Author: Sophie Taylor

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League – Round 5

JUST one team remains at the top of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League ladder heading into Round 5, and one side that was knocked off their perch with a loss last round will look to execute the same result this round when Pint and Nightcliff go head-to-head. A renewed looking Palmerston Magpies will look to continue their rise up the ladder after a sloppy start to the season, while Tracy Village will have their work cut out for them. As per usual, all four matches will play on Saturday afternoon, while Waratah was handed the bye.

Southern Districts vs. Wanderers
Saturday, October 31

Reigning premiers Southern Districts will be chomping at the bit after a bye last round, with no wins on the board yet in season 2020/21 and plenty to play for. The Crocs are possibly in their best position to win this round after the shaky tart, with fresh legs and a similarly struggling opposition in the Wanderers. While the Wanderers had a similarly shaky opening round, they were fortunate to take on Tracy Village in Round 2 which built up some confidence but have struggled since then. While their form is technically in better shape than Districts’ at this point in time, the reigning premiers cannot be underestimated given their scoring ability when they get going and plenty of pride coming into this match. 

Wanderers’ Kaitlyn Armstrong may have been rendered goalless last round but has proven to be a huge threat up forward so far this season, but if she can be held off by the Crocs this week the Wanderers could be in trouble with just four other players managing to get on the board thus far. Djimila Totham and Shekeine De Satge have been named in the best on three occasions, while for the Crocs they will be looking to not only bring a little bit of consistency to their game but also some excitement from Ebony Miller and Tayla Thorn.

Pint vs. Nightcliff
Saturday, October 31

A huge top three battle is set between the undefeated Pint and Nightcliff, with the former holding mantle at the top of the ladder and the latter looking to avenge their frustrating Round 4 loss last week. Both teams have had an excellent start to the season and have rarely faltered out the front, with the Queen Ants ultimately coming into this match as favourites credit to their firepower and proven ability to win under pressure. While Nightcliff have plenty of talent of their own inside their forward 50, with 237 points for compared to Pint’s 252, they have conceded the most points of the teams within the top four so will need to ensure their back end matches the firepower up forward.

Nightcliff’s Emma-Lou Wolsey still leads the goal tally following Round 4 with 11 majors to her name, with Jacqueline Anyon-Smith zipping up the leaderboard with three goals last round, stepping up as Wolsey was kept quiet by the Saints. But while Wolsey has dominated up forward for the Tigers, Pint’s Jasmyn Hewett and Casey Morris have been sharing the footy around, combining well up forward and providing a couple of crucial targets on a list with 12 proven goalkickers just across the opening four rounds. Between the two teams, Pint centurion Cassie Henderson is the lone player to have been named in the best three times.

Tracy Village vs. Darwin Buffettes
Saturday, October 31

Collecting two wins under their belts from three matches, the Buffettes will look to capitalise here and look to break into the top three when they take on the lowly Tracy Village. Always a tough ask, The Darwin side has dropped just one game in a close encounter, and otherwise have been fairly consistent this season. They outlasted a tough Waratah outfit last round and have plenty of exciting names across the field, so will hope to put some real pressure not only on the scoreboard this round but also on the three teams sitting above them on the ladder. The Razorbacks are yet to score more than single digits per game throughout the season so far, and while they have only played three matches from four rounds, they have struggled to not only put goals on the board but also negate their opposition – something Darwin will hope to capitalise off with its flurry of consistent goalkickers.

With just two goals for the season so far, Meagan Wylie and Indianna Hughes will hope to provide a spark up forward for the Razorbacks, and with both named in the best two and three times respectively, they can be relied on to do just that with their continuous hunt on the ball. For the Buffettes, Zoe Anderson and Machaelia Roberts lead the goalkicking tally, with a flurry of other handy options able to put goals on the board where required making for a hugely unpredictable side up forward.

St Mary’s vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday, October 31

The final match of the round will see St Mary’s host Palmerston Magpies, with the Saints sitting up in second on the ladder on percentage and the Magpies sitting in sixth after finally getting their first win on the board last round. While the Saints certainly have the winning form going into this round, only defeated by ladder-leading Pint in Round 2 by a close margin, there is no doubt the Magpies’ excellent 87-point win over the Razorbacks last round will give the side plenty of confidence heading into this matchup.

One of the intriguing things about St Mary’s this season is their winning ability regardless of the high turnover of players each round. Watch out for Michaela Long who has booted six goal across her four outings while five other player have booted more than one goal this season. Megan Williamson has been named among the best in all four matches, while Claudia Whitfort has been named in the best three times and booted four majors. For the Magpies, Arthurina Moreen (four goals) and Natasha Medbury (three) were crucial in last round’s victory, both playing just their second games for the season and will look to overwhelm the Saints’ defence this week.

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League – Round 4

ROUND 4 of the 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League season will see all four matches played on Saturday once more, with reigning premiers Southern Districts having a week off with the bye this round. Nightcliff and Pint still sit atop the ladder on three wins straight, while one of the three winless teams will get points on the board in the opening match of the round. A battle between ladder-leading Nightcliff and third placed St Mary’s looms as the match of the round, though the battle to stay off the bottom of the ladder could prove much more significant with three teams sitting on just the one win – making a big move up the ladder a viable outcome at the end of the round.

