Tag: abbey jordan

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Dandenong Stingrays

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at one of this year’s impressive sides, Dandenong Stingrays.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: defeated Eastern Ranges by 50 points
R2: defeated Calder Cannons by 18 points
R3: lost to Northern Knights by 23 points

Dandenong Stingrays have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in NAB League Girls over the first three rounds with their quick ball movement and willingness to take the opposition on. They had a momentous win over Eastern Ranges in the opening round to show what they were capable of, then toppled last year’s grand finalists, Calder Cannons. They started strongly against reigning premiers, Northern Knights but were overrun in the second half, though it showed that they have plenty of talent for the future.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Tyanna Smith (25.3 disposals, 4.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s, 3.3 rebounds, 1 goal)

The statistics really speak for themselves, with Smith being the second biggest ball winner on average to start the season with more than 25 touches per game, and a ridiculous 5.3 inside 50s. Whilst her ball use going forward is one of the best in the competition, the thing that sets her apart from other top-line midfielders is her defensive work, where she leads by example and has laid six tackles per game, running down opponents with her burst speed. It is no surprise she is at the equal top of our DC Medal count with the start she has had to the season.

Jessica Matin (14.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s, 4 goals)

A real danger inside 50, Matin had already booted four goals in the opening two rounds, kicking a major in each of her games and always looking dangerous. She provided good forward pressure and would also press up the ground to win the footy as well. While she had a number of chances she was unlucky to miss – particularly in the opening round – she showed the impact she can have inside 50.

Amber Clarke (12.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 1.7 rebounds)

What an exciting talent the speedster is, and she showed off what she has to offer when roaming down the wings in the first three games of the season. Hard to believe she is still in her bottom-age year, and she could play half-back or wing and once she gets space to run in, it will be hard to catch her. Clarke does not need a lot of touches to hurt opposition sides, but when she starts racking them up, she is hard to stop.

Emily Shepherd (11.3 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 1.0 rebounds, 1 goal)

Having played a bit of everywhere, Shepherd had a real standout game in Round 2 during the win against Calder Cannons, picking up 18 touches, four marks, two inside 50s and two rebounds, where she was second best behind Smith for the Stingrays. Like Clarke, Shepherd is still a bottom-ager which is scary for opposition sides, and she is a natural ball-winner who can slot in up forward or through the midfield.

Zoe Hill (10.0 disposals, 2.3 marks, 5.0 tackles, 2.7 rebounds)

Could have slotted any number of five or more players into this spot, but Hill being the top-age tall defender is one worth mentioning. Her ability to read the play in the air, intercept and move the ball on down the field is important, and she is very difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. Hill can play deep in defence on the last line, or higher up at centre half-back where she can help dictate play further up the field.

Others who have stood out: Abbey Jordan, Jemma Radford, Georgia Grimmer, Mackenzie Eardley

The Stingrays’ captain, Jordan has played a real team-orientated role this year, on the outside, at half-back and at half-forward because her elite running capacity allows her to tire out opponents. She has had a terrific start to the season, as well, with the other three players that have impressed – though not an extensive list – being middle-age talents defender Radford and forward Grimmer, as well as bottom-age key tall Eardley.

Knights keep undefeated streak intact

NORTHERN Knights have stretched their winning streak to three in 2020 after overcoming a plucky Dandenong Stingrays outfit, running out 23-point victors, 8.8 (56) to 5.3 (33). In a testament to their development and high defensive intensity the Stingrays managed to keep the Knights goalless in the opening term, a feat that not many would have expected given the array of talent across the field. But with the game on the line and Knights ruck Georgia Kitchell being stretchered off the field with a suspected concussion in the third the Knights kicked it up a gear, finding a spark inside 50 and kicking six unanswered goals to be runaway winners.

Dandenong kicked the first goal of the match with Tyanna Smith releasing Amie Carroll out the back of a pack just outside the goal square nailing a regulation goal. Minutes later Emily Shepherd kicked the Stingrays second goal in quick succession after being rewarded a holding the ball free kick to give them the early ascendancy. The Knights had two chances late in the quarter to reduce the margin, although were unable to convert with both Maykaylah Appleby and Jade Ventura‘s shots going astray leaving the side goalless in the first term something they would not be used to. Northern’s Ellie McKenzie dominated through the midfield with her brutal attack at the footy although her kicking efficiency was lower then normal credit to the heightened pressure of Dandenong.

The game started to break open in the second term with players lifting their intensity and asserting themselves on the contest. Smith was electric, with her agility on show in the second term. While McKenzie continued to shine in the midfield, assuming her role as a clearance bull. Jess Fitzgerald also started to have a presence for the Knights with her pin-point kicking on full display finding teammates in space. Both teams kicked two goals apiece in the second quarter, with Carroll’s second for the Stingrays the pick of the bunch. Ruck, Phoebe Canning managed to get the ball to Carroll with some great follow up efforts, followed by a solid set shot from the boundary, 40 metres out.

The third quarter started with Dandenong’s Abbey Jordan kicking truly from the goal line after a 50-metre penalty extending their lead to a game high 13 points. Moments later, Knights’ Kitchell was taken high and had to be taken off the ground on a stretcher, halting the game for over ten minutes. This lit a spark in the Knights who would proceed to kick six goals. Appleby effectively took Kitchell’s high free kick, as she kicked the ball passed a pack of players into the arms of proven goal kicker Alyssa Bannan who hammered home the goal. The Knights controlled the momentum for the rest of the quarter with Fitzgerald kicking two goals including a great snap from the pocket and Trinity Mills additionally getting on the scoreboard. A highlight for the Stingrays in the third quarter was midfielder Amber Clarke completing a Marlion Pickett-esque turn in an attempt to evade opponents with just over a minute left.

Appleby brilliantly set up McKenzie for the only goal of the last quarter and the Knights sixth in a row to all but put a nail in the Stingrays’ coffin. Northern peppered the ball inside 50 throughout the final term applying a mountain load of pressure to try and trap the ball in their attacking half. Bannan was busy throughout the term contesting the ball in the air and bombing it deep to create scoring opportunities. Canning dominated the ruck with her opponent off the ground, while Smith continued her hot form although they could not replicate their proficiency on the scoreboard.

Smith was arguably the best player for Dandenong with 21 disposals, while ruck Canning was also serviceable through the middle of the ground. Tall forward, Carroll was able to convert her chances, although she was not able to get the ball enough. While Clarke provided a spark up forward for the Stingrays with her speed worrying Knights defenders. Jordan and Mackenzie Eardley also stood up for the Stingrays across half back. Tarrah Delgado and Megan Barnes (16 disposals) were at their intercepting best in defence while Barnes, was not afraid to take the game on at half back. McKenzie (one goal, 28 disposals) and Jess Fitzgerald (two goals, 28 disposals) were superb for the Knights through the midfield combining seamlessly to dice up the opposition. Abigail Bennett was very quick through half forward, while  Bannan (two goals, 18 disposals) and Mills provided good targets up forward for the Knights.

Next week the Northern Knights will face the Eastern Ranges at RMIT University, Saturday at 11am, while Dandenong will travel to Mars Stadium to face the GWV Rebels next Saturday at 10:45am.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 0.2 | 2.5 | 7.6 | 8.8 (56)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.0 | 4.0 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)

GOALS:

Northern: A. Bannan 2, J. Fitzgerald 2, M. Appleby, T. Mills, E. McKenzie, T. Pulcino.
Dandenong: A. Carroll 2, A. Jordan, J. Matin, E. Shepherd.

ADC BEST:

Northern: E, McKenzie, J. Fitzgerald, A. Bannan, M. Ramsay, M. Barnes, A. Snow
Dandenong: T. Smith, A. Clarke, J. Matin, J. Radford, Z. Hill, C. Ryan

DC Medal:

5 – Ellie McKenzie (NK)
4 – Tyanna Smith (DS)
3 – Jess Fitzgerald (NK)
2 – Alyssa Bannan (NK)
1 – Amber Clarke (DS)

NAB League Girls preview: Round 3 – Undefeated sides clash on Saturday

A COUPLE of undefeated games open the weekend in a top three clash between Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays at RMIT Bundoora, before the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels tackle the Western Jets in Ballarat. The Sunday trio of games has a couple of sides searching for their first wins of the season with Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers going head-to-head and Eastern Ranges hosting Tasmania Devils, while Gippsland Power returns from a week off to face the breakeven side of Sandringham Dragons.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 3 – 14/03/2020
11:00am
RMIT University Bundoora

A top three clash between the second placed Dandenong Stingrays and third ranked Northern Knights opens the round with the Stingrays having had impressive wins over Eastern Ranges (50 points) and Calder Cannons (18). The Knights also knocked off the Cannons the week before (six points) before enjoying a more comfortable win over Geelong Falcons (25). Both sides have made a number of changes, with Saige Bayne returning to the side after a long layoff, while Georgia Grimmer and Jemma Radford are also back into the side up opposite ends of the ground. The Knights have also made a number of changes to the side in anticipation for the clash with at least four confirmed changes and an additional three added to the extended bench. Already the head-to-head that could decide the result is between in-form forward, Alyssa Bannan (seven goals) and reliable defender, Zoe Hill inside the Knights’ forward half. An equally eye-catching matchup will be Knights’ co-captain Jess Fitzgerald going head-to-head against Dandenong star, Tyanna Smith with the pair sharing similar skill and footy IQ making it a must-watch clash. Abbey Jordan has been thrown around a bit this season but now the Stingrays captain is in attack to potentially lock the ball in at every opportunity, while Maeve Chaplin‘s ability at half-back should provide some good run. In the midfield, Ellie McKenzie and Ash Snow will provide power onball, while Amber Clarke and Emily Shepherd have added speed to run the ball down the field. The Knights will be favourites but the Stingrays have shown an ability to run the ball and not back down from a challenge.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 3 – 14/03/2020
11:30am
MARS Stadium

In a second game between undefeated sides, fourth placed Western Jets travel to Mars Stadium to meet the sixth placed GWV Rebels from 11.30am. Both these sides have some great young talent coming through and the Jets have had a win against Bendigo Pioneers and a draw with Murray Bushrangers over the first two rounds, whilst the Rebels’ come-from-behind victory against Sandringham Dragons in Round 1 was their only game so far this season following a bye in Round 2. Renee Saulitis proved the get-out-of-jail free card in Round 1 with a couple of last quarter goals to sink the Dragons, and she has been named back in her damaging position inside 50. Fellow AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabella Simmons is also in the forward half, while Maggie Caris will look to take advantage of the height difference over the Jets’ smaller ruck division. Amelia Velardo has the athleticism to get the job done at ground level even if she does not win the tap and provides a “fourth midfielder” around the stoppages. Alongside her is top-age AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabelle Pritchard who is coming off an impressive 25-disposal game last week, as is Charlotte Baskaran who plays off half-back but can push up the ground to impact the midfield. In the middle of the ground is fellow bottom-ager Montana Ham who has been the Jets’ best across the two games this season. Caitlin Sargent has been a target inside 50 for the Jets, while she will likely have Rebels’ Crystal Summers for company after the defender was a star in Round 1 for the Ballarat-based side. The Rebels’ half-back line is quite strong with Nyakoat Dojiok providing speed and dare out of defence, while Lilli Condon impacts the game through the midfield and up forward. At home the Rebels have an advantage, but both sides have an entertaining brand of end-to-end football.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
12:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

With three games on Sunday, the first is a clash between Gippsland Power and Sandringham Dragons at Morwell Recreation Reserve after the game was moved from Churchill. The Power will be well rested after a spirited fight against Geelong Falcons in the opening round and a bye in Round 2. The Dragons on the other hand let slip a real chance in Round 1 with inaccurate kicking to go down to the GWV Rebels, before bouncing back with an impressive win over Bendigo Pioneers last week. Back at home, the Power showed their have a number of strengths through the ruck and in defence, and if they are able to quell the Dragons’ scoring or force them into making mistakes, then they are a real chance of victory. Sandringham impressed last week and have plenty of ball-winning midfielders who step up when required and if they convert their chances inside 50, then they will go a long way to taking home the points in the contest. Matilda Van Berkel was best-on for the Power in their Round 1 win over Geelong Falcons and will look to take advantage against the Dragons. The key for the Power will be to try and win the clearances against an experienced Dragons midfield, as captain Winnie Laing, Alice Burke and Bella Eddey round out a strong starting core. Megan Fitzsimon is the Power’s sole AFL Women’s Academy member, but Grace McRae is another player not afraid of winning contested ball, while Lily-Rose Williamson is a bottom-ager to watch over the coming years. Shanara Notman is a strong overhead mark and will look to chop off any Dragons forward thrusts, while Leyla Berry had a successful return in Round 1 after taking the 2019 season off. Sarah Hartwig has been named on the wing for the second successive week, while Eliza McNamara provides forward pressure inside 50, and key target Abbi Moloney booted three goals in the Dragons win last week and could be one to watch.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
1:00pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve

Calder Cannons hits the road to face Bendigo Pioneers from 1pm at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. Last year’s grand finalists are yet to get a win on the board, but have had a tough draw to open the season, falling to reining premiers Northern Knights, and a vastly improved side, Dandenong Stingrays in the first fortnight. The Pioneers are also yet to taste victory with losses to Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons in the opening couple of rounds. Given the loss of co-captain Brooke Hards for the clash, Bendigo will be up against it taking on a determined Calder side that could well have won its two games had it had a bit more luck. The Pioneers do welcome back Elizabeth Snell into the fold with the midfielder/forward adding some class and skill to the midfield group, while Annabel Strahan has pushed up into the midfield after being a reliable source in the back 50 last week. Tara Slender and Jemma Finning provide good intercept and rebounding capabilities, while Madeline Marks has had an impact through the ruck this season. The Cannons have a strong combination named at the key defensive posts with Kasey Lennox and Tamsin Crook, while Crook is also able to rotate with AFL Women’s National Academy member, Tahlia Gillard who will start forward as both can play at either end. Georgie Prespakis, Laura Cocomello and Jessica Zakkour have all been in good form this season, while Emelia Yassir is a clever forward who can push into that midfield rotation. Calder should breakthrough for its first win, but the Pioneers do have the home ground advantage which counts for something.

EASTERN RANGES v. TASSIE DEVILS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
1:00pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

At the same time as the Bendigo game, two sides searching for their first win battle it out at the newly renovated Kilsyth Recreation Reserve. The Eastern Ranges will enjoy playing where they train and welcoming the less-familiar Tasmania Devils will give them a huge confidence boost. The Devils were overwhelmed by a rampaging Oakleigh side that could well contend for this year’s NAB League Girls flag in Round 2, marking a tough initiation to their first full-time season. The Ranges had a bye in Round 2 after a 50-point defeat at the hands of another undefeated side in Dandenong Stingrays. Given the experience the Ranges have at the NAB League level – making the finals last season and pushing the Northern Knights in the preliminary finals – they should have the wood over the competition newcomers, though the Devils’ defensive pressure was impressive despite the heavy Round 1 defeat. Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown provide hardness and class in equal measure on the inside, while Jorja Livingstone showed impressive athleticism bursting out of stoppages in the Round 1 loss. Key target, Jess Grace has been named at full-forward, while three players will make their debut in the game for the Ranges. Amy Prokopiec could not have done much more at full-back last week, saving a number of goal-scoring opportunities for the Chargers, and she along with Camilla Taylor provided some composure in the match. Jemma Webster provided some speed out of defence in Round 2, while Kara Hennessy rotated through the ruck and could be a target inside 50 for the Apple Isle based side.

NAB League Girls preview: Round 2 – Huge clashes book-end Super Saturday

A HUGE Super Saturday takes place in the NAB League Girls competition this weekend with five games across three venues – two double-headers – including a couple of blockbusters book-ending the round and a clash between two winless sides. Tasmania Devils also make their debut in the league and host Oakleigh Chargers, whilst Western Jets could record back-to-back wins and keep in touch with the top couple of sides.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday, March 7, 11:30am
RMIT University Bundoora

The opening game of the round pits the 2018 grand finalists against each other, with Northern Knights going one step further last year, whilst the Geelong Falcons fell in the semi-finals stage. In Round 1, the Knights held off a determined Calder Cannons outfit at this venue by a goal, whilst in the game immediate after, Geelong Falcons ran out 33-point victors over Gippsland Power. Both these teams have stars across the park and were forced to play very different gamestyles in Round 1. The Knights were impressive across the board in the way they were able to defend and then move the ball down the field to set up their forwards such as Alyssa Bannan (five goals). Led by co-captains Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald in midfield, the Knights were able to use a nice blend of power and speed to get the ball inside 50, whilst the underrated Maeve Chaplin was tipped to have a big game by Fitzgerald in the Final Siren podcast this week. Competing against them in the midfield is an equally damaging midfield, with AFL Women’s National Academy members Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney making the matchups something to behold onball. Gardiner racked up 38 touches and had 14 tackles in Round 1 to be the Draft Central Player of the Week, whilst Moloney (28 disposals, six tackles) and Poppy Schaap (24 disposals, six tackles) also brought the heat. What was most impressive about the way the Falcons went about it was the fact they racked up a whopping 271 disposals, but also laid 94 tackles with their defensive pressure amongst the best in the league. They could have been more effective in front of goal, which is an area to build on, and something they cannot afford to suffer from in this clash against arguably the benchmark team this season. Expect this match to be another close one with both sides missing players from their encounters over the past couple of seasons, but the Knights deserve favouritism at home.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday, March 7, 12pm.
RAMS Arena

From two sides looking to extend their strong starts to the season, we head to Craigieburn where two teams go head-to-head in a bid to get off the mark in season 2020. Sandringham Dragons will be ruing missed opportunities against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels where they arguably had plenty more chances to kick a big score, but were let down close to goal. Their defensive pressure was a highlight however and is something that will be a trademark of this game. Both sides are renowned tacklers, and whilst Sandringham can play a possession style of game as well, the Dragons are more than happy to get their hands dirty in pursuit of a win. The Pioneers are not a high possession style team but look to be efficient with ball-in-hand, running the ball down in transition and getting it inside 50 as effective as possible. An area the Pioneers can get on top in this clash is in the ruck, with the Dragons having just two hitouts last week against the number one ruck in the competition, Maggie Caris. They still won their fair share of clearances though, and led by Eliza McNamara (20 disposals, eight tackles and six inside 50s) and Winnie Laing (18 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s), were able to pump the ball inside 50 enough to suggest that if they do that consistently enough and improve their finishing ability then the results will come. The Pioneers had co-captain Brooke Hards waste no time influencing the contest off the back of her middle-age best and fairest year, winning 18 disposals and laying seven tackles. With Elizabeth Snell out of the side, the Pioneers will look to other experience around the ground, with co-captain Annabel Strahan and Jemma Finning‘s work out of the back 50 as a way of getting control of the ball. The two centre-half backs in Sarah Hartwig and Tara Slender are some of the best in their age groups and the teams cannot afford to put it down their throat too often or the ball will come straight back out. Sandringham should be favourites in this game given the amount of chances they can generate, but the Dragons must be clean around goal.

TASMANIA DEVILS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday, March 7, 12.30pm
North Hobart Oval

Crossing the Bass Strait to the Apple Isle, Tasmania Devils enter the NAB League competition for the first time, taking on a red-hot Oakleigh Chargers. Whilst the Devils sat out Round 1 watching on, they would have been impressed by what they witnessed at Wangaratta when the Chargers ran wild in a 50-point win over Murray Bushrangers. The Chargers have no problem possessing the ball, and they had a massive 40 inside 50s, giving their forwards a multitude of chances inside 50. For Round 2 the Chargers have lost some of their Round 1 firepower, with Amelia James and Alice O’Loughlin both out of the side after combining for five goals between themselves. The captain Mimi Hill led from the front during the Chargers’ win, racking up 29 disposals and five inside 50s, while vice-captain Joanna Lin had 17 disposals and six inside 50s. Eliza James showed plenty of talent during the match with an impressive 18 disposals, four marks, five tackles and match-high seven inside 50s. For the Devils, it is hard to judge just where they sit in terms of the competition just yet, with plenty of developing youngsters coming through the ranks. Amy Prokopiec is the one to keep an eye out for with the middle-age defender already having experience in the NAB League Girls after playing in the Devils’ few games last season. Overager, Camilla Taylor provides height at 180cm and will look to dominate the ruck battle with her extra experience, whilst drifting forward to provide a target inside 50 for the Devils midfielders to aim at. Another overager sure to provide that added experience is Tahlia Bortignon with the 19-year-old named on a wing for this match. You would be a brave person to tip against Oakleigh given the Chargers’ Round 1 match, but this game will be more about seeing a host of new young stars living out their dreams of playing in an elite youth competition by the Devils making their debut in the competition.

WESTERN JETS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday, March 7, 1.15pm
RMIT University Bundoora

Following on from the Knights-Falcons clash at Bundoora is the battle between Western Jets and Murray Bushrangers. In Round 1, the Jets triumphed for the first time in their history when they toppled Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval by 22 points. The next day, Murray succumbed to a rampaging Oakleigh side by 50 points. Though one positive that could come out of that game from a scoreboard perspective was the fact that after conceding seven consecutive goals, the home team booted the last three goals of the match to avoid it being a potentially worse scoreline. Heading into this match minus their top key forward in Olivia Barber (concussion), the Bushrangers will need to utilise their smalls to hit the scoreboard and cause havoc for a Western defence that is well drilled based on the first round. The Jets were able to balance their ball use from the back 50 to the attacking 50 with some nice running ability, and did well around the stoppages despite conceding height in the ruck and thus the hitouts. Both teams favour a kick-first gamestyle which means we could potentially witness plenty of end-to-end football in this game. Leading the way last week for the Jets were bottom-agers, Montana Ham (19 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Charlotte Baskaran (19 disposals, seven tackles, four inside 50s and five rebounds), while new top-ager Amelia Velardo looked impressive with her athletic ability on her way to 16 disposals and three inside 50s, as well as four hitouts going up against taller opponents. With Isabelle Pritchard playing across all thirds of the ground, she is the star prospect for the 2020 group at Western and will be hard to combat in the middle. The Bushrangers also have some AFL Women’s Academy members with top-ager Abby Favell working through the midfield and Ally Morphett switching between ruck and forward. Mindy Quade will play an important role down in defence, whilst Mikayla Jones and Zali Spencer were another couple of players who stood up in defeat last round. Western brings winning form into this match and would be a good chance to go 2-0, though the Bushrangers always find something special.

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday, March 7, 1.45pm
RAMS Arena

The final game of the round is another huge clash between two sides with good form. Calder Cannons fell a goal short of victory against Northern in the first round of action, and return to their homeground, RAMS Arena to take on a Dandenong Stingrays side that was the surprise packet of Round 1. It was not necessarily the fact that the Stingrays won that was the surprise, but the fact that they did it so convincingly in the end – 50 points – against an Eastern Ranges side with plenty of talent. Stingrays coach, Dave Carden said post-game that it was important the club looked to improve from the Round 1 performance in terms of their stoppage position, but he was impressed with their clean hands and ball movement – something that will be crucial if they are to cause an upset against last year’s grand finalists. The Cannons midfield is well established, with middle-ager Georgie Prespakis and fellow 2003-born Emelia Yessir assisting captain, Laura Cocomello in the middle. Jessica Zakkour was the Cannons’ best last round with two goals from 18 touches and eight tackles, whilst the key defensive combination of Tamsin Crook and Kasey Lennox one of the best in the competition. It will also be important to combat the Stingrays’ talls with Georgia Grimmer out of this match, but Serene Vudiniabola (two goals in Round 1) able to crunch packs and bring the ball to ground for the likes of Ashleigh Richards (two goals) and Jaide Anthony (one). Tyanna Smith is the midfielder to watch on the Stingrays’ side, dominating last week and along with Abbey Jordan, provides some incredible running power out of that onball group. The Cannons have some targets inside 50 themselves with Charlotte Clayton (three goals) and Freda Puruntatameri (one) both looking dangerous last week. These teams are very evenly matched based on the first round statistics with no more than six differential between any of the major stats heading into the Round 2 clash. This is a buckle-up and get ready game because both these teams will take it right up to the other making it a real spectacle for the onlookers.

Ball movement and clean hands impress Stingrays’ coach

IT was a near-perfect start to the season for the Dandenong Stingrays in the NAB League Girls competition, defeating Eastern Ranges by 50 points at Holm Park Reserve in Beaconsfield on Sunday. Despite an impressive performance where coach Dave Carden said the players executed the quick ball movement and clean hands they were looking for, he is still hoping to build on areas to improve for the future ahead of a tough couple of weeks against last year’s grand finalists, back-to-back.

“It’s interesting, because you’re not really sure what to expect,” Carden said. “We’re such a new squad. “We had 11 debutants play their first game for the Stingrays today and we’re pretty much a brand new coaching staff. “So we’ve worked on a lot of things over the summer and it’s really been about the fundamentals. “Making sure we’re getting our kicking right under pressure, (a) massive focus on clean hands, but also them having the courage to take the game on. “We talked about it as players, we want them to bring their strength to the game, rather than a whole heap of structural stuff and be you. “You know what? I think they did a really, really good job right across the ground doing that.”

Leading the front was AFL Women’s National Academy member Tyanna Smith, but a 16-year-old key position defender also caught the coach’s eye in the opening round win.

“‘T’ is a coach’s dream,” Carden said. “She turns up to every training session eager to learn, whatever it be. “Whether it’s a hard strength and conditioning set or learning a new part of the game. “She’s always looking to improve and that sort of work ethic is why she gets results on the ground. “When you look at some of the kids down there in the backline, Mackenzie Eardley who was great above her head. “She might be 16, but she’s done an amazing job. “That support for ‘T’ who’s a fantastic player is what we’ve been trying to work on.”

Eardley is one of a number of talls in the Stingrays’ team who are well complimented by some determined smalls and hard runners across the field.

“It’s probably a little bit early, we’ve actually been looking at that. we’ve got some good size in key positions, girls like Charley Ryan, I mentioned Mac (Eardley), we’ve got Serene (Vudiniabola) who was in the goalsquare today – nice and strong above their head. But that’s then complimented by people like Amber Clarke, Emily Shepherd, who are just so ferocious and just great users around the ball. Our skipper Abbey Jordan, just didn’t stop running I think her GPS numbers will be off the chart, so what we look for is a really good balance across the whole ground and I think we got that today, certainly.”

Those names were some of the Stingrays’ top performers on the day, with Carden praising their ability to win the ball both in the air and at ground level, with great competitiveness.

“I think Serene up forward put the ball up high and if she doesn’t mark it, she is really good at ground level. I think Emily Shepherd and Amber Clarke both gave their all and Brooke Smith down back as well. “Another first gamer, again having the courage to take it on from the half-back, that’s what we’re encouraging. “If that’s her game, we want her to play that way. It’s going to be a very difficult job to go and see who we give votes to I can say that.”

Despite winning the match by 50 points, Carden said the scoreboard was not what impressed him most. He was pleased the players were able to execute the game plan set out and build on the areas practiced in the pre-season.

“I must admit, we didn’t even look at the scoreboard during the day,” Carden said. “We’ve got a philosophy down at the Stingrays about the fundamentals. “Are we executing what we practice right? I just think just being able to get the results on the scoreboard, that comes from being able to move the footy and clean hands. “If you noticed today’s game how it was a lot more open, that’s where female footy is going, so we’re looking more at that. “The scoreboard was a great outcome, but I think the actual result we got on the scoreboard to kick nine goals, when it’s only 60 minutes of playing time is a pretty good effort.”

The quick ball movement allowed the Stingrays to be ultra-effective inside 50 with 13 scoring shots from just 22 inside 50s, two more entries than their opponents who had three scoring shots. It meant 59 per cent of the time the Stingrays entered the forward 50, they scored, and 41 per cent of the time, it was a goal. Their tall combination of Vudiniabola and Georgia Grimmer shared in a couple of goals each, while the smalls of Ashleigh Richards and Jessica Matin went to work at ground level.

Despite having such an impressive win to shoot the Stingrays up to the top of the table after one round, Carden said there was still plenty to learn from the game and tweak ahead of their next fixture against 2019 NAB League Girls grand finalists, Calder Cannons next Saturday.

“I think in some of the stoppages, because we’ve worked so much on our fundamentals, we’ve done almost nothing on structures, but just teaching them a little bit of positioning to play around the stoppages,” he said. “We’ll work on that. “I think also committing to some of the change of direction stuff we’ve been working on. When you spread, spread wide and commit to that. “But as they know, every single week, the girls said it will be clean hands, clean hands, clean hands in every situation of the game.”

Stingrays stun Ranges with 50-point win

DANDENONG Stingrays have produced one of their best performances in the NAB League Girls competition to-date, downing Eastern Ranges by 50 points at Holm Park Reserve in Beaconsfield. In warm conditions without a lot of breeze, the Stingrays went into the contest with a heavy bottom-age presence with talls up either end supported by a couple of more experienced players around them. It was an arm-wrestle for the most part in the first half, with Dandenong eventually turning the tables on Eastern thanks to an inspired performance by AFL Women’s National Academy member, Tyanna Smith.

While she was solid in the first quarter, it was the second term where Smith came to life, having multiple inside 50s – including three consecutive – and booting a remarkable goal from the boundary line to blow out the half-time margin to 33 points at the break. The first five minutes of the match was spent between the arcs, but a quick kick inside 50 gave debutant overager, Serene Vudiniabola the opportunity with her strong hands to dish off to Jess Matin who slotted the easiest of first goals. The Stingrays double up late in the term when Ashleigh Richards converted from 30m out straight in front, but it was off the back of a huge Mackenzie Eardley tackle, stopping Lily Peacock in her tracks on the wing. Both Smith and Olivia Meagher were battling hard for their respective sides, throwing their bodies on the line to win the contested ball despite being outnumbered.

Eardley continued in the second term where she took a huge contested one-on-one mark inside defensive 50, while Smith’s dominance came to the fore. After a couple of dropped marks by teammates and Vudiniabola’s missed chance for a goal herself, Smith gathered the ball right by the boundary line amongst traffic and snapped it across her body off a step to put it through the middle in a remarkable effort. Meagher and Jorja Livingstone were trying hard for Eastern, with Livingstone bearing similar traits to Smith with her ability to sidestep opponents and kick it clear. The Stingrays’ defence kept holding up however, and both Georgia Grimmer and Vudiniabola got on the board late in the term. Tarni Brown had a chance in the dying seconds right on the boundary but was knocked over as she kicked it, with the ball cannoning into the behind post ensuring the Stingrays were in firm control of the contest.

It did not take long in the second half for Dandenong to keep building the lead with Richards converting her second in the opening few minutes. The drought was broken for the Ranges in response when a contest deep in the Eastern forward line produced something out of nothing with Victorian Netball League (VNL) netballer, Saskia Nannes making her mark on the game with a clever snap which bounced past a couple of defenders and home. Richards almost had a third for the Ranges, but it was touched on the way there. Meagher’s defensive work and contested ability was there throughout the four quarters, wrapping up Zoe Hill to win a free kick and subsequent 50m penalty, but her set shot drifted to the right. Not to be outdone, Smith then ran down an opponent with five minutes left in the quarter to save a certain goal, then moments later marked inside 50, 30m out on an angle. She too missed the chance to add to the lead, but Jaide Anthony did not, when a fortuitous fumble close to the line saw an opponent overrun the ball and collect her high with a subsequent snap from the free kick sailing through and the margin was 39 at the final break.

The last quarter started with more promise for the Stingrays as Vudiniabola booted her second major just 51 seconds into the contest, and Grimmer made it two for herself with a goal midway through the term with a remarkable long bomb off a snap. Unfortunately Eastern copped two injuries in the final term with players having to be helped off, but the game was done and dusted by that stage, and while a number of Ranges had impressed, it was a terrific performance from the Stingrays. Dandenong head coach, Dave Carden said it was a terrific effort from the playing group to put out the performance it did.

“It’s interesting, because you’re not really sure what to expect,” he said. “We’re such a new squad. “We had 11 debutants play their first game for the Stingrays today and we’re pretty much a brand new coaching staff. “So we’ve worked on a lot of things over the summer and it’s really been about the fundamentals. “Making sure we’re getting our kicking right under pressure. Massive focus on clean hands, but also them having the courage to take the game on. “We talked about it as players, we want them to bring their strength to the game, rather than a whole heap of structural stuff and be you. “You know what? I think they did a really, really good job right across the ground doing that.”

Smith finished with 26 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal, leading the way perfectly from Amber Clarke (12 disposals, two marks and four tackles), while Grimmer, Richards and Vudiniabola all booted a couple of majors each as a damaging forward combination. Eardley was superb in defence with a couple of marks, four rebounds, five tackles and seven touches, while Matin missed a couple of chances in the third term to boot a handy three majors, but finished with 1.2 from 10 disposals and four tackles. Captain Abbey Jordan also produced a lot of one percenters, recording nine disposals and two inside 50s with a lot of hard running throughout the contest. For Eastern, Meagher was the standout with 16 disposals, two marks, five tackles and three inside 50s, well supported by Livingstone (13 disposals, two tackles) and Brown (20 disposals, three tackles). Ruby O’Dwyer (12 disposals, three inside 50s and two tackles) and Jess Grace (seven disposals, 12 hitouts) were also among Eastern’s best in the loss.

Next week the Stingrays head to Cragieburn to take on the Calder Cannons, wile Eastern has a bye in Round 2 ahead of a home match at Kilsyth against Tasmania Devils.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.0 | 5.3 | 7.4 | 9.4 (58)
EASTERN RANGES 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Dandenong: A. Richards 2, S. Vudiniabola 2, G. Grimmer 2, J. Matin, J. Anthony, T. Smith.
Eastern: S. Nannes.

BEST:

Dandenong: T. Smith, M. Eardley, G. Grimmer, A. Jordan, S. Vudiniabola
Eastern: O. Meagher, J. Livingstone, T. Brown, R. O’Dwyer, J. Grace

DC Medal:

5 – Tyanna Smith (DS)
4 – Olivia Meagher (ER)
3 – Mackenzie Eardley (DS)
2 – Georgia Grimmer (DS)
1 – Jorja Livingstone (ER)

NAB League Girls preview: Round 1 – New talent to shine in opening round of action

NAB League Girls action is back on the agenda this weekend with a grand final rematch among a host of expected tight contests with all sides back on level pegging at 0-0 to start the season and hoping to kick-off their seasons with wins.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday, February 29, 10:15am
RMIT University Bundoora

The first game of the round is a fitting opener to the new NAB League Girls season, with Northern Knights hosting Calder Cannons at a refurbished RMIT University ground in the 2019 Grand Final rematch. The Knights had five players drafted last year, with the remainder signed up for state league level football in 2020, while the Cannons just had the two, but had a number of players on the periphery. Both these sides have plenty of talent with the Knights potentially a year ahead in development, finishing runner-up in 2018 before winning last year, while the Cannons made the grand final last season, and will be hoping to build on that this year. The Knights have five players in the National AFL Women’s Academy, led by Ellie McKenzie and last year’s grand final best on ground medallist, Jess Fitzgerald who are both amongst a strong midfield core. Fellow Academy member, Maeve Chaplin is also named onball, while Maykaylah Appleby will run down the wings as the sole middle-age Academy member. Alyssa Bannan is a leading target and strong overhead named at centre half-forward, and a battle with the likes of key backs, Tamsin Crook and Tahlia Gillard – the latter of whom is in the AFL Women’s Academy too will be a match-up to watch. The name that will always catch the eye is Georgie Prespakis, a 2021 draft prospect and sister of Carlton Rising Star, Madison. She is capable of anything and her battle with McKenzie will be intriguing. The Cannons also have some serious depth at their disposal, with Emelia Yassir and Kasey Lennox another couple of youngsters who made their debuts last season and looked at home. With Freda Puruntatameri playing with Palmerston in the NTFL Women’s competition up forward for the Cannons, there is plenty of X-factor there too.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday, February 29, 11:30am
City Oval Ballarat

Up in Ballarat, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels host the Sandringham Dragons in a battle between two sides who should improve on their 2019 placings. Both sides have a number of AFL Women’s Academy member with the Rebels (five) and the Dragons (three) both having some serious top-end talent. The Rebels have a strong spine with Maggie Caris likely to be the top ruck in the competition this year with her height and tap work causing problems for the opposition. Renee Saulitis has played up forward and down back, but is named in the middle, with her athleticism and ability to sidestep opponents a feature of her game. Along with Isabella Simmons who has also been named through the midfield, all three Academy members are very different and add varied elements to the game style. They will face an equally impressive midfield of Dragons’ captain Winnie Laing, potential St Kilda father-daughter selection, Alice Burke and Bella Eddey who provide a real hard edge to the onball brigade. Sarah Hartwig is one of a couple of premier rebounding defenders, reading the ball in flight so well and able to create a lot of offensive run while nullifying her opponent defensively. Playing at half-forward is Eliza McNamara who is a tackling machine and elite runner, who will work her opponent over, while Abbi Moloney lines up at full-forward to try and clunk a few grabs by outmuscling her opponent one-on-one. The Rebels will look to run the ball out of defence through Nyakoat Dojiok who is a 2021 draft prospect in the Academy, while Chloe Leonard has been named at full-forward for the Rebels who will look to have a spread of goalkickers rather than a dominant target.

GEELONG FALCONS v. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday, February 29, 12:00pm
RMIT University Bundoora 

After its first finals loss last season, Geelong Falcons return to the NAB League Girls with a hunger to get back to the heights of 2018, starting off the 2020 season with a clash against Gippsland Power. The Power have a lot of players who were able to run out last season and will be more experienced in 2020, so they will no doubt look to push the Falcons who have plenty of young players themselves. Geelong’s duo of Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner will be damaging through the midfield as the Falcons’ two AFL Women’s National Academy members. Joined in the middle by basketballer Carly Remmos, the Falcons have a strong foundation to continue the success of past years. Elizabeth Dowling is a name that will be raised over the next couple of years, and along with Renee Tierney as targets up forward and Poppy Schaap‘s defensive pressure, the Falcons are in a good shape going forward. Mia Van Dyke is one of a number of prospects who have come through the club’s V/Line Cup program and despite being just three days away from being a 2023 draft eligible prospect (only turned 15 in December), she is one of a number who have come through the pathway with some high wraps from the coaching staff. Gippsland has some familiar names in its line-up, led by midfielder and AFL Women’s Academy member, Megan Fitzsimon. She, along with Grace McRae forms a strong midfield duo in there, and will compete strongly for the contested ball. In defence, Shanara Notman returns as a 19-year-old named at centre half-back and will provide some good rebound there, right alongside Leyla Berry who played for the Power back in 2018. On the other flank is a familiar Power name with Yasmin Duursma (sister of Port Adelaide’s Xavier), while when talking about bottom-age talent, Lily-Rose Williamson is one who will be a standout along a win having starred for the club through the V/Line Cup in past years.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS
Saturday, February 29, 12:50pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval 

Turning the attention to Bendigo, the Pioneers host Western Jets in a curtain raiser to the AFL Women’s clash between Richmond and Geelong. Bendigo has the one official AFL Women’s National Academy member in key defender Tara Slender, but have a midfield that will trouble opposition onballers. Brooke Hards and Annabel Strahan have both been named onball and the co-captains will provide a hard-edge to the midfield and be difficult to beat there. Along with Maeve Tupper who has some impressive athletic skills and great goal sense when up forward, the midfield is a strength for the Pioneers. Jemma Finning has been named at half-back to provide some run out of defence with Slender, while up forward, Hannah Stewart is a target inside 50 as a 19-year-old. The Jets have opted to throw rebounding defender, Isabelle Pritchard into the midfield to counteract the Pioneers’ onball and develop her game even further. Along with bottom-age tall, Montana Ham and Nikita Wright in the middle, the Jets have some good height and ball-winning ability in there with upside. A highly rated bottom-ager with Ham is Charlotte Baskaran who is considered elite with her foot skills and decision making, so will be one to watch coming off half-back where she has been named. Both these sides are going to go close to winning in this tight contest with a fair few bottom-agers on show, though Bendigo should be more prepared after their top-agers had consistency through the team as middle-agers last season.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES
Sunday, March 1,  11:00am
Holm Park Recreation Reserve 

In a rewind to 2018, Dandenong Stingrays and Eastern Ranges return to Holm Park in Beaconsfield to open their seasons on Sunday. While both played different opponents on that day two years ago, they will both be hoping for more ideal temperatures than the 37 degrees on that day. The Stingrays are coming off a solid season in 2019. just missing out on finals, while Eastern reached the post-season series and pushed eventual premiers, Northern Knights all the way in the preliminary final clash. The Stingrays’ standout prospect in 2020 is Tyanna Smith, with the AFL Women’s National Academy member having the combination of speed and strength in the middle, which she will use to burst out of the stoppages and create scoring opportunities for her team. Abbey Jordan showed last season she can win the ball through the middle, while young talls, Jaide Anthony and Georgia Grimmer up forward provide a glimpse into the future for the Stingrays having come through the V/Line Cup program. Down back, the ever-reliable Zoe Hill is alongside Jemma Radford, while Serene Vudiniabola comes highly rated as an overager who played school footy last year and is tied to Old Haileybury. Eastern Ranges pack a punch in the midfield as well, with Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown the club’s two AFL Women’s Academy members. With ruck, Jess Grace likely to get first hands to them more often than not, the contested ball-winning Meagher and slick Brown will give their forwards some nice feeds inside 50. Matilda Hardy has been named at half-forward as one to watch, while Mietta Kendall is a reliable source of calmness in the back pocket, and Lily Peacock named as one to watch with her run along the wing.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday, March 1, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval 

The final game of the round is another curtain raiser, this time for the Collingwood and Richmond AFL Marsh Series clash at Wangaratta. A big crowd is expected in attendance for the game, with two teams expected to improve in 2020 to battle it out. Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers both had some superb performances last season, but had to iron out some consistency issues at times. Both having a number of talents coming through the ranks this season, the Bushrangers had a lot of middle and bottom-agers last season who have progressed through to the next year of their youth careers. The Charges had five players drafted and will be looking to replace them through a team approach. The Chargers have three players in the AFL Women’s National Academy with captain Mimi Hill and middle-ager Charlie Rowbottom named on-ball to rove the work of ruck, Kalarni Kearns. Also in the midfield is Joanna Lin on the wing, working the ball forward to an even front six. The Bushrangers have a two-pronged tall attack with AFL Women’s Academy members, Olivia Barber (top-age) and Ally Morphett (middle-age) rotating between ruck and forward. Abby Favell is a natural ball winner and will rotate between midfield and forward, while Kate Adams is another player who can be slippery around the stoppages and find the goals when inside 50. Keeley Skepper showed last season in the Under 16 Championships that she has a lot of upside, while a number of players on both teams loom as surprise packets in what could be one of the games of the round.

Raw talent set to excite for Stingrays in 2020

DANDENONG Stingrays will have a “different feel” to them in the NAB League Girls competition this year after a large list turnover saw plenty of fresh faces make the squad for the upcoming 2020 season. Female Talent Manager, Matthew Crozier said the squad was raw but talented with plenty to like about the coming years at the club.

“It’s a bit of a different feel to it this year,” he said. “We only retained 20 to 25 players from 2019, so a lot of new kids, a lot of new faces trying to get them up to the standard. “But a really good young group.”

The three standouts that Crozier is excited to see perform this year are AFL Women’s Academy member, Tyanna Smith, as well as midfielder, Abbey Jordan and tall defender, Zoe Hill. He said the three led by example out on the track over the pre-season and were prepared for a big year which he hoped could continue to place them in the spotlight for the AFL Women’s Draft at year’s end.

“Tyanna Smith’s been pretty good,” Crozier said. “Abbey Jordan’s come back like a house on fire so pretty stoked for her at the moment. “Zoe Hill from Vic Country last year has got a lot fitter and come a long way. “Those three are hopefully going to go to Vic Country and hopefully got to a VFL club later in the year and show them what they’re made of.”

While Smith was renowned for her acceleration out of the stoppage and ability to get goal side with ball-in-hand, Crozier said she would be “thrown around” into different positions to showcase her versatility and appeal to AFL Women’s clubs. Jordan’s run and carry will become a feature in the forward half of the ground, while Hill’s ability to play well as a defender on the last line will be tested up the other end of the ground at times.

“Yeah we want to mix it up,” Crozier said. “We want to try and play her forward and give her an opportunity, but in saying that, that’s her best position and probably the position she’s going to play at Nationals. “Hopefully if all goes to plan, we’re a development program, we’ve got to try and put these girls up in lights and expose them to the AFL clubs and the national recruiters to get them there, and that’s obviously with the 16s as well.”

The Stingrays list is set to be young again in 2020, with one 19-year-old prospect a potential excitement machine all things going well.

“We have one girl who’s never played footy in her life – Serene Vudiniabola,” Crozier said. “She’s played at Haileybury at 2019 in her Year 12 year. “Previously a sprinter at about 183 (cm), she’ll be exciting but she’s not sure what she’s doing with uni yet so we’re waiting to see on that. “But for a player who never really played a competitive game, at local or in a program, she’s going to be a really good force to be reckoned with if she makes our list.”

Vudiniabola is not the only cross-coder to test their hand at Australian rules, with a couple of other talents already on the list, including an AFL Women’s National Academy member in Jaide Anthony.

“There’s a lot of basketballers and those with cricket as well like Jaide Anthony,” Crozier said. “Jess Matin who hasn’t really done much with us, but is a really good talent and hopefully going to be a bit of a smoky later during the year. “She’s never been in a NAB League program before so hopefully she has a really good year and has been touted at the next level. But she needs to prove herself here at the moment.”

Along with Anthony, there are a number of 17 and 16-year-olds that could catch the eye throughout this season and the coming years.

“We’ve got a few (bottom-agers to watch),” Crozier said. “Amber Clarke really, really good player had a good V/Line series. “Mackenzie Eardley is about six foot and she’s 15 and could play as a wing, a running wing or a running half-back. “She played a Futures Game with us last year and didn’t look out of place so hopefully this year she can push for a spot in the first side. “Another one we have in Monet Ferris who was in the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and played Under 15s for Queensland in the girls competition down in Tasmania last year. “Her family moved down at the end of last year and were looking for a club, and fortunate for us she landed right in the middle of our zone, so that was fantastic to get her. “But that bottom-age group is a really strong age group and I would expect in the coming years with the development and work we will put into these girls that they’ll push forward.”

The Stingrays season unofficially kicks off on Saturday with the first competitive hitout of the pre-season taking on the Western Jets at Seaford, followed by a second clash against Oakleigh Chargers on Sunday, February 16. Crozier said he felt it was a better tune up for the real season by having a couple of trial games.

“Last year we only had one hitout prior to the season and now I think having two, it will be more beneficial for the girls and the coaches as well,” he said. “We have a really new coaching group as well. “From last year we’ve only kept two coaches, and we’ve got another eight development coaches who are mostly female now. “We’re looking at not only developing players, but developing coaches and people as well, and females in footy.”

The Stingrays came close to sneaking into the NAB League Girls finals last season, and while Crozier admits it would be nice to play in those “marquee games”, that was not the goal of the organisation in the development league.

“I don’t really have many expectations,” he said. “It’s always good to win games but for us, it’s the cliche answer. “I couldn’t care if we were none and nine as long as we do our job, and all 48 girls on our list leave the program better than when they came in – an influence back at local or VFL or Nationals – that’s a win for us. “I know the girls and some of the coaches at times really want to be playing in those games. “They are marquee games and they get looked at by a lot more recruiters. “It would be good, but I still think Northern and Calder and those types of teams are going to be the ones to beat.”

There has been plenty of change at the club with Dave Carden coming on as head coach of the Girls’ program after success at Hawthorn in the VFL Women’s.

“He had a couple of years there and was involved with their premiership back in 2018,” Crozier said. “He’s been really good and he’s brought a couple of development coaches in with Steph Carroll – I think she captained that side in the premiership year. So she’s been a really good player transitioning into that coaching fraternity now. But she’s been really good on educating the players and what it’s like to train, especially the younger ones what the training standards are. “It’s been good.”

Dandenong Stingrays have a tough start to the 2020 NAB League season on March 1 against last year’s finalist Eastern Ranges at Beaconsfield, before facing last year’s grand finalists back-to-back in Calder Cannons and Northern Knights on the road.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 8

ROUND 8 saw some big clashes with the Northern Knights handing the Geelong Falcons their first loss in two years in the NAB League Girls. We took note of some of the top performers that respective Female Talent Managers highlighted at the start of the season as ones to watch. We attended five games live and noted the final game at the bottom. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Calder Cannons 4.6 (30) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 1.3 (9)
By: Taylah Melki

Calder 

#2 Felicity Theodore

She had a relatively quiet first half, not finding much of the footy but well and truly worked her way into the game in the second half. She kicked a good crumbing goal in the third after picking the ball up out the back of the pack and taking a couple of steps to dribble it through for a goal. Theodore also showcased her good vision and attacking mind set to push her side forward.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

She was involved early, getting hands to the ball at the stoppages and showing good spatial awareness to dish the ball out to teammates. She had good strong hands to take a solid grab in the first quarter and showcased her ability to read the play. Patrikios consistently attacked the ball hard, sets up play for her teammates and had really good hands. She showed great control of the ball while on the run and kicked a good crumbing goal in the third quarter to stay down and cleanly pick the ball up and then turn and kick. She used her long booming kick to propel the ball into the forward 50 and knew where to position the ball to her teammates advantage. She was clean around the stoppages working hard to extract the footy and ran hard both ways making her presence felt across the field.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

After a quiet start Petrevski came alive in the second half. She had a good passage of play receiving a handball and steaming forward to kick to a teammate in the third term and used her booming kick to move the ball forward on multiple occasions. Her hands in close were also impressive and applied strong pressure across the ground. She was creative with ball in hand and worked hard to move the ball into an attacking position throughout the game.

#41 Georgie Prespakis 

Prespakis continued her dominant form and seemed to have plenty of time and space with ball in hand. Her ability to sidestep her opponents and then dish it off to a teammate was second to none and she consistently pushed hard to create attacking options. She showed good courage to go back with the flight of the ball while second efforts were impressive working hard to try and win the ball back for her side. Prespakis never seemed far from the footy winning plenty of it both at the coalface and across the ground for the Cannons. She read the tap out of the ruck exceptionally well, used her beautiful long booming kick to her sides advantage and provided repeat entries into forward 50. Won a heap of the ball in the third and had an impressive passage of play with a tunnel ball handball while getting tackled out to a teammate in space.

Bendigo 

#1 Maeve Tupper

Tried hard throughout the game to impact the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball to take a big intercept mark in the middle of the ground and propel her team forward, good smother in the second quarter showcasing her ability to track the ball and apply strong defensive pressure on the ball carrier.

#3 Elizabeth Snell

Good clean grab of the footy and pushed hard to move the ball forward. She showed some good evasive skills to break free at the contest and go forward. Snell displayed good vision to hit up teammates in space and identify passages of play. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and go for a big mark against her taller opponent and tried hard throughout game to keep her side in it. She also used her body well around the stoppages to try and out manoeuvre her opponent and get free. 

#4 Brooke Hards 

Made an impact from the get go, tackling hard and was ferocious at the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball and took an intercept mark showcasing her strength. Hards had clean hands at ground level to crumb and then pass it off and tracked the ball well at ground level. She was strong in the contest not afraid to put her body on the line and take a bump. She kept her arms free and dished off a clever handball to a teammate in a better position in the second term credit to her spatial awareness and general footy smarts. Hards also laid some good strong tackles throughout the game.

#19 Jemma Finning

Good lead up at the footy, and well weighted kick to an opponent on the lead in the forward 50 in the first quarter. Her second efforts were good, worked hard to win the ball and had good support run to provide an option for her teammates. She got busy in the second quarter around the contest and was strong to push off an opponent and maintain possession. Finning used her booming kick to propel the ball forward and keep the ball moving in attack. 

Dandenong Stingrays 6.4 (40) defeated Murray Bushrangers 3.9 (27)
By: Peter Williams

Dandenong:

#10 Abbey Jordan

Played on a wing and had some nice plays throughout the game, putting pressure on defenders at half-forward and also getting back to assist at half-back. On a number of occasions, she was able to nullify contests through a quick kick before being tackled or bumped, or was able to impact opposition players while in possession, forcing mistakes.

#12 Molly McDonald

The captain played on the ball and provided good strength at ground level. She continually put her body on the line and while a lot of the good work she did would not find its way onto a stats sheet, her defensive pressure and one percenters were very impressive. She is a team-orientated player and showed good vision on the inside to find teammates free on the outside.

#26 Isabella Shannon

Kicked an important goal in the third term when they needed it, and roamed around the forward half, playing midfield and inside 50. She exited stoppages well, moving around opposition players and was able to get boot to ball while being brought down in tackles. After kicking the goal, Shannon won the next clearance from the midfield and put it inside 50 to a teammates’ advantage.

#28 Tyanna Smith

Smith stood up when it counted late, turning it on with a great running clearance late in the final term, then booted the winning goal coming out of a forward stoppage on the run, negotiating the breeze perfectly. Still had moments of strength and grace throughout the game, but it was the last quarter which stood out.

#31 Brooke Vernon

Played her reliable game in defence, tasked with the kick-outs and pushing up the ground when required. She was able to have a number of forward 50 entries when going inside, and also ran hard to lay a good tackle on the last line of defence in the third term to force a throw-in and save a potential goal.

#51 Zoe Hill

Often rebounded and pushed up the ground to provide an extra number at a contest at half-back. Hill won a number of free kicks for her fierce tackling and was composed under pressure in the back half.

Murray:

#6 Chelsea Hargreaves

The NSW/ACT representative played in defence and was able to move the ball quickly in transition. She showed a nice few quick steps before clearing the ball long and was able to get through a couple of players backing herself in, late in the game but her handball was intercepted. It was still promising to see her take the game on, which she tried to do with another strong run and kick out of defence going long down the field.

#7 Kate Adams

Played a pressure role through the midfield and forward end, just doing team things but chasing opponents and forcing them to dispose of the ball quicker than they would have liked. She took a nice steady mark under pressure at half-back at one stage, and in another instance was able to win the ball at ground level, handball it off and then apply a shepherd for a teammate to run with it.

#8 Abby Favell

Had the ball on a string throughout the game, particularly in the first quarter. Just ran and ran all day long. Not only was her accumulation on point, but her defensive pressure was superb as well. She laid a great goal-saving tackle in the first term and while some of her kicks were intercepted, she followed up with strong second efforts and just kept running, bringing her teammates into the game through handballs. She forced a number of turnovers through her tackling, and also showed off a clean set of heels by sidestepping an opponent at half-back and taking off. Kicked a late goal in the final term after sneaking 20m out from goal, wasting no time slotting the set shot and bring the Bushrangers back within six points. Best afield despite being in a losing side.

#19 Millie Brown

Another standout player for the Bushrangers, what impressed me most about Brown’s game was her last term. While the defence was under siege she was able to maintain her composure and just keep it going forward. She intercepted a number of kicks inside defensive 50 and worked hard throughout the match to keep her team in the game. She would often bring a teammate into the play with one-two handballs, but her interceptions on the wing and long bombs inside 50 were among the crucial plays that kept the game alive for the visitors.

#45 Olivia Barber

Barber is a raw talent that once she can convert her opportunities into goals, it will make her an incredibly damaging. The tall forward works hard for her leads and creates space well, and can also clunk a lot of marks. She just missed some gettable shots, which is something that can be easily fixed, just adjusting the kicking style. Continues to impress and is one to watch as she develops, and more so her field kicking is also sound, so just ironing it out in front of goal.

Western Jets 3.3 (21) defeated Sandringham Dragons 1.3 (9)
By: Peter Williams

Western:

#13 Isabella Grant

Returning to the side, Grant rotated between forward and midfield, having a good battle with Sarah Hartwig early. Both players impressed with Grant winning the battle with her smarts at ground level, while Hartwig impressed with her ability in the air. Grant used her body well around the ground to knock opponents off the ball and give off quick handballs to teammates running by. In one instance in the second term she bumped an opponent away, picked up the ball, spun around and kicked long down the wing. In the third term she had a couple of shots on goal with one fading to the right and the next going to the opposite pocket out on the full. Overall had her moments through the midfield in transition.

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

The captain played her usual consistent game coming out of half-back, winning the ball at ground level and looking to run down the middle to get her team forward. She cracked in hard throughout four quarters and showed strength in tackles by getting her hands free. Led the team well and stepped up late in the game to nullify a few contests.

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

A standout for the Jets throughout the game, intercepting inside 50s at will, positioning herself well in marking contests and kicking long to midfield. She laid a goal-saving tackle at one stage close to the boundary line, earning herself a free. Pritchard won a number of free kicks as well for chopping of the arms or holding because of her dominance in defence. She weighed up between pushing up and dropping back, taking a couple of crucial marks late in the game to settle the team.

Sandringham:

#25 Sarah Hartwig

The clear best for Sandringham on the day, Hartwig was ultra-impressive at centre half-back spending time on Isabella Grant and then other opponents while focusing maintaining her line. She copped a knock in the first term on the wing but got up and became one of the Dragons most influential players, winning a number of one-on-one contests by reading the ball in flight well. Such was her impact when she was taken off for a rest last in the third term, Western booted a goal. Had plenty of marks and rebounds as well as one percenters.

#28 Alice Burke

Hunted the football and while she did not win as much of it as she has before, she just kept getting her hands in at ground level and feeding the ball out to teammates. Won a free kick late in the game for being bumped high and kept cracking in with either tackles or hardball gets on the inside of the contest.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Roamed along the wing and was another player who copped a hard bump early in the fourth term, but returned to play on. She moved well out of stoppages and was able to kick long down the middle, buzzing around the midfield and providing an option for her teammates to run and carry the ball forward.

Greater Western Victoria 3.2 (20) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 2.7 (19)
By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#9 Renee Saulitis

Played a different role to her usual smart forward role many have become accustomed to, but still was able to use her smarts and foot skills to advantage. If anything, she was able to have a greater impact on the contest because of her footy IQ and ability to dish off the ball quickly under pressure. She uses the ball well and one of her best moments was actually a defensive one – laying a run-down tackle on Mimi Hill on the wing, earning a free kick.

#10 Ella Wood

Spent time off half-back and pushing up through the midfield, Wood was strong throughout the four quarters with her defensive work and hard running. She forced a number of turnovers and pushed up to win the ball and bring teammates into the game, working well with a one-two handball combination with a teammate on the wing in the second term as an example of where she was able to get the ball moving forward. Was involved in the final goal with good strength at the stoppage.

#24 Sophie Molan

Never plays a bad game and Molan just kept consistent throughout the four quarters, booting the opening goal of the game and winning the footy at will. She missed a snap on goal initially but made up for it with a goal on the run, and then spread around the ground providing good strength at ground level or in the air. Molan executed the perfect handball out of the stoppage to Lilli Condon for the winning goal in the final term.

#30 Nyakoat Dojiok

One of the Rebels best, providing run and carry across the ground from half-back to the wing. She primarily was stationed on the wing and was often used in transition. On some occasions she might have done a bit too much, but she was still able to get the ball free even when under pressure. Most promising sign was the fact she continually tried to break the lines and create something for the Rebels and her burst of speed worried the opposition. Also has quick hands and was able to dispose of the ball quickly when being tackled.

#35 Maggie Caris

Provided her midfielders with first hands more often than not continuing her good season. What separates Caris from many other rucks is her cleanliness at ground level, and her ability to control the ball once in her hands. She is a one-touch player and has a long kick that can hit targets.

Oakleigh:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

The silky midfielder showed off her slick skills primarily off half-back, winning the ball and then executing 45-degree kicks opening up angles and avenues for her team to go forward. While the game was scrappy at times, Lagioia was able to add a touch of class with her foot skills and hit-up targets repetitively and keep the ball moving. She was also not afraid to take the opposition on, sidestepping an opponent and kicking long to the wing in the second term.

#2 Mimi Hill

Worked hard for four quarters and was influential early pushing up the ground and getting some important inside 50s for her teammates. Provided an option in the back half of the ground, combining with Lagioia at one stage, getting the ball forward. Hill had a flying shot on goal in the second term but just missed to the right while on a tight angle.

#8 Alana Porter

One of Oakleigh’s best throughout and just missed out on finishing off in front of goal. Kicked a major from a set shot, but missed a couple of opportunities to add to her tally in the third term. Not only did Porter use her trademark burst of speed to good effect, but she also applied plenty of defensive pressure, laying some big tackles and bumps on opponents to force turnovers. When tackled herself, Porter stood up in tackles and was able to get her hands free.

Geelong Falcons 0.7 (7) defeated by Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Elise Vella

It was not Vella’s most productive day as the Falcons struggled for goals, but the diminutive forward took on her usual role of creating pressure around the contest and looked dangerous forward of centre. Had a nice passage where she took her opponent on and carried the ball through the middle of the ground, and also spent some time in the midfield during the second half.

#8 Paige Sheppard

Was in the thick of everything early, proving Geelong’s most productive player at stoppages and in the game overall. Sheppard accumulated a good amount of ball and tried her best to push the Falcons forward, but often saw her kicks smothered or compensated for distance given the wealth of contested situations she found herself in. Was particularly impressed with her combativeness, and Sheppard looked unfazed in physical battles against much taller midfield opponents.

#12 Laura Gardiner

The middle-ager was outstanding in one of her better performances for the year, and was one of the few Falcons midfielders to show composure in heavy traffic. Often a damaging driver forward on the outside, Gardiner won a fair amount of the ball at stoppages around the ground and looked to weave her way out of trouble instead of blazing away. While that inevitably happened at times anyway, Gardiner has plenty of time to refine her already strong skill base.

#18 Darcy Moloney

Moloney was one who seemed to struggle at times amidst the Knights’ pressure around the ball, but dug in hard as she typically does. Could have had a better return had she not missed a tough snapped chance, with some of her second half minutes spent inside the forward 50. Was often swamped when in possession, but showed good strength in tackles trying to break away.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman stood up in an under-siege defence, providing a cool head and cutting off as many Northern forward forays as she could. Showed her high-level reading of the play with a couple of nice intercept marks, and backed them up with neat kicks and sharp decision making. While the ball often came right back, Chapman was hardly beaten one-on-one despite Northern finding most of their goals from marks at close range.

#24 Mia Skinner

Often the leader of Geelong’s attack, Skinner was quelled well by Northern defender Sarah Sansonetti. Playing as a lead-up centre half-forward, Skinner’s effort could not be faulted as she worked her opponent over with runs up to the wing and then hard back towards goal. Missed a couple of difficult chances in the first half which would have really boosted Geelong’s chances of staying in the game, but is usually a clinical finisher.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

McEvoy was central to coach Jason Armistead’s heavy shuffling of the magnets – starting off half-back, moving into the midfield as the Knights got on top, and then being thrown forward at the start of the last term as Geelong looked to find her with the first clearance for a quick goal. Used her long and penetrating kick to good effect from defence to rebound, and played the role of a general well. Her overhead marking was also outstanding, and probably would have stood out more if it was not so expected of her. Most of them came as McEvoy positioned herself a kick off the ball when it was inside the Falcon’s forward arc, with her attempt against two Knights opponents in the second term the best of the lot. Continues to show she can play anywhere, and is a true leader in that sense as she can sacrifice her own game for the benefit of the team.

#39 Renee Tierney

Had some really impressive moments across the match, but was ultimately unable to find the goal as she often does. Her best chance was a stray snap, but a lot of her possessions were found up the ground as she looked to work with Skinner as a link forward. Tierney’s clean hands both overhead on leads and below her knees at speed were fantastic, and allowed the Falcons to create chances to move forward quickly with much of the game played in dispute. Showed good defensive intentions with a crunching tackle on Northern’s Gulia Ceravolo in the final term which unfortunately ended the match.

Northern:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Morris-Dalton was a force inside 50, playing one of her better games for the year. The key forward booted the first goal of the game after a one-on-one mark, setting the tone for a game where she intelligently found space inside 50 and worked hard to do so. A couple of impressive loose ball gets allowed Morris-Dalton to find Alyssa Bannan inside 50 just as impressively, and she picked out targets well to give Northern good looks at goal.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was another Knight who proved dangerous in the forward half, and benefitted from the smart work of Morris-Dalton to combine for Northern’s second goal in the first term. Bannan was persistent around the contests early on and tackled hard, but proved most damaging when the ball was delivered to her over the back as she streamed forward and delivered inside 50. Could have added another goal in the third term but missed on the run in an otherwise impressive performance.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Like Bannan, Fitzgerald was fantastic going forward with lightning runs to set the Knights into attack. Seemed to be doing everything right early on with a neat kick and an overhead mark on the forward 50 arc both catching the eye. Fitzgerald continued her form in the second term with a clever passage to combine with Britney Gutknecht, and pressed to find the goals with multiple snaps from deep in the pocket either falling short or missing to the narrow side. She managed to find the big sticks in the third quarter with a set shot conversion, and her best moment came with a weaving break through three opponents through the middle of the ground to cap off a promising display.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Fulfilled one of the most important roles for the Knights, wearing Mia Skinner like a glove in a fantastic defensive effort. While her kicking at times was a little off, Sansonetti was hardly beaten one-on-one and looked a force in the air as she chimed in with spoils and contested marking attempts. In one of the best plays of the game, she laid a crunching bump on Paige Sheppard to force a spillage and followed up by winning the ball to the applause of her coaches on the bench.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Named the Knights’ best on the day, and it is hardly any wonder why. McKenzie was a step above with her decision making and ability to remain composed on the ball, finding targets by hand and foot with ease. While constantly looking to wheel onto her left side could have sold her into trouble, McKenzie was good enough to bide her time and escape being caught. Playing through the midfield, perhaps the most pleasing part of McKenzie’s game was her physicality – as she laid a huge bump off the back of her own kick forward, as well as another on Poppy Schapp which unfortunately saw the diminutive Falcon forced off through injury. Scary to think McKeznie has another year left in the system, and showed she can dominate in the middle just as much as she does up forward.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Employed in the midfield for much of the game, Gutknecht looked like having a big one after winning a running clearance at the very first centre bounce. While her output was slightly down across the day, Gutknecht had some good moments and managed to find the ball around the ground. She often looked to take the game on, but sometimes came unstuck in the back half when playing on after marks – which could be a product of her natural forward tendencies. Almost took a courageous mark late on, with the impressive effort catching the eye as the result was beyond doubt.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton was productive as ever through the midfield, providing a point of difference in the frantic opening stages with calm use at the stoppages and impressive moves through traffic. Newton often handed the ball out effectively to her outside runners, and while she overdid it at times, was great to watch as others blazed away by foot. Much like McEvoy did for the Falcons, Newton positioned herself a kick off the play while the ball was disputed inside either 50 arc, taking a couple of high marks as she so often does. Newton’s understanding of the game was on full show in such positions, and she played a huge part in not allowing Geelong clean inside 50 entries.

In the other game over the weekend…

Gippsland Power 2.1 (13) defeated by Eastern Ranges 9.10 (64)

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams – Named in the best laying five tackles from eight disposals and continued her strong defensive pressure.
#9 Maddison Shaw – Again busy through the midfield and getting back in defence with 13 disposals, two rebounds and six tackles.
#12 Megan Fitzsimon – Named best by the Power for her 16 disposals, six tackles and four rebounds.
#26 Grace McRae – Had 17 disposals, two tackles and three rebounds in a hard working effort.

Eastern:

#26 Tarni Brown – Classy with 24 touches, eight tackles and seven inside 50s, pumping the ball long and setting up her teammates while finishing with a goal.
#33 Tess Flintoff – Returned and was impressive again with 21 touches, seven marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.
#39 Laura McClelland – Named among the best again with 12 disposals, two marks and five tackles in the win.
#46 Serena Gibbs – Had seven shots on goal, booting 3.4 from 18 disposals, six marks and six inside 50s, while also having five hitouts in the ruck in another impressive performance.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 7

WITH three rounds remaining there were some surprising results and finals-defining events, with a number of individuals standing up across the NAB League Girls competition. We took note of some of the top performers that respective Female Talent Managers highlighted at the start of the season as ones to watch. We attended five games live and noted the final game at the bottom. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Western Jets vs. Tasmania Devils

By: Sophie Taylor

Western Jets:

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

Georgostathis was dominant in this matchup, had great intensity and some really good footy smarts when in possession. Picked up 24 touches and racked up seven tackles from her exceptional pressure around the pack. Had some good opportunities to go for marks but in the cold and wet only managed one, but was still flying for the ball at every opportunity. Also did some great shepherding, showing off her game smarts to give her teammates opportunities around the ground ball.

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

Pritchard was another player who had a great game, denying Tasmania entry into their forward 50 and putting immense pressure on the carrier if it made it inside 50. Racked up 18 disposals running off half back, with five tackles to show for her ability to create opportunities in defence ready to move the ball back forward. Put in the hard yards at the ground ball to cause issues for the Devils, had the strength to get out of the pack.

Tasmania Devils:

#4 Mia King

King was one of the highlights in the high pressure match, doing her best to create opportunities despite issues across the field. Despite the weather had some good moments, with her ability to run both ways and move the footy down field. Good run and carry as well as pressure on the carrier. Also had some great opportunities down back to move the footy out of defence, however had little options to kick to, proving difficult.

#7 Netty Garlo

Garlo had a quiet match but still made her mark on the contest. Had some good defensive and tackling intensity, putting pressure on the ground ball and going for the second try on a number of opportunities to regain possession for the Devils.

Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons
By: Taylah Melki

Calder

#2 Felicity Theodore

She had a relatively slow first half but kept her player well held. Theodore really came alive in the final quarter showcasing her speed and desire to keep the game moving going for a run and bounce through the middle of the park in the last term to open it up for the Cannons. Her intensity sparked in the fourth quarter taking a strong mark under pressure and using her dash on more than one occasion to apply pressure on her opponents and open space.

#21 Georgia Patrikios 

She was a real ball winner for the Cannons credit to her ability to read the play and intent to get involved at the contest on more than once occasion. She applied good pressure across the ground covering her player well and worked hard in attack to put the ball into a damaging position for her teammates. She showcased her good evasive skills to shake off her opponents and kick the ball long down the line in the second quarter. Patrikios kicked their only goal for the game in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter and worked consistently hard to extract the ball out of the stoppages.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Prespakis was her usual dominant self across the ground. She had clean hands out of the middle and kept her arms free in the tackle to dish the ball off to a teammate in space and allow them to run free. She constantly put her body on the line and impressed with her follow up work across the ground to get involved in the contest. Prespakis went in hard at the coalface trying to extract the ball and lay it off to a teammate in a better and more attacking position. She tackled hard and did not back down at the contest. She used her long booming kick to bomb it long inside forward 50 and create some attacking play for the Cannons who were starved for most of the game. She was a real ball magnet and looked electric every time she got the ball. Prespakis showcased her good spatial awareness to know where her opponents were and to pass the ball off to teammates in space. Overall she had a really impressive game and paired well with Patrikios.

Geelong Falcons

#8 Paige Sheppard 

She was clean with ball in hand and ran hard across the ground providing support for her teammates. Sheppard was really clean and took a good mark to keep the ball in her attacking 50 and pepper the Falcons attacking end. She was really strong around the contest and laid some strong tackles credit to her intent to win the ball. She displayed her accuracy and beautiful kick with a pinpoint precision pass to a leading forward. Her hands were good under pressure taking a couple of strong marks and laid a big tackle to lock the ball in. Sheppard also nailed a goal to go with her handy contributions around the ground.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman was solid in defence applying plenty of pressure throughout the game and was a constant in defence taking some good grabs and reading the flight of the ball well. Her hands were exceptional under pressure taking a heap of marks and won plenty of the ball. She offered good run out of the back half and was clever with ball in hand.

#24 Mia Skinner

She reads the flight of the ball well and showed good awareness in the forward 50 to keep the ball moving into dangerous areas. Skinner had a good passage of play running through the middle of the ground to open up space and create a spark for the Falcons. She had clean hands on the up and was strong in the marking contest not afraid to stand under the ball and bring it down. She provided a good option up forward but was unable to capitalise in front of goal missing both shots. She worked hard across the ground laying some strong tackles and consistently fought hard in the air and on the ground to win the footy

#38 Lucy McEvoy

McEvoy led from the front the very first whistle getting involved in the contest. She was a tackling machine, laying crunching tackle after crunching tackle and showcasing her desperation and love for the fight. She once again showed composure with ball in hand, having time to look around and hit up a target. Her clean hands under pressure were very impressive and she imposed herself across the ground. She almost took a big fly getting hands to ball but just dropped it when she came down in the second term. In around the clearances McEvoy was solid going in hard to extract the ball and dish it out a passing teammate. She consistently got boot to ball cleanly and provided plenty of attack across the ground. She displayed her strong set of hands and read the play well to make sure she got into the right spots. Her on-field leadership was on show providing a calming figure in the dying minutes of the last term when the Cannons were coming hard, doing the little things well.

Eastern Ranges vs. Tasmania

By: Peter Williams

Eastern:

#21 Olivia Meagher

Meagher was a strong addition into the middle and won a number of clearances from stoppages. She is not afraid to take the game on and fended off a number of opponents throughout the game, or wrestled the ball back. She went a bit too far in the second term, breaking away from one but eventually got pinged for dropping the ball, but she was still very impressive.

#26 Tarni Brown

Using her strength at ground level, Brown won the ball back from her opponents when one-on-one and was providing an option when spreading to the wings or flanks at half-back. She used the ball fairly well and her long kick inside 50 put it to a contest for Tahlia Merrett to soccer home in the goal square in the first term. Had a couple of clearances from defensive stoppages, putting it on the outside of the boot. The first time she kicked it straight to the opposition but the second time got the ball clear. Had great movement out of the stoppages.

#39 Laura McClelland

Doing a lot of things that might go unnoticed on the stats sheet, but providing good defensive pressure and blocks, as well as laying tackles creating space for teammates. She has quick hands and was able to dispose of the ball quickly late in the second term to set up the goal to Serena Gibbs. McClelland came out in the second half with great determination, winning a clearance through a handball then laying a tackle. She locked the ball up a number of times with crunching tackles and was able to wind down the clock by causing repeat stoppages late. Had a really good last term for her intensity and determination.

#41 Tahlia Merrett

Kicked a great opportunistic goal in the first term, creating a contest at the top of the goal square then recovering well to soccer it home. Not a huge possession winner but laid a great tackle inside forward 50 in the final term and won a holding the ball free kick.

#46 Serena Gibbs

Had a terrific game with two majors in a low-scoring contest. Put her side in front with a quick snap around her body in the second term which proved vital, but had put together a strong first half. Won her fair share of the ball along the wing and pumped the ball inside 50 to give her teammates the best opportunity to score. Her tap work was also clean and she covered ground well. She continued her good work through the second half and scored the winning goal with a quick snap in a congested pack late in the match. Played good wet weather footy. Gibbs did have a mind blank that she could laugh about after the game, bombing it long from half-forward to half-back forgetting the direction they were kicking, in that third term.

Tasmania:

#4 Mia King

A clear talent in the Tasmanian team and will no doubt be a key member of the Eastern Allies again this year as she was last year. She has a long kick and had a couple of chances on goal with one falling short from an accurate kick hugged against the boundary, and a second from long range which missed to the left. King competes at ground level and has good strength, but is a natural ball winner as well. Stood out in the second half as well, using her long kicking and competitive nature to effect to keep her side in it. Had a lovely kick inside 50 to a teammate in the final term but the attempted mark was spoiled by a defender.

#6 Tahlia Bortigon

Bortigon had a number of impressive plays, showing good strength to get her hands on the ball at ground level then get them free from the would-be tackler and dispose of the ball to a teammate in space. She won an interesting free kick for a piggyback ride on Laura McClelland in defence, but her attitude showed how determined she was to win the ball back. Bortigon also showed good composure under pressure when hemmed in the back pocket.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Dandenong Stingrays:

#10 Abbey Jordan

Jordan played off the ball against Oakleigh, recording a season-high four tackles and accumulating lower numbers (seven disposals) than in previous rounds. She managed to record most of her disposals by foot (five) and proved reliable going inside 50 (three).

#12 Molly McDonald

Utilised well in the second half, McDonald’s attack on the footy cleared and rebounded well off half-back. She lifted her work in the third, brought clean hands to the ground ball and continually put boot to ball off the back-flanks into space. The first half was not her best work, but she picked up her intensity at the main break, recording most of her 13 disposals after the break.

#58 Georgia Howes

Howes was both dominant and strong in the ruck. She utilised her strengths in the stoppages, muscling out her direct opponent at the drop of the ball (15 hit-outs). Of her four disposals, she recorded two inside 50s and one rebound alongside two tackles.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

Lagioia injected speed and agility into Oakleigh’s midfield, taking the loose ball from traffic in a blink and looping out with many effective kicks downfield. She set her team off well, kicking a goal in the first. While unlucky not to have all her efforts rewarded, her eye through congestion often tipped the odds Oakleigh’s way. She worked hard getting to the next contest, showcasing a good tank and commitment to the play. Untouched around congestion, Lagioia glided with the ball and created space with pure class and silk; her footy sense and instinct turning almost any contest on its head.

#2 Mimi Hill

While less damaging than she has been in previous weeks, Hill still had an impact at the stoppages. She brought clean hands to the ball, contested well and delivered effectively by foot. She remains an important ball winner for Oakleigh despite playing a bit below her own standards.

#4 Emily Harley

A tried and proven contested ball winner, Harley did well through the midfield with a game and individual season-high 20 disposals. She took the ball well overhead in the backline, rebounded well up the ground and applied important defensive pressure in pivotal moments. Her kicking remained a feature, quickly putting boot to ball to find the player out the back – breaking lines, and once setting up a shot inside. All in all, a clever user and important ball winner in Oakleigh’s victory.

#8 Alana Porter

Porter brought great hands and acceleration to the stoppages, surging with the ball and clearing well. She found the board after impressing in a forward stoppage, side-stepping and ripping her way through Dandenong’s defence. Porter accumulated 15 touches the best for her season but did not rack up any marks and tackles for her efforts throughout the game. Despite this, she remained key on the contested ball, initiating and contributing well to linking plays.

#12 Amelia Peck

Held up well in the ruck and showcased her craft effectively against a stronger opponent, getting over the top in the centre bounce. Through the stoppages she struggled with body on body on contests, giving the edge to her opponent, though unlike Howes, Peck managed to see a lot more of the footy (10 disposals), as well as delivered well to her forwards (three inside 50s).

Gippsland Power vs. Greater Western Victoria Rebels

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Gippsland Power:

#8 Chandra Abrahams

Abrahams brought a great deal of defensive effort to the contest, proving to be a real thorn to the Rebels in the first half. In the first, she was rewarded for a chase down tackle heading toward goal and countlessly threw her body at the contest, tackling and smothering hard. A relentless defender with an enormous work rate.

#9 Maddison Shaw

Held up well in defence, bringing strong hands overhead and effective tackling. Shaw remained an important piece to Gippsland’s defensive efforts throughout the game trying to cover her opponent and win the ball at any chance she could. She showcased great acceleration out of traffic and played her footy with great intensity.

#27 Nikia Webber

The most important player in the Gippsland outfit, Webber accumulated plenty and moved well with ball in hand. She demonstrated great vision inside 50, power through the stoppage and brought strong hands to the contested ball. In the third, she willed her team back in the game with two amazing goals and outstanding work trapping the ball in their forward half, as well having many score involvements throughout the game.

#33 Shanara Notman

Notman rebounded well off half-back and intercepted well. Her height served her throughout, beating her direct opponents with versatility and clean ball use. A tried and proven kicker, Notman remained reliable in the backline when the game was on the line.

GWV Rebels:

#10 Ella Wood

Excelled with her clearance work, Wood brought great awareness and agility clearing the stoppage. In the dying minutes, she spun out of a tackle and broke free into space to help keep the game alive. She fought hard for the footy and moved well in traffic but was unlucky not to have her efforts rewarded at the end. She also recorded one goal for the day.

#24 Sophie Molan

With a classy element to her football, Molan seems to glide with the football of half-back. She finds space in traffic and sets her eyes to the next play, seeming unbeknownst to the pressure around her. Her kicking was a feature, breaking lines and quickly rebounding forward presses, as well putting one through the sticks. Molan was also the player tasked with a kick after the siren to tie the game, having pushed up the ground to trap the footy inside. While she was not successful on the kick, she was more than impressive throughout four quarters.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Northern Knights

By: Maddy Pieper

Bendigo Pioneers:

#1 Maeve Tupper

Tupper was a force through the midfield, continually fighting hard for the ball. She took some good contested marks for a smaller player, driving the ball forward and constantly trying to create opportunities inside 50.

#4 Brooke Hards

Hards showed off her footy smarts against the Knights, moving well through traffic and finding a lot of ball in the middle and around stoppages. Had a quiet patch in the third quarter, however had a never give up attitude and continuously tried her hardest in what was a frustrating game for the Pioneers.

Northern Knights:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Morris-Dalton did not put on her usual strong performance forward, unable to make an impact on the scoreboard with goals, but still had a strong presence up forward taking some good marks with clean hands. Did not let her game affect her playmaking, however as she continued to try hard and create opportunities for her teammates up forward.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie was another player who had a lot of the ball, playing a consistent game wherever she was on the field and was not rattled when she got a knock to the head during a strong tackle. Her ability to clear the ball and take strong marks made her a standout in this match, while her clever footwork came in useful around traffic, on multiple times sidestepping opponents to find space and move the ball forward.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht showcased her ability to break through tackles, leading by example in the midfield to create opportunities forward for the Knights. Was persistent through the middle of the ground, putting in the hard yards in both the defensive and forward 50 to clear the ball. Was rewarded for her efforts with a good kick at goal in the second quarter to take Northern’s tally to four goals at half-time.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton showcased her good game smarts in this matchup credit to her clean kicking inside 50 to Knights forwards, putting the ball to the advantage of her teammates and creating opportunities on goal. Worked well with Gutknecht in the midfield to gain possession and start the charge forward.

In the other game played on the weekend…

Murray Bushangers 5.6 (36) defeated Sandringham Dragons 1.11 (17)

Murray:

#7 Kate Adams – Booted a goal from seven tdisposals, one mark, three tackles and one inside 50.

#8 Abby Favell – Continued her good form this season with a game-high 23 disposals, three marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and one rebound.

#10 Sophie Locke – Laid five tackles to go with her 10 disposals and three marks, while also recording two rebounds.

#19 Millie Brown – Named best on ground for her 22 disposals, two marks, four tackles, two inside 50s and six rebounds working hard across the ground.

Sandringham:

#25 Sarah Hartwig – Equal highest disposal winner for the Dragons, taking two marks, laying five tackles and having a team-high five rebounds propelling her side out of defence.

#28 Alice Burke – Usually a prolific tackler, Burke worked more offensively with 16 disposals, one mark and two inside 50s.

#30 Winnie Laing – The inside midfielder had 13 touches, one mark, four tackles, two inside 50s and one rebound.

#33 Bella Eddey – The talented forward might not have hit the scoreboard, but registered 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two inside 50s.