Category: News

Scouting Notes: 2021 SANFL Under 18s – Round 3

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Under 18s has continued into Round 3, with the latest weekend of action producing some excellent performances from plenty of 2021 AFL Draft prospects. In the next SANFL Scouting Notes edition for 2021, we again narrow in on SA’s Under 18s competition, with a particular focus on the state’s Under 19 talent hub members. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE

By: Liam Badkin

NORWOOD:

#25 Matt Dnistriansky 

It was another great performance from the Norwood defender in the win. His work deep in the backline was crucial in thwarting countless Rooster attacks. He got many of his disposals deep in defence and was constantly composed and his decision making was key. Often playing off his opponent to attack, the athletic defender took 12 marks, with quite a few intercepts.

Once again tasked with frequently taking kick ins, he seemed not to miss a target as he calmly found teammates when he was under pressure. His form has continued to grow as he has worked his way into the season with each game. Ending the game with 29 disposals (22 kicks and seven handballs) and five rebound 50’s, he was crucially important in his team’s 11-point win.

Others:

Ruckman Damon Pitt played his best game of the season, displaying his ability to essentially act as an extra midfielder. He proved more than capable of winning his own hitouts, finishing with a season high 18, but it was his follow up work that caught the eye. He ended the game with 22 disposals and a game high 10 clearances, often outplaying both on ball brigades. Jack Ianniello excited forward of centre as he kicked 2.2 from 21 disposals. Had he converted the two missed shots, it would’ve capped off an excellent day.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

#12 Hugh Jackson

Continued his fine start to the year, popping up everywhere to find the ball all over the ground. As a midfielder, Jackson basically did it all. He found tough possessions on the deck, maintained his composure to hit targets by foot and was a clear standout on his team. While he may have amassed more disposals in the first two rounds (37 and 33 respectively), in a game where their midfield was often beaten, he can more than hold his head high.

Moving across the ground smoothly, he was a crucial cog in strong play. Finishing with an impressive seven rebound 50’s, his work in the defensive half caught the eye as he worked tirelessly to remove the ball from the backline. His skills on both feet also resulted in four inside 50’s as he connected with leading forwards. His kicks drew his teammates into space as he picked holes in the well organised defence.

The teenager from Crystal Brooke has had a blistering start to the year and this match was no exception. Arguably his side’s best for the day, Jackson finished with 31 disposals, nine marks, four tackles and three clearances.

Others:

Blayne O’Loughlin topped the disposal list for the second game in a row, backing up his 44 touch effort with 32 this week. He also added seven rebound 50’s and was the catalyst for plenty of excellent ball movement forward from the backline.

Tough midfielder Zyton Santillo ended the match with 26 disposals, nine tackles and nine marks in a typically strong performance as he stuffed the stat sheet. Fellow midfielder Harvey Harrison also impressed with 27 disposals and seven clearances. He also missed two shots on goal (one in the second quarter and one in the third quarter) that would’ve added to his day.

 

GLENELG vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT

By: Liam Badkin

GLENELG:

#32 Oscar Adams

The team win had plenty of contributors, but none were as influential as the big ruckman. His hit out work is something to be admired as he continuously gave his midfielders first use, allowing them to win the clearances 38-28. Even more impressive was his ball after the ruck contest, finding the ball 24 times.

He bounced back from each contest to either lay a tackle or find the ball himself. His combination with his on ballers was a joy to watch as he stamped his influence on the game with his dominant play. A missed shot on goal in the third quarter would have disappointed, but essentially did everything else to get his team rolling out of the middle.

The ruckman role has developed past just hit-outs, now expected to find their own footy around the ground. Adams fits this bill perfectly, and can also shift to defence, a role he filled in his U16 Glenelg side.

Others:

Dashing defender Lewis Rayson continued his consistent start to the season, finishing with 24 disposals and five tackles. Once again creative with the ball, Rayson’s skills by foot hurt the opposition as he picked holes through defenders with his bullet-like passes.

Ball-winner Harry Tunkin led his team in disposals with 27 for the day. Spending time in the midfield and up forward, his inside work saw him end with a handball happy game, setting up teammates on the outside. Kicked a nice goal late in the second quarter to add to an already impressive game.

Hugh Stagg led the side in clearances finishing with eight to go with 19 disposals and a goal. The big bodied midfielder has plenty of upside and this game should give him confidence going forward.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

#16 Shay Linke

In a disappointing day for his side, the midfielder never stopped trying, working tirelessly around the ball. The SANFL Academy player has been a standout in his side’s underwhelming start to the year and yesterday continued this trend. In a day where his team was convincingly beaten, Linke fought in the midfield to try and keep his side in the game, finishing with 26 disposals. His ability to find space around the field was great, as his hard running saw him end with eight marks.

Linke also did the defensive work, laying seven solid tackles around stoppages. He was certainly a standout in a side with very little positives for the day.

Others:

Darcy Mcdonald had 14 touches and nine tackles as the Central midfield fought to slow down a dominant midfield performance from the Tigers. Key forward Cody Gilchrist‘s wayward kicking prevented him from a big haul, kicking 1.3 for the day. His marking still impressed, pulling down three contested marks for the day. Had he converted his shots on goal, it may have been a different story for Central.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS

By: Tom Wyman

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

#21 Matthew Roberts

Roberts has already proven to be a step above the SANFL Under-18 competition, and he was at it again at Noarlunga Oval in Round 3. Despite the Eagles coming away with a 16-point win following a dominant second-half, Roberts was clearly the most dominant midfielder on the park. Starting at the opening centre bounce and alternating up forward with fellow draft hopeful Arlo Draper, Roberts had the ball on a string. Roberts’ work rate from start to finish enabled him to dictate terms for large portions of the contest. He was strong in the coal-face but his running patterns ensured he also won plenty of uncontested possessions. Roberts used the ball neatly with his clean left foot and was also effective with his hands in-tight. His team-lifting goal in the third term was clearly the highlight of the match. Positioned in the forward pocket, he gathered the loose ball, turned sharply onto his trusty left foot, sized up the target and snapped a sensational goal. The classy goal and consistent run and carry efforts were memorable, but Roberts also made an impact defensively, laying eight tackles and dropping back to take a couple of intercept marks. He finished with 37 touches, nine marks, five clearances, eight inside-50s and six rebounds.

#33 Arlo Draper

Although Draper did not find as much of the ball as teammate Roberts, the tall midfielder/forward made a genuine impact whenever he was near it. The Panthers deployed him as the deepest forward at times and he looked threatening when the ball was kicked in his direction. He used his strength and football smarts well one-on-one, nudging his opponent under the ball and taking an uncontested mark to boot South’s first goal of the contest. His clearance-work and ability to read the taps was terrific when moved onto the ball, and his cleanness and sharpness at ground level instigated a number of positive plays for the home side. A clear example of his distribution by hand came when he fired off a quick handball to set-up a Hugo Hoeck goal. Draper collected 22 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four clearances and five inside-50s.

#39 Will Verrall

Bottom-aged ruckman Verrall went head-to-head with Woodville-West Torrens ruckman Zac Phillips in a hard-fought battle between two of the most talented big-men in the competition. Verrall won the first hit-out of the match, tapping it straight to star on-baller Roberts who won the clearance. He was heavily involved around the ground early on and it was encouraging to see him continue to back himself to spot up teammates with precise inside-50 kicks. Verrall’s contested marking was also a real feature of his game. Although Phillips gained the upper hand in-terms of pure hit-out numbers (winning 27 to Verrall’s eight), the Panther tall showed some very promising signs, both in the ruck contest and around the ground. He finished with 12 disposals, four marks, three clearances and a goal.

Others: Consistent wingman Isaac Birt was once again among his sides best performers, running hard up and down the ground to provide an outlet option. He used the ball well and was an important connector between defence and attack, finishing with 19 disposals, ten marks, four inside-50s and three rebounds. Midfielder Cooper Rogers also found plenty of the ball, complementing the likes of Draper and Roberts in the engine room. He gathered 23 disposals, a game-high 12 marks and nine inside-50s in another impressive display.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

#17 Lukas Cooke

Cooke dominated proceedings in attack, proving far too good for the Panthers defenders. It was just one of those days for Cooke, who marked everything within his reach. And on the rare occasion in which he didn’t clunk the mark, he brought the ball to ground for the Eagles crumbers to pounce upon. What made Cooke’s performance so good was his ability to convert, oftentimes from long range. His set-shot routine is smooth and it proved ultra effective as he nailed five first half goals. His snap on goal in the dying moments of the first half further demonstrated his exciting mobility and athletic prowess. Cooke handled the ruck duties when the ball was in the Eagles forward 50 and more than held his own against some of the Panthers more physically developed juniors, winning five hit-outs, including a couple directly to advantage. After booting two goals in the opening round and one goal last weekend in the loss to Glenelg, Cooke finished the day down south with seven goals to his name, along with 19 disposals and seven marks (including five contested) in a dominant display which will surely have caught the attention of AFL recruiters.

#24 Zac Phillips

Ruckman Phillips could consider himself a touch unlucky to miss out on being drafted in his first year of eligibility in 2020. However, having re-joined the Eagles under-18 set-up as an over-ager, the towering Yorke Peninsula teenager did his draft chances no harm with a terrific display at Noarlunga. Competing against the Panthers duel-rucks Will Verrall and Heath Treloar, Phillips was influential around the ground, with his hit-out ascendancy, cleanliness below his knees, efficient handball skills and neat kicking the standout features of his game. He moved well around the ground and finished the game with 13 disposals, 27 hit-outs, four marks, three tackles and five inside-50s.

Others: Mattaes Phillipou was everywhere for the Eagles. Although he was slightly inconsistent with his ball use, Phillipou’s stoppage nous and ability to accumulate the ball at-will went a long way towards the Eagles picking up their first win of the season. He finished with a team-high 34 disposals, three marks, three tackles, seven clearances and six inside-50s. Dustin Launer was another Eagle who stood up and performed well against a South Adelaide side with a handful of exciting talents. He gathered 26 disposals, five marks, seven tackles, seven clearances and four rebounds in a well-rounded performance. SANFL State Talent Hub member Jay Watson gathered 16 disposals, seven marks, six inside-50s and a goal, with bottom-ager Adam D’Aloia (22 disposals and a goal) also winning his fair share of the ball through the midfield and in attack.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. STURT 

By: Tom Wyman

WEST ADELAIDE:

#9 Kobe Ryan

Ryan was the clear best-on-ground for West Adelaide as they took control of their clash with Sturt. Despite being a year younger and considerably slimmer than many of his opponents, Ryan’s natural ball-winning abilities, poise with ball in-hand and smart running patterns ensured he found the ball with the ease of a seasoned veteran. Effortlessly classy in his movement and typically clean at ground level, Ryan used the ball to excellent effect for the most part, making smart decisions and then executing well by hand and foot. Although a number of his possessions were uncontested touches with limited pressure, the Bloods clearly have confidence in Ryan’s skillset and decision making capabilities – and for good reason. Deceptively strong above his shoulders, Ryan showed why he is considered among the most talented junior footballers in South Australia with an impressive showing, featuring 31 disposals, four marks, four tackles and seven clearances.

#10 Cade Kennedy

The skipper lead from the front for West Adelaide, setting the tone with his aggressive attack on the ball and line-breaking speed proving too difficult to handle for the Sturt midfielders. Although his ball use was questionable at-times, with a couple of his kicks falling short of their intended targets, Kennedy’s production, constant pressure and zip around the ball provided an important point-of-difference and complemented his fellow on-ballers. The sole top-aged West Adelaide player in the SANFL State Talent Hub, Kennedy concluded the match with 27 disposals, five marks, eight tackles and six inside-50s.

