Tag: anne hatchard

2021 AFLW Preview: Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE will aim to catapult itself back into premiership contention after an injury-riddled 2020 season. Head coach Matthew Clarke has made some major changes to his coaching staff, with club greats Scott Thompson and Tom Lynch joining the panel. The trio will restock Adelaide’s side with a number of returning premiership stars.

2020 RECAP
The Crows finished sixth in Conference A last year, winning just two of their six matches. Premiership players Chelsea Randall and Chloe Scheer missed the entire season with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions, while Deni Varnhagen and superstar Erin Phillips only played three matches between them as they returned from their own respective knee issues. Injuries to several other players meant that the Crows were forced to blood more and more youngsters as the season progressed. Adelaide’s two wins came early in the season against St Kilda and Geelong, two sides that did not qualify for finals in 2020. Realistically, the Crows just struggled to move the ball from end to end and failed to apply enough pressure on opposition sides.

A shining light throughout 2020 was midfielder Anne Hatchard, who won their best and fairest and made the AFLW All-Australian side after averaging 25 disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s per game. Tackling machine Ebony Marinoff was effective alongside her at the clearances, but the pair did not get much help from the Crows’ wingers or forwards, particularly late in the season. Sarah Allan was the side’s other strong performer, as she led Adelaide’s defence well and was rewarded with a spot in the All-Australian side.

NEW FACES
Lively forward Jess Sedunary returns to the club after playing one season for expansion side St Kilda. Sedunary was a premiership player for the Crows in 2017 and is a proven goalkicker at senior level. Although she is coming off a broken fibula and may take some time to reach full strength, she will bring a wealth of leadership and experience to the group. Former Giant Lisa Whiteley will be an important addition to the Crows’ defence, while young winger Hannah Munyard, who has good pace and skills, provides some much-needed depth after playing three games for the Bulldogs in her debut season.

Draftees Teah Charlton, Rachelle Martin and Ash Woodland are three readymade recruits that should make an immediate impact for the club. Charlton, taken with pick four in the AFLW Draft, is a talented midfielder and half-forward from South Adelaide with goal sense, effective ball use, overhead marking ability and aggression. Expect her to be in the running for the NAB AFLW Rising Star Award. Midfielder Martin won the South Australian National Football League Women’s (SANFLW) 2020 best and fairest award (alongside Hatchard) and played a match for the Crows last year as an injury-replacement player. Flexible utility Woodland gained AFLW experience for Melbourne in 2019 before winning North Adelaide’s best and fairest award last year in a premiership side. She also won the SANFLW Leading Goalkicker award in 2020.

With Randall, Scheer, Varnhagen, Hannah Button, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Phillips all set for full seasons this year after serious injuries in 2020, they can be considered ‘new faces’ as well. On the other hand, Adelaide loses veteran Courtney Gum along with premiership players Jess Foley, Courtney Cramey and Sophie Li to retirement.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021
Chelsea Randall is the one to watch. She is arguably the most courageous defender in AFLW and her skills, leadership and football IQ were sorely missed last year. With Randall positioned alongside Allan and Marijana Rajcic in defence, Adelaide should prove very difficult to score against.

Justine Mules is the other Crow to keep an eye on. She finished third in Adelaide’s 2020 best and fairest count after averaging 11 disposals, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. The two-time premiership player has shown continuous improvement since her debut season and looks set to have a major impact on a wing in 2021.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT
Two words: premiership experience. With 19 premiership players on their list, the Crows have more of these than any other side in the competition. This experience will prove valuable in finals, and it is well known that the Crows’ top names are made for the biggest stage. With numerous young players rising up the ranks and some veterans nearing the end of their careers, the hunger to recapture premiership glory should be there as well.

QUESTION MARK
Adelaide’s lack of depth is their biggest question mark. This was exposed last season following injuries to their franchise players, as the young Crows struggled to hold up their end of the bargain. However, this experience could prove valuable for the inexperienced players as they should now be more comfortable competing at senior level. Additionally, the inclusions of Sedunary, Whiteley, Munyard and the draftees should help improve their depth.

FINAL WORD
A line-up that includes Randall, Marinoff, Hatchard, Phillips and Allan is a scary proposition for any opposition side. The Crows have elite talents all across the ground and should catapult back into finals contention, but it is unclear whether they are truly premiership contenders. Fremantle, North Melbourne and Carlton were the best sides in 2020 and deserve favouritism ahead of the Crows at this stage.

Much of Adelaide’s hopes depend on the fitness and agility of the seasoned players returning from injury. Their forward line was the main area that struggled last year, as they often failed to lock the ball inside their forward 50 and relied far too heavily on Stevie-Lee Thompson, Eloise Jones and Danielle Ponter. The returns of Scheer, Phillips, Sedunary and Button should help spread the workload in this area.

We we will learn more about the Crows’ premiership aspirations when their season gets underway on the 30th of January against the Demons.



For more AFLW news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #7 Nikki Gore

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number seven with Adelaide’s Nikki Gore.

Being a one-club state and the most successful club in the AFL Women’s history, there are plenty of Adelaide talents yet to really stamp their authority at the elite level. The club is brimming with depth, more so than just about any other club, and it is especially difficult to crack into the midfield of the Crows, with so much experience rolling through there. For recently turned 20-year-old Gore, the 164cm midfielder is one who could really make the transition from prospective talent into star quality.

The eighth selection in the 2018 AFL Women’s National Draft made her debut in Round 6 of the 2019 season, and has managed seven games in her two seasons, booting two goals. Having emerged through the South Australian pathway – playing in a premiership with Christies Beach and then back-to-back flags at South Adelaide – the ball magnet is no stranger to success. It has been Adelaide’s success that has kept the talent biding her time in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

Gore is a huge tackler which matches her offensive attributes, not afraid to throw herself at the contest and win the hardball, as well as spread to the outside and use her unbelievable pace to burst away from congestion. Having only played the one game in the Crows’ second premiership season of 2019, Gore started to establish herself in the AFL Women’s side more often, earning six games in 2020, where she averaged the 6.5 disposals.

Her preferred role is on the inside, but when the likes of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff are there, it makes it difficult to have permanent minutes onball. However with Erin Phillips returning to have a proper full season, the likes of Gore playing through the midfield allows the talented Phillips – and players such as Eloise Jones who can play midfield – to play forward and use their strength overhead to dominate opposition defenders.

Whilst South Adelaide fell short of the flag in 2020, Gore was a key contributor to the side, particularly once the competition resumed later in the season, and the midfielder never took a backwards step. With the youth at the Crows continually growing – now including South Adelaide teammates such as Hannah Munyard and Teah Charlton – Adelaide is a huge chance to win its third flag, and the likes of Gore stepping up will only help achieve that goal.

2020 AFLW Draft review: Adelaide Crows

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We begin the countdown with Adelaide Crows, one of two teams with a monopoly on their chosen state.

Adelaide:

#4 – Teah Charlton (South Adelaide/Central Allies)
#45 – Rachelle Martin (West Adelaide)
#47 – Ashleigh Woodland (North Adelaide)

The Crows rewarded great form in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition by picking up equal league best and fairest winner, Rachelle Martin and leading goalkicker, Ashleigh Woodland. The experienced pair have both tasted AFL Women’s football before, with Martin being a train-on partner for the Crows who managed to play due to the 2020 injury crisis, whilst Woodland was on Melbourne’s list in 2019.

The pair join the clear standout South Australian prospect in Teah Charlton who was no surprise to join the tri-colours in the draft, coming off a few great years with South Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s and South Australia and Central Allies at the Under-18 Championships. All three players could play from Round 1 if required, and with the Crows having a number of injured players returning, they should be flag favourites.

Adelaide’s depth is unbelievable, and what makes these three selections so great is the fact that they can slot in across multiple positions. One would expect Charlton to play forward and then push up the ground to impact through the middle, but her clean hands and ability to hit the scoreboard is a feature of her game. The teenager oozes X-factor and you can just see her adding an extra element to an already stacked forward line.

Martin is predominantly an inside bull, which is where she does her best work and expect her to play, but she can also play inside 50 and be that pressure forward to add to the class around her. Her second and third efforts are as good as anyone’s, and she is a fierce tackler who is not afraid to bring down opponents. Expect her to work well with fellow SANFL Women’s league best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard in midfield, as well as Ebony Marinoff as another big tackler.

Woodland is one who will easily step up at AFL Women’s level and has that experience from training in an elite environment at the Dees, and coming back to state league level and dominating, she is ready to cement herself in the best side. She will likely play forward as a leading target, but depending on how the Crows utilise Eloise Jones, Woodland could also play off half-back – as she did through the South Australian All-Stars game – or through the middle as a natural ball winner.

There was never any doubt that Adelaide would emerge as big winners from the draft, but the Crows have added three players who can immediately step up and play a role in the best side for prolonged periods of time, with Charlton a star of the future.

Charlton prepared to live out “dream come true”

A PASSIONATE Crows fan and talented teenager who has been touted as one of South Australia’s top young talents in recent years, Teah Charlton is not far away from living out her dream of playing at the elite level. One of four players to receive an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation, Charlton is not expected to last too long on the board having already come through the Crows Academy, and won All-Australian honours in her middle-age year as well as a premiership and a Breakthrough Player Award during her debut season in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

The talented midfielder/forward followed her brother into the sport and has gone from strength to strength and to the top of the elite junior pathway as an AFL Women’s National Academy member and representing both South Australia and Central Allies at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

“I started off watching my brother when he was younger, and I kind of just got a bit interested in it,” Charlton said. “Started playing when I was 11 for the boys team in under 12s and then once I was too old for the boys, I kind of waited around for like a girl’s team to pop up. “That happened to be the Under 14s South tournament that happened. “It’s just kind of gone on from there. “I played at Christie’s (Beach) for two years in Under 18s and then I got involved with the state program from 15 years-old.”

From the moment of picking up a ball, not even spending a “year or so” out of the game could deter her from rejoining the code.

“Once I started playing, I knew I wanted to get as high as possible,” Charlton said. “Obviously that’s become an opportunity now, and hopefully I can take that.”

Along with her football, Charlton also grew up playing netball, and did surf lifesaving for a large portion of her life. But it was football that called to her thanks to the “rough side of it”.

“I love getting in tackling and, you know, kinda letting my anger out a little bit,” Charlton said. “But also just like the community and getting to know so many new girls and yeah, I don’t know. “Life pass.”

Charlton said coming through the South Australian State Academy and National Women’s Academy was a massive boost, able to not only learn the on-field skills, but the off-field attributes that were required to take the step up to the elite level.

As I’ve progressed in a state program, it’s really taught me a lot of professionalism and how to act in an elite environment, which has been really beneficial,” Charlton said. “And obviously, with the NAB Academy going on, that really showed me what it takes to become an AFL player and that step further, you have to take to achieve at the highest possible level.”

Charlton started off playing purely through the midfield due to her “long distance kind of fit” which boded well with running out games. But in recent years, she has spent more time forward and plays as that high forward to be able to impact both the contest and the scoreboard in games.

