Category: State Leagues

Anderson stars as Under 18s get job done over WAFL Women’s

WESTERN Australia’s brightest young stars put on a show and made the most of their opportunities to come away with a 17-point win over the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s All-Stars side in terrible conditions. The Under 18s All-Stars held up well defensively considering the WAFL Women’s side maintained large portions of forward half possession but could not capitalise on the scoreboard with just one goal from eight scoring shots. It was the work of over-age talent Nyra Anderson who was a clear best on ground, starring for the winners and showing her strength and clean hands at ground level.

Along with Anderson, middle-ager Courtney Rowley had a massive first half, and another young talent in Jaide Britton had a huge second half, to assist Anderson and help the teenage side get over the line. For the WAFL Women’s team, Tessa Doumanis was lively up forward and should have had a few more than her one major, as well as had a hand in a few other scoring chances. Along with Doumanis, Sarah Garstone tried hard out of defence, while Tiah Haynes and Chloe Wrigley were also prominent.

Rowley had a huge first term for the Under 18s, seemingly everywhere on the ground and winning it with ease. Despite her performance in the back half and along the wing, it was the All-Stars who looked dangerous early with back-to-back behinds after a rushed behind and missed set shot from Deni Broadhurst had them with the early lead. Liusaidh Gilchrist had a great spoil at half-back as the Under 18s were attacking through the likes of Amy Franklin and Rosie Walsh, but it would be a nice contested mark from Chloe Reilly that earned the first set shot on goal.

Her set shot looked good in the driving rain, but cannoned into the post. It changed the momentum of the game however, as Shakira Pickett and Anderson were busy around the stoppages. Garstone was doing her best under pressure but the wall at half-forward was set up for the Under 18s to control forward half possession. After not much movement on the scoreboard, it took a nice snap from Emily Bennett out of nothing with an open goalsquare to seize the moment and hand her side the quarter time lead.

The second term was almost a counter contrast early after it took 13 minutes for the first goal in the opening quarter. This time, it was some magic out of the middle from Mikayla Morrison leading to a nice Poppy Stockwell mark not long after who made sure of her set shot from 30m out straight in front. It was scrappy, contested footy considering the conditions, but Lou Knitter Medallist, Wrigley was working hard on the inside. Breanne Spencer was a rock in defence with a number of intercept marks, and despite Rowley having a massive game at half-back, it would be the All-Stars who responded on the scoreboard.

Doumas won the ball nine and a half minutes into the term, sidestepped an opponent and was helped via a Zoe Gillard shepherd to put one home off her slick left boot. The WAFL Women’s were back within a kick at half-time with Maggie MacLachlan and Brianna Hyde both having some great defensive moments to keep the opposition at bay considering the possession dominance in that term.

The third term started like the second ended, with the WAFL Women’s team having plenty of chances attacking. Sara Wielstra and Jayme Harkin combined for a quick snap on goal and then Wrigley had one two, but both failed to register a score. A costly 50m penalty handed Dana East plenty of meterage and the Under 18s’ first look forward, but the WAFL Women’s defence was again up to the task. Rowley looked to set Anderson a task in a one-against three contest, but the 19-year-old seemingly did well, bringing it to ground and then using her clean hands off the next stoppage.

Anderson was not only working into the game, she was having a huge say in it. A sharked ball by Grace Wilkie at half-forward saw her pump it inside 50 midway through the term to a one-on-one. In slippery conditions, Anderson kept her feet and just managed to get boot to ball for it to dribble home and extend the lead out to 10. MacLachlan nearly had a goal of her own with a quick snap which missed, but it was Anderson again who bobbed up with a great effort against two opponents at ground level to collect and calmly spin, giving off the handball to the loose teammate in Lauren Quaife who kicked the easiest of goals for her side with two minutes on the clock.

The deficit could have been even greater for the WAFL Women’s side had it not been for Garstone’s intercepting in defence, with the Fremantle delistee certainly putting her hand up to be reconsidered. With a 17-point deficit to their name, the WAFL Women’s team needed something special in the last term, but much like the second term, it was all the Under 18s early. Britton was having a purple patch with a number of good touches, and Franklin pushed forward again had a snap but just missed to the right. Another rushed behind followed and it was the Under 18s peppering the goals now with consecutive behinds.

In the nine-and-a-half-minute mark of the final term, Reilly tried something special off the outside of the boot in the forward pocket, but was touched off the boot before it sailed home. It was her side’s fourth consecutive behind, but they were all but home and hosed. Despite this, the WAFL Women’s side rallied in the last seven minutes to have multiple scoring opportunities that had they gone through, could have seen them steal the win. Unfortunately despite Doumanis having a couple of set shots, and handing a couple more off, all four set shot chances either fell short or missed marginally.

In the end, the Under 18s made more of their goal scoring chances and were the only side to kick multiple goals in a term. Despite neither team kicking a major in the final term, it was tense and hard fought with both sides giving it a red hot crack in challenging conditions. With the AFL Women’s Draft Combine coming up, those players invited will be keen to put their best foot forward after another strong outing in what is their last of the season.

U18S ALL-STARS 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.6 (30)
WAFLW ALL-STARS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.7 (13)

GOALS: 

U18s: E. Bennett, P. Stockwell, N. Anderson, L. Quaife.
WAFLW: T. Doumanis.