Palmerston Magpies vs. Tracy Village
Saturday, October 24

One of the three winless sides will get points on the board this round when Palmerston and Tracy Village go head-to-head, and while the two cellar dwellers have only played two matches apiece thanks to respective bye rounds, both teams need to get something on the board this week to give them a chance of bouncing back from the rough start. Ultimately, neither team has been a real worry on the scoreboard, combining for just 32 points throughout the opening rounds. That being said, there have been some consistent performers across the field for both teams, with Magpies’ Iesha Ronberg, Khani White and Shanoah Leedie named in the best twice, as have Razorbacks’ Indianna Hughes – the side’s lone goalkicker – Meagan Wylie and Sarah Wilson. Expect a tight match between these two, although the Magpies’ success and winning mentality over past seasons will surely work in their favour against the Razorbacks.

Wanderers vs. Pint
Saturday, October 24

The Wanderers have a tough battle this week, coming up against a Pint outfit that still sits undefeated after three rounds and have shown no signs of stopping. While Wanderers do have the one win on the board from Round 2, the side’s main issue has been a lack of opportunity up forward, tending to crumble under tight defensive pressure. Pint, however, have found some excellent form with the help of a couple new names from down south, and weathered the storm well when required to showcase how their defensive outfit can be just as cohesive as their exciting frontline. With plenty of firepower out the front and six of their eight goalkickers on multiple majors, Jasmyn Hewett and Jessie Baumer (five goals from three games and four from two, respectively) are big targets while Cassie Henderson has been influential time and time again. For Wanderers, Djimila Totham has been critical around the ground, named in the best three times while Kaitlyn Armstrong has proved hard to stop when she gets going, booting 10 majors in three games to be equal-leading goalkicker.

St Mary’s vs. Nightcliff
Saturday, October 24

A top battle is expected when ladder-leading Nightcliff head to take on third placed St Mary’s, with the Saints’ Round 3 victory over the Buffettes injecting plenty of confidence into the side. Both teams are more than capable of maintaining pressure and composure even in a close contest while firepower is no issue for either side, with Nightcliff boasting the current equal-leading goalkicker in Emma-Lou Wolsey (10 goals) and Mickayla Ward (equal second with five goals, two bests). While St Mary’s does not feature in the top five for scoring, that is more due to the shared load out the front than a lack of opportunity with 10 individual goalkickers so far this season and three who have booted more than one. Ash Melnikas and Michaela Long (four goals apiece) are the ones to watch inside 50, with the former and Megan Williamson named in the best three times from three matches. 

Waratah vs. Darwin Buffettes
Saturday, October 24

These two sides come into an unprecedented matchup in at fourth and fifth, though Buffettes have only played two games – only winning one – thanks to the bye while Waratah won by default in the first round and were faced with a draw in Round 3. While Waratah has been competitive in patches, expect the firepower of the Buffettes to control proceedings with so many players capable of shouldering the load. Both Zoe Anderson and Machaelia Roberts boast not only goal sense but also plenty of composure with five and four goals to their name, while Waratah’s Jenna Singh has been consistent as ever, booting three goals alongside Caitlin Couch who has booted three from two outings. Lauren O’Shea and Lisa Roberts are excitement machines when they get going, and while both have put a goal on the board to start the season they will hope to explode out of the blocks.

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League – Round 3

ROUND 3 of the 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League season will see all four matches played on Saturday once more, with bottom of the ladder Tracy Village set to sit out with the bye this round. Nightcliff and Pint still remain undefeated at the top of the ladder after solid starts to the season, while this round will be headlined by a 2019/20 grand final rematch between Southern Districts and Waratah with both sides sitting towards the lower end of the ladder after two rounds.

St Mary’s vs. Darwin Buffettes
Saturday, October 17

Darwin Buffettes may have only played the one match for the season so far but well and truly exploded out of the blocks last week, compared to St Mary’s who showcased impressive form in Round 1 but could not consolidate on a huge third quarter fight back and eventually went down in a close affair with Pint. With so many quality players across the field and both teams seemingly in solid form heading into this match, expect the Saints to explode out of the blocks and the Buffs to use their flurry of forward targets to apply plenty of scoreboard pressure. Machaelia Roberts and Zoe Anderson fired on all cylinders last round for Darwin, booting four goals apiece, while both Michaela Long and Ash Melnikas have been handy goalkickers for the Saints. Melnikas and Megan Williamson have been named among the best in both matches for the Saints, while Molly Althouse impressed for the Buffs last round.

Southern Districts vs. Waratah
Saturday, October 17

Southern Districts need a win this week in the grand final rematch to restore some of their 2019/20 dignity after a rough start to the season, going down by 48 points in Round 1 and 49 points in Round 2. While the Crocs are by no means lacking options up forward, they have seemed to lack that forward push and volume up forward, and this could be the side’s best chance to do so against Waratah with the Warriors also coming in off the back of a loss in Round 2 and a default victory in Round 1 – although the default came when the side was ahead. Just two players have hit the scoreboard more than once for Waratah, with usual suspect Jenna Singh and newbie Caitlin Couch kicking two apiece over the first two matches, while Danica Pedersen and Eliza Straford have been solid across the ground. For Districts, Megan Crauford is a solid target. 

