, three inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal to be the standout Rebel once again, while James Cleaver (16 disposals, three marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Harry Sharp (16 disposals, five marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) were also named among the best, while Fergus Macdonald hit the scoreboard with three majors.

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals wash-up: Northern and Calder to meet in decider

THE NAB League season finale is set, with the unbeaten Northern Knights qualifying first, and the Calder Cannons securing their spot with a massive upset win over reigning premiers, Geelong at Shepley Oval on Saturday.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.1 | 4.3 | 7.7 | 7.7 (49)
EASTERN RANGES 2.0 | 4.0 | 5.1 | 7.1 (43)

GOALS:
Northern:
N. Morris-Dalton 4, E. McKenzie, M. Appleby, A. Bannan.
Eastern: M. Di Cosmo 2, J. Dunning, T. Flintoff, R. Hall, O. Meagher, T. Merrett.

BEST:
Northern:
N. Morris-Dalton, G. Newton, E. McKenzie, S. Sansonetti, M. Chaplin, P. Chisholm
Eastern: O. Meagher, M. Kendall, J. Richardson, S. Gibbs, M. Di Cosmo, E. Horne

Northern Knights became the first team to qualify for the 2019 NAB League Grand Final, but were made to work for it by the Eastern Ranges in a tense Preliminary Final at Shepley Oval. The sides went goal for goal in the opening term after Northern middle-ager Ellie McKenzie snapped truly to first trouble the scorers. The Knights looked like breaking away in the second stanza as Maykaylah Appleby backed up Nell Morris-Dalton‘s second goal with another major, but the Ranges would hit back with two goals of their own through midfield stars Tess Flintoff and Olivia Meagher to trail by just three points at half time. When Madeline Di Cosmo kicked the Ranges’ third-straight goal to snatch the lead at the start of the third term, an upset loomed large – right up until Morris-Dalton had her say. Two quick goals from the Knights’ forward saw Northern reclaim the lead, and an Alyssa Bannan goal ensured they would go into the final break with a 15-point buffer. Despite a late Eastern charge with two goals to nil over the quarter, and the margin cut to six points with over two minutes left, the Knights held on to remain undefeated and scrape into a second-straight Grand Final. McKenzie was outstanding in the closing stages for the winners, thrown into the midfield and contributing some vital touches when the heat was on. Her midfield partner and skipper, Gabby Newton also played a big hand, while the goals of Morris-Dalton ultimately proved the difference. Sarah Sansonetti had her hands full down back but stood tall, with Maeve Chaplin another defender to be named amongst the best. Meagher led the charge through midfield for the combative Eastern side, with Flintoff proving her partner in crime. The likes of Serena Gibbs and Tahlia Merrett caused headaches with their height and versatility, while Di Cosmo provided the scoring pressure with her two majors. Eastern showed plenty of promise and really took it to Northern at times when other sides could have given in, but the Knights proved too strong and rightly cemented their spot in the competition decider.

GEELONG FALCONS 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.5 (11)
CALDER CANNONS 3.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:
Geelong:
M. Skinner.
Calder: Z. Hardiman 2, A. Magri 2, E. Yassir, G. Prespakis, A. Barba.

BEST:
Geelong:
L. McEvoy, A. Chapman, R. Tierney, P. Schaap, G. Featherston , L. Lesosky-Hay
Calder: E. Yassir, G. Sampson, G. Prespakis, G. Patrikios, K. Lennox, A. Barba

The Calder Cannons saved arguably their best performance for just the right occasion, scoring one of the upsets of the season as they toppled Geelong Falcons by 35 points to book a spot in the Grand Final. The underdogs came out hard, pouring the pressure on Geelong and hitting the scoreboard early to open up a three-goal quarter time lead. In a similar fashion to how their game against Northern went, the Falcons came out hard in the second term and looked to mount a comeback as Mia Skinner bagged their first goal. But when Georgie Prespakis nailed a set shot in reply, it looked more and more unlikely with the Cannons taking a 19-point lead into the main break. A Zoe Hardiman goal in the opening two minutes of the third stanza all but put the result beyond doubt, as the Cannons kept their foot on the gas with unrelenting pressure to keep the game locked up, and Geelong goalless for another quarter. Two more goals in the final term, including Hardiman’s second, cemented the win as the Falcons again could only manage a behind, with the Calder crowd in raptures on the back of their side’s big-time display. Bottom-agers Emelia Yassir and Kasey Lennox played out of their skin at either end, while fellow ’03 birth Prespakis was again phenomenal with every touch of the ball. Georgia Patrikios led the Cannons from the front with her mix of flair and toughness, with fellow midfielder Alana Barba starting well to find the goals and Alisa Magri joining Hardiman with two goals. Skinner finished as Geelong’s sole goal kicker, while skipper Lucy McEvoy a beacon of light in the tough loss through midfield and in the ruck. Abbey Chapman provided a calm head in the beaten Falcons back six, with fellow defender Liz Dowling standing up as an impressive bottom-ager alongside Poppy Schapp. Renee Tierney spent time on each line to good effect, with Luka Lesosky-Hay putting in her usual combative shift. The loss saw Geelong end its season with just one win from their last three tries after previously going unbeaten in their premiership defence, and it would be a hard one to take given they had beaten Calder just three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Cannons look to be peaking at the right time and move on to the decider, sure to give Northern a hell of a test if this game is anything to go by.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Preliminary Finals

FINALS fever finally hit the NAB League Girls competition and in an exciting day of action, there were certainly plenty of standout performances on the big stage. Here are Michael Alvaro‘s opinion-based scouting notes on a mix of the most outstanding players on the day, and others selected in the Victorian sides for this year’s National Championships.

Northern Knights vs. Eastern Ranges

Northern:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

The Knights’ forward focal point continued her scintillating end-of-season form, booting over half of her side’s goals to finish with a bag of four. Morris-Dalton’s competitiveness inside 50 both in the air and at ground level played a big part in allowing Northern to make the most of their forward entries, while also locking the ball in. The Fitzroy junior’s marking overhead has greatly improved, and she was simply on form in front of goal with clinical finishes on her left boot. While she prized a couple of goals out of nothing in open play, arguably her best came on the run with a booming kick, and she claimed two of her goals in the all-important third term as the Knights pulled away.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan is a constant threat in the forward half with her pace and smarts over the back, and while she was quiet at times, this game proved no different. Unable to consistently find her trademark forward run from half-forward, Bannan spent a lot of time inside 50, where she took a nice overhead mark in the third quarter and slotted the resultant set shot – which proved to be the difference between the sides. Bannan’s best moment came with a couple of running bounces through the corridor which made the crowd stand up.

