Tag: harry taylor

QAFL finals wrap: Cats’ Colts join Seniors in the big dance

GRAND finalists have been set across the QAFL Senior, Reserves, and Colts grades with Gold Coast clubs Labrador and Broadbeach represented across two of the three levels. The Cats will face Maroochydore in the senior decider after the Roos jumped minor premier Labrador in an epic comeback win, but the Tigers’ Reserves and Colts downed Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) and Morningside respectively to set up final week appearances.

Maroochydore’s epic last gasp victory in the top flight sets up an intriguing grand final meeting with Broadbeach, who will be out to rectify last year’s loss to Morningside after earning the week off. The Roos got the jump with a five goals to one opening term but fell 18 points behind at half-time, and were 22 points down with less that 10 minutes left to play. As Labrador began to rest its guns, a five-goal swing ensued and the Roos saluted to the tune of 10 points, 13.10 (88) to 11.12 (78).

Sam McLaughlin was outstanding for the victors and slotted a key late major, as the likes of Michael Steven (four goals), Lochie Laing and Mitchell Scholard (both three) also found the big sticks throughout. Former-AFL Irishman Pearce Hanley booted five goals for Labrador, while Alex McKay played a key role through the engine room. From an Academy sense, products Mackenzie Riddle (Gold Coast) and Ben Thomas (Brisbane) featured for either side.

While the seniors were done-in, Labrador’s second side defeated PBC by 22 points to secure a spot in the grand final alongside Morningside. Minor premiers across both grades, the Tigers were able to convert on this occasion having set up an early buffer and lead at every break.

Northern Territory native and Gold Coast eligible tall Ned Stevens snared a goal in just his fourth game for the season, having battled a niggling groin injury. Fellow tall Thomas Hofert also got a run for the victors, along with 2002-born SUNS Academy products Bailey Reeves, James Smith, Shaye Walsh, and Riley Johnson. Top-ager Luke Coombes notched his 12th reserves game, while Brinn Little turned out for PBC.

In the Colts grade, Labrador will take on Broadbeach after the Cats downed Morningside on Saturday, restricting the second-ranked Panthers to just two goals from 11 scoring shots in a dominant 46-point victory. State Under 17 squad members Jared Eckersley and Kye Reynoldson were among the Cats’ best, while Cooper Parkes snared four majors in the win. For Morningside, representative selectees Harry Taylor, Thalayn Ryschka, and Bryce Longland all featured in their side’s final game for the season.

Image Credit: Brooke Sleep Photography via AFLQ

State Leagues wrap: Youngsters press claims for senior call-ups

A BUNCH of up-and-coming talents pressed their claims for senior selection across the state leagues this past weekend, with finals time drawing closer in the top tier. The West Australian Football League (WAFL) made its return after a week away due to lockdown, while it was business as usual around the nation with just over a month of home-and-away action left to play out. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

The Battle of Bell Street headlined Round 13’s action in the VFL, with the Northern Bullants holding on to win by a single point against traditional local rival, Coburg. Players did justice to the resumption of this long-standing rivalry, though the Lions’ last ditch surge was not enough to snatch victory at Piranha Park. Bullants big man Daniel Hughes took home the inaugural Harold Martin Medal as best afield, having finished with 18 disposals and 35 hitouts.

While the Bullants picked up their third-consecutive win, Footscray avoided a major boilover to remain undefeated in 2021, defeating Sydney by seven points on the back of a six-goal final term. The Bulldogs twice trailed by as many as six goals throughout the contest, but did enough to power past the plucky Swans outfit. Patrick Lipinski‘s claims for a recall remain strong after 36 disposals and a goal, while tall Sydney pair Logan McDonald (14 marks, four goals) and Patrick McCartin (27 disposals, 11 marks) dominated the airways.

Collingwood and Geelong remain fixed in the top eight after earning their own closely contested victories, downing 2019 grand finalists Richmond and Williamstown respectively. The Cats lead at every break in their 12-point triumph, while senior-listed midfielder Charlie Constable (30 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continuing his ominous form, while young forwards Jack Ginnivan (four goals) and Noah Cumberland (five) were sensational in the Magpies’ five-point salute on enemy territory.

