Tag: Chelsea Hargreaves

AFLW U18 Championship previews: Eastern Allies

IN the first of two previews ahead of the first round of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, we take a look at New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW-ACT) and Tasmania who clash tomorrow and Sunday in their two games which will help determine the final Eastern Allies squad. The Eastern Allies then fly to Queensland to take on the Central Allies, Vic Country and Vic Metro from July 8-12. Below we take a look at some of the key players to watch.

Hailee Baldwin (Tigers/Tasmania)

Baldwin has been named captain of Tasmania and is considered a leader on and off the field. Not a huge ball winner, averaging the 7.7 disposals at NAB League Girls level, Baldwin is a big tackler. She earned the title of Tasmanian captain despite being a middle-ager and not being eligible to be drafted until next year. At 169cm, Baldwin is a good size for a developing player and will be a key cog in Tasmania’s midfield.

Tahlia Bortignon (Clarence/Tasmania)

The talented athlete is still developing, but has been one to watch since being named for the Eastern Allies last year. For Clarence her pace and agility are areas that standout, and she represented Tasmania Devils in all three NAB League Girls games. With so few having experience at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Bortignon’s experience will be invaluable to her younger side.

Lillian Doyle (Grafton/NSW-ACT)

Of the NSW/ACT players who took to the field in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, the one we have most looked forward to seeing as a top-ager is the talented Doyle. She booted three goals in a best afield effort last year, two of which came in the last term to guarantee the side a victory on the opening day. She had to build up some consistency in her game, but her raw talent on that day and throughout the championships was evident and she looms as a dangerous forward for NSW/ACT and the Eastern Allies. One of four members of the AFL Women’s Academy.

Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/NSW-ACT)

A middle-age member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Evans was touted as one to watch as a bottom-ager given her ability to use either side of her body to dispose of the ball cleanly. Evans is likely to play as centre half-forward, providing a contest for the smaller forwards to rove to and create opportunities. While she is still a year away, she is another year more experienced and could be the X-factor inside 50 with Doyle who provides a spark.

Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

Another player who was touted by the Rams as one to watch for this corresponding series twelve months ago, has lived up to expectations with her performances in the NAB League Girls competition. She was able to have such an impact on the Bushrangers side that she could well have pushed for Vic Country selection as well had she been eligible. Favell never stopped running through the season and just had a massive work rate to get from defence to attack within a play, winning plenty of the ball and setting her teammates up. Expect her to rotate between the middle and on a wing, running in transition and burning off her opponents with either speed or endurance depending on the time in the game. Is a clutch player as well and one that could go forward and kick an important goal like she did against the Dandenong Stingrays late in the season.

Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles/NSW-ACT)

If Doyle was the one we were excited to see again, then Georgia Garnett was a close second with the hard-nosed and uncompromising midfielder with great athletic traits, being impressive last year. She has a wicked side-step and while it was noted she was not a huge accumulator last year, she rarely turned over the ball, with neat skills and great decision making. She also copped a knock on the final day and got straight back up. One of the key midfielders for the Eastern Allies this year, and another member of the AFL Women’s Academy.

Netty Garlo (Clarence/Tasmania)

Raw but talented is the best way of describing Garlo, who would no doubt have a very nice package of highlights with her closing speed and tackling pressure memorable from last year. Still a middle-ager, Garlo now stands at 170cm, and will still only be 16 by the time the championships roll around, having debuted last year as a 15-year-old trying to match it with some 18-year-olds. Garlo managed two games at NAB League Girls level for the Devils, and while she is still ironing out her consistency and game sense, there is no doubting her great combination of speed and hardness.

Chelsea Hargreaves (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

Hargreaves was a really reliable defender for the Murray Bushrangers, and someone who was composed under pressure and used the ball well coming out of the back 50. A quality addition to the NSW/ACT and Eastern Allies mix, Hargreaves plays a similar role to Eloise Ashley-Cooper who is now at Essendon VFLW after having impressed at the championships. While she only averaged the nine disposals this year, Hargreaves does not waste them, and had multiple rebounds in four of her seven games.

Zoe Hurrell (Sydney Uni Bombers/NSW-ACT)

Tasted what it is like playing at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships last year, booting a goal and was named among the best in the Eastern Allies’ win over Central Allies on the opening day. With another year under her belt and showing she is capable of kicking a goal, Hurrell will be keen to impress in the Series One this year and represent the Eastern Allies for a second consecutive year at the championships.

Jordyn Jolliffe (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)

Having played through the Rams program for years and was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy alongside Alyce Parker, Jolliffe has a point to prove at these championships, having missed out due to injury last year. Playing as a full-forward, Jolliffe is difficult to beat in the air and is an imposing figure in attack. She was a key player for Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League Girls competition, either slotting goals or allowing the ball to fall to crumbers from her marking contests. As an overager, Jolliffe will provide invaluable experience to the team, and combine with Evans up forward.

Mia King (Launceston/Tasmania)

The star player of Tasmania, and a good case for the Eastern Allies Most Valuable Player (MVP), along with a number of others on this list. King is the midfielder you cannot help but notice because of her ability to find the football and have an impact in all thirds of the ground. King made the All-Australian extended squad last year, the only Tasmanian to do so in a team that featured North Melbourne twins, Chloe and Libby Haines. Despite being 165cm, King plays taller than that and is able to crack in and win the contested ball in the air or at ground level, and then spread when required to win the ball on the outside and move it in transition. She averaged 19.7 disposals, 4.7 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s in the NAB League Girls competition for the Tasmanian Devils.

Alice Mitchell (Willoughby Mosman Swans/NSW-ACT)

Teammates at local level with Zoe Hurrell, Mitchell will again look to join her in the Eastern Allies side for the 2019 championships. At 180cm, Mitchell provides a tall target around the ground, and can play through the midfield as well as at either end. She not only has great strength, but good vision and presents constantly for her teammates. Will be a great addition as as utility to the team and slot in wherever she is needed, and have an impact.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

Was a standout in Tasmania’s double-up weekend against Western Jets and Eastern Rangers, averaging 12 touches and 6.5 rebounds coming out of defence. Her work in the back half was very impressive and eye-catching and remarkably, the talented 175cm defender has only just turned 16. It means she has another couple of years left in the system, but is good enough to be competing with players a couple of years older. One to watch over the coming years, and one of the better tall defenders coming through.

Hannah Stewart (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)

Stewart is one of the better stories when it comes to hard work and dedication, travelling three hours to head down from Hay to train at the Pioneers’ Swan Hill base, and that is not even including time taken to get to weekend matches. While still inconsistent, her best was very good as we saw against Gippsland Power in Bendigo’s big win up at Epson Huntly Reserve. She had 19 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and booted 1.2, one of the best on the ground with Brooke Hards and Elizabeth Snell. Her work between midfield and forward is where she does best, and while she only reached double-figure disposals on three occasions, she used the ball very well and is a very good runner with high endurance.

Camilla Taylor (Launceston/Tasmania)

Another key forward who could be used in attack after experiencing the national carnival last year, Taylor works hard to provide leads and a target inside 50, and not only provides opportunities for herself, but others as well. She has a long kick which was noted last year, and it was just a case of lowering the eyes at times, but she is a danger to opposition defenders, often forcing them to give away free kicks by trying to restrict her.

NAB League Girls Round 9 preview: Finals race remains open

THE final round of the NAB League Girls regular season is upon us, with sliding doors in the top four race still very much on the move. With all four of the current finals placeholders competing against teams below them, destiny will be in their own hands heading into the season’s climax.

GEELONG FALCONS v MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday May 11, 12:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval

Reigning premiers Geelong Falcons will be looking to break from the unfamiliar feeling of losing when they clash with Murray Bushrangers to open Round 9. The Falcons’ undefeated record extending back to Round 4 2017 was finally broken by the Northern Knights last week, but a top-two spot seems all but sealed nonetheless. Despite looking impressive, the Bushrangers sit eighth having only conjured three wins thus far, with a loss to Dandenong last time out putting the nail in their finals chances. Murray’s task of overcoming the formidable Geelong side will be made tougher with middle-age midfield ace Abby Favell and Chelsea Hargreaves unavailable due to NSW/ACT commitments. In the same vein, Poppy Schapp is among three Falcons changes after copping a heavy knock in the bruising encounter with Northern. The Falcons will be breathing fire after last week’s loss, and coach Jason Armistead is looking to confirm his best line-up heading into finals, making this a key game for his players. Geelong also still has a chance of snatching top spot back, so Murray will have its work cut out in this one.

WESTERN JETS v DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday May 11, 1:30pm
Williamstown Football Ground

The Western Jets can make it an unlikely three-straight wins when they host Dandenong Stingrays in windy Williamstown. After going 0-4, the Jets won in Round 5 and added to their tally twice more in recent weeks despite going down heavily to Geelong in between. Meanwhile, a disappointing loss to Oakleigh with a depleted squad in Round 7 all but ended the Stingrays’ season after going down to Bendigo the week before, but their 4-4 record is nothing to scoff at. Dandenong is set for at least six changes in their season-closer, while Cleo Saxon-Jones comes in alongside an extended bench for Western. With both sides looking to finish on a high and promise shown on either end at different stages, this should be a cracking contest.

