Category: Tasmania Devils

2021 Draft Central NAB League Girls TOTW: Round 4

DANDENONG Stingrays and Geelong Falcons have picked up a Round 4 competition-high three players in the Draft Central NAB League Girls Team of the Week, in the most difficult week to split players across the board thus far. Every team had a representative, with the evenness between the last 26 so even that we opted for a fourth emergency. Whilst the Stingrays and Falcons had three players each, eight other sides had two representatives a piece, with so many close games, while Gippsland Power and Tasmania Devils had one representative for various reasons.

Dandenong Stingrays’ big win over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels saw them cover each of the three areas on the field, with one defender, midfielder and forward in the Team of the Week. Heading up centre half-back – though she also played forward – is bottom-ager Mackenzie Eardley, who is joined by midfielder Emily Shepherd – for the second time – as well as forward, Jemma Radford. Another talented bottom-ager in Amber Clarke was close to making it but just missed out and was named as one of the emergencies. Despite the 10-goal deficit, the Rebels had two standout players on the day, with Nyakoat Dojiok and Chloe Leonard making the back six.

Geelong Falcons had another trio of players after their third straight win, with Annie Lee making a third straight team and becoming only one of four players to make the team every week thus far. As Draft Central Player of the Week, Lee will captain the hypothetical side. Other Falcons in the team are returning Team of the Week members, Renee Tierney at full-forward, and Tess Craven coming off the bench. Their opponents Eastern Ranges saw ruck Georgia Campbell making the team again, with Keeley Sherar named on the bench as well.

The vice-captain of the team went to Player of the Week runner-up Megan Girolami who slotted six goals up forward for the Northern Knights in their big win over Gippsland Power. She was joined in the team alongside full-back Tarrah Delgado, with an even team performance meaning the likes of Trinity Mills (emergency) were unlucky to miss out. Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser was the most impressive performer from the losing side, and will come off the bench to team up with Campbell through the ruck.

Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers had a thrilling contest up at Epsom Huntly Reserve, with Georgie Prespakis making her third straight Team of the Week, named on the half-forward flank. Fellow Cannons midfielder Zali Friswell enters the team this week, while from the Pioneers, Tara Slender played a bit of everywhere and will suit up at centre half-forward this week, while Jemma Finning was named in a back pocket for her efforts despite the loss. Another tight encounter between Oakleigh Chargers and Tasmania Devils saw the Chargers’ duo of Charlie Rowbottom and Stella Reid make the team for a third straight week, while Perri King joined Rowbottom in the starting midfield. Ella Maurer (emergency) was very close to making the side and was nominated as one of the next best from her impressive performance on the weekend in what was an even Devils performance.

Up in Wangaratta, the usual suspects in Aurora Smith and Keeley Skepper impressed once again for Murray Bushrangers. While the Bushrangers lost, Smith again slotted onto a wing, while Skepper made the bench with both players entering the team for the second time in three games. For the Western Jets, Charlotte Baskaran and Montana Ham both made it in on the wing and half-forward, with Kensley Ward so close we created a fourth emergency spot given her two goals and five tackles on debut.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 4

B: Jemma Finning (BP) – Tarrah Delgado (NK) – Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
HB: Annie Lee (GF) (c) – Mackenzie Eardley (DS) – Chloe Leonard (GWV)
C: Charlotte Baskaran (WJ) – Emily Shepherd (DS) – Aurora Smith (MB)
HF: Montana Ham (WJ) – Tara Slender (BP) – Georgie Prespakis (CC)
F: Megan Girolami (NK) (vc) – Renee Tierney (GF) – Jemma Radford (DS)
R: Georgia Campbell (ER) – Charlie Rowbottom (OC) – Perri King (TD)
INT: Tess Craven (GF) – Zali Friswell (CC) – Grace Matser (GP) – Stella Reid (OC) – Keeley Skepper (MB) – Keeley Sherar (ER)
EMG: Amber Clarke (DS) – Ella Maurer (TD) – Trinity Mills (NK) – Kensley Ward (WJ)

NAB League Girls Round 4 preview: Unbeaten sides to go head-to-head across Super Saturday

NAB League Girls action is back for a second consecutive week – unfortunately for the first time this season due to the Victorian snap lockdown – but it provides teams with a couple of instant classics, as well as sides that are battling for their first wins of the season.

EASTERN RANGES vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday, February 27 @ 10.30am
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

Two unbeaten sides go head-to-head in the early Saturday morning game when Geelong Falcons travel east to take on Eastern Ranges at Kilsyth Recreation Reserve from 10.30am. The Falcons are coming off back-to-back wins over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Bendigo Pioneers in the opening rounds, while the Ranges put Gippsland Power to the sword last week with a record-breaking 114-point win after getting past an inefficient Western Jets in Round 1. Both these sides come into the game as two of the most in-form teams which spells the potential for a classic.

The Ranges’ midfield is a real strength with the likes of Bridget Deed and Olivia Meagher providing inside contested grunt work, and the class of Jorja Livingstone on the outside providing the run. Inside 50, Alyssia Pisano has become a revelation with four goals last week following a promising Round 1 debut, and the bottom-age prospect is shaping as a top-end talent for 2023. Georgia Campbell was outstanding in her effort against Grace Matser last week, and will look to hold down the fort again coming up against Keeley Hardingham of the Falcons, whilst Geelong have a number of inside midfielders themselves with Tess Craven, Poppy Schaap and Charlotte Simpson always having a crack in there.

Up forward, Renee Tierney has already kicked six goals in two games, with captain Lucy Were, and the dynamic Gabbi Featherston capable of anything when inside 50. It will be up to the Ranges’ defence to try and contain the Falcons forward six, with Cadhla Schmidli and Mia Busch having promising starts to the 2021 season. Annie Lee and Elizabeth Dowling up the other end have been impressive at flanking Mia Van Dyke to be a dominant half-back line, intercepting nearly anything that comes their way. The Ranges will need to be smart with their ball use, and pinpoint their passes inside 50 to ensure the best efficiency going forward.

