Category: NAB League Girls

Physical side of footy attracts Van Oosterwijck to game

REGULARLY getting fouled out in basketball told Amelia Van Oosterwijck that perhaps she needed a change of sporting scenery. While the tenacious runner enjoyed watching Australian rules football on the television, she never thought she would involve herself to the point that she would run out representing her state at the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

“My dad was always a massive Collingwood fan and I loved watching it growing up,” Van Oosterwijck said. “Then I started playing basketball and a teammate of mine – she plays footy and I kept getting fouled out all the time – was like ‘why don’t you try footy it’s a bit more physical?’ “So tried that out and ended up loving the game.”

Of the differences between the sports, it was certainly the physicality that stood out to Van Oosterwijck.

“It’s a lot more physical,” she said. “So I love that, I love tackling, I love just the nature of the game. “It’s so much faster than basketball in my opinion.”

That physical style of play is what has become a feature of the small forward’s game, laying more than five tackles per game for Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League Girls competition this year. Her defensive pressure, coupled with her ability to hit the scoreboard – she booted four goals from nine games but spent time up the ground as well to produce more than two inside 50s per game. Van Oosterwijck said the camaraderie at the Chargers was something she loved.

“I love being around the girls,” she said. “The group of girls you play with are lifelong friends, they are all there for you and they all support you no matter if you stuff up or you kick a goal, they’ll always be there and I love that part of it.”

Her form was enough to see her represent Vic Metro at the championships where she played two games – she missed one due to a late withdrawal – and still showed her defensive intent with three tackles per match and a goal on the Gold Coast as well. Speaking at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me in March, Van Oosterwijck said her goal for 2019 was to build her core strength.

“For me personally, I want to get a bit stronger around the hips because I am a shorter player and I do get knocked over by the bigger girls so by improving my strength I’ll be able to withstand those tackles,” she said.

The increased standards were noticeable from early in the pre-season for Van Oosterwijck who said everyone had lifted making it a real challenge in the off-season.

“The standards have got so much higher,” she said. “The physicality, the running side of it, everyone’s got a lot quicker. “It’s a big step up and I think I enjoy the game way more than I did last season.”

Consistency the key for Sansonetti

WHILE others travel far and wide, come into the game late, or are poached from other sports, Sarah Sansonetti has enjoyed a much more linear path on her footballing journey.

The Northern Knights key defender traded the monkey bars and slides for a kick of the footy during breaks at school after her dad introduced her to the oblong ball, and has loved the game ever since.

“At school I was getting around out at lunch – instead of being on the playground, I loved getting out and kicking the footy so then dad decided to try at Auskick,” Sansonetti said. “I had a year down there and then went straight into Under 10s at my local club (Bundoora) which was pretty exciting.”

Football proved a “relief” from normal life for Sansonetti, who continues to enjoy the camaraderie that comes with team sports.

“(I like) the community aspect, the way the community gets together and everyone just enjoys it. You get out there, and it’s sort of just a relief from all your schooling and all that,” she said.

The sport that started as a hobby has turned into an opportunity, with the reliable defender fast becoming a leader in her position.

After featuring five times for the Knights as a 16-year-old, Sansonetti backed up the feat by playing every game in 2018, while returning a 10-game season in her top-age season this year.

Sansonetti’s consistency and ability to play a role in the star-studded Northern side meant her name was constantly one of the first on the team sheet, and it is something she highlighted as a key area during pre-season.

“From a team aspect, playing as a team, getting a lot of run from half-back, our forwards playing their role – I think it’s just everyone getting out there and doing their role, that’s sort of what we’re focusing on,” Sansonetti said during the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me in March.

“(Our goal is to) have a consistent year, be consistent week in, week out and I reckon if we do that, we can go one better”

Sansonetti’s “one better” prophecy came to fruition as the Knights claimed premiership glory with a relatively young side after going down in the 2018 decider.

Her role in the undefeated season came two-fold, proving a pillar in the back six while leading Northern’s bottom and middle-agers through all of the rigours of a year at the elite junior level. It was something Sansonetti touched on during pre-season as she outlined her on-field goals.

“I just try to be a role model at training, lifting expectations like lifting the intensity and showing (younger players) what it takes to be in the program because a lot of them haven’t been exposed to it yet,” she said.