GIPPSLAND POWER v CALDER CANNONS
Sunday May 12, 11:15am
Morwell Football Ground

Calder Cannons will be looking to cement its finals spot with a win over Gippsland Power in Sunday’s opening game. The Cannons can only realistically be jumped by Oakleigh should the Chargers win, but will count itself a good chance of making the top four a formality with their sixth win. While the visitors have lost twice in their last three tries, their star duo of Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis has proved the difference in multiple games and will help to put their side’s best foot forward here. On the other hand, Gippsland finally got on the board in Round 7 and remain on a sole victory, but will be keen to finish their season on a positive note. The incentive of throwing a spanner amidst the finals calculations would surely also loom large, and they have shown enough improvement to suggest they can add to the upsets of late. An interesting contest awaits.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday May 12, 11:15am
MARS Stadium

The Northern Knights have the chance to consolidate top spot when they travel to face Greater Western Victoria in Ballarat. An impressive victory last time out saw the Knights snap Geelong’s two-year unbeaten run, and they will be out to stamp their authority as the competition’s clear number one side here. Mia Papachristos is a handy inclusion for the visitors, who have made two changes on the back of last week’s effort, while the hosts are set to make at least two with an extended bench named. GWV have picked up two wins in an indifferent year, getting the better of Bendigo in Round 1 and severely denting Oakleigh’s finals hopes just last week after a disappointing loss to Gippsland. While the result looks a formality on paper, the Rebels will try their level best to cause an upset, and Northern know they will be up for the challenge having picked a full-strength side.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v EASTERN RANGES
Sunday May 12, 12:15pm
RSEA Park

Sandringham Dragons will look to cause one final upset when they clash with confirmed finals contenders, Eastern Ranges in Moorabbin. While the Ranges sealed their top four spot with a big win over Gippsland after scraping past Tasmania the week before, Sandringham has lost its last two games after a run of consecutive wins. The chance to spoil the Ranges final hit-out before finals looms for Sandringham, but it will be no mean feat against the might of Eastern. While either side is set to make at least a couple of changes each, their respective cores remain relatively untouched and should provide much of the excitement. The midfield battle between the likes of Eastern’s Tarni Brown and Tess Flintoff against Sandringham’s Alice Burke and Winnie Laing will be a competitive, while Dragons’s tall Sarah Hartwig will have her work cut out for her against Serena Gibbs and Laura McClelland. With a win possibly the difference between playing the Falcons or Knights, Eastern still have something to play for in this one.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday May 12, 3:30pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval

A competitive game is set to see out the 2019 regular season, as Oakleigh and Bendigo face off at Queen Elizabeth Oval. While previous results will be known to them, this could be the Chargers’ last chance to snatch a finals spot after a shock loss last week to second-bottom, GWV. The Pioneers looked a finals threat on the back of three-straight wins, before consecutive losses knocked them out of contention more recently. With the talent clearly there to compete with a side like Oakleigh, and the Chargers’ losses to GWV and Sandringham lingering, Bendigo is in with a huge chance on home turf. Their effort will be slightly hindered by the absence of Jordyn Jolliffe as part of six Bendigo chances, while Oakleigh will come in more settled. Either way, it should prove to be a tight encounter and finals ramifications would only add an extra layer to the contest.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 8

ROUND 8 saw some big clashes with the Northern Knights handing the Geelong Falcons their first loss in two years in the NAB League Girls. We took note of some of the top performers that respective Female Talent Managers highlighted at the start of the season as ones to watch. We attended five games live and noted the final game at the bottom. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Calder Cannons 4.6 (30) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 1.3 (9)
By: Taylah Melki

Calder 

#2 Felicity Theodore

She had a relatively quiet first half, not finding much of the footy but well and truly worked her way into the game in the second half. She kicked a good crumbing goal in the third after picking the ball up out the back of the pack and taking a couple of steps to dribble it through for a goal. Theodore also showcased her good vision and attacking mind set to push her side forward.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

She was involved early, getting hands to the ball at the stoppages and showing good spatial awareness to dish the ball out to teammates. She had good strong hands to take a solid grab in the first quarter and showcased her ability to read the play. Patrikios consistently attacked the ball hard, sets up play for her teammates and had really good hands. She showed great control of the ball while on the run and kicked a good crumbing goal in the third quarter to stay down and cleanly pick the ball up and then turn and kick. She used her long booming kick to propel the ball into the forward 50 and knew where to position the ball to her teammates advantage. She was clean around the stoppages working hard to extract the footy and ran hard both ways making her presence felt across the field.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

After a quiet start Petrevski came alive in the second half. She had a good passage of play receiving a handball and steaming forward to kick to a teammate in the third term and used her booming kick to move the ball forward on multiple occasions. Her hands in close were also impressive and applied strong pressure across the ground. She was creative with ball in hand and worked hard to move the ball into an attacking position throughout the game.

#41 Georgie Prespakis 

Prespakis continued her dominant form and seemed to have plenty of time and space with ball in hand. Her ability to sidestep her opponents and then dish it off to a teammate was second to none and she consistently pushed hard to create attacking options. She showed good courage to go back with the flight of the ball while second efforts were impressive working hard to try and win the ball back for her side. Prespakis never seemed far from the footy winning plenty of it both at the coalface and across the ground for the Cannons. She read the tap out of the ruck exceptionally well, used her beautiful long booming kick to her sides advantage and provided repeat entries into forward 50. Won a heap of the ball in the third and had an impressive passage of play with a tunnel ball handball while getting tackled out to a teammate in space.

Bendigo 

#1 Maeve Tupper

Tried hard throughout the game to impact the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball to take a big intercept mark in the middle of the ground and propel her team forward, good smother in the second quarter showcasing her ability to track the ball and apply strong defensive pressure on the ball carrier.

#3 Elizabeth Snell

Good clean grab of the footy and pushed hard to move the ball forward. She showed some good evasive skills to break free at the contest and go forward. Snell displayed good vision to hit up teammates in space and identify passages of play. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and go for a big mark against her taller opponent and tried hard throughout game to keep her side in it. She also used her body well around the stoppages to try and out manoeuvre her opponent and get free. 

#4 Brooke Hards 

Made an impact from the get go, tackling hard and was ferocious at the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball and took an intercept mark showcasing her strength. Hards had clean hands at ground level to crumb and then pass it off and tracked the ball well at ground level. She was strong in the contest not afraid to put her body on the line and take a bump. She kept her arms free and dished off a clever handball to a teammate in a better position in the second term credit to her spatial awareness and general footy smarts. Hards also laid some good strong tackles throughout the game.

#19 Jemma Finning

Good lead up at the footy, and well weighted kick to an opponent on the lead in the forward 50 in the first quarter. Her second efforts were good, worked hard to win the ball and had good support run to provide an option for her teammates. She got busy in the second quarter around the contest and was strong to push off an opponent and maintain possession. Finning used her booming kick to propel the ball forward and keep the ball moving in attack. 

Dandenong Stingrays 6.4 (40) defeated Murray Bushrangers 3.9 (27)
By: Peter Williams

Dandenong:

#10 Abbey Jordan

Played on a wing and had some nice plays throughout the game, putting pressure on defenders at half-forward and also getting back to assist at half-back. On a number of occasions, she was able to nullify contests through a quick kick before being tackled or bumped, or was able to impact opposition players while in possession, forcing mistakes.

#12 Molly McDonald

The captain played on the ball and provided good strength at ground level. She continually put her body on the line and while a lot of the good work she did would not find its way onto a stats sheet, her defensive pressure and one percenters were very impressive. She is a team-orientated player and showed good vision on the inside to find teammates free on the outside.

#26 Isabella Shannon

Kicked an important goal in the third term when they needed it, and roamed around the forward half, playing midfield and inside 50. She exited stoppages well, moving around opposition players and was able to get boot to ball while being brought down in tackles. After kicking the goal, Shannon won the next clearance from the midfield and put it inside 50 to a teammates’ advantage.

#28 Tyanna Smith

Smith stood up when it counted late, turning it on with a great running clearance late in the final term, then booted the winning goal coming out of a forward stoppage on the run, negotiating the breeze perfectly. Still had moments of strength and grace throughout the game, but it was the last quarter which stood out.

#31 Brooke Vernon

Played her reliable game in defence, tasked with the kick-outs and pushing up the ground when required. She was able to have a number of forward 50 entries when going inside, and also ran hard to lay a good tackle on the last line of defence in the third term to force a throw-in and save a potential goal.

#51 Zoe Hill

Often rebounded and pushed up the ground to provide an extra number at a contest at half-back. Hill won a number of free kicks for her fierce tackling and was composed under pressure in the back half.

Murray:

#6 Chelsea Hargreaves

The NSW/ACT representative played in defence and was able to move the ball quickly in transition. She showed a nice few quick steps before clearing the ball long and was able to get through a couple of players backing herself in, late in the game but her handball was intercepted. It was still promising to see her take the game on, which she tried to do with another strong run and kick out of defence going long down the field.

#7 Kate Adams

Played a pressure role through the midfield and forward end, just doing team things but chasing opponents and forcing them to dispose of the ball quicker than they would have liked. She took a nice steady mark under pressure at half-back at one stage, and in another instance was able to win the ball at ground level, handball it off and then apply a shepherd for a teammate to run with it.

#8 Abby Favell

Had the ball on a string throughout the game, particularly in the first quarter. Just ran and ran all day long. Not only was her accumulation on point, but her defensive pressure was superb as well. She laid a great goal-saving tackle in the first term and while some of her kicks were intercepted, she followed up with strong second efforts and just kept running, bringing her teammates into the game through handballs. She forced a number of turnovers through her tackling, and also showed off a clean set of heels by sidestepping an opponent at half-back and taking off. Kicked a late goal in the final term after sneaking 20m out from goal, wasting no time slotting the set shot and bring the Bushrangers back within six points. Best afield despite being in a losing side.

#19 Millie Brown

Another standout player for the Bushrangers, what impressed me most about Brown’s game was her last term. While the defence was under siege she was able to maintain her composure and just keep it going forward. She intercepted a number of kicks inside defensive 50 and worked hard throughout the match to keep her team in the game. She would often bring a teammate into the play with one-two handballs, but her interceptions on the wing and long bombs inside 50 were among the crucial plays that kept the game alive for the visitors.

#45 Olivia Barber

Barber is a raw talent that once she can convert her opportunities into goals, it will make her an incredibly damaging. The tall forward works hard for her leads and creates space well, and can also clunk a lot of marks. She just missed some gettable shots, which is something that can be easily fixed, just adjusting the kicking style. Continues to impress and is one to watch as she develops, and more so her field kicking is also sound, so just ironing it out in front of goal.

Western Jets 3.3 (21) defeated Sandringham Dragons 1.3 (9)
By: Peter Williams

Western:

#13 Isabella Grant

Returning to the side, Grant rotated between forward and midfield, having a good battle with Sarah Hartwig early. Both players impressed with Grant winning the battle with her smarts at ground level, while Hartwig impressed with her ability in the air. Grant used her body well around the ground to knock opponents off the ball and give off quick handballs to teammates running by. In one instance in the second term she bumped an opponent away, picked up the ball, spun around and kicked long down the wing. In the third term she had a couple of shots on goal with one fading to the right and the next going to the opposite pocket out on the full. Overall had her moments through the midfield in transition.

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

The captain played her usual consistent game coming out of half-back, winning the ball at ground level and looking to run down the middle to get her team forward. She cracked in hard throughout four quarters and showed strength in tackles by getting her hands free. Led the team well and stepped up late in the game to nullify a few contests.

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

A standout for the Jets throughout the game, intercepting inside 50s at will, positioning herself well in marking contests and kicking long to midfield. She laid a goal-saving tackle at one stage close to the boundary line, earning herself a free. Pritchard won a number of free kicks as well for chopping of the arms or holding because of her dominance in defence. She weighed up between pushing up and dropping back, taking a couple of crucial marks late in the game to settle the team.

Sandringham:

#25 Sarah Hartwig

The clear best for Sandringham on the day, Hartwig was ultra-impressive at centre half-back spending time on Isabella Grant and then other opponents while focusing maintaining her line. She copped a knock in the first term on the wing but got up and became one of the Dragons most influential players, winning a number of one-on-one contests by reading the ball in flight well. Such was her impact when she was taken off for a rest last in the third term, Western booted a goal. Had plenty of marks and rebounds as well as one percenters.

#28 Alice Burke

Hunted the football and while she did not win as much of it as she has before, she just kept getting her hands in at ground level and feeding the ball out to teammates. Won a free kick late in the game for being bumped high and kept cracking in with either tackles or hardball gets on the inside of the contest.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Roamed along the wing and was another player who copped a hard bump early in the fourth term, but returned to play on. She moved well out of stoppages and was able to kick long down the middle, buzzing around the midfield and providing an option for her teammates to run and carry the ball forward.

Greater Western Victoria 3.2 (20) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 2.7 (19)
By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#9 Renee Saulitis

Played a different role to her usual smart forward role many have become accustomed to, but still was able to use her smarts and foot skills to advantage. If anything, she was able to have a greater impact on the contest because of her footy IQ and ability to dish off the ball quickly under pressure. She uses the ball well and one of her best moments was actually a defensive one – laying a run-down tackle on Mimi Hill on the wing, earning a free kick.

#10 Ella Wood

Spent time off half-back and pushing up through the midfield, Wood was strong throughout the four quarters with her defensive work and hard running. She forced a number of turnovers and pushed up to win the ball and bring teammates into the game, working well with a one-two handball combination with a teammate on the wing in the second term as an example of where she was able to get the ball moving forward. Was involved in the final goal with good strength at the stoppage.

#24 Sophie Molan

Never plays a bad game and Molan just kept consistent throughout the four quarters, booting the opening goal of the game and winning the footy at will. She missed a snap on goal initially but made up for it with a goal on the run, and then spread around the ground providing good strength at ground level or in the air. Molan executed the perfect handball out of the stoppage to Lilli Condon for the winning goal in the final term.

#30 Nyakoat Dojiok

One of the Rebels best, providing run and carry across the ground from half-back to the wing. She primarily was stationed on the wing and was often used in transition. On some occasions she might have done a bit too much, but she was still able to get the ball free even when under pressure. Most promising sign was the fact she continually tried to break the lines and create something for the Rebels and her burst of speed worried the opposition. Also has quick hands and was able to dispose of the ball quickly when being tackled.

#35 Maggie Caris

Provided her midfielders with first hands more often than not continuing her good season. What separates Caris from many other rucks is her cleanliness at ground level, and her ability to control the ball once in her hands. She is a one-touch player and has a long kick that can hit targets.

Oakleigh:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

The silky midfielder showed off her slick skills primarily off half-back, winning the ball and then executing 45-degree kicks opening up angles and avenues for her team to go forward. While the game was scrappy at times, Lagioia was able to add a touch of class with her foot skills and hit-up targets repetitively and keep the ball moving. She was also not afraid to take the opposition on, sidestepping an opponent and kicking long to the wing in the second term.

#2 Mimi Hill

Worked hard for four quarters and was influential early pushing up the ground and getting some important inside 50s for her teammates. Provided an option in the back half of the ground, combining with Lagioia at one stage, getting the ball forward. Hill had a flying shot on goal in the second term but just missed to the right while on a tight angle.

#8 Alana Porter

One of Oakleigh’s best throughout and just missed out on finishing off in front of goal. Kicked a major from a set shot, but missed a couple of opportunities to add to her tally in the third term. Not only did Porter use her trademark burst of speed to good effect, but she also applied plenty of defensive pressure, laying some big tackles and bumps on opponents to force turnovers. When tackled herself, Porter stood up in tackles and was able to get her hands free.

Geelong Falcons 0.7 (7) defeated by Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Elise Vella

It was not Vella’s most productive day as the Falcons struggled for goals, but the diminutive forward took on her usual role of creating pressure around the contest and looked dangerous forward of centre. Had a nice passage where she took her opponent on and carried the ball through the middle of the ground, and also spent some time in the midfield during the second half.

#8 Paige Sheppard

Was in the thick of everything early, proving Geelong’s most productive player at stoppages and in the game overall. Sheppard accumulated a good amount of ball and tried her best to push the Falcons forward, but often saw her kicks smothered or compensated for distance given the wealth of contested situations she found herself in. Was particularly impressed with her combativeness, and Sheppard looked unfazed in physical battles against much taller midfield opponents.

#12 Laura Gardiner

The middle-ager was outstanding in one of her better performances for the year, and was one of the few Falcons midfielders to show composure in heavy traffic. Often a damaging driver forward on the outside, Gardiner won a fair amount of the ball at stoppages around the ground and looked to weave her way out of trouble instead of blazing away. While that inevitably happened at times anyway, Gardiner has plenty of time to refine her already strong skill base.

#18 Darcy Moloney

Moloney was one who seemed to struggle at times amidst the Knights’ pressure around the ball, but dug in hard as she typically does. Could have had a better return had she not missed a tough snapped chance, with some of her second half minutes spent inside the forward 50. Was often swamped when in possession, but showed good strength in tackles trying to break away.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman stood up in an under-siege defence, providing a cool head and cutting off as many Northern forward forays as she could. Showed her high-level reading of the play with a couple of nice intercept marks, and backed them up with neat kicks and sharp decision making. While the ball often came right back, Chapman was hardly beaten one-on-one despite Northern finding most of their goals from marks at close range.

#24 Mia Skinner

Often the leader of Geelong’s attack, Skinner was quelled well by Northern defender Sarah Sansonetti. Playing as a lead-up centre half-forward, Skinner’s effort could not be faulted as she worked her opponent over with runs up to the wing and then hard back towards goal. Missed a couple of difficult chances in the first half which would have really boosted Geelong’s chances of staying in the game, but is usually a clinical finisher.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

McEvoy was central to coach Jason Armistead’s heavy shuffling of the magnets – starting off half-back, moving into the midfield as the Knights got on top, and then being thrown forward at the start of the last term as Geelong looked to find her with the first clearance for a quick goal. Used her long and penetrating kick to good effect from defence to rebound, and played the role of a general well. Her overhead marking was also outstanding, and probably would have stood out more if it was not so expected of her. Most of them came as McEvoy positioned herself a kick off the ball when it was inside the Falcon’s forward arc, with her attempt against two Knights opponents in the second term the best of the lot. Continues to show she can play anywhere, and is a true leader in that sense as she can sacrifice her own game for the benefit of the team.

#39 Renee Tierney

Had some really impressive moments across the match, but was ultimately unable to find the goal as she often does. Her best chance was a stray snap, but a lot of her possessions were found up the ground as she looked to work with Skinner as a link forward. Tierney’s clean hands both overhead on leads and below her knees at speed were fantastic, and allowed the Falcons to create chances to move forward quickly with much of the game played in dispute. Showed good defensive intentions with a crunching tackle on Northern’s Gulia Ceravolo in the final term which unfortunately ended the match.

Northern:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Morris-Dalton was a force inside 50, playing one of her better games for the year. The key forward booted the first goal of the game after a one-on-one mark, setting the tone for a game where she intelligently found space inside 50 and worked hard to do so. A couple of impressive loose ball gets allowed Morris-Dalton to find Alyssa Bannan inside 50 just as impressively, and she picked out targets well to give Northern good looks at goal.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was another Knight who proved dangerous in the forward half, and benefitted from the smart work of Morris-Dalton to combine for Northern’s second goal in the first term. Bannan was persistent around the contests early on and tackled hard, but proved most damaging when the ball was delivered to her over the back as she streamed forward and delivered inside 50. Could have added another goal in the third term but missed on the run in an otherwise impressive performance.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Like Bannan, Fitzgerald was fantastic going forward with lightning runs to set the Knights into attack. Seemed to be doing everything right early on with a neat kick and an overhead mark on the forward 50 arc both catching the eye. Fitzgerald continued her form in the second term with a clever passage to combine with Britney Gutknecht, and pressed to find the goals with multiple snaps from deep in the pocket either falling short or missing to the narrow side. She managed to find the big sticks in the third quarter with a set shot conversion, and her best moment came with a weaving break through three opponents through the middle of the ground to cap off a promising display.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Fulfilled one of the most important roles for the Knights, wearing Mia Skinner like a glove in a fantastic defensive effort. While her kicking at times was a little off, Sansonetti was hardly beaten one-on-one and looked a force in the air as she chimed in with spoils and contested marking attempts. In one of the best plays of the game, she laid a crunching bump on Paige Sheppard to force a spillage and followed up by winning the ball to the applause of her coaches on the bench.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Named the Knights’ best on the day, and it is hardly any wonder why. McKenzie was a step above with her decision making and ability to remain composed on the ball, finding targets by hand and foot with ease. While constantly looking to wheel onto her left side could have sold her into trouble, McKenzie was good enough to bide her time and escape being caught. Playing through the midfield, perhaps the most pleasing part of McKenzie’s game was her physicality – as she laid a huge bump off the back of her own kick forward, as well as another on Poppy Schapp which unfortunately saw the diminutive Falcon forced off through injury. Scary to think McKeznie has another year left in the system, and showed she can dominate in the middle just as much as she does up forward.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Employed in the midfield for much of the game, Gutknecht looked like having a big one after winning a running clearance at the very first centre bounce. While her output was slightly down across the day, Gutknecht had some good moments and managed to find the ball around the ground. She often looked to take the game on, but sometimes came unstuck in the back half when playing on after marks – which could be a product of her natural forward tendencies. Almost took a courageous mark late on, with the impressive effort catching the eye as the result was beyond doubt.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton was productive as ever through the midfield, providing a point of difference in the frantic opening stages with calm use at the stoppages and impressive moves through traffic. Newton often handed the ball out effectively to her outside runners, and while she overdid it at times, was great to watch as others blazed away by foot. Much like McEvoy did for the Falcons, Newton positioned herself a kick off the play while the ball was disputed inside either 50 arc, taking a couple of high marks as she so often does. Newton’s understanding of the game was on full show in such positions, and she played a huge part in not allowing Geelong clean inside 50 entries.

In the other game over the weekend…

Gippsland Power 2.1 (13) defeated by Eastern Ranges 9.10 (64)

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams – Named in the best laying five tackles from eight disposals and continued her strong defensive pressure.
#9 Maddison Shaw – Again busy through the midfield and getting back in defence with 13 disposals, two rebounds and six tackles.
#12 Megan Fitzsimon – Named best by the Power for her 16 disposals, six tackles and four rebounds.
#26 Grace McRae – Had 17 disposals, two tackles and three rebounds in a hard working effort.

Eastern:

#26 Tarni Brown – Classy with 24 touches, eight tackles and seven inside 50s, pumping the ball long and setting up her teammates while finishing with a goal.
#33 Tess Flintoff – Returned and was impressive again with 21 touches, seven marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.
#39 Laura McClelland – Named among the best again with 12 disposals, two marks and five tackles in the win.
#46 Serena Gibbs – Had seven shots on goal, booting 3.4 from 18 disposals, six marks and six inside 50s, while also having five hitouts in the ruck in another impressive performance.

Weekend Wash-up: NAB League Girls – Round 3

ROUND 3 of the NAB League Girls saw Geelong Falcons and Calder Cannons remain undefeated proving their dominance of the competition. While the likes of the Western Jets, Sandringham Dragons and Gippsland Power are yet to register a win this season after a tricky start. The Murray Bushrangers made it two wins in a row, with Northern Knights making their way back onto the winner’s list after a draw in Round 2.  

GWV REBELS 0.1 | 0.2 | 2.2 | 2.3 (15)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 0.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 8.4 (52)

By: Cameron Ross

GOALS:

GWV: S. Molan 2.
Dandenong: M. McDonald 2, L. Grocock 2, I. Shannon 2, J. Radford, T. Smith.

BEST:

GWV: I. Rustman, C. Leonard, S. Molan, E. Wood, G. Pidgeon, V. Jewell.
Dandenong: B. Vernon, Z. Hill, T. Smith, G. Howes, I. Shannon, A. Liddle.

The Dandenong Stingrays won their second game of the season against the GWV Rebels at MARS Stadium in Ballarat. The windy conditions made things difficult for both sides as they had trouble adjusting early. There was a cross breeze early in the game that slightly favoured the Wendouree end, yet the breeze became more prominent as the game went on. The Rebels could not take advantage of this early breeze and despite having more of the ball, were not able to register a goal in the first term. The Stingrays defence held up well with the key defender Zoe Hill, making things difficult for the Rebels.

The Stingrays took advantage of the wind in the second quarter, and the Rebels really struggled to get any penetration on their kicks. Rebels captain, Sophie Molan, attempted to lead the way and prove to her teammates what was required when kicking into the wind, but the Stingrays were simply too good. Tyanna Smith had a great quarter, finding space around the ground, and producing an amazing highlight. Smith cleanly scooped up the ball on the wing, took a bounce and kicked the ball long into the Stingray forward line. Unfortunately for Isabella Simmons, the Stingray’s third goal for the quarter came from her running the ball out of the square the wrong way and kicking it long into the Stingrays forward line. The goal was duly converted. This was even more unfortunate, as Simmons would have been one of the leading possession winners on the ground at the time, and also one of the Rebels best.

The third quarter was exciting, and the Rebels announced that they were not going to be pushed over. After Stingrays ruck Georgia Howes left early in the quarter, the Rebels were dominant at stoppages. Molan again led the way, going forward and kicking two goals in six minutes, and there was a sense at the ground, that the tide was changing. Ella Wood also started to get her hands on the footy a lot more, having an important 5 minutes when the Stringrays resistance began. It was not enough for the Rebels. Isabella Shannon kicked a goal against the run of play, but the dagger blow game when the Stingrays kicked another, after a brutal 50 metre penalty that brought them within point blank range and only 30 seconds in the quarter remaining. This meant that Stingrays increased their buffer back to 3 goals, and severely impacted the Rebels comeback.

Chloe Leonard started the final quarter well for the Rebels, winning back to back clearances and attempting desperately to bring the margin back within reason. Yet the Stingrays finally put the game away after the seven minute mark of the final term, after Molly McDonald goaled with a volley from the goal square. There would be some concerns for the Rebels with Wood going off late with a shoulder injury, but the game was much closer than the score line suggested.

Molan was impressed with the young Rebels’ sides fight.

“Our effort was much better this week. I thought we showed a lot of intensity at the ball, and when we used it well, we were really hard to stop,” she said. “It was just those couple of slight brain fades at the end of the quarters which made it really hard to get back into the match.” Molan also did not want to blame the wind for the sides struggles in the second and final quarters stating, “we haven’t played a game where it hasn’t been windy yet, and we’re used to it because of the lack of protection at this ground. It does make a difference, but we train here and we play here, we need to get used to it!”

Stingray Isabella Shannon was the best player on the field, and an absolute moral for votes in the league count, but Molly McDonald and Tyanna Smith were also solid contributors for the Stingrays. For the home side, the captain Sophie Molan led from the front, but Ella Wood and Chloe Leonard were also terrific.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 (9)
CALDER CANNONS 0.2 | 0.2 | 1.7 | 4.8 (32)

By Peter Williams

GOALS:

Sandringham: E. Stuber.
Calder: G. Elarmaly, H. Cooke, N. Crowley, A. Magri.

BEST:

Sandringham: A. Burke, W. Laing, S. Hartwig, C. Saultry, E. McNamara, S. Trim.
Calder: K. Petrevski, Z. Friswell, G. Prespakis, H. Cooke, Z. Hardiman, G. Elarmaly.

 

Calder Cannons won their third consecutive match with a terrific last term to overrun a determined Sandringham Dragons outfit, handing the Dragons their third consecutive loss to start the 2019 season. Both teams were evenly matched throughout the game, and it took until the final term for the undefeated Cannons to finally shake off their opponents in challenging conditions at Trevor Barker Oval. Emma Stuber booted the first goal of the game for the Dragons to get them off to the perfect start, and due to weather conditions, the home side added the only score – one behind – in the second term to head into half-time with a five-point advantage. Calder dominated the third term, peppering the goals but could not find a major until Alisa Magri finally put through a goal after a great kick from Georgie Prespakis. They led by five points at the final break, but ran out the last quarter stronger, as Haylea Cooke booted the first less than two minutes into the quarter, then a couple of late ones to Gloria Elarmaly and Neve Crowley sealed the deal in a 4.8 (32) to 1.3 (9) victory. Krstel Petrevski was impressive throughout, particularly early as she collected 16 disposals, laid three tackles and had four inside 50s, while Prespakis had 23 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and eight tackles, while missing a couple of chances on goal. For the Dragons, Alice Burke was enormous laying 10 tackles from 16 disposals and six marks, laying some crucials smothers as well. Sarah Hartwig was impressive in defence with 13 disposals, three marks, five tackles and six rebounds, while Winnie Laing and Eliza McNamara had 11 touches each on the inside.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 4.4 | 4.4 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Northern: A. Bannan 2, T. Pulcino, M. Ramsay, B. Gutknecht.
Western: N. Wright.

BEST:

Northern: G. Newton, B. Gutknecht, J. Fitzgerald, S. Sansonetti, E. McKenzie, A. Bennett
Western: R. Tripodi, E. Georgostathis, T. Kolevski, E. Quinn, C. Sargent, J. Woods

The Northern Knights stamped their authority on the competition with a 25-point victory over the Western Jets at RAMS Arena. After a relatively close start, Northern put on the after burners to push the lead out and did not look back keeping the Jets goalless in the second half. The Knights looked like a polished outfit with the likes of Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie and Britney Gutknecht starring in the middle and contributing to the scoreboard. The three were clean with ball in hand and worked tirelessly across the ground to win the footy in the contest. For the Western Jets, Elisabeth Georgostathis once again dominated going in hard at the stoppages and using her speed to try and break away from the packs but it was not enough to stop the Knights who were on top across the field. Ruby Tripodi was a tackling machine and got hands to plenty of ball throughout the game and combined well with Western teammate, Taylah Kolevski.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.4 | 0.11 | 1.11 | 4.12 (36)
GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Murray: O. Barber 2, L. Sharp, T. Verhoeven.
Gippsland: G. McRae.

BEST:

Murray: O. Barber, T. Brett, A. Favell, C. Hargreaves, M. Quade, Z. Spencer.
Gippsland: M. Van Berkel, M. Fitzsimon, G. McRae, C. Abrahams, M. Shaw.

Murray Bushrangers made it two wins on the trot with a hard-fought victory over the winless Gippsland Power at RAMS Arena. Following a disappointing Round 1 defeat to Northern Knights, the Bushrangers have strung two impressive wins together, with the latest being a 4.12 (36) to 1.3 (9) win against the Power yesterday. Neither side could find the big sticks in the first half, with the Bushrangers holding the Power scoreless to half-time, while booting 11 behinds themselves. Olivia Barber looked impressive early, but missed a couple of close chances, before being rewarded in the second half with a couple of majors. The Bushrangers booted the last four goals of the game after Grace McRae became the first goalkicker with a major in the tenth minute. It put the Power within three points, before Barber gave the Bushrangers deserved breathing space at the final break by eight points. They managed to finally get reward for effort in the last quarter with Barber, Lily Sharp and Tali Verhoeven all slotting goals to secure the 27-point victory. Barber was the best on ground with her work inside 50, but the defensive work of Matilda Van BerkelMegan Fitzsimon and Maddison Shaw was critical in the Power staying in the contest. Abby Favell and Grace McRae were prominent in midfield for their respective sides, while Teagan Brett put out another consistent performance as well. Chelsea Hargreaves was impressive up the Bushrangers’ defensive end, while Chandra Abrahams laid a number of strong tackles and defensive efforts.

 

EASTERN RANGES 0.2 | 2.3 | 2.5 | 4.7 (31)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Eastern: T. Flintoff, R. Hall, L. Hilton, L. McClelland.
Oakleigh: E. Harley, A. Peck, J. D”Amato.

BEST:

Eastern: E. Horne, R. Hall, T. Flintoff, O. Meagher, T. Brown, S. Zappia
Oakleigh: C. Rowbottom, G. Lagioia, G. Larkey, E. Jackson, A. Micallef, M. Bertuna

After a slow start to the game the Eastern Ranges claimed their second win of the season against the Oakleigh Chargers. The Ranges kept the Chargers scoreless in the second half of the match piling on two goals themselves. Emma Horne proved to be a key player for the Ranges while teammate Laura McClelland slotted a major. Tarni Brown was instrumental across the field while Riley Hall was solid for the Ranges who went home six point winners. Tess Flintoff was also amongst the best for Eastern chipping in with one major and getting her hands to plenty of ball throughout the game. For the Chargers, the likes of Charlie Rowbottom and Gemma Lagioia were impressive with Rowbottom racking up the touches. Emily Harley and Jasmine D’Amato combined to score two goals between them and keep the Chargers in the game.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 9.5 (59)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.4 (10)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS: 

Geelong:M. Skinner 4, E. Vella, I. Long, R. Tierney, L. Ryan, A. Chapman 
Bendigo: M. Ward

BEST:

Geelong: L. Gardiner, P. Sheppard, L. Lesosky-Hay, M. Skinner, K. Haustorfer, P. Schapp
Bendigo: B. Hards, K. Douglass, E. Snell, M. Tupper, J. Jolliffe, D. Villiva

The Geelong Falcons kept their perfect NAB League record in tact with another dominant display on Sunday, accounting for Bendigo Pioneers by 49 points. 

With their wings unclipped atop the table, the Falcons looked sturdy across every line throughout the game and put the result beyond much doubt early on. Mia Skinner was at the centre of each Geelong attack, booting three first-half goals and ending with a bag of four to have seven in the last two games. Her forward partners, Renee Tierney and Elise Vella, were also dangerous but Skinner prevailed as the sole Falcons multiple goal kicker. Typically stingy in defence, the Falcons kept their opponents goalless across three quarters for the second week running, but Mia Ward broke through for the Pioneers in a fighting final term to slot through her side’s only major. Skipper Lucy McEvoy was thrown back in the final term as Abbey Chapman went forward and fetched a goal, but was worn tightly all day by Bendigo’s Brooke Hards. While the Pioneers were valiant, the ladder leaders were simply too strong and flex their muscle to run out comfortable winners.

Team of the Week: NAB League Girls – Round 2

GEELONG Falcons’ dominant performance in Round 2 of the NAB League Girls competition has earned them the most nominations for Draft Central’s Team of the Week in an even round across the board. While the Falcons had four players in the team, Calder Cannons were not far behind with three. Of the remaining 10 teams, seven had two nominees, while Eastern Ranges, Gippsland Power and Western Jets had the one player make the side after Round 2 losses.

The reigning premiers were impressive in the forward half, and both Darcy Moloney and Renee Tierney fit into the forward 50, while Paige Sheppard slots onto a wing and Lucy McEvoy has been named on the ball. For Calder, Georgia Patrikios returned to the side and has been named on the other wing, while Georgie Prespakis booted a record seven goals up forward, and Felicity Theodore was energetic throughout the second half. Speaking of record goal hauls, one of only three other players to hold the seven-goal game record is Northern Knights’ Britney Gutknecht who is in the opposite pocket, while Ellie McKenzie’s two goals – including the all-important match winner – saw her fit into the side.

Emily Harley returns to the side for Round 2, joining Tierney in the key position spot inside 50, also in the side with Chargers’ captain Mimi Hill who was impressive on the weekend. Bendigo Pioneers had their first win and Tara Slender had an equal round-high seven rebounds to lock into the key defensive spot, along with Eloise Gretgrix who made the team once again, in a back pocket considering her influence in the defensive half of the ground. Also in defence despite mostly playing as a midfielder is Elisabeth Georgostathis, purely for the fact she had the equal round-high seven rebounds showing her work rate back into defence. In the other small defender position is Chelsea Hargreaves, who with centre Abby Favell became the first Murray players in Team of the Week for the season after impressive performances.

Dandenong’s Zoe Hill again fills out full-back, this time joined in the team by bottom-age midfielder Tyanna Smith who was one of the Stingrays’ best in their win over Sandringham. The Dragons also had two players in the side, with Marguerite Purcell and Alice Burke both on the interchange after solid games through the midfield. The other side with two players in the team is the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, as Sophie Molan worked tirelessly through the middle, and Maggie Caris was dominant in the ruck. The two remaining players in the side are their respective team’s representatives in Tess Flintoff (Eastern Ranges) and Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power).

Season reviews: TAC Cup Girls – Murray Bushrangers

AFTER a positive start to their TAC Cup Girls campaign, the Murray Bushrangers fell away late, losing their last five games of the season. They came out firing, claiming some big wins against the Pioneers and Cannons but struggled to keep that momentum going for the rest of the season.

Position: 7th
Win-loss: 3-5-1
Percentage: 101.72%

Results:

R1: defeated Calder Cannons by 46 points
R2: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 40 points
R3: drew with Gippsland Power
R4: defeated Western Jets by 25 points
R5: lost to Geelong Falcons by 9 points
R6: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 15 points
R7: lost to Greater Western Victoria Rebels by 6 points
R8: lost to Eastern Rangers by 46 points
R9: lost to Northern Knights by 30 points

Key players:

Rebecca Webster: Webster was a key player for the Bushrangers, providing good leadership and demonstrating her silky skills. The AFLW Academy player was a real standout with her ability to create space and shrug tackles. She was not afraid to go in hard and win the footy and was influential around the stoppages. Webster provided good run and carry across the ground and was a real play maker, creating plenty of thrusts forward to help create scoring opportunities for her teammates. She also worked hard down back providing good run out of defence and applying plenty of physical pressure through laying strong tackles on her opponents. Due to her skill and footy smarts, Webster was named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year after receiving four nominations throughout the season for the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week. The talented midfielder continued to impress with her clean hands in congestion and ability to hit players on the lead.

Eloise Ashley-Cooper: Ashley-Cooper was a real workhorse down in defence for Murray with her ability to take impressive intercept marks and impose herself on the contest. She tackled hard throughout the season and was a real general down back, controlling the flow down in defence. Her slick hands were invaluable for the Bushrangers as she helped to get them out of trouble in defence and wasn’t afraid to take on the opposition. Ashley-Cooper’s run and carry was also a great asset for the Bushrangers as she helped to open up the play for her teammates. Her impressive footy smarts won her two nominations in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week and just narrowly missed the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year, instead named in the second team for hard work and class down back.

Olivia Barber: Barber was Murray’s leading goal kicker for the season, slotting seven goals. She was a key player for the Bushrangers with her ability to lead up at the footy and create good forward pressure by laying strong tackles and trapping the ball inside 50. The youngster has been a real revelation, displaying her footy smarts and composure under pressure, and booted two goals for Vic Country in the Under 16s win over NSW/ACT on the weekend.

Tamara Smith: She was a clear standout throughout the season, showcasing her ability to hit the packs hard and use her skills to extract the footy out of stoppages. Smith was creative with ball in hand and more importantly showed great composure when under pressure. The talented midfielder competed hard throughout the season and starred with her dash across the ground. Her ability to create forward bursts was important for the Bushrangers as her kicks into the 50 and tackling pressure added even more forward momentum for her side.  Smith was included in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year after being named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week three times, credit to her classy use of the footy.

Grace Egan: Egan was another star down back for Murray, showcasing her marking talent and hunger to win the footy. She never backed away from a contest and used her quick hands to work the ball out of defence and move the footy forward. Egan imposed herself on the contest, laying strong bone-crunching tackles and being a real workhorse. Throughout the season, she displayed her running power with her ability to rebound off the defensive 50 and create play up ahead for her teammates. Credit to her good year she was named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week three times.

Julia Harvey: The small midfielder/forward always caused headaches for opposition sides, buzzing around the field and winning plenty of the football when at the coal face. She would go forward and hurt opponents on the scoreboard, having good goal sense, and a knack for getting into the right positions to score. One of a number of players who was named in the Vic Country squad, she will look to provide good speed and a hard edge to the team up forward. Booted six goals in the 2018 TAC Cup season.

Millie Brown: The bottom-age AFLW Academy member managed eight games and got better as the season went on, named among the best in her final three matches. In the absence of a number of others including Webster and Egan at various times in the final few rounds, Brown provided the Bushrangers forwards with a penetrating kick from midfield, and good strength when in defence. With a year still remaining at TAC Cup level, she is a player who will be looked upon to step up in 2019.

Season summary: 

The Murray Bushrangers would not have expected to finish seventh in the ladder in 2018, but the main focus of development has been fulfilled. Many Bushrangers players have developed in leaps and bounds, and the team has strong players across every position on the ground. From Julia Harvey in the midfield to Grace Egan in defence to Olivia Barber in the forward line, Murray had options all over the ground. With many top-age players moving on from the program, it allows younger players such as Chelsea Hargreaves, Millie Brown, Kate Adams and Claudia McKimmie to step up in 2019.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup Girls – Round 4

ROUND four gave us a new ladder-leader with the Geelong Falcons taking top spot off the Northern Knights. It also saw the Stingrays move off the bottom of the ladder with a commendable performance against the Sandringham Dragons. Meanwhile Gippsland continued its great run of form with a three-point win against reigning premiers, Calder Cannons. This competition just keeps on giving with plenty of great performances on an action-packed Tuesday.  Our scouts attended four games from the round.

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Sandringham Dragons 

By: Peter Williams 

Dandenong: 

#3 Courtney Jones

I thought it was the best four-quarter performance I have seen from her this season. She played well inside 50 and just consistently worked her way to the front in marking contests. Jones has a good game sense and knew when to time her leads and use her body to wedge herself between her opponent and the pass coming inside 50. Just kicked the one goal after marking from an Eliza Wilson-Macdonald snap, then missed a chance to make it two after a great lead and mark. Overall a really strong performance.

#15 Jordyn Allen

The captain played a typical consistent game, and when called upon, stood up and made it count. She seemed to be everywhere on Tuesday, intercepting and rebounding early, then went forward in the final term and took a huge contested mark, converting the goal and giving the Stingrays a real sniff at victory late in the game. She reads the play so well and is pivotal off half-back. She just knows how to get to the right positions and uses her great vision to not only chop off opposition passes, but open up angles for teammates and find space for them with neat passes.

#26 Isabella Shannon

Arguably the Stingrays best across four quarters, her contested work was top notch on Tuesday. You would often find her at the bottom of a pack, shovelling the ball out and no doubt her contested numbers and one percenters would be high from her efforts in the match. Shannon also has good composure with ball-in-hand and is able to stand up in a mark with pressure coming from around her. She took a great intercept mark early in the fourth term, and also had a chance to draw the team within five points late in the match after a quick handball from Lucinda Cripps, but her snap missed.

#29 Brooke Struylaart

Struylaart kicked the first goal of the game and continually presented up forward. Her game tended to flow like the Stingrays, but when they needed a target inside 50, she was there. Her positioning in the first marking contest was smart, reading the ball’s flight better than her opponent to position herself at the back and take an easy uncontested mark and slot the goal from the goal square. She had a shot in the second term but her snap did not bend back enough. Struylaart also cut the margin back in the fourth term with the opening goal to get the Stingrays up and about.

#35 Lucinda Cripps

I am yet to see her play a bad game, such is the consistency Cripps has throughout matches. Even when she is not winning the ball, she is contesting and putting her body on the line via blocks, tackles or shepherding – a real team player. She gets to the right positions in the defensive 50 and puts pressure on her opponents, and intercept marks, spoils or just puts her opponents off balance enough to slow play. In the last term Cripps went forward and while she did not win a heap of it, almost changed the game with a lightning handpass to Isabella Shannon as she ran by, but unfortunately the proceeding snap was missed.

Others:

#1 Shelley Heath: Quieter early, but had some really classy moments. The most noticeable trait for me is her ability to dispose of the ball really quickly. It is hard for opponents to get a hand on her, because she either fires out the handball or puts the ball to boot in record time. A clean user of the ball across the game and clean at ground level.

#5 Eloise Allen-Burns: A consistent game playing in defence, taking a crucial intercept mark late in the game and being a rock alongside Cripps in that back 50.

#20 Eliza Wilson-Macdonald: A good mover who just cracks in hard at the contest. Had an entertaining battle with Winnie Laing throughout the day when the pair matched up in the midfield with neither player taking a backwards step. Wilson-Macdonald laid a few bone-crunching tackles, and also set up a Courtney Jones goal with a neat turn and snap to the danger zone.

#21 Grace Hodder: I was impressed with her game just showing a few signs here and there, laying a huge tackle on the wing and taking a good intercept mark at half-forward. Started to win a bit of the ball through the midfield and was fairly clean too.

#28 Tyanna Smith: Had an eye-catching play in the second term, marking and not breaking stride and she bombed long inside 50 to hit up Brooke Struylaart. She then laid a great run down tackle on Abbie McKay later in the match to lock up the ball.

 

Sandringham: 

#36 Jemma Owen

The best performance I have seen the Dragons captain put out for the season, she was just everywhere. She not only did all the hard stuff that you are used to with her in-and-under work and fierce tackling, but she broke the lines and made the grandstand wing her own with a couple of daring dashes to burn off opponents and gain serious meterage. She created run off half-back and then seemingly iced the game late in the third term with a huge goal from about 40m out with the kick never looking like missing. She copped a knock in the final term but got back up.

#43 Abbie McKay

A consistent performer across the game, not as noticeable as some, but looking carefully she plays a vital role in the contest. She laid a great goal-saving tackle in the third term, but unfortunately for her the ball spilled free and another opponent kicked truly. Nonetheless her effort in the contest was indicative of her desire at the coal face and produced a strong team player game.

#46 Alice Burke

I thought her game was the most noticeable I had seen from her despite having some impressive performances this season. She created good drive off half-back and did a few things that indicated her game sense and footy IQ was high – deft taps or knock ons that advantaged either herself or her teammates for the next possession or contest. She also kicked a great goal when all the momentum was with the Stingrays, nailing a shot inside 50 after drifting down there and putting the Dragons nine points up with five minutes remaining in the match.

#49 Laura Amelung

A damaging game from the versatile utility who does not need a lot of space to hurt her opponents. She has a trademark sidestep that opens up space and only needs a split second to compose herself and zero in on the goals. Amelung showed great vision to be able to pick out teammates in pockets of space, and finished the game with two goals – one on the run from 40m out in the first quarter and another from bouncing on a loose ball in the pocket. She also set up a great goal assist to Jemma Owen in the third term who nailed the shot from 40m out.

#56 Georgia Emberton

Emberton played up forward and I was impressed with her ability to balance between offensive and defensive mindsets. She would find space and become an option for her teammates going forward, but also put pressure on her opponents so they knew they were being hunted inside their defensive 50. Emberton laid a great run down tackle in the first term for a free kick late, then nailed the set shot from a 45 degree angle. She missed the opportunity to make it two later on, marking in front but the set shot just missed. Emberton moved into the midfield late in the game and found a bit of the ball.

Others:

#1 Maddison Wilson: Copped a knock in the first term from a tackle, but got back up to compete at the next contest. She reads the play well and is a clean user of the football, and also clean at ground level.

#2 Winnie Laing: A contested game from Laing, going head-to-head with Eliza Wilson-Macdonald at times through the midfield, she continued to battle and force her way to contests throughout the match.

#25 Isabella Eddey: Kicked a great goal from a snap in the third term to put the Dragons 12 points up. Also had a vital contest backing back into defence in the final term, doing enough to put body contact on Lucinda Cripps to spoil her attempt at a mark, then won the proceeding one-on-one and cleared it out of the danger zone. Zipped around and played her role throughout the game.

#32 Sarah Hartwig: Hartwig provided great drive and kept one of the competition’s key goal-scorers – Samantha Ryan – goalless. She has a great ability to change direction and lay some strong tackles, and also provided a crucial intercept midway through the last term, striding out of defence to clear it to the wing.

#64 Eliza McNamara: Played even more of an inside role on Tuesday than other matches and looked comfortable. She had to earn every possession this round and did so, well. She has a good turning circle and can work her way out of a stoppage, and almost kicked a great goal in the second half after sidestepping a couple, but was dragged down at the last second and the kick fell short.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets 

By: Taylah Melki

Murray: 

#1 Julia Harvey

Harvey was a standout for the Bushrangers, competing hard for the footy and slotting an impressive goal from a tricky angle. She used the footy cleanly and hit her targets. Harvey showcased her fight and desperation for the footy, and took a few really strong marks under heaps of pressure.

#16 Eloise Ashley-Cooper

She was really strong down back and through the middle for the Bushrangers once again. Ashley-Cooper took plenty of strong marks and showed good hustle to win the footy at ground level. She was very clean around the contest and used the footy effectively, showing great awareness with ball in hand.

#17 Rebecca Webster

Webster backed up her impressive form again this week gathering plenty of touches and imposing herself on the contest. She was never far from the footy and was a huge influence on her teammates, imposing herself on the stoppages. She had clean hands in and around the contest and used the footy well. Webster laid plenty of strong tackles and showcased her ability to run and carry with the footy. Not only did she tackle well but she used her strength to burst away from the packs and help set up forward play for her team. She showed great awareness with ball in hand and demonstrated her long penetrating kick, scoring a goal herself in another strong performance for the Bushrangers.

#19 Millie Brown

Brown had a huge first quarter for the Bushrangers. She showcased her class and footy skill nailing two big goals in the opening term and demonstrated good awareness with ball in hand. Brown used her evasive skills to get into damaging positions and used her booming kick to propel her team forward. She also took big grabs throughout the match.

#22 Tamara Smith

Smith showed some good fight and competed hard to win the footy. She was never far from the contest and laid plenty of good strong tackles throughout the match. Smith applied good forward pressure to lock the ball in their forward 50 and used the footy cleanly, hitting targets with pin-point accuracy. In and around stoppages she was really clean and helped to open up the space with her dash.

Others:

#4 Chelsea Knight: Knight showcased her marking ability and competed hard for the footy throughout the match. She ran hard and was not afraid to impose herself on the contest.

#5 Chelsea Hargreaves: Hargreaves took plenty of good intercept marks and had really strong hands under heaps of pressure.

#11 Ada Chessor: Chessor showcased her clean hands around the contest and used her break-away speed to open up the field. Her ability to win the in and under ball allowed her to use skills to burst away from the pack.

#26 Emily Nicholson: Nicholson laid a huge tackle in the third quarter and took a few good intercept marks throughout the match.

#37 Sophie Damon: Damon was really solid down back for the Bushrangers and competed hard at the contest. She laid an impressive smother and helped to propel her team forward multiple times from defence.

#42 Grace Egan: Egan backed up her strong performance last week with another consistent game, taking plenty of strong intercept marks and impressing with her ability to read the flight of the footy and the play of the game.  

#45 Olivia Barber: Barber took plenty of good contested marks and rucked really well for the Bushrangers. She won plenty of the ruck contests and took a strong good grab. Barber nailed an impressive goal in the third quarter.

 

Western: 

#2 Caitlin Gashi

Gashi was a standout for the Jets showcasing her impressive speed and evasive skills. She was very clever with ball in hand and used the footy effectively and efficiently. Her run and carry was important to help propel her team forward and she used her strong kicking ability to set her team up.

#8 Emily Gardner

Gardner was good around the contest and competed hard to win the footy for her team. She was never far from the contest and was not afraid to get involved in the thick of it. She had clean hands and picked up the footy with ease.

#14 Isabella Grant

Grant showed some good dash across the ground and took a few running bounces to try and open up space for her team. She set up plenty of play in the forward 50 and competed hard for the footy at ground level.

#26 Isabella Negri

She took a big mark in the second quarter and competed hard for the ball throughout the whole match. Negri was a key presence up forward for the Jets and used the ball relatively well. Negri was not afraid to go hard at the footy. Her quick release with ball in hand helped her team mates and allowed them to run into space.  

#43 Caitlin Greiser

She was the sole goal-kicker for the Jets bagging three majors. Greiser impressed with her accuracy in front of goal and showed good composure with ball in hand. She moved well across the ground and got herself into damaging positions in order to set up shots at goal. Greiser was a key figure on the ground and looked dangerous in front of goal.

Others:

#19 Olivia Forsythe: Forsythe laid some good strong tackles and used her long penetrating kick to help her team get out of trouble. She showed great awareness and helped to set up some forward play for the Jets.

#21 Maddison-Eve Fenech: She applied some good tackling pressure and fought hard to win the footy.

#40 Sharnie Whiting: She was effective down back for the Jets and had a beautiful long kick which she used to help propel her team forward. She set up play defensively and was able to hit targets on the kick in.

#44 Carle Myors-Moore: She was really strong down back for the Jets and soaked up a lot of pressure from the Bushrangers. She used her long clearing kick to get the ball out of their defensive 50.

 

Northern Knights vs. GWV Rebels 

By: James Halley

Northern: 

#7 Abigail Bennett

She is quite classy in tight and has time when her opposition has none. She has good hands for and can hold her marks when under heavy duress. She is really trustworthy on the last line of defence when needed to mark under pressure. Her ability to play anywhere on the field is a strength.

#14 Jessica Fitzgerald

She seemed to be everywhere in the first quarter. She had a presence on the ground which the Rebels could not contain early on. She kicked an impressive goal late in the third term as she was getting tackled, which shows great composure. 

#24 Alexandra Pronesti

She played as the main target for the Knights in the forward line, presented well and was rewarded for constant hard work in the first quarter with a goal, which she converted from a set shot 20m out. She converted her second from a similar distance moments later, as she stamped her authority on the game. Her hands did not falter as the game went on.

#27 Paije Kearney

She managed to hold her own as a key position back and took impressive marks when the team needed her. She is often the player that her teammates look to when distributing the ball.

Others: 

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton: She has great hands and leads very well.

#10 Phoebe Chisolm: Chisolm displayed her tackling power with a great chase-down tackle in the first term.

#17 Ciara Fitzgerald: She seems a class above with her speed out of the stoppages.

#23 Gabby Newton: Newton was a key interceptor for the Knights in the backline, continuing her form this season.

 

#22 Britney Gutknecht: She is a quality on-baller who disposes the ball well out of the contest. 

 

GWV: 

#15 Tara Jasper

For a backline player, she was able to convert from a long distance after she was a awarded a free and 50m penalty for rough conduct, which illustrates great flexibility for the 18-year-old. Definitely one of the Rebels’ best on the day.

#18 Sophie Van De Heuvel

She snapped through a very nice goal from the boundary which showed great promise as a small forward. Afterwards she showed a bit of character which was good to see, as she brought her team within one point of the Knights in the second term. She was lively throughout the whole game and a real standout for the Rebels.

#23 Sophie Molan

Molan is a very accurate shot for a goal as she converted from 30m out in the second term after being awarded a free kick for holding. She continues to improve as the season goes on, being one of GWV’s most consistent players. Molan was a strong defender early in the season but has made her mark in attack the last few weeks.

#25 Georgia Clarke

Her dash and accurate kicking across half-back was instrumental in attacks for the Rebels. Her pressure on the ball-carrier was immense. She proved this by winning multiple frees. Clarke backed up her best-on-ground efforts last week with another sterling game in defence.

#27 Nyakoat Dojiok

She has really good pace and runs all day up and down the wing. Late in the last quarter she sprinted away and kicked her first goal for the match in a good quarter of forward athleticism. 

 

 

Others: 

#13 Chloe Leonard: She was able to finish nicely in front of goal as she kicked truly for her second-term major.

 

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons 

Oakleigh:

#2 Mimi Hill

Did some really nice things on the day and was one of the Chargers players who never gave up. At times, she would pick the ball up quickly and kick it out of congestion, displaying her great spatial awareness. She also displayed clean hands throughout the day. Was a key link in the chain for the Chargers throughout the day.

#16 Alana Porter

Has a great long and penetrating kick, which was even executed well on the run. She had great balance to kick the ball well and keep her feet while Geelong players were chasing her down. Had the ability to get and go throughout the whole game to try and hack the ball forward for her side. Took a great in and under mark, laid a goal-saving tackle, and completed a huge run-down tackle to save Geelong running forward. A complete game from her.

#17 Nicola Xenos

Made the clubroom end her own by always getting the ball in that area and hacking it out of congestion off the half-back line. Often marked, and kicked towards the wing to create space. She was proactive in finding other ways to get her team moving forward. In one instance she had the awareness to kick across the ground to allow her team control the footy. Was able to accelerate and kick on the run. Read the game really well.

#32 Chloe O’Malley

Got plenty of the footy on the day. Dug in deep for the side, trying to hold down the fort in defence then presenting herself in one instance in the forward line. Had good agility to evade a tackle at one point and kept trying to surge forward. Constantly went in hard for the footy and when she got it, she had the composure to go back, look for a target and allow her teammates to get into position.

#21 Charlotte Moon

Another commendable performance from Moon, she is a very consistent player. She showed her strength with a good pick-up off the deck while she had a player on her back. She is proving to be very important for Oakleigh. She was one of their better players on the day and seems to be improving as each week goes on.

#70 Peggy-Sue Fennell

In one instance she burst from the last line of defence, cleared the ball from goal-square congestion and took it to the wing. Backed up last week’s solid performance.

 

Others:

#14 Hannah McLaren: Penetrating kick and was getting plenty of the footy in the first quarter. Went off with a head knock towards the end of the term and did not come back on which was a shame. Looked like she was going to have a solid performance.

#11 Bridie Winbanks: Did well in the ruck to minimise Inei’s influence. Kicked the ball nice and high at times to allow her smaller teammates to run onto the ball. Got plenty of air on her kicks.  

#30 Gemma Lagioia: Started the game incredibly well before an unfortunate head clash with Hannah McLaren. Won plenty of the ball and kept it moving in the short time she was out there.

#39 Tayla Nichols: Took a good intercept mark and laid a goal-saving tackle on the last line of defence to prevent a Geelong goal.  

#43 Emily Hastie: Laid an excellent rundown tackle and took a good mark from a defensive kick inside 50.

 

Geelong: 

 

 

#7 Olivia Purcell

Was everywhere throughout the day. Had a good clearance out of the centre and was able to burst through congestion multiple times. Was able to pick up the ball cleanly and it paid dividends when she did it inside 50 and slotted through a goal. Her marking power was remarkable for such a small player. Took a good leap over a player’s back and took a mark with an opponent on her back, showing she could do it all. Was another Falcon who had a wonderful goal sense. She was Geelong’s best player on the day.

#10 Nina Morrison

Displayed electric speed throughout the game. She is such a composed player. Morrison is also a confident player, shown when she ran along the boundary line and kicked a brave snap. She has a good kick off one step, and has one of the most diverse kicks I’ve seen this year. Can kick it high, low, or spear a pass. In one instance, she kicked a low ball into the forward line, as she picked a target rather than just hacking it to the top of the goal square. So good at finding targets and has an innate ability to lower her eyes to control the flow of the game for the Falcons.

#15 Lucy McEvoy

Flexed her muscles against the Chargers. She plucked many marks out of contests and was able to clear the ball, whether it was by giving the ball off or running into space herself. Took a huge contested mark with a contest of players behind her. At one point she had good game sense to cleverly tap the ball in a contest which allowed her to run forward. She displayed good kicking up forward and had a strong presence inside 50. Kicked a nice goal to solidify her dominance. Always knew how to bring her teammates into the game with quick-fire handballs. In one instance, she got a kick away even though she was being tackled.

 

#17 Denby Taylor

Good acceleration. Got heaps of the footy throughout the day. Has a long kick which got Geelong out of trouble deep in defence. Had a great knack to pick up the footy and kick off one step to boot it forward.

#25 Renee Tierney

Kicked four brilliant goals for the day. Always ran into the right spots to run onto the end of some long kicks inside 50. For one of her goals, she read McEvoy’s quick pick-up, grabbed the ball off the deck and snapped it around her body. Kicked a good goal off a free kick with a nice calm run up. Took an excellent pack mark at the top of the square. She was really lively inside 50 throughout the whole game but her influence was especially felt in the third quarter when she kicked two goals. Has a remarkable goal sense.

 Others:

#9 Luka Lesosky-Hay: Had a nice long kick into the forward line and created a couple of forward thrusts. Kicked to the ball beautifully to the perfect spot, the goal square, to allow the small forwards to run onto a loose ball. Kicked a goal herself to polish off a nice day out.

#11 Kaitlyn Haustorfer: In one instance she cleverly tapped the ball under pressure to get it out of the congested stoppage. Laid a great tackle and got straight back up to continue chasing.

#14 Tarryn Love: Great mark and good ability to play on.

#19 Zoe Inei: Nice goal from a free kick, curled it nicely.

#22 Mia Sheppard: Good effort to get the ball, kick it then follow up her kick. Kept her feet well throughout the game.

#30 Emily Allan: Read the play well to get the ball out the back off a big kick inside 50. Kicked a nice goal to finish it off.

TAC Cup Girls preview: Murray Bushrangers

MURRAY Bushrangers went undefeated in 2017, but finished second on the ladder due to a smaller percentage than premiers Calder Cannons. This was due to some narrow wins, especially in the last rounds of the season. The Bushrangers escaped with a two-point win against the Geelong Falcons in round four, while the winless Oakleigh Chargers gave them a scare in round five.

Despite this, they had plenty of consistent performers such as Rebecca Webster and Chelsea Knight. Webster starred in defence, and was named as the full back in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year, while Knight has impressed with her magnificent leadership traits.. The Bushrangers were also fortunate enough to have one of their players drafted in AFLW, with Iilish Ross heading off to Collingwood.

Murray’s female talent manager Brianna Cossar said the impact that this has had on the players has been significant.

“It’s certainly given them something to strive for and achieve,” she said. “(They) now believe that anything is possible.”

Ross was able to star alongside captain, Chloe Raines in 2017, and according to Cossar, they will team up again in 2018 but in a coaching capacity.

“Chloe Raines has come on as a development coach, and we’ll also have the likes of Iilish Ross after she’s finished her commitments with Collingwood in the AFLW,” Cossar said. “It’s really exciting for all of us (coaching staff), and the girls as well.”

Raines and Ross will bring plenty of knowledge and expertise to the club, and will be pivotal in helping the Bushrangers achieve its goal for the 2018 season. Cossar said that Murray’s goal is one that follows a path of player development, whereby the players continue to refine their skills each week, and learn to grow as young adults along the way.

“To be honest, it’s great to have the wins on the board and end up on top and play off in the grand final and get a premiership, but we’re all about developing our players – not only as footballers but young adults as well,” she said. “If we can see improvement both on the football field and off the field, then we know we’ve done our job.”

Development comes natural to former basketballer, Olivia Barber, who Cossar said is a player to watch. “She (Olivia) is a national under 16 basketballer, involved with the AIS.

“We’re obviously working with her to accommodate both her football and basketball passions, and we’d like to think we would have her services for maybe half the season,” Cossar said. “But when she first came to training, you would not have known she had not touched a football or hadn’t played much football or anything like that. “I think basketball and football go hand-in-hand with a lot of things. “We’re really excited with Olivia.”

Barber is a bottom-age player this year, and has impressed the Murray coaching staff, along with fellow bottom-agers, Chelsea Hargreaves, Claudia McKimmie, Charlotte Beavan, and Kate Adams. Among the impressive top-age players is Millie Brown, who won the Bushrangers’ best and fairest last year. Brown is a great forward, and is in the AFLW Academy alongside teammate, Rebecca Webster. Expect both of them to be damaging at their respected ends of the ground

But whether the players are bottom-age or top-age, Cossar emphasised that family and school commitments need to be kept in mind when playing elite football.

“We always say ‘family first’, school second,” Cossar said. “We try to make sure they are getting a work-life balance and football is just an opportunity that if they choose to do that, we’re more than happy to have them on board, and just try and develop them. “I think football is a great outlet, I know a lot of the girls have a lot of issues going on, but love coming to football training. “You just see their passion and love for the sport as soon as they get on the ground and train, they’re completely different people.”

The Bushrangers will be liking their chances to produce some solid performances in 2018, after a successful 2017 campaign. But they will need to be switched on right from round one, as they face reigning premiers, the Calder Cannons.