Tag: neve crowley

Youth set to take next step in VFL Women’s competition

TWELVE players who received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but missed out on being picked up by clubs will test themselves in the new-look Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition starting this weekend. Of the 12 players, five of them remain on NAB League lists as top-agers, whilst the others are purely focused on their VFL Women’s commitments in 2021.

Carlton have a trio of players who received Draft Combine invites last year, in Gippsland Power duo Nikia Webber and Shanara Notman, and Oakleigh Chargers defender Amber Micallef. Webber and Notman have received a couple of Combine invites in the past, with the key position talents strong overhead and both having represented Vic Country in the past. Notman played Round 1 with the Power, but is also a skilled basketballer. Micallef stepped up in 2020 to provide great outside run albeit in only the two games she was able to play, becoming a crucial cog in the Chargers’ rebound.

The other team with multiple 2020 AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites is Southern Saints, with Dandenong Stingrays teammates Zoe Hill and Abbey Jordan both in the red, white and black for season 2021. The duo are still on the Stingrays’ NAB League Girls lists and made a strong start to the season last round, with Hill a Vic Country Under 18s key position defender at bottom-age level, and Jordan a speedy winger who has been moved inside to increase her versatility this year.

Another player still on a NAB League list but is testing herself at state league level is Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae who will suit up for Hawthorn in 2021. The hardnut inside midfielder had a massive Round 1 game for the Power, but has moved closer to the city for work this year and will look to join the likes of form Power player, Maddi Shaw at the brown and gold.

Meanwhile Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher will head to Collingwood, with the 2020 Eastern Ranges captain already having an impact in her two games at NAB League level this season. A fierce onballer, Meagher will have no troubles stepping up to the level and will be one to watch through the onball brigade at the Pies.

Another inside midfielder and former NAB League captain stepping up to the VFL Women’s in 2021 is Brooke Hards who will play with the Western Bulldogs this season. The Bendigo Pioneers co-captain last year and Vic Country Under 18s representative as a bottom-ager two seasons ago will look to bring a similar fierce attack to the Bulldogs midfield as another country player who has moved closer to the city for studies.

Calder Cannons’ Alana Barba will once again head to Essendon after not being able to get out on the park last season, but still earning a Draft Combine invitation as a 19-year-old. A tackling machine like Hards, Barba has grown through the Vic Metro program and will team up alongside a heap of current Calder Cannons players who will don the red and black this year. She is joined at the Bombers by Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning who was impressive in a new role at half-back last season, and has been back at the Pios thus far in 2021.

Having quite the pathway, Courteney Bromage has returned to Victoria after a stint in Queensland last year, with the ex-Carlton talent trying out at Port Melbourne. She will provide plenty of experience for the league’s newest side as they look to have an impact from the get-go.

Speaking of travelling, there will be a sister act at North Melbourne, with Jayde Hamilton the other Draft Combine invite from last year. Representing Eastern Allies as a bottom-ager in 2019, the inside midfielder will join sister and ex-Gold Coast Suns tall Alexia Hamilton at the Roos in 2021.

There are also plenty of current NAB League Girls who have been named on various VFL Women’s lists for the upcoming season. Essendon VFL Women’s have been flushed with an array of Calder talents, including AFL Women’s Academy members Georgie Prespakis and Tahlia Gillard, as well as the likes of Kasey Lennox, Neve Crowley, Grace Dicker, Emelia Yassir and Zali Friswell. The Bombers also have recruited Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell. Another Calder talent in Peppa Poultney has opted to stick with her junior club and follow into Darebin Falcons’ VFL Women’s program.

Geelong has unsurprisingly recruited a number of Falcons to its list, with Renee Tierney already lightning up the NAB League Girls with a couple of big outings in the opening two matches. Defender Annie Lee and midfielder Tess Craven are also among the Falcons best performed in the opening couple of games and could easily have an impact at state league level. They are joined by Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Chloe Leonard who has also been in great form.

Eastern Ranges Isabelle Khoury, Matilda Hardy and Jess Grace have all signed on to Hawthorn’s VFL Women’s list, whilst Darwin Buffettes talent and former Central Allies representative Dominique Carbone has also decided to head to the Hawks this season. A former and current Murray Bushrangers duo of Kate Adams and Sophie Locke will run out for Port Melbourne, while Geelong Falcons’ Zoe Garth will test herself at Williamstown.

Other current NAB League Girls players on lists include Oakleigh Chargers’ Kalarni Kearns who will head to Collingwood, and Western Jets’ Nikita Wright will suit up for the Western Bulldogs. One name who might fly under the radar but has switched states is Collingwood’s Matilda Zander who has finally made her way to the Pies from Norwood after attempting to do so last year before the full state lockdown went into place.

With plenty of young talent on show in the VFL Women’s competition, there is plenty to get excited about across the league, and it all kicks off on Saturday.

2021 NAB League Girls: Round 3 wrap – Falcons, Ranges and Chargers go two from two

ROUND 3 of the 2021 NAB League Girls season saw the Geelong Falcons, Eastern Ranges, and Oakleigh Chargers go two-from-two in this year’s competition, firming as early frontrunners. Players hit the ground running after a week away due to the postponement of Round 2, though four of the six fixtures were decided by over six goals. We take you through all the weekend’s action from what was an exciting return to elite pathways football.

Calder Cannons vs. Oakleigh Chargers

By: Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers came out on top in a battle of premiership contenders, kicking away from the Calder Cannons during an inspired final term to salute by 16 points. The wind favoured Calder in the fourth quarter, who looked primed to ride out a tense win as scores were tied at three quarter time, but the Chargers took full toll with an irresistible surge to stamp themselves as a bonafide flag threat. Now 2-0, they sit second and boast a number of draftable prospects currently taking the league by storm.

Outside midfielder Stella Reid was crucial in helping Oakleigh establish an early foothold, booting two goals in the first half before finishing as the game’s leading ball winner. Charlie Rowbottom, Amanda Ling, and Eliza James contributed some strong work at the stoppages, with the latter also snagging a crucial late major. Brooke Vickers was also terrific off half-back and Ameile Smith competed well as a slightly undersized ruck/key forward.

The midfield trio of Georgie Prespakis, Emelia Yassir, and Zali Friswell was also impactful for Calder, as they all lifted at important times to give the Cannons a fighting chance. Charlotte Clayton booted two opportunistic goals while stationed deep inside 50 as Tahlia Gillard also proved dangerous when rotated from the ruck, while Kasey Lennox tried hard alongside Neve Crowley in defence and Olivia Manfre put her hand up in the loss.

The Cannons will look to reload and fire again when they take on the Bendigo Pioneers in a tough road trip, while Oakleigh is booked for a meeting with Tasmania on the Apple Isle in Round 4.