#11 Maykaylah Appleby

One to watch for a couple of years’ time, Appleby was terrific for the Knights on the wing. At still only 15 years of age, Appleby looked more than up to the level – as she has proven in her previous eight games to date. The bottom-ager provided great forward run throughout the day and constantly looked dangerous with ball in hand. Caught the eye with a sensational running goal in the second term and loves a celebration.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti’s role was always going to be important against Eastern’s tall timber, and she well and truly stood up to the task. By no means had a high-disposal output, but the key defender did most of the defensive things well while looking to thwart the influence of Serena Gibbs for large chunks of the game. Really came to life in the fourth quarter with some physical showings around the contest – tackling hard up on the wing and pushing the Knights forward with presence from one-on-one wins.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Talk about weapons, McKenzie is one of those players coaches wish they had two of. Snapped the first goal of the game starting one-out at full-forward, and had another opportunity to hit the scoreboard in the third term, but missed her shot on the run after rounding an opponent. Proved a match-winner in the second half with a move into the midfield – seen intercepting twice on defensive 50, winning crucial clearances from the centre bounces when the Ranges were pressing late, and slowing the game down in the final two minutes with composure beyond her years. Will again prove vital in the grand final, and stands out in high-paced contested games as her clean hands allows for more time on the ball and better decisions.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht was an absolute bull at the stoppages, burrowing in to prize out contested possessions and tackling hard all day. The versatile midfielder-forward spent all of her time in the engine room, providing great drive with clearing kicks and short runs out of traffic. Had an outstanding second half where she seemed to be involved in everything, accumulating key possessions at important times to prove her worth as part of Northern’s star midfield trio.

#23 Gabby Newton

It is unlikely that much more can be made about how good Newton is, and she was outstanding once again here. Playing her usual role in the midfield, Newton toned down her use of handballs and belted the Knights forward on multiple occasions early on with clearing kicks from centre bounces. Accumulating at her normally high rate across the day, Newton led from the front in a consistent display. The Northern skipper’s smarts in more of an extracting role proved crucial, with Newton’s ability to keep her hands free allowing her to escape traffic and dispose of the ball effectively. Newton’s overhead marking was again also a feature, forming a one-woman wall across the forward 50 arc. A prime example of that was when she marked from an Eastern kick-out, cleverly shifting to one side before charging back into the open space to intercept and frustrate the Ranges coaches. A step above.

Eastern:

#21 Olivia Meagher

Meagher played an absolute blinder for the Ranges, showing true heart to almost drag her side over the line from midfield. Hard to miss in her helmet, Meagher caught the eye in a different way on this occasion, providing scintillating run from the stoppages and in open play. Showed her intentions early in that sense with a two-bounce dash from defensive wing, with the rest of her breakaways coming through traffic and ending with a kick forward. Won her fair share of contested ball, but was also a danger across the forward 50 arc – finding the goals on the back of a 50-metre penalty in the second term, and assisting one of Madeline Di Cosmo’s two in the second half. Her defensive plays were just as important, laying a big tackle on Ellie McKenzie to set the tone late on, while also affecting a smother which would start the chain for Riley Hall’s goal to cut the margin to six points. A great overall effort, and we can look forward to more next year.

#26 Tarni Brown

It was by no means Brown’s most prolific day, but she started on the right note. The 2020 Collingwood father-daughter prospect was good alongside Meagher in competing against a stacked Northern midfield, winning clearances and proving tough in tackles. She would lay a few of her own too, but her best moment came with a smart steal as the ball was in dispute, which she ended nicely with a clearing kick to enter forward 50. Another we will see more of next year.

#33 Tess Flintoff

Very unlucky to miss out on being named in Eastern’s best for mine, but Flintoff has another two years in the system to rack up the votes. The midfielder is one of the best marking players in the competition, and showcased her skill in that area with phenomenal reading of the play and positioning. Often employed a kick behind the ball in open play, Flintoff had a purple patch in the third term with a series of intercept possessions, while also taking an impressive diving slips catch to show off her highly-touted junior cricketing skills. Flintoff’s clearance game was also strong – particularly when you consider her opposition – and she accumulated well throughout the day.

#39 Laura McClelland

It was not a huge day out of McClelland, but she started well in her usual post at half-forward. She helped the Ranges move forward well, acting as a link in the chain towards forward 50 – often collecting the ball on the arc and wheeling around to boot towards goal. McClelland did so twice in the opening few minutes, and popped up again in the third term with some nice work up the ground.

#41 Tahlia Merrett

One of Eastern’s many tall prospects, Merrett provided good value at either end of the ground. Starting at full-forward and later pitching in through the ruck, Merrett was an important part of the Ranges’ structure and helped to keep the Knights’ defence on its toes. Missed a long-range set shot in the third term but found the goals earlier on, and was later thrown down back to show her versatility.

#46 Serena Gibbs

Touted as a key player before the game for her ability to consistently find the goals, but Gibbs was unable to do so in this game. While she was limited at times by Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, Gibbs competed well and looked to stand up in the closing stages with a big tackle and terrific overhead mark as the Ranges surged home. The over-ager also took on some of the ruck duties inside forward 50 and looked comfortable there as well.

Geelong Falcons vs. Calder Cannons

Geelong:

#12 Laura Gardiner

Gardiner capped off a fine middle-age year with another solid display, mixing time between her customary wing position and the inside. While she got her hands on the ball well at stoppages, her usual clearing kicks forward went lateral at times, somewhat limiting her damage. Undeterred, Gardiner competed well all day and is one to keep an eye on for next year.

#18 Darcy Moloney

The middle-ager had a quiet opener but built into the game nicely, spending time on half-forward and up on the wing. Moloney became influential in the second half, starting with a nice intercept mark on the Falcons’ forward 50 arc. While she missed the resultant set shot, she followed up the kick well and was unlucky to miss again with another shot on goal – this time though a snap. Moloney’s luck continued to go against her as a long shot on goal which was on target took an unfortunate bounce in the goalsquare, but her ability to create those three chances was hugely promising. Has obvious midfield credentials, but looked very good forward of centre.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman again found herself in uncharted territory as the Falcons defence came under siege, and she again stood tall despite the defeat. Her mopping up deep inside defensive 50 early on was composed, but Chapman came up short on one occasion where she spilt a mark and gifted Alana Barba her opportunistic goal. Bounced back in the second half to save another Cannons goal with a clutch tackle, and followed up with a perfectly placed kick to find touch. Will be a key part of Vic Country’s campaign in the upcoming National Championships.

#24 Mia Skinner

Playing her typical half-forward role, Skinner tried her level best to manufacture the usual chances she would get to pepper the goals. While she worked hard up the ground to provide an option and link inside forward 50, Skinner’s best work came within the arc. She converted Geelong’s only goal with a set shot in the second term, had two quick-fire chances smothered, snapped one shot out on the full, and missed another. Skinner is great at getting dangerous positions and finding the ball in all the right areas, it is just unfortunate that on this occasion, she was hardly given a clean look to duly finish off her hard work.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

The Falcons’ skipper again led from the front and was simply outstanding. Won the first clearance of the game and launched a couple of huge kicks forward as she sought to set the tone for her side through the midfield. She has shown her ability to play just about anywhere, but took it to another level in this game with stints in the ruck after quarter time – playing more like a fourth midfielder at the centre bounces as the Falcons looked to thwart the impact of Calder’s firing midfield stars. McEvoy also tackled well and rose to the occasion with some fantastic overhead marking. Her positioning behind the ball while it was inside the Falcons’ forward 50 was effective, but McEvoy also ventured inside the arc and almost scrounged a goal with a snap out of congestion. Can hold her head up high, great performance as Geelong’s clear best.

#39 Renee Tierney

Tierney started brightly, tackling hard to win a holding the ball free kick which she used to punt inside 50. Given time in the midfield, Tierney won a couple of nice clearances to set Geelong forward and got involved well in a slightly different role. Went on to spend time all around the ground and will be one of Geelong’s better top-agers next year.

Calder:

#2 Felicity Theodore

Named at half-forward, Theodore took on a role in the back half on this occasion. The top-ager competed well in defensive 50 and swept up the scraps well at ground level throughout the day. While her kicking was a little shaky in the first half, she showed her ability to hit targets more effectively in the second, finding Emelia Yassir well from a free kick. A solid performer in the sturdy Calder defence.

#3 Emelia Yassir

Yassir put in an incredible performance to be named the Cannons’ best as part of a trio of promising Calder bottom-agers. After finding the goals in the first term as her side broke to an early lead, Yassir never looked back. The bite-sized forward played well above her height, marking strongly up the ground and becoming a key link into the forward 50. Played out of her skin, but could be one to keep an eye on in the coming years.

#4 Kasey Lennox

Another outstanding Calder bottom-ager on the day, Lennox was a rock in defence. The Calder back six collectively stood tall to intercept a wealth of high balls which entered their own 50 arc, and Lennox played a key part in that factor. The 15-year-old looked unfazed by the challenge, and is already a good height to play as a key defender.

#11 Alana Barba

Barba played a fantastic game as the third prong in a dynamic Calder midfield, and made arguably the best start to the game of all three. After a previous dribbled effort fell short, the top-ager cleverly snatched a spilled mark off her Falcons opponent and snapped truly, lifting her side with a big celebration to boot. While she did not find as much room to move after half time, Barba won some nice clearances and played her role well.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is an out-and-out leader, and stood up when it mattered as arguably the most skilful player on the ground. Winning clearances and providing a wealth of run, Patrikios delivered the ball aptly on both sides and was one of the more effective short passers by foot on the day. She is just so clean on the ball and her searing pace means she is hardly caught in possession – if ever – making her such a damaging player. Patrikios used her pace well in a particular passage along the boundary, skipping past players as she soccered the ball forward for some valuable meterage. She also proved her smarts with a holding the ball tackle on the back of a 50-metre penalty against the Cannons, and proved tough in contested situations. Missed the chance to hit the scoreboard in the final quarter and cap off a big day, but should be proud with her effort to lead Calder to their unlikely win.

#38 Laura Cocomello

‘Coco’ was combative on the wing, helping the Cannons to both break forward and keep the ball inside attacking 50. Cocomello’s overhead marking was impressive at times, with one from behind over the smaller Elise Vella a particular highlight. The middle-ager’s ability to keep her hands up allowed her to escape tackles well, and she was usually impactful with ball in hand. Had the chance to find the goals with a long-range set shot in the final term, but fell short.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

We are running out of superlatives to describe how scarily good Prespakis is at just 16 years of age, and she looked to have thrived in the finals atmosphere. Hard to miss in her standard long-sleever, Prespakis was the anchor at each centre bounce for the Cannons, bursting forward on multiple occasions and slicing through traffic with ease, while often finishing with a long roost inside 50. Laid a huge holding the ball tackle on Geelong star Lucy McEvoy the second term to further prove Calder’s intentions, and was an unstoppable presence around the ground all day. She was simply damaging with almost every possession, and has the ability to make opponents look silly in open space as she looks to deliver forward. Is the leading prospect for 2021 at this stage, and is more than living up to her pedigree.

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals preview – Grand Final spots up for grabs at Shepley

FINALS fever hits the NAB League Girls competition, with a revamped finals series set to get underway at Shepley Oval on Saturday. A spot in the grand final is on the line in both games as first does battle with fourth, and second plays third. In the weekend’s other game, Oakleigh hosts Tasmania at Windy Hill in a one-off exhibition.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS (1st, 8-0-1) vs. EASTERN RANGES (4th, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 12:30pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels 0.5 (5)
Eastern Ranges 3.1 (19) defeated by Sandringham Dragons 3.5 (23)

Last Meeting:
Round 5 – Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Eastern Ranges 4.2 (26) @ La Trobe University Oval

MATCH PREVIEW

The undefeated Knights came into the year as strong premiership fancies, and firmed as favourites with their 36-point Round 8 win over reigning premiers, Geelong – avenging their 2018 grand final defeat and snapping the Falcons’ two-year winning run in one fell swoop. The only hiccup in Northern’s season thus far was a Round 2 draw with Oakleigh, with the best attack in the league and a raft of stars helping them ease to eight wins – including ones over two fellow finals sides. They are only one step away from a second-consecutive grand final berth, but an exciting Eastern team stands in the way. The Ranges are one of the best marking sides in the competition, and can compete with most teams on their day, but suffered a couple of disappointing losses to lower-ranked sides and had a close encounter with Tasmania in Round 7. Their narrow margins of victory and defeat – including three wins by under a goal – make for heart-stopping games, but their more convincing wins like their 51-point one over Gippsland show why they are always a chance. Eastern’s prime movers in the middle include potential 2020 Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, as well as gun bottom-ager Tess Flintoff, and Olivia Meagher, but their most potent threats will come through the tall duo of Laura McClelland and Serena Gibbs forward of centre. Northern key back Sarah Sansonetti has been in terrific in recent weeks, and could well find herself playing on both of those Ranges talls throughout the game. While her role will prove vital, if the likes of Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, and Ellie McKenzie are thrown into the middle at the same time as we have seen recently, it may be tough for the Ranges to venture forward in the first place. The versatility of those three will make a huge difference, and one would think the range of Knights weapons could well prove too much as it did in the side’s previous meeting. With Northern getting one back on Geelong two weeks ago to come in as the top seed, and Eastern suffering a defeat in their final regular season outing, this will be a tough mountain to climb for the Ranges.

KEY PLAYERS

Northern:

Gabby Newton

The Northern skipper has been sensational throughout the year, averaging almost 20 disposals over her eight NAB League games. Much has already been made of her basketball background, with the gun midfielder showing off her hops in the ruck at times and her equally impressive composure in traffic to no end. While her starting position will most likely be at the centre bounces, Newton’s role as a general behind the ball will be key in this clash – with a potent Eastern tall duo likely to line up down forward. Her intercept marking and overall overhead prowess is profound, so look for that to be a feature in this game along with her consistent ball-winning ability – with over 20 disposals in five games this year. Versatile and damaging, Newton is key.

Eastern:

Serena Gibbs

Gibbs is one of three Eastern talls who pose an enormous risk to the Northern defence, often trading time between centre half-forward and the ruck. If she is matched up on Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, the clash becomes one of the more important ones for the game with the likes of Laura McClelland and Tahlia Merrett also able to be freed up should they play forward at the same time. Gibbs has found the goals in seven of her nine NAB League appearances, led by a dominant 3.4 from 18 disposals against Gippsland in Round 8. While her Round 9 return saw her collect under 10 disposals for just the third time, Gibbs has been a consistently dangerous threat and will be a key focal point this time around.