While Port Melbourne was thumped by 95 points in Frankston on Friday, the Borough’s home deck was used on Saturday to field the clash between Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and Gold Coast. The Giants, who had a handy mix of AFL-listed players and academy products, ran out 40-point winners with Zach Sproule (five goals), Matt De Boer (35 disposals, three goals), and senior skipper Stephen Coniglio (36 disposals, eight tackles) proving a class above.

Casey and Sandringham were the other Victorian sides to register premiership points in Round 13, while Southport returned to the fray with a resounding 109-point romping of Brisbane. The result sees the Sharks sit a win clear in second, still an equal amount of points away from current frontrunner Footscray. The Round 14 fixture has also been announced, with both Sydney teams having the bye while Queensland travel is set to resume for a trio of Victorian clubs.

South Australia (SANFL):

Ladder position counted for plenty in Round 14 of the SANFL, as all of the top five sides registered wins against their bottom five counterparts. The handful of fixtures took part on a super Saturday of state league action, which did little to really shake up the order of things ranking-wise.

Reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens opened proceedings with a 19-point win over the bottom-placed West Adelaide, despite managing just nine goals from 30 scoring shots. Westies tidied up the margin with three final term consolation goals, but the Eagles’ scoring power was all too much in the end. Jack Hayes had a day to remember for the victors, clunking 20 marks (seven contested) and booting two goals, while prolific small forward Tyson Stengle managed 3.4 from eight touches.

Competition frontrunner Glenelg pushed its undefeated streak out to 13 games with a 30-point win over Sturt, kicking away in a five-goal to one third term. Bays spearhead Liam McBean booted six goals in a commanding display, as Lachie Wilsdon snared eight in North Adelaide’s 48-point salute over Central District. The likes of Harrison Wigg (42 disposals, nine clearances), Samuel McInerney (24 disposals, five goals), and Campbell Combe (29 disposals, two goals) were among the Roosters’ other outstanding individual performers.

North’s win opened up a gap to Port Adelaide in sixth, after the Magpies went down to Norwood by 36 points. The usual suspects were amongst it for the Redlegs, with Mitch Grigg (31 disposals, seven clearances, one goal), Richard Douglas (30 disposals, eight clearances), and Brad McKenzie (24 disposals, two goals) all in the thick of things. South Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, with pick one contender Jason Horne (19 disposals, one goal) again catching plenty of eyes as his Panthers got the better of Adelaide.

Tasmania (TSL):

Launceston took out a crucial TSL top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, downing North Launceston by 53 points to strength its spot as the league leader. The Blues now boast a two-game gap to their closest rival, and consolidated their latest victory with five goals to nil in the final quarter. Brayden Pitcher booted six majors to spearhead the Blues’ win, Jake Hinds and competition stalwart Jay Blackberry took out votes as the best two players afield.

Fellow top four sides Tigers and Clarence also picked up wins against the bottom two teams, in North Hobart and Lauderdale respectively. The Tigers accelerated during a five-goal second term to end up 40-point victors on the road, while Colin Garland snared another bag of six goals as his Roos wrapped up a 49-point win on home turf. Both sides remain locked on 32 points, with Clarence ahead in third by 0.23 per cent.

Western Australia (WAFL):

The WAFL returned after last week’s lockdown with crowds enjoying five fixtures across a stacked Saturday of state league football. The home sides won out in four of those games, while Subiaco shot back to the top of the table as the race for minor premiership honours heats up.

Claremont’s one-point loss to South Fremantle opened the door for Subiaco to reclaim top spot on percentage, though all three teams now sit level on eight wins with a two-pronged chasing pack ready to pounce at just one game adrift. The top five looks relatively set, with a three-game gap now opened up between Swan Districts in fifth and Peel Thunder in sixth.

