Category: News

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Richmond

A BAPTISM of fire awaited Richmond in its highly-anticipated inaugural AFL Women’s campaign, going winless in the shortened six-round season despite having made one of the more eye-catching expansion team recruiting drives. Skippered by veteran former-Bulldog marquee Katie Brennan, the Tigers began life in the elite competition with a 34-point thumping at the hands of Carlton, and never quite recovered.

Brennan missed the last month of the season, leaving much of the on-field leadership down to Monique Conti‘s brilliance through midfield, while a relatively inexperienced list exterior needed time to settle in. Starting from the bottom, relive the highs and lows of Richmond’s maiden AFLW run in our first of 14 club-by-club reviews, with key players highlighted throughout.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Carlton by 34 points
R2: lost to Gold Coast by 11 points
R3: lost to North Melbourne by 56 points
R4:
lost to Geelong by 22 points
R5:
lost to GWS by 45 points
R6:
lost to St Kilda by 39 points

Five losses by over 22 points tell the story of Richmond’s efforts this season, which were capped off by a record breaking effort in Round 6 – for the wrong reasons – in becoming the first AFLW side to be held goalless for an entire match. There were a total of 17 goalless terms for the Tigers in a season where they clearly struggled for territory and thus, goals. The closest the Tigers came to victory was in Round 2 against fellow expansion team, Gold Coast on the road, but they kicked themselves out of the contest with 0.8 after quarter time. It was tough going from that point with a 56-point loss to North Melbourne coming next, but an entertaining game against Geelong was a relative high point, as the Tigers booted a season-best 7.3 (45).

SEASON HIGH: The four-goal third term against Geelong

While it may not sound like much of a high, Richmond’s big third term effort against Geelong gave fans a taste of what may be to come once the Tigers can jell. In a game where Richmond eclipsed its goal effort from the entire first three rounds, over half of them came in that third quarter and gave the Tigers a sniff of victory. While it was not to be, the four majors across a scintillating 10 minutes contributed to the side’s greatest AFLW score in what was Brennan’s final game for the year.

SEASON LOW: Posting the first ever goalless game against St Kilda

Becoming the competition’s first side to go through a game without a goal is disappointing enough, but to do it against a fellow expansion side would have compounded the hurt following Richmond’s Round 6 fixture. The Tigers were also held scoreless for half the match, with their three points scored over the second and fourth terms at Moorabbin. Credit must go to the fantastic Saints, who were simply on fire on home turf against the lacklustre Tigers.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Katie Brennan (12.3 disposals, 1.5 marks, 4 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1.8 inside 50s, 0.25 goals)

A transition to midfield beckoned for Brennan as her fresh start began, with the experienced former-forward looking to lead from the engine room. While her leadership and invaluable experience put the Tigers in good stead, Brennan unfortunately struggled to get her own game going at times with a season-high disposal haul of 14. Brennan’s season was unfortunately cut short in Round 4 due to concussion, with her best form evading her.

Monique Conti (19.8 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.8 tackles, 2.7 rebound 50s, 3.2 inside 50s)

Far and away Richmond’s best performer across the whole season, Conti was simply phenomenal as the Tigers’ prime ball winner. In just her third AFLW season, the former prize draft pick became an out-and-out star in returning her greatest disposal average across the six games, while also showing her tenacity on the defensive side. An ever-present for the Tigers, Conti can hold her head up – particularly for her form in the final three weeks when her side struggled most in Brennan’s absence.

Akec Makur Chuot (9.5 disposals, 1.3 marks, 2 tackles, 3.7 rebound 50s, 0.8 inside 50s)

One of the great finds for Richmond this season was 27-year-old Makur Chuot, who worked to provide a cool head among Richmond’s back six in her maiden AFLW season. The 178cm defender impressed on debut in Round 1 against Carlton with her positioning and ability to impact a number of contests, while her rebound 50 numbers across the entire season serve as a reminder of her willingness to turn defence into attack. Full credit for playing a difficult role well.

Phoebe Monahan (17.2 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.8 tackles, 6.8 rebound 50s, 1.8 inside 50s)

Perhaps one of the less-heralded recruits for Richmond among a raft of big names was Monahan, who played arguably the most important and difficult role in the struggling Tigers side. After two seasons with GWS, the 26-year-old upped her numbers massively in shouldering the brunt of her side’s defensive duties. Monahan mopped up as well as any defender this year and was aggressive on the rebound with much of the ball spent in her own half. A fantastic pick-up, who is now a pivotal leader in the side.

Courtney Wakefield (6.4 disposals, 3.8 marks, 2.6 tackles, 4 goals)

One of the great success stories out of this season is that of Wakefield, who flourished upon being involved in the Richmond set-up as early as in its VFLW campaign. The 180cm key forward combined well with marquee recruit Sabrina Frederick close to goal, providing a target but with limited opportunity. She finished as the Tiger’s leading goalkicker (four) in their inaugural season, with her personal best of three majors coming against Geelong in Round 4.

