Category: Brisbane Lions Academy

QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga leads from the front in electric performance

CLASS was the word of the day for Bond University’s Mikayla Pauga during their clash against Aspley a fortnight ago. Pauga kicked three in a best on ground performance, but her performance was so much more. She created opportunities for teammates inside Bond’s forward 50, worked hard to help in defence and was smooth around the stoppages, constantly getting a desperately needed clearance for her side. This was all against a quality opposition, who struggled to contain her as she found her way around the ground with ease. On top of the three goals she kicked herself, she also set up plenty of others for her teammates. Whether it was a direct assist through clean hands or proving an integral part of great team ball movement, she seemed to be everywhere, and deserved every bit of her best on ground honours.

The game started in ideal fashion for Bond kicking the opening goal of the game in no time. The second goal came from some excellent hands inside 50. With an errant handball flying over her head, Pauga completed an excellent pickup of a deviating ball before dishing a handball to Annie Muir on the run, who finished with an excellent goal. With the ball locked in Bond’s forward half for a lot of the quarter, Pauga popped up everywhere, from applying constant pressure around the stoppage or winning a two-on-one contest on the wing. She also had the chance to add one more goal for her side, with a nice gather, sidestep and long shot on goal just fading to the right for a behind. Regardless, she looked dangerous all over the ground.

The second quarter started strong for Bond and Pauga. With the ball launched inside Bond’s 50, it kicked off a foot race between Pauga and her opponent. She cleverly toe-poked the ball to the goal square, where teammate Caitlin Thorne simply had to soccer the ball through a metre from the goal line. The play summed up Pauga’s performance on the day; clever, unselfish and attacking. The second quarter also saw Pauga hit the scoreboard multiple times. Chasing the ball inside 50 after a horrendous bounce, she calmly gathered the ball, evaded her opponent and kicked a goal from 25 metres. Bond already had the momentum, and this continued that. She wasn’t finished there, with her second goal on the halftime siren coming from an important one-on-one win and assist from teammate Lily Tarlinton allowing Pauga to chip through the goal from the top of the goal square.

In the third quarter, Bond continued its dominance on the game and so did Pauga. Taking a mark on the half-back flank, she played on, shrugged off a would-be tackler and delivered a 40-metre precision pass to a teammate down the field. She then followed up to receive the handball on the run, evading another tackler and then hitting a teammate lace out on a lead who unfortunately spilled the mark. After Bond locked the ball in their 50 from this play, Pauga was constantly peppering the goals, before finally kicking her third shortly after, finishing some nice ball movement up the field with a fantastic goal on the run from the pocket. Pauga was certainly showing why she was the ‘Riewoldt Family AFL Excellence’ scholarship recipient at Bond.

Spending some more time forward of the ball in the last, she was able to take it back a gear with Bond having an extremely comfortable lead. She was still able to find the ball around the half forward flank, displaying her speed and class that served her and her team so well throughout the game. Overall, an excellent game from the crafty mid/forward, displaying a performance that likely won’t be the last of that caliber.

Pauga and Bond University remain undefeated after the win, and take on reigning premiers Yeronga South Brisbane on Saturday.

Picture credit: Russell Freeman/AFL Photos

2021 QAFL Women’s Round 4 preview: Hornets and Devils to face-off in blockbuster clash

NOT too often do you get a scenario where the reigning premiers and reigning wooden spooners will create a highly-anticipated matchup the very next season, but the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition offers just that. Reigning premiers, Yeronga South Brisbane will travel to Aspley where they face the Hornets at Graham Road, in a game that will be a measuring stick for both teams. In other matches, the unbeaten University of Queensland hosts Coorparoo fresh off its first win of the season, whilst Coolangatta Tweed – having been forced into a bye last round – will lock horns with the fellow winless side, Maroochydore. In the sole Sunday game, a fresh Bond University will head to Hickey Park where they take on Wilston Grange.

Unfortunately the recent COVID-19 scare in Queensland stopped the Under 19 State Academy members from flying down and competing in Victoria last weekend, which meant a number of top teenagers will have gone without the competitive match. Aspley has a number of talented youngsters in their ranks, with Lucia Liessi back in the side and named at half-forward, with Kadie Fletcher (wing) and Charlotte Mullins (half-forward) also earning state honours. They take on a Yeronga side stacked with talent, and goalscorer Zimmorlei Farquharson named up on a wing, allowing the likes of Emmii-Lee Zanker Close and Lexia Edwards to hit the scoreboard. Starting in the ruck, Queensland Under 19s representative Christine Okesene will be hoping to impress against Angela Lingard while the midfield battle because Luca Mason and Courtney Daniec, and Madison Goodwin and Jordan Zanchetta will also be key within in the match.

Lauren Middleton has earned Queensland Under 19s state honours and will be hoping her University of Queensland side can remain unbeaten up against Coorparoo in their clash. The Kings are coming off a thrilling one-point victory over Maroochydore last week, and they were made to work for the win, with the likes of Madi Crowley-Long and Lucinda Benjamin in great form. Macie Brown (interchange) and Kalista-Jayne Shiner (emergency) are the Kings’ representatives in the state side. The Red Lionesses had a great upset win over Yeronga South Brisbane last week, and Mia Teubler was impressive, as has been Megan Hunt all season. The Kings will look to Chelsea Chesterfield and the returning Emma McKenzie as a source of goals in the match as they hope to cause an upset themselves against the in-form Red Lionesses.

In the battle of the winless sides, Maroochydore has loaded up on its elite young talent, with AFL Women’s Academy members Bella Smith and Maggie Harmer back in the line-up and midfield for the clash. They will rove to the in-form Jacqueline Dupuy, while Chloe Gregory and Jya Epstein round out a strong midfield. Brianna McFarlane and Makeisha Muller are others up forward who could cause some headaches for the Bluebirds. Coolangatta Tweed have a ridiculous amount of Queensland Under 19 representatives, with eight making the final 29-player squad. Keyshia Matenga (onball), Imogen Evans (centre half-forward), Casey Wynne (onball), Faith Alchin (back pocket), Sally Evans (half-forward), Sophie Ure (forward pocket), and the Cockatoo-Motlop twins in Laquoiya and Litonya (midfield) all made the final cut this week. In terms of young talent, this is the game to watch.

