Tag: alex ballard

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Grand Final rematch opens season

AFTER a shorter-than-usual wait for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition to restart due to the delayed 2020 season, the eight sides are ready to go in 2021 starting tonight.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

What better way is there to open a new SANFL Women’s season than with a grand final rematch? The opening game of the double-header at Coopers Stadium sees North Adelaide take on South Adelaide in a massive clash. The Roosters will be able to unfurl the flag against the Panthers, which should give both teams plenty of motivation. It is worth noting that they will be without a number of AFL Women’s talents which means others will have the chance to step up in their place.

Full-forward Kelly Barltrop will be hungry for success after being unlucky to miss out on last year’s flag, while Kristi Harvey has been named at centre half-forward. With league best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard and leading goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland both playing for the Crows in the AFL Women’s the Roosters will need to look for others to play a role. Jaimi Tabb has crossed from the Eagles to Roosters, while Glenelg ruck revelation Soriah Moon will now pull on the Panthers’ jumper. Providing a formidable tag-team with Montana McKinnon, South should get first hands to it, and with a midfield containing the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell, they will be hard to beat.

Gypsy Schirmer is the young gun to watch from the Panthers with the half-forward an excitement machine, whilst the same can be said for reigning Rising Star Hannah Ewings who will have added responsibility this season. Throw in Leah Tynan and Lauren Daniel through the onball, and the likes of Cristie Castle and Brianna Arthur able to rotate between midfield and forward, and the Roosters have plenty of options. It will be great to see full-back Sarah Wright return for the Panthers, with both her and Lauren Clifton providing some great stability in the defence.

This match is hard to predict, with either team capable of getting up, and both have a great history of just getting the job done. Just for the home fans the edge might go to North, but there is something about the South lineup that looks ready to strike.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 8.15pm
Coopers Stadium

The second match of the double-header is predicted to be just as good, with reigning preliminary finalists West Adelaide locking horns with the side they dispelled in the elimination final, Norwood. West Adelaide have a huge opportunity to make the next step up, with such a large contingent of state league players remaining at the club, and then bringing in some serious talent such as key defender Sharnie Whiting from Carlton.

The youth of West Adelaide cannot be stated enough, with Zoe Venning a standout in terms of this year, and then over the next two years, the Bloods have Keeley Kustermann and then Lauren Young respectively who both loom as great talents. Venning will start off half-forward and look to push into the midfield, while Kustermann will form a new partnership with South Adelaide’s Natalie Gibbs off half-back with Madison Newman likely to have Crows AFL Women’s duties this season. The 15-year-old Young has been thrown into the deep end to start in the midfield, potentially on the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

Norwood have an array of young talent themselves, with Alana Lishmund named on a wing, and Jade Halfpenny surprisingly named in defence after making her name as a leading forward predominantly last season. Tesharna Maher is a new name in the Norwood line-up, having crossed from Eagles over the break. Melanie Elsegood is a player to stop for West, with the Norwood defence looking strong, as Isabel Martin has been named back there, while the likes of Jess Macolino will come off the bench to have an impact.

West Adelaide could well be the team to beat this season, and therefore should be favourites in this game, but Norwood has some exciting young talents as well to watch out for, in what should be an entertaining game.

STURT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 27 @ 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Fast forward to Saturday and two sides looking to make a strong start to the season after missing finals do battle in Sturt and Glenelg. The Double Blues were actually strong defensively last season, but they just struggled to score at times, whilst the Bays were ultra-impressive in some games, and then just not themselves in others, so will be eyeing off some consistency in 2021. It will be a big game for Caitlyn Swanson who has cross from the Double Blues to the Bays this season and will come off the bench in Round 1.

Glenelg has some some developing talents to watch out for, with top-ager Brooke Tonon alongside over-ager Madisyn Freeman at half-forward. They will be looking to create some run and carry going inside 50, with the likes of Tamsyn Morriss and Sam Franson transitioning from the wings. Looking strong as outside movers, Tessa Kohn has been slotted in at half-back after being predominantly an inside midfielder last season, while Lucy Armitage will never take a backwards step and is also in defence. Without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones the Bays will need other midfielders to step up, but they have the depth there.

The Double Blues have some of the best young talent running around, and the depth through the key position options is showing, with Zoe Prowse now running around as a midfielder instead of ruck. The 180cm talent has the athleticism to beat much smaller opponents, and she will provide a point of difference at ground level. Alex Ballard looks set for a move into the midfield, while other over-agers such as Hannah Prenzler (half-back) and Isobel Kuiper (half-forward) will be better for another season. Add in top-ager Georgia Swan at centre half-forward, and the inclusion of Eagles’ Chloe Forby, and the Double Blues are starting to build some firepower.

It will be another tough match to pick, and without Georgia Bevan – having been picked up late to Gold Coast Suns – more will fall to the likes of Maya Rigter for Sturt, but they have the young talent to get it done. One cannot discount Glenelg though, as they have some great outside movers.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

The final match of the round takes place with Central District hosting Woodville-West Torrens in a battle of the league’s two newest clubs. Though now into their third seasons, both the Bulldogs and Eagles are becoming well established, and if 2020 is anything to go off, they should be more competitive again. Without a heap of AFL Women’s talent last season, both these sides are well adapted to being without that top level experience, which puts them in good stead to have plenty of developing young guns coming through the programs.

The Bulldogs were one of the more exciting teams in 2020 even if their results may not have shown it. They were willing to run the ball forward, and with the need for speed, were taking it up to sides. Latiah Huynh is a perfect example of the way the Dogs play – with speed and tenacity, as well as confidence – and teaming up with fellow youngster Lauren Breguet in the forward half, Central District will look to share the load outside of notable goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig. Eagles’ key position utility Kiana Lee has been named at full-back with Anastasia Falkenberg another reliable talent in defence, as is Jamie Parish.

The midfield battle will be just as intriguing with new captain and reigning best and fairest winner Shelby Smith leading the Bulldogs onball, and the likes of Caitlen Teague and Lauren Smith in there. A couple of experienced recruits in Paige Allan and Nicole Mark among those inclusions into the Bulldogs’ line-up, while Madison Lane is a top-age talent with reliable foot skills from defence, while Demi Sonneman is always one to watch coming out of the back 50. A big inclusion for the Eagles is former South Adelaide raw ruck/forward prospect Brooklyn Kraft who will make her debut amongst a host of new faces coming out of the local leagues, while Kiley Green has made the move from the ACT and been named at centre-half back. Charlotte Dolan and Jovanka Zecevic are others to keep an eye on in the match for the Eagles.

Central District has beefed up its side in 2021, with more experience to settle the youth down and the Dogs could start favourite in this one, though the Eagles are always tough to score against.

Picture credit: SANFL

Finals on the agenda for Sturt in 2021

WHILE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s has been a fantastic initiative for all eight SANFL clubs to be involved in, some sides have had more on-field success than others so far. In Sturt’s three years playing in the SANFL Women’s League, they are yet to make a finals appearance. Changing this record is high on the agenda of Sturt’s senior women’s coach Bruce Dawes in 2021, particularly following their capitulation after returning from the COVID-19 break last season.

“Pre-COVID, we were actually pretty happy with the way we were tracking,” Dawes said. “We were 2-2 at that stage and felt the girls were making pretty good improvements. Having that break really interrupted us. Some girls chose not to come back post-COVID because work and different things changed for them, so after that we certainly didn’t play the football we were hoping to play.”

Sturt did not claim another victory for the 2020 season, concluding the year with two wins, seven losses, one draw and the lowest percentage in the competition, 25.04. This put them in sixth position, just one point ahead of bottom two clubs Woodville-West Torrens and Central District.

“Overall, we were disappointed with the season, no doubt about it,” Dawes said. “You always want to play finals, but I think we’re moving in the right direction now.”

Over the summer period, Dawes has put an emphasis on improving his players’ fitness levels, along with some other key areas of SANFLW football.

“Preseason’s been really good, one thing we felt last year was that we weren’t as fit as we’d like to have been, so there’s certainly been a focus on fitness,” Dawes said. “All of our GPS information is telling us that the girls have been working harder and their intensity is up, so that’s been a real bonus for us. From there, it’s just constant work on developing our skills and our game plan.”

When asked about their game plan, Dawes said he wants to help his players to develop greater football IQ’s and understand match situations when they are out in the heat of battle.

“We do a lot of work on our strategy type of stuff,” he said. “We want to control the footy then get our timing right of when to go fast and when to go slow. That’s what we’re looking at trying to achieve this year.”

As for Sturt’s recruiting strategy this offseason, they have focused on bringing players into the SANFLW system rather than poaching from rival SANFLW clubs.

“We’ve gone to the local clubs,” Dawes said. “We were able to watch a few local games once our season had finished, and from that we were able to attract a few newer girls who are bit older and have played a little bit of football. A couple of girls from Uraidla, Molly Fletcher and Alisha Gepp, who have really added to our group. Another girl Jess Good, who played at Blackwood, is a tall ruckman that’s come into the squad and been excellent for us. Chloe Forby came over from the Eagles, she’s a little goer that plays small forward, she’s added to the group as well.”

At the Under 18 preseason testing day earlier this month, 2020 Club Champion Zoe Prowse revealed that she is planning to play as a midfielder for the Double Blues in 2021. This surprised some given her prowess and expertise as a ruck, but Dawes clarified their reasoning behind the move.

“We just want to try and develop Zoe’s complete game,” he said. “She’s an outstanding athlete. Will she be a ruck at AFL level? She absolutely can be, no doubt, she has the athleticism to do it. But if we can add extra strings to her bow, where she could become a midfielder and then occasionally pinch hit in the ruck, that would really add to her talent as well.”

As for Sturt players that fans should keep an eye on this season, Dawes had several names in mind.

“A crowd favourite is Kate ‘Buba’ Harris– she’s a hard-working half-forward that goes at everything, is intense and just loves the game, the group love her too, she’s outstanding,” Dawes said. “Zoe Prowse, Alex Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler are all in the State program, which is excellent for them. All of those girls have been really good. A couple of left field ones [to keep an eye on]. New ruckman Jess Good is not a household name, but she’ll be very handy for us. Maya Rigter, Isobel Kuiper and girls like that have always been consistent performers for us as well.”

Although a finals berth is firmly on Dawes’ mind, he knows this will be difficult to achieve in 2021 due to the strong competition in SANFLW.

“Our goal is to play finals, no doubt about that,” Dawes said. “We think we were on track last year before the wheels fell off a bit, but we really think the list we’ve got now, the development the girls are putting in, and we’re progressing to a stage where we think we can play finals. Things will have to go right for us to do that, it’s a really tight competition that’s always constantly improving, so hopefully we’re improving a bit more than the other clubs.”

Sturt’s season begins on Saturday morning at X Convenience Oval when they take on Glenelg.

 

Picture credit: SANFL

 

For more SANFL Women’s news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

SANFLW Academy Ones to Watch: South Adelaide and Sturt

IN the third of four SANFL Women’s Ones to Watch, we take a look at those South Adelaide and Sturt players inside the South Australian Under-19 State Academy, and what they could offer to their club.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

Tahlita Buethke
Midfielder | Over-ager

Of the over-agers still in the Academy, Buethke could be one of the biggest movers in terms of her progression in 2021. She has a lot of potential, and felt at home for the Panthers, with her speed and marking among her strengths. She hopes to play on a wing where she can use her strengths to advantage and take the game on.

Lauren Clifton
Forward | Top-ager

As a bottom-ager, Clifton showed her potential to compete against older opponents last season, stepping up to be named in the All-Stars match where she slotted a goal up forward. A player with plenty of potential and a high work rate, Clifton can use the ball well and run hard to get to the right positions.

Gypsy Schirmer
Forward/Midfielder | Top-ager

The most exciting player to keep an eye on from a top-age perspective, Schirmer went from strength to strength last year and was deservedly added to the AFL Women’s National Academy. She has plenty of upside and her nous around goals is terrific. She can push up and play on a wing, with her overhead marking and impact among her best traits. We spoke with her at the preseason testing.

Sarah Wright
Defender | Over-ager

Unfortunately Wright suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in her top-age year, so will return to try and impact in 2021. Now as an over-ager, Wright is one who is a strong defender and will be keen to have better luck to add extra depth to a strong back six at the Panthers.

STURT:

Alex Ballard
Utility | Over-ager

With a knack to play anywhere on the field, it was Ballard’s performance in the All-Stars game last year that reminded spectators what she is capable of. She plays as a loose intercepting defender with a penetrating kick and an ability to move the ball quickly, which helps transition the ball from one end to the other. Looking to improve her fitness this year, Ballard is one that is more than capable at League level and remains a talent to keep an eye on in 2021.

Hannah Prenzler
Defender | Over-ager

The reliable defender is a natural leader, and possesses a pinpoint kick. Having spent some time at half-forward, the teenager is most suited to half-back where she is able to read the ball in flight, intercept and then drive the ball forward making the right decisions. As someone who has proven to be incredibly coachable over the years, Prenzler is looking to iron out improvements and build on her game.

Zoe Prowse
Ruck/Midfielder | Top-ager

The highly-touted top-ager who is in her second year in the AFL Women’s National Academy is set for a new role in 2021. Speaking to Draft Central at the preseason testing event, Prowse said she would roll through the midfield rather than be the number one ruck, and show off her versatility and athleticism for a taller player. Able to play just about anywhere, Prowse is the top South Australian prospect in 2021.

Georgia Swan
Forward | Top-ager

A talented forward who has shown some real promising signs over the past couple of years, Swan is a crafty forward who adds a different dimension to the Double Blues’ front half. She is strong overhead and knows where the goals are, but often roams up the ground to win the ball and doubles back to aide teammates. One to watch as an improver this year.

Picture credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

What’s in a name? Alex the newest Ballard with big dreams

THE ‘sister of’ tag is something which could easily irk a budding AFLW prospect when repeated over time, but Alex Ballard, the proud sister of Gold Coast defender, Charlie gladly accepts the “compliment”.

“I don’t mind it, I think it’s a bit of a compliment if I’m compared to him because he is a good player,” Ballard said. “I think I’m a slightly different player to him, he’s more of a third tall or a second tall, whereas I would like to be that loose defender. But it’s a compliment, I don’t mind it at all.

“We’ve been playing footy in the backyard ever since we were young so I probably got a bit of my skills from him. “He’s the main reason I started playing footy in the first place.

Fresh off an impressive display in the South Australian Under 18 All-Stars showcase, it’s clear Ballard needn’t look far for inspiration on her own game, with her ever-improving older brother and a certain SUNS star making for the perfect defensive archetypes.

“In particular, (I mould my game on) Jack Lukosius from Gold Coast,” she said. “He’s got a really good kick, so he’s able to get it out the backline really easily and go through the middle which creates a lot of opportunities going forward. “And probably my brother’s intercepting, he’s really good at marking and getting into good positions.”

The 17-year-old is clearly cut from the same cloth as Charlie, boasting outstanding marking ability, a sound kick, and shrewd reading of the play. While she plied a lot of her trade up forward for Sturt in this year’s SANFL Women’s season, Ballard enjoyed a return to more familiar defensive pastures during the recent All-Star dig.

“I think my best position is the half-back flank (as) that defender that drives from the backline and through the middle,” she said. I played a bit of forward at Sturt but that got a bit difficult at times… my greatest strength isn’t my one-on-one play but I am able to read the ball and see where it drops. “Then from there I can look for a short 45 or a long kick to hopefully break through the barriers instead of going down the line all the time.”

Stepping up to senior football, as well as pandemic-related disruptions earlier in the year have seen Ballard also identify some areas of improvement. Among them, Ballard says “everyone can always improve their fitness”, while also alluding to some small fundamental tweaks.

“At the moment my fitness would probably be one (improvement area),” she said. “Hopefully then I’ll be able to do a lot more running throughout the game and maybe spend some time in the midfield if the opportunity comes up. “My ground ball gets too, just being clean off the ground and handballing on the up.

“This season I probably struggled a little bit against the big defenders and just having opportunities to score goals. I’m not really a physical player so I’m not always going to win a marking contest one-on-one against a big body, but I’ll leave my player and intercept the possession.”

The limited training circumstances played into sharpening those ball skills, as well as serving as a much-needed motivation boost amid a difficult period.

“Having to keep up the fitness throughout the break, not being able to train with our teammates and keep up those skills was a bit difficult,” she said. “But as we started to train in small groups, I remembered how fun footy was and it really drove my motivation up.

“Getting out to training was the first step in getting that motivation back, and just seeing your teammates and remembering the bond you have with them. At trainings we weren’t doing contact, so it was mostly just improving our skills and I think that worked really well.”

Having lived and breathed football from all the way back to her backyard kick-arounds with her brother, to junior footy with the Mitcham Hawks, and a long journey with Sturt, there are only a couple of weeks left until the all-important draft day for Ballard. The ultimate goal is clear, and the Double Blues prospect is still doing the “little things” required to realise her big dream.

“Being able to play at the highest possible level would be amazing, so that’s definitely the ultimate goal,” she said. “But obviously you have to do little things before that… you’ve got to take it one step at a time and hopefully that reflects in my game at Sturt, and then hopefully that leads to an AFLW opportunity.

“I’m open to go anywhere at the moment, just because, why not? Queensland would be amazing because Charlie’s there so I’d get to be with him, South Australia too. But at the moment you can’t be picky so I’m happy to go anywhere.”

Ballard will hope to hear her name read out at the AFL Women’s National Draft on October 6.

Picture: Daniel Kalisz/AFL Media

Player notes: SANFLW All-Stars

LAST week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s All-Star display between Team Marinoff and Team Hatchard was a brilliant spectacle as plenty of players stood up and had an impact. We have taken a look at every player from the sides.

Team Marinoff:

Alex Ballard

Playing out of full-back, Ballard was one of the smoothest movers on the ground, but balanced equally in her attacking and defensive efforts. Donning the bright white boots which stood out under lights, Ballard’s use by foot and decision making was impressive, as was her positioning in marking contests. At one stage in the second term, Ballard handballed to herself to sidestep an opponent and continue at full speed to kick long down the line. In the third term, she sold candy to Charlotte Dolan and worked her way out of the back pocket, and tried to play on out of full-back on every occasion. Her second and fourth quarters were particularly influential and reminded people of the talent she has.

Nicole Campbell

Had the type of game you would expect from the South Adelaide midfielder, constantly winning the ball in close and giving her teammates the best chance of running free. She was often under a pack or feeding the contested ball out, and did it throughout four quarters in a real team performance. She showed her experience in that onball group and remained vital in the team’s success, doing her job around the clearances and when it counted with the game on the line.

Kate Case

As one of the youngest players out there, Case was busy inside 50, and continued to present throughout the night. Unfortunately she had a few unlucky moments, including a pass towards her hitting the ground just before she could grab it last in the third term, and then gave away a free in the final term. She was always active inside 50 however.

Lauren Clifton

The middle-age talent played forward and had an impact, kicking a second quarter goal to put her team within a kick at the main break. She had a chance on the end of quick ball movement earlier in the term, but got a poor bounce and ended up having to be the tackler on Zoe Prowse. Her 1-2 work with Laitiah Huynh led to her running into an open goalsquare and putting it home from 40m. In the third term, she had a set shot from a similar distance, but looked for a short option in Kate Case, only for the ball to just fall short and the opposition wrap it up for a stoppage. Moments later, Clifton had a quick snap but just went wide.

Leah Cutting

The ruck competed well around the ground against the athletic Prowse. Whilst Prowse was better in the centre square bounces, Cutting used her strength wherever possible, and was able to get back and help an under-siege defence in the first term. She intercepted with a strong mark in the goalsquare to save a certain goal, and worked hard throughout the four quarters to use her long kick to penetrate through the defence.

Jorja Eldridge

The talented medium utility played forward and took a great mark in the third term to get front position and kick the goal to put Team Marinoff in front for the first time.

Lauren Gauci

Was solid throughout the game, but her third quarter in particularly early, was a key reason Team Marinoff won the game. Time and time again she would intercept mark or lay a great tackle that stopped Hatchard in its tracks. One-on-one, Gauci positioned herself well and then would search for a difficult target inboard for the 45-degree kick. In one instance in the third term, Gauci intercepted, kicked forward, then immediately got back in position to mark one-on-one against Zoe Venning and do it all again.

Jade Halfpenny

Showed in glimpses what she is capable of playing as a forward and taking some really strong marks. She used the ball well such as in the first term where she hit up Emma Smith going inside 50. Another long bomb in the second term put the opposition under pressure in defence but unfortunately Clifton got a poor bounce. Halfpenny had another nice kick inside 50, hitting up Clifton well and showed quick hands at ground level in the fourth term gathering the ball inside 50 before being immediately tackled.

Kristi Harvey

The experienced full-back was a rock in defence and one of the standouts, particularly at the bookends of the game where the back 50 saw plenty of action. She took a number of contested marks, and then spread to offer an option to kick long with her raking kick an advantage to get out of trouble. She started the game on Katelyn Rosenzweig and was terrific one-on-one, but her ability to read the ball in flight and then take off when required was great. At one stage, she was beaten for speed against Alana Lishmund, but had the smarts to keep going and apply a tackle and win it back.

Laitiah Huynh

Huynh got better as the game went on and became a real factor in the second half of the match. Her quick hands in close were a standout with her ability to fire off a quick handball to a teammate under pressure, with a score assist via Tessa Kohn for a Jorja Eldridge goal in the third term. She set up another scoring chance to Lauren Clifton later in the term, and then was lively along the win in the final term. While she gave away a free kick for a tackle in the last quarter, she often teamed up with Central District teammate, Madison Lane and used her speed to advantage.

Jess Kirk

Did what you would expect South’s leading goalkicker to do and got front position early with a mark at the top of the square in the second term. She took the grab and protecting the ball drop, sent it home with four minutes remaining in the half to kick her side’s second goal of the contest. Kirk had another involvement in the third term when she scooped the ball off the deck for a quick snap but was marked on the goalline by Tahlia Meyer.

Tessa Kohn

The Glenelg midfielder had her moments, playing predominantly up forward and having a few chances on goal. A quick snap midway through the second term was bungled after a strong tackle from the opposition, but then a neat kick to the square set up Jess Kirk for a drought-breaking goal. She also locked the ball up inside 50 with a good tackle against two opponents to nullify the situation. Kohn had a direct goal assist in the third quarter with her kick going straight to Eldridge for a goal at the top of the square. Kohn switched into defence in the final term and was used on a number of occasions to kick outside 50, but was often sold into trouble against multiple opponents. Midway through the term, Kohn rushed through a behind for safety.

Brooklyn Kraft

The developing 182cm ruck/forward played permanently forward with Cutting taking the the ruck duties around the ground. Her first kick was intercepted going inside 50, but her next was the first goal for her side after a free kick inside 50. She converted from 20m out to draw within two points at that stage of the first term. Kraft bobbed up again with a second goal in the third term, winning a fortunate free kick because she tried to take the tackler on, slipped and the tackler fell in her back. Once again her perfect set shot routine won out and she kicked a second goal. She took a good mark on the wing in the final term, but rushed kicking and it was smothered by Tahlia Meyer, but showed off her long kick drifting to half-back later in the quarter.

Madison Lane

The Central District middle-age talent hit up Kraft with her first kick of the game in the first term, but became more lively later in the game. She was often looking for her Bulldogs teammates in Shelby Smith and Huynh, coming off half-back to spot them free on the wing. In the third term she was one of Marinoff’s best, mopping up in the back 50 and kicking long on multiple occasions. She was mowed down in a tackle by Grace Duffy after great work in a marking contest later in the quarter, then took a huge intercept mark on the wing in the dying moment to kick inside 50 and lead to the last goal of the game. Lane was just as prominent in the final term, and while on one occasion she was overzealous with a tackle to fall in her opponent’s back, she won it back with another tackle moments later. Her short kicking and work with Huynh down the outside was a feature of her game.

Kiana Lee

After a quieter first half, she won a fair few touches in the second half, particularly in the last term when she was handed a number of kick outs from defence. She won a free kick in defence and hit up Kraft, and then kicked long to safety from full-back, though Marinoff had plenty of numbers at the drop zone. She showed her strength in the air and her quick disposal with a handball out of a stoppage earlier in the game in the third term.

Jess Macolino

A superb performance by the inside midfielder and would have been among those considered for best on ground if they had awarded it. She put together a four quarter performance and used her hands in close and strength around the stoppages to have an impact. Time and time again she would be tackled, but remained upright and handballed off to a teammate to clear the ball out of congestion, which was vital for her side. She was a clear best-on in the second term, racking up the ball with ease and showed off her work rate to get to multiple contests in a passage of play. She set up a scoring chain by fending off an opponent inside 50 and handball to Huynh which eventually led to an Eldridge goal. Finally Macolino’s hard work had extra reward, getting on the end of a movement forward to win a free kick just before the final break, kicking a set shot goal from 35m out, which would end up being Marinoff and the game’s final goal.

Tesharna Maher

One of Marinoff’s best in the first quarter, she stood tall in the first term when her side was under-siege and played the percentages long towards the boundary line. She was often the first kick out of defence, and used her speed to take the game on. Whilst she missed the odd target, she showed what she can offer in spurts and certainly showed in in the first term.

Katelyn Pope

Her night ended early with a broken wrist in the fourth term, but showed her trademark speed and desire around the contest prior to that. Running hard down the wings and providing an option, Pope was used in transition as Marinoff got back on top in the match. In one instance she won a free kick on the wing, darted around Grace Duffy and went for a run to kick forward, having a number of inside 50s on the night.

Gypsy Schirmer

A highlight-reel player, the middle-age talent’s best moment came midway through the second term when she produced a massive run-down tackle in the middle of the ground, showing off her closing speed. Whilst she did not hit the scoreboard as she regularly can for South, Schirmer showed she will be one to watch next year having that defensive mindset to accompany her offensive prowess.

Bella Smith

A rock in defence, particularly early when Team Marinoff was under pressure. She touched what would have been a certain goal on the goal line to rush a behind, then took a strong contested mark at half-back and rebound well. She continued to have an impact throughout the game, and rolled forward in the third term to put the hands out to gather, but was immediately tackled. She had another goal-saving effort in the final term with a relieving kick out of the danger zone to Lane.

Emma Smith

Really prominent early as one of the few who was moving the ball in transition. While others took over as the game went on, Smith remained vigilant in her attack between the wing and half-forward. Her first instance in play was a great one-on-one contest to outbody her opponent and have a shot on goal with probably the weirdest run up. She stopped midway through the run up only metres from her opponent, then started again but her kick fell short and bounced on the line to remain in. Her work overhead was great, taking a number of strong marks, and then showed off her speed in the final term with a nice run, through it was intercepted going inside 50.

Shelby Smith

Did not look out of place roaming through the Marinoff midfield, and contributed with her attack on the ball and desire to win the footy. Often combining with her Central District teammates in Huynh and Lane, Smith found space on the wing and maintained a high work rate throughout the match.

Teagan Usher

Had a busy middle two quarters coming out of defence for Team Marinoff, and continually tried hard to move the ball quickly. Made a few mistakes and was caught early in the second term trying to take on Hannah Prenzler, but did well deep in defence late in the second term and then early in the third. She managed to hit up Jess Macolino at half-forward and kept the ball moving. Once she adapted to the speed – having missed a fair bit of footy this year – she played short and sharp passes which proved effective.

Andie Zbierski

Unlucky to give up a free kick in the second term for going in hard, Zbierski was able to gain plenty of experience out of the match having come from Whyalla in North Adelaide’s country zone. With plenty of development left, she will be one to watch for the future.

Team Hatchard:

Abbie Ballard

Worked hard throughout the game for not a great deal of reward, but was ever present cracking in and giving it her all. Her best quarter came in the final term when she had a number of inside 50s in an attempt to haul her team back into the contest. Spending time around the ground, once she went into the middle she had more of an impact and had a great kick inside 50 to hit up Rosenzweig leading out 20m late in the quarter.

Tahlita Buethke

Had some impressive moments throughout the game, being involved in one of her side’s first quarter goals, winning it at half-forward, then combining with Cristie Castle to get it to Brooke Tonon to run on and kick her second of the quarter. She had some great moments through the third term and was one of the best for her side in the quarter, often used as a link in the chain going forward. Copped a knock in the final term from a tackle but got up and was able to take her kick inside 50.

Rhiannon Busch

Reliable as ever, Busch did not need to rack up a heap of the ball to just play her role. She often nullified an opposition forward when the ball went in there, and showed some great defensive pressure. She laid a huge tackle in the back 50 in the final term, and her team won the ball as a result of her pressure. Then she showed her aggressive side with possession by intercepting it further up the ground in the last quarter and bombing deep, but the shot was rushed across the line by Tessa Kohn.

Cristie Castle

Might not have got on the board herself, but seemed to always be in the periphery whenever the ball went forward. The North Adelaide forward came out to attack the ball and whilst she was sold into trouble in the first term, managed to get the ball to Tonon who kicked the second goal of the game. Moments later, she beat two opponents and gave off quick hands to Lishmund who also finished off. Involved in those two early goals, the Hatchard forwards had a tougher day after quarter time, with Castle again bobbing up in the final term, copping a knock and ending up a bit sore, but bouncing up and continuing to compete.

Czenya Cavouras

Much like Campbell, had a game that you would expect of someone with her experience. A train-on player at the Crows, Cavouras is one of those players you know will play a four-quarter game and she did just that. There was not much flashiness about it, but her hardness and attack on the contest around the stoppage was rarely matched. She had a couple of strong moments where she just kept the ball moving forward and trying to crash through opponents to keep it live in the forward half, and then had a great shrug from a tackle and kick to Rosenzweig inside 50 in the third term. A fourth term intercept mark against a much taller Cutting showed how well she reads the play and is able to position herself so effectively in one-on-one contests. Her set shot from the intercept mark 45m out just fell short.

Julia Clark

Had some moments throughout the game and won a free kick on the wing for last-touch and kicked forward. Was able to utilise her speed on a number of occasions despite not winning a heap of the ball. Uses the ball well when she does have it.

Charlotte Dolan

The lively player did not have the usual time and space that she is afforded at SANFL Women’s level, but still had a number of highlights. In the second term she got down and won the ball out of a pack by hand to get it to Izzy Kuiper for a kick downfield. She then gave by hand to Grace Duffy not long after to go inside 50, and whilst in the third term she was sold candy by Alex Ballard at half-back, she mopped up the ball in defence late in the game, with a number of clever plays at ground level, and a free kick in a marking contest with five minutes remaining on the clock.

Grace Duffy

Played a good four quarter game and was lively early in the match, with the opening clearance of the game. She would drop back into defence to mop up and look to run down the field, winning plenty of it through the first half to be quite prolific. Often she would receive it in space and kick inside 50, then did well one-on-one against the dangerous Katelyn Pope to use her strength and tap it away from Pope to a teammate in space. She laid a huge tackle on Lane in the third term, and whilst she was sidestepped by Pope not long after, she did well to back up and create a contest. Duffy won a free kick in the final term when she was tackled and looked to create an extra number at each contest she attended.

Madisyn Freeman

The over-ager first appeared early in the second term with a free kick and 25m penalty inside 50 to try and give her side their fourth goal of the contest. Unfortunately the kick horribly skewed off the boot and went wide for a behind. She remained lively through the early stages of the term, winning a free kick, turning it over, but then pressuring the opposition at the next stoppage to win a free kick.

Izzy Kuiper

Her notes from the game were almost identical each time, went in hard and won the contested ball. The Sturt teenager did it time and time again and refused to back down from a challenge. Using her taller frame around the stoppages, she can win the ball with ease and showed during the second term, create scoring opportunities by kicking inside 50. Her intent and tackling pressure never waivers.

Alana Lishmund

The middle-age talent was one of the more prominent for Hatchard, kicking an opening term goal after great work by Castle against two opponents to get it free by quick hands to Lishmund who finished off with a great goal 15 minutes into the term to extend the lead to 14. Lishmund remained prominent after quarter time, beginning with a huge run-down tackle in defence in the second quarter. She laid another big tackle, this time inside forward 50. Managing to pick up touches around the ground, Lishmund was able to kick towards Rosenzweig midway through the third term, and then had a clean pick-up off the deck who kicked forward but was intercepted by Lane. A final term set shot resulted in one behind, whilst doing well later in the final stanza to keep the ball inside the lane in forward 50.

Tahlia Meyer

Able to stand out wearing the long socks, Meyer found plenty of the ball and was predominantly stationed in defence. She pushed up the ground when he side had more ascendancy, but was involved in a lot of attacking plays. Meyer played well to win the ball in dangerous positions for the opposition and safely exit the back 50 by foot. She was among the best on the field in the second term, as she did her best to restrict the damage done by Team Marinoff. Meyer worried the opposition early in the third term with a quick kick along the ground inside 50, but Rosenzweig could not quite get a proper shot on goal. Meyer pulled in a strong goal-saving mark on the goal-line after a quick snap by Kirk in the third term, and then smothered a ball on the wing off Kraft’s kick. She was so clean at half-forward in the final term, spotting up the loose Lishmund to hand her younger teammate a set shot on goal.

Tamsyn Morriss

Named among Team Hatchard’s best by the coaches, Morriss played her team role well. Possessing a terrific kick and an ability to run hard, she was involved in plays in transition and did what was asked of her on the night. She might not win as much of the ball as others, but she uses it well and can play just about anywhere on the field.

Jamie Parish

Took a strong mark in defensive 50 in the second term, and whilst she did not win a heap of it, gained a great deal of experience playing in a back 50 with a lot more experienced players. She played her role and rotated around despite having a quieter night.

Hannah Prenzler

Made her impact early with a charge through the middle and a willingness to take the game on. She kicked long down the guts and her work set up a vital goal to Brooke Tonon on the end of some handballs which had put the defence under pressure. When Teagan Usher tried to take her on at half-back, the Sturt talent was having none of it, laying a superb tackle and winning a free kick to kick deep. One of those players that does not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact and she showed that, because she is a natural metres-gained player.

Zoe Prowse

Had a great battle with the more experienced Cutting around the ground. Cutting had more influence early in the game, but Prowse won more after quarter time, laying some strong tackles and getting her hands dirty at ground level. She thrived in the air with her athletic leap. Prowse had a number of forward half possessions and was able to lock up a ball in the second term when Clifton was about to run into an open goal. With another year of development, the talented young ruck will be one to watch in 2021.

Katelyn Rosenzweig

The Central Districts forward was well held by Kristi Harvey early on when her side was on top, though the duel was entertaining between the two contested marking players. She did manage to get free and give the handball off to Zoe Venning in the opening term, but unfortunately her kick was marked on the line. Early in the third when she had more space, she gathered the ball and gave it to Buethke, but whenever the ball came in her direction, the defenders were often aware of her ability to hit the scoreboard and were quick to lay the tackle.

Rayne Rivalland

Played in defence and had a couple of noticeable moments. In the first term, Rivalland played a great passage of play by intercepting the ball under pressure and used it well by foot midway through the quarter. In the second term when under pressure, she had the sense to rush through a behind and help her team reset to kick out of defence. Lastly, she laid a great tackle in the back 50 to lock the ball up and force a stoppage for her side when Marinoff was attacking.

Erin Sundstrom

Really productive, particularly in the second half coming out of defence when Hatchard was under pressure. On a number of occasions she charged out of defence, and kicked long down the wing to safety. Showing her ability to pressure opponents with her closing speed, Sundstrom laid a great tackle on Kate Case who could not take the sliding mark, and it forced a ball-up inside the defensive 50.

Brooke Tonon

Finishing with two goals, Tonon was really lively in the opening term, with both her majors coming from running goals. The fast transition from Team Hatchard helped the middle-ager on this occasion, being on the end of a play and using her speed to create some distance between her and her opponent goalside. That resulted in her putting through the first major of the game in the third minute, and then made it two when Castle got the ball to her and she ran into another open goal in the last five minutes of the quarter. She almost set up a third goal with a nice kick inside 50 to a leading Zoe Venning, but unfortunately Venning missed the set shot. Tonon attacked the contest hard when inside 50, and whilst she did not get a great look at it after the first term – due to Marinoff’s dominance, she featured in the final term with a set shot from 35m that just fell short and was marked on the line.

Zoe Venning

One of Hatchard’s best even if it was an almost-game in the sense that she just fell short of kicking multiple goals. Nonetheless, Venning was lively, quick on the lead and strong in the air, just needed the extra touch of confidence when kicking for goal. She had an early touch off the first play going forward, and then had a couple of marks inside the fist five minutes. Her first set shot was touched on the line and then a quick snap with her second was marked on the line. A third shot on goal in the last minute again just fell short from 25m, but she was getting amongst it. Venning won an early free in the second term for her pressure, and remained busy rotating through the Hatchard midfield. She was beaten a couple of times one-on-one against more experienced opponents, but showed her class with a terrific kick inside 50 late in the game to hit-up Tonon leading out.

Amber Ward

The over-ager had a strong performance in the back half, and even went forward throughout the game to be a target, but it was her booming kick from half-back in the first term that set up an end-to-end goal for Tonon. Her tackling pressure was impressive, laying multiple tackles on opponents early in the second and kicking long inside 50. She had a minor slip in the final term but otherwise had a really solid game with her penetrating kicking and intercepting when needed.

Ashleigh Woodland

The midfielder-forward spent a fair chunk of time in defence in the match, trying to use her skill and run to impact the contest off half-back. She was not afraid to break the lines and use her booming kick to advantage, having a real impact in the first term as one of Hatchard’s best players. Whilst she was not able to ply her known scoreboard impact in the game due to her role, she certainly showed her versatility by spending minutes behind the ball. Unfortunately a head knock in the opening minute of the final term ended her night.

Matilda Zander

It was no surprise to see Zander covering a heap of ground and being one of the more prominent ball winners on the ground. Even in a losing team, the Norwood talent remained among the better players on the ground. She spent a great deal of time on-ball and combined well with Cavouras and Isobel Kuiper on the inside, then would also go forward and try and keep it moving. She had a flying shot at the goal in the final term but just missed to the right, her second behind of the contest after a first quarter miss. She was involved in the transition play going inside 50, setting up Venning with an early set shot, then had a neat kick to Ward early in the second term. Overall, she remained pivotal in Hatchard’s game plan and was always busy across the field.

Picture: AFL Media

Marinoff overruns Hatchard in impressive display of skills

BOOTING five of the final seven goals of the game, Team Marinoff enjoyed a come-from-behind victory over Team Hatchard in the 2020 South Australian AFL Women’s All-Stars match on Friday night. Under lights at Thebarton Oval, both teams put on a high quality game which featured the top AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls from across the state. Whilst Hatchard flew out of the blocks with three of the first four goals to lead by 14 points at quarter time, the yellow side kicked just six behinds for the rest of the game, as Marinoff piled on 5.1 in that time to run out 6.1 (37) to 3.8 (26) winners.

Whilst the result itself was clearly arbitrary fo the showcase of skills from South Australia’s best non-listed AFL Women’s talents, it did not stop players going in for a real crack across four quarters. In what was an even team performance, some of the standouts from Marinoff included Sturt’s Alex Ballard and North Adelaide’s Kristi Harvey who both controlled the defence. Central District’s Madison Lane worked into the game to being among the best, as was Norwood’s Jess Macolino through the midfield. For Hatchard, Alana Lishmund was a standout and remarkable for her age – having turned 17 last month – while Glenelg’s Grace Duffy, and other middle-age draft talents Zoe Venning and Brooke Tonon were also strong up forward.

The game started all on Hatchard’s terms with the booming kick of Amber Ward setting the yellow side up with an end-to-end play for Tonon to run onto it. About eight minutes later, Marinoff responded with its only goal of the first term through Brooklyn Kraft with the top-age ruck-forward winning a free kick and popping through her first of the night. Not to be outdone, Tonon got clear again after a long kick from Hannah Prenzler, and a 1-2 from Tahlita Buethke and Cristie Castle got it to the teenager to run on and nail the goal. Two minutes later, another talented teenager in Lishmund received the handball from Castle and did not let her down with the quick kick and goal. Whilst Venning had a number of chances in the first term, they kept falling short.

Despite the best efforts of Emma Smith, Marinoff could not get the ball moving deep enough, though the likes of Harvey and Bella Smith were holding up the defence. Tesharna Maher was getting her running game going, whilst Leah Cutting was doing well around the ground outside the stoppages. The experience of Ash Woodland was helping Hatchard, while Matilda Zander and Czenya Cavouras were winning plenty of the ball through midfield. At quarter time, the margin was 14 points in favour of Hatchard.

The second term was a reversal of the first as Marinoff kicked the only two goals of the quarter, and both came late. For the majority of the term, it looked as if Hatchard would remain in front off the back of some great work from Prenzler and Tahlia Meyer, with Isobel Kuiper getting involved through the middle. Alex Ballard remained a thorn in the side for team Marinoff, as she and Bella Smith were vigilant in defence, and the likes of Shelby Smith, Lauren Gauci and Tessa Kohn were all having an impact.

It was Gauci and Kohn who combined to get the ball to Jess Kirk, with the South Adelaide leading goalkicking positioning herself well at the top of the goalsquare to protect the ball drop then kick the regulation set shot 13 and a half minutes into the quarter. Not long after, Shelby Smith did well to stand up in a tackle, and with youngsters Huynh and Laura Clifton combining, gifted the latter a running goal from 40m to draw within two points at the main break.

The third term is often referred to as the premiership quarter, and it was certainly where Marinoff got the job done. They booted three goals – in fact the last three goals of the game – to not only take the lead, but race away to a 15-point advantage themselves. Jorja Eldridge had her moment by keeping front position at the top of the square, and the fend off from Macolino, handball to Huynh who fired it to Kohn for the quick snap landed in Eldridge’s arms. She went back and converted the set shot for Marinoff to hit the front for the first time. They never gave up the lead from there.

Eleven minutes into the quarter and Kraft won a fortunate free kick after trying to take on the tackler, slipped and the tackler fell in her back for a free kick 20m out straight in front. She popped through her second with such fluency, and the red team had some breathing space. When Macolino won a free kick in the last minute and then nailed the set shot from 35m, Marinoff was out to a 15-point advantage and looking incredibly good. It was off the back of Macolino’s stoppage work, and the run of Lane, Gauci and Katelyn Pope who were all influential in the term. For Hatchard, Buethke had really had an impact, while Erin Sundstrom, Duffy and Lishmund were again prominent.

The final term was an arm-wrestle predominantly in Hatchard’s forward half. With a number of injury stoppages and a few casualties from the game, the quarter went into the 23rd minute – six more than the intended no time-on 17-minute terms. Despite Hatchard kicking the only four behinds of the term – and realistically they should have edged a lot closer – Marinoff’s defence, once again led by Ballard and Harvey stood tall. Lane continued her form, working hard with Huynh on a number of occasions as the Central District teammates, along with Kohn were prominent.

For Hatchard, Lishmund finished off a terrific game, with Abbie Ballard, Duffy, Venning and Tonon all amongst the best again in the last term. The last kick of the game was a poster and fitting that Hatchard had got so close to kicking a major in the term, but fell agonisingly short. Overall, the showcase was a success with plenty to take away from the contest.

MARINOFF 1.0 | 3.1 | 6.1 | 6.1 (37)
HATCHARD 3.2 | 3.3 | 3.4 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

Marinoff: B. Kraft 2, J. Kirk, L. Clifton, J. Eldridge, J. Macolino.
Hatchard: B. Tonon 2, A. Lishmund.

ADC BEST:

Marinoff: A. Ballard, J. Macolino, K. Harvey, M. Lane, E. Smith, B. Kraft
Hatchard: A. Lishmund, G. Duffy, A. Ward, M. Zander, C. Cavouras Z. Venning

Picture: AFL Media

South Australian AFLW All-Stars to battle it out in blockbuster clash of talent

SOUTH Australia’s best young talents will have a chance to strut their stuff via the SANFL site tonight when 48 of the top talents from the state run around in an AFL Women’s All-Stars match. The teams are named after Adelaide stars, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff, with no AFL Women’s players, and those in their 16th year or younger playing in an under 16s showcase prior to this game.

For those Adelaide fans keen to get a glimpse as some of the players who received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, unfortunately two of the brightest stars will no be out there. Teah Charlton will miss the game due to injury, while Indy Tahau is unavailable due to other commitments. The others two players who received Draft Combine invitations – Amber Ward and Ashleigh Woodland will both front up for Team Hatchard, coached by North Adelaide premiership coach, Krissie Steen. We take a look at our potential line-ups, though it is anticipated players will be heavily rotated all across the field.

TEAM HATCHARD:

B: Rhiannon Busch – Erin Sundstrom – Julia Clark
HB: Charlotte Dolan – Amber Ward – Madisyn Freeman
C: Matilda Zander – Isobel Kuiper – Tahlia Meyer
HF: Tamsyn Morriss – Ashleigh Woodland – Hannah Prenzler
F: Cristie Castle – Katelyn Rosenzweig – Tahlita Buethke
R: Zoe Prowse – Czenya Cavouras – Abbie Ballard
INT: Alana Lishmund – Brooke Tonon – Jamie Parish – Rayne Rivalland – Zoe Venning – Grace Duffy

With players being so versatile, it is hard to pinpoint a number of players and where they will slot in. For the purpose of our hypothetical 24, any middle-agers (2003-born or later) are automatically on the bench, giving preference to those who are eligible to be picked up this year. The exception to the rule is Zoe Prowse who is the standout ruck not only on the team, but on the field as a whole. She is still only 17, but stands at 180cm and is the obvious choice to be starting ruck.

Ward is a reliable centre half-back with terrific intercepting capabilities. She was one of the more unlucky players not to be picked up in her draft year last year, but she is strong, positions herself well and is extremely good by foot. At the other end, Woodland has already tasted AFL Women’s experience with Melbourne, and, while it did not work out, it is no surprise to see the now 22-year-old as of Wednesday, being considered after winning the competition’s leading goalkicker award.

Another former AFL Women’s player in Katelyn Rosenzweig will play at full-forward, and the forward half as a whole is something to watch, with Tamsyn Morriss and Hannah Prenzler all able to play further up the ground. Prenzler and Morriss are both top-agers who can switch to the opposite end if need be, with Prenzler’s work off half-back and Morriss’ kicking among their eye-catching traits. Abbie Ballard onball is the other top-ager to keep an eye on with her hardness and precision left foot winning plaudits.

Charlotte Dolan running off half-back and along the wing provides great speed and determination to any side, while Julia Clark has become a reliable defender who uses the ball well and makes the right decisions. Tahlita Buethke is another top-age player who cracked into the strong South Adelaide team this year and would have been one to watch – as a dominant goalkicker at local level – at the championships had they occurred.

In terms of mature-agers, Erin Sundstrom often plays off half-back but due to her height – 174cm – she is one of the few likely to play in a key position role. Given her work with Ward back there in the SANFL Womens and with Steen coaching, the pair will make a strong duo. Matilda Zander is a small, tough midfielder who attacks the contest hard and runs all day. She was in line to play for Collingwood in the VFL, and with her former coach Steve Symonds at the helm for the Magpies, expect him to be watching this game carefully.

Some others who have caught the eye this season include Crows’ train-on player Czenya Cavouras who racks up the ball and is hard around the contest, over-ager Isobel Kuiper who will provide good height in midfield, and then the run of another over-ager in Madisyn Freeman. Tahlia Meyer‘s decision making through midfield going forward is superb, winning the preliminary final off her own boot such was her skill. Cristie Castle is a reliable mark and source of goals up front, with Rhiannon Busch as steady as they come down back – though she has the versatility to play at either end – much like Grace Duffy.

Of the 2003 group outside of Prowse, Venning is the top one to watch, regularly dominating through the midfield and half-forward, using her speed and strength to cause headaches for the opposition. Alana Lishmund will provide some rotation up forward, with Brooke Tonon also spending time there, and Jamie Parish showing great signs in the second half of the season for the Eagles. Rayne Rivalland rounds out the prospects as the youngest player on the team – not turning 17 until late November – which shows the depth of talent within South Australia.

TEAM MARINOFF:

B: Tesharna Maher – Kristi Harvey – Teagan Usher
HB: Lauren Gauci – Bella Smith – Tessa Kohn
C: Katelyn Pope – Shelby Smith – Emma Smith
HF: Laitiah Huynh – Kiana Lee – Alex Ballard
F: Jess Kirk – Brooklyn Kraft – Jade Halfpenny
R: Leah Cutting – Nicole Campbell – Jess Macolino
INT: Andie Zbierski – Jorja Eldridge – Kate Case – Lauren Clifton – Madison Lane – Gypsy Schirmer

Turning our attention to Team Marinoff, coached by former international cricketer and North Adelaide footballer Emma Sampson, there are plenty of strong marking key position players in the line-up. Like with Team Hatchard, the 2003-born players automatically got named on the bench as they still have another year to show off their remarkable talents. While none of the players in this team got a Draft Combine invitation, there are some that have certainly showcased their ability at past AFL Women’s Under-18 National Championships.

At either end are the contested marking Bella Smith and Kiana Lee, with ruck Brooklyn Kraft likely to spend time forward given Leah Cutting – Norwood’s star ruck – has been named in the team. Kraft provides extra height to the team at 182cm and will stretch the smaller Hatchard backline. Also coming off championships last year, Alex Ballard often plays at half-forward but can play just about anywhere, the same can be said for Emma Smith who we have named on the wing. Teagan Usher and Tesharna Maher are great runners out of defence, and Maher particularly has got a set of wheels that make her hard to catch.

Of the top-agers, Latiah Huynh is a raw prospect with terrific speed, great defensive pressure and a strong hardness at the contest. She can rotate between half-forward and wing, and often be the link in the transition between midfield and forward. Also in their top-age year is Jade Halfpenny who can play in all thirds of the ground, but given she can take a grab and knows where the goals are, she has been named forward. Jorja Eldridge and Andie Zbierski are the other top-agers named, with Eldridge coming from a basketball background but did not manage to crack into the strong North Adelaide senior outfit, while Zbierski has played predominantly country footy and not playing this year in the SANFL Women’s but did play four games last year.

From the mature-age perspective, Kristi Harvey lines up at her usual full-back spot and she has plenty of experience having played for Carlton’s VFL Women’s side as well as the successful North Adelaide line-up. Another strong contested mark and rebounder, Harvey will be hard to pass in the defensive end. Also back there is Lauren Gauci who will team up well with Roosters teammate Harvey, providing good dash out of defence, while Tessa Kohn is a natural inside midfielder, but has been trialed elsewhere including in defence, and expect her to get a bit of a taste everywhere. On the wing, Katelyn Pope is one of the quickest going around and the Roosters’ speedster will be hard to catch where she gets going.

A couple of the big improvers in 2020, Norwood’s Jess Macolino returned for her second season, and Shelby Smith made her debut and was one of Central District’s most consistent players all year. They will not take a backwards step and match the Hatchard midfield in hardness for the ball. Up forward, Jess Kirk had led the goalkicking up until injury cost her, but she is good overhead and usually a reliable set shot.

Of the middle-agers on the bench, Gypsy Schirmer provided some nice highlights as an athletic tall up forward for the Panthers this year, while Madison Lane continued her good work after captaining South Australia’s Under 16s side last year, and been a strong contributor for the Bulldogs. Lauren Clifton can provide some depth anywhere on the field, playing defence, forward or even on a wing, while Kate Case is another midfielder who could be one to watch in 2020 after some strong performances through midfield.

Along with Charlton and Tahau, others who would have earned spots but were either injured on unavailable for the clash include: inside midfielders, dual league best and fairest winner Rachelle Martin and talented teenager Maya Rigter; the versatile Jaimi Tabb and athletic utility Mattea Breed.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s season review: Sturt

STURT is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and who their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 6th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Draws: 1

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

Sturt made the decision not to include any AFL Women’s players in the second half of the season, instead focusing on the youth they had. It was a great result for the players going forward, as while they struggled, were able to still draw with Norwood and avoid the bottom two, whilst showing good improvement at times on a week-to-week basis. The Double Blues just struggled to score and that was ultimately the problem in the end, but they performed admirably all season.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Alex Ballard

A 17-year-old who is experienced at the level over the past three seasons progressing through the South Australian pathway, Ballard is a good ball user who can play multiple roles on the field. She does not win a heap of the ball, but can impact the scoreboard and provide defensive pressure often at half-forward or further up the ground.

Izzy Kuiper

A top-age midfielder who has the ability to play as that taller body around the stoppages, Kuiper took a step up in the 2020 season, providing great consistency throughout the year. She loves a tackle and can win her own ball at the coalface, whilst working hard across the ground to win touches in all thirds of the field.

Hannah Prenzler

Looked ultra-impressive off half-back early in the year and then was trialled up forward and presented well, Prenzler has the versatility to play in multiple positions. She used the ball well and provided good drive off half-back, also being confident in one-on-one situations.

Zoe Prowse

The top South Australian draft prospect for 2021, Prowse is an incredibly gifted athlete and one who when she can use her natural attributes, dominate around the stoppages. Prowse has a high vertical leap, and quick reactions to apply great second efforts with tackles, or just clear the ball herself from the ruck. Prowse can play forward if required, but was the clear standout player all year for the Double Blues, and is still a year off being drafted.

Maya Rigter

Unfortunately the co-captain was unavailable due to injury to play the All-Stars match, but she was among those who were initially nominated. At 19-years-old, Rigter led by example and had another terrific season for the Double Blues, often cracking in and winning the ball in contested situations, or playing defensive roles on opposition midfielders.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Georgia Bevan
  • Alysha Healy
  • Elsie Dawes
  • Georgia Swan
  • Jo-Anna Baltais

Aside from the ones making the All-Star game, former AFL Women’s player Georgia Bevan was the clear standout a the co-captain with Rigter. She always put in a four quarter performance and never let the side down with her effort. In defence, Alysha Healy and Jo-Anna Baltais settled the team when opposition sides were pressing, while Elsie Dawes provided the touch of class from half-back to the wing. Georgia Swan was a good target at half-forward, and at 16-years-old, is one who will be a player to watch for years to come.

Summary

Sturt might have struggled offensively throughout the season as the league’s lowest scoring side, but they held opposition teams to low scores themselves more often than not in a really strong defensive effort. The youth coming through the Double Blues program is evident to see and decision to play youth at senior level will pay dividends sooner rather than later.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s Round 10 review: Eagles avoid spoon as Norwood heads into finals with big win

WOODVILLE-West Torrens Eagles have avoided the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s wooden spoon after a last-round win against Sturt helped them leap into seventh on the table. Three of the top four sides all had wins heading into the post-season series, with South Adelaide accounting for its western rivals, while both North Adelaide and Norwood accumulated big victories.

WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.4 | 1.4 | 1.6 (12)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

West: R. Killian.
South: T. Charlton, C. Hammond, I. Tahau, G. Schirmer.

ADC BEST:

West: H. Maidment, A. Ballard, Z. Venning, S. Thompson, C. Biddell
South: J. Smith, N. Campbell, T. Meyer, L. Buchanan, S. Pratt

In what has become a typical South Adelaide performance, the reigning premiers played a consistent four-quarter effort to defeat third placed West Adelaide in what could be a finals clash at some point over the next few weeks. The Panthers capitalised with the breeze, slotting two goals in both the first and third quarters, and denying the Bloods a major when West Adelaide had the breeze. In what was a really strong defensive performance, South Adelaide kept its opponent to just six behinds after conceding what would be the only Bloods goal, in the opening minute of the match.

West Adelaide was quick out of the blocks to try and turn its poor form from last week around as Rachael Killian kicked the first major of the game after just 40 seconds. It came about after a couple of good touches from Stevie-Lee Thompson out of the middle and Abbie Ballard at half-forward. Unfortunately for the Bloods, that was where the first term dominance stopped.

South relentlessly attacked for the most part of the remainder of the term, adding a couple of goals in the opening term. After a couple of chances, including an Indy Tahau set shot, and a Hannah Munyard snap, it was Tahlia Meyer who set up an attacking play through an intercept mark on the wing that got things happening. The quick ball movement for the Panthers ended up in the hands of young gun Teah Charlton who easily converted from 30m out straight in front to put her team in front.

Four minutes later, Munyard was involved by marking uncontested inside 50, then waited for the running Cheyenne Hammond to cross her path to give her off the handball and she slotted the goal on the move. Down by nine points and the momentum with South, West began to attack more down the ground, with Zoe Venning and Keeley Kustermann pushing up and causing headaches for the opposition. Charlie Scutchings had a quick snap but it missed to the right.

The second term the Westies had a bit more of a breeze advantage and took complete control of the term, but neither side could really capitalise in front of goal. Kasia Culhane had the best opportunity 20m out straight in front off a free kick but she shanked it and the ball was knocked through for a behind in the square. By half-time the Panthers held onto a straight-kick lead, 2.4 to 1.4. Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan had been superb in defence, Nicole Campbell was busy through the midfield and Charlton always threatening. For the Westies, Abby Hardwick also had a chance to capitalise but was dragged down, while Helen Maidment and Chelsea Biddell were keeping a high line.

South won the game in the third term, taking its chances with the breeze, booting a couple of important goals to create separation and a three-goal lead at the last chance. As much as West tried, they could not have a meaningful deep chance, with the Panthers’ defence up to the task through Buchanan, Lucy Northcott and Samantha Pratt – who laid a terrific tackle on Thompson inside 50.

Instead it was youngster Tahau who launched a ripping bomb from 50m after a lookaway handball over the top from a teammate and her shot bounced home with some help from Charlton in the goalsquare. Five minutes later, Gypsy Schirmer created something out of nothing with a snap on the outside of the boot to break up what had a been a bit of an arm-wrestle. The term was highlighted by Montana McKinnon‘s return and starting to get into it with a couple of crucial intercept marks, whilst Thompson was desperately trying to create something for the losing side with her speed but could not quite finish it off.

The last term mirrored the second with neither team able to score despite the Bloods having the bulk of the forward half possession. Thompson won a free kick from 50m out and kicked towards a one-on-one in the square, but cleared the packed and went out. Brianna Wedding and Pratt racked up some important touches, while the likes of Smith and Buchanan continued to work hard.

Schirmer had a chance of her own for the Panthers but just fell short and while Maidment led a really strong defensive unit, it would be South’s work with the breeze that proved the difference, as West booted six straight behind since the goal in the opening minute, and South booted all four remaining majors for the match. Munyard, Campbell and Charlton were all superb in the front half, while the collective of the back six was equally impressive.

 

NORWOOD 4.0 | 6.4 | 9.8 | 9.9 (63)
GLENELG 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS:

Norwood: K. Fenton 3, M. Zander, N. Allen, J. Davies, L. Bigg, S. Armistead, M. Breed.
Glenelg: C. Gould.

ADC BEST:

Norwood: S. Armitstead, N. Allen, M. Zander, M. Breed, J. Macolino
Glenelg: D. Varnhagen, L. Armitage, M. Freeman, C. Gould, T. Kohn

Norwood has grabbed third spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder with a dominant 56-point win over Glenelg at Coopers Stadium. The Redlegs knew coming into the match they would face West Adelaide in a do-or-die semi-final, but finished off the way they wanted to with a commanding performance in front of home fans.

Norwood produced a dominant first half at Coopers Stadium where the Redlegs hardly gave Glenelg a chance. Piling on six goals to zero in the opening half and not allowing the Tigers to even register a score, the home team was in fine form. Kate Fenton booted two of those majors, with the zippy Matilda Zander also adding a goal in the opening term with a snap three minutes into the contest. Both Zander and Sophie Armitstead had big opening quarters in the match, while Mattea Breed and Leah Cutting were also controlling play around the ground.

For Glenelg, Lucy Armitage was trying hard, and Madisyn Freeman looking to create some run, but the Redlegs midfield took control against an onball division missing both Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones. Fenton kicked her couple of goals with one coming off a step and then another after some great team play, before Fenton got one in the dying moments for the last kick of the quarter to put her side four goals up at the first change.

The second term belonged to Norwood, controlling the play from the first whistle, and whilst Glenelg had some inside 50s, and even spent some time locked in there early in the term, the Bays could not get on the board. Tessa Kohn and Deni Varnhagen had some nice moments kicking forward, but the work of Zander, Armitstead and Najwa Allen – who by her standards had a quiet first term – had now popped up and was winning a truckload of the ball. It was Allen who broke the goal drought in the first half of the term with an important major, and then Cutting had a great tap down to Jade Davies a couple of minutes later for Norwood to capitalise again.

Sensing the game was slipping away, the Bays tried to steal back some of the momentum, but the defensive efforts of Armitstead and Shai Hiscock – who laid a great tackle in the back 50 – made it hard for the Tigers. Brooke Tonon, Sam Franson and Lauren Kenny had their moments in the term as well, with Tonon having a shot after the siren. Unfortunately for the teenager she was practically in the third row of the grandstand and with the siren blown, she had to keep her line and the banana kick cannoned into the behind post. At half-time, the scores read 6.4 (40) to 0.0 (0).

If the game was not done and dusted by the main break, then Norwood definitely put an exclamation mark on the performance in the third term, with three more goals, two of them coming in the last five minutes of the term. Glenelg started well with an early couple of chances but could only muster up one behind, whilst Norwood absorbed the pressure of the opening five minutes then dominated after that, and Glenelg was on the back foot.

There were a lot of rushed kicks out of the back 50 from the Tigers as they desperately held on, and eventually a quick kick off the line by the Bays was marked by Lindsay Bigg midway through the term and she delivered with her set shot just getting past Soriah Moon on the line. Bigg had a second chance minutes later with a set shot from 25m on a bit of an angle but it started left and never went back. By that point, the Redlegs had booted 1.4, but later goals to Armitstead – off a terrific low dart from Allen – and Breed – who ran into an open goal in the last few minutes – handed the home team a 61-point lead at the break. Cutting had the chance to extend that just before the siren, but her 45m distance fell short and was spoiled away on the siren.

The last term was a real dour affair, with Glenelg actually having the bulk of the play. But much like the opening three terms, the Bays could not capitalise on their chances, with the only major coming in the last two minutes when Caitlin Gould took a strong mark and converted the set shot for Glenelg’s last major of the season. The Bays went down by 56 points, and while they miss out on finals this year, at least finished by outscoring the Redlegs in the final term. Norwood had a number of chances going forward, but only kicked the one behind, not that it mattered in the 9.9 (63) to 1.1 (7) victory.

NORTH ADELAIDE 2.4 | 3.8 | 4.14 | 7.17 (59)
CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 (6)

GOALS:

North: A. Woodland 4, B. Perry 2, C. Taylor.
Central: R. Richardson.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Woodland, K. Harvey, B. Perry, H. Ewings, C. Taylor
Central: M. Lane, D. Sonneman, N. Biagi, L. Huynh, S. Murphy

In rounding out the 2020 season, North Adelaide finished the year with a 10-0 win-loss record thanks to a 53-point win over Central District. Despite the score, the Roosters were not afforded their usual freedom at times with the Bulldogs’ pressure right up there. North Adelaide also missed a lot of chances the Roosters would normally nail, and made it a closer game, but to restrict the top team to four goals in three quarters was regardless a great effort by Central.

With North Adelaide having already secured the minor premiership, the Roosters just had an unbeaten season on the line, whilst Central District was hoping to finish its year on a high after a promising second half to 2020. Whilst North always looked like winning, there were large patches where the Bulldogs matched it with the Roosters, giving Central positives heading into the 2021 season.

A couple of early behinds to North might have been ominous, but the Bulldogs defence, led by Nicola Biagi and Demi Sonneman held up well. Biagi had a couple of really good moments from intercept marks to shepherding her teammates, whilst Sonneman provided the drive off half-back. Kelly Barltrop was looking dangerous one-on-one inside 50, taking a couple of marks but instead giving off to a leading Charlotte Taylor in the 11th minute of the term for the Roosters to break what had been a real struggle in the opening 10 minutes.

They almost had another when Cristie Castle‘s bouncing ball headed towards goal to bounce over the head of the Central defender for Mollie McKendrick to snap at the top of the goalsquare. Unfortunately her snap skewed off the side of the boot for a behind, and then when in an almost identical situation moments later, put it through. Unfortunately for the red and white, the goal would not count as Central was awarded a free kick and ran it out of defence. North would put a second goal on the board however, as Ash Woodland marked 30m out straight in front after finding space and slotted the goal for a 16-point lead.

If one could not see the scoreboard, nor know anything about the competition prior to the match, you would assume these two sides were evenly matched. The Bulldogs were really taking it up to the Roosters, and had it not being for a clumsy late bump on Woodland, Central was poised to avoid conceding a goal to the minor premiers. Unfortunately the free was paid and with loose players forward of the ball, Britt Perry marked straight in front and with the last kick of the goal put through a breakthough major.

The goal was the first after four straight behinds for the Roosters, as Central’s Shelby Smith, Latiah Huynh and Sonneman had been ultra-impressive through the term. If they had not conceded the goal, it would have been the first time since March 14 that North had not kicked a goal in a quarter. But nonetheless, Central had held the usually high-powered scoring machine to just 3.8 in the first half, and whilst they had failed to score themselves, the Bulldogs had their own chances inside 50, but just could not finish off. Heading into half-time, Central would have been confident given their first half play.

The third term was one that could have blown the margin well out of proportion for the Roosters, but a remarkable six straight behinds from the minor premiers only marginally increased the difference between the sides. Yet again the Bulldogs could not score, but had done so well defensively to force misses from their usually-accurate opposition. It was not until an inside 50 and a favourable bounce for the Roosters saw Castle the beneficiary and Madison Lane the unlucky Central defender, as Castle handballed to Woodland to kick her second major of the contest with just two minutes remaining in the term.

The Roosters had a chance for back-to-back goals when Lauren Daniel took on Sonneman at half-forward and kicked to a one-on-one by Lane was up to the task and forced a stoppage. When the siren sounded moments later, North led 4.14 (38) to 0.0 (0) and realistically if the shots had been on target it could have been an ugly scoreline, but it was also credit to the Bulldogs’ defensive pressure to force mistakes.

The flood gates opened a bit more in the final term as the Roosters booted three final quarter goals as they finished the game with a remarkable 24 scoring shots to one. Perry slotted a her second goal four minutes into the quarter which was the quickest start for North in a term thus far. In a relieving effort, Renae Richardson was on the end of a nice end-to-end play from Central as Katelyn Rosenzweig hit up her teammate in the goalsquare and Richardson booted her third goal in two weeks to ensure the Bulldogs went out with a goal on the board.

Woodville-West Torrens came in and kicked a couple of goals to end the term, both on the run with one just strolling into goal, whilst another was a clever snap in the last few minutes. Whilst Woodland’s four-goal haul was superb, and Perry was terrific with her two majors and setting up numerous scoring opportunities, Kristi Harvey was one of the best on with her intercept ability, while Ewings and Daniel were others who stood out. for the Bulldogs, Lane was strong one-on-one, while Sonneman and Biagi were great in the back six, and Huynh and Allan consistent throughout. Zoe Perry was another Bulldogs player who laid a couple of big tackles and showed great signs in the final game of the year. In the end, North Adelaide saluted 7.17 (59) to 1.0 (6)

 

STURT 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
WWT EAGLES 0.3 | 1.8 | 1.8 | 3.13 (31)

GOALS: 

Sturt: H. Prenzler, J. Wittervan.
WWT: C. Forby 2, K. Lee.

ADC BEST:

Sturt: Z. Prowse, H. Prenzler, T. Hough, I. Kuiper, T. Prenzler
WWT: C. Forby, K. Lee, A. Falkenberg, C. Dolan, R. Forth

Woodville-West Torrens has avoided the 2020 SANFL Women’s wooden spoon after a last round victory against Sturt at Peter Motley Oval. It was the Eagles’ second win for both the season and in the club’s history after beating Glenelg back in Round 4 just prior to the break. By winning, the Eagles sentenced Central District to last place by percentage, and showed they are on the improve after a winless 2019 inaugural season.

The match was a scrappy affair and not alway accurate, as the Eagles booted 3.13 (31) to 2.4 (16), taking until the final term to really stamp the authority on the game with a couple of crucial majors in the last 10 minutes guaranteeing them the win. Sturt had led at both quarter time and three quarter time in a seesawing contest, and while the Double Blues managed to have greater accuracy, had far less time in their forward half – albeit from a third term dominance – and therefore were unable to come away with the win.

Sturt started the match in fine form with Hannah Prenzler booting the opening goal just 64 seconds into the match. It would be the only major for the first term as the teams combined for five straight behinds to head into quarter time, 1.2 (8) to 0.3 (3) in favour of the home side. Charlotte Dolan was providing good run early for the eagles, while Jovanka Zecevic, Amie Blanden and Anastasia Falkenberg were all getting their hands on the ball in the opening quarter. Sturt had more than its fair share of opportunities, with one shot hitting the post from a metre out, and then another shot – when Isobel Kuiper and Alex Ballard combined – falling short in the last couple of minutes. Co-captain Georgia Bevan had the last shot of the match but it was off-line for a behind to make it a five-point ball game.

Just two minutes into the second term and Chloe Forby – who had been solid to that point – took a flying shot from outside 50 and somehow there was no one in the goalsquare and it bounced home for a long-range beauty. It handed the Eagles the lead early in the quarter, and they dominated possession, scoring five consecutive behinds to end the first half. Realistically, the Eagles should have been in front by even more than that six behinds, as Forby, Bronwyn Davey and Kiana Lee all had chances to add more majors to the board.

The pressure from Sturt’s defence had to be commended though, with the likes of Taylor Prenzler and JoAnna Baltais settling things down deep in the back 50. Dolan and Forby were among the best Eagles, while Tesharna Maher provided great run off half-back and Zoe Prowse was dominating from the ruck to around the ground.

Unlike the opening half, Sturt took full control of the third term, keeping it in the forward half for the majority of the contest, and holding the Eagles scoreless in the term. It was enough for Jaimee Wittervan‘s goal – a mark and set shot 20m out – to be the turning point and put the Double Blues in front at the final change. Lee was trying hard on the last line, while Jamie Parish was impressing for the Eagles. Prenzler and Prowse continued their good form in the third term for the home team as Sturt as in the box seat, albeit with a narrow two-point lead.

Unfortunately for the home fans, the final term was a reverse of the third one as the Eagles took control from the opening bounce and after a couple of behinds – a rushed one and a set shot from Zecevic – the scores were all tied up. Renee Forth had been a consistent performer throughout the game and continued to apply pressure, as did Falkenberg who forced a miskick in the fifth minute and eventually a turnover. Hannah Prenzler and Tiah Hough were busy through the middle third, but the game finally had another goal when on the counter attack, a kick inside 50 had the Sturt defence outnumbered three to two. The ball hit the deck as two bodies fell, Forby picked up the ball and with the help of a Lee shepherd, booted through another.

Sealing the match four minutes later, Forby was again involved with an intercept handball and kicked deep to the goalsquare where this time the number 18 returned the favour for Lee with a good kick and last year’s club leading goalkicker did not let her down from 15m out. The two-goal term and holding the Double Blues scoreless in the quarter saw the Eagles get up, 3.13 (31) to 2.4 (16).

SANFL Women’s weekend preview: Round 10 – Four teams bid 2020 farewell as final round takes place

FINALS are set in stone for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, and for Glenelg, Sturt, Central District and Woodville-West Torrens, it is the end of the road with the season completed by Saturday evening. For the four other sides, their seasons are very much alive with both finals opponents set in stone, as North Adelaide should host South Adelaide next weekend, whilst depending on results this weekend, West Adelaide and Norwood will jostle for home ground honours in their respective clashes.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, August 1, 9.30am
Hisense Stadium

In the game of the round, two sides that could well face off at some point during the finals series go at it in Round 10 for a blockbuster clash. Both sides welcome back some big guns for their teams, as Abbie Ballard returns for West Adelaide, while Montana McKinnon has been named for her first Panthers game since returning from injury after the long break. South has also take the chance to blood Willunga debutant Kristen Rothwell, who joins a ridiculous amount of talent coming in. Not only is McKinnon a boost to the reigning premiers, but vital midfielder Czenya Cavouras, and reliable young defender Samantha Pratt return from one-week injury issues, while Lucy Northcott is also back in the team after missing for work purposes. Among the outs are Madison Bennett and Brooklyn Kraft with the former being managed ahead of the finals series.

This clash will be a perfect tune up for the sides ahead of finals, and South Adelaide are humming quite nicely at the moment, getting the job done without being dominant, but just controlling play and doing enough to keep the opposition at arms-length. West Adelaide had looked super impressive up until a bit of a stumble last weekend, when they realistically kicked themselves out of the game and did not have their usual time and space that makes the Bloods so damaging. The game will be potentially won and lost in the midfield with Ballard, Rachelle Martin and Zoe Venning going head-to-head with Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, whilst Hannah Munyard proved to be an inspiration down forward last week. Still missing Jess Kirk, the Panthers will need to combat the strength of the West Adelaide forward line which includes Chelsea Biddell, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Kasia Culhane. Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann off half-back will provide some good speed and skill, whilst Pratt and Lisa Whiteley will do the same up the other end.

South Adelaide is the more reliable choice in this match, as you know what the Panthers will produce. West Adelaide could certainly win this clash if the Bloods can play at their best, but cannot afford to play at the same level as last week or the Panthers will be too strong and make the most of their opportunities.

STURT vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Peter Motley Oval

Neither of these sides can push for finals, but the Eagles have a chance to get off the bottom of the table with a win against the Double Blues, whilst Sturt can move up to fifth on the table with victory. Alex Ballard is one of three inclusions for the double Blues, whilst the Eagles have taken the opportunity to blood a debutant in their final game, with SMOSH West Lakes’ Alysha Fitzgerald coming in and slotting into the back pocket while the absence of Stephane Walker who is out with concussion will be missed.

As the two lowest scoring sides, this could be a real arm-wrestle, but also a territory game. Both sides enjoy the defensive aspects with heavy pressure and lots of strong tackles. Zoe Prowse is in ripping form and likely to have another field day through the ruck, whilst the midfield battle between the likes of Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Isobel Kuiper against Renee Forth, Anastasia Falkenberg and Jovanka Zecevic will be a fascinating one. Kiana Lee has been named at full-forward, and no doubt the Sturt defence led by Larissa Schenscher and JoAnna Baltais will make life difficult for here. Tesharna Maher and Charlotte Dolan provide some good speed for the Eagles, whilst the Double Blues have an abundance of youth, which includes the likes of Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler who can all play in multiple positions.

This game is arguably the hardest to tip because both have had big losses to North Adelaide in recent weeks, but Sturt drew with Norwood the week before, so should start favourites. The Eagles are better than a one-win season side, but will need to show it here to double their wins tally in 2020.

 

NORWOOD vs. GLENELG
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Coopers Stadium

In what will likely be the second best game of the round, Norwood hosts Glenelg for a chance at grabbing third spot and returning to Coopers Stadium a week later against the Bloods. With South Adelaide every chance to take the points against West Adelaide, the Redlegs can pounce and grab third and all they need is a win. For Glenelg, the Bays might have missed out on the chance to play for a finals spot this round, but knocking off Norwood in the last round would be satisfying. Norwood has lost a bit of talent up forward with captain Alison Ferrall and Alana Lischmund both out of the side, meaning the Redlegs will need to shuffle the magnets around. Chloe Karamoshos and Cassandra Tsoumbris have been named in the starting side with an extended bench ahead of the clash, whilst the Bays have also named an extended bench, but will still be without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones to close out the season.

Without two of their clever forwards in Ferrall and Lischmund, Norwood will have to think outside the box, and potentially get the midfield group to hit the scoreboard, as Jess Macolino and Matilda Zander can do from time to time. Mattea Breed is a strong contested mark and will likely spend time down there, whilst Najwa Allen can also play deep if required. Another option is throwing either Bella Smith or Leah Cutting into attack to provide some height and strength in the air, while Tessa Hankinson provided some liveliness inside 50 last week. The Glenelg defence does well with its rotations as Deni Varnhagen, Ellie Kellock and Lucy Armitage can all rotate through their from the middle, while Caitlin Gould can play either end, but is more damaging up forward after spending time in the ruck. Tessa Kohn was terrific last week, whilst the young brigade in Sam Franson, Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon were also impressive and provide some exciting moments.

Both teams are missing some quality players, but there is more on the line for Norwood so it makes sense to lean the way of the Redlegs, though Gould is a player who can turn a match. Without their couple of other game-breakers in Jones and Marinoff it will make life a little tougher.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, August 1, 1.15pm
Coopers Stadium

There is no denying this is a huge challenge for Central District. The Bulldogs are a really improved side this season, with the losses a lot more competitive and their best ultra-impressive. Last round they were super, and if they had finished off in front of goal, they would have really pushed the Panthers. In saying that, this North Adelaide side is quite simply a machine at the moment. They have not conceded a goal in eight quarters, and quite frankly destroyed both Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Central District has proven it has more capability to score than both those sides, but they have to get on top in the midfield. They have brought in Nicola Biagi and Nikki Cullen with Ella Mickan and Caitlen Teague out of he side, while the Roosters will be without their star in Anne Hatchard for the final game of the regular season. Never mind that too much because they bring in a former competition leading goalkicker in Kelly Barltrop, as well as their in-from first season ruck, Bek Rasheed to provide greater strength through the middle.

There are many reasons why North can win this game, but the greater analysis is what can Central do to try and cause the biggest upset of the season? The Bulldogs must win the midfield battle and be unpredictable going forward. Shelby Smith, Alicia Butler and Sarah Allan have a great mix of different attributes through the middle from their toughness, speed and penetrating kick that can hurt opposition onball groups in many ways. Without Hatchard in the middle, it takes away the player you know is going to rack up 30-40 touches which is already a plus. But the speed of Hannah Ewings, the class of Ash Woodland and the tenacity of Leah Tynan, before you even get to the wingers in Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet who can both roll forward, the Roosters have depth like no other side. The forward line is so damaging you can try and stop one player and another will pop up. No one has been able to stop the Roosters all season. But while offensively North is a super side, the Roosters also have an unbelievable defence. Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey are rocks back there, which will be why Central has to be smart using the ball forward. Talia Radan and Lauren Gauci add some extra strength to the defensive back six, which is why any opposition to North Adelaide has to be efficient.

North Adelaide is just too big, too strong and too good, but despite this being a top against second bottom clash, this actually could be exciting. Central District is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and go all-out, and realistically, that is what you have to do against the Roosters. Given the Roosters have nothing to lose other than a perfect regular season, the Bulldogs could really pounce. In saying that, North has not even come close to looking vulnerable in the past few weeks and should win comfortably. However you can guarantee the game will be close than the past couple of weeks because this Bulldogs side is one to watch next season.