Author: Sophie Taylor

NTFL Women’s Premier League preview: Round 16 – Fourth and fifth face off for finals contention

ROUND 16 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League sees the real race for finals start as the top sides start to capitalise on every opportunity to bring some consistency and momentum into the finals series in the end of February. Southern Districts get the break this week after a solid win last week, making for an interesting final few matches of the season.

Waratah v. Pint
Round 16 – 1/2/20
12:00pm
Gardens Oval

With little chance now of making finals, Pint will now look to really limit how much damage Waratah can do to reduce their percentage. Waratah on the other hand will want to replicate their Round 7 form against the Queen Ants and go one better, having booted 16 behinds in that match. The ‘Tahs really lifted their accuracy last round so will hope to bring that same intensity to continue their fantastic season form. Look for Lisa Roberts and Rebecca Pryer to play their roles for Waratah while multiple players are looking to clinch the side’s leading goalkicker title with the likes of Lauren O’Shea and Jenna Singh currently leading the charge on 20 and 18 respectively. For Pint, look to Casey Morris and Jessie Baumer who have remained consistent and solid options in front of goal this season.

Wanderers v. Darwin Buffettes
Round 16 – 1/2/20
5:00pm
TIO Stadium

With both the Buffettes and Wanderers coming off losses in Round 15, the Wanderers came out on top last time they met. Based on season form the Buffettes will still be favourites given their second place on the ladder, but watch out for the Eagles who will want to bounce back after an average week on the track against Waratah and have put some impressive wins on the board this season. For the Wanderers, Morgan Johnston and Shekeine De Satge have proved consistent this season with De Satge providing a strong target inside 50 with 13 goals on the board. Tishara Davern is also up there with six goals from 13 games and six best on ground nominations. For the Buffs, a consistent team effort have been displayed this season with a plethora of players putting their best foot forward every week. Youngsters, Dominique Carbone and Tayla Hart-Aluni have rarely put a foot wrong while Kylie Duggan has dominated regularly.

Palmerston Magpies v. Nightcliff
Round 16 – 1/2/20
7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

This is potentially the match of the round with another close match expected between the Magpies and Tigers, as the Magpies come off a bye last round. The Magpies only won by five points last time they met, purely because Nightcliff could not kick straight on the day with 10 behinds and only three goals on the board. Palmerston certainly have the consistency to get the job done but the Tigers have been a real competitor this season, making for an interesting battle especially given Nightcliff are only one win behind at this late stage in the season. Arthurina Moreen will hope to get back on the scoreboard this week with 30 majors to her name for the season, well and truly making a name for herself in the forward line while Billie Byers will hope to continue her strong form off the back of the bye last week, with 10 best on ground nominations from 13 matches. Nightcliff’s Eliza Morrison comes in with a similar record with 10 best on ground nominations from 12 games, proving she is a key cog in the Tigers side alongside Emma-Lou Wolsey who has proved consistency is key playing all 15 matches this season, while the side will hope to see Victorian Mikayla Ward back in the fray this round after missing last week’s match.

St Mary’s v. Tracy Village
Round 16 – 1/2/20
7:00pm
TIO Oval 2

Tracy Village really need a win this week and while it is unlikely given their record this season, this round is really their opportunity to do so when they take on St Mary’s. While the  Saints are only one above the Razorbacks on the ladder, they are three wins ahead and have already beaten the Razorbacks this season, making them the real favourite coming into this one. For the Saints, look for the regular names in the mix such as Chinette Suapero, Madison Ludwig and Nikita Long who have proved their consistency for the side, while youngster Aaliyah Bailey will hope to put in another strong performance. For the Razorbacks, Lisa-Maree Toner and Zhoe Clarke have proven handy inclusions, taking the side 14 times from 15 matches and providing solid options across the field.

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: West Coast

WITH a plethora of talent heading up the West Coast Eagles in their inaugural season, the real question will be whether they can find the consistency they need to really contend in the competition having not rally played together all that much prior to the season. With players coming from across Australia it is not a question of ability but really of whether they can rally as a team in their first season together.

KEY PLAYER: Dana Hooker (midfielder)

A real ball magnet, Hooker made the jump from Fremantle to West Coast over the trade period, making for a key player on the Eagles’ list as one of the upper echelon in the AFL Women’s. With speed, class and endurance to boot, Hooker can have an impact wherever required and rarely puts a foot wrong on the field.

RISING STAR: Mikayla Bowen (midfielder)

The tough midfielder has a wealth of talent and will look to really make her mark on the competition in her inaugural season. With clean skills, speed and an ability to find the footy, Bowen will want to break into the side and stand up the same way she did in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under 18 championships – where she was named MVP for Western Australia.