In the final match of the round, all eyes will be on Bond University after a week off, with the young guns returning to the team to face Wilston Grange. AFL Women’s Academy member Mikayla Pauga is back at half-forward, with top talent Teagan Levi coming off the bench, but is sure to impact the contest. The inside midfield is stacked with Ellie Hampson returning to the side, and then the likes of Georgia Brehmer and Shannon Danckert also in. Jasmyn Davidson (ruck), Lily Tarlinton (forward pocket) and Giselle Davies (back pocket) are the other Sharkettes to make the state side. For the Gorillas, Abbey Hewett will look to have her say in the midfield with Mackenzie Findlay following Hewett being named in the state squad, as was full-forward Brooke Sheridan. Rheanne Lugg and Ruby Svarc are other Gorillas who could use their experience to have a real say on the result.

QAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 4 FIXTURES:

Saturday, March 20:
Aspley vs. Yeronga South Brisbane @ Graham Road, Aspley, 2pm
Maroochydore vs. Coolangatta Tweed @ Maroochydore Multisports Complex, 3.45pm
University of Queensland vs. Coorparoo @ UQ, 3.45pm

Sunday, March 21:
Wilston Grange vs. Bond University @ Hickey Park, 2.00pm

NAB League Girls Round 6 preview: Academy teams arrive for bumper clashes

ALL four Northern Academy teams will arrive in the NAB League Girls competition, with the Sydney Swans, Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns playing in Victoria, while GWS GIANTS meet the Murray Bushrangers in Lavington, New South Wales.

In a huge boost for the NAB League Girls, the clash between Geelong Falcons and Sydney Swans Academy, and the double-header featuring the Queensland Academy teams and Northern Knights and Eastern Ranges, will not only be streamed via the NAB League app, but also feature live commentary. We preview all the Round 6 games below.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY
Saturday, March 13 @ 10am
Lavington Sports Ground

The first NAB League Girls game of the year to be played in New South Wales takes place between Murray Bushrangers and GWS GIANTS Academy. It also marks the first game of what will be four across the weekend, introducing the Northern Academy sides to some Victorian opposition. Murray Bushrangers are yet to win a game in the NAB League Girls, and their AFL Women’s Academy player Ally Morphett will suit up in the orange and charcoal against the Bushrangers’ other towering ruck in Lily Kozuharoff. After making her debut for North Melbourne VFL Women’s last week, Jayde Hamilton will be back at Under 19s level, roving the taps and going head-to-head with bottom-age jet Keeley Skepper onball.

Grace Hay is a critical inclusion in defence for the Bushrangers, teaming up with the likes of Mindy Quade, Chloe Locke and Kristy Whitehead forming a strong half-back line. They will need to contain teammate Lily Sharp who also switches jumpers for this clash, while Hayley Macdonald slotted three goals in the big 49-point win over Sydney Swans Academy a fortnight ago. She was named best on ground in that victory, with Sophie Trewartha another impressive forward on the day, Eleano Bishop and wing Brodie Mowbray others named amongst the best. India Lehman will take to the field for the GIANTS against her Bushrangers teammates, while Murray will look to in-form wing Aurora Smith to go head-to-head with Jessica Whelan in a matchup to watch. Zara Hamilton, Sophia McCarthy and Olivia Cicolini are others who can create scoring opportunities for the home side.

Murray has the experience at this level, but the real contest will be the interesting factor watching the GIANTS Academy making their debut at NAB League level with a number of Bushrangers to face off against their NAB League teammates.

 

GEELONG FALCONS vs. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY
Saturday, March 13 @ 11am
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

Heading much further south, another Academy team arrives in Victoria for a clash against the red-hot Geelong Falcons. The Falcons are 3-0 so far this season and have taken care of all their opponents thus far. Sydney has played two matches against the GIANTS Academy, splitting the results with a 20-point win, before a 49-point loss. Given Geelong could take out the entire title, this will be a great challenge for the Swans to partake in as they hit the field for the first time at NAB League Girls level. The Falcons head in without the in-form Annie Lee in defence, or leading goalkicker Renee Tierney up forward as they look to continue their stints at VFL Women’s level. Otherwise the Falcons will be relatively stable across the field and look to continue their form against the Swans.

The Falcons midfield of Tess Craven, Ash Van Loon, Poppy Schaap and Charlotte Simpson has been rock solid this year, and will be hard to beat. It will be a fantastic test for the likes of Ruby Sargent-Wilson and Hannah Cerezo who both stood out in the Academy matches recently. Up forward, Jessica Doyle slotted four as the sole AFL Women’s Academy for her state, but also the only one in the match. She will be the crucial player to watch up forward, though Willow Smith, Kyla Tracey and Jade Jarrett have all proven to be scoring options for the red and white side. Elizabeth Dowling will be the player her teammates look to with distribution outside the defensive 50, while Analea McKee and Ava McKeegan will look to drive the ball down the field from half-back. Ingrid Houtsma provides some X-factor on the win, and Mia Van Dyke has been thrown forward for this game, with reliable targets, Lucy Were and Gabbi Featherston making life difficult for the opposition. Other Swans who impressed in the Academy games include Kiara Beesley – who received a Draft Combine invitation last year – Maddy Hendrie, Ella Morris, Kahli Gilchrist and Ella Heads who will hope to make a good impression in this encounter.

