Tag: Eliza McNamara

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Sandringham Dragons

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at the Sandringham Dragons, who after losing their opening game to the GWV Rebels by five points, bounced back to have a couple of impressive wins in Rounds 2 and 3.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to GWV Rebels by 5 points
R2: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 44 points
R3: defeated Gippsland Power by 52 points

Missed opportunities prevented the Dragons from finishing the first three rounds undefeated, as inaccuracy plagued them in Round 1, going down to the Rebels. They sorted that out the week after with a big win over Bendigo Pioneers, and then set up a 52-point win over Gippsland Power thanks to a dominant first half performance in Morwell.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Alice Burke (19.0 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.0 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 2.7 rebounds)

The back-to-back club best and fairest winner continued her terrific NAB League Girls career with another sensational start to the season. She averaged 19 disposals per game and continued to apply the tackling pressure she has been known for over her time. Along with that, she showed she can play inside or outside roles, moving the ball well in transition from defence to attack.

Sarah Hartwig (15.0 disposals, 4.3 marks, 3.0 tackles, 1.3 inside 50s, 2.7 rebounds)

The reliable defender was able to taste some action up the field this season and showed she has the capacity to play in the midfield if required. Her reading of the ball, intercept marking and attack on the ball are among her strengths, with one highlight play in the opening round against the Rebels showing what she can do. Winning the ball at full speed at half-back, she managed to evade a number of opponents and take a bounce, putting it lace out inside 50.

Bella Eddey (17.7 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.3 tackles, 3.7 inside 50s, 2 goals)

The classy forward is ever-damaging when inside 50 and is one of better ball users in the competition. She booted the two goals in her first three games, able to rotate between midfield and forward, and often used to hit up difficult kicks inside 50 to make life easier for her forwards. She can play multiple roles in the forward half and offers a point of difference to many other mid-forwards with her extra class and kicking ability.

Eliza McNamara (17.3 disposals, 2.3 marks, 5.7 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s, 2 goals)

The tough midfielder/forward attacks the ball with no regrets and is not afraid to take on opponents much taller than herself. She is a work horse when it comes to her repeat running and ability to just make contest after contest. In terms of 2020, she showed great forward pressure and capped off her hard work with two goals, while being able to rotate through the middle and find plenty of the ball herself on the way to almost six tackles per game.

Abbi Moloney (10.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 2.0 tackles, 1.3 inside 50s, 8 goals)

The competition’s second leading goal kicker bounced back from not getting on the board in Round 1, to booting bags of three and five in Rounds 2 and 3. She provided a strong target inside 50, and averaged the 3.3 marks to go with her 10.3 disposals as her side’s main source of scoring. A traditional forward who has a kick-first mentality having 30 kicks from 31 disposals, Moloney has been a big improver this season as a top ager.

Others who have stood out: Winnie Laing, Sofia Hurley, Bridie Hipwell, Daisy Walker

The Dragons captain was unlucky not to be in the top group and deserving if we extended it out to a top six because she has been just as impressive as those above. Averaging a team-high 20 disposals, she has just put in four quarter performances and been consistent from the first game to the last winning plenty of the ball. Whilst those six, and Walker (who has enjoyed a strong start to the season averaging 15.7 disposals and 4.0 tackles per game) are top agers, the remaining two named are in their first seasons. Hurley and Hipwell are among a host of Dragons who are two years away from their draft year, though they have had a big impact already, averaging a combined 26 disposals, five marks and six tackles between them.

Smith and McKenzie lead DC Medal count in postponed NAB League Girls

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition players, staff and families wait for confirmation on whether or not any more football will go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Draft Central thought it would update the leaderboard of the DC Medal count we have been taking throughout the first three rounds of the season. While we had hoped that this would end up being a full season count, there are two clear leaders who have emerged from the pack. It might have been difficult with some teams only playing two games compared to three, but no player that played two games could have caught the equal leaders even with a full five votes in a hypothetical third game.

Dandenong Stingrays’ Tyanna Smith and Ellie McKenzie lead all-comers in what could realistically be the end result of the Medal count, which means in the inaugural DC Medal, two players will share the award. Both players polled 14 votes in their first three games, including two best-on-grounds and one four-vote game to ensure that no one else could catch them. If the season is potentially called off in the future, then both the players will be announced winners. Two of the stars of the competition, Smith has helped Dandenong Stingrays to a ripping start in the NAB League Girls season, with her side winning its first two games against Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons, before running into a McKenzie-inspired Northern Knights outfit in Round 3. The Knights’ co-captain was sensational and picked up her second best on ground to tie with Smith in the same game after the Stingrays speedster picked up the four votes.

After the two clears in McKenzie and Smith clears is another Northern Knights player, and a couple of Sandringham Dragons. McKenzie’s teammate and forward, Alyssa Bannan sits three votes behind in third with 11 to her name and the player responsible for picking up the best on ground votes back in Round 1 against Calder Cannons for McKenzie to receive the four. Rounding out the top five are Sandringham Dragons’ duo, Sarah Hartwig (10 votes) and Alice Burke (nine) who were both enjoying terrific starts to the season. Behind the top five are a pack of players all on eight votes, including Western Jets’ duo, Montana Ham and Isabella Pritchard, Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher and the only player who has played the two games inside the top 10 – Laura Gardiner. Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis and Sandringham Dragons’ Winnie Laing sit on seven and six votes respectively.

DC Medal:

[14] Tyanna Smith (DS), Ellie McKenzie (NK)

[11] Alyssa Bannan (NK)
[10] Sarah Hartwig (SD)
[9] Alice Burke (SD)

[8] Laura Gardiner (GF), Montana Ham (WJ), Isabelle Pritchard (WJ), Olivia Meagher (ER)
[7] Georgie Prespakis (CC)
[6] Winnie Laing (SD)

[5] Jess Fitzgerald (NK), Charlotte Baskaran (WJ), Tarni Brown (ER), Alice Astbury (GWV), Grace Hay (MB), Charlie Rowbottom (OC), Bella Eddey (SD), Mimi Hill (OC)
[4] Grace Dicker (CC), Abbi Moloney (SD), Maggie Caris (GWV), Amber Micallef (OC), Kasey Lennox (CC), Alice O’Loughlin (OC), Brooke Hards (BP), Darcy Moloney (GF), Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
[3] Amelia Velardo (WJ), Jemma Finning (BP), Isabella Khoury (WJ), Taylah Morton (OC), Zoe Hill (DS), Eliza James (OC), Mackenzie Eardley (DS), Poppy Schaap (GF), Jessica Zakkour (CC)
[2] Elizabeth Snell (BP), Megan Fitzsimon (GP), Matilda Hardy (ER), Ella Friend (GWV), Rianna Thiele (OC), Annabel Strahan (BP), Tarrah Delgado (NK), Emily Shepherd (DS), Amelia James (OC), Georgia Grimmer (DS), Matilda Van Berkel (GP), Eliza McNamara (SD)
[1] Freda Puruntatameri (CC), Perri King (TD), Amber Clarke (DS), Kate Adams (MB), Amanda Ling (OC), Annie Lee (GF), Zali Spencer (MB), Jorja Livingstone (ER), Shanara Notman (GP), Renee Saulitis (GWV)

 

Dragons overpower Gippsland for second-straight win

THE Sandringham Dragons have emerged victorious against the Gippsland Power by a thumping 52-point margin after a dominant first half display. Despite travelling to Morwell for the encounter, the Dragons looked right at home from the opening bounce and kept the Power scoreless for the entire first half.

The stoppage work of the Dragons was second-to-none as the visitors managed to get more numbers around the ball and attack with speed. The likes of Winnie Laing and Abbi Moloney proved to be potent goal threats in the early stages, with the latter finishing with five on the day. While the Power struggled to clear their defensive 50 at the best of times, any threat eventually making it toward Sandringham’s defence was dealt with by the poised Pia Staltari in the first term. However, it was the forward line pressure and midfield of the Dragons which was the highlight of the quarter. Bridie Hipwell was a key contributor for the visitors, with nimble footwork and penetrating use of the ball making her a threat.

In comparison, Gippsland lacked the same structure and at times were overwhelmed by Sandringham’s running power. A boundary thrown-in at the eight-minute mark of the term was emblematic of the quarter for the Power, as miscommunication allowed the Dragons three unmarked players surrounding the stoppage in the centre of the wing. Luckily, the dogmatic pressure of Gippsland’s Megan Fitzsimon saved the Power from another penetrating Dragons attack on this occasion. Fitzsimon continued this fighting spirit throughout the contest and finished with 23 touches and two goals in a valiant display in midfield. In combination with the dominant ruckwork of Matilda Van Berkel, Fitzsimon managed to provide the Power with almost their only forward movement of the half, with two impressive centre clearances early in the second term.

Yet these were easily repelled, as the Power were unable to lay a finger on the rebounding potency Sandringham again in the second stanza. At times it looked like circle work for the visitors as their midfield dominance was put on full display. Sandringham finished the term dominating in almost every statistic, including holding a 25 to six advantage in marks over the Power, outlining the control and time given to the Dragons midfield. Alice Burke started to impose herself on the contest during the quarter, with her damaging kicking being put to good use as she finished the match with three inside 50’s and four rebound 50’s along with 23 touches and 10 tackles. Eliza McNamara kicked both of her two majors in this quarter as she proved to be a handful for the Gippsland backline. Moloney was also the grateful recipient of some easy goals thanks to the work of Hipwell and Laing. The former impressively burst forward from the centre in early stages of the term and unleashed a damaging kick inside 50 into the waiting arms of Moloney. Laing’s highlights were more based around terrific tackling pressure up forward, creating chances for her teammates. At the main break, the Dragons held a crushing 53-point advantage.

In the second half, the Power were more competitive and managed to win the third quarter as the likes of Grace McRae and Sunday Brisbane stepped up to help the fighting efforts of Van Berkel and Fitzsimon. Fitzsimon received reward for her effort as she booted two goals in the half, while Van Berkel dominated the hitouts to give Gippsland a 35 to 12 advantage by the end of the match.

Despite being beaten in the third on the scoreboard by seven points, the Dragons still found some bright spots. Daisy Walker had 15 of her 22 touches for the match in the quarter and Sofia Hurley won some contested ball in midfield. In the fourth, Sandringham again showed their class to finish a more limited number of chances. Moloney capped off an excellent performance with her fifth major on the back of a strong mark up forward. Burke and Laing again spent much of the term proving themselves to be a class above, with Burke controlling stoppages with poise and Laing causing havoc up forward with pace and tenacity.

As the final siren sounded in Morwell, the Dragons had recorded 82 more disposals than the Power and controlled the tempo for most of the affair. Moloney’s five goals and 90 fantasy points make her appear as a likely contender for best-on-ground for the Dragons, yet many of her majors were relatively straightforward finishes. Burke’s game-high 23 touches puts her in contention, however, when the game was there to be won in the first term, Laing proved to be key in breaking the game open for the victorious Dragons, while Sarah Hartwig was busy once again across the ground.. Despite a crushing first half, a competitive second half will give Gippsland hope for the rest of the season.

GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 (22)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 3.3 | 8.5 | 9.6 | 11.8 (74)

GOALS:

Gippsland: M. Fitzsimon 2, J. Sochackyj.
Sandringham: A. Moloney 5, E. McNamara 2, W. Lang, B. Hipwell, K. Lynch, N. Borg.

ADC BEST:

Sandringham: A. Burke, A. Moloney, W. Lang, S. Hartwig, B. Hipwell, D. Walker
Gippsland: M. Fitzsimon, M. Van Berkel, G. McRae, S. Brisbane, S. Notman

DC Medal:

5 – Alice Burke (SD)
4 – Abbi Moloney (SD
3 – Winnie Laing (SD)
2 – Megan Fitzsimon (GP)
1 – Sarah Hartwig (SD)

NAB League Girls preview: Round 3 – Undefeated sides clash on Saturday

A COUPLE of undefeated games open the weekend in a top three clash between Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays at RMIT Bundoora, before the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels tackle the Western Jets in Ballarat. The Sunday trio of games has a couple of sides searching for their first wins of the season with Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers going head-to-head and Eastern Ranges hosting Tasmania Devils, while Gippsland Power returns from a week off to face the breakeven side of Sandringham Dragons.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 3 – 14/03/2020
11:00am
RMIT University Bundoora

A top three clash between the second placed Dandenong Stingrays and third ranked Northern Knights opens the round with the Stingrays having had impressive wins over Eastern Ranges (50 points) and Calder Cannons (18). The Knights also knocked off the Cannons the week before (six points) before enjoying a more comfortable win over Geelong Falcons (25). Both sides have made a number of changes, with Saige Bayne returning to the side after a long layoff, while Georgia Grimmer and Jemma Radford are also back into the side up opposite ends of the ground. The Knights have also made a number of changes to the side in anticipation for the clash with at least four confirmed changes and an additional three added to the extended bench. Already the head-to-head that could decide the result is between in-form forward, Alyssa Bannan (seven goals) and reliable defender, Zoe Hill inside the Knights’ forward half. An equally eye-catching matchup will be Knights’ co-captain Jess Fitzgerald going head-to-head against Dandenong star, Tyanna Smith with the pair sharing similar skill and footy IQ making it a must-watch clash. Abbey Jordan has been thrown around a bit this season but now the Stingrays captain is in attack to potentially lock the ball in at every opportunity, while Maeve Chaplin‘s ability at half-back should provide some good run. In the midfield, Ellie McKenzie and Ash Snow will provide power onball, while Amber Clarke and Emily Shepherd have added speed to run the ball down the field. The Knights will be favourites but the Stingrays have shown an ability to run the ball and not back down from a challenge.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 3 – 14/03/2020
11:30am
MARS Stadium

In a second game between undefeated sides, fourth placed Western Jets travel to Mars Stadium to meet the sixth placed GWV Rebels from 11.30am. Both these sides have some great young talent coming through and the Jets have had a win against Bendigo Pioneers and a draw with Murray Bushrangers over the first two rounds, whilst the Rebels’ come-from-behind victory against Sandringham Dragons in Round 1 was their only game so far this season following a bye in Round 2. Renee Saulitis proved the get-out-of-jail free card in Round 1 with a couple of last quarter goals to sink the Dragons, and she has been named back in her damaging position inside 50. Fellow AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabella Simmons is also in the forward half, while Maggie Caris will look to take advantage of the height difference over the Jets’ smaller ruck division. Amelia Velardo has the athleticism to get the job done at ground level even if she does not win the tap and provides a “fourth midfielder” around the stoppages. Alongside her is top-age AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabelle Pritchard who is coming off an impressive 25-disposal game last week, as is Charlotte Baskaran who plays off half-back but can push up the ground to impact the midfield. In the middle of the ground is fellow bottom-ager Montana Ham who has been the Jets’ best across the two games this season. Caitlin Sargent has been a target inside 50 for the Jets, while she will likely have Rebels’ Crystal Summers for company after the defender was a star in Round 1 for the Ballarat-based side. The Rebels’ half-back line is quite strong with Nyakoat Dojiok providing speed and dare out of defence, while Lilli Condon impacts the game through the midfield and up forward. At home the Rebels have an advantage, but both sides have an entertaining brand of end-to-end football.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
12:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

With three games on Sunday, the first is a clash between Gippsland Power and Sandringham Dragons at Morwell Recreation Reserve after the game was moved from Churchill. The Power will be well rested after a spirited fight against Geelong Falcons in the opening round and a bye in Round 2. The Dragons on the other hand let slip a real chance in Round 1 with inaccurate kicking to go down to the GWV Rebels, before bouncing back with an impressive win over Bendigo Pioneers last week. Back at home, the Power showed their have a number of strengths through the ruck and in defence, and if they are able to quell the Dragons’ scoring or force them into making mistakes, then they are a real chance of victory. Sandringham impressed last week and have plenty of ball-winning midfielders who step up when required and if they convert their chances inside 50, then they will go a long way to taking home the points in the contest. Matilda Van Berkel was best-on for the Power in their Round 1 win over Geelong Falcons and will look to take advantage against the Dragons. The key for the Power will be to try and win the clearances against an experienced Dragons midfield, as captain Winnie Laing, Alice Burke and Bella Eddey round out a strong starting core. Megan Fitzsimon is the Power’s sole AFL Women’s Academy member, but Grace McRae is another player not afraid of winning contested ball, while Lily-Rose Williamson is a bottom-ager to watch over the coming years. Shanara Notman is a strong overhead mark and will look to chop off any Dragons forward thrusts, while Leyla Berry had a successful return in Round 1 after taking the 2019 season off. Sarah Hartwig has been named on the wing for the second successive week, while Eliza McNamara provides forward pressure inside 50, and key target Abbi Moloney booted three goals in the Dragons win last week and could be one to watch.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
1:00pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve

Calder Cannons hits the road to face Bendigo Pioneers from 1pm at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. Last year’s grand finalists are yet to get a win on the board, but have had a tough draw to open the season, falling to reining premiers Northern Knights, and a vastly improved side, Dandenong Stingrays in the first fortnight. The Pioneers are also yet to taste victory with losses to Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons in the opening couple of rounds. Given the loss of co-captain Brooke Hards for the clash, Bendigo will be up against it taking on a determined Calder side that could well have won its two games had it had a bit more luck. The Pioneers do welcome back Elizabeth Snell into the fold with the midfielder/forward adding some class and skill to the midfield group, while Annabel Strahan has pushed up into the midfield after being a reliable source in the back 50 last week. Tara Slender and Jemma Finning provide good intercept and rebounding capabilities, while Madeline Marks has had an impact through the ruck this season. The Cannons have a strong combination named at the key defensive posts with Kasey Lennox and Tamsin Crook, while Crook is also able to rotate with AFL Women’s National Academy member, Tahlia Gillard who will start forward as both can play at either end. Georgie Prespakis, Laura Cocomello and Jessica Zakkour have all been in good form this season, while Emelia Yassir is a clever forward who can push into that midfield rotation. Calder should breakthrough for its first win, but the Pioneers do have the home ground advantage which counts for something.

EASTERN RANGES v. TASSIE DEVILS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
1:00pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

At the same time as the Bendigo game, two sides searching for their first win battle it out at the newly renovated Kilsyth Recreation Reserve. The Eastern Ranges will enjoy playing where they train and welcoming the less-familiar Tasmania Devils will give them a huge confidence boost. The Devils were overwhelmed by a rampaging Oakleigh side that could well contend for this year’s NAB League Girls flag in Round 2, marking a tough initiation to their first full-time season. The Ranges had a bye in Round 2 after a 50-point defeat at the hands of another undefeated side in Dandenong Stingrays. Given the experience the Ranges have at the NAB League level – making the finals last season and pushing the Northern Knights in the preliminary finals – they should have the wood over the competition newcomers, though the Devils’ defensive pressure was impressive despite the heavy Round 1 defeat. Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown provide hardness and class in equal measure on the inside, while Jorja Livingstone showed impressive athleticism bursting out of stoppages in the Round 1 loss. Key target, Jess Grace has been named at full-forward, while three players will make their debut in the game for the Ranges. Amy Prokopiec could not have done much more at full-back last week, saving a number of goal-scoring opportunities for the Chargers, and she along with Camilla Taylor provided some composure in the match. Jemma Webster provided some speed out of defence in Round 2, while Kara Hennessy rotated through the ruck and could be a target inside 50 for the Apple Isle based side.

2020 NAB League Girls Team of the Week: Round 1

IN a new-look amalgamation of Draft Central‘s Team of the Week and player notes, we name our Round 1 NAB League Girls’ Team of the Week and explain why each player has been chosen. The 24-player team returns with three emergencies this year, and it was an even spread across the board. All notes are opinion-based of the individual Draft Central writer. Round 1 winners, Oakleigh Chargers, Northern Knights and Geelong Falcons all had three players in the Team of the Week, while fellow winners, Dandenong Stingrays, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets had two apiece. Narrow losers in Round 1, Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons had two each as well, as did Gippsland Power, while Bendigo Pioneers, Eastern Ranges and Murray Bushrangers had the one representative. Factoring in emergencies, Oakleigh Chargers had the most players overall with four, while Sandringham and Western moved up to three.

BACKS:

Crystal Summers (GWV Rebels) – 13 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 6 rebounds
The rebounding defender was lively throughout the contest, being a constant threat coming off half-back and pushing up the ground to be a key reason behind the Rebels’ success on the weekend. She was calm and composed with ball-in-hand and generally made the right decisions as one of the standouts.

Mindy Quade (Murray Bushrangers) – 9 disposals, 2 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 8 rebounds
Her vision off half-back and spotting the ball in transition was a highlight, as she stood up under fierce pressure from the Chargers during the Bushrangers’ loss. She was often the first to intercept and disrupted the offensive flow inside defensive 50.

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels) – 10 disposals, 3 marks, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
Always having more impact than the statistics might suggest, Dojiok had a number of impressive runs down the ground and took the game on with eye-catching speed and evasion. She still has plenty of development left in her, but has clearly improved over the past couple of seasons and is hard to stop when she gets going.

HALF-BACKS:

Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons) – 14 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebounds
The standout player on the day despite being on the losing side, Hartwig was a force in defence with a number of intercept marks and rebounds, with one passage of play in particular standing out where she hit the ball at full speed, collected it cleanly, sidestepped an opponent and kicked neatly inside 50.

Mackenzie Eardley (Dandenong Stingrays) – 9 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 4 rebounds
The centre half-back certainly stood tall in the back six despite being a bottom-ager, taking a number of contested grabs, or providing a contest where she was able to calmly clear the ball under pressure. She also laid a massive tackle to win a free kick and it led to her side kicking a goal off that chain of possessions.

Charlotte Baskaran (Western Jets) – 19 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 5 rebounds
A clean user of the ball, Baskaran would roam up and down the ground providing great service between the arcs and dropping back to help her defenders with the natural half-back another bottom-ager in the side.

CENTRES:

Darcy Moloney (Geelong Falcons) – 28 disposals, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s
She was a force in midfield for the Falcons during their win, often releasing teammates in space with her run and carry and quick handballs to open up passages of play down the field. A dominant player early, Moloney finds space where very few can and is quick to release by hand or foot, and equally as damaging defensively, laying some big tackles.

Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays) – 26 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebounds, 1 goal
Absolutely outstanding performance, particularly in the second quarter where she constantly attacked going inside 50, then snapped one of the goal’s of the round close to the boundary line. Also did a number of defensive things right with some big tackles around the ground.

Mimi Hill (Oakleigh Chargers) – 29 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
The captain starred in her side’s big win over Murray with a second-high round of 29 disposals, and was often seen pumping the ball inside 50, showing clean hands and precision disposal. One of the top performers across the entire weekend.

HALF-FORWARDS:

Jessica Zakkour (Calder Cannons) – 18 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebounds, 2 goals
Rotated between midfield and forward, often sneaking out the back to find space and capitalise, whilst showing some terrific defensive pressure. Was arguably Calder’s best in the narrow loss to Northern, and found plenty of the football while laying eight tackles.

Montana Ham (Western Jets) – 19 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
Got our full votes for her performance in Western’s win over Bendigo, looking impressive across the ground with her movement and ability to drive the ball forward in transition. She seemed to be everywhere on the ground and despite being a bottom-ager racked up a game-high 19 touches, and had the play of the game with a multiple-bounce effort down the wing kicking forward which almost led to a goal.

Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons) – 20 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 6 inside 50s
Played between midfield and half-forward, McNamara had the most disposals on the ground in Sandringham’s loss to the Rebels. Her defensive pressure and running ability is elite, and she just keeps pushing throughout the four quarters to try and do everything she can for her side. She worked tirelessly for the Dragons applying tackles and looking inside 50.

FORWARDS:

Alice O’Loughlin (Oakleigh Chargers) – 18 disposals, 3 marks, 1 inside 50, 3 goals
Her timing and speed off the mark caught the eye inside 50, making the most of her opportunities in front of goal. She used the space around her well to find the football and took advantage of the loose ball inside 50 to capitalise with three majors.

Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights) – 11 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 5 goals
Kicked a round-high five goals and looks a good candidate for one of the top goalkickers this season, taking a number of good grabs with her vertical leap and athleticism the highlight. It was clear that defenders cannot allow Bannan to get goalside or she will create something out of nothing with a couple of clever snaps close to goal adding to her tally on the day.

Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons) – 24 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
Started forward and roamed up the ground to be the third highest disposal winner with her ability to lay some strong tackles and show a high work rate. She just pushes time and time again across four quarters, and was rewarded with a goal, while setting up a number of teammates with scoring opportunities.

RUCKS:

Matilda Van Berkel (Gippsland Power) – 15 disposals, 6 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebounds, 28 hitouts
The standout Gippsland Power player in the loss to Geelong Falcons, Van Berkel had to step up to play ruck and was ultra-impressive with a round-high 28 hitouts, as well as finding plenty of the football around the ground with strength overhead and an ability to cover the ground well with hard running.

Brooke Hards (Bendigo Pioneers) – 18 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
The Pioneers’ co-captain picked up where she left off last season, being a shining light in her side’s loss to the Jets. Hards was constantly getting involved either offensively or defensively, and was fierce around the stoppages. She had a team-high 18 touches and as she has become known for, laid a truckload of tackles in the process.

Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons) – 38 disposals, 1 mark, 14 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 1 goal
Our Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 1, Gardiner was simply unstoppable with a ridiculous 38 touches and 14 tackles, pumping the ball in time and time again, and helping free up her teammates around the ground. She ran at a 50 per cent balance between kicks and handballs, and while most of her touches were often in possession chains, her work rate showed just how much she works around the ground.

INTERCHANGE:

Jess Fitzgerald (Northern Knights) – 15 disposals, 1 mark, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
Last year’s best-on in the grand final started her 2020 year with a strong performance, moving well around the ground and showing off her speed in close and precision kicking. She possesses good footy IQ and was one of the best Knights on the day during their win over the Cannons.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers) – 18 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 goal
Showed clean hands and vision by propelling the ball inside 50 and finding targets in there with a massive seven inside 50s. She also provided plenty of defensive pressure with strong tackling and forcing errors from the Bushrangers, working well through the midfield to drive the ball in transition.

Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) – 16 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
It was not a great day for Eastern, but Meagher never gave in as she battled and bruised her way through four quarters for her side. She showed great leadership and tried to will her side on, laying crunching tackles and bumps, often bouncing straight up or off opponents with a hungry desire to win the ball. Meagher also tried getting the ball down the field to set up scoring opportunities and was a standout for her team.

Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights) – 12 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s
Another player who had a great impact that stats might suggest, McKenzie kept battling on the inside and then going forward with her strength and power a highlight during Round 1. She adds a great dimension to the Knights’ midfield and she was able to win the ball in tight, extract it and get the ball out, going on a couple of short runs to try and break down the opposition defensive structures.

Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power) – 11 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 rebounds, 2 hitouts
The Gippsland Power overager showed why she was a terrific choice to come back as a 19-year-old player this year, standing tall in the face of a wave of Falcons attacks, with great strength in the air and ability to move the ball out of defence. She sold a bit of candy in the process and was rock solid back there in defeat.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons) – 19 disposals, 1 mark, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
The highly-touted prospect had a solid game to start the season, not often getting too much free space, but still finding her fair share of the ball through the midfield. She was thrown around into different positions but still had an impact, and her work rate between the arcs was really impressive.

EMERGENCIES:

Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons) – 15 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 3 rebounds
The potential St Kilda father-daughter selection stood up in big moments and makes the trio of most unlucky to miss players after a solid performance. She can play just about anywhere and is able to break up the play with her ability to find space and short kick to teammates on angles to disrupt the opposition’s zones.

Amelia James (Oakleigh Chargers) – 19 disposals, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 6 hitouts, 2 goals
We could have included a heap of Oakleigh Chargers and James was the next one in line after an impressive two-goal performance inside 50. She is in her top-age year and showed she can pinch-hit in the ruck as well.

Amelia Velardo (Western Jets) – 16 disposals, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 4 hitouts
An eye-catching player across the ground and new into the team, Velardo showed some good athleticism coming out of the ruck at times and had a really busy start to the game in Western’s win against Bendigo. She was able to drive the ball forward and be amongst it in close, often firing out quick handballs to teammates in space.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 1

B: Crystal Summers (GWV) – Mindy Quade (MB) – Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
HB: Sarah Hartwig (SD) – Mackenzie Eardley (DS) – Charlotte Baskaran (WJ)
C: Darcy Moloney (GF) – Tyanna Smith (DS) – Mimi Hill (OC)
HF: Jessica Zakkour (CC) – Montana Ham (WJ) – Eliza McNamara (SD)
F: Alice O’Loughlin (OC) – Alyssa Bannan (NK) – Poppy Schaap (GF)
R: Matilda Van Berkel (GP) – Brooke Hards (BP) – Laura Gardiner (GF)
INT: Jess Fitzgerald (NK) – Eliza James (OC) – Olivia Meagher (ER) – Ellie McKenzie (NK) – Shanara Notman (GP) – Georgie Prespakis (CC)
EMG: Alice Burke (SD) – Amelia James (OC) – Amelia Velardo (WJ)

OTHERS CONSIDERED:

It was a really even round of performances this weekend, with a number of players making the shortlist for the team but just missing out. Among them were Calder Cannons’ duo Tamsin Crook and Emelia Yassir, Sandringham Dragons’ duo Winnie Laing and Pia Staltari, GWV Rebels’ duo Renee Saulitis and Lilli Condon, Northern Knights’ Ash Snow, Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling, Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning, Eastern Ranges’ Jorja Livingston and Dandenong Stingrays’ Georgia Grimmer.

Saulitis bags two last quarter goals to sink Dragons in thriller

BACK-to-back goals in the final term from AFL Women’s National Academy member, Renee Saulitis has helped Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels get over the line against an unlucky Sandringham Dragons outfit, 4.2 (26) to 2.9 (21). From the get-go the fierce tackling pressure of the Dragons was evident with all of their onballers and forwards applying crunching tackles and bumps. It was just cleanliness and finishing ability inside forward 50 that was ultimately the difference in the game, with both defences holding up well, but the Rebels making the most of their chances. For most of the match it looked like Sandringham’s dominance in its forward half would surely be enough, with the Dragons having 13 more inside 50s (37-24) and five more scoring shots (11-6) but no matter how much pressure was applied, the Rebels were there to mop it up. It was indeed a strange game, with many of Sandringham’s top players among the best on the ground, but it was such an even team performance from the home team that got them up by five points in the contest.

Throughout the match, Rebels’ ruck Maggie Caris was too tall for her opposing rucks, almost exclusively giving her midfielders first chance at the footy. Despite this, the Dragons mids were more prevalent, led by the likes of Alice Burke, Eliza McNamara and skipper, Winnie Laing. All three found plenty of the ball, and their defensive pressure set the tone for the rest of the team. The bad luck for the visitors started early when Tayla Jones did everything right to soccer a ball inside 50 and run onto it a couple of metres out from goal, only to rush the kick and put it into the post. The Dragons held the ball inside their forward half for the first six minutes as their defensive line held strongly in the middle of the ground. When the Rebels went in however, it looked clean and direct, but the Dragons still were able to mop it up. Led by Sarah Hartwig in the back 50, the Dragons repelled inside 50 time and time again, and Jones had another chance whilst being tackled but her snap went to the right. With just their second inside 50, the Rebels drove the dagger in with a well positioned mark from Lilli Condon who turned around and slotted the opener of the match 11 minutes in. The ball spent a lot of time in between the arcs as Hartwig and her opposite half-back, Nyakoat Dojiok kept mopping up and creating run to set the play up for their respective teams. Late in the term, the Dragons smothered a ball from a kick-in but the next handball missed the target and allowed the Rebels to get numbers back and head into quarter time with a three-point lead.

The Dragons finally got reward for effort in the second quarter, with Laing, McNamara and Hartwig all impressing, and it only took 90 seconds for Pia Staltari to slot her side’s first with a nice goal on the run and composure to-boot. In contrast to the Rebels success from limited entries in the first term, they were getting more inside 50s in the second, but Hartwig continually came across to spoil or intercept mark and get the ball moving down the ground. In one instance, the half-back won a one-on-two contest, kicked out of the back 50, then backed up to win the next touch once it came back to hit-up Burke on the wing. The play was breaking down for the Dragons at half-forward with the Rebels defence providing pressure and the Dragons not able to break through. Ironically, the hap-hazardous play helped Sandringham to its second goal, with McNamara marking, stepping around her opponent and just putting it inside 50 for Nayely Borg to swoop on, spin and kick it through the goals in the dying seconds to hand the Dragons a well deserved 11-point lead having held the Rebels’ scoreless in the term. The third quarter was much of the same, but with both defences holding up. Neither forward line could breakthrough for another score without a bit of luck, and running back towards goal, Hartwig copped a horrible bounce which went past her back into her opponent’s path for Tahlia Meier to boot the ball through and give GWV a sniff once again. It was the only score of the entire quarter despite the influence of McNamara and Laing who were picking up big numbers.

The final term belonged to Saulitis who when everyone around her was fumbling under pressure and missing achievable shots at goal, she was clean and accurate. Edging close to the five-minute mark of the final term, the talented utility scooped up the ball turned and snapped as she was being dragged down for it to dribble home off a bounce from 30m and put her team in front. Her teammates flocked to her, but it would not be the last time, as despite both side having chances – including one to Meier which went through but was touched by the pack in the goalsquare – it was not until Saulitis found space again inside 50 and marked with three and a half minutes left in the match. Her shot on a 45-degree angle was perfect and she handed her team what looked to be a game-winning seven-point lead. The last three minutes of the match were owned by Sandringham with the pressure gauge at full, but in a summary of the match, the Dragons could not kick one through the big sticks from two chances. Borg had an opportunity for her second off a contested mark but it drifted to the left, much like Chloe Saultry‘s chance in the last minute with a breeze impacting the kick at that end. By the time the Rebels had kicked out, it was five seconds on the clock and Chloe Summers – who had been another impressive Rebel on the day – marked and the siren sounded.

It was difficult to pick out best players, with Dojiok being a standout for her run and impact per possession, finishing with 11 disposals – 10 kicks – three marks and five tackles, while it was also hard to ignore Saulitis’ last quarter which won her side the game. Others who had moments for the winning side were Summers (13 disposals, four marks, six rebounds), Condon (13 disposals, two marks, six inside 50s and four rebounds) and Isabella Hill (19 disposals, five tackles and three rebounds). Caris was naturally dominant in the ruck with 24 hitouts to go with her eight disposals and three inside 50s, while for the Dragons, Hartwig was the clear best, thanks to 14 disposals, five marks two inside 50s and four rebounds. The midfield trio of McNamara (20 touches, three marks, four tackles and six inside 50s), Laing (19 touches, five tackles, five inside 50s and four rebounds) and Burke (15 disposals, two marks, four tackles and four rebounds) were all strong throughout, as both Eddey (15 disposals, three marks, three tackles and four inside 50s) and Staltari (15 disposals, two marks, two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal) also showed class in the game.

GWV REBELS 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 0.4 | 2.6 | 2.6 | 2.9 (21)

GOALS:

GWV: R. Saulitis 2, T. Meier, L. Condon.
Sandringham: N. Borg, P. Staltari.

BEST:

GWV: N. Dojiok, R. Saulitis, L. Condon, C. Summers, I. Hill
Sandringham: S. Hartwig, A. Burke, E. McNamara, W. Laing, P. Staltari

DC Medal:

5 – Sarah Hartwig (SD)
4 – Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
3 – Alice Burke (SD)
2 – Eliza McNamara (SD)
1 – Renee Saulitis (GWV)

*The DC Medal is a new initiative Draft Central is running where we vote for five players we thought had the most influence on the match. In this match there were more than 10 possible players who could have squeezed in there, but the standouts were the half-backs and midfielders, while Saulitis’ match-winning efforts saw her make it into the votes.

NAB League Girls preview: Round 1 – New talent to shine in opening round of action

NAB League Girls action is back on the agenda this weekend with a grand final rematch among a host of expected tight contests with all sides back on level pegging at 0-0 to start the season and hoping to kick-off their seasons with wins.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday, February 29, 10:15am
RMIT University Bundoora

The first game of the round is a fitting opener to the new NAB League Girls season, with Northern Knights hosting Calder Cannons at a refurbished RMIT University ground in the 2019 Grand Final rematch. The Knights had five players drafted last year, with the remainder signed up for state league level football in 2020, while the Cannons just had the two, but had a number of players on the periphery. Both these sides have plenty of talent with the Knights potentially a year ahead in development, finishing runner-up in 2018 before winning last year, while the Cannons made the grand final last season, and will be hoping to build on that this year. The Knights have five players in the National AFL Women’s Academy, led by Ellie McKenzie and last year’s grand final best on ground medallist, Jess Fitzgerald who are both amongst a strong midfield core. Fellow Academy member, Maeve Chaplin is also named onball, while Maykaylah Appleby will run down the wings as the sole middle-age Academy member. Alyssa Bannan is a leading target and strong overhead named at centre half-forward, and a battle with the likes of key backs, Tamsin Crook and Tahlia Gillard – the latter of whom is in the AFL Women’s Academy too will be a match-up to watch. The name that will always catch the eye is Georgie Prespakis, a 2021 draft prospect and sister of Carlton Rising Star, Madison. She is capable of anything and her battle with McKenzie will be intriguing. The Cannons also have some serious depth at their disposal, with Emelia Yassir and Kasey Lennox another couple of youngsters who made their debuts last season and looked at home. With Freda Puruntatameri playing with Palmerston in the NTFL Women’s competition up forward for the Cannons, there is plenty of X-factor there too.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday, February 29, 11:30am
City Oval Ballarat

Up in Ballarat, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels host the Sandringham Dragons in a battle between two sides who should improve on their 2019 placings. Both sides have a number of AFL Women’s Academy member with the Rebels (five) and the Dragons (three) both having some serious top-end talent. The Rebels have a strong spine with Maggie Caris likely to be the top ruck in the competition this year with her height and tap work causing problems for the opposition. Renee Saulitis has played up forward and down back, but is named in the middle, with her athleticism and ability to sidestep opponents a feature of her game. Along with Isabella Simmons who has also been named through the midfield, all three Academy members are very different and add varied elements to the game style. They will face an equally impressive midfield of Dragons’ captain Winnie Laing, potential St Kilda father-daughter selection, Alice Burke and Bella Eddey who provide a real hard edge to the onball brigade. Sarah Hartwig is one of a couple of premier rebounding defenders, reading the ball in flight so well and able to create a lot of offensive run while nullifying her opponent defensively. Playing at half-forward is Eliza McNamara who is a tackling machine and elite runner, who will work her opponent over, while Abbi Moloney lines up at full-forward to try and clunk a few grabs by outmuscling her opponent one-on-one. The Rebels will look to run the ball out of defence through Nyakoat Dojiok who is a 2021 draft prospect in the Academy, while Chloe Leonard has been named at full-forward for the Rebels who will look to have a spread of goalkickers rather than a dominant target.

GEELONG FALCONS v. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday, February 29, 12:00pm
RMIT University Bundoora 

After its first finals loss last season, Geelong Falcons return to the NAB League Girls with a hunger to get back to the heights of 2018, starting off the 2020 season with a clash against Gippsland Power. The Power have a lot of players who were able to run out last season and will be more experienced in 2020, so they will no doubt look to push the Falcons who have plenty of young players themselves. Geelong’s duo of Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner will be damaging through the midfield as the Falcons’ two AFL Women’s National Academy members. Joined in the middle by basketballer Carly Remmos, the Falcons have a strong foundation to continue the success of past years. Elizabeth Dowling is a name that will be raised over the next couple of years, and along with Renee Tierney as targets up forward and Poppy Schaap‘s defensive pressure, the Falcons are in a good shape going forward. Mia Van Dyke is one of a number of prospects who have come through the club’s V/Line Cup program and despite being just three days away from being a 2023 draft eligible prospect (only turned 15 in December), she is one of a number who have come through the pathway with some high wraps from the coaching staff. Gippsland has some familiar names in its line-up, led by midfielder and AFL Women’s Academy member, Megan Fitzsimon. She, along with Grace McRae forms a strong midfield duo in there, and will compete strongly for the contested ball. In defence, Shanara Notman returns as a 19-year-old named at centre half-back and will provide some good rebound there, right alongside Leyla Berry who played for the Power back in 2018. On the other flank is a familiar Power name with Yasmin Duursma (sister of Port Adelaide’s Xavier), while when talking about bottom-age talent, Lily-Rose Williamson is one who will be a standout along a win having starred for the club through the V/Line Cup in past years.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS
Saturday, February 29, 12:50pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval 

Turning the attention to Bendigo, the Pioneers host Western Jets in a curtain raiser to the AFL Women’s clash between Richmond and Geelong. Bendigo has the one official AFL Women’s National Academy member in key defender Tara Slender, but have a midfield that will trouble opposition onballers. Brooke Hards and Annabel Strahan have both been named onball and the co-captains will provide a hard-edge to the midfield and be difficult to beat there. Along with Maeve Tupper who has some impressive athletic skills and great goal sense when up forward, the midfield is a strength for the Pioneers. Jemma Finning has been named at half-back to provide some run out of defence with Slender, while up forward, Hannah Stewart is a target inside 50 as a 19-year-old. The Jets have opted to throw rebounding defender, Isabelle Pritchard into the midfield to counteract the Pioneers’ onball and develop her game even further. Along with bottom-age tall, Montana Ham and Nikita Wright in the middle, the Jets have some good height and ball-winning ability in there with upside. A highly rated bottom-ager with Ham is Charlotte Baskaran who is considered elite with her foot skills and decision making, so will be one to watch coming off half-back where she has been named. Both these sides are going to go close to winning in this tight contest with a fair few bottom-agers on show, though Bendigo should be more prepared after their top-agers had consistency through the team as middle-agers last season.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES
Sunday, March 1,  11:00am
Holm Park Recreation Reserve 

In a rewind to 2018, Dandenong Stingrays and Eastern Ranges return to Holm Park in Beaconsfield to open their seasons on Sunday. While both played different opponents on that day two years ago, they will both be hoping for more ideal temperatures than the 37 degrees on that day. The Stingrays are coming off a solid season in 2019. just missing out on finals, while Eastern reached the post-season series and pushed eventual premiers, Northern Knights all the way in the preliminary final clash. The Stingrays’ standout prospect in 2020 is Tyanna Smith, with the AFL Women’s National Academy member having the combination of speed and strength in the middle, which she will use to burst out of the stoppages and create scoring opportunities for her team. Abbey Jordan showed last season she can win the ball through the middle, while young talls, Jaide Anthony and Georgia Grimmer up forward provide a glimpse into the future for the Stingrays having come through the V/Line Cup program. Down back, the ever-reliable Zoe Hill is alongside Jemma Radford, while Serene Vudiniabola comes highly rated as an overager who played school footy last year and is tied to Old Haileybury. Eastern Ranges pack a punch in the midfield as well, with Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown the club’s two AFL Women’s Academy members. With ruck, Jess Grace likely to get first hands to them more often than not, the contested ball-winning Meagher and slick Brown will give their forwards some nice feeds inside 50. Matilda Hardy has been named at half-forward as one to watch, while Mietta Kendall is a reliable source of calmness in the back pocket, and Lily Peacock named as one to watch with her run along the wing.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday, March 1, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval 

The final game of the round is another curtain raiser, this time for the Collingwood and Richmond AFL Marsh Series clash at Wangaratta. A big crowd is expected in attendance for the game, with two teams expected to improve in 2020 to battle it out. Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers both had some superb performances last season, but had to iron out some consistency issues at times. Both having a number of talents coming through the ranks this season, the Bushrangers had a lot of middle and bottom-agers last season who have progressed through to the next year of their youth careers. The Charges had five players drafted and will be looking to replace them through a team approach. The Chargers have three players in the AFL Women’s National Academy with captain Mimi Hill and middle-ager Charlie Rowbottom named on-ball to rove the work of ruck, Kalarni Kearns. Also in the midfield is Joanna Lin on the wing, working the ball forward to an even front six. The Bushrangers have a two-pronged tall attack with AFL Women’s Academy members, Olivia Barber (top-age) and Ally Morphett (middle-age) rotating between ruck and forward. Abby Favell is a natural ball winner and will rotate between midfield and forward, while Kate Adams is another player who can be slippery around the stoppages and find the goals when inside 50. Keeley Skepper showed last season in the Under 16 Championships that she has a lot of upside, while a number of players on both teams loom as surprise packets in what could be one of the games of the round.

Sandringham Dragons ready to roar in 2020

SANDRINGHAM Dragons are excited about the development from their existing players and the potential for future development of the entire list, ahead of the 2020 season. The NAB League Girls head coach, Tamara Hyett said the pre-season had been a successful one and now with a strong core group of top-agers and some promising middle and bottom-agers, the Dragons were in a good position for the foreseeable future.

“It’s been good, we’ve been able to get the full squad out on the track throughout the full pre-season,” Hyett said. “We’ve been lucky enough, we’ve had a good squad of top-agers as well as some really strong bottom-agers coming into the system so we’ve got a really good balance across all three age groups which has been good. “We’ve had a really solid pre-season, we’ve been able to build on what we’ve been able to do the last couple of years. “We’ve got a similar coaching group so a lot of the top-age girls have been with us – this will be their third year – so we’ve been able to build on and educate a little bit more and educate and filter in new additions to our game plan and game style which is allowing them to show off their strengths now they’ve been in the program for three years.”

Hyett identified four players at top-age level as ones to watch, but said there were a number of players who continued to improve having been in the program for a number of seasons at the elite junior level.

I think being able to have girls like Alice (Burke), Eliza (McNamara), Sarah Hartwig, Winnie Laing,” Hyett said. “There’s probably six to eight girls who have been in the program for three years now – this will be their third year – so they’ll have an understanding. “They all set elite training standards and behaviours so they’ll all be a really good group at the top-age group. “The rest of the group is buying into what they’re doing and that’s assisting in the development of the new additions to the squad.”

While the top-agers prepare for the final year in the NAB League journey, for a number of 16-year-olds it is only the beginning. They 2004-born players have stepped up over the pre-season, and while they are technically not eligible to be drafted until 2022, are already showing promising signs. Hyett said this was credit to their football journey, saying the group coming through at a bottom-age level had a “really sound” understanding of the fundamentals for Australian rules, and it meant the coaching staff could accelerate the development of the program and go into more in-depth areas to improve players on the list.

We’ve got some really good bottom-agers, and so much so that we’ve got five bottom-agers with one being an emergency that will play Round 1, which I think is really exciting for our program,” Hyett said. “We’re seeing the benefit of girls who have played football from an underage or Auskick level. “They’ve grown up with football and we’re reaping the benefits of that, they’re coming to us with really sound fundamentals and hence why we’re able to progress them a little bit quicker, because in previous years they have had exposure to football from a young age. “We’re seeing some really good signs from Bridie Hipwell, Lucy Mitchell, Sofia Hurley, Tayla Jones and Holly Tysoe as well. “All of those girls will play their first game and they’re all bottom-agers. “I think it’s exciting for the competition, but for our club that we have these girls who are good enough and ready for Round 1.”

On the track over the pre-season, Hyett said there was a noticeable difference as to just how prepared the bottom-age players were to adapting within the group. She said it was credit to the players both returning and new to the club for “investing in their own development” and doing the extra yards to improve in any way possible.

I guess it’s probably how quick the bottom-age girls have adjusted,” Hyett said. “We have a young girl, Tayla Jones who from the Talent ID we knew very little about, but her training standards and her game sense was just really exciting. I think she’ll be one to watch down forward. “Someone like Eliza McNamara who has worked really hard on her football component – she’s always been an elite runner – but it’s using that running power as a weapon and a strength. But it’s funny, the girls who have been in the program for a little bit have definitely added and grown in the off-season. “That’s just by investing in their own development and wanting to learn so, we try and run a 12-month program, but we’ve always got coaches on hand to assist so any extra work the girls want to do, we tend to have big numbers who want to do more, which is great. “Constantly investing in their own development outside of Dragons training.”

Hyett also named Abbi Moloney as one to watch this season, with the 171cm forward possessing a “beautiful pair of hands”, capable of clunking some good marks and a “work horse” who crashes packs and brings the ball to ground. The Sandringham Dragons coach said if the team could provide the top-ager with good service inside 50, then Moloney could be in for a good year. She said good service inside 50 would require strong defensive pressure up the ground and fast ball movement.

We want to be fierce,” Hyett said. “We want to be a really fierce and aggressive team, but I guess that’s no surprise to the other team’s that we’re quite small, so we’ll still be looking to run and carry and move the ball quickly and that’s just because we’re not an overly tall side so we want to play to our strengths which we think is that run and carry and quick ball movement. “Get the ball out into space, so I guess whether that’s giving up our secrets or not, it will be visible after Round 1 anyway. “We just want the players to have the freedom to play really attacking football and play on instincts as well. “We’ve got some team structures that we want to maintain, but we also don’t want to take away that natural instinct and gut feel. “The players sometimes get over-educated and lose that creativity and instinct from their game so we want to encourage that.”

In terms of players having new roles, Hyett said there would be no “drastic” changes, but a number of the Dragons’ top-agers would be moved around to further their development and showcase their versatility in a variety of positions.

What we’ve also tried to do is we don’t want girls to get bogged down in one position,” she said. “We think that clubs are definitely looking for that dual position player, and with 16-a-side now it’s really important that they have a couple of strings to their bow. So we’ll see someone like Sarah Hartwig spend some time in the midfield, Alice Burke might spend a little bit more time across half-back and someone like Eliza McNamara spending a little bit more time spending forward rather than just mid because we want to expose their offensive skills as well as their other attributes. “We want them to be creative, so we’ll slip a few players around here and there, but nothing too surprising. “For us it’s about showing off the players strengths, so that’s what we’ve been all about this pre-season.”

Heading into Round 1, Hyett said the Dragons have had a couple of practice matches along with some intra club games, which has enabled them to put some of the aspects they had been working on over the pre-season into practice. She said it was “really pleasing” to see the players willing to implement the new tools into their game and that the side was ready to tackle the new season which starts this Saturday against the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at City Oval in Ballarat.

From our end we’ve been really happy with the preparation,” Hyett said. “We’ve got some things we want to tick off on Saturday and if we can do that, we’ll be really happy. “Our objective is to stick to what we know, we can’t control what the other side does, but we just want to play our brand of football. “We think that has the potential to get us small wins and losses, but if we can show continual growth, that’s all we’re asking of our players.”

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 9

THE final round of the NAB League Girls took place over the weekend with plenty of impressive efforts as the final four was decided after results were confirmed. We attended five games and noted the final game at the bottom, with players focused among those mentioned by respective Female Talent Managers as players to watch at the start of the season. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Peter Williams

Geelong:

#8 Paige Sheppard

One of Geelong’s best on the day with McEvoy and Skinner, Sheppard kicked an early goal after working hard to get into the space inside 50. She had a couple of running shots throughout the game at either end but both just fell short or drifted wide. She won plenty of the ball and produced an elite kick from the wing inside to Lucy McEvoy leading out – that perfect 45-kick. She spread to the outside and often pushed up from half-forward then kept running receiving the ball and being a key link in transition between the mids and forwards. Terrific game.

#18 Darcy Moloney

Did not win as much of it as some of her teammates but used it well by foot. She was the one who was released with a quick handball for her to kick forward inside 50. She put it to her teammates’ advantage often placing the kick in front of them running. She kicked inside 50 well to assist Mia Skinner who snapped truly for her fourth major.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Just did what she does every game and while her second half would have been pretty quiet given the ball rarely came near her she had a great rebound at top speed off half-back in the last term. Early on with the heat in the game she forced Ally Morphett to kick off the side of her boot with a great run-down tackle, and also had a lovely kick to Paige Sheppard at half-back.

#24 Mia Skinner

Got off the chain in the second term after being tightly watched in the first to be the difference with three goals and break the game open. She did use her smarts to keep the ball in front of her in the opening term and gain about 30 metres and put it deep inside 50 by kicking it multiple times along the ground. Her goals came from two snaps and a set shot, including a couple within a minute. She then kicked a goal on the run in the final term to make it four for the game.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

The captain was inspirational in the game, often met by multiple opponents when she went near it in close, she kept working hard and would rip the ball from an opponents’ grasp and kick long inside 50. She did all the defensive work too, setting the tone with a run-down tackle at half-back then won a free kick at half-forward. Had a number of opportunities from long-range that just fell short, but then kicked a great goal in the fourth term. Seemed to be everywhere and won touches from the last line of defence through to deep forward and ran all day.

#39 Renee Tierney

Played up the ground and worked hard for her touches. She took a number of good marks, including a contested mark in the second term in front of a pack. She used her strength to get the ball forward on a number of occasions and while she did not win a heap of the ball, still played an important role.

Murray:

#10 Sophie Locke

Started in defence and laid a goal-saving tackle in the first term. Locke mained composed and worked well in defence offering herself as a switch option and used the ball neatly. She did well on Skinner in a one-on-one but just got pushed off it and Skinner goaled. She went forward in the second half and was unlucky not to win a free in a marking contest for a push. Ball did not go near her much but she still worked hard.

#19 Millie Brown

The Bushrangers best out of defence and saved a number of goals with her composure and ability to drop into the hole. Spent the game back there given Geelong’s dominance in the forward half and time and time again intercepted and just bombed it out of defence. Marshalled the defence and no doubt without her the margin could have been greater. A big influence in the game.

#45 Olivia Barber

Had a few nice moments taking some strong grabs, and converting a set shot in the opening term from 35m out. Barber shared the ruck load and worked hard to drop back into defence, putting pressure on an opponent to force a spillage from a marking contest. She took a good intercept mark at half-forward in the third term as well.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Eastern Ranges
By: Josh Ward

Sandringham:

#1 Molly Denahy Maloney

Was a touch quiet as well in the first half, but was pretty big in second half in terms of inside 50 pressure and ball use, playing a few big roles in the lead up to each goal.  Missed a couple of chances in front of goal, but had the 10 touches and six hitouts as well as four tackles.

#22 Eliza McNamara

Played a pretty big role of half-back, getting many intercept possessions and using the ball nicely as well with a high disposal efficiency. Had five inside 50s and four tackles as well.

#28 Alice Burke

Again was a bit quiet in the first half, but got herself into the game in the second half. Was impressive in terms of contested footy and clearances and getting it inside 50 as well. Finished with 18 disposals, five tackles and three inside 50s, and was one of the Dragons’ best.

Eastern:

#26 Tarni Brown

Again similar first half to Flintoff and was critical in helping Ranges get first goal. Was quieter in the second half, but still helped out with second goal for Ranges. Brown finished with 23 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds.

#33 Tess Flintoff

Good first half with a few touches and good use of the ball. A little bit quieter in the second half. Had an impressive 23 disposals, six marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds to her name, getting around the ground well.

#46 Serena Gibbs

Was a good presence up forward and when she went through the ruck, often helping the Ranges get clearances and keep the ball at times up forward. One of the best for the Ranges, with nine touches, 11 hitouts and four marks.

 

Gippsland vs. Calder
By: Peter Williams

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams

Not a big possession winner, but showed strength at ground level, using her body well to get a kick away while being tackled in the second term, and then in the third term, used good body strength to bump Makeisha Muller off the ball and kick forward. Laid a number of important tackles as well.

#9 Maddison Shaw

Worked tirelessly for four quarters and really led the way throughout the game playing off half-back and pushing up to the wing. Did well against Georgia Patrikios one-on-one early, laying a big tackle and then spoiling a contest and winning a free for push in the back. Then mopped up time and time again and helped out a defence under siege. She pushed up to the wing and through the middle and had a nice burst in the third term to kick forward, and had a number of effective kicks going long in the final term.

#27 Nikia Webber

Just worked her guts out for four quarters and kicked a well-earned goal in the dying minutes. She showed good strength at the stoppages, often fending off her opponents and kicking long, and drifting back into defence to help out. Went forward later in the game, having a couple of opportunities in the third term with both going across the face, and copping a knock high on one occasion. She finally booted a goal from a set shot free kick in the last few minutes much to the excitement of her and her teammates.

#33 Shanara Notman

One of Gippsland’s best across the game with a number of intercept marks and possessions, while playing on the last line. She found it difficult kicking with the breeze, and was too ambitious in the opening term trying to step around Georgia Patrikios who is the last player in the league you try and step around, but what was promising was despite getting caught it did not deter her from attempting it in the future. She did it successfully a number of times and kicked long where possible.

Calder:

#2 Felicity Theodore

Was clean out of defence and took the game on a number of times in the first half, using handballs to go from half-back to half-forward. Laid a great tackle in the first term to win a free holding the ball, but confusion with the umpires gave it to the opposition player. She did well in that first half with her run and carry.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

Clean and composed with her disposal in windy conditions, Patrikios set the game up for the Cannons with two goals and a poster in the first term. She tackled Shanara Notman who tried to take her on and then converted the set shot, before picking up the loose ball and waiting for her opponent to overrun it then kick it through from a metre out. A third snap hit the post, and a fourth attempt later in the game just drifted in the breeze, but she was ever-dangerous. Showed good movement on the outside and worked well with Georgie Prespakis in midfield.

#22 Makeisha Muller

Spent a half in attack then a half in defence, kicking a goal in the second term after a nice kick from Georgie Prespakis. Then she tried to return the favour but it bounced past her for a behind. In defence, Muller set up the ball well and had a number of impressive runs and kicks from half-back, taking some intercept grabs in the fourth term.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Busy from the word go winning plenty of the footy in tight and set up a goal to Muller in the second term with a great kick to her running teammate at the top of the goalsquare. She won a free kick inside 50 and converted the set shot shortly after, and had a terrific kick to Patrikios inside 50 in the third term. She had another chance in the third with a snap off a step but it bounced through for a behind.

 

Western Jets vs. Dandenong Stingrays
By: Michael Alvaro

Western:

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

Clearly the Jets’ most prolific ball-winner and arguably their best across the day, Georgostathis gave it her all across half-back and later, in the midfield. Showed her trademark pace and willingness to take the game on from the back flank with good rebound, and was not deterred by being caught holding the ball in the second term. Her competitiveness in an under-siege defence translated well with a move into the midfield after half time, as the top-age Jet won a couple of nice bursting clearances. The cherry on top of a solid last month of form.

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

It was by no means Pritchard’s best outing, but she was definitely kept busy and tried her best to hold up a defence under immense pressure at times. While she overran a couple of long balls which she would usually cut off, Pritchard did some good work in the clinches and in particular, made a brave smother in the final term which caught the eye despite the result being beyond her side.

#25 Cleo Saxon-Jones

It was a hard slog for the Jets’ forward focal point, but that did not prevent Saxon-Jones from getting involved in decent patches. Started well with a nice rove at centre half-forward and followed up with a couple of inside 50 entries – albeit with high snapped kicks over a wall of opponents. Being pressured in disposal was a theme for her day at times, but Saxon-Jones chimed in with a couple of fantastic overhead marks – one from a kick-out, and the other around her defensive 50. It was a hard day for Western forwards, so she put her hand up well.

Dandenong:

#12 Molly McDonald

The St Kilda AFLW-listed gun made a good start with the first clearance of the match, and it became a consistent theme as she drove her side forward from midfield with run out of the stoppages. While her kicking inside 50 lacked a touch of penetration at times, McDonald utilised her handballs well and displayed outstanding awareness in the process. Showed good combativeness with an overhead marking attempt against two Western opponents, adding grit to her classy overall game.

#26 Isabella Shannon

McDonald’s usual partner-in-crime through midfield, Shannon built into the game well. Hard to miss with her tucked-in shirt, the top-ager looked dangerous when she pushed forward of the ball – although she missed a couple of long-range opportunities on the run, including a poster from around the arc. Was another Stingray to kick forward well, with one inside 50 leading to Shaneece Stratton’s goal. A running clearance from the stoppage late-on was a highlight, and Shannon was one of the more effective Dandenong players.

#28 Tyanna Smith

Added raw pace and excitement to the midfield, making McDonald and Shannon’s dynamic duo and terrific trio for the day. The thing that made Smith stand out was her ability to push forward and become a dangerous figure inside 50, where she was seemingly everywhere at times as she slotted multiple goals. Her best came from a forward 50 stoppage, where she broke away and kicked truly, with her streaming runs from slick roves a nice feature throughout. Had another eye-catching passage of play where she paddled the ball along the boundary on defensive wing, showing great strength to keep her feet and composure to come away with the ball. Arguably the most damaging Stingray on the day, a top game from the middle-ager.

#31 Brooke Vernon

Vernon was an absolute rock at centre half-back, playing an effective nullifying role on Saxon-Jones while also winning her own ball. Following the Jets’ key forward up the field allowed Vernon to cut off Western’s attacks and distribute forward from defensive wing. While her work up the ground was good, Vernon’s best moments came in the form of a couple of defensive 50 overhead marks – showing outstanding courage for one in the final term. Was solid as ever, great game.

#51 Zoe Hill

While Vernon caught eyes roaming up the field, Hill played the more understated role as the last line of defence. It was not a particularly busy game for Hill with Western only managing one goal, but she did all the little defensive things well and certainly played her role. Laid a potentially goal-saving tackle on Emma Quinn as she streamed towards goal, which was her highlight for the game.

 

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels vs. Northern Knights
By: Cameron Ross

GWV:

#9 Renee Saulitis

Saulitis proved once again that her tackling ability is elite. She has a textbook tackling technique, getting in low and watches the hips. Didn’t accumulate as many possessions as she would have liked, but her pressure more than made up for it.

#10 Ella Wood

Another solid game for the industrious and tough midfielder, who is going onto bigger and better things. I have stated previously that I am a massive fan of her, and nothing has changed.

#24 Sophie Molan

In her final game for the Rebels, Molan played in the exact same manner she does every game. Crunching tackles, leading with her voice, and doing everything in her power to get the win. After a relatively quiet first quarter, Molan had a much better last three quarters.

#32 Isabella Simmons

Simmons has all of the “tools” but just has to put it all together. Simmons will be one to keep an eye on in the future due to her athletic ability alone, but if she can work the rest out she will be a very talented footballer for years to come.

Northern:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Often plays forward, but had some midfield time today. Took a stack of intercept marks, due to her intelligent positioning a kick behind the play. Seemed to be a natural midfielder, and was a big presence in there all game.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Kicked a goal in the opening minute of the ground after reading the crumb, and then kicked another from the set shot, 25 out after a strong mark on the lead. Bannan was the prime target up forward all game and worked tireless to give a contest.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Went head to head with Wood early and won the battle, then was let loose after quarter time. Won a lot of her own footy, and was unlucky not to finish with a goal after hitting the post on a set shot attempt. She has a lovely kicking technique, which is sure to hold her footballing career in good stead in the future.

 

In the other game over the weekend…

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Bendigo:

#1 Mauve Tupper

Tupper was solid, finishing up with 15 disposals and six tackles. Was an effective ball user for Bendigo both forward and back, picking up two inside 50s and three rebounds for the match.

#3 Elizabeth Snell

Kicked two of Bendigo’s four goals so was an excellent target forward for the Pioneers. Also picked up 10 touches, two marks and three tackles for a solid day out.

#4 Brooke Hards

Had low disposals compared to her usual haul with only four for the match, but more than made up for it with her tackling pressure (13 tackles). Also had two rebound 50s.

#36 Kate Douglass

Another player who had a solid outing, picking up 11 touches, three tackles and five rebound 50s.

#40 Tara Slender

Slender had a quieter game this week, held well by the Chargers. Finished with six touches, three tackles, two rebounds and seven hit-outs.

Oakleigh:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

A solid 19 disposals, six marks and a goal was the tale for Lagioia in Round 9, clearing the ball well with her 15 kicks and four inside 50s.

#2 Mimi Hill

Hill put in a solid effort across the board this week, collecting 19 disposals, five marks, two tackles and three rebounds.

#4 Emily Harley

Another effective ball mover, Harley also picked up 19 touches, as well as three marks and a goal for her efforts.

#8 Alana Porter

Porter had a quiet game to finish the season, with only the six disposals, three tackles and one inside 50 to her name.

#12 Amelia Peck

Peck was among the best on ground for Oakleigh in what was certainly her best match for the season, notching 17 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s. Peck also dominated hitouts with 32, 11 more alone than the Pioneers collectively.

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Girls – Round 6

ROUND 6 of the NAB League Girls saw a host players out with AFL Women’s Academy duties but that did not stop the Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights from continuing their winning ways. Geelong once again proved to be the front runners of the competition while Oakleigh also flexed their muscles with a big win over Murray. The round also saw some close clashes between the Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons along with Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Sandringham Dragons with both games coming down to two kicks or less.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 10.7 (67)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Gippsland: G. McRae, N. Webber, S. Walker.
Northern: L. Picioane 3, J. Simpson 2,  J. Fitzgerald 2, N. Morris-Dalton, T. Smart, M. Ramsay.

BEST:

Gippsland: G. McRae, C. Abrahams , M. Fitzsimon, S. Walker, M. Van Berkel, N. Webber
Northern: J. Fitzgerald, P. Chisholm, N. Morris-Dalton, A. Snow, M. Chaplin, L. Picioane

After a slow start, Northern Knights pulled away from Gippsland Power to ensure they remained undefeated after six rounds and sitting just two points behind Geelong Falcons on top of the table. In the match against the Power, Northern booted nine goals to three after quarter time to secure the 10.7 (67) to 3.4 (22) win, but not without some resistance from the home side. After the match was moved from Preston City Oval to Garfield, the Knights became the visitors but looked all at home once they had settled in despite missing an number of their top stars – Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, Ellie McKenzie and Sarah Sansonetti – who were all out on AFL Women’s Academy duties. The Knights’ depth stepped up in their absence, with Jess Fitzgerald being the key influencer through the midfield, collecting 16 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and booting two goals, while Phoebe Chisholm led her side for disposals with 19, as well as two marks, four tackles and five rebounds. Ash Snow was prolific around the ground, while Nell Morris-Dalton continued her strong season rotating between ruck and forward, while Lanarose Picioane who booted three majors in an impressive performance up forward. For Gippsland, Grace McRae was named the best for her 19 disposals, three tackles and a goal, while Chandra Abrahams and Megan Fitzsimon continued their great seasons, combining for 49 disposals, 12 tackles and eight inside 50s in a losing side. Nikia Webber also had a solid performance with a goal, while Matilda Van Berkel was strong at half-back.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 5.3 | 8.7 | 11.8 (74)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 (20)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Oakleigh: J. D”Amato 2, M. Bertuna 2, T. Morton, A. Peck, E. Harley, N. Xenos, K. Kearns, T. Cowan, A. van Oosterwijck.
Murray: C. Boschetti 2, T. Verhoeven.

BEST:

Oakleigh: C. O”Malley, M. Bertuna, M. Hill, N. Xenos, J. Lin, G. Byrne
Murray: S. Locke, L. Sharp, K. Adams, C. Boschetti, A. Smith, A. Favell

Oakleigh Chargers have bounced back from their second loss of the season to record a huge nine-goal win over Murray Bushrangers. Both sides were close in the first term with two goals apiece, before the Chargers kicked away with a three goals to one second term to open up a 14-point lead. Despite their determination in the first half, Murray was unable to restrict Oakleigh in the second half as the Chargers booted six goals to zero to run out 11.8 (74) to 3.2 (20) winners. Jasmine D’Amato and Melanie Bertuna both booted two goals for the Chargers among nine individual goalkickers in a massive team effort. Captain Mimi Hill led from the front with 20 touches, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Chloe O’Malley was named best on ground for her 14 disposals, three tackles and two inside 50s. Nicola Xenos was influential in getting the ball inside 50 with 13 disposals, one mark, four tackles, five inside 50s and a goal, while Emily Harley booted another goal to take her season tally to 11. For Murray, Sophie Locke was named the best, collecting 13 disposals, four marks and four rebounds while laying an equal-team high eight tackles. Abby Favell was the top disposal winner once again with 14 touches, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s, while Teagan Brett had 13 disposals and eight tackles in the defeat. Oakleigh now sits sixth after the win, just two points outside the top four, while Murray are ninth but still clear of the Rebels, Jets and Power.

 

EASTERN RANGES 0.1 | 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 (29)
CALDER CANNONS 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.7 (25)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Gibbs, S. Collard, T. Flintoff, J. Dunning.
Calder: G. Prespakis, T. Gillard, E. Yassir.

BEST:

Eastern: T. Flintoff, E. Horne, S. Gibbs, T. Merrett, M. Edwards
Calder: G. Prespakis, F. Theodore, N. Crowley, K. Lennox, T. Gillard, Z. Hardiman

Eastern Ranges have kept themselves in contention for finals heading into the last three rounds after an impressive four-point win over Calder Cannons. The Ranges are now within percentage of the top four, sitting just adrift of both Calder and Bendigo Pioneers who sit third and fourth respectively with 16 points apiece. It was a fairly scrappy game throughout with both sides applying plenty of defensive pressure around the ground as Eastern’s talls stood out with their strong marking at both ends. Where possible the Ranges moved the ball quickly with short, sharp passes, whereas Calder wanted to run the ball and kick long inside 50. Both methods were effective at times throughout the game, but the key defence of Eastern held strong with Tahlia Merrett taking a number of good intercept marks in defensive 50. Serena Gibbs also provided an option between half-back and half-forward, taking marks and booting the ball long to put it in front of the Eastern runners. Tahlia Gillard provided that target for Calder and early looked like breaking the game open, booting a goal and missing a couple of opportunities before the home side restricted the inside 50 entries. Georgie Prespakis and Tess Flintoff were impressive for their respective sides providing plenty of run, while Tarni Brown and Felicity Theodore assisted well through the midfield. In a see-sawing final term that almost saw Calder steal the win through Emelia Yassir, it took until the final minute for Flintoff to mark inside 50 against the boundary and calmly slotted the set shot for the four-point win.

 

WESTERN JETS 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 (1)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 7.2 | 11.3 | 12.4 (76)

By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Western: Nil.
Geelong: M. Skinner 4, P Schaap 2, R.Tierney 2, T. Lewis 2, J. Robinson, A. McKee

BEST

Western: J. Woods, E. Georgostathis, A. Anthony, C. Singleton, N. Wright, R. Tripodi
Geelong: P. Sheppard, M. Skinner, L. Lesosky-Hay, R. Tierney, A. McKee, G. Featherston

It was tough muck for the Western Jets on Sunday afternoon as they hosted ladder leaders, Geelong Falcons at Williamstown. Despite a relatively even first quarter the undefeated Falcons were able to pull away and deny the Jets opportunities in front of goal, running away to a 75 point win. The Jets started well defensively, crowding the Falcons and making it difficult to get a clear kick on goal, but were unable to move the ball downfield to their advantage. A beautiful kick inside 50 from Geelong debutant, Gabbi Featherston set up the first goal of the game after almost eight minutes of play, showing how well the Jets held their ground early. However, Western’s good fortune dwindled from there as the Falcons used their depth of their talent to kick away.

The Falcons proved to be dangerous up forward as the Jets struggled to contain their opposition without two of their main ball magnets in Isabella Grant and Isabelle PritchardPaige Sheppard (22 disposals, four tackles, five inside 50s) and Luka Lesosky-Hay (20 disposals, two tackles) switched on as the Falcons started to pile on the majors, with the likes of Renee TierneyTamika Lewis and Poppy Schaap kicking two goals apiece while Mia Skinner (four goals, 18 disposals) put on her best performance so far this season. Tierney’s tackling pressure was crucial, notching up eight as the Jets tried to force their way through Geelong’s defensive setup, while Lesosky-Hay showed some good footy smarts as she continuously pushed the contest back up the ground.

The Jets were unable to break through Geelong’s midfield barricade as the Falcons crowded and contested every possession, outrunning the Jets and scooping up the ground ball with precision. The Jets showed some good signs in attack in the third quarter, managing some great passages of play through the middle of the ground. Though unable to capitalise, Western’s defensive pressure inside forward 50 granted them opportunities in front of goal, gifting them their only score of the game – a rushed behind off the back of a good attempt on goal from Taya MeiersElisabeth Georgostathis (14 disposals, six tackles, six rebounds) showed her versatility in the backline, with her ability to read the play enabling her to know where the ball would be placed. Georgostathis was arguably one of the best for the Jets, putting constant pressure on her opposition, while a fantastic tackle in the final quarter saved an almost certain goal. Taylah Kolevski dominated hitouts with 23 alone, also racking up four tackles.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe 2, E. Snell, B. Hards.
Dandenong: S. Stratton.

BEST:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe, T. Slender, B. Hards, E. Gretgrix, A. Strahan, M. Tupper
Dandenong: Z. Hill, G. Hodder, J. Radford, G. Howes, B. Vernon, K. McKenzie

Bendigo Pioneers have given themselves a terrific shot at finals after overcoming Dandenong Stingrays by three goals at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. In a low-scoring affair, the Pioneers got the job done by restricting the Stingrays to just one goal in the game, and only four behinds after quarter time. Despite this, the game was tight throughout and it was not until the final goal of the game that the Pioneers could relax and enjoy their fourth win of the season. Jordyn Jolliffe played the best game of the season with 20 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s, two tackles and two goals in a best-on-ground effort, while Tara Slender was terrific up the other end, racking up 12 disposals, five marks, three tackles and two rounds in the win. The midfield of Brooke Hards, Eloise Gretgrix, Maeve Tupper and Annabel Strahan again took control in the absence of key Stingrays, Molly McDonald, Tyanna Smith and Isabella Shannon. Hards and Tupper both had 18 touches with Hards also laying eight tackles and having three inside 50s and four rebounds. For the Stingrays, Zoe Hill stood tall in defence with 12 disposals, three marks and three rebounds, while Brooke Vernon‘s super season continued, amassing 18 touches, four marks, five inside 50s and six rebounds, while Grace Hodder laid seven tackles from her 15 disposals. With Geelong Falcons, Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers in the final three rounds, the finals are within the Pioneers’ control in what is a tough draw on the run home. The Stingrays can still make finals if they can topple Oakleigh Chargers next round with Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets in the final two weeks.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.2 (26)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 (33)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

GWV: E. Friend 3, R. Saulitis.
Sandringham: E. Angelopoulos 2, C. Murphy 2, I. Eddey.

BEST:

GWV: E. Wood, N. Dojiok, N. Butler, A. Trigg, E. Friend, G. Pidgeon
Sandringham: W. Laing, C. Cody, P. Staltari, G. Strangio, I. Eddey, C. Murphy

It was a tight contest from start to finish with Sandringham Dragons claiming a seven-point victory over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. It was neck and neck in the first term with either side unable to pull away going into quarter time at seven points apiece. The Dragons piled on two goals in the third term, keeping GWV to just one point for the quarter. But the Rebels were not going down without a fight applying all the scoreboard pressure to come within striking distance but just falling short after a gallant effort. Without Sophie Molan and Maggie Caris, GWV looked to the likes of Renee Saulitis to lead the way. Saulitis made her presence felt on the field slotting a major, she was ably assisted by teammate Ella Friend. Friend dominated for the Rebels kicking three goals, racking up 10 disposals and laying a team high six tackles. Nyakoat Dojiok also led the way for her side with a team high 18 touches and four inside 50s showcasing the work she does across the ground. She was closely followed by Brook Thompson who also amassed four inside 50s, while 12 of her 15 disposals were kicks. Georgia Pidgeon also impressed with 14 touches while Ally Trigg took five marks to accompany her 10 disposals. Sandringham were missing some key players with Alice Burke, Eliza McNamara and Molly Denahy Maloney all out with AFL Women’s Academy duties but that did not seem to stop them from claiming the four points. Charli Murphy showed her hand up forward slotting two majors for the game while Ebony Angelopoulos also chipped in with her two goals. Through the midfield the Dragons were led by Winnie Laing who finished the afternoon with a game high 20 disposals and seven tackles. She was helped out by Chloe Saultry who amassed 16 touches with all of them kicks and a whopping six inside 50s. Bella Eddey was also impressive for Sandringham getting involved on the scoreboard, laying six tackles and racking up 13 touches for her efforts.