Tag: Brisbane Lions

QAFL finals wrap: Cats’ Colts join Seniors in the big dance

GRAND finalists have been set across the QAFL Senior, Reserves, and Colts grades with Gold Coast clubs Labrador and Broadbeach represented across two of the three levels. The Cats will face Maroochydore in the senior decider after the Roos jumped minor premier Labrador in an epic comeback win, but the Tigers’ Reserves and Colts downed Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) and Morningside respectively to set up final week appearances.

Maroochydore’s epic last gasp victory in the top flight sets up an intriguing grand final meeting with Broadbeach, who will be out to rectify last year’s loss to Morningside after earning the week off. The Roos got the jump with a five goals to one opening term but fell 18 points behind at half-time, and were 22 points down with less that 10 minutes left to play. As Labrador began to rest its guns, a five-goal swing ensued and the Roos saluted to the tune of 10 points, 13.10 (88) to 11.12 (78).

Sam McLaughlin was outstanding for the victors and slotted a key late major, as the likes of Michael Steven (four goals), Lochie Laing and Mitchell Scholard (both three) also found the big sticks throughout. Former-AFL Irishman Pearce Hanley booted five goals for Labrador, while Alex McKay played a key role through the engine room. From an Academy sense, products Mackenzie Riddle (Gold Coast) and Ben Thomas (Brisbane) featured for either side.

While the seniors were done-in, Labrador’s second side defeated PBC by 22 points to secure a spot in the grand final alongside Morningside. Minor premiers across both grades, the Tigers were able to convert on this occasion having set up an early buffer and lead at every break.

Northern Territory native and Gold Coast eligible tall Ned Stevens snared a goal in just his fourth game for the season, having battled a niggling groin injury. Fellow tall Thomas Hofert also got a run for the victors, along with 2002-born SUNS Academy products Bailey Reeves, James Smith, Shaye Walsh, and Riley Johnson. Top-ager Luke Coombes notched his 12th reserves game, while Brinn Little turned out for PBC.

In the Colts grade, Labrador will take on Broadbeach after the Cats downed Morningside on Saturday, restricting the second-ranked Panthers to just two goals from 11 scoring shots in a dominant 46-point victory. State Under 17 squad members Jared Eckersley and Kye Reynoldson were among the Cats’ best, while Cooper Parkes snared four majors in the win. For Morningside, representative selectees Harry Taylor, Thalayn Ryschka, and Bryce Longland all featured in their side’s final game for the season.

Image Credit: Brooke Sleep Photography via AFLQ

Ones to Watch: 2022 Northern Academy prospects

WITH the likes of Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast SUNS), Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), and Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) among the many great Northern Academy products, there are always prospects of note coming out of each region in an AFL Draft sense. While there may not be as many featuring at the top end of this year’s crop, there are still a bunch to consider and plenty more for the future. In a special Ones to Watch edition, we take a look at some of the Northern Academy talents to keep an eye on ahead of next year’s intake.

BRISBANE LIONS

Jaspa Fletcher

Fletcher has somewhat a double-link to the club, being not only an academy member but also a father-son prospect, with his father Adrian playing 107 games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions. Fletcher looms as one of the top Northern State talents heading into 2022, with his speed and class by foot two standout attributes in his game. Fletcher is also extremely versatile, able to fill a role up either end, on a wing or right in the thick of things in the engine room, giving whichever team he plays for a lot of options.

Riley McMillan

A creative player in the forward half of the ground, McMillan has a lot of tricks to win the ball and get himself out of congestion, combining his speed and agility to get clear from opponents and then use the ball well by foot to get it to his teammates. When McMillan has run through the midfield, his positioning around stoppages has been consistently good, with his clean hands in close a crafty weapon.

Bailey Tome

A hard at it inside ball winner, Tome is the type of hard-working midfielder that makes life easier for the outside runners. With impressive movement that allows him to keep up with most opponents and be able to tackle as soon as they grab the ball, it is not uncommon to see Tome lay three or four tackles in a short period, as is his relentless approach.

Others:

Ravi Schofield is an exciting forward that can pinch hit in the midfield and use his athleticism as a weapon. Benjamin McCarthy plays as a reliable defender who can also fill a role forward. Liam McNeil and Thalayn Ryschka are two impressive ruck options for 2022. Will Ashcroft, whilst not an academy prospect, is tied to the club via father-son rules as the son of Marcus. He looks an early top five contender and is currently plying his trade for the Sandringham Dragons at NAB League level.

GOLD COAST SUNS

Jared Eckersley

A high-leaping running defender, Eckersley is another Broadbeach product that was able to impact at Under 19’s level in 2021. He was consistently a roadblock to opposition attacks, contesting well with his spoiling and rebounding effectively with his long kick to get his side back in its front half from defensive 50. 

Cody Harrington

Utilising his speed and smarts, Harrington is a constant danger in the forward half of the ground and can hurt the opposition in plenty of ways. Coming from talent factory Broadbeach, whilst Harrington is more than capable of playing a traditional small forward role, he’s an aerial and one-on-one marking threat, making him a difficult match up for one defender to deal with. To go with all this, Harrington is also a solid tackler, taking opponents down more often than not when he gets a hold. Harrington is a goal sneak as well, able to kick them from anywhere or set them up by hitting teammates with his deadly kick. 