Geelong is one of the teams to beat this season, but the Swans will get a great hitout ahead of next month’s AFL Women’s Under-19 Championships.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday, March 13 @ 12.30pm
Penguin Reserve

Playing in the third state for the day’s action, Tasmania Devils host Dandenong Stingrays at Penguin Reserve. The Devils are coming off back-to-back wins in Victoria after their narrow defeat at the hands of Oakleigh Chargers a fortnight ago. If there is one team that can sympathise with them about losing to the Chargers in a nail-biter it is the Stingrays, who went down to the Chargers by a solitary point a week ago. Tasmania sits at 3-1 for the season, while the Stingrays have one less game under their belts for a 2-1 start, but could draw level with a win here. The Devils really ran out the final term against Bendigo Pioneers last Saturday, then managed to restrict Western Jets to just one point, meaning in their last seven quarters, the Devils’ defence has conceded just one behind. That will be important against a dangerous Stingrays’ forward line that contains Amber Clarke (three goals against Oakleigh) and the rotating Ashleigh Richards and Mackenzie Eardley who can be thrown there too.

Much like the Devils, the Stingrays have a really strong defensive outfit, with Eardley and Zoe Hill the twin towers in the key positions and the likes of Jaide Anthony and Jemma Radford providing the run. Amy Prokopiec has looked lively up forward this season, with her season-best four goals coming in Round 1, while Amy Bissett and Amy Edmand have also proven to kick multiple goals in a game through tight contests. The Devils midfield has been firing on all cylinders, withe speed of Perri King, class of Claire Ransom and hardness of Ella Maurer providing a nice balance on the inside. Given the Stingrays will be without the injured Emily Shepherd, it will be up to Richards and Felicity Crank to step up with Abbey Jordan in that onball group. Aprille Crooks, Priscilla Odwogo and Jemma Blair can provide the run out of defence for the Devils, while Meghan Gaffney never stops running.

This has all the hallmarks of being a thriller and being at home, Tasmania Devils might have the slight edge, but it is hard to look past the Stingrays who are just as well balanced as any side, but it shapes as the match to watch this weekend.

 

GWV REBELS vs. WESTERN JETS
Sunday, March 14 @ 11am
MARS Stadium

Taking to the field for their second game in four days, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will host the Western Jets – who only have a six-day break themselves – at MARS Stadium on Sunday morning. The Rebels trialled key forward Ella Friend on a wing and she has been named there again in what could be an absolute blockbuster of a matchup against Jets’ talent Charlotte Baskaran. The one-on-ones across the ground are superb, with Lilli Condon set to go up against Montana Ham, and though the height difference might be substantial, neither player will take a backwards step. Paige Scott booted three goals against the Bendigo Pioneers on Wednesday, her second three-goal haul of the year, and will be the danger player inside 50. The smaller defenders in Paige Ryan, Laura Elliott and Kate Maxwell have done well in moving the ball in transition, and will need to stem the flow of inside 50s from the Rebels midfielders.

Up the other end, Nyakoat Dojiok is a brick wall with her ability to read the ball in flight and intercept mark a treat, and Molly Walton is one of the more consistent bottom-age talents running around back there, already tasked with the kick-in duties. Chloe Leonard could slot back onto half-back, but will start onball against Trinity Skenderis, while Ally Trigg and Tahlia Meier both have the capacity to roll from the midfield forward. Kensley Ward has brought the defensive intensity up forward in her two games thus far, while Caitlin Sargent and Jemima Woods are the key forward targets inside 50. Krystal Russell has enjoyed a strong debut season as well through the ruck, and will go head-to-head against Kalani Scoullar.

If the Rebels get up, they move to 3-2 for the season, while the Jets sit at 1-3 currently and would join the Rebels with a 2-3 record if they can topple the home team up in Ballarat.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. CALDER CANNONS
Sunday, March 14 @ 11.30am
Ronald Reserve, Morwell East

Over east, Gippsland Power host Calder Cannons with the home team searching for its first win of the season, while the Calder Cannons are hoping to go back-to-back after a strong win over Northern Knights 10 days earlier under lights at Highgate Recreation Reserve. The Power have become comfortable at Ronald Reserve in Morwell East, with this fixture being their third consecutive match at the venue having played Northern Knights and Sandringham Dragons there in recent weeks. The Power put in their best effort last week against the Dragons, with their lowest losing margin of 58 points, but also slotting three goals in the process. The battle to watch will be in the midfield where Grace McRae could go head-to-head with fellow hard nut Emelia Yassir, while Yasmin Duursma and Macie Gilmour go up against Olivia Manfre and Reese Sutton onball. Georgie Prespakis has been thrown forward in a huge one-on-one contest with Lily-Rose Williamson which will be a great test for the bottom-ager given she possesses similar powerful traits.

Shanara Notman returns to the Power side to provide that tall intercepting target in defence, but could also be thrown forward, with Matilda Van Berkel and Holly Booth named in the key position forward spots though both have become reliable defenders in past years. Indiana Makai has been in good form of late, with Sunday Brisbane and Calder’s Mali McLeod also capable of taking grass with ball-in-hand a long a wing. Neve Crowley will be a crucial key tall for the Cannons up forward, with Alisa Magri (three goals against Northern) and Jessica Zakkour both damaging options inside 50. Up the other end, Kasey Lennox is rock solid at full-back, while Zali Friswell and Tahlia Gillard have both been named on the bench but can roll on and play in multiple positions, quite usually relieving the midfield.

Calder Cannons will be looking for a big win here, but Gippsland will be up for the fight, it will just be about keeping possession and getting the ball forward to their keys, then trying to capitalise on the transition.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. BRISBANE LIONS ACADEMY
Sunday, March 14 @ 12.45pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

In the first of a double-header at La Trobe University, Northern Knights will host Brisbane Lions Academy in what is poised to be a fantastic contest. The Lions Academy might be underrated, but they have three AFL Women’s Academy members out on the park, with Maggie Harmer, Mikayla Pauga and Bella Smith all running out for the Lions in their first NAB League Girls game. Harmer and Pauga will start through the midfield, though the latter could go forward and join Smith in the front six, while Harmer is more than capable of dropping back and being a reliable rebounding defender as well. The Lions have plenty of versatile players in their outfit, with Chelsea Chesterfield and Lucia Liessi both able to front up in the forward line, but will start in defence for this match.