ADC BEST:

U18s: N. Anderson, C. Rowley, J. Britton, E. Bennett, A. Franklin
WAFLW: T. Doumanis, S. Garstone, T. Haynes, C. Wrigley, J. Low

Picture: AFL Photos

Late blooming Buethke leans on dual-sport edge

IT was a move that took great courage.

Tahlita Buethke had played netball since she was six years old, but after some deliberation, made the transition to high-level football with South Adelaide. Despite a rollercoaster year for budding AFL Women’s draftees, the 18-year-old has not looked back.

“It took me a long time to actually have the balls to go out to South,” Buethke said. “When I started playing I always got so much joy out of the game. I definitely want to get somewhere in footy but still have lots of work to do yet.”

Having made her SANFLW debut for the Panthers in 2020 and played seven games, the athletic midfielder has in large part justified the faith shown in her as she entered the South Australian junior talent pathway. Described by SA talent manager Robbie Neill as having a “big future”, Buethke’s rate of development has been steep.

She says the elite pathway has aided her growth despite a pandemic-effected season, combining well with the already-present sporting base which has seen her transition to the level seamlessly. It has her dreaming big.

“The South Adelaide Under 17s program helped ready me for the seniors,” she said. “They have developed me so much within this short season due to Covid-19. “The South Australian pathway, with both of them helping, worked so well and this year I have learnt so much about the sport.

“My speed is very helpful and with me playing netball, my marking is pretty good. (I am still) needing to improve on knowing when to take the game on… (but) I like a fast game.”

“Having the opportunity to play for a team like South (was a big achievement), in the next coming years I’d like to to try get drafted.”

Buethke sees the wing as her best position at senior level, and an impactful showing during this month’s AFLW Under 18 All-Stars showcase undeniably boosted her stocks. The raw prospect supports the Adelaide Crows’ women’s side, but says if given the chance, she “would definitely move away” to play top flight football interstate. With a part-time job as a painter in tow, Buethke is also kept reasonably busy during the week – often enjoying a “quick nap” before scooting off to training.

The South Australian’s next major point of call will hopefully be at the AFL Women’s National Draft on October 6.

Featured Image: South Australian All-Star Tahlita Buethke gets a kick away | Credit: Daniel Kalisz/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Scouting Notes: NT All-Stars – Team Rioli vs. Team McLean

TEAM Rioli defeated Team McLean 11.13 (79) to 7.17 (59) in Friday night’s Northern Territory (NT) Under 18 All-Stars showcase at TIO Stadium. Draft Central scout, Ed Pascoe had eyes on the exiting spectacle, on hand to deliver notes on the Top End’s brightest prospects.

Team Rioli:

#5 Jack Peris

The talented son of former Olympian Nova Peris started the game in fine fashion, with a nice run and handball to then get the ball back in the chain and finish it with a nice running goal. Jack Peris made the wing his own, using it to run hard both ways. He was not afraid to tackle either, and would attack cleanly and quickly with ball in hand. He had a very good last quarter which was highlighted by an unselfish bit of play, receiving a kick from Joel Jeffrey close to goal, but handpassing over to teammate Nathaniel Cooper for an easy conversion. The exciting St Kilda NGA prospect is not draft eligible until 2021, but looks a great talent to watch for in that draft.

#6 Nathaniel Cooper

Cooper was extremely busy on the half-forward flank as he sent the ball inside 50 numerous times and set up plenty of scoring chains with his composure and skill. Cooper was one of the smallest players out there but perhaps had the biggest impact with his ability to turn on a dime and keep his composure under a lot of pressure. He was rewarded for his numerous goal assists with a goal for himself in the last quarter, which came from an unselfish bit of play by teammate, Jack Peris. The Croker Island prospect certainly lit up the game and made a name for himself as a player to keep an eye on for the future.

#8 Alwyn Davey Jr

One of the youngest players on the ground the talented son of a gun really showed his skill and why he will be a highly sought after prospect in the 2022 draft. Davey played most of his time in the midfield where his clean hands and skills where on display, as he rarely missed a target and often put his teammates in a better position than himself. His most exciting bit of play came with a great chase down tackle in the second quarter which would have certainly given Essendon supporters flashbacks of his old man during his playing days with Essendon. Davey had a few chances to hit the scoreboard in the third quarter and could not quite capitalise, but he still showed plenty of forward craft – not just at ground level but with his marking overhead. He is a right-footer and more of a midfielder compared to his father and twin brother, and he will line up for the Oakleigh Chargers next year.

#9 Brodie Lake

Coming back to the NT after spending some time in South Australia with Central District, it was business as usual for Lake who got to show his trademark burst and running power for all four quarters, as he was firmly in the best players for Team Rioli. The main issue for Lake throughout the game was his kicking, as he did not have many problems finding the ball and looking good on the burst, but a fair few times he did not hit a target via foot. That side of his game did get better later in the contest, but what really impressed was his work-rate to push into defence and not only spoil, but quickly back up, win the ball, and go for his trademark dashes to it away from a dangerous position. Lake has plenty of elite traits and if he can tidy up his disposal he could be a real weapon at AFL level and looks likely to be pre-listed by Gold Coast.

>> Feature: Brodie Lake

#16 Ned Stevens

Forming a great partnership with Joel Jeffrey as a tall forward, Stevens started the game well by taking a nice contested mark, coming from behind his opponent then and slotting his first goal. Stevens also helped out in the ruck, using his leap and obvious basketball traits to win plenty of hit-outs and doing so cleanly. His clean hands both at ground level and above his head really stood out and made him a very difficult matchup. His third and final goal was his best, kicking a miracle goal from a tight angle in the third quarter which really showed off his talent. With great athletic traits, size and game sense, Stevens looks like one of NT’s best young prospects going into the 2021 draft.