Earning a spot with the Central Allies last season, Charlton was one of the most impressive middle-agers with her ability to fly for huge marks, but also lay some bone-crunching tackles. It was her second year at the championships, and she said she had gained confidence from her first year up on the Gold Coast where she showed she could belong.

“Well, obviously, in the first year I did it, I was like in the under-age group, and I was very nervous to go up there because I didn’t know whether or not I could bring it up to that level,” Charlton said. “But I just knew having that one year of experience the next year proved to myself that I could bring it. “I don’t know, like I was able to compete at that level, and I could play like the game I wanted to play up against the best in Australia.”

She described being named in the All-Australian side as a “surprise” but said it was great to know that you could be any age to achieve that. The successful championships came off the back of a South Adelaide premiership, where she played a crucial role in the Panthers’ run to their second title.

“It was very good, because it was with all of my friends,” Charlton said. “I was I able to celebrate with all, like, the closest girls that I kind of had that football journey with and yeah, just celebrating it with girls that, like I’m the most close with.”

Not only did she take home a premiership medallion, but was declared the Breakthrough Player of the Year – effectively the Rising Star Award – which is something she enjoyed.

“I was very nervous because I knew I had been nominated,” Charlton said. “But yeah, taking that home, I was just incredibly humbled and proud of my achievements. “And yeah, just things where I could take my football from that point.”

Fast forward to 2020 and Charlton was again playing a big role for the Panthers as they reached yet another SANFL Women’s Grand Final. Unfortunately for them, this time it would end in defeat as the side they defeated in the 2019 decider, North Adelaide, would reverse the result in 2020 and complete an undefeated season.

“I feel like South, we kind of lost a few people (over the off-season),” Charlton said. “A few people went to different clubs, but we definitely picked up all of that talent back again from all the local leagues. “But yeah, going into the season, we were confident that we could make it back to the grand final. “But on the day North was just too strong for us.”

Charlton has an array of strengths, including her overhead marking, goal sense, X-factor and tackle pressure, not to mention her athleticism. For the top prospect herself, it is her aggression at the football, and taking the game on that she sees as her best strengths. As for her improvements, she is always looking to build up her ability to kick on her opposite foot, as well as her movement around the stoppages.

No doubt the Crows supporter cannot wait for AFL Women’s Draft night, with Adelaide having a monopoly on the South Australian group and Charlton is widely tipped to be the first selection in the group, For the teenager, it is something she has always dreamed of, reaching the elite level for the side she supports.

“Ever since I started watching football, it’s always been Adelaide Crows,” Charlton said. “And then when the women’s teams came in, obviously I went straight for a South Australian team, and yeah, I’ve been following them ever since.”

Charlton said there were plenty of teammates who helped her throughout her career, but one in particular stood out when she entered the Crows Academy.

“I don’t know, probably because from a young age, like I was involved a lot around with Ebony Marinoff,” she said. “When I started training out at the Crows, she really brought me in and showed me around and made sure all the girls got to know who I was and make sure I could slot right in.”

Having to play against Marinoff and the likes of Crows’ club champion Anne Hatchard in the SANFL Women’s, Charlton said it was a little surreal at first, but then once the ball is bounced, they are just like any other opponent.

“Definitely before the game you always kind of think to yourself like, ‘Oh, these girls are from the next level, like, how hard is it gonna be against them?’ Charlton said. “And I don’t know, just feel like that extra bit of nerves standing next to them on the field. “But obviously, once the game starts, you kinda fall back into your own game and just play how you wanna play.”

While Marinoff has been her on-field mentor, Charlton said her father had been her off-field one. The Panthers youngster said he had the most influence on her career coming through the various programs.

“I may be a little biased, but my dad has always been there for me from the start during games. “He will come up to me and just give me a few pointers and I feel like I’ve really benefited from that. “So yeah, my dad’s been a huge influence on my game.”

As for her goals this year, Charlton said she often tries to set game-to-game goals be it disposals or tackles depending on her role and position, but at the end of the day, there is only one main goal and it is just over a week away from being accomplished.

“Honestly, it would just be like a dream come true (to be drafted),” Charlton said. “Like I’ve been wanting this for a very long time now and if that happens, honestly, I’ll be over the moon.”

Kohn comes on in leaps and bounds for Bays

SOME players might struggle to get out of bed on a Saturday for an afternoon game, others might ride a casual 150km. Glenelg inside midfielder Tessa Kohn was certainly the latter, prior to entering the South Australia National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. The elite cyclist admitted she “didn’t take it (Under 18s footy) seriously” and cycling was what had taken her to high levels.

“Well I got in through talent identification, I started that in Year 8 because of my running abilities they were good, so I got in and I did that in Year 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 for five years,” Kohn said. “And I did Oceania’s and I got placing at Oceania’s and stuff like that. “I would go to Nationals and basically I was riding 14 times a week or like 10 times a week or gym sessions. “Footy was just fun in Under 18s, I didn’t take it seriously. “Basically I would race or ride 150km on a Saturday morning and rock up to my footy game on Saturday arvo.”

Times certainly changed once she moved into the League competition, winning the Under 18s best and fairest despite focusing primarily on her cycling. Over the off-season, Kohn moved up from her Under 18s role at Morphettville Park to play for Glenelg and have a breakthrough season. Prior to that, the talented teenager represented Sacred Heart in the college competition each year, but had not taken the plunge just yet. In her final year of school, she decided to make that step up.