CALDER CANNONS 0.0 | 3.2 | 4.2 | 4.4 (28)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.3 | 2.3 | 3.8 | 6.8 (44)
 

GOALS:

Calder: C. Clayton 2, Z. Friswell, O. Manfre
Oakleigh: S. Reid 2, E. James, A. Smith, H. Kenealy, B. Vickers

DC BEST:

Calder: G. Prespakis, E. Yassir, Z. Friswell, K. Lennox, T. Gillard, O. Manfre
Oakleigh: S. Reid, C. Rowbottom, B. Vickers, A. Ling, E. James, A. Smith

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)
4 – Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
3 – Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
2 – Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons)
1 – Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers)

Oakleigh forward Taylah Morton speaks to Draft Central’s Michael Alvaro post-match:

 

Bendigo Pioneers vs. Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Two Round 1 winners headed north up to Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve to face off in warm conditions, which organisers allowed for by moving the game half an hour earlier to 10am. It was the visitors who raced off to a dominant start through Renee Tierney and Zoe Garth (two goals), and never really looked back. The Pioneers had a good second quarter thanks to goals from Jemma Finning and Charli Dorrity, but the Falcons maintained control in the second half, booting four goals to zero to run out comfortable 50-point winners on the road.

Tierney was a huge turning point for the Falcons with her four goals and setting up another few, while defenders Annie Lee and Elizabeth Dowling were again consistent. Through the midifield Tess Craven and Poppy Schaap did the bulk of the heavy lifting in a team effort, while Gabbi Featherston had multiple shots on goal and looked damaging every time she went near it. For the Pioneers, future stars in Tegan Williams and Lila Keck really stood out, while Elizabeth Snell and Jayda Richardson were again consistent across the match roaming hard and covering ground.

BENDIGO PIONEERS 0.0 | 2.1 | 2.3 | 2.4 (16)
GEELONG FALCONS 3.1 | 6.3 | 9.4 | 10.6 (66)

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Finning, C. Dorrity
Geelong: R. Tierney 4, Z. Garth 2, E. Perrett, L. Were, K. Stacey, T. Craven

DC BEST:

Bendigo: T. Williams, E. Snell, J. Richardson, L. Keck, M. Marks, L. Den Houting
Geelong: R. Tierney, A. Lee, P. Schaap, T. Craven, G. Featherston, E. Dowling

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Renee Tierney (Geelong Falcons)
4 – Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons)
3 – Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons)
2 – Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons)

Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power

By: Peter Williams

Eastern Ranges sent a message to the rest of the NAB League Girls competition after flexing their muscles during a 19.3 (117) to 0.3 (3) romp of Gippsland Power. The huge win broke the all-time high score and winning margin records, with 12 individual goalkickers contributing 19 goals for the match. Their accuracy of 19 majors from just 22 shots also helped their case, and while the Power did manage to contain them to three goals in the second and fourth quarters, could not manage to put through a major themselves on the day.

Alyssia Pisano was best on ground with four majors in the match, while Georgia Campbell took control of the ruck for Eastern, and then went forward to deliver three majors too. The midfield pair of Bridget Deed and Olivia Meagher was ticking over, while Georgia Wilson (two) goals, Isabelle Khoury and Matilda Hardy were all prominent on the scoring front. For the Power, Matilda Van Berkel put in a four quarter effort from defence, combining well with Courtney Fletcher back there, while Sunday Brisbane and Yasmin Duursma won their fair share of the ball despite the defeat.

EASTERN RANGES 7.1 | 10.2 | 16.2 | 19.3 (117)
GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.3 | 0.3 (3)

GOALS:

Eastern: A. Pisano 4, G. Campbell 3, G. Wilson 2, B. Deed 2, J. Livingstone, K. Sherar, C. Wilsmore, S. Humm, J. Grace, I. Khoury, L. Stone, M. Hardy
Gippsland: Nil.

DC BEST:

Eastern: A. Pisano, G. Campbell, O. Meagher, B. Deed, M. Hardy, I. Khoury
Gippsland: M. Van Berkel, C. Fletcher, I. Makai, A. Molesworth, S. Brisbane, Y. Duursma

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Alyssia Pisano (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges)
3 – Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Bridget Deed (Eastern Ranges)
1 – Matilda Hardy (Eastern Ranges)

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Western Jets

By: Declan Reeve

A three-goal third quarter saw the Dandenong Stingrays win by 10 points in their first game of the year over an improved Western Jets outfit at Bluescope Recreation Centre. Dandenong’s inaccuracy in the first term saw Western remain within striking distance, even taking the lead by two points at half time. But the third quarter saw the Stingrays drift away from the Jets, with the latter unable to get the difference back as the game finished 6.6 (42) to 5.2 (32) in Dandenong’s favour.

2022 draft eligible trio Montana Ham (Western), Emily Shepherd and Amber Clarke (Dandenong) led the goalkicking with two apiece, with Ham getting both of hers playing as a forward target in the last quarter. The trio was also highly influential through the midfield throughout the day, with Abbey Jordan and Charley Ryan also working hard for the Stingrays in the engine room. Laura Elliott and Jaide Anthony were two standouts in their respective teams’ defences for the day, with Elliott showing off her ability to read the ball in flight and position herself to cut off Dandenong attacks, and Anthony doing similarly down the other end, sweeping up any dropped marks and rebounding quickly.

Next week sees the Stingrays hit the road to face GWV Rebels at MARS Stadium, whilst the Jets head to Cathedral College in Wangaratta to take on the Murray Bushrangers.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.4 | 2.4  | 5.6  | 6.6 (42)
WESTERN JETS 1.0 | 3.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 (32)

GOALS:

Dandenong: A. Clarke 2, E. Shepherd 2, J. Radford, H. Monk
Western: M. Ham 2, A. Gray, C. Sergeant, A. Anthony

DC BEST:

Dandenong: E. Shepherd, A. Clarke, J. Anthony, A. Jordan, B. Smith
Western: M. Ham, L. Elliott, J. Woods, C. Baskaran, P. Ryan 

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Emily Shepherd (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 – Montana Ham (Western Jets)
3 – Amber Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays)
1 – Laura Elliott (Western Jets)

GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers

By: Peter Williams

Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels stormed to a dominant, high-scoring win over Murray Bushrangers to bounce back from a narrow Round 1 defeat at the hands of the Geelong Falcons. Both teams were no doubt feeling the heat at Epsom Huntly, but both played with a fierce brand of football. The Rebels got off to a fast start and never looked back, piling on seven goals to two by half-time. The Bushrangers managed to arrest the momentum somewhat and make it more of an even contest after the main break, though some late majors to the Rebels blew the margin out to 44 points by the final siren.

