Category: VFL

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 3 – Debutants continue to roll through

WITH the NAB League in the midst of a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun filtering into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects have already made their state league debuts, with more to come, while members of all four Northern Academies also got some run in their legs. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football levels.

>> INSIGHT | Which 19-year-olds have improved their stocks?

Debuts have been synonymous with Collingwood of late, and the Magpies continued the theme by fielding another fresh face through the state league system. Mid-season draft fancy Ned Moyle came into the side and looked comfortable in his usual ruck post, winning 11 hitouts and taking four marks among his eight disposals. The 19-year-old Oakleigh product was joined by Chargers teammate Youseph Dib in the Magpies’ three-point win over Gold Coast. Dib, a Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect, booted two goals as he played mostly forward of centre once again.

Leaning on their Academy stocks, the Suns also continue to blood a good amount of youngsters. Leading draft prospect Austin Harris returned after his AFL Academy commitments, notching eight disposals and four marks as he rotated further afield from the forwardline. Bigman Will Bella, the brother of Suns AFLW ruck Lauren, clunked seven marks and booted a goal, while Bodhi Uwland also took seven marks among his 12 touches. 2002-born players including Bailey Reeves, Jack Johnston, and Thomas Hofert also ran out for the Suns in their narrow loss.

The Western Bulldogs were too strong for a gallant Preston Bullants outfit on Saturday afternoon, as both sides gave berths to promising NAB League products. Cody Raak suited up for his second game in red, white, and blue, with the defender bringing his marking game to the fore. He took seven grabs and delivered nine of his 10 disposals by foot. Developing Calder Cannons tall Liam Podhajski was another to make his VFL debut in Round 3, battling against AFL-listed opposition for Preston to finish with four disposals and 10 hitouts.

A relatively young Brisbane outfit went down to Coburg on Sunday afternoon, with a raft of Academy graduates and members filling the squad at present. 18-year-old small Daniel Lanthois booted a goal in his maiden VFL appearance, as the youngest player afield. A bunch of 2002-born players also ran out for the Lions; Will Tasker had 19 disposals and five marks, Saxon Crozier and Toby Triffett both claimed 16 touches, while Tahj Abberley had it 14 times (11 kicks), Charlie Bowes kicked a couple of behinds, and Jack Briskey took three marks from 11 disposals in the defeat.

Essendon is another club which has turned to youth to good effect and despite going down to Carlton on Sunday, yielded good results from their NAB League talents. In their second outings, nippy Bendigo Pioneers pair Sam Conforti (23 disposals, one goal) and Jack Hickman (17 disposals, four marks) both impressed, working hard for their keep. Pios’ skipper Jack Evans made his debut in the sash and ended with five marks from 10 touches, while fellow debutant Billy Cootee (Western Jets) also found it 10 times and booted a goal.

Elsewhere, Sandringham Dragons co-captain Darby Hipwell enjoyed a second outing for the Zebras, despite their loss to Box Hill. He worked hard for 18 disposals and eight marks, which included a couple of nice moments. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy standout Josh Green, the brother of Tom, again turned out for the Giants, ticking up to 17 disposals in his side’s win over Southport.

Image Credit: Morgan Hancock/AFL Photos

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 9

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolled on into its ninth round over the weekend, with five of the six fixtures played on Saturday afternoon. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 9 action, as AFLW-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS: VFLW Round 9 wrap

It was no surprise to see Geelong ball magnet Laura Gardiner in the thick of things during her side’s thumping win over Western Bulldogs, with the first year midfielder gathering a round-high 27 disposals. In the same game, senior-listed Bulldog Sarah Hartwig got her hands dirty with 12 tackles, a feat matched by Collingwood’s Caitlin Bunker, while Danielle Marshall topped the kicking charts as 19 of her team-high 22 touches were delivered via foot.

Another couple of AFLW-listed talents opted to distribute by hand, helping form a trio of players to finish with highs of 13 handballs. Carlton’s Abbie McKay came in for her first state league game of the year and stood up in the Blues’ loss to Essendon, while Sarah Lampard got her hands on the ball for Casey and Aimee Whelan was busy as Williamstown went down heavily to Collingwood.

Spearheading the Magpies’ assault was Abbi Moloney, one of two key position forwards to snare four goals in Round 9. The young tall was matched by Port Melbourne’s Emily Harley, who has been delisted by Richmond during the AFLW off-season. Other talls to prosper included North Melbourne’s Vivien Saad, who clunked eight marks, as Seagulls ruck Elizabeth McGrath recorded a mammoth 58 hitouts.

In terms of the season leaderboard, VFLW-listed players unsurprisingly lead the way. The terrific individual seasons of Eliza West (Casey) and Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) are reflected on the stats sheet, with both topping two categories. West leads the competition for disposals (average 22.6) and handballs (10.1), while Kiely has the most kicks (average 15.9) and marks (4.2). Another Demon in Imogen Milford remains the leading goalkicker with 15 after adding two on Saturday, and it is no surprise to see that Port’s Courteney Bromage is only one tackle shy of cracking the ton in 2021.

Find the full list of Round 9, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 9 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Laura Gardiner* (Geelong) – 27

Kicks:
Danielle Marshall* (Western Bulldogs) – 19

Handballs:
Sarah Lampard* (Casey) – 13
Abbie McKay* (Carlton) – 13
Aimee Whelan (Williamstown) – 13

Goals:
Emily Harley (Port Melbourne) – 4
Abbi Moloney* (Collingwood) – 4

Marks:
Vivien Saad* (North Melbourne) – 8

Tackles:
Caitlin Bunker (Collingwood) – 12
Sarah Hartwig* (Western Bulldogs) – 12

Hitouts:
Elizabeth McGrath (Williamstown) – 58

* – denotes AFLW-listed.

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Eliza West (Casey) – 203 total / 22.6 average

Kicks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 143 / 15.9

Handballs:
Eliza West (Casey) – 91 / 10.1

Goals:
Imogen Milford (Casey) – 15 / 1.7

Marks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 38 / 4.2

Tackles:
Courteney Bromage (Port Melbourne) – 99 / 11.0

Hitouts:
Jorja Borg (Carlton) – 186 / 23.3

* – denotes AFLW-listed.

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 3

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its third round over the weekend, with 11 fixtures spread from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 3 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS: State League wrap

Usual forward Jake Riccardi swung into defence for GWS on Sunday and had a blinder, seeing him top the league for kicks and marks in Round 3. The 21-year-old racked up 40 disposals, with 31 of them delivered by foot and 19 earned via marks. His dynamic performance helped the Giants to a 30-point win over Southport, their first for the season.

It was no surprise to see Coburg ball magnet Marcus Lentini again tick over the 40-disposal mark, this time managing 42 against Brisbane in what was a battle of the Lions. The mid-season draft hopeful was just pipped atop the handball charts on the weekend by Gold Coast’s Will Brodie, who dished out 22 in the Suns’ narrow loss to Collingwood. In the same game, first year Magpie Reef McInnes got his hands dirty with a round-high 11 tackles.

