Tag: Mattea Breed

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

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

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

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

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

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

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

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

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

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

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

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

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

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

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

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

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

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

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

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

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

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

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

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

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

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

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

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

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

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

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

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

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

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

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

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

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

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

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

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

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

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

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

Others:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2020 AFL Women’s Draft preview: The next crop of young stars to find homes tonight

TONIGHT up to 61 players will live out their AFL Women’s dreams when the 14 clubs select the players to fill out the 2021 lists at the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Like most years, the AFL Women’s Draft still has state-based selections with Adelaide (South Australia) and GWS GIANTS (New South Wales) having sole priority to players that nominate that state. In Queensland (Brisbane and Gold Coast) and Western Australia (Fremantle and West Coast) the teams will split the players, whilst the remaining 10 teams will fight over the Victorian pool. The one major change is that there is only a Victorian pool, not split into Metropolitan and Geelong, so the Cats do not have priority on those from the region.

Richmond holds the all-important first pick in the draft which is expected to kick off from 7pm. There are a number of players the Tigers could select, but the frontrunner is Northern Knights’ star Ellie McKenzie, an inside midfielder who can play just about anywhere on the field and has been a proven talent for a number of years now.

[ … Ellie McKenzie feature … ]

Western Bulldogs traded up from Pick 3 to Pick 2 to ensure they could nab the second best player in the draft, with Tyanna Smith high up there in contention. The Dandenong Stingrays’ star has very few flaws in her game and has elite acceleration and a match-winning ability. The other one in contention if the Dogs opt to go tall could be another Northern Knights’ star in Alyssa Bannan as another forward option, as she can play tall or small and even push up into the midfield.

[ … Tyanna Smith feature … ] | [ … Alyssa Bannan feature … ]

Also in the mix for the top Victorian picks are Sandringham Dragons’ Sarah Hartwig, a rebounding defender who could fill the need at Melbourne with Pick 5. Whichever player is left of the trio, expect the Saints to pounce on with Pick 6 in what showcases the elite top-end talent of this year’s group. Another possibility for the pick could be Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald if the Saints choose to add extra midfield class to their side.

[ … Sarah Hartwig feature … ] | [ … Jess Fitzgerald One to Watch  … ]

West Coast and Adelaide also have top five picks coming in at picks three and four, with the Eagles having a decision to make whether they go high-flying Shanae Davison from their own aligned-Academy or if they look at someone like Sarah Verrier, a Peel Thunder talent with a great blend of inside-outside traits or Bella Lewis a hardened midfielder who has been sensational this year. The Crows are expected to be a little more predictable, with Teah Charlton the standout prospect, though given they have a monopoly on the South Australian nominees, they can select anyone in any order.

[ … Shanae Davison feature … ] | [ … Sarah Verrier feature … ] | [… Bella Lewis … ] | [ … Teah Charlton feature … ]

Gold Coast becomes the first Queensland team into the draft at Pick 7, and with players still able to nominate the Gold Coast and Brisbane zones, a Suns Academy member such as Annise Bradfield, Daisy D’Arcy, Maddison Levi or Beth Pinchin could be among those in consideration. For the Lions a pick later, Zimmorlei Farquharson looms as the standout youngster in the group.

[ … Annise Bradfield … ] | [ … Daisy D’Arcy feature … ] | [ … Maddison Levi feature … ] | [ … Zimmorlei Farquharson feature … ]

The final pick inside the top 10 is Geelong and they have the most interesting selection with the top group likely off the board, it is an even balance of players they could choose from. If they opt to go local – knowing they do not have priority – then perhaps the skill and class of Falcons’ Darcy Moloney could be an option. If they want to go a little taller, then Isabelle Pritchard could head down the highway from the Western Jets and provide a strong inside presence, or they could look to a proven big-game performer in Northern Knights’ Fitzgerald.

[ … Darcy Moloney feature … ] | [ … Isabelle Pritchard feature … ]

Western Bulldogs become the first team to make their second selection at Pick 11, which is effectively Pick 6 from the Victorian draft. If they went Smith in the first selection, they could look to go taller here and look to someone like Bulldogs’ supporter Pritchard or perhaps consider Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber. If they went for Bannan with their second selection, perhaps Fitzgerald is one to join the ranks as yet another Knight, whilst the likes of classy forward Bella Eddey or outside mover Mimi Hill could come into consideration through the first round.

[ … Olivia Barber feature … ] | [ … Bella Eddey feature … ] | [ … Mimi Hill feature … ]

Carlton enter the draft at Pick 12, and the names already raised in Fitzgerald, Hill and Eddey could be around the mark, though if they want to add an inside midfielder, then perhaps Falcons’ Laura Gardiner could be a suggestion. North Melbourne are next up and will also be keen to add another midfielder to the ranks, and try and predict what Melbourne (Picks 15 and 17) and Western Bulldogs (Pick 16) are going to do. If the Dees did not end up with Hartwig, then they could look at Dandenong Stingrays’ Zoe Hill with a selection, or if Pritchard has somehow slid, she is another defensive option.

[ … Laura Gardiner feature … ] | [ … Zoe Hill feature … ]

The West Australian teams squeeze in between the Victorian ones, with Fremantle likely to grab one of Verrier or Bella Lewis at the pick. Both are Fremantle-aligned and the Dockers know they can have an immediate impact in last year’s unbeaten side. The Eagles could look to Davison – if not already taken – or the classy Mikayla Morrison with this selection, or go for the ready-made Nyra Anderson at Pick 18.

[ … Bella Lewis feature … ] | [ … Mikayla Morrison feature … ] | [ … Nyra Anderson feature … ]

The last team to enter the draft is Collingwood with Pick 19 the Magpies’ first selection. Expect that to be Tarni Brown because on talent alone she is a top 10 pick, so the black and white army will gladly use their first pick on the Eastern Ranges’ jet. They will look to add some more midfield options, and she adds some extra speed and class to the team. Expect Alice Burke to be read out at the Saints’ Pick 24 – again great value – otherwise anything else is a bargain.

[ … Tarni Brown feature … ] | [ … Alice Burke feature … ]

The draft crop becomes so even outside of that top 20, with so many talented players fighting for spots on AFL Women’s lists. Ash Woodland and Georgia Nanscawen are readymade prospects who can impact immediately at AFL Women’s level, whilst Alana Barba, Shanara Notman, Nikia Webber, Amber Ward and Mattea Breed are all talls who have an extra year of experience as over-agers. Not holding a Draft Combine invite per say, South Australian duo Rachelle Martin and Matilda Zander would be a couple of others on clubs radars as ones who can make an immediate impact.

Some former basketballers who have crossed to football in the last 12-18 months are Amelia Velardo, Annabel Strahan and Carly Remmos, whilst Jess Matin (cricket) and Charlie Vandenberg (hockey) are among others who have forced high-level careers in other sports. Queenslanders, Christine Okesene, Brooke Spence, Laura Blue and Lucy Single are others who have transferred from various codes over the years.

From a Victorian perspective, among other names in various midfield positions are outside midfielder, Abbey Jordan and Joanna Lin, inside midfielders, Brooke Hards, Olivia Meagher and Winnie Laing, balanced midfielders Eliza McNamara, Megan Fitzsimon and Maeve Chaplin. Meanwhile the standout ruck is Maggie Caris.