WATCH FOR: Mckenzie Dowrick (utility)

The Eagles were quick to nab Dowrick from Brisbane over the trade period, returning the classy left footer to her home state. With clean hands and strength to boot, Dowrick will apply some good pressure in the air while her height, youth and reliability make her a handy inclusion for the side.

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CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Melbourne, St Kilda, Western Bulldogs.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – @ Collingwood
Round 2 – vs. Fremantle
Round 3 – @ GWS GIANTS
Round 4 – vs. Western Bulldogs
Round 5 – @ Melbourne
Round 6 – vs. Gold Coast Suns
Round 7 – @ Carlton
Round 8 – vs. St Kilda

West Coast have an interesting fixture for their inaugural season, taking on their state rivals Fremantle in Round 2, with the Dockers coming off an impressive 2019. The Eagles are fortunate to miss out on taking on reigning premiers, Adelaide, but do come up against Melbourne, a side with a very settled list and Carlton, a side with impressive young talent, making for an unpredictable season. They will host fellow expansion sides in Round 6 (Gold Coast) and Round 8 (St Kilda), so will want to finish the season on a high against other new-look sides.

PREDICTION:  6th/7th in Conference B

While West Coast has some real talent among their ranks, they are unlikely to break through the pack in their inaugural year having not had a wealth of time together. While the teams in their conference are not necessarily the best in the business, their opposition has had plenty of time to iron out their flaws, while the Eagles have had to go from the ground up this season and are likely to be outclassed by cleaner, more settled teams.

NTFL Women’s Premier League wrap: Round 15 – Nightcliff clinch victory as Waratah and Southern Districts continue dominance

WITH two blowout scores and an unexpected victory in the books, Round 15 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s Premier League well and truly shook up the competition heading into the final stretch, with only three rounds remaining. Only two sides switched on the ladder to finish the round, with the Magpies’ bye putting them into fourth below Southern Districts, the Buffettes will be rueing a missed opportunity while Wanderers will well and truly be wondering what went wrong.

TRACY VILLAGE 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 (1)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 5.4 | 12.6 | 17.9 | 24.14 (158)

GOALS

Tracy Village: N/A
Southern Districts: E. Miller 10, K. Waterbury 3, K. Patterson 3, C. Deegan 2, A. Lewis 2, K. Toy, M. Clarke, H. Engelhardt, M. Moussa

BEST

Tracy Village: N/A
Southern Districts: D. Lee-Feeney, E. Miller

Tracy Village did good on their promise to equal their Round 5 score but unfortunately Districts blew them out of the water with a massive 157-point margin to jump ahead on the ladder. It was the biggest win of the season so far and the Districts will look to bring this intensity to their final few matches of the season to boost their chances in the finals. A five goal first quarter set up the impressive match, with the Crocs relentlessly applying pressure to the scoreboard and denying the Razorbacks even a sniff of opportunity. Booting seven goals in both the second and fourth quarters, the Crocs proved once again that they have plenty of options inside 50 with accuracy to boot. But it was Ebony Miller that starred collecting 10 majors the second time this season showing just how deadly she can be inside 50. She was well aided by Keeley Waterbury and Kelsey Patterson with three goals apiece, alongside Charles Deegan and April Lewis who managed two. Four more players put goals on the board while D’Koda Lee-Feeney earned her second best on ground nomination for the season.

PINT 1.5 | 3.9 | 6.11 | 8.11 (59)
ST MARY’S 0.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 | 4.1 (25)

GOALS

Pint: C. Morris 3, J. Baumer 2, J. Downey, R. Fecht , K. Smits
St Mary’s: N/A

BEST

Pint: N/A
St Mary’s: N/A

Pint went one better this time around, staying true to their form and well and truly reigning supreme over St Mary’s. The Saints may have had a Round 5 victory in the books but Pint had the consistency to get the job done, though could have done with a bit more accuracy something they will have to address in the coming weeks if they hope to leap into finals contention. While both sides had a slow start to the match, it was only Pint’s inaccuracy that saw St Mary’s stay afloat early with five behinds giving the Saints the ability to make their way back into the match. But the Queen Ants were not going to let this one go that easy, applying more scoreboard pressure in the second to well and truly dominate the contest, and though the Saints booted two goals in the quarter it was not enough to close the gap. A further five goals to two in the second half cemented Pint’s seventh win for the season, giving the side a real chance to fight for a place in the finals. Pint’s Casey Morris (three goals) and Jessie Baumer (two) were influential inside 50, unable to be stopped and monopolising the footy to well and truly control the match from the forward half. 

