Tag: Britney gutknecht

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Western Bulldogs

AFTER claiming a maiden AFL Women’s premiership in 2018 and looking impressive from the get-go in 2019, the Western Bulldogs fell away in the second half of the 2019 season to finish wooden spooners in Conference A. There was far from any shame in that, because had they been in the other conference, chances are they would have played finals, but it is what it is and the Dogs missed out on finals in 2019.

The AFL Women’s most active team over the off-season – which is saying something considering there are four expansion sides – the Western Bulldogs had eight players walk out the door to other clubs, and made three further changes with Hayley Wildes the sole retiree. Of the 2019 departures, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti would sting the most, with both genuine top 10 players in the competition, but now will don the yellow and black in season 2020. It leaves the Western Bulldogs with one elite established talent in Ellie Blackburn, but unlike a lot of sides, the Dogs have plenty of next tier talent either ready to break into that elite group, or sub-elite group.

Given the departures over the off-season, the Bulldogs headed into the draft with eight selections having only brought in Melbourne’s Ashleigh Guest as part of a trade that saw reliable defender, Libby Birch off to the Demons. With four selections in the top 10, and a new coach in Nathan Burke at the helm, AFL Women’s Draft Day was always going to be an optimistic one. The recruiting team leaned on Vic Metro Under-18 coach Burke, with the seven selections taken on the day coming from his Metro squad. It not only meant the chemistry between coach and players would already be established, but the team cohesion would also be impressive.

Gabby Newton was picked out as the first selection in the draft and can play any role across the ground, but will likely start in the middle. She could be joined by Northern Knights teammate, Britney Gutknecht in there, while Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis has the versatility to play anywhere, particularly in that back half. Gemma Lagioia and South Adelaide’s Hannah Munyard – the latter of whom was taken post-draft after the Bulldogs passed and the Crows opted not to select her – running down the ground will be a sight to see for Dogs fans. The Bulldogs also addressed the fact they lost some talent inside 50, with father-daughter selection Isabella Grant and Nell Morris-Dalton providing an aerial presence, as well as ground support in the form of Amelia van Oosterwijck.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Ashleigh Guest (Melbourne), Katy Herron (rookie – Gaelic), Danielle Marshall (rookie – soccer), Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton, Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights), Gemma Laioia, Amelia van Oosterwijck (Oakleigh Chargers), Elisabeth Georgostathis, Isabella Grant (Western Jets), Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide).
OUT: Katie Brennan, Monique Conti (Richmond), Selena Karlson, Emma Mackie (St Kilda), Tiarna Ernst (Gold Coast), Belinda Smith, Kate Bartlett (West Coast), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Tessa Boyd, Jesse Davies (delisted), Hayley Wildes (retired).

2020 TEAM LIST:

Deanna Berry
Ellie Blackburn
Eleanor Brown
Nicole Callinan
Naomi Ferres
Ellyse Gamble
Elisabeth Georgostathis
Angelica Gogos
Isabella Grant
Ashleigh Guest
Britney Gutknecht
Bailey Hunt
Isabel Huntington
Gemma Lagioia
Kirsty Lamb
Brooke Lochland
Aisling McCarthy
Kirsten McLeod
Celine Moody
Nell Morris-Dalton
Hannah Munyard
Gabby Newton
Kim Rennie
Hannah Scott
Lauren Spark
Bonnie Toogood
Aisling Utri
Amelia van Oosterwijck
Rookies: Katy Herron, Danielle Marshall

POTENTIAL SIDE:

B: Nicole Callinan – Hannah Scott – Ashleigh Guest
HB: Eleanor Brown – Lauren Spark – Elisabeth Georgostathis
C: Gabby Newton
HF: Bonnie Toogood – Isabel Huntington – Aisling Utri
F: Aisling McCarthy – Isabella Grant – Brooke Lochland
R: Kim Rennie – Ellie Blackburn – Kirsty Lamb
INT: Angelica Gogos – Nell Morris-Dalton – Gemma Lagioia – Naomi Ferres – Britney Gutknecht
EMG: Deanna Berry, Hannah Munyard, Celine Moody

DEPTH: Kirsten McLeod, Amelia van Oosterwijck, Bailey Hunt, Ellyse Gamble, Katy Herron*, Danielle Marshall*

Trying to work out a best 21 for the Western Bulldogs in season 2020 is near impossible, with so many fresh faces coming into the side. It will be a challenge for Burke to balance experience with youth, given that naturally the youth coming through are more developed than their predecessors and could have a greater impact sooner. But the balance is there to ensure that they are not complete pups, and that there are experienced heads guiding the team. Of the new recruits, Ashleigh Guest could fill a role in defence, with the Dogs’ back six going to be interesting outside of Hannah Scott, Lauren Spark and Nicole Callinan, with Burke possibly looking to adopt a running game, which means Eleanor Brown, Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia could rotate through there, with all of them easily in that best 21. Gabby Newton should play from Round 1 with Knights’ teammate Britney Gutknecht also in the running, as could Isabella Grant and Nell Morris-Dalton, but the forward line structure will be one for the Bulldogs to try and work out given the depth of both talls and smalls up that end. Of the draftees to miss out at this stage, it was the later selections of Amelia Van Oosterwijck and Hannah Munyard, though all two could come in and play a role, with Munyard having tasted senior football, while van Oosterwjck is more of a long-term prospect, but a real goer inside 50. Of the five experienced Dogs we left out – Deanna Berry, Ellyse Gamble, Bailey Hunt, Celine Moody and Kirsten McLeod – Moody is one who could play depending if the Dogs opt for a second ruck with Kim Rennie, Berry is a player who could be in the starting line-up on talent, it is just finding that consistency, while McLeod played six games last season, but with the influx of talent coming in, will be competing for a pot. Hunt and Gamble were on the fringes last season but still managed the three games.

Wide-eyed Newton guns for draft

IT has been a mammoth year for Gabby Newton. Captain of the premiership winning Northern Knights team, a key player in Vic Metro’s undefeated national carnival run, and now a welcome addition to Carlton’s VFLW squad – all while juggling school commitments and national basketball representation.

Even still, the potential high draft selection remains humble about her prospects of getting to the next level.

“I’m going in eyes wide open, just hoping somebody will pick me up,” Newton said. Just anybody, please,” she added with a laugh.

The Northern star’s footballing journey started out in a familiar way to many, through Auskick. Growing up in a “big football family” helped.

“My older brother played and my dad was really into footy so I’d always watch them and think ‘I really want to play as well’,” Newton said. “I started playing Auskick and played footy with the boys and just really grew passionate about it from there.”

Female talent pathways weren’t as plentiful or fruitful back then as they are today, but that wasn’t going to stop Newton from getting stuck in. Moving into the team game at Yarrambat, Newton played in the boy’s sides until the age of 13 before taking a break and re-joining the game via school football.

“I started at Yarrambat and played until Under 13s with the boy’s team, then had a couple of years off and played in the school sport nationals,” she said. “Then I came back and played with the girls at (Montmorency).”

So great is Newton’s love for the game that it has grabbed her “100 per cent focus” despite promise on the basketball side, with the dual-sport athlete confident her skills translate across both codes.

“Definitely footy this year (has taken priority),” she said. “I love basketball, they both go hand in hand but footy’s definitely my passion and my focus at the moment. “At the moment I wouldn’t (play both basketball and football). I’m not sure, who knows. “Maybe if I do get drafted and after a couple of years I might consider it but as I said, footy is the focus.”

That kind of focus has seen the utility excel in her top-age year, averaging 19.3 disposals, 2.8 marks, 4.7 tackles and 2.1 inside 50s in her 10 NAB League games, while going on to average 15.7 disposals, 4.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 clearances and almost a goal a game in a more forward-oriented role for Vic Metro at the Queensland championships.

A crowning moment in anyone’s junior career, Newton says the successful week in the Sunshine State was “so fun”.

“Obviously versing all the girls throughout the NAB League season you just think ‘it’s so annoying how (Georgia) Patrikios is so fast’, but then you get to play with them at Metro and it’s so good,” she said. “Going up to Queensland that was just such a fun week, the team bonded so well and playing against the best in Australia was just a blast and really good competition.

Having done it all among under-age competition, Newton has gone on to feature twice for Carlton’s VFLW side at the back end of the season alongside Knights teammate, Britney Gutknecht. With the AFLW the only step left to take, Newton is full of nerves despite her plaudits.

‘I’m really looking forward to the combine even though it’s pretty nerve-wracking, but it should be a good experience and then hopefully draft day won’t be too nerve-wracking – I think it’ll be a bit stressful but I’m really looking forward to it.”

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 16 – Magpies minor premiers for second year running

COLLINGWOOD Magpies found themselves with a second consecutive minor premiership in Round 16 of VFL Women’s, leaping the Southern Saints and allowing Geelong to jump into the top six for the first time this season for the last finals spot. Meanwhile, Richmond beat the highly touted Saints and Essendon slaughtered the lowly Williamstown Seagulls in a win that came too little, too late.

ESSENDON 3.0 | 5.4 | 10.8 | 11.12 (78)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 (1)

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 2, A. Quigley 2, M. DeMatteo 2, K. Petrevski, R. Svarc, E. Gogerly, S. Audley, L. Stepnell.
Williamstown: Nil.

BEST:

Essendon: G. Patrikios, L. Ahrens, M. Collier, F. Frew, A. Barba, A. Quigley
Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, K. Douglass, S. Whiting, J. Kawa, J. Heard

Essendon made it back-to-back wins to close out the season after thrashing Williamstown by 77 points at Windy Hill. The Bombers restricted the Seagulls to a solitary behind for the match, piling on 11 goals from 23 scoring shots on their way to their biggest win of the season. It meant they improved from their one-win season last year to now sit ninth on the table with six wins from 14 games. Under-18 talent Georgia Patrikios topped the disposal count with 22, while Lauren Ahrens picked up 20 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Georgia Nanscawen (17 disposals, three marks and six tackles) was again prominent onball, while Calder Cannons young gun Krstel Petrevski had 16 touches, three marks, two tackles and a goal. For the Seagulls, Danica Pedersen was a clear standout with 26 touches, while Sharnie Whiting (14 disposals, two marks and three tackles) and Jasmine Kawa (11 disposals, four marks and four tackles) were the others to reach double figures. Williamstown finished the season with the one win from 14 games, just behind Carlton on the table.

DAREBIN FALCONS 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 3.5 | 3.5 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

Darebin: K. Roe, N. Morris-Dalton, S. Simpson.
Western Bulldogs: E. Wood, S. Jolly, K. Betts, M. Sandral, D. Marshall.

BEST:

Darebin: A. Lister, K. Roe, S. Sansonetti, S. Simpson, B. Patterson, E. McLaughlin
Western Bulldogs: B. Hunt, D. Marshall, A. Gogos , S. Ruedin, A. Guest, E. Mackay

The Western Bulldogs showed why they sit third on the table heading into finals after seeing off Darebin Falcons in a 15-point victory. Darebin burst out of the blocks to lead by 17 points at quarter time, but the Bulldogs took control after that, booting 5.6 to 0.4 in the remaining three quarters to secure the 5.8 (38) to 3.5 (23) win. Ellie Gavalas earned 20 touches for the Dogs while laying five tackles, while Emma Mackay (15 disposals, two marks and four tackles) and Danielle Marshall (15 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four hitouts and one goal) were also influential in the win. Under-18 stars Ella Wood (13 disposals, two tackles and a goal) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (10 disposals, two marks and six tackles) again looked like they belonged, while the experienced head of Hayley Wildes (13 disposals, three marks and one tackle) was important. For the Falcons, Kathleen Roe stood tall with 22 disposals, two marks, five tackles and a goal, as Annalyse Lister (20 disposals, 10 tackles) was fierce around the stoppages, and Lauren Arnell (21 disposals, three marks) showed off all of her AFLW experience. Northern Knights’ duo Nell Morris-Dalton and Sarah Sansonetti also looked strong in the game.

HAWTHORN 1.2 | 1.3 | 3.6 | 4.8 (32)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.2 | 6.2 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: S. Perkins 3, M. Hutchins.
Collingwood: K. Lee 2, M. Shevlin 2, J. Lambert, R. Grant, M. Cann.

BEST:

Hawthorn: S. Perkins, L. McClelland, R. Beeson, E. Nixon, O. Flanagan, R. Dillon
Collingwood: S. Livingstone, N. Xenos, G. Buchan, M. Shevlin, B. Bonnici, S. Layton

Collingwood regained top spot on the VFLW ladder, taking home its second successive minor premiership in the process after downing Hawthorn by 14 points at Box Hill City Oval. The Magpies knocked the Hawks out of the finals race with the result, as the Pies now prepare for the Southern Saints next weekend. The return of Collingwood’s experience was crucial in the 7.4 (46) to 4.8 (32) victory, as competition leading goalkicker Jaimee Lambert booted a goal from 17 touches, five marks and 11 tackles to take out the award, while Brittany Bonnici returned to rack up a team-high 19 disposals and lay three tackles. Grace Buchan (18 disposals, four marks and four tackles) and Sarah Dargan (18 disposals, one mark and one tackle) were busy around the ground, while Maddie Shevlin and Katelyn Lee were the multiple goalkickers for the Pies. Rebecca Beeson was the Hawks’ biggest ball winner with 19 disposals, one mark and eight tackles, while Georgia Bevan (16 disposals, seven tackles) and Rosie Dillon (16 disposals, five tackles) won plenty of the ball. Up forward, Sarah Perkins booted three of the Hawks’ four goals and clunked four marks from 11 touches, while Lou Wotton and Tamara Luke were strong through the ruck, combining for 38 hitouts from 19 disposals.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.2 | 2.3 | 4.6| 4.6 (30)
RICHMOND 0.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS

Southern Saints: H. Stuart, J. Vogt, C. Greiser, T. Bohanna.
Richmond: S. Frederick 2, T. Stahl, J. Colwell, M. Conti.