With a fruitful NAB League season done and won, Sansonetti was also a key part of Vic Metro’s unbeaten National Championships campaign in Queensland and is in the midst of a solid VFLW campaign with Darebin Falcons.

While Sansonetti said she is looking to push into more “uncomfortable” areas as her journey progresses, winning is a comfortable aspect of the game she seems to bring with her everywhere – with the Falcons getting up in two of her three outings thus far.

It bodes well for a long, consistent career,

2019 Victoria Podcast | Vic Country and Vic Metro reviews

IN a new Final Siren podcast series reviewing the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships side-by-side, we take a look at some of the top prospects who performed strongly across all three lines, as well interviews with key players within each individual state.

The fourth edition is the Victoria, and Final Siren podcast host Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central‘s Peter Williams discuss the players who caught the eye across the championships from both Vic Metro and Vic Country, looking ahead to the 2019 AFLW Draft as well as the 2020 AFLW Draft.

Below is full Victorian podcast.

You can also find the Final Siren podcast and listen to past or future episodes on the following platforms:


Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts




Pocket Casts



For all the AFLW U18s Championships news, head to our AFLW U18s Championships page and keep an eye out for our features which have started!

McDonald forges footy path

DANDENONG Stingrays’ captain and Vic Country leader Molly McDonald was in a different situation to most draft hopefuls coming into her top-age year. The talented midfielder did not have the question marks hanging over her head as to where she might be in 12 months time, having already been snapped up by St Kilda as a pre-listed player – along with Stingrays’ teammate Isabella Shannon – well ahead of the AFL Women’s 2020 season. The greater certainty over her playing future did not deter McDonald from having a starring role in Stingrays’ team, and being a key contributor in Vic Country’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships campaign.

McDonald originally started football after crossing from basketball when a pathway became clear.
“I was playing basketball and then I quit rep’ because I always wanted to play footy,” she said. “I was with my brother, and then just started playing footy.”

The Stingrays’ leader said she relished the captaincy this year describing it as “really exciting”.

“I just like to get around the girls and lead as an example for them,” McDonald said at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day, hosted by Rookie Me in March.

Whilst McDonald enjoyed basketball and even reached representative levels in the sport, she always had the passion for football and said she enjoyed the “freedom” she had on the footy field, enabling her to run across the ground. Unfortunately the Stingrays did not make the finals of the NAB League Girls which McDonald had hoped for, but they showed plenty of promising signs, particularly early in the season when they pushed a number of teams. Individually, McDonald identified a number of areas for her to improve her game this year.

“Probably working on the aspects of my game that are not so strong,” McDonald said. “So working through the forward line and working on my opposite foot.”

In season 2019, McDonald averaged 13.7 disposals, 1.6 marks, 3.7 tackles and 3.9 inside 50s, while also booting a couple of goals spending time between midfield and half-forward. On debut for the Southern Saints, McDonald showed she was more than capable in the Saints’ win over Casey Demons, amassing 16 disposals, three marks and six tackles to be one of the best players on the field.

Following her VFLW commitments, McDonald headed north to assist Vic Country in going undefeated in Round 2 of the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships after they initially lost to Vic Metro. McDonald averaged 12.0 disposals, 4.3 tackles and 4.3 inside 50s and booted a goal across her three games, then returned to play her second VFLW match last weekend – oddly against Casey again – and booted her first goal in the competition.

Of all the achievements this season, McDonald’s greatest came during the week when she was named in the 2019 Under-18 AFL Women’s All-Australian side for her efforts during the national carnival. While many other top-age girls are hoping they can find a home in the AFL Women’s Draft later this year, McDonald’s fate is known, but it is not stopping her aiming to have a huge impact on the Southern Saints’ finals campaign with her side currently sitting second on the ladder, two games clear of third.

Former netballer Purcell take rapid rise in her stride

THERE have been plenty of impressive performers that have picked up the oblong ball after testing themselves with a round one, and Sandringham Dragons’ Marguerite Purcell is no different. The former netballer played in a premiership with Caulfield Grammar in 2018, and became a staple of the Dragons’ midfield in 2019.

