Tag: nab league girls 2020

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Gippsland Power

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team, how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. In this edition we look at one of the sides to have only played the two games to-date, having been competitive in patches, but still losing both matches, Gippsland Power.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Geelong Falcons by 33 points
R2: Bye
R3: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 52 points

While the season has been cut short for the Power players, their first round loss to Geelong Falcons was brave outside the scoreboard. There were times where the Power was able to sustain the forward thrusts by the 2018 premiers, and have control themselves. A slow start against Sandringham cost the Power, but full credit to them winning the second half of that contest.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Matilda Van Berkel (16.0 disposals, 5.5 marks, 27.5 hitouts, 4.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 2.5 rebounds)

The talented tall was the best Power player across the two games, thrust into the ruck duties due to injuries to other players, and not only did the key position player tick the required boxes, but she thrived. Van Berkel dominated the hitouts with 27.5 per game, and worked hard around the ground to provide a target for her teammates to finish with 16.0 disposals, 5.5 marks, 4.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s and 2.5 rebounds. She was often the link in the chain between defence and offence and the fact the season ended early would be frustrating as she looked like one of the biggest improvers for her top-age season.

Megan Fitzsimon (19.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 6.0 tackles, 4.0 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds, 2 goals)

The sole Gippsland Power AFL Women’s National Academy member, Fitzsimon continued where she left off last season, and was okay in the first round before really taking control in Round 3. She was best afield for the Power in their loss to the Dragons, and in 2020 showed off her defensive pressure (six tackles per game) to go with his ball-winning abilities (19.5 disposals). Fitzsimon has also been able to get the ball forward with four inside 50s per game, as well as get on the end of a couple of majors with two goals to her name.

Grace McRae (15.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 6.5 tackles, 4.0 rebounds, 1 goal)

The tough inside midfielder thrives on the contested side of the game and showed signs in her middle-age last year before taking on a bigger role again in 2020. She averaged the 15.5 disposals and 6.5 tackles per game to kick off the season, and most importantly she works hard defensively to help out her teammates. In two games she averaged four rebounds a game, but also got forward to kick an important goal back in Round 1, which helped keep her team in the game.

Shanara Notman (12.5 disposals, 2.5 marks, 1.0 hitouts, 2.0 tackles, 1.0 inside 50s, 3.5 rebounds)

After missing out on being drafted last year, Notman returned to the side as an overager and did not miss a beat, impressing in the opening round and being a terrific interceptor in the defensive 50. Injury curtailed her 2019 season, but did not stop her having a late impact and making the Vic Country squad where she played up the other end as a key forward, who could also float through the ruck. The talented tall was back inside defensive 50 to start the NAB League Girls season this year, where she averaged the 12.5 disposals, 2.5 marks and 3.5 rebounds, starring in the opening round of the season.

Leyla Berry (10.0 disposals, 1.0 marks, 6.5 hitouts, 1.0 tackles, 2.5 rebounds)

Having not played since her middle-age year back in 2018, another overager who showed her experience in the early stages of the season was Berry who helped out with the ruck duties. She averaged the 6.5 hitouts, but was often stationed off half-back where she can find the ball and run with it down the field. She gets to the right positions and averaged the 10 disposals and 2.5 rebounds per game as she was the fifth Gippsland Power player to find plenty of the ball in the opening rounds.

Others who have stood out: Holly Booth, Sunday Brisbane, Alexei Guy-Toogood, Lily-Rose Williamson

The Power have a lot of talented youngsters that could fit into this group, some of which have played in previous years and others that are coming through the program and are at NAB League Girls level for the first time. Booth had good experience last year playing six games, but has already doubled her ball-winning ability, playing in the back half of the ground and able to run through the midfield. Brisbane and Guy-Toogood are both smalls who never back down and win the ball with the former running along a wing and the latter deep in defence. Given all three are middle-agers, expect to see them again in 2021 if the rest of the season does not commence. The fourth player to raise is bottom-ager Williamson who shone through the V/Line Cup and was only allowed the one game last year, but is one to keep an eye on in the coming years as a high-potential player through that midfield, who will often come off half-back and use her speed and skill to advantage.