Elsewhere, competition leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann upped his season average (5.3) with a bag of six majors as Aspley went down to Frankston. The effort accounted for over half of the Hornets’ score, brining Hammelmann’s season tally to 16 after three games. Western Bulldogs ruck Jordon Sweet also excelled in his field, feasting to win 38 hitouts against inexperienced Northern Bullants’ talls.

Looking at the season leaders, Frankston jet Nathan Freeman has served a reminder of his class in 2021 with a clean run, topping the league for disposals and kicks. Jacob Dawson is another former AFL player finding plenty of ball, distributing more than any other player thus far by hand. Hammelmann and Casey’s James Munro are the other state leaguers topping charts, while AFL-listed bigmen Connor Ballenden and Ned Reeves have the most marks and hitouts respectively.

Find the full list of Round 3, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 3 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 42

Kicks:
Jake Riccardi* (GWS) – 31

Handballs:
Will Brodie* (Gold Coast) – 22

Goals:
Matt Hammelmann** (Aspley) – 6

Marks:
Jake Riccardi* (GWS) – 19

Tackles:
Reef McInnes* (Collingwood) – 11

Hitouts:
Jordon Sweet* (Footscray) – 38

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 117 total / 39.0 average

Kicks:
Nathan Freeman (Frankston) – 78 / 26.0

Handballs:
Jacob Dawson (Southport) – 56 / 18.7

Goals:
Matt Hammelmann (Aspley) – 16 / 5.3

Marks:
Connor Ballenden* (Brisbane) – 34 / 11.3

Tackles:
James Munro (Casey) – 28 / 9.3

Hitouts:
Ned Reeves* (Box Hill) – 118 / 39.3

* – denotes AFL-listed.
** – denotes season leader.

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 9 wrap: Contenders solidify the top six

EACH of the current top six Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s sides earned wins in Round 9, as the ladder positions grow increasingly rigid. Among the victors, Essendon, Geelong, and Collingwood all flexed their muscle to come away over 50 points to the good, hitting top form with finals time now just over a month away. We take you through the results from all six fixtures, five of which were played on a super Saturday.

>> ONE-STOP SITE: VFLW page 

ESSENDON 2.4 | 6.9 | 6.11 | 10.12 (72)
CARLTON 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

Essendon solidified its standing in the top six with a thumping win over traditional rival, Carlton on Saturday morning, coming away 53-point victors at Windy Hill. A six-goal to two first half meant the Bombers were well on top and while the Blues managed to bring it back to an arm-wrestle in term three, they had few answers for Essendon’s forward firepower and depth across the field.

Skipper Georgia Nanscawen continued her spectacular season with 24 touches and nine tackles to earn full votes for the Bombers, while Federica Frew led a brigade of eight individual goalkickers with three majors. Also among the goalkickers, Brisbane-listed gun Ruby Svarc returned in the red and black with aplomb, as Mia-Rae Clifford looked lively for her 1.3 from 12 touches.

On a tough day for the Blues, senior-listed midfield pair proved a class above the rest in midfield. Abbie McKay notched a game-high 26 disposals and 10 tackles in her first VFLW hitout for the year, supported well by Grace Egan who added 19 touches and a goal. Courtney Jones was another of Carlton’s three goalkickers, staying busy despite her side’s low score.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 3, M. Clifford, K. Heil, R. Svarc, J. Davies, L. Stepnell, T. Crook, N. MacDonald
Carlton: G. Egan, S. Lawrence, C. Jones

BEST:

Essendon: G. Nanscawen, E. Hosking, F. Frew, R. Svarc, J. Davies, S. Nalder
Carlton: A. McKay, C. Jones, P. Trudgeon, C. Hammans, E. Honybun, G. Egan

DAREBIN FALCONS 2.2 | 4.2 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.5 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 8.10 (58)

Port Melbourne bounced back onto the winners list on Saturday morning, but was made to earn it against a plucky Darebin Falcons outfit at Bill Lawry Oval. After the Falcons made better of their chances to draw level at half time, the Borough managed to edge ahead at the last break before kicking away in term four to secure the 24-point away victory. The result keeps Port firmly in second spot.

Richmond-listed youngster Sophie Molan earned full votes for the Borough with an equal-game high 20 disposals, matched by Courteney Bromage. Recently delisted Tigers forward Emily Harley served a reminder of her potential with four goals, as Katherine Smith slotted seamlessly into the Borough side with 17 touches and five tackles.

For the Falcons, Victoria Blackwood was the third player on the day to notch 20 disposals, supported well by those with AFLW experience in Jess Dal Pos and Nicole Callinan, who each managed 18 touches. Alice Caddy was Darebin’s sole multiple goalkicker, booting three to make up over half of her side’s overall score.

GOALS:

Darebin: A. Caddy 3, A. Reibelt, J. Dal Pos
Port Melbourne: E. Harley 4, S. Locke, L. McClelland, N. Borg, S. Molan

BEST:

Darebin: V. Blackwood, K. Hazlett, J. Dal Pos, N. Callinan, A. Lister, A. Caddy
Port Melbourne: S. Molan, E. Harley, C. Bromage, C. Dyett, S. Frederick, M. Kuys

GEELONG 4.1 | 9.5 | 11.5 | 15.9 (99)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)

Geelong fell just short of registering a ton in its comprehensive win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, extending the Cats’ win streak to five while ending the Dogs’ two-game run. Having shot out of the blocks with nine goals to nil in a first half romp at Deakin University, the Cats never looked back and rode out the match comfortable 75-point victors.

Four of the Cats’ eight individual goalkickers snared multiples, with Georgia Clarke and Richelle Cranston doing the most damage in a riotous outing. Single goalkicker Annabel Johnson was named Geelong’s best, as Laura Gardiner accumulated a game-high 27 disposals, and Madeline Keryk and Amy McDonald both had 23.

Debutant Caitlin Sargent was among the Bulldogs’ two goalkickers, as the likes of Angelica Gogos and Danielle Marshall (both 22 disposals) led the charge. Youngsters Isabelle Pritchard (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Sarah Hartwig (13 and 12) both got their hands dirty in the loss, with the latter playing just her second VFLW game after an outstanding first senior season.

GOALS:

Geelong: G. Clarke 4, R. Cranston 3, S. Williams 2, T. Smith 2, J. Woollett, D. Moloney, A. Johnson, P. Sheppard
Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton, C. Sargent

BEST:

Geelong: A. Johnson, M. Keryk, C. Gunjaca, G. Clarke, A. McDonald, T. Smith
Bulldogs: A. Gogos, D. Marshall, S. Ruedin, S. Hartwig, I. Pritchard, G. Lagioia

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
CASEY DEMONS 3.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 | 10.8 (68)

Casey’s spot in the top six is looking more secure after a 42-point victory over North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Demons boasted a handy half time buffer and continued to apply scoreboard pressure thereafter, with the game all but over at three quarter time as they led by 53 points. North added a couple of consolation goals in term four, but were soundly beaten.