The game is neck and neck, with the Final Siren podcast team split, with Geelong marginally ahead 2-1 in the tipping, though it genuinely could go either way.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Saturday, February 27 @ 11.30am
Ronald Reserve, Morwell East

Two sides looking for a big effort are out at Morwell East when Gippsland Power heads back home to host Northern Knights. It will be their first game at the venue this season following the Round 2 home game with the Eastern Ranges being flipped around and played at Kilsyth Recreation Reserve instead. The Power will be looking to put in a more competitive effort in Round 3 after a 114-point defeat at the hands of Eastern Ranges last round, and will look to do it against a Northern Knights side that looked pretty good against Sandringham Dragons in Round 3. The Knights were blown away by Oakleigh Chargers in Round 1, but responded last week, and Gippsland will look to do the same in this clash.

The Power have a strong inside midfield group, led by Grace McRae who is a natural ball-winner. She will need to lead the way with hard ball gets against a Northern side that feasted on it last week thanks to the work of Maeve Chaplin. Lily-Rose Williamson is another inside body that will help extract the ball from the contest, whilst Matilda Van Berkel can play anywhere from midfield, ruck to key position and was the main interceptor in defence last week. Sunday Brisbane and Yasmin Duursma are happy to run the ball forward and that is where the Power can take advantage, with the Knights missing AFL Women’s Academy member Maykaylah Appleby from the clash.

Matser has a chance to take control in the ruck with dominant hitout specialist Georgia Kitchell also missing the game, though the Knights have plenty of depth to step up. Ella Smallacombe and Megan Girolami were busy last week combining for five goals, and the likes of Van Berkel, Holly Booth and Courtney Fletcher will have their work cut out for them. Expect Tarrah Delgado to continue her form and be a rock in defence, while Brooke Plummer will step up to bring that outside run on a wing and become the key playmaker in the match.

Northern are favourites after last week’s effort, but missing a couple of key personnel could make it a little tougher, but should still get the job done. Gippsland have the strengths to match it with Northern on the inside, with the battle between McRae and Chaplin the highlight.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.15pm
Cathedral College, Wangaratta

Up north, Murray Bushranger host Western Jets in a battle of two winless sides looking to get on the board in season 2021. The Bushrangers went down to Bendigo Pioneers in the opening round, then lost out to GWV Rebels in Round 3. The Jets were unlucky not to capitalise against Eastern Ranges in Round 1, before just falling short against Dandenong Stingrays in Round 3. Heading into this game, the Jets will be keen to make almost-there become success.

Grace Hay returns for the Bushrangers having to juggle her football and netball commitments which immediately strengthens the Bushrangers’ back six and provides another strong ball user out there. She will team up with a half-back line featuring the strong hands of Molly Kennedy – due for a great battle with Jets’ Caitlin Sargent – and Chloe Locke who both can provide some offence to go with their defensive work. Mindy Quade at full-back is another strong player who can win one-on-ones regularly, and use her powerful boot to clear the area. Going head-to-head with Jemima Woods, the Bushrangers’ talls will need to quell the Jets’ targets inside 50.

Two of the more in-form wings could go head-to-head in Charlotte Baskaran and Aurora Smith, with both having outstanding games in the opening two rounds. Montana Ham and Keeley Skepper are two of the most promising prospects for next year and will likely lock horns in the midfield, while Krystal Russell will look to take full advantage in the ruck with Bushrangers’ AFL Women’s Academy member Ally Morphett out. The Bushrangers still have scoring options in the likes of Kristy Whitehead and Sophia McCarthy, while Kate Maxwell and Laura Elliott were good in defence last week.

The Jets are favoured in this contest, but some of the one-on-ones should be fantastic to watch.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.30pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve

From two winless sides to two with a 1-1 record, Bendigo Pioneers host Calder Cannons in a much anticipated Round 4 matchup. The Cannons were arguably the team to beat given their two AFL Women’s Academy members and host of likely Vic Metro talents, but were just outclassed by an incredible Oakleigh Chargers outfit last week, after knocking off Sandringham Dragons in the opening round. Bendigo took out Murray Bushrangers in the opening round, but then suffered defeat at the hands of Geelong Falcons in Round 3, so will be looking to make up for that loss with a huge scalp here.

Tara Slender returns from a concussion precaution that kept her out of the Pioneers’ Round 3 loss, and will play a crucial role at centre half-forward. It forces one of Neve Crowley or Kasey Lennox to make sure she has a close-checking key defender on her, with Tegan Williams seamlessly slotting into Slender’s role up the opposite end of the ground. Bottom-ager Lila Keck, as well as top-ager Lily Den Houting have been named inside 50, and could provide scoring options for the home team. Meanwhile up the other end, Alisa Magri and Jessica Zakkour could be targets inside 50 for the Cannons.

The ruck battle between Madeline Marks and Peppa Poultney will be a fascinating one, with the Pioneers midfield getting a huge challenge to try and contain the Cannons’ onball group. Georgie Prespakis and Zali Friswell will head in with Emelia Yassir this week, while Elizabeth Snell and Jayda Richardson will line up with Chantelle Mitchell to try and take control in there.

The Cannons will go in as strong favourites, but the Pioneers are back to full strength with Slender returning, and if they can get on top in the midfield, anything is possible.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.30pm
Twin Ovals

After missing out in Round 2, Tasmania Devils return to Twin Ovals for their first home game of the year. They take on Oakleigh Chargers who 12 months ago, took them to pieces in a triple-figure victory on the Apple Isle. Fast forward to 2021, and the Devils are a stronger, more cohesive unit that are coming off an impressive 12-goal win over Gippsland Power in the opening round. Oakleigh Chargers are a different group altogether and right now the benchmark of the competition, which gives Tasmania a great chance to measure themselves against the top team.