2020 NAB League Girls team update: Bendigo Pioneers

WHILE the NAB League Girls competition is on break, we take a quick recap of each team and how the first three rounds have panned out for them and who has already stood up in the short time. We begin with Bendigo Pioneers who while they did not record a win in the opening three rounds, still had a number of standout players.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Western Jets by 22 points
R2: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 44 points
R3: lost to Calder Cannons by 43 points

Yet to register a win, the Pioneers have shown better signs than the scoreboard might suggest and were in games for portions of it, particularly in Round 1 against the Jets. They have had quite a few players who have provided a real edge to the team, but even from three games, have had injuries and unavailabilities impact.

FIVE STRONG STARTERS:

Annabel Strahan (16.7 disposals, 1.7 marks, 5.3 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s, 2.7 rebounds)

The co-captain has enjoyed a terrific start to the season thus far, playing predominantly through the midfield, but also getting back to help out the defence. In particular against Sandringham Dragons in Round 2, Strahan played deeper in defence to try and nullify the opposition’s scoring, before returning to the midfield in Round 3. She leads the team in disposals and has lifted her disposal averaged by six, as well as two extra tackles from last year.

Brooke Hards (16.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 7.0 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds)

The co-captain missed the Round 3 match against Calder Cannons, but showed in the first two rounds why she won the club best and fairest last year as a middle-ager. She attacks the ball and ball-carrier with fierce intent, and has built on her experience representing Vic Country (where she averaged six tackles there) to really step up to another level thus far. So far she is ranked second for average disposals and first for average tackles, laying seven per game after a whopping 9.9 last season.

Jemma Finning (15.0 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.7 tackles, 0.7 inside 50s, 3.3 rebounds)

Can play in multiple positions but has looked really handy coming off half-back and leads the team in rebounds. She also finds plenty of the ball, racking up a team-high 20 disposals in the last match against Calder Cannons, while maintaining a 3.3 rebounds per game average. Her numbers have lifted from last season where she played through the midfield, already amassing more rebounds than she did in 2019, while her disposal average, marks and tackles are also up in 2020.

Elizabeth Snell (11.5 disposals, 1.5 marks, 7.5 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 1.5 rebounds)

After missing Round 2, Snell returned to the team in Round 3 and was everywhere with her defensive pressure, laying a massive 10 tackles to go with 17 touches in the loss. She is able to balance between playing offensively and defensively after playing as a forward last season. She snagged five goals against Gippsland Power as a middle-ager last year, but has spent time up the field thus far, winning the ball through midfield and providing plenty of defensive pressure to the opposition.

Madeline Marks (8.3 disposals, 1.0 marks, 14.7 hitouts, 5.7 tackles)

The middle-age ruck has been a hard worker for the Pioneers this season, not only winning the taps (14.7 per game), but also getting the ball at ground level and providing an option in transition. She stands at 178cm and is able to lay some big tackles on opposition players who try to shark her taps, and is one of the big improvers this season after getting a taste of it last season, where she played three games as a bottom-ager.

Others who have stood out: Rachael Stubbings, Dakota Villiva, Tara Slender and Maeve Tupper

The Pioneers have had a good group of players who have stepped up at times and played multiple team roles across the ground. Stubbings has been a natural ball winner in the back half, Villiva has provided a target up forward, Tupper has provided a presence in midfield and Slender has plenty of upside as a rebounder.

Knights remain undefeated with 25-point win over Falcons

THE Northern Knights flexed their muscles in a see-sawing affair at RMIT University claiming a 25-point win over the Geelong Falcons on Saturday, 5.8 (38) to 1.7 (13) to remain undefeated since their 2018 Grand Final loss to the Falcons.  For the first half it looked as if it was going to be an even matchup with every score being kicked to the left side of the field in the first three quarters. But Northern was too good in the end for Geelong, having more potent options up forward in the form of Alyssa Bannan who was great for a second week in a row, kicking two goals against the Falcons.

Northern Knights kicked a goal in the first and last minute of the opening quarter handing them a 16-point lead at quarter time. Northern Knights’ Grace Wake and Tarrah Delgado were invincible down back, stopping numerous Falcons forward attacks, being a major reason why they kept the Falcons scoreless in the first term. The second term was then owned by the Falcons, they dominated the possession and had five scoring shots to zero, though they were only able to register one goal and three behinds in a wasted opportunity to fly past the Knights heading into the main break. The Falcons’ only goal of the game was scored through a goal line soccer goal by Ingrid Houtsma early in the term.