Pint vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday, October 17

Palmerston will head into this round renewed after the bye, but come in against an improved Pint outfit that sits in second on the ladder with two wins from two. Pint has proved it has a heap of firepower and while an excellent first round victory showcased the side’s winning ability, it was a low-scoring victory in Round 2 that makes this battle so interesting given the side’s ability to outlast under pressure. Look for Amy Chittick and Jasmyn Hewitt inside 50 when it comes to Pint with both players able to hit the scoreboard, while Jacinta Reid, Rebecca Pryer and Cassie Henderson have had solid starts to the season. For the Magpies, fans will hope that Cassie Ormsby can return to the fray after a first round high hit that saw the match finish at half time. Meanwhile, Tabitha May is always a force to be reckoned with.

Wanderers vs. Nightcliff
Saturday, October 17

The lone match between two Round 2 winners, Nightcliff will come into this battle with plenty of confidence given they sit atop the ladder with a significant percentage boost ahead of Pint in second. Meanwhile, Wanderers have one win on the board which came in Round 2 and the significant margin in that match will see the side certainly take it up to Nightcliff. Expect an intriguing matchup here, with the top four goalkickers in the competition likely to take the field in this battle. That being said, three of the four are from Nightcliff who are arguably the team to beat at the moment given their firepower up forward and multitude of options inside forward 50. Emma-Lou Wolsey (eight goals), Mickayla Ward (five goals) and Darcy Elliston (four) have proved to be constant and consistent goalkickers out the front, sitting first, third and fourth on the leading goalkicker tally at this stage, with second spot taken by Wanderers’ Kaitlyn Armstrong who is just one goal behind Wolsey on seven. Just two players across the two teams have been named in the best twice – showcasing the calibre of talent across the two teams – with Ward (Nightcliff) and Djimila Totham (Wanderers) those players.

2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 2

ROUND 2 of NTFL Women’s Premier League saw a huge super Saturday of matches, with all four games producing some solid performances and three matches finishing in blown out scorelines. Nightcliff and Pint continued their winning ways to sit 2-0 apiece at the top of the ladder, while Southern Districts and Tracy Village are the cellar dwellers and Palmerston Magpies had a bye. 

Nightcliff 8.6 (54) defeated Waratah 3.11 (29)

An excellent start bode well for Nightcliff, latching onto their early momentum and building throughout thanks to Waratah’s inaccuracy in front of goal. While Nightcliff failed to score in the final term, an excellent four-goal third quarter allowed the Tigers to run away with the solid 25-point victory, staving off every attempt from the Warriors. Nightcliff’s Emma-Lou Wolsey proved she was more than capable of holding down the front-end once more with three more goals added to her tally, and was assisted by Mickayla Ward and Jacqueline Anyon-Smith who booted two majors apiece. For Waratah, Jenna Singh, Lisa Roberts and Jordan Smyth found the big sticks, with the latter named in the best among Eliza Straford and Isabella Rapson-Staropoli.

Tracy Village 1.3 (9) defeated by Wanderers 10.11 (71)

It was a great return from the Wanderers after last week’s effort, this week putting 71 points on the board to run away with an excellent 62-point win against the Razorbacks who had a couple of issues getting a score on the board once more. That being said, Tracy Village did not let up throughout and were only beaten well in the first and final quarters where they allowed the Wanderers to boot four apiece. For Tracy Village, Indianna Hughes booted the lone goal in the final quarter and was named among the bests alongside Kiri Marschall, Kaitlin Battel and Sarah Wilson – who was back in the best this week after last round. For the Wanderers, Kaitlyn Armstrong was just about unstoppable out the front with five goals on the board, aided by Aleesha Hobbs and Tasheena Rankine who booted two apiece and Georgia Halkitis and Djimila Totham who were named in the best.

Pint 4.4 (28) defeated St Mary’s 2.5 (17)

It was a low-scoring thriller between Pint and St Mary’s, with the former gaining the early ascendancy and the latter fighting back well in the third to draw even on 15 points apiece at the final change. While both sides contested hard in the final term, it was Pint who were able to not only capitalise on their forward 50 entries but also pull away, eventually running away with the 11-point victory. Jasmyn Hewitt booted two for Pint, joined by Amy Chittick and Cara Evans while Kati Streader and Cassie Henderson were both named in the best. For the Saints, Danielle Ponter and Madison Harris booted a goal apiece – both in the second half – while Tesharna Maher and Ash Melnikas were named among the best in the low-scoring matchup.

Darwin Buffettes 11.5 (71) defeated Southern Districts 3.4 (22)

Darwin Buffettes started their season with a quality win over the reigning premiers, obliterating the Crocs by 49 points with a 30-point final quarter effort getting the job done. The Crocs were outplayed for much of the game, unable to compete with the feisty Buffettes outfit and having little opportunity to put scores on the board. Machaelia Roberts was a huge target as ever up forward for the Buffs and was a force to be reckoned with alongside Zoe Anderson, booting four goals apiece and providing multiple options. Roberts was named best on ground for her efforts whilst Molly Althouse was also solid for the victors, and three individuals put a goal on the board for the winners.

Picture: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League – Round 2

ROUND 2 of the 2020/21 NTFL Women’s competition is set to see some intriguing battles, with Darwin Buffettes entering the competition for the first time this season after a bye to open their campaign, while Palmerston Magpies will take this week off to regroup after a disappointing and disjointed start to the season. The top four teams will all go head-to-head with a battle between Nightcliff and Waratah, and Pint and St Mary’s to follow.  Meanwhile, Southern Districts will look to overturn a sloppy start when they take on the Buffs and Tracy Village will take on the Wanderers sitting in fifth.