YOUNG GUN:

Kodi Jacques (8.2 disposals, 1.2 marks, 5.3 tackles, 1.2 rebound 50s, 1.2 inside 50s)

Another to be picked up out of Richmond’s VFLW list, Jacques took her opportunity at the elite level with both hands after being overlooked in her draft year. The tenacious midfielder may not have won bucketloads of the ball, but contributed around the contest with her fierce defensive work to keep the Tigers in the hunt. The 19-year-old led her side for tackles (32), and looked comfortable in her debut top flight season with a good base to now improve upon.

SURPRISE PACKET:

Grace Campbell (12.4 disposals, 5.6 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 2 inside 50s)

Yes, another who represented the Tigers at VFLW level. Campbell more than justified her berth in the AFLW squad and captured fans’ attention with a spirited Round 2 debut against Gold Coast. Thrust straight into the midfield, Campbell’s speed and courage at stoppages made her an instant hit and while she may still possess very raw skills, has plenty of time to improve upon a promising first year at just 24 years of age. Another who can work both ways, and works hard.

Others who have stood out: Christina Bernardi, Sabrina Frederick, Sophie Molan

An odd combination of players among the others to have stood out, with big-name recruits Bernardi and Frederick showing glimpses of their outstanding best, while prize draftee Molan had a solid debut campaign. Frederick could arguably have been in the top five performers group on the back of a three-goal season where she led the club for contested marks, but perhaps did not deliver on lofty standards set. Bernardi was a touch unlucky throughout the season in front of goal and had limited opportunities as a permanent forward, but definitely had more expected of her – especially after the first two rounds. Molan, as diligent a worker as any draftee, worked into her first taste of elite senior football well, applying good work at the contest to round out the group.

Get to know: SANFL U18s – West Adelaide

WEST ADELAIDE is set to boast one of the more exciting Under 18 one-two combinations in 2020, with State Academy members Riley Thilthorpe and Bailey Chamberlain looking to crack through the SANFL grades alongside fellow hub representative, Jye Sinderberry – should football return this year, of course.

Draft Central was lucky enough to gain access to South Australia’s pre-season testing day hosted by Rookie Me, speaking to Thilthorpe, Chamberlain, and Under-16 jet, Tyson Coe at the event. Get to know all about the trio; from their favourite teammates, to their on-field strengths and improvements, and 2020 goals.

A versatile and athletic tall with incredible running power, Thilthorpe’s raw talent has seen him thrown into the potential number one pick conversation. While he may have endured an injury interrupted bottom-age year, his form at the 2018 Under 16 carnival and ability to crack West Adelaide’s League side prove his worth. Getting on the park consistently was one of the bigman’s goals coming into his top-age season, building on promising showings thus far.

Chamberlain, a lightning fast midfielder who balances his inside and outside game well, was a player looking forward to benefitting from Thilthorpe’s ruck craft this season across multiple teams. While the 177cm prospect was not a part of South Australia’s carnival-winning Under 16 squad with Thilthorpe, he has developed well since and starred in the State’s Under 17 Futures game, as well as in last year’s Under 17 All Star showcase.

One to watch for the future will be Coe, who comes into his top-age Under 16 year having already featured for South Australia at the level last year. A powerful inside midfielder who loves the tough stuff, Coe had already turned out dominant performances for the Bloods in the Under 16 season before the unfortunate postponement. Should the Under 16 national championships go ahead this year, he will again be one to watch.


CHAMBERLAIN, THILTHORPE AND COE ON…

TESTING DAY/PRE-SEASON:

Chamberlain – “It’s (been) pretty chill so far, just trying to work through some PBs (personal bests) and getting around my teammates, getting through. “I’m definitely trying to improve on my 20m (sprint) and my agility just to make them elite. I reckon that’s a key aspect of my game so if I can get them elite, I’ll become a better player.”

Thilthorpe – Did not test.

Coe – “I did alright, I warmed up pretty well but unfortunately couldn’t do the yo-yo test because of a previous calf injury but besides that I got through the rest of the day pretty well. “The pre-season’s been good, I’ve been hitting the track pretty hard, trying to get a leadership role out there at the Under 16s but unfortunately had a few weeks out with a calf injury.”

2020 GOALS:

Chamberlain – “Just trying to push for a League game really. I’ve just been working as hard as I can to try and push into that selection so hopefully I can play some good footy in the Reserves and then get the call-up… definitely (playing State Under 18s) is my major goal this year, just to play the champs, play every game and play well.”

Thilthorpe – “I just want to continue with more of the same I guess. More League footy, that’d be the dream and a good state champs this year – hopefully take it out.”