The Devils were able to have high efficiency going forward in Round 1, with Amy Prokopiec slotting four goals – including two in the first quarter – against the Power, while Amy Bissett also nailed a couple of majors. Having Charlie Vandenberg take the first ruck spot has enabled Camilla Taylor to be another target inside 50, while the midfield group of Perri King, Ella Maurer and Claire Ransom was terrific against the Power. Now they meet the most dominant group in the league, with Charlie Rowbottom, Amanda Ling and Eliza James on-ball, and Stella Reid tearing it up on the the outside.

Tasmania will need to ensure the Oakleigh midfield does not get off the chain as the Chargers can score quickly and heavily when given the chance, especially with Jemma Rigoni and Ameille Smith being targets inside 50. Charlotte Thomas and Candice Belbin are some of the defensive options back there for the Devils, whilst up the other end, Brooke Vickers has been a source of run and carry for the Chargers. If Oakleigh can get the ball forward, they have an abundance of smalls running around at the feet of the talls, such as Taylah Morton who could hit the scoreboard.

Overall, the Chargers have passed every test thrown at them and deserve to be overall favourites. The key to this game is seeing how much the Devils have progressed in 12 months, and if they can cause a huge boilover in front of their home fans.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS VS. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Sunday, February 28 @ 11.30am
MARS Stadium

The standalone Sunday game is a must-watch, with the GWV Rebels sitting 1-1 and the Dandenong Stingrays 1-0 after a delayed entry into the competition. The Stingrays were due to return to the competition in Round 2, but Victoria’s snap lockdown pushed it back a week, where they took care of the Western Jets in a competitive match. The Rebels had a similar clash in Round 1 going down to the Falcons, before they put Murray Bushrangers to the sword in a seven goals to two first half last week at Epsom Huntly, then steadied in the second half to record a strong win.

The Rebels are one of only two sides – with Calder Cannons – that have two AFL Women’s Academy members, and this week Nyakoat Dojiok has been named beside Ella Friend in the half-forward line. With Dandenong’s abundance of strong defenders, it provides the Rebels midfield with another target to use, and Dojiok is more than capable of taking on opponents at ground level. Mackenzie Eardley will have a huge job on the contested-making Friend, while Tahlia Meier works hard both ways and will need to hit the scoreboard whilst being aware her opponent Brooke Smith can do damage the other way. Zoe Hill, Jemma Radford and Jaide Anthony are all capable of intercepting in the back 50, so the Rebels will need to be good with their ball use.

In midfield, Amber Clarke has been thrown there alongside last week’s Draft Central Player of the Week Emily Shepherd, and top-age talent Abbey Jordan. The trio of Paige Scott, Lilli Condon and Crystal Summers worked well for the Rebels in Round 3, and they will lock horns in a fantastic battle of inside midfields. Chloe Leonard is the key for the Rebels off half-back, though Molly Walton has also made a splash for the Rebels in her debut season, and they will have to rebound the Stingrays’ attacks, with Ashleigh Richards one to watch inside 50 who could do some damage.

This is a 50-50 game and both these teams have such a well-balanced list. The Stingrays might be able to get the job done due to their intercepting firepower, but the Rebels have plenty of attacking options. Expect it to be a tough, low-scoring game.

NAB League Girls top debutants shine

DEBUTS are memorable occasions, and for a number of NAB League Girls, that chance came on the weekend. In this feature piece we take a look at some of those players who managed to catch the eye in their first games, be it due to missing out previously through injury or inexperience, or brand new to their respective club this season.

When looking across the entire competition, five players made the Draft Central Team of the Week for Round 1 and were standouts across all thirds on the ground. Starting in defence, Eastern Ranges’ Mia Busch collected an equal competition-high eight rebounds to go with her 16 disposals, three marks and two tackles. Busch is a 2022 draft eligible player and she enjoyed a memorable debut after being on the list last year but only playing her first game on the weekend.

Starting in the ruck in our Team of the Week was Western Jets’ tall Krystal Russell who racked up 23 hitouts – the second most across the league for Round 1 – to go with a very impressive 11 disposals, three marks and three tackles. She was a standout in the Jets’ loss, earning a spot in the team with our Player of the Week for Round 1, Charlotte Baskaran.

The third debutant who made the starting side in our Team of the Week was Oakleigh Chargers’ Ameille Smith, racking up seven disposals, one mark, three hitouts, two tackles and booted three opportunistic goals. The 175cm forward booted the most goals of any of the debutants this week and helped her side record a memorable win over reigning premiers, Northern Knights.

Earning a place on our Team of the Week interchange were Sandringham Dragons midfielder Keely Coyne and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels defender Molly Walton. Coyne picked up 16 disposals and laid six tackles in an imposing performance despite the Dragons’ loss, while Walton was steadfast against much more experienced opponents, grabbing three marks from 14 disposals, five tackles and having six rebounds.

Other debutants who caught the eye include Geelong Falcons’ Charlotte Simpson (20 disposals, 10 tackles, two inside 50s and four rebounds), Bendigo Pioneers’ Lila Keck (14 disposals, 11 tackles and three inside 50s), Calder Cannons’ Harriet Cashmore (13 disposals, two tackles and three rebounds) and Murray Bushrangers’ Zara Hamilton (10 disposals, two rebounds). Oakleigh Chargers had a trio of additional players who reached double-figure disposals, with Jorja Jackson (11 disposals, two tackles and two goals), Ruby Van der Vlies (11 disposals, two marks and two inside 50s) and Caitlin Matthews (10 disposals, three hitouts and two tackles) all impressing.