Paige Scott stood out with three important goals up forward, while Nyakoat Dojiok was simply sensational after quarter time. Her work around the stoppages and teaming up with Lilli Condon and Crystal Summers really made life difficult for the Bushrangers. Ella Friend looked lively at ground level this week after a dominant marking effort the week before, while Chloe Leonard was again consistent for the winners. Aurora Smith and Keeley Skepper were the dominant players through the midfield for the Bushrangers, while Molly Kennedy did well one-on-one against Friend, and Ally Morphett provided a target up forward while also rolling through the ruck.

GWV REBELS 4.0 | 7.1 | 8.4 | 11.6 (72)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

GWV: P. Scott 3, T. Meier 2, P. Kissel 2, I. Cullenward R. Pickles, E. Friend, K. Tomkins
Murray: O. Cicolini 2, L. Sharp, A. Morphett

DC BEST:

GWV: P. Scott, L. Condon, E. Friend, N. Dojiok, C. Leonard, C. Summers
Murray: K. Skepper, A. Smith, M. Kennedy, A. Morphett, M. Quade, L. Sharp

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Paige Scott (GWV Rebels)
4 – Lilli Condon (GWV Rebels)
3 – Keeley Skepper (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)
1 – Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels)

Sandringham Dragons vs. Northern Knights

By: Declan Reeve

A composed and determined Northern Knights came out 37-point winners over the Sandringham Dragons at Trevor Barker Oval on Sunday, with a four-goal first quarter setting up the high-level team performance. The Dragons had their opportunities throughout the day but were unfortunately inaccurate in front of goal, with the Knights defenders able to move the short dropping balls out of defence quickly and seeing out the 10.6 (66) to 4.5 (29) result.

Maeve Chaplin was the standout performer for the Knights, leading the way in the midfield with her relentless hunt for the footy which the Dragons just did not have any answers for. She was well assisted by Ava Jordan who showed composure with the ball throughout, setting up team mate Megan Girolami for one of her game-high three goals. The Dragons still showed plenty of fight through the likes of 2022 draft eligible Keely Coyne and Sofia Hurley, who did hard work around the ground, and Ebony Angelopoulos who snared two of her own goals.

The Knights will be looking to make it two on the trot when they come up against Gippsland Power at Churchill Football Ground next round, whilst Sandringham will have time to recoup with a bye before it faces Gippsland in Churchill the following week.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 2.1 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 4.1 | 4.4 | 7.5 | 10.6 (66)

GOALS:

Sandringham: E. Angelopoulos 2, S. Pribil, C. Murphy
Northern: M. Girolami 3, E. Smallacombe 2, M. Chaplin, T. Mills, R. Wilcox, C. Laurie, M. Papachristos

DC BEST:

Sandringham: K. Coyne, S. Hurley, P. Staltari, E. Angelopoulos, K. Lynch
Northern: M. Chaplin, M. Girolami, A. Jordan, B. Plummer, E. Smallacombe

DC MEDAL VOTES:

5 – Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights)
4 – Megan Girolami (Northern Knights)
3 – Ava Jordan (Northern Knights)
2 – Brooke Plummer (Northern Knights)
1 – Keely Coyne (Sandringham Dragons)

NAB League Girls Round 3 preview: Teams return after quick fixture switch

A SNAP lockdown and subsequent quick team swap later, and the NAB League Girls competition is set to return tomorrow for Round 3 of action. The Round 2 matches have been postponed, though with the border restrictions coming into play and 14 days quarantine required for any person from Victoria to enter Tasmania, it meant the Devils could not play their road trip against Eastern Ranges. Instead the Ranges will suit up as if Round 2 had have gone ahead, playing Gippsland Power, albeit as a home game at Kilsyth rather than on the road at Morwell East.

CALDER CANNONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS
Saturday, February 20 @ 10am
Highgate Recreation Reserve, Craigieburn

First up in Round 3 is a battle of two heavyweights who are considered serious title contenders in the NAB League Girls competition. Calder Cannons have an array of talent from AFL Women’s Academy members to talls and smalls who provide balanced depth across the field. Oakleigh Chargers also have great depth, and disposed of the Northern Knights quite easily in Round 1, showing off a number of young players who stepped up to the mark. Both these teams head in off the back of a win following the Cannons’ strong second half showing against the Dragons a fortnight ago.

The onball matchups could be where the game is won and lost with AFL Women’s Academy members, Tahlia Gillard and Georgie Prespakis, as well as talented ball-winner Emelia Yassir named for the Cannons there. Ameille Smith – who snagged three goals on debut up forward last week –  has a massive task up against Gillard, while Amanda Ling and Charlie Rowbottom make it a dream contested bout. The potential matchup between Rowbottom and Prespakis in particular will catch eyes as two of the top Vic Metro prospects going head-to-head.

Outside the midfield, both teams have plenty of depth, with Stella Reid having an outstanding game in Round 1, playing off a wing but able to float back to half-back and assist there. She takes on Mali McLeod who is one of a number of Cannons with plenty of talent, such as the key defence post of Kasey Lennox and Neve Crowley. With Oakleigh having dangerous smaller forwards such as Taylah Morton and Jorja Jackson inside 50, the ball entry could be key as to how the game pans out.

In Round 1, Oakleigh proved the second most efficient with ball-in-hand, averaging 22 disposals and four inside 50s per goal in the Chargers’ win over the Knights. Calder adopted a handball-oriented style against Sandringham, with the teams two of the top three with lowest kick-to-handball ratio. Defensively the Cannons hit the contest hard, ranked third overall for tackles in Round 1 – laying 92 tackles – while the Chargers produced just the 50 as they played some impressive disposal-footy to keep the ball off their opponents and use their outside run.

This game will be more contested, but it will be particularly interesting to see which team can get the game on their teams for longer. Both have an abundance of talent, and it sets up as a potentials finals preview.

BENDIGO PIONEERS vs. GEELONG FALCONS
Saturday, February 20 @ 10am
Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve, Bendigo

Heading further north, a double-header at Epsom Huntly Reserve in Bendigo takes place for four of the country teams to do battle. In the first game, Bendigo Pioneers and Geelong Falcons lock horns in a chance to start the 2021 season with a 2-0 record. The Pioneers came to play on the border up against Murray Bushrangers, taking care of business by 16 points, while Geelong Falcons ground out a win against Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at Deakin University on the Sunday, in what was an entertaining contest.

What Round 1 showed is both these teams can find their own footy, with Geelong ranked first overall for disposals and handballs, while Bendigo ranked first for kicks. The Pioneers adopted a kick-dominant style, where they produced 104 more kicks than handballs for a competition-high 73.6 per cent kick-to-handball ratio. The Falcons were lower at 61.1 per cent, but they balanced their style, also ranking second for kicks behind the Pioneers for the round. Both the teams also impressed in the air, with the Falcons ranking first for marks, and Bendigo third, while they were also top five for tackles. Bendigo was the only side to finish the round top five in both inside 50s and rebounds, while Geelong really took control in the ruck, ranked in the top five for hitouts, with Bendigo lowly in that area.