The speedy winger showed plenty of growth and development in 2019, enough so to earn a place in Vic Metro’s AFL Women’s Under-18 squad which went undefeated at the National Championships earlier this month on the Gold Coast. For Purcell, this year was about enjoying the atmosphere out on the field and getting around her friends at the Dragons.

“[I’m looking forward to] just playing with the girls, they’re such a beautiful group,” Purcell said. “I really have so much fun with them, and getting to know them more and getting into the game is so much fun.”

Purcell had a job convincing her family that football was the way to go, making her way up the ranks to compete at the highest elite junior level.

“I started with club footy,” Purcell said. “I really, really, really wanted to play, so I begged my dad and he finally let me play so I was really happy. “I came from netball.”

Like many dual-sport athletes, Purcell found some difficulties crossing from netball to football, especially given her lack of training experience.

“I came straight into footy and didn’t actually do any training,” Purcell said. “I only played games because I wasn’t available to train, so it was kind of crazy, I didn’t know any of the rules so I kind of learnt as I went. “I think netball helped me a little bit, but it’s still totally a different game.”

Now at the conclusion of the NAB League Girls and AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, Purcell will look back knowing she has taken a lot from the season, even from the very start when she tested at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day, hosted by Rookie Me in March.

“[It was] pretty tiring to be honest, it’s a little bit hot in here,” Purcell said after completing her sprints and agility tests. “But it’s been really good. “Bit scary, but I’ve enjoyed it.”

With her athleticism a highlight of her game, Purcell honed in on improving other aspects of her profile. The Vic Metro midfielder aspired to build a good base across the board from which to improve.

“Definitely my skills,” Purcell said. “It’s always something I’ve wanted to improve on. “Basic fundamentals, just so I can get a really solid base.”

The 170cm midfielder turned 18 over the weekend, and like many of the top-age prospects has aspirations of making it to the highest level possible. In 2019, Purcell averaged 10.4 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.4 inside 50s and 2.0 tackles, with her kick-to-handball ratio being a massive 8.45 – 9.3 kicks to 1.1 handballs, showing her ability to move the ball in transition by foot. With Vic Metro she played all three games and experienced playing at the elite level. Whatever the future may hold for Purcell, the rise from netballer to playing at the highest junior level for Australian Rules football has been quite a journey.

Notman enjoys pathway journey

THE journey rather than the destination has driven Gippsland Power and Vic Country versatile tall, Shanara Notman. The talented athlete has tried her hand at basketball, netball and athletics; still involved in the first two as well as the oblong shaped ball sport.

Not many outside the Gippsland Power pathway would have known much about the key position defender who has proven more than capable up forward or in the ruck as the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships attest. The reason was the fact Notman chose not to play last year, focusing on basketball after an initially successful V/Line Cup carnival where playing for the Power, held her own against fellow dual-athlete Lucy Cripps on that day.

Returning to the NAB League Girls system, Notman had a strong return when she played the opening game of the season, before getting into the groove in the final three matches, averaging 12.3 disposals and 2.7 marks per game. Her best match came in the final round, racking up 18 disposals, five marks and seven rebounds against Calder Cannons to really show off some of her athletic attributes.

Notman said she always enjoyed football, but the fact there were “no options” to play football as a young girl, opted for basketball which was her favourite sport at the time.

“I started around just as a little kid kicking around with my brothers and then didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “I played more basketball and netball, and then I saw there was a pathway through Gippsland Power and then saw that the AFL was bringing in women’s league and I only started playing the last year or the year before.”

Speaking to Notman in the pre-season, she had not placed any expectations on her season.

“Not sure (where I want to get to), hopefully make the VFL,” Notman said. “Some of the girls will make VFL and some of the girls will make the draft, but I’m just there to enjoy it with the girls.”

Notman praised the work of Gippsland Power’s Female Talent Manager Chelsea Caple and Head Coach Scott Armour who had helped work with her and further develop her footballing abilities. Whilst she said her positioning was strong, she just had to piece everything together transferring her skills from basketball to Australian Rules football.

She certainly did that, earning a place on Vic Country’s list for the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships on the Gold Coast. There, Notman impressed through the ruck and up forward, booting a goal and providing a presence in the forward half of the ground. She also ticked off the box for making the VFLW, signing with Casey Demons for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Whilst Notman was not sure what the season held at the beginning of the year, she would be pleased with how it has panned out, particularly over the past couple of months and now she just looks ahead to see what the future holds.