The third term was when the Knights’ class started rising above, with Abigail Bennett and Ellie McKenzie both starring in the midfield and Bannan being dominant up forward, slotting her second along with Michaela Molenberg getting on the scoreboard. In the fourth term the Northern Knights managed to maintain their lead without conceding a goal for the second consecutive quarter. The sole goal of the quarter came due to some more Bannan brilliance with a great mark while also having enough composure to hit up Brooke Plummer in the pocket for a routine shot on goal. McKenzie amassed plenty of the ball in the final term and was able to easily dispose of opponents at will. Geelong’s Taiya Morrow had her work cut out for her down back with the sheer number of Knights forward entries, although she was well up to the task with numerous intercept marks and release kicks being a shining light late for the Falcons. 

Among the Knights’ best down back was Delgado (14 disposals, five rebounds, four marks) who took numerous intercept marks and had the ball on a string in the second term. She has an effective kick for a key position player and is trusted with taking the kick-ins for the Knights. Wake (13 disposals, five tackles, two rebounds) was also immense down back with her tackling pressure causing headaches for the Geelong forwards, whilst up the other end, Geelong’s Annie Lee had a game-high seven rebounds to go with 18 disposals and five marks. Bennett (12 tackles, 10 touches), McKenzie (17 disposals, five marks) and Ashleigh Snow (18 disposals, four inside 50s) were all dominant in the midfield for the Knights. They all accumulated plenty of the ball while also being a class above the Falcons midfield. The main focal point for the Knights up forward was Bannan who was a threat on the ground and in the air, kicking two goals and collecting 14 touches. Geelong’s Morrow was superb down back for the Falcons propelling attacks from defence for Geelong, while Carly Remmos (16 disposals, eight tackles) worked tirelessly all day in the midfield. Laura Gardiner hit the 30-disposal mark for the second week in a row, collecting  31 touches to go with her nine tackles and five inside 50s, while Darcy Moloney (25 disposals, two marks and two inside 50s) put in a tough effort in a match with little return.

Next week the Northern Knights will play at RMIT University once again next Saturday, this time hosting the Dandenong Stingrays at 11am. Geelong’s next game is in a fortnight’s time against the Bendigo Pioneers at Deakin University at 1:30pm. 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.4 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.8 (38)
GEELONG FALCONS 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 1.7 (13)

GOALS

Northern: A. Bannan 2, B. Plummer, T. Mills, M. Molenberg.
Geelong: I. Houtsma.

BEST

Northern: E. McKenzie, A. Bannan, T. Delgado, A. Lee, G. Wake
Geelong: L. Gardiner, A. Lee, D. Moloney, C. Remmos, T. Morrow

DC Medal:

5: Ellie McKenzie (NK)
4: Alyssa Bannan (NK)
3: Laura Gardiner (GF)
2: Tarrah Delgado (NK)
1: Annie Lee (GF)

Dandenong fires to second win with victory over Calder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

DC MEDAL

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

NAB League Girls preview: Round 2 – Huge clashes book-end Super Saturday

A HUGE Super Saturday takes place in the NAB League Girls competition this weekend with five games across three venues – two double-headers – including a couple of blockbusters book-ending the round and a clash between two winless sides. Tasmania Devils also make their debut in the league and host Oakleigh Chargers, whilst Western Jets could record back-to-back wins and keep in touch with the top couple of sides.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS v. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday, March 7, 11:30am
RMIT University Bundoora

The opening game of the round pits the 2018 grand finalists against each other, with Northern Knights going one step further last year, whilst the Geelong Falcons fell in the semi-finals stage. In Round 1, the Knights held off a determined Calder Cannons outfit at this venue by a goal, whilst in the game immediate after, Geelong Falcons ran out 33-point victors over Gippsland Power. Both these teams have stars across the park and were forced to play very different gamestyles in Round 1. The Knights were impressive across the board in the way they were able to defend and then move the ball down the field to set up their forwards such as Alyssa Bannan (five goals). Led by co-captains Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald in midfield, the Knights were able to use a nice blend of power and speed to get the ball inside 50, whilst the underrated Maeve Chaplin was tipped to have a big game by Fitzgerald in the Final Siren podcast this week. Competing against them in the midfield is an equally damaging midfield, with AFL Women’s National Academy members Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney making the matchups something to behold onball. Gardiner racked up 38 touches and had 14 tackles in Round 1 to be the Draft Central Player of the Week, whilst Moloney (28 disposals, six tackles) and Poppy Schaap (24 disposals, six tackles) also brought the heat. What was most impressive about the way the Falcons went about it was the fact they racked up a whopping 271 disposals, but also laid 94 tackles with their defensive pressure amongst the best in the league. They could have been more effective in front of goal, which is an area to build on, and something they cannot afford to suffer from in this clash against arguably the benchmark team this season. Expect this match to be another close one with both sides missing players from their encounters over the past couple of seasons, but the Knights deserve favouritism at home.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS v. BENDIGO PIONEERS
Saturday, March 7, 12pm.
RAMS Arena

From two sides looking to extend their strong starts to the season, we head to Craigieburn where two teams go head-to-head in a bid to get off the mark in season 2020. Sandringham Dragons will be ruing missed opportunities against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels where they arguably had plenty more chances to kick a big score, but were let down close to goal. Their defensive pressure was a highlight however and is something that will be a trademark of this game. Both sides are renowned tacklers, and whilst Sandringham can play a possession style of game as well, the Dragons are more than happy to get their hands dirty in pursuit of a win. The Pioneers are not a high possession style team but look to be efficient with ball-in-hand, running the ball down in transition and getting it inside 50 as effective as possible. An area the Pioneers can get on top in this clash is in the ruck, with the Dragons having just two hitouts last week against the number one ruck in the competition, Maggie Caris. They still won their fair share of clearances though, and led by Eliza McNamara (20 disposals, eight tackles and six inside 50s) and Winnie Laing (18 disposals, five tackles and five inside 50s), were able to pump the ball inside 50 enough to suggest that if they do that consistently enough and improve their finishing ability then the results will come. The Pioneers had co-captain Brooke Hards waste no time influencing the contest off the back of her middle-age best and fairest year, winning 18 disposals and laying seven tackles. With Elizabeth Snell out of the side, the Pioneers will look to other experience around the ground, with co-captain Annabel Strahan and Jemma Finning‘s work out of the back 50 as a way of getting control of the ball. The two centre-half backs in Sarah Hartwig and Tara Slender are some of the best in their age groups and the teams cannot afford to put it down their throat too often or the ball will come straight back out. Sandringham should be favourites in this game given the amount of chances they can generate, but the Dragons must be clean around goal.

TASMANIA DEVILS v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday, March 7, 12.30pm
North Hobart Oval

Crossing the Bass Strait to the Apple Isle, Tasmania Devils enter the NAB League competition for the first time, taking on a red-hot Oakleigh Chargers. Whilst the Devils sat out Round 1 watching on, they would have been impressed by what they witnessed at Wangaratta when the Chargers ran wild in a 50-point win over Murray Bushrangers. The Chargers have no problem possessing the ball, and they had a massive 40 inside 50s, giving their forwards a multitude of chances inside 50. For Round 2 the Chargers have lost some of their Round 1 firepower, with Amelia James and Alice O’Loughlin both out of the side after combining for five goals between themselves. The captain Mimi Hill led from the front during the Chargers’ win, racking up 29 disposals and five inside 50s, while vice-captain Joanna Lin had 17 disposals and six inside 50s. Eliza James showed plenty of talent during the match with an impressive 18 disposals, four marks, five tackles and match-high seven inside 50s. For the Devils, it is hard to judge just where they sit in terms of the competition just yet, with plenty of developing youngsters coming through the ranks. Amy Prokopiec is the one to keep an eye out for with the middle-age defender already having experience in the NAB League Girls after playing in the Devils’ few games last season. Overager, Camilla Taylor provides height at 180cm and will look to dominate the ruck battle with her extra experience, whilst drifting forward to provide a target inside 50 for the Devils midfielders to aim at. Another overager sure to provide that added experience is Tahlia Bortignon with the 19-year-old named on a wing for this match. You would be a brave person to tip against Oakleigh given the Chargers’ Round 1 match, but this game will be more about seeing a host of new young stars living out their dreams of playing in an elite youth competition by the Devils making their debut in the competition.