#16 Dylan White

Dylan White was another of the Bloods midfield brigade to run riot at Hisense Stadium. A Renmark product from within the West Adelaide country zone, White had a big impact on the contest in the coal-face, winning his fair share of contested ball but, importantly, spread hard and pushed forward to hit the scoreboard. His long range goal at the five minute mark of the second term extended his sides lead and evidently provided a real moral boost. White accumulated 31 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, four clearances and two goals in what was his best game of the season to-date.

#36 Tyson Coe

Powerful bottom-ager Coe played an instrumental role in the Bloods triumph. Regarded for his contested ball winning and tough in-and-under style, it was Coe’s penetrating foot skills which stood out against the Double Blues. Despite boasting an unconventional kicking action, his left foot found plenty of targets on Saturday afternoon, over both long and shorter distances. Skipper of the Bloods Under-16s side last season and current member of the Under-18 leadership group, Coe booted two first half goals, including a long range attempt from near the 50m line and a set-shot from similar range. Coe seemed to be involved in every scoring play for West Adelaide and has made the step-up to under-18s level with ease over the first few weeks. The damaging midfielder/forward finished the game with 22 disposals, five marks and five inside-50s.

#40 Luke Young

Often the focal point in attack for West Adelaide, key forward Luke Young again played an important role in his sides win. Working well in-tandem with fellow tall Harry Lemmey, Young pushed up the ground as he usually does, allowing Lemmey to play as the deepest forward. Young was typically good in the air, taking a couple of nice grabs but importantly bringing the ball to ground too. The Plympton junior’s field kicking was clean and his goal came via a regulation set-shot in the first term, however Young will have no-doubt liked to have added a couple more majors. Nevertheless, he concluded another solid outing with 18 disposals, six marks and four inside-50s.

Others: Bottom-aged key forward Harry Lemmey showed some glimpses of genuine excitement in attack. A highly athletic prospect with excellent mobility and cleanliness for a big man, Lemmey has a smooth set-shot routine and is a capable overhead mark. However he also showed off his natural talent by booting a fantastic running goal on the stroke of half-time. He finished with nine touches and three goals for the match. Dylan McCormick was effective on the wing and through the midfield, particularly in the games early stages. A neat user of the footy, McCormick finished with 18 disposals, six marks and six inside-50s. Patrick Singleton was another ‘Westies’ junior who found an abundance of the ball, accumulating 28 touches and six marks. His repeat-efforts at ground level to stop a regulation Sturt goal in the second term would have thoroughly impressed the Bloods coaching staff. Jed Obst (21 disposals and ten marks), Charlie Pridham (21 disposals, five tackles and six rebounds) and Jesse Thackeray (21 disposals and nine clearances) were also among the Bloods top performers.

STURT:

#7 Nick Sadler

The bottom-aged utility was used up forward and in attack and had some nice moments which suggests he could be one to watch over the next couple of seasons. His penetrating foot skills stood out again today, hitting most of his targets by foot and also using the ball well by hand. He is a strong tackler and appears to have a few handy attributes. Sadler finished with 15 disposals, three marks and four clearances.

#13 Brad Jefferies

Strongly-built midfielder Brad Jefferies was industrious in his return to under-18s level. Jefferies possesses a booming long kick and used the ball effectively by foot for the most part, working against a talented West Adelaide engine room. Jefferies worked hard for the entirety of the match and, in the absence of regular on-baller Will Spain who gained a call-up to reserves level, was Sturt’s go-to man at stoppages. The Double Blues relied heavily upon his combative style in the coal face and will be relived to have the Onkaparinga product back in the under-18 set-up. He finished the game with a team-high 27 disposals, five marks, three tackles, five clearances and four inside-50s.

#37 Zac Becker

Stationed deep in defence, Zac Becker was arguably Sturt’s best performer. Forced to weather a storm of West Adelaide inside-50s at-times, Becker stood up well under the pressure. He spent some time opposed to West Adelaide centre-half-forward Luke Young in what proved to be an enticing battle between two of the premier key position players in the SANFL under-18 competition. As has been the case all season, Becker was trusted with the kick-in duties – a testament to his excellent foot skills. He often cleared the defensive-50 from a kick-in, using his long and accurate leg. Importantly, Becker made good decisions and was also competitive in the air. Clearly the league’s most prolific rebounder after three rounds of action (averaging over 11 rebounds per game), the SANFL Talent Hub member finished with 20 disposals (all of which were kicks), four marks and 14 rebounds.

Others: With Morgan Ferres lining up in the reserves for the second-straight week, it was up to key forward Felix Packer to fill the void. And he did just that, booting four goals from ten disposals and five marks. An accurate set-shot for goal, Packer’s presence in the air was important for a Double Blues side which managed just 37 inside-50s for the match. Although he didn’t hit the scoreboard, medium forward Jacob Lochowiak played with aggression and intent, collecting 18 disposals, three marks, five tackles and seven inside-50s. On-ballers Jamie Taylor (16 disposals, one goal, four tackles and four clearances) and Jake Aish (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, three clearances and four inside-50s) again fought hard for the visitors.

Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography

SANFL Women’s Round 7 wrap: Two points separates second from eighth after weekend’s results

THE evenness of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition was on display over the weekend, with the end result being seven of the eight teams separated by just two points – one win – while Norwood streaked away at the top of the table.

NORWOOD 2.0 | 3.2 | 5.2 | 6.3 (39)
NORTH ADELAIDE 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Norwood: R. Zerella 2, E. Gallagher, J. Macolino, E. Sporn, S. Syme.
North: K. Reynolds.

DC BEST:

Norwood: L. Cutting, E. Gallagher, S. Syme, S. Armitstead, E. Clark.
North: B. Arthur, J. Tabb, K. Pope, E. Sundstrom, E. Greet

Norwood brought up the half dozen straight victories with a dominant 31-point victory over North Adelaide to solidify the Redlegs’ spot at the top of the table. The Redlegs kicked the only two goals of the first term, and kept the Roosters to just one goal for the match, booting the final four goals of the game during the 6.3 (39) to 1.2 (8) win. They dominated possession (215-156) and kept the ball off their opponents with a massive mark differential (46-17), also doubling the inside 50s count (32-16), and controlling the hitouts (37-17). The Roosters defence held up best it could with 25 rebound 50s to 14, and also laid 15 more tackles (69-54).

Leah Cutting led the way in the ruck with 34 hitouts to go with 12 disposals, two marks, 10 tackles and two clearances, as the likes of Elisha Gallagher (16 disposals, four clearances, four marks and a goal), Sachi Syme (17 disposals, three clearances, four inside 50s and a goal) and Jess Macolino (13 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) all hit the scoreboard. Rosette Zerella slotted two majors with her 10 touches and four marks – three contested – while Sophie Armitstead (13 disposals, nine tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s) and Emma Clark (19 disposals, four tackles, three clearances) were also impressive. For the Roosters, Brianna Arthur stood out with seven clearances to match her seven tackles, as well as 15 disposals, whilst Jaimi Tabb laid 13 tackles with nine touches, three inside 50s and four rebound 50s. Erin Sundstrom (nine disposals, seven tackles) and Katelyn Pope (13 disposals, five tackles) were also fierce around the ball carrier.

GLENELG 2.2 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 5.5 (35)
CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.1 | 0.6 | 1.7 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS:

Glenelg: S. Wilton 2, C. Packer 2, G. Duffy.
Central: C. Reynolds 2, G. Madigan, N. Biagi.

DC BEST:

Glenelg: J. Bates, T. Kohn, E. Kellock, S. Franson, S. Goodwin
Central: S. Smith, I. Starmer, P. Allen, N. Mark, E. Mickan,

Glenelg has held on to bounce back with an important win against a fast-finishing Central District outfit that gave the Bays a real scare at ACH Group Stadium on Friday night. The home team booted the first two goals of the game and led by 13 points at the first break, before six consecutive behinds to the Bulldogs over the next quarter and a minute had them within seven points. Chantel Reynolds kicked the drought-breaking goal two minutes into the third term for the Bulldogs to claw to within one point, but the next five scoring shots – and three goals including two to Sarah Wilton  – went the way of Glenelg to open up a 35-13 lead. Looking down and out, the Bulldogs found a way to get back with three last quarter goals, but would ultimately fall three points short.

Jessica Bates was outstanding once again, amassing 14 disposals, two marks, 10 tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s for the winners, teaming up well with Tessa Kohn (16 disposals, three marks, eight tackles and two clearances), and Ellie Kellock (13 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and four rebound 50s) around the ground. Wilton slotted the two goals from five disposals, as did Chelsea Packer, while Sam Franson had an impact thanks to nine disposals, eight tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s. For the Bulldogs, Shelby Smith led from the front with a match-high 19 disposals, as well as two marks, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Isabelle Starmer was terrific in the ruck, finishing with 10 disposals, 27 hitouts, six tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebound 50s. Katelyn Rosenzweig (eight disposals, two marks, six tackles, five hitouts, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Reynolds (five disposals, three marks and two goals) again looked lively.

WWT EAGLES 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 | 4.0 (24)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 | 5.3 (33)

GOALS:

Eagles: P. Pipinis 2, A. Gooley, J. Zecevic.
South: J. Hooper 2, L. Buchanan, C. Cavouras, T. Meyer

DC BEST:

Eagles: J. Zecevic, S. Goody, K. Lee, A. Falkenberg, Z. Anthony
South: C. Cavouras, T. Meyer, N. Campbell, S. Moon, J. Smith

A momentum-swinging match has gone in the favour of the visitors, with South Adelaide triumphing over Woodville-West Torrens Eagles by just nine points at Maughan Thiem Kia Oval on Saturday morning. The teams traded goals in the opening half, with the only five scoring shots of the first half all being goals. The Eagles led by as much as 12 points early in the second term, but back-to-back goals by South had them a point up early in the third. The Eagles again responded to hit the front at the final break, but South kicked on in the last term to boot 2.2 to 0.0 and run out 5.3 (33) to 4.0 (24) winners. The teams were evenly matched with the Panthers ahead in the tackles (71-53), hitouts (23-17) and clearances (19-15), but most crucially the inside 50s (28-17), whilst the Eagles held firm in the back half with 21 rebound 50s to 13.

Tahlia Meyer was welcomed back to the Panthers after her terrific season with St Kilda in the AFL Women’s, amassing 25 touches, five marks, nine tackles, three inside 50s and a goal, only bested by Czenya Cavouras who feasted with 26 disposals, five marks, six tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s, two rebound 50s and a goal. Nicole Campbell also dominated through the midfield with 18 disposals, five clearances, six tackles, four inside 50s and two rebound 50s, while Soriah Moon fed them the ball all day with 20 hitouts to accompany 13 disposals, three marks, three tackles and three clearances. Jaslynne Smith (18 disposals, five marks and three tackles) and Elyse Haylock (15 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s) were other prominent Panthers in the match. Jovanka Zecevic suffered leather poisoning with a match equal-high 26 touches, as well as six marks, three clearances and a goal, while young gun Shineah Goody had 15 disposals, nine tackles, three clearances and three rebound 50s. Anastasia Falkenberg (16 disposals, six marks and five tackles) and Zahn Anthony (16 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s) were busy, while Kiana Lee showcased her contested marking ability with five contested grabs from seven marks, as well as 13 disposals.

STURT 3.2 | 7.2 | 7.5 | 9.8 (62)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.0 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

Sturt: N. Baker 3, A. Healy 2, A. Jericho, S. Wallace, J. Good.
West: K. Culhane, I. Loftes.