A three-pronged Demon attack of Alyssa Bannan, Imogen Milford, and Gabby Colvin produced six majors as the trio snared two apiece in a show of great firepower. Meanwhile, Eliza West led all comers with 26 disposals and also found the big sticks, as senior-listed players like Libby Birch continue to filter into the state league and make an impact.

Meg Sinclair proved North’s greatest form of response as she booted three of the Roos’ four goals in just her third game for 2021. Reni Hicks dug in to finish with 14 disposals and 10 tackles, while Meagan Kiely managed a team-high 25 touches. Currently a game outside the top six and with stiff competition behind, the Roos will have to dig deep to qualify for finals this season.

GOALS:

North: M. Sinclair 3, B. Lynch
Casey: G. Colvin 2, I. Milford 2, A. Bannan 2, M. Gay, E. West, K. Thompson, M. Harasimiuk

BEST:

North: R. Hicks, M. Sinclair, B. Lynch, S. Wright, A. Runnalls, A. Smith
Casey: E. West, L. Birch, C. Sherriff, A. Kirkwood, M. Macdonald, B. Winbanks

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.2 | 7.2 | 11.3 (69)

Collingwood extended its perfect streak in season 2021 with an ominous 67-point thumping of Williamstown on Saturday afternoon, making it eight wins on the trot. The Magpies kept their opponents goalless throughout, and scoreless for half the game while feasting at the other end with ruthless accuracy. A seven-goal second half truly put the cherry on top of a dominant performance.

The Seagulls had no answer for Abbi Moloney, who snagged four goals from 16 disposals in a best afield display. The young tall was joined by Matilda Zander and Sophie Alexander in the goals as they both booted three and featured among the winners’ votes. Sarah King also battled hard in the ruck for 28 hitouts.

Speaking of the ruck, Eliza McGrath registered a whopping 58 hitouts, as Aimee Whelan was the only Seagull to tick over 20 touches on the day. Tahlia Merrett was named best-on in the losing effort, ahead of the likes of Whelan, and pair Eliza Straford and Ruby Tripodi who combined for 16 disposals and 17 tackles.

GOALS:

Williamstown: Nil
Collingwood: A. Moloney 4, M. Zander 3, S. Alexander 3, A. Newman

BEST:

Williamstown: T. Merrett, A. Whelan, R. Tripodi, E. Straford, A. Dickie, L. Suleiman
Collingwood: A. Moloney, S. Alexander, K. Lee, J. Ferguson, M. Zander, S. King

SOUTHERN SAINTS 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.8 | 6.8 (44)
HAWTHORN 0.2 | 3.2 | 3.3 | 4.8 (32)

The Southern Saints remain clear in sixth spot after fending off a valiant Hawthorn side in Sunday’s standalone fixture, winning by 12 points at Trevor Barker Oval. Having shot to a three-goal lead at the opening break, the Saints were pegged back well in a low-scoring affair and could only edge just over a goal ahead going into the last. They held firm, extending that buffer for their fourth win of the year.

First year midfielder Alice Burke again topped the disposal charts with 21 in the red, white and black, but Alexandra Hynes (10 disposals, 15 hitouts) was named the Saints’ best. Claudia Whitfort registered a goal from her 19 touches, while the likes of Hannah Stuart and Rebecca Neaves also earned votes in the win.

Kristen Hay had arguably her best game of the year with 14 disposals and three marks, seeing her earn plaudits from the Hawthorn staff. Tamara Luke had as many hitouts as disposals (12), while Kristy Stratton again found the goals in her second game for the Hawks, and Grace McRae had a solid debut with 11 touches and five tackles.

GOALS:

Southern: T. Bohanna 2, R. Saulitis, K. Ripari, A. Harris, T. Kearns
Hawthorn: E. Gilder 2, K. Stratton, C. O’Malley

BEST:

Southern: A. Hynes, C. Whitfort, R. Neaves, A. Burke, L. Burke, H. Stuart
Hawthorn: K. Hay, T. Luke, N. Garner, S. Bolding, K. Stratton, E. Gilder

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 9 preview: Youngsters set for debut as AFLW talent filters back

SEVERAL NAB League Girls players make their Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s debuts in Round 9, as more AFL Women’s talents filter back to the state league competition.

ESSENDON vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

In the opening game of the round, Essendon and Carlton clash at Windy Hill in a weekend that will see plenty of opportunities for the rivals to go head-to-head. Ruby Svarc is a crucial in for the Bombers returning after spending her season in Queensland with the Brisbane Lions, and she could well be given the job on Grace Egan who makes her return to state level for the Blues. Searching for a win against a pretty impressive Bombers outfit this season, Carlton has also added Abbie McKay to the side, with the likes of Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans steady in the defence. Georgia Nanscawen has overcome the injury that kept her out for the past couple of weeks, whilst Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell is back for another week, with Pioneers teammate Jemma Finning named as an emergency and expected to make a VFLW debut in the coming weeks. The Bombers will be favoured in this clash with the return of Nanscawen and playing at home.

DAREBIN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 1 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder clash at midday, with the one-win Darebin team taking on a Port Melbourne side coming off its first loss to Casey Demons last week. After gaining Jess Dal Pos back from AFL Women’s last week, the Falcons will be keen to give it all they have against a pretty strong Borough outfit. Nicole Callinan has been an important inclusion for Darebin this season, with Stephanie Simpson and Samara David targets up forward. The Borough just have so much depth, and an incredible forward line led by key targets, Sabrina Frederick and Emily Harley, and reliable source of goals from Sophie Locke. Sophie Molan has returned to state level for the visitors, with GWS GIANTS’ Katherine Smith also set to make her debut for Port Melbourne, in a team that has some how found a way to get stronger. Given the inclusions for the Borough, it is hard to see them dropping this game, but it will be a great test for the Falcons.

GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 1 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

In the longest road trip of the season for the Western Bulldogs, the back-to-back winners take on an in-form Geelong outfit who remain in contention for a top two spot in this season. Since the AFL Women’s season has concluded, the Western Bulldogs have not mucked around with rotating their elite talents, and whilst Elisabeth Georgostathis rotates out of the side this week, the visitors will welcome back Isabella Grant, Isabelle Pritchard and Annabel Strahan, while Jess Fitzgerald has cheekily been named as an emergency so could well be coming into the side soon. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods comes back into the team after her three-goal debut a fortnight ago, and she will be joined by Caitlin Sargent (four goals in NAB League last week) and Trinity Skenderis. The Cats have kept a strong midfield, but have brought in Amy McDonald, whilst giving Sophie Van de Heuvel a rest. Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner still form a dominant group in there, and with Stephanie Williams, Georgia Clarke and the return of Richelle Cranston up forward, the Cats have plenty of firepower. This is a really tight game, and Geelong should be favourites, but the strength of the Bulldogs team means the visitors could cause an upset and make it three wins on the trot.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