GEELONG FALCONS (2nd, 8-1) vs. CALDER CANNONS (3rd, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 2:15pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Geelong Falcons 8.7 (55) defeated Murray Bushrangers 1.1 (7)
Calder Cannons 5.7 (37) defeated Gippsland Power 1.0 (6)

Last Meeting:
Round 7 – Geelong Falcons 3.2 (20) defeated Calder Cannons 1.0 (6) @ RAMS Arena

MATCH PREVIEW

The Geelong Falcons bounced back well from their Round 8 loss to Northern – their first since May 2017 – to secure second place with a welcome return to form, toppling Murray by 48 points after conceding the first goal. Their depth across all lines is scary good, but their premiership defence has largely been built on a typically sturdy back six and dominant midfield, with their forward structure taking greater shape across the year. Abbey Chapman has led the league’s stingiest defence all year, with the Falcons’ highest score conceded (43) coming against Northern, while the likes of skipper Lucy McEvoy, Paige Sheppard, and Luka Lesosky-Hay have been instrumental in the engine room. Pair the inside grunt of those three with the outside class of Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney on either wing, and you have a midfield that is hard to beat to say the least. Mia Skinner has been the spearhead forward of centre, booting a league-high 18 goals – including two bags of four – having only been held goalless on two occasions, in Rounds 7 and 8. The Cannons have some firepower of their own, which more often than not comes from star duo, Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis. Both have the ability to not only find a wealth of the ball through the middle, but to also find the goals – exemplified by Prespakis’ bag of seven in Round 2 from full forward. Prespakis, the sister of Carlton star Maddie, has averaged 23.3 disposals over her eight games with two returns of over 30 touches, while Patrikios averages just over 22 in her seven outings, and the pair should provide a dynamism that Geelong will have to pay great attention to. Include talls at either end, such as the likes of Alana Barba up forward and Krstel Petrevski, along with Makeisha Muller at ground level, and there are some interesting moving parts to the Calder line-up. Having already gotten the better of Calder as recently as in Round 7, Geelong will be confident of repeating the feat and storming into another grand final. If Calder can again keep the Falcons to under four goals though, then anything can happen. Expect fireworks either way.

KEY PLAYERS

Geelong:

Lucy McEvoy

Able to be utilised on each line, the Falcons skipper is arguably her side’s most important player. An ultra-consistent force, McEvoy has only dropped below 20 disposals once in her eight games – incidentally in the Falcons’ only loss – to average 22.2 disposals per outing. Her presence at the centre bounces in undeniable, using her size to prize the ball out and her composure to flick out effective handballs to receivers. In general play, McEvoy utilises a booming kick to rebound and enter either arc, while positioning herself a kick behind the play to act as an impenetrable wall at both ends. Her overhead marking is a feature, but expect to see her mostly in the thick of the midfield action given Calder’s strength in that area.

Calder:

Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is all but equal to McEvoy in her disposal output, but provides a different kind of threat from midfield. Having shown how damaging she can be on the outside during her bottom-age year, Patrikios has developed into a balanced midfielder very quickly, but is still often seen bursting away from congestion and delivering forward with aplomb. The Cannons star’s best game came in Round 7 against the Falcons, collecting 31 disposals and finding the goals, so she will hope to produce more of the same here. With the strength of Geelong’s midfield obvious, Patrikios’ point of difference in her pace will be key amidst that battle.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 19, 11:00am
Windy Hill

Oakleigh hosts Tasmania on neutral ground for a one-off friendly game, completing a hat-trick of Devils NAB League appearances. With Oakleigh narrowly missing finals, this game poises the travelling side against the best of the rest as finals gets underway, and will be a third opportunity for them to pick up a win in the competition. Tasmania entered in Round 7 with two games over three days, going down to Western by 37 points under Friday night lights, and giving Eastern a mighty scare just two days later. Oakleigh will be keen to finish off the season with another win to make it six all up, but the Devils showed their fighting spirit already and should provide a good test for the Chargers. The game will also be a curtain raiser for the NAB League boys clash between Gippsland and Greater Western Victoria at 1:00.

NAB League Boys Round 8 preview: Super Saturday to shape NAB League ladder

NAB LEAGUE teams are preparing for a huge day of action, with five of Round 8’s six games set to be played on Saturday. Despite only one top eight clash taking place, the remaining fixtures pose as a chance for the top sides to stamp their authority.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday May 18, 10:00am
Shepley Oval

A fourth consecutive win is on the line for the Northern Knights when they host Oakleigh Chargers on neutral territory. While the Knights are on a hot run after losing their first four games, the depleted Chargers scraped over the line against Tasmania in Round 6 on the back of three-straight losses, but will be refreshed after a bye round. That sees the visitors come in relatively unchanged despite star duo Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson having the week free of school football commitments with Carey Grammar, while Northern has made at least six changes. The tall Knights trio of Ben Major, Nathan Howard, and Nikolas Cox comes out of the side, with bottom-agers Rhys Seakins and Joel Trudgeon, and over-ager Bailey Leonard amongst the inclusions on an extended bench. While the ninth against tenth match-up may not set the world alight on paper, the almost opposite form of both teams and closeness of the match-ups should make this a tight one.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday May 18, 1:00pm
Victoria Park (Echuca)

A chance to separate from the remaining top eight pack and consolidate a top four spot looms for Sandringham Dragons when they travel to face Bendigo Pioneers in Echuca. The Dragons suffered a rare loss against fellow top four hopefuls, Eastern last time out, but have otherwise been dominant in their four wins to hold a league-best percentage of 174.30. After winning their first two games, the Pioneers have gone on a four-game slide since – despite finding themselves in winning positions in recent two and five point losses to Tasmania and Northern respectively. The hosts have made four changes to last week’s side with the likes of Brady Rowles and Ethan Roberts coming out, with Sandringham making the same amount of rotations. Jai Florent, brother of Sydney’s Oliver, is one of three Dragons to come straight back into the starting 22, with their tall ruck-forward trio of Riley Bowman, Jack Bell, and Andrew Courtney all named and primed to prove a handful. Both sides will be keen to bounce back off tough losses, so onlookers should be in for a hot start.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday May 18, 2:00pm
Norm Minns Oval

Murray Bushrangers will be hoping to start an ascent up the NAB League ladder with what would be a second-straight win when they do battle with Calder Cannons on home turf. Both sides have won one of their last two games, with Murray very unlucky not to have come away with more victories to this point. Calder has shown improvement after a poor start to put three wins on the board, but holds the lowest percentage of all established sides with 67.5. Last week’s 51-point loss to Gippsland was not a great indicator of their otherwise promising form, with a solid string of over-agers and in-form top-agers leading their cause. The Cannons have made two changes to last week’s side, while Murray has brought in three fresh faces on an extended bench, with Tom Bracher named as 23rd man. The Bushrangers’ own over-agers in the form of Ben Kelly and Zane Barzen are hitting their straps, and give great value to the side led again by top prospect, Lachlan Ash. They will all make it tough for Calder to get up here on its travels, but do not expect them give it up easily.

