Tag: lauren clifton

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Hisense Triple Treat

A TRIPLE-header at Hisense Stadium will allow South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s fans to watch three games back-to-back on Saturday in a massive day of action following a blockbuster Friday night fixture this evening. For Round 1 losers, one of South Adelaide or Norwood will at least get points on the board in season 2021, while for Round 1 winners, Glenelg and North Adelaide, something will have to give when they clash in the second game tomorrow.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Friday, March 5 @ 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

Two of the SANFL Women’s most successful teams over the first four seasons go head-to-head after losing their opening round matches in South Adelaide and Norwood. Two-time back-to-back premiers and then reigning grand finalists, South Adelaide will lock horns with Norwood who took it up to West Adelaide last week, but much like the Panthers against the Roosters, were unable to get the job done against pretty stiff opposition. Now the teams head in with a few changes to try and grab their first points of the season.

The home team will have to overcome the loss of key midfielder, Czenya Cavouras who is unavailable for the match, joining Alannah Rochow as unavailabilities, and Brooke Kleinig as omissions from the Round 1 loss. Tough midfielder/forward Madison Bennett returns to the team, with the 21-year-old bringing plenty of experience to the side, whist at the other end of the scale, Amy Gore (four games) and Tess Huxtable (debut) are both in, as Gore has been named on an extended bench, and Huxtable thrown into a forward pocket. Tamara Page and Madison Ross have also been included. For Norwood, they have brought in versatile utility Mattea Breed who was an emergency in the first game, and Lana Schwerdt, who have replaced Lindsay Bigg and Kassandra Stroh in the side.

The ruck battle between Leah Cutting and Montana McKinnon will be a fascinating one, as two strong opponents not will to take a backwards step going head-to-head. Jaslynne Smith looks the heir apparent to the missing Cavouras in midfield, with the natural ball-winner and reliable defender joining Nicole Campbell and Renee Moon onball, while Norwood have thrown a splash of youth in there for the team sheet as forward Jade Halfpenny and fellow teenager Sarah Branford make their way into the midfield alongside the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

South Adelaide had enough chances against North last week, the Panthers could not quite make them stick going inside 50, while Norwood won all the key stats, but the West Adelaide defence was incredible with holding up and driving the ball back. If the Redlegs can get the ball in the hands of runners such as Alana Lishmund or Isabel Martin going forward, the inclusion of Breed gives them another athletic target, while the Panthers have Gypsy Schirmer as the X-factor in the front half, with the top-age talent joining the likes of Lauren Clifton and Tahlita Buethke as young guns will to move the ball quickly in transition and set up scoring opportunities.

Both these sides looked pretty good last week and it looks to be an even contest, though the loss of Cavouras will hurt the Panthers. Norwood might have the upper hand if their midfield can click, but it will be whether South can make more of its chances going forward.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
Saturday, March 6 @ 10.40am
Hisense Stadium

In the first of a triple-header at Hisense Stadium, the ultra-impressive Central District go head-to-head with Sturt to open a Super Saturday of matches. The Double Blues do not mind getting their hands dirty and restricting the opposition from scoring with the defence their strongest area. It makes for a fascinating contrast with the Bulldogs running-and-gunning it to have a number of multiple goalkickers in Round 1 and build on their 2020 season where they showed signs that they were keen to take the game on. Coming off a wooden spoon last season, the Bulldogs not only look to have built on their game, but genuinely were as impressive as any other side in the opening week, and it will be interesting to see how they go second-up, while the Double Blues will make some adjustments after the loss to Glenelg.

Central District have not needed to force a change, heading into tomorrow’s clash with an extended bench. Former vice-captain and talented mover Gemma Doughty returns to the side with Amber James the other key in as the 21-year-old looks to make her mark in the side along with the other blossoming youth. Unfortunately for Sturt, Lane Trenorden is out due to a finger injury, while Nicole Baker is also out of the game, and the Double Blues have opted for an extended bench with the return of bottom-age talent Tiah Hough who is still only 16-years-old, as well as the potential debut of another 16-year-old in Georgia Hamilton. Alysha Healy also comes in to provide some experience in the front half, while over-ager Allani Dawes is the other inclusion for the visiting side.

Hough has been thrown in the deep end to join Alisha Gepp onball after the latter had a solid introduction to SANFL Women’s action with 11 touches and three clearances on debut last week. 18-year-old Gepp is the oldest of the three named onballers with top-age talent Zoe Prowse standing out in her new midfield-ruck split role and one that Central will need to watch in this game. Sturt have an abundance of youth that makes them a potential to really go far, with their opponents Central District also showing off their young talent. In the front half, the strong hands of Lauren Breguet and the perfect small forward game from Laitiah Huynh in Central’s win over Woodville-West Torrens were eye-catching, and Madison Lane has the potential to cross paths with fellow South Australian Academy member, Georgia Swan in the Bulldogs’ defence.

Central District’s hardened midfield with captain Shelby Smith leading the way, and Lauren Smith and Caitlen Teague joining her in there, will make life difficult for the younger Sturt onballers. Key forward targets in Kaitlyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds give the Bulldogs a bit of firepower in the front half along with the medium and small forwards, and perhaps the fact Rosenzweig went goalless in the opening round, and the Bulldogs still had a comfortable win, was the most pleasing considering in past years she has held up the attack. Sturt’s defence has the youth of Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard there to use their footskills to get out of trouble, as well as captain Maya Rigter‘s experience to settle the team down, meaning the Bulldogs will still need to use the ball well going forward. For Sturt, it is about getting their hands on it and keeping possession to spend more time inside 50 and create opportunities.

Central District looked so dangerous last week and the Bulldogs style could match up against a lot of teams, so Sturt’s defence will be tested again this week, though the addition of youth to the side will also make Sturt just as exciting going forward.

GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 6 @ 12.25pm
Hisense Stadium

Two Round 1 winners go head-to-head when Glenelg takes on North Adelaide in the second game of the triple-header tomorrow. The Bays made a statement in the opening round with a strong victory over Sturt, while the Roosters unfurled the flag and claimed the points over South Adelaide to remind teams that even without their AFL Women’s talent of last year, they are still a force to be reckoned with in 2021. The match will be a great test for Glenelg to see where they are at when the go up against the benchmark of the Roosters, while North Adelaide will now test themselves against a side that showed it can pile on the goals when required.

Glenelg will head in with at least a couple of chances, as Molly Affolter returns for the Bays to give them a leg-up in the ruck after the team was smashed in the area last week against Sturt. Casie Coombe and Shae Partington also return to the side as part of an extended bench. For North Adelaide, they have kept it simple with the loss of Kate Ferguson to an ankle injury, and Flagstaff Hill’s Carli Morton gets her chance to debut in Round 2.

The North lineup has very few holes in it, with Kelly Barltrop returning successfully last week and being that forward target, while captain Kristi Harvey has the potential to play at either end, named at centre half-forward but could very easily be thrown back into defence. With the experience of Talia Radan, and the ever-improving Erin Sundstrom back there, the Roosters have some great intercepting ability. Jaimi Tabb and Kate Case are among the young guns going through the team, with Case enjoying the role through the defensive half of the ground last week, and rotating with the likes of another State Academy member in Julia Clark, while at the other end, Brianna Arthur and Cristie Castle have the potential to rotate through midfield or forward.

Glenelg’s inside midfield will need to find a way to contain young gun Hannah Ewings who dominated in Round 1 against the Panthers, but also cannot allow the experienced Leah Tynan or Lauren Daniel to get off the chain either. Ellie Kellock and Sam Franson were ever-reliable, with the latter hitting the scoreboard with multiple goals to go with plenty of touches in an impressive effort. Young talents Tessa Kohn and Brooke Tonon roll through the inside and outside midfield as well as in various spots around the ground for the Bays, while not enough has been said about the debut of 15-year-old Piper Window who racked up 13 touches, two inside 50s and laid four tackles in her first SANFL Women’s match. If the Bays can use the likes of Tonon, Tamsyn Morriss and Window to work the ball forward, they will give the front six the chance to match it with the Roosters on the scoreboard.

As good as Glenelg was last week, penetrating the North Adelaide defence is like entering the final boss battle on a game. If the Bays can do that and kick a winning score, then they will be considered a genuine premiership contender, but the Roosters are the team to beat, and the reigning premiers will be favourites in this game.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, March 6 @ 2.10pm
Hisense Stadium

The final match of the triple-header features the actual home team for the triple-header in West Adelaide, looking to go 2-0 against a Woodville-West Torrens side that was soundly beaten by Central District’s run in Round 1. The Bloods on the other hand were able to take care of Norwood in a tight encounter, and with an abundance of youth, look to be one of the title contenders in season 2021.

The Eagles have lost Audrey Holt to injury for the Round 2 game, while 15-year-old Marlie Fiegert has been recalled, along with the crucial inclusion of some experience in veteran, Renee Forth. Panagiota Pipinis also comes into the Eagles side, as the team heads in with some versatile options before running out on the ground. West Adelaide has lost a crucial player in Ailish Considine, one of the two outs with Samantha Ramm. Back into the side however is key forward Chelsea Biddell who comes back from Adelaide Crows duties, joining a host of players on an extended bench such as State Academy member Tamika May, 16-year-old Charlie Scutchings, 18-year-old Niamh Davis, and potential debutant, Madelyn Zacher who arrives from Adelaide University.

Make no mistake, West Adelaide is a huge chance to win the lot this season, and being able to include Biddell at this level is a massive boost to the side that unleashed Lauren Young into the SANFL Women’s world in Round 1. The fact Young is only 15 and did what she was able to do – lead the league in disposals, marks and rebounds – shows how promising her future is, and she is a name that will be talked about in the coming years. Jovanka Zecevic will lead a midfield looking to contain the likes of Young, and with the help of Stephanie Walker and Forth who could roll through their with their experience, the visitors hope to get on top through that area. Kiana Lee was impressive as that contested marking defender, but is more than suited to playing at full-forward, which is somewhere that fellow youngster Brooklyn Kraft has been named to test herself.

Charlotte Dolan continued to improve to kick-off the season last week with some line-breaking runs to team up with Anastasia Falkenberg and Natasha Holmes who can all find the football. Similarly, Jamie Parish is capable of taking a forward one-on-one and then running off them to provide good link-up work in transition, but she will have her hands full between the twin towers in Melanie Elsegood and Biddell down there. Up the other end, Sharnie Whiting slotted in seamlessly to the defence and will be that intercept option at centre half-back, while Keeley Kustermann and Zoe Venning at opposite flanks have the potential to role through the midfield with their counter contrasting abilities of clean and composed, and hard and uncompromising giving the Westies plenty to like about their side in 2021.

West Adelaide look like one of the top teams in the competition that could build on its preliminary final exit in 2020, and therefore will be favourites to take this game out, while the Eagles will be a better side with their inclusions, but will be tested against the strength of West Adelaide, so will have a good idea of where they stand with one of the potential title contenders after the match.

Picture credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s – Round 1

SOUTH Australia has plenty of young talent that is impressing at South Australian National Football League (SANFL) level. With four games played every weekend, we will cast our eyes over how the 2021 State Academy – including initial squad members – perform each week. In some cases, such as Lauren Young this week, there might be some young guns who are below the age to be in the Under 19s Academy, but have impressed enough to feature in the article. All notes are the opinion of the author.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE

North Adelaide:

#31 Hannah Ewings

Not only the standout on the ground in North Adelaide’s victory over South Adelaide, but across the entire SANFL Women’s competition. The 16-year-old has such an outstanding balance between offence and defence that she is a readymade talent despite having two seasons remaining before being draft-eligible. Her acceleration around the stoppage to cleanly win the ball and put it forward is terrific, but she is just as touch, with some fierce tackles and contested work at ground level and in the air. Her degree of kicking between low bullets and longer kicks is another string in her bow, and she is clean at ground level which makes her so hard to stop because opponents know what she is going to do, but it is hard to legally stop her before she does it.

#33 Julia Clark

The courageous defender worked hard throughout the contest, and earned a free kick for backing into a marking contest. She matched Gypsy Schirmer in the air early in the game, and while Schirmer got her back later in the game with a fierce tackle across the line, the pair had a fascinating battle when one-on-one. She was sold into trouble a couple of times by her teammates, but played a bit of everywhere including running hard forward to have a dribble goal attempt in the third term only to just miss. She kept pushing right to the final siren.

#38 Kate Case

The outside midfielder who also could roll off half-back kept the ball moving in transition well. She was able to run down Schirmer at half-back but unfortunately fell in her back in doing so. Whilst making the odd decision making error, when she was on the move she looked dangerous and was able to read the ball well in the air such as the 10-minute mark of the third term where she intercepted back in the defensive hole and kicked well to half-back. She would continue to run hard for the full four quarters.

South:

#1 Tahlita Buethke

After a quiet first half, Buethke came alive in the second half of the Panthers’ loss, which started with a long kick from half-back to half-forward. She had a few almost-highlights with a big fly nine minutes into the third term, and had sent the ball long to the goalsquare which almost created a goal-scoring opportunity. The final quarter became highlight-reel stuff, when she picked the ball off the deck and burst away to centre half-forward, then burst from congestion to snap on goal, and moments ladder lead up and took a confident mark just inside 50. Whilst her two attempts on goal fell short or were passed, she finished with a lovely kick into Jess Kirk inside 50 in what was an eye-catching second half.

#5 Sarah Wright

The versatile talent returned for her first game since her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and had a solid return. Whilst not racking up a ton of it, she often put herself in the way and was able to lay some good tackles. She was sold into trouble once or twice by her teammates, but made the best of it where possible. Her best play came in close where she received the handball in defence and spun her opponent around and kicked effectively to half-back. She finished with a good intercept mark at half-forward to kick inside 50.

#36 Gypsy Schirmer

No surprise that the AFL Women’s Academy member was the standout Panther in terms of her ball-winning and football smarts. After starting off a forward flank, Schirmer moved into the midfield – specifically the wing at times – where she was able to dictate the flow of transition from defence to offence. Her footy IQ is high that she can read the ball from the taps and get into the right positions, or use her speed to worry opponents. Schirmer copped a number of big knocks in the match, but kept getting up and had a number of moments that were memorable. She provided a couple of scoring shots, including a perfect handball under pressure inside 50 that resulted in a goal in the second term, and then nailed a pass late in the game inside 50. She won her fair share of one-on-ones and once the ball hits the ground is as hard to stop as anyone given her acceleration.

#41 Lauren Clifton

Clifton was reliable in defence and composed as a whole, with the only moment she would like to have back coming in the third term where she marked at half-back with two minutes on the clock, and played on only to be run down with an opponent on her. The ball turned over and went through for a Roosters goal, which was unlucky for Clifton who had been mopping up a lot of loose balls in the back 50. Otherwise she was not deterred from moving the ball quickly and she did just that in the third term, winning a free kick for in the back midway through the third term, and then hit her targets in the final term when North was attacking.

 

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE

Norwood:

#15 Alana Lishmund

While not picking up big numbers of disposals, Lishmund was playing an outside role and then going in to create some class at the stoppages. She showed great hands and vision at half-forward to pass it off to a teammate streaming inside 50 midway through the first term. Lishmund’s sticky hands were on show in the third term where she took a strong mark on the second juggle and moved it to the danger sport quickly. A great tackle in the final term forced an opponent to mis-kick and turn the ball back over for her side.

#22 Jade Halfpenny

The marking forward did not need long to have an impact despite West Adelaide being on top across the game, taking a great one-on-one mark midway through the opening term. She protected the ball drop and clutched it to her chest, then moved it on to kick to a one-on-one in the goalsquare. Halfpenny showed clean hands at ground level and was able to punch a low kick into the forward 50, then in the third term showed her athleticism with a spin one way and then the other to five it off to a teammate cleanly. She worked hard later in the quarter to get to the right spot, win the ball but unfortunately scrubbed the kick, though she backed up in the last quarter by helping out in defence and moving the ball quickly in a more direct fashion.

#30 Sarah Branford

In terms of touches, Branford had a quiet game. This did not mean she was not involved though, seemingly around the contests a fair bit and applying good pressure and using her body right. It was just a couple of times she might have overrun the ball or could not cleanly grab it, but once she had the footy, she was able to do something with it. Late in the final quarter, Branford picked it up in the middle, spun and kicked inside 50, hitting a target perfectly.

West Adelaide:

#8 Keeley Kustermann

Like a number of players in the game, had her moments without being at her absolute damaging best. Her kicking is still a treat to watch and when she gets going she is so balanced with her disposal and cleanliness at ground level. She laid a great run-down tackle in the opening term, and continued to go hard at the contest throughout the match. She might have uncharacteristically rushed the odd kick here or there, but the moments that stuck with spectators would be her dance moves late in the third term, getting around opponents to kick clear to Lauren Young, and then hit up her younger teammate with a perfect delivery going inside 50.

#9 Zoe Venning

Had a huge first term where she was involved everywhere, winning the ball in close at the stoppage and her kick inside 50 led to the first goal six minutes into the contest. She was the recipient of a free kick for being held, and kept presenting as an option around the ground. She hit up Young inside 50 on the lead and was being a driving force to get her team going in the first half. Venning had a shot on goal midway through the third term but unfortunately for her the ball bounced the opposite way. She was quieter in the second half, but still showed great courage by standing under a high ball early in the half, and then taking the contact and creating a contest at ground level. Overall was a strong performer early.

#30 Lauren Young

The standout player across the SANFL Women’s in Round 1, it is hard to believe that Young was on debut. Rotating between midfield and defence, she was everywhere to the point of where it almost looked like West Adelaide had invented cloning. She was involved at stoppages, then if the ball turned over and there was a kick in defensive 50, somehow she was back in the hole to mop up. Rebounding time and time again, there was not much you could fault in her game, which happens when you top the league in disposals, marks and rebounds on debut. The only couple of moments where she was beaten was getting caught under the ball in a marking contest early in the second term and getting pinged for trying to dance around one too many opponents close to goal, but otherwise it was an ultra-impressive effort. Her work rate and footy smarts are through the roof, and she can read the ball in flight and take some strong grabs. Managing to win touches in all thirds of the ground, it is hard to believe she still has three seasons at SANFL Women’s level left before being able to step up to the elite level.

 

STURT vs. GLENELG

Sturt:

#3 Georgia Swan

The forward had a quieter day as did most Sturt forwards, but she got involved when the ball came into her vicinity. She held her ground late in the second term in a marking contest with Tamsyn Morriss and won a free kick for front on contact. She took a set shot from just inside 50 which was on target, but it fell short though the Double Blues goaled anyway. The third quarter was her best term, picking up the majority of her touches, and kicking a great goal off the ground doubling back to goal, which came five minutes after she missed on doing the same thing. She gets to the right places, but the game was difficult for the Double Blues’ forwards.

#19 Alex Ballard

Standing off the back of the stoppages, Ballard would mop up the ball a few times and kick it clear up forward. She did not have her usual time and space she has when kicking out of defence, but she still took a strong intercept mark six minutes into the third term and deliver into Swan.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

Had a great first term where she was racking up the ball and getting involved everywhere. She would run past teammates and look to drive the ball up the ground, with her composure and ability to hit targets by hand or foot the strength in her game. In the last minute of the first quarter she had a fantastic run through the middle and kicked to a leading teammate inside 50. Laying a great tackle to lock up the ball in the second term, Prenzler was a little quieter later in the game, but was ever-present around the stoppages and still providing rebound and an option out of defence.

#30 Zoe Prowse

Starting in her new role as a midfielder then going back into the ruck in intervals, Prowse ended up having the best of both worlds. The AFL Women’s Academy member has the athleticism to impact in the ruck, but also outbody opponents at ground level, and her ferocity at the ball carrier and second efforts are a highlight of her game. She took a strong contested mark over the back late in the opening term, and continued to hit the aerial contests hard throughout the match. She would occasionally be pinged for holding the ball, but her clean taps and tackling was fantastic for a player of her size and shows just how versatile she could be.

Glenelg:

#7 Brooke Tonon

Providing run in the back half going forward, Tonon is aggressive with her disposal and tries to break the lines with her run. She won a number of free kicks – including a couple thanks to the last touch rule in the second term – and was able to hit targets on that 45-angle which was fantastic. Her disposal was clean and picked up a goal assist three minutes into the final term after receiving the handball and kicking long to a teammate in the danger zone. She did have a bit of a scrubber kick out of defence a few minutes later, but it worked out to a teammate and then side-stepped an opponent to kick forward midway through the final term.

#12 Tamsyn Morriss

Had a strong first half where she competed strongly one-on-one and was able to nullify a number of contests on the wing. If she did lose a marking contest – such as 14 minutes into the second term, Morriss dug deep with a second effort to win it back. She laid a number of fierce tackles or defensive acts throughout the match, and her body positioning, as well as her impact by foot are among the highlights of her game.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WWT EAGLES

Central:

#28 Lauren Breguet

Looked set for a massive day out after an eye-catching first term that saw her lead out and mark with confidence in the opening minutes and provide a goal assist for a teammate. Not long after, she was getting on the end of one after running hard deep inside 50, sidestepping an opponent and slotting it on the move with a celebration to match the effort. Another strong mark a couple of moments later looked ultra-impressive, though she went a bit too much on this occasion, was almost caught by her opponent when Breguet attempted to side-step, and had to give it off quickly. A defensive effort to lock the ball inside 50 later in the term showed her intensity as well. A second goal assist to a teammate with a lightning handball whilst under pressure less than five minutes into the term was another highlight-reel moment, and while her third quarter was quiet, her fourth term stepped up again with a couple of big marks on the lead and then was moved into the centre where she won the ball and handball quickly to a teammate.

#40 Madison Lane

Playing in defence, Lane did not have a great deal to do in fairness, but she had a mix of memorable moments, and one forgettable one. The only real blip on her performance was getting too close to the person on the mark in the back pocket and kicking off the side of the boot and out on the full. Other than that, her cleanliness at ground level and defensive intent – though giving away a free early – was great. She intercepted a ball on the win in the third term, spun around, was slung and won a free kick, which came after she ran down an opponent on the wing, forced a turnover and kept running as an option.

#41 Laitiah Huynh

Having seen her last season show some promising signs, this game felt like a special performance that was a huge sign of things to come from the tenacious speedster. Her defensive pressure was terrific, and whilst she has always had the break-neck speeds that catch the eye, Huynh matched it with getting to the right positions and remaining involved even when the game was not necessarily going her way. From the get-go she was active, and had her usual high-level tackling pressure on-point. She got into the right position at a forward stoppage for a teammate to tap to her unimpeded, and she was pushed in the back, then nailed the subsequent set shot from 30m out. Her second goal came following hard running forward and snap a goal with nine minutes down in the second quarter as a perfect crumbers’ goal. Expecting her to fade out in the second half as can be the case with smaller forwards, it was fantastic to see Huynh still remain busy and apply plenty of further defensive pressure and still win her fair share of the ball to round out the game.

Eagles:

#8 Charlotte Dolan

Into her second season at the level now, it is clear Dolan is starting to piece more and more together with extra experience. She is starting to really win more of the football in damaging areas and using her run-and-carry to advantage. As a premier athlete, she has the combination of speed and endurance which helps her burn off opponents, as well as a knack for applying great defensive pressure. While her kicking at times still needs some work, her courage and aptitude to the contest could not be questioned. Dolan just found space and made her own room at times, clean off the deck and taking off before an opponent could get to her. Even if she was caught, such as early in the second term, she found a way to get her hands free and dispose of it. A highlight was in the final term when she fended off a couple of opponents and kicked forward to hit a target.

#25 Jamie Parish

Using her bigger body to advantage, Parish built into the game after being quiet in the first term. She applied plenty of pressure to the opposition in the defensive half, and made sure she put body-on-body contact in marking contests. Parish is quick to dispose of the ball when she does win it, and is able to get into intercept marking positions. Predominantly winning it in the bak 50 or along half-back, Parish is another player who takes the game on and is willing to back herself.

#33 Brooklyn Kraft

Playing for her new team, Kraft was getting used to the new structures that come with a new midfield, but gained valuable minutes in the ruck role rather than being a more permanent forward. She was quick with her hands and able to dish off to teammates who could run the ball, and while she could still build on areas such as her contested marking, Kraft held her own at different points around the ground with her stoppage craft.

 

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Grand Final rematch opens season

AFTER a shorter-than-usual wait for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition to restart due to the delayed 2020 season, the eight sides are ready to go in 2021 starting tonight.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

What better way is there to open a new SANFL Women’s season than with a grand final rematch? The opening game of the double-header at Coopers Stadium sees North Adelaide take on South Adelaide in a massive clash. The Roosters will be able to unfurl the flag against the Panthers, which should give both teams plenty of motivation. It is worth noting that they will be without a number of AFL Women’s talents which means others will have the chance to step up in their place.

Full-forward Kelly Barltrop will be hungry for success after being unlucky to miss out on last year’s flag, while Kristi Harvey has been named at centre half-forward. With league best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard and leading goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland both playing for the Crows in the AFL Women’s the Roosters will need to look for others to play a role. Jaimi Tabb has crossed from the Eagles to Roosters, while Glenelg ruck revelation Soriah Moon will now pull on the Panthers’ jumper. Providing a formidable tag-team with Montana McKinnon, South should get first hands to it, and with a midfield containing the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell, they will be hard to beat.

Gypsy Schirmer is the young gun to watch from the Panthers with the half-forward an excitement machine, whilst the same can be said for reigning Rising Star Hannah Ewings who will have added responsibility this season. Throw in Leah Tynan and Lauren Daniel through the onball, and the likes of Cristie Castle and Brianna Arthur able to rotate between midfield and forward, and the Roosters have plenty of options. It will be great to see full-back Sarah Wright return for the Panthers, with both her and Lauren Clifton providing some great stability in the defence.

This match is hard to predict, with either team capable of getting up, and both have a great history of just getting the job done. Just for the home fans the edge might go to North, but there is something about the South lineup that looks ready to strike.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 8.15pm
Coopers Stadium

The second match of the double-header is predicted to be just as good, with reigning preliminary finalists West Adelaide locking horns with the side they dispelled in the elimination final, Norwood. West Adelaide have a huge opportunity to make the next step up, with such a large contingent of state league players remaining at the club, and then bringing in some serious talent such as key defender Sharnie Whiting from Carlton.

The youth of West Adelaide cannot be stated enough, with Zoe Venning a standout in terms of this year, and then over the next two years, the Bloods have Keeley Kustermann and then Lauren Young respectively who both loom as great talents. Venning will start off half-forward and look to push into the midfield, while Kustermann will form a new partnership with South Adelaide’s Natalie Gibbs off half-back with Madison Newman likely to have Crows AFL Women’s duties this season. The 15-year-old Young has been thrown into the deep end to start in the midfield, potentially on the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

Norwood have an array of young talent themselves, with Alana Lishmund named on a wing, and Jade Halfpenny surprisingly named in defence after making her name as a leading forward predominantly last season. Tesharna Maher is a new name in the Norwood line-up, having crossed from Eagles over the break. Melanie Elsegood is a player to stop for West, with the Norwood defence looking strong, as Isabel Martin has been named back there, while the likes of Jess Macolino will come off the bench to have an impact.

West Adelaide could well be the team to beat this season, and therefore should be favourites in this game, but Norwood has some exciting young talents as well to watch out for, in what should be an entertaining game.

STURT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 27 @ 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Fast forward to Saturday and two sides looking to make a strong start to the season after missing finals do battle in Sturt and Glenelg. The Double Blues were actually strong defensively last season, but they just struggled to score at times, whilst the Bays were ultra-impressive in some games, and then just not themselves in others, so will be eyeing off some consistency in 2021. It will be a big game for Caitlyn Swanson who has cross from the Double Blues to the Bays this season and will come off the bench in Round 1.

Glenelg has some some developing talents to watch out for, with top-ager Brooke Tonon alongside over-ager Madisyn Freeman at half-forward. They will be looking to create some run and carry going inside 50, with the likes of Tamsyn Morriss and Sam Franson transitioning from the wings. Looking strong as outside movers, Tessa Kohn has been slotted in at half-back after being predominantly an inside midfielder last season, while Lucy Armitage will never take a backwards step and is also in defence. Without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones the Bays will need other midfielders to step up, but they have the depth there.

The Double Blues have some of the best young talent running around, and the depth through the key position options is showing, with Zoe Prowse now running around as a midfielder instead of ruck. The 180cm talent has the athleticism to beat much smaller opponents, and she will provide a point of difference at ground level. Alex Ballard looks set for a move into the midfield, while other over-agers such as Hannah Prenzler (half-back) and Isobel Kuiper (half-forward) will be better for another season. Add in top-ager Georgia Swan at centre half-forward, and the inclusion of Eagles’ Chloe Forby, and the Double Blues are starting to build some firepower.

It will be another tough match to pick, and without Georgia Bevan – having been picked up late to Gold Coast Suns – more will fall to the likes of Maya Rigter for Sturt, but they have the young talent to get it done. One cannot discount Glenelg though, as they have some great outside movers.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

The final match of the round takes place with Central District hosting Woodville-West Torrens in a battle of the league’s two newest clubs. Though now into their third seasons, both the Bulldogs and Eagles are becoming well established, and if 2020 is anything to go off, they should be more competitive again. Without a heap of AFL Women’s talent last season, both these sides are well adapted to being without that top level experience, which puts them in good stead to have plenty of developing young guns coming through the programs.

The Bulldogs were one of the more exciting teams in 2020 even if their results may not have shown it. They were willing to run the ball forward, and with the need for speed, were taking it up to sides. Latiah Huynh is a perfect example of the way the Dogs play – with speed and tenacity, as well as confidence – and teaming up with fellow youngster Lauren Breguet in the forward half, Central District will look to share the load outside of notable goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig. Eagles’ key position utility Kiana Lee has been named at full-back with Anastasia Falkenberg another reliable talent in defence, as is Jamie Parish.

The midfield battle will be just as intriguing with new captain and reigning best and fairest winner Shelby Smith leading the Bulldogs onball, and the likes of Caitlen Teague and Lauren Smith in there. A couple of experienced recruits in Paige Allan and Nicole Mark among those inclusions into the Bulldogs’ line-up, while Madison Lane is a top-age talent with reliable foot skills from defence, while Demi Sonneman is always one to watch coming out of the back 50. A big inclusion for the Eagles is former South Adelaide raw ruck/forward prospect Brooklyn Kraft who will make her debut amongst a host of new faces coming out of the local leagues, while Kiley Green has made the move from the ACT and been named at centre-half back. Charlotte Dolan and Jovanka Zecevic are others to keep an eye on in the match for the Eagles.

Central District has beefed up its side in 2021, with more experience to settle the youth down and the Dogs could start favourite in this one, though the Eagles are always tough to score against.

Picture credit: SANFL

South Adelaide looks to the future in 2021

SOUTH Adelaide have been the most successful team in the short history of the SANFL Women’s League. After winning the 2018 and 2019 premierships, they made the grand final again in 2020, but fell just short against North Adelaide.

Due to the departures of multiple star players and premiership coach Rick Watts, it will be much tougher for the Panthers to return to the big stage in 2021. However, rather than dwelling on their losses, South Adelaide executives have turned their attention towards the future of the club. This process started in the offseason by hiring new Senior Women’s Coach Andrew Brockhurst.

A former 131-game player for South Adelaide’s SANFL side and 38-game player for Fitzroy, Brockhurst said that although he has a reasonably limited coaching background at senior level, he has been involved with multiple women’s amateur sides in recent seasons.

“I’ve spent the last few years involved in the women’s program,” he said. “I spent a year out at Christies Beach coaching with their senior group, then coached Flagstaff Hill senior women last year in the Southern Football League. Then the role at South Adelaide popped up, which was unexpected, and I felt confident enough to apply.”

Despite some early interruptions due to South Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions (brought on by the Parafield cluster), Brockhurst is pleased with how his first preseason at the helm has gone.

“Preseason has been good, a little bit fragmented like most people’s preseasons, but since the beginning of December our season’s been right on track,” he said. “We usually run a really important six-week program prior to our actual preseason starting [that] helps girls with the mechanics of kicking the football. We lost most of that, so we had to adapt our program into our preseason and the girls actually ended up training an extra night all the way through until the end of January to make sure we fit all that in.”

In addition to the skills initiative, Brockhurst has prioritised improving his side’s speed of ball movement and adjusting his recruits to the frenetic pace of SANFLW football.

“We have a number of new girls in our squad this year, so getting them used to the pace of the game and ensuring that we’re trying to move the ball as quickly as we can have been major focuses for us,” he said. “We’re pretty controlled coming out of our backline generally, so we’re worried that the speed coming out of there is letting us down a bit. We’re just trying to speed that pace up and move the ball quicker into our forward line. We back our forwards being quite strong one-on-one, so the quicker we can get it there the better.”

The Panthers lost Teah Charlton, Indy Tahau and Tahlia Meyer to AFLW clubs over the offseason. Brockhurst knows these players are incredibly talented and will be difficult to replace.

“[Those three] are hard to replace overnight, that takes time,” Brockhurst said. “We certainly have some young girls coming along that will be stars within their own right, but that will take a little bit of time for some of those to settle in.”

Brockhurst was optimistic about his new recruits, especially those coming from other SANFLW clubs.

“We have some good ins to our squad; Soriah Moon coming from Glenelg will fit nicely into our program, and Alannah Rochow from Norwood will also play a major part for us this season,” he said.

Brockhurst also said that his younger players have impressed him over the summer.

Gypsy Schirmer has been a standout throughout preseason for us,” he said. “Lauren Clifton is moving really well and Sarah Wright, who’s coming back from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) last year, is back into it full swing. We’re looking forward to Sarah finding her way again early on in the season and having another good year for us.”

While regular improvement is the Panthers’ number one focus, Brockhurst said he would not put a ceiling on what his side can achieve this season.

“We will continue to focus mainly on the development of our players,” he said. “Our other aim every single week, as it would be for the every other club, is to win every game that we play in. As for where that ends at the end of season, we will see what happens. But we will be giving 110 per cent to try and compete and be successful in every game we play.”

South Adelaide’s season gets underway on Friday night when they take on the Roosters in a highly-anticipated grand final rematch at Coopers Stadium.

Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography

For more SANFL Women’s news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

SANFLW Academy Ones to Watch: South Adelaide and Sturt

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

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

Tahlita Buethke
Midfielder | Over-ager

Of the over-agers still in the Academy, Buethke could be one of the biggest movers in terms of her progression in 2021. She has a lot of potential, and felt at home for the Panthers, with her speed and marking among her strengths. She hopes to play on a wing where she can use her strengths to advantage and take the game on.

Lauren Clifton
Forward | Top-ager

As a bottom-ager, Clifton showed her potential to compete against older opponents last season, stepping up to be named in the All-Stars match where she slotted a goal up forward. A player with plenty of potential and a high work rate, Clifton can use the ball well and run hard to get to the right positions.

Gypsy Schirmer
Forward/Midfielder | Top-ager

The most exciting player to keep an eye on from a top-age perspective, Schirmer went from strength to strength last year and was deservedly added to the AFL Women’s National Academy. She has plenty of upside and her nous around goals is terrific. She can push up and play on a wing, with her overhead marking and impact among her best traits. We spoke with her at the preseason testing.

Sarah Wright
Defender | Over-ager

Unfortunately Wright suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in her top-age year, so will return to try and impact in 2021. Now as an over-ager, Wright is one who is a strong defender and will be keen to have better luck to add extra depth to a strong back six at the Panthers.

STURT:

Alex Ballard
Utility | Over-ager

With a knack to play anywhere on the field, it was Ballard’s performance in the All-Stars game last year that reminded spectators what she is capable of. She plays as a loose intercepting defender with a penetrating kick and an ability to move the ball quickly, which helps transition the ball from one end to the other. Looking to improve her fitness this year, Ballard is one that is more than capable at League level and remains a talent to keep an eye on in 2021.

Hannah Prenzler
Defender | Over-ager

The reliable defender is a natural leader, and possesses a pinpoint kick. Having spent some time at half-forward, the teenager is most suited to half-back where she is able to read the ball in flight, intercept and then drive the ball forward making the right decisions. As someone who has proven to be incredibly coachable over the years, Prenzler is looking to iron out improvements and build on her game.

Zoe Prowse
Ruck/Midfielder | Top-ager

The highly-touted top-ager who is in her second year in the AFL Women’s National Academy is set for a new role in 2021. Speaking to Draft Central at the preseason testing event, Prowse said she would roll through the midfield rather than be the number one ruck, and show off her versatility and athleticism for a taller player. Able to play just about anywhere, Prowse is the top South Australian prospect in 2021.

Georgia Swan
Forward | Top-ager

A talented forward who has shown some real promising signs over the past couple of years, Swan is a crafty forward who adds a different dimension to the Double Blues’ front half. She is strong overhead and knows where the goals are, but often roams up the ground to win the ball and doubles back to aide teammates. One to watch as an improver this year.

Picture credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

NOW the curtain has closed on the 2020 AFL Women’s off-season period, we turn our attention to the next group of budding stars across the country who will be vying for a spot on an AFL Women’s list. We have named 25 players who have already shown some great signs in their bottom and middle-age seasons, as well as a number of others to watch out for in 2021.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A name that has been circulating for a number of years now, it is hard to believe the all-round talent was robbed of what she could potentially do in her middle-age year. She looked more than comfortable at the level in her bottom-age year as a 16-year-old and caught plenty of attention with a seven-goal haul against Greater Western Victoria Rebels. Taller than her sister – AFL Women’s league best and fairest winner Madison – Prespakis is hard at it, has great athleticism and is ridiculously strong one-on-one. A highlight-reel package nearly any time she steps out on the field, Prespakis is a future star and could play just about anywhere, but expect her to play inside midfield and rest forward.

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

The sister of recently drafted Gold Coast Suns’ talent Maddison, Levi is 11cm shorter and plays onball rather than forward. Her athletic traits are similar to that of Georgia Patrikios in the way that she can seamlessly get herself out of trouble by wrong-footing and side-stepping opponents with ease. Not only is she able to beat them in congestion, she can run and take the game on down a wing, and then when the opponent wins it, she is the first to lay a strong tackle. Similar to Prespakis, Levi has so many weapons and is as effective defensively as she is offensively, and is the standout Queensland prospect for next year and in the clear top few talents running around.

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

A player who has been building very nicely over in Western Australia over the past two seasons and then was the most impressive of the middle-agers in the WAFL All-Stars game. A really smooth mover, Rowley often plays off a wing and knows how to distribute the ball so well, winning Peel Thunder’s League best and fairest last year as a 16-year-old competing against senior opponents including AFL Women’s talents. Whilst she had more support in 2020 as the Thunder rose from wooden spooners to premiers in a remarkable turnaround, it is hard not to admire what the talented midfielder could be in her top-age season next year.

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

The standout ruck prospect in next year’s draft, Adelaide will have another promising talent on their radar in Prowse. Winning Sturt’s best and fairest award this year, Prowse was just about the best in nearly every game she played for the Double Blues, particularly in the second half of the season. Despite standing at just under 180cm, Prowse has ridiculous athleticism with a high vertical leap and is almost like a fourth midfielder. She can get down and apply second and third efforts to ground level players, and is one who could also play forward if required. With great ruck nous, she can outwork her opponents around the ground, and it was easy to see why she was the sole South Australian AFL Women’s Academy member in her middle-age year.

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

An absolute star in the making. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Rowbottom just knows how to set scoring opportunities up in transition. The sister of Sydney’s James, Rowbottom has similar ball-winning abilities and defensive attributes, but has a lot to offer offensively as well. She showed in the Chargers’ win over Tasmania that she is not only able to hit the scoreboard herself – kicking two goals – but set up a number of chances for her teammates. One that will really surprise in 2021 as a leader for the Chargers.

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

With quite a few tall defenders in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Slender would be putting her hand up as potentially the pick of the bunch. Her intercepting capability and reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and while she did miss her middle-age year, Slender is one who could catch the attention pretty quickly. Having played alongside some Vic Country representatives in the past – and playing at Under 16s level for her state – Slender is good in one-on-ones and looms as a key lynchpin for the Pioneers. It would also not be too surprising to see her take a similar transition to Isabelle Pritchard and move into the midfield given she has the traits to slot right in there.

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

Class personified. Appleby has managed to catch the eye on more than a few occasions over the past few seasons despite playing in such a stacked team at the Northern Knights. She often played off a wing or provided run on the outside like during the 2019 NAB League Finals Series. Appleby is now the top prospect at the Knights for the upcoming season as a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and as a damaging ball user, Appleby is one that teammates want to get the ball in the hands of in order to create scoring opportunities up the field.

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

A dangerous forward half player with clean skills and a nous for goals, Thomas is the other AFL Women’s Academy member from Western Australia in her middle-age year along with Rowley and has a big future. Playing in an experienced team like Subiaco, Thomas was able to still stand out, regularly hitting the scoreboard. Standing at 175cm, Thomas has good size and good hands and having made her League debut in 2020, big things are predicted for 2021 with a lot of AFL Women’s talent, and more experienced heads around her.

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A player who is not afraid to take the game on and really take it to the opposition is GWV Rebels’ Dojiok who has been developing year-on-year over the last few years. Playing as a 15-year-old a few years back, Dojiok is one who when she gets going is hard to contain, and she has that rich blend of power and speed. She is utilised best as that outside runner, playing off half-back or along a wing, but is eye-catching in the way she plays and the way she can bring teammates into the game. Entering her top-age year, expect her to see even more midfield time as she has some seriously great traits.

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A player who might be flying under the radar that has some casual NAB League Girls watchers reaching for the team lists next year is Dowling. An incredible talent who showed progression in her two games this year, she has only managed to fly under the radar due to the enormous amount of talent coming out of the Falcons’ football factory. She played in defence as a bottom-ager then got time more up the field last year, and expect her to play through the midfield in 2021. She can play anywhere, at that hybrid 171cm-plus size and can be too athletic for talls and too strong for smalls, Dowling is one who should not be forgotten when talking about Vic Country prospects.

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

The standout NSW/ACT prospect for 2021, Morphett is the sole AFL Women’s Academy member from her state. The developing 189cm-plus ruck is one who improved from her bottom-age season and it would have been fantastic to see her going up against the Melbourne-drafted Maggie Caris if their teams had met in the NAB League Girls before the season ended. She is commanding overhead and able to drift forward if required, Morphett is one of the few NAB League Girls prospects to play this year. Representing Belconnen Magpies in the AFL Canberra League, Morphett finished second in the league best and fairest, and then won best on ground in the Magpies’ premiership win. Not bad for a 17-year-old and she is one anticipated to take a huge step in 2021.

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Stood tall at senior level in the QAFL Women’s competition for the Roos and is one of a remarkable three players in the AFL Women’s Academy from the side. Harmer showed in the Queensland All-Stars game that she looms as a strong prospect in 2021 with her overhead marking, read of the play and powerful kicking standing out in a tight game. A member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, Harmer is 170cm and could play at half-back as that intercepting rebounder, or through the middle, seemingly able to break down opposition defences on transition by getting in the way and then pumping it long.

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

If we are talking upside, then Franklin, not too dissimilar to her West Australian namesake, has plenty of that for the future. A tall marking forward, Franklin has speed that makes smaller opponents envious, and standing at 180cm, she is big enough to outmark most opponents. Still quite raw and lightly built compared to more experienced WAFL Women’s defenders she came across, Franklin is one that once the ball gets goalside, you can almost put the glasses down. Terrific athleticism and one who is threatening to be an even bigger threat in 2021, she is yet another exciting tall forward to come out of Western Australia.

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

If you are talking upside and potential in next year’s AFL Women’s Draft crop then take 186cm Gillard as an example. Only turning 17 in December this year, the key position utility can play in all three lines, starting off as a key defender, spending time up forward and has the size if required to play ruck. For a player of her size, Gillard is so good at ground level and able to create something out of nothing. While she is still a raw and developing talent, she is another from the Cannons’ program who has already had plenty of NAB League Girls experience that will only make her better.

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A second GWV Rebels player making the list, Friend did not get many chances this season to show what she is capable of, but what she did in that short space of time was quite remarkable. Another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Friend looked comfortable in the tight contest against the Western Jets back in Round 3, racking up a ton of the ball – 19 touches – and having a real influence in the forward half. Not only that, but she iced the game for the Rebels with a match-winning goal, and provided as much offence (six inside 50s) and defence (five tackles) to suggest she is a gamechanger and one to look out for next season.

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Made her debut in the NAB League Girls competition and just has that X-factor about her that makes you sit up and take notice. Elite acceleration out of the stoppage and some really top-end traits, Livingstone came into the Ranges’ midfield and assimilated easily that it was hard to believe she was not a top-ager. Behind the experienced Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown, Livingstone was the next biggest performer onball, and with another preseason behind her, it will be exciting to see just what she can produce with her athletic traits and ability to get forward and look dangerous.

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Yassir is just a fierce competitor who can play through the midfield or as a small forward. Standing at just 161cm, Yassir defies her size and is not afraid to take on bigger opponents, laying multiple tackles and is a contested ball winner. She stood up during Calder’s NAB League Girls finals series as a bottom-ager in 2019, and started strongly in 2020. She will have a bigger role in 2021 and has a bucketload of talent that will have opposition players wary of when she is in the zone.

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Another small forward and member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Pauga might just stand at 161cm like Yassir, but packs plenty of punch as a damaging forward. The second Maroochydore player in this list, Pauga finished second in her club’s goalkicking with 13 majors in 14 games, and was a clear standout. With an eye for goal and a large endurance base that sees her outwork opponents, Pauga is one who could step up again in 2021 and will be one to watch at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships having shown her wares at senior level in the QAFL Women’s already.

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

A hard-nosed midfielder/forward from West Adelaide, Venning came on in leaps and bounds throughout her second season in the red and black. She became a crucial member of the Bloods’ midfield, playing between wing and forward, though her attack on the ball shows she can easily translate into an inside midfielder. Providing great assistance to equal league best and fairest winner, Rachelle Martin as well as young talent Abbie Ballard, Venning is one who is dangerous around goals. She is still developing some areas of her game such as her kicking, but her work rate and intensity in play is superb.

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A reliable key defender for the Cannons, Lennox is a fourth member of the Calder side to make this list, and shows just how strong their top-age group will be next season. Lennox is one who is good at ground level for a taller player, being one of the most dominant rebounders in the competition to start the 2020 NAB League Girls season. As a player who stood out on the big stage of the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Lennox is not afraid of big moments, and will team up well with Gillard as a couple of talls in a really strong Cannons outfit.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

The sole Tasmanian prospect in the AFL Women’s National Academy, Prokopiec became one of the standout defenders for Tasmania Devils, albeit in just a handful of games in her bottom and middle-age years. As she showed with Clarence in the TSL Women’s competition this year and in the Tasmanian All-Stars game, Prokopiec is capable of playing at either end, and becoming that versatile tall utility. As a long kick and strong overhead, she is a crucial cog in the both the Roos and Devils sides, and will be hoping for a full season next year to test herself against the best in the NAB League Girls.

Amy Prokopiec (right). Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

There are quite a few talls in this list with potential, and Schirmer is another one who just has that look about her that she could be in for a big 2021. In her middle-age season with reigning premiers South Adelaide, she acquitted herself well and while she did have some really outstanding performances, even when she was quieter, there was always a moment or two within games where you could see she was capable of kicking a couple of goals and winning the match for her side. Not far off 180cm, Schirmer can push up to a wing or even in defence, but she always looks damaging inside 50 and a real target for her teammates to kick to.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A good size and capable of hitting the scoreboard, the 176cm James is a damaging prospect. She showed in her two games this year how she has developed both her offensive and defensive traits, and even as an Under 16s player for the Chargers, stood up in nine games and booted five goals. As one of a number of Chargers who were able to provide support to the top-end talent this year, James is another leader in the group to standout in her own top-age year in 2021.

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

Was a prominent member of the Norwood side in her debut SANFL Women’s season, then really stepped up as one of the best in the All-Stars match last month. She is predominantly a forward talent who can push up the ground into the midfield, and then play high or deep forward when required. A reliable kick for goal, she has that X-factor about her inside 50 and can be a leading or crumbing target, playing taller than her 166cm size, and one who will be another South Australian jostling for a spot as one of the more prominent talents in the state.

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A multi-sport talent for the Stingrays, Anthony also has that something special about her game playing as a forward. She can play at either end, and has progressed through the pathway from V/Line Cup to the NAB League Girls. One who has shared her football journey with cricket duties – she has only managed the five games for the Stingrays – she knows how to hit the scoreboard and provide a presence. Despite standing at just 166cm, Anthony plays like a taller forward and finds space, and will be a top talent to watch out for from the Stingrays in 2021.

Others:

Maroochydore’s Bella Smith is another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy who stood up for Maroochydore this season in the QAFL Women’s, whilst Georgia Hutton and Caitlin Thorne are a couple of Gold Coast Academy members who showed some top-end traits during the All-Stars match.

The South Australian group has been sensational with plenty having senior experience, led by South Adelaide’s Lauren Clifton who stood out in the All-Stars match up forward. Central District’s Madison Lane, North Adelaide’s Kate Case, Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon and Woodville-West Torrens’ Jamie Parish are others who have been ones to watch at SANFL Women’s level this season.

Over in the west, Chloe Reilly remains a dangerous forward option for East Fremantle with her work at ground level and around goals, whilst Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut, and South Fremantle trio, Tayla Whincup, Taylah Cruttenden and Poppy Stockwell are also great talents.

Looking to the NAB League and there are plenty of names to throw up, but a few in the mix include Mikayla Jones (Murray Bushrangers), Jemma Radford (Dandenong Stingrays) and Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons) who have shown to be natural players in their respective areas. From the Vic Metro perspective, Peppa Poultney (Calder Cannons), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Caitlin Sargent (Western Jets) and Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights) were terrific this year, while a host of middle-age Sandringham Dragons got their starts and will no doubt produce a number of surprise packets alongside their elite bottom-age talents.

Perri King is another Tasmanian prospect behind Prokopiec to watch, making history as the Devils’ first goalkicker last season and will be keen to build on that again. From Northern Territory, there is a heap of great young talents coming through from 2022 onwards, with one 2021 draft prospect being Georgia Johnson, a 160cm talent from Waratah who stood out in the NT All-Stars match last month. Playing in defence, she was one to take note of as she regularly mopped up and got the ball down the field for Team Hewett.

Alongside the top-age talents, a number of over-age talents who missed out on being drafted this year will no doubt be trying to stake their case against be it via the NAB League or state leagues, including Brooke Hards, Jemma Finning and Annabel Strahan (all Bendigo Pioneers), Zoe Hill, Abbey Jordan and Jess Matin (all Dandenong Stingrays), Ash Snow and Maeve Chaplin (both Northern Knights), Amber Micallef (Oakleigh Chargers), Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) and Grace McRae (Gippsland Power) who all received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but were unlucky to miss out.

In Western Australia, Maggie MacLachlan (Subiaco), Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Hyde (both Swan Districts) head into 2021 as over-agers, while mature-agers Ella Smith and Jess Low (both Claremont), Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle) and Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts) are others who missed out on the AFL Women’s Draft but will remain ones to watch.

Elsewhere, Northern Territorian Mattea Breed continues to develop for Norwood in South Australia, whilst Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers), Jayde Hamilton (Queanbeyan Tigers) and Kiara Beesley (Southern Power) were draft combine invitees from NSW/ACT.

In Queensland, Beth Pinchin has shown great resilience as a mature-ager coming back from multiple injuries, while Courtney Bromage and Brooke Spence are other mature-agers who caught attention this year. Christine Okesene, Ebony Peterson, Laura Blue, Chloe Gregory and Madison Goodwin were also in the mix this year with Draft Combine invites so will be kept on close watch in 2021. The other two players to receive AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but miss out were the exciting Freda Puruntatameri (Calder Cannons/Northern Territory) and Charlie Vandenberg (Wynyard/Tasmania) who have plenty of development left in them.

Player notes: SANFLW All-Stars

LAST week’s South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s All-Star display between Team Marinoff and Team Hatchard was a brilliant spectacle as plenty of players stood up and had an impact. We have taken a look at every player from the sides.

Team Marinoff:

Alex Ballard

Playing out of full-back, Ballard was one of the smoothest movers on the ground, but balanced equally in her attacking and defensive efforts. Donning the bright white boots which stood out under lights, Ballard’s use by foot and decision making was impressive, as was her positioning in marking contests. At one stage in the second term, Ballard handballed to herself to sidestep an opponent and continue at full speed to kick long down the line. In the third term, she sold candy to Charlotte Dolan and worked her way out of the back pocket, and tried to play on out of full-back on every occasion. Her second and fourth quarters were particularly influential and reminded people of the talent she has.

Nicole Campbell

Had the type of game you would expect from the South Adelaide midfielder, constantly winning the ball in close and giving her teammates the best chance of running free. She was often under a pack or feeding the contested ball out, and did it throughout four quarters in a real team performance. She showed her experience in that onball group and remained vital in the team’s success, doing her job around the clearances and when it counted with the game on the line.

Kate Case

As one of the youngest players out there, Case was busy inside 50, and continued to present throughout the night. Unfortunately she had a few unlucky moments, including a pass towards her hitting the ground just before she could grab it last in the third term, and then gave away a free in the final term. She was always active inside 50 however.

Lauren Clifton

The middle-age talent played forward and had an impact, kicking a second quarter goal to put her team within a kick at the main break. She had a chance on the end of quick ball movement earlier in the term, but got a poor bounce and ended up having to be the tackler on Zoe Prowse. Her 1-2 work with Laitiah Huynh led to her running into an open goalsquare and putting it home from 40m. In the third term, she had a set shot from a similar distance, but looked for a short option in Kate Case, only for the ball to just fall short and the opposition wrap it up for a stoppage. Moments later, Clifton had a quick snap but just went wide.

Leah Cutting

The ruck competed well around the ground against the athletic Prowse. Whilst Prowse was better in the centre square bounces, Cutting used her strength wherever possible, and was able to get back and help an under-siege defence in the first term. She intercepted with a strong mark in the goalsquare to save a certain goal, and worked hard throughout the four quarters to use her long kick to penetrate through the defence.

Jorja Eldridge

The talented medium utility played forward and took a great mark in the third term to get front position and kick the goal to put Team Marinoff in front for the first time.

Lauren Gauci

Was solid throughout the game, but her third quarter in particularly early, was a key reason Team Marinoff won the game. Time and time again she would intercept mark or lay a great tackle that stopped Hatchard in its tracks. One-on-one, Gauci positioned herself well and then would search for a difficult target inboard for the 45-degree kick. In one instance in the third term, Gauci intercepted, kicked forward, then immediately got back in position to mark one-on-one against Zoe Venning and do it all again.

Jade Halfpenny

Showed in glimpses what she is capable of playing as a forward and taking some really strong marks. She used the ball well such as in the first term where she hit up Emma Smith going inside 50. Another long bomb in the second term put the opposition under pressure in defence but unfortunately Clifton got a poor bounce. Halfpenny had another nice kick inside 50, hitting up Clifton well and showed quick hands at ground level in the fourth term gathering the ball inside 50 before being immediately tackled.

Kristi Harvey

The experienced full-back was a rock in defence and one of the standouts, particularly at the bookends of the game where the back 50 saw plenty of action. She took a number of contested marks, and then spread to offer an option to kick long with her raking kick an advantage to get out of trouble. She started the game on Katelyn Rosenzweig and was terrific one-on-one, but her ability to read the ball in flight and then take off when required was great. At one stage, she was beaten for speed against Alana Lishmund, but had the smarts to keep going and apply a tackle and win it back.

Laitiah Huynh

Huynh got better as the game went on and became a real factor in the second half of the match. Her quick hands in close were a standout with her ability to fire off a quick handball to a teammate under pressure, with a score assist via Tessa Kohn for a Jorja Eldridge goal in the third term. She set up another scoring chance to Lauren Clifton later in the term, and then was lively along the win in the final term. While she gave away a free kick for a tackle in the last quarter, she often teamed up with Central District teammate, Madison Lane and used her speed to advantage.

Jess Kirk

Did what you would expect South’s leading goalkicker to do and got front position early with a mark at the top of the square in the second term. She took the grab and protecting the ball drop, sent it home with four minutes remaining in the half to kick her side’s second goal of the contest. Kirk had another involvement in the third term when she scooped the ball off the deck for a quick snap but was marked on the goalline by Tahlia Meyer.

Tessa Kohn

The Glenelg midfielder had her moments, playing predominantly up forward and having a few chances on goal. A quick snap midway through the second term was bungled after a strong tackle from the opposition, but then a neat kick to the square set up Jess Kirk for a drought-breaking goal. She also locked the ball up inside 50 with a good tackle against two opponents to nullify the situation. Kohn had a direct goal assist in the third quarter with her kick going straight to Eldridge for a goal at the top of the square. Kohn switched into defence in the final term and was used on a number of occasions to kick outside 50, but was often sold into trouble against multiple opponents. Midway through the term, Kohn rushed through a behind for safety.

Brooklyn Kraft

The developing 182cm ruck/forward played permanently forward with Cutting taking the the ruck duties around the ground. Her first kick was intercepted going inside 50, but her next was the first goal for her side after a free kick inside 50. She converted from 20m out to draw within two points at that stage of the first term. Kraft bobbed up again with a second goal in the third term, winning a fortunate free kick because she tried to take the tackler on, slipped and the tackler fell in her back. Once again her perfect set shot routine won out and she kicked a second goal. She took a good mark on the wing in the final term, but rushed kicking and it was smothered by Tahlia Meyer, but showed off her long kick drifting to half-back later in the quarter.

Madison Lane

The Central District middle-age talent hit up Kraft with her first kick of the game in the first term, but became more lively later in the game. She was often looking for her Bulldogs teammates in Shelby Smith and Huynh, coming off half-back to spot them free on the wing. In the third term she was one of Marinoff’s best, mopping up in the back 50 and kicking long on multiple occasions. She was mowed down in a tackle by Grace Duffy after great work in a marking contest later in the quarter, then took a huge intercept mark on the wing in the dying moment to kick inside 50 and lead to the last goal of the game. Lane was just as prominent in the final term, and while on one occasion she was overzealous with a tackle to fall in her opponent’s back, she won it back with another tackle moments later. Her short kicking and work with Huynh down the outside was a feature of her game.

Kiana Lee

After a quieter first half, she won a fair few touches in the second half, particularly in the last term when she was handed a number of kick outs from defence. She won a free kick in defence and hit up Kraft, and then kicked long to safety from full-back, though Marinoff had plenty of numbers at the drop zone. She showed her strength in the air and her quick disposal with a handball out of a stoppage earlier in the game in the third term.

Jess Macolino

A superb performance by the inside midfielder and would have been among those considered for best on ground if they had awarded it. She put together a four quarter performance and used her hands in close and strength around the stoppages to have an impact. Time and time again she would be tackled, but remained upright and handballed off to a teammate to clear the ball out of congestion, which was vital for her side. She was a clear best-on in the second term, racking up the ball with ease and showed off her work rate to get to multiple contests in a passage of play. She set up a scoring chain by fending off an opponent inside 50 and handball to Huynh which eventually led to an Eldridge goal. Finally Macolino’s hard work had extra reward, getting on the end of a movement forward to win a free kick just before the final break, kicking a set shot goal from 35m out, which would end up being Marinoff and the game’s final goal.

Tesharna Maher

One of Marinoff’s best in the first quarter, she stood tall in the first term when her side was under-siege and played the percentages long towards the boundary line. She was often the first kick out of defence, and used her speed to take the game on. Whilst she missed the odd target, she showed what she can offer in spurts and certainly showed in in the first term.

Katelyn Pope

Her night ended early with a broken wrist in the fourth term, but showed her trademark speed and desire around the contest prior to that. Running hard down the wings and providing an option, Pope was used in transition as Marinoff got back on top in the match. In one instance she won a free kick on the wing, darted around Grace Duffy and went for a run to kick forward, having a number of inside 50s on the night.

Gypsy Schirmer

A highlight-reel player, the middle-age talent’s best moment came midway through the second term when she produced a massive run-down tackle in the middle of the ground, showing off her closing speed. Whilst she did not hit the scoreboard as she regularly can for South, Schirmer showed she will be one to watch next year having that defensive mindset to accompany her offensive prowess.

Bella Smith

A rock in defence, particularly early when Team Marinoff was under pressure. She touched what would have been a certain goal on the goal line to rush a behind, then took a strong contested mark at half-back and rebound well. She continued to have an impact throughout the game, and rolled forward in the third term to put the hands out to gather, but was immediately tackled. She had another goal-saving effort in the final term with a relieving kick out of the danger zone to Lane.

Emma Smith

Really prominent early as one of the few who was moving the ball in transition. While others took over as the game went on, Smith remained vigilant in her attack between the wing and half-forward. Her first instance in play was a great one-on-one contest to outbody her opponent and have a shot on goal with probably the weirdest run up. She stopped midway through the run up only metres from her opponent, then started again but her kick fell short and bounced on the line to remain in. Her work overhead was great, taking a number of strong marks, and then showed off her speed in the final term with a nice run, through it was intercepted going inside 50.

Shelby Smith

Did not look out of place roaming through the Marinoff midfield, and contributed with her attack on the ball and desire to win the footy. Often combining with her Central District teammates in Huynh and Lane, Smith found space on the wing and maintained a high work rate throughout the match.

Teagan Usher

Had a busy middle two quarters coming out of defence for Team Marinoff, and continually tried hard to move the ball quickly. Made a few mistakes and was caught early in the second term trying to take on Hannah Prenzler, but did well deep in defence late in the second term and then early in the third. She managed to hit up Jess Macolino at half-forward and kept the ball moving. Once she adapted to the speed – having missed a fair bit of footy this year – she played short and sharp passes which proved effective.

Andie Zbierski

Unlucky to give up a free kick in the second term for going in hard, Zbierski was able to gain plenty of experience out of the match having come from Whyalla in North Adelaide’s country zone. With plenty of development left, she will be one to watch for the future.

Team Hatchard:

Abbie Ballard

Worked hard throughout the game for not a great deal of reward, but was ever present cracking in and giving it her all. Her best quarter came in the final term when she had a number of inside 50s in an attempt to haul her team back into the contest. Spending time around the ground, once she went into the middle she had more of an impact and had a great kick inside 50 to hit up Rosenzweig leading out 20m late in the quarter.

Tahlita Buethke

Had some impressive moments throughout the game, being involved in one of her side’s first quarter goals, winning it at half-forward, then combining with Cristie Castle to get it to Brooke Tonon to run on and kick her second of the quarter. She had some great moments through the third term and was one of the best for her side in the quarter, often used as a link in the chain going forward. Copped a knock in the final term from a tackle but got up and was able to take her kick inside 50.

Rhiannon Busch

Reliable as ever, Busch did not need to rack up a heap of the ball to just play her role. She often nullified an opposition forward when the ball went in there, and showed some great defensive pressure. She laid a huge tackle in the back 50 in the final term, and her team won the ball as a result of her pressure. Then she showed her aggressive side with possession by intercepting it further up the ground in the last quarter and bombing deep, but the shot was rushed across the line by Tessa Kohn.

Cristie Castle

Might not have got on the board herself, but seemed to always be in the periphery whenever the ball went forward. The North Adelaide forward came out to attack the ball and whilst she was sold into trouble in the first term, managed to get the ball to Tonon who kicked the second goal of the game. Moments later, she beat two opponents and gave off quick hands to Lishmund who also finished off. Involved in those two early goals, the Hatchard forwards had a tougher day after quarter time, with Castle again bobbing up in the final term, copping a knock and ending up a bit sore, but bouncing up and continuing to compete.

Czenya Cavouras

Much like Campbell, had a game that you would expect of someone with her experience. A train-on player at the Crows, Cavouras is one of those players you know will play a four-quarter game and she did just that. There was not much flashiness about it, but her hardness and attack on the contest around the stoppage was rarely matched. She had a couple of strong moments where she just kept the ball moving forward and trying to crash through opponents to keep it live in the forward half, and then had a great shrug from a tackle and kick to Rosenzweig inside 50 in the third term. A fourth term intercept mark against a much taller Cutting showed how well she reads the play and is able to position herself so effectively in one-on-one contests. Her set shot from the intercept mark 45m out just fell short.

Julia Clark

Had some moments throughout the game and won a free kick on the wing for last-touch and kicked forward. Was able to utilise her speed on a number of occasions despite not winning a heap of the ball. Uses the ball well when she does have it.

Charlotte Dolan

The lively player did not have the usual time and space that she is afforded at SANFL Women’s level, but still had a number of highlights. In the second term she got down and won the ball out of a pack by hand to get it to Izzy Kuiper for a kick downfield. She then gave by hand to Grace Duffy not long after to go inside 50, and whilst in the third term she was sold candy by Alex Ballard at half-back, she mopped up the ball in defence late in the game, with a number of clever plays at ground level, and a free kick in a marking contest with five minutes remaining on the clock.

Grace Duffy

Played a good four quarter game and was lively early in the match, with the opening clearance of the game. She would drop back into defence to mop up and look to run down the field, winning plenty of it through the first half to be quite prolific. Often she would receive it in space and kick inside 50, then did well one-on-one against the dangerous Katelyn Pope to use her strength and tap it away from Pope to a teammate in space. She laid a huge tackle on Lane in the third term, and whilst she was sidestepped by Pope not long after, she did well to back up and create a contest. Duffy won a free kick in the final term when she was tackled and looked to create an extra number at each contest she attended.

Madisyn Freeman

The over-ager first appeared early in the second term with a free kick and 25m penalty inside 50 to try and give her side their fourth goal of the contest. Unfortunately the kick horribly skewed off the boot and went wide for a behind. She remained lively through the early stages of the term, winning a free kick, turning it over, but then pressuring the opposition at the next stoppage to win a free kick.

Izzy Kuiper

Her notes from the game were almost identical each time, went in hard and won the contested ball. The Sturt teenager did it time and time again and refused to back down from a challenge. Using her taller frame around the stoppages, she can win the ball with ease and showed during the second term, create scoring opportunities by kicking inside 50. Her intent and tackling pressure never waivers.

Alana Lishmund

The middle-age talent was one of the more prominent for Hatchard, kicking an opening term goal after great work by Castle against two opponents to get it free by quick hands to Lishmund who finished off with a great goal 15 minutes into the term to extend the lead to 14. Lishmund remained prominent after quarter time, beginning with a huge run-down tackle in defence in the second quarter. She laid another big tackle, this time inside forward 50. Managing to pick up touches around the ground, Lishmund was able to kick towards Rosenzweig midway through the third term, and then had a clean pick-up off the deck who kicked forward but was intercepted by Lane. A final term set shot resulted in one behind, whilst doing well later in the final stanza to keep the ball inside the lane in forward 50.

Tahlia Meyer

Able to stand out wearing the long socks, Meyer found plenty of the ball and was predominantly stationed in defence. She pushed up the ground when he side had more ascendancy, but was involved in a lot of attacking plays. Meyer played well to win the ball in dangerous positions for the opposition and safely exit the back 50 by foot. She was among the best on the field in the second term, as she did her best to restrict the damage done by Team Marinoff. Meyer worried the opposition early in the third term with a quick kick along the ground inside 50, but Rosenzweig could not quite get a proper shot on goal. Meyer pulled in a strong goal-saving mark on the goal-line after a quick snap by Kirk in the third term, and then smothered a ball on the wing off Kraft’s kick. She was so clean at half-forward in the final term, spotting up the loose Lishmund to hand her younger teammate a set shot on goal.

Tamsyn Morriss

Named among Team Hatchard’s best by the coaches, Morriss played her team role well. Possessing a terrific kick and an ability to run hard, she was involved in plays in transition and did what was asked of her on the night. She might not win as much of the ball as others, but she uses it well and can play just about anywhere on the field.

Jamie Parish

Took a strong mark in defensive 50 in the second term, and whilst she did not win a heap of it, gained a great deal of experience playing in a back 50 with a lot more experienced players. She played her role and rotated around despite having a quieter night.

Hannah Prenzler

Made her impact early with a charge through the middle and a willingness to take the game on. She kicked long down the guts and her work set up a vital goal to Brooke Tonon on the end of some handballs which had put the defence under pressure. When Teagan Usher tried to take her on at half-back, the Sturt talent was having none of it, laying a superb tackle and winning a free kick to kick deep. One of those players that does not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact and she showed that, because she is a natural metres-gained player.

Zoe Prowse

Had a great battle with the more experienced Cutting around the ground. Cutting had more influence early in the game, but Prowse won more after quarter time, laying some strong tackles and getting her hands dirty at ground level. She thrived in the air with her athletic leap. Prowse had a number of forward half possessions and was able to lock up a ball in the second term when Clifton was about to run into an open goal. With another year of development, the talented young ruck will be one to watch in 2021.

Katelyn Rosenzweig

The Central Districts forward was well held by Kristi Harvey early on when her side was on top, though the duel was entertaining between the two contested marking players. She did manage to get free and give the handball off to Zoe Venning in the opening term, but unfortunately her kick was marked on the line. Early in the third when she had more space, she gathered the ball and gave it to Buethke, but whenever the ball came in her direction, the defenders were often aware of her ability to hit the scoreboard and were quick to lay the tackle.

Rayne Rivalland

Played in defence and had a couple of noticeable moments. In the first term, Rivalland played a great passage of play by intercepting the ball under pressure and used it well by foot midway through the quarter. In the second term when under pressure, she had the sense to rush through a behind and help her team reset to kick out of defence. Lastly, she laid a great tackle in the back 50 to lock the ball up and force a stoppage for her side when Marinoff was attacking.

Erin Sundstrom

Really productive, particularly in the second half coming out of defence when Hatchard was under pressure. On a number of occasions she charged out of defence, and kicked long down the wing to safety. Showing her ability to pressure opponents with her closing speed, Sundstrom laid a great tackle on Kate Case who could not take the sliding mark, and it forced a ball-up inside the defensive 50.

Brooke Tonon

Finishing with two goals, Tonon was really lively in the opening term, with both her majors coming from running goals. The fast transition from Team Hatchard helped the middle-ager on this occasion, being on the end of a play and using her speed to create some distance between her and her opponent goalside. That resulted in her putting through the first major of the game in the third minute, and then made it two when Castle got the ball to her and she ran into another open goal in the last five minutes of the quarter. She almost set up a third goal with a nice kick inside 50 to a leading Zoe Venning, but unfortunately Venning missed the set shot. Tonon attacked the contest hard when inside 50, and whilst she did not get a great look at it after the first term – due to Marinoff’s dominance, she featured in the final term with a set shot from 35m that just fell short and was marked on the line.

Zoe Venning

One of Hatchard’s best even if it was an almost-game in the sense that she just fell short of kicking multiple goals. Nonetheless, Venning was lively, quick on the lead and strong in the air, just needed the extra touch of confidence when kicking for goal. She had an early touch off the first play going forward, and then had a couple of marks inside the fist five minutes. Her first set shot was touched on the line and then a quick snap with her second was marked on the line. A third shot on goal in the last minute again just fell short from 25m, but she was getting amongst it. Venning won an early free in the second term for her pressure, and remained busy rotating through the Hatchard midfield. She was beaten a couple of times one-on-one against more experienced opponents, but showed her class with a terrific kick inside 50 late in the game to hit-up Tonon leading out.

Amber Ward

The over-ager had a strong performance in the back half, and even went forward throughout the game to be a target, but it was her booming kick from half-back in the first term that set up an end-to-end goal for Tonon. Her tackling pressure was impressive, laying multiple tackles on opponents early in the second and kicking long inside 50. She had a minor slip in the final term but otherwise had a really solid game with her penetrating kicking and intercepting when needed.

Ashleigh Woodland

The midfielder-forward spent a fair chunk of time in defence in the match, trying to use her skill and run to impact the contest off half-back. She was not afraid to break the lines and use her booming kick to advantage, having a real impact in the first term as one of Hatchard’s best players. Whilst she was not able to ply her known scoreboard impact in the game due to her role, she certainly showed her versatility by spending minutes behind the ball. Unfortunately a head knock in the opening minute of the final term ended her night.

Matilda Zander

It was no surprise to see Zander covering a heap of ground and being one of the more prominent ball winners on the ground. Even in a losing team, the Norwood talent remained among the better players on the ground. She spent a great deal of time on-ball and combined well with Cavouras and Isobel Kuiper on the inside, then would also go forward and try and keep it moving. She had a flying shot at the goal in the final term but just missed to the right, her second behind of the contest after a first quarter miss. She was involved in the transition play going inside 50, setting up Venning with an early set shot, then had a neat kick to Ward early in the second term. Overall, she remained pivotal in Hatchard’s game plan and was always busy across the field.

Picture: AFL Media

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

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

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

TEAM HATCHARD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEAM MARINOFF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s Round 6 preview: Sunday clashes ones to watch in huge round of action

NOW the first games have been done and won, the eight South Australian National Football League (SANFL) teams return for Round 2 in what is a blockbuster round of action. Sunday’s games in particular – between West Adelaide and Sturt, and North Adelaide and Glenelg – are ones to watch.

NORWOOD VS. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, July 4, 11.50am
Coopers Stadium

Opening up the round is a clash between fourth placed Norwood and sixth placed Woodville-West Torrens Eagles. The Redlegs made their way into fourth win an impressive win over Central District last week, leapfrogging Sturt into a finals position at the midpoint of the season. The Eagles have been close in each match they have played, but still remain with just the one win. A victory and a Sturt loss would see the Eagles move up to fifth on the table, whilst a Norwood win would see them draw level with the Bloods if Sturt can get up, or go a full three points clear inside the top four if as expected, West Adelaide wins against the Double Blues.

In terms of changes, the Redlegs have made just the one confirmed change with Lindsay Bigg the only confirmed out of the side, whilst Elisha Gallagher and Bella Smith return in what will be a good boost for the side. The Eagles have made at least two forced changes, with both Stephanie Walker and Natasha Holmes out of the match through injury. Adding to an extended bench for thew visiting side is Bronwyn Davey, Brooke Mullen, Jaida Tabb and Eli Gianakis all named.

For the Eagles to win, their top notch tackling pressure will need to be on show again, and the inclusion of Renee Forth last week added a touch of class to a fiercely defensive side. Tesharna Maher and Jovanka Zecevic impressed in the first round back after a long lay-off, whilst the inclusion of Tabb – the sister of Adelaide’s Jaimi – will show off some of he future talent on the list. One player who will be looking to have a bigger influence on the contest this week is forward, Kiana Lee who can be really influential on her day.

Norwood just has a lot of good solid talent across the park, with some serious young X-factor such as Matilda Zander and Mattea Breed who have plenty of potential to keep developing their football. Given arguably the league’s best ruckman in Leah Cutting is doing her thing and Najwa Allen and Monique Hollick are back in the side, there is plenty to like about Norwood’s premiership credentials. Smith has been named at centre half-back and will be one to watch, whilst Alison Ferrall proved a handful up forward last week booting three goals, the same as Breed.

Norwood head into this as favourites and should win, but the Eagles always make life difficult for opposition teams with their defensive pressure.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE VS. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, July 4, 3.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

Reigning back-to-back champions South Adelaide welcome Central District to Flinders University Stadium in a match the Panthers will be keen to win well. They were pushed all the way by Glenelg last weekend, while Central District had its chances but could not convert enough to really threaten Norwood. Heading into this game, South sit second on the table only behind the top of the table Roosters, whilst the Bulldogs are in last, but a win would see them get off the bottom of the table.

Central has the less complicated changes of the teams, with young talent Kimberley Fry the only confirmed out of the side for tomorrow’s match. Emma Keys, Keely Cannizzaro and Amber James are the three players named in an extended squad. The Panthers have been forced to make five changes with some big names out through injury or work. Czenya Cavouras and Elke Jarvis both have work commitments and will miss the game, while an injured trio in captain Lauren Buchanan, Courtney Barry and Elyse Haylock are all out. Naturally South Adelaide has named seven players as possible replacements, including Emily Brockhurst, Sheena Peters, Brianna Wedding and Lauren Clifton who were all named on the field for the clash.

What makes the Panthers so strong in the depth within the starting line-up and very few weaknesses. Glenelg was able to get on top at times last week, but it took some AFL Women’s talent to break down South Adelaide. Then the likes of Nikki Gore, Hannah Munyard and Jess Kirk all fought back to have important roles through the inside midfield, outside midfield and forward line respectively. Add in the fact that the Panthers won without a huge contribution from star young gun Teah Charlton – who started to get going late in the contest, and there is a reason they have been so successful of late. In the absence of Buchanan, Jaslynne Smith and Samantha Pratt have some big jobs ahead of them.

The Bulldogs were gallant at times last week and never looked completely out of the contest. Katelyn Rosenzweig is always a danger up forward with her strong hands and penetrating kick likely to hit the scoreboard each and every week. She will always attract a crowd too at the marking contest, so if the Bulldogs crumbers can get to work, they can have a bit of freedom knowing their opponents can occasionally try and assist a defender in stopping Rosenzweig. The likes of Alicia Butler and Latiah Huynh were really impressive last week, and have some eye-catching traits. Whilst scoring at times has been an issue for Central, their defence stacks up against some of the best, with Sarah Allan returning to the club for the second half of the season and providing that extra experience alongside Demi Sonneman and another returning player in Gemma Doughty who made the successful return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last week.

South Adelaide will be strong favourites for this one given the midfield strength, but with a couple of key players down in the back half, Central has a chance to take advantage of the reshuffling of magnets.

 

WEST ADELAIDE VS. STURT
Sunday, July 5, 11.50am
Hisense Stadium

Of all the clashes, this could be the most exciting. Both teams have an abundance of youth which they are backing in this week and will make for quite the show at Hisense Stadium. Naturally, the third placed West Adelaide will have the upper hand at home, sitting in a good position to pounce if South Adelaide slips up. The Bloods have a good percentage gap on fourth placed Norwood, and after getting the job done against Woodville-West Torrens eagles in a scrap last week, expect the game to open up more this week. Sturt dropped out of the top four and their percentage took a hit with that huge 77-point defeat to North Adelaide, so getting a win here would be important to try and get their form back.

Amelie Finnimore and Nicole Hooper will miss the Bloods clash through injury this week, while Tamika May and Taylor Hand are also listed on the outs. A debutant in Hannah Scholar from Morphettville Park will join four others on an extended bench. Olivia Smith, Abbey Hardwick, Alex Mason, Scarlett Griffiths and Georgie Gray are all in line to return to the team for the clash. Sturt on the other hand has made just the two changes with Ally Ladas out injured, joining Holly Temby as the two confirmed changes. In line to make their debuts for the Double Blues are Olivia McEvoy and Tiah Hough, the latter of whom is a member of the Crows’ Academy. Caroline Burgess and Aajiah Jericho are the other two named in an extended team.

Whilst Sturt might have been overwhelmed last week, there was always a bit to like about the way they move the ball, and they when using their short kicking and hitting up targets it worked, but North Adelaide knew to add pressure to the mix and it was hard to quell. Hannah Prenzler was a standout down back with Maya Rigter throwing herself everywhere through midfield trying everything to get her team over the. Rigter and her co-captain Georgia Bevan are guiding a young team, and Rigter herself is still only 19. Zoe Prowse had a quieter game last week but has the potential to really get going, whilst Alex Ballard had some purple patches in the game.

West Adelaide was able to do enough to shake off a determined Eagles outfit in Round 5, and their two half-backs in AFL Women’s Crows talent Madison Newman and young gun Keeley Kustermann might be the best one-two combination at that position when it comes to running and hitting targets. Having two terrific ball users coming out of defence is crucial to a team’s success and they certainly offer that. With Rachelle Martin and Abbie Ballard leading the charge in midfield, they can get it down to arguably the most damaging forward line as well. Melanie Elsegood as the deep forward alongside AFL Women’s talent in Chelsea Biddell and Stevie-Lee Thompson is a strong mix, whilst Zoe Venning provides that dash between the arcs.

West Adelaide are one of the dark horses this season and should get the job done here, but both teams will score more than they did last week in a free-flowing contest.

 

GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 5, 12pm
ACH Group Stadium

If AFL Women’s talent is what you after, then look no further than the final game of the round between the undefeated North Adelaide and the rising Glenelg. On face value the Tigers are seventh on the table and really need to start making a move to have a chance at finals. But with the return of a number of AFL Women’s players – who all had a big impact last week against South – they are ready to rake in the wins. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they have copped the two best sides in the first two weeks back, and this North Adelaide team is coming off a 77-point demolition job of Sturt.

Glenelg will be without Soriah Moon who is a big loss, joining Cass Hartley as the players out of the side from the loss to Sturt. Coming into the team are Molly Affolter, Sheridan Howell, Lauren Bungey and Rachel Aistrope with at least two to make it into the final term. Alex Fitridge is the only out for the Roosters this week, as North Adelaide welcomes back defender Lauren Gauci, as well as adding Kendall Howell, Charlea Taylor and Brianna Arthur to an extended bench.

North have managed to get stronger with the addition of Gauci who provides extra strength to the league’s best backline. Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward have been mainstays in the key posts this year, but bringing in West Coast’s Talia Radan adds another key talent in there, and Gauci will have the freedom to provide some extra run when needed. Through the midfield, Anne Hatchard would have broken all kinds of statistical records last week when she brought her own ball to the game against the Double Blues. She was simply unstoppable and carried on her best and fairest winning from from the Crows. Teaming up with Ashleigh Woodland and Leah Tynan in midfield, and throwing in the speed and class of Katelyn Pope and Hannah Ewings, and the Roosters outfit are premiership favourites for a reason. There are very few, if any weaknesses in the line-up, and it will take a special effort to beat them on any given day.

Glenelg do have some serious talent that can stretch the Roosters however, led by Ebony Marinoff, Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould. Marinoff was enormous in the first half for the Bays last week, and Jones was just about their best with her strong hands and work in transition up forward. Caitlin Gould could have had a bigger day and might be ruing her missed chances on goal, something she will no doubt fix for this game. Deni Varnhagen provided great speed on the outside, whilst Grace Duffy and Sam Franson also had impressive moments in the loss. The Tigers top-end talent is class and quality, and whilst North Adelaide have the greater depth, the Bays have a lot of strong contributors who work as one unit and know what each other is capable of, and why they pushed the reigning back-to-back premiers for so long last week.

The Roosters are favourites because they have not lost and on paper are the best team in the competition, but they can also not underestimate what Glenelg is capable of on its day, especially with Marinoff and Jones among those running around.

SANFL Women’s Round 4 preview: Top of the table clash beckons

AFTER the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s players enjoyed a long weekend off, they return to action tonight and tomorrow night with a couple of double headers played at X Convenience Oval and Flinders University Stadium. The final game of the round is predicted to be the best of the lot with the top two sides, South Adelaide and North Adelaide doing battle, whilst West Adelaide looks to keep breathing space inside the top three when the Bloods take on fifth placed Norwood. In the games tonight, Woodville-West Torrens hopes to open its account against fourth placed Glenelg who found form last round, whilst one of Central District or Sturt will grab their second win of the season in the other game.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. GLENELG
Friday, March 13, 6.30pm
X Convenience Oval

Woodville-West Torrens is still waiting for its maiden SANFL Women’s competition win after pushing reigning premiers, South Adelaide all the way in Round 1, almost having it against Norwood in Round 2, and then getting narrowly beaten by Sturt in Round 3. For Glenelg, its season did not look great early, going down to North Adelaide in the opening round by 24 points, then getting smashed by West Adelaide to the tune of 40 points in the second week. Last week the Tigers turned it around with a smashing of their own to gain back some vital percentage points thanks to a 50-point win over Central District. The win catapulted last year’s fourth placed team into that position and put the Tigers’ season back on track. Now they take on a side that has been so good for long stints of games, but just failed to close it out when it counts.

The Eagles are renowned as the competition’s premier tackling team. Whilst it does mean that often they are second to the ball – ranked seventh for disposals and fifth for disposal differential, they are miles ahead of any other team when it comes to defensive pressure. The Eagles have laid a whopping 237 tackles in just three games – 51 more than their nearest rival. They have a plus 69 in the statistic, and that is an area that Glenelg will have to be wary of, though the Tigers also rank strongly with a plus 26 (second) and 182 total for third overall.

Glenelg’s strength comes in its ruck craft with a competition high 90 and plus 44 in hitouts and hitouts differential respectively. The Eagles have a struggled a tad in that area, ranked sixth for differential, whilst both teams have similar clearance numbers. Often the Eagles defence has to stand up under immense pressure with a minus 30 in inside 50s, ranked seventh in the comp, though Glenelg is only marginally better ranked fifth with a plus seven. Despite losing two games, Glenelg’s rebounding numbers are the equal worst in the comp at 46, with a seventh rank of differential at minute 10. The Eagles are the top side in both areas, with 84 and plus 26 respectively.

Both sides have been forced to make a number of changes to the Round 3 line-ups, with Caitlin Gould the huge out from the Tigers as she was recalled for Adelaide AFL Women’s duty. Along with Chelsea Packer and Sam Franson who are both injured, the Tigers are understrength for the clash, and are missing a number of quality players from the 22. To try and fill the quality lost in the side are Molly Althouse, Molly Affolter and Tasja Batzavalis, with Althouse not playing since Round 1, and the other two recalled after missing Round 2. A player who has been in some ripping form this year is Tessa Kohn, who will look to control the midfield, averaging 12 disposals, 4.7 tackles, 4.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s so far this season on the inside. Alongside her is the tackling machine in Lucy Armitage who has laid a whopping 7.3 tackles to go with her 9.3 disposals (86 per cent efficiency). The Tigers coaching staff have also shuffled the magnets with midfielder-defender, Madisyn Freeman named in the forward pocket to try and potentially fill the void left by Franson.

The home team has also been forced to make a number of changes with Georgia Taylor missing through a knee injury and Mikayla Cavallaro suffering concussion, whilst three other changes have been made. Jaida Tabb – sister of Eagles and Adelaide AFL Women’s Jaimi is set to make her debut after just missing out last week, whilst Charlotte Dolan achieves the same milestone in the game. A crucial recall is Adelaide’s Rhiannon Metcalfe who will proved an important presence in the ruck against a Tigers outfit renowned for its stoppage work. Jaimi Tabb (12.3 disposals, 6.7 tackles, 6.7 tackles and 1.0 goals) has been thrown into the midfield after three goals playing out of full-forward last week, joined in there by fellow teenager, Teagan Usher (7.0 disposals, 4.3 tackles, 2.3 clearances). With Tesharna Maher (11.3 disposals, 4.7 rebounds) in defence and Kiana Lee (9.7 disposals, 3.7 marks and 1.3 goals) up in attack, the Eagles’ youth is what drives the team each week and sooner or later the scales will tip and they will close out a game.

Based on what we will witness, it will be a fierce tackling game with two sides who are not renowned for getting a heap of ball inside 50, but Glenelg will need to make the most of its opportunities if it is to capitalise on its ruck dominance. The Eagles’ defence and defensive pressure are rated the best in the league for a reason, and you cannot fault them in that regard. Woodville-West Torrens players just need to hold their nerves during crucial moments, because they could well have been 2-1 or even 3-0 to start the season, though you feel a win is not too far away.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
Friday, March 13, 8.15pm
X Convenience Oval

The second game of tonight’s double header pits home side, Central District up against Sturt in a battle of seventh against sixth respectively. The Bulldogs started the season with a groundbreaking four-point win over last year’s minor premiers Norwood for the first time. Since then though, they lost to North Adelaide by 54 points, and Glenelg by 50 in what has been a rough couple of weeks in Rounds 2 and 3. They have had a week off to reassess and this game could be a real chance for the Bulldogs to get back on the winners board with Sturt having a similar season, but in reverse. The Double Blues finally grinded out a win by eight points over a plucky Woodville-West Torrens outfit last week, which came after back-to-back losses of 21 (West Adelaide) and 34 points (South Adelaide), but more concerning was the fact the Double Blues had only kicked 3.6 in those games combined. They turned that around last week with 5.6 in the game, and will be hoping to take advantage in this contest. Central District has only scored 2.5 combined in the past two weeks themselves, so the Bulldogs might look to a similar inspiration to bounce back with some more scoring.

Central District’s defence is ranked second in the competition, with 75 total rebounds, and a differential of plus 23, just three behind the leaders in that stat, Woodville-West Torrens. Whilst it might seem obvious the bottom two sides have the highest differential (with sixth placed Sturt third but a bit behind with plus three), they have managed to rebound 76 per cent of the opposition’s inside 50s. The Bulldogs are not a high possession side though, ranked eighth in total disposals and differential, kicking and handballing differentials, clearances, and hitouts and inside 50s total and differential. But it is hard to read into that too early in the season, though they won in Round 1 with these stats in the red. The Bulldogs are a kick-first side with a 3.26 ratio between kicks to handballs (more than three kicks to every handball), whilst their opposition has run at a ratio of 2.1. Their defence is their strength, so that is where they can look to rebound from and counter against Sturt in this game.

The Double Blues have a few more areas where they lead the league, with marks differential (plus 67) and total hitouts (80), which shows that they like to get first hands on it and also play more of a simplified game by hitting targets more so than running and gunning it. Their 2.4 kick-to-handball ratio is higher than the league average, but despite their hitouts dominance, they have not been able to translate that into clearance numbers, ranked eighth in the league with a differential of minus 27. They also only have one more inside 50 than their opponent coming into this game, though with 28 more on differentials. Their matches so far have largely been played between the arcs compared to the Bulldogs, with 131 times going inside 50 at either end of the ground compared to Central District’s 197. They win a bit more of the ball, but again are ranked seventh for disposal differential, so these are two sides that are not huge possession sides, but try and make the most of their opportunities going forward.

With the return of the rebranded National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central, Sturt will be without ruck Stephanie Ratliff, whilst Jaimee Wittervan will play her other sport of touch football this weekend. Lane Trenorden is the other forced out for the Double Blues, missing due to illness, whilst six players have been named in an extended interchange situation. Olivia McEvoy, Kiera Mueller and Louise Firth could make their debuts in the match, while Hannah Dreckow and Cherie Bamford join Elsie Dawes as other ins for the side. The strength of the Double Blues was their hitouts, though it is hard to deny the impact of co-captains, Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter this season. Bevan has averaged a team-high 19.3 disposals, 2.7 marks, 7.3 tackles, 2.7 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s and 2.3 rebounds, while Rigter has put up numbers of 14.7 disposals, 4.0 marks, 8.0 tackles and 2.3 clearances. Right alongside them in the best and fairest contention would have to be 17-year-old Hannah Prenzler who has been a rock in defence, averaging 12.3 disposals (at 81 per cent efficiency), 5.7 marks, 2.3 tackles and 2.3 rebounds from her three games this season. Fellow youngster, Zoe Prowse might have a bigger role in the ruck now Ratliff is out of the side, averaging 10.7 disposals, 2.7 marks and 10.3 hitouts per game thus far.

Central is lucky enough to not have to make any forced changes, instead adding four players to its side with an extended bench ahead of tonight’s big clash. Keely Cannizzaro returns after a couple of weeks out and slots straight into centre half-back, while Ella Mickan (wing), Tess Gerhardy (back pocket) and Hannah Pavlovich (interchange) are the others to come into the team. The focal point up forward is undoubtedly Katelyn Rosenzweig who after booting four goals a game in the win over Norwood, has only managed the two since. She has booted six of the Bulldogs’ seven goals in season 2020, so the home side must find more options to goal if they are to be a threat of kicking a winning score. With Sturt having some strong defenders, the likes of Shannon Murphy (full-forward) and Georgia Madigan (forward pocket) could be targets to add scoreboard pressure. Demi Sonneman (14.7 disposals, 5.0 rebounds) is enjoying a really strong season in the back 50, teaming up well with Kimberley Fry (10 disposals, 3.7 rebounds) and making it difficult for opposition teams to control the airways. Through the midfield, Shelby Smith (14.7 disposals, 43.7 marks, 3.7 clearances, 3.7 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s and 2.0 rebounds) is the one to watch out for as she has been finding her fair share of the ball for the Bulldogs on the inside.

The Bulldogs have put out a really stable side for the next round match, not panicking with changes and backing in their squad. The Double Blues have lost a number of players through various circumstances and that could assist the Bulldogs in bouncing back with a win. In saying that, last round Sturt looked very impressive in its victory over Woodville-West Torrens and if it can replicate its form, then the Double Blues deserve favouritism. With more avenues to goal, the Bulldogs will be a bigger threat and if they can execute that, then watch out.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, March 14, 5.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

Opening up a massive double header at Flinders University Stadium which features four of the top five teams is a clash between third and fifth on the SANFL Women’s ladder. West Adelaide is coming off its first loss of the season, going down to North Adelaide by 21 points last week after accounting for Glenelg (40 points) the week before, and Sturt (21) in Round 1. They head into this match hoping to bounce back, and remain a win clear of the Redlegs inside the top three. Norwood started its season off with a four-point win over Central District in Round 1, before bouncing back with a thrilling last-minute win over Woodville West Torrens by a point in Round 2, then suffering defeat again, this time by 30 points to South Adelaide.

Statistically speaking, West Adelaide is the number one clearance team in the competition. Racking up 77 clearances – nine more than the Bloods’ nearest rival – and 26 more than their opponents across the first three weeks, it is an area that they can really take advantage of here. Unfortunately the stoppage dominance has not always led to inside 50 numbers, ranked sixth overall in that area, and when it does go back the other way, the Bloods are equal lowest in terms of overall rebounds. In many other areas they are middle of the road and not too bad, though they are very much a handball-happy side with a 1.87 kick-to-handball ratio, and are ranked fourth overall for disposals.

One ahead of them in ball-winning numbers is the Redlegs who are ranked third in the competition for total disposals, though in their loss to South Adelaide had 63 less touches despite clocking up 201 disposals themselves. One of Norwood’s top strengths is its marking ability, having clunked the second most marks in the competition (141) and marking differential (plus 57). They also lead the league in clearance differential (plus 32) and pump the ball inside 50 more often than any other team (93) with a healthy plus 18 in that stat differential. Their areas of improvement are defensive ones, with Norwood’s tackling differential (minus 68) and rebounding differential (minus 26) the two key areas where they rank eighth in the competition for.

Looking to the teams and West Adelaide has made three changes, with Nicole Hooper missing the game due to injury, while Tara McDermott and Marie Martino are also listed as outs. Coming into the team is clever forward, Kasia Culhane to boost the attacking stocks, as well as Taylor Hand and Ashlea James. What makes the West Adelaide midfield so deep is the top-end talent of Abbie Ballard (19.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.3 tackles, 4.7 clearance and 3.0 inside 50s) and Rachelle Martin (17.3 disposals, 6.3 tackles, 5.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s), while Zoe Greer (11.0 disposals, 6.3 tackles and 3.7 clearances) adds to that talent with all three making life difficult for opposition onballers. Up forward, Melanie Elsegood is a strong target coming out of full-forward with multiple goals in all three goals, while Zoe Venning is just 16, but has been good rotating up the ground for 18.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 2.7 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s. Throw in Keeley Kustermann (13.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.0 tackles and 3.7 rebounds) off half-back alongside the reliable Helen Maidment and Lauren Rodato and West Adelaide’s defence can be as stringent as its forward line can be potent.

Norwood has been forced to make three changes to its Round 3 side, with Alison Ferrall missing the game due to a wedding, and Rhiannon Busch and Rosette Zeralla both out of the team as well. Kate Fenton is among three changes coming into the Redlegs’ side as they eye off a potential top four spot with a Glenelg loss. While they might be 1-2 from a win-loss perspective, Norwood has some serious top-end talent that has just taken a hit due to the quality of last year’s team which saw players drafted into the AFL Women’s competition. Leading the way for Norwood is Leah Cutting who has been sensational in the ruck and a key reason why the Redlegs are ranked second in the competition for hitout differential. The combination of Matilda Zander (17.7 disposals, 5.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s) – who has recently signed with Collingwood VFL Women’s side – and Bella Smith (8.3 disposals, 3.3 marks and 3.3 inside 50s) through the midfield has been a strong one in the absence of players such as Najwa Allen, Hannah Dunn and Ebony O’Dea who all left to chase their dreams at the elite level. Veteran, Jo Hill continues to be a source of scoring for the Redlegs, booting six goals from three games and will look for that to continue in this game, while versatile utility Mattea Breed (16.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 3.3 clearances, 4.0 inside 50s) has been able to play across all three lines.

The game itself is a hard one to predict, but given West Adelaide’s consistent form – only being overrun by a premiership contender in North Adelaide last week – and Norwood’s inconsistent form, the Bloods start as favourites in the game. Added to the fact the Redlegs have lost a few key players in the game, expect the Bloods to try and dominate the midfield and give their forwards first opportunity at scoring going inside 50.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 14, 7.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The top of the table clash is the most anticipated match of the SANFL Women’s season thus far, with the second placed South Adelaide hosting the top ranked North Adelaide. In what is also a replay of last year’s SANFL Women’s Grand Final, the Panthers and Roosters have overcome some serious outs from the off-season to still lead the pack in the 2020 competition. In Round 1, the Panthers survived a scare against Woodville-West Torrens to win by four points, then got their groove going after that with a 34-point triumph over Sturt and a five-goal victory over Norwood. The Roosters have had a flawless start to the season with a 24-point win over Glenelg in the opening week of the season, then dominated Central District by 54 and clocked up a 21-point win over West Adelaide in another top of the table clash just last week.

Statistically, both these teams are the clear standouts throughout the season, ranked in the top two in most areas. Starting with the Panthers, they are ranked first for disposal, kick and handball differential, and second for disposals, kicks, tackles and clearances. They do not have too many Achilles heels in the side, though despite having the second most tackles, are actually minus four in that differential, ranked sixth overall. It has helped them prepare for fierce defensive pressure from their opposition and being able to withstand it, something that will help the reigning premiers along the way. In terms of inside 50s they rank third, and also rank third for rebounds, with the Panthers more than capable to defend and attack between and inside the arcs. They are ranked fifth in hitout differential, but it has not stopped them being a premier clearance side.

North Adelaide has its fair share of elite qualities, proving that sheer weight of numbers can overwhelm opposition sides. They ranked first in disposals, kicks and marks in a simple, yet effective possession-style game. With a slight deficiency in tackling (134 total, plus five differential ranked eighth and fourth respectively), it is hard not to have one given their ridiculous amount of the ball they collect each week. They will need to improve their hitouts and clearance work, ranked in the bottom three sides for both, with their real strength coming in their inside 50s. The Roosters have pumped the ball inside 89 times (ranked second in the competition) and have a plus 26 in that statistic, eight more than their nearest rival, and nine more than the Panthers. The Roosters are ranked lower in their rebounds, with an equal fifth and sixth ranked respectively for total and differential in the stat. North Adelaide can take advantage with its keepings-off style and dominating play through a kick-mark-inside 50 gameplan, whilst the Panthers will look to handball their way down the field with speed, often straight out of the stoppages.

The home side has been forced to make at least four chances to its winning combination which could play a role in the game. Montana McKinnon got her chance for the Crows last week during the bye and has retained her spot after a strong debut which is great news, but not so much for the Panthers who will miss her presence around the ground. Also out due to work and unavailability are Lucy Northcott and Sophie Flanagan-Sjoberg, while Kelli Nijhuis suffered a knee injury and will miss. A procession of players return to the line-up with seven players named on an extended bench. Those named straight into the side are 17-year-old Brooklyn Kraft who replaces McKinnon in the ruck for Kraft’s first game of 2020 after four last year, and 16-year-old Lauren Clifton who slots into centre half-back after missing the last two games. Much of the talk around South Adelaide has been its impressive youngsters with Teah Charlton averaging a massive 21.3 disposals, 5.3 tackles, 3.7 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s per game, having really picked up in the past two weeks in particular. Indy Tahau is another who has not been overawed averaging 14.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.3 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s – ranked equal fourth in contested marks having taken five already this year. Somehow flying under the radar is South Adelaide’s midfield of Czenya Cavouras (18.3 disposals, 6.7 tackles and 4.3 clearances), Tahlia Meyer (16.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s) and Samantha Pratt (11 disposals, 2.7 marks, 5.3 tackles and 3.0 rebounds) – the latter of whom has been named onball after playing a key role in defence last week.

North’s team selection by comparison is relatively stable with just one player added to the line-up on an extended bench with none yet to come out of the side. Charlea Taylor could potentially make her debut for the red and whites in what is the Roosters’ biggest game of the season. It is hard to fault too much with North Adelaide’s performance this year and many of these players will have fire in the belly after losing to the Panthers in last year’s decider. A win here might not make up for the grand final loss, but it will give them confidence going forward they can stand up in big games against quality opposition. The North Adelaide forward line is an embarrassment of riches, with last year’s leading goalkicker Kelly Barltrop yet to dominate but expected to let loose sometime soon, while the likes of Cristie Castle (18.3 disposals, 5.3 marks and 2.0 inside 50s), Hannah Ewings (12.7 disposals, 3.7 marks, 4.0 tackles and 4.0 inside 50s) and Katelyn Pope (14.0 disposals, 5.5 inside 50s, 2.5 tackles) all troubling opposition defenders, with the latter two roaming up the ground and pumping the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions. The star of the club, if not competition this year so far is Ashleigh Woodland who has been dominating on all fronts on her way to an average of 16.7 disposals, 4.7 marks, 2.7 tackles. 2.3 inside 50s and since going forward, has booted seven goals from an average of 20.5 disposals. Also through the midfield is Leah Tynan (14.3 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s) and Lauren Daniel (18.0 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.3 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s), whilst Amber Ward, Kristi Harvey and Lauren Gauci all sure up the defence to give the Roosters a consistent effort across the ground and ensure the opposition team struggles to kick high scores.

The big difference between the teams is the styles that they adopt and while they both are miles ahead of the rest of the competition in terms of disposals, the Panthers look for the quick handball at a competition-low kick-to-handball ratio of 1.3, compared to North Adelaide’s 1.7, which is still below the competition average, but is considerably higher than their opponents. Given North’s strength going inside, if the Roosters can break even in the clearances, then it gives them a huge advantage over their Southern rivals. If the Panthers get on top in the middle, and can find space around the ground, then it gives their chances a huge boost of coming out on top. An absolute ripping contest awaits.