#24 Joel Jeffrey

Perhaps NT’s finest young prospect for the 2020 draft, it was evident why he is so highly touted with a brilliant display up forward. Although not perfect, he was easily the most dangerous player on the ground and was near impossible to stop on the lead with his speed off the mark, thus providing a great target coming out of full forward. While he was not nailing every scoring opportunity, he remained dangerous and what really impressed was his ability to bring his teammates into the he game in the second half with some lovely pin point kicks. Jeffrey kicked three goals with two coming from lead up marks and one from a free kick. He had a great battle with another quality youngster in Tyrrell Lui. Jeffrey certainly showed off his talent with clean hands, good agility and vision and if he can nail more of his opportunities he could become a real force up forward at the next level.

>> AFL Draft Watch: Joel Jeffrey

Team McLean:

#10 Jesiah Minor

The talented left-footer from Papunya was Team McLean’s most dangerous forward all day, with his long and dangerous boot his weapon of choice which he used well to hit the scoreboard from all angles. Minor did well to lead and take his marks up the ground, not just close to goal where he was equally damaging. He would kick three goals and a fair few behinds, but his best goal came in the last quarter – marking 60m out and without hesitation, wheeling around onto his left and kicking a lovely long goal. It could have been an even bigger day for Minor if he had kicked straighter, but it was nice to see how quick he could get ball to boot in different situations to find an avenue to goal. He certainly looks like a prospect to keep an eye on.

#20 Tyrrell Lui

Lui had the toughest gig of any player on the ground and that was the task of stopping the highly talented Joel Jeffrey. He did the best he could do but some of the delivery to Jeffrey was hard to stop for even the best defenders and he could hold his head up on the consistent four-quarter effort he provided. Lui had a cool head in defence as he was rarely flustered, often picking the right option and executing well by hand and foot. He had some timely spoils and tackles deep in defence and he was certainly important to his side when the ball was coming in fast. The utility is a talented prospect and could yet find a spot on Gold Coasts list as part of its NT Zone.

Ponter claims impressive win in NT All-Stars match

DOMINIQUE Carbone celebrated her 19th birthday in style with an impressive performance that helped Team Ponter record a 28-point victory over Team Hewett in humid conditions for the Northern Territory AFL Women’s All-Star game on Friday night. The over-ager won plenty of the ball and was prolific throughout the four quarters, and clearly one of the best on ground. Top-age forward Ashanti Bush deserved that honour, looking ever dangerous, booting a goal and almost having a few more as the inaccurate Ponter dominated for most of the contest to record an inaccurate, but effective 5.11 (41) to 2.1 (13) win.

The age of talent on display was a real mix from mature-age players who have already tasted AFL Women’s football in Jasmyn Hewett – who captained the team named after her – to the 15-year-old Maria Rioli who certainly caught the eye as a future Richmond father-daughter selection. But it was the work of Bush, Carbone and the classy Janet Baird who caught the eye, as well as future stars Grace Whittaker and Annabel Kievet who are in the Under 16s and Under 15s respectively.

For Hewett, it was the work of middle-age talent Georgia Johnson alongside Morgan Johnston who provided good dash from the back half and through the midfield. Hewett did all she could with some contested ball-winning ability in each third of the ground. Along with the experienced AFL Women’s talent, Freda Puruntatameri showed why she earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation, kicking a second quarter goal and then going into defence and showing class.

Aside from the first half of the opening term where Team Hewett had a number of attacking players, it was predominantly Team Ponter, with a broken tackle by Katie Streader at half-forward helping lead to a Baird goal on the fun despite the best efforts of Hewett in defence. It was the only major of the term, with Kyanne Campbell kicking a behind for Hewett not long after, but missed a set shot, as did Hewett, who could have edged the margin closer than the seven points at quarter time.

Carbone was ever prolific and soon it was Kievet who added to the lead in the opening minute when she was awarded a free kick and an opposition player ran straight through the mark. On the back of a 50m penalty she made no mistake and put it straight through, and then Sarah Ingram made it two majors for the term. Johnston had a highlight passage of play five minutes in by dancing around not one, not two but three opponents and kicking forward, while Johnson continually mopped up in defence. Soon the hard work on defence resulted in a goal for Hewett as Puruntatameri intercepted a ball at half-forward, sold some candy and sidestepped an opponent to kick her side’s first major on the run.

Whittaker was really stepping up through the midfield with some great athleticism, with her and Kievet trying to break the game open. The experience of Hewett and former Western Bulldogs VFL Women’s captain Mickayla Ward was telling in the back half, stemming the flow and reducing the scoreboard impact for Ponter.

The game was all but put to bed early in the third with back-to-back goals to Team Ponter as Bush took a strong mark out in front, then after missing a target, ran hard forward, roved the pack and kicked it to the square where Molly Althouse did the rest on the line. After an assist, Bush went it alone, read the ball of the bounce perfectly inside 50, running goalside, took it cleanly and put it home. Another chance by the exciting top-ager just missed to the right in what could have been a huge performance from her. While Hewett was unable to score in the term, Ponter missed a number of opportunities after kicking 2.0 to start the term, then kicking 0.6 for the rest of it.

