Tag: Murray Bushrangers

Draft Central Rising Star: NAB League Girls – Round 8

IT is not often players who stand out in a losing side are awarded our Draft Central Rising Star of the Week award, but that was the case for the NAB League Girls in Round 8. Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell was everywhere on Saturday at Shepley Oval, having a massive first term to get her side up and about, and kicked the last goal for her side as they approached Dandenong Stingrays’ narrow lead.

While the Bushrangers were unable to get over the line, Favell had 26 disposals, four marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and four rebounds, as well as booting the late goal.

Scouting notes for Round 8 vs. Dandenong Stingrays:

#8 Abby Favell

Had the ball on a string throughout the game, particularly in the first quarter. Just ran and ran all day long. Not only was her accumulation on point, but her defensive pressure was superb as well. She laid a great goal-saving tackle in the first term and while some of her kicks were intercepted, she followed up with strong second efforts and just kept running, bringing her teammates into the game through handballs. She forced a number of turnovers through her tackling, and also showed off a clean set of heels by sidestepping an opponent at half-back and taking off. Kicked a late goal in the final term after sneaking 20m out from goal, wasting no time slotting the set shot and bring the Bushrangers back within six points. Best afield despite being in a losing side.

Rising Star of the Week:

Round 1 – Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
Round 2 – Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Round 3 – Gabby Newton (Northern Knights)
Round 4 – Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
Round 5 – Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Round 6 – Tess Flintoff (Eastern Ranges)
Round 7 – Grace McRae (Gippsland Power)

Scouting notes: NAB League Boys – Round 2

THERE were plenty of massive individual performances in an historic weekend of NAB League football, and we had reporters at all nine games to take in the action. Key players and talent touted by each club’s talent manager are included, with scouting notes the opinion of each individual writer.

Sydney Swans 7.14 (56) defeated Tasmania Devils 6.6 (42)
By: Matthew Cocks

Sydney Swans Academy:

#3 Luke Parks
The AFL Academy listed player showed glimpses of what he is capable of in defence for the Swans Academy. Parks displayed great commitment to the contest and applied defensive pressure on the ball carrier. A great reader of the ball, Parks positioned himself well and used the ball well.

#7 Braeden Campbell
The 17-year old displayed one of his greatest assets on the weekend. Using his thumping left foot, Campbell was able to put the Swans into great positions to set up attack on more than one occasion. Gathering 16 disposals, Campbell also demonstrated great tackling pressure, laying an equal team high eight tackles.

#23 Errol Gulden
The bottom-ager’s performance was hard to fault. Gulden found a way to create his own time and space playing predominantly on the wing and through the midfield. Collecting plenty of the ball (33 disposals in total), Gulden was a key cog in setting the Swans up to attack. His two goals in the first half capped off an impressive best-on-ground performance.

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Mitchell O’Neill
A solid performance despite being well held for most of the match. O’Neill worked hard throughout the game, showing great composure with ball in hand and often used his 21 disposals to create opportunities for the Devils. Despite being under pressure himself, O’Neill applied plenty of pressure, laying nine tackles throughout the match.

#7 Matt McGuiness
Playing predominantly in defence, McGuinness displayed great skill execution. The lightly built 19-year-old showed poise and class in his 27 touches and seven rebounds. He demonstrated an instinct to take the game on and was one of the best in a losing side.

#13 Sam Collins
The 17-year old looked composed in defence often under attack on the weekend. A terrific user of the ball, Collins collected 23 disposals and nine rebound 50s. He demonstrated an ability to make great decisions under pressure in trying to repel the attack of the Swans Academy throughout the match.


GWS Giants 10.10 (70) defeated by Brisbane Lions 14.12 (96)
By: Matthew Cocks

GWS Giants Academy:

#25 Thomas Green
The contested ball magnet collected 28 disposals throughout the match. Green used the ball superbly, providing a strong presence across the ground for the Giants Academy, whether it was setting play up out of defence with four rebound 50s or putting the Giants into attack racking up seven inside 50s.

#26 Liam Delahunty
Featuring prominently in the first half, Delahunty kicked three goals, including one after the half-time siren to put the Giants back in front by three points at the major change. A good set of hands, he was sighted pushing up the ground, ending up with 13 disposals and seven marks for the match.

#28 Matthew McGrory
Displayed his athletic qualities running through the midfield for the Giants. McGrory showed potential, providing us with a glimpse of his closing speed on opponents. Applying five tackles and picking up 18 touches, McGrory also had an impact up forward with four inside 50s and two scoring attempts that went through as minor scores.

Brisbane Lions Academy:

#11 Will Martyn
A composed Martyn demonstrated great decision making abilities. Collecting 30 disposals, he was one of Brisbane’s most consistent players across the four-quarters. In addition to his great decision-making, his brilliant ball use often put the ball in positions of advantage for the Lions Academy, keeping his side in the game during the first-half and setting it up for victory in the second.

#18 Bruce Reville
Reville showed plenty of potential and an appetite for the contest. His pressure on the ball carrier stood out, laying six tackles – an equal game-high along with teammate Noah Cumberland. His endeavour and eagerness to find the footy also stood out as strong qualities, constantly hunting the footy and using his solid kick to hit a target.

#38 Tom Wischnat
Wishnat kicked four second half goals and could have had five had he not got too close to the man on the mark. After spending time higher up the ground, he looked comfortable inside 50. Taking six marks for the match, Wischnat demonstrated his potential as a target up forward for Brisbane.


Gold Coast 12.10 (82) defeated Northern Territory Thunder 5.8 (38)
By: Matthew Cocks

Gold Coast Suns:

#1 Hewago Paul Oea
An exciting prospect, Paul Oea looked electric with ball in hand. His pace and endeavour were among the qualities that stood out as he gathered 15 touches and took nine marks. A prominent sight forward of centre, Paul Oea sent the Suns Academy inside attacking 50 six times and also kicked a major.

#5 Connor Budarick
The Suns Academy captain had a strong influence on the match, whether it be collecting the contested ball in the midfield or straightening up his side as the attacked in blustery conditions. Budarick’s class and natural footy instinct were on display across his 22 disposals. He consistently bobbed up all over the ground, with five inside 50s and three rebound 50s for the match.

#13 Joshua Gore
The only multiple goal-kicker on the ground, Gore showed why he is building a reputation as a goal sneak. The busy small forward kicked three goals from five scoring attempts and applied plenty of forward pressure, laying seven tackles across the match.

Northern Territory:

#19 Ben Jungfer
Could not fault the endeavour of Jungfer who was consistent in a Thunder side under constant pressure. Spending most of the match in the midfield, he gathered 31 disposals and six rebounds. Jungfer showed an appetite for the contest, either with his head over the footy or applying pressure on the opposition. He would finish the match with six tackles and one of the Northern Territory’s best.

#29 Wade Derksen
Played a solid role across half-forward for the Thunder. Derksen displayed strong marking qualities, taking an equal game high six marks. A highlight for Derksen came from his only goal from two scoring attempts. With the man on the mark standing about 40 metres out Derksen kicked his only goal after judging the blustery Blacktown wind beautifully from a set-shot on a 45-degree angle.

#35 Stephen Cumming
Cumming was the dominant big-man on the ground, amassing 35 hitouts. He proved to be dynamic in the ruck, gathering 22 possessions – the second highest for the Thunder behind Jungfer. The 19-year old also had an impact up forward, sending the ball inside 50 three times and kicking a goal during the third-quarter.

Gippsland Power 9.11 (65) defeated by Dandenong Stingrays 10.11 (71)
By: Craig Byrnes

Gippsland Power:

#2 Caleb Serong
The Geelong Grammar scholar returned to the Gippsland fold for the first time in 2019 after school cricket commitments took priority the week before. He started in the centre square and was in the action straight away, with his clean hands and sharp skills helping him excel in the miserable conditions. He got particularly busy in the third term with some influential touches around the stoppages and looked the most likely to win the ball in tight during these periods. He got called out of an aerial contest late in the game which he would usually instinctively fly for, but he will impact those situations once the cobwebs are blown out. A really solid first outing back.

#4 Sam Flanders
Another of the highly rated Power top agers, Flanders has started the season in excellent fashion and looks particularly sharp. Starting at the centre bounces, the explosive midfielder/forward was involved in everything in the first half. He impacted the stoppages, was physical in the slippery conditions and looked capable of turning the match singlehandedly. He pushed forward and kicked a really smart goal, snapping the ball high to get over the fingers of the approaching defenders. He was not quite as prolific in the second half, but still produced vital moments including a brilliant kick inside 50 to Maslen in the final term. Collected 23 touches and was comfortably Gippsland’s best in my opinion.

#11 Kyle Dunkley
After the disappointment of not getting drafted last year, the brother of Josh has switched from Oakleigh to Gippsland during the offseason and could not have started the season in much better form. He joined Serong and Flanders at the first centre bounce and inserted his physical presence immediately with great attack at the footy. Based purely on his conditioning and ripped stature, Dunkley looks to have worked extremely hard over the off season and his running appears to have benefitted as he constantly pushes from arc to arc. He also spent time forward and finished with another good haul of 23 disposals.

#12 Brock Smith
The no frills Gippsland skipper played behind the ball and did his job as we have come to expect on a week to week basis. He rarely gets beaten one on one, whether on the ground or aerially and looks to impact contests in his area whenever possible. He does not win mountains of the ball in this role, but still has a say on the result with his competitive attitude and focus on team values. He has shown over the last 12 months that he has the attributes to play in defence at the next level, so it would be great to see his offensive skills showcased through the midfield and forward as the year goes on to showcase his underrated flexibility.

#15 Ryan Sparkes
The midfielder or defender has developed into a ball magnet in his top-age year, with his ability to read the play helping him get to excellent link up positions and win 28 touches against the Rays. With the return of Serong, Sparkes spent greater minutes in the defensive arc and more often than not took the kick outs. Despite the occasional turn over on Saturday, he is trusted by his teammates with ball in hand and targeted when the ball is moving forward. Without the footy, he puts his body on the line as demonstrated when he courageously backed into traffic with the flight of the ball in a desperate attempt to kill a contest during the tense fourth term.

#17 Charlie Comben
The real smoky of the Gippsland top agers and one I feel is going to impress many as the year goes on. He moves superbly for a 199cm forward or ruckman, possessing good hands and excellent ground skills. The conditions certainly did not suit a player his height on Saturday, but he produced a super clean pick up during the first quarter on the move that would have even been highly regarded if completed by a player standing 175cm. He looks a smart footballer too, getting in great marking positions which helped him drag in a strong contested chest mark, while he looks to go inside at any opportunity. Exciting prospect.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#2 Hayden Young
The Dandenong captain did his number one selection prospects no harm, looking a class above behind the ball as he took control of the game at times. His best moments were so much better in the conditions than anyone else, whether carrying the ball through the corridor and hitting the likes of Weightman lace out or getting in the hole to take contested intercept marks like it was a sunny day. Although it was in the final term when he truly lifted his output to put his team on his back like any great leader should. He won the ball at vital moments and executed perfectly on most occasions, got in the way of dangerous forays forward and produced a smother that may have been match defining. Young’s 20 disposals on the stats sheet did not justify his true influence on the result.

#11 Ned Cahill
The speedy Mt Eliza junior started forward and spent time up the ground on occasions. He had an impact early with a nicely crumbed goal which he curled around the corner with skill. He was in and out of the contest for the remaining three quarters, but he still managed to show his elite decision making and ball use throughout his 12 disposals. Cahill missed a couple of opportunities that could have seen him finish the day as a big contributor, but still played a role with and without the ball to end with 12 touches and five tackles.

#18 Mitch Riordan
The inside midfielder would have been bitterly disappointed to not get drafted after injury ended his Championships in 2018, but he gets another chance to impress for Dandenong as a 19 year old and he was consistent as usual on Saturday. He started at the stoppages and won a team high 21 disposals, but was a tad rushed by foot on occasions. We all know he can win the ball, but his next challenge is to be defensively relevant again. He is more than capable having laid nine tackles in the Grand Final last year, but it is a part of his game that must be replicated every game with such a large focus at the next level.

#20 Sam De Koning
The brother of Carlton’s Tom had the tough task of manning Gippsland’s hulking full forward Josh Smith and even though the rain was always going to suit tall defenders, he did a good job. Winning possessions was not a high priority for De Koning (five disposals), but he still managed to have plenty of aerial wins, many of which were by fist. He did however take an excellent intercept mark in the third term when the conditions were particularly difficult. It will be one of the few times Smith is held goalless this season, so it was an important performance, especially considering the final margin.

#24 Bigoa Nyuon

On a day when a 196cm forward could have been forgiven for feeling a little sorry for himself, the St Kilda NGA prospect found a way to get in the game and ultimately had a defining impact. Bigoa kept getting his hands on the ball and had he converted his very gettable three behinds, it could have been a huge day from a scoreboard perspective. Although it was a very good day nonetheless, as he took a vital contested mark in the goal square during the final term to kick a goal that had a large say on the result.

#44 Cody Weightman

This kid can play. He only stands 177cm but has a genuine presence leading out to the ball carrier and remarkably sticky hands when considering the slippery ball. He caught the eye early with a one grab overhead mark at speed on the flank before turning and sending a bullet to Bigoa inside 50. He has genuine tricks in the front half, goal sense and that rare X-factor that you really can’t teach. He finished the game with two goals, 14 disposals, five marks and genuine claims of being the most important player on the ground. Place him on your “keep an eye on” list.


Murray Bushrangers 9.10 (64) defeated by Bendigo Pioneers 9.14 (68)
By: Scott Dougan


#5 Cameron Wild
Wild was close to being the best player on the ground, amassing a game-high 30 disposals, along with seven marks and seven tackles. His work-rate is what stood out the most. He worked tirelessly to reach every stoppage around the ground and continually sprinted to space to try to make himself a viable option for his teammates when exiting the defensive 50. He also displayed a good combination of uncontested and contested ball-winning ability.

#6 Will Chandler
Chandler didn’t find much of the ball but when he did, he used it well. He showed class and composure by foot, especially under pressure. His kicking technique is fantastic, and he generally makes smart decisions with ball in hand. Chandler had a good outside game but still needs to work on his inside craft.

#12 Lachlan Ash
Ash won plenty of the ball in the back half of the ground and was the Bushrangers go-to man when delivering the ball out of the defensive 50. In difficult conditions, Ash’s foot skills stood out. He consistently made smart decisions and was able to hit plenty of targets. Ash was very clean at ground level and also showcased his ability in the air when he took a strong one-on-one mark in the second quarter. Ash had 26 disposals, with 18 of them by foot.

#14 Jye Chalcraft
I thought Chalcraft was one of the Bushrangers most influential and important players on the day. He was very good around stoppages and his in and under work was eye-catching. Chalcraft used the ball well and even drifted forward to boot two goals, one of them to put the Bushrangers back in front in the third term.

#19 Jimmy Boyer
Boyer spent the majority of the game playing in the midfield. He accumulated plenty of disposals and his ball use was really good. He is very damaging by foot, especially when he has plenty of time and space. His second half wasn’t quite as good as his first, but he was still a solid contributor.

#20 Elijah Hollands
Hollands was consistent over four quarters and never seemed to fade out of the contest. He was a solid target up forward for the Bushrangers, specifically in the final term when he had a couple of shots on goal that only failed to register a score because of the tough weather conditions. Hollands also displayed his athletic ability, footy smarts, and foot skills throughout the game.


#4 Thomson Dow
Dow was one of the better players on the day, winning plenty of the footy on the inside and outside of the contest. He was very influential around stoppages, especially when he used his burst of speed to escape congestion. Dow finished with a team-high 22 disposals and one goal.

#8 Brodie Kemp
Kemp finished with 17 disposals and a goal playing predominantly in the forward half. Although his influence on the game could have been greater, his clearance work and ball use was still very good, and he kicked the Pioneers’ winning goal, standing up at a crunch time.

#11 Aaron Gundry
The 200cm Pioneers ruckman competed strongly all day and was one of the Pioneers main contributors to their history-making win. Even though he was coming up against a 15kg heavier Ben Kelly, Gundry stood his ground firmly and won some very handy hit-outs to advantage. Most importantly, Gundry presented strongly on the lead and even won his fair share of possessions, finishing with 16 (13 in the first half).


Sandringham Dragons 12.10 (82) defeated Northern Knights 5.9 (39)
By: Ed Pascoe


#1 Jack Mahony
Mahony was very busy around the ball and up forward making things happen whenever he was around the ball. Mahony looked desperate in the first quarter hitting the contests hard and trying to eat in and under to win the contested ball, he would latter do some nice things outside the contest with a overly pass inside 50 followed by a nice set shot goal from a mark in the 2nd quarter and later in the quarter missed a running snap on the boundary. More of the same came in the 2nd half with a beautiful crumb of a contest he would then run and deliver a nice pass inside 50, he also had a similar bit of play in the last quarter with a nice pickup and kick inside 50. He finished with 17 disposals, seven tackles and six inside 50s.

#4 Finn Maginess
Maginess was solid without being a standout today, he did most things right with ball in hand and was often clean around the contest and moved well in traffic. He copped a hard knock in the first quarter but he managed to get back up to find the ball in his lap where he would quickly kick the ball away, the trainers came to look at him but he shrugged them away to try and get to the next contests despite obviously hurting showing his tenacity. He had a quiet second half but he still managed to bob up and do some nice things throughout the game, he finished the game with 14 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s.

#5 Ryan Byrnes
Byrnes had a fantastic first half he was everywhere through he midfield winning here contested ball and distributing well, he had one fantastic kick on his opposite foot inside 50 in the first quarter to teammate Angus Hanrahan which lead to a goal. Byrnes showed good composure through the midfield with one occasion spinning out of rouble and delivering a nice pass again with his opposite foot. Byrnes had a quieter second half and was visibly exhausted which was understandable with some of his multiple hard efforts, every time he got the ball he was on the move and working hard to avoid tacklers to either get a kick out or distribute by hand and he would often use is speed and would spread well from stoppages. Byrnes finished the game with 24 disposals and 4 tackles

#11 Hugo Ralphsmith
Ralphsmith had a solid game providing good run and link up throughout the day, he started the game well with a nice contested mark and quick kick and his kicking throughout the day was very good. He would latter show his courageous side in the second quarter copping a hard knock before getting back up to chase hard and tackle. Ralph-Smith was very clean with his hands and used the ball well but what also impressed where the one pet enters laying a nice block in the third quarter. Ralph-Smith finished with 17 classy disposals.

#12 Charlie Dean
Dean was the standout big man on the ground kicking four goals in a great display, he was a handful in the first quarter kicking a nice running goal and a little dribble goal as well showing good touch outside of being a big marking forward but he also looked strong on the lead providing a hard lead late in the first quarter and then quickly pumping the ball inside 50. Dean would kick his third goal in the third quarter after a nice lead up mark and classy set shot and would repeat that again on the boundary in the last quarter slotting a nice goal, his work rate to give his teammates an option was fantastic and he often used the ball well and quickly in general play. Dean finished the game flicking 4.3 with 15 disposals and eight marks.

#29 Fischer McAsey
McAsey had a quiet start to the game with his first half not as strong as his second. In the third quarter McAsey took a very strong contested intercept mark and then delivering a fantastic pass to teammates Miles Bergman at centre half-forward. This was a common theme for the last quarter as well taking strong intercept marks and using the ball well by foot to set up the play from defence. McAsey finished the game with 11 disposals and four strong marks.

#30 Andrew Courtney
Courtney has a shaky start early in the game with his disposal but it was his one preventers that made up for those early errors, in the third quarter he did a really smart tap on and then follow up with a block and later that quarter would redeem his kicking earlier in the game with a strong contested mark and quick and accurate pass inboard to a teammate. Courtney had a solid game through the ruck with 13 disposals and 23 hitouts.

#31 Josh Worrell
Worrell again spent time on the wing, his intercept marking was on show early and he often used the ball quickly and cleanly. He made a beautiful pass inside 50 to teammates Angus Hanrahan in the second quarter quickly lowering the eyes and disposing well, Worrell would get a rare shot at goal in the third quarter cutting off the opposition but missing the running shot at goal. Worrell did it hard in the last quarter getting more involved down back with a nice tackle and smother he would also drop an easy mark which was uncharacteristic but he made up for it showing some nice movement and kicking skills down back and he finished the game with 17 disposals and seven marks.


#7 Ryan Gardner
Gardner stood out with his run and clean hands throughout the day and was one of Northern’s better performers especially when all was lost late in the game. Gardner was busy early he was clean by hand and despite a poor kick he quickly made up for it getting the ball out and dishing off a creative handball, Gardner is a light player but that didn’t stop him from going in hard for the ball and he had a nice bit of play in the 2nd quarter working hard in defence and putting on pressure. Gardner mostly played on the wings but made the most of a rare stoppage when he use his clean hands to win the ball and then stay composed and dish off a nice handball. Gardner showed off his speed in the last quarter with one bit of play where he went for a run and showing his agility to get around multiple opponents and he would stay composed the whole time despite a lack of help and targets to kick to, he also had a lovely pickup at full speed then going for another run and dishing off a good handball. Gardner finished the game with 19 disposals and 5 inside 50s.

#8 Adam Carafa
Carafa was a consistent performer throughout the day constantly in the thick of the action I the midfield winning plenty of the ball while also tackling hard. Carafa had an interesting game where he was very clean at stoppages and he went in hard but his disposal at times let him down with some rushed kicks rarely taking the time to spot up a target he was lucky with one stoppage where he attacked it hard and cleanly before quickly snapping and hitting teammate Josh D’Intinosante inside 50. Carafa had no issue finding the ball at the coal face and was clean with his hands in tight but taking the time to make good decisions with his disposal will go a long way to making him a more dangerous player. Carafa really did work hard and he finished the game with 28 disposals and 11 tackles.

#11 Ryan Sturgess
Sturgess was a general in defence, the Northern captain set the standard for desperation and intent to make an impact whenever he went for the ball. He was shaky in the second quarter with a floating switch kick and he was also run down with some poor awareness but after that he switched into gear and went on to be Northern’s strongest performer in the 2nd half. His desperation was a standout trait with one but of play in the third quarter where he picked up the ball nicely before falling down with a player hot on his heels he quickly got back up and dished off a nice handball. Sturgess was fantastic on the rebound he did not take many marks but took a very good intercept mark in the last quarter and also laid a strong tackle. Sturgess finished the game with 22 disposals and eight rebounds.

#13 Sam Philp
Philp was impressive in the midfield, playing as an inside midfielder Philp used his clean hands and strong body to his advantage at stoppages and he distributed well by hand to his running players. Philp stop out early in the game with one passage of play where he picked up cleanly of the deck and showed great movement in traffic, this continued in the second quarter with Ismaili passages of play showing his clean hands in tight he also took a nice lead up mark sowing he he was more than just a stoppage player. Philp had a strong last quarter in one passage of play spinning out of trouble and followed that up with a nice handball and again at a stoppage winning the contested ball and standing up in the tackle to dish off effectively. Philp even crumbed a marking contest in a similar vein to his stoppage work and again disposing well by hand, Philp finished the game with 18 disposals and eight tackles.


Western Jets 5.4 (34) defeated Eastern Ranges 13.19 (97)
By: Ed Pascoe

Western Jets:

#18 Emerson Jeka
Jeka had a quiet day at the office as did most of his teammates up forward. Jeka struggled early losing a one on one marking contest with his direct opponent although he would do much better in the second quarter taking a nice lead up mark on the back flank and later on showing great movement for a player of his size and showing class by hand to set up his team’s first goal. The third quarter was more of the same he was quick and clean by hand and he took showed his work at ground level with a lovely pickup in the wet. Jeka would finally hit the scoreboard in the last quarter from a lead up mark and set shot goal from the boundary. Jeka finished the game with six disposals and one goal.

#20 Darcy Cassar
Cassar was made to work hard in defence and he played his role well often taking the kick outs and using he ball well by hand and foot. Cassar showed nice movement early in the game often weaving out of trouble to distribute by hand coming out of defence. He found plenty of the ball over the 4 quarters and he worked hard to keep linking up the ground from defence, his last quarter was very good setting up a goal to teammates Emerson Jeka with a nice pass inside 50 and he showed good attack on the ball late in the game which was promising considering the game was lost. Cassar finished the game with 31 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and nine rebounds to be the clear best player for the Jets.

#24 Josh Honey
Honey struggled in the midfield, usually reliant on the bigger inside mids to release him the ball to use his excellent skills he wasn’t given the space to be his normal damaging self by the Eastern Ranges midfielders. Honey did try hard he showed good desperation in the first quarter and laid a strong tackle and when he went for the ball at stoppages he was mostly clean with his hands. The second quarter he showed hoe dangerous he can be with a good run and kick to CHF and another bit of play showing nice composure and hit a nice kick down the line. Honey would finish with game with 10 disposals and a goal which came in the second quarter with a classy dribble goal from the boundary on the run.

Eastern Ranges:

#7 Lachlan Stapleton
Stapleton was a force through the midfield often found on the bottom of packs trying to get the ball out and win first possession. He started the game well going forward any way he could with some nice bits of play, he had a running shot at goal that just missed in the first quarter but it was his constant barrage inside 50 that set up his teammates. Stapleton was a four quarter performer never letting up with his attack on the ball and constant drive forward, he finished the game with 33 disposals eight tackles and 10 inside 50s in a tough and effective display.

#11 Mitch Mellis
Mitch Mellis was huge for his team often a constant threat through the midfield and up forward. Mellis kicked 3 goals with his first coming in the 2nd quarter after taking a nice mark and slotting the easy set shot goal, h was extremely busy around the ground showing his clean hands and constant movement in traffic. Mellis’s second goal came with a classy running snap goal and that quarter he also set up others with a nice kick to teammate Jamieson Rossiter, he was everywhere in the last quarter getting a lot of the ball and using it effectively and he would then kick his third goal from a. Lead up mark and set shot goal 25m out directly in front. Mellis finished the game with 35 disposals and 3 goals in a best on ground display.

#13 Jamieson Rossiter
Rossiter again had a quiet game by his standards but a slightly improved game on last week. Rossiter lead hard early working his way up the ground to take. A nice diving chest mark and then he quickly kicked inboard to great effect an he would finish the first quarter well despite missing a snap shot at goal he would later take a nice contested mark and slot the set shot. He showed great work at ground even with a lovely pickup and kick inside 50 to teammate Cody Hirst. He would not kick any more goals for the day missing a running shot at goal from the boundary in the second quarter, in the third quarter he would take a lead up mark and then surprised the crowd with a big barrel inside 50. Rossiter finished the game with 12 disposals, five tackles and one goal.

#17 Cody Hirst
You would think in the wet weather a 178cm and 67kg wingman would struggle but Hirst looked sensational in the wet conditions pickup up the ball like it was dry and going in just as hard as anyone. Hirst set the standard early with an incredibly courageous mark running back with the flight inside 50, his set shot became an errant pass to the opposition but the mark on its own certainly caught the eye, Hirst again showed his aerial skills with a nice intercept mark in the second quarter and then quickly played on with a nice kick inboard. Hirst hit a fantastic short pass in the third quarter to centre half-forward and an eye catching one handed pickup in the wet conditions and then hit a switch kick to teammate Mitch Mellis using his great vision and he would finish the quarter with a bullant tackle refusing to let go. Hirst was everywhere in the last quarter with more of the same, a fantastic kick inside 50 again to teammate Mitch Mellis completed a well rounded game where he finished with 29 disposals, eight marks and four tackles.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels 8.16 (64) defeated Geelong Falcons 9.9 (63)
By: Michael Alvaro


#4 Jed Hill

You cannot fault the over-ager’s attack on the ball, and Hill’s intensity was important in tough conditions. While his pressure and intent was important, Hill found it a little harder to have as profound an impact with ball in hand – and started shakily with a hospital pass to a teammate early on. Still, the best feature of Hill’s game shone through and he hunted the ball well at stoppages when playing midfield, while also putting in a good double effort to tackle and smother in the fourth quarter. Just needs to find the ball more and polish up in his time through the middle.

#7 Mitch Martin

Like Hill, looked a little off early on with his decision making and execution, turning the ball over by foot. While he also featured in the midfield, Martin did not quite rack up his usual numbers but had a couple of nice moments. His shrug of an opponent to get a kick off inside 50 in the second term was good, but Martin’s highlight was converting a clutch goal in the closing stages after winning a free kick one-on-one.

#8 James Cleaver

Popped up with two important goals for the Rebels, with his effort on the run in the last quarter crucial to the comeback win. Goals aside, Cleaver chased the loose balls hard in the opening stages and looked slick when picking the ball up off his toes at times. A good mover, Cleaver’s damage going forward proved a big difference on the day.

#13 Jay Rantall

Was the Rebels’ leading possession winner with 24, often hacking the ball long out of contested situations to move his side forward. Rantall had a nice pick up, weave and inside 50 in the first term, as well as an intercept mark to create another inside 50 in the second. Winning the ball well at both ends, Rantall also tackled hard and his effort showed as he looked to have come off proppy late on, clutching at his hamstring.


#8 Charlie Lazzaro

In a similar fashion to his Round 1 performance, Lazzaro found his way into the game slowly and was a key extractor for the Falcons. He burrows in well and is often at the bottom of packs or disposing of the ball quickly, so his impact sometimes goes unnoticed. Still, he featured heavily at the stoppages and worked hard all day.

#36 Charlie Sprague

The over-ager continues to show glimpses of his talent, and put in another impressive display. Employed in the centre bounce to begin proceedings, Sprague was often a target for the Falcons rucks, and uses his body well in traffic. When moving up the ground, Sprague spread hard and was a good link into forward 50 with his marking on the lead. He had a hand in Geelong’s second goal early on, but missed the chance to settle his side in the fourth term with a set shot. Was still a good target and someone his teammates obviously trust to do the job inside 50.

#40 Jesse Clark

Clark was a calming influence down back as per usual, and seemed to get to a lot of contests in defensive 50. While he was always thereabouts, Clark sometimes found himself around the back of the contest rather than in it, but found a way to move the ball out and rebound well – nine rebound 50s would suggest as much.

#41 Cooper Stephens

A key man for the Falcons, Stephens was uncharacteristically fumbly in the first term, and had a couple of ineffective handballs to start off. He then built into the game well, featuring as an extractor and provider to runners – an important role for any side. Strong over the ball, the Geelong co-captain showed as much during the second term with a clean pick up under duress and trying conditions, flicking the ball out to a teammate beautifully. He took a solid mark with close attention to end the third quarter, and slotted a goal on the siren to set his side up for the win. That was not to be, but he had a good hand in the dying stages in trying to rescue the points for Geelong.


Calder Cannons 7.4 (46) defeated by Oakleigh Chargers 10.9 (69)
By: Michael Alvaro


#1 Daniel Mott
Was a frustrating day for the Calder star, spending most of his time throughout the game on the inside. While he managed to win some flash clearances, Mott was often rushed by his Oakleigh counterparts and hardly found the chance to show off his high-level decision making or running game. A quieter than usual outing, but Mott has the class to bounce back.

#8 Sam Ramsay
Ramsay provided some good run and rebound on the outside for Calder, using the ball effectively by foot to cause damage in patches. He was composed on the ball for the most part and had a couple of clever improvised kicks going forward. As many good wingmen do, Ramsay also ran forward well and kicked a really nice goal on the half time siren in wet conditions.

#26 Mason Fletcher
The potential Bombers father-son has not strung together a whole heap of games over the past year on the back of injuries, so understandably took some time to find his feet. As his name would suggest, Fletcher does the defensive basics well and intercepted high balls with timely spoils. Calm in possession, Fletcher was also entrusted with the kick-out duties at times and even pitched in with five rebound-50s. Took an outstanding one-on-one mark deep in defence during the second quarter to showcase his outstanding reading of the play and ball in flight.

#30 Josh Kemp
One of the stars of the day, Kemp almost single-handedly dragged Calder back into the contest. Playing one-out deep inside forward 50, the over-ager looked dangerous as the ball came in long, using his leap and strong hands to ensure he was a reliable target. Booted two of Calder’s five second-quarter goals in an absolute hot streak, but his highlight for the day was his third goal – a clinical snap from the pocket leading two opponents back towards goal.

#38 Brodie Newman
The skipper was a calming influence in defence, and was often seen barking orders to his troops throughout the game. Newman’s intercept marking and ability to move the ball cleanly out of defensive 50 were both important, and gave the Cannons a chance to stay in the game. Finds a good amount of the ball for a key position player, too, and was flexible enough to cover the enigmatic Dylan Williams for some of the game.


#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney
While he did not win as much of the ball as he did last week, Ayton-Delaney’s run from stoppages caught the eye, and he is not afraid to take opponents on. That breaking speed was often the best feature of his game, but the 19-year-old was also clean below his knees and smart by foot going forward.

#8 Noah Anderson
Backing up his Round 1 Draft Central Player of the Week performance, Anderson tore it up again in the midfield with a monster 44 disposals and two goals. While he did not seem as typically damaging with his kicking game forward of centre, he was a constant presence at stoppages, had repeated inside 50s, and bobbed up as expected to find the goals. Firming as an early favourite to go first off the board come draft time, Anderson’s repeat efforts, tenacity at the ball, and willingness to run hard to follow up his kicks were all outstanding. With the ability to tear a game apart, it was also pleasing to see Anderson rise as the game was up for grabs in the second half.

#11 Matt Rowell
Rowell is a complete midfield package, and showed again that he can do just about everything well. Hard to miss with his red hair and tucked shirt, Rowell was one of the few players who broke away well from stoppages to provide real drive and a good number of effective clearances. His first five steps often set him apart, and Rowell’s polish with ball in hand was also a constant highlight. Damaging on the offensive end, Rowell also showed a willingness to tackle, and got his hands dirty in the back half with smothers and a great effort going back with the flight of the ball to effect a spoil.

#23 Dylan Williams
While he was kept relatively quiet for large parts of the game, Williams still managed to stand up when required and found the goals in tough conditions for deep-lying forwards. The Oakleigh skipper’s hands overhead and at ground level were also exceptional in the wet, and his haul of three last-quarter goals dragged the Chargers over the line. Has undeniable talent, and in the end, was not to be denied.

#29 Finlay Macrae
The bottom-ager was a dangerous part of Oakleigh’s forward line finishing with 21 disposals and 1.2, Macrae created scoring opportunities for others on top of his lone goal, finding space well and hunting his opponents going the other way. Macrae’s holding the ball tackle which led to a teammate’s goal was outstanding, and he stayed in the game well throughout.

Team Selection: NAB League Girls – Round 2

TEAMS have brought in a number of talented players for Round 2 of the NAB League Girls competition as sides strive to either back up strong performances from Round 1, or hope to bounce back from losses in the opening round. Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons) has been named on the bench having missed the first round, while Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers) and Molly McDonald (Dandenong Stingrays) are also back into their respective sides, certain to boost the team’s chances of victory.

After two triple headers in Round 1, the six games are spread across six different venues, from Bendigo to Ballarat, Geelong to Yarrawonga, Moorabbin to Bundoora in a chance for spectators across the state to take in some terrific football action. Below are how the 12 teams have been named for the weekend’s action.


Round 2 – 16/03/2019
Epsom Huntly Reserve – Bendigo


B: 25. K. Hazlett, 36. K. Douglass, 24. S. Oliver
HB: 28. E. Gretgrix, 40. T. Slender, 46. K. Mitchell
C: 3. E. Snell, 33. B. Heiden, 1. M. Tupper
HF: 14. A. Strahan, 30. H. Stewart, 20. D. Villiva
F: 50. M. Barton, 44. J. Jolliffe, 9. T. Miaoudis
R: 37. G. Sladden, 19. J. Finning, 4. B. Hards
Int: 34. E. Cooper, 48. D. Kelly-Guthrie, 26. C. Mitchell, 41. E. Peacock


B: 17. M. Kendall, 51. S. Zappia, 54. E. Odria
HB: 11. M. Edwards, 49. C. Wilsmore, 1. C. Smith
C: 29. M. Di Cosmo, 39. L. McClelland, 20. J. Richardson
HF: 26. T. Brown, 41. T. Merrett, 48. I. Khoury
F: 31. S. Collard, 46. S. Gibbs, 12. M. Taverna
R: 25. J. Grace, 33. T. Flintoff, 21. O. Meagher
Int: 44. S. Bowden, 23. M. Church, 35. L. Hilton, 16. E. Horne


Round 2 – 16/03/2019
Mars Stadium – Ballarat


B: 2. Z. Denahy, 16. L. Sykes, 11. L. Donegan
HB: 5. N. Butler, 27. G. Pidgeon, 12. V. Jewell
C: 13. B. Thompson, 24. S. Molan, 3. A. Trigg
HF: 29. P. Metcalfe, 34. K. Harris, 28. I. Robson
F: 6. M. Ciavarella, 23. I. Rustman, 9. R. Saulitis
R: 35. M. Caris, 10. E. Wood, 15. C. Leonard
Int: 1. L. Condon, 20. E. Friend, 21. A. Stevens, 4. K. Tomkins


B: 24. K. Delia, 6. K. Reid, 36. Z. Penno
HB: 32. T. Fry, 35. I. Young, 41. G. Prespakis
C: 8. Z. Friswell, 31. K. Petrevski, 3. E. Yassir
HF: 46. G. Elarmaly, 18. T. Gillard, 34. Z. Hardiman
F: 22. M. Muller, 44. I. McNeill-Wren, 2. F. Theodore
R: 49. T. Crook, 11. A. Barba, 38. L. Cocomello
Int: 1. H. Cooke, 43. C. Leahy, 25. A. Magri, 21. G. Patrikios


Round 2 – 17/03/2019
La Trobe University – Bundoora


B: 32. A. Snow, 2. S. Fell, 34. M. Uwland
HB: 10. P. Chisholm, 18. S. Sansonetti, 17. C. Fitzgerald
C: 6. A. Bannan, 21. E. McKenzie, 9. M. Chaplin
HF: 7. A. Bennett, 23. G. Newton, 29. T. Pulcino
F: 20. C. Linssen, 3. N. Morris-Dalton, 25. T. Mills
R: 1. J. Nelson, 14. J. Fitzgerald, 22. B. Gutknecht
Int: 11. M. Appleby, 16. Z. Flanigan, 30. M. Plunkett, 36. T. Smart
Emg: 8. G. Ceravolo, 24. J. Nursey, 26. M. Papachristos, 35. J. Simpson


B: 2. M. Hill, 26. A. Micallef, 29. C. Rowbottom
HB: 33. E. Chamberlain, 12. A. Peck, 18. C. O’Malley
C: 34. G. Larkey, 17. N. Xenos, 22. J. Lin
HF: 1. G. Lagioia, 10. T. Cowan, 5. A. van Oosterwijck
F: 11. M. Bertuna, 15. C. Russell, 4. E. Harley
R: 3. K. Kearns, 8. A. Porter, 32. E. James
Int: 14. G. Byrne, 9. E. Jackson, 38. D. Lloyd, 31. S. Morley, 13. T. Morton, 21. S. Reid


Round 2 – 17/03/2019
Deakin University – Geelong


B: 7. M. Holdsworth, 21. A. Chapman, 44. J. Robinson
HB: 16. E. Mahoney, 32. K. Haustorfer , 11. D. Smith
C: 12. L. Gardiner, 23. L. Lesosky-Hay, 28. A. Sanderson
HF: 24. M. Skinner, 8. P. Sheppard, 1. E. Vella
F: 34. S. Milsome, 39. R. Tierney, 25. L. Ryan
R: 20. S. Hovey, 38. L. McEvoy, 18. D. Moloney
Int: 14. Z. Garth, 37. A. Lee, 46. A. McKee, 4. P. Schaap
Emg: 36. M. Featherston , 6. T. Hassett, 45. T. Lewis


B: 19. H. Booth, 47. E. Williams, 7. L. Raymond
HB: 26. G. McRae, 45. M. Van Berkel, 9. M. Shaw
C: 13. H. Andrews, 8. C. Abrahams , 30. A. Rippon
HF: 2. S. Beaton, 27. N. Webber, 40. C. Robinson
F: 3. M. Gilmour, 50. G. Matser, 11. S. Walker
R: 49. G. Radford, 12. M. Fitzsimon, 17. S. Trewin
Int: 15. C. Bailey, 20. J. Chila, 16. A. Hardwick, 21. C. Prestidge
Emg: 1. S. Brisbane, 24. N. Williams


Round 2 – 17/03/2019
J.C. Lowe Oval – Yarrawonga


B: 24. H. Doohan, 44. M. Quade, 6. C. Hargreaves
HB: 14. C. Boschetti, 43. A. Williams, 10. S. Locke
C: 7. K. Adams, 19. M. Brown, 8. A. Favell
HF: 31. M. Trethowan, 45. O. Barber, 37. T. Verhoeven
F: 18. Z. Spencer, 34. E. McPherson, 40. K. Whitehead
R: 39. A. Morphett, 22. A. Richardson, 11. T. Brett
Int: 2. O. Antonello, 33. E. Mifka, 21. C. Styan , 27. J. Ward
Emg: 16. M. Jones, 20. S. Lang, 41. L. Sharp


B: 19. A. Anthony, 11. K. O’Keefe, 20. T. Kolevski
HB: 1. M. Huta, 23. I. Pritchard, 15. N. Wright
C: 13. I. Grant, 9. R. Tripodi, 16. H. Herring
HF: 6. E. Kiely, 25. C. Saxon-Jones, 8. O. Millar
F: 5. I. Cavka, 26. C. Weston-Sirett, 14. L. Wright
R: 22. C. Singleton, 12. E. Quinn, 17. E. Georgostathis
Int: 10. T. Evans, 30. T. Kotoski, 24. J. Mwaka, 21. E. Robinson


Round 2 – 17/03/2019
RSEA Park – Moorabbin


B: 57. C. Bowen, 24. N. Borg, 44. D. Walker
HB: 38. G. Strangio, 25. S. Hartwig, 7. R. Woods
C: 42. M. Purcell, 17. B. Arnold, 26. C. Saultry
HF: 33. I. Eddey, 2. S. Rothfield, 40. A. Moloney
F: 65. E. Angelopoulos, 1. M. Denahy Maloney, 29. I. Stutt
R: 13. T. Grasso, 22. E. McNamara, 28. A. Burke
Int: 15. C. Cody, 30. W. Laing, 21. E. Turner , 58. T. Tysoe
Emg: 47. K. Lynch, 3. C. Murphy, 50. P. Staltari


B: 14. L. Grocock, 51. Z. Hill, 17. M. Layfield
HB: 32. J. Radford, 50. A. Nagtzaam, 31. B. Vernon
C: 21. G. Hodder, 28. T. Smith, 10. A. Jordan
HF: 48. A. Carroll, 24. A. Liddle, 20. P. Wilson-Macdonald
F: 2. S. Stratton, 49. K. McKenzie, 55. H. Thomas
R: 58. G. Howes, 12. M. McDonald, 26. I. Shannon
Int: 40. R. Clancy – Dillon, 23. D. Fennell, 4. J. Guy-Toogood, 53. O. Mauerhofer, 34. A. Richards

U18 Girls season preview: Murray Bushrangers

A new season, new coach and new mindset is driving the Murray Bushrangers Girls’ into 2019 as they look to repeat their previous two seasons starts, while finishing the nine-game competition strongly. Helping lead the charge is new coach, Tim Madden – who has taken over from inaugural coach Sam Ahmet – and high performance manager, Aidan Edwards. Bushrangers’ Female Talent Manager, Briana Cossar said the training regime, intensity and extra input from the girls was clear on the track.

“We’ve got a new coach, he’s been super,” she said. “We’ve also got a futures coach and a couple of different assistant coaches as well so they fitted right in, and we’ve also got a specific high-performance guy for the girls so between Tim (Madden) and Aidan (Edwards), they do an amazing job.

“I think that by implementing the different phases at training and in workload, I think that that’s shown out on the track from the start of November and again in January when we came back, there’s been a marked improvement and we’ve also introduced some skill-based programs as well, so the skill has definitely improved to much better than what it was at this time last year.”

In the inaugural season of the TAC Cup Girls, Murray won all five of its games, but finished second overall given Calder’s percentage was higher, therefore handing the Cannons a maiden premiership. Twelve months later, the Bushrangers started the season with three wins and a draw in the first four games, but slipped in the back-end of the year as the top few sides stood out and Murray finished seventh.

AFL Women’s Academy member, Rebecca Webster was the standout for recruiters landing at Geelong in October’s draft, and has played all three games for the Cats in the AFL Women’s competition this year. Cossar said Webster showed she belonged after just one game, standing out in Geelong’s win over Collingwood under lights at GMHBA Stadium.

“Having ‘Becky’ get drafted was a dream of hers come true,” she said. “It’s obviously a testament to the elite program that we do via the players and the talent pathway. So we’re all really excited for Becky and she played quite well on the weekend, to get a game under her belt I think the future is really bright going forward for Becky.”

Like any side in the Under 18 competition, Cossar said the club would have loved more draftees but having seen the amount of mature-age talent coming through the draft, knows the draft dream is not lost for the top-age players who missed out last year, with a number of Bushrangers continuing their football pathway in the VFL Women’s competition with Richmond.

“We had a handful of girls who we though were draftable but unfortunately they didn’t get drafted,” she said. “But I think the good thing with the VFLW is that we’re aligned with Richmond, so I think giving those girls an opportunity to play VFLW, and also the National Championships like Eloise Ashley-Cooper, puts them in good stead because Richmond go into the AFLW next year. “This year they’re list building so I know the likes of Tamara Smith and Grace Egan are down at Richmond training and they’ll play there again this season so hopefully they manage to get on that list and going forward, play AFLW.”

Looking ahead to 2019, a fellow Bushranger could join Webster at the Cattery at year’s end, with Mille Brown – daughter of Geelong’s Paul Brown – eligible under the father-daughter rule. While Paul played 84 games – not enough to qualify under the father-son rule – the minimum amount for the father-daughter rule is just one game. Along with bottom-ager, Olivia Barber, the pair is a part of the AFL Women’s Academy this year. Brown is a versatile utility who would be stationed off half-back or on a wing, while Barber rotated between ruck and forward last season.

“We’ve got Millie Brown as a top-ager, part of the Academy – so this is her second year in the Academy,” Cossar said. “We’ve also got Olivia Barber, this is her first year in the Academy. Her background is basketball, she’s a really talented basketballer… We’re fortunate to have her as part of our program as well and hopefully we’ll see a few more games from Olivia this season which would be great.”

Cossar said the amount of bottom-agers from 2018 that returned for the 2019 pre-season was really promising and testament to the club’s program. It did however leave the coaches and list managers with some tough decisions. The Bushrangers’ Female Talent Manager is not only excited about the year ahead, but the next few years, with glimses of future talent on display at training.

“Most of them (bottom-agers from 2018) did come back, we had 150 girls nominate for our trial day back in September (2018) and then obviously we had to cut that, so we cut that back to 75, we took 75 into pre-season and just recently cut again to take a squad of 52 for the season,” she said. “It’s really exciting and it was a difficult selection process because there were so many talented youngsters out there so we’ve gone for a few more futures, a few more Under 16s, we’ve got some absolute ripping 2004-born girls and honestly, they could play Under 18s this year if the age limit allowed – we would have them in our Round 1 side. “So, exciting times going forward and we just can’t wait for Round 1 – Northern Knights at RAMS Arena on the 2nd of March – that’ll be a really tough game, we may think that they’re the team to beat throughout the season.”

As for those tearing up the track, Cossar named talented forward, Kate Adams, vice-captain Sophie Locke – who played four games in 2018 – and phenomenal athlete, Abby Favell (one game in 2018) as players who have impressed thus far.

“Kate Adams smashed 1:27 off her 500s which was really impressive,” Cossar said. “Sophie Locke has been really impressive on the track – Kate’s a 17 year-old, Sophie’s top-age this year. “Abby Favell, who’s a 17 year-old – she’s from Griffith, so she makes a three-and-quarter-hour trek one-way to training on Wednesdays and Sundays and she’s an absolute jet. “She’s quick, she’s got endurance, she ticks all the boxes. “She can kick on either side of her body, her awareness and decision making is really good – I could mention 10 other players to be honest and I could mention 10 futures.”

Murray Bushrangers kick off their campaign on March 2 at RAMS Arena against grand finalists, Northern Knights and in the nine game season, face off against every side except Eastern Ranges and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels.

Opportunity becomes a reality for Webster

REBECCA Webster first joined TAC Cup Girls side, the Murray Bushrangers as a 14 year-old.

At that point in time, Webster admits the opportunity to play in a nationwide female Australian Rules competition was looking unlikely. But four years later, the 18 year-old is living out her dream; drafted by Geelong at pick seven.

“I’m really lost for words,” Webster said. “I never thought the day would come that we’d be sitting in there, so to get my name read out with the Geelong Cats was something I’ll remember forever and cherish.”

The occasion was even more special for Webster, as she had turned 18 the day before she got drafted, prompting a perfect birthday present. Before draft day though, Webster had contact with the Cats and says they were very engaging when trying to get her to the club.

“They were really good people and I know quite a lot of girls from Geelong,” Webster said. “They were very inviting. “They just wanted regional girls that were going to produce some great use coming through and I think that they’ve really done that with the picks they’ve picked.”

Webster joins the club alongside fellow Vic Country representatives such as Nina Morrison, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke. She knows all these players well and looks forward to continuing her football journey with them.

“All the girls that are going to be playing down at Geelong, they’re really good girls and they know how to play footy,” Webster said. “We’ve got a really good bond so I think playing alongside them will be really good.”

Representing Vic Country over the years has been a valuable experience for Webster, who has modelled her game off one particular teammate who is now on an AFL Women’s list.

“I think I’m quite an individual but I’d love to think that I play kind of like Darcy Guttridge, she’s quite an attacking half-back player,” she said.

Like many up and coming players do, Webster also has some football idols. While Webster’s admired female footballer is a common admired name, she looks up to one of the more interesting characters of the men’s game.

“Probably Daisy Pearce (is my football idol),” the 18 year-old said. “From the males, (I like) Jason Akermanis. “When I was younger, I just thought he was cool.”

Webster spent some time this year with Melbourne University. While it was a big step-up, she says it was a valuable experience.

“The step was more so body size to get used to but other than that, I really enjoyed it and thought I fitted in pretty well,” Webster said.

The midfielder/ defender had to balance this along with playing in other teams, going to school and working. This can be a stressful prospect for anyone, but Webster admits she learnt how to juggle these commitments through football.

“With Year 12 and studies and all that sort of stuff alongside footy and work commitments, it’s obviously a very big juggle,” she said. “But with the footy side of things, I’ve learnt a lot of time management so that’s really helped this year.”

Now looking ahead to 2019, Webster hopes to use these lessons at her new AFL Women’s club. She also hopes to utilise her strengths in her game to make the most of her time at the Cats.

“I’m quite happy playing half-back flank down there,” Webster said. “But playing in different positions is something that I look forward to trying out and definitely with senior footy, you can be chucked anywhere.”

Brown learning off others to succeed

MURRAY Bushrangers bottom-ager, Millie Brown loves to learn.

She has had the privilege in being able to learn in one of the leading TAC Cup Girls sides, alongside coach, Sam Ahmet and AFL Women’s Academy member, Rebecca Webster. Brown says people like this not only help her learn, but make the learning process an enjoyable one.

“It was a bit slow when I was starting because I just transitioned from the boys and I found it a lot different but I’ve had some really good people around me like Sam Ahmet, he’s been my coach at the Bushies for the whole time of being here so him and a lot of the older players like Becky Webster are great to have around,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

This learning attitude still exists for Brown even though she HAs been playing football for a long time. Her football journey started as a youngster and has now flourished into a thriving career.

“I have (played footy all my life),” the 17 year-old said. “I started Auskick in Grade One, I missed Grade Prep, I was always messing around with the boys at school playing footy and through up until top-age 14s then transitioned over to the girls.”

Since transitioning to the girls, Brown has enjoyed plenty of game time with Murray, playing eight games this season. Brown also made the Vic Country squad for this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Even before knowing she was in the team, Brown was excited nonetheless.

“I am looking forward to a chance at that (playing nationals),” the Vic Country representative said. “They’re always a great time, a really great standard of footy with all the girls and coaches so yeah I’m looking forward to that. “I’m pretty comfortable with a lot of the girls now, I probably won’t be too nervous heading into that. “I’ll just give it my best shot and see how I go.”

This would not have been possible if Bushrangers coach, Sam Ahmet did not get into contact with Brown’s father, Paul Brown, who played 84 games for Geelong.

“I think Sam got in contact with my Dad actually and I went down and watched one of the trainings when they (Bushrangers) were still with the Bendigo Pioneers,” the 17 year-old said. “Then I joined fully in the next year and I think I played a bit of the V/Line cup.”

Murray endured a difficult TAC Cup Girls campaign this year, and Brown says although she’s disappointed, she was impressed about the attitude shown in the side’s losses.

“We’ve had a few losses and we were expecting to go a bit better than we did,” she said. “But you know, that’s footy, that happens. “I think our team still showed a lot of courage in the games that we did lose so the effort was still really there.”

Looking back, Brown believes that the long travel time was sometimes a factor in the side’s losses.

“Sometimes it can be difficult with long trips, I think we had to travel three hours to go to Oakleigh so that can be a factor but it makes it hard more so with training,” she said. “We’ve got a very spread out squad so we have to travel and an hour and we can only train once a week so it does make it more difficult but you work with it.”

Brown has been able to work with the scattered training, where she has been able to develop her versatility. She believes this is a strength in her game.

“I think I’m quite a versatile player, I think I can pop into different positions comfortably and just do what the coach asks me,” Brown said. “I love to learn and play off the other people around me.”

But being the trademark learner that she is, Brown still has skills in her minds that she would like to improve on.

“I’m really working on my overhead marking at the moment because I’ve grown a lot recently,” she said. “So now that I’m a bit of a bigger body on the field, I need to clunk them.”

Brown is eligible for next year’s AFL Women’s Draft and could be picked up as a father-daughter selection, given her father played for Geelong.

Player Focus: Ely Smith

MURRAY Bushrangers have secured their spot in the finals race after outclassing the Bendigo Pioneers at Ikon Park over the weekend, defeating them by 27 points.

Ely Smith continues to make a case for a possible late second round pick with another strong showing in the Wild Card round against the Bendigo Pioneers. While originally missing selection in Vic Country’s original side, Smith later received a call up after Country lost their inside midfielders in Jye Caldwell and Mitch Riordan, and Smith’s continued showing of good form.

In the TAC Cup, Smith leads in clearances, sits third in disposals, third in contested possessions, third in handballs, tenth in inside 50s and twelfth in tackles. This strong bodied midfielder knows how to take a tackle and use his size and strength to gain prominent position. While his inside game is easily his most impressive quality, he by no means lacks an ability on the outside.

With stakes increasing heading deeper into finals, we could see a big lift from the Bushrangers’ contested possession winner and a big add to his stocks heading into the 2018 National Draft.

Quarter by quarter:

Ely Smith’s usual impact was nowhere to be seen in the first, tallying only the two possessions for the quarter, and being quickly dealt with on his first touch.

After some time to reflect at the break, and probably some choice words from his coach, Smith entered the second term with a huge lift in form. Off the tap down he read the drop best and manoeuvred well in tight space to burst into the Bushrangers’ attacking half. He shot off a lot of clean passes from the middle, aiding the Bushrangers’ aggressive run forward and picked his man well despite having Pioneers hanging off his back. He continued to boast a perfect read on the ball, spoiling a mark along the wing and collecting it off a bounce. He copped a tackle soon after but got a short pass away, quickly regained possession and chipped it up to the square and affected a Bushranger goal.

He kept lifting in the third, earning a clearance from the first stoppage and locking down a getaway in the second. In the next centre bounce, Smith earned himself a clearance and an inside 50, bursting away with the pill and setting up a shot on goal. He trapped the ball carrier out of the next centre bounce, causing a stoppage, and laid a second tackle to dispossess and hand Dylan Clarke a clearance. Some strong kicking and a burst away from congestion frequently broke Pioneer lines. Breaking one tackle and withstanding a second, Smith kicked clean down the passage which resulted in another Bushrangers goal. He repeated the same action soon after, booting the ball over the centre square out of their defensive half, shattering Pioneer lines. If he was not first to the footy, he was usually a close second, wrapping up his man before they could take a step.

The hitouts stopped going his way at the beginning of the final term, with one thumped long and another hit high. Though unlike the first, Smith turned it around and gained his first disposal with a chip kick inside 50 from a lead through the passage. He went onto to clean up his team’s messy clearance work from the stoppage, extracting it from the congestion and again creating movement. He broke lines with excellent work out of the back, including a strong kick in the defensive 50 which created some easy movement. Not long after, he received the ball at the end of the chain that he started inside 50 but missed to the left with his set shot. He got a second chance at it off the kick in, causing a turnover, but was unsuccessful in converting. Smith is an easy pick for best on ground, for his massive second and third quarter impact, dominating both the inside and outside game for the day.


Final Stats:

29 disposals (16 contested)

12 kicks

17 handballs

12 handball receives

6 tackles

6 clearances

6 inside 50s

2 rebounds


It cannot be said definitively but it is likely Smith will be taken somewhere in the middle of the Draft. Producing a strong showing in the finals has the potential to catch recruiters’ eyes, so if he is able to keep his form up and goes deeper into finals, that’s more time to affect a positive opinion.

Weekly wrap: NSW/ACT state leagues

A SECOND player from the NSW/ACT contingent that travelled to the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships has emerged as a premiership player this year, while a number of others had the week off due to their sides making their respective grand finals.

Murray Bushrangers star, and NSW/ACT defender, Eloise Ashley-Cooper became the second player from her state side to win a premiership in the 2018 season. Ashley-Cooper joined Eastern Allies teammate, Alyce Parker in celebrating a flag, after her Finley side won the Shepparton and District Junior Football League Youth Girls’ Grand Final. In a low-scoring affair which saw just six goals kicked between the sides – four of which came in the first term – the Cats got up with a 4.9 (33) to 2.0 (12) victory over Shepparton United. Ashley-Cooper’s terrific season ended on a high note, named best on ground and booted a goal in Finley’s victory. Unfortunately it meant Bushrangers teammate Kate Adams was on the wrong side of the result, named in the best for the Demons.

There was a bye in the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, after last week, Angela Priftis enjoyed a 23-point win over fellow NSW/ACT Under-18 representative, Jemima Wrigley. Priftis’ Auburn-Penrith Giants proved too good for Wrigley’s Southern Power, booting seven goals to three after quarter time to record a 8.4 (52) to 4.5 (29) victory. The match was a pre-cursor for the finals series which starts this week as the third placed Giants host the fourth placed Power in a do-or-die semi-final at Blacktown this weekend. Meanwhile Division One played its first week of finals on the weekend, as Brenna Tarrant kept her premiership dream alive in East Coast Eagles’ 18-point win over Pennant Hills Demons. She was named second best for the Eagles in the win, as the home side restricted their opponents to just one behind after quarter time, booting the final four goals of the match. They face Woollongong Saints for a spot in the Division One decider.

In the Sydney Harbour Youth Girls Division One, Willoughby Mosman earned a week off after their semi-final win the week before, so Zoe Hurrell and Alice Mitchell will look forward to the grand final this weekend. They will be hoping for a similar result to the semi-final, with the Southern Power winning their preliminary final to earn a second crack at the top side. The Power’s win did come at the expense of Georgia Garnett and Emily Hurley‘s Kellyville Rouse Hill’s side, as the Magpies went down to 17 points, bundled out of the finals race. In the AFL North Coast Women’s league, Ahlani Eddy rested up after her side Sawtell Toormina Saints won through to the grand final with a semi-final victory the week prior. They easily accounted for the Port Macquarie Magpies – the side that will run out against Eddy and her side in the decider this weekend.

Over in the AFL Broken Hill Women’s competition, both Melisa Keenan and Eliza Cumming earned a week off after their South side won the minor premiership. In the pre-final match, Central knocked off North by 28 points in what was an upset given North had finished three wins ahead of Central and earned the home ground final. The pair will hope to wear premiership medallions by the end of the weekend if South can topple Central in the decider.

Weekly wrap: NSW/ACT state leagues

WITH many seasons coming to a close and finals in full swing, plenty of Under 18 NSW/ACT stars stood up to the occasion on the weekend across the various state leagues.

In the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, Jemima Wrigley featured in the Southern Power’s 23-point loss against the Auburn-Penrith Giants. Her side will face Angela Priftis’ Giants again in the semi-finals next week. In Division One, Brenna Tarrant was named best-on-ground for the East Coast Eagles for the second time this season, despite her team’s loss against the Wollongong Saints.

NSW/ACT representatives, Zoe Hurrell and Alice Mitchell featured in Willoughby Mosman’s 19-point win over the Southern Power in the Youth Girls Division One league. Meanwhile at North Narrabeen Reserve, fellow state representative, Emily Hurley featured in Kellyville Rouse Hill’s 10-point win over the Pittwater Tigers. In the last time the Magpies played against the Tigers, Hurley was named second best.

In the first semi-final of the AFL North Coast Women’s league, Ahlani Eddy’s Sawtell Toormina Saints claimed a 41-point win over the Port Macquarie Magpies. The Saints now go straight through to the grand final, with Port Macquarie and Coffs Breakers to play off for a spot on the big stage this week.

Over in the AFL Broken Hill league, Melisa Keenan kicked three of her side’s five goals in South Football Club’s 35-point win over West Football Club. Consequently, she was named third best with fellow state representative, Eliza Cumming going one better. Cumming was named second best on the day, which is the eighth time she has appeared in the best from 10 games.

Murray Bushrangers star, Eloise Ashley-Cooper continued her wonderful season for Finley, kicking three of her side’s five goals against Shepparton Notre. Ashley-Cooper was named also best afield for her side, which is the fourth time she has been named best-on-ground from nine games. The Cats’ 33-point win earns them a spot in the Grand Final this week against Shepparton United.

Several hours of travel “worth it” for sport fanatic, Julia Harvey

MURRAY Bushrangers midfielder Julia Harvey travels up to three hours to get to a football training session or game.

Tie this in with two nights of netball training, a night of football training, a netball and football game on the weekend, as well as basketball commitments in summer, and you have one dedicated athlete. Behind every dedicated athlete is a dedicated family, and Harvey’s family pushes through the struggles of travelling to help her enjoy playing the sports she loves.

“We’re used to it now,” Harvey said. “We’ve had three years of travelling around with all different sports but some weeks it can be pretty hard. You get to the end of the week at school and you’re absolutely exhausted but it’s all worth it.”

Harvey began playing with the Murray Bushrangers in the second year of the program, unaware of the opportunity that girls had to play footy at a representative level. She admits that being selected was something she never saw coming.

“I never thought it was even possible,” Harvey said. “I used to always see the boys do it and think this is so amazing why haven’t the girls got that? “When I got asked, I was like ‘oh my god there’s actually a girls version’. “I jumped at the opportunity, I thought it was amazing.”

The small 15 year-old arrived at the Bushrangers excited but also slightly intimidated, as she was playing with and against some of the best female footballers in the state. Now in her final year of the program, Harvey reflects on the club’s amazing progression from struggling with numbers to overflowing with them.

“I was probably one of the youngest there so it was pretty hard at the start,” she said. “We barely got a team together and we used to get beaten by a lot so it was pretty tough at the start but it’s just grown so much since then.”

The Bushrangers went undefeated in 2017 and won three games this year but for Harvey, the enjoyment of the program comes from making new friends.

“I made so many friends, this year especially, like Claudia McKimmie and Liv Barber,” the Murray midfielder said. “There’s so many girls here that I didn’t know until I played footy and I’ve created amazing friendships just from a couple of weeks playing footy. I reckon that’s probably the best thing to take away.”

Among three sports, Harvey is also in the midst of Year 12 studies, with an aim to fulfill her childhood ambition of being a physical education teacher. The 18 year-old says her sporting journey has helped her to balance her impressive array of commitments.

“I suppose where I’ve grown up playing so many sports, I’ve probably learnt to manage my time well, especially with school,” Harvey said. “I try to work hard at school and so I can have time outside of school to focus on sport.”

She now has another sport commitment to focus on, as she has been named in the Vic Country squad for the upcoming AFL Women’s Under 18 National Championships.

With a full pathway in place for females to achieve their footballing dreams, Harvey encourages all young girls to join a program like the Murray Bushrangers.

“Make the most of it,” she said. “It’s such an amazing program. Like I said, you make so many friends and even footy wise too, you learn so much. I’d just take everything in because my time’s already come to an end and it’s gone so quick.”