With nine of the 12 teams covered above, the top disposal winners on debut from the remaining three teams were Tasmania Devils’ Madison Brazendale (13 disposals, two marks and four tackles), Northern Knights’ Ava Jordan (nine disposals) and Gippsland Power’s Molly Van Berkel (seven disposals). The Devils had a number of double-figure disposal winners with Georgia Clark (11 disposals, six tackles) and Candice Belbin (11 disposals, three tackles), while Charlie Vandenberg had 17 hitouts and six tackles to go with nine touches.

DEBUTANTS IN THE TEAM OF THE WEEK:

Mia Busch (Eastern Ranges)
DEFENDER | 16 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 8 rebounds

Krystal Russell (Western Jets)
RUCK | 11 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 23 hitouts, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound

Keely Coyne (Sandringham Dragons)
MIDFIELDER | 16 disposals, 1 mark, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s

Molly Walton (GWV Rebels)
DEFENDER | 14 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 6 rebounds

Ameille Smith (Oakleigh Chargers)
FORWARD | 7 disposals, 1 mark, 3 hitouts, 2 tackles, 3 goals

2021 Draft Central NAB League Girls TOTW: Round 1

FOUR teams have recorded an equal round-high three players in Draft Central’s first NAB League Girls’ Team of the Week for 2021. Calder Cannons, Geelong Falcons, Oakleigh Chargers and Tasmania Devils all had three players make the team this week, in what was a really difficult week to narrow down to just 24 players. The remaining two winners – Bendigo Pioneers and Eastern Ranges – had two apiece, as did Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets.

Tasmania Devils recorded their first win in the club’s history over the weekend with a comprehensive victory over Gippsland Power. Amy Prokopiec booted 4.2 in a standout effort up forward, slotting into full-forward in our Team of the Week given her competition-high goal haul. She was not the only one, with Claire Ransom and Amy Bissett both making the team after eye-catching performances in the front half of the ground. On the opposition team, it was impossible to overlook Grace McRae who picked up a game-high 22 touches and was constantly working across the four quarters to be the clear best Gippsland player on the day.

Calder Cannons midfield duo of Emelia Yassir and Georgie Prespakis both made the squad, with Yassir named in the centre and Prespakis coming off the bench, while ruck/forward Tahlia Gillard starts at centre half-forward and will rotate through the ruck. She will team up with Western Jets’ Krystal Russell, who had an outstanding performance of 11 disposals, 23 hitouts and six inside 50s during the Jets’ loss to Eastern Ranges. Speaking of outstanding performances, Western’s Charlotte Baskaran had an equal team-high 28 disposals and was a no brainer to slot onto a wing in the team. Her 28 touches, five marks, 11 tackles, eight inside 50s and three rebounds earned her a nomination for Player of the Week and captain for the week.

Oakleigh’s Charlie Rowbottom was the standout player across the weekend, slotting two goals from 28 touches, five tackles and nine inside 50s to earn the vice-captaincy of this week’s team. She is joined by fellow ball-winner Stella Reid who has been included off half-back after a huge effort roaming through there and the wing with 25 disposals, seven inside 50s and two goals. Ameille Smith slotted three goals up forward and earned a spot in a power-packed forward line. Northern Knights were on the receiving end of a rare loss, but leader and full-back Tarrah Delgado was steadfast in defeat, earning a spot in the back six of the team.

Bendigo Pioneers produced an impressive win, and a couple of players who slotted multiple goals in Elizabeth Snell and Jayda Richardson both made the squad. They sit at half-forward and forward pocket respectively, whilst Murray Bushrangers’ top player on the day Aurora Smith earned a place on the wing. The other winners on Saturday were Eastern Ranges, who provided the Team of the Week with two defenders in Mia Busch and Cadhla Schmidli. Both produced impressive performances from the back half, with Busch recoding an equal round-high eight rebounds in the opening round.

Also recording an equal round-high eight rebounds was GWV Rebels’ Chloe Leonard who was her side’s best in the defeat to Geelong Falcons on Sunday. She amassed 21 disposals, six tackles and eight rebounds playing in defence and then pushing up the ground to earn a spot in our Team of the Week. Also in the team was Molly Walton who impressed in defence on debut for the Rebels. The Falcons managed to have three players make the side, with rebounding defender Annie Lee slotting into centre half-back, while Tess Craven and Poppy Schaap making the interchange, only due to the strength of the midfield cohort this round.

The final member of the 24-player team is Sandringham Dragons’ Keely Coyne who stood out in the Dragons’ defeat to Calder, with Bridie Hipwell named an emergency after unfortunately injuring herself midway through the contest having had a promising start. Also emergencies in the team were Rebels’ Lilli Condon and Bushrangers’ Grace Hay who both stood out in what reiterated just how tough narrowing the team down to 24 players was this week.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 1

B: Cadhla Schmidli (ER) – Tarrah Delgado (NK) – Chloe Leonard (GWV)
HB: Mia Busch (ER) – Annie Lee (GF) – Stella Reid (OC)
C: Charlotte Baskaran (WJ) (c) – Emelia Yassir (CC) – Aurora Smith (MB)
HF: Elizabeth Snell (BP) – Tahlia Gillard (CC) – Claire Ransom (TD)
F: Jayda Richardson (BP) – Amy Prokopiec (TD) – Ameille Smith (OC)
R: Krystal Russell (WJ) – Charlie Rowbottom (OC) (vc) – Grace McRae (GP)
INT: Amy Bissett (TD) – Keely Coyne (SD) – Tess Craven (GF) – Georgie Prespakis (CC) – Poppy Schaap (GF) – Molly Walton (GWV)

EMG:
Lilli Condon (GWV) – Grace Hay (MB) – Bridie Hipwell (SD)

NAB League Girls action returns today

AFTER almost 12 months of waiting, the NAB League Girls competition will kick off today for the first of nine rounds and three weeks of finals in 2021.