Casey Demons showed what they are capable of last week by rolling Port Melbourne to inflict the Borough’s first defeat of the season, whilst North Melbourne dominated Carlton, keeping the Blues to just one goal for the game. With the teams coming into good form, on paper it looks to be a great match but the Demons have really stacked their side with AFL Women’s talent, as Libby Birch, Brenna Tarrant and Shelley Heath are named in defence, Eden Zanker joined Maddison Gay in the midfield, and Alyssa Bannan and Casey Sherriff are up forward. The Roos have mostly kept a consistent lineup of players on the cusp of AFLW footy, though Beth Lynch is an important cog in defence. Bella Eddey is getting some extra minutes running around for the VFLW team, whilst Jayde Hamilton returns from the AFLW Under 19 Championships to play alongside sister Alexia. If North Melbourne can get up in this one it will be the Roos’ best scalp of the season, but with Essendon sniffing around Casey’s recently acquired fourth spot, the Demons must hold onto the place by winning this one.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Downer Oval

Williamstown is the next challenger up to try and knock off Collingwood as the undefeated Magpies rose in the final term to see off Essendon and grab another win in Round 8. The Magpies have plenty of reasons to get up in this game, with 2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid behind the helm of the 2019 wooden spooners side this season. She will have her work cut out for her against a red-hot Magpies lineup, which features both Amelia Velardo and Aliesha Newman who copped knocks last week but have recovered to play. Abbi Moloney returns to the side with Joanna Lin, Maddi Shevlin and Imogen Purcell among the other Collingwood AFLW talents outside the two key forwards in Sophie Alexander and Bella Smith. The Seagulls have some terrific VFLW talent, with Erin Meade, Megan Williamson, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players in the competition, but it will be whether or not they can make the most of their chances as the Pies will give their forwards plenty, particularly after the form of Marla Neal last week who shone in the win at The Hangar. Hard to see the Pies dropping this one, though the Seagulls are strong defensively and will not make it easy for them.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 2 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

The standalone Sunday fixture pits the sixth placed Southern Saints in a must-win fixture against Hawthorn who got up in Meg Hutchins‘ 250th match last week. The Saints cling onto the lowest finals spot – albeit with plenty of time left in the season – and will need to win this one to give themselves some security there. However the Hawks have some tall targets in Hutchins and Tamara Luke up forward, with the dangerous Kristy Stratton and Jessie Williams capable of kicking multiple goals. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae makes her debut for the brown and gold following the conclusion of the NAB League Girls’ season, with another former Gippsland leader in Maddi Shaw running around for the brown and gold. Georgia Bevan, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch have plenty to prove in this game as they look for another chance at AFL Women’s level, with the latter two having played for the Saints at this level earlier this season. For the Saints, they went down to the reformed Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval last Friday and will look to bounce back with Tara Bohanna and Renee Saulitis providing that tall and small option inside 50. Alice Burke and Tahlia Meyer rack up the ball each and every week, and Hannah Stewart has been enjoying a nice season this year at VFLW level. This game could go either way with the Saints ranked higher, but the Hawks are forming a really strong list as the season goes on.

State Leagues Preview: Key games across the board

STATE league football will continue over the weekend with plenty at stake for the teams involved. With some sides looking for their first win and others trying to keep themselves ahead of the pack, expect plenty of thrilling action this weekend.

Victoria:

The third round of VFL action kicks off this weekend with Collingwood taking on Gold Coast at Olympic Park Oval on Friday afternoon. Gold Coast registered their first win last weekend over Sydney by 14 points, getting on a roll and will be looking to back it up this weekend against the Pies. Suns midfielders Will Brodie and Brayden Fiorni fired in the engine room last round and will need to do the same if they are to grab their second win of the season. Collingwood couldn’t back up their Round 1 win with another last week, falling to the Bombers by 35 points in a disappointing second half. Big man Mason Cox will miss due to suspension while the side will look extremely different with plenty of injuries at AFL level. The Pies depth will be tested here, which should make the win even sweeter if they can pull it off.

The Sydney Swans and the Geelong Cats will make for an interesting matchup when they face off on Saturday afternoon at Tramway Oval. With a 1-1 start to the year, the Swans will be eager to the return to their Round 1 form, which saw them take down the Giants by 26 points. If they are to take down this Cats side, experienced heads such as Sam Gray and Lewis Taylor will need to lead by example. The Cats will be fully refreshed after a bye last weekend, and will be looking to back up their Round 1 effort which saw them run out 79-point winners. Forwards Ben Jarvis and Josh Jenkins combined for eight goals, and if they can do something similar this weekend, it will be hard to stop the Cats.

In a battle of cross-town rivals, Carlton will travel to Windy Hill to take on Essendon on Sunday afternoon as both sides look for their second win to take them up the ladder. The Blues clinched a massive 69-point win over the Lions last weekend, which should give them a world of confidence heading into this match. A combined 12 goals from former AFL listed players Ben Crocker and James Parsons drove the Carlton win and if either can get off the chain again this weekend, Essendon coaches will have plenty to ponder from the sidelines. The Bombers took down the Pies last weekend, and should be looking to use the win as a spark for their season following a Round 1 loss. Tom Cutler was Essendon’s best in the win with 27 disposals and three goals, so expect the Blues to pay some attention to him throughout the match.

South Australia:

Round 5 of state league action kicks off with a blockbuster match, as Norwood host South Adelaide at Coopers Stadium under lights on Friday night. Norwood has landed a selection bombshell heading into the match, stunningly dropping dual-Magarey Medalist Mitch Grigg, who had just 14 disposals and a goal in last week’s 18-point loss to West Adelaide. Brad Mckenzie will line up on a wing in his return to the side while Brad Carroll is also confirmed to return to the side. Highly touted youngster Fraser Turner will finally debut for South Adelaide, named to start on a wing. The former Richmond utility has been named on the extended bench for consecutive weeks and will finally get his chance against Norwood. Liam Fitt will miss following a nasty head knock while Anthony Biemans is expected to miss multiple weeks following a leg injury.

North Adelaide will be looking to erase the memory of last week’s heartbreaking loss with a win this week over Glenelg at Prospect Oval on Saturday afternoon. North Adelaide fell to Woodville-West Torrens by three points in Round 4, and this pain will still be fresh in their minds. They could be bolstered by the return of star defender Cameron Craig, who has been named on the extended bench following a hamstring injury, but changes are yet to be confirmed. Don’t be surprised if Glenelg choose to not make any changes at selection this weekend, following a 10-point win over Port Adelaide last round, with no changes confirmed to the lineup that achieved that feat.