“Last year I thought ‘oh I might give it a crack in an amateur league’,” Kohn said. “So I started playing for Morphettville Park in the Under 18s and the Women’s teams. “I played about half a season there (Morphettville Park) and then went to Glenelg.”

While some players might have struggled to get up to speed with the new sport, Kohn said her aerobic capacity and playing other sports as a youngster had allowed her to smoothly transition into the oblong-shaped ball game.

Well I have always been into sport so it wasn’t that hard,” Kohn said. “The skill part I was obviously still developing and I still had to pick that up, but the aggression and attack on the ball wasn’t that hard to pick up. “It was just the preseason gave me a really good look. “We had a lot of trial games leading up to the season so that made it a lot less daunting. “After the first game, all the nerves were gone and I reckon I was ready to go. “After just 10 games I have learnt quite a lot.”

She certainly proved she belonged at the level, taking just four rounds to earn a Breakthrough Player Award for her efforts on the inside. In the loss to Woodville-West Torrens Eagles, Kohn had a game-high 18 disposals, as well as seven clearances and five tackles – in just her fourth game of senior football.

“That was amazing,” Kohn said. “I did not expect that at all. “I think when I saw my name at the top of stats I was like ‘oh my god did I really touch the ball that much?’. “Basically, I was so surprised I did not expect that at all.”

Kohn said she did not know what to expect coming into the competition, having dominated at Under 18s level for Morphettville Park, as her 2019 league best and fairest award attests to.

“Prior to Glenelg I played in the Under 18s at Morphettville and I played pretty much in the midfield and I pretty much dominated that,” Kohn said. “Because of that I didn’t know where I was going to play. “I thought because of the female team I’d be put on a wing or something. But after our first few trainings and me going and taking time, I think about two months to get my skills up to date with everyone else’s…. I was always playing in the mid but they started playing me as the attacking mid.”

Transitioning from the outside to the inside and Kohn’s exact role for the 2020 season took plenty of discussions amongst the coaching group, but in the end, the 18-year-old lined up onball. Unfortunately following that breakthrough performance in Round 4, everything Kohn had worked for had come to a grind halt.

The SANFL Women’s competition was postponed and would not restart for another few months, and Kohn was back to cycling to stay fit. It allowed her to not only maintain her fitness, but come back stronger and more driven, particularly when one Ebony Marinoff arrived at training and raised the bar for the rest of the playing group.

“That was actually an amazing experience,” Kohn said. “It was really, really nice seeing how hard ‘Noffy’ (Marinoff) trains and seeing the levels I need to be at. “Basically I had a trial game and that was with the Bays girls, so just an internal trial. “So the three Adelaide girls were on one team and I was on the other team and basically when I played or against them, it just rose my levels so much higher. “I feel like by COVID happening it was the best thing for my footy career because I’ve had three or four girls back from the AFL who are absolutely amazing. “It just made me realise, it rose our training levels and our game levels by a lot more and it made our skills and everything a lot better.”

Kohn said playing with and against AFL Women’s players lifted her game, but she was not phased by the challenge of taking on South Australia’s top footballers. Except Adelaide best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard who Kohn admitted was “a bit intimidating” to play on and named her as her toughest opponent “by far” to play on.

Assessing her on-field performance, Kohn said her clearance ability – leading the league in clearances after four rounds in her debut season – running and perseverant attitude were among her strengths, as was her attack on the football. As for areas of improvement, she is still building up her skills and working on some athletic traits, with the off-season a key focus for her strength conditioning, vertical jump and 20m sprint.

Her skills have been a work in progress, but Kohn is always striving to be the best possible player she could be, and her work through repetition helped her get up to standard.

“Well because I’d already played touch footy, I already had ground balls were like I was good at and handballs,” Kohn said. “And because I played basketball at a high level, my marking was fine. “It was just my kicking, so I reckon in preseason for about five months, including COVID the time there, I just kicked the ball every day, I was just so determined to get out on the field and not be the one of the worst kicks. “I didn’t want to let my team down. “Especially because I get so many clearances, I can’t have a terrible kick if I’m ripping it out of the pack trying to get it forward.”

It is no surprise to see her teammate Marinoff as one of her inspirations, having seen first hand how hard she worked week-in, week-out and wanted to become the best possible player she could be on-field.

“I don’t really have a football idol because I came in so late and I believe with athletes, I believe that in how hard they work,” Kohn said when asked of an inspiration along her football journey. “But I would say because of COVID and how the AFLW girls came back and I would say with Ebony Marinoff and how I would rotate with her through attacking mid from the forward line and she was just her intensity and the way she would help me out so I would understand. “She was such a good coach/player. “It was just how many extra hours she put in the gym and on the running field. “It was just inspiring to see what I need to do to get to her level.”

For Kohn, it is about nailing the fundamentals and giving herself the best preparation available to play at the elite level. She said she dreams of playing at the top grade one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, and has her sights set on having a big preseason and huge 2021. Not only does she want to make the grade, but succeed at it.

“I would ideally like to play at the highest level I can with AFLW football but I don’t just want to play at the highest level, I want to be one of the better players,” Kohn said. “I would like to play in the AFLW and be successful in there. “So a tier one player.”

So how does she intend to build on her game? By adding further strings to her bow and making her game more consistent across the board. A by-chance role in the forward line for the South Australian Women’s All-Star game helped her come up with an idea for next season.

“I’ve actually had a conversation with my coach and in the All-Star game I felt really, really comfortable in the forward line and I never felt comfortable in there,” Kohn said. “I feel like next season I want to be, my midfield work is generally pretty good, it’s just some decisions and timing that I’ve got to improve on, with obviously just a few skill errors. “If I perfect and get way better at my forward line stuff, I’ll be a good all-around player. “That’s my main goal. “My main goal is just kicking goals, I want to be able to get a lot of goals and clearances.”

Having finished third in Glenelg’s best and fairest this year, it is fair to say that Kohn had some sort of debut season. With her eyes well and truly set on the prize in 2021, expect her to continue to build on her talents and be one to watch next year.

Competitive Morriss loving community aspect of SANFL Women’s

FOR 18-year-old Tamsyn Morriss, her football journey has been interrupted in patches but overall had a speedy rise through the ranks from a junior level. Starting out at Auskick and limited in her pursuit after a couple of years, Morriss did not give in and returned to Aussie rules after exploring other sports.

“I’ve grown up in like a sporting type of family, my dad played footy. As far as growing up, my mum played netball so I’ve obviously got a lot of sporting genes in there,” Morriss said. “It was obviously dad that made me start footy so I started up Auskick when I was five at my dad’s local club… did two years of Auskick and then there was no pathway for girls back then, so I went and played soccer with the boys. 

“Then when I found out that I can play with the boys at footy I jumped back over to Lonsdale. “That’s where it kind of all started, playing under 10s and under 12s with the boys and then I moved over to girls footy at Kenilworth Football Club.”

Despite all the moving around early on in her football journey, Morriss found herself in the unprecedented position of being a 15-year-old on the edge of a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s berth with Glenelg.

“I then got asked to train with the Glenelg women’s team as a 15 year old, one training I got asked if I wanted to play a game, obviously, with my parents permission, being a 15 year old playing against women. “And that’s when it all started with Glenelg. This upcoming season will be my fourth season with them.”

While Morriss has a focus on football, her past experience with other sports has certainly assisted in her skillset on the footy field, allowing her to utilise and adapt her game depending on what is required of her.

“I did a little bit of little athletics… I had to stop because obviously my footy was blowing up. And I was also involved with surf lifesaving,” she said. “So soccer, obviously it’s a team sport, kicking around a ball you kick around a ball in football as well. I reckon from little athletics I definitely got fitness, got running technique from there, and then the surf lifesaving, was extra fitness as well. I still do that… training and obviously doing patrols as well.”

While Morriss enjoyed – and still enjoys, in some cases – participating in a range of sports, the Glenelg talent says that the competitiveness and community around football is what drew her back to the sport. 

“I definitely have to say, the competitiveness of it and like, the community around it,” Morriss said. “You have so many people around you and people like you. “So it’s hard to leave it. “Yeah, the competitiveness is what I like as well, competing for the ball, competing against each other.”

With some quality talent not only heading up through the pathways but also already making waves at AFL Women’s level, Morriss says she looks to the experienced names in the SANFL system, inspired by their work ethic and skills.

“I have to say, Nikki Gore and Anne Hatchard,” Morriss said. “So I knew them, well I knew Anne before she got big humongous muscles and super super fit, that’s definitely inspired me, so that’s why I’ve been working on strength and fitness as well. “But obviously Nikki Gore, she’s just a great friend. “And she definitely pushes me along the way on and off the field.”

When it comes to strengths and improvements, Morriss suggested her fitness as a focus, with strength critical especially as the level progresses given the continued development of quality players across not just the state but also the country as women’s football continues to grow.

“At the moment, I’m working on strength and fitness. “So I can run longer, be on the ground for longer and compete better with some of the bigger girls out there. Hold my ground a bit more,” she said. 

“Some of my strengths I have to say, work ethic. “Yeah, and competitiveness, I’m working on that… game sense as well. “So reading the ball, using the ball well when I can. “And using the ball well around my teammates.”

Morriss participated in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships up in Queensland, playing two games for the Central Allies. Still just a middle-ager last year, Morriss was looking to showcase her ability in 2020.

“That was a great experience, it was one of my favourite footy trips away. Just the connections I made with some of the girls, obviously playing with some of the girls from South Australia and then meeting new people from Northern Territory… It was an experience I’ve never done before, but definitely would have liked to do it again,” she said.

“One of my good family friends, Montana McKinnon, I actually grew up with her. “So it was great to play with her one last time. “And then also, obviously, there’s Jaimi Tabb, she just got drafted. “Maddie Newman as well, Hannah Munyard, it was great to play along those girls and then obviously the upcoming girls going up for the draft, Teah Charlton and then like Indy Tahau, it was great to play with them because I’ve obviously played against most of those girls, so it’s good to be on the same team for once.”

While the 2020 championships did not go ahead due to COVID-19 limitations, Morriss instead showcased her talents with a solid performance at the SANFLW All-Stars last week.

SANFL Women’s season review: North Adelaide

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

Position: 1st
Wins: 12
Losses: 0
Draws: 0

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

Perfect. There is no other way to realistically put it. North Adelaide had an unblemished season with a 12-0 record and earning the minor premiership, and then the real thing with back-to-back wins over incumbents South Adelaide in the qualifying final and grand final. The victory was a role reversal from the year before, and whilst Krissie Steen‘s chargers had their challenges throughout the year, the Roosters met every challenge and deserved the premiership.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Amber Ward

An over-age defender with great hands and a booming kick, Ward showed she is well in contention to be drafted this year after receiving an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation. Often stationed at centre half-back, Ward was a reliable figure back there, combining well with teammate Kristi Harvey as the anchors in the defensive 50.

Cristie Castle

A sneaky forward who could push up the ground, Castle could hit the scoreboard or set up scoring opportunities for her teammates. She generally used it pretty well in the forward half of the ground and always looked damaging when the ball was in her vicinity. Providing good defensive pressure as well, Castle was a strong team player.

Erin Sundstrom

Joined the Roosters this season coming back from Queensland and provided good dash coming out of defence. She possesses a long kick and was able to get them out of trouble on a number of occasions, and provided an extra intercepting target in the air back there.

Julia Clark

A versatile small who could play at either end, Clark has established herself in the Roosters best side over the past two years playing nearly every game. She played a role in defence for the grand final and is a top-ager who has developed well in the system.

Ashleigh Woodland

Won the league’s goalkicking and showed she is a class above at state level. Is one who spent a season on Melbourne’s AFL Women’s list and was one of four players to earn an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite. She is strong above her head, an accurate kick for goal, and able to hit targets around the ground and play through the midfield, or even in defence.

Kristi Harvey

A rock on the last line, Harvey nullified opposition forwards whilst providing aerial strength to intercept and pump the ball out of the back 50. Did not mind getting into the ear of opposition forwards, and left nothing out on the ground with her attack on the ball, re-establishing herself as one of the most reliable defenders in the competition this season.

Katelyn Pope

Possessing some serious wheels, Pope’s ability to take the game on and break the lines really made a point of difference for the Roosters this season. Often playing off a wing or drifting at half-forward, Pope could beat anyone in a foot race and if she got goalside, it was almost game over for any opponent. She could hit the scoreboard or set others up in a really impressive year.

Jorja Eldridge

Played a couple of games this year for the Roosters coming from the country area in Whyalla with a basketball background. She has versatility to play at either end and showed good development being able to crack into the Roosters side given the strength of the unit.

Rayne Rivalland

A developing talent with a year left until she turns 18, Rivalland will no doubt feature more often next season as a rebounding defender who can be switched forward if required. She has some good athleticism and takes the game on, reading the ball well in flight based on her All-Stars game.

Lauren Gauci

Rounded out the back six nicely and added a point of difference as that smaller runner who was a reliable executor by hand or foot. She looked to shoot a dagger down the wing or open up the game, and did take the game on from time to time as well. Provided good offence while being accountable at half-back.

Kate Case

Another middle-age talent who earned a spot in the All-Stars squad playing forward, and has a bit of zip about her. She might not be tall, but has talent and continues to develop strongly. As someone who can come in and play a small forward’s role or further up the ground, Case will be one to watch in 2021 after an impressive grand final.

Andie Zbierski

Another country-based player who plays predominantly as a defender. She is highly competitive and reliable as they come. She might not have a huge amount of SANFL Women’s experience, but she showed in the games she did play that she has a high scope to develop.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Anne Hatchard
  • Britt Perry
  • Talia Radan
  • Lauren Daniel
  • Hannah Ewings
  • Leah Tynan
  • Bek Rasheed

Like South Adelaide, this list could go on forever with that many contributors across the board. There is a reason the Roosters won the premiership, and whilst Anne Hatchard dominated the midfield in every game and was the clear standout winning the equal league best and fairest with best on grounds in every match, she was far from alone. Teenage talent Hannah Ewings has another two years until she is draft-eligible despite being one of the best in the competition already, whilst the experience of Lauren Daniel, and the introduction of ruck Bek Rasheed through the middle was great. Throw in AFL Women’s players Britt Perry up forward and Talia Radan down back, and the side had virtually no holes in it.

Summary

North Adelaide capped off a perfect season with a premiership, winning every game and successfully bouncing back from the 2019 defeat in the decider. They had help from some AFL Women’s talent, but it was the next core of players, and the youth coming through that held up the side and ensured that their bottom six was stronger than any other side in the competition.

Picture: SANFL / Deb Curtis

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

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

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

TEAM HATCHARD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEAM MARINOFF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: SANFL

Roosters crow to win memorable first SANFL Women’s flag

NORTH Adelaide has completed an unblemished season to win the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s premiership in an epic contest against back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide. In what was truly a fitting grand final, the Roosters held off a late Panthers charge and made the most of their chances in front of goal to salute, 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28) at Thebarton Oval today.

Adelaide AFL Women’s best and fairest winner and All-Australian, Anne Hatchard was named best on ground in the win, producing another sensational performance to cap off her year, picking up 34 disposals, seven marks, nine clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds to be the clear star around the ground. While South was brave for the vast majority of the game, and even had its own chances to win the match, the Roosters were better for longer, with 10 more clearances and 16 more inside 50s to dominate possession in the forward half.

North captain Leah Tynan won the toss and opted to kick with the breeze in the opening term, with a two-to-three goal breeze estimated for the ladder leaders to begin the game. Despite Bek Rasheed getting the first clearance and inside 50 for the Roosters, it would be South on the board first, as a density rule free kick – the first of a number against the Roosters – saw the Panthers get it inside 50. A downfield free kick resulted in a set shot to Teah Charlton who made no mistake two minutes in, reading the breeze perfectly and hanging it far left for it to violently swing back around the post and through.

Fellow young gun in Hannah Ewings soon made her mark on the day, with the 2020 Breakthrough Player of the Year having a chance, being smothered, then marking out on a lead from a nice Katelyn Pope kick inside 50. Ewings made it look easy from 40m out with her goal sailing home midway through the term to level the scores. North’s ferocity up the forward end was putting pressure on the South defence as the Panthers struggled to clear it beyond half-back. Pope had a chance herself from 50m but it drifted to the left and through for a behind. The forward half dominance eventually won out though with some nice scrapping forward seeing Hatchard get it deep and Britt Perry created something out of nothing close to the line, reading it well and booting it home from a metre out.

No sooner had the Roosters gained some separation from their opponents, did South get it inside 50 off the next clearance. Cheyenne Hammond had a quick kick towards goal that was mopped up, but the rushed exit kick landed in the arms of a waiting Gypsy Schirmer. The teenager took it upon her self to go back and slot the goal from 35m, reading the breeze well herself to keep her team in touch at the break. A late behind to Cristie Castle off what was a golden opportunity put the favourites in front at quarter time, 2.2 to 2.0.

Despite dominating the opening term with a whopping 10-2 clearances and 15-2 inside 50s, North only held a two-point advantage and the Panthers had made the most of their two inside 50s with goals. North began to get a bit more of the momentum, after quarter time as they worked into the game. Another density penalty almost cost the Roosters again, but this time it was the composure of Amber Ward in defence who hit up Hatchard through a number of opponents to clear to half-back. The Roosters pushed forward themselves early in the term, but the work of Lucy Northcott and Nicole Campbell allowed South to have the run in transition.

A few rushed plays from the South defenders when it did get into North’s attacking end resulted in Mollie McKendrick having a number of inside 50s, with the third one finding Perry on the lead 30m out. She worked into the space well and then made no mistake from the set shot, extending the lead out to eight points, eight minutes into the term against the breeze. South continued to press in a bid to force their way back into the contest, with Elyse Haylock having a chance 30m out after an uncontested mark off great work from Nikki Gore, but it fell short and the Roosters cleared again.

Time and time again South had chances, but a run down tackle on Charlton inside forward 50 saved another chance, though eventually some great vision from Czenya Cavouras on the boundary line spotted a leading Indy Tahau who marked and then went back and slotted the goal. It was back to two points and with only a couple of minutes left, looked like heading into half-time that way. Then there was chaos when in the last 30 seconds, Charlotte Taylor won a free kick at half-forward and drilled in a ball to Castle leading out 35m from home. The ball appeared to hit the ground – the South players were appealing – but Castle also had a fair chunk of it before that, and the mark stood. As the siren sounded, the number one put it through the big sticks in what would be a telling contribution. With just two touches to half-time, Castle had added 1.1 and was making the most of it.

Either side of half-time, Castle had an influential period as she kicked the crucial first goal of the third quarter in the seventh minute and handed her side a 12-point advantage. Hatchard was beginning to build into the game – having already amassed her high volume of touches – and was having a real influence with those touches. Hammond had an early chance for the Panthers from 40m, but it was just touched on the line, and then up the other end a few minutes later, it was Hatchard who placed it beautifully for Castle in the goalsquare to mark and extend the lead.

South kept working hard against the breeze, with a terrific smother by retiring captain, Lauren Buchanan saving a scoring opportunity, as both sides had chances but could not quite convert. Ewings had another chance just from inside the 50 from a set shot but her kick went to the right, and then Taylor launched from 50m but it bounced the wrong side of the post. North was firmly in control, but the Roosters had not landed the knockout blow. In the meantime, tempers were flaring with a number of players letting the opposition know how important the game was, with Hannah Munyard and Ewings having a number of fierce words, and actions, throughout the contest.

South needed to kick three unanswered goals in the final term if the Panthers were to get up and cause an upset, but time was against them, and so was the mighty impressive unit of the Roosters. The Panthers’ leading goalkicker and second overall in the competition, Jess Kirk had not touched the ball in the first three terms, but had a chance from the impossible angle early in the last quarter. Her kick was a great effort for a right footer on the wrong side, but it just missed, reducing the deficit to 14 points three minutes into the final stanza.

A crucial turnover in defence by North almost cost a goal but Campbell could not quite gather it and the troops arrived to knock the ball over the line. Every chance they got, North settled and assessed options, with the Panthers trying everything to heap pressure on their opposition. Gore became the only goalkicker in the final term after going for a mark and copping a contact to win a free, converting the major and with four minutes remaining, her side trailed by just seven points.

That solitary extra point was always going to be a pestering one, and coupled with the fact that the oblong ball can be unpredictable, the odds were always in North’s favour. South found that out after a quick kick out from Harvey looked destined to land in the arms of one of a number of South players pushed up to half-forward. Instead, it bounced between them and landed in the arms of Pope who had enjoyed an impressive game, kicking it forward and hitting a target. That bounce all but signalled the end for the Panthers, as with a couple of minutes left, Lauren Gauci took a number of crucial intercept marks, and North had done enough for the siren to sound and the Roosters enjoy the most memorable of victories.

It was no surprise to see Hatchard named as best-on for her efforts, with an otherwise even team performance across the board. Daniel ended the match with 16 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s, while Taylor was influential in close with five clearances, four inside 50s and 14 touches. Pope had 15 disposals and three inside 50s, while Harvey was rock solid in defence with 11 disposals, two marks and five rebounds.

For South, Tahlia Meyer just battled away all day and finished with 18 disposals, four marks – one contested – two inside 50s and five rebounds, ahead of Gore (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two clearances). Whiteley (14 disposals, seven rebounds) and Buchanan (11 disposals, six rebounds) were keys in the back 50, while Campbell (13 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four inside 50s tried hard all day.

NORTH ADELAIDE 2.2 | 4.2 | 5.5 | 5.5 (35)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

North: B. Perry 2, C. Castle 2, H. Ewings.
South: T. Charlton, G. Schirmer, I. Tahau, N. Gore.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Hatchard, K. Pope, L. Daniel, K. Harvey, E. Sundstrom
South: T. Meyer, L. Whiteley, N. Gore, N. Campbell, L. Northcott

Picture: Deb Curtis / SANFL

2020 SANFL Women’s Grand Final preview: North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

TWELVE months ago – or more accurately 16 months ago given the COVID-19 pandemic postponement – South Adelaide and North Adelaide faced off in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider. Fast forward to 2020 and the same two sides oppose each other to determine this year’s premier in South Australia’s top women’s competition. The two best sides have made it through to the decider, and in Draft Central‘s preview, we take a look at the teams and where the game could be one, and some of the key questions coming out of it.

2020 FORM

North Adelaide come in as the clear favourites in this game simply because they are undefeated in 2020. South Adelaide are the next best side in it though, having only lost to the Roosters this year, first back in Round 4 prior to the SANFL Women’s postponement, and then a fortnight ago in the semi-final. Having backed up from that loss with an imposing win over an confident West Adelaide side, the Panthers will back themselves in to finally topple the Roosters.

The key questions

Can North Adelaide go undefeated in season 2020?

It might not be spoken about as the main aim – and nor it should be – in 2020, because at the end of the day, it does not matter how they are won, as long as they can get the job done. Eleven games in and the Roosters are yet to taste defeat, though they are likely to remember their last loss – the 2019 decider against the Panthers – and be keen to go one better this year.

Could South Adelaide achieve a three-peat?

Anything with the list the Panthers have is achievable. But they will need to rekindle their best form to get up in the match. They have the experience to follow through and get it done, but their opposition is formidable. The Panthers defence showed in the semi-final that it can contain the best of forward lines, and that effort will need to be repeated again here.

Who goes to Anne Hatchard?

There will not necessarily be a hard tag on Hatchard who has the running ability to just power away from her opponents, but Nicole Campbell did well in stints on Stevie-Lee Thompson and might be the player for the job again. Last time they met, Hatchard ran rampant and was clearly best afield, and while you cannot stop her getting her 30-odd touches a game, limiting them to non dangerous areas – ie. out of the stoppages particularly in the forward half – is a must.

Where does South Adelaide have the advantage?

The unpredictability and speed inside 50 is what sets the Panthers aside from many other teams. Jess Kirk is a leading forward and reliable in front of the big sticks, but a lot of the Panthers goals come from finding space inside 50 and lowering the eyes to hit targets from midfielders dropping back, or just by working the ball forward and creating something out of nothing. They can build from defence and run down the ground with speed.

Where does North Adelaide have the advantage?

The midfield is quite simply elite. South Adelaide’s is unbelievable, but the Roosters have the lot with Hatchard, Ash Woodland and Hannah Ewings, as well as Leah Tynan, Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet all capable of rotating through there. The South defence is well structured and back themselves one-on-one, but the Roosters have so many scoring options inside 50 and the midfielders usually pick the right option.

Line-by-line

North Adelaide defence vs. South Adelaide attack

The Roosters defence is tall compared to their opponents, with Kristi Harvey, Amber Ward and Talia Radan all capable of taking contested marks. It means the Panthers cannot afford to kick long and high inside 50. What they need is opening up space to allow one-on-ones because Kirk will struggle to be beaten on the lead, but in a one-on-one contest Harvey for example would take the chocolates. The half-forwards push up to the wings, with Indy Tahau and Gypsy Schirmer able to rotate with the likes of Teah Charlton and Cheyenne Hammond, which creates havoc with matchups. A chaos ball inside 50 while not perfect could help the Panthers at ground level, though Julia Clark and Lauren Gauci have been capable rebounders.

North Adelaide attack vs. South Adelaide defence

Up the other end, the matchups are a dream, with both sides having a number of in-between heights that could play the role of talls or smalls. Britt Perry is the one the Roosters love getting the ball too because of her reliability in front of the big sticks, while Cristie Castle continues to run all day. The pure speed of the attack such as Pope and Ewings might be a key reason why Hannah Munyard has been named in defence this week. She can match those quick players and also take the game on out of the back half, even though she is also capable of hitting the scoreboard up the other end. Woodland will spend time up forward, and like rotate with Ewings, while the South defence of Jaslynne Smith, Lisa Whiteley and Lauren Buchanan in particular is incredibly consistent.

The midfield battle

Starting in the ruck, the Panthers have a couple of young guns in Montana McKinnon and Brooklyn Kraft rotating through there. McKinnon has been getting better each week since returning from injury and capable of taking contested marks around the ground providing strong second efforts. She will be opposed to Bek Rasheed in the middle, with Kendall Howell named as backup on an extended bench. Rasheed has been terrific in her debut season for the Roosters and will need to work McKinnon hard around the ground and be offensively dangerous. The midfield has already been touches on for the Roosters, but for South, Hammond has been a really strong user of the ball, while Tahlia Meyer might be one of the best decision makers in the competition with her low darts inside 50 last week setting up so many scoring opportunities. With Elyse Haylock and Czenya Cavouras also running through there and the speed of Nikki Gore and Munyard, the South side will have no issues batting deep through the middle.

Teams

Prediction

Much like two weeks ago, it would take a brave prediction to go against the Roosters but this build up is going to special. The best team of the year against the best team of the past couple of years. Expect the game to go down to the wire and there be less than a kick between the sides by the final siren. With the Panthers likely to do all they can to restrict Hatchard, expect an Ewings or Woodland to be among the Most Valuable Player (MVP) contenders, while Tahau showed last year they are not afraid to give it to youth, and she and Charlton, along with Munyard and Gore would also be among the contenders if the Panthers get up.

Picture: SANFL/Deb Curtis