Coe – “Just trying to keep up with the bigger boys, learning from them. They’ve been through it themselves so just looking up to them (and) trying to be a leader for my own age has definitely been one of my specific goals this year.”

STRENGTHS:

Chamberlain – “My ability to play both inside and outside. I reckon I’m a pretty versatile player in the midfield, I can play that winger role or play an inside role.”

Thilthorpe – “My marking and athleticism, they’ve sort of gotten me where I am now.”

Coe – “My personal strengths would be the shorter, more powerful stuff like the vertical and the 20m sprint. On the field, just the explosive stuff – more just the powerful tackles and stuff like that, I don’t mind that.”

IMPROVEMENTS:

Chamberlain – “I’m a pretty quick player so when I can get out the pack, just setting myself and hitting my kicks a bit more. I’m a bit inconsistent when I’m at full pace so I’ve just got to slow it down a little bit and take my time.”

Thilthorpe – “Over the pre-season my speed and agility have been big ones of mine so I’ve been working hard on that… my body wasn’t right last year obviously I missed a lot of games so getting my body right and just playing a consistent year is probably the main one.”

Coe – “Overall probably playing through the midfield, just the fitness. Although, unfortunately getting injured in the pre-season didn’t help out too much. But just working that fitness up to try and be an elite midfielder through the State program this year, we’ll see how it goes.”

BEST CLUB AND STATE TEAMMATES:

Chamberlain – “Definitely Riley (Thilthorpe). We’re best mates so it’s pretty good running out next to him. Taj Schofield obviously, I go to school with him so I’m pretty close with him – those are the two main ones.”

Thilthorpe – “A lot of the boys are so good. Like Luke Edwards, just his IQ is unbelievable playing with him is amazing. Bailey Chamberlain, his speed… he’s one of my good mates, he’ll have a good year I reckon.”

Coe – “Getting the experience as an under-ager in the State 16s (under) a few good leaders in Jason Horne, Matty Roberts, and Murls (Cooper Murley). Playing through the midfield with those guys, it was a pretty elite standard and we obviously didn’t get the end result we wanted on the Gold Coast but still the experience is what counted for me.”

Improvement and consistency the key for Gay

CLAYTON Gay has played at both ends and showed off his natural footballing ability as a bottom-ager in 2019. Now in his top-age year, the Dandenong Stingrays utility has his sights set on just improving and building consistent form throughout the season. While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has at the very least delayed the start of the season, Gay spoke to Draft Central at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me about his hopes for the season ahead.

“(I) just (want to) keep improving every game and being more consistent,” Gay said. “I had a couple of high games and a few low games (last season). “If I can get that margin close together, that’s my main goal this year. “I just think play consistently, that’s the main one that I’m focusing on at the moment.”

It is said you are your own worst critic, and that was certainly the case with Gay, prior to his yo-yo test at Maribyrnong College, declaring he was disappointed with his results thus far, but conceded that “it happens” and that it was just not his day.

“I haven’t really hit the scores that I wanted to, but that happens sometimes, and it’s just not your day,” Gay said. “The 20m sprint I was hoping to at least improve, which I was a bit far off. “I dunno, it wasn’t really my day. “Then I had two DQs (disqualifications) in the agility which hurt me a little bit. “So I only had one to go off.”

While it might have been below his own self standards, Gay enjoyed his bottom-age year with the Stingrays, and was looking forward to 2020, albeit with more responsibility as one of the older players in the side.

It is stressful a little bit, because you’ve got the younger boys looking up to you,” Gay said. “I’m just keen to get out there, get on the park and hopefully play some good footy again and see how we go.”

Being a member of the AFL National Academy Vic Country hub – along with teammate Will Bravo – Gay said the experience of training with “so much talent” was unbelievable.

Yeah for sure (it was great for development),” he said. “You don’t get that much talent at all (in one place), so having a week or two with them, just learning off the coaches there who have got a lot of knowledge, just getting to know them as well. “Come to these testing days you get to come say hello too.”

Getting to know the Vic Country players better, Gay said he was excited to play alongside a promising key forward at the National Under 18 Championships, and named a teammate he thought will shine in a more preferred position this season.

Looking forward to playing alongside Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan) in Vic Country, I think he’ll have a pretty strong year,” he said. “Then Stingrays, looking forward to seeing Bayleigh Welsh. “I think he played a bit out of position last year and I think he hopefully gets some more mid time this year and hopefully see him develop a lot throughout the year.”

When Draft Central chatted to Dandenong Stingrays Talent Manger Darren Flanigan, he said Gay would likely start behind the ball where he had been very impressive in 2019, though had the capacity to play in other positions as well. For Gay himself, he thought the back 50 was the best spot for him, but he was happy to play anywhere.

It depends,” Gay said. “At the start of preseason, fitness wasn’t that up to scratch, so probably forward. “But now I feel like I’ve improved my running and endurance, hopefully just being able to play on my player and stick with him all line in the backline, so backline I reckon.”