West Adelaide and Central Districts will go head-to-head, with the winner certainly moving up the ladder following their clash at Hisense Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Both sides are in the bottom half of the ladder sitting at 1-3, so a win on Saturday afternoon is crucial for both these sides. West Adelaide will unleash a new player, as Canberra Demons recruit Lucas Meline is named to line up in the midfield for his first game in the new colours. There have been no confirmed outs at the time of publication. Central Districts coaches have been busy shuffling the magnets with four confirmed changes to their team. Rhett Montgomerie, Connor Mclean and Jacob Templeton will all miss through injury while Nick Gillard has been omitted. Fraser Fort, Wyatt Patterson, Cooper Dahms and Travis Schiller have been named as their replacements.

Bottom placed Sturt will have the opportunity to move up the standings as they host Adelaide at Unley Oval on Sunday afternoon. Sturt have not been able to register a second win on the season and will be desperate to take this opportunity against the Crows. Forwards Abe Davis and Josh Hone will return to give Sturt a boost while Charlie Parker will debut for the side across half back. Sturt will lose the services of Jordan Houlahan and Matt Crocker through injury while Adam Trenorden has been dropped. Adelaide will be waiting for AFL emergencies to affect their lineup but will certainly be without midfielders David Mackay (AFL) and Luke Pedlar (injured). Nick Murray has also earned an AFL call up.

In the final SANFL game for Round 5, Port Adelaide will return to Alberton Oval to host Woodville-West Torrens on Sunday afternoon in a key clash for both sides. Port Adelaide currently sit with a disappointing 1-3 record, and with Trent Burgoyne and Matt Appleton both ruled out through injury, a chance to improve this record seems unlikely. In saying this, don’t rule out the Power just yet, with plenty of talent around the ground, they won’t give up without a fight. Woodville-West Torrens have worked their way to a 3-1 record and will see this weekend’s match as the perfect opportunity to improve this. They will be without the services of former AFL forward Daniel Menzel, who will miss with an ankle injury and has been replaced by debutant Cooper Sharman.

Tasmania:

TSL action kicks off on Saturday with Clarence travelling to the Twin Ovals in Kingston to take on the Tigers. The Tigers found their form again last week, defeating Glenorchy by 24 points in the ANZAC day clash. The side will go in unchanged following the victory, and the obvious player to watch is Elijah Reardon who should continue his blistering season this weekend. Clarence had the bye last weekend and have brought in some firepower to combat this Tigers team, while the Roos have brought in Oliver Davis, Baker Smith, Darcy Gardner, Colin Garland and Jacob Young to make their side look much stronger. Expect a close contest.

Lauderdale will be keen to bounce back after last round’s 93-point belting at the hands of a brutal North Launceston side, and this round’s matchup against a struggling North Hobart side will get their hopes up. Lauderdale have shaken things up at team selection in order to conjure a response from their side. Among the ins are Tyler Martin, Luke Hodoninczky, Bryce Walsh and Ozzie Warmbrunn as the Bombers fight for their second win. North Hobart were embarrassed by Launceston last round, conceding 25 goals and losing by 125 points, and they have also opted to change things up at team selection. The Demons are bringing in Johnathon Pullen, George Mcleod, Jye Menzie, Tyler Mcginniss and Will Splann. Both sides have plenty to play for here.

Glenorchy face a tough obstacle if they want to bounce back from last week’s loss, and that obstacle comes in the form of an outrageously in-form Launceston side. The Magpies were defeated by the Tigers to the tune of a 24 point margin but face an even tougher task this week in the Blues. Glenorchy will need to change things up if they are to upset the juggernaut, and the team selection reflects this. The Magpies will lose former Blue Sam Rundle but will be bringing in Riley Best, Darrean Wyatt, Joshua Whitford, Dominic Brown and Isaac Manson. The Blues have made only one change in their quest to remain undefeated, bringing in hard-running midfielder Miller Hodge at the expense of Grant Holt who has been omitted.

Western Australia:

The fourth round of the WAFL was unfortunately cancelled last weekend as Western Australia battled a minor COVID outbreak. This has since been resolved and Round 5 is scheduled to go ahead, with all sides nice and refreshed. The first game of the round will see East Perth welcome Swan Districts to Leederville Oval as they attempt to find their maiden win of the 2021 season. In Round 3 they fell by 25 points, in a promising display. They aren’t far away from a win and this weekend could be the drought breaker. Expect centre half-back Nathan Blee to find plenty of the ball as he did in Round 3. Swan Districts are tracking nicely, sitting in third place on the ladder and looking to improve on their 2-1 record with a win this weekend. The team regains former Eagle Lewis Jetta who is sure to break the game open with his blistering pace.

East Fremantle will host Perth at New Choice Homes Park on Saturday afternoon in a match with implications for both sides. A win for East Fremantle keeps them in touch with the top of the ladder as they currently sit in fourth place and a loss could see them slip down the standings. Perth are barely keeping in touch with the top five, but a win here could potentially see them enter the top half of the ladder. Keep an eye on East Fremantle half-back flanker Cameron Eardley, who racked up 26 disposals and 14 marks in Round 3.

Claremont will be looking to extend their undefeated streak as they welcome West Perth to Revo Fitness Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Claremont couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, and they currently hold a 3-0 record, along with Subiaco. West Perth’s start to the season hasn’t quite been as successful. They sit in sixth place on the ladder with a 1-2 record, and face a serious challenge to improve this in Round 5. Can Aaron Black continue his strong form and lead his side to an upset over this powerful Claremont side?

Speaking of undefeated sides, Subiaco are as good as it gets this year. They sit on top of the ladder and will be keen on staying up there this weekend with a win over South Fremantle at Fremantle Community Bank Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco were able to sneak past West Perth in Round 3 and will probably need a slight lift if they are to keep their spot on top of the table. Meanwhile South Fremantle took down Peel Thunder in Round 3 and will give themselves every chance to walk away with the upset win here. Expect South Fremantle’s Haiden Schloithe to play a big role in the result of this game, fresh off best on ground honours in Round 3.

The final game of the round sees some Sunday footy action as the Peel Thunder will face off against West Coast at David Grays Arena. West Coast have struggled to fly this year and will be keen to get some runs on the board after a 0-3 start to the 2021 season. Peel Thunder have started the season 1-2, good enough to see them sit seventh after three rounds. They will be eager to return to their Round 2 form which saw them with a triple-digit win over East Perth. Pending AFL selection, should Connor Blakely play, expect him to find plenty of the ball for Peel Thunder.

Queensland:

The fifth round of QAFL action sees plenty of exciting matchups. The first will see Maroochydore look to remain undefeated with a win over a surging Labrador side. Maroochydore are yet to lose a game in the 2021 season, but expect Labrador to push them right to the final siren. Labrador have only lost the one game so far, and an upset here would push them into the ‘contender’ category by the end of the weekend. Former Lion and Sun Pearce Hanley has worked his way into the season for Labrador and should prove a headache for Maroochydore players and coaches.

Redland-Victoria Point have started the season in strong fashion, with two wins from three games, and will be looking to snatch a fourth as they travel to Southside Toyota Oval to face off against Mt Gravatt on Saturday. Mt Gravatt have had two byes so far, but still sit at 1-1, with the loss coming against an in-form Maroochydore side. Mt Gravatt forward Jonah Licht has kicked 10 goals in his two games this season, and if he can prove dangerous around the big sticks again, it is hard to see his side losing.