Swans scraped past the ever-improving West Coast by two points to remain in the hunt with West Perth, as the Falcons had a much easier time defeating East Perth by 30 points. Geelong champion Harry Taylor returned to East Fremantle and booted four goals as Corey Warner, the brother of Chad made his League debut, but their efforts were not enough to help overcome the Thunder in a 26-point loss.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

Draft Central All-Star Teams Grand Final: East Fremantle vs. Geelong Falcons

THE ultimate All-Star Teams clash has arrived with the two best sides reaching the Grand Final after a month of voting. Top seeds East Fremantle take on second seeds Geelong Falcons, and they would play out a hypothetical thriller if they clashed.

STAR POWER

Both these teams have no shortage of star power, with elite midfields that have deep rotations, as well as strong key position options, and plenty of runners and defensive options. It is no surprise that both these teams reached the final match of the knockout tournament, and it shapes as an absolute thriller. The two captains that lead these sides are Brownlow Medallists and two-club players, Ben Cousins (West Coast and Richmond) and Gary Ablett Jnr (Geelong and Gold Coast). They have accolades that few dream of, and when comparing them, Ablett Jnr gets the marginal nod, but both were (and are in Ablett’s case) champion players.

KEY STATS

Brownlows: East Fremantle (3) – Geelong Falcons (4)
All-Australians: East Fremantle (29) – Geelong Falcons (41)
Best & Fairests: East Fremantle (21) – Geelong Falcons (33)
Coleman Medals: East Fremantle (2) – Geelong Falcons (1)
Norm Smiths: East Fremantle (1) – Geelong Falcons (3)
Rising Stars: East Fremantle (2) – Geelong Falcons (0)
Average Games: East Fremantle (83.1) – Geelong Falcons (66.6)
Average Brownlow Votes: East Fremantle (13.2) – Geelong Falcons (11.2)

KEY MATCHUPS

Simon Black (East Fremantle) vs. Jimmy Bartel (Geelong)

Alongside their Brownlow captains, Black and Bartel were some of the classiest and most consistent footballers going around. They also have near-identical accolades with three premierships, a Brownlow and a Norm Smith – the only two players to achieve those feats and still play over 300 games. Bartel was one of the best wet weather players, whilst Black hardly played a bad game, and with three club best and fairests during a golden era for the Brisbane Lions, the East Fremantle product might marginally get the nod.

Harry Taylor (East Fremantle) vs. Jonathan Brown (Geelong)

If these teams played out in a match, this would be absolutely crucial to the success of their respective teams. Like their real-life teammates (but on opposite sides in this) above, they had plenty of success during their careers and were among the best in their respective positions. If Taylor could shut down Brown it would go a long way to the Sharks winning, whilst a big bag of goals from Brown would aid in the Falcons getting up.

Aaron Sandilands (East Fremantle) vs. Matthew Primus (Geelong)

You would probably hand the points to Sandilands in the ruck battle due to the added centimetres, but Primus would potentially have more influence around the ground. Both their midfields are star studded, so it would be a huge start for the rucks to win first hands to the ball. However given the quality of the onball groups, if one ruck got on top of the other, the midfielders would no doubt be able to learn to shark the opposition taps.

KEY QUESTIONS

Which midfield gets on top?

It is a tough question to answer because both are ridiculously talent rich to the point of All-Australians, Best and Fairests and even Brownlows and Norm Smith Medals feature highly. East Fremantle have the star power in terms of the starting onballers, but the half-forwards for the Falcons in Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield provide better rotation, though Daniel Kerr coming off the bench and Elliot Yeo rotating through there would be electric.

Who does Cameron Ling tag?

Imagine being the Falcons coach and having to pick just one player to saddle up Ling alongside with given all the rest will likely get off the chain. The first impression would be Black as the most damaging, but Cousins is another option in there as someone who must be stopped. Jordan Lewis could even play a defensive role, whilst the likes of Dom Cassisi and Josh Carr coming off the bench would likely follow around Dangerfield and Bartel.

Are the defences too tall?

It would be an interesting proposition for the coaches seemingly having two key position players in each forward line, but three key defenders. Chances are, the Sharks may throw Cale Hooker forward, which gives Lachlan Henderson a matchup, otherwise Henderson goes in without a direct player to man for his size. The Falcons might opt to bring in young guns James Worpel and Sam Walsh, but with these kinds of midfields, chances are they would not play in their preferred position. For the Sharks, they have David Swallow who is waiting in the wings, but with midfield depth for days, it is hard to squeeze them all in.