NIGHTCLIFF 3.0 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 4.6 (30)
DARWIN BUFFETTES 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.2 | 4.3 (27)

GOALS

Nightcliff: J. Anyon-Smith 2, R. Russell, S. Millar
Darwin Buffettes: C. Browne 2, D. Ah Wang 2

BEST

Nightcliff: E. Morrison, L. de Hommel, S. Miskin-Ripia
Darwin Buffettes: T. Hart-Aluni, D. Carbone, T. Dhu, K. Duggan, B. Stokes

Nightcliff proved they have what it takes to beat the upper echelon of the competition with a confident win over the Buffettes. It was a close match throughout with neither side really able to find much purchase, though Nightcliff did have the upper hand from the beginning and had the match under control at the first and second changes despite only being a goal ahead. The Buffs fought back in the third however, catching up and denying the Tigers easy access to the goals to hold them in the tracks and come into the final quarter with the momentum. The Tigers were too good defensively however, and while neither team put a goal on the board in the final term Nightcliff were able to hold on for the three-point victory. While the Tigers of old may have collapsed at the Buffs’ onslaught, they held up well this time around under pressure and have beaten three of the top four this season with a chance to make it a clean sweep against Palmerston next round. Darwin missed their usual onslaught of forward-50 options with only Crystal Browne and Delsey Ah-Wang putting goals on the board, with two apiece. Youngsters Tayla Hart-Aluni and Dominique Carbone continued their impressive streak of matches with another bests nomination apiece. Fellow 2019 Under-18 player Shantel Miskin-Ripia was similarly as influential for Nightcliff, while Eliza Morrison put up another fantastic effort and Jacqueline Anyon-Smith booted two goals. 

WARATAH 7.3 | 12.5 | 14.7 | 17.8 (110)
WANDERERS 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 (12)

GOALS

Waratah: J. Singh 5, L. O’Shea 4, L. Roberts 3, B. Martin 2, G. Cusack, M. Campbell, M. Cooper
Wanderers: N/A

BEST

Waratah: L. O’Shea, B. Martin, L. Roberts, J. Singh, M. Cooper
Wanderers: N/A

Waratah have well and truly made themselves the team to beat after a stellar victory over a real smokey in the Wanderers, with the Eagles having put themselves on the map this season but unlucky to come up against the reigning premiers at such a pivotal stage of the competition. Waratah seem to have cleaned up their act in the accuracy department, booting 17 goals to their eight behinds, something they have noticeably improved on throughout the season, while their defensive pressure was far too good for the Wanderers who have shown glimpses of brilliance this season. With a frankly awful start to the match, the Wanderers were chasing throughout, conceding seven goals alone in the first before cleaning up their defensive efforts but ultimately to no avail. Waratah were impressive with seven goalkickers, with Jenna Singh (five goals) and Lisa Roberts (three goals) among the key players, while Lauren O’Shea earned her fourth best on ground nomination, booting four goals and playing a vital role across the field.

NTFL Women’s Premier League Preview: Round 15 – Magpies get first bye of season in race to finals

ROUND 15 of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s will see plenty of exciting matches, with this round ultimately heating up the race to finals with only four matches left in the season. With a relatively even ladder this season, every team from fifth to eighth on the ladder could still realistically make finals with wins to finish the season. Though still an outside chance, with fifth and sixth only two wins ahead of seventh and three ahead of eighth, the likes of Nightcliff and Wanderers will need to take every opportunity they have to ensure they don’t get forced out of finals contention. 

Big River Hawks have unfortunately withdrawn from the competition after player unavailability lead to three successive forfeits, breaching AFLNT regulations. All teams scheduled to take on the Hawks over the next four rounds will receive byes, with Palmerston Magpies sitting out this week.

Tracy Village v. Southern Districts
Round 15 – 25/1/20
12:00pm
Tracy Village

Tracy Village will have a tough one this week when they open the round, taking on Southern Districts at home to hopefully get their third win on the board for the season. Sitting in third, the Crocs will want to bring back some of their early-season consistency to breach the top two, only sitting one win behind the Buffettes and realistically with a good chance to rack up some more wins to end the season on a high. Last time these sides met the Crocs only conceded one behind for the match, meaning that they will look to continue that form but will also have a hungry Razorbacks outfit to contend with up forward to go one better than their Round 5 efforts. Tahlia Holtze and April Lewis will look to continue their solid form for the season, collecting six and four bests nominations respectively, while Ebony Miller is sure to make an impact with 37 goals on her tally for the season so far. Lisa-Maree Toner has been consistent for the Razorbacks despite the side’s slow season, while Gabrielle Young will hope for another solid match on the board.