The last two teams on the ladder in Noosa and Sherwood Districts will clash on Saturday afternoon at Rococo Oval, in a vital match for both sides. A perfect opportunity for both teams, whoever emerges victorious could find themselves with a spark to start their season, while the other will be left in no man’s land on 0-4 and much less likely to make finals. Sherwood Districts midfielder William Fletcher has enjoyed a consistent start to the season and could play a key role here, as he has proved himself as a goal kicking midfielder. No matter what happens, one of these sides will be singing the song for the first time in 2021.

In a battle for a second win, Palm Beach Currumbin and Wilston Grange will face off at Salk Oval in the final match of Saturday QAFL action. Not much separates these sides, with both teams sitting on a 1-2 record, this is another vital clash in the fifth round of action. A second win could see either side move into the top five, which is crucial heading into a sixth round. At the time of publication, team lineups had not been released.

Finally, a seemingly unstoppable Broadbeach side will host a struggling Surfers Paradise side at Subaru Oval on Sunday afternoon. Broadbeach are yet to lose a game and boasting the best percentage in the league, they sit on top of the table. Surfers Paradise are a completely different story, having only won one game in their first three, and in dire need of a second. The key question is can they contain Broadbeach forward Sam Jasper, who is fresh off a bag of eight goals last weekend? This matchup will prove important in determining a winner.

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 2 – NAB Leaguers filter into the state league

WITH the NAB League in the midst a month-long break after three full rounds of action, some of Victoria’s most promising Under 19 talent has begun to filter into the Victorian Football League (VFL). A raft of top-age draft prospects made their state league debuts in Round 2, while members of all four Northern Academies also took the field for their respective sides. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit senior level footballs.

>> INSIGHT | Which 19-year-olds have improved their stocks?

The Footscray Bulldogs unveiled Next Generation Academy (NGA) graduate, Cody Raak in their 72-point thumping of GWS on Thursday night. Raak contributed nine disposals and four marks in his maiden game, after making a stellar start to this year’s NAB League proceedings. The marking defender has worked on his weapons after narrowly missing out on a senior spot at the Bulldogs, averaging 27 disposals, six marks, and nine rebound 50s in three Under 19s outings.

Meanwhile, Giants Academy product, Josh Green (21 disposals, three marks) was named his side’s best player on Thursday. The brother of current GWS midfielder Tom, he trained with Richmond after also being overlooked at last year’s draft. The 18-year-old is a versatile tall who is working on his midfield craft, but can be a true utility.

Speaking of academy talent, Gold Coast continues to blood its youth squad products, with past and present members among the Suns side which beat Sydney on Saturday morning. 19th-year tall Jack Johnston earned full votes in his team’s triumph, clunking six marks in his 12-disposal performance. Fellow 2002-births Bailey Reeves (12 disposals, five marks) and Thomas Hofert (seven disposals) also got some run in their legs, as 2003-births Will Bella (10 disposals, five marks, three goals) and Bodhi Uwland (seven disposals) also featured. Bella is the brother of Suns AFLW ruck, Lauren.

The Brisbane Lions also fielded a bunch of Academy graduates, with six in the Under 19 category. Will Tasker impressed with 14 touches and two goals, as the likes of Saxon Crozier (12 disposals, four marks) and Toby Triffett (11 disposals, eight tackles) worked hard in the Lions’ 69-point loss to Carlton. Athletic bigman Jack Briskey, who vied for a Collingwood AFL spot in preseason, was also amongst the action with Tahj Abberley and Shatna Cashen-Harris.

Saturday’s game to watch for NAB League talent making the step-up was Essendon against Collingwood, which the Bombers won by 35 points at Victoria Park. The Bombers had current Bendigo Pioneers top-agers Jack Hickman and Sam Conforti make their debuts, with the latter named among his new side’s best players. Collingwood NGA Youseph Dib made the step up and laid eight tackles in the front half, while fellow Oakleigh players Will Hart and Dylan Thomas also made their debuts.

North Melbourne was another side to dip into the NAB League over the weekend, with a couple of Tasmania Devils talents coming into the side. Oliver Sanders (12 disposals, one goal) was among the Kangaroos’ votes as they went down to Frankston, while Tyler McGinnis (five disposals, four marks) also had a crack. For Sandringham, Dragons co-captain Darby Hipwell suited up for the Zebras and showed promise for his 13 touches.

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 8

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolled on into its eighth round over the weekend, with six fixtures spread from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 8 action, as AFLW-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS: VFLW Round 8 wrap

North Melbourne’s thumping 41-point win over Carlton saw a bunch of ‘Roos hop to the top of the charts across multiple categories. Heading the disposals and kicks for Round 8 was Sarah Skinner, who delivered 20 of her 32 total touches by foot. First year AFLW Kangaroo Isabella Eddey also got in on the act, flicking a round-high 15 handballs, while developing tall Brooke Brown clunked a competition-best, nine marks.

Skinner was matched by 2020 St Kilda draftee Alice Burke on 20 kicks, with the father-daughter coup producing some terrific form in the VFLW of late. She was one of the Saints’ better players as they went down to Western Bulldogs on Friday night. While Burke and Skinner returned dominant performances, so did Marla Neal of Collingwood. She was just shy of a couple more round-highs, but did top the tackle charts with 14 alongside Port Melbourne’s Courteney Bromage.

A quartet of goalkickers bagged trios of goals with three of them being AFLW-listed players. Young key forwards Alyssa Bannan and Olivia Barber got on the board in Casey and Geelong’s respective wins, as Sabrina Frederick snared three of the Borough’s four majors as they went down to Bannan’s Demons. Elsewhere, Carlton’s Jorja Borg shot to the top of the season hitouts tally with 34 this week, though her side could not take toll in a heavy loss to North.

Find the full list of Round 8, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 8 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne) – 32

Kicks:
Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne) – 20
Alice Burke* (Southern) – 20

Handballs:
Isabella Eddey* (North Melbourne) – 15

Goals:
Alyssa Bannan* (Casey) – 3
Olivia Barber* (Geelong) – 3
Mia-Rae Clifford (Essendon) – 3
Sabrina Frederick* (Port) – 3

Marks:
Brooke Brown* (North Melbourne) – 9

Tackles:
Courtney Bromage (Port) – 14
Marla Neal (Collingwood) – 14

Hitouts:
Jorja Borg (Carlton) – 34

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Eliza West (Casey) – 177 total (22.1 per game)

Kicks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 130 (16.3)

Handballs:
Eliza West (Casey) – 82 (10.3)

Goals:
Imogen Milford (Casey) – 13

Marks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 35 (4.4)
Samara David (Darebin) – 35 (4.4)
Tara Bohanna (Southern) – 35 (4.4)

Tackles:
Tamara Smith (Geelong) – 90 (11.3)

Hitouts:
Jorja Borg (Carlton) – 161 (23.0)

Note: Stats not provided for Hawthorn-Williamstown fixture.

