Author: Taylah Melki

2021 Under 19 AFLW All-Australian team announced

THE NAB AFL Women’s Under 19 Championship All-Australian Team has just been announced with a number of talented players making the cut after exceptional performances throughout the Championships.

There is a strong mix of talent from across the country but it is Victoria once again that holds the monopoly with a combined 11 players named in the team. There are six players hailing from Vic Country and five from Vic Metro, a testament to the strength of the Victorian developmental pathways despite a wealth of players missing last year due to the COVID-19 enforced lockdown.

Western Australia is also well represented with three player named, with youngster Ella Roberts leading the pack and well and truly making a name for herself despite only being the ripe age of 16-years-old. She also took out the 2021 NAB Player of the Championships Medal given her star power and impressive performance against Vic Metro where she suffered leather poisoning racking up 31 touches, six inside 50s and two goals. South Australia and the Allies also have three representatives apiece while Queensland managed the two.

It is no surprise to see the likes of Georgie Prespakis, Charlie Rowbottom, Maggie Harmer, Teagan Levi, Jess Doyle, Courtney Rowley, Zoe Prowse, Tahlia Gillard and Tara Slender named in the side given they are all 2020-21 AFLW Academy members. All nine players showcased their wares throughout the tournament, putting their best foot forward and doing no harm to their AFLW Draft potential in the process.

Chloe Leonard is the only top-ager named in the 18-player squad while there are a number of bottom-agers with the likes of Roberts, Lauren Young, Cynthia Hamilton and Paige Scott who made their way into the team, despite not being eligible for the draft this year. Although on the younger side, Hamilton took home the MVP award for the Allies highlighting the bright future the youngster has and her sheer dominance throughout the Championships.

AA Team:

B: Chloe Leonard – Isadora McLeay – Jaide Anthony
HB: Maggie Harmer – Lauren Young – Annie Lee
C: Aurora Smith – Teagan Levi – Courtney Rowley
HF: Jess Doyle – Ella Roberts – Stella Reid
F: Paige Scott – Cynthia Hamilton – Georgia Campbell
R: Zoe Prowse – Charlie Rowbottom – Georgie Prespakis
INT: Makaela Tuhakaraina – Tahlia Gillard – Tara Slender – Zoe Venning

2021 VFL Women’s: Finals Week 1

THE first week of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals action brought plenty of excitement with close encounters leaving many fans sitting on the edge of their seats with nervous anticipation. In the end it was Collingwood that made their way straight into the semi-final while Casey were knocked out of the race for the premiership.

Collingwood 4.2 (26) defeated Geelong 2.8 (20)

The top of the table Magpies proved why they were the minor premiers and reigning VFLW champions, getting the job done against Geelong by a mere goal in an absolute thriller. The Pies found their kicking boots early, nailing two goals in the opening term and suffocated Geelong’s movement and penetration up forward as they only slotted one major. This intensity continued into the third for the Magpies as they forged ahead to keep the scoreboard ticking over. It was a different story for the Cats however and despite having their fair share of chances they simply could not capitalise, registering just four points for the term.

Holding a 10-point lead at half-time Collingwood were looking to inflict more pain but Geelong youngster Rene Caris had other plans kicking a much needed goal to keep her side within striking distance. But the Pies were not about to lie down as the ever-reliable and crafty Chloe Molloy bobbed up at the right time to bang one home herself and re-establish that 10-point ball-game. More inaccuracy for Geelong left them on the outer as they tried to creep back into the game with the final quarter culminating into a make or break 15 minutes of action. Collingwood simply could not find the big sticks and subsequently did not hit the scoreboard while the Cats had a peg at the goals but could not guide them home. In the end it was the Pies that got the chocolates with some last line defence and never-say-die attitude getting them over the line.

It was another solid outing for Mikala Cann who led the black and white brigade with her 20 disposal and five tackles as Molloy showcased her class with 18 touches and a major to her name. Lauren Butler was influential racking up 14 disposals as both Marla Neal and Amelia Velardo found their share of the footy with 13 touches apiece. Velardo also impressed with her aerial ability taking seven marks as Neal imposed her physicality with eight tackles. The goal-kicking duties were well shared for the Pies as Caitlin Bunker, Olivia Meagher and Ebony O’Dea hit the scoreboard alongside Molloy. For the Cats it was their youngsters that paved the way as Darcy Moloney and Caris managed a major each. Olivia Fuller was the most prolific ball winner collecting 22 touches, six tackles and an impressive 36 hitouts. Rebecca Webster was also amongst the thick of things with her 20 possessions while Renee Garing found her groove picking up 19 touches.

Casey Demons 5.2 (32) defeated by Essendon 5.5 (35)

It was a see-sawing affair to say the least as the Bombers just scraped over the line against Casey Demons. There was no shortage of twists and turns throughout the battle with Casey holding the early ascendancy in what turned out to be a low-scoring opening term before Essendon switched on in the second quarter to blow the socks off their opponents. A huge three goal to nothing term all but set them up for the win as they generated some real momentum heading into the second half.

But momentum meant nothing as the Demons came out with a point to prove in the third quarter. Held scoreless in the second, Casey quickly answered the call off the boot of Alyssa Bannan. The youngster managed two goals in a matter of minutes to bring the Demons back to life and although the Bombers slotted a major of their own the momentum had well and truly changed hands. It was a tantalising final term of action with the Demons up and about and hitting the lead thanks to a Shelley Heath goal but that was short lived as the Bombers unleashed through Lauren Aherns to steal the win.

