Category: AFLW Draft

Suns shine brightly to run out comfortable Q-Clash winners at AFLW U17 Championships

GOLD Coast Suns Academy have taken out the first of two games in a battle between the Queensland Northern Academies, defeating Brisbane Lions by 55 points at Surfers Paradise yesterday. The Suns piled on seven goals to one in the first half – from only two more scoring shots – to lead by 32 points at half-time. A tighter second half saw the Lions begin to make some inroads, but the Suns kicked away again to record a comfortable 12.6 (78) to 3.5 (23) victory ahead of the second game on Wednesday. Alana Gee was a clear best on ground for the Suns in the win, with the talented midfielder bringing her own ball to the game and showing off her natural class to dominate through the midfield and then roll off half-back in the final term.

Alana Gee. Picture credit: RF Photography via AFL Photos

The game was a highly contested one, with not only the tackling itself, but the technique of the tackling a clear standout in the match. There was little room to move for many of the players, which allowed those with natural evasion skills to shine, and the Suns had more of them on the park. Gee lead the way from the first bounce, but was particularly influential after quarter time, as the Suns piled on the only four goals of the game and eight of the first nine goals of the game. Brisbane hit back after half-time thanks to tough inside midfielder Ava Seton, who stepped up to provide on-ball support to top talent Charlotte Mullins, with the Lions able to kick a couple of majors in the third term but still losing the quarter as the Suns kicked three.

Brooke Sheridan and Kadie Fletcher – the latter came off hurt in the final term after hitting the ground hard – showed their class in the forward half for the Lions, whilst twins Sarah and Courtney Browne were also reliable in the back half and pushing through the midfield. Ebony Milne was one of the better ball users going forward as the kicking inside 50 often let the Lions down, with the Suns defence – lead by remarkable 2006-born Tara Harrington – continually rebounding most of the forward forays. Harrington stole the show early and never let up, being the second best behind Gee, with her ability to read the ball, make good decisions and use it well under pressure as a highlight. She eventually switched roles with Gee to push through the middle on a wing, and still found the ball, pairing up nicely with fellow 2024 AFLW Draft prospect, Nyalli Milne.

Gold Coast’s Milne provided a couple of eye-catching goals, with a multi-bounce run in the first term, and then a clever forward play to sidestep a couple of opponents in the second term to create all sorts of headaches inside 50 for the Lions’ defence. Gold Coast had a remarkable five multiple goalkickers from 12 goals, with Milne, Josie McCabe, Isabella Iverach, Maggie O’Connell and Ella Calleja all kicking two apiece. McCabe was a clever link-up player at half-forward and another bottom-age talent for next year. Key position utility Fleur Davies often controlled the ruck stoppages with her extra height able to get first hands to the ball more often than not.

Charlotte Mullins had to withstand strong pressure all day. RF Photography via AFL Photos

From a Lions perspective, they were overrun in the midfield, but the defence held up best it could, with Christine Watson a fierce competitor deep, and the Browne sisters always helping out. Missing Ella Smith from the side, Brisbane will be keen to bounce back at its home game on Wednesday Moreton Bay Sports Complex. Keep an eye out on Draft Central over the next few days as we compile notes from the match, as well as a Player Focus on Gee.

GOLD COAST 4.1 | 7.1 | 10.4 | 12.6 (78)
BRISBANE 0.2 | 1.5 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Gold Coast: N. Milne 2, J. McCabe 2, I. Iverach 2, M. O’Connell 2, E. Calleja 2, C. Miller, C. Coombes.
Brisbane: B. Sheridan, K. Fletcher, L. Paget.

DC BEST:

Gold Coast: A. Gee, T. Harrington, N. Milne, J. McCabe, M. O’Connell
Brisbane: C. Mullins, A. Seton, B. Sheridan, K. Fletcher, E. Milne

Tasmanian Statewide Women’s Player Focus: Candice Belbin (Ulverstone)

IN our latest Player Focus, we take a look at the Tasmanian Women’s Statewide Preliminary Final, where Ulverstone defeated Launceston by 19 points at Dial Park in Penguin on the weekend. The teams had a number of top-age and draft-eligible players running around, but the main focus was on a 2022 AFLW Draft talent in Candice Belbin, who was one of the Robins’ best in the win.