AFLW U16 Championships preview: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

IN the first game of a Victorian double-header, the Under 16s go head-to-head with Vic Country hosting Vic Metro at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday. The AFL Women’s Under 16s Championships are a shorter series to that of the Under 18s, and male Under 16s, with the Victorian derby being the final match of the series. Both sides had hitouts against other opposition, with Metro triumphing over a gallant New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT), while South Australia downed Vic Country in a bit of an upset.

Given the results, Metro would head in as favourites, but are missing two of their top stars with Georgie Prespakis and Tess Flintoff not in the side. It opens up possibilities for others, with the likes of Emelia Yassir, Matilda Hardy and Makaylah Appleby to stand up, having shown impressive signs in Metro’s win over the Rams. Kasey Lennox was impressive in the NAB League Girls Grand Final for Calder Cannons, while Charlie Rowbottom – sister of Sydney’s James – knows how to find the football and put it through the big sticks. Likewise, Charli Murphy will provide a tall target inside 50, while Calder’s Tahlia Gillard is already 187cm despite being 15.

Looking at the Vic Country side, Tara Slender is a player who immediately stands out, holding down a key position defence role at Bendigo Pioneers after an impressive V/Line Cup carnival last year. Dandenong’s Jemma Radford and Geelong’s Elizabeth Dowling are others who have shown terrific signs in their first year at NAB League Girls level following V/Line Cup success, while Gippsland’s Grace Matser is in a similar boat to Gillard, standing at 186cm having just turned 16 earlier in the year. Jaide Anthony is a forward to watch having booted multiple goals on debut in the NAB League Girls competition, while Nyakoat Dojiok has been a developing talent the last couple of seasons.

The game is likely to be an exciting one, and being a curtain raiser to the Under-18 equivalent, it gives the Under 16s an idea of the level they strive to get to, and the pathway in place for them in the future. Last year, a Metro side led by Ellie McKenzie and Alyssa Bannan won the clash over Country at GMHBA Stadium, while Renee Saulitis and Tyanna Smith were among the best for Country. All four of those players are now representing Victoria at Under-18 level. The talented pathway is ever-growing, so expect the level of football to be even higher than that of last year with so many evenly talented players running around in the ‘Big V’.


1 Tahlia Meier 19-Oct-03 TBC GWV Rebels
2 Cassidy Mailer 02-Feb-04 153 Murray Bushrangers
3 Poppy Schaap 28-Jul-03 154 Geelong Falcons
4 Grace Matser 03-Jan-03 186 Gippsland Power
5 Gabbi Featherston 12-Nov-03 163 Geelong Falcons
7 Jaide Anthony 20-Nov-03 TBC Dandenong Stingrays
8 Jemma Radford 31-Jul-03 167 Dandenong Stingrays
9 Melina Ciavarella 24-Jan-03 161 GWV Rebels
10 Kate Tomkins 17-Jun-03 161 GWV Rebels
11 Alannah Sanderson 19-Sep-03 166 Geelong Falcons
13 Lilli Condon 25-Nov-03 154 GWV Rebels
14 Tara Slender 11-Mar-03 174 Bendigo Pioneers
15 Drew Ryan 11-Apr-03 172 Bendigo Pioneers
16 Macie Gilmour 03-Jan-03 158 Gippsland Power
17 Holly Booth 11-Sep-03 169 Gippsland Power
18 Analea McKee 06-Jul-03 174 Geelong Falcons
19 Ella Friend 30-Dec-03 172 GWV Rebels
20 Elizabeth Dowling 31-Jul-03 168 Geelong Falcons
21 Jayda Richardson 04-Nov-03 175 Bendigo Pioneers
22 Nyakoat Dojiok 07-Jan-03 180 GWV Rebels
23 Madeline Marks 26-Feb-03 173 Bendigo Pioneers
25 Tyla Angwin 24-Jul-03 172 Gippsland Power
26 Keeley Skepper 15-Mar-04 163 Murray Bushrangers