GEELONG FALCONS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday May 18, 2:45pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Both the Geelong Falcons and Western Jets will be looking to return to the winners list when they do battle at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday afternoon. A host of red time goals cost the Falcons a second win last week as they were accounted for by Murray, but they have been competitive in most of their four losses and of course, their draw with Dandenong. Western sit just inside the top eight as one of five sides with three wins, but fell well short in Round 7 against a strong Dandenong side on the back of a bye week. The Jets have made six changes on the back of the loss, with the likes of Josh Kellett and Cassius White amongst the outs. Much in the same vein, Geelong has five outs but replenishes its tall stocks with the likes of Harry Stubbings, Sam Christensen, and Charlie Sprague all named as Henry Walsh and Lochie Hocking come out. Western have double the ladder points, but will be tested well by this persistent Geelong side, so expect a tight tussle and for the Falcons to come out strong.

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 18, 3:30pm
Blundstone Arena

The sole top eight fixture for the round hits Tasmania as the seventh-placed Devils host ladder-leaders, Dandenong in Saturday’s final game. The Stingrays have had three-consecutive wins between 63 and 71 points after their Round 3 draw with Geelong, seeing them boast the only undefeated record in the competition after seven rounds. The 3-3 Devils have done well to hold an even record, with their most recent set of four points coming last week in a match decided after the siren. They will be boosted massively by the returns of top prospect Mitch O’Neill and over-ager Matt McGuiness, with Will Harper named as 23rd man in a talented team. Dandenong has also shuffled the starting lineup, with the in-form Ned Cahill a key out, while over-ager Jai Nanscawen has been named at half-back after a week off. Tasmania will have their work cut out for them against a Dandenong side building a strong premiership defence, but the Devils are not a team to go down easily – especially on home turf.

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Sunday May 19, 1:00pm
Windy Hill

Country sides are set to play off at a Metro venue in Sunday’s lone fixture, with Gippsland Power and the Greater Western Victoria Rebels poised to meet at Windy Hill to see out the round. The Power have surged into the top four on the back of four-consecutive wins, with their only loss coming to the undefeated Dandenong Stingrays in what has been a strong start to the season. Meanwhile, the Rebels have managed two wins in an indifferent start, but had only lost by a combined total of 21 points before last week’s 32-point loss to Northern. The performance of Jay Rantall was a massive plus to come out of that game, and he will be key to the Rebels’ chances against a stacked Power midfield. Both sides are set to make at least three changes with extended benches named, but should come in reasonably steady. GWV will be keen to prove themselves once again against top opposition having tested Dandenong in Round 1, while Gippsland will see the game as a chance to continue its solid run of form.

Draft Central Rising Star: NAB League Girls – Round 9

DANDENONG Stingrays midfielder, Tyanna Smith was absolutely everywhere in Round 9, with the tenacious middle-ager adding searing pace to a midfield which includes two pre-listed AFLW players, as well as clinical finishing inside 50 to make it a day out.

Smith finished with 23 disposals, four tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds, and four-straight goals in an impressive display.

Scouting notes for Round 9 vs. Western Jets:

#28 Tyanna Smith

Added raw pace and excitement to the midfield, making Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon‘s dynamic duo and terrific trio for the day. The thing that made Smith stand out was her ability to push forward and become a dangerous figure inside 50, where she was seemingly everywhere at times as she slotted multiple goals. Her best came from a forward 50 stoppage, where she broke away and kicked truly, with her streaming runs from slick roves a nice feature throughout. Had another eye-catching passage of play where she paddled the ball along the boundary on defensive wing, showing great strength to keep her feet and composure to come away with the ball. Arguably the most damaging Stingray on the day, a top game from the middle-ager.

Rising Star of the Week:

Round 1 – Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
Round 2 – Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Round 3 – Gabby Newton (Northern Knights)
Round 4 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
Round 5 – Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Round 6 – Tess Flintoff (Eastern Ranges)
Round 7 – Grace McRae (Gippsland Power)
Round 8 – Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers)
Round 9 – TYANNA SMITH (DANDENONG STINGRAYS)

NAB League Boys Round 7 preview: Top four clash headlines ladder-shaping weekend

THE Northern Academies have come and gone in the NAB League, and proceedings will continue as normal for the remainder of the year as the ladder begins to take shape. A top four clash looms as the game of the weekend, with a host of bottom-half sides set to jostle for position in an important round of action.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Fresh off their first NAB League season win, the Geelong Falcons will be hoping for more of the same when they host Murray Bushrangers in Avalon. While both teams can only lay claim to one win thus far, Geelong sits a ladder spot above its weekend opponents having also picked up a draw. Bad luck has also followed either side to this point, with close games going the way of their opposition more often than not – seeing their effort and ability to be competitive go unrewarded. The Falcons will also be without co-captain Cooper Stephens for most of the year, so need their brigade of small running midfielders to stand up once again, while Oliver Henry remains a target up forward. The Bushrangers welcome back some over-age depth in the likes of Ben Kelly, Zane Barzen, and Liam Fiore, looking primed to make a mid-season charge up the ladder. While this could be a good chance to start a winning run, the inexperienced Falcons have showed they are often competitive and can stay with sides around their level. Expect a good battle with a second win up for grabs.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 3:15pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The ladder-leading Dandenong Stingrays travel to Williamstown to do battle with Western Jets, looking to keep their undefeated record in tact. A draw against Geelong remains the only blemish in an otherwise perfect Stingrays season, with their last two wins after a Round 4 bye both coming by over 70 points. The 3-2 Jets will be wary of their weekend opponents’ form, but are on a good run themselves after winning two-consecutive games before enjoying their own bye last week. The bye round proved perfect timing for over-agers Daly Andrews and Will Kennedy, who put their hands up for mid-season draft selection in the Young Guns game and will be back in Western colours this week. In the same vein, Dandenong welcomes Mitch Riordan and Bailey Schmidt back to a lineup which looks like it is really starting to click – with key position and smaller guns on each line. Equal form lines aside, the Stingrays will fancy their chances in this one, but a win may not come as easily as in their last two outings.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 12, 11:00am
Queen Elizabeth Oval

Bendigo Pioneers and Tasmania Devils will both be looking to build on their two respective wins for the year when they clash at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Sunday’s first game. The ‘Pios have been unable to add to their impressive Round 1 and 2 wins, but only went down by a combined 21 points in their last two games despite losing a couple of key players to school football. Meanwhile, Tasmania has also gone down in its last two efforts, including a heartbreaking one-point loss to Oakleigh at home last week. The positive signs are there for the Devils though, with Mitch O’Neill the only Australian representative star not to return to the side since his showcase outing. Despite others returning, Matthew McGuiness, Joseph Chaplin, Nicholas Baker, and Tyler Penwright are all key outs this week, leaving the Devils without some key experience and class. With the ability to hang with Bendigo clearly there, the travelling side will hope the continued development of their players can see them snatch another set of four points. But with travel a factor and Bendigo looking to stick with the pack of teams on 12 points, it will prove no mean feat.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
Morwell Recreational Reserve

Gippsland Power will look to continue its surge up the NAB League ladder at home on Sunday, but Calder Cannons stand in the way of a possible third-consecutive win. The hosts have gotten the better of three results decided by under 10 points, with their only loss coming by just six against table-toppers, Dandenong. Calder is on a run of two-straight wins after its Round 4 loss to Tasmania, faring far more competitively despite being the worst-placed of three sides on 12 points. While the Power has only named an extended bench, Calder looks set to lose some back-six class this week – with Sam Ramsay and Mason Fletcher out. Despite that, over-agers Sam Graham and Josh Kemp should prove key ins for a Cannons side looking to compete with a formidable Gippsland outfit. With Sam Flanders kicking into gear, Riley Baldi returning well from injury, and skipper Brock Smith nominated for the Round 6 Draft Central Player of the Week, the Power should soon consolidate themselves as a genuine premiership contender.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 1:00pm
MARS Stadium

