Tag: Georgie Prespakis

Georgie Prespakis wins NAB League Girls Best and Fairest

THE Calder Cannons claimed their third consecutive Best and Fairest with Georgie Prespakis winning the award with 20 votes. At only 16, Prespakis still has plenty of time to develop and fine tune her already impressive skill set averaging 23 disposals and six tackles throughout the 2019 season. Although she was not there to receive the award, sister Maddy took it on her behalf with the Prespakis’ claiming back to back Best and Fairest awards.

Both Lucy McEvoy and Gabby Newton were among some of the top vote-getters showcasing their importance across the field for their respective teams. McEvoy notched up 14 votes for the season while Elisabeth Georgostathis impressed for the Jets, amassing 15 votes for her efforts. Ellie McKenzie also racked up her fair share of votes with 13 votes highlighting her ability to draw the eye with her flashy run and carry.

For the Dandenong Stingrays, Isabella Shannon received the most votes with 10 while both Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown collected seven apiece for the Murray Bushrangers. Oakleigh Chargers’ Joanna Lin also left her mark on the competition with 13 votes to lead her side’s tally.

Bendigo Pioneers = Maeve Tupper 10
Calder Cannons = Georgie Prespakis 20
Dandenong Stingrays = Isabella Shannon 10
Eastern Ranges = Olivia Meagher/Tarni Brown 7
Geelong Falcons = Lucy McEvoy 14
Gippsland Power = Maddison Shaw 10
Murray Bushrangers = Millie Brown 6
Northern Knights = Ellie McKenzie 14 + Gabby Newton 13
Oakleigh Chargers = Joanna Lin 13
Sandringham Dragons = Sarah Hartwig 4
Tasmania Devils = Killarney Morey 3
Western Jets = Elisabeth Georgostathis 15

2019 NAB League Girls Team of the Year announced

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

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

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

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

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

AFLW U16 Championships preview: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

IN the first game of a Victorian double-header, the Under 16s go head-to-head with Vic Country hosting Vic Metro at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday. The AFL Women’s Under 16s Championships are a shorter series to that of the Under 18s, and male Under 16s, with the Victorian derby being the final match of the series. Both sides had hitouts against other opposition, with Metro triumphing over a gallant New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT), while South Australia downed Vic Country in a bit of an upset.

Given the results, Metro would head in as favourites, but are missing two of their top stars with Georgie Prespakis and Tess Flintoff not in the side. It opens up possibilities for others, with the likes of Emelia Yassir, Matilda Hardy and Makaylah Appleby to stand up, having shown impressive signs in Metro’s win over the Rams. Kasey Lennox was impressive in the NAB League Girls Grand Final for Calder Cannons, while Charlie Rowbottom – sister of Sydney’s James – knows how to find the football and put it through the big sticks. Likewise, Charli Murphy will provide a tall target inside 50, while Calder’s Tahlia Gillard is already 187cm despite being 15.

Looking at the Vic Country side, Tara Slender is a player who immediately stands out, holding down a key position defence role at Bendigo Pioneers after an impressive V/Line Cup carnival last year. Dandenong’s Jemma Radford and Geelong’s Elizabeth Dowling are others who have shown terrific signs in their first year at NAB League Girls level following V/Line Cup success, while Gippsland’s Grace Matser is in a similar boat to Gillard, standing at 186cm having just turned 16 earlier in the year. Jaide Anthony is a forward to watch having booted multiple goals on debut in the NAB League Girls competition, while Nyakoat Dojiok has been a developing talent the last couple of seasons.

The game is likely to be an exciting one, and being a curtain raiser to the Under-18 equivalent, it gives the Under 16s an idea of the level they strive to get to, and the pathway in place for them in the future. Last year, a Metro side led by Ellie McKenzie and Alyssa Bannan won the clash over Country at GMHBA Stadium, while Renee Saulitis and Tyanna Smith were among the best for Country. All four of those players are now representing Victoria at Under-18 level. The talented pathway is ever-growing, so expect the level of football to be even higher than that of last year with so many evenly talented players running around in the ‘Big V’.

UNDER-16 VIC COUNTRY

NO. NAME   DOB HT NAB LEAGUE CLUB
1 Tahlia Meier 19-Oct-03 TBC GWV Rebels
2 Cassidy Mailer 02-Feb-04 153 Murray Bushrangers
3 Poppy Schaap 28-Jul-03 154 Geelong Falcons
4 Grace Matser 03-Jan-03 186 Gippsland Power
5 Gabbi Featherston 12-Nov-03 163 Geelong Falcons
7 Jaide Anthony 20-Nov-03 TBC Dandenong Stingrays
8 Jemma Radford 31-Jul-03 167 Dandenong Stingrays
9 Melina Ciavarella 24-Jan-03 161 GWV Rebels
10 Kate Tomkins 17-Jun-03 161 GWV Rebels
11 Alannah Sanderson 19-Sep-03 166 Geelong Falcons
13 Lilli Condon 25-Nov-03 154 GWV Rebels
14 Tara Slender 11-Mar-03 174 Bendigo Pioneers
15 Drew Ryan 11-Apr-03 172 Bendigo Pioneers
16 Macie Gilmour 03-Jan-03 158 Gippsland Power
17 Holly Booth 11-Sep-03 169 Gippsland Power
18 Analea McKee 06-Jul-03 174 Geelong Falcons
19 Ella Friend 30-Dec-03 172 GWV Rebels
20 Elizabeth Dowling 31-Jul-03 168 Geelong Falcons
21 Jayda Richardson 04-Nov-03 175 Bendigo Pioneers
22 Nyakoat Dojiok 07-Jan-03 180 GWV Rebels
23 Madeline Marks 26-Feb-03 173 Bendigo Pioneers
25 Tyla Angwin 24-Jul-03 172 Gippsland Power
26 Keeley Skepper 15-Mar-04 163 Murray Bushrangers

 

UNDER-16 VIC METRO

NO. NAME   DOB HT NAB LEAGUE CLUB
1 Mia Papachristos 06-Apr-03 157 Northern Knights
2 Teleah Smart 02-May-03 160 Northern Knights
3 Ebony Angelopoulos 26-Nov-03 160 Sandringham Dragons
4 Emelia Yassir 25-Sep-03 161 Calder Cannons
5 Stephanie Asciak 18-Sep-03 162 Western Jets
6 Emma Stuber 10-Jul-03 164 Sandringham Dragons
7 Aurora Smith 13-Dec-03 163 Murray Bushrangers
8 Alisha Liddle 30-Sep-03 175 Dandenong Stingrays
9 Matilda Hardy 24-Apr-03 170 Eastern Ranges
10 Ruby O’Dwyer 04-Oct-03 170 Eastern Ranges
11 Maykaylah Appleby 18-Jul-03 170 Northern Knights
12 Eliza James 01-Oct-03 170 Oakleigh Chargers
13 Stella Reid 10-Sep-03 170 Oakleigh Chargers
14 Jemima Woods 28-May-03 170 Western Jets
15 Caitlin Sargent 22-Dec-03 170 Western Jets
17 Kasey Lennox 07-Aug-03 174 Calder Cannons
18 Charli Murphy 26-Nov-03 174 Sandringham Dragons
19 Jessica Simpson 28-Mar-03 175 Northern Knights
21 Cassy Wilsmore 28-Mar-03 178 Eastern Ranges
22 Charlie Rowbottom 22-Jan-03 178 Oakleigh Chargers
23 Peppa Poultney 05-Apr-03 181 Calder Cannons
24 Neve Crowley 23-Jun-03 181 Calder Cannons
25 Tahlia Gillard 12-Dec-03 187 Calder Cannons

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Grand Final

IT was a massive NAB League Girls Grand Final with Northern Knights coming out on top as 30-point winners over Calder Cannons. In an exciting day of action, there were certainly plenty of standout performances on the big stage. Here are our opinion-based scouting notes on a mix of the most outstanding players on the day, and others selected in the Victorian sides for this year’s National Championships.

Northern
By: Sophie Taylor

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

True to her number, Morris-Dalton kicked three goals to ultimately lead her side to victory, providing a great target inside 50 and showing off her clever movement into space to advantage of the ball. Her marking ability was solid inside 50, while a great passage of play saw her kick the only Knights goal for the second quarter from their first inside 50 of the term. Showcased her ability to free herself from opposition, getting off the body to take control of the space.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was on fire early, kicking her first goal within minutes of the first bounce to open Northern’s account for the afternoon. Also all but cemented victory for Northern with a goal right in the goal square in the late stages of the match for the final score of the game. Other than her accuracy in front of goal, Bannan showcased her good run and carry and pressure on the ball carrier, causing messiness when Calder headed inside 50.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Player of the Match, Fitzgerald put on a solid performance well deserving of her title in what was a strong shared effort for the Knights. Her five tackles contributed to the great pressure her side put on the Cannons, while her clean marking ability allowed her a shot on goal – and though going through for a behind, put in the hard yards to gain back possession. Also showed some good game smarts to handball under pressure out of a pack to carry the ball forward.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti was good one-on-one, putting constant pressure on her opposition as she forced intercepts and crowded the space. Had a solid kick but was intercepted on a few occasions, though was fortunate the rest of Northern’s defensive unit was also standing up. Also put her quick hands into practice on the wing, handballing to a passing player in better space, also marking well under the pump to clear the ball back out of defence.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie was solid, taking a good contested mark early for a snap on goal, rewarded for her efforts with the ball going through the big sticks. Had a good eye to kick inside 50 to Morris-Dalton on her own in a similar position to McKenzie’s first goal, while her marking ability was exceptional with six to her name. Had a great run down the far wing late in the match, showcasing her speed and ability to free herself from opposition players and fitting in about seven bounces as she coasted from the defensive 50 into attack.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht had a solid match, picking up an equal-second 14 disposals for the Knights in a shared effort across the ground. Her five tackles and five handballs proved necessary through midfield, gaining ground as she found her way clear to get the ball out of congestion courtesy of her two-way running ability and skill scooping up the ground ball. Also had a chance on goal from 40m out but bounced through for a behind.

#23 Gabby Newton

Had some great passages of play, continually pressing the ball forward as she used the space to create options and opportunities down field. Her 15 touches were put to good use, using her body to get hands on the footy. Took some good contested marks as well as being a pivotal ball mover with two inside 50s and two rebounds as she appeared to be everywhere on the ground at once. Good awareness of not just the ball, but also of her opposition and teammates as she kicked cleanly to advantage and shared the load.

Calder
By: Taylah Melki

#2 Felicity Theodore 

Good intercept mark in the first term but was relatively quiet. Her move up forward was inspired able to showcase her strong hands to take important marks. She took two good grabs in the fourth quarter and presented well up at the footy. She showcased her quick hands under pressure and desire to win the ball throughout the game.

#11 Alana Barba

Barba was strong around the contest for the Cannons applying good tackling pressure and making her presence felt across the ground. She was involved involved early and used her clean hands to dish off handballs to passing teammates. Barba won her fair share of the footy and covered the ground well, she consistently went in hard at the ball and stood up in a strong tackle. She tracked the footy well at ground level and imposed herself on the contest when the ball came her way.

#21 Georgia Patrikios 

Patrikios worked tirelessly throughout the game leading her side with her clean hands, impeccable vision and never say die attitude. She used her quick hands and willingness to play on to spur the Cannons into attack. Patrikios showcased her ability to read the play well almost taking a good mark when the ball was coming out of their attacking 50. She used her impressive long booming kick into the forward 50 to create scoring chances for her side. She took a good intercept mark early in the third quarter and applied strong pressure laying solid tackles throughout the game. Clean pick up off the ground to keep the ball moving and had good body positioning to win the ball for the Cannons. Quick hands out of defence and good control of the ball. She showcased her speed going for a good dash through the middle of the ground to kick into the forward 50 and create a scoring opportunity.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

She had a relatively quiet game and was well kept by the Knights but she still had her moments of magic working hard to win the ball and using her body well to out position her opponent. She showcased her slick hands with a clever handball into space and worked her way into the game in the third term. She utilised her long kick to push the ball forward and create options for the Cannons.  

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Prespakis was a key player for the Cannons throughout the game with her desperation, strength and clever use of the ball an important feature of her game. She showcased her clean hands and impressive strength to shake off a tackler and dispose of the ball to Patrikios. She showcased her emotion midway through the second term getting into a scuffle with that only sparking her ferocity and intensity for the rest of the match. she really built herself into the game with her good forward pressure and ability to win the ball time and time again. She was clean off the deck and won her fair share of clearances around the ground. She patrolled the defensive end well sticking to her player and showcased her ability to read the play, wining the ball one on one credit to her footy smarts. Good vision to kick to space and use her impressive evasive skills to dodge opponents and then dish the ball off on the wing. Prespakis worked tirelessly all game and showed good elevation and control of the footy. Consistently used her body well and won plenty of the footy across the ground with clever linkup play with Patrikios throughout the game. A real standout for the Cannons in a difficult loss.

2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final

NORTHERN Knights claimed the 2019 NAB League Girls premiership, defeating the Calder Cannons by 22 points at Ikon Park on Saturday. We were there to capture the day and here are some of the images, accompanied with some post-game quotes for Northern Knights fans to relieve the huge day.

“Our forwards are so, so dangerous, even you saw in that last bit where Alyssa (Bannan) had that one-on-one with that girl, they just put people under pressure.” – Gabby Newton.

I think we played a good game, I think last year (2018 Grand Final loss to Geelong Falcons) our issue was we got too confident coming out of half-time. This year we played all four quarters and it really showed.” – Nell Morris-Dalton.

“The small forwards having manic pressure as Marcus (Abney-Hastings) would say, to keep it in there. They can convert whenever they get opportunities.” – Britney Gutknecht.

“I got my hands nice and strong and then the girls were just kicking it in very well and helped me out.” – Nell Morris-Dalton on her recent form, including seven goals in two finals.

“I think we all knew what to expect and players who had been a part of that team last year were able to impart that knowledge on the girls who hadn’t played a grand final so we knew that if we could get on top of them in the first five minutes and keep our cool, that we’d be able to shut them down first quarter.” – Gabby Newton.

“I’m not too much about the individual achievements, more about the team, I’ll take it I guess, but really happy with the win.” – Jess Fitzgerald on winning the Best on Ground medal.

“Playing with Gabby (Newton) is unreal. I know she’s a future star of the game, (and) to be playing alongside her and knowing hopefully we cross paths further down the track, it’s unreal, it’s just so good” – Britney Gutknecht.

It was a pretty surreal feeling, I haven’t really played in front of a crowd that big before so just happy to just get that opportunity and the girls really pulled through today so it was good.” – Ellie McKenzie.

“I go to school with Georgie (Prespakis), so we’re pretty good friends so that was pretty interesting, but yeah she’s a great talent and I’m sure she’s going to do well in the next few years.” – Ellie McKenzie on direct opponent, Georgie Prespakis.

“I trust our leaders within the ground, and yes you’re right they were getting a lot of ball inside their 50, but I think ultimately our leaders really stood up, led by our marvellous captain. Within our backline, Phoebe Chisholm and Sarah Sansonetti are really strong leaders, so they took the sting out of the game and were able to get that 5 or 10 minutes which was really, really pleasing.” – Northern Knights coach, Marcus Abney-Hastings on Calder’s purple patch in the second quarter.

“We really have a strong back six who have stood up time upon time throughout the year so with those close games we’re used to being challenged, so we were able to deal with that today.” – Gabby Newton.

“It’s just like playing with a sister. We’ve been together for three years now, it’s just huge. I love playing with Brit (Gutknecht), we just know where each other are and we don’t even need to communicate it, so I’m really going to miss it.” – Gabby Newton.

“It’s hugely sad, we’re a huge family. I know this team is never going to be the same again and obviously as top-agers we’re moving on but we’ve just enjoyed our time together, it’s really sad that we’re splitting.” – Britney Gutknecht.

“Jess is probably our most important player. We’re really strong inside the contest and we’ve got players of the Brit’s (Gutknecht) and the Gabby’s (Newton) that put a lot of heat around the ball, but with Fitzy’s run and carry, and really good ball use, she’s probably our most important player. Her speed off the mark, the way she takes the game on is absolute electric, you can’t teach that. We’re really blessed to have this number 14 in our corner.” – Marcus Abney-Hastings.

“It has been a two-year journey for us. We made conscious decisions in both pre-seasons to really develop our bottom-agers and our middle-agers and today that’s really come to fruition with the performance that we showed and the year we had. I think it will be pretty similar next year. Our ultimate is to make sure girls get drafted. This is fantastic, and a great reward for our girls, but ultimately our job is to make sure they’re in the best position to get drafted and take their careers to the next stop, so we’ll continue to do that and really push our girls forward.” – Marcus Abney-Hastings.

Northern Knights soar to go one better in 2019 with 33-point premiership victory

NORTHERN Knights have capitalised on their opportunities in a memorable 33-point premiership win over Calder Cannons at Ikon Park in near-perfect conditions. While grey skies threatened to rain on the game, no one or nothing could rain on the Knights parade, who stormed to victory in a terrific team effort, deserving of the only side who could go through the 2019 season undefeated. They held Calder goalless despite the Cannons piling on the pressure in the second term, to win 6.3 (39) to 0.6 (6). Jess Fitzgerald won the best on ground medal from 15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Nell Morris-Dalton starred with 10 marks and three goals. Alyssa Bannan booted the book-end goals of the game while Ellie McKenzie also converted on her opportunity in front of goal. For the Cannons, Georgie Prespakis and Georgia Patrikios were typically superb, while Alisa Magri looked damaging up front despite missing some chances. Emelia Yassir also played her role for the Cannons.

Northern booted their first goal through Bannan with the ball bouncing over her head but she cleanly grabbed it and snapped around her body for a goal a few minutes into the opening term. Fitzgerald had a couple of chances, going inside 50 but the Cannons defence was holding up. Gabby Newton started having an impact just outside 50 and produced a great kick to Fitzgerald but her shot was touched in the square and hit the post. McKenzie put the Knights’ second goal on the board from 15m out after a couple of chances, having a long-range shot, fell short and Tallia Pulcino won a free for in the back. Her shot on goal came off the side of the boot, but McKenzie was in the right spot with a terrific contested mark and goal. McKenzie was in the action shortly after, kicking perfectly after winning a free to hit up Morris-Dalton deep one-on-one who converted easily and the Knights were out to a 19-point lead at quarter time. Patrikios, Prespakis, Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore all had moments in the first term, but the Cannons struggled to get the ball and did not get it inside 50.

The second quarter was an arm-wrestle to start the term with Patrikios getting a heap of the ball, but could not capitalise with a couple of wild chances on goal. A chance from Yassir and Magri went the wrong side of the sticks. After dominating the term, Calder could only manage a couple of behinds and the first inside 50 of the term to the Knights saw Morris-Dalton run onto the ball and kick from point blank range and boot her second major. The Knights now lead by 23 points and were coming from everywhere to celebrate her goal. Patrikios had a chance to narrow the gap herself but was dragged down and the ball bounced the wrong side of the post. Makeisha Muller then had a chance from a snap set shot but it slammed into the woodwork for the Cannons’ fourth straight behind. The siren sounded shortly after and for all their effort, the Cannons had booted 0.4 to the Knights’ 1.0 to trail 4.1 (25) to 0.4 (4).

The third term started with the Knights rebounding out of defence, as Newton had a couple of deft touches in to keep the ball moving in space and heading forward. A timely intercept mark by Patrikios dropping back to half-back repelled the attack. The Knights were pressing however, and eventually the ball got free from Bannan at a stoppage over the top of a couple of opponents to Morris-Dalton who ran on and kicked her third major of the game. Trailing by 26 points, the Cannons had an attempt on goal off the ground but mistimed and went out of bound. Calder was refusing to give in and having its share of opportunities despite Northern being efficient when going forward. Prespakis went onto McKenzie in defence in a match-up that draft watchers were keen to see for the future and the first contest saw Prespakis pick up the loose ball after McKenzie slip over and kick long, then read the ball perfectly again and kicked to the wing. Bannan gave it over to McKenzie who was immediately tackled by Patrikios in defence, but was deemed to have infringed and McKenzie had a set shot which fell short in the square. The Cannons were holding up in defence, but for all the intercept marks in defence, could not push it past half-back and the Knights continued to drive hard forward. Britney Gutknecht had a chance on goal from 40m but it drifted to the right and bounced through for a behind and the Knights led 5.2 (32) to Calder 0.4 (4). The siren sounded and the Knights were 15 minutes away from the premiership glory that eluded them 12 months earlier.

Sensing the urgency in the game, Calder rushed the ball forward and Magri had a shot on goal but just missed. And the deficit was 27 points again. The Cannons continued to push forward and throw everything out on the table, with Theodore pushing forward and taking a good mark and sending it inside 50. It led to Magri winning a free for high contact and having a set shot from 25m out, which drifted to the left and all but spelled the end for Calder’s chances. McKenzie had the highlight of the match, taking a massive seven-bounce run from half-back to half-forward as the crowd got behind her. The Knights were going to hold on with seven minutes left. If the game was not already done and dusted, by the time Bannan ran onto an intercept ball and slammed it home from point blank, it was game over. The Knights were celebrating with just two minutes left as they led by 33 points. The Cannons defence had held up relatively well in a game that the Knights had control of, and were efficient with their inside 50s, but the minor premiers were just too strong, running out the game to run out 33-point winners, 5.9 (39) to 0.6 (6).

Aside from Fitzgerald and Morris-Dalton who were prominent in the forward half, Newton had 15 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Sarah Sansonetti had 14 disposals and three rebounds stopping multiple Cannons attacks. Gutknecht (14 dipsosals, two marks and five tackles) was also prolific for the winners, while Patrikios (24 disposals, nine tackles, six inside 50s and six rebounds) and Prespakis (20 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s, two rebounds) both impressed.

For full game and individual player statistics click here.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 3.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 | 5.9 (39)
CALDER CANNONS 0.0 | 0.4 | 0.4 | 0.6 (6)

GOALS:

Northern: N. Morris-Dalton 3, A. Bannan 2, E. McKenzie.
Calder: Nil.

ADC BEST:

Northern: J. Fitzgerald, G. Newton, N. Morris-Dalton, E. McKenzie, B. Gutknecht, S. Sansonetti
Calder: G. Prespakis, G. Patrikios, E. Yassir, A. Magri, A. Barba, F. Theodore

NAB League Girls Grand Final preview: Northern Knights v. Calder Cannons

AN exciting end to season 2019 of NAB League Girls is set to take place on Saturday as minor premiers, Northern Knights take on an unexpected opposition in Calder Cannons following a dominant performance over reigning premiers, Geelong Falcons in the preliminary finals.

Northern Knights v. Calder Cannons

NAB League Girls Grand Final – 25/05/2019
2:00pm
Ikon Park – Carlton

Regardless of the final score, a tough slog by both teams is to be expected when Northern Knights take on Calder Cannons in a battle for premiership glory. Calder Cannons have made a strong case to push the Knights after a phenomenal effort saw the Cannons hand Geelong a 35 point loss, while Northern almost got knocked out of finals contention by Eastern Ranges but held them off to win by a single goal margin. Calder and Northern did not play the each other during the season due to there being only nine rounds, so this match is sure to see some big performances and match-ups across the board.

Northern’s performance this season should be commended, with an exceptional nine wins – including a six-point victory against Eastern Ranges last week – and one draw under their belts to remain undefeated in 2019. Calder’s season may not have the same cleanliness to it, but despite three losses the side continued to push and ultimately were rewarded with a victory over one of the most prolific teams in the competition. Calder’s unexpected dominance sees the club get an opportunity to go for their second premiership since the inaugural NAB League/TAC Cup Girls season, when the side finished top of the ladder with no finals system in place prior to 2018, while Northern will come into this match with a fire in the belly after going down to Geelong last season.

Northern leading disposal winner and captain, Gabby Newton provided great run through the midfield with 19 touches and 10 tackles to lead her side to victory last week, while half-forward and target inside 50, Nell Morris-Dalton stood up when it counted against Eastern last week, finishing with 22 touches and four goals for her best performance of the season. However with competition leading disposal winner, Georgie Prespakis and ball magnet, Georgia Patrikios taking the field in opposition on the weekend, it will be a battle of the mids as both sides look to penetrate inside 50 and create scoring opportunities. With an even spread contributing to the margin for both sides last week, both teams will want to come out firing with precision and accuracy to take an early lead. Getting the ball in should not be an issue given both teams boast strong targets forward, however it will be what players do with the ball that could turn the tides. If Calder put in a full team effort the likes of their match against the Falcons, they could push the Knights all the way and really bring it down to the wire. A number of big names are set to line up in opposition this week, with the likes of Northern’s Alyssa Bannan, Britney Gutknecht and Ellie McKenzie electric with ball in hand, backed up by the strong efforts and leadership of Newton. Calder’s midfield trio of Prespakis, Patrikios and Alana Barba is just as exciting while defensively, the likes of Sarah Sansonetti (Northern) and Felicity Theodore (Calder) are the ones to watch with good awareness and ability to move the ball to advantage under pressure.

TEAMS

NORTHERN KNIGHTS

B: 2. S. Fell, 10. P. Chisholm, 30. M. Plunkett
HB: 9. M. Chaplin, 18. S. Sansonetti, 17. C. Fitzgerald
C: 11. M. Appleby, 23. G. Newton, 14. J. Fitzgerald
HF: 20. C. Linssen, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 29. T. Pulcino
F: 6. A. Bannan, 36. T. Smart, 21. E. McKenzie
R: 1. J. Nelson, 22. B. Gutknecht, 16. Z. Flanigan
Int: 7. A. Bennett, 8. G. Ceravolo, 26. M. Papachristos, 38. L. Picioane, 31. M. Ramsay, 35. J. Simpson, 34. M. Uwland

In: M. Uwland, M. Ramsay, L. Picioane

CALDER CANNONS

B: 4. K. Lennox, 19. P. Poultney, 2. F. Theodore
HB: 24. K. Delia, 18. T. Gillard, 31. K. Petrevski
C: 38. L. Cocomello, 21. G. Patrikios, 8. Z. Friswell
HF: 22. M. Muller, 5. N. Crowley, 3. E. Yassir
F: 34. Z. Hardiman, 42. T. Crook, 25. A. Magri
R: 17. G. Sampson, 41. G. Prespakis, 11. A. Barba
Int: 40. C. Brown, 1. H. Cooke, 32. T. Fry, 15. M. McLeod, 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 9. M. Styles, 35. I. Young

In: M. Styles, M. McLeod, I. McNeill-Wren

STATISTICS:

Ave Disposals: Georgia Patrikios (CC – 23.1), Georgie Prespakis (CC – 22.9), Gabby Newton (NK – 19.8)
Ave Marks: Georgia Patrikios (CC – 3.3), Gabby Newton (NK – 2.8), Georgie Prespakis (CC – 2.7), Ellie McKenzie (NK – 2.7)
Ave Tackles: Alana Barba (CC – 7.3), Georgie Prespakis (CC – 5.8), Jess Fitzgerald (NK – 5.7)
Ave Hitouts: Georgie Sampson (CC – 15.2), Jaime Nelson (NK – 14.4), Tamsin Crook (CC – 7.1)
Goals: Alyssa Bannan (NK – 13.5), Georgie Prespakis (CC – 13.5), Nell Morris-Dalton (12.7)

2019 RESULTS:

Northern Knights:

R1: defeated Murray Bushrangers by 76 points
R2: drew with Oakleigh Chargers
R3: defeated Western Jets by 25 points
R4: defeated Sandringham Dragons by 21 points
R5: defeated Eastern Ranges by 24 points
R6: defeated Gippsland Power by 45 points
R7: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 53 points
R8: defeated Geelong Falcons by 36 points
R9: defeated GWV Rebels by 45 points
PF: defeated Eastern Ranges by 6 points

Calder Cannons:

R1: defeated Western Jets by 27 points
R2: defeated GWV Rebels by 58 points
R3: defeated Sandringham Dragons by 23 points
R4: lost to Oakleigh Chargers by 10 points
R5: defeated Murray Bushrangers by 27 points
R6: lost to Eastern Ranges by four points
R7: lost to Geelong Falcons by 14 points
R8: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 21 points
R9: defeated Gippsland Power by 31 points
PF: defeated Geelong Falcons by 35 points

Northern:

When in front…

QTR: 8-0-1
HT: 9-0-1
3QTR: 9-0-1

When trailing…

QTR: 1-0
HT:
3QTR:

Calder:

When in front…

QTR: 5-1
HT: 5-1
3QTR: 7-0

When trailing…

QTR: 2-2
HT: 2-2
3QTR: 0-3

FUN FACTS:

1. Eastern Ranges’ 7.1 (43) was the highest score a team had kicked against Northern Knights all season, with the last three Knights wins seeing them power to a total score of 22.25 (157) to 1.17 (23) in Rounds 7-9.
2. Neither side has lost when leading at three quarter time, meaning one of those streaks will be broken.
3. Northern Knights have trailed only one at a break – four points against Eastern Ranges at quarter time in Round 5.

Draft Central Team of the Year: NAB League Girls

WITH so many impressive individuals performing across the NAB League Girls nine-week season, it was incredibly tough to pick our Draft Central Team of the Year for 2019. The Team of the Year is decided by the amount of Team of the Week nominations a player receives, with everyone in the team receiving between three and seven nominations for the year. There were a further 10 players who were unlucky to miss out on the team despite receiving three nominations, while another 18 players – 52 in total – received at least two nominations.

Three players received the highest amount of nominations, with Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis, Dandenong Stingrays’ Brooke Vernon and Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis making our Team of the Week seven times. Georgostathis has been named captain of the side, having led the Jets in season 2019. Two other club captains – Geelong Falcons’ Lucy McEvoy and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Sophie Molan – as well as Falcons midfielder Paige Sheppard, received six nominations to make our 24-player squad.

It is a phenomenal effort to even have five nominations – more than half the possible games – and Sandringham Dragons duo, Sarah Hartwig and Alice Burke, Northern Knights duo Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht, Calder Cannons captain Georgia Patrikios, and Eastern Ranges tall Serena Gibbs all achieved that feat. In terms of those players with four nominations and thus automatically qualifying for the side are Stingrays’ key defender Zoe Hill, potential Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, Gippsland Power defender Matilda Van Berkel, Murray Bushrangers’ captain Millie Brown, and Northern Knights middle-age duo Jess Fitzgerald and Ellie McKenzie.

Of the remaining six players chosen to make the side, there were Oakleigh Chargers duo Emily Harley and Gemma Lagioia, both of whom have been electrifying at times in an even team, top five leading goalkicker, Northern’s Nell Morris-Dalton, Geelong Falcons talls; competition leading goalkicker Mia Skinner and reliable defender Abbey Chapman, and Bendigo Pioneers tackling machine Brooke Hards. The emphasis for the remaining players with three nominations was to allow for top-agers to fill the side, but Hards’ efforts were that impressive – summed up by winning the Bendigo Pioneers’ Best and Fairest award – that she earned a spot in the side.

In terms of club spread, it is no surprise to see minor premiers Northern Knights with the most nominees, having five in the side, while reigning premiers Geelong Falcons had four. A number of sides had two each including finalists, Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges, as well as Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons, while Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets had one player each. In terms of the three emergencies, key defenders Kate Douglass (Bendigo) and Isabelle Pritchard (Western), and Murray midfielder Abby Favell were the next three in line for a spot in the team.

Eight players followed up from their Draft Central Team of the Year in 2018 with a second nomination, those being Knights, Newton, Gutknecht and McKenzie, as well as Georgostathis, Burke, McEvoy and Patrikios.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Preliminary Finals

FINALS fever finally hit the NAB League Girls competition and in an exciting day of action, there were certainly plenty of standout performances on the big stage. Here are Michael Alvaro‘s opinion-based scouting notes on a mix of the most outstanding players on the day, and others selected in the Victorian sides for this year’s National Championships.

Northern Knights vs. Eastern Ranges

Northern:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

The Knights’ forward focal point continued her scintillating end-of-season form, booting over half of her side’s goals to finish with a bag of four. Morris-Dalton’s competitiveness inside 50 both in the air and at ground level played a big part in allowing Northern to make the most of their forward entries, while also locking the ball in. The Fitzroy junior’s marking overhead has greatly improved, and she was simply on form in front of goal with clinical finishes on her left boot. While she prized a couple of goals out of nothing in open play, arguably her best came on the run with a booming kick, and she claimed two of her goals in the all-important third term as the Knights pulled away.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan is a constant threat in the forward half with her pace and smarts over the back, and while she was quiet at times, this game proved no different. Unable to consistently find her trademark forward run from half-forward, Bannan spent a lot of time inside 50, where she took a nice overhead mark in the third quarter and slotted the resultant set shot – which proved to be the difference between the sides. Bannan’s best moment came with a couple of running bounces through the corridor which made the crowd stand up.

#11 Maykaylah Appleby

One to watch for a couple of years’ time, Appleby was terrific for the Knights on the wing. At still only 15 years of age, Appleby looked more than up to the level – as she has proven in her previous eight games to date. The bottom-ager provided great forward run throughout the day and constantly looked dangerous with ball in hand. Caught the eye with a sensational running goal in the second term and loves a celebration.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti’s role was always going to be important against Eastern’s tall timber, and she well and truly stood up to the task. By no means had a high-disposal output, but the key defender did most of the defensive things well while looking to thwart the influence of Serena Gibbs for large chunks of the game. Really came to life in the fourth quarter with some physical showings around the contest – tackling hard up on the wing and pushing the Knights forward with presence from one-on-one wins.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Talk about weapons, McKenzie is one of those players coaches wish they had two of. Snapped the first goal of the game starting one-out at full-forward, and had another opportunity to hit the scoreboard in the third term, but missed her shot on the run after rounding an opponent. Proved a match-winner in the second half with a move into the midfield – seen intercepting twice on defensive 50, winning crucial clearances from the centre bounces when the Ranges were pressing late, and slowing the game down in the final two minutes with composure beyond her years. Will again prove vital in the grand final, and stands out in high-paced contested games as her clean hands allows for more time on the ball and better decisions.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht was an absolute bull at the stoppages, burrowing in to prize out contested possessions and tackling hard all day. The versatile midfielder-forward spent all of her time in the engine room, providing great drive with clearing kicks and short runs out of traffic. Had an outstanding second half where she seemed to be involved in everything, accumulating key possessions at important times to prove her worth as part of Northern’s star midfield trio.

#23 Gabby Newton

It is unlikely that much more can be made about how good Newton is, and she was outstanding once again here. Playing her usual role in the midfield, Newton toned down her use of handballs and belted the Knights forward on multiple occasions early on with clearing kicks from centre bounces. Accumulating at her normally high rate across the day, Newton led from the front in a consistent display. The Northern skipper’s smarts in more of an extracting role proved crucial, with Newton’s ability to keep her hands free allowing her to escape traffic and dispose of the ball effectively. Newton’s overhead marking was again also a feature, forming a one-woman wall across the forward 50 arc. A prime example of that was when she marked from an Eastern kick-out, cleverly shifting to one side before charging back into the open space to intercept and frustrate the Ranges coaches. A step above.

Eastern:

#21 Olivia Meagher

Meagher played an absolute blinder for the Ranges, showing true heart to almost drag her side over the line from midfield. Hard to miss in her helmet, Meagher caught the eye in a different way on this occasion, providing scintillating run from the stoppages and in open play. Showed her intentions early in that sense with a two-bounce dash from defensive wing, with the rest of her breakaways coming through traffic and ending with a kick forward. Won her fair share of contested ball, but was also a danger across the forward 50 arc – finding the goals on the back of a 50-metre penalty in the second term, and assisting one of Madeline Di Cosmo’s two in the second half. Her defensive plays were just as important, laying a big tackle on Ellie McKenzie to set the tone late on, while also affecting a smother which would start the chain for Riley Hall’s goal to cut the margin to six points. A great overall effort, and we can look forward to more next year.

#26 Tarni Brown

It was by no means Brown’s most prolific day, but she started on the right note. The 2020 Collingwood father-daughter prospect was good alongside Meagher in competing against a stacked Northern midfield, winning clearances and proving tough in tackles. She would lay a few of her own too, but her best moment came with a smart steal as the ball was in dispute, which she ended nicely with a clearing kick to enter forward 50. Another we will see more of next year.

#33 Tess Flintoff

Very unlucky to miss out on being named in Eastern’s best for mine, but Flintoff has another two years in the system to rack up the votes. The midfielder is one of the best marking players in the competition, and showcased her skill in that area with phenomenal reading of the play and positioning. Often employed a kick behind the ball in open play, Flintoff had a purple patch in the third term with a series of intercept possessions, while also taking an impressive diving slips catch to show off her highly-touted junior cricketing skills. Flintoff’s clearance game was also strong – particularly when you consider her opposition – and she accumulated well throughout the day.

#39 Laura McClelland

It was not a huge day out of McClelland, but she started well in her usual post at half-forward. She helped the Ranges move forward well, acting as a link in the chain towards forward 50 – often collecting the ball on the arc and wheeling around to boot towards goal. McClelland did so twice in the opening few minutes, and popped up again in the third term with some nice work up the ground.

#41 Tahlia Merrett

One of Eastern’s many tall prospects, Merrett provided good value at either end of the ground. Starting at full-forward and later pitching in through the ruck, Merrett was an important part of the Ranges’ structure and helped to keep the Knights’ defence on its toes. Missed a long-range set shot in the third term but found the goals earlier on, and was later thrown down back to show her versatility.

#46 Serena Gibbs

Touted as a key player before the game for her ability to consistently find the goals, but Gibbs was unable to do so in this game. While she was limited at times by Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, Gibbs competed well and looked to stand up in the closing stages with a big tackle and terrific overhead mark as the Ranges surged home. The over-ager also took on some of the ruck duties inside forward 50 and looked comfortable there as well.

Geelong Falcons vs. Calder Cannons

Geelong:

#12 Laura Gardiner

Gardiner capped off a fine middle-age year with another solid display, mixing time between her customary wing position and the inside. While she got her hands on the ball well at stoppages, her usual clearing kicks forward went lateral at times, somewhat limiting her damage. Undeterred, Gardiner competed well all day and is one to keep an eye on for next year.

#18 Darcy Moloney

The middle-ager had a quiet opener but built into the game nicely, spending time on half-forward and up on the wing. Moloney became influential in the second half, starting with a nice intercept mark on the Falcons’ forward 50 arc. While she missed the resultant set shot, she followed up the kick well and was unlucky to miss again with another shot on goal – this time though a snap. Moloney’s luck continued to go against her as a long shot on goal which was on target took an unfortunate bounce in the goalsquare, but her ability to create those three chances was hugely promising. Has obvious midfield credentials, but looked very good forward of centre.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman again found herself in uncharted territory as the Falcons defence came under siege, and she again stood tall despite the defeat. Her mopping up deep inside defensive 50 early on was composed, but Chapman came up short on one occasion where she spilt a mark and gifted Alana Barba her opportunistic goal. Bounced back in the second half to save another Cannons goal with a clutch tackle, and followed up with a perfectly placed kick to find touch. Will be a key part of Vic Country’s campaign in the upcoming National Championships.

#24 Mia Skinner

Playing her typical half-forward role, Skinner tried her level best to manufacture the usual chances she would get to pepper the goals. While she worked hard up the ground to provide an option and link inside forward 50, Skinner’s best work came within the arc. She converted Geelong’s only goal with a set shot in the second term, had two quick-fire chances smothered, snapped one shot out on the full, and missed another. Skinner is great at getting dangerous positions and finding the ball in all the right areas, it is just unfortunate that on this occasion, she was hardly given a clean look to duly finish off her hard work.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

The Falcons’ skipper again led from the front and was simply outstanding. Won the first clearance of the game and launched a couple of huge kicks forward as she sought to set the tone for her side through the midfield. She has shown her ability to play just about anywhere, but took it to another level in this game with stints in the ruck after quarter time – playing more like a fourth midfielder at the centre bounces as the Falcons looked to thwart the impact of Calder’s firing midfield stars. McEvoy also tackled well and rose to the occasion with some fantastic overhead marking. Her positioning behind the ball while it was inside the Falcons’ forward 50 was effective, but McEvoy also ventured inside the arc and almost scrounged a goal with a snap out of congestion. Can hold her head up high, great performance as Geelong’s clear best.

#39 Renee Tierney

Tierney started brightly, tackling hard to win a holding the ball free kick which she used to punt inside 50. Given time in the midfield, Tierney won a couple of nice clearances to set Geelong forward and got involved well in a slightly different role. Went on to spend time all around the ground and will be one of Geelong’s better top-agers next year.

Calder:

#2 Felicity Theodore

Named at half-forward, Theodore took on a role in the back half on this occasion. The top-ager competed well in defensive 50 and swept up the scraps well at ground level throughout the day. While her kicking was a little shaky in the first half, she showed her ability to hit targets more effectively in the second, finding Emelia Yassir well from a free kick. A solid performer in the sturdy Calder defence.

#3 Emelia Yassir

Yassir put in an incredible performance to be named the Cannons’ best as part of a trio of promising Calder bottom-agers. After finding the goals in the first term as her side broke to an early lead, Yassir never looked back. The bite-sized forward played well above her height, marking strongly up the ground and becoming a key link into the forward 50. Played out of her skin, but could be one to keep an eye on in the coming years.

#4 Kasey Lennox

Another outstanding Calder bottom-ager on the day, Lennox was a rock in defence. The Calder back six collectively stood tall to intercept a wealth of high balls which entered their own 50 arc, and Lennox played a key part in that factor. The 15-year-old looked unfazed by the challenge, and is already a good height to play as a key defender.

#11 Alana Barba

Barba played a fantastic game as the third prong in a dynamic Calder midfield, and made arguably the best start to the game of all three. After a previous dribbled effort fell short, the top-ager cleverly snatched a spilled mark off her Falcons opponent and snapped truly, lifting her side with a big celebration to boot. While she did not find as much room to move after half time, Barba won some nice clearances and played her role well.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is an out-and-out leader, and stood up when it mattered as arguably the most skilful player on the ground. Winning clearances and providing a wealth of run, Patrikios delivered the ball aptly on both sides and was one of the more effective short passers by foot on the day. She is just so clean on the ball and her searing pace means she is hardly caught in possession – if ever – making her such a damaging player. Patrikios used her pace well in a particular passage along the boundary, skipping past players as she soccered the ball forward for some valuable meterage. She also proved her smarts with a holding the ball tackle on the back of a 50-metre penalty against the Cannons, and proved tough in contested situations. Missed the chance to hit the scoreboard in the final quarter and cap off a big day, but should be proud with her effort to lead Calder to their unlikely win.

#38 Laura Cocomello

‘Coco’ was combative on the wing, helping the Cannons to both break forward and keep the ball inside attacking 50. Cocomello’s overhead marking was impressive at times, with one from behind over the smaller Elise Vella a particular highlight. The middle-ager’s ability to keep her hands up allowed her to escape tackles well, and she was usually impactful with ball in hand. Had the chance to find the goals with a long-range set shot in the final term, but fell short.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

We are running out of superlatives to describe how scarily good Prespakis is at just 16 years of age, and she looked to have thrived in the finals atmosphere. Hard to miss in her standard long-sleever, Prespakis was the anchor at each centre bounce for the Cannons, bursting forward on multiple occasions and slicing through traffic with ease, while often finishing with a long roost inside 50. Laid a huge holding the ball tackle on Geelong star Lucy McEvoy the second term to further prove Calder’s intentions, and was an unstoppable presence around the ground all day. She was simply damaging with almost every possession, and has the ability to make opponents look silly in open space as she looks to deliver forward. Is the leading prospect for 2021 at this stage, and is more than living up to her pedigree.

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals preview – Grand Final spots up for grabs at Shepley

FINALS fever hits the NAB League Girls competition, with a revamped finals series set to get underway at Shepley Oval on Saturday. A spot in the grand final is on the line in both games as first does battle with fourth, and second plays third. In the weekend’s other game, Oakleigh hosts Tasmania at Windy Hill in a one-off exhibition.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS (1st, 8-0-1) vs. EASTERN RANGES (4th, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 12:30pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels 0.5 (5)
Eastern Ranges 3.1 (19) defeated by Sandringham Dragons 3.5 (23)

Last Meeting:
Round 5 – Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Eastern Ranges 4.2 (26) @ La Trobe University Oval

MATCH PREVIEW

The undefeated Knights came into the year as strong premiership fancies, and firmed as favourites with their 36-point Round 8 win over reigning premiers, Geelong – avenging their 2018 grand final defeat and snapping the Falcons’ two-year winning run in one fell swoop. The only hiccup in Northern’s season thus far was a Round 2 draw with Oakleigh, with the best attack in the league and a raft of stars helping them ease to eight wins – including ones over two fellow finals sides. They are only one step away from a second-consecutive grand final berth, but an exciting Eastern team stands in the way. The Ranges are one of the best marking sides in the competition, and can compete with most teams on their day, but suffered a couple of disappointing losses to lower-ranked sides and had a close encounter with Tasmania in Round 7. Their narrow margins of victory and defeat – including three wins by under a goal – make for heart-stopping games, but their more convincing wins like their 51-point one over Gippsland show why they are always a chance. Eastern’s prime movers in the middle include potential 2020 Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, as well as gun bottom-ager Tess Flintoff, and Olivia Meagher, but their most potent threats will come through the tall duo of Laura McClelland and Serena Gibbs forward of centre. Northern key back Sarah Sansonetti has been in terrific in recent weeks, and could well find herself playing on both of those Ranges talls throughout the game. While her role will prove vital, if the likes of Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, and Ellie McKenzie are thrown into the middle at the same time as we have seen recently, it may be tough for the Ranges to venture forward in the first place. The versatility of those three will make a huge difference, and one would think the range of Knights weapons could well prove too much as it did in the side’s previous meeting. With Northern getting one back on Geelong two weeks ago to come in as the top seed, and Eastern suffering a defeat in their final regular season outing, this will be a tough mountain to climb for the Ranges.

KEY PLAYERS

Northern:

Gabby Newton

The Northern skipper has been sensational throughout the year, averaging almost 20 disposals over her eight NAB League games. Much has already been made of her basketball background, with the gun midfielder showing off her hops in the ruck at times and her equally impressive composure in traffic to no end. While her starting position will most likely be at the centre bounces, Newton’s role as a general behind the ball will be key in this clash – with a potent Eastern tall duo likely to line up down forward. Her intercept marking and overall overhead prowess is profound, so look for that to be a feature in this game along with her consistent ball-winning ability – with over 20 disposals in five games this year. Versatile and damaging, Newton is key.

Eastern:

Serena Gibbs

Gibbs is one of three Eastern talls who pose an enormous risk to the Northern defence, often trading time between centre half-forward and the ruck. If she is matched up on Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, the clash becomes one of the more important ones for the game with the likes of Laura McClelland and Tahlia Merrett also able to be freed up should they play forward at the same time. Gibbs has found the goals in seven of her nine NAB League appearances, led by a dominant 3.4 from 18 disposals against Gippsland in Round 8. While her Round 9 return saw her collect under 10 disposals for just the third time, Gibbs has been a consistently dangerous threat and will be a key focal point this time around.

GEELONG FALCONS (2nd, 8-1) vs. CALDER CANNONS (3rd, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 2:15pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Geelong Falcons 8.7 (55) defeated Murray Bushrangers 1.1 (7)
Calder Cannons 5.7 (37) defeated Gippsland Power 1.0 (6)

Last Meeting:
Round 7 – Geelong Falcons 3.2 (20) defeated Calder Cannons 1.0 (6) @ RAMS Arena

MATCH PREVIEW

The Geelong Falcons bounced back well from their Round 8 loss to Northern – their first since May 2017 – to secure second place with a welcome return to form, toppling Murray by 48 points after conceding the first goal. Their depth across all lines is scary good, but their premiership defence has largely been built on a typically sturdy back six and dominant midfield, with their forward structure taking greater shape across the year. Abbey Chapman has led the league’s stingiest defence all year, with the Falcons’ highest score conceded (43) coming against Northern, while the likes of skipper Lucy McEvoy, Paige Sheppard, and Luka Lesosky-Hay have been instrumental in the engine room. Pair the inside grunt of those three with the outside class of Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney on either wing, and you have a midfield that is hard to beat to say the least. Mia Skinner has been the spearhead forward of centre, booting a league-high 18 goals – including two bags of four – having only been held goalless on two occasions, in Rounds 7 and 8. The Cannons have some firepower of their own, which more often than not comes from star duo, Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis. Both have the ability to not only find a wealth of the ball through the middle, but to also find the goals – exemplified by Prespakis’ bag of seven in Round 2 from full forward. Prespakis, the sister of Carlton star Maddie, has averaged 23.3 disposals over her eight games with two returns of over 30 touches, while Patrikios averages just over 22 in her seven outings, and the pair should provide a dynamism that Geelong will have to pay great attention to. Include talls at either end, such as the likes of Alana Barba up forward and Krstel Petrevski, along with Makeisha Muller at ground level, and there are some interesting moving parts to the Calder line-up. Having already gotten the better of Calder as recently as in Round 7, Geelong will be confident of repeating the feat and storming into another grand final. If Calder can again keep the Falcons to under four goals though, then anything can happen. Expect fireworks either way.

KEY PLAYERS

Geelong:

Lucy McEvoy

Able to be utilised on each line, the Falcons skipper is arguably her side’s most important player. An ultra-consistent force, McEvoy has only dropped below 20 disposals once in her eight games – incidentally in the Falcons’ only loss – to average 22.2 disposals per outing. Her presence at the centre bounces in undeniable, using her size to prize the ball out and her composure to flick out effective handballs to receivers. In general play, McEvoy utilises a booming kick to rebound and enter either arc, while positioning herself a kick behind the play to act as an impenetrable wall at both ends. Her overhead marking is a feature, but expect to see her mostly in the thick of the midfield action given Calder’s strength in that area.

Calder:

Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is all but equal to McEvoy in her disposal output, but provides a different kind of threat from midfield. Having shown how damaging she can be on the outside during her bottom-age year, Patrikios has developed into a balanced midfielder very quickly, but is still often seen bursting away from congestion and delivering forward with aplomb. The Cannons star’s best game came in Round 7 against the Falcons, collecting 31 disposals and finding the goals, so she will hope to produce more of the same here. With the strength of Geelong’s midfield obvious, Patrikios’ point of difference in her pace will be key amidst that battle.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 19, 11:00am
Windy Hill

Oakleigh hosts Tasmania on neutral ground for a one-off friendly game, completing a hat-trick of Devils NAB League appearances. With Oakleigh narrowly missing finals, this game poises the travelling side against the best of the rest as finals gets underway, and will be a third opportunity for them to pick up a win in the competition. Tasmania entered in Round 7 with two games over three days, going down to Western by 37 points under Friday night lights, and giving Eastern a mighty scare just two days later. Oakleigh will be keen to finish off the season with another win to make it six all up, but the Devils showed their fighting spirit already and should provide a good test for the Chargers. The game will also be a curtain raiser for the NAB League boys clash between Gippsland and Greater Western Victoria at 1:00.