Now it is just a waiting game to see if Gay and the Dandenong Stingrays can indeed get out on the park and begin the 2020 NAB League Boys season.

Q&A: Jorja Guyatt (Aspley/Queensland)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last week, we head back to the preseason a few weeks earlier where we chatted to a number of athletes across the country. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Taylah Melki chatted with Queensland’s Jorja Guyatt at the state testing day hosted by Rookie Me.

TM: How did you get into footy?

JG: I got into footy in high school. these Auskick coaches came to my school and watched me train and they were like ‘yeah you should come down and play’ so I was like ‘why not?’. So I did and I just loved it, so I kept playing.

What is it you love about footy?

“Probably just meeting new people. “The amount of new people that you meet, we have the same interests so we get along so well.”

Is there a particular area that you think you’re really strong at when it comes to footy?

“I think the running aspect, I just like running.”

Did you do athletics when you were younger?

“Yeah I did triathlons actually. “So the endurance, got used to it easy.”

How have you found that transition from triathlons to footy now?

“It’s pretty good. “Because I didn’t realise how much running you do in AFL so I got there and … because on TV the oval looks so much smaller and you get there and you’re like oh my God it’s actually massive. “I found that pretty easy, so that was good.”

Is there a particular spot you like on the field more than others?

“I love the wing the most.”

Is there a particular area you’re hoping to improve on this year?

“Just my defense. “My tackling and stuff because I’m not the best at it.”

How’s the preseason going for you?

“Yeah preseason’s good. “I’ve got shin splints. “I just got back from shin splints so I haven’t been able to run for a while, but hopefully get back into it.”

How’s that recovery process been?

“It’s annoying watching people train and I can’t. “Because I can’t do anything, but being on the bike so getting back into it is pretty good.”

What are you hoping to get out of this year?

“Maybe getting to the draft, but not sure yet. “Dream big.”

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Murray Bushrangers

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at the Murray Bushrangers, who despite losing the first round match to Oakleigh Chargers by 50 points, bounced back to weather a huge number of inside 50s and draw with Western Jets.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Oakleigh Chargers by 50 points
R2: drew with Western Jets
R3: Bye.

They came away from the first two rounds with a couple of points, but the improvement from the first week to the second was noticeable, and the Bushrangers would have liked to keep the momentum going for the rest of the season. They put together an even team effort and we have highlighted a number of players who stood out throughout the matches.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Mikayla Jones (12.5 disposals, 2.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 4.5 inside 50s)

The top ball winner across the matches, Jones was impressive in the midfield, averaging the 12.5 disposals and 4.5 inside 50s to ensure her team could get service in the forward line. She worked hard across the ground to win the ball and feed it forward, and while many of her teammates were on the defensive end getting it to midfield, Jones was the leading player getting it inside 50.

Grace Hay (11.5 disposals, 4.0 marks, 1.5 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 4.5 rebounds)

Had a best on ground performance in Round 2 against Western Jets with a remarkable defensive effort deep in defence. In just her second game with the Bushrangers, Hay had 19 disposals, seven marks and eight rebounds in a huge effort to defend the continual forward thrusts by the Jets. She is still a bottom-ager with two years left in the pathway, but that did not stop her influence so far, recording 11.5 disposals, 4.0 marks and 4.5 rebounds from her two games.

Kate Adams (12.0 disposals, 1.5 marks, 3.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds, 1 goal)

The clever forward showed she can play just about anywhere on the ground, winning the ball through midfield and also playing in defence at times to assist her teammates. She managed to get on the scoreboard herself with a major, but it was her work up the ground, and particularly her defensive running that stood out across the games as her versatility was a real highlight in season 2020.

Ally Morphett (7.0 disposals, 1.5 marks, 13.5 hitouts, 1.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds)

In the absence of Olivia Barber in Round 2, Morphett became the leading tall on the ground as the other key position AFL Women’s National Academy member for the Bushrangers. Playing predominantly through the ruck, Morphett had the 15 hitouts on the day, and averaged 13.5 for the season thus far, using her strength and size to get it down to her midfielders. Still a middle-ager, Morphett has another season to perfect her ruck craft and spend more time forward as well.

Zali Spencer (11.0 disposals, 1.0 marks, 1.5 hitouts, 3.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds)

A really consistent player across the two games and deserving of a spot in the five. While there could have been a number of players to slot in here, her performance, particularly in the second game, was quite impressive and she finished with an average of 11 disposals, three tackles and two rebounds. Able to play through the midfield or drift around the ground, Spencer certainly contributed in the shorter season and was a great team player.

Others who have stood out: Keeley Skepper, Mindy Quade, Lily Sharp, Olivia Barber

As one of the most impressive bottom-agers in the crop, Skepper followed on from her strong performance at the Under 16 Championships match against Vic Metro last season with a strong start to the season. She still has two more years in the system and will be one to watch over that time, while defender, Quade was relentless in the back 50 picking up eight rebounds in Round 1, while Sharp was fierce at the contest and in close. Barber only played the one game but was worth mentioning because of her impact, booting a goal and making the most of her starved opportunities with seven touches and three marks.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Palmerston Magpies

THE final team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Palmerston, who only managed to claim one victory in 2019/20 as wooden spooners, but boast a handful of high-level individuals among a developing squad. In a season where they suffered 10 losses by over 50 points, the Magpies showed a good amount of promise by getting within a goal of finalists, Tiwi and Darwin with over 80 players tried throughout their top flight campaign. Relive the highs and lows of Palmerston’s year, as we also highlight the key performers for the Magpies this time out.

PALMERSTON 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 8th, 1-17, 50%

Most games: Aaron Lonergan, Sandy Brock (16)

Most goals: Keidan Holt-Tubbs (11)

Regaining a good level of consistency after suffering long-term injury setbacks, Holt-Tubbs continues to be one of Palmerston’s most valuable players. Plying his trade as a key forward for the most part, the Magpies’ bigman also showed marked confidence in his troublesome knee by returning to ruck duties in stints this season – which was especially important in easing the load on Jack Berry with Matthew Dennis missing large chunks of the year. He booted multiple goals thrice in a team which struggled for them, and looks primed for some more good years ahead if he can keep on the park.

MVP: Kyle Emery

Arguably Palmerston’s best and most important player over the last two seasons since switching from Nightcliff, Emery enjoyed a much more midfield-oriented role this year after finishing as the Magpies’ leading goalkicker in 2018/19. But Emery was still able to showcase his nous inside 50, finding the big sticks in six of his 12 games for the campaign, while also being named as one of his side’s best two players in five outings. He was particularly influential after the mid-season break despite his side’s losing form, and played his usual role in the Magpies’ sole win for the season with a goal.

Young gun: Sandy Brock

Brock came on leaps and bounds throughout his second season of NTFL Premier League football, locking down a key role for Palmerston down back. While he can be utilised at either end of the ground, Brock showed his best form in locking down some of the competition’s best key forwards at just 17 years of age, leaning on all of his natural athleticism and teachings from the NT Thunder Academy. The Thunder Under 18 representative is just as competitive in the air as he is on the ground, and did not looked deterred against more mature bodies despite being slightly raw when compared to a more traditional key defender size.

Surprise packet: Jack Berry

Already boasting one of the standout fly-in rucks in Matthew Dennis, few expected Palmerston to be able to unearth another as the bigman only managed four games this season, but the Magpies did exactly that through Jack Berry in 2019/20. Berry has VFL experience across two clubs, and proved all of his class as Palmerston’s premier tall when his side needed it most. He was named among the Magpies’ best players in nine of his 12 appearances, mixing well with his new teammates in his first crack at NTFL footy.

Best win: Round 14 – def. Wanderers 14.9 (93) to 13.7 (85)

Goals: K. Holt-Tubbs 3, L. Williams 3, C. Timms 2, W. Shadforth, K. Emery, A. Davey, J. Patrick, R. Stone, J. Berry.
Best: 
K. Holt-Tubbs, K. Emery, C. Timms, W. Shadforth, J. Berry, L. Williams

The first and only win of Palmerston’s season was a good one, spearheaded by some usual suspects. Keidan Holt-Tubbs notched three majors in a best afield performance, with Kyle Emery and Jack Berry not far behind. With one of the best sides they had put on paper throughout the season, Alwyn Davey’s Magpies were able to outlast their youthful opponents for a memorable win.

Worst loss: Round 7 – def. by Waratah 3.5 (23) to 17.10 (112)

Goals: J. Brauman, K. Emery, B. Church.
Best: 
J. Brauman, J. Berry, R. Mungatopi, S. Brock, M. Chester, A. Diamond

It may not have been the Magpies’ heaviest loss of the season, but an 89-point thrashing at the hands of a team that did not make finals does not bode well – and neither does the three-goal effort. There was still something to take out of the game though as Werribee VFL teammates Jack Berry and Jack Brauman made for an influential one-two punch, but the Magpies ultimately could not match Waratah’s speed in attack.

Classic Contests: Gippsland Power survives two-point thriller as three future stars debut

IF you are missing footy like we are, then let us somewhat salvage that with a look back in a new series of Classic Contests. In today’s contest, we travel back in time to a thrilling clash at Frankston where three future AFL talents made their debuts in Gippsland Power’s two-point win over Dandenong Stingrays – a clash that would have happened last weekend had the COVID-19 pandemic not suspended the NAB League Boys competition.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.1 | 8.4 | 10.6 | 14.8 (92)
GIPPSLAND POWER 2.7 | 5.9 | 11.10 | 14.10 (94)

Round 14 | Saturday, July 29, 2017
Skybus Stadium, Frankston, 2pm

A see-sawing contest between two country sides at Frankston saw an absolute thriller play out with with the fifth placed Stingrays hosting the eighth placed Power. Gippsland trailed the seventh placed Eastern Ranges by eight points and were just percentage ahead of the closing Calder Cannons inside the top eight. For Dandenong, a top four spot was on offer with just percentage separating third placed Sandringham Dragons, fourth placed Murray Bushrangers and the Stingrays.

An inaccurate Power side got the jump on the Stingrays with 2.7 to 2.1 in the opening term, before Dandenong powered to the lead with six goals to three in the second term to take a 13-point buffer into the main break. Returning serve with the wind the Power again took control, this time somewhat more accurately with 6.1 to 2.2 and hold a 10-point advantage at the last change. In what became a thrilling final term full of nail-biting moments, it was the visiting side that scraped home by just two points.

Whilst they might have lost, Gippsland fans might remember the game fondly as three debutants – wearing the numbers 41, 42 and 43 all debuted. Their names? Sam Flanders, Caleb Serong and Brock Smith. Fresh off the Under 16 Championships, Flanders and Serong booted three goals apiece and shared in 21 disposals, 10 tackles and six marks, while Smith had the eight touches and laid three tackles.

Dandenong’s best was top draft hopeful, Hunter Clark who tore the game to shreds with 34 disposals (50 per cent contested), eight tackles, seven clearances, 10 inside 50s, four rebounds and two goals. Tom De Koning had 42 hitouts to go with 13 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and a goal, while Bailey Williams also dominated through the ruck with 29 hitouts to go with nine touches and three inside 50s. Future captain, Campbell Hustwaite found the ball 19 times and kicked three snags, while Mason de Wit (21 touches, five marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds) and Jai Nanscawen (20 disposals, two goals) were also busy. Other Stingrays in the match who would go on to be drafted in the future included Tom Murphy (18 disposals, two mark, four clearances and a goal) and Will Hamill (11 disposals, three marks and five tackles).

Aside from the three draftees, Callum Porter continued his superb season with 24 disposals, nine clearances, five tackles and five inside 50s, while future Power talent, Xavier Duursma had 20 disposals, three marks, eight tackles, five inside 50s and two goals as a bottom-ager. Nick Hogan (24 disposals, three marks, six clearances, four tackles, four inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) had a team-high in disposals, while Sean Masterson had 11 disposals, three marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and four rebounds to be named in the best. Unfortunately for one of Gippsland’s draft hopefuls – Matthew McGannon – this game will be one he would not want to remember, going down with injury and missing the rest of the season bar a short return in the finals series.

Gippsland Power would end up making the finals by winning the last four games of the season and finishing seventh, but bowed out to eventual premiers, Geelong Falcons in the elimination finals, while Dandenong would progress to the preliminary finals following a remarkable come-from-behind victory over Eastern Ranges at Victoria Park, before suffering the same fate as the Power and losing to the Falcons.

2020 NAB League Girls team update: GWV Rebels

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at one of the sides to remain undefeated in 2020, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, who had a bye in Round 2 but beat otherwise undefeated sides, Sandringham Dragons and Western Jets in the other rounds.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: defeated Sandringham Dragons by 5 points
R2: Bye
R3: defeated Western Jets by 25 points

It was a promising start to the season for the Rebels who looked like one of the big improvers for season 2020. While it has been postponed without certainty of any further action, there were plenty of highlights for the Ballarat-based side with a number of impressive players already standing up and making their presence felt.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Maggie Caris (11.5 disposals, 0.5 marks, 29.0 hitouts, 1.0 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s)

The competition’s leading ruck prospect lived up to expectations in the opening two rounds, dominating against two of the smaller ruck groups in the NAB League Girls. She was impressive around the stoppages against the Dragons in Round 1, then was a huge influence in the victory against the Jets in Round 2. So far this season she averages 11.5 disposals, 29 hitouts and three inside 50s per game. Also a talented netballer, Caris is one who hoped to join sister, Geelong’s Rene in the AFL Women’s.

Lilli Condon (14.5 disposals, 1.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 6.0 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds, 1 goal)

The tenacious midfielder just seemed to be everywhere in the opening two rounds and would have been the Rebels’ best small accumulative across the contests. She averaged almost 15 touches a game, but racked up six inside 50s and four tackles per match, as well as getting on the scoreboard for her troubles with a major too. The middle-ager packs plenty of punch and has a year left having already played seven games as a bottom-ager last year. Despite standing at 154cm, she is not afraid to match it with taller opponents.

Renee Saulitis (12.0 disposals, 2.5 marks, 3.0 tackles, 2 goals)

The AFL Women’s National Academy member won the opening round’s match off her own boot with an inspired last term, getting to the right positions and slotting two majors, while still having influence around the ground. With an ability to play anywhere on the ground, Saulitis has lovely skills and is most damaging close to goal. If the wind-swept Mars Stadium had been a little kinder to forwards, she could have been right up there with the leading goalkickers despite playing one less game, finishing with four behinds.

Nyakoat Dojiok (11.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds)

The daring speedster does not need many possessions to have an impact, and she certainly did that in the opening two rounds. She often starts at half-back but can burst away and not only get the ball clear from the defensive 50, but also get it inside 50 as well. She is hard to stop when running at full stride, and picking up 11 disposals per game and an even balance of inside 50s and rebounds shows how she has a capacity to play on the wing and use her outside gifts to hurt the opposition.

Crystal Summers (9.0 disposals, 3.0 marks, 2.0 tackles, 3.0 rebounds)

Having an impressive opening round match where she was named best on ground for her efforts, Summers was tireless out of the back half and continually drove the ball from the danger zone. With more structure in the Round 3 game, Summers might have had less to do, but still had plenty of influence on the contest from defence, and she finished the two games averaging nine touches, three marks, two tackles and three rebounds. One of the Rebels’ top-agers who led by example.

Others who have stood out: Alice Astbury, Ella Friend, Paige Scott, Chloe Leonard

Astbury and Friend could well have been in the top group after their amazing second game teaming up and dominating in the forward half. Given the season only included the two games, only those who played both made it in, but make no mistake these two were ultra-impressive. They combined for 34 disposals, seven marks, 12 inside 50s and three goals in a good day out. The likes of Scott and Leonard were just ever-consistent through that midfield and half-back respectively, and there were far from alone with half a dozen more players who were fairly even across the start of the season for the Rebels.

Gadsby eyes off role change in 2020

EXCITED about what 2020 held in store for his team the Geelong Falcons, Noah Gadsby was ready for a big season a few weeks ago. Fast forward and the COVID-19 pandemic might have put a massive dent in the hopes of every AFL Draft hopeful – and the season itself – but rest assured that many of them would be doing everything in their power to improve their game during the break. Gadsby, one of a eight Falcons players selected in the AFL Academy Vic Country hub, said he was looking forward to playing a new role this season.

I’m playing a bit of a different role this year,” Gadsby said. “I’m playing up forward and I’ve never really played there much. “Pretty excited to see what I can do.”

While Gadsby admitted he had some areas of improvement to come with the role change, the 185cm prospect who played through the midfield last season in five games, was excited to give it a go. He did not kick a goal in his bottom-age year, and that is something he hoped to change in 2020.

“(I’m) just trying to do my goalkicking, just get that right because I’ve never really played forward,” Gadsby said. “Just working on my finishing game.”

Last year Gadsby was a member of the Falcons side that finished bottom of the ladder and had just the one player – Cooper Stephens – drafted. Despite the on-field and off-field results, Gadsby said 2020 would be a very different looking Falcons outfit, considering a lot of the players who gained vital time last year would be a season better for it.

Yeah it was a tough year, but I think this year we’re going to bounce back and I think we’ve got a lot of talent this year so I’m pretty excited to see what the boys can do,” he said. “Tanner Bruhn‘s not back yet, but I’m looking forward to playing with him. “Gennaro Bove our captain and Cam Fleeton, I love the way they go about it, and a couple of the other Country boys like Charlie Lazzaro and Henry Walsh. “Can’t wait to see what they do this year.”

Speaking at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day in March hosted by Rookie Me, Gadsby said he had enjoyed the day, saying it was “always a bit of fun”. Rookie Me tests the Falcons multiple times over the off-season which the talented top-ager said was a bonus when the team attended the league-wide testing day.

Yeah (it’s) about the third time this preseason (Rookie Me has tested us), good (that it’s) last time for the year,” Gadsby said, before he added “maybe at the combine, see how the year goes.”

Gadsby said he hoped to continue to improve his agility throughout the season as that was one athletic test he was “not too good at”, but his preferred tests were the yo-yo and 20m sprint. He also added being a member of the Vic Country hub helped him develop further and was keen to build on the strengths in his game.

I like to run with the ball, so the 20 helps translate, so that’s probably my favourite test,” Gadsby said. “It’s been really good (Country hub). “Last year was a really, really good year to learn. “Can’t wait to attack it this year, had a really good summer with Country so I’m excited.”

While the season start might be a while off with much uncertainty around it, Gadsby has been lucky enough to already be identified as one to watch having played in the Under-17 Trial game last year for Vic Country before being included in the hub. Whatever the future holds, expect his name to be one of many who will be doing all they can to impress AFL club recruiters throughout the postponement of the season.

2019/2020 NTFL Men’s Premier League team review: Wanderers

THE next team under review in our club-by-club Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Men’s Premier League recap is Wanderers, which boasts a squad packed with young talent, but could only muster up enough points for seventh place.

After a promising first six rounds saw the Muk Muks collect all of their 14 Premier League premiership points, the largely inexperienced team struggled to put together its best football for long enough to stay in games, and embarked on a 12-game losing run to end the year. Rubbing salt to the wound, Wanderers was also the only side this season to lose to wooden spooner, Palmerston.

But with a massive 65 players flowing through the top flight lineup and the shining light of Beau O’Connell claiming the Nichols Medal at just 18 years of age, there is plenty for Eagles fans to look forward to should its young core continue to thrive at the club. Relive the highs and lows of Wanderers’ 2019/20 season, and revel in some of the standout individual performers.


WANDERERS 2019/20 SEASON REVIEW

Record: 7th, 3-14-1, 71%

Most games: Brenton Motlop, Matthew Motlop (18)

Most goals: Joel Jeffrey (29)

Arguably the youngster garnering the most attention draft wise out of the entire NT talent pool is Joel Jeffrey, a high marking utility who staked his claim as a key forward this season for Wanderers. Possessing clean hands overhead and crafty skills at ground level, Jeffrey plays somewhat above his 189cm height in that forward role. While he would often be seen presenting an option further afield, the 18-year-old was the Muk Muks’ most productive asset closer to goal as well, booting 29 goals in 13 games. He was held goalless just once in those outings, and managed a season-high tally of five goals twice. With a ton of upside, hopefully Jeffrey can continue to progress.

MVP: Braedon McLean

Now considered one of the experienced heads in Wanderers’ engine room at just 25 years of age, Braedon McLean once again proved to be his side’s most important engine room cog across 17 Premier League games this season. McLean’s energy and driving work from midfield made him one of the more eye-catching players in the league this year, able to turn games in Wanderers’ favour with bursts of brilliance. His clearance work at just 178cm is terrific and clean, while his decision making brought poise to an inexperienced team most weeks. As he continues to become one of the competition’s premier midfielders, he will remain Wanderers’ most valuable player.

Best Nichols Medal poller: Beau O’Connell (20, winner)

Winning a senior league best and fairest at just 18 years old is no mean feat, and that is exactly what Beau O’Connell pulled off in a remarkable season of Premier League football. The diminutive midfielder stands out with his pace and class in possession, able to break the lines and wreak damage going forward with piercing kicks. O’Connell’s ability to find the big sticks also helped him to garner votes as he was clearly unharmed in that sense by Wanderers’ wealth of losses, consistently standing up as the Muk Muks’ best performer. He is a youngster who is confident in his ability and while he may seem quiet, is a real driver of standards in any group he joins. Having already represented the NT Thunder at Under 18 and senior level, the future is bright for O’Connell.

Young gun: Dray Thompson

There is an almost endless amount of correct answers for this slot among Wanderers’ squad – see Jeffrey, O’Connell, Tyrrell Lui, and co., but we’re going with Dray Thompson as the Muk Muks’ rising star. Another 18-year-old talent, Thompson is also a talented soccer player credit to his speed, and used just that in his role on the wing this year. Able to light up the field going both ways, the youngster earned a Round 16 Rising Star nomination this season, and was a key member of the Eagles’ team in 15 appearances with his defensive work impressive coaching staff at Wanderers. While others like Jeffrey and Lui may attract greater plaudits at times, Thompson has just as many runs on the board after a terrific season at senior level.

Best win: Round 4 – def. Tiwi Bombers 10.12 (72) to 8.10 (58)

Goals: S. Bates 2, M. Cooper 2, J. Jeffrey 2, M. Motlop, D. Thompson, J. Tipiloura, D. Weetra
Best: 
N/A

Wanderers was right among the top five early in the NTFL season, with this win over eventual finalist, Tiwi arguably the Eagles’ best out of their total three. Joel Jeffrey was among three Eagles to boot two goals, playing alongside brother Jai, while Braedon McLean shouldered the midfield load with Beau O’Connell absent. Running out the game strongly after trailing was also a good sign of character for the team, but is something it lacked in the back half of the year.

Worst loss: Round 13 – def. by Palmerston 13.7 (85) to 14.9 (93)

Goals: J. Jeffrey 4, B. O’Connell 3, S. Bates, W. Williams, E. Colley, A. Motlop, J. Jeffrey, T. Motlop
Best:
B. O’Connell, J. Jeffrey, A. Motlop, M. Motlop, D. Dos Santos

While this may not be the heaviest loss Wanderers suffered among its string of 12 to end the year, it stands as arguably the most disappointing given the opposition. The defeat saw the Eagles finish the season as the only team to have lost to Palmerston, although there were still some great positives to take out of the game, not the result. Joel Jeffrey again starred with four majors, while Beau O’Connell was best afield with his three majors. Making up the spine of the future, those two young guns had plenty to do on the day.