Campbell Lake

Popping up all over the ground regardless of his starting position, Lake is a hard working midfielder with genuine will to run both ways and win the football. A Labrador product, Lake combines this work-rate with quality disposal, particularly when heading inside 50, often looking to hit up leading forwards or putting it where he wants them to go.

Others:

Levi Fyffe and Joshua Young are high leaping and exciting forwardline targets who have formed a dangerous duo when playing together, with the two often working up the ground as well to be link up options. Kye Reynoldson is a winger who can also play half-back that turns opponents inside out with his evasiveness, and possesses a penetrating kick. Taine Dawson rotates between the forward line and the ruck, with some impressive speed off the mark and a high leap that makes him a danger around the ground.

GWS GIANTS

Angus Curry

Currently boarding as Wesley College, Curry has had a few more chances to impress than a lot of other Northern Academy prospects for 2022; playing for Wesley, Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 17 series and the GWS Academy at different times. Curry doesn’t let his shorter stature hold him back, showing a lot of tenacity with his approach to contests and tackles, but also balancing that with quality ball use when he wins it.

Luke Lawrence

Looming as a dangerous midfielder that can rest forward in the future, Lawrence has made the most of his limited appearances in 2021 – including a three-goal haul in his only NAB League appearance. Mostly playing through the midfield through the academy series, Lawrence’s ability to get away from, or around, opponents with his speed and agility is eye catching, while his ability to find the right handball option in close most impressive.

Dayne Posthuma

Posthuma is a no fuss tall defender, remaining consistently accountable for his own opponent whilst drifting across and intercepting in front of contests to aid his teammates. The 197cm Queanbeyan product has a good leap and read of the ball, as well as a deceiving amount of speed, where he usually follows up with clean ball use.

Others:

Nick Madden is a strong bodied ruck who is already 203cm and is strong one-on-one, providing headaches for opposition as he positions down the line to take intercept marks. Harry Rowston is an in and under midfielder that can be damaging with his disposal, able to get through traffic and provide second efforts. Nathan Battaglia provides an athletic option up forward capable of getting high on opposition shoulders with plenty more to work with going into the future.

SYDNEY SWANS

Tye Gander

An athletic medium forward option, Gander is electric around the contest and even more exciting when leading up at the footy, getting on an opponents’ shoulders without putting a hand on them and sticking high marks or selling candy to open up more space, Gander is capable of it all. His leap is such a strength it is not uncommon to see him rotate through the ruck and win some contests, then follow up his own tap at ground level.

Billy King

A physically imposing but also athletic ruck and forward option, King wins most ruck contests he attends; able to out-body opponents well, but just as capable of leaping over them even when giving up a little bit of height. What makes King so dangerous is his strong marking when resting forward and good leading patterns, making him a danger when he gets on the move inside 50.

Joshua Nicholls

With a nice bit of speed to help him, Nicholls can fill in role up either end, on a wing or even through the midfield, applying the same level of intent to win the ball and use it. A jack of all trades type, Nicholls is good across the board with his skills and footy IQ, making him particularly dangerous when given the freedom to roam around the ground and impact where he sees fit.

Others:

William Sabolch is a solid defender that can run through the midfield, with his ball use particularly impressive out of the back half and resulting in a lot of attacking plays. Bililign Robertson plays mostly on a wing but is more than comfortable in congestion where he can find a backwards handball option, whilst Christian Webster is a taller option that can play up either end with a good mark. Indhi Kirk, the oldest child of Brett, is also in the academy and possesses some impressive tricks as a small forward, whilst fellow club legend Michael O’Loughlin has had his nephew TJ Speedy Coe recently switch across from rugby, bringing a lot of speed and excitement to the forwardline.

2020 AFL Draft Standouts: Brisbane and GWS

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the fifth piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 5th and 6th placed teams in GWS and Brisbane.

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn
#15 Conor Stone
#18 Ryan Angwin
#58 Cameron Fleeton
#59 Jacob Wehr

The GIANTS entered this draft following a disappointing season, with a goal of adding some high quality young talent to form the future of the club. Their first selection came in the form of Geelong Falcons midfielder Tanner Bruhn, who had showed at lower level his ability to read the play and win the contested ball. Bruhn made his debut in Round 1, finishing the contest with nine disposals, five contested possessions and three score involvements as his side fell to St Kilda by eight points. He would go on to play 13 out of a possible 25 games for the year. He racked up a career-high 14 disposals in the GIANTS’ win against Richmond, while his strongest all-around performance came in round 21 against Geelong, where Bruhn recorded 12 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal, proving to be a vital contributor in his side’s upset win over the Cats. The 19-year-old retained his spot through the GIANTS’ two finals and despite the semi-final loss, Bruhn looked lively when the ball entered his team’s forward 50. With plenty to build on, Bruhn can hold his head high after an impressive debut season.

