Tag: Abigail Bennett

Capable Chaplin knows believing is achieving

HER coaches know it, her teammates know it, anyone who has observed her journey through the NAB League pathway knows it, but only now is Maeve Chaplin realising that she truly belongs among the best women’s football has to offer.

The Northern Knights defender has come a long way since starting football at age seven; originally playing alongside boys, then moving to girl’s sides at West Preston Lakeside and the Darebin Falcons, while also advancing through Northern’s elite talent program.

As a middle-ager, Chaplin was part of the Knights’ undefeated premiership team, shining across half-back with her mix of physicality and class on the ball. An injury in Round 3 of her top-age campaign was unideal, though it would matter little in the grand scheme of things as the season would eventually be scrapped amid a global pandemic.

By her own estimation, Chaplin was “travelling pretty well” and was as fit as she had ever been. She was in the midst of a move into the midfield, joining co-captains Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald at the centre bounces and waxing well with the probable first-round draft talents.

While the 18-year-old and her teammates may have had plenty more to give in 2020, Chaplin says the break in play has allowed her to work on the mental side of her game.

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

“I just wish I did believe in myself… but it’s something that I really want to work on and I have been working on throughout this isolation period. Just knowing mentally that I am good enough and I can get to that next level, it’s just all about pushing myself.”

The friendship of a Knight-turned-Bulldog who has also been part of the Darebin football family, Nell Morris-Dalton has helped Chaplin thrive. Chaplin says she has remained in constant contact with her former teammate throughout the lockdown period.

“A big (mentor) for me has definitely been Nell,” she said. She’s really helped, inspired, and guided me a lot throughout the season because we’ve got the same personality in a way. “I’ve been texting her quite a bit during isolation so she’s a really good friend.

“It’s pretty amazing to play with (the Northern Knights), they’re all so talented. “You really grow off each other and challenge each other, so it helps everyone get better at the end of the day. “Playing with them, you don’t really think about how good they are, they’re just more your friends.”

Maeve Chaplin moves through traffic

Northern’s cohesive team and a family-like atmosphere has certainly played a part in Chaplin’s rise. The aforementioned midfield move was one bought on by coach Marcus Abney-Hastings and talent manager Nat Grindal, allowing Chaplin to bring her defensive nous to a rather potent midfield group.

She says the move was somewhat of a natural progression from the defensive post she owned throughout 2019, though she still harbours hope of returning to half-back in future.

“It was kind of expected,” she said. “Nat and Marcus let me know that they were going to put me up into the midfield and get me a bit more of the ball which was good to have.

“I definitely brought some of my defensive traits into the midfield, using my bodywork, so that was a bonus. “I felt like in doing that, I helped Ellie and Jess play their best footy as well. “It was definitely a good move up the ground, it was fun.

“I would prefer to play on the half-back flank (at AFLW level) but playing in the midfield does come naturally to me just as much as the backline. “But I’ll obviously put my best effort in playing there and it’d be a really good opportunity.”

The versatile prospect, who models her game on Richmond defender Phoebe Monahan, has not only improved herself off-field, but has reaffirmed some of the improvements to be made through contact with AFLW clubs. While “feeding off” their directive, Chaplin has also put the onus back on the recruiters and coaches during their meetings.

“They have given me some things that I need to work on, or they’ve mentioned them and I’ve fed off them a little bit,” she said. “But I’ve been more self-directing, I’ve just told them what I feel like I need to work on and ask them how they’re going to support me and all that kind of stuff.”

“Obviously there’s a few things (to improve on). My aerobic endurance I definitely want to work on, I want to be the fittest that I can be because that was definitely me at the start of the year. “With the right support staff I can definitely get to that level again and even better than that.

“A few other things that I really want to work on are just my mentality, that’s a big thing for me. Just knowing that I am at that level physically to play, and getting myself there mentally as well.”

Outside of football, Chaplin is working through her Year 12 studies and hopes to move into either nursing or paramedicine next year. She sought to thank all the people at the Northern Knights for all the support and life lessons she has received from them, as well as her teammates Fitzgerald, McKenzie, Alyssa Bannan, Ash Snow, and Abigail Bennett.

“They’re all just really good teammates, I really love them.”

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Northern Knights

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 the Northern Knights, who have made an unblemished start to their premiership defence with wins over Calder, Geelong, and Dandenong on home turf.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: defeated Calder Cannons by 6 points
R2: defeated Geelong Falcons by 25 points
R3: defeated Dandenong Stingrays by 23 points

The 3-0 record may look ominous along with the average winning margin of 18 points, but the Knights were made to earn each of their first three victories. First up was a grand final rematch against the Calder, who looked the most direct threat to Northern’s flag defence. After holding the Cannons at bay, long-time closest rival Geelong was up next, but the Falcons hardly got close with just one goal on the board. Arguably the biggest test of Northern’s character came against another finals threat, Dandenong, where the Knights fought back from two goals down to win with a five-goal second half.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Jess Fitzgerald (18.7 disposals, 1.3 marks, 3.7 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 2.7 inside 50s, 2 goals)

Coach Marcus Abney-Hastings described Fitzgerald as his side’s most important player after last year’s grand final, and she is proving as much in her top-age season as one of the competition’s most well-rounded prospects. The Knights co-captain has stood up at critical times across all three testing games thus far, showcasing the ability to generate run while also digging in hard at the contest. Fitzgerald’s standout game came against Dandenong, where she collected 28 disposals and booted two goals.

Ellie McKenzie (19 disposals, 5 marks, 2.3 tackles, 4.7 inside 50s, 1 goal)

Arguably the front-runner to be taken first off the board come draft time at this early stage, McKenzie has lived up to the hype generated by her under-age seasons. Leading the Knights for disposals and inside 50s as it stands, the dynamic left footer showcased her ability to tear games apart when she combined with co-captain Fitzgerald to drag Northern over the line against Dandenong. As a more permanent midfield fixture, her goals from further afield have become all the more valuable. She currently leads the Draft Central Medal standings alongside Tyanna Smith.

Alyssa Bannan (14.3 disposals, 5.7 marks, 3.3 tackles, 2.3 inside 50s, 9 goals)

Another out-and-out gun along the spine of this Northern side is Bannan, who has thrived as the primary key forward in her top-age season. Leading the competition for goals (nine) and marks (17), Bannan is equally damaging at ground level with her searing pace as she is in the air with her height. A five-goal effort against Calder in Round 1 got the ball rolling, with the 177cm prospect bagging consecutive hauls of two over the next fortnight. Could well be the new key forward prototype.

Maeve Chaplin (11.7 disposals, 1 mark, 2.3 tackles, 1.3 rebound 50s, 1.3 inside 50s)

After impressing as an effective two-way defender in her middle-age year, Chaplin has transitioned into a midfield ace this season credit to her ability to find the ball and use it cleanly. Discounting her three disposals against Dandenong, Chaplin had consecutive 16-touch efforts to open the campaign, showing virtually identical numbers in a typical mark to her consistency. With game winners around her in midfield, Chaplin has proven to be the reliable rock who can perform an important role each week.

Ashleigh Snow (15.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 3.3 inside 50s)

Another who has featured prominently in the Northern lineup over the past couple of seasons is Snow, who has stepped up her ball winning numbers in 2020. Averaging over 15 disposals per game, the nuggety utility continues to go hard at the ball an inspire her side in transition, pushing further afield to penetrate the forward 50 arc after being used in more defensive roles previously. Despite her 158cm standing, Snow is not one to be overlooked and holds her own in the contest.

Others who have stood out: Georgia Kitchell, Tarrah Delgado, Abigail Bennett, Maykaylah Appleby

There are a number of players who can stake their claim here, starting with dominant ruck Kitchell, who has handily won the hitout battle in each of Northern’s three games. Able to follow up at ground level, the middle-ager’s tackle average of five is impressive given her 180cm frame. Another middle-age tall, Delgado has also impressed with her calm work down back, while hard-edged outside movers Bennett and Appleby continue to provide that bit of spark. Bennett, an experienced top-ager, also leads the competition for tackles with 24 over her three games.

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)

Knights remain undefeated with 25-point win over Falcons

THE Northern Knights flexed their muscles in a see-sawing affair at RMIT University claiming a 25-point win over the Geelong Falcons on Saturday, 5.8 (38) to 1.7 (13) to remain undefeated since their 2018 Grand Final loss to the Falcons.  For the first half it looked as if it was going to be an even matchup with every score being kicked to the left side of the field in the first three quarters. But Northern was too good in the end for Geelong, having more potent options up forward in the form of Alyssa Bannan who was great for a second week in a row, kicking two goals against the Falcons.

Northern Knights kicked a goal in the first and last minute of the opening quarter handing them a 16-point lead at quarter time. Northern Knights’ Grace Wake and Tarrah Delgado were invincible down back, stopping numerous Falcons forward attacks, being a major reason why they kept the Falcons scoreless in the first term. The second term was then owned by the Falcons, they dominated the possession and had five scoring shots to zero, though they were only able to register one goal and three behinds in a wasted opportunity to fly past the Knights heading into the main break. The Falcons’ only goal of the game was scored through a goal line soccer goal by Ingrid Houtsma early in the term.

The third term was when the Knights’ class started rising above, with Abigail Bennett and Ellie McKenzie both starring in the midfield and Bannan being dominant up forward, slotting her second along with Michaela Molenberg getting on the scoreboard. In the fourth term the Northern Knights managed to maintain their lead without conceding a goal for the second consecutive quarter. The sole goal of the quarter came due to some more Bannan brilliance with a great mark while also having enough composure to hit up Brooke Plummer in the pocket for a routine shot on goal. McKenzie amassed plenty of the ball in the final term and was able to easily dispose of opponents at will. Geelong’s Taiya Morrow had her work cut out for her down back with the sheer number of Knights forward entries, although she was well up to the task with numerous intercept marks and release kicks being a shining light late for the Falcons. 

Among the Knights’ best down back was Delgado (14 disposals, five rebounds, four marks) who took numerous intercept marks and had the ball on a string in the second term. She has an effective kick for a key position player and is trusted with taking the kick-ins for the Knights. Wake (13 disposals, five tackles, two rebounds) was also immense down back with her tackling pressure causing headaches for the Geelong forwards, whilst up the other end, Geelong’s Annie Lee had a game-high seven rebounds to go with 18 disposals and five marks. Bennett (12 tackles, 10 touches), McKenzie (17 disposals, five marks) and Ashleigh Snow (18 disposals, four inside 50s) were all dominant in the midfield for the Knights. They all accumulated plenty of the ball while also being a class above the Falcons midfield. The main focal point for the Knights up forward was Bannan who was a threat on the ground and in the air, kicking two goals and collecting 14 touches. Geelong’s Morrow was superb down back for the Falcons propelling attacks from defence for Geelong, while Carly Remmos (16 disposals, eight tackles) worked tirelessly all day in the midfield. Laura Gardiner hit the 30-disposal mark for the second week in a row, collecting  31 touches to go with her nine tackles and five inside 50s, while Darcy Moloney (25 disposals, two marks and two inside 50s) put in a tough effort in a match with little return.

Next week the Northern Knights will play at RMIT University once again next Saturday, this time hosting the Dandenong Stingrays at 11am. Geelong’s next game is in a fortnight’s time against the Bendigo Pioneers at Deakin University at 1:30pm. 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.4 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.8 (38)
GEELONG FALCONS 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 1.7 (13)

GOALS

Northern: A. Bannan 2, B. Plummer, T. Mills, M. Molenberg.
Geelong: I. Houtsma.

BEST

Northern: E. McKenzie, A. Bannan, T. Delgado, A. Lee, G. Wake
Geelong: L. Gardiner, A. Lee, D. Moloney, C. Remmos, T. Morrow

DC Medal:

5: Ellie McKenzie (NK)
4: Alyssa Bannan (NK)
3: Laura Gardiner (GF)
2: Tarrah Delgado (NK)
1: Annie Lee (GF)

Knights seek sustained success after bumper draft

AN undefeated premiership-winning NAB League Girls season, the number one AFL Women’s draft pick, and five players taken overall made for an amazingly successful year in 2019, but the future is still very bright at the Northern Knights according to incoming Female Talent Coordinator, Natalie Grindal.

There is not much more the Knights could have achieved last year in as dominant a season the competition has seen, all despite the list being touted by former Female Talent Coordinator Zoe Slatter for its upcoming youth in the pre-season. Along with the five Northern draftees, three more 2019 top-agers have gone on to train with Carlton at VFLW level, while five middle and bottom-age players are now part of the 2020 AFL Women’s Academy – highlighting the younger talent Slatter was high on.

Grindal acknowledged the success of last year and while she is tapering expectations given the turnover of talent, said she is excited by what the next group of talent can bring to the table, and impressed by the way they have stepped up over the pre-season.

“Obviously for us, a measure of our success is what players go on to do afterwards whether it’s AFLW or VFLW… to be honest it’s really overwhelming to know that you’ve played a part in their journey to help them get to an AFL level,” Grindal said “I was lucky enough last week to go watch Gabby Newton (and) Sarah Sansonetti debut, and Maddy Brancatisano from the year before, so it’s really exciting that those girls have gone through this pathway and onto AFLW. “We were lucky to have a really successful season last year. “Obviously the nature of the competition is each year is a new year with the turnover of teams and players, so it’s really exciting that we had a really good year but each year is a new year for us.”

“We had some really quality players, but also quality leaders leave our program last year so I guess for our girls the challenge has been to step up to that next level and really take on those leadership opportunities and drive the standards for the girls who are new to our club as well. “I guess that’s been the really pleasing aspect for us, that the girls who were in their middle-age year last year and were playing under players like Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht and Sarah Sansonetti, they’ve now lifted up to that standard and are now driving the standards for the club. “I think we’ll probably end up having probably 11 or 12 top-age girls… this top-age group were actually quite a strong bottom-age group in 2018, so it’s been really exciting to see their progression through their bottom-age, having their middle-age year last year and now into their top-age year so we’re really excited,” she said.

Coming through a “really good” pre-season unscathed and maintaining positive individual development are two points checked off the list for Grindal and her Knights thus far, with her transition into a the coordinator’s chair made easier through previous connections to the Preston-based program, and a new partnership with RMIT University.

“It’s been really exciting,” Grindal said. “Obviously I was really lucky being involved at the club (over) the last two years so I guess for me transition-wise, I knew a lot of the players, I knew most of the staff and also having existing relationships with Rhy (Gieschen, Talent Manager) and Alex (Davey, Football Administration Officer) in the office, it’s made my transition quite enjoyable, but also a bit easier knowing those people. “We’ve started the partnership with RMIT so have been using the ground out there which is in incredible condition. “That’s been really exciting and we’ll play our first four games there which is really good.”

Despite boasting a couple of early standouts in Ellie McKenzie – the sister of former North Melbourne rookie, Tom – and best afield in the 2019 NAB League Grand Final, Jess Fitzgerald, the Knights are set to maintain that well-renowned spine and a good spread of top-age contributors.

“I still think we’ve got quite a handful of top-age players who will be strong contributors to the team,” Grindal said. “Girls like Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald are spoken about a lot and they are exceptional footballers, but we’ve got other girls as well – Maeve Chaplin, Alyssa Bannan, those girls are in the AFLW Academy and who are incredible footballers. “Players like Abigail Bennett and Ashleigh Snow are really strong contributors as well and we’re excited about seeing how they progress through their top-age year this year.

“The one thing we tell our girls and we expect of them is to be willing to try different positions in the field and see where their strengths lie. “I think for us we still have a spread across the field for our top-agers, but again they’ll be challenged to try different positions and take on different opportunities within the team,” she said.

While players will be tested in their final years of junior development, Grindal says there will be no “dramatic changes” to the line-up from week to week, with a Round 1 Grand Final rematch against Calder next on the agenda after two successful practice matches.

“(It’s) really exciting to have a grand final rematch at RMIT, we’re really excited to host that match and have Calder come down,” she said. “As I said before, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the season, we had a fantastic match with them in the Grand Final and we’re excited about playing them again.”

An announcement on the leadership group is also imminent, with a heap of talent again at the Knights’ disposal and a “strong culture” with clear standards ensuring Northern is set for another big year – in both team and individual aspects.

NAB League Girls Round 6 preview: The race for finals spots heats up

A BUMPER weekend of NAB League girls football will have onlookers having to choose which games to keep an eye on, with fixtures spread across the state in the 12:45pm timeslot on both Saturday and Sunday. In arguably the game of the round, Bendigo hosts Dandenong for an outcome crucial to their finals aspirations, while some sides will suffer from forced changes on the back of AFL Academy games.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 6 – 13/04/2019
12:45pm
Garfield Football Ground

A late fixture change sees Northern Knights travel to Garfield to meet Gippsland Power and open Round 6. After a minor hiccup in the form of a draw against Oakleigh in Round 2, the Knights have hit form once again and rolled on to three-consecutive wins. The travelling side’s depth will be tested though as four of their star players come out of the side due to Academy commitments, but the likes of Jess Fitzgerald and Abigail Bennett should thrive of an extended run in the midfield and deliver well to perennial forward target Nell Morris-Dalton. It has been a much different season for Gippsland, still searching for its first win in season 2019 and coming off a 62-point thumping at the hands of Bendigo. Still, developing talents in the form of Nikia Webber and Chandra Abrahams amongst others continue to show promise in a tough year and should have a good opportunity to shine this week.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 6 – 13/04/2019
12:45pm
Warrawee Park – Oakleigh

Both the Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers will be hoping to bounce back from Round 5 losses when they do battle on the metro side’s home turf. After toppling a dangerous Calder side, Oakleigh were upset last week as Sandringham notched its first win for the year, while Murray has suffered consecutive defeats after a big wins over Western and Gippsland in Rounds 2 and 3. With wins on the board for both sides, this will be a tough ask for Oakleigh as it looks to charge back into a top four spot – and can do so if other results go its way. Murray hang on the other side of that chasing pack, and will look to the likes of Millie Brown and Abby Favell to regain their form, while Sophia McCarthy is set to back up her three-goal Round 5 haul. For Oakleigh, Mimi Hill was electric last week, and will be a key player again with Gemma Lagioia one who can build on her Round 5 performance and Alana Porter another in good form. While it will prove a test for the home side, the Charger will be confident of bouncing back onto the winners list here.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve – Bendigo

Bendigo Pioneers faces an uphill battle in its push for a finals berth, faced with a Dandenong Stingrays side also poised on 12 premiership points. The Stingrays went down narrowly to the dominant Geelong Falcons last time out, but certainly showed their credentials as a genuine premiership contender with an eye-catching first half. The Pioneers are also staking their claim with three wins from their last four outings, headlined by a standout 62-point drubbing of Gippsland last week. With the sides poised evenly and the race for finals spots heating up, this is shaping to be the game of the round. Brooke Vernon and Zoe Hill have been consistent features for Dandenong thus far, and will have to stand up with Academy prospects Isabella Shannon, Molly McDonald and Tyanna Smith all out this week. The Pioneers managed to keep a relatively steady lineup, with Elizabeth Snell coming off a five-goal haul and Brooke Hards their key ball winner, while Kate Douglass has been immense down back. It will be a good opportunity for Bendigo to prove themselves further, with the home ground advantage in tow.

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Bayswater Football Ground

Another exciting match-up with finals ramifications is set to take place on Sunday, with Eastern Ranges playing host to Calder Cannons in Bayswater. Both sides experienced losses over the last couple of weeks, with Calder falling to Oakleigh in Round 4 and Eastern going down to Northern last week. With Calder currently holding the edge over their weekend opponents on four wins as opposed to three, this will prove to be a classic ‘eight-pointer’ in the race for a top four spot. Tarni Brown remains in a weakened Ranges side on the back of Academy selections, with Tess Flintoff another who has recently benefitted from the ruckwork of Serena Gibbs. While Calder faces a similar situation with the loss of Georgia Patrikios, Georgie Prespakis remains alongside Alana Barba in a tight-knit midfield. With plenty on the line, expect these sides to throw everything but the kitchen sink at getting a result here, with either team capable of kicking big scores.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

A second win is up for grabs for both Greater Western Victoria and Sandringham Dragons as they do battle in Ballarat on Sunday. The Rebels have not quite been able to recapture the form that earned them a Round 1 win over Bendigo, since falling in every game coming into this clash on the back of an upset loss to Western. Conversely, the Dragons look to finally be playing themselves into some form after knocking off Oakleigh last week for their first win of the season. Rebels midfield ace Ella Wood will be important in the engine room alongside Chloe Leonard, with Sophie Molan out of the side, while Sandringham will look to Winnie Laing to shoulder most of the midfield load as Alice Burke goes out. With the form of either side differing at this point of the season despite their identical record, the Dragons will be confident of making it two-straight in a tight tussle.

WESTERN JETS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Downer Oval – Williamstown

In the round’s last listed fixture, Western Jets faces a tall order in building on last week’s winning effort, as a meeting with the undefeated reigning premiers awaits. The Falcons found themselves behind for the first time in a long time last week against the Stingrays, but rallied in the second half to keep their perfect record in tact. Western will be hoping for more of the same in that respect, as the Jets looked the best they have all year in Round 5 as it overcame GWV for win number one. They will have to do so without the prolific Isabella Grant, leaving a heap of heavy lifting for fellow midfielder Elisabeth Georgostathis. In a testament to their depth, the Falcons will only be without skipper Lucy McEvoy due to Academy duties, with the likes of Luka Lesosky-Hay, Paige Sheppard, and Darcy Moloney able to fill the void in midfield. With the Falcons’ forward line clicking into gear, their defence sturdy as ever, and everything in between up to scratch, it is always hard to look past the undefeated unit in any game.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 4

IT was a big Round 4 of NAB League Girls action with some of the key players really dominating across the ground. We managed to get to three games across the weekend with notes taken on some of the players outlined by respective Female Talent Managers in the pre-season. All notes are opinions based on the writer.

Northern Knights 5.6 (36) defeated Sandringham Dragons 2.3 (15)
By: Michael Alvaro

Sandringham:
#25 Sarah Hartwig

Employed at both ends of the ground, Hartwig showed strong hands overhead in either role, but fell a little short by foot up forward in the tough conditions. A promising prospect, Hartwig has plenty of time to work on that, as well as her strengths. With two intercept marks in the third term in defence, marking is clearly one of them.

#28 Alice Burke
Burke was one of Sandringham’s key ball winners, digging the ball out from stoppages all day. While breaking away proved tough for most at the stoppages, the Dragons midfielder improvised well at times with kicks off the ground to move forward and won a couple of nice clearances – the most notable coming in the second term.

#30 Winnie Laing
Arguably the Dragons’ best, Laing was combative against stiff competition in the Knights’ midfield and showed a willingness for repeat efforts. Snaring the ball at ground level, Laing often threw the ball onto her boot and pushed her side inside 50 of a couple of occasions on the back of breaking tackles. A mainstay in the midfield, Laing can hold her head up despite a tough loss.

#42 Margie Purcell
Positioned on the outside, Purcell took time to get her running game going but was effective late on as the Dragons scrapped to keep the margin tight. A missed chance in the first quarter could have otherwise provided a nice start to the game, but Purcell was not deterred and tried taking the game on with twists and turns through traffic.

Northern:
#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

A constant up forward, Morris-Dalton built into the game slowly. She read the ball better than three Sandringham defenders to run onto a dropped high ball and slot her first major from the goalsquare, while later claiming one over the back in the third term to finish with two goals in a strong performance.

#6 Alyssa Bannan
Employed on the outside and moving forward well, Bannan continues to be a key Knights ball carrier. A nice pick up and shrug of her opponent was a particular highlight, but she missed the resultant shot on goal in the first term.

#7 Abigail Bennett
Bennett was another good forward mover alongside Bannan, providing a key link between the wing and forward 50. Her clean hands were a particular feature throughout the day, with her running game proving damaging as she found space at will. Bennett’s mark under a high defensive clearance in the second term was most impressive, as was her clean break and kick to Ellie McKenzie inside 50.

#14 Jessica Fitzgerald
Another good runner from midfield, Fitzgerald drove the Knights forward as one of the only players who effectively broke away from traffic. She kept her hands up and flicked the ball out well in tackles when caught, and bar two misses from gettable chances on the run in the first half, put in a solid shift as part of the Northern engine room rotation.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti
While she did not have too much to do in her key post down back, Sansonetti was a solid part of the sturdy Knights defence. Entrusted with kick-outs, she made good decisions with and without ball in hand – including a calm spoil for a rushed behind when one-on-one deep in defence during the third term.

#21 Ellie McKenzie
The versatile middle-ager was again terrific, looking dangerous inside forward 50 throughout the game. While she found limited opportunities early on while playing out of the goalsquare, McKenzie was competitive at the forward stoppages and came into the game that way. Her highlights included moving cleanly around an opponent to then provide Jess Fitzgerald with a shot at goal, as well as her clean hands and a holding the ball tackle in the final term to give Britney Gutknecht a chance inside 50.

#22 Britney Gutknecht
Another who can trade forward duties for the midfield, Gutknecht hunted the ball well through the middle and was often the best reader of taps. Breaking away was a tougher task, but her tackling and intent around the stoppages gave her a real presence. Moving deep forward in the second half, Gutknecht slotted a set shot goal in the third term and was unlucky not to add to it later on as she looked lively inside 50.

#23 Gabby Newton
Newton again lead the way for the Knights, finding a good amount of the ball through midfield and showing her undeniable class. While the damage on her disposal was not as obvious as usual in tough conditions, Newton’s superior vision and reading of the game was a feature. She took advantage of a 50 metre penalty to gift Gutknecht a goal in the third term, and took a nice intercept mark in defence early on.

Western Jets 0.3 (3) defeated by Eastern Ranges 7.4 (46)
By: Taylah Melki

Eastern 
#21 Olivia Meagher:
Meagher proved that she was a real hard nut throughout the course of the game. She was not afraid to get in and under at the contest and bodied up well against her opponent consistently. She showcased her clean hands with a good pick up in the opening term and used her long booming kick to bomb into the forward 50. She won plenty of the ball in the first term, working hard at the stoppages. Meagher displayed her ability to run both ways working hard in both offense and defence. Out of the centre she was really clean dishing off clever handballs to passing teammates. She worked tirelessly at the stoppages to win the ball and run through the middle of the ground and kick it forward. Meagher kicked a good crumbing goal in the dying seconds of the last quarter to well and truly seal the deal for the Ranges.

#26 Tarni Brown:
She had a relatively quiet game by her standards but when she won the ball she used it well and made her presence felt across the ground. She impressed in one passage of play with a beautiful pick up off the ground in the first quarter and vision to use the ball well. She showcased her clean hands in close and highlighter her good turn of speed to break away from the pack and push the ball forward for Eastern. She applied good pressure in the middle of the ground to worry her opponents out of the ball and laid a good strong tackle in the third term. Brown worked hard in transition across the ground and showed a good burst through the centre going for a bounce and opening up the forward 50 but got wrapped up in a good tackle before she could dispose of the ball.  

#39 Laura McClelland:
McClelland ran hard across the ground with good follow up work and helped her teammates out providing support play numerous times throughout the game. She had good hands under pressure taking a strong contested mark. She applied a good strong attack on the footy and impressed with a clean pick up given the soggy conditions. McClelland was not afraid to put her body on the line to win the footy, impacting the contest and working hard to try and bring the ball to ground. To go with her handy touches around the ground she impressed in front of the big sticks kicking two majors.

#46 Serena Gibbs:
Gibbs was strong in the ruck, reading the flight of the ball well and getting hands to ball with ease. She was able to win the taps and knock it to her teammates advantage creating space across the ground. She consistently impacted the contest and if she could not take the mark worked hard to bring the call to ground and provide a scrumming opportunity for her teammates. She proved to be handy in front of goals as well nailing two majors

Western
#13 Isabella Grant:
Grant was clean at the stoppages and got into some strong positions across the ground to provide some link up play. Laid a really strong smother in the second quarter but was unable to finish off the play. She did well to keep the arms free in the tackle and dish off a handball to teammates and showcased her ability to read the flight of the ball and took a strong mark throughout the course of the game. Grant applied plenty of physical pressure with some big tackles to bring down her opponents, leading the way for her side.

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis: 
Down on her average output Georgostathis was still solid when she did win the ball. She was strong around the contest going in hard to win the ground ball and ran hard to make space. She was clever with ball in hand, showed good spatial awareness and worked hard to try and set up attacking play for the Jets. Displayed good run and bounce through the middle of the ground in the second quarter then used her strong kick to set up an attacking thrust for the Jets. She managed to keep her arms free and get boot to ball when tackled and laid a strong tackle that got her a holding the ball call proving her hunt for the ball. She sent a scare through the camp coming off in the last quarter with a possible arm injury.

#25 Cleo Saxon-Jones:
She read the flight of the ball well, was good under pressure and attacked the footy hard. Saxon-Jones used her strong hands to take a few contested marks and worked hard around the contest to try and extract the ball. She made her presence felt with a few good strong bumps, good quick hands but seemed to hurt her shoulder in the last quarter coming from the ground.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels 0.5 (5) defeated by Geelong Falcons 4.17 (41)
By: Cameron Ross

GWV:
#9 Renee Saultis
Quiet game from Saultis, but was more effective than her stats suggest. Played in a forward line that saw only 1-2 inside 50s in a half of football, which needs to be taken into account.

#24 Sophie Molan
Another game from Molan where she tried desperately hard to get her side over the line. Highlight of the day was her chase down tackle in the final quarter when the game was all but won. Sums her up as a player, ultra competitive, willing to do the team thing, and a terrific leader.

#32 Isabella Simmons
Simmons is extremely raw. You can see the underlying talent and athleticism, but her game awareness still has question marks. Can’t wait to see her break open a game one day, but will need more footy experience to do so. She did some nice things against the Falcons without being outstanding.

Ella Wood
Missed this game with a thumb injury, and her absence was sorely felt. Wood might be just about my favourite player in the NAB League Girls, due to her ferocity at the ball, and ability to win contested possessions on her own. Coach Rhys Cahir said “Ella was 50-50 this week, but the physios thought it best she sits out this one”. Let’s hope for the Rebels sake she’s back next week!

Geelong:
#8 Paige Sheppard
Dangerous and intelligent forward. Really liked her playing as a high half forward, as she is a beautiful kick, and was able to get into some space for a shot at goal. Great awareness, not a lot of players at this level have the vision to bring the ball back inside, and at a huge ground like City Oval, you can’t continually kick down the wings. The option was there, she took it, and broke the Rebels open.

#18 Darcy Moloney
Not quite sure where she was playing. I thought she was playing as a second forward, as she was up forward and got herself a goal, but then I saw her dashing off half back rebounding the ball a couple of times too! Either way, she’s versatile and proved that she can play at both ends.

#38 Lucy McEvoy
Had the ball on a string and was absolutely dominant. She was too strong, too physical and her aggressiveness was really important in the tough Ballarat conditions. McEvoy vs Molan was always going to be interesting, as they are both quite similar players, but McEvoy took the points on this occasion.

#39 Renee Tierney
Tackle machine. Played a really good in an under game at half forward. Unlucky not too kick a couple of goals, and in better conditions she just might have. Great four quarter performance.

In other games, here’s how some of the top performers stood tall:

Murray Bushrangers 1.3 (9) defeated by Bendigo Pioneers 3.5 (23)

Murray:

#7 Kate Adams – 15 disposals, three marks, five tackles, one inside 50, one rebound
#8 Abby Favell – 22 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, three inside 50s, two rebounds
#10 Sophie Locke – 12 disposals, three marks, six tackles, one rebound
#19 Millie Brown – 27 disposals, two marks, one tackle, one inside 50, six rebounds

Bendigo:

#4 Brooke Hards – 17 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s, three rebounds, 11 tackles
#14 Annabel Strahan – 20 disposals, seven tackles, five inside 50s, two rebounds, one goal
#19 Jemma Finning – 15 disposals, one mark, three tackles, one inside 50, one rebound
#44 Jordyn Jolliffe – 13 disposals, one mark, three tackles, 1.3

Gippsland Power 4.2 (26) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 6.12 (48)

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams – 16 disposals, one mark, five tackles, six inside 50s, one rebound
#9 Maddison Shaw – 17 disposals, one mark, four tackles, one inside 50, six rebounds
#12 Megan Fitzsimon – 26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six inside 50s, five rebounds

Dandenong:

#10 Abbey Jordan – 12 disposals, two tackles, four inside 50s, two rebounds,
#12 Molly McDonald – 11 disposals, one mark, two tackles, two inside 50s, one rebound, 0.3
#26 Isabella Shannon – 17 disposals, one mark, two tackles, four inside 50s, one rebound, 0.2
#28 Tyanna Smith – 15 disposals, two marks, one tackle, seven inside 50s, one goal
#31 Brooke Vernon – 13 disposals, one tackle, two inside 50s, two rebounds

Calder Cannons 5.4 (34) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 7.2 (44)

Calder:

#11 Alana Barba – 12 disposals, one mark, two tackles, three inside 50s, one rebound
#21 Georgia Patrikios – 13 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four inside 50s, two rebounds, 0.1
#31 Krstel Petrevski – Six disposals, three tackles, one goal

Oakleigh:

#1 Gemma Lagioia – 21 disposals, two marks, one inside 50, one rebound, one goal
#2 Mimi Hill – 17 disposals, three marks, three tackles, three inside 50s, one rebound
#4 Emily Harley – 14 disposals, five marks, two tackles, one inside 50, two rebounds
#8 Alana Porter – Nine disposals, one mark, five tackles, two inside 50s, one rebound

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 1

IN the opening round of the NAB League Girls season, our writers took a look at all six games and some of the players that the respective Female Talent Managers regarded as ones to watch throughout the season. All notes are opinion-based on the individual writer.

Calder Cannons vs. Western Jets


Calder:

By: Peter Williams

#2 Felicity Theodore

The small midfielder with good pace continually cracked in hard throughout the game. Her hard effort was best exemplified by her mark in the third term, going back with the flight with pressure coming from behind. She showed good core strength and smarts at times to keep the ball in front of her, whether by paddling along the ground, or getting it to a teammate in a better position. She showed clean hands throughout the contest and won a fair chunk of the ball early in the final term, perhaps the next step is more penetration on kicks. Overall a hardworking performance.

#11 Alana Barba

Had a few nice plays with a quick handball off the deck to Makeisha Muller in the second term to create a scoring opportunity, as well as a good kick to a teammate’s advance. In the final quarter, Barba created some run off half-back and cleanly handballed to Theodore.

#22 Makeisha Muller

Muller made things happen up forward, and while she hit and miss when going for goal – rushed at times – she had some eye-opening moments. After missing a snap on goal in the second term, Muller had another chance moments later with a shot sailing through using the breeze perfectly. She continued to present throughout the contest and almost had another goal but it was rushed across the line by an opponent.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

The standout best on ground, it is hard to believe Prespakis is yet to turn 16 years of age. Much like her sister Madison, some of the things she does cannot be ignored. The way she positions herself at stoppages and moves through traffic is a highlight and she has a booming kick that is used to put opposition defenders under pressure by putting it deep inside 50. Prespakis moves well and has good composure and made what was one of the goals of the day look simple. She won the ball, turned, shrugged off an opponent and snapped one home. She is a natural kick of the football and also worked back defensively to take an uncontested mark in defence later in the game. Prespakis had a chance for a second goal but missed to the left.

Western:

By: Taylah Melki

#13 Isabella Grant

Beautiful evasive skills to work her way through traffic and kick a goal in the first quarter. She broke a few tackles throughout the game and showed good spatial awareness. Grant ran hard both offensively and defensively and contested well both in the air and at ground level to win the ball back for her side. Had a really good passage of play where she worked her player inside and out to shrug off a tackle and try and kick to a teammate highlighting her impressive footy IQ.

# 17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

Georgostathis impressed with her speed and ability to opens up space across the ground. She provided plenty of good forward momentum with her clever use of the ball to hit up teammates cleanly. She showcased her good evasive skills, sidestepping opponents with ease and was calm solid under pressure highlighting her ability to think her way through tricky situations. The midfielder got her hands to plenty of the ball, proving how deadly she can be with ball in hand. She was really good in the contest and displayed her footy smarts throughout the game with her clever kicks to her teammates advantage. Georgostathis was not afraid to break out of packs, extracted the ball cleanly from congestion, read the play well and constantly got involved in the passage of play. She hunted both the ball and player throughout the game, laid good strong tackles. In the final term of the match she took an impressive contested mark against two opponents, proving to be a real playmaker for her side credit to her skill and commitment.

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

Pritchard went in hard for the ball all game and worked tirelessly at the contest. She had quick hands, was good in close, and used her strong kick to try and clear congestion. At times, she could improve her composure, but she had moments of brilliance especially in the last quarter where she laid a goal saving tackle, lunging to stop her Calder Cannons opponent from scoring. Pritchard applied good defensive pressure throughout the match.

#25 Cleo Saxon-Jones

She took a good strong mark in the first quarter and used her long booming kick to help set up play in the forward half on more than one occasion. Saxon-Jones provided a good option in the attacking 50, contested hard to win the footy both in the air and on the ground and cleared the ball well throughout the course of the game.

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels

Bendigo:

By: Peter Williams

#4 Brooke Hards

One of Bendigo’s best, Hards did not take a backwards step. Occasionally she would be pinged for holding the ball, but her attack and desire on the ball is what you like to see. She constantly put her body on the line, but also managed to find space on a wing and at half-forward. At one stage she won the intercept ball, fended off an opponent and kicked inside 50. Clean at ground level and a long kick, it was a solid performance from the number four.

#19 Jemma Finning

Was not a huge ball winner, but her kicking was a standout. She had a piercing kick from half-back to the wing in the first term, not only hitting its target, but being low to avoid a spoil from an opposition defender. She can turn out of trouble and also run both ways, intercepting the ball at half-back and kicking long to the wing.

#28 Eloise Gretgrix

Played a real team-orientated role in the middle of the ground and regularly went in hard at the coalface. Along with Hards provided some great inside support, replacing the work that Megan Williamson did last year. Was one of the most consistent Pioneers players on the day and won more one-on-ones than she lost.

#36 Kate Douglass

Played at full-back and certainly teamed well with Tara Slender in the key defensive posts. She is strong one-on-one and just clears the ball from danger every chance she gets. Douglass held her ground under immense pressure on a number of occasions and if not able to dispose of it long by foot, looked to release a running defender.

#44 Jordyn Jolliffe

Kicked a couple of goals and showed enough to suggest the over-ager will add an important element to the Pioneers’ attack. Having missed last season due to injury, she played out of the goalsquare and looked dangerous in the air, then pushed into the midfield at times and also had an inside 50. A mark running back with the flight about 25 metres out showed great courage.

GWV:

By: Taylah Melki

# 9 Renee Saulitis:

She attacked the goal face early on narrowly missing then backed up her efforts in front of goal scoring a freakish goal in the first quarter. Saulitis was on a tricky angle she turned, took a few steps and slotted it straight through the middle. The party tricks did not stop there for the talented forward nailing another impressive goal in the third, showcasing her ability to read the play well. She roved the ball off the back of the pack turned around and nailed a goal from just outside the goal square highlighting her footy smarts and good goal sense to position well and score.

# 10 Ella Wood:

Showed good attack on the ball and was not afraid to hunt the player to win the contested ball. Wood worked hard to win the footy for her team and had a good presence around stoppages to makes herself available. She got into clever positioning across the ground and showed good dash through the middle. At times her execution was slightly off, but the endeavour and intent to attack the play was there, helping to set up many forward thrusts.

# 24 Sophie Molan:

Good strong spearing kick and knows how to use the footy to maximize her impact per possession. She is clean with ball in hand, helps to set up good attacking play and worked hard in the attacking 50. The captain scrapped well to try and win the loose ball at ground level and showcased her pin point precision with timely and accurate passes. Molan has good spatial awareness and used her clever sidestep to avoid traffic and shrug off opponents. She roved well off the pack and tried to clear space with her long kick over the top. Molan displayed her good hands under pressure to take a big mark coming out of defence and willed herself to the contest on a few occasions. She proved to be a good option up forward and continued to present time and time again.

# 30 Nyakoat Dojiok:

Dojiok was really quick off the mark and showed good closing speed to shut down her opponents. She went in hard at ground level to try and trap the footy and marked her player closely showing good defensive pressure. Dojiok highlighted her good evasive skills to get in and under the tackler then dash through the centre. In one passage of play she put the afterburners on and tried to hit up a teammate in the forward 50. She broke the game open in the third with her impressive speed and run through the middle of the ground, taking a bounce and kicking the ball long inside 50, creating a half chance at goal for her teammates.

# 32 Isabella Simmons

Scored a good goal in the opening term and took a few solid marks. Simmons provided some good strong leads in the opening quarter and kicked her second goal for the first quarter. She was cool, calm and composed under pressure with a shot after the siren in the first and showed good spatial awareness. Simmons showcased her footy smarts to evade players and then run through the middle of the ground and provided some good link up play through the middle.

# 35 Maggie Caris

Caris impressed with her clever use of the ball to open up space and set up a scoring opportunity for her teammates. She was solid in the ruck with some clever taps to advantage to her teammates and used her height to try and dominate the opposition. She moved well across the ground evading opposition after winning the footy in the air, proving her versatility and class.

Northern Knights vs. Murray Bushrangers


Northern:

By: Taylah Melki

# 3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Hit the post early on but showed good goal sense throughout the game to be a viable option up forward, later scoring a goal. Morris-Dalton impressed with her ability to read the play and showed good footy smarts to body up and control the footy. She had solid hands under pressure and at times looked to have plenty of time and space with ball in hand. Morris-Dalton also helped to set up good attacking play for the Knights.

# 6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan displayed a good use of footy to kick the ball into the forward half and mount some forward pressure. She nailed an impressive goal in the last quarter quickly turning and finding the goals credit to her clean use of the footy and general goal sense. Bannan took a good intercept in the forward 50 and worked hard to apply pressure, ride the tackle and keep her arms free to release a handball.

# 7 Abigail Bennett

Beautiful kick of the footy kicking a goal in the second term and showed good hands under pressure. Bennett applied good tackling pressure to try and trap the footy in the Knights forward half and displayed good awareness to avoid the tackler and tap the ball back into play. ??

# 14 Jess Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald had clean hands under pressure and impressed in one passage of play with an easy pick up off the deck, followed up by a clever kick toward to trap the ball inside forward 50. She showed good speed to break away from the pack and handball out of stoppage to a passing teammate to try and set up a shot at goal.

# 18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti took a good strong mark back in defence and showcased her kicking ability with a long kick over the congestion into space. She displayed good body positioning on her opponent to win the footy and attacked the footy hard. She proved she was not afraid to go in hard to meet the contest.

# 21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie was clean out of the centre, had good ball skills, showed good control with the footy and hits targets up on the lead. She took a strong contested mark, and highlighted her impressive aerial abilities along with her impressive spatial awareness to hit up teammates on the wing. She starred in one passage of play with a strong intercept mark and then propelled the ball forward. McKenzie displayed her clever sidestep out of traffic, fended off two players and kept arms free to release ball to teammate proving her class. She racked up the clearances credit to her clean hands in and around the footy and opened up space across the ground. McKenzie highlighted her football skill in the second quarter receiving a handball and going for a run, fending off two players and almost delivering the ball inside 50 to a teammate.

# 22 Britney Gutknecht

She slotted any early goal credit to her clever snap. Gutknecht accumulated plenty of touches with a good pick up off her toes and proved to be a real play maker through the middle. She ran hard across the field to try and interfere with the play and slotted an impressive goal from 50 thanks to beautiful long kick. She strikes the ball well, showed good spatial awareness and impressive footy smarts. Her composure under pressure was second to none slotting an impressive four goals for the game. She took a heap of strong contested marks across the ground and was a real presence across the field. Gutknecht seemed to have the ball on a string in the last term racking up the possessions.??

# 23 Gabby Newton

Clever play in the forward half and showed an impressive goal sense and ability to get boot to ball. She was clean around the ground scooping the ball up in one hand. Newton took a really good mark in the forward 50 and showcased her footy smarts with a clever chip kick to hit up teammate in a better position. She tackled hard to try and win back possession for her side and impressed with her follow up play across the field. Was not afraid to accelerate forward and open up space and showed good presence around the stoppages.

# 32 Ash Snow

Snow was not afraid to go in hard and extract the footy from the stoppages, getting down low. She tackled hard throughout the game and had clean hands in close. She highlighted her footy smarts with a good chip kick in the middle of the field to open up the forward 50 and create a scoring opportunity for her side. Snow took a few strong marks and was clean with ball in hand with a good hit up kick to teammate in the forward 50.

Murray:

By: Peter Williams

#7 Kate Adams

Adams rotated between midfield and defence, playing half-back, on. a wing and onball, using the ball consistently, and was able to use short kicks to hit-up targets on the wing. Against the bigger bodies she got pushed around a little, but never gave in, winning an important one-on-one late in the game.

#8 Abby Favell

Favell showed some promising signs around the ground, both offensively and defensively. Early on she took a good mark on the lead at half-forward and delivered a low pass inside 50 to a teammate. She ran down an opponent in a tackle and seemed to just keep running throughout the day, trying to get the Bushrangers moving in transition.

#10 Sophie Locke

Like many players, did not win a heap of the ball, but she constantly put pressure on the opposition. She cracked in hard and laid a great tackle on her opponent in the second term to force a turnover. In the final quarter, she laid another terrific tackle that was rewarded with a free kick. Her defensive efforts were very good and she helped out a defence that was under siege at times.

#45 Olivia Barber

Showed some nice signs throughout the four quarters in the air and at ground level. She made a number of strong second efforts and was able to use the ball well. She laid a great running tackle later in the game to earn a free kick, and was able to fire a handball off to a teammate while Barber was still on the ground.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Peter Williams

Dandenong:

#10 Abbey Jordan

Playing on a wing and half-forward, Jordan had a quieter first term before getting into the match more from the second term. She pressed up from half-forward when the ball was in defence and provided an option out wide. She kept running to find space and took a huge grab in the final term to put the ball in the path of Tyanna Smith to run onto towards goal only to just miss.

#26 Isabella Shannon

The Saints’ AFL Women’s recruit kicked the first goal of the game for the Stingrays with a snap in traffic. She kept presenting at half-forward taking a. number of marks, but also won the ball off the deck. In the third term she won a few possessions at half-back, and showed a few quick steps out of a centre clearance to bomb the ball long and deep inside. 50.

#28 Tyanna Smith

Smith worked hard for the Stingrays in the midfield and kept running all day long. She showed off her clearance ability time and time again, being a danger around the stoppages and just attacking the ball hard. She gave away a few free kicks throughout the game, but constantly harassed opponents with frantic tackling or implied pressure. She had clean hands and smart thinking to use the ball by hand out of a. stoppage, and had the chance to give Dandenong a huge shot running into goal in the final term, but it just missed to the right.

#31 Brooke Vernon

An underrated performance from the defender in a role that can be unforgiving, but Vernon was terrific on the last line. She saved at least two goals that Eastern would have otherwise kicked, which included a goal-saving smother in the second term, and then bumping her opponent off the ball in the goalsquare as she tried to soccer it home. While the Stingrays did not win, Vernon’s actions kept them in it, and she was so calm and composed under pressure, and has a long kick that clears the defence. The best from the Stingrays.

#51 Zoe Hill

The Stingrays full-back is a rebounding machine, who just is as consistent as they come. She is a good mover in traffic, and a long raking kick. She is one that tends to have Velcro hands at times and can win a contested ball at ground level too. Still a bottom-ager, but she has quite a few nice traits and consistency on her side.

Eastern:

#21 Olivia Meagher

A huge first half by Meagher set the tone for Eastern, winning a number of intercept possessions as well as contested ball at the bottom of packs. She won the ball in all thirds of the ground, and either kicked forward or looked for the quick handpass to a running teammate. She showed good smarts throughout the game and had a few nice touches and applied pressure to opponents.

#26 Tarni Brown

Classy. It is the easiest way to describe Brown who has unbelievable agility, speed and technique, it is just ironing out areas such as assessing her options at times which would make her go to the next level. She can kick it long and has no issues finding space, and when she does have space in front of her, it is hard to stop her. The daughter of former Magpie captain, Gavin Brown, the smooth mover showed just how much speed she had in the final term with a blistering run, quick handball to a teammate, receive and then kick inside 50 which covered about 40 metres. Her metres gained would be remarkable, and while she does need to just build that consistency by foot, the technique is there.

#39 Laura McClelland

The AFL Women’s Academy member took some huge grabs, including a ridiculous contested mark where she read the flight perfectly despite being in the middle of two opponents. She kicked a terrific goal in the second term after intercepting the ball at half-forward, taking a few steps and never looked. Like missing. She showed clean hands off the deck and spreads well, it is just cleaning up the kicking at times that would be the next step, but McClelland has a lot of tricks.

#46 Serena Gibbs

The netballer showed some serious talent, and while consistency in finding the ball is an area to build upon, her kicking was surprisingly impressive for a code-crosser. Gibbs lead at the football and by bringing the ball to ground created a goal to Mietta Kendall in the second term. Then she speared a pass into another teammate despite being hugged on the boundary line, and was finally rewarded in the last term with a goal for her efforts from a nice snap.

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Gippsland Power

Oakleigh:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Gemma Lagioia

The classy mover did her thing throughout the match and spread across the ground to win the ball on the outside. She got her side on the board with less than 30 seconds remaining by side-stepping an opponent, straightening up and putting though a major just before quarter time. A one-grab player who is clean by hand or foot, she knows how to weight her kicks and angle them.

#2 Mimi Hill

The Chargers’ captain won a lot of the ball, particularly in the first half. She played off half-back and was the general in defence, clearing a lot of Gippsland’s attacks. As the Chargers had more control in the second half, she was needed less, but she still found a way to be involved, pushing up the ground and winning the ball. Showed nice vision and neat foot skills.

#4 Emily Harley

The difference between the teams as the key forward target inside 50. After a quiet first term where she gave away a free kick or two, she became the one that forced the opposition defenders to infringe on her. She was pushed out of a contest in the second term, earned the free and made no mistake with. The set shot. She had another shot early in the third after protecting the drop zone, marking on her chest and setting sail for goal. It fell short but was marked by Kalarni Kearns who slotted it. Another chance for a major off a huge pack mark resulted in a poster, but Harley quickly rectified the missed with a loose ball get and snap goal. She nailed her third goal after a dominant one-on-one after almost converting another chance moments earlier on the run. She capped off a dominant, best on ground performance with her fourth goal early in the final term.

#8 Alana Porter

The speedy midfielder showed some great signs throughout the match and had one really impressive play in the second term. She. Won the ball at half-back, ran along the wing burning off an opponent and then hit a teammate at half-forward while at top speed. Earlier in the game she missed a chance for goal after going back with the flight then receiving a 50m penalty. Often being held trying to get out of a stoppage, Porter was able to buzz around and use her speed to clear the ball throughout the game.

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams

Abrahams has always had the offensive ability to pull down a massive contested mark – which she did a couple of times during the game. But her tackling pressure and defensive work against Oakleigh was very impressive. While the consistency is still there to be built, her work in the middle and on a wing was really solid, and laid a crunching tackle on the strong Emily Harley in the first term. A team contributor throughout the match.

#9 Maddison Shaw

Played off half-back and applied pressure to the ball carrier at times, earning some free kicks for her troubles. In the first term she was hurt as she won a free for a run-down tackle then as she played on was tackled herself and got up ginger. She came off but returned to still play an important role.

#27 Nikia Webber

Looked in for a big game when her first touch saw her win it at ground level, turn around with a snap and slam it home for the opening goal of the game. After the first term the forwards were limited and Webber spent most of her time in the midfield where she used her strength to win contested ball. The attribute that sets Webber apart from the rest of her peers is her elite kicking which not only hits targets, but can do so over long distances. Her tackling is fierce, and while she gave away a number of free kicks, Webber continually tried to win the ball back for her team. An example of a second effort came in the second term where she dropped a mark, followed it up, won the contested ball and then moved clear and kicked it long.

Sandringham Dragons vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Sandringham:

#25 Sarah Hartwig

Played on Lucy McEvoy early and the two had an entertaining battle. Well suited to the role as she is strong one-on-one, Hartwig held her own and took some strong marks against tough opponents. A couple of times she was beaten when opponents had front position, but she was often able to either get the hands up or spoil it to keep the ball alive. She took a number of important intercept marks, enjoying the freedom of being able to still hold a defensive role, while attacking from half-back, once McEvoy moved into the middle. Hartwig won a big one-on-one contest from the back position in the final term as the Falcons were charging home.

#28 Alice Burke

Playing an inside midfield role, Burke just went in hard from the first to final sirens. She covered the ground well and laid some really hard tackles throughout the contest. She has that outside ability, but her willingness and ability to extract a ball from a contest saw her remain in that onball group. Burke got to show off her skill in the final term with a nice weighted kick to Winnie Laing in defence.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Showed some nice speed on the wing and was able to get a few quick kicks out of the stoppage. Roamed around and moved in transition, she was one of Sandringham’s better midfielders and was the outside mover to many of the Dragons’ inside brigade.

Geelong:

#7 Paige Sheppard

Played along a wing and just fights for the ball. Her decision making and vision was good on the day, and was able to hit-up Lucy McEvoy between a couple of opponents in the second term. Always likes to keep the ball moving, Sheppard beat two opponents on the wing in the final term to kick forward and let the Falcons maintain possession.

#14 Darcy Moloney

A bit like the energiser bunny with ball in hand, Moloney just keeps it moving. She is one of those players that immediately looks to play on wherever possible, and has the athletic traits to be able to do so. Moloney has lightning first few steps and is able to dance around an opponent. In the third term she had one of the plays of the weekend, when she was one-on-one, handballed over her opponent, ran onto it, burnt off her opponent and kicked the goal on the run taking into account the wind. It was a very impressive moment.

#21 Lucy McEvoy

Started in the middle then moved forward with Sarah Hartwig for company. She just willed herself to contest after contest, and continued to do so throughout the match as she then moved back into the midfield. With McEvoy on the ball, the Falcons were able to get the ball forward courtesy of her long booming kick. She was constantly involved and her follow-up work and work ethic are an example of what every player can aspire to. Even if she loses a contest, she will be laying the next tackle or putting her body on the line every chance she gets.

#23 Renee Tierney

Copped a knock to her shin early in the second term, Tierney started higher up the ground then went back deeper to where she is more familiar. Kicked a good goal, but also missed a couple of opportunities. Continued to present as you would expect from your forwards, and she applied some defensive pressure as well.

NAB League Girls weekend preview: Round 1

TWO triple headers headline the first ever round of NAB League Girls as the 12 teams begin their 2019 campaigns hoping to get their season off on the right foot.

CALDER CANNONS v. WESTERN JETS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
9:15am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

In what is predicted to be a sweltering day at RAMS Arena, the first match in the triple header is the Calder Cannons taking on the Western Jets. Both sides are bringing in some strong depth making it an interesting game to see which team can kickstart its season first. The Cannons will be without Georgia Patrikios, but have the likes of Alana Barba, Felicity Theodore and former Gippsland Power player, Makeisha Muller. Georgie Prespakis is one to watch for the future, and while older sister Madison is no longer there to lead the team, the Cannons will have Krstel Petrevski coming off half-back and is a player the Cannons are excited to develop throughout the season. For the Jets, they have a number of top prospects who are members of the AFL Women’s Academy at both the top and middle-age brackets. Isabella Grant and Cleo Saxon-Jones are strong overhead and can kick goals when forward, while Isabelle Pritchard still has two years in the system and is shaping as a highly talented key defender. Elisabeth Georgostathis is the other player who put in a consistent 2018 season, named onball like she was last year where she won the Jet’s best and fairest award.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
11:00am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

The second game sees two country neighbours battling it out in what could be a thrilling contest. The teams have had productive pre-seasons and the Pioneers had no trouble scoring in their practice match against the Bushrangers, while the Rebels were pleased with their efforts against the Falcons. The defensive duo of Kate Douglass and Tara Slender will be one to watch and assist in restricting opposition teams from scoring, while Jordyn Jolliffe‘s return from injury – she missed all of last season’s TAC Cup Girls competition – will be welcome and she starts at full-forward. The midfield group of the Pioneers is quite strong and will have benefited from another year, with the likes of Brooke Hards – who played some roles in defence last season – Eloise Gretgrix and Jemma Finning, while Maeve Tupper was predominantly a forward pocket last season and will spend more time in the midfield. Sophie Molan and Ella Wood will lead a deep Rebels midfield in what will be the battle of the midfields within the match. Isabella Simmons developed strongly as the season went on last year, while Renee Saulitis and Isabella Robson are other middle-age talents in the team.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
12:45pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

In the final game of Saturday’s triple header with the temperatures expected to be high 30s by the final siren, the two teams who finished second in the first two years face off from 12.45pm. The Knights head into the game as strong favourites based on the form they showed last season, and they have a number of talented players in each third of the ground. The midfield features Ellie McKenzie, Jess Fitzgerald and Britney Gutknecht, with the likes of Gabby Newton and Abigail Bennett rotating between the midfield and forward. Sarah Sansonetti and Ash Snow are a couple of defenders who impressed last season, while Alyssa Bannan developed rapidly in 2018. For the Bushrangers, Olivia Barber has been named at centre half-back and could be the one to try and quell Newton, while forwards, Sophie Locke and Kate Adams could do some damage if given time and space. Mikaela Trethowan is a 19-year-old prospect who will provide good support in the midfield, while Emily Nicholson is another player who played every game last season and will be well prepared for the first round match. The game is a huge challenge for the Bushrangers against the likely premiership favourites, but it will be a good test to see where they are at, and how the Knights have changed with players tested in other positions.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
10:30am
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

In the first game of a triple header at Frankston on Sunday, Dandenong Stingrays will be looking for their fifth straight win after finishing the season in a blaze of glory following four early season losses. Recent St Kilda recruit, Isabella Shannon has been named at centre half-forward and will be a player to watch for any Saints fans who head down to the game. While fellow Saints teammate, Molly McDonald will not be out there, Brooke Vernon, Tyanna Smith and Grace Hodder will lead the charge in the middle. Zoe Hill stands tall at centre half-back and while partner-in-crime Lucy Cripps will not be out there, Hill will aim to try and nullify one of Eastern’s talls. That could be netballer, Serena Gibbs or AFL Women’s Academy member, Laura McClelland who could rotate between midfield and forward. The forward line and particularly midfield looks solid for the Ranges, with Olivia Meagher and Tahni Brown among the middle-agers who still have a couple of seasons to develop. Both teams are likely to create a lively contest.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
12:15pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

The middle game on Sunday will see two teams that faced off in Round 1 last year do battle once again with Oakleigh Chargers facing Gippsland Power. The Chargers won easily 12 months ago and will be hoping to serve a repeat dose, while the Power feel more prepared to tackle the Chargers this time around. Middle-age captain, Mimi Hill leads a band of quick defenders who like to move the ball well, as Chloe O’Malley and Nicola Xenos showed last season. Gemma Lagioia and Emily Harley inside 50 will provide any opposition coach problems, as would Alana Porter‘s speed through the middle of the ground. The club is excited to release Amelia Peck on the competition with the 19-year-old named at centre half-back. Gippsland will miss Tyla Hanks in the middle, but have been able to supply a number of players with a season of experience and now there are top and middle-agers with a taste of the competition already. Nikia Webber and Matilda Van Berkel line up in the key forward posts, while Chandra Abrahams, Megan Fitzsimon and Grace McRae fill out the midfield. Maddi Shaw and Shanara Notman are others who could be key players in the game, providing strength and run from defence.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. GEELONG FALCONS


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
2:00pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons face Geelong Falcons on Sunday afternoon. The reigning premiers will test themselves against a danger side in the 2019 competition. Both teams are in the form of their lives having not lost a game in the past six regular season rounds – and even longer for the Falcons. The midfield battle will be one to savour with Dragons’ captain Molly Denahy Maloney, Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara tackling the likes of Falcons’ captain Lucy McEvoy, Luka Lesosky-Hay and Paige Sheppard. Both sides have a highly touted key defender in Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham) and Abbey Chapman (Geelong), have speedy wingers in Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham) and Elise Vella (Geelong) and forwards who can take big grabs, Sophia Rothfield (Sandringham) and Renee Tierney (Geelong). With both sides having a high amount of talent coming through at middle and bottom-age level, they are going to be teams to watch this season. Round 1 may well have saved the best until last, and the final game of the new NAB League Girls will likely be a match to remember.

Team Selection: Under 18 Girls – Round 1

AFTER a long off-season, the Under 18 Girls competition returns to Victoria, with the 12 teams reset for 2019. Geelong Falcons went undefeated in 2018, while the Northern Knights fell short of upsetting the Falcons in the Grand Final having impressed throughout the competition as well. There is plenty of future talent on show over the weekend with fans treated to two triple headers on Saturday and Sunday respectively. Six sides make the journey to RAMS Arena in Craigieburn on Saturday with the games moved forward to allow the girls to escape the heat of the day with predicted temperatures reaching the high 30s. On Sunday, the remaining six sides head to Skybus Stadium in Frankston to kickstart their campaigns for the new season.

CALDER CANNONS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 1 – 02/03/2019
9:15am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

CALDER CANNONS

B: 24. K. Delia, 6. K. Reid, 4. K. Lennox
HB: 15. M. McLeod, 35. I. Young, 31. K. Petrevski
C: 8. Z. Friswell, 11. A. Barba, 32. T. Fry
HF: 34. Z. Hardiman, 42. T. Crook, 3. E. Yassir
F: 22. M. Muller, 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 2. F. Theodore
R: 17. G. Sampson, 38. L. Cocomello, 41. G. Prespakis
Int: 12. J. Andrighetti, 5. N. Crowley, 46. G. Elarmaly, 43. C. Leahy, 25. A. Magri, 36. Z. Penno, 19. P. Poultney

WESTERN JETS

B: 10. T. Evans, 19. A. Anthony, 11. K. O’Keefe
HB: 47. C. Sargent, 23. I. Pritchard, 15. N. Wright
C: 3. L. Andrews-Quinn, 9. R. Tripodi, 18. P. Ozols
HF: 32. S. Asciak, 25. C. Saxon-Jones, 5. I. Cavka
F: 20. T. Kolevski, 26. C. Weston-Sirett, 14. L. Wright
R: 22. C. Singleton, 17. E. Georgostathis, 13. I. Grant
Int: 36. K. Bays, 6. E. Kiely, 24. J. Mwaka, 21. E. Robinson
Emg: 30. T. Kotoski, 51. J. Wilson

The first game of the year sees the Cannons taking on the Jets, with Calder missing star midfielder/forward, Georgia Patrikios. A familiar name can be found in the midfield, with Georgie Prespakis replacing her sister Madison in the onball brigade, while Felicity Theodore is another name to watch, named in the forward pocket. Western has a number of strong talls in the team with Isabella Grant, Cleo Saxon-Jones and Isabelle Pritchard able to hold down key roles, with Grant also running through the midfield with last year’s best and fairest winner, Elisabeth Georgostathis.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 1 – 02/03/2019
11:00am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

BENDIGO PIONEERS

B: 25. K. Hazlett, 36. K. Douglass, 49. C. McGillivray
HB: 46. K. Mitchell, 40. T. Slender, 41. E. Peacock
C: 3. E. Snell, 28. E. Gretgrix, 1. M. Tupper
HF: 14. A. Strahan, 30. H. Stewart, 20. D. Villiva
F: 50. M. Barton, 44. J. Jolliffe, 9. T. Miaoudis
R: 24. S. Oliver, 19. J. Finning, 4. B. Hards
Int: 22. G. Barton, 8. T. Coad, 48. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 37. G. Sladden

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

B: 12. V. Jewell, 27. G. Pidgeon, 16. L. Sykes
HB: 5. N. Butler, 30. N. Dojiok, 19. C. Summers
C: 32. I. Simmons, 24. S. Molan, 3. A. Trigg
HF: 1. L. Condon, 34. K. Harris, 11. L. Donegan
F: 6. M. Ciavarella, 23. I. Rustman, 9. R. Saulitis
R: 35. M. Caris, 10. E. Wood, 15. C. Leonard
Int: 14. G. Douhadji, 28. I. Robson, 13. B. Thompson, 4. K. Tomkins
Emg: 25. G. Henderson, 21. A. Stevens

In the second game, Bendigo Pioneers are coming off a promising practice match win over Murray Bushrangers and have a strong spine with Kate Douglass and Jordyn Jolliffe holding down key positions at either end, while Tara Slender was impressive in the V/Line Cup last year and will slot into centre half-back. Jemma Finning, Brooke Hards, Maeve Tupper and Eloise Gretgrix make up a young but promising midfield core, which will make for an entertaining contest against GWV Rebels’ Ella Wood, Chloe Leonard, Sophie Molan and Isabella Simmons. Renee Saulitis and Nyakoat Doijiok are others who impressed at times last season and will add some speed to the side that will hope to get off with a win after such a strong finish to the year last season.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
12:45pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 24. J. Nursey, 2. S. Fell, 34. M. Uwland
HB: 10. P. Chisholm, 18. S. Sansonetti, 20. C. Linssen
C: 6. A. Bannan, 21. E. McKenzie, 9. M. Chaplin
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 23. G. Newton, 29. T. Pulcino
F: 11. M. Appleby, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 25. T. Mills
R: 1. J. Nelson, 14. J. Fitzgerald, 22. B. Gutknecht
Int: 8. G. Ceravolo, 16. Z. Flanigan, 26. M. Papachristos, 30. M. Plunkett, 32. A. Snow
Emg: 19. I. Hammond, 38. L. Picioane, 5. A. Ward

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

B: 11. T. Brett, 43. A. Williams, 24. H. Doohan
HB: 33. E. Mifka, 45. O. Barber, 40. K. Whitehead
C: 20. S. Lang, 8. A. Favell, 46. S. McCarthy
HF: 10. S. Locke, 14. C. Boschetti, 41. L. Sharp
F: 16. M. Jones, 39. A. Morphett, 22. A. Richardson
R: 34. E. McPherson, 18. Z. Spencer, 31. M. Trethowan
Int: 7. K. Adams, 26. E. Nicholson, 21. C. Styan , 27. J. Ward
Emg: 3. A. McMillan, 44. M. Quade

In the final game of the Saturday triple header, grand finalists Northern Knights face the Murray Bushrangers. The Bushrangers will be without top prospect, Millie Brown, but have the likes of Sophie Locke, Olivia Barber and Kate Adams who all add different elements to the side in a team that looks different to the one that ran out in 2018. The Knights are a formidable side and with Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie, Alyssa Bannan, Abigail Bennett, Britney Gutknecht, Jess Fitzgerald and Sarah Sansonetti all named, it will take a strong performance to knock the Knights off.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 1 – 03/03/2019
10:30am
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston


DANDENONG STINGRAYS

B: 40. R. Clancy – Dillon, 51. Z. Hill, 17. M. Layfield
HB: 14. L. Grocock, 50. A. Nagtzaam, 32. J. Radford
C: 4. J. Guy-Toogood, 31. B. Vernon, 10. A. Jordan
HF: 48. A. Carroll, 26. I. Shannon, 55. H. Thomas
F: 24. A. Liddle, 49. K. McKenzie, 2. S. Stratton
R: 58. G. Howes, 28. T. Smith, 21. G. Hodder
Int: 13. S. Gammaldi, 60. T. Jones, 30. P. Swayn, 39. N. Taylor
Emg: 9. C. Bell, 34. A. Richards

EASTERN RANGES

B: 29. M. Di Cosmo, 51. S. Zappia, 54. E. Odria
HB: 11. M. Edwards, 49. C. Wilsmore, 17. M. Kendall
C: 20. J. Richardson, 39. L. McClelland, 1. C. Smith
HF: 16. E. Horne, 41. T. Merrett, 18. T. Kelly
F: 48. I. Khoury, 46. S. Gibbs, 12. M. Taverna
R: 25. J. Grace, 21. O. Meagher, 26. T. Brown
Int: 44. S. Bowden, 31. S. Collard, 33. T. Flintoff, 35. L. Hilton
Emg: 34. M. Hardy, 19. S. Humm

Heading down the Peninsula on Sunday, Dandenong Stingrays host Eastern Ranges in the first of three matches at Frankston. One half of St Kilda’s newest recruits will be playing in the match, with Isabella Shannon named at centre half-forward, while the Stingrays will miss Molly McDonald. Tyanna Smith is a bottom-ager to watch throughout 2019, as is key defender, Zoe Hill. For Eastern, Laura McClelland is the key top-age player to watch, named in the middle, while Olivia Meagher and Tahni Brown make the Ranges’ midfield a tough proposition for any side, and with Tahlia Merrett and netballer, Serena Gibbs up forward, there are no shortage of tall targets inside 50.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 1 – 03/03/2019
12:15pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston


OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

B: 21. S. Reid, 26. A. Micallef, 17. N. Xenos
HB: 2. M. Hill, 12. A. Peck, 18. C. O’Malley
C: 33. E. Chamberlain, 7. J. D’Amato, 22. J. Lin
HF: 1. G. Lagioia, 10. T. Cowan, 5. A. van Oosterwijck
F: 14. G. Byrne, 15. C. Russell, 4. E. Harley
R: 3. K. Kearns, 8. A. Porter, 32. E. James
Int: 6. S. Cato, 20. B. Fox, 9. E. Jackson, 38. D. Lloyd, 23. A. Mayne, 31. S. Morley, 13. T. Morton, 29. C. Rowbottom

GIPPSLAND POWER

B: 2. S. Beaton, 47. E. Williams, 19. H. Booth
HB: 40. C. Robinson, 33. S. Notman, 9. M. Shaw
C: 30. A. Rippon, 12. M. Fitzsimon, 17. S. Trewin
HF: 13. H. Andrews, 45. M. Van Berkel, 3. M. Gilmour
F: 50. G. Matser, 27. N. Webber, 11. S. Walker
R: 49. G. Radford, 8. C. Abrahams , 26. G. McRae
Int: 20. J. Chila, 48. C. Prestidge, 7. L. Raymond , 34. S. Symes
Emg: 1. S. Brisbane, 16. A. Hardwick, 24. N. Williams

In the second game, Oakleigh Chargers takes on Gippsland Power in a repeat of the same fixture 12 months earlier. In that game the Chargers were far too good, but after a strong pre-season, the Power hopes to start the season off on the right note. Gemma Lagioia will be a player to watch off half-forward, while Emily Harley is a key target inside 50. Alana Porter provides the dash, while Chloe O’Malley and Nicola Xenos are defenders who know how to use the ball going forward. Gippsland has named Nikia Webber at full-forward for the opening game, but she could rotate with bottom-age tall Chandra Abrahams who will start in the midfield. Holly Andrews and Maddi Shaw will be others to watch off their respective flanks, while Shanara Notman has good potential having returned to football after a year off.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 1 – 03/03/2019
2:00pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston


SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

B: 45. E. Stuber, 24. N. Borg, 44. D. Walker
HB: 38. G. Strangio, 25. S. Hartwig, 7. R. Woods
C: 42. M. Purcell, 17. B. Arnold, 26. C. Saultry
HF: 33. I. Eddey, 2. S. Rothfield, 40. A. Moloney
F: 3. C. Murphy, 15. C. Cody, 29. I. Stutt
R: 1. M. Denahy Maloney, 28. A. Burke, 22. E. McNamara
Int: 13. T. Grasso, 30. W. Laing, 50. P. Staltari, 58. T. Tysoe
Emg: 65. E. Angelopoulos, 47. K. Lynch, 18. J. Stolz

GEELONG FALCONS

B: 27. E. Dowling, 16. A. Chapman, 6. M. Holdsworth
HB: 11. E. Mahoney, 19. K. Haustorfer , 8. D. Smith
C: 9. L. Gardiner, 7. P. Sheppard, 1. E. Vella
HF: 14. D. Moloney, 13. L. Ryan, 18. A. Sanderson
F: 12. M. Skinner, 23. R. Tierney, 26. L. Were
R: 25. A. McKee, 21. L. McEvoy, 17. L. Lesosky-Hay
Int: 10. Z. Garth, 15. S. Hovey, 20. A. Lee, 2. P. Schaap
Emg: 28. T. Hassett, 22. S. Milsome, 24. J. Robinson

Wrapping up the first round of action is arguably the match of the round with reigning premiers, Geelong taking on Sandringham Dragons. The Dragons have a good bottom-age contingent who will look for guidance from new captain, Molly Denahy Maloney, with Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara forming a strong inside midfield. Marguerite Purcell provides the outside pace, while Isabella Eddey will cause headaches inside 50. Down back, Sarah Hartwig looks to hold down the defence. For the Falcons, captain Lucy McEvoy and Luka Lesosky-Hay will team up in midfield, while Renee Tierney is the main target inside forward 50 among a number of players who have made the transition into the side. Abbey Chapman and Kaitlyn Haustorfer are very solid key defenders, while Elise Vella is a winger who could be a point of difference.