Tag: jorja eldridge

Allies hold on despite stunning effort from 15-year-old Lauren Young

A PHENOMENAL 37-disposal effort from 15-year-old star Lauren Young was not enough to haul her side across the line against the Allies in a tight contest to conclude the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships for the sides. The Allies controlled play with the first three goals of the match, and whilst they did not kick a goal after the 14th minute of the first term, held on in a dour struggle – including a last term fightback – to win by six points, 3.8 (26) to 3.2 (20).

The Allies started the stronger of the sides with the first three goals of the contest to race out to as much of a 20-point lead. Amy Bissett kicked a remarkable goal from the tight pocket after South Australia had the early ascendancy in the opening few minutes. Soon Cynthia Hamilton – after a huge effort on Monday – got her name in the scorers book with a set shot goal, and that was followed by a nice effort from Ella Maurer who converted for the Allies’ third of the contest.

Despite the Allies having all the scoring power in the first quarter, the South Australian side managed to get one back in transition with the last kick of the day coming from Sturt’s Alex Ballard. The resulting goal cut the deficit back to 14 points at the break. Perri King had a prominent first term for the leaders, while Zoe Prowse and Jade Halfpenny were having some important touches around the ground.

Sydney Swans Academy member Jessica Doyle was threatening to put a couple of goals on the board early, missing some chances, then had a set shot which travelled the distance but just went to the right. Maurer was having an impact in the first half as one of the Allies best alongside Hamilton, who along with sister Jayde, were winning plenty of the footy.

South Australia had a couple of forays forward but the ball generally belonged up the Allies’ end with the only two scores going the way of the leading side, adding two behinds to their total to stretch the lead out to 16 by the main break. Jorja Eldridge had a chance late in the quarter but went out of bounds off the rushed snap.

The intensity lifted in the third term, with some huge tackles from both sides and players looking sore including Prowse in one ruck contest and Young also copping a high knock. South Australia had the first genuine inside 50 after a battle between the arcs, and it was Ballard who again provided a target, taking a strong mark but drifted to the left.

Young went from good to brilliant as she had the ball on a string, kicking off her right, left and everything in between. Tasmanian youngster Claire Ransom was sent off for a fierce tackle on Laitiah Huynh in the final minute of the term, making it the third player this week to be sent from the ground. South Australia was doing the bulk of the attacking, but could once again only add two behinds to the score.

South Australia started to gain some forward ascendancy in the first few minutes, but could not quite capitalise. Allies actually had the first scoring shots, kicking two behinds, including a set shot miss from Cynthia Hamilton, to kill plenty of time off the clock and force the South Australians to roll the dice.

Roll the dice they did, with Zoe Venning winning a free kick for being slung, kicking a goal with six minutes left in the game to put the margin within 12 points. The pulse was back, and with Charlotte Dolan clearing it forward to Young who ran onto it and slotted it off the right a minute later, it was six points the margin and still five minutes to play. The heart rates of everyone was lifting.

South Australia kept pressing to lead to an unbelievable finish in the final two minutes, but the Allies defence held up despite everything the Croweaters could throw at them. The siren sounded with the ball inside 50 for the South Australians and the game over with six points in favour of the Allies.

Young finished with 37 touches, six marks, nine tackles, five clearances, three inside 50s, five rebound 50s and a goal, leading the way alongside Gypsy Schirmer (20 disposals, four tackles, two marks and two rebound 50s), Venning (20 disposals, eight tackles, three clearances and a goal) and Prowse (16 disposals, 20 hitouts). Central District duo Madison Lane (16 disposals, eight rebounds) and Huynh (15 disposals, five inside 50s and eight tackles) were also impressive.

The winners had a balanced spread, though Cynthia Hamilton was again the top performer, and well deserved of the Most Valuable Player (MVP), racking up 21 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Isadora McLeay (20 disposals, four marks and four rebound 50s) and Maurer (20 disposals, three marks, five tackles and five clearances) were both impressive. King also had a day out in the conditions with 15 tackles to accompany her 17 touches, while Doyle had the 17 disposals, six marks, three inside 50s and two behinds.

ALLIES 3.2 | 3.4 | 3.4 | 3.8 (26)
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS: 

Allies: A. Bissett, C. Hamilton, E. Maurer.
South Australia: A. Ballard, Z. Venning, L. Young.

DC BEST:

Allies: C. Hamilton, P. King, E. Maurer, I. McLeay, J. Doyle
South Australia: L. Young, Z. Venning, G. Schurmer, L. Huynh, M. Lane

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s Round 6

THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s action featuring the stat’s top young talent returned in Round 6, and we took a look at the State Academy players once again in what was their last preparation ahead of the first AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships match against Western Australia next Sunday. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

GLENELG vs. STURT

By: Phoebe Doyle

Glenelg:

#7 Brooke Tonon

A quieter game compared to past weeks for the smooth-moving Glenelg product with 10 disposals, six kicks, four handballs and one mark. However it was a lower-disposal game and Tonon still provided some highlights with her hard running and ability to cover the ground well on the open spaces of the Adelaide Oval.

#12 Tamsyn Morriss

Morriss was fairly quiet during this match, with only five disposals and one mark overall. She did demonstrate some classy defence in the first quarter, but as the ball spent more time in Glenelg’s attack she did not get the chance to show as much of it.

Sturt:

#3 Georgia Swan

Swan was an ever-presence against Glenelg, finishing with the 10 touches and three marks – one contested – as well as two inside 50s. She had a chance at goal in the first quarter from 45 metres out but just fell short. She sat off for a bit at the start of the second quarter, ran straight into it when coming back on to replace an injury, getting a hand on the ball not even a minute after coming on.

#19 Alex Ballard

Putting on the defensive pressure in the first quarter, Ballard came out even stronger in the second quarter, with a nice passage of play leading to a mark and subsequent goal to bring her scoring accuracy to 100 per cent. Despite the goal, Ballard had just the six touches, but laid four tackles to provide some great defensive pressure on the ball carrier.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

Prenzler was prominently in the background throughout the game. The State Academy prospect had an impressive game, finishing with 11 disposals, three marks and a game-high seven rebound 50s. She mopped up in defence time and time again, and with two thirds of her disposals resulting in rebound 50s, it showed how much she was a help in moving the ball along and decongesting play.

#30 Zoe Prowse

Prowse did not necessarily dominate passages of play as she has in the past, but was certainly a help in the background. The talented ruck was able to rest from the ruck duties with Jess Good taking the brunt of it, with Prowse having a quieter game but still clunking a couple of contested marks showing off her aerial ability.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE

By: Peter Williams

Central District:

#28 Lauren Breguet

Played a really solid game returning to the SANFL Women’s after missing matches due to concussion and the State Academy game. Leading out from the forward 50, Breguet showed off her trademark strong hands, and then used the ball well by foot on a number of occasions. Breguet’s second efforts were noticeable, when she did turn over a a ball in the first term, but worked hard to intercept the next ball closer to goal. She showed her second efforts again in the third term when she was knocked off it at half-forward, but backed up with a strong tackle to force a turnover and win the ball back for her side. Midway through the final term, Breguet read the ball well at top speed after almost being intercepted, grabbed it cleanly off hands and running in to kick a goal and cap off the performance.

#40 Madison Lane

Not having to do much in the first term with the Bulldogs controlling the ball up the other end, Lane worked into the game when required. She could not quite pull down a mark midway through the second term when it bounced off her chest, but she had a clean pick up before being tackled and locked it up. She laid a fierce tackle late in the term to force a rushed kick, and showed high-level effort and defensive mindset with a lunging tackle at half-back and then an attempted smother immediately after. In the third term, Lane after kicking outside of the boot and out of bounds, she ran hard in defence to receive the ball off the next play and produce a lovely kick out of the defensive 50.

#41 Laitiah Huynh

Huynh had a couple of noticeable plays throughout the match using the ball well when she needed to. Not racking up as much of the ball as past games, Huynh still showed a clean pair of heels on a number of occasions, such as when she turned Kristi Harvey inside out to get goalside close to the line and put it to a dangerous position and set up a goal to Paige Allen. She had a flying snap in the third term which went high and towards a teammate in the goalsquare, then set up a goal to Breguet by marking free at the top of 50 and kick inboard which whilst not perfect, was effective off hands to her teammate to run into goal.

North Adelaide:

#33 Julia Clark

Had a busy start early in the match, starting on a wing and then working hard through to half-back. Whilst she could not quite take the ball cleanly at half-back, she worked hard to quickly gather and give off the quick hands. She won a couple of free kicks – one for going in hard and another through the last touch rule – and produced neat chips with those kicks. Overall a quieter game, but took a couple of good grabs.

#38 Kate Case

Had a crack throughout the game and whilst she was not overly prominent or afforded the time and space that the running talent would like, she mopped up in the back half a number of times. She had a nice play in the final term when she did find space, drawing an opponent then releasing by hand to a teammate at half-forward after going for a bit of a run.

#43 Amelie Borg

The most prominent of the Roosters’ State Academy members, the bottom-age talent worked hard in defence with Kristi Harvey. Showing composure deep in the back 50, Borg mopped up under pressure and was able to clear the ball from congestion with a couple of quick kicks to get it free. She saved a certain goal near the goalsquare with a great tackle 15 minutes into the third term to force a behind, then had a nice one-on-one in the final term with a clean pickup and spin kick forward for distance. Made a couple of errors by foot, but overall did not panic when under pressure.

#47 Jorja Eldridge

Rotated between defence and rolling through the ruck, Eldridge laid a strong tackle early in the game to lock it up at a stoppage, then showed good second efforts at ground level when in the ruck. She made a couple of mistakes when trying to break through a tackle in defence in the third term and was dispossessed for a free kick, and then turned over a ball from deep defence near the top of 50. To her credit, she worked hard up the ground to win the ball in a contest on the wing and then handball to a teammate whilst Eldridge was under pressure, to keep it moving in congestion. She also took a strong grab in the middle and kicked to half-forward midway through the quarter.

 

WWT EAGLES vs. NORWOOD

By: Peter Williams

Eagles:

#8 Charlotte Dolan

Her numbers were down in the match, but Dolan’s intensity at the football was still high, having a number of plays where she attacked the hard ball. She cracked in with some fierce tackles and won plenty of contested possessions, but could not free herself from the stoppage. She won a free kick for going in hard in the second term and kicked to half-forward, often using the ball in transition from space going forward, though was under pressure most of the time.

#25 Jamie Parish

Played up forward this week and did not get to see a lot of it, but Parish did have her first main impact in the second term, leading out from the attacking 50, marking, then spinning and quickly moving it on inside the forward 50. She applied good pressure around the ball carrier and was sighted in defence late in the game offering herself as an option at half-back, but could not quite pull down the mark under pressure, through she did track it.

Norwood:

#15 Alana Lishmund

Had her moments around the ground but like many players did not have a lot of space within which to move the ball. She won it at half-back midway through the second term and kicked forward but the unlucky bounce saw an Eagles defender intercept. She kept working hard throughout the match, and had a nice clearance for her troubles.

#22 Jade Halfpenny

Her form of 2021 continued with a solid first three quarters up forward and an outstanding last quarter in the midfield. The versatile tall had a kick off the ground in the opening 20 seconds of the game, but it went to the right for a behind. Later on in the term she took an intercept mark at half-forward and hit a target inside 50. On a number of occasions she would win the contested ball but be immediately tackled, but in the third term she showed great hands under pressure early to get the ball out to Lana Schwerdt for a snap on goal. The final term saw Halfpenny thrown into the midfield and she immediately had an impact where she won the majority of her disposals for the day. She had a few inside 50s and driving balls going to the danger spots, keeping the ball moving quickly in transition. One kick set up a Mattea Breed goal, and then next stoppage she shrugged off a tackle and kicked long again showing her confidence. She took a great intercept mark on the forward side of the win in the 12th minute, then worked hard to help out in the back half, winning the ball at half0back and chipping into the true centre half-back position.

 

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE

By: Michael Alvaro

West Adelaide:

#8 Keeley Kustermann

Stationed in her usual defensive post, Kustermann was resolute as ever and decisive on the ball. She competed well each time her name was called upon and dug in with repeat efforts to help push the ball out of West Adelaide’s defensive 50. One benefit of her competitiveness was a knack of earning free kicks in important areas to help relieve pressure. With ball in hand, Kustermann’s kicking was clean and she made really good decisions when looking further afield. She looks natural when going by foot and plays the percentages well.

#9 Zoe Venning

Venning spent a good amount of time up forward during this outing, but still managed to contribute some handy work around the stoppages and congested areas. She popped up with nice movement at an early contest and would often look to move the ball on quickly by hand when pressured, while also applying solid pressure herself. A couple of key one-on-one wins highlighted Venning’s day; the first was a big holding the ball tackle in term one, and the second was a ground ball win at half-forward which ended in a goal assist.

#30 Lauren Young

Again outstanding in the red and black, Young proved a constant in midfield and later capped off her game with promising work up forward. While she was caught and went to ground on a few occasions when fighting for loose balls, Young’s best traits came to the fore aerially with terrific marks at either end of the ground. She set up well across half-forward to help lock the ball in Westies’ attacking arc and even got back to take a relieving grab deep in defence. Her judgement of the ball in flight was sound, and you cannot fault her willingness to compete on all levels. Young’s kick penetration was another key feature of her game, which was iced fittingly by a final term goal – earned through a holding the ball tackle.

South Adelaide:

#1 Tahlita Buethke

A real ‘moments’ kind of player, Buethke was one of South’s better midfielders on the day and showed flashes of her scintillating best. Her speed away from the contest made for eye-catching centre breaks, with her athleticism also translating to some courageous aerial acts. Buethke often flew back or across to contest high balls, but was also quick to follow up at ground level – showing clean hands at both levels. Her natural game is exciting, with her first instinct nearly always seeing her take off quickly to then boot the Panthers forward. Her kicking at speed could do with some refining, and Buethke found herself caught a couple of times on the run during term two – though a hair malfunction may have distracted her on the second instance.

#5 Sarah Wright

Wright was relatively quiet throughout the game, but worked hard in defence during the early stages to help South Adelaide find a way forward. Her decision making and execution by foot was pretty sound, and she got to showcase a bit of run-and-carry as the game wore on with clean gathers at speed and take-on attempts. A desperate dive to force a rushed behind in the first quarter was among Wright’s best moments for the day.

#36 Gypsy Schirmer

Another who popped up in flashes, Schirmer worked high up the ground to provide an outlet option from defence and showed clean hands when called upon. She did some nice work on the outer with attacking runs and played a hand in one of South’s best end-to-end passages during the third term. On that occasion, Schirmer got into space and moved the ball on quickly to hit a target by foot inside 50. She found herself in the wars during term four as she looked to help out in defence, but seemed to come away unscathed.

#41 Lauren Clifton

Clifton’s run-and-carry was a real feature of her game, with good timing on handball receives allowing for productive play on the outside. She was not afraid to cut inboard or take on opponents ahead of her, backing her speed and then looking to deliver forward by foot. Clifton’s execution at full tilt was not always perfect, but relatively effective under good pressure from Westies. She bookended her outing well and showed nice signs overall.

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 6 preview: Quadruple header at Adelaide Oval

A MASSIVE Super Saturday of action at Adelaide Oval sees four back-to-back games with plenty of footy to watch in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

GLENELG vs. STURT
Saturday, April 3 @ 11am
Adelaide Oval

The evenness of the competition sees two bottom four sides battle it out in the opening game, but both are not too far off the top four spots. Glenelg in particular have won two of five games and have gone close on a number of occasions, but are one point outside the finals spot. A win in this match, and a loss to South Adelaide or Woodville-West Torrens Eagles will see the Bays back in the top four. Sturt are on the bottom of the table with one win from five matches, but a victory would draw them level with a number of teams – including Glenelg – and snap the Double Blues’ three-game losing streak.

Glenelg will welcome youngster Kimberley Fry who crossed to the Bays from Central District over the off-season, as well as State Academy members Brooke Tonon and Tamsyn Morriss back into the fray. Sturt has made six massive inclusions, with debutant Abby Pengelly joining captain Maya Rigter, and the quartet of State Academy members in Zoe Prowse, Alex Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler all back into the side. Sturt had some impressive individual efforts last week, with Jess Good and Alisha Gepp among the top performers, while Glenelg will loo to the likes of Ellie Kellock, Jessica Bates and Madisyn Freeman who are all in good form of late.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 3 @ 12:45pm
Adelaide Oval

Fresh off their big win over West Adelaide, Central District takes on North Adelaide who has only been able to collect one point from a possible four in the past two weeks. Their draw with South and prior loss to Norwood will have the Roosters hungry for a win, and keeping in touch with the top of the table Redlegs. The Bulldogs had three close losses in Rounds 2-4 but were back on the board in a big way with a comprehensive win over West Adelaide last week. They have the most potent attack in the competition, averaging 35 points a game with their nearest rivals being West Adelaide (29.4 points per game). A win and results in their favour could see the Bulldogs back inside the top four.

Central District welcomes a trio of youngsters back into the side, with Laitiah Huynh, Madison Lane and Lauren Breguet returning from state duties, with the Dogs yet to confirm any omissions. North Adelaide will bring in Amelie Borg, Kate Case and Jorja Eldridge among their inclusions after their state duties, and hope it to be a catalyst to get the full points on the board this week. The Bulldogs’ forward line has been functioning well, with Katelyn Rosenzweig, Chantel Reynolds, Breguet and Huynh among the more damaging players going around. Shelby Smith is enjoying a ripping season, as is Caitlen Teague. They will need to match it with the likes of Leah Tynan and Jaimi Tabb in midfield, while Kristi Harvey and Talia Radan are two in-form key pillars in the back 50.

WWT EAGLES vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, April 3 @ 2:30pm
Adelaide Oval

A huge top three clash between Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and Norwood is one of the games to watch, with the resurgent Eagles having won three on the trot and bolting into third on the SANFL Women’s table. Norwood has ticked off every box since the Round 1 loss to West Adelaide, winning four on the trot and being the most in-form team of the competition. With both sides on winning runs, it will be a massive clash which could reshape the top three sides.

Woodville-West Torrens will be without Natasha Holmes who is a key out due to injury, but the Eagles do welcome back Jamie Parish and Charlotte Dolan from the State Academy duties, as well as Zahn Anthony, and a potential debutant in Cheryllee Waters. Norwood will also bring in Jade Halfpenny and Alana Lishmund from their South Australian representation, as Elizabeth Drake and Isabel Martin beef up the side, with four players out including ex-Eagle Tesharna Maher, The Redlegs will be warm favourites in this one, with Sophie Armitstead, Leah Cutting and Ella Murison all impressing throughout the season, and Mattea Breed and Morgan Johnston also standouts. For the Eagles, Shineah Goody is one of the talented youngsters to look out for the future, as is Jaida Tabb who is in her second game back, while Astrid Gooley and Kiana Lee are other dangerous forwards who can hit the scoreboard.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 3 @ 4:15pm
Adelaide Oval

West Adelaide has been understrength the last couple of weeks, losing the past three games since winning the first two this season. They come up against a Panthers side that has found its grove, collecting five of a possible six points in the past three weeks, almost making it three wins on the trot with victory against North Adelaide, but had to settle for a draw. a win to the Bloods is crucial given they have conceded more points that any other side, but have also scored the second most of any side, as one of the exciting teams running around. South will be hoping to leapfrog a team or two if they can get up in the clash.

West Adelaide have welcomed back a remarkable amount of players, with nine total named as ins for the clash with the Panthers. Along with the State Academy members in Lauren Young, Keeley Kustermann and Zoe Venning, they also regain the services of the experienced Chelsea Biddell, Melanie Elsegood and Madison Newman, and youngster Scarlett Griffiths also returns. For the Panthers, Hannah Munyard joins Tahlita Buethke, Gypsy Schirmer and Lauren Clifton as some of the inclusions for the Panthers as they will have a tough game against a now full-strength Westies outfit. Ailish Considine, Sharnie Whiting and Bec Owen have been among those holding up the fort for the Bloods, while for South, Lisa Whiteley made a strong return last week, and Brianna Wedding and Jaslynne Smith are strong in defence. The midfield combination of Montana McKinnon, Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell is also hard to beat on any given day, making this match a cracker.

Picture credit: On the Ball Media via SANFL

2021 AFLW U19 Championships match preview: South Australia vs. Western Australia

AFTER more than 18 months without an AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, the adjusted Under 19 Championships kick-off tomorrow with South Australia up against Western Australia. It will be the first match of the Round 1 fixtures that also feature Vic Country locking horns with Vic Metro, before the four sides – along with host state Queensland and the Allies – battle it out at Metricon Stadium on April 12 and 15.

South Australia come into the match with plenty of experienced inside talents and outside runners with great speed. Their defensive pressure and abundance of running defenders are other highlights of the squad that will hold them in good stead. For Western Australia, they have a dynamic and versatile line-up, with plenty of goal-scoring options, and contested marking talents who are strong one-on-one.

SA DEFENCE vs. WA ATTACK

B: Jamie Parish – Hannah Prenzler – Madison Lane
F: Ashleigh Reidy – Ella Roberts – Bella Edgley
HB: Tamsyn Morriss – Alex Ballard – Brooke Tonon
HF: Aisha Wright – Chloe Reilly – Mylee Leitch

There is plenty of X-factor in the front six for the Sandgropers, with Ella Roberts a bottom-age marking target with great athleticism and quick speed off the mark. She can pull down contested marks and snap remarkable goals, leaving the opposition in awe of ways to contain her. Hannah Prenzler has been named to potentially take her on first, with the Sturt talent able to read the ball well in flight, and will want to stay in front of her opponent given Roberts’ speed on the lead. Bella Edgley and Chloe Reilly are the other marking targets inside 50, with Madison Lane smaller than Edgley, but smart at ground level, whilst Alex Ballard will be an even match with Reilly in the air. Glenelg duo Tamsyn Morriss and Brooke Tonon will look to provide the run off half-back against a couple of youngsters in Mylee Leitch and Aisha Wight, while Jamie Parish will look to use her strength against Ash Reidy in the other pocket.

SA ATTACK vs. WA DEFENCE

HF: Laitiah Huynh – Georgia Swan – Tahlita Buethke
HB: Bella Mann – Beth Schilling – Emily Bennett
F: Lauren Breguet – Lauren Clifton – Jade Halfpenny
B: Emma Nanut – Matilda Dyke – Melisha Hardy

Up the other end, a small South Australian forward line will look to get the ball to ground and use their speed, with the forward entries crucial to the success of the Croweaters. Western Australia have the advantage in the air, with many of their defenders more than capable one-on-one, and taller than their respective opponents. Jade Halfpenny is the key tall inside 50 for the home team, and she has been named in a forward pocket against Melisha Hardy. The Swan Districts defender is good one-on-one, and whilst she has some toe, Halfpenny might have her in that regard, so will be better to utilise her speed on the lead. One-on-one Hardy will be difficult to beat, whilst Emily Bennett and Matilda Dyke are others in the same boat. Tahlita Buethke will have the speed in her matchup, with Lauren Clifton also having that advantage despite predominantly playing up the other end at SANFL Women’s level. Lauren Breguet returns after a couple of weeks off due to concussion, and she will have a great battle one-on-one with Emma Nanut, whilst Laitiah Huynh and Bella Mann are both tackling, fierce players who will not take a backwards step. Beth Schilling will have too much height in the air for Georgia Swan, but the Sturt forward will look to compete and bring the ball to ground and create scoring opportunities.

SA MIDFIELD vs. WA MIDFIELD

R: Zoe Prowse – Lauren Young – Zoe Venning
R: Sarah Lakay – Courtney Rowley – Makaela Tuhakaraina
C: Kate Case – Keeley Kustermann – Gypsy Schirmer
C: Naomi Baker – Dana East – Jaide Britton

The midfield battle has a massive number of not-to-be-missed one-on-ones. Regardless of who lines up on who, it will be a classic contest. Lauren Young is the youngest player on the field at 15-years-old but will have the height advantage over her rivals, and ironically is two centimetres taller than her ruck, Zoe Prowse. The Sturt tall has a great leap and will look to take advantage, but has an equal in that regard with Sarah Lakay incredibly athletic and nine centimetres taller than the South Australian. Both have similar attributes but Prowse has more experience and will cause headaches with second efforts around the ground. Lakay will look to get clean taps to the advantage of her teammates to stop Prowse applying pressure as that “fourth midfielder”. The battle between Zoe Venning and Makaela Tuhakaraina will be one that provides plenty of punch. Both have an incredible appetite for contested ball, and will not take a backwards step. Tuhakaraina has the upper hand in athleticism with elite speed and agility, but Venning is no slouch either, consistent across the board. She has more runs on the board as well, with her opponent coming from a rugby union background. Venning will have the footy smarts to go forward and impact the scoreboard there.

Courtney Rowley and Dana East will take on the West Adelaide youngsters in Young and Keeley Kustermann. Rowley and Kustermann both have terrific kicking skills and great balance, whilst East is terrific inside the contest with clean hands, able to distribute the ball to teammates on the outside. Young is developing her game with great ability in the air and around the ground, and will be too tall for her respective opponents around the ground and is the tallest South Australian in the match. Prowse will have to use all of her energy to battle against multiple opponents, with Lakay likely to receive support from Schilling and South Fremantle’s Lauren Wakfer, whilst Prowse will rely on Halfpenny and Jorja Eldridge as potential back up options. On the wings, AFL Women’s Academy member Gypsy Schirmer provides that elite speed, and Sandgropers co-captain Jaide Britton will look to contain her whilst getting the ball forward in transition herself. On the other wing, Kate Case and Naomi Baker both share similar traits with the ability to move the ball in transition and play off flanks as well.

SA INTERCHANGE vs WA INTERCHANGE

SA INT: Alana Lishmund – Jorja Eldridge – Julia Clark – Charlotte Dolan – Amelie Borg – Sarah Branford
WA INT: Lauren Wakfer – Emily Gunton – Tara Stribley – Emily Boothman – Amy Franklin – Nyra Anderson

The depth of both sides is impressive, though the bench talent goes in the favour of Western Australia, with AFL Women’s Academy member with Amy Franklin keeping the opposition guessing able to play up either end. Tara Stribley is easily a starting wing on any given day and will provide terrific run on the outside. Nyra Anderson is a goal-scoring machine and has come in due to injuries and is a 2001-born talent who is making her mark at WAFL Women’s level year after year. Developing ruck Wakfer, as well as fellow bottom-agers Emily Gunton and Emily Boothman round out the interchange. For South Australia, they have a host of fierce tackling talents there, led by Norwood’s Alana Lishmund, North Adelaide’s Julia Clark and Woodville-West Torrens’ Charlotte Dolan. Eldridge has the versatility to play in multiple positions, as does Amelie Borg who gets her chance as a bottom-age tall. At the opposite end of the height scale, the tenacious Sarah Branford will provide skill and decision making in the forward half.

OVERALL:

The game is set to be a thriller, with the teams really strong in different areas. It is predicted to be mild temperatures, but no rain at this stage, so the talls of Western Australia should be strong if the inside 50s are to their advantage. South Australia have the strength on the inside to win the ball forward, but cannot afford to hack it inside with the Sandgropers’ ability to intercept so well, and be in front position on their opponent. Once the ball hits the deck, the South Australians will be favoured, but a lot of the match will be determined by the midfields. The midfield that can take full advantage and get the ball forward in terms of quality rather than quantity will automatically be well placed to take out the match.

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 5 preview: Changes galore with State Academy players out

THERE was carnage in a good way at the selection table for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s teams, as their most talented youth prospects departed to represent their state at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships on Sunday.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Friday, March 26 @ 7:00pm
Flinders University Stadium

The second grand final rematch of the 2020 SANFL Women’s finale has the two sides with very different lineups to last year’s decider. On top of the host of players returning or entering the AFL Women’s competition, both teams have plenty of State Academy members who are out for their clash with Western Australia. South Adelaide lose Gypsy Schirmer, Tahlita Buethke and Lauren Clifton to the match, with North’s Kate Case, Julia Clark, Jorja Eldridge and Amelie Borg also out of the game. Both teams receive some talented reinforcements with Lisa Whiteley, Madison Bennett and Tiffany Copley among the ins for the Panthers, while Kelly Barltrop and Lauren Daniel join four new players – including former Panther Emogen Johnson – in their starting side.

The Roosters defence still has the twin talls in Kristi Harvey and Talia Radan, as well as Erin Sundstrom, whilst Jaimi Tabb played her best game of the season last week, and will match it with the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell in there. Montana McKinnon is in red-hot form and will be tipped to continue that against the Roosters, as the forward duo of Jorja Hooper and Jess Kirk will be looking to apply more scoreboard pressure in this one. North Adelaide would be confident of bouncing back, though the Panthers still have a really strong midfield – including State Academy emergency Sarah Wright – and could take control there.

STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS EAGLES
Saturday, March 27 @ 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Kicking off a double-header at X Convenience Oval, the 1-3 Sturt take on the in-form Woodville-West Torrens Eagles in what could make history for the visitors. The Eagles only won two games in their second season last year – after going winless in year one – and could be eyeing off a remarkable third straight victory if they can topple the last placed Sturt. They will need to do it without a host of talents including State Academy members Charlotte Dolan and Jamie Parish, as well as Zahn Anthony and Stephanie Walker. Sturt have even more outs due to the Academy game, with the Double Blues’ football factory of Alex Ballard, Georgia Swan, Hannah Prenzler and star ruck Zoe Prowse all out of the team, as well as captain Maya Rigter with a knee injury.

It will give plenty a players a chance to step up, with the likes of Sarah Wallace and Millie McCarthy new faces. Ella Vitucci is the sole new face to the Eagles’ outfit, though Renee Forth returns for some extra experience, as does young gun Jaida Tabb from injury. Jess Good will need to step up again in her second game, taking on another secondary ruck for her side in Amie Blanden. Both have great talent and will thrive on the opportunity, whilst the likes of Alisha Gepp and Shineah Goody will go head-to-head in an awesome young battle through the middle. Jess Sedunary and Forth add that AFL Women’s experience for the Eagles, while Sturt will have to shuffle around the backline and hope the midfield of Isobel Kuiper and Elsie Dawes can control the tempo.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 27 @ 12:25pm
X Convenience Oval

West Adelaide will look to snap a two-game losing streak when it comes up against Central District on a three-game losing streak of its own. The Dogs are back at home, and in a tight competition are still only two wins off the top two. They will want to convert their almost-wins into victories however, making two confirmed changes with Laitiah Huynh and Madison Lane off to represent South Australia. The home team has named an extended bench with the likes of Emma Keys and Caitlin Wendland making their way into the side. The Bloods have lost four of their stars due to the Academy game and AFL Women’s, with Keeley Kustermann, Lauren Young and Zoe Venning all out of West Adelaide’s team, while Chelsea Biddell steps up to the Crows again. Bethany Sigley is in line to potentially make her debut, whilst Ailish Considine could replace Biddell as that experienced forward.

The Bulldogs will remain relatively stable to past weeks despite their two young talents out of the side, as captain Shelby Smith is in red-hot form with Caitlen Teague and Lauren Smith also having great games in past weeks. Up forward Katelyn Rosenzweig did not miss a beat after what looked like a bad injury two weeks ago, but turned up and impressed last round. Demi Sonneman has been a reliable force down back and will be important to limiting West’s scoring chances, with Kasia Culhane down there and Sharnie Whiting thrown forward as a target. Bec Owen and Zoe Greer make a strong midfield with Louella McCarthy and ruck Kate Walsh, in what will be a fascinating clash of midfields.

NORWOOD vs. GLENELG
Saturday, March 27 @ 12.30pm
Coopers Stadium

The new top of the table Redlegs will host an up-and-down Glenelg which now sits at 2-2 and only one win off the top two places. The Bays had a fantastic come-from-behind win over West Adelaide last week, whilst Norwood’s victory over North Adelaide handed them top spot. The Redlegs will be without young guns, Alana Lishmund and Jade Halfpenny who miss due to the Academy game, as well as Elizabeth Drake who is out due to a quad injury. Into the side comes Tesharna Maher alongside a couple of Morphettville Park and ex-Glenelg talents in Cammie Williams and Celestine Dona to make their debuts in the game. Rori Perryman could be a debutant for the Bays, coming into the side with Rachel Aistrope, Rhiley Ritchie, Milli Gentle and Sheridan Howell. They replace Academy players Brooke Tonon and Tamsyn Morriss, as well as Dayna Cox (Adelaide AFL Women’s) and Lucy Earl (injured).

Both sides still have very strong sides despite the omissions, with Mattea Breed named in the ruck with Leah Cutting at centre half-forward. Jess Macolino and Lana Schwerdt – the most recent Breakthrough Player of the Week – are in good form, whilst Ella Murison slotted two goals last week. Also in good form are the likes of Sam Franson, Emily Bates and Ellie Kellock in the yellow and black, whilst Piper Window has been consistent through the season and developing well, while Molly Affolter provides the height through the ruck and up forward. Norwood will be favourites in the game, but it should be a tight contest.

Picture credit: SANFL / Cory Sutton

2021 AFLW U19 Championships state preview: South Australia

IN the first of our 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships state preview, we take a look at South Australia, a team that has plenty of talent across the board and is growing stronger by the year. The Croweaters have developed such a talent program that squeezing a list down to just 30 players – let alone the finalised 24 by the first bounce of the championships – has meant that South Australia will go it alone as a state in 2021. For the first time at the championships, South Australia will no longer form the Central Allies and instead join Western Australia and Queensland as a standalone state team, alongside the two Victorian sides in Country and Metro, and the newly combined Allies side which has accommodated Northern Territory to join the Eastern Allies duo of NSW/ACT and Tasmania.

2021 SOUTH AUSTRALIA AFLW U19 CHAMPIONSHIPS SQUAD:

#1 Laitiah Huynh (Central District)
#2 Sarah Branford (Norwood)
#3 Kate Case (North Adelaide)
#4 Madison Lane (Central District)
#5 Lauren Breguet (Central District)
#6 Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide)
#7 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)
#8 Charlotte Dolan (WWT Eagles)
#9 Tahlita Buethke (South Adelaide)
#10 Zoe Prowse (Sturt)
#11 Zoe Venning (West Adelaide)
#12 Tamsyn Morriss (Glenelg)
#13 Hannah Ewings (North Adelaide)
#14 Amelie Borg (North Adelaide)
#15 Alana Lishmund (Norwood)
#16 Georgia Swan (Sturt)
#17 Scarlett Griffiths (West Adelaide)
#18 Jess Williams (Norwood)
#19 Alex Ballard (Sturt)
#20 Hannah Prenzler (Sturt)
#21 Lauren Clifton (South Adelaide)
#22 Tamika May (West Adelaide)
#23 Julia Clark (North Adelaide)
#24 Keeley Kustermann (West Adelaide)
#25 Jamie Parish (WWT Eagles)
#26 Sarah Wright (South Adelaide)
#27 Jorja Eldridge (North Adelaide)
#28 Jade Halfpenny (Norwood)
#29 Brooklyn Kraft (WWT Eagles)
#30 Lauren Young (West Adelaide)

QUICK SUMMARY:

South Australia has plenty of talent across the board, which has been steadily growing over the past few years. The make-up of the initial squad of 30, features 11 players who are in their top-age year (2002-born turning 19-year-olds), 15 players in their first draft-eligible year (2003-born turning 18-year-olds), three bottom-age players (2004-born turning 17-year-olds) and remarkably, one exceptional 15-year-old in West Adelaide’s Lauren Young. South Australia will cut its list down to 24 by the end of the week, but a number of cuts priors – as well as recent changes – have been guided by injury, such as Abbie Ballard, Abbey Hardwick and Jaida Tabb who were all viewed as developing talents to don the state guernsey. Recent injuries to Hannah Ewings and Brooklyn Kraft are also a concern with the championships rapidly approaching.

FIXTURES:

R1 vs. Western Australia (March 28 @ Flinders University Stadium)
R2 vs. Queensland (April 12 @ Metricon Stadium)
R3 vs. Allies (April 15 @ Metricon Stadium)

FIVE TO WATCH: (2003-BORN)

Zoe Prowse (Sturt)

The 177cm ruck is the fourth tallest player in the squad, and will carry the ruck load at the championships. With fellow ruck Kraft under an injury cloud, Prowse will have the responsibility of the state in the role, but it will be something she can easily handle. What stands out about Prowse is not just her athletic leap, but also her ground level work and speed around the ground. Having played more as a midfielder when another ruck is available for the Double Blues, Prowse highlights her versatility across the ground. Her second efforts at ground level – such as tackling opponents after making the tap is something that really stands outs, and the AFL Women’s Academy member is no doubt going to cause some worries for opposition rucks with her follow-up work.

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide)

The other AFL Women’s Academy member who was included in the Academy this year, Schirmer’s athletic traits – in particular her speed – are off the charts. She can go from zero to 100 in the blink of an eye, applying plenty of defensive pressure around the ground. Having plied her trade as a forward in her bottom-age year, Schirmer’s highlight-reel worthy marks and goals were soon accompanied by some fierce running and work rate on a wing in 2021. She still rotates between the two positions, and expect her to do so at the championships. She has a high footy IQ which she uses to create opportunities out of nothing, and at 178cm – and a lack of talls in the side – she could easily slot in as a key forward if required, then roll into the midfield and add that touch of speed and class.

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide)

Already one of the standout inside midfielders, Venning has an even bigger role crashing and bashing with Ewings out due to her ankle injury. The midfielder-forward won a Breakthrough Player nomination in Round 2 for the SANFL Women’s, and has enjoyed a really consistent season after showing promising signs in her bottom-age year. Whilst always looking to improve her skill, Venning has no fear and will throw herself at the contest and win the hard ball to shovel out to teammates. Like any good midfielder, Venning knows her way around goals too, and can play off half-forward or even rest at full-forward as a leading target. She is someone expected to have a real impact around the ball against the other states.

Madison Lane (Central)

The Bulldogs talent started her SANFL Women’s career as a forward and has transitioned into a rebounding defender, looking a natural back there with her slick skills and clean hands. She reads the ball well in flight and moves well, playing taller than her 162cm might suggest. She captained South Australia at Under 16s level, so has the state experience under her belt, and will be one of a number of talented rebounding defenders in the squad. With a high priority placed on hitting targets coming out of defence, expect Lane to be a player teammates look to get the ball in the hands of regularly.

Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)

Enjoying a purple patch at the perfect time leading into the championships, the speedy wing is finding plenty of the ball at League level. After making her debut last year for the Bays, Tonon has gone from playing deep at either end, to a certified midfielder, using her run and carry to advantage. She possesses a long kick and has a neat sidestep that she uses to evade opponents. Having notched up 20 touches on the weekend, she has no problems finding the ball, and she will be a player used in transition for her speed. Still lightly-built, Tonon attacks the contest hard and lays some fierce tackles.

OTHERS:

Georgia Swan is a pressure forward with elite endurance and a work rate to be enviable of that will work over opposition defender, whilst the likes of Alana Lishmund, Kate Case, Lauren Breguet and Lauren Clifton are all easily among the more consistent contributors for their League side. From a top-age perspective, the two most in-form players at SANFL Women’s level are Jade Halfpenny and Laitiah Huynh who will feature in the front half, while Alex Ballard and Hannah Prenzler are anticipated to do the same up the other end.

SQUAD STRENGTHS:

  • Defensive pressure
  • Speed
  • Rebounding defenders
  • Skill

South Australia will be an undoubtedly exciting unit, with the Croweaters’ defensive pressure, rebounding abilities and general skill across the board among the strengths of the side in comparison to other states. It will be exciting to see the likes of Huynh and Swan up forward roving the ball and creating some slick chances for their teammates, whilst up the other end, South Australia has an abundance of rebounding defender. Lane, Prenzler, Ballard, Lauren Clifton, Jamie Parish, Keeley Kustermann, Charlotte Dolan and Tamsyn Morriss can all play that role if required, with the likelihood through the the versatile Ballard and Dolan will play through the midfield, and Parish capable of even going forward. In terms of skill, Lane and Huynh have been using the ball terrifically of late, Morriss is known for her pinpoint passes, and Prenzler and Kustermann are also amongst the most balanced players running around.

In terms of areas where South Australia might struggle, height is definitely a question mark, with a number of midfielders – such as Young and Schirmer – more likely to play key position roles at times. With Kraft’s injury it leaves Prowse as the dedicated ruck – and what a number one ruck to have – which will mean Jorja Eldridge who returned to the SANFL Women’s last weekend, will step up as the second ruck role at 173cm. Halfpenny is traditional a key forward and will likely stay there given this conundrum, but did have an impressive game through the midfield on the weekend.

LAST WORD:

South Australia will be an exciting team to watch, there is no doubt about that. They have plenty of footy IQ, defensive pressure and skill, with an abundance of defenders likely to cause headaches for opposition states. If they had a full-strength side – no injuries – to pick from, then the team would be even stronger, but the depth of the state is very good, and all eyes will be on the youngest player at the carnival – Young – who has already made waves at League level.

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s Round 4

IT was a tight round of South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s action in Round 4, and we took a look at the State Academy players once again in what was their last preparation ahead of the first AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships match against Western Australia next Sunday. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

WWT EAGLES vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT

By: Peter Willams

Eagles:

#8 Charlotte Dolan

Attacked the contest hard throughout the four quarters and is always heavily involved with the umpires both ways; receiving free kicks for getting to the ball first and being tackled high, then going overzealous with a tackle herself and giving one away. You know exactly where to find her – at the bottom of a pack, on top of an opponent or ready to receive the ball in close. Throughout the match she showed good strength to run the ball in transition and drove the ball inside 50 on a number of occasions, having a purple patch early in the fourth term, as well as showing clean hands at ground level.

#25 Jamie Parish

Winning the ball at both half-forward and half-back, showed off her versatility which will come in handy at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. She had strong hands to clunk grabs around the ground and is quick to dispose of the ball, such as when she was close to the boundary line on the wing, five minutes into the third team.

Central:

#40 Madison Lane

Having a great season in 2021, the rebounding defender has found her niche in defence with clean hands, good footy IQ and clean kicking out of the back half. She did have a moment to forget when giving away a 50m penalty for not handing the ball back sooner in the second term resulting an opposition goal, but otherwise had a superb performance. Time and time again she would mop up for her side, show a clean pair of heels, pick up the ball at full speed and deliver to a free teammate at half-back or down the wing. She put up a four-quarter performance and was one of the Bulldogs’ best on the day.

#41 Laitiah Huynh

The small forward might not have had the impact she has in past weeks, but kept working hard throughout the four quarters. Huynh had a few almost-moments with an almost-grab at half-forward early in the match, then burst out of a pack inside 50 but was run down. Throw in a terribly unlucky bounce early in the fourth term, and the luck was not on her side. However in saying that, her defensive pressure all day was still red-hot and she had a good final term with quick hands and tracking an opponent at half-forward to force a turnover. Another highlight came late in the first term when an opponent attempted to fend her off but she denied that and locked up the ball in a tackle.

 

WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG

By: Peter Williams

West Adelaide:

#8 Keeley Kustermann

Played an aggressive running game off half-back and along the wing with quick disposal and using her lovely long kicking to advantage. Possessing a penetrating kick and great balance on either side, Kustermann routinely beat her opponent to the ball and would either win, or nullify the contest. The bottom-age talent was utilised kicking out of defence, and then in the third term had a number of long kicks from the top of 50 deep to the danger zone to try and create scoring opportunities in the second half.

#9 Zoe Venning

Stringing together a really good 2021 season, Venning was once again very prominent for the Bloods throughout four quarters. A fierce inside midfielder who has the capacity to spread to the outside and get it forward, she packs a punch by throwing herself at the hard ball and shovelling it out to teammates. She won a free kick late in the first term, and with no one on the mark ran to 55m out and delivered perfectly to Lauren Young inside 50 for a goal. She read the ball well in flight 11 minutes into the second term and read it off hands well midway through the third to snap inside 50 off a stoppage, as some of her other highlights for the match.

#30 Lauren Young

After dominating in the air in defence in Round 1 – whilst still playing as a midfielder – and then racking up big numbers through the middle the last two weeks, it was only natural for the 179cm 15-year-old to go forward and slot three majors to desperately try and haul her side over the line. Still roaming through the middle and just finding the right spots in the forward 50, she kicked two goals in six minutes in the opening term with a strong mark and set shot 20m out, then a free kick 15m out to give her team a perfect start. Just as Glenelg was getting on top with momentum, Young bobbed up again with another contested mark four minutes into the final term to put the Bloods back in front by six points. She also had her fair share of touches around the ground and would pump it out of defensive 50 throughout the match too.

Glenelg:

#7 Brooke Tonon

Has really developed into a consistent midfielder running on the outside and accumulating the ball with ease. While at times she can rush, when she knows she has the time and space, she can take the game on, break it open and gain some serious meterage. Her sidestepping and ability to get out of trouble is a treat, and despite being lightly-built compared to some opponents, just lays fierce tackles. As versatile as they come, able to play in all thirds of the ground.

#12 Tamsyn Morriss

Had another solid outing with her consistent foot skills and reading of the play on show. She worked hard on the last line, and provided defensive pressure such as a big tackle on Chelsea Biddell early in the match to force a stoppage, and then a potential match-winning effort on the goal-line to go back at speed, cleanly grab the ball before it bounced through and kicked clear.

 

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE

By: Peter Williams

Norwood:

#15 Alana Lishmund

Quickly got involved in the contest with a kick out of midfield 35 seconds into the game, and then dropped back to help out the defence with a nice kick to half-back. In the second term she did well in a one-on-one contested at half-forward to force the ball to ground, then laid a big dumping tackle early in the final term. She showed her strength midway through the fourth quarter by wrestling the ball out of an opponents’ grasp and got her boot to ball.

#22 Jade Halfpenny

The versatile forward found herself inside the centre square at the start of each quarter and spent substantial time up the ground around the stoppages. Despite being known for her forward leading and strength overhead, Halfpenny was just as influential around the ball and took to it with ease, having played in the midfield before, but this was an increased role. She was able to utilise her speed and athleticism in the first term, bursting out of the stoppages and kicking inside 50. Whilst she was still able to go forward and have an impact, there were a number of highlights to point out throughout the match. Her best was her goal in the fifth minute where she competed against two defenders, smothered an opponent, kept tracking it and ran into an open goal to seal the deal for the Redlegs. She also did well 10 minutes into the third term where she shrugged off a would-be tackler, spun out and was tackled again but got her hands free well to the outnumber. Usually a player whose impact is far greater than her stats, her Round 4 performance was no different.

North Adelaide:

#33 Julia Clark

Had a really impressive game, arguably her best of the season, and maybe SANFL Women’s career. She still brought the heat with her tackling pressure, but it was her work rate and ability to push up and down the ground and win more of the ball than previous matches, whilst showing composure under pressure which all stood out. Clark always puts her head over the ball and tries to run in space to create some movement in transition, and whilst she will always be tough to beat one-on-one, Clark showed her offensive traits to match her defensive ones.

#38 Kate Case

A quieter game for the smooth mover who still worked around the ground but could just not quite get into the action. Had a couple of important touches and in the 15th minute of the final term went up for a mark, could not quite bring it down but showed good recovery to handball to a teammate.

#47 Jorja Eldridge

Returning to the Roosters side for her first game in 2021, Eldridge played in close and helped chop out in the ruck. She was undersized at the ruck stoppages, but is able to use her strength to move her opponent, whilst her second efforts – which included a tackle at ground level after losing the tap – was what helped provide a “fourth midfielder” there. She showed good defensive pressure and laid some strong tackles, as well as quick hands at ground level.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT

By: Liam Badkin

South Adelaide:

#1 Tahlita Buethke

Had a strong game and particularly strong last quarter. Took two intercept marks in the final term when Sturt was trying to create some run out of its backline. Put her head over the ball in multiple contests and was rewarded for doing so.

#5 Sarah Wright

Played her role well throughout all four quarters. She was reliable by foot whenever she had the ball and would be pleased with her three rebound 50’s as she created some run for her teammates.

#36 Gypsy Schimer

Did not have too much of the ball, but did not need to as she was damaging whenever she got it. Used her pace brilliantly out of the backline and seemed to be always creating for her team. Absolutely crunching an opponent during a bump in the last quarter proved a particular highlight.

#41 Lauren Clifton

A quiet day but had her moments. Found herself involved in play even when she did not have the ball in her hands.

Sturt:

#3 Georgia Swan

Had an absolute field day, racking up a season-best 20 disposals. She was electric around the stoppages and took excellent marks in the air. Used her explosiveness to hurt the opposition and create opportunities for her teammates. Did her work on the defensive end too, laying four tackles for the day.

#19 Alex Ballard

Was fantastic in the defensive half, using the ball well and taking a game-high seven marks to go with her 13 disposals. Constantly tried to create for Sturt in the last term, even though the ball was constantly being sent back in. Took on her opponent on the mark on multiple occasions in some exciting passages.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

Was crucial in driving the ball out of Sturt’s backline, finishing with an equal game-high five rebound 50’s from her ten disposals. Consistently found herself in space and worked well in tandem with her backline teammates to rebound the ball out of defence.

#30 Zoe Prowse

Faced a tough task against Montana McKinnon, and did not get her usual amount of hitouts, but was exceptional at ground level. Finished with 10 disposals and four clearances as she tormented her opponents with her follow up work after the ruck contest. Spent time as an on-baller and was explosive out of the stoppages.

 

Picture credit: SANFL / Peter Swan

SANFLW Academy Ones to Watch: North Adelaide and Norwood

IN the second of four SANFL Women’s Ones to Watch, we take a look at those North Adelaide and Norwood players inside the South Australian Under-19 State Academy, and what they could offer to their club.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

Kate Case
Forward | Top-ager

A real lively player with plenty of upside, Case is a danger inside 50 and complements an already strong outfit. She is able to find the space and create scoring opportunities, and in 2021 with a lot of the Roosters’ experience heading back to the AFL Women’s, Case has a chance to step up and become a crucial cog in the forward half, and even push up and impact the midfield when required. There will be plenty of ball going inside 50, so Case can use her goal nous to be a consistent scorer.

Julia Clark
Defender/Forward | Over-ager

Having been played at both ends, Clark prefers defence where she can read the ball coming in and nullify her opponent. Building her confidence over time, Clark has the attacking streak in her, but is strong defensively, and often locks down on her opponent to take them out of the game. She uses the ball well and makes good decisions, and once she is able to build on her efforts in 2020, the reliable distributor will be a key chain out of the back 50 for the reigning premiers.

Jorja Eldridge
Utility | Over-ager

A country talent who forced her way into the Roosters outfit last season, Eldridge hails from Whyalla and showed in her glimpses that she could compete at the top level. Much like the other young guns running round in the red and white, Eldridge could have much more of an impact in season 2021. She told Draft Central last year about her move to Adelaide ahead of this year for study, and it will reduce the travel as well as continue to build on her fundamental skills to match her fantastic athletic ability.

Hannah Ewings
Midfielder | Bottom-ager

The reigning SANFL Women’s Rising Star is the best young talent in the competition and a name which will continue to rise once the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships are here. Boasting ridiculous talents of athleticism, skill and smarts, Ewings showed since making her debut at 15-years-old that she can compete against players twice her age. Having started forward and then rolled through the midfield, Ewings has high X-factor, a booming kick and is incredibly strong overhead. She can burst out of a stoppage, shrug off opponents and then create goal-scoring opportunities out of nothing. Still not at her draft-eligible year, Ewings will become the key playmaker in the midfield with Anne Hatchard and other Crows spending more time at AFL Women’s level.

Andie Zbierski
Defender | Over-ager

Another Whyalla prospect in the Academy alongside Eldridge and Ewings, Zbierski was able to play in the All-Stars match last season. Whilst travel and injuries have been a challenge for the now over-ager, she is looking to impact at SANFL Women’s level this year after not yet cracking in for a debut. She is a natural defender, and will add more talent to a back six that was already stingy in last year’s premiership tilt.

NORWOOD:

Sarah Branford
Midfielder | Top-ager

Formerly a train-on soccer player with Adelaide United, the talented teenage star is one who is making waves in the preseason according to new coach Mat Creeper. He said speaking to SANFL Radio, she was looking to play midfield and hone her craft in there following a decision to take up Australian rules football. She is a new face who could slot in to a midfield that has added more youth over the past couple of seasons.

Jade Halfpenny
Forward | Over-ager

A tall marking forward with clean hands, Halfpenny is one who showed plenty of potential in her top-age year last year. A former basketballer who has taken to the oblong-ball game like a duck to water, she is someone who could play at either end, or push up into the midfield. Halfpenny said chatting to Draft Central last season that she was keen to improve “everything”, there is plenty of scope for improvement from the teenager who could be a key target for the Redlegs in 2021.

Alana Lishmund
Utility | Top-ager

The Redlegs most impressive top-ager, Lishmund played in the All-Stars game last year as a bottom-ager. She can play forward or through the midfield, but has the traits to play anywhere on the ground and is a real X-factor inside 50. She has a fierce attack on the football with high tackling numbers, and is just looking to maintain her one-percenters. Likely to gain some more midfield minutes in 2021, expect the left-footer to use her pace and skill to impact games for extended periods of time.

Jess Williams
Forward | Top-ager

A member of the Port Adelaide Female Talent Next Generation Academy, Williams is one to watch this year looking to step up to senior level in 2021, though is currently recovering from a medial collateral ligament (MCL) injury. Playing for Hectorville Football Club, Williams plays primarily as an inside midfielder who can also go forward with a great blend of power and skill in her game.

Picture credit: AFL Media

SANFLW season preview: North Adelaide

FOR the first time in the clubs history, the North Adelaide Women will enter the fresh campaign with targets on their backs, having won every match en route to premiership glory last season. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 crisis threatening to derail pre-season preparations, coach Krissie Steen is confident the Roosters squad has what it takes to defend their crown.

“Pre-season has been pretty good,” said Steen. “We lost about five weeks of pre-season around Christmas (due to COVID regulations), but we (North Adelaide) have a really strong coaching and high performance panel. So although COVID had a big impact on the pre-season, it’s still been a positive one.”

The club was tasked with the challenging task of replacing ten players from their premiership-winning side in the off-season, headlined by Ashleigh Woodland (drafted by Adelaide), Katelyn Pope, Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci (all of whom signed on with West Coast).

However undoubtedly the biggest void will be left by midfield ball-magnet Anne Hatchard, who is set to spend the bulk of the season at AFLW level with the Crows. Hatchard was a joint-recipient of the SANFLW best and fairest award last season, sharing the honour with West Adelaide star Rachelle Martin. She also won the Crows club champion award and was named best on ground in the SANFLW Grand Final, collecting an impressive 34 disposals, eight tackles and seven clearances.

“We certainly have work to do,” Steen said of the absences. “Losing 10 players from the Grand Final team is hard but we loose players to AFLW clubs every season. It happens just about every year, so we’ll be fine.”

Given the high turnover the squad has endured over the off-season, Steen said it hasn’t been difficult to keep players motivated following the successes of last year.

“Half of them are new, so the motivation is already there,” said Steen. “Last season we won just about every individual award so its hard to replicate or improve on that, but it’s more about looking for individual improvement. “We have to keep improving and make a commitment to consistently be better.”

Steen identified new recruit Tayla Thorne and prominent half-back Erin Sundstrom as being amongst several standout performers throughout the pre-season.

“The usual suspects have been impressive,” added Steen. “Katelyn PopeLauren Daniel and Cristie Castle have been great for us for a couple of seasons now.”

Steen also heaped praise upon dangerous forward Kelly Barltrop, who was unlucky to be left out of last seasons Grand Final side. One of the SANFLW’s most productive forwards, Barltrop kicked 26 goals in 2019 and was simply an unfortunate victim of North Adelaide’s incredible strength last year.

“Kelly responded to the call very well,” said Steen. “She’s gotten to work and looks to be in the best shape of her career. She looks super fit and that’s a real credit to her resilience, for not dropping her head and instead looking to use it as motivation for this season.”

The Roosters also have an array of young talent on the list ready to step up and impact consistently at the top level. The list of talented youngsters includes bottom-ager Hannah Ewings, top-ager Kate Case, and a host of developing over-agers in Julia Clark, Jorja Eldridge and Andie Zbierski.

The Roosters will commence their title defence with a Grand Final re-match against arch-rivals South Adelaide under lights at Cooper Stadium on February 26. The club has been slated to play three home and away matches at their Prospect Oval home ground in 2021.

Picture credit: SANFL / Deb Curtis

Successful basketballer Eldridge focuses on footy

FORMER national representative basketball player, Jorja Eldridge made a decision last year to give up years of basketball and focus on an Aussie rules career. The talented baller had been playing since she was 11-years-old and represented the South Australian state country team on five occasions, then went to a national championship a further three times. Despite this, Eldridge realised the lack of opportunities in the sport and went down a different path.

“In the middle of last year, the middle of 2019, was my last national tournament as a top-age under 18 player,” Eldridge said. “So from there, there’s not too many opportunities from basketball. “Other than like the under 20 state team, which includes SA country and metro. “But from there, I kind of fell out of love with the game and then, yeah, one of my mates was just like, ‘Oh, do you wanna come trial for this football? like, play in a Whyalla combined girls’ team?’. “So I did that. “And then yeah, from there, I loved it. I got more into the system, I have just been getting better from then.”

While her decision to change codes was one thing, playing at a North Adelaide Under 17 girls carnival in Port Augusta in August last year was another. The Roosters liked what they saw and Eldridge slotted into the youth side.

“I played in the Under 17 North Adelaide team in 2019 mainly as a centre half-back and then I was selected in the Under 18s state squad and ended up being in the M36 before COVID happened,” she said. “Then I was also travelling for the women’s North Adelaide team. “But from there, I made the train-on squad and then moved up into the squad during the COVID time. “And then the shut down of the SANFL season happens. “But then when it came back, I actually debuted in Round 5 in 2020 and also played in Round 6.”

Whilst she might have had a lack of senior experience heading into the season, Eldridge worked hard during the COVID-19 pandemic break to earn a debut and finish with two games playing for the undefeated Roosters in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s.

Yeah, honestly, it was quite a surprise to me,” Eldridge said of her selection. “But I did work extremely hard in the COVID off-season time, because I thought I might as well try as best as I can. “And then even if I didn’t get a game, I was planning on moving to Adelaide next year and hoping to get more into it. “Then from that Krissie (Steen, North Adelaide coach)… I got a FaceTime call from North Adelaide on a Wednesday night when they were announcing the team and yeah I made the team for my first game, so that was pretty exciting for me.”

Travelling from Whyalla to Adelaide is around a four-hour drive, something that is never easy. Luckily for Eldridge, she had supportive parents and they had familiarised themselves with the drive due to the teenager’s basketball commitments.

“It definitely has that drive that will kill you, and especially when I was playing basketball, my national trainings were actually at Murray Bridge. So that was even further,” Eldridge said. “We had to go, but then because of the basketball, my parents were used to doing that. “So then they were more than happy to do that with football as well. “So even though I’ve got my licence and I am 18 they’re still taking me down because they love it. “Just as much as I do.”

While Eldridge had made a decision that the 2019 basketball season would be her last, she decided to still take to the floor for one last dance prior to her big move to the capital city.

I actually wasn’t going to (play another season),” Eldridge said. “So when I was playing football, I was just playing football. “I did play netball locally but if I ever like the two games I played (clashed), I just missed out on playing netball that weekend. “But I wasn’t going to play another season of basketball. “But it’s just recently started, and I am playing one last season before I moved to Adelaide next year. “But that’s that’s just at a local level. “That’s not anything higher.”

Basketball has also helped Eldridge adapt to football with a number of different traits she was able to transition from the court to the field.

“My strength, I would say as, like, my agility, my athleticism and my speed and I actually do have good hand-eye coordination as well,” Eldridge said. “So I’m able to use those skills that I’ve developed over the years to then put that into it Just the football aspect. “It is a different knowledge of the game. “Definitely there are some parts of similar like, but basically like in defence, if you’re like man on man or, if you like, in zone like, it’s kinda similar. “But yeah, it’s definitely some things that I mean to keep looking into more for football to strengthen my knowledge of the game.”

For Eldridge, the COVID-19 pandemic put her new footy career on hold for a while, and while she admitted it was “difficult” during that time, she was determined to make the most of the time off and come back better than ever.

It was probably harder for the girls who started off playing in the season because I didn’t have my game until after the COVID break,” Eldridge said. “However, we still did zoom calls with Krissie and the strength and conditioning coaches and we had our road running and strength programs made up that we still had to continue with and I think that’s why I did get a run because I followed through with those schedules and what she wanted us to do. “And I worked closely on my skills and yeah, I think I have definitely improved my fundamental skills over the course of that time as well.”

The debutant said while she was new to the sport and did not have a huge inspiration from a football perspective, she admired the likes of Tayla Harris and Erin Phillips. As for her journey, she could not be more grateful for the path she had taken, and owed it to a number of people and clubs who had supported her along the way.

“I would also like to thank North Adelaide, particularly Sambo (Emma Sampson) and Krissie for the amazing opportunities they’ve given me. “When I actually couldn’t go down and train with North Adelaide, I was luckily enough to train with the Roopena football club in Whyalla. “And then my local club, my family club was North Whyalla who actually sponsored me for the 2020 season of North Adelaide.”

Eldridge is currently studying her Certificate IV in Fitness as she aspires to become a personal trainer. By making the move to Adelaide, she will extend her knowledge in the area by studying exercise physiology. But the additional benefit of the move would be closer to Prospect Oval where she can focus on her football and trying to cement herself in the side each week.

“Next year, I’m wanting to really concentrate on getting in every game in the SANFLW like in the North Adelaide team. and from there, I’ll see where it takes me,” Eldridge said. “But I would really love to play in the AFLW whether that’s starting the end of next year. “So the start of the 2022 seasons or maybe it might be a little bit longer because I’m still only new to playing.”

Picture: AFL Media