The Knights have been able to create plenty of marking targets inside 50, with Megan Girolami enjoying a fantastic season this year, and the likes of Ella Smallacombe and Simone Mooney being the key talls in there. Trinity Mills has been a tough player to contain, while wings Maykaylah Appleby – Northern’s AFL Women’s Academy member – and Brooke Plummer have created driving runs and pumping the ball inside 50. Grace Wake returns from injury for the Knights for her first game of the season, teaming up with Tarrah Delgado in the back 50, while Ava Jordan has been a sensational find as an 05-born talent this season. An injury to Maeve Chaplin last week means she will miss out, but the Knights have plenty of depth through the side. Other Lions youngsters who have impressed in the Queensland colours or at QAFL Women’s level before include Macie Brown, Tiarna Jericho and Izzy Kotatis, while Phoebe Baird battling with Appleby as two smooth movers will be a matchup to watch.

Northern will be favourites for this clash, but Brisbane Lions could be the pick of the Academy sides this weekend, so if there is to be an upset, it could be this one.

 

EASTERN RANGES vs. GOLD COAST SUNS ACADEMY
Sunday, March 14 @ 2.45pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

In the second game at the revamped La Trobe University, Eastern Ranges will hope to bounce back from their first loss two weeks ago when they take on the other Queensland Academy side in Gold Coast Suns. The Ranges will be without Olivia Meagher who will continue her stint at Collingwood’s VFL Women’s side tonight against Western Bulldogs, which means another midfielder will need to try and contain Queensland’s top draft prospect in Teagan Levi. The sister of Gold Coast’s Maddison, Levi is a terrific inside midfielder who can play in multiple roles, but will bullock the ball out of the stoppage with good burst and power. She is hard to match up on, but Bridget Deed looks to be the one set to go head-to-head with her. The Eastern midfield is a strong one, with in-form ruck Georgia Campbell, and midfielders Keeley Sherar and Ruby O’Dwyer both in good form ahead of this clash. A trio of Ranges return from VFL Women’s duty with Isabelle Khoury (wing), Matilda Hardy (half-forward) and Jess Grace (interchange) all named for the clash.

The Suns have some great talent across the board, with key forward at QAFL Women’s level Jasmyn Davidson named at full-back for this clash showing off her versatility. Up the other end is Lily Tarlinton, with her and Faith Alchin filling out the key position posts. Keyshia Matenga has speed to burn and expect her to come off the bench to roll onto a wing against either Khoury or Jorja Livingstone, while twins Laquoiya and Litonya Cockatoo-Motlop provide a family bond within the team. Alyssia Pisano is a name to keep in mind for the future as a damaging ball user in side 50, while Caitlin Thorne is another Suns player named at half-forward who could create some havoc inside 50.

Eastern Ranges have shown to have the depth to beat most teams and will be favourites here, but led by Levi, the Suns will hope to win plenty of clearances and get the ball forward for scoring opportunities.

2020 AFL Draft recap: Brisbane Lions

BRISBANE is a side on the up and pressing hard to hit the top of the pile, with its trade and draft hauls over the last couple of years indicative such movement. The Lions again went in holding an early-second rounder and built a hand thereafter which allowed them to match incoming bids on their academy talent, before also being able to make a couple other later selections. In the end, two of Brisbane’s homegrown talents landed at the club, while the Lions’ love affair with Vic Country products continued and a developing tall also entered the elite ranks.

BRISBANE

National Draft:
#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Rookies:
Grant Birchall (Re-listed), Carter Michael (Academy), Deividas Uosis (Cat B)

Brisbane’s first point of call came as Collingwood placed a first round bid on leading academy talent Blake Coleman, which had the Lions scrambling to adjust their hand. The bid, which Collingwood also flirted with its picks in the teens, was inevitably matched at 24 and Coleman was able to join his elder brother, Keidean in the maroon, blue, and gold. He promises to bring some spark to the Lions’ attacking 50 in the long term with clean hands, speed, and terrific goal sense among his greatest weapons as a small forward.

The Lions were next put on the clock in round three, where both of their remaining two National Draft selections were made. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels graduate Harry Sharp was the Lions’ seemingly ritual Vic Country pick this time around at 43, having made a name for himself by smashing the draft combine 2km time trial record (5:28) this year. He is a bolter of sorts with obvious running strengths and high upside in his midfield development. 202cm South Australian Henry Smith then rounded out the Lions’ haul just five selections later. He spent most of his SANFL Under 18s season as a key forward who rotated through the ruck, with his contested marking and efforts at ground level key traits to build off.

Looking at Brisbane’s rookie haul, Grant Birchall and Deividas Uosis made for selections which were already made known prior to the fact. Birchall was re-listed as he winds down a stellar AFL career, Uosis is an Irish convert to the code who was born in Lithuania and committed to the club in February this year. The latter was a Category B selection, with academy product Carter Michael put onto the Category A list despite not being called out in the Rookie Draft. He was a key feature for the Lions in this year’s Academy Series while also plying his trade off half-back and on both sides of midfield for Maroochydore in the QAFL. It made for a relatively straightforward rookie intake, with five fresh talents entering the club overall along with Birchall.

Featured Image: RF Photography

2020 AFLW Draft review: Club-by-club picks

THE dust has settled on the exciting 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Over the next week we will be delving into each club’s selections and detailing more information about those players who earned places at the elite level. Below we have listed each club’s selections from last night’s draft if you are waking up to check out who your newest stars are.

