Tag: Darebin Falcons

2021 VFLW season preview: Darebin Falcons

DAREBIN Falcons are “relishing the opportunity” to compete against AFLW-aligned opposition in the upcoming VFLW season, according to head coach Mitch Skelly. In a revamped schedule, both seasons are set to run concurrently to allow those who miss out on senior action during the AFLW campaign to play each week.

The Falcons are one of the few true standalone sides left in the state league competition though, meaning that access to those top-level players will be restricted to the second half of the season – once the AFLW competition is run and done. Skelly says the new structure gives Darebin “a chance to be really competitive”.

“We’re completely standalone, I guess that’s one of the many points of difference with our club,” Skelly said. “We don’t have a men’s team, we don’t have an AFLW alignment, we’re pretty independent and get to do our own thing.

“The way the league’s structured, if there are AFLW players playing in the first half of the season it’s probably not the ones who are dominating that league each week. I think it gives us a chance to be really competitive. If we can build a competitive team in this first half of the year, then we can bring in a few AFLW players ourselves in the second half of the year and there’s no reason we can’t be competitive each week.”

A mixed bag of fitness and touch levels on the back of 2020’s scrapped season has now evened out, and Skelly says his troops are “flying” just a week out from Round 1. The Falcons managed to fit in two practice matches against fellow standalone sides in Williamstown and Essendon, going down in both fixtures but taking plenty away from each test.

“When we came back there were a few mix levels of workloads as a result of the lockdown and we didn’t want to put too much pressure on players,” Skelly said.

“By the time we got back from the Christmas break, everyone was flying. Some of our 2km time trials were really good, there were a lot of PB’s (personal bests). The skill and the touch by now I think we’re back to where we want to be at this stage of a preseason, even after having that long break.

“We played Williamstown a few weeks back and we lost that one by just under two goals. It was a good hitout and we learned plenty from that game. Tonight (Thursday) we’re playing Essendon out at Tullamarine so that’s another good test between two standalone teams who don’t have AFLW alignment.”

There have been some clear standouts on the track for Darebin as players prepare for their first taste of competitive action in almost a year. Skelly pin-pointed some of the leaders of the squad as ones to watch, as well as a couple of developing youngsters poised to make a splash at VFLW level.

Steph Simpson has just been brilliant, she sets the standards at training,” he said. “Every time we do a match sim she just stands out as someone who’s been around for a while and has that leadership as part of her game.

“Down the other end of the field there’s Gena Lawson-Tavan. She’s another one that I think she keeps getting better and better and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future she ends up being drafted at some point.

“I think it’s really exciting we’ve got four girls who’ve come from our Under 18s premiership team in 2019. One’s Stephanie Elarmaly, she never played any rep footy or anything like that but I think she’s somebody who can have a really big impact at VFLW level this year.

“We have one player from (NAB League region) Calder, Peppa Poultney. She’s a Darebin junior, she came through the club playing all her youth footy here and she’s on Calder’s list this year. “We’ve also listed her, so she’s the one NAB League player that’s on our list currently, but we do hope to add a couple more down the line.”

Having had his first year in the role ultimately scrapped in an on-field sense, Skelly says he is “really excited” to finally see the Falcons take the field and show their worth. He was also glowing in his review of the “inclusive” club.

“The club is so positive and inclusive of people and everyone who comes down,” he said. A lot of people who come down, even if they don’t know much about the club’s history, they just embrace it and they dive in – whether it’s at VFLW level or NFNL. “I love the club and I’m just really excited about the opportunity to get into some games and test ourselves out. With the new season coming up, with the structure changing there’s a lot of unknowns and a great opportunity to start fresh and have a good crack at it.

Darebin is set to announce its leadership group in the coming days, consisting of six players. While no official fixture has been released, Round 1 of the 2021 VFLW season will get underway next weekend.

Image Credit: (Retrieved from) VFL

Capable Chaplin knows believing is achieving

HER coaches know it, her teammates know it, anyone who has observed her journey through the NAB League pathway knows it, but only now is Maeve Chaplin realising that she truly belongs among the best women’s football has to offer.

The Northern Knights defender has come a long way since starting football at age seven; originally playing alongside boys, then moving to girl’s sides at West Preston Lakeside and the Darebin Falcons, while also advancing through Northern’s elite talent program.

As a middle-ager, Chaplin was part of the Knights’ undefeated premiership team, shining across half-back with her mix of physicality and class on the ball. An injury in Round 3 of her top-age campaign was unideal, though it would matter little in the grand scheme of things as the season would eventually be scrapped amid a global pandemic.

By her own estimation, Chaplin was “travelling pretty well” and was as fit as she had ever been. She was in the midst of a move into the midfield, joining co-captains Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald at the centre bounces and waxing well with the probable first-round draft talents.

While the 18-year-old and her teammates may have had plenty more to give in 2020, Chaplin says the break in play has allowed her to work on the mental side of her game.

“I definitely tried to use (the lockdown period) to my advantage and I really worked on myself mentally,” Chaplin said. “It was a big thing for me because I didn’t really have the time like I do now to just focus on myself. “It was a time for me to understand that I really do want to get far in footy and that I am prepared to play at a professional level. “In order to do that I really wanted to mature in those areas.

“I just wish I did believe in myself… but it’s something that I really want to work on and I have been working on throughout this isolation period. Just knowing mentally that I am good enough and I can get to that next level, it’s just all about pushing myself.”

The friendship of a Knight-turned-Bulldog who has also been part of the Darebin football family, Nell Morris-Dalton has helped Chaplin thrive. Chaplin says she has remained in constant contact with her former teammate throughout the lockdown period.

“A big (mentor) for me has definitely been Nell,” she said. She’s really helped, inspired, and guided me a lot throughout the season because we’ve got the same personality in a way. “I’ve been texting her quite a bit during isolation so she’s a really good friend.

“It’s pretty amazing to play with (the Northern Knights), they’re all so talented. “You really grow off each other and challenge each other, so it helps everyone get better at the end of the day. “Playing with them, you don’t really think about how good they are, they’re just more your friends.”

Maeve Chaplin moves through traffic

Northern’s cohesive team and a family-like atmosphere has certainly played a part in Chaplin’s rise. The aforementioned midfield move was one bought on by coach Marcus Abney-Hastings and talent manager Nat Grindal, allowing Chaplin to bring her defensive nous to a rather potent midfield group.