OVERALL:

This match is an absolute cracker with elite players across both sides. You get the feeling that Geelong’s elite group stretches a little more, but the East Fremantle side has greater depth in the right areas. Either of these teams could win on the day and it is fair to say they would bring in a full house with this kind of star power on show.

Which All-Star Team is the best?
East Fremantle
Geelong Falcons
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Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: East Fremantle vs. Murray Bushrangers

OUR next All-Star Team battle makes for an intriguing semi final clash, set to play out between a West Australian talent factory, and a powerhouse Victorian region in East Fremantle and the Murray Bushrangers respectively. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were West Coast Eagles champion Ben Cousins (East Fremantle) and current Collingwood star, Steele Sidebottom (Murray).

These clubs are seeded first (East Fremantle) and fourth (Murray) respectively, as the seed gap between each side closes with each passing fixture. The proposed Bushrangers squad outvoted Sturt, the Oakleigh Chargers and Northern Knights, while East Fremantle’s path to this stage came through the Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons after a first round bye. The winner will qualify for the Grand Final, set to face either the Port Adelaide Magpies or Geelong Falcons.

>> SCROLL TO VIEW THE FULL TEAMS

TALKING POINTS

THE MIDFIELD BATTLE:

This one should be fairly straightforward, as East Fremantle arguably boasts the strongest starting midfield group in the draw. With Brownlow medalists and AFL premiership players, Cousins and Simon Black joined by current Carlton co-captain Patrick Cripps at the centre bounces, it’s hard to see any side beating that kind of balance through the engine room. Cripps provides the inside grunt, while Black is the silk, and Cousins the gut-running accumulator. Fremantle champion Paul Hasleby has even been pushed out to a wing, partnering the late Chris Mainwaring.

That’s not to say that Murray lags in the midfield department, with David Mundy, Clayton Oliver, and Tom Rockliff no slouches by any stretch. Add the running power of Sidebottom and dynamism of Brett Deledio on the outer, and you have a seriously talented group. While we would still take the Sharks’ starting centre bounce trio, what really sets them apart in this matchup is their depth. Not only have Elliot Yeo (half-back) and Andrew Swallow (half-forward) been squeezed out to the flanks, but the likes of Daniel Kerr, Shane Woewodin, Dom Cassisi, and Shaun McManus also remain on the interchange. Murray would be able to rotate Jack Ziebell and Steve Johnson through from the forwardline, but that kind of firepower is near-impossible to match.

You could hardly build a better midfield core if you tried than what East Fremantle lays claim to, so the Sharks clearly get the points in this midfield battle. With a balance of class, grunt, endurance, and depth, it’s everything you could ask for.

THE KEY POSITION STOCKS:

As has been the case with many of Murray’s matchups, its starting key position spine is arguably weaker than the opposition offering, but depth seems to give the Bushies a deal of versatility which cannot be matched. East Fremantle lays claim to Luke McPharlin and Harry Taylor down back, with Paddy Ryder accompanying Josh J. Kennedy up forward, and Aaron Sandilands taking on the ruck duties. Bigman Darren Bennett also features in the forward pocket, potentially able to fill Ryder’s spot once the Port player gives Sandilands a chop-out on the ball. With McPharlin and Taylor also know to swing forward at times, the Sharks have a pretty handy rotation, with Cale Hooker also in the mix.

But Murray’s may well be better through a sheer weight of options. Where East Fremantle may struggle for numbers, the Bushrangers thrive, able to fit a bunch of pieces to its key position puzzle. Ben Reid and Alipate Carlile make up the defensive pairing, while Barry Hall and Jarrad Waite are a solid forward combination. Add Fraser Gehrig and ruckman Steven King to the mix, and the spine is quite good. The difference makers come from the bench though, with Ben McEvoy and Justin Koschitzke both able to plug gaps through the ruck or up either end, while Sam Reid could also prove a handy swingman – much like his brother.

By way of its diversity and superior range of options, Murray takes out the key position battle overall, even if East Fremantle’s starters arguably hold a slight edge.

SUMMARY:

To cut a long story short, we’re backing our first seed to qualify for the Grand Final. As one of the most prolific producers of high-level West Australian talent, East Fremantle simply boasts too much class for many sides to handle. Murray matches up well, and may even get ahead in some areas, but would not be able to match the Sharks where it matters most, in midfield. They’re strong everywhere else too, and will be difficult to top in the decider.

Which All-Star Team are you picking?
East Fremantle Sharks
Murray Bushrangers
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Draft Central All-Star Team matchup: East Fremantle vs. Sandringham Dragons

OUR next All-Star Team battle makes for the first quarter final clash, set to play out between a West Australian club and a Victorian region, in East Fremantle and the Sandringham Dragons respectively. The two captains voted in by the public as the All-Star Players of the AFL Draft era were 2006 West Coast premiership teammates, Ben Cousins (East Fremantle) and Chris Judd (Sandringham).

These clubs are seeded first (East Fremantle) and eighth (Sandringham) respectively, forming an intriguing final eight clash in our draw. Our proposed Sharks squad outvoted the Calder Cannons after a first-round bye, while Sandringham’s path to this stage came through East Perth and Glenelg. The winner will qualify for the semi finals, set to face the Northern Knights/Murray Bushrangers.

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TALKING POINTS

THE MIDFIELD BATTLE:

Where do we even begin with this East Fremantle side? The most obvious strength is its midfield, with a terrific balance among the centre bounce trio of Patrick Cripps, Simon Black, and Cousins. Cripps provides the inside grunt, while Black is the silk, and Cousins the hard-running accumulator. All three are terrific leaders too, but boy do they have support in spades. The trio of Paul Hasleby (wing), Elliot Yeo (half-back), and Andrew Swallow (half-forward), who have all been squeezed out, could well make up the midfield of a second Sharks All-Star side. That is not to mention those on the bench, with Brownlow medalist Shane Woewodin joined by Daniel Kerr as the rotational x-factor, while Dom Cassisi adds to the strong leadership core alongside Fremantle icon Shaun McManus. Perhaps most ominously of all, they will follow under the ruckwork of 211cm giant, Aaron Sandilands.

But if there is any side that can go pound-for-pound with any other midfield stock, it is Sandringham. The Dragons will fancy their chances of matching the Sharks for inside grunt, with Josh P. Kennedy and Luke Ball joined in the middle by Judd, who transitioned into a contested beast later in his career, at Carlton. Add Jobe Watson to the mix, as well as Angus Brayshaw, Tim Taranto, and Jarryd Lyons off the bench. Like East Fremantle, Sandringham also boasts a few elites squeezed out of the prime positions, with Andy McGrath out at half-back and Josh Kelly at half-forward. Meanwhile, Zac Merrett takes up a wing, tasked with matching the run and flair of Chris Mainwaring.

With the question of depth a non-factor at this point, it is difficult to seperate these two midfields. In terms of experience, accolades, and runs on the board, East Fremantle seems to sneak ahead – especially given six of the 11 names listed above for Sandringham are still playing out their careers. Furthermore, the Sharks seem to have an edge in terms of balance, with the run of Cousins, Kerr, and Mainwaring in particular greater than what any Dragon can offer, while the honest ball winners remain. Sandringham’s big asset, its inside power, is arguably matched too, especially with the likes of Hasleby and Yeo destined to rotate through the engine room. Max Gawn makes for a terrific adversary against Sandilands and beats him around the ground, but not in the ruck contest, which is crucial with such class to utilise at ground level.

THE SPINE:

The respective spines also provide a key area of interest, with champions scattered throughout, but one side coming out a clear winner in our eyes. There is not much you could do to improve the Sharks’ key position set-up, with Luke McPharlin and Harry Taylor making for a formidable defensive partnership, while Josh J. Kennedy and Paddy Ryder line up down the other end. Sure, Ryder is more of a ruckman, but the swingman support of Cale Hooker slots in as well should the latter fall to the bench. The versatility of Hooker, McPharlin, and Taylor is also handy, given all three have been known to swing forward from time to time.

Sandringham answers with goals in spades among its two key position forwards, with the career tallies of Tom Hawkins and Jack Gunston outweighing that of their counterparts in Kennedy and Ryder. However, the defensive pairing is perhaps what sets the two sides apart the most. Ted Richards is a fine centre half-back option, and St Kilda stalwart Jason Blake was a terrific servant in his own right, but both come up slightly undersized against East Fremantle’s monster forwards. That is not to say the likes of Tom LangdonBrayden Maynard, and Simon Beaumont could not provide aerial support, but in a pure man-on-man scenario, that factor gives the Sharks the edge in this department.

SUMMARY:

The competition is getting tighter by the round among our All-Star teams, and this is one of the closest calls yet. But given the two areas identified which see East Fremantle come out on top, we are inclined to stick with the Sharks. As the number one seed, they simply boast a greater amount of depth, and match up well against the key strengths of Sandringham here.

Which All-Star Team of the AFL Draft Era are you picking?
East Fremantle
Sandringham Dragons
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Walsh adapting to League life at East Fremantle

GROWING up in Northampton, a small town 500km north of Perth, Rosie Walsh was always fascinated with Australian rules football. Her brother played in the local competition, father loved the sport, and grandfather played for Carlton in the Victorian Football League days. But it was her late uncle who gave her the confidence to believe in her dream well before the AFL Women’s was established that set Walsh on her path to where she is today – being a threat inside 50 for West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s reigning premiers, East Fremantle.

“My grandfather who played was kind of inspirational because there was someone who had played AFL so I thought maybe I can continue on and play that,” Walsh said. “But then one of my uncles, when I was younger I had never met him before, but when I did meet him he was like ‘she’s going to play AFL one day’ and he’s no longer with us, and it was kind of like if he thinks that, when I only met him once, then maybe I can make it. “But then definitely all the girls at the football club can definitely contribute to that. “Girls in my team that I look up to who have been playing at East Freo for years and they look at me and say I have good talent so I thought maybe because someone else thinks that I can make it there.”

The support she has received over the journey has been uplifting for her, as Walsh moved from Northampton to board in Perth. Her country town has had more than its fair share of AFL players with the likes of Patrick Cripps, Harry Taylor, Paul Hasleby, Josh J. Kennedy and Jamie Cripps all among the notable residents. Unfortunately for Walsh, she ran into the issue that many young female footballers pre-AFL Women’s did, with a lack of opportunities.

“I played for the local team in under 10s but I was the only girl so I only played one season and didn’t continue,” she said. “I went to boarding school, I started in Year 9 which was in 2015. “I played for the school team and I loved it so much that I went down to East Fremantle when I was Year 12. “That was my first season there.”

Walsh has now spent three seasons at the Sharks and is loving it. One of the coaches at the school was also a coach at East Fremantle, which helped make the transition a little easier. Though having not played in five years, Walsh admitted it was really different to getting used to playing again, especially alongside all girls, and then having the whirlwind journey into the WAFL Women’s competition.

“(The experience was) definitely really different,” she said. “I played one season when I was 10, and I was playing with all boys, so going to an all girls school and just playing footy with just girls, it was definitely better in a way, but it was so different because I guess it had been such a long time, and kind of having other girls I can feed off. “Some girls that I played with were down at East Freo from my school, and then going from school footy up to WAFL level was definitely very different, so full on. “But I loved it, because I knew I wanted to go further with my football.”

East Fremantle has been the dominant team in women’s football the last couple of years, winning the last premiership in the West Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL), as well as the inaugural one in the newly founded WAFL Women’s competition. For Walsh, the experience at the Sharks has been a lot more than just being a successful team.

“It’s amazing, I love the community down there,” Walsh said. “It’s not all about football, its about becoming a club and a family, about how we represent ourselves as a club and how all the girls are with each other and how committed the coaches are to not just teach us football, but how to build relationships, get close to one another. “That’s what I love about it and we have training sessions, but then other times we have bonding sessions, which we can work to build ourselves as people, not just as footballers, so I think it’s definitely on high how high we present ourselves professionally and as footballer.”

As a 187cm 20-year-old prospect and relative newcomer to the game compared to many of her peers, Walsh is a late boomer who been identified as a talent, which is why she earned a place in the West Australian State Academy squad. Starting her season in the Reserves back in Round 1, it was clear she was not going to remain there after kicking 11.4 (70) herself. That’s right, Walsh booted 11 goals against newcomers South Fremantle as she patrolled the forward line in a performance that unsurprisingly earned her an immediate call-up to the League side. Walsh said she was “surprised” by her haul because she had not kicked that many in a game before – very few have – but admitted it was a dominant team performance rather than a one-player game.

We did end up winning by 130 points and when I do have a really big height advantage over my opponent (it is easier), she said. “But yeah it was honestly such a good game, I think that everyone honestly played as well as each other. “Now I’ve moved up to League and have played League games, but that was an amazing game.”

The move to the League side has not yielded any double-figure goal games yet, but Walsh looks at home inside the forward line of a Sharks team that is in a rebuilding phase as such, with a large amount of changes over the off-season and bringing in a stack of new and young prospects. Walsh said she noticed the difference competing against AFL Women’s players and experienced state league campaigners when stepping up to the top West Australian level.

“It’s a lot harder,” she said. “It’s more stressful I think. “But I think it’s more stressful for me because I’ve only played three League games, and going straight into League after playing Reserves it was a big step up. “Everybody knows what they’re meant to do, and everybody needs to know. “It’s just a lot more full-on, you kind of don’t get a break, but it’s also good because if you want to go further with your football that’s what you need. “You need those people to push you, when playing League you need that push, the coaches to push you, you need to work harder and some of the girls play AFL. “It’s really good for them to push you and to play with other girls with experience when you don’t have experience, so you can learn. “But it’s definitely harder and really good.”

Walsh is currently building her fitness, running every day to ensure she can compete for longer within games. Already boasting the height to trouble any opposition defender, she is looking to have more impact in games defensively and hit the scoreboard as often as possible. In the loss to Swan Districts last round, Walsh rolled her ankle after a goal and had to come off, but said while it was “a bit sore”, she would train and be able to run out against Claremont this weekend. The key forward said the team would look to bounce back after a defeat to the Swans that did not tell the whole story.

I don’t think that the scoreboard really reflected how we played,” Walsh said. “I think that in the first half we played much better, but I think that we just, in the forward line our defensive pressure just lacked. “So I think that’s where we lost. “It went out so many more times than it went in. “Our forward line, our structure, we didn’t have it as well as we should have. Honestly I think we played good as a team but the other team just wanted it more.”

Walsh said the team would look to address its defensive pressure for this week against the Tigers in what was a must-win game when it came to finals calculations. In a six-team competition with a four-team finals series, the Sharks sit fifth with one win from four matches, and that victory came against newcomers and last placed South Fremantle in the opening round of the season. While Walsh said individually her dream was to push herself and make it to the elite level, her team goal was to help her side reach the finals series.

I think that we can definitely make finals, we’ve had a bit of a slow start but that’s normal because our side has changed so much,” she said. “We’ve got half the team that we had last year, so many of the girls are young. “But honestly if we train hard and work hard outside of footy, I reckon we can make them (finals). “We’ve got the team, we’ve got the side, we’ve got the relationships with each other so I’m feeling positive.”

Draft Central All-Star Teams: East Fremantle

EAST Fremantle’s All-Star side is arguably the greatest of the teams thus far, with a ridiculous amount of talent. With Ben Cousins and Simon Black voted the Best Players of the AFL Era (the voting was tight at the time of publishing), they lead a side featuring a whopping 17 – yes seventeen – 200-game players. Throw in another 21 100-game players and it’s fair to say the Sharks’ program has produced some absolute elites of the game.

THE TEAM:

I mean there’s not much not to love about this team with depth across every line, and while you might have to get creative with the small-medium forwards, they still have them. Every other line is nothing short of elite, and if this team was able to run out on the park, good luck stopping them. It is hard to pinpoint a weakness, but of all their strengths, their onball brigade is elite, deep and well-balanced.

DEFENCE:

Starting with the defence, you have a couple of 250-game key defenders in Harry Taylor and Luke McPharlin. With three All-Australians and five All-Australian squad nods between them – as well as some time up forward, this duo would be incredibly hard to score against. Cale Hooker provide a third tall option down there too, and while he might not have the accolades of the other two, he has a best and fairest to go with an All-Australian selection.

In terms of the smaller options, Tarkyn Lockyer and Chris Waterman were as reliable as they come, with Elliot Yeo providing the flare. He could also roam through the midfield very easily, but the strength of the onball brigade has pushed the two-time All-Australian and best and fairest winner out to half-back. Brad Sheppard is a player on the bench who could play a defensive role, as could Shaun McManus who could be another option through the midfield.

MIDFIELD:

How about an onball trio with two Brownlows, 11 All-Australians, 10 best and fairests, a Norm Smith, Rising Star, MVP award and four premierships between them? That is exactly what the three lining up at centre bounces possess. Black, Cousins and Patrick Cripps would be a mouth-watering onball group for any coach, and that is before you look at the depth to provide them with support. The ruck? None other than Fremantle giant, Aaron Sandilands who behind Dean Cox was the best ruck of the first decade in the millennium with four All-Australians and two best and fairests.

As already mentioned, Yeo, McManus and Sheppard could rotate through there, but the starting wings are Eagles star, Chris Mainwaring and Fremantle talent, Paul Hasleby, who again share in three All-Australians, and 409 games of AFL action. Andrew Swallow has won three best and fairests and he has to slide onto a half-forward flank such is the talent amongst the group.

With Chris Masten, Josh Carr and Dom Cassisi on the bench, this midfield bats really deep. Oh, and there is a Brownlow Medallist on the pine in Shane Woewodin. He might be much maligned, but you do not win a Brownlow without talent, so the rotations through the middle would be unstoppable for the opposition sides facing this team.

FORWARD:

The forward line might not have the amazing accolades of the other two areas, but with former Carlton and now West Coast sharpshooter, Josh J Kennedy at full-forward, the team will have no problems booting a big score. Imagine the three-time All-Australian and two-time Coleman Medallist leading out to the midfield group in this side – Fred Fanning‘s all-time record in a game might be on shaky ground.

The other key tall is Paddy Ryder who while he has had injury concerns at times, is still an All-Australian and best and fairest winner. Along with Swallow at half-forward is Jamie Cripps who has booted 211 goals in 163 games to be third overall – and soon to be second – behind Kennedy and Daniel Chick in this team.

Chick finds himself in the forward pocket even though realistically he would play further up the field, but his 216 goals in 252 games make him a perfect player inside 50. Rounding out the forward line is Darren Bennett who has played the least games of everyone by some way – just 78 in fact. Why has a 78-gamer made it in over some 150+ gamers? He booted 215 goals in the late 80s, at 2.8 goals per game.

DEPTH:

If we mentioned every single player that was unlucky to make this team, we would be here all day. There are 38 players with more than 100 games, and even the majority of them are either well over 100 games, or still playing to add to their numbers. If we are talking past players, then the two most unlucky have to be Peter Wilson and Jonathan Hay who ran out in 171 and 157 games each, earning All-Australian honours once.

Michael Brennan (179 games), Garrick Ibbotson (177) and Matthew Carr (162) are the other three players to play more than 150 games and narrowly miss out. Of the new crop coming through, David Swallow and Jason Johannisen could well make this side by the end of their careers, while if we are talking the last few years, then Cameron Zurhaar has started promisingly, and of course there are the five players plucked out in last year’s AFL National Draft that Sharks fans will be keen to see develop over time.

Note: Daniel Kerr should have been included in the team, and was an oversight due to not being on the Draft Guru site. When it comes to Team-by-Team voting, Kerr will be included.