Bannan had the kicking boots on for Casey finishing the afternoon with two majors to her name while Tahlia Fellows also slotted a goal of her own. In terms of major ball winners it is hard to go past Eliza West who seemed to have the ball on a string with her 23 touches and six clearances as Casey Sherriff also got busy picking up 20 disposals. Jacqueline Parry imposed herself around the contest with her 18 disposals as Brenna Tarrant racked up 17 possessions to accompany her five tackles. There was five individual goal scorers for the Bombers with Aherns slotting the sealer and racking up 19 touches as Alana Barber showcased her wares slotting a major and walking away with 18 disposals and a whopping 11 tackles. Youngster Tara Slender also hit the scoreboard as Georgia Nanscawen and Cecilia McIntosh starred with ball in hand racking up 28 and 20 touches apiece.

 Port Melbourne 3.5 (23) defeated by Southern Saints 7.15 (57)

The Southern Saints claimed a comfortable 34-point win against Port Melbourne on Sunday afternoon to progress to the next stage of finals. The Borough had the upper hand in the opening quarter pegging away at the goal posts and opening up a handy one-goal lead. But the tide slowly started to turn in the second quarter with the Saints trapping the ball inside their 50 and peppering away at the goals. They piled on two goals to none in the second term as they skipped out to a nine-point lead.

With the momentum behind them it was time for the Saints to put the foot down and that they did. An early miss from Tyanna Smith was quickly made up by Jess Matin who nailed her first major for the game to extend the lead for the Saints. From there on out the Southern Saints continued to build and forge ahead. They kept Port Melbourne to one goal for the entire second half while they piled on four. They could have won by more if they were accurate in front of goal with the Saints registering seven behinds in the last term alone as fatigue started to kick in for both sides.

It was a tough day at the office for the Borough but that did not stop Olivia Barton from digging in as she racked up 15 disposals, all of which were by foot. Ellie McKenzie was also amongst the top performers for Port Melbourne finishing with 13 touches and three clearances to her name as Cleo Saxon-Jones got busy across the ground with her 12 disposals. Emily Harley, Sophie Locke and Brooke Vickers were the three goal scorers for the Borough while for the Saints Matin and Tara Bohanna slotted two each. They also topped the table for possessions collecting 20 apiece as Matin dug in deep at the coalface credit to her six clearances. Gabrielle De Angelis also found plenty of the footy with 18 touches and a goal. Hannah Stuart was never far from the ball amassing 18 disposals as teammate Rebecca Neaves registered 17 touches and four marks in the win.

Photo credit: Essendon VFLW Twitter

2021 VFLW Round 5 preview: Two top four clashes highlight round

ROUND 5 of the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) will play host to a number of action packed clashes as Collingwood and Port Melbourne look to maintain their undefeated status. The competition is only getting started with sides still trying to finalise their most potent line-ups and looking to solidify their standings in the competition.

Collingwood vs. Casey Demons
Saturday, March 27 @10:00am

The Magpies and Casey Demons are set to lock horns in what is set to be an enthralling contest between the two top four teams. Collingwood are yet to drop a game while the Demons have only lost the one and that was back in Round 2. Since then, Casey have really ironed out the creases and managed to apply a wealth of scoreboard pressure. Playing a similar style to the Pies expect both sides to attack the coalface hard and look to extract the ball quickly to give their forwards the best chance to score.

Maddy Shevlin has been a star for the Pies but is a key out this week while Amelia Velardo and Matilda Zander have plied their trade for the black and white constantly backing up their efforts across the ground. At their spiritual home ground expect the Pies to come out firing and to have their kicking boots on after an inaccurate showing last round. For the Demons, Tahlia Fellows has proven to be a key cog in the side but will also miss this round, while Chantel Emonson and Bridie Winbanks are key inclusions for the Dees.

Southern Saints vs. Darebin Falcons
Saturday, March 27 @10:00am

It has not been a great start for either side, but a win here could really change their outlook for the remainder of the season. Darebin sit winless from four games while the Saints have mustered up just the one win but sit seventh on the ladder. The tussle between the two sides will be tantalising to say the least as they look to claim some type of ascendancy and build the foundation for a strong middle part of the season. Typically low scoring sides it will come down to which side is able to create enough opportunities to push forward and convert.

The defensive unit for the Falcons will have their work cut out for them up but will be glad they are not going up against the likes of livewire Renee Saulitis who managed a major last round despite the loss. Other key figures for the Saints consistent of Alexandra Hynes and Madi Capsalis who both impressed last week and will be looking to bring that same level of heat and intensity. Unable to hit the scoreboard last round, the Falcons will be hoping that Steph Simpson and Sally Lynch can find their kicking boots while Kathleen Roe has proven to be a key ball winner for Darebin.

Western Bulldogs vs. Geelong
Saturday, March 27 @2:00pm

The Western Bulldogs will host Geelong at Whitten Oval on Saturday in search of their second win of the season. The Cats currently hold higher ladder positioning clinching fifth spot, and a win here could see them jump up the ladder while a loss could add to the ever growing midtable logjam.

Geelong fell short last week despite the best efforts of Michelle Fedele who booted two goals and they will once again be hoping for Fidele to steer the ship in front of goal. Both Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard are likely to cause headaches with the young duo able to win their fair share of ball for the Cats. On the other hand the Dogs have a number of key figures that will be eager to get amongst the action such as the senior-listed Bailey Hunt. Captain Riley Christgoergl is another one to keep an eye out for the Dogs as the ever developing Amelia van Oosterwijck and Annabel Strahan.

Carlton vs. Hawthorn
Saturday, March 27 @2:00pm

The Blues are coming off a narrow eight point win last round, while the Hawks suffered their third loss of the season making for an interesting matchup. Carlton will be playing with a wealth of confidence and looking to use their silky ball movement to put Hawthorn on the back foot in the opening stages of the game. A win here for Carlton could push them into the top six and really help them build some ascendancy.

Veteran Meg Hutchins is a lynchpin for the Hawks no matter where she plays but will miss out this week, meaning the midfiel will need support from the likes of Northern Territory product Dominique Carbone, Lauren Szigeti and Catherine Brown if they are any chance to topple the Blues on Saturday afternoon. For Carlton, youngster Winnie Laing only continues to get better with time, learning off the likes of Serena Gibbs, Maddy Guerin and star recruit Akayla Peterson.

Essendon vs. Port Melbourne
Sunday, March 28 @10:30am

Claiming their third straight win last round the Bombers will be riding a wave of momentum but that could quickly come to an end with their clash on Sunday against the undefeated Port Melbourne side. The Borough are full steam ahead, playing with class and conviction meaning Essendon will have their work cut out for them if they are to upset the apple cart and continue their winning ways.

The Bombers have a strong contingent of youngsters across the ground with Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore proving to be a consistent pair able to burrow in and commit to the hard yards. Georgia Nanscawen is a real game changer for Essendon and will be looking to be at her damaging best coming off a stellar Round 4 performance while Mia-Rae Clifford is also an excitement machine for the red and black. The Borough have no shortage of playmakers with Sophie Locke quickly making a name for herself alongside Cleo Saxon-Jones, though will need to make do without Locke this round. Other contributors that the Bombers will have to be wary of are Phoebe Monahan, Emily Harley and Sarah McNamara who has proven handy in front of the big sticks in recent weeks.

North Melbourne vs. Williamstown
Sunday, March 28 @12:00pm

The final game of the round sees North Melbourne take on Williamstown with the latter looking for their third win of the season. It has been a trying campaign for North Melbourne who have only secured the one win so far but will be chomping at the bit to alter that outcome with a victory over their higher placed opponents. Williamstown come into the clash off a solid win against the Doggies, so expect them to use that momentum to apply some early scoreboard pressure.

The Seagulls have a good spread of players capable of stepping up to the plate and plying their trade with Ruby Tripodi one of those key figures. Erin Meade is another consistent figure for Williamstown while Sofi Georgas is coming in off a strong performance last round. For the Kangaroos Brooke Brown is a real livewire able to navigate her way around the goals and most importantly convert those opportunities while Alexia Hamilton and Ciara Fitzgerald are also viable options.

Eagles soar over Geelong to record 39-point win

DESPITE a scrappy start to the game West Coast found their groove as the match got going, kicking away to a 39-point victory – their highest in history – defeating Geelong last night at Mineral Resources Park 8.5 (53) to 2.2 (14). The loss means Geelong still sit bottom of the ladder with zero wins to their name from seven outings while the Eagles have taken their season tally to two.

Controlling the play for majority of the opening term, it was inaccuracy that hindered the Eagles’ dominance only managing to record four behinds. Two of them could have sailed through for majors but desperate efforts from the Cats defence saw them touched off the boot while the other two simply did not have the accuracy. Geelong on the other hand struggled to find any form of composure with ball in hand not even registering a single behind for the opening term such was the pressure stemming from the Eagles.

After a disappointing start to the game, the Eagles well and truly flicked the switch with a dazzling quarter of football, headlined by Imahra Cameron. The West Coast forward set the field alight with her tenacity and goalkicking tendencies on full display nailing two goals in quick succession. She really set the wheels in motion as the rest of the team piggybacked off her energy and momentum to propel the ball forward and create attacking forays. Her work was not done however, popping up at the five minute mark to take a big contested grab coming in from the side and then kicking truly to push the Eagles out to a 21 point lead. Her second quarter heroics did not go unmatched with the Kelly sisters – Niamh and Grace – also plying their trade and proving to be key facilitators for the Eagles across the ground.

Goalless for the opening half of footy, the Cats were well and truly put on the back foot entering the third quarter and unfortunately it did not get any easier for the Victorian-based side as the Eagles maintained their level of composure. But some magic from Amy McDonald as the clock trickled down in the third saw the Cats get on the board. McDonald pulled out all the tricks, winning the ball out of the ruck, spinning out of a tackle and then banging it home to secure the Cats’ first major for the game. By that stage it was all still too little, too late as the home side had established a 33 point lead.

The final term continued much of the same as the Eagles pressed with their slick ball movement and speed out of the stoppage causing damage. Majority of the quarter was played between the two arcs as the ball ebbed and flowed up and down the ground with tired bodies coming to the fore. Grace Kelly nailed an impressive goal on the run to kickstart the final 15 minutes, but left the ground straight after with a suspected groin injury. Georgia Clarke added some respectability to the Cats’ scoreline with a major before Niamh really rammed home the win for West Coast to cap off an impressive performance from the Irish import.

It was hard to deny the influence of Emma Swanson who continuously popped up for the Eagles any time there was a ball to be won walking away with a team-high 21 disposals, six marks and eight tackles as Aisling McCarthy amassed 19 touches. Niamh Kelly had the ball on a string throughout the game and used her dash off half back to cause all sorts of trouble. Her ability to dart forward and utilise her speed to evade her opponents was impressive as was her strong hands, going up for multiple big pack marks finishing with 18 touches, two goals and three marks. Grace slotted two majors which accompanied her 12 touches and three tackles. Youngster Mikayla Bowen was electric (18 disposals, three marks, three tackles) while Maddy Collier contributed to the win thanks to her 18 touches.

Although it was a difficult outing for the Cats, McDonald impressed slotting the first major for her side while also collecting 24 touches and six tackles. She was ably assisted by Rebecca Webster who managed 16 touches as Renee Garing also made her mark thanks to her 13 disposals and five tackles. The ever-reliable Meg McDonald was once again a pillar of consistency despite having her work cut out for her, picking up 13 touches and three tackles.

 

WEST COAST 0.4 | 4.4 | 6.4 | 8.5 (53)
GEELONG 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)

GOALS

West Coast: I. Cameron 3, G.Kelly 2, N.Kelly 2, Caulfield,
Geelong: A. McDonald, G. Clarke

ADC Best: 

West Coast: N. Kelly, I. Cameron, G. Kelly, E. Swanson, A. McCarthy
Geelong: A. McDonald, R. Webster, M. McDonald

Eagles looking for a balance of youth and experience in 2021

WOODVILLE-West Torrens Eagles boast a young line-up heading into their Round 1 clash in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s with development coach, Andy Hood highlighting the amount of work the side has done to become fitter and stronger heading into their 2021 campaign.

“Preseason has been really strong. It started way back in November, we’ve got a real focus on getting fitter. I think in the three years that we’ve been in the competition, I certainly feel we’re better prepared and a lot fitter and stronger than we had been the last couple of years. So it’s been a really good preseason, we’ve got excellent strength and conditioning people in our team that’s been fantastic. It’s been really a strong preseason,” he said.

Over the pre-season, Hood made mention of the number of young players that managed to make their way down and wasted no time highlighting the number of exciting prospects preparing to take on the season.

“During our trials and sort of our preseason we’ve really been able to get some really good young players come into our football club,” he said.

Hood, heaped plenty of praise on the likes of Shineah Goody, Astrid Gooley and Chloe Whitington-Charity with the trio causing waves at the club with their intensity, willingness at the contest and skillset while Audrey Holt has also caught the eye ahead of Round 1.

“The ones that we really have been impressed with is Shineah Goody, young kid,” he said. “From our country zone, really excited about her in the future. She’s definitely someone to keep an eye on. She can play back and up forward, very elusive has a bit of x-factor, reads the ball really well. Just really strong around the front and centre of the contest.”

“There’s Astrid Gooley from SMOSH, excellent, young lady of 16 years of age, big future, great overhead mark, will play up forward.”

“Chloe Whitington-Charity another young kid from Henley just a real fit young athletic type player, fast we feel that she’s going to be a future leader this young lady has done really well to get a debut game tomorrow. Just really fast on the outside, good overhead mark loves the contest.”

“Audrey Holt, I’m not sure where she’s from, no she’s from Woodville South. Just a tackling machine hard at it. Will bounce up and just go again and again and again we love her appetite for the contest. She’s someone that you’ll just “geez that girl just goes hard.” A real small frame but just has a real desire for the, for the contest in the battle.

In terms of familiar faces, Hood also made mention of reigning best and fairest winner Jovanka Zecevic along with Lili Gambrainis and Jamie Parish with the trio hoping to elevate their game even further for the Eagles this season.

“[Zecevic] won our club champion last year has had a really strong preseason,” Hood said. “You know, we’re expecting she’ll take her game to another level and starting to develop into one of these players where you’re just a real match winner. Strong midfield player that sets up some opportunities for your team.”

“[Lili] is a real athletic strong at the contest, a real competitor loves the contest and good overhead and you know won’t give her opponent anything.”

“The other is Jamie Parish, of course who has been in the team last year and this year, Jamie’s in the state team and just someone that is going to develop into a really good footballer strong overhead, likes the contests likes to body the opponent has a real strong football brain.”

Although she is new to the team she is not new to the league, as Hood highlighted the influence Brooklyn Kraft has had since crossing over to the club for her first season in Eagles colours despite still being a developing player.

“Brooke Kraft from South Adelaide came over,” he said. “She’s great, overhead mark, tall. “Developing player, but someone that will give us a lot in the aerial contest, which is something that we probably lacked around the ground.”

With youth aplenty throughout the squad it can be somewhat difficult to find that perfect mix of young up and coming players along with experienced members however, Hood believes that the Eagles have really focused on developing a side that can balance all aspects throughout the pre-season.

“I think the coaching staff and just the way we’ve started preseason and trials and just our different phases of how we train is has really been first class and been able to develop the players of our expectations and standards, we’ve set the standards, really early. It was pretty clear what everyone had to do I think that’s been a big help,” he said.

“I think training … it’s an old analogy, but we’re really training the way that we want to play.”

Looking at what the club wants to be renowned for as a whole throughout the 2021 season, Hood made it clear that he was not going to give away all of his secrets but the side is keen on implementing an attacking brand of footy.

“I think it’s just attacking, attacking and taking the game on,” Hood said. “I mean every team wants to do that but you know it’s to win the footy and then attack, you know, get it into the forward line. “It’s to defend and to defend hard and then get the ball in quickly.”

Woodville-West Torrens Eagles are set to kick things off against Central District tomorrow.

South Fremantle keen to become a destination club

SOUTH Fremantle are gearing up for their second season in the Western Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s with coach Beau McCormack excited by the young group of players making their way through the club.

“We’re trying to really emphasise South Fremantle as a destination club for females and the other clubs that have been around so we’ve been trying really hard to get an influx and we’re lucky enough to have had around about 19 new girls come to the footy club, this year as well so got a huge spread of girls,” he said.

Coming off the back of a shortened preseason – a similar story to last year – South Fremantle has taken everything in its stride whether it be having to accommodate for lockdown or being flexible with training programs throughout its preseason period to ensure the Bulldogs are in tiptop shape ahead of Round 1.

“We had a shortened introduction last year, three weeks and thrown into league football and this year we were doing our preseason and then had the word that the season was going to be brought forward so again we’ve had a shortened run up I guess. But preseason so far the girls have worked really hard. We have had some challenges with COVID as everyone has, and during some lockdowns the girls have, pushed each other and posted workouts and driven each other to continue to train, albeit with a partner. So, you know, we’re heading in a really good direction.

“We had a scratch match on the weekend and, you know, the fitness levels seem to be, on par with East Fremantle from what we saw so that was a good thing. Gives us a base to work on and see where we’re at and gauge the work they’ve done throughout the preseason,” McCormack said.

McCormack also touched on the difficulties his side along with the other teams in the competition have to encounter on a weekly basis as the players try and juggle a high intensity regime in their personal life.

“Trying to balance work and training and days, and games of roll and stuff at the moment it’s. You just have to have, as we do, a huge bit of flexibility around that, we obviously want girls to come to as many sessions as they can, but our stance on it is, is, family, work, and football, in that order.”

Although 2020 was a difficult season, with the Bulldogs unable to register a win and still finding their feet in the competition there is hope for improvement in the upcoming year as they aim to market South Fremantle as hot property for players to come to. Bursting at the seams with young talent and players in the state programme McCormack did not waste any time highlighting the players looking to make a name for themselves in the squad ahead of this season touting Pia Durk as another star in the makings thanks to her “tough attack on the footy” while there is plenty of promise around Evelyn Burry who “takes the game on and runs hard of half back.” Ash Reidy has also drawn the attention of McCormack with the youngster playing in the Grand Final at the Rogers Cup last year.

“She’s just super strong around the contest, has some great marking ability and her kicking as well so with Ash in full flight she will be the pretty exciting, she’s part of the Fremantle next generation Academy as well over here so you know they’ve already picked up on that, and if we can keep Ash fit and get her fitter as far as her knee I mean, we’re excited to see what she can bring to the team.”

However the side will be without star Taylah Cruttenden who became a regular for South Fremantle last year with the youngster committing to athletics ahead of the World Athletics in Kenya later this year. They could also be without the services of 2020 club leading goal kicker Poppy Stockwell for large chunks of the season given her cricket commitments. But with one door closing, another opens, as McCormack shed some light on a couple of exciting prospects set to take to the park and despite some only being new to the sport boast a wealth of raw potential and talent.

“We’re lucky enough to have Luce Gilchrist, who has been playing for a couple years in the Perth Football League Amateurs for Kurt and Wesley, an outstanding midfielder with just run and carry. It’s pretty phenomenal she’s still learning a game. “But Lucy is as ex-400m runner as well so she’s just can run all day long and skills. “Skills to clean up as she acknowledges, but it’s pretty exciting to watch.”

“We’ve got another young girl, Lauren Wakfer, her grandfather played at South Fremantle. She’s a young 16-year-old girl who’s in the state program. “Had a bit of timeout last year, with an injury and that but is growing every session and is exciting to watch. “In the scratch match on the weekend as well for a young girl, and her ability to go and ruck against some of these seasoned girls. “[She] just puts her body on the line, and just does it all with a massive smile and loves every minute of it so she’s really exciting.

“We have a new girl this year, she has only played one season of football I believe if I’m correct and her name is Makaela Tuhakariana. “She comes from a rugby background but she has burst of speed, and a sidestep that is just blowing people’s minds. “She has exquisite skills even at this stage, she can kick while running flat out. “She brings a tackling pressure obviously from rugby that you know we got some work to do on her technique but she’s not shy, in definitely impacting the contest and a person, in her way so she’s very exciting to watch and I’m sure there’s going to be some, some big things for Mikayla going forward.”

Casting an eye ahead to the upcoming season, McCormack’s main aim for the side was to play a brand of football that was hard hitting and free flowing to ensure that they could capitalise on their strengths.

“I think our brand football we set out last year to play a brand football of high impact football and being known for a hard hitting team, and I think we, we definitely set that example last year and it’s something that we take on and have taken in again to this year, as I said, you know, tackling pressure from my point of view is a huge part of the game and we don’t have it, we get it back,” he said.

“We’ve got some really good runners, that are in the side, just trying to get it out and quick movement of the football from, one end of the ground to the other sort of fast flowing, free flowing football.”

Pressure and development key for Devils in 2021

TASMANIA Devils have a key focus for the 2021 season and that is to be a team that is renowned for their pressure and intensity according to coach and talent manager Cameron Joyce. After only managing to play two games last season prior to the NAB League Girls cancellation the Devils are raring to go and have a real buzz about them.

“We certainly want to be a respected team in the competition. We certainly want to be a team that will go forward with the ball and be able to hit the scoreboard. But at the same time probably a hallmark of our game will probably be our pressure, and the way we are able to apply layers of pressure to the opposition,” Joyce said.

With the season opener around the corner, Joyce highlighted the overall level of enthusiasm amongst the group as they prepare for Round 1 on Saturday and the season as a whole.

“Yeah they’ve been super excited wanting to learn and wanting to improve and we’ve had a really good preseason and yeah just looking forward to getting into it,” he said.

“It’s been a long wait, for staff and players included in terms of the NAB League that you know there was only two games last year for the girls. It’s been a long wait and then you know obviously training in the lead up to it, but I think everyone just wants to get out there,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve done enough work to be able to produce some good football and the girls can play it, the way we want to play but everyone’s just looking forward to playing the game of footy.”

Although pre-season training was hindered due to the COVID-19 protocols – albeit not as tight as Victoria – the Devils still found a way to keep their spirits high and engage in some form of training to iron out any kinks in the armour.

“Yeah, they certainly had a little break off the back of their season at the end of last year,” Joyce said. “We probably had a good month before Christmas and then they had three weeks off and then we’ve been able to build up over the last three or four weeks.”

One of the most promising signs was the Devils ability to get out on the park and enjoy an intraclub match to test out the combinations across the ground and really solidify the unit heading into the opening round of action.

“We had a hitout out on the weekend, which was great and we had an intraclub the week before so we feel like we’re ready to go against opposition and just see where we’re at,” Joyce said.

Tasmania has an “extensive leadership group of eight players” this season showcasing the number of talented players coming through the ranks at the club with the Devils announcing their captain and vice captains in Olivia Smith, Jemma Webster and Jemma Blair respectively.

“We’ve got Jemma Webster, and Jemma Blair both our vice captain’s, Jemma Webster in the midfield, and Jemma Blair across half-back both had good preseasons and Olivia Smith our captain on the wing. “She runs all day and keeps getting the footy so she’s been going well.”

Highlighting pressure as a key focal point for the upcoming season Joyce also expressed his pleasure with the midfield highlighting the depth of the squad and most importantly touted the notion of continued development throughout the Devils unit.

“Our midfield has been has been pretty strong, which is been good so we’re certainly hoping for that just continuous improvement from those players,” Joyce said.

With a number of exciting prospects set to take the field, one name in particular that is gearing up for a big season is Perri King with the AFL Women’s Academy member a lynchpin for the side.

“She’ll (Perri King) probably play predominantly in the midfield this year, but she’ll also spend some time forward as well seeing because she is quite good above the head, in terms of marking ability and we hope she’s going to be able to hit the scoreboard as well when she’s down there, so yeah I think mainly those two roles, for Perri at this stage,” Joyce said.

Ella Maurer is another one that has been performing really well. “She’s another midfielder, she gets a lot of the ball, she’s also been a goal kicker in our games, thus far. “We’re hoping for big, big things from Ella.”

“We’ve got quite an even spread of players that are performing well. “We’ve got a couple of 20-year-old’s that have come back as overagers in Camilla Taylor and Priscila Odwogo. One is playing at one end, Camila’s playing forward at the moment and Priscilla is playing back and both of them are playing good football at the moment.”

The list of players to watch did not stop there with Joyce highlighting the likes of Amy Prokopiec, Charlie Vandenberg and Claire Ransom as some faces to look out for in the upcoming season given their skillset and ability to run all day.

Despite being in another state, travel does not seem to faze Tasmania who are more than up to the challenge given the number of players that travel from all parts of the state in order to play at the top level.

“To be honest, it takes longer in the car to drive to some of those places than it does to fly to Melbourne,” Joyce said. “It is fair to say that the 50-minute plane ride isn’t going to be too much of an issue for the girls and the staff.”

The Devils kickstart their season against Gippsland Power at Highgate Recreation Reserve from 12.30pm.

Pioneers focus on basics after overcoming off-season obstacles

IT has been somewhat of an unconventional pre-season for Bendigo Pioneers with the changeover of coaches due to Damien Truslove making his way back to New South Wales over the summer period and subsequently getting stuck there due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However that has not put a dampener on the Bendigo players who according to Talent Operations Lead Brooke Brown are chomping at the bit to get the season underway.

“Pre-season has been really, up and down for the girls,” she said. “Unfortunately, our coach, headed back to New South Wales prior to Christmas, and has been stuck up there and hasn’t been back since and unfortunately he decided to stay in New South Wales. So, the girls have been under the watchful eye of our interim coach, Danny O’Bree.”

“I can say post-Christmas the enthusiasm and I guess the work that the girls have done throughout the Christmas break has certainly shown. Since that Christmas break, they’ve been training the house down which is really good but most importantly, they’re just having fun. And given the year they had last year that’s all we want from these girls at the moment just to have some fun.”

With Zoom becoming a focal point in everyday life, many of the players have gotten accustomed to communicating with the coaches via that platform while also absorbing as much information as possible from interim coach O’Bree and a number of assistant coaches.

“Damien who is the head coach at this point in time has been nothing short of amazing. Even though he’s been stuck in the red zone, he hasn’t once stopped contacting, communicating with the players, but most importantly he hasn’t stopped communicating with our staff and he has daily conversations and zoom meetings to catch up with interim coach Danny O’Bree so the girls are very, very well looked after,” Brown said.

“Our part-time coaches have been nothing short of amazing and this year we’re lucky enough to have ex-AFLW Collingwood player Emma Grant on board as one of our assistant coaches. “As I said, the girls are well looked after that they understand what the situation is I guess with Damien and taking everything in their stride.”

Despite a wealth of off-field obstacles, Brown said the group are more than excited to get back out on the park after the year that was 2020 with the season cancelled prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re pumped, they’re so excited,” she said. “It’s actually quite, funny to watch them run around and the enthusiasm is just mind boggling to see these girls just really excited to head to Yarrawonga in a couple of weeks’ time to play our first game.”

“They’re competing for spots, they want to play, they’re excited to play because they’ve missed out on so much in the past year. “We’re all excited for them and, as I said, win, lose or draw, as long as they walk off the field with a smile on their face and they’ve learnt something then we as a program have won.”

AFL Women’s Academy member Tara Slender headlines the Bendigo Pioneers outfit and is set to once again be a key cog for the Pios throughout their campaign given her ability to play at both ends of the ground and overall leadership qualities.

“We’ve got our NAB League Australian squad member in Tara Slender,” Brown said. “She’s certainly someone that has trained really, really hard and shows great leadership skills over the course of the preseason and, and she’ll certainly be one to watch.”

Outside of the Academy member in Slender, Brown highlighted a couple of other exciting prospects that are gearing up for a big NAB League Girls season crediting their performance and commitment over the off-season to their overall development.

“There is another couple of players that have really shown, certainly in the last month that their development has come a long way, and certainly their fitness over the Christmas season and their enthusiasm to play has grown, and they’re Jayda Richardson, who is I think from the Moama region. Jayda is a forward, and has shown some great development over the course of the last couple of weeks and Maddie Marks, who will probably predominantly play ruck/forward. “She has certainly shown that she’s got the skills and attributes to probably play at a higher level in a forthcoming year.”

With some exciting top-age talent amongst the mix the Pioneers also have some budding up and coming youngsters that are eager to get out onto the park and ply their trade with Lila Keck, Bryde O’Rourke and Arkie Donnelly noted for their potential.

“Bottom-age players we’ve got a few girls that are just fizzing to play football,” Brown said. “They nicked down as a 15-year old so they’re now 16/17, and they’re Lila Keck who’s a small forward and Bryde O’Rourke, who’s a midfielder, who has shown a lot of potential and a lot of hard work. “I don’t think she has missed a training sessions in preseason.”

“Arkie Donnelly, who’s a defender, so she’s a 17 year old defender this year so they’re probably six girls but I mean I could talk about all of them. “Certainly, those six girls are showing that their preseason is going to hold them in good stead, in the forthcoming season.”

A main focus for the team in the upcoming NAB League Girls season is to have fun. After such a challenging 2020 with COVID enforced cancellation of the season many of the girls have been unable to take the field for close to 12 months and the Pioneers are eager to ensure that the players enjoy every moment they can out on the field and get the basics right.

“Some of these girls, as I said haven’t played footy in a year or two years,” Brown said. “Some are very, very raw. “We’ve got some girls that are very young. “We just want to get the basics right. “And we’ll be competitive. “And that’s the most important part, if we’re competitive and we can walk off the ground and we can say that we’ve, we’ve done our best and then certainly from my perspective and Danny O’Bree’s perspective that’s all we can ask them to do.”

Bendigo kickstarts its 2021 NAB League Girls campaign off against Murray Bushrangers on Saturday at Yarrawonga..

2020/21 NTFL Men’s midseason review: St Mary’s, Tiwi Bombers, Wanderers, Waratah

WITH the NTFL Men’s Premier League season coming to a halt over the Christmas period Draft Central casts an eye over how the teams are tracking, some of their key contributors throughout the season so far and how they are shaping up for the rest of the season.

St Mary’s

Position: 2nd
Win-loss-draw: 9-3-0
Percentage: 130.68%

There is not much separating St Mary’s and the top of the table Nightcliff with the two sides sitting on the same number of wins (nine) showcasing just how tight the battle for first place is. They have enjoyed a recent run of hot form sitting on a six game winning streak with their last loss coming against Darwin Buffaloes back in Round 6 highlighting their ability to effectively close out games. When the season resumes in January, the Saints are set to face Palmerston as they look to keep their winning ways intact.

Sitting in the top tier of the ladder it is no surprise that the Saints have a plethora of key contributors both on the scoreboard and around the ground in general. Leading the way in front of goal is Beau Tedcastle who in his 10 games this season has managed to slot 23 majors while Jackson Paine has also been a handy option with 21 goals in six games displaying his ability to kick a bag. Jackson Calder is another livewire up forward for St Mary’s amassing 15 goals for the season so far. Nate Paredes is a formidable force both in front of the big sticks with 12 majors and across the ground making it into the bests five times. In terms of consistent performers, Dylan Landt well and truly leads the way with seven bests while Jack Landt is not far off the pace with six.

Tiwi Bombers

Position: 8th
Win-loss-draw: 0-12-0
Percentage: 58.66%

It has been an unsuccessful season for the Bombers with Tiwi yet to register a win and suffering some hefty losses throughout their campaign. They have gotten close to sides in patches but simply do not have the fire power to go toe-to-toe with them as shown by their nine point loss to Palmerston in Round 10 while also challenging Nightcliff in Round 9 but once again falling short. Their job does not get any easier after the break faced with Waratah in Round 13.

Leading the way with five goals to his name is Nathan Scagliarini while Harley Puruntatameri has also proven to be a handy source of goals in his nine appearances with four majors. Angus Byrne is known to hit the scoreboard every now and then, but has not played since mid-November while John Tipiloura is a consistent figure for the side featuring in all 12 games and recognised in the bests.

Wanderers

Position: 3rd
Win-loss-draw: 8-3-1
Percentage: 116.09%

Sitting in third spot on the ladder the Wanderers are firming as strong contenders for finals with their ability to win ugly and close out games. They came close to toppling Nightcliff back in Round 10 registering a draw showcasing their capacity to mix it with the best and push sides to their limits. The last five games have been somewhat of a mixed bag of results recording two losses and two wins and will be hoping to recapture their winning ways in Round 13 with a victory against Southern Districts.

Brett Eddy is a dominant force inside 50 able to slot them with great ease and dictate the flow of the game given his innate goal sense. Eddy leads the pack for Wanderers with 49 goals to his name while the next best is Simon Bates with 26 from 12 appearances. The goalkicking tallies drop off after that with no other player reaching double digits showcasing the reliance the side has on their two-pronged attack. Brodie Newman has been a star all season and has been rewarded for his efforts named in the bests nine times, with Eddy hot on his heels with seven. Dane McFarlane is an excitement machine as is Braedon McLean with the two regular best on grounds.

Waratah

Position: 4th
Win-loss-draw: 7-5-0
Percentage: 122.30%

Waratah are steadily building and hold good stead heading into the break, currently sitting fourth on the ladder thanks to their seven wins and five losses. They have had some strong performances downing bottom of the ladder teams convincingly and will be hoping to continue their way up the ladder. In their past five games Tahs have managed four wins and a loss with the defeat coming at the hands of St Mary’s. Waratah will be hoping for a percentage boosting win in Round 13 up against Tiwi Bombers.

There are a plenty of viable options inside 50 with Cameron Arnold leading the goalkicking tally for Waratah with 15. Jake Sutton can find the goals with relative ease thanks to his 14 goals while Jae McGrath and Callum Searle are the only other two players reaching double-figures for goals with 12 and 10 respectively. Abraham Ankers is a consistent figure for Waratah as is teammates Brodie Carroll and Robert Turnbull.

2020/21 NTFL Women’s midseason review: Tracy Village, Wanderers, Waratah

HEADING into a break over the Christmas period Draft Central takes a look at the NTFL Women’s Premier League so far, putting each team under the microscope and considering elements such as key standouts for each side, current win-loss ratio and who they are set to face when play returns in January 2021.

Tracy Village

Position: 9th
Win-loss-draw: 0-10-0
Percentage: 2.34%

It is fair to say that it has been an extremely hard year for Tracy Village who are yet to register a win in their 10 games and have found it equally as hard to hit the scoreboard with a season high of nine points. They have found it particularly tricky against the top echelon of teams going down by totals of 100 points on a regular basis and will be hoping to come out of the break refreshed and able to add a few more goals to their tally despite having to combat Darwin Buffettes in Round 13.

With goals few and far between there are only three goalkickers named across the team with Indianna Hughes, Kahla Dumbris and Meagan Wylie all managing to slot a major each. Zhoe Clarke has been a lynchpin for the Razorbacks throughout the season consistently putting up strong performances and leading the pack despite the winless record. Other key figures across the ground consist of Hughes, Dumbris, Kiri Marschall and Lisa-Maree Toner.

Wanderers

Position: 8th
Win-loss-draw: 1-9-0
Percentage: 45.63%

The Wanderers have had a rough start to the season only registering one win and suffering nine losses to sit eighth on the ladder. They have struggled to generate any real scoring power and have often been outclassed by the higher ranked teams. Their sole win came against Tracy village back in Round 2 where they ran out 62 point victors. Returning from the break, Wanderers are set to face the Crocs who currently hold fourth spot.

There is no denying that Kaitlyn Armstrong has been the focal point inside 50 for the Muk Muks registering 15 goals in her 10 outings. The likes of Shekeine De Satge and Sophie Fazzolari have also chimed in with five goals apiece to keep the scoreboard ticking over with only two other players managing more than one goal for the season. Morgan Johnston and Tishara Davern are the most regular names in the bests alongside the likes of Armstrong and De Satge while Cassie Ormsby is also up there.

Waratah

Position: 6th
Win-loss-draw: 4-6-1
Percentage: 143.53%

Coming in at sixth on the ladder, Waratah have had an inconsistent season to say the least but have shown they have the makings to trouble sides just need to do it for longer periods of time to ensure they can get over the line. Their track record in the past five games is a testament to their inconsistency with Tahs securing three wins but losing two albeit to much higher ranked opponents in top of the table Pint and Southern Districts. Their break will be extended by a week, handed the bye in the opening round of the season.

There is one main scoring option for Waratah with Lisa Miceli leading the way credit to her 17 goals over eight matches showcasing her ability to kick a bag when given enough time and space. Jenna Singh is no stranger to the big sticks with nine majors while Danica Pedersen is also a handy prospect alongside Breanna Martin with the two combining for 12 goals between them. Lisa Roberts is a consistent performer as is Tarryn O’Hehir and Monet Hunter.