WESTERN JETS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday, March 7, 1.15pm
RMIT University Bundoora

Following on from the Knights-Falcons clash at Bundoora is the battle between Western Jets and Murray Bushrangers. In Round 1, the Jets triumphed for the first time in their history when they toppled Bendigo Pioneers at Queen Elizabeth Oval by 22 points. The next day, Murray succumbed to a rampaging Oakleigh side by 50 points. Though one positive that could come out of that game from a scoreboard perspective was the fact that after conceding seven consecutive goals, the home team booted the last three goals of the match to avoid it being a potentially worse scoreline. Heading into this match minus their top key forward in Olivia Barber (concussion), the Bushrangers will need to utilise their smalls to hit the scoreboard and cause havoc for a Western defence that is well drilled based on the first round. The Jets were able to balance their ball use from the back 50 to the attacking 50 with some nice running ability, and did well around the stoppages despite conceding height in the ruck and thus the hitouts. Both teams favour a kick-first gamestyle which means we could potentially witness plenty of end-to-end football in this game. Leading the way last week for the Jets were bottom-agers, Montana Ham (19 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s and three rebounds) and Charlotte Baskaran (19 disposals, seven tackles, four inside 50s and five rebounds), while new top-ager Amelia Velardo looked impressive with her athletic ability on her way to 16 disposals and three inside 50s, as well as four hitouts going up against taller opponents. With Isabelle Pritchard playing across all thirds of the ground, she is the star prospect for the 2020 group at Western and will be hard to combat in the middle. The Bushrangers also have some AFL Women’s Academy members with top-ager Abby Favell working through the midfield and Ally Morphett switching between ruck and forward. Mindy Quade will play an important role down in defence, whilst Mikayla Jones and Zali Spencer were another couple of players who stood up in defeat last round. Western brings winning form into this match and would be a good chance to go 2-0, though the Bushrangers always find something special.

CALDER CANNONS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS
Saturday, March 7, 1.45pm
RAMS Arena

The final game of the round is another huge clash between two sides with good form. Calder Cannons fell a goal short of victory against Northern in the first round of action, and return to their homeground, RAMS Arena to take on a Dandenong Stingrays side that was the surprise packet of Round 1. It was not necessarily the fact that the Stingrays won that was the surprise, but the fact that they did it so convincingly in the end – 50 points – against an Eastern Ranges side with plenty of talent. Stingrays coach, Dave Carden said post-game that it was important the club looked to improve from the Round 1 performance in terms of their stoppage position, but he was impressed with their clean hands and ball movement – something that will be crucial if they are to cause an upset against last year’s grand finalists. The Cannons midfield is well established, with middle-ager Georgie Prespakis and fellow 2003-born Emelia Yessir assisting captain, Laura Cocomello in the middle. Jessica Zakkour was the Cannons’ best last round with two goals from 18 touches and eight tackles, whilst the key defensive combination of Tamsin Crook and Kasey Lennox one of the best in the competition. It will also be important to combat the Stingrays’ talls with Georgia Grimmer out of this match, but Serene Vudiniabola (two goals in Round 1) able to crunch packs and bring the ball to ground for the likes of Ashleigh Richards (two goals) and Jaide Anthony (one). Tyanna Smith is the midfielder to watch on the Stingrays’ side, dominating last week and along with Abbey Jordan, provides some incredible running power out of that onball group. The Cannons have some targets inside 50 themselves with Charlotte Clayton (three goals) and Freda Puruntatameri (one) both looking dangerous last week. These teams are very evenly matched based on the first round statistics with no more than six differential between any of the major stats heading into the Round 2 clash. This is a buckle-up and get ready game because both these teams will take it right up to the other making it a real spectacle for the onlookers.

Falcons down Power in strong showing

IN a relatively one-sided affair, Geelong Falcons defeated Gippsland Power by 33 points at RMIT Bundoora in the first round of the NAB League Girls competition. Though inaccuracy plagued the Falcons at times who struggled to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal with 10 behinds, credit must be given to the Power’s defence, for the most part holding up across three quarters. Seven scoring shots to none in the final term extended the winning margin out to 33, but it was a strong hitout for both teams this early in the season.

It did not take long for Geelong to get on the board, and although it was a point at the hands of Renee Tierney it helped to set in motion what was to come – a barrage of scoring opportunities. Poppy Schaap kicked off her 2020 campaign in style with the opening goal for the Falcons and while the Falcons seemed to control the flow of play, over-ager Shanara Notman was a calming influence down back. Notman was everywhere in the first 15 minutes of the game popping up here there and everywhere to stop any forward forays and using her football nous to try and propel the ball back down the field. Despite her best efforts, Notman could not contain the Falcons forwards, with Zoe Garth bobbing up for her first major thanks to her ability to get out the back and bang one through the middle helping to extend Geelong’s lead.