Nightcliff vs. Waratah
Saturday, October 10

A huge top two clash opens the day’s proceedings, with both Waratah and Nightcliff looking to back up strong showings after last round. Whilst Nightcliff sits comfortable atop the ladder with a huge 108-point margin last week, Waratah will be feeling less than comfortable only having played a half against Palmerston before the match was called off. Waratah booted five goals in a strong second quarter showing, however Nightcliff matched that easily with five goals scored in the third quarter alone and four in the second and fourth quarters to run away with the huge victory. That being said, Nightcliff will come up against an arguably stronger side than their Round 1 opposition in Tracy Village, so will need to ensure their backline holds up well against Waratah’s expanse of viable goalkickers. Emma-Lou Wolsey (five goals) and Darcy Elliston (four goals) were the real firepower last round so expect the Tigers forward to be in the drivers seat once more, while Eliza Morrison and Mickayla Ward were both named in the best. For Waratah, Caitlin Couch was the lone multiple goalkicker last round in her first outing at the club.

Tracy Village vs. Wanderers
Saturday, October 10

The second match of the round will see two first round losers go head-to-head, with significantly different ladder positions all that realistically separates the two sides. While Wanderers suffered a 63-point loss against St Mary’s, the Razorbacks could not contend with Nightcliff and failed to really hit the scoreboard. The main difference between these two sides is the work rate in the second half last week, with Tracy Village conceding nine goals and failing to score after the final change. While the Wanderers conceded five in the third quarter to a runaway St Mary’s outfit, they booted two goals back and only allowed the Saints to kick one major in the final term with a much better defensive effort stemming the flow. Kaitlyn Armstrong was the lone goalkicker last round for the Wanderers, making her a huge target this round while the likes of Deanna Peckham and Sophie Armitstead were also named among the best. For the Razorbacks, there is really no other way to go than up, with solid performances from Meagan Wylie, Sarah Wilson and Zhoe Clark showcasing some of their skill, just needing to finetune it.

Pint vs. St Mary’s
Saturday, October 10

Another battle of Round 1 victors, this is one of the intriguing matches of the round given the changes made over the off-season. While Pint were mildly successful last season, bumped out of the semi finals after finishing sixth, St Mary’s finished in eighth but ultimately have a new-look team this season with a number of new recruits from down south. Both coming away with excellent wins last round – with Pint’s coming against the reigning premiers, Southern Districts – and conceding a combined 3.5 across the two matches, this match will be a real test given they clearly have the scoring ability but could have come away with even bigger victories if not for patches of inaccuracy. Amy Chittick and Jacqueline Downey booted two goals apiece for the Queen Ants, backed up by four individual goalkickers and Jacinta Reid and Katie Streader finding the ball with ease, while for the Saints it was Michaela Long (four goals) and Ash Melnikas (three) who heaped on the offensive pressure. Alongside the aforementioned duo, Claudia Whitfort booted two to be named in the best among some exciting talent.

Darwin Buffettes vs. Southern Districts
Saturday, October 10

Darwin Buffettes enter the round at the bottom of the ladder but with a completely clean slate given they had an extra week on the sidelines. The Crocs, on the other hand, frankly had a rough start to the season and will want to rectify that immediately – but will need to watch the Buffs who have a heap of firepower that will be itching to have an impact. Booting just one goal last round, with a heap of names who can have a huge influence on the scoreboard, the Crocs will need to be far cleaner around the ground and make the most of their forward 50 entries. Megan Craufurd was the lone goalkicker in the Crocs camp last round, named in the best among the likes of Essie Grose and Malory Nankervis. For the Buffettes, Machaelia Roberts was hugely impactful last season before heading down to Melbourne for the AFL Women’s season, nabbed by Collingwood in the 2019 draft, while young gun Dominique Carbone and Kylie Duggan were two of the most consistent players last season making for an intriguing battle. In what is a rematch of their 2019/20 semi final, expect both teams to come out with something to prove here.

2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 1

THE opening round of the 2020 NTFL Women’s Premier League season saw a number of blowouts, with Nightcliff, St Mary’s, Pint and Waratah getting huge wins on the board. Darwin Buffettes had the first bye of the season, watching on as some intriguing matches played out to open the season with a bang. A couple of new recruits, a milestone and a loss to the reigning premiers set the tone, and more in the first of our weekly women’s league wrap.

Wanderers 2.2 (14) defeated by St Mary’s 11.11 (77)

St Mary’s opened up their season and the 2020/21 season in style with an excellent 63-point victory over the Wanderers. While the Saints had a tougher time in the final quarter registering just seven points, it was a five-goal third term that pushed the side out to their excellent lead. St Kilda VFLW’s Claudia Whitfort was named among the best alongside Williamstown recruit Ash Melnikas, with the side seeming to gel with ease despite a heap of debutants, and continuing to push throughout. For the Wanderers, it just was not their day, although a couple of goals in the second half – both to Kaitlyn Armstrong – as well as the better defensive effort in the final quarter will give the side some solid moments to build off in the coming rounds, with Sophie Armitstead and Deanna Peckham named among the best.