BEST

Southern Saints: S. Johnson, T. Lucas-Rodd, O. Vesely, F. Steiert, C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw
Richmond: G. Egan, J. Colwell, S. Frederick, M. Conti, G. Seymour, K. Dempsey

The Southern Saints were knocked out of top spot in the final round of the season after finally taking the lead last round, going down by one goal to Richmond in what could potentially be a finals match up. While the Saints have had a mostly unblemished season, the Tigers have had a couple sloppy weeks so were well and truly ready to come out and prove themselves against the top side. With a 10-point lead at the final break it seemed that Saints had control after a see-sawing first half, before a dominant final stanza from the Tigers saw the Saints go scoreless to finish the match. For Richmond, Monique Conti found plenty of the footy with 23 touches to lead the Tiger’s disposal count, also collecting one goal and five tackles while the likes of Grace Egan (17 disposals, nine tackles) and Sabrina Frederick (two goals from five kicks) also had some good form in what could have been their final match of the year. For the Saints, Cat Philips racked up 17 disposals, providing a solid option moving the ball up the field but to no avail with little other players able to have an impact. Samantha Johnson (10 disposals, eight tackles) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (12 disposals, six tackles) were named among the best with four individual goalkickers thanks to the pressing defensive pressure of the Tigers, limiting regular Saints goalkickers to low impact possessions.

GEELONG 4.1 | 4.3 | 6.6 | 7.6 (48)
CARLTON 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS

Geelong: G. Clarke 3, S. Van De Heuvel, R. Cranston, K. Darby, J. Ivey.
Carlton: M. Clifford, B. Gurr.

BEST

Geelong: J. Ivey, D. Taylor, R. Cranston, G. Clarke, R. Webster, R. Garing
Carlton: B. Gutknecht, G. Wright, S. Wright, G. Pound, J. Hosking, M. Neill

In a match that went vastly different to their reverse fixture back in Round 8, Geelong well and truly pushed for their last ditch effort of finals contention, defeating the Blues by 33 points and jumping the Hawks to land themselves in sixth. While Carlton have put up some solid performances this season to contend with quality teams, they couldn’t compete with the Cats on a mission, only putting two goals on the board to finish their season second from the bottom. While the Cats took an early lead Carlton still looked like they were in it, kicking two goals to Geelong’s four in the first half, however were unable to compete in the second half conceding three goals and only kicking three behinds. Rene Caris impressed in the ruck, collecting 30 hitouts and 17 disposals while sharing the load with Kate Darby (12 hitouts, 11 disposals, one goal). Jordan Ivey and Renee Garing collected 25 and 24 disposals respectively, with Ivey kicking her fourth goal of the season while Garing managed 12 tackles to apply plenty of pressure on the Blues. Georgia Clarke was a big target forward in a solid outing, kicking three goals from eight touches while 18-year-old Lucy McEvoy collected 18 disposals and five tackles in her first win at the Cats. For the Blues, Jess Hosking and Sarah Wright were among the best around the ground, collecting 19 touches apiece and a combined 11 marks and eight tackles. Also impressive was young gun Gabby Newton (17 disposals, 15 tackles), while Mia-Rae Clifford (one goal, seven tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (nine touches, six tackles) applied valuable pressure on and around the ball.

MELBOURNE UNI 1.4 | 2.4 | 5.6 | 6.10 (46)
NT THUNDER 0.1 | 2.5 | 3.5 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS

Melbourne Uni: S. Abbatangelo 2, C. Daniec, C. Saxon-Jones, K. Angelis, E. Kearney.
NT Thunder: D. Ponter 2, L. Jeffrey, M. Ellis.

BEST

Melbourne Uni: S. Abbatangelo, J. Trend, E. Kearney, B. Gibson, J. Bruton, V. Saad
NT Thunder: D. Varnhagen, S. Riley, J. Baird, D. Ponter, L. Roberts, C. Deegan

Melbourne Uni well and truly finished their season on a high, defeating NT Thunder by 17 points despite a mostly inaccurate affair. While Uni put plenty of goals on the board after taking control early in the second half, their kicking in front of goal left something to be desired with the likes of Katie Angelis kicking 1.4 from her nine kicks and six marks. While Thunder took advantage of their opportunities in front of goal, applying scoreboard pressure in every quarter bar the first, their chances were limited thanks to the defensive pressure of the Mugars on the brink of finals. Emma Kearney (29 disposals, six tackles, one goal) and Sophie Abbatangelo (27 disposals, 10 marks, five tackles, two goals) starred for Uni, while Vivien Saad was solid in the ruck with 29 hitouts, finding her teammates with ease as they dominated stoppages. Kate Gillespie-Jones was consistent as ever with 24 touches, nine marks and eight tackles. For Thunder, Stevie-Lee Thompson put in the hard yards with 22 touches, four marks and two behinds, attempting to push forward to create opportunities forward while Deni Varnhagen did a wealth of work behind the ball to finish with 27 disposals and five marks. Meanwhile, young gun Danielle Ponter kicked two of Thunder’s four goals, providing a solid target forward collecting 14 touches and three marks.

2019 NAB League Girls Team of the Year announced

THE 2019 NAB Under 18 Girls Team of the Year was announced with five Northern Knights players named in the squad. The premiership side saw Sarah Sansonetti, Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton, Britney Gutknecht and Ellie McKenzie all make the team, while coach Marcus Abney-Hastings was named Coach of the Year after guiding his side to victory in the grand final.

The defence end of the Cannons impressed with Felicity Theodore and Georgie Prespakis both making the team while Georgia Patrikios also made her way into the side after a stellar 2019 performance. She was accompanied by Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis and Dandenong Stingrays’ Molly McDonald in the midfield thanks to their clever ball use and class across the field.

Western Bulldogs father-daughter prospect Isabella Grant was named at half forward for her efforts throughout the season for the Western Jets. Olivia Meagher and Murray Bushrangers’ youngster Olivia Barber also got named in the team of the season credit to their work in the forward 50 and ability to find the goals when their side needed them.

Molly Denahy-Maloney was named in the ruck with Geelong captain Lucy McEvoy and GWV Rebels player Sophie Molan earning a spot in the Team of the Year.

BP – 1 – M. TUPPER
CC – 3 – G. PRESPAKIS, G. PATRIKIOS, F. THEODORE
DS – 3 – I. SHANNON, T. SMITH, M. MCDONALD
ER – 2 – L. MCCLELLAND, O. MEAGHER
GF – 2 – L. MCEVOY, L. LESOSKY-HAY
GP – 1 – M. SHAW
GWV – 1 – S. MOLAN
MB – 2 – M. BROWN, O. BARNER
NK – 5 – S. SANSONETTI, E. MCKENZIE, G. NEWTON, N. MORRIS-DALTON, B. GUTKNECHT
OC – 1 – J. LIN
SD – 1 – M. DENAHY MALONEY
WJ – 2 – I. GRANT, E. GEORGOSTATHIS

Gutknecht makes the step up

CAST your mind back to April 2018; Round 7 of the them-named TAC Cup, Northern Knights against Bendigo Pioneers, the true arrival of Britney Gutknecht.

Having donned the navy, black and white in every game of her middle-age year to that point, the shrewd small forward booted seven goals in a starring performance as the Knights got up by a whopping 71 points.

Though the feat came as no real shock to those in the know given her talent, Gutknecht was a little more surprised.

“Throughout the game I didn’t even realise I had kicked that many,” Gutknecht said of her outing. “There was a rumour I got six but we found out I got seven and I was like ‘That did not seem like it’, so it was very surprising.”

While most would be satisfied with a seven-goal haul at the elite junior level, the performance would merely prove a stepping stone into the key year in Gutknecht’s footballing journey.

Taking on a leadership role in the young Knights side, the Laurimar product not only looked to make the step up in her off-field appeal, but also had further goals to kick on-field. Speaking at the pre-season NAB League Fitness Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me in March, Gutknecht pointed toward leading “by example” while also hoping to become a more “appealing” player.

“Being a top-ager this year you’ve got a lot of the younger girls who kind of look up to you so it’s good seeing that,” she said. “I suppose you’ve got to show them the right things to do and pull them up if their training standards aren’t up to scratch, stuff like that. “For myself I’m looking at my contested ball and maybe taking the game on a bit on the outside, taking the ball for a few runs… it’ll make me look like a more appealing player, because I can take the game on when I get the opportunity.”

The Northern star lived up to that promise, taking to more permanent move into the midfield after booting four goals against Murray in Round 1, where she would prove tricky at the fall of the ball and opportunistic in general play when getting the ball moving quickly. In a season that saw Gutknecht finish her three years in the Knights program off with a premiership, she averaged 16.6 disposals, 4.7 tackles, 2.8 inside 50s and almost a goal a game.

Second in Northern’s best and fairest, Gutknecht’s NAB League form and thriving performance in a star-studded Vic Metro outfit then saw her become an obvious choice to debut alongside Knights skipper Gabby Newton for Carlton’s VFLW side in July, something which could become a familiar sight given the Blues’ AFLW draft hand.

Making the ‘Big V’ squad was a goal highlighted by Gutknecht in the pre-season and after a fruitful year, her sights will now be firmly fixed on the “massive goal” of getting drafted.

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 14 – Big margins split the ladder

ROUND 14 saw the top sides in the competition all but separate from the lower sides on the ladder, with the top six only needing to continue winning in order to make finals. Wins to four of the top six this week – with the other two sides in Collingwood and Southern Saints having byes – all but locks finals up, with only positions within the six likely to change over the next few rounds. With only two matches left in the season the only side below the six that really has potential to make finals is Geelong, but the side will need to not only win its remaining two games but also rely on other results to go their way to make it through unscathed.

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.4 (4)
DAREBIN 2.4 | 2.5 | 6.11 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS

Williamstown: Nil.
Darebin: M. Wilson 2, L. Pearce, A. Lister, C. Byrne, S. Simpson, L. Arnell.

BEST

Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, J. Kawa, R. Tripodi, S. Whiting, A. Melnikas
Darebin: L. Pearce, A. Lister, R. Hicks, E. O’Dea, C. Byrne, L. Arnell

It was the second time these sides fought it out in 2019, and the Falcons were not going to let their last match define them with a massive 49-point victory over the weekend proving the side has the ability to be better than some of their scores this season suggest. This match spells disaster for the Seagulls however, with the side running out of opportunities to get a second win on the board and this round arguably their best opportunity of doing so. Elise O’Dea and Lauren Pearce paired well across the field to dominate the contest, managing 25 touches apiece while O’Dea also racked up five tackles. Pearce was phenomenal as ever in the ruck, booting a goal and collecting 49 hitouts and six tackles for her efforts. Maddison Wilson kicked two goals from 11 touches while Annalyse Lister also had a solid performance with 15 disposals, nine tackles and a goal. Reni Hicks was phenomenal as ever, as the number one tackler of the competition with another 17 tackles and 16 disposals to her name. For the Seagulls, Mo Hope and Sharnie Whiting were the usual suspects finding plenty of the footy, picking up 21 and 20 disposals apiece while Megan Williamson (17 disposals, 10 tackles), Ruby Tripodi (12 disposals, nine tackles) and Ashlea Melnikas (nine disposals, nine tackles) played their individual roles well to apply pressure on the Falcons but to no avail.

HAWTHORN 1.4 | 2.6 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)
CASEY 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Luke.
Casey: M. Guerin, H. Cordner, S. Notman.

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Membrey, G. Bevan, C. Perera, E. Nixon, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams
Casey: A. McDonough, T. Hanks, M. Hogg, S. Lampard, K. Hore, B. Winbanks

A late fightback by Casey saw the side almost get away with a shock win over the Hawks, but it was too little too late with the Hawks prevailing despite not putting a score on the board in the final term. This was not the percentage boosting win the Hawks wanted however, with the three point win only scraping by in the race for finals. While Casey will be happy with their ability to come back from the loss, they will be rueing missed opportunities after a dominant final term almost got them the win along with relatively even stats across the board. Phoebe McWilliams kicked two goals from six touches as a solid option forward, while a smattering of players did what they could to get on the board but could not convert. Lou Wotton (44 hitouts, 11 touches, 10 tackles) and Bec Beeson (24 disposals, 10 tackles, six marks) starred as usual for the Hawks, finding plenty of the footy while Georgia Bevan starred in the contest with 17 tackles. For Casey, Sarah Lampard put on a solid performance in ultimately her best match for the season with 28 touches, seven marks and five tackles while Maddy Guerin (seven tackles, five marks, one goal) and Lily Mithen (11 tackles, three marks) were next up with 16 touches apiece. Bridie Winbanks and Harriet Cordner combined for 32 hitouts in the ruck, while Shanara Notman kicked a goal in her second match for the side.

GEELONG 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 4.6 (30)
MELBOURNE UNI 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS

Geelong: M. Maguire 2, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel.
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson 3, K. Angelis, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton.

BEST

Geelong: R. Cranston, K. Darby, A. McDonald, L. McEvoy, M. Maguire, M. Keryk
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, B. Gibson, E. Kearney, K. Ebb, A. Runnalls, J. Bruton

Melbourne Uni prevailed in cold conditions down at Geelong, beating the home side by 14 points to maintain their position in the top six and go one game clear of the Cats. While Geelong perhaps didn’t get off to the start they desired, they evened up to lead at half time before failing to put another goal on the board after half time. With a definite scoring end it was the Mugars who made the most of their opportunities, slotting seven goals for the match to set up a solid win despite not putting a score on the board in the final quarter. Jasmine Garner lead the charge for Uni, collecting 31 touches, 10 marks, nine tackles and a goal on her way to dominating all aspects of the contest while Ashleigh Riddell and Jess Trend followed suit combining for 44 touches and 13 tackles. Meanwhile, Britt Gibson kicked three goals from 12 disposals for her best haul of the season so far while Emma Kearney collected 18 touches, seven tackles and a goal in her first match of the season. While it was an evenly matched ruck contest between Vivien Saad (26 hitouts) and Kate Darby (21 hitouts, 18 disposals, five marks, five tackles), Darby well and truly found her form to follow up with two attempts at goal which unfortunately did not hit their mark. Olivia Purcell was the prime ball magnet for Geelong with 20 disposals, while the likes of Richelle Cranston (18 disposals, five tackles) and Madisen Maguire (two goals) put in the hard yards across the field.

CARLTON 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 (21)
RICHMOND 0.6 | 4.7 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS

Carlton: L. Brazzale, A. McKay, S. Wright.
Richmond: T. Stahl 3, T. Brett 3, C. Wakefield , H. Ibrahim, M. Conti, J. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: S. Wright, C. Bromage, B. Gutknecht, B. Gurr, G. Wright, G. Pound
Richmond: A. Edmonds, T. Brett, T. Stahl, M. Conti, J. Kennedy, C. Wakefield

Richmond finally got the big win they have been waiting for over the weekend, confidently running over the Blues by 48 points. While the Tigers certainly had all the momentum early they had big issues meeting targets with six behinds on the board in the first that could have had them up by close to 40 points early. After the first quarter however they unleashed, with the Blues floored by the Tigers as they kicked 10 goals to one in the remaining three terms. With two players individually almost outscoring Carlton on their own, it was always going to be a big win for the Tigers. While a usual suspect in Tayla Stahl kicking three goals from 11 touches and four marks, it was the effort of debutant Teagan Brett that caught the eyes of many with a respective three goals and 12 disposals in her first match in yellow and black. Monique Conti was also impressive with 26 disposals, six tackles and a goal while Alice Edmonds shared the role in ruck well with 32 hitouts and 14 disposals, pairing with Gabby Seymour who collected a further 15 hitouts. For the Blues, Lauren Brazzale was pivotal with 18 disposals and a goal while Gabby Pound (15 disposals, eight tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (13 disposals, six tackles) put in the hard yards to find plenty of ball.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
ESSENDON 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland 2, M. Ward 2, K. McLeod, E. Blackburn.
Essendon: Nil.

BEST

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland, N. Ferres, D. Berry , E. Georgostathis, A. Guest, M. Ward
Essendon: G. Patrikios, S. Audley, L. Ahrens, M. Fogas, A. Barba, E. Ashley-Cooper

The Bulldogs’ massive win this week mirrored their AFL side’s victory, with a 44 point win keeping the Bombers without a goal for the match in what was an impressive display at home. The Bulldogs got off to a solid start kicking five goals nil in the first half before matching it in the second half and denying the Bombers any easy ball. While their accuracy once again left plenty to be desired, the Dogs played a confidence game and were not scared to take advantage of opportunities to keep the Bombers out of the contest. Despite a disappointing performances from the Bombers as a whole, Georgia Patrikios (21 disposals, 11 tackles) and Georgia Nanscawen (21 disposals, six tackles) found plenty of the footy to spur the side forward while Kendra Heil applied some great pressure with nine tackles and 20 touches to her name. While Simone Nalder matched Celine Moody for hitouts (21 apiece), it was the Bulldogs’ use of a second ruck in Nicole McMahon (17 hitouts) that saw them run away with the match. Ellie Blackburn (25 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ellie Gavalas (25 disposals, four tackles) were phenomenal for the home side, while Brooke Lochland and Mikayla Ward kicked two goals apiece, unstoppable inside 50 and Angelina Gogos provided plenty of ball back forward with 12 tackles.

AFL Women’s Draft Combine: Player Summaries

AFTER the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft Combine list of names were announced earlier in the week, we take a look at each player who was nominated, with a quick summary and link to their profile. Check them out below:

2019 AFLW NAB Draft Combine Nominees

NSW/ACT: [3]

Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
* Eastern Allies captain, member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and a player from the GIANTS heartland of western Sydney

Eloise Hiller-Stanbrook (Dubbo)
* Tireless ruck who averaged 14 hitouts per game at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships

Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)
* All-Australian in 2019 and a crucial key defender who can move up the ground, also from western Sydney heartland

QUEENSLAND: [8]

Georgia Breward (Coolangatta)+
* Suffered a season-ending injury last year but showed plenty of talent and determination

Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
* Classy, smart forward who made All-Australian last year in her middle-age year

Dee Heslop (Yeronga South Brisbane)
* Consistent player who has been reliable in the defensive half and uses the ball well

Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)+
* Ruck prospect who played as an over-ager at the championships and performed strongly

Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
* Dual All-Australian and state captain, super talented midfielder

Taylor Smith (Bond University)+
* Tall target who presented well during the championships up forward, another overage player on the list

Serene Watson (Bond University)
* Another dual All-Australian from Queensland who provided a reliable marking target in the defensive half, repelling opposition attacks time and time again

Tarni White (Coorparoo)
* Returned from an ACL injury to show some promising signs at the championships and has plenty of upside

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: [4]

Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
* Dual All-Australian ruck and dual Most Valuable Player (MVP), South Australian and Central Allies captain, South Adelaide premiership player… the list of accolades is unbelievable. Top ruck in the draft crop

Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide)
* Smart user of the footy with elite athletic traits, premiership player at South Adelaide predominantly through the midfield

Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
* One of the top rebounders in the draft crop, an All-Australian in 2019 and consistent as they come

Jaimi Tabb (Woodville-West Torrens)
* Tackling machine who thrives on the contest and has shown a capability to also win the ball on the outside as well

TASMANIA: [1]

Mia King (Launceston)
* Super talented mover through the midfield with burst speed, King won the Eastern Allies’ MVP for the carnival to go with her All-Australian selection. North Melbourne have first priority being Tasmanian

VIC COUNTRY: [10]

Teagan Brett (Murray Bushrangers)
* Small midfielder who came of age in the championships, playing well on the outside and getting the ball from midfield into attack

Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
* Potential Geelong father-daughter selection, Brown was superb across the championships in defence until injury ruled her out of the final game. 2019 All-Australian

Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
* Accumulator who just finds the football and works hard into space, a key cog in Geelong Falcons’ midfield with Lucy McEvoy

Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
* Hard to even begin with the accolades, but a three-time All-Australian, dual Best and Fairest, premiership captain, Vic Country MVP… just a star and unbelievable leader who has captained for three years at the Falcons

Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
* Natural born leader who captained the Rebels this year and is as versatile as they come, can play anywhere and was a 2019 All-Australian

Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power)
* A late bloomer after having last year off, she can play up either end and is strong in the air and very good athletically

Paige Sheppard (Geelong Falcons)
* Raised her draft stocks at the championships with a terrific carnival following on from a consistent year in the NAB League Girls

Brooke Vernon (Dandenong Stingrays)
* One of Dandenong’s best in the NAB League Girls this year, playing as a rebounding defender who is as good in the air as she is at ground level

Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power)
* Tall forward who can also play through the midfield, Webber is an elite kick of the footy, arguably the best in the draft crop with accuracy and penetration

Ella Wood (GWV Rebels)
* Uncompromising midfielder who loves the contested side of footy and relishes winning the hard ball with great courage

VIC METRO: [15]

Alana Barba (Calder Cannons)
* A tackling machine who stood up particularly later in the year, emerging as a genuine draft chance with great defensive pressure

Molly Denahy-Maloney (Sandringham Dragons)
* Athletic ruck who captained Sandringham Dragons this year and held up Vic Metro’s ruck division in 2019

Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
* Captain of Western Jets and one who always puts her body on the line, Georgostathis was another who raised her draft stocks at the championships with important moments in big games. Can play anywhere on the field too

Isabella Grant (Western Jets)
* Potential Western Bulldogs father-daughter, she is able to play midfield or forward and can take a grab and hit the scoreboard

Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
* Known for her goalkicking last year, Gutknecht became an inside midfielder this year and was a key player in the Knights’ premiership side

Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
* Classy user of the football who can play anywhere on the ground, she was able to develop her inside game at the championships to add another string to her bow

Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
* One of only three Vic Metro All-Australians, McClelland can play anywhere on the ground and is strong in the air and capable of kicking terrific goals

Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
* One of the most consistent players this season, Morris-Dalton had a massive end to the NAB League Girls season and is so strong one-on-one, particularly in the air

Gabrielle Newton (Northern Knights)
* Dual All-Australian, Northern Knights premiership captain and one who is almost copied and pasted into the best every week, Newton hardly puts a foot wrong and has played literally everywhere on the field from the ruck to all thirds of the ground given her athletic talents

Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
* Overall MVP of the championships, Patrikios led her Calder side to a grand final and has the best agility of any player in the draft crop. Uses the ball well and is a dual All-Australian too

Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham Dragons)
* Speedy winger who has developed rapidly this year playing for the Dragons and earned a spot on Vic Metro’s list for the championships, holding her own there

Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
* Reliable defender who stood up in the NAB League Girls Grand Final for Northern and just does the job week-in, week-out

Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
* Key forward who is a strong contested mark and powerful set shot at goal, she thrived on one-on-one situations at the championships

Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons)
* Fierce tackling runner who just works hard all day and attacks the footy and ball carrier with vigour, able to play up either end and provide great defensive pressure

Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)
* Talented running defender who uses the ball well off half-back and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [4]

Sophie McDonald (Claremont)+
* Key defender who repelled opposition attacks and was able to set up attacking plays after some goal-saving moves deep in defence

Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)*
* Did not play up on the Gold Coast, but O’Driscoll is a reliable defender who has good positioning and high level smarts

Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
* Exciting key forward who has a massive vertical leap and could become a human highlight reel with her long kicking, goal sense and work rate; another All-Australian

Mim Strom (South Fremantle)
* Really stood out in the ruck as a key player who not only worked well at stoppages, but at ground level and around the ground, providing an impact – 2019 All-Australian too

+Overage player (ie. born 2000)

2019 AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations announced

FORTY-five players have been invited to the 2019 AFL Women’s NAB Draft Combine, with 25 from Victoria – where eight of the 10 AFL Women’s clubs are based, with Queensland (eight) the next highest. Four players from both South Australia and Western Australia have been invited, as have three from NSW/ACT and one from Tasmania. Among the invitees are five overagers (eligible last year), as well as two father-daughter potential selections in Isabella Grant (Western Bulldogs) and Millie Brown (Geelong). Players who are already pre-listed to clubs such as Gold Coast’s Ellie Hampson, West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen and St Kilda’s Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon were not included in the invitations.

The combine will be held from October 1-3 to align with the AFL Under-18 National Combine. Western Bulldogs hold the first pick in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft.

Extended content on the invitees will come later in the week.

2019 AFLW NAB Draft Combine Nominees

NSW/ACT: [3]
Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
Eloise Hiller-Stanbrook (Dubbo)
Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)

QUEENSLAND: [8]
Georgia Breward (Coolangatta)*
Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
Dee Heslop (Yeronga South Brisbane)
Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)*
Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
Taylor Smith (Bond University)*
Serene Watson (Bond University)
Tarni White (Coorparoo)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: [4]
Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide)
Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
Jaimi Tabb (Woodville-West Torrens)

TASMANIA: [1]
Mia King (Launceston)

VIC COUNTRY: [10]
Teagan Brett (Murray Bushrangers)
Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power)
Paige Sheppard (Geelong Falcons)
Brooke Vernon (Dandenong Stingrays)
Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power)
Ella Wood (GWV Rebels)

VIC METRO: [15]
Alana Barba (Calder Cannons)
Molly Denahy-Maloney (Sandringham Dragons)
Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Isabella Grant (Western Jets)
Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
Gabrielle Newton (Northern Knights)
Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham Dragons)
Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons)
Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [4]
Sophie McDonald (Claremont)*
Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)*
Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
Mim Strom (South Fremantle)

*Overage player (ie. born 2000)

Vic Metro claims impressive AFLW U18 win over Country counterparts

VIC Metro has made an impressive statement to the rest of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships teams with a clinical 44-point win over Vic Country at Avalon Airport Oval yesterday. Northern Knights middle-ager Ellie McKenzie was absolutely superb playing around the ground, working hard in a midfield that showed it could balance its share of contested and uncontested work, with McKenzie taking a five-bounce run along the wing – just two shy of her effort in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, despite dewy conditions. Knights teammates Britney Gutknecht and Gabby Newton also worked hard through the midfield, while Alyssa Bannan and Sarah Hartwig were prominent up opposite ends.

From the first bounce it was clear the Metro side, led by Western Jets utility and potential Western Bulldogs father-daughter selection, Isabella Grant was up for the match. Grant herself booted two opening term goals – one of which came from a double 50-metre penalty after her opponent tackled her after mistakingly hearing the umpire call play-on. Despite the dominance of play, Metro still could only muster two goals from five scoring shots, before Isabella Simmons got one back against the flow. Just nine points up, and the game seemingly more in Metro’s control than the scoreline suggested, it took a few pieces of magic down the wing, and a flying shot from Alyssa Bannan just before the quarter time siren, for the ball to bounce past the diving arms of defender Millie Brown and bounce through for Metro’s third goal of the quarter as the siren rang out.

Brown was everywhere for the Country side in defence as she swallowed up a number of Metro forward entries, but was ultimately overwhelmed as Metro’s pressure all but locked the ball in their half for the second quarter. Country had just a couple of inside 50s in that second term, while Nell Morris-Dalton started to turn up the heat, spraying a set shot, just missing a snap and then arguably nailing the hardest shot of the attempts. Over the middle two quarters, Metro controlled play, with Bannan, McKenzie and Newton all impressing, including a great one-on-one goal to Morris-Dalton in the third term that saw her stay on her feet against Lucy McEvoy, win the ball and snap around her body to all but ice the game. It came after Shanara Notman converted a vital goal for the Country team, doing all she could leading up forward and making good on her set shot. For all of Metro’s dominance on the field, they finally had it on the scoreboard with a 44-point margin.

The final quarter looked like a different game to start with, as Country began to win more of the ball out of midfield and give its forwards opportunities to kick goals. Renee Saulitis finally got her chance with a bit of space and she weaved her magic not once, but twice, getting the ball over the top and using her calm, cool composure to slot two goals after a miss earlier in the game. Country cut the deficit back to less than 40 points, but another double 50-metre penalty to Grant – with an opponent getting in the protected area – saw her remarkably kick her third goal of the game, and her second from point-blank. Not to be outdone on the scoreboard, the most clinical play of the day came next with Oakleigh Chargers’ Nicola Xenos roving a tap and pumping the ball inside 50 to a contest. Bannan was the first to pick up the ball cleanly, evade an opponent and kick her third truly to match Grant. This time, for all of Country’s dominance, a purple patch by the Metro team saw them draw level for the quarter and enjoy a big win.

Metro had winners across the park, with McKenzie, Lagioia, Gutknect and Western Jets’ skipper Elisabeth Georgostathis all playing important roles through the midfield, while Sandringham Dragons’ skipper Molly Denahy Maloney played an underrated game through the middle quarters, intercepting a lot of ball through the midfield and half-forward to set up plays. Morris-Dalton and Bannan were the benficiaries up forward, while down back, Hartwig was sensational, knowing when to drop off the contest and stand a kick behind play ready for the quick Country clearance out of a wing stoppage. Despite the ball largely being camped up the other end, Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard rebounded most of what came near them, and loom as a damaging duo not just this year, but next year as well.

For Country, Brown was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters, often under siege on the last line, she and Murray Bushrangers’ teammate Sophie Locke were often the ones clearing the ball out of the back 50, while Tyanna Smith and Paige Sheppard provided some great run from half-back and through midfield. McEvoy unsurprisingly played a four-quarter game and showed intent laying some massive tackles on opponents as she tried to will the side over the line. Saulitis was another who stood out when given her chance going forward, while the likes of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels middle-agers Maggie Caris and Simmons kept presenting around the ground. Ultimately though, Metro had too many winners across the park, and head up to Queensland full of confidence following a terrific victory over their Victorian Country counterparts.

VIC COUNTRY 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
VIC METRO 3.3 | 5.6 | 8.9 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Vic Country: R. Saulitis (GWV) 2, I. Simmons (GWV), S. Notman (Gippsland)
Vic Metro: I. Grant (Western) 3, A. Bannan (Northern) 3, N. Morris-Dalton (Northern) 2, E. Georgostathis (Western), G. Newton (Northern)

ADC BEST:

Vic Country: M. Brown, L. McEvoy, P. Sheppard, T. Smith, R. Saulitis, M. Caris
Vic Metro: E. McKenzie, G. Lagioia, A. Bannan, S. Hartwig, G. Newton, I. Grant.

AFLW U18 Championships preview: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VICTORIA’S top under-age female footballers lock horns in the final game of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships Series One. Vic Country takes on Vic Metro at Avalon Airport Oval tomorrow, with both sides packed to the brim with talent. After facing off in the NAB League Girls competition all year, the best of the best now team up for state pride as they prepare for Series Two of the competition up on the Gold Coast in a fortnight. We take a look at both sides and analyse the key strengths of the teams.

Note: The game will be live streamed via the NAB League website with commentary from Under-18 and VFLW commentator Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central Chief Editor Peter Williams.

VIC COUNTRY

B: 10. Sophie Locke – 22. Millie Brown – 30. Daisy Smith
HB: 19. Brooke Vernon – 14. Abbey Chapman – 15 Isabella Shannon
C: 12. Tyanna Smith – 23. Lucy McEvoy – 13. Molly McDonald
HF: 3. Paige Sheppard – 27. Shanara Notman – 24. Isabella Simmons
F: 4. Renee Saulitis – 25. Olivia Barber – 9. Darcy Moloney
R: 29. Maggie Caris – 11. Brooke Hards – 5. Luka Lesosky-Hay
INT: 21. Sophie Molan – 1. Elise Vella – 28. Georgia Howes – 18. Kate Douglass – 6. Laura Gardiner – 16. Renee Tierney

Vic Country is unsurprisingly packed with 2018 premiers and 2019 finalists, Geelong Falcons, with nine of the 24 players named in the Country squad from the Falcons team. Given exciting forward Mia Skinner is injured, their representation could well have reached double figures for the Aasta O’Connor-coached side. The aspects to like about Vic Country will be their defence, hardness at the ball and the X-factor up forward.

1. Defence

The Country side has two genuine lockdown talls who can also provide some rebound in Abbey Chapman and Kate Douglass, while Millie Brown – named at full-back is an offensive defender with a terrific set of hands and can push up into the midfield to provide support. Brooke Vernon was the best rebounding medium defender this year and having her at half-back will be an asset, while seeing Isabella Shannon named in the back half is a surprise, but just shows her versatility having played mostly through midfield and up forward. She does have the capacity to drop back into the hole in defence, and no doubt she will be required to do so with the tall Metro attack likely to stretch the defence. Sophie Locke will likely lock down on a smaller opponent – perhaps Nicola Xenos or Jess Fitzgerald when forward – while Daisy Smith can do the same, although she is more likely to play tall. Given the height and marking ability of the Metro side, they might need three talls in defence to counteract Metro’s strength in the air.

2. Hardness at the ball

If you look at the starting five midfield of Brooke Hards, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Tyanna Smith, Lucy McEvoy and Molly McDonald, the first thing that comes to mind is – you would not want to be an opposition midfielder. They attack the ball hard, and will rack up the contested ball and is an area they can exploit Metro. Smith has a point of difference with her pace, as does the outside run of Elise Vella coming off the bench, but the speed that Metro possesses will trouble the Country side. It is why winning it at the coalface is so important, and McEvoy, Hards and McDonald in particular will not take a backwards step, being captains and potential future captain of their respective NAB League girls clubs. With Maggie Caris in the ruck, the midfield will get first look at it more often than not, and that midfield also includes the likes of Sophie Molan and Laura Gardiner coming off the bench, as well as Paige Sheppard and Darcy Moloney who can rotate through there, as can Shannon and Brown.

3. X-factor up forward

The named Vic Country forward line is almost one to watch for 2020, with four of the six starting forwards not eligible to be drafted until next year. The two exceptions are Shanara Notman – an exciting key position player with a huge leap and terrific hands, who has spent time in defence this year for Gippsland Power after sitting out last year – and Paige Sheppard – who is one of the better kicks in the team, setting up forward plays with great precision kicking and vision. Otherwise, the remaining four still have plenty of time to develop, with Olivia Barber one of the most exciting key forwards coming through, able to make the right leads and clunk marks, just needing to iron out her set shots at times. Isabella Simmons is a tall prospect with good athleticism who roams up to the wing and can play tall or small at ground level, while Darcy Moloney and Renee Saulitis are clever forwards who if you give them an inch will take a mile. Moloney has spent time in the midfield for the Falcons this year, while Saulitis has also proven to be a more than capable defender, so versatility is something the Country side has in spades. The forward line has the nice balance of talls and smalls, and of course chuck in Renee Tierney and Georgia Howes off the bench – Howes will also share the ruck load with Caris – and there is plenty of scoring potential there.

VIC METRO

B: 2. Felicity Theodore – 28. Isabelle Pritchard – 14. Laura McClelland
HB: 22. Sarah Hartwig – 20. Sarah Sansonetti – 12. Alice Burke
C: 8. Mimi Hill – 13. Britney Gutknecht – 17. Georgia Patrikios
HF: 26. Gabrielle Newton – 29. Cleo Saxon-Jones – 24. Isabella Grant
F: 15. Alyssa Bannan – 23. Nell Morris-Dalton – 4. Nicola Xenos
R: 27. Molly Denahy Moloney – 3. Gemma Lagioia – 21. Ellie McKenzie
INT: 19. Marguerite Purcell – 5. Elisabeth Georgostathis – 34. Jessica Fitzgerald – 10. Alana Barba – 18. Emma Horne – 9. Bella Eddey

Vic Metro will head into this game pretty confident following their win over Vic Country last year as arguable underdogs. This year they will likely go in as favourites, but it is predicted to be a tight contest. There are quite a few reasons for their favouritism, but the forward line marking ability is the number one aspect, while others include their speed, and intercept marking.

1. Marks inside 50

The Metro side has a dynamic forward line, with many incredibly athletic at ground level and can impress in the air or at ground level. The two that are the genuine key position players – Cleo-Saxon Jones and Nell Morris-Dalton – are arguably the two best contested marks in the competition this year, and throwing them into attack with Gabby Newton, Isabella Grant and Alyssa Bannan means the attack has a massive advantage for high balls coming in. The Vic Country defence will need to be on their guard with the forward line also capable of pushing up the ground and rotating through the midfield with any one of those five capable of playing as a key position player, while all have the possibility of giving a chop out in the ruck. Nicola Xenos is the sixth forward, who adds more speed at ground level and can also play out of defence or along the wing. Emma Horne, Jess Fitzgerald or Bella Eddey are all named on the bench, and the trio can add that smaller element to the forward mix, particularly Eddey who can play tall or small with plenty of X-factor.

2. Speed

Having already spoke about Vic Country’s advantage on the inside, Vic Metro’s advantage is on the outside, and particularly with speed. Most of the starting midfield has serious wheels, with Gemma Lagioia, Ellie McKenzie and Mimi Hill all capable to taking off on runs. Georgia Patrikios is the most agile player in the competition, so expect her to use her trademark sidestep to get around opponents, while Britney Gutknecht can also get herself out of trouble. While Country does have more hardness on the inside, McKenzie and Gutknecht will form the same bond they did in the Knights’ premiership side, looking to extract the ball out to their runners, or take the game on themselves. Fitzgerald is another who adds to the speed and is one of the best kicks in the side, while Marguerite Purcell also adds some outside run. Alana Barba was one of the most prolific tacklers in the NAB League Girls competition, so she will assists Gutknecht and McKenzie rotating off the bench, while Elisabeth Georgostathis will likely spend time through the midfield and rotate with Alice Burke off half-back. If the Vic Country midfield gets on top on the inside, do not be surprised to see Georgostathis and Burke thrown into the middle with Gutknecht or McKenzie to add some extra grunt. Molly Denahy Moloney will hope to counteract the leap of Caris, but does have her when it comes to around the ground, with Denahy Moloney one of the better athletes among the talls.

3. Intercept marking

We talked about the strength in the air in attack, but the embarrassment of riches down back in terms of the three tall defenders is a luxury that Vic Metro has. Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard are arguably the two best intercept markers – along with teammate Sarah Sansonetti and Country duo Brown and Chapman – and they will likely pick off anything that comes their way. They can all play as rebounding defenders or to shut down their opponent, with Sansonetti the top shutdown tall, while Hartwig is the top rebounding tall. The mix can be swapped around depending on how games play out at the championships, but to have the three – two of which are middle-age and will form the key defensive partnership next year – is something Metro coach Nathan Burke will love. With running machine Felicity Theodore and Alice Burke also back there, the Metro team have speed and defensive pressure that can run down forwards heading into goal. Laura McClelland is more often known for her ability in the forward half, but she can mark the ball and find space well, adding to the height in defence. As mentioned, Georgostathis is another player who might rotate through the defensive mix, while Barba is also known to drop back into defence at times, allowing for some versatility for the Metro coaching staff.