DC BEST:

Sturt: J. Good, J. Wittervan, I. Kuiper, N. Baker, A. Healy
West: S. Dargan, M. Russell, I. Loftes, S. Whiting, B. Owen

A seven goals to zero first half has set up a memorable victory for Sturt, piling on the Double Blues’ highest score with a huge 45-point win over West Adelaide to move within a win of the top four. The home team kept the Westies goalless until three minutes into the third term, where the visitors kicked two goals in the space of five minutes, and had the majority of their score within that time. But it was the seven straight goals to open proceedings – and that final two of the match – that secured Sturt its second win of the season. The Double Blues dominated possession, winning almost 100 more touches (217-138), had 19 more marks (47-28), and won the hitouts (26-18), clearances (21-18) and thrashed their opponents in the inside 50s count (27-12). West Adelaide did lay more tackles (53-38) and had four more rebound 50s (15-11) in a low-rebound game.

Nicole Baker was the chief destroyer with three goals from five scoring shots, also picking up seven touches, two marks and three tackles in the win. Alysha Healy slotted the two majors from nine touches and three marks – two contested – whilst ruck Jess Good was fantastic kicking a goal and having 16 disposals, four marks, 21 hitouts, four clearances, three tackles and two inside 50s. Kate Harris (12 disposals, three marks – two contested, five tackles and three clearances) and Aajiah Jericho (11 disposals, four marks – one contested) both found plenty of the ball and hit the scoreboard, whilst Jaimee Wittervan (14 disposals, five clearances and five tackles), Isobel Kuiper (20 disposals, four marks, two clearances and three inside 50s) and Alisha Gepp (17 disposals, five marks, three tackles and three rebound 50s) were all busy for the Double Blues. Just four players hit double-figure disposals for the Westies, led by Madi Russell (14 disposals, eight marks), while Sarah Dargan (13 disposals, nine tackles and four clearances) was the standout on her SANFL Women’s debut. Sharnie Whiting (12 disposals, three inside 50s and two rebound 50s), Bec Owen (10 disposals, three tackles and two inside 50s) and Imogen Loftes (six disposals, five tackles and a goal) were also among the visitors’ best in the loss.

 

Picture credit: SANFL / Cory Sutton

Scouting Notes: 2021 Vic Metro vs. Vic Country Under 17 trials

WITH the NAB League Under 17 carnival done and dusted, the best performers from each region came together on Friday to compete in two trial games. The pair of scratch matches, held at Trevor Barker Oval, will help determine the final Vic Country and Vic Metro Under 17 squads set to compete at this year’s National Championships.

Vic Country snared wins in both games, though the focus will be on which individuals made claims for representative honours. That is also the case in our Scouting Notes, which are the opinion of each individual author.

GAME ONE:

Vic Country 12.7 (79) def. Vic Country 8.15 (63)

By: Declan Reeve

Vic Country:

#3 Will Baker (Geelong Falcons)

Was a consistent workhorse in the forward half for Country, looking to get into good areas to be a marking option, where he was spoiled a few times by his opponent but comprehensively beat them with the follow up work at ground level, beforegetting it forward with his boot. The workrate translated to his tackling as well, able to bring down bigger opponents or hold them up to cause a stoppage. Finished the day with two goals, with one of those being an impressive effort, as he sold some candy to his opponent before kicking it well straight through the big sticks.

#4 Zane Duursma (Gippsland Power)

Another brother of an AFL-listed player, this time being Port Adelaide’s Xavier Duursma, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re the same player, with Zane also a hard-working runner with clean disposal. He genuinely did not miss a target for the game, with his kicking the standout on field, looking to utilise the width of the ground with switch kicks, but also happy to take those riskier inside 45 kicks and always having them pay off. Being a 2023 draft eligible prospect, you’d expect that his size would be a hindrance against the bigger bodies, but when moved from the wing to the inside role, Duursma took it in his stride, winning a couple of clearances with well timed runs and following up with perfect delivery.

#5 Oliver Hollands (Murray Bushrangers)

The brother of recently-drafted Gold Coast player, Elijah Hollands, Oliver showed that he possesses perhaps equally impressive athletic traits and midfield craft than his older brother. He won the very first clearance of the game, where he got away from his direct opponent, and then outran the other two Metro mids to kick well inside 50 and set up Country’s first goal. That sort of burst and skill continued to be on display throughout the contest. His work rate was immense, with some particularly good defensive work in-close where he intercepted a few handballs from Metro, that were only going from a player 2 meters away from their intended target, and then pumped the ball long forward before he could be wrapped up and brought to ground. Also like his brother, he is impactful forward of centre, taking some good grabs in the forward half and getting himself a goal in the first quarter.

#6 Noah Long (Bendigo Pioneers)

Earning comparisons to AFL Rising Star Winner Caleb Serong from onlookers, it’s not hard to see why Long recieved such high praise. Despite being shorter than most of the opposing midfielders, Long was consistently harder at it on the inside and came off best most times when the ball was contested. Something that really stuck, was he seemed to want to run through packs rather than just run in and win the ball, with his ferociousness meaning he often succeeded and then disposed of it quickly by hand to the outside. Unsurprisingly, this was all paired with possibly the highest defensive workrate on the ground, running both ways and often seen deep in defence to help out his team, with his strong tackling and physicality troubling Metro.

#12 Bailey Humphrey (Gippsland Power)

Really came into the game in the second half where he was a strong defensive presence in the midfield, putting himself in good spots to tackle opponents that thought they had gotten clear out of a stoppage or contest, really driving them into the ground. Also showed some strong aerial strength, where he took some crucial marks, including one particularly impressive contested grab over a pack of four or five other players.

#19 Ashtyn Atkinson (Murray Bushrangers)

A real natural and crafty forward, Ashtyn finished the day with three goals from smart leads and positioning, but could have easily had 5 or 6 had his conversion from set shots been a little higher. The sheer amount of marks inside 50 he got was impressive, and highlighted his ability to lead to the right spots and get separation on those leads, with a quick first three-to-four steps being a big part of that.

#22 Ned Moodie (Dandenong Stingrays)

Despite being on the end of the Hollands’ clearance at the very start of the game, then passing it off to a teammate who kicked the opening goal, he was relatively quiet in the first half of the game where he spent most of his time up forward. It was in the second half when he be moved into the midfield where Moodie showed his potential as a big bodied inside ball winner. He won a few clearances and showed quick, clean hands on the run, as well as a high level work rate, often being involved multiple times in the same chain of play leading forward.

#25 Nate Pipicelli (Gippsland Power)

Played at both ends, kicking the first goal of the match but then going quiet for quite some time, before bobbing up to be one of the better players in the second half as the Country full back. It was there where he took some good intercept grabs in front of packs, but also knew not to get sucked into forming packs, holding out the back to take some easy grabs because everyone was caught too far in front. 

#26 Aaron Cadman (GWV Rebels)

Similar to Atkinson, Cadman just seemed to understand what was required of him as a forward, getting to the right spots to mark, or being in the right place at the right time to receive a handball to get himself a goal, ending the game with three.

#30 Jess McManus (Dandenong Stingrays)

Played in all thirds of the ground, starting as a defender where he took some good grabs working in front of his opponents, or spoiled strongly when stuck behind. Then moved into the ruck where he fought hard for front position in every battle, and followed up much better at ground level than his opponent, even getting himself some free kicks when tackling opponents who tried to get past him. Then moved into the forwardline where he showed a real prowess for leading into good spots with purpose.

Vic Metro:

#2 Nick Watson (Eastern Ranges)

It’s incredible that a player who is a year younger than those he’s playing against, and standing at only 168 cm, can have such a high level performance, arguably best afield for the match across both teams. Watson just consistently had a crack throughout the game, showing enormous bravery with his hunt for the ball, and going back with the flight to take strong marks multiple times – even having a few moments where his speed let him run a good 20-25 meters to take an intercept mark just outside of Metro’s forward 50, against opponents 20cm taller than him. He has blistering speed which allows him to get separation that not many others can, while also seeing him dash away from packs before anyone else has realised what’s happened. He was rewarded for such a well rounded performance with a goal in the third quarter, after setting up four or five himself.

#4 Reuben Rode (Calder Cannons)

The Essendon NGA prospect played up both ends and utilised his scintillating speed and agility to, at times, embarrass opponents with how well he managed to weave through traffic or take them on. His speed was his main weapon though, running head-on to spilled balls around the defensive 50 to then deliver kicks out to the wing, in an attempt to keep his disposals safe. When the ball was inside forward 50 he set up well on the outer, taking some uncontested intercept marks to deliver straight back inside.

#5 Blake Drury (Oakleigh Chargers)

Skipper for Metro in this game, Drury worked his way into the contest as it went on, where he eventually got his move into the midfield and decided he didn’t like other players winning clearances. There was a passage in the fourth quarter in particular, where it felt like he won six or seven clearances in a row, just reading the ball off the ruck tap exceptionally well, taking a few really quick steps to get space and momentum, before delivering long inside 50 to create pressure for the Country defence. Country rotated different players on him, but he just kept on doing it. Presented well as an option around the ground as well, using his kicking skill to move the ball more centrally going forward. 

#6 Alwyn Davey Jnr (Oakleigh Chargers)

Whilst not racking up the most ball of the day, he had some absolute moments of brilliance where you could see the excitement he’ll bring to the game in a few years. Clean below his knees, Davey took the ball with one grab consistently, showing amazing speed that he maintained even when turning 180 degrees. He took on opponents consistently with a few bounces and weaved here and there. Got a brilliant goal assist in the second quarter where he crumbed the ball perfectly from the pack and fired of a handball to a loose teammate who capitalised.

#8 Cooper Harvey (Northern Knights)

A game that was truly made up of two halves for Harvey. In the first half he played his usual role as a smaller forward target, capable of making smart and well timed leads, while linking up well with Nick Watson to get onto the end of some genuine bullet kicks – looking more than comfortable taking them out in front and on the chest. He didn’t always convert to goal, with a couple shots falling short but ending up in the right areas. The one attempt he did slot came from right in front after again leading well. In the second half, he moved into the rover role almost permanently, where that same marking prowess was dangerous and heavily utilised by Metro when looking to slow down the play. He’d look for options most others wouldn’t. In a game where long bombs were common, he lowered the eyes to hit leading targets or switch kick options which made him standout amongst the midfield group. 

#10 Darcy Edmends (Northern Knights)

The word ‘class’ gets thrown about a lot these days, but this kid genuinely demonstrates it in its truest form. Starting the game on the wing, Edmends used his composure well, timing his runs perfectly and holding space as to allow his teammates to break out if they could. If not, he would remain close enough to get the hands on the outside, where his kicking forward or across the ground was a treat to watch. Just had moments where he looked a class above anyone else in his area, with many plays where he was being closed in on by multiple opponents, but weaved through them like they were frozen in place. He was also the standout for drawing opponents in to give more space to teammates to run into, holding the ball until the very last second he could and then releasing, copping contact if needed. Moved into the backline in the second half, where he positioned well for uncontested chest marks.

#11 George Wardlaw (Oakleigh Chargers)

The standout inside midfielder for the game, Wardlaw is a commanding physical presence around stoppages, able to get to top speed with only a few steps. If he gets a clean run at the ball, you can chalk it in for a clearance, and if he doesn’t, you can guarantee that he’ll run through whoever is in the way to get it. What was most impressive was how clean and quick his hands were in-close, just knowing where his teammates were when he had the ball and firing out sharp and accurate handballs. While his kicking was rushed at times, he still got good distance and penetration to quickly move forward. Had a great show of courage in the third quarter, where he was playing as a defender, and went back with the flight of the ball in an attempt to mark it overhead, but collided heavily with a Country player. Not allowing this to stop his hunt for the ball, he then dived across to pick it up and handball to a teammate in the corridor, before going off for the rest of the game icing his calf.