>> MATCH REPORT: Ulverstone dominate scoreboard to book final decider spot with Glenorchy
>> STATS PROFILE: Candice Belbin

CANDICE BELBIN PROFILE:

Height: 164cm
DOB: 14/07/2004
Position: Midfielder/Defender
Club/s: Ulverstone/Tasmania Devils

Strengths: Power, strength, contested ball, versatility, clearance work
Key Improvement: Execution by foot

Candice Belbin was one of those players who improved as the 2021 NAB League Girls season went on, catching the eye with her work across the ground. Her ability to win the contested ball and power out of a stoppage – despite often playing outside in the season – is what she does so well. Even though she is smaller compared to some inside mids, she has the ability to read the taps well and also provide run-and-carry. Her quick hands and versatile athleticism – a nice mix of speed and agility, as well as her work rate and competitiveness – helps her remain strong throughout matches. She only had one game below 10 touch for the Devils (and that was nine) in a season where she was ultra-consistent, and showed that she had plenty of give for next year. If she can tidy up her execution by foot, then she ticks a lot of boxes.

2021 NAB League Girls stats (averages):

Games: 9
Kicks:
 4.6
Handballs: 6.8
Disposals: 11.3
Marks: 0.9
Tackles: 4.1
Inside 50s: 0.9
Rebound 50s: 1.0

Match in focus: Ulverstone 3.12 (30) defeated Launceston 1.5 (11)

Candice Belbin Quarter by Quarter analysis:

Q1:

Stats: 3 kicks, 3 handballs, 6 disposals, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 behind

Belbin started the game with a prominent first quarter as expected being the top talent eligible for next year’s draft in the game. She laid a great early tackle and then won her first kick in close out of a stoppage and scrubbed it forward to the advantage of her teammates. Her movement through traffic was evident inside 50 when she won the ball inside a stoppage, could not get rid of it cleanly, but then produced a second effort to win the contested ball again and fire away a quick handball, kept her feet to get it back and spun through traffic to have a kick towards goal, albeit for a behind.

Another highlight of the term was her second efforts and work rate of back-to-back handballs where from half-back she ran onto it, kept her eyes on the ball, won it with oncoming pressure and opted to handball over her opponent so Belbin could run onto it again. She handballed a second time, and whilst opponents were able to halt her run there, she had gained great meterage from the play along the wing. Her last touch of the quarter was a kick off the ground, followed by another great tackle.

Q2:

Stats: 2 kicks, 4 handballs, 6 disposals, 1 mark, 1 tackle, 2 frees against

Belbin’s ground coverage and overall pressure was really good as her second quarter built on that of her first. Not finding much space in close, Belbin used her power time and time again to breakthrough congestion and get it forward, with only the execution being the area to sharpen up. She did get caught holding the ball trying to break through a tackle late in the second term, and gave away an earlier free kick for a tackle on an opponent for slinging, but was perhaps a little unlucky for that one. Her first touch was a quick handball in close, and her cleanliness at ground level for the most part was good, often having a split second to pickup the ball and tackle off, which she did at one stage on the wing. Belbin had pressure coming with a two-on-one situation, cleanly grabbed the ball on the wing close to the boundary, drew the contact and produced the handball, which enabled her team to go forward and set up the team’s first goal of the day.

Belbin’s clean pickups and run-and-carry were certainly highlights, though she did tend to rush her kicks even once she had gained the space. Taking a strong uncontested mark 40m out after sneaking into the perfect spot, she looked to hit up Amy Bissett in the pocket but just overcooked the kick and went over her head. Back in the midfield, Belbin won another contested ball on the wing, but was immediately tackled, then a second effort saw her win another touch and this time get her handball off, to finish the first half with a really prominent 12 disposals, one mark and three tackles.

Q3:

Stats: 5 kicks, 4 handballs, 9 disposals, 1 mark, 1 inside 50, 2 frees for

Belbin’s best quarter by far was her third term, spending the entire quarter right where the action was in midfield. Whilst she played through the midfield around the ground in the first half, she was a permanent fixture at each stoppage in the third, and it showed on the stats sheet with her ball-winning ability. She won a free kick in the opening few seconds for being taken high, but her kick again missed the target and was intercepted. Her ability to win the ball under pressure and still be able to dispose of it through power and strength is eye-catching, and she produced an elite tackle four and a half minutes into the quarter. Her execution on the tackle was fantastic to win the holding the ball free kick, but again the spin on the ball from the free kick did not go the right way and the opposition took advantage. Playing more inside, Belbin was able to read the taps off the ruck hands well, often being the one to get into the right spot to win it, and then either power away or quickly dish off, which she did on a number of occasions.

Belbin pushed forward to about 20m out and while the mark was not paid, she quickly handballed forward under pressure, and won the ball another two times in the chain, keeping the ball locked inside the forward 50 as Ulverstone really put scoreboard pressure on Launceston. Winning the ball over and over again in the contest, Belbin was clean when she was able to go inside 50 and then ran on to win another contested ball off the ground before being immediately tackled. Showing off her one-on-one bodywork, late in the quarter Belbin nudged her opponent off the ball, grabbed the ball but was immediately tackled winning a free kick for being taken high. Her kick was intercepted, though Belbin won the ball back off that next possession through a mark herself, before another turnover. By the final break, Belbin was one of the best on ground with 21 disposals and two marks.

Q4:

Stats: 1 kick, 3 handballs, 4 disposals

It was Belbin’s quietest quarter of the game in the last, with most of the time in possession being in Launceston’s forward half, and Ulverstone struggling to clear it from the defensive 50 for large portions of the game. The bottom-age talent spent time around the ground, and when she was in the at defensive 50, won a contested ball, tried to charge away, was tackled but still got her handball off. She almost had an identical moment not long after, but lost control of it – without giving away a free kick – as it was knocked out of her hands. Her clearance work had been on show the game and once again she did well with her hard running to kick it forward, and then got to the next stoppage to do it again by reading the tap well, but was immediately tackled.

Being immediately tackled before being able to possess of the ball from the stoppage was more often than earlier in the game, with Launceston ramping up the defensive pressure to try and get back in the game. Belbin did win a last touch late in the match, with her trademark contested ball win from the stoppage, charging off, being tackled but still getting her hands free for a handball to teammates.

TOTAL STATS: 11 kicks, 14 handballs, 25 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 frees for, 2 frees against, 1 behind

SUMMARY:

Candice Belbin’s game was impressive, with the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft prospect having some draftable traits, particularly with her running, contested ball-winning ability and power from a stoppage. She does need to continue to clean up the execution by foot, but aside from that, there was not too much to fault in her performance, with her hands through contact and decision making by hand both good. She also found space well, able to win the ball inside or outside, and in each third of the game. With plenty of time until the NAB League Girls season starts, Belbin has the raw attributes to show promise next year.

Picture credit: Simon Sturzaker via The Advocate

McLeay’s GIANT opportunity

VERSATILE tall Isadora McLeay has earned her chance at the elite level after GWS GIANTS chose her to replace Emily Goodsir this week. Goodsir, who announced her pregancy post AFLW Draft, was placed on the inactive list for the 2022 season, allowing the GIANTS to select another player to fill their list. They opted to go for the 2021 AFLW Under 19 All-Australian full-back who enjoyed a great carnival for the Allies.

McLeay averaged 16.5 disposals, 3.0 marks and 2.5 rebound 50s during the two-game carnival, though her offensive output was still an area she was looking to build. GIANTS fans will enjoy watching her one-on-one ability, with a powerful, accurate kick and a reliable set of defensive traits. She is also strong overhead, and capable of playing up either end, making her a valuable talent for the orange and charcoal.

Turning 18 next week, McLeay stands at 178cm and will likely fill a key position role in defence, but can swing forward if required to do so. Draft Central spoke to McLeay at the 2021 AFLW Under 19 Championships after the Allies’ loss to Western Australia, ahead of their game with South Australia.

See the full interview below.

2022 AFLW early look: Western Bulldogs

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Wrapping up the series is Western Bulldogs, who finished narrowly outside the top six, four points and percentage behind, but strung four wins together early in the year.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 8th
Wins: 5
Losses: 4
Draws: 0
Points For: 300 (9th)
Points Against: 340 (9th)

No doubt Western Bulldogs fans might have wondered ‘what if?’ they had been able to knock off St Kilda in the opening round of the season, instead going down by nine points, They got on a roll to win the next four games – including a memorable 13-point win over the Demons – before having a couple of wakeup calls against Collingwood (in the second half) and Adelaide which hurt their percentage. A narrow loss to North Melbourne in Round 7 effectively handed the Roos sixth spot, though the young Pups showed they have plenty to look forward to in the coming years.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Elle Bennetts (GWS), Richelle Cranston (Geelong), Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers), Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers), Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Outs: Angelica Gogos, Lauren Spark, Amelia Van Oosterwijck (retired), Katy Herron, Danielle Marshall, Kim Rennie (delisted)

Inactive: Nil.

