Category: News

Schilling follows brothers into footy, rises to challenges

PEEL Thunder’s Beth Schilling is naturally an eye-catching player with her athleticism and overhead marking ability among a number of strings she has in her bow. The talented tall has been a key member of Peel Thunder’s side this year, and showed during the AFL Women’s Under 19s National Championships that she can match it with the best in the country. Often utilised in defence, but could play forward, or even pinch hit in the ruck due to her vertical leap, Schilling is the ultimate utility,.

“I’d say my overhead mark is definitely one of my greatest strengths,” Schilling said. “As well as my overall physical capability which is really good, and another thing that I think is one of my strengths is the reading of the play. “I can tell what’s going to happen when the ball is coming down.”

While the Peel Thunder tall admittedly said she struggled with her fitness and wanted to build her endurance further, she was thankful for all teh support around her, particularly from her local club. When asked who had had the greatest impact on her career to-date and was an inspiration to her, she was thankful for Carey Park Panther’s women’s coach Geoff Nischke‘s ongoing support.

“I would have to say probably my local club, my coach Geoff Nischke,” Schilling said. “He’s still such a great inspiration to me because he has been so supportive and he’s told me and really let me know that I can progress as far as I want to go. “Even now he calls up once in a while and asks how I’m going and watches my games. “I guess that support’s been really inspirational to me as a player.”

Despite having made her way through the pathways, Schilling was not always a footballer, having originally started with the round ball. Once her brothers decided to change into Australian rules football, Schilling followed suit, and has never looked back over the past seven years.

“I pretty much started playing when I was about 11-years-old and I started playing because of my two brothers, one older, one younger,” Schilling said. “They were playing soccer previously the same as me, and so they changed and they convinced me to switch from soccer to footy and I just enjoyed it so much, I continued it until today.

“From there I went to play first my local junior team and then I transitioned into the women’s league, and from there I was asked to play for the WAFL and Peel Thunder and also at the same time as playing WAFL I was doing things with State as well and the development academy.”

Schilling immediately noticed the difference in quality once she stepped up to the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, and while 2020 was a disrupted year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schilling is pleased to be running around for the Thunder in 2021.

“It’s been really good (playing for Peel),” she said. “This year’s been my first proper season with them. “I played a few games with them last year, but because of COVID we couldn’t play as many. “But it’s been a big transition from local footy and the standard that they expect. “The speed’s a lot faster and the skills are a lot better, so I guess it’s been good for me and my development as a player.”

Now in her draft-eligible year, Schilling is eyeing off going one step better and reaching the elite level of the AFL Women’s competition. While she understands it is tough to gain and maintain a spot in the league, her main goal is to continue her rate of development in order to become the best possible player she can be.

“Obviously to be drafted would be amazing but I guess even if I don’t get drafted into the AFL, I would be happy if I can play the best footy I can achieve as a player and I’d be satisfied with that,” she said.

2021 VFLW Player Focus: Jaide Anthony (Port Melbourne)

IN our latest Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Player Focus, Draft Central’s Liam Badkin looks at Port Melbourne’s Jaide Anthony during her debut against Southern Saints last week. Anthony started in defence and finished up forward in what was a promising first outing for the talented teenager, who made Vic Country and has put together a strong draft year in between a couple of concussions which has soured an otherwise impressive year to-date.

She looked settled throughout the whole game, and while there were some mistakes made, they were with the best intentions, as she tried some kicks that had some potential to break the game open. Her side struggled for the day, but Anthony was absolutely one of her side’s best performers with her composure and competitiveness deep in defence. She did not look out of place at the level and that is incredibly rare to find in a debutant.

Q1:

Naturally, she began the match on the bench, giving her the opportunity to get a feel for the pace of the game she was about to enter. She went straight to the backline, where she quickly caught the eye with her ability to break off her opponent and get into dangerous space, even if she did not always get the ball. Her first touch came at half-back, where she laid a bone-crunching tackle on an opponent and was rewarded with a free kick. It was a perfect start for the AFLW Draft prospect, as she nailed the kick shortly after and became settled in defence.

Q2:

The second quarter saw Anthony grow with confidence as she attacked the contest with absolute ferocity, holding the ball up for a stoppage on multiple occasions. A highlight saw Anthony receive a handball from a teammate as she waited outside a pack and use her pace to draw an opponent in as she dished off an excellent handball to a teammate in space. She was not done there, as she continued running into space to collect the handball back, but she was held onto as she received the ball and was unable to take possession. It was an example of her excellent skill set, and her willingness to take the game on and create some run for her side. She ended the quarter with a turnover from an inboard kick that was cut off, but with her side stagnant, it was not a poor option.

Q3:

The third quarter saw Anthony continue to attempt kicks that flirted with danger. A second turnover resulted, but her coaches wouldn’t have been too displeased, as there were not many options available ahead. While she found less of the ball this term, she continued to hurt the opposition when given the chance. Her best moment came when she stood under a hospital ball deep in defence and held her ground to take a crucial mark. She executed the switch kick as she combined with her teammates to create some run out of the backline.

Q4:

She spent time forward of the ball in the final term as the coaches attempted to inject some speed into a slower forward line. Starved of opportunity, she almost set up a teammate for a goal with an exceptional spreading handball, but the gather was fumbled, and the goal went begging.

TOTAL STATS: 7 kicks, 3 handballs, 10 disposals, 3 tackles

SUMMARY:

Anthony looks like she belongs at this level of football or even higher, as she has rightfully been declared one of 2021’s top draft prospects. This performance has only expressed this even further, as she fought off the pressure of the moment to deliver a solid debut despite her side falling by 27 points. A big match-up against Collingwood awaits this weekend and expect Anthony to be right among the contest wherever they play her, as this performance demonstrated her ability play at both ends of the ground. A bright future awaits.

2021 Draft Central NAB League Girls Team of the Year

GRAND finalists Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh Chargers, and losing preliminary finalists Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels have led the way with the 2021 Draft Central NAB League Girls Team of the Year. The trio have combined for 11 players in our 24-player side, with other losing preliminary finalist Eastern Ranges, as well as finalists Tasmania Devils and Calder Cannons, and Western Jets each having two players apiece. Dandenong Stingrays and Northern Knights were unlucky to only have the one player this year, with the other non-finals sides in Murray Bushrangers, Sandringham Dragons and Gippsland Power having the one, and Bendigo Pioneers not having a first team representative.

Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis has been named captain of our NAB League Girls Team of the Year after a record eight nominations this year. The potential top pick will share leadership duties with Geelong Falcons’ Poppy Schaap, who after six nominations, was handed the vice-captaincy. Prespakis is joined in the side by ruck/forward and fellow AFL Women’s Academy member, Tahlia Gillard. The Falcons have the equal most representatives in the team, with consistent midfielder Tess Craven, key forward Renee Tierney and defender Annie Lee all making the starting side in the most represented side in the starting 18.

Rounding out the starting onball group is another AFL Women’s Academy member in Perri King, with the Tasmania Devils talent standing up this season through the midfield. She will team up with bottom-age talent Claire Ransom in our Team of the Year, whilst another onballer who has also played on the wing at the start of the year and previous years, Charlotte Baskaran is one of two Western Jets representatives. Montana Ham is the other Western representative in the first team, making the half-forward flank. On the other wing to Baskaran is Murray Bushrangers’ best and fairest winner and Vic Country representative Aurora Smith who was the best pure wing this season.

Looking deeper forward, Oakleigh Chargers’ dynamo Charlie Rowbottom has been named at full-forward where she often starts games before rotating through the midfield. She is one of three Chargers in the team, alongside Stella Reid (half-back) and Amanda Ling (interchange) who have both been consistent performers this season. Also deep forward is the Dandenong Stingrays’ sole representative in what was a real even team spread this year for the Stingrays, as Amber Clarke makes the side having impressed both midfield and up forward. In the other forward pocket is the youngest member of the team, 2023-draft eligible talent Alyssia Pisano, who had four Team of the Week nominations and also won the leading goalkicker award in her debut season, named in the side along with teammate and bottom-age defender, Mia Busch.

The remainder of the defence features a couple of GWV Rebels in Chloe Leonard and Nyakoat Dojiok, with a couple more in Lilli Condon and Paige Scott also squeezing onto the bench in a huge result for the club this season. Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin slots into half-back where she is capable of playing, as the sole representative for the Knights. The last two players rounding out the bench are sole representatives in Sandringham Dragons’ Sofia Hurley and Gippsland Power’s Grace Matser, with the latter being the rotating ruck with Gillard in the side.

The 24 players who missed out on the Draft Central NAB League Girls Team of the Year were automatically filled into the Draft Central Second Team of the Year, with special mention to Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell, Oakleigh Chargers’ Brooke Vickers and Calder Cannons’ Emelia Yassir who were named as the emergencies for the starting team.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE YEAR:

B: Chloe Leonard (GWV) – Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV) – Mia Busch (ER)
HB: Maeve Chaplin (NK) – Annie Lee (GF) – Stella Reid (OC)
C: Aurora Smith (MB) – Perri King (TD) – Charlotte Baskaran (WJ)
HF: Poppy Schaap (GF) (vc) – Renee Tierney (GF) – Montana Ham (WJ)
F: Alyssia Pisano (ER) – Charlie Rowbottom (OC) – Amber Clarke (DS)
R: Tahlia Gillard (CC) – Georgie Prespakis (CC) (c) – Tess Craven (GF)
INT: Lilli Condon (GWV) – Sofia Hurley (SD) – Amanda Ling (OC) – Grace Matser (GP) – Claire Ransom (TD) – Paige Scott (GWV)

EMG: Elizabeth Snell (BP) – Brooke Vickers (OC) – Emelia Yassir (CC)

The remaining 24 players filled out the impressive Second Team of the Year, with five emergencies who were the next ones just outside the squad – and received two Team of the Week nominations – all named as emergencies. These were Northern Knights duo Tannah Hurst and Ella Smallacombe, Dandenong Stingrays’ tall Mackenzie Eardley, and ruck duo, GWV Rebels’ Kalani Scoullar and Western Jets’ Krystal Russell. Captaining the side is Snell with Yassir being the vice-captain as two of the emergencies of the first team.

Eastern Ranges have four players in the side with Georgia Campbell, Keeley Sherar, Bridget Deed and Cadhla Schmidli all making the Second Team, the equal most of any side. Dandenong Stingrays also have four players in the side, as defenders Zoe Hill, Jemma Radford and Jaide Anthony – who all have VFL Women’s experience – squeeze into the back six. The leadership combination of Snell and Yassir have a teammate each in the side, with bottom-ager Octavia Di Donato, and midfielder Zali Friswell both in the starting teams.

The Gippsland Power have two players in Matilda Van Berkel and Lily-Rose Williamson, as do the GWV Rebels, with Ella Friend and Molly Walton making it in. Murray Bushrangers’ duo Ally Morphett and Keeley Skepper, and Northern Knights duo Tarrah Delgado and 2023-draft eligible Ava Jordan all represent the Second Team, with Vickers being the sole Oakleigh representative, and the team having no Falcons due to all four nominees making the First Team.

Tasmania Devils are represented by the two players in Jemma Webster and Amy Bissett, while Jemima Woods rounded out the 24-player squad by being named in the opposite forward pocket to Bissett. Sandringham Dragons did not have a representative in the side.

DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE GIRLS SECOND TEAM OF THE YEAR:

B: Jemma Radford (DS) – Tarrah Delgado (NK) – Zoe Hill (DS)
HB: Molly Walton (GWV) – Matilda Van Berkel (GP) – Jaide Anthony (DS)
C: Jemma Webster (TD) – Zali Friswell (CC) – Brooke Vickers (OC)
HF: Elizabeth Snell (BP) (c) – Ella Friend (GWV) – Octavia Di Donato (BP)
F: Jemima Woods (WJ) – Georgia Campbell (ER) – Amy Bissett (TD)
R: Ally Morphett (MB) – Keeley Sherar (ER) – Emelia Yassir (CC) (vc)
INT: Felicity Crank (DS) – Bridget Deed (ER) – Ava Jordan (NK) – Cadhla Schmidli (ER) – Keeley Skepper (MB) – Lily-Rose Williamson (GP)

EMG: Mackenzie Eardley (DS) – Tannah Hurst (NK) – Krystal Russell (WJ) – Ella Smallacombe (NK) – Kalani Scoullar (GWV)

2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final preview: Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons

AFTER 10 home-and-away rounds and two enthralling weeks of postseason action, the NAB League Girls Grand Final is upon us. Minor premier and competition benchmark, Oakleigh Chargers, will take on Geelong Falcons on Sunday afternoon in Werribee, as the top Metro and Country regions battle for premiership glory. With both regions completing their final training sessions last night, the teams are in and raring to go. We preview the big day, looking at form, highlighting the key matchups, and getting word from both sides.

NAB LEAGUE GIRLS GRAND FINAL

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons
Sunday May 16, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval, Werribee

Home-and-away records:

Oakleigh – 1st, 7-1, 228.4%
Geelong – 6th, 5-3, 128.6%

Last 5:

Oakleigh – 4-1
Geelong – 4-1

Previous meeting:
Round 8, 2021: Geelong 5.4 (34) def. Oakleigh 3.5 (23)

The Falcons threw a spanner in the works on the eve of the season break, handing Oakleigh its first loss for the year to the tune of 11 points. Despite leading at the first break, the Chargers fell behind as Geelong took hold in a three goals to nil second term, forming the foundations of a momentous win.

Geelong’s one-two punch of Poppy Schaap and Tess Craven proved pivotal through midfield, as spearhead forward Renee Tierney got busy in attack and the dynamic defensive duo of Annie Lee and Elizabeth Dowling was a constant obstacle for Oakleigh.

Chargers skipper Charlie Rowbottom spent more time up forward but finished as her side’s equal-top ball winner alongside Amanda Ling, as Charlotte Taylor enjoyed some time on-ball. Usual suspects Brooke Vickers and Stella Reid were also productive, but could not drag their side over the line.

The result did little to derail the Oakleigh express, as they charged on to a minor premiership and now, grand final qualification. For the Falcons, it proved a key point in their timely peak towards the end of the season, with both sides coming in off 4-1 runs and a bed of confidence.

Key take-outs:

Oakleigh:

“It was obviously a pretty good game out in Geelong and it gave our girls a good insight into the Geelong team. “We obviously couldn’t get the job done that day but it’ll give us some confidence going into the game on Sunday that we have played them before and we know a little bit about them. “A lot of the other teams we’ve played, for example Eastern (last week) we hadn’t played against before, so it was like going in unseen.” – Regional talent operations lead, Jy Bond.