#24 Matthew Jefferson (Oakleigh Chargers)

Does this kid have sticky hands or what? Seemed to mark any ball that was in the air within 10 meters of him, seriously challenging the Country defence as they rotated players constantly in an effort to disturb his aerial impact. Two of his three goals came directly from contested marks, and what would’ve been five or so scoring opportunities created from kicks he earned from marks. His ball use was good as well, putting it in front of teammates to run onto easily and take it on the chest. His three goals obviously suggest his set shots are reliable when he’s in range.

GAME TWO:

Vic Country 13.11 (89) def. Vic Country 8.10 (58)

By: Ed Pascoe

Vic Country:

#1 Jacob Konstanty (Gippsland Power)

The exciting small forward from Gippsland looked dangerous early, kicking his only two goals in the first quarter to get Country off to a great start. The 176cm pocket rocket showed he could make an impact overhead and at ground level, with his first goal coming from a nice lead up mark before the converted set shot from 40 metres, while a great snap goal in the pocket on his opposite foot highlighted his class. He wouldn’t add to his goal tally and was a bit quieter as the game went on, but he still showed great skill and forward pressure and could be a handful for Vic Country at the Under 17 championships.

#9 Jai McGough (Geelong Falcons)

The speedy small defender with the long sleeves had plenty of the ball, being trusted with kick-outs early in the game and showing great creativity and vision by foot. The 178cm McGough offered plenty of drive from half-back and wasn’t hard to miss with his speed. He would later bring those traits to the wing in the second half and would still win plenty of the ball and help drive it forward for Country, even having a running shot at goal despite missing. The Geelong Falcons prospect looks very exciting and one to keep an eye on with his dash.

#14 Jonti Schuback (Gippsland Power)

Usually a smooth moving midfielder for Gippsland Power, Schuback was used at half-back early on, offering plenty of skill and composure in the back half. Schuback started to look more damaging on a wing, kicking a behind from a long shot from 50, while a 50-metre penalty would give him his first goal which he slotted calmly. The 185cm prospect played a similar type of game to that of Josh Browne who is a 2021 prospect out of East Fremantle, and Schuback should be an important cog in Vic Country’s midfield depth during the Under 17 championships.

#17 Ted Clohesy (Geelong Falcons)

With a no-fuss haircut, the 182cm Geelong Falcons midfielder proved tough and damaging, playing a contested and efficient game through the midfield while also looking dynamic forward of centre, where he would kick two very nice goals. Despite a light frame, Clohesy wasn’t afraid of winning the hard ball and to balance out his contested side, he would use the ball well on the outside and really move it forward well. Clohesy did his chances of playing for Country at this year’s Under 17 carnival no harm.

#20 Brayden George (Murray Bushrangers)

Game 1 had a Murray Bushrangers forward at 185cm in Ashtyn Atkinson causing havoc, and Game 2 had his teammate in George do just that. The powerful medium forward kicked two goals in an impressive display. showing plenty of class. The first came from some intelligent work in open play; instead of rushing a snap, he quickly summed up is options and then straitened up to kick a nice drop punt goal. His second was also classy, kicking a great snap goal from a set shot, repeating what many AFL forwards seem to be doing this year. Murray Bushrangers will be a hard team to stop with both he and Atkinson providing plenty of excitement.

#25 Felix Fogarty (GWV Rebels)

The GWV Rebels key forward provided a great target for his midfielders leading up at the ball well and nailing his marks. Fogarty showed plenty of skill for a taller player as well, with the 197cm prospect really hitting his straps in the second quarter to show good agility to get around a man on the mark and kick a lovely set shot goal from 50 metres, which was his only major of the day. Fogarty will look to have a great forward partnership with fellow Rebel Aaron Cadman, not only for the Rebels but perhaps also for Vic Country at the Under 17 championships.

Vic Metro:

#9 Will Ashcroft (Sandringham Dragons)

The Sandringham prospect and son of gun former-Brisbane player Marcus Ashcroft was one of Metro’s best players, winning plenty of clearances and breaking away from congestion. Ashcroft is a talented midfielder much like his father was, and at 183cm looks a top prospect for the 2022 draft. He was able to kick his only goal in the first quarter with a free kick, but converted the set shot from 50 metres out, showing his great kicking skills. Ashcroft has a great mix of skill and burst from stoppages, which is a highly regarded trait. Ashcroft had a few shots at goal stopped on the line and he could have had a much bigger day, but he certainly looks like a player to watch at the upcoming Under 17 championships.

#10 Harry Sheezel (Sandringham Dragons)

Arguably the best small forward for Vic Metro over the two games, the 183cm Sandringham prospect looked dangerous whenever he was around the ball, showing clean hands and agility when in possession and finding the ball in dangerous situations. Sheezel showed great courage early, going the back with the flight to take a nice mark inside 50 and although he didn’t convert the set shot, he would kick his only two goals in the same quarter. One came from a free kick and another a nice shot on the run. Sheezel was quieter in the second half but he was able to show why he would be a player to watch for Vic Metro in the Under 17 championships.

#11 Luke Teal (Oakleigh Chargers)

The dynamic Oakleigh Charger started the game well at half-back, taking some nice intercept marks and playing on at every opportunity. Teal showed great movement in traffic and he would then use those traits in the midfield when he was moved into there in the second half, winning plenty of the ball and escaping congestion well, while also using his clean hands to his advantage. Teal looks like a player to watch for Vic Metro at the championships and he could play a variety of roles at 184cm.

#12 Zac Greeves (Eastern Ranges)

The Eastern Ranges prospect isn’t too dissimilar to Luke Teal in size and style and like Teal, showed some good form in all areas of the ground. A strong player at 185cm, Greeves showed a great willingness to take the game on and he moved well in traffic and looked a very composed player under pressure, willing to stay strong and brace for impact. Before the Under 17 championships start he will certainly be one to watch for Caulfield Grammar in the APS.

#21 Will Elliott (Oakleigh Chargers) 

The athletic young ruckman from Oakleigh Chargers had some real eye-catching moments both in the ruck and up forward. He had plenty of good moments on every line, with a strong contested intercept mark on the last line in defence during the third quarter and a nice bit of play in the last quarter showing good agility under pressure, along with good composure to then handpass to a teammate to set up a goal. Elliot might not be a starting ruck for Metro at the championships but he was able to show plenty of traits behind the play and up forward to make him a potentially versatile prospect at 200cm.

Third time’s a charm for brilliant Brisbane

BRISBANE has produced a phenomenal team performance in the Grand Final to claim their maiden AFLW premiership, defeating Adelaide 6.2 (38) to 3.2 (20) in front of 22,934 fans at the Adelaide Oval. It was the truest form of redemption for the Lions, who fell just one goal short in both of the 2017 and 2018 AFLW deciders against the Crows and Western Bulldogs respectively.

The premiers dominated the tackle count (76-52), the uncontested possessions (130-92) and the clearances (26-18). However, the story of the day was efficiency when going inside 50. Brisbane were far cleaner than the Crows throughout the contest, going at 61 per cent efficiency to the Crows’ 54 per cent. This allowed the Lions to make the most of their opportunities inside 50, as they kicked it to their forwards’ advantage and gave themselves space to run into. Adelaide had almost double the amount of inside 50s for the match (44-24), but they regularly bombed the ball in blindly and allowed Brisbane defenders to float across and take easy intercept marks. 

Kate Lutkins was outstanding in her role of leading Brisbane’s defence, finishing with 18 disposals (16 kicks), six marks and two tackles along with countless goal-saving efforts. She was rightly adjudged best afield for her performance.

Lutkins was well-supported by Breanna Koenan (14 disposals, six marks, four tackles), Nat Grider (11 disposals, two marks, four tackles) and Shannon Campbell (seven disposals, five marks, three tackles). Ally Anderson (23 disposals, four marks, four tackles), Emily Bates (23 disposals, two marks, two tackles) and Orla O’Dwyer (16 disposals, six tackles) were fantastic in the middle of the ground, while Jess Wuetschner and Courtney Hodder kicked two goals apiece. Hodder’s incredible goal in the second term – a kick out of mid-air from the pocket – was the AFLW Goal of the Year in the eyes of many onlookers.

Brisbane were able to keep Adelaide’s stars uncharacteristically quiet on the big stage. Cathy Svarc did a brilliant job on Ebony Marinoff in the midfield, particularly at the stoppages, and she collected 12 disposals herself. Meanwhile, Koenan and Bates shared the duties on two-time AFLW Grand Final best on ground medallist Erin Phillips and held her to just eight disposals and zero marks. Let’s hope this is not the last time we see Phillips on an AFLW field.

Stevie-Lee Thompson was a shining light for the Crows with 18 disposals and a thrilling goal in the opening term, while Eloise Jones and Teah Charlton worked tirelessly throughout the contest.

Hodder got her side off to a flyer with the opening major, and Brisbane set up perfectly behind the ball from the start. Adelaide showed little-to-no composure going forward, and the Lions were reading their entries with ease. The Crows did not look like scoring until Thompson shrugged a tackle and produced a goal out of nothing in the closing minutes. Scores were level at the first break and it appeared as though Adelaide’s inability to capitalise on their chances would come back to haunt them.

Lutkins made her only mistake of the match early in the second, kicking the ball out on the full after Campbell earned a free kick for holding the ball. Jones then showed her composure to hit a leading Danielle Ponter on the chest and set up Adelaide’s second. Hodder immediately responded with her incredible goal, and Adelaide failed to capitalise on their inside 50 dominance for the rest of the term. Wuetschner made the Crows pay with a clever snap to put through her first and give Brisbane a five-point lead at the main break.

There was drama in the third term, as captains Emma Zielke and Angela Foley both suffered match-ending injuries within minutes of each other. Zielke went down with a right hamstring issue, while Foley appeared to damage her knee in a horrid landing at a marking contest. Foley’s injury occurred in an eerily similar position to where Phillips ruptured her ACL in the 2019 Grand Final.

Zielke’s absence did not spook the visitors, who piled on three majors for the term and held Adelaide goalless. Whenever Adelaide looked like they had a goal scoring opportunity, Brisbane defenders hunted them down and forced a turnover. When Isabel Dawes showed great composure to nail Brisbane’s sixth after the three-quarter time siren, it was difficult to see a way that the Crows could make up the 22-point deficit with one quarter remaining.

A rev-up from leader Chelsea Randall at the last break inspired the Crows to lift in the opening minutes of the final term. Jones brought the deficit back to 16 points with a goal following a 50-metre penalty, but the Crows continued the trend of failing to make the most of their chances for the rest of the term. They had twelve-straight inside 50s and were unable to find a target within range. In the closing minutes, Svarc produced a superb run-down tackle on Adelaide inclusion Ailish Considine to set up Brisbane’s first inside 50 of the term. From there, they locked the ball in and comfortably held on for a historic 18-point victory.

ADELAIDE 1.0 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 (20)
BRISBANE 1.0 | 3.0 | 6.0 | 6.2 (38)

GOALS:

Adelaide: D. Ponter, E. Jones, S. Thompson.
Brisbane: J. Wuetschner, C. Hodder 2, L. Arnell, I. Dawes.

DC BEST:

Adelaide: S. Thompson, E. Jones, D. Ponter, T. Charlton, A. Hatchard.
Brisbane: K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, C. Svarc, B. Koenan, E. Bates, C. Hodder.

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 AFLW Grand Final Preview: History repeats as AFLW greats meet again

THE 2021 AFL Women’s season has come to a head, with the biggest match of the year set to play out between two of the AFLW greats. Following huge preliminary final victories last week – one a blowout margin and one a hard-fought contest – there is no doubt the two best sides enter the big dance, with everything to play for and not just bragging rights, but also history on the line.

