Category: Womens

2021 NAB League Girls Round 2: Bushrangers fire late to secure second win

MURRAY Bushrangers have won their second game of the 2021 NAB League Girls season with a spirited come-from-behind victory over Geelong Falcons at a wet and windy Epsom Huntly Reserve.

The weather conditions were averse to a fast, free-flowing game with players feeling the strain of kicking into it early. It was the Falcons who took the momentum in the opening term, kicking the only four scores of the quarter, but could only net four behinds. Murray managed to get on the scoreboard in the second term, but could only cut the deficit to three points at the main break to trail 0.5 to 0.2. Murray found the big sticks midway through the third term with back-to-back goals, to race out to a nine-point lead. Geelong then countered with two of their own to lead by four points at the final break and win the first three quarters. It meant little in the end though as Murray, with the aid of the breeze in the final term kicked the last three goals of the match and won by 15 points, 5.3 (33) to 2.6 (18).

Zara Hamilton was outstanding for the winners, feeling the pinch of being tackled on multiple occasions early, but kept spreading and providing an option, whilst Olivia Cicolini looked dangerous in attack with Lily Sharp, and Mindy Quade and Kaylea Kobzan steadfast in defence. The Falcons were led well by talls, Analea McKee and Keeley Hardingham, whilst Charlotte Hardy and Taylah Hassett were impressive in midfield, and Chloe Adams lively in attack during the second half. The teams will have a break before the final Round 9 takes place at the end of the month.

GEELONG FALCONS 0.4 | 0.5 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.0 | 0.2 | 2.2 | 5.3 (33)  

GOALS:

Geelong: C. Adams, K. Hardingham.
Murray: L. Sharp, S. McCarthy, M. Lyons, O.Cicolini, A. Bamblett.

DC BEST: 

Geelong: A. McKee, K. Hardingham, C. Hardy, C. Adams, T. Hassett
Murray: Z. Hamilton, O. Cicolini, L. Sharp, M. Quade, K. Kobzan

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Zara Hamilton (Murray Bushrangers)
4 – Analea McKee (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Olivia Cicolini (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Keeley Hardingham (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Charlotte Hardy (Geelong Falcons)

TOP PERFORMERS:

Geelong:

#2 Charlotte Hardy

The midfielder has had some promising moments throughout the season and really stepped up in the absence of key personnel. She was really prominent early, winning the footy and driving it forward, then also winning a ground level ball to intercept and kick forward. She kept having a crack and was the beneficiary of some free kicks for her efforts. Always lively, Hardy just kept working all game.

#25 Chloe Adams

Was particularly prominent in the second half, kicking the Falcons’ first against the flow of play with a clever kick off the outside of the boot to an open goalsquare and bounce home. Adams also had another shot 40 metres out straight in front but her shot held up and fell short, then showed good dash in the final term bursting through the middle of the ground and kicking forward.

#38 Keeley Hardingham

One of the more prominent rucks this season, Hardingham took advantage through the middle and worked well around the ground with her ruck taps. She was busy with clean hands and a target throughout, often thumping the ball forward or just trying to gain meterage in tough conditions. She had a flying shot on goal in the third term which was marked in the goalsquare, then kicked a quick goal out of nothing late in the term which bounced home to put her side in front at the final break.

#46 Analea McKee

Best on for the Falcons throughout the four quarters, she seemed to have the velcro hands out there with the wet conditions not phasing her. Whilst her wet weather footy approach was good, it was her ground level tackling pressure that stood out, laying some big ones on opponents to lock it up. She worked hard up and down the ground and won touches in all thirds of the ground. She was influential throughout the match and had a running shot on goal in the third term but missed to the left.

Murray:

#1 Olivia Cicolini

The dangerous forward worked up the ground to win a one-on-one contest, and whilst a couple of the early kicks got caught in the breeze, she kept working hard. Had a really strong second half, with a quick kick inside 50 to start the term, before taking a strong mark at half-back and driving it forward. She capped off the performance with a goal inside 50 and kept pushing hard to the final siren.

#6 Lily Sharp

Had some crucial moments in the match, and could have had up to three majors for the day, with an early chance in the second term running into an open goal but hitting the post. Sharp continued to work hard and eventually capitalised with a strong mark by staying in front off a wobbly kick inside 50, nailing the set shot against the breeze. She set up another goal that with a kind bounce which could have gone through for her own, by Sophia McCarthy did not make a mistake on the goal line.

