Tag: jessie williams

AFLW Expansion look: Hawthorn

WITH four new teams accepted into the AFL Women’s competition, it means there will be at least 120 new players stepping up to the elite level. So just where might the clubs look outside the junior pathway? Draft Central casts an eye over each of the clubs through either their state league team or Academy that might help them get off to the best possible start.

Whilst the makeup of lists and how much compensation the expansion clubs will get is unknown, we take a look at it from a broader sense and who might be some names to remember. The series continues with Hawthorn, a side that was highly competitive in the VFLW and have already announced the return of AFLW premiership coach Bec Goddard as the one to lead the brown and gold into the 2022-23.

Hawthorn has long being an ultra-competitive neutral VFLW team, able to bring in ex-AFLW talent that help develop the younger core around it. In 2021, Tamara Luke was a huge influence in the ruck since coming from the Saints, alongside Alison Drennan, whilst ex-Magpies Kristy Stratton and ex-Roo Katelyn Cox also stepped up to suggest the Hawks could pre-list quite a bit of experienced talent ahead of the season.

Firepower up forward is never an issue for the brown and gold, able to get Cats key forward Phoebe McWilliams back for a couple of games at the end of the season, whilst Georgia Bevan continued her playing stint under Goddard. Jess Trend unfortunately tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in Round 1, but a full season behind her in 2022 – depending on VFLW dates – and she could be an immediate inclusion.

From a VFLW perspective, Jenna Richardson, Olivia Flanagan and Jessie Williams are names that would have to be considered to make the jump as they cover each respective third of the ground in defence, midfield and attack. Catherine Brown produced a consistent season in her nine games, while Dominique Carbone keeps getting better with more senior football, and Maddi Shaw is another natural leader who has been a rock in defence when running around.

From a top-age perspective missing out this year, Grace McRae showed she can match it with experienced players and held her own in the midfield, with fellow Ranges, Jess Grace and Matilda Hardy joining Vic Metro representatives Bridget Deed and Cadhla Schmidli as others who have tested themselves at senior level.

It would be a surprise not to see Goddard use her South Australian contacts and premiership experience not to ask the question to some Crows or top-line SANFL Women’s talents who are willing to relocate, with the power of working under someone with Goddard’s experience the pulling power for the brown and gold.

Overall the Hawks should not have any troubles building a competitive list, with plenty of ex-AFLW talent running around in the brown and gold, and with links to Eastern Ranges, the Hawks could add some eye-catching talent to the experienced core to be up and running almost immediately for the 2022-23 season.

2021 VFLW team review: Hawthorn

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Hawthorn.

Position: 9th
Wins: 5
Losses: 9
Draws: 0
Percentage: 94.2%

Season in a Sentence: “Hawthorn provided competitiveness throughout the year, with a high percentage for a 5-9 team, the highest of the non-finalists, with plenty of impressive performers in the brown and gold.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Meg Hutchins

Leading from the front in what would be her final season at VFLW level after a glittering career, Hutchins passed 250 senior games and was reliable up both ends throughout the 2021 year. Predominantly stationed in defence, her sure hands and leadership were crucial for the Hawks who witnessed a lot of change throughout the season with more than 50 players donning the brown and gold. Hutchins averaged 15.8 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.2 tackles and 5.1 rebound 50s, whilst also slotting four goals in her 13 games.

Jessie Williams

Another Tasmanian prospect in the VFLW who has really impressed is Williams, who led the Hawks’ goalkicking in 2021 with 11 majors in 14 games. Not missing a beat all season, Williams was damaging in the forward half, averaging more than two inside 50s per game to go with her 11 disposals and two marks per match. Remarkably was the only player to run out in every game.

Jenna Richardson

As reliable as they came in defence, Richardson is a developing talent who has stepped up at senior level. She averaged 11.5 disposals, 3.4 marks, 2.1 tackles and 2.1 rebound 50s to be a mainstay in the back 50 alongside Hutchins and some high profile names. The former Eastern Ranges talent is staking her claim to step up to the next level with a similar path to that of recently drafted Jasmine Ferguson.

Catherine Brown

Only played the nine games, but had an impact across the ground, averaging 17.0 disposal, 5.6 tackles, 4.0 rebound 50s and 2.1 inside 50s to be a prolific ball-winner. She averaged the most disposals of any player in her team with more than one game to their name, and provided some good run across the ground.

AFLW TALENT:

The Hawks were brimming with AFLW talent both currently on lists, but also primarily cut and looking for second chances. Phoebe McWilliams (two games) and Mikayla Morrison (four games) were the ones who retained her spot for next season, with the likes of retiring Chantella Perera (four games) returning to the club, Katelyn Cox returned after her stint with North Melbourne to be another important cog in the midfield, as did Gold Coast’s Georgia Bevan, whilst Tamara Luke, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch all came across from the Southern Saints, and Kristy Stratton from Collingwood.

OTHERS:

The Hawks rotated through a lot of players in season 2021, with Keeley Sherar (Carlton), Eloise Chaston (Collingwood) and Ashanti Bush (Gold Coast) all getting picked up. Kristen Hay, Emily Gilder, Dominique Carbone, Chloe Bain and Kate Dudley were the other players to run out in 10 or more games, providing some continuity for the side. Some young Vic Metro and Country talent that donned the brown and gold included Grace McRae (Gippsland Power), Bridget Deed and Cadhla Schmidli (Eastern Ranges).

2021 VFLW Round 14 wrap: Saints clinch finals spot as Hawks end on high for Meg’s final game

IT went right down to the final day of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season, but the Southern Saints clinched the sixth spot in the finals series after winning against North Melbourne, grabbing back their place which was temporarily lost after the Western Bulldogs upset Casey Demons on Saturday. Geelong almost slipped up a double chance when it lost to Collingwood, but the Hawks came to the rescue to send off veteran and football legend Meg Hutchins in style, defeating third placed Port Melbourne in a huge result.

DAREBIN 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.2 (2)
ESSENDON 3.3 | 5.3 | 7.9 | 7.10 (52)

Essendon finished its regular season off on a high, running away with a 50-point victory over wooden spooners Darebin. Despite the Falcons restricting the inaccurate Bombers to only the two goals in the second half, Essendon proved too strong overall, claiming a big 7.10 (52) to 0.2 (2) win at Bill Lawry Oval. Jessie Davies slotted three goals from seven disposals, whilst the midfield of the bombers dominated with 12 more clearances. Lead by Georgia Nanscawen (23 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles and four inside 50s), second gamer and potential top AFLW Draft selection Georgie Prespakis (24 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles and three inside 50s) and the reliable Alana Barba (23 disposals, six clearances, 11 tackles and three inside 50s), Essendon proved too strong for their opponent. Bombers debutant Tahlia Gillard also looked comfortable with nine disposals, two marks and 13 hitouts, whilst Calder teammate Emelia Yassir was amongst the best with 18 touches, four inside 50s  and three tackles. For the Falcons, Alyssa Mifsud had 15 touches, seven clearances, six hitouts and four rebound 50s in a huge effort, whilst Kathleen Roe and Nicole Callinan (both 12 disposals, five tackles and three rebound 50s) were strong in defence. Sidney Cubasch (32 hitouts, four tackles and eight disposals) was busy in the ruck.

GOALS:

Darebin: Nil.
Essendon: J. Davies 3, M. Clifford, G. Nanscawen, T. Crook, S. Nalder.

BEST:

Darebin: K. Roe, S. Cubasch, K. Hazlett, S. David, S. Padovano, E. Buckley
Essendon: A. Barba, E. Yassir, T. Gillard, G. Prespakis, S. Nalder, C. Ugle

COLLINGWOOD 0.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.5 (23)
GEELONG 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.4 (4)

Collingwood completed an undefeated season in the VFL Women’s competition, knocking off second placed Geelong by 19 points at Victoria Park in a curtain raiser to this weekend’s qualifying final. The Magpies won off the back of staunch defence, restricting the Cats to just four behinds for the game, whilst kicking three majors from eight scoring chances themselves. Mikala Cann was a clear best on ground performer, putting up 30 disposals, eight clearances, 11 tackles, five inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal in the win. Matilda Zander (20 disposals, six tackles, three marks and five rebound 50s), Georgia Ricardo (16 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and a goal), Ebony O’Dea (15 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and two clearances) and youngster Eliza James (13 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three inside 50s, two clearances and a goal) all impressed in the win. Olivia Fuller was named best-on for the Cats in her role through the ruck with 12 disposals, 27 hitouts, six tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s. Sophie Van De Heuvel (18 disposals, four tackles, six clearances and seven inside 50s), Renee Garing (19 disposals, 12 tackles) and Paige Sheppard (15 disposals, six marks, seven tackles and three clearances) all impressed as well, with Maddie Boyd trying hard on her way to 11 touches, three marks, five hitouts, five tackles and four rebound 50s.

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Cann, E. James, G. Ricardo.
Geelong: Nil.

BEST:

Collingwood: I. Purcell, A. Newman, E. James, M. Zander, M. Cann, E. O’Dea
Geelong: O. Fuller, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Boyd, P. Sheppard, R. Garing, C. Leonard

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.2 | 3.6 | 3.9 | 5.10 (40)
CASEY DEMONS 0.1 | 3.1 | 4.1 | 4.4 (28)

Whilst in hindsight the win was not enough for the Western Bulldogs to secure a finals spot, they did end their season on a high with a two-goal win over Casey Demons. The Bulldogs had a fight on their hands for the most part, with inaccuracy again plaguing the home team, but two last quarter goals saw them kick away and grab the 5.10 (40) to 4.4 (28) victory. Elisabeth Georgostathis was best-on with 24 disposals, nine clearances, five marks, five tackles and six inside 50s, whilst Britney Gutknecht had the 25 touches, five tackles, two clearances, two marks and three rebound 50s, and Gemma Lagioia booted two goals from 20 touches and four inside 50s. Danielle Marshall (18 disposals, four marks and five rebound 50s) and Brooke Hards (seven disposals, six tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds) teamed up well in defence, and Nicole McMahon (12 disposals, two marks, 25 hitouts, three clearances and three rebound 50s) covered the field well. Eliza West topped the Demons’ disposal count with 24 touches, nine tackles, six clearances, four inside 50s and two rebounds, whilst Nicole Hales (20 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Alison Brown (20 disposals, six rebound 50s) were both impressive in defence. up the other end, Casey Sherriff had 19 touches, eight marks, six inside 50s and a goal, whilst Jacqueline Parry snagged two goals from 17 touches and five marks.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: G. Lagioia 2, S. Ruedin, M. Sandral, T. Skenderis.
Casey Demons: J. Parry 2, C. Sherriff, A. Bannan.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, G. Lagioia, N. McMahon, D. Marshall, T. Skenderis, T. Meier
Casey Demons: C. Sherriff, N. Hales, S. Heath, E. West, G. Matser, E. Horne

HAWTHORN 1.1 | 2.2 | 6.4 | 8.4 (52)
PORT MELBOURNE 3.0 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 6.8 (44)

In one of the upsets of the season and a phenomenal performance from Hawthorn, the Hawks stepped up in Hutchins’ last game to secure a memorable eight-point victory over the third placed Port Melbourne. The stakes could not have been higher for the Borough with a double-chance on the line, but Hawthorn brought its A-game to the match and booted six goals to two in the second half to run over the visitors at Box Hill and claim an 8.4 (52) to 6.8 (44) win. Jessie Williams was the key player up forward, slotting three goals from 12 disposals, two marks and three inside 50s. Tamara Luke had 20 touches, 33 hitouts, nine clearances, six marks, five tackles, two inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal in a huge all-round effort, with Hutchins named best on in her final game thanks to 12 disposals, two marks and a goal. Grace McRae (13 disposals, five clearances and six tackles) and Isabelle Khoury (nine disposals, six clearances, seven tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) were among the youngsters who stepped up and had an impact around the stoppages. For the Borough, Aurora Smith made her debut and had the nine disposals, two clearances, three inside 50s and three tackles, whilst fellow NAB League Girls talents Amanda Ling (11 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and four inside 50s) and Brooke Vickers (15 disposals, two tackles and two rebound 50s) were also impressive. Sophie Locke slotted two goals from 13 touches, as Cleo Saxon-Jones impressed in defence with five rebound 50s from 11 touches.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: J. Williams 3, I. Khoury, D. Carbone, M. Hutchins, T. Luke, S. Perkins.
Port Melbourne: S. Locke 2, C. Dyett, E. Harley, M. Kuys, A. Edmonds.

BEST:

Hawthorn: M. Hutchins, K. Sherar, I. Khoury, J. Williams, J. Richardson, T. Luke
Port Melbourne: A. Ling, C. Dyett, E. Harley, A. Edmonds, O. Barton, L. McClelland

SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.9 | 8.12 (60)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 3.3 | 3.3 | 3.4 (22)

After a tight first half, Southern Saints kicked away to defeat North Melbourne by 38 points and book a VFL Women’s finals spot. The Saints lead by just a point at quarter time, but 5.8 to 0.1 after the main break – including four goals in the final term – resulted in the home team celebrating with an 8.12 (60) to 3.4 (22) win and securing sixth place on the table. Tara Bohanna slotted three goals from 25 disposals, eight marks, seven hitouts and three inside 50s, teaming up well with the dangerous Gabi De Angelis (24 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, eight inside 50s and two goals) for the bulk of the scoring. Tyanna Smith (23 disposals, six marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) and Hannah Stewart (22 disposals, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s) were also busy, as Rebecca Neaves and Francesca Hocking both had 12 disposals and combined for nine rebound 50s. Capping off a simply remarkable season, North skipper Meagan Kiely might have saved her best to last. Racking up 36 disposals, 11 marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and six rebounds, Kiely was simply unstoppable around the ground. She teamed up well with Airlie Runnalls (33 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, four tackles, five inside 50s and a goal), whilst Sarah Skinner also slotted two goals returning to the team, along with 17 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s. Jess Mourney was steadfast in defence with 17 touches, six marks and four rebound 50s.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 3, G. De Angelis 2, A. Peck, J. Matin, T. Kearns
North Melbourne: S. Skinner 2, A. Runnalls

BEST:

Southern Saints: T. Smith, H. Stuart, G. De Angelis, T. Kearns, R. Neaves, T. Bohanna
North Melbourne: A. Runnalls, M. Kiely, J. Mourney, S. Skinner, R. Hicks, A. Hamilton

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.0 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
CARLTON 2.1 | 4.2 | 6.5 | 6.7 (43)
Carlton has capped off its VFL Women’s season with a win, securing seventh place on the final ladder. Whilst it was four points out of the top six, the Blues showed they could compete with the best teams at times, and were able to account for Williamstown by 27 points. Only leading by seven points at the first break, the Blues kicked four goals to one after quarter time to win, 6.7 (43) to 2.4 (16). Jennifer Lew finished with 20 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four inside 50s and a goal in a best on ground performances, whilst the likes of Akayla Peterson (17 disposals, three marks, six tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s) and Jorja Borg (13 disposals, 39 hitouts, four tackles) were also impressive. Olivia Madden slotted two goals in the victory, whilst young talent Maeve Chaplin was also named in the Blues’ best. Ashlea Melnikas had 24 disposals, five clearances, eight tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds, sharing the high disposals with Ruby Tripodi (23 disposals, five clearances and five tackles) and Aimee Whelan (21 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles and four rebound 50s. Erin Meade was once against a standout thanks to her 21 disposals, seven clearances and four rebound 50s, whilst Megan Williamson had 10 tackles and five clearances from nine disposals.
GOALS:
Williamstown: E. Meade, C. Leighton.
Carlton: O. Madden 2, S. Lawrence 2, C. Hammans, J. Lew.
BEST:
Williamstown: R. Tripodi, E. Straford, E. Meade, E. Baxter, P. Nash, A. Whelan
Carlton: J. Lew, A. Peterson, J. Borg, A. Klingbeil, O. Madden, M. Chaplin

2021 VFLW Round 12 preview: Finals on the line for several sides

THREE rounds remain and some results could ultimately determine finals spots, with last chances in play for a couple of teams, and a top against bottom clash featuring this weekend in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

ESSENDON vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 22 @ 10:00am
Windy Hill

Potential top pick Georgie Prespakis has been named for Essendon in a game where the Bombers can lock up a finals spot, and snuff out North Melbourne’s chances at the same time. The Roos will make history with a record 11 Tasmanians in the side, and a debutant in fellow AFL Women’s Academy Perri King making her debut at VFLW level against Prespakis. Joining King in the side for their second games are Ella Maurer and Jemma Blair at opposite ends, whilst fellow Tasmanians, Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely make it a distinct Apple Isle feeling through the middle. They will have a huge job containing the midfield combination of Prespakis, Georgia Nanscawen, Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper of whom the latter trio have been in great form at the level. The forward line of Daria Bannister, Meg Sinclair, Camilla Taylor and Mia King adds to the Roos’ Tasmanian presence, with Calder’s Kasey Lennox, as well as Zali Friswell and Emelia Yassir up the other end among the talented juniors running around in the red sash.

CASEY DEMONS vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 22 @ 10:30am
Casey Fields

Fresh off a best on ground performance in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, Amanda Ling will run out for Port Melbourne in the Borough’s clash with fellow finals-bound side, Casey Demons. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder will join AFL Women’s talents Katherine Smith and Kodi Jacques, and past AFL Women’s talent Mel Kuys in the midfield, up against an equally stacked onball brigade of AFL Women’s midfielders Megan Fitzsimon and Casey Sherriff, and ball-winning star Eliza West. The Borough have other youngsters including Oakleigh Chargers’ Taylah Morton and ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke in the forward pockets, whilst the Demons have a stacked outfit including AFL Women’s stars Eden Zanker and Libby Birch, and young guns Brenna Tarrant and Eliza McNamara. Potentially the match of the round, both these sides are coming off disappointing losses, and both will be keen to make amends against quality opposition.

CARLTON vs. GEELONG
Saturday, May 22 @ 11:00am
Ikon Park

Following an upset win over Casey Demons, Carlton return home to Ikon Park against a Geelong side that cashed in its get out of jail free card in the final term last week. The Cats were in real danger against the Southern Saints, but managed to step up with four late goals to get over the line in fantastic style and remain in the top two. This week they take on a Carlton side that is as strong as it has been all season, featuring a core midfield of Lucy McEvoy, Abbie McKay and Grace Egan, as well as Maddy Guerin and Daisy Walker. Northern Knights’ full-back Tarrah Delgado will make her VFL Women’s debut with the Blues, joining teammate Maeve Chaplin in the side, in what will give the consistent talents a good run at state league level. For the Cats, the AFL Women’s midfield of Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Sophie Van De Heuvel is unbelievable, while Olivia Barber has built some great form this season, and the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard are also playing well at the level. Expect Geelong to really step up here, but the Carlton midfield is just as good making there plenty of terrific head-to-heads to watch.

DAREBIN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 22 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

A top against bottom clash featuring Darebin Falcons and Collingwood at Bill Lawry Oval has the potential to be one-sided, but the Falcons will be hoping that a draw against Williamstown has helped build some momentum into the game. Collingwood are rotating through their AFL Women’s talent, and Chloe Molloy, Elise O’Dea and Stacey Livingstone both play their first VFLW games this season, whilst Jaimee Lambert is back for her second game of the year. The Magpies team looks stacked and should be too strong for a Falcons outfit, though Georgia Hammond comes back into the club as the tall target up forward, forming with Samara David, Stephanie Simpson and teenager Trinity Mills. Jess Dal Pos is the prime mover in midfield and could have a tantalising head-to-head with Molloy in there, while Sidney Cubasch will look to take control in the ruck. The Falcons have some good experience in there including Nicole Callinan, but expect the Magpies to have too much depth across the field.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 23 @ 11:00am
Downer Oval

In the first of two matches on Sunday, Williamstown hosts Hawthorn in a huge Sunday morning clash at Downer Oval. The Seagulls are coming off a draw with Darebin, whilst the Hawks had their wings clipped by North Melbourne at Box Hill last week. Coach Bec Goddard just keeps finding AFLW talent to slot into the lineup, and this week Sarah Perkins returns to the club having missed the second half of the AFLW season due to injury. The key forward will team up with Chantella Perera and Kristy Stratton, whilst Jessie Williams has been a damaging goalkicker all season. In defence, Meg Hutchins announced she would hang up the boots at the end of the season, meaning the versatile legend will likely have just three games remaining in her career. Alison Drennan, Georgia Bevan and Nadia von Bertouch are among the other AFLW experienced talents running around in the brown and gold, while Eastern Ranges’ Keeley Sherar, Bridget Deed and Eloise Chaston retain their spots in the side. The Seagulls have some GWS GIANTS talents such as Emily Pease and Lisa Steane, whilst Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle will look to hit the scoreboard alongside Gold Coast’s Bess Keaney up forward. Erin Meade and Aimee Whelan are in good form this year, with Elizabeth McGrath set to have a great contest with opposing ruck Tamara Luke. Hawthorn should win this game, but no doubt the Williamstown breeze will make life difficult in front of the big sticks.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, May 23 @ 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Oval

The final match of the round is the most important for the league as a whole, with the result potentially determining the finals series. Southern Saints hold sixth spot as it stands, but are only percentage ahead of the seventh placed Western Bulldogs. In reality, that percentage will be too difficult to make up for the Bulldogs or other chasing sides, so as long as the Saints win two of the last three – playing North Melbourne and Carlton in the final two rounds – they will get there. The Bulldogs can temporarily grab sixth spot with a win here, though they would need to knock off Casey Demons and Collingwood in the final fortnight – or hope the Saints lose to one of the other teams – in order to stay there. The Saints are not mucking around with a number of elite young talents through the midfield including Tyanna Smith and Georgia Patrikios – the latter of whom returns for her first VFLW game this season. Molly McDonald has been named off half-back, whilst Tarni White makes her VFLW debut for the Saints. All things considered the midfield battle will decide the result, with the Bulldogs having Jess Fitzgerald, Britney Gutknecht, Isabelle Pritchard and Elisabeth Georgostathis running around. Molly Denahy Maloney returns from injury to start in the ruck, whilst full-back Simone Ruedin has been named at full-forward, and forward Danielle Marshall has been named at full-back. Western Jets quartet Caitlin Sargent, Jemima Woods, Stephanie Asciak and Nikita Wright will provide the NAB League Girls factor, with the Saints focusing on VFLW talent for this game, such as the in-form Tara Bohanna, whilst Jayde Van Dyk makes her debut in defence for the red, white and black. This game could go down to the wire, and will have plenty riding on it.

2021 Ones to Watch: VFLW-listed talents impressing

TEAMS have entered the final month of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season and NAB League Girls and AFL Women’s players are now regularly filtering through teams. With the AFL Women’s Draft always a talking point, it is worth remembering some of the VFL Women’s listed players who have held their spots and had really promising seasons. Whilst the below does not include everyone, there are a few names from each team named to keep an eye on.

COLLINGWOOD:

The Magpies have no shortage of VFL Women’s listed talent to keep an eye on. Imogen Barnett has been a powerful force up forward, slotting 11 goals in nine games and not only averaging the three marks, but the 2.7 tackles per match as well. In defence, Jasmine Ferguson is having a terrific season playing on some quality forwards, having really developed each season since her initial days with Gippsland Power. Marla Neal through the midfield has had a purple patch and is as hard as they come, whilst midfielder/forward Matilda Zander has kicked the seven goals and provide the speed and defensive pressure that could see former Norwood mentor Steve Symonds opt for the talented small.

GEELONG:

The Cats’ AFL Women’s talent has certainly been a driving force through the midfield this year, but a couple of hard-at-it midfielders in Paige Sheppard (20.2 disposals, 6.0 tackles) and Tamara Smith (17.5 disposals, 10.8 tackles) are doing their chances no harm with great in-and-under work and spreading to the outside. Claudia Gunjaca is another one who has really caught the eye this season, whilst defender Breanna Pratt has been amongst the best VFL-listed talents for the Cats.

PORT MELBOURNE:

Ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke has developed into an exciting forward who has an eye for goals and would be one that needs to be in consideration to step up, whilst injury replacement player Hannah McLaren continues to be a standout ball-winner at VFL Women’s level. Add in ex-Richmond forwards Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones who are searching for new contracts, and the Borough have some talents with experience that could step up and earn new contracts with other clubs.

CASEY DEMONS:

Eliza West has enjoyed an incredible season with the Demons and is a readymade talent if given the chance to step up. Grace Buchan has not missed a beat since crossing from the Magpies and has been reliable ball user in the back half, whilst Imogen Milford has been the dominant goalkicker this year. Emma Humphries has the AFL Women’s experience in the past to slot straight into a contender if required.

ESSENDON:

Georgia Nanscawen should be the top pick when it comes to selecting mature-age talent out of the VFL Women’s, as a genuine best 21 player at AFL Women’s level when fit. She is averaging 23 touches and almost 10 tackles, including a game where she was injured early. Fellow midfielder, Alana Barba remains on the radar for her attack on the contest and around the ground, whilst Courtney Ugle and Eloise Gardner are among a host of Bombers players that have traits which could be utilised at the next level.

SOUTHERN SAINTS:

A tall versatile option, Tara Bohanna has been a reliable source of goals for the Saints, able to roll through the ruck as well as provide strength in the air and on the ground for 16.2 disposals, 4.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 7.4 hitouts and more than a goal a game. A mature-age midfielder Hannah Stuart is one for the immediate-impact group, averaging almost 18 touches and six tackles as a tough inside ball-winner, whilst Gabbi De Angelis has always had some special traits since coming through the Eastern Ranges, and Valerie Moreau is one of a number of Saints enjoying good seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

The AFL Women’s contingent has definitely bolstered the Western Bulldogs’ squad, but in terms of mainstays only two players have played every game. Brooke Hards has been utilised in a multitude of positions and settled at half-back of late whilst rotating through the midfield, possessing great pace and game-breaking ability across the ground. Simone Ruedin is as reliable as they come, and if a club was locking for a rock-solid defender, there have been few better this season. Ruck/forward Molly Denahy Maloney has some eye-catching traits that might catch the eye, whilst Katelyn Betts has shown versatility and hardness around the ball.

HAWTHORN:

The Hawks have a plethora of recently delisted AFL Women’s players that could slot all over this list, with Tamara Luke, Alison Drennan, Kristy Stratton and Georgia Bevan among the long list of talents with prior AFLW-experience. From a VFLW-listed perspective, Jessie Williams‘ development up forward with seven goals in 10 games, as well as young gun and speedster Dominique Carbone and consistent talented midfield Olivia Flanagan among those with some exciting traits to keep an eye off.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

North Melbourne has promoted quite a lot of its VFL Women’s talent this year, with Meagan Kiely and ex-Darebin talent Molly Eastman among the names that the club, or other clubs might consider for the pure ball-winning consistency. Perhaps the most damaging one could be forward-cum-midfielder Sarah Skinner who not only can wreak havoc inside 50, but go inside and find a truckload of the ball as well. Alexia Hamilton is an ex-Sun who has been reliable in the ruck and as a forward target who might earn a call-up.

CARLTON:

Akayla Peterson has been a standout this year, able to play in a multitude of roles, booting five goals playing up forward and in defence, and being able to slot in anywhere. Jorja Borg has been a dominant ruck through that role, while defender Ally Bild is only about to turn 22-years-old and has made strides since crossing from the Magpies. She only played the four games this season, but Jennifer Lew‘s impact in defence was noticeable for the Navy Blues, averaging 18.5 disposals and 5.3 marks in that time.

WILLIAMSTOWN:

The Seagulls might not have had a lot of AFL Women’s experience prior to the GWS GIANTS joining forces, but have had some reliable ball-winners. Megan Williamson is a player who could step up as a readymade inside midfielder, while it is hard to look past the influence that Erin Meade or Aimee Whelan can have on a game, whilst Elizabeth McGrath had almost 60 hitouts recently against one of the premier rucks in the competition.

DAREBIN FALCONS:

Gena Lawson-Tavan has been a rock in defence for the Falcons this season playing every game alongside Samara David who has been one of the premier markers of the competition, also booting five goals in 10 games. Sidney Cubasch has been a reliable ruck option each week she has played, while Victoria Blackwood is still young and developing – only turned 21 in December last year – and really stepped up this season.

2021 VFLW Round 9 preview: Youngsters set for debut as AFLW talent filters back

SEVERAL NAB League Girls players make their Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s debuts in Round 9, as more AFL Women’s talents filter back to the state league competition.

ESSENDON vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

In the opening game of the round, Essendon and Carlton clash at Windy Hill in a weekend that will see plenty of opportunities for the rivals to go head-to-head. Ruby Svarc is a crucial in for the Bombers returning after spending her season in Queensland with the Brisbane Lions, and she could well be given the job on Grace Egan who makes her return to state level for the Blues. Searching for a win against a pretty impressive Bombers outfit this season, Carlton has also added Abbie McKay to the side, with the likes of Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans steady in the defence. Georgia Nanscawen has overcome the injury that kept her out for the past couple of weeks, whilst Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell is back for another week, with Pioneers teammate Jemma Finning named as an emergency and expected to make a VFLW debut in the coming weeks. The Bombers will be favoured in this clash with the return of Nanscawen and playing at home.

DAREBIN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 1 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder clash at midday, with the one-win Darebin team taking on a Port Melbourne side coming off its first loss to Casey Demons last week. After gaining Jess Dal Pos back from AFL Women’s last week, the Falcons will be keen to give it all they have against a pretty strong Borough outfit. Nicole Callinan has been an important inclusion for Darebin this season, with Stephanie Simpson and Samara David targets up forward. The Borough just have so much depth, and an incredible forward line led by key targets, Sabrina Frederick and Emily Harley, and reliable source of goals from Sophie Locke. Sophie Molan has returned to state level for the visitors, with GWS GIANTS’ Katherine Smith also set to make her debut for Port Melbourne, in a team that has some how found a way to get stronger. Given the inclusions for the Borough, it is hard to see them dropping this game, but it will be a great test for the Falcons.

GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 1 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

In the longest road trip of the season for the Western Bulldogs, the back-to-back winners take on an in-form Geelong outfit who remain in contention for a top two spot in this season. Since the AFL Women’s season has concluded, the Western Bulldogs have not mucked around with rotating their elite talents, and whilst Elisabeth Georgostathis rotates out of the side this week, the visitors will welcome back Isabella Grant, Isabelle Pritchard and Annabel Strahan, while Jess Fitzgerald has cheekily been named as an emergency so could well be coming into the side soon. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods comes back into the team after her three-goal debut a fortnight ago, and she will be joined by Caitlin Sargent (four goals in NAB League last week) and Trinity Skenderis. The Cats have kept a strong midfield, but have brought in Amy McDonald, whilst giving Sophie Van de Heuvel a rest. Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner still form a dominant group in there, and with Stephanie Williams, Georgia Clarke and the return of Richelle Cranston up forward, the Cats have plenty of firepower. This is a really tight game, and Geelong should be favourites, but the strength of the Bulldogs team means the visitors could cause an upset and make it three wins on the trot.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

Casey Demons showed what they are capable of last week by rolling Port Melbourne to inflict the Borough’s first defeat of the season, whilst North Melbourne dominated Carlton, keeping the Blues to just one goal for the game. With the teams coming into good form, on paper it looks to be a great match but the Demons have really stacked their side with AFL Women’s talent, as Libby Birch, Brenna Tarrant and Shelley Heath are named in defence, Eden Zanker joined Maddison Gay in the midfield, and Alyssa Bannan and Casey Sherriff are up forward. The Roos have mostly kept a consistent lineup of players on the cusp of AFLW footy, though Beth Lynch is an important cog in defence. Bella Eddey is getting some extra minutes running around for the VFLW team, whilst Jayde Hamilton returns from the AFLW Under 19 Championships to play alongside sister Alexia. If North Melbourne can get up in this one it will be the Roos’ best scalp of the season, but with Essendon sniffing around Casey’s recently acquired fourth spot, the Demons must hold onto the place by winning this one.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Downer Oval

Williamstown is the next challenger up to try and knock off Collingwood as the undefeated Magpies rose in the final term to see off Essendon and grab another win in Round 8. The Magpies have plenty of reasons to get up in this game, with 2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid behind the helm of the 2019 wooden spooners side this season. She will have her work cut out for her against a red-hot Magpies lineup, which features both Amelia Velardo and Aliesha Newman who copped knocks last week but have recovered to play. Abbi Moloney returns to the side with Joanna Lin, Maddi Shevlin and Imogen Purcell among the other Collingwood AFLW talents outside the two key forwards in Sophie Alexander and Bella Smith. The Seagulls have some terrific VFLW talent, with Erin Meade, Megan Williamson, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players in the competition, but it will be whether or not they can make the most of their chances as the Pies will give their forwards plenty, particularly after the form of Marla Neal last week who shone in the win at The Hangar. Hard to see the Pies dropping this one, though the Seagulls are strong defensively and will not make it easy for them.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 2 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

The standalone Sunday fixture pits the sixth placed Southern Saints in a must-win fixture against Hawthorn who got up in Meg Hutchins‘ 250th match last week. The Saints cling onto the lowest finals spot – albeit with plenty of time left in the season – and will need to win this one to give themselves some security there. However the Hawks have some tall targets in Hutchins and Tamara Luke up forward, with the dangerous Kristy Stratton and Jessie Williams capable of kicking multiple goals. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae makes her debut for the brown and gold following the conclusion of the NAB League Girls’ season, with another former Gippsland leader in Maddi Shaw running around for the brown and gold. Georgia Bevan, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch have plenty to prove in this game as they look for another chance at AFL Women’s level, with the latter two having played for the Saints at this level earlier this season. For the Saints, they went down to the reformed Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval last Friday and will look to bounce back with Tara Bohanna and Renee Saulitis providing that tall and small option inside 50. Alice Burke and Tahlia Meyer rack up the ball each and every week, and Hannah Stewart has been enjoying a nice season this year at VFLW level. This game could go either way with the Saints ranked higher, but the Hawks are forming a really strong list as the season goes on.

2021 Draft Central’s VFL Women’s Team of the Year: Round 6

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition prepares to restart after the Easter Weekend break, Draft Central, in conjunction with Women’s Australian Football Radio (WARF) has compiled a Team of the Year to date in Round 6. It is an even spread across the board with eight of the 12 competing teams recording two players, and the remaining three sides having the one representative in a realistic, 16-starter and four-bench side.

Ladder leaders Port Melbourne have two players in the side, with ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke named in the forward pocket, and experienced former AFL Women’s player in Mel Kuys in the centre. The other undefeated side in Collingwood just has the one player in there, with forward Imogen Barnett making the team after booting eight goals in the first five games, one less than leader Locke. In between the pair of forwards is Hawthorn’s Jessie Williams who straightens the team up at full-forward, the sole Hawk in the team.

At half-forward, ex-Cannon Alana Barba earned a place in the side with the inside midfielder booting a goal a game in her first five games to book a starting spot on the flank. She was named in the side with fellow midfielder Georgia Nanscawen with the ex-Roo named ruck rover. The other onballer in the side is ex-Geelong Falcon Paige Sheppard, with the rover’s teammate Tamara Smith – another ex-Bushranger – named on the bench. In the ruck is Western Bulldogs’ Nicole McMahon who has been superb all season, whilst teammate Simone Ruedin has been a rock in defence.

Holding up the fort at full-back is Carlton’s Jennifer Lew, who is in the back six with another Blue in Akayla Peterson, who has spent time at both ends, also kicking three goals this season. Ex-Magpie Grace Buchan is in the back pocket but instead for Casey Demons this season, whilst teammate Eliza West is on the interchange. At half-back, Williamstown’s Erin Meade will provide some run for the hypothetical team, whilst centre half-back Meagan Kiely rounds out the defence. The North Melbourne tall is in the side with talented Tasmanian goalkicker Sarah Skinner, with the reigning TSL Women’s league best and fairest winner making an impact at VFL Women’s level.

The last remaining starting player is centre half-forward Tara Bohanna with the Southern Saint able to chop out in the ruck when forward. She should not need to though, with Darebin Falcons’ sole representative in Sidney Cubasch to provide that rotation with McMahon, whilst Bohanna’s Saints’ teammate Hannah Stuart rounds out the interchange. In terms of emergencies and those unluckiest to miss out, it is a trio of defensive players in Southern Saints’ Rebecca Neaves, North Melbourne’s Molly Eastman and Darebin Falcons’ Gena Lawson-Tavan.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S VFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR: ROUND 6

B: Simone Ruedin (WB) – Jennifer Lew (CAR) – Grace Buchan (CD)
HB: Akayla Peterson (CAR) – Meagan Kiely (NM) – Erin Meade (WILL)
C: Mel Kuys (PM)
HF: Alana Barba (ESS) – Tara Bohanna (SS) – Sarah Skinner (NM)
F: Sophie Locke (PM) – Jessie Williams (HAW) – Imogen Barnett (COLL)
R: Nicole McMahon (WB) – Georgia Nanscawen (ESS) – Paige Sheppard (GEE)
INT: Sidney Cubasch (DF) – Tamara Smith (GEE) – Hannah Stuart (SS) – Eliza West (CD)

EMG: Rebecca Neaves (SS) – Molly Eastman (NM) – Gena Lawson-Tavan (DF)

2021 VFLW Round 5 wrap: Pies and Borough continue runs

IN Round 5 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, Carlton, Southern Saints and North Melbourne both grabbed their second wins, Collingwood and Port Melbourne extended their lead at the top of the table, as Geelong kept its opposition goalless in an impressive win on the road.

COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.4 (52)
CASEY DEMONS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.5 | 3.6 (24)

Collingwood maintained its perfect start to the VFL Women’s season with a 28-point victory over fellow strong starters Casey Demons at Victoria Park on Saturday. The Magpies got on the board in the opening term with a couple of goals and manage to restrict their opponents to just the one major by half-time. A further four goals to one in the second half meant the home team left happy, kicking 8.4 to 3.6 from only three more scoring shots for a comfortable victory.

Kristy Stratton slotted three majors in the win and was clearly a standout in the forward half of the ground. Tenacious mid/forward Matilda Zander, as well as Jasmine Ferguson, Tricia Cowan and Sarah King were also impressive in the victory. For the Demons, Imogen Milford did all she could with three goals of her own up forward, the only goalkicker in the red and blue. Young gun ruck Maggie Caris impressed, while ex-Pie Nicole Hales, and Samantha Johnson were also among the Demons’ best in the loss.

GOALS:

Collingwood: K. Stratton 3, G. Ricardo, I. Barnett, C. Bunker, A. Green, J. Guy.
Casey: I. Milford 3.

BEST:

Collingwood: M. Zander, K. Stratton, J. Ferguson, T. Cowan, S. King, D. Hallett
Casey: I. Milford, N. Hales, S. Johnson, M. Caris, S. Fairchild, N. McEvoy

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.3 | 3.8 | 6.12 | 9.13 (67)
DAREBIN 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Southern Saints snapped a three-game losing streak in the best possible fashion, dominating the winless Darebin Falcons by 10 goals. The Saints only conceded one goal and two scoring shots for the entire match, including holding the Falcons scoreless in the second half. Up their own end, the home team shook off some inaccuracy concerns, booting 9.13 (67) to take home the points comfortably – including a six-goal second half – by an even 60 points.

Tara Bohanna and Tenaya Sooalo both slotted two majors each for the winners, while Tayla Kearns was named best on ground in the victory. Tamara Luke, Deanna Jolliffe and Madi Capsalis were also among the best, as was ex-Eastern Ranges talent, Gabbi De Angelis. Sabine Cowley Du Parquet was the sole goalkicker for the Falcons and was among the best players alongside Gena Lawson-Tavan, Alyssa Mifsud and Victoria Blackwood.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 2, T. Sooalo 2, V. Moreau, G. De Angelis, M. Capsalis, G. Hodder, K. Ripari.
Darebin: S. Cowley du Parquet.

BEST:

Southern Saints: T. Kearns, T. Luke, D. Jolliffe, M. Capsalis, T. Bohanna, G. De Angelis
Darebin: G. Lawson-Tavan, S. Cowley du Parquet, A. Mifsud, V. Blackwood, A. Caddy, S. Lynch

CARLTON 3.4 | 4.7 | 9.10 | 9.11 (65)
HAWTHORN 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 5.5 (35)

Carlton had its most impressive performance of the year, shutting the lights out against Hawthorn in the first three quarters to win its second match of the year by five goals. The Blues piled on five goals in the third term to stretch its lead out to as much as 54 points at the main break. While the Hawks were admirable in the last quarter, slotting four goals to just one behind to cut the deficit back to 30, the damage was done prior to that, and the Blues got up, 9.11 (65) to 5.5 (35).

AFL Women’s listed Blues Courtney Jones (four goals) and Serena Gibbs (two) both looked impressive up forward and were amongst the standouts, while Ally Bild, Olivia Madden, Teresa Zampaglione and Bryannen Gull were also named in Carlton’s best. For the Hawks, Katie Angelis kicked two majors and tried to inspire the brown and gold, while Jessie Williams and Tayah Kelly also hit the scoreboard and were amongst the best. Nicole Cormack and Catherine Brown were others who drew praise from the coaches despite the loss.

GOALS:

Carlton: C. Jones 4, S. Gibbs 2, M. Wilson, P. Trudgeon, S. Lawrence.
Hawthorn: K. Angelis 2, T. Kelly, J. Williams, A. Malander.

BEST:

Carlton: A. Bild, O. Madden, C. Jones, T. Zampaglione, B. Gurr, S. Gibbs
Hawthorn: K. Angelis, N. Cormack , C. Brown, J. Williams, T. Kelly, J. Richardson

WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.4 | 0.4 | 0.5 | 0.6 (6)
GEELONG CATS 1.0 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)

Geelong reaffirmed its status as a strong defensive side, keeping its opponent Western Bulldogs to just six points in fairly good conditions at Whitten Oval. The Bulldogs’ woes in front of goal continued for yet another week, having plenty of chances early and not capitalising, and then losing the momentum. Geelong booted a goal in each quarter and two in the third quarter to maintain a distance between them and their opponents, and then things went from bad to worse for the home team as no less than three Dogs were helped off in the last 30 minutes of the match, leaving rotations restricted and some a little sore during the 5.10 (40) to 0.6 (6) defeat.

Stephanie Williams was a livewire up forward for the Cats, slotting two goals and threatening to kick quite a few more, while Paige Sheppard had a day out through the midfield. Olivia Fuller, Teresia Meissner and Tahlia Tatlock were also among the best in the blue hoops, while Claudia Gunjaca kicked a goal and was also in the bests. Bailey Hunt, Katelyn Betts and Isabella Grant never stopped trying for the Dogs, with Annabel Strahan and Eliza Vale also trying to provide run and carry for the home team, and captain Riley Christgoergl putting her body on the line in the contest.

GOALS:

Bulldogs: Nil.
Geelong: S. Williams 2, N. French, P. Sheppard, C. Gunjaca

BEST:

Bulldogs: B. Hunt, A. Strahan, K. Betts, I. Grant, R. Christgoergl, E. Vale
Geelong: P. Sheppard, O. Fuller, T. Meissner, C. Gunjaca, T. Tatlock, S. Williams

ESSENDON 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.3 (27)
PORT MELBOURNE 3.0 | 5.1 | 6.2 | 6.2 (38)

Port Melbourne’s unbeaten start to the season rolled on in Round 5 with a well-fought 11-point victory over Essendon at The Hangar. The Bombers came into the clash with a 3-1 record themselves, but from the start it was clear the Borough were up for a fight. The visitors booted five goals to two in the opening half to open up a handy 18-point advantage, and whilst Essendon restricted the opposition to 1.1 in the second half, could only convert the 2.2 themselves, and ultimately cut down the final score which was in favour of Port Melbourne, to 6.2 (38) to 4.3 (27).

Richmond-listed key forwards, Cleo Saxon-Jones and Emily Harley both slotted two goals apiece, while Kate Adams returned from another match at NAB League Girls level to kick a major herself. Pip Peschke, Sarah McNamara and Courteney Bromage were all amongst the best, as was Claire Dyett (one goal) and the multiple goalkickers. Another ex-Murray Bushrangers talent in Eloise Ashley-Cooper was named best on ground for Essendon in the loss, as Courtney Ugle, Alana Barba and Alexandra Morcom were also impressive, while Federica Flew snagged two goals in defeat.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 2, A. Barba, F. Theodore.
Port Melbourne: C. Saxon-Jones 2, E. Harley 2, K. Adams, C. Dyett.

BEST:

Essendon: E. Ashley-Cooper, C. Ugle, A. Barba, A. Morcom, F. Frew, G. Nanscawen
Port Melbourne: P. Peschke, S. McNamara, E. Harley, C. Dyett, C. Bromage, C. Saxon-Jones

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 1.3 | 3.6 | 4.6 (30)
WILLIAMSTOWN 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 4.2 (26)

In a battle of two sides outside the eight, North Melbourne picked up its second win with a four-point victory over Williamstown, joining the Seagulls on two wins from five games. The Kangaroos only managed one goal in the first half and trailed by 10 points at the main break, but the second half worries for the Seagulls returned with the Kangaroos running over the top of them at Arden Street, booting 3.3 to 1.1 in the second half to win, 4.6 (30) to 4.2 (26).

Meagan Kiely and Jess Mourney impressed and were among four individual goalkickers for the Roos, with Sarah Skinner and Laura Wright also adding their names to the goalkickers list. Alexia Hamilton was named best-on for her performance, while Reni Hicks and Molly Eastman stood strong as well. Aimee Whelan kicked a goal and was named best-on for the Towners, while Olivia Purcell, Lana King and Scarlett Dunnell were among the best in the unfortunate tight loss.

GOALS:

North: S. Skinner, M. Kiely, L. Wright, J. Mourney.
Williamstown: A. Price, A. Whelan, S. Georgas, B. Hanrahan.

BEST:

North: A. Hamilton, M. Kiely, R. Hicks, J. Mourney, M. Eastman, T. Nestor
Williamstown: A. Whelan, L. King, O. Purcell, S. Dunell, E. Baxter, B. Hanrahan

2021 VFLW Round 2 wrap: Borough, Magpies go 2-0

ROUND 2 of the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season saw Port Melbourne and Collingwood move to 2-0, while four teams registered their first wins of the new campaign. Six fixtures were again stretched evenly across two days, with a double-header at La Trobe University rounding out what was an entertaining weekend of state league football. We recap all the action in our weekly wrap.

GEELONG 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.6 | 7.10 (52)
WILLIAMSTOWN 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 (12)

Geelong picked up its first win of the 2021 season via a 40-point thumping of Williamstown at Deakin University on Saturday afternoon, spelling a resounding start to Round 2. The Cats led at every break and kept the Seagulls scoreless in terms two and three, all while pouring on a handy score of their own. In then end, it was a 7.10 (52) to 2.0 (12) scoreline which put Geelong into third spot on the ladder.

Senior-listed Cats Stephanie Williams (two goals) and Georgia Clarke (one) both found the big sticks, but it was Claudia Gunjaca who earned plaudits as the victors’ best player afield. The likes of Breanna Pratt, Paige Sheppard, and Theresia Meissner were also productive for the second week running.

It was no surprise to see Erin Meade again feature among Williamstown’s most impactful performers, joined in the votes again by Aimee Whelan and Lana King while young forward Tahlia Merrett showed promise in her first outing for the year. Ashlea Melnikas and Sasha Long finished as the Seagulls’ lone goalkickers.

GOALS:

Geelong: S. Williams 2, J. Woollett, S. Elsworthy, G. Clarke, M. Fedele, C. Gunjaca
Williamstown: A. Melnikas, S. Long

BEST:

Geelong: C. Gunjaca, G. Clarke, B. Pratt, P. Sheppard, T. Meissner, T. Smith
Williamstown: E. Meade, A. Whelan, T. Merrett, L. King, C. Leighton

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 2.3 | 6.3 | 7.4 (46)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 3.6 (24)

Collingwood collected its second win of the season on Saturday, this time in much more convincing fashion with a 22-point triumph over the Southern Saints at Victoria Park. The Magpies piled on the first six goals of the game across three terms, all while keeping the Saints goalless in that time. Consolation goals did little to meaningfully cut into the margin, as Collingwood saluted 7.4 (46) to 3.6 (24) on home turf.

The Magpies had seven individual goalkickers in a terrific team performance, with the likes of Matilda Zander and Caitlin Bunker notching goals and votes for the winners. Mollie Edmond and Jasmine Ferguson were among those to lead Collingwood’s charge, while AFLW-listed youngster Amelia Velardo thrived in a role off half-back.

Hannah Stuart earned plaudits for her role in the Southern Saints’ effort, finishing as one of just three Saints goalkickers. Tara Bohanna also found the big sticks and play her part, with Melanie Bertuna another to impress in a Southern side which was missing some key elite level talent from last week’s winning lineup.

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Zander, K. Colborne-Veel, K. Stratton, B. Smith, I. Barnett, C. Bunker, S. King
Southern Saints: T. Bohanna, R. Saulitis, H. Stuart

BEST:

Collingwood: M. Emond, J. Ferguson, M. Zander, M. Neal, A. Velardo, C. Bunker
Southern Saints: H. Stuart, M. Bertuna, A. Curley, G. De Angelis, T. Bohanna, K. Ripari

CASEY DEMONS 0.0 | 1.4 | 2.4 | 3.4 (22)
ESSENDON 1.3 | 2.4 | 3.7 | 4.7 (31)

Essendon led at every break but was made to earn its nine-point victory over Casey Demons on Saturday afternoon, coming out on top for its first win in 2021. The Bombers bossed the opening term with four scoring shots as the Demons remained scoreless, before steadily adding just enough to their total thereafter to keep Casey at bay. Ultimately, the Casey Fields scoreboard read 4.7 (31) to 3.4 (22) in favour of Essendon, an important win for the standalone side.

Alexandra Morcom and Cecilia McIntosh backed up strong opening round performances with important contributions for Essendon, who had four individual goalkickers. Mia-Rae Clifford was among them, as well as former Calder Cannons pair Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore.

Casey was led by the efforts of Emma Horne in the defeat, while Melbourne-listed ruck Maggie Caris continues to push her case for senior selection. Fellow AFLW youngster Megan Fitzsimon found the goals for Casey as she rotated forward, while Eliza West also snared a major.

GOALS:

Casey: M. Fitzsimon, E. West, I. Milford
Essendon: M. Clifford, F. Frew, A. Barba, F. Theodore

BEST:

Casey: E. Horne, M. Caris, E. West, T. Fellows, H. Thomas, C. Conroy
Essendon: A. Morcom, J. Davies, L. Stepnell, E. Mackay, T. Crook, C. McIntosh

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.4 | 2.4 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)

North Melbourne lifted after half time to overcome the Western Bulldogs at Arden Street Oval on Sunday morning, coming from behind to win by 21 points. The Bulldogs led narrowly at the first two breaks before North clicked into gear, keeping the visitors scoreless after the main break while adding three goals of their own to run away 5.7 (37) to 2.4 (16) victors.

First year AFLW Kangaroo Alice O’Loughlin pushed her case for a senior recall with three goals, accounting for nearly half of North’s score. She was joined by Sarah Skinner and former Richmond player Ciara Fitzgerald in the goals, as Meagan Kiely and Bethany Lynch also played large parts in the win.

Simone Ruedin, Amanda Tessari, and Nicole McMahon were among the VFLW-listed Bulldogs to be credited for their efforts. Britney Gutknecht was again terrific through midfield alongside a couple of her side’s leaders, and Nell Morris-Dalton again goaled to be one of just two major scorers in the red, white, and blue.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: A. O’Loughlin 3, S. Skinner, C. Fitzgerald
Western Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton, M. Chadwick

BEST:

North Melbourne: M. Kiely, B. Lynch, A. O’Loughlin, J. Mourney, K. Cox, M. Eastman
Western Bulldogs: S. Ruedin, A. Tessari, N. McMahon, B. Gutknecht, K. Betts, R. Christgoergl

DAREBIN 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
HAWTHORN 2.0 | 5.3 | 6.5 | 7.7 (49)

The weekend’s sole battle between two standalone sides saw Hawthorn come up trumps over Darebin, reigning victorious to the tune of 23 points at La Trobe University, Bundoora. Both sides brought the heat early as Darebin led at the first break, but the Falcons’ ascendancy proved short-lived as Hawthorn shifted up the gears to post five goals to one thereafter. In the end, it resulted in Bec Goddard‘s first win as Hawthorn head coach, reading 7.7 (49) to 3.8 (26) on the scoreboard.

Jessie Williams set the game alight with four goals in the brown and gold, proving too hot to handle inside 50 as she snapped up multiple opportunities. Veteran defender Meg Hutchins was typically assured down back alongside Lauren Szigeti, who also rotated through midfield. Among the other Hawks to impress, Jemma Owen again found the goals and showed promise.

For Darebin, Gena Lawson-Tavan played an important role down back, while skipper Steph Simpson did her best to spark her side from midfield before rotating inside attacking 50. Kathleen Roe also swung forward and found a goal, with Alyssa Mifsud the Falcons’ only other goalkicker on the day and Sidney Cubasch again impressive.

GOALS:

Darebin: K. Roe, A. Mifsud, S. David
Hawthorn: J. Williams 4, A. Vine, L. Szigeti, J. Owen

BEST:

Darebin: S. Simpson, S. Cubasch, S. Lynch, A. Reibelt, V. Smiljanic, P. Kearney
Hawthorn: J. Williams, M. Hutchins, N. Cormack, E. Gilder, J. Owen, L. Szigeti

CARLTON 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.3 | 2.3 (15)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.3 | 5.5 | 9.5 (59)

Port Melbourne made it two wins from two games in its inaugural VFLW campaign, thumping Carlton by 44 points at La Trobe University on Sunday to round out the weekend’s proceedings. The Borough built a steady 14-point buffer at half time as Carlton struggled to transition out of its own half, before piling on six goals to one after the main break and running out 9.5 (59) to 2.3 (15) winners.

Young Port forward Sophie Locke was excellent inside 50 and snared three goals in a lively outing, while Emily Harley bagged two and provided great physicality. Holly Bailey was named her side’s best player in the win, in front of the likes of Pip Peschke and Ellie Macdonald as the Borough set up well and locked the ball in their half for much of the contest.

Naturally, many of Carlton’s most prolific performers were stationed in defence, with Jessie Coletti recognised for her outstanding outing alongside leaders Ally Bild and Jen Lew. Senior-listed Blue Jess Edwards was also important back there, while fresh import Akayla Peterson was also impressive and finished as one of two Carlton goalkickers.

GOALS:

Carlton: M. Wilson, A. Peterson
Port Melbourne: S. Locke 3, E. Harley 2, L. Lesosky-Hay, S. Sansonetti, C. Dyett, P. Peschke

BEST:

Carlton: J. Coletti, J. Lew, J. Edwards, A. Peterson, M. Wilson, A. Bild
Port Melbourne: H. Bailey, P. Peschke, S. Locke, E. Macdonald, L. McClelland, A. Tanner

TSL Women’s Semi-finals preview: Blues and Magpies host do-or-die matches

THERE is no turning back for any of the four Tasmanian State League (TSL) Women’s sides when the four finalists battle it out in two do-or-die semi-finals. Last year’s runners-up Launceston host the fourth placed North Launceston at Windsor Park, before the classic contest between big improvers Glenorchy and reigning premiers Clarence.

The Magpies have knocked off Launceston twice this season, a feat that they did not manage to achieve last season – nor did anyone until the grand final – and now must overcome a 0-2 head-to-head in 2020 against the Roos to book a spot in the TSL Women’s Grand Final. It will be a tough game to pick with Glenorchy snatching the home ground advantage with a massive 63-point win over North Launceston in the final round, so now the sides will play out at Abbotsfield Park.

Fresh off her leading goalkicker title, Sarah Skinner (18 goals) will be one the Roos need to contain, whilst up the other end, second placed Jessie Williams (17) is a key component of Clarence’s attack. She is one of three players inside the top five for goals however, with Jacinta Limbrick (12) and Amy Edmand (nine) up there, as is Magpies’ Molly Mitchell (nine).

Skinner has been an outstanding force this season for the black and whites, with Zoie Crawford the other one who has caught the eye of coaches, named among the best on seven occasions each. Young talent Jemma Webster has also had a great year, whilst former AFLW player Libby Haines has rebounded strongly through the league.

For the Roos, Nicole Bresnehan provides much-needed experience in the red and white, whilst the likes of Bronte Scott, Limbrick, Amy Prokopiec and Brianna Oates have all had some strong season, with the latter ones impressing beyond their years. Clarence start favourites in this clash given their 2-0 head-to-head record, but expect Glenorchy to bring the heat because the Magpies would back themselves in the decider against Launceston.

Speaking of Launceston, they are heavy favourites to roll through to another grand final when they come up against North Launceston. The Bombers pushed them in the opening round of the season, but have only managed the two wins – both against the winless Tigers – whilst Launceston has only lost to Glenorchy this year. The Blues grabbed the all-important top spot as the top three in the five-team competition were so even, and now have a chance to build some confidence.

Daria Bannister is third overall for goals with 13 this season, and has been amongst the Blues’ top performers throughout 2020. Launceston tend to share the goals around with recently drafted North Melbourne forward Brooke Brown (five goals), Angela Dickson (four) and Meg Sinclair (four). Bannister’s fellow AFL Women’s teammate Mia King has also found herself in the bests on five occasions, with Dickson, Camilla Taylor and Kelsie Hill all making it in four times.

There is no doubt the game is an uphill battle for North Launceston, but the Bombers have nothing to lose, and the likes of Zoe Bourne (five bests), Maggie Cuthbertson (four), Ruby Slater (four), Jodie Clifford (four) and Kayla Sheehan (four) will not shy away from a challenge. They have struggled to score against the big three teams, and will need to conquer that to have a huge upset, but finals footy is a different ball game.

TSL WOMEN’S SEMI-FINALS FIXTURES:

Launceston vs. North Launceston
Glenorchy vs. Clarence

Picture: Solstice Digital & Photography