Adelaide v Brisbane
Saturday, April 17 @ 2:00 AEST
Adelaide Oval

In a matchup we have seen plenty of times, it’s only fitting that the two best teams of the AFLW era face off in today’s decider. The top two teams on the ladder, the Crows and the Lions first faced off in the 2017 grand final, with Adelaide victorious by six points, dishing out heartbreak to Lions players, staff and fans.

Since then, a lot has changed for both sides, but a rivalry has emerged, and classic matches have been born from this. The Lions have remained in contention in the coming years, suffering a second six-point grand final loss in as many years. The Crows stumbled in 2018, but found themselves premiers again as they smashed Carlton by 45 points in the 2019 grand final. The 2020 season was scrapped, meaning at least one of these two teams has featured in every AFLW grand final. It is almost destiny that the streak continues into 2021. To top it off, Lion Lauren Arnell will play for a flag in her final outing at the end of a strong career. Could a fairytale be on the cards?

Both finishing with eight wins (seven in the home and away season) and two losses, a percentage lead gave Adelaide the crucial home ground advantage in today’s game. Adelaide went 6-1 at Adelaide Oval this year, while the Lions went 5-1 at the Gabba. Both grounds are very different in both dimensions and atmosphere, so Adelaide have already gained an important boost. When these two teams faced off, Crows superstar Erin Phillips arguably won the game off her own boot for her side. She slotted four goals for the match – including the sealer in the final minute of the game – as Adelaide escaped with a 12-point win. Phillips has been one of the game’s best players since its inception and could prove to be a match-winner on the biggest stage of all. Expect Brisbane to put plenty of work into ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

There are key players all over the ground, with plenty of stars sure to attract attention from the opposition. Starting with the Crows, Phillips is clearly priority number one for Brisbane to negate, with her ability to tear a game open in a matter of minutes demonstrated in the previous matchup. Her talent both in the midfield and up forward makes it tough for Brisbane to settle on a hard one-on-one tag. The Lions will certainly have their hands full stopping the league’s first superstar. There is also Eb Marinoff, a midfield star in her own right. She put her stamp on the preliminary final, finishing with 35 disposals and 12 tackles, constantly tormenting opponents with her clinical work around the stoppages. The Crows midfield will be hard to stop, but the Lions can do it, and they have stars of their own. Midfielders Emily Bates and Isabelle Dawes will almost certainly have a say on Saturday’s result. The Crows will also have to be aware of Kate Lutkins and her ability to create from the back half. She is crucial to the team’s style of play and will be looking to deliver on the big stage as she has in the past, whilst Dakota Davidson and Courtney Hodder are critical cogs. Heartbreakingly, Chelsea Randall has been ruled out of a comeback for the Crows per the AFL’s strict 12-day concussion guidelines after sustaining a match-ending head-knock last week.

It’s a rivalry four years in the making, and one that has enthralled viewers all across the nation. The two best teams of the AFLW at the top of their respective games has the potential to be a classic in the making. No one knows who will be holding the cup later this afternoon, but the one certainty is that all eyes will be on Adelaide Oval.

Records:

Adelaide: 7-2 (1st)
Brisbane: 
7-2 (2nd)

Last 5:
Adelaide: 4-1
Brisbane: 4-1

2021 meeting:
Round 4
 – Adelaide by 12

Most goals:
Adelaide:
Erin Phillips (14)
Brisbane: Dakota Davidson (16)

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 8 preview: Swans load up on AFLW talent to continue winning streak

A CLEAR divide has developed in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition, as the top three sides – led by the undefeated Swan Districts – are at least 12 points clear of the bottom three sides. The Swans have not dropped a game in seven outings and sit pretty eight points clear at the top of the ladder, with a massive percentage of 263.7. Peel Thunder and Claremont are separated by less than six per cent thanks to five wins from seven matches, before East Fremantle and Subiaco appear to be fighting it out for the last finals spot. The Sharks have the superior percentage – by 9.67 per cent, while South Fremantle hold up the table as the only side yet to win a game in 2021.

The opening game of the round sees reigning premiers Peel Thunder hitting the road to take on reigning wooden spooner and a side yet to register a win in the club’s short history, in South Fremantle. The Thunder will welcome back Demi Liddle who slots straight into the midfield group alongside Chloe Rigley, Gracie Fenton and Ebony Bilcich. The loss of the likes of Courtney Rowley, Jaide Britton and Ella Roberts to the State Academy has not impacted the Thunder, and they are expected to get the job done here with the damaging forward line of Kira Phillips, Bailey Molloy and Kate Bartlett all able to hit the scoreboard, and Tanisha Anderson, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson at the back.

The Bulldogs on the other hand have a steady midfield group of Tahlia Holtze, Lauren Vecchio and Liudsaidh Gilchrist, though will be missing the likes of Makaela Tuhakaraina, Ash Reidy and Lauren Wakfer from the side who will return next week from their State Academy duties. Pia Durk, Kiara Templeman and Zoe Huggett are important components of the side, with Hunter Cronin and Aaliyah Ugle others to keep an eye on forward of centre for the league’s cellar dwellers.

Just when it looked like Swan Districts could not get any stronger without its contingent of youth stars, the Swans have brought back the Hyde twins, with Mikayla and Brianna Hyde both in the team. Mikayla has already played this season at state level, but is expected to feature more heavily now Fremantle’s AFL Women’s campaign is over. Brianna on the other hand was co-captain of the State Academy squad, but fell a week short of recovering from injury to play, and will look to have an impact in this game. Chanel Jetta will join the likes of AFL Women’s listed talents Kellie Gibson and Imahra Cameron back into the side. They also have the in-form Jess Cox, along with fellow youngsters Jaime Henry, Kloe Taylor and Danielle Wright, while Emily McGuire has been named at full-forward in a change of ends.

Subiaco have not opted to name any outs just yet, with Ellie Blackmore an important inclusion back in the side on a wing, whilst Taylisha Brown, Maud-Annie Foley and Dahna Lee have all been added to the extended interchange. Jess Ritchie, Tarnica Golisano, Lara Filocamo and Abbey Dowrick are a strong midfield group, as Claire Ortlepp and Jayme Harken provide the defensive impact, and youngsters Kia Buckley and Jamie Rust will benefit once again alongside Tarnee Tester at half-forward. The Swans will be strong favourites to go 8-0, but Subiaco are forming a more solid team to attack the second half of the year.

In the final game of the round, East Fremantle will look to cause an upset against Claremont with both teams making some changes at the selection table. The Tigers have welcomed back AFL Women’s listed Eagles, Hayley Bullas and Sophie McDonald, alongside Adele Arnup, Ayesha Razvi and Mackenzie Thompson, with Melissa Mettam, Emily Pickett and Julia Uhe coming out but remaining at emergencies. Bullas will team up with Sasha Goranova and Jess Low in the midfield which will cause some headaches for the sharks, whilst McDonald will join forces with consistent defenders, Rachel Ortlepp and Amy Fortescue in the back half.

East Fremantle welcome back Kahra Sprylan into that midfield mix, as well as full-forward Stephanie Dalton who replaces Sara Lewis, defender Rachel Ashley, and then Doma Fedele and youngster Gabby Radojkovich coming onto the bench. Alli Nokes, Samara Pluschke and Torrens Revell were among the outs for the home team ahead of the clash. Rosie Walsh remains at full-back for the Sharks, with Hayley O’Donnell, Ashleigh Gomes and Madeline Ross creating some run on the outside, and clever Larissa Versaci up forward. Sharon Wong and Kate Inglis-Hodge will look to take control with Sprylan in a massive midfield battle against the equally-talented Tigers onball brigade.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 8 FIXTURES:

South Fremantle vs. Peel Thunder
Swan Districts vs. Subiaco
East Fremantle vs. Claremont

Picture credit: WAFL

2021 NAB League: Round 3 outlook – ‘Rays on the rise

AFTER a couple of all-country clashes, Dandenong Stingrays sit 1-1 heading into the third full round of NAB League action. Although they did not get the four points last time out, a bunch of budding AFL Draft prospects proved one thing – that the ‘Rays may well be on the rise in that capacity.

The typically strong talent region saw only one player selected in the most recent draft intake, as Deakyn Smith landed at Melbourne through the pre-season supplemental selection period. That was after a handful of Dandenong products made it to the elite level in 2019, but it seems at this early stage that the Stingrays may have another few prospects set to make a name for themselves this year.

Round 2 Player of the Week, Connor Macdonald returned a dream performance in the Stingrays’ loss to Greater Western Victoria (GWV); amassing 33 disposals, 10 marks, 10 inside 50s, and laying 12 tackles. A monster effort. It saw the 184cm midfielder rise up draft boards, especially having backed up a strong Round 1 showing.

His speed away from congestion is complemented well by a desire to work hard, as Macdonald could be seen accumulating possessions in all areas of the ground and lifting when his side needed it. Having played on a wing and up forward, Macdonald also has the ability to kick goals and really hurt the opposition with his balanced game.

There are a raft of other names to keep an eye on as they raise their stocks throughout this year’s campaign. Miller Bergman is a versatile type with eye-catching traits. He started at half-back in Round 2 before moving forward to boot three final-term goals, showcasing impressive aerial ability and some real class on the ball at both ends.

James Cahill, the brother of Essendon’s Ned, is another coming through the ranks. The crafty forward shares many traits with his elder sibling, able to play slightly above his size and hit up hard at the ball to mark. He also boasts the obvious ground level craft with clean hands, great smarts, and a real nose for goal. Watch for his rise.

Joining him up forward are livewires Judson Clarke and Josiah Kyle. The former does not need much room or many touches to make an impact inside 50, and the same can be said for the latter. Kyle is also a St Kilda Next Generation Academy prospect, while the speedy Kobi George, Ryan Koo Kwet Kim, and Mac Andrew qualify for Melbourne.

Andrew has raised eyebrows of late as a raw ruck talent with genuine top 25 potential. His athleticism makes for exciting work at each contest, and he also has a good knack for taking marks around the ground – whether it be while dropping back in support or in his time resting forward. At the contest, he also follows up well and while his decision making can do with refining at times, he does well when performing the fundamentals.

Another tall of note is Justin Davies, difficult to miss with his red hair. He showed as an Under 16 prospect that he is capable of playing as a forward, but looks to have swung up the other end of late and played a key role against GWV as he shut down the dangerous Josh Rentsch.

Of course, it would be remiss not to mention a couple of 19th-year prospects who have also lived up to their billings. Will Bravo returned with aplomb last week on the wing and through midfield, making use of his experience with the Hawthorn AFL side during preseason. Utility Clayton Gay has also started strongly, a terrific natural footballer.

Having shown vast development on each line, this emerging Dandenong side will face one of the toughest NAB League tests in Round 3, against Sandringham Dragons. The two sides meet on Saturday afternoon at Trevor Barker Oval, with the 2-0 Dragons boasting a heap of high-end draft prospects.

Tune in to the contest via the NAB League app, where our very own Draft Editor Michael Alvaro, and analyst Declan Reeve will be providing commentary. With so much talent set to take the field, it looms as one of the games of the round.

Top Performers: 2021 AFLW U19s Championships – Thursday, April 15

THE AFL Women’s Under 19s Championships concluded for three sides yesterday, as Western Australia, South Australia and the Allies all completed their final matches, while Vic Metro will head to Queensland on May 29 in its final match of the carnival. We cast our eyes over the two games in challenging conditions at Trevor Barker Oval and noted down some of the top performers. The notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA vs. VIC METRO

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Amy Franklin

Chopped and changed from defence, to forward line, to defence, and back to forward line, Franklin didn’t let the inconsistency in position effect her game, continuing to be an imposing figure up either end, with her athleticism a big weapon. Her speed when caught behind to make up ground and spoil the mark was really impressive in the backline, this did not happen too often however as her positioning was really good, making it herd for Metro to get marks inside 50. Up forward she had a lot of attention on her, but was unmatchable, even for smaller opponents, when the ball hit the ground, outrunning anyone that challenged her, even scoring an impressive goal off the ground on the run in the final quarter.