#26 Kaylea Kobzan

Might not have had a ton of touches, but had two direct goal-saving moments and another crucial one-on-one to get it out of the defence. She laid a great goal-saving tackle early in the match, then the next term won a great one-on-one to kick along the ground and out of the back 50, before taking a great goal-saving mark late in the match to clear and ensure Murray went home with the points.

#32 Mindy Quade

Was a reliable force in defence once again, taking some strong intercept marks and driving it out of defence with vigour. She even pulled out a torpedo from half-back to half-forward in the final term, and was vocal in her leadership from the back 50 to steady the ship and help teammates up the field.

#46 Zara Hamilton

The best on ground throughout the match, Hamilton had a starring role through the midfield, finding space and winning plenty of it. She was battered and bruised early through a number of crunching tackles, but kept pushing and worked hard around the ground. She was able to put the ball forward on a number of occasions, and then set up a goal to Lily Sharp courtesy of a floating kick that worked out, but it was her hands around the ground to keep the ball moving, and hard running effort that really stood out in the victory.

OTHERS: 

Mackenzie McGrath was really impressive for the Falcons, particularly in the first half with her pinch-hitting in the ruck and work around the ground, while Sara Howley, Mekah Morrissy and Taiya Morrow also had some prominent moments. For the Bushrangers, India Lehman worked hard, Kristy Whitehead was steadfast in defence, and Sophia McCarthy and Matilda Lyons kicked crucial goals in the match.

Lions claim Grand Final appearance in thrilling win over Magpies

A HARD-fought contest is what you want to see in finals footy, and that is exactly what AFL Women’s fans got in the second preliminary final on Saturday afternoon, with a see-sawing contest eventually seeing Brisbane claim an excellent four-point victory over a tough Collingwood outfit 7.3 (45) to 6.5 (41).

Brisbane was under fire from the get-go, unable to break through the heated Magpies midfield brigade as a dream start saw Jaimee Lambert and Ruby Schleicher hit the scoreboard early, with the hosts unable to get going. A couple of errant Ash Brazill attempts up forward proved the Magpies would not be kept quiet early as they were last week, but a maiden inside 50 for the Lions resulted in its first goal too, as Jess Wuetschner dribbled it through to reduce the lead midway through the term, as the footy went from coast to coast with the two sides worked to establish momentum. 

Ally Anderson and Emma Zielke were proving crucial early hunting for the footy and looking dangerous inside 50, whilst the tight head-to-head battle between Cathy Svarc and Bri Davey early on was a testament to how much was on the line. What was a hot start from both sides saw an extended period with little scoring, as the two sides settled into the contest and a midfield stalemate emerged with the visitors leading 2.3 (15) to 1.1 (7) at the first break.

A huge second quarter began with a Dakota Davidson mark and goal to get the Lions within a couple of points, as Greta Bodey snapped true to take the Lions’ first lead of the day, but the contest would not let up as youngster Tarni Brown piled on the pressure with an excellent running goal. The Magpies had the numbers back limiting scoring chances for the Lions, however a Lions flood through the middle saw neither side able to find clean hands to the footy. But Orla O’Dwyer snapped truly to break through the mess and retake the lead, breaking the defensive stalemate as Davidson booted a second to extend the margin to 10 points. What had been the Magpies’ footy in the first saw the momentum switch and a clear scoring end emerge, with Brisbane’s four straight goals to Collingwood’s one setting up a huge second half of action.

The Magpies needed a quick goal to start the third quarter, and whilst it did not come easy a Sophie Alexander bomb from outside the 50m arc did the trick. A Sharni Norder major put the Magpies back in front by just two points as the momentum swung once more, as Davey broke free of her tight tag to pile on the pressure across the ground. Anderson continued to wreak havoc but was lacking effective backup, as the final quarter came down to confidence and which side could retain momentum.

The final quarter was as tight as could be with an early touched behind from the Lions taking it to a one-point ballgame before a Bodey toepoke in the square saw two straight scores for the home side as the Lions stole back a five-point lead. A shanked kick from Davidson resulted in a Stacey Livingstone mark but sloppiness off the foot saw the Lions claim the footy through Tahlia Hickey and another chance for Davidson, who slotted her third to extend the margin to 11 points. The tough contest continued for the remainder of the match as bodies were sent flying, with both defence-lines holding strong and Brazill booting her maiden goal with 21 seconds on the clock to give the Magpies a sniff, trailing by just four points as the clock wound down to the tune of a Brisbane victory. 

For the winning side, Anderson was hugely influential with 24 touches and six tackles, whilst eight tackle efforts from Svarc and Bodey paid off in the tough affair. Davidson managed three goals from her 12 touches and  five marks, whilst for the Magpies it was surprisingly Brazill who came away with the biggest score for the black and white with 1.2 from her 16 touches and five marks, as her five fellow goalkickers all booted one apiece. Whilst she was held well early by Svarc it was Davey who led all comers with 23 touches, as Britt Bonnici and Schleicher also proved influential.

The Lions will travel to Adelaide next week for their second AFLW grand final appearance against the Adelaide Crows, looking to knock the minor premiers off their perch on home turf.

BRISBANE | 1.1 | 5.1 | 5.2 | 7.3 (45)
COLLINGWOOD 2.3 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS:

Brisbane: D. Davidson 3, G. Bodey 2, J. Wuetschner, O. O’Dwyer.
Collingwood: J. Lambert, R. Schleicher, T. Brown, S. Alexander, S. Norder, A. Brazill.

BESTS:

Brisbane: A. Anderson, D. Davidson, C. Svarc, G. Bodey,
Collingwood: B. Davey, A. Brazill, B. Bonnici, R. Schleicher

Adelaide eyes off third AFL Women’s flag

REIGNING AFL Women’s premiers Adelaide Crows have booked their ticket to the 2021 AFLW Grand Final with a convincing 5.3 (33) to 1.9 (15) defeat of Melbourne in the preliminary final on Saturday at the Adelaide Oval. Although they lost the inside 50 battle 28 to 30, Adelaide were far more efficient going forward and deserve the opportunity to challenge for their third women’s premiership against an impressive Brisbane outfit next week.

Midfielders Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff were the stars for the Crows and clearly the two best players on the ground. Hatchard started the game brilliantly, collecting 18 disposals in the first half and providing plenty of run and carry through the corridor. She finished with 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal in one of her best ever performances. Partner-in-crime Marinoff was just as prominent, equalling Hatchard’s AFLW record for the most disposals in an AFLW match with 35. She also laid 13 tackles and took five marks in the victory.

Despite the loss, Melbourne midfielders Karen Paxman and Tyla Hanks did not have their colours lowered. These two gathered 48 disposals and ten tackles between them and led the Demons to winning the clearance battle 25 to 18. Unfortunately, they did not get much help from their teammates, who were ineffective with their ball use and lacked composure going inside 50.

The match was a tight arm wrestle early, with both sides attacking the ball with ferocity and not allowing their opponents to get many uncontested possessions. Melbourne were on top and repeatedly got the ball inside 50, but Adelaide’s defence held up well under the pressure. Their resistance was led by captain Chelsea Randall until she was involved in a heavy collision halfway through the first term with Melbourne’s Eliza McNamara. Despite both players solely having eyes for the ball, they clashed heads, abruptly left the field and were ruled out of the match with concussion. Due to the AFLW’s 12-day concussion protocol rule, Randall will be unable to compete in the Grand Final. This is a major loss for the home side, as her versatility and leadership has been a key part of the Crows’ resurgence in 2021. Youngster McNamara was a big loss for the Demons in this match as well given her elite running capacity and consistently fierce attack on the ball.

As the two players departed the field, Adelaide superstar Erin Phillips earned a free kick in a marking contest and booted the first goal of the game. While Melbourne were well led in the first term by Paxman (nine disposals) and Hanks (seven disposals), their teammates kept blazing away going forward. This allowed Adelaide defenders to zone off and take easy intercept marks. Late in the term, Kate Hore did well to provide Brenna Tarrant with an opportunity to kick her side’s first, but she hit the post due to some relentless pressure from Sarah Allan.

Early in the second, Shelley Scott got Melbourne fans excited with a spectacular mark at half-back. Melbourne’s pressure went to another level in the second, as they won many holding the ball decisions and gained greater inside 50 dominance. However, this was when Hatchard lifted for the Crows, and she was instrumental in setting up Adelaide’s second major, kicked once again by Phillips. Although Phillips had a quiet first half by her standards, she still kicked the only two goals in that timeframe. Marinoff had 20 disposals and four tackles at the main break.

In the third, draftee Rachelle Martin was the one to break the game open with some explosive passages of play. First, she found forward Chloe Scheer on the lead with a well-weighted kick, and Scheer nailed the set shot from a tight angle to extend Adelaide’s lead to three goals. One minute later, Martin caught Paxman holding the ball with a strong tackle inside 50, which allowed Hatchard to take the advantage kick the Crows’ fourth. Martin continued to apply relentless pressure and bamboozle Melbourne defenders throughout the term, creating many more chances for the Crows that they failed to capitalise on. This meant that they remained less than four goals up at the last break. However, Melbourne were still goalless at three-quarter time, demonstrating how brilliantly Adelaide’s defence was holding up.

While Melbourne tried to turn the tide in the last, Crows livewire Eloise Jones had other ideas. Jones, who played predominantly in defence throughout the contest, pushed forward and soccerred one of the goals of the year with her opposite foot under significant pressure. Thankfully for the Demons, Hore was able to get out the back of Adelaide’s defence in the ninth minute and slot her side’s first major. It was a well-deserved goal for Hore, who toiled hard all day and was one of Melbourne’s most consistent contributors. The Demons got several more chances to hit the scoreboard in the final term, but they were very inaccurate in front of goal. Despite the windy conditions, a couple of the misses were inexcusable. It did not matter in the end, as Adelaide ran out 18-point victors. In seven days, they will attempt to become the first ever back-to-back AFLW premiers in a rematch of the 2017 AFLW decider.

ADELAIDE 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 5.3 (33)
MELBOURNE 0.2 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 1.9 (15)

GOALS:

Adelaide: E. Phillips 2, E. Jones, A. Hatchard, C. Scheer.
Melbourne: K. Hore.

DC BEST:

Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, R. Martin, S. Allan, M. Rajcic
Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, K. Hore, S. Scott, E. Zanker

Picture credit: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos

AFL Women’s Preliminary Finals preview: Final four sides set to face off for grand final spots

THE AFL Women’s competition has reached its penultimate week of action, with only the top four sides remaining in the race for the 2021 premiership. Fremantle and North Melbourne were eliminated in last weekend’s qualifying matches, setting up what should be a cracking day of football. Two sides refreshed after a week off and two sides looking to keep their momentum rolling following wins last weekend have fans around Australia ecstatic for the preliminary finals ahead. Will top two sides Adelaide and Brisbane justify their positions on the ladder, or will Collingwood and Melbourne do Victoria proud and make their first grand final?

ADELAIDE vs. MELBOURNE
Saturday April 10, 2:10pm
Norwood Oval

Following a strong finish to the season, the Crows ended the home and away season on top of the AFLW ladder. This earned them a week off and the home ground advantage in Saturday’s prelim final. Their spot on top of the ladder also comes with a target on their backs, as they are the team to beat – a feat the in-form Demons will be looking to achieve in this match, with recent history on their side. When these sides last met, the Demons upset the Crows by 28 points in a convincing win. This result will give them confidence as they enter Saturday’s match with the underdog tag.

The Crows will be looking to apply the same pressure to their opponents that was applied to them the last time these teams met. The Demons put the Crows under constant and fierce tackling pressure as they ran out 28-point winners. The Crows will be using this as motivation, and if their midfield can grab control of the game as expected, it will be hard for the Demons to repeat the result earlier this season. Either way, expect a close contest as both teams will be fighting to the final siren to secure a spot in the grand final.

Melbourne will be without Daisy Pearce who injured her medial cruciate ligament (MCL) in the Dees’ Round 9 match against Brisbane and missed her side’s qualifying final victory over the Dockers. She remained on light duties at training on Thursday and was ruled out last night to face the Crows. Apart from Pearce, both sides have no unexpected niggles or issues, with the only players ruled out being on the long-term injury list.

The midfield battle will be the key matchup, with Adelaide’s midfield famously elite amongst the competition with a combination of Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips. This trio often have a large say on the result of their games, but Melbourne have proven their engine room is more than up to the task. Led by veteran on-baller Karen Paxman, the Demons have the capability to match the Crows in the middle and will be looking to do exactly that on Saturday.

Records:

Adelaide: 7-2 (1st)
Melbourne: 
7-2 (4th)

Last 5:

Adelaide: 4-1
Melbourne: 4-1

2021 meeting:

Round 9 – Melbourne by 28

Most goals:

Adelaide: Erin Phillips (12)
Melbourne: Kate Hore (11)

BRISBANE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday April 10, 4:10pm
Hickey Park

Despite top four finishes, both teams finished the season in less-than-ideal form. The Lions and the Pies both lost their final game of the season, but the similarities end there. The Pies pulled off a stunning win over North Melbourne last weekend, kicking three goals in the last quarter to pull of a heist and knock the Kangaroos out of the finals series. They will be looking to keep this momentum going but face a tough task against an experienced Brisbane outfit. The Lions have been in this position before, looking to make their third grand final appearance since the competition’s birth in 2017. They have stars all over the field, and earning a home ground advantage is a massive help. Refreshed after a week’s break, this Lions team will be refreshed and hungry to advance.

Last time these teams met in round seven, it proved to be a thrilling clash that went down to the wire. Moved from Brisbane to Victoria due to COVID risk, neutral ground VU Whitten Oval delivered strong winds that made things tough for both sides. The Lions just came out winners by three points, and two Pies players were injured in the process in what proved to be a costly game. Both sides will reflect on that result and should conditions permit, improve on their performance.

Both sides are quite fortunate on the injury front, with each side only ruling out one player each. For the Lions, their relatively clean bill of health continues, with only Lily Postlethwaite unfortunately ruled out due to an ACL tear suffered earlier in the season. For the Pies, they emerge from last week’s win with no fresh injuries. While Lauren Butler will miss this week’s match, she may recover in time for next weekend should the Pies advance, while Sophie Casey has returned from a concussion.

Lions tagger Cathy Svarc will likely once again have her eye on negating the impact of star Pie Bri Davey. When the two sides faced off in round seven, Svarc held Davey to only 14 disposals, well below her usual output. Davey can have a huge impact on any game given free reign, and the Lions will be keen to prevent this from happening.

Records:

Brisbane: 7-2 (2nd)
Collingwood: 7-2 (3rd)

Last 5:

Brisbane: 4-1
Collingwood: 3-2

2021 meeting:

Round 4 – Brisbane by 3

Most goals:
Brisbane:
Dakota Davidson (13)
Collingwood: Chloe Molloy (14)

2021 WAFL Women’s Round 7 preview: Bowen returns to Swans as sides roll out changes after week off

THE West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition top three teams will have a chance to extend their lead on the bottom three sides when they clash with their counterparts for Round 7 in the competition. Top of the table Swan Districts take on fourth placed East Fremantle, reigning premiers Peel Thunder how Subiaco, and third placed Claremont lock horns with South Fremantle.

In the first game of the round early tomorrow morning South Fremantle will search for its first win of the season up against Claremont, with a number of changes made to the Bulldogs’ outfit since Round 6. Reanne Pickett and Kara Turley come onto the bench, while Sheridan Kowald and Everylyn Burry will lock down the key defence. The in-form Claremont will look to bounce back from a loss after four straight wins, bringing back the likes of Sarah Garstone, Kate Orme and Sasha Goranova in a crucial week of inclusions.

With the state’s top youth in Victoria, it will be up to some of the other young talents in Hunter Cronin and Shakira Pickett (South Fremantle) up against still young experienced talents who have garnered AFL Women’s club interest in the past, in Ella Smith and Jess Low. The Tigers midfield and overall depth should be too much with Rachel Ortlepp and Tess Doumanis up opposite ends among more names able to dictate play, while Lauren Vecchio, Tahlia Holtze and Pia Durk form a strong midfield core.

Peel Thunder return to David Grays Arena tomorrow to try and keep separation on third placed Claremont by taking down Subiaco. The Thunder will of course be without their abundance of youth in Victoria for the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, while Subiaco will bring back Lara Filocamo, but lose Maggie Maclachlan as the sides all added extended benches for the match.

The reigning premiers still have more than enough firepower to get by, getting the job done last week, and the forward line containing Kira Phillips, Kate Bartlett and Bailey Molloy, while Tanisha Anderson, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson hold down the defence. For the Lions, Jess Ritchie is a quality ruck to have, was captain Tarnica Golisano, teaming up with Liana Burchell and Lara Filocamo will give the visitors an advantage through the midfield, whilst youngsters Kia Buckley and Jamie Rust are others up forward to watch.

In the final game of the round, East Fremantle will plot to overthrow the previously unbeaten Swan Districts, and have a massive chance to do so with some huge chances. They do lose the likes of Alex Williams, Anjelique Raison, Kahra Sprylan, Evie Gooch and Alli Nokes, but have regained the services of Sharon Wong and Kate Inglis-Hodge onball, Paisley Prentice and Sara Lewis up forward, and Rosie Walsh named at full back upon return for the Sharks.

Swan Districts will be without Mikayla Morrison – though she has been named as an out before and still played – as well as reliable defender-turned-ruck Aimee Ralph. They regain a massive inclusion in West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen who will dictate the midfield for the Swannies now the Eagles’ season is over in the AFL Women’s, and work well with the likes of Jess Cox and Kloe Taylor in there. With tall targets Emily McGuire and Sarah Wielstra up either end and some other youngsters in Jaime Henry and Danielle Wright to look out for, Swan Districts still has plenty of talent.

WAFL WOMEN’S ROUND 7 FIXTURE:

Claremont vs, South Fremantle
Peel Thunder vs. Subiaco
East Fremantle vs. Swan Districts

Image Credit: (Retrieved from) West Coast FC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: Russell Freeman/AFL Photos

2021 AFLW U19 Championships: Six top-agers to watch

THE AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships has got underway with Vic Country and South Australia victorious over Vic Metro and Western Australia respectively in the past fortnight, but now the full week of matches – two match days – takes place in Melbourne. As an additional preview for the tournament, we take a look at a top-ager to keep an eye on from each side. Top-agers are 19-year-old – or turning 19-year-old – prospects who for one reason or another missed out on being drafted last year, and have returned to the junior pathways for another crack at standing out and representing their state.

ALLIES: Jayde Hamilton (North Melbourne VFLW)

The NSW-ACT hard nut received a Draft Combine invitation last year and showed in her bottom-age year at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships that she was not afraid to crack in and win the contested ball. Fast forward to 2021, and whilst she missed out on gaining a place on an AFL Women’s list, she has joined her sister Lexi – ex-Gold Coast Suns tall – at North Melbourne in the VFL Women’s. As someone who is good on the inside around the clearances, she will no doubt crack in once again for the Allies.

“I’m very competitive, so I always want to win which is probably bad and good,” Hamilton told Draft Central last year. “But it’s having fun, I think that’s still the main part of enjoying it and every moment on the field.”

 

QUEENSLAND: Keyshia Matenga (Coolangatta Tweed)

The speedy over-age talent is one of a number of Queensland players who have garnered attention over the past 18 months, providing great run and carry throughout the QAFL Women’s competition. A member of grand finalists Coolangatta Tweed last season, Matenga is a player who has the perfect balance of power and speed having come from a touch football and Rugby Sevens background, as well as karate and swimming as a youngster.

“I feel like my speed is more better in that area instead of in the midfield where the ball will just be hit down and I’m quite small as well so I can just be wrapped up,” Matenga said to Draft Central last year. “(I want to work on) just hitting targets more and scooping up the ball through the offensive play or transition play, or transitioning from defence to offence.”

 

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Jade Halfpenny (Norwood)

South Australia has a ridiculous amount of top-age talent given it just feeds the one club in its state, and the talent overflows into other states for the elite level. Jade Halfpenny is one of a number of talents this season who have gone to another level, adding an inside midfield string to her bow, with the athleticism and contested marking ability she has as a 175cm tall forward. Throw in her remarkable speed and second efforts with her fierce tackling, and she has quite the package that will likely standout at the championships.

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

 

VIC COUNTRY: Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)

The Bendigo Pioneers midfielder/forward has been one of the most consistent players across the NAB League Girls competition, and has some elite traits that standout at any level. Whilst still working on some areas of her game, Snell’s athleticism – in particular her burst speed and agility – sets her aside from most other midfielders, whilst also having great goal sense when inside 50. She might be a future pressure forward who can roll through the midfield in future years, but Snell is someone who has progressed to be a very important player for both the Pioneers and Vic Country.

“We’ve got two girls from Bendigo who have been training with us quite a lot as well, Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning, they’re both 19th-year players with Bendigo,” Essendon VFLW operations manager Charlotte Miller told Draft Central during preseason. “They’re playing in the NAB League season but we’re going to try and get them in games down here as soon as we can. “They’ve been training really well, their attitude is great and they’re bringing everything they can to the sessions.”

 

VIC METRO: Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights)

A dominant inside midfielder, Chaplin is just a natural ball-winner who can take control on the inside for her side, and also hit the scoreboard. On multiple occasions this season, Chaplin was able to just step up when she was required to do so, and whilst she has copped a couple of knocks this year, has the potential to add to the Vic Metro midfield. A player who will have no issues whatsoever stepping up to the VFL Women’s competition, Chaplin has been outstanding for the Knights and a real driving force at the coalface.

“I definitely tried to use (the lockdown period) to my advantage and I really worked on myself mentally,” Chaplin told Draft Central last year. “It was a big thing for me because I didn’t really have the time like I do now to just focus on myself. “It was a time for me to understand that I really do want to get far in footy and that I am prepared to play at a professional level. “In order to do that I really wanted to mature in those areas.”

 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Dana East (Swan Districts)

Of everyone on this list, East stands alone in the sense that 12 months ago she was not playing at the same state level as many of her contemporaries. The now-Swan Districts standout midfielder was dominating for Donnybrook Football Club in the South West Football League. She has since moved due to further studies, and took up the chance to play at Swan Districts, and has starred at the WAFL Women’s level for the unbeaten Swans. Throughout multiple games this season, East has been clean by hand and smooth-moving through the midfield, able to hit the scoreboard as well.

West Australian Female Talent Manager Clint Degebrodt commented throughout a Swans’ game earlier in the season that East worked so hard during the off-season that the State Academy coaches could barely hold her back, and it is showing in her performances this season.

2021 Draft Central’s VFL Women’s Team of the Year: Round 6

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition prepares to restart after the Easter Weekend break, Draft Central, in conjunction with Women’s Australian Football Radio (WARF) has compiled a Team of the Year to date in Round 6. It is an even spread across the board with eight of the 12 competing teams recording two players, and the remaining three sides having the one representative in a realistic, 16-starter and four-bench side.

Ladder leaders Port Melbourne have two players in the side, with ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke named in the forward pocket, and experienced former AFL Women’s player in Mel Kuys in the centre. The other undefeated side in Collingwood just has the one player in there, with forward Imogen Barnett making the team after booting eight goals in the first five games, one less than leader Locke. In between the pair of forwards is Hawthorn’s Jessie Williams who straightens the team up at full-forward, the sole Hawk in the team.

At half-forward, ex-Cannon Alana Barba earned a place in the side with the inside midfielder booting a goal a game in her first five games to book a starting spot on the flank. She was named in the side with fellow midfielder Georgia Nanscawen with the ex-Roo named ruck rover. The other onballer in the side is ex-Geelong Falcon Paige Sheppard, with the rover’s teammate Tamara Smith – another ex-Bushranger – named on the bench. In the ruck is Western Bulldogs’ Nicole McMahon who has been superb all season, whilst teammate Simone Ruedin has been a rock in defence.

Holding up the fort at full-back is Carlton’s Jennifer Lew, who is in the back six with another Blue in Akayla Peterson, who has spent time at both ends, also kicking three goals this season. Ex-Magpie Grace Buchan is in the back pocket but instead for Casey Demons this season, whilst teammate Eliza West is on the interchange. At half-back, Williamstown’s Erin Meade will provide some run for the hypothetical team, whilst centre half-back Meagan Kiely rounds out the defence. The North Melbourne tall is in the side with talented Tasmanian goalkicker Sarah Skinner, with the reigning TSL Women’s league best and fairest winner making an impact at VFL Women’s level.

The last remaining starting player is centre half-forward Tara Bohanna with the Southern Saint able to chop out in the ruck when forward. She should not need to though, with Darebin Falcons’ sole representative in Sidney Cubasch to provide that rotation with McMahon, whilst Bohanna’s Saints’ teammate Hannah Stuart rounds out the interchange. In terms of emergencies and those unluckiest to miss out, it is a trio of defensive players in Southern Saints’ Rebecca Neaves, North Melbourne’s Molly Eastman and Darebin Falcons’ Gena Lawson-Tavan.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S VFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR: ROUND 6

B: Simone Ruedin (WB) – Jennifer Lew (CAR) – Grace Buchan (CD)
HB: Akayla Peterson (CAR) – Meagan Kiely (NM) – Erin Meade (WILL)
C: Mel Kuys (PM)
HF: Alana Barba (ESS) – Tara Bohanna (SS) – Sarah Skinner (NM)
F: Sophie Locke (PM) – Jessie Williams (HAW) – Imogen Barnett (COLL)
R: Nicole McMahon (WB) – Georgia Nanscawen (ESS) – Paige Sheppard (GEE)
INT: Sidney Cubasch (DF) – Tamara Smith (GEE) – Hannah Stuart (SS) – Eliza West (CD)

EMG: Rebecca Neaves (SS) – Molly Eastman (NM) – Gena Lawson-Tavan (DF)

Werribee and Sandringham to host AFLW U19 Championships

AVALON Airport Oval and Trevor Barker Oval will play host to the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships next week, after the two grounds were picked as the venues for the rescheduled championships.

After having a couple of lead-up matches with South Australia accounting for Western Australia by a goal in a thriller, and Vic Country too good for Vic Metro, the teams all prepare for their next challenges. Originally scheduled to be held at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, the COVID-19 scare last week meant the AFL had to reschedule to ensure the championships were not under a cloud after missing entirely due to the same pandemic last year.

