Tag: jemma blair

NAB League Girls Round 1 preview: Undefeated 2020 sides to face off in huge round of action

AT least one of the three undefeated sides from the 2020 NAB League Girls season will extend their winning run to 18 months or more, when the competition returns this weekend. Starting tomorrow, the NAB League Girls will have six games across four different venues – including one double-header – in a new footballing landscape for 2021. For Dandenong Stingrays, they will have to tack on an extra week to their extended break that saw the 2020 season come to an unfulfilled end last year, after they were handed the bye. For the 12 other teams, it will be a chance to start the season off on the right note. For the likes of Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, they look to continue what they started last year, having not lost since 2019, or in the Knights’ case, the 2018 grand final.

Eastern Ranges vs. Western Jets
Saturday, February 6 @ 12pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

In what is officially the first NAB League Girls game in almost 12 months, Western Jets will cross the West Gate Bridge and head down to Kilsyth Recreation Reserve where the Eastern Ranges will be waiting for them. These teams last played way back in Round 4, 2019, when the Ranges easily accounted for the Jets by 43 points. A dominant second half where they booted 6.2 to 0.0 saw them run out 7.4 to 0.3 winners, with Olivia Meagher picking up 17 disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s.

Meagher has been named for the match tomorrow, with last year’s captain to play as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. She is the only Ranges player from that match to remain on the list, whilst a trio of then 15-year-old talents in Caitlin Sargent, Trinity Skenderis and Jemima Woods – as well as now top-age and over-age talents respectively, Nikita Wright and Ciara Singleton – all remain on the Jets’ list having played in that match.

Looking at the teams, the match will be won and lost in the middle, with the Jets having some great height, whilst the Ranges have speed to burn. That is not to say the respective teams do not have the opposite as well, but they are damaging in their respective areas. For the home team, Jorja Livingstone was a player who really shone last year and is a clean ball user and able to work her way out of stoppages. She will team up with the likes of Meagher and Bridget Deed in the middle, roving Georgia Campbell‘s taps. Up forward, Matilda Hardy, Jade Hutchison and Isabella Khoury are ones to watch, whilst Saskia Nannes will be a potential big improver with more matches after having the season cut short last year.

For Western, their under-age group is brimming with talent, though now with extra experience, Sargent, Skenderis and Woods will be among those to watch. Montana Ham and Charlotte Baskaran present as two of the top 2022 prospects, with Ham’s versatility and size through the midfield hard to match, while Baskaran’s run and carry – as well as her elite use by foot – will provide a one-two punch that is always difficult to combat.

This is a game that could go right down to the wire, and difficult to predict with so many new players, but Eastern might have the upper hand at home.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.15pm
JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga

From the east to the far north, Murray Bushrangers will host Bendigo Pioneers in a terrific spectacle for the country regions at Yarrawonga. Both these teams have a talented tall in the AFL Women’s Academy which makes things exciting. These two teams have also not played since March 30, 2019 when the Pioneers – during their most successful season to-date – toppled the Bushrangers by 14 points in Wangaratta.

That day it was Annabel Strahan (now Bulldogs) who had 20 touches, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) and Brooke Hards (17 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) who teamed up to cause havoc on the Bushrangers, while Millie Brown (now Geelong) racked up 27 disposals and six rebounds, and Abby Favell (22 disposals, five marks eight tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds) were the best for the losing side.

A then 15-year-old Ally Morphett had 11 disposals, two marks, 14 hitouts and two inside 50s, with the now AFL Women’s Academy member looming as the key player for the Bushrangers. Bendigo’s Academy member Tara Slender also played in that match, picking up seven disposals and having six hitouts, though the pair are unlikely to spend too much time one-on-one considering Slender will roll through a key position role and Morphett will be one of the dominant rucks in the competition.

Looking at the overall squads, Murray’s defence is strong given the likes of Mindy Quade and Kristy Whitehead provided plenty of run down there – though could be utilised further up the ground this season. Lily Sharp has been touted as one to watch by the Bushrangers’ coaching staff following a big off-season, and Keeley Skepper remains one of Vic Country’s top talents for 2022. Kate Adams returning as co-captain and providing experience and strength in the midfield will also be important.

For the Pioneers, Slender could be the top Vic Country prospect this year and will always be difficult to beat in the air, with the Pioneers’ captain not having to shoulder the ruck load given Madeline Marks‘ efforts in 2020. She will have her hands full against Morphett but it could be a fascinating battle, while Jayda Richardson, and now top-age talents Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning provide much needed experience to a really young Pioneers outfit.

Murray is excited about the depth of its squad in 2021, and while the Pioneers have some great young talents coming through, the extra experience for the Bushrangers – and what they started to show last year – should have them favourites at home in Yarrawonga.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.30pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In a battle between two teams that are building exciting programs, Gippsland Power “hosts” Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve. The furthest south east side travel up the highway to welcome the league’s newest team that only managed to taste one game in Victoria last year. The Devils had a rough introduction to the NAB League Girls competition – though the improvement from their brutal loss to Oakleigh Chargers to being competitive for the most part against Eastern Ranges has plenty of people buoyant about what they could produce in 2021.

These teams have never played before, and both have younger lists, sprinkled with some top-age and over-age experience. Key position players Camilla Taylor and Shanara Notman are the 20-year-old allowances in those sides, and have the size to cause a matchup dilemma for their respective opponents. Tasmania Devils have the sole AFL Women’s Academy member in this match, with the speedy Perri King looking to breakdown the Power’s zones and create some important run and carry for her side.

Aside from King, Amy Prokopiec remains a player to watch, having predominantly played as a last-line defender in previous seasons for the Devils, but became a reliable goalscoring threat in the TSL Women’s for Clarence. Other players who stood out 12 months ago include Jemma Blair, Aprille Crooks, Chelsea Thomas, Zoe Bourne and Meghan Gaffney. Having received an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite without managing to get on the park in the NAB League Girls, Charlie Vandenberg will get a great opportunity in the ruck and rotating forward with Taylor against one of Vic Country’s top ruck prospects.

Grace Matser is going to be difficult to stop, with the ruck battle set to be a duel within the match not to be missed. As the only Power player above 180cm, she will look to control the airways. The Gippsland midfield has some nice depth to it, with Grace McRae returning to the fold after being unlucky to miss out on the draft in 2020, and will get a good chance to play consecutive games this season. Matilda Van Berkel is another one with experience and able to play a number of roles, while Holly Booth and Sunday Brisbane are among those tipped to cause problems for the opposition. One name to remember for next year is Lily-Rose Williamson who has come through the V/Line Cup program and been one ready to step up at the level.

This game is as 50/50 as they come, so as is often the case in 50/50 games, we will lean towards the “home” team in Gippsland Power, though Tasmania Devils will be keen to sniff out their first win in the competition.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Deakin University – Geelong

The final country game of the round occurs down in Geelong at Deakin University when the Falcons host the GWV Rebels. Much like the earlier two Saturday games, these two teams last played back in Round 4, 2019, when the Falcons – on their way to another finals series and coming off a premiership in 2018 – defeated the young Rebels by 36 points at City Oval in Ballarat. Luka Lesosky-Hay (31 disposals), Darcy Moloney (23) and Lucy McEvoy (22) all suffered leather poisoning and showed why they were capable of playing at the top level, whilst Nekaela Butler picked up 21 disposals and had six rebounds bravely defending for the home team.

There are a sprinkling of players from that day that remain on the lists in 2021, such as AFL Women’s Academy member Ella Friend, and Chloe Leonard and Crystal Summers (GWV Rebels), and Zoe Garth, Renee Tierney, Poppy Schapp and Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong). Those players will provide great experience for their respective sides in that clash, in what is sure to feature some of the best talent in the NAB League Girls competition.

The Falcons might not have an Academy member, but have plenty of developing young players, with Dowling a presence in the back half but can play anywhere, Annie Lee beside her in defence, Keeley Hardingham controlling the ruck, and Mia Van Dyke a bottom-age prospect who will be one to watch for next year able to roll through the midfield. Geelong has always been a team flushed with depth, and 2021 appears to be the same, with no shortage of talent across all three lines.

Alongside Friend – who will be that taller marking target at half-forward – Nyakoat Dojiok is the other AFL Women’s Academy member on the Rebels’ list. The running defender could start off half-back or roam along a wing depending on the team’s needs, able to add that mix of power and acceleration to breakaway from would-be tacklers. Leonard returns to the club as a new top-ager and one who will settle down the defence, while Stephanie Glover, Lilli Condon and Summers are some of the names to watch in the match.

Geelong have had such success over the past few years, it is hard to look past them at home. The Rebels will provide a great contest, but we will find out where both these teams are at following the Round 1 encounter.

Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In the first double-header of the year, a star-studded Calder Cannons outfit hosts an ever-growing talent base in the Sandringham Dragons. The last time these two met was in 2019 back in Round 3, as the Cannons went on to make the grand final that year. They only scored two behinds in the first half and trailed by five points at the main break, before booting the last four goals of the game to win 4.8 (32) to 1.3 (9) over the Dragons at Trevor Barker Oval.

Alice Burke (St Kilda) and Sarah Hartwig (Bulldogs) were among the top players for the Dragons, whilst it was Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda) and Krstel Petrevski (Melbourne) who shone from those who have been drafted. Best on ground that day was Georgie Prespakis who lit it up with 23 disposals, three marks, eight tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The now-Cannons captain will look to have an equally big impact this year, while Emelia Yassir, Kasey Lennox, Alisa Magri, Zali Friswell and Neve Crowley are just a handful of the talented names who also played as 15/16-year-old talents on that day.

The Cannons have proven to have such great development over the past few years, and all the above names along with Mali McLeod, Peppa Poultney and Jessica Zakkour makes them a rock solid team across the board. Though their opponents are no slouches either. Back in the 2019 clash, now-captain Kiana Lynch, as well as the likes of Charli Murphy, Summer Trim, Emma Stuber, Isabella Stutt, Ebony Angelopoulos and Chloe Saultry all took to the field, so the Dragons have a core of players with plenty of experience under their belt.

Murphy will provide that marking target up forward, while Lynch will lead a host of bottom-agers with future potential. Bridie Hipwell and Sofia Hurley are just a couple of names who still have another year to go after this one, but are becoming key players in the Dragons outfit going forward. They made great strides last season and play what would be considered the benchmark team in the competition first-up here.

Calder Cannons deserve to be favourites for the overall title, so it is hard to tip against them in any game. The Dragons will be up and about and likely to be among the contenders this season too, so buckle up for an exciting contest.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
Sunday, February 7 @ 12.45pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

Wrapping up the weekend might just be the tightest of the lot, with both Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers going undefeated last year, and technically the Knights are still the reigning premiers from 2019. Both these sides had a host of players drafted in 2020, with the Knights having the first three Victorian players taken in the draft. These two sides played back in Round 2, 2019, when they played out a thrilling draw in what would be the only match where the Knights did not collect the full points that season.

Future AFL Women’s talents, Ellie McKenzie, Britney Gutknecht, Gabby Newton and Alyssa Bannan were the best for the Knights, while Mimi Hill, Joanna Lin, Alana Porter and Emily Harley all shone for the Chargers. Also playing that day was now AFL Women’s Academy member, Maykaylah Appleby who leads the Knights charge in 2021, with Teleah Smart, Mikayla Plunkett, Jessica Simpson and Tallia Pulcino among the current-listed Northern players running around that day.

Appleby is the one to watch this season, but the Knights have brought back a host of top-age players such as Plunkett, Pulcino, Maeve Chaplin, Trinity Mills and Gulia Ceravolo, so have plenty of experience to guide the next crop of Knights talents. Some names to watch this year aside from the above group with a point to prove are the likes of defender Tarrah Delgado and ruck Georgia Kitchell who showed some promising signs in the short 2020 season.

The Chargers had the likes of Taylah Morton, Kalarni Kearns, Charlie Rowbottom, Eliza James and Emma Chamberlain running around in the draw with the Knights, and have been growing some phenomenal depth of late. Rowbottom is the AFL Women’s Academy talent and if she crosses paths with Appleby, it will provide plenty of highlights. Add in the likes of top-ager Amanda Ling, middle-ager Stella Reid, and bottom-ager Rianna Thiele, and the Chargers have built an exciting list.

Another 50/50 split game that could go either way. It is hard to look past the Knights’ success rate, but what the Chargers were starting to do last year, the depth is among the best going around so Oakleigh could become the first team to knock off Northern in almost three years.

Pressure and development key for Devils in 2021

TASMANIA Devils have a key focus for the 2021 season and that is to be a team that is renowned for their pressure and intensity according to coach and talent manager Cameron Joyce. After only managing to play two games last season prior to the NAB League Girls cancellation the Devils are raring to go and have a real buzz about them.

“We certainly want to be a respected team in the competition. We certainly want to be a team that will go forward with the ball and be able to hit the scoreboard. But at the same time probably a hallmark of our game will probably be our pressure, and the way we are able to apply layers of pressure to the opposition,” Joyce said.

With the season opener around the corner, Joyce highlighted the overall level of enthusiasm amongst the group as they prepare for Round 1 on Saturday and the season as a whole.

“Yeah they’ve been super excited wanting to learn and wanting to improve and we’ve had a really good preseason and yeah just looking forward to getting into it,” he said.

“It’s been a long wait, for staff and players included in terms of the NAB League that you know there was only two games last year for the girls. It’s been a long wait and then you know obviously training in the lead up to it, but I think everyone just wants to get out there,” he said. “Hopefully we’ve done enough work to be able to produce some good football and the girls can play it, the way we want to play but everyone’s just looking forward to playing the game of footy.”

Although pre-season training was hindered due to the COVID-19 protocols – albeit not as tight as Victoria – the Devils still found a way to keep their spirits high and engage in some form of training to iron out any kinks in the armour.

“Yeah, they certainly had a little break off the back of their season at the end of last year,” Joyce said. “We probably had a good month before Christmas and then they had three weeks off and then we’ve been able to build up over the last three or four weeks.”

One of the most promising signs was the Devils ability to get out on the park and enjoy an intraclub match to test out the combinations across the ground and really solidify the unit heading into the opening round of action.

“We had a hitout out on the weekend, which was great and we had an intraclub the week before so we feel like we’re ready to go against opposition and just see where we’re at,” Joyce said.

Tasmania has an “extensive leadership group of eight players” this season showcasing the number of talented players coming through the ranks at the club with the Devils announcing their captain and vice captains in Olivia Smith, Jemma Webster and Jemma Blair respectively.

“We’ve got Jemma Webster, and Jemma Blair both our vice captain’s, Jemma Webster in the midfield, and Jemma Blair across half-back both had good preseasons and Olivia Smith our captain on the wing. “She runs all day and keeps getting the footy so she’s been going well.”

Highlighting pressure as a key focal point for the upcoming season Joyce also expressed his pleasure with the midfield highlighting the depth of the squad and most importantly touted the notion of continued development throughout the Devils unit.

“Our midfield has been has been pretty strong, which is been good so we’re certainly hoping for that just continuous improvement from those players,” Joyce said.

With a number of exciting prospects set to take the field, one name in particular that is gearing up for a big season is Perri King with the AFL Women’s Academy member a lynchpin for the side.

“She’ll (Perri King) probably play predominantly in the midfield this year, but she’ll also spend some time forward as well seeing because she is quite good above the head, in terms of marking ability and we hope she’s going to be able to hit the scoreboard as well when she’s down there, so yeah I think mainly those two roles, for Perri at this stage,” Joyce said.

Ella Maurer is another one that has been performing really well. “She’s another midfielder, she gets a lot of the ball, she’s also been a goal kicker in our games, thus far. “We’re hoping for big, big things from Ella.”

“We’ve got quite an even spread of players that are performing well. “We’ve got a couple of 20-year-old’s that have come back as overagers in Camilla Taylor and Priscila Odwogo. One is playing at one end, Camila’s playing forward at the moment and Priscilla is playing back and both of them are playing good football at the moment.”

The list of players to watch did not stop there with Joyce highlighting the likes of Amy Prokopiec, Charlie Vandenberg and Claire Ransom as some faces to look out for in the upcoming season given their skillset and ability to run all day.

Despite being in another state, travel does not seem to faze Tasmania who are more than up to the challenge given the number of players that travel from all parts of the state in order to play at the top level.

“To be honest, it takes longer in the car to drive to some of those places than it does to fly to Melbourne,” Joyce said. “It is fair to say that the 50-minute plane ride isn’t going to be too much of an issue for the girls and the staff.”

The Devils kickstart their season against Gippsland Power at Highgate Recreation Reserve from 12.30pm.

Basketballer Viney has team-first mindset

AFTER injuring herself at the start of her middle-age year, dual-sport athlete India Viney is hoping for a clean run. Not only is she hoping to have some luck in 2021, but put her best foot forward to help the Tasmania Devils pick up a few more wins than in their maiden season, regardless of the on-field role she plays.

“I’ve been playing football for three seasons now and absolutely loving it,” Viney said. “I came from basketball in the state development program and then one of the girls, Jemma Blair who’s here today actually said ‘come along let’s have a bit of a game in juniors’ and I ended up sticking it out and I’m absolutely loving it.”

Having been more than capable to play either sport, there was an intrinsic pull to the oblong-shaped ball game and Viney said the “culture” was something special amongst women’s football.

“Definitely the culture and all the girls getting around each other as it’s a fairly new sport for women, and it’s quite empowering and makes you feel very confident about yourself,” Viney said of what made her fall in love with the sport.

Her long-term goal is to “play at the highest level that I can as an individual” and said former Tasmania Devils’ star and now North Melbourne AFL Women’s midfielder, Mia King was a key inspiration through her journey.

“She (King) is one of my good friends from home, so we went to the same school, had a mutual friend and became close friends, did a few things together,” Viney said.

Being a smaller player, Viney enjoys applying pressure to the ball carrier and is willing to do whatever it takes to get her team across the line through second and third efforts.

“(My strengths are) definitely heat around the ball and I love playing that defensive role and really going all out and trying to nail down that target and just make sure that our team has possession,” Viney said. “And always just doing that density thing we do with Tassie Devils, so it’s great.”

As for her improvements, it was all about getting a clean run and then taking it one step at a time to chase the ultimate goal of following in King’s footsteps to make it to the AFL Women’s competition.

“Definitely not injuring myself at the start of the season, and just really focusing on trying to get a game and sticking out in the squad and trying in future, I’d love to play at the highest level because I love the competition that the game brings,” Viney said.

While individual aspirations are one thing, Viney’s main focus was having some success with the Devils this year in the NAB League Girls, even if she not in the team.

“I’d love the team to win, just Devils doesn’t matter if I’m playing or not,” Viney said. “Just see them get up there in the finals and come from last season as the underdogs and just really rule the competition so that would be great.”

Tasmania Devils open their season against Gippsland Power at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Saturday, February 6.

Defender Blair manages to juggle dual-sport commitments

A TALENTED dual-sport athlete, Australian rules football defender Jemma Blair knows the toll that travel takes on someone expected to hit the road multiple times a week. Having taken up the sport in the Northern Tasmania Junior Football Association (NTJFA) with East Launceston, Blair balanced her fledgling football career with a netball one that took her all across the Apple Isle.

“I’d have two or three netball games a week, and one or two football games a week, so that would probably be about five trainings a week as well,” Blair said. “On the weekend I’d always be around the state with netball and footy.”

Blair’s football journey began five years ago, and soon she moved through the pathway in the NTJFA, then joined North Launceston, and was selected for Tasmania Devils.

“This is going into my fifth year of football, so I was fortunate enough to start my second year when the junior and NTJFA started up in Launceston so I joined East Launceston Football Club,” Blair said. “Then played there for a few years, my dad ended up coaching there as well, so I was fortunate enough to have my dad there as well.

“I grew to love the game and also played a bit of netball as well, so playing side by side with those two sports. “Then last year I was fortunate enough to start with Devils, and also North Launceston Football Club in the TSL, which has unfortunately collapsed so I’ve now gone to Old Scotch this year as well.”

The travel was “quite difficult” for the teenager, with the sports often clashing, and Blair having to pick between training sessions for both sports.

“A lot of the time I had to choose between which training to go to because it did clash a bit, and both playing at state leagues as well, it was a bit of travelling as well,” Blair said. It was all across the state.”

Having tasted NAB League Girls action last year for the Devils, Blair has enjoyed running out of defence and creating plays in transition down the field.

“I like looking around the ground, getting to know the play, reading the play, just repelling the ball back into our forward line,” Blair said. “My strength is around the ball. “My composure and definitely reading the ball as well. “Definitely leadership, I love getting the voice around the girls, helping them, direct them.”

In 2021, Blair is eyeing off improving her skills and hitting targets more often, as well as becoming a more consistent mark. Her goal is to play more games and become an established player at NAB League Girls level.

“Last year we didn’t have much, it was quite a quick season with Devils, so hoping for a longer season this year and to get a few games over in Melbourne,” Blair said. “And definitely meeting new people and seeing how far I can go.”

Blair’s father has been her inspiration over the years, and the teenager considers him her idol. Looking forward, Blair is aiming to achieve everything she can in the sport and just go as far as possible.

“My dad has definitely supported me and pushed me to start football so he’s definitely my idol,” she said. “I just enjoy the sport really, so as far as I can get, to reach as far as I can go, just keep pushing and take every opportunity that I have.”

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Tasmania Devils

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at the league’s newest side, Tasmania Devils who had a tough first-up game against Oakleigh, before showing masked improvement in the Round 3 loss to Eastern Ranges.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: Bye
R2: lost to Oakleigh Chargers by 102 points
R3: lost to Eastern Ranges by 57 points

On face value the results might not look pretty, but Tasmania’s improvement from Round 2 to Round 3 was noticeable. The Devils were connecting more going forward and even managed to kick their first goal in NAB League Girls, whilst maintaining the defensive pressure. Keeping the opposition to just one goal in two of the quarters was a massive effort for the side from the Apple Isle.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Amy Prokopiec (10.0 disposals, 1.5 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 4.5 rebounds)

The sole AFL Women’s National Academy member was the standout player from the first couple of rounds, being a reliable player in defence and the sole person to average double-figure touches. Anchoring the side on the last line, Prokopiec is good one-on-one and backs herself coming out of defence, having the nine rebounds in the opening two matches. One to watch next season as a top ager.

Perri King (7.0 disposals, 4.5 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds, 1 goal)

Another middle-ager who wrote herself into the history books becoming the first ever Tasmania Devils NAB League Girls (as a full-time team) goalkicker. She converted the major with a clever snap and has been quite impressive throughout games, working hard between the arcs and setting up plays in transition.

Camilla Taylor (5.0 disposals, 10.0 hitouts, 11.0 tackles, 2.0 rebounds)

The overage ruck was a tackling machine in the opening two rounds, often tapping the ball down and immediately tackling the opposition if they tried to shark it. She provides a calming presence and great experience around the stoppages, and showed natural leadership when on the field.

Jemma Webster (8.0 disposals, 1.0 marks, 3.0 tackles, 2.0 rebounds)

Caught the eye with some of her dashes out of defence, and while she might not have won a heap of the ball, had some impressive moments. She averaged a couple of rebounds per game and was able to use her afterburners to get away from opponents, running from the back 50 into midfield. One of Tasmania’s top-age prospects.

Meghan Gaffney (8.0 disposals, 1.5 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s)

She might be smaller at 155cm, but the middle ager showed she has plenty of zip, recording the most inside 50s of any player on her team in the opening two matches. She won her fair share of the ball and would often get away from the opposition, having an impact on the contest and being one of Tasmania’s more prominent players through midfield.

Others who have stood out: Aprille Crooks, Angelica Clark, Zoe Bourne, Jemma Blair

The even spread of performers across the Tasmanian team is evident with a mixed group primarily middle or bottom agers. Clark is the sole top ager in the others who have stood out category, laying seven tackles per game. Crooks has been just as fierce around the ball carrier with eight tackles per game, while fellow middle agers, Bourne and Blair have provided good support by working hard back into defence.

Ranges grab first win in 2020 with victory over determined Devils

EASTERN Ranges shook off a determined Tasmania Devils outfit to win by 57 points at the renovated Kilsyth Recreation Reserve in Round 3 of the NAB League Girls competition. In a fiery clash with plenty of fierce tackles, the Devils were much improved on their 102-point loss to Oakleigh Chargers last week, but the Ranges had a bit too much class with the last nine goals of the game, four of which came in the final term. The Devils had much to be pleased about too, keeping the Ranges to just one goal in the first and third terms during the 10.6 (66) to 1.3 (9) loss.

The opening term was a real tussle between the sides, with Eastern having more of the ball, but Tasmania refusing to allow them easy chances. Tahlia Bortignon set the tone early with a run-down tackle on an opponent to save a certain goal, while later in the term, it was Claire Ransom who received a huge roar from the Devils’ bench for stopping an Eastern opponent in her tracks. The Ranges were not to be outdone bringing the heat in the contest, led by captain Olivia Meagher who produced a front-on bruising tackle inside her defensive 50 to worry the Devils forwards into turning it over. Both Meagher and Tarni Brown were busy in the opening term, while Jorja Livingstone was peppering the goals. She could not get one to connect through the big sticks, but Matilda Hardy did after receiving a 50m penalty and kicking it from point-blank range. The Devils levelled the score with their first ever major in the competition with a memorable snap off a step from Perri King that sailed home without the goal umpire moving. A late push in midfield prompted a downfield free for the Ranges with less than 30 seconds on the clock, but the ball fell short and rushed through for a behind – the exact lead the home team held at quarter time. While Brown, Meagher and Livingstone were busy, so too was Bridget Deed who had a game-high nine disposals in the first quarter working hard around the ground. King and Meghan Gaffney shared the load for Tasmania with four disposals each in a real team effort.

Eastern Ranges found some better entries inside 50 in the second term, making it difficult for Tasmania to defend. Saskia Nannes had an unbelievable chance from deep in the pocket with her end-over-end snap bouncing over the one-on-one contest in the goalsquare but it kept bouncing out of bounds. Moments later a nice snap off the right from Kate Ridley gave the Ranges a relieving goal early in the term. Meagher continued to set the tone with a huge bump on Ella Maurer to help her teammate win the ball and deliver to Jess Grace who marked and converted the set shot straight after. Jemma Blair took a strong intercept grab as the danger signs from the week before were starting to show, but the defensive pressure of the Devils was still there with King having multiple defensive efforts at a stoppage to exemplify the work. A big clunk from Eloise Chaston and then a great set kick straight to Hardy who put through her second of the afternoon and all of a sudden the margin was out to 19 midway through the term. Brown was breaking the game open with her burst from a stoppage, and really creating scoring opportunities for her forwards. Isabelle Pollock had a running chance on goal by shrugging off a would-be tackler but pushed it wide at full speed. Just as it looked like the teams would head into the break with a 20-point differential, a density free kick in the dying seconds – which had a 50m penalty associated with it – handed Cassy Wilsmore a goal from the set shot and made the half-time margin 27 points.

A terrific blind-side run-down tackle from Kiara Mills set up Tasmania with an early chance, but it was smothered off the mark and cleared by the Ranges. Meagher was starting to get on the end of some fierce tackles herself, but the captain kept bouncing up and earned a free kick for her troubles early in the term. The Ranges were able to lock the ball in their forward half for a stoppage and the roving Isabelle Khoury pounced with a great clean take at speed to snap and put it through for the home team’s first of the half. A good piece of play down the wing for the Devils midway through the term led to another opportunity but the set shot from Amy Bissett went to the right. Angelica Clark had a nice piece of play through the midfield to burst away and kick deep but it went past the one-on-one and went over the line. The Devils were able to nullify the scoring however, and gain some serious territory locking it inside 50. The siren sounded with a bit of heat in the game as both sides were told to separate by the umpires going into the final break. Eastern had a commanding 32-point lead, but Tasmania had restricted them to just one goal in a much-improved defensive effort.

Tasmania’s momentum from late in the third term continued with the first inside 50 of the final term and the Devils managed to score an early behind to show they were not going to fade away. A terrific tackle from Gaffney at half-forward off the kick out signalled their intentions to keep the pressure gauge at extreme, but the Ranges were equally up for the challenge. A strong intercept mark on the last line by Deed stopped a likely goal playing at full-back, as the likes of Bissett kept attacking the forward 50. In their first meaningful entry for the term, a series of handballs ended up with Pollock who had a chance but missed to the left on the run. Moments later though, Khoury capitalised with a terrific snap around her body for her second almost identical to her third term major. For some icing on the cake, Nannes roved the pack well and converted a major running into goal, with Khoury giving the home fans an extra reason to cheer with her own running goal – her second of the term and third of the match – shortly after and the Ranges were now running away with the contest. As if fitting, Brown would finish off the huge last quarter with a towering contest mark and goal to cap off a best on ground performance. With the four-goal final term, the Ranges had blown out the margin from 32 points to 57 to register a win and bounce back from the disappointing Round 1 loss.

EASTERN RANGES 1.2 | 5.4 | 6.4 | 10.6 (66)
TASMANIA DEVILS 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 (9)

GOALS:

Eastern: I. Khoury 3, M. Hardy 2, T. Brown, C. Wilsmore, K. Ridley, S, Nannes, J. Grace.
Tasmania: P. King.

ADC BEST:

Eastern: T. Brown, O. Meagher, I. Khoury, M. Hardy, B. Deed, J. Livingstone
Tasmania: P. King, M. Gaffney, J. Webster, A. Crooks, C.Lovell, J. Blair

DC Medal:

5 – Tarni Brown (ER)
4 – Olivia Meagher (ER)
3 – Isabella Khoury (ER)
2 – Matilda Hardy (ER)
1 – Perri King (TD)