Tag: 2021 vflw

2021 VFLW team review: Southern Saints

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Southern Saints.

Position: 6th
Wins: 7
Losses: 7
Draws: 0
Percentage: 115.2%

Season in a Sentence: “2021 offered a bit of everything for the Southern Saints, who produced both three-game winning and losing runs in what was ultimately a satisfyingly even 7-7 season.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Tara Bohanna

The 26-year-old key forward returned sensational numbers as the Saints’ focal point in attack, averaging 16.8 disposals, 4.4 marks, 7.2 hit-outs and booting 19 goals in her 16 games. Bohanna was held goalless just four times in 2021, and her efforts culminated in richly deserved best and fairest honours.

Gabriella De Angelis

From tall to small, De Angelis was another important part of the Saints’ forwardline. The speedy 20-year-old snared 11 goals in her 15 appearances this season, booting two on four seperate occasions to showcase her constant attacking threat. She ended up third in her side’s best and fairest count.

Deanna Jolliffe

One of three co-captains who means plenty to the Southern Saints squad, Jolliffe lead from the front in her 15 outings this season. She averaged 14.3 disposals and 5.7 tackles and 2.8 clearances as a tough member of the midfield group, capping her season by taking out the Saints’ coaches award.

Hannah Stuart

Another of the Saints’ prime midfield movers, Stuart hardly missed a beat in her 15-game campaign with strong averages of 18.5 disposals, 5.9 tackles, and 3.8 clearances. The 27-year-old was named among her side’s best players on nine occasions in 2021, enough to be the runner-up best and fairest.

AFLW TALENT:

So consistent was Alice Burke‘s form at VFLW level, she finished fourth in the best and fairest count with averages of 21 disposals and 6.5 tackles in 11 games. Fellow youngster Renee Saulitis also fared well with an extended run, while Jess Matin was another who earned a senior berth on the back of strong form. The likes of Hannah Priest, Tyanna Smith and Molly McDonald impacted in their short stints, and Nadia Von Bertouch played nine games before being delisted and suiting up for Hawthorn.

OTHERS:

The Saints had a nice spread of contributors from their VFLW-listed group. Alexandra Hynes emerged as a promising ruck option throughout the season, while Lucy Burke held down her post in defence, and Rebecca Neaves earned plaudits alongside Madison Capsalis and Melanie Bertuna. Co-captain Frankie Hocking was another valuable member of the squad across her six appearances, as Kayla Ripari rounded out a trio of players to feature in all 16 games.

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW team review: Port Melbourne

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Port Melbourne.

Position: 3rd
Wins: 10
Losses: 4
Draws: 0
Percentage: 128.9%

Season in a Sentence: “The Borough’s maiden VFLW campaign started like a house on fire with seven-straight wins, culminating in a terrific regular season and finals qualification.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Olivia Barton

Fresh out of the Oakleigh Chargers NAB League program, Barton slotted comfortably into Port Melbourne’s defence and became an important member of the side throughout her 11 appearances. The 20-year-old averaged 12.3 disposals and 2.9 rebound 50s in a solid 2021 campaign, often standing up under immense pressure.

Courteney Bromage

One of the league’s most punishing and prolific tacklers, Bromage averaged 9.5 across 15 outings in 2021 – laying as many as 14 on two occasions and no less than five. She was one of just three Borough players to have featured in all 15 games, and found a good amount of her own ball as she set the tone where it mattered most.

Claire Dyett

Dyett found a home on the wing for Port Melbourne and made it her own with terrific two-way running. A noted team player who gave her all across 14 appearances in 2021, the 23-year-old averaged 11.7 disposals and 4.4 tackles per game while also snaring a handful of goals spread individually across the season.

Melissa Kuys

Kuys was the Borough’s big coup for their maiden VFLW season and an outstanding candidate for captaincy, a role which she carried with class. The former Collingwood and St Kilda-listed midfielder proved reliable in 2021 across all 15 games, averaging 14.3 disposals and a tick over three clearances as a key driver out of the engine room.

Sophie Locke

Another who thrived in her first year out of the NAB League, Locke transitioned to somewhat of a new role up forward and was incredibly effective. While injury halted her early run of form, the 20-year-old still turned out 12 times for the Borough and booted 13 goals, including two hauls of three. She earned an AFLW Draft Combine invite for her exploits.

AFLW TALENT:

While still a proud standalone club, Port Melbourne benefitted greatly from its link with Richmond’s AFLW side. Delisted forward Emily Harley lead the Borough’s goalkicking with 14 goals, and fellow tall Cleo Saxon-Jones also fared well once fit. Hannah McLaren, Sarah Sansonetti, and Laura McCelland all ticked up to 10 games, while youngsters Ellie McKenzie, Maddy Brancatisano, and Sophie Molan, and new Collingwood forward Sabrina Frederick also enjoyed impactful late stints at the level.

OTHERS:

Holly Bailey was the third Borough player alongside Kuys and Bromage to feature in every game, averaging just under 10 touches per game. Ruck Abbey Tanner was part of the leadership group and played her role well, while Philippa Peschke proved another strong contributor. Recent AFLW draftees Aurora Smith, Ashleigh Richards, Brooke Vickers, and Amanda Ling also gained good experience at the level in 2021.

2021 VFLW team review: Casey Demons

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Casey Demons.

Position: 4th
Wins: 8
Losses: 6
Draws: 0
Percentage: 156.3%

Season in a Sentence: “A team which could turn it on and compete with any other side on their day, the Casey Demons loomed as a dangerous finals proposition but narrowly bowed out in week one.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Samantha Johnson

The skipper was a big coup for the Demons in 2021 having joined after a one-year stint with St Kilda’s AFLW side, proving a natural leader with her presence and experience. Averaging 12.4 disposals and 5.6 tackles across her 14 games, Johnson helped set the tone for Casey at the source and was among her side’s best most weeks.

Meg Macdonald

A player who others can rely on, Macdonald was another terrific addition for the Demons’ midfield mix. Her toughness and hard tackling pressure gave Casey another dimension of physicality around the ball, and she was durable enough to play all 15 games this season. She averaged 12.3 disposals, 5.6 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s across those outings, proving quite productive in the process.

Imogen Milford*

One of the multiple Casey products to have recently landed an AFLW berth, Milford did so upon becoming one of the VFLW’s most prolific goalkickers. She came second in this year’s overall tally with 19 goals in 15 games and was a great fit for Carlton’s senior side come draft time. While able to impact around the big sticks, Milford is a mobile type of tall forward who can work up the ground and bring some dynamism to the attack.

Eliza West*

Another Demon who now finds herself among the AFLW ranks, West was arguably Casey’s most consistent, reliable, and best player in 2021. She remains a Demon having been elevated by Melbourne, and it was no surprise after she put up averages of 22.3 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, and a goal every other game. She got it done week after week in midfield and proved undeniable in the end.

* – denotes currently AFLW-listed

AFLW TALENT:

Megan Fitzsimon and Mietta Kendall were among the young, senior-listed Demons to have made double-digit appearances in the reserves, though Kendall has since been delisted. The likes of Eliza McNamara, Alyssa Bannan, and Eden Zanker impacted late in the season after impressive top flight campaigns, while fellow prospects Brenna Tarrant and Maggie Caris also enjoyed strong stints at the level.

OTHERS:

Casey was quite a strong side across the board in terms of VFLW-listed contributors, serviced well by the likes of Shree Fairchild and Emma Horne – who both played all 15 games. Ally Kirkwood and Ali Brown brought strong presence to the team, with Brown another who has jumped (back) up to the elite level. Vice-captain Grace Buchan was also solid across her nine outings, averaging over 12 touches.

2021 VFLW team review: Carlton

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Carlton.

Position: 8th
Wins: 6
Losses: 8
Draws: 0
Percentage: 79.7%

Season in a Sentence: “Despite wins against two top four sides and its inspired late-season charge, a five-game losing streak put Carlton firmly on the outer in terms of finals contention.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Ally Bild

The 22-year-old skipper was a reliable figure for her side across 12 games this season, locking down her usual spot in defence with averages of 10.1 disposals, 2.6 marks, and 2.3 rebound 50s. Bild often had plenty to do and looked to drive her side out of the back half in relentless fashion, forming a strong partnership with vice-captain, Jen Lew during the early part of the season in that sense.

Steph Lawrence

One of just three Blues who managed to play in all 14 games this season, Lawrence also topped her side’s goalkicking charts with a perfect goal-per-game average. A mainstay in the key position posts, it wasn’t always easy being a Carlton forward this year, but Lawrence scored in her last six outings and notched two majors on four seperate occasions.

Jennifer Lew

While Lew was sidelined for much of the year and only played six games, she proved a crucial member of the side each time she got on the park. A rock in defence across the first four rounds, the vice-captain had plenty to do in those outings before injury struck. She returned to the fold in Round 13 and made good on a switch up forward, finishing the year with averages of 18 disposals, 4.5 marks and 4.7 tackles.

Akayla Peterson

Arguably the find of the year for Carlton, Peterson offered plenty of forward drive across her 10 games. She was stationed mostly out on the wing and enjoyed stints up forward, running all day and causing headaches for the opposition with her speed. With averages of 15.2 disposals, 4.0 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s and a goal every other game, Peterson’s work-rate proved a key part of Carlton’s cause.

AFLW TALENT:

The Blues stacked up their side with some incredibly influential AFLW talent towards the end of the year. Paige Trudgeon (13) and Charlotte Hammans (10) were the only senior-listed Blues to notch double-figure appearances, as the likes of Grace Egan and Abbie McKay made massive impacts in their brief stints. Lucy McEvoy was another who fared well in four games, while Maddy Guerin added a spark and Courtney Jones proved a key goalkicker with 10 majors in nine outings.

OTHERS:

Bry Gurr and Millie Klingbeil were the two other Blues to play every game in 2021 alongside Lawrence, while ruck Jorja Borg proved a key cog with her 24.7 hit-outs per game across 13 appearances. Teresa Zampaglione was one who provided a bit of speed to both sides of midfield with 12.8 disposals and 4.8 tackles per game, as leadership group member Esther Honybun also contributed strongly throughout the year, only missing one game.

2021 VFLW Finals – Week 2 preview

FOUR teams are set to become two as the second week of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals begins on Saturday. If the ladder is anything to go by, Collingwood is a clear contender given their monumental season that consisted of a clean sweep of wins in the competition. Despite Collingwood coming into the semi-finals with the upper-hand, there is no doubt that all the four teams will be facing the heat, as the pressure builds up to see who will take out the premiership this year.

COLLINGWOOD vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, July 10 @ 12:00pm
Victoria Park

Essendon will be heading into the opening game with a vengeance as they take on the team with a 14-game winning streak. The last time these two sides met was in Round 8 when the Bombers were overpowered by 10 points as a result of a dominant Collingwood side. Expect the likes of Georgia Nanscawen to play a pivotal part of their game, with her performance in last week’s win against the Casey Demons unstoppable as the 29-year-old impressed with her versatility on the field. Eliza West is another name from Essendon in the mix to play on Saturday, whose consistency with handballs and kicks have massively contributed to the Bombers’ performance so far. Lauren Ahrens, Cecila McIntosh and Georgie Prespakis will also be beneficial in the Bombers quest to overthrow the Pies. Collingwood’s aim to continue their perfect run so far has some easy picks. Midfielders Joanna Lin and Mikaela Cann are two youngsters who both got in amongst the action during the first elimination final with Geelong. The trio of Chole Molloy, Lauren Butler and Amelia Velardo would be ones to watch given their performances were stellar in the game against Geelong last week, while Jennifer Guy returns to the fray.

GEELONG vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Saturday, July 10 @ 2:00pm
GMHBA Stadium

It will be important for Geelong to get the win given that they saw defeat against Collingwood in the first final last week. There will be no more chances for either side come Saturday. The Cats will want to keep momentum, as the last time these two sides met Geelong took out the win on both occasions. Despite the winning streak advantage for the Cats, the Southern Saints are looking to put everything on the line in an effort to progress to the prelim next week. Among the best performers for Geelong, they will be looking to Laura Gardiner, Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard who rank among the top ten in the competition for disposals, kicks and handballs. Olivia Fuller and Madeleine Boyd’s consistency throughout the season can contribute a healthy amount to Geelong on Saturday afternoon. For the Southern Saints, Gabriella De Angelis‘s fierce impact during last week’s final will prove a valuable asset for the side, as will the dynamics of Tara Bohanna and Hannah Stuart. Both players delivered equally impressive performances particularly last week against Port Melbourne.

 

Picture credit: Collingwood VFLW

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Finals Week One

FINALS time finally rolled around in the VFL Women’s, with three enthralling games played out over the weekend and even more intriguing matchups to look forward to. A raft of current and former NAB League talents continue to roll through the competition, we take a look at how they performed in the first round of finals.

>> Results: VFLW Finals Week One

Pegged as the closest matchup across all three week one fixtures, Casey and Essendon played out a belter to open proceedings. The Bombers came out on top and remain the sole standalone side left, winning 5.5 (35) to 5.2 (32) on enemy territory. A bunch of high level youngsters aided the victors’ cause, none more so than pick one contender Georgie Prespakis who notched 14 disposals and laid 10 tackles in the famous sash.

Fellow Calder players Zali Friswell (nine disposals), Tahlia Gillard (17 hit-outs), and Emelia Yassir also gained some senior finals experience, while former Cannons Alana Barba (18 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal) and Tamsin Crook were among the Bombers’ best. Top 10 candidate Tara Slender also found the big sticks for Essendon, as Murray Bushrangers graduate Eloise Ashley-Cooper managed seven touches and six tackles.

In the losing Casey side, 18-year-old Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser contributed seven disposals and as many hit-outs in her fourth game at the level. Eastern Ranges product Mietta Kendall, who was recently delisted by Melbourne, also continued in the state league and found eight touches, while former Richmond and Eastern player Emma Horne had it seven times.

In comparison to the Casey-Essendon clash, graduates were more sparse and quiet in the qualifying final between Collingwood and Geelong. The Magpies were pushed all the way in a six-point win, with Olivia Meagher (six disposals, one goal) their only current or VFLW-listed NAB Leaguer afield.

The Cats continued to blood a key trio of graduates, starting with leadership group member Tamara Smith. She was busy with eight touches and two behinds, while also getting stuck in to lay nine tackles. Geelong Falcons graduate Paige Sheppard had it eight times for Geelong, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels favourite Chloe Leonard notched nine disposals.

Southern Saints caused the upset of the weekend, advancing to week two via a resounding 34-point victory over the third-ranked Port Melbourne. There was plenty of young talent fielded by both sides, starting with Saints mainstay Gabby De Angelis. She featured among her side’s best players and found the goals, while Melanie Bertuna (13 disposals, five tackles) was also productive.

Sandringham Dragons top-ager Charlotte Ryan proved a handy fold for the Saints with 11 touches in her second game, joined by NAB League teammates Emma Stuber and Pia Staltari in the side. Dandenong Stingrays defender Jemma Radford also ran out in red, white and black, playing against usual teammates Ash Richards and Jaide Anthony, who lined up for the Borough.

Oakleigh Chargers premiership stars Amanda Ling and Brooke Vickers also donned Port colours, while graduates Olivia Barton (15 disposals) and Emily Harley were among their side’s strongest contributors. Vickers and Harley both snared goals, as did AFLW Draft Combine invitee Sophie Locke. Fellow Murray graduate and combine invitee Aurora Smith was another to turn out for Port, earning eight disposals.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

PREVIEW | 2021 VFL Women’s Finals: Week One

THE 2021 VFL Women’s finals series has arrived, with the top six teams set to battle it out for premiership glory after 14 enthralling home-and-away rounds. After a year away, the competition was reformatted to see the AFLW and NAB League seasons run concurrently with Victoria’s state league, seeing players from both the aforementioned leagues filter into all 12 teams in different ways.

This year’s finals campaign sees three sides take part in their maiden finals series, with Port Melbourne among them at the pointy end of its inaugural VFLW season. Reigning premier, Collingwood remains the hot favourite to take out this year’s flag, having become just the second-ever team to go through the regular season undefeated. We preview all three of the week one fixtures, with comment from key players of each team.

>> SCROLL for the finals fixture tree

2ND ELIMINATION FINAL

Casey Demons vs. Essendon
Saturday July 3, 12:00pm
Casey Fields

Records:
Casey – 4th, 8-6, 155.96%
Essendon – 5th, 8-6, 155.95%

2021 H2H:
Round 2 – Casey Demons 3.4 (22) def. by Essendon 4.7 (31) @ Casey Fields

Last 5:
Casey – 2-3
Essendon – 2-3

It is only fitting that Casey and Essendon begin their respective maiden VFLW finals campaigns against each other, as they lock horns at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon. This is the tightest matchup of the lot after 14 home-and-away rounds, with the two sides boasting equal 8-6 records and separated by just 0.1 per cent on the ladder. They are also both 2-3 across their last five outings, with their only previous meeting in 2021 seeing the Bombers salute to the tune of nine points at the same venue.

Plenty has changed since then, though, according to Demons midfielder Eliza West.

“[Essendon] was so physical and I think it surprised us and we weren’t ready for that level of physicality,” West said. “But now after playing for a little while we’ve obviously improved on that because we’ve had to focus on it, and I think coming into the game this week that’ll be a big point for us. We’ll go in ready to play hard and win the footy.”

Bombers skipper Georgia Nanscawen, who has enjoyed a stellar season in the engine room, says calling the matchup close is “pretty spot on.”

“Our matchup against them earlier in the year was a very close game,” Nanscawen said. “When you look at the ladder, I think there was 0.1 of a percent [difference] or something. You can’t get much closer than that so it should be a cracking game.”

While they are incredibly closely matched, there remains a key point of difference between these two adversaries. Essendon is the lone purely non-AFLW aligned team to feature among this year’s finalists, making for another landmark to be “proud” for Nanscawen and her standalone squad of Bombers.

“I’m really loving my time at the Bombers and for our first finals campaign as a club, it’s certainly special to be a part of,” she said. “To be the non-aligned club shows that we can match it with those aligned clubs and hopefully we can have a good finals series.

“We’ve come back refreshed after the break, we’ve had a really good couple of weeks and we’re feeling great so I think anything can happen on the weekend.”

While the Bombers may not be able to lean on its own group of currently senior-listed stars, its emerging crop of youngsters has plenty of fans and pundits alike eager to see how they fare. Having blazed her own trail through the NAB League pathway with Calder Cannons, Essendon forward Alana Barba is excited to see what the next generation can produce come finals time.

“It’s really exciting to see some of the prospects coming through,” Barba said. “A lot of them have done pretty well on their debuts, and going up against the bigger bodies they’ve held their ground and they’ve really come in strong. “It’s exciting to see where they go in the future, whether that’s at the Bombers or anywhere on an AFLW list, they’ll do well.

“I guess I try and take them under my wing a bit because I’ve come through the same pathway as them. But they hold their ground pretty well and they’re very keen as we all are, so it’ll be exciting to see how they go.”

Nanscawen also pointed towards an AFLW draft pick one candidate for her choice of a potential “difference maker”.

“We’ve got Georgie Prespakis who had a great game last week,” she said. “That was her second game for us and she’s improved across the two games already, so we’re pretty excited to see what she can do in a finals series.”

On the flip side, Casey will field up to 10 AFLW-listed players on Saturday and have been able to take plenty from the senior Melbourne side – including an exciting gameplan. Demon Ally Kirkwood says her side is excited for the opportunity to implement it throughout the finals campaign.

“I think the gamestyle we want to play is really exciting,” Kirkwood said. “It’s definitely something the Melbourne AFLW girls implemented and it worked for them through finals. “Unfortunately they didn’t make the grand final but I think we will. That’s what’s really exciting for us; we’re all prepared to play [the gameplan], we’ve been training it for the whole season and we’ve gotten really good at it.”

In terms of the key players to watch for Casey, Kirkwood gave West a good pump-up while standing by her side on Monday’s finals launch day. West had a player of her own in mind, and both promise to provide the sort of ball winning intent that Casey is looking for this weekend.

“Eliza West… she’s always there in those [clutch] moments and it’s really great that we have her here at the club,” Kirkwood said.

“We rely on a lot of players in all areas of the field but I really think Meg McDonald,” West followed. “Since she’s come into being an on-baller, she’s added another level of  physicality and toughness. She lays hard tackles, she plays her role really well and I think she’s helped us a lot. “She’ll be one to look out for because it’s hard to beat her – if she’s tackling you, it’s hard to break one of those tackles so good luck to whoever it is.”

QUALIFYING FINAL

Collingwood vs. Geelong
Saturday July 3, 12:00pm
Holden Centre

Records:
Collingwood – 1st, 14-0, 297.1%
Geelong – 2nd, 10-4, 174.3%

2021 H2H:
Round 1 – Geelong 6.6 (42) def. by Collingwood 7.2 (44) @ Deakin University
Round 14 – Collingwood 3.5 (23) def. Geelong 0.4 (4) @ Victoria Park

Last 5:
Collingwood – 5-0
Geelong – 3-2

Collingwood and Geelong face off for the second time in as many weeks on Saturday, opening the 2021 VFLW finals series with a top of the table clash. The two sides jostled in two close encounters during the 2021 regular season, with the Magpies coming out on top amid their 14-0 campaign. Having completed the home-and-away rounds unbeaten, the reigning premiers became the second-ever side to do so and are in the box seat to defend their crown. But the Cats have proven their credentials as a top-tier team, sneaking into second having consistently found a way to win.

Geelong deputy-vice captains Breanna Beckley and Tamara Smith both spoke towards a strong team-oriented culture which included players listed at AFLW level, the NAB League, and local competitions. With the big job of overturning two previous losses to Collingwood at hand, Smith said her side has “so much more to give.”

“We’ve just got to keep playing our way, our style of footy and back our girls in,” Smith said. “Between the start and end of the season our girls would’ve changed and they’ll probably change again going into next week.

Beckley supported the notion, and hopes it’ll be a case of third time’s a charm for the Cats heading into Saturday’s clash, putting previous results behind them.

“We dropped a couple early against really good sides but it was good to see we had the fight from the start,” Beckley said. “Now coming up against Collingwood [in Round 14], although it wasn’t the result we wanted, I think we still held our own and kept them to a pretty low score as well which was really helpful.

“One of our biggest things that we pride ourselves on is our culture. “What we as a leadership group have tried to instil in the girls is that we’re all here as one no matter where you’re coming from – whether that’s AFL, VFL or local leagues. “Culture is the biggest thing no matter how old you are or your background, and it’s something we’ll keep priding ourselves on towards finals.”

With senior, state league and junior competitions running concurrently in 2021, the Cats have also benefitted from having a number of high-level NAB League graduates filter through the team. Smith was particularly glowing in her review of them, while Beckley knows the Falcons products well having worked with the program as talent manager.

Chloe Leonard’s a big one,” Smith said. “She’s played three games for us, we love Chloe. It’s just the good vibes she brings, she’s so confident but she just asks questions and is always wanting to learn. “You give her something to do and she just does it, plays her role so well.

Annie Lee had a few games with us, she takes strong marks down back. She’s a bit quieter than Chloe but it’s the same thing, she just plays her role and slots into the team.

Renee Tierney played a couple of games as well, she played against Southern Saints in a really wet game but she just held her own, backed her skills in. “It’s awesome to have those NAB League girls through because as much as they’re there to learn, they also have so much to give so it’s a really good opportunity for them and for us.”

While the spades of talent across a good range of age groups would make it easy to individualise parts of the squad, Smith maintains the Cats will rely on a team effort, rather than look to a few to get the job done.

“Obviously we have really talented girls in the side and ones which will step up, but as a whole I think we’re all ready for the challenge,” she said. “That’s one thing, if we can all step up together it’s going to make a huge difference across the ground. “I don’t think that we should be relying on just one girl to get the job done or have an outstanding game, if we can all lift and do our part for the team that’s where you get the job done.”

Collingwood also has a raft of stars which will look to make a difference on Saturday, none more so than unbelievably timely inclusion, Chloe Molloy. The dynamic senior-listed forward qualifies for finals after playing just one game in 2021, and will be one of the (up to) 10 AFLW players afield for the Magpies. Should she line up in attack, Molloy could form a deadly partnership with competition leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett and boom recruit Matilda Zander.

Up the other end, Lauren Butler also returned just in time to qualify for finals, while Mikala Cann carries in terrific form through midfield. With such a strong senior-listed and VFLW core, promising NAB Leaguers like Stella Reid and Eliza James look to have been squeezed out, though tough midfielder Olivia Meagher has been named on the Magpies’ bench.

1ST ELIMINATION FINAL

Port Melbourne vs. Southern Saints
Sunday July 4, 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Records:
Port Melbourne – 3rd, 10-4, 128.7%
Southern Saints – 6th, 7-7, 115.2%

2021 H2H:
Round 10 – Port Melbourne 4.4 (28) def. by Southern Saints 8.7 (55)

Last 5:
Port Melbourne – 2-3
Southern Saints – 3-2

In Sunday’s standalone finals fixture, Port Melbourne enters its maiden finals campaign against the Southern Saints having enjoyed a remarkable inaugural VFLW season. After starting the year with a blistering 7-0 run, the Borough ended their regular season at 10-4 – good enough for third spot having occupied one of the top two places for nine rounds. Most intriguingly, one of those losses came at the hands of their weekend adversaries. The Saints have gone 7-7 thus far and went 2-2 after that win against Port, but did enough to claw onto sixth spot and earn a finals berth.

Saints co-captain Deanna Jolliffe says her side is “[peaking] at the right time” after two promising wins in the run-in to Sunday, while youngster Melanie Bertuna outlined the desired approach to knocking Port off for a second time.

“I think our last two weeks of footy have really proved what we’re capable of,” Jolliffe said. “Hopefully we can just continue to play the same sort of footy that we have over the last couple of weeks and bring that in on Sunday against Port Melbourne.”

“Playing a really strong four quarters of footy [is what it takes to beat Port Melbourne],” Bertuna said. “Just not dropping off our pressure and sticking with it the whole game, sticking our heads down and getting the work done.”

The same four-quarter approach was also a theme in Borough captain Melissa Kuys‘ path to victory, as her side looks put together the high-level form they previously found on a more consistent basis. As a leader in Port’s first VFLW finals campaign, the experienced utility is also proud of how much development the competition newcomers have shown this year.

“We just need to play four quarter of good footy,” Kuys said. “We’ve been playing patches unfortunately in the last couple of weeks so we’ve just got to bring that brand of footy we know we can play for longer than them, and hopefully we’ll get the job done.”

“At the beginning of the season we probably [didn’t] think that we would’ve gotten this far, so it’s super pleasing that we are where we are. “It’s been a lot of hard work but we’re super excited to have our first finals.”

Both sides have also had a raft of promising NAB Leaguers come through the respective programs, with a bunch set to line up for either team on Sunday. Having gone through the pathway herself, first year Port Melbourne player Olivia Barton said they have been “really good contributors” overall.

“We’ve loved having the NAB League girls come through,” Barton said. “They’ve all brought something special to the team in their individual ways and obviously our senior players have been really good with teaching them the ropes.”

Jolliffe gave similar praise to the Saints’ next generation of talent, while also giving a nod to the AFLW-listed players who have “lifted” the squad in an all-round learning experience.

“I think the [NAB Leaguers] bring a lot of depth to the team,” she said. “With their young bodies and they’re able to get in and under the ball and they’re just keen to learn and always striving to do better. “I think that also brings a lot of culture to our team because we want to do better for the them, and also want to be able to teach them things.

“Since the AFLW girls have joined our training sessions the intensity has definitely lifted, there seems to be a lot more voice out on the field. “The experience they bring is second to none so we’re all just enjoying that and learning from them as much as we can.”

As the Southern squad looks to implement its ferocious and unsociable “Saints footy”, Jolliffe and Bertuna promise there won’t be any one player carrying their effort.

“The way we’ve always played is Saints footy,” Bertuna said. “Every week that’s always what we want to come back to and play our way, so we’ll come out strong, respect the team we’re going up against and bring our best.”

Kuys and Barton identified a couple of key difference-makers among the Port Melbourne squad, though the spread of contributors is set to be just as even.

“I’d probably go with Courteney Bromage,” Kuys said. “She’s a player that gets in-and-under and she really uses her body and that inspires me to go harder.”

Claire Dyett on the wing,” Barton said. “She’s always going hard at the ball and running hard for us both ways, so she’d definitely be one to step up. Her heart’s right in the team so she’d definitely do it for us.”

Via: VFL

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Stat leaders: 2021 VFL Women’s

ROUND 14 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s concluded on the weekend, with the 2021 finals series coming up thick and fast this weekend. We take a look at the top stats from the round that was.

Once again, North Melbourne’s Meagan Kiely took out the top spot for this round’s leader for both disposals (36) and kicks (31). The midfielder reigned supreme this week, adding to her impressive run this season for disposals and kicks and leading the overall charge. Mikala Cann had the most handballs with 18 working hard to drive up the field in her side’s win over Geelong. Southern Saints superstar Tara Bohanna kicked three goals this week, helping to contribute to her third-place for overall goals scored this season, while Kiely registered 11 marks. For tackles, it was Casey Demon’s Shelley Heath who was this round’s leader with 13 as Carlton’s Jorja Borg finished up the round’s leaders with 39 hitouts. Her performance over the weekend certainly has helped her remain the overall leading ruck this season.

Round 14 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 36

Kicks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 31

Handballs:
Mikala Cann (Collingwood) – 18

Goals:
Tara Bohanna (Southern Saints) – 3

Marks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 11

Tackles:
Shelley Heath (Casey Demons) – 13

Hitouts:
Jorja Borg (Carlton) – 39

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 337 / 24.1

Kicks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 251 / 17.9

Handballs:
Laura Gardiner (Geelong Cats) – 128 / 12.8

Goals:
Imogen Barnett (Collingwood) – 20 / 1.5

Marks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 74 / 5.3

Tackles:
Tamara Smith (Geelong Cats) – 141 / 10.1

Hitouts:
Jorja Borg (Carlton) – 321 / 24.7

 

Picture credit: North Melbourne VFLW

Stat leaders: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 13

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition wrapped up its 13th round of the action over the weekend, with players returning to the field after nearly a month away. A bunch of state league and senior-listed guns picked up right where they left off, dominating the stats sheet to feature in this week’s Stat Leaders.

North Melbourne’s Megan Kiely took out the top spot for disposals this round with an impressive 34, extending her lead atop said category overall. Kiely also scored the most kicks in Round 13 with 23 – another chart she currently tops for the season. Airlie Runnalls also represented North Melbourne on the leaderboard this weekend for the most handballs, collecting 21.

Collingwood’s Imogen Barnett took out the top spot for most goals (three), as one of eight individual goalkickers in the Magpies’ big win over Western Bulldogs. Meanwhile, another Roo in Reni Hicks dominated on the field with 16 tackles, and teammate Bethany Lynch clunked a round-high nine marks. Rounding out the top spot for the most hit-outs this week is Simone Nalder from Essendon, with 39.

Find the full list of Round 13, and overall season stat leaders below.

ROUND 13 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Megan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 34

Kicks:
Megan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 23

Handballs:
Airlie Runnalls (North Melbourne) – 21

Goals:
Imogen Barnett (Collingwood) – 3

Marks:
Bethany Lynch (North Melbourne) – 9

Tackles:
Reni Hicks (North Melbourne) – 16

Hitouts:
Simone Nalder (Essendon) – 39

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 301 total / 23.2 average

Kicks:
Megan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 220 / 16.9

Handballs:
Laura Gardiner (Geelong Cats) – 122 / 13.6

Goals:
Imogen Barnett (Collingwood) – 20 / 1.7

Marks:
Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne) – 63 / 4.8

Tackles:
Tamara Smith (Geelong Cats) – 130 / 10.0

Hitouts:
Jorja Borg (Carlton) – 282 / 23.5

2021 VFLW Round 12 wrap: Finals picture still unclear after upsets

AS it draws closer to the end, Round 12 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s saw some important wins from North Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Carlton, Collingwood, Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs.

ESSENDON 1.3 | 2.5 | 3.6 | 3.7 (25)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 | 1.2 | 3.4 | 4.5 (29)

For fifth placed Essendon, their main aim was a win after their defeat to Western Bulldogs in round 11. Quarter one saw them with a rushed behind before North Melbourne booted the first goal of the game thanks to Daria Bannister. The rest of first quarter went Essendon’s way, as they took the lead early on with 1.3. Essendon continued with their lead in both the second and third quarters. However, North Melbourne slowly began to catch up towards the end of the third and ultimately causing disappointment for Essendon to secure the win.

Alana Barba who scored two goals and had 16 disposals for the Bombers in the loss, while Alex Morcom had 10 disposals and six handballs to her name, however it was not enough to stop a strong North Melbourne outfit. Meagan Kiely dominated for the winning side with 25 disposals, 17 kicks and eight handballs. North Melbourne’s score was also bolstered by their two goal scorers of Daria Bannister and Ella Maurer.

GOALS:

Essendon: A. Barba 2, A. Marcom.
North Melbourne: M. Sinclair 2, D. Bannister, E. Maurer.

BEST:

Essendon: E. Yassir, L. Ahrens, L. Caruso, E. Ashley-Cooper, N. MacDonald, G. Nanscawen
North Melbourne: B. Brown, M. Kiely, V. Saad, A. Hamilton, A. Smith, M. King

_


CASEY DEMONS 1.3 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 5.5 (35)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.0 | 7.0 | 8.1 (49)

Port Melbourne caused a finals-defining win for Casey Demons last weekend at Casey Fields, knocking off the Demons to keep the Borough in contention for a top two spot. Right from the start of the first quarter, Casey held onto a strong start with a goal and two behinds scored. A response of two goals from Port Melbourne was not keeping Casey away from the tight contest. A string of goals in the third quarter from Port saw the Borough dominating the scoreboard, snatching the lead away from Casey. A even final term saw the Borough’s lead enough to win by 14 points on the road.

Emily Harley and Katherine Smith played a significant part in Port Melbourne’s win, both scoring two goals in the match. Kodi Jacques also was important for Port. 17 disposals, 1 goal and 12 tackles during her second VFLW game. Meanwhile, Eliza McNamara had a stellar performance for Casey with 23 disposals and 17 kicks.

GOALS:

Casey: L. Milford 2, C. Emonson, E. West, E.Zanker.
Port Melbourne: E. Harley 2, K. Smith 2, O. Barton, M. Brancatisano, K. Jacques, L. Stutt.

BEST:

Casey: E. Birch, M. Macdonald, G. Colvin, E. McNamara, M. Harasimiuk, C. Conroy
Port Melbourne: H. Cordner, K. Smith, C. Dyett, A. Edmonds, K. Jacques, I. Stutt

_

CARLTON 0.3 | 2.4 | 2.6 | 4.7 (31)
GEELONG 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.2 | 3.4 (22)

Second placed Geelong Cats were looking to keep up their streak after their win last week against the Southern Saints. Despite an early lead from Carlton with two behinds added to the scoreboard, Geelong’s Georgia Clarke snagged the first goal of the game. Both teams responded with behinds until the second quarter where the game slowly began going Carlton’s way. By the time the third quarter came around, Carlton had already started to make a comeback and snatched the lead from their opponent. It was not long until Carlton had sealed the deal with a win at the end of the fourth quarter, leading Geelong to be defeated.

The winning side showed a strong force during the match with Abbie Mckay and 27 disposals. Grace Egan’s 21 disposals and Bry Gurr’s 10 kicks proved valuable for Carlton as well. Whilst Geelong came short from the win, they showed promising signs. Renee Garing impressed with 23 disposals, 15 tackles and 13 handballs. Meanwhile, Laura Gardiner had 22 disposals and 12 tackles.

GOALS:

Carlton: C. Jones, S. Lawrence, L. McEvoy, E. Wood.
Geelong Cats: G. Clarke 2, A. Johnson.

BEST:

Carlton: N. Plane, P. Trudgeon, E. Honybun, L. McEvoy, D. Walker, J. Borg
Geelong Cats: P. Sheppard, C. Gunjaca, R. Garing, T. Meissner, A. Johnson, J. Foley

_

Darebin Falcons 0.0 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)
Collingwood 4.0 | 6.1 | 7.2 | 11.6 (71)

Collingwood secured a 51-point win over the Darebin Falcons at Bill Lawry Oval. The win came as a result of a slow start from Darebin, which Collingwood were able to take advantage of immediately during the first quarter with four goals. Darebin’s struggle to get in the game continued during the second quarter, only managing to get in three behinds. It was not until a string of goals from Georgia Hammond and Stephanie Simpson which saw the Falcons finally get some majors on the board during the third quarter. Collingwood’s dominance over Darebin continued in the final quarter with Joanna Lin emerging as the side’s main goal scorer, alongside Mikala Cann who each kicked six goals between them.  For Darebin, Nicole Callinan led with the most disposals. Gena Lawson-Tavan had the most tackles for the side.

GOALS:

Darebin Falcons: S. Simpson 2, G. Hammond.
Collingwood: M.Cann 3, J.Lin 3, I.Barnett 2, C.Molloy 2, S. Livingstone.

BEST:

Darebin Falcons: N. Callinan, A. Mifsud, S. Simpson, J. Dal Pos, G. Lawson-Tavan, K. Roe
Collingwood: M. Cann, I. Purcell, J. Lin, J. Guy, N. Weston, C. Molloy

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.5 | 2.9 (21)
HAWTHORN 2.0 | 4.4 | 6.4 | 6.7 (43)

Hawthorn took control of the game from early on, leaving Williamstown struggling to get only a point on the board for the entirety of the first quarter. Hawthorn’s lead continued well into the second quarter with Sarah Perkins and Ashanti Bush among the side’s goal scorers. Heading into the third quarter, the Seagulls attempted to make a comeback, however, it was not enough as Hawthorn kept holding the lead in the third quarter. The Seagulls had begun to slowly crawl back into the game, but it did not have much impact on the outcome at the end of the final term.

Alison Drennan had a stellar performance for Hawthorn with 22 disposals. Meg Hutchins and Tamara Luke each proved pivotal for the winning side, with 18 and 12 disposals respectively. Although a win was not in the cards for Williamstown, Eliza Straford and Erin Todd were significant for the Seagulls, with both scoring a goal for their side, while young gun Jess Doyle was named best-on for her 13 disposals, three marks and and three tackles.

GOALS:

Seagulls: E. Straford, E. Todd.
Hawthorn: A. Bush 2, N. von Bertouch, S. Perkins, T. Luke, K. Stratton.

BEST:

Seagulls: J. Doyle, E. Graham, E. Baxter, E. Meade, E. Straford, L. Steane.
Hawthorn: C. Perera, G. Bevan, A. Bush, A. Drennan, J. Richardson, K. Stratton.

_

Southern Saints 1.0 | 2.2 | 2.7 | 3.9 (27)
Western Bulldogs 1.0 | 2.0 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

In the battle between sixth and seventh, both the Southern Saints and Western Bulldogs started the game off evenly, as Anna Harris and Stephanie Asciak helped their teams get a goal on the board. Despite a slow start to the match and Elisabeth Georgostathis’ goal for the Bulldogs, the Southern Saints responded with a goal from Tyanna Smith and several behinds in the second quarter. The Western Bulldogs had a comeback in the third quarter with Annabel Scott among the players who scored a goal. Although the Saints had managed to have the lead in the first half, they failed to regain the lead once more as the Bulldogs were set for the win.

The tight contest with the Southern Saints was helped by the efforts of Caitlin Sargent, who scored a goal and had nine disposals to her name. Brooke Hards, another goal scorer for the Western Bulldogs was significant for the side’s win with some impressive plays, as well as Elisabeth Georgostathis who managed 15 disposals, 10 kicks and 10 tackles. For the Southern Saints, Hannah Stuart, Jayde Van Dyke and Alice Burke proved important for the side.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: G. De Angelis, A. Harris, T. Smith.
Western Bulldogs: S. Asciak, E. Georgostathis, B. Hards, C.Sargent, A. Scott.

BEST:

Southern Saints: M. McDonald, H. Priest, A. Burke, J. Van Dyk, M. Capsalis, T. Smith
Western Bulldogs: D. Marshall, E. Vale, S. Hartwig, E. Georgostathis, A. Scott, I. Pritchard
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