Pint 8.9 (57) defeated Southern Districts 1.3 (9)

A victory in Cassie Henderson’s milestone 100th match was just what the doctor ordered for Pint in an excellent 48-point victory over the reigning premiers, Southern Districts to start the season. While a great first half saw a 27-point buffer at half-time, the Queen Ants did not let up knowing the Districts’ ability to score quickly, and conceded just the one goal in an excellent outing. Amy Chittick and Jacqueline Downey booted two goals apiece while Katie Streader had the ball on a string and Jacinta Reid was a force to be reckoned with off the half back, while for the Crocs Megan Crawfurd was the lone goalkicker, named among the best alongside Essie Grose and Malory Nankervis who were relentless in their hunt for the footy. 

Nightcliff 16.14 (110) defeated Tracy Village 0.2 (2)

It was a comprehensive and altogether dominant victory from Nightcliff, with the Tigers far too strong and with everything to play for after an improved 2019. Slipping straight up to top spot and not conceding a major throughout, Nightcliff had a complete day out with nine goals in the second half alone proving they had the firepower to get the job done. Emma-Lou Wolsey booted five goals to lead the tally, while Darcy Elliston (four goals), Mickayla Ward (three) and Rose Russell (two) all made their mark. With so much firepower up forward, Tracy Village just could not keep up with the Tigers despite the continued efforts of Meagan Wylie and Sarah Wilson who were named among the best. While the Tigers’ second half was not quite as accurate, booting eight behinds, Ward, Elliston and Eliza Morrison were excellent providing firepower across the field and proved that the Tigers could be a real team to watch this season. 

Waratah 6.6 (42) defeated Palmerston Magpies 0.1 (1)

A highly defensive effort was showcased in an intriguing battle that was cut short to finish the opening round, with the Magpies’ frontend failing to fire early but defensively showcasing some great attributes. Injury early in the second half saw the match finish on a difficult note, with Magpies’ Cassie Ormsby taken high and the match ended prematurely due to an ambulance call. Newcomer Caitlin Couch kicked two goals to start her season off well, and was a handy addition to the Waratah frontline slotting in nicely as the side kicked five unanswered goals, while Tabitha May, Khani White and Ormsby were named among the best for the Magpies. While the match ended abruptly, both teams have plenty to take out of this battle while Palmerston will be glad to have a bye in Round 2 to regroup and reset ahead of the coming weeks. 

Picture: Tymunna Clements – AFLNT Media

2020 AFL Women’s Draft: Full Order

A MASSIVE year both on and off the footy field has culminated in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft, with a huge amount of talent set to pull on the gear next season. Here are all 61 picks, with the predicted number one selection Ellie McKenzie getting the nod as expected.

Round 1

1 Richmond – Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

2 Western Bulldogs – Jess Fitzgerald (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

3 West Coast Eagles – Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)

4 Adelaide Crows – Teah Charlton (South Adelaide/Central Allies)

5 Melbourne – Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

6 St Kilda – Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

7 Gold Coast SUNS – Annise Bradfield (Southport/Queensland)

8 Brisbane Lions – Zimmorlei Farquharson (Yeronga South Brisbane/Queensland)

9 GWS GIANTS – Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/ACT)

10 Geelong – Darcy Moloney (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

11 Western Bulldogs – Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

12 Carlton – Mimi Hill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

13 North Melbourne – Bella Eddey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

14 Fremantle – Sarah Verrier (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

15 Melbourne – Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

16 Western Bulldogs – Isabelle Pritchard (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

 

Round 2

17 Melbourne – Maggie Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

18 West Coast Eagles – Shanae Davison (Swan Districts/WA)

19 Collingwood – Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

20 Geelong Cats – Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

21 Geelong Cats – Olivia Barber (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)

22 North Melbourne – Alice O’Loughlin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

23 Gold Coast SUNS – Sarah Perkins (Hawthorn VFLW)

24 St Kilda – Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

25 Collingwood – Amelia Velardo (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

26 Collingwood – Joanna Lin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

27 Geelong – Stephanie Williams (Geelong Falcons/Darwin Buffettes)

28 Carlton – Daisy Walker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

29 GWS GIANTS – Emily Pease (Belconnen Magpies/Eastern Allies) 

30 Fremantle – Mikayla Morrison (Central Districts/Western Australia)

 

Round 3

31 Collingwood – Abbi Moloney (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

32 West Coast Eagles – Julie-Anne Norrish (East Fremantle)

33 Collingwood – PASS

34 St Kilda – Renee Saulitis (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

35 Melbourne – Megan Fitzsimon (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)

36 Carlton – Winnie Laing (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

37 Brisbane Lions – Indy Tahau (South Adelaide/Central Allies)

38 Brisbane Lions – Ruby Svarc (Essendon VFLW)

39 Geelong – Carly Remmos (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

40 St Kilda – Jacqueline Vogt (Southern Saints VFLW)

41 Melbourne – Mietta Kendall (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

42 GWS GIANTS – Libby Graham 

43 Richmond – Tessa Lavey (WNBL)

 

Round 4

44 North Melbourne – Georgia Hammond (Darebin Falcons VFLW)

45 Adelaide – Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide)

46 Fremantle – Tiah Haynes (Subiaco)

47 Adelaide – Ashleigh Woodland (North Adelaide)

48 Melbourne – Isabella Simmons (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

49 North Melbourne – Brooke Brown (Launceston)

50 Gold Coast Suns – Maddison Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

51 St Kilda – PASS

 

