Tag: ally morphett

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Murray Bushrangers

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at the Murray Bushrangers, who despite losing the first round match to Oakleigh Chargers by 50 points, bounced back to weather a huge number of inside 50s and draw with Western Jets.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Oakleigh Chargers by 50 points
R2: drew with Western Jets
R3: Bye.

They came away from the first two rounds with a couple of points, but the improvement from the first week to the second was noticeable, and the Bushrangers would have liked to keep the momentum going for the rest of the season. They put together an even team effort and we have highlighted a number of players who stood out throughout the matches.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Mikayla Jones (12.5 disposals, 2.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 4.5 inside 50s)

The top ball winner across the matches, Jones was impressive in the midfield, averaging the 12.5 disposals and 4.5 inside 50s to ensure her team could get service in the forward line. She worked hard across the ground to win the ball and feed it forward, and while many of her teammates were on the defensive end getting it to midfield, Jones was the leading player getting it inside 50.

Grace Hay (11.5 disposals, 4.0 marks, 1.5 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 4.5 rebounds)

Had a best on ground performance in Round 2 against Western Jets with a remarkable defensive effort deep in defence. In just her second game with the Bushrangers, Hay had 19 disposals, seven marks and eight rebounds in a huge effort to defend the continual forward thrusts by the Jets. She is still a bottom-ager with two years left in the pathway, but that did not stop her influence so far, recording 11.5 disposals, 4.0 marks and 4.5 rebounds from her two games.

Kate Adams (12.0 disposals, 1.5 marks, 3.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds, 1 goal)

The clever forward showed she can play just about anywhere on the ground, winning the ball through midfield and also playing in defence at times to assist her teammates. She managed to get on the scoreboard herself with a major, but it was her work up the ground, and particularly her defensive running that stood out across the games as her versatility was a real highlight in season 2020.

Ally Morphett (7.0 disposals, 1.5 marks, 13.5 hitouts, 1.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds)

In the absence of Olivia Barber in Round 2, Morphett became the leading tall on the ground as the other key position AFL Women’s National Academy member for the Bushrangers. Playing predominantly through the ruck, Morphett had the 15 hitouts on the day, and averaged 13.5 for the season thus far, using her strength and size to get it down to her midfielders. Still a middle-ager, Morphett has another season to perfect her ruck craft and spend more time forward as well.

Zali Spencer (11.0 disposals, 1.0 marks, 1.5 hitouts, 3.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 2.0 rebounds)

A really consistent player across the two games and deserving of a spot in the five. While there could have been a number of players to slot in here, her performance, particularly in the second game, was quite impressive and she finished with an average of 11 disposals, three tackles and two rebounds. Able to play through the midfield or drift around the ground, Spencer certainly contributed in the shorter season and was a great team player.

Others who have stood out: Keeley Skepper, Mindy Quade, Lily Sharp, Olivia Barber

As one of the most impressive bottom-agers in the crop, Skepper followed on from her strong performance at the Under 16 Championships match against Vic Metro last season with a strong start to the season. She still has two more years in the system and will be one to watch over that time, while defender, Quade was relentless in the back 50 picking up eight rebounds in Round 1, while Sharp was fierce at the contest and in close. Barber only played the one game but was worth mentioning because of her impact, booting a goal and making the most of her starved opportunities with seven touches and three marks.

2020 NAB League Girls Team of the Week: Round 2

IN a new-look amalgamation of Draft Central‘s Team of the Week and player notes, we name our Round 2 NAB League Girls’ Team of the Week and explain why each player has been chosen. The 24-player team returns with three emergencies this year and all notes are opinion-based of the individual Draft Central writer. For Round 2, Dandenong Stingrays leads the way with four players in the side, followed by Round 2 winners, Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons all had three, whilst the two drawn sides in Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets, as well as Geelong Falcons also had three. Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers had one representative with the former also earning an emergency, whilst Tasmania Devils had the one emergency after their big loss in their inaugural game.

BACKS:

Kasey Lennox (CC) – 14 disposals, 3 marks, 1 tackle, 6 rebounds
Calder’s top player on the day, Lennox was a lynchpin at half-back where she was able to rebound time and time again and run the ball out of the back 50. She won her fair share of possessions with 14, but had the six rebounds which was crucial in her side staying in the contest for as long as it did. The Cannons have a strong defence and Lennox is a key cog in that unit.

Zoe Hill (DS) – 11 disposals, 3 marks, 3 tackles, 5 rebounds
A rock in defence and not only does she beat her opponents one-on-one, but she provides offensive rebound and usually hits her targets out of the back 50. Rarely looking stressed on the last line, she is one of Dandenong’s most important players given her role and she played it brilliantly on the weekend.

Annie Lee (GF) – 18 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 7 rebounds
Was a rock in defence despite the overwhelming force of the ball coming in, and recorded the most rebounds on the day of any player. Often getting back under pressure, Lee was able to win plenty of the ball and propel it forward. Still only 16, the 168cm player has a nice offensive game to go with her defensive capabilities.

HALF-BACKS:

Grace Hay (MB) – 19 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 8 rebounds
The standout Bushie on the day, Hay was instrumental in ensuring Murray came away with some points. With the game tight and on the line, it was the defence that stood out, and Hay was a massive part of that with 19 disposals. seven marks and eight rebounds. Across the course of the day, Hay refused to let her opponent get the better of her, and really stood tall amongst a whopping 36 inside 50s and was a huge reason why Murray drew.

Annabel Strahan (BP) – 18 disposals, 3 marks, 4 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 rebounds
A solid option for the Pioneers in a tough match, Strahan was the leading disposal winner for Bendigo off half-back with her ability to find the footy a real credit to her vision and willingness to take on the play to win ball back. Collecting five rebounds, she lead the way with her tenacity and ability to hit up targets to propel the footy downfield.

Sarah Hartwig (SD) – 20 disposals, 6 marks, 7 tackles, 1 inside 50, 2 rebounds
With class and speed to match, Hartwig is a real instigator on the field, ready and willing to get right into the contest and is able to cleanly hit up targets with her clever ball use. Her tackle count was among the best on field, leading the charge for the Dragons while her overall dominance off the half back created plenty of opportunities for the side to run away with the win.

CENTRES:

Isabelle Pritchard (WJ) – 25 disposals, 7 tackles, 3 hitouts, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
Another prolific day for the AFL Women’s Academy member who laid an impressive seven tackles in the Jets’ draw with Murray. She had a game-high 25 disposals on the day and was a dominant inside player throughout the contest with her clean hands and creativity. Whilst in this team she has been forced out to a wing given the strength inside, she would be a handy player with her skills and run.

Tyanna Smith (DS) – 29 disposals, 5 marks, 7 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 rebound
The star of the show on the weekend and another Best on Ground performance with her ability to burst away from the contest and  impact the game with her slick skills. Smith earned out Draft Central NAB League Girls Player of the Week award for her unbelievable effort which saw her rack up 29 touches, seven inside 50s, five marks and seven tackles despite being closely watched by the opposition at stoppages. The standout player from teh weekend and a natural match-winner.

Montana Ham (WJ) – 23 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 2 hitouts, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound
Another standout on the day for Western in the Jets’ draw with Murray, Ham provides great run through the midfield and is able to pump the ball long inside 50. She has that touch of class and with some extra height compared to other midfielders, she has as much ability above her head as below it. Can just about play anywhere and still has a couple of years in the program which is exciting.

RUCKS:

Ally Morphett (MB) – 9 disposals, 2 marks, 1 tackle, 15 hitouts, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
There was a noticeable low in hitouts across the competition as ruck duties were shared around, but what earned Morphett the spot as the starting ruck was her ability to cover the ground. She can play as a key forward, but her work rate on the weekend was strong, also picking up a number of rebounds and inside 50s to go with her 15 hitouts and in a game where the performance was evenly spread, she did well.

Ellie McKenzie (NK) – 17 disposals, 5 marks, 3 inside 50s, two rebounds
Judged the Knights’ best in their win over the Falcons, McKenzie was a star through the midfield with her power and class around the ball. She was able to pump the ball forward and win it across all areas of the ground. Her offensive game really got the Knights going and were able to set up opportunities inside 50.

Laura Gardiner (GF) – 31 disposals, 3 marks, 9 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 5 rebounds
Racked up a competition-high disposals for the second consecutive week and was prominent on the inside with 31 touches, nine tackles and an even five inside 50s and five rebounds. Those kind of numbers are hard to ignore and she is easy to spot on the inside with her ability to get the ball out to teammates and set them up with quick handballs. Having a ripping start to the season.

HALF-FORWARDS:

Bella Eddey (SD) – 22 disposals, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 goals
Eddey put up an impressive effort against the Pioneers, proving a key target both inside 50 and up the ground with her clean hands, and putting goals on the board to establish a clear option in the forward line. She used her body well to bring ball to ground while her tackling pressure was up there, winning precious ball back when required.

Alyssa Bannan (NK) – 14 disposals, 8 marks, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 2 goals
Another outstanding performance from the tall forward who clunked a whopping eight marks to go with her 14 touches and two goals. She booted five majors last week, but her work rate up the ground and ability to use her clean hands and footy IQ to her advantage is a strength. She also laid five tackles which is a huge bonus for a taller player who is predominantly impressive in the air.

Charlie Rowbottom (OC) – 17 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 1 hitout, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 2 goals
The talented middle-ager was best on ground in Oakleigh’s victory over Tasmania, constantly popping up with two goals from 17 touches and laying five tackles. She moved between the midfield and forward lines well and not only converted some chances of her own, but also set up her teammates. Her work close to goal was clean and she always looked like she was going to create something special.

FORWARDS:

Taylah Morton (OC) – 12 disposals, 3 tackles, 3 goals
Had a huge impact close to goal and was rewarded with three majors against Tasmania. She often got to the right spots and had a number of chances, three of which she converted as well as a couple of behinds that could have made it an even bigger haul. She provided a dangerous option at ground level and was able to be a key part of the Chargers’ front six in the big win.

Abbi Moloney (SD) – 10 disposals, 5 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 3 goals
With an ability to hit the scoreboard, Moloney proved she has the means to be a real danger inside 50 if left unattended. While she did not rack up the possessions, she used the footy well and proved she can do more than just provide a tall option inside 50 with her clean hands making her a real key cog in the forward line, while her ability to kick straight certainly helped out the Dragons.

Jessica Matin (DS) – 14 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 2 goals
A danger close to goal, Matin also works up the ground and can get it inside the 50, with her work rate often leading to a payoff on the scoreboard. After missing a couple of gettable chances last week, Matin booted a couple of majors in Round 2 and acts as well as a deep smaller forward or higher up the ground getting the ball in and allowing forwards to run into space.

INTERCHANGE:

Kate Adams (MB) – 19 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 1 inside 50, 4 rebounds, 1 goal
The versatile utility put in a strong performance and managed to get the work done through midfield, in defence and up forward. She has the the athletic capabilities to be a slippery customer in close, but the hardness to win the ball back from an opponent as shown by her six tackles. She works hard when playing in the back half, and can go forward and be damaging around goal as well.

Charlotte Baskaran (WJ) – 25 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
Another strong performance from the bottom-ager who found plenty of it in Western’s draw with Murray. She can play off half-back or through the middle and allowing her to use her skill and footy IQ to set up teammates is an advantage for the Jets. Despite having another couple of years in the program, Baskaran has already shown smarts beyond her years and will be an exciting prospect to watch develop in the future.

Tarrah Delgado (NK) – 14 disposals, 4 marks, 5 rebounds
The Knights’ top defender on the day, Delgado was able to repel a number of attacks, particularly during the middle stages of the game when the Falcons were trying to get on top. Forced back deep at times, the Knights defender held up strongly, and along with her teammates, kept a potent Geelong forward line to just one goal for the day.

Amber Micallef (OC) – 14 disposals, 2 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s
One of Oakleigh’s best on the day. Micallef was able to balance her offensive and defensive abilities on her way to a strong 14 disposals and six tackles. She was ever-present in an even team performance and was constantly harassing the opposition throughout the four quarters despite the result being well beyond doubt.

Darcy Moloney (GF) – 25 disposals, 2 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
The Geelong Falcons’ midfielder found plenty of the football despite the loss, racking up an equal-third highest achievement of disposals for the round with 25. She tried her best throughout the four quarters and whilst the efforts did not get the ‘W’ on the scoreboard, she was as hard of a worker as anyone else on the field.

Emily Shepherd (DS) – 18 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
Arguably the second best behind Smith, Shepherd just goes about her business and keeps working hard throughout the four quarters. She won the second most touches on the ground in Dandenong’s win over Calder and was able to provide some run through the middle and work well with the other Stingrays mids to get the ball forward and set up scoring opportunities.

EMG:

Georgie Prespakis (CC) – 17 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
The most unlucky player not to make the starting line-up, Prespakis had a solid game after being rundown a couple of times in the first half. She showed her competitiveness by nailing a couple of opponents as well with fierce tackles, whilst getting around the ground and doing her thing and bombing it long either out of danger or into the danger zone inside 50. Kept running throughout the contest.

Amy Prokopiec (TD) – 9 disposals, 1 tackle, 1 hitout, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
This could have gone to a number of Tasmania players who could have squeezed into the starting line-up, but ultimately it is difficult when involved in a 100-point loss. In saying that, Prokopiec was terrific down back, working well as a leader of the group with Camilla Taylor who also could have earned a spot here. Prokopiec’s defensive ability and toughness make her difficult to beat one-on-one and she is not afraid to put her body on the line for her side.

Rianna Thiele (OC) – 15 disposals, 3 tackles, 1 hitout, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals
Another Chargers player who could have squeezed into a competitive forward line, Thiele stood out with her work at ground level and just popping up at different times with some nice work around goals. She kicked two of her own majors and put it into positions to assists teammates which helped her side get to the position it was in by the end of the game.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 2

B: Kasey Lennox (CC) – Zoe Hill (DS) – Annie Lee (GF)
HB: Sarah Hartwig (SD) – Annabel Strahan (BP) – Grace Hay (MB)
C: Isabelle Pritchard (WJ) – Tyanna Smith (DS) – Montana Ham (WJ)
HF: Bella Eddey (SD) – Alyssa Bannan (NK) – Charlie Rowbottom (OC)
F: Taylah Morton (OC) – Abbi Moloney (SD) – Jessica Matin (DS)
R: Ally Morphett (MB) – Ellie McKenzie (NK) – Laura Gardiner (GF)
INT: Kate Adams (MB) – Charlotte Baskaran (WJ) – Tarrah Delgado (NK) – Amber Micallef (OC) – Darcy Moloney (GF) – Emily Shepherd (DS)

OTHERS CONSIDERED:

The strength of the midfield group this round was ridiculous to try and squeeze into a team, needing to maintain the balance of players across other lines as well. The next in line to come into the team included Northern Knights’ Ash Snow, Dandenong Stingrays’ Amber Clarke and Sandringham Dragons’ Winnie Laing who were all close to making the cut. Also on the short list from a midfield perspective were Calder Cannons’ trio Laura Cocomello, Emelia Yassir and Zali Friswell, Murray Bushrangers’ duo Mikayla Jones and Lily Sharp, Bendigo Pioneers’ duo Brooke Hards and Maeve Tupper, Sandringham Dragons’ Alice Burke and Oakleigh Chargers’ Kalarni Kearns. Those who kicked goals and were considered included Sandringham’s Sofia Hurley, Oakleigh’s Amanda Ling and Western’s Caitlin Sargent, while Tasmanian duo Jemma Webster and Camilla Taylor were also in consideration.

Jets and Bushrangers split points in Bundoora thriller

THE Western Jets and Murray Bushrangers travelled to RMIT University in Bundoora to share the points in a nail-biting encounter. Jets’ Laura Elliott kicked a goal late in the last term to draw the match after trailing by seven points at three quarter time.

The first term finished relatively even with a goal apiece. Western’s Elliott started the game well with a massive burst of speed through the middle of the ground and she had impressive composure to kick truly in the first minute of the game. The Jets wasted a few chances early due to not being able to capitalise on their dominance on the scoreboard. Bushrangers’ Grace Hay stood up early taking numerous intercept marks in the first term. Murray was able to get on the board late in the term due to a high contact free to Cassidy Mailer who was causing headaches late in quarter due to her speed. The second term showed the two teams were evenly matched again heading into the main break on 20 points apiece. Charlotte Baskaran (25 disposals) of the Western Jets showed her agility through the middle of the ground as well as superb vision with pinpoint kicking. Bushrangers’ Olivia Cicolini was able to get a goal out the back of a marking contest using her lightning speed, showing good crumbing ability. Caitlin Sargent kicked their second goal of the term through an impressive contested mark and goal from the goal square.

The Bushrangers were able to break away in the third term and create a seven-point advantage at the final change due to a Lily Sharp soccer goal on the goal line. Western Jets’ Isabelle Pritchard shone in the third term, being a dominant inside player who always found a target by hands, tearing up the field with her equal match-high 25 touches and seven tackles. One of the highlights of the quarter was Western’s Ciara Singleton going back with the flight of the ball to take a very courageous mark, showing the desperation of the girls. The last term was dominated by the Western Jets who controlled possession although could only manage one goal and one behind. A major reason why the Jets were unable to kick a winning score in the last term was because of Hay and Kristy Whitehead. Their ability to intercept Jets’ inside 50s only got better as the match went on. The dam wall eventually broke as Sargent levelled the scores with some impressive body work to nudge her opponent off the ball for an easy goal out the back in the dying minutes.

Murray’s best was Hay in defence as she worked tirelessly all day and was superb with her intercept marking and effective kicking, collecting 19 touches, seven marks and eight rebounds. Ruck, Ally Morphett (15 hitouts, nine disposals) and midfielder, Kate Adams (19 disposals, six tackles, one goal) were the standouts through the midfield. Lily Sharp was also impressive providing an option for the Bushrangers up forward, taking pack marks and getting on the scoreboard with a goal. Western Jets forwards Sargent and Elliott were consistently dangerous and were among the best collecting 11 disposals and two goals apiece. Ava Strathairn and Singleton both showed positive signs in the backline while Pritchard and Ham were also good for the Jets in the midfield.

The Western Jets will travel to Mars Stadium to face the GWV Rebels next Saturday at 11:30am, while the Bushrangers’ next match is against the Gippsland Power at Trevor Barker Oval in a fortnight’s time.

WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 4.3 (27)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 4.3 (27)

GOALS

Western: L. Elliott 2, C. Sargent 2.
Murray: L. Sharp, K. Adams, C. Mailer, O. Cicolini.

ADC BEST 

Western: I. Pritchard, M. Ham, C. Baskaran, C. Sargent, L. Elliott
Murray: G. Hay, K. Adams, L. Sharp, A. Morphett, A. Smith

DC Medal:

5: Grace Hay (MB)
4: Isabelle Pritchard (WJ)
3: Montana Ham (WJ)
2: Charlotte Baskaran (WJ)
1: Kate Adams (MB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bushrangers buoyant on improved depth and internal growth

MURRAY Bushrangers have been able to reduce the player-to-coach ratio ahead of the 2020 season thanks to the determination of their NAB League Girls playing group, and additional development coaches. Ahead of the 2020 season, Female Talent Manager Briana Cossar said she was excited about a number of players coming through the program – not just for top-age talent, but middle-age and bottom-age talent as well.

The girls’ enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to the program has resulted in a solid pre-season,” Cossar said. “They’ve really come together as one unit which is a testament to their characters and with a revamped coaching group, which has included additional staff, the player-to-coach ratio has been reduced, playing a pivotal role in increased rate of development compared to last season which we see as vital for continued development and growth of the program. “We’ve got a lot more depth and some really good 14, 15 and 16-year-old players coming through which will be exciting to see their development over the next few years. 

The Bushrangers have three players in the 2020 AFL Women’s National Academy, with top-age talents Abby Favell and Olivia Barber, as well as bottom-age tall, Ally Morphett. Favell starred as a natural ball winner for the Bushrangers, NSW-ACT Rams and the Eastern Allies last season, looking sharp as an outside runner who stands up in big moments.

“Abby has the ability to break the lines and her run and carry are elite,” Cossar said. “Her leadership qualities are second to none.”

Barber had a breakout National AFL Women’s Under-18 carnival after a solid season in the NAB League Girls as a key forward who could also play ruck. The then middle-ager was able to create all sorts of headaches for defenders, not just with her ability to clunk grabs overhead, but her ground work and recovery were also impressive on the Gold Coast.

“Olivia is a tall target up forward and a strong overhead mark,” Cossar said. “She’s got a great attack on the football and has an ability to create separation using her strength.”

Morphett is still a year away from being draft-eligible, with the 186cm player likely to predominantly play ruck, though she could also rotate forward and provide a marking presence.

“Ally plays mainly ruck, but can play key position forward,” Cossar said. “She has a great kicking technique and is very good overhead.”

Other players to watch from a top-age perspective include Sam Pritchard – who according to Cossar is “training the house down” – and smart small, Kate Adams. Pritchard recorded an impressive sub-eight minute 2km time trial and plays as a small forward who has a nice blend of pace and endurance. Among her other strengths are her elite kicking ability and clean hands. Adams has been a player who has impressed over the past couple of seasons coming through the Bushrangers’ program, playing in a number of roles, but similarly is a silky small who has natural footballing ability. Cossar said Adams’ reading of the play, awareness and decision making are engrained, while she is a great on and off-field leader.

Anyone who watched the Under 16s all-Victorian clash last year would have remembered Keely Skepper who starred in that match and while she is a bottom-age talent, the rebounding defender is one to keep in mind for the future. “She is a natural footballer in every aspect of the game,” Cossar said, describing her left foot as “elite” and has a great ability to find the ball and rebound it out of the back half. Other middle and bottom-age talents to watch for in 2020 include Aurora Smith – who has the ability to break the game open with her run and carry, credit her speed – India Lehman who Cossar describes as a natural footballer who is also a great on-field leader, bringing others into the game, and Mindy Quade who has great positioning in one-on-one contests and takes the game on at every opportunity.

While the core base of talent is there, Murray also has a couple of players who have been building nicely over the off-season and have been touted by Cossar as ones to watch.

Lily Sharp and Mikayla Jones are both looking to take their games to the next level,” she said. “Their fitness and fundamental skill efficiency have improved, and both have a good game sense.”

Murray takes on both the Bendigo Pioneers (Saturday, February 8) and Calder Cannons (Saturday, February 15) at JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga. Cossar said in 2020, the team just want to play as naturally as they could.

“We want to be instinctive, creative and take the game on at every opportunity, and be competitive for four quarters,” she said.

The Bushrangers host Oakleigh Chargers in the opening round of the season on March 1 at 1pm, before travelling to Bundoora for a clash against Western Jets as part of a NAB League Girls double header on March 7 at 1.15pm.

2020 AFL Women’s Academy Announced

THE 2020 AFL Women’s Academy was announced yesterday, with Victoria metropolitan regions continuing their dominance in contributing to the nation’s high-end talent pool in the biggest intake yet. As is the standard, the Academy is split into Level 1 (Under-17) and Level 2 (Under-18) squads, with each state and territory having at least one representative across the 52 players chosen.

NSW/ACT, Queensland, and Western Australia each have four members in the top-age Level 2 Academy, headlined by the likes of Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/NSW/ACT), Zimmorlei Farquharson (Calamvale/Yeronga/QLD), and Mikayla Morrison (East Perth Royals/WA), while South Adelaide pair Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau are South Australia’s representatives, and Stephanie Williams (Darwin Buffaloes) is the lone Northern Territory selection.

Northern Knights’ undefeated premiership season has translated to contributing four of the 12 Vic Metro members, with early first pick contender Ellie McKenzie leading the pack. Sandringham had two products picked, while Eastern and Oakleigh had two each and Isabelle Pritchard was the lone Western Jet to get a nod. Eight Vic Country representatives also made the squad, with a trio of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels leading the line from a Geelong Falcons pairing and single selections from Dandenong, Murray and Gippsland.

The Level 1 squad features four representatives each from Queensland, Vic Metro, and Vic Country, with 2019 NAB League best and fairest winner Georgie Prespakis (Calder) headlining the list from the likes of Cannons teammate Tahlia Gillard and Tara Slender. Queenslander Tegan Levi (Broadbeach) joins sister Maddison (Level 2) in the academy, while Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh) – sister of Sydney’s James – also makes the list. Promising Tasmanian Amy Prokopiec (Clarence) is her state’s sole selection, with Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers) the same for NSW/ACT, and Zoe Prowse (Sturt) for South Australia, while Western Australia has two representatives.

Academy members will all have the chance to train with AFLW clubs across December and January, while also attending high performance training camps in January, April, and August.

Level 2 Squad:

Tarni Evans Queanbeyan Tigers NSW/ACT
Abby Favell Murray Bushrangers NSW/ACT
Emily Pease Belconnen Magpies NSW/ACT
Jayde Hamilton Queanbeyan Tigers NSW/ACT
Stephanie Williams Darwin Buffaloes NT
Annise Bradfield Southport QLD
Zimmorlei Farquharson Calamvale/Yeronga QLD
Daisy D’Arcy Hermit Park QLD
Maddison Levi Bond University QLD
Teah Charlton South Adelaide SA
Indy Tahau South Adelaide SA
Tyanna Smith Dandenong Stingrays Vic Country
Darcy Moloney Geelong Falcons Vic Country
Laura Gardiner Geelong Falcons Vic Country
Maggie Caris GWV Rebels Vic Country
Isabella Simmons GWV Rebels Vic Country
Renee Saulitis GWV Rebels Vic Country
Olivia Barber Murray Bushrangers Vic Country
Megan Fitzsimon Gippsland Power Vic Country
Alyssa Bannan Northern Knights Vic Metro
Tarni Brown Eastern Ranges Vic Metro
Alice Burke Sandringham Dragons Vic Metro
Jessica Fitzgerald Northern Knights Vic Metro
Sarah Hartwig Sandringham Dragons Vic Metro
Mimi Hill Oakleigh Chargers Vic Metro
Ellie McKenzie Northern Knights Vic Metro
Olivia Meagher Eastern Ranges Vic Metro
Isabelle Pritchard Western Jets Vic Metro
Joanna Lin Oakleigh Chargers Vic Metro
Isabella Eddey Sandringham Dragons Vic Metro
Maeve Chaplin Northern Knights Vic Metro
Sarah Verrier Peel Thunder WA
Shanae Davison Swan Districts WA
Isabella Lewis Claremont Tigers WA
Mikayla Morrison East Perth Royals WA

Level 1 Squad:

Amy Prokopiec Clarence TAS
Ally Morphett Murray Bushrangers NSWACT
Teagan Levi Broadbeach QLD
Bella Smith Maroochydore QLD
Maggie Harmer Maroochydore QLD
Mikayla Pauga Maroochydore QLD
Zoe Prowse Sturt SA
Tara Slender Bendigo Pioneers Vic Country
Nyakoat Dojiok GWV Rebels Vic Country
Ella Friend GWV Rebels Vic Country
Jaide Anthony Dandenong Stingrays Vic Country
Tahlia Gillard Calder Cannons Vic Metro
Georgie Prespakis Calder Cannons Vic Metro
Charlie Rowbottom Oakleigh Chargers Vic Metro
Maykaylah Appleby Northern Knights Vic Metro
Charlotte Thomas Subiaco Lions WA
Courtney Rowley Peel Thunder WA

Team of the Week: NAB League Girls – Round 4

GEELONG Falcons and Eastern Ranges have recorded the most nominess in the Draft Central NAB League Girls Team of the Week for Round 4 following impressive victories on the weekend. In an even spread across the competition, Calder Cannons and Western Jets recorded the one nominee each, while the remaining eight sides had two players in the Team of the Week.

Geelong Falcons’ captain Lucy McEvoy, and Rising Star of the Week teammate, Luka Lesosky-Hay fill out the midfield with full-back Abbey Chapman slotting into full-back. Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher returns to the side and joins the Falcons pair in the centre line, while forwards, Serena Gibbs and Laura McClelland make the team of the week for the first time this year. Also in the midfield is last week’s Rising Star of the Week, Gabby Newton, joined by Knights’ forward, Nell Morris-Dalton in Round 4.

Bendigo Pioneers’ Brooke Hards is the remaining starting midfielder, in the team with Annabel Strachan who was best on ground in the Pioneers’ win over Murray Bushrangers. Millie Brown made the Team of the Week after an impressive game for the Bushrangers, as did Ally Morphett who has shown good signs as the season has progressed. Georgia Howes has been named at centre half-forward, while Stingrays teammate Brooke Vernon makes the team for the third time this season. In defence, Maddison Shaw and Megan Fitzsimon represent Gippsland Power, while rounding out the defence is Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ defender Nekaela Butler, while ruck teammate Maggie Caris makes the team again.

Emily Harley has slotted into the Team of the Week in Round 4, joined again by Chargers’ teammate Amelia Van Oosterwijck. Sandringham Dragons also had two nominees in the Round 4 Team of the Week with Winnie Laing making the team for the second time this year, this time joined in the side by Chloe Saultry. Rounding out the interchange bench is Western Jet, Nikita Wright and Calder Cannon, Emelia Yassir.

NAB League Girls weekend preview: Round 2

AFTER a week off for fitness testing, Round 2 of the NAB League Girls competition is raring to go, with all 12 sides ready for another big weekend of footy.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. EASTERN RANGES


Round 2 – 16/03/19
12.45pm
Epson Huntly, Bendigo

In what is looking to be another hot match for both sides, the Bendigo Pioneers will host the Eastern Ranges to start Round 2. For Bendigo, Maeve Tupper and Eloise Gretgrix were among the best in the narrow loss to Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in Round 1, holding down the midfield and creating issues downfield. Gretgrix’ consistency and ability in one-on-one contests will prove difficult for the Ranges if not addressed. Eastern are coming off a good win against the Stingrays, but will be rueing missed opportunities in front of goal so will want to really make their mark against the Pioneers with accuracy key. Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown stood up in the win, impressing through the midfield with their efficient ball movement and pressure around stoppages, so will want to come into this second match with confidence against a side that pushed the Rebels all the way last round.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. CALDER CANNONS


Round 2 – 16/03/19
12.45pm
MARS Stadium

The second game for Round 2 will see GWV Rebels host the Calder Cannons in a battle for a second win. With five goalkickers in Round 1, Calder have shown they have plenty of options around the ground to bring into the game at any given time, while the Rebels showed great composure to come away with a win against a pressurised Pioneers side last round. With only two named in the Draft Central Team of the WeekMakeisha Muller and Georgie Prespakis – despite a dominant win, Calder have a lot to prove coming into this round. Muller showcased her skill with the footy last round, with an intuitive snap on goal a highlight of her Round 1 output, making her a difficult player to take on around the ball. Dominant ball carrier, Georgia Patrikios has been named in the side this week on the interchange, so will be a key player regardless of her role on the field, and will pair nicely with Prespakis to build up the Cannons’ midfield. Meanwhile, GWV Rebels will come into this game also with a Round 1 win under their belt, and two standout players in Nekaela Butler and Isabella Simmons. Simmons kicked two goals and showed some good footy smarts downfield against the Pioneers last round, so will want to bump up her work ethic against the Cannons for a four quarter effort. Defensively, Butler and Nyakoat Dojiok will have their work cut out for them down back, but with their combined speed off the half-back, they will be key players on a mission to cut off Calder’s dominant goal kickers.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS


Round 2 – 17/03/19
12.45pm
RMIT Bundoora

The third game of Round 2 will see Northern Knights host the Oakleigh Chargers, with both sides sitting toward the top of the ladder after dominant Round 1 performances. Oakleigh key forward, Emily Harley kicked four goals against Gippsland Power, staking her claim as a leading goalkicker of the competition early, while fellow forward, Northern’s Britney Gutknecht, kicked four majors of her own on her side’s way to dominating Murray. With four Knights midfielders who made the Draft Central Team of the Week last round, Northern will be a challenge to combat when in possession, especially with the confidence boost of rendering Murray goalless in Round 1. Amelia van Oosterwjick kicked two majors to add to the Chargers’ tally last round, showing her value as a second tall inside 50 while midfielder, Gemma Lagioia showed her effectiveness with ball in hand on the outside, with silky precision proving she will be a difficult player to take on. Northern’s Ellie McKenzie used her clean ball movement and awareness on field to create opportunities for clearances last round, so is likely to come into this matchup with a similar process.

GEELONG FALCONS v. GIPPSLAND POWER


Round 2 – 17/03/19
12.45pm
Deakin Uni, Geelong

The reigning premiers will host Gippsland Power to open Sunday’s fixture, and will come into this matchup confident after an excellent 26 point win against the Sandringham Dragons in Round 1. Gippsland went down by a frustrating 50 points in the first round, meaning they will really have to lift their game to get over the line this week against the Falcons. Falcons’ Round 1 best on ground Luka Lesosky-Hay and Lucy McEvoy proved dominant through the midfield, pairing well and contesting the ball at every opportunity, making it difficult for opposition movement, so will want to storm through Gippsland this week to continue their successful start to the season. Gippsland’s Chandra Abraham put on a show with her tackling pressure last round and defensively was a great backup to her side, so will want to back up her Round 1 performance and prove her effectiveness when her side faces off against Geelong’s efficient and dominant midfield.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. WESTERN JETS


Round 2 – 17/03/19
12.45pm
JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga

Two more sides face off in their campaign for a debut win for the season, with Murray hosting Western after a disappointing Round 1 matchup against 2018 grand finalists, Northern. Murray only managed to score two behinds for the game, but showed some promise with midfielders, Abby Favell and Ally Morphett standing up through the tough match, while Olivia Barber also put in the hard yards. Their determination and relentless effort will bring a lot to the side this week when they take on the Jets, who are also coming off a Round 1 loss to Calder. The Jets will look to last round’s best on ground, Isabella Grant and Elisabeth Georgostathis to get their side on the board, with Grant kicking the side’s only goal in Round 1. Georgostathis is another player who doesn’t back down from contests, so will be a key player when it comes to breaking through Murray’s midfield.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS


Round 2 – 17/03/19
1.00pm
RSEA, Moorabbin

The final matchup of Round 2 will see the Sandringham Dragons host the Dandenong Stingrays at the revised starting time of 1pm. Both sides are chasing their first win for the season, with Dandenong coming out of Round 1 with a tight loss to Eastern, while Sandringham were beaten by reigning premiers, Geelong. Sandringham captain, Molly Denahy-Moloney is a late omission from the match with illness, meaning the side will need to push hard in the forward 50 for scoring opportunities. Sarah Hartwig had a fantastic match against Falcon, Lucy McEvoy in Round 1, so will want to replicate her efforts coming off half back to produce ball movement toward forward 50. For Dandenong, Brooke Vernon showed her strength in the backline and was dominant as the last line of defence in Round 1, so will be one to look out for when it comes to goal scoring opportunities for the Dragons. She paired well with Zoe Hill, also named in the Stingrays’ best, and the duo will certainly be ready for any forward action for Sandringham.

Weekend wrap: NAB League Girls – Round 1

THE new era of Victorian Under 18s football began on the weekend with two triple headers at Craigieburn and Frankston. We wrap up how the six games played out and some of the better players on the day for each side.

Calder Cannons 1.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 5.7 (37)
Western Jets 1.1 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS:

Calder: G. Prespakis, N. Crowley, G. Elarmaly, M. Muller, I. McNeill-Wren.
Western: I. Grant.

BEST:

Calder: G. Prespakis, M. Muller, G. Elarmaly, K. Petrevski, A. Barba, L. Cocomello
Western: I. Grant, R. Tripodi, E. Georgostathis, I. Pritchard, C. Saxon-Jones, K. O”Keefe

Calder Cannons kicked off the new season on the right note with a 27-point win over the Western Jets in the first of three games at Craigieburn. The breeze made life difficult for both teams as they opted to use the grandstand side of the ground. The Cannons were the first on the board through Gloria Elarmaly, before a response came from the Jets through one of Western’s AFL Women’s Academy players in Isabella Grant. The Cannons headed into the first break with just a one-point lead, but then a second term burst saw Makeisha Muller and Georgie Prespakis conjure goals out of nothing, while Neve Crowley also added a major to the total. An 18-point lead soon became 23 by the final break as India McNeil-Wren booted the final goal of the match in the third quarter. Neither team could manage a goal in the final term, which suited Calder just fine, walking away with the points having restricted the Jets to just three behinds after quarter time. Prespakis was the star of the show, constantly winning possessions around stoppages and bursting away, while Muller and Alana Barba showed promising signs among what was a real team effort from the Cannons who were missing Georgia Patrikios. For the Jets, Grant was productive throughout the match, while Elisabeth Georgostathis had a massive first half and never gave in through the midfield, while Isabelle Pritchard and Cleo Saxon-Jones showed their ability up either end. In Round 2, Calder Cannons face fellow winners Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, while Western Jets look to get on the board against other Round 1 losers, Murray Bushrangers.

Bendigo Pioneers 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
GWV Rebels 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 4.3 (27)

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe 2, M. Barton.
GWV: I. Simmons 2, R. Saulitis 2.

BEST:

Bendigo: M. Tupper, E. Gretgrix, K. Mitchell, B. Hards, D. Villiva, K. Douglass
GWV: B. Thompson, N. Butler, I. Simmons, E. Wood, N. Dojiok, S. Molan

In the second game of the day, spectators were treated to a tight match after quarter time. It all looked to be going pear-shaped for the Pioneers early as Isabella Simmons booted two opening term goals and was joined by fellow middle-ager, Renee Saulitis who split the middle from a tight angle to hand the GWV Rebels an 18-point quarter time lead. With the Pioneers kicking with the breeze in the second term, Madeline Barton snapped a goal off the deck for Bendigo’s first, before Jordyn Jolliffe converted from the set shot to draw within five points at the main break. After half-time, the first goal was crucial and it went to Saulitis who somehow found herself unguarded at the back of a pack close to goal, with the ball falling in her lap, turning around and snapping a goal. The Rebels extended the lead to two straight kicks at the final break having kept the Pioneers scoreless in the term, but with the breeze, Bendigo was always a chance. Jolliffe booted her second major and gave them real hope, though the end-to-end football meant both sides felt like they were close to scoring. In the end, the Rebels managed to hold firm against a gallant Pioneers outfit to win by five points. Brooke Thompson was named as the Rebels’ best, while Nekaela Butler and Nyakoat Dojiok did some of their best work out of defence. Ella Wood and Sophie Molan were a handful in the midfield, while Simmons and Saulitis were busy in the forward half. For the Pioneers, Maeve Tupper, Eloise Gretgrix and Brooke Hards all formed a resilient midfield that stood tall on the day, while Kaitlin Mitchell, Dakota Villiva and Kate Douglass were among others who impressed for the losing side. In Round 2, the GWV Rebels will meet Calder Cannons, while Bendigo Pioneers hope to record a win at home against Eastern Ranges.

Northern Knights 2.7 | 4.7 | 7.10 | 11.12 (78)
Murray Bushrangers 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)

GOALS:

Northern: B. Gutknecht 4, N. Morris-Dalton, A. Bannan, G. Newton, T. Mills, C. Linssen, M. Appleby, A. Bennett.
Murray: Nil.

BEST:

Northern: B. Gutknecht, G. Newton, E. McKenzie, M. Chaplin, J. Fitzgerald, S. Sansonetti
Murray: A. Morphett, M. Quade, K. Whitehead, M. Trethowan, A. Favell, O. Barber

In the final game of the triple header at Craigieburn, there was a noticeable step-up in decision making and run as last year’s grand finalists, Northern Knights looked every bit a contender once again with a 76-point victory over Murray Bushrangers. In 2018, we saw the Knights had no trouble scoring and it looked to be the case once again, with eight individual goalkickers. Britney Gutknecht was the major beneficiary with four goals, three of which came in the second half. Throughout the day, sides struggled to kick goals into the breeze, with just two of a total 13 goals going through the big sticks up the Grand Boulevard end of RAMS Arena. The Knights found a way though, booting six goals, including four in the final term as they ran away with the contest to record 23 scoring shots to two in an impressive victory. There was no shortage of stars for the Knights with Gutknecht, Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald all busy, while Maeve Chaplin and Sarah Sansonetti were also named in the best in what could have extended to a few more names as well. For Murray, the largely different side to last season with a lot of new or middle and bottom-age players showed some impressive signs trying to take the game on, but it was hard to get a read because of the strength of the Knights. Olivia Barber tried hard in the ruck throughout the day, while Abby Favell kept running. Ally Morphett and Mindy Quade were named the Bushrangers’ best in the big loss. Murray will have a chance to bounce back in Round 2 when they come up against the Western Jets, while the Knights will meet Oakleigh Chargers who also recorded an impressive win in Round 1.

Dandenong Stingrays 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)
Eastern Ranges 0.2 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS:

Dandenong: H. Thomas, I. Shannon, J. Radford.
Eastern: S. Gibbs, L. McClelland, M. Kendall, S. Collard.

BEST:
Dandenong:
B. Vernon, I. Shannon, Z. Hill, G. Howes, J. Radford, A. Nagtzaam
Eastern: O. Meagher, T. Brown, T. Flintoff, L. McClelland, M. Kendall

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Opening the second triple header for the weekend, Eastern picked up their first win in a tight affair over Dandenong in Frankston. The game broke into the Ranges’ forward half early, but it was Dandenong who drew first blood with Isabella Shannon slotting one from congestion. A revitalised Eastern returned fire in the second with Mietta Kendall hitting the board early. Much of the second quarter continued in Eastern’s forward half with Dandenong defenders getting first hands to the ball but struggling to penetrate the forward press. Eastern were soon rewarded again with a goal from captain, Laura McClelland, while Dandenong remained scoreless for the second. The Stingrays attempted a resurgence following the main break, pushing the ball back up the centre. Jemma Radford kicked Dandenong’s second after snatching the pill mid-flight in congestion to put them within two-points. Though Shae Collard quickly replied for Eastern, snuffing out some of Dandenong’s momentum. In the final period, Harmony Thomas kicked Dandenong’s third while Serena Gibbs secured the win for Eastern in the closing minutes with a big kick from 35 metres out. Though playing without one of their best in captain, Molly McDonald, the Dandenong girls adjusted well with Alice Nagtzaam creating well up forward while Brooke Vernon and Shannon remained prolific. For the Ranges, Olivia Meagher pressured well while Tarni Brown and Tess Flintoff impressed on the move. In Round 2, Eastern Ranges face fellow Round 1 losers, Bendigo Pioneers, while Dandenong Stingrays face fellow losers, Sandringham Dragons.

Oakleigh Chargers 1.1 | 3.1 | 6.3 | 9.9 (63)
Gippsland Power 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 (13)

GOALS:

Oakleigh: E. Harley 4, A. Van Oosterwijck 2, E. James, K. Kearns, J. D’Amato
Gippsland: N. Webber, S. Walker

BEST:

Oakleigh: A. Porter, A. Van Oosterwijck, E. Harley, J. Lin, G. Lagioia, E. James
Gippsland: C. Abrahams, M. Van Berkel, N. Webber, G. Radford, G. McRae, M. Shaw

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Gippsland Power walked away from Sunday afternoon with a 50-point loss dealt by a dominant Oakleigh side at Frankston Oval. Both teams came out hard in the first, mostly locking the ball down in the midfield with repetitive stoppages. Nikia Webber kicked Gippsland’s first from a gather and snap early on, while Gemma Lagioia responded in the closing minutes for Oakleigh to tie the term. In the second, Oakleigh slowly increased their lead after trapping the ball in their forward line. Emily Harley kicked her first goal after a stray rebound found her teammate. Power tried to shift pressure through the centre, but the Chargers broke their lines and soon found their second through Amelia van Oosterwijck before entering the main break. Gippsland remained scoreless up until the final quarter as the Chargers surged on to kick six more. Kalarni Kearns kicked Oakleigh’s first for the third while Harley added two more as she and her teammates continued to dominate the airways. Harley’s fourth came in the final quarter, increasing Oakleigh’s lead early on, while Power replied with their second following a spill in defence. Van Oosterwijck hit back on the other end with her second with Eliza James soon following with Oakleigh’s final goal. Gippsland captain, Maddison Shaw, and teammates, Grace McRae, Chandra Abrahams and Matilda Van Berkel all combined well despite Oakleigh’s dominance. For Oakleigh, Harley and Van Oosterwijck were enormous in front of goals, while Joanna Lin and Lagioia starred through the centre. In Round 2, Oakleigh Chargers face fellow big winners, Northern Knights, while Gippsland Power face Round 1 winners, Geelong Falcons.

Sandringham Dragons 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)
Geelong Falcons 0.0 | 2.3 | 4.5 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS:

Sandringham: C. Murphy.
Geelong: P. Schaap, R. Tierney, D. Moloney, M. Skinner.

BEST:

Sandringham: W. Laing, M. Purcell, D. Walker, T. Grasso, E. McNamara, S. Hartwig
Geelong: L. Lesosky-Hay, P. Sheppard, L. McEvoy, M. Skinner, A. Chapman, D. Moloney

Geelong Falcons overcame an early challenge from Sandringham Dragons to post a 26-point win at Frankston. Neither side managed to trouble the scorers in the first term, before Poppy Schaap and Renee Tierney both entered the goal scorers list with majors in the second quarter, while Charli Murphy booted the Dragons’ only score. An incredible goal from Darcy Moloney in the third term, which saw her handball over an opponent, run on and kick the goal,was the Dragons’ highlight of the game, before Mia Skinner extended the Falcons’ lead to 23 points at the final break. A tight third term saw the ball up the Falcons’ end for almost the entirety of the contest, with Geelong scoring the only three behinds of the term. In the end it was enough to walk away with the four points, scoring 4.8 from 12 scoring shots to Sandringham’s one. Luka Lesosky-Hay was the Falcons’ best running through the midfield and teaming up with Lucy McEvoy well, while Paige Sheppard and Skinner provided good support on the outside. For the Dragons, Winnie Laing did well through the middle on the inside, and Marguerite Purcell solid on the outside. While the Geelong midfield got on top, the Dragons’ defence held up well with Sarah Hartwig strong at centre half-back, and players like Alice Burke working hard defensively to reduce the scoring impact of the reigning premiers.