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