This week it will be Madeline Marks‘ chance to arrest some of that Falcons’ dominance in the ruck, coming up against Keeley Hardingham who got first hands to it against the GWV Rebels in Round 1, teaming up well with Analea McKee as both combined for 31 hitouts. Marks and Jayda Richardson did the majority of the ruck work for the Pioneers, having stiff opposition in Bushrangers talent and AFL Women’s Academy member, Ally Morphett. Also roaming around in the midfield with some experience are the likes of Elizabeth Snell and Lily den Houting, while fellow top-age returnee Jemma Finning can roll through the midfield too after coming off half-back. The Falcons shone bright on ball last week, with Tess Craven and Poppy Schaap racking up a truckload of the ball, as did the versatile Charlotte Simpson.

Ingrid Houtsma has been named on a wing after playing both centre half-forward and centre half-back in Round 1, showing off her versatility as a taller player. The Geelong forward dynamic is really damaging, with captain Lucy Were, contested marking specialist Renee Tierney, and the quick Gabbi Featherston all offering different aspects to the front six. One key player who could assist at either end not named is Tara Slender, with the AFL Women’s Academy player missing for Round 3. Instead the younger Pioneers will be required to step up, with bottom-agers Tegan Williams and Octavia Di Donato providing good rebound. Lila Keck showed some promising signs in Round 1, and the forward line of the Pioneers will come up against the likes of Elizabeth Dowling and Annie Lee who both impressed in Round 1.

Geelong Falcons have a well-balanced side and would be tipped to win here, especially with Bendigo missing Slender. Though based on Round 1, the Pioneers will put it up to the Falcons and do have the home ground advantage.

EASTERN RANGES vs, GIPPSLAND POWER
Saturday, February 20 @ 12pm
Kilsyth Recreation Reserve, Kilsyth

One of the few teams to actually be benefited from the Round 2 bye was Gippsland Power, with ruck Grace Matser – injured in the first round – not named for Round 2 against Eastern Ranges, but a week later and the talented tall is ready to go in the Kilsyth clash which is crucial coming up against the talented Georgia Campbell. The Power were a bit rusty up against a Tasmania Devils side that was structured and ruthless credit to a few less restrictions over the past 12 months, while the Ranges showed just how good they could be with transition, conceding the most inside 50s to the Jets (33), but only conceding the one goal.

The Ranges defence held up well, with Mia Busch and Cadhla Schmidli both starring in the back six, rebounding and running it out to form a formidable combination back there. Grace McRae was the sole goalkicker for the Power in Round 1 and she is tough to match up on be it in the midfield or forward line with her strength and one-on-one ability. Leesa Guastella has been named as a forward target this round, and Matilda Van Berkel showed she could do it all from key forward option to stand-in ruck after Matser’s injury, but has been named in defence this round.

Further up the ground, both teams have some speed with Sunday Brisbane winning plenty of it and showing her bursts coming off half-back and along the wing, with Poppi Fleming providing run on the other wing. With Jorja Livingstone being one of the top outside ball movers in the competition, the Power will look to provide their own run out there. Inside the battle between McRae and Olivia Meagher could be a great one as two top-age hardnuts battle it out. Isabelle Khoury and Bridget Deed will also lock horns with Lily-Rose Williamson and Yasmin Duursma in midfield, which promises to be a fantastic battle. Up forward, Scarlett Potter, Matilda Hardy and Alyssia Pisano are among the goal threats for Eastern, whilst the likes of Holly Booth, Van Berkel and Taylah Bourne will look to contain them.

Eastern Ranges will be favourites heading into the Round 3 clash after their impressive win in Round 1, but the Power showed they could match it with sides for long periods of time, and always gave it a crack for four quarters.

DANDENONG STINGRAYS vs. WESTERN JETS
Saturday, February 20 @ 12pm
Bluescope Steel Centre, Hastings

When talking about long breaks, look no further than Dandenong Stingrays, who, after already having 11 months off and then an extra week due to the bye, postponed their first match back in 2021 until Round 3 of the competition. The Stingrays finally are able to run out in the NAB League Girls, hosting a Western Jets side no doubt determined to capitalise on their opportunities when they meet in Hastings. The Jets recorded the most inside 50s of any side in Round 1 (33), but could only muster the one goal. It did show their midfield has the capacity to take control and run the ball forward, giving their front six the best chance to put scores on the board.

Delivery inside 50 will be crucial against arguably the best defence in the competition. Top-ager Zoe Hill and bottom-ager Mackenzie Eardley are strong in the air and provide a contest when the ball gets to ground. Both players will cause headaches for the opposition, with Western’s sole goalkicker in Round 1 – Jemima Woods – set to do battle with Vic Country representative, Hill. Also back there for the Stingrays are Jaide Anthony and Brooke Smith who have the versatility to push up the ground as well. Caitlin Sargent adds another target for the Jets against the stringent defence.

Western’s strength lies in its midfield and ball movement down the field with Charlotte Baskaran having a field day to earn our Draft Central Player of the Week nod after a sensational 28-disposal game on the wing. Teaming up with fellow bottom-ager Montana Ham, the Jets have some serious talent and kicking ability, to try and pinpoint targets inside 50. Trinity Skenderis and Leah Spargo also provide some hardness on the inside, while the Stingrays have Ashleigh Richards and Emily Shepherd who know how to win the contested ball then spread to the outside, whilst also not forgetting the speed of Abbey Jordan who will be playing a new role on the inside this season.

This match is set to be a cracker, and the Jets will want to get off to a strong start having the match practice in, but the Stingrays will be hungry after an extended break on top of the already unimaginable period away from football. Dandenong is one of the challengers for the title so should be favourites, though the game is set to be one of the matches of the round.

GWV REBELS vs. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS
Saturday, February 20 @ 12pm
Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve, Bendigo

In the second game of a double-header at Epsom Huntly Recreation Reserve, the GWV Rebels take on Murray Bushrangers in a battle of two Round 1 losers. The Rebels were gallant in defeat, in a match that could have gone either way against one of the top teams going around in Geelong Falcons, while the young Bushrangers, with a number of debutants and bottom-agers, fell to Bendigo Pioneers at Yarrawonga. For at least one of these teams, they will break the duck and get their first points, and it sets up for a fascinating contest.

The Rebels showed last week they are focusing on a kick-first mentality, finishing Round 1 with a no-nonsense 73 per cent kick-to-handball ratio. Despite being well beaten in disposals, the Rebels only had five less inside 50s, and had four more rebounds. They averaged around 44 disposals per goal, and 6.8 inside 50s, which is still fairly strong across the board. Murray were good defensively with their rebounding and holding up, they were just beaten in disposals, and out-tackled with the Pioneers laying 90 tackles to 55. Having had that experience in the bank, expect the Bushrangers to come out fierce in this one.

Morphett will look to take full control when in the ruck for the Bushrangers, who have a hardened midfield group. Bottom-ager Keeley Skeeper and Mikayla Jones will go head-to-head against the smooth-moving Nyakoat Dojiok and hard nut Lilli Condon for this match, while Aurora Smith and Zara Hamilton will look to control the wings for the Bushrangers. Ella Friend is the danger for the Bushrangers’ defence, with Molly Kennedy named as her direct opponent to start, though the contested marking talent is hard to beat in the air or at ground level. Mindy Quade and Chloe Locke are among a host of defence-first Bushrangers who provide rebound as well, while up the other end, Kate Adams and Kristy Whitehead provide some experience, as does Lily Sharp who has been named at full-forward. The battle at half-forward between Adams and Chloe Leonard, and Whitehead and Molly Walton could be some of the best on the ground, with the two Rebels players their best last week.

GWV Rebels were arguably the best of the losing sides from Round 1, so should be favourites here with a great mix of talents across the ground. The Bushrangers have some great youngsters coming through, and will get better with every game.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. NORTHERN KNIGHTS
Sunday, February 21 @ 10am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval, Sandringham

The standalone Sunday game is also between two sides that tasted defeat in Round 1, with Sandringham Dragons and Northern Knights doing battle at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. The Dragons went down to Calder after a good defensive showing in the first half, while the Knights lost their first game since the 2018 grand final, heavily beaten by Oakleigh Chargers in the second game of a double-header at Craigieburn.

In those matches, both teams were beaten statistically, though the Dragons did rank fourth in handballs for the round, and recorded the highest handball-to-kick ratio across the competition of 45.7 per cent. The Knights just could not get the ball inside 50, with just 16 entries, whilst the Dragons had their chances, but the Cannons defence proved up to the task. One area where the Knights are likely to have the advantage is in the hitouts, where Georgia Kitchell stood up well to help her side to rank first overall for Round 1, whilst the team also finished third in the rebounds.

Sandringham will still be without Bridie Hipwell who was injured in the first round, though is not too far away from returning to the action. The Dragons do get back a talented runner though, with Tayla Jones coming into the side after missing Round 1. She could go head-to-head with either AFL Women’s Academy member Maykaylah Appleby, or Brooke Plummer who provided some much needed run on the other wing. The Knights defence was one aspect that never gave in through the Round 1 loss, and led by Tarrah Delgado – who was a standout talent – and Maeve Chaplin – who provided run across the ground – will be key players once again. A battle between Delgado and Charli Murphy could be a great one to watch with the key forward starved of too many chances from the first match, whilst Keely Coyne stood out across half-forward on debut. Pia Staltari and Emma Stuber coming off half-back and Sofia Hurley through the midfield are among some other Dragons who could be key players in the game.

Both these teams will be hungry for a win, and going off Round 1 form, Sandringham have the upper hand. The Knights will be keen to bounce back from a rare loss and should take control in the ruck, but it will be the midfield where the game is won and lost.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Even spread of talent to lead Cannons in 2020

CALDER Cannons’ NAB League Girls list was finalised last last week as the Craigieburn-based side prepares to head into the 2020 season. Reaching the 2019 Grand Final before ultimately falling a win short at the hands of the Northern Knights, Female Talent Coordinator Russell Humphrey said there was roughly around a 10-player split across top, middle and bottom-age players. With a different coaching group coming on board, Humphrey said he is feeling more comfortable ahead of his second season in the role.

“It helps going around again,” Humphrey said. “I had a little bit of a handle on it beforehand but being in the coordinator’s chair you’ve got to have a bigger handle on it and I’ve gone out last year and watched a fair amount of local footy which I’ll do again this year just to see what’s out there. “With our list (compared to the boys) it’s a little bit harder because our season starts before the local season starts so it only gives them three or four weeks before our season finishes so it’s a little bit difficult that way. “We rely a little bit on going out and watching them during the year and things like that.”

Last year the Cannons had two players drafted, with captain Georgia Patrikios going in the top five to St Kilda – and already earning a Rising Star nomination – and Krstel Petrevski picked up by Melbourne later in the draft. Humphrey said Patrikios’ influence on the club as captain had been profound.

“It was interesting for Georgia, at the start of the year she hurt her ankle so it made her work a little bit harder to go through the injury issue, getting right and then to start playing,” he said. “I think that because of that, it gives her a good understanding of what’s required going into AFLW. I know that when she played state footy she played very well for Vic Metro and then when she played for Essendon VFLW she played well there as well so she gave the girls an understanding of what’s required and I think a lot of the top-agers followed that. “Krystal got drafted, Alana Barba, Felicity Theodore and Terira Fry and Zoe Hardiman all ended up playing VFLW footy, and Makeisha Muller as well. “At Williamstown, North (Melbourne), and Essendon. So I think that group was dragged along by themselves and the results showed with them all playing VFL footy. “Getting two drafted was fantastic, if we got three it would’ve topped it off.”

While Patrikios has already made an impact in her first game, Humphrey said Melbourne fans had plenty to look forward to with Petrevski when she gets her chance to don the red and blue.

Competitive, competitive, very competitive young lady,” he said. “Does the right things, everyone knows the story about her moving from Halls Creek, down to Sydney and then across here to Melbourne, that in itself shows resilience. “And I think that’s what they’ll get, they’ll get a hard-working person that understands what’s required.”

The future looks bright for the Cannons, who regularly have past players – such as Patrikios and Petrevski – dropping in at training to keep them informed of what’s happening in the world of AFL Women’s. Former Cannon, Sarah Dargan is an assistant coach at the club, which has plenty of future talent on the list at Under-17 and Under-16 level coming through.

We were lucky last year, we got an exceptional group of Under-16 players who are now Under 17s,” Humphrey said. “And like it does in the boys, it goes in circles like that and we were just lucky to get that group of probably 10 quality Under-16 players. “We’re hoping that the development of our top-age players this year sort of drags them along as well, the 17s came back in better shape than maybe previous years and I think that’s experience for them, learning what’s going on a bit more. “Around the whole competition the 16s and the 17s are now getting a better idea of what’s required when they come back from their 16th year to their 17th, and 17th again to 18th.” We don’t want to rely on our 17s but they will be part of the going forward.”

For such a young group to make the grand final was huge, but Humphrey said the Knights were too good on the day, and did not enable the Cannons to play with the same freedom they had against an equally strong Falcons side.