* – denotes AFLW-listed.

Image Credit: Kelly Defina/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 8 wrap: Dogs move within range of top six as Casey topple Borough

PORT Melbourne suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of a stacked Casey Demons outfit, while Western Bulldogs continued to make their move towards the top six, defeating Southern Saints under lights to kick off Round 8 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

>> VFL WOMEN’S PAGE

WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 | 1.4 | 2.8 | 4.10 (34)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)

Under lights at Whitten Oval, the Western Bulldogs well and truly made up for their last game in the same time slot earlier in the season, taking care of the Southern Saints by 18 points. It was a crucial win for the Bulldogs, who moved to within percentage of the top six, and despite not scoring in the first term, booed three goals to one in the second half to secure the 4.10 (34) to 2.4 (16) victory. They arguably could have won by more with 14 scoring shots to six, though it was the impressive work of Nell Morris-Dalton and Danielle Marshall up front who did the damage, slotting two majors each. Elisabeth Georgostathis and Ellyse Gamble combined for 48 disposals, whilst the defence of Simone Ruedin, Sarah Hartwig and Brooke Hards were instrumental in the win. Angelica Gogos had another strong game in her second match back, while for the Saints, debutant Jemma Radford stood tall with some nice highlights. AFLW-listed players Molly McDonald and Alice Burke were busy, as Tahlia Meyer also feasted upon her debut in the VFLW side, sharing 53 disposals with Burke. Deanna Jolliffe was named best on for the Dogs, kicking one of their two goals, while Rebecca Neaves was also impressive in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

>> Bulldogs out of the dog house and off the leash

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton 2, D. Marshall 2.
Southern Saints: K. Ripari, D. Jolliffe.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, A. Gogos , D. Marshall, E. Gamble, S. Ruedin, A. Scott.
Southern Saints: D. Jolliffe, M. McDonald, R. Neaves, M. Bertuna, J. Radford, A. Burke

PORT MELBOURNE 2.2 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)
CASEY DEMONS 2.0 | 3.4 | 7.6 | 10.8 (68)

A dominant second half has helped Casey Demons inflict Port Melbourne’s first loss of the season, piling on seven goals to two after half-time to win by 40 points. The Demons trailed by two points at the first break, but hit the front by the main break with the only goal of the season term, before pulling away to win, 10.8 (68) to 4.4 (28). Alyssa Bannan made a successful debut at VFLW level with three majors, countering that of her experienced opponent down the other end in Sabrina Frederick who caused headaches for the Demons defence with the first two goals for her side. Fellow Demons AFLW-listed players in Maddison Gay (22 disposals) and Jacqueline Parry (20) also slotted in seamlessly, as Eliza West (21 and eight tackles) and Megan Fitzsimon (18 and six tackles) continued their good form this season. For the Borough, Olivia Barton and Mel Kuys led the way, having 18 and 17 disposals respectively, and laying four tackles apiece. Elizabeth Wilson kicked the other goal for the home side off 14 touches and 18 hitouts, while Phillipa Peschke and Sarah Sansonetti were lively.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 3, E. Wilson.
Casey Demons: A. Bannan 3, E. Humphries 2, S. Johnson, J. Parry, S. Fairchild, I. Milford, K. Thompson.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: P. Peschke, S. Frederick, S. Sansonetti, S. Locke, C. Dyett, M. Kuys
Casey Demons: E. West, I. Milford, S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, A. Bannan, S. Johnson

DAREBIN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.5 | 1.5 (11)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.6 | 6.6 | 11.9 (75)

Geelong Cats took a little while to get going, but then put the foot down against the last placed Darebin, running out 64-point winners at Bill Lawry Oval. The Cats led by a straight kick at quarter time and 21 points at half-time, before piling on 8.3 to 1.2 in the second half, including five goals to zero in the last term in order to secure the 11.9 (75) to 1.5 (11) victory. The AFLW contingent of Sophie Van De Heuvel (25 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Laura Gardiner (24 disposals, 10 tackles and two goals) and Darcy Moloney (22 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) all had plenty of the footy, as Olivia Barber slotted three goals from 15 touches and six marks. Claudia Gunjaca, Georgie Rankin and Paige Sheppard were also among the best as the Cats continued their red-hot recent form. For the Falcons, Jess Dal Pos returned from New South Wales to put up 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles, and aid AFLW-experienced talents in Nicole Callinan (18 disposals, four marks and 11 tackles) and Alyssa Mifsud (14 disposals, six tackles and 17 hitouts). Hayley Munro, Ellen Buckley and Ashleigh Gunn were all named among the team’s best in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Darebin: H. Munro.
Geelong: L. Gardiner 3, O. Barber 3, D. Moloney, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Boyd, A. Johnson, G. Clarke.

BEST:

Darebin: A. Mifsud, N. Callinan, J. Dal Pos, H. Munro, E. Buckley, A. Gunn
Geelong: O. Barber, C. Gunjaca, G. Rankin, B. Beckley, P. Sheppard, D. Moloney

HAWTHORN 1.1 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 5.6 (36)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.6 | 2.8 (20)

Hawthorn leapfrogged Williamstown out of the bottom two with its second win of the season, getting up by 16 points at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday. The Hawks kicked the first three goals of the game to lead by 17 points at half-time, and whilst the Seagulls did manage to keep touch – and kick two of the last four goals – it would not be enough as the brown and gold saluted at home, 5.6 (36) to 2.8 (20). Dominique Carbone kicked a couple of majors and really impressed across the ground, as did key position player Tamara Luke (one goal). It was no surprise to see in her 250th game of senior footy that Meg Hutchins was a standout, while Sophie Bolding was named best on ground. Jenna Richardson and Chloe Bain were also named among the winning side’s best on the day. For Williamstown, Erin Meade was yet again outstanding, as Eliza Straford and Ella Baxter‘s strong seasons continued. Elizabeth McGrath and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster kicked the two goals for their sides, but it would not be enough in the end.

>> MATCH STATISTICS (will be updated once completed on the app)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: D. Carbone 2, T. Luke, E. Mcilvena , A. Malander.
Williamstown: G. Biedenweg-Webster, E. McGrath.