A third win is up for grabs for both the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Northern Knights as they clash in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon. Despite boasting equal wins, the Rebels have a far greater percentage than the Knights having won by 55 points over the Northern Territory Academy and their biggest loss coming by 14 points. Northern’s two victories have come in the last two weeks against Bendigo and the NT, with the Knights also breaking through for a season-high score of 98 (their next-best is 73). Some over-age and bottom-age inclusions for the Knights will aid their cause, with Sunny Brazier, Ollie Simpson, Nikolas Cox, and Ben Major returning to the side alongside top-age midfield ace, Sam Philp. Over-age talent also returns for the home side, as Jed Hill, James Cleaver, and Matty Lloyd have all been named. With the sides’ collective wins coming against bottom-half opponents, both will see this game as an opportunity for more of the same as the ladder starts to take shape. Northern should also be breathing fire after last year’s Wildcard Round thrashing at the hands of their weekend opponents, so expect a hot contest.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 2:00pm
RSEA Park

Arguably the game of the round will be played out in Moorabbin, with Sandringham Dragons and Eastern Ranges set to do battle in a top four clash. Having been knocked off top spot after a bye round, the Dragons will be looking to pick up from where they left off, winning by 97 points in their last outing. While the Ranges were beaten by a strong Gippsland side last time out, they have been a one of the competition’s more consistent teams, with their only other loss coming to a full-strength Oakleigh in Round 1. A strong array of talls remains in the Sandringham 22, with Ryan Byrnes the key man in midfield and Angus Hanrahan and Riley Bowman coming off a Young Guns outing. The likes of Cody Hirst and Riley Smith come back for Eastern, adding strength to their running and tall games respectively. With much of the Dragons’ threats coming in their 195cm-plus players, this will again be a tough test for an Eastern side stacked with smaller runners, despite a bigger forward line. A tight tussle should ensue, with one side looking to stamp its authority and the other keen to prove it is a genuine contender.

BYE: Oakleigh Chargers

NAB League Girls Round 9 preview: Finals race remains open

THE final round of the NAB League Girls regular season is upon us, with sliding doors in the top four race still very much on the move. With all four of the current finals placeholders competing against teams below them, destiny will be in their own hands heading into the season’s climax.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 12:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Reigning premiers Geelong Falcons will be looking to break from the unfamiliar feeling of losing when they clash with Murray Bushrangers to open Round 9. The Falcons’ undefeated record extending back to Round 4 2017 was finally broken by the Northern Knights last week, but a top-two spot seems all but sealed nonetheless. Despite looking impressive, the Bushrangers sit eighth having only conjured three wins thus far, with a loss to Dandenong last time out putting the nail in their finals chances. Murray’s task of overcoming the formidable Geelong side will be made tougher with middle-age midfield ace Abby Favell and Chelsea Hargreaves unavailable due to NSW/ACT commitments. In the same vein, Poppy Schapp is among three Falcons changes after copping a heavy knock in the bruising encounter with Northern. The Falcons will be breathing fire after last week’s loss, and coach Jason Armistead is looking to confirm his best line-up heading into finals, making this a key game for his players. Geelong also still has a chance of snatching top spot back, so Murray will have its work cut out in this one.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 1:30pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The Western Jets can make it an unlikely three-straight wins when they host Dandenong Stingrays in windy Williamstown. After going 0-4, the Jets won in Round 5 and added to their tally twice more in recent weeks despite going down heavily to Geelong in between. Meanwhile, a disappointing loss to Oakleigh with a depleted squad in Round 7 all but ended the Stingrays’ season after going down to Bendigo the week before, but their 4-4 record is nothing to scoff at. Dandenong is set for at least six changes in their season-closer, while Cleo Saxon-Jones comes in alongside an extended bench for Western. With both sides looking to finish on a high and promise shown on either end at different stages, this should be a cracking contest.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 11:15am
Morwell Football Ground

Calder Cannons will be looking to cement its finals spot with a win over Gippsland Power in Sunday’s opening game. The Cannons can only realistically be jumped by Oakleigh should the Chargers win, but will count itself a good chance of making the top four a formality with their sixth win. While the visitors have lost twice in their last three tries, their star duo of Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis has proved the difference in multiple games and will help to put their side’s best foot forward here. On the other hand, Gippsland finally got on the board in Round 7 and remain on a sole victory, but will be keen to finish their season on a positive note. The incentive of throwing a spanner amidst the finals calculations would surely also loom large, and they have shown enough improvement to suggest they can add to the upsets of late. An interesting contest awaits.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 11:15am
MARS Stadium

The Northern Knights have the chance to consolidate top spot when they travel to face Greater Western Victoria in Ballarat. An impressive victory last time out saw the Knights snap Geelong’s two-year unbeaten run, and they will be out to stamp their authority as the competition’s clear number one side here. Mia Papachristos is a handy inclusion for the visitors, who have made two changes on the back of last week’s effort, while the hosts are set to make at least two with an extended bench named. GWV have picked up two wins in an indifferent year, getting the better of Bendigo in Round 1 and severely denting Oakleigh’s finals hopes just last week after a disappointing loss to Gippsland. While the result looks a formality on paper, the Rebels will try their level best to cause an upset, and Northern know they will be up for the challenge having picked a full-strength side.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 12:15pm
RSEA Park

Sandringham Dragons will look to cause one final upset when they clash with confirmed finals contenders, Eastern Ranges in Moorabbin. While the Ranges sealed their top four spot with a big win over Gippsland after scraping past Tasmania the week before, Sandringham has lost its last two games after a run of consecutive wins. The chance to spoil the Ranges final hit-out before finals looms for Sandringham, but it will be no mean feat against the might of Eastern. While either side is set to make at least a couple of changes each, their respective cores remain relatively untouched and should provide much of the excitement. The midfield battle between the likes of Eastern’s Tarni Brown and Tess Flintoff against Sandringham’s Alice Burke and Winnie Laing will be a competitive, while Dragons’s tall Sarah Hartwig will have her work cut out for her against Serena Gibbs and Laura McClelland. With a win possibly the difference between playing the Falcons or Knights, Eastern still have something to play for in this one.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday May 12, 3:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

A competitive game is set to see out the 2019 regular season, as Oakleigh and Bendigo face off at Queen Elizabeth Oval. While previous results will be known to them, this could be the Chargers’ last chance to snatch a finals spot after a shock loss last week to second-bottom, GWV. The Pioneers looked a finals threat on the back of three-straight wins, before consecutive losses knocked them out of contention more recently. With the talent clearly there to compete with a side like Oakleigh, and the Chargers’ losses to GWV and Sandringham lingering, Bendigo is in with a huge chance on home turf. Their effort will be slightly hindered by the absence of Jordyn Jolliffe as part of six Bendigo chances, while Oakleigh will come in more settled. Either way, it should prove to be a tight encounter and finals ramifications would only add an extra layer to the contest.