The Western Bulldogs were able to have a relatively low-key off-season in terms of movement, with Elle Bennetts being the only trade target coming into the club, welcoming the outside runner from the GIANTS and shuffling back down the pick order. There they were able to make three selections in five picks to welcome in some young troops to replace the outgoing retirees and delistees. Katy Herron and Danielle Marshall were two of the three delisted players, with the latter in particular a surprising cut, with Kim Rennie unable to get a deal done to the Roos in trade week, and instead was picked up by North Melbourne in the AFLW Draft. Three players retired with Angelica Gogos and Lauren Spark having memorable careers, whilst youngster Amelia Van Oosterwijck also decided to call time. Post-trade week, Richelle Cranston was quickly snapped up from the Cats as a delisted free agent to add extra punch to the Bulldogs’ lineup inside 50, and then the Dogs went about getting the need for speed in the AFLW Draft. With their three selections, they picked up Oakleigh Chargers’ best on ground in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, Amanda Ling. Tipped to go as high as Top 5 leading into the draft, Ling slid into the second round where the Dogs scooped her up with fellow top-ager, Elizabeth Snell. Aurora Smith completed the trio of speedsters, with an outstanding season playing on a wing for Murray Bushrangers.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Deanna Berry
Elle Bennetts
Ellie Blackburn
Eleanor Brown
Richelle Cranston
Naomi Ferres
Jess Fitzgerald
Ellyse Gamble
Elisabeth Georgostathis
Isabella Grant
Ashleigh Guest
Britney Gutknecht
Sarah Hartwig
Bailey Hunt
Isabel Huntington
Gemma Lagioia
Kirsty Lamb
Amanda Ling
Brooke Lochland
Katie Lynch
Kirsten McLeod
Celine Moody
Nell Morris-Dalton
Gabby Newton
Isabella Pritchard
Hannah Scott
Aurora Smith
Elizabeth Snell
Annabel Strahan
Bonnie Toogood

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can the Western Bulldogs force their way into finals in 2022?
  • Will the inclusion of Cranston allow less pressure on their key position options?
  • Will the dominant VFLW talents like Britney Gutknecht (six total AFLW games), Isabelle Pritchard (four) and Isabella Grant (two) take that next step and become AFLW regulars?

PREDICTION:

Western Bulldogs are a side that will be one to keep an eye on over the coming years. There is every chance the Pups graduate into finalists, and should at the very least, contend for AFLW finals again. They will likely be another year off being a title contender, but they are certainly building in the right direction, and their core of youth is as good as any other side in the competition. If they continue their upward trend, expect them to arrive sooner, rather than later.

Picture credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: West Coast

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is West Coast, who finished 12th overall with two wins for the season, narrowly getting past Gold Coast (one point) and then smashing Geelong (39 points) to rightfully sit above those teams on the table.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 12th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Draws: 0
Points For: 229 (12th)
Points Against: 432 (13th)

West Coast managed to move the equivalent one spot higher than their 2020 Conference wooden spoon, walking away with a 12th placed finish in 2021. They had a number of talents continue their rise in tandem with the side, lead by young gun Mikayla Bowen who took out the club’s best and fairest award. After Hayley Bullas won the leading goalkicker award in 2020 with a measly two goals, Grace Kelly became a consistent source of scores with seven for the season, though the West Australian side will be looking for more in 2022 in order to rise up the ladder. Losing star midfielder Dana Hooker to injury certainly did not help the Eagles’ cause either.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Evie Gooch (Fremantle), Aimee Schmidt (GWS), Charlie Thomas (Subiaco), Courtney Rowley, Beth Schilling (Peel Thunder), Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts), Emily Bennett (Claremont)
Outs: Mhicca Carter, Beatrice Devlyn, McKenzie Dowrick, Brianna Green, Alicia Janz, Demi Liddle, Julie-Anne Norrish, Kate Orme, Chantella Perera, Katelyn Pope (delisted)

Inactive: Nil.

West Coast had plenty of list turnover through the AFLW Draft, with a focus on bringing in the most talented teenagers they could. Whilst the Dockers balanced between youth and experience for their draft selections, the Eagles went straight to replenish the youth, with a key focus on class and height, which were areas that the young West Australian side lacked throughout the 2021 AFLW season. They delisted 10 players at the end of the season, with a number of first-year experienced players amongst them. In the process, the Eagles picked up Dockers talent Evie Gooch to assist with some replenishment of experience, whilst the GIANTS’ Aimee Schmidt made the cross-county trip to run out with the blue and gold. Then, the Eagles headed to the draft with three of the first four selections, and wrapping up their picks midway through Fremantle’s draft haul, giving them best chance to select top-end talents. Despite only playing one game for the year, Subiaco’s Charlotte Thomas was plucked out with the Eagles’ first selection, and then was joined by fellow AFLW Academy member Courtney Rowley. Both provide class and skill around the ground, as well as crucial versatility. Tall timber Sarah Lakay and Beth Schilling are contested marking options and athletic players around the ground, while Emily Bennett is a tough defender with great natural footballing ability.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Ashlee Atkins
Emily Bennett
Mikayla Bowen
Tayla Bresland
Hayley Bullas
Imahra Cameron
Melissa Caulfield
Maddy Collier
Shanae Davison
Lauren Gauci
Kellie Gibson
Andrea Gilmore
Evie Gooch
Courtney Guard
Ashton Hill
Dana Hooker
Grace Kelly
Niamh Kelly
Sarah Lakay
Parris Laurie
Bella Lewis
Aisling McCarthy
Sophie McDonald
Courtney Rowley
Beth Schilling
Aimee Schmidt
Belinda Smith
Emma Swanson
Charlie Thomas
Amber Ward

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How much can the elite youth drive the Eagles up the ladder in 2022?
  • How will West Coast limit the opposition from scoring moreso than last season?
  • Where will Courtney Rowley be utilised? Inside, outside or on a flank at either end?

PREDICTION:

West Coast are still a little way off competing for an AFLW flag, but are on the right track and the youth the Eagles have assembled over the last few years will be ready to stand up against quality opposition more and more. If they can reduce the damage and apply more potency on the scoreboard in 2022, then they will provide hope for future seasons. The Eagles should be an exciting team, lead by the five first-year teenagers walking into the club who will immediately provide a boost for the West Australian team.

Picture credit: (Retrieved from) West Coast FC

2022 AFLW early look: St Kilda

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is St Kilda who finished 11th in the 2021 AFLW season, though blooded a host of young players to continue building their side for the future.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 11th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Points For: 272 (10th)
Points Against: 391 (11th)

St Kilda was one of the more exciting sides to watch in the AFLW for 2021, though unfortunately it did not always translate into wins. Their Round 1 victory over Western Bulldogs in front of a home RSEA Park crowd was fantastic, with their two other wins coming against Geelong and West Coast. The latter was the most impressive, belting the Eagles by 56 points over in the West, but their 40-plus point losses to the top sides like Adelaide, Melbourne and Collingwood showed the gap they still have to make up to challenge for a flag.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Alana Woodward (Richmond), Paige Price (Basketball, rookie), Ella Friend (GWV Rebels), Ash Richards (Dandenong Stingrays), Leah Cutting (Norwood)
Outs: Poppy Kelly (Richmond), Claudia Whitfort (Gold Coast), Selena Karlson (retired), Alison Brown, Clara Fitzpatrick, Tamara Luke, Nadia von Bertouch (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

St Kilda had a relatively quiet off-season, and were able to head into the draft with a high selection inside the Top 5, the second overall Victorian pick. With another pick in the first round and just three spots overall by the time it came to the draft, it was always going to be uneventful in terms of volume, but they made up for it with the top-end quality. Prior to the draft the Saints bid farewell to Poppy Kelly who headed to the Tigers to provide extra ruck depth there and replace the outgoing Sabrina Frederick, while Claudia Whitfort went to Gold Coast, and Selena Karlson retired. The Saints then delisted a further four players, with Alison Brown eventually picked up by Melbourne, and the likes of Clara Fitzpatrick, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch also not handed contracts for the 2022 season. In the AFLW Draft, the Saints selected key forward Ella Friend as a marking target who can also push up and play along a wing, with a similarly valuable prospect in Ash Richards who is capable of playing inside 50, or up the ground rolling through the midfield. The Dandenong Stingrays co-captain has natural leadership in her veins, something that both she and Norwood ruck Leah Cutting – at 29-years-old – will immediately add to the club. At the other end of the scale is basketballer Paige Price, with the talented up-and-comer opting to have a crack at Australian rules

2022 TEAM LIST:

Alice Burke
Leah Cutting
Rosie Dillon
Nat Exon
Ella Friend
Caitlin Greiser
Darcy Guttridge
Bianca Jakobsson
Tilly Lucas-Rodd
Jess Matin
Kate McCarthy
Molly McDonald
Tahlia Meyer
Rebecca Ott
Georgia Patrikios
Cat Phillips
Paige Price
Hannah Priest
Ash Richards
Renee Saulitis
Isabella Shannon
Kate Shierlaw
Tyanna Smith
Jayde Van Dyk
Olivia Vesely
Jacqui Vogt
Rhiannon Watt
Tarni White
Alana Woodward
Nicola Xenos

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Will Ella Friend and Ash Richards be the key to more avenues to goal for St Kilda in 2022?
  • Can Leah Cutting crack straight into the senior side, easing the load on Rhiannon Watt?
  • What will new coach Nick Dal Santo change in terms of gamestyle next season?

PREDICTION:

St Kilda are definitely one of the more exciting teams to watch, and whilst they are still young and learning the ropes, the Saints are expected to continue the upward trajectory in 2021. Georgia Patrikios is already amongst the game’s elites, and with multiple contested marking forwards in Friend and Caitlin Greiser, the Saints have the targets inside 50 – including the smalls at their feet – to kick winning scores. If they can tighten up defensively and not allow sides to kick away on them, then expect the Saints to pick up some more wins next season.

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW early look: Richmond

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Richmond, that after collecting the 2020 wooden spoon, rose up to 10th on the AFL Women’s ladder.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 10th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Points For: 312 (8th)
Points Against: 369 (10th)

Richmond certainly showed plenty of improvement in 2021, with a young side building and winning their first ever matches after going winless in the 2020 season. The Tigers were able to score more fluently than the season before, and whilst at times they still struggled defensively, were able to finish outside the bottom four and only a couple of wins behind finals aspirants Carlton and the Western Bulldogs, and will now look to build on that effort to go into 2022.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Maddie Shevlin (Collingwood), Poppy Kelly (St Kilda), Jess Hosking (Carlton), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons), Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons), Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne VFLW)
Outs: Sabrina Frederick (Collingwood), Alice Edmonds, Emily Harley, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Cleo Saxon-Jones, Holly Whitford, Phoebe Monahan, Alana Woodward (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

Richmond was able to remain fairly active during the off-season with the first two, and last deals done throughout the trade period. Maddie Shevlin switched her white stripes for a singular yellow one coming from the Magpies, in a deal that saw tall, Sabrina Frederick head to Collingwood. Richmond also brought in Poppy Kelly to replace the loss of height at the club, with the former Saint, and Carlton’s Jess Hosking the other players from opposing AFL Women’s teams. Hosking was a deadline deal to join her sister Sarah at the Tigers after a year apart. Richmond was not going to go easy on its list however, with eight delistees, and three of them found homes at AFLW level again. Akec Makur Chuot was redrafted by the Tigers with their last selection, while Phoebe Monahan was signed by Brisbane, and Alana Woodward heading to the Saints. Some young tall timber in Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones were delisted along with first-year player Luka Lesosky-Hay, ex-Magpie Holly Whitford, and ruck Alice Edmonds. Richmond then headed to the draft where they were able to pick up high quality youngsters, starting with Oakleigh Chargers’ utility Stella Reid who will provide the outside class, whilst Calder Cannons hard-nosed midfielder Emelia Yassir will add that inside pressure. Geelong Falcons’ Ingrid Houtsma is another tall utility giving the Tigers flexibility, whilst North Melbourne VFLW captain Meagan Kiely was also rewarded for her outstanding season, drafted by the Tigers.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Christina Bernardi
Maddy Brancatisano
Katie Brennan
Hannah Burchell
Monique Conti
Harriet Cordner
Sarah D’Arcy
Sarah Dargan
Kate Dempsey
Jess Hosking
Sarah Hosking
Ingrid Houtsma
Kodi Jacques
Poppy Kelly
Meagan Kiely
Tessa Lavey
Akec Makur Chuot
Laura McClelland
Ellie McKenzie
Hannah McLaren
Rebecca Miller
Sophie Molan
Stella Reid
Iilish Ross
Sarah Sansonetti
Gabby Seymour
Maddie Shevlin
Tayla Stahl
Courtney Wakefield
Emelia Yassir

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can Richmond make the next step and challenge for a finals spot?
  • How will they address the defensive woes of 2021?
  • Is the midfield now one of the better young crops for the future?

PREDICTION:

Richmond showed significant progress in 2021 after a rude awakening in 2020. The Tigers were able to blood a number of young talents to drive the club forward, and with some experience added to the side again, expect the women from Punt Road to continue that trajectory. The defence still has a question mark over it, as does the talls after losing – through trade and delisting – four key position players and only gaining one genuine one – Kelly – back, but they have the speed to go with a quicker lineup, and will be likely looking to adopt that style once again in 2022 as they strive to challenge for finals.

Picture credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2022 AFLW Draft – Teams to Watch: Oakleigh Chargers

IN a new series looking towards the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft, we take a look at some teams that have outstanding prospects who showed plenty of promise in their bottom-age years to suggest the team might have plenty of potential for the next season. We continue with Oakleigh Chargers, who have plenty of depth and a number of players already experiencing Vic Metro duties through the Under 17s with a massive six players named, and another young star among the brightest prospects next year.

KEY PLAYERS:

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

If you know, you know. Fleming only played the last three games of the season and won a flag for her troubles, but her talent is undeniable. The dual sportsperson who has also juggled her football with cricket – unsurprisingly following in her famous father Damien‘s footsteps (while her mother Wendy (nee O’Donnell) represented Australia Diamonds in netball at Under 21s) – looms as one of the best AFLW Draft prospects next season. She stands at 165cm, has already looked good as a midfielder or forward, and moves well, can hit the scoreboard and has class personified. Turning 17 in November, Fleming has enormous upside, and is the player that could take the competition by storm next season. She averaged 20 disposals, four tackles, 3.7 inside 50s and a goal a game from her three matches – two of them being finals against quality opposition – to really stamp her authority on the competition at just 16 years of age.

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

A tall midfielder who stands at 177cm, Taylor is a similar build to this year’s number one draft selection Charlie Rowbottom. Spending some time in defence where she averaged more than two rebound 50s per game, Taylor showed she will likely be a starting midfielder from Round 1 next season, and be tasked with the ability to get it out of congestion and forward. She caught the eye on a number of occasions moving the ball in transition, and she is a fierce tackler, averaging almost five tackles per game. Much like Fleming, Taylor has already tasted premiership glory, and played six games throughout the year after playing both in her Under 16s season.

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

A small midfielder who provides plenty of class and zip, Hart is the player who will receive the handball from congestion and take off to distribute down the field. She played all 11 games last season for the Chargers, becoming a rock solid option amongst some pretty talented players when running around. She averaged the 11.5 disposals and 3.2 tackles per game, with a round an inside 50 and rebound 50 per match as well, covering the ground. Hart is another of the Chargers’ brigade expected to lift as one of the more experienced members of the side. Also representing Vic Metro, Hart averaged eight disposals and 4.5 tackles at the Under 17 Championships.

OTHERS:

Oakleigh Chargers had no shortage of players on top of the above trio, with another seven representatives all playing nine or more NAB League Girls matches in 2021. Charlotte Van Der Vlies and Mia Clift played predominantly midfield and defence respectively, running out in every match for the premiers, and earned Vic Metro honours. Jemma Rigoni and Jade McCormack (10 games each) were other defenders who finished with double-digit matches, as Ameille Smith booted seven goals in nine games. Ruby Vandenboom stands at 187cm and is a project ruck, playing three matches and was selected for Metro. Otherwise, Emily Tassiopoulous became a regular in the team as a bottom-ager playing 10 matches. Rianna Thiele, Grace Osborne and Gabriella Rawlings were 04-born talents who managed to taste NAB League Girls action with a couple of games each.

2022 AFLW early look: North Melbourne

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is North Melbourne, a team that scraped into the last finals spot, but were not far off the minor premiership either, and ranked in the top three defensively.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 6th
Wins: 6
Losses: 3
Draws: 0
Points For: 379 (5th)
Points Against: 202 (3rd)

North Melbourne have perpetually been considered a contender in the AFL Women’s competition, and 2021 was no different. Despite finishing sixth, the Roos were only one win and percentage off top spot such was the evenness of the competition, and a result here or there could have changed the finals outlook. As it stood, the Roos were beaten by a fast-finishing Collingwood in the finals series, though were able to match-up against most sides, with the Magpies causing them the most trouble during the season. The ranked inside the top five for both points for and least points conceded, with very few holes across the board, and a title-winning side on paper. It might not have gone the way they would have liked, but the Roos were able to provide young players with more games as they did during the VFLW season.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons), Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers), Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs), Jasmine Ferguson (Collingwood VFLW), Perri King, Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)
Outs: Vivien Saad (Gold Coast), Jasmine Grierson (GWS), Katelyn Cox, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Georgia Hammond, Beth Lynch, Tahni Nestor (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

North Melbourne had a fairly uneventful trade period, with only a couple of players departing the club and none arriving in that time. Ruck Vivien Saad headed north to play with the Suns, and Jasmine Grierson found her third club at the GWS GIANTS. The Roos tried to get Western Bulldogs ruck Kim Rennie into the club during the trade period, but the clubs could not come to terms, though North Melbourne eventually got their player via the AFL Women’s Draft. There, they also picked up mature-age talent Jasmine Ferguson to replace key defender Kate Gillespie-Jones, with the latter among five players to be delisted. Those included inaugural Roo Beth Lynch, Tahni Nestor, and first-year Roos Katelyn Cox and Georgia Hammond, the former taken as an injury replacement player prior to the 2021 AFLW season. Heading to the draft and having access to the Tasmanian zone, North Melbourne were able to pick up AFL Women’s Academy member Perri King and her Devils’ teammate Ella Maurer. King would have a case as the biggest steal of the draft, though she was far from the only one for the Roos. Tess Craven was touted to go top 10 and Tara Slender was another terrific first round prospect, and the Roos were able to snap up both for below value. Able to add extra elements to their midfield, forward and defence, North Melbourne was able to nail the draft well.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Abbatangelo
Kaitlyn Ashmore
Daria Bannister
Daisy Bateman
Brooke Brown
Nicole Bresnehan
Jenna Bruton
Grace Campbell
Tess Craven
Jess Duffin
Bella Eddey
Jasmine Ferguson
Jasmine Garner
Ellie Gavalas
Britt Gibson
Aileen Gilroy
Danielle Hardiman
Emma Kearney
Elisha King
Emma King
Mia King
Perri King
Ella Maurer
Alice O’Loughlin
Tahlia Randall
Kim Rennie
Ash Riddell
Tara Slender
Amy Smith
Sarah Wright

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can North Melbourne finally make the next step and reach the AFLW Grand Final?
  • How many of their first-year young guns will crack into the senior side in 2022?
  • What percentage of the game will Emma King play forward compared to ruck next season?

