Category: Tasmania

NAB League Girls preseason testing: Top 10 results

NOW the preseason is over and the NAB League Girls is about to kick off, we look back at the Top 10 performers across the Tasmanian and Victorian NAB League Girls preseason testing days. The Tasmanian Girls testing day was held on January 23, with the Victorian portion held eight days later on January 31.

The clear top performer across the board had to be Murray Bushrangers’ Madison Gray who had the highest vertical leap and running vertical leap at 57cm and 81cm respectively, as well as finishing second in the agility (8.72 seconds) and sixth in the 20m sprint (3.319 seconds). Remarkably, Gray broke the record for the running vertical jump set by Maddison Levi last year (75cm). There were a number of players who featured in multiple Top 10s, such as Tasmania Devils’ AFL Women’s Academy member Perri King, finishing seventh in both the vertical jump and 20m sprint, while teammate Madison Brazendale finished second in the 20m sprint and yo-yo test to show a great balance of speed and endurance. Gray’s teammate Molly Kennedy won the agility test with a time of 8.68 seconds.

Not too many NAB League followers would have been surprised to see Amber Clarke top the 20m sprint, posting a blistering 3.164 seconds, while she also finished fourth in the agility. Western Jets’ Montana Ham finished top three in both the standing and running vertical jumps, while Oakleigh’s Rianna Thiele also recorded Top 10 finishes in the jumping tests. Northern’s Zara Flanigan was the clear standout in the yo-yo test – the first time the yo-yo has been used for the NAB League Girls – running a 17.2, while also finishing equal sixth in the running vertical jump. The other players to finish in the Top 10 for multiple categories were Calder Cannons’ Zali Friswell (20m sprint and yo-yo) and Sandringham Dragons’ Bridie Hipwell (agility and yo-yo).

The Top 10s from each test are listed below:

VERTICAL JUMP:

1 Madison Gray (Murray) 57cm
2 Serryn Eenjes (Bendigo) 55cm
3 Montana Ham (Western) 53cm
4 Matilda Van Berkel (Gippsland) 50cm
4 Grace McRae (Gippsland) 50cm
4 Priscilla Odwogo (Tasmania) 50cm
7 Perri King (Tasmania) 49cm
8 Cadhla Schmidli (Eastern) 48cm
8 Ella Friend (GWV) 48cm
8 Rianna Thiele (Oakleigh) 48cm

RUNNING VERTICAL JUMP:

1 Madison Gray (Murray) 81cm
2 Montana Ham (Western) 74cm
3 Tyla Angwin (Gippsland) 68cm
3 Indiana Makai (Gippsland) 68cm
5 Rianna Thiele (Oakleigh) 65cm
6 Paige Ryan (Western) 64cm
6 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong) 64cm
6 Zara Flanigan (Northern) 64cm
9 Jemma Rigoni (Oakleigh) 63cm
10 Tess Craven (Geelong) 62cm

20M SPRINT:

1 Amber Clarke (Dandenong) 3.164 seconds
2 Madison Brazendale (Tasmania) 3.226 seconds
3 Mackenzie Eardley (Dandenong) 3.292 seconds
4 Mia Briedis (Calder) 3.304 seconds
5 Nyakoat Dojiok GWV) 3.318 seconds
6 Madison Gray (Murray) 3.319 seconds
7 Brooke Smith (Dandenong) 3.321 seconds
7 Perri King (Tasmania) 3.321 seconds
9 Maykaylah Appleby (Northern) 3.322 seconds
10 Zali Friswell (Calder) 3.324 seconds

AGILITY TEST:

1 Molly Kennedy (Murray) 8.68 seconds
2 Madison Gray (Murray) 8.72 seconds
3 Mia Busch (Eastern) 8.73 seconds
4 Amber Clarke (Dandenong) 8.76 seconds
5 Mali McLeod (Calder) 8.76 seconds
6 Chloe Stevens GWV) 8.76 seconds
7 Charlotte Ryan (Sandringham) 8.81 seconds
8 Bridie Hipwell (Sandirngham) 8.84 seconds
9 Tara Slender (Bendigo) 8.84 seconds
10 Mikayla Williamson (Dandenong) 8.84 seconds

YO-YO:

1 Zara Flanigan (Northern) 17.2
2 Mia Busch (Eastern) 16.8
2 Bridie Hipwell (Sandringham) 16.8
2 Jade Hutchison (Eastern) 16.8
2 Sofia Hurley (Sandringham) 16.8
2 Stella Bridgewater (GWV) 16.8
2 Zali Friswell (Calder) 16.8
2 Bella Enno (Dandenong) 16.8
2 Madison Brazendale (Tasmania) 16.8

King eyes improvement beyond achievements

DESPITE making history by becoming Tasmania Devils’ first ever goalkicker, and then backing up her NAB League Girls season with entry into the AFL Women’s Academy for 2021, Perri King is not content to rest on her laurels. Instead of worrying about what is out of her control in terms of draft contention, King has set her sights on improving areas of her game to be the most complete player she can be.

My improvements and what I really want to work on would definitely be, getting the hands out more rather than kicking straight away,” King said. “Use my teammates to handball and get it back, so that’s what I’m trying to improve on this year for this season.”

Having come through the Tasmanian football pathway, King has always been involved in football one way or another given her family’s connections to the sport. It was not until a few years ago that King finally took the plunge once a female football pathway opened up and she started on a journey that would lead her to the elite junior level.

I started football in 2017, so four years I’ve been playing,” King said. “But I’ve always been around my brother and my dad’s team since I was little. “I’ve always wanted to play since then, but since female footy wasn’t really around then I waited until 2017 because I did other sports. “When it was introduced to Tassie, that’s where I got introduced to it a year later.”

Having arrived at the Devils, King was about to find out just how high-level the program was, with plenty of extra requirements and standards that help develop aspiring AFL Women’s players to be the best possible player on and off the field.

“I started as juniors and I’ve been going to seniors and then the Devils and the standards just keep getting higher and higher each year,” King said. “Devils is high standards, more testing, it’s more serious, more opportunities from the Devils from what we would normally get in Tassie than we would get in the state league. “There’s more opportunities for us in this program than what it would be like through juniors and the state league as well.”

King is known for her speed and strength, which allows her to be a powerful player around the ground, but will likely be a prominent midfielder when the Devils take to the field in the 2021 NAB League Girls competition.

“I see my strengths as speed and my aggression to the football,” King said. “Really just speed, so I have the capability to get the ball and give it to my teammates, and my aggression when in defence, when I attack or I fight to get the ball.”

Already having tasted NAB League Girls action last year, King became the first – and given the season was cut short before the Devils could play another game – only goalkicker, writing her name into the history books. It was a feat that was not lost on King, who praised her teammates for helping her achieve the feat.

“I was actually quite gobsmacked because I never thought I’d be the first Tassie girl to kick a goal,” King said. “It was such an honour, but without the help of my teammates it wouldn’t have happened either. “It was such a big moment because it was our first year in the actual NAB League. “It was sad that it got cut short, but I’m keen for this year with the girls.”

King has always had support from her family, who she said are among her inspirations on her football journey that is only a few years in.

“My biggest inspiration would probably be my dad and my cousin, because they’ve always helped me with football and always pushed me and pushed me to do better, and made me believe myself when I didn’t,” King said.

As for her ultimate goal, King wants to play at the elite level, but also wants to enter the system as prepared as she can be, so 2021 looms as a massive year for the teenager who is solely focused on herself and improving areas of her game.

“I would really like to get drafted, but I would like to improve my footy abilities more, and get to know the girls more because it’s a new team,” King said. “But one day I would like to get drafted so that’s what I’m aiming for.

“I need to obviously do more skill work, so I can improve on that. “The main one for me would be my mental state, because sometimes I can’t believe I can do it when I probably could, so I need to improve on that so then I can go to the next step and not doubt myself.”

Bourne eyes team success with Devils

ZOE Bourne enjoyed her experience with Tasmania Devils in the NAB League Girls last season, however brief it might have been. The team lost both its games, but it was a memorable time for the talented teenager who now has a team-oriented goal for the 2021 season.

“As a team goal I think just to win some games,” Bourne said. “Obviously we didn’t get much of a chance last year, but I think we have a really strong team this year so hopefully we can get over there and win a few.”

The top-age player has come through the development pathways in the Apple Isle, following her brother into the code, and making her way all the way to the Devils’ program at the elite junior level.

“I started footy when my brother played a lot of football when he was growing up and I sort of got around it then, and then I started playing for North Launceston Juniors,” Bourne said. “So this will be my fourth season of footy. “I played for them for two years, and then went to North (Launceston) TSLW for a year, and then unfortunately that collapsed. I started playing Devils last year, and this year obviously Devils and playing for Old Scotch in the NTFA.”

Predominantly a pressure high half-forward, Bourne is a fierce player who is clean at ground level and eyes off crumbing the tall forwards when inside 50. Using her speed and agility at ground level, Bourne is able to create scoring opportunities through separation from her opponent. In 2021, the North Launceston now Old Scotch-aligned talent is looking to improve her fitness in a more challenging competition.

“Being able to get the ball a lot more, then using it a bit more and using it a bit more smarter with the ball,” Bourne said. “It’s (pathway) definitely been a big change, last year playing Devils was a lot different to playing club football. “The standard is very different, I find it a bit more challenging, but it’s a good challenge. “It’s really eye-opening and you get to know that kind of standard so it makes you a better player.”

Her brother has been someone she has looked up to throughout her football journey and now as she enters her top-age year, she is looking to perform to her best to just see where her football can take her.

“He’s the one I’ve watched playing footy and I wanted to get into it because of him, and he taught me all the foundations and skills that I’ve been able to bring to club footy,” Bourne said. “I guess I’ll just see how far I can go through the Devils program and maybe the draft and see where that goes.”

Gaffney follows pathway into Devils

INITIALLY not having the ability to play local Australian rules football in her younger years, Meghan Gaffney tried her hand at soccer. When a pathway finally did open up in Tasmania’s North West, she took the plunge and has not looked back.

“When I was about 12 I started playing soccer at a club level,” Gaffney said. “Then from there as football wasn’t on the North West Coast, it wasn’t really established as female football pathways for anything. “So I started playing as soon as that came which was when I was 13. “I’ve been playing for four years with Ulverstone. “Last year I was lucky enough to get selected into the Devils squad and I played the two games that we had before COVID. “This year I’m in the Devils as well.”

Gaffney said making the switch – which then included travelling to not only different parts of the state but also interstate – was made possible thanks to her father, who she said has been her inspiration throughout her football journey.

“He’s really helped me with that, really supportive and taken me to trainings before I had my licence, just little things like that, it’s been really helpful to have someone there,” Gaffney said.

In 2021, Gaffney is looking to improve a number of aspects of her game, but is among the more powerful athletes when it comes to a combination of her strength and endurance.

“(I) Probably (want to work on) more of my skill work so kicking and hand work and just being quick to pick up the ball, clean,” Gaffney said. “My strength and endurance (are strengths). It helps me to get to the contests and just be an option for other players.”

Coming through the local junior teams and state league, Gaffney noticed the difference in quality when it came to the Tasmania Devils program.

“I think the standard’s a lot better, and also the girls, their mindset towards it,” Gaffney said. “It’s really good to have teammates that are like-minded and want to improve and get around each other, (they are a) really supportive group of people I think.”

Her goal in 2021 is to “just keep improving” and see how far she could go. Whilst her dream is not unlike many other talented teenagers aspiring to get to the highest level, Gaffney is just enjoying her football and looking forward to an uninterrupted season this year.

“Obviously it would be really cool to play in the AFLW, but I mean only a few people get selected,” Gaffney said. “If I did get selected it would be awesome, but otherwise just playing footy for fun, I really enjoy it.”

Defender Blair manages to juggle dual-sport commitments

A TALENTED dual-sport athlete, Australian rules football defender Jemma Blair knows the toll that travel takes on someone expected to hit the road multiple times a week. Having taken up the sport in the Northern Tasmania Junior Football Association (NTJFA) with East Launceston, Blair balanced her fledgling football career with a netball one that took her all across the Apple Isle.

“I’d have two or three netball games a week, and one or two football games a week, so that would probably be about five trainings a week as well,” Blair said. “On the weekend I’d always be around the state with netball and footy.”

Blair’s football journey began five years ago, and soon she moved through the pathway in the NTJFA, then joined North Launceston, and was selected for Tasmania Devils.

“This is going into my fifth year of football, so I was fortunate enough to start my second year when the junior and NTJFA started up in Launceston so I joined East Launceston Football Club,” Blair said. “Then played there for a few years, my dad ended up coaching there as well, so I was fortunate enough to have my dad there as well.

“I grew to love the game and also played a bit of netball as well, so playing side by side with those two sports. “Then last year I was fortunate enough to start with Devils, and also North Launceston Football Club in the TSL, which has unfortunately collapsed so I’ve now gone to Old Scotch this year as well.”

The travel was “quite difficult” for the teenager, with the sports often clashing, and Blair having to pick between training sessions for both sports.

“A lot of the time I had to choose between which training to go to because it did clash a bit, and both playing at state leagues as well, it was a bit of travelling as well,” Blair said. It was all across the state.”

Having tasted NAB League Girls action last year for the Devils, Blair has enjoyed running out of defence and creating plays in transition down the field.

“I like looking around the ground, getting to know the play, reading the play, just repelling the ball back into our forward line,” Blair said. “My strength is around the ball. “My composure and definitely reading the ball as well. “Definitely leadership, I love getting the voice around the girls, helping them, direct them.”

In 2021, Blair is eyeing off improving her skills and hitting targets more often, as well as becoming a more consistent mark. Her goal is to play more games and become an established player at NAB League Girls level.

“Last year we didn’t have much, it was quite a quick season with Devils, so hoping for a longer season this year and to get a few games over in Melbourne,” Blair said. “And definitely meeting new people and seeing how far I can go.”

Blair’s father has been her inspiration over the years, and the teenager considers him her idol. Looking forward, Blair is aiming to achieve everything she can in the sport and just go as far as possible.

“My dad has definitely supported me and pushed me to start football so he’s definitely my idol,” she said. “I just enjoy the sport really, so as far as I can get, to reach as far as I can go, just keep pushing and take every opportunity that I have.”

Versatile Prokopiec enjoying team vibe of football

A FORMER state league soccer player who competed overseas at a tournament, Tasmania’s Amy Prokopiec has found her home with the Australian rules football code. Representing Tasmania Devils over the past two season in the NAB League, as well as Eastern Allies and her home club Clarence, Prokopiec has swiftly moved through the pathway since crossing from the round ball game.

“I played soccer from when I was five-years-old and took that pretty far,” Prokopiec said. “I was in the state teams and went to America for a tournament. “Then sort of hit a dead end with that and started playing footy socially about four years ago with my friends. “I really enjoyed it and started getting picked up for rep teams and travelling a bit, that was when I sort of thought ‘I can do this, this is what my calling is essentially’ and I found my skills from soccer transferred over to my football skills just with my ball use and ability to read the play. “Since then I’ve just been playing footy for the past four years and really enjoying it.”

Having predominantly played in defence for the NAB League Girls’ Tasmania Devils side, Prokopiec has been thrown all over the field in her junior career, also settling forward for the Roos’ in the Tasmanian State League Women’s (TSLW) competition.

“I’ve played all around the ground at club level and Devils,” Prokopiec said. “I’ve played in the backline last year, but I’ve been moved up to the forward line, so it’s very rewarding when you get to kick a goal which I really like, but I’m new to that position and I do know the backline, but at this stage I’m probably preferring the forward line.”

One of Prokopiec’s greatest strengths is her kicking ability, which is why she has been so reliable on the last line, or as a marking target inside 50. Able to take overhead marks and read the play well, the teenager said she was hoping to improve her off-the-ball work.

“My impact on the contest, and being more present on the ground, and making an effort and getting into the contests and helping my teammates out even if it is defensive or attacking,” Prokopiec said of her aimed improvements in 2021.

Having played in the United States for soccer then making the choice to switch to the oblong-ball game, Prokopiec said it was the “team vibe” that she could not get enough of in the sport.

I definitely think the team vibe is different to any other sport that I’ve played and the girls you play with are really awesome,” she said. “It’s a very competitive environment but so worthwhile and so rewarding when you do something well, everyone gets around you. “The pathway for girls is so clear especially in Tassie with the football now.”

The Tasmanian talent has been able to follow her dreams thanks to the support of her family, who she said were her biggest inspirations along her sporting journey.

“My parents have both supported me through everything, driven me to training, and pushed me to be the best I can be through soccer and football,” Prokopiec said. “They’ve driven me up here today and just said ‘ just give it your best shot and keep going with it because you can go as far as you want to’.”

Prokopiec’s goal for the upcoming season is to perform at her best and see where it takes her. Whilst AFL Women’s is the goal at year’s end, she is focused on what she can control in the now.

“Just to play at the highest level I can and the Devils is a great way in the NAB League, and it gets great recognition before we come back to regional competition,” she said. “Absolutely, that’s (AFL Women’s) most people’s goal here, to play AFLW and be up and amongst those girls and create a lifestyle up there.”

In Contention | Outsider AFL Draft prospects to consider: NSW/ACT, NT, QLD

COME the end of a year like no other, there is likely to be a greater amount of hard luck stories and near misses than ever before, especially after the recent cuts to AFL list sizes. But for all that doom and gloom, the 2020 AFL Draft intake is also poised to provide some of the best stories of positivity as elite level hopefuls rise from the adversity this year has put forward.

In Draft Central’s newest series, we take a look at some of the draft prospects who remain in contention to fulfil their draft dreams despite missing out on invites to their respective states’ draft combines. These combine lists are often the best indicators of clubs’ interest in players, with at least four nominations required for those who were not selected in the two national Under 17 showcase games last year. Talent from the Allied states and territories (NSW/ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania, and Queensland) on the precipice are next to go under the microscope, and there are plenty around the mark after exciting seasons around the nation.

Below are pocket profiles of some players to watch, which will also feature in our upcoming annual AFL Draft guide.

>> 2020 AFL Draft Pool
>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020 Edition
>> Power Rankings: November Update

NSW/ACT:

Will Chandler
Murray Bushrangers | Medium Forward
13/12/2001 | 183cm | 79kg

A 2019 state combine invitee, Chandler plied his trade with the Murray Bushrangers but hails from just over the NSW border. He is an exciting forward who can leap high and possesses a smooth left-sided kicking action.

Jack Driscoll
GWS Academy | Key Defender/Ruck
8/04/2002 | 201cm | 88kg

Driscoll is a versatile tall who obviously thrives aerially, but has the point of difference in being able to rotate between key defensive and ruck posts. There is plenty of upside to the GWS Academy member, but he is not yet the finished product.

Sam Gaden
Sydney Academy | Key Position Utility
7/03/2001 | 196cm | 92kg

Gaden is a well-built key position prospect who can impact at either end of the ground or even in the ruck with his strength and smarts. He impressed last year and as an over-ager in 2020 during the Academy Series.

Harry Grant
GWS Academy | Small Midfielder/Forward
3/07/2001 | 172cm | 78kg

He may be small, but packs a punch. Grant showed some impressive form as a nuggety inside midfielder during this year’s Academy Series after missing out as a top-ager. He is a zippy, hard-working midfielder who will likely translate better as a forward.

Godfrey Okerenyang
GWS Academy | Medium Utility
8/09/2002 | 184cm | 80kg

One of the most outstanding pure athletes available in this year’s crop, Okerenyang lit up combine testing this year with his speed and explosiveness. He is still a very raw footballer but has obvious upside and has represented NSW/ACT at Under 16 level.

Kye Pfrengle
Sydney Academy | Defender/Utility
20/11/2002 | 191cm | 82kg

A high-flying type who possesses great versatility and athleticism, Pfrengle brings plenty of x-factor whenever he enters the play. He will be working on turning those glimpses into consistent form as he develops.

Pierce Roseby
Sydney Academy | Inside Midfielder
4/01/2002 | 180cm | 79kg

Roseby has proven to be a reliable inside midfielder with great tenacity and leadership qualities over his time with the Swans Academy. He is a solid ball winner at ground level with clean hands and the ability to run hard all day.

Marco Rossmann
Sydney Academy | Forward/Midfielder
12/04/2002 | 182cm | 79kg

A prospect which Sydney fans have been keeping a particularly close eye on, Rossmann is a classy midfielder who can win his own ball while also posing a threat inside attacking 50 with great smarts and agility.

Marc Sheather
Sydney Academy | Medium Utility
11/06/2002 | 185cm | 84kg

Another strong Swans Academy candidate, Sheather is a true utility in the sense that he can play both small and tall up either end, while also developing as a midfielder. He already cuts a strong figure and has handy athletic traits.

NORTHERN TERRITORY:

Tyrrell Lui
Palmerston | Defender/Utility
2/06/2002 | 187cm

Lui has plied his trade in all sorts of roles but seems to have settled recently as a tall, rebounding defender. He had the tough job of marking Joel Jeffrey in this year’s NT Under 18 All-Stars game and held his own. Currently playing for Palmerston in the NTFL.

Brandon Rusca
Southern Districts | Outside Midfielder/Small Forward
11/05/2001 | 180cm

Another NT prospect who is currently playing senior football in the NTFL, Rusca also ran out for Gold Coast in this year’s Academy Series and is tied to the Suns through the Darwin zone. He likes to take the game on with speed on the outside.

QUEENSLAND:

Riley Buckland
Palm Beach Currumbin | Outside Midfielder/Forward
9/04/2001 | 182cm

A 19-year-old prospect who has shown promising glimpses in 2020, Buckland stands out with his speed and willingness to move the ball on in the forward half. He played into some good form late in the QAFL season for Palm Beach Currumbin.

Shatner Cashen-Harris
Wilston Grange | Outside Midfielder
18/06/2002 | 180cm | 69kg

Cashen-Harris is a prospect who certainly caught the eye this season, running out for the most part with Wilston Grange in the QAFL. He also represented the Lions Academy in 2020, impressing with his explosive speed and smothering defensive pressure.

Nathan Colenso
Morningside | Forward/Midfielder
6/11/2001 | 186cm | 80kg

Colenso came into 2020 with big wraps after taking out last year’s QAFL Rising Star award. He ended up a premiership player with Morningside while also turning out for the Suns Academy, garnering attention with his big frame and strong defensive game up forward.

Josh Gore
Broadbeach | Small Forward
29/05/2001 | 178cm | 77kg

An incredibly natural small forward, Gore was one of a few unlucky Northern Academy prospects to miss out on being drafted last year. He bounced back with a terrific senior QAFL season with Broadbeach while also showing his smarts inside 50 with the Suns Academy.

Ryan Pickering
Gold Coast Academy | Key Position Utility
25/09/2002 | 200cm | 88kg

An athletic tall who can play on every line, Pickering obviously excels aerially at 200cm. He impressed this year during his time with Broadbeach and also for the Gold Coast Suns Academy, showing signs of his development.

Bailey Reeves
Gold Coast Academy | Balanced Midfielder
17/04/2002 | 184cm | 78kg

Reeves is a hard-working midfielder who can play both inside and out, as shown during his breakout Academy Series performances. He also enjoyed a solid QAFL season playing mostly on the wing, providing good grunt going both ways.

Launceston claims TSL flag with impressive win in the wet

ONE of the better deciding games of football you are likely to see anywhere captivated fans all the way through the final quarter where Launceston kicked away to run out 13-point winners against their Northern rivals North Launceston. The Blues completed the perfect day winning flags in the development league and the women’s league, triumphing to win their first flag since 2011 and  stopped a fourth straight premiership to the Bombers in the process. It was the first time these familiar foes have met in a grand final since 1985 and they duly delivered the anticipated intense contest. Jobi Harper was awarded the Darrell Baldock medal as the best player on the ground for his grunt work through the midfield and his two goals.

Light drizzle started with the first siren as it came and went for much of the game, leaving a greasy surface for the four quarters as North Launceston kicked with a slight breeze advantage to start the game. After some scrappy repeat stoppages, the Bombers managed a clean breakaway and with their first inside 50 of the game they scored a goal from a Jack Rushton soccer off the ground. North managed the next centre clearance and squeezed the Blues for territory with manic defensive pressure highlighted by a Josh Ponting smother.

The rest of the first quarter was played mostly between the arcs as even though Launceston managed to find the corridor frequently, they were unable to capitalise on the scoreboard going scoreless to the Bombers’ 1.2. (8). With the wet surface affecting clean disposal, the contest was physical with plenty of niggle including a cut to the head for ruckman Alex Lee. It all blew up as players were going to their huddles as fiery spot fires popped up after a couple of altercations with every player involved. Passion and feeling in spades which would carry through the rest of the contest.

The rain started to fall heavier to begin the second quarter as Launceston needed to respond, and that they did. A defensive-50 transition required just two kicks to find Jay Blackberry who sidestepped his way into an open goal to kick his side’s first. As the Bombers did after their first goal, the Blues got the very next centre clearance but instead managed to goal on the back of some Fletcher Seymour dash.

A 15-minute stalemate was broken as Hudson medallist Dylan Riley scored from directly in front after a Blackberry intercept just past half forward. With the Bombers only managing minor scores, the Blues enjoyed a seven-point lead at the main break.

North Launceston’s third quarters have been the best in the league all season and they were on display again as Tom Bennett slotted a goal from a free kick less than a minute in. A huge Rushton chase down tackle stopped an almost certain Launceston goal as the momentum started to tip in their favour. Bradley Cox-Goodyer’s raking left boot drilled a 50-metre set shot which gave them a goal buffer 20 minutes into the term. Harper and the Blues were having none of that as he finessed a check side in from 25 metres out on the boundary to bring it back to a one-point margin after the siren.

With the barest of separations, Launceston kicking with the slight wind advantage, and everything to play for, it was game on. The game started to open up, but it was North Launceston who struck first with a Jackson Callow kick off the ground going through. Playing coach Taylor Whitford had an opportunity to put the Bombers up two goals before the shot fell short into the breeze. Up the other end, Riley bodied Corey Nankervis in the one-on-one contest and snapped it through to bring the game back. It was goal for goal as Bennett replied with his second, and some Riley brilliance led to a second Blackberry goal.

With very little separating the two sides, it was going to take something special to give either side a two-score lead, and that is what they got. Harper plucked the ball out of the ruck contest at the top of the goal square and banged it through, an exclamation point to what was already a good day for him. With a seven-point lead 18 minutes into the final quarter, one more goal would seal it. Youngster Jared Dakin delivered the icing goal from the goal square as Launceston would become the 2020 premiers winning 8.4 (52) to North’s 5.9 (39).

Blackberry, Riley, and Michael Musicka starred alongside Harper, as Jamieson House and Jacob Boyd were instrumental down back for the Blues. The Bombers’ midfield brigade of Cox-Goodyer, Whitford, Ponting, and Lee were among their side’s best, while 17-year-old Baynen Lowe provided important contests around the ground.

NORTH LAUNCESTON 1.2 | 1.6 | 3.8 | 5.9 (39)
LAUNCESTON 0.0 | 3.1 | 4.1 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

North: T. Bennett 2, J. Rushton, B. Cox-Goodyer, J. Callow.
Launceston: J. Harper 2, D. Riley 2, J. Blackberry 2, F. Seymour, J. Dakin.

BEST:

North: B. Cox-Goodyer, B. Lowe, T. Donnelly, T. Whitford, J. Ponting, A. Lee
Launceston: J. Harper, M. Musicka, T. Jones, D. Riley, F. Seymour, J. House

SCOUTING NOTES

North Launceston

#16 Ollie Sanders

Sanders could not manage to get into the game in the first half playing between half-forward and wing but provided some good pressure in the second half. He halved a crucial contest through relentless pressure and was more active around contests, roving and disposing of it cleanly on one occasion.

#25 Jackson Callow

Callow made his way into the final 22 after being named on the extended bench as he seemed unhindered by the ankle injury he sustained which had the potential to rule him out for the season. Like he did for most of the year, he played a half at either end of the ground, tasked with the Mitch Thorp matchup early. He was not afraid to push Thorp back and put his solid frame to good use in the contest. He kept him goalless, but a turnover from a poor kick in the back half resulted in a Launceston goal. Moving to the other end of the ground he was a physical presence more than anything. House ensured he worked for his touches and made Callow worry about him more than his own game, often only engaging body rather than leading at the ball carrier. Even though he struggled to find space, he kicked a goal at a crucial time in the final quarter.

#64 Baynen Lowe

The 17-year-old Devonport product played mostly through the middle of the ground, starting on the wing before rotating through the centre bounces in the second half. Lowe’s physicality and pressure stood out as he showed good speed and defensive qualities, highlighted by a smother and a chase down tackle. His poise with ball in hand was impressive and even despite the slippery conditions, he showed good cleanliness in tight. A nice snap to set up a shot on goal was indicative of his sound decision-making as he was named second best in his side for his efforts.

Launceston

#20 Jared Dakin

After playing on Whitford the last time these teams met there was feeling the same would happen again. Although he did not play a strict run with role, he played defensive at stoppages on Ponting much like his role last week. When play unravelled he managed to get to most contests and look for his own ball, earning a couple of clearances and showing strength to get a handball out. A quiet second half saw him kick the one goal, but it was the final one for his side as he capped off an impressive season.

#30 Isaac Chugg

Chugg assumed his natural half-back role and was serviceable in his side’s triumph. He was trusted with the kickout duties at times, but it was his run out of the back half which was is main mode of operation all game. Numerous times he ran past for the handball to rebound, but most impressively he did not just blaze away long. He found shorter and better targets. He did lose his direct opponent in traffic who goaled in the final quarter but nonetheless, a solid game.

Picture: Solstice Digital & Photography

Launceston paints the town blue with seven-point TSL Women’s premiership

LAUNCESTON has claimed the 2020 Tasmanian State League (TSL) Women’s premiership with a seven-point victory over Glenorchy at UTAS Stadium on Saturday. The result marked Launceston’s third women’s flag and redeemed their heartbreaking Grand Final defeat to Clarence last season. North Melbourne AFL Women’s player Mia King was sensational in the midfield and rightly awarded the medal for best on ground.

The minor premiers were slow out of the gates, with Glenorchy controlling the majority of the play early. The Magpies were kicking with the wind and locked the ball in their forward half for the majority of the first quarter. However, they dropped some easy marks inside 50 and could not capitalise on their opportunities. Elise Barwick earned a free kick in a forward 50 ruck contest midway through the term, but she got too close to the woman on the mark and opened the scoring with a behind. Tiarna Ford, who looked dangerous in front of goal early, hit the post with a snap just moments later. Perri King then laid a strong tackle inside 50 and won a holding the ball decision, but she missed her set shot as well to the near side. Launceston was scoreless at quarter time and trailed by three points.

The second quarter is where Launceston won the game, as they kicked all 13 of their points in this term. Going towards the scoring end, the Blues were finally able to get on top in the midfield. King was the leader of their dominance, as she won plenty of clearances and created some strong link-up play through the middle of the ground. Her attack on the ball clearly set the tone for her side coming out of quarter time. In the fourth minute, forward Brooke Brown produced some magnificent play on the half-forward flank to set up Cecilia Cameron for the first goal of the match. Just minutes later, Brown kicked the second with a nice snap around the body from 30 metres out. For the rest of the quarter, Glenorchy kept kicking the ball over the boundary coming out of defence, so Launceston locked it in their forward half quite easily. Abbie Hoiberg-Cox’s dash off half-back was a highlight of this term, as was Cameron’s strong presence up forward. Launceston went into half-time with a 10-point lead.

Glenorchy had most of the play in the first half of the third term, but Launceston’s defence led by Dearne Taylor and Hayley Whyte stood up magnificently. Sarah Skinner eventually earned a free kick right in front of goal, but her set shot was touched by the woman on the mark. While the Magpies had a couple of other opportunities to hit the scoreboard, their lack of composure inside 50 continued to haunt them. They were pressing until Cameron took one of the marks of the year in defensive 50 running back with the flight to shift the momentum. Skinner was equally as courageous in this contest, as she blindly ran back the other way and copped a massive hit for her troubles. A great contested mark from Brown on the wing released the pressure for Launceston even more, and Glenorchy did not earn any more scoring opportunities for the rest of the quarter.

In the final term, Launceston always had extra numbers back to stop Glenorchy from kicking a major and getting back into the game. Ford almost broke their goal-scoring drought at the eight-minute mark, but Taylor sprinted back with desperation to touch the ball on the line. Launceston held up well after that and ran out deserving winners.

Launceston 0.0 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 (13)
Glenorchy   0.3 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 0.6 (6)

GOALS:

Launceston: C. Cameron, B. Brown.
Glenorchy: Nil.

BEST:

Launceston: M. King, D. Taylor, K. Hill, M. Binns, C. Cameron. G. Hill
Glenorchy: L. Haines, P. King, A. Clark, R. Clifton. G. Sullivan, Z. Crawford

Picture: Solstice Digital & Photography


For more football news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

TSL Grand Final preview: Launceston vs. North Launceston

IT is a double-Launceston derby in the Tasmanian State League (TSL) with both Launceston and North Launceston facing off at UTAS Stadium in the seniors and Development League Grand Finals. The senior decider kicks off at 2.30pm following the Development and Women’s Grand Finals earlier in the day.

The reigning premiers North Launceston have a number of young prospects to watch out for across both grades, with Ollie Sanders in great form for the red and black. He has that touch of class and a beautiful left foot which can set up his more experienced teammates inside 50. While he missed out on getting a Draft Combine invite this year, he looms as one who will only get better over the next few years and could benefit as an over-ager next season.

Another North Launceston prospect named in the starting 22 is Baynen Lowe. The Devonport youngster with the fiery red hair is a tackling machine and one not to be messed with when the ball is in his zone. Possessing some nice speed and an ability to corral opponents, the bottom-ager still has another year to go before he is draft eligible. There is not much of the 174cm, 70kg small forward, but he certainly packs a punch.

For Launceston, the only player in the game with an AFL Draft Combine invite is Jared Dakin who has been a Mr Fix It all season. He can play on-ball, up forward or even in defence, where he has been named at half-back. Dakin has been tasked with a number of run-with roles this season and he has nullified key opponents. Interestingly enough, the last time these teams played, Dakin was sent to creative defender Jay Foon and did a good job early before being loosened and seeing Foon get off the chain.

Another top-age talent who has caught the eye as a potential late developer is Isaac Chugg. An elite athlete, he has enjoyed a role change from the wing to half-back where he has been able to show off his run and carry down the ground. Still building a more consistent game, he is one who will only get better with more experience.

One player who has been named as an emergency that is the biggest AFL Draft prospect in the game is Jackson Callow. Seemingly ruled out of contention weeks ago after badly hurting his ankles in an awkward landing, he has been named as an emergency the last couple of weeks. Whilst unlikely to be risked, it does allow the talented key position player to front up for the Development side if he is fit enough to play.

From a more senior perspective, both sides have a number of players in the TSL Team of the Year. North Launceston leads all-comers with a massive six players earning the honour. Ruck Alex Lee and full-back Corey Nankervis have key positions, whilst the left side of the field is all red and black thanks to playing coach Taylor Whitford, dynamic midfielder-forward Brad Cox-Goodyer, and the exciting Foon all named there. On the other wing, Josh Ponting‘s terrific season was rewarded with a starting spot.

For Launceston, competition leading goalkicker Dylan Riley made the forward pocket, with other dangerous forward, Jake Hinds inside 50. Up the other end is Jacob Boyd in a back pocket, whilst Jay Blackberry was named on the interchange. In a prestigious moment for the Blues, they also have the coach and captain of the team, with playing-coach Mitch Thorp leading the side, and Jobi Harper in the centre and named as hypothetical captain. It shows just how much talent is on display in the senior game.

Looking over the Development squads, North Launceston could have a few players to consider over the next couple of years. Top-ager Angus Jefferies impressed at school football this year and is a natural ball-winner. He only stands at a light 177cm and 70kg, but has elite endurance and will run all day. Bottom-age Bombers teammate Ryan Whitney is still building areas of his game, but he has some nice athletic traits to-boot.

Launceston also has a host of would-be Tasmanian Devils players who tested in the preseason for the squad coming into 2020 NAB League Boys season. Three top-agers – Kye Chilcott, Alex Davies and Jayden Hinds – have all been named in the side, whilst the likes of Zach Morris, Sam Foley and Denzel McLean are bottom-agers who will run out for the Blues. They are names to keep an eye on for next year, with Foley impressing in defence for St Patrick’s this year, whilst Morris is a classy forward who always looks lively.

North Launceston head in as favourites in the senior game, whilst Launceston has the depth at the Development level to be the nominal favourites there in what should be a couple of ripping contests.

Picture: Andrew Woodgate