Category: Norwood

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Grand Final rematch opens season

AFTER a shorter-than-usual wait for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition to restart due to the delayed 2020 season, the eight sides are ready to go in 2021 starting tonight.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

What better way is there to open a new SANFL Women’s season than with a grand final rematch? The opening game of the double-header at Coopers Stadium sees North Adelaide take on South Adelaide in a massive clash. The Roosters will be able to unfurl the flag against the Panthers, which should give both teams plenty of motivation. It is worth noting that they will be without a number of AFL Women’s talents which means others will have the chance to step up in their place.

Full-forward Kelly Barltrop will be hungry for success after being unlucky to miss out on last year’s flag, while Kristi Harvey has been named at centre half-forward. With league best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard and leading goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland both playing for the Crows in the AFL Women’s the Roosters will need to look for others to play a role. Jaimi Tabb has crossed from the Eagles to Roosters, while Glenelg ruck revelation Soriah Moon will now pull on the Panthers’ jumper. Providing a formidable tag-team with Montana McKinnon, South should get first hands to it, and with a midfield containing the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell, they will be hard to beat.

Gypsy Schirmer is the young gun to watch from the Panthers with the half-forward an excitement machine, whilst the same can be said for reigning Rising Star Hannah Ewings who will have added responsibility this season. Throw in Leah Tynan and Lauren Daniel through the onball, and the likes of Cristie Castle and Brianna Arthur able to rotate between midfield and forward, and the Roosters have plenty of options. It will be great to see full-back Sarah Wright return for the Panthers, with both her and Lauren Clifton providing some great stability in the defence.

This match is hard to predict, with either team capable of getting up, and both have a great history of just getting the job done. Just for the home fans the edge might go to North, but there is something about the South lineup that looks ready to strike.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 8.15pm
Coopers Stadium

The second match of the double-header is predicted to be just as good, with reigning preliminary finalists West Adelaide locking horns with the side they dispelled in the elimination final, Norwood. West Adelaide have a huge opportunity to make the next step up, with such a large contingent of state league players remaining at the club, and then bringing in some serious talent such as key defender Sharnie Whiting from Carlton.

The youth of West Adelaide cannot be stated enough, with Zoe Venning a standout in terms of this year, and then over the next two years, the Bloods have Keeley Kustermann and then Lauren Young respectively who both loom as great talents. Venning will start off half-forward and look to push into the midfield, while Kustermann will form a new partnership with South Adelaide’s Natalie Gibbs off half-back with Madison Newman likely to have Crows AFL Women’s duties this season. The 15-year-old Young has been thrown into the deep end to start in the midfield, potentially on the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

Norwood have an array of young talent themselves, with Alana Lishmund named on a wing, and Jade Halfpenny surprisingly named in defence after making her name as a leading forward predominantly last season. Tesharna Maher is a new name in the Norwood line-up, having crossed from Eagles over the break. Melanie Elsegood is a player to stop for West, with the Norwood defence looking strong, as Isabel Martin has been named back there, while the likes of Jess Macolino will come off the bench to have an impact.

West Adelaide could well be the team to beat this season, and therefore should be favourites in this game, but Norwood has some exciting young talents as well to watch out for, in what should be an entertaining game.

STURT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 27 @ 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Fast forward to Saturday and two sides looking to make a strong start to the season after missing finals do battle in Sturt and Glenelg. The Double Blues were actually strong defensively last season, but they just struggled to score at times, whilst the Bays were ultra-impressive in some games, and then just not themselves in others, so will be eyeing off some consistency in 2021. It will be a big game for Caitlyn Swanson who has cross from the Double Blues to the Bays this season and will come off the bench in Round 1.

Glenelg has some some developing talents to watch out for, with top-ager Brooke Tonon alongside over-ager Madisyn Freeman at half-forward. They will be looking to create some run and carry going inside 50, with the likes of Tamsyn Morriss and Sam Franson transitioning from the wings. Looking strong as outside movers, Tessa Kohn has been slotted in at half-back after being predominantly an inside midfielder last season, while Lucy Armitage will never take a backwards step and is also in defence. Without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones the Bays will need other midfielders to step up, but they have the depth there.

The Double Blues have some of the best young talent running around, and the depth through the key position options is showing, with Zoe Prowse now running around as a midfielder instead of ruck. The 180cm talent has the athleticism to beat much smaller opponents, and she will provide a point of difference at ground level. Alex Ballard looks set for a move into the midfield, while other over-agers such as Hannah Prenzler (half-back) and Isobel Kuiper (half-forward) will be better for another season. Add in top-ager Georgia Swan at centre half-forward, and the inclusion of Eagles’ Chloe Forby, and the Double Blues are starting to build some firepower.

It will be another tough match to pick, and without Georgia Bevan – having been picked up late to Gold Coast Suns – more will fall to the likes of Maya Rigter for Sturt, but they have the young talent to get it done. One cannot discount Glenelg though, as they have some great outside movers.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

The final match of the round takes place with Central District hosting Woodville-West Torrens in a battle of the league’s two newest clubs. Though now into their third seasons, both the Bulldogs and Eagles are becoming well established, and if 2020 is anything to go off, they should be more competitive again. Without a heap of AFL Women’s talent last season, both these sides are well adapted to being without that top level experience, which puts them in good stead to have plenty of developing young guns coming through the programs.

The Bulldogs were one of the more exciting teams in 2020 even if their results may not have shown it. They were willing to run the ball forward, and with the need for speed, were taking it up to sides. Latiah Huynh is a perfect example of the way the Dogs play – with speed and tenacity, as well as confidence – and teaming up with fellow youngster Lauren Breguet in the forward half, Central District will look to share the load outside of notable goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig. Eagles’ key position utility Kiana Lee has been named at full-back with Anastasia Falkenberg another reliable talent in defence, as is Jamie Parish.

The midfield battle will be just as intriguing with new captain and reigning best and fairest winner Shelby Smith leading the Bulldogs onball, and the likes of Caitlen Teague and Lauren Smith in there. A couple of experienced recruits in Paige Allan and Nicole Mark among those inclusions into the Bulldogs’ line-up, while Madison Lane is a top-age talent with reliable foot skills from defence, while Demi Sonneman is always one to watch coming out of the back 50. A big inclusion for the Eagles is former South Adelaide raw ruck/forward prospect Brooklyn Kraft who will make her debut amongst a host of new faces coming out of the local leagues, while Kiley Green has made the move from the ACT and been named at centre-half back. Charlotte Dolan and Jovanka Zecevic are others to keep an eye on in the match for the Eagles.

Central District has beefed up its side in 2021, with more experience to settle the youth down and the Dogs could start favourite in this one, though the Eagles are always tough to score against.

Picture credit: SANFL

SANFLW season preview: Norwood

NEW Norwood women’s coach Mat Creeper will be eager to get his SANFLW career off to a bright start when his side kicks off their 2021 season later this month.

The Redlegs have been a consistently strong outfit throughout the entirety of the competition’s existence, claiming the inaugural premiership in 2017 and qualifying for the finals in all four seasons.

Creeper, who worked as Senior Women’s Assistant Coach at the Collingwood Football Club last season, said he was pleased with the clubs off-season, despite being forced to deal with a COVID-related setback prior to the Christmas break.

“The girls have been working very hard since the start of November,” Creeper said. “We capped off our first six-week block with a training camp to the Yorke Peninsula which was well received. “I’m confident to say that most (players) are fitter than they have ever been. We managed to navigate the short interruption prior to Christmas really well, the whole squad was given a program to adhere to in the down time which was challenging but at the same time was completed by all, which allowed us to keep progressing forward without missing a beat upon return.”

The Redlegs were knocked out in the first week of finals by West Adelaide last season – a frustrating defeat considering the side’s agonising preliminary final loss to North Adelaide in 2019.

However Creeper said he felt confident the squad has what it takes to make it all the way this season.

“There are a number of girls who are primed for big seasons, our ruck Leah Cutting is in career best shape and defender Shai Hiscock has been like a wrecking ball thus far,” Creeper said. “New vice-captain Elisha Gallagher is super fit and has bulked up, she looks set for a breakout year and Isabel Martin has taken her game to a new level.”

Creeper identified Jess Macolino, Tesharna Maher, Sarah Branford, Jade Halfpenny, Liz Drake and Morgan Johnston as being among the names to watch out for as the season progresses.

With an established contingent of stars, Creeper also highlighted the squads youth, led by exciting midfielder/forward Alana Lishmund, who is expected to play a prominent role after impressing in her first season at the level last year.

“We have a large portion of returning players, fantastic new recruits plus a solid group of juniors, so our expectation from the outset has been to come together quickly, learn, grow and succeed together,” Creeper said. “We’re always looking for improvement week-in-week-out, so if we can achieve that then we will take greater steps in our development which will lead to greater success.”

Although the club is tipped to make their fifth straight finals appearance, Creeper insists his side “isn’t looking too far past round one”.

“We’re setting our focus on one week at a time,” said Creeper. “We’ve created the pathway for where we would like to be and the process of how to get there, but we are firmly focused on one step at a time. We would like to think that we’ve created a quality list that is capable of being a major player at the pointy end of the season.”

The Redlegs will be seeking revenge over West Adelaide when the clubs meet under the lights of Coopers Stadium on the opening night of the season (February 26).

SANFLW Academy Ones to Watch: North Adelaide and Norwood

IN the second of four SANFL Women’s Ones to Watch, we take a look at those North Adelaide and Norwood players inside the South Australian Under-19 State Academy, and what they could offer to their club.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

Kate Case
Forward | Top-ager

A real lively player with plenty of upside, Case is a danger inside 50 and complements an already strong outfit. She is able to find the space and create scoring opportunities, and in 2021 with a lot of the Roosters’ experience heading back to the AFL Women’s, Case has a chance to step up and become a crucial cog in the forward half, and even push up and impact the midfield when required. There will be plenty of ball going inside 50, so Case can use her goal nous to be a consistent scorer.

Julia Clark
Defender/Forward | Over-ager

Having been played at both ends, Clark prefers defence where she can read the ball coming in and nullify her opponent. Building her confidence over time, Clark has the attacking streak in her, but is strong defensively, and often locks down on her opponent to take them out of the game. She uses the ball well and makes good decisions, and once she is able to build on her efforts in 2020, the reliable distributor will be a key chain out of the back 50 for the reigning premiers.

Jorja Eldridge
Utility | Over-ager

A country talent who forced her way into the Roosters outfit last season, Eldridge hails from Whyalla and showed in her glimpses that she could compete at the top level. Much like the other young guns running round in the red and white, Eldridge could have much more of an impact in season 2021. She told Draft Central last year about her move to Adelaide ahead of this year for study, and it will reduce the travel as well as continue to build on her fundamental skills to match her fantastic athletic ability.

Hannah Ewings
Midfielder | Bottom-ager

The reigning SANFL Women’s Rising Star is the best young talent in the competition and a name which will continue to rise once the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships are here. Boasting ridiculous talents of athleticism, skill and smarts, Ewings showed since making her debut at 15-years-old that she can compete against players twice her age. Having started forward and then rolled through the midfield, Ewings has high X-factor, a booming kick and is incredibly strong overhead. She can burst out of a stoppage, shrug off opponents and then create goal-scoring opportunities out of nothing. Still not at her draft-eligible year, Ewings will become the key playmaker in the midfield with Anne Hatchard and other Crows spending more time at AFL Women’s level.

Andie Zbierski
Defender | Over-ager

Another Whyalla prospect in the Academy alongside Eldridge and Ewings, Zbierski was able to play in the All-Stars match last season. Whilst travel and injuries have been a challenge for the now over-ager, she is looking to impact at SANFL Women’s level this year after not yet cracking in for a debut. She is a natural defender, and will add more talent to a back six that was already stingy in last year’s premiership tilt.

NORWOOD:

Sarah Branford
Midfielder | Top-ager

Formerly a train-on soccer player with Adelaide United, the talented teenage star is one who is making waves in the preseason according to new coach Mat Creeper. He said speaking to SANFL Radio, she was looking to play midfield and hone her craft in there following a decision to take up Australian rules football. She is a new face who could slot in to a midfield that has added more youth over the past couple of seasons.

Jade Halfpenny
Forward | Over-ager

A tall marking forward with clean hands, Halfpenny is one who showed plenty of potential in her top-age year last year. A former basketballer who has taken to the oblong-ball game like a duck to water, she is someone who could play at either end, or push up into the midfield. Halfpenny said chatting to Draft Central last season that she was keen to improve “everything”, there is plenty of scope for improvement from the teenager who could be a key target for the Redlegs in 2021.

Alana Lishmund
Utility | Top-ager

The Redlegs most impressive top-ager, Lishmund played in the All-Stars game last year as a bottom-ager. She can play forward or through the midfield, but has the traits to play anywhere on the ground and is a real X-factor inside 50. She has a fierce attack on the football with high tackling numbers, and is just looking to maintain her one-percenters. Likely to gain some more midfield minutes in 2021, expect the left-footer to use her pace and skill to impact games for extended periods of time.

Jess Williams
Forward | Top-ager

A member of the Port Adelaide Female Talent Next Generation Academy, Williams is one to watch this year looking to step up to senior level in 2021, though is currently recovering from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury. Playing for Hectorville Football Club, Williams plays primarily as an inside midfielder who can also go forward with a great blend of power and skill in her game.

Picture credit: AFL Media

Lishmund looks to the one-percenters

NORWOOD youngster Alana Lishmund hardly looked out of place last year in her debut SANFL Women’s season. In 2021, the exciting midfielder-forward is turning towards the one-percenters and focusing on her strengths as she strives to become one of South Australia’s next AFL Women’s products.

“Personally, (my goal is) to just keep up the one-percenters,” Lishmund said. “Then looking towards the end of the year, it’s just getting drafted.”

The Hope Valley junior has juggled multiple sporting commitments in the past but has now “cut it back”, focusing on the native code through Norwood’s development program.

“I’ve been playing (football) for about five years,” she said. “I started off locally at Hope Valley and then I’ve been at Norwood for a couple of years coming up through their development program.

“Before this year I played two sports and I was juggling that, but this year I kind of cut it back because I used to play soccer.”

Lauded for her ability to play both deep forward and further afield, Lishmund brings plenty of X-factor to the table with punishing tackling pressure and an eye for goal. Her performance rotating through the forwardline in last year’s South Australia Under 18 Girls All-Star fixture was a particular highlight, putting her on the draft radar in 2021.

While Lishmund has found success in those areas of the ground, says she is happy to play “anywhere”, with a couple of key strengths aiding that kind of versatility.

“I usually like to be rover, so in the centre,” she said. “But (I can play) really anywhere, up forward or on the wing too.

“As a left footer, I know not many people have that so that’s kind of a strength of mine. “I’ve got some pace as well, (I’m) pretty fast.”

Off the field, Lishmund describes herself as a “pretty outgoing, friendly, bubbly” character and it shows in her vigour once the white line is crossed. Honest could be another descriptor, especially after her assessment of how preseason fitness testing panned out.

“Going through everything we had to do, I was very happy with it,” she said. “I was a bit ripped off in a couple of runs when it came to the yo-yo, but all good other than that.”

Lishmund and her Redlegs are set to kick off their 2021 SANFL Women’s season against West Adelaide at Coopers Stadium on Friday, February 26. The first bounce is at 7:45pm.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

Out to impress: SANFL Grand finals

A HOST of teenaged and mature-aged draft prospects will be in action on grand final weekend of the 2020 SANFL season. At league level, the minor premiers, Woodville-West Torrens will be looking to win the clubs first Thomas Seymour Hill Trophy since 2011. But standing in their way are the 2018 premiers, North Adelaide, who booked their place in the decider with a 15-point win over the Eagles a fortnight ago.

Potential top ten draft pick Lachie Jones will once-again be expected to curtail one of the Roosters dangerous forwards. Jones has caught the attention of recruiters across the nation for his performances at senior level this year. The strong-bodied defender has been named on the half-back flank and provides plenty of flexibility for Eagles coach Jade Sheedy. Fellow youngsters Jacob Wehr and Rhyan Mansell have also been key components of the league’s most dour defensive unit.

Clare product Lachie McNeil has been a revelation through the midfield for Woodville-West Torrens, providing the side with plenty of run and carry between the arcs. North Adelaide simply must restrict the influence of superstar small forward James Rowe if senior coach Jacob Surjan is to win a flag in his first season at the helm. Rowe, who was the joint leading goalkicker during the minor rounds, broke open last weekend’s preliminary final by booting three goals in under seven minutes to start the second half. AFL recruiters will no doubt be eager to see him perform in the biggest game of the season.

With question marks looming over the fitness of dependable backman Tanner Smith, the Roosters have named young key defender Dyson Hilder on the extended bench. If selected, he would team up in defence with fellow teenager Karl Finlay, who has impressed in his first full season at senior level.

The Roosters and Eagles will also do battle in the reserves grand final, set to take place earlier in the afternoon. After finishing the home and away season in second place, the Eagles beat minor premiers Central Districts by 22 points in the semi final to earn a spot in the decider. It has been a longer road for the men from Prospect, who narrowly beat Sturt then overcame the Bulldogs to make it to the final weekend.

Eastern-suburbs rivals Sturt and Norwood have been the pace-setters of the SANFL under-18 competition all season, and have both thoroughly deserved their place in the grand final. The midfield battle looms integral to the outcome of this one, with both clubs boasting a host of draft prospects. The Double Blues will be led by consistent on-ballers Tom Powell, Mani Liddy and Will Spain, while the Norwood on-ball brigade is headlined by pocket-rocket Henry Nelligan, gut-runner Jack Saunders and arguably the competitions best ruckman, Nathan Hearing.

Sturt will be relying heavily upon talented bottom-ager Morgan Ferres, who has been named at centre-half-forward. Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase will line-up on the forward flank, but could easily be thrown down back if the Redlegs start to get on top. Defenders Malachy Carruthers and skipper Ned Walter will be hoping to control proceedings down back, as they have done all season.

Meanwhile, Norwood’s Finn Heard has been the competitions best key forward for much of the season and will demand plenty of attention from the Sturt defenders. Talented tall Ned Carey has also been included in the Redlegs side, along with skilful utility Michael Cavallaro and speedy bottom-ager Cooper Murley, who finished second in the McCallum Tomkins Medal voting earlier in the week, behind the aforementioned Powell.

FIXTURES

League:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 18, 3:00pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 18, 11:30am @ Adelaide Oval

Under-18s:

Norwood vs. Sturt | Saturday October 17, 11:30am @ Thebarton Oval

South Australian draftees double as AFL Women’s lists are finalised

FOUR more South Australians made their way onto AFL Women’s lists over the last 48 hours to round out the last of the players to enter the competition for 2021. Norwood’s Bella Smith, South Adelaide’s Tahlia Meyer and North Adelaide duo, Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci were all offered AFL Women’s contracts as part of the post-draft selections.

Smith was the first to be announced as an additional signing following the four passes from the AFL Women’s Draft, chosen to reunite with former Redlegs coach, Steve Symonds at Collingwood. Earlier yesterday, Meyer filled the vacant spot at St Kilda, whilst both Ward and Gauci prepared to head west as they were signed by West Coast.

The quartet followed on from Teah Charlton, Rachelle Martin and Ashleigh Woodland (Adelaide) and Indy Tahau (Brisbane) who were drafted on Tuesday night. It meant eight South Australians were drafted, with grand finalists, North Adelaide and South Adelaide making up three apiece, with one each from the other finalists, West Adelaide and Norwood.

Smith is a reliable key position player who can fill a role at either end, though has predominantly played as a centre half-back this season. Her strength overhead and ability to clunk grabs has been a highlight for her, playing in her second season at the level after coming through the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships where she represented the Central Allies.

Meyer was one of the most underrated players in the SANFL Women’s competition with her ability to link up in transition superb. She did not always win as much of the footy as others, but rarely wasted it, with her ability to hit those 45-degree kicks going inside 50. Her skill and decision making was superb and she has very much earned a place at the top level.

Ward is a tall defender who like Smith, was strong in the air and has a great ability to rebound. After an impressive top-age year last year, the North Adelaide defender took her game to another level in 2020, and along with her intercepting ability was able to utilise her penetrating kick to advantage. Still a teenager, Ward is only one year out of the draft class and showed the benefits of playing an extra year at senior level.

Gauci has become another reliable defender for the Roosters, with her slick footskills often used coming out of defence. She has proven to be a talented ball winner and one that teammates are happy to get the ball in the hands of. A member of the stringent Roosters’ back six, Gauci is also capable of playing up the field, and will provide some reliability with ball-in-hand.

Overall the four inclusions to the AFL Women’s provide their respective clubs with readymade players and will no doubt do everything to stake their case for a Round 1 spot. Furthermore it shows the talent on show in the SANFL Women’s and why it is such a prestigious competition.

Picture: West Coast Eagles Twitter

2020 AFLW Draft review: Collingwood Magpies

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with Collingwood, a side that reached finals for the first time in its history last year and aimed to target height, as well as speed and class, in this year’s draft.

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 – Bella Smith (Norwood/Central Allies)

Collingwood had another fairly big off-season with a number of changes including the departures of Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan, whilst bringing in Aliesha Newman and Abbey Green from Melbourne and North Melbourne respectively. The changes – which included a number of retirements – allowed the Magpies to end up with five picks in the draft. Knowing their father-daughter selection in Tarni Brown was a top 10 pick on value, the Magpies traded back to gain extra value out of matching the bid, and then worked their way into have four more picks in the space of nine selections. This year they had a Vic Metro focus, taking talls Western Jets’ Amelia Velardo and Sandringham Dragons’ Abbi Moloney, while also selecting Oakleigh Chargers’ Joanna Lin. Passing on their last selection, the Pies then went and picked up Bella Smith from Norwood to provide some extra height up either end as the interstate recruit.

Brown was long touted as a prospect to follow in the footsteps of her famous father Gavin, and brothers Callum and Tyler and join the Magpies. With superb athleticism and an ability to shrug tackles, she is clearly one of the standout prospects in the AFL Women’s Draft and represents huge value for Collingwood at Pick 19. She is one who could step right up to play at the top level sooner rather than later.

Another player who has been playing most of their life is Moloney, with the Dragons tall a strong mark and had a great start to the NAB League season booting eight goals in three games. She could have been a father-daughter selection to the Western Bulldogs thanks to father Troy playing with Footscray, but has instead made her way to the Holden Centre. She becomes that additional tall target along with Velardo, who by comparison, has had very little time in the sport. She only started last year when choosing to train with the Western Jets over continuing her basketball career and it paid off with a couple of big games for the Jets in 2020. She played as an undersized ruck but expect her to be a forward/midfielder for the Magpies.

Lin has also been a relative newcomer to the sport, with only a couple of seasons in NAB League after a season at local level. She has come on in leaps and bounds, and uses the ball well and creates run in transition from half-back to the wing and going forward. A player you can trust with ball-in-hand, she adds some more class to the line-up alongside Brown. Finally, Smith’s addition as another tall provides versatility for former and now reunited coach Steve Symonds, who chose the Norwood prodigy as an option to throw either back or forward. She has had an enormous season at centre half-back for the Redlegs which could free up others at Collingwood to go forward, but she can also play as that leading target too.

Collingwood has been able to address its needs out of this draft, with some established football names, as well as some newcomers, and expect them to all set the standard during the off-season.

Out to impress: SANFL Semi Finals

TEENAGE sensation Lachlan Jones will return to the Eagles senior side for their semi-final clash with North Adelaide. The Port Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect rolled his ankle in Woodville-West Torrens’ round 13 victory over West Adelaide, preventing him from taking part in the final match of the minor round. Jones did not test in the South Australian draft combine during the week out of precaution, but is expected to make his return after being named on the half-back flank.

Fellow teenager Ben Jungfer is also a possibility of taking part in his first SANFL finals series, having performed well in the senior side since debuting in Round 13. He has been named on the extended interchange, along with Tasmanian defender Rhyan Mansell. 

Roosters defender Karl Finlay is also set to get a taste of finals action when he lines up at full-back for Jacob Surjan‘s men. Fellow tall Dyson Hilder has been named on the extended bench.

Canberra import Tom Highmore has been named at centre-half-back for South Adelaide when they take on the reigning premiers, Glenelg, in the second game of an Adelaide Oval double-header. Exciting small forward Beau McCreery has been named in the forward pocket after he wasn’t risked for the clubs final minor round match. 17-year-old future star Jason Horne has been included on the extended bench.

Meanwhile, Glenelg defender Luke Parks (back pocket) and utility Callum Park (wing) have both been named on the field for the Tigers as they look to defend their crown.

Sturt defender and Adelaide Next Generation Academy prospect James Borlase has been included in Sturt’s reserves side for their clash with North Adelaide at X Convenience Oval on Saturday morning, alongside wingman Josh Shute and key forward Tom Emmett.

Ball-magnet Tom Powell will return to Sturt’s under-18s side for their semi-final clash with Norwood, after he missed last weekend’s encounter with Glenelg and the draft combine testing with calf tightness. He will re-join the consistent Mani Liddy and Will Spain in the engine room for the minor premiers. Malachy Carruthers has been named on the half-back flank and exciting bottom-ager Morgan Ferres at centre-half-forward.

The Redlegs have also named a strong side for the all-important clash with their eastern suburbs rivals. Prolific pocket-rocket Henry Nelligan and dynamic goal-kicker Jack Saunders will lead the Norwood midfield unit into battle, supported by bottom-ager Cooper Murley and classy utility Michael Cavallaro. Gun forward Finn Heard will provide a dangerous target in attack, having booted 20 goals in just six games during the minor rounds. At the opposite end of the ground, the club will be hoping defensive duo Daniel Fairbrother and Sam Duke can intercept and set-up the play for the Redlegs off half-back using their clean foot skills.

The Eagles under-18s have named a settled line-up for their semi-final with South Adelaide. Power father-son prospect Taj Schofield performed strongly at the combine during the week and has been named in the forward pocket, alongside tall Henry Smith (centre-half-forward) and club leading goalkicker Jack Wheare (half-forward flank). Caleb Poulter has been named in the centre, with ruckman Zac Phillips, bottom-aged ball-magnet Jase Burgoyne and the consistent Max Lister also named in the starting midfield rotation.

South Adelaide draft bolter Brayden Cook will be looking to replicate his match-winning performance the last time the clubs met, back in Round 8. Cook, who booted a competition-high 26 goals in 12 minor-round games, has been named on the wing, with versatile AFL Academy member Nick Kraemer selected at half-forward. The Panthers will also be hoping dynamic bottom-ager Arlo Draper (forward pocket) and the talented Liam Hamilton (half-forward flank) can help the club kick a winning score. After winning 33 disposals in his first under-18s game of the year last weekend, Zac Dumesny will provide the side with flexibility and skill. Will Verrall is set to lead the ruck division, with 17-year-old Matthew Roberts and the big-bodied Harry Spacie to do the roving.

FIXTURES

League:

South Adelaide vs. Glenelg | Sunday October 4, 12:15pm @ Adelaide Oval
Woodville-West Torrens vs. North Adelaide | Sunday October 4, 3:15pm @ Adelaide Oval

Reserves:

Sturt vs. North Adelaide | Saturday October 3, 11:00am @ X Convenience Oval
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday October 3, 1:30pm @ X Convenience Oval

Under-18s:

Woodville-West Torrens vs. South Adelaide | Saturday October 3, 11:00am @ Thebarton Oval
Sturt vs. Norwood | Saturday October 3, 1:30pm @ Thebarton Oval

Out to impress: SANFL Round 14 Preview

THE final round of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) action is here, with a host of young talent looking to impress for what could potentially be the final time on the field this year.

Bloods midfielder Bailey Chamberlain has been forced to wait patiently for his League debut after being named in the selected side for several weeks without managing to make the final cut. However, the draft hopeful from Roxby Downs has been named on the wing for West Adelaide’s final game of the season. Joining him in the senior side is defender Jye Sinderberry, who is also in line to make the step up to League level after spending time in the reserves and under-18s throughout the season. Strong overhead for his size, Sinderberry has been named on the half-back flank for the Bloods’ Friday night clash with Norwood at The Parade.

Promising key forward Luke Young will lead the Bloods forward-line into battle for one last time in 2020 when they take on the Redlegs at ACH Group Stadium in the under-18 competition, The Faulkner-brothers, Ed and Thomas, will also front-up for West Adelaide, alongside promising bottom-aged midfielder Cade Kennedy and hard-nosed defender Edward Van den berg.

Norwood teenager Daniel Fairbrother has performed well at senior level since debuting several weeks ago. Although he has been excluded from the Redlegs League side due to personal reasons, the defender has been included in the club’s under-18 squad. With the Redlegs well-placed ahead of the under-18 finals series, Fairbrother will reunite with midfield trio Jack Saunders, Cooper Murley and Henry Nelligan. Dominant key forward Finn Heard and defenders Alastair Lord and Michael Cavallaro will also front-up for the Redlegs, who boast an impressive core group.

Woodville-West Torrens teenager Ben Jungfer has retained his place in the Eagles side as they look to continue their winning ways against the Bulldogs before tackling the finals series. The Northern Territory native and Sacred Heart College product performed well on debut last week, winning 19 disposals and looking comfortable against seasoned campaigners.

The Eagles won’t risk potential top ten draft pick Lachie Jones, who suffered a slight ankle injury in the resounding victory over West Adelaide last round. Woodville-West Torrens have named a strong under-18s side for their clash with the Bulldogs. Currently sitting in third place on the ladder with eight wins, the Eagles’ league-high percentage sees them perched narrowly above the Roosters and Panthers, who will go head-to-head in a tantalising match-up at Prospect Oval.

Despite playing in the All Schools Grand Final with Henley High School during the week, Taj Schofield, Jase Burgoyne and Zac Phillips will all be expected to play a major role, as will Caleb Poulter, who returns to the side after spending a couple of weeks with the reserves.

Victorian Jack Toner has been named on the bench for Central Districts when they take on the high-flying Eagles at their native Elizabeth Oval. Lachlan Grubb will again play with the Bulldogs reserves, who sit at the top of the ladder approaching the finals. At under-18s level, imposing ruckman Wyatt Ryan, highly-impressive 16-year-old Austin McDonald and smooth-moving on-baller Luigi Mondello will do battle for the final time this season, missing out on a finals berth despite victory over Glenelg last weekend.

Sturt wingman Josh Shute could play his first League game in the famous double blue when the club locks horns with Glenelg at the friendly confines of Peter Motley Oval. However, James Borlase will not feature at any level this round, after leading Prince Alfred College to victory during the week. The Double Blues under-18s will be without ball-magnet Tom Powell for their ACH Group Stadium encounter with the Tigers. In his absence, Mani Liddy and Will Spain will look to continue their strong seasons as the side readies itself for finals football.

Glenelg have promoted speedster Xavier Robins to the reserves after he impressed upon returning to the SANFL ranks in the loss to Central Districts. He joins fellow draft-hopefuls Cooper Horsnell, Luke Edwards, Hagan Wright and school-mate Riley Holder in the squad. Following a standout showing in the All Schools competition with Prince Alfred College, Harry Tunkin will look to back it up at under-18s level, alongside Cooper Beecken, Harry McInnes and Nasiah Wanganeen.

In the final match of the home and away season, the Panthers will host fellow finalists North Adelaide. South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne will miss the match with a calf strain, but defender Tom Highmore has been named to return to the side after he missed last round with a minor thigh issue. With the Panthers under-18s required to beat the Roosters in order to qualify for the finals, utility Zac Dumesny has returned to play his first under-18s game of the year. Named on the interchange bench, he joins the likes of match-winning forward Brayden Cook, impressive bottom-aged midfielder Matthew Roberts, ball-winner Max Clifton and forward-flankers Liam Nye and Liam Hamilton in the selected side.

The Roosters have thrown their support behind the tall defensive duo Karl Finlay and Dyson Hilder, who have both spend considerable time at League level this season. The white-hot North under-18s have named a settled side for their must-win clash. James Willis, Matthew Borg and Jayden Davison will do much of the heavy-lifting in the midfield, with the likes of Kyle Brazell and Zyton Santillo looking to wreak havoc on the wings and up forward. Crows Academy duo Lam Simon and Blayne O’Loughlin will hold back the fort in defence, leaving the dangerous Tariek Newchurch, strong-marking key forward Leo Coates and talented small Kallis Freer to impact the scoreboard in attack. The ruck combination of Adam Heath and Isaac Keeler is also set to play a major role in what shapes up as a thrilling contest.

FIXTURES

League:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 7:40pm @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 2:10pm @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 2:20pm @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 2:15pm @ Flinders University Stadium

Reserves:

Norwood vs. West Adelaide | Friday September 25, 5:00am @ Coopers Stadium
Central Districts vs. Woodville-West Torrens | Saturday September 26, 11:15am @ X Convenience Oval
Sturt vs. Glenelg | Saturday September 26, 11:40am @ Peter Motley Oval
South Adelaide vs. North Adelaide | Sunday September 27, 11:35am @ Flinders University Stadium

Under-18s:

West Adelaide vs. Norwood | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ ACH Group Stadium
Woodville-West Torrens vs. Central Districts | Saturday September 26, 11:00am @ Prospect Oval
Glenelg vs. Sturt | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ ACH Group Stadium
North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide | Saturday September 26, 1:25pm @ Prospect Oval

Halfpenny continues Norwood family legacy in search of dream

TALENTED forward Jade Halfpenny never thought of herself as following her father Warren into Australian rules football, but her switch from basketball to Australian rules football enabled her to become one of a number of special family ties in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

A number of players made their debuts in Round 1 of 2020 donning the colours that their famous fathers did such as Bek Rasheed (North Adelaide) and Shelby Smith (Central District). But then 17-years-old Halfpenny was the youngest of the trio and she could hardly believe her luck at being selected.

It was pretty exciting,” Halfpenny said. “It’s not something I really expected or ever really considered until the past year or so but it was always kind of assumed that my younger brother would be the one to go on and do that so it was pretty exciting and hopefully he can get up there too.”

Her journey through football has been relatively recent compared to many other South Australian State Under 18s Academy members, having only played for a few years, but made a rapid rise through the pathway.

I started in 2017 at Golden Grove Football Club,” Halfpenny said. “I played in the Under 16s there for a couple years and then I started playing in the A-Grade and then through that I was doing the Under 17s Development Squad at Norwood. “Then last year was my third year in the development squad and they asked me to come out for the senior side so I started with them and then played every round this season in the SANFL and from that went into the Under 18s State squad.”

Naming North Adelaide and Crows star Anne Hatchard as her toughest opponent this season, Halfpenny admitted it was “pretty intimidating” knowing some of the players she would come up against in the SANFL Women’s competition.

“You know some of the legacies that were in there, but I guess everyone is there for a reason and I just had to keep reminding myself that I could do it and I can put it up to them and it’s really an honour with and against them,” she said.

Not expecting to play a game, Halfpenny instead did not miss one, playing all 11 games including the cutthroat finals loss to West Adelaide. In those games, the strong marking forward was able to roam between midfield and the forward 50, rarely losing a one-on-one contest. Along with her football, Halfpenny has always been an active basketball player, something she believes helps lend itself to the game of Aussie rules.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was six I think, so a long time,” she said. “It has always been the plan to kind of see as far as I can go with that and then footy came into the picture. “I still play basketball but footy’s more of the priority now. “Basketball has obviously helped footy with the athleticism and contact and the body strength has been really helpful with footy.

“I think one major thing is handling the ball,” she said. “I’ve been told that I look like a basketballer when I go for a mark. “That’s just the ability to take a mark and grab the ball and intercept and stuff like that has come from basketball. “As well as just the body strength, just holding an opponent and using your body to defend.”

Halfpenny’s strength is her marking, though she said she is always looking to improve even further, but her ability to read the ball in flight and position herself well also helps. As for what she is looking to improve on, the Norwood teenager was blunt.

Everything honestly,” Halfpenny said. “I’d like to get fitter which obviously that aids with everything. Just getting a bit more precise with my kicking. “A bit further kicks, shorter kicks, body strength, yeah everything.”

While she might be keen to build a more consistent game, Halfpenny has been regarded as one to watch for the future given her rapid improvement in a short space of time. She is also not the first player to cross from basketball to football, and an inspiration of hers is an elite player who made the same transition.

“I never really followed football specifically a lot growing up but I looked up a lot to Erin Phillips more in basketball when I was younger because she was obviously a big basketballer and now she’s gone over to footy,” Halfpenny said. “But also my dad as well. “Looking at what he’s done and just seeing what he’s been able to do.”

Unlike other State Academy members, Halfpenny is a relatively newcomer to the squad, named in the Under 18s squad that would have played at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships if it had gone ahead. While it did not, Halfpenny said it was still “pretty humbling” to be included with so many other talented players.

“Pretty exciting,” Halfpenny said. “It wasn’t until then that I sort of realised maybe what I could achieve and what I could do and some of the girls that were in that were obviously incredible footballers and being able to train alongside them was a pretty humbling experience but a great learning opportunity.”

Picture: Supplied

Like most people around the country, Halfpenny’s top-age year was suddenly thrown into uncertainty, with the COVID-19 pandemic postponing the SANFL Women’s season for a few months. It did not stop the teenager – who turned 18 during the postponed period – from training and making sure she did not miss a beat.

“I was running a lot,” Halfpenny said. “Up the hills and that kind of thing. “I also had a program from the state team that they wanted us to follow so that was a lot of fitness, ball skills and that kind of stuff. “I was mostly going out and training with my brother – my younger brother – and my dad. “So it was good to have them to help me out. “It was tough, but it was tough for everyone.”

Norwood has undergone plenty of chance over the last 12 to 18 months, with Halfpenny one of a number of new players joining the side. With so many fresh faces it might have been difficult to gel at first, but Halfpenny said it made the transition easier for her.

It was good because obviously I was new, but I wasn’t the only new person,” she said. “Being one of the youngest I was a bit nervous and a bit intimidated but having that new group as well as some of the older players to pull it all together was really helpful. “All the older girls were really lovely and the team was one big family now, and it’s a very inclusive environment and I’m very happy to be.”

Running out at the SANFL Women’s All-Stars clash, Halfpenny is among the top up and coming talents in South Australia. Whilst she might have less experience than some others, she has already made great strides in her development. Like many of her peers, she dreams of playing at the elite level, but is still amazed at her accomplishments thus far, and will just take it all in her stride. She said she wanted to be “the best version” of herself and that was all that mattered.

“I never thought I’d be able to do what I’ve already done and so if this was as far as I got then I would be happy with that,” Halfpenny said. “But to get the furthest I can and maybe if I can have a shot at AFLW would be a dream, but at the end of the day I’m happy with what I’ve done and if that’s as far as I get, then that’s as far as I get.”