She says the move was somewhat of a natural progression from the defensive post she owned throughout 2019, though she still harbours hope of returning to half-back in future.

“It was kind of expected,” she said. “Nat and Marcus let me know that they were going to put me up into the midfield and get me a bit more of the ball which was good to have.

“I definitely brought some of my defensive traits into the midfield, using my bodywork, so that was a bonus. “I felt like in doing that, I helped Ellie and Jess play their best footy as well. “It was definitely a good move up the ground, it was fun.

“I would prefer to play on the half-back flank (at AFLW level) but playing in the midfield does come naturally to me just as much as the backline. “But I’ll obviously put my best effort in playing there and it’d be a really good opportunity.”

The versatile prospect, who models her game on Richmond defender Phoebe Monahan, has not only improved herself off-field, but has reaffirmed some of the improvements to be made through contact with AFLW clubs. While “feeding off” their directive, Chaplin has also put the onus back on the recruiters and coaches during their meetings.

“They have given me some things that I need to work on, or they’ve mentioned them and I’ve fed off them a little bit,” she said. “But I’ve been more self-directing, I’ve just told them what I feel like I need to work on and ask them how they’re going to support me and all that kind of stuff.”

“Obviously there’s a few things (to improve on). My aerobic endurance I definitely want to work on, I want to be the fittest that I can be because that was definitely me at the start of the year. “With the right support staff I can definitely get to that level again and even better than that.

“A few other things that I really want to work on are just my mentality, that’s a big thing for me. Just knowing that I am at that level physically to play, and getting myself there mentally as well.”

Outside of football, Chaplin is working through her Year 12 studies and hopes to move into either nursing or paramedicine next year. She sought to thank all the people at the Northern Knights for all the support and life lessons she has received from them, as well as her teammates Fitzgerald, McKenzie, Alyssa Bannan, Ash Snow, and Abigail Bennett.

“They’re all just really good teammates, I really love them.”

Fast improving Knight doing things differently

FOR most top-agers, the prospect of juggling their final year of school with elite level representative football is a difficult reality. Not for Nell Morris-Dalton, whose journey to this point has been a touch less orthodox than some.

The Northern Knights and Darebin Falcons forward is a step ahead of the competition, currently in her first year of a university nursing degree, allowing her to narrow her focus and “step up (her) game to a new level.

“I think (being at university) made a huge difference this year, allowing me to focus on my footy a bit more,” Morris-Dalton said. “Even when I’m not doing footy I’ve got a lot more free time to just do things that I want to do, so I think that makes a big difference for my enjoyment of footy.”

The enjoyment factor has long been at the forefront of Morris-Dalton’s footballing story, with the Fitzroy junior opting against playing with the boys at a young age because their reluctance to tackle her made it “a little too easy.” But when the Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL) started up a girl’s competition, Morris-Dalton jumped at the opportunity to get back into the action.

“When the girl’s (league) started up at the YJFL I didn’t really look back from there,” she said. “I started at Fitzroy and then my first interaction with the youth girls (pathway) was at the Calder Cannons, and then I obviously got re-zoned when the Knights opened up a team.”

Morris-Dalton’s development at the Preston-based club has been steep, culminating in a top-age season which saw her average 12.6 disposals and 1.4 goals from her 11 NAB League games, highlighted by seven goals across two huge finals performances in the premiership-winning Knights side. The 174cm prospect’s form is something she says took time, coming on the back of a bed of belief and united team environment.

“I think I had a lot of pressure in the first half of my season and once I realised how I play well and worked out things in my game… my confidence started to build and obviously with my confidence building my game kept building too,” Morris-Dalton said. “This year we had a good group of girls and I think what made a huge difference was we were really close so everyone got along really well and it meant that on the field we could just connect well and understand each other’s gameplay… I really enjoyed my time at the Knights. “It was obviously perfect to finish off with a premiership especially in my top-age year and coming off the (grand final) loss the year before.”

Her big game performances meant Vic Metro selection was a relative given, with Morris-Dalton continuing her scoring streak to boot goals in each of her three outings during the national carnival in Queensland. The experience proved another chance to play among a rich team spirit.

“Vic Metro was also really good, I think the big thing about that team was all the girls weren’t playing for themselves and that really showed,” she said. “Everyone on the team connected well and the linkage of play was just really good so it was fun to play in that team with heaps of good girls.”

The theme only continued in Morris-Dalton’s five VFLW games for Darebin Falcons, an historically monumental and “empowering” club which she said was the perfect next step.

“I love Darebin… obviously being all-female, I think that was perfect and exactly where I wanted to go for the rest of my season. “I just really like the club, the whole community vibe of the club is really good and I enjoyed playing with bigger bodies and learning off some of the girls in the team. “Lauren Pearce has been helpful to me, just teaching me a few tips in the ruck and forward line, giving me advice. “It’s the same with Elise O’Dea, just giving me advice about the next level with what it takes and everything.”

The next level is approaching quicker than ever before at this point, with just the National Draft Combine and draft day separating Morris-Dalton from her AFLW dream. She is keen to get through the short period of the unknown.

“We’ve obviously got the combine coming up so that’s my goal at the moment, just to try and test well there. “(I’m) just looking forward to the draft and getting some idea of what I will be doing next year – that is a bit of a hard part of it, it’s all very unknown so I’m pretty excited just to get into it… anywhere I’ll be happy with, but I don’t want to get any ideas in my head and then be disappointed at the end of the day.”

Number Crunching: VFLW – Round 15

WITH only one home and away round left, it is time to look into the players who are leading in goals kicked for the 2018 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season. 

With 18 goals, Darebin’s Hannah Mouncey has consistently been in the top spot. Mouncey’s debut season in the VFLW has been important for lifting her team, famously kicking five goals in her side’s pummelling of Casey Demons earlier in the season. Mouncey’s versatile nature as a half-forward has been able to guide Darebin’s wins, week-in and week-out.

Second on the list is Carlton’s Darcy Vesico. Vescio has made a big impact this season, despite only playing eight of the 13 games so far. With 17 goals, the full-forward leads for the goals for the club and at this rate can still take top position by the season’s end. Vescio is ranked second overall for average goals kicked per game with a consistent 2.12.

And finally, Jessica Sedunary takes third place. Sedunary has been a key part in NT’s dominance this season, with 15 goals in only 10 matches for her team. With NT certain to make finals, the half-forward’s ability to convert in front of goal is something that could lead to her team’s debut season being a premiership one too.

Top 10 Most Goals Kicked (As of Round 15)

Player

Team

Matches

Goals

Average Goals

Hannah Mouncey

Darebin

11

18

1.64

Darcy Vescio

Carlton

8

17

2.12

Jessica Sedunary

NT Thunder

10

15

1.50

Tara Bohanna

Southern Saints

13

15

1.15

Jordann Hickey

NT Thunder

13

14

1.08

Kate Darby

Geelong Cats

12

14

1.17

Danielle Orr

Geelong Cats

13

13

1.00

Mia-Rae Clifford

Geelong Cats

13

13

1.00

Sarah Perkins

Hawthorn

10

12

1.20

Sophie Alexander

Collingwood

12

12

1.00

 

Top 10 Highest Goal Averages Per Game (As of Round 15)

Player

Team

Matches

Goals

Average Goals

Anne Hatchard

NT Thunder

3

9

2.67

Darcy Vescio

Carlton

8

17

2.12

Daisy Bateman

Collingwood

5

10

2.00

Katelyn Rosenzweig

NT Thunder

1

2

2.00

Lauren Butler

Western Bulldogs

2

4

2.00

Mickayla Ward

Western Bulldogs

3

5

1.67

Stacy Livingstone

Collingwood

3

5

1.67

Hannah Mouncey

Darebin

11

18

1.64

Jessica Sedunary

NT Thunder

10

15

1.50

Marijana Rajcic

NT Thunder

6

8

1.33

Number Crunching: VFLW – Round 12

IN this week’s edition of number crunching, we look into the best performances from AFLW players in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s 2018 season. Due to so many teams being shuffled around from what they were back in 2017, this season has shown how players can adapt in weaker and stronger teams. In no particular order, here is the best 10 AFLW players in the VFLW.

Williamstown’s Jess Duffin played for Collingwood in the AFLW in 2018 and will play for North Melbourne in 2019. She has had a fantastic season so far in Seagulls colours, playing nine games. Duffin has kicked eight goals and has constantly been chosen as one of the best on ground for her games. Her disposals and mark stats are always high, and that’s something that deserves to be seen in the next AFLW season.

Following Duffin is Collingwood star, Chloe Molloy. Though only a first year player in the 2018 AFLW season, the 19 year-old has made a name for herself with her athleticism and style of play. With only playing six games so far, Molloy has been quieter than expected but has made an impact despite this. Molloy is still a young player, so it’s exciting to see her progress.

The next and final Collingwood player in the top 10 is Jamiee Lambert. Lambert has had a brilliant season for Collingwood, kicking six goals in the eight games she has played. The midfielder is a near shoo-in for the Best and Fairest due to her experience leading to her strong performances. Despite being sometimes overlooked during the AFLW, Lambert shouldn’t be this season.

Richelle Cranston, current Geelong player and former Demons player, has been strong in the Cats midfield. With playing nine games and ranking in the top six in eight of those games, it’s clear that the coaches see how Cranston is a force on the field. Cranston has led the competition for inside 50s and continues to have high stat numbers in disposals.

Reigning AFLW Best and Fairest winner and Bulldogs premiership player, Emma Kearney has picked up where she left off in the AFLW, dominating for Melbourne Uni in the VFLW. Kearney, who recently transferred to North Melbourne, has only played six games for Melbourne Uni this season but has still been strong as their centre. The midfielder has frequently displayed her strong style of play for Melbourne Uni and will continue to show that as the season wraps up.

Following Kearney is Carlton superstar, Darcy Vesico. Vescio is always a prominent face in the AFLW and VFLW, and for good reason. Even though she has played six games this season, Vesico has kicked 15 goals, making her second ranked in the league for goals kicked. The key forward also has one of the highest goal averages in the league, with 2.50 goals per game.

Nat Exon has proven to be an elite player for both Darebin and the Brisbane Lions. Exon has had a great season and is one of the top Best and Fairest prospects for the league, with ranking in the top six for her team in six out of her seven games played. Exon has continuously performed with an unrivaled persistence, proving her necessity in the midfield for Darebin.  

NT Thunder has had a historical debut in the VFLW, currently sitting second on the ladder. It would be unfair to not acknowledge the amazing players like Jessica Sedunary who have put them there. Sedunary, who also plays for the Crows, has had an unbelievable VFLW debut herself, kicking 14 goals in her eight games for NT. She is the third highest goal kicker in the league and has been a key factor in NT’s success.

Another key player for NT has been their captain, Angela Foley. The versatile Adelaide midfielder/defender has been a notable leader for the young Thunder side, kicking seven goals in the nine games she has played for the Thunder. Foley has been a real link in NT’s midfield, allowing her teammates to have a very fluid style of play this season. Her position as in the middle has allowed her to dominate the field for her team.

The final player for this list is NT and Greater Western Sydney’s (GWS) Emma Swanson. Swanson is NT’s fourth highest goal scorer with nine goals in her nine games, leaving her with a nice 1.1 average. The GWS marquee star has been an important player for NT, usually playing in the forward line. Swanson’s dynamic style of play has led to her being an important player for NT, placing her as one of their best players in a team full of weapons.

Best Games For Each Player

PLAYER

TEAM

DATE

BST

G

BHD

KE

KIE

HE

HIE

HR

CM

UM

MKS

TKS

Chloe Molloy

Collingwood Sat 2/6 3 1 3 5 6 2 0 2 1 3 4 1

Jaimee Lambert

Collingwood Sat 23/6 1 0 0 10 6 2 1 7 1 2 3 3

Jess Duffin

Williamstown Sun 13/5 1 3 0 12 2 3 3 6 5 3 8 2

Richelle Cranston

Geelong Cats Sat 14/7 1 0 1 6 9 11 2 6 1 3 4 5

Emma Kearney

Melbourne Uni Sun 3/6 1 2 0 10 7 10 5 10 0 2 2 7
Darcy Vescio Carlton Sat 5/5 2 3 1 10 5 1 1 2 3 2 5 1
Nat Exon Darebin Sat 2/6 1 1 0 8 2 6 0 7 0 2 2 4
Jessica Sedunary NT Thunder Sat 16/6 1 3 1 5 7 1 2 5 1 4 5 2
Angela Foley NT Thunder Sat 26/5 1 0 0 11 6 6 1 9 1 4 5 2
Emma Swanson NT Thunder Sat 5/5 3 2 0 8 10 8 5 9 0 5 5 3

 

Number crunching: VFLW – Round 11

THE Best and Fairest is by far one of the most coveted awards in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s. They say that personal awards should not matter in a team sport, but credit is due to the fantastic individuals who can lead their teams to finals or just show unmatched skill on the field. In the Round 11 edition of Number Crunching, we will try to predict the 2018 VFL Women’s Best and Fairest winner. This was done by tallying the amount of times a player was named either the first or second best by their coaches in each match. 

Leading the table is Darebin player, Nat Exon. Exon has made it into the top two six times out of the seven games she has played in. The midfielder has shown to be strong for Darebin, with an average of five tackles per game. Exon’s ability to command her midfield has led to four wins out of the seven games she has played.

Second to Exon is AFLW Best and Fairest winner, Emma Kearney. Despite only have played five games this season, Kearney’s style of play has proven her to be just as great as a player in the VFLW as she in the AFLW. With an average of 23 disposals per game, her ability to move the ball around does not go unnoticed. The Melbourne Uni star continues to make a statement on the field, with the drive to win Best and Fairest twice this year.

The third most likely to win the VFLW Best and Fairest is Collingwood’s Jaimee Lambert. With six goals already this season, Lambert is Collingwood’s second highest goal kicker. The midfielder’s skill doesn’t stop there with an average of five tackles per game. Lambert’s attacking style of play has proven to be very successful for Collingwood with six wins out of the eight games she has played for the Pies. Lambert is a quieter personality, but with Collingwood’s great season so far, she shouldn’t be overlooked for the Best and Fairest.

With the season only just over half completed, there is still plenty of chances for the list to change. In saying that, these players have shown great individual merit and therefore deserve to be acknowledged for that.

Top Prospects for VFLW Best and Fairest

Player

Team

Number of times

in top two club bests

Nat Exon

Darebin Falcons

6

Emma Kearney

Melbourne Uni

5

Jaimee Lambert

Collingwood

4

Lauren Pearce

Darebin Falcons

3

Sarah D’Arcy

Collingwood

3

Jessica Duffin

Williamstown

3

Richelle Cranston

Geelong

3

Katherine Smith

Casey Demons

3

Maighan Fogas

Geelong

3

Kristi Harvey

Carlton

3

Courtney Ugle

Essendon

3

Kate Gillespie-Jones

Carlton

3

Jasmyn Hewett

NT Thunder

3

Naomi Ferres

Western Bulldogs

3

Kayla Ripari

Southern Saints

3

Maddy Collier

Essendon

3

Team of the Week: VFLW – Round 4

NT Thunder and the Southern Saints had massive wins over the weekend. This coincided in each side dominating the Team of the Week, with seven representatives between them. Saint, Alison Drennan seems to do no wrong in the midfield, while NT’s Jessica Sedunary was a standout up forward. 

Richmond, Casey and the Western Bulldogs all scraped one player in the Team of the Week after their losses on the weekend. Harriet Cordner was a standout for the Demons in the back line, while Lauren Tesoriero was a highlight up forward for Richmond. Mugars Captain, Ashleigh Riddell was just superb in the midfield for Melbourne University.

The forward line was hard to pick this week with many standout performers across the round. Darebin’s Hannah Mouncey was a lock in the forward line with her match-winning five goals. Exciting forward, Darcy Vescio was also instrumental in Carlton’s defeat to Geelong, as she kicked four majors. Former Northern Knight, Maddy Guerin also got a lot of the ball with 18 touches to go with her three goals for Darebin in a great game.

NT captain, Angela Foley was unlucky not to make this week’s best 22 with 24 disposals for the Thunder. Michelle Fedele could not have done much more with her three goals for Geelong, but unfortunately could not make the cut this week.

Oakleigh Chargers forward, Daisy Bateman was a real highlight for Collingwood with three goals on debut, which would have been a real morale booster for the Pies. Gippsland co-captain, Tyla Hanks also impressed in her first game, as she was the leading disposal-getter for the Blues against the Cats. Fellow AFLW Academy member, Madison Prespakis rounds out the TAC Cup Girls in the Team of the Week, with 23 disposals, five marks and five tackles for the Mugars. 

Fantastic Five: Memorable moments from the weekend

A GRAND final ticket booked, some memorable wins and the 19 year-old rule continues to work wonders for TAC Cup clubs, in a memorable weekend for football.

Knights book grand final spot

It was always looking to be the likely scenario – Northern Knights taking on Geelong Falcons in the grand final – and it took realistically just one quarter to become a reality. The Knights wasted no time blowing away Murray early before a tighter contest from then on, to set up a rematch with the Falcons. The pair faced just a week earlier in round eight and now meet at Werribee in the decider at 12.30 with the Falcons looking to complete an unbeaten season, while the Knights will be out to cause an upset and claim the flag.

Calder finishes season on a high at home

Reigning TAC Cup Girls premiers Calder Cannons headed into the final round with just one win to their name despite some competitive performances. But at home in the wet, the Cannons upstaged the highly fancied Eastern Ranges to double their wins tally and give their bottom-agers great excitement heading into 2019. Led by captain Madison Prespakis who could well be the first Victorian picked this year, and the exciting bottom-ager Georgia Patrikios, the Cannons had plenty to enjoy as their said goodbye to the 2018 season with a bang.

Carlton claims first AFL victory

It has been a long time since Round 22 last year, and for Carlton fans, it was a moment to savour when they toppled Essendon at the MCG on Saturday. It was no secret both teams were in a rut this season, but the Blues have showed signs of improvement over the first two months, and it culminated in a long-awaited victory. The likes of Patrick Cripps and Charlie Curnow lead a host of future stars which should fill many Blues fans with optimism going forward.

Old Firm VFLW sides bounce back

After a couple of disappointing losses in round one, Darebin Falcons and Melbourne University got back to what they do best – winning. Given the return of a number of AFLW stars to their respective line-ups, it was no surprise to see an improved performance, and Darebin trounced Richmond, while Melbourne University proved too good for Essendon. While Carlton and Hawthorn remained unbeaten and NT Thunder had a bye, the performances of the standalone VFLW sides (as well as some strong showings from Southern Saints, Williamstown and Casey Demons so far this season) makes for entertaining viewing.

Overagers turn it on

Each TAC Cup club is able to bring back a handful of turning 19 year-olds who missed out on getting drafted the previous year. In some cases, the players are better for it, and the likes of Tom Phillips and Hamish Brayshaw are just some of many who have been recruited on the back of strong over-age seasons. On the weekend, Calder Cannons’ Mitch Podhajski turned it on with 27 disposals, 15 tackles and three goals to be the AFL Draft Central TAC Cup Player of the Week, while fellow overagers Noah Answerth (31 disposals, eight marks) and Austin Hodge (19 disposals, four goals) also lit it up in their respective games.

Scouting notes: VFLW – Round 1

THE first week of the VFL Women’s competition produced a variety of different results. Many teams experienced historic wins while competition powerhouses such as Darebin and Melbourne University unusually kicked off their seasons with a loss. Each week, AFL Draft Central writers will be attending games and taking notes on the players from each side who performed well on the day. 

 

Darebin Falcons vs. NT Thunder 

By: Michael Alvaro 

Darebin Falcons:

#11 Kate Tyndall 

The former Western Bulldogs forward had a decent showing, kicking two of her side’s five goals. Tyndall got stuck in all day against a formidable Thunder defence, laying six tackles to help stop the flow of NT exiting the Falcons forward half. Her goal in the first quarter came from a handy Stephanie Simpson assist, and she proved to be a rare option up forward in solid patches throughout the day.

#14 Meghan McDonald 

McDonald was by far and away the Falcons’ best, providing a cool head across half-back. Often acting as the loose number in defence, she collected a team-high 26 disposals, and spared Darebin’s blushes many a time with some clutch intercept marking to finish with nine overall. She showcased her lovely, fluent kick when sending her side forward and was one of the few Falcons to successfully take the game on.

#17 Stephanie Simpson 

Somewhat of a Falcons veteran, Simpson was one of the more consistent players on the day. While she was caught in possession a couple of times early on, Simpson wasn’t afraid to use her dash and really bring it to her opposition on the break-away. She chimed in with a couple of clever plays, providing and assist for Kate Tyndall’s first quarter goal, while making the play from half-back to allow the Falcons to break for their second goal.

#20 Maddy Guerin 

Back at Preston City Oval where she played most of her TAC Cup football for Northern Knights, Guerin looked right at home in the VFLW. Attending most of the centre bounces and acting as the Falcons’ primary midfield option, she took on a fair workload throughout the game. Having collected 16 disposals, four marks and four tackles, it was a decent day for the youngster, and she was able to show off her trademark burst with a couple of nice centre clearances.

#40 Hannah Mouncey 

The VFLW debutant battled hard with limited opportunities coming for the Falcons forward line. While she wasn’t quite able to stick most of her marks, Mouncey used her body well in the contest and led up time after time from full forward. She broke countless tackles and used that skill to snare a goal from deep in the 50. Her repeat efforts were most impressive, but she lacked polish at times with her disposal – spraying two of her shots at goal quite badly. With the game all but over, Mouncey also had a brief stint in the ruck during the fourth quarter.  

 

NT Thunder:

#3 Angela Foley

Foley found plenty of the football pushing forward from half-back and the wing, finishing with 30 disposals. She proved damaging with her 24 kicks, using them to gain momentum and get the ball into dangerous areas quickly, where the NT forwards would finish the job. She kicked a nice check-side goal right on the half time siren to really sink the Falcons’ spirit, and her five tackles highlight her good work rate across the ground.

#16 Sophie Armitstead

The Crows midfielder showed no signs of ailment after her season-ending knee injury as she racked up 15 disposals and converted a free-kick goal. A handy touch-rugby player, Armitstead converted her skills well on the day with six tackles and some good pressure through both the midfield and forward half. A good return from a promising player.

 #17 Emma Swanson

The GWS marquee was at her best, dominating all parts of the ground on her way to collecting a game-high 31 disposals. A real smooth mover, Swanson looked quick and evasive with ball in hand and was near-on unstoppable around the contest. She was one of the better users of the ball on the day and lurked well around the stoppages. Her two first-quarter goals put the cherry on top of a good performance.  

#26 Chelsea Randall

The Adelaide Crows star was outstanding, putting on a clinic in all facets of the game. She wowed the crowd with her aerial marking, blind turns, and one-handed pick ups – having some of her AFLW teammates in the stands yelling ‘stop it Chels!’. It’s hard to miss her with her socks pulled up to her knees, which was handy since you always knew something was going to happen when she approached the contest. She collected 23 disposals, four marks, five tackles and two goals on a day out.  

#29 Marijana Rajcic

Deciding the votes for this game would be a hell of a task, with Rajcic one of many NT players to put their hand up for best-on honours. Spending most of her time forward of the ball, Rajcic provided a real focal point for the Thunder. She had a purple patch during the second quarter where she seemed to be everywhere – taking overhead marks, being hit upon leads and kicking 1.2 from a handful of attempts at goal. Finishing with 3.4 from her 25 disposals and eight marks, she stood out with her clean hands and the variety of avenues to goal that she creates.

 

Collingwood vs. Williamstown 

By: Peter Williams 

Collingwood:

#4 Sarah D’Arcy

By the end of the game, she was probably the Pies’ best player. Off half-back she was sensational, intercepting nearly anything that came her way, taking some towering marks and putting her body on the line in defence. She continually ran up the ground when needing to impact a contest on the wing and won free kicks for her strong tackles. Throughout the four quarters, D’Arcy showed strong hands and was willing to take the opposition on which was crucial on a wet ground. Had a shot on goal in the second term but it just went wide.

#11 Eliza Hynes

Not a day for the talls, Hynes continued to present around the ground. She dropped a number of marks but considering the wet football it was understandable. The more important aspect was the fact she brought the ball to ground when up forward and always provided a contest. In the ruck she was quite clever with the way she was able to palm the ball down and use her height to advantage.

#13 Jamee Lambert

Kicked a couple of goals early and was dangerous inside 50. Played a great portion of her game in the forward line leading out to the midfielders. She almost had a third late in the game, but was constantly involved, moving up the ground and kicking inside 50 as well as being on the receiving end. Made history with kicking the first Collingwood goal in the VFLW competition.

#46 Sarah Dargan

Relished the full-time midfield role with a number of Pies out, and was one of the best. Her work ethic was great and she continually put her body on the line. She matched up with Jenna Bruton and really took it up to her. She kicked long in the first term to help Lambert kick the first goal of the game and just cracked in hard throughout the match. She was smart around the stoppages and was on the receiving end of a few handballs, while also winning plenty of contested ball.

#65 Emily Browning

I could have gone for a number of non-AFLW listed players here, but I wanted to highlight Emily Browning’s game. The stats sheet probably won’t do her justice, but she continually worked hard inside 50 and as one of the youngest on the ground just pushed up and received the ball on the lead. She had a huge applause from the crowd when she landed a monster goal in the third term to give the Pies some breathing space.

 

Williamstown:

#2 Jess Duffin

The clear best on ground in my eyes, impressive from the first bell to the final siren. She had an impact everywhere she went, winning the first clearance and booting the first goal of the game. She took a number of intercept marks and had a shot on goal which just missed early, then had another crack with a snap from the boundary line but just missed again. She laid a bone-crunching tackle on D’Arcy as the latter was running into goal, and was steady in the back half. Just never wavered and was a huge reason the Seagulls were in the contest for the four quarters.

#16 Andrea Cameron

Cameron was one of the better Seagulls on the day, particularly early on in the contest. She has good core balance and this was shown by the way she was able to use her body well in a one-on-one at ground level. She protected the ball, shifted her balance and dished off the ball. Later on she took a strong mark leading out of the forward 50.

#25 Jasmine Garner

Played at both ends and caused some headaches for her AFLW side. She was good overhead and continually presented, bringing the ball to ground when she didn’t mark it. She won an early free kick and was always tightly watched, but a strong performance overall. She went back in the final term and did some nice things, taking some intercept marks and kicking long to the wing.

#34 Jacinta Reid

Felt Reid held up well in the defensive 50, matching it with a number of opponents. She provided drive out of defence and took a great diving mark early in the game. She was consistent throughout the match and will be one to watch going forward.

#35 Jenna Bruton

The Seagulls captain and Western Bulldogs AFLW premiership player just put her body on the line for four quarters. Opposed to Sarah Dargan most of the time, Bruton continued to crack in hard and won plenty of contested ball. She showed good vision to get the ball into space and used plenty of handballs to get the ball into space for teammates running on the outside. In the second term, Bruton showed her strength by fending off D’Arcy and getting the ball clear.

 

Western Bulldogs vs. Richmond 

By: James Halley

Western Bulldogs:  

#12 Jessica Francke

She is a really good mark and presented all day for the Dogs. Francke set a good example for her teammates to follow as she was usually at the bottom of packs. She just needed more teammates to help her out.

#14 Ellyse Gamble

Her football understanding was high as she sets up really well and as a result found herself on the end of some Richmond miskicks in the forward line. A highlight of the game was her intercept marking.

 #25 Rachel Gastin

She played as all footballers should and that is in front, and it worked for her a couple times as the rushed kick went straight into her lap. She was a constant for the Bulldogs and had a very good technique and kicking skills.

 #39 Kerrie Clarke

Clarke had a clever play when she hit-up a teammate for set-shot to end the quarter. She was really creative with her kicking throughout the match.

#45 Erin McLaughlin

Her second efforts were good but she just needs to present at the contest harder. She didn’t always mark the ball on the first go but she never gave up and gave second and third efforts, which would often would result in the Bulldogs making their way up forward. 

 

Richmond:

#53 Kate Dixon

With a good leading mark she converted the first ever goal for Richmond in the VFL Women’s competition. She put on great pressure to intercept a kick-in to set up Emma Gunn for the Tigers’ second major. Dixon slotted the Tigers’ third in a well-taken set shot. She kicked another goal in the third term from a downfield free kick where she got good penetration on her kick from a set shot. Dixon kicked her fourth major when Jenna Colwell set her up in the goal-square. She was the most damaging player on the ground for her 10 disposals.

#59 Alana Woodward

Great tackling and smothering. She had a shot at goal in general play and just missed, bit it was a good effort from the distance she kicked it from. Woodward managed to be around the ball enough to catch the eye of many and her speed and smarts landed her in many dangerous positions on the ground. She was the chain between the middle and the goals.

#68 Alice Edmonds

She played in the ruck for the Tigers and played her role well, winning her fair share of the taps. She is quite imposing on the field and accidentally took out a Bulldogs opponent in the second term due to her size. Edmonds had the confidence to grab the ball out of the ruck a couple of times towards the end of the match. Hopefully she keeps her spot when Collingwood AFLW ruck, Emma King pulls on the yellow and black.

#61 Jenna Colwell

She was really prolific for the Tigers up forward as she finished with two goals. Her and Kate Dixon created many headaches for the Bulldogs defence. A highlight of her game was when she kicked a miraculous goal from the boundary to register her first major for the game.

#63 Jacqueline Graham

She was a general down back. She was one of the reasons why the Bulldogs were held goalless, as she was a constant intercept-marking threat. Graham had very good closing speed and managed to get a spoil on many occasions. Her efforts rewarded her with 21 disposals. 

 

Essendon vs. Hawthorn 

Essendon: 

#32 Tait Mackrill

Has a really long kick and knows how to find space. Kicked it long down the line a couple of times. Mackrill executed a nice fend-off and high kick, giving her teammates the opportunity to run onto the footy. She saw she couldn’t kick a goal so she found the perfect option beside her inside 50. She also displayed a great spin out of trouble and went one better with a nicely delivered kick to the pocket. Was thrown into the middle in the fourth quarter and got two early clearances, often getting a quick kick away after her great clearance work. Displayed fantastic on-field leadership and was a bull in the contest.

#25 Rebecca Neaves

Did some good work to follow up her dropped mark, trapping the ball and giving away clean a handball. She was able to read the ball really well off a short kick from full back and curled the ball onto her chest. Did the little one per centers for the Bombers and was keen to be in every contest. A highlight of her game was when she executed a good pick-up on the boundary line and a nice kick into space. Neaves killed it in defence and worked so hard for her team throughout the game. Took plenty of contested marks to keep her side in the contest.

#15 Lauren Caruso

Had some really nice patches throughout the game but really made an influence in the last quarter. Laid an excellent tackle and won a free kick for it early on. Did some great work to hack the ball out of defensive 50 and was super lively around the contest. She was really composed around the ground, following the ball wherever it went. Took some nice marks and always pursued the ball after the ball after she kicked it. It was so good to see her playing footy again after captaining the Cannons to a premiership last year in the TAC Cup Girls competition.

#6 Alex Quigley

Took a good contested mark to start off her good day. Continued to dominate with her strong hands, showcasing some great marking on the lead. What impressed me most was after she took a mark, she would be composed with the ball in hand and not get carried away after a big grab. Quigley was so lively in the forward line and her hard work rewarded her with the ultimate accolade- making history. She won a downfield free kick and kicked the Bombers’ first goal. This generated a magnificent roar and every single one of her teammates got around her. It was brilliant to see.

#8 Hayley Bullas

Bullas is a great one per center player, doing all the little things to keep the Bombers momentum up throughout the day. She was able to lay a great smother that generated plenty of noise from the stands. Another highlight was when she grabbed the ball and reeled around to get a nice kick away, avoiding the player in her way. She was tenacious on the day, laying plenty of aggressive tackles and buzzing around the contest.

#43 Danielle Ponter

Did a really good job inside 50. Always presented even when the Bombers didn’t look like scoring. Took a great grab and kicked it nicely into space. Executed a really nice pick up off the deck and snapped it but just missed. Had a good handball receive about 45m out and bombed long for a great goal in the final term. Was lively throughout the day.

 

Hawthorn: 

#1 Emma Mackie

The Hawthorn skipper stood up on the big occasion and in my opinion, she was the best player on the ground. Displayed nice quick hands throughout the game, always getting her teammates into the contest. Had a great play when she executed a great overhead pick-up in the contest, bought the ball down to ground, which gave her teammates the opportunity to push forward. Displayed excellent tackling pressure all afternoon. Trapped the ball well and executed a wonderful underground handball. Delivered some nice long kicks down the line and also got on the end of some, taking some huge contested marks.

#7 Phoebe McWilliams

Laid some nice tackles in the heart of the contest inside 50, applying great forward pressure. She was lively throughout the game, itching her way into the contest. She delivered a well-directed kick to the top of square and took a good mark on the lead on the boundary line. Did all her nice work in the forward line and tried hard all day. She was unlucky to miss a set shot on goal but displayed high work ethic. A highlight was when she took a great overhead mark in a contested situation.

#25 Meg Hutchins

Hutchins’ on-field leadership is a huge asset in her game. She played the majority of her career in defence for the Pies but often found herself inside 50 against the Bombers. She did extremely well in the role, kicking a brilliant long-range goal. Hutchins took some nice marks and used them to get and go. Executed some clean run and carry and was so composed with ball in hand. It’s almost as if the ball just flew on her chest at multiple times because she was marking it so cleanly.

#28 Sarah Perkins

Perkins was the standout in terms of marks on the day. Whether it was contested or on a lead, you just knew she was going to clunk the ball. She was excellent in a one-on-one contest and often worked her opponent under the ball. She never took her eyes off the footy. Perkins also demonstrated her agility with a great side step. What stands out about Perkins is that she always backs herself on a set shot, as she would mark the ball and turn around straight away to begin her run-up. She kicked two goals for the game and got reward for her hard work inside 50.

#35 Clare O’Donnell

Ran hard throughout the game and didn’t stop trying for the Hawks. Displayed quick hands and also used the ball well by foot. O’Donnell kicked a really nice goal in the third quarter to put Hawks 28 points in front. Really good work ethic and was a key cog in the contest.

#6 Julia Crockett-Grills

Crockett-Grills was really lively around the contest and did some nice things with the ball in hand. Executed a great fend-off and delivered a stunning blind kick. Leapt fantastically in the air and took the mark on the chest. Delivered a great handball under pressure and followed up her kick. Took a nice agile mark inside 50, where lots of her hard work was done.

#9 Melissa Kuys

Delivered a great kick into space under pressure. Was running hard all game and executed some nice pressure acts throughout. Laid a wonderful run-down tackle where she showed electric pace.

Weekend Wash-up: VFLW – Round 1

AN eventful round one saw Carlton, Collingwood, Geelong, NT and Hawthorn emerge as winners. Many AFLW stars had fantastic performances but so did the lesser-known players, who stood up on the big stage. AFL Draft Central will produce a weekly comprehensive wrap that highlights the good performances, the flow of each game and all the best stats. 

 

Carlton 9.5 (59) defeated Southern Saints 5.7 (37)

Carlton has kick-started its Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season off on the right foot with a 22-point victory over the inexperienced Southern Saints. It was danger signs early for the Frankston-based Saints, with Carlton piling on 5.3 to 0.0 in the opening term as livewire forward Darcy Vescio booted three first-quarter goals. But after quarter time it was much closer, with the Saints booting five goals to four, including four in the second term, with one end clearly being the scoring end with 13 of the game’s 14 goals being kicked up the one end.

For Carlton, Vescio was lively booting 3.1 from 17 disposals and five marks, while Breann Moody collected 17 disposals, took three marks and laid two tackles. Uncompromising midfielder Sarah Hosking was crucial on the inside, laying 10 tackles from 15 disposals and three marks, while also finishing with a goal. Madeline Keryk (13 kicks, four tackles) and Sophie Li (12 disposals, four tackles and one goal) were also impressive in the Blues’ win.

For the Saints, Alison Drennan laid a game-high 11 tackles to go with her 15 disposals, while Alison Brown topped the disposal winners for the Saints, totalling 17 disposals, and eight tackles in a strong performance. Samantha Johnson notched up 16 disposals, three marks and seven tackles, while Rhiannon Watt (14 disposals, four tackles) and Leah Olsen (13 disposals, two marks and six tackles) were also among the Saints’ best.

 

NT Thunder 12.14 (86) defeated Darebin Falcons 5.2 (32)

By: Michael Alvaro 

Darebin Falcons were dominated at their new home of Preston City Oval in the opening game of their title defence, falling by 54 points in their biggest loss since 2012.

In an explosive first half, the Thunder burst out to a 55-point lead with nine goals to one. While they were reigned back in the second half as the Falcons put on four goals to three, NT never really looked troubled. AFLW stars Chelsea Randall (23 disposals, five tackles, four marks, two goals) and Emma Swanson (31 disposals, five marks, three tackles, two goals) were impressive for the visitors, and simply looked a class above. Not to be outdone, Marijana Rajcic was ever-present up forward with 25 disposals, eight marks and 3.4 alongside Angela Foley (30 disposals, five marks, one goal).

Coming into the game, the story of the day was the debut of Hannah Mouncey, and she didn’t disappoint with 12 disposals, three tackles and one goal. While she still has a lot to work on, her second efforts were a good marker for her side. Mouncey’s Falcons teammate Meghan McDonald was her side’s best with 26 disposals and nine marks helping to alleviate much of the pressure that came Darebin’s way. She was aided by former-Northern Knight Maddy Guerin, who looked good at the stoppages with 16 disposals, four marks and four tackles on a tough day where the NT ball-winners dominated.

 

Collingwood 7.8 (50) defeated Williamstown 4.8 (32)

Collingwood’s new VFLW side overcame a spirited opposition to record a tight 18-point victory in the wet at Warrawee Park in Oakleigh. The Magpies found themselves trailing at quarter time but booted five of the next six goals to open up a comfortable lead. The Seagulls hit back booting two goals before the final break, but could not penetrate the strong Collingwood defence in the final term, as the Magpies booted the final goal of the game to win in a contested game.

Jess Duffin was best on ground despite the loss, amassing 22 disposals, eight marks, four tackles and booting a goal against her AFLW side in what was a simply sensational performance. Western Bulldogs’ premiership player Jenna Bruton did not miss a beat since crossing from Box Hill, notching up 29 disposals, three marks and three tackles, while another AFLW player – Jasmine Garner – collected 21 disposals, six marks and three tackles, and even went back in defence in the final term. Andrea Cameron was the best of the non-AFLW players, notching up 12 disposals, four marks and three tackles in a strong defensive game.

For the winners, Sarah Dargan lapped up the midfield minutes, having the ball on a string with 24 disposals and six tackles, almost capitalising on a goal from a clever snap, but it just missed. Sarah D’Arcy was sensational in defence for the Magpies, racking up 17 disposals, eight marks and laying seven tackles, while Jaimee Lambert collected 16 disposals – 13 kicks – and booted two goals in the forward half, while also providing plenty of defensive pressure with eight tackles. Others who impressed included Emily Browning (six disposals, five tackles and a booming goal) and captain Jessica Andrews with 13 disposals, two marks, two tackles and countless rebounds.

 

Richmond 6.5 (41) defeated Western Bulldogs 0.3 (3)

By: James Halley

The VFLW Tigers made history on Saturday as they claimed their first ever victory in the competition against the Western Bulldogs at VU Whitten Oval. Richmond controlled the match from the start and played just like their male counterparts, with forward pressure a centrepiece of its opening match.

Co-vice captain, Kate Dixon kicked the first goal of the match and she managed to finish with a game-high four majors. Jenna Colwell (two goals, 17 disposals, three marks) helped Richmond to put the result beyond doubt, as her side kept the Bulldogs scoreless on the day. The duo worked together flawlessly in the forward line and were aided by Jacqui Graham, who was a general down back with 29 disposals, seven marks and four tackles.

The Western Bulldogs had hardly any of their AFLW premiership players in their round one side, with only Kirsten McLeod pulling on the red, white and blue on Saturday. This paved the way for some second-tier players to have their opportunity on the big stage, and Emma Mackay was one to stand up. She had plenty of the ball all afternoon, racking up 24 disposals and clunking eight marks. Hayley Wildes (28 disposals, four marks) and Tayla Dinuccio (12 disposals, seven tackles) also had notable performances for the Dogs.

 

Geelong 7.10 (52) defeated Melbourne University 2.1 (13)

Geelong has started its season off with a big win, toppling Melbourne University with a 39-point victory. It was a tight opening half, with Geelong not capitalising on their shots on goal, booting two majors from eight scoring shots, while the Mugars booted 1.1 to remain just 11 points down at half-time. A five goals to one second half was ultimately the difference however, as the Cats skipped away to open their 2018 account in style.

Renee Garing was sensational with 30 disposals, three marks and nine tackles, while Melbourne AFLW midfielder Richelle Cranston notched up 20 disposals, five marks and two tackles, while Danielle Orr was the key goalkicker on the day, finishing the game with three majors from 12 disposals and four marks. Krista Woodroffe was good in defence with 11 disposals and eight tackles, while Hayley Trevean collected 21 disposals, three marks and three tackles.

For Melbourne University, Sophie Abbatangelo starred in her first game for the Mugars, picking up 20 disposals, two marks and five tackles, while Hannah Ibrahim collected 17 disposals, two marks and seven tackles. Others who impressed for the losers were Clara Fitzpatrick (14 disposals, two marks and three tackles) and Bendigo Pioneers’ graduate Aisling Tupper (15 disposals, six tackles).

 

Hawthorn 8.12 (60) defeated Essendon 3.3 (21)

By: Julia Montesano 

It was an historic day for both sides, taking the field at the nostalgic Windy Hill ground. Hawthorn dominated play all day and reaped the rewards with a big win, but there was much to like about the Bombers.

All eyes were on Hawthorn’s AFLW players, and all of them delivered. Meg Hutchins was so clean with the ball in hand and kicked a lovely long-range goal, while Sarah Perkins displayed great hands throughout the day with three marks and kicked two goals to top off a great day inside 50. Julia Crockett-Grills was a star for the Hawks, amassing 20 disposals and clunking five marks, making her impact felt all over the ground. She was complemented by captain, Emma Mackie who displayed great ball use by hand and foot as well as throwing her body on the line to get the ball forward for the Hawks. She collected 19 disposals, took three marks and laid four tackles.

For Essendon, it was Tait Mackrill that displayed wonderful on-field leadership. She has magnificent ball-use by foot, with 11 of her 12 disposals being kicks. She also had clean hands, taking four marks. Rebecca Neaves was a star in defence, taking four big marks and working ruthlessly to slingshot the ball back into Essendon’s forward line. Calder Cannons premiership captain, Lauren Caruso had a promising start in the red and black, working well in defence and following the ball wherever it went. She amassed nine disposals and laid three tackles, earning a holding-the-ball free kick for one of them. Speaking of tackles, Hayley Bullas was the standout in that department, laying a game-high nine of them to go along with her seven disposals.