Tag: krissie steen

Versatile Eldridge continues to “find her feet”

WITH only a couple of years of Australian football experience under her belt, North Adelaide utiltiy Jorja Eldridge has had plenty of learning to do in a short space of time. The 19-year-old Whyalla native hails from an ever-fabled basketball background, but committed to football last year and eventually cracked a very strong Roosters side in 2020, as a train-on player.

Eldridge played two SANFL Women’s games last year and added the same amount in 2021, while also earning a spot in South Australia’s Under 19 National Championships squad. Having moved down to Adelaide and taken up a part-time receptionist job at the club, she says she is now starting to “find [her] feet”.

“This season I’ve moved to Adelaide and I trained way more with North Adelaide in pre-season and in-season, so that’s helped me a lot,” Eldridge said.

“At the moment I’m studying exercise and sports science at university and I’m currently working as a casual receptionist at North Adelaide Football Club as well, so that’s taking up most of my time on top of football training.”

Having spent plenty of time around the club, Eldridge has also been able to lean on some key mentors and develop her own craft as a player who can impact across multiple positions. The 173cm prospect said she hadn’t “done too badly” once selected for North in Round 4, and in her three Under 19 carnival outings.

Krissie Steen (North Adelaide coach) told me I just need to keep running, so my sprint efforts are most important to improve on,” she said. “I’ve actually had a new position this season which was being a back-up ruck for North Adelaide, rotating forward and on-ball. With that I feel that I’ve had to develop my skills a lot more, going through the midfield and getting it into the forwardline as well.

“My mentor at North Adelaide has definitely (Steen)… she’s basically been my only coach for football so she has definitely helped me along my journey. Kristi Harvey has definitely taken me under her wing and showed me the ropes. Then obviously at a higher level, the likes of Anne Hatchard (are) really good with younger girls and other players, they’re really inspiring.”

A supporter of the Crows’ AFLW team, Eldridge looks towards Hatchard and Melbourne forward Tayla Harris for inspiration on her own game. While there are still areas for improvement, the talented multi-sport athlete has also been able to transfer some handy traits over from other codes.

“A strength of mine is that I’m able to really use my body well,” Eldridge said. “From a basketball and netball perspective, I’ve had to grow up with the one-on-one body contact and finding the player. I do struggle sometimes with finding my player in defence because I like to zone off and intercept the ball, but then coming to football it’s a bit harder to do that.

“Around the ground stoppages and in the ruck are definitely my strengths (too), and I’ve got pretty good distance on my kick.”

With the AFLW currently holding expansion talks, more and more South Australian prospects like Eldridge are well poised to get the chance to showcase their development at the highest level in years to come.

Running Clark eyes constant improvement

NOTING her steep improvement from her 18th to 19th years, North Adelaide’s Julia Clark is always looking to add strings to her bow. The South Australian state representative at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships has developed through the pathway, and, under the watchful eye of North Adelaide coach Krissie Steen and Adelaide Crows star onballer Anne Hatchard, Clark has really worked hard on her game.

“There’s been quite a few,” Clark said of her mentors.” My parents, school teachers, yeah lots of different people. I think inside of footy, definitely Krissie Steen, my North Adelaide coach at the moment has been a big motivator for me.”

The Adelaide fan has benefited from having Hatchard around the club, with the Crows midfielder sharing the 2020 SANFL Women’s Best and Fairest award in the split season last year. An astute watcher of both the women’s and men’s games, Clark said she draws inspirations from both competitions.

“Anne Hatchard. Her running is great,” Clark said. “Then in Round 1 of the AFL I watched the Carlton game and I really liked Adam Saad’s game and I based my Round 3 game off him. “He really inspired me that round.”

Clark’s football journey started six years ago, and the defensive utility stepped up from the Roosters’ juniors to the senior side, where she played in the North Adelaide premiership last year. Fast forward to 2021, and Clark was one of a number of 19-year-old talents to earn a place for South Australia.

“So I started in 2015 in the Under 14 North Adelaide junior program and then from there I went onto Hope Valley in 2016 and then continued through North and now I’m at state, which is cool,” Clark said. “My goal for this year was just to play better than I did last year, and I came out in the first three rounds and I absolutely felt like I was doing that pretty great. “I was really happy with how I was playing.”

Clark regards her strength as being able to run up the ground, work hard and support her teammates, something she is always looking to improve on to maximise her running capacity. Having played predominantly as a defender in past years, Clark moved further up the ground this season, which is a role she enjoyed adding to her CV.

“I have been training a bit everywhere actually,” Clark said. “I think I’ve mainly been on the wing and in defence. “I enjoy both I think. “I feel a lot, I get the ball a lot more on the wing, but I definitely enjoy the backline as well.”