The Power failed to register a score in the opening half, but strong efforts from the likes of Megan Fitzsimon and Matilda Van Berkel did not fall by the wayside. Fitzsimon was a real workhorse across the ground winning plenty of the footy and using her tackling ability to disrupt the flow of Geelong. Although the Falcons had their chances in front of goal they were unable to capitalise and punish their opposition with the likes of Elizabeth Dowling showing her skill inside 50 bringing down a big mark but just missing. Dowling was not afraid to put her body on the line going in hard to rip the ball out of congestion and plough it forward. With points aplenty, Carly Remmos made her set shot count, converting an important goal to add to the Falcons’ tally. Laura Gardiner continued to find her groove with her high intensity out of the middle, hunt for the footy and clean hands all on display. She was never far from the pack, constantly lurking around the footy and using it effectively while her read out of the ruck was second to none getting on the move and banging it forward credit to her skill and general smarts.

With pride on the line, the Power came out with a different intensity and hunger for the footy shutting down any easy ball movement by the Falcons and instead looking to change the course of the game. Only three goals down, Gippsland hit the scoreboard thanks to a big goal from Grace McRae, with players running from everywhere to join in on the celebration. The Power seemed to dominate the play in the third holding the ball inside their attacking 50 and searching for opportunities to create more chances. Leyla Berry was running hot in the third working hard at the contest and using her hands to flick the ball out to teammates. Darcy Moloney continued her merry way for the Falcons throwing her weight around and using her quick hands in tight to dish off to teammates in space. Although Geelong failed to hit the scoreboard throughout the third, the work they did defensively to only limit their opponent to a goal was impressive with bottom ager Ashleigh Van Loon leading from the front with her physicality and desperation with 10 tackles for the match. Mia Van Dyke also had a strong quarter for the Falcons highlighting her clean hands with a couple of marks.

Thanks to a relatively slow third term the Falcons turned it on in the fourth to nail two goals and ultimately seal the deal against a trying Gippsland side. Ingrid Houtsma was the first to add six points to the Falcons total in the final term and while she did not find a heap of the footy she struck it nicely. Gardiner capped off a stellar performance in the last term with a big goal to end the stream of points and well and truly romp the win home for the Falcons. She starred from the opening minute of the game winning a heap of the footy and showcasing her versatility in terms of disposals with an even split of 19 kicks and 19 handballs to finish with a whopping 38 touches. It was a stats filling outing for Gardiner who also showcased her physicality laying 14 tackles and recording five inside 50s. Schaap finished with 1.2 in front of goal along with 24 touches while Moloney recorded 28 disposals. Top performers from Gippsland included Fitzsimon with 16 touches, six tackles and four inside 50s with Berry and McRae collecting 14 possessions apiece.

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 3.5 | 3.5 | 5.10 (40)
GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0,0 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS:

Geelong: P. Schaap, Z. Garth, C. Remmos, I. Houtsma, L. Gardiner.
Gippsland: G. McRae.

BEST:

Geelong: L. Gardiner, D. Moloney, P. Schaap, E. Dowling, M. Van Dyke
Gippsland: M. Van Berkel, S. Notman, G. McRae, M. Fitzsimon, A. Guy-Toogood

DC Medal:

5 – Laura Gardiner (GF)
4 – Darcy Moloney (GF)
3 – Poppy Schaap (GF)
2 – Matilda Van Berkel (GP)
1 – Shanara Notman (GP)

Bushrangers buoyant on improved depth and internal growth

MURRAY Bushrangers have been able to reduce the player-to-coach ratio ahead of the 2020 season thanks to the determination of their NAB League Girls playing group, and additional development coaches. Ahead of the 2020 season, Female Talent Manager Briana Cossar said she was excited about a number of players coming through the program – not just for top-age talent, but middle-age and bottom-age talent as well.

The girls’ enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to the program has resulted in a solid pre-season,” Cossar said. “They’ve really come together as one unit which is a testament to their characters and with a revamped coaching group, which has included additional staff, the player-to-coach ratio has been reduced, playing a pivotal role in increased rate of development compared to last season which we see as vital for continued development and growth of the program. “We’ve got a lot more depth and some really good 14, 15 and 16-year-old players coming through which will be exciting to see their development over the next few years. 

The Bushrangers have three players in the 2020 AFL Women’s National Academy, with top-age talents Abby Favell and Olivia Barber, as well as bottom-age tall, Ally Morphett. Favell starred as a natural ball winner for the Bushrangers, NSW-ACT Rams and the Eastern Allies last season, looking sharp as an outside runner who stands up in big moments.

“Abby has the ability to break the lines and her run and carry are elite,” Cossar said. “Her leadership qualities are second to none.”

Barber had a breakout National AFL Women’s Under-18 carnival after a solid season in the NAB League Girls as a key forward who could also play ruck. The then middle-ager was able to create all sorts of headaches for defenders, not just with her ability to clunk grabs overhead, but her ground work and recovery were also impressive on the Gold Coast.

“Olivia is a tall target up forward and a strong overhead mark,” Cossar said. “She’s got a great attack on the football and has an ability to create separation using her strength.”

Morphett is still a year away from being draft-eligible, with the 186cm player likely to predominantly play ruck, though she could also rotate forward and provide a marking presence.

“Ally plays mainly ruck, but can play key position forward,” Cossar said. “She has a great kicking technique and is very good overhead.”

Other players to watch from a top-age perspective include Sam Pritchard – who according to Cossar is “training the house down” – and smart small, Kate Adams. Pritchard recorded an impressive sub-eight minute 2km time trial and plays as a small forward who has a nice blend of pace and endurance. Among her other strengths are her elite kicking ability and clean hands. Adams has been a player who has impressed over the past couple of seasons coming through the Bushrangers’ program, playing in a number of roles, but similarly is a silky small who has natural footballing ability. Cossar said Adams’ reading of the play, awareness and decision making are engrained, while she is a great on and off-field leader.

Anyone who watched the Under 16s all-Victorian clash last year would have remembered Keely Skepper who starred in that match and while she is a bottom-age talent, the rebounding defender is one to keep in mind for the future. “She is a natural footballer in every aspect of the game,” Cossar said, describing her left foot as “elite” and has a great ability to find the ball and rebound it out of the back half. Other middle and bottom-age talents to watch for in 2020 include Aurora Smith – who has the ability to break the game open with her run and carry, credit her speed – India Lehman who Cossar describes as a natural footballer who is also a great on-field leader, bringing others into the game, and Mindy Quade who has great positioning in one-on-one contests and takes the game on at every opportunity.

While the core base of talent is there, Murray also has a couple of players who have been building nicely over the off-season and have been touted by Cossar as ones to watch.

Lily Sharp and Mikayla Jones are both looking to take their games to the next level,” she said. “Their fitness and fundamental skill efficiency have improved, and both have a good game sense.”

Murray takes on both the Bendigo Pioneers (Saturday, February 8) and Calder Cannons (Saturday, February 15) at JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga. Cossar said in 2020, the team just want to play as naturally as they could.

“We want to be instinctive, creative and take the game on at every opportunity, and be competitive for four quarters,” she said.

The Bushrangers host Oakleigh Chargers in the opening round of the season on March 1 at 1pm, before travelling to Bundoora for a clash against Western Jets as part of a NAB League Girls double header on March 7 at 1.15pm.

Young Power side set to spark in 2020

GIPPSLAND Power’s “really young” group from 2019 has a year of experience under its belt, with plenty of exciting players coming through the ranks, Female Talent Coordinator Chelsea Caple is excited about what 2020 will bring from a development standpoint. The Power might have only recorded the one win – over the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels – in 2019, but the squad which contained a plethora of bottom-age and even 16-year-old talent learned some valuable lessons that will hold them in good stead for the upcoming season.

I think with the experience that all of our bottom ages and our Under 16s were exposed to last year, we had Under 16s playing every single game and they got so nervous and I think now they’ve had that season under their belt, it was a tough season,” Caple said. “They can learn from that and understand that they’ve got now that experience so they can go out and actually show our younger ones how to do it. “

Like any organisation, the Power had tested what training methods got the most out of the players, and once they found the right mix, they were able to excel and build on the momentum over the pre-season. Caple said both the boys and girls testing as one group really pushed every member of the squad.

“We’ve been really excited (with) how our preseason has gone,” Caple said. “We’ve changed it again. “So last season the girls trained twice a week, we brought them in still on a Tuesday night and then they trained with the boys on a Friday. “We though that intensity worked really well; we weren’t able to bring that across to the training once the girls were just by themselves so what we ended up doing is we’re revisiting the program and they actually trained three nights a week. “So Monday, Wednesday, Friday in four different satellites, alongside the boys, integrated within their program so they did their warmup and their hands together, and I think the benefit that we’ve seen from a club perspective but also from fitness testing it was definitely the best decision.”

Gippsland has one AFL Women’s National Academy member in Megan Fitzsimon, who has spent a week with North Melbourne and travelled to Darwin for the Academy’s pre-season training camp. Caple said on-field leadership through through those programs will improve even more, and noted another surprise packet to keep an eye on was Phillip Island’s Grace McRae who has developed at an impressive rate and worked hard to improve her game. McRae initially approached the Power crossing from netball and once she worked out what she had to do switching the round ball for the oblong one, caught the eye and has not rested on her laurels, training with her local boy’s team simultaneously with the Power.

The Power have opted to bring back three 19-year-olds in 2020, with Caple identifying a “two-year gap” with plenty of talent filtering through the bottom-agers, and experience crucial in such a young side.

Shanara Notman‘s coming back on to our list after playing some games with Casey VFL; Leyla Berry, who played with us two years ago, alongside Tyla Hanks had a year off and decided to come back,” Caple said. “And Charlize Bird, so Charlize was one of our top ages last year who had a shoulder reconstruction and just probably didn’t get the most out of her development and as many opportunities as we would have liked her so we’ve been able to bring her back. “We think those three will add a lot of maturity to our program, and hopefully be able to guide the younger girls as well to maintain the standards that we have.”

Notman played in defence for Gippsland last season, returning late in the year after injury saw her miss most of the season. A starring role rebounding off half-back against Calder Cannons in the final round caught the eye and the former basketballer was invited to represent Vic Country at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. There, she played as a forward and showed she could fulfil multiple roles on the field, something that gives the Power a good problem to have.

“I think she’ll (Notman) probably mix both (defence and forward),” Caple said. “I know Scott (Armour, Gippsland Power coach) loved her on the half-back line just because that ability for her to read the play from her basketball background is phenomenal. “But then at the same time we want to be able to talk to VFLW and AFLW clubs and see where they want to see her as well. “We think this is a great opportunity for her to maybe show what she didn’t get to last year being injured but she’s also new to the game as well. “So there’s a lot of learning and education that goes with that. “We’re doing a lot of work with Casey and Melbourne now to make sure that she’s in the right environment and she’s supported from a transition perspective as well.”

While the top-agers will gain much of the focus, there are a couple of Under 16s talents that Caple said will feature throughout the season having very different paths in their footballer journey.

“We’re really excited to have Xavier Duursma‘s little sister Yazzie (Yasmin) Duursma join the squad for the first time, so she’s an ’04 born so under 16,” Caple said. “She is an elite netballer, so she’s coming across, I think she will try and juggle the two at the moment. “But we’re really excited and from what we’ve seen from her testing she’ll make the transition perfectly fine. So that’s really exciting to see.”

Lily-Rose Williamson has won the best on ground in the V-Line for the last three years  and she’s still Under 16,” Caple said. “So she’ll get some more opportunities this year in the Under 18s setting. “We’re really excited about a lot of new ones that we’ve brought into the program that it’ll be their first year in the Under 18 system.”

As for the 2020 focus, it was much the same as every year – development over success. Caple said by developing players to their full potential, it gives them the best opportunity to play at the best level they possibly can, and improving from week to week, rather than focusing on the scoreboard which is what makes the NAB League Girls competition important for the female footballing pathways.

“That measure of success for us is much better than that win to loss ratio, which can be really demoralising at times,” she said. “I think Scott Armour and the rest of the team produced that environment and that culture where the girls can still walk off the field and know that they had fantastic intensity, fantastic pressure. “And so they had little wins in certain elements of the game. “So no doubt Scott will stick to that path. “Hopefully, I can see the girls being competitive, but obviously everyone’s lists are getting bigger and better. “I talked to the other regions and their 04’s are outstanding as well. “So it’ll be a matter of just giving them everything that we’ve got and the best development opportunities for them as people and as footballers.”