Nonetheless, Ponter was all but home with a 33-point lead at the final break. Baird’s class in patches was telling and with the work of Whittaker and Carbone still have an influence, Ponter was able to hold on despite just kicking the one behind in the final term. J’Noemi Anderson – sister of North Melbourne’s Jed – showed class with a clever spin and kick forward early in the last, but it was Campbell who kicked the easiest of goals off the back of great work from Kaitey Whittaker who got it goalside for her teammate.

Just one behind was scored in the last 10 minutes of the game, but the likes of Johnston and Ward in defence, and Hewett across the ground was important. Team Ponter had plenty of winners across the field, with Bella Clarke another one who had a couple of opportunities playing forward, unfortunately dropping a mark a split second before the siren and as she went to play on and snap for goal in the forward pocket, the siren sounded. In the end, Team Ponter had got up, 5.11 (41) to 2.1 (13) in a showcase of the Northern Territory’s best talent.

TEAM PONTER 1.2 | 3.4 | 5.10 | 5.11 (41)
TEAM HEWETT 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 (13)

GOALS:

Ponter: J. Baird, A. Kievet, S. Ingram, M. Althouse, A. Bush.
Hewett: F. Puruntatameri, K. Campbell.

ADC BEST:

Ponter: A. Bush, D. Carbone, J. Baird, G. Whittaker, A. Kievet
Hewett: M. Johnston, G. Johnson, J. Hewett, F. Puruntatameri, M. Ward

Picture credit: AFL Photos

AFLW U18s to Watch: Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Claremont midfielder Bella Lewis who despite standing at 186cm, has the ability to roam through the midfield as well as present up forward.

Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)

Height: 163cm
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Endurance, acceleration, defensive pressure, strength

2019 AFLW U18 Girls Championships: 3 games | 12.0 disposals | 1.3 marks | 4.3 tackles | 2.3 inside 50s | 1 goal

Lewis is a small midfielder who packs plenty of punch. A natural athlete with high-level endurance and speed, Lewis makes the most of her abilities to be a consistent defensive midfielder who can also use her athletic traits to hurt opposition sides on the counter attack. Lewis trained with Fremantle over the summer and would now be eyeing off a step up to the elite level with the Dockers, and has used that determination to really set herself apart from the competition.

Representing Western Australia in the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, the then middle-ager stood out, being one of the stronger performers at the carnival behind three of the higher drafted/pre-listed players in Roxanne Roux, Mim Strom and Mikayla Bowen. She consistently cracked in and laid plenty of tackles, winning the contested ball and getting it forward to kick a major during the week too.

Her strong endurance base helps her run out games, and her midset to win the ball and dispossess the opposition makes her a danger when running both ways. As Claremont’s top prospect this year, and also alongside fellow youngsters Ella Smith and Jess Low, Lewis unsurprisingly earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite.

She has battled with injury problems over the years but has always pulled through to make herself better at the end, Lewis looks up to Dockers’ tackling machine, Kiara Bowers. Possessing similar traits, Lewis has shown she can match it with taller players and whilst she admits she has areas to work on such as her decision making – particularly at speed – her athletic traits and mindset make her a strong prospect for this year’s draft.

Overall Lewis provides what you want from a midfielder. An ability to run both ways, apply defensive pressure and hit the scoreboard when needed. She is not afraid of any challenge and can play inside, outside or up forward with great versatility.

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Brisbane Lions & Gold Coast Suns

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Queensland, in Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns.

Brisbane Lions – Queensland pool

Draft selections: 8, 37, 38, 51, 52

Off-season summary:

Brisbane had a relatively quiet off-season, picking up just the one player in Queensland Taylor Smith who crossed from their southern neighbours in Gold Coast, whilst also gaining picks 37 and 51, losing Pick 24. In terms of their list changes, the Lions delisted Bri McFarlane and Hannah Millman, whilst Arianna Clarke retired.

This made for minimal chances on the primary list, effectively only losing two on difference. The Lions also picked up Courtney Hodder who as a former AFL Women’s National Academy member, could be a huge inclusion taking up the sport again from rugby union. Unlikely to use all their picks at the draft due to list numbers, the Lions will head into the draft second in the pecking order from their state.

A draft look:

The name who has been talked up the last few years at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships and is finally in her top-age year is Zimmorlei Farquharson. The most exciting player in the draft, Farquharson is capable of the impossible in the air or ground level, and while she has been piecing together consistent games over the past few seasons, she has been playing at the elite junior level for a few years now. Her huge game for Yeronga South Brisbane on the weekend helped the Devils reach the 2020 QAFL Women’s Grand Final.

Other Lions Academy players who have stood out at QAFL Women’s’ level this season include Maroochydore’s Chloe Gregory, Coorparoo’s Chelsea Chesterfield and Aspley’s Izzy Kotatis. Of course they could look to bring in some extra experience such as versatile Yeronga and former Carlton VFL Women’s co-captain, Courtney Bromage. She has enjoyed a consistent season and is still only 21-years-old, while Madison Goodwin has been another Devils forward shining this season.

Gold Coast Suns – Queensland pool

Draft selections: 7, 23, 56

Off-season summary:

Like Brisbane, Gold Coast remained a relatively settled side after making finals in the Suns’ first season in the AFL Women’s. They made a number of list changes by delisting Georgia Breward, Alexia Hamilton, Tayla Thorn and Kitara Farrar, while Maddy Roberts retired. Smith headed north to the Lions and Charlotte Hammans flew south to join Carlton, while St Kilda’s Alison Drennan was the sole inclusion for the Suns during the trade period.