#4 Lauren Wakfer

After an impressive performance against the Allies in the ruck, Wakfer assumed the number one ruck mantle for the clash against Metro, coming up against a much taller Tahlia Gillard, Wakfer set the tone early winning the first hitout to put the ball in front of her teammates. This continued early on in the game, with Wakfer able to get front position when initiating contact and put the ball close to her feet, where she let teammates win it and put a shepherd in to protect them. Also looked good up forward, taking some nice marks on the lead and then putting it in front of teammates to create scoring shots. 

#7 Ella Roberts

Just dominant throughout the game, playing in the forward line and spending a little bit of time in the midfield, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was one of her in every section of the ground. Her work rate up and down the ground was insane, getting herself involved in play in her defensive 50, winning the ball and sending it out long to a free teammate, without fail, to get WA moving forward, or being that link-up option herself pushing up onto the wing and connecting well with her defenders to mark high up the ground. That work rate extends to her defensive efforts inside 50, with a highlight in the first quarter being her tackling a metro o opponent, having the ball spill out to another Metro player, where she then smothered that player’s kick with a dive. After missing out on a goal against the Allies, she got herself on the scoreboard twice, being the only multiple goal kicker, with her first coming from a contested mark and about 40 meters out in the second quarter, and her second being a similar setup in the last to put WA within a goal with just 3 minutes to go. Very deservedly got the WA MVP for the championships, an accolade that she will have the opportunity to retain at the championships next year. 

#8 Ashleigh Reidy

Ferocious pressure and tackling in the forward half of the ground, where her athleticism, particularly her speed and agility, helped her close down on opponents with intensity, following up with smart ball use to teammates. 

#11 Aisha Wright

Another electric forward half player for WA, Wright has all the makings to be a special player at the next level, with her speed and agility being two exciting aspects of her game to watch. Her work rate when the ball is there to be won is immense, often seen pushing up the ground, and winning a loose ball to then deliver inside 50, putting it in front of teammates to run onto.

#18 Dana East

Moved well through traffic in the midfield, finding ways to get on to the end of the ruck taps and then deliver the ball forward with well weighted kicks, or out to runners, with her quick and clean hands in close and under pressure really impressive, especially in the dying stages of the game where it was on the line, she was also a strong tackling presence in close through the midfield, stopping a few promising Metro clearance attempts. Set herself up well on the outside of the forward 50 and took some opportune marks to send it back in quickly.

#20 Emily Bennett

Found herself lining up more in the backline than midfield and was a really strong presence for WA, with her push from the backline on loose balls being really strong, where she would win it and deliver it well to a teammate, usually on the inside. She bobbed up at vital moments, with one particular time being a chest mark on the goal line to stop a certain Metro goal.

#25 Chloe Reilly

Reilly cracked in hard all day, even though she was thrown around positionally, she was not allowing that to impact her performance across the four quarters. Won a lot of the inside ball and followed up with long kicks forward, to the advantage of her forwards or to spots that WA players were at, showing her understanding for the WA structure. 

#27 Makaela Tuhakaraina

Utilised that blistering pace in the forward half to create a lot of opportunities and exciting moments, with one of those being a goal, and WA’s first, where she ran onto a long kick over the top of a pack, turned on the jets, took a bounce and put it through. Something that was really impressive to see in her game was how good she was at holding the ball up to draw in opponents, waiting until the right time to handball off to a teammate that had less pressure because of her work drawing those opponents in.

 #28 Courtney Rowley

Genuinely feels like there is nothing she does not do well, coming head-to-head with two of the best inside ball winners in the Champs, despite being newer to the inside role Rowley did not back down, taking it right up to her opponents to win a lot of ball and then handball to more outside teammates on the run. When she got on the outside herself, her usual speed was on show, happy to take on opponents and then deliver a well weighted kick forward, or a handball to a teammate further up the ground. Worked hard defensively as well, often going into the backline and applying pressure or winning the ball and getting it out.

VIC METRO:

By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Charlotte Ryan

Stationed almost exclusively on the wing, Ryan played one of her best games to date. The Sandringham Dragons product was busy all day, particularly in the early stages where she found a heap of ball and tried to drive Metro forward. She hit a couple of targets going inside attacking 50 by foot and won key ground balls on the outer, keeping her side in the contest. Overall, a really solid display to build on.

#4 Emelia Yassir

The diminutive ball winner played a strong role in Metro’s midfield rotation and enjoyed plenty of minutes around the action. Among a familiar centre bounce combination with a couple of Calder Cannons teammates, Yassir found a good amount of ball at the coalface and used it craftily by hand. One of the more pleasing aspects of her play was her work rate and repeat tackle efforts, which helped set the tone as the classy Metro movers went to work going forward.

#5 Amanda Ling

Another of the small ball winners in Metro’s engine room, Ling’s outstanding work rate and ability to get to repeat contests came to the fore on Thursday. She even managed to get on the scoreboard with a goal in the second term, finishing nicely from about 15 metres out to thwart Western Australia’s momentum. She was one to do all the tough stuff and dig in at ground level, showing clean hands and quick reflexes to flick out handballs to her runners. Add six tackles to the mix, and it was a relatively complete game from the midfielder.

#9 Maeve Chaplin

Once again reverting back to her defensive duties, Chaplin was a cool head in the back half and showcased her best traits. She displayed great composure on the ball, a neat point of difference in the fast-paced contest, especially in tough areas to work out of. She was not afraid to baulk an opponent to find more space before delivering neat kicks, with her efficiency quite high on the day. Chaplin’s positioning was also sound, as she read the play well to intercept, and also marked an Ella Roberts snap in the goalsquare, relieving pressure on the last line.

#12 Georgie Prespakis

Unsurprisingly Metro’s leading ball winner once again, it is remarkable the consistency Prespakis has been able to produce at such a high level. As a permanent midfield figure, the pick one contender was a class above at the contest, able to dig in to win her own ball despite heavy opposition attention at ground level. With clean hands, she would extract, slide out of tackles and flick out cleanly instead of blazing away long by foot, which was a nice adjustment for some previous form. She lifted a touch in the third term to help Metro break away, but was just as important throughout the contest. A couple of goals could have been the cherry on top of her figures on the day, but Prespakis was just unable to find the big sticks with two behinds.

#13 Eliza James

A key figure in Metro’s forwardline, the usual midfielder showed nice signs of adjustment to her relatively new representative role. She used her strength in one-on-one situations to compete both aerially and at ground level, while also presenting well as a viable target. She was particularly lively to start, but could not quite convert a couple of set shots inside 50, while a snap fell short. She would have a couple more shots but failed to register major scores in the second and third terms, and began to look more lively again in the fourth. Having finished with four behinds from about a half-dozen attempts, it was a day of ‘almosts’ for James, but her work to create such opportunities was notable.

#15 Stella Reid

Having won the ball at a terrific rate all year, Reid did so again and was impactful going forward from her familiar wing position. One of the many terrific Oakleigh Chargers prospects this year, she worked up and down the ground to accumulate and get her side going on the front foot. Reid again gained good meterage with her run and finished with classy use on her favoured left side, often proving a chain in Metro’s movement down the line.

#16 Brooke Vickers

The half-back/winger better known as ‘Chook’, Vickers rotated between the two roles and contributed some handy touches throughout the day. Starting in defence, she was able to provide her usual run on the rebound got into dangerous positions up to the front half of the ground. In her rotation onto the wing, Vickers continued to build a wall behind Metro’s forward 50 and was noticeable when the ball was loose in space, where she would often be first to it to mop up cleanly.

#18 Charlie Rowbottom

Metro’s skipper led from the front with an ominous display from midfield, constantly bustling her way forward with unstoppable straight-line strength. The Oakleigh Chargers product notched four clearances and eight inside 50s, indicative of her style of play. She was able to put her side on the front foot with irresistible burst from congestion, pushing aside would-be tacklers and often disposing of the ball with opponents still hanging off her. Rowbottom’s overhead marking was also on display, impacting around the ground with a couple of trademark contested clunks.

#24 Sofia Hurley

Coming into the Under 19 lineup after a dazzling 17s display, Hurley was able to bring some of her key strengths to the fore. She rotated through a supremely talented midfield and held her own, winning the ball at a good rate and constantly using her turn of speed to break away from congestion. Her ability to work into space within a flash was handy for Metro on the attack, and she made a couple of dangerous runs towards the forward 50, but could not quite find the end product.

#27 Montana Ham

One of the prime prospects in next year’s draft crop, Ham was not afforded the midfield minutes she enjoyed last time out, but still looked lively up forward. The Western Jets standout used her strong frame to rip the ball free inside 50 and have a say both in the air and at ground level – despite only clunking one mark. She ended the day with three behinds, but handed off to Georgia Campbell for a goal assist in term three and looked hard to beat in contested situations.

#28 Georgia Campbell

Having come to prominence this year as Eastern’s primary ruck, Campbell has adjusted well to playing more permanently up forward for Vic Metro. She started inside attacking 50 and again showed her willingness to compete at ground level, before rotating into the ruck in term two. She would pop up again in the third term with a nice goal on the fly, and really rose with her aerial work in the last quarter. Her clean hands were terrific in those marking situations, complimenting her athleticism well.

ALLIES vs. SOUTH AUSTRALIA

ALLIES:

By: Declan Reeve

#4 Cynthia Hamilton

Followed up her game against WA with another superb performance in the engine room, earning herself the Allies MVP medal for the Championships. Her grunt and pure aggression at the football was vital for the Allies, winning the contested ball and bombing it long for the Allies forwards to quickly take advantage of. Her defensive work, especially tackling, was phenomenal throughout the contest, with that previously mentioned aggression and relentlessness earning her plenty of free kicks for catching opponents holding the ball, one of which getting her a goal in the first quarter.

#7 Jess Doyle

The Sydney Swans Academy captain and AFLW Academy member showed good marking prowess throughout the contest, finding a way in front of her opponent often to take it cleanly on the chest or out in front. Although Doyle did not end up getting herself on the goal scorers list for the game, she did plenty to attempt to set up her teammates, selflessly looking to involve them in the game in any way she could. When in open play with ball in hand, she oozes class, with an incredible ability to get around opponents or stand up in tackles to deliver a handball to an outside runner, when she herself gets free, her left foot will more often than not find a teammate on the lead.

#11 Perri King

Another AFLW Academy member in the Allies team for the game, King started like a bull out the gates, with tackling pressure and intensity a theme of her game from the get go, amassing a massive 15 tackles for the game. There is no questioning her defensive workrate even from the midfield. It was not just defensive pressure however, she won herself plenty of the ball, generally following up with a long kick to the Allies advantage in the tight contest.

#15 J’Noemi Anderson

Whilst not racking up a whole heap of the ball, Anderson had some really good passages of play where she influenced the contest heavily. Her marking was good when the ball was in her area, taking a particularly good grab in the 4th quarter where she pushed past an opponent to take it on her chest and have a shot at goal. It was also impressive to see her desire to spread by disposing of the ball laterally or look for inside 45 options.

#16 Ella Maurer

Had a really good showing from more midfield minutes than she had gotten against WA, positioning well around stoppages to find herself winning the ball or getting a handball receive from a teammate pretty often, where she’d run her distance without taking any major risks and deliver the ball inside 50, setting up a couple of scoring opportunities that unfortunately went unrewarded.

