Tag: Annabel Strahan

Smith and McKenzie lead DC Medal count in postponed NAB League Girls

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition players, staff and families wait for confirmation on whether or not any more football will go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Draft Central thought it would update the leaderboard of the DC Medal count we have been taking throughout the first three rounds of the season. While we had hoped that this would end up being a full season count, there are two clear leaders who have emerged from the pack. It might have been difficult with some teams only playing two games compared to three, but no player that played two games could have caught the equal leaders even with a full five votes in a hypothetical third game.

Dandenong Stingrays’ Tyanna Smith and Ellie McKenzie lead all-comers in what could realistically be the end result of the Medal count, which means in the inaugural DC Medal, two players will share the award. Both players polled 14 votes in their first three games, including two best-on-grounds and one four-vote game to ensure that no one else could catch them. If the season is potentially called off in the future, then both the players will be announced winners. Two of the stars of the competition, Smith has helped Dandenong Stingrays to a ripping start in the NAB League Girls season, with her side winning its first two games against Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons, before running into a McKenzie-inspired Northern Knights outfit in Round 3. The Knights’ co-captain was sensational and picked up her second best on ground to tie with Smith in the same game after the Stingrays speedster picked up the four votes.

After the two clears in McKenzie and Smith clears is another Northern Knights player, and a couple of Sandringham Dragons. McKenzie’s teammate and forward, Alyssa Bannan sits three votes behind in third with 11 to her name and the player responsible for picking up the best on ground votes back in Round 1 against Calder Cannons for McKenzie to receive the four. Rounding out the top five are Sandringham Dragons’ duo, Sarah Hartwig (10 votes) and Alice Burke (nine) who were both enjoying terrific starts to the season. Behind the top five are a pack of players all on eight votes, including Western Jets’ duo, Montana Ham and Isabella Pritchard, Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher and the only player who has played the two games inside the top 10 – Laura Gardiner. Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis and Sandringham Dragons’ Winnie Laing sit on seven and six votes respectively.

DC Medal:

[14] Tyanna Smith (DS), Ellie McKenzie (NK)

[11] Alyssa Bannan (NK)
[10] Sarah Hartwig (SD)
[9] Alice Burke (SD)

[8] Laura Gardiner (GF), Montana Ham (WJ), Isabelle Pritchard (WJ), Olivia Meagher (ER)
[7] Georgie Prespakis (CC)
[6] Winnie Laing (SD)

[5] Jess Fitzgerald (NK), Charlotte Baskaran (WJ), Tarni Brown (ER), Alice Astbury (GWV), Grace Hay (MB), Charlie Rowbottom (OC), Bella Eddey (SD), Mimi Hill (OC)
[4] Grace Dicker (CC), Abbi Moloney (SD), Maggie Caris (GWV), Amber Micallef (OC), Kasey Lennox (CC), Alice O’Loughlin (OC), Brooke Hards (BP), Darcy Moloney (GF), Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
[3] Amelia Velardo (WJ), Jemma Finning (BP), Isabella Khoury (WJ), Taylah Morton (OC), Zoe Hill (DS), Eliza James (OC), Mackenzie Eardley (DS), Poppy Schaap (GF), Jessica Zakkour (CC)
[2] Elizabeth Snell (BP), Megan Fitzsimon (GP), Matilda Hardy (ER), Ella Friend (GWV), Rianna Thiele (OC), Annabel Strahan (BP), Tarrah Delgado (NK), Emily Shepherd (DS), Amelia James (OC), Georgia Grimmer (DS), Matilda Van Berkel (GP), Eliza McNamara (SD)
[1] Freda Puruntatameri (CC), Perri King (TD), Amber Clarke (DS), Kate Adams (MB), Amanda Ling (OC), Annie Lee (GF), Zali Spencer (MB), Jorja Livingstone (ER), Shanara Notman (GP), Renee Saulitis (GWV)

 

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Bendigo Pioneers

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team and how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. We begin with Bendigo Pioneers who while they did not record a win in the opening three rounds, still had a number of standout players.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Western Jets by 22 points
R2: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 44 points
R3: lost to Calder Cannons by 43 points

Yet to register a win, the Pioneers have shown better signs than the scoreboard might suggest and were in games for portions of it, particularly in Round 1 against the Jets. They have had quite a few players who have provided a real edge to the team, but even from three games, have had injuries and unavailabilities impact.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Annabel Strahan (16.7 disposals, 1.7 marks, 5.3 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s, 2.7 rebounds)

The co-captain has enjoyed a terrific start to the season thus far, playing predominantly through the midfield, but also getting back to help out the defence. In particular against Sandringham Dragons in Round 2, Strahan played deeper in defence to try and nullify the opposition’s scoring, before returning to the midfield in Round 3. She leads the team in disposals and has lifted her disposal averaged by six, as well as two extra tackles from last year.

Brooke Hards (16.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 7.0 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds)

The co-captain missed the Round 3 match against Calder Cannons, but showed in the first two rounds why she won the club best and fairest last year as a middle-ager. She attacks the ball and ball-carrier with fierce intent, and has built on her experience representing Vic Country (where she averaged six tackles there) to really step up to another level thus far. So far she is ranked second for average disposals and first for average tackles, laying seven per game after a whopping 9.9 last season.

Jemma Finning (15.0 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.7 tackles, 0.7 inside 50s, 3.3 rebounds)

Can play in multiple positions but has looked really handy coming off half-back and leads the team in rebounds. She also finds plenty of the ball, racking up a team-high 20 disposals in the last match against Calder Cannons, while maintaining a 3.3 rebounds per game average. Her numbers have lifted from last season where she played through the midfield, already amassing more rebounds than she did in 2019, while her disposal average, marks and tackles are also up in 2020.

Elizabeth Snell (11.5 disposals, 1.5 marks, 7.5 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds)

After missing Round 2, Snell returned to the team in Round 3 and was everywhere with her defensive pressure, laying a massive 10 tackles to go with 17 touches in the loss. She is able to balance between playing offensively and defensively after playing as a forward last season. She snagged five goals against Gippsland Power as a middle-ager last year, but has spent time up the field thus far, winning the ball through midfield and providing plenty of defensive pressure to the opposition.

Madeline Marks (8.3 disposals, 1.0 marks, 14.7 hitouts, 5.7 tackles)

The middle-age ruck has been a hard worker for the Pioneers this season, not only winning the taps (14.7 per game), but also getting the ball at ground level and providing an option in transition. She stands at 178cm and is able to lay some big tackles on opposition players who try to shark her taps, and is one of the big improvers this season after getting a taste of it last season, where she played three games as a bottom-ager.

Others who have stood out: Rachael Stubbings, Dakota Villiva, Tara Slender and Maeve Tupper

The Pioneers have had a good group of players who have stepped up at times and played multiple team roles across the ground. Stubbings has been a natural ball winner in the back half, Villiva has provided a target up forward, Tupper has provided a presence in midfield and Slender has plenty of upside as a rebounder.

Engine room clicks into gear as Cannons fire to first win

CALDER Cannons got on the board at the third time of asking in season 2020, hitting form emphatically in a 43-point win at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. The 2019 grand finalists shut out the Pioneers for over half of the 7.8 (50) to 1.1 (7) victory, with reigning league best and fairest Georgie Prespakis playing a starring role.

The Cannons edged ahead in the early stages of the hotly contested match, with repeated stoppages and the ball spending large chunks of time in dispute playing right into the hands of their classy ball winners. Prespakis dominated the opening term in her trademark long sleeves, getting first hands on the ball and feeding it out to teammates on the move. But it was NT prospect Freda Puruntatameri who could lay claim to having the most important impact on the quarter, booting the first two goals of the game. In a glimpse of her overall potential, the Palmerston product burst through traffic at a forward 50 stoppage on route to her first major, while later clunking a strong contested mark to set up a second. Already behind the ledger, the Pioneers began their game of catch-up at 16 points down and in need of some greater forward penetration having been kept scoreless.

After dual blows from Puruntatameri, it was Elizabeth Snell who delivered arguably the biggest of the second term – crunching Prespakis in a marking contest to see the leading ball winner helped off the ground and out for the remainder of the quarter. A 20-minute period of play ensued, with the ground-level arm-wrestle dragging on to make it a scrappy half amid windy conditions. A late Kayley Reid goal over the back was the only trouble for the scorers in terms of goals, with the 3.6 to 0.0 scoreline at the main break indicative of the state of play and Calder’s greater ability to penetrate once forward of centre. With Prespakis off, 19-year-old Grace Dicker and Emelia Yassir took over at the stoppages, working hard to spread from the contest and keep the ball rolling forward for Calder.

A quickfire goal to Calder fresh out of the sheds meant signs were beginning to look ominous for the scoreless Pioneers, with Puruntatameri having another hand in a Calder six-pointer – this time gathering from her own smother and handing off to Abbey McDonald for an ideal start to the term. But both sides were able to maintain their previous pressure around the ball, making it hard to create clear scoring chances. That changed when Dakota Villiva, who was enjoying time in the midfield, got just that, marking close to goal moments after seeing an initial set shot skew wide and into the arms of Natasha Kelly. The number 38 put through the Pioneers’ first goal with over seven minutes on the clock, but there would be no more majors for the term despite Calder hitting back late by cranking up the forward pressure. The game was all but put beyond doubt given the 26-point margin heading into the final break, but there was plenty still to play for given both sides came in 0-2 and have plenty of catching up to do.

With the final term somewhat of a formality, the Cannons still set out to pretty up the scoreboard, doing so with three unanswered goals to dissipate their earlier waywardness in front of goal. Dicker and Prespakis were the catalysts with their line-breaking abilities and breaches of the forward 50 arc, helping three new scorers get on the board. Another to generate that run-and-carry was Ella Nickolaus, who booted a classy goal on the move in her first game for the year in one of the highlights of the day. A Tahlia Gillard snap proved the cherry on top of a grinding Calder performance, with the Cannons taking home a well-earned first set of four points for 2020.

Prespakis’ 32 disposals, eight tackles, and seven inside 50s were made even more remarkable by the fact she missed a quarter of the game. Not far behind was Dicker (20 disposals, three tackles, four inside 50s), with her speed on the ball imperative as Calder maintained its steady lead in the second term. Puruntatameri’s two goals set the tone, while Yassir and Jessica Zakkour (both 16 disposals) were busy early, and Nickolaus helped in breaking the game open late. For Bendigo, the returning Snell (17 disposals, 10 tackles) was terrific around the ball, supported well by Annabel Strahan (18 disposals, eight tackles) and Villiva (16 disposals, eight tackles, one goal), while the defensive combination of Jemma Finning and Rachael Stubbings kept the Pioneers in the game.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.1 (7)
CALDER CANNONS 2.4 | 3.6 | 4.8 | 7.8 (50)

GOALS:

Bendigo: D. Villiva.
Calder: F. Puruntatameri 2, K. Reid, T. Gillard, A. McDonald, S. Meyers, E. Nickolaus.

ADC BEST:

Bendigo: J. Finning, E. Snell, D. Villiva, R. Stubbings, A. Strahan, H. Stewart
Calder: G. Prespakis, G. Dicker, F. Puruntatameri, E. Nickolaus, E. Yassir, T. Gillard

DC Medal:

5 – Georgie Prespakis (CC)
4 – Grace Dicker (CC)
3 – Jemma Finning (BP)
2 – Elizabeth Snell (BP)
1 – Freda Puruntatameri (CC)

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

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

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

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

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

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. WESTERN JETS

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

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

GIPPSLAND POWER v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

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

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

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. CALDER CANNONS

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

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

EASTERN RANGES v. TASSIE DEVILS

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

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

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.

Sandringham too strong for tackle-heavy Bendigo

SANDRINGHAM Dragons bounced back well from their Round 1 loss to come out impressive winners against Bendigo Pioneers, rocketing into fifth with the 44-point victory.

It was a hard and fast start for the Sandringham Dragons, peppering the posts but to no avail early, denying Bendigo any opportunity at scoring but missing chances at extending a solid margin. The sole goal of the quarter to Abbi Moloney (her first of three) was sandwiched by minor scores on either side, with the Dragons influential across the ground but not making the most of it inside 50. Sandringham’s defensive unit was hungry for the ball, making it tough for Bendigo to get clean hands to the footy. But while Bendigo had a tough time marking, especially under pressure from the Dragons, their tackling intensity was dialled up to 100 and collecting 10 more tackles overall thanks to the side attacking the ball well at ground level.

Dragons had a much better start to the second, with a lucky goal from Isabella Eddey putting her first on the board early in the second to stem the flow of behinds before backing it up with her second for the day moments later, at the end of an impressive chain from the centre bounce. While Sandringham had a much better quarter, so did Bendigo, collecting their first of the day to Tara Slender who took a great grab for a set shot. But despite continuing with the same tenacity for the rest of the quarter, the Pioneers had a tough time getting the ball cleanly inside 50 thanks to smothering defensive pressure up the ground from the Dragons. 

The third term saw the pressure from the Pioneers lift a notch, with each side only putting the one behind each on the board in an overall defensively minded quarter. Dominating the hitouts at half-time thanks to a dominant combination of Madeline Marks (13 hitouts, 11 disposals) and Abbey Barber (11 hitouts) the Pioneers side began to limit Sandringham’s clean disposals and denying them chances at breaking away from the pack to clear the footy, limiting precious run down the field for the Dragons and enabling Bendigo to put more pressure in their offence. 

The final quarter saw Sandringham well and truly run away with it, finding the goals with relative ease after a tough slog in the third. While Bendigo’s tackling pressure was monumental, Dragons worked through it with their cleanliness to break through the pack and clear the ball out to open space. While the Pioneers had some good chances defensively to turn the tables and propel the footy back up the field, messiness in the midfield allowed Sandringham too many opportunities intercept marking, rendering Bendigo unable to get out of the back 50.

In an all-round dominant performance from Sandringham, there were a number of key players who got the job done. Eddey’s two goals sparked the side into action while her 22 touches, six tackles and four inside 50s proved vital to run the ball downfield alongside ball magnets Sarah Hartwig (20 disposals, seven tackles, six marks) and Winnie Laing (22 touches, three marks, three tackles, three inside 50s), while Alice Burke also put in a strong effort with 19 touches and six tackles. For the Pioneers, the effort on field far outweighed the scoreline, with three players picking up seven tackles apiece proving the defensive pressure across the field. Brooke Hards and Dakota Villiva (both 15 disposals and seven tackles) were influential stopping easy access through the midfield, while Annabel Strahan was the side’s top ball user with 18 touches, five rebounds, four tackles and three marks in a solid all-round effort. While the goals dried up for Bendigo after Slender’s major, the side still put in a solid effort that was not indicative of the scoreline

Next round Sandringham travel to take on winless Gippsland Power on Sunday morning at Churchill Football Ground while Bendigo host last season’s grand finalists, Calder Cannons on Sunday afternoon at Epsom Huntly Reserve.

SANDRINGHAM 1.5 | 5.5 | 5.6 | 7.10 (52)
BENDIGO 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS

Sandringham: A. Moloney 3, I. Eddey 2, S. Hurley, B. Hipwell.
Bendigo: T. Slender.

ADC BEST

Sandringham:  I. Eddey, S. Hartwig, W. Laing, A. Burke, A. Moloney
Bendigo: A. Strahan, B. Hards, D. Villiva, R. Stubbings, M. Marks 

DC Medal:

5 – Isabella Eddy (SD)
4 – Sarah Hartwig (SD)
3 – Winnie Laing (SD)
2 – Annabel Strahan (BP)
1 – Alice Burke (SD)

Jets fly high with dominant second half

WESTERN Jets have opened the season with a win for the first time in their history, downing Bendigo Pioneers by 22 points at Queen Elizabeth Oval. The win on the road was set up by a terrific second half, where the Jets’ defensive structures held up and kept the Pioneers scoreless, while adding 2.4 themselves in a half that could have been even more fruitful with a few gettable shots missing. Despite having three players directly drafted from their top-end list last season, the Jets showed they have a lot of young talent coming through to support their sole AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabelle Pritchard with the likes of 15-year-olds Montana Ham and Charlotte Baskaran, and new top-age inclusion, Amelia Velardo.

The Jets scored their first goal less than a minute into the match with Olivia Forsythe winning a free kick and converting truly, only for Bendigo’s Billie Reidy to respond with an answering major a few minutes later. The home side soon hit the front with new inclusion, Natasha Kelly standing her ground and using good body work to turn around and kick a goal on the run from the square. Just as it looked like Bendigo had the momentum midway through the first term, Caitlin Sargent popped up with two goals in as many minutes, one from a great snap and another from a free kick to hand the Jets a six-point lead at the first break. Kelly had a chance for her second major early in the second quarter fending off an opponent, but instead handballed to a free Octavia Di Donato in the goalsquare who turned around and made no mistake. Another free kick to the Jets – this time through a 50m penalty – gifted Forsyth her second from point blank range. Kelly again had another chance to score with a great mark inside 50, but it fell just short and was rushed across the line. Heading into half-time, the Jets were again a goal clear of their opponents.

Little did onlookers know, the rushed behind in the second term would end up being the Pioneers’ last score of the game as Western added two more goals to its total, first through a Jemima Woods goal nine minutes into the third term. They were not without a number of chances though as Ham went for a run down the wing with multiple bounces and almost led to a goal had it not been for a goal-saving tackle from the Pioneers. Trinity Skenderis also had a couple of chances in the third term, with a set shot going into the player on the mark, but she got the goal she was looking for in the final term, earning another 50m penalty and kicking from the top of the goalsquare. The margin arguably could have been greater too, with Sargent having a chance for her third from the top of the square five minutes into the last, but could not get it done, spraying it to the side. Throughout the game it was hard not to notice Bendigo Pioneers’ co-captain Brooke Hards who did all she could to will her side across the line. Along with Jemma Finning coming out of defence, and co-captain Annabel Strahan also finding plenty of the ball, they worked hard through the four quarters but would ultimately come up short against a really impressive Western outfit.

Ham finished the day with a game-high 21 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and three rebounds for her troubles, while Velardo had some eye-opening moments with her movement and ability to ruck and then rove her own plays. She had 16 disposals, nine hitouts and three inside 50s, constantly putting pressure on the Bendigo defence. Baskaran was a welcome addition coming from the back half and pushing up to the wing, always getting to the right positions and finishing the match with 19 touches, seven tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Pritchard showed once again why she is rated so highly, finding the ball in all three areas of the ground, starting through the midfield, drifting forward to have a shot on goal, then holding up the defence in the last term. For the Pioneers, Hards was the clear standout with 18 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds, with her competitiveness showing in the final term when she gave away a free kick but she could not have done much more. Finning (13 disposals, two marks, three tackles and four rebounds), Strahan (15 disposals) and Maeve Tupper (11 disposals, three marks and four tackles) found plenty of the ball, while Kelly impressed far more than her four touches might suggest given she set up a couple of scoring opportunities as well as kicking a goal herself.

Next week the Jets are at RMIT Bundoora, where they take on Murray Bushrangers, while the Pioneers head up to Craigieburn for a clash with fellow Round 1 losers, Sandringham Dragons to try and get on the board in season 2020.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.1 (19)
WESTERN JETS 3.0 | 4.1 | 5.3 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS:

Bendigo: B. Reidy, N. Kelly, O. Di Donato.
Western: C. Sargent 2, O. Forsyth 2, J. Woods, T. Skenderis.

BEST:

Bendigo: B. Hards, J. Finning, M. Tupper, A. Strahan, N. Kelly
Western: M. Ham, C. Baskaran, A. Velardo, I. Pritchard, C. Sargent

DC Medal:

5 – Montana Ham (WJ)
4 – Brooke Hards (BP)
3 – Charlotte Baskaran (WJ)
2 – Amelia Velardo (WJ)
1 – Isabelle Pritchard (WJ)

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.

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Girls – Round 6

ROUND 6 of the NAB League Girls saw a host players out with AFL Women’s Academy duties but that did not stop the Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights from continuing their winning ways. Geelong once again proved to be the front runners of the competition while Oakleigh also flexed their muscles with a big win over Murray. The round also saw some close clashes between the Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons along with Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Sandringham Dragons with both games coming down to two kicks or less.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 10.7 (67)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Gippsland: G. McRae, N. Webber, S. Walker.
Northern: L. Picioane 3, J. Simpson 2,  J. Fitzgerald 2, N. Morris-Dalton, T. Smart, M. Ramsay.

BEST:

Gippsland: G. McRae, C. Abrahams , M. Fitzsimon, S. Walker, M. Van Berkel, N. Webber
Northern: J. Fitzgerald, P. Chisholm, N. Morris-Dalton, A. Snow, M. Chaplin, L. Picioane

After a slow start, Northern Knights pulled away from Gippsland Power to ensure they remained undefeated after six rounds and sitting just two points behind Geelong Falcons on top of the table. In the match against the Power, Northern booted nine goals to three after quarter time to secure the 10.7 (67) to 3.4 (22) win, but not without some resistance from the home side. After the match was moved from Preston City Oval to Garfield, the Knights became the visitors but looked all at home once they had settled in despite missing an number of their top stars – Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, Ellie McKenzie and Sarah Sansonetti – who were all out on AFL Women’s Academy duties. The Knights’ depth stepped up in their absence, with Jess Fitzgerald being the key influencer through the midfield, collecting 16 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and booting two goals, while Phoebe Chisholm led her side for disposals with 19, as well as two marks, four tackles and five rebounds. Ash Snow was prolific around the ground, while Nell Morris-Dalton continued her strong season rotating between ruck and forward, while Lanarose Picioane who booted three majors in an impressive performance up forward. For Gippsland, Grace McRae was named the best for her 19 disposals, three tackles and a goal, while Chandra Abrahams and Megan Fitzsimon continued their great seasons, combining for 49 disposals, 12 tackles and eight inside 50s in a losing side. Nikia Webber also had a solid performance with a goal, while Matilda Van Berkel was strong at half-back.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 5.3 | 8.7 | 11.8 (74)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 (20)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Oakleigh: J. D”Amato 2, M. Bertuna 2, T. Morton, A. Peck, E. Harley, N. Xenos, K. Kearns, T. Cowan, A. van Oosterwijck.
Murray: C. Boschetti 2, T. Verhoeven.

BEST:

Oakleigh: C. O”Malley, M. Bertuna, M. Hill, N. Xenos, J. Lin, G. Byrne
Murray: S. Locke, L. Sharp, K. Adams, C. Boschetti, A. Smith, A. Favell

Oakleigh Chargers have bounced back from their second loss of the season to record a huge nine-goal win over Murray Bushrangers. Both sides were close in the first term with two goals apiece, before the Chargers kicked away with a three goals to one second term to open up a 14-point lead. Despite their determination in the first half, Murray was unable to restrict Oakleigh in the second half as the Chargers booted six goals to zero to run out 11.8 (74) to 3.2 (20) winners. Jasmine D’Amato and Melanie Bertuna both booted two goals for the Chargers among nine individual goalkickers in a massive team effort. Captain Mimi Hill led from the front with 20 touches, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Chloe O’Malley was named best on ground for her 14 disposals, three tackles and two inside 50s. Nicola Xenos was influential in getting the ball inside 50 with 13 disposals, one mark, four tackles, five inside 50s and a goal, while Emily Harley booted another goal to take her season tally to 11. For Murray, Sophie Locke was named the best, collecting 13 disposals, four marks and four rebounds while laying an equal-team high eight tackles. Abby Favell was the top disposal winner once again with 14 touches, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s, while Teagan Brett had 13 disposals and eight tackles in the defeat. Oakleigh now sits sixth after the win, just two points outside the top four, while Murray are ninth but still clear of the Rebels, Jets and Power.

 

EASTERN RANGES 0.1 | 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 (29)
CALDER CANNONS 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.7 (25)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Gibbs, S. Collard, T. Flintoff, J. Dunning.
Calder: G. Prespakis, T. Gillard, E. Yassir.

BEST:

Eastern: T. Flintoff, E. Horne, S. Gibbs, T. Merrett, M. Edwards
Calder: G. Prespakis, F. Theodore, N. Crowley, K. Lennox, T. Gillard, Z. Hardiman

Eastern Ranges have kept themselves in contention for finals heading into the last three rounds after an impressive four-point win over Calder Cannons. The Ranges are now within percentage of the top four, sitting just adrift of both Calder and Bendigo Pioneers who sit third and fourth respectively with 16 points apiece. It was a fairly scrappy game throughout with both sides applying plenty of defensive pressure around the ground as Eastern’s talls stood out with their strong marking at both ends. Where possible the Ranges moved the ball quickly with short, sharp passes, whereas Calder wanted to run the ball and kick long inside 50. Both methods were effective at times throughout the game, but the key defence of Eastern held strong with Tahlia Merrett taking a number of good intercept marks in defensive 50. Serena Gibbs also provided an option between half-back and half-forward, taking marks and booting the ball long to put it in front of the Eastern runners. Tahlia Gillard provided that target for Calder and early looked like breaking the game open, booting a goal and missing a couple of opportunities before the home side restricted the inside 50 entries. Georgie Prespakis and Tess Flintoff were impressive for their respective sides providing plenty of run, while Tarni Brown and Felicity Theodore assisted well through the midfield. In a see-sawing final term that almost saw Calder steal the win through Emelia Yassir, it took until the final minute for Flintoff to mark inside 50 against the boundary and calmly slotted the set shot for the four-point win.

 

WESTERN JETS 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 (1)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 7.2 | 11.3 | 12.4 (76)

By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Western: Nil.
Geelong: M. Skinner 4, P Schaap 2, R.Tierney 2, T. Lewis 2, J. Robinson, A. McKee

BEST

Western: J. Woods, E. Georgostathis, A. Anthony, C. Singleton, N. Wright, R. Tripodi
Geelong: P. Sheppard, M. Skinner, L. Lesosky-Hay, R. Tierney, A. McKee, G. Featherston

It was tough muck for the Western Jets on Sunday afternoon as they hosted ladder leaders, Geelong Falcons at Williamstown. Despite a relatively even first quarter the undefeated Falcons were able to pull away and deny the Jets opportunities in front of goal, running away to a 75 point win. The Jets started well defensively, crowding the Falcons and making it difficult to get a clear kick on goal, but were unable to move the ball downfield to their advantage. A beautiful kick inside 50 from Geelong debutant, Gabbi Featherston set up the first goal of the game after almost eight minutes of play, showing how well the Jets held their ground early. However, Western’s good fortune dwindled from there as the Falcons used their depth of their talent to kick away.

The Falcons proved to be dangerous up forward as the Jets struggled to contain their opposition without two of their main ball magnets in Isabella Grant and Isabelle PritchardPaige Sheppard (22 disposals, four tackles, five inside 50s) and Luka Lesosky-Hay (20 disposals, two tackles) switched on as the Falcons started to pile on the majors, with the likes of Renee TierneyTamika Lewis and Poppy Schaap kicking two goals apiece while Mia Skinner (four goals, 18 disposals) put on her best performance so far this season. Tierney’s tackling pressure was crucial, notching up eight as the Jets tried to force their way through Geelong’s defensive setup, while Lesosky-Hay showed some good footy smarts as she continuously pushed the contest back up the ground.

The Jets were unable to break through Geelong’s midfield barricade as the Falcons crowded and contested every possession, outrunning the Jets and scooping up the ground ball with precision. The Jets showed some good signs in attack in the third quarter, managing some great passages of play through the middle of the ground. Though unable to capitalise, Western’s defensive pressure inside forward 50 granted them opportunities in front of goal, gifting them their only score of the game – a rushed behind off the back of a good attempt on goal from Taya MeiersElisabeth Georgostathis (14 disposals, six tackles, six rebounds) showed her versatility in the backline, with her ability to read the play enabling her to know where the ball would be placed. Georgostathis was arguably one of the best for the Jets, putting constant pressure on her opposition, while a fantastic tackle in the final quarter saved an almost certain goal. Taylah Kolevski dominated hitouts with 23 alone, also racking up four tackles.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe 2, E. Snell, B. Hards.
Dandenong: S. Stratton.

BEST:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe, T. Slender, B. Hards, E. Gretgrix, A. Strahan, M. Tupper
Dandenong: Z. Hill, G. Hodder, J. Radford, G. Howes, B. Vernon, K. McKenzie

Bendigo Pioneers have given themselves a terrific shot at finals after overcoming Dandenong Stingrays by three goals at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. In a low-scoring affair, the Pioneers got the job done by restricting the Stingrays to just one goal in the game, and only four behinds after quarter time. Despite this, the game was tight throughout and it was not until the final goal of the game that the Pioneers could relax and enjoy their fourth win of the season. Jordyn Jolliffe played the best game of the season with 20 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s, two tackles and two goals in a best-on-ground effort, while Tara Slender was terrific up the other end, racking up 12 disposals, five marks, three tackles and two rounds in the win. The midfield of Brooke Hards, Eloise Gretgrix, Maeve Tupper and Annabel Strahan again took control in the absence of key Stingrays, Molly McDonald, Tyanna Smith and Isabella Shannon. Hards and Tupper both had 18 touches with Hards also laying eight tackles and having three inside 50s and four rebounds. For the Stingrays, Zoe Hill stood tall in defence with 12 disposals, three marks and three rebounds, while Brooke Vernon‘s super season continued, amassing 18 touches, four marks, five inside 50s and six rebounds, while Grace Hodder laid seven tackles from her 15 disposals. With Geelong Falcons, Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers in the final three rounds, the finals are within the Pioneers’ control in what is a tough draw on the run home. The Stingrays can still make finals if they can topple Oakleigh Chargers next round with Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets in the final two weeks.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.2 (26)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 (33)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

GWV: E. Friend 3, R. Saulitis.
Sandringham: E. Angelopoulos 2, C. Murphy 2, I. Eddey.

BEST:

GWV: E. Wood, N. Dojiok, N. Butler, A. Trigg, E. Friend, G. Pidgeon
Sandringham: W. Laing, C. Cody, P. Staltari, G. Strangio, I. Eddey, C. Murphy

It was a tight contest from start to finish with Sandringham Dragons claiming a seven-point victory over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. It was neck and neck in the first term with either side unable to pull away going into quarter time at seven points apiece. The Dragons piled on two goals in the third term, keeping GWV to just one point for the quarter. But the Rebels were not going down without a fight applying all the scoreboard pressure to come within striking distance but just falling short after a gallant effort. Without Sophie Molan and Maggie Caris, GWV looked to the likes of Renee Saulitis to lead the way. Saulitis made her presence felt on the field slotting a major, she was ably assisted by teammate Ella Friend. Friend dominated for the Rebels kicking three goals, racking up 10 disposals and laying a team high six tackles. Nyakoat Dojiok also led the way for her side with a team high 18 touches and four inside 50s showcasing the work she does across the ground. She was closely followed by Brook Thompson who also amassed four inside 50s, while 12 of her 15 disposals were kicks. Georgia Pidgeon also impressed with 14 touches while Ally Trigg took five marks to accompany her 10 disposals. Sandringham were missing some key players with Alice Burke, Eliza McNamara and Molly Denahy Maloney all out with AFL Women’s Academy duties but that did not seem to stop them from claiming the four points. Charli Murphy showed her hand up forward slotting two majors for the game while Ebony Angelopoulos also chipped in with her two goals. Through the midfield the Dragons were led by Winnie Laing who finished the afternoon with a game high 20 disposals and seven tackles. She was helped out by Chloe Saultry who amassed 16 touches with all of them kicks and a whopping six inside 50s. Bella Eddey was also impressive for Sandringham getting involved on the scoreboard, laying six tackles and racking up 13 touches for her efforts.

Team of the Week: NAB League Girls – Round 5

BENDIGO Pioneers’ impressive win over Gippsland Power has resulted in four players receiving spots in the Draft Central NAB League Girls’ Team of the Week for Round 5. The Pioneers had the most of any club for the round, one more than Geelong Falcons, while a further seven clubs had two players each. The Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers all had the one player each after defeats on the weekend.

The Pioneers midfield was ultra impressive and Brooke Hards, Annabel Strachan and Hannah Stewart all made the side, along with goalsneak mid-forward Elizabeth Snell who bagged five majors and earned the title of Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 4. The Geelong Falcons had another impressive win on the weekend, coming from behind to knock off Dandenong Stingrays and were rewarded with three players in Team of the Week, captain Lucy McEvoy, full-forward Renee Tierney and midfielder Paige Sheppard. Their opponents the Stingrays had two players each, with defender Brooke Vernon in the side for a fourth week, as well as Georgia Howes who was impressive up forward.

Also in defence is Sandringham Dragons’ Alice Burke and Sarah Hartwig, with Hartwig and Western Jets’ Isabelle Pritchard likely to form the defensive duo in Vic Metro’s campaign at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Pritchard is joined in the side by teammate Isabella Grant on the wing. On the other wing is Georgia Patrikios who stood out in Calder Cannons’ win over Murray Bushrangers, while Alana Barba has been named at centre half-forward. Sophie McCarthy booted three goals up the other end of the ground at RAMS Arena to earn a spot in the pocket.

Northern Knights Team of the Week regulars, Britney Gutknecht and Gabby Newton made the team once again, while Eastern Ranges opponents Tarni Brown and Serena Gibbs were impressive throughout and also earned nods in our team for Round 5. The other side with two players in the Team of the Week was Oakleigh Chargers, with Mimi Hill (half-back) and Alana Porter making the side. To round out the team is Gippsland Power defender Matilda Van Berkel who has been in good form the last few weeks in defence.