Instead it will take a different look in 2021 with Queensland not attending the first leg of the championships, and will instead play the Victorian sides in May. Starting on Monday, South Australia will take on Vic Country, and Western Australia will face the Allies, at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee. Those games will kick off from 10am and 12.30pm respectively. The Woomeras and Medleys are also anticipated to clash throughout the championships in a show of the terrific Indigenous and international talent running around in the junior pathways.

Next Thursday, April 15, Vic Metro enters the fray again and will take on Western Australia from 10am, with the Allies and South Australia locking horns from 12.15. Both games will be played at Sandringham’s Trevor Barker Oval, where Country defeated Metro last week. The Vic Country and Queensland match on May 23, and the Queensland and Vic Metro match on May 29, are yet to have formalised venues.

AFL WOMEN’S UNDER 19 CHAMPIONSHIPS CONFIRMED VENUES:

Monday, April 12: Avalon Airport Oval

South Australia vs. Vic Country @ 10am
Western Australia vs. Allies @ 12.30pm

Thursday, April 15: Trevor Barker Oval

Vic Metro vs. Western Australia @ 10am
Allies vs. South Australia @ 12.15pm

2021 SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 6

STURT has come away with a league-high four players in the Draft Central South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Team of the Week for Round 6, in what was an even spread across the competition. Six of the eight sides followed suit with three players apiece, whilst South Adelaide had the two players in for the week.

The Double Blues had a dominant midfield in the draw with Glenelg, and the likes of Kate Harris and Jaimee Wittervan both feature in the Team of the Week. Ruck Jess Good was named vice-captain in the team for her season competition-high 46 hitouts, whilst Hannah Prenzler returned from captaining her state to have a great game in defence. The captain of the side was on the opposition team, with the Bays’ Ellie Kellock named in the centre, while Lucy Armitage and Jessica Bates also made the side. Madisyn Freeman came close to making it in, named as an emergency for Round 6, alongside another Sturt talent in Isobel Kuiper.

West Adelaide had the next most players across the 27 players named, with three players in the Team of the Week, and an additional emergency as well. Keeley Kustermann and Chelsea Biddell earned starting spots up their respective ends, as Louella McCarthy made her way onto the bench. Ailish Considine earned her place as an emergency for Round 6. South Adelaide only had the two players made the side this round, with key position talents, Brianna Wedding (defence) and Montana McKinnon (ruck) both standing up in the loss to earn their places in the side.

Central District’s big win over North Adelaide saw Paige Allan enter the team for Round 6, whilst Katelyn Rosenzweig made the side once again at full-forward. Another first-time Team of the Week member in Isabelle Starmer was named on the bench representing the Bulldogs. Despite the defeat, North Adelaide still had three Roosters in the team, as Kristi Harvey once again locked down full-back for the sixth consecutive week. Erica Greet (wing) and Lauren Daniel (interchange) also earned their spots in the side after strong performances.

In the final game, Norwood’s Sophie Armitstead rounds out the onball group after a standout performance, while Jade Halfpenny stood up in crucial moments to be named on the wing after playing forward and onball, while Elizabeth Drake booted two goals and was named in the forward pocket. Their opponents Woodville-West Torrens Eagles had a couple of defenders in Nicole Collie and Renee Forth slotting in the back pocket and half-back after their defensive efforts, while Kiana Lee was strong overhead up forward to earn a place in the team.

DRAFT CENTRAL SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 6

B: Hannah Prenzler (ST) – Kristi Harvey (NA) – Nicole Collie (WWT)
HB: Keeley Kustermann (WA) – Brianna Wedding (SA) – Renee Forth (WWT)
C: Erica Greet (NA) – Ellie Kellock (GL) (c) – Jade Halfpenny (NW)
HF: Paige Allan (CD) – Chelsea Biddell (WA) – Lucy Armitage (GL)
F: Elizabeth Drake (NW) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Kiana Lee (WWT)
R: Jess Good (ST) (vc) – Sophie Armitstead (NW) – Kate Harris (ST)
INT: Jessica Bates (GL) – Lauren Daniel (NA) – Louella McCarthy (WA) – Montana McKinnon (SA) – Isabelle Starmer (CD) – Jaimee Wittervan (ST)

EMG: Ailish Considine (WA) – Madisyn Freeman (GL) – Isobel Kuiper (ST)