Pint v. St Mary’s
Round 15 – 25/1/20
2:00pm
MCG

In the second match of the round the seventh-ranked Queen Ants will take on the eighth-placed Saints in what is the closest match of the round, with both sides needing wins over the coming weeks to catch a glimpse of finals contention. Based on their percentage Pint should get the chocolates this time around despite St Mary’s getting the win last time they met, with a better win rate and ability to put points on the board. But the Saints cannot be discounted, with some solid form this season with an ability to score quickly, making for a massive contest. For the Saints, Nikita Long will hope to continue her consistency on the field with 13 matches under her belt for the season while Sharna Edwards will want to put her best foot forward under pressure from Pint. For the Queen Ants, Jasmyn Hewett, Casey Morris and Jessie Baumer have been solid options inside 50 while the likes of Emma Greaves and Erin Hetherington have impressed throughout the season, steadying the side throughout.

Nightcliff v. Darwin Buffettes
Round 15 – 25/1/20
2:00pm
TIO Stadium

Nightcliff will need to be at their best this round when they take on the Buffettes who have returned to their early season form with impressive wins over the past two weeks. Last time they met the Buffs reigned supreme in a 31-point victory, with the side well and truly on a roll with victory making for an interesting matchup this time around given the Tigers are currently on a three game winning streak, including one against the reigning premiers and ladder-leaders, Waratah. Only sitting two wins behind Darwin and with plenty of talent at their disposal, Nightcliff will want to prove they have what it takes to go far this season with a win against the second-ranked Buffettes. Nightcliff high-flyers, Eliza Morrison and Emma-Lou Wolsey will want to continue their combined stellar form, with the pair both picking up nine best on ground nominations this season so far. The likes of Mickayla Ward and Jacqueline Anyon-Smith have some real firepower between them so will hope to put some real pressure on the scoreboard, while plenty of other forwards are also able to have an impact. The Tigers will have a hard time stopping the likes of Kylie Duggan and Tayla Hart-Aluni who are as consistent as they come, especially in a side of dominant performers. 

Waratah v. Wanderers
Round 15 – 26/1/20
2:00pm
Gardens Oval

With a week off last round, Waratah will be out for blood against sixth-ranked Wanderers who are sitting in a similar position to Nightcliff, needing wins over the next few rounds to ensure a finals berth. Last time these sides met the ‘Tahs came out on top with relative ease in a somewhat inaccurate clash, booting 12.10 (82) to Wanderers’ 5.7 (37). Waratah will want to continue their impressive form heading into the last few rounds of the season to remain at the head of the ladder and with a plethora of forward options the Wanderers will have their work cut out for them defensively to try and stem the flow long enough to get a ninth win on the board. Wanderers’ Shekeine De Satge and Morgan Johnston have been stellar throughout the season, both earning nine best on ground nominations for their efforts. De Satge is the leading goalkicker with 13 for the season so far, so will hope to add to her tally this week against a tough opponent. Waratah’s Lauren O’Shea, Jenna Singh and Lisa Roberts will look to add to their respective goal tallies for the season, having combined for 41 goals and 14 best on ground nominations this season.

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: Gold Coast SUNS

ONE of four expansion teams joining the AFL Women’s competition in 2020, the Gold Coast Suns have plenty to offer with lots of young talent coming through the ranks alongside some experienced names. We take a look at how they will shape up in the elite competition.

KEY PLAYER:

Jamie Stanton (midfielder)

A talented midfielder, Stanton is sure to slot in well with the new side, especially coming in as one of the more experienced players and coming into her third club in four seasons. The ex-Matilda soccer player has clean skills with plenty to offer the Suns, winning plenty of ball and making the most of opportunities down the middle of the field. With a high work rate and experience at the top level, Stanton will be a key contribution to the Suns’ young side.

RISING STAR:

Ellie Hampson (defender)

A star in the making, Hampson all but had a target put on her back in 2019 as a pre-listed Suns player – proving Gold Coast has the faith she will back up her junior form at AFL Women’s level. Earning a state MVP award in the 2019 Under-18 AFL Women’s National Championships put the icing on the cake, with her defensive nous and ability to find the ball. Her strength to break free of the tackle is impressive while her booming kick helps to clear the ball out of congestion.

WATCH FOR:

Kitara Whap-Farrar (defender)

Another pre-listed youngster, Whap-Farrar has the game smarts and speed well ahead of her years, making her a tough player to come up against. The backliner is a hard worker, with clean hands and an ability to evade tacklers thanks to her keen eye on the footy. Her marking prowess and aerial ability are real features of her game, creating a force to be reckoned with wherever she is played.