Up forward, Renee Saulitis is the most dangerous small forward, whilst Isabella Simmons is a taller option, and Abbi Moloney a rapidly improving player. In defence, Ash Snow has great speed, while the likes of Jemma Finning, Mietta Kendall and Amber Micallef have all produced great seasons. As some raw talents, Alice O’Loughlin and Alice Astbury have had glimpses in the few games they have played, whilst Grace McRae and Daisy Walker have been valuable across multiple positions though predominantly in the middle.

From South Australia, Indy Tahau is the other star top-ager who is likely to join her South Adelaide teammate Charlton at the Crows, whilst for NSW/ACT,  Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, midfielder-defender Emily Pease and surprise packet Kiara Beesley were among the Draft Combine invites. From the Northern Territory, top-ager Stephanie Williams leads the charge and has nominated Victoria, while Freda Puruntatameri – who played some games for Calder Cannons – and mature-ager Janet Baird have all caught the eye.

Out west, mature-agers Sarah Wielstra (25 years-old) and 20-year-olds, Ella Smith, Rosie Walsh and Jess Low all earned combine invites. Meanwhile from the top-age group, twins Brianna and Mikayla Hyde have impressed moving into the midfield this season, while leading forward Maggie MacLachlan is another player in contention to be drafted.

[ … FOR FULL FEATURES ON MORE THAN 80 PLAYERS HEAD TO OUR AFLW FEATURES PAGE … ]

TEAM-BY-TEAM PICKS:

Adelaide: 4, 45, 47
Brisbane: 8, 37, 38
Carlton: 12, 28, 36
Collingwood: 19, 25, 26, 31, 33
Fremantle: 14, 30, 46
Geelong: 10, 20, 21, 27, 39
Gold Coast: 7, 23, 50, 54, 57, 58, 60, 61
GWS: 9, 29, 42
Melbourne: 5, 15, 17, 35, 41, 48
North Melbourne: 13, 22, 44, 49, 55
Richmond: 1, 43, 52
St Kilda: 6, 24, 34, 40, 51
West Coast: 3, 18, 32, 53, 56, 59
Western Bulldogs: 2, 11, 16

SANFL Women’s season review: Norwood

NORWOOD is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and how their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 4th
Wins: 5
Losses: 4
Draws: 2

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

The inaugural SANFL Women’s premiers went into the season after falling short in 2018 and going out in straight sets in 2019 following a minor premiership. They lost some key personnel over the off-season and looked shaky early, but picked up after the postponement period to really threaten some of the better teams. Whilst they did lose in their first final, the Redlegs had plenty of experienced and young talent come through the ranks, which showed in the All-Stars game last Friday night.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Leah Cutting

One of the standout rucks in the competition, Cutting was not only proficient at the stoppages, but provided a target around the ground, able to help out in defence or spread out to the wings to offer an option. Her strength overhead and body positioning is quite impressive.

Jess Macolino

Had a ripper second half of the season and showed during the All-Stars game what she offers with a fierce attack on the ball. She thrives in the contested situations and uses quick hands to dispose of the ball and allow her teammates to run off, or she can go forward and hit the scoreboard as well.

Bella Smith

The key position utility became a regular in defence, with her booming kick and contested marking superb. Smith’s ability to read the ball in flight and chop it off, or kick long out of the danger zone was a feature of her game, and even though she did not spend a lot of time there, she can also play as a key forward.

Jade Halfpenny

A strong marking forward who was trialled further up the ground at times, but has the class and talent to be a really impressive player in the future. In her debut season for the League side, Halfpenny showed how difficult she is to beat one-on-one in marking contests with her ability to sum up the situation quickly and use good body positioning.

Alana Lishmund

A middle-age talent who had a stellar season this year for Norwood and will benefit from her experience in the All-Stars game. Capable of playing as a forward or further up the ground, Lishmund always looks dangerous when around the ball and will be one to watch in 2021.

Matilda Zander

An accumulating midfielder who showed she can play as a forward too, Zander was able to regularly find the football around the ground and play inside or outside roles. With a high work rate and an ability to shake tacklers, Zander was a four-quarter performer nearly every match,

Rhiannon Busch

Reliable as ever, the experienced defender was a key cog in the Redlegs defensive unit and provided equal measures of offence and defence. She mopped up a lot of plays that went deep in defensive 50, and then provided drive off half-back, using her experience to guide her younger teammates.

Mattea Breed

Missed out on taking part in the All-Stars game, but put out a stellar season with a really improved year from the over-ager. Having gone through the pathways, Breed showed off her ability with some highlight-reel marks and match-winning performances with multiple goals. Capable of playing anywhere on the field, Breed is the ultimate utility.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Najwa Allen
  • Isabel Martin
  • Elisha Gallagher
  • Sophie Armitstead

There was no shortage of midfield depth in the Norwood side, with Adelaide midfielder Najwa Allen returning to the club she won a league best and fairest with after the break. She continued her dominant ball-winning ways, and teamed up well with fellow AFLW-experienced midfielder, Sophie Armitstead who also spent time in defence. Elisha Gallagher and Isabel Martin also showed promising signs this season, rotating through the midfield and holding their own.

Summary

Norwood had a strong season despite not winning a final again. They had so much change over the off-season they needed time to adapt, but showed in the later stages of the season they were starting to gel, and with a number of improving young guns coming through the team, expect 2021 to be another year to watch for the Redlegs.

Picture: SANFL/Hannah Rex

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

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

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

TEAM HATCHARD:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEAM MARINOFF:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture: SANFL

2020 Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year

AFTER a terrific 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season, Draft Central has named its Team of the Year. The team is based off the amount of Draft Central Team of the Week nominations the players received throughout the season, with those players who received five or more nominations, automatically making the squad, while some players with four nominations also made their way in, and the others deemed as emergencies.

There were two players who received a remarkable seven nominations from 10 rounds, which were West Adelaide ball magnet, Rachelle Martin and North Adelaide youngster, Hannah Ewings. As the more senior member in the case of a tie, Martin was awarded the captaincy, with Ewings the vice-captain. Both players have had enormous years and have been magnificent for their respective sides.

A further three players received six nominations, with Roosters’ full-back Kristi Harvey, Norwood midfielder Matilda Zander, and Central District onballer Shelby Smith all making it into six Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Weeks. Rounding out the automatic selections are an additional 10 players who made the Team of the Week at least half the amount of rounds of the 10-round season.

Looking at the team line-by-line, we start at the full-backs with Harvey holding down the crucial key position role, with Central District’s Demi Sonneman and Lisa Whiteley earning places in back pockets. Moving up to the half-back lines, a couple of West Adelaide defenders flank another Bulldogs’ talent in Sarah Allan, with Bloods’ teenagers, Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann on the flanks.

Moving into the midfield, and it is no surprise to see Sturt young gun, Zoe Prowse make the side as the starting ruck, with Martin teaming up alongside Adelaide AFL Women’s talent Anne Hatchard onball. Smith has been named in the centre, while Sturt co-captain Georgia Bevan, and Norwood ball magnet Najwa Allen round out the midfield.

In attack, top-age young gun Teah Charlton sits on a half-forward flank with teammate Jess Kirk at full-forward. Ewings and Zander might spend a fair chunk of their time in the midfield, but also hit the scoreboard and earned places in the starting team. Glenelg’s Eloise Jones is the other key tall inside 50 at centre half-forward, while Roosters’ dynamo Ash Woodland is in a pocket.

To fill out the team, six players were required on the bench, and Kiana Lee is the first player there after unluckily missing out on a starting spot, and is the only Eagles’ talent in an even season across the board from Woodville-West Torrens. Players representing six different sides are on the bench, with speedsters Katelyn Pope (North Adelaide) and Zoe Venning (West Adelaide) as well as Redlegs’ tall utility, Mattea Breed. South Adelaide’s Tahlia Meyer and Glenelg’s Tessa Kohn finalise the entire team.

In the special Team of the Year, we have decided to name all six emergencies who received four Team of the Week nominations this year. Much like the bench, it is filled with players from six different sides. They are South Adelaide’s Czenya Cavouras, North Adelaide’s Lauren Daniel, Woodville-West Torrens’ Tesharna Maher, Sturt’s Hannah Prenzler, Central District’s Katelyn Rosenzweig and Norwood’s Bella Smith.

In terms of team representation in the 24-player squad, North Adelaide had the most with five players, followed by South Adelaide and West Adelaide with four apiece. Norwood and Central District had the three, with Glenelg and Sturt on two each, and Woodville-West Torrens having the one.

When looking at total nominees throughout the season, South Adelaide had the most with 15 different players earning a place in a Team of the Week, followed by West Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens. The latter is the reason why the Eagles have the least amount of players in the Team of the Year with so many on the cusp sharing the load. North Adelaide had 13 players nominated throughout the year, followed by Norwood and Glenelg (10 apiece). Central District had nine, with Sturt the lowest with the six players nominated.

2020 DRAFT CENTRAL SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR:

B: Demi Sonneman (CD) – Kristi Harvey (NA) – Lisa Whiteley (SA)
HB: Madison Newman (WA) – Sarah Allan (CD) – Keeley Kustermann (WA)
C: Georgia Bevan (ST) – Shelby Smith (CD) – Najwa Allen (NW)
HF: Teah Charlton (SA) – Eloise Jones (GL) – Matilda Zander (NW)
F: Ash Woodland (NA) – Jess Kirk (SA) – Hannah Ewings (NA) (vc)
R: Zoe Prowse (ST) – Anne Hatchard (NA) – Rachelle Martin (WA) (c)
INT: Kiana Lee (WWT) – Katelyn Pope (NA) – Zoe Venning (WA) – Tessa Kohn (GL) – Tahlia Meyer (SA) – Mattea Breed (NW)
EMG: Czenya Cavouras (SA) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Bella Smith (NW) – Tesharna Maher (WWT) – Lauren Daniel (NA) – Hannah Prenzler (ST)

SANFL Women’s Finals preview: Semi-Finals – Fans treated to double header at Thebarton

FINALS fever is in the air and the four best teams remain in the race for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. Last year’s grand finalists North Adelaide and South Adelaide do battle in the first game at Thebarton Oval for automatic entry into the grand final, before Norwood and West Adelaide face off to remain in the hunt and head into a preliminary final next week.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, August 9, 10.30am at Thebarton Oval

It is the clash that many SANFL Women’s fans have been waiting for, the two best teams in the competition going head-to-head at full strength and with so much talent across the field. North Adelaide Roosters, led by Krissie Steen naturally hold favouritism as they are yet to drop a game in 2020. The last time the Roosters looked vulnerable was way back in Round 4 of this season when South Adelaide pushed them for four quarters in an absolute thriller. The four-point margin in favour of the visiting side ultimately determined which order the top sides would finish, as neither side lost another game. South Adelaide might not have been blowing teams off the part to the extent that Roosters have, but Rick Watts has his charges primed for a third consecutive flag knowing the pressure of favouritism is off.

These two teams faced off in the decider last year, where South took control after quarter time and just kept the Roosters at arms-length to get up 4.7 (31) to 1.3 (9). It is expected the scores on the weekend will be much higher with some seriously talented forward lines. In saying that, both teams have remarkable back six’s, so it will not be easy to score against. The aspect about this matchup that people are most intrigued about is that they have not faced off again since their AFL Women’s talents returned.

This arguably gives the Roosters a boost given they have welcomed in arguably the competition’s best player – given she was a club best and fairest winner and All-Australian at the elite level – in Anne Hatchard, as well as reliable and recently retired, Talia Radan, and the dangerous forward in Britt Perry. South Adelaide has added Crows’ teenage ruck Montana McKinnon – who also played games prior to the break while she was waiting to crack into the Crows team – as well as speedster Hannah Munyard, and defender Lisa Whiteley. Both represented Western Bulldogs and GWS GIANTS in 2019, and both have since headed home and will represent the tri-colours next season.

In terms of in-form players from the last two matchups, it is hard to look past South tall, Indy Tahau. Winning the Best on Ground medal in the 2019 SANFL Women’s Grand Final, she booted two goals from 20 touches, and then back it up with a strong 16-disposal, 17-hitout and 10-tackle game earlier this year. Adelaide train-on talent Czenya Cavouras will be a welcome return for the Panthers after missing a couple of games to injury, she is averaging the 21.5 disposals, 3.5 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.0 tackles. The third Panther to highlight is Teah Charlton who booted a crucial goal in the grand final last year, having 18 touches, four marks and five tackles, before a quieter outing earlier this season with 12 touches, four marks and six tackles.

North Adelaide has changed so much since last year’s grand final with one of the Roosters’ best in Kendall Howell named back in the side this week. She gathered 19 touches and six rebounds in last year’s decider, and had 12 touches and five marks in the 2020 victory over South. Lauren Daniel has been an experienced campaigner who has performed in both matches, picking up 15 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s in the grand final, and then 18 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three rebounds earlier this year. Then there is Amber Ward who had eight rebounds from 16 touches and three marks last year, and it was Kristi Harvey this year who won the game with her work in defence racking up 15 disposals, eight marks – two contested, six tackles and eight rebounds.

Fast forward to this matchup today and the Roosters have been in ominous form, only conceding one goal in the past three weeks – not a typo – as they have completely powered past sides, albeit three of the bottom four sides. North Adelaide have booted 33.37 (235) to 1.8 (14) in that time with a percentage of 943. The Roosters are usually accurate but had a down day last round in terms of accuracy with 7.17, but that was as much credit to Central District’s defence as it was to North’s missed chances. In the two matches prior to those three thumpings, the Roosters defeated Glenelg by 18 points, and Norwood by 45 in strong performances.

South Adelaide has had a weird fixture to end the season, playing twice against each of West Adelaide and Central District, as well as Glenelg. The Bloods have provided a great measuring stick against the Panthers, with South getting up by 18 points in Round 7, and and 12 points last round. The trick with South Adelaide is that the Panthers just find a way to get it done. No matter what the score, the Panthers are the best at adapting to a style of playing and then beating the opposition with that style. They might not have belted teams in the last month, but they have beaten quality opposition off the back of terrific defence.

The most exciting area of the ground to watch will be North Adelaide’s forward line up against South Adelaide’s defence, with the likes of Ash Woodland – fresh off another four-goal haul – alongside Cristie Castle, Daniel, Perry and speedster Katelyn Pope going head-to-head with the reliable trio of Jaslynne Smith, Lauren Buchanan and Samantha Pratt, and then no doubt Whiteley and Roosters’ Kelly Barltrop will also be ones who have a bearing on the result of the game.

Up the other end, Ward and Harvey have the best one-two intercept marking and rebounding punch of any side in the competition, but what makes South so good is creating space inside 50 and letting the smaller forwards go to work. Jess Kirk returns and was leading the competition goalkicking prior to injury, while Munyard has kicked multiple goals on occasions, and Madison Bennett is always dangerous at ground level. Tahau and Charlton are South Australia’s top two top-age prospects this year as the pair are in the AFL Women’s National Academy. Radan and Lauren Gauci can provide some good intercepting and run and carry respectively back there, and they will have their work cut out for them.

In the midfield, McKinnon will be keen to impress in her second game back from injury against Bek Rasheed who has been one of the most consistent surprise packets this season since coming to the club. Hatchard leads the Roosters’ onball brigade, but the likes of Leah Tynan and Hannah Ewings will go head-to-head against Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, with Nikki Gore and Pope providing the dash through the middle, It is likely the team that not only wins the midfield, but has the most effective inside 50 entries will be the winner. Both these teams are capable of locking down the hatches and defending well, while they also know how to score quickly.

If you had to pick a team, North Adelaide is hard to look past given its strength and unbeaten nature, but the general feeling is, if the Roosters are to lose, it will likely be against the Panthers. A grand final spot on the line, this is set to be a ripper.

NORTH

F: Daniel, Castle, Woodland
HF: Pope, McKendrick, Perry
C: Greet, Hatchard, Case
HB: Gauci, Ward, Sundstrom
B: Clark, Harvey, Radan
R: Rasheed, Tynan, Ewings
INT: Arthur, Barltrop, Gallio, Howell, Reynolds, Taylor, Woodards

IN: Hatchard, Howell, Pope

SOUTH

F: Bennett, Kirk, Munyard
HF: Tahau, Cavouras, Schirmer
C: Hammond, Campbell, Charlton
HB: Copley, Pratt, Buchanan
B: Haylock, Smith, Northcott
R: McKinnon, Meyer, Whiteley
INT: Gore, Wedding, Flanagan-Sjoberg, Gibbs, Clifton, Pennifold, Ross

IN: Gore, Kirk, Cavouras, Bennett
OUT: Rothwell, Peters

 

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Sunday, August 9, 12.20pm at Thebarton Oval

The loser of the first game will have the best opportunity to scout its next opponent when Norwood tackles West Adelaide in the second game. Unlike the North Adelaide-South Adelaide clash, there is no turning back for the loser with the defeated team out of contention this year. These teams have played twice this year, and both have been thrillers with Norwood getting the job back in Round 9 with an 11-point win over West Adelaide, while neither team could be split in Round 4 when they headed home with a draw prior to the extended break.

For most of the season, West Adelaide had held third spot on the table, going toe-for-toe with the top two sides, but two losses against them kept them in third. The draw and then loss with Norwood saw the Panthers drop back to fourth in the final round as the Redlegs enjoyed a huge win over a depleted Glenelg, while the Bloods went down in a fight against South Adelaide. In their most recent encounter back in Round 9, it was only a final term burst that saw Norwood create separation and celebrate a 4.9 (33) to 3.4 (22) victory.

The Redlegs almost kicked themselves out of it with seven straight behinds, before midfield dynamo Matilda Zander put through a crucial snap out of congestion. West Adelaide immediately trimmed back the deficit to under a kick through the great work of AFL Women’s teammates, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Chelsea Biddell, but it was loose checking on the defensive goal line that ultimately cost the Bloods third spot. With a free kick near the behind post, Tessa Hankinson was brought back on a sharp angle, but her opponent opted to stand on the goal line leaving the mark unguarded and Hankinson ran in to kick a goal from a couple of metres out, bettering the angle and helping her team to victory.

It was not the first time that Norwood had escaped ill-fated mis-kicking in front of goal. A week earlier, they kicked a frustrating 2.8, in what was a strange match. The Redlegs booted the first goal of the contest, then eight consecutive behinds against a Sturt side that refused to give in. It took until Kate Fenton‘s after-the-siren goal to give the visitors another major, and it levelled the scores and ensured the fourth placed team walked away with some points. A week later they knocked off the Bloods, and then took apart Glenelg in a strong performance.

West Adelaide did enough against Central District back in Round 8 to win by 22 points as Madison Newman and Thompson were dominant, booting four goals to zero in the middle two quarters to guarantee a win. The loss to Norwood cost them third spot, but they would have been pleased by the effort against South Adelaide early. They looked on from the first bounce, but could not sustain it across four quarters as quick goals to the Panthers was the difference.

Looking at this match, the battle of the midfields is absolutely crucial. Rachelle Martin had 21 touches and five clearances against the Redlegs in the Round 4 draw, and Norwood must find a way to try and stop her if they are to win. But she is far from alone in that onball brigade with the young talents of Abbie Ballard, Zoe Venning and Olivia Smith running around, with Mattea Breed a taller option who could play at either end or through the middle. Leah Cutting is one of the league’s best rucks so expect her to have a say on the contest as she leads a strong midfield group in Adelaide AFL Women’s talent and last year’s SANFL Women’s best and fairest, Najwa Allen, as well as Zander, Jess Macolino and Sophie Armitstead in there. The entire midfield is not afraid to get its hands dirty and win the contested ball.

Both these sides have some seriously underrated players in the competition, with Jade Halfpenny able to play at either end, as could Bella Smith who has been relishing the intercept marking role at centre half-back. The Norwood defence is strong, with Armitstead able to drop back there, and the likes of Rhiannon Busch mopping up everything that comes her way. The West Adelaide forward line is one of the most damaging when up and firing, with Biddell a key target, and Rachael Killian filling the role of Melanie Elsegood perfectly. Throw in midfielder Isabel Martin who can hit the scoreboard, along with Kasia Culhane, Thompson and Venning who both float down there, and the Bloods have a formidable group.

Up the other end, Norwood has Breed and captain Alison Ferrall as the targets to watch for, with Breed able to fly and Ferrall powerful on the lead. The latter returns for this game, and with Fenton a known goalkicker, and Zander and Allen both able to rest forward, the Redlegs have a versatile front six. The Bloods half-back line of young guns, Newman and Keeley Kustermann, as well as captain Lauren Rodato is the best in the business, but as Helen Maidment showed last week, she is more than capable of playing high half-back with Rodato dropping back deeper.

Both these sides have some incredible talent which showcases what they are capable of on their day. They can match it with the best sides, but they can also struggle against the lower sides at times. The team that plays its most on-brand game will win this, which by Round 8 looked certain to be West Adelaide, but the last two weeks have shown that Norwood probably deserve to be favourites. West have struggled through the midfield of late, and the Bloods have to win that to take home the points, while Norwood have to be smart with the inside 50s to stop the elite half-back line of the Bloods taking easy intercept marks.

NORWOOD

F: Smith, Bigg, Gould
HF: Tsoumbris, Zander, Macolino
C: Hiscock, Busch, Ferrall
HB: Avery, Cutting, Fenton
B: Allen, Breed, Armitstead
R: Halfpenny, Sporn, Gallagher
INT: Lishmund, Martin, Samuel, Hankinson, Rochow, Zerella, Barisic

IN: Ferrall, Lishmund, Martin, Tsoumbris, Samuel, Barasic
OUT: Karamoshos, Murison

WEST

F: Ballard, Scholar, Scutchings
HF: Kustermann, Biddell, Venning
C: Culhane, Rodato, O. Smith
HB: Newman, Thompson, Martin
B: Maidment, Killian, Doupis
R: Walsh, James, Greer
INT: E. Smith, Mason, Gray, Davis, Hooper, Harfield

IN: Scholar, Gray, Doupis, Hooper
OUT: Hardwick, Griffiths

Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year nominations

AS the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition came to a close last week, it is time for the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. We name the final team on Sunday night, but the 40-player nomination list – similar to the All-Australian squad – is effectively the extended squad of those in contention.

This list has been compiled of players who had at least three SANFL Women’s Team of the Week nominations, and three additional players who had two, to round up the full list to 40. Two players had seven nominations from a possible 10 rounds, and those players will be nominated as captain and vice-captain.

From the 40-player squad, North Adelaide and South Adelaide lead the league with seven nominations each, ahead of West Adelaide (six) and Norwood (five). Glenelg, Central District and Sturt had four players apiece, while Woodville-West Torrens had three.

CENTRAL DISTRICT: [4]

Sarah Allan
Katelyn Rosenzweig
Shelby Smith
Demi Sonneman

GLENELG: [4]

Sam Franson
Caitlin Gould
Eloise Jones
Tessa Kohn

NORTH ADELAIDE: [7]

Lauren Daniel
Hannah Ewings
Kristi Harvey
Anne Hatchard
Britt Perry
Katelyn Pope
Ash Woodland

NORWOOD: [5]

Najwa Allen
Mattea Breed
Leah Cutting
Bella Smith
Matilda Zander

SOUTH ADELAIDE: [7]

Nicole Campbell
Czenya Cavouras
Teah Charlton
Jess Kirk
Tahlia Meyer
Indy Tahau
Lisa Whiteley

STURT: [4]

Georgia Bevan
Hannah Prenzler
Zoe Prowse
Maya Rigter

WEST ADELAIDE: [6]

Abbie Ballard
Keeley Kustermann
Rachelle Martin
Madison Newman
Stevie-Lee Thompson
Zoe Venning

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS: [3]

Renee Forth
Kiana Lee
Tesharna Maher

SANFL Women’s Team of the Week – Round 10: Even spread for competition in final round

YOUTH is the highlight of the final Draft Central South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Team of the Week. The top three teams shared in 12 of the 24 players this round with North Adelaide, South Adelaide and Norwood all having four representatives in our side this week. Three of the other five teams – West Adelaide, Central District and Woodville-West Torrens – had three representatives in an even team spread, while Sturt (two players) and Glenelg (one) rounded out the side.

South Adelaide’s defence on the weekend was ultra impressive and that is why a couple of their back six make the starting team in Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan. Samantha Pratt made it into the extended side as an emergency, while through the midfield, Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer also made the team. For their opponents West Adelaide, the Bloods had three representatives with key defender Helen Maidment at centre half-back, and youngsters Abbie Ballard and Zoe Venning slotting into the side.

North Adelaide’s quartet starts with captain of this team, Ash Woodland who had a starring four-goal role in the Roosters’ big win. Holding down the fort at full-back is Kristi Harvey, whilst another forward in Britt Perry, and the classy Hannah Ewings all made the side once again.Their opponent Central District had its fair share of defenders in the side too, with Madison Lane making the starting side, and Nicola Biagi and Demi Sonneman both squeezing onto the bench.

Norwood also had the four players make the Team of the Week after a big win over Glenelg. Starting at half-back is Sophie Armitstead who spent a fair chunk of time in the midfield but can slot back there, whilst Matilda Zander is on the wing Up forward, Mattea Breed stands at centre half-forward, whilst Najwa Allen is in the team once again onball and vice-captain in our team this week. The Tigers only had one player in the side with Deni Varnhagen on the bench, though Lucy Armitage came close to making it and is one of our emergencies.

Of the remaining players, there were a combined five players in the Woodville-West Torrens and Sturt clash in the 24-player team. Chloe Forby and dual position player Kiana Lee are inside 50, whilst Anastasia Falkenberg has made it onto the bench. In defeat, Zoe Prowse once again made the side in the ruck position, whilst Hannah Prenzler returned to the side on the bench. Eagles’ Charlotte Dolan is the third emergency in the side after another solid performance in the win.

DRAFT CENTRAL SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 10

B: Jaslynne Smith (SA) – Kristi Harvey (NA) – Madison Lane (CD)
HB: Sophie Armitstead (NW) – Helen Maidment (WA) – Lauren Buchanan (SA)
C: Matilda Zander (NW) – Nicole Campbell (SA) – Hannah Ewings (NA)
HF: Chloe Forby (WWT) – Mattea Breed (NW) – Abbie Ballard (WA)
F: Britt Perry (NA) – Kiana Lee (WWT) – Ash Woodland (NA) (c)
R: Zoe Prowse (ST) – Najwa Allen (NW) (vc) – Tahlia Meyer (SA)
INT: Deni Varnhagen (GL) – Nicola Biagi (CD) – Hannah Prenzler (ST) – Anastasia Falkenberg (WWT) – Demi Sonneman (CD) – Zoe Venning (WA)
EMG: Lucy Armitage (GL) – Samantha Pratt (SA) – Charlotte Dolan (WWT)

SANFL Women’s Round 10 review: Eagles avoid spoon as Norwood heads into finals with big win

WOODVILLE-West Torrens Eagles have avoided the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s wooden spoon after a last-round win against Sturt helped them leap into seventh on the table. Three of the top four sides all had wins heading into the post-season series, with South Adelaide accounting for its western rivals, while both North Adelaide and Norwood accumulated big victories.

WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.4 | 1.4 | 1.6 (12)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

West: R. Killian.
South: T. Charlton, C. Hammond, I. Tahau, G. Schirmer.

ADC BEST:

West: H. Maidment, A. Ballard, Z. Venning, S. Thompson, C. Biddell
South: J. Smith, N. Campbell, T. Meyer, L. Buchanan, S. Pratt

In what has become a typical South Adelaide performance, the reigning premiers played a consistent four-quarter effort to defeat third placed West Adelaide in what could be a finals clash at some point over the next few weeks. The Panthers capitalised with the breeze, slotting two goals in both the first and third quarters, and denying the Bloods a major when West Adelaide had the breeze. In what was a really strong defensive performance, South Adelaide kept its opponent to just six behinds after conceding what would be the only Bloods goal, in the opening minute of the match.

West Adelaide was quick out of the blocks to try and turn its poor form from last week around as Rachael Killian kicked the first major of the game after just 40 seconds. It came about after a couple of good touches from Stevie-Lee Thompson out of the middle and Abbie Ballard at half-forward. Unfortunately for the Bloods, that was where the first term dominance stopped.

South relentlessly attacked for the most part of the remainder of the term, adding a couple of goals in the opening term. After a couple of chances, including an Indy Tahau set shot, and a Hannah Munyard snap, it was Tahlia Meyer who set up an attacking play through an intercept mark on the wing that got things happening. The quick ball movement for the Panthers ended up in the hands of young gun Teah Charlton who easily converted from 30m out straight in front to put her team in front.

Four minutes later, Munyard was involved by marking uncontested inside 50, then waited for the running Cheyenne Hammond to cross her path to give her off the handball and she slotted the goal on the move. Down by nine points and the momentum with South, West began to attack more down the ground, with Zoe Venning and Keeley Kustermann pushing up and causing headaches for the opposition. Charlie Scutchings had a quick snap but it missed to the right.

The second term the Westies had a bit more of a breeze advantage and took complete control of the term, but neither side could really capitalise in front of goal. Kasia Culhane had the best opportunity 20m out straight in front off a free kick but she shanked it and the ball was knocked through for a behind in the square. By half-time the Panthers held onto a straight-kick lead, 2.4 to 1.4. Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan had been superb in defence, Nicole Campbell was busy through the midfield and Charlton always threatening. For the Westies, Abby Hardwick also had a chance to capitalise but was dragged down, while Helen Maidment and Chelsea Biddell were keeping a high line.

South won the game in the third term, taking its chances with the breeze, booting a couple of important goals to create separation and a three-goal lead at the last chance. As much as West tried, they could not have a meaningful deep chance, with the Panthers’ defence up to the task through Buchanan, Lucy Northcott and Samantha Pratt – who laid a terrific tackle on Thompson inside 50.

Instead it was youngster Tahau who launched a ripping bomb from 50m after a lookaway handball over the top from a teammate and her shot bounced home with some help from Charlton in the goalsquare. Five minutes later, Gypsy Schirmer created something out of nothing with a snap on the outside of the boot to break up what had a been a bit of an arm-wrestle. The term was highlighted by Montana McKinnon‘s return and starting to get into it with a couple of crucial intercept marks, whilst Thompson was desperately trying to create something for the losing side with her speed but could not quite finish it off.

The last term mirrored the second with neither team able to score despite the Bloods having the bulk of the forward half possession. Thompson won a free kick from 50m out and kicked towards a one-on-one in the square, but cleared the packed and went out. Brianna Wedding and Pratt racked up some important touches, while the likes of Smith and Buchanan continued to work hard.

Schirmer had a chance of her own for the Panthers but just fell short and while Maidment led a really strong defensive unit, it would be South’s work with the breeze that proved the difference, as West booted six straight behind since the goal in the opening minute, and South booted all four remaining majors for the match. Munyard, Campbell and Charlton were all superb in the front half, while the collective of the back six was equally impressive.

 

NORWOOD 4.0 | 6.4 | 9.8 | 9.9 (63)
GLENELG 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS:

Norwood: K. Fenton 3, M. Zander, N. Allen, J. Davies, L. Bigg, S. Armistead, M. Breed.
Glenelg: C. Gould.

ADC BEST:

Norwood: S. Armitstead, N. Allen, M. Zander, M. Breed, J. Macolino
Glenelg: D. Varnhagen, L. Armitage, M. Freeman, C. Gould, T. Kohn

Norwood has grabbed third spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder with a dominant 56-point win over Glenelg at Coopers Stadium. The Redlegs knew coming into the match they would face West Adelaide in a do-or-die semi-final, but finished off the way they wanted to with a commanding performance in front of home fans.

Norwood produced a dominant first half at Coopers Stadium where the Redlegs hardly gave Glenelg a chance. Piling on six goals to zero in the opening half and not allowing the Tigers to even register a score, the home team was in fine form. Kate Fenton booted two of those majors, with the zippy Matilda Zander also adding a goal in the opening term with a snap three minutes into the contest. Both Zander and Sophie Armitstead had big opening quarters in the match, while Mattea Breed and Leah Cutting were also controlling play around the ground.

For Glenelg, Lucy Armitage was trying hard, and Madisyn Freeman looking to create some run, but the Redlegs midfield took control against an onball division missing both Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones. Fenton kicked her couple of goals with one coming off a step and then another after some great team play, before Fenton got one in the dying moments for the last kick of the quarter to put her side four goals up at the first change.

The second term belonged to Norwood, controlling the play from the first whistle, and whilst Glenelg had some inside 50s, and even spent some time locked in there early in the term, the Bays could not get on the board. Tessa Kohn and Deni Varnhagen had some nice moments kicking forward, but the work of Zander, Armitstead and Najwa Allen – who by her standards had a quiet first term – had now popped up and was winning a truckload of the ball. It was Allen who broke the goal drought in the first half of the term with an important major, and then Cutting had a great tap down to Jade Davies a couple of minutes later for Norwood to capitalise again.

Sensing the game was slipping away, the Bays tried to steal back some of the momentum, but the defensive efforts of Armitstead and Shai Hiscock – who laid a great tackle in the back 50 – made it hard for the Tigers. Brooke Tonon, Sam Franson and Lauren Kenny had their moments in the term as well, with Tonon having a shot after the siren. Unfortunately for the teenager she was practically in the third row of the grandstand and with the siren blown, she had to keep her line and the banana kick cannoned into the behind post. At half-time, the scores read 6.4 (40) to 0.0 (0).

If the game was not done and dusted by the main break, then Norwood definitely put an exclamation mark on the performance in the third term, with three more goals, two of them coming in the last five minutes of the term. Glenelg started well with an early couple of chances but could only muster up one behind, whilst Norwood absorbed the pressure of the opening five minutes then dominated after that, and Glenelg was on the back foot.

There were a lot of rushed kicks out of the back 50 from the Tigers as they desperately held on, and eventually a quick kick off the line by the Bays was marked by Lindsay Bigg midway through the term and she delivered with her set shot just getting past Soriah Moon on the line. Bigg had a second chance minutes later with a set shot from 25m on a bit of an angle but it started left and never went back. By that point, the Redlegs had booted 1.4, but later goals to Armitstead – off a terrific low dart from Allen – and Breed – who ran into an open goal in the last few minutes – handed the home team a 61-point lead at the break. Cutting had the chance to extend that just before the siren, but her 45m distance fell short and was spoiled away on the siren.

The last term was a real dour affair, with Glenelg actually having the bulk of the play. But much like the opening three terms, the Bays could not capitalise on their chances, with the only major coming in the last two minutes when Caitlin Gould took a strong mark and converted the set shot for Glenelg’s last major of the season. The Bays went down by 56 points, and while they miss out on finals this year, at least finished by outscoring the Redlegs in the final term. Norwood had a number of chances going forward, but only kicked the one behind, not that it mattered in the 9.9 (63) to 1.1 (7) victory.

NORTH ADELAIDE 2.4 | 3.8 | 4.14 | 7.17 (59)
CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 (6)

GOALS:

North: A. Woodland 4, B. Perry 2, C. Taylor.
Central: R. Richardson.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Woodland, K. Harvey, B. Perry, H. Ewings, C. Taylor
Central: M. Lane, D. Sonneman, N. Biagi, L. Huynh, S. Murphy

In rounding out the 2020 season, North Adelaide finished the year with a 10-0 win-loss record thanks to a 53-point win over Central District. Despite the score, the Roosters were not afforded their usual freedom at times with the Bulldogs’ pressure right up there. North Adelaide also missed a lot of chances the Roosters would normally nail, and made it a closer game, but to restrict the top team to four goals in three quarters was regardless a great effort by Central.

With North Adelaide having already secured the minor premiership, the Roosters just had an unbeaten season on the line, whilst Central District was hoping to finish its year on a high after a promising second half to 2020. Whilst North always looked like winning, there were large patches where the Bulldogs matched it with the Roosters, giving Central positives heading into the 2021 season.

A couple of early behinds to North might have been ominous, but the Bulldogs defence, led by Nicola Biagi and Demi Sonneman held up well. Biagi had a couple of really good moments from intercept marks to shepherding her teammates, whilst Sonneman provided the drive off half-back. Kelly Barltrop was looking dangerous one-on-one inside 50, taking a couple of marks but instead giving off to a leading Charlotte Taylor in the 11th minute of the term for the Roosters to break what had been a real struggle in the opening 10 minutes.

They almost had another when Cristie Castle‘s bouncing ball headed towards goal to bounce over the head of the Central defender for Mollie McKendrick to snap at the top of the goalsquare. Unfortunately her snap skewed off the side of the boot for a behind, and then when in an almost identical situation moments later, put it through. Unfortunately for the red and white, the goal would not count as Central was awarded a free kick and ran it out of defence. North would put a second goal on the board however, as Ash Woodland marked 30m out straight in front after finding space and slotted the goal for a 16-point lead.

If one could not see the scoreboard, nor know anything about the competition prior to the match, you would assume these two sides were evenly matched. The Bulldogs were really taking it up to the Roosters, and had it not being for a clumsy late bump on Woodland, Central was poised to avoid conceding a goal to the minor premiers. Unfortunately the free was paid and with loose players forward of the ball, Britt Perry marked straight in front and with the last kick of the goal put through a breakthough major.

The goal was the first after four straight behinds for the Roosters, as Central’s Shelby Smith, Latiah Huynh and Sonneman had been ultra-impressive through the term. If they had not conceded the goal, it would have been the first time since March 14 that North had not kicked a goal in a quarter. But nonetheless, Central had held the usually high-powered scoring machine to just 3.8 in the first half, and whilst they had failed to score themselves, the Bulldogs had their own chances inside 50, but just could not finish off. Heading into half-time, Central would have been confident given their first half play.

The third term was one that could have blown the margin well out of proportion for the Roosters, but a remarkable six straight behinds from the minor premiers only marginally increased the difference between the sides. Yet again the Bulldogs could not score, but had done so well defensively to force misses from their usually-accurate opposition. It was not until an inside 50 and a favourable bounce for the Roosters saw Castle the beneficiary and Madison Lane the unlucky Central defender, as Castle handballed to Woodland to kick her second major of the contest with just two minutes remaining in the term.

The Roosters had a chance for back-to-back goals when Lauren Daniel took on Sonneman at half-forward and kicked to a one-on-one by Lane was up to the task and forced a stoppage. When the siren sounded moments later, North led 4.14 (38) to 0.0 (0) and realistically if the shots had been on target it could have been an ugly scoreline, but it was also credit to the Bulldogs’ defensive pressure to force mistakes.

The flood gates opened a bit more in the final term as the Roosters booted three final quarter goals as they finished the game with a remarkable 24 scoring shots to one. Perry slotted a her second goal four minutes into the quarter which was the quickest start for North in a term thus far. In a relieving effort, Renae Richardson was on the end of a nice end-to-end play from Central as Katelyn Rosenzweig hit up her teammate in the goalsquare and Richardson booted her third goal in two weeks to ensure the Bulldogs went out with a goal on the board.

Woodville-West Torrens came in and kicked a couple of goals to end the term, both on the run with one just strolling into goal, whilst another was a clever snap in the last few minutes. Whilst Woodland’s four-goal haul was superb, and Perry was terrific with her two majors and setting up numerous scoring opportunities, Kristi Harvey was one of the best on with her intercept ability, while Ewings and Daniel were others who stood out. for the Bulldogs, Lane was strong one-on-one, while Sonneman and Biagi were great in the back six, and Huynh and Allan consistent throughout. Zoe Perry was another Bulldogs player who laid a couple of big tackles and showed great signs in the final game of the year. In the end, North Adelaide saluted 7.17 (59) to 1.0 (6)

 

STURT 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
WWT EAGLES 0.3 | 1.8 | 1.8 | 3.13 (31)

GOALS: 

Sturt: H. Prenzler, J. Wittervan.
WWT: C. Forby 2, K. Lee.

ADC BEST:

Sturt: Z. Prowse, H. Prenzler, T. Hough, I. Kuiper, T. Prenzler
WWT: C. Forby, K. Lee, A. Falkenberg, C. Dolan, R. Forth

Woodville-West Torrens has avoided the 2020 SANFL Women’s wooden spoon after a last round victory against Sturt at Peter Motley Oval. It was the Eagles’ second win for both the season and in the club’s history after beating Glenelg back in Round 4 just prior to the break. By winning, the Eagles sentenced Central District to last place by percentage, and showed they are on the improve after a winless 2019 inaugural season.

The match was a scrappy affair and not alway accurate, as the Eagles booted 3.13 (31) to 2.4 (16), taking until the final term to really stamp the authority on the game with a couple of crucial majors in the last 10 minutes guaranteeing them the win. Sturt had led at both quarter time and three quarter time in a seesawing contest, and while the Double Blues managed to have greater accuracy, had far less time in their forward half – albeit from a third term dominance – and therefore were unable to come away with the win.

Sturt started the match in fine form with Hannah Prenzler booting the opening goal just 64 seconds into the match. It would be the only major for the first term as the teams combined for five straight behinds to head into quarter time, 1.2 (8) to 0.3 (3) in favour of the home side. Charlotte Dolan was providing good run early for the eagles, while Jovanka Zecevic, Amie Blanden and Anastasia Falkenberg were all getting their hands on the ball in the opening quarter. Sturt had more than its fair share of opportunities, with one shot hitting the post from a metre out, and then another shot – when Isobel Kuiper and Alex Ballard combined – falling short in the last couple of minutes. Co-captain Georgia Bevan had the last shot of the match but it was off-line for a behind to make it a five-point ball game.

Just two minutes into the second term and Chloe Forby – who had been solid to that point – took a flying shot from outside 50 and somehow there was no one in the goalsquare and it bounced home for a long-range beauty. It handed the Eagles the lead early in the quarter, and they dominated possession, scoring five consecutive behinds to end the first half. Realistically, the Eagles should have been in front by even more than that six behinds, as Forby, Bronwyn Davey and Kiana Lee all had chances to add more majors to the board.

The pressure from Sturt’s defence had to be commended though, with the likes of Taylor Prenzler and JoAnna Baltais settling things down deep in the back 50. Dolan and Forby were among the best Eagles, while Tesharna Maher provided great run off half-back and Zoe Prowse was dominating from the ruck to around the ground.

Unlike the opening half, Sturt took full control of the third term, keeping it in the forward half for the majority of the contest, and holding the Eagles scoreless in the term. It was enough for Jaimee Wittervan‘s goal – a mark and set shot 20m out – to be the turning point and put the Double Blues in front at the final change. Lee was trying hard on the last line, while Jamie Parish was impressing for the Eagles. Prenzler and Prowse continued their good form in the third term for the home team as Sturt as in the box seat, albeit with a narrow two-point lead.

Unfortunately for the home fans, the final term was a reverse of the third one as the Eagles took control from the opening bounce and after a couple of behinds – a rushed one and a set shot from Zecevic – the scores were all tied up. Renee Forth had been a consistent performer throughout the game and continued to apply pressure, as did Falkenberg who forced a miskick in the fifth minute and eventually a turnover. Hannah Prenzler and Tiah Hough were busy through the middle third, but the game finally had another goal when on the counter attack, a kick inside 50 had the Sturt defence outnumbered three to two. The ball hit the deck as two bodies fell, Forby picked up the ball and with the help of a Lee shepherd, booted through another.

Sealing the match four minutes later, Forby was again involved with an intercept handball and kicked deep to the goalsquare where this time the number 18 returned the favour for Lee with a good kick and last year’s club leading goalkicker did not let her down from 15m out. The two-goal term and holding the Double Blues scoreless in the quarter saw the Eagles get up, 3.13 (31) to 2.4 (16).

SANFL Women’s weekend preview: Round 10 – Four teams bid 2020 farewell as final round takes place

FINALS are set in stone for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, and for Glenelg, Sturt, Central District and Woodville-West Torrens, it is the end of the road with the season completed by Saturday evening. For the four other sides, their seasons are very much alive with both finals opponents set in stone, as North Adelaide should host South Adelaide next weekend, whilst depending on results this weekend, West Adelaide and Norwood will jostle for home ground honours in their respective clashes.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, August 1, 9.30am
Hisense Stadium

In the game of the round, two sides that could well face off at some point during the finals series go at it in Round 10 for a blockbuster clash. Both sides welcome back some big guns for their teams, as Abbie Ballard returns for West Adelaide, while Montana McKinnon has been named for her first Panthers game since returning from injury after the long break. South has also take the chance to blood Willunga debutant Kristen Rothwell, who joins a ridiculous amount of talent coming in. Not only is McKinnon a boost to the reigning premiers, but vital midfielder Czenya Cavouras, and reliable young defender Samantha Pratt return from one-week injury issues, while Lucy Northcott is also back in the team after missing for work purposes. Among the outs are Madison Bennett and Brooklyn Kraft with the former being managed ahead of the finals series.

This clash will be a perfect tune up for the sides ahead of finals, and South Adelaide are humming quite nicely at the moment, getting the job done without being dominant, but just controlling play and doing enough to keep the opposition at arms-length. West Adelaide had looked super impressive up until a bit of a stumble last weekend, when they realistically kicked themselves out of the game and did not have their usual time and space that makes the Bloods so damaging. The game will be potentially won and lost in the midfield with Ballard, Rachelle Martin and Zoe Venning going head-to-head with Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, whilst Hannah Munyard proved to be an inspiration down forward last week. Still missing Jess Kirk, the Panthers will need to combat the strength of the West Adelaide forward line which includes Chelsea Biddell, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Kasia Culhane. Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann off half-back will provide some good speed and skill, whilst Pratt and Lisa Whiteley will do the same up the other end.

South Adelaide is the more reliable choice in this match, as you know what the Panthers will produce. West Adelaide could certainly win this clash if the Bloods can play at their best, but cannot afford to play at the same level as last week or the Panthers will be too strong and make the most of their opportunities.

STURT vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Peter Motley Oval

Neither of these sides can push for finals, but the Eagles have a chance to get off the bottom of the table with a win against the Double Blues, whilst Sturt can move up to fifth on the table with victory. Alex Ballard is one of three inclusions for the double Blues, whilst the Eagles have taken the opportunity to blood a debutant in their final game, with SMOSH West Lakes’ Alysha Fitzgerald coming in and slotting into the back pocket while the absence of Stephane Walker who is out with concussion will be missed.

As the two lowest scoring sides, this could be a real arm-wrestle, but also a territory game. Both sides enjoy the defensive aspects with heavy pressure and lots of strong tackles. Zoe Prowse is in ripping form and likely to have another field day through the ruck, whilst the midfield battle between the likes of Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Isobel Kuiper against Renee Forth, Anastasia Falkenberg and Jovanka Zecevic will be a fascinating one. Kiana Lee has been named at full-forward, and no doubt the Sturt defence led by Larissa Schenscher and JoAnna Baltais will make life difficult for here. Tesharna Maher and Charlotte Dolan provide some good speed for the Eagles, whilst the Double Blues have an abundance of youth, which includes the likes of Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler who can all play in multiple positions.

This game is arguably the hardest to tip because both have had big losses to North Adelaide in recent weeks, but Sturt drew with Norwood the week before, so should start favourites. The Eagles are better than a one-win season side, but will need to show it here to double their wins tally in 2020.

 

NORWOOD vs. GLENELG
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Coopers Stadium

In what will likely be the second best game of the round, Norwood hosts Glenelg for a chance at grabbing third spot and returning to Coopers Stadium a week later against the Bloods. With South Adelaide every chance to take the points against West Adelaide, the Redlegs can pounce and grab third and all they need is a win. For Glenelg, the Bays might have missed out on the chance to play for a finals spot this round, but knocking off Norwood in the last round would be satisfying. Norwood has lost a bit of talent up forward with captain Alison Ferrall and Alana Lischmund both out of the side, meaning the Redlegs will need to shuffle the magnets around. Chloe Karamoshos and Cassandra Tsoumbris have been named in the starting side with an extended bench ahead of the clash, whilst the Bays have also named an extended bench, but will still be without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones to close out the season.

Without two of their clever forwards in Ferrall and Lischmund, Norwood will have to think outside the box, and potentially get the midfield group to hit the scoreboard, as Jess Macolino and Matilda Zander can do from time to time. Mattea Breed is a strong contested mark and will likely spend time down there, whilst Najwa Allen can also play deep if required. Another option is throwing either Bella Smith or Leah Cutting into attack to provide some height and strength in the air, while Tessa Hankinson provided some liveliness inside 50 last week. The Glenelg defence does well with its rotations as Deni Varnhagen, Ellie Kellock and Lucy Armitage can all rotate through their from the middle, while Caitlin Gould can play either end, but is more damaging up forward after spending time in the ruck. Tessa Kohn was terrific last week, whilst the young brigade in Sam Franson, Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon were also impressive and provide some exciting moments.

Both teams are missing some quality players, but there is more on the line for Norwood so it makes sense to lean the way of the Redlegs, though Gould is a player who can turn a match. Without their couple of other game-breakers in Jones and Marinoff it will make life a little tougher.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, August 1, 1.15pm
Coopers Stadium

There is no denying this is a huge challenge for Central District. The Bulldogs are a really improved side this season, with the losses a lot more competitive and their best ultra-impressive. Last round they were super, and if they had finished off in front of goal, they would have really pushed the Panthers. In saying that, this North Adelaide side is quite simply a machine at the moment. They have not conceded a goal in eight quarters, and quite frankly destroyed both Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Central District has proven it has more capability to score than both those sides, but they have to get on top in the midfield. They have brought in Nicola Biagi and Nikki Cullen with Ella Mickan and Caitlen Teague out of he side, while the Roosters will be without their star in Anne Hatchard for the final game of the regular season. Never mind that too much because they bring in a former competition leading goalkicker in Kelly Barltrop, as well as their in-from first season ruck, Bek Rasheed to provide greater strength through the middle.

There are many reasons why North can win this game, but the greater analysis is what can Central do to try and cause the biggest upset of the season? The Bulldogs must win the midfield battle and be unpredictable going forward. Shelby Smith, Alicia Butler and Sarah Allan have a great mix of different attributes through the middle from their toughness, speed and penetrating kick that can hurt opposition onball groups in many ways. Without Hatchard in the middle, it takes away the player you know is going to rack up 30-40 touches which is already a plus. But the speed of Hannah Ewings, the class of Ash Woodland and the tenacity of Leah Tynan, before you even get to the wingers in Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet who can both roll forward, the Roosters have depth like no other side. The forward line is so damaging you can try and stop one player and another will pop up. No one has been able to stop the Roosters all season. But while offensively North is a super side, the Roosters also have an unbelievable defence. Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey are rocks back there, which will be why Central has to be smart using the ball forward. Talia Radan and Lauren Gauci add some extra strength to the defensive back six, which is why any opposition to North Adelaide has to be efficient.

North Adelaide is just too big, too strong and too good, but despite this being a top against second bottom clash, this actually could be exciting. Central District is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and go all-out, and realistically, that is what you have to do against the Roosters. Given the Roosters have nothing to lose other than a perfect regular season, the Bulldogs could really pounce. In saying that, North has not even come close to looking vulnerable in the past few weeks and should win comfortably. However you can guarantee the game will be close than the past couple of weeks because this Bulldogs side is one to watch next season.