The GIANTS’ next pick in the draft was used to select Conor Stone, a youngster who can play at either end of the field and had shown his decision-making and skill by foot. With the GIANTS losing rebounding defender Zac Williams to Carlton in the free agency period, the door opened for Stone to make his debut in Round 4, where he recorded 11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and two intercept possessions, playing off half-back as his side defeated Collingwood by five goals. He built on this performance with an impressive display the following week, gathering 13 touches (at 85 per cent efficiency), four marks, six contested possessions and five score involvements in the GIANTS’ two-point win over the Swans. He would finish off the season with five games played and some valuable experience under his belt.

The GIANTS’ three remaining draft picks would not feature in the 2021 season, but were able to develop in the Victorian Football League (VFL). Ryan Angwin, a classy left-footed defender/forward, averaged 15 disposals, while Jacob Wehr averaged an impressive 18 touches per game. Defender Cameron Fleeton was able to work on his defensive craft, playing on some of the VFL’s best forwards throughout the year.

 

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman
#43 Harry Sharp
#48 Henry Smith

The Lions had an excellent 2020 season, making the preliminary finals, but this caused them to enter the draft with a weaker hand than other clubs. The Lions’ first pick selected Blake Coleman, an electric small forward fresh off a QAFL premiership with Morningside. With his older brother Keidean finding himself in Brisbane’s best 22 as a defender throughout the season, the Lions had high hopes for the next Coleman. With Brisbane’s forward line stacked with the likes of Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy at AFL level, Coleman was forced to bide his time in the VFL, where he averaged 13 disposals and kicked six goals in 10 games.

The Lions then used their 43rd pick in the draft to select Harry Sharp, a running defender from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels who had the ability to break into the Lions’ side almost immediately with his outstanding time trial numbers and professionalism. Sharp debuted in round one against the Swans, recording 11 disposals and laying three tackles in an eye-catching outing for the defender. Unfortunately, injuries prevented Sharp from continuity within the side, playing just two games for the senior side and four in the VFL. Sharp’s short stint was still able to impress fans with his gut-running, and the 19-year-old will be looking for a clean bill of health to help him break into the senior side in 2022.

The Lions’ final pick was used to take Henry Smith, a young ruckman from South Australia standing at a whopping 206cm. The club is hopeful he will take the mould of current ruckman Oscar McInerney, and while he did not feature at senior level, Smith averaged nine disposals a game in the VFL while booting 12 goals in eight matches.

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

Academy watch: Lions return for QAFL finals impact

THE 2021 QAFL finals series kicked off this past weekend, with a pair of elimination finals seeing the two lower-ranked sides pull off memorable upsets. Those teams in question were Morningside and Maroochydore, who will now face off in Saturday’s second semi-final after their narrow victories.

As this year’s reigning premier, the Panthers have plenty of work to do to defend their crown from fifth, but started off their finals campaign strongly. They raced out to an early lead and were over 40 points in front at stages, before holding off a fast-finishing Surfers Paradise to come away six-point victors on the road.

Among Morningside’s squad was a couple of very handy inclusions, namely Brisbane Lions Academy products Saxon Crozier and Toby Triffett. Both made just their second QAFL appearances for the season after runs in the VFL, while Max Nelson lined up down back alongside bottom-ager Ben McCarthy.

Max Pescud made up the Gold Coast Academy representation for Surfers, rotating forward from the wing to be one of the better Demons afield. We take a look at how all five of the aforementioned northern academy prospects fared on the elimination final stage, in a special QAFL edition of Academy Watch.

SCOUTING NOTES

Surfers Paradise 9.11 (65) def. by Morningside 10.11 (71)

#5 Toby Triffett (Morningside)

One who appears to have gained a wealth of confidence and knowledge from his time in the VFL, Triffett was a dominant contested ball winner on Saturday. The blue-booted midfielder proved strong with his ability to fire away handballs under tackling pressure and even break a few, looking quite effective by hand. He did tend to hack his clearing kicks a touch, but had no trouble finding the ball with his wickedly clean hands and solid frame. In a tone-setting act, his lone major for the game came during Morningside’s opening term flurry, as he burrowed in to rip the ball free from a forward 50 pack and snapped it home. A top performance.

#27 Saxon Crozier (Morningside)

Returning to QAFL action alongside Triffett after his own VFL tenure, Crozier took up a very familiar role on the wing for Morningside. He proved a little scratchy with his very first touch, but fixed up quickly to level with the pace of the game. Crozier had some unlucky moments in the first half with free kicks against, but clunked a nice intercept mark and looked promising when released into space via hand. That trend continued as he worked into either arc and proved productive by foot, spearing the ball to teammates. He also hit the scoreboard in term three, tracking the ball well off a stoppage with gut-run inside 50 to get the spill and convert into an open goalsquare.

#44 Ben McCarthy (Morningside)

The sole bottom-ager in this lot, McCarthy has played 13 games for the Panthers’ senior side this year and looks a settled member of the lineup. He played in defence on Saturday but was sighted trailing his opponents all the way up to half-forward, ensuring they wouldn’t get an easy kick rolling up the ground. A touch light-on, McCarthy often knew to stay down as contests formed down the line, helping to mop up the spills and kick forward. He had a couple of nice moments in the third quarter, laying a holding the ball tackle and smothering his opponent under a minute later after he had turned the ball over.

#52 Max Nelson (Morningside)

Nelson was one of the Panthers’ most important players in their elimination final triumph, playing a key role down back with plenty of work to do. He was tasked with the kick-in duties and often roosted the ball well beyond defensive 50, while also providing a bit of dash on the rebound with a good amount of confidence to take on opponents. He looked to crash packs from behind if the ball came back his way and managed to chime in with some important intercept possessions, making for a really solid game across the defensive arc.

#61 Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise)

Having taken up a starting spot on the wing, Pescud made arguably his most profound impact up forward. He showed a good turn of speed and quick skills when stationed further afield, before bringing his overhead marking ability to the fore inside 50. Pescud produced a few key plays during term two upon his switch; cutting across a pack to mark inside 50, manufacturing a goal assist with his twists and turns, and splitting a 1v2 situation which lead to another major. While he looked to be unselfish when in possession near goal, Pescud nabbed a major of his own in term four to help sustain Surfers’ fightback. His tackling intent and pressure was also terrific throughout the game.

Featured Image: Saxon Crozier in action for Morningside | Credit: RF Photography

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Brisbane

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Brisbane.

#18 Maggie Harmer (Medium Defender)
12/04/2003 | 170cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

Tipped to be the Lions’ first selection, Harmer comes straight out of their Academy and has put together some terrific form in 2021. Whilst she only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game to play, Harmer’s work both for Queensland and Maroochydore over a body of work showed that she was more than capable of stepping up. With high-level athleticism and powerful running, Harmer could develop into a half-back for the Lions, or push up and play a wing role, with the tendencies to go inside if required. She is clean and a good user by hand or foot, so expect her to be a player that quickly adapts to senior level and has an impact for Brisbane.

MAGGIE HARMER CONTENT:

>> Draft hopeful Harmer looks of find the best of both worlds

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

#35 Bella Smith (Inside Midfielder)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Maroochydore / Queensland

To complement Harmer’s outside running ability, Smith provides that inside grunt that has seen her become one of the top hardened midfielders in the AFLW Draft pool. Clean on the inside with a nice burst to create separation out of the stoppages, Smith is a natural contested ball winner, and one who could slot straight into the team at AFLW level. It provides the Lions with more depth through the inside, with Smith no doubt set to add more strings to her bow such as more outside ball-winning capabilities. One of three past or present Maroochydore prospects to join the Lions after being in their Academy, Smith had a really strong 2021 season.

BELLA SMITH CONTENT:

>> Smith taking things “week by week”

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Maggie Harmer and Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Brisbane Lions Academy)

#46 Mikayla Pauga (Medium Forward)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Bond University / Queensland

A clean and dangerous forward, Pauga is the third player to have come through Maroochydore’s program in the past few years. Having made the move to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship of Excellence, Pauga opted to remain in the Brisbane nomination pool and the Lions were happy to snap her up. Having overcome a couple of spinal fractures in her bottom-age year, Pauga put together a terrific 2021 season for Bond Uni in the QAFL Women’s, playing as a high half-forward. Her endurance is an area to work on, but her natural football smarts, goal sense and creativity in the forward half comes to the fore and Pauga will be an exciting player to watch for many years.

MIKAYLA PAUGA CONTENT:

>> Pauga overcomes injuries and adapts to change ahead of AFLW Draft

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)

>> QAFLW Player Focus: Mikayla Pauga leads from the front in electric performance

#53 Luka Yoshida-Martin (Small Forward)
University of Queensland / Queensland

Everyone loves a left-field pick, and Brisbane’s certainly came in the form of ex-soccer player Luka Yoshida-Martin. A small forward who only took up Australian rules football in 2019, played a stellar role in University of Queensland’s QAFL Women’s premiership. Her effort as a small forward impressed enough for the Lions to call-up the 20-year-old to the AFLW list. Boasting impressive game sense, a knack for goals and some high upside, Yoshida-Martin is viewed as a prospect who can do a lot of damage inside 50 and could take another giant leap in development in an elite program.

#58 Lucinda Pullar (Medium Defender)
02/07/1998
Bond University / Queensland

Another cross-coder who has only pulled on the boots for a few years, Pullar is a former Brisbane Roar representative who made the transition into Australian rules. Initially a part of the Queensland Emerging Talent Squad in 2019, and then earning a 2020 AFLW Draft Combine invite last year, the ex-soccer player finally got her chance to step up to AFLW level after an impressive showing as a defender. Potentially able to play further up the field, it was her one-on-ones and elite level athleticism that caught the eye of Brisbane recruiters, prompting them to pull the trigger and add the Bond University talent to their senior list.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

Brisbane selected three of their talented Academy members with the first three selections, taking in Harmer, Smith and Pauga who could play three different roles for the club and cover each third on the ground. They then opted for a couple of fast-developing ex-soccer players with the final two selections, making it a mix of experience and athleticism. A couple of Academy members to miss out include the versatile Abby Hewett, and State captain Christine Okesene who will both continue to push for a spot on a list in the coming years.

Draft hopeful Harmer looks to find “the best of both worlds”

IN the air and on the ground. Intercept marking combined with run-and-carry. That’s the kind of impact Maroochydore prospect Maggie Harmer aims to make across half-back. The versatile talent is in line to become one of the first Brisbane Lions Academy products called out on draft night, and has a pair of senior defenders to look up to.

Come July 27, Kate Lutkins and Nat Grider could go from idols to teammates for Harmer, who is hoping to harness their respective strengths in order to get “the best of both worlds” as a player.

“Kate has such a good intercept mark and Nat has also got that run-and-carry which is really good, so it’s the best of both worlds between them,” Harmer said.

With the long-term goal of simply improving as a player in mind, the 18-year-old recognises her strengths, but also her areas for improvement.

“Across half-back, (my strengths are) reading the play and taking intercept marks when the opposition is looking for those forward 50 entries and trying to cut off those long kicks,” Harmer said.

“I’m more of an (aerial) player, so my ground balls are always something I’ve wanted to work on, just clean pick-ups. Also my one-on-one contests, holding my own up against those bigger girls.”

Harmer has earned a raft of opportunities since being introduced to Australian football in her final years of primary school, culminating in AFLW Academy honours, Under 19 All Australian selection, and the opportunity to represent her state throughout 2021.

Harmer kicks Queensland forward during this year’s National Championships

Above all else, Harmer says the opportunity to test her skills and be challenged by the nation’s best talent provided some valuable tests and lessons.

“I didn’t think it was going to be that much of a flogging (against Vic Country),” she said. “But the score didn’t really represent the contest.

“(AFLW Academy training) is big challenge because it’s another step to what we’re used to at club training and even academy. But I think it really pushes you to be the best player you can be and try to keep up with those older girls that are playing at such a high level.”

In their only National Championships dig for 2021, Queensland’s Under 19s went down to Vic Country by 54 points down in Melbourne, but Harmer was able to showcase some of her best traits with 15 disposals, five marks and five tackles.

Her ability to turn attack into defence with that aforementioned intercept game, as well as positive forward running makes Harmer a productive type. Queensland talent manager Mark Browning also gave a glowing review, boding well not just for draft night, but for her impact on the game in years to come.

“She’s probably the one that excites me the most when she trains,” Browning said. “It hasn’t quite transpired to games yet, but I think she’s got the most natural running out of all of them.”

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 6

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled on over the weekend despite a fourth Victorian lockdown, with a pair of Northern Academy derbies making up the extent of the Round 6 fixtures. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation got their chance to shine on centre stage, and a good number of them impressed. Check out the top performers from both fixtures in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 6 snapshot

GWS GIANTS Academy 10.9 (69) def. Sydney Swans Academy 9.9 (63)
By: Michael Alvaro

GIANTS Academy:

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Hamblin finished as the most prolific GIANTS midfielder with 27 disposals and proved a productive runner among the centre bounce group. He showed a good step through traffic and was able to zip onto the outer with a few quick steps before disposing of the ball cleanly. Complimenting those bursts was one excellent example of repeat running in the second term, where Hamblin was involved at half-back, got the ball again as the GIANTS transitioned through the corridor, and was rewarded for his running effort as he received inside 50 and slotted a goal on the fly. He could have added a couple more majors, but put shots wide in terms one and four.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kelly was one who rotated forward from midfield and had an impact in both roles, collecting 18 disposals and booting three goals. He finished well on the day and his third major was an important one to level the scores in term four, snapping home with aplomb. Around the ball, he showed clean hands and the ability to get his arms up while being tackled to keep the play moving. While some of his handball distribution fell short of the intended targets, Kelly looked stylish in tight spaces and under solid pressure at the contest.

#24 Sam Frost

The GIANTS Academy leader was a dominant aerial force across his side’s defensive 50, rising to take 10 grabs and looking to generate some forward momentum by foot on the rebound. He took on the kick-in duties, which aided his road to 30 disposals (24 kicks), and looked to have sharpened his execution a touch this time out. Frost’s intercept marking was the highlight of his game though, as he sat on opponents’ heads in one-on-one contests and floated across to cut off an array of Sydney attacks. It’s clear what his key strength is, and he played to it perfectly on this occasion.

#31 Josh Green

A top-age prospect who has garnered interest for the mid-season draft, Green was solid in this outing without being dominant. He used his strong frame on the inside to get over the ball and distribute out of congestion, with 18 of his 25 disposals coming by hand. He was clean in those situations, even under tackling pressure, and brought his teammates into the game by playing to his primary strength in congestion. Green also rotated forward and took a couple of decent grabs, with a two-bite mark in the second term leading to his lone goal of the game – a set shot conversion from 40 metres out.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

Rogers clearly has no trouble finding the ball and again proved as much by accumulating a game-high 34 disposals both inside and away from the contest. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to receive second possession and be released to burst forward with a short run and kick. The 18-year-old also turned feeder himself and found a way to consistently get his hands on the ball, while spreading well to accumulate around the ground. He lifted in term four when the game was on the line, getting busy in midfield despite his side falling short. Rogers also hit the scoreboard with a set shot goal in the third quarter and was arguably best afield.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another small Swans midfielder who finds the ball at will, Roseby worked hard all day for his side in an offensive and defensive sense. He worked back well when stationed in midfield to provide an outlet option, generally using the ball well with his short kicking game. Roseby used the same kind of method forward of centre too, often marking inside 50 but looking to find the next short option within the arc. He seemed to spend a bit more time up forward in the second half but presented right up the ground and covered plenty of territory in the process, helping his side link out of defence and along the outer.

#15 Jeremy Woodford

Woodford was one who showed great class in possession and made his kicks count, despite not racking up as much as others. Stationed on the wing and moving the ball forward of centre, Woodford was able to link the Swans into attack from the outer, weighting well directed passes to centre half-forward and inside attacking 50. One such pass was a goal assist for Hugh McLeod in the second term, and that kind of execution proved a weapon at times. Woodford was also thrown into the centre bounces and showed nice spurts of agility, but looked more comfortable when operating in space and given the time to hit a target going forward.

#26 Angus Anderson

Providing a hard edge on the inside, Anderson competed well and looked to help set the tone for Sydney. He built into the game steadily, proving strong at the contest with attempts to bustle out of congestion and break tackles with strength. Those kind of efforts meant Anderson had a good amount of presence at stoppages, but he also spread well to boot a goal on the run in term two, while also dropping back to find the ball in defence when required.

Brisbane Lions Academy 7.7 (49) def. by Gold Coast SUNS Academy 13.18 (96)
By: Declan Reeve

Lions Academy:

#12 Saxon Crozier

Considered unlucky by some not to be picked up in last year’s draft, Crozier showed that he’s since worked on his football to enhance his stocks for this season. With one particular knock last season being his inside game, Crozier played the majority of the contest as a rover on his way to a game-high 34 disposals. He won the first clearance of the day which set the tone for how he would play, utilising his positional awareness and speed to win the ball around the ground and then use it well, especially when kicking, to get the Lions into good spots. He balanced his performance well, also featuring on the wing at times where he showed what people already knew he could do, holding his space and being a switch option before getting the ball and pumping it forward.

#23 Charlie Bowes

Utilising his speed and deadly long kick, Bowes was one of the standout users of the footy throughout the game. He often leant on his penetrative kick to break lines and get the ball well clear of the defensive 50. When he took the kick-ins, he’d back in his speed and take on the opponent on the mark, then once he had run his distance, kick it 50-plus meters low and hard to give his leading teammates the best chance of holding onto it. Not only able to bullet his kicks, when required he weighted them well for a teammate to run onto and take easily.

#26 Jack Briskey

The former Collingwood train-on player was solid defensively and dangerous offensively, providing a well rounded performance that is sure to catch some eyes. He was strong overhead, even when under pressure, to hold most marks he should’ve taken. His follow up disposal was also generally good, though missing a few kicks or failing to get much penetration remains an area of improvement. What’s most impressive about Briskey is his athleticism for a bigman – he possesses great speed which saw him go for a couple of runs, one in the second quarter was particularly notable, where he took on two opponents and took a couple of bounces, then kicked long inside 50. That speed, along with his great leap meant that he rarely allowed his opponents to take marks near him, as he could close down the space extremely quickly and then compete in the air to get a fist in and spoil the mark.

SUNS Academy:

#2 Max Pescud

Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Pescud was arguably the spark that got Gold Coast piling on scores in the second and fourth quarters, bringing a nice bit of zip to the midfield group when he got the ball. He generally used it well, more inclined to place the ball in front of teammates rather than bullet it directly at them, making it easier to hold onto. When in the forwardline he was always dangerous, kicking the Suns’ first two goals of the game; one from a strong lead when the Suns got a turnover, and the next from crumbing from a pack and snapping it through the middle.

#4 Austin Harris

Whilst not accumulating massive numbers, the AFL Academy member added a bit of class out of the back half for the Suns, with his ball use and speed especially dangerous in transition. He got into the right spots trying to receive a handball on the outside of packs, with the times he was used in those situations generally resulting in a penetrating kick forward. Had an impressive display of composure in the third term, where he got the ball and managed to evade two opponents, then break a tackle and kick the ball laterally to a teammate. Through his efforts to be involved even when the ball wasn’t in the backline, he got up the ground and snagged a goal in the second quarter. He occasionally tried to do too much or opt for unrealistic targets, which is an area of his game he can look to iron out.

#22 Bailey Reeves

Starting the game up forward before being promptly moved into the midfield, Reeves was one of the leading ball winners for the Suns. In midfield, his balanced disposal was vital to his side winning the midfield battle, as he would often get first hands on it around the stoppages and then move it on via hand to an outside runner or kick long forward. In open play his kicking was accurate and sharp, giving his leading forwards to best chance to hold onto it and maintain their separation.

#35 Will Bella

The most dominant forward in the contest, Bella was able to easily out-body and out-reach opposition defenders in marking contests, making it almost a sure thing he was going to win one-on-ones. As the Lions defenders caught onto this strength, they started to look to outnumber him, forcing him to start leading a bit more and look to create separation which he did to varying success. He would’ve had more than just two goals if he had been a bit more accurate, with that conversion a part of his game that he’ll certainly look to work on. Looked comfortably the best ruck when he was rotating through there, winning taps and doing well as a ‘kick behind the play’ player.

2021 AFL Women’s draftee watch: Grand Final

BRISBANE was crowned the 2021 AFL Women’s premier on Saturday after defeating two-time winner, Adelaide by 18 points at Adelaide Oval. A number of fresh faces to the competition continued their contributions for the two remaining sides, producing big moments on the biggest of stages. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared across the latest weekend, focusing on players who were selected from the most recent draft crop.

2021 AFL Women’s Grand Final
Adelaide 3.2 (20) def. by Brisbane 6.2 (38) 

In Brisbane’s maiden premiership triumph, rookie speedster Courtney Hodder booted a couple of crucial goals to kickstart the Lions’ day. The diminutive mover got her side off to an ideal start, booting the first goal of the game with a typically shrewd snap only a couple of minutes in.

She then followed it up with a ridiculously good soccered effort in term two, trickling the ball home after latching onto a kick deep in the pocket that she had little right to get to first. It marked a terrific end to Hodder’s debut campaign, as she played every game and finished with nine disposals, five tackles, and those two goals in the all important decider.

18-year-old Indy Tahau was the Lions’ other 2020 draftee afield, with the athletic utility notching five disposals (four kicks), two marks, and one tackle. Her first season at senior level was a promising one, having come into the side in Round 4 and established her place among a well-drilled unit, playing every game thereafter.

Explosive first year forward Teah Charlton was a strong aerial presence for Adelaide, claiming five marks among her 11 disposals. The prized draft pick also managed two inside 50s and laid two tackles in her final performance for the year. Having come into a stacked squad with plenty of plaudits, Charlton played every game and lived up to her pick four billing.

Another Crow to have appeared in every game was Ashleigh Woodland, a 22-year-old who is making good on her second chance at the elite level. Her numbers – three disposals, one tackle – were not flattering on Saturday, but the dynamic forward was involved in some key moments during the first half and if not for Brisbane’s immense pressure, would have been involved in more scores for Adelaide.

Exciting small prospect Rachelle Martin was the Crows’ third draftee afield, with the 22-year-old good at ground level for nine disposals (seven handballs), two marks, three tackles, and two inside 50s. Having previously been a top-up player at the Crows, Martin capitalised on finally being included in the senior squad and played every game after Round 6, proving her AFLW worth.

Image Credit: James Elsby/AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Grand Final Preview: History repeats as AFLW greats meet again

THE 2021 AFL Women’s season has come to a head, with the biggest match of the year set to play out between two of the AFLW greats. Following huge preliminary final victories last week – one a blowout margin and one a hard-fought contest – there is no doubt the two best sides enter the big dance, with everything to play for and not just bragging rights, but also history on the line.

Adelaide v Brisbane
Saturday, April 17 @ 2:00 AEST
Adelaide Oval

In a matchup we have seen plenty of times, it’s only fitting that the two best teams of the AFLW era face off in today’s decider. The top two teams on the ladder, the Crows and the Lions first faced off in the 2017 grand final, with Adelaide victorious by six points, dishing out heartbreak to Lions players, staff and fans.

Since then, a lot has changed for both sides, but a rivalry has emerged, and classic matches have been born from this. The Lions have remained in contention in the coming years, suffering a second six-point grand final loss in as many years. The Crows stumbled in 2018, but found themselves premiers again as they smashed Carlton by 45 points in the 2019 grand final. The 2020 season was scrapped, meaning at least one of these two teams has featured in every AFLW grand final. It is almost destiny that the streak continues into 2021. To top it off, Lion Lauren Arnell will play for a flag in her final outing at the end of a strong career. Could a fairytale be on the cards?

Both finishing with eight wins (seven in the home and away season) and two losses, a percentage lead gave Adelaide the crucial home ground advantage in today’s game. Adelaide went 6-1 at Adelaide Oval this year, while the Lions went 5-1 at the Gabba. Both grounds are very different in both dimensions and atmosphere, so Adelaide have already gained an important boost. When these two teams faced off, Crows superstar Erin Phillips arguably won the game off her own boot for her side. She slotted four goals for the match – including the sealer in the final minute of the game – as Adelaide escaped with a 12-point win. Phillips has been one of the game’s best players since its inception and could prove to be a match-winner on the biggest stage of all. Expect Brisbane to put plenty of work into ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

There are key players all over the ground, with plenty of stars sure to attract attention from the opposition. Starting with the Crows, Phillips is clearly priority number one for Brisbane to negate, with her ability to tear a game open in a matter of minutes demonstrated in the previous matchup. Her talent both in the midfield and up forward makes it tough for Brisbane to settle on a hard one-on-one tag. The Lions will certainly have their hands full stopping the league’s first superstar. There is also Eb Marinoff, a midfield star in her own right. She put her stamp on the preliminary final, finishing with 35 disposals and 12 tackles, constantly tormenting opponents with her clinical work around the stoppages. The Crows midfield will be hard to stop, but the Lions can do it, and they have stars of their own. Midfielders Emily Bates and Isabelle Dawes will almost certainly have a say on Saturday’s result. The Crows will also have to be aware of Kate Lutkins and her ability to create from the back half. She is crucial to the team’s style of play and will be looking to deliver on the big stage as she has in the past, whilst Dakota Davidson and Courtney Hodder are critical cogs. Heartbreakingly, Chelsea Randall has been ruled out of a comeback for the Crows per the AFL’s strict 12-day concussion guidelines after sustaining a match-ending head-knock last week.

It’s a rivalry four years in the making, and one that has enthralled viewers all across the nation. The two best teams of the AFLW at the top of their respective games has the potential to be a classic in the making. No one knows who will be holding the cup later this afternoon, but the one certainty is that all eyes will be on Adelaide Oval.

Records:

Adelaide: 7-2 (1st)
Brisbane: 
7-2 (2nd)

Last 5:
Adelaide: 4-1
Brisbane: 4-1

2021 meeting:
Round 4
 – Adelaide by 12

Most goals:
Adelaide:
Erin Phillips (14)
Brisbane: Dakota Davidson (16)

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

AFL Women’s Preliminary Finals preview: Final four sides set to face off for grand final spots

THE AFL Women’s competition has reached its penultimate week of action, with only the top four sides remaining in the race for the 2021 premiership. Fremantle and North Melbourne were eliminated in last weekend’s qualifying matches, setting up what should be a cracking day of football. Two sides refreshed after a week off and two sides looking to keep their momentum rolling following wins last weekend have fans around Australia ecstatic for the preliminary finals ahead. Will top two sides Adelaide and Brisbane justify their positions on the ladder, or will Collingwood and Melbourne do Victoria proud and make their first grand final?

ADELAIDE vs. MELBOURNE
Saturday April 10, 2:10pm
Norwood Oval

Following a strong finish to the season, the Crows ended the home and away season on top of the AFLW ladder. This earned them a week off and the home ground advantage in Saturday’s prelim final. Their spot on top of the ladder also comes with a target on their backs, as they are the team to beat – a feat the in-form Demons will be looking to achieve in this match, with recent history on their side. When these sides last met, the Demons upset the Crows by 28 points in a convincing win. This result will give them confidence as they enter Saturday’s match with the underdog tag.

The Crows will be looking to apply the same pressure to their opponents that was applied to them the last time these teams met. The Demons put the Crows under constant and fierce tackling pressure as they ran out 28-point winners. The Crows will be using this as motivation, and if their midfield can grab control of the game as expected, it will be hard for the Demons to repeat the result earlier this season. Either way, expect a close contest as both teams will be fighting to the final siren to secure a spot in the grand final.

Melbourne will be without Daisy Pearce who injured her medial cruciate ligament (MCL) in the Dees’ Round 9 match against Brisbane and missed her side’s qualifying final victory over the Dockers. She remained on light duties at training on Thursday and was ruled out last night to face the Crows. Apart from Pearce, both sides have no unexpected niggles or issues, with the only players ruled out being on the long-term injury list.

The midfield battle will be the key matchup, with Adelaide’s midfield famously elite amongst the competition with a combination of Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips. This trio often have a large say on the result of their games, but Melbourne have proven their engine room is more than up to the task. Led by veteran on-baller Karen Paxman, the Demons have the capability to match the Crows in the middle and will be looking to do exactly that on Saturday.

Records:

Adelaide: 7-2 (1st)
Melbourne: 
7-2 (4th)

Last 5:

Adelaide: 4-1
Melbourne: 4-1

2021 meeting:

Round 9 – Melbourne by 28

Most goals:

Adelaide: Erin Phillips (12)
Melbourne: Kate Hore (11)

BRISBANE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday April 10, 4:10pm
Hickey Park

Despite top four finishes, both teams finished the season in less-than-ideal form. The Lions and the Pies both lost their final game of the season, but the similarities end there. The Pies pulled off a stunning win over North Melbourne last weekend, kicking three goals in the last quarter to pull of a heist and knock the Kangaroos out of the finals series. They will be looking to keep this momentum going but face a tough task against an experienced Brisbane outfit. The Lions have been in this position before, looking to make their third grand final appearance since the competition’s birth in 2017. They have stars all over the field, and earning a home ground advantage is a massive help. Refreshed after a week’s break, this Lions team will be refreshed and hungry to advance.

Last time these teams met in round seven, it proved to be a thrilling clash that went down to the wire. Moved from Brisbane to Victoria due to COVID risk, neutral ground VU Whitten Oval delivered strong winds that made things tough for both sides. The Lions just came out winners by three points, and two Pies players were injured in the process in what proved to be a costly game. Both sides will reflect on that result and should conditions permit, improve on their performance.

Both sides are quite fortunate on the injury front, with each side only ruling out one player each. For the Lions, their relatively clean bill of health continues, with only Lily Postlethwaite unfortunately ruled out due to an ACL tear suffered earlier in the season. For the Pies, they emerge from last week’s win with no fresh injuries. While Lauren Butler will miss this week’s match, she may recover in time for next weekend should the Pies advance, while Sophie Casey has returned from a concussion.

Lions tagger Cathy Svarc will likely once again have her eye on negating the impact of star Pie Bri Davey. When the two sides faced off in round seven, Svarc held Davey to only 14 disposals, well below her usual output. Davey can have a huge impact on any game given free reign, and the Lions will be keen to prevent this from happening.

Records:

Brisbane: 7-2 (2nd)
Collingwood: 7-2 (3rd)

Last 5:

Brisbane: 4-1
Collingwood: 3-2

2021 meeting:

Round 4 – Brisbane by 3

Most goals:
Brisbane:
Dakota Davidson (13)
Collingwood: Chloe Molloy (14)