It was for our playing group, reward,” Humphrey said. “For the coaching group it was reward. “I know the work that they had put in to get to the final, to beat Geelong who are a quality side and had quality people around them, to be able to get past them was probably more important for the girls than the grand final. “That’s no disrespect to Northern because they played great footy on that day but that high of beating Geelong, it was hard for our girls to get back up and play Northern, and Northern didn’t allow us to play the footy that obviously we played the week before. “It was an exciting time for (the players), making the finals and then winning the game against Geelong and leading into grand final week we were positive but unfortunately we just couldn’t get the chocolates at the end of the day, but Northern were a quality side and so were Geelong. I think the competition’s getting closer and closer every year which is fantastic.”

The name that has been and will regularly be touted is Georgie Prespakis, the younger sister of Carlton’s Rising Star Madison, who is still a year away from being draft eligible. In one game against the Rebels last year, the Under-16 talent booted seven goals after moving to full-forward in the second quarter. Humphrey said while the hype was genuine, the Cannons had plenty of players to watch from that age group that were worthy of the same praise.

“I think we all get excited with Georgie and I understand that,” Humphrey said. “We don’t have any expectations on her, we just expect them to play.” The hardest part for Georgie is being a bottom-ager and how well Maddy (Prespakis) is going, the scrutiny on her is a fair bit from this sort of forum (media). “I think we’re missing out on Tahlia Gillard who’s in the Academy, Neve Crowley, (Emilia) Yassir, Kasey Lennox, Peppa Poultney that played in the Vic Metro 16s – we’ve got a group of six to eight players in that group who are possibly draftable, again they have to do the work and we have to do our end. But everyone’s all about talking about Georgie a lot and I understand that but I think they’re missing some quality players there. “Tahlia Gillard is 186cm tall and her birthday’s at the end of the year so she doesn’t turn 17 until December.”

Those names are still a year away from being draft-eligible, and to focus on this year’s crop, Humphrey said there were certainly some to keep an eye on.

“I think you’ll find that Laura (Cocomello) will play in the midfield, probably mid-forward. “Kiara (Delia) will probably play down back and through the middle as well. “Tamsyn Crook we’re going to probably start her off down back and let her play one position instead of throwing her around – similar to what the boys will do with Cody (Brand) – and just let her give her a spot down back and let her hold down centre half-back for a while. That’s not to say she won’t go forward or won’t go in the middle but we’ll probably look at her beginning down back.”

The Cannons have managed to have a top five pick in the first three years of the system, with Chloe Molloy, Monique Conti, Prespakis and Patrikios all going early in the AFL Women’s drafts. In 2020, the Cannons have a more even top-age spread without a clear standout.

“I think that’s a great call, (in) our top-agers we don’t have the standout,” Humphrey said. “We have a top-age group that’ve worked pretty hard and there’s no outstanding sort of touted draft prospect. “But I think again if we do the job properly with the coaching and everything else, we’re hoping again to get one or two (drafted). “Our aim is obviously to get minimum one a year so if we can do that, that’ll be great. It’s an even group, most definitely. “And we’ve brought a couple of girls in who’ve never played NAB League footy or TAC Cup footy before, top-agers so that’ll be interesting to see how that goes. “But again if they’ve got the talent, you need to have a look at them and give them the opportunity so that’s what we’ll do.”

The Cannons will bring in a couple of 19-year-old’s with Grace Dicker coming back after a year off to recover from a shoulder injury sustained in 2018, as well as Freda Puruntatameri who spent some time at Essendon VFL last season having travelled down from the Tiwi Islands. With Matthew O’Connor now taking the reins of the girls’ side, the team has a different leader, but a similar game style to the previous year. In preparation for the year ahead, the Cannons will head up to Yarrawonga to face Murray Bushrangers, before another match against Western Jets the following Friday in a lead-up to their Round 1 clash.

Calder takes on Northern in a grand final rematch, played on Saturday, February 29 at RMIT Bundoora.

Weekend Wash-up: NAB League Girls – Round 3

ROUND 3 of the NAB League Girls saw Geelong Falcons and Calder Cannons remain undefeated proving their dominance of the competition. While the likes of the Western Jets, Sandringham Dragons and Gippsland Power are yet to register a win this season after a tricky start. The Murray Bushrangers made it two wins in a row, with Northern Knights making their way back onto the winner’s list after a draw in Round 2.  

GWV REBELS 0.1 | 0.2 | 2.2 | 2.3 (15)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 0.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 8.4 (52)

By: Cameron Ross

GOALS:

GWV: S. Molan 2.
Dandenong: M. McDonald 2, L. Grocock 2, I. Shannon 2, J. Radford, T. Smith.

BEST:

GWV: I. Rustman, C. Leonard, S. Molan, E. Wood, G. Pidgeon, V. Jewell.
Dandenong: B. Vernon, Z. Hill, T. Smith, G. Howes, I. Shannon, A. Liddle.

The Dandenong Stingrays won their second game of the season against the GWV Rebels at MARS Stadium in Ballarat. The windy conditions made things difficult for both sides as they had trouble adjusting early. There was a cross breeze early in the game that slightly favoured the Wendouree end, yet the breeze became more prominent as the game went on. The Rebels could not take advantage of this early breeze and despite having more of the ball, were not able to register a goal in the first term. The Stingrays defence held up well with the key defender Zoe Hill, making things difficult for the Rebels.

The Stingrays took advantage of the wind in the second quarter, and the Rebels really struggled to get any penetration on their kicks. Rebels captain, Sophie Molan, attempted to lead the way and prove to her teammates what was required when kicking into the wind, but the Stingrays were simply too good. Tyanna Smith had a great quarter, finding space around the ground, and producing an amazing highlight. Smith cleanly scooped up the ball on the wing, took a bounce and kicked the ball long into the Stingray forward line. Unfortunately for Isabella Simmons, the Stingray’s third goal for the quarter came from her running the ball out of the square the wrong way and kicking it long into the Stingrays forward line. The goal was duly converted. This was even more unfortunate, as Simmons would have been one of the leading possession winners on the ground at the time, and also one of the Rebels best.

The third quarter was exciting, and the Rebels announced that they were not going to be pushed over. After Stingrays ruck Georgia Howes left early in the quarter, the Rebels were dominant at stoppages. Molan again led the way, going forward and kicking two goals in six minutes, and there was a sense at the ground, that the tide was changing. Ella Wood also started to get her hands on the footy a lot more, having an important 5 minutes when the Stringrays resistance began. It was not enough for the Rebels. Isabella Shannon kicked a goal against the run of play, but the dagger blow game when the Stingrays kicked another, after a brutal 50 metre penalty that brought them within point blank range and only 30 seconds in the quarter remaining. This meant that Stingrays increased their buffer back to 3 goals, and severely impacted the Rebels comeback.

Chloe Leonard started the final quarter well for the Rebels, winning back to back clearances and attempting desperately to bring the margin back within reason. Yet the Stingrays finally put the game away after the seven minute mark of the final term, after Molly McDonald goaled with a volley from the goal square. There would be some concerns for the Rebels with Wood going off late with a shoulder injury, but the game was much closer than the score line suggested.

Molan was impressed with the young Rebels’ sides fight.

“Our effort was much better this week. I thought we showed a lot of intensity at the ball, and when we used it well, we were really hard to stop,” she said. “It was just those couple of slight brain fades at the end of the quarters which made it really hard to get back into the match.” Molan also did not want to blame the wind for the sides struggles in the second and final quarters stating, “we haven’t played a game where it hasn’t been windy yet, and we’re used to it because of the lack of protection at this ground. It does make a difference, but we train here and we play here, we need to get used to it!”

Stingray Isabella Shannon was the best player on the field, and an absolute moral for votes in the league count, but Molly McDonald and Tyanna Smith were also solid contributors for the Stingrays. For the home side, the captain Sophie Molan led from the front, but Ella Wood and Chloe Leonard were also terrific.

 

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 (9)
CALDER CANNONS 0.2 | 0.2 | 1.7 | 4.8 (32)

By Peter Williams

GOALS:

Sandringham: E. Stuber.
Calder: G. Elarmaly, H. Cooke, N. Crowley, A. Magri.

BEST:

Sandringham: A. Burke, W. Laing, S. Hartwig, C. Saultry, E. McNamara, S. Trim.
Calder: K. Petrevski, Z. Friswell, G. Prespakis, H. Cooke, Z. Hardiman, G. Elarmaly.

 

Calder Cannons won their third consecutive match with a terrific last term to overrun a determined Sandringham Dragons outfit, handing the Dragons their third consecutive loss to start the 2019 season. Both teams were evenly matched throughout the game, and it took until the final term for the undefeated Cannons to finally shake off their opponents in challenging conditions at Trevor Barker Oval. Emma Stuber booted the first goal of the game for the Dragons to get them off to the perfect start, and due to weather conditions, the home side added the only score – one behind – in the second term to head into half-time with a five-point advantage. Calder dominated the third term, peppering the goals but could not find a major until Alisa Magri finally put through a goal after a great kick from Georgie Prespakis. They led by five points at the final break, but ran out the last quarter stronger, as Haylea Cooke booted the first less than two minutes into the quarter, then a couple of late ones to Gloria Elarmaly and Neve Crowley sealed the deal in a 4.8 (32) to 1.3 (9) victory. Krstel Petrevski was impressive throughout, particularly early as she collected 16 disposals, laid three tackles and had four inside 50s, while Prespakis had 23 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and eight tackles, while missing a couple of chances on goal. For the Dragons, Alice Burke was enormous laying 10 tackles from 16 disposals and six marks, laying some crucials smothers as well. Sarah Hartwig was impressive in defence with 13 disposals, three marks, five tackles and six rebounds, while Winnie Laing and Eliza McNamara had 11 touches each on the inside.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 2.0 | 4.4 | 4.4 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN JETS 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Northern: A. Bannan 2, T. Pulcino, M. Ramsay, B. Gutknecht.
Western: N. Wright.

BEST:

Northern: G. Newton, B. Gutknecht, J. Fitzgerald, S. Sansonetti, E. McKenzie, A. Bennett
Western: R. Tripodi, E. Georgostathis, T. Kolevski, E. Quinn, C. Sargent, J. Woods

The Northern Knights stamped their authority on the competition with a 25-point victory over the Western Jets at RAMS Arena. After a relatively close start, Northern put on the after burners to push the lead out and did not look back keeping the Jets goalless in the second half. The Knights looked like a polished outfit with the likes of Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie and Britney Gutknecht starring in the middle and contributing to the scoreboard. The three were clean with ball in hand and worked tirelessly across the ground to win the footy in the contest. For the Western Jets, Elisabeth Georgostathis once again dominated going in hard at the stoppages and using her speed to try and break away from the packs but it was not enough to stop the Knights who were on top across the field. Ruby Tripodi was a tackling machine and got hands to plenty of ball throughout the game and combined well with Western teammate, Taylah Kolevski.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.4 | 0.11 | 1.11 | 4.12 (36)
GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Murray: O. Barber 2, L. Sharp, T. Verhoeven.
Gippsland: G. McRae.

BEST:

Murray: O. Barber, T. Brett, A. Favell, C. Hargreaves, M. Quade, Z. Spencer.
Gippsland: M. Van Berkel, M. Fitzsimon, G. McRae, C. Abrahams, M. Shaw.

Murray Bushrangers made it two wins on the trot with a hard-fought victory over the winless Gippsland Power at RAMS Arena. Following a disappointing Round 1 defeat to Northern Knights, the Bushrangers have strung two impressive wins together, with the latest being a 4.12 (36) to 1.3 (9) win against the Power yesterday. Neither side could find the big sticks in the first half, with the Bushrangers holding the Power scoreless to half-time, while booting 11 behinds themselves. Olivia Barber looked impressive early, but missed a couple of close chances, before being rewarded in the second half with a couple of majors. The Bushrangers booted the last four goals of the game after Grace McRae became the first goalkicker with a major in the tenth minute. It put the Power within three points, before Barber gave the Bushrangers deserved breathing space at the final break by eight points. They managed to finally get reward for effort in the last quarter with Barber, Lily Sharp and Tali Verhoeven all slotting goals to secure the 27-point victory. Barber was the best on ground with her work inside 50, but the defensive work of Matilda Van BerkelMegan Fitzsimon and Maddison Shaw was critical in the Power staying in the contest. Abby Favell and Grace McRae were prominent in midfield for their respective sides, while Teagan Brett put out another consistent performance as well. Chelsea Hargreaves was impressive up the Bushrangers’ defensive end, while Chandra Abrahams laid a number of strong tackles and defensive efforts.

 

EASTERN RANGES 0.2 | 2.3 | 2.5 | 4.7 (31)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Eastern: T. Flintoff, R. Hall, L. Hilton, L. McClelland.
Oakleigh: E. Harley, A. Peck, J. D”Amato.