Geelong:

“It does (fill us with confidence) knowing that we can take it to the best teams in the competition. “The style that we want to play, if we can bring that we know it matches up against most teams and keeps us in games. “That’s what we’ve talked about, making sure that we don’t stray away from that too much and just have trust in how we want to play and what we want to do.” – Talent pathways head coach, Paul Corrigan.

Teams:

Geelong Falcons:

FF: #4 P. Schaap, #39 R. Tierney, #18 K. Stacey
HF: #14 Z. Garth, #15 G. Featherston, #29 M. Van Dyke
C: #13 M. Courtney, #11 T. Craven, #26 I. Houtsma
HB: #23 E. Dowling, #46 A. McKee, #37 A. Lee
FB: #20 A. McKeegan, #32 M. Featherston, #33 T. Morrow
FOL: #38 K. Hardingham, #44 C. Simpson, #9 A. Van Loon

BENCH: #25 C. Adams, #2 C. Hardy, #6 T. Hassett, #45 T. Lewis, #22 A. Sanderson
EMG: #1 C. Bottomley, #5 S. Howley, #8 E. Perrett

Oakleigh Chargers:

FB: #23 C. Matthews, #5 M. Clift, #4 A. McCulloch
HB: #6 Z. O’Sullivan, #7 C. Taylor, #16 E. Woodford
C: #37 C. van der Vlies, #29 A. Ling, #9 Brooke Vickers
HF: #22 J. Jackson, #15 A. Smith, #10 S. Reid
FF: #31 S. Morley, #8 Charlie Rowbottom, #13 T. Morton
FOL: #3 K. Kearns, #33 J. Fleming, #34 L. Hart

BENCH: #1 L. Boyd Singer, #38 E. Harvey, #14 E. James, #19 J. McCormack, #28 A. Russell
EMG: #36 K. James, #24 H. Kenealy

The stars:
Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh)

The skipper and potentially the best player in the entire draft pool, Rowbottom was a lock for this slot. The explosive midfielder-forward is one of the many Chargers who can rotate through multiple roles; setting the tone in midfield and providing a contested marking threat inside attacking 50. She has started at full forward in recent weeks before rolling further afield, but proves impactful just about anywhere she goes. Come finals time, the players who can produce special moments or put a side on their back are the ones who stand out, Rowbottom is one of them.

Tess Craven (Geelong)

Arguably the best player in this year’s finals series to date, Craven has proven her worth as a genuine AFLW draft prospect. The tough and reliable midfielder perfectly embodies Geelong’s style; able to win her own ball and provide good pressure on the inside, before working hard on the outer to maintain possession and continue her side’s forward momentum. Craven’s decision making and short kicking game also comes into effect in general play, as she brings a strong accumulative factor around the ground. Having been best afield in her last two outings, Craven is one to stand up on the big stage.

The X-factor:
Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh) & Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong)

There is always a feel good story come finals time, and that is the case to some extent for either team this time around. Jasmine Fleming has been a terrific addition for Oakleigh, fitting seamlessly into an elite midfield and boasting the added string of forward craft. The bottom-ager, who is also a fine cricketer, debuted in Round 9 and returned last week for another sensational showing, making her impossible to look past for the grand final squad. For Geelong, Ingrid Houtsma makes an incredibly timely return after being forced out via a head knock, named on a wing for Sunday’s game. She is a versatile type who can play on each line, impacting with each possession.

The systems:

Oakleigh:

“We play our girls through a variety of positions to enable them to be seen by the AFLW recruiters… it’s not by designing those rotations on winning games, it’s more about exposing them to new positions and finding out where they fit and what’s going to put them in the best position to get drafted. “We’re at the stage now where we’ll use those girls in the most damaging positions to perform best on the big stage. “If you’re in the big dance it’s one more time to show your ability to AFLW recruiters.” – Jy Bond

Geelong:

“We’re strong with what we want to bring with our pressure around the ball and in the contest as well. “We feel that if we can match it in there and then get the ball to the outside, our strengths as a group are that we can move the ball quickly, get it inside 50 and we know we’ve got lots of options that can hit the scoreboard as well.

“I think the last two games in finals, it was a really tough tussle against Greater Western Victoria last week, a really strong contested-type game with high pressure inside. “The Dandenong game too, we were able to get the ball to the outside, gain field position forward of centre and get some inside 50s and were able to score as well. – Paul Corrigan

Final words:

Oakleigh:

“I’m really proud of the way the girls have handled this year. “It’s been a pretty busy year for our coaches, staff and the girls, and we couldn’t be happier with how they’ve progressed through the year and just kept getting better week by week. “That’s all we can hope for, that they can go out there, have fun and hopefully for them they get the job done. “If they don’t we’ll celebrate the season regardless.” – Jy Bond

Geelong:

“We’re looking forward as a club on Sunday to putting our best foot forward and I’m pretty proud with the way our girls have gone about it and all our staff as well. “Win, lose, or draw we’ll be looking to do our best, but we understand too that Oakleigh is a very strong side and we have to bring our best on Sunday to match it against them.” – Paul Corrigan

Compare the Pair: Finn Callaghan / Josh Sinn (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

THE Sandringham Dragons have produced a great number of high-end prospects over the years, whether it be those who are touted from a long way out, or players who bolt into contention with undeniable form in their draft seasons. 2021 is no different, with line-breaking movers Josh Sinn and Finn Callaghan fitting perfectly into said categories. The pair showed high-level ability across the first three NAB League rounds, and share plenty of similar traits which have put them in good stead to this point.

Sinn is a co-captain of the Dragons side and has been pegged as a top five draft candidate since captaining Vic Metro’s title-winning Under 16 side in 2019. His speed off half-back and the wing is undeniable, often complemented by penetrative kicks which send his side forward in quick time. The 18-year-old graduated from Xavier College last year and was expected to turn out for Sandringham Zebras in the VFL over the current break, but is recovering from a hamstring strain sustained while training with the AFL Academy. He will be available for Sandringham Dragons once the NAB League resumes.

Callaghan is a prospect who has risen steeply in 2021, catching the eye during preseason and building nicely into his NAB League campaign. He is another line-breaker with good size who shows a tricky turn of speed with ball-in-hand, making him a difficult player to stop at full flight. He is currently completing his studies at St Bede’s College, but will also be available essentially full-time for the Dragons. As a late call up for the AFL Academy, he fittingly proved a capable replacement for Sinn with his work on the outer.

We compare the pair by taking a look at their form to this point, physical profiles, which positions suit them best, what style of play they provide, and their potential areas of improvement.

Josh Sinn
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: January 7, 2003
Height/Weight: 186cm/82kg
Position: Half-Back/Midfielder

2021 averages*:

20.0 disposals | 14.3 kicks | 5.7 handballs | 4 marks | 2.3 tackles | 5.0 inside 50s | 3.7 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

* – from three NAB League games.

Finn Callaghan
Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro

DOB: April 26, 2003
Height/Weight: 189cm/82kg
Position: Half-Back/Wing

2021 averages*:

18.6 disposals | 9.3 kicks | 9.3 handballs | 4.3 marks | 1.6 tackles | 3.3 inside 50s | 1.3 rebound 50s | 0.3 goals (1)

* – from three NAB League games.

2021 FORM

Josh Sinn
2021 NAB League

Round 1 vs. Oakleigh Chargers | 20 disposals (12 kicks, 8 handballs), 4 marks, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Round 2 vs. Northern Knights | 20 disposals (15 kicks, 5 handballs), 3 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s

Round 3 vs. Dandenong Stingrays | 20 disposals (16 kicks, 4 handballs), 5 marks, 5 tackles, 10 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Finn Callaghan
2021 NAB League

Round 1 vs. Oakleigh Chargers | 19 disposals (8 kicks, 11 handballs), 3 marks, 3 tackles, 2 inside 50s

Round 2 vs. Northern Knights | 13 disposals (7 kicks, 6 handballs), 3 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

Round 3 vs. Dandenong Stingrays | 24 disposals (13 kicks, 11 handballs), 7 marks, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal

Both players have met at a similar point in terms of form after three NAB League rounds, having come into the season with vastly different expectations. Sinn, pegged as a potential top five candidate and one of his side’s co-captains, warmed to the blockbuster Round 1 clash with Oakleigh well, becoming prominent at crucial stages to help lift his side over the line. The Dragons coaching staff pulled the trigger on his midfield move early, sending him into the guts late in that game to good effect.

Sinn carried that form into his second outing, against Northern, again rotating between the middle and half-back in soggy conditions at Preston City Oval. His game against Dandenong in Round 3 shed light on how Sinn would fare as a permanent midfielder, but his line-breaking ability again came to the fore. The 18-year-old notched his third game of 20 disposals, providing good drive and improving in his disposal as the game wore on. While his best is arguably yet to come, Sinn and Sandringham can be pleased with the form shown across the first three rounds.

Callaghan came into the 2021 season with a touch less fanfare, but had displayed plenty of promise during the Dragons’ preseason intraclub scraps. He proved that rise in attention was warranted in his Round 1 debut, showcasing good speed on the outer and his potential to generate some serious forward momentum. After a steady start in a highly pressurised contest, Callaghan was kept a little quieter amid the tough conditions in Round 2 against Northern, but put forward his best game to date in Round 3.

Stationed on his usual wing, the rising prospect was able to penetrate both arcs and looked to have gained a good deal of confidence from those first two appearances. Encouraged to be more damaging in his disposal, Callaghan was better able to match his impact with ball-in-hand to his use by foot. While his previous form and desirable athletic profile went a long way to justifying his AFL Academy selection, this game was equally important in solidifying that honour. In the Academy showcase against Geelong VFL, Callaghan warmed to the contest in time operating on the wing and then off half-back.

PHYSICAL / ATHLETIC PROFILES

This exercise is clearly one more of comparing, rather than contrasting, as both players are quite similar in a range of qualities they offer. Looking at their physical make-ups, they meet similar ranges in that 185-190cm height bracket and with some good size. Callaghan’s latest listing of 82kg is indicative of his size on the eye, while it has been reported that Sinn put on 13kg over last year’s break, bringing his latest measurement up to 82kg as well.

They size-up virtually identically, and both boast the same kind of athletic superpowers. As line-breaking types, both possess electric speed but tend to use their athleticism in different ways. Sinn, who has a handy sprinting pedigree, is lightning quick in straight lines and can snatch serious meterage in a flash when released into space. With his size, Callaghan is also difficult to stop with a full head of steam and while he backs his speed to burn opponents akin to Sinn, is often seen side-stepping his way out of trouble with great agility and poise.

Both players have that explosive quality which allows for really productive outside run and eye-catching flashes of brilliance. Any passage which sees these two get ball-in-hand often results in a breach of either arc, or good territorial gain at the least. Having built their bodies since entering as tall and rangy types most suited to the outside, they both have the size now to win their own ball confidently and are able to operate on the inside as well.

POSITION / STYLES OF PLAY

At their cores, Sinn and Callaghan have both come to prominence through roles off half-back and the wing. Sinn’s starting position has often been in defence and that was the case before his midfield move this season, while Callaghan has spent most of his time on the wing for Sandringham with the potential to roll back – as he did in the AFL Academy showcase.

Sinn’s developing point of difference is his midfield craft, which has proven to already be at a decent level with good room to grow given his burst and physical make-up. He also rests forward while playing midfield and has a nice balance of inside and outside traits. Callaghan has also been exposed to midfield minutes through his time with St Bede’s College in the ACC school football competition.

Both players have also been served well defensively by the time they spend across-half back. Sinn has been shown to have his head on a swivel when setting up in the back half, showing good leadership to bark instructions to others and get touch at the stoppages. During his time on the wing, Callaghan tracks back well and is often seen mopping up in the defensive 50 arc. Both are also capable of impacting aerially, with Sinn positioning aggressively to intercept while Callaghan has the size and athleticism to compete.

In terms of their styles, they provide a bunch of the same traits; they run-and-carry with speed and can shift angles, with the ability to win their own ball, while possessing terrific left-foot kicks. The consensus is that Sinn can be more damaging with his disposal, while Callaghan is perhaps more impactful with his run. This is evident in their kick-to-handball ratios, with Sinn more willing to back his disposal by foot and take on seemingly low-percentage options which can break the play open.

While Callaghan sits at a perfect 1:1 ratio with his kicks and handballs, averaging 9.3 apiece per game, Sinn is up around 2.5 kicks to every handball per his three NAB League outings this year. Sinn’s kicking consistency has arguably been below his usually high standards in 2021, but that wavering efficiency is indicative of his license to take on riskier kicks. Callaghan is often a good decision maker by foot but bites off a touch less, while his use by hand is also quite efficient.

DISPOSAL / DECISION MAKING

As mentioned above, Sinn tends to back his kicking ability and looks to further break open the play on the end of his runs, which can lead to varying efficiency at times. His Round 3 game against Dandenong serves a perfect example of this. In the first half, Sinn would stream away from congestion or be released beautifully, but lacked the finished product. Undeterred, he continued to show confidence in his ability and managed to execute some fantastic passes to his forwards. He ended with 10 inside 50s, with some of them scuppered, but others perfectly hitting targets and resulting in scoring opportunities.

He is said to be the best and most technically sound kick at Sandringham, and has watched plenty of tape on another penetrating left-footer in Hayden Young. At his best, Sinn can certainly reach those levels and his decision making is solid, but it is just a matter of levelling out his consistency. To ensure he is having the maximum effect, Sinn is being encouraged to lower his eyes a touch more when booting forward on the fly. Speaking of decision making, Sinn’s ability to time runs and make repeat efforts in that sense suits the half-back role really well, showing high-level smarts and game awareness.

Callaghan is one who also uses the ball well by foot and can gain similar penetration to Sinn, showing great improvement in that area. He is being encouraged to be a touch more damaging in this sense though, to bite off a bit more and take the risks that others might. On the flip-side, his poise in tight spots is great as he is more inclined to dish off by hand rather than bombing forward under pressure. In tight spots, he uses his turn of speed to get into space before executing a disposal. While he sometimes distributes to teammates under immediate pressure, the ability to show spacial awareness and find different avenues out of traffic are handy traits to have.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 11 preview: Teams stack up for final month of action

THERE are plenty of NAB League Girls debutants and AFL Women’s players who will run out for the respective teams this round of VFL Women’s (VFLW), in what could make or break some teams’ finals campaigns.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

Opening up the round is a genuine finals-defining clash in the sense that if the Southern Saints can get up at home, they should be home and hosed for the last finals spot. It will not be easy against a red-hot Geelong outfit that has loaded up on talent and looks to be the strongest lineup thus far which will be hard to beat. Focusing on youth and the return of NAB League Girls, Abbey Jordan comes in for her VFLW debut with the Saints, joining Sandringham’s Natasha Morris, whilst Tyanna Smith also makes her VFLW debut after an outstanding debut season at AFLW level. The VFLW talent at the Saints is quite strong, with Tara Bohanna and Hannah Stuart among the consistent performers this year supporting natural ball-winners Molly McDonald and Alice Burke who have shown their class above. The Cats midfield boasts Laura Gardiner, Darcy Moloney and Rebecca Webster with the possibility of Sophie Van De Heuvel rolling through and Olivia Barber rucking is the future of the AFLW side. The depth of the Cats looks to be just too strong, with Tamara Smith, Paige Sheppard and Richelle Cranston forming a dangerous half-forward line with elite level pressure. Expect the Cats to get the job done much to the relief of the chasing pack of VFLW sides just outside the finals places.

CASEY DEMONS vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:30am
Casey Fields

There are a couple of NAB League Girls players representing Casey Demons and Carlton in their battle at Casey Fields from 10:30am. Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser comes back for her second game after a solid debut last weekend, whilst Northern Knights inside ball-winner Maeve Chaplin will get her first run around with the Blues. After carrying the drinks last match, Lucy McEvoy gets her chance at VFLW level, while Maddy Guerin, Natalie Plane and Charlotte Hammans will be looking to continue their great form stepping down to state league level. The Demons are just loaded across the field though, not mucking around with the likes of Eden Zanker, Casey Sherriff, Libby Birch and Jacqueline Parry in there, whilst Eliza McNamara makes her VFLW debut after a strong first season at AFLW level. The Demons have had one of the more stacked lineups the past few weeks, and with competition leading goalkicker Imogen Milford up forward, it is hard to see them not chalk up another win with the form they are in, even missing competition top ball-winner Eliza West.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:45am
ETU Stadium

Barring a collapse in the final three rounds, a win here would lock up top spot for the Magpies, coming up against a Port Melbourne side that has now dropped two of its past three games. Only Geelong could catch the Magpies in the final few weeks and even then would need the Magpies to drop all the games – or lose severe percentage – to be a chance to grab top spot. Port Melbourne is always a chance to get up though, having a couple of Dandenong Stingrays in Jaide Anthony and Ash Richards running round whilst having plenty of Richmond AFLW players in the side. Whilst Emily Harley will not be in the side this week, the Borough have Cleo Saxon-Jones and Gabrielle Seymour at opposite ends, with Kodi Jacques returning for her first VFLW game, and Sophie Locke still in contention for the the leading goalkicker. The midfield combination of Katherine Smith, Sophie Molan and Mel Kuys will be difficult to beat, but the inclusion of Magpies AFLW star Jaimee Lambert will have the opposition on notice. Teaming up with Mikala Cann, Maddie Shevlin, Abbi Moloney and Sophie Casey as regular AFLW talents, the Magpies have some good spread across the ground, while Imogen Barnett, Matilda Zander and Marla Neal are all in good form, and Jasmine Ferguson has been a rock at the back. It should be a great game, with the Magpies ticking over the wins, but the Borough having plenty of experience in this match.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
Downer Oval

A bottom two clash at Downer Oval will give Williamstown the opportunity to confirm the Seagulls will avoid the wooden spoon, and effectively lock Darebin into that position with the result. The Seagulls have created that good link with the GWS GIANTS over the past couple of weeks, and bolster the side through some up and coming AFLW talents in Tarni Evans, Georgia Garnett and Emily Pease, whilst Tasmanian Priscilla Odwogo runs out in the blue and gold once again. Perhaps the biggest name from an AFLW Draft perspective in this game is Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle, who has been named on the interchange for the Seagulls to make her debut at the level. There is also a debut on the Falcons side, with Northern Knights key forward Trinity Mills named on the bench. With Jess Dal Pos as the prime mover onball, and the defensive combination of Victoria Blackwood and Gena Lawson-Tavan in the back 50, the Falcons have some composure moving the ball down the ground. The ruck battle between Sidney Cubasch (Darebin) and Elizabeth McGrath (Williamstown) is another one to watch, with Stephanie Simpson and Alyssa Mifsud both capable of kicking multiple goals on their day.

ESSENDON vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

The latest match on the Saturday is an early 11am fixture at Windy Hill, where the Bombers who are looking to push further up the table and just solidify that finals spot, take on a desperate Western Bulldogs outfit that has to win to stay in finals contention. If you want the best chance at seeing multiple AFLW Draft prospects this weekend, then this is the game to watch. Essendon have brought back Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell, with talented top-age draft-eligible players Neve Crowley and Emelia Yassir also making their debuts. Crowley has been named in the back six with Lennox, though could play at either end, whilst Yassir will come off the bench and likely impact midfield or forward. Friswell is in a forward pocket. For the Western Bulldogs, a trio of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will make their debuts, with Ella Friend, Nyakoat Dojiok and Tahlia Meier all named in the Dogs’ squad. With AFLW talent in Sarah Hartwig, Jess Fitzgerald, Britney Gutknecht and Isabella Grant among plenty of others, the Bulldogs are also not mucking around with their lineup and arguably should be favourites in this game on paper alone. The key is to try and quell the strong Bombers’ midfield which includes Georgia Nanscawen, Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper who are always finding the ball, and then Mia-Rae Clifford up forward, and Courtney Ugle creating across the ground.

HAWTHORN vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, May 16 @ 3:30pm
Box Hill City Oval

In a standalone fixture on Sunday, Hawthorn will look to keep alive its slim chance of making finals with a win over North Melbourne. The Hawks have a superior percentage and have some good young talent coming into the side, with Keeley Sherar, Bridget Deed, Eloise Chaston and Matilda Hardy forming a strong Eastern Ranges contingent, and Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae returns for another week after a big Round 10 effort last week. The Kangaroos are also handing out some impressive debuts to young players they might consider for their AFLW list, with a Tasmanian trio of Ella Maurer, Jemma Blair and Amy Bissett – who are all capped at national level with the Allies at the AFLW U19 Championships – set to run out in the blue and white stripes. With Jayde Hamilton another teenager who played alongside them for the Allies also remaining in the side, and then the form of Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely among others, the Roos are going to make a good fist of it. The Hawks just have too much depth across the field, and with Phoebe McWilliams and Kristy Stratton up forward, Meg Hutchins down back and Georgia Bevan and Alison Drennan roving to Tamara Luke through midfield, the brown and gold deserve to be favourites here and take home the win.

State league preview: Undefeated streaks at stake

With the weekend just around the corner, teams will begin their final preparation for a round of hard-fought football action across the states. Due to the interstate clash between South Australia and Western Australia on Saturday, the SANFL and WAFL will not hold any matches this weekend in their senior men’s division.

Victoria:

The VFL has plenty of enticing clashes to go ahead this weekend, starting with the Casey Demons hosting Geelong at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon. Both sides sit at 3-0 on the ladder to start the season and the winner of this match would place themselves right up there as a contender of the competition. Geelong will be riding the high from Round 4’s 45-point triumph over the Northern Bullants, where forward Josh Jenkins booted 7.5 from 23 disposals in an incredible performance. The Demons will be eager to lock him down and nullify the scoring of the Cats, which can be tricky to stop at times. The Demons will be refreshed after last week’s bye, and the fresh legs could prove the difference in this clash. Sam Weideman has been picked up for an AFL recall, having kicked four snags in his last outing, while Majak Daw will notch his 100th VFL match.

Richmond’s VFL side will host GWS at Swinburne Centre on Saturday afternoon, as both teams look to get their seasons back on track after a 1-2 start to the year. Both sides had the bye last week, with plenty to ponder after a poor start. The Tigers’ only win came in Round 1 over a struggling Sandringham side, and their two losses to follow have come by over 55 points. With plenty of injuries to Richmond’s AFL side, there is as much opportunity as ever for players in this team to earn a recall, and with Sydney Stack and Thomson Dow working their way into match fitness over recent weeks, expect a fair crack from both. GWS finally found their mojo and grabbed their first win in Round 3 as they caused an upset to hand Southport their first loss of the season, and will be looking to carry this momentum forward despite the week off. Jake Ricardi had an exceptional performance in that match with 41 disposals and 19 marks and will be one for opposition coaches to keep an eye on.

Saturday’s final game will take place up north, as Collingwood travel to the SCG to take on Sydney in a clash that means a bit for both sides. Sydney have started the season 1-2 and another loss here will make it much trickier to make finals at the end of the season, so they will be eager to stop this from happening. Their Round 1 win over the Giants was a promising start, and their next two losses came to the tune of only 14 points and four points, so they aren’t too far off the pace. Logan McDonald had his strongest performance of the year in Round 3 and will be looking to build on this as he gains confidence on a weekly basis. Collingwood’s start has been slightly brighter with a 3-1 record after four games seeing them sit in seventh place on the ladder. All three of their wins have come by under 10 points, so they will need to be at their best if they are to grab their fourth win. Midfield bull Brayden Sier has been performing well lately and should once again prove an important factor on Saturday.

Queensland:

Round 7 of the QAFL kicks off with Broadbeach looking to keep their undefeated streak alive as they host Mt Gravatt at Subaru Oval on Saturday afternoon. Broadbeach easily handled Wilston Grange last week, and remain the only undefeated team after seven rounds as they look to live up to their reputation as a powerhouse of the competition. Full-forward Jordan Moncrieff booted a whopping nine goals in the win, and will likely draw the attention of the opposition defence for all four quarters. Mt Gravatt have started the year in disappointing fashion, as they currently hold a 1-3 record to find themselves sitting in eighth place. They will enter the match as underdogs, but the beauty of sport is the upset. Fullback Gavin Grose will have the tough task of manning Moncrieff, but has been his side’s best three weeks in a row, so this should provide for an exciting contest within the contest.

Noosa’s next opportunity to find their first win of the season will come in the form of this weekend’s clash with Morningside at Rococo Oval on Saturday afternoon. Noosa have struggled in their first five games of the season, and are yet to register their first victory of the year, with their most recent loss coming at the hands of Surfers Paradise by 70 points. Something will have to change if they are to sing the song after Saturday’s final siren. Despite his team’s poor form, Aaron Wilson has booted eight goals in the last three games and will be one to keep an eye on for some scoring output. Morningside escaped with their third win of the season by the narrowest of margins last week, taking down Redland-Victoria Point by just one point, but will be confident heading into this matchup. Will Pendlebury has worked his way into some form over the last two weeks and should be strong again this week.

Moving to Salk Oval, Palm Beach Currumbin will play host to Labrador on Saturday afternoon in a match that will have ramifications for both sides. Palm Beach Currumbin currently hold a 2-2 record and are yet to win two games in a row, a fact they will be looking to change this weekend with an upset over their opponents after last week’s bye. John Anthony walked away with a seven-goal haul in the side’s last match and will likely be tough to stop once again. Labrador have had a nice start to the 2021 season, losing just one of their first five games, and another win would push them right up the ladder. Charlie Lang was best afield in their last match in his strongest performance of the year, so keep an eye on how he backs this up.

Maroochydore’s chase of top spot continues this week, as they take on Redland-Victoria Point on Saturday afternoon at Totally Workwear Park. Maroochydore currently sit in second place, with just the one loss for the season, but Broadbeach’s undefeated streak keeps them at bay for now. A win here would certainly keep them in the hunt to swoop when Broadbeach drop their first match and will enter this clash as favorites. Jacob Simpson has had a blistering start to the season, and his consistency will once again likely be on display in this clash. Redland-Victoria Point will be eager to erase the memory of last round’s heartbreaking loss with a win this weekend. A 3-2 start to the year is promising, and an upset here would stamp their credentials as contenders. Harrison Kerr has kicked 10 goals in the last three goals, so it should prove interesting as to whether he can continue this form.

The final clash of the round comes in the form of Wilston Grange taking on Sherwood Districts at Hickey Park on Saturday afternoon. Both sides sit with a 1-4 record on the season and are separated by just one ladder position following disappointing losses last week. Wilston Grange were convincingly beaten by a red-hot Broadbeach side in Round 6, but face an opponent that is out of form, and could break their losing streak with a crucial win. Hugh Fidler was Wilston Grange’s best in the loss and will be eager to drag his side to their second win. Sherwood Districts will be just as keen to grab their second win of the year, after last week’s belting at the hands of Maroochydore, so the motivation will be high.

Tasmania:

The seventh round of TSL action begins on Saturday afternoon, as North Launceston travel to KGV Oval to clash with Glenorchy in a matchup that means a lot for both teams. North Launceston have found their groove as the season has progressed, culminating in last week’s five goal win over the Tigers. It will be hard to catch ladder-leading Launceston, but a loss here would make it even harder. Last week’s inclusion of Bradley Cox-Goodyer proved remarkable as he claimed best on ground honours and should display his skillset once again. Glenorchy also walked away with a big win last week, dominating North Hobart by 77 points in a win that should kickstart some momentum for them, and a win this weekend would seriously get their season rolling. They had a plethora of goal kickers last week, and if they can produce something similar, it will go a long way to securing the win.

Blundstone Arena will once again see some potentially thrilling football action, as Clarence host North Hobart on Saturday afternoon. Clarence will enter this match heavy favourites, especially on their home deck, but are coming off a disappointing loss against Launceston by 72 points, which would have likely shaken their confidence, and if North Hobart can take advantage of this, who knows what could happen? Oliver Preshaw is an important player for Clarence and was kept uncharacteristically quiet last week, so expect a response this week.

Launceston simply look a class above this season and won’t be short of confidence heading into Saturday afternoon’s clash with Lauderdale at Windsor Park. Launceston looked to face their toughest opponent last week in Clarence, and a 70-point win pretty much told the rest of the competition ‘good luck’. They look near impossible to stop, and Lauderdale face the task of attempting this. Launceston star Jake Hinds returned from suspension to claim best on ground honours and still leads the league best and fairest leaderboard despite missing two matches, so keep an eye out for him on Saturday.

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 11 preview: Final chance for Bloods, Roosters and Bulldogs to grab finals spot

THREE teams will fight it out for the last finals spot in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition as West Adelaide holds fourth position at this stage, but both North Adelaide and Central District could take it with either side winning and the other results going their way in Round 11.

NORWOOD vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
ACH Group Stadium

Norwood and Woodville-West Torrens are at opposite ends of the table and will open the round without a great deal of ladder permutations. North Adelaide are expected to take care of Sturt, which allows the Eagles a chance at avoiding the wooden spoon for the second consecutive year. They will need to step up from last week’s heavy loss to Glenelg, whilst the Redlegs have proven to be the benchmark team this season. They do not have anything other than form and momentum to play for heading into the last round, having already secured top spot and the minor premiership. Youngsters Lana Schwerdt and Sarah Branford have replaced Sachi Syme and Ella Murison in Norwood’s 22, whilst the Eagles have been forced to make at least three chances with Adelaide AFLW talent Renee Forth, and Lakeesha Pickett both unavailable, and Panagiota Pipinis missing due to a shin injury, Alicia McNeill could be in line for a debut in the final round, named in the side amongst five inclusions, which features Georgia Taylor and Audrey Holt. The Eagles will need to try and quell Norwood’s dominant midfield, with the likes of Sophie Armitstead, Jade Halfpenny, Jess Macolino and Elisha Gallagher among the names that roll through there. With Leah Cutting likely to have a field day given her form and size advantage over Amie Blanden, the Eagles will hope to use Blanden like another midfielder at ground level, with Jaida Tabb and Shineah Goody named onball showing the future of the side, whilst Jamie Parish and Charlotte Dolan have also been in impressive form for the visitors.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, May 15 @ 12:30pm
Flinders University Stadium

In the match of the weekend, third placed South Adelaide hosts West Adelaide in a battle where the result will either mean they likely face off again in the first week of finals, or the Panthers have a grand final rematch with North Adelaide. South Adelaide has secured its 2021 SANFL Women’s finals spot thanks to a win last week, with the Panthers’ percentage too great for the Roosters to chase down. South Adelaide would slip to fourth if the Bloods get up in this contest, but a win would see them hosting an elimination final. If they win, and North Adelaide lose then it opens the door for Central District to upset Glenelg and book its first finals spot, but the Dogs loom as outsiders at this point. In terms of the team chances, AFL Women’s talent Hannah Munyard misses out this week, with St Kilda’s Tahlia Meyer returning to the side along with State Academy member Sarah Wright, and Caitlin Ross. West Adelaide has some crucial inclusions as well, with State Academy member Keeley Kustermann returning from injury sustained at the championships, coming into the side with the likes of Louella McCarthy and Georgie Gray for an extended team. Charlie Scutchings was injured early last week and is out of the side, with Georgie Pater also the other confirmed out. South has earned the right to be favourite in this game, with the form of AFL Women’s returnees Teah Charlton and Jordann Hickey, along with Montana McKinnon and Lisa Whiteley. Add in the continued development of teenagers Gypsy Schirmer, Tahlita Buethke and Jorja Hooper, and consistency of Nicole Campbell, and the Panthers have the complete squad. West has plenty of talent itself, with the AFL Women’s contingent of Ailish Considine, Sarah Dargan and Chelsea Biddell leading the way. Lauren Young continues to have an outstanding debut season for the Bloods, with Zoe Venning and Kustermann other youngsters who can have a huge impact on the match, and Sharni Whiting being the brick wall in defence.

STURT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, May 15 @ 12:45pm
Unley Oval

Whilst Sturt cannot secure a finals spot this year, the Double Blues can certainly play party pooper to a North Adelaide team which needs a win to retake fourth position on the table. The Double Blues have proved they are more than capable of kicking a big score this season, though will be tested against the most experienced defence in the league. The Roosters missed an opportunity to lock up fourth place last week, and now will be at the mercy of South Adelaide if they are to book a finals spot. They need the Panthers to beat West Adelaide, and then knock off Sturt on the road in order to leap up to fourth on the table. A loss automatically knocks them out of the running, and an upset win to Central District would see the reigning premiers slip to sixth on the table as well. Sturt have recalled three players for the clash, with dangerous forward Nicole Baker named as an in alongside Millie McCarthy and Lucy Griffith, while Abby Pengelly is the sole out at this stage. Unfortunately for the Roosters, they have had to make a couple of forced changes due to injury. Julia Clark suffered concussion in the second term of the Roosters’ loss last weekend and will miss this game, as will Jaime Norup who injured her shoulder in the same match. Coming into the side are a couple of bookends in Kelly Barltrop and Talia Radan who are important talls, whilst another State Academy member in Kate Case comes into the side after missing last week. North Adelaide should get up in this game given the Roosters have a defence that not only features Radan, but Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey are intercept machines, and the talent and run of Poppy Waterford, with the tough Jaimi Tabb and Amelie Borg. Lauren Gauci has also been a crucial inclusion to the side, whilst Ashleigh Woodland remains a difficult player to quell up forward. For the Double Blues, the midfield could try and match it with the Roosters, with Alisha Gepp, Jaimee Wittervan and Isobel Kuiper roving to Jess Good who are all in good form. Zoe Prowse has managed to get up for this game, and will rejoin fellow State Academy members Alex Ballard and Georgia Swan inside 50, while Kiera Mueller was superb off half-back last week.

GLENELG vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, May 15 @ 12:45pm
ACH Group Stadium

The final game of the round pits second placed Glenelg up against a Central District side needing a lot of luck to secure a finals berth. The Bulldogs could grab fourth, but not only need to win, but need South Adelaide to beat West Adelaide – certainly possible – but also Sturt to upset North Adelaide – a lot less likely – in order to be playing next week. Madison Lane was stretchered off last week and will miss this game, with the likes of Chantel Reynolds, Paige Allan, Nicola Biagi and Taryn Wills named in an extended Central team. Shae Partington and Airlie Schirmer are out of the Bays’ side, and into it come Molly Affolter, Lucy Armitage and Sarah Goodwin among five chances to the side. The Bulldogs can beat anyone on their day, and with Isabelle Starmer having a good season in the ruck, and the likes of captain Shelby Smith, Caitlen Teague and Chloe Scheer impressing through the midfield, they have the core for an upset. Laitiah Huynh and Lauren Breguet are exciting young forwards, whilst Katelyn Rosenzweig with Reynolds form a great duo inside 50. The Bays have proven to hold the strongest clearance side in the business, with Ebony Marinoff returning last week with a best on ground performance, and she teamed up well with the likes of Tessa Kohn, Ellie Kellock and Jessica Bates. Brooke Tonon was superb off half-back, with Caitlin Gould and Sam Franson dangerous forwards. Overall the Glenelg side has quite strong depth, though the direct and exciting play of the Bulldogs always gives them a shot at the win.

Picture credit: SANFL / Cory Sutton

Griffiths grasps “fantastic opportunity” with State Academy

WEST Adelaide’s Scarlett Griffiths has loved being a member of South Australia’s State Academy program, describing it as a “fantastic opportunity” to test herself alongside and against the best players in the country. The teenager plies her trade in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition for the Bloods, having come from a different background and transitioning into the pathway from a young age.

“I started playing football when I was quite young,” Griffiths said. “I was a ballerina and I just saw a sign that my local footy club needed girls so I joined in, fell in love with it, and yeah since I was young I’ve always been invited to these programs, and one thing’s led to another and now I’m here.”

Predominantly a forward having kicked a goal in each of her last two SANFL Women’s games, Griffiths tasted a new role further up the ground at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19s Championships, able to run out for the Croweaters against both Vic Country and the Allies.

“My favourite place is playing in the forward line, I’ve loved learning about that role and playing it,” Griffiths said. “And up here I’m playing on the wing, so it’s a big change, and I’m learning more about the role as the week goes on.”

Despite losing both the clashes in Victoria, the teenager said she had loved the opportunity she had been given, and was always looking to improve aspects of her game such as reading the play and knowing when to run and properly execute her speed and athleticism.

“It’s been such a fantastic opportunity to play with the Academy squad and back at home everything’s been really, really great and it’s just been getting better,” Griffiths said.

Having come from West Adelaide, it is little surprise to see Griffiths’ role models and inspirations being a pair of pocket rockets from the Bloods who have overcome various adversities from knee injuries to being overlooked to play at the elite AFL Women’s level.

“I really look up to Hannah Button and Rachelle Martin, they’re sisters from the Crows,” Griffiths said. “They’re my biggest inspirations. “They’ve been mentoring me for the past three years, so I’m so grateful to have them and they’re so awesome.

“It’s so good to see them on the TV, especially Rachelle, they’re just incredible, they totally deserve to be there.”

Like may players in their top-age draft year, Griffiths said her life was fairly busy between the three key aspects of life.

“I’m in the middle of Year 12 so that’s been really busy,” she said. “Work, school footy, that’s my life.”

With West Adelaide on the verge of backing up their maiden finals series last year by grabbing fourth spot heading to the final round this week. The Bloods will need to topple third placed South Adelaide in order to secure a finals berth, but if they do, then Griffiths will be hoping to have an impact on the scoreboard in the post-season series.

2021 Ones to Watch: VFLW-listed talents impressing

TEAMS have entered the final month of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season and NAB League Girls and AFL Women’s players are now regularly filtering through teams. With the AFL Women’s Draft always a talking point, it is worth remembering some of the VFL Women’s listed players who have held their spots and had really promising seasons. Whilst the below does not include everyone, there are a few names from each team named to keep an eye on.

COLLINGWOOD:

The Magpies have no shortage of VFL Women’s listed talent to keep an eye on. Imogen Barnett has been a powerful force up forward, slotting 11 goals in nine games and not only averaging the three marks, but the 2.7 tackles per match as well. In defence, Jasmine Ferguson is having a terrific season playing on some quality forwards, having really developed each season since her initial days with Gippsland Power. Marla Neal through the midfield has had a purple patch and is as hard as they come, whilst midfielder/forward Matilda Zander has kicked the seven goals and provide the speed and defensive pressure that could see former Norwood mentor Steve Symonds opt for the talented small.

GEELONG:

The Cats’ AFL Women’s talent has certainly been a driving force through the midfield this year, but a couple of hard-at-it midfielders in Paige Sheppard (20.2 disposals, 6.0 tackles) and Tamara Smith (17.5 disposals, 10.8 tackles) are doing their chances no harm with great in-and-under work and spreading to the outside. Claudia Gunjaca is another one who has really caught the eye this season, whilst defender Breanna Pratt has been amongst the best VFL-listed talents for the Cats.

PORT MELBOURNE:

Ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke has developed into an exciting forward who has an eye for goals and would be one that needs to be in consideration to step up, whilst injury replacement player Hannah McLaren continues to be a standout ball-winner at VFL Women’s level. Add in ex-Richmond forwards Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones who are searching for new contracts, and the Borough have some talents with experience that could step up and earn new contracts with other clubs.

CASEY DEMONS:

Eliza West has enjoyed an incredible season with the Demons and is a readymade talent if given the chance to step up. Grace Buchan has not missed a beat since crossing from the Magpies and has been reliable ball user in the back half, whilst Imogen Milford has been the dominant goalkicker this year. Emma Humphries has the AFL Women’s experience in the past to slot straight into a contender if required.

ESSENDON:

Georgia Nanscawen should be the top pick when it comes to selecting mature-age talent out of the VFL Women’s, as a genuine best 21 player at AFL Women’s level when fit. She is averaging 23 touches and almost 10 tackles, including a game where she was injured early. Fellow midfielder, Alana Barba remains on the radar for her attack on the contest and around the ground, whilst Courtney Ugle and Eloise Gardner are among a host of Bombers players that have traits which could be utilised at the next level.

SOUTHERN SAINTS:

A tall versatile option, Tara Bohanna has been a reliable source of goals for the Saints, able to roll through the ruck as well as provide strength in the air and on the ground for 16.2 disposals, 4.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 7.4 hitouts and more than a goal a game. A mature-age midfielder Hannah Stuart is one for the immediate-impact group, averaging almost 18 touches and six tackles as a tough inside ball-winner, whilst Gabbi De Angelis has always had some special traits since coming through the Eastern Ranges, and Valerie Moreau is one of a number of Saints enjoying good seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

The AFL Women’s contingent has definitely bolstered the Western Bulldogs’ squad, but in terms of mainstays only two players have played every game. Brooke Hards has been utilised in a multitude of positions and settled at half-back of late whilst rotating through the midfield, possessing great pace and game-breaking ability across the ground. Simone Ruedin is as reliable as they come, and if a club was locking for a rock-solid defender, there have been few better this season. Ruck/forward Molly Denahy Maloney has some eye-catching traits that might catch the eye, whilst Katelyn Betts has shown versatility and hardness around the ball.

HAWTHORN:

The Hawks have a plethora of recently delisted AFL Women’s players that could slot all over this list, with Tamara Luke, Alison Drennan, Kristy Stratton and Georgia Bevan among the long list of talents with prior AFLW-experience. From a VFLW-listed perspective, Jessie Williams‘ development up forward with seven goals in 10 games, as well as young gun and speedster Dominique Carbone and consistent talented midfield Olivia Flanagan among those with some exciting traits to keep an eye off.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

North Melbourne has promoted quite a lot of its VFL Women’s talent this year, with Meagan Kiely and ex-Darebin talent Molly Eastman among the names that the club, or other clubs might consider for the pure ball-winning consistency. Perhaps the most damaging one could be forward-cum-midfielder Sarah Skinner who not only can wreak havoc inside 50, but go inside and find a truckload of the ball as well. Alexia Hamilton is an ex-Sun who has been reliable in the ruck and as a forward target who might earn a call-up.

CARLTON:

Akayla Peterson has been a standout this year, able to play in a multitude of roles, booting five goals playing up forward and in defence, and being able to slot in anywhere. Jorja Borg has been a dominant ruck through that role, while defender Ally Bild is only about to turn 22-years-old and has made strides since crossing from the Magpies. She only played the four games this season, but Jennifer Lew‘s impact in defence was noticeable for the Navy Blues, averaging 18.5 disposals and 5.3 marks in that time.

WILLIAMSTOWN:

The Seagulls might not have had a lot of AFL Women’s experience prior to the GWS GIANTS joining forces, but have had some reliable ball-winners. Megan Williamson is a player who could step up as a readymade inside midfielder, while it is hard to look past the influence that Erin Meade or Aimee Whelan can have on a game, whilst Elizabeth McGrath had almost 60 hitouts recently against one of the premier rucks in the competition.

DAREBIN FALCONS:

Gena Lawson-Tavan has been a rock in defence for the Falcons this season playing every game alongside Samara David who has been one of the premier markers of the competition, also booting five goals in 10 games. Sidney Cubasch has been a reliable ruck option each week she has played, while Victoria Blackwood is still young and developing – only turned 21 in December last year – and really stepped up this season.