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CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Adelaide, Brisbane, GWS GIANTS, Geelong, North Melbourne, Richmond.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – @ GWS GIANTS
Round 2 – vs. Richmond
Round 3 – vs. Brisbane
Round 4 – @ North Melbourne
Round 5 – vs. Geelong
Round 6 – @ West Coast
Round 7 – vs. Adelaide
Round 8 – @ Melbourne

The big test for Gold Coast in their inaugural season is how they shape up against their state rivals in Brisbane, though the match prior against fellow expansion side in Richmond will answer a real question of which side has the better start to the competition. With matches against dominant and consistent outfits in Adelaide and Melbourne respectively in the final two rounds of the season, the Suns will need to sprint out of the blocks if they have any chance of making finals. Their middle road of the season seems to be their best bet to compete for consecutive wins, taking on Geelong and West Coast.

PREDICTION: 6th/7th in Conference A

Ultimately in the tougher conference of the two, Gold Coast will have a tough slog ahead of them to get over the likes of Adelaide, North Melbourne and Richmond who are all shaping up to be tough competitors. That being said, they have some really good young talent coming up through the ranks, which could make them a smokey coming up against other young teams making for an exciting first season.

NTFL Women’s Premier League wrap: Round 14 – Buffettes back at best with 76-point win

ROUND 14  of the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s saw some interesting results, with not much turnover of ladder positions despite some key wins. Waratah had a week off this week thanks to a third consecutive forfeit from Big River Hawks.

PINT 2.2 | 4.3 | 6.4 | 8.5 (53)
WANDERERS 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS

Pint: J. Downey 2, C. Evans 2, C. Morris, E. Greaves, K. Smits, K. Streader.
Wanderers: S. De Satge 2, L. Lloyd, S. Armitstead, T. Davern.

BEST

Pint: N/A
Wanderers: S. Armitstead, G. Halkitis, T. Davern, M. Johnston, S. De Satge

Pint were clinical against the Wanderers this round, booting a goal for every one the Wanderers did and creating a real chase of a game to register their sixth win of the season. While they still sit below the Eagles on less wins, this is a big one for the Queen Ants’ confidence after a close loss to Nightcliff last round. It was a relatively even start before Pint managed to pull away in the second, making the most of their opportunities with ball in hand and finding some good space inside 50. The second quarter was clinical, and while Pint conceded three goals from the Eagles while booting four in the second half, it was really that second quarter effort that pushed them over the line. Wanderers’ Shekeine De Satge was impactful as ever with two goals on the board but it was the form of Pint’s Jacqueline Downey and Cara Evans who both kicked two that provided a nice buffer for the home side. Wanderers named Sophie Armitstead in the bests this week, booting a major and using her game smarts to find the ball, though was caught off guard at times by a lively Pint outfit. Wanderers are sure to be ruing this missed opportunity to leap into the top five, still even with Nightcliff on wins and losses making for a very interesting run home. 

DARWIN BUFFETTES 4.1 | 6.4 | 8.4 | 13.5 (83)
ST MARY’S 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS

Darwin Buffettes: T. Hart-Aluni 4, J. Dodsworth 4, D. Ah Wang 3, M. Taylor, D. Carbone.
St Mary’s: N/A.

BEST

Darwin Buffettes: J. Dodsworth, T. Hart-Aluni, J. Iacono, K. Duggan, D. Carbone
St Mary’s: N/A

The Buffs never looked like losing this round, back to their old tricks with a phenomenal 76-point victory over St Mary’s. The Saints seemed shellshocked, unable to cope with the wealth of talent across the field on top of the forward pressure the Buffettes so easily apply. Three Buffettes took home a bag of goals, with Tayla Hart-Aluni and Johanna Dodsworth leading the charge on four, while Delsey Ah Wang booted three. Dodsworth and Hart-Aluni were listed in the best once more and for good reason, while familiar names in Kylie Duggan and Dominique Carbone also graced the list thanks to an overall dominant team effort. For the Saints, Nikita Long was consistent as ever while Sharna Edwards did her best despite the onslaught.

PALMERSTON MAGPIES 2.1 | 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
SOUTHERN DISTRICTS 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 6.7 (43)

GOALS

Palmerston Magpies: A. Moreen 3, J. Brock, F. Puruntatameri.
Southern Districts: E. Miller 2, K. Patterson, A. Lewis, M. Breed, M. Moussa.

BEST

Palmerston Magpies: Y. Roe, N. Medbury, A. Moreen, B. Byers, T. May, J. Brock
Southern Districts: T. Holtze, B. Hayne, A. Lewis, H. Engelhardt, C. Deegan

Palmerston are another side that will be frustrated with missed opportunities this week after going down to Southern Districts in a relatively tight occasion. While it wasn’t the highest scoring game of the round, it was a tight defensive effort from both sides that really highlighted the toughness of this match-up. While Districts got away with the lead at every change, Magpies were never far behind – mostly just one goal behind, if that, with an uncharacteristically accurate approach to the big sticks. However Districts proved that sometimes it’s a case of quantity over quality, with seven behinds for the match giving them the buffer they needed to deny the Magpies a chance of pulling the margin back. Arthurina Moreen was clinical as ever inside 50 with three goals and her name in the Palmerston bests, and while fellow key forward Ebony Miller was not quite as prolific as usual with only two to her name, it was a real shared effort inside 50 from the Districts that got them over the line, with Tahlia Holtze and Brooke Hayne unstoppable across the field. Magpies’ Yasmen Roe and Natasha Medbury put in the hard yards but to no avail, with a full field effort from the Crocs just too good this time around.

NIGHTCLIFF 4.3 | 7.5 | 8.6 | 8.8 (56)
TRACY VILLAGE 0.1 | 1.3 | 3.4 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Nightcliff: M. Ward 3, E. Morrison 2, E. Wolsey 2, J. Anyon-Smith.
Tracy Village: N/A.

BEST

Nightcliff: E. Morrison, E. Wolsey, L. de Hommel
Tracy Village: N/A

Nightcliff will be chuffed with this solid win over Tracy Village, with an impressive four goal first quarter ultimately telling the tale of this match-up. While Tracy Village defied the odds and only conceded one goal from the Tigers in the second half, it was their slow start that really ruined any chance of coming back into the match that lost them this battle. Mikayla Ward was stellar for Nightcliff with three more goals added to her season tally, while fellow regular performers in Eliza Morrison and Emma-Lou Wolsey booted two of their own on their way to a joint ninth time listed in the bests. The likes of Lisa-Maree Toner and Zhoe Clarke put in solid performances respectively in the tough battle, maintaining their consistency and creating opportunities for the Razorbacks to head to goal.

2020 NAB League fixtures released

WITH a massively successful 2019 NAB League season in the books, it is almost time for the Under-18s development league to start back once more. A combined 60 players were drafted across the boys and girls leagues in 2019, making this season an interesting one with plenty of young talent hoping to break into contention. The NAB League Girls season will run for 10 weeks with two weeks of finals action, while the NAB League Boys will run for 19 weeks, following by a Wildcard Round and then four-week finals series as per the same as last year.

“In just one season the NAB League has had a major impact on the AFL/AFLW national drafts with more than 50 per cent of the total draftees coming from the NAB League,” AFL Head of Talent Pathways and State League Competitions, Tristan Salter. said “Our aim is to continue to build a professional environment across both the girls and boys’ competitions that exposes the players to the best coaching, facilities, training and development.”

The 2020 season of NAB League boys will begin on Saturday, March 21, and will see academy sides in Gold Coast Suns, Brisbane Lions, Sydney Swans, GWS Giants and Northern Territory return once more. Key dates for the season are the annual ‘Country Round’, scheduled for early April, with a Queens Birthday clash between Sandringham Dragons and Oakley Chargers on Friday July 5. The season will end with triple headers at Avalon Airport Oval and Mars Stadium Ballarat respectively, with Wildcard round the following weekend of August 22.

Among big match-ups for both leagues are respective 2019 Grand final rematches, which sees Eastern Ranges take on premiers, Oakleigh Chargers in Round 3 (April 5) while in the girls competition, premiers Northern Knights host a massive Round 1 clash against Calder Cannons to start the season with a bang (February 29). 

Under-18 girls matches will open for three AFL Women’s fixtures this season, and Tasmania Devils will be joining the NAB League Girls full time in 2020 after a successful introduction to the Boys’ competition in 2019. Northern Territory follows Tasmania’s pathway from 2019, playing three matches in the league, while both Queensland pathways in Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns will play invitationals in early May.

Northern Territory will host both girls and boys teams in Darwin in a double header in April, with selected girls fixtures streamed and all boys fixtures live-streamed.

Fixtures will be available on the website shortly.

NAB LEAGUE BOYS FIXTURE

NAB LEAGUE GIRLS FIXTURE

NTFL Women’s Premier League Preview: Round 14 – Battle of the key forwards in Magpies-Districts match

HEADING into the home stretch, the race for finals in the Northern Territory Football League Women’s is getting tighter with no team undefeated after 13 rounds. Southern Districts will look to bounce back after a frustrating loss last week while Big River Hawks will hope to field a team for the first time this year after forfeiting in both Round 12 and Round 13.

Pint v. Wanderers
Round 14 – 18/1/20
2:00pm
MCG

Wanderers will need to go big this week against Pint after receiving an unprecedented forfeit last round from Big River Hawks. Last time they met, Wanderers were quick to start but were not really in it for the second half of the match, allowing Pint to dominate the contest and ultimately going down by 33 points. The Wanderers now sit in fifth, however, with eight wins behind them and the confidence to reign supreme if they put their minds to it, it could be a real tough contest for the Queen Ants. Pint will hope for Jasmyn Hewitt to continue her strong form, having only played eight matches for the season but booting 10 goals. Emma Greaves and Cara Evans have also been solid with 12 matches apiece, with consistency and cleanliness to boot. For the Wanderers, Morgan Johnston and Shekeine De Satge are among the key performers, with De Satge the leading goalkicker with 11 from her 13 matches.

Waratah v. Big River Hawks
Round 14 – 18/1/20
5:00pm
TIO Oval 2

Waratah will hope for another big win this week but the more pressing issue will be whether Big River Hawks can field a team this round after forfeiting their past two encounters. With skill and scoring ability on their side, Waratah will want to capitalise on every opportunity against the Hawks to continue the stellar form that has them sitting atop the ladder for the seventh round in a row – and not to mention trying to go one better than their last match against the Hawks that saw a whopping 162-point victory for the ‘Tahs. Waratah have improved their accuracy in front of goal in recent weeks so will want to continue that form, with the likes of Lisa Roberts sure to be right in the contest alongside fellow performers in Rebecca Pryer and Lauren Shea. For the Hawks, look to Crystal Browne and Deanna Peckham to put in the hard yards while Jayde De La Coeur will hope to put her second goal of the season on the board.

Darwin Buffettes v. St Mary’s
Round 14 – 18/1/20
5:00pm
TIO Stadium

Darwin Buffettes will want to go one better after narrowly defeating the Southern Districts last round, and this match against St Mary’s is no better opportunity with the Saints sitting in eighth compared to the Buffs in second. The Buffettes are teetering in their spot in the top two, only holding on thanks to dominant form at the beginning of the season and really making this match a do-or-die clash if they want to maintain their hold on the competition. For the Saints, a solid performance is required this week after a sloppy loss against Waratah which featured plenty of missed opportunities. The Buffettes impressed early in the season with their ability to share the load around and are no different now, with plenty of key players who can impact the contest. The likes of Tayla Hart-Aluni and Kylie Duggan are up there with regular solid performances while Dominique Carbone and Jemma Iacono are not far behind with continued execution week after week. For the Saints, consistency has been an issue with not one player taking the field in every single game, though Nikita Long and Sharna Edwards have played 12 from 13 matches to prove they have the game smarts to pull through.

Palmerston Magpies v. Southern Districts
Round 14 – 18/1/20
7:00pm
Cazalys Arena

Southern Districts will have their work cut out for them this week, taking on the Magpies who have been impressive in recent weeks and throughout the season overall. The Districts are not having it quite as easy however, coming off a loss last week to fellow top four side Darwin and their win first of 2020 against mid-tier Pint. Sitting at third and fourth on the ladder expect a close contest with both sides able to whip out stellar form and come from behind to take victory. Iesha Ronberg and Billie Byers have been key performers for the  Magpies, and with the likes of Arthurina Moreen (27 goals) and Freda Puruntatameri (12) inside 50, Ronberg and Byers have done their job well to  ensure the footy gets to them regularly. Southern Districts have their own sharpshooters to contend with however, with the league’s leading goalkicker Ebony Miller (35 goals in 10 games) creating a formidable option in front of goal with accuracy and skill to boot. Tahlia Holtze has also been a consistent performer, listed in the bests on five occasions.

Nightcliff v. Tracy Village
Round 14 – 19/1/20
2:00pm
PSC BM Oval

In the final game of the round, Nightcliff will want to continue their strong start to 2020 when they take on the lowly Tracy Village. The Razorbacks have a lot to prove against the Tigers after going down by 22 points last time they met, and will need to take advantage of every opportunity to get over Nightcliff this time around given they have won their past two encounters in 2020 so far. Coming off a big loss in Round 13, the Razorbacks will need to stay in control of the footy and with Nightcliff able to find space with ease, it will not be an easy job. Nightcliff  have the ability to jump up the ladder if results go their way this round, meaning they will look to the likes of Eliza Morrison and Emma-Lou Wolsey who have kept up the consistency throughout the season. Victorian, Mickayla Ward has contributed well since joining the side, with seven best on ground nominations from nine matches and eight goals to her name, combining well with youngster Shantel Miskin-Ripia who can swing as a key position player where required to bolster the versatile side. Tracy Village will hope the likes of Alexandra Biggs and Gabrielle Young continue to step up to prove the side can do more than just roll with the punches.

Western Australia's Roxy Roux against Vic Metro at the AFLW U18 Championships

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: Fremantle

THE Dockers had a fantastic season in 2019 making them a real team to watch in 2020. While they may have lost a few players to expansion club, West Coast Eagles, Fremantle have plenty of talented names in their ranks and have the consistency to come in and create an exciting season once more. 

KEY PLAYER:

Kara Antonio (midfielder)

The Fremantle captain has been key for the side’s success over the years, with her game awareness and leadership taking the side to a new level in 2019 after slow 2017 and 2018 season saw the Dockers toward the bottom of the ladder. Always involved in the contest, Antonio (nee Donnellan) is a hard worker who leads by example and puts in the hard yards at every opportunity to win the ball and create opportunities for her team. 

RISING STAR:

Roxy Roux (key forward/ruck)

While the Dockers have plenty of exciting talent coming through the ranks, one cannot look past the skill of Roxy Roux. With strong kick and aerial ability to boot, Roux has the ability to play anywhere across the field but has a keen eye inside 50, finding the footy and marking with ease to put goals on the board. Roux has a skill for marking thanks to her impressive leap, with clean hands in the pack a real feature of her game. 

WATCH FOR: 

Ashley Sharp (forward)

With a few seasons and the 2019 Goal of the Year award under her belt, expect Ash Sharp to come out flying after an impressive season for Swan Districts in the Western Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL) in 2019. With goal sense and speed, Sharp creates an exciting prospect both on the wing and inside 50, able to have an impact where required and can break open a game with her footy IQ.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne, St Kilda, West Coast, Western Bulldogs.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – vs. Geelong
Round 2 – @ West Coast
Round 3 – vs. Collingwood
Round 4 – @ St Kilda
Round 5 – vs. Brisbane
Round 6 – @ Western Bulldogs
Round 7 – vs. Melbourne
Round 8 – @ Carlton

Fremantle have a fairly straightforward fixture this season, and with matches against overall lower ranked 2019 sides and two expansions early in the season, will look to go one better than their 2019 season. The real test will be the second half of the season, with Conference B rivals Melbourne and Carlton set to deny the Dockers finals chances. Carlton also defeated the Dockers in the finals last season making the final round of the season one to watch.

PREDICTION: 1st/2nd in Conference B

While the Dockers have plenty of tough competition in Conference B, if they can maintain they impressive form they put out in 2019 they could be right in there for finals contention once more. They will also not have to take on reigning premiers, Adelaide, making it an exciting time for Dockers fans, though the real test will be continuing where 2019 left off without some key players on the ground.

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne’s inaugural season may not have gone quite to plan in 2019, though they were not far off the mark with some key signings that marked the Kangaroos as a real force to be reckoned with. This season North will be back better than ever with a season in the books, making them a real contender for the flag. North retained a lot of its 2019 playing list so will hope to create a consistent outcome in its second year.

KEY PLAYER:

Emma Kearney (midfielder)

The Kangaroos captain will want to stand up once again this season, after an exceptional start to the side’s season last year saw them lose focus throughout the season. Kearney has a real clear head on her shoulders with the class and smarts to make something out of nothing. Her leadership is vital for North’s success and will be a real barometer for the side’s success.

RISING STAR:

Mia King (midfielder)

Mia King may not have been North Melbourne’s first pick in the 2019 draft but she is certainly a fantastic addition to the Kangaroos, with the all-rounder North’s first Under 18s selection of the night, credit to her speed and tenacity with ball in hand. King will want to insert herself right into the contest which is arguably where she best fits, bringing the ball to ground and clearing to advantage.

WATCH FOR: 

Jasmine Garner (forward

Garner has the match smarts to outwit many, something she has proven time and time again. The former Collingwood forward is impressive when she gets her hands on the footy, able to find the ball with ease inside 50 and create opportunities for others through her innate knowledge of her teammates. She had a stellar first season with the Shinboners in 2019 so is sure to have a similar impact this time around with her strength and clean hands key for the side’s success.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, Gold Coast, GWS GIANTS, Richmond.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – @ Melbourne
Round 2 – vs. GWS GIANTS
Round 3 – @ Richmond
Round 4 – vs. Gold Coast
Round 5 – vs. Adelaide
Round 6 – @ Geelong
Round 7 – vs. Western Bulldogs
Round 8 – @ Brisbane Lions

North Melbourne have an interesting fixture, seeing the side only take on two expansion sides and a relatively simple run home. Their season will come into question depending on the form of 2019 premiers, Adelaide, who they will not take on this season but will likely be their biggest conference competition – bar Richmond, who look fairly impressive at this early stage. If North can do what they did last year with percentage but keep up the consistency they should have an a huge chance finals and to go all the way.

PREDICTION: 1st/2nd in Conference A

North Melbourne are a real smoky in 2020, with a chance of going all the way as long as they do not succumb to the same season-ending issues as last season, which saw them go out in disappointing fashion just before finals. Given their ability to create a formidable opposition, North are sure to come into this season with plenty to prove.