Round 5

52 Richmond – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons/Richmond VFLW)

53 West Coast Eagles – Andrea Gilmore (Claremont)

54 Gold Coast Suns – Janet Baird (Palmerston Magpies)

55 North Melbourne – Amy Smith (Aberfeldie)

56 West Coast Eagles – PASS

57 Gold Coast Suns – Lucy Single (Bond University)

58 Gold Coast Suns – Elizabeth Keaney (Southern Saints VFLW)

59 West Coast Eagles – PASS

60 Gold Coast Suns – Daisy D’Arcy (Hermit Park/Queensland)

61 Gold Coast Suns – Wallis Randell (Bond University)

Determined MacLachlan overcomes obstacles

SUBIACO youngster Maggie MacLachlan has overcome her fair share of obstacles over her years on the footy field, continuously striving to come out better and present that on the field. But it was not always that way for the 171cm prospect, who was not a huge fan of the oblong-sport when she was younger until she realised she could be compensated for her effort.

“So I think I was six and everyone was playing footy, and I was like ‘I don’t want to play footy, that looks boring’, and then I was at Auskick watching the game and I was actually like, ‘no I’ll do it, I’ll play footy’ because you got a sausage sizzle after,” MacLachlan laughed. 

“I joined the junior football club and played Auskick there through midfield, and then when I was like 13 I went and joined West Perth Women’s Club, which was Joondalup Falcons back then, like 2016,” she said. “So I moved from the boys to the girls, which was different.”

But MacLachlan hit a speed bump in over 2018, forced to the sidelines with continued knee tracking issues which ended up requiring surgery.

“I had knee surgery on both of my knees, so, I took – not even a year, a couple months off in 2018… I had a tracking issue with both of my knees, they kept dislocating when I would do certain things, mostly in footy,” she explained. 

“So I got the left one done the September, so they moved my tibia over so it’s in line with my kneecap so it tracks properly so I can change direction, so I got that one done first and then six weeks later, when I could, I took the brace off the left one I got the right one done. So, yeah, that was quite fun.”

While returning to football was tough given MacLachlan essentially had to retrain herself to run, she was determined to make a full recovery and ensure the issue does not reoccur in the future.

“(It was) quite challenging because you obviously need to learn how to run properly and then not being nervous to change direction, or go in for contact in case someone bumps you. But, like, just rehabbing it properly so it won’t happen again.”

From there, MacLachlan moved to play with Subiaco women’s in 2019 given the lack of league opportunity at West Perth, and has not skipped a beat since with a finals berth this year.

“2019 I moved to Subiaco to play Rogers Cup with them so I played with them, didn’t play any state or anything. And then this year I still play at Subi, and was in the State Academy again. And then in the 18s teams. Now, I’m here.”

For MacLachlan, “here” is in the unprecedented position of selection for the Western Australia Football League (WAFL) Women’s All-Stars match and an invitation to the Western Australian pool of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine, both of which took place over the last week. MacLachlan says that selection for the Combine was a shock, admitting she expected to play another year especially given the lack of pathways and academy opportunities this year.

“I had no idea that this was my year because I was more thinking like being an over-ager. I thought, ‘oh this year I’ll just like go out there, play some good footy’. So when I got the email I thought oh no I’m in trouble,” MacLachlan said. “Because of COVID there wasn’t really any state academy or anything. And then when I read that I was like oh, that’s cool.”

“Knowing that my close friends like Mikayla and Bri (Hyde) were in it too I was like, ‘that’s sick’ because they’ve worked hard and I’ve tried to keep up with them, so getting chosen was a pretty cool experience.”

Booting two goals in the 2020 WAFLW competition grand final was the icing on the cake for MacLachlan, getting a little bit more out of the majors than the bragging rights at the end of the game. 

“So Kara Antonio works at SEDA as a teacher, and during the week she was chipping me all week about the game, and I was just giving it back saying I can kick goals, and I had only actually kicked two in the season,” MacLachlan explained. “So I was just like, joking around and I said ‘if we win I want a pair of footy boots, your footy boots’, and she laughed and said no, ‘but if you kick a goal,’ because she was commentating, ‘I’ll give you a pair of footy boots.’”

“I was like, alright, we shook on it, and then before the game I said to her, I was like ‘I’m gonna get my boots’ and she said ‘just just focus on the game buddy’, and then when I kicked that goal, I was like in my head, ‘I get a pair of footy boots!'”

While she does not get two pairs for the two goals, it was the youngster’s first official grand final stint, and even though Subiaco did not get the win she said the experience was invaluable. The bet with Antonio seemed to spark MacLachlan into action, determined to prove her mentor wrong and committing to doing everything in her power to make it happen.

“Yeah, it does (spur me on). like when boys chip you and all that about football because they think it’s a ‘boys sport’ and you just go out there and do these things,” MacLachlan said. “Now a lot of them in my class actually have watched the games, and actually, like supported, not just think it’s rubbish.”

It’s not just proving people wrong that inspires MacLachlan to go hard, but also a familiar name at both WAFLW and AFL Women’s level. 

“I’d say Hayley Miller, the captain of Subi. I’ve obviously played with her this year, and just seeing how she drives herself within football, she’s very committed to it, and playing at Freo,” MacLachlan said. “How she just handles herself on the field and off the field I think is something I want to be able to be really good at, like discipline-wise as well.”