It has allowed the Suns to be fairly flexible when it comes to picking up new players, with the AFL Women’s Sarah Black reporting that former Adelaide and Hawthorn forward, Sarah Perkins had nominated Queensland as her state of preference, so she could well be on the Suns’ radar as a forward target. They need more experience to add to their youth, and she could be a good fit inside 50.

A draft look:

In theory, the Academies do not guarantee only players from their respective academies, so the Suns holding the first selection in the draft could swoop on Farquharson or anyone they wish in the open Queensland draft. Though they also have the player with the largest endurance base across the board in their Academy with Daisy D’Arcy a standout prospect. She is a consistent all-round player and won the yo-yo test in the preseason by so much, she was left doing laps by herself for some time. The male and female testing is done differently, but her score was the equivalent of a 22.1 – absolute elite.

Another couple of AFL Women’s National Academy members who earned Draft Combine invites are Bond University’s Maddison Levi, and Southport’s Annise Bradfield. Both have come through the Queensland pathway system and have shown great promise in the AFL Women’s Under 18s level in past seasons. Also standing out in the QAFL Women’s competition was Coolangatta Tweed’s Ebony Peterson who also earned a Draft Combine invite. Throw in the likes of fellow Academy members Jasmyn Davison, Annie Muir and Keyshia Matenga who all had strong seasons, and the Suns Academy have plenty to pick from.

As an overall look at other Queensland options, Beth Pinchin is a lynchpin defender who captained the Suns Academy and could be ready to make the next step up, whilst a couple of dual-sport academy members Lucy Single (rugby 7s and karate) and Laura Blue (soccer) both earned invites, as did Coorparoo’s inside midfielder, Brooke Spence.

Out to impress: 2020 WAFL weekend preview – Preliminary Finals

YOUNG talent continues to turn heads at state league level around the nation, and it has been no different across all three WAFL grades upon the competition’s resumption in 2020. As we roll into the second week of finals, Draft Central continues its new weekly preview format, highlighting some of the best up-and-comers who will be out to impress with each passing game. With Grand Final spots up for grabs, stakes are high for the state’s brightest prospects and bonafide stars.

>> SCROLL for fixtures and League teams

South Fremantle and West Perth play off for the right to play Claremont in the League decider, with the Bulldogs on a mission to add to their minor premiership. The top-ranked side will be made to lean on its second chance after consecutive losses, while West Perth is riding the wave of an 11-point victory in Week One to secure passage to the prelims.

Against a hardened and experienced South Freo outfit, the Falcons will also look to take in its fair share of young talent. 21-year-old midfielder Connor West had a season-low 11 disposals last time out, but laid eight tackles and has what it takes to make an impact amid the finals atmosphere. 202cm bigman Zak Patterson and former Subiaco ball magnet Tristan Hobley have been named on the Falcons’ extended bench, both looking to retain their spots.

Claremont’s Reserves will hope to join their League and Colts teammates in the final week of the season, when they square off against Subiaco on Sunday afternoon. The Lions’ second chance comes into play after a loss to the undefeated East Perth, while the Tigers will hope its winning form counts having beaten South Fremantle last week.

Both sides boast a good array of youth prospects, with brothers Liam and Wil Hickmott among them. The midfielders carry League experience, and make up two of the three centreline selections for Subiaco. Thomas Edwards-Baldwin is another to watch for the Lions, named in the forward pocket to round out a month of Reserves footy after his own League stint. Fellow 21-year-old Koby Fullgrabe also features on the extended bench.

In response, the third-ranked Tigers boast players who can provide a spark on each line. The pacey Isaac Barton looms as one who can open up the game from midfield, while Jye Clark, the brother of Geelong’s Jordan has been named at half-back, and mainstay Jack Buller remains at half-forward.

Subiaco’s Colts will hope to make it a first-versus-second Grand Final, but have to get through the fourth-ranked East Fremantle before attempting revenge on Claremont. Ball-winning quartet Lachlan Vanirsen, Connor Patterson, Jed Kemp, and Matthew Johnson are all coming off strong showings for the Lions, with Kemp and Johnson getting their hands dirty defensively, too.

They’ll all play a key role for Subiaco, especially given the Sharks’ stocks. Bottom-agers Joshua Browne and Corey Warner have risen steeply of late, while Finn Gorringe is enjoying his time across half-back without Jack Carroll. Fellow defensive pair, Brandon Walker and Keanu Haddow have been reliable all season, while Chris Walker will be riding high having been added to the National Combine list.

Other combine invitees to watch include Subiaco defender Blake Morris and forward, Tyler Brockman, while East Fremantle’s Jed Hagan is a 2022-eligible gun who should benefit greatly from the heat of finals football in midfield.

FIXTURES

League:

South Fremantle vs. West Perth | Sunday September 27, 3:35pm @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval

Reserves:

Subiaco vs. Claremont | Sunday September 27, 1:00pm @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval

Colts:

Subiaco vs. East Fremantle | Sunday September 27, 10:25am @ Fremantle Community Bank Oval

LEAGUE TEAMS

Featured Image: West Perth players celebrate their Week One finals win | Source: (Retrieved from) @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

Newcomer Dolan enjoys strong debut season in SANFLW

CHARLOTTE Dolan only started playing Australian rules football a few years ago, and played her first South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s match this year. Running out for Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, Dolan was involved in the club’s inaugural win back in Round 4, marking a really memorable debut for the teenager.

