Tag: krstel petrevski

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Grand Final

IT was a massive NAB League Girls Grand Final with Northern Knights coming out on top as 30-point winners over Calder Cannons. In an exciting day of action, there were certainly plenty of standout performances on the big stage. Here are our opinion-based scouting notes on a mix of the most outstanding players on the day, and others selected in the Victorian sides for this year’s National Championships.

Northern
By: Sophie Taylor

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

True to her number, Morris-Dalton kicked three goals to ultimately lead her side to victory, providing a great target inside 50 and showing off her clever movement into space to advantage of the ball. Her marking ability was solid inside 50, while a great passage of play saw her kick the only Knights goal for the second quarter from their first inside 50 of the term. Showcased her ability to free herself from opposition, getting off the body to take control of the space.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was on fire early, kicking her first goal within minutes of the first bounce to open Northern’s account for the afternoon. Also all but cemented victory for Northern with a goal right in the goal square in the late stages of the match for the final score of the game. Other than her accuracy in front of goal, Bannan showcased her good run and carry and pressure on the ball carrier, causing messiness when Calder headed inside 50.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Player of the Match, Fitzgerald put on a solid performance well deserving of her title in what was a strong shared effort for the Knights. Her five tackles contributed to the great pressure her side put on the Cannons, while her clean marking ability allowed her a shot on goal – and though going through for a behind, put in the hard yards to gain back possession. Also showed some good game smarts to handball under pressure out of a pack to carry the ball forward.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti was good one-on-one, putting constant pressure on her opposition as she forced intercepts and crowded the space. Had a solid kick but was intercepted on a few occasions, though was fortunate the rest of Northern’s defensive unit was also standing up. Also put her quick hands into practice on the wing, handballing to a passing player in better space, also marking well under the pump to clear the ball back out of defence.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie was solid, taking a good contested mark early for a snap on goal, rewarded for her efforts with the ball going through the big sticks. Had a good eye to kick inside 50 to Morris-Dalton on her own in a similar position to McKenzie’s first goal, while her marking ability was exceptional with six to her name. Had a great run down the far wing late in the match, showcasing her speed and ability to free herself from opposition players and fitting in about seven bounces as she coasted from the defensive 50 into attack.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht had a solid match, picking up an equal-second 14 disposals for the Knights in a shared effort across the ground. Her five tackles and five handballs proved necessary through midfield, gaining ground as she found her way clear to get the ball out of congestion courtesy of her two-way running ability and skill scooping up the ground ball. Also had a chance on goal from 40m out but bounced through for a behind.

#23 Gabby Newton

Had some great passages of play, continually pressing the ball forward as she used the space to create options and opportunities down field. Her 15 touches were put to good use, using her body to get hands on the footy. Took some good contested marks as well as being a pivotal ball mover with two inside 50s and two rebounds as she appeared to be everywhere on the ground at once. Good awareness of not just the ball, but also of her opposition and teammates as she kicked cleanly to advantage and shared the load.

Calder
By: Taylah Melki

#2 Felicity Theodore 

Good intercept mark in the first term but was relatively quiet. Her move up forward was inspired able to showcase her strong hands to take important marks. She took two good grabs in the fourth quarter and presented well up at the footy. She showcased her quick hands under pressure and desire to win the ball throughout the game.

#11 Alana Barba

Barba was strong around the contest for the Cannons applying good tackling pressure and making her presence felt across the ground. She was involved involved early and used her clean hands to dish off handballs to passing teammates. Barba won her fair share of the footy and covered the ground well, she consistently went in hard at the ball and stood up in a strong tackle. She tracked the footy well at ground level and imposed herself on the contest when the ball came her way.

#21 Georgia Patrikios 

Patrikios worked tirelessly throughout the game leading her side with her clean hands, impeccable vision and never say die attitude. She used her quick hands and willingness to play on to spur the Cannons into attack. Patrikios showcased her ability to read the play well almost taking a good mark when the ball was coming out of their attacking 50. She used her impressive long booming kick into the forward 50 to create scoring chances for her side. She took a good intercept mark early in the third quarter and applied strong pressure laying solid tackles throughout the game. Clean pick up off the ground to keep the ball moving and had good body positioning to win the ball for the Cannons. Quick hands out of defence and good control of the ball. She showcased her speed going for a good dash through the middle of the ground to kick into the forward 50 and create a scoring opportunity.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

She had a relatively quiet game and was well kept by the Knights but she still had her moments of magic working hard to win the ball and using her body well to out position her opponent. She showcased her slick hands with a clever handball into space and worked her way into the game in the third term. She utilised her long kick to push the ball forward and create options for the Cannons.  

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Prespakis was a key player for the Cannons throughout the game with her desperation, strength and clever use of the ball an important feature of her game. She showcased her clean hands and impressive strength to shake off a tackler and dispose of the ball to Patrikios. She showcased her emotion midway through the second term getting into a scuffle with that only sparking her ferocity and intensity for the rest of the match. she really built herself into the game with her good forward pressure and ability to win the ball time and time again. She was clean off the deck and won her fair share of clearances around the ground. She patrolled the defensive end well sticking to her player and showcased her ability to read the play, wining the ball one on one credit to her footy smarts. Good vision to kick to space and use her impressive evasive skills to dodge opponents and then dish the ball off on the wing. Prespakis worked tirelessly all game and showed good elevation and control of the footy. Consistently used her body well and won plenty of the footy across the ground with clever linkup play with Patrikios throughout the game. A real standout for the Cannons in a difficult loss.

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals preview – Grand Final spots up for grabs at Shepley

FINALS fever hits the NAB League Girls competition, with a revamped finals series set to get underway at Shepley Oval on Saturday. A spot in the grand final is on the line in both games as first does battle with fourth, and second plays third. In the weekend’s other game, Oakleigh hosts Tasmania at Windy Hill in a one-off exhibition.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS (1st, 8-0-1) vs. EASTERN RANGES (4th, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 12:30pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels 0.5 (5)
Eastern Ranges 3.1 (19) defeated by Sandringham Dragons 3.5 (23)

Last Meeting:
Round 5 – Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Eastern Ranges 4.2 (26) @ La Trobe University Oval

MATCH PREVIEW

The undefeated Knights came into the year as strong premiership fancies, and firmed as favourites with their 36-point Round 8 win over reigning premiers, Geelong – avenging their 2018 grand final defeat and snapping the Falcons’ two-year winning run in one fell swoop. The only hiccup in Northern’s season thus far was a Round 2 draw with Oakleigh, with the best attack in the league and a raft of stars helping them ease to eight wins – including ones over two fellow finals sides. They are only one step away from a second-consecutive grand final berth, but an exciting Eastern team stands in the way. The Ranges are one of the best marking sides in the competition, and can compete with most teams on their day, but suffered a couple of disappointing losses to lower-ranked sides and had a close encounter with Tasmania in Round 7. Their narrow margins of victory and defeat – including three wins by under a goal – make for heart-stopping games, but their more convincing wins like their 51-point one over Gippsland show why they are always a chance. Eastern’s prime movers in the middle include potential 2020 Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, as well as gun bottom-ager Tess Flintoff, and Olivia Meagher, but their most potent threats will come through the tall duo of Laura McClelland and Serena Gibbs forward of centre. Northern key back Sarah Sansonetti has been in terrific in recent weeks, and could well find herself playing on both of those Ranges talls throughout the game. While her role will prove vital, if the likes of Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, and Ellie McKenzie are thrown into the middle at the same time as we have seen recently, it may be tough for the Ranges to venture forward in the first place. The versatility of those three will make a huge difference, and one would think the range of Knights weapons could well prove too much as it did in the side’s previous meeting. With Northern getting one back on Geelong two weeks ago to come in as the top seed, and Eastern suffering a defeat in their final regular season outing, this will be a tough mountain to climb for the Ranges.

KEY PLAYERS

Northern:

Gabby Newton

The Northern skipper has been sensational throughout the year, averaging almost 20 disposals over her eight NAB League games. Much has already been made of her basketball background, with the gun midfielder showing off her hops in the ruck at times and her equally impressive composure in traffic to no end. While her starting position will most likely be at the centre bounces, Newton’s role as a general behind the ball will be key in this clash – with a potent Eastern tall duo likely to line up down forward. Her intercept marking and overall overhead prowess is profound, so look for that to be a feature in this game along with her consistent ball-winning ability – with over 20 disposals in five games this year. Versatile and damaging, Newton is key.

Eastern:

Serena Gibbs

Gibbs is one of three Eastern talls who pose an enormous risk to the Northern defence, often trading time between centre half-forward and the ruck. If she is matched up on Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, the clash becomes one of the more important ones for the game with the likes of Laura McClelland and Tahlia Merrett also able to be freed up should they play forward at the same time. Gibbs has found the goals in seven of her nine NAB League appearances, led by a dominant 3.4 from 18 disposals against Gippsland in Round 8. While her Round 9 return saw her collect under 10 disposals for just the third time, Gibbs has been a consistently dangerous threat and will be a key focal point this time around.

GEELONG FALCONS (2nd, 8-1) vs. CALDER CANNONS (3rd, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 2:15pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Geelong Falcons 8.7 (55) defeated Murray Bushrangers 1.1 (7)
Calder Cannons 5.7 (37) defeated Gippsland Power 1.0 (6)

Last Meeting:
Round 7 – Geelong Falcons 3.2 (20) defeated Calder Cannons 1.0 (6) @ RAMS Arena

MATCH PREVIEW

The Geelong Falcons bounced back well from their Round 8 loss to Northern – their first since May 2017 – to secure second place with a welcome return to form, toppling Murray by 48 points after conceding the first goal. Their depth across all lines is scary good, but their premiership defence has largely been built on a typically sturdy back six and dominant midfield, with their forward structure taking greater shape across the year. Abbey Chapman has led the league’s stingiest defence all year, with the Falcons’ highest score conceded (43) coming against Northern, while the likes of skipper Lucy McEvoy, Paige Sheppard, and Luka Lesosky-Hay have been instrumental in the engine room. Pair the inside grunt of those three with the outside class of Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney on either wing, and you have a midfield that is hard to beat to say the least. Mia Skinner has been the spearhead forward of centre, booting a league-high 18 goals – including two bags of four – having only been held goalless on two occasions, in Rounds 7 and 8. The Cannons have some firepower of their own, which more often than not comes from star duo, Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis. Both have the ability to not only find a wealth of the ball through the middle, but to also find the goals – exemplified by Prespakis’ bag of seven in Round 2 from full forward. Prespakis, the sister of Carlton star Maddie, has averaged 23.3 disposals over her eight games with two returns of over 30 touches, while Patrikios averages just over 22 in her seven outings, and the pair should provide a dynamism that Geelong will have to pay great attention to. Include talls at either end, such as the likes of Alana Barba up forward and Krstel Petrevski, along with Makeisha Muller at ground level, and there are some interesting moving parts to the Calder line-up. Having already gotten the better of Calder as recently as in Round 7, Geelong will be confident of repeating the feat and storming into another grand final. If Calder can again keep the Falcons to under four goals though, then anything can happen. Expect fireworks either way.

KEY PLAYERS

Geelong:

Lucy McEvoy

Able to be utilised on each line, the Falcons skipper is arguably her side’s most important player. An ultra-consistent force, McEvoy has only dropped below 20 disposals once in her eight games – incidentally in the Falcons’ only loss – to average 22.2 disposals per outing. Her presence at the centre bounces in undeniable, using her size to prize the ball out and her composure to flick out effective handballs to receivers. In general play, McEvoy utilises a booming kick to rebound and enter either arc, while positioning herself a kick behind the play to act as an impenetrable wall at both ends. Her overhead marking is a feature, but expect to see her mostly in the thick of the midfield action given Calder’s strength in that area.

Calder:

Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is all but equal to McEvoy in her disposal output, but provides a different kind of threat from midfield. Having shown how damaging she can be on the outside during her bottom-age year, Patrikios has developed into a balanced midfielder very quickly, but is still often seen bursting away from congestion and delivering forward with aplomb. The Cannons star’s best game came in Round 7 against the Falcons, collecting 31 disposals and finding the goals, so she will hope to produce more of the same here. With the strength of Geelong’s midfield obvious, Patrikios’ point of difference in her pace will be key amidst that battle.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 19, 11:00am
Windy Hill

Oakleigh hosts Tasmania on neutral ground for a one-off friendly game, completing a hat-trick of Devils NAB League appearances. With Oakleigh narrowly missing finals, this game poises the travelling side against the best of the rest as finals gets underway, and will be a third opportunity for them to pick up a win in the competition. Tasmania entered in Round 7 with two games over three days, going down to Western by 37 points under Friday night lights, and giving Eastern a mighty scare just two days later. Oakleigh will be keen to finish off the season with another win to make it six all up, but the Devils showed their fighting spirit already and should provide a good test for the Chargers. The game will also be a curtain raiser for the NAB League boys clash between Gippsland and Greater Western Victoria at 1:00.

2019 VFLW weekend Round 1b preview: Eight teams begin their campagins

AFTER the Southern Saints made a statement in the opening round with a victory over last year’s minor premiers Collingwood, the other Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s sides take to the field, as four games are played across the competition. The Western Bulldogs and Carlton have the bye, as do Williamstown, however the Seagulls are facing off against GWS GIANTS in an invitational match which will see the GIANTS match-up against some of the Victorian sides. Below are the teams and season previews.

ESSENDON v. CASEY DEMONS

Round 1 – 11/05/2019
11:30
Windy Hill

Essendon

B: 7. K. Hicks, 11. M. Warburton, 29. C. Laan
HB: 18. K. Heil, 27. A. Morcom, 21. K. McFadyen
C: 28. R. Svarc, 39. M. Fogas, 1. C. Ugle
HF: 25. L. Stepnell, 23. M. Collier, 24. S. Wilson
F: 3. M. DeMatteo, 38. E. Gogerly, 40. A. Moreen
R: 30. S. Nalder, 22. N. MacDonald, 8. H. Bullas
Int: 13. S. Audley, 2. I. Currenti, 43. G. Nanscawen, 4. A. Saundry
Emg: 45. E. Ashley-Cooper, 15. L. Caruso, 33. E. Hosking, 14. T. Zagontinos
23P: 31. J. Stassi

Casey Demons

B: 50. G. McLean, 13. K. Smith, 15. T. Tatterson
HB: 34. A. Kirkwood, 7. B. Jakobsson, 8. S. Lampard
C: 23. E. Birch, 16. M. Hogg, 22. M. Guerin
HF: 42. H. Bailey, 29. E. Zanker , 11. C. Emonson
F: 24. N. Garner, 40. H. Dyson, 27. B. Winbanks
R: 38. K. Bentvelzen , 41. R. Edmeades, 47. K. Guttridge
Int: 48. E. Archer, 9. A. Johnson, 32. A. McDonough, 54. K. Oates
Emg: 57. L. Davies, 51. A. Francese, 37. T. Nash, 62. G. Speedy
23P: 46. B. Pratt

 

DAREBIN v. RICHMOND

Round 1 – 11/05/2019
12:00
Swinburne Centre

Darebin

B: 32. G. Colvin, 21. K. Roe, 19. R. Hibbert
HB: 16. B. Kennedy, 56. R. Ashley, 43. N. Wolfe
C: 1. E. Honybun, 9. M. Eastman, 28. A. Morrow
HF: 17. S. Simpson, 22. G. Hammond, 7. L. Szigeti
F: 36. E. Buckley, 31. E. Gardner, 23. M. Wilson
R: 37. E. McLaughlin, 15. A. Lister, 33. J. Stanton
Int: 18. C. Byrne, 39. S. David, 25. C. Delbridge, 20. S. Fairchild
Emg: 46. R. Coombs, 55. M. Hubbard, 49. A. Ladson, 50. M. Suzuki
23P: 57. P. Kearney

Richmond

B: 26. E. Burry, 41. S. Last, 15. R. Miller
HB: 19. K. Dempsey, 2. P. Monahan, 34. A. Makur Chuot
C: 25. G. Egan, 5. M. Brancatisano, 8. J. Graham
HF: 33. J. Colwell, 16. C. Wakefield , 36. E. Paterno
F: 17. E. Gunn, 24. T. Stahl-Smith, 46. H. Ibrahim
R: 11. A. Edmonds, 13. A. Woodward, 1. J. Kennedy
Int: 43. G. Campbell, 30. D. Edward, 37. M. Klingbeil , 22. S. Marsh
Emg: 39. M. Lindsay , 32. I. Milford, 23. T. Smith
23P: 29. K. Jacques

 

HAWTHORN v. NT THUNDER

Round 1 – 12/05/2019
11:30
Box Hill City Oval

Hawthorn

B: 25. M. Hutchins, 6. T. Radan, 31. J. Sibley
HB: 13. E. Nixon, 40. E. MacDonald, 21. P. Randall
C: 33. E. Gilder, 24. R. Dillon, 5. C. Perera
HF: 12. N. Cormack , 26. C. Dyett, 18. E. Wroe
F: 17. A. Dowler, 2. K. Henderson, 30. A. Sarec
R: 22. T. Luke, 10. P. Peschke, 8. R. Beeson
Int: 14. O. Flanagan, 11. D. Haines, 15. B. Struylaart, 29. A. Tanner
Emg: 4. S. Carroll, 35. C. O’Donnell, 27. K. Scott
23P: 23. G. Macpherson

NT Thunder

B: 37. M. Rajcic, 33. T. Thorn, 31. A. Stanley
HB: 23. E. Miller, 9. L. Jeffrey, 26. C. Randall
C: 13. L. Roberts, , 12. K. Streader
HF: 11. J. Hickey, 10. A. Chittick, 18. T. Holtze
F: 27. A. Considine, 7. M. Ellis,
R: 20. J. Hewett, 3. A. Foley, 1. M. Johnston
Int: 17. S. Bishop, 24. S. Hoogeveen-Hill, 21. K. Irvine, 5. M. Roberts, 48. K. Rosenzweig, 34. D. Varnhagen
Emg: 32. B. Byers, 29. C. Deegan
23P: 2. J. Baird

 

MELBOURNE UNI v. GEELONG CATS

Round 1 – 12/05/2019
02:30
Melbourne University Main Oval

Melbourne Uni

B: 45. A. Arundel, 3. T. Mesiti, 17. E. Hay
HB: 22. J. Anwyl, 26. N. O’Connor, 32. C. Daniec
C: 53. J. Grierson, 36. N. Julian, 14. M. McDonald
HF: 38. K. Angelis, 51. J. Tancred, 40. A. Runnalls
F: 4. E. King, 57. A. Price, 18. A. Tupper
R: 5. K. Gillespie-Jones, 25. J. Garner, 35. J. Bruton
Int: 34. K. Cox, 47. M. Hare, 46. A. Roan , 52. M. Shone
Emg: 42. L. Amelung, 44. E. Bult, 30. S. Farmer, 41. J. Thomas
23P: 39. V. Saad

Geelong Cats

B: 49. E. Ramsay, 4. C. Blakeway, 23. H. Rowe
HB: 20. R. Pearce, 44. R. Goring, 11. J. Woollett
C: 3. A. McDonald, 27. R. Webster, 10. G. Rankin
HF: 45. M. Keryk, 17. G. Clarke, 9. T. Love
F: 42. B. Beckley, 8. K. Darby, 7. R. Benham
R: 1. R. Caris, 5. J. Ivey, 41. A. Haigh
Int: 14. N. French, 33. Z. Inei, 43. M. Maguire, 13. L. Taylor
Emg: 26. M. Boyd, 15. G. Deller, 16. O. Purcell
23P: 19. S. DeGiacomi

 

SEASON PREVIEWS: (Including byes)

CARLTON BLUES

Coach: Shannon McFerran
Last year: 7th (6-8)

The entire Carlton side would be buzzing with the AFL Women’s achievement of making the Grand Final and hoping to follow in the senior side’s footsteps. Last year the Blues showed signs within games, but could not quite put together a four quarter effort. They had an enormous amount of future AFL Women’s talent on their list last season with Tyla Hanks and Madeline Brancatisano (both Melbourne), Rene Caris (Geelong) and Celine Moody (Western Bulldogs) all poached by other clubs in the draft, while Abbie McKay, Chloe Dalton and Brooke Walker made the transition up to senior football at the Blues. Darcy Vescio won the leading goalkicker award after another terrific season inside 50 and look for her to be a key player in Shannon McFerran‘s side. With the close bond between Carlton and Northern Knights – and the strength of the Knights program in 2019 – do not be surprised for the Blues to be bolstered mid-season by the likes of Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht among others. They have picked up Marnie Jarvis and Taylah Manson from the Knights last year, and with continued improvement and recruitment of Madison Prespakis, Emerson Woods and Charlotte Wilson – who all had TAC Cup Girls and VFLW experience prior to being drafted, the Blues are a sleeper side that is not to be taken lightly.

 

CASEY DEMONS

Coach: Damien Keeping
Last year: 10th (5-9)

Despite a disappointing season on the ladder, Casey Demons were raided at the AFL Women’s draft with six drafted on the night, and a further one (Taylor Mesiti) prelisted. Jordyn Allen, Georgia Gourlay and Maddie Shevlin all swapped red and blue for black and white, while Casey Sherriff, Chantel Emonson and Shae Sloane showed enough to be picked up the Dees. The Demons have brought in some height with the recruitment of former Oakleigh Chargers and Essendon ruck, Bridie Winbanks, while putting an emphasis on retaining Melbourne AFLW listed players, something they did not have the luxury of having with many playing at Darebin given the players history with the Falcons. Now just Elise O’Dea, Lauren Pearce and Brooke Patterson are at the Falcons, so the Demons can have a stronger link to the AFLW side. Harriet Cordner and Maddison Gay were two big improvers of the 2019 AFLW season and will be ones to watch for the Demons in the upcoming VFLW season. A couple of key pickups for the Demons include Gippsland Power duo, Nikia Webber and Shanara Notman who could provide service up opposite ends. Overall look for the Demons to improve this year.

 

DAREBIN FALCONS

Coach: Michael Ericson (NEW)
Last year: 5th (8-6)

Darebin Falcons defied odds by finishing fifth last season and on track for finals up until a couple of rounds out from the post-season series. Michael Ericson has taken over from Jane Lange at the helm, and with it faces a new challenge of keeping the side competitive. O’Dea, Pearce and Patterson loom as the keys to the team, while Jamie Stanton who moved from Melbourne University – to align with her shift from North Melbourne to Gold Coast AFLW – is another AFLW listed player. Bridie Kennedy also joins the team from Carlton after having that AFLW experience, but mostly the Falcons will be relying on the yourh of the team and experienced VFLW players. Captain Stephanie Simpson is one of six players with 30 or more VFLW games under her belt which in the scheme of the relatively new competition is vital. Northern Knights, Nell Morris-Dalton and Ciara Fitzgerald have also joined Darebin, while former Eastern Ranges’ Lauren Szigeti will have benefited from her six games last year. Overall the Falcons will still give the top teams something to think about on their day, and rack up wins against the bottom handful, but it will be a test to be a genuine contender.

 

ESSENDON BOMBERS

Coach: Brendan Major
Last year: 13th (1-13)

It was fair to say Essendon did not have the season it had hoped for, winning just the one game and taking out the wooden spoon in season 2019. With limited AFL Women’s experience, the Bombers just lacked that top-end talent that other clubs had, and while the Bombers had that tackling ferocity through best and fairest winner, Hayley Bullas and the class and skill of future Adelaide AFLW premiership player, Danielle Ponter, they did not have enough talent across the board to compete with the sides that were flushed with AFLW signatures. The one win against Richmond was terrific to see, as it meant the Bombers got some reward for effort after a long season. Along with Bullas, Courtney Ugle and Simone Nalder have returned to the club, while former Murray Bushrangers’ defender and Eastern Allies representative, Eloise Ashley-Cooper will add some class to the side. The Bombers have four players with AFLW experience, including Maddy Collier and Hayley Trevean. With NAB League Girls club, Calder Cannons having some great talent coming through the ranks, expect the likes of Georgia Patrikios to open some eyes late in the season with her agility and goal sense, while Felicity Theodore, Alana Barba, Gloria Elamaly and Krstel Petrevski will add a mix of skill and toughness to the Bombers’ team. The Bombers will still lack the star quality other AFLW experienced teams have, so the goal will be to be more competitive and try and get off the bottom of the table this season.

 

GEELONG CATS

Coach: Natalie Wood (NEW)
Last year: 4th (10-3-1) Grand final loss

Natalie Wood has taken over from Paul Hood who opted to just focus on the AFLW side in the blue and white hoops, but has inherited a genuine premiership contender. After Geelong had fewer AFLW listed players compared to others last season, they now have 20 on their VFLW books, topped up by local players including former Geelong Falcons premiership players, Tarryn Love, Zoe Inei and Sachi DeGiacomi who managed six games at VFLW level between them last season. They have not only retained the majority of the their list, but picked up teh likes of Julia Crockett-Grills (Hawthorn), Rebecca Webster (Melbourne University) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (Williamstown), keeping them in the Geelong system. It is hard not to picture a scenario where Geelong are not in finals considering the now deep and strong bond the players have and having reached the grand final, before strengthening their list even more. The Geelong AFLW side made finals in its first year and expect the VFLW side to follow suit with the same talent on its list.

 

HAWTHORN HAWKS

Coach: Patrick Hill
Last year: 2nd (12-2) Premiers

The reigning premiers had a number of players drafted including Rising Star Jayde Van Dyk, Emerson Woods and Mikala Cann in what was a perfectly timed season, finishing second, pouncing on Collingwood in the semi-final, and then making the most of their opportunities against Geelong in the decider. In great news for the Hawks, Van Dyk has returned to the club for the VFLW season, as have key forward Phoebe McWilliams (Geelong), Rebecca Beeson and Pepa Randall (both GWS GIANTS). With super coach, Patrick Hill at the reigns again, the Hawks will be predicted to be thereabouts again and a genuine premiership contender. Sarah Perkins will be primed for a big season in the brown and gold, hoping to force her way back onto an AFLW list after being delisted by the Crows following the 2019 season. The forward combination between Perkins and McWilliams is as good as it gets in the competition, and with Eastern Rangers youngsters Serena Gibbs and Laura McClelland in the side later in the year, expect the reigning premiers to have a potent forward line. Gippsland Power’s Maddison Shaw has also joined the Hawks, and is one of just two 2001-birth players on the list. A huge contender.

 

MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY MUGARS

Coach: Scott Gowans
Last year: 9th (5-9)

The Mugars were up and down at times throughout the 2018 VFLW season, finishing with five wins from 14 games, but having some great young talent come into the side last in the year, including Prepsakis and Webster who were both drafted by AFLW clubs. Sophie Abbatangelo, Ashleigh Riddell, Maddison Smith, Chloe Haines, Libby Haines and Nicole Bresnehan all stepped up to the senior side, with many showing their ability to adapt to the faster pace of the game. After a huge season that ultimately fell short of a finals berth in the AFLW, North Melbourne and Melbourne Uni coach, Scott Gowans will be keen to continue the form shown by the Kangaroos at AFLW level, into the VFLW system. Emma Kearney was terrific for the Mugars last year along with Kaitlyn Ashmore, and expect them to be key players once again. They have added experience to their list with Hawthorn duo, Tahni Nestor and Kim Ebb, as well as Essendon’s Jessica Anwyl who showed promising signs last season in the red and black. Throw in league best and fairest winner, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton, and the Mugars have to be considered one of the premiership favourites. All up they have 23 AFL Women’s listed players and will be another tough team to beat.

 

NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER

Coach: Heidi Thompson (NEW)
Last year: 3rd (11-3) – Semi-final loss

Much was spoken about the Thunder and whether or not the experienced top-heavy side with Adelaide Crows, could be allowed to play so much talent at once. Early in the season it looked like the Thunder would skip through the season, but in the end, ultimately fell in the first week of finals to the Cats. After missing out on her AFLW dream last year, Janet Baird is the biggest junior recruit to the Thunder in season 2019, with the NTFL Women’s top player signing on at the Thunder for the upcoming season. She joins the likes of Madeline Gault, Arthurina Moreen and Tabitha May, who all played for Central Allies in 2018, but missed out on a chance in the AFLW. The top-end and upcoming talent at the Thunder is clear, with Ebony Marinoff, Stevie-Lee Thompson, Marijana Rajcic, Renee Forth, Eloise Jones and Sarah and Jess Allen among a ridiculous among of Crows talent in the side. They were arguably a premiership favourite early in 2018, and should be in that place once again given the improvement of many of the Crows through the 2019 AFLW premiership year. With Heidi Thompson now taking the reigns from Tim Weatherald, it will be interesting to see how she balances the AFLW talent throughout the season.

 

RICHMOND TIGERS

Coach: Tom Hunter
Last year: 12th (4-10)

The Tigers had a disappointing season in 2018, finishing twelfth and losing to Essendon, the only side to do so. They, like the Bombers just lacked that star quality in the 2018 VFLW season, but if their 2019 AFLW trade period is anything to go by, expect them to shoot up the ladder in season 2019. Jessica Kennedy and Jacqueline Graham were two standouts for the Tigers, it was just a case of adding depth to the obvious talent that was coming through the ranks. While some will play limited games, the likes of Monique Conti, Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick make for a scary forward line. With Richmond able to pre-list players this season, every player on the list will be keen to impress in front of the Tigers’ hierarchy and see what they can do to try and get an AFLW spot for the 2020 season. Overlooked Murray Bushrangers, Tamara Smith, Grace Egan and Sophie Damon are back at Punt Road, while Kodi Jacques has also joined the club with the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder looking to stake her claim this year. Former Magpies, Shayla Marsh and Hannah McLaren will don the yellow and black this year, making the Tigers stocked with young talent that will create run and excitement throughout the 2019 season. Expect the Tigers to rise up the ladder, and while they might lack the AFLW talent other teams have outside their forward 50, they could overtake a number of the clubs around their level in season 2018, this year.

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Coach: Sean Kavanagh (NEW)
Last year: 6th (7-7)

Sean Kavanagh has taken over from Debbie Lee who is now VFLW General Manager at the club, and will be looking to reshape the side that has lost some serious AFLW talent. Conti always spent the majority of the season playing basketball, while Brennan will be a big lose inside 50. However with 20 AFLW players on their list, they still have more than enough talent and experience to get them by. Their three top-age players they have picked up from NAB League Girls clubs are Sophie Molan, Ella Wood and Elisabeth Georgostathis which is arguably the best trio of pick-ups across the league. Molan will make an immediate impact, while Wood and Georgostathis can play both off half-back and through the middle. They will be unavailable during the AFLW National Championships, but expect them to show their talent. Overager Georgia Pidgeon will also provide some height for the Bulldogs, while a host of local players joins the likes of Ellie Blackburn, Brooke Lochland, Isabel Huntington and Deanna Berry as key players. When talking about experience, the Bulldogs have 14 players with 30 or more games, making them a very experienced side in the competition, and one that while they might not be in the top handful, could still challenge for finals.

 

WILLIAMSTOWN

Coach: Amy Catterall
Last year: 11th (4-10)

Williamstown finished eleventh in 2019, notching up the four wins, but had some serious top-end talent at the Gulls’ disposal. Duffin won the league best and fairest despite the team struggles, while Garner and Bruton were stars for Williamstown before emulating that for the Kangaroos at AFLW level. Big question marks remain over the Seagulls with all three departing the club. It means the load falls onto their VFLW listed players shoulders and puts them in a similar position to Essendon and Richmond last year. They had a good win over the Western Bulldogs in a pre-season practice match, and can have the continuity that teams with restricted AFLW numbers cannot. However this year is set to be a massive challenge for the Seagulls after losing so much top-end talent, with Demon, Aliesha Newman being a key signing – the only AFLW player on the list – and likely to cause headaches inside 50 for opposition defences. In doing so, there might be some serious youngsters step up and then make a case to land at an AFLW club, like former Bendigo Pioneers’ captain Megan Williamson, Eastern Ranges’ tall Tahlia Merrett and Bendigo Pioneers’ key defender Kate Douglass.

NAB League Girls Round 8 wash-up: Knights rise while Ranges book finals spot

THIS round brought plenty of excitement with the top of the table clash between the Northern Knights and Geelong Falcons headlining the round, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels potentially ended Oakleigh Chargers’ finals campaign, as Calder Cannons put themselves in the best position possible, winning over Bendigo Pioneers. Eastern Ranges booked a finals spot with an impressive win, while other victors were the Dandenong Stingrays and Western Jets, the latter of whom won their second consecutive match.

Calder Cannons 4.6 (30) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 1.3 (9)
By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Calder: A. Magri, Z. Hardiman, G. Patrikios, F. Theodore
Bendigo: E. Snell

BEST:

Calder: L. Cocomello, T. Crook, K. Petrevski, I. Young, G. Patrikios, N. Crowley
Bendigo: K. Douglass, B. Hards, D. Villiva, J. Finning, B. Heiden, T. Coad

It was a slow start for both sides with neither team able to score a goal in the opening term. Heading into half time the Bendigo Pioneers held a six-point margin scoring the only major for the term. But the goals seemed to be easier to find in the second half for the Calder Cannons who kicked into gear and applied strong pressure. Laura Cocomello impressed across the ground for the Cannons working hard at the contest and winning a heap of the ball with 17 touches. Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis led the way once again racking up 27 and 30 possessions respectively. Both were clean with the footy in hand with Patrikios making the most of her accuracy by foot with a game high 23 kicks and one goal for her efforts. Alana Barba applied good physical pressure laying nine tackles and did the little things well to worry her opponent out of the contest, while Krstel Petrevski was clever with ball in hand and made each possession count. For the Pioneers Brooke Hards put on a tackling masterclass with a whopping 16 showcasing her physicality and intent to win the ball. Jemma Finning also won plenty of footy for her side and fought hard throughout the game with the likes of Dakota Villiva also doing a wealth of work. Elizabeth Snell displayed her attacking flair with three inside 50s and the only goal for her side.

Dandenong Stingrays 6.4 (40) defeated Murray Bushrangers 3.9 (27)
By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Dandenong: I. Shannon, A. Liddle, J. Guy-Toogood, J. Anthony, G. Grimmer, T. Smith
Murray: T. Verhoeven, A. Favell, A. Morphett

BEST:

Dandenong: B. Vernon, T. Smith, I. Shannon, J. Guy-Toogood, G. Howes, Z. Hill
Murray: A. Favell, M. Brown, K. Skepper, T. Brett, M. Jones, K. Adams

Dandenong Stingrays have held off a determined Murray Bushrangers outfit on their way to a 13-point win at Shepley Oval on Saturday. The Stingrays led by 11 points at quarter time, but the Bushrangers booted the only two goals of the second term to hit the front by four points. Dandenong hit back in the third term with a couple of majors, and led for the rest of the game as Murray missed a few chances in front of goal. A late goal to Abby Favell saw the Bushrangers draw to within a goal, but a Tyanna Smith major in the last minute sealed the win, 6.4 (40) to 3.9 (27). Brooke Vernon finished as Dandenong’s best with 19 disposals, two marks, two tackles and 12 rebounds, while Isabella Shannon finished with 14 disposals, five inside 50s and a goal. Smith stood up in the second half with her match-winning goal, while Molly McDonald continued her consistent form with 13 disposals, three marks and five inside 50s. Favell was the standout player on the field, racking up 26 disposals, four marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds in the defeat. Millie Brown was also strong in defence, finishing the game with 24 disposals and seven rebounds.

Western Jets 3.1 (19) defeated Sandringham Dragons 1.3 (9)
By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Western: J. Goodman 2, M. Ham.
Sandringham: A. Moloney.

BEST:

Western: P. Ozols, E. Georgostathis, I. Pritchard, R. Tripodi, A. Anthony, C. Singleton
Sandringham: S. Hartwig, D. Walker, A. Burke, A. Moloney, M. Purcell, L. de Gleria Cade

Western Jets have celebrated back-to-back wins after downing Sandringham Dragons at Avalon Airport Oval. The Jets hit the front in the second term after trailing by two points at the first break, booting 2.3 to 0.1 in the final three quarters to secure the win. Despite keeping them to one behind for three quarters, the Jets never looked entirely safe, holding strong in the final term despite the Dragons doing all the attacking in the quarter. Opposite centre half-backs Isabelle Pritchard (18 disposals, four marks and four rebounds) and Sarah Hartwig (17 disposals, four marks and five rebounds) were standouts on the day, rebounding and marking everything that came in their path. For the winners, Elisabeth Georgostathis had a game-high 22 touches as well as five marks and eight rebounds coming off half-back, while Payton-Ani Ozols was also impressive with 11 disposals, three marks and two tackles running on the outside and providing some drive for the Jets. For the Dragons, Alice Burke was strong again with 17 disposals, two marks and three tackles, while Daisy Walker had 16 disposals, three inside 50s and laid seven tackles in her best game this season.

Gippsland Power 2.1 (13) defeated by Eastern Ranges 9.10 (64)
By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Gippsland: N. Williams, M. Van Berkel.
Eastern: S. Gibbs 3, B. Deed, S. Collard, M. Church, T. Brown, R. O”Dwyer, J. Richardson.

BEST:

Gippsland: M. Fitzsimon, C. Bird, M. Shaw, C. Abrahams , N. Webber, G. McRae
Eastern: J. Richardson, T. Brown, S. Gibbs, M. Di Cosmo, T. Flintoff, L. McClelland

Eastern Ranges produced their most commanding win of the year, defeating Gippsland Power by 51 points at Morwell Recreation Reserve. The Ranges looked impressive throughout the game on their way to the big win to cement a finals spot. It took until the tenth minute of the first term for Eastern to put through its first goal, but by quarter time they had three goals from seven scoring shots to lead by 22 points. Gippsland booted one goal in the second term, but the Ranges added a further two, extending their lead to 31 by the main break. By three quarter time the Ranges led by 44 points, and the margin got out to as much as 57 at one stage before the Power booted the final goal of the game through Matilda Van Berkel. Emma Horne picked up a game-high 28 touches, while Jenna Richardson was named the Ranges best for her 16 disposals, six marks, five inside 50s and a goal. Tarni Brown and Tess Flintoff were again busy with a combined 45 disposals, 11 inside 50s and 12 tackles, while Serena Gibbs slotted 3.4 from 18 disposals and six marks. For Gippsland, Megan Fitzsimon had 16 disposals, four rebounds and six tackles, while Grace McRae was again strong in the midfield with 17 disposals and three rebounds. Charlize Bird had 12 disposals, two marks and six tackles, while Chandra Abrahams was strong defensively, laying five tackles.

GWV Rebels 3.2 (20) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 2.7 (19)
By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

GWV: L. Condon, S. Molan, Z. Larkins.
Oakleigh: M. Bertuna, A. Porter.

BEST:

GWV: N. Dojiok, M. Caris, R. Saulitis, C. Willis, E. Wood, L. Condon
Oakleigh: K. Kearns, G. Lagioia, A. Porter, A. van Oosterwijck, J. Lin, A. Micallef

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels spoiled Oakleigh Chargers’ finals campaign, kicking a goal in the dying minutes to win by a point. Trailing for most of the contest after holding a one-point lead at quarter time, the Rebels kept the Chargers to just five behinds in the second half as teamwork and cohesion across the field from the underdogs was terrific. In the end, it was a Lilli Condon goal that separated the sides, as the Rebels held on for dear life in the last 90 seconds with the ball deep in their defence. They held strong and partied after the siren, with much jubilation and elation across the ground having toppled a highly fancied side. Sophie Molan was unsurprisingly the dominant ball winner for the Rebels, picking up 20 disposals, having five tackles and kicking a great goal. Ella Wood and Nekaela Butler were both good out of defence moving up the ground, while Nyakoat Dojiok was superb collecting 12 disposals, five marks, five tackles and two inside 50s. For the Chargers, Joanna Lin racked up 21 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two inside 50s, while Mimi Hill had 20 touches, five marks, two tackles and four inside 50s were busy. Alana Porter was terrific with her speed across the ground, and Kalarni Kearns named best for the losing side for her work in the ruck.

Geelong Falcons 0.7 (7) defeated by Northern Knights 6.7 (43)

GOALS:
Geelong: Nil
Northern: A. Bannan 2, N. Morris-Dalton, J. Fitzgerald, C. Linssen, M. Appleby

BEST:
Geelong: P. Sheppard, L. Gardiner, L. McEvoy, A. Chapman, L. Lesosky-Hay, M. Skinner
Northern: E. McKenzie, G. Newton, S. Sansonetti, A. Bannan, T. Smart, J. Nelson

The Northern Knights inflicted Geelong Falcons’ first defeat since Round 4 2017, winning by 36 points in a dominant display to snatch top spot and remain undefeated.

The Knights looked on and meant business from the get-go at Deakin University, throwing star trio Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie, and Britney Gutknecht into the first centre bounce. On the other side, Falcons coach Jason Armistead had shuffled the magnets heavily, with skipper Lucy McEvoy a notable starter across half-back. After a tense opening few minutes, the Knights broke away in a flash with three goals in as many minutes mid-way through the first term. As expected, the hosts threw everything back at their opponents to start the following quarter, dictating general play in the first 10 minutes and narrowly missing chances to open their goal account. It was to no avail though, as Northern applied smothering pressure and held on to keep the term goalless, taking a 15-point advantage into the main break.

With Geelong lacking a spark after seeing its efforts go unrewarded, the Knights continued to break open an unassailable lead in the third stanza on the back of a Jess Fitzgerald goal – the only goal for the term. Armistead did his best to rally his side at the final change, referring to Superbowl comeback victories and encouraging his side to take the game on. The Falcons needed a spark, and hedged their bets on winning the first centre clearance – hopefully kicking into the hands of McEvoy at centre half-forward. It was not to be as the ball found its way up the other end, and the Knights delivered two more crushing blows to seal the win.

The game ended on a sour note, with Northern’s Gulia Ceravolo downed unintentionally by a hard Renee Tierney tackle, forcing an early stoppage of the contest mid-way through the final term as she received treatment. It proved to be a bruising encounter for both sides, with Poppy Schapp sporting an ice pack and sling after a solid bump from McKenzie.

McKenzie and Newton were outstanding for Northern, providing a point of difference as cool heads in the hotly contested opening stages. Fitzgerald, Maykaylah Appleby, and Alyssa Bannan proved handfuls with their forward running and managed to hit the scoreboard alongside focal point, Nell Morris-Dalton. Up the other end, Sarah Sansonetti played a sensational role on Mia Skinner to quell Geelong’s main scoring threat. On a tough day for the Falcons, Paige Sheppard was combative as ever through the midfield alongside Laura Gardiner, while Abbey Chapman stood up under enormous pressure down back. McEvoy’s selfless role across each line was also fantastic, with her rebound and overhead marking a feature early on.

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 8

ROUND 8 saw some big clashes with the Northern Knights handing the Geelong Falcons their first loss in two years in the NAB League Girls. We took note of some of the top performers that respective Female Talent Managers highlighted at the start of the season as ones to watch. We attended five games live and noted the final game at the bottom. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

Calder Cannons 4.6 (30) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 1.3 (9)
By: Taylah Melki

Calder 

#2 Felicity Theodore

She had a relatively quiet first half, not finding much of the footy but well and truly worked her way into the game in the second half. She kicked a good crumbing goal in the third after picking the ball up out the back of the pack and taking a couple of steps to dribble it through for a goal. Theodore also showcased her good vision and attacking mind set to push her side forward.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

She was involved early, getting hands to the ball at the stoppages and showing good spatial awareness to dish the ball out to teammates. She had good strong hands to take a solid grab in the first quarter and showcased her ability to read the play. Patrikios consistently attacked the ball hard, sets up play for her teammates and had really good hands. She showed great control of the ball while on the run and kicked a good crumbing goal in the third quarter to stay down and cleanly pick the ball up and then turn and kick. She used her long booming kick to propel the ball into the forward 50 and knew where to position the ball to her teammates advantage. She was clean around the stoppages working hard to extract the footy and ran hard both ways making her presence felt across the field.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

After a quiet start Petrevski came alive in the second half. She had a good passage of play receiving a handball and steaming forward to kick to a teammate in the third term and used her booming kick to move the ball forward on multiple occasions. Her hands in close were also impressive and applied strong pressure across the ground. She was creative with ball in hand and worked hard to move the ball into an attacking position throughout the game.

#41 Georgie Prespakis 

Prespakis continued her dominant form and seemed to have plenty of time and space with ball in hand. Her ability to sidestep her opponents and then dish it off to a teammate was second to none and she consistently pushed hard to create attacking options. She showed good courage to go back with the flight of the ball while second efforts were impressive working hard to try and win the ball back for her side. Prespakis never seemed far from the footy winning plenty of it both at the coalface and across the ground for the Cannons. She read the tap out of the ruck exceptionally well, used her beautiful long booming kick to her sides advantage and provided repeat entries into forward 50. Won a heap of the ball in the third and had an impressive passage of play with a tunnel ball handball while getting tackled out to a teammate in space.

Bendigo 

#1 Maeve Tupper

Tried hard throughout the game to impact the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball to take a big intercept mark in the middle of the ground and propel her team forward, good smother in the second quarter showcasing her ability to track the ball and apply strong defensive pressure on the ball carrier.

#3 Elizabeth Snell

Good clean grab of the footy and pushed hard to move the ball forward. She showed some good evasive skills to break free at the contest and go forward. Snell displayed good vision to hit up teammates in space and identify passages of play. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and go for a big mark against her taller opponent and tried hard throughout game to keep her side in it. She also used her body well around the stoppages to try and out manoeuvre her opponent and get free. 

#4 Brooke Hards 

Made an impact from the get go, tackling hard and was ferocious at the contest. Good read of the flight of the ball and took an intercept mark showcasing her strength. Hards had clean hands at ground level to crumb and then pass it off and tracked the ball well at ground level. She was strong in the contest not afraid to put her body on the line and take a bump. She kept her arms free and dished off a clever handball to a teammate in a better position in the second term credit to her spatial awareness and general footy smarts. Hards also laid some good strong tackles throughout the game.

#19 Jemma Finning

Good lead up at the footy, and well weighted kick to an opponent on the lead in the forward 50 in the first quarter. Her second efforts were good, worked hard to win the ball and had good support run to provide an option for her teammates. She got busy in the second quarter around the contest and was strong to push off an opponent and maintain possession. Finning used her booming kick to propel the ball forward and keep the ball moving in attack. 

Dandenong Stingrays 6.4 (40) defeated Murray Bushrangers 3.9 (27)
By: Peter Williams

Dandenong:

#10 Abbey Jordan

Played on a wing and had some nice plays throughout the game, putting pressure on defenders at half-forward and also getting back to assist at half-back. On a number of occasions, she was able to nullify contests through a quick kick before being tackled or bumped, or was able to impact opposition players while in possession, forcing mistakes.

#12 Molly McDonald

The captain played on the ball and provided good strength at ground level. She continually put her body on the line and while a lot of the good work she did would not find its way onto a stats sheet, her defensive pressure and one percenters were very impressive. She is a team-orientated player and showed good vision on the inside to find teammates free on the outside.

#26 Isabella Shannon

Kicked an important goal in the third term when they needed it, and roamed around the forward half, playing midfield and inside 50. She exited stoppages well, moving around opposition players and was able to get boot to ball while being brought down in tackles. After kicking the goal, Shannon won the next clearance from the midfield and put it inside 50 to a teammates’ advantage.

#28 Tyanna Smith

Smith stood up when it counted late, turning it on with a great running clearance late in the final term, then booted the winning goal coming out of a forward stoppage on the run, negotiating the breeze perfectly. Still had moments of strength and grace throughout the game, but it was the last quarter which stood out.

#31 Brooke Vernon

Played her reliable game in defence, tasked with the kick-outs and pushing up the ground when required. She was able to have a number of forward 50 entries when going inside, and also ran hard to lay a good tackle on the last line of defence in the third term to force a throw-in and save a potential goal.

#51 Zoe Hill

Often rebounded and pushed up the ground to provide an extra number at a contest at half-back. Hill won a number of free kicks for her fierce tackling and was composed under pressure in the back half.

Murray:

#6 Chelsea Hargreaves

The NSW/ACT representative played in defence and was able to move the ball quickly in transition. She showed a nice few quick steps before clearing the ball long and was able to get through a couple of players backing herself in, late in the game but her handball was intercepted. It was still promising to see her take the game on, which she tried to do with another strong run and kick out of defence going long down the field.

#7 Kate Adams

Played a pressure role through the midfield and forward end, just doing team things but chasing opponents and forcing them to dispose of the ball quicker than they would have liked. She took a nice steady mark under pressure at half-back at one stage, and in another instance was able to win the ball at ground level, handball it off and then apply a shepherd for a teammate to run with it.

#8 Abby Favell

Had the ball on a string throughout the game, particularly in the first quarter. Just ran and ran all day long. Not only was her accumulation on point, but her defensive pressure was superb as well. She laid a great goal-saving tackle in the first term and while some of her kicks were intercepted, she followed up with strong second efforts and just kept running, bringing her teammates into the game through handballs. She forced a number of turnovers through her tackling, and also showed off a clean set of heels by sidestepping an opponent at half-back and taking off. Kicked a late goal in the final term after sneaking 20m out from goal, wasting no time slotting the set shot and bring the Bushrangers back within six points. Best afield despite being in a losing side.

#19 Millie Brown

Another standout player for the Bushrangers, what impressed me most about Brown’s game was her last term. While the defence was under siege she was able to maintain her composure and just keep it going forward. She intercepted a number of kicks inside defensive 50 and worked hard throughout the match to keep her team in the game. She would often bring a teammate into the play with one-two handballs, but her interceptions on the wing and long bombs inside 50 were among the crucial plays that kept the game alive for the visitors.

#45 Olivia Barber

Barber is a raw talent that once she can convert her opportunities into goals, it will make her an incredibly damaging. The tall forward works hard for her leads and creates space well, and can also clunk a lot of marks. She just missed some gettable shots, which is something that can be easily fixed, just adjusting the kicking style. Continues to impress and is one to watch as she develops, and more so her field kicking is also sound, so just ironing it out in front of goal.

Western Jets 3.3 (21) defeated Sandringham Dragons 1.3 (9)
By: Peter Williams

Western:

#13 Isabella Grant

Returning to the side, Grant rotated between forward and midfield, having a good battle with Sarah Hartwig early. Both players impressed with Grant winning the battle with her smarts at ground level, while Hartwig impressed with her ability in the air. Grant used her body well around the ground to knock opponents off the ball and give off quick handballs to teammates running by. In one instance in the second term she bumped an opponent away, picked up the ball, spun around and kicked long down the wing. In the third term she had a couple of shots on goal with one fading to the right and the next going to the opposite pocket out on the full. Overall had her moments through the midfield in transition.

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

The captain played her usual consistent game coming out of half-back, winning the ball at ground level and looking to run down the middle to get her team forward. She cracked in hard throughout four quarters and showed strength in tackles by getting her hands free. Led the team well and stepped up late in the game to nullify a few contests.

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

A standout for the Jets throughout the game, intercepting inside 50s at will, positioning herself well in marking contests and kicking long to midfield. She laid a goal-saving tackle at one stage close to the boundary line, earning herself a free. Pritchard won a number of free kicks as well for chopping of the arms or holding because of her dominance in defence. She weighed up between pushing up and dropping back, taking a couple of crucial marks late in the game to settle the team.

Sandringham:

#25 Sarah Hartwig

The clear best for Sandringham on the day, Hartwig was ultra-impressive at centre half-back spending time on Isabella Grant and then other opponents while focusing maintaining her line. She copped a knock in the first term on the wing but got up and became one of the Dragons most influential players, winning a number of one-on-one contests by reading the ball in flight well. Such was her impact when she was taken off for a rest last in the third term, Western booted a goal. Had plenty of marks and rebounds as well as one percenters.

#28 Alice Burke

Hunted the football and while she did not win as much of it as she has before, she just kept getting her hands in at ground level and feeding the ball out to teammates. Won a free kick late in the game for being bumped high and kept cracking in with either tackles or hardball gets on the inside of the contest.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Roamed along the wing and was another player who copped a hard bump early in the fourth term, but returned to play on. She moved well out of stoppages and was able to kick long down the middle, buzzing around the midfield and providing an option for her teammates to run and carry the ball forward.

Greater Western Victoria 3.2 (20) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 2.7 (19)
By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#9 Renee Saulitis

Played a different role to her usual smart forward role many have become accustomed to, but still was able to use her smarts and foot skills to advantage. If anything, she was able to have a greater impact on the contest because of her footy IQ and ability to dish off the ball quickly under pressure. She uses the ball well and one of her best moments was actually a defensive one – laying a run-down tackle on Mimi Hill on the wing, earning a free kick.

#10 Ella Wood

Spent time off half-back and pushing up through the midfield, Wood was strong throughout the four quarters with her defensive work and hard running. She forced a number of turnovers and pushed up to win the ball and bring teammates into the game, working well with a one-two handball combination with a teammate on the wing in the second term as an example of where she was able to get the ball moving forward. Was involved in the final goal with good strength at the stoppage.

#24 Sophie Molan

Never plays a bad game and Molan just kept consistent throughout the four quarters, booting the opening goal of the game and winning the footy at will. She missed a snap on goal initially but made up for it with a goal on the run, and then spread around the ground providing good strength at ground level or in the air. Molan executed the perfect handball out of the stoppage to Lilli Condon for the winning goal in the final term.

#30 Nyakoat Dojiok

One of the Rebels best, providing run and carry across the ground from half-back to the wing. She primarily was stationed on the wing and was often used in transition. On some occasions she might have done a bit too much, but she was still able to get the ball free even when under pressure. Most promising sign was the fact she continually tried to break the lines and create something for the Rebels and her burst of speed worried the opposition. Also has quick hands and was able to dispose of the ball quickly when being tackled.

#35 Maggie Caris

Provided her midfielders with first hands more often than not continuing her good season. What separates Caris from many other rucks is her cleanliness at ground level, and her ability to control the ball once in her hands. She is a one-touch player and has a long kick that can hit targets.

Oakleigh:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

The silky midfielder showed off her slick skills primarily off half-back, winning the ball and then executing 45-degree kicks opening up angles and avenues for her team to go forward. While the game was scrappy at times, Lagioia was able to add a touch of class with her foot skills and hit-up targets repetitively and keep the ball moving. She was also not afraid to take the opposition on, sidestepping an opponent and kicking long to the wing in the second term.

#2 Mimi Hill

Worked hard for four quarters and was influential early pushing up the ground and getting some important inside 50s for her teammates. Provided an option in the back half of the ground, combining with Lagioia at one stage, getting the ball forward. Hill had a flying shot on goal in the second term but just missed to the right while on a tight angle.

#8 Alana Porter

One of Oakleigh’s best throughout and just missed out on finishing off in front of goal. Kicked a major from a set shot, but missed a couple of opportunities to add to her tally in the third term. Not only did Porter use her trademark burst of speed to good effect, but she also applied plenty of defensive pressure, laying some big tackles and bumps on opponents to force turnovers. When tackled herself, Porter stood up in tackles and was able to get her hands free.

Geelong Falcons 0.7 (7) defeated by Northern Knights
By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Elise Vella

It was not Vella’s most productive day as the Falcons struggled for goals, but the diminutive forward took on her usual role of creating pressure around the contest and looked dangerous forward of centre. Had a nice passage where she took her opponent on and carried the ball through the middle of the ground, and also spent some time in the midfield during the second half.

#8 Paige Sheppard

Was in the thick of everything early, proving Geelong’s most productive player at stoppages and in the game overall. Sheppard accumulated a good amount of ball and tried her best to push the Falcons forward, but often saw her kicks smothered or compensated for distance given the wealth of contested situations she found herself in. Was particularly impressed with her combativeness, and Sheppard looked unfazed in physical battles against much taller midfield opponents.

#12 Laura Gardiner

The middle-ager was outstanding in one of her better performances for the year, and was one of the few Falcons midfielders to show composure in heavy traffic. Often a damaging driver forward on the outside, Gardiner won a fair amount of the ball at stoppages around the ground and looked to weave her way out of trouble instead of blazing away. While that inevitably happened at times anyway, Gardiner has plenty of time to refine her already strong skill base.

#18 Darcy Moloney

Moloney was one who seemed to struggle at times amidst the Knights’ pressure around the ball, but dug in hard as she typically does. Could have had a better return had she not missed a tough snapped chance, with some of her second half minutes spent inside the forward 50. Was often swamped when in possession, but showed good strength in tackles trying to break away.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman stood up in an under-siege defence, providing a cool head and cutting off as many Northern forward forays as she could. Showed her high-level reading of the play with a couple of nice intercept marks, and backed them up with neat kicks and sharp decision making. While the ball often came right back, Chapman was hardly beaten one-on-one despite Northern finding most of their goals from marks at close range.

#24 Mia Skinner

Often the leader of Geelong’s attack, Skinner was quelled well by Northern defender Sarah Sansonetti. Playing as a lead-up centre half-forward, Skinner’s effort could not be faulted as she worked her opponent over with runs up to the wing and then hard back towards goal. Missed a couple of difficult chances in the first half which would have really boosted Geelong’s chances of staying in the game, but is usually a clinical finisher.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

McEvoy was central to coach Jason Armistead’s heavy shuffling of the magnets – starting off half-back, moving into the midfield as the Knights got on top, and then being thrown forward at the start of the last term as Geelong looked to find her with the first clearance for a quick goal. Used her long and penetrating kick to good effect from defence to rebound, and played the role of a general well. Her overhead marking was also outstanding, and probably would have stood out more if it was not so expected of her. Most of them came as McEvoy positioned herself a kick off the ball when it was inside the Falcon’s forward arc, with her attempt against two Knights opponents in the second term the best of the lot. Continues to show she can play anywhere, and is a true leader in that sense as she can sacrifice her own game for the benefit of the team.

#39 Renee Tierney

Had some really impressive moments across the match, but was ultimately unable to find the goal as she often does. Her best chance was a stray snap, but a lot of her possessions were found up the ground as she looked to work with Skinner as a link forward. Tierney’s clean hands both overhead on leads and below her knees at speed were fantastic, and allowed the Falcons to create chances to move forward quickly with much of the game played in dispute. Showed good defensive intentions with a crunching tackle on Northern’s Gulia Ceravolo in the final term which unfortunately ended the match.

Northern:

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Morris-Dalton was a force inside 50, playing one of her better games for the year. The key forward booted the first goal of the game after a one-on-one mark, setting the tone for a game where she intelligently found space inside 50 and worked hard to do so. A couple of impressive loose ball gets allowed Morris-Dalton to find Alyssa Bannan inside 50 just as impressively, and she picked out targets well to give Northern good looks at goal.

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan was another Knight who proved dangerous in the forward half, and benefitted from the smart work of Morris-Dalton to combine for Northern’s second goal in the first term. Bannan was persistent around the contests early on and tackled hard, but proved most damaging when the ball was delivered to her over the back as she streamed forward and delivered inside 50. Could have added another goal in the third term but missed on the run in an otherwise impressive performance.

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Like Bannan, Fitzgerald was fantastic going forward with lightning runs to set the Knights into attack. Seemed to be doing everything right early on with a neat kick and an overhead mark on the forward 50 arc both catching the eye. Fitzgerald continued her form in the second term with a clever passage to combine with Britney Gutknecht, and pressed to find the goals with multiple snaps from deep in the pocket either falling short or missing to the narrow side. She managed to find the big sticks in the third quarter with a set shot conversion, and her best moment came with a weaving break through three opponents through the middle of the ground to cap off a promising display.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Fulfilled one of the most important roles for the Knights, wearing Mia Skinner like a glove in a fantastic defensive effort. While her kicking at times was a little off, Sansonetti was hardly beaten one-on-one and looked a force in the air as she chimed in with spoils and contested marking attempts. In one of the best plays of the game, she laid a crunching bump on Paige Sheppard to force a spillage and followed up by winning the ball to the applause of her coaches on the bench.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Named the Knights’ best on the day, and it is hardly any wonder why. McKenzie was a step above with her decision making and ability to remain composed on the ball, finding targets by hand and foot with ease. While constantly looking to wheel onto her left side could have sold her into trouble, McKenzie was good enough to bide her time and escape being caught. Playing through the midfield, perhaps the most pleasing part of McKenzie’s game was her physicality – as she laid a huge bump off the back of her own kick forward, as well as another on Poppy Schapp which unfortunately saw the diminutive Falcon forced off through injury. Scary to think McKeznie has another year left in the system, and showed she can dominate in the middle just as much as she does up forward.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Employed in the midfield for much of the game, Gutknecht looked like having a big one after winning a running clearance at the very first centre bounce. While her output was slightly down across the day, Gutknecht had some good moments and managed to find the ball around the ground. She often looked to take the game on, but sometimes came unstuck in the back half when playing on after marks – which could be a product of her natural forward tendencies. Almost took a courageous mark late on, with the impressive effort catching the eye as the result was beyond doubt.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton was productive as ever through the midfield, providing a point of difference in the frantic opening stages with calm use at the stoppages and impressive moves through traffic. Newton often handed the ball out effectively to her outside runners, and while she overdid it at times, was great to watch as others blazed away by foot. Much like McEvoy did for the Falcons, Newton positioned herself a kick off the play while the ball was disputed inside either 50 arc, taking a couple of high marks as she so often does. Newton’s understanding of the game was on full show in such positions, and she played a huge part in not allowing Geelong clean inside 50 entries.

In the other game over the weekend…

Gippsland Power 2.1 (13) defeated by Eastern Ranges 9.10 (64)

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams – Named in the best laying five tackles from eight disposals and continued her strong defensive pressure.
#9 Maddison Shaw – Again busy through the midfield and getting back in defence with 13 disposals, two rebounds and six tackles.
#12 Megan Fitzsimon – Named best by the Power for her 16 disposals, six tackles and four rebounds.
#26 Grace McRae – Had 17 disposals, two tackles and three rebounds in a hard working effort.

Eastern:

#26 Tarni Brown – Classy with 24 touches, eight tackles and seven inside 50s, pumping the ball long and setting up her teammates while finishing with a goal.
#33 Tess Flintoff – Returned and was impressive again with 21 touches, seven marks, four tackles and four inside 50s.
#39 Laura McClelland – Named among the best again with 12 disposals, two marks and five tackles in the win.
#46 Serena Gibbs – Had seven shots on goal, booting 3.4 from 18 disposals, six marks and six inside 50s, while also having five hitouts in the ruck in another impressive performance.

NAB League Girls preview: Round 5

THE halfway point of the inaugural NAB League Girls is up this weekend, with Round 5 shaping up to have a host of interesting matchups. The Calder Cannons will be looking to maintain their high position on the ladder with another win this week, while two other matches will include the other four sides in the top five of the competition.

CALDER CANNONS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 5 – 6/4/19
12pm
Rams Arena, Craigieburn

The Calder Cannons will have the home advantage when they take on the Murray Bushrangers to open Round 5, and will come in needing a burst of confidence after a 10 point loss to the Oakleigh Chargers last week disrupted their fantastic start to the season. The third placed Cannons will take on Murray in eighth, sitting on two and two, with a disappointing loss to the Bendigo Pioneers last round likely to spark them into action this week. This week’s Murray lineup has seen a lot of changes, but Round 4 best on, Millie Brown was not one of them after a phenomenal performance last week saw her pick up 27 touches, six rebound 50s and two marks. Abby Favell also put on a great effort last round with 22 disposals, five marks and eight tackles, so will want to replicate her fine season form again this week to propel Murray to a better result than last week. Calder bottom-ager, Georgie Prespakis is back in the side this week after missing Round 4, so the Cannons will be hoping for another influential performance from her with Krstel Petrevski missing from this week’s lineup. To beat the Cannons the Bushrangers will have to boost their opportunities in front of goal, or otherwise suffer a fate similar to last week.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 5 – 6/4/19
1pm
Robinson Reserve, Doveton

The second match of Round 5 will be one to watch, with fourth placed Dandenong Stingrays hosting table toppers, Geelong Falcons. Both sides registered big wins in Round 4, so will be looking for another opportunity to get a win on the board. However, both sides seemed to have an issue with accuracy, with Geelong kicking poorly in front of goal, finishing with 17 behinds in their win against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. If the Stingrays can put on the pressure in their defence they may have an opportunity to stop the Falcons’ strong forward line in its tracks and come out on top. That being said, the Stingrays posted 12 behinds against the Gippsland Power in Round 4, so will want to make sure their kicking is on when they take on the reigning premiers. With at least 6 confirmed changes to the Stingrays’ lineup since last round, it will be interesting to see how the side takes the field against the Falcons at full strength. Luka Lesosky-Hay will be looking to replicate her strong Round 4 effort (31 disposals, eight marks) this week after being a standout performer across the board last round, but in front of goal will need to double down after three behinds contributed to Geelong’s frustrating winning margin last week. Maeve Skinner is another one who will want to boost her accuracy this round, with two goals from six kicks last week after a dominant four goal haul in Round 3. The Stingrays had five individual goalkickers against the Power, with Georgia Howes booting two, so the side will need to keep up their team effort in front of the big sticks if they want to get on top of Geelong this round.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 5 – 6/4/19
2:45pm
Trevor Barker Oval

The Oakleigh Chargers are sitting in sixth at this point of the competition, and with such a short season every point matters, so will want to win this one against the Sandringham Dragons in tenth. The Chargers have only dropped one game and drawn with Northern this year, so are shaping up to be real contenders if they keep up this good form, while the Dragons have yet to win a game. For Oakleigh, Amelia Van Oosterwijck is out of the side this week, so it will be interesting to see how they perform without one of their main targets forward. Gemma Lagioia was strong last week, with 21 touches and a goal, so will look to continue her form to get another win for her side. Meanwhile for Sandringham, Bryanna Arnold put on a good performance last week with 17 disposals and six tackles, so will want to put the pressure onto Oakleigh to aim for their first win of the season. The Dragons only managed to get two majors on the board last round, both through Sophia Rothfield, so will want to double down on that effort this week to create a strong team effort against the Chargers.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER

Round 5 – 7/4/19
11am
Epsom Huntly Reserve

Sunday’s first match will see seventh placed Bendigo Pioneers host eleventh placed Gippsland Power, with Bendigo needing a win if they want to stay in touch with the leading sides in the competition. The Pioneers had a good win against the Bushrangers last week, kicking two final quarter goals to cement their second win for the season. Tackling pressure seemed to be a major focus in that match with seven players registering five or more, while Brooke Hards alone racked up a massive 11 tackles to go with her 17 touches. The Pioneers will have to bump up their attacking pressure and volume in front of goal to combat the Power down back, with Megan Fitzsimon racking up 26 touches, five marks, four tackles and five rebounds last round while Nikia Webber was out. Webber will be back this round, so it’s likely we will see Hards and Webber line up alongside each other in this matchup. Missing from the Power this week is ball magnet, Grace McRae, while her Pioneers counterpart, Elizabeth Snell is a big inclusion for the home side.

WESTERN JETS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 5 – 7/4/19
1pm
Downer Oval, Williamstown

Cellar dwellers, Western Jets will host ninth place GWV Rebels in the penultimate match for Round 5. Both sides will be looking toward a win this week after a winless Round 4, but the Jets will want to take advantage of their opponent also sitting low on the ladder.The Rebels had a disappointing match when rendered goalless against ladder leaders, Geelong last week, though Nekaela Butler was impressive despite the loss, with 21 touches, four marks and six rebounds. Lauren Sykes put up her best performance for the season so far, with 16 disposals (15 kicks), seven rebound 50s and three tackles. The pair will be bolstered this week with the return of Ella Woods and Nyakoat Doijok, though dominant ruck, Maggie Caris has not been listed for Round 5. Isabella Grant (17 disposals, seven tackles) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (13 disposals, two rebounds) were best on for the Jets last round, however the loss of Cleo Saxon-Jones will surely be an issue through the midfield. All in all, it should be an interesting match with both sides chomping at the bit for a win.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. EASTERN RANGES

Round 5 – 7/4/19
2pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

In the final match of Round 5, second and fifth on the ladder will face off in another game that could be one to watch. Both Northern Knights and Eastern Ranges come into this round off the back of two wins in a row, so it’s likely to be a close one if Eastern put in the hard yards against last year’s grand finalists. The Ranges will want to take advantage of Alyssa Bannan being out for the Knights, however will still have the likes of Round 4 performers, Britney Gutknecht (19 disposals, six tackles, one goal) and Gabby Newton (19 disposals, five marks, five tackles) to worry about, while Nell Morris-Dalton was strong forward with two goals, 15 touches and 11 tackles in a season best performance. A second-half goal blitz from the Ranges saw them jump up the ladder last round, with Serena Gibbs and Laura McClelland kicking two goals apiece, while Tess Flintoff was also dominant, picking up 23 touches and six marks.The Knights have a number of options forward who have the ability to kick goals, so that will be the big task for Eastern this week as they aim to do what Oakleigh managed in Round 2, stifling the ball, stopping it from moving forward and going in hard at ground ball opportunities. Both teams have the ability to produce high scores and quickly, so it will certainly be an interesting match to finish up the round.

Team of the Week: NAB League Girls – Round 3

DANDENONG Stingrays and Geelong Falcons have recorded the most members in the Draft Central NAB League Girls Team of the Week for Round 3, following terrific victories. In one of the most even spreads thus far, only Bendigo Pioneers and Western Jets had one player in the team, while the other eight sides contributed two players.

Stingrays’ full-back Zoe Hill makes the team for the third consecutive week, joined in this week’s side by fellow defender Brooke Vernon, and St Kilda pre-listed recruit, Isabella Shannon. For the Falcons, Paige Sheppard and Laura Gardiner slot onto the wings, while Mia Skinner‘s four goals ensure she makes the forward line. Also in attack is forward pocket regular Britney Gutknecht, who like Hill, makes her third consecutive side. Gutknecht is joined in the team by Gabby Newton who has been named in midfield. The other two players to have been named in each Team of the Week so far, are Western Jets’ captain, Elisabeth Georgostathis and Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis – who this week is joined in the side by teammate Krystel Petrevski.

There are plenty of debutants in the Round 3 Team of the Week, with Gippsland Power defenders, Maddison Shaw and Matilda Van Berkel both making the side, as did Eastern Ranges forwards, Riley Hall and Emma Horne. Oakleigh Chargers onballer, Charlie Rowbottom – sister of Sydney’s James – had her best game so far, named in the side with the slick Gemma Lagioia. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels ruck, Isabelle Rustman also makes her debut in Team of the Week, joined by Team of the Week regular, Sophie Molan.

Olivia Barber is the presence at full forward after a couple of goals on the weekend, with the Murray Bushrangers’ bottom-ager named for the first time this year, while midfielder Abby Favell backs up her debut from Round 2. Two players who have become comfortable with the Draft Central Team of the Week are Sandringham Dragons duo, Alice Burke and Sarah Hartwig. Hartwig was named in the Team of the Week in Round 1 and is back at centre half-back again this week, while Burke was named for the second time this year for her terrific effort through midfield.

Round 3 was a tough round to pick a side, with Bendigo Pioneers’ Brooke Hards, Dandenong Stingrays’ Tyanna Smith, GWV Rebels’ Ella Wood, Western Jets’ Isabella Grant and Eastern Ranges’ Tarni Brown all in contention for a place in the team, but the strength of the midfielders this week was unbelievable.

 

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 3

WE attended five of the six NAB League Girls games, taking a look at some of the players raised by respective Female Talent Managers at the start of the season as those to watch. All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Calder Cannons

By: Peter Williams

 

Sandringham:

#22 Eliza McNamara

Impressed in the midfield working hard at the coalface for contested ball, and was winning a number of clearances. She had a consistent effort across the four quarters, and while it was not a flashy game, McNamara played her role, and along with Winnie Laing got the ball out to the Dragons runners on the outside.

#25 Sarah Hartwig

The standout key defender on the ground, Hartwig impressed once again with her closing speed and one-on-one ability. She laid a huge tackle in the first quarter, blindsiding her opponent and earning a free, while constantly competing in the air or at ground level. She is able to dispose of the ball laterally and had no problems putting her body on the line when required. Hartwig took a great flying intercept mark in the defensive 50 and earned a 50m penalty for her troubles, then took another great intercept mark at top speed going back with the flight in the final term.

#28 Alice Burke

The potential St Kilda father-daughter prospect had a terrific game throughout the four quarters, having her usual impact on the contest. What was particularly impressive was her defensive work, laying multiple tackles on opponents to cause turnovers or stoppages at crucial points in the game. In one instance she tackled Georgia Patrikios, forced a spilled ball and backed up by tackling Georgie Prespakis straight after. She put her body on the line and while sometimes she gave away free kicks due to her fierce nature, she continued to work hard, putting a perfect low darting ball inside 50 late in the game. Burke had a chance to goal from a tight angle on the boundary line in the third term, after a clean pick-up, but just missed. Overall a really promising performance in the midfield.

#30 Winnie Laing

Similar to McNamara, Laing worked hard around the stoppages and constantly dived on the ball and shovelled it out to teammates. While at times she can rush her disposals, Laing’s ability to extract the ball from a tight situation and get it forward to dangerous positions was quite noticeable. In one instant she got the ball forward to a teammate who won a free from a marking contest, but was unfortunately unable to convert the set shot.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Worked well on a wing, and although her kicking at times was a little erratic, she was able to get into space and impress with her ability to move the ball. She took a number of intercept marks in midfield and showed good speed out of a stoppage to kick it forward. Had a strong first half before a quieter second half.

Calder:

#2 Felicity Theodore

Had her moments throughout the middle of the match, using her smarts to paddle the ball in front of her in the second term to keep the play alive before giving it off to Georgia Patrikios with a quick handball. She caused a free against her when running hard forward which was unlucky, but the moment her team won back possession she took off showing her high work rate. Her pressure in the forward 50 allowed the ball to spill from a tackle and for teammate Neve Crowley to boot a goal.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

Always involved, Patrikios had a mixed bag of a day. Her clean hands and ability to sidestep opponents and seemingly make time still was evident, but she uncharacteristically missed her targets by foot at times. She still had plenty of impressive passages of play however, hitting up Krstel Petrevski on the wing in the second term, and was crucial in setting up some plays late in the game, combining well with Georgie Prespakis and Felicity Theodore inside 50 to create scoring opportunities.

#31 Krstel Petrevski

One of the more impressive players in the win, Petrevski was really prominent early, kicking out of congestion to put it to Makeisha Muller‘s advantage in the first half. She pumped it in deep in the first half, and also showed quick hands out of congestion. On a number of occasions she kicked to an area where it advantaged her forwards and troubled the opposition defence. Petrevski has shown signs at times this season, but the Round 3 clash was her most consistent across four quarters thus far.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

The exciting bottom-ager spent time in midfield and defence, and was one of the biggest ball winners on the day. She showed quick thinking on the inside with slick hands, often shovelling the ball out to the likes of Georgia Patrikios. When going forward, she set up Gloria Elarmaly for a shot on goal which was unfortunately missed. She had her own chance on goal earlier in the game, and then a late set shot, but missed both opportunities. When coming out of defence, she was able to run and carry and use good skills to kick the ball forward.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Dandenong Stingrays

By: Cameron Ross

 

GWV:

#9 Renee Saultis

Tough as nails. Got cleaned up on the wing with an awful high hip and shoulder, but got straight back up and kept on going. Relatively quiet game for her lofty standards, but  was still able to get numerous inside 50s to put pressure on the Stingray’s defence.

#10 Ella Wood

She is really tough and puts her head over the ball showing she is not afraid to go in hard at the stoppages. Wood was the Rebels best midfielder, and proved that she is a contested ball winner. She showcased her football smarts throughout the game with some clever passages of play. Some of her work in the first term set her apart from the others on the field, simply due to her ability to read the play better than her opponents and teammates.

#24 Sophie Molan

It was a true captains performance, she could not have done more. Moved forward in the second quarter and looked to have single handledly brought her side back into the game. Crunched her opponent with a huge tackle in the goal square two minutes into the second quarter and converted from that opportunity, she followed that effort up minutes later with a nice set shot. Molan moved back once the Rebels started struggling, yet was still working desperately to drag her side back into it.  She worked tirelessly throughout the game to win the ball and move into good positions across the ground to create opportunities proving her value to the side. 

#32 Isabella Simmons

Had a really good first half. Her athletic ability is fantastic seeing as though she is quite tall, and proved with the amount of touches she got in the first half that she has plenty of ability. A brain fade at the end of the second quarter really hurt her confidence, and she found the second half a little more challenging not seeing the footy as well but still tried hard throughout the match. difficult. Simmons showed she has a lot of potential and with more development and exposure could be a valuable player for the Rebels.

 

Dandenong:

#12 Molly McDonald

McDonald has a booming kick. In the second quarter, she took the centre clearance, strolled out and launched from about 50. The wind got hold of it and it just faded, but it could have been goal of the year credit to her ability to strike the ball with precision. McDonald kicked 2.3 and probably had the opportunity to kick a bag of four if she was able to convert all her shots at goal. Her volley goal from the goal square sealed the Stingrays victory proving her footy smarts.

#20 Isabella Shannon

Classy player. Shannon played in many positions all over the ground, and was outstanding throughout racking up plenty of touches. She kicked a nice goal after the Rebels turned the ball over, and she finished well. Nice set shot on goal in the third and seemed to have a hand in most of the Stingrays goals in some way credit to her attacking style of play and ability to go in hard at the contest. 

#28 Tyanna Smith

Smith had so many highlights, but her best one was a silky pickup on the wing, a bounce and a long bomb to the Rebels forward 50. She had an impact all over the ground with her clean hands, quick handballs and applied plenty of pressure laying some good strong tackles. She is proving to be a talented player for Dandenong and with further game time she could develop into an even more valuable asset for her side.  

 

Northern Knights vs. Western Jets

By: Taylah Melki

 

Northern:

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan displayed her good hands under pressure with clean pick-ups and a beautiful strong grab in the goal square. Her ability to read the flight of the ball allowed her to nail a good goal in the first quarter as she could get into a good scoring position and read the drop of the ball. She impressed with her good quick hands and pushed forward to create a real presence in the forward 50. Used her kicking ability to bomb it long inside the Knights attacking half and showcased her ability to hit up a target. Bannan provided a good contest in the air and with the wind behind her in the last quarter she kicked an impressive goal from about 40m out after a beautiful lead through the middle of the 50.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti used her good strong kick of the footy to propel the ball out of their defensive 50. She used the ball well by foot and had good hands in close. She was not afraid to put her body on the line, laying a strong tackle to bring down her opponent. She tracked the ball well and pushed into the midfield at times, using her strength to shrug off tackles and dish off handballs. 

#21 Ellie McKenzie

McKenzie impressed with her good evasive skills, shrugging off a big tackle in the first and keeping her hands free finishing off with a good handball. She showed good spatial awareness, broke through the packs at the centre bounce and pushed forward to try and create scoring opportunities for the Knights. Even when she fumbled she recovered well, got to her feet and hit up a target showcasing her footy smarts and composure. She applied a good smother and agility to pick up the ball and dish it off out of the congestion. McKenzie highlighted her speed with a good run and bounce through the middle of the ground but will be disappointed she was unable to finish off the good piece of play. She worked hard all game both in attack and defence, opening up the middle of the ground with a good pick up and precise kick into the 50. McKenzie continued to find space throughout the game and used the footy well, creating plenty of forward thrusts for the Knights.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

The midfielder displayed her beautiful strong hands and was clean at the stoppages, able to extract the footy with ease throughout the game. She kicked an impressive long goal from about 40 out off a step going right through the middle. Gutknecht applied a strong tackle to bring her opponent to ground and trap the footy in and showed good attack on the footy. She impressed with her ability to read the flight of the ball and rode the tackles well to keep her arms free and dish off a handball. She worked hard to get in and under at the stoppages and moved into good positions around the stoppages to be that release player for the Knights.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton impressed from the get-go racking up plenty of touches and using her footy smarts to impact the play across the ground. She attacked the footy hard and tracked the ball well at ground level. She was clean at the stoppages, composed under pressure and showed good control of the footy to hit up teammates. Newton applied her fair share of strong tackles and displayed her impressive vision to kick to a moving target. She was good off hands, read the play well, attacked the footy and impressed with her ability to read the play and get it out of congestion. The midfielder was never far from the contest and proved she was not afraid to put her body on the line, roving exceptionally well around the ball ups and reading the taps really well. She worked hard in defence as well, getting hands to ball and contesting the footy, ran hard all game and kept presenting to be an option across the ground.

 

Western Jets:

#13 Isabella Grant

Grant showcased her good hands in close and read the play well moving into strong positions across the ground. At the stoppages she flicked the ball out to her teammates and worked tirelessly to get in and win the footy. She showcased her clean hands and booming kick to help move the ball forward for the Jets.

#17 Elisabeth Georgostathis

Georgostathis attacked the ball hard and impressed with her speed across the ground. She showcased her spatial awareness to dodge players and pass off the footy with her clean hands. She highlighted her beautiful kick of the ball and worked hard in attack using her body well to out position her opponents. She competed well in the air and if she did not mark the ball she brought the ball to ground and followed up her work. Georgostathis roved the packs well and worked tirelessly all game to try and win the footy for the Jets using her quick hands and beautiful kick of the footy to find a teammate under pressure.  

#23 Isabelle Pritchard

She is a good long kick of the footy and showcased her strong hands in the contest, taking a big grab in the middle of the ground in the third quarter. Pritchard got involved across the ground, put her body on the line and was solid in the ruck winning a few taps to the advantage of her teammates. Her follow up work was impressive and used her long kick to help move the Jets forward. 

#25 Cleo Saxon-Jones

Saxon-Jones showcased her kicking ability with a long piercing kick into the forward 50. She displayed her strong hands taking a couple of big marks. Saxon-Jones impressed with her quick hands and good footy smarts to dish off a handball to a teammate in a better position. When in the ruck she won a few taps and read the flight of the ball well.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Bendigo Pioneers

By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Elise Vella

The diminutive forward returned for another outstanding display of forward pressure and nous around goal, buzzing around the Falcons’ 50 to make a solid impact on proceedings. Her ability to bring the ball up from ground level is invaluable, and combined with her tackling often presents Geelong with scoring opportunities. Vella booted the only goal of the third term on the back of some slick twists and turns, but was influential throughout the day.

#12 Laura Gardiner

Arguably her side’s best, Gardiner looked slick from the get-go with some smooth side-steps and a knack for taking opponents on successfully. She showed her ability to break away from opponents with strong bursts, and pushed her side forward with real intent across the game. Gardiner’s running ability also allowed her to find space in the forward half and create clear-cut chances, much like the passage for Renee Tierney’s second quarter goal. A particular highlight was her sensational intercept mark in the third term, capping a ripping performance.

#18 Darcy Moloney

Moloney cracked in hard and showed a willingness for the contest – both at ground level and with an impressive second quarter overhead mark. She has a good leap which boded well for her aerial impact, and often kicked long to be one of many Falcons to provide some serious drive. Moloney’s smother in the fourth quarter was a fitting finish to a hard-fought shift.

#21 Abbey Chapman

Chapman did not have much to do in the first three quarters, but was solid as usual at full-back when the ball came her way. Pressing off from deep in defensive 50, Chapman did well to cut off many of Bendigo’s forward forays and push the ball back the other way, making her a key part of keeping Bendigo goalless for three quarters. She went forward in the closing term and bagged a goal deep inside 50, while also leading up well in that time.

#24 Mia Skinner

The dangerous forward went one better on her three-goal effort last time out, snagging her fourth goal in the final term to cap off an exciting display of offence. Employed both deep and in her usual high half forward role, Skinner made good use of quick-fire opportunities to snap on goal and was clinical in her finishing for the most part. She just seems to find space so easily and is always in the contest when the ball arrives in Geelong’s attacking half.

#38 Lucy McEvoy

While the skipper was followed almost everywhere by Bendigo’s Brooke Hards, she still managed to find a heap of the ball in all areas of the ground. Starting at the first centre bounce, McEvoy looked on track to continue her good form in midfield, but did not quite have the same damaging effect with her disposals. Many of her better touches were handballs from in-close and she found teammates often, which has been a pleasing feature of her game. She later moved forward, and then seemed to cover for Abbey Chapman down back later on and was solid.

#39 Renee Tierney

While she still managed to hit the scoreboard, Tierney was made to earn it throughout the day by star Bendigo defender Katie Douglass. She showed good signs at ground level and looked better when working into space on leads, rather than competing one-on-one. Still, her goal came from a mark deep inside the 50 in the second term, and she provided a nice assist to Laura Ryan later on to see out her game.

 

Bendigo:

#4 Brooke Hards

Started off in her usual midfield position and provided some good tackling presence. An early tackle on Lucy McEvoy was a sign of things to come, as Hards competed well with the Geelong skipper at most contests, while also following her to both ends of the ground. Hards was still able to showcase her dash from stoppages and won some eye-catching clearances while zipping around the packs. Was named Bendigo’s best for the day.

#28 Eloise Gretgrix

The Pioneers captain joined Hards in the midfield as expected and competed hard to set the tone for her side. She is not afraid to crack in at the stoppages, and showed her competitiveness in the third quarter with some tough efforts. Also showed strong hands against two opponents in the second when Bendigo were under the pump.

#36 Katie Douglass

Despite the Pioneers leaking nine goals, Douglass was a star down back all day and had some ultra impressive moments. Matched against Renee Tierney deep in defence for most of the day, Douglass reeled in some fantastic one-on-one marks under pressure, while also staying composed in traffic when moving the ball out with her booming left foot. She pushed hard at the ball when it came in at ground level, while also affecting spoils and smothers when the ball was otherwise in dispute. A good shift from the defender overall on a tough day for the Pios.

#40 Tara Slender

While Slender struggled at times to hold a rampant Geelong side at bay, she looked to improve in the second half with a couple of really nice overhead marks and intercepts. That is clearly a key part of her game, and is usually an eye-catching feature of her back-half partnership with Katie Douglass. Slender has plenty of time to work on her promising traits too, set for another two years in the NAB League system.

#44 Jordyn Jolliffe

The over-ager started up forward and took a nice one-on-one mark early on. Not afraid to use her body in the contest, Jolliffe tried to burst away with the ball and was even employed at times at the centre bounces. She made good on that move too with a couple of clearances.

 

Murray Bushrangers vs. Gippsland Power

By: Peter Williams

Murray:

#8 Abby Favell

A prominent midfielder on the day, the noticeable trait about Favell is her ability to somehow find space around the ground. She would often take an uncontested mark after working hard to push into open space, and then kick long inside 50. As a whole she was reliable by hand or foot and also worked hard back into defence on occasions and was able to find the ball. Overall, she was one of the more prominent players on the day and in a match without standouts, a lot of the Bushrangers shared the load and she was one of those who stood tall in the win.

#19 Millie Brown

Just did her thing around the ground and contributed through the midfield. She won a fair chunk of contested ball, and got involved early with some important touches. Brown was able to display good core strength to dispose of the ball while being tackled, and she moved well through traffic to dish off to teammates.

#10 Sophie Locke

Another Bushrangers midfielder who shared the load around, and was best on the defensive side of things, laying a number of big tackles on opponents to stop them in their tracks. Locke is strong one-on-one and gained distance going forward. Putting together a few solid performances thus far this season, and provided some strong inside ability for the Bushrangers against Gippsland.

#45 Olivia Barber

The Bushrangers’ best player on the day, Barber could have had a real day out in front of goal had she not missed a couple opportunities. But in the first half she looked the most damaging on the field, and then was rewarded for her hard work in the second half by converting a couple of goals to seal the win. Barber continually presented at the ball, and would more often than not mark the ball, or if not, bring it to ground. She showed what she was capable of with her leading and marking, and will be one to watch over the course of the next two seasons.

 

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams

Abrahams contested strongly around the ground, playing through the midfield and always providing a target for defenders to kick to. She went up for a series of marks, and while she couldn’t bring one down, was providing an aerial contest to force opponents to go with her. At ground level, she was fierce with her tackling, defensive pressure and one percenters, indirectly forcing some turnovers. Abrahams also had a desperate smothering attempt in the first term and a great smother in the second term. While statistically her numbers would not be huge, the work she did off the ball was what was impressive.

#9 Maddison Shaw

One of a number of Gippsland defenders who stood tall in defeat, constantly stemming the flow and rebounding the ball out of the back half. Shaw showed great leadership off half-back and was able to dispose of the ball by foot under pressure, getting it out of the danger zone and up to the wing. When required, Shaw pushed up the ground to add an extra number to the contest and copped a foot to the face in the third term but shook it off to continue and continued to be involved in the play.

#27 Nikia Webber

A quieter game from Webber, but she still showed patches of strong play, laying a number of tackles and pushing up the ground to bomb the ball long inside 50. She pushed up the ground to help out her teammates, and missed a shot on goal in the third term. Took a couple of strong marks around the ground as well.

 

In the other game at Healesville, Eastern Ranges won by a goal over Oakleigh and here’s how some of the notable players performed on the day:

Eastern:

#21 Olivia Meagher – 18 disposals, one mark, two tackles, two inside 50s, one rebound

#26 Tarni Brown – 21 disposals, five marks, five tackles, three inside 50s, one rebound

#39 Laura McClelland – 10 disposals, one mark, one tackle, two inside 50s, one goal

#46 Serena Gibbs – 11 disposals, four marks, 15 hitouts, three inside 50s

Oakleigh:

#1 Gemma Lagioia – 17 disposals, one mark, one tackle, four inside 50s

#2 Mimi Hill – 19 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four rebounds

#4 Emily Harley – 14 disposals, one mark, three tackles, one inside 50, one rebound, one goal

NAB League Girls weekend preview: Round 1

TWO triple headers headline the first ever round of NAB League Girls as the 12 teams begin their 2019 campaigns hoping to get their season off on the right foot.

CALDER CANNONS v. WESTERN JETS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
9:15am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

In what is predicted to be a sweltering day at RAMS Arena, the first match in the triple header is the Calder Cannons taking on the Western Jets. Both sides are bringing in some strong depth making it an interesting game to see which team can kickstart its season first. The Cannons will be without Georgia Patrikios, but have the likes of Alana Barba, Felicity Theodore and former Gippsland Power player, Makeisha Muller. Georgie Prespakis is one to watch for the future, and while older sister Madison is no longer there to lead the team, the Cannons will have Krstel Petrevski coming off half-back and is a player the Cannons are excited to develop throughout the season. For the Jets, they have a number of top prospects who are members of the AFL Women’s Academy at both the top and middle-age brackets. Isabella Grant and Cleo Saxon-Jones are strong overhead and can kick goals when forward, while Isabelle Pritchard still has two years in the system and is shaping as a highly talented key defender. Elisabeth Georgostathis is the other player who put in a consistent 2018 season, named onball like she was last year where she won the Jet’s best and fairest award.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
11:00am
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

The second game sees two country neighbours battling it out in what could be a thrilling contest. The teams have had productive pre-seasons and the Pioneers had no trouble scoring in their practice match against the Bushrangers, while the Rebels were pleased with their efforts against the Falcons. The defensive duo of Kate Douglass and Tara Slender will be one to watch and assist in restricting opposition teams from scoring, while Jordyn Jolliffe‘s return from injury – she missed all of last season’s TAC Cup Girls competition – will be welcome and she starts at full-forward. The midfield group of the Pioneers is quite strong and will have benefited from another year, with the likes of Brooke Hards – who played some roles in defence last season – Eloise Gretgrix and Jemma Finning, while Maeve Tupper was predominantly a forward pocket last season and will spend more time in the midfield. Sophie Molan and Ella Wood will lead a deep Rebels midfield in what will be the battle of the midfields within the match. Isabella Simmons developed strongly as the season went on last year, while Renee Saulitis and Isabella Robson are other middle-age talents in the team.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS


Round 1 – 02/03/2019
12:45pm
Rams Arena – Craigieburn

In the final game of Saturday’s triple header with the temperatures expected to be high 30s by the final siren, the two teams who finished second in the first two years face off from 12.45pm. The Knights head into the game as strong favourites based on the form they showed last season, and they have a number of talented players in each third of the ground. The midfield features Ellie McKenzie, Jess Fitzgerald and Britney Gutknecht, with the likes of Gabby Newton and Abigail Bennett rotating between the midfield and forward. Sarah Sansonetti and Ash Snow are a couple of defenders who impressed last season, while Alyssa Bannan developed rapidly in 2018. For the Bushrangers, Olivia Barber has been named at centre half-back and could be the one to try and quell Newton, while forwards, Sophie Locke and Kate Adams could do some damage if given time and space. Mikaela Trethowan is a 19-year-old prospect who will provide good support in the midfield, while Emily Nicholson is another player who played every game last season and will be well prepared for the first round match. The game is a huge challenge for the Bushrangers against the likely premiership favourites, but it will be a good test to see where they are at, and how the Knights have changed with players tested in other positions.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
10:30am
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

In the first game of a triple header at Frankston on Sunday, Dandenong Stingrays will be looking for their fifth straight win after finishing the season in a blaze of glory following four early season losses. Recent St Kilda recruit, Isabella Shannon has been named at centre half-forward and will be a player to watch for any Saints fans who head down to the game. While fellow Saints teammate, Molly McDonald will not be out there, Brooke Vernon, Tyanna Smith and Grace Hodder will lead the charge in the middle. Zoe Hill stands tall at centre half-back and while partner-in-crime Lucy Cripps will not be out there, Hill will aim to try and nullify one of Eastern’s talls. That could be netballer, Serena Gibbs or AFL Women’s Academy member, Laura McClelland who could rotate between midfield and forward. The forward line and particularly midfield looks solid for the Ranges, with Olivia Meagher and Tahni Brown among the middle-agers who still have a couple of seasons to develop. Both teams are likely to create a lively contest.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
12:15pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

The middle game on Sunday will see two teams that faced off in Round 1 last year do battle once again with Oakleigh Chargers facing Gippsland Power. The Chargers won easily 12 months ago and will be hoping to serve a repeat dose, while the Power feel more prepared to tackle the Chargers this time around. Middle-age captain, Mimi Hill leads a band of quick defenders who like to move the ball well, as Chloe O’Malley and Nicola Xenos showed last season. Gemma Lagioia and Emily Harley inside 50 will provide any opposition coach problems, as would Alana Porter‘s speed through the middle of the ground. The club is excited to release Amelia Peck on the competition with the 19-year-old named at centre half-back. Gippsland will miss Tyla Hanks in the middle, but have been able to supply a number of players with a season of experience and now there are top and middle-agers with a taste of the competition already. Nikia Webber and Matilda Van Berkel line up in the key forward posts, while Chandra Abrahams, Megan Fitzsimon and Grace McRae fill out the midfield. Maddi Shaw and Shanara Notman are others who could be key players in the game, providing strength and run from defence.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. GEELONG FALCONS


Round 1 – 03/03/2019
2:00pm
SkyBus Stadium – Frankston

In the final game of the round, Sandringham Dragons face Geelong Falcons on Sunday afternoon. The reigning premiers will test themselves against a danger side in the 2019 competition. Both teams are in the form of their lives having not lost a game in the past six regular season rounds – and even longer for the Falcons. The midfield battle will be one to savour with Dragons’ captain Molly Denahy Maloney, Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara tackling the likes of Falcons’ captain Lucy McEvoy, Luka Lesosky-Hay and Paige Sheppard. Both sides have a highly touted key defender in Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham) and Abbey Chapman (Geelong), have speedy wingers in Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham) and Elise Vella (Geelong) and forwards who can take big grabs, Sophia Rothfield (Sandringham) and Renee Tierney (Geelong). With both sides having a high amount of talent coming through at middle and bottom-age level, they are going to be teams to watch this season. Round 1 may well have saved the best until last, and the final game of the new NAB League Girls will likely be a match to remember.

U18 Girls season preview: Calder Cannons

NEW Calder Cannons Female Talent Manager, Russell Humphrey is buoyant about the future of the Cannons after a strong pre-season with plenty of standouts. After taking out the inaugural 2017 premiership with future AFL Women’s young guns, Chloe Molloy, Monique Conti and Sarah Dargan on the list, the Cannons had a lot of bottom-agers in 2018, winning only the two games but getting better with every match. Now with another season under their belts, the Cannons are expected to improve again and with plenty of Under 16s forcing their way into the line-up, the next few years are looking good for the Craigieburn-based side.

Humphrey said while new to the role, he was a familiar face around the club, having worked with the premiership-winning girls side in 2017, before assisting the boys last season.

“I was involved in the year before so 2017 when I coached the forward line, and then last year I was moved into a different role with the boys,” Humphrey said. “From afar obviously last season wasn’t as good as the year before. “I think we noticed and we’ve have rectified it with the shape of our bodies so you’ll notice this year hopefully. We’re a different shape; we’re a little bit taller, a little bit more athletic – the competition became like that.”

Humphrey said looking at the practice game against Western Jets, and the clash between Northern Knights and Sandringham Dragons, he felt the Cannons were in a good position.

“We had some games here on Sunday and I noticed we’re a lot closer to the other sides this year than we were last year, so we’re hoping that will help us get some results going our way. “Not that it’s a result-driven competition or things like that, but when you’re playing well that’s when you get a chance to get someone drafted. “The deeper we go in the season, if we can finish in the top four, and no doubt every other club is thinking the same thing, you give your players more of an opportunity, performing in front of recruiters and list managers and everything else that goes with it. “I think we’ll improve.”

This year, Madison Prespakis has joined Conti, Molloy and Dargan in the AFL Women’s competition and already showed why she was taken as the first Victorian metropolitan pick.

“She had a great year,” Humphrey said. “She had a good year the year before as well, we always knew she was a talent. “She’s proven that already in the three games she’s played at AFLW. “Much like Monique Conti and Chloe Molloy and even Sarah Dargan this year has really showed her improvement in the AFLW, which I find quite pleasing to see Sarah going so well. “Obviously we would have liked someone else get drafted but that didn’t happen. “Maybe this year we might get a couple, but Madi’s obviously doing the work and the reward is the way she is playing her AFLW footy at the moment which is fantastic. “Especially from our end.”

While the Cannons will be minus Prespakis in 2019, Humphrey hopes the ball magnet has left a legacy with the now top-age group. Humphrey said the Futures squad of Under 16s were already promising signs for the future.

“You hope that the older girls now being in the system for three years. They’ve gone through the system … and hopefully they can lead this next group coming though. I think every club will agree their under 16s are better than what their under 16s were two years ago and probably better than the under 16s were last year. That’s what I’ve found anyway.”

Stepping up into Prespakis’ shoes is never going to be easy, but AFL Women’s Academy member and All-Australian in her bottom-age year, Georgia Patrikios has been the clear standout over the past few years.

“I think that Georgia’s attributes and her willingness to improve over the three years shows her coachability, her understanding of what needs to be done, her skill up-skilling right across the board,” Humphrey said. “It gives her a great opportunity to be in the top five. “I think if it was an open draft she could go one or two. I’m not sure how that’s going to work next year.”

Humphrey said Patrikios has plenty of tricks that will attract AFL Women’s recruiters throughout the year.

“She does a couple of things that are little bit of a ‘wow factor’. She’ll get the ball out and not kick a high ball but kick a flat ball forward to their advantage which I think is how AFLW is going to head. They are going to look for players who can do that, similar to how the men do it. I think Georgia is on the right track for that.”

Having mixed between midfield and forward last year, Humphrey hopes to use Patrikios’ agility and pace as a run-and-carry player to create a “60-metre player”.

“I can see her playing both in the mid but on the wing as well,” Humphrey said. “I think she plays her best footy on the wing so she can use her agility to get out and her leg speed to get out. “I think that one of her major assets is her leg speed. “Being inside sometimes you don’t quite see that. “But on the outside if we can get it out to her quick enough, we know she’s going to carry it 20, we know she can kick it 40, so she becomes automatically a 60m player so if we can do that, for us that is a massive, massive bonus. “We may have missed that a little bit last year because we didn’t get it out as clean as we might have liked to, but hopefully this year we can.”

Other than Patrikios, Humphrey said the Cannons had a few other players to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Krstel Petrevski has got some good attributes,” he said. “She uses the ball well, she can get it … she needs to tidy up below her knees on ground balls, but she’s getting better at it, she just needs to keep improving. “Makeisha Muller is one we got from Gippsland last year who moved into the area. I think she’s draftable, she’s an X-factor player. “She’s worked really hard in the pre-season. “We’ve tracked her with the GPS pretty much the whole pre-season because she wanted that, she wanted to know how hard she was working.

“My smokey from our point of view is Alana Barba who can play in the middle, half-back and can go forward and probably even on the wing. “I see how hard she’s working, her kick’s not elite, but it’s better than okay. “Her leg speed and ability to get out of a pack is probably second to Patrikios at times. She seems to now understand that she’s got to run both ways … I think her playing down back has helped that too.

Felicity Theodore‘s another one who’s got good leg speed. “Her only downside may be her size, but apart from that, she’s in-and-under, she doesn’t get bumped off the ball a lot, she gets it a lot, her kicking needs a little bit more depth. “But having said that, the coaching staff have been working on that at training.”

Humphrey said the coaching staff was pleased with how the girls had prepared for the upcoming season, which begins on March 2 at RAMS Arena. The Cannons face Western Jets, a side they played on the weekend.

“The preparation so far has been pretty good,” Humphrey said. “They’ve bought in what Paul‘s (Tilley, head coach) tried to teach them and what all the coaching staff is trying to teach them, which is three quarters of the battle. “We had a practice match against Western on the weekend, I know they had a few girls out and we played everyone. “The coaching staff were happy with the way we played, so that was a bonus. “We played 18 (players) one quarter, 18 for a half and 18 for the last quarter, so it was a little bit different but we were all a bit closer to our list than what they are, I think they’re another week away and that’s okay.”

One thing to expect is plenty of Futures making their way into the Cannons squad, with Humphrey naming Tahlia Gillard – a 187cm centre half-back – and Georgie Prespakis – sister of Madison but with different attributes – among a host of Under 16s to watch this year.

“When we looked at our list this year, we looked at our under 16 girls as top-age players,” Humphrey said. “What are they going to be like in 2021? “How will they go there as top-age players rather than the now. “I know everyone says it, but you like to think of this Under 16 group we could get two or three drafted again. “Which is a possibility because it will be a bigger pool with other AFL clubs coming in other years.

“Our Under 16 group is a fairly talented group … if I was to have a guess, of the nine or 10 under 16s, eight could play Round 1. “Comfortably play Round 1. “We’re not going to go overboard in it, we’ll be smart about it. “We could quite easily have six under 16s play their first game in under 18 footy in Round 1 and be confident in them doing what they’ve shown at local level.”