BEST:

Eastern: E. Horne, R. Hall, T. Flintoff, O. Meagher, T. Brown, S. Zappia
Oakleigh: C. Rowbottom, G. Lagioia, G. Larkey, E. Jackson, A. Micallef, M. Bertuna

After a slow start to the game the Eastern Ranges claimed their second win of the season against the Oakleigh Chargers. The Ranges kept the Chargers scoreless in the second half of the match piling on two goals themselves. Emma Horne proved to be a key player for the Ranges while teammate Laura McClelland slotted a major. Tarni Brown was instrumental across the field while Riley Hall was solid for the Ranges who went home six point winners. Tess Flintoff was also amongst the best for Eastern chipping in with one major and getting her hands to plenty of ball throughout the game. For the Chargers, the likes of Charlie Rowbottom and Gemma Lagioia were impressive with Rowbottom racking up the touches. Emily Harley and Jasmine D’Amato combined to score two goals between them and keep the Chargers in the game.

 

GEELONG FALCONS 2.2 | 5.2 | 6.5 | 9.5 (59)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.4 (10)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS: 

Geelong:M. Skinner 4, E. Vella, I. Long, R. Tierney, L. Ryan, A. Chapman 
Bendigo: M. Ward

BEST:

Geelong: L. Gardiner, P. Sheppard, L. Lesosky-Hay, M. Skinner, K. Haustorfer, P. Schapp
Bendigo: B. Hards, K. Douglass, E. Snell, M. Tupper, J. Jolliffe, D. Villiva

The Geelong Falcons kept their perfect NAB League record in tact with another dominant display on Sunday, accounting for Bendigo Pioneers by 49 points. 

With their wings unclipped atop the table, the Falcons looked sturdy across every line throughout the game and put the result beyond much doubt early on. Mia Skinner was at the centre of each Geelong attack, booting three first-half goals and ending with a bag of four to have seven in the last two games. Her forward partners, Renee Tierney and Elise Vella, were also dangerous but Skinner prevailed as the sole Falcons multiple goal kicker. Typically stingy in defence, the Falcons kept their opponents goalless across three quarters for the second week running, but Mia Ward broke through for the Pioneers in a fighting final term to slot through her side’s only major. Skipper Lucy McEvoy was thrown back in the final term as Abbey Chapman went forward and fetched a goal, but was worn tightly all day by Bendigo’s Brooke Hards. While the Pioneers were valiant, the ladder leaders were simply too strong and flex their muscle to run out comfortable winners.

Weekend wrap: NAB League Girls – Round 1

THE new era of Victorian Under 18s football began on the weekend with two triple headers at Craigieburn and Frankston. We wrap up how the six games played out and some of the better players on the day for each side.

Calder Cannons 1.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 5.7 (37)
Western Jets 1.1 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS:

Calder: G. Prespakis, N. Crowley, G. Elarmaly, M. Muller, I. McNeill-Wren.
Western: I. Grant.

BEST:

Calder: G. Prespakis, M. Muller, G. Elarmaly, K. Petrevski, A. Barba, L. Cocomello
Western: I. Grant, R. Tripodi, E. Georgostathis, I. Pritchard, C. Saxon-Jones, K. O”Keefe

Calder Cannons kicked off the new season on the right note with a 27-point win over the Western Jets in the first of three games at Craigieburn. The breeze made life difficult for both teams as they opted to use the grandstand side of the ground. The Cannons were the first on the board through Gloria Elarmaly, before a response came from the Jets through one of Western’s AFL Women’s Academy players in Isabella Grant. The Cannons headed into the first break with just a one-point lead, but then a second term burst saw Makeisha Muller and Georgie Prespakis conjure goals out of nothing, while Neve Crowley also added a major to the total. An 18-point lead soon became 23 by the final break as India McNeil-Wren booted the final goal of the match in the third quarter. Neither team could manage a goal in the final term, which suited Calder just fine, walking away with the points having restricted the Jets to just three behinds after quarter time. Prespakis was the star of the show, constantly winning possessions around stoppages and bursting away, while Muller and Alana Barba showed promising signs among what was a real team effort from the Cannons who were missing Georgia Patrikios. For the Jets, Grant was productive throughout the match, while Elisabeth Georgostathis had a massive first half and never gave in through the midfield, while Isabelle Pritchard and Cleo Saxon-Jones showed their ability up either end. In Round 2, Calder Cannons face fellow winners Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, while Western Jets look to get on the board against other Round 1 losers, Murray Bushrangers.

Bendigo Pioneers 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
GWV Rebels 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 4.3 (27)

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe 2, M. Barton.
GWV: I. Simmons 2, R. Saulitis 2.

BEST:

Bendigo: M. Tupper, E. Gretgrix, K. Mitchell, B. Hards, D. Villiva, K. Douglass
GWV: B. Thompson, N. Butler, I. Simmons, E. Wood, N. Dojiok, S. Molan

In the second game of the day, spectators were treated to a tight match after quarter time. It all looked to be going pear-shaped for the Pioneers early as Isabella Simmons booted two opening term goals and was joined by fellow middle-ager, Renee Saulitis who split the middle from a tight angle to hand the GWV Rebels an 18-point quarter time lead. With the Pioneers kicking with the breeze in the second term, Madeline Barton snapped a goal off the deck for Bendigo’s first, before Jordyn Jolliffe converted from the set shot to draw within five points at the main break. After half-time, the first goal was crucial and it went to Saulitis who somehow found herself unguarded at the back of a pack close to goal, with the ball falling in her lap, turning around and snapping a goal. The Rebels extended the lead to two straight kicks at the final break having kept the Pioneers scoreless in the term, but with the breeze, Bendigo was always a chance. Jolliffe booted her second major and gave them real hope, though the end-to-end football meant both sides felt like they were close to scoring. In the end, the Rebels managed to hold firm against a gallant Pioneers outfit to win by five points. Brooke Thompson was named as the Rebels’ best, while Nekaela Butler and Nyakoat Dojiok did some of their best work out of defence. Ella Wood and Sophie Molan were a handful in the midfield, while Simmons and Saulitis were busy in the forward half. For the Pioneers, Maeve Tupper, Eloise Gretgrix and Brooke Hards all formed a resilient midfield that stood tall on the day, while Kaitlin Mitchell, Dakota Villiva and Kate Douglass were among others who impressed for the losing side. In Round 2, the GWV Rebels will meet Calder Cannons, while Bendigo Pioneers hope to record a win at home against Eastern Ranges.

Northern Knights 2.7 | 4.7 | 7.10 | 11.12 (78)
Murray Bushrangers 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)

GOALS:

Northern: B. Gutknecht 4, N. Morris-Dalton, A. Bannan, G. Newton, T. Mills, C. Linssen, M. Appleby, A. Bennett.
Murray: Nil.

BEST:

Northern: B. Gutknecht, G. Newton, E. McKenzie, M. Chaplin, J. Fitzgerald, S. Sansonetti
Murray: A. Morphett, M. Quade, K. Whitehead, M. Trethowan, A. Favell, O. Barber

In the final game of the triