Tag: GWV Rebels

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 16

THE NAB League made its latest return on Sunday, with two games pitting four country regions agains each other. The Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power picked up wins against higher-ranked adversaries, with rising prospects of all different age-groups impressive. We take a look at some of the top performers from each side in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 16 snapshot

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.16 (28) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.12 (66)

By: Michael Alvaro

Bendigo Pioneers:

#1 Sam Conforti

Once again starting among Bendigo’s back six, Conforti constantly looked to generate some spark on the rebound and set his side on the front foot. Tasked with the kick-in duties, the top-ager also got to work by foot in general play with a sharp short-range game and crafty smarts in possession. He had no trouble finding the ball with a team-high 25 disposals in midfield and defence, but also got his hands dirty with 11 tackles as one of the Pioneers’ more consistent and prominent four-quarter performers.

#4 Jack Hickman

Another of Bendigo’s nippy small midfielders, Hickman returned another promising outing with his evasive work around the contest. His spurts of speed and agility meant making space at stoppages was a key feature, with the top-ager able to get to the outer and generate a bit of forward momentum from the middle. One of his highlights was a four-bounce run from defence to the wing which sparked a coast-to-coast passage for Bendigo. He had a chance to hit the scoreboard in term four, but missed his shot from range on the run.

#56 Harley Reid

Get used to reading plenty about Reid for years to come, as the 2023-eligible prospect was again impressive for Bendigo. Having been utilised on a wing and more prominently up forward, Reid was given an extended run in midfield this time out to good effect. He showcased terrific speed coming away from congestion, cleanly bursting to the outside and pumping the ball forward by foot. His explosiveness also served well defensively, as Reid laid some ferocious tackles and dug in for repeat efforts around the ball. He couldn’t quite find the goals this time out from a couple of tough chances, but impacted with each act.

Geelong Falcons:

#3 Euriah Hollard

Hollard returned to the fold and made a splash in his usual small forward role, snaring a game-high three goals from 11 disposals and five scoring shots. The 178cm livewire made things happen when the ball entered his area, attacking it with intent and causing headaches for opposition defenders with his pressure. He could easily have finished with five goals, but finished his three nicely through differing methods; a crumb and snap, a steady drop punt on the run, and a punchy set shot. His scoreboard contribution helped Geelong really put the foot down.

#8 Jhye Clark

With his level of performance thus far in the NAB League, it’s easy to forget that Clark is a bottom-ager. He registered 25 disposals, 10 marks and six inside 50s on the back of outstanding work-rate both at and away from the contest, providing great balance in midfield. In possession, Clark provided opportunities for his forwards and used the ball well on both sides, while also displaying clean overhead marking skills around the ground. He booted a goal in term four with a quick finish on his left foot, proving good reward for effort.

#11 Cooper Whyte

Offering speed and a hard edge in midfield, Whyte again showed flashes of style for the Falcons in a solid outing. The 18-year-old consistently attacked the ball with vigour and looked to get his legs pumping in possession, allowing for swift stoppage exits. He kicked his side inside 50 on seven occasions with that potent left foot and even managed a couple of shots on goal – albeit registering two behinds. His second attempt came after a terrific mark at full stretch, displaying notable courage with contact imminent.

#26 Olivier Northam

While his numbers (nine disposals, four marks, one goal) may not jump off the page, Northam had some memorable moments on Sunday. The bottom-aged ruck spent a good amount of time forward with primary bigman Toby Conway returning, which allowed him to showcase his strong lead presentation and clean marking ability. With a knack for flying high, Northam almost pulled down a speccy in term three and booted a goal in the same period, beating his direct opponent one-out in the goalsquare. He also competed well at ground level, making for a well-rounded effort.

#28 Mitch Knevitt

The most outstanding player across both NAB League games on Sunday, Knevitt continues to boost his stocks after yet another ominous outing in midfield. At 193cm, his contested work was again strong and the 18-year-old dominated in that sense, proving difficult to bring down. Arguably even more impressive was his sustained impact around the ground and up forward, with Knevitt’s work-rate and pack marking leading to a statline boasting 36 disposals and 10 marks. His handling was so clean with one-grab takes in every context, and one of his contested marks lead directly to a third term major. He’s a prospect on the rise.

#56 Oscar Morrison

Another player whose stats (16 disposals, three marks, two rebound 50s) may not tell the full story, Morrison produced some of the game’s most exciting passages from defence. His intercept marking ability was again observed on a couple of occasions, but it was the 18-year-old’s daring dash which really caught the eye. The 193cm bolter backed his pace to burn opponents through the corridor, before delivering spearing balls inside 50 to leading targets. In a flash, Geelong had gone coast-to-coast. While he had some quiet patches, Morrison’s best was really damaging and he seems to have gained a good deal of confidence this season.

#60 Toby Conway

The 204cm bigman returned to action for the Falcons and played his usual game through the ruck, also rotating forward. Conway positioned relatively well around the ground and while he only clunked two marks, competed for many more and had a few ‘almost moments’. In the ruck, he won 23 hit-outs and looked to assert his size by prizing clearances, though 12 of his 14 touches came by hand. It was a solid overall effort from the Vic Country representative.

>> Player Focus: Mitch Knevitt

GIPPSLAND POWER 8.7 (55) def. GWV REBELS 6.12 (48)

By: Declan Reeve

Gippsland Power:

#1 Jacob Konstanty

The Under 17s Vic Country representative was a livewire around the ground throughout the contest, putting up an impressive game for a smaller forward. Konstanty kicked two goals; the first coming from a ground ball pick up in the forward 50, with a little burst away and a neat snap from the pocket, and the second coming when he hit arrived front and centre in the goalsquare with speed, snatching the ball and slamming it through. Not just kicking goals himself, Konstanty worked hard to create scoring opportunities for his side, with his competitiveness at ground level allowing him to win the ball and flick it out via hand inside 50. It was good to see Konstanty pushing up the ground and involving himself in the game even when Gippsland wasn’t getting it inside 50, with his pressure work resulting in stoppages and interrupting GWV’s momentum.

#4 Nathan Noblett

Despite being 183cm, Noblett was the most common target going inside 50 early on for Gippsland, getting himself three first half goals with an excellent display of work-rate inside 50. His most impressive goal came as he won the ball at ground level, quickly balanced himself and slotted it from right on the boundary. Noblett was often able to get separation from his direct opponent when making leads, but wasn’t always able to get free from GWV’s defensive structure.

#17 Luis D’Angelo

Arguably the biggest driver going forward for Gippsland, D’Angelo had periods where it felt like he was the only player on the ground as he won clearances and kicked long. At times beating Ben Hobbs around stoppages, GWV had to adapt to try and negate D’Angelo’s clearance winning. He did well below his knees to win the majority of ground balls he was around, often mopping up after GWV had rushed a kick out of defence.

#29 Bailey Humphrey

Humphrey really stepped up in the last quarter when the game was on the line, digging in and really powering through to win a couple of clearances in a row. His quick hands in close released his teammates well when he opted for that method, otherwise aiming for distance with his kicks from stoppages. He showed some good bursts of speed in close as well, to get separation from opponents quickly.

GWV Rebels:

#1 Sam Butler

After being eased into the midfield in prior games, Butler enjoyed a lot more time on-ball against the Power and showed exactly why he was given the opportunity with an impressive display. Butler added a touch of class to the midfield, complimenting the in-and-under nature of his teammates with composure and ball use. This didn’t stop Butler from showing off some grunt of his own, at times winning contested ball, then showing off his impressive acceleration to power away from opponents. The balanced nature of his game meant he was always a chance to be involved in a piece of play – whether that was winning the ball himself, receiving the releasing handball, or working hard to be an option further afield. A theme across Butler’s game was his work ethic; willing to run both ways, making efforts, and then following up and going again if he wasn’t used or rewarded.

#2 Ben Hobbs

Hobbs was yet again a reliable and hard-at-it player for the Rebels, never conceding a contest without giving it everything he had. Hobbs’ work in-and-under was unsurprisingly elite, fighting hard for front position around stoppages and hunting the ball, running through opponents to win it before firing out a handball to a teammate on the outside, or kicking for distance from congestion. It was impressive to see Hobbs stand up in as many tackles as he did, holding his balance well as opponents tried all they could to pull him down, dishing off a handball to keep the play going. 

#3 Charlie Molan

Lining up in the forward half, Molan’s two-way running was a highlight of his game, pushing back to assist the backline when GWV was under siege, and getting involved as a link-up player or tackler. When GWV had momentum, Molan was used as a marking target in the forward 50 a few times as he worked hard to get separation on opponents and take marks uncontested. He used the ball well, placing his kicks in front of teammates to run onto, or handballing quickly as they ran past to keep play moving. Molan was one that didn’t neglect his defensive duties in the forward 50 either, rushing at opponents to pressure them into a rushed disposal or applying the tackle for a stoppage.

#8 Josh Gibcus

A mixed bag from the key defender saw a relatively quiet first half, as he stuck to his opponent well enough that Gippsland rarely looked to use that option. This lead to a change-up in his approach to the game, as Gibcus started to drift away from his opponent more and more. He impacted contests inside 50, utilising his speed and leap to spoil the ball, while pushing forward to intercept higher up the ground as the game went on. Perhaps most impressive from Gibcus was the high level of his disposal, hitting some difficult handballs in open play and utilising the distance of his kick a bit more than usual, but more often than not going for a shorter switch option around the defensive 50.

#16 Kai Lohmann

Lohmann was electric in the forward half for the Rebels, with his ball use and work below his knees giving GWV some good opportunities in attack. His athletic advantage over most opponents ultimately led to his two goals for the game. The first came after he had picked the ball up of a bounce, sold candy to get around one opponent and then side-stepped another, before snapping the ball from the pocket. The second came as GWV burst away with the ball from a stoppage and Lohmann broke away from his opponent, taking a mark on the lead, then playing on and kicking the goal.

>> Player Focus: Charlie Molan

Featured Image: Geelong Falcons defender Oscar Morrison runs with the ball | Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

NAB League Player Focus: Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)

GREATER Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Charlie Molan is a hard-working midfielder who showed off his incredible versatility against Gippsland Power rotating between midfield and forward, but also getting back to help the defence when required. His gut-running, high work rate and defensive pressure were all highlights of his game, as he amassed 15 disposals, but took six marks and laid six tackles, and could have had an even greater say on the result, booting 1.3 during the seven-point defeat at Morwell.

Molan is rated in the mid-draft region this year, with Charlie hoping to follow sister Sophie (Richmond AFLW) into the elite leagues of Australian rules football. He has been a mirror of consistency this season, picking up double-digit disposals in each of his 10 games, wit ha season-high 26 disposals against the Power in their last outing back in Round 8. Not a huge accumulator necessarily, Molan generally makes good decisions and his defensive game cannot be questioned.

POCKET PROFILE

Charlie Molan
GWV Rebels/Vic Country

DOB: 23/01/2003
Height/Weight: 186cm/83kg
Position: Balanced Midfielder

2021 Averages:
NAB League
(10 games)

17.7 disposals | 4.1 marks | 2.4 tackles | 3.4 inside 50s | 2.0 rebound 50s | 0.2 goals (2 total)

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 NAB League, Round 16 | Gippsland Power 8.7 (55) def. GWV Rebels 6.12 (48)

#3 Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)

Stats: 15 disposals (9 kicks, 6 handballs), 6 marks, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 1 goal, 3 behinds

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Molan started the match forward and took a good uncontested mark 40m out about seven minutes into the contest. Despite being within range, he looked to spear a pass in but the Power defence was able to get a hand to it and force a stoppage. The tough utility’s work rate is what stands out on the field, and his determination to lay a fierce tackle on an opponent a couple of minutes later, forcing an out on the full kick and retaining possession in the forward half, exemplified what he has to offer. Molan took a strong contested grab 30m out on a tight angle and instead popped it up to key forward Josh Rentsch‘s advantage who marked and goaled from the top of the goalsquare. Later in the quarter, Molan was spotted running out of defence, showing quick hands to release a teammate on his outside, but then ran all the way to half-forward, not needing to pick up a possession, but laid a tackle on an opponent, allowing his teammate to score.

Q2:

The second term was Molan’s most productive with his most disposals and a couple of marks, tackles and an inside 50 being busy between midfield and forward. He started through the middle and took a mark in the opening minute, kicking long to half-forward, before going over not long after and laying a great tackle to lock the ball up. He was a little overzealous with a marking attempt and caught his opponent in front high when going for a grab inside 50, but had a great second half of the quarter. At the 13-minute mark, Molan won the ball from the stoppage in the middle, burst away to have a flying shot on goal from 55m but it just missed to the right for one behind. Five minutes later, he produced an effective handball credit to a lightning flick to a teammate at half-back, then pushed all the way to half-forward to mark uncontested 45m out. He opted to hit a shot spear pass inside 50 to a leading teammate. His quarter was not done though, with a couple of touches in the final few minutes, winning a free kick for a tackle on the wing and giving off a quick handball for a teammate to kick forward, before winning a clearance from a throw in and giving off the handball to another teammate to go inside 50 as the siren sounded.

Q3:

A quieter third term from Molan came after arguably his best effort of the day. Taking an uncontested mark inside 50 three and a half minutes into the quarter, his set shot from in front drifted to the left in the breeze, but it was what came next that caught the eye. He ran all the way from on the mark in front of goal to half-forward in order to lay a tackle and put pressure on his opponent rather than give him an easy run down the wing. Unfortunately Molan had a moment he would like back late in the term, where in the 19th minute he had a fumble inside 50, and could not cleanly take the ball after a couple of chances and was knocked over in the process. He had another touch in the last few minutes with a quick flick handball to a teammate in midfield.

Q4:

His fourth term was solid overall but it all came in the last 15 minutes of the match, with an under pressure snap close to goal just missing for another behind. Five minutes later he found space inside 50 and took a great uncontested mark 25m from goal, making no mistake this time from the slight angle set shot. In the final minute of the quarter, he laid a great tackle to lock the ball up at half-forward, then just before the siren, Molan tried to get out of the stoppage but was immediately tackled.

CLOSING THOUGHTS:

Charlie Molan was named best-on for the GWV Rebels in the Rebels’ loss to Gippsland Power. Whilst other teammates found more of the ball, it is easy to see why Molan’s efforts were rewarded by the coach, with some unbelievable defensive runs that either mowed down opponents and forced turnovers, or implied pressure to rush the decision making process. His work rate, defensive attributes and versatility was all on show, and he had a really consistent performance across the board.

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 16

THE 2021 NAB League season made its latest return on Sunday, with a quartet of Victorian regions getting on the park for a couple of all-country clashes. Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power both earned victories over higher-ranked sides, with shaking up the ladder with finals fast-approaching. We run you through all the results and big performances in the Round 16 snapshot, stay tuned for Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

>> Round 16 POTW: Mitch Knevitt

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.16 (28) def. by GEELONG FALCONS 9.12 (66)

IN A SENTENCE:

The Geelong Falcons kept and inaccurate Bendigo Pioneers side goalless in the first and fourth quarters, running out impressive 38-point winners in ideal conditions at Queen Elizabeth Oval.

TEAM STATS:

  • Bendigo Pioneers won the handballs (128-124) and rebound 50s (43-33)
  • Geelong Falcons won the kicks (218-168), marks (95-56), and inside 50s (52-39)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers) 25 disposals, 2 marks, 11 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Jack Hickman (Bendigo Pioneers) 17 disposals, 1 mark, 5 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers) 16 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 36 disposals, 10 marks, 3 tackles, 8 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons) 25 disposals, 10 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons) 21 disposals, 9 marks, 6 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Jhye Clark (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Olivier Northam (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)

NEXT UP:

To be confirmed.

GIPPSLAND POWER 8.7 (55) def. GWV REBELS 6.12 (48)

IN A SENTENCE: 

The Gippsland Power pulled off another massive boilover on home turf, leading the highly-touted GWV Rebels at every break and holding on to win by seven points in Morwell.

TEAM STATS:

  • Gippsland Power won the rebound 50s (44-26) and hit-outs (32-20)
  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (338-287), inside 50s (52-35), and tackles (71-52)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power) 28 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 25 disposals, 3 marks, 7 tackles, 9 inside 50s, 4 rebound 50s
  • Jess McGrath (Gippsland Power) 16 disposals, 5 marks, 8 rebound 50s
  • Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels) 32 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Nick Hodgson (GWV Rebels) 32 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 6 inside 50s
  • Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) 27 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)
4 – Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)
3 – Luis D’Angelo (Gippsland Power)
2 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
1 – Bailey Humphrey (Gippsland Power)

NEXT UP:

To be confirmed.

PREVIEW | NAB League goes country in latest return

THE 2021 NAB League season returns once more on Sunday afternoon, with eased lockdown restrictions seeing a quartet of the competition’s Country regions take centre stage. Two games remain for the four teams in action on Sunday, with the added potential for make-up fixtures and a Wildcard Round before finals. Meanwhile, Metro-based programs hope to return to the fold next weekend along with the Dandenong Stingrays and Murray Bushrangers.

Bendigo Pioneers lock horns with Geelong Falcons for the third time this season when they meet at Queen Elizabeth Oval at 1:00pm, with the ledger currently at an even 1-1. While Bendigo got the chocolates all the way back in Round 4, the Falcons hit back in Round 8 to square things up and set up an intriguing tiebreaker.

The 6-4 Pioneers sit second in the Country pool and are set to welcome back some strong talent. While AFL Academy member Cooper Hamilton remains out, twin brother Hugh returns to the fold and looks poised to join Harvey Gallagher and Jack Hickman in a strong midfield trio. Utility Cobi Maxted is also back after turning out for Collingwood’s VFL side last month, while the likes of Sam Conforti and Oskar Faulkhead offer sound rotation through midfield from either end of the ground.

Toby Conway is among the Geelong Falcons’ inclusions

Geelong boasts some handy inclusions of its own, headlined by 204cm ruck Toby Conway. The influential bigman comes in alongside fellow Vic Country representative Noah Gribble, who last made his VFL debut with Werribee. He shifts out to his familiar wing position with the likes of Mitch Knevitt, Cooper Whyte, and bottom-ager Jhye Clark taking spots on the inside. Top-ager Gennaro Bove remains and small forward Euriah Hollard is back, but the Falcons look set to go in without Noah Gadsby.

Sunday’s second fixture sees first battle last in the Country pool, as the 7-2 Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels travel to take on Gippsland Power (2-7) in Morwell. Despite their perfectly opposite records and current ladder positions, Gippsland picked up the more recent win after toppling Oakleigh Chargers last time out, while GWV went down to Sandringham Dragons. The Rebels easily accounted for their weekend opponents in Round 8 though, to the tune of 79 points on home turf.

The hosts welcome back top-age defender Jess McGrath after his two-game stint in the Richmond VFL set-up, slotting straight back in at centre half-back. Up the other end, Jai Serong has been named at full forward but will likely be thrown around in numerous roles, while bottom-agers Jacob Konstanty (forward) and Cooper Vickery (wing) are a couple to watch. In midfield, Mitchell Moschetti is in fine form and will look to add some polish alongside Luis D’Angelo as the Power move forward.

Ben Hobbs in action for Vic Country

GWV has again named a stacked side, with all nine of its Vic Country representatives available. A midfield squeeze is on the cards with top 10 talent Ben Hobbs named in there alongside Sam Butler and Sam Breuer, seeing the likes of Fraser Marris and Marcus Herbert squeezed out to flanks. Skipper Josh Rentsch may be set for more time in the ruck, and defender Josh Gibcus promises to catch the eye as always. On the interchange, tough midfielder Nick Hodgson is a handy inclusion for the Rebels.

Stay tuned to Draft Central next week, as we wrap up all the results and big performances with our weekly NAB League snapshot, Scouting Notes, Player of the Week, and more.

2021 NAB League Boys Player of the Week: Round 9

GREATER Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder Ben Hobbs has taken out the Draft Central NAB League Player of the Week vote for Round 9. The hard-nosed inside ball winner got the nod ahead of Northern Knights jet Josh Ward, with both players co-captaining our Team of the Week. It was a tough week to narrow down to two nominees, with a number of players producing eye-catching best afield displays.

Hobbs marked his return from injury with 34 disposals, three marks, nine tackles, four inside 50s and two goals in a stellar performance, as the Rebels beat Murray Bushrangers by 33 points. His repeat efforts and two-way competitiveness at the contest shone through, with the 183cm prospect showing just why he earned AFL Academy honours this year. He started season 2021 with 22 touches and eight tackles in Round 1 before going off injured early in his Round 4 dig, also against Murray.

The 17-year-old becomes the second Rebels talent to earn a Player of the Week nomination, after Fraser Marris earned the same honour in Round 4. Marris is the sole top-ager so far to feature on the five-man list this year, with a very promising bunch of 2003-born players producing the goods in each other round.

2021 DRAFT CENTRAL NAB LEAGUE BOYS PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Round 1: Tyler Sonsie (Eastern Ranges)
Round 2: Connor Macdonald (Dandenong Stingrays)
Round 3: Nick Daicos (Oakleigh Chargers)
Round 4: Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels)
Round 9: Ben Hobbs (GWV Rebels)

Image Credit: Adam Trafford/The Courier

NAB League Player Focus: Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)

GREATER Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels prospect Sam Butler is one of the most promising players out of the country region in 2021, and has a name familiar to most as the brother of St Kilda forward, Dan. The 18-year-old has a similar burst of speed and goal sense, but has recently gained greater exposure in the midfield where his ground level game has shone.

Most recently, Butler starred in the Rebels’ comprehensive 79-point victory over Gippsland Power at Mars Stadium, spending a half up forward before being thrust into the centre bounce mix. He ended up with 27 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, and two goals to come under our NAB League Player Focus microscope for Round 8.

Sam Butler
GWV Rebels/Vic Country

DOB: 10/02/2003
Height/Weight: 184cm/73kg
Position: Midfielder/Forward

2021 Averages:
NAB League (6 games)

19.3 disposals | 9.8 kicks | 9.5 handballs | 4.2 marks | 5.5 tackles | 2.8 inside 50s | 1.0 rebound 50s | 1.0 goals (6 total)

2021 NAB League, Round 8 | GWV Rebels 16.20 (116) def. Gippsland Power 6.1 (37)

Player Focus: #1 Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)

Stats: 27 disposals (11 kicks, 16 handballs), 6 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50, 2 goals

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

After his recent midfield initiation, Butler started the game back in his equally familiar forward post as the GWV coaches shuffled their magnets.

He served a reminder of his potent forward craft, able to snare two goals with sound finishing inside 50. The first saw him nip in front of the leading Josh Rentsch to mark overhead, before converting a 35m set shot with aplomb. The second was in open play, as Butler picked up the bobbling ground ball on the outside of a forward 50 stoppage and quickly snapped it home as he was spun in a tackle.

Outside of his scoreboard impact, Butler worked hard off the line to impact the opening centre bounce and get his hands on the ball early, looking clean at ground level with his ability to swoop on loose balls at speed and flick out effective handballs.

He also laid a couple of strong tackles, chasing and locking up opponents, to cap off a productive term which yielded six disposals (two kicks, four handballs), two tackles and two goals.

Q2:

Continuing in his forward role, Butler began to find even more space as he pushed up the ground before helping to link GWV inside attacking 50.

His first act was a well-judged overhead mark from a long Gippsland kick-in, locking the play in his side’s front half. He showed strong hands and judgement once again with a mark on the wing, before working forward to mark uncontested inside 50.

As Butler looked to stamp his mark on the game, he fell short on a couple of occasions. His mark just inside the 50m arc saw him go back and take a set shot, which fell short, while a running foray saw him caught holding the ball as he streamed towards goal, looking to take on the defender with a second bounce.

Ultimately, Butler ended up with a similar output in terms of numbers, managing six disposals (three kicks, three handballs) and four marks as he found space further afield, suiting the high half-forward role.

Q3:

Butler’s return to the midfield came in term three as he was rotated on-ball after around five minutes.

While it took him a little time to warm to his engine room operations, Butler got involved with some sharp touches on both sides of the contest. He darted a beautiful inboard kick to Marcus Herbert at centre half-forward, and looked typically assured at ground level with his clean use by hand.

He was a touch less productive with his disposals as Gippsland did well to pressure the ball carrier, with a lot of his handballs to the first option and sometimes transferring said pressure. Still, Butler added another six disposals (two kicks, four handballs) and a mark as he adjusted to the midfield move.

Q4:

The fourth quarter was Butler’s best in terms of numbers and right up there with the opening term for impact – just in a different department.

He started with great intent, earning a holding the ball free kick at the first centre bounce by hunting the ball carrier and catching him unawares. From there, a lot of Butler’s work was done around the stoppages with continually sharp gathers at ground level. He showed an innate ability to keep his arms up and disposal of the ball in tackles, while also using his burst of speed to bustle to the outside.

He added a bit of run on the outer via a one-two play with Fraser Marris, and capped off a really solid outing with nine disposals (three kicks, six handballs) from midfield.

Closing thoughts…

Butler again showed just why he is one of GWV’s most promising prospects in 2021, hitting the scoreboard when stationed up forward before proving sharp at the contest through midfield. Having boosted his running capacity, the 18-year-old has been able to more consistently showcase his key strengths, in that burst of speed and wickedly clean hands. He can impact at ground level and in the air, while also providing solid tackling pressure and the added bonus of goal threat. Going forward, Butler could perhaps back his pace more when coming away from the contest, taking more time to get free himself and taking more meterage before disposing of the ball. His first-option policy is working pretty well at the moment, though.

Image Credit: Jonathan Di Maggio/AFL Photos

2021 NAB League Boys snapshot: Round 8

THE 2021 NAB League season is slowly returning to normalcy, with four games played across a pair of double-headers on Saturday. Geelong and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) picked up points in all-country showdowns, while Tasmania returned to the fold with a win over the Sydney Swans Academy, and the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy trumped Northern Territory Thunder. Check out the key figures and stats in our weekend snapshot, with Scouting Notes to follow tomorrow evening.

SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY 13.6 (84) def. by TASMANIA DEVILS 14.4 (88)

IN A SENTENCE:

Tasmania Devils marked a captivating return to the NAB League, winning by four points via a Will Splann goal with six minutes left to play having trailed at the first three breaks.

TEAM STATS:

  • Swans Academy won the handballs (161-133) and tackles (61-55)
  • Tasmania Devils won the kicks (162-146) and marks (62-34)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Marco Rossmann (Swans Academy) 31 disposals, 5 marks, 7 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Felix Rogers (Swans Academy) 26 disposals, 3 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Pierce Roseby (Swans Academy) 25 disposals, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50
  • Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils) 28 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 8 inside 50s
  • Sam Tilley (Tasmania Devils) 22 disposals, 4 tackles, 2 rebound 50s
  • Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils) 22 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 2 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Marco Rossmann (Swans Academy)
4 – Baynen Lowe (Tasmania Devils)
3 – Felix Rogers (Swans Academy)
2 – Jye Menzie (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Sam Tilley (Tasmania Devils)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

GEELONG FALCONS 9.10 (64) def. BENDIGO PIONEERS 7.12 (54)

IN A SENTENCE:

Geelong Falcons toppled higher-ranked opposition for the second week running, edging the Bendigo Pioneers by 10 points after giving up the lead in term four.

TEAM STATS:

  • Geelong Falcons won the handballs (121-110), inside 50s (47-41) and hitouts (55-21)
  • Bendigo Pioneers won the kicks (179-157) and rebound 50s (36-33)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 4 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
  • Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons) 28 disposals, 9 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s
  • Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons) 22 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 60s
  • Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers) 24 disposals, 5 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 behinds
  • Harley Reid (Bendigo Pioneers) 6 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 3 goals

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Mitch Knevitt (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Noah Gribble (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Harvey Gallagher (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Sam Conforti (Bendigo Pioneers)
1 – Cooper Whyte (Geelong Falcons)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

GWV REBELS 16.20 (116) def. GIPPSLAND POWER 6.1 (37)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GWV Rebels overwhelmed Gippsland Power with 36 scoring shots to seven, returning to the winners list via a 79-point thumping on home turf.

TEAM STATS:

  • GWV Rebels won the disposals (398-245), inside 50s (65-26), and marks (93-55)
  • Gippsland Power won the rebound 50s (49-20), tackles (68-65) and hitouts (43-20)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels) 30 disposals, 3 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s, 1 goal
  • Sam Butler (GWV Rebels) 27 disposals, 6 marks, 7 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 goals
  • Fraser Marris (GWV Rebels) 38 disposals, 5 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s
  • Jai Serong (Gippsland Power) 18 disposals, 7 marks, 4 tackles, 5 rebound 50s, 2 goals
  • Max Walton (Gippsland Power) 17 disposals, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebound 50s
  • Mitchell Moschetti (Gippsland Power) 16 disposals, 12 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound 50

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Sam Butler (GWV Rebels)
4 – Charlie Molan (GWV Rebels)
3 – Sam Breuer (GWV Rebels)
2 – Kai Lohmann (GWV Rebels)
1 – Vincent Huf (GWV Rebels)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

GWS GIANTS ACADEMY 15.14 (104) def. NT THUNDER ACADEMY 3.8 (26)

IN A SENTENCE:

The GIANTS Academy proved far too strong for their Northern Territory counterparts, piling on scoreboard pressure after quarter time and running out comfortable 78-point victors in Blacktown.

TEAM STATS:

  • GIANTS Academy won the disposals (285-198), inside 50s (50-25), and marks (70-63)
  • NT Thunder won the rebound 50s (34-22)

KEY PLAYERS:

  • Sam Frost (GIANTS Academy) 28 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s
  • Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy) 24 disposals, 7 marks, 1 tackle, 3 rebound 50s
  • Maximus Monaghan (GIANTS Academy) 19 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s
  • Andy Moniz-Wakefield (NT Thunder) 24 disposals, 7 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 6 rebound 50s, 1.3
  • Lloyd Johnston (NT Thunder) 21 disposals, 6 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 7 rebound 50s
  • Ronald Fejo Jnr (NT Thunder) 19 disposals, 7 marks, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50s

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Matthew Hamblin (GIANTS Academy)
4 – Angus Curry (GIANTS Academy)
3 – Luke Lawrence (GIANTS Academy)
2 – Maximus Monaghan (GIANTS Academy)
1 – Andy Moniz Wakefield (NT Thunder)

NEXT UP:

TBC.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 NAB League Girls team review: GWV Rebels

NEXT up in our NAB League Girls team review series are the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, a squad with some high-end top-agers and exciting talent to be nurtured for the future. We recap the Rebels’ season, and take a look at some of the top performers across those various age groups.

Wins: 3
Losses: 5
Position: 9th (4th Country)

SEASON SUMMARY:

The Rebels ended with a negative record in 2021 but were largely competitive along the way. Their campaign kicked off with a 10-point loss to eventual grand finalist, Geelong, before a win against Murray opened the GWV account. Having gone win-for-loss over their first four outings, the Rebels broke through for consecutive wins by beating Western Jets in Round 6. That victory was followed by three-consecutive losses to see out the regular season, but GWV still managed to qualify in the top four of the Country pool and threw a spanner in the works come finals time. A one-point win over the top-ranked Tasmania was one of the upsets of the season, and the Rebels were again up for the fight in their final game, a 14-point preliminary final loss to Geelong.

DRAFT-ELIGIBLE TOP PERFORMERS:

Lilli Condon | Midfielder
25/11/2003 | 155cm

A relentless ball winner who will run all day for her side, Condon was arguably the most unlucky player competition-wide to be overlooked for representative duties. There may not be much of the Rebels midfielder, but she has a real crack and thrives at ground level, competing in contest after contest to help drive the ball forward. Condon’s form earned her selection for the Western Bulldogs VFLW side this year, and she was one of GWV’s most reliable performers.

Nyakoat Dojiok | Defender
7/01/2003 | 175cm

The AFLW Academy member is a prospect with enormous potential, credit to her steep rate of development and fantastic athletic attributes. Dojiok showed some promise as a bottom-ager and continued to come on strongly in 2021, showing marked improvement in her disposal and overall impact across half-back. She reads the play well to intercept, before getting on her bike and thrusting her side forward with a long kick. Adding polish to that disposal will be the next step, but Dojiok has plenty to like already.

Ella Friend | Tall Utility
30/12/2003 | 175cm

One of the most dynamic talents available in this year’s crop, Friend showed her worth as a high-marking forward before being tried up on a wing and at the other end of the ground. Along with Dojiok, she is an AFLW Academy member and for good reason, with her aerial ability and overall versatility pointing towards terrific upside. Friend also went on to represent Vic Country in 2021 and earned a VFLW berth with plenty of her Rebels teammates.

Chloe Leonard | Midfielder/Defender
1/02/2002 | 168cm

A real leader of this squad for a couple of seasons now, Leonard returned after being overlooked in last year’s draft and continued to show great form at NAB League level. She took on a greater amount of responsibility through midfield having cut her teeth as a defender, able to win plenty of the ball and use it cleanly. The top-ager proved one to lead by example, finishing the campaign as one of GWV’s most consistent assets and one not afraid to get her hands dirty.

Tahlia Meier | Forward/Midfielder
19/10/2003 | 155cm

Meier built nicely into the season and by the end of it, became very hard to deny as a genuine prospect. As a forward, she showcased her ability to find the goals with four goals across the first three rounds, before proving her worth a little further afield and getting her hands on the ball at a good rate. She earned a spot in the Vic Country squad and is yet another Rebel to have also slotted into the Western Bulldogs’ VFLW program.

FUTURE ONES TO WATCH:

Paige Scott | Forward/Midfielder
25/06/2004 | 166cm

Already one of the stars of the competition, Scott loomed as a potential game winner in each game she played. The explosive forward has a knack for kicking bags of goals and doesn’t mind a celebration, with her exploits inside 50 proving impactful both for the Rebels and Vic Country sides. She booted multiple majors in five of her nine NAB League outings, including all four of GWV’s goals in its remarkable elimination final win over Tasmania. One to watch at the top end.

Kalani Scoullar | Ruck
27/02/2004 | 190cm

Scoullar ended up leading the league for total hitouts in 2021, averaging 22.7 per game as one of the more imposing figures competition-wide. The 190cm talent was able to give her midfielders first look at the ball where it mattered most, building a good run of form towards the back-end of the season and playing her role well. She was another to crack the Vic Country Under 19 squad, and looks to be improving her follow-up work with strong tackle numbers.

Molly Walton | Key Defender
6/05/2004 | 170cm

Yet another of this talented Rebels crop who earned representative duties in 2021, Walton is a reliable defender who proved a mainstay for GWV this season. She reads the play well and proved strong in one-on-one duels, while also being able to intercept across the defensive 50. Walton led the league for rebound 50s with an average of 4.4 per her 10 games, making for a pretty complete defensive package with more development to come.

OTHERS:

Among a raft of key performers, Olivia Leonard was one who constantly dug in for the Rebels in 2021. She and Jenna Burke are a couple more to watch for next year’s crop. Among the 2003-births, Jorja Jones showed her worth across nine games, while top-ager Stephanie Glover had her moments throughout the season.

Top Performers: 2021 NAB League Girls – Preliminary Finals

THE 2021 NAB League Girls grand finalists were decided on Saturday, via an enthralling double-header at Avalon Airport Oval. Our weekly (self explanatory) Top Performers series delves into some of the best individual feats across each weekend of action. This week produced plenty of highlights as players continue to impress in the elite talent pathway. Starting with AFLW Academy-listed prospects, we take a look at the top performers out of an exciting set of fixtures.

Each game’s top performers are the opinion of the individual writer.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 6.10 (46) def. EASTERN RANGES 1.9 (15)

AFLW ACADEMY:

#8 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)

Starting each quarter up forward as she has done for the past few games, Rowbottom continues to be a commanding presence wherever she lines up on field. She lead well in the forwardline, and whilst not always holding the mark she would generally knock it to the advantage of teammates to run onto. When she got a clean opportunity inside forward 50, she was far more keen to pass it off to other teammates than take shots herself. She showed off her power around stoppages and on the inside with some good burst to run onto and win the contested ball, even delivering a few fend-offs in the third quarter. She came out comfortably on top over any player that tried to run with her through the midfield, able to cover the ground and work hard to get back and help in defence better than her opponents.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#14 Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers)

Looked dangerous in the forward 50, with her past two games having been good performances, just missing the finishing touch at times. James looks really good with her leap, and whilst not dragging in every mark, she managed to get a touch on more often than not, tapping it to players on the ground. She is no slouch with her own work at ground level either, having a few clean one-grab pick ups in the forward 50.

#33 Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh Chargers)

It is unbelievable to think that this was just her second appearance at this level. Looking comfortably one of Oakleigh’s best players and biggest ball winner for the game, Fleming was a force through the midfield. Her work around stoppages was particularly good, winning the first of the day with a good burst of speed straight through the pack, before continuing that throughout the game. She had one of the plays of the day where she won the ball on the wing, took a bounce whilst burning an opponent and kicked it to the top of the 50, then ran past to receive the handball and then delivered it well to Charlie Rowbottom, who unfortunately missed the goal. That precision kicking and hard running for handball receives was a constant through the game, making all of her disposals damaging.

#16 Erin Woodford (Oakleigh Chargers)

After an impressive showing last week against a taller Calder forwardline, Woodford followed up, playing a crucial part in the backline. She positioned well behind the play, taking a few intercept marks without much issue before looking to kick long forward to numbers. Woodford also positioned well in contests to get front position, meaning she could run onto the ball if it was spoiled by opponents.

#10 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)

Having moved up forward for gradually longer stints over the season, it appears Reid is fully comfortable as a mainstay in the Chargers’ forwardline now, becoming a regular and reliable goal kicker, and target in the forward 50. Her leading patterns are impressive, particularly given she does not need much time or space to make things happen, reacting quicker than her opponents to get to good spots without much pressure, while also working them over. She was also good at looking for teammates inside 50 rather than blazing away.

#9 Mia Busch (Eastern Ranges)

Busch has been a highlight for Eastern over the season and continued to live up to that against the Chargers, once again showing exceptional positioning behind the ball. She constantly moved towards it to get an intercept possession higher up the ground, taking it at speed and then kicking forward, looking to put it in front of leading teammates. The bottom-ager moved into the midfield in the final quarter and looked more than comfortable, suggesting a positional switch for season 2022.

#44 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges)

Whilst she struggled to have the impact around the ground she has become renowned for, Campbell took advantage of her superior athleticism in the ruck to win almost every ruck contest she was involved in, with a game high 27 hitouts being her biggest return for the year. Even though she did not win a whole heap of ball around the ground, her follow up work around stoppages was impressive, getting low a few times and firing out handballs to teammates running past.

#4 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges)

A few factors have set Sherar out as a prospect for this season, with her burst of speed and ability to find the ball two of them. She managed to show those off once again in her last NAB League game for the season. What was also impressive from Sherar was the fact she was an aerial threat around the ground, showing off an impressive leap when required. While she seems to favour kicking, her hands in close are really impressive, with the ability to spot teammates through traffic and find a way to get it to them.

OTHERS:

Alexandra McCulloch was impressive in defence for the Chargers, almost playing as an extra midfielder at times with how high she got up the ground. Amanda Ling and Brooke Vickers, whilst not as prolific as usual, were still influential for Oakleigh in the win, as was Charlotte Van der Vlies. For the Ranges, Bridget Deed was a strong winner on the inside for the day, offering assistance in defence as well. Matilda Hardy had arguably her best performance for the season on the wing, having some moments where she showed off her pace.

GEELONG FALCONS 5.6 (36) def. GWV REBELS 3.4 (22)

AFLW ACADEMY:

#20 Ella Friend (GWV)

Had a difficult day looking for ways to get in it, being thrown about from the forwardline, to the wing, to the backline on multiple occasions. Although she struggled to get much of the ball or show off her usual high-level marking, Friend still commanded a player constantly on her and used the ball well when she did find it.

#30 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)

Starting the game in her usual backline role, Dojiok tried her best to intercept and impact the ball to different levels of success early on. She nabbed one particularly memorable intercept possession in the second quarter along the wing, where she went for a run and bombed it deep inside forward 50 to give GWV a chance to score. She moved into the midfield for a short period in the second half which worked wonders for her, and the Rebels, winning the contested ball with ease as a taller player through the engine room. She even got herself a goal for her troubles. That move looked to have given her confidence, as she returned the backline and looked far more assured and confident in her attack on the ball.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#5 Paige Scott (GWV Rebels)

It may have been her final game of the year at NAB League level, but fans and recruiters alike should be excited that we get one more year of Scott with the Rebels. After an impressive showing in the Country representative games, she came back to the NAB League in hot form, kicking five goals prior to the match with Geelong. She started the game in the midfield, winning the first clearance with ease and setting the tone for a really strong display. She continued to show her strengths, taking some contested grabs as a forward and looking dangerous on the lead. What was most impressive about this game was her increased work-rate and intensity, where her second and third efforts got her a second goal. In that instance, she dropped a mark but followed up with a tackle, knocking the ball loose and then putting it through the middle. She looked strong as a contested ball winner, running in and bursting out of the pack, then kicking long to get space.

#11 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)

Would have to be the form player of the competition currently, and is timing her run superbly as she helped book the Falcons spot in the grand final next week. Craven showed off immense stoppage craft all game, as one who regularly timed her runs to hit the ball with speed when it left the rucks’ hands, taking advantage of knowing where the ball was going each time. Once she started, she looked near impossible to stop. It has been noted previously that she is good at hitting those shorter kicks rather than bombing long, and she continued doing that this game, looking for and finding those kicks that would’ve been no more than 15 or 20 meters. They put the Falcons in a better spots to move forward. Craven showed she knows when to handball or kick as well, balancing well between them and not being overly reliant on either skill.

#44 Charlotte Simpson (Geelong Falcons)

A really consistent ball winner and strong inside player for the game, Simpson’s strength and ability to stand strong in tackles was extremely impressive. She would also get her arms free in those situations, where she was able to handball off to a teammate in space, or throw it on the boot to keep the Falcons moving forward. She was sound defensively around stoppages as well, regularly wrapping up Rebels players that broke free with the ball.

#2 Tahlia Meier (GWV Rebels)

Meier is one of those zippy small players that just excites with her speed, agility and work-rate around the ground, especially the forward 50. That work-rate was highlighted constantly, as she kept going for second, third, and fourth efforts when around the ball, and it led to some almost moments in the forward half, where she almost broke away and got a goal at times, but the Falcons’ defensive setup kept her from snaring a major score.

#15 Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels)

Leonard has been one of the most consistent performers for GWV this season, and she stood up through the midfield for them against the Falcons in what will be her last game for the Rebels. Leonard positioned well throughout the game, sweeping up or marking uncontested hack kicks forward from the Falcons, but also attending stoppages to be a handball receive option before delivering well measured kicks forward.

#4 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons)

Schaap struggled to get into the game early, held well by the bottom-aged Rebel Molly Walton in the first quarter, not something she has had to deal with of late. It did not last long though, as Schaap started to work more and more up the ground to get involved outside the forward 50, impacting every contest she was near – either winning the ball herself or laying a tackle to get it to spill for a teammate. Once again she looked good using the footy, with her quick hands to teammates in space particularly impressive.

#37 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons)

Lee continued on from her good home-and-away season form. As arguably the biggest aerial threat afield, she punished the Rebels early on when they attempted to kick inside 50 without penetration behind their kicks. As usual, she used the ball effectively by foot as well, being another one that looked to move the ball into more central spots to open up the ground going forward.

OTHERS:

Molly Walton and Lilli Condon were two more that stood up at times through the contest for GWV, with Walton continuing to be an essential part of the Rebels’ defence and Condon showing off her speed and inside ball winning. For the Falcons, there were plenty of others that contributed well. Kara Stacey and Ash Van Loon were two that went through the midfield at times and provided a bit of spark. Renee Tierney was opportunistic in the forwardline, rewarding well placed kicks from midfielders and hitting the scoreboard.

2021 NAB League Girls: Preliminary Finals wrap – Chargers, Falcons reach decider

THE Oakleigh Chargers and Geelong Falcons progressed to the 2021 NAB League Girls grand final with respective wins in the weekend’s preliminary finals bouts. In a double-header at Avalon Airport Oval on Saturday, the Chargers lived up to their minor premier tag to advance in dominant fashion over Eastern, while the Falcons were impressive in their ability to hold off a plucky Greater Western Victoria (GWV) outfit. We recap both games from what was a super Saturday of elite talent pathways action.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.3 | 2.6 | 4.9 | 6.10 (46)
EASTERN RANGES 1.4 | 1.5 | 1.7 | 1.9 (15)

Oakleigh Chargers became the first side to qualify for this year’s NAB League Girls grand final, via a convincing 31-point victory over Eastern Ranges. The minor premiers found themselves behind at the first break, but began to flex their muscle thereafter by keeping the Ranges goalless across three terms, while pouring on scoreboard pressure with 12 more scoring shots of their own. Ultimately, the 6.10 (46) to 1.9 (15) result only officially confirmed Oakleigh’s status as the top team in this year’s Metro pool, with eyes now on the top gong overall in next week’s decider.

Winning skipper Charlie Rowbottom lead her side superbly, rotating through the midfield from up forward to finish with 18 disposals, seven tackles, and three marks in a bullocking display. Fellow midfielder-forwards Eliza James (15 disposals, two goals) and Stella Reid (13 and two) were also impactful throughout Oakleigh’s charge, while second-gamer Jasmine Fleming topped her side’s disposal count with 22, including four inside 50s. Down back, Alexandra McCulloch and Erin Woodford were resolute, helping restrict the Ranges to just one major. Bottom-age jet Jemma Rigoni may be a bad luck story on the injury front, having ended the game on crutches.

Eastern was served well by a bunch of reliable figures, including Keeley Sherar in midfield. She found the ball 14 times but won it in important areas and looked to make each touch count. Mia Busch was kept busy in an under-siege defence, leading all comers with 24 disposals and seven marks in what was an exciting sighter for next year from the rebounding ace. Grace Walsh also played an important hand in a tough role down back, while the likes of Tilly Hardy (15 disposals) and Bridget Deed (18) worked hard, as did athletic ruck prospect, Georgia Campbell for 27 hitouts.

Oakleigh’s near-unblemished season rolls on to the big dance, with Geelong awaiting. The Falcons are the only side to beat the Chargers in 2021, so redemption may well prove a theme in Oakleigh’s effort. On the other hand, Eastern’s year comes to an end but the Ranges can be proud of a campaign where it seemed the squad extracted the best out of itself, finishing as the second-ranked Metro side.

GOALS:

Oakleigh: E. James 2, S. Reid 2, T. Morton, S. Morley
Eastern: G. Wilson

DC BEST:

Oakleigh: C. Rowbottom, E. James, J. Fleming, E. Woodford, S. Reid, A. McCulloch
Eastern: K. Sherar, M. Busch, G. Campbell, M. Hardy, G. Walsh, B. Deed

Eastern's Georgia Campbell competes with Oakleigh's Kalarni Kearns in the ruck

GEELONG FALCONS 1.1 | 3.6 | 5.6 | 5.6 (36)
GWV REBELS 1.0 | 1.1 | 3.1 | 3.4 (22)

Geelong Falcons held off a gallant GWV Rebels side on Saturday to earn top honours in the Country pool and advance to this year’s NAB League Girls grand final. The Falcons rode out tense moments and spurts of momentum belonging to the Rebels, making better of their own opportunities to come away 14-point victors. That theme was most evident during term three, where GWV looked like breaking back into the game, and potentially ahead, but could not quite overcome Geelong’s mix of class and solidity. A goalless final quarter saw the result finish 5.6 (36) to 3.4 (22) in favour of Geelong, with neither team losing any admirers for their efforts.

Falcons midfielder Tess Craven may well be the finals MVP at this point after another outstanding outing, leading all comers with 24 disposals and five marks, as well as three behinds. Aiding her in the engine room, Charlotte Simpson also ticked over 20 touches and Ash Van Loon got her hands dirty with 11 tackles in a typically strong display. Annie Lee (17 disposals, five marks) proved resolute as ever down back, as the forward combination of Renee Tierney (two goals) and Poppy Schaap (18 disposals, seven tackles, 1.2) caused plenty of headaches for the opposition.

GWV had an even spread of contributors, with leaders like Chloe Leonard (14 disposals, eight tackles) and Lilli Condon (12 and five) stepping up to the plate. Nyakoat Dojiok also ran through midfield and managed to kick a rare goal to give her side a momentary lift. Tahlia Meier proved dangerous forward of centre, as did dual goalkicker Paige Scott who got even busier once shifted to the forwardline. Down back, the presence of Molly Walton (13 kicks, six rebound 50s) was also important in helping repel some of Geelong’s attacks, while Kalani Scoullar commanded the ruck with 37 hitouts.

Geelong’s second grand final appearance in four seasons will pose a difficult task against Oakleigh, though the Falcons have already knocked off their future opponents in 2021. Having peaked at an ideal time, the Falcons are a good chance to go all the way. GWV’s incredible finals run comes to an end, having toppled Tasmania in week one and given the Falcons a red hot run in their final appearance.

GOALS:

Geelong: R. Tierney 2, P. Schaap, C. Adams, Z. Garth
GWV: P. Scott 2, N. Dojiok

DC BEST:

Geelong: T. Craven, C. Simpson, A. Lee, P. Schaap, R. Tierney, A. Van Loon
GWV: P. Scott, T. Meier, C. Leonard, N. Dojiok, K. Scoullar, M. Walton

Geelong midfielder Tess Craven fires off a handball