1 Mia Papachristos 06-Apr-03 157 Northern Knights
2 Teleah Smart 02-May-03 160 Northern Knights
3 Ebony Angelopoulos 26-Nov-03 160 Sandringham Dragons
4 Emelia Yassir 25-Sep-03 161 Calder Cannons
5 Stephanie Asciak 18-Sep-03 162 Western Jets
6 Emma Stuber 10-Jul-03 164 Sandringham Dragons
7 Aurora Smith 13-Dec-03 163 Murray Bushrangers
8 Alisha Liddle 30-Sep-03 175 Dandenong Stingrays
9 Matilda Hardy 24-Apr-03 170 Eastern Ranges
10 Ruby O’Dwyer 04-Oct-03 170 Eastern Ranges
11 Maykaylah Appleby 18-Jul-03 170 Northern Knights
12 Eliza James 01-Oct-03 170 Oakleigh Chargers
13 Stella Reid 10-Sep-03 170 Oakleigh Chargers
14 Jemima Woods 28-May-03 170 Western Jets
15 Caitlin Sargent 22-Dec-03 170 Western Jets
17 Kasey Lennox 07-Aug-03 174 Calder Cannons
18 Charli Murphy 26-Nov-03 174 Sandringham Dragons
19 Jessica Simpson 28-Mar-03 175 Northern Knights
21 Cassy Wilsmore 28-Mar-03 178 Eastern Ranges
22 Charlie Rowbottom 22-Jan-03 178 Oakleigh Chargers
23 Peppa Poultney 05-Apr-03 181 Calder Cannons
24 Neve Crowley 23-Jun-03 181 Calder Cannons
25 Tahlia Gillard 12-Dec-03 187 Calder Cannons

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Grand Final

IT was a massive NAB League Girls Grand Final with Northern Knights coming out on top as 30-point winners over Calder Cannons. In an exciting day of action, there were certainly plenty of standout performances on the big stage. Here are our opinion-based scouting notes on a mix of the most outstanding players on the day, and others selected in the Victorian sides for this year’s National Championships.

By: Sophie Taylor

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

True to her number, Morris-Dalton kicked three goals to ultimately lead her side to victory, providing a great target inside 50 and showing off her clever movement into space to advantage of the ball. Her marking ability was solid inside 50, while a great passage of play saw her kick the only Knights goal for the second quarter from their first inside 50 of the term. Showcased her ability to free herself from opposition, getting off the body to take control of the space.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was on fire early, kicking her first goal within minutes of the first bounce to open Northern’s account for the afternoon. Also all but cemented victory for Northern with a goal right in the goal square in the late stages of the match for the final score of the game. Other than her accuracy in front of goal, Bannan showcased her good run and carry and pressure on the ball carrier, causing messiness when Calder headed inside 50.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Player of the Match, Fitzgerald put on a solid performance well deserving of her title in what was a strong shared effort for the Knights. Her five tackles contributed to the great pressure her side put on the Cannons, while her clean marking ability allowed her a shot on goal – and though going through for a behind, put in the hard yards to gain back possession. Also showed some good game smarts to handball under pressure out of a pack to carry the ball forward.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti was good one-on-one, putting constant pressure on her opposition as she forced intercepts and crowded the space. Had a solid kick but was intercepted on a few occasions, though was fortunate the rest of Northern’s defensive unit was also standing up. Also put her quick hands into practice on the wing, handballing to a passing player in better space, also marking well under the pump to clear the ball back out of defence.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie was solid, taking a good contested mark early for a snap on goal, rewarded for her efforts with the ball going through the big sticks. Had a good eye to kick inside 50 to Morris-Dalton on her own in a similar position to McKenzie’s first goal, while her marking ability was exceptional with six to her name. Had a great run down the far wing late in the match, showcasing her speed and ability to free herself from opposition players and fitting in about seven bounces as she coasted from the defensive 50 into attack.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht had a solid match, picking up an equal-second 14 disposals for the Knights in a shared effort across the ground. Her five tackles and five handballs proved necessary through midfield, gaining ground as she found her way clear to get the ball out of congestion courtesy of her two-way running ability and skill scooping up the ground ball. Also had a chance on goal from 40m out but bounced through for a behind.

