Tag: laitiah huynh

Top Performers: 2021 AFLW U19s Championships – Thursday, April 15

THE AFL Women’s Under 19s Championships concluded for three sides yesterday, as Western Australia, South Australia and the Allies all completed their final matches, while Vic Metro will head to Queensland on May 29 in its final match of the carnival. We cast our eyes over the two games in challenging conditions at Trevor Barker Oval and noted down some of the top performers. The notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA vs. VIC METRO

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

By: Declan Reeve

#2 Amy Franklin

Chopped and changed from defence, to forward line, to defence, and back to forward line, Franklin didn’t let the inconsistency in position effect her game, continuing to be an imposing figure up either end, with her athleticism a big weapon. Her speed when caught behind to make up ground and spoil the mark was really impressive in the backline, this did not happen too often however as her positioning was really good, making it herd for Metro to get marks inside 50. Up forward she had a lot of attention on her, but was unmatchable, even for smaller opponents, when the ball hit the ground, outrunning anyone that challenged her, even scoring an impressive goal off the ground on the run in the final quarter.

#4 Lauren Wakfer

After an impressive performance against the Allies in the ruck, Wakfer assumed the number one ruck mantle for the clash against Metro, coming up against a much taller Tahlia Gillard, Wakfer set the tone early winning the first hitout to put the ball in front of her teammates. This continued early on in the game, with Wakfer able to get front position when initiating contact and put the ball close to her feet, where she let teammates win it and put a shepherd in to protect them. Also looked good up forward, taking some nice marks on the lead and then putting it in front of teammates to create scoring shots. 

#7 Ella Roberts

Just dominant throughout the game, playing in the forward line and spending a little bit of time in the midfield, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was one of her in every section of the ground. Her work rate up and down the ground was insane, getting herself involved in play in her defensive 50, winning the ball and sending it out long to a free teammate, without fail, to get WA moving forward, or being that link-up option herself pushing up onto the wing and connecting well with her defenders to mark high up the ground. That work rate extends to her defensive efforts inside 50, with a highlight in the first quarter being her tackling a metro o opponent, having the ball spill out to another Metro player, where she then smothered that player’s kick with a dive. After missing out on a goal against the Allies, she got herself on the scoreboard twice, being the only multiple goal kicker, with her first coming from a contested mark and about 40 meters out in the second quarter, and her second being a similar setup in the last to put WA within a goal with just 3 minutes to go. Very deservedly got the WA MVP for the championships, an accolade that she will have the opportunity to retain at the championships next year. 

#8 Ashleigh Reidy

Ferocious pressure and tackling in the forward half of the ground, where her athleticism, particularly her speed and agility, helped her close down on opponents with intensity, following up with smart ball use to teammates. 

#11 Aisha Wright

Another electric forward half player for WA, Wright has all the makings to be a special player at the next level, with her speed and agility being two exciting aspects of her game to watch. Her work rate when the ball is there to be won is immense, often seen pushing up the ground, and winning a loose ball to then deliver inside 50, putting it in front of teammates to run onto.

#18 Dana East

Moved well through traffic in the midfield, finding ways to get on to the end of the ruck taps and then deliver the ball forward with well weighted kicks, or out to runners, with her quick and clean hands in close and under pressure really impressive, especially in the dying stages of the game where it was on the line, she was also a strong tackling presence in close through the midfield, stopping a few promising Metro clearance attempts. Set herself up well on the outside of the forward 50 and took some opportune marks to send it back in quickly.

#20 Emily Bennett

Found herself lining up more in the backline than midfield and was a really strong presence for WA, with her push from the backline on loose balls being really strong, where she would win it and deliver it well to a teammate, usually on the inside. She bobbed up at vital moments, with one particular time being a chest mark on the goal line to stop a certain Metro goal.

#25 Chloe Reilly

Reilly cracked in hard all day, even though she was thrown around positionally, she was not allowing that to impact her performance across the four quarters. Won a lot of the inside ball and followed up with long kicks forward, to the advantage of her forwards or to spots that WA players were at, showing her understanding for the WA structure. 

#27 Makaela Tuhakaraina

Utilised that blistering pace in the forward half to create a lot of opportunities and exciting moments, with one of those being a goal, and WA’s first, where she ran onto a long kick over the top of a pack, turned on the jets, took a bounce and put it through. Something that was really impressive to see in her game was how good she was at holding the ball up to draw in opponents, waiting until the right time to handball off to a teammate that had less pressure because of her work drawing those opponents in.

 #28 Courtney Rowley

Genuinely feels like there is nothing she does not do well, coming head-to-head with two of the best inside ball winners in the Champs, despite being newer to the inside role Rowley did not back down, taking it right up to her opponents to win a lot of ball and then handball to more outside teammates on the run. When she got on the outside herself, her usual speed was on show, happy to take on opponents and then deliver a well weighted kick forward, or a handball to a teammate further up the ground. Worked hard defensively as well, often going into the backline and applying pressure or winning the ball and getting it out.

VIC METRO:

By: Michael Alvaro

#3 Charlotte Ryan

Stationed almost exclusively on the wing, Ryan played one of her best games to date. The Sandringham Dragons product was busy all day, particularly in the early stages where she found a heap of ball and tried to drive Metro forward. She hit a couple of targets going inside attacking 50 by foot and won key ground balls on the outer, keeping her side in the contest. Overall, a really solid display to build on.

#4 Emelia Yassir

The diminutive ball winner played a strong role in Metro’s midfield rotation and enjoyed plenty of minutes around the action. Among a familiar centre bounce combination with a couple of Calder Cannons teammates, Yassir found a good amount of ball at the coalface and used it craftily by hand. One of the more pleasing aspects of her play was her work rate and repeat tackle efforts, which helped set the tone as the classy Metro movers went to work going forward.

#5 Amanda Ling

Another of the small ball winners in Metro’s engine room, Ling’s outstanding work rate and ability to get to repeat contests came to the fore on Thursday. She even managed to get on the scoreboard with a goal in the second term, finishing nicely from about 15 metres out to thwart Western Australia’s momentum. She was one to do all the tough stuff and dig in at ground level, showing clean hands and quick reflexes to flick out handballs to her runners. Add six tackles to the mix, and it was a relatively complete game from the midfielder.

#9 Maeve Chaplin

Once again reverting back to her defensive duties, Chaplin was a cool head in the back half and showcased her best traits. She displayed great composure on the ball, a neat point of difference in the fast-paced contest, especially in tough areas to work out of. She was not afraid to baulk an opponent to find more space before delivering neat kicks, with her efficiency quite high on the day. Chaplin’s positioning was also sound, as she read the play well to intercept, and also marked an Ella Roberts snap in the goalsquare, relieving pressure on the last line.

#12 Georgie Prespakis

Unsurprisingly Metro’s leading ball winner once again, it is remarkable the consistency Prespakis has been able to produce at such a high level. As a permanent midfield figure, the pick one contender was a class above at the contest, able to dig in to win her own ball despite heavy opposition attention at ground level. With clean hands, she would extract, slide out of tackles and flick out cleanly instead of blazing away long by foot, which was a nice adjustment for some previous form. She lifted a touch in the third term to help Metro break away, but was just as important throughout the contest. A couple of goals could have been the cherry on top of her figures on the day, but Prespakis was just unable to find the big sticks with two behinds.

#13 Eliza James

A key figure in Metro’s forwardline, the usual midfielder showed nice signs of adjustment to her relatively new representative role. She used her strength in one-on-one situations to compete both aerially and at ground level, while also presenting well as a viable target. She was particularly lively to start, but could not quite convert a couple of set shots inside 50, while a snap fell short. She would have a couple more shots but failed to register major scores in the second and third terms, and began to look more lively again in the fourth. Having finished with four behinds from about a half-dozen attempts, it was a day of ‘almosts’ for James, but her work to create such opportunities was notable.

#15 Stella Reid

Having won the ball at a terrific rate all year, Reid did so again and was impactful going forward from her familiar wing position. One of the many terrific Oakleigh Chargers prospects this year, she worked up and down the ground to accumulate and get her side going on the front foot. Reid again gained good meterage with her run and finished with classy use on her favoured left side, often proving a chain in Metro’s movement down the line.

#16 Brooke Vickers

The half-back/winger better known as ‘Chook’, Vickers rotated between the two roles and contributed some handy touches throughout the day. Starting in defence, she was able to provide her usual run on the rebound got into dangerous positions up to the front half of the ground. In her rotation onto the wing, Vickers continued to build a wall behind Metro’s forward 50 and was noticeable when the ball was loose in space, where she would often be first to it to mop up cleanly.

#18 Charlie Rowbottom

Metro’s skipper led from the front with an ominous display from midfield, constantly bustling her way forward with unstoppable straight-line strength. The Oakleigh Chargers product notched four clearances and eight inside 50s, indicative of her style of play. She was able to put her side on the front foot with irresistible burst from congestion, pushing aside would-be tacklers and often disposing of the ball with opponents still hanging off her. Rowbottom’s overhead marking was also on display, impacting around the ground with a couple of trademark contested clunks.

#24 Sofia Hurley

Coming into the Under 19 lineup after a dazzling 17s display, Hurley was able to bring some of her key strengths to the fore. She rotated through a supremely talented midfield and held her own, winning the ball at a good rate and constantly using her turn of speed to break away from congestion. Her ability to work into space within a flash was handy for Metro on the attack, and she made a couple of dangerous runs towards the forward 50, but could not quite find the end product.

#27 Montana Ham

One of the prime prospects in next year’s draft crop, Ham was not afforded the midfield minutes she enjoyed last time out, but still looked lively up forward. The Western Jets standout used her strong frame to rip the ball free inside 50 and have a say both in the air and at ground level – despite only clunking one mark. She ended the day with three behinds, but handed off to Georgia Campbell for a goal assist in term three and looked hard to beat in contested situations.

#28 Georgia Campbell

Having come to prominence this year as Eastern’s primary ruck, Campbell has adjusted well to playing more permanently up forward for Vic Metro. She started inside attacking 50 and again showed her willingness to compete at ground level, before rotating into the ruck in term two. She would pop up again in the third term with a nice goal on the fly, and really rose with her aerial work in the last quarter. Her clean hands were terrific in those marking situations, complimenting her athleticism well.

ALLIES vs. SOUTH AUSTRALIA

ALLIES:

By: Declan Reeve

#4 Cynthia Hamilton

Followed up her game against WA with another superb performance in the engine room, earning herself the Allies MVP medal for the Championships. Her grunt and pure aggression at the football was vital for the Allies, winning the contested ball and bombing it long for the Allies forwards to quickly take advantage of. Her defensive work, especially tackling, was phenomenal throughout the contest, with that previously mentioned aggression and relentlessness earning her plenty of free kicks for catching opponents holding the ball, one of which getting her a goal in the first quarter.

#7 Jess Doyle

The Sydney Swans Academy captain and AFLW Academy member showed good marking prowess throughout the contest, finding a way in front of her opponent often to take it cleanly on the chest or out in front. Although Doyle did not end up getting herself on the goal scorers list for the game, she did plenty to attempt to set up her teammates, selflessly looking to involve them in the game in any way she could. When in open play with ball in hand, she oozes class, with an incredible ability to get around opponents or stand up in tackles to deliver a handball to an outside runner, when she herself gets free, her left foot will more often than not find a teammate on the lead.

#11 Perri King

Another AFLW Academy member in the Allies team for the game, King started like a bull out the gates, with tackling pressure and intensity a theme of her game from the get go, amassing a massive 15 tackles for the game. There is no questioning her defensive workrate even from the midfield. It was not just defensive pressure however, she won herself plenty of the ball, generally following up with a long kick to the Allies advantage in the tight contest.

#15 J’Noemi Anderson

Whilst not racking up a whole heap of the ball, Anderson had some really good passages of play where she influenced the contest heavily. Her marking was good when the ball was in her area, taking a particularly good grab in the 4th quarter where she pushed past an opponent to take it on her chest and have a shot at goal. It was also impressive to see her desire to spread by disposing of the ball laterally or look for inside 45 options.

#16 Ella Maurer

Had a really good showing from more midfield minutes than she had gotten against WA, positioning well around stoppages to find herself winning the ball or getting a handball receive from a teammate pretty often, where she’d run her distance without taking any major risks and deliver the ball inside 50, setting up a couple of scoring opportunities that unfortunately went unrewarded.

#20 Ella Heads

Was involved in a lot of play in the defensive half of the game, but really came up big in the final quarter when the game was on the line and SA were surging forward, able to take one particular commanding mark over an SA forward, slow down the play and then hit short option to continue chewing up the clock. Earlier in the game, her attack on the ball and ability to create contests even when outnumbered was impressive, and played a big part in the mid-game deadlock.

#25 Isadora McLeay

Playing as the Allies deepest defender, there were plenty of times where she impacted contests or the ball within the goal square that kept the Allies in front for the game, able to position well in marking contests and intercept deep inside defensive 50, then use the ball cleanly coming out so SA didn’t have repeated opportunities.

 #30 Ally Morphett

Came up against fellow AFLW academy member Zoe Prowse in the ruck and probably broke even through the course of the game, with both having little periods of dominance in the ruck, it was an exciting battle to watch unfold, with Morphett being especially good when she could initiate contact in the ruck to knock her opponent out of the contest and demand first position. There were a few times where she just ran straight through the contest to punch the ball long and then try to run onto it out of the centre, making her look very dangerous.

 SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

By: Peter Williams

#1 Laitiah Huynh

Completing an impressive championships, Huynh came off half-forward, and after a quiet first term – mainly due to the ball being locked up the other end – she hit the ground running in the second term and was one of the better players in the final three quarters. She laid a great tackle early in the second term, and then showed off her cleanliness at ground level to pick it off the deck and dance through her opponents. She took a strong mark at speed in the third term, then had a one-touch play again at ground level on the wing, easily darting onto her right side before an opponent could get a hand on her. In the end, Huynh had a match-high five inside 50s, as well as the second most tackles on the ground (eight).

#4 Madison Lane

The standout small defender on the ground, Lane overcame a one-on-one loss in a marking contest to Cynthia Hamilton – who kicked a goal – to put in a steadfast effort and mop up time and time again in the back half. Symbolic of her team, after that first quarter, she was able to compose herself and not only find the ball, but get it out of danger moving it well down the ground. She recorded a match-high eight rebound 50s, which was three more than any other player on the ground. She attacked the ball well at ground level, tracked it and kept pushing hard to drive it down the field and hold up the Allies, restricting them to just six behinds after quarter time.

#6 Gypsy Schirmer

Really prominent early and showed clean hands in wet conditions, dropping back to help the defence as well. The AFL Women’s Academy member had a better game than against Vic Country on Monday, and was just that smooth-moving option on the outside. She used short chips or quick handballs to keep it moving, and whilst at times the pressure and conditions forced her into handballing, she was able to have a fairly consistent performance throughout the match and be one of the most prominent ball-winners on the ground.

#8 Charlotte Dolan

Back into the midfield after a stint up forward in her previous games, Dolan had an impact with her fierce tackling and contested ball-winning ability. Teaming up well with Zoe Venning on the inside, Dolan was able to win a number of clearances, particularly late, which were influential in crunch moments. It was her clean pickup and quick kick in the path of Lauren Young to kick a goal for South Australia to put them within six points late in the game. She did not mind having a scrap throughout the game with a couple of opponents, and certainly played her best game of the championships back in her more familiar midfield position, cracking in hard and having a go.

#10 Zoe Prowse

Was everywhere in the first half, particularly first term as she made her mark around the ground trying to wear down opposition fellow AFL Women’s Academy member, Ally Morphett. While Morphett got up over Prowse due to the 12cm height difference at throw-ups, Prowse was clever to avoid too many one-on-ones with the stronger Morphett, and instead use her high endurance base to cover the ground and work her opponent over. The Sturt ruck got worked over by the opposition with some fierce tackles, and even dropped behind the ball later in the game, but clearly took the chocolates in the ruck battle and was one of the more prominent ball-winners on the ground as well.

#11 Zoe Venning

Conditions that suited her and her inside game, Venning played the way you would expect with her hands good in close, and plenty of contested possessions and tackles, She kept attacking the ball hard and was one of the clear four-quarter performers for South Australia, doing well on the inside and then working hard on the outside. In the fourth term, she won a 50m penalty for being slung to the ground and kicked a crucial set shot goal from the goalsquare with six minutes left to give her side a glimmer of hope late.

#15 Alana Lishmund

Played her best game of the championships after building each game, taking a strong mark at half-back and providing the run from the defensive half of the ground and along the outside. She spread across the ground and formed an option to use in transition and was able to win a number of touches through that, as well as being one of the more prominent tacklers on the ground.

#19 Alex Ballard

Played up forward this game, and had an ‘almost game’ though was still very impressive. She kicked the one goal right before the quarter time siren with a kick across her body, then had a couple of chances over the next two quarters, with a quick kick rushed, and another from a set shot that just drifted to the left. She was strong in the air and at ground level, taking some great marks and laying some fierce tackles, definitely improving on her game a few days earlier up the other end, and showing off her versatility and strength in this outing.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

The co-captain was a reliable source from half-back with her composure and strong decision making impressive. She did not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact, and she was able to settle the team down in defence, and keep the opposition from scoring, whilst providing some run in transition going forward. One of the side’s top rebounding forces on the day, and a crucial cog in the back six.

#30 Lauren Young

There comes a point where you run out of superlatives to describe a performance, and Young had done that by the third quarter, let alone almost dragging her team across the line in the final term. To finish with 37 disposals at this level is unheard of, but to do it as a 15-year-old who had to get special permission, is absolutely remarkable. Best on ground by a long way despite being on the field with so many quality players, Young took an array of strong intercept marks, was crucial in not only rebounding the ball out of the back 50, but getting it forward in transition and being a leading option. Her coverage of the ground is elite, and her hands overhead and clearance ability unbelievable. She looked like the one to stand up when required, and did so with a crunch goal in the final term with five minutes remaining, and almost took another grab with about three or four opponents spoiling her. Impressively, it was not just her offensive output that shone, but her defensive aspects as well, and it was hard to fault that kind of performance in any way, shape or form.

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 7 preview: Forced changes see teams shuffle magnets

FIVE rounds remain in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, with the sides still without the majority of the State Academy members and AFL Women’s talent given the week’s 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, and the fact that Adelaide is one win away from another elite level premiership.

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Friday, April 16 @ 6:15pm
Coopers Stadium

Norwood will of course be without its two State Academy representatives in Melbourne, with Alana Lishmund and Jade Halfpenny out of the side, along with Mattea Breed and Shai Hiscock, for another huge clash against North Adelaide. The Redlegs managed to topple the then-undefeated Roosters after a 15-game winning streak from the reigning premiers, and will be looking for much of the say once again, with another State Academy member in Jess Williams coming in, alongside ex-Rooster Gabrielle Gormlie. North Adelaide will be without Amelie Borg, Kate Case, Lauren Daniel, Jorja Eldridge and Julia Clark for State Representatives duties for South Australia, while Elaine Grigg ran out for the Medleys. The Roosters will be further understrength without Lauren Daniel (unavailable) and Cristie Castle (ankle) making it a total of seven forced changes. Coming into the side are a couple of AFL Women’s talents in Rhiannon Metcalfe and West Coast’s Katelyn Pope who returns from the elite level following the end of the Eagles’ season. Remy Grant is also set to make her debut coming from SMOSH West Lakes. Expect Norwood to be the favourites given the Roosters outs, though they still have a strong spine which includes Talia Radan, Kristi Harvey and Kelly Barltrop and cannot be underrated, though Leah Cutting and youngsters Sarah Branford and Tesharna Maher are exciting talents.

GLENELG vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Friday, April 16 @ 7:00pm
ACH Group Stadium

Central District will travel to face Glenelg in the other clash tonight, with the three forced changes due to State Academy representation in Laitiah Huynh, Lauren Breguet and Madison Lane. Into the team comes the experienced Nicole Mark, along with Ella Mickan, Aisha Thomas and Emma Keys. They will look to build on their massive win over North Adelaide prior to the weekend off, and will look to take advantage of a heavily understrength Glenelg outfit. The Bays will be missing Brooke Tonon and Tamsyn Morriss after their State Academy duties, but will also be without Piper Window, Emma Swanson, Kimberley Fry, Ellen Fauser and Molly Affolter in a raft of seven forced changes. Among those Bays named returning to the side are Anja Bancevic, Sarah Goodwin, Taylah Scapens and Sarah Wilton who have all made their way into the starting 18. The Bays will look to the consistency of Ellie Kellock, Jessica Bates and Sam Franson in order to overcome a strong Central outfit which includes a potent forward line of Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds, as well as a consistent hard midfield of Shelby Smith, Lauren Smith and Caitlen Teague, and a defence that backs itself on transition. The Bulldogs will look to rack up another win here, in what will be an important game before AFL Women’s talents start filtering back into the league.

WWT EAGLES vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 17 @ 10:00am
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval

Both Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and South Adelaide will be missing some incredible talent in Round 7, as the sides make a combined 14 changes for the must-win clash for both sides. The Eagles will look to bounce back after the loss to Norwood last week following their three-game winning streak, whilst the Panthers will eye off getting their season back on track in the second half of the 2021 competition. The Eagles will host the game, but will be without AFL Women’s listed players in Jess Sedunary and Renee Forth, whilst young guns Charlotte Dolan and Jamie Parish, and the injured Kiley Green will all be unavailable. Coming into the side are three potential Eagles debutants in Samantha Hoogeveen-Hill, Cheryllee Waters and Nikita McRostie, alongside players such as Georgia Taylor and Mikayla Cavallaro. The Panthers have an exodus out of the team due to a mixture of reasons, as Hannah Muunyard, Lisa Whiteley and Montana McKinnon are all out for Crows duties, while Gypsy Schirmer, Tahlita Buethke and Lauren Clifton miss due to the State Academy, and Jess Kirk is among more outs. The Panthers have named 11 inclusions to an extended bench, with both Renee and Soriah Moon, Amy Gore and Emily Brockhurst among those ins. They still have a strong midfield in Czenya Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and youngster Sarah Wright, but will be up against it taking on an Eagles side whose youth has stepped up this year, such as Shineah Goody and Astrid Gooley.

STURT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 17 @ 12:45pm
Unley Oval

West Adelaide have welcomed a massive inclusion for the remainder of the season in Richmond AFL Women’s player Sarah Dargan who has come straight in to make her SANFL Women’s debut. Her much needed experience – alongside some other debutants in Jess Chyer, Beth Sigley and Grace McNicol will be much welcomed by the Bloods who will be without a ton of top-end talent. AFLW-listed Ailish Considine, Madison Newman and Chelsea Biddell will miss the game, as well the State Academy members of Keeley Kustermann, Zoe Venning and Lauren Young, with Olivia Smith, Zoe Greer and Melanie Elsegood also forced changes for Round 7. For Sturt, the Double Blues they have the four straight forced chances with the quartet of State Academy members including co-captains Hannah Prenzler and Georgia Swan, as well as Alex Ballard and Zoe Prowse. Sarah Wallace will make her debut in the side, with Sarah Wallace coming straight into the forward line. She is joined by an extended bench that also includes Kiera Mueller, Aajiah Jericho and Casey Fraser, whilst the in-form midfield of Jess Good, Alisha Gepp, Jaimee Wittervan and Isobel Kuiper remains intact. They will provide stiff opposition for the Westies, who will look to the likes of Sharnie Whiting, Kasia Culhane and Louella McCarthy for experience, with Dargan having a huge role in the midfield.

Picture credit: Cory Sutton / SANFL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS: 

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

DC BEST:

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

Scott boots last three goals to steal game for Vic Country

ROUND 2 of the AFLW U19s National Championships was opened up with an exciting contest between South Australia and Victoria Country at Avalon Airport Oval in Werribee, with the midfield battle being an essential part of the eventual Country victory. Forward half efficiency initially evaded Country, never having any more goals than points, but the repeated entries became too much for SA to deal with, as bottom-aged forward Paige Scott decided to win the game off her own boot, leading to the 5.6 (36) to 3.3 (21).

The first quarter was a strong start for South Australia, with a lot of drive being produced from their engine room with Zoe Prowse and Lauren Young combining well as a ruck and rover duo to win plenty of it from stoppages, with their hard-work rewarded by teammates Lauren Breguet and Lauren Clifton with clinical finishing in front of goal. For Country, the efforts of Elizabeth Snell and Grace McRae saw them involved in plenty early on, and slowly get on top as the quarter went on, with Country getting a goal through co-captain Tara Slender, with three more shots on goal drifting just wide, seeing SA lead at quarter time 2.0 (12) to 1.3 (9).

The second quarter felt like much more of an arm wrestle, with neither team getting many deep inside 50s. Jade Halfpenny took advantage of one of the few that South Australia got, running onto a loose ball early in the quarter, fending off an opponent and then dribbling from the outside of her boot to kick SA’s solitary goal for the quarter. Keeley Kustermann started to win more of the ball in the midfield as well, linking up with the likes of Laitiah Hunyh and Brooke Tonon for some nice passages of play. Country had Nyakoat Dojiok and Jaide Anthony to thank for a sound defensive effort, both being strong aerially players and providing plenty of run going forward, with Dojiok delivering a lovely kick to Renee Tierney in the goal square to kick Country’s only goal, seeing the quarter end 3.0 (18) to 2.5 (17) SA’s way.

The third term was a bit of a breakout quarter from County, with their bottom-aged star forward Paige Scott, coming off a two goal performance against Vic Metro, kicking two solid goals, with one in particular involving her out running an opponent to belt it through. Her teammate on the wing, Aurora Smith, also had a good quarter, with her work through traffic being a highlight. South Australia saw Zoe Venning have good moments as well, competing strongly in stoppages and at ground level, but also being damaging in the air. Rotating ruck Amelie Borg was strong as a kick-behind defender, troubling Country talls. The quarter ended 4.5 (29) to 3.3 (21) with Country leading.

Early on in the fourth term, South Australian midfielder Brooke Tonon tackled Anthony on the wing with the latter unfortunately having to be stretchered from the ground and Tonon subsequently red carded from it, with Slender also sent off with a yellow card later on for a late high hit on an opponent. Despite these unfortunate incidents, the final quarter gave us a fairly exciting finish, with Scott getting herself a third early on. South Australia went on to control a lot of the play for the rest of the quarter, with the two standouts Prowse and Young continuing to do all they could to get SA across the line, and Charlotte Dolan applying elite pressure in the forward half.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 2.0 | 3.0 | 3.3 | 3.3 (21)
VIC COUNTRY 1.3 | 2.5 | 4.5 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS

South Australia: L. Breuguet, L. Clifton, J. Halfpenny.
Victoria Country:
P. Scott 3, T. Slender, R. Tierney.

ADC BEST

South Australia: Z. Prowse, L. Young, K. Kustermann, Z. Venning, L. Huynh
Victory Country:
P. Scott, A. Smith, N. Dojiok, G. McRae, E. Snell

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s Round 6

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

GLENELG vs. STURT

By: Phoebe Doyle

Glenelg:

#7 Brooke Tonon

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

#12 Tamsyn Morriss

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

Sturt:

#3 Georgia Swan

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

#19 Alex Ballard

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

#20 Hannah Prenzler

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

#30 Zoe Prowse

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

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE

By: Peter Williams

Central District:

#28 Lauren Breguet

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

#40 Madison Lane

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

#41 Laitiah Huynh

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

North Adelaide:

#33 Julia Clark

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

#38 Kate Case

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

#43 Amelie Borg

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

#47 Jorja Eldridge

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

 

WWT EAGLES vs. NORWOOD

By: Peter Williams

Eagles:

#8 Charlotte Dolan

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

#25 Jamie Parish

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

Norwood:

#15 Alana Lishmund

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

#22 Jade Halfpenny

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

 

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE

By: Michael Alvaro

West Adelaide:

#8 Keeley Kustermann

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

#9 Zoe Venning

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

#30 Lauren Young

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

South Adelaide:

#1 Tahlita Buethke

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

#5 Sarah Wright

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

#36 Gypsy Schirmer

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

#41 Lauren Clifton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: On the Ball Media via SANFL

Top Performers: AFLW U19s Championships – South Australia vs. Western Australia

WITH the top talent of South Australia and Western Australia on display at Flinders University Stadium, we cast our eye over some of the top performers on the day from both sides in the opening match of the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The notes are the opinion of the individual writer.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA:

#1 Laitiah Huynh

Played arguably the best game of her career, not only stepping up to the level, but being one of the best on ground throughout the match. Huynh was involved early and buzzing around half-forward, pushing up the ground and then dropping back, having a number of either scoring chances or creating scoring chances for her teammates. Whilst she did not managed to kick one herself, she was certainly lively, and both her attack on the footy and tackling pressure was really impressive. She showed her experience having played at the championships two years prior, by lifting and winning quite a lot of the ball and shovelling it out to teammates with clean hands, or kicking long down the line. An outstanding performance.

#4 Madison Lane

A rebounding machine in the back half, Lane played a part in bringing the ball down the field in transition and was able to exit the back 50 on a number of occasions. She was good one-on-one, but mostly it was her positioning to read the ball in flight, and she became one of a number of eye-catching defenders to save the day. It was almost an unheralded performance in a real team effort, but Lane was certainly impressive with her drive and strength to come out of defence time and time again.

#6 Gypsy Schirmer

The AFL Women’a Academy member showed a high work rate around the ground to win the ball in all thirds of the ground. She helped out defence early in the game winning a few crucial touches, and then made Western Australia pay for a turnover inside 50 in the second term. Picking the right spot 25m out from goal, Schirmer marked a quick kick from the pocket uncontested and slotted through the home team’s second. Later in the term, Schirmer produced a goal-saving run-down tackle, but unfortunately for her side, the ball was soon turned over and resulted in a goal anyway. Late in the match, Schirmer had the IQ to realise when she was going to receive contact in the back pocket after a mark and earned a 50m penalty for her troubles to chew more time off the clock.

#7 Brooke Tonon

Provided plenty of run and carry around the ground, particularly from defence. She mopped up on the last line a number of times and would thump the ball to safety, and push up to hold a high line when required. In the final term Tonon got on the front foot and was proactive with her positioning to keep pressure on the West Australian defence and get it long to the danger zone inside 50. It was her involvement midway through the term that was her best play though, mopping up again in defence at half-back, she started a play that ended in a goal to Keeley Kustermann in the play of the day.

#9 Tahlita Buethke

Provided some great run on the outside, always looking to break the lines and break down the opposition defensive structures. From early on, Buethke was willing to take risks, and whilst sometimes she would get closed down, she would always look for the chance to give-and-go and move it on quickly in transition. The South Adelaide talent just played a consistent game throughout with deft touches.

#10 Zoe Prowse

Up there with best on ground calculations alongside Laitiah Huynh, Prowse took control in the ruck and gave her midfielders first use. Her experience against quality opposition – including Montana McKinnon a week earlier – showed when she just positioned herself well and was able to negate Sarah Lakay early. Lauren Wakfer gave her some issues early, before Prowse again adapted and was the standout ruck on the ground. Needing to put in a strong performance given South Australia’s lack of ruck options, she certainly did just that and her second efforts and tackling was on display.

#11 Zoe Venning

Might not have had the space that some others that caught the eye did, but one could not underestimate the incredible role she did on the inside. Opposed to AFL Women’s Academy member Courtney Rowley for the most part, Venning cracked in and made sure the smooth mover did not have it all her own way. She would win the ball in close and shovel it out to teammates on the outside, picking the right exit to create a running chain from transition. She almost had a goal assist to her name with a clever outside-of-the-boot kick to the running Georgia Swan. At one stage Venning tried to fend off the bigger Matilda Dyke who brought her down, and then an early flying shot in the final term was intercepted, but her work throughout the game was strong.

#15 Alana Lishmund

Played a metres-gained type role with her kicking, having a number of thumping kicks from midfield and forward, and attacked the ball with gusto. She had a flying shot herself a couple of minutes into the final term, but it went out on the full, though she kept driving it inside 50. Much like Venning she was often in the thick of it, and even if she did not win it, she kept her running and work rate high throughout the match.

#19 Alex Ballard

Played the role of goalkeeper to a tee, dropping back on the last line and clunking no less than three goal-saving marks. Her positioning and footy IQ was quite impressive, and while she was one of a number of defenders to hold up the fort well, she was certainly memorable for her marks, including a couple of Ella Roberts shots, and one off Ashleigh Reidy who was so confident it was through she started celebrating. The Sturt defender was able to really stand up throughout the match and be a reliable interceptor down in the back 50.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

Captained the side and played a really consistent four-quarter game. Her third quarter was particularly memorable with a number of intercept marks and possessions, and aside from one poor kick that skewed off the side of the boot, Prenzler was able to run-and-carry and drive the ball out of defence. She was a steady head and composed throughout, often having to match up on the tricky Ella Roberts, but managed to always put the West Australian under pressure, and worked well in tandem with her fellow defenders to link up with the midfield out of the back 50.

#21 Lauren Clifton

Opened the account for South Australia in the sixth minute off a Georgia Swan pass and converted the goal on the run to get her team up and about. Whilst primarily stationed in the back half of the ground in the SANFL Women’s, Clifton showed off her versatility, and she did well to put the ball inside 50 in the third term for Sarah Branford to ry and run onto. The South Adelaide utility could have had her second goal with a snap in the goalsquare, but the handball from Laitiah Huynh was deemed a throw. Overall played her role as a forward, and sometimes the deepest forward.

#24 Keeley Kustermann

Went into the middle from the first bounce and did not look overawed in there, matching up with some tough competitors. She might not have had the space she is sometimes afforded to running off half-back, but certainly got involved throughout the contest. Kustermann had a flying shot five minutes into the second term but hit the post, then courageously put her body on the line to be crunched by a leading Ella Roberts, but force a spill at half-back. In the final term, Kustermann sealed the match getting on the end of the play of the day, marking well in front of goal and converting the set shot to give her state the breathing space it needed.

#28 Jade Halfpenny

A lively player in the front half of the ground, Halfpenny primarily played forward but did rotate into the midfield, such as after Western Australia’s first goal in the second term. The Norwood tall immediately got the clearance from the stoppage, and then really stepped up in the final few minutes, taking a strong mark, being involved in a one-two and then getting it to Laitiah Huynh in the pocket. The pair almost combined again inside 50 in the third term, but neither could cleanly get boot to ball under the pressure, though Halfpenny did have her chance with a flying shot and subsequent push earning a free kick, but her 25m set shot on a 45-degree angle went through for a behind. A really good performance across the board.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA:

#3 Matilda Dyke

An absolute rock in defence, working in tandem with Beth Schilling to intercept and drive the ball out. She went up to marking contests and provided physical pressure, or picked off intercept marks with ease. When Zoe Venning tried to fend her off, Dyke was having none of it and laid a fierce tackle to win the free kick, and the Claremont defender maintained the standard throughout the match. She intercepted a flying shot from Venning early in the fourth term, and was just getting to the right positions time and time again to impact the play.

#5 Beth Schilling

One of the top West Australians working in tandem with Dyke, Schilling showed off her athleticism in the back 50 both in the air and at ground level. Often going up against stronger key position players in the WAFLW, Schilling was often opposed to smaller, lighter opponents and she was able to capitalise with her athletic gifts. Teaming up well with Matilda Dyke in defence, Schilling provided plenty of rebound, but also defensive pressure such as her outstanding run-down tackle on Sarah Branford in the back pocket which saved a certain goal. She took another great intercept mark in the back pocket in the final term to cap off a great day at the office.

#7 Ella Roberts

The best on ground for the visitors and threatened to kick a bag all day long. Found herself under pressure every time she went near it but kept leading out and clunking grabs throughout the fourth quarter. Came off a little sore in the fourth term, but came back on and kicked the goal of the day with a terrific snap from the third row that bent around and hit a right-angle bounce in the goalsquare to put her side back within a kick. Many might have thought it to be lucky, but the Peel Thunder bottom-ager knew exactly what she was doing with the snap, having had three shots from a similar angle early in the mark, all of which were marked in the goalsquare. The dominant tall up forward, Roberts might have only finished with the one goal, but could have easily have had four if not for the steadfast South Australian defence.

#8 Ashleigh Reidy

Played forward and certainly held her own with some classy movement and attack on goal. She had a great first term getting involved early and then snapped what she through to be a miracle goal from deep in the pocket. Both the hands went up to celebrate with a teammate, but no sooner had they embraced that they realised Alex Ballard had marked on the line. Reidy had another chance in the third term with a great sidestep and kick towards goal but was again picked off on the line, this time by Jamie Parish.

#18 Dana East

Good in close, a lot of the Swan Districts work was not as visible to spectators as it can be in the WAFLW, shovelling the ball out of the congestion with clean, quick handballs. One of Western Australia’s best, East had a big third term to try and drive the ball forward, and she was often spotted running hard on a wing to receive as well. One who kept her work rate high and hands clean, East consolidated her inclusion with a really consistent performance.

#20 Emily Bennett

A real standout for Western Australia, Bennett won plenty of the ball in contested and uncontested situations, but also predominantly as an intercept player. She used her body well in marking contests, and hit the contest hard, playing a four-quarter performance. Her ability to see-ball and get-ball be it in the air or ground level was admirable, and she provided plenty of drive out of defence alongside Beth Schilling and Matilda Dyke. She sometimes pushed up to the wing to hold a high line and would apply a tackle or bump to advantage her team, and the Claremont defender certainly stood up in big moments.

#23 Tara Stribley

The smooth-moving wing was clean and quick on the outside, looking to bring the ball forward on a number of occasions, particularly through the mid-quarters of the game. She had a quick snap two minutes into the third term but missed, and then had a second chance moments later through another snap, but that was rushed over and a free kick given to Tamsyn Morriss for a push in the goalsquare anyway. The highlight of her game was her huge run down the middle in the third term, with the home fans screaming she had run too far, but she showed what she could do with her ducking and weaving. Won a free kick midway through the final term for being thrown off it, and moments later Ella Roberts kicked a remarkable goal.

#24 Jaide Britton

The Peel Thunder talent played a consistent game and led from the front as she captained her state in the match. Britton was often seen coming off half-back or along the wing and just using composure when assessing options. She received the ball off Ella Roberts in the first term and had a flying shot she thought was home, only for it to hit the post on the way through and be declared a behind. Britton just kept her work rate high from the start and was there to aid her defence when required, then work hard in transition to bring the ball forward.

#27 Makaela Tuhakaraina

Started off in a blitz, winning a lot of the ball representing her state in Australian rules football for the first time. The South Fremantle prospect had no fears stepping straight onball, and attacked the ball fiercely in there. She might not have been as prolific as some other midfielders across the game, but if judged by moments, then Tuhakaraina might have had the best of the lot. Winning it at half-back with 30 seconds left, Tuhakaraina sensed the urgency and took it upon herself to charge down the ground, weaving and sidestepping opponents to bomb the ball to half-forward. Whilst two kicks later the siren sounded and the Sandgropers could not put one through, the run had given them a chance and impressed everyone watching on.

#28 Courtney Rowley

The AFL Women’s Academy member played her role on the inside, and was clean and balanced with the ball at ground level, and able to find some space to mark on the outside, or win a free kick. She had the first clearance out to Nyra Anderson who was on the wing, and was really lively throughout the opening term. She used clean skills and good decision making throughout the match, ending up being the only Academy member out there for the visitors with Charlotte Thomas and Amy Franklin not playing. She was one of a number of consistent midfielders through the middle and showed her class on the day.

South Australia wins thriller in opening AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships match

SOUTH Australia has held off a determined Western Australia by six points in the opening game of the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships on Sunday. The two states clashed in perfect conditions at Flinders University Stadium, and given the teams boasted strong defences, it was no surprise to see the match was a low-scoring slog, but one that provided plenty of highlights. After getting out to a two-goal lead in the second term and then again midway through the last, South Australia could never quite shake the Sandgropers until the final siren, winning 3.5 (23) to 2.5 (17).

Indeed, even the final kick of the day – a quick siren-beating snap from Melisha Hardy – threatened to change the script, though it ended up falling short in her bid to level the scores on the buzzer. More than once it looked like South Australia had the game on its terms, but the West Australians refused to give in, and the defence held up against fierce pressure, with their counterparts down the other end doing the same when forwards had golden opportunities.

Lauren Clifton opened the scoring five and a half minutes into the match after a great Georgia Swan pass, with WA missing a couple of chances through Ella Roberts and Jaide Britton. Roberts would end up having plenty of chances throughout the day, with three attempted shots on target marked in the goalsquare or on the goal line.

When a coach-killing turnover from a rushed kick in the back pocket found an uncontested Gypsy Schirmer 25 metres out straight in front, the AFL Women’s Academy member made it two from two for the home club South Adelaide, and then kicked a behind on the run five minutes later for the Croweaters to be out by 11 points late in the quarter. East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly saved the day with a goal from a turnover herself, converting the set shot a few minutes out from half-time and cutting the deficit to five points at the main break.

The third term was an armwrestle with neither team able to put one through the big sticks. The home crowd was getting animated at some of the 50/50 calls going the way of the visitors, and when Laitiah Huynh‘s quick hands to Clifton in the goalsquare was deemed a throw, the grandstand was up and about at the missed opportunity. There were run-down tackles galore through the match, including a huge one from Beth Schilling on Sarah Branford, which even eclipsed Roberts’ effort in the first term on Tamsyn Morriss running into goal.

South Australia had the early momentum in the fourth term, peppering the goals with some flying shots from Alana Lishmund, Lauren Breguet, Jade Halfpenny and Huynh who all tried their luck. That was until the play of the day, from defence to attack, starting with Brooke Tonon, involving Julia Clark, Charlotte Dolan, Swan and then Keeley Kustermann on the end of the chain. The West Adelaide bottom-ager made no mistake with the set shot goal, converting the major and handing her side what looked to be a match-winning 11-point lead.

Roberts had other ideas however. A freakish snap from the pocket four minutes later – which many could not believe – bounced on a right angle and through the goals. However she had multiple shots that were identical earlier in the match, but this time the goalkeepers in Alex Ballard and Jamie Parish were not there to stop her. A Huynh behind made it six points with four minutes on the clock, and tensions both on and off the field were high.

The Peel Thunder tall in Roberts was marking everything late in the game, then even roved Zoe Prowse‘s tap and kicked towards the square to try and kick her second, but Parish was there to mop it up again. The final minute saw a clever play from Schirmer, aware her frustrated opponent was going to knock into her back late made sure it was a 50-metre penalty and chewed more time off the clock. When Prowse bombed it inside 50 up the other end with 30 seconds left, many were ready to celebrate.

This time, it was Makaela Tuhakaraina who had other ideas. Having played a solid game on debut for her state in the code, the South Fremantle elite speedster just burned through the defence, taking a couple of bounces and weaved her way to the middle, amazing even the South Australian fans. She hit up captain Britton who put the ball towards Roberts and the quick snap inside 50 – after a momentary fumble – went to Hardy who snapped a second before the siren sounded, but it went high and wide, not getting enough distance or penetration on the kick to level the scores.

Picking best players across both sides was near impossible, with Prowse being outstanding in the ruck, Huynh great up forward, particularly in the first half, and Zoe Venning and Kustermann clean around the ball. Halfpenny kept being a thorn in the opposition’s side, whilst Ballard, Hannah Prenzler and Brooke Tonon all drove the ball out of the defensive 50 time and time again.

For the losers, Roberts was hard to miss with her game-breaking ability, but her Peel Thunder teammates in Schilling, Courtney Rowley and Britton were all solid across four quarters. Matilda Dyke on the last line intercepted plenty of footy, while Tara Stribley created some run and carry on the outside, and Emily Bennett was terrific at half-back.

All in all, both sides would have plenty to take out of the game and will be well prepared to head to Queensland in a fortnight where South Australia takes on the home state and the Allies, while Western Australia faces both Vic Country and Vic Metro.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 3.5 (23)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

South Australia: L. Clifton, G. Schirmer, K. Kustermann.
Western Australia: C. Reilly, E. Roberts.

DC BEST:

South Australia: Z. Prowse, L. Huynh, Z. Venning, A. Ballard, H. Prenzler, G. Schirmer
Western Australia: E. Roberts, B. Schilling, C. Rowley, J. Britton, M. Dyke, E. Bennett

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

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

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

SA DEFENCE vs. WA ATTACK

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

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

SA ATTACK vs. WA DEFENCE

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

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

SA MIDFIELD vs. WA MIDFIELD

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

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

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

SA INTERCHANGE vs WA INTERCHANGE

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

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

OVERALL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: SANFL / Cory Sutton