PREDICTION:

North Melbourne has very few flaws in its team, so expect the Roos to be right up there when the whips are cracking. After initially building a side to win in 2019, North has steadily filtered in more youth to replace outgoing players and has a list that will compete with the very best. Led by Emma Kearney, Jasmine Garner and Ash Riddell in the midfield, on paper North Melbourne could easily be favourites for the title, but premierships are not won on paper. Expect the new kids on the block to be more readymade than ever before, and the Roos to be an incredibly exciting side to watch in 2022.

Picture credit: Michael Dodge / AAP

2022 AFLW early look: Melbourne

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Next up is Melbourne, a side that despite being young and losing a lot of experience over the previous off-season, were able to match it with the best and finish top four, and win a final.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 4th
Wins: 7
Losses: 2
Draws: 0
Points For: 382 (4th)
Points Against: 293 (6th)

Melbourne fast-tracked what appeared to be a long rebuild, by bringing in the young guns they drafted and giving them opportunities, as well as shuffling around the magnets for their experienced talents. Having lost a number of key players for draft selections the previous off-season, not many would have predicted Melbourne to stay around the mark, and they not only did that but remained a premiership threat, only going down to Adelaide in the preliminary final. They still had areas to tighten up such as consistency in their defence, but they were able to match it with the best sides and with further experience added this off-season, the Demons are one of the genuine title contenders.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Olivia Purcell (Geelong), Tayla Harris (Carlton), Eliza West, Alison Brown (Casey Demons), Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges), Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
Outs: Tegan Cunningham, Meg Downie, Niamh McEvoy, Shae Sloane (retired), Chantel Emonson (Geelong), Mietta Kendall (delisted)
Inactive: Nil.

Much like the previous season, there were plenty of names leaving the club, highlighted by inaugural Demons, Tegan Cunningham and Meg Downie, who joined a quartet of retirees including Niamh McEvoy and Shae Sloane. Chantel Emonson also headed to the Cats in a deal that netted them star young midfielder Olivia Purcell, whilst first-year defender Mietta Kendall was the other player to cut by the club. Along with Purcell, the Demons were able to haul in a Cunningham replacement in the higher-profile Tayla Harris who found her way to the Demons in the most publicised talking point of the trade period. Harris provides the additional height and strength in the forward half, something that draftees, Tahlia Gillard and Georgia Campbell do as well. Campbell is a father-daughter selection who picked the Demons over the Bulldogs, whilst Gillard is an AFL Women’s Academy member, and both can play through the ruck or forward. Gillard’s 190cm size was the tallest of any AFLW draftee, and the pari will make a formidable duo for the future. The Demons also picked up ex-Blue and Saint Alison Brown to come to her third club after some strong performances for Casey Demons in the back-end of the season. She joined VFL Women’s teammate and former basketballer Eliza West who had an amazing season, in the red and blue.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Alyssa Bannan
Libby Birch
Alison Brown
Maggie Caris
Georgia Campbell
Gabby Colvin
Megan Fitzsimon
Maddi Gay
Tahlia Gillard
Sinead Goldrick
Tayla Harris
Tyla Hanks
Shelley Heath
Kate Hore
Sarah Lampard
Lauren Magee
Eliza McNamara
Lily Mithen
Jackie Parry
Karen Paxman
Daisy Pearce
Lauren Pearce
Krstel Petrevski
Olivia Purcell
Shelley Scott
Casey Sherriff
Isabella Simmons
Brenna Tarrant
Eliza West
Eden Zanker

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • How will the Demons shape their forward line with so many talls potentially capable of sliding in?
  • How much impact can Olivia Purcell having coming off an ACL?
  • Will Maggie Caris be given the reins to more and team up with Eden Zanker there?

PREDICTION:

Melbourne is arguably the dark horse for the AFL Women’s competition. They are one of the younger teams going around, with a sprinkling of veteran talents led by Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman who are still elite talents themselves. With the youth filtering through, the Demons have the opportunity to build a long-term successful side, and will be a team to watch in 2022. Whilst all the youth will make team selection very difficult, expect them to have plenty of options going into the future, with a potent forward line and an elite midfield.

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos