FOR many aspiring AFLW players, the start of the TAC Cup Girls season could not have come fast enough. But for those who have put their minds and bodies to the test over the summer will now be able to get stuck into actual matches with round one kicking off tomorrow. Each week we will preview the upcoming games and name some players you might like to keep an eye out for.
GEELONG FALCONS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS
Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 11am
Deakin University – Geelong
The Falcons come into round one with the hope of adding a TAC Cup Girls premiership to its already decorated club rooms. The boys side was successful in the TAC Cup final last year, and the girls have every chance to follow suit in 2018. Geelong has a whopping five AFLW Academy members (Lucy McEvoy, Denby Taylor, Olivia Purcell, Nina Morrison and Eliza Shannon), who will be huge role models for the younger players who are coming into the side for the first time. This week, keep an eye out for Sophie Walmsley, who is debuting for the Falcons after only starting her footballing career last year. Walmsley comes from an athletics background and has been touted as a great runner.
Sandringham finished with three wins last year and would be hoping to challenge the Falcons at Deakin University. Famous football relations, Alice Burke (daughter of former St Kilda player, Nathan Burke) and Abbie McKay (daughter of former Carlton player, Andrew McKay) will suit up in defence in the round one clash. Coming from an athletics background, Eleanor Brown has been given free reign to take charge in the midfield. The top-age player will play on the wing, where she will be able to utilise her impressive endurance, and perhaps cause some headaches for the Geelong midfield.
DANDENONG STINGRAYS v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 11am
Holm Park Recreation Reserve, Beaconsfield
Dandenong boasts a 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year selection in Jordyn Allen in its round one side. Allen is in the AFLW Academy and will play in the midfield in a bid to tackle the Knights’ strong line-up in the middle of the ground. Allen has been sent into the midfield after playing in defence during 2017, but she is not the only one who will change positions for round one. Courtney Jones kicked five goals in her four games last year, but will play across the half-back line, in order to combat the fierce Knights forwards, such as leader, Jess Fitzgerald.
The Northern Knights secured an impressive four wins last year, and have packed its midfield with leaders in the hope of securing a round-one win. Four of the Knights’ five leaders in Madeline Brancatisano (captain), Maggie Antypas (vice-captain), Britney Gutknecht, and Gabby Newton will be looking to cause havoc in the middle of the ground, and showcase their on-field leadership to the young girls in the group.
EASTERN RANGES v. GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS
Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 12:45pm
Holm Park Recreation Reserve, Beaconsfield
AFLW Academy member, Emerson Woods will be hoping to continue her excellent 2017 form in round one, when she suits up for the Eastern Ranges at Beaconsfield. She will be able to assist first-gamer Mikala Cann, who will play on-ball in the round one clash. Cann has not played football before, and will work well in tandem with Woods, using her elite athletic ability to burst away from the stoppages. Defender Georgia Macpherson is another one to watch coming off the half-back flank.
The Greater Western Victoria Rebels are well aware of the firepower in the Eastern Ranges outfit, and have included a host of stars in the round one side. Captain Lauren Butler will line up alongside draft prospects, Rene Caris and Sophie Van De Heuvel in the midfield, in what looks to be an intriguing battle at Beaconsfield. Caris and Van De Heuvel will go head-to-head with fellow AFLW Academy member, Emerson Woods, in a battle that could be the difference between a win or loss for either side. Top prospect Georgia Clarke will line-up at half-forward.
BENDIGO PIONEERS v. WESTERN JETS
Round 1 – Saturday, March 3, 1pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve, Bendigo
Bendigo would be hoping to kick off 2018 with a win, after the side only tasted victory once last season. Jordyn Joliffe is one player who could be the difference for the Pioneers. Joliffe will play at centre half-forward, where she will be looking to get her side on the scoreboard early. At the other end of the ground will be Sophie Kerridge (sister of Carlton midfielder, Sam Kerridge), who would be hopeful of cementing a spot in the backline for Bendigo,
The Western Jets have also named some famous football relations of its own for the round one clash at Epsom Huntly Reserve. Isabella Grant is the daughter of former Western Bulldogs player, Chris Grant, and will feature in the Jets’ forward-line. The bottom-age player is also in the AFLW Academy, so she will be one to keep an eye on throughout the season. We will also see sister of North Melbourne ruckman, Majak Daw, Mary Daw line up for the Jets in round one. Daw has been touted as a great runner, and will be looking to impress in the Jets’ first game of 2018.
GIPPSLAND POWER v. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Round 1 – Sunday, March 4, 11.30am
Moe Recreation Reserve, Moe
The match between the Power and the Chargers will be played as a curtain-raiser to the AFLW clash between Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs. Gippsland will be hoping that the coaches of the AFLW sides will be keeping an eye on exciting draft prospect, Tyla Hanks. The AFLW Academy player was named in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year, and will play a key role in the Power’s midfield. Up forward, former netballer and gymnast, Leyla Berry will be one to watch, while Jazz Ferguson is set to impress at centre half-back.
The Chargers will be hoping the trip to Moe will be a worthwhile one, as they aim to kick off 2018 with a win. Daughter of AFL Umpire Scott McLaren, Hannah McLaren is set to be an X-factor in the Oakleigh midfield, and will be joined by top-age player, Bridie Winbanks. Winbanks has been touted as a hard worker, and would be likely to dig in deep through the middle of the ground throughout the match for the Chargers.
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS v. CALDER CANNONS
Round 1 – Sunday, March 4, 1pm
JC Lowe Oval, Yarrawonga
In perhaps the most anticipated clash of the year, the Bushrangers and Cannons will be aiming to keep their winning streaks intact at JC Lowe Oval. Murray finished second on the ladder last year, and would be hoping to hand Calder its first loss in the TAC Cup Girls competition. AFLW Academy member, Rebecca Webster will play in the midfield in the round one clash, instead of playing in defence. Webster starred in the back-line last year and was named in the 2017 TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year as a result of that. In the forward-line, 2017 best and fairest, Millie Brown will suit up for Murray, and will be joined by under-16 national basketballer, Olivia Barber. The duo could certainly challenge the Calder defence on Sunday.
The Calder Cannon enjoyed a successful 2017, winning the TAC Cup Girls competition, and having three players drafted to AFLW sides (Chloe Molloy, Sarah Dargan and Monique Conti). But 2018 is a new year, and the Cannons face their biggest challenge yet in the TAC Cup Girls competition. To combat the Murray midfield, Calder has chosen AFLW Academy members, Madison Prespakis and Georgia Patrikios to go head-to-head with the Bushrangers in the middle of the ground. Calder has slotted its other AFLW Academy member, Molly Warburton into the back-line, making for a very formidable Cannons outfit.