Adelaide:

#4 – Teah Charlton (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#45 – Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide)
#47 – Ashleigh Woodland (North Adelaide)

Brisbane:

#8 – Zimmorlei Farquharson (Yeronga South Brisbane/Queensland)
#37 – Indy Tahau (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#38 – Ruby Svarc (Essendon VFLW)

Carlton:

#12 – Mimi Hill (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#28 – Daisy Walker (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#36 – Winnie Laing (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)

Collingwood:

#19 – Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#25 – Amelia Velardo (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
#26 – Joanna Lin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#31 – Abbi Moloney (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 – Pass

Fremantle:

#14 – Sarah Verrier (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
#30 – Mikayla Morrison (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#46 – Tiah Haynes (Subiaco)

Geelong:

#10 – Darcy Moloney (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#20 – Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#21 – Olivia Barber (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
#27 – Stephanie Williams (Geelong Falcons/Darwin Buffettes)
#39 – Carly Remmos (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

Gold Coast:

#7 – Annise Bradfield (Southport/Queensland)
#23 – Sarah Perkins (Hawthorn VFLW)
#50 – Maddison Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
#54 – Janet Baird (Palmerston Magpies)
#57 – Lucy Single (Bond University)
#58 – Elizabeth Keaney (Southern Saints VFLW)
#60 – Daisy D’Arcy (Hermit Park/Queensland)
#61 – Wallis Randell (Bond University)

GWS GIANTS:

#9 – Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/ACT)
#29 – Emily Pease (Belconnen Magpies/Eastern Allies)
#42 – Libby Graham (Manly Warringah Wolves)

Melbourne:

#5 – Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#15 – Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#17 – Maggie Caris (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#35 – Megan Fitzsimon (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#41 – Mietta Kendall (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#48 – Isabella Simmons (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

North Melbourne:

#13 – Bella Eddey (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#22 – Alice O’Loughlin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#44 – Georgia Hammond (Darebin Falcons VFLW)
#49 – Brooke Brown (Launceston)
#55 – Amy Smith (Aberfeldie)

Richmond:

#1 – Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#43 – Tessa Lavey (WNBL)
#52 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons/Richmond VFLW)

St Kilda:

#6 – Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
#24 – Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#34 – Renee Saulitis (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#40 – Jacqueline Vogt (Southern Saints VFLW)
#51 – Pass

West Coast:

#3 – Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)
#18 – Shanae Davison (Swan Districts/WA)
#32 – Julie-Anne Norrish (East Fremantle)
#53 – Andrea Gilmore (Claremont)
#56 – Pass
#59 – Pass

Western Bulldogs:

#2 – Jess Fitzgerald (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
#11 – Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#16 – Isabelle Pritchard (Western Jets/Vic Metro)

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: QAFL Seniors Grand Final preview – Broadbeach vs. Morningside

AFTER nine regular season rounds and two enthralling weeks of finals, it all comes down to this. Undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach meets Morningside (2nd, 7-1) in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Grand Final on Saturday afternoon, and there is plenty of young talent primed to impact on the big stage.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns in action across the two best sides in the competition, including a bunch of Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy products. We take a look at who shone when the sides previously met in 2020, while also touching on the strengths of some budding AFL Draft prospects in action.

2020 QAFL Grand Final

Broadbeach vs. Morningside
Saturday, September 26 | 2:30pm
Leyshon Park, Yeronga

Previous meeting…

Round 9 – Broadbeach 13.16 (94) def. Morningside 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Broadbeach: C. Nutting 3, C. Cameron 3, J. Moncrieff 2, J. Fisher 2, R. Gilmore, B. Chadwick, B. Reeves
Morningside: L. Edwards 2, M. Hammelmann, S. Crozier, E. Mallan, B. Coleman

BEST:

Broadbeach: K. Boakye, E. Reeves, M. Lower, C. Cameron, B. Lowe, S. Mills
Morningside: W. Pendlebury, E. Mallan, L. Russ, R. William, B. Kethro, H. Joyce

It took until the final home-and-away round for the season’s two undefeated outfits to meet, with Broadbeach the side which would stand clear after a statement-making 50-point victory. The Cats’ range of scoring options ensure they pulled away strongly in the second half, overcoming some early woes in front of goal to put Morningside to the sword. Usual suspect and former Gold Coast forward Connor Nutting booted three goals in the winning effort, with fellow SUNS Academy graduate Ryan Gilmore and Bailey Reeves also hitting the scoreboard. For the Panthers, who showed plenty of room for improvement, current Brisbane Academy prospects Saxon Crozier and Blake Coleman also found the big sticks, but 24-year-old leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann was kept to just one major in a big tick for Broadbeach’s defence.

The finals journey…

After both earning a week’s rest as the top two ranked teams, the preliminary finals proved a relatively straightforward stage for either side. Broadbeach scrapped to beat Sherwood, who employed some defensive tactics, to the tune of 43 points to book its spot in the decider. It should prove a handy tune-up for the Cats as their defence held up well, though the finishing up forward could do with some sharpening. Meanwhile, Morningside held off a pesky Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) to advance via a 19-point victory. Crozier, Coleman, and Hammelmann were all again among the goals, but Victorian recruit Matthew McGannon was named best afield for his efforts through midfield. The Panthers will need another big effort from their forwards this coming Saturday.

Ones to watch…

A race against time will determine whether leading Queensland draft prospect Alex Davies returns to action for Broadbeach. The big-bodied inside midfielder has only managed one outing for the Cats in 2020, and is recovering from an elbow injury which saw him miss the Academy Series. It could be a risk to play him ahead of next month’s draft combine, but he would add clean extraction skills in what is usually the most hotly contested game of the season.

Conversely, another current SUNS Academy player in Aiden Fyfe promises to break the game open for Broadbeach, with his sharp ball use by foot and outside run making for valuable assets when the Cats are in need of a spark. Set to be stationed either off half-back or on the wing, Fyfe looms as a good counter to some of Morningside’s runners. Namely, Saxon Crozier‘s capacity to penetrate on the outer will be a key to much of the Panthers’ success, along with Blake Coleman‘s creativity in attack. Both make up two of the leading Lions Academy prospects for 2020, and have adjusted well to senior football.

Staying with the midfield battle, Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves has a good mix of ball-winning traits both inside and out, and should battle well against the likes of Toby Triffett and Matthew McGannon, two of Morningside’s prime movers. Up forward, livewire small Josh Gore will look to go big having turned heads in his over-age year. The SUNS Academy graduate should keep a Panthers defence which boasts Nathan Colenso busy alongside the likes of Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore. Both Gore and Nutting have booted 17 goals this season.

Tip: Broadbeach by 15

Featured Image: Broadbeach young guns Alex Davies and Josh Gore celebrate after a goal | Source: Russell Freeman Photography

QAFL Scouting notes: Semi-finals – Morningside and Broadbeach book spots in decider

IT was semi-final weekend in the QAFL, and the competition’s two best sides performed superbly after their week off. Broadbeach were far too good for Sherwood, keeping them to just four goals in a 43-point victory. Morningside led comfortably for the majority of their clash against Palm Beach Currumbin on the back of strong performances from Matthew McGannon, Nathan Colenso and William Pendlebury. They ran out 19-point winners, thus ending Palm Beach’s recent stranglehold on Grand Final day and setting up a blockbuster. It will be Morningside’s first QAFL decider since 2015, while the undefeated Broadbeach will be hoping to avenge their 2018 Grand Final defeat. When the two teams played each other earlier this month, Broadbeach got the chocolates with a thumping 50-point victory. This was a Broadbeach home game and Morningside’s only loss of the season to date, so fans should expect a closer contest next Saturday.

MORNINGSIDE:

#23 Blake Coleman

Coleman has had a fantastic draft year and put in another impressive performance against Palm Beach. The Brisbane Lions Academy prospect started the game on fire, kicking the first goal of the match just two minutes in. This came from a set shot after he earnt a free kick for a hold in a one-on-one contest deep inside forward 50. Coleman is such a dangerous threat in one-on-one situations because of his amazing combination of strength, speed and agility, so his defenders often panic in these situations and give away cheap free kicks. Coleman showed how skilled he is when he produced a brilliant handball in the first term on the up, out of congestion, to a teammate in the corridor. This started some great running play by his teammates and resulted in a goal. Coleman has great versatility too, because he can fly aerially with his fantastic leap or stay down and use his pace to crumb the contest. Despite predominantly being a forward, he usually also gets some midfield minutes because he is a clever stoppage player. However, he was not given many opportunities in the middle on Saturday.

#27 Saxon Crozier

This was one of the best games I have seen Crozier play, which speaks volumes given that it was a semi-final. He played his usual wing role and ran very hard to impact the contest offensively and defensively. Crozier pushed forward on multiple occasions to take uncontested marks inside 50 and earn shots at goal. Although he missed one shot in the first term, he made up for it with a lovely set shot in the third. Crozier’s great fitness level and willingness to push to the next contest made him very difficult for the opposition to stop, as he got a lot of handball receives and frequently found himself with plenty of space on the wings. He has clearly mastered the art of controlling possession as well, as he chipped the ball around a lot in the defensive half with teammates. This helped his side regain composure when Palm Beach started to get back into the game, and it was handy in the last quarter because it took some time off the clock. Crozier’s performance was fantastic and he will undoubtedly be one to watch in next week’s Grand Final.

#32 Nathan Colenso

Colenso had an outstanding game at half-forward for Morningside. He started the match with a beautiful front and centre crumb on the 50, and then quickly gave the ball on the up to a teammate running past. This early possession gave him some confidence, and it led to him flourishing for the rest of the match. His game style is very well suited to finals footy, as he shows a lot of aggression towards the contest and his opponents when they have the ball. This was highlighted when he laid a strong tackle in the forward half to earn a holding the ball decision in the first term. Colenso is a great long kick of the footy, as shown when he nailed a set shot from just inside the 50-metre arc. He followed this up just moments later by setting up another goal with a lovely weighted kick to a teammate. Throughout the day, Colenso applied some strong forward pressure and used his strength to shrug off tacklers and keep his feet after contact. His body use in marking contests was fantastic and he linked up well with other forwards, including Coleman and Liam Dwyer, to set up scoring opportunities. Colenso had a passage of play in the second quarter that was definitely one for the highlight reel. It started at half-back when he took the ball cleanly, drew an oncoming tackler and fed the handball inside to a teammate. He then pushed hard forward to get on the end of the play and kick an important goal for his side on the run. Colenso was a strong contributor for Morningside and he will be hoping to thrive once again in next week’s decider.

#35 Toby Triffett

Triffett had some good moments for Morningside in their victory. In the first term, he took a fantastic overhead mark on the wing whilst under pressure and linked up well with teammates to transition the ball forward. He spent time in the midfield throughout the day, where he read the ball nicely off the hands of the ruckmen and won some contested possessions and clearances. In the second half, he laid plenty of strong tackles and gave no space to his opponents at stoppages. He capped off the game with a smart kick inside 50 to find Dwyer in the last quarter for a scoring opportunity.

BROADBEACH:

#31 Aidan Fyfe

Fyfe is an athletic half-back that played his usual intercepting role beautifully for Broadbeach. He has a great leap and strong hands, and he sits off his opponent while getting into great positions behind the play so he can use these attributes to stop the opposition’s forward bursts. This was evident just before quarter time when he took a brilliant intercept mark in the middle of the ground and delivered the ball nicely to forward Jordan Moncrieff. Although Moncrieff’s marking attempt was well spoiled by a defender, the play still led to Broadbeach’s fourth goal of the day. Fyfe is a good ball user in defence, as he has an effective left foot kick and can also deliver cleanly on his right. He is a crafty player as well, which was shown when he cleverly snapped a pass around an opponent to find a teammate on the wing in the second quarter.

#35 Josh Gore

Gore was very lively up forward once again for the Cats. He applied some great forward pressure by using his electric pace and strong tackling ability. At forward 50 stoppages he frequently burst through the contest at speed and took opposition players with him, thus creating space for his teammates. Gore was also good at pushing up to the wings to provide a lead-up option for teammates coming out of defence. He was confident taking marks in the hands and his kicking was quite efficient. Gore only kicked one goal for the day, but it was an absolute gem in the second quarter. He drifted off his opponent into the pocket to take a nice mark, then he went back and kicked a difficult checkside from tight on the boundary. This gave Broadbeach a healthy lead and they never looked back.

#56 Bailey Reeves

Reeves had a solid impact for his team on the wing. He is one of the hardest runners offensively and defensively in the Broadbeach side, and his willingness to produce second, third and fourth efforts was on show once again in this game. This was particularly evident in the second quarter, when Reeves worked hard to get across and commit an important spoil inside his side’s attacking 50. He also regularly picked the ball up cleanly, held his own in marking contests and attacked the footy with ferocity. Although he did make some disposal errors as the day wore on, he never dropped his head and always worked to redeem himself at the next contest.

SHERWOOD:

#45 Jack Briskey

Briskey was one of Sherwood’s best performers on Saturday. He played as a deep defender for most of the match and was extremely reliable, frequently using his size and strength to win or halve one-on-one contests. Broadbeach were great at locking the ball in their forward half and getting repeat inside 50s, so Briskey and the other Sherwood defenders were under constant pressure all day. Despite this, Briskey continually stepped up for his team defensively. He always positioned himself well, gave his opponent no space to work with and saved some certain goals with fantastic spoils. Briskey also laid some strong tackles in the defensive 50, attacked the ball hard in congestion and provided an option for teammates to link up with coming out of defence. While his performance was mostly strong, Briskey did make some skill errors throughout the day. In the third term, he took a brilliant intercept mark in the defensive goal square but immediately turned the ball back over with a poor kick down the middle, luckily resulting in just a behind. In the final term, Briskey was pushed forward to give his side a strong leading option. He took some nice marks and provided a decent presence up there, but unfortunately it was too little too late for Sherwood.

Picture: RF Photography

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors weekend preview – Semi Finals

AFTER nine regular season rounds and a bumper elimination weekend, semi-finals time has arrived in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL). Week two of the postseason sees the top couple of sides return from a week off; as undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach hosts Sherwood (4th, 4-4), while Morningside (2nd, 7-1) takes on Palm Beach Currumbin (3rd, 6-2).

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns who will look to make a splash on the big stage this weekend. Get to know the prominent Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy players set to take the field, as well as the other young prospects who have impressed over the course of the season.

Semi Final 1:

Broadbeach vs. Sherwood
Saturday, September 19 | 2:30pm
Subaru Oval, Broadbeach

Sherwood will hope an upset is brewing when it travels to face undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach on Saturday. While the Cats were able to put their feet up in a well-earned bye week, the Magpies toiled for a five-point win in their knockout clash with Maroochydore. The competitive nature of the game should bode well for the underdogs, who could jump the highly-fancied hosts out the gates. Conversely, it could see Broadbeach come in the much fresher side.

The Cats’ bench is littered with young talent, headlined by prolific goalkicking small, Josh Gore. The crafty forward booted four majors in the Round 4 meeting between these two sides in 2020, so will again look to make a splash. Fellow Gold Coast SUNS Academy members Aiden Fyfe and Bailey Reeves join Gore on the five-man interchange, both top-aged prospects. Fyfe is a terrific user of the ball on the outer, while Reeves can play both sides of midfield and find plenty of the pill. 20-year-old SUNS Academy graduates Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore have both been named up forward for Broadbeach. Meanwhile, leading Queensland prospect Alex Davis remains on the sidelines with an elbow injury.

Over-age Brisbane Lions Academy gun Bruce Reville again takes his spot up on the wing for Sherwood, looking to provide plenty of drive going forward. Look for him to potentially rotate through the front six, or even into the centre bounces should the Magpies require a spark. Raw 20-year-old tall Samson Ryan will ply his trade in the ruck, with the ultra-athletic Jack Briskey set to provide some key position support from the bench. Fellow Lions Academy top-ager Connor Bulley has been named as an emergency for Sherwood.

Semi Final 2:

Morningside vs. Palm Beach Currumbin
Saturday, September 19 | 2:30pm
Jack Esplen Oval, Morningside

Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) will be tasked with completing a 52-point turnaround against Morningside since the two sides’ previous clash in Round 8, as they meet again at the semi-final stage. The Lions enjoyed a 50-plus point win of their own to advance to this stage, having finished just one game shy of the Panthers in third. Last week’s hitout puts PBC in winning form, but is hardly the competitive finals outing they may have sought before this clash.

A couple of leading Brisbane Lions Academy prospects – Blake Coleman and Saxon Crozier – again take their place in the Panthers’ side. Coleman will look to rotate forward off the bench, providing clean hands and speed at all levels. Crozier will ply his trade off half-back with a booming kick and outside run in his arsenal. Another academy product, Toby Triffett comes in on the bench alongside Coleman, while Nathan Colenso has been named at full back, and 20-year-old Gippsland Power graduate Matthew McGannon roams through midfield.

Exciting smalls Ethan Hunt and Liam O’Brien will look to provide plenty of drive for PBC on the outside, having both fit in on the Lions’ interchange alongside 19-year-old Ashton Crossley. Top-age Gold Coast Academy prospect Jack Johnston comes in at centre half-back and will have his hands full, while Riley Buckland is another to keep an eye on with his run and attack in the forward half. Former Northern Knight Jamison Shea, who averages over two goals per game, should also make an impact in the front six.

Featured Image: Blake Coleman hunts the ball for Morningside | Source: RF Photography

QAFL Player focus: Carter Michael (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

IN our latest edition of the Player Focus, we take a look at how Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Carter Michael fared in Maroochydore’s QAFL Elimination Final against Sherwood. Although his side went down by five points, Michael showed glimpses of why Brisbane fans should be excited about his potential. His strongest asset is his booming left foot kick, which makes him an ideal person to take the kick ins for his side. Most of his disposals in Saturday’s final came from kick ins as a result, but he had some effective moments in general play as well.

Q1:

Despite spending time in the midfield during last week’s clash, Michael started this game on his customary half-back flank. He was in the thick of the action straight away, running past for a handball receive that did not quite him as he would have liked. Once the ball hit the deck, he dove into congestion to cause a stoppage. He started the game with a defensive approach, as he stayed very tight on his opponent and did not run off to provide an attacking option as much as usual. At a stoppage in the defensive 50, Michael won a contested possession but was immediately tackled for a ball up. A few minutes later, he ran hard in transition to pick up a loose ball in defensive 50, got the arms free of an oncoming tackler and dished out a handball.

After a Sherwood behind, Michael took the kick in and used his booming left foot to get the ball to a contest just in behind centre wing, and it trickled over the boundary line. He tried to be more conservative with his next kick in by going short to the pocket, but uncharacteristically he missed his target and it went out on the full. With his next one, Michael chose to go long to a contest down the line. Sherwood kicked 14 points for the match and Michael received 11 or 12 extra kicks as a result.

Late in the quarter, Michael started to get more involved in the game. Shortly after laying a solid tackle in defensive 50 to stop Sherwood’s forward momentum and force a stoppage, he ran around the back of a teammate that received a free kick and delivered a beautiful short pass to a teammate leading up on the wing. When Sherwood next went inside 50, he flew as a third man up into a marking contest to spoil the ball nicely over the boundary line.

Q2:

Michael had a very quiet second term. He took a kick in at the seven-minute mark and went long down the middle and hit ruckman Jacob Simpson lace out. This kick was fantastic because it opened up the game for his side and cleared the defensive zone.

He also had a nice moment where he contested a mark at half-back, collected the ball with one take at ground level and then dished it forwards cleanly to two running teammates. This started a great passage of offensive transition play which resulted in a goal over the back of Sherwood’s defence. Although Michael did not have any impact for the remainder of the quarter, his side was playing well and went into half time with a 10-point lead.

Q3:

Michael took another kick in early in the third where he went long down the line. Although it was marked by the opposition, this was because his teammate did not read the flight of the ball well. From his next kick in a minute later, he went up the middle and found a teammate in the centre square in between three Sherwood players. This was an incredibly difficult kick to pinpoint, yet he had the confidence to go for it (in a tight elimination final, no less) and executed it effectively which was outstanding.

His next kick was from an out-on-the-full free kick in the back pocket, from which he cleared the defensive zone and found a teammate on the wing. Although most of his kicks were great, at this stage they were all coming from behinds or other free kicks, which showed that Michael was struggling to find his own footy in general play.

At the 11-minute mark, Michael ran back to take a nice intercept mark in front of Sherwood’s Zane Lovell. He followed it up by delivering a nice short kick to a teammate on the wing. From his next kick in, Michael smartly ran wide to push the defenders in that direction before pulling his kick straight down the corridor to find teammate Thomas Holt. It was very windy at this point, so Michael’s ability to hit a flat 50 metre kick was very handy for his side coming out of defence.

Michael went up for another intercept mark in defence shortly after, but he and his teammate got in each other’s way. Fortunately for them, the crumber for Sherwood only snapped a behind. With that kick in, he went long to a contest on the wing. A few minutes later, Michael got a handball receive and fumbled it, but cleaned up his own mess and handballed back to an open teammate.

There was a lot of spice in the game late in this quarter, and the ball was consistently locked in Maroochydore’s defensive 50. Sherwood failed to take their chances though, so Michael had a couple more kick ins where he just went long to one-on-one contests on the wing. He and the other defenders held up well under immense pressure and got their side to three quarter time with a 20-point lead.

Picture: RF Photography


Q4:

At the opening centre bounce of the final term, Michael came off the back of the square, collected the ball cleanly, used his pace to break away with a few quick steps and delivered the ball inside 50. This is the type of running play that Michael has done well in the last few weeks but did not do often on Saturday. After the next stoppage, Sherwood got the ball forward but Michael worked back to take the ball cleanly and dish it out the back to a teammate.

From a kick in, Michael found a teammate 50 metres away for an uncontested mark. This was an important kick to hit because Sherwood had just slotted back-to-back goals so his side was under the pump. At the 12-minute mark, Michael gave an important handball over the top to start a link-up chain for his side down the wing. Shortly after, he affected a spoil on his opponent that was leading up at the ball carrier. Michael had two more kick ins where he simply bombed it long down the line to a contest, which was definitely the safest option at the time given that his side was only up by a goal.

When Sherwood kicked another goal and took the lead, Maroochydore’s coaching staff immediately threw Michael into the midfield. This demonstrated how much trust they have in him as a young player, and he rewarded them by having a decent impact in there. He got a couple of quick touches, rushed an important kick forward and applied good body pressure on the opposition. On the back of good midfield work from Michael and others, Maroochydore had multiple shots on goal and took a one point lead late in the quarter. However, they could not capitalise on the hard work by kicking a goal.

Sherwood and former Brisbane Lions player Ryan Harwood then kicked a miraculous goal from a stoppage in Sherwood’s forward pocket to put them five points ahead. A few minutes later, the siren sounded and Sherwood ran out victors in a thriller.

Closing Thoughts:

Competing in an elimination final at League level will prove valuable experience for Michael, as this level of football is not something that many young prospects get exposed to. His skills were typically outstanding throughout the game, and there is no doubt that his left foot will be a major weapon at any level of football that he plays. He has shown in recent weeks that he is also a good contested player, but he did not get many opportunities to showcase this on Saturday. In saying that, it was great to see Michael get some midfield time late in the contest after his inspired bursts in that role last weekend. Although half-back is probably his strongest position at this stage, he has a great size and speed that could help him become a very effective midfielder in the years to come.

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