NAB League Boys Round 6 wash-up: Academies bow out as Dandy go top

NORTHERN Academies played out their final NAB League games in Round 6 as a new leader emerged and the Geelong Falcons grabbed their first win for the season. The Falcons’ victory saw Gold Coast Suns jump Sydney Swans to claim the Academy Division 2 title on percentage, as both teams finished with 4-1 records. All that, and more in this weekend’s wash-up.

TASMANIA DEVILS 3.0 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 8.7 (55)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 3.4 | 3.5 | 6.6 | 8.8 (56)

GOALS:
Tasmania:
R. Mansell 2, W. Harper 2, M. McGuinness, S. Banks, B. Gordon, J. Callow
Oakleigh: T. Lovell 4, T. Graham, L. Westwood, H. Mundy, A. Tassell

BEST:
Tasmania:
H. Ireland, R. Mansell, O. Davis, P. Walker, L. Viney, I. Chugg
Oakleigh: T. Bianco, J. Woodfull, J. May, H. Mastras, L. Westwood, S. Seach

By: Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers held on for a hard-fought win by the narrowest of margins over Tasmania at North Hobart Oval, helping them climb back into the NAB League top eight. After breaking to a slim quarter-time lead, the Chargers gave up a nine-point half time lead after going goalless in the second term. With their backs against the wall, Oakleigh stood up to reclaim the lead, and hold on until the final siren as both sides contributed 1.2 in the fourth quarter. Oakleigh’s Thomas Lovell was efficient in front of goal with half of his eight touches ending in six points, but it was co-captain Trent Bianco who was his side’s best with 42 disposals, five marks, seven clearances, nine tackles and eight inside 50s. Josh May was also instrumental with 28 disposals and five clearances, while ruckman Jacob Woodfull was handy with 16 disposals and 27 hitouts. Harrison Ireland was named the Devils’ best for his role as an undersized ruck, while Ollie Davis was their leading ball winner with 21 touches and five clearances. Fellow bottom-age star Sam Collins was not far behind, matching AFL Academy member Will Peppin‘s effort of 18 disposals, while Will Harper and Rhyan Mansell each booted two goals. While Oakleigh can enjoy a bye in Round 7, Tasmania faces a trip to Bendigo to face the Pioneers, who are also 2-3.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.4 | 5.7 | 7.7 | 11.11 (77)
GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 4.5 | 6.8 | 8.11 | 12.16 (88)

GOALS:
Murray:
J. Boyer 3, H. Kaak 2, J. Chalcraft 2, L. Sykes, C. Wilson, L. Ash, M. Holt
GWS: H. Grant 3, J. Green 2, L. Conlan 2, M. Hamblin 2, J. Lucas, L. Delahunty, T. Green

BEST:
Murray:
D. Clarke, S. Durham, L. Ash, J. Chalcraft, J. Boyer, W. Bowden
GWS: H. Grant, E. Perryman, L. Delahunty, J. Green, L. Conlan

By: Michael Alvaro

Murray Bushrangers slump to 1-4 as the worst-placed Victorian NAB League side after going down by 11 points to GWS Giants Academy. The Bushrangers are unlucky to find themselves in that position given three of their four losses have come by a collective margin of 18 points, with their other loss (24 points) coming against the Swans Academy last week. The Giants, meanwhile, picked up their second win with star midfielder Tom Green (37 disposals, 11 clearances) back in the side, seeing them finish third of the five academies. While Green was at the centre of everything for the Giants, Jeromy Lucas (33 disposals, seven marks) was also instrumental alongside over-ager Ed Perryman (31 disposals, nine marks) in his first game for the year, while Harry Grant 23 disposals, three goals) and Liam Delahunty (21 disposals, seven inside 50s) were effective forward of centre. Dylan Clarke was Murray’s best and equal-leading disposal getter with 27, matched by returning skipper Lachlan Ash (six marks, six tackles, one goal). Jimmy Boyer found the goals well with three majors, joined as a multiple goal kicker by Jye Chalcraft and Hudson Kaak (both two goals). While the GWS products bow out of NAB League commitments and ready themselves for possible Allies selection, Murray faces Geelong in hopes of snaring a second win and a run of form.

CALDER CANNONS 4.3 | 6.5 | 7.6 | 7.10 (52)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.3 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS:
Calder:
M. Fletcher 2, B. Rigoni, N. Gentile, J. O’Sullivan, D. Mott, M. Allison
Bendigo: E. Roberts, R. Ironside, J. Ginnivan, Z. Murley, C. Fisher

BEST:
Calder:
J. Martin, D. Mott, J. Hotchkin, T. Browning, N. Gentile, B. Newman
Bendigo: J. Treacy, R. Ironside, S. Conforti, J. Schischka, B. Vaz, W. Wallace

By: Taylah Melki

The Cannons came out firing in the first term and really took control of the game placing them in a strong position for the rest of the game opening a four goal to one first term. In tricky wet and slippery conditions both sides battled hard to win possession with forge the ball forward but it was the Cannons who prevailed against the Pioneers who could not capitalise in front of goal. Jacob Martin led the way for the Cannons winning a heap of the ball with 36 touches, four inside 50s and five tackles for his efforts, while teammate Daniel Mott was impressive. Mott worked hard across the ground and racked up 36 touches to go with his first quarter goal making him a key player for Calder. Brodie Newman also had a solid performance with a game 12 marks testament to his strong hands and clever placement to get into the right position and take big grabs. Mason Fletcher made his presence felt on the scoreboard nailing two majors while Ned Gentile scored 1.2 for the afternoon. After a quiet start James Schischka worked his way into the game and amassed 20 touches along with eight tackles for the Pios. He was closely followed by teammates, Riley Wilson (18 touches) and Brady Rowles (17) while Joshua Treacy did a wealth of work in attack with five inside 50s. Riley Ironside also had a big second half going in hard at the contest and doing the little things well to try and influence the play. He finished with a major, 17 possessions and five marks.

GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY 3.6 | 6.9 | 9.10 | 14.11 (95)
GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 2.0 | 5.3 | 8.7 | 12.9 (81)

GOALS:
Gold Coast:
M. Pescud 4, C. Beaman 3, H. Oea 2, J. Gore 2, M. Conroy, M. Selsby, E. Hunt
GWV: N. Caris 4, I. Wareham 2, L. O’Brien 2, L. Herbert, J. Wright, I. Grant, M. Martin

BEST:
Gold Coast:
H. Oea, C. Budarick, A. Crossley, M. Conroy, M. Pescud , J. Gore
GWV: I. Wareham, C. Craig-Peters, N. Caris, J. Rantall, T. Mahony, J. Tillig

By: Michael Alvaro

Gold Coast Suns snatched the Division 2 title with a fighting 14-point win over the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in front of their home crowd. Leading at every break, the Suns bounced back well from a heavy loss last week with a spread of four multiple goal kickers heading a solid team performance. While Connor Budarick again led all comers for disposals (23), Max Pescud booted an equal game-high four goals and Hewago Paul Oea was named best for his 19 disposals, seven clearances and two goals. In what was a low-disposal game, the Rebels’ top five ball-winners had between 15 and 16 disposals each, with Riley Polkinghorne and Isaac Thomas leading the way. Nick Caris claimed four goals, with Cooper Craig-Peters and Liam O’Brien bagging two each as the other GWV multiple goal kickers. While the Suns’ NAB League commitments are over, GWV plays Northern on home turf as their season rolls on.