BEST:

Hawthorn: S. Bolding, T. Luke, M. Hutchins, D. Carbone, J. Richardson, C. Bain
Williamstown: E. Meade, E. Straford, E. Baxter, R. Tripodi, A. Whelan, L. Suleiman

ESSENDON 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.8 (38)

Collingwood has held off a determined Essendon at The Hangar, thanks to a strong second half, and in particular final quarter which saw the Magpies boot the last two goals of the game to win by 10 points. The Bombers looked strong early, but could never shake the Pies, and despite Mia-Rae Clifford booting an early goal in the fourth term to cut the deficit to one, the Magpies kicked away with the next two to blow it out to 15 points before a late consolation prize made the final scores 5.8 (38) to 4.4 (28). Collingwood welcomed back some of its AFL Women’s talent, with Sophie Alexander being a threat in the air, clunking seven marks from 17 touches, and while she did not hit the scoreboard in a major way – two behinds – she shared the load inside 50 with Imogen Barnett (13 disposals, six marks and one goal), Matilda Zander (13 disposals, one goal) and Aliesha Newman (12 disposals, one goal). Marla Neal was a clear standout for the Pies though, racking up the ball at will with 28 touches, as well as laying 14 tackles and a slotting a goal, while Jasmine Ferguson (12 disposals, four marks) and Caitlin Bunker (20 disposals, four marks) did well throughout the match. For the Bombers, Cecilia McIntosh dominated in the first half on her way to 22 disposals and six marks, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Elisabeth Hosking (14 disposals, eight tackles), Eloise Gardner (12 disposals) and Elizabeth Snell (14 disposals) all stood strong. Clifford’s three goals from nine touches, three marks and five tackles threatened to change the game.

>> ELIZABETH SNELL PLAYER FOCUS

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Essendon: M. Clifford 3, E. Mackay.
Collingwood: M. Zander, A. Newman, B. Smith, I. Barnett, M. Neal.

BEST:

Essendon: C. McIntosh, E. Ashley-Cooper, M. Clifford, J. Davies, E. Gardner, K. Heil
Collingwood: S. Alexander, M. Neal, J. Ferguson, M. Shevlin, K. Lee, S. King

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1 | 4.5 | 4.9 | 6.11 (47)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)

North Melbourne has won its third game of the season in style, proving too strong for Carlton, and keeping the Blues to just one goal in the match. It was the second time in three rounds that the Blues kicked a goal or less after pushing Port Melbourne in between, but on the day, North Melbourne’s four first-quarter goals were the difference during the 6.11 (47) to 1.0 (6) victory. Sarah Skinner‘s unbelievable form continued with a whopping 32 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal, teaming up perfectly with those in the back half, as Meagan Kiely (26 disposals, four marks and seven tackles), Molly Eastman (22 disposals, five marks and five tackles) and Bella Eddey (22 disposals, five marks) all finding plenty of the ball. Daria Bannister slotted two goals from 20 touches and 10 tackles in her return to the level with Eddey, while Annalise Vine who switched to the Roos from the Hawks played her best game of the season with 16 disposals and seven marks. Brooke Brown was named best-on by the Roos coaching staff for her 16 touches and nine marks. For the Blues, Teresa Zampaliogne had a team-high 20 disposals as well as five tackles and three marks, while AFLW-listed talents, Charlotte Hammans (19 disposals) and Winnie Laing (18 and six tackles) were both busy. Eliza Wood was named the Blues’ best with 15 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and a goal, while Paige Trudgeon (11 disposals, six tackles) and Bry Gurr (16 disposals) were also busy despite the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

North: L. Wright 2, D. Bannister 2, S. Skinner, N. Celebre.
Carlton: E. Wood.

BEST:

North: B. Brown, M. Eastman, D. Bannister, J. Mourney, S. Skinner, K. Price
Carlton: E. Wood, C. Hammans, P. Trudgeon, T. Zampaglione, B. Gurr, W. Laing

Cats too strong and structured for AFL Academy as Daicos furthers his case for top selection

THE NAB AFL Academy suffered a heavy loss to the Geelong VFL side going down 149-19 in what was a one-sided contest from the start. There was no expectation of a win for the Australian side going against AFL-listed players and bigger bodies who have trained and played together for much longer than the few days the Academy players spent together.

Geelong scored the first two goals of the game through Luke Smith and Jordan Johnston who would both remain prolific all game with four and three goals, respectively. The Cats dominated play and possession early, but Australia was able to settle the game a bit and work the ball forward. Nick Daicos eventually found East Fremantle’s Jack Williams inside 50 who kicked truly on a tight angle.

The game would remain between the arcs as Australia wrestled back some momentum, but the likes of Charlie Constable and Quinton Narkle showed why they are in contention for senior selection dominating possession and pushing their side to a 21-point quarter time lead.

The second quarter would only be the start of the significant bleeding for Australia, as Geelong’s pressure around the ball intensified, and their already clean ball movement became cleaner. They would dominate the play, but they could not reflect it on the scoreboard as their inaccurate kicking flattered Australia at half-time.

The Australian defence was working overtime as Smith kicked his second, and Max Holmes and Darcy Fort also hit the scoreboard. While they did well to place pressure on some shots to force five behinds for the quarter, Australia’s foot skills out of defensive 50 were inconsistent as they would either turn the ball over or put it back into dispute.

Subiaco’s Neil Erasmus was lively in the second quarter as was Oakleigh’s Ned Moyle in the ruck, but it was Giants Academy member Josh Fahey (15 disposals) and Daicos (13 disposals) leading the way. Constable managed 17 first-half disposals for the Cats while Narkle (15 disposals, one goal) and Smith (13 disposals, two goals) helped extend the lead to 42 points at the main break.

Geelong showed no remorse for the promising youngsters as Smith’s third goal would propel them to winning the quarter 52-8. Their superior physicality and team cohesion rose to prominence as they were much more composed with ball in hand, moving it forward with ease and cleanliness.

The value of the AFL-listed players remaining in the elite training environments really came to the fore as they just overran the Australian side with spread and pressure. They were plus 58 in disposals for the quarter and never allowed Australia to link with handballs and run and carry. Former Murray Bushranger Jye Chalcraft capitalised on the dominance with a nine-disposal quarter. Current Murray Bushranger Josh Rachele kicked Australia’s second and last goal for the game with a bomb from outside 50.

Geelong ran out the game and kicked away to a commanding 22.17 (149) to 2.7 (19) victory. It was always going to be tough for the Academy players. Brisbane Lions recruitment consultant Leon Harris stressed that it is “more what they take out of it than how well they play”.

Geelong won the disposal count 367-214 and placed enough pressure on Australia to force them into kicking 68 more times than they handballed. They controlled possession and won the mark count 96-59, while the ruck contest was relatively even.

Fahey was named best on ground for the Australian side with 23 disposals, while Daicos continued his NAB League form finding the footy 26 times. Chargers’ teammate Moyle was also serviceable with 11 disposals and 13 hitouts, while South Adelaide’s Jason Horne (12 disposals, six tackles) maintained his effort all game.

For Geelong, Smith managed four goals in the end to go with his 22 disposals and seven marks as Johnston also booted four majors from his 20 disposals. AFL-listed Constable (29 disposals), Narkle, (22 disposals, two goals), and Holmes (23 disposals, three goals) did no harm to their AFL recalls.

No doubt a learning curve for the NAB AFL Academy members as recruiters look forward to their return to their respective state league competitions and of course the national championships where they will hope they implement some learnings from this game. The players will meet with clubs in Melbourne tomorrow as recruiters continue to profile the draft hopefuls.

Picture credit: Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos