Category: Womens

VFLW Preview: Round 15 – Third and fourth do battle

IN the penultimate round of VFL Women’s for 2019 a number of big matches take centre stage, with the biggest seeing Richmond take on Western Bulldogs in a battle for third on the ladder. Meanwhile, Southern Saints and Collingwood will look to continue their winning ways after a bye last week as Casey hope for one last win to finish the season with a bye next week.

CARLTON v. DAREBIN

Round 15 – 17/8/19
11.00
La Trobe University, Bundoora

This will be an interesting tussle between two lower placed teams on the ladder, with both putting some good efforts in but for the most part unable to play a four quarter game. For Carlton, this is ultimately their best opportunity to get another win on the board for the season, with a talented side that has thus far has struggled to finish matches but have come close on more than one occasion. But while Carlton has the drive to get the job done, Darebin currently have the momentum after a massive win over Williamstown last week while the Blues fell to a classy Tigers outfit. Darebin’s Reni Hicks has been a tackling machine this season, averaging 10.7 tackles per game – and 17 alone last week against Williamstown. Meanwhile, Lauren Pearce has really come into her own this season, finding plenty of the footy as well as leading competition hit-outs and putting a couple goals on the board, but will be missed in this game. For Carlton, Jess Hosking has been a big target across the field when she is listed, meaning her inclusion could see the Blues get another win on the board.

COLLINGWOOD v. ESSENDON

Round 15 – 17/8/19
12.00
Victoria Park

After a bye last week, Collingwood has rested the majority of its AFL Women’s talent against the Bombers, who despite some good form in Round 13, found themselves struggling in last week’s weather conditions. The Bombers fought hard against Southern Saints to prove themselves as fighters in the competition, getting within two points of victory before falling at the last hurdle. While the Pies are still more likely to get a win on the board these factors make for an interesting match. Sarah Dargan is the most experienced AFLW Magpie out there, one of only five listed players to be named in the side. For Essendon, Georgia Patrikios has been vital in recent weeks despite only taking the field for two matches, while Georgia Nanscawen has been one of the more consistent players all season for Essendon.

RICHMOND v. WESTERN BULLDOGS

Round 15 – 17/8/19
12.30
Swinburne Centre

It is a battle for control of the ladder in this match, with both Richmond and Western Bulldogs on relatively even pegging sitting on eight wins and four losses apiece, with the Tigers only ahead on percentage. While Richmond had a big confidence boosting win last round after a slow few weeks, the Dogs were the side that handed the Tigers their first loss of the season back in Round 9 that ultimately saw the side then go winless for four rounds straight. While both sides have plenty of firepower, the Bulldogs have found their form in recent weeks with two massive wins elevating them up the ladder. Last time they met Sabrina Frederick took the field for the first time in her new colours, booting a goal and going on to kick at least one major in every match since except Round 14, proving to be a massive target forward for the Dogs to focus on. Meanwhile, Ellie Gavalas and Tayla Dinuccio both provided a massive threat credit to their tackling efforts.

CASEY DEMONS v. NT THUNDER

Round 15 – 18/8/19
11.30
SkyBus Stadium

Last time these two sides met the Dees came away with a massive win in the Northern Territory to spark the side into action, but have barely scraped through matches in recent weeks making this game a very interesting contest for all involved. Despite a dominant start to the season Thunder have been one of the more inconsistent teams in the competition this year, having issues stringing winning margins together. However the side comes into this round off the back of a bye last week, meaning the Dees will need to watch themselves against them. On the other hand, Casey have a bye next week to finish the season, meaning this is their final opportunity to get a win on the board. Eden Zanker was a massive threat in their last encounter, booting three goals from 20 touches while Sarah Lampard was dominant last round, meaning the Dees have some options to take charge and drive the ball forward. Meanwhile NT’s Anne Hatchard racked up 31 disposals and two goals to easily be Thunder’s best back in Round 11, but with Hatchard and Zanker missing, it makes for a very intriguing match to open Sunday’s fixture. The Thunder continue to blood young players with NT Under-18 co-captains Bella Clarke and Dominique Carbone coming into the side.

SOUTHERN SAINTS v. HAWTHORN

Round 15 – 18/8/19
12.00
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

After a bye last week the Saints will be shaping up for a big match against the Hawks, who they only beat by three points when they last met in Round 7. While having a slightly slower season than the Saints, Hawthorn are shaping up to play finals sitting fifth on the ladder and have challenged a number of teams so could be a massive threat this week. That being said, Southern will take confidence in the Hawks being challenged by Casey last week and will want to have a hard and fast start to get on top early. Only two players on the field collected more than 20 touches last time they met, showcasing the closeness of the contest. Both rucks in Lou Wotton and Poppy Kelly are in ripping form, shaping up for an interesting ruck contest, while Bec Beeson has been exceptional for the Hawks so will look to continue her dominance.

WILLIAMSTOWN v. GEELONG CATS

Round 15 – 18/8/19
2.40
Downer Oval

Williamstown had another big loss last week, meaning they will come into this match with a fire in the belly as they take on the Cats. While Geelong are only sitting outside the top six by the barest margin, they have not been great at scoring big totals this season, only racking up three scores over 33 points for the season. While scoring this amount of points can certainly still win games, it still leaves something to be desired if teams can get on top of their defensive pressure. Geelong went down to Darebin a few rounds back, making this match an achievable win for the Seagulls if they get the momentum going. That being said, Geelong still have a slim chance of making finals if they win both Round 15 and 16 matches by strong margins with the top sides losing, meaning the side will certainly be up for a fight. For Williamstown, Sharnie Whiting and Rubi Tripodi both had big matches again last week despite the loss, while the likes of Richelle Cranston and Olivia Purcell have been consistent all season for Geelong.

BYE: Melbourne Uni

Physical side of footy attracts Van Oosterwijck to game

REGULARLY getting fouled out in basketball told Amelia Van Oosterwijck that perhaps she needed a change of sporting scenery. While the tenacious runner enjoyed watching Australian rules football on the television, she never thought she would involve herself to the point that she would run out representing her state at the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

“My dad was always a massive Collingwood fan and I loved watching it growing up,” Van Oosterwijck said. “Then I started playing basketball and a teammate of mine – she plays footy and I kept getting fouled out all the time – was like ‘why don’t you try footy it’s a bit more physical?’ “So tried that out and ended up loving the game.”

Of the differences between the sports, it was certainly the physicality that stood out to Van Oosterwijck.

“It’s a lot more physical,” she said. “So I love that, I love tackling, I love just the nature of the game. “It’s so much faster than basketball in my opinion.”

That physical style of play is what has become a feature of the small forward’s game, laying more than five tackles per game for Oakleigh Chargers in the NAB League Girls competition this year. Her defensive pressure, coupled with her ability to hit the scoreboard – she booted four goals from nine games but spent time up the ground as well to produce more than two inside 50s per game. Van Oosterwijck said the camaraderie at the Chargers was something she loved.

“I love being around the girls,” she said. “The group of girls you play with are lifelong friends, they are all there for you and they all support you no matter if you stuff up or you kick a goal, they’ll always be there and I love that part of it.”

Her form was enough to see her represent Vic Metro at the championships where she played two games – she missed one due to a late withdrawal – and still showed her defensive intent with three tackles per match and a goal on the Gold Coast as well. Speaking at the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me in March, Van Oosterwijck said her goal for 2019 was to build her core strength.

“For me personally, I want to get a bit stronger around the hips because I am a shorter player and I do get knocked over by the bigger girls so by improving my strength I’ll be able to withstand those tackles,” she said.

The increased standards were noticeable from early in the pre-season for Van Oosterwijck who said everyone had lifted making it a real challenge in the off-season.

“The standards have got so much higher,” she said. “The physicality, the running side of it, everyone’s got a lot quicker. “It’s a big step up and I think I enjoy the game way more than I did last season.”

Consistency the key for Sansonetti

WHILE others travel far and wide, come into the game late, or are poached from other sports, Sarah Sansonetti has enjoyed a much more linear path on her footballing journey.

The Northern Knights key defender traded the monkey bars and slides for a kick of the footy during breaks at school after her dad introduced her to the oblong ball, and has loved the game ever since.

“At school I was getting around out at lunch – instead of being on the playground, I loved getting out and kicking the footy so then dad decided to try at Auskick,” Sansonetti said. “I had a year down there and then went straight into Under 10s at my local club (Bundoora) which was pretty exciting.”

Football proved a “relief” from normal life for Sansonetti, who continues to enjoy the camaraderie that comes with team sports.

“(I like) the community aspect, the way the community gets together and everyone just enjoys it. You get out there, and it’s sort of just a relief from all your schooling and all that,” she said.

The sport that started as a hobby has turned into an opportunity, with the reliable defender fast becoming a leader in her position.

After featuring five times for the Knights as a 16-year-old, Sansonetti backed up the feat by playing every game in 2018, while returning a 10-game season in her top-age season this year.

Sansonetti’s consistency and ability to play a role in the star-studded Northern side meant her name was constantly one of the first on the team sheet, and it is something she highlighted as a key area during pre-season.

“From a team aspect, playing as a team, getting a lot of run from half-back, our forwards playing their role – I think it’s just everyone getting out there and doing their role, that’s sort of what we’re focusing on,” Sansonetti said during the NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me in March.

“(Our goal is to) have a consistent year, be consistent week in, week out and I reckon if we do that, we can go one better”

Sansonetti’s “one better” prophecy came to fruition as the Knights claimed premiership glory with a relatively young side after going down in the 2018 decider.

Her role in the undefeated season came two-fold, proving a pillar in the back six while leading Northern’s bottom and middle-agers through all of the rigours of a year at the elite junior level. It was something Sansonetti touched on during pre-season as she outlined her on-field goals.

“I just try to be a role model at training, lifting expectations like lifting the intensity and showing (younger players) what it takes to be in the program because a lot of them haven’t been exposed to it yet,” she said.

With a fruitful NAB League season done and won, Sansonetti was also a key part of Vic Metro’s unbeaten National Championships campaign in Queensland and is in the midst of a solid VFLW campaign with Darebin Falcons.

While Sansonetti said she is looking to push into more “uncomfortable” areas as her journey progresses, winning is a comfortable aspect of the game she seems to bring with her everywhere – with the Falcons getting up in two of her three outings thus far.

It bodes well for a long, consistent career,

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 14 – Big margins split the ladder

ROUND 14 saw the top sides in the competition all but separate from the lower sides on the ladder, with the top six only needing to continue winning in order to make finals. Wins to four of the top six this week – with the other two sides in Collingwood and Southern Saints having byes – all but locks finals up, with only positions within the six likely to change over the next few rounds. With only two matches left in the season the only side below the six that really has potential to make finals is Geelong, but the side will need to not only win its remaining two games but also rely on other results to go their way to make it through unscathed.

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.4 (4)
DAREBIN 2.4 | 2.5 | 6.11 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS

Williamstown: Nil.
Darebin: M. Wilson 2, L. Pearce, A. Lister, C. Byrne, S. Simpson, L. Arnell.

BEST

Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, J. Kawa, R. Tripodi, S. Whiting, A. Melnikas
Darebin: L. Pearce, A. Lister, R. Hicks, E. O’Dea, C. Byrne, L. Arnell

It was the second time these sides fought it out in 2019, and the Falcons were not going to let their last match define them with a massive 49-point victory over the weekend proving the side has the ability to be better than some of their scores this season suggest. This match spells disaster for the Seagulls however, with the side running out of opportunities to get a second win on the board and this round arguably their best opportunity of doing so. Elise O’Dea and Lauren Pearce paired well across the field to dominate the contest, managing 25 touches apiece while O’Dea also racked up five tackles. Pearce was phenomenal as ever in the ruck, booting a goal and collecting 49 hitouts and six tackles for her efforts. Maddison Wilson kicked two goals from 11 touches while Annalyse Lister also had a solid performance with 15 disposals, nine tackles and a goal. Reni Hicks was phenomenal as ever, as the number one tackler of the competition with another 17 tackles and 16 disposals to her name. For the Seagulls, Mo Hope and Sharnie Whiting were the usual suspects finding plenty of the footy, picking up 21 and 20 disposals apiece while Megan Williamson (17 disposals, 10 tackles), Ruby Tripodi (12 disposals, nine tackles) and Ashlea Melnikas (nine disposals, nine tackles) played their individual roles well to apply pressure on the Falcons but to no avail.

HAWTHORN 1.4 | 2.6 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)
CASEY 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Luke.
Casey: M. Guerin, H. Cordner, S. Notman.

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Membrey, G. Bevan, C. Perera, E. Nixon, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams
Casey: A. McDonough, T. Hanks, M. Hogg, S. Lampard, K. Hore, B. Winbanks

A late fightback by Casey saw the side almost get away with a shock win over the Hawks, but it was too little too late with the Hawks prevailing despite not putting a score on the board in the final term. This was not the percentage boosting win the Hawks wanted however, with the three point win only scraping by in the race for finals. While Casey will be happy with their ability to come back from the loss, they will be rueing missed opportunities after a dominant final term almost got them the win along with relatively even stats across the board. Phoebe McWilliams kicked two goals from six touches as a solid option forward, while a smattering of players did what they could to get on the board but could not convert. Lou Wotton (44 hitouts, 11 touches, 10 tackles) and Bec Beeson (24 disposals, 10 tackles, six marks) starred as usual for the Hawks, finding plenty of the footy while Georgia Bevan starred in the contest with 17 tackles. For Casey, Sarah Lampard put on a solid performance in ultimately her best match for the season with 28 touches, seven marks and five tackles while Maddy Guerin (seven tackles, five marks, one goal) and Lily Mithen (11 tackles, three marks) were next up with 16 touches apiece. Bridie Winbanks and Harriet Cordner combined for 32 hitouts in the ruck, while Shanara Notman kicked a goal in her second match for the side.

GEELONG 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 4.6 (30)
MELBOURNE UNI 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS

Geelong: M. Maguire 2, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel.
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson 3, K. Angelis, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton.

BEST

Geelong: R. Cranston, K. Darby, A. McDonald, L. McEvoy, M. Maguire, M. Keryk
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, B. Gibson, E. Kearney, K. Ebb, A. Runnalls, J. Bruton

Melbourne Uni prevailed in cold conditions down at Geelong, beating the home side by 14 points to maintain their position in the top six and go one game clear of the Cats. While Geelong perhaps didn’t get off to the start they desired, they evened up to lead at half time before failing to put another goal on the board after half time. With a definite scoring end it was the Mugars who made the most of their opportunities, slotting seven goals for the match to set up a solid win despite not putting a score on the board in the final quarter. Jasmine Garner lead the charge for Uni, collecting 31 touches, 10 marks, nine tackles and a goal on her way to dominating all aspects of the contest while Ashleigh Riddell and Jess Trend followed suit combining for 44 touches and 13 tackles. Meanwhile, Britt Gibson kicked three goals from 12 disposals for her best haul of the season so far while Emma Kearney collected 18 touches, seven tackles and a goal in her first match of the season. While it was an evenly matched ruck contest between Vivien Saad (26 hitouts) and Kate Darby (21 hitouts, 18 disposals, five marks, five tackles), Darby well and truly found her form to follow up with two attempts at goal which unfortunately did not hit their mark. Olivia Purcell was the prime ball magnet for Geelong with 20 disposals, while the likes of Richelle Cranston (18 disposals, five tackles) and Madisen Maguire (two goals) put in the hard yards across the field.

CARLTON 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 (21)
RICHMOND 0.6 | 4.7 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS

Carlton: L. Brazzale, A. McKay, S. Wright.
Richmond: T. Stahl 3, T. Brett 3, C. Wakefield , H. Ibrahim, M. Conti, J. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: S. Wright, C. Bromage, B. Gutknecht, B. Gurr, G. Wright, G. Pound
Richmond: A. Edmonds, T. Brett, T. Stahl, M. Conti, J. Kennedy, C. Wakefield

Richmond finally got the big win they have been waiting for over the weekend, confidently running over the Blues by 48 points. While the Tigers certainly had all the momentum early they had big issues meeting targets with six behinds on the board in the first that could have had them up by close to 40 points early. After the first quarter however they unleashed, with the Blues floored by the Tigers as they kicked 10 goals to one in the remaining three terms. With two players individually almost outscoring Carlton on their own, it was always going to be a big win for the Tigers. While a usual suspect in Tayla Stahl kicking three goals from 11 touches and four marks, it was the effort of debutant Teagan Brett that caught the eyes of many with a respective three goals and 12 disposals in her first match in yellow and black. Monique Conti was also impressive with 26 disposals, six tackles and a goal while Alice Edmonds shared the role in ruck well with 32 hitouts and 14 disposals, pairing with Gabby Seymour who collected a further 15 hitouts. For the Blues, Lauren Brazzale was pivotal with 18 disposals and a goal while Gabby Pound (15 disposals, eight tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (13 disposals, six tackles) put in the hard yards to find plenty of ball.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
ESSENDON 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland 2, M. Ward 2, K. McLeod, E. Blackburn.
Essendon: Nil.

BEST

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland, N. Ferres, D. Berry , E. Georgostathis, A. Guest, M. Ward
Essendon: G. Patrikios, S. Audley, L. Ahrens, M. Fogas, A. Barba, E. Ashley-Cooper

The Bulldogs’ massive win this week mirrored their AFL side’s victory, with a 44 point win keeping the Bombers without a goal for the match in what was an impressive display at home. The Bulldogs got off to a solid start kicking five goals nil in the first half before matching it in the second half and denying the Bombers any easy ball. While their accuracy once again left plenty to be desired, the Dogs played a confidence game and were not scared to take advantage of opportunities to keep the Bombers out of the contest. Despite a disappointing performances from the Bombers as a whole, Georgia Patrikios (21 disposals, 11 tackles) and Georgia Nanscawen (21 disposals, six tackles) found plenty of the footy to spur the side forward while Kendra Heil applied some great pressure with nine tackles and 20 touches to her name. While Simone Nalder matched Celine Moody for hitouts (21 apiece), it was the Bulldogs’ use of a second ruck in Nicole McMahon (17 hitouts) that saw them run away with the match. Ellie Blackburn (25 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ellie Gavalas (25 disposals, four tackles) were phenomenal for the home side, while Brooke Lochland and Mikayla Ward kicked two goals apiece, unstoppable inside 50 and Angelina Gogos provided plenty of ball back forward with 12 tackles.

2019 Victoria Podcast | Vic Country and Vic Metro reviews

IN a new Final Siren podcast series reviewing the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships side-by-side, we take a look at some of the top prospects who performed strongly across all three lines, as well interviews with key players within each individual state.

The fourth edition is the Victoria, and Final Siren podcast host Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central‘s Peter Williams discuss the players who caught the eye across the championships from both Vic Metro and Vic Country, looking ahead to the 2019 AFLW Draft as well as the 2020 AFLW Draft.

Below is full Victorian podcast.

You can also find the Final Siren podcast and listen to past or future episodes on the following platforms:

Anchor

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Spotify

Breaker

Overcast

Pocket Casts

PodBean

RadioPublic

For all the AFLW U18s Championships news, head to our AFLW U18s Championships page and keep an eye out for our features which have started!

Travel just the beginning for Bella Smith

TWELVE hours in the car to get to and from training and games is not the first choice for any budding footballer, but for Bella Smith, it was an easy choice when the Eyre Peninsula local opted to play women’s football in Adelaide. Whilst she did end up moving to Adelaide in the recent years, Smith still remembers the long car journeys to begin her career in the sport she loved.

“I’m originally from Eyre Peninsula so I started playing with the boys up until I was 14 until I was told I wasn’t able to play anymore with the boys,” Smith said. “So I gave it up for a bit because I wasn’t allowed in. “I ended up moving to Adelaide when I was 16 and brought it back up. Had my first season with the girls last year and went from there. “(I) went from under 17s with Norwood, and got into the Under 18s team last year and the Allies last year. (I) came back again this year with the Norwood SANFL team.”

The success of Norwood in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s has helped Smith develop and learn from some of the most talented footballers in the country. It was such a successful program that Head Coach Steve Symonds earned the chance at coaching the elite competition at Collingwood in the AFL Women’s for the 2020 season. Smith said the group was close and wanted to achieve success together, and while they missed out on the elusive premiership this year, they still loved the season.

“It was awesome to be in such a successful team,” she said. “We had such a great minor rounds series and we were just a really tight knit group. “We all wanted to get better, we were all training as a squad and it was really good to be in that sort of environment just learning off other players such as Sally Riley when she’d come back from the Crows. “It was just so good to learn from people who had been so successful.”

Over the years, Smith has noticed a marked improvement in the talent across the board in women’s football, with both the competition and training standards held in much higher regards.

“The talent is just growing more and more,” Smith said. “It’s just getting more competitive and the elite standards. “The standards have just grown so much – just over the past year and it’s just going to continue to grow so much.”

For all the travel as she paved the way to her eventual state representation at the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, Smith said there was always the passion burning inside her. Smith thanked her parents for their support and credited them for inspiring her to believe in herself and her career.

“I have my parents have to thank for that, they had to give up so much for me to keep travelling and ended up moving me over,” she said. “Just having that support behind me has been awesome.”

As for on-field, an AFL Women’s premiership captain has been one who Smith has looked up to and tried to model her game on and off the field.

“If I’m talking about role models, I’d probably say Chelsea Randall,” Smith said. “I just think she’s such a fierce competitor. Just the way she plays, I just love watching her play, it’s just so awesome. Watching her train and her work ethic, it’s just so admirable.”

While her top-age year has crept up, The 182cm Smith has been working hard to continually improve her game and hope to take it to another level going forward.

“I think working on would be probably my athleticism, just getting more endurance into me,” Smith said. “As well as using my body a bit more, probably my strengths are my hands and my kicking. I’m able to take a few good marks here and there and can kick a fair distance which is good and efficient.”

Gregory aims to run with her strengths

WITH a neat left foot and plenty of speed to burn, Queensland’s Chloe Gregory has always been told to back herself when deciding whether to take the game on. The utility has played between midfield and forward, and crossed over from netball because of her ability to do just that.

“I started out playing netball,” Gregory said. “I’ve played netball for my whole life and got into football through my dad (Scott Gregory) because he’s head of AFL Academy at Narangba Valley and he got me into that and then tried out for the Sunny Coast team up on the Sunny Coast, made that and then made Queensland in the same year so just been going from there. “It’s been really good so far.”

Gregory’s decision to continue her football journey was two-fold – one because of her dad’s influence, but also because of her natural attributes when it came to her impact in open space.

“I find football to be a lot more open and I can show off my skill a bit more rather than in netball it’s such a small game. I love the running and being able to be so free in the game of footy. “He’s (Gregory’s father) been trying to get me to play footy for a while now and he’s just over the moon that I’m playing it and he’s been one of the biggest coaches in my life and he’s really proud of what I’ve achieved so far.”

Gregory said her father provided her with plenty of advice throughout the journey, but his number one message was keeping it simple.

“He definitely shares a lot of his advice with me, but basically just tells me to take the opportunity where I can. Use my run and carry as much as I can,” Gregory said. “All my coaches in my life – I’m a left foot – say make sure you just get on your left foot, get it forward and run and carry. “(It’s) definitely one of my strengths to win a contested ball, get it out run and carry and kick it on my left boot because it’s a bit unpredictable which side I’m going to kick on.”

While Gregory has made it to the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships representing her state, she is not content to rest on her laurels, focusing on improvements in her game to make her a more complete player.

“(I) definitely need to work on my work rate,” Gregory said. “So I’ve been playing forward a lot this year and as a high-forward, I push in as another onballer so I’ve been trying to work with the midfield as well as push down to the forwards to get to the tall forwards feet. “So work rate is definitely something to work on.”

The pacy utility said she was constantly asking for feedback on her game from coaches to try and build on areas of improvement and “hopefully implement them as much as I can into my game”. Having already tasted senior football with Brisbane Lions in the Winter Series competition, Gregory said she was keen to “get a good look” at AFL Women’s and make the step up to the highest grade if selected. She said the competition against stronger bodies was definitely noticeable compared to her peers at Under 18s level.

“It’s definitely a big step up, bigger bodies, it’s really hard to get into the game there,” Gregory said. “I remember I played wing in the first game and that was a really different opportunity for me and I really took that with the run and carry and now coming back to nationals and playing forward it’s a completely different game. “I just hope I get to play at that AFLW level.”

During her time at the Lions, Gregory has leant off another left footer who has an eye for goals who she sees as her biggest idol on the field, and has helped her build her burning desire to achieve her dream of playing at the highest level.

“Definitely (Jess) Wuetschner from the Lions,” Gregory said. “She’s been a big influence on me through the Winter Series comp and just the advice she gives is awesome and I take it on board every time we have a chat. “Now she’s playing down back after she was more of a forward last year and gets her cheeky goals and everything so, and the left foot like me so I look up to her a lot.”

Passionate Lion eyes AFLW future

BRISBANE is a long way from Frankston in the south eastern suburbs of Victoria, but the Sunshine State, and more accurately, the Brisbane Lions is where exciting mid-forward Belle Dawes‘ heart lies. She moved from Victoria up north and brought her love for Australian Rules football with her, and credits much of her recent development – which saw her make the 2018 AFL Women’s Under 18 All Australian side – to then-coach Craig Starcevich.

“I’ve lived in Frankston Victoria and I just started playing, me and my brother signed up for Frankston Rovers Under 9s,” Dawes said. “I played there at that club until Under 12s, and then just played with boys and I moved to Queensland. “That’s when I thought I’ll come play footy up here, come play with the boys and then the girls team started. “Played in the school comp, got seen and then got selected for regionals and started from there.”

Starcevich has been a huge inspiration for Dawes who she said “opened up her whole game” with some crucial advice.

“He’s supportive, a real cool coach, I’ve learnt a lot from him,” Dawes said. “Swivel the head was a big thing, and that opened up my whole game, kicking left and right and swivelling my head to switch it. “Because he’s been my coach over a few years I’ve got to know what he teaches and just developing that each year.”

Dawes admits the change from an Australian Rules dominant state to one that is predominantly rugby was different, but refreshing because it helped her feel more at home in the pathway system.

“Coming from Victoria it’s all like AFL, it’s really different up here, it’s very rugby like,” she said. “Even at schools there’s no fields, no one really follows it, so it was different, it’s quieter, but I kind of like it because when we did all the regional stuff I knew all the girls, it was all the same. “We all got to know each other and we became more of a family so it was cool.”

It has helped Dawes that her family has been so supportive in helping her chase her dream.

“My mum is really supportive, she loves it, she is my number one fan,” Dawes said. “My brother plays too. “He’s 16, but he plays and he loves it too, and my sister just kind of follows whatever we do.”

Dawes said her strengths include accumulation and being able to read the play and the ball from ruck taps and around the ground, indicating a high football IQ. While her fitness “always can” improve, she is just as focused on working on her skills to make the right decisions by hand or foot and reduce rushed disposal.

As for her ultimate goal and club of choice, Dawes summed it up in just two words – “Draft” and “Brisbane”. Should Dawes be granted her wish, she will get the opportunity to continue with her mentor in Starcevich and help the Lions continue their already impressive AFL Women’s history.

VFLW preview: Round 14 – Top sides have bye round as battle for top six continues

TOP two of VFL Women’s have byes this week and while a number of sides are scrabbling for a position come finals, neither Collingwood nor Southern Saints need to worry about their position on the ladder with no chance of moving down regardless of this week’s results. A big match will see sixth placed Melbourne Uni take on Geelong in seventh, with both sides in dire need of a win this week to keep their respective seasons alive and plenty of teams still on the chase for finals chances. Meanwhile, it will be up to Richmond and Western Bulldogs to pull out solid wins this round to remain in control of third and fourth.

CARLTON v. RICHMOND

Round 14 – 10/8/19
11.00
La Trobe University, Bundoora

While Richmond are mostly safe in the top four at this point in the season, their four match losing streak will be right in the front of Carlton’s minds with plenty of firepower in the Blues side if they can drive the ball forward. The Blues may be sitting at the bottom with only two wins for the season but have well and truly put it all on the line a number of times this season with five of their matches resulting in margins less than 10 points. Richmond will be hoping their midseason slump was just that, ready to jump right into finals in the coming weeks. Maddy Prespakis has been impressive in recent weeks so will hope for another solid performance to lift the Blues, and with massive names in Sabrina Frederick and Katie Brennan two potentials up forward for the Tigers this week Carlton will certainly need to lift their game to get over the line or at least put up a fight. Meanwhile, twins Jess and Sarah Hosking were missing from the Blues lineup last week so the side will hope for their return and consistency this week.

WILLIAMSTOWN v. DAREBIN

Round 14 – 10/8/19
11.30
Downer Oval

It will be an interesting match between the two sides, with their last battle in Round 7 lifting Darebin off the bottom of the ladder with a 20 point victory. While both Darebin and Williamstown have improved this season, the Falcons have been able to convert their improvement to wins so are likely to come out of this round with another win on the board. However, the Seagulls do certainly have the talent and drive to get the job done, so Darebin cannot afford to let this one slip away. While the Seagulls are unlikely to lift off the bottom of the ladder with a win, it would be a massive boost for a mostly disappointing season. Lauren Pearce put on a show again last week against the Demons so will look to replicate her phenomenal Round 13 form, while Nell Morris-Dalton has been a great young player for the side adding plenty of firepower to the Darebin lineup. For Williamstown, Sharnie Whiting has stepped up in recent weeks to be a leader in the side while the side will hope for the return of Mo Hope‘s experience.

HAWTHORN v. CASEY

Round 14 – 10/8/19
1.00
Box Hill City Oval

This will be an interesting battle, with Hawthorn sitting toward the top of the ladder but Casey, thanks to a great winning tally at the beginning of the season, only sitting behind by one win and one draw. But while Casey have a chance to redeem themselves after a midseason slump, the Hawks will likely be too strong at home for the inconsistent Demons to get over the line. Hawthorn also have a big opportunity to elevate to a higher position on the ladder with two rounds left after this week so will want to capitalise to set themselves up for finals. Casey’s Kate Hore was fantastic last week kicking the side’s only two goals while Libby Birch and Lily Mithen provided plenty of run against the firing Falcons, so the side will look to maintain possession and push forward against the Hawks. Sarah Perkins and Tamara Luke kicked three goals apiece last round so if left undefended Hawthorn have plenty of players who can pose a dominant force up forward.

GEELONG v. MELBOURNE UNI

Round 14 – 10/8/19
1.00
Deakin University, Geelong

For Geelong, this matchup will be a do or die contest given they are hanging out of the top six by the tiniest of threads. For Uni, a win this week could lock away a finals spot with a bye next week and a final round clash against the wildly talented but inconsistent NT Thunder to end the season. But while Uni have a high scoring ability in their favour the Cats will have the home field advantage and plenty of experienced players ready to take it to the Mugars. Kate Gillespie-Jones is sure to once again be right up in the action after being one of the go-to players for Uni this season, while Katie Angelis also put in a solid performance again last week applying plenty of scoreboard pressure. Richelle Cranston‘s ability to find the ball is impressive so will be a big threat to the Mugars while Danielle Orr had one of her best performance for the season last week despite collecting four behinds so is sure to look to put on a similar but more accurate performance this round.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v. ESSENDON

Round 14 – 10/8/19
4.00
Whitten Oval, Victoria University

While an interesting matchup between two relatively traditional rivals, this game will be an opportunity for the Bulldogs to cement their finals chances with the Bombers putting in some solid performances this season but mostly yet to back it up on a weekly basis. That being said, the Bulldogs are coming into this round off the bye while the Bombers took it to the Southern Saints last round so there is definitely potential for the Bombers to come away with a shock win to finish up the round. For the Bulldogs, Tayla Dinuccio has been one of the most consistent for the side credit to her adaptability in the contest and impressive tackling pressure, aided by the likes of Kirsty Lamb who has been reliable when on the field. Meanwhile, Georgia Nanscawen has been similarly consistent with the likes of Simone Nalder providing plenty of ball from the ruck contest.

BYE: Southern Saints, Collingwood, NT Thunder

VFLW weekend wrap: Round 13 – Top teams remain on the hunt for big wins

ROUND 13 of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s saw a number of big results, with two close matches and two blowouts all but predicting the final match of the round being a close but high scoring affair. With the top three once again putting away wins they are unlikely to slip out of finals contention, though percentage will certainly play a big role coming into the final rounds with a number of teams hoping to make the cut.

ESSENDON 4.0 | 5.0 | 7.1 | 7.2 (44)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS
Essendon:
J. Stassi 2, A. Quigley 2, M. Collier, M. DeMatteo, L. Stepnell.
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw 3, E. Mackie, T. Bohanna, O. Vesely, C. Greiser.

BEST
Essendon:
A. Quigley, G. Nanscawen, M. Collier, K. Heil, F. Frew, J. Stassi
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw, E. Mackie, R. Watt, T. Lucas-Rodd, S. Johnson, O. Vesely

The first match of the round was a down to the wire clash between two sides at completely different ends of the ladder, with the Bombers pushing the Saints at every turn and coming so close to a massive upset. Essendon came out strong, kicking four goals nil in the first to set up a solid lead, however were unable to consolidate their lead in the second, conceding 19 points as the game started to shape up to be an eight-point contest at the main change. The Bombers had another good quarter after the break, finding plenty of the footy and limiting the Saints access, before a massive final quarter from the Saints saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. While Southern Saints fought hard for the victory to continue their winning ways, full credit to the Bombers side keeping the Saints on their toes with accuracy on their side. Jess Stassi and Alexandra Quigley impressed in front of goal, kicking two apiece as the Bombers sought to control the contest. Also right in the action was Georgia Nanscawen, collecting 23 touches and racking up 10 tackles, joined by Shae Audley (22 touches, 10 tackles) and Simone Nalder (30 hitouts). Kate Shierlaw was the sole multiple goalkicker for the Saints with three majors from 15 disposals and five marks, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Emma Mackie (21 disposals, four marks apiece) made their presence felt and Samantha Johnson, Alison Drennan and Fiona Steiert combined for 25 tackles.

RICHMOND 1.4 | 2.12 | 6.15 | 7.16 (58)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS
Richmond:
S. Frederick 2, M. Conti 2, G. Egan, M. Brancatisano, J. Colwell.
Williamstown: S. Whiting.

BEST
Richmond:
M. Conti, K. Dempsey, M. Brancatisano, S. Frederick, A. Woodward, K. Jacques
Williamstown: J. Kawa, S. Whiting, J. Heard, A. Melnikas, I. Porter, E. Straford

It took a dominant performance by the Tigers to jump back into the top four after an average few weeks on the turf, beating a struggling Williamstown by a convincing 48-point margin. But while Richmond well and truly were in control from the get-go, there was little to be happy about with only a 24-point margin at half-time. Granted, the Seagulls had as yet been unable to put a score on the board, however the Tigers’ inaccuracy was a massive issue with 12 behinds and only two goals on the board at the main change – if it were not for the Tigers’ missed opportunities, they would have had a much bigger percentage boosting margin on their hands. The Tigers lifted their game in the second half, kicking five goals to one to cement a convincing win, however the side will be concerned with their accuracy – or lack thereof – heading into the last few rounds before finals. Monique Conti took the field for the first time since early June to bolster the side, kicking two goals on return and collection 18 disposals, five marks and five tackles on her way to best on ground for Richmond. Alice Edmonds was prolific in the ruck with 35 hitouts while Sabrina Frederick kicked two goals from 10 touches in her first win at the club and Alana Woodward collected a whopping 20 tackles. Despite a disappointing overall performance, the likes of Sharnie Whiting (24 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Gemma Anderson (12 disposals, seven tackles) were among the best for the Seagulls.

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 5.5 (35)
CARLTON 0.3 | 0.3 | 2.3 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS
Collingwood:
J. Lambert 2, S. Alexander, N. Hales, S. Chiocci.
Carlton: D. Vescio, C. Leighton, B. Gurr, C. Wilson.

BEST
Collingwood:
B. Davey, J. Lambert, G. Lagioia, A. Porter, S. Casey, G. Buchan
Carlton: C. Dalton, D. Vescio, K. Loynes, L. Brazzale, G. Parker, C. Wilson

It was another close match following Saturday’s battle, with Carlton well and truly taking it to the ladder-leading Magpies to only go down by seven points. The Blues struggled in the first half to put goals on the board, before a four goal to two late resurgence showed some of the impressive intent and intensity this Carlton side can apply. However it was a case of too little and too late with the Magpies just too strong this time around. Once again a match saving goal from Sophie Alexander was what the Pies needed to get over the line, leaving little opportunity for the Blues to claw back. For Collingwood Jaimee Lambert was impressive as ever, kicking another two goals to add to her tally while also picking up 23 touches as she used her footy smarts to both set up clever plays and put goals on the board. Steph Chiocci (20 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continued her good form with another consistent performance while Bri Davey collected 19 touches against her former side despite being ruled out with injury in the final term. For the Blues, Maddy Prespakis was solid with 22 disposals and four marks while Katie Loynes (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Chloe Dalton (16 disposals, 10 tackles) were also right up in the contest.

CASEY 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.6 (18)
DAREBIN 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS
Casey:
K. Hore 2.
Darebin: S. Fairchild, N. Morris-Dalton.

BEST
Casey:
T. Hanks, K. Smith, H. Cordner, G. McLean, M. Downie, A. McDonough
Darebin: L. Pearce, E. O’Dea, V. Blackwood, S. David, A. Lister, K. Roe

In yet another match that kept players on their toes down to the final siren, Darebin gave Casey a scare in a one point thriller at Casey Fields. With two Falcons playing their AFL Women’s side there was a lot on the line for both teams in the relatively low scoring affair, with neither side able to capitalise in front of goal. The Demons started well defensively, keeping the Falcons scoreless in the first but having plenty of issues getting on the board with only one goal in the first half, before the Falcons shot back with one of their own midway through the second to even up the ledger, sitting ahead by one point at half-time. A highly contested third quarter came next, with neither team able to find the goals before a 1.4 final term from the Dees just barely got them over the line after trailing by one at the final change. Kate Hore was Casey’s saving grace, kicking both Demons goals and collecting nine tackles – only behind Shelley Scott with 11 tackles, while Lily Mithen (26 disposals, six marks, seven tackles) and Libby Birch (17 disposals, four tackles) combined well across the field. Meanwhile, Darebin’s Lauren Pearce showcased her versatility to finish with a whopping 35 hitouts, 25 touches, six marks and six tackles, aided by Elise O’Dea who continued her fine form with 24 touches and 10 tackles while Nell Morris-Dalton impressed in her second outing for the side with one goal from 12 touches and six tackles.

GEELONG 4.1 | 6.3 | 7.7 | 9.8 (62)
NT THUNDER 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

GOALS
Geelong:
S. Van De Heuvel 2, G. Clarke 2, R. Caris 2, J. Woollett, M. Maguire, R. Benham.
NT Thunder: T. Thorn, M. Roberts, C. Whan.

BEST
Geelong:
R. Webster, R. Cranston, T. Love, R. Caris, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel
NT Thunder: E. Marinoff, M. Breed, T. Thorn, K. Streader, J. Baird, C. Deegan

In the second blowout margin of the round, Geelong got a convincing win over Thunder to put themselves in a position to push for a top-six finish. A convincing first half all but set up the victory, with six goals to two at the main change giving the Cats plenty of confidence coming into the second half. A more inaccurate second half saw the Cats unable to replicate their strong start, however their defensive effort left little to be desired with only one score on the board to Thunder in the second half. Sophie Van De Heuvel, Georgia Clarke and Rene Caris kicked two goals apiece in a shared effort, collecting a combined 36 touches while Caris followed up her effort in the ruck with 31 hitouts against young gun, Mattea Breed with 18 hitouts and 10 touches. Richelle Cranston racked up 24 touches and 11 tackles in an impressive effort, while Danielle Orr picked up 25 touches and four behinds. For Thunder, Ebony Marinoff made her triumphant return having sat out since Round 2, collecting 25 touches and a phenomenal 19 tackles to be best on ground. Lisa Roberts also put in the hard yards with 15 disposals and seven tackles while Tayla Thorn had 13 touches, five tackles and a goal for her best and most consistent performance this season.

MELBOURNE UNI 2.0 | 6.2 | 7.4 | 8.4 (52)
HAWTHORN 3.0 | 5.0 | 11.0 | 12.3 (75)

GOALS
Melbourne Uni:
K. Angelis 2, K. Gillespie-Jones 2, K. Ashmore, L. Walsh, H. Whitford, J. Garner.
Hawthorn: T. Luke 3, S. Perkins 3, S. Gibbs 2, O. Flanagan 2, P. McWilliams, R. Beeson.

BEST
Melbourne Uni:
K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore, H. Whitford, B. Gibson
Hawthorn: S. Perkins, T. Luke, C. O’Donnell, S. Gibbs, O. Flanagan, J. Sibley

The highest scoring match of the round was always set to be the final game of the weekend with a big battle between fourth and sixth – only separated by percentage. A win to the Hawks sees the two sides all but swap their ladder positions, with Hawthorn jumping into fifth while Uni slip into sixth with Geelong hot on their tail. It was a relatively close affair up to half time with both sides finding patches of good form, before Hawthorn took hold of the lead in the third and refused to let go against a gallant Mugars outfit. The Hawks’ composure and cleanliness impressed, with the side kicking straight for the most part and 11 straight goals by three quarter time to well and truly control the contest. To Uni’s credit they stayed in the match with their tenacity going for the footy, but were unable to consolidate their halftime lead with only two goals after the main break. With six multiple goal kickers spread across the two teams it was an impressive contest, while both sides shared the load well across the field with no dominant standouts. The ruck match between Lou Wotton (34 hitouts, 10 touches, five tackles) and Vivien Saad (28 hitouts, 11 touches, four tackles) was relatively even, making for a very interesting contest with plenty of players getting good access to the footy. Sarah Perkins and Tamara Luke both kicked three for the Hawks, closely followed by Serena Gibbs and Olivia Flanagan with two apiece. For the Mugars, Kate Gillespie-Jones was consistent as ever with 21 disposals and two goals followed by Katie Angelis with another two goals and 14 touches, while Jasmine Garner had another strong performance with 19 touches and a goal.