MacLachlan is also inspired by her peers, once again citing Hyde twins Mikayla and Brianna as a few of her close friends and tough competitors.

“At state would be like Mikayla and Brianna Hyde and Bella Lewis, they really drive me to do better, until I feel like I can’t keep going, and running and stuff to push me to do my best.”

Running is something MacLachlan pointed out she wants to improve and continuously work on.

“Running, like being able to keep up with people who can run and run so I can keep going in games and running to the next contest,” she said. “I think running is one of the most important things so (I’ve been) working on that this year, and contact on my terms, so making the first contact and not waiting for them to hit me.”

As for where her strength lies, MacLachlan is confident in her kicking ability.

“(A strength is) my kicking. Both feet, I think, my right one’s really reliable and if I need to go on the left I can go on the left,” MacLachlan said. 

Whether or not the talented and driven youngster gets pickup up in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft this coming Tuesday, expect to see her continue to ply her trade on the footy field, having proven there is little that will keep her away from the action. No doubt, the experience of playing with and among some of the top Western Australian prospects has put a pep in the top-ager’s step, with plenty to look forward to for the determined youngster.

“It’s fun being around people who have the same interests as you, and want to do good and get better. Having that drive, the same drive as you.”

Optimistic Gardiner building in confidence

WHEN it comes to ball winners, Geelong Falcons’ Laura Gardiner is one to watch with an ability to not only accumulate the footy with ease but also use her game smarts to effectively dispose of the ball and do so consistently. The 165cm midfielder is one of a number of players coming through the statewide pathways off the back of junior basketball, before jumping at the chance to shift her focus to the footy field and not looking back.

“I actually started playing footy at 13 for Geelong West Giants locally, so I’ve been playing for about five years now,” Gardner said. “My mum kind of put me into footy because she knew it had more freedom, because it has a lot more freedom than basketball, as in I can use my endurance, and it has just suited me better like with my fitness level.”

“I ended up really loving it and then when it got quite serious later on I ended up stopping basketball for footy and that’s how I kind of started playing footy for the Geelong Falcons.”

The 17-year-old thrives under pressure, able to use her running ability and agility to consistently win ball and create crunching tackles, something that was showcased in the opening rounds of the 2020 NAB League season prior to the league’s cancellation.

With 38 disposals, 14 tackles, five inside 50s and a goal in the opening round of the 2020 season – earning a Draft Central Player of the Week nomination for her efforts – the youngster proved that she is more than capable of taking the lead when required, backing it up the following round with another 31 touches. But the highest of highs was met with the news that the season had been postponed following the Falcons’ third round bye. 

The worst was yet to come though, with the subsequent cancellation of the season in August and second wave in Victoria meaning the competition and any chance of an all-stars match were out of the question, leaving many asking what was next.

“Yeah so I was a bit disappointed, but so was everyone else so I guess there was nothing you could really do about it,” Gardiner said. “But I just felt like keeping a routine during the time when we were in lockdown really helped me… either going to the oval to practice kicking or running throughout the week, like keeping that Monday, Wednesday and Friday kind of routine.”

With this routine in mind, Gardiner outlined what she wanted to improve on and has steadily worked through a couple of key aspects of her game – things that could certainly make her an even bigger threat when she can return to the field.

“I’ve been really focusing on like my decision making, not just who I give the ball to, but in a way taking my time when I have that extra second or two, so always giving the first option but also looking to see if there is a better option or a time where I can actually run a little bit more than what I would usually.”

“And definitely my kicking. I’ve been practicing a lot throughout this year,” Gardiner added.

While the cancellation was a huge blow, especially for players who have worked up to their top-age year allowing others to flourish, Gardiner has taken the optimistic approach, suggesting it was a good chance to relieve some of the stress of Year 12, especially knowing at least the rest of the Victorian-based players were in the same boat.

“It’s definitely given me more time to focus on my schoolwork compared to other years. I was prepared to be really stressed out this year, and it has been stressful but it has given me a lot more time to actually prep for my schoolwork,” Gardiner said.

“In a way it does have positives as well as negatives. But yeah, I felt like this year has probably disadvantaged a lot of people but also it’s giving people opportunities with other things.”

When it comes to taking opportunities head on, Gardiner is never one to back down. As a middle-ager last year she was part of a core group participating at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships with Vic Country, settling into her role with the squad up in Queensland. The Falcons talent said she felt “really lucky” to play all three games, marking it as a real confidence booster.

“I loved it (Champs). I got to meet heaps of new girls from other teams as well, and even build stronger relationships with the girls I had played with in the Falcons. I felt like it really helped my confidence in a way, because it was out of my comfort zone.”

“I felt like a strength issue was definitely my confidence, I feel like I grew as a person through my confidence, and definitely my pressure around the ball.”

While confidence is certainly something Gardiner has worked on, she is also happy with how she has progressed since last season despite not being able to ply her trade on the field.

“I felt like I worked on that (confidence) a lot in the off-season, and my forward pressure and defensive pressure was good, and definitely teamwork and quick hands, I felt like they were some of my strengths.”

With little contact training allowed in Victoria – even regionally – over the past few months, Gardiner said she has spent plenty of time honing her kicking skills with her dad, crediting her parents for their continued support, on both a football and personal level.