Dolan said she was thrilled to win on debut, but had not thought about being the club’s first win when it happened, just soaking up the moment in a great team effort rather than being a lucky charm of sorts.

“Yeah wow nah I thought everyone played really well that game,” Dolan said. “I was playing off the wing and onball for a part of it and the pressure was just really high which made it successful. “I don’t know what to say, I’m good luck?”

Whilst the game’s result had Dolan on a high, the uncertainty around the season – that would eventuate not long after – put her new found senior career on hold. Despite this she used the COVID-19 pandemic postponement as a way to improve her overall game to hit the ground running when it restarted in June.

“It was a really gut-dropping feeling,” Dolan said. “I was at the game on the Friday night (before her debut) I think it was, and we didn’t even know if the game was going to go ahead, and everyone was like ‘they might be cancelling the game’ because of COVID and stuff. “I was like ‘oh no’ but finding out out the week after the next game against Westies had been cancelled and I was like ‘you’re kidding? I finally made my way into the side’. “But I guess it gave me that break to push harder, train a bit more, get a bit fitter again and keep working on my skills.”

As mentioned above, Dolan was not always a footballer, instead she came from a a soccer and surf lifesaving background. She reached state representation in both those sports, but was a chance chat with friends that got the ball rolling for a girls football team at SMOSH West Lakes.

“I remember it was a friend of ours who was highly involved in football around at SMOSH West Lakes and we were like ‘let’s get a girls team going’ and the parents weren’t too sure about it obviously but we thought we might as well give it a crack and it was like something new,” Dolan said. “At the time it wasn’t really a big thing, and were like ‘oh this could be cool, let’s get involved and see what happens’.”

From there it grew, as Dolan was starting effectively from scratch, having only brought across a competitive nature and being involved in a team environment from her other two sports. Prior to the Eagles having a team entered in the SANFL Women’s, Dolan was initially in the Glenelg pathway before her zone changed to Woodville-West Torrens and played a couple of Under 17s matches there prior to progressing into the senior team.

That debut came in the famed Round 4 win, and aside from the climate at the time and uncertainty that came with it, Dolan had her own natural nerves heading into the game against senior opponents.

“My first game I was pretty scared going out there against everyone older,” Dolan said. “It was a bit nerve wracking but I haven’t struggled too much I don’t think. “Just having confidence in myself is just the main thing. “I can do this.”

Dolan gained confidence over time and was included in the State Under 18s Academy this year which further enhanced her self-belief and love for the sport.

That (State Academy) was good, it started off really well,” Dolan said. “Every weekend we’d have a training on the Sunday morning and that was good to have as different to the other trainings were were doing at our clubs and it was good to have another training. “It was different coaches and you’ve also got to hang out with the other girls from other teams which was good.”

After collecting the wooden spoon in 2019, the Eagles showed great development in 2020, picking up two wins and as Dolan pointed out, were a lot more competitive across the board.

I guess you look at it as a learning curve obviously and you can see where things went right and things went wrong,” Dolan said. “It’s not like we were far off getting wins throughout the season. “The games were usually pretty close, they weren’t smashings aside the game against North.”

Dolan is a natural onballer from the time she spent at junior level, but began running around on a wing and increasing her versatility with the Eagles. Her fitness base gained from her other sports allowed Dolan to run out full games and often mentally work over opponents.

I’m naturally more of a sweeper, defensive player, midfielder,” Dolan said. “Playing centre on the ball and playing in my first game off the wing and I played that natural on the 45 and then behind the play and that suited me pretty well. “But definitely when I played school footy for example, I’ll play onball and I prefer more of that onball than a wing.”

Dolan stopped playing soccer when she took up Australian rules football, but unlike many top-age hopefuls, she had initially quit footy as well until she found the hunger to run around again.

“I stopped playing soccer three or four years ago to focus on footy and then do surf lifesaving on the side as a bit of fun and fitness,” Dolan said. “I quit footy last year actually and then I got really bored watching my brothers and my sister play so thought I’d play again and that’s when I got picked up. “I did surf lifesaving, I would train for that.”

Despite being one of the fittest going around, Dolan still aims to build her fitness even greater, as well as improve her acceleration to be able to take the game on even more and apply increased defensive pressure to her opponents. As for her goal, while the All-Stars game did not go as she had hoped, Dolan is still eyeing off a future at the elite level at some stage.

“It would be pretty awesome to make an AFLW side,” Dolan said. “For the draft this year, it was just a bit unfortunate the game on Friday night (All-Stars game). “I wasn’t too happy with how it played out but I guess not the end of the world and more bigger and brighter things to come.”

Picture: Karley J Photography

Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: Geelong Falcons vs. Port Adelaide Magpies

IT is getting serious now. The final four in the Draft Central All-Star Team matchup are the top four seeds which means it is only the best of the best. The four sides are evenly matched with two Victorian teams, as well as one from South Australia and one from Western Australia. In our first semi-final today, we look at Geelong Falcons up against Port Adelaide Magpies.

TEAM COMPARISON

Geelong Falcons have had the most players of any club reach the AFL, with 153 having made it to the elite level (including those yet to make their debut). The Port Adelaide Magpies are lower down the list with 92, but with an average of 82.5 games between them, the Magpies are ranked second – behind our top seeds East Fremantle (83.1). Even more remarkably, Port Adelaide has had one third (34 per cent) of the players who have passed through the club to go on to reach 100 games, agains second of the top sides with this feat.

The Falcons are still great with 25 per cent, but it is the Brownlow votes and premierships where Geelong comes to play. They sit third of the teams with 50 players or more in the system, averaging 11.2 Brownlow votes per person, third overall behind Port and East Fremantle. They have had 18 premiership players, three more than the Magpies, and only 24 per cent of their graduates fail to play a game at AFL level (28 per cent Port).

Overall both these sides are clearly in the top three overall for top-end quality.

CAPTAINS

The two captains are legends of the game in Geelong superstar Gary Ablett Jnr (Geelong Falcons), and one of Collingwood’s best of all-time and current coach, Nathan Buckley (Port Adelaide Magpies). Ablett has won two Brownlow Medals, eight All-Australians, five Most Valuable Players (MVPs), six best and fairests, three AFL Coaches Association Awards, and two premierships. Buckley has won one Brownlow Medal, one Rising Star Award, seven All-Australians, six best and fairests, one Norm Smith Medal and one AFL Coaches Association award.

GEELONG DEFENCE vs. PORT ATTACK

We begin breaking down this match up by looking at the Falcons’ defence going head-to-head with Port Adelaide’s attack. Full-back Matthew Scarlett will likely play a sweeper role opposed to Clive Waterhouse, but could go up and match-up with Warren Tredrea if he starts to get out of hand. Will Schofield might find himself without a pure matchup, but realistically, he could be the one to go to Waterhouse, Scarlett to Tredrea, and allow Tom Stewart to be the intercepting force.

With Nick Maxwell there to come across as third man up, expect Maxwell to take the least dangerous forward, which in fairness is arguably Brett Ebert. Steven Baker would likely lockdown on Alan Didak, with Luke Hodge going head-to-head with Lindsay Thomas, knowing the former Hawks skipper could run off his opponent whilst doing enough defensively to remain accountable. Tredrea’s ability to take contested marks would be dependent on his teammates’ abilities to remain accountable on their direct opponents. Peter Burgoyne could be the damaging option at half-forward to try and make Stewart more accountable as well and the Port midfield would look to hit him up going forward.

GEELONG ATTACK vs. PORT DEFENCE

Geelong’s forward 50 is ridiculous filled with talent, and could be an All-Australian forward line – right down to the midfielders named on flanks. Having the luxury to play elite midfielders in Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield there is amazing, while Shaun Higgins would be free given he would have less attention than usual with the stars at half-forward. Luke Dahlhaus is the other pocket who is always damaging around goal, and would love roving at the feet of one of the greatest centre half-forwards in Jonathan Brown, as well as champion Bomber, Scott Lucas.

The key for Port Adelaide here is the matchups, because they have so many elite kicks and composed decision makers, that they can also put the Falcons on the back foot if Geelong goes ball-watching in attack. Andrew McLeod, Corey Enright and Gavin Wanganeen coming out of the back 50 – keeping in mind Buckley could roll back there as well – and any loose ball could be picked up and hitting a target back up the field. The counter attack by the Magpies would be sublime. Graham Johncock himself is more than capable too, but he will likely play a more defensive role to keep Higgins or Dahlhaus under wraps.

The key defensive posts in the Wakelin brothers – Shane and Darryl – would have big jobs, but expect Enright to come across as that third option to mark in front of Brown or Lucas. The fact we could see McLeod on Dangerfield would simply be mouth watering, and whichever one of Enright, Wanganeen and McLeod is not taking Ablett or Dangerfield would be the designated user from defence.

MIDFIELD BATTLE

Much like everywhere else, this is a beauty. You would hand the points to Matthew Primus over Scott Lycett in the battle of the big men, but an onball group of Buckley, Craig Bradley and Scott Thompson is great, but then you compare them to Jimmy Bartel, Travis Boak and Cameron Ling. One would expect Ling would go to Buckley to tag as the best user of Port’s trio, whilst the speed of Shaun Burgoyne on the wing would be great against Jack Steven of the Falcons. On the other wing, Jordan Lewis and Byron Pickett will go head-to-head and everyone knows neither player will back down.

Of that midfield group, you would hand the points to Geelong because of the depth – keeping in mind Ablett and Dangerfield could role through there – despite Port having the elite talents at the top-end in Buckley and Bradley.

DEPTH

Again Geelong have the edge in terms of midfield depth with the likes of Ben Cunnington and Taylor Adams just sitting on the pine. Lachlan Henderson is also there and capable of taking a Tredrea or Waterhouse to free up one of the rebounding defenders, whilst Maguire is another option. They do not have as many forward options as the Power, so would rely on the midfielders to hit the scoreboard.

On the other bench, Port have plenty of forward options with Scott Hodges kicking 100 goals in 38 games, as well as Brad Ebert a known goal kicker as a mid-forward. Che Cockatoo-Collins kicked more than 200 goals in his career, whilst further up the field, Darren Mead, Michael Wilson and Greg Anderson would assist the Magpies with depth.

OVERALL

This is as tough as it gets. As a general rule of thumb it looks like skill against hardness but that is not to say the opposite teams do not have plenty of the other. Port Adelaide is the most skilful side through this series, whilst Geelong has arguably the greatest top-end talent and balance across the ground. The Falcons are second seed to the Magpies’ third, but you can easily make a case for either side getting up in this one.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
Geelong Falcons
Port Adelaide Magpies
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Clark dares greatly and follows coach’s mantra to Roosters’ flag

NORTH Adelaide’s Julia Clark by her own admission is quieter than most and despite being told of her abilities and how she can influence a game, Clark was just happy to play her role in 2019. She was happy to do her bit each week as the Roosters reached the grand final, only to fall to reigning premiers South Adelaide. Fast forward 12 months (and a little more thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Clark is instead on the winning end of a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider.

“Yeah it was amazing,” Clark said of the premiership. “I learnt a lot in this season. “Last year was good, but this season I’ve learnt so much and I guess the feelings at trainings was always intense, but it was always good fun. “You always got something out of it, and being around such talented people and having to work harder than I had to work last year just to get into the team every week just really pushed me beyond where I thought I could go.”

Clark said the 2019 grand final loss was a motivating factor for the team in 2020, but said she personally felt she did all she could in that loss. However it was not until master coach Krissie Steen arrived at Prospect Oval that Clark noticed a massive difference in her game.

“Yeah I think definitely for the team it was a big motivator, especially as most of them had lost the finals the year before that and the year before that as well,” Clark said. “I think I was very tentative last season and I just sort of played my role and what I was told to do. “I didn’t really do anything extra, so when it came to the Grand Final knowing it would be my last game of the season, I think I just threw it all out there and personally I think that was my best game.

“So I came out of that loss not feeling bad personally, but knowing that I wanted to work extra hard this year and I think with Krissie’s mentality and really emphasing ‘Dare Greatly’ that really changed my thinking around how my season went last year and how I didn’t do that and what I wanted to put into my season this year.”

Indeed, it was Steen that gave the teenager confidence to take the game on and back herself in her role playing in defence.

“Yeah I think as I said before I’ve learnt so much and I think it’s all because of her (Steen). “It’s great having a female in that role and just like she knows what she’s talking about and you always know that she’s right and she also knows what’s right for you personally and as a team. “If something goes wrong, she can blame herself and I think just vulnerability and you don’t shy away from mistakes, you just focus on the next time you have to do something and just being better.”

Rewinding back a few years, Clark came through the pathway and was always involved with the Roosters in some capacity, and then got the call-up to make her debut in 2019 and has hardly missed a beat since.

I think my first real taste of footy was at North Adelaide in the Under 14s comp,” Clark said. “The four-game comp. “And that was in 2015 and then in 2016 I went out to Hope Valley because they were the closest club with a girls team and I played Under 16s for one season there and then we managed to get a team in Broadview which is my local suburb. “From there, I kept playing the North juniors in the coming years and I kept getting nominated for the North juniors once that started happening and then went from there.”

Like many young girls, Clark came from a netball background, but once she switched into footy, she loved it and the challenges associated with it, particularly playing in defence.

I think coming from netball, I think it was just a lot more freedom playing footy and it was something new that I just got to run wherever I wanted and just a whole lot of freedom,” Clark said. “There’s so many things to keep improving on and I just like the challenge of it.

“I definitely find defence at the higher levels a bit easier to cope with than forward. “In the local league (playing) forward’s alright, but back is definitely more natural in my head in the higher levels anyway.”

Clark rates her composure with ball-in-hand and decision making as amongst her best traits. Whilst not a massive accumulator, she does not make too many mistakes and is one player that can be relied upon to hit targets out there. She positions herself well in defence, and said she is just hoping to build even greater confidence to take the game on more, and back herself with tackling and growing her overall fitness base.

While Clark’s side did finish the 2020 season undefeated, the defender admitted it was not until the final few seconds of the grand final that she knew her team had it in the bag.

“Maybe a few seconds before the siren went,” Clark said. “But definitely when there was still time left in that last quarter, it was very tense and it was mainly after the siren where you could sort of relax and just celebrate.”

Clark has been in the South Australian State Academy the last two seasons, and it has also been a huge factor in building her confidence.

“It’s been really good,” Clark said. “I think I’m very harsh on myself and I think sometimes I need to remind myself I am a good player and I think the State Academy really helps you realise how good you and how good all the other people around you are. “It’s just amazing to have friends and get up to this level.”

As the SANFL Women’s season usually finishes in May, Clark headed back to her local club last year to maintain fitness and work on areas of her game to be fit and firing for the 2020 season.

“Coming off last season after North Adelaide I went back to Broadview and just wanted to build up my confidence again and coming back to North this year I wanted to take my fitness which is how I maintained place in the team last season,” Clark said. “I just brought that in this season and just really tried to keep my confidence up and with Krissie’s mentality of ‘Daring Greatly’ I just had to push myself every training and every trial game just to make sure I was confident and made sure I was outside of my comfort zone than I was last year. 

“Think in future, definitely keeping my confidence up and building my confidence to keep daring and using my voice more and trusting myself more is what I’m aiming to do in the future.”

Rather than another individual, it is Clark’s internal determination that has spurred her on to follow the pathway and chase her dream of playing at the elite level.

“I think my drive has always been that, I’m pretty good at a lot of things and so when I find something challenging, my mentality that I have to master it,” she said. “I have to do everything I can to do everything to be the best I can at it. “So I think that internal drive is what keeps pushing me to keep going and get better and better.”