Tag: mackenzie eardley

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Dandenong Stingrays

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 this year’s impressive sides, Dandenong Stingrays.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: defeated Eastern Ranges by 50 points
R2: defeated Calder Cannons by 18 points
R3: lost to Northern Knights by 23 points

Dandenong Stingrays have been one of the most exciting teams to watch in NAB League Girls over the first three rounds with their quick ball movement and willingness to take the opposition on. They had a momentous win over Eastern Ranges in the opening round to show what they were capable of, then toppled last year’s grand finalists, Calder Cannons. They started strongly against reigning premiers, Northern Knights but were overrun in the second half, though it showed that they have plenty of talent for the future.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Tyanna Smith (25.3 disposals, 4.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 5.3 inside 50s, 3.3 rebounds, 1 goal)

The statistics really speak for themselves, with Smith being the second biggest ball winner on average to start the season with more than 25 touches per game, and a ridiculous 5.3 inside 50s. Whilst her ball use going forward is one of the best in the competition, the thing that sets her apart from other top-line midfielders is her defensive work, where she leads by example and has laid six tackles per game, running down opponents with her burst speed. It is no surprise she is at the equal top of our DC Medal count with the start she has had to the season.

Jessica Matin (14.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s, 4 goals)

A real danger inside 50, Matin had already booted four goals in the opening two rounds, kicking a major in each of her games and always looking dangerous. She provided good forward pressure and would also press up the ground to win the footy as well. While she had a number of chances she was unlucky to miss – particularly in the opening round – she showed the impact she can have inside 50.

Amber Clarke (12.3 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 1.7 rebounds)

What an exciting talent the speedster is, and she showed off what she has to offer when roaming down the wings in the first three games of the season. Hard to believe she is still in her bottom-age year, and she could play half-back or wing and once she gets space to run in, it will be hard to catch her. Clarke does not need a lot of touches to hurt opposition sides, but when she starts racking them up, she is hard to stop.

Emily Shepherd (11.3 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 1.0 rebounds, 1 goal)

Having played a bit of everywhere, Shepherd had a real standout game in Round 2 during the win against Calder Cannons, picking up 18 touches, four marks, two inside 50s and two rebounds, where she was second best behind Smith for the Stingrays. Like Clarke, Shepherd is still a bottom-ager which is scary for opposition sides, and she is a natural ball-winner who can slot in up forward or through the midfield.

Zoe Hill (10.0 disposals, 2.3 marks, 5.0 tackles, 2.7 rebounds)

Could have slotted any number of five or more players into this spot, but Hill being the top-age tall defender is one worth mentioning. Her ability to read the play in the air, intercept and move the ball on down the field is important, and she is very difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. Hill can play deep in defence on the last line, or higher up at centre half-back where she can help dictate play further up the field.

Others who have stood out: Abbey Jordan, Jemma Radford, Georgia Grimmer, Mackenzie Eardley

The Stingrays’ captain, Jordan has played a real team-orientated role this year, on the outside, at half-back and at half-forward because her elite running capacity allows her to tire out opponents. She has had a terrific start to the season, as well, with the other three players that have impressed – though not an extensive list – being middle-age talents defender Radford and forward Grimmer, as well as bottom-age key tall Eardley.

Smith and McKenzie lead DC Medal count in postponed NAB League Girls

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition players, staff and families wait for confirmation on whether or not any more football will go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Draft Central thought it would update the leaderboard of the DC Medal count we have been taking throughout the first three rounds of the season. While we had hoped that this would end up being a full season count, there are two clear leaders who have emerged from the pack. It might have been difficult with some teams only playing two games compared to three, but no player that played two games could have caught the equal leaders even with a full five votes in a hypothetical third game.

Dandenong Stingrays’ Tyanna Smith and Ellie McKenzie lead all-comers in what could realistically be the end result of the Medal count, which means in the inaugural DC Medal, two players will share the award. Both players polled 14 votes in their first three games, including two best-on-grounds and one four-vote game to ensure that no one else could catch them. If the season is potentially called off in the future, then both the players will be announced winners. Two of the stars of the competition, Smith has helped Dandenong Stingrays to a ripping start in the NAB League Girls season, with her side winning its first two games against Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons, before running into a McKenzie-inspired Northern Knights outfit in Round 3. The Knights’ co-captain was sensational and picked up her second best on ground to tie with Smith in the same game after the Stingrays speedster picked up the four votes.

After the two clears in McKenzie and Smith clears is another Northern Knights player, and a couple of Sandringham Dragons. McKenzie’s teammate and forward, Alyssa Bannan sits three votes behind in third with 11 to her name and the player responsible for picking up the best on ground votes back in Round 1 against Calder Cannons for McKenzie to receive the four. Rounding out the top five are Sandringham Dragons’ duo, Sarah Hartwig (10 votes) and Alice Burke (nine) who were both enjoying terrific starts to the season. Behind the top five are a pack of players all on eight votes, including Western Jets’ duo, Montana Ham and Isabella Pritchard, Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher and the only player who has played the two games inside the top 10 – Laura Gardiner. Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis and Sandringham Dragons’ Winnie Laing sit on seven and six votes respectively.

DC Medal:

[14] Tyanna Smith (DS), Ellie McKenzie (NK)

[11] Alyssa Bannan (NK)
[10] Sarah Hartwig (SD)
[9] Alice Burke (SD)

[8] Laura Gardiner (GF), Montana Ham (WJ), Isabelle Pritchard (WJ), Olivia Meagher (ER)
[7] Georgie Prespakis (CC)
[6] Winnie Laing (SD)

[5] Jess Fitzgerald (NK), Charlotte Baskaran (WJ), Tarni Brown (ER), Alice Astbury (GWV), Grace Hay (MB), Charlie Rowbottom (OC), Bella Eddey (SD), Mimi Hill (OC)
[4] Grace Dicker (CC), Abbi Moloney (SD), Maggie Caris (GWV), Amber Micallef (OC), Kasey Lennox (CC), Alice O’Loughlin (OC), Brooke Hards (BP), Darcy Moloney (GF), Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
[3] Amelia Velardo (WJ), Jemma Finning (BP), Isabella Khoury (WJ), Taylah Morton (OC), Zoe Hill (DS), Eliza James (OC), Mackenzie Eardley (DS), Poppy Schaap (GF), Jessica Zakkour (CC)
[2] Elizabeth Snell (BP), Megan Fitzsimon (GP), Matilda Hardy (ER), Ella Friend (GWV), Rianna Thiele (OC), Annabel Strahan (BP), Tarrah Delgado (NK), Emily Shepherd (DS), Amelia James (OC), Georgia Grimmer (DS), Matilda Van Berkel (GP), Eliza McNamara (SD)
[1] Freda Puruntatameri (CC), Perri King (TD), Amber Clarke (DS), Kate Adams (MB), Amanda Ling (OC), Annie Lee (GF), Zali Spencer (MB), Jorja Livingstone (ER), Shanara Notman (GP), Renee Saulitis (GWV)

 

Dandenong fires to second win with victory over Calder

AN entertaining and close encounter between Calder Cannons and Dandenong Stingrays broke the competition open on Saturday afternoon in the second match of the NAB League Girls double header at RAMS Arena, with the two sides showcasing their class and skill level throughout. The Cannons controlled the first half forcing the Stingrays to chase, before Dandenong well and truly took control in the final term to result in the 18-point victory.

It was a solid start to the Cannons at their home ground, with the side dominating early to 13-point lead over the Stingrays. With Emelia Yassir on form booting the side’s first two scores for the match (finishing with 1.1 and 13 disposals) and some clean hands down the field, Calder looked well in control of the match before Dandenong started to utilise the Cannons’ slow movement down the field. Tyanna Smith (29 disposals, seven inside 50s, five marks, seven tackles) well and truly pushed her side into the match, slamming middle-ager Georgie Prespakis into the turf and earning a free kick to propel the footy downfield. While Calder’s pressing defence was causing issues for the Stingrays up forward, a 50m penalty saw Dandenong put their first on the board before clean hands from rebounding defender Zoe Hill lead to great movement down the wing and Ashleigh Richards followed up with her first of the match (two goals, 11 touches) to only be down by one behind at quarter time. While the Cannons had the strong start they wanted, the Stingrays owned the second half of the quarter with their drive forward and hunt of the footy, proving they had what it took to control the Cannons outfit.

The pressure lifted a notch in the second term, with both sides defensively putting on a show to deny any easy entry inside 50. After a high intensity first term the match went goalless until after the 10 minute mark thanks to end-to-end defensive pressure from both teams, with neither side able to create clean entries forward. With a good contest through the midfield, Calder showed some real class in their movement down field, switching with ease but having difficult finding entry inside 50. An around the body goal from Northern Territory over-ager Freda Puruntatameri (one goal, four inside 50s) from the goal square broke the drought but was immediately followed up by a great return from Dandenong, with Smith taking advantage of a clean tap in the centre to kick long inside 50, finishing with a dribbled goal from Richards. While Calder well and truly dominated possession of the footy in this quarter, the Stingrays made the most of their solid defensive line to reward the efforts of their hardworking mids and again only down by one point at the main change.

The third quarter saw much the same with both sides booting a goal apiece while the Stingrays finally pulled ahead thanks to three behinds in a row. Solid pressure from the Stingrays kept the Cannons on their toes but couldn’t seem to stop them in the tracks, with Smith hitting targets and doing all she could to keep her side in the contest. A goal from Alissa Magri had the Cannons up and about with the footy barely going past the middle of the field, though the Stingrays would not give up, forcing sloppiness from the Cannons who had been so composed early with the footy. Dandenong’s tenacity and hunt of the contest saw them dominate the second half of the quarter, with Calder making errors aplenty as they worked to get back into the contest, building on each quarter with their tenacity and cleanliness improving.

The final term saw the Stingrays well and truly turn up the heat, denying the Cannons a score on the board to run away with the 18-point victory. It was a slow start to the quarter with Dandenong maintaining possession but unable to put goals on the board, rushing the kick on goal and missing chances to pile on the scoreboard. A major from Amie Carroll broke the goal drought for the Stingrays, with the side following up with one final major to cement victory. While Calder had some solid chances to tun the ball over they did not make the most of their opportunities thanks to the continued defensive pressure of the Stingrays who brought the intensity up the ground to shut down the midfield. With everything going Dandenong’s way, the Stingrays did not look like losing, with Calder unable to replicate their first half dominance around the footy.

Smith played a pivotal role for the Stingrays and backed up a stellar Round 1 effort in this win, while Prespakis was among the best for the Cannons with 17 touches, three marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds. Opposing backliners, Hill and Kasey Lennox were influential for their respective sides, with Hill collecting 11 touches, five rebounds, three marks and three tackles, while Lennox mirrored her effort with 14 touches, six rebounds and three marks. While the Cannons shared the goal kicking load, the Stingrays had two multiple goal kickers in Richards and Jessica Matin (two apiece), while some missed opportunities and rushed behinds fortunately did not cost them the match. Amber Clarke (12 touches, five marks, five inside 50s, four tackles, one behind) and Mackenzie Eardley (seven disposals, six tackles) impressed in a good team outing for Dandenong, proving dangerous with their respective speed off the mark and anticipation of the footy.

CALDER CANNONS 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.2 | 4.2 (26)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.0 | 3.1 | 4.4 | 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Calder: E. Yassir, F. Puruntatameri, A. Magri, C. Clayton.
Dandenong: J. Matin 2, A. Richards 2, A. Carroll, S. Vudiniabola.

BEST:

Calder: K. Lennox, G. Prespakis, E. Yassir, L. Cocomello, G. Sampson
Dandenong: T. Smith, Z. Hill, E. Shepherd, A. Clarke, A. Jordan

DC MEDAL

5 – Tyanna Smith (DS)
4 – Kasey Lennox (CC)
3 – Zoe Hill (DS)
2 – Emily Shepherd (DS)
1 – Georgie Prespakis (CC)

Ball movement and clean hands impress Stingrays’ coach

IT was a near-perfect start to the season for the Dandenong Stingrays in the NAB League Girls competition, defeating Eastern Ranges by 50 points at Holm Park Reserve in Beaconsfield on Sunday. Despite an impressive performance where coach Dave Carden said the players executed the quick ball movement and clean hands they were looking for, he is still hoping to build on areas to improve for the future ahead of a tough couple of weeks against last year’s grand finalists, back-to-back.

“It’s interesting, because you’re not really sure what to expect,” Carden said. “We’re such a new squad. “We had 11 debutants play their first game for the Stingrays today and we’re pretty much a brand new coaching staff. “So we’ve worked on a lot of things over the summer and it’s really been about the fundamentals. “Making sure we’re getting our kicking right under pressure, (a) massive focus on clean hands, but also them having the courage to take the game on. “We talked about it as players, we want them to bring their strength to the game, rather than a whole heap of structural stuff and be you. “You know what? I think they did a really, really good job right across the ground doing that.”

Leading the front was AFL Women’s National Academy member Tyanna Smith, but a 16-year-old key position defender also caught the coach’s eye in the opening round win.

“‘T’ is a coach’s dream,” Carden said. “She turns up to every training session eager to learn, whatever it be. “Whether it’s a hard strength and conditioning set or learning a new part of the game. “She’s always looking to improve and that sort of work ethic is why she gets results on the ground. “When you look at some of the kids down there in the backline, Mackenzie Eardley who was great above her head. “She might be 16, but she’s done an amazing job. “That support for ‘T’ who’s a fantastic player is what we’ve been trying to work on.”

Eardley is one of a number of talls in the Stingrays’ team who are well complimented by some determined smalls and hard runners across the field.

“It’s probably a little bit early, we’ve actually been looking at that. we’ve got some good size in key positions, girls like Charley Ryan, I mentioned Mac (Eardley), we’ve got Serene (Vudiniabola) who was in the goalsquare today – nice and strong above their head. But that’s then complimented by people like Amber Clarke, Emily Shepherd, who are just so ferocious and just great users around the ball. Our skipper Abbey Jordan, just didn’t stop running I think her GPS numbers will be off the chart, so what we look for is a really good balance across the whole ground and I think we got that today, certainly.”

Those names were some of the Stingrays’ top performers on the day, with Carden praising their ability to win the ball both in the air and at ground level, with great competitiveness.

“I think Serene up forward put the ball up high and if she doesn’t mark it, she is really good at ground level. I think Emily Shepherd and Amber Clarke both gave their all and Brooke Smith down back as well. “Another first gamer, again having the courage to take it on from the half-back, that’s what we’re encouraging. “If that’s her game, we want her to play that way. It’s going to be a very difficult job to go and see who we give votes to I can say that.”

Despite winning the match by 50 points, Carden said the scoreboard was not what impressed him most. He was pleased the players were able to execute the game plan set out and build on the areas practiced in the pre-season.

“I must admit, we didn’t even look at the scoreboard during the day,” Carden said. “We’ve got a philosophy down at the Stingrays about the fundamentals. “Are we executing what we practice right? I just think just being able to get the results on the scoreboard, that comes from being able to move the footy and clean hands. “If you noticed today’s game how it was a lot more open, that’s where female footy is going, so we’re looking more at that. “The scoreboard was a great outcome, but I think the actual result we got on the scoreboard to kick nine goals, when it’s only 60 minutes of playing time is a pretty good effort.”

The quick ball movement allowed the Stingrays to be ultra-effective inside 50 with 13 scoring shots from just 22 inside 50s, two more entries than their opponents who had three scoring shots. It meant 59 per cent of the time the Stingrays entered the forward 50, they scored, and 41 per cent of the time, it was a goal. Their tall combination of Vudiniabola and Georgia Grimmer shared in a couple of goals each, while the smalls of Ashleigh Richards and Jessica Matin went to work at ground level.

Despite having such an impressive win to shoot the Stingrays up to the top of the table after one round, Carden said there was still plenty to learn from the game and tweak ahead of their next fixture against 2019 NAB League Girls grand finalists, Calder Cannons next Saturday.

“I think in some of the stoppages, because we’ve worked so much on our fundamentals, we’ve done almost nothing on structures, but just teaching them a little bit of positioning to play around the stoppages,” he said. “We’ll work on that. “I think also committing to some of the change of direction stuff we’ve been working on. When you spread, spread wide and commit to that. “But as they know, every single week, the girls said it will be clean hands, clean hands, clean hands in every situation of the game.”

2020 NAB League Girls Team of the Week: Round 1

IN a new-look amalgamation of Draft Central‘s Team of the Week and player notes, we name our Round 1 NAB League Girls’ Team of the Week and explain why each player has been chosen. The 24-player team returns with three emergencies this year, and it was an even spread across the board. All notes are opinion-based of the individual Draft Central writer. Round 1 winners, Oakleigh Chargers, Northern Knights and Geelong Falcons all had three players in the Team of the Week, while fellow winners, Dandenong Stingrays, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Western Jets had two apiece. Narrow losers in Round 1, Calder Cannons and Sandringham Dragons had two each as well, as did Gippsland Power, while Bendigo Pioneers, Eastern Ranges and Murray Bushrangers had the one representative. Factoring in emergencies, Oakleigh Chargers had the most players overall with four, while Sandringham and Western moved up to three.

BACKS:

Crystal Summers (GWV Rebels) – 13 disposals, 5 marks, 3 tackles, 1 inside 50, 6 rebounds
The rebounding defender was lively throughout the contest, being a constant threat coming off half-back and pushing up the ground to be a key reason behind the Rebels’ success on the weekend. She was calm and composed with ball-in-hand and generally made the right decisions as one of the standouts.

Mindy Quade (Murray Bushrangers) – 9 disposals, 2 marks, 1 tackle, 1 inside 50, 8 rebounds
Her vision off half-back and spotting the ball in transition was a highlight, as she stood up under fierce pressure from the Chargers during the Bushrangers’ loss. She was often the first to intercept and disrupted the offensive flow inside defensive 50.

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels) – 10 disposals, 3 marks, 7 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
Always having more impact than the statistics might suggest, Dojiok had a number of impressive runs down the ground and took the game on with eye-catching speed and evasion. She still has plenty of development left in her, but has clearly improved over the past couple of seasons and is hard to stop when she gets going.

HALF-BACKS:

Sarah Hartwig (Sandringham Dragons) – 14 disposals, 5 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 4 rebounds
The standout player on the day despite being on the losing side, Hartwig was a force in defence with a number of intercept marks and rebounds, with one passage of play in particular standing out where she hit the ball at full speed, collected it cleanly, sidestepped an opponent and kicked neatly inside 50.

Mackenzie Eardley (Dandenong Stingrays) – 9 disposals, 2 marks, 5 tackles, 4 rebounds
The centre half-back certainly stood tall in the back six despite being a bottom-ager, taking a number of contested grabs, or providing a contest where she was able to calmly clear the ball under pressure. She also laid a massive tackle to win a free kick and it led to her side kicking a goal off that chain of possessions.

Charlotte Baskaran (Western Jets) – 19 disposals, 1 mark, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 5 rebounds
A clean user of the ball, Baskaran would roam up and down the ground providing great service between the arcs and dropping back to help her defenders with the natural half-back another bottom-ager in the side.

CENTRES:

Darcy Moloney (Geelong Falcons) – 28 disposals, 6 tackles, 2 inside 50s
She was a force in midfield for the Falcons during their win, often releasing teammates in space with her run and carry and quick handballs to open up passages of play down the field. A dominant player early, Moloney finds space where very few can and is quick to release by hand or foot, and equally as damaging defensively, laying some big tackles.

Tyanna Smith (Dandenong Stingrays) – 26 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 6 inside 50s, 2 rebounds, 1 goal
Absolutely outstanding performance, particularly in the second quarter where she constantly attacked going inside 50, then snapped one of the goal’s of the round close to the boundary line. Also did a number of defensive things right with some big tackles around the ground.

Mimi Hill (Oakleigh Chargers) – 29 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 5 inside 50s
The captain starred in her side’s big win over Murray with a second-high round of 29 disposals, and was often seen pumping the ball inside 50, showing clean hands and precision disposal. One of the top performers across the entire weekend.

HALF-FORWARDS:

Jessica Zakkour (Calder Cannons) – 18 disposals, 2 marks, 8 tackles, 2 inside 50s, 3 rebounds, 2 goals
Rotated between midfield and forward, often sneaking out the back to find space and capitalise, whilst showing some terrific defensive pressure. Was arguably Calder’s best in the narrow loss to Northern, and found plenty of the football while laying eight tackles.

Montana Ham (Western Jets) – 19 disposals, 7 marks, 2 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
Got our full votes for her performance in Western’s win over Bendigo, looking impressive across the ground with her movement and ability to drive the ball forward in transition. She seemed to be everywhere on the ground and despite being a bottom-ager racked up a game-high 19 touches, and had the play of the game with a multiple-bounce effort down the wing kicking forward which almost led to a goal.

Eliza McNamara (Sandringham Dragons) – 20 disposals, 3 marks, 8 tackles, 6 inside 50s
Played between midfield and half-forward, McNamara had the most disposals on the ground in Sandringham’s loss to the Rebels. Her defensive pressure and running ability is elite, and she just keeps pushing throughout the four quarters to try and do everything she can for her side. She worked tirelessly for the Dragons applying tackles and looking inside 50.

FORWARDS:

Alice O’Loughlin (Oakleigh Chargers) – 18 disposals, 3 marks, 1 inside 50, 3 goals
Her timing and speed off the mark caught the eye inside 50, making the most of her opportunities in front of goal. She used the space around her well to find the football and took advantage of the loose ball inside 50 to capitalise with three majors.

Alyssa Bannan (Northern Knights) – 11 disposals, 4 marks, 1 tackle, 2 inside 50s, 5 goals
Kicked a round-high five goals and looks a good candidate for one of the top goalkickers this season, taking a number of good grabs with her vertical leap and athleticism the highlight. It was clear that defenders cannot allow Bannan to get goalside or she will create something out of nothing with a couple of clever snaps close to goal adding to her tally on the day.

Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons) – 24 disposals, 3 marks, 6 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 1 goal
Started forward and roamed up the ground to be the third highest disposal winner with her ability to lay some strong tackles and show a high work rate. She just pushes time and time again across four quarters, and was rewarded with a goal, while setting up a number of teammates with scoring opportunities.

RUCKS:

Matilda Van Berkel (Gippsland Power) – 15 disposals, 6 marks, 4 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 2 rebounds, 28 hitouts
The standout Gippsland Power player in the loss to Geelong Falcons, Van Berkel had to step up to play ruck and was ultra-impressive with a round-high 28 hitouts, as well as finding plenty of the football around the ground with strength overhead and an ability to cover the ground well with hard running.

Brooke Hards (Bendigo Pioneers) – 18 disposals, 4 marks, 7 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
The Pioneers’ co-captain picked up where she left off last season, being a shining light in her side’s loss to the Jets. Hards was constantly getting involved either offensively or defensively, and was fierce around the stoppages. She had a team-high 18 touches and as she has become known for, laid a truckload of tackles in the process.

Laura Gardiner (Geelong Falcons) – 38 disposals, 1 mark, 14 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 1 goal
Our Draft Central Player of the Week for Round 1, Gardiner was simply unstoppable with a ridiculous 38 touches and 14 tackles, pumping the ball in time and time again, and helping free up her teammates around the ground. She ran at a 50 per cent balance between kicks and handballs, and while most of her touches were often in possession chains, her work rate showed just how much she works around the ground.

INTERCHANGE:

Jess Fitzgerald (Northern Knights) – 15 disposals, 1 mark, 2 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
Last year’s best-on in the grand final started her 2020 year with a strong performance, moving well around the ground and showing off her speed in close and precision kicking. She possesses good footy IQ and was one of the best Knights on the day during their win over the Cannons.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers) – 18 disposals, 4 marks, 5 tackles, 7 inside 50s, 1 goal
Showed clean hands and vision by propelling the ball inside 50 and finding targets in there with a massive seven inside 50s. She also provided plenty of defensive pressure with strong tackling and forcing errors from the Bushrangers, working well through the midfield to drive the ball in transition.

Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) – 16 disposals, 2 marks, 4 tackles, 4 inside 50s, 2 rebounds
It was not a great day for Eastern, but Meagher never gave in as she battled and bruised her way through four quarters for her side. She showed great leadership and tried to will her side on, laying crunching tackles and bumps, often bouncing straight up or off opponents with a hungry desire to win the ball. Meagher also tried getting the ball down the field to set up scoring opportunities and was a standout for her team.

Ellie McKenzie (Northern Knights) – 12 disposals, 4 marks, 3 tackles, 4 inside 50s
Another player who had a great impact that stats might suggest, McKenzie kept battling on the inside and then going forward with her strength and power a highlight during Round 1. She adds a great dimension to the Knights’ midfield and she was able to win the ball in tight, extract it and get the ball out, going on a couple of short runs to try and break down the opposition defensive structures.

Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power) – 11 disposals, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50, 5 rebounds, 2 hitouts
The Gippsland Power overager showed why she was a terrific choice to come back as a 19-year-old player this year, standing tall in the face of a wave of Falcons attacks, with great strength in the air and ability to move the ball out of defence. She sold a bit of candy in the process and was rock solid back there in defeat.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons) – 19 disposals, 1 mark, 3 tackles, 3 inside 50s, 3 rebounds
The highly-touted prospect had a solid game to start the season, not often getting too much free space, but still finding her fair share of the ball through the midfield. She was thrown around into different positions but still had an impact, and her work rate between the arcs was really impressive.

EMERGENCIES:

Alice Burke (Sandringham Dragons) – 15 disposals, 2 marks, 3 tackles, 3 rebounds
The potential St Kilda father-daughter selection stood up in big moments and makes the trio of most unlucky to miss players after a solid performance. She can play just about anywhere and is able to break up the play with her ability to find space and short kick to teammates on angles to disrupt the opposition’s zones.

Amelia James (Oakleigh Chargers) – 19 disposals, 1 tackle, 3 inside 50s, 6 hitouts, 2 goals
We could have included a heap of Oakleigh Chargers and James was the next one in line after an impressive two-goal performance inside 50. She is in her top-age year and showed she can pinch-hit in the ruck as well.

Amelia Velardo (Western Jets) – 16 disposals, 3 inside 50s, 1 rebound, 4 hitouts
An eye-catching player across the ground and new into the team, Velardo showed some good athleticism coming out of the ruck at times and had a really busy start to the game in Western’s win against Bendigo. She was able to drive the ball forward and be amongst it in close, often firing out quick handballs to teammates in space.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 1

B: Crystal Summers (GWV) – Mindy Quade (MB) – Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV)
HB: Sarah Hartwig (SD) – Mackenzie Eardley (DS) – Charlotte Baskaran (WJ)
C: Darcy Moloney (GF) – Tyanna Smith (DS) – Mimi Hill (OC)
HF: Jessica Zakkour (CC) – Montana Ham (WJ) – Eliza McNamara (SD)
F: Alice O’Loughlin (OC) – Alyssa Bannan (NK) – Poppy Schaap (GF)
R: Matilda Van Berkel (GP) – Brooke Hards (BP) – Laura Gardiner (GF)
INT: Jess Fitzgerald (NK) – Eliza James (OC) – Olivia Meagher (ER) – Ellie McKenzie (NK) – Shanara Notman (GP) – Georgie Prespakis (CC)
EMG: Alice Burke (SD) – Amelia James (OC) – Amelia Velardo (WJ)

OTHERS CONSIDERED:

It was a really even round of performances this weekend, with a number of players making the shortlist for the team but just missing out. Among them were Calder Cannons’ duo Tamsin Crook and Emelia Yassir, Sandringham Dragons’ duo Winnie Laing and Pia Staltari, GWV Rebels’ duo Renee Saulitis and Lilli Condon, Northern Knights’ Ash Snow, Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling, Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning, Eastern Ranges’ Jorja Livingston and Dandenong Stingrays’ Georgia Grimmer.

Stingrays stun Ranges with 50-point win

DANDENONG Stingrays have produced one of their best performances in the NAB League Girls competition to-date, downing Eastern Ranges by 50 points at Holm Park Reserve in Beaconsfield. In warm conditions without a lot of breeze, the Stingrays went into the contest with a heavy bottom-age presence with talls up either end supported by a couple of more experienced players around them. It was an arm-wrestle for the most part in the first half, with Dandenong eventually turning the tables on Eastern thanks to an inspired performance by AFL Women’s National Academy member, Tyanna Smith.

While she was solid in the first quarter, it was the second term where Smith came to life, having multiple inside 50s – including three consecutive – and booting a remarkable goal from the boundary line to blow out the half-time margin to 33 points at the break. The first five minutes of the match was spent between the arcs, but a quick kick inside 50 gave debutant overager, Serene Vudiniabola the opportunity with her strong hands to dish off to Jess Matin who slotted the easiest of first goals. The Stingrays double up late in the term when Ashleigh Richards converted from 30m out straight in front, but it was off the back of a huge Mackenzie Eardley tackle, stopping Lily Peacock in her tracks on the wing. Both Smith and Olivia Meagher were battling hard for their respective sides, throwing their bodies on the line to win the contested ball despite being outnumbered.

Eardley continued in the second term where she took a huge contested one-on-one mark inside defensive 50, while Smith’s dominance came to the fore. After a couple of dropped marks by teammates and Vudiniabola’s missed chance for a goal herself, Smith gathered the ball right by the boundary line amongst traffic and snapped it across her body off a step to put it through the middle in a remarkable effort. Meagher and Jorja Livingstone were trying hard for Eastern, with Livingstone bearing similar traits to Smith with her ability to sidestep opponents and kick it clear. The Stingrays’ defence kept holding up however, and both Georgia Grimmer and Vudiniabola got on the board late in the term. Tarni Brown had a chance in the dying seconds right on the boundary but was knocked over as she kicked it, with the ball cannoning into the behind post ensuring the Stingrays were in firm control of the contest.

It did not take long in the second half for Dandenong to keep building the lead with Richards converting her second in the opening few minutes. The drought was broken for the Ranges in response when a contest deep in the Eastern forward line produced something out of nothing with Victorian Netball League (VNL) netballer, Saskia Nannes making her mark on the game with a clever snap which bounced past a couple of defenders and home. Richards almost had a third for the Ranges, but it was touched on the way there. Meagher’s defensive work and contested ability was there throughout the four quarters, wrapping up Zoe Hill to win a free kick and subsequent 50m penalty, but her set shot drifted to the right. Not to be outdone, Smith then ran down an opponent with five minutes left in the quarter to save a certain goal, then moments later marked inside 50, 30m out on an angle. She too missed the chance to add to the lead, but Jaide Anthony did not, when a fortuitous fumble close to the line saw an opponent overrun the ball and collect her high with a subsequent snap from the free kick sailing through and the margin was 39 at the final break.

The last quarter started with more promise for the Stingrays as Vudiniabola booted her second major just 51 seconds into the contest, and Grimmer made it two for herself with a goal midway through the term with a remarkable long bomb off a snap. Unfortunately Eastern copped two injuries in the final term with players having to be helped off, but the game was done and dusted by that stage, and while a number of Ranges had impressed, it was a terrific performance from the Stingrays. Dandenong head coach, Dave Carden said it was a terrific effort from the playing group to put out the performance it did.

“It’s interesting, because you’re not really sure what to expect,” he said. “We’re such a new squad. “We had 11 debutants play their first game for the Stingrays today and we’re pretty much a brand new coaching staff. “So we’ve worked on a lot of things over the summer and it’s really been about the fundamentals. “Making sure we’re getting our kicking right under pressure. Massive focus on clean hands, but also them having the courage to take the game on. “We talked about it as players, we want them to bring their strength to the game, rather than a whole heap of structural stuff and be you. “You know what? I think they did a really, really good job right across the ground doing that.”

Smith finished with 26 disposals, four marks, five tackles, six inside 50s, two rebounds and a goal, leading the way perfectly from Amber Clarke (12 disposals, two marks and four tackles), while Grimmer, Richards and Vudiniabola all booted a couple of majors each as a damaging forward combination. Eardley was superb in defence with a couple of marks, four rebounds, five tackles and seven touches, while Matin missed a couple of chances in the third term to boot a handy three majors, but finished with 1.2 from 10 disposals and four tackles. Captain Abbey Jordan also produced a lot of one percenters, recording nine disposals and two inside 50s with a lot of hard running throughout the contest. For Eastern, Meagher was the standout with 16 disposals, two marks, five tackles and three inside 50s, well supported by Livingstone (13 disposals, two tackles) and Brown (20 disposals, three tackles). Ruby O’Dwyer (12 disposals, three inside 50s and two tackles) and Jess Grace (seven disposals, 12 hitouts) were also among Eastern’s best in the loss.

Next week the Stingrays head to Cragieburn to take on the Calder Cannons, wile Eastern has a bye in Round 2 ahead of a home match at Kilsyth against Tasmania Devils.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 2.0 | 5.3 | 7.4 | 9.4 (58)
EASTERN RANGES 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Dandenong: A. Richards 2, S. Vudiniabola 2, G. Grimmer 2, J. Matin, J. Anthony, T. Smith.
Eastern: S. Nannes.

BEST:

Dandenong: T. Smith, M. Eardley, G. Grimmer, A. Jordan, S. Vudiniabola
Eastern: O. Meagher, J. Livingstone, T. Brown, R. O’Dwyer, J. Grace

DC Medal:

5 – Tyanna Smith (DS)
4 – Olivia Meagher (ER)
3 – Mackenzie Eardley (DS)
2 – Georgia Grimmer (DS)
1 – Jorja Livingstone (ER)

Raw talent set to excite for Stingrays in 2020

DANDENONG Stingrays will have a “different feel” to them in the NAB League Girls competition this year after a large list turnover saw plenty of fresh faces make the squad for the upcoming 2020 season. Female Talent Manager, Matthew Crozier said the squad was raw but talented with plenty to like about the coming years at the club.

“It’s a bit of a different feel to it this year,” he said. “We only retained 20 to 25 players from 2019, so a lot of new kids, a lot of new faces trying to get them up to the standard. “But a really good young group.”

The three standouts that Crozier is excited to see perform this year are AFL Women’s Academy member, Tyanna Smith, as well as midfielder, Abbey Jordan and tall defender, Zoe Hill. He said the three led by example out on the track over the pre-season and were prepared for a big year which he hoped could continue to place them in the spotlight for the AFL Women’s Draft at year’s end.

“Tyanna Smith’s been pretty good,” Crozier said. “Abbey Jordan’s come back like a house on fire so pretty stoked for her at the moment. “Zoe Hill from Vic Country last year has got a lot fitter and come a long way. “Those three are hopefully going to go to Vic Country and hopefully got to a VFL club later in the year and show them what they’re made of.”

While Smith was renowned for her acceleration out of the stoppage and ability to get goal side with ball-in-hand, Crozier said she would be “thrown around” into different positions to showcase her versatility and appeal to AFL Women’s clubs. Jordan’s run and carry will become a feature in the forward half of the ground, while Hill’s ability to play well as a defender on the last line will be tested up the other end of the ground at times.

“Yeah we want to mix it up,” Crozier said. “We want to try and play her forward and give her an opportunity, but in saying that, that’s her best position and probably the position she’s going to play at Nationals. “Hopefully if all goes to plan, we’re a development program, we’ve got to try and put these girls up in lights and expose them to the AFL clubs and the national recruiters to get them there, and that’s obviously with the 16s as well.”

The Stingrays list is set to be young again in 2020, with one 19-year-old prospect a potential excitement machine all things going well.

“We have one girl who’s never played footy in her life – Serene Vudiniabola,” Crozier said. “She’s played at Haileybury at 2019 in her Year 12 year. “Previously a sprinter at about 183 (cm), she’ll be exciting but she’s not sure what she’s doing with uni yet so we’re waiting to see on that. “But for a player who never really played a competitive game, at local or in a program, she’s going to be a really good force to be reckoned with if she makes our list.”

Vudiniabola is not the only cross-coder to test their hand at Australian rules, with a couple of other talents already on the list, including an AFL Women’s National Academy member in Jaide Anthony.

“There’s a lot of basketballers and those with cricket as well like Jaide Anthony,” Crozier said. “Jess Matin who hasn’t really done much with us, but is a really good talent and hopefully going to be a bit of a smoky later during the year. “She’s never been in a NAB League program before so hopefully she has a really good year and has been touted at the next level. But she needs to prove herself here at the moment.”

Along with Anthony, there are a number of 17 and 16-year-olds that could catch the eye throughout this season and the coming years.

“We’ve got a few (bottom-agers to watch),” Crozier said. “Amber Clarke really, really good player had a good V/Line series. “Mackenzie Eardley is about six foot and she’s 15 and could play as a wing, a running wing or a running half-back. “She played a Futures Game with us last year and didn’t look out of place so hopefully this year she can push for a spot in the first side. “Another one we have in Monet Ferris who was in the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and played Under 15s for Queensland in the girls competition down in Tasmania last year. “Her family moved down at the end of last year and were looking for a club, and fortunate for us she landed right in the middle of our zone, so that was fantastic to get her. “But that bottom-age group is a really strong age group and I would expect in the coming years with the development and work we will put into these girls that they’ll push forward.”

The Stingrays season unofficially kicks off on Saturday with the first competitive hitout of the pre-season taking on the Western Jets at Seaford, followed by a second clash against Oakleigh Chargers on Sunday, February 16. Crozier said he felt it was a better tune up for the real season by having a couple of trial games.

“Last year we only had one hitout prior to the season and now I think having two, it will be more beneficial for the girls and the coaches as well,” he said. “We have a really new coaching group as well. “From last year we’ve only kept two coaches, and we’ve got another eight development coaches who are mostly female now. “We’re looking at not only developing players, but developing coaches and people as well, and females in footy.”

The Stingrays came close to sneaking into the NAB League Girls finals last season, and while Crozier admits it would be nice to play in those “marquee games”, that was not the goal of the organisation in the development league.

“I don’t really have many expectations,” he said. “It’s always good to win games but for us, it’s the cliche answer. “I couldn’t care if we were none and nine as long as we do our job, and all 48 girls on our list leave the program better than when they came in – an influence back at local or VFL or Nationals – that’s a win for us. “I know the girls and some of the coaches at times really want to be playing in those games. “They are marquee games and they get looked at by a lot more recruiters. “It would be good, but I still think Northern and Calder and those types of teams are going to be the ones to beat.”

There has been plenty of change at the club with Dave Carden coming on as head coach of the Girls’ program after success at Hawthorn in the VFL Women’s.

“He had a couple of years there and was involved with their premiership back in 2018,” Crozier said. “He’s been really good and he’s brought a couple of development coaches in with Steph Carroll – I think she captained that side in the premiership year. So she’s been a really good player transitioning into that coaching fraternity now. But she’s been really good on educating the players and what it’s like to train, especially the younger ones what the training standards are. “It’s been good.”

Dandenong Stingrays have a tough start to the 2020 NAB League season on March 1 against last year’s finalist Eastern Ranges at Beaconsfield, before facing last year’s grand finalists back-to-back in Calder Cannons and Northern Knights on the road.