#23 Gabby Newton

Had some great passages of play, continually pressing the ball forward as she used the space to create options and opportunities down field. Her 15 touches were put to good use, using her body to get hands on the footy. Took some good contested marks as well as being a pivotal ball mover with two inside 50s and two rebounds as she appeared to be everywhere on the ground at once. Good awareness of not just the ball, but also of her opposition and teammates as she kicked cleanly to advantage and shared the load.

By: Taylah Melki

#2 Felicity Theodore 

Good intercept mark in the first term but was relatively quiet. Her move up forward was inspired able to showcase her strong hands to take important marks. She took two good grabs in the fourth quarter and presented well up at the footy. She showcased her quick hands under pressure and desire to win the ball throughout the game.

#11 Alana Barba

Barba was strong around the contest for the Cannons applying good tackling pressure and making her presence felt across the ground. She was involved involved early and used her clean hands to dish off handballs to passing teammates. Barba won her fair share of the footy and covered the ground well, she consistently went in hard at the ball and stood up in a strong tackle. She tracked the footy well at ground level and imposed herself on the contest when the ball came her way.

#21 Georgia Patrikios 

Patrikios worked tirelessly throughout the game leading her side with her clean hands, impeccable vision and never say die attitude. She used her quick hands and willingness to play on to spur the Cannons into attack. Patrikios showcased her ability to read the play well almost taking a good mark when the ball was coming out of their attacking 50. She used her impressive long booming kick into the forward 50 to create scoring chances for her side. She took a good intercept mark early in the third quarter and applied strong pressure laying solid tackles throughout the game. Clean pick up off the ground to keep the ball moving and had good body positioning to win the ball for the Cannons. Quick hands out of defence and good control of the ball. She showcased her speed going for a good dash through the middle of the ground to kick into the forward 50 and create a scoring opportunity.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

She had a relatively quiet game and was well kept by the Knights but she still had her moments of magic working hard to win the ball and using her body well to out position her opponent. She showcased her slick hands with a clever handball into space and worked her way into the game in the third term. She utilised her long kick to push the ball forward and create options for the Cannons.  

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Prespakis was a key player for the Cannons throughout the game with her desperation, strength and clever use of the ball an important feature of her game. She showcased her clean hands and impressive strength to shake off a tackler and dispose of the ball to Patrikios. She showcased her emotion midway through the second term getting into a scuffle with that only sparking her ferocity and intensity for the rest of the match. she really built herself into the game with her good forward pressure and ability to win the ball time and time again. She was clean off the deck and won her fair share of clearances around the ground. She patrolled the defensive end well sticking to her player and showcased her ability to read the play, wining the ball one on one credit to her footy smarts. Good vision to kick to space and use her impressive evasive skills to dodge opponents and then dish the ball off on the wing. Prespakis worked tirelessly all game and showed good elevation and control of the footy. Consistently used her body well and won plenty of the footy across the ground with clever linkup play with Patrikios throughout the game. A real standout for the Cannons in a difficult loss.

2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final

NORTHERN Knights claimed the 2019 NAB League Girls premiership, defeating the Calder Cannons by 22 points at Ikon Park on Saturday. We were there to capture the day and here are some of the images, accompanied with some post-game quotes for Northern Knights fans to relieve the huge day.

“Our forwards are so, so dangerous, even you saw in that last bit where Alyssa (Bannan) had that one-on-one with that girl, they just put people under pressure.” – Gabby Newton.

I think we played a good game, I think last year (2018 Grand Final loss to Geelong Falcons) our issue was we got too confident coming out of half-time. This year we played all four quarters and it really showed.” – Nell Morris-Dalton.

“The small forwards having manic pressure as Marcus (Abney-Hastings) would say, to keep it in there. They can convert whenever they get opportunities.” – Britney Gutknecht.

“I got my hands nice and strong and then the girls were just kicking it in very well and helped me out.” – Nell Morris-Dalton on her recent form, including seven goals in two finals.

“I think we all knew what to expect and players who had been a part of that team last year were able to impart that knowledge on the girls who hadn’t played a grand final so we knew that if we could get on top of them in the first five minutes and keep our cool, that we’d be able to shut them down first quarter.” – Gabby Newton.

“I’m not too much about the individual achievements, more about the team, I’ll take it I guess, but really happy with the win.” – Jess Fitzgerald on winning the Best on Ground medal.

