Tag: Millie Brown

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Blues keep touch with top six

CARLTON made an emphatic return to the winners list on Sunday, feasting on a winless Geelong side to salute by 33 points at Princes Park. The Blues were in a scoring mood and proved efficient in front of goal, leading at every break and notching their highest total of the season to run out 10.4 (64) to 4.7 (31) victors. The win also sees Carlton keep touch with the top six.

Geelong booted the first goal of the game through Rebecca Webster, but a quick Darcy Vescio double from deep ensured the Blues would claim the lead and never look back. Along with Vescio, Georgia Gee and Serena Gibbs also finished with two goals as the trio accounted for over half of their side’s score.

Reigning league best and fairest Madison Prespakis shook off an early injury concern to lead all comers on the day, finishing with 28 disposals and a goal on her return from suspension. Both sides have some lingering injury issues coming out of the game though, with Carlton’s Mimi Hill (knee) and Geelong’s Millie Brown (hamstring) having their outings cut short.

Prespakis and Vescio were among Carlton’s best, while skipper Kerryn Harrington proved adventurous from half-back and Grace Egan continued her fine form through midfield. Both collected over 20 disposals. Webster proved Geelong’s best afield with 1.2 from her 22 touches, as Amy and Meghan McDonald again played important roles, and Phoebe McWilliams looked lively for her three minor scores.

Both sides face a seven-day turnaround as they again prepare for games on Sunday, with the Blues again hosting at Princes Park as Fremantle rolls into town, while Geelong travels to take on the West Coast Eagles at Mineral Resources Park.

CARLTON 4.0 | 6.1 | 8.3 | 10.4 (64)
GEELONG 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 4.7 (31)

GOALS:

Carlton: S. Gibbs 2, D. Vescio 2, G. Gee 2, N. Stevens, G. Pound, M. Prespakis, N. Plane
Geelong: R. Webster, O. Barber, R. Cranston, D. Higgins

DC BEST

Carlton: M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, G. Egan, K. Harrington, E. O’Dea, A. McKay
Geelong: 
R. Webster, A. McDonald, M.McDonald, P. McWilliams, J. Crockett-Gills

Image Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

MAGPIES’ SECOND HALF SWOOP SINKS BULLDOGS

COLLINGWOOD kept its perfect record intact and snapped the Western Bulldogs’ win streak in one fell swoop on Sunday, defeating the Dogs by 36 points at Victoria Park. Having only managed seven behinds in the first half, the Pies sunk as many goals thereafter to remain top of the tree with a comprehensive 7.9 (51) to 2.3 (15) triumph.

Young pup Elizabeth Georgostathis booted the sole major in a one-goal first half, before the contest began to open up and Collingwood soared ahead. The Magpies’ superior spread and daring ball use began to pay dividends as the inexperienced Bulldogs fell away under pressure, making for a match befitting of the old ‘game of two halves’ cliche.

Pies fans were treated to some nostalgia as father-daughter selection Tarni Brown launched a terrific goal at Collingwood’s spiritual home, before finishing with 15 disposals and four marks. Bri Davey was excellent with 28 touches and a goal, while Brittany Bonnici was Collingwood’s other key ball winner. Chloe Molloy again proved lively inside 50, booting two goals alongside debutant Abbi Moloney.

Hardened Bulldogs Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb shouldered a heap of responsibility in the midfield battle, but could not quite spark the rest of their side going forward. Ashleigh Guest was strong in defence with five marks among her 16 touches, while Isabelle Pritchard was afforded some midfield time on debut and spearhead Isabel Huntington was kept goalless for the first time this season.

The ladder leading Magpies take on Brisbane next time out in what should be a blockbuster on the road, while the Western Bulldogs are set for another tough test when they lock horns with North Melbourne in Tasmania.

COLLINGWOOD 0.5 | 0.7 | 4.8 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.3 (15)   

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 2, A. Moloney 2, S. Layton, B. Davey, T. Brown
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, J. Fitzgerald

BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, B. Bonnici, C. Molloy, T. Brown, S. Livingstone
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, A. Guest, B. Lochland, J. Fitzgerald

Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

DOCKERS ROMP RIVALS IN REBOUND WIN

FREMANTLE has rebounded from last week’s loss in style, thumping local rival West Coast by 67 points on Sunday to return to the winners list. A 34-point lead was established by half time and the Dockers never looked back, restricting West Coast to just one goal while piling on the second-highest total in AFLW history to come away 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8) victors.

Having been held to just one major of their own last time out, the Dockers regained their spark forward of centre to overwhelm the Eagles and claim a second Western Derby win in 2021. It was also the largest margin managed among these two sides’ three meetings, and an especially far cry from the nine-point thriller in Round 2.

Kiara Bowers claimed another Western Derby medal as best afield, collecting 24 disposals as the leader of her team’s dominant midfield. Gemma Houghton rocketed to equal-top of the goalkicking charts with five goals, supported wonderfully by Sabreena Duffy (three goals) and Roxy Roux (two) in a dynamic forward trio. Ebony Antonio was also prominent with 23 touches.

Aisling McCarthy was West Coast’s best, the only Eagle to tick over 20 touches as young gun Bella Lewis and Niamh Kelly (both 17) also contributed solidly in the loss. Grace Kelly booted her side’s sole goal of the game and was another to stand up despite the lop-sided scoreline.

Fremantle’s next assignment is a trip to Victoria to face Carlton at Princes Park, while West Coast will remain in its home state and host Geelong at Mineral Resources Park, perhaps fancying a second win for the season.

FREMANTLE 2.2 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 11.9 (75)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 5, S. Duffy 3, R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: G. Kelly

BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, G. Houghton, E. Antonio, S. Duffy, R. Roux, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: A. McCarthy, B. Lewis, N. Kelly, G. Kelly, M. Bowen

NAB League Girls Round 1 preview: Undefeated 2020 sides to face off in huge round of action

AT least one of the three undefeated sides from the 2020 NAB League Girls season will extend their winning run to 18 months or more, when the competition returns this weekend. Starting tomorrow, the NAB League Girls will have six games across four different venues – including one double-header – in a new footballing landscape for 2021. For Dandenong Stingrays, they will have to tack on an extra week to their extended break that saw the 2020 season come to an unfulfilled end last year, after they were handed the bye. For the 12 other teams, it will be a chance to start the season off on the right note. For the likes of Northern Knights, Oakleigh Chargers and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, they look to continue what they started last year, having not lost since 2019, or in the Knights’ case, the 2018 grand final.

Eastern Ranges vs. Western Jets
Saturday, February 6 @ 12pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve

In what is officially the first NAB League Girls game in almost 12 months, Western Jets will cross the West Gate Bridge and head down to Kilsyth Recreation Reserve where the Eastern Ranges will be waiting for them. These teams last played way back in Round 4, 2019, when the Ranges easily accounted for the Jets by 43 points. A dominant second half where they booted 6.2 to 0.0 saw them run out 7.4 to 0.3 winners, with Olivia Meagher picking up 17 disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s.

Meagher has been named for the match tomorrow, with last year’s captain to play as a 19-year-old prospect in 2020. She is the only Ranges player from that match to remain on the list, whilst a trio of then 15-year-old talents in Caitlin Sargent, Trinity Skenderis and Jemima Woods – as well as now top-age and over-age talents respectively, Nikita Wright and Ciara Singleton – all remain on the Jets’ list having played in that match.

Looking at the teams, the match will be won and lost in the middle, with the Jets having some great height, whilst the Ranges have speed to burn. That is not to say the respective teams do not have the opposite as well, but they are damaging in their respective areas. For the home team, Jorja Livingstone was a player who really shone last year and is a clean ball user and able to work her way out of stoppages. She will team up with the likes of Meagher and Bridget Deed in the middle, roving Georgia Campbell‘s taps. Up forward, Matilda Hardy, Jade Hutchison and Isabella Khoury are ones to watch, whilst Saskia Nannes will be a potential big improver with more matches after having the season cut short last year.

For Western, their under-age group is brimming with talent, though now with extra experience, Sargent, Skenderis and Woods will be among those to watch. Montana Ham and Charlotte Baskaran present as two of the top 2022 prospects, with Ham’s versatility and size through the midfield hard to match, while Baskaran’s run and carry – as well as her elite use by foot – will provide a one-two punch that is always difficult to combat.

This is a game that could go right down to the wire, and difficult to predict with so many new players, but Eastern might have the upper hand at home.

Murray Bushrangers vs. Bendigo Pioneers
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.15pm
JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga

From the east to the far north, Murray Bushrangers will host Bendigo Pioneers in a terrific spectacle for the country regions at Yarrawonga. Both these teams have a talented tall in the AFL Women’s Academy which makes things exciting. These two teams have also not played since March 30, 2019 when the Pioneers – during their most successful season to-date – toppled the Bushrangers by 14 points in Wangaratta.

That day it was Annabel Strahan (now Bulldogs) who had 20 touches, seven tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) and Brooke Hards (17 disposals, three marks, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and three rebounds) who teamed up to cause havoc on the Bushrangers, while Millie Brown (now Geelong) racked up 27 disposals and six rebounds, and Abby Favell (22 disposals, five marks eight tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds) were the best for the losing side.

A then 15-year-old Ally Morphett had 11 disposals, two marks, 14 hitouts and two inside 50s, with the now AFL Women’s Academy member looming as the key player for the Bushrangers. Bendigo’s Academy member Tara Slender also played in that match, picking up seven disposals and having six hitouts, though the pair are unlikely to spend too much time one-on-one considering Slender will roll through a key position role and Morphett will be one of the dominant rucks in the competition.

Looking at the overall squads, Murray’s defence is strong given the likes of Mindy Quade and Kristy Whitehead provided plenty of run down there – though could be utilised further up the ground this season. Lily Sharp has been touted as one to watch by the Bushrangers’ coaching staff following a big off-season, and Keeley Skepper remains one of Vic Country’s top talents for 2022. Kate Adams returning as co-captain and providing experience and strength in the midfield will also be important.

For the Pioneers, Slender could be the top Vic Country prospect this year and will always be difficult to beat in the air, with the Pioneers’ captain not having to shoulder the ruck load given Madeline Marks‘ efforts in 2020. She will have her hands full against Morphett but it could be a fascinating battle, while Jayda Richardson, and now top-age talents Elizabeth Snell and Jemma Finning provide much needed experience to a really young Pioneers outfit.

Murray is excited about the depth of its squad in 2021, and while the Pioneers have some great young talents coming through, the extra experience for the Bushrangers – and what they started to show last year – should have them favourites at home in Yarrawonga.

Gippsland Power vs. Tasmania Devils
Saturday, February 6 @ 12.30pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In a battle between two teams that are building exciting programs, Gippsland Power “hosts” Tasmania Devils at Highgate Recreation Reserve. The furthest south east side travel up the highway to welcome the league’s newest team that only managed to taste one game in Victoria last year. The Devils had a rough introduction to the NAB League Girls competition – though the improvement from their brutal loss to Oakleigh Chargers to being competitive for the most part against Eastern Ranges has plenty of people buoyant about what they could produce in 2021.

These teams have never played before, and both have younger lists, sprinkled with some top-age and over-age experience. Key position players Camilla Taylor and Shanara Notman are the 20-year-old allowances in those sides, and have the size to cause a matchup dilemma for their respective opponents. Tasmania Devils have the sole AFL Women’s Academy member in this match, with the speedy Perri King looking to breakdown the Power’s zones and create some important run and carry for her side.

Aside from King, Amy Prokopiec remains a player to watch, having predominantly played as a last-line defender in previous seasons for the Devils, but became a reliable goalscoring threat in the TSL Women’s for Clarence. Other players who stood out 12 months ago include Jemma Blair, Aprille Crooks, Chelsea Thomas, Zoe Bourne and Meghan Gaffney. Having received an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite without managing to get on the park in the NAB League Girls, Charlie Vandenberg will get a great opportunity in the ruck and rotating forward with Taylor against one of Vic Country’s top ruck prospects.

Grace Matser is going to be difficult to stop, with the ruck battle set to be a duel within the match not to be missed. As the only Power player above 180cm, she will look to control the airways. The Gippsland midfield has some nice depth to it, with Grace McRae returning to the fold after being unlucky to miss out on the draft in 2020, and will get a good chance to play consecutive games this season. Matilda Van Berkel is another one with experience and able to play a number of roles, while Holly Booth and Sunday Brisbane are among those tipped to cause problems for the opposition. One name to remember for next year is Lily-Rose Williamson who has come through the V/Line Cup program and been one ready to step up at the level.

This game is as 50/50 as they come, so as is often the case in 50/50 games, we will lean towards the “home” team in Gippsland Power, though Tasmania Devils will be keen to sniff out their first win in the competition.

Geelong Falcons vs. GWV Rebels
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Deakin University – Geelong

The final country game of the round occurs down in Geelong at Deakin University when the Falcons host the GWV Rebels. Much like the earlier two Saturday games, these two teams last played back in Round 4, 2019, when the Falcons – on their way to another finals series and coming off a premiership in 2018 – defeated the young Rebels by 36 points at City Oval in Ballarat. Luka Lesosky-Hay (31 disposals), Darcy Moloney (23) and Lucy McEvoy (22) all suffered leather poisoning and showed why they were capable of playing at the top level, whilst Nekaela Butler picked up 21 disposals and had six rebounds bravely defending for the home team.

There are a sprinkling of players from that day that remain on the lists in 2021, such as AFL Women’s Academy member Ella Friend, and Chloe Leonard and Crystal Summers (GWV Rebels), and Zoe Garth, Renee Tierney, Poppy Schapp and Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong). Those players will provide great experience for their respective sides in that clash, in what is sure to feature some of the best talent in the NAB League Girls competition.

The Falcons might not have an Academy member, but have plenty of developing young players, with Dowling a presence in the back half but can play anywhere, Annie Lee beside her in defence, Keeley Hardingham controlling the ruck, and Mia Van Dyke a bottom-age prospect who will be one to watch for next year able to roll through the midfield. Geelong has always been a team flushed with depth, and 2021 appears to be the same, with no shortage of talent across all three lines.

Alongside Friend – who will be that taller marking target at half-forward – Nyakoat Dojiok is the other AFL Women’s Academy member on the Rebels’ list. The running defender could start off half-back or roam along a wing depending on the team’s needs, able to add that mix of power and acceleration to breakaway from would-be tacklers. Leonard returns to the club as a new top-ager and one who will settle down the defence, while Stephanie Glover, Lilli Condon and Summers are some of the names to watch in the match.

Geelong have had such success over the past few years, it is hard to look past them at home. The Rebels will provide a great contest, but we will find out where both these teams are at following the Round 1 encounter.

Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons
Sunday, February 7 @ 11am
Highgate Recreation Reserve

In the first double-header of the year, a star-studded Calder Cannons outfit hosts an ever-growing talent base in the Sandringham Dragons. The last time these two met was in 2019 back in Round 3, as the Cannons went on to make the grand final that year. They only scored two behinds in the first half and trailed by five points at the main break, before booting the last four goals of the game to win 4.8 (32) to 1.3 (9) over the Dragons at Trevor Barker Oval.

Alice Burke (St Kilda) and Sarah Hartwig (Bulldogs) were among the top players for the Dragons, whilst it was Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda) and Krstel Petrevski (Melbourne) who shone from those who have been drafted. Best on ground that day was Georgie Prespakis who lit it up with 23 disposals, three marks, eight tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds. The now-Cannons captain will look to have an equally big impact this year, while Emelia Yassir, Kasey Lennox, Alisa Magri, Zali Friswell and Neve Crowley are just a handful of the talented names who also played as 15/16-year-old talents on that day.

The Cannons have proven to have such great development over the past few years, and all the above names along with Mali McLeod, Peppa Poultney and Jessica Zakkour makes them a rock solid team across the board. Though their opponents are no slouches either. Back in the 2019 clash, now-captain Kiana Lynch, as well as the likes of Charli Murphy, Summer Trim, Emma Stuber, Isabella Stutt, Ebony Angelopoulos and Chloe Saultry all took to the field, so the Dragons have a core of players with plenty of experience under their belt.

Murphy will provide that marking target up forward, while Lynch will lead a host of bottom-agers with future potential. Bridie Hipwell and Sofia Hurley are just a couple of names who still have another year to go after this one, but are becoming key players in the Dragons outfit going forward. They made great strides last season and play what would be considered the benchmark team in the competition first-up here.

Calder Cannons deserve to be favourites for the overall title, so it is hard to tip against them in any game. The Dragons will be up and about and likely to be among the contenders this season too, so buckle up for an exciting contest.

Northern Knights vs. Oakleigh Chargers
Sunday, February 7 @ 12.45pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve

Wrapping up the weekend might just be the tightest of the lot, with both Northern Knights and Oakleigh Chargers going undefeated last year, and technically the Knights are still the reigning premiers from 2019. Both these sides had a host of players drafted in 2020, with the Knights having the first three Victorian players taken in the draft. These two sides played back in Round 2, 2019, when they played out a thrilling draw in what would be the only match where the Knights did not collect the full points that season.

Future AFL Women’s talents, Ellie McKenzie, Britney Gutknecht, Gabby Newton and Alyssa Bannan were the best for the Knights, while Mimi Hill, Joanna Lin, Alana Porter and Emily Harley all shone for the Chargers. Also playing that day was now AFL Women’s Academy member, Maykaylah Appleby who leads the Knights charge in 2021, with Teleah Smart, Mikayla Plunkett, Jessica Simpson and Tallia Pulcino among the current-listed Northern players running around that day.

Appleby is the one to watch this season, but the Knights have brought back a host of top-age players such as Plunkett, Pulcino, Maeve Chaplin, Trinity Mills and Gulia Ceravolo, so have plenty of experience to guide the next crop of Knights talents. Some names to watch this year aside from the above group with a point to prove are the likes of defender Tarrah Delgado and ruck Georgia Kitchell who showed some promising signs in the short 2020 season.

The Chargers had the likes of Taylah Morton, Kalarni Kearns, Charlie Rowbottom, Eliza James and Emma Chamberlain running around in the draw with the Knights, and have been growing some phenomenal depth of late. Rowbottom is the AFL Women’s Academy talent and if she crosses paths with Appleby, it will provide plenty of highlights. Add in the likes of top-ager Amanda Ling, middle-ager Stella Reid, and bottom-ager Rianna Thiele, and the Chargers have built an exciting list.

Another 50/50 split game that could go either way. It is hard to look past the Knights’ success rate, but what the Chargers were starting to do last year, the depth is among the best going around so Oakleigh could become the first team to knock off Northern in almost three years.

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 2 preview – Pioneer Blues and Bulldogs open Pride Round

PRIDE is the theme of Round 2 in the 2021 AFL Women’s season, as the competition holds its inaugural Pride Round. The Western Bulldogs and Carlton, who have previously hosted annual Pride matches, will open the weekend’s action on Friday night as the remaining fixtures fall into place after multiple shake-ups. Remarkably, all seven games are set to go ahead in the rejigged round, with results as important as ever among the continual pandemic-produced unpredictability.

Note: All start times are local

Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton
Friday February 5, 7:45pm
Whitten Oval

Western Bulldogs and Carlton kick off Pride Round at Whitten Oval on Friday night, marking a historic and important event on the AFL Women’s calendar. Both sides remain searching for their first wins in 2021 after opening round losses, with a dreaded 0-2 start awaiting the team which goes down once again.

Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke has enacted four changes to the side which lost to St Kilda, with young pups Gemma Lagioia and Britney Gutknecht among the casualties. Carlton has been forced into just one change, as key defender Mua Laloifi misses through the updated concussion protocols and is replaced by Jess Edwards at half-back.

Laloifi’s absence may open the door for the Dogs to excel in attack, leaving Charlotte Wilson to shoulder a heap of intercept work against a forwardline spearheaded by Izzy Huntington. But the ball will have to get there first, with Carlton’s hardened midfield out to prove a point having been definitively blitzed by Collingwood in the second term last time out.

Tip: The Bulldogs are slowly finding their feet, but the Blues should come out firing after a shock loss. Wet weather will play a factor in the margin, Blues by 11.

Collingwood vs. Geelong
Saturday February 6, 3:10pm
Victoria Park

A fixture shuffle has seen Collingwood and Geelong land each other in Round 2, with football returning to the Magpies’ spiritual home of Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon. The Cats are coming off a 62-point drubbing at the hands of North Melbourne, while Collingwood opened the season with an impressive upset victory over traditional rival, Carlton, making for very contrasting formlines.

The Magpies’ midfield was excellent last time out and a new-look forwardline featuring Chloe Molloy and Bri Davey looks poised for more success in 2021. One of the Cats’ best lines is its defence though, with skipper Meghan McDonald supported well by the likes of Maddy McMahon, Amy McDonald, and Millie Brown.

Collingwood will be without recruit Aliesha Newman after she was handed a one-week ban for her sling tackle on Carlton’s Laloifi, but the Pies’ confidence should be sky high nonetheless. On the other hand, Geelong will have to quickly pick up the pieces to recover here, especially after an impotent display forward of centre in Round 1.

Tip: Collingwood looks set to be one of the big risers in 2021 and while Geelong has potential, its young side will likely work in peaks and troughs. Another trough here for the Cats, Pies by 23.

Melbourne vs. Richmond
Saturday February 6, 5:10pm
Casey Fields

Riding the wave of a Round 1 win, Melbourne hosts Richmond at Casey Fields on Saturday night looking to go two from two. Both sides took on Queensland teams last week but came out with contrasting results; as the Dees clicked into gear after quarter time to trump Gold Coast, while Richmond could only hang with Brisbane for a half before giving way in a five-goal loss.

The Lions may have uncovered a continued area of weakness for Richmond after tagging Monique Conti out of the first half, with Melbourne’s engine room typically an area of depth and prosperity. The Dees should again thrive in the midfield battle, though look for the likely tussle between first year jets Ellie McKenzie and Eliza McNamara to provide great entertainment on the outer.

Melbourne could quickly stake its claim for another finals berth should it string together some early wins, but the Tigers have shown signs of improvement and will hardly go down easily. Still searching for their maiden AFLW win, the Tigers have plenty to play for and will hope to avoid being the league’s cellar dweller for a second year running.

Tip: Melbourne looks a side determined to keep touch with the true premiership contenders, but cannot be caught lacking against the hungry Tigers. Still, the red and blue side should be too good all around the ground, Dees by 27.

North Melbourne vs. St Kilda
Sunday February 7, 1:10pm
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne will be out to build on its formidable early form, if possible, when St Kilda rolls into Arden Street Oval for their Sunday afternoon clash. The Roos set a high ceiling with their maiden 2021 performance, which yielded the greatest opening round percentage in AFL/AFLW history. St Kilda is also in winning form, though having shaken off the Western Bulldogs in Moorabbin.

It is no secret that North Melbourne bats a ridiculously deep midfield, boasting arguably the most damaging brigade of ball winners in the competition. St Kilda’s young pair of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith will do their best to match the forward run-and-carry of North’s prime movers, especially after such promising showings last week.

North Melbourne has plenty of avenues to goal, with rotating ruck Emma King back to her scoring ways after three goals last week, while the Saints also showed they will not be entirely dependant on spearhead Caitlin Greiser to kick a winning score. Matching the Roos’ firepower will be tough, but could be manageable depending on the conditions and North Melbourne’s mood.

Tip: St Kilda will likely provide a much greater test for North and should stick with them in patches, but do not quite have the stock to go with a switched-on blue and white outfit for four quarters, Roos by 21.

Brisbane vs. Gold Coast
Sunday February 7, 2:10pm
Hickey Park

The second-ever AFL Women’s Q-Clash is set to go down on Sunday afternoon, as the Lions and Suns meet at Hickey Park having initially been poised against Victorian opponents. The makeshift fixture should provide fireworks, with last year’s inaugural all-Queensland dig ending in an enthralling draw, meaning bragging rights are well and truly up for grabs here.

Brisbane will look to replicate last year’s early run of form with a second win on the trot, while Gold Coast is still out to open its account for the season after an opening round loss to Melbourne. Both sides boast some terrific young talent, with the Lions’ Isabel Dawes fresh off a best-afield performance, and Gold Coast’s Kalinda Howarth hungry to hit the scoreboard after a goalless outing last week.

The experience is also there, headlined by Brisbane’s strong foundation crop – which may soon be bolstered by Jess Wuetschner – and opposed by Gold Coast’s new-look forwardline, which features vice-captain Sarah Perkins. Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan will have plenty to do in midfield against the Lions’ strong ball winners, making for an intriguing clearance battle.

Tip: You can never count the fighting Suns out, especially with their youthful exuberance, but the Lions look a slight step ahead and should come away with bragging rights over their neighbours. Lions by 10.

GWS vs. Adelaide
Sunday February 7, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

GWS is back home after a well-travelled preseason, set to host Adelaide at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday evening. Both teams were thrown into isolation after Round 1 and have undergone improvised solo training sessions for most of the week, which will inevitably show in how either side adjusts to the disruptions thrown their way.

Adelaide looks like quickly returning to its fearsome best in 2021, with the Crows’ many stars aligning to win big las week. Erin Phillips will hope to again take hold as she gets a clean run at it, while some added dynamism in the potential moving parts of Chelsea Randall, Ebony Marinoff, and Sarah Allan will give GWS plenty of headaches.

The Giants have showcased their fighting spirit and have the experience to give the Crows a good run here. An even five-goal loss to Fremantle in Round 1 was less than ideal on a pure results basis, but some strong contested work in the first half should put GWS in good stead to compete against top sides, like Adelaide, for periods of time.

Tip: Revenge will be in mind after GWS ended Adelaide’s finals hopes last year, and the visitors should have too much grunt going forward from midfield. Crows by 26.

Fremantle vs. West Coast
Sunday February 7, 4:15pm
Fremantle Oval

The Western Derby is on in Round 2 after last-minute confirmation of the bout came today, with Fremantle and West Coast set to lock horns in the weekend’s closing fixture. Akin to players in the Adelaide-GWS clash, both teams have been limited training-wise with just an hour of exercise permitted under Western Australia’s lockdown laws.

Freo looks every bit the powerhouse last year’s undefeated run suggested, maintaining their winning streak with a powerful Round 1 victory. West Coast looks an improved side despite falling well short of Adelaide in the end. While the Eagles managed 2.6 (18), the Dockers excelled with 8.10 (58) in their opening fixture.

That immense gap in scoring should again prove telling, with Fremantle’s dynamic and game-breaking forward movers in Gemma Houghton and Sabreena Duffy difficult to keep down, especially as Kara Antonio and Kiara Bowers move the ball forward with class from the outside and inside of midfield.

Tip: Fremantle has the early bragging rights in this rivalry and will likely continue to hold as much after Sunday’s clash. With too much going forward, Dockers by 40.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Preview: Geelong Cats

GEELONG comes into the 2021 off a disappointing campaign which yielded two wins, both of which came against expansion sides. Under coach Paul Hood, the Cats will be itching for a return to finals and have a wealth of young talent raring to make splash on the competition. While inaugural skipper Melissa Hickey has called time on her career, the Victorian side is in good stead to improve on last season’s effort.

2020 RECAP

The Cats finished fifth at 2-4 among the weaker Conference A, meaning they missed out on backing up a surprise finals appearance in their inaugural season by half a game. After going down in their first three outings, they got on the board in a high-scoring encounter with Richmond and backed it up with another win against Gold Coast. The sting of good form came to an abrupt halt at the hands of North Melbourne thought, seeing Geelong’s season ending on the sour note of a 44-point drubbing.

Green shoots appeared in the form of best and fairest winner Olivia Purcell, with the 20-year-old midfielder establishing herself as one of the premier ball winners in the competition. She was the only Cat named in the final All Australian team. Rebecca Webster was a big improver and 2021 skipper Meghan McDonald showed her class upon an early injury return, while Nina Morrison gave a glimpse into her talents before another heartbreaking ACL tear in the closing stages of the season.

NEW FACES

Geelong was again able to extract great value from the draft with a terrific haul headlined by outstanding local talent. Darcy Moloney was the Cats’ first choice at pick 10 and was followed by fellow Geelong Falcons product Laura Gardiner at number 20. Both showed terrific appetites for finding the ball as juniors and promise to add great balance to Geelong’s emerging midfield, while also taking a load off Purcell at the coalface.

Dynamic tall Olivia Barber was another high-value country selection, with the Murray Bushrangers graduate nothing short of a steal at pick 21. Able to rotate through the ruck from her usual key forward post, Barber is an athletic type who can not only take over in the air, but has clean hands and skills at ground level. Electric forward Stephanie Williams hails from the Northern Territory but was somewhat another local pick having attended Geelong College, while former Falcon Carly Remmos also joined through the draft, coming from an elite basketball background.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

While a second ACL tear sustained late in the 2020 season will again hamper her campaign, Nina Morrison remains the one to watch for Geelong. Fans were able to catch a good glimpse of her last year and she looms as a crucial midseason inclusion this time around. The Cats are taking somewhat of a cautious approach with their young star and have ruled out a Round 1 appearance despite her strong progress, so expect the 20-year-old to come in raring to go. Having mostly been employed on the outside, Morrison has the flexibility to remain there or provide some spark at the centre bounces, with plenty of stock in support to help make her return as smooth as possible.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

Youthful exuberance. The Cats have some of the best young talent going around and have only added to it at this year’s draft. The likes of Moloney and Gardiner should be knocking on the door early and will take a good amount of heat off Purcell through the middle, while Barber is another who can impact early and provide a focal point.

Millie Brown settled into the defence well in 2020 and Webster came on leaps and bounds, with the best yet to come from Morrison and the returning Denby Taylor. That’s not to mention Sophie Van De Heuval, who is primed to have a big impact in her third season. There’s young talent around the ground, all of which are game winners capable of taking Geelong all the way.

QUESTION MARK

With so much youth at their disposal and their inaugural captain now retired, are the Cats too inexperienced to make a real finals impact? Purcell is already arguably their best player at just 20-years-old, while much is also expected from the returning Morrison and Taylor. Improvement is another expectation, with hopes high on Van De Heuval and Rene Caris one who should be looking to soon take over the primary ruck post. Geelong has some established leaders in new skipper, McDonald, Aasta O’Connor, and Renee Garing, all of which will have plenty on their plate in aiding the on-field development of these young stars.

FINAL WORD

Many fans will be high on Geelong given just how well the Cats have drafted each year, with the pieces of the puzzle seeming to come together nicely heading into 2021. Their young guns have some good experience under their belt and while it may not quite be enough yet, expect the hoops to push for finals this season and better challenge some of the top sides.

Image Credit: Geelong Cats

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Geelong

GEELONG finished its second AFL Women’s campaign half a game away from consecutive finals berths, recovering from three defeats to open the season to end with a 2-4 record. The Cats were thrice beaten on home turf in what was a season of ups and downs, leaning on fixtures against expansion sides to eventually claim their two home-and-away victories. Despite a second knee injury to Nina Morrison and the retirement of inaugural club captain Melissa Hickey, there were plenty of positives to be taken from Geelong’s year; with the exuberance of its developing side shining through in glimpses, and a host of players taking their games to the next level. Revisit the good, bad, and otherwise produced by the Cats this season in our review, with a focus on their outstanding players.

RECORD: 5th (A), 2-4, 80.8%

RESULTS:

R1: lost to Fremantle by 16 points
R2: lost to Brisbane by 19 points
R3: lost to Adelaide by 11 points 
R4:
defeated Richmond by 22 points 
R5:
defeated Gold Coast by 20 points
R6:
lost to North Melbourne by 46 points

Having to recover from three consecutive losses to open the season is far from ideal for any side, and that was just the challenge that Geelong faced this year. After bringing it to Fremantle for three quarters in Perth, the Cats lost twice on their own patch and put a sizeable dent in their finals aspirations. But a roaring win against the Tigers in Round 4 got them on the board, and a rousing comeback victory over Gold Coast a week later had them on track. But again, it was always going to be tough to overcome North Melbourne and lock in a post-season entry, as the Cats finished their season on another low point despite the positives of the previous fortnight.

SEASON HIGH: The spirited win over Gold Coast

This was an ultra-impressive win for Geelong having been tested away from home by a team which always has a crack in the Gold Coast SUNS. The Cats looked to have blown their early ascendancy as a second term lapse saw them fall behind, but the fighting spirit to get back on top and pull away showcased the best of the Cats’ character. 2018 draft class pair Morrison and Olivia Purcell starred in the win with over 20 disposals each, providing a glimpse of what Cats fans can look forward to.

SEASON LOW: Nina Morrison’s second ACL tear

For all the promise around Geelong’s season came bouts of bitter disappointment, and this was arguably the most difficult pill to swallow. After steadily building form in each of the six Rounds, former number one draft pick Morrison looked to be flourishing at the top level, and the shock of a second ACL tear in as many years was felt across the competition. We got to see her potential, but we can only hope to see the end product after another heartbreaking setback.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Olivia Purcell (20.2 disposals, 1.8 marks, 3.2 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 rebound 50s, 2.5 inside 50s, 4 goals)

The highly-touted youngster was one of many Cats to make an enormous step in their development this season, moving into the elite midfield group on the back of a strong campaign. The 19-year-old was her side’s prime mover each week, and added the happy knack of kicking goals to her consistent ball winning capabilities. A clearance machine, Purcell also led her side for disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, score involvements, and inside 50s. The only Cat to earn All Australian squad selection.

Madeline Keryk (12.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2 tackles, 3.5 rebound 50s)

Much of the success of Keryk’s season can be put down to a move to the backline, with the former-Blue thriving in her new role behind the ball. In addition to collecting career-best numbers in a range of categories, the 25-year-old also led the Cats for rebound 50s this season while disposing at an efficiency of 70 per cent. A calm user who reads the play well, Keryk was a key part of a solid back five for Geelong.

Julia Crockett-Grills (14 disposals, 2.2 marks, 3.7 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s, 1.2 inside 50s)

Perhaps one of the midfielders to have flown under the radar at times given the fanfare afforded to others, the hard-working Crockett-Grills finished the year only second to Purcell for disposals as a constant in the engine room. As one of the most-improved Cats this year, the 25-year-old proved her worth at the elite level with a string of solid performances working both ways.

Richelle Cranston (13.8 disposals, 2 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1.7 inside 50s, 5 goals)

‘Rocky’ has been a fan favourite since day one at the Cattery, and did no harm to her reputation with an outstanding 2020 season. Cranston was a terrific generator of speed on the outside, while also finding the goals in four of her six outings. And who could forget her awesome solo effort against Fremantle in Round 1, showcasing everything good about this gutsy footballer.

Meghan McDonald (14.3 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 2.8 rebound 50s, 1 inside 50)

Rocked by a finger fracture on the eve of the season, McDonald missed the first two round before making a swift recovery to feature prominently in the back half of the year. As arguably the most important member of Geelong’s defence last season, the 28-year-old former-Bulldog got right back to her ways in organising a solid back five and leading as one of the Cats’ 2ICs. A great interceptor and mover of the ball.

SURPRISE PACKET:

Rebecca Webster (12.8 disposals, 3.5 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1.3 rebound 50s, 2 inside 50s)

There may be a slight theme in that much of Geelong’s improvement came from its defence, and Webster was another to take a significant step in her development this season. After taking out the Cats’ VFLW best and fairest award, the 172cm prospect translated that form well to the elite level across all six games, showing marked improvement as an able user in the back half.

YOUNG GUN:

Millie Brown (8.3 disposals, 1.5 marks, 1.2 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 78% efficiency)

The Cats’ prize pick in the 2019 draft was Brown, who lived up to all expectation with a debut campaign beyond her years. The 19-year-old father-daughter recruit played all six games in her maiden season, locking down a role in Geelong’s back five in quick time. Barring a disposalless outing against Richmond in Round 4, Brown showed plenty of promise as a solid play-breaker inside defensive 50.

VERDICT:

Last year’s finals berth despite a negative record did not do much good for the Cats’ draw in 2020, and in all fairness, they won each game they were definitely expected to. The flashes of brilliance were great to watch, however too sparing, but those key lapses in form will be ironed out once this developing squad further improves. If the rate of improvement shown in some players can be matched next year, watch out.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 6

IN our sixth edition of the Young Gun Watch, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 6 focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

Geelong vs. North Melbourne

North Melbourne ended up coasting to a comfortable victory over Geelong on Friday night to maintain top spot on the Conference A ladder. However, star Cat Nina Morrison’s devastating injury would be the main takeaway from the game as she unfortunately ruptured the ACL in her right knee for the second time in two seasons. As things went from bad to worse for Geelong fans, Olivia Purcell gave them something to smile about having collected 18 disposals and five tackles. Millie Brown (nine disposals) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (eight disposals) were also serviceable in what was a tough night for the Cats. Daisy Bateman again provided pressure up forward for the Kangaroos resulting in a goal for her five mark and five tackle effort. Making the most of a high-scoring team performance was Mia King, who managed her first career goal after gathering 12 disposals and an impressive seven tackles.

Brisbane vs. Collingwood

Collingwood collected a dominant road win against Brisbane, keeping them in the hunt for finals footy. Much like the rest of the team, Brisbane’s young talent couldn’t quite get into the game with their first draft pick in 2019, Lily Postlethwaite, collecting just the two disposals. Natalie Grider showed some positive signs out of defence, collecting 10 disposals and laying four tackles having to contend with the sharp and abundant inside 50 use from the Magpies. Full-forward Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw had seven disposals, three marks and six hit outs while Isabel Dawes managed five disposals in what was a quiet night for Brisbane’s forward stocks. Collingwood’s experience led the way as their young talent played roles in the win. Jordyn Allen had nine disposals and five marks while Lauren Butler also collected nine disposals off the half back-flank. Mikala Cann (five disposals, four tackles) and Alana Porter (five disposals) were also useful.

St Kilda vs Richmond

St Kilda boasted contributors across the board as they held Richmond goalless at Moorabbin on Saturday, a first in AFLW history. The Saints’ youth again impressed as their first draft pick, Georgia Patrikios, had 14 disposals and a couple of tackles out of the middle, unfortunately also just missing out on a goal. Dandenong product Molly McDonald showed large improvement with 12 disposals, six marks and three tackles, while Isabella Shannon was serviceable with four disposals and two tackles. Nicola Xenos again applied solid pressure in the centre with six tackles, as she enjoyed a well-rounded 11 disposal performance to go with a goal. The Tiger’s young talent endured a tough day with the rest of the team, with Kodi Jacques (seven tackles) and Sophie Molan (eight disposals) the stand-out players. With finals footy out of the question for Richmond, Nekaela Butler (five disposals, three tackles) and Ciara Fitzgerald (two disposals, two tackles) both debuted in the loss.

Melbourne vs. Carlton

Alice Springs brought the heat on Saturday in more ways than one, with the Blues enjoying a 16-point win over the Demons, propelling them to second on Conference B’s ladder. Sticking with mature-aged players, Melbourne again played just the two players born this century. Tyla Hanks has been the most impressive all season and started in the centre, collecting 11 disposals and laying six tackles. Hanks now averages five tackles per game on the season. Carlton’s youth again showed why they are arguably the best in the league, with Madison Prespakis leading the crop in a typical Prespakis performance of 23 disposals, four marks and a goal. Lucy McEvoy put up impressive numbers with 19 disposals, while last week’s Rising Star nominee, Charlotte Wilson, had 11 disposals and six marks out of defence. Murray product Grace Egan was also important, popping up with a goal to go with her 11 disposals and three tackles.

Western Bulldogs vs. Fremantle

Fremantle maintained its perfect record off the back of a dominant final quarter which saw them outscore the Bulldogs 25 to six at Whitten Oval on Sunday. The highest-scoring game in AFLW history was littered with admirable performances from youth on both sides as fans were treated to the future of the competition. The Bulldogs’ young talent improved greatly on last week’s performance with Gabby Newton (16 disposals, eight tackles) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (13 disposals, four tackles) leading the way. Gemma Lagiola (10 disposals) and Eleanor Brown (11 disposals, three tackles) were also important for the Bulldogs, as Hannah Munyard returned nine disposals, three tackles and a goal. Britney Gutknecht (seven disposals, four tackles) played her second game for the season, while fellow former Northern Knight Nell Morris-Dalton debuted with eight disposals and five tackles. Fremantle’s Mim Strom backed up last week’s effort with an even more dominant 25 hitouts, playing a lone hand in the ruck with Roxanne Roux out. Though it was not four goals, Sabreena Duffy managed to keep the Bulldogs defenders under pressure with five tackles, while Emma O’Driscoll managed seven disposals.

Adelaide vs. GWS GIANTS

The GIANTS defeated the Crows for the first time in franchise history behind closed doors on Sunday, running out five-point victors. Adelaide continue to showcase their young talent as finals footy feels like a long way for them having suffered this loss, with Montana McKinnon again the most impressive. The six-foot ruck again provided the Crows midfielders with deluxe service with 17 hitouts. Danielle Ponter collected six disposals out of full-forward to go with her two tackles, while Jaimi Tabb managed just the five disposals. GWS again opted with just the one player born in this century and you cannot blame them. Star midfielder Alyce Parker enjoyed a best-on-ground performance with 30 disposals, seven marks and three tackles. She led all players in the disposal count as she now averages just over 20 disposals on the season. With just two more 21st century-born players on the list, you hardly expect the GIANTS to change the formula heading toward finals.

West Coast vs. Gold Coast SUNS

The SUNS enjoyed a 25-point win on Sunday against the Eagles after having kept West Coast without a goal for the first three quarters. The Eagles will be looking forward to next year’s draft to secure more young talent as McKenzie Dowrick and Sophie McDonald were both out this week, leaving winger Mikayla Bowen the sole 21st century-born representative. Bowen gathered nine disposals and three tackles in what was a tough day for the Eagles. Inversely, Gold Coast’s youth all enjoyed solid outings as they kept their season alive. Lauren Bella dominated the ruck on her way to 16 hit outs, sharing the load with debutant Taylor Smith who was useful with 10 disposals and four hit outs. Gold Coast’s pressure was pivotal throughout the game with Jacqui Yorston (12 disposals, four marks, nine tackles), Ellie Hampson (12 disposals, six tackles) and Dee Heslop (five disposals, 10 tackles) all driving factors in that aspect.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 5

IN our fifth edition of the Young Gun Watch, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 5 focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

Gold Coast SUNS vs. Geelong

A convincing win saw Geelong climb above Conference rivals Gold Coast to claim their second win on the trot, however, some impressive performances from Gold Coast youngsters would give the Suns fans something to smile about. Jacqui Yorston continued her good form with 16 disposals, 10 tackles and a goal, while Lauren Bella was impressive again in the ruck with 19 hit-outs. Queenslanders Ellie Hampson and Dee Heslop both brought physicality to the contest with three and four tackles respectively. Geelong’s Nina Morrison was back to her best gathering a team-high 22 disposals and seven tackles, while fellow 2018 graduate Olivia Purcell collected 21 disposals. Rebecca Webster (12 disposals, two tackles) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (nine disposals) were both serviceable for the cats in the victory. Georgia Clarke played a role off the bench with two tackles and a goal, as did father-daughter draftee Millie Brown who found the ball nine times.

North Melbourne vs. Adelaide

North Melbourne secured their spot on top of the Conference A ladder with a commanding win over Adelaide where the Kangaroos experienced players took the reigns. Daisy Bateman was useful up forward without impacting the scoreboard with her nine disposals and four marks. Launceston product Mia King brought plenty to the contest with four tackles but was down on her disposal count from last week with just the six. Adelaide showcased a lot of young talent again with Montana McKinnon the most impressive, accumulating 16 hit-outs in the ruck to go with her nine disposals. Nikki Gore was again kept off the scoreboard but managed seven tackles up forward, however, centre half-forward Danielle Ponter was able to kick a goal after also being held scoreless last week. Jaimi Tabb was able to make an impact out of full-forward despite not kicking a goal with eight disposals, four marks and three tackles.

GWS GIANTS vs. Richmond

GWS’ young talent is scarce with just the one player born this century, yet Alyce Parker and the Giants do not care for that with a dominant display against Richmond keeping them up near the top of the ladder. Parker backed up another impressive outing last week with 24 disposals and four tackles, a performance which could have seen her receive a rising star nomination if she had not have received a Round One nomination. The winless Tigers have blooded plenty of youth this season but again it was Sophie Molan leading the way for Richmond’s young talent with nine disposals and four tackles. Kodi Jacques laid six tackles and collected six disposals, as did Ella Wood. Northern Knights pair Maddy Brancatisano and Sarah Sansonetti had four and two disposals respectively, while Laura McClelland collected four disposals and two tackles.

Carlton vs. St Kilda

Carlton’s accuracy in front of goal led them to a 21-point win over St Kilda with valuable contributions from their young talent. After narrowly missing nomination last week, Charlotte Wilson became Carlton’s third Rising Star nomination for the season after putting in an impressive 12 disposal and eight-mark performance down back for the Blues. 2019 Rising Star Madison Prespakis impressed as usual with 26 disposals to go with three tackles. To continue with the Rising Star trend, fellow 2020 nominees Grace Egan (12 disposals, six tackles) and Lucy McEvoy (four disposals, eight tackles) kicked a goal each. Number five draft pick, Georgia Patrikios continued her stellar debut season collecting 18 disposals while Isabella Shannon gathered 10 disposals and three tackles. Nicola Xenos’ six tackles was important to keep the pressure on the Blues, as Molly McDonald had seven disposals.

Collingwood vs. Western Bulldogs

Collingwood stayed in the race for finals with a strong win over the Bulldogs, led by their more experienced stars. With room for the Magpies youngsters to improve, it was a relatively quiet outing for all of them. Lauren Butler collected nine disposals off the half-back flank, while Mikala Cann collected eight disposals and laid two tackles out of the middle. Jordyn Allen (six disposals) and Alana Porter (four disposals, two tackles) had less output than last week and will be looking to bounce back this week against the Lions. The Bulldogs youth also experienced quieter performances than last week as number one draft pick Gabby Newton picked up nine disposals and six tackles. Fellow top ten draft picks Gemma Lagiola (seven disposals, two tackles) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (six disposals, four tackles) will both also be looking to get back to the form they have displayed throughout the season.

Melbourne vs. West Coast

Melbourne enjoyed an outstanding day out to come out 59-point winners against the Eagles out at Casey Fields on Sunday, in an outing with the least amount of 21st century representatives. Consistently picked for a reason, Tyla Hanks played her role again in Melbourne’s forward rotation collecting 10 disposals and laying two tackles in a well-functioning forward line, while New South Wales product Brenna Tarrant gathered five disposals in the win. Mikayla Bowen was again the standout Under-20 Eagle as she backed up last week’s effort with similar numbers, posting 11 disposals and five tackles. Claremont product Sophie McDonald improved again, putting up another season-high disposal count with 10, while tall McKenzie Dowrick come off the bench for four disposals and three tackles. Despite not enjoying the success in the wins columns this season, West Coast fans would enjoy the performances from their youth.

Fremantle vs. Brisbane

Fremantle secured their place atop the Conference B ladder with a three-goal victory over the Brisbane Lions. Sabreena Duffy became the team’s leading goal-scorer with a terrific four-goal effort which very well could have been eight if she kicked straight. Duffy also had 10 disposals and five marks in her day out, while Emma O’Driscoll collected seven disposals and three tackles. Tall prospect Roxanne Roux found the footy five times to go with three hit outs in a day where fellow tall Mim Strom dominated the ruck with 17 hit-outs with her seven disposals. Key forward Jesse Wardlaw was the standout youth performer for the Lions with seven disposals, four marks, three hit-outs and a goal. Brisbane’s first draft pick, Lily Postlethwaite in 2019 had seven disposals and three tackles, as Natalie Grider (seven disposals) also contributed.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 4

ROUND 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s saw a number of young guns shine, with top-end first year draftees continuing to come into their own among a raft of 2000 and 2001-born prospects at the top level. The 2019 number one and 13 picks each earned Rising Star nominations, showcasing the true depth of talent in the next generation of future stars.

Collingwood vs. Melbourne

The Dees got up impressively in this one on the back of superior experience and depth, but Collingwood’s developing list has shown some noted signs of improvement in 2020 coming off a wooden spoon season. Tyla Hanks has, for the most part, been Melbourne’s sole under-21 representative thus far, and continued her solid form in the forward rotation with 15 disposals and five tackles. The Magpies’ youngsters were a touch quieter, but Mikala Cann was the pick of the bunch with 12 disposals, two marks and four tackles, while Alana Porter (11 disposals), Jordyn Allen (nine disposals, two marks), and Lauren Butler (eight disposals, five tackles) were also serviceable. With key defender Ash Brazill going down with an ACL injury on the weekend, the strong list of developing Pies will need to stand up in the back-end of the season.

Richmond vs. Geelong

An extra year in the system is the key difference between much of Geelong and Richmond’s teenage crops, and 2018 draftee Olivia Purcell proved the prime example of that theory with her leading hand in the Cats’ high-scoring win over the Tigers in Bendigo. Purcell gathered a team-high 20 disposals and booted a goal, while fellow class of 2018 graduate Georgia Clarke was effective close to goal with two majors from eight disposals. The Cats’ first 2018 pick, Nina Morrison continues to play into form and collected 12 touches in more of a forward role, with Rebecca Webster (eight disposals, six tackles) a touch down on her own much-improved form but still influential. Sophie Molan led a handful of first-year Tigers with her 10-disposal effort, while Kodi Jacques and Laura McClelland also held their own with a goal each. Former Northern Knights pair Maddy Brancatisano and Sarah Sansonetti had five touches each, but struggled to have the impact required to get Richmond over the line.

North Melbourne vs. Gold Coast SUNS

A winning debut for Tasmanian draftee, Mia King headlined a solid game for a bunch of quality prospects as the Kangaroos trumped Gold Coast at Arden Street. King collected 11 disposals and two marks while laying three tackles in a steady display of her talent, while 2018 draftee Daisy Bateman notched her second two-goal tally for the season, booting majors at crucial times to keep the SUNS at bay. For Gold Coast, Jacqui Yorston was terrific with 15 disposals, five marks and six tackles, leading a talented handful of 2000/2001-born SUNS guns. Fellow former-Lion Lauren Bella continued her rise in the ruck with 10 touches and three marks, while academy products Ellie Hampson and Serene Watson each claimed eight touches in roles at opposite ends. The exuberant SUNS have been a surprise packet this season, with their hunger for the contest helping them hang with the best of sides, and that will put them in good stead going forward in accelerating their growth.

West Coast vs. Western Bulldogs

West Coast’s maiden AFL Women’s victory may have been the main takeaway from this fixture for neutrals, but those on the Dogs’ side will be thrilled by the game of 2019 number one draft pick, Gabby Newton. The Northern Knights graduate gathered 16 touches, five marks and laid 10 tackles – all season-high numbers – to earn a Rising Star nomination, while fellow class of 2019 alumni Gemma Lagioia (12 disposals, three marks) and Elisabeth Georgostathis shone at either end, and debutant Hannah Munyard found the ball eight times. Second year player Eleanor Brown also put up her clear-best numbers for the year with 12 disposals and five marks on the outside, with plenty to work on for the former top-10 pick. Mikayla Bowen was the standout Under-20 Eagle, notching 11 disposals and laying six tackles, with prized tall recruit McKenzie Dowrick returning a steady three touches while Sophie McDonald managed nine – a season-high for her.

Adelaide vs. Carlton

The other Rising Star nomination came out of a monumental Blues’ win, with physical 19-year-old midfielder Grace Egan being rewarded for a strong string of performances. The Murray Bushrangers and Richmond VFL product managed her second 18-disposal game for the season, adding six marks and four tackles to the effort. 2019 Rising Star Madison Prespakis went about her usual business with a team-high 20 disposals and one goal, while Round 1 nominee Lucy McEvoy had it 14 times to go with seven tackles, and Charlotte Wilson enjoyed a breakout game of 19 disposals and nine marks after missing last week. For the depleted Crows, Danielle Ponter failed to find the big sticks after a four-goal effort in Round 3, kept to a season-low of six disposals. Fellow forward Nikki Gore stayed true to her seasonal form with eight disposals and three tackles, but was also kept out of the scoreboard as Carlton’s defence stood firm.

St Kilda vs. Fremantle

A strange and undeniably tense contest between St Kilda and Fremantle saw pre-listed Dandenong Stingrays graduate Molly McDonald play a massive part in the outcome of the game, while a host of other first and second year players had promising cameos. St Kilda looked arguably the better side and like being the eventual winner when McDonald snapped through a wonderful goal in the last term, but a costly 50-metre penalty against the 2019 draftee cruelly gifted Fremantle a chance to stay in the game. Prized pick Georgia Patrikios (11 disposals, two marks) was down on her disposal output but still strong, while Nicola Xenos‘ pace and repeat efforts proved menacing, but the promising signs in a tight loss were somewhat soured by a serious knee injury to 19-year-old Tarni White, who immediately knew of the severity. Fremantle’s generational tall prospects were a touch quieter, with Mim Strom and Roxanne Roux having a combined 11 disposals, while Sabreena Duffy had seven touches and two behinds and Emma O’Driscoll (six disposals, two marks) enjoyed a steady first game for the season.

Brisbane vs. GWS GIANTS

Brisbane’s young guns enjoyed some success in front of goal in their big win over GWS, led by exciting key forward Jesse Wardlaw. The 185cm tall booted two goals from 10 disposals and five marks, showcasing her sticky hands, fluent set shot routine, and love for a celebration. Prized 2019 draftee Lily Postlethwaite (11 disposals, five marks) also snapped home her first ever AFLW goal to cap off another solid outing, with Natalie Grider (11 disposals, three tackles) also coming on well. On the other hand, GWS’ young talent is a touch more sparse, but the GIANTS have an out-and-out gun in Alyce Parker. The Lions knew that coming in too, and had mature-age draftee Catherine Svarc put a physical tag on the 19-year-old to quell her midfield output. Still, Parker managed to collect 11 disposals and lay three tackles, while also hitting up Yvonne Bonner late on to assist one of the GIANTS’ three goals.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 3

IN our third edition of the Young Gun Watch, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 3 focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

St Kilda vs. Melbourne

It was a historic night for the Saints at Moorabbin, and it was no surprise to see the youth standing up again. Tarni White had another great game out of defence with 10 disposals, two marks, two tackles and a match-high seven rebounds – just five shy of the entire Melbourne outfit. Georgia Patrikios did what she does best and worked hard with extra class for 15 disposals, four tackles and two rebounds, while Molly McDonald had seven touches, three marks, three tackles and two rebounds in the win. Nicola Xenos also showed off her pace out of the defensive 50 with seven touches, two marks and three rebounds, as former Dandenong Stingrays’ utility, Isabella Shannon made her debut for four touches, two marks and two tackles. It meant all five 21st century-born players on St Kilda’s list ran around in the team’s inaugural win. For the Demons, Shelley Heath had eight disposals and three tackles, while Tyla Hanks laid a massive match-high nine tackles to go with seven disposals and two inside 50s.

Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton

The top two picks from last year’s AFL Women’s Draft showed just why they were taken so highly in a huge match at Whitten Oval. Number one draft pick, Gabby Newton amassed 14 touches, three marks, four tackles and an inside 50 for the Dogs, while Carlton’s Lucy McEvoy had 19 disposals, three marks, three tackles, three inside 50 and booted her first AFL Women’s goal in a big win. She teamed up perfectly with second-year player, Madison Prespakis who had a game-high 24 disposals, three marks, six tackles and nine inside 50s. Grace Egan was influential again for the Navy Blues with 15 disposals, while Brooke Vernon made her debut and did not look out of place in defence for Carlton, amassing eight touches and three rebounds. Aside from Newton, the Dogs also had Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis who both picked up eight touches, with the latter booting a ripping running goal on the night. Eleanor Brown played and had four touches, four tackles and two rebounds for the Dogs.

Gold Coast vs. Brisbane

In the first draw of the 2020 AFL Women’s season, the Q-Clash lived up to expectations as a ripping contest. The SUNS’ Lauren Bella continued to impress in the ruck with 18 hitouts from five touches, while Jacqui Yorsten managed 12 touches, two inside 50s and two rebounds with both players going hard against their former side. From the first-year perspective, Queensland Most Valuable Player (MVP) last year, Ellie Hampson had 11 disposals, three tackles and two rebounds building on her debut from last week, while Serene Watson (seven disposals, two tackles) and Dee Heslop (six touches, three tackles and two inside 50s) also showed nice moments. Looking at the Lions list, Isabel Dawes played her best game of her career to-date with 12 disposals and two marks, while fellow first-year player Lily Postlethwaite had five disposals, two marks and two rebounds. Nat Grider managed 10 disposals and three inside 50s playing up the ground from her usual defensive post.

Fremantle vs. Collingwood

Fremantle became the only team to have won all three games thus far with a great win over Collingwood, and a number of the Dockers’ young talents shone. Roxy Roux had seven disposals, two marks, four tackles, three hitouts, two inside 50s, kicked a goal and set up another to a teammate in a productive day for the tall forward. Mim Strom had 13 disposals, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds battling hard against the much stronger Sharni Layton, while Sabreena Duffy (six disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s) and Bianca Webb (four disposals, four tackles) enjoyed the win. For the Magpies, Jordyn Allen had nine disposals, two marks and two tackles, and Mikala Cann had five tackles to go with her eight touches. It was quieter games for Alana Porter and Lauren Butler who still had a couple of nice plays, both recording three touches while Butler also had a couple of rebounds and tackles.

GWS vs. West Coast

The GIANTS had a comfortable win against the Eagles and it was no surprise to see young gun, Alyce Parker leading the way. The second-year talent had a team-high 22 disposals to accompany three marks, two inside 50s and three rebounds as the sole GIANTS player born this century. West Coast had all of its three available young guns running around with Mikayla Bowen (14 disposals, three tackles and one goal) leading the way, while Sophie McDonald (five disposals, two tackles) and McKenzie Dowrick (three disposals, three tackles and two inside 50s) also played their third games.

Richmond vs. North Melbourne

Two teams with very different age profiles went at it when North Melbourne smashed the Tigers by 56 points. The Kangaroos had just the one player – Daisy Bateman – who was born this century, with the small forward booting two goals from 12 touches and two tackles in the huge win. The Tigers on the otherhand had a number of young talents, led by Kodi Jacques who picked up 12 disposals, two marks, two tackles and three inside 50s, while Ella Wood made her debut and had the six touches. Also running around in the yellow and black was Wood’s Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ teammate, Sophie Molan who had five disposals, three tackles and two inside 50s, as former Eastern Ranges captain, Laura McClelland managed seven touches and five tackles in the defeat. Also out there were Maddy Brancatisano (five disposals, three marks) and Sarah Sansonetti (one disposals, five tackles).

Geelong vs. Adelaide

Adelaide had an impressive win on the road against Geelong, and had a trio of rising stars running around. Danielle Ponter picked up 10 disposals, four marks, two tackles and two inside 50s, but booted a career-high four goals in a dominating performance inside 50. Nikki Gore managed eight disposals, nine tackles and a goal in the win, while Madison Newman had the two touches and two tackles. For the Cats, their host of second-year players continue to have an impact with Olivia Purcell (19 disposals, two tackles and a goal) and Nina Morrison (15 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and three rebounds) ever-busy. Rebecca Webster continued her good form with 13 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds, teaming up well with another former Murray Bushrangers captain in Millie Brown (six disposals, three marks). Sophie Van De Heuvel (five disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s) and Georgia Clarke (two disposals) were also out there, while Rene Caris continued her development as second ruck with six disposals, two tackles, 10 hitouts and three rebounds.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 2 – Bottom-age All-Australian shines in South Australia

IN a new weekly piece, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 2, focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

ONES TO WATCH:

Millie Brown (Geelong)

A seemingly ready-made player entering the elite system, Brown showed exactly why she was thrown into the team from the first match, picking up 18 disposals, three marks, four tackles and three rebounds in Geelong’s 19-point loss to Brisbane at GMHBA Stadium. While her side lost, Brown gave fans an indication of what to expect from the smooth moving tall who can play a variety of roles all across the ground. With a penetrating kick and an ability to intercept the ball at its highest point, Brown is a crucial cog in Geelong’s line-up.

Tarni White (St Kilda)

Simply sensational, the AFL Women’s All-Australian representative at 15-years-old showed the signs that she did prior to injury interruptions heading into her top-age year last season. The Queenslander began to build some nice form at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, and copped a knock in Round 1 which limited her influence. Back out on the park and looking strong, White had 18 disposals, 10 marks and five rebounds, causing all sorts of headaches for the opposition who struggled to contain the athlete with some terrific upside going forward.

Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne

The Western Bulldogs brought in a couple of extra young talents in second year player, Eleanor Brown and latest debutant, Amelia Van Oosterwijck to the fold against the Dees. While they might have just had the combined four disposals between them, they laid an impressive nine tackles, which really set the tone for the home side under lights. Continuing on from her strong Round 1 form, Gabby Newton picked up another 11 disposals and laid six tackles, while Gemma Lagioia (nine disposals, two inside 50s) moved the ball well. Elisabeth Georgostathis was the other young gun to play in the match, and similar to Brown and Van Oosterwijck had just four touches, but laid six tackles to no doubt impress the coaches with her defensive pressure. As cited in last week’s article, Melbourne do not have a lot of 21st century-born players, but Tyla Hanks (seven disposals, four tackles) and Shelley Heath (seven disposals, seven tackles) both played well in the Dees win at Whitten Oval.

North Melbourne vs. GWS

The Kangaroos managed to get on the board in season 2020 with a good win over GWS GIANTS, and second year player, Daisy Bateman again looked dangerous around goals. While she only had the four disposals and two tackles, she has plenty of implied pressure and provides an option at the feet of the talls. Neither of these teams have a lot of players who fall under the category for this piece, but Alyce Parker is one of the best ones going around. The uncompromising midfielder with the superb left boot ranked up 16 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds to be second best-on for her side.

Gold Coast vs. Richmond

It was a memorable day for the Gold Coast SUNS, picking up their first win in their AFL Women’s history by downing fellow inaugural side, Richmond. In contrast to the above game, these sides have plenty of youth running around and having an impact. Serene Watson looked impressive coming out of the back 50 with nine disposals, four tackles and two rebounds. The dual Under-18 All-Australian was one of a number of talents who stood out, along with Jacqui Yorsten (seven disposals, seven tackles and one goal), debutant and Queensland AFL Women’s Under-18 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Ellie Hampson (seven disposals, five tackles) and Dee Heslop (five disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s). Second year ruck, Lauren Bella is thriving as the number one ruck in the team, amassing 20 hitouts to win the ruck battle against multiple opponents. For the Tigers, Sarah Sansonetti showed just why she was highly sought after, with the Northern Knights’ premiership defender racking up 20 disposals, two tackles, one mark and one inside 50 to be the equal-second biggest ball winner on the ground. Kodi Jacques (13 disposals, four tackles, three marks and three inside 50s) was crucial in the midfield, working well with Sophie Molan (12 disposals, three marks, two tackles and one inside 50), Laura McClelland (10 disposals, four marks and two hitouts) and Maddy Brancatisano (eight disposals, two marks and three tackles).

West Coast vs. Fremantle

West Coast’s trio of young talent on the list continued to play big roles on the weekend despite the Eagles’ huge loss to their state-based rivals, Fremantle. Mikayla Bowen had nine touches and laid four tackles playing through midfield, while McKenzie Dowrick‘s work out of defence was strong, picking up seven disposals, five tackles and three rebounds, and even got forward booting her side’s first major of the contest. Sophie McDonald also stood tall in defence with four touches, two marks and two rebounds. Playing against an experienced ruck in Parris Laurie, Mim Strom still battled hard despite not winning the ruck battle, picking up eight touches, two marks, four tackles and 14 hitouts, while Roxanne Roux booted another two goals from four disposals and chipped in with five hitouts to win the Rising Star nomination for Round 2. On debut, Fremantle’s Bianca Webb had six touches and three tackles, as well as a mark and a rebound, while last week’s four-goal hero Sabreena Duffy had a quieter day out but still managed seven disposals, a mark and a goal.

Geelong vs. Brisbane

In a win on the road, the Lion cubs kept producing big when it counted, as a number of teenagers were able to stand up and play important roles in the win over the Cats. Lily Postlethwaite was crucial through midfield with seven disposals, six tackles and two inside 50s, as the Queensland Under 18s captain ran out with Isabel Dawes who had six disposals, four tackles and an inside 50 in the match. From the second year players, Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw provided a huge target up forward and assisted in the ruck, booting three goals and amassed eight disposals, three marks and seven hitouts on her way to a Rising Star nomination in the process. Nat Grider also played for the Lions, picking up four disposals, two marks and four tackles. For the Cats, Brown was the standout, but a number of second year players who are ineligible for the Rising Star award also impressed. Nina Morrison continues to build into the form she showed in her only game last season, picking up 18 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds with more midfield minutes than Round 1. Olivia Purcell would be leading the Cats’ best and fairest in the early stages, following up her 27-disposal effort from Round 1 with a 16-disposals, four-rebound and two-goal effort against the Lions. Rebecca Webster had the 13 touches, six marks and four inside 50s doing well through the middle, while Georgia Clarke, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Denby Taylor all had limited touches but were able to build into the match. Rene Caris stepped up as second ruck to Aasta O’Connor with four disposals two tackles, 13 hitouts and two rebounds.

Carlton vs. Collingwood

It might have been in a loss, but the pairing of Grace Egan and Madison Prespakis looks like one for the next decade. Egan was simply sensational in her second AFL Women’s game, picking up 18 disposals, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and two marks, constantly working hard around the ground. Prespakis was her usual self despite some heavy attention from the opposition, finishing with 17 disposals, three tackles, five inside 50s and a rebound. Lucy McEvoy had a solid game with 10 touches, three tackles and two inside 50s after her Rising Star nomination last week, while Charlotte Wilson also played managing six disposals, two marks and two tackles. For the Magpies, after a busy Round 1 match, Alana Porter had just the one touch and one mark, but showed some dash and dare with three tackles and two rebounds. Second year players, Jordyn Allen and Sarah Dargan both had 10 touches, with Allen playing her first game of the season. She also booted a first quarter goal to get her side going. The pick of the group was Lauren Butler who played her best AFL Women’s game through the back half, recording 17 disposals, six marks, three tackles, one inside 50 and one rebound, while Mikala Cann was also strong with 16 disposals, five marks and two tackles in the win.

Adelaide vs. St Kilda

Madison Newman lived out a popular childhood dream with the second-gamer kicking a match-winning goal late in the game. While the Crows kicked another one for good measure, it was Newman’s goal with scores level that broke the last quarter deadlock. She finished the game with an impressive 13 touches, four marks, two tackles and two inside 50s as well as that goal.  Also playing a role in the team as second year players were Danielle Ponter (10 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) and Nikki Gore (nine disposals, three marks, seven tackles and one rebound). For the losing side, White was the far and away standout this round, but it is not to discount last week’s Rising Star, Georgia Patrikios who picked up 18 disposals, five marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and a rebound by covering the ground well. Improving from her first game, Nicola Xenos looked at home for the Saints with 12 disposals, four marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and a rebound, while Molly McDonald had 11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and three rebounds working hard in the back half.