Tag: Leyla Berry

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Gippsland Power

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at one of the sides to have only played the two games to-date, having been competitive in patches, but still losing both matches, Gippsland Power.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Geelong Falcons by 33 points
R2: Bye
R3: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 52 points

While the season has been cut short for the Power players, their first round loss to Geelong Falcons was brave outside the scoreboard. There were times where the Power was able to sustain the forward thrusts by the 2018 premiers, and have control themselves. A slow start against Sandringham cost the Power, but full credit to them winning the second half of that contest.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Matilda Van Berkel (16.0 disposals, 5.5 marks, 27.5 hitouts, 4.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 2.5 rebounds)

The talented tall was the best Power player across the two games, thrust into the ruck duties due to injuries to other players, and not only did the key position player tick the required boxes, but she thrived. Van Berkel dominated the hitouts with 27.5 per game, and worked hard around the ground to provide a target for her teammates to finish with 16.0 disposals, 5.5 marks, 4.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s and 2.5 rebounds. She was often the link in the chain between defence and offence and the fact the season ended early would be frustrating as she looked like one of the biggest improvers for her top-age season.

Megan Fitzsimon (19.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds, 2 goals)

The sole Gippsland Power AFL Women’s National Academy member, Fitzsimon continued where she left off last season, and was okay in the first round before really taking control in Round 3. She was best afield for the Power in their loss to the Dragons, and in 2020 showed off her defensive pressure (six tackles per game) to go with his ball-winning abilities (19.5 disposals). Fitzsimon has also been able to get the ball forward with four inside 50s per game, as well as get on the end of a couple of majors with two goals to her name.

Grace McRae (15.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 6.5 tackles, 4.0 rebounds, 1 goal)

The tough inside midfielder thrives on the contested side of the game and showed signs in her middle-age last year before taking on a bigger role again in 2020. She averaged the 15.5 disposals and 6.5 tackles per game to kick off the season, and most importantly she works hard defensively to help out her teammates. In two games she averaged four rebounds a game, but also got forward to kick an important goal back in Round 1, which helped keep her team in the game.

Shanara Notman (12.5 disposals, 2.5 marks, 1.0 hitouts, 2.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 3.5 rebounds)

After missing out on being drafted last year, Notman returned to the side as an overager and did not miss a beat, impressing in the opening round and being a terrific interceptor in the defensive 50. Injury curtailed her 2019 season, but did not stop her having a late impact and making the Vic Country squad where she played up the other end as a key forward, who could also float through the ruck. The talented tall was back inside defensive 50 to start the NAB League Girls season this year, where she averaged the 12.5 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.5 rebounds, starring in the opening round of the season.

Leyla Berry (10.0 disposals, 1.0 marks, 6.5 hitouts, 1.0 tackles, 2.5 rebounds)

Having not played since her middle-age year back in 2018, another overager who showed her experience in the early stages of the season was Berry who helped out with the ruck duties. She averaged the 6.5 hitouts, but was often stationed off half-back where she can find the ball and run with it down the field. She gets to the right positions and averaged the 10 disposals and 2.5 rebounds per game as she was the fifth Gippsland Power player to find plenty of the ball in the opening rounds.

Others who have stood out: Holly Booth, Sunday Brisbane, Alexei Guy-Toogood, Lily-Rose Williamson

The Power have a lot of talented youngsters that could fit into this group, some of which have played in previous years and others that are coming through the program and are at NAB League Girls level for the first time. Booth had good experience last year playing six games, but has already doubled her ball-winning ability, playing in the back half of the ground and able to run through the midfield. Brisbane and Guy-Toogood are both smalls who never back down and win the ball with the former running along a wing and the latter deep in defence. Given all three are middle-agers, expect to see them again in 2021 if the rest of the season does not commence. The fourth player to raise is bottom-ager Williamson who shone through the V/Line Cup and was only allowed the one game last year, but is one to keep an eye on in the coming years as a high-potential player through that midfield, who will often come off half-back and use her speed and skill to advantage.

NAB League Girls preview: Round 3 – Undefeated sides clash on Saturday

A COUPLE of undefeated games open the weekend in a top three clash between Northern Knights and Dandenong Stingrays at RMIT Bundoora, before the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels tackle the Western Jets in Ballarat. The Sunday trio of games has a couple of sides searching for their first wins of the season with Calder Cannons and Bendigo Pioneers going head-to-head and Eastern Ranges hosting Tasmania Devils, while Gippsland Power returns from a week off to face the breakeven side of Sandringham Dragons.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 3 – 14/03/2020
11:00am
RMIT University Bundoora

A top three clash between the second placed Dandenong Stingrays and third ranked Northern Knights opens the round with the Stingrays having had impressive wins over Eastern Ranges (50 points) and Calder Cannons (18). The Knights also knocked off the Cannons the week before (six points) before enjoying a more comfortable win over Geelong Falcons (25). Both sides have made a number of changes, with Saige Bayne returning to the side after a long layoff, while Georgia Grimmer and Jemma Radford are also back into the side up opposite ends of the ground. The Knights have also made a number of changes to the side in anticipation for the clash with at least four confirmed changes and an additional three added to the extended bench. Already the head-to-head that could decide the result is between in-form forward, Alyssa Bannan (seven goals) and reliable defender, Zoe Hill inside the Knights’ forward half. An equally eye-catching matchup will be Knights’ co-captain Jess Fitzgerald going head-to-head against Dandenong star, Tyanna Smith with the pair sharing similar skill and footy IQ making it a must-watch clash. Abbey Jordan has been thrown around a bit this season but now the Stingrays captain is in attack to potentially lock the ball in at every opportunity, while Maeve Chaplin‘s ability at half-back should provide some good run. In the midfield, Ellie McKenzie and Ash Snow will provide power onball, while Amber Clarke and Emily Shepherd have added speed to run the ball down the field. The Knights will be favourites but the Stingrays have shown an ability to run the ball and not back down from a challenge.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 3 – 14/03/2020
11:30am
MARS Stadium

In a second game between undefeated sides, fourth placed Western Jets travel to Mars Stadium to meet the sixth placed GWV Rebels from 11.30am. Both these sides have some great young talent coming through and the Jets have had a win against Bendigo Pioneers and a draw with Murray Bushrangers over the first two rounds, whilst the Rebels’ come-from-behind victory against Sandringham Dragons in Round 1 was their only game so far this season following a bye in Round 2. Renee Saulitis proved the get-out-of-jail free card in Round 1 with a couple of last quarter goals to sink the Dragons, and she has been named back in her damaging position inside 50. Fellow AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabella Simmons is also in the forward half, while Maggie Caris will look to take advantage of the height difference over the Jets’ smaller ruck division. Amelia Velardo has the athleticism to get the job done at ground level even if she does not win the tap and provides a “fourth midfielder” around the stoppages. Alongside her is top-age AFL Women’s National Academy member, Isabelle Pritchard who is coming off an impressive 25-disposal game last week, as is Charlotte Baskaran who plays off half-back but can push up the ground to impact the midfield. In the middle of the ground is fellow bottom-ager Montana Ham who has been the Jets’ best across the two games this season. Caitlin Sargent has been a target inside 50 for the Jets, while she will likely have Rebels’ Crystal Summers for company after the defender was a star in Round 1 for the Ballarat-based side. The Rebels’ half-back line is quite strong with Nyakoat Dojiok providing speed and dare out of defence, while Lilli Condon impacts the game through the midfield and up forward. At home the Rebels have an advantage, but both sides have an entertaining brand of end-to-end football.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
12:00pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

With three games on Sunday, the first is a clash between Gippsland Power and Sandringham Dragons at Morwell Recreation Reserve after the game was moved from Churchill. The Power will be well rested after a spirited fight against Geelong Falcons in the opening round and a bye in Round 2. The Dragons on the other hand let slip a real chance in Round 1 with inaccurate kicking to go down to the GWV Rebels, before bouncing back with an impressive win over Bendigo Pioneers last week. Back at home, the Power showed their have a number of strengths through the ruck and in defence, and if they are able to quell the Dragons’ scoring or force them into making mistakes, then they are a real chance of victory. Sandringham impressed last week and have plenty of ball-winning midfielders who step up when required and if they convert their chances inside 50, then they will go a long way to taking home the points in the contest. Matilda Van Berkel was best-on for the Power in their Round 1 win over Geelong Falcons and will look to take advantage against the Dragons. The key for the Power will be to try and win the clearances against an experienced Dragons midfield, as captain Winnie Laing, Alice Burke and Bella Eddey round out a strong starting core. Megan Fitzsimon is the Power’s sole AFL Women’s Academy member, but Grace McRae is another player not afraid of winning contested ball, while Lily-Rose Williamson is a bottom-ager to watch over the coming years. Shanara Notman is a strong overhead mark and will look to chop off any Dragons forward thrusts, while Leyla Berry had a successful return in Round 1 after taking the 2019 season off. Sarah Hartwig has been named on the wing for the second successive week, while Eliza McNamara provides forward pressure inside 50, and key target Abbi Moloney booted three goals in the Dragons win last week and could be one to watch.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
1:00pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve

Calder Cannons hits the road to face Bendigo Pioneers from 1pm at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. Last year’s grand finalists are yet to get a win on the board, but have had a tough draw to open the season, falling to reining premiers Northern Knights, and a vastly improved side, Dandenong Stingrays in the first fortnight. The Pioneers are also yet to taste victory with losses to Western Jets and Sandringham Dragons in the opening couple of rounds. Given the loss of co-captain Brooke Hards for the clash, Bendigo will be up against it taking on a determined Calder side that could well have won its two games had it had a bit more luck. The Pioneers do welcome back Elizabeth Snell into the fold with the midfielder/forward adding some class and skill to the midfield group, while Annabel Strahan has pushed up into the midfield after being a reliable source in the back 50 last week. Tara Slender and Jemma Finning provide good intercept and rebounding capabilities, while Madeline Marks has had an impact through the ruck this season. The Cannons have a strong combination named at the key defensive posts with Kasey Lennox and Tamsin Crook, while Crook is also able to rotate with AFL Women’s National Academy member, Tahlia Gillard who will start forward as both can play at either end. Georgie Prespakis, Laura Cocomello and Jessica Zakkour have all been in good form this season, while Emelia Yassir is a clever forward who can push into that midfield rotation. Calder should breakthrough for its first win, but the Pioneers do have the home ground advantage which counts for something.

EASTERN RANGES v. TASSIE DEVILS

Round 3 – 15/03/2020
1:00pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

At the same time as the Bendigo game, two sides searching for their first win battle it out at the newly renovated Kilsyth Recreation Reserve. The Eastern Ranges will enjoy playing where they train and welcoming the less-familiar Tasmania Devils will give them a huge confidence boost. The Devils were overwhelmed by a rampaging Oakleigh side that could well contend for this year’s NAB League Girls flag in Round 2, marking a tough initiation to their first full-time season. The Ranges had a bye in Round 2 after a 50-point defeat at the hands of another undefeated side in Dandenong Stingrays. Given the experience the Ranges have at the NAB League level – making the finals last season and pushing the Northern Knights in the preliminary finals – they should have the wood over the competition newcomers, though the Devils’ defensive pressure was impressive despite the heavy Round 1 defeat. Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown provide hardness and class in equal measure on the inside, while Jorja Livingstone showed impressive athleticism bursting out of stoppages in the Round 1 loss. Key target, Jess Grace has been named at full-forward, while three players will make their debut in the game for the Ranges. Amy Prokopiec could not have done much more at full-back last week, saving a number of goal-scoring opportunities for the Chargers, and she along with Camilla Taylor provided some composure in the match. Jemma Webster provided some speed out of defence in Round 2, while Kara Hennessy rotated through the ruck and could be a target inside 50 for the Apple Isle based side.

Falcons down Power in strong showing

IN a relatively one-sided affair, Geelong Falcons defeated Gippsland Power by 33 points at RMIT Bundoora in the first round of the NAB League Girls competition. Though inaccuracy plagued the Falcons at times who struggled to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal with 10 behinds, credit must be given to the Power’s defence, for the most part holding up across three quarters. Seven scoring shots to none in the final term extended the winning margin out to 33, but it was a strong hitout for both teams this early in the season.

It did not take long for Geelong to get on the board, and although it was a point at the hands of Renee Tierney it helped to set in motion what was to come – a barrage of scoring opportunities. Poppy Schaap kicked off her 2020 campaign in style with the opening goal for the Falcons and while the Falcons seemed to control the flow of play, over-ager Shanara Notman was a calming influence down back. Notman was everywhere in the first 15 minutes of the game popping up here there and everywhere to stop any forward forays and using her football nous to try and propel the ball back down the field. Despite her best efforts, Notman could not contain the Falcons forwards, with Zoe Garth bobbing up for her first major thanks to her ability to get out the back and bang one through the middle helping to extend Geelong’s lead.

The Power failed to register a score in the opening half, but strong efforts from the likes of Megan Fitzsimon and Matilda Van Berkel did not fall by the wayside. Fitzsimon was a real workhorse across the ground winning plenty of the footy and using her tackling ability to disrupt the flow of Geelong. Although the Falcons had their chances in front of goal they were unable to capitalise and punish their opposition with the likes of Elizabeth Dowling showing her skill inside 50 bringing down a big mark but just missing. Dowling was not afraid to put her body on the line going in hard to rip the ball out of congestion and plough it forward. With points aplenty, Carly Remmos made her set shot count, converting an important goal to add to the Falcons’ tally. Laura Gardiner continued to find her groove with her high intensity out of the middle, hunt for the footy and clean hands all on display. She was never far from the pack, constantly lurking around the footy and using it effectively while her read out of the ruck was second to none getting on the move and banging it forward credit to her skill and general smarts.

With pride on the line, the Power came out with a different intensity and hunger for the footy shutting down any easy ball movement by the Falcons and instead looking to change the course of the game. Only three goals down, Gippsland hit the scoreboard thanks to a big goal from Grace McRae, with players running from everywhere to join in on the celebration. The Power seemed to dominate the play in the third holding the ball inside their attacking 50 and searching for opportunities to create more chances. Leyla Berry was running hot in the third working hard at the contest and using her hands to flick the ball out to teammates. Darcy Moloney continued her merry way for the Falcons throwing her weight around and using her quick hands in tight to dish off to teammates in space. Although Geelong failed to hit the scoreboard throughout the third, the work they did defensively to only limit their opponent to a goal was impressive with bottom ager Ashleigh Van Loon leading from the front with her physicality and desperation with 10 tackles for the match. Mia Van Dyke also had a strong quarter for the Falcons highlighting her clean hands with a couple of marks.

Thanks to a relatively slow third term the Falcons turned it on in the fourth to nail two goals and ultimately seal the deal against a trying Gippsland side. Ingrid Houtsma was the first to add six points to the Falcons total in the final term and while she did not find a heap of the footy she struck it nicely. Gardiner capped off a stellar performance in the last term with a big goal to end the stream of points and well and truly romp the win home for the Falcons. She starred from the opening minute of the game winning a heap of the footy and showcasing her versatility in terms of disposals with an even split of 19 kicks and 19 handballs to finish with a whopping 38 touches. It was a stats filling outing for Gardiner who also showcased her physicality laying 14 tackles and recording five inside 50s. Schaap finished with 1.2 in front of goal along with 24 touches while Moloney recorded 28 disposals. Top performers from Gippsland included Fitzsimon with 16 touches, six tackles and four inside 50s with Berry and McRae collecting 14 possessions apiece.

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 3.5 | 3.5 | 5.10 (40)
GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0,0 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS:

Geelong: P. Schaap, Z. Garth, C. Remmos, I. Houtsma, L. Gardiner.
Gippsland: G. McRae.

BEST:

Geelong: L. Gardiner, D. Moloney, P. Schaap, E. Dowling, M. Van Dyke
Gippsland: M. Van Berkel, S. Notman, G. McRae, M. Fitzsimon, A. Guy-Toogood

DC Medal:

5 – Laura Gardiner (GF)
4 – Darcy Moloney (GF)
3 – Poppy Schaap (GF)
2 – Matilda Van Berkel (GP)
1 – Shanara Notman (GP)

NAB League Girls preview: Round 1 – New talent to shine in opening round of action

NAB League Girls action is back on the agenda this weekend with a grand final rematch among a host of expected tight contests with all sides back on level pegging at 0-0 to start the season and hoping to kick-off their seasons with wins.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. CALDER CANNONS
Saturday, February 29, 10:15am
RMIT University Bundoora

The first game of the round is a fitting opener to the new NAB League Girls season, with Northern Knights hosting Calder Cannons at a refurbished RMIT University ground in the 2019 Grand Final rematch. The Knights had five players drafted last year, with the remainder signed up for state league level football in 2020, while the Cannons just had the two, but had a number of players on the periphery. Both these sides have plenty of talent with the Knights potentially a year ahead in development, finishing runner-up in 2018 before winning last year, while the Cannons made the grand final last season, and will be hoping to build on that this year. The Knights have five players in the National AFL Women’s Academy, led by Ellie McKenzie and last year’s grand final best on ground medallist, Jess Fitzgerald who are both amongst a strong midfield core. Fellow Academy member, Maeve Chaplin is also named onball, while Maykaylah Appleby will run down the wings as the sole middle-age Academy member. Alyssa Bannan is a leading target and strong overhead named at centre half-forward, and a battle with the likes of key backs, Tamsin Crook and Tahlia Gillard – the latter of whom is in the AFL Women’s Academy too will be a match-up to watch. The name that will always catch the eye is Georgie Prespakis, a 2021 draft prospect and sister of Carlton Rising Star, Madison. She is capable of anything and her battle with McKenzie will be intriguing. The Cannons also have some serious depth at their disposal, with Emelia Yassir and Kasey Lennox another couple of youngsters who made their debuts last season and looked at home. With Freda Puruntatameri playing with Palmerston in the NTFL Women’s competition up forward for the Cannons, there is plenty of X-factor there too.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Saturday, February 29, 11:30am
City Oval Ballarat

Up in Ballarat, the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels host the Sandringham Dragons in a battle between two sides who should improve on their 2019 placings. Both sides have a number of AFL Women’s Academy member with the Rebels (five) and the Dragons (three) both having some serious top-end talent. The Rebels have a strong spine with Maggie Caris likely to be the top ruck in the competition this year with her height and tap work causing problems for the opposition. Renee Saulitis has played up forward and down back, but is named in the middle, with her athleticism and ability to sidestep opponents a feature of her game. Along with Isabella Simmons who has also been named through the midfield, all three Academy members are very different and add varied elements to the game style. They will face an equally impressive midfield of Dragons’ captain Winnie Laing, potential St Kilda father-daughter selection, Alice Burke and Bella Eddey who provide a real hard edge to the onball brigade. Sarah Hartwig is one of a couple of premier rebounding defenders, reading the ball in flight so well and able to create a lot of offensive run while nullifying her opponent defensively. Playing at half-forward is Eliza McNamara who is a tackling machine and elite runner, who will work her opponent over, while Abbi Moloney lines up at full-forward to try and clunk a few grabs by outmuscling her opponent one-on-one. The Rebels will look to run the ball out of defence through Nyakoat Dojiok who is a 2021 draft prospect in the Academy, while Chloe Leonard has been named at full-forward for the Rebels who will look to have a spread of goalkickers rather than a dominant target.

GEELONG FALCONS v. GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday, February 29, 12:00pm
RMIT University Bundoora 

After its first finals loss last season, Geelong Falcons return to the NAB League Girls with a hunger to get back to the heights of 2018, starting off the 2020 season with a clash against Gippsland Power. The Power have a lot of players who were able to run out last season and will be more experienced in 2020, so they will no doubt look to push the Falcons who have plenty of young players themselves. Geelong’s duo of Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner will be damaging through the midfield as the Falcons’ two AFL Women’s National Academy members. Joined in the middle by basketballer Carly Remmos, the Falcons have a strong foundation to continue the success of past years. Elizabeth Dowling is a name that will be raised over the next couple of years, and along with Renee Tierney as targets up forward and Poppy Schaap‘s defensive pressure, the Falcons are in a good shape going forward. Mia Van Dyke is one of a number of prospects who have come through the club’s V/Line Cup program and despite being just three days away from being a 2023 draft eligible prospect (only turned 15 in December), she is one of a number who have come through the pathway with some high wraps from the coaching staff. Gippsland has some familiar names in its line-up, led by midfielder and AFL Women’s Academy member, Megan Fitzsimon. She, along with Grace McRae forms a strong midfield duo in there, and will compete strongly for the contested ball. In defence, Shanara Notman returns as a 19-year-old named at centre half-back and will provide some good rebound there, right alongside Leyla Berry who played for the Power back in 2018. On the other flank is a familiar Power name with Yasmin Duursma (sister of Port Adelaide’s Xavier), while when talking about bottom-age talent, Lily-Rose Williamson is one who will be a standout along a win having starred for the club through the V/Line Cup in past years.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS
Saturday, February 29, 12:50pm
Queen Elizabeth Oval 

Turning the attention to Bendigo, the Pioneers host Western Jets in a curtain raiser to the AFL Women’s clash between Richmond and Geelong. Bendigo has the one official AFL Women’s National Academy member in key defender Tara Slender, but have a midfield that will trouble opposition onballers. Brooke Hards and Annabel Strahan have both been named onball and the co-captains will provide a hard-edge to the midfield and be difficult to beat there. Along with Maeve Tupper who has some impressive athletic skills and great goal sense when up forward, the midfield is a strength for the Pioneers. Jemma Finning has been named at half-back to provide some run out of defence with Slender, while up forward, Hannah Stewart is a target inside 50 as a 19-year-old. The Jets have opted to throw rebounding defender, Isabelle Pritchard into the midfield to counteract the Pioneers’ onball and develop her game even further. Along with bottom-age tall, Montana Ham and Nikita Wright in the middle, the Jets have some good height and ball-winning ability in there with upside. A highly rated bottom-ager with Ham is Charlotte Baskaran who is considered elite with her foot skills and decision making, so will be one to watch coming off half-back where she has been named. Both these sides are going to go close to winning in this tight contest with a fair few bottom-agers on show, though Bendigo should be more prepared after their top-agers had consistency through the team as middle-agers last season.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. EASTERN RANGES
Sunday, March 1,  11:00am
Holm Park Recreation Reserve 

In a rewind to 2018, Dandenong Stingrays and Eastern Ranges return to Holm Park in Beaconsfield to open their seasons on Sunday. While both played different opponents on that day two years ago, they will both be hoping for more ideal temperatures than the 37 degrees on that day. The Stingrays are coming off a solid season in 2019. just missing out on finals, while Eastern reached the post-season series and pushed eventual premiers, Northern Knights all the way in the preliminary final clash. The Stingrays’ standout prospect in 2020 is Tyanna Smith, with the AFL Women’s National Academy member having the combination of speed and strength in the middle, which she will use to burst out of the stoppages and create scoring opportunities for her team. Abbey Jordan showed last season she can win the ball through the middle, while young talls, Jaide Anthony and Georgia Grimmer up forward provide a glimpse into the future for the Stingrays having come through the V/Line Cup program. Down back, the ever-reliable Zoe Hill is alongside Jemma Radford, while Serene Vudiniabola comes highly rated as an overager who played school footy last year and is tied to Old Haileybury. Eastern Ranges pack a punch in the midfield as well, with Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown the club’s two AFL Women’s Academy members. With ruck, Jess Grace likely to get first hands to them more often than not, the contested ball-winning Meagher and slick Brown will give their forwards some nice feeds inside 50. Matilda Hardy has been named at half-forward as one to watch, while Mietta Kendall is a reliable source of calmness in the back pocket, and Lily Peacock named as one to watch with her run along the wing.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Sunday, March 1, 1:00pm
Norm Minns Oval 

The final game of the round is another curtain raiser, this time for the Collingwood and Richmond AFL Marsh Series clash at Wangaratta. A big crowd is expected in attendance for the game, with two teams expected to improve in 2020 to battle it out. Murray Bushrangers and Oakleigh Chargers both had some superb performances last season, but had to iron out some consistency issues at times. Both having a number of talents coming through the ranks this season, the Bushrangers had a lot of middle and bottom-agers last season who have progressed through to the next year of their youth careers. The Charges had five players drafted and will be looking to replace them through a team approach. The Chargers have three players in the AFL Women’s National Academy with captain Mimi Hill and middle-ager Charlie Rowbottom named on-ball to rove the work of ruck, Kalarni Kearns. Also in the midfield is Joanna Lin on the wing, working the ball forward to an even front six. The Bushrangers have a two-pronged tall attack with AFL Women’s Academy members, Olivia Barber (top-age) and Ally Morphett (middle-age) rotating between ruck and forward. Abby Favell is a natural ball winner and will rotate between midfield and forward, while Kate Adams is another player who can be slippery around the stoppages and find the goals when inside 50. Keeley Skepper showed last season in the Under 16 Championships that she has a lot of upside, while a number of players on both teams loom as surprise packets in what could be one of the games of the round.

Young Power side set to spark in 2020

GIPPSLAND Power’s “really young” group from 2019 has a year of experience under its belt, with plenty of exciting players coming through the ranks, Female Talent Coordinator Chelsea Caple is excited about what 2020 will bring from a development standpoint. The Power might have only recorded the one win – over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels – in 2019, but the squad which contained a plethora of bottom-age and even 16-year-old talent learned some valuable lessons that will hold them in good stead for the upcoming season.

I think with the experience that all of our bottom ages and our Under 16s were exposed to last year, we had Under 16s playing every single game and they got so nervous and I think now they’ve had that season under their belt, it was a tough season,” Caple said. “They can learn from that and understand that they’ve got now that experience so they can go out and actually show our younger ones how to do it. “

Like any organisation, the Power had tested what training methods got the most out of the players, and once they found the right mix, they were able to excel and build on the momentum over the pre-season. Caple said both the boys and girls testing as one group really pushed every member of the squad.

“We’ve been really excited (with) how our preseason has gone,” Caple said. “We’ve changed it again. “So last season the girls trained twice a week, we brought them in still on a Tuesday night and then they trained with the boys on a Friday. “We though that intensity worked really well; we weren’t able to bring that across to the training once the girls were just by themselves so what we ended up doing is we’re revisiting the program and they actually trained three nights a week. “So Monday, Wednesday, Friday in four different satellites, alongside the boys, integrated within their program so they did their warmup and their hands together, and I think the benefit that we’ve seen from a club perspective but also from fitness testing it was definitely the best decision.”

Gippsland has one AFL Women’s National Academy member in Megan Fitzsimon, who has spent a week with North Melbourne and travelled to Darwin for the Academy’s pre-season training camp. Caple said on-field leadership through through those programs will improve even more, and noted another surprise packet to keep an eye on was Phillip Island’s Grace McRae who has developed at an impressive rate and worked hard to improve her game. McRae initially approached the Power crossing from netball and once she worked out what she had to do switching the round ball for the oblong one, caught the eye and has not rested on her laurels, training with her local boy’s team simultaneously with the Power.

The Power have opted to bring back three 19-year-olds in 2020, with Caple identifying a “two-year gap” with plenty of talent filtering through the bottom-agers, and experience crucial in such a young side.

Shanara Notman‘s coming back on to our list after playing some games with Casey VFL; Leyla Berry, who played with us two years ago, alongside Tyla Hanks had a year off and decided to come back,” Caple said. “And Charlize Bird, so Charlize was one of our top ages last year who had a shoulder reconstruction and just probably didn’t get the most out of her development and as many opportunities as we would have liked her so we’ve been able to bring her back. “We think those three will add a lot of maturity to our program, and hopefully be able to guide the younger girls as well to maintain the standards that we have.”

Notman played in defence for Gippsland last season, returning late in the year after injury saw her miss most of the season. A starring role rebounding off half-back against Calder Cannons in the final round caught the eye and the former basketballer was invited to represent Vic Country at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. There, she played as a forward and showed she could fulfil multiple roles on the field, something that gives the Power a good problem to have.

“I think she’ll (Notman) probably mix both (defence and forward),” Caple said. “I know Scott (Armour, Gippsland Power coach) loved her on the half-back line just because that ability for her to read the play from her basketball background is phenomenal. “But then at the same time we want to be able to talk to VFLW and AFLW clubs and see where they want to see her as well. “We think this is a great opportunity for her to maybe show what she didn’t get to last year being injured but she’s also new to the game as well. “So there’s a lot of learning and education that goes with that. “We’re doing a lot of work with Casey and Melbourne now to make sure that she’s in the right environment and she’s supported from a transition perspective as well.”

While the top-agers will gain much of the focus, there are a couple of Under 16s talents that Caple said will feature throughout the season having very different paths in their footballer journey.

“We’re really excited to have Xavier Duursma‘s little sister Yazzie (Yasmin) Duursma join the squad for the first time, so she’s an ’04 born so under 16,” Caple said. “She is an elite netballer, so she’s coming across, I think she will try and juggle the two at the moment. “But we’re really excited and from what we’ve seen from her testing she’ll make the transition perfectly fine. So that’s really exciting to see.”

Lily-Rose Williamson has won the best on ground in the V-Line for the last three years  and she’s still Under 16,” Caple said. “So she’ll get some more opportunities this year in the Under 18s setting. “We’re really excited about a lot of new ones that we’ve brought into the program that it’ll be their first year in the Under 18 system.”

As for the 2020 focus, it was much the same as every year – development over success. Caple said by developing players to their full potential, it gives them the best opportunity to play at the best level they possibly can, and improving from week to week, rather than focusing on the scoreboard which is what makes the NAB League Girls competition important for the female footballing pathways.

“That measure of success for us is much better than that win to loss ratio, which can be really demoralising at times,” she said. “I think Scott Armour and the rest of the team produced that environment and that culture where the girls can still walk off the field and know that they had fantastic intensity, fantastic pressure. “And so they had little wins in certain elements of the game. “So no doubt Scott will stick to that path. “Hopefully, I can see the girls being competitive, but obviously everyone’s lists are getting bigger and better. “I talked to the other regions and their 04’s are outstanding as well. “So it’ll be a matter of just giving them everything that we’ve got and the best development opportunities for them as people and as footballers.”

Team Selection: TAC Cup Girls- Round 5

WITH round five upon us there have been plenty of changes across the board with the AFLW Academy playing Geelong in a practice match on Tuesday. The Geelong Falcons, Northern Knights and Eastern Ranges will be looking to keep their undefeated record intact while the Western Jets and Dandenong Stingrays will be searching for their first win of the 2018 season. Though many teams have been forced to make changes through losing players to the AFLW Academy, it will allow plenty of new and young talent to shine in the upcoming matches.

WESTERN JETS v. EASTERN RANGES 
Round 5 – Saturday, April 7, 12.15pm
Williamstown Football Ground, Williamstown

The Western Jets and Eastern Ranges are set to kick off the round in Williamstown with the Ranges looking to continue their undefeated run. On the other hand, the Jets will be hoping to notch up their first win of the season, making seven changes to their line-up.

With the likes of co-captain Emerson Woods and fellow midfielder Olivia Meagher out for the match, the Eastern Ranges will be relying on their depth to get them across the line against the Jets. The absence of Ranges defender Abbey Tognazzini and Ashleigh Allsopp will test their strength down back as they are key players for their team, but the inclusion of Sophia Zappia will provide some much needed composure.

For the Jets, the loss of forward Isabella Grant will be hard to replace as she provides some good dash across the field and uses the footy well. Grant was one of seven changes for the Western Jets who have named the likes of Katarina RebuffoEden Cassar, Emily Hannett and Chelsea Jansen to take on the undefeated Eastern Ranges.

Western Jets

B: 29. E. Cassar, 31. K. Rebuffo, 2. C. Gashi
HB: 21. M. Fenech, 30. I. Pritchard, 44. C. Myors-Moore
C: 19. O.  Forsythe, 13. C.  Jansen, 27. P.  Ozols
HF: 3. A. Lowe, 36. J. Goodman, 26. I. Negri
F: 39. C. Saxon-Jones, 41. S. Forbes, 40. S. Whiting
R: 43. C. Greiser, 16. E. Georgostathis, 4. L. Spargo
Int: 22. A. Chivell, 8. E. Gardner, 28. E. Hannett, 12. K. O’Keefe

In: E. Cassar, L. Spargo, C. Jansen, E. Hannett, J. Goodman, S. Forbes, K. Rebuffo
Out: I. Grant, M. Gregory, K. Ratu,  A. Bolt 

Eastern Ranges

B: 17. M. Kendall, 50. S. Zappia, 45. M. Wandin
HB: 37. G. Macpherson, 49. C. Wilson, 48. L. Szigeti
C: 8. C.  Delbridge, 6. G.  De Angelis, 16. E.  Horne
HF: 38. L. McClelland, 36. J. Grace, 41. J. Richardson
F: 42. M. Taverna, 28. L. Kelly, 15. J. Torney
R: 46. S. Kendall, 21. M. Cann, 10. N. Cormack
Int: 19. I. Ball, 9. P. Buruma, 35. B. Cubitt, 51. J. McCormick

In: M. Kendall, N. Cormack , S. Zappia, C. Chamberlain, J. Grace, S. Bowden, T. Merrett, I. Ball
Out: A. Tognazzini, A. Allsopp, O. Meagher, E. Woods

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. GIPPSLAND POWER 
Round 5 – Sunday, April 8, 11am
Epsom Huntly Reserve, Epsom

After a gallant effort last week against the Eastern Ranges, the Bendigo Pioneers will be hoping to bring their impressive form into round five. They were sound in defence but were ultimately outclassed by their undefeated opponents. The Power however fought hard to secure a three-point win against Calder, resulting in minimal changes to the team’s line-up.

The Pioneers go in unchanged after their strong performance last week with the likes of Kate Douglass and Megan Williamson proving their worth with their impressive work across the ground.

On the other hand, Gippsland Power have made five changes, with star midfielders Tyla Hanks and Leyla Berry unavailable for the game. The likes of fellow teammates Jazz Ferguson and Alana Rippon will have to stand up in the contest. The Power have included Charlize Bird, Tahlia Dower and Leila Raymond in their squad for their trip to Epsom.

Bendigo Pioneers

B: 3. C. Isaac, 32. S. Reilly, 14. O. Taverna
HB: 24. E. Gretgrix, 20. K. Douglass, 25. T. Stewart
C: 11. J.  Finning, 28. M.  Williamson, 21. H.  Spencer
HF: 30. B. Heiden, 8. S. Knoll, 26. L. Newton
F: 27. B. Hards, 7. G. Barton, 1. M. Tupper
R: 9. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 19. K. Jacques, 2. M. Baldwin
Int: Unknown. A. Bodilly, 15. T. Goodrem, 5. E. Turnbull

Gippsland Power

B: 2. S. Beaton, 45. L. Van Berkel, 29. C. Bray
HB: 6. E. Haeusler , 65. J. Redmond, 17. S. Trewin
C: 1. E.  Jones, 57. J.  Ferguson, 30. A.  Rippon
HF: 10. T. Dower, 8. C. Abrahams, 12. M. Fitzsimon
F: 4. J. Ross, 60. E. Williams, 27. N. Webber
R: 58. A. Dunn, 13. H. Andrews, 49. M. Shaw
Int: 21. H. Balmer, 47. E. Cornish , 50. M. Van Berkel, 9. T. Whitehead

In: C. Bird, T. Dower, L. Raymond , C. Prestidge, M. Van Berkel
Out: T. Hanks, L. Berry

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 

Round 5 – Sunday, April 8, 12.15pm
Preston City Oval, Preston

With the Knights sitting second on the ladder they will be hoping to continue their red-hot form, even though they have had to ring through the changes. The Northern Knights were forced to make five changes due to the AFLW Academy game taking place. Meanwhile the Oakleigh Chargers have named a huge extended list after losing three players to the Academy game.

The Northern Knights will be set to take on the Chargers without Jessica Fitzgerald, who has been a standout for them throughout the first four rounds. Though the Knights are filled with midfield power with the likes of Maddy Brancatisano and Alyssa Bennett, they will be missing Gabby Newton who is a huge force in the ruck and can make her presence felt all over the ground. The Northern Knights have brought in Sarah Sansonetti who provides a good target up forward.

The Chargers have lost Hannah McLaren, who is a key up forward for them along with Gemma Lagioia, who is so important through the middle of the ground. Both were involved in a head clash in the first quarter of their round four clash against Geelong. The Chargers have their absence covered though, bringing in Katie Lynch, Daisy Bateman and Melanie Bertuna, who are some of Oakleigh’s most dominant players. 

Northern Knights

B: 12. O. Dikranis, 10. P. Chisholm, 20. J. McCarthy
HB: 17. C. Fitzgerald, 27. P. Kearney, 32. A. Snow
C: 6. A.  Bannan, 5. M.  Brancatisano, 2. M.  Jarvis
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 18. S. Sansonetti, 25. T. Mills
F: 1. M. Antypas, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 24. A. Pronesti
R: 4. N. O’Connor, 22. B. Gutknecht, 21. E. McKenzie
Int: 9. M. Chaplin, 30. M. Rodezno, 31. T. Shell, 13. M. Suzuki

In: M. Rodezno, J. McCarthy, A. Snow, M. Chaplin, T. Shell
Out: M. Uwland,  G. Ceravolo,  J. Fitzgerald,  E. Clayton,  G. Newton

Oakleigh Chargers

B: 50. C. Nancarrow, 45. T. Cowan, 5. A. van Oosterwijck
HB: 26. A. Micallef, 39. T. Nichols, 17. N. Xenos
C: 31. K.  Hunter-Scott, 19. E.  Harley, 16. A.  Porter
HF: 29. M. Bertuna, 21. C. Moon, 43. E. Hastie
F: 70. P. Fennell, 38. D. Bateman, 18. I. Gietzmann
R: 11. B. Winbanks, 2. M. Hill, 41. K. Lynch
Int: 33. G. Byrne, 52. L. Harris, 6. T. Johnson, 15. A. Ling, 22. Z. Makris, 69. L. Mayne, 32. C. O’Malley, 51. G. Relph

In: L. Mayne, G. Relph, Z. Makris, D. Bateman, M. Bertuna, A. van Oosterwijck, K. Lynch
Out: E. Jackson, G. Lagioia, H. McLaren

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 

Round 5 – Sunday, April 8, 12.45pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve, Epsom

The Dandenong Stingrays will be looking to notch up their first win of the season against the Greater Western Victorian Rebels (GWV) in Epsom. The Stingrays may be a bit deflated after another loss last week but will be hoping the changes will bring around some good fortune. The Rebels on the other hand will be hoping to get back into the winning books and claim their second victory for the season.

After another loss, Dandenong have not shied away from the changes, making six changes to their line-up. The Stingrays will be without Lauree Metcalfe and defender Courtney Jones who provides some strength down back. In to replace Jones is Jenna George who will have her hands full in defence.

After her short return for the Rebels, classy midfielder Sophie Van De Heuvel will be unavailable for selection leaving it up to the likes of teammates Nyakoat Dojiok and Denver Henson to compete in the midfield. Van De Heuvel is just one of four changes for GWV with Alyssa Humphries and Tess Heath set to come into the side for the likes of Rene Caris and Georgia Clarke. 

Dandenong Stingrays

B: 5. E. Allen-Burns, 51. Z. Hill, 37. J. Lilley
HB: 46. J. George, 35. L. Cripps, 12. M. McDonald
C: 1. S.  Heath, 32. M.  Layfield, 28. T.  Smith
HF: 19. B. Borchard, 31. B. Vernon, 48. A. Carroll
F: 7. L. O’Connell-Webb, 44. S. Ryan, 2. S. Stratton
R: 45. M. Graham, 26. I. Shannon, 20. E. Wilson-Macdonald
Int: 18. S. Bayne, 21. G. Hodder, 10. A. Jordan, 42. A. O’Sullivan

In: A. Carroll, A. Jordan, J. George, S. Bayne, M. Layfield, J. Guy-Toogood
Out: J. Allen,  C. Jones,  R. Clancy – Dillon,  B. Struylaart,  L. Metcalfe

Greater Western Victoria Rebels

B: 6. N. Butler, 26. G. Pidgeon, 19. K. McAloon
HB: 10. H. Simpson, 15. T. Jasper, 14. L. Sykes
C: 27. N.  Dojiok, 21. D.  Henson, 7. A.  McAuliffe
HF: 13. C. Leonard, 28. I. Simmons, 2. R. Saulitis
F: 12. G. Douhadji, 45. A. Humphries, 34. S. Glover
R: 22. I. Rustman, 16. L. Butler, 23. S. Molan
Int: 20. T. Heath, 11. T. Marra, 9. J. McAuliffe , 1. A. Trigg

In: L. Moloney , K. Harris, A. Trigg, A. Humphries, G. Douhadji, T. Heath
Out: G. Clarke, R. Caris, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Caris

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. CALDER CANNONS 

Round 5 – Sunday, April 8, 1.15pm
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

Sandringham will be looking to take advantage of its home ground and secure its third win of the season, while the Calder Cannons will be searching to claim their second victory. The Cannons have named an extended squad with two notable outs for the team, while Sandringham has only made a few changes for the clash on Sunday.

The Dragons have brought in a relatively unchanged line-up after last week’s strong win against the Stingrays. Sarah Hartwig stood up in defence in round four, showing her ability to tackle well and take important grabs. This will be needed again this week as Sandringham will be without Taylah Grasso and Grace Bridges who are key members of the Dragons backline. Meanwhile, Daisy Walker, Margie Purcell and Chloe Saultry have been named in the squad.

The Calder Cannons have made a few changes going into round five with the likes of Madison Prepakis and Georgia Patrikios lost to the AFLW Academy game. Molly Warburton (also in the Academy) will be missed down in in defence for the Cannons as she provides strength and composure. In their extended squad the Cannons have named Makeisha Muller to start at half-forward while Laura Cocomello and Ashton Driscoll are expected to play.

Sandringham Dragons

B: 46. A. Burke, 33. M. Denahy Maloney, 13. D. Walker
HB: 49. L. Amelung, 32. S. Hartwig, 23. C. Bowen
C: 30. E.  Brown, 43. A.  McKay, 5. J.  Tait
HF: 25. I. Eddey, 3. S. Rothfield, 36. J. Owen
F: 31. B. Arnold, 50. H. Bate, 1. M. Wilson
R: 20. A. Dalley, 64. E. McNamara, 2. W. Laing
Int: 56. G. Emberton, 39. M. Purcell, 65. C. Saultry, 60. G. Strangio

In: D. Walker, M. Purcell, C. Saultry
Out: T. Grasso,  G. Bridges

Calder Cannons

B: 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 48. C. Brown, 8. E. Vale
HB: 29. S. Elias, 17. E. Cornish, 35. I. Young
C: 32. T.  Fry , 31. K.  Petrevski, 37. F.  Holloway
HF: 34. Z. Hardiman, 46. G. Elarmaly, 22. M. Muller
F: 25. A. Magri, 49. T. Crook, 15. G. Marsland
R: 18. C. Rendelmann, 11. A. Barba, 23. G. Dicker
Int: 38. L. Cocomello, 4. T. Cook, 39. A. Driscoll, 2. F. Theodore

In: L. Cocomello, K. Sutton, G. Elarmaly, M. Muller, C. Macumber, A. Driscoll
Out: M. Warburton, G. Patrikios, M. Prespakis

 

GEELONG FALCONS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 

Round 5 – Sunday, April 8, 2.30pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve, Epsom

The final game of the round could shape up to be one of the best spectacles for round five, as both teams will be evenly poised with quality players being absent for both teams. With huge outs in the midfield such as Rebecca Webster for the Bushrangers and Olivia Purcell for the Falcons, it will be a battle to see who can win the contested ball.

The Murray Bushrangers have been forced to make six changes to their line-up, losing star midfielder Rebecca Webster and Eloise Ashley-Cooper, who is important across the ground for the Bushrangers. Millie Brown will also be a big loss to Murray as she provides a good target up forward. But the Bushrangers have brought in the likes of Kate Adams to fill the void of Ashley-Cooper and Mikayla Jones up forward for Millie Brown.

For the Falcons they have brought in Mia Skinner to help provide a target up forward. It will be hard to replace the class of Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison in and around the contest, who provide clean hands around the footy and use the ball well.

Geelong Falcons

B: 15. J. Devarakonda, 37. A. Chapman, 22. K. Haustorfer
HB: 38. S. Dinneen, 35. S. Hungerford, 33. M. Sheppard
C: 2. E.  Vella, 11. L.  Lesosky-Hay, 36. S.  Walmsley
HF: 10. S. Atkins, 42. S. DeGiacomi, 27. M. Skinner
F: 31. S. Milsome, 39. R. Tierney, 4. B. Thompson
R: 34. Z. Inei, 20. T. Love, 6. P. Sheppard
Int: 48. E. Allan, 16. L. Gardiner, 46. E. Lawson, 21. D. Smith

In: M. Holdsworth, B. Thompson, M. Sherman, D. Smith, P. Sheppard, L. Gardiner, M. Skinner
Out: N. Morrison,  L. McEvoy,  D. Taylor,  O. Purcell

Murray Bushrangers

B: 26. E. Nicholson, 39. H. Doohan, 32. N. Watts
HB: 6. K. Adams, 23. E. Hibble, 24. Z. Spencer
C: 44. M.  Eze, 1. J.  Harvey, 33. M.  Trethowan
HF: 11. A. Chessor, 8. O. Hall, 36. C. Mckimmie
F: 40. M. Cook, 42. G. Egan, 35. M. Jones
R: 37. S. Damon, 22. T. Smith, 4. C. Knight
Int: 13. E. Balaburov, 25. E. Freeman, 31. S. Locke, 34. E. McPherson

In: K. Adams, S. Locke, E. Balaburov, H. Doohan, Z. Spencer, M. Jones
Out: O. Barber, C. Hargreaves, P. Crelley, E. Ashley-Cooper, R. Webster, M. Brown

Scouting notes: TAC Cup Girls – Round 2

THE TAC Cup Girls competition continued to produce many highlights across round two, headlined by Gippsland Power securing its first TAC Cup Girls victory. Round two also produced a new ladder-leader, as the Northern Knights sealed top spot with a big win over the Cannons. The Knights join Geelong, Murray and the Eastern Ranges, who are all undefeated after two rounds of an exciting 2018 season. 

Eastern Ranges vs. Dandenong Stingrays

Eastern:

#3 Emerson Woods

Had a quiet start to the game, but was one of the better Ranges players in the second half. Her first clear possession in the second half was a handball out of congestion to a teammate in space on the outside. She continued to win plenty of contested possessions in close and executed some crucial handballs to the outside. Started to stand out in the second half and took a good mark outside 50 and played on quickly to kick long.

#26 Tarni Brown

One of Eastern’s better players at times, it is just getting her consistency through matches built up. She was impressive with good speed, acceleration, agility, footy smarts and defensive pressure. She has that touch of class, and does the defensive things right as well. You get that sense she has a lot of natural football ability and it is just a case of getting more miles in the legs and thus consistency will come because the talent is there.

#37 Georgia Macpherson

If stats were recorded she would go close to breaking the marks and intercept marks record. Just does not drop anything and rebounds anything in her vicinity. The opposition began trying to avoid kicking it anywhere near her because of her consistency overhead and her drive out of defence. She is a powerful kick who more often than not hits her target and pushes up the ground too which helps with her team’s forward press. So smart and composed under pressure, put together another four-quarter performance.

#38 Laura McClelland

The dominant forward of the day, she booted three majors in the first half and could have had five. She found space well inside the forward 50, took some strong marks overhead and was a powerful set shot. McClelland showed off her versatility by snapping a goal to go with her set shots. Also provided defensive pressure when out of position and showed good strength on one occasion to fend off a would-be tackler.

#46 Sarah Kendall

One of Eastern’s best across the four quarters, played predominantly ruck but covered the ground really well. For a taller player she moves well and this helps her get in the best position in the ruck contests, forcing her way to the front. She won possessions in each third of the ground and when down forward, she presented well leading out. She took a really strong contested mark on the wing in the fourth quarter and just had that presence throughout the game to back-up from another strong day out.

Others:

#6 Gabriella De Angelis: Was composed inside 50 under pressure and weighted her kicks well.

#10 Nicole Cormack: Showed good vision in transition when she marked and weighted a perfectly timed pass to Tarni Brown inside 50.

#21 Mikala Cann: She has that lightning few steps out of a stoppage which can burn off her opponent, but also does all the defensive things right as well with some fierce tackling. She had a couple of snaps and kicked a major on the three quarter time siren. Still building to put in a four-quarter performance, but she has some eye-catching moments at times.

#39 Olivia Meagher: Only turned 15 a few months ago, but she is one to watch over the coming years. She rushed her shots on goal a bit, but laid some bone-crunching tackles – including one on Lucinda Cripps – to lock the ball inside 50. She has great acceleration inside 50 and strength, breaking a tackle, but she sprayed the shot. Would have been in the top couple on the ground had she finished the few shots off.

#40 Tahlia Merrett: Played up forward and rotated through the ruck with Sarah Kendall. Merrett is a strong mark of the football, kicked a couple of goals early and seemed a reliable set shot. She also worked well at ground level so the bottom-age player showed some good signs on the weekend.

#47 Jess Provan: Took a great contested mark in front in the third quarter, but missed the goal attempt. Found space later on and took a good mark, so was providing a target up forward.

#48 Lauren Szigeti: Took a few contested marks in the first quarter and was a rock in defence. She fended off an opponent in the third term charging out of the defensive 50 and cleared the ball inside her team’s own forward arc with a lovely kick inside 50 to Olivia Meagher.

#49 Charlotte Wilson: Had a great highlight with a strong intercept mark and kicked it clear from defence.

 

Dandenong:

#1 Shelley Heath

Heath had a quiet first quarter before working more into the game after quarter time. She did not have as much time and space as last week, so used her high work ethic and running ability to work harder to get into space. She peeled off her opponent a couple of times and managed to get free to be an option on the wing. An accurate kick of the football, Heath backs herself when heading towards goal and has some quick first few steps out of a stoppage. Had a great smother in the final term, then laid a tackle backing up, to lock the ball up.

#15 Jordyn Allen

Like many teammates, the first quarter or so, Allen was not as influential as the week before.. But by the time she walked off the ground at the end of the game, Allen was one of the better players on the ground. Early on her defensive work was top, laying some important tackles and when she did have the ball, she was composed. It was the second half where she began to have a huge influence on the game. With the game slipping away, Allen played on from a kick-out, booted it to a teammate outside 50, received the handball from that teammate and kicked to half-forward. What showed her smarts was rather than just bombing long to a predictable area, Allen saw Georgia Macpherson ahead who had taken a multitude of intercept marks. So Allen readjusted her running and kicked to the other flank, using it as another avenue to goal. She did that a couple of times, using her fantastic penetrating kick to find targets up forward and just worked hard throughout the game. A high football IQ.

#26 Isabella Shannon

One of the Stingrays best early on, she stood up in the first half. She showed good speed out of the stoppage and tried to make something out of nothing charging through a few opponents. Unfortunately for her she was brought down and got pinged for holding the ball. She kicked the Stingrays’ first goal courtesy of a 50m penalty, but worked in tandem with Heath through the midfield and used it well by foot. Had a quieter second half, but still did some nice things.

#35 Lucinda Cripps

Like many of her teammates, Cripps had a quieter first half and worked into it in the second half. She was caught a couple of times with quicker forwards opposing her, but she continually tried to repel attacks out of the back 50. The biggest attribute to notice with Cripps is her ability to stay calm under pressure and never take her eyes off the contest. She took a huge back-with-the-flight mark in the final term putting her body on the line to stop a forward througst. She also used her strength to fend off opponents and had a big final term.

#44 Samantha Ryan

The tall forward was one the Stingrays’ best across the four quarters, because she did everything you could ask of a forward – she led, presented, took grabs and provided defensive pressure. Early on she was taking plenty of marks inside 50 and just got the better of her opponent on the lead. She laid a great hip and shoulder on Sarah Kendall in the second quarter, and was always buzzing around the forward 50.

Others:

#4 Jess Guy-Toogood: Has nice skills which she showed with ball in hand, moving in transition from the midfield to the forward 50.

#18 Saige Bayne: Still only 15 years-old and popping up with some good highlights through the match. She goes in hard to the contest and is able to hit targets when looking forward with good vision.

#20 Eliza Wilson-Macdonald: Came into the side this week and played on the inside with some great defensive efforts. She worked hard throughout the game and nearly all of her touches were under pressure. The left-footer spun out of a contest to get the ball forward at one stage, and later on won a one-on-one contest against Mikala Cann to get the ball clear, so some good signs.

#28 Tyanna Smith: Another 15 year-old who has a superb first touch. In one instance there was a high bouncing ball in the middle of the ground, and Smith took it cleanly, ran forward and produced a lace-out kick to Samantha Ryan leading out.

#55 Harmony Thomas: Looks dangerous at times given she is strong overhead and finds space, just needs to nail her shots on goal for a more complete performance.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

Sandringham:

#2 Winnie Laing

Laing started in defence and was quiet, but moved into the midfield later in the second term and began to build. Her second half was as good as anyone else on the ground, and to start the third term, she won about five disposals in just a few minutes. She is a tough inside midfielder who constantly hit the packs hard and once moving back to the back-line in the fourth quarter, had moved into more ball-winning positions. She moved up the ground and peeled off her opponent more to impact the contest. Laing showed off some top acceleration in the final term, taking a shot on goal after bursting away from an opponent, but the shot just went wide.

#30 Eleanor Brown

She was super impressive throughout the first three quarters off half-back. She has a long raking kick and her bodywork was great. She not only won the hardball, but backed herself in and took the opposition on coming out of defence. She teamed up well with Winnie Laing and Sarah Hartwig to provide plenty of drive out of the back 50. She linked up in transition with her midfield and while she did not see as much of it later when Sandringham had it up the other end, she was still an important contributor when required.

#32 Sarah Hartwig

In the end, probably best on the ground in my eyes. She played a pivotal role off half-back, taking some crucial intercept marks and providing plenty of rebound. Had a huge run-down tackle on Jasmine D’Amato saving a potential goal in the first half, and was really composed with ball in hand, executing the quick-fire handball when required. Hartwig showed her speed on the lead when she made up ground to spoil an opponent, and also worked her way to a contest in the third term to kill off a ball and put it out of bounds for a stoppage. Her best effort came in the third term when she won a on-on-one at ground level and executed a clean handpass to a teammate who was running by. Had she lost the one-on-one, the Dragons back 50 would have opened up and Oakleigh kicked a major. She took a great contested mark in the fourth quarter and used her good foot skills and agility to sidestep an opponent.

#43 Abbie McKay

Carlton fans will no doubt be keen to keep track of Abbie – daughter of Andrew – and on the weekend she was quite impressive. Just had some little moments of brilliance as she played inside and was quick with her hands in close, and had some good strength and power to burst from a stoppage. She worked her way to the front in a marking contest after initially being out of position, and earned herself a free kick.

#64 Eliza McNamara

Still a few years off being top-age, but McNamara is certainly a talented junior. She has a good mix of offensive and defensive traits, and has both the ability to impact a contest on the inside or outside. McNamara went in hard on one instant, won the ball, sprinted away and kicked a goal from just inside 50. People talk about levels of ability and I think her best is very high level and the fact she has a couple of years still left in her development, she will be a very exciting prospect come 2020.

Others:

#3 Sophia Rothfield: A clean midfielder who has a good first touch off the deck and is able to hit targets going forward. She showed some strong hands when marking inside 50 and almost kicked a goal in the third term before it was smothered, but a moment later she snapped truly and earned the six-pointer.

#5 Jasmine Tait: Top-age player with a fair bit of pace. She stopped Gemma Lagioia in her tracks early with a great tackle, and she was winning her fair share of the ball through the midfield. Did not do too much wrong and seemed to be a smart and clean user by hand or foot particularly in tight, handballing clear.

#11 Taylah Tysoe: Showed some electrifying dash off a wing going forward in transition.

#13 Daisy Walker: A clean user with ball in hand, Walker was impressive off half-back and composed under pressure. She also provided plenty of defensive pressure on the ball carrier to unsettle them going forward.

#20 Alanna Dalley: The tall ruck held her own against Bridie Winbanks and showed some good bodywork. She did well to protect the ball on the occasions she took it clean out of the ruck, providing a block on her opponent to allow her teammates some extra space.

#31 Bryanna Arnold: Had an amazing highlight when she kicked a goal later in the game. Her long booming kick inside 50 was reminiscent of Leigh Brown’s bouncer against Geelong in the preliminary final, when it looked to have missed the goals entirely with a defender chasing it, then it took a right angle turn to bounce back into the goals.

#33 Molly Denahy Maloney: Presented up forward and kicked a great goal on the run in the second term.

#46 Jemma Owen: The Dragons captain showed off a penetrating kick and ability to hit targets inside 50 with a perfect pass to Isabella Stutt late in the game. When up forward she was rewarded for a great lead, marking the ball through a desperate dive. Unfortunately for Owen, her shot went wide.

#46 Alice Burke: Read the opposition taps perfectly and has some serious wheels sprinting away from the contest. In another instant she showed her strength by stealing the ball out of an opponents’ hands and clearing it from the coal face.

#49 Laura Amelung: Another Dragons defender who provided good run off half-back and showed composure under pressure. She took a good contested mark early despite being undersized in the one-on-one, and also looked dangerous when forward, taking a good mark on the ground in the final term but her shot went wide.

#50 Holly Bate: Just a clever forward who managed to goal from a snap off a second’s notive in the second term. She did it again in the third term, casually picking it off the deck and kicking a goal off a step to hand her goal number two. She also laid a bone-crunching tackle on Charlotte Moon late in the game.

#53 Isabella Stutt: Presented as a dangerous forward option, just could not finish off her hard work. Took a great mark but her shot hit the post, and another snap from a stoppage just missed, but she showed some impressive signs.

 

Oakleigh:

#3 Jasmine D’Amato

Showed signs last round, but stepped up her game this week I felt because she was crucial coming out of defence and through the midfield. She wins the ball both inside and out, has clean disposal and does not panic. By the end of the day I felt she was in Oakleigh’s top couple of players because of her ability to keep a level head while Sandringham was applying the pressure. One notable attribute she had was her ability to break through tackles and still remain balanced while kicking. She had a huge last quarter off half-back.

#14 Hannah McLaren

Started like a house on fire and was just consistent throughout the game. McLaren started in the midfield and worked her way to half-back where she held up well charging out of defence. She even had a shot on goal after fending off an opponent at half-back and kicking long, but it was stopped on the goal line. She took a huge contested mark at full-back and just continually repelled the Dragons attacks. She played up the ground at times and kicked the ball well inside 50, but went a little quiet later in the game when Sandringham was in control.

#17 Nicola Xenos

A player I thought had a number of good moments, particularly after quarter time. She won the ball along the wing and had the smarts to dispose of it quickly when under pressure. She laid a goal-saving smother and added great tackling pressure in defence. Her last quarter was outstanding, linking up with Jasmine D’Amato coming out of the back 50, and provided good drive to help the Chargers stem some of the Dragons’ flow inside their attacking zone.

#32 Chloe O’Malley

O’Malley just had a really consistent four-quarter effort. She won plenty of the ball early when the game was hot, and she worked hard in transition through the midfield. She continued to work throughout the match and while others might have stood out at times with their zip, O’Malley was just a workhorse through the centre of the ground and one of the better Chargers on the day.

#30 Gemma Lagioia

Another top performance from Lagioia, backing up her round one efforts. She certainly stands out with her cleanness and athletic ability. She has the smarts to win her own ball or receive it on the outside, and a strong athletic profile which sees her use her agility and acceleration to dance around opponents. She also has the tendency to release teammates with quick fire handballs when she is under pressure, waiting for the precise moment to give it off. She took a great mark in the first half and spun out of traffic to kick long to the goal square. Lagioia is a smooth mover who managed to juggle a mark in front of her opponent keeping it away so her defender could not spoil the ball. I stand by my rare use of the word “elite” when discussing her foot skills.

Others:

#2 Mimi Hill: Really good hands in close, got plenty of touches early and just fired out handballs left, right and centre to teammates to keep the play moving. One of Oakleigh’s best in the first half, covering great ground across the field. Did quieten towards the end, but still a solid performance.

#11 Bridie Winbanks: Had a huge battle in the ruck and at the very least broke even. Uses her strong frame well and has a penetrating kick. Hits targets more often than not, and found Gemma Lagioia leading out from the goal square with a dart pass.

#19 Emily Harley: Had a quiet first half, but stepped up after the main break. She was playing forward after her stint in defence in round one, and did a few nice things. Harley had the smarts to kick along the ground in the fourth term rather than pick up the ball and be caught holding it. She laid her own run down tackle in third term, and crashed through a few packs. Did give away a few frees but her intent was good.

#21 Charlotte Moon: Won a crucial one-on-one against Eliza McNamara late in the game and buzzed around the contest.

#38 Daisy Bateman: Was not allowed the same time and space as round one and had her work cut out for her against the strong Dragons defence. She still managed to snare a few overhead marks and has that penetrating kick for goal. Earned a free kick after a strong tackle, but missed the shot on the three quarter time sirem.

#43 Emily Hastie: Had a few good highlights throughout, showing her strength in the air. Laid a tough tackle after dropping the mark, showing her second efforts.

#52 Lily Harris: Laid a huge tackle to win a holding-the-ball free on a tight angle in the pocket, just unfortunately missed the shot to capitalise on her defensive effort.

#68 Allysha Dyer: The overager used her frame well to win contested ball around the stoppages. She played at full-forward and therefore did not see a heap of action, but played her part when she got involved.

 

Western Jets vs. Gippsland Power

Western:

#14 Isabella Grant

Given the Power’s dominance early, Grant was quiet. But after quarter time you could see the influence she can have when up and about. While she did not dominate in the forward 50 arc, her running power to get up the ground and crash packs or win the ball at ground level on the wing and release a teammate, was clear. She is so strong in the tackle and gets her arms free, with the unique ability to stand up in a tackle and fire out a handball to keep the play moving in transition. Grant was a player constantly watched by the opposition, and while she did not have the game on her terms, she found a way to still help influence the match through her teammates.

#16 Elizabeth Georgiostathis

A hard nut inside midfielder who also has outside pace. Still a bottom-ager, Georgiostathis is strong and powerful, but showed some toe when she tucked the ball under her arm, took a few bounces and used the space along the wing to kick forward. Later on, she took on a couple of opponents, backed herself and kicked cleanly under pressure. Took a good intercept mark late just inside 50 but just missed the target. Overall she was a standout through the midfield.

#19 Olivia Forsythe

One of the Jets’ best midfielders with Elizabeth Georgiostathis, winning plenty of ball at the coal face. She continually applied the pressure through the midfield, laying a multitude of tackles and earned herself free kicks, including one that saw her force an opponent to kick the ball out on the full. Forsythe showed off her strength in the air, taking a strong contested mark about 30m out under pressure, and kicked a vital goal for the Jets.

#30 Isabella Pritchard

The 16 year-old might be two and a half years away from being draft-eligible, but she is already standing out down back for the Jets. She is strong overhead, backs herself in and puts on pressure against the Power forwards. Pritchard has a penetrating kick that is reliable coming out of the back 50, and is also not rushed when under pressure. She executed a handball off the deck to a teammate without fuss and just generally stood up against the onslaught when the power were taking control.

#31 Katrina Rebuffo

Rebuffo teamed up well with Pritchard in defence and after initially being flooded with inside 50s in the first term, shored up the defensive team and made a number of one percenters. She dove across the goal line in the second term to save a potential Tyla Hanks goal. After half-time, Rebuffo began impacting offensively, running off half-back and charging out of defence. She became one of the better Jets across the game and produced a crucial goal-saving tackle late. One of the big reasons the Power did not kick a goal after quarter time.

Others:

#2 Caitlin Gashi: Showed good agility and speed around the stoppages, one of the best Western Jets early. Was clean with her possessions in close or on the outside.

#4 Leah Spargo: Great defensive efforts, laid a huge tackle to stop a rebound and had the quick thinking to move the ball on quickly.

#6 Laura Wright: Laid a huge tackle on Tyla Hanks in the opening minute of the third term, and continued to apply plenty of defensive pressure to the opposition, winning a number of frees through holding the ball or getting the pill first.

#8 Emily Gardner: A clean user of the ball, won a free kick for a great tackle, but missed the set shot.

#21 Maddison-Eve Fenech: Went in hard from start to finish laying a number of bone-crunching tackles in defence. Made her opponents earn every touch and never stopped fighting for her side.

#25 Taylah Kolevski: Played in the ruck and covered the ground really well.

#26 Isabella Negri: Has a unique combination of speed and power. Fended off a number of players under pressure and then used her jets to burst away and kick forward.

#27 Payton-Ani Ozlos: Tough customer who loves the physical side, laying a number of huge tackles.

#39 Cleo Saxon-Jones: Kicked an opportunistic goal in the square, with smart thinking to be in the right place at the right time. She kicked her second goal in the second quarter with another good snap and looked to be the Jets’ most damaging forward in the first half.

#40 Sharnie Whiting: A powerful kick of the football and strong overhead. Fended off an opponent when running with the pill.

#43 Caitlyn Greiser: A powerful player with a great turning circle. Took the mark just inside 50 and turned her opponent inside out to get onto her preferred side to kick to the danger area inside 50.

 

Gippsland:

#6 Emily Hauesler

Hauesler played out of defence and the role really suited her considering her strengths of disposal and defensive pressure. She was clean by hand or foot, provided some great dash off half-back and had excellent vision and a low, penetrating kick. I thought she was the next best behind Tyla Hanks because of the drive and rebound she gave her side. She also applied great tackling pressure, and helped direct the defence.

#27 Nikia Webber

Another player who stood out for Gippsland, covering the ground well, but mostly playing as a damaging forward. She kicked one of the goals of the day in the first term with a snap from the pocket and then backed it up with a second goal on the run. She took a huge mark overhead and showed off her good vertical leap. Webber just looked to be getting into dangerous areas and also has the strength to go with it, fending off opponents at times, and winning the contested ball. Her work ethic was obvious when she took a mark in the centre square, the kick was smothered but she backed it up and won the hard ball to have a second chance and kick it forward.

#28 Tyla Hanks

Another polished performance from Hanks who looked like she enjoyed the freedom of some time up forward early. She booted two goals and almost had a third if it had not been smothered on the line. It was just a typical performance many fans have come to expect from her, winning contested ball, winning clearances and then getting to the outside and hurting teams in transition. She reads the play so well that she runs off her opponents at stoppages and can be found in space, which is how she kicked her first goal. Later on in the match she was also providing some run out of half-back when the game was slowing down. Copped a knee to the back in a marking contest but got back up and took the free. Hanks probably suffered leather poisoning from the match and you would be forgiven for thinking she brought her own football.

#30 Leyla Berry

Last week she worked into the match in the second half and it seemed she kept the momentum going this week. I thought she was one of the best Power players, winning the ball in close and applying plenty of defensive pressure. She laid a huge tackle in the third term, but was unlucky to be pinged for in the back. She stepped up to another level in the second half, winning plenty of the football and being impressive in close, as well as on the outside. A really promising performance.

#57 Jazz Ferguson

Another top Power player who I ranked behind Hanks and Haeusler such was her impact on the game. She played through the ruck and also up forward, creating a highlight in the first term with her goal. She fended off an opponent and continued to run, kicking a goal and getting the crowd up and about. She really got amongst it early, winning hitouts and covering the ground well for a taller player. Built on her first round performance and seemed settled in the second round.

Others:

#2 Samara Beaton: After a quieter first half, Beaton really began to get involved in the second half, laying a great smother and getting amongst it.

#4 Jennifer Ross: The overager played her role in the forward line, taking a good intercept mark in the pocket.

#8 Chandra Abrahams: Still quite young but there’s talent there, seems to have a fair bit of footy smarts. Just a couple of times I noticed she had the IQ to tap the ball on or have a deft touch to a teammate which would not have been recorded as a disposal, but still clever. Playing up forward but would not be surprised to see her develop into a tall midfielder down the track.

#12 Megan Fitzsimon: Spread really well from the stoppages and has a thumping kick on her. She penetrated through the opposition defence on one occasion, pumping it deep into the danger zone.

#58 Amy Dunn: Had an influence up forward and assisted Ferguson in the ruck. She looked to be a damaging forward with the way she lead into space and took some strong contested marks. She also set up her teammates and provided a real target down forward, particularly in the second quarter. Unfortunately the wind stopped her from adding a few majors to her day.

#65 Julia Redmond: Liked her game down back, she was a rock on the last line and just did everything right defensively. She broke two tackles deep in defence and backed herself to bomb to safety. She also took a couple of huge marks to save potential goals when the game was on the line.

 

Calder Cannons vs. Northern Knights 

By Julia Montesano 

Calder: 

#3 Madison Prespakis:

Had an electric start to the game and was probably the standout in the first quarter. She was able to penetrate the ball forward with ease, even in the midst of a strong tackle or getting chased down by the Knights midfielders. The Calder captain took everything that came her way- you could see she was being targetted by the Knights players. Prespakis was a ball magnet and did all the little things to help her team out as they struggled through the contest. In one instance, she followed up in the ball when it was in a tiny hole of space, picked it up cleanly, trapped the ball and side-stepped her opponent when she began to move the ball forward. She is such a strong player. 

#9 Molly Warburton: 

Warburton put in the hard yards for the Cannons in defence. In a young back-line, she brought a steady hand to the defensive line-up, and was able to slow the ball down and act composed when the Knights quickly burst forward. The defender displayed some great second efforts, which was really useful in a game where Calder did not give up, despite the Knights’ constant pressure. She will be one of Calder’s best on-field leaders as the season progresses.

#29 Stephanie Elias:

She was very brave on the last line of defence. The Knights forwards did not stop attacking all day, but she held herself with composure when the ball reached her. Elias took some great marks and also laid some wonderful tackles. In one instance, she laid a strong, goal-saving tackle just before the goal-line, and cleared the ball out with a booming kick when she received a free kick for holding the ball. She is only a small player but she is very skilful, and without her, the margin could have been much worse for the Cannons.  

#23 Grace Dicker:

Grace Dicker was one of the fastest players out there. She was able to use her acceleration to her advantage multiple times, especially when running away from opponents. She was particularly influential on the wing, where she was able to use the space to burst free from any pressure from her opponent trying to chase her down. Dicker also impressed with some great run-down tackles, showing that she could utilise her speed both in offence and in defence.

#21 Georgia Patrikios:

Patrikios showed composure with the ball in hand and her football skills looked a class above. She uses the ball incredibly well and has quick hands. Patrikios was able to bring her teammates into the game thanks to her footy smarts and unselfish attitude with the ball in hand. She is a good reader of the footy, and can accelerate well when she gets her hands on it. She also laid some aggressive tackles, which is an element of her game that she continues to improve on, and will hold her in good stead for the rest of the year. 

 

Northern:

#7: Abigail Bennett

Bennett consistently displayed quick and clean hands throughout the contest at RAMS Arena. She was always able to spot up a target, thanks to her wonderful peripheral vision. Bennett would often find the ball in congestion and pick it up cleanly – a skill which really highlighted her footy smarts. She was able to get on the scoreboard herself when she read the ball brilliantly off the contest to snap it through for a goal. Bennett was everywhere on the day, and is proving to be a very important player for the Knights. 

#23: Gabby Newton

Gabby Newton was a huge force in the ruck, winning almost every hit-out. She managed to do this against one of the best rucks in the competition in Calder’s Carla Rendelmann. Newton’s impact was not just felt in the ruck though, as her impact was felt with strong marks, aggressive tackles and clean hands. In one instance, she won a two-on-one convincingly, which showed not only her strength, but also her smarts. 

#14 Jess Fitzgerald

Jess Fitzgerald caught my eye when she burst through the middle of the ground in Paddy Dow fashion to boot the ball forward. She is definitely an impact player, highlighted by a perfect tackling technique where she wraps both arms strongly around her opponent, leaving them nowhere to go. I was super impressed by Fitzgerald’s ability to get and go because it showed that she has confidence in herself to make the right choice with the ball in hand. She was in everything and when the she got the ball in hand, she could not be stopped. 

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Provided a fantastic target for the Knights inside 50. Bannan has really strong hands and can work up the 50 really well. She was able to kick two goals on the day, and was involved in plenty of scores. What stood out to me was her second efforts. In one instance, her kick was smothered but she had the awareness and reflexes to pick the ball up off the ricochet and boot it forward – a class act. I thought her third quarter was really influential, as she started to impose on the contest with her marking prowess and proactivity in front of goal. 

#3 Nell Morris-Dalton

Nell Morris-Dalton was the strongest player out there. In one instance, she broke away from a contest with two players tackling her. She was able to penetrate the ball forward magnificently, as her kick was not only long and booming, but it consistently found space for the Knights forwards to run into. This was crucial, as most of Northern’s goals were from players running into goal, or picking up and snapping the ball inside 50. Morris-Dalton looked like an on-field leader for the Knights, and showed poise with the ball in hand. 

Others: 

#5 Maddy Brancatisano: Simply brilliant in the midfield. Was in and under every contest and continued to push hard for the Knights despite their comfortable lead. A fantastic leader for the club. 

#22 Britney Gutknecht: Her strong kick helped the Knights continue to pile the pressure onto the Cannons. In the third quarter, she delivered a magnificent kick onto the chest of Alyssa Bannan in the forward line, then burst forward to follow up the kick, as Bannan elected not to go for goal. She not only knows her own game well, but she also has knowledge about the way her teammates play. 

#17 Ciara Fitzgerald: Good marking and composed kicking from Fitzgerald. Was able to deliver a great centering kick into the forward line in the third quarter, and continued to step up her game in the fourth.

#37 Faith Holloway: She is the personification of speed and endurance combined. Holloway highlighted this through a great run-down tackle in the first quarter, in which she accelerated hard and fast to win a free kick. 

#24 Alex Pronesti: Pronesti is such an aggressive player, making her a really dangerous target up forward. But once she gets the ball in hand, she is very composed and uses it well. This was highlighted when she kicked her second goal of the day, as she was able to gather herself and run into goal while being surrounded by Cannons players running towards her. 

TAC Cup Girls previews: Round 2

AFTER a week off due to TAC Cup testing, the TAC Cup Girls are set to run out for round two of the competition this weekend. There are expected to be a number of tight contests this weekend as sides try and either consolidate or turnaround the form from the first week. Each week we will preview the upcoming games and name some players you might like to keep an eye out for.

EASTERN RANGES v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS 

Round 2 – Saturday, March 17, 10am

Healesville Sporting Complex, Healesville

The first game of the round is expected to be a cracker, with Eastern Ranges taking on Dandenong stingrays in the first of a double-header at the Healesville Sporting Complex. In round one, Eastern enjoyed a strong victory over the GWV Rebels, while Dandenong took it up to the Northern Knights for three quarters, before an Alyssa Bannan inspired Knights’ outfit overran the Stingrays.

Georgia Macpherson will look to continue her round one form from the back half, as will fellow AFLW Academy member, Emerson Woods in the midfield. Tarni Brown was an excitement machine at half-forward and could cause some headaches for the Stingrays, while ruck/forward Sarah Kendall and the lightning-quick Mikala Cann are others that stood out in round one and will be keen to follow-on in round two.

For the Stingrays, Shelley Heath was the best in round one and she has been named on the ball for round two, hoping to team up with captain Jordyn Allen, and Isabella Shannon in the midfield. Samantha Ryan was well-held in round one, but could still be a danger up forward, while Lucinda Cripps will lead the defence from centre-half back.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 2 – Saturday, March 17, 11.45am

Healesville Sporting Complex, Healesville

In the second game at Healesville, Sandringham Dragons face Oakleigh Chargers, a side fresh off its first win in the TAC Cup Girls competition. Sandringham went down to a strong Geelong outfit, but not without a fight, while the Chargers dominated for three quarters against Gippsland Power to secure top spot on the ladder after one round. The sides did face off in the pre-season with Sandringham coming out winners, whether that occurs tomorrow is yet to be seen.

Sandringham’s half-back line looks strong with Winnie Laing and Sarah Hartwig among the best in the Dragons’ round-one loss. The Dragons midfield is also strong, with Jemma Owen, Abbie McKay and 15 year-old Eliza McNamara likely to try and control the ball through the corridor, while up forward, Maddi Wilson and Holly Bate will try and provide the firepower requited.

For Oakleigh, the Chargers midfield was very impressive in round one, with Hannah McLaren, Gemma Lagioia, Katie Lynch and Melanie Burtuna all impressing both through the centre and up forward. Daisy Bateman and Jasmine D’Amato were damaging inside 50, while Emily Harley provided plenty of rebound off half-back, intercepting plenty of Power forward thrusts.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 

Round 2 – Saturday, March 17, 12pm

Epsom Huntly Reserve, Epsom

Two sides that were ultra-impressive in round one were the Bendigo Pioneers and Murray Bushrangers who both secured strong victories. Bendigo will play its second consecutive game at Epsom Huntly Reserve, after coming away with a big win over Western Jets. For Murray, round one was an ominous warning to its rivals, easily defeating reigning premiers Calder Cannons, albeit with the Cannons two players down in the last quarter.

Bendigo will look to Kodi Jacques in the midfield to get things moving, teaming up with captain Megan Williamson. Up forward, Sophie Kerridge will play at full-forward after a three-goal effort in round one. Along side her, Shelby Knoll will look to be a target, while Maeve Tupper and Brooke Hards – both 15 year-olds – will provide the ground support.

Murray had no shortage of contributors in its big victory, with captain Rebecca Webster dominating through the midfield, racking up clearances and ensuring her team kept its momentum rolling. In defence, Grace Egan rebounded everything off centre-half back. Alongside her was Eloise Ashley-Cooper, while up forward, tall target Sophie Damon and small forward Julia Harvey teamed up well to dominate the forward 50 arc.

WESTERN JETS v. GIPPSLAND POWER 

Round 2 – Saturday, March 17, 3pm

Casey Fields, Cranbourne

Later on Saturday, the two sides yet to record a win in the TAC Cup Girls competition take to the field in Cranbourne from 3pm. In round one, the Western Jets went down to Bendigo Pioneers, while Gippsland Power could not contain Oakleigh Chargers’ firepower. This weekend will give one team a relieving win, in what is expected to be a fantastic clash of developing clubs with a number of talented bottom-age prospects.

For the Jets, Isabella Pritchard was impressive off centre-half back and is still 16 years-old, while up the other end, the other Isabella – Isabella Grant – will look to lead the attack. Through the midfield, the Jets will look to Payton-Ani Ozols and Elizabeth Georgiostathis. Caitlyn Greiser is a 19 year-old tall forward who will look to dominate the air with fellow forward Cleo Saxon-Jones.

Gippsland will rely on star and co-captain Tyla Hanks through the midfield, with the likes of Leyla Berry and Alana Rippon to provide some support and speed through the centre. In defence, Emily Haeusler was a clean ball user, while Nikia Webber and Julia Redmond will look to steady the attack. Up forward, Jazz Ferguson and Chandra Abrahams will be the main targets, while co-captain Amy Dunn will rotate forward through the ruck.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. GEELONG FALCONS 

Round 2 – Sunday, March 18, 1pm

Marty Busch Reserve, Sebastapol

In the first game on Sunday, Geelong Falcons will look to back up their efforts from their round one win over Sandringham Dragons, while the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will hope to bounce back from a loss to Eastern Ranges. Both sides are littered with AFLW Academy stars in what is predicted to be a highly entertaining contest.

For the Rebels, Georgia Clarke will start at centre-half back after playing forward last week, swapping with Sophie Molan who was the lynchpin in defence against the Ranges. Sophie Van De Heuvel and captain Lauren Butler will provide a strong one-two combo in the midfield, assisted by the likes of Renee Saulitis and Ella Bibby.

Geelong has a star-studded midfield of Olivia Purcell, Nina Morrison and Sophie Walmsley, with AFL Draft Central Player of the Week, Zoe Inei, giving the Falcons midfielders first touch at the stoppages. In defence, Lucy McEvoy will team up with Denby Taylor after the former played inside 50 against the Dragons, while Sachi DeGiacomi will hope to continue her strong efforts leading up in attack.

CALDER CANNONS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS 

Round 2 – Sunday, March 18, 4pm

RAMS Arena, Craigieburn

In the final game of the round two action, Calder Cannons will hope to bounce back in front of a home crowd against an impressive Northern Knights outfit. The Cannons were the walking wounded against Murray Bushrangers in round one, but have pulled up well with a week off, while the Knights pulled away from the Stingrays in the final term to celebrate a good win at Beaconsfield.

Calder’s midfield is its strength, with Madison Prespakis, Georgia Patrikios and Faith Holloway likely to run all day long, while Molly Warburton will provide some much-needed run off half-back. Others to keep an eye on include Felicity Theodore up forward, after she recovered from an ankle injury, and Eleanor Cornish who will come off the bench to have an impact.

Northern have enough firepower up forward to match Calder, led by four-goal hero Alyssa Bannan, and classy forward Alex Pronesti. Nell Morris-Dalton will be a tall target coming out of the square, with the Knights’ midfield of captain Maddy Brancatisano, Britney Gutknecht and bottom-age star Gabby Newton likely to go head-to-head with the impressive Cannons on-ball brigade.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup Girls – Round 1

THE opening round of the TAC Cup Girls competition had it all. Draft prospects kick-started their season in a big way, debutants shone on the big stage, and while one team enjoyed their first win, another endured their first loss. The Oakleigh Chargers’ first win was a big one, as they sit on the top of the ladder after one round of action. Meanwhile for the Cannons, they sit unfamiliarly towards the bottom of the ladder, after being defeated by the Murray Bushrangers at Yarrawonga. The AFL Draft Central scouts were able to attend four games this week, and we took detailed notes on who we thought were the standouts in each game.

GEELONG FALCONS VS. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

By Julia Montesano

Geelong Falcons:

#27: Denby Taylor

So composed in the back-line, and was able to take a mark running back with the flight of the ball. Laid some great tackles in the second quarter especially, when Sandringham was putting the Falcons under the pump. Her speed was a factor in defence, particularly when she chased down and tackled a Dragons forward. This really changed the momentum of the game, as Sandringham was pushing the Geelong defence. Taylor was able to clear the ball out quickly at multiple times, thanks to her quick thinking and quick hands.

#39: Tarryn Love

Love’s acceleration stood out on the day, as she was able to get away from her opponent when they were attempting to lay a tackle on her. She was able to move the ball quickly and well. Her run and carry off half-back was exceptional, nobody could stop her. She not only made some great defensive efforts, but she was able to run into the middle of the ground and make an impact. One of the fastest players on the ground that was able to stand up at multiple times throughout the game.

#33: Zoe Inei

Inei did all the hard work in the ruck, but her impact was felt more so around the ground. Showed great intent to chase down players, especially in the middle of the ground, where the ball was won and lost. Was able to clear the ball into space, allowing her teammates to run onto the ball and execute a running style of footy that proved successful. Got plenty of the ball in the middle of the ground where it mattered. Simply monstered through her opponents, with her aggression and size. A massive force across the ground that helped the Falcons penetrate the ball into their forward line.

#18: Nina Morrison

Great speed out of the pack and in the middle of the ground. Good tackling and run-down chasing was evident early, and only improved throughout the game. Was able to take a great mark while her opponent pushed her under the ball, showing her strength in the contest. Quick thinker, and used her footy smarts to hack the ball onto her boot and clear it into space. Morrison was always zipping around the contest, and was able to chase down players of any size especially in the heart of the contest. Did well to accelerate away from the Dragons midfielders at multiple times.

#42: Sachi DeGiacomi

Played a great role down forward, not only kicking goals but providing plenty of assists. DeGiacomi was able to kick the ball right onto the chest of Lucy McEvoy at multiple times, and both combined for some great highlights in the forward line. To me, she was the link in the chain in the forward 50, getting plenty of score involvements throughout the afternoon. She had quick hands and quick feet, particularly when she elected to kick the ball off the ground to move it deeper into the forward line. Displayed good strength to break away from the play and push away two players while running into goal. Ended up with three majors herself- a reward for a good day inside 50.

Others:

#6: Paige Sheppard

Sheppard’s endurance was the most impressive on the ground. She was able to cover all areas of the ground, despite playing in the forward pocket. Was able to accumulate a lot of the footy in the back-line, and executed some great kicks under pressure. At one point, she was wrestled off the ball but kept her feet, showing her great core strength.

#7: Olivia Purcell

Purcell started off her day with a strong tackle in the middle of the ground, and from then I just knew she was going to be unstoppable. Tackling was on-show all day, and to me she looked like a mini Ebony Marinoff! Always put her head over the footy, and got it out of the contest, whether it was a kick, handball or a simple tap. Was able to follow up on her efforts around the ground. She dropped a mark, then quickly picked the ball up and kicked it around her body.

#36: Abbey Chapman

Great run and carry off half-back. Was able to back herself and clear the ball into space. Evident in the third quarter when she backed her speed, took a few bounces and sent the ball into the middle of the ground. Was able to take plenty of great marks, and stood tall in the defensive 50 multiple times.

#23: Lucy McEvoy

The Geelong captain worked extremely well with Sachi DeGiacomi in the forward 50. Was able to capitalise on some great assists, and slotted in well into her new role up forward. Missed two set shots but was still able to get two majors on the board for her side. Teared it up in the forward line, and will only improve as the season goes on.

#26: Mia Skinner

Kicked a great goal in the first quarter to start off her day. Protected the footy really well when she marked the ball. Had a good day up forward, where she was able to complement the bigger bodies of Lucy McEvoy and Sachi DeGiacomi. Skinner was zipping around the ball deep in the forward line, putting pressure on the Dragons defenders.

 

Sandringham Dragons:

#5: Winnie Laing

Laing was able to put her head over the footy in the heart of the contest. Was always around the contest and attacking the ball. She got plenty of the ball through the middle of the ground, and was an integral part of Sandringham’s fight-back late in the game. Used her footy smarts to wrestle the ball from the Geelong midfielders at crucial times throughout the game.

#7: Eliza McNamara

McNamara was able to burst out of the pack, especially in the middle of the ground. Was able to fight hard for the ball on numerous occasions, and combine her speed and power to penetrate the ball forward for the Dragons. Worked well with Laing around the contest, and together, they orchestrated the Sandringham fight-back in the midfield.

#2: Sophie Rothfield

Had plenty of good moments during the game, and was the best-on-ground when it came to one percenters. She displayed some good work to push Geelong’s Mia Skinner under the ball, after Rothfield followed up her dropped mark. She ensured that the Falcons didn’t get their hands on the ball at crucial parts of the ground. Good kick and shepherd to allow her teammate to run forward. Executed all the little things during the day

#43: Bryanna Arnold

Scrapped in hard for the footy throughout the day. Good clearing kick out of the back line, creating space for her teammates to run onto the ball and penetrate it forward. She even did this in the forward line, when she got a free kick at the top of the 50, and booted it to the goal square. Was able to work towards the front of the ground, highlighting her impressive endurance. Has a long kick for a small player!

#1: Isabella Stutt

Was pivotal in the forward line for the Dragons, kicking two of her side’s four majors. Dug in deep for her side when Geelong was starting to take control. Used all of her energy to run onto the footy when it was kicked into space, but was unlucky that two Falcons were there to mop it up. Read the footy really well, particularly when she was delivered a magnificent centering kick from her teammate. Was able to convert in front of goal, and will be able hit the scoreboard frequently throughout the season.

Others:

#15: Abbie McKay

Displayed great acceleration out of the back-line. But also did some great work in the middle of the ground. She had quick hands and was able to clear the ball out of congestion. Her endurance was fantastic.

#9: Eleanor Brown

Was able to kick the ball into space plenty of times throughout the match. What impressed me most was that she kept running after she kicked the ball, following up on every effort she performed on the ground.

#45: Sarah Hartwig

Broke through the contest with some impressive clearances. Her strength in the contest was very impressive, and was one of the stars in the middle of the ground.

#8: Nicole Amiet

Managed to kick the ball into the right area at multiple times throughout the game. Her ability to find space was remarkable, and she was able to use it to advantage to get her team forward.

#18: Alanna Dalley

Tried hard in the ruck against Geelong’s Zoe Inei. Got the ball down to her midfielders plenty of times. Has a great leap that could be damaging against the smaller sides of the competition.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS VS. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Dandenong Stingrays:

#1: Shelley Heath

Heath played in defence and up until three quarter time was best on ground in my opinion, despite her team losing. She started strongly with a great run-down tackle at half-forward and set the tone for the rest of her teammates. She stopped a certain goal with an outreached hand on the goal line and produced some of the best defensive pressure on the field. Heath not only showed defensive attributes, but was strong offensively, running down the wing and breaking the game open. She also was proactive in defence, rebounding nearly everything that came her way, absorbing Northern’s pressure like a sponge. She teamed up well with captain Jordyn Allen, who was often on the receiving end of Heath’s rebounds.

#3: Courtney Jones

Jones was not a huge possession winner, but she was one I was interested to watch given the high wraps on her heading into the match. In the few glimpses I saw, I was impressed with her composure under pressure and her ability to weigh up her options before disposing of the football. She kicked out on occasion early on and that gives an indication of the expectations placed upon her kicking skills.

#15: Jordyn Allen

The Dandenong Stingrays’ captain was everywhere and certainly one of the best. She is a strong overhead mark, intercepts nearly anything that comes her way, and she opens up the game for her teammates. Her vision and ability to see teammates before they have even seen her is a real asset to her game. She loves to fend off players and almost always tries to spin out of trouble. I did notice a couple of times she spun to a left-dominant side yet still kicked with her right foot, so this is something that she might work on over time. Sometimes she can over kick the ball a little, but on most occasions she puts the ball into space to demand a teammate to run onto it. Overall a really impressive game.

#26: Isabella Shannon

I was quite impressed with Shannon’s game up forward. She moves well and snapped a couple of goals at important times when the game was in the Knights’ favour. She also moved up the ground and won possessions in the midfield and she just has that knack of moving smoothly through traffic. She is a hunter of the football just getting to every contest she could and having eyes for the ball. At times her disposal could be tidied up a little, but as an inside midfielder/forward she certainly stood out.

#35: Lucinda Cripps

The Stingrays’ full-back was a rock of consistency. She is strong one-on-one, rarely gets beaten overhead and is a reliable kick by foot. At times under pressure her disposal by hand was not as clean, but her defensive attributes, particularly one-on-one and the one percenters were a joy to watch and she could be one to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Others:

#18: Saige Bayne

Laid a great tackle in the second half to earn a free kick.

#19: Brooke Borchard

Produced a great smother on the goal line to stop a certain goal.

#31: Brooke Vernon

I was impressed with her clean hands off a volley from the deck and turned around to dispose of it cleanly.

#51: Zoe Hill

Another player who worked hard to stop a certain goal in the second term.

#55: Harmony Thomas

Was quiet early but took a huge contested grab in the final term which indicates there’s a lot more to come from her this season.

 

Northern Knights:

#5: Maddy Brancatisano

The Northern Knights captain is a pure inside midfielder who just crashes into the contest with no regard for her own safety. She lays fierce tackles and does all the right one percenters to assist her teammates and bring them into the game. Her first touch could improve, but her inside work burrowing under packs and forcing the ball free really adds a strong dimension to the Knights’ inside brigade.

#6: Alyssa Bannan

At three quarter time I thought she had been a really solid contributor. Three minutes later she was best on ground. Bannan booted three goals in the opening few minutes of the final term and broke the game open, shutting the door on any chance of a Stingrays revival. It is hard not to award her best on ground honours purely for that three minute purple patch as it won Northern the game. But it was not just her last quarter heroics that impressed me. Earlier on in the first quarter, she showed fantastic composure to pick up the ball cleanly, take a bounce running inside 50 and then take a shot on the run from 20m out. 

#7: Abigail Bennett

The lightly-framed Bennett is a quick thinker with good skills. She played through the midfield and up forward, using pinpoint kicking to hit up targets over short distances. When inside 50, she positioned herself well under the drop zone and protected the ball making it hard for opponents to spoil. Her hard work to get into space paid off in the last term when she capped off her performance with a goal. One of the better Knights on the day for sure.

#23: Gabby Newton

The top star for mine from the Knights. She was the one I was most interested to see given the high wraps around the bottom-age star and she did not disappoint. I do not use the word lightly, but she has “elite” hands in traffic, reminding a bit of Matt Crouch when he was playing at the Rebels a few years ago. Newton seems to slot in everywhere, but she is a really balanced player, both offensively and defensively and that player you can use in transition. She even spent time in the ruck, winning a clean hitout to a teammate. Her tackling is immense, laying a number of bone-crunching tackles, so I think inside midfield is the way to go, with stints up forward where she could hit the scoreboard as well.

#24: Alex Pronesti

Pronesti did not win as much of the footy as her teammates, playing up forward in a strong team effort, but when she did, she did not waste a disposal. She became the first goal kicker in the team for the season, using great composure to sidestep an opponent, straighten up and goal from 30 metres out. She just has the air of class and she does not need to win a heap of the football to have a damaging influence on the contest.

Others:

#3: Nell Morris-Dalton

Really strong overhead, became a target up forward early and took a good contested mark. Her shot on goal missed, but she has a good presence there.

#12: Olivia Dikranis

Took the game on at one stage coming out of defence, was caught and pinged but earned the trust back with a smother from the resulting free kick.

#22: Britney Gutknecht

Had a few very nice highlights coming out of the middle, using great speed and agility to boot the ball forward.

#32: Ashley Snow

Showed a good sidestep out of traffic in defence and her agility shone.

 

EASTERN RANGES VS. GWV REBELS

Eastern Ranges:

#3: Emerson Woods

The AFLW Academy member had no trouble exerting her influence on the game and was one of the more consistent four-quarter performers on the day. Woods’ strengths lie in her ability to cover ground and do all the defensive things right. She tackles, lays bumps, sets up her teammates and is really strong one-on-one. This strength was emphasised late in the game when she took a huge contested mark at half-back. She just kept popping up around the ground and if you tracked her distance covered, it would be considerably high. A few times her kicks would be a little errant, but as an overall game she was certainly one of the better performers in a good team effort.

#21: Mikala Cann

Another player who I had heard big wraps about crossing from an athletics background, and did not disappoint. I expected the speed and athleticism, but Cann also provided plenty of defensive pressure as well, laying a number of strong tackles. In close, Cann was really strong with clean hands and danced around opponents as if she was working in a telephone box. Managed to save a certain goal with a touch on the line too. Cann also showed off her great acceleration in the third term, burning off opponents by sprinting away from the centre stoppage. Later on she sprinted forward, grabbed the ball off the deck, snapped but just missed. A top performer on the day.

#26: Tarni Brown

Brown is one player who really caught my eye on the weekend because of her super speed and agility. The amount of times she tucked the ball under her arm and put on the afterburners and just left players in her dust was quite phenomenal. In one passage of play later in the game, she sidestepped a couple of opponents, weaved through traffic, straightened up and hit-up a target inside 50. She also sold a fair bit of candy on the day, showing she has confidence in spades and it is no surprise given she is the daughter of Collingwood legend Gavin Brown, and brother to Collingwood-listed pair Callum and Tyler Brown.

#37: Georgia Macpherson

One of the players that just picked up where she left off last year – as a damaging rebound defender. Macpherson started her day playing on opposing AFLW Academy member Georgia Clarke, but played on a multitude of opponents, moving from half-back to a wing at times. She is one of the best marks in the competition, rarely beaten one-on-one and rarely dropping the pill in the air. She is also a really strong kick and hits up targets over short, medium or long distances. To go with this, Macpherson also has top vision and can open up the play with her decision making. In one instance she actually tried to make a play happen before her teammates were ready and the ball was intercepted given Clarke read the play first, but more often than not she was able to really get the run going from half-back. An instance that was one of the plays of the day was in the final term, where she intercepted a ball in front of her at half-back, received a shepherd from a teammate and did not break stride as she sprinted down the wing, producing a pinpoint kick to her teammate.

#46: Sarah Kendall

One player who I thought covered a fair bit of ground and was one of the better performers on the day was Sarah Kendall. She seemed to slot into defence, midfield and up forward because of her ability to stand tall in a marking contest and clunk a grab. Kendall is a booming kick and as the game went on it seemed to improve in terms of accuracy and depth. She had a couple of kicks early clearing the area, then showed that she can size up her options with more time and space. When forward she was a clear target, taking a few grabs and being the figurehead inside the forward 50.

Others:

#9: Paige Buruma

In one instance she tucked the ball under her arm and at full speed, managed to find a target up forward.

#16: Emma Horne

I liked her defensive ability one-on-one, winning a number of crucial contests.

#22: Catherina Chamberlain

She did not win a heap of it, but used her speed to set up a goal and her attack on the ball inside forward 50 was a real highlight.

#42: Marina Taverna

The Ranges’ multiple goal-scorer is a good focal point up forward. She leads to the hole inside forward 50 and protects the drop zone to mark in front of her opponent. She kicked a couple and earned them because of her smarts around goal.

#47: Jess Proven

Like Taverna, booted two goals but both came in the first term., She worked incredibly hard sprinting from the midfield to run onto the ball and kick the opening goal of the game, then kicked another inside 50 shortly after. Proven was a bit rushed in her field kicking, but strong overhead and strong standing up in a tackle to get her hands free.

 

GWV:

#16: Lauren Butler

The GWV Rebels captain was consistent throughout the match, playing her part through the midfield and down back. She is composed with the ball in hand, a trait which shone when under pressure. Butler weighed up her options before disposing of the football and did not put a foot wrong. There were others who might have stood out more, but defensively Butler was a star, laying quite a few tackles to keep the opposition guessing every time they were nearby.

#18: Sophie Van De Heuvel

One of three AFLW Academy members, Van De Heuvel started slowly for mine but worked her way into being one of the better players on the day. She played up forward a bit and then through the midfield, with a knack of positioning herself well, taking a strong mark and then using her foot skills to hurt opposing players. She is one of the better kicks in the competition and she has that vision to hit up teammates who might be running laterally, mixing things up and keeping the game flowing rather than stop-starting or predictably kicking long. Given how she finished the game, particularly in the third term, it will be great to see how she follows on from this performance with the round one cobwebs out of the way.

#21: Denver Henson

The midfielder caught my eye early reading the ball off the first hit-out and taking a first few quick steps before kicking long inside 50. Henson has clean hands and works hard to win the footy, while also taking the game on. In one instance she picked up the ball on the wing, had a run and used her composure to deliver the ball well inside forward 50. Another player who might sneak under opposition guard given her highly regarded teammates, but certainly is capable of doing some damage.

#23: Sophie Molan

Molan’s work at full-back was really impressive. Her key attributes are her strength and ability to position herself well one-on-one, rarely losing a contest. In one scenario she was on the wrong side of her opponent (because an opposition player had naturally kicked to direct opposition’s favour), but she worked hard to reposition herself and get a fist on it, then back up with a rebound to clear for her side. Additionally, her rebounding and disposal by foot was quite good and she consistently applied pressure in the defensive 50.

#25: Georgia Clarke

Heading into the match, I suspected she might be the one to watch given the high wraps and she lived up to expectations. She is a really smart player who anticipates situations before they happen and is a key link in the Rebels’ transition movement. Clarke is someone who ideally would play forward because of her contested marking, positioning and ability to read the play. But you get the feeling she will also spend a fair bit of time through the midfield in order to open the game up and use her good foot skills to advantage. She seems like a player who is constantly switched on, intercepting a pass inside forward 50 and then having the smarts to deliver the short pass to an open teammate in the pocket. Hardly put a foot wrong all day.

Others:

#27: Nyakoat Dojiok

Her football skills were off, but her acceleration and agility was bordering on unbelievable. She would grab the ball and seemingly glide past multiple players without them laying a hand on her at times. If she can sharpen up her disposal, she has the athletic tools to be a wildcard in the team.

#28: Isabella Simmons

Worked really hard, running on inside forward 50 and kicking a good goal.

#41: Kayetlan Harris

For a taller player, Harris’ agility and turning circle was quite impressive.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER VS. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Gippsland:

#6: Emily Haeusler

I was ultra impressed with Haeusler’s game because for mine, she was the next best after Tyla Hanks for the Power. The reason being, while others might win more of the ball, each time I saw her dispose of it, she used it really well. More importantly, she was able to dispose of it under pressure, both by hand or foot. The attributes she showed certainly suggested there’s talent there and she also has that defensive side to her game, laying a number of fierce tackles and burrowing in defensively. It just means she can play inside or outside and hit targets regardless of her role or pressure she might be under.

#8: Chandra Abrahams

Abrahams’ positioning seems to be her greatest strength because she played at half-forward and positioned herself well to protect the ball drop. One-on-one she is solid and clearly has smarts in that area, so will be good to see how she progresses through the season. Playing up forward she did not get a heap of looks, but presented on multiple occasions which was promising for a leading forward.

#27: Nikia Webber

A reliable defensive effort from Webber who held her own more often than not. One-on-one she is strong and took a really good defensive mark going back with the flight. Along with her strength and good one-on-one body work, Webber showed a high work rate by her efforts at the defensive end. She was one of the better and more consistent Power players on the day and certainly helped stall the Chargers’ attack somewhat.

#28: Tyla Hanks

The clear standout for Gippsland and it’s no surprise why the Power co-captain is one player who will be carefully watched by clubs over the course of the year. Hanks might only be 158cm, but she has impressive offensive and defensive attributes. She has a huge work rate which sees her win possessions in each third of the ground, primarily playing as an inside midfielder. She is a reliable kick of the football, but her greatest strength is her quick hands and smart thinking which can release a teammate on the outside. She often looks for the give-and-go, trying to break open the game from half-back or along the wing. More often than not, Hanks just willed herself to the contest and it was clear the opposition was aware of her influence, keeping an eye on her throughout the match. She intercepted a number of Oakleigh attacking movements and got the ball back on her terms. No doubt she is the kind of player Gippsland would love to have in spades because she just produces over four quarters.

#57: Jazz Ferguson

Ferguson played in the ruck and off half-back and battled hard throughout the game. She is not as quick as others, but she is strong and looked to break the game open through brute strength and fend-offs. While she might not have been considered one of the best on the day, you could see there is a bit to work with there, and having not come from a footballing background, there were at least some promising signs. She always had a crack and had a few extra smarts, which included a couple of deft taps forward when she knew she was unable to take possession cleanly. In one instance, Ferguson charged off half-back, won the ball and and hit up a target through the midfield. I felt she got better as the game went on, which is something to look forward to in future games.

Others:

#7: Leila Raymond

Laid some good tackles and earned a free kick for going in hard.

#17: Seanen Trewin

Copped a couple of hard knocks later in the game, but worked into the match well, laying a goal-saving tackle in the final term.

#30: Alana Rippon

Positioned herself well in marking contests and showed good running through the middle.

#31: Leyla Berry

Had a real glimpse of her speed with the athletics state medallist racing away from a contest.

#50: Matilda Van Berkel

On multiple occasions Van Berkel showed super quick hands in close, which was promising.

#58: Amy Dunn

Took a strong mark in the second quarter and kicked the Power’s only goal. Also performed admirably in the ruck, often against taller opponents.

#65: Julia Redmond

Took a few strong goal-saving marks in defence.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#14 Hannah McLaren

McLaren started the day as an inside midfielder, progressed up forward and then settled into the defence. She showed off her versatility and ability to play anywhere, in particular her strength both above her head and at ground level. She has a tendency to clunk a mark and continue her motion moving forward, which can unsettle the opposition because of her ability to not let them break and set up defensively. At half-forward, McLaren took a strong overhead mark and looked a lively target, while in defence, she read the play well and timed her leads right to either spoil or clunk a contested mark in front of her opponent. In one instance she took the grab, kept running but unfortunately got pinged for holding the ball. Sometimes she rushes her kicks a little, but the endeavour and her play-reading ability is certainly there.

#19 Emily Harley

A solid rock in defence. She was rarely beaten one-on-one and just took intercept mark after intercept mark, backing back into the contest and playing her opponent under the ball to put herself in best position to mark. In one instance she marked on the goal line to stop a Gippsland goal and cleared it back out of the defensive 50. Along with her marking, her body work and ability to back herself coming out of defence was good.

#30 Gemma Lagioia

Lagioia is a player I had not heard much about coming into the match, but for me she was the most damaging midfielder for the Chargers. It is a big call, but she might be one of the best kicks in the TAC Cup competition, with her ability to not only penetrate over long distances, but spear a pass to a leading forward. The amount of times she teamed up with Daisy Bateman to impact the scoreboard was amazing. Along with her elite foot skills, she is really good one-on-one in the air and also brings her teammates into the match. In one instance deep inside her forward 50, Lagioia was under pressure and allowed a couple of opponents to come at her so she could time a handball to release Melanie Burtuna on the outside to snap a goal. A real talent here.

#38 Daisy Bateman

The star up forward who is equally athletically talented as she is skilful. She booted a couple of goals in the first term, including an amazing goal from the boundary line, then proceeded to be the most damaging forward on the field. She won a one-on-one against a bigger defender, showing off her strength and more important, balance, in the contest. Bateman also has super acceleration and agility which was seen by her ability to back herself against an opponent hugged up against the boundary line, weave around them and sprint into the corridor leaving them in her wake. Not only did she crumb, but she lead up at teammates and just ran into the open space which her teammates honoured her leads. Bateman set up Melanie Burtuna with a goal, and had a number of other impressive plays deep inside 50, showing off her good vision and football IQ.

#41 Katie Lynch

A real utility, Lynch covered ground well across the four quarters. Early on she had an attempt on goal which just missed, then marked the kick back out from the opposition defender, negotiated the breeze perfectly and slotted it through the middle. The next stoppage she was in the centre square, won the clearance and sprinted away, showing off some good pace and movement through traffic. Lynch also worked hard throughout the game, got free and found herself all alone in the goal square later on to mark and goal, a reward for her hard running.

Others:

#2 Jasmine D’Amato

D’Amato had really good pace and agility, sprinting away from the contest and was one of the Chargers’ better players in the win, linking up the midfield into the forward 50.

#11 Bridie Winbanks

The dominant ruck on the day, Winbanks towered over her opponents and was effective in her hitouts, with the opposition trying to read it off her hands. She used her strength on a couple of occasions to fend off her opponents and boot the ball forward.

#16 Alana Porter

The pacy midfielder sprinted away from a stoppage and looked to have set her sights on goal in the first term, but was taken down in a fierce tackle.

#17 Nicola Xenos

Another Oakleigh player who covered the ground well and won possessions in all thirds of the ground. She won a crucial hard ball at ground level through the midfield and got the ball moving in the Chargers’ direction, found space inside 50 and took an uncontested mark, and moments later won a free kick inside defensive 50.

#29 Melanie Burtuna

Burtuna is your stereotypical dangerous small forward. She constantly buzzed around the packs and was rewarded with three goals. Burtuna also set up a goal with a nice lateral kick to Georgia Byrne.

TAC Cup Girls previews: Round 1

FOR many aspiring AFLW players, the start of the TAC Cup Girls season could not have come fast enough. But for those who have put their minds and bodies to the test over the summer will now be able to get stuck into actual matches with round one kicking off tomorrow. Each week we will preview the upcoming games and name some players you might like to keep an eye out for.

GEELONG FALCONS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 11am

Deakin University – Geelong

The Falcons come into round one with the hope of adding a TAC Cup Girls premiership to its already decorated club rooms. The boys side was successful in the TAC Cup final last year, and the girls have every chance to follow suit in 2018. Geelong has a whopping five AFLW Academy members (Lucy McEvoy, Denby Taylor, Olivia Purcell, Nina Morrison and Eliza Shannon), who will be huge role models for the younger players who are coming into the side for the first time. This week, keep an eye out for Sophie Walmsley, who is debuting for the Falcons after only starting her footballing career last year. Walmsley comes from an athletics background and has been touted as a great runner.

Sandringham finished with three wins last year and would be hoping to challenge the Falcons at Deakin University. Famous football relations, Alice Burke (daughter of former St Kilda player, Nathan Burke) and Abbie McKay (daughter of former Carlton player, Andrew McKay) will suit up in defence in the round one clash. Coming from an athletics background, Eleanor Brown has been given free reign to take charge in the midfield. The top-age player will play on the wing, where she will be able to utilise her impressive endurance, and perhaps cause some headaches for the Geelong midfield.

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 11am

Holm Park Recreation Reserve, Beaconsfield

Dandenong boasts a 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year selection in Jordyn Allen in its round one side. Allen is in the AFLW Academy and will play in the midfield in a bid to tackle the Knights’ strong line-up in the middle of the ground. Allen has been sent into the midfield after playing in defence during 2017, but she is not the only one who will change positions for round one. Courtney Jones kicked five goals in her four games last year, but will play across the half-back line, in order to combat the fierce Knights forwards, such as leader, Jess Fitzgerald.

The Northern Knights secured an impressive four wins last year, and have packed its midfield with leaders in the hope of securing a round-one win. Four of the Knights’ five leaders in Madeline Brancatisano (captain), Maggie Antypas (vice-captain), Britney Gutknecht, and Gabby Newton will be looking to cause havoc in the middle of the ground, and showcase their on-field leadership to the young girls in the group.

 

EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS

Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 12:45pm

Holm Park Recreation Reserve, Beaconsfield

AFLW Academy member, Emerson Woods will be hoping to continue her excellent 2017 form in round one, when she suits up for the Eastern Ranges at Beaconsfield. She will be able to assist first-gamer Mikala Cann, who will play on-ball in the round one clash. Cann has not played football before, and will work well in tandem with Woods, using her elite athletic ability to burst away from the stoppages. Defender Georgia Macpherson is another one to watch coming off the half-back flank.

The Greater Western Victoria Rebels are well aware of the firepower in the Eastern Ranges outfit, and have included a host of stars in the round one side.  Captain Lauren Butler will line up alongside draft prospects, Rene Caris and Sophie Van De Heuvel  in the midfield, in what looks to be an intriguing battle at Beaconsfield. Caris and Van De Heuvel will go head-to-head with fellow AFLW Academy member, Emerson Woods, in a battle that could be the difference between a win or loss for either side. Top prospect Georgia Clarke will line-up at half-forward.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS

Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 1pm

Epsom Huntly Reserve, Bendigo

Bendigo would be hoping to kick off 2018 with a win, after the side only tasted victory once last season. Jordyn Joliffe is one player who could be the difference for the Pioneers. Joliffe will play at centre half-forward, where she will be looking to get her side on the scoreboard early. At the other end of the ground will be Sophie Kerridge (sister of Carlton midfielder, Sam Kerridge), who would be hopeful of cementing a spot in the backline for Bendigo,

The Western Jets have also named some famous football relations of its own for the round one clash at Epsom Huntly Reserve. Isabella Grant is the daughter of former Western Bulldogs player, Chris Grant, and will feature in the Jets’ forward-line. The bottom-age player is also in the AFLW Academy, so she will be one to keep an eye on throughout the season. We will also see sister of North Melbourne ruckman, Majak Daw, Mary Daw line up for the Jets in round one. Daw has been touted as a great runner, and will be looking to impress in the Jets’ first game of 2018.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

Round 1 – Sunday, March 4, 11.30am

Moe Recreation Reserve, Moe

The match between the Power and the Chargers will be played as a curtain-raiser to the AFLW clash between Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. Gippsland will be hoping that the coaches of the AFLW sides will be keeping an eye on exciting draft prospect, Tyla Hanks. The AFLW Academy player was named in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year, and will play a key role in the Power’s midfield. Up forward, former netballer and gymnast, Leyla Berry will be one to watch, while Jazz Ferguson is set to impress at centre half-back.

The Chargers will be hoping the trip to Moe will be a worthwhile one, as they aim to kick off 2018 with a win. Daughter of AFL Umpire Scott McLaren, Hannah McLaren is set to be an X-factor in the Oakleigh midfield, and will be joined by top-age player, Bridie Winbanks. Winbanks has been touted as a hard worker, and would be likely to dig in deep through the middle of the ground throughout the match for the Chargers.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 1 – Sunday, March 4, 1pm

JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga

In perhaps the most anticipated clash of the year, the Bushrangers and Cannons will be aiming to keep their winning streaks intact at JC Lowe Oval. Murray finished second on the ladder last year, and would be hoping to hand Calder its first loss in the TAC Cup Girls competition. AFLW Academy member, Rebecca Webster will play in the midfield in the round one clash, instead of playing in defence. Webster starred in the back-line last year and was named in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year as a result of that. In the forward-line, 2017 best and fairest, Millie Brown will suit up for Murray, and will be joined by under-16 national basketballer, Olivia Barber. The duo could certainly challenge the Calder defence on Sunday.

The Calder Cannon enjoyed a successful 2017, winning the TAC Cup Girls competition, and having three players drafted to AFLW sides (Chloe Molloy, Sarah Dargan and Monique Conti). But 2018 is a new year, and the Cannons face their biggest challenge yet in the TAC Cup Girls competition. To combat the Murray midfield, Calder has chosen AFLW Academy members, Madison Prespakis and Georgia Patrikios to go head-to-head with the Bushrangers in the middle of the ground. Calder has slotted its other AFLW Academy member, Molly Warburton into the back-line, making for a very formidable Cannons outfit.