“Definitely my parents, they’re really supportive and they really want me to do the best I can. So I’ve definitely looked up to both of them from a footy perspective and a personal perspective.”

The midfielder says that seeing players progress through the pathways to the AFLW has inspired her, with the young talent on the field rarely looking out of place.

“I look up to some of the young girls from Falcons and other clubs that have gone into the AFL and just fit in really well, like I watch them and you wouldn’t even know they’re a first year player, some of them are just really, really talented,” Gardiner said.

“It’s quite inspiring, I really want to make sure to be like them and put in the work to get to where they are because they’re kind of being that role model to show you that it’s possible and achievable.”

Competitive Moloney continues to strive for greatness

FOR Geelong Falcons ball winner Darcy Moloney, football is very much about determination and getting into the contest. A classy mover with great run and carry, Moloney is an impact player who has had a somewhat disjointed start to her Aussie rules dreams. 

“I’ve always been quite sporty, so I did Auskick when I was really little, but then after a couple years I stopped because in Colac there was really nothing for girls to do in regards to football,” Moloney explained. “Then I didn’t pick up football again until Year 10 when I played school football and found out that I loved it, and then played with ‘Imps’ (Imperials) in Colac, and then got picked up to play V/Line Cup that year and then was picked up at the Falcons.”

While the midfielder picked up the footy again just a few years ago, she tried her hand at any number of sports over the years with a significant break between her youth and junior days.

“I played a lot of different sports, I’ve danced since I was little, I played netball, played basketball for a bit, did cricket with school for a while. Yeah, pretty much anything I could get my hands onto, I did,” she said. 

But it was with school footy that she rediscovered her love for the oblong sport, and with that a love for the gritty intensity that comes with tackling and the innate roughness of Aussie rules. Even playing non-contact sports, Moloney suggested she was always willing to get herself into the contest with plenty of dare lending itself to the footy field. 

“It’s a bit of a funny answer but I just love the toughness, the rough side of football, I love being tackled as weird as that sounds,” Moloney said. “I just love tackling and getting tackled, the roughness, the bumps, the bruises and cuts you get, I just sort of love that. You don’t really get that in many other sports.”

“In netball I’ve always been just really hard at the ball and wasn’t afraid of contesting and getting bumped on or, like out of the contest going for the ball.”

A highly competitive player, Moloney says that her drive to compete hard and contest every ball is something that she has always had.

“I’ve always been like that (competitive), since I was very very very little. I think that’s what continues to make me the player I am,” she said. “Just the attack on the ball, I feel like it’s something that you’re born with it’s not something that you get, like, that you can improve on. So I think that drive and that, you know, competitiveness, is probably my biggest strength.”

A swift transition through the pathways saw the now top-ager not only get selected for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships in 2019, but play all three games for Vic Country throughout the series.

“It was surreal. Like honestly I didn’t really actually know much about it until I actually found out about it,” Moloney said. “And to be honest, I didn’t think, you know, I was good enough to be selected in that side let alone actually get to play all the games and go to Queensland, and it was just a great experience and a shame that we couldn’t do it again this year.”

Like much of the NAB League top-age talent expecting to ply their trade this season, Moloney was shocked and upset when she was told that the 2020 season would not continue, getting two matches under her belt for the Falcons – averaging 26.5 touches and laying 3.5 tackles as she did so.

“I was obviously very shocked when it happened and upset when I first found out, but I realised that I just have to sort of – not get over it, but deal with it and then move on,” she said.

It was this optimistic mindset that kept her going through the confusion and frustration of a missed opportunity on-field, making the most of her chance to improve individually and utilising her aforementioned competitiveness to one-up her own early form.

“It was a great opportunity for me to work on the things that I think I need to work on, review those games and look at what I need to improve on and just work on that, work on my left foot, contest work, that sort of thing,” Moloney explained. 

“It’s a great opportunity for me to improve in the end so that’s just how I looked at it.”

Moloney suggests her isolation effort would see her “miles ahead” of where she was at the beginning of the year, with a wealth of improvements adding to her potential and ability to showcase her strong work ethic. 

“I feel like if we played a game now I would be miles ahead of where I was at the start of the year, I think I’ve improved a lot even in this short period from the two games we got at the start of the season to now. So I think it’ll really help if I was to get drafted into an AFL club.”

With her AFL Women’s dream close to becoming a reality, Moloney says that seeing the depth of talent across the pathways able to now step straight into the top tier is a real confidence boost, playing with and against the best across the country and all striving for that common goal.

“Watching them step into the AFL and having an impact straightaway, it just shows how much talent is in these pathways really and there’s just a bit of a confidence boost that we could potentially do the same thing if we get into a club.”

While her own competitiveness and drive have certainly played a role in getting to where she is today, Moloney credits her parents for their unwavering support and willingness to drive around the state to pursue her AFL Women’s dream.

“Obviously my parents have played the biggest factor, they’ve always been supportive of whatever I wanted to do regardless of if it was playing football or whatever so they probably played the biggest role and are my biggest inspiration because all the driving they’ve had to do for me,” Moloney said.

“Going from Colac to Geelong three times a week, to Melbourne for games and training and all those things, so yeah that would be the biggest inspiration for me just how much they’ve supported me throughout this whole thing.”