Tag: Hawthorn

Six sides race for last VFL Women’s spot

THERE are just five rounds remaining in the 2021 VFL Women’s season, and the ladder has well and truly taken shape. With the top five teams having seemingly created enough separation – three wins or 12 points and a percentage difference that will never be matched – from teams in the bottom six, it is fair to say that Essendon and Casey Demons’ 6-3 records and 165 per cent-plus will be enough for them to join the unbeaten Collingwood, and top three sides Port Melbourne (8-1) and Geelong (7-2) in the finals series. This leaves one spot for a side to grab hold of and we look at those in the running.

SOUTHERN SAINTS:

Position: 6th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5
Percentage: 104.8

As the saying goes, sixth spot is the Saints’ to lose. A recent defeat at the hands of the Western Bulldogs would have hurt the Saints, but they bounced back with an important win over Hawthorn last round. They have a superior percentage to the teams below them – 30.7 per cent higher than the next best side – which means they would need to fall in a heap to drop outside on percentage. Effectively they are a game and a half ahead of other sides with that extra percentage, so one would think that two wins in the final five matches should do it, and three wins certainly will do it – as long as the two losses are not severe.

Opponents: Port Melbourne, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Carlton

That is one stiff draw for the Saints, coming up against two of the genuine title contenders in the next two rounds means they could slip outside the six from Round 11 if they drop them both. Whilst the final three are a little bit easier, they lost to the Bulldogs a fortnight ago, and the trio of sides are all the next in line to take their spot. Talk about pressure and making them earn it, none are guaranteed, though they should pick up a couple of wins. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

Position: 7th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Percentage: 74.1

For a side that has been heavily favouring VFL Women’s listed players compared to many of its AFLW-aligned counterparts, North Melbourne should be pretty happy with where it sits in the scheme of things. If Southern Saints do indeed lose their next two games, then the Roos could pounce with some favourable results. Ticking over an important win two starts ago against Carlton was unfortunately cancelled out by the heavy loss to Casey in Round 9, but they were helped by the fact their nearest rivals – Western Bulldogs and Carlton – both had huge defeats to reduce their percentages further.

Opponents: Collingwood, Hawthorn, Essendon, Southern Saints, Port Melbourne

An even harder draw than the Saints, North Melbourne face three of the top four sides, as well as the Saints in what could ultimately be a do-or-die clash. The game against bottom three side Hawthorn is a must-win for the Roos, as that appears to be the best chance for a win, though if they do load up on some AFL Women’s talent, then they have enough talent on the list to worry most sides. The Hawks are no easy beats either with the list they are assembling, so again, no easy games here.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Position: 8th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Percentage: 69.6

One step forward, three steps back is probably apt for the Western Bulldogs at the moment, with some great strides made in the past few weeks undone at the hands of a ruthless Geelong outfit last week. On paper the Bulldogs had the talent to match the Cats, but were blown off the park, and will be hungry to make up for it this week. This issue is, now the Bulldogs have copped a huge percentage blow, and will have to earn a finals spot via wins rather than percentage, which will mean they will need a minimum of three wins, and hope the Saints do not grab their two victories. Realistically though, the Dogs probably need to win four out of five to be a chance.

Opponents: Carlton, Essendon, Southern Saints, Casey Demons, Collingwood

Needing four wins to get in – and even then probably needing results to go their way, the Bulldogs simply must beat Carlton to be a chance, especially with four top six teams to round out their year. The Saints are a side they beat, and the only AFLW-aligned side they have managed to defeat this year. They might get two to three wins, but the last fortnight – with Casey and Collingwood not mucking around when it comes to AFLW talent – the Bulldogs need to head into those games with three consecutive wins under their belt.

CARLTON:

Position: 9th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Percentage: 71.8

The biggest outsider of the possibilities, the Blues have really struggled to score when they have lost, but have shown patches of brilliance, such as their hard-fought loss to Port Melbourne a couple of weeks back. Had they snatched that one, the Blues would be in prime position for sixth spot, but instead, they have the lowest percentage of the teams jostling to force their way back in the top six, and will be needing a miracle to not only notch up the required likely four of five wins, but hope results go their way as well, much like the Western Bulldogs with a sub-70 per cent.

Opponents: Western Bulldogs, Casey Demons, Geelong, Williamstown, Southern Saints

The fortnight of Casey Demons and Geelong will be a painful one based on recent results, but if the Blues can cause an upset there, then it is game on. The other three matches are winnable, but certainly not guarantees by any stretch. A loss to the Western Bulldogs this week would effectively put a line through the Blues finals chances, as it means they would need to beat both Casey and Geelong, which is asking a fair bit given what those sides have been able to achieve.

HAWTHORN:

Position: 10th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Percentage: 72.3

Hawthorn seem like the side that might not make finals, but they could certainly ruin some chances and play the role of party pooper along the way. They are not completely out of the running despite just winning the two games, but they need a near-perfect run from here, pretty much winning all five games to lock themselves in, or four and hope for the best with results. The one plus is they have the second highest percentage of teams in the bottom six, though that is still too far away from the sixth placed Saints.

Opponents: Darebin, North Melbourne, Williamstown, Port Melbourne, Geelong

What makes Hawthorn intriguing is the fact that they face the two bottom sides, as well as the inconsistent North Melbourne, in the next three weeks. If the Hawks can pull off three wins – one would expect they at least claim two of those – then it would give the other sides competing for a finals spot something to think about. One would suggest they probably fall short with Port Melbourne and Geelong in the final fortnight, but expect them to give it a red hot crack to the line.

WILLIAMSTOWN:

Position: 11th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Percentage: 50.1

Definitely into the mathematical chances now, with the Seagulls having had just the two wins this season and have a really low percentage with some heavy losses. They would need to be in a similar boat to Hawthorn, winning just about all of them, or hoping to win four and have results go their way.

Opponents: Casey Demons, Darebin, Hawthorn, Carlton, Essendon

Admittedly it is not the worst draw for the Seagulls, but they are bottom two for a reason, though they could really cause some headaches for the top sides. They have been competitive for the most part at times, and just blown away here or there to really impact their percentage, but with games against the other bottom four sides, Williamstown on a good day could come away with three wins. It would not be enough for finals though, with Casey and Essendon both having that extra class with AFLW talent.

2021 VFLW season preview: Hawthorn

FOR the first time since 2018, Bec Goddard is set to take the senior coaching reigns during competitive action, when she leads Hawthorn’s VFLW side into battle for Round 1 of the new season. Heading a historic all-female coaching staff, Goddard says she is “excited” to be part of the Hawks’ initiative to provide greater opportunities for women in football – not just on the field.

“For me, and when I talk to the players about it, it was always about the best coach for the job and they happen to be women,” Goddard said. “I’ve got some great teachers on coaching staff that support me, have got a lot of similar values and they just hadn’t had an opportunity at the next level. This is their opportunity.

“It’s one of those things where in five years time when Hawthorn is in the AFLW competition, we could look back and go ‘well, what do we do to get more women in these positions at the club?’ and start from that point, or we could start now. It’s brave and overt leadership by the club to say that we want to change the industry and give opportunities to women, not just in playing but all elements of the football department.”

Goddard will have familiar faces at her disposal in 2021, leaning on some legendary names in the women’s footballing sphere while also attempting to get the most out of some promising young talent. 39-year-old utility Meg Hutchins is among the experienced members of Hawthorn’s revamped squad, described by Goddard as akin to “the timeless piece of furniture in an expensive house.”

“She’s got so much football experience and will bookend our team this year,” Goddard said. “Meg and I often talk about how the end of football is going to wrap up for both of us and I keep saying to Meg ‘well, you’re a long time retired so while you can keep playing, why don’t you?’.

“That’s where she’s at so it’s great to have her playing, and she’s fully fit. In fact, I look at Meg and I think she’s the fittest I’ve ever seen her across her years of women’s football. It’s exciting, hopefully she has a great season and you might see her in some different positions.”

With such vast experience in the women’s coaching ranks comes a handy list of contacts, which has played a part in Hawthorn’s recruitment of players like Abbey Holmes and new skipper Jess Trend. Both have been AFLW-listed players and the latter is a “surprise package” of sorts according to Goddard, hardly missing a beat since deciding to join the brown and gold. She was one of the many signings identified as key members of the side by her new head coach.

“‘I had a couple of texts with (Trend) and then she came down to training and she hasn’t missed a session,” Goddard said. “I think coming out of a global pandemic, we’re looking for a carrier of a good disease and Jess Trend is just that. She’s infectious with her attitude, her happiness to be around football and bringing good elite habits to the group.

“In the middle of the field we’ve brought in some experience in Abbey Holmes. Abbey and I obviously worked together at Adelaide for the inaugural premiership year. She’s got a wealth of football IQ that she brings and shares with the younger players in the group, as well as some great physical attributes for football. She’s tough at the contest, so it’s exciting to see Abbey contribute at Hawthorn.

Olivia Flanagan will play an important role this year. She’s coming back from a little bit of sickness in the last couple of weeks so she’s named as an emergency this week, but I expect ‘Liv’ to play a lot of football. She’ll make an impact up forward and on the ball this year to make her a bit more diverse in what she does.

“We’ve got young Territorian Dominique Carbone coming in from Darwin this weekend to play her first season in the VFLW, she’s a really exciting young talent with a basketball background. She plays low to the ground, looks like an athlete, is an athlete, behaves like an athlete, and she’s ready to take her football to the next level.”

Goddard is also excited to have full access to the next generation of prospects swarming through the elite talent pathways. Through a competition restructure, the NAB League Girls season now runs concurrently with that of the VFLW, allowing Under 18 and 19 players to also ply their trade in the state league system.

Their impressive skill and scope for improvement has impressed many a VFLW coach, no less Goddard who suggested tongue-in-cheek that she is “really looking forward to the (NAB League) byes” in order to gain access to said talent as much as possible.

“They’re such great footballers,” Goddard said. “Their skills are so impressive and they’re just growing in terms of their football IQ each week, understanding how we want to play football. It’s just great to have them there and contributing to a really high standard of training.

Speaking of training, the Hawks returned in “better than expected” shape after a year on the sidelines, though plenty of craft sessions and a heavy incorporation of match simulation into training has lifted their touch back up to scratch. A single scratch match, against Geelong provided even more insight into how the brown and gold are shaping up ahead of Round 1, with 29 players trialled and a bunch of magnets locked in on Goddard’s whiteboard.

Players returning from injury will also have a say on the side’s shape during the season, with a few players who earned high praise from Goddard expected to make a splash once fully fit. The new 12-day concussion mandate has also been a factor in availabilities across the competition.

“We’ve got a couple of players to come back still,” Goddard said. “We’ve got Tayah Kelly who obviously is a fairly damaging midfielder, she’s still out with a bit of an issue with her hip, so I think we’re at least three weeks away with her.

Chloe Bain, who I think is probably going to be one of the most exciting centre half-forwards in the competition – new to the game and she’s an extraordinary athlete with a rowing background, very long levers – is out this week with concussion. But when she’s fully fit and firing she will take the competition by storm, I’ve got no doubt.

Hawthorn’s first point of call in 2021 will be a clash against the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval on Sunday morning. Goddard says she is taking a “simple” approach when it comes to expectations, but is excited to be able to get back into action.

“I think we’re going to keep it really simple and we want to enjoy our first game together as a group, that’ll be the most important thing,” she said. “Also just being in the contest and making a real fist of Round 1 and getting to feel what it’s like to be with the team to achieve a common goal.”

Image Credit: Hawthorn Media

2020 AFL Draft recap: Hawthorn Hawks

WITH the disappointment of a 15th place finish comes great hope via the draft and in 2020, Hawthorn came into the event holding its earliest pick since 2005. The Hawks have a history of making good on their high-end selections and filled an immediate list chasm with their first choice on the night, while also gaining some exciting long-term prospects and taking little time to match a bid on their own homegrown talent. A haul of four in the National Draft was capped by one more rookie selection the very next day, making for a handful of fresh faces set to inject even more enthusiasm to the Hawks’ developing list.

HAWTHORN

National Draft:
#6 Denver Grainger-Barras (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#29 Seamus Mitchell (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
#35 Connor Downie (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#46 Tyler Brockman (Subiaco/Western Australia)

Rookies:
Jack Saunders (Norwood)

Hawthorn’s first pick hinged on much of the action amongst the top five, with the Hawks reaching a happy medium in terms of picking for list needs and the best available talent. After a failed bid on Swans Academy member Braeden Campbell, West Australian Denver Grainger-Barras was the Hawks’ man; the best defender in the draft and an athletic one at that.

At 195cm, he is a terrific intercept marker and has great versatility in the sense that he can lock down opponents or play as a loose man across the back half. The Swan Districts product could well slot straight into James Sicily‘s role from the get-go, while also freeing him up to swing forward or be let off the chain once he recovers from his long-term knee injury.

The Hawks then looked towards bolstering their small stocks with the selections of Seamus Mitchell (Pick 29) and Tyler Brockman (46). While some small forwards are picked for their defensive acts, these two will likely prove selections made on speed and upside. Both are wonderfully quick and have serious x-factor, able to ply their trade as high half-forwards or even closer to goal.

Neither are quite the finished product, but promise to put together handy highlight reels if given a chance at senior level early on. Hawthorn’s recruiting staff were obviously quite high on their talents having jumped on them a touch early, but the pair could prove well worth the price in quick time.

In between those picks came a bid on Next Generation Academy (NGA) product Connor Downie, a driven and professional character who was set to captain the Eastern Ranges this year. The outside midfielder/defender loves to take the game on and boasts a penetrating left-foot kick, allowing him to gain meterage at a good rate.

Having put four years of work into Downie through their NGA program, the Hawks were prepared to match a bid in the 25-range, so snaring him 10 picks later than that was a bonus. Another outside runner in Jack Saunders rounded out the draft as a rookie pick, adding line-breaking and ball-winning ability to the Hawks’ midfield stocks. The 180cm talent played a key part in Norwood’s Under 18 and Reserves sides this season.

Featured Image: Hawthorn’s 2020 draftees | Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: Club AFL Draft previews (Part 3)

OVER the past few weeks, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, special guest Tom Cheesman joined Chief Editor Peter Williams and AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to breakdown how this year’s draft may pan out for each club.

The clubs featured in part three are Collingwood, Hawthorn, North Melbourne and Sydney, all of whom have key decisions to make at the pointy end. The Magpies, Hawks, and Swans all have high-level academy products who look set to yield bids in tricky spots, putting their recruiting staff under the pump.

A bid for Collingwood’s Reef McInnes could come as early as with Essendon’s top 10 picks but the Pies will be sweating on him falling past their first selection (currently 14). Hawthorn is in a similar boat with Connor Downie, who will tempt clubs around the Hawks’ second pick (currently 24), especially given it is set to slide down the order on the back of other academy bids. Then there is Sydney, who is preparing to match a bid for Braeden Campbell within the top 10 and will be sweating on Errol Gulden‘s value in round two. North also looms as a key player given its rights to picks two and 11, which will undoubtedly yield a pair of elite talents. Either way, these will be some of the busier list management and recruiting teams come draft time and they each have some tough calls to make.

Below are the picks held by each club, as of December 1.

Collingwood: 14, 16, 65, 70, 75, 92
Hawthorn: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72
North Melbourne: 2, 11, 30, 39, 71, 81
Sydney: 3, 34, 37, 43, 48, 60, 82

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

>> AFL Draft Whispers: 2020
>> Power Rankings: November Update

Past Episodes:

Club-by-club previews…
Club AFL Draft previews (Part 1)
Club AFL Draft previews (Part 2)

The best…
AFL Draft hands
Best academy and father-son hauls
Non-aligned midfielders
Readymade prospects
Players under 175cm
Midfielders over 190cm

Player comparisons…
Logan McDonald vs. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
Brayden Cook vs. Conor Stone
Key defenders kicking comparison

Further analysis…
Potential cult heroes
An early top 10 look
Offence from defence

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Hawthorn Hawks

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Next under the microscope is Hawthorn, arguably the most successful team of the modern era and one which has not held a top five pick since taking Xavier Ellis third off the board in 2005. After a period of sustained success, the Hawks have missed finals in three of the last four seasons and are beginning to look back at the draft as a means of regenerating on top of their usual mature-age coups from other clubs. A 15th place finish in 2020 sees them likely to break the aforementioned top five streak, with at least one a couple of key list needs able to be bolstered at the pointy end.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 4, 24, 45, 46, 49, 72

2021 PICKS*: HAW Rd 1 | HAW Rd 2 | HAW Rd 3

* – denotes as of November 28

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Connor Downie (NGA)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Midfielders
Long-term key position depth

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 4)

While placed nicely up the order, Hawthorn’s selection here still depends largely on what other clubs do beforehand. The Hawks were smashed at the contest at times this year despite boasting a strong starting midfield mix, meaning engine room depth and contested ball winners should be at the top of their wish list. Will Phillips fits the bill perfectly as a competitive and reliable midfielder with readymade attributes. He joined Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in Oakleigh’s premiership midfield last year, holding his own as one of the competition’s premier players. The only problem for Hawthorn is that he may be snapped up by Sydney a pick earlier.

Elijah Hollands could well be in the same boat as Phillips given the interest coming from Adelaide (pick one) and North Melbourne (pick two), but would be another shrewd selection for Hawthorn. He could free up Chad Wingard to spend more time in the midfield early on, before transitioning into that position himself. As far as other mids go, Tanner Bruhn would arguably be the next best inside ball winner behind Phillips, while Archie Perkins is also said to be a surprise contented for the pick. He is an explosive type with rare athleticism and upside which will likely see him bolt into the top 10. A bid on Sydney Academy member Braeden Campbell may also be in the offing, but the Swans would inevitably match.

Should Hawthorn take the key position route, there are a couple of exciting prospects with senior state league experience up for grabs. 201cm South Australian Riley Thilthorpe is in contention to be taken with pick one, but may slide otherwise and would be a terrific fit for the Hawks as a long-term key forward option who doubles as an athletic ruckman. West Australian key defender Denver Grainger-Barras may be considered by Sydney, but is also around Hawthorn’s range. He is renowned for his intercept marking ability and has plenty of development left.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

Much of the Hawks’ live trading movement may surround where a bid comes for Next Generation Academy (NGA) member Connor Downie. The Eastern Ranges captain is a wingman/half-back who loves to take the game on and boasts a booming left boot. His range is said to be around the 25 mark, which is dangerously close to Hawthorn’s pick 24. Said pick will inevitably slide down three to five places by then, making it even more likely that another club would swoop in and bid on the Hawks’ man. Hawthorn would unlikely think twice on matching it, but would be sweating on getting a selection in beforehand. A combination of picks 45, 46, and 49 could be used to match the Downie bid after pick 24, or alternatively to move up the order and come away with three quality players overall. Pick four, 24, Downie, and one other could be Hawthorn’s ideal haul.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Hawthorn be tempted by the key position options available, or look for midfield depth with pick four?

Will Archie Perkins come into consideration at pick four?

Can Hawthorn find the next Hodge, Franklin, or Roughead with pick four?

Will a bid for Connor Downie come before Hawthorn’s pick 24?

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best academy & father-son hauls

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss which AFL club shapes as boasting the strongest combined academy and father-son hauls.

The Next Generation Academy (NGA) and Northern Academy programs have garnered plenty of attention as we prepare for what will arguably be the most compromised AFL Draft in history. Adding fuel to the fire, consensus number one prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is a Western Bulldogs NGA product, while fellow potential top 10 picks Braeden Campbell (Sydney) and Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide) are also already aligned to clubs. Add to that Gold Coast’s pre-listing rights and access to the Darwin zone, as well as some handy father-son prospects overall, and around a quarter of the likely draft pool will include club-aligned juniors.

It got our editors thinking, ‘which club lays claim to the strongest academy and father-son pool?’. We outline the strongest eight hauls, and touch on a few others to look out for in the latest pocket podcast.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Here are some of the strongest likely academy and father-son hauls:

Sydney:
Braeden Campbell (Academy) | 181cm/75kg | Midfielder/Forward | Range: 8-15
Errol Gulden (Academy) | 175cm/75kg | Outside Midfielder/Small Utility | Range: 15-30

Gold Coast:
Alex Davies (Academy) | 192cm/85kg | Inside Midfielder | Range: 10-15
Joel Jeffrey (Darwin Zone) | 192cm/80kg | Tall Utility | Range: 20-30

Fremantle:
Joel Western (NGA) | 172cm/68kg | Midfielder/Small Forward | Range: 25-40
Brandon Walker (NGA) | 184cm/75kg | Medium Defender | Range: 25-40

Port Adelaide:
Lachlan Jones (NGA) | 186cm/89kg | General Defender | Range: 7-12
Taj Schofield (F/S) | 178cm/72kg | Outside Midfielder/Forward | Range: 35+

Western Bulldogs:
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA) | 195cm/90kg | Key Forward | Range: 1-5
Ewan Macpherson (F/S) | 181cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder | Range: Late/Rookie
Cody Raak (NGA) | 190cm/78kg | Defender | Range: Rookie

Adelaide:
Luke Edwards (F/S) | 188cm/83kg | Inside Midfielder/Utility | Range: 30-45
Tariek Newchurch (NGA) | Small Forward/Midfielder | Range: 30-45
James Borlase (NGA) | 192cm/93kg | Tall Utility | Range: 40+

Brisbane:
Blake Coleman (Academy) | 181cm/79kg | Small Forward | Range: 30-45
Carter Michael (Academy) | 188cm/74kg | Balanced Midfielder | Range: 40+
Saxon Crozier (Academy) | 190cm/80kg | Outside Midfielder | Range: Late-Rookie

Essendon:
Cody Brand (NGA) | 196cm/87kg | Key Defender | Range: 30-50
Joshua Eyre (NGA) | 198cm/85kg | Tall Utility | Range: Late/Rookie

There are plenty of others who loom as solid options not only aligned to the clubs listed here, but also to others around the league. Additionally, the selections above are not indicative of those clubs’ entire available pools, but rather the top prospects who have garnered the most attention.

Elsewhere, Reef McInnes is arguably a first round talent who may slide to the 20-30 range for Collingwood, another from their NGA program. Connor Downie is a proven quantity out of the Eastern Ranges, a line-breaking outside mover who boasts a penetrating left boot and is tied to Hawthorn through its NGA. Of course, another prospect who has already garnered plenty of attention is Maurice Rioli Jnr, the son of late Richmond and South Fremantle great, Maurice Rioli. He is a hard-tackling small forward with terrific goal sense and will most likely be picked up as a Richmond father-son, despite also qualifying for Fremantle under the same rule, and Essendon via the NGA.

Expect to see most of the above names find homes at AFL level in 2020, and for the inevitable top five bid on Ugle-Hagan to shape the pointy end of the draft. About a third of the top 30 names could well come from academies, bringing out plenty of baulking and bluffing in the bidding process. As we have seen in previous drafts, being aligned to a club does not always mean you will end up there, so those with big hauls will undoubtedly be made to pay a pretty price for their products.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

Number Crunching: VFLW – Grand Final

THE 2018 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals series concluded with a nail-biting final between Hawthorn and Geelong. In a tight, low-scoring game, Hawthorn claimed the premiership over Geelong 4.6 (30) to 2.5 (17). The Cats were simply not able to break through Hawthorn’s tight defence. The Hawks were able to keep Geelong to only one goal until early in the fourth quarter, when Kate Darby finally broke through. Overall possession throughout the game was tight and reflected the opportunities both teams had, with 52 per cent in the Hawks’ favour and 48 per cent with the Cats.

Hawthorn’s season-defining defence proved to be too much for an otherwise strong Geelong side. Chantella Perera became the well-deserved Lisa Hardeman Medal winner, leading her defence with 13 disposals and four marks. Perera’s command in the back line was assisted by veteran player, Meg Hutchins. Hutchins, who gathered 17 disposals and a game-high seven marks, finally got her first premiership after 16 years of football. Additionally, Hawthorn key forward, Phoebe McWilliams had an explosive game. McWilliams took a game-high four contested marks to lead to a total of six marks.

Geelong still was able to perform despite facing a superior Hawthorn side. Young gun, Nina Morrison had an excellent game with 20 disposals and five tackles. Morrison is certain to get drafted into Geelong’s 2019 AFLW side and continued to solidify that notion with her performance in the Grand Final. Her Falcons teammate, Olivia Purcell was able to shine through with 19 disposals and a game-high eight clearances. Madeline Keryk also continued her blistering finals form with 18 disposals and nine tackles.

Totaled team stats- VFLW Grand Final

TEAM G BHD K H MKS TKS FF FA HO D I50s
Hawthorn 4 5 151 76 59 86 15 12 45 227 24
Geelong 2 5 121 85 24 85 12 15 29 206 34

 

Top player stats- VFLW Grand Final

PLAYER TEAM G BHD KE KIE HE HIE HR CM UM MKS TKS
Chantella Perera Hawthorn 0 0 5 1 6 1 1 2 2 4 5
Meg Hutchins Hawthorn 0 1 10 3 3 1 5 1 6 7 2
Phoebe McWilliams Hawthorn 0 2 3 4 4 2 1 4 2 6 2
Nina Morrison Geelong 0 0 5 4 9 2 7 0 0 0 5
Olivia Purcell Geelong 0 0 4 2 8 5 1 0 1 1 11
Madeline Keryk Geelong 0 0 4 8 5 1 3 0 2 2 9

 

From Eastern to Hawthorn, Ranges duo celebrate flag

EASTERN Ranges duo Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods have basked in the glory of a Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premiership yesterday. The Ranges and now Hawthorn midfielder/forwards just “played their role” as they said, in Hawthorn’s 13-point victory over Geelong. Cann finished the game with 14 disposals, one mark and a team-high nine tackles, while Woods’ defensive pressure saw her also lay five tackles to go with two touches.

Both players were thrilled after the game, hardly believing the moment.

“It’s just surreal,” Woods said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting this, just coming at such a young age as well coming into the team, just to get a spot (is good) I suppose.” Cann was equally as excited. “You can’t describe it,” she said. “Winning a premiership with the best group of girls, it’s indescribable”

Woods said the speed of the game was the crucial difference between the TAC Cup Girls and VFL Women’s.

“It’s much faster, quick ball movement, pretty hard to keep up at times, but it’s good,” Woods said. Cann said she felt the bigger presence of opponents out there and stronger bodies. “(It’s) a lot more physical, the bodies are larger, but I guess you want to be playing at the highest level so this is one step closer.”

The last quarter saw the game on a knife’s edge and Geelong was attacking fiercely throughout the second half. Cann said the team knew the Cats would come at them, and had prepared for the momentum swing.

“We prepared what we had to do at training with our composure,” she said. “We just knew what we had to do and we implemented it.”

Woods said the most amazing feeling was with the clock counting down, knowing they would soon be premiership players.

“Yeah towards the end of the game, it was a bit of a surreal feeling with 30 seconds to go knowing that we’d won it,” she said.

Now both draft-eligible players will prepare for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next week ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft in late October.

Team Selection: VFLW – Grand Final

OVALS across not only Victoria, but also Australia have been graced by the presence of many Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) players this year. Many new faces have had their time in the spotlight and old favourites have continued to inspire. This weekend the two strongest sides, Geelong and Hawthorn will come head to head to battle it out for the premiership. Both sides have made a few team changes ahead of the big game.

 

HAWTHORN  v. GEELONG CATS

Sunday, September 23, 12.30pm
Etihad Stadium, Docklands

After defeating Collingwood in the first round of finals, Hawthorn has had the benefit of a week off going into the premiership match. However, AFLW star and former Box Hill VFLW captain, Melissa Kuys will miss the match, still suffering from injury to her achilles from the first round of finals. Similarly, Dianna Haines will miss out this week with an injury to her medial ligament. Coming in to fill their shoes is Olivia Flanagan, who will come in for her first game since Round 15. Flanagan suffered a hamstring injury earlier in the season and has now been given the green light to take to the field. Emily Gilder is another important inclusion this week and has been named on the interchange bench. Her consistent goal kicking this year is sure to bolster Hawthorn’s forward line. Ellie Macdonald has also been selected and will start in the midfield in the Grand Final.

The Cats might not have had a week’s rest, however coming off last week’s victory over the Pies, they are sure to have some momentum behind them. With a ‘don’t fix what’s not broken’ mentality, Geelong has made only one change this week, bringing in Nina Morrison. The Vic Country representative, who was named Most Valuable Player in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships this year, will be an important inclusion to the Cats midfield.

Hawthorn

B: 25. M. Hutchins, 32. K. Ebb, 31. J. Sibley
HB: 13. E. Nixon, 21. P. Randall, 36. J. Van Dyk
C: 40. E. Macdonald, 1. E. Mackie, 12. T. Nestor
HF: 14. O. Flanagan, 8. R. Beeson, 35. C. O’Donnell
F: 22. T. Luke, 7. P. McWilliams, 28. S. Perkins
R: 19. L. Wotton, 5. C. Perera, 6. J. Crockett-Grills
Int: 45. M. Cann, 4. S. Carroll, 24. R. Dillon, 33. E. Gilder
23P: 43. E. Woods

In: E. Gilder, E. Macdonald, O. Flanagan
Out: D. Haines, M. Kuys, S. Kendall

 

Geelong Cats

B: 26. R. Pearce, 44. R. Goring, 40. A. Teague
HB: 34. A. McDonald, 25. E. Coventry, 1. J. Woollett
C: 3. H. Burchell, 13. M. Fogas, 20. N. Morrison
HF: 4. C. Blakeway, 5. J. Ivey, 2. D. Orr
F: 7. M. Clifford, 6. M. Boyd, 8. K. Darby
R: 24. M. McMahon, 30. R. Cranston, 45. M. Keryk
Int: 28. M. Fedele, 17. H. Mangan, 41. C. Stevens, 33. H. Trevean
23P: 16. O. Purcell

In: N. Morrison
Out: L. Taylor

Number Crunching: VFLW – Week 1 Finals

WEEK one of the 2018 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals series went off with a bang, with two favourites beaten in blockbuster matches. With the Hawks claiming victory over Collingwood, they advance to the Grand Final in two weeks’ time whereas the Pies have this weekend to decide their fate in the preliminary final. A surprise, but well-fought, win against NT has also bolstered Geelong into the preliminary final. The Cats found themselves trailing for most of the game, but with a magnificent fourth quarter, they were able to snatch the victory in the end.

Hawthorn’s dominance on Saturday was attributed to the excellent game and leadership of captain, Emma Mackie. Mackie was the player to disrupt the goal-for-goal game, kicking two unanswered majors against the Pies. She kicked a total of three goals for her team. Similarly, Hawthorn’s Rosie Dillon had an amazing game, moving the ball across the field with 20 disposals. Dillon’s ability wasn’t only in moving the ball through the Pies’ defence, but also up forward, as she kicked a goal.

Despite losing, Collingwood showed serious promise. Hawthorn’s defence was far too tight for the Pies, but a solid performance from Chloe Molloy attempted to keep the team afloat. Molloy kicked two of the Pies’ three goals for the match, showing her determination to win, especially with her final goal in the dying minutes of the match. Molloy’s drive showed potential for a Collingwood comeback, but Hawthorn still persisted with its strong backline.

Despite a ‘rocky’ start to the Cats’ semi-final, they displayed more and more determination as the game went on. Richelle Cranston was a major catalyst in this, being able to win even the toughest contests, with five marks and two goals. Due to Cranston’s resilience, she was able to kick an absolute screamer of a goal from more than 50 metres out to seal the game for her side. Another important player for Geelong was TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest, Nina Morrison. Morrison showed keen skill, being able to link the ball through NT’s defence and into the goal square. Morrison’s disposals aided in Geelong’s dominance in the final quarter. She will be a key player against Collingwood in the preliminary final.  

Kicking half of her team’s goals, Marijana Rajcic was a powerhouse for NT in the first half. Rajcic’s ability to consistently mark the ball and kick goals was a main factor in NT leading for the majority of the game. With Rajcic’s third goal coming at the start of the fourth term, it was thought that she would have won NT the game. Similarly, Jenna McCormick was a primary reason for NT’s success earlier in the game. McCormick moved the ball all around the field, usually being the key connection to a goal for Rajcic.

Top player stats: VFLW Finals Week 1

PLAYER TEAM G BHD KE KIE HE HIE HR CM UM MKS TKS
Emma Mackie Hawthorn 3 0 4 0 11 3 4 0 0 0 4
Rosie Dillon Hawthorn 1 0 3 8 7 2 9 1 1 2 4
Chloe Molloy Collingwood 3 0 3 4 3 0 2 1 2 3 8
Richelle Cranston Geelong Cats 2 1 11 2 3 3 2 0 5 5 6
Nina Morrison Geelong Cats 0 1 7 4 4 3 3 0 1 1 7
Marijana Rajcic NT Thunder 3 0 4 1 5 0 1 1 3 4 3
Jenna McCormick NT Thunder 1 0 10 7 4 3 9 0 2 2 0