“Playing with Gabby (Newton) is unreal. I know she’s a future star of the game, (and) to be playing alongside her and knowing hopefully we cross paths further down the track, it’s unreal, it’s just so good” – Britney Gutknecht.

It was a pretty surreal feeling, I haven’t really played in front of a crowd that big before so just happy to just get that opportunity and the girls really pulled through today so it was good.” – Ellie McKenzie.

“I go to school with Georgie (Prespakis), so we’re pretty good friends so that was pretty interesting, but yeah she’s a great talent and I’m sure she’s going to do well in the next few years.” – Ellie McKenzie on direct opponent, Georgie Prespakis.

“I trust our leaders within the ground, and yes you’re right they were getting a lot of ball inside their 50, but I think ultimately our leaders really stood up, led by our marvellous captain. Within our backline, Phoebe Chisholm and Sarah Sansonetti are really strong leaders, so they took the sting out of the game and were able to get that 5 or 10 minutes which was really, really pleasing.” – Northern Knights coach, Marcus Abney-Hastings on Calder’s purple patch in the second quarter.

“We really have a strong back six who have stood up time upon time throughout the year so with those close games we’re used to being challenged, so we were able to deal with that today.” – Gabby Newton.

“It’s just like playing with a sister. We’ve been together for three years now, it’s just huge. I love playing with Brit (Gutknecht), we just know where each other are and we don’t even need to communicate it, so I’m really going to miss it.” – Gabby Newton.

“It’s hugely sad, we’re a huge family. I know this team is never going to be the same again and obviously as top-agers we’re moving on but we’ve just enjoyed our time together, it’s really sad that we’re splitting.” – Britney Gutknecht.

“Jess is probably our most important player. We’re really strong inside the contest and we’ve got players of the Brit’s (Gutknecht) and the Gabby’s (Newton) that put a lot of heat around the ball, but with Fitzy’s run and carry, and really good ball use, she’s probably our most important player. Her speed off the mark, the way she takes the game on is absolute electric, you can’t teach that. We’re really blessed to have this number 14 in our corner.” – Marcus Abney-Hastings.

“It has been a two-year journey for us. We made conscious decisions in both pre-seasons to really develop our bottom-agers and our middle-agers and today that’s really come to fruition with the performance that we showed and the year we had. I think it will be pretty similar next year. Our ultimate is to make sure girls get drafted. This is fantastic, and a great reward for our girls, but ultimately our job is to make sure they’re in the best position to get drafted and take their careers to the next stop, so we’ll continue to do that and really push our girls forward.” – Marcus Abney-Hastings.

Northern Knights soar to go one better in 2019 with 33-point premiership victory

NORTHERN Knights have capitalised on their opportunities in a memorable 33-point premiership win over Calder Cannons at Ikon Park in near-perfect conditions. While grey skies threatened to rain on the game, no one or nothing could rain on the Knights parade, who stormed to victory in a terrific team effort, deserving of the only side who could go through the 2019 season undefeated. They held Calder goalless despite the Cannons piling on the pressure in the second term, to win 6.3 (39) to 0.6 (6). Jess Fitzgerald won the best on ground medal from 15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Nell Morris-Dalton starred with 10 marks and three goals. Alyssa Bannan booted the book-end goals of the game while Ellie McKenzie also converted on her opportunity in front of goal. For the Cannons, Georgie Prespakis and Georgia Patrikios were typically superb, while Alisa Magri looked damaging up front despite missing some chances. Emelia Yassir also played her role for the Cannons.

Northern booted their first goal through Bannan with the ball bouncing over her head but she cleanly grabbed it and snapped around her body for a goal a few minutes into the opening term. Fitzgerald had a couple of chances, going inside 50 but the Cannons defence was holding up. Gabby Newton started having an impact just outside 50 and produced a great kick to Fitzgerald but her shot was touched in the square and hit the post. McKenzie put the Knights’ second goal on the board from 15m out after a couple of chances, having a long-range shot, fell short and Tallia Pulcino won a free for in the back. Her shot on goal came off the side of the boot, but McKenzie was in the right spot with a terrific contested mark and goal. McKenzie was in the action shortly after, kicking perfectly after winning a free to hit up Morris-Dalton deep one-on-one who converted easily and the Knights were out to a 19-point lead at quarter time. Patrikios, Prespakis, Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore all had moments in the first term, but the Cannons struggled to get the ball and did not get it inside 50.

The second quarter was an arm-wrestle to start the term with Patrikios getting a heap of the ball, but could not capitalise with a couple of wild chances on goal. A chance from Yassir and Magri went the wrong side of the sticks. After dominating the term, Calder could only manage a couple of behinds and the first inside 50 of the term to the Knights saw Morris-Dalton run onto the ball and kick from point blank range and boot her second major. The Knights now lead by 23 points and were coming from everywhere to celebrate her goal. Patrikios had a chance to narrow the gap herself but was dragged down and the ball bounced the wrong side of the post. Makeisha Muller then had a chance from a snap set shot but it slammed into the woodwork for the Cannons’ fourth straight behind. The siren sounded shortly after and for all their effort, the Cannons had booted 0.4 to the Knights’ 1.0 to trail 4.1 (25) to 0.4 (4).

The third term started with the Knights rebounding out of defence, as Newton had a couple of deft touches in to keep the ball moving in space and heading forward. A timely intercept mark by Patrikios dropping back to half-back repelled the attack. The Knights were pressing however, and eventually the ball got free from Bannan at a stoppage over the top of a couple of opponents to Morris-Dalton who ran on and kicked her third major of the game. Trailing by 26 points, the Cannons had an attempt on goal off the ground but mistimed and went out of bound. Calder was refusing to give in and having its share of opportunities despite Northern being efficient when going forward. Prespakis went onto McKenzie in defence in a match-up that draft watchers were keen to see for the future and the first contest saw Prespakis pick up the loose ball after McKenzie slip over and kick long, then read the ball perfectly again and kicked to the wing. Bannan gave it over to McKenzie who was immediately tackled by Patrikios in defence, but was deemed to have infringed and McKenzie had a set shot which fell short in the square. The Cannons were holding up in defence, but for all the intercept marks in defence, could not push it past half-back and the Knights continued to drive hard forward. Britney Gutknecht had a chance on goal from 40m but it drifted to the right and bounced through for a behind and the Knights led 5.2 (32) to Calder 0.4 (4). The siren sounded and the Knights were 15 minutes away from the premiership glory that eluded them 12 months earlier.

Sensing the urgency in the game, Calder rushed the ball forward and Magri had a shot on goal but just missed. And the deficit was 27 points again. The Cannons continued to push forward and throw everything out on the table, with Theodore pushing forward and taking a good mark and sending it inside 50. It led to Magri winning a free for high contact and having a set shot from 25m out, which drifted to the left and all but spelled the end for Calder’s chances. McKenzie had the highlight of the match, taking a massive seven-bounce run from half-back to half-forward as the crowd got behind her. The Knights were going to hold on with seven minutes left. If the game was not already done and dusted, by the time Bannan ran onto an intercept ball and slammed it home from point blank, it was game over. The Knights were celebrating with just two minutes left as they led by 33 points. The Cannons defence had held up relatively well in a game that the Knights had control of, and were efficient with their inside 50s, but the minor premiers were just too strong, running out the game to run out 33-point winners, 5.9 (39) to 0.6 (6).

Aside from Fitzgerald and Morris-Dalton who were prominent in the forward half, Newton had 15 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Sarah Sansonetti had 14 disposals and three rebounds stopping multiple Cannons attacks. Gutknecht (14 dipsosals, two marks and five tackles) was also prolific for the winners, while Patrikios (24 disposals, nine tackles, six inside 50s and six rebounds) and Prespakis (20 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s, two rebounds) both impressed.

For full game and individual player statistics click here.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 | 5.9 (39)
CALDER CANNONS 0.0 | 0.4 | 0.4 | 0.6 (6)


Northern: N. Morris-Dalton 3, A. Bannan 2, E. McKenzie.
Calder: Nil.


Northern: J. Fitzgerald, G. Newton, N. Morris-Dalton, E. McKenzie, B. Gutknecht, S. Sansonetti
Calder: G. Prespakis, G. Patrikios, E. Yassir, A. Magri, A. Barba, F. Theodore