The season will have eight consecutive weeks of action between February 6 and March 28, before the players have a break for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. The final round will be played on the Anzac Day weekend, with finals to begin on the first weekend of May.

The highlights include the Northern Academies entering the fray in Round 6, with the two Queensland Academies – Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns – taking on Northern Knights and Eastern Ranges respectively in a double-header at Latrobe University. In the same round, Sydney Swans Academy will travel to face Geelong Falcons, while GWS GIANTS Academy takes on Murray Bushrangers. Northern Territory Academy will feature in two matches either side of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Eastern Ranges.

Given 13 teams are full-time in the competition, at least one team will receive a bye each week in the first seven weeks, to play eight matches this season. The Labour Day long weekend will only see three matches played, including a special Friday night fixture between Dandenong Stingrays and Oakleigh Chargers at Bluescope Recreation Centre in Hastings. Bluescope Recreation Centre will be another home for Dandenong Stingrays, while Tasmania Devils will play four home games at four different venues.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions reducing the amount of matches able to be played at grounds without sufficient time for cleaning of changerooms, there will be minimal double headers aside from grounds large enough to host teams thanks to multiple changerooms. These grounds include Epsom Huntly Reserve and Highgate Recreation Reserve.

The opening round kicks off this Saturday with the first official bounce coming at Kilsyth Recreation Reserve where Eastern Ranges host Western Jets. Up north, Murray Bushrangers take on Bendigo Pioneers at Yarrawonga Football Ground, and Gippsland Power host Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve. On Sunday, Geelong Falcons take on GWV Rebels at Deakin University, before a double-header at Highgate with the remaining four metropolitan teams – Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons, and Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers – lock horns.

Dandenong Stingrays have the bye in the first round before hosting the Dragons in Round 2 at Frankston Park. The first double-header at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Valentine’s Day will see Bendigo Pioneers and GWV Rebels go head-to-head, before Murray Bushrangers and Geelong Falcons face off.

The full fixture can be found on the NAB League app.

NAB League Girls Round 1 fixture:

Saturday, February 6:
Eastern Ranges vs. Western Jets @ Kilsyth Recreation Reserve, 12pm
Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers @ Yarrawonga Football Ground, 12.15pm
Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils @ Highgate Recreation Reserve, 12.30pm

Sunday, February 7:
Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels @ Deakin University – Geelong, 11am
Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons @ Highgate Recreation Reserve, 11am
Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers @ Highgate Recreation Reserve, 12.45pm

NAB League Girls Round 1 preview: Undefeated 2020 sides to face off in huge round of action

AT least one of the three undefeated sides from the 2020 NAB League Girls season will extend their winning run to 18 months or more, when the competition returns this weekend. Starting tomorrow, the NAB League Girls will have six games across four different venues – including one double-header – in a new footballing landscape for 2021. For Dandenong Stingrays, they will have to tack on an extra week to their extended break that saw the 2020 season come to an unfulfilled end last year, after they were handed the bye. For the 12 other teams, it will be a chance to start the season off on the right note. For the likes of Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, they look to continue what they started last year, having not lost since 2019, or in the Knights’ case, the 2018 grand final.

Eastern Ranges vs. Western Jets
Saturday, February 6 @ 12pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

In what is officially the first NAB League Girls game in almost 12 months, Western Jets will cross the West Gate Bridge and head down to Kilsyth Recreation Reserve where the Eastern Ranges will be waiting for them. These teams last played way back in Round 4, 2019, when the Ranges easily accounted for the Jets by 43 points. A dominant second half where they booted 6.2 to 0.0 saw them run out 7.4 to 0.3 winners, with Olivia Meagher picking up 17 disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s.

Meagher has been named for the match tomorrow, with last year’s captain to play as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. She is the only Ranges player from that match to remain on the list, whilst a trio of then 15-year-old talents in Caitlin Sargent, Trinity Skenderis and Jemima Woods – as well as now top-age and over-age talents respectively, Nikita Wright and Ciara Singleton – all remain on the Jets’ list having played in that match.

Looking at the teams, the match will be won and lost in the middle, with the Jets having some great height, whilst the Ranges have speed to burn. That is not to say the respective teams do not have the opposite as well, but they are damaging in their respective areas. For the home team, Jorja Livingstone was a player who really shone last year and is a clean ball user and able to work her way out of stoppages. She will team up with the likes of Meagher and Bridget Deed in the middle, roving Georgia Campbell‘s taps. Up forward, Matilda Hardy, Jade Hutchison and Isabella Khoury are ones to watch, whilst Saskia Nannes will be a potential big improver with more matches after having the season cut short last year.

For Western, their under-age group is brimming with talent, though now with extra experience, Sargent, Skenderis and Woods will be among those to watch. Montana Ham and Charlotte Baskaran present as two of the top 2022 prospects, with Ham’s versatility and size through the midfield hard to match, while Baskaran’s run and carry – as well as her elite use by foot – will provide a one-two punch that is always difficult to combat.

This is a game that could go right down to the wire, and difficult to predict with so many new players, but Eastern might have the upper hand at home.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.15pm
JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga

From the east to the far north, Murray Bushrangers will host Bendigo Pioneers in a terrific spectacle for the country regions at Yarrawonga. Both these teams have a talented tall in the AFL Women’s Academy which makes things exciting. These two teams have also not played since March 30, 2019 when the Pioneers – during their most successful season to-date – toppled the Bushrangers by 14 points in Wangaratta.

