Tag: maddi shaw

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 10

A HEAP of young prospects continue to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. As the NAB League season draws to an end, Round 10 saw plenty of young talent scattered across each state league side. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have recently graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 10

Hawthorn second-gamer Grace McRae was one of the more impressive current NAB Leaguers to ply their trade at senior level in Round 10, collecting 21 disposals and laying nine tackles in the Hawks’ win over Darebin. Eastern Ranges graduate Jenna Richardson was also solid with 10 touches, as Maddi Shaw and Chloe O’Malley also contributed in brown and gold. For Darebin, Calder Cannons tall Peppa Poultney turned out for her second game and managed nine hitouts.

A good number of Western Jets products continue to get a look-in for the Western Bulldogs, making an impact in their new side’s win over Carlton. Second-gamer Stephanie Asciak earned votes for her nine disposals, while Nikita Wright had 12 and took three marks, and Caitlin Sargent registered two behinds up forward. Former Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards continues to be a mainstay in red, white and blue, as Marnie Jarvis enjoys an extended run for Carlton.

Geelong’s winning streak rolled on with a sixth-straight triumph on Saturday, this time over Essendon. The likes of Paige Sheppard (18 disposals, four marks) and Tamara Smith (16 disposals, 10 tackles) again made an impression among a host of AFLW-listed talent. For Essendon, Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba each managed 15 touches, with the latter also booting a goal. Bendigo Pioneers top-ager Jemma Finning also made her debut in the sash with five disposals and five tackles.

Despite going down in an upset loss to Southern Saints, Port Melbourne managed to field some promising youngsters on Saturday. Dandenong Stingrays pair Jaide Anthony (10 disposals, four marks) and Ash Richards (one goal) made their debuts, playing against NAB League teammate Jemma Radford. Emily Harley was named best afield for the Borough as one of a few former NAB Leaguers in this game to have also been drafted. Meanwhile, Gabby De Angelis impressed for the Saints with 15 disposals, four marks, and five tackles.

In Collingwood’s big win over North Melbourne, tall utility Neve O’Connor took on some added ruck duties to finish with a game-high 23 hitouts, far and away her best return in that department for 2021. North was served well by Ciara Fitzgerald (13 disposals, three marks), as Jayde Hamilton earned consecutive appearances, and Tasmanian Camilla Taylor made her return.

Casey was served well by a couple of young talls in Bridie Winbanks (30 hitouts) and debutant Grace Matser (16), while the latter named among her side’s best players. Emma Horne also got her hands dirty for the Demons with six tackles, while Ruby Tripodi was among Williamstown’s better performers as a bunch of GWS-listed talent hit the state league.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 9

A HEAP of young prospects continue to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. While the NAB League finals commenced, Round 9 saw plenty of young talent scattered across each state league side. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have recently graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 9

Essendon’s thumping win over Carlton saw a quartet of graduates get their hands dirty in the red and black. Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Elizabeth Snell continues to impress, with 12 disposals and nine tackles capping her latest effort. Meanwhile, Alana Barba matched the Country coup for tackles, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Tamsin Crook each managed nine touches. For Carlton, Marnie Jarvis also worked hard for seven disposals and seven tackles.

Not only did Port Melbourne return to the winners list this past weekend, but Sophie Locke also returned to the scoresheet with 1.2 from 14 touches against Darebin, in what was her second game back. Recently delisted Richmond forward Emily Harley showed her worth with a bag of four goals, as fellow former AFLW players Cleo Saxon-Jones and Bridie Kennedy both contributed six disposals in the win.

Geelong inflicted the round’s biggest margin of victory with a 75-point drubbing of the Western Bulldogs, who fielded two debutants. Current Western Jets prospects Caitlin Sargent (nine disposals, one goal) and Trinity Skenderis (five disposals) ran out alongside fellow NAB Leaguer Jemima Woods, while mainstay Brooke Hards played a defensive role on Stephanie Williams. For Geelong, Tamara Smith (17 disposals, eight tackles, two goals) and Paige Sheppard (22 disposals, one goal) were among the standouts.

The Casey Demons were also big winners on Saturday, with tall Bridie Winbanks playing an important role. She managed 29 hitouts, while Emma Horne seeing the ball six times throughout. In North’s blue and white, Jayde Hamilton returned to the fold after representing the Allies and GWS Academy, while Ciara Fitzgerald had eight touches and laid two tackles.

A hardened Collingwood side trounced Williamstown in Saturday’s final fixture, but it was the Seagulls who fielded the more NAB League graduates. Among them, tall talent Tahlia Merrett (seven disposals, three tackles, eight hitouts) was named her side’s best, while midfielder Ruby Tripodi also featured in the votes for her eight disposals and 10 tackles.

Sunday’s standalone fixture saw the Southern Saints get past Hawthorn, with the Hawks fielding a debutant in the fighting loss. Gippsland Power product and Vic Country representative Grace McRae was the player in question, managing 11 disposals and five tackles. Chloe O’Malley (11 disposals, five tackles, one goal) was also impressive in the brown and gold, as Jenna Richardson and Maddi Shaw also featured. For the Saints, Gabriella De Angelis, Amelia Peck, and Grace Hodder all turned out once again.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 9 preview: Youngsters set for debut as AFLW talent filters back

SEVERAL NAB League Girls players make their Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s debuts in Round 9, as more AFL Women’s talents filter back to the state league competition.

ESSENDON vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

In the opening game of the round, Essendon and Carlton clash at Windy Hill in a weekend that will see plenty of opportunities for the rivals to go head-to-head. Ruby Svarc is a crucial in for the Bombers returning after spending her season in Queensland with the Brisbane Lions, and she could well be given the job on Grace Egan who makes her return to state level for the Blues. Searching for a win against a pretty impressive Bombers outfit this season, Carlton has also added Abbie McKay to the side, with the likes of Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans steady in the defence. Georgia Nanscawen has overcome the injury that kept her out for the past couple of weeks, whilst Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell is back for another week, with Pioneers teammate Jemma Finning named as an emergency and expected to make a VFLW debut in the coming weeks. The Bombers will be favoured in this clash with the return of Nanscawen and playing at home.

DAREBIN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 1 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder clash at midday, with the one-win Darebin team taking on a Port Melbourne side coming off its first loss to Casey Demons last week. After gaining Jess Dal Pos back from AFL Women’s last week, the Falcons will be keen to give it all they have against a pretty strong Borough outfit. Nicole Callinan has been an important inclusion for Darebin this season, with Stephanie Simpson and Samara David targets up forward. The Borough just have so much depth, and an incredible forward line led by key targets, Sabrina Frederick and Emily Harley, and reliable source of goals from Sophie Locke. Sophie Molan has returned to state level for the visitors, with GWS GIANTS’ Katherine Smith also set to make her debut for Port Melbourne, in a team that has some how found a way to get stronger. Given the inclusions for the Borough, it is hard to see them dropping this game, but it will be a great test for the Falcons.

GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 1 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

In the longest road trip of the season for the Western Bulldogs, the back-to-back winners take on an in-form Geelong outfit who remain in contention for a top two spot in this season. Since the AFL Women’s season has concluded, the Western Bulldogs have not mucked around with rotating their elite talents, and whilst Elisabeth Georgostathis rotates out of the side this week, the visitors will welcome back Isabella Grant, Isabelle Pritchard and Annabel Strahan, while Jess Fitzgerald has cheekily been named as an emergency so could well be coming into the side soon. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods comes back into the team after her three-goal debut a fortnight ago, and she will be joined by Caitlin Sargent (four goals in NAB League last week) and Trinity Skenderis. The Cats have kept a strong midfield, but have brought in Amy McDonald, whilst giving Sophie Van de Heuvel a rest. Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner still form a dominant group in there, and with Stephanie Williams, Georgia Clarke and the return of Richelle Cranston up forward, the Cats have plenty of firepower. This is a really tight game, and Geelong should be favourites, but the strength of the Bulldogs team means the visitors could cause an upset and make it three wins on the trot.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

Casey Demons showed what they are capable of last week by rolling Port Melbourne to inflict the Borough’s first defeat of the season, whilst North Melbourne dominated Carlton, keeping the Blues to just one goal for the game. With the teams coming into good form, on paper it looks to be a great match but the Demons have really stacked their side with AFL Women’s talent, as Libby Birch, Brenna Tarrant and Shelley Heath are named in defence, Eden Zanker joined Maddison Gay in the midfield, and Alyssa Bannan and Casey Sherriff are up forward. The Roos have mostly kept a consistent lineup of players on the cusp of AFLW footy, though Beth Lynch is an important cog in defence. Bella Eddey is getting some extra minutes running around for the VFLW team, whilst Jayde Hamilton returns from the AFLW Under 19 Championships to play alongside sister Alexia. If North Melbourne can get up in this one it will be the Roos’ best scalp of the season, but with Essendon sniffing around Casey’s recently acquired fourth spot, the Demons must hold onto the place by winning this one.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Downer Oval

Williamstown is the next challenger up to try and knock off Collingwood as the undefeated Magpies rose in the final term to see off Essendon and grab another win in Round 8. The Magpies have plenty of reasons to get up in this game, with 2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid behind the helm of the 2019 wooden spooners side this season. She will have her work cut out for her against a red-hot Magpies lineup, which features both Amelia Velardo and Aliesha Newman who copped knocks last week but have recovered to play. Abbi Moloney returns to the side with Joanna Lin, Maddi Shevlin and Imogen Purcell among the other Collingwood AFLW talents outside the two key forwards in Sophie Alexander and Bella Smith. The Seagulls have some terrific VFLW talent, with Erin Meade, Megan Williamson, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players in the competition, but it will be whether or not they can make the most of their chances as the Pies will give their forwards plenty, particularly after the form of Marla Neal last week who shone in the win at The Hangar. Hard to see the Pies dropping this one, though the Seagulls are strong defensively and will not make it easy for them.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 2 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

The standalone Sunday fixture pits the sixth placed Southern Saints in a must-win fixture against Hawthorn who got up in Meg Hutchins‘ 250th match last week. The Saints cling onto the lowest finals spot – albeit with plenty of time left in the season – and will need to win this one to give themselves some security there. However the Hawks have some tall targets in Hutchins and Tamara Luke up forward, with the dangerous Kristy Stratton and Jessie Williams capable of kicking multiple goals. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae makes her debut for the brown and gold following the conclusion of the NAB League Girls’ season, with another former Gippsland leader in Maddi Shaw running around for the brown and gold. Georgia Bevan, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch have plenty to prove in this game as they look for another chance at AFL Women’s level, with the latter two having played for the Saints at this level earlier this season. For the Saints, they went down to the reformed Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval last Friday and will look to bounce back with Tara Bohanna and Renee Saulitis providing that tall and small option inside 50. Alice Burke and Tahlia Meyer rack up the ball each and every week, and Hannah Stewart has been enjoying a nice season this year at VFLW level. This game could go either way with the Saints ranked higher, but the Hawks are forming a really strong list as the season goes on.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 4

A HEAP of young prospects are set to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition in 2021, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 4 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

The Western Bulldogs have blooded plenty of youth across all levels in 2021 and that was no different on Saturday, though the young pups went down to Williamstown. Former Richmond player Nekaela Butler made her debut in red, white, and blue, joining a strong contingent of NAB League graduates in the side. Nikita Wright booted a goal, while Brooke Hards tackled strongly and former Sandringham pair Molly Denahy Maloney and Margie Purcell also featured.

For Williamstown, Western Jets product Ruby Tripodi continued her promising season with a performance good enough to earn votes, with former Bendigo Pioneers standout Megan Williamson also a key part of the Seagulls’ cause.

Sophie Locke booted three majors as Port Melbourne claimed the scalp of Geelong on Saturday evening, putting her clear atop the VFLW goalkicking charts. Former Carlton-listed utility Bridie Kennedy also got back into action for the Borough in their win. For Geelong, the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard have established their spots among a talented team which should feature in finals.

Casey fielded a strong side in its win over the Southern Saints on Sunday, with Emma Horne among the standout VFLW-listed youngsters to run out. Meanwhile, Gabby De Angelis returned in the red, white and black after missing last week as Grace Hodder continues to feature at the level.

A Carlton squad stacked with AFLW talent trumped North Melbourne for its second-straight win, pushing some young prospects out of the side. On the other hand, North welcomed Jayde Hamilton back to the fold for her second state league outing after NAB League commitments, while former Richmond defender Ciara Fitzgerald was again named in the votes.

Essendon’s mix of experience and youth shone through in the Bombers’ comprehensive 67-point victory over Darebin, marking their third win for the season. Former Calder Cannons teammates Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore both snared two goals in the victory, with Barba also named in the votes alongside Grace Dicker. Murray graduate Eloise Ashley-Cooper was also among the action in red and black.

In the final game of the round, Collingwood held off a pesky Hawthorn unit to win by 15 points and remain undefeated, with Olivia Meagher and Neve O’Connor both taking the field in black and white. Hawthorn had some strong contributions from Chloe O’Malley and Maddi Shaw, with the versatile Lauren Szigeti also in the thick of things.

Image Credit: Peter Bratuskins/Port Melbourne FC

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 3

A HEAP of young prospects are set to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition in 2021, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 3 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

The Western Bulldogs were again littered with former NAB League talent, but the young pups were soundly outdone by a surging Collingwood side on Friday night. On a positive note for the Bulldogs, Margie Purcell came in for her first game and ended as one of three goalkickers alongside former Sandringham teammate, Molly Denahy Maloney.

2020 Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards gave it everything up forward and through midfield, while Nikita Wright continues to establish her spot. For Collingwood, current Eastern Ranges midfielder Olivia Meagher was again amongst the action and booted a goal in the big win, as tall prospect Neve O’Connor got a third game for the season under her belt.

Standalone rivals Essendon and Hawthorn both fielded some promising NAB League graduates, with the Bombers’ batch proving particularly impactful in their win at The Hangar. Debutant and current Bendigo midfielder Elizabeth Snell was named among the votes alongside Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba. The latter’s ex-Calder teammate, Felicity Theodore also popped up with a goal.

In the brown and gold, Lauren Szigeti‘s strong start to the season continued as she was named among her side’s best players for the third time in as many games. She played a key role as Hawthorn’s prime inside midfielder. Jemma Owen, Maddi Shaw, and Chloe O’Malley were among the other graduates to suit up for the Hawks as they suffered a second loss.

Casey enjoyed a big win over North Melbourne on Saturday, aided by some impactful senior-listed stars. Emma Horne and Bridie Winbanks both notched their third appearances for the Demons, contributing to their side’s second win. Former Richmond youngster Ciara Fitzgerald finished as North’s lone goalkicker and earned votes, while Western Jets defender Marli Klaumanns-Moller ran out for her third VFLW outing in blue and white.

Geelong Falcons pair Annie Lee and Renee Tierney earned VFLW berths with the Cats, with the former being recognised among her team’s best players in the low-scoring victory. Tamara Smith was also influential for Geelong, while Paige Sheppard continues to return promising form in the hoops. Amelia Peck and Grace Hodder were again among Southern Saints’ contingent, battling away in the tough conditions.

Sophie Locke took her season goal tally up to six with two majors in Port Melbourne’s win over traditional rival, Williamstown on Saturday. Fellow Murray Bushrangers product, Kate Adams is another promising youngster to have suited up for the Borough, as Williamstown fielded similarly good youth.

The Seagulls had some high-level youngsters afield too, with Ruby Tripodi again a key figure at the coalface, while the dynamic Megan Williamson earned votes alongside talented forward Tahlia Merrett. Geelong Falcons product Zoe Garth also notched her second game after previously turning out in the NAB League in 2021.

Carlton had a couple of up-and-comers make their third-straight appearances on the season as senior-listed talent continues to filter through, with Amber Micallef and Taylah Kolevski contributing in the Blues’ maiden win for 2021.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 2

A HEAP of young prospects are set to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition in 2021, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 2 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

Geelong picked up its first points for season 2021 on Saturday afternoon, defeating standalone side Williamstown by 40 points. The Cats had some AFLW-listed talent to come from the NAB League, as well as Geelong Falcons graduate Paige Sheppard. The midfield-forward earned votes for the second week running in what has been a promising start to her year.

Williamstown blooded a Falcons product of its own in the form of Zoe Garth, who has played three NAB League games this year. Tahlia Merrett came into the team and was among the Seagulls’ best, while Megan Williamson and Ruby Tripodi also played roles for the losing side.

Promising Eastern Ranges midfielder Olivia Meagher was given an opportunity for Collingwood after her dominant Under 19s form, as the Magpies defeated Southern Saints by 22 points. Meanwhile, former Northern Knights tall Neve O’Connor played her second game running in the black and white as she continues her development.

Gabby De Angelis backed up from a goal in last week’s outing to be among the Southern Saints’ best players on the day, though she did not hit the scoreboard this time out. Versatile former Oakleigh tall Amelia Peck was again among the Saints’ lineup, as was Grace Hodder who started at half-back.

Essendon’s winning lineup featured a bunch of fairly recent NAB League talent, including a trio of ex-Calder Cannons. Among them, Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore each snared a goal in the win over Casey, with Grace Dicker rounding out the trio in her maiden appearance. Murray product Eloise Ashley-Cooper also suited up for her second game, as did Bridie Winbanks for Casey.

A promising young Western Bulldogs side fell short of North Melbourne on Sunday morning, as the Kangaroos earned their first points in 2021. Former Richmond player and Northern Knights graduate Ciara Fitzgerald ran out for her first game in blue and white, kicking a goal on debut. Western prospect Marli Klaumanns-Moller was also fielded as she continues to link with the state league side.

For the Bulldogs, a strong contingent of AFLW-listed NAB League products made their mark, while a few budding stars also contributed. Among them, 2020 Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards battled away up forward, while Molly Denahy Moloney and Western’s Nikita Wright again donned the red, white and blue in Round 2.

Hawthorn was another team to win for the first time in 2021, and had some strong young talent on show. Lauren Szigeti was among the Hawks’ best rotating through midfield from defence, as she and Jemma Owen both snagged goals. Maddi Shaw returned to the lineup, while Chloe O’Malley played her second game, and Eastern products Isabelle KhouryTilly Hardy and Jess Grace all earned VFLW berths among a raft of changes.

Former Murray forward Sophie Locke lit up the attacking half for Port Melbourne with three goals as the Borough thumped Carlton on Sunday afternoon. Ex-Carlton AFLW utility Bridie Kennedy had her first outing for the standalone side, while Kate Adams featured once again after her promising start for Port in Round 1.

Marnie Jarvis was a late inclusion for Carlton and was among a few players to show glimpses in the loss. Meanwhile, Amber Micallef again ran through midfield for the Blues, as Teagan Brett and Taylah Kolevski rounded out the former NAB League players to feature in Round 2.

2021 VFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Pies, Saints battle to keep perfect records

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolls on into Round 2 this weekend, with six fixtures spread evenly across Saturday and Sunday. Southern Saints and Collingwood clash in the only meeting between two week one winners, while the likes of Casey Demons and Port Melbourne will look to build on the strong starts which have them poised atop the ladder. We take you through all the key players and factors across each game in our weekend preview.

Collingwood vs. Southern Saints
Saturday March 6, 12:00pm
Victoria Park

Collingwood and Southern Saints will make up the sole clash between two Round 1 winners when they lock horns at Victoria Park on Saturday. The Magpies held on to win by two points last week, while the Saints also held strong to beat Essendon and start 2021 on just the right note.

After a four-goal performance, Collingwood forward Imogen Barnett will look to back up her early form alongside the likes of Matilda Zander and senior-listed ruck Bella Smith. Eastern Ranges midfielder Olivia Meagher looms as a promising inclusion for the Magpies, named at the heart of the side after making three NAB League appearances this season.

The Saints will have at least three changes with St Kilda-listed guns Jess Matin, Poppy Kelly, and Rebecca Ott all in line for senior call-ups after promising VFLW displays. Canadian small forward Valerie Moreau is one to watch in the red, white and black having booted two majors on debut last week, but the going will be tough with some key outs against a dangerous Collingwood side.

Geelong vs. Williamstown
Saturday March 6, 12:00pm
Deakin University, Waurn Ponds

Williamstown will hope to continue its winning form as it travels to take on Geelong at Deakin University on Saturday afternoon. The Seagulls, who won by two points last week, meet a side in Geelong which lost by the same margin in Round 1 despite a strong finish and the formidable young talent afield.

As an AFLW-aligned team, the Cats will see some key changes to their opening round lineup – starting with the absence of Olivia Barber, Rene Caris, Laura Gardiner, and Darcy Moloney. Senior-listed forwards Stephanie Williams and Maddie Boyd provide some relief, while Geelong Falcons product Renee Tierney also enters the fray as another exciting option.

Williamstown also has some promising young talent to call upon, with its own Falcons coup in Zoe Garth named in defence. Tahlia Merrett is another handy inclusion and promises to provide a touch more firepower up forward, while Danika Di Santo may also get a look in from an extended interchange bench. Despite their current records, Geelong looks the team to beat in this clash.

Casey Demons vs. Essendon
Saturday March 6, 1:00pm
Casey Fields

Casey returns home for its Round 2 clash with Essendon on Saturday afternoon, looking to keep its perfect record in tact. The Demons were comprehensive after half time in their win over Carlton last week, while the Bombers showed some good fight and maturity in their opening round loss to Southern Saints.

Five-goal hero Brenna Tarrant is a key out for Casey after helping kick her side into gear, but the Demons will inject Niamh McEvoy into their forwardline this week. Maggie Caris and Megan Fitzsimon are other senior-listed players to watch through the spine of the side, while Samantha Johnson will again lead from midfield.

The Bombers look to be combining well after experiencing a touch more continuity than other teams, with the likes of Courtney Ugle and Cecilia McIntosh senior players who made a difference last week. They will go around once again, with Mia-Rae Clifford one to watch after a goalless outing and Grace Dicker a promising youngster also entering the fray. The test of another aligned team will be good for the Bombers, who can hopefully compete strongly.

North Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs
Sunday March 7, 9:30am
Arden Street Oval

Sunday’s first fixture sees North Melbourne host a second-straight home game, as the Western Bulldogs come to town in a morning meeting. The Kangaroos were outdone by new team, Port Melbourne in Round 1, but the Bulldogs fared much better with an impressive win over Hawthorn.

Former Richmond-listed youngster Ciara Fitzgerald will make her first appearance for North, who have also called upon Jayde Hamilton and will make at least two changes. Tasmanian Sarah Skinner is one to keep an eye on after her opening round performance, providing terrific drive on the outer.

A trio of senior-listed Bulldogs make way this week through injury and otherwise, but Britney Gutknecht remains after her best afield showing. Louise Bibby and Megan Chadwick are a couple of handy inclusions in the red, white and blue, with at least three changes to be made. The Dogs have some quality running about, but should face a hungry North side looking to bounce back quickly.

Darebin vs. Hawthorn
Sunday March 7, 11:30am
La Trobe University, Bundoora

Two standalone sides are set to do battle in the first game of a La Trobe University double-header, with Darebin taking on Hawthorn at its Bundoora home. Both sides suffered losses in Round 1 but showed promise, with the Falcons falling just short of Williamstown in a low-scoring slog, while Hawthorn fell to a strong Western Bulldogs outfit.

Darebin’s lineup will remain fairly steady following its opening effort in 2021, with just one change expected. Rachel Harris comes into the lineup via the interchange bench, hopefully making a difference for the women’s footballing pioneers. Finishing will be a key area of focus for the Falcons, so watch for Hayley Munro to impact should she be able to capitalise on her chances.

Hawthorn will be forced into a raft of changes this week, with none bigger than skipper Jess Trend missing through injury. The experienced Abbey Holmes is also out along with Dominique Carbone. The likes of Chloe Bain and Olivia Flanagan should provide some respite along with Maddi Shaw, while Eastern Ranges prospects Isabelle Khoury, Tilly Hardy and Jess Grace are promising inclusions. Should they settle amid said changes, the Hawks should prove tough to beat.

Carlton vs. Port Melbourne
Sunday March 7, 2:30pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

The round’s final game sees Carlton take on Port Melbourne at La Trobe University on Sunday afternoon, with the Blues out to claim their first points in 2021. Their opening round loss to Casey was a far cry from Port’s momentous maiden win over North Melbourne, which makes this contest a tough one to call.

The Blues will make a couple of changes, building on their initial lineup. Experienced senior player Jess Edwards should serve the defence well alongside leaders Jen Lew and Ally Bild, while Paige Trudgeon looks to impact once again after her two-goal outing and Winnie Laing promises to provide plenty of outside run.

The Borough will lose their Round 1 spearhead in Christina Bernardi as she looks to crack the Richmond side, but former Carlton utility Bride Kennedy is a promising inclusion. Melissa Kuys will again be Port’s key player at the heart of the lineup, helping lead some promising young talent listed at AFLW and VFLW level.

Image Credit: Collingwood FC Media

Youth set to take next step in VFL Women’s competition

TWELVE players who received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but missed out on being picked up by clubs will test themselves in the new-look Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition starting this weekend. Of the 12 players, five of them remain on NAB League lists as top-agers, whilst the others are purely focused on their VFL Women’s commitments in 2021.

Carlton have a trio of players who received Draft Combine invites last year, in Gippsland Power duo Nikia Webber and Shanara Notman, and Oakleigh Chargers defender Amber Micallef. Webber and Notman have received a couple of Combine invites in the past, with the key position talents strong overhead and both having represented Vic Country in the past. Notman played Round 1 with the Power, but is also a skilled basketballer. Micallef stepped up in 2020 to provide great outside run albeit in only the two games she was able to play, becoming a crucial cog in the Chargers’ rebound.

The other team with multiple 2020 AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites is Southern Saints, with Dandenong Stingrays teammates Zoe Hill and Abbey Jordan both in the red, white and black for season 2021. The duo are still on the Stingrays’ NAB League Girls lists and made a strong start to the season last round, with Hill a Vic Country Under 18s key position defender at bottom-age level, and Jordan a speedy winger who has been moved inside to increase her versatility this year.

Another player still on a NAB League list but is testing herself at state league level is Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae who will suit up for Hawthorn in 2021. The hardnut inside midfielder had a massive Round 1 game for the Power, but has moved closer to the city for work this year and will look to join the likes of form Power player, Maddi Shaw at the brown and gold.

Meanwhile Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher will head to Collingwood, with the 2020 Eastern Ranges captain already having an impact in her two games at NAB League level this season. A fierce onballer, Meagher will have no troubles stepping up to the level and will be one to watch through the onball brigade at the Pies.

Another inside midfielder and former NAB League captain stepping up to the VFL Women’s in 2021 is Brooke Hards who will play with the Western Bulldogs this season. The Bendigo Pioneers co-captain last year and Vic Country Under 18s representative as a bottom-ager two seasons ago will look to bring a similar fierce attack to the Bulldogs midfield as another country player who has moved closer to the city for studies.

Calder Cannons’ Alana Barba will once again head to Essendon after not being able to get out on the park last season, but still earning a Draft Combine invitation as a 19-year-old. A tackling machine like Hards, Barba has grown through the Vic Metro program and will team up alongside a heap of current Calder Cannons players who will don the red and black this year. She is joined at the Bombers by Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning who was impressive in a new role at half-back last season, and has been back at the Pios thus far in 2021.

Having quite the pathway, Courteney Bromage has returned to Victoria after a stint in Queensland last year, with the ex-Carlton talent trying out at Port Melbourne. She will provide plenty of experience for the league’s newest side as they look to have an impact from the get-go.

Speaking of travelling, there will be a sister act at North Melbourne, with Jayde Hamilton the other Draft Combine invite from last year. Representing Eastern Allies as a bottom-ager in 2019, the inside midfielder will join sister and ex-Gold Coast Suns tall Alexia Hamilton at the Roos in 2021.

There are also plenty of current NAB League Girls who have been named on various VFL Women’s lists for the upcoming season. Essendon VFL Women’s have been flushed with an array of Calder talents, including AFL Women’s Academy members Georgie Prespakis and Tahlia Gillard, as well as the likes of Kasey Lennox, Neve Crowley, Grace Dicker, Emelia Yassir and Zali Friswell. The Bombers also have recruited Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell. Another Calder talent in Peppa Poultney has opted to stick with her junior club and follow into Darebin Falcons’ VFL Women’s program.

Geelong has unsurprisingly recruited a number of Falcons to its list, with Renee Tierney already lightning up the NAB League Girls with a couple of big outings in the opening two matches. Defender Annie Lee and midfielder Tess Craven are also among the Falcons best performed in the opening couple of games and could easily have an impact at state league level. They are joined by Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Chloe Leonard who has also been in great form.

Eastern Ranges Isabelle Khoury, Matilda Hardy and Jess Grace have all signed on to Hawthorn’s VFL Women’s list, whilst Darwin Buffettes talent and former Central Allies representative Dominique Carbone has also decided to head to the Hawks this season. A former and current Murray Bushrangers duo of Kate Adams and Sophie Locke will run out for Port Melbourne, while Geelong Falcons’ Zoe Garth will test herself at Williamstown.

Other current NAB League Girls players on lists include Oakleigh Chargers’ Kalarni Kearns who will head to Collingwood, and Western Jets’ Nikita Wright will suit up for the Western Bulldogs. One name who might fly under the radar but has switched states is Collingwood’s Matilda Zander who has finally made her way to the Pies from Norwood after attempting to do so last year before the full state lockdown went into place.

With plenty of young talent on show in the VFL Women’s competition, there is plenty to get excited about across the league, and it all kicks off on Saturday.

Shaw eyes positives after disappointing 2020 season

IT has been disappointing year for most Victorian footballers, with few getting a chance to really test themselves competitively. In most cases for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites they have been able to get out on the field and stake their case to be drafted in tomorrow’s 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Unfortunately for players such as former Gippsland Power and Hawthorn VFL Women’s talent Maddi Shaw, she has not been able to get on the park due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Shaw is an over-age prospect who missed out on being picked up in last year’s draft, admitting she was “not ready” to make the next step up to the elite level. But with a big preseason behind her she hoped to be prepared to tackle 2020 in a huge way.

“My plan was to do really, really well in preseason,” Shaw said. “So I really worked quite hard in preseason, really wanted to better myself because I knew last year I was not ready at all. “I was like ‘this year I need to get myself ready’ and become one of those better footballers and make sure I was training really hard, and then coming into the season at my peak. “Making sure I was fitter than I’ve ever been, stronger than I’ve ever been. “But also physically and mentally ready as I’d already had that season to prepare myself and I knew what I was looking forward to.”

It was her first proper full uninterrupted preseasons and her hope to kick-start the year off in style was positive. Despite missing out on being drafted, Shaw said she did not want to look too far ahead other than to have it as a long-term goal, and rather focus on the here and now.

“(I wanted to) just make sure I had a really good preseason, as the last few preseasons I had interruptions and I went to Cambodia, not that that’s an excuse to not be fit, but just making sure I was really prepared and then going into it knowing I was playing for Hawthorn and not aiming for anything other than where I was now and doing my best on each weekend and then looking to the future as it came closer, so trying to work in the moment,” she said.

Her transition from the Power at NAB League Girls level to the VFL Women’s has been a great learning curve, with Shaw getting the opportunity to move through the pathway at local level, through interleague, as well as the elite junior competition and then state-level program.

“It was a bit intimidating at first,” Shaw said. “Walking in as a 17-year-old it was a bit scary, but I had a lot of support around me. “I feel like it was a lot easier than I anticipated. “My experience at Hawthorn’s been awesome, has been really helpful and taught me a lot. “Fitness wise and as an athlete, learning how to take care of my body and also as a footballer. “I’ve learnt so much from not only coaches, but players as well.” 

She said learning off experienced players such as Talia Radan, as well as AFL Women’s premiership coach Bec Goddard and highly respected operator and VFL Women’s premiership coach Paddy Hill, was a great experience for her development.

“You feel really at home in a way so they really help you develop and you have this relationship with them where you can trust everything that they’re saying,” Shaw said. “There’s no second guessing, I like the fact I can walk into training, get my feedback and then go to training, fix what I need to fix, come back and play as a better person. “I don’t have to chase up feedback, they’re always with you and supporting you.”

Picture: Supplied

Like many people, Shaw figured when the season was first postponed, that it would come back in some capacity, but then the disappointment set in and she was resigned to the fact that she would not be able to test herself at the level.

“When it first got postponed I assumed we would only have a few weeks off and we’d be back on track sooner or later,” Shaw said. “But that was definitely not the case, so I was very disappointed when I got there and they told us at training, because I felt like I’d done pretty well throughout preseason and I’d worked hard. “It was kind of hard, you think that that time was wasted, like it definitely wasn’t, but it was very disheartening that we weren’t able to showcase what we’d done throughout preseason. It was really disappointing, but I’m sure we’ll get another chance next year.”

Shaw has always kept a positive mindset when it comes to her football career, never losing sight of being drafted, but also keeping an eye on her present situation to try and produce the best football she can for her side.

“I’d love to get drafted, that’s definitely something I’d really, really want to do,” Shaw said. “I’d also really want to do well in the VFL. “I want to provide and be a high-level player in my team so I can always be trusted to do my job and play my role at Hawthorn and as much as individually I want to get drafted, but as a team at Hawthorn I really just want us to do well and get back to that premiership that we got in 2017, not that I was involved.”

Shaw said her greatest strength was to take on feedback and adapt to whatever role her coaches needed. In terms of on-field traits, Shaw has good athleticism and can provide run out of defence and has been particularly focused on improving her offensive side and developing from a defensive player into a utility.

The Hawks’ teenager said she had been working diligently on her fitness over the break in preparation for the 2021 VFL Women’s season, with help from Hawthorn as well as her university.

“I’ve just been trying to maintain my fitness, so obviously not trying to push myself too hard, we’re going to go into preseason and I don’t want to overwork myself, but really working on my running, keeping my legs ticking over and pushing my body in a way to maintain my readiness coming into preseason,” Shaw said. “Hopefully not get too much of a shock.”

She described 2020 as a “learning curve” and said there was always an opportunity to get drafted regardless of age. Shaw herself sets short-term goals to accompany her long-term aim of being drafted, and said whether it was being selected in the Hawks’ side, having a statistical goal or providing a particular effort for her team, she was always ticking off short-term goals.

As for evolving her game, Shaw still has plenty of belief she has what it takes to make the AFL Women’s in the future.

“I just want to become better, I just want to get drafted,” Shaw said. “That’s going to be my target and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get there. “I’m willing to put in extra hours of training, learn new skills, I really just want to make it because I know that I can because I have the right support around me.”

Shaw is not alone when it comes to disappointment of not having a season to try and improve her form, and she said while some might be tempted to question their future in the sport, she was confident the pendulum would swing back and opportunities would arise in the future.

“I don’t think a lot of people have really turned their back on footy because we’ve missed a whole season,” Shaw said. “I’ve heard a lot of girls who have commented on like ‘maybe this isn’t for me, I’ve missed a whole year, maybe I’m not ready’. “I think a lot of people just think to try and click that reset button and try and push again and try again because there’s always going to be an opportunity that is going to come out of hard work I reckon, so making sure everyone keeps going this year as much as it’s been really hard.”

Scouting notes: NAB League Girls – Round 2

ROUND 2 of the NAB League Girls competition played out on the weekend, and we were at four of the six games taking a look at the players highlighted by respective talent managers as ones to watch throughout the season and beyond. For the two games we did not get to, we recapped how some of the players performed statistically for the sides.

 

GWV Rebels vs. Calder Cannons

By: Peter Williams

GWV:

#9 Renee Saulitis

Started in attack opposed to Georgie Prespakis, and kicked a great goal in the last minute of the term. She showed great game smarts to toe tap the ball to her advantage, then get the right spin on it to kick it off the ground, and for it to dribble around the goal post for the Rebels’ first major of the day, from a tight angle. Saulitis pushed further up the ground as the game went on and played through the midfield, even winning possession at half-back and kicking cleanly to the wing. She did get bumped off the ball a little too easy in a marking contest, but once the ball hits the ground, she is in her element.

#10 Ella Wood

Impressive game through the midfield, especially early on when the game was even. Her kicking inside 50 was very solid and set up Renee Saulitis for a mark, and continued to relentlessly attack the ball throughout the match. In the second term she had two instances of great courage where she flew back into a marking contest, then if she got knocked down, got straight up again. She worked hard around the ground and presented as an option from kick-ins, and a perfect representation of her second efforts was when her kick was smothered in defence, she followed up to lay a tackle on her opponent and force a throw-in.

#24 Sophie Molan

A big game for the tireless leader who had the ball on a string for a lot of hte day. Her clearance work in particular stood out, and she won a number of free kicks for being held around the stoppages. Molan spent time at full-forward, but was most effective when in the middle extracting the ball from the coal face. She regularly put her body on the line and moved well in tight, showing great vision and football IQ in one instance to handball clear to a teammate while under pressure. Her second efrorrts in attack saw her lay a big tackle, win a free kick for holding the ball then Molan played on and kicked a great goal.

#35 Maggie Caris

A promising game from the developing ruck, who won a bit of the football around the ground as well as dominating in the ruck. She won countless hitouts, and was able to extract a ball from traffic inside 50 and kick it deep in the forward line. Caris’ standout feature is her clean hitout ability, able to get a full hand to the ball such is her height and leap ability over her opponents.

Calder:

#2 Felicity Theodore

A terrific game from the Cannons mid/forward who just got better as the game went on. While Georgie Prespakis’ name was the one to be thrown around for her seven goals, Theodore was the clear second best with some huge efforts, including multiple goal assists to Prespakis, and kicking a goal of her own. She had other chances as well but just missed out on converting late in the game. The piece of play that best exemplified her impact was where she won the ball inside 50 in the third term, but insitead of blazing away and only looking for the goals, lowered the eyes and put it to Prespakis’ advantage. She combined immediately after with a similar play, bursting out of a stoppage to pop it up above Prespakis who marked and goaled again.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

Back into the team after Round 1, Patrikios was used sparingly early, starting on the bench in the first and second terms, and then rotating across the ground on the grandstand side. She played on the outside to use her skills to advantage. Patrikios has that ability to make time stop and can turn opponents inside out and seemingly casually side step them without too much trouble. Her vision and skill execution was impressive and came as no surprise, and with a game under her belt, she will be better going forward.

#41 Georgie Prespakis

Seven goals in the second half, a match winning performance. There is not much you can say about her performance other than dominance when at full-forward. She is strong and clean in the air, quick at ground level and has an innate goal sense when to go and when to pass. She remarkably started in defence on Renee Saulitis in the first term, moved into the middle in the second, then played out of the goalsquare in the last half. Prespakis has a powerful kick and once she has front position in a marking contest, it is hard to stop her. Of her seven goals, most came from set shots, but she produced a few tricks, including one where she was being dragged down by a couple of opponents and she managed to get a kick away between a couple more for it to go in, as well as her next one where she was corralled into the boundary, but had the speed to take on her opponent run around and kick into the open goal. Prespakis had a couple of opportunities late in the game to break the record and kick a couple more goals, but seeing her teammates with the ball were in better positions, she just pointed to the goals and let her teammates get on the board.

 

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Taylah Melki

Northern Knights:

#6 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan showed a good ability to get boot to ball and helped to propel the footy forward on multiple occasions throughout the game. She worked hard at the stoppages and displayed her strong marking ability in the 50. She provided plenty of good leads and opened up space. She impressed in one passage of play where she was taken in a tackle and stood strong while getting dragged down to throw the ball on her boot and kick into the Knights forward 50. She protected the drop of the ball and showcased her good footy smarts to read the play and get into a good position. Kicked a good goal in the third after breaking away from the pack and nailing the shot.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Sansonetti proved that she could read the flight of the ball well and contested hard in the air. She showed good attack on the footy and worked hard throughout the game to get to the contest and compete. Her tackling pressure was second to none bringing players to ground and hunting them to win the footy. She also displayed good spatial awareness to kick the ball into space and move the ball out of defence to a more attacking position for her side.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

She applied plenty of good strong tackles and chased hard throughout the game to try and win the ball back for her side. McKenzie attacked the footy hard and dished it off with clever passes to teammates in better positions. She showcased her strong marking skills and ability to read the play. McKenzie impressed in the last quarter credit to her good dash away from the pack to break into space and kick an important goal and then backed it up with another stellar goal from a difficult angle to get her side back on an even playing field. She showed great spatial awareness to pass off to teammates and know when to run herself and offered strong leads through the centre.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Gutknecht was once again solid showcasing her good hands in the contest to work the ball out of stoppages and pass off to teammates. She showcased her strength while getting tackled to keep her arms free and dish to footy off while she also impressed with her acceleration and ability to break out of the centre bounce. She provided good attacking play had clean hands and ran hard continuously to get to the contest. Gutknecht also provided good link-up play through the middle of the ground thanks to her footy smarts and spatial awareness.

#23 Gabby Newton

Newton showed good spatial awareness and was composed with ball in hand even while under pressure. She used the footy well to move the ball forward and showcased her strong hands taking some solid marks across the ground. Her general football awareness was impressive and she applied good defensive pressure to worry opponents out of the kick.

#32 Ashleigh Snow

Snow applied good pressure across the field and worked hard to get to the contest. She tackled well on multiple occasions and used her beautiful kick into the forward 50 showcasing her pinpoint precision. Her good vision and acceleration was also a key part in her game and she racked up plenty of timely touches.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Gemma Lagioia

Lagioia impressed with her follow up work across the ground especially in the forward half to try and trap the footy in the Chargers’ attacking 50. She also showcased her clever use of the footy with timely kicks to teammates and into space. She did the one percenters well chasing hard and applying pressure.

#2 Mimi Hill

Hill was strong around the contest and worked hard to try and win the footy leading the way for her side in possessions. She used her acceleration and clever kicks to push the ball forward and set up attacking bursts for the Chargers. She used her defensive pressure to try and trap the footy and was good around the stoppages extracting the footy. Her clever handballs out of traffic were efficient and allowed her teammates to run into space.

#4 Emily Harley

Harley was a real presence up forward for the Chargers with her long booming kick and good positioning in front of goals. She helped to push forward and create scoring opportunities for her teammates. She took plenty of strong contested marks and showed a good ability to read the flight of the ball. Harley impressed in the second quarter taking a strong contested mark just outside the goal square and slotting a good goal to finish off the play. She was not afraid to put her body on the line going in hard at the contest. Harley took another big mark just inside the 50 and bombed a long goal finishing the game with three majors.

#8 Alana Porter

Porter used her clever kicks to get the ball into space and showed good attack on the footy across the ground. She worked hard at the clearances to win the footy and pushed hard into the forward 50 to try and create some attacking play. Porter reads the play well, breaks away from the packs and is a good strong kick of the footy.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Gippsland Power

By: Michael Alvaro

Geelong:

#1 Elise Vella

The bite-sized forward competed well and did contributed some really neat touches throughout the game. A courageous mark going back with the flight of the ball in the second term was a highlight, with Vella hanging on and bouncing straight back up despite a copping a tremendous knock from behind. Her tackling was also willing, and she provided some good balls inside 50.

#8 Paige Sheppard
Sheppard was close to, if not the Falcons’ best on the day, winning a wealth of the ball through the midfield. Sheppard terrific coming out of congestion and provided nice forward bursts. Her repeated ground ball gets and long kicks forward were a feature, but she truly did it all across the match.

#12 Laura Gardiner
Assuming her usual positon on the wing, Gardiner looked to take the game on and was usually clean in doing so. She showed good awareness on the last line of defence to clean up after a fumble, but was more often seen between the arcs. She capped off her day with a nice running goal in the third term – the only one scored in the quarter.

#18 Darcy Moloney
The midfielder has a good step, and used it to move around opponents when looking to break forward. She was effective by foot going inside 50, and constantly finished off runs with long kicks. Like Sheppard, she also finished off her solid display with a goal late on.

#21 Abbey Chapman
While the defence as a whole would be disappointed in letting a couple of late goals through, Chapman was solid as a rock inside defensive 50. She copped a knock in the second quarter, but bounced back well to affect a number of intercept marks and shut down many Gippsland attacks. Entrusted with the kick-outs, Chapman spent a good amount of time deep, while also moving towards the arc to cut off Gippsland’s forays.

#38 Lucy McEvoy
The star Falcon had another day out, putting in a complete shift and looking a class above at times. Utilised at the centre bounces for most of the game, McEvoy showcased her outstanding decision making at the stoppages with clean hands and neat vision to bring her teammates into the contest. Her kicking game was also typically strong, with a particular shot from 50-out hitting the post. McEvoy also tended to play a kick off the ball when it was inside the Falcons’ 50, providing a wall and relentlessly pumping the ball back in, while also being the primary kick-in target. A solid game was capped again by her final quarter goal, which she snared off a Renee Tierney kick and booted into an open goal.

#39 Renee Tierney
Together with Skinner, Tierney was the lead player up forward for Geelong and claimed four of their seven first half goals. Showing good awareness and a deft finishing touch, Tierney took full advantage of the space afforded to her inside 50. Her clever dribble goal through traffic in the second term was a highlight, and she could well have finished with five or six goals had she not missed a couple early.

Gippsland:

#8 Chandra Abrahams
The midfielder battled hard all day against a slick Geelong engine room, attending most of the stoppages and anchoring the centre bounces. Opposed to Lucy McEvoy at times, Abrahams had a good crack and won some nice clearances. Her effort against two opponents to see the ball out in the second term was a good example of her combativeness on the day.

#9 Maddi Shaw
Shaw is a leader in the Gippsland defence and despite a difficult day, she made a solid contribution. She had a good one-on-one win on defensive wing early on, and showed her potential in patches. A strong marking attempt against two Falcons in the final term with the game all but over was impressive, and Shaw has a decent boot when allowed space to use it.

#27 Nikia Webber
While Webber was arguably her side’s best, she found the going tough early on starting at centre half-forward. She pushed up the ground to find more of the ball and provide a target to link inside 50, but Geelong hardly gave her an inch when she went near it. Her marking game was solid, and a 55-metre set shot on goal turned into an assist for the Power’s first goal of the game in the final term. A run through the midfield in the second half looked to lift the Power slightly, and she fought well in the clinches.

 

Sandringham Dragons vs. Dandenong Stingrays

By: Peter Williams

Sandringham:

#2 Sophia Rothfield

Presented throughout playing forward, getting on the end of a kick inside 50 from Bryanna Arnold and converting the set shot. It would be the Dragons’ only major of the game, but Rothfield continued to cause headaches up forward for her opposition with some powerful marks. She took a great contested grab in the second term, and put her body on the line time ad time again. Rothfield had an opportunity in the final quarter for a second goal, but missed the snap.

#25 Sarah Hartwig

Played in front of her opponent most of the day and backs herself in to go for marks rather than spoils. Hartwig is clean at ground level and is able to pick up the ball at top speed and take off, which she did in the second term when she scooped up the ball on the run, fended off an opponent and kicked straight down the middle. Later on she showed her second efforts, laying a big tackle after dropping an intercept mark, to win back possession for her side. She won a free kick for a huge run-down takccle in the final term.

#28 Alice Burke

A big first half around the stoppages and her defensive pressure was very good. She is able to win the contested ball and just get enough separation to move laterally or forward to kick long. Early in the game she showed the perfect way to use your body at a stoppage, getting a low centre of gravity, protecting herself as well as the ball at ground level and buying herself time to dispose of the ball to a teammate while having the space to get rid of it if tackled. In the third term she drifted into defence on a number of occations and showed clean hands and quick disposal, as well as a lovely technique coming out of defence to the wing. A big tackle on Tyanna Smith in the final term allowed a teammate to have a long shot on goal form the subsequent spillage.

#30 Winnie Laing

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and constantly put her body on the line. Along with Alice Burke and Eliza McNamara, Laing won plenty of contested ball and clearances, even if it was just a deft tap or bump off the ball to allow a .teammate to take possession. Laing plays with fierce intend and won a few free kicks, including one in the first term for too high, but her set shot missed to the left.

#42 Marguerite Purcell

Impressive game along the wing as she has that balance between athletic capabilities and hardness at the ball and ball carrier. She roamed between the arcs and has a long, dangerous kick going inside. Purcell had a big impact in the first half and took a good intercept mark outside 50 to then send the ball back inside. A quieter second half, but she had a chance in the final quarter running into goal, but rushed a little and missed the shot on goal.

Dandenong:

#12 Molly McDonald

The captain returned for the Round 2 game and after a quieter first half, started to have a massive impact in the second term. She played on a wing and did not take a backwards step, covering the ground with ease and crashing into marking contests to impact at every chance she got. McDonald laid some big tackles and had a few chances on goal but rued missed opportunities. One went out on the full and the St Kilda recruit berating herself for the missed chance, another was on target from long range but was touched on the line. Her work rate is an obvious advantage and despite it being her first game back this year in competition, she fitted in well.

#26 Isabella Shannon

A tackling machine. Shannon played through the midfield and up forward, and her work on the ball was very good, putting her body on the line and also able to shrug off opponents with ease. Shannon has great core strength ad is able to move well when under pressure, and has a fierce attack on the ball. In one instance in the third term, Shannon was outnumbered one against two on a . forward flank, and laid a huge tackle to trap the ball and force a stoppage. She missed a chance lain the same term from long range, but then kicked the final goal in the final term to put the nail in the coffin.

#28 Tyanna Smith

The bottom-ager had another impressive game through midfield and was able to find space at times to not only hurt her opponents on the inside, but also on the outside. She loves to win the contested ball, but on a couple of occasions got free and took off, with a ‘wow’ moment in the second term, bursting off half-back and running all the way to half-forward, but just pulled the kick a little to the left. Luckily the ball spilt and the Stingrays were able to create a goal out of the opportunity. While on some occasions she was caught, you had to admire the way she attempted to continually break the game open. In the final term she set up the final goal to Isabella Shannon with great vision in the pocket to spot up her teammate and put it to her advantage rather than blazing away.

#31 Brooke Vernon

The defender found herself uncharacteristically in the goalsquare in term one after back-to-back 50-metre penalties and an easy conversion in front of goal. The major was the first of the game, and then Vernon played a solid game in the back 50. She took a great contested mark in the goal square to save a certain goal in the opening term. Often tasked with the kick-in duties, Vernon is a long, accurate kick of the ball and always provided a contest. Finished with a handful of rebounds and a solid four quarter performance.

#51 Zoe Hill

The reliable defender did her job once again, especially under fire in the final term. She did not win a heap of the ball, but when in possession, Hill is calm and composed under pressure and is able to dispose of it cleanly. She forced a rushed behind in the final term and has an ability to get a clean first in one-on-one. Earlier in the game she showed great closing speed and was able to spoil an opponent when at top speed.

 

In other games, here’s how some of the ones to watch played:

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Eastern Ranges

Brooke Hards had 17 disposals, two marks, three inside 50s, three rebounds and five tackles, while key defender, Tara Slender amassed an equal round-high seven rebounds to go with her 16 disposals, four marks and three tackles, and Eloise Gretgrix worked hard defensively for 13 touches, four marks and six rebounds. For Eastern, Tarni Brown also collected 17 disposals and had four inside 50s while laying a game-high eight tackles, Laura McClelland also found plenty of hte ball with 15 disposals, five inside 50s and six tackles, while Olivia Meagher had 16 disposals, three marks, four tackles and six inside 50s.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Western Jets

The standout performer from the match was Western’s Elisabeth Georgostathis who racked up 28 disposals – 22 kicks – two marks, five inside 50s and seven rebounds, while Abby Favell was impressive with 21 touches, five marks, four inside 50s, three rebounds and three tackles. Potential father-daughter selections, Millie Brown and Isabella Grant were impressive with Brown (20 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds) and Grant (19 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) playing important roles through midfield. Cleo Saxon-Jones was ever present with 18 touches and four marks for the Jets, while Sophie Locke (14 disposals, eight inside 50s) and Olivia Barber (13 disposals, four marks and a goal) were also good for the Bushrangers.