#20 Ella Heads

Was involved in a lot of play in the defensive half of the game, but really came up big in the final quarter when the game was on the line and SA were surging forward, able to take one particular commanding mark over an SA forward, slow down the play and then hit short option to continue chewing up the clock. Earlier in the game, her attack on the ball and ability to create contests even when outnumbered was impressive, and played a big part in the mid-game deadlock.

#25 Isadora McLeay

Playing as the Allies deepest defender, there were plenty of times where she impacted contests or the ball within the goal square that kept the Allies in front for the game, able to position well in marking contests and intercept deep inside defensive 50, then use the ball cleanly coming out so SA didn’t have repeated opportunities.

 #30 Ally Morphett

Came up against fellow AFLW academy member Zoe Prowse in the ruck and probably broke even through the course of the game, with both having little periods of dominance in the ruck, it was an exciting battle to watch unfold, with Morphett being especially good when she could initiate contact in the ruck to knock her opponent out of the contest and demand first position. There were a few times where she just ran straight through the contest to punch the ball long and then try to run onto it out of the centre, making her look very dangerous.

 SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Laitiah Huynh

Completing an impressive championships, Huynh came off half-forward, and after a quiet first term – mainly due to the ball being locked up the other end – she hit the ground running in the second term and was one of the better players in the final three quarters. She laid a great tackle early in the second term, and then showed off her cleanliness at ground level to pick it off the deck and dance through her opponents. She took a strong mark at speed in the third term, then had a one-touch play again at ground level on the wing, easily darting onto her right side before an opponent could get a hand on her. In the end, Huynh had a match-high five inside 50s, as well as the second most tackles on the ground (eight).

#4 Madison Lane

The standout small defender on the ground, Lane overcame a one-on-one loss in a marking contest to Cynthia Hamilton – who kicked a goal – to put in a steadfast effort and mop up time and time again in the back half. Symbolic of her team, after that first quarter, she was able to compose herself and not only find the ball, but get it out of danger moving it well down the ground. She recorded a match-high eight rebound 50s, which was three more than any other player on the ground. She attacked the ball well at ground level, tracked it and kept pushing hard to drive it down the field and hold up the Allies, restricting them to just six behinds after quarter time.

#6 Gypsy Schirmer

Really prominent early and showed clean hands in wet conditions, dropping back to help the defence as well. The AFL Women’s Academy member had a better game than against Vic Country on Monday, and was just that smooth-moving option on the outside. She used short chips or quick handballs to keep it moving, and whilst at times the pressure and conditions forced her into handballing, she was able to have a fairly consistent performance throughout the match and be one of the most prominent ball-winners on the ground.

#8 Charlotte Dolan

Back into the midfield after a stint up forward in her previous games, Dolan had an impact with her fierce tackling and contested ball-winning ability. Teaming up well with Zoe Venning on the inside, Dolan was able to win a number of clearances, particularly late, which were influential in crunch moments. It was her clean pickup and quick kick in the path of Lauren Young to kick a goal for South Australia to put them within six points late in the game. She did not mind having a scrap throughout the game with a couple of opponents, and certainly played her best game of the championships back in her more familiar midfield position, cracking in hard and having a go.

#10 Zoe Prowse

Was everywhere in the first half, particularly first term as she made her mark around the ground trying to wear down opposition fellow AFL Women’s Academy member, Ally Morphett. While Morphett got up over Prowse due to the 12cm height difference at throw-ups, Prowse was clever to avoid too many one-on-ones with the stronger Morphett, and instead use her high endurance base to cover the ground and work her opponent over. The Sturt ruck got worked over by the opposition with some fierce tackles, and even dropped behind the ball later in the game, but clearly took the chocolates in the ruck battle and was one of the more prominent ball-winners on the ground as well.

#11 Zoe Venning

Conditions that suited her and her inside game, Venning played the way you would expect with her hands good in close, and plenty of contested possessions and tackles, She kept attacking the ball hard and was one of the clear four-quarter performers for South Australia, doing well on the inside and then working hard on the outside. In the fourth term, she won a 50m penalty for being slung to the ground and kicked a crucial set shot goal from the goalsquare with six minutes left to give her side a glimmer of hope late.

#15 Alana Lishmund

Played her best game of the championships after building each game, taking a strong mark at half-back and providing the run from the defensive half of the ground and along the outside. She spread across the ground and formed an option to use in transition and was able to win a number of touches through that, as well as being one of the more prominent tacklers on the ground.

#19 Alex Ballard

Played up forward this game, and had an ‘almost game’ though was still very impressive. She kicked the one goal right before the quarter time siren with a kick across her body, then had a couple of chances over the next two quarters, with a quick kick rushed, and another from a set shot that just drifted to the left. She was strong in the air and at ground level, taking some great marks and laying some fierce tackles, definitely improving on her game a few days earlier up the other end, and showing off her versatility and strength in this outing.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

The co-captain was a reliable source from half-back with her composure and strong decision making impressive. She did not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact, and she was able to settle the team down in defence, and keep the opposition from scoring, whilst providing some run in transition going forward. One of the side’s top rebounding forces on the day, and a crucial cog in the back six.

#30 Lauren Young

There comes a point where you run out of superlatives to describe a performance, and Young had done that by the third quarter, let alone almost dragging her team across the line in the final term. To finish with 37 disposals at this level is unheard of, but to do it as a 15-year-old who had to get special permission, is absolutely remarkable. Best on ground by a long way despite being on the field with so many quality players, Young took an array of strong intercept marks, was crucial in not only rebounding the ball out of the back 50, but getting it forward in transition and being a leading option. Her coverage of the ground is elite, and her hands overhead and clearance ability unbelievable. She looked like the one to stand up when required, and did so with a crunch goal in the final term with five minutes remaining, and almost took another grab with about three or four opponents spoiling her. Impressively, it was not just her offensive output that shone, but her defensive aspects as well, and it was hard to fault that kind of performance in any way, shape or form.

2021 VFLW Round 7 preview: Dogs and Darebin eye off second win in bottom two clash

A BOTTOM two clash between Western Bulldogs and Darebin Falcons will see the winner escape the bottom of the table, whilst the Southern Saints and Collingwood clash for a second time and are set to have a beauty of a contest.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, April 17 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Despite Collingwood joining the rest of the Victorian-based AFL Women’s teams in being eliminated from the finals series, the Magpies have resisted massive changes to the state league side, with Bella Smith and Joanna Lin among those included in the forward half, with other existing AFL Women’s players including Maddie Shevlin, Abbey Green, Amelia Velardo, Imogen Purcell and Abbi Moloney in the team. They currently sit undefeated at the top of the table, with a tough clash down at Trevor Barker Beach Oval against the Southern Saints. Dandenong Stingrays tall Zoe Hill is set to make her debut for the side, alongside the likes of other teenagers in Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis who have established themselves in the side. Molly McDonald is a huge inclusion for the Saints at half-back to create some run, and with Tara Bohanna and Gabriella De Angelis up forward, the home team certainly has the capacity to inflict the Magpies’ first loss of the season. Eastern Ranges youngster Olivia Meagher is among the ones to watch in the black and white, as the Magpies eye off making it seven straight wins.

ESSENDON vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

One of the teams looking to keep in touch with the top two sides is Essendon, after the Bombers came from behind to defeat Hawthorn last week at Box Hill. They managed to do it without star midfielder Georgia Nanscawen who succumbed to injury early in the match, and they will need to do it again without her, relying on the likes of Alana Barba, Courtney Ugle and Eloise Ashley-Cooper in the midfield. Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell returns to the red and black in a five-day turnaround from a successful outing for Vic Country, with Calder Cannons duo Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell remaining in the side. Williamstown stand between Essendon and the Bombers’ fifth win, with the Seagulls not far off the top six despite having just the two wins from six games. The midfield trio of Ashlea Melnikas, Megan Williamson and Aimee Whelan will be hard to beat, with Scarlett Dunnell up forward and Erin Meade in defence among the others to keep an eye out for in the blue and gold. Even without Nanscawen, Essendon will be favoured to get up here at home, but the Seagulls will give them a run for their money.

HAWTHORN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Speaking of Hawthorn at Box Hill, the brown and gold are back again, this time hosting a Casey Demons side looking to bounce back having lost their past two games to the Magpies and Cats. The home team was able to include some AFL Women’s talent last week with the entire half-back line having that experience in Georgia Bevan, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch. However perhaps the most interesting inclusion is former Magpie Kristy Stratton who has been named on the bench after playing for the undefeated Pies throughout the season. Much like Luke and von Bertouch, she has moved to the Bec Goddard-coached Hawks. Up the other end, Meg Hutchins has been a terrific leader with some youngsters inside 50, such as Eastern Ranges’ co-captain Eloise Chaston who kicked the only goal for her side last week. Matilda Hardy is back into the team with Isabelle Khoury and Ruby O’Dwyer some Ranges to hold their places, while Northern Territory talent Dominique Carbone is another one to watch for the home team. For the Demons, Maggie Caris, Megan Fitzsimon, Mietta Kendall and Isabella Simmons are among the future of the red and blue having been picked up in last year’s draft, whilst Emma Humphries‘ experience is crucial, much like defender Alison Brown in the back 50. Casey should be too strong, but the Hawks will give it a red hot crack at home.

GEELONG vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, April 18 @ 11:30am
Queens Park

Some Vic Country youngsters will return for the Cats as they field their strongest side to-date in the Round 7 encounter against North Melbourne. The Cats will be keen to keep in touch with the top two, and should do so against a Kangaroos side that is 2-4 and coming off a loss to the previously winless Darebin Falcons. Annie Lee and Renee Tierney return to the Cats’ VFL Women’s side after playing on Monday, with the side well stacked with AFL Women’s talent. Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Sophie Van De Heuvel in the midfield is the future AFL Women’s midfield, whilst Georgia Clarke, Olivia Barber and Stephanie Williams in attack makes the Cats a potent team when in transition. The Kangaroos remain without a great deal of AFL Women’s talent, instead focusing on the development aspect of the side with Amy Smith and Brooke Brown a couple of listed players in attack, while Sarah Skinner is always a threat inside 50. Molly Eastman and Tarni Nestor will try and contain the Cats’ forward line, while Katelyn Cox will have a great battle with Moloney and Gardiner throughout the day. Geelong should take the match fairly comfortably being at home with a pretty impressive outfit.

DAREBIN vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, April 18 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

A potential match of the round at the other end of the ladder is the one between Darebin Falcons and Western Bulldogs, with both sides sitting at 1-5 for the season. A loss here will really hurt finals hopes, whilst a win keeps the victor in the hunt if they can build momentum in the second half of the season. Coming off a four-goal haul to help her side over the line, Stephanie Simpson will be looking for much of the same for the Falcons. It will be a tough ask against the strongest looking Bulldogs defence all year, with AFL Women’s talents, Eleanor Brown and Isabella Grant, the consistent rock in Simone Ruedin, speedy teenager Brooke Hards and natural ball-winner Katelyn Betts, both of the latter whom have moved into new roles of late. Up the other end, Nell Morris-Dalton has returned to the fold, with Gemma Lagioia and Amelia van Oosterwijck also there, and Isabelle Pritchard rounding out the AFL Women’s contingent. For the Falcons, ex-Bulldog Nicole Callinan was impressive in her first game back and will be a key player in the defence alongside consistent defender Gena Lawson-Tavan. Up the other end, Alyssa Mifsud kicked three goals a couple of rounds back, so between her and Simpson, they have the potential to put some high scores on the board, while Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is another youngster in the side. The Western Bulldogs side is arguably the strongest of the year and should take care of Darebin, but the Dogs cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 18 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Port Melbourne will look to continue its winning streak up against Carlton at ETU Stadium, with Cleo Saxon-Jones named at full-back this week. Up the opposite end is Sabrina Frederick who slotted two goals on debut against Western Bulldogs last week, and will look to provide the smalls of NAB League-listed talents Kate Adams and Taylah Morton in there, whilst Mel Kuys through the midfield is a crucial player. Ex-Carlton talent Bridie Kennedy is back into the side to take on her former team, while Pip Peschke and Courteney Bromage are other key midfielders to watch. Carlton has got a solid contingent of AFL Women’s talent in the team, with Serena Gibbs, Courtney Jones and Winnie Laing all named inside 50, while Charlotte Hammans and Maddy Guerin are up the other end. Akayla Peterson has been named in the back pocket in the opposite side to Ally Bild in a strong last line, while over-age talent Amber Micallef and ex-Northern Knights speedster Marnie Jarvis are also in the side, named on the bench. Port Melbourne should have too much about them at home, but the Borough will be wary of a Blues outfit wanting to lift their efforts from last round when they went goalless against the Magpies at Victoria Park.

State Leagues Preview: Action continues as Round 3 kicks off

WITH football season in full flight as teams hit the deck for Round 3, competitions across Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and South Australia prepare for a big weekend of action. Meanwhile, the revamped Victorian Football League (VFL) begins.

South Australia

The round will kick off on Friday night, as Norwood attempt to keep their undefeated streak going against a North Adelaide side searching for its first win. Fresh off a convincing 19-point win against Sturt, Norwood will only find themselves boosted by the return of star Richard Douglas, who missed the Round 2 clash for personal reasons. Keep an eye on experienced midfielder Matthew Nunn as he will look to continue his blistering start to the year, averaging 31 disposals and nine tackles over his first two games. North Adelaide have flagged a potential debutant, naming Kaine Mercovich on the extended bench. The former Port Fairy midfielder has been highly touted since making the move to the Roosters, and with an injury to Frank Szekely, crisis creates opportunity.

Another undefeated side in South Adelaide will be clashing with Port Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday. After smashing the Crows in Round 1 and taking care of North Adelaide last week, the Panthers are looking hard to stop, but the Power have proved themselves capable. Ex-Richmond Tiger Fraser Turner has once again been named on the extended bench for a debut. The 20-year-old Tasmanian utility was named in the same position last week but couldn’t crack into the side. A team with hot form, don’t be surprised if the Panthers go in unchanged. Port will regain midfield duo Sam Powell-Pepper and Tom Rockliff, who returns from concussion. Talented ruck Sam Hayes will be one to watch, as he continues to press for selection at higher level.

With both sides looking for their first win of the year, expect a tense clash between Sturt and West Adelaide on Saturday afternoon. Tasmanian talent Jared Dakin and highly touted ruckman Hamish Allan have been named as possible debutants for Sturt. The 205cm Allan has been named in the ruck which is a promising sign for the 20-year-old, while Dakin is found on the interchange. West Adelaide’s chances will be boosted by the return of star midfielder Kaine Stevens, who returns from injury to play his first game of the season. Young gun Bailey Chamberlain has also been named as a potential inclusion.

Central District will attempt to prevent Glenelg from starting the season 3-0 in this round’s clash. Central could unleash a number of debutants, with local talent Rhys Cannizzaro and mature ager Billy Iles both named on the extended bench. Last week’s inclusions Brett Kennedy and Ben Nason were named in the reserves. For Glenelg, a young trio of Will Chandler (19-years-old), Brady Searle (19) and Brodie Newman (20) have been named on the extended bench, but expect Glenelg to go in unchanged.

With both teams sitting on 1-1 after two rounds, the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and the Adelaide Crows will both be desperate to get a win and move up the ladder. A former Tiger and Crow at AFL level, goalsneak Tyson Stengle has been named for the Eagles for the first time since he was drafted. He will replace Troy Menzel who misses with concussion. Pick 25 in last year’s AFL draft, Brayden Cook will debut for Adelaide in this week’s match against the Eagles. The medium forward/wingman has overcome his shoulder issues and should put on a show in his SANFL debut.

 

Tasmania

Glenorchy will be looking to bounce back after a defeat at the hands of Clarence, and Lauderdale will be the perfect target. Lauderdale were taken down by the Tigers last weekend and will be looking to recover with a win as well, so some good footy is on the cards. Glenorchy welcome back Daniel Joseph into the lineup, as the backman replaces Bayley Bester. Fresh off a five goal haul, expect Ben Kamaric to receive some close attention from the opposition. Lauderdale will be without star recruit Allen Christensen who tore his hamstring in last week’s match. Lincoln Arnold has been named to replace him, fresh off a best afield performance in the development league last week.

Clarence return to Blundstone Arena for the first time since 2019 to take on last year’s runners up North Launceston. The ground had shut its doors for the entirety of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the Roos forced to host their games at Richmond. Clarence have made two changes, with defender James Holmes and Jason Bailey replacing Keegan Wylie and the injured Colin Garland. Dangerous forward Oliver Preshaw should again cause opposition defenders headaches. North Launceston will be without utility Thomas Donnelly who has been selected to play in North Melbourne’s VFL side this weekend but expect a close game regardless with both teams stacked with talent.

The best match of the round might be saved until last, as last year’s premiers Launceston host the currently undefeated Tigers at Windsor Park. Launceston will be refreshed after having the bye in Round 2, while the Tigers will be eager to ride their momentum forward and take home a third consecutive win. Both sides will head into the clash undefeated, with coaches satisfied with their talent all over the ground. Jake Hinds and Miller Hodge helped the Blues gain midfield dominance in the first round, while Dylan Riley is expected to hurt the opposition once again on the scoreboard. But can the Blues stop Tigers gun Elijah Reardon? Named on the half back flank, Reardon has started the season in blistering form and will be hard to contain.

 

Western Australia

The Easts go to war as East Fremantle and East Perth clash at New Choice Homes Park for Round 3. East Fremantle fell to the in-form Subiaco last weekend, and East Perth were embarrassed, losing to Peel Thunder by 105 points. Both teams are desperate for a bounce-back of some sort and it will come for one side on Saturday afternoon. East Fremantle could go in unchanged, with all four ins named on the extended interchange. Keep an eye on Luke Strnadica, the Sharks ruckman had an unbelievable match last week, finishing with 23 disposals and 48 hitouts despite the loss. East Perth have also named their inclusions on the extended bench, but with six ins to replace two outs, expect at least two changes. Jackson Ramsey will miss this week’s matchup after gathering 28 disposals last week, as will Corey Watts.

Claremont are sitting pretty in second place at 2-0 and will host Perth this weekend as they continue the hunt for top of the ladder. Perth’s Round 1 win was soon forgotten as they were smashed by Swan Districts the following week, and they face a tough task against Claremont on Saturday. Following 27 disposals in the reserves last weekend, teenager Anthony Davis slots straight into the lineup at centre half-forward for Claremont, replacing Oliver Eastland. Anton Hamp is the only other out for Claremont, as the remaining ins are yet to be determined. Ruckman Christian Eyres returns for Perth, as the magnets are moved following the disappointing loss.

South Fremantle and Peel Thunder will do battle, with only one side able to emerge with their second win of the year. Inaccuracy cost South Fremantle last round, as they were defeated by Claremont, while Peel Thunder are on a high following their 105-point demolition of East Perth. Ruckman Hamish Free is the only confirmed change for East Fremantle, replacing the massive gap left by Brock Higgins, who has been confirmed to miss. Jason Maskos will join him on the sidelines. Key forward Mason Shaw will look to back up his five-goal effort last weekend. At the time of publication, Peel Thunder had not listed its side.

West Coast have started the season 0-2 and will be desperate to improve that record against a Swan Districts side fresh off a 50-point victory against Perth. West Coast have a huge seven confirmed ins to try and achieve this goal. AFL regulars Mark Hutchings and Brendon Ah Chee are sure to contribute, but they lose plenty of talent too – the two biggest being Zac Langdon and Alex Witherden, who have earned an AFL recall. Swan Districts’ high profile recruit Lewis Jetta will miss this weekend’s clash, as will Jesse Turner, who had 27 disposals last round. Sam Fisher had 41 disposals last weekend and is sure to find plenty of the ball again.

West Perth have arguably the toughest task in the competition this week, as they find themselves tasked with slowing down the Subiaco juggernaut that is currently smashing through teams. Subiaco sit on top of the ladder with a massive 28 per cent leg up on second place. West Perth could be the team to bring them back down to earth, riding the momentum of last week’s 78-point win against West Coast. They may enter this weekend’s huge clash with no changes, as none have been confirmed yet. Tyler Keitel’s six goal game last weekend has seen him named at full forward, while Aaron Black has been named on the wing, fresh off a 43-disposal outing. For Subiaco, Jordan Lockyer returns to line up at centre half back, having missed last week’s game. Apart from that, expect a relatively unchanged Subiaco side.

 

Queensland

Noosa will resume their season following the bye last weekend, while Palm Beach Currumbin will be keen to improve on last week’s disappointing loss to Morningside. Named his side’s best in last week’s loss, the Lions’ Corey Joyce has been once again named on ball and will be one to watch this week. The same can be said for Ben Mcinneny, who performed admirably last week. For Noosa, forward Aaron Wilson will be hoping to replicate his bag of four goals in Round 1, while Cory Lobb, who was named best afield for Noosa in their first match, will be looking to marshal his fellow backmen.

Redland-Victoria Point began their season in style with a 58-point win, while Labrador could not keep up with Broadbeach, and were eventually defeated by 32 points. Labrador have plenty of talent such as Andy Hollis and Thomas Reeves, so don’t count them out yet. Redland-Victoria Point are in form though, and with stars such as ruckman Matthew Waters and Joshua Brown, it will be a hard task to slow them down.

Maroochydore’s 100-point win over Wilston Grange has found them on top of the ladder heading into this round. It was a clinical display, dominating their opponents all over the ground. This round, they take on Mt Gravatt, who were able to do just enough to take down Sherwood Districts and record their first win of the year. Will they be able to contain Mitchell Scholard, who kicked an astonishing 11 goals last round? Mt Gravatt ruckman Craig Malone will be looking to produce another best afield performance like his previous outing.

Broadbeach were able to take care of business in last round’s action, defeating Labrador by 32 points to grab their first win. Their opponents for this week, Morningside, stormed home against Palm Beach Currumbin to win by 43 points. Both sides will be eager to prove themselves and start the season 2-0. Nick Colenso will bring the scoreboard presence for Broadbeach after a five-goal game last round, while Sam Godfrey will be hoping for plenty of space out on the wing to run and carry. For Mornington, Jordan Moncrieff kicked five goals in last week’s win and will be looking to do something similar against Broadbeach.

Surfers Paradise fell to a rampant Redland-Victoria Point last round, despite putting up 96 points themselves. They will host Sherwood Districts this Saturday, who will also be looking to bounce back after failing to withstand a Mt Gravatt second half surge. Sherwood will be well led in the midfield by Luca Winton, who was everywhere last weekend, and will have plenty of options up forward in Kobe Tozer and Alexander Mitchell. Surfers Paradise won’t be short of talent themselves, with Jack Prestegar providing the dash off half back and Jack Yelland fighting for the ball in the middle.

 

Victoria

The revamped Victorian Football League (VFL) kicks off on the weekend, with plenty on the line as players put their best foot forward and vie for a senior list position. With the league now encompassing all clubs across the east coast of Australia, 22 teams will ply their trade this season across Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Friday sees Richmond host Sandringham in the season opener as two standalone clubs in Frankston and Coburg go head-to-head in the evening, with six matches played on Saturday including the first few cross-border encounters with Footscray and Gold Coast Suns, Aspley and Port Melbourne, and Brisbane Lions and Essendon taking the field. Three matches complete the opening round on Sunday, with a couple of Melbourne bigmen looking to prove they’ve shaken off injury concerns and are capable of stepping up to AFL duties.