That day it was Annabel Strahan (now Bulldogs) who had 20 touches, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) and Brooke Hards (17 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) who teamed up to cause havoc on the Bushrangers, while Millie Brown (now Geelong) racked up 27 disposals and six rebounds, and Abby Favell (22 disposals, five marks eight tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds) were the best for the losing side.

A then 15-year-old Ally Morphett had 11 disposals, two marks, 14 hitouts and two inside 50s, with the now AFL Women’s Academy member looming as the key player for the Bushrangers. Bendigo’s Academy member Tara Slender also played in that match, picking up seven disposals and having six hitouts, though the pair are unlikely to spend too much time one-on-one considering Slender will roll through a key position role and Morphett will be one of the dominant rucks in the competition.

Looking at the overall squads, Murray’s defence is strong given the likes of Mindy Quade and Kristy Whitehead provided plenty of run down there – though could be utilised further up the ground this season. Lily Sharp has been touted as one to watch by the Bushrangers’ coaching staff following a big off-season, and Keeley Skepper remains one of Vic Country’s top talents for 2022. Kate Adams returning as co-captain and providing experience and strength in the midfield will also be important.

For the Pioneers, Slender could be the top Vic Country prospect this year and will always be difficult to beat in the air, with the Pioneers’ captain not having to shoulder the ruck load given Madeline Marks‘ efforts in 2020. She will have her hands full against Morphett but it could be a fascinating battle, while Jayda Richardson, and now top-age talents Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning provide much needed experience to a really young Pioneers outfit.

Murray is excited about the depth of its squad in 2021, and while the Pioneers have some great young talents coming through, the extra experience for the Bushrangers – and what they started to show last year – should have them favourites at home in Yarrawonga.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.30pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In a battle between two teams that are building exciting programs, Gippsland Power “hosts” Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve. The furthest south east side travel up the highway to welcome the league’s newest team that only managed to taste one game in Victoria last year. The Devils had a rough introduction to the NAB League Girls competition – though the improvement from their brutal loss to Oakleigh Chargers to being competitive for the most part against Eastern Ranges has plenty of people buoyant about what they could produce in 2021.

These teams have never played before, and both have younger lists, sprinkled with some top-age and over-age experience. Key position players Camilla Taylor and Shanara Notman are the 20-year-old allowances in those sides, and have the size to cause a matchup dilemma for their respective opponents. Tasmania Devils have the sole AFL Women’s Academy member in this match, with the speedy Perri King looking to breakdown the Power’s zones and create some important run and carry for her side.

Aside from King, Amy Prokopiec remains a player to watch, having predominantly played as a last-line defender in previous seasons for the Devils, but became a reliable goalscoring threat in the TSL Women’s for Clarence. Other players who stood out 12 months ago include Jemma Blair, Aprille Crooks, Chelsea Thomas, Zoe Bourne and Meghan Gaffney. Having received an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite without managing to get on the park in the NAB League Girls, Charlie Vandenberg will get a great opportunity in the ruck and rotating forward with Taylor against one of Vic Country’s top ruck prospects.

Grace Matser is going to be difficult to stop, with the ruck battle set to be a duel within the match not to be missed. As the only Power player above 180cm, she will look to control the airways. The Gippsland midfield has some nice depth to it, with Grace McRae returning to the fold after being unlucky to miss out on the draft in 2020, and will get a good chance to play consecutive games this season. Matilda Van Berkel is another one with experience and able to play a number of roles, while Holly Booth and Sunday Brisbane are among those tipped to cause problems for the opposition. One name to remember for next year is Lily-Rose Williamson who has come through the V/Line Cup program and been one ready to step up at the level.

This game is as 50/50 as they come, so as is often the case in 50/50 games, we will lean towards the “home” team in Gippsland Power, though Tasmania Devils will be keen to sniff out their first win in the competition.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Deakin University – Geelong

The final country game of the round occurs down in Geelong at Deakin University when the Falcons host the GWV Rebels. Much like the earlier two Saturday games, these two teams last played back in Round 4, 2019, when the Falcons – on their way to another finals series and coming off a premiership in 2018 – defeated the young Rebels by 36 points at City Oval in Ballarat. Luka Lesosky-Hay (31 disposals), Darcy Moloney (23) and Lucy McEvoy (22) all suffered leather poisoning and showed why they were capable of playing at the top level, whilst Nekaela Butler picked up 21 disposals and had six rebounds bravely defending for the home team.

There are a sprinkling of players from that day that remain on the lists in 2021, such as AFL Women’s Academy member Ella Friend, and Chloe Leonard and Crystal Summers (GWV Rebels), and Zoe Garth, Renee Tierney, Poppy Schapp and Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong). Those players will provide great experience for their respective sides in that clash, in what is sure to feature some of the best talent in the NAB League Girls competition.

The Falcons might not have an Academy member, but have plenty of developing young players, with Dowling a presence in the back half but can play anywhere, Annie Lee beside her in defence, Keeley Hardingham controlling the ruck, and Mia Van Dyke a bottom-age prospect who will be one to watch for next year able to roll through the midfield. Geelong has always been a team flushed with depth, and 2021 appears to be the same, with no shortage of talent across all three lines.

Alongside Friend – who will be that taller marking target at half-forward – Nyakoat Dojiok is the other AFL Women’s Academy member on the Rebels’ list. The running defender could start off half-back or roam along a wing depending on the team’s needs, able to add that mix of power and acceleration to breakaway from would-be tacklers. Leonard returns to the club as a new top-ager and one who will settle down the defence, while Stephanie Glover, Lilli Condon and Summers are some of the names to watch in the match.

Geelong have had such success over the past few years, it is hard to look past them at home. The Rebels will provide a great contest, but we will find out where both these teams are at following the Round 1 encounter.

Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In the first double-header of the year, a star-studded Calder Cannons outfit hosts an ever-growing talent base in the Sandringham Dragons. The last time these two met was in 2019 back in Round 3, as the Cannons went on to make the grand final that year. They only scored two behinds in the first half and trailed by five points at the main break, before booting the last four goals of the game to win 4.8 (32) to 1.3 (9) over the Dragons at Trevor Barker Oval.

Alice Burke (St Kilda) and Sarah Hartwig (Bulldogs) were among the top players for the Dragons, whilst it was Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda) and Krstel Petrevski (Melbourne) who shone from those who have been drafted. Best on ground that day was Georgie Prespakis who lit it up with 23 disposals, three marks, eight tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The now-Cannons captain will look to have an equally big impact this year, while Emelia Yassir, Kasey Lennox, Alisa Magri, Zali Friswell and Neve Crowley are just a handful of the talented names who also played as 15/16-year-old talents on that day.

The Cannons have proven to have such great development over the past few years, and all the above names along with Mali McLeod, Peppa Poultney and Jessica Zakkour makes them a rock solid team across the board. Though their opponents are no slouches either. Back in the 2019 clash, now-captain Kiana Lynch, as well as the likes of Charli Murphy, Summer Trim, Emma Stuber, Isabella Stutt, Ebony Angelopoulos and Chloe Saultry all took to the field, so the Dragons have a core of players with plenty of experience under their belt.

Murphy will provide that marking target up forward, while Lynch will lead a host of bottom-agers with future potential. Bridie Hipwell and Sofia Hurley are just a couple of names who still have another year to go after this one, but are becoming key players in the Dragons outfit going forward. They made great strides last season and play what would be considered the benchmark team in the competition first-up here.

Calder Cannons deserve to be favourites for the overall title, so it is hard to tip against them in any game. The Dragons will be up and about and likely to be among the contenders this season too, so buckle up for an exciting contest.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
Sunday, February 7 @ 12.45pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

Wrapping up the weekend might just be the tightest of the lot, with both Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers going undefeated last year, and technically the Knights are still the reigning premiers from 2019. Both these sides had a host of players drafted in 2020, with the Knights having the first three Victorian players taken in the draft. These two sides played back in Round 2, 2019, when they played out a thrilling draw in what would be the only match where the Knights did not collect the full points that season.

Future AFL Women’s talents, Ellie McKenzie, Britney Gutknecht, Gabby Newton and Alyssa Bannan were the best for the Knights, while Mimi Hill, Joanna Lin, Alana Porter and Emily Harley all shone for the Chargers. Also playing that day was now AFL Women’s Academy member, Maykaylah Appleby who leads the Knights charge in 2021, with Teleah Smart, Mikayla Plunkett, Jessica Simpson and Tallia Pulcino among the current-listed Northern players running around that day.

Appleby is the one to watch this season, but the Knights have brought back a host of top-age players such as Plunkett, Pulcino, Maeve Chaplin, Trinity Mills and Gulia Ceravolo, so have plenty of experience to guide the next crop of Knights talents. Some names to watch this year aside from the above group with a point to prove are the likes of defender Tarrah Delgado and ruck Georgia Kitchell who showed some promising signs in the short 2020 season.

The Chargers had the likes of Taylah Morton, Kalarni Kearns, Charlie Rowbottom, Eliza James and Emma Chamberlain running around in the draw with the Knights, and have been growing some phenomenal depth of late. Rowbottom is the AFL Women’s Academy talent and if she crosses paths with Appleby, it will provide plenty of highlights. Add in the likes of top-ager Amanda Ling, middle-ager Stella Reid, and bottom-ager Rianna Thiele, and the Chargers have built an exciting list.

Another 50/50 split game that could go either way. It is hard to look past the Knights’ success rate, but what the Chargers were starting to do last year, the depth is among the best going around so Oakleigh could become the first team to knock off Northern in almost three years.

Pressure and development key for Devils in 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basketballer Viney has team-first mindset

AFTER injuring herself at the start of her middle-age year, dual-sport athlete India Viney is hoping for a clean run. Not only is she hoping to have some luck in 2021, but put her best foot forward to help the Tasmania Devils pick up a few more wins than in their maiden season, regardless of the on-field role she plays.

“I’ve been playing football for three seasons now and absolutely loving it,” Viney said. “I came from basketball in the state development program and then one of the girls, Jemma Blair who’s here today actually said ‘come along let’s have a bit of a game in juniors’ and I ended up sticking it out and I’m absolutely loving it.”

Having been more than capable to play either sport, there was an intrinsic pull to the oblong-shaped ball game and Viney said the “culture” was something special amongst women’s football.

“Definitely the culture and all the girls getting around each other as it’s a fairly new sport for women, and it’s quite empowering and makes you feel very confident about yourself,” Viney said of what made her fall in love with the sport.

Her long-term goal is to “play at the highest level that I can as an individual” and said former Tasmania Devils’ star and now North Melbourne AFL Women’s midfielder, Mia King was a key inspiration through her journey.

“She (King) is one of my good friends from home, so we went to the same school, had a mutual friend and became close friends, did a few things together,” Viney said.

Being a smaller player, Viney enjoys applying pressure to the ball carrier and is willing to do whatever it takes to get her team across the line through second and third efforts.

“(My strengths are) definitely heat around the ball and I love playing that defensive role and really going all out and trying to nail down that target and just make sure that our team has possession,” Viney said. “And always just doing that density thing we do with Tassie Devils, so it’s great.”

As for her improvements, it was all about getting a clean run and then taking it one step at a time to chase the ultimate goal of following in King’s footsteps to make it to the AFL Women’s competition.

“Definitely not injuring myself at the start of the season, and just really focusing on trying to get a game and sticking out in the squad and trying in future, I’d love to play at the highest level because I love the competition that the game brings,” Viney said.

While individual aspirations are one thing, Viney’s main focus was having some success with the Devils this year in the NAB League Girls, even if she not in the team.

“I’d love the team to win, just Devils doesn’t matter if I’m playing or not,” Viney said. “Just see them get up there in the finals and come from last season as the underdogs and just really rule the competition so that would be great.”

Tasmania Devils open their season against Gippsland Power at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Saturday, February 6.

King eyes improvement beyond achievements

DESPITE making history by becoming Tasmania Devils’ first ever goalkicker, and then backing up her NAB League Girls season with entry into the AFL Women’s Academy for 2021, Perri King is not content to rest on her laurels. Instead of worrying about what is out of her control in terms of draft contention, King has set her sights on improving areas of her game to be the most complete player she can be.

My improvements and what I really want to work on would definitely be, getting the hands out more rather than kicking straight away,” King said. “Use my teammates to handball and get it back, so that’s what I’m trying to improve on this year for this season.”

Having come through the Tasmanian football pathway, King has always been involved in football one way or another given her family’s connections to the sport. It was not until a few years ago that King finally took the plunge once a female football pathway opened up and she started on a journey that would lead her to the elite junior level.

I started football in 2017, so four years I’ve been playing,” King said. “But I’ve always been around my brother and my dad’s team since I was little. “I’ve always wanted to play since then, but since female footy wasn’t really around then I waited until 2017 because I did other sports. “When it was introduced to Tassie, that’s where I got introduced to it a year later.”

Having arrived at the Devils, King was about to find out just how high-level the program was, with plenty of extra requirements and standards that help develop aspiring AFL Women’s players to be the best possible player on and off the field.

“I started as juniors and I’ve been going to seniors and then the Devils and the standards just keep getting higher and higher each year,” King said. “Devils is high standards, more testing, it’s more serious, more opportunities from the Devils from what we would normally get in Tassie than we would get in the state league. “There’s more opportunities for us in this program than what it would be like through juniors and the state league as well.”

King is known for her speed and strength, which allows her to be a powerful player around the ground, but will likely be a prominent midfielder when the Devils take to the field in the 2021 NAB League Girls competition.

“I see my strengths as speed and my aggression to the football,” King said. “Really just speed, so I have the capability to get the ball and give it to my teammates, and my aggression when in defence, when I attack or I fight to get the ball.”

Already having tasted NAB League Girls action last year, King became the first – and given the season was cut short before the Devils could play another game – only goalkicker, writing her name into the history books. It was a feat that was not lost on King, who praised her teammates for helping her achieve the feat.

“I was actually quite gobsmacked because I never thought I’d be the first Tassie girl to kick a goal,” King said. “It was such an honour, but without the help of my teammates it wouldn’t have happened either. “It was such a big moment because it was our first year in the actual NAB League. “It was sad that it got cut short, but I’m keen for this year with the girls.”

King has always had support from her family, who she said are among her inspirations on her football journey that is only a few years in.

“My biggest inspiration would probably be my dad and my cousin, because they’ve always helped me with football and always pushed me and pushed me to do better, and made me believe myself when I didn’t,” King said.

As for her ultimate goal, King wants to play at the elite level, but also wants to enter the system as prepared as she can be, so 2021 looms as a massive year for the teenager who is solely focused on herself and improving areas of her game.

“I would really like to get drafted, but I would like to improve my footy abilities more, and get to know the girls more because it’s a new team,” King said. “But one day I would like to get drafted so that’s what I’m aiming for.

“I need to obviously do more skill work, so I can improve on that. “The main one for me would be my mental state, because sometimes I can’t believe I can do it when I probably could, so I need to improve on that so then I can go to the next step and not doubt myself.”

Bourne eyes team success with Devils

ZOE Bourne enjoyed her experience with Tasmania Devils in the NAB League Girls last season, however brief it might have been. The team lost both its games, but it was a memorable time for the talented teenager who now has a team-oriented goal for the 2021 season.

“As a team goal I think just to win some games,” Bourne said. “Obviously we didn’t get much of a chance last year, but I think we have a really strong team this year so hopefully we can get over there and win a few.”

The top-age player has come through the development pathways in the Apple Isle, following her brother into the code, and making her way all the way to the Devils’ program at the elite junior level.

“I started footy when my brother played a lot of football when he was growing up and I sort of got around it then, and then I started playing for North Launceston Juniors,” Bourne said. “So this will be my fourth season of footy. “I played for them for two years, and then went to North (Launceston) TSLW for a year, and then unfortunately that collapsed. I started playing Devils last year, and this year obviously Devils and playing for Old Scotch in the NTFA.”

Predominantly a pressure high half-forward, Bourne is a fierce player who is clean at ground level and eyes off crumbing the tall forwards when inside 50. Using her speed and agility at ground level, Bourne is able to create scoring opportunities through separation from her opponent. In 2021, the North Launceston now Old Scotch-aligned talent is looking to improve her fitness in a more challenging competition.

“Being able to get the ball a lot more, then using it a bit more and using it a bit more smarter with the ball,” Bourne said. “It’s (pathway) definitely been a big change, last year playing Devils was a lot different to playing club football. “The standard is very different, I find it a bit more challenging, but it’s a good challenge. “It’s really eye-opening and you get to know that kind of standard so it makes you a better player.”

Her brother has been someone she has looked up to throughout her football journey and now as she enters her top-age year, she is looking to perform to her best to just see where her football can take her.

“He’s the one I’ve watched playing footy and I wanted to get into it because of him, and he taught me all the foundations and skills that I’ve been able to bring to club footy,” Bourne said. “I guess I’ll just see how far I can go through the Devils program and maybe the draft and see where that goes.”