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 6.5 | 8.8 | 12.12 (84)
SYDNEY SWANS 1.3 | 3.4 | 6.9 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS:
Geelong:
O. Henry 4, W. Batson 2, C. Brauer 2, S. Ham, W. Kilpatrick, C. Seymour, J. Makuey
Sydney: K. McGrath 2, E. Gulden, L. Swaney, B. Campbell, H. Ellem, S. Gaden

BEST:
Geelong:
J. Clark, C. Harris, C. Karpala, L. Smith, S. Bourke, O. Henry
Sydney: A. Watling, E. Gulden, R. van Huisstede, M. Geddes, L. Parks, B. Campbell

By: Joe Lee

An electric Geelong provided a big upset, leading at every change to record a 31-point victory over the Sydney Swans Academy. In a tough and uncompromising contest in near perfect conditions at Trevor Barker Oval, the Falcons were too good offensively for a wasteful Sydney outfit. Geelong’s multitude of quick and evasive small midfielder-forwards were too much for the Swans to handle, both on the inside and outside of the contest. Geelong’s slick and accurate ball movement overwhelmed the Sydney defence, with Jesse Clark being instrumental in setting up play with his damaging right boot, whilst Oliver Henry’s draft stocks continue to rise, backing up his five-goal effort in Round 3 with a four-goal haul this week. For the Swans, Braeden Campbell worked tirelessly all day, attacking the contest with vigour and was a clear standout in a team lacking a bit of intensity.

BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY 1.1 | 2.5 | 2.8 | 3.11 (29)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.6 | 4.8 | 9.12 | 14.16 (100)

GOALS:
Brisbane:
C. Michael, W. Tasker, J. Quint
Dandenong: C. Weightman 3, J. Roysmith 2, C. Gay 2, C. Ellison 2, J. Johnson, E. Cahill, J. Toner, W. Bravo, R. Orchard

BEST:
Brisbane:
J. Currie, N. Cumberland, T. Griffiths, S. Ryan, W. Martyn, T. Jeffrey
Dandenong: C. Gay, C. Ellison, H. Berenger, B. Welsh, H. Young

By: Michael Alvaro

Reigning premiers Dandenong Stingrays climbed atop the NAB League ladder for the first time this season, trouncing the Brisbane Lions Academy by 71 points in Queensland. With only a draw hindering their otherwise unblemished record, the Stingrays hit top gear after half time with ten goals to one in a dominant display. The result rounds off a disappointing end to Brisbane’s NAB League cameo, with the Lions losing four-straight after their Round 2 win over GWS. Will Martyn has been far from disappointing though, and contributed 32 disposals to lead all comers, but was beaten out by Justin Currie (16 disposals, five marks) as Brisbane’s best. Noah Cumberland (26 disposals, nine clearances) was also thereabouts with Tom Matthews matching his disposal output, while Samson Ryan (14 disposals, 32 hit-outs) had a good day in the ruck. Hayden Young was touted as a key inclusion for Dandenong, and was amongst the best with his team-high 28 disposals and six clearances. Bottom-ager Clayton Gay was adjudged to be his side’s best though, with 21 disposals and 2.2, while over-ager Corey Ellison also claimed two majors in the win. The new ladder leaders travel again next time out to face Western, while Brisbane’s brightest will prepare themselves for potential Allies selection.

GIPPSLAND POWER 4.1 | 8.2 | 9.7 | 12.9 (81)
EASTERN RANGES 5.1 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 11.5 (71)

GOALS:
Gippsland:
F. Phillips 3, S. Flanders 2, M. McGarrity 2, R. Baldi, W. Papley, C. Comben, T. Fitzpatrick, H. Neocleous
Eastern: B. Hickleton 3, B. White 3, B. McCormack 2, C. Tilyard, J. Rossiter, C. Black

BEST:
Gippsland:
B. Smith, F. Phillips, M. McGarrity, R. Baldi, Z. Reid, C. Comben
Eastern: L. Stapleton, Z. Pretty, B. McCormack, B. Hickleton, B. White, J. Duffy

By: Michael Alvaro

Gippsland Power ground out a 10-point win over Eastern Ranges to see them continue their gradual climb towards the top of the NAB League ladder, while Eastern remains lodged in the top four despite the narrow defeat. The Ranges got the better of a high-scoring opening term, but Gippsland reversed the six-point margin heading into the main break. With both sides performing well in front of goal and the margin cut back to within four points in the final quarter, a grandstand finish was on the horizon. After Eastern reclaimed the lead with two quick goals, Gippsland powered home with the last three to seal victory. Zak Pretty and Lachlan Stapleton again won a heap of the ball to lead all comers with 28 disposals each for Eastern, with opportunistic forwards Ben Hickleton and Bailey White bagging hauls of three goals. Power captain Brock Smith collected 27 disposals and nine rebound 50s to earn a Draft Central player of the week nomination, with Riley Baldi (27 disposals, seven marks) continuing his solid return to be named amongst the best. Sam Flanders (26 disposals, nine clearances, two goals) was instrumental in helping Gippsland get over the line, with Fraser Phillips (20 disposals, three goals) also finding the ball and big sticks. The Power host Calder next week with an eye on Eastern’s top four spot, as the Ranges set to face Sandringham in their biggest test yet.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.2 | 6.6 | 12.7 | 15.8 (98)
NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER ACADEMY 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:
Northern:
J. Lucente 3, L. Mcmahon 2, C. Barbera 2, J. Davies 2, J. Bowne 2, J. D’Intinosante 2, J. Mazzarella, M. Sindrivanis
NT: S. Foster 2, M. Rosas 2, M. Cumming 2, R. Fejo, J. Tipiloura

BEST:
Northern:
L. Potter, J. D’Intinosante, R. Sturgess, R. Gardner, J. Davies, E. Macpherson
NT: S. Foster, J. Jeffrey, B. Ah Mat, B. Jungfer, M. Rosas, B. Lake

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights claimed its second-straight victory after a winless first four games, comfortably accounting for the Northern Territory Thunder Academy by 38 points at Ikon Park. The loss sees NT bow out of the NAB League without a win, but having shown plenty of promise. Confident on the back of last week’s breakthrough performance, the Knights were simply too strong and put at least three goals on the board in each quarter. Josh D’Intinosante continues to do all the right things, collecting a game-high 25 disposals, 11 marks and two goals, but was beaten out to best-on honours by Lachie Potter (24 disposals, seven rebound 50s). Ryan Sturgess (21 disposals, eight marks) and the returning Ryan Gardner (22 disposals, four clearances) also chimed in well, with James Lucente (three goals) leading a brigade of six Northern multiple goal kickers. Top NT prospect Malcolm Rosas Jr was one of three Thunder players to boot two goals, with Shawn Foster‘s game enough to see him named best. Joel Jeffrey had another impressive outing in the back half with 21 disposals, seven marks and eight rebound 50s, while Ben Jungfer was his side’s leading ball winner with 22 touches and five clearances.