Whilst her football is coming along nicely, Clark is also heavily focused on her studies, which she balances with her sporting commitments.

“I am at uni studying mechanical engineering and that’s a big chunk of it at the moment,” Clark said. “So just trying to push through that at the moment with footy is a struggle but I’m getting there.”

Case eyes confidence boost to take game to another level

NORTH Adelaide’s Kate Case is a self-proclaimed hard worker and defensively-minded talent who can play across multiple lines. Now the versatile utility admits to take her game to the next level, she will need to learn to back herself more often and even put out a ‘don’t argue’ or two in the process.

“I think something I’m really looking to improve on is to try and take the game on a bit more,” Case said. “I think I have potential to be able to get the ball and run a bit more, but I have to build the confidence to take it on and maybe do a fend-off, and then maybe pinpointing kicks and things like that.”

Case’s football journey “started a while ago” when she was much younger, but the 18-year-old also teamed up her football with netball and it was not until a chance opportunity at school that the South Australian took the first steps towards making the State team.

“I did a bit of Auskick but then I started netball quite young instead and played for a while and then my high school PE teacher suggested that I tryout for Under 15s State Football and I luckily enough got in,” Case said. “So my first ever real game of football was the Under 15s State game. “Just went through and played the underage SANFL which led to trying out for the women’s and went into those seasons and it’s all sort of got to here now.”

Representing South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Case averaged 10.3 disposals and 4.3 marks, working hard up and down the ground to provide an option in transition.

Case said she felt more comfortable in herself and her role within the reigning premiers side, though her areas of improvement were strong on her mind. She credits coach Krissie Steen with her development of late, saying “she really inspires me to be a better footballer and a better person”. As for her role on field, Case loves the open space of the wing.

“I like wing, it’s my favourite position, it’s a lot of gut running and unrewarded running but I still enjoy that,” she said. “Backline, I like pressure acts and things like that over a forward, so I think really supporting teammates whether it’s through gut running or getting there to put a block on or pressure acts.”

It is no surprise that Case enjoys playing an aggressive brand of football and said she likes to model her improvement on a Crows star for not only what she does with the ball, but without it too.

“I think a player I really look up to and enjoy watching is Chelsea Randall because that’s with the pressure and so courageous, puts her body on the line, gets to every contest and works really, really hard. I want to base my game on the work rate and courageousness,” Case said.

Right now juggling a football career, Case has plenty on her plate between studying and looking to join the army.

“I’m at uni currently, I’m hoping to become a physiotherapist,” Case said. “Footy is pretty busy so I’m just doing that, and applied for the Army Reserves and hoping to get into that. Just working and footy, just pushing along.”

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

Clark dares greatly and follows coach’s mantra to Roosters’ flag

NORTH Adelaide’s Julia Clark by her own admission is quieter than most and despite being told of her abilities and how she can influence a game, Clark was just happy to play her role in 2019. She was happy to do her bit each week as the Roosters reached the grand final, only to fall to reigning premiers South Adelaide. Fast forward 12 months (and a little more thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic) and Clark is instead on the winning end of a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider.

“Yeah it was amazing,” Clark said of the premiership. “I learnt a lot in this season. “Last year was good, but this season I’ve learnt so much and I guess the feelings at trainings was always intense, but it was always good fun. “You always got something out of it, and being around such talented people and having to work harder than I had to work last year just to get into the team every week just really pushed me beyond where I thought I could go.”

Clark said the 2019 grand final loss was a motivating factor for the team in 2020, but said she personally felt she did all she could in that loss. However it was not until master coach Krissie Steen arrived at Prospect Oval that Clark noticed a massive difference in her game.

“Yeah I think definitely for the team it was a big motivator, especially as most of them had lost the finals the year before that and the year before that as well,” Clark said. “I think I was very tentative last season and I just sort of played my role and what I was told to do. “I didn’t really do anything extra, so when it came to the Grand Final knowing it would be my last game of the season, I think I just threw it all out there and personally I think that was my best game.

“So I came out of that loss not feeling bad personally, but knowing that I wanted to work extra hard this year and I think with Krissie’s mentality and really emphasing ‘Dare Greatly’ that really changed my thinking around how my season went last year and how I didn’t do that and what I wanted to put into my season this year.”

Indeed, it was Steen that gave the teenager confidence to take the game on and back herself in her role playing in defence.

“Yeah I think as I said before I’ve learnt so much and I think it’s all because of her (Steen). “It’s great having a female in that role and just like she knows what she’s talking about and you always know that she’s right and she also knows what’s right for you personally and as a team. “If something goes wrong, she can blame herself and I think just vulnerability and you don’t shy away from mistakes, you just focus on the next time you have to do something and just being better.”

Rewinding back a few years, Clark came through the pathway and was always involved with the Roosters in some capacity, and then got the call-up to make her debut in 2019 and has hardly missed a beat since.

I think my first real taste of footy was at North Adelaide in the Under 14s comp,” Clark said. “The four-game comp. “And that was in 2015 and then in 2016 I went out to Hope Valley because they were the closest club with a girls team and I played Under 16s for one season there and then we managed to get a team in Broadview which is my local suburb. “From there, I kept playing the North juniors in the coming years and I kept getting nominated for the North juniors once that started happening and then went from there.”

Like many young girls, Clark came from a netball background, but once she switched into footy, she loved it and the challenges associated with it, particularly playing in defence.

I think coming from netball, I think it was just a lot more freedom playing footy and it was something new that I just got to run wherever I wanted and just a whole lot of freedom,” Clark said. “There’s so many things to keep improving on and I just like the challenge of it.

“I definitely find defence at the higher levels a bit easier to cope with than forward. “In the local league (playing) forward’s alright, but back is definitely more natural in my head in the higher levels anyway.”

Clark rates her composure with ball-in-hand and decision making as amongst her best traits. Whilst not a massive accumulator, she does not make too many mistakes and is one player that can be relied upon to hit targets out there. She positions herself well in defence, and said she is just hoping to build even greater confidence to take the game on more, and back herself with tackling and growing her overall fitness base.

While Clark’s side did finish the 2020 season undefeated, the defender admitted it was not until the final few seconds of the grand final that she knew her team had it in the bag.

“Maybe a few seconds before the siren went,” Clark said. “But definitely when there was still time left in that last quarter, it was very tense and it was mainly after the siren where you could sort of relax and just celebrate.”

Clark has been in the South Australian State Academy the last two seasons, and it has also been a huge factor in building her confidence.

“It’s been really good,” Clark said. “I think I’m very harsh on myself and I think sometimes I need to remind myself I am a good player and I think the State Academy really helps you realise how good you and how good all the other people around you are. “It’s just amazing to have friends and get up to this level.”

As the SANFL Women’s season usually finishes in May, Clark headed back to her local club last year to maintain fitness and work on areas of her game to be fit and firing for the 2020 season.

“Coming off last season after North Adelaide I went back to Broadview and just wanted to build up my confidence again and coming back to North this year I wanted to take my fitness which is how I maintained place in the team last season,” Clark said. “I just brought that in this season and just really tried to keep my confidence up and with Krissie’s mentality of ‘Daring Greatly’ I just had to push myself every training and every trial game just to make sure I was confident and made sure I was outside of my comfort zone than I was last year. 

“Think in future, definitely keeping my confidence up and building my confidence to keep daring and using my voice more and trusting myself more is what I’m aiming to do in the future.”

Rather than another individual, it is Clark’s internal determination that has spurred her on to follow the pathway and chase her dream of playing at the elite level.

“I think my drive has always been that, I’m pretty good at a lot of things and so when I find something challenging, my mentality that I have to master it,” she said. “I have to do everything I can to do everything to be the best I can at it. “So I think that internal drive is what keeps pushing me to keep going and get better and better.”

SANFL Women’s season review: North Adelaide

NORTH Adelaide is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and how their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 1st
Wins: 12
Losses: 0
Draws: 0

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

Perfect. There is no other way to realistically put it. North Adelaide had an unblemished season with a 12-0 record and earning the minor premiership, and then the real thing with back-to-back wins over incumbents South Adelaide in the qualifying final and grand final. The victory was a role reversal from the year before, and whilst Krissie Steen‘s chargers had their challenges throughout the year, the Roosters met every challenge and deserved the premiership.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Amber Ward

An over-age defender with great hands and a booming kick, Ward showed she is well in contention to be drafted this year after receiving an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation. Often stationed at centre half-back, Ward was a reliable figure back there, combining well with teammate Kristi Harvey as the anchors in the defensive 50.

Cristie Castle

A sneaky forward who could push up the ground, Castle could hit the scoreboard or set up scoring opportunities for her teammates. She generally used it pretty well in the forward half of the ground and always looked damaging when the ball was in her vicinity. Providing good defensive pressure as well, Castle was a strong team player.

Erin Sundstrom

Joined the Roosters this season coming back from Queensland and provided good dash coming out of defence. She possesses a long kick and was able to get them out of trouble on a number of occasions, and provided an extra intercepting target in the air back there.

Julia Clark

A versatile small who could play at either end, Clark has established herself in the Roosters best side over the past two years playing nearly every game. She played a role in defence for the grand final and is a top-ager who has developed well in the system.

Ashleigh Woodland

Won the league’s goalkicking and showed she is a class above at state level. Is one who spent a season on Melbourne’s AFL Women’s list and was one of four players to earn an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite. She is strong above her head, an accurate kick for goal, and able to hit targets around the ground and play through the midfield, or even in defence.

Kristi Harvey

A rock on the last line, Harvey nullified opposition forwards whilst providing aerial strength to intercept and pump the ball out of the back 50. Did not mind getting into the ear of opposition forwards, and left nothing out on the ground with her attack on the ball, re-establishing herself as one of the most reliable defenders in the competition this season.

Katelyn Pope

Possessing some serious wheels, Pope’s ability to take the game on and break the lines really made a point of difference for the Roosters this season. Often playing off a wing or drifting at half-forward, Pope could beat anyone in a foot race and if she got goalside, it was almost game over for any opponent. She could hit the scoreboard or set others up in a really impressive year.

Jorja Eldridge

Played a couple of games this year for the Roosters coming from the country area in Whyalla with a basketball background. She has versatility to play at either end and showed good development being able to crack into the Roosters side given the strength of the unit.

Rayne Rivalland

A developing talent with a year left until she turns 18, Rivalland will no doubt feature more often next season as a rebounding defender who can be switched forward if required. She has some good athleticism and takes the game on, reading the ball well in flight based on her All-Stars game.

Lauren Gauci

Rounded out the back six nicely and added a point of difference as that smaller runner who was a reliable executor by hand or foot. She looked to shoot a dagger down the wing or open up the game, and did take the game on from time to time as well. Provided good offence while being accountable at half-back.

Kate Case

Another middle-age talent who earned a spot in the All-Stars squad playing forward, and has a bit of zip about her. She might not be tall, but has talent and continues to develop strongly. As someone who can come in and play a small forward’s role or further up the ground, Case will be one to watch in 2021 after an impressive grand final.

Andie Zbierski

Another country-based player who plays predominantly as a defender. She is highly competitive and reliable as they come. She might not have a huge amount of SANFL Women’s experience, but she showed in the games she did play that she has a high scope to develop.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Anne Hatchard
  • Britt Perry
  • Talia Radan
  • Lauren Daniel
  • Hannah Ewings
  • Leah Tynan
  • Bek Rasheed

Like South Adelaide, this list could go on forever with that many contributors across the board. There is a reason the Roosters won the premiership, and whilst Anne Hatchard dominated the midfield in every game and was the clear standout winning the equal league best and fairest with best on grounds in every match, she was far from alone. Teenage talent Hannah Ewings has another two years until she is draft-eligible despite being one of the best in the competition already, whilst the experience of Lauren Daniel, and the introduction of ruck Bek Rasheed through the middle was great. Throw in AFL Women’s players Britt Perry up forward and Talia Radan down back, and the side had virtually no holes in it.

Summary

North Adelaide capped off a perfect season with a premiership, winning every game and successfully bouncing back from the 2019 defeat in the decider. They had help from some AFL Women’s talent, but it was the next core of players, and the youth coming through that held up the side and ensured that their bottom six was stronger than any other side in the competition.

Picture: SANFL / Deb Curtis

South Australian AFLW All-Stars to battle it out in blockbuster clash of talent

SOUTH Australia’s best young talents will have a chance to strut their stuff via the SANFL site tonight when 48 of the top talents from the state run around in an AFL Women’s All-Stars match. The teams are named after Adelaide stars, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff, with no AFL Women’s players, and those in their 16th year or younger playing in an under 16s showcase prior to this game.

For those Adelaide fans keen to get a glimpse as some of the players who received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, unfortunately two of the brightest stars will no be out there. Teah Charlton will miss the game due to injury, while Indy Tahau is unavailable due to other commitments. The others two players who received Draft Combine invitations – Amber Ward and Ashleigh Woodland will both front up for Team Hatchard, coached by North Adelaide premiership coach, Krissie Steen. We take a look at our potential line-ups, though it is anticipated players will be heavily rotated all across the field.

TEAM HATCHARD:

B: Rhiannon Busch – Erin Sundstrom – Julia Clark
HB: Charlotte Dolan – Amber Ward – Madisyn Freeman
C: Matilda Zander – Isobel Kuiper – Tahlia Meyer
HF: Tamsyn Morriss – Ashleigh Woodland – Hannah Prenzler
F: Cristie Castle – Katelyn Rosenzweig – Tahlita Buethke
R: Zoe Prowse – Czenya Cavouras – Abbie Ballard
INT: Alana Lishmund – Brooke Tonon – Jamie Parish – Rayne Rivalland – Zoe Venning – Grace Duffy

With players being so versatile, it is hard to pinpoint a number of players and where they will slot in. For the purpose of our hypothetical 24, any middle-agers (2003-born or later) are automatically on the bench, giving preference to those who are eligible to be picked up this year. The exception to the rule is Zoe Prowse who is the standout ruck not only on the team, but on the field as a whole. She is still only 17, but stands at 180cm and is the obvious choice to be starting ruck.

Ward is a reliable centre half-back with terrific intercepting capabilities. She was one of the more unlucky players not to be picked up in her draft year last year, but she is strong, positions herself well and is extremely good by foot. At the other end, Woodland has already tasted AFL Women’s experience with Melbourne, and, while it did not work out, it is no surprise to see the now 22-year-old as of Wednesday, being considered after winning the competition’s leading goalkicker award.

Another former AFL Women’s player in Katelyn Rosenzweig will play at full-forward, and the forward half as a whole is something to watch, with Tamsyn Morriss and Hannah Prenzler all able to play further up the ground. Prenzler and Morriss are both top-agers who can switch to the opposite end if need be, with Prenzler’s work off half-back and Morriss’ kicking among their eye-catching traits. Abbie Ballard onball is the other top-ager to keep an eye on with her hardness and precision left foot winning plaudits.

Charlotte Dolan running off half-back and along the wing provides great speed and determination to any side, while Julia Clark has become a reliable defender who uses the ball well and makes the right decisions. Tahlita Buethke is another top-age player who cracked into the strong South Adelaide team this year and would have been one to watch – as a dominant goalkicker at local level – at the championships had they occurred.

In terms of mature-agers, Erin Sundstrom often plays off half-back but due to her height – 174cm – she is one of the few likely to play in a key position role. Given her work with Ward back there in the SANFL Womens and with Steen coaching, the pair will make a strong duo. Matilda Zander is a small, tough midfielder who attacks the contest hard and runs all day. She was in line to play for Collingwood in the VFL, and with her former coach Steve Symonds at the helm for the Magpies, expect him to be watching this game carefully.

Some others who have caught the eye this season include Crows’ train-on player Czenya Cavouras who racks up the ball and is hard around the contest, over-ager Isobel Kuiper who will provide good height in midfield, and then the run of another over-ager in Madisyn Freeman. Tahlia Meyer‘s decision making through midfield going forward is superb, winning the preliminary final off her own boot such was her skill. Cristie Castle is a reliable mark and source of goals up front, with Rhiannon Busch as steady as they come down back – though she has the versatility to play at either end – much like Grace Duffy.

Of the 2003 group outside of Prowse, Venning is the top one to watch, regularly dominating through the midfield and half-forward, using her speed and strength to cause headaches for the opposition. Alana Lishmund will provide some rotation up forward, with Brooke Tonon also spending time there, and Jamie Parish showing great signs in the second half of the season for the Eagles. Rayne Rivalland rounds out the prospects as the youngest player on the team – not turning 17 until late November – which shows the depth of talent within South Australia.

TEAM MARINOFF:

B: Tesharna Maher – Kristi Harvey – Teagan Usher
HB: Lauren Gauci – Bella Smith – Tessa Kohn
C: Katelyn Pope – Shelby Smith – Emma Smith
HF: Laitiah Huynh – Kiana Lee – Alex Ballard
F: Jess Kirk – Brooklyn Kraft – Jade Halfpenny
R: Leah Cutting – Nicole Campbell – Jess Macolino
INT: Andie Zbierski – Jorja Eldridge – Kate Case – Lauren Clifton – Madison Lane – Gypsy Schirmer

Turning our attention to Team Marinoff, coached by former international cricketer and North Adelaide footballer Emma Sampson, there are plenty of strong marking key position players in the line-up. Like with Team Hatchard, the 2003-born players automatically got named on the bench as they still have another year to show off their remarkable talents. While none of the players in this team got a Draft Combine invitation, there are some that have certainly showcased their ability at past AFL Women’s Under-18 National Championships.

At either end are the contested marking Bella Smith and Kiana Lee, with ruck Brooklyn Kraft likely to spend time forward given Leah Cutting – Norwood’s star ruck – has been named in the team. Kraft provides extra height to the team at 182cm and will stretch the smaller Hatchard backline. Also coming off championships last year, Alex Ballard often plays at half-forward but can play just about anywhere, the same can be said for Emma Smith who we have named on the wing. Teagan Usher and Tesharna Maher are great runners out of defence, and Maher particularly has got a set of wheels that make her hard to catch.

Of the top-agers, Latiah Huynh is a raw prospect with terrific speed, great defensive pressure and a strong hardness at the contest. She can rotate between half-forward and wing, and often be the link in the transition between midfield and forward. Also in their top-age year is Jade Halfpenny who can play in all thirds of the ground, but given she can take a grab and knows where the goals are, she has been named forward. Jorja Eldridge and Andie Zbierski are the other top-agers named, with Eldridge coming from a basketball background but did not manage to crack into the strong North Adelaide senior outfit, while Zbierski has played predominantly country footy and not playing this year in the SANFL Women’s but did play four games last year.

From the mature-age perspective, Kristi Harvey lines up at her usual full-back spot and she has plenty of experience having played for Carlton’s VFL Women’s side as well as the successful North Adelaide line-up. Another strong contested mark and rebounder, Harvey will be hard to pass in the defensive end. Also back there is Lauren Gauci who will team up well with Roosters teammate Harvey, providing good dash out of defence, while Tessa Kohn is a natural inside midfielder, but has been trialed elsewhere including in defence, and expect her to get a bit of a taste everywhere. On the wing, Katelyn Pope is one of the quickest going around and the Roosters’ speedster will be hard to catch where she gets going.

A couple of the big improvers in 2020, Norwood’s Jess Macolino returned for her second season, and Shelby Smith made her debut and was one of Central District’s most consistent players all year. They will not take a backwards step and match the Hatchard midfield in hardness for the ball. Up forward, Jess Kirk had led the goalkicking up until injury cost her, but she is good overhead and usually a reliable set shot.

Of the middle-agers on the bench, Gypsy Schirmer provided some nice highlights as an athletic tall up forward for the Panthers this year, while Madison Lane continued her good work after captaining South Australia’s Under 16s side last year, and been a strong contributor for the Bulldogs. Lauren Clifton can provide some depth anywhere on the field, playing defence, forward or even on a wing, while Kate Case is another midfielder who could be one to watch in 2020 after some strong performances through midfield.

Along with Charlton and Tahau, others who would have earned spots but were either injured on unavailable for the clash include: inside midfielders, dual league best and fairest winner Rachelle Martin and talented teenager Maya Rigter; the versatile Jaimi Tabb and athletic utility Mattea Breed.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s Finals preview: Semi-Finals – Fans treated to double header at Thebarton

FINALS fever is in the air and the four best teams remain in the race for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. Last year’s grand finalists North Adelaide and South Adelaide do battle in the first game at Thebarton Oval for automatic entry into the grand final, before Norwood and West Adelaide face off to remain in the hunt and head into a preliminary final next week.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, August 9, 10.30am at Thebarton Oval

It is the clash that many SANFL Women’s fans have been waiting for, the two best teams in the competition going head-to-head at full strength and with so much talent across the field. North Adelaide Roosters, led by Krissie Steen naturally hold favouritism as they are yet to drop a game in 2020. The last time the Roosters looked vulnerable was way back in Round 4 of this season when South Adelaide pushed them for four quarters in an absolute thriller. The four-point margin in favour of the visiting side ultimately determined which order the top sides would finish, as neither side lost another game. South Adelaide might not have been blowing teams off the part to the extent that Roosters have, but Rick Watts has his charges primed for a third consecutive flag knowing the pressure of favouritism is off.

These two teams faced off in the decider last year, where South took control after quarter time and just kept the Roosters at arms-length to get up 4.7 (31) to 1.3 (9). It is expected the scores on the weekend will be much higher with some seriously talented forward lines. In saying that, both teams have remarkable back six’s, so it will not be easy to score against. The aspect about this matchup that people are most intrigued about is that they have not faced off again since their AFL Women’s talents returned.

This arguably gives the Roosters a boost given they have welcomed in arguably the competition’s best player – given she was a club best and fairest winner and All-Australian at the elite level – in Anne Hatchard, as well as reliable and recently retired, Talia Radan, and the dangerous forward in Britt Perry. South Adelaide has added Crows’ teenage ruck Montana McKinnon – who also played games prior to the break while she was waiting to crack into the Crows team – as well as speedster Hannah Munyard, and defender Lisa Whiteley. Both represented Western Bulldogs and GWS GIANTS in 2019, and both have since headed home and will represent the tri-colours next season.

In terms of in-form players from the last two matchups, it is hard to look past South tall, Indy Tahau. Winning the Best on Ground medal in the 2019 SANFL Women’s Grand Final, she booted two goals from 20 touches, and then back it up with a strong 16-disposal, 17-hitout and 10-tackle game earlier this year. Adelaide train-on talent Czenya Cavouras will be a welcome return for the Panthers after missing a couple of games to injury, she is averaging the 21.5 disposals, 3.5 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.0 tackles. The third Panther to highlight is Teah Charlton who booted a crucial goal in the grand final last year, having 18 touches, four marks and five tackles, before a quieter outing earlier this season with 12 touches, four marks and six tackles.

North Adelaide has changed so much since last year’s grand final with one of the Roosters’ best in Kendall Howell named back in the side this week. She gathered 19 touches and six rebounds in last year’s decider, and had 12 touches and five marks in the 2020 victory over South. Lauren Daniel has been an experienced campaigner who has performed in both matches, picking up 15 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s in the grand final, and then 18 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three rebounds earlier this year. Then there is Amber Ward who had eight rebounds from 16 touches and three marks last year, and it was Kristi Harvey this year who won the game with her work in defence racking up 15 disposals, eight marks – two contested, six tackles and eight rebounds.

Fast forward to this matchup today and the Roosters have been in ominous form, only conceding one goal in the past three weeks – not a typo – as they have completely powered past sides, albeit three of the bottom four sides. North Adelaide have booted 33.37 (235) to 1.8 (14) in that time with a percentage of 943. The Roosters are usually accurate but had a down day last round in terms of accuracy with 7.17, but that was as much credit to Central District’s defence as it was to North’s missed chances. In the two matches prior to those three thumpings, the Roosters defeated Glenelg by 18 points, and Norwood by 45 in strong performances.

South Adelaide has had a weird fixture to end the season, playing twice against each of West Adelaide and Central District, as well as Glenelg. The Bloods have provided a great measuring stick against the Panthers, with South getting up by 18 points in Round 7, and and 12 points last round. The trick with South Adelaide is that the Panthers just find a way to get it done. No matter what the score, the Panthers are the best at adapting to a style of playing and then beating the opposition with that style. They might not have belted teams in the last month, but they have beaten quality opposition off the back of terrific defence.

The most exciting area of the ground to watch will be North Adelaide’s forward line up against South Adelaide’s defence, with the likes of Ash Woodland – fresh off another four-goal haul – alongside Cristie Castle, Daniel, Perry and speedster Katelyn Pope going head-to-head with the reliable trio of Jaslynne Smith, Lauren Buchanan and Samantha Pratt, and then no doubt Whiteley and Roosters’ Kelly Barltrop will also be ones who have a bearing on the result of the game.

Up the other end, Ward and Harvey have the best one-two intercept marking and rebounding punch of any side in the competition, but what makes South so good is creating space inside 50 and letting the smaller forwards go to work. Jess Kirk returns and was leading the competition goalkicking prior to injury, while Munyard has kicked multiple goals on occasions, and Madison Bennett is always dangerous at ground level. Tahau and Charlton are South Australia’s top two top-age prospects this year as the pair are in the AFL Women’s National Academy. Radan and Lauren Gauci can provide some good intercepting and run and carry respectively back there, and they will have their work cut out for them.

In the midfield, McKinnon will be keen to impress in her second game back from injury against Bek Rasheed who has been one of the most consistent surprise packets this season since coming to the club. Hatchard leads the Roosters’ onball brigade, but the likes of Leah Tynan and Hannah Ewings will go head-to-head against Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, with Nikki Gore and Pope providing the dash through the middle, It is likely the team that not only wins the midfield, but has the most effective inside 50 entries will be the winner. Both these teams are capable of locking down the hatches and defending well, while they also know how to score quickly.

If you had to pick a team, North Adelaide is hard to look past given its strength and unbeaten nature, but the general feeling is, if the Roosters are to lose, it will likely be against the Panthers. A grand final spot on the line, this is set to be a ripper.

NORTH

F: Daniel, Castle, Woodland
HF: Pope, McKendrick, Perry
C: Greet, Hatchard, Case
HB: Gauci, Ward, Sundstrom
B: Clark, Harvey, Radan
R: Rasheed, Tynan, Ewings
INT: Arthur, Barltrop, Gallio, Howell, Reynolds, Taylor, Woodards

IN: Hatchard, Howell, Pope

SOUTH

F: Bennett, Kirk, Munyard
HF: Tahau, Cavouras, Schirmer
C: Hammond, Campbell, Charlton
HB: Copley, Pratt, Buchanan
B: Haylock, Smith, Northcott
R: McKinnon, Meyer, Whiteley
INT: Gore, Wedding, Flanagan-Sjoberg, Gibbs, Clifton, Pennifold, Ross

IN: Gore, Kirk, Cavouras, Bennett
OUT: Rothwell, Peters

 

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Sunday, August 9, 12.20pm at Thebarton Oval

The loser of the first game will have the best opportunity to scout its next opponent when Norwood tackles West Adelaide in the second game. Unlike the North Adelaide-South Adelaide clash, there is no turning back for the loser with the defeated team out of contention this year. These teams have played twice this year, and both have been thrillers with Norwood getting the job back in Round 9 with an 11-point win over West Adelaide, while neither team could be split in Round 4 when they headed home with a draw prior to the extended break.

For most of the season, West Adelaide had held third spot on the table, going toe-for-toe with the top two sides, but two losses against them kept them in third. The draw and then loss with Norwood saw the Panthers drop back to fourth in the final round as the Redlegs enjoyed a huge win over a depleted Glenelg, while the Bloods went down in a fight against South Adelaide. In their most recent encounter back in Round 9, it was only a final term burst that saw Norwood create separation and celebrate a 4.9 (33) to 3.4 (22) victory.

The Redlegs almost kicked themselves out of it with seven straight behinds, before midfield dynamo Matilda Zander put through a crucial snap out of congestion. West Adelaide immediately trimmed back the deficit to under a kick through the great work of AFL Women’s teammates, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Chelsea Biddell, but it was loose checking on the defensive goal line that ultimately cost the Bloods third spot. With a free kick near the behind post, Tessa Hankinson was brought back on a sharp angle, but her opponent opted to stand on the goal line leaving the mark unguarded and Hankinson ran in to kick a goal from a couple of metres out, bettering the angle and helping her team to victory.

It was not the first time that Norwood had escaped ill-fated mis-kicking in front of goal. A week earlier, they kicked a frustrating 2.8, in what was a strange match. The Redlegs booted the first goal of the contest, then eight consecutive behinds against a Sturt side that refused to give in. It took until Kate Fenton‘s after-the-siren goal to give the visitors another major, and it levelled the scores and ensured the fourth placed team walked away with some points. A week later they knocked off the Bloods, and then took apart Glenelg in a strong performance.

West Adelaide did enough against Central District back in Round 8 to win by 22 points as Madison Newman and Thompson were dominant, booting four goals to zero in the middle two quarters to guarantee a win. The loss to Norwood cost them third spot, but they would have been pleased by the effort against South Adelaide early. They looked on from the first bounce, but could not sustain it across four quarters as quick goals to the Panthers was the difference.

Looking at this match, the battle of the midfields is absolutely crucial. Rachelle Martin had 21 touches and five clearances against the Redlegs in the Round 4 draw, and Norwood must find a way to try and stop her if they are to win. But she is far from alone in that onball brigade with the young talents of Abbie Ballard, Zoe Venning and Olivia Smith running around, with Mattea Breed a taller option who could play at either end or through the middle. Leah Cutting is one of the league’s best rucks so expect her to have a say on the contest as she leads a strong midfield group in Adelaide AFL Women’s talent and last year’s SANFL Women’s best and fairest, Najwa Allen, as well as Zander, Jess Macolino and Sophie Armitstead in there. The entire midfield is not afraid to get its hands dirty and win the contested ball.

Both these sides have some seriously underrated players in the competition, with Jade Halfpenny able to play at either end, as could Bella Smith who has been relishing the intercept marking role at centre half-back. The Norwood defence is strong, with Armitstead able to drop back there, and the likes of Rhiannon Busch mopping up everything that comes her way. The West Adelaide forward line is one of the most damaging when up and firing, with Biddell a key target, and Rachael Killian filling the role of Melanie Elsegood perfectly. Throw in midfielder Isabel Martin who can hit the scoreboard, along with Kasia Culhane, Thompson and Venning who both float down there, and the Bloods have a formidable group.

Up the other end, Norwood has Breed and captain Alison Ferrall as the targets to watch for, with Breed able to fly and Ferrall powerful on the lead. The latter returns for this game, and with Fenton a known goalkicker, and Zander and Allen both able to rest forward, the Redlegs have a versatile front six. The Bloods half-back line of young guns, Newman and Keeley Kustermann, as well as captain Lauren Rodato is the best in the business, but as Helen Maidment showed last week, she is more than capable of playing high half-back with Rodato dropping back deeper.

Both these sides have some incredible talent which showcases what they are capable of on their day. They can match it with the best sides, but they can also struggle against the lower sides at times. The team that plays its most on-brand game will win this, which by Round 8 looked certain to be West Adelaide, but the last two weeks have shown that Norwood probably deserve to be favourites. West have struggled through the midfield of late, and the Bloods have to win that to take home the points, while Norwood have to be smart with the inside 50s to stop the elite half-back line of the Bloods taking easy intercept marks.

NORWOOD

F: Smith, Bigg, Gould
HF: Tsoumbris, Zander, Macolino
C: Hiscock, Busch, Ferrall
HB: Avery, Cutting, Fenton
B: Allen, Breed, Armitstead
R: Halfpenny, Sporn, Gallagher
INT: Lishmund, Martin, Samuel, Hankinson, Rochow, Zerella, Barisic

IN: Ferrall, Lishmund, Martin, Tsoumbris, Samuel, Barasic
OUT: Karamoshos, Murison

WEST

F: Ballard, Scholar, Scutchings
HF: Kustermann, Biddell, Venning
C: Culhane, Rodato, O. Smith
HB: Newman, Thompson, Martin
B: Maidment, Killian, Doupis
R: Walsh, James, Greer
INT: E. Smith, Mason, Gray, Davis, Hooper, Harfield

IN: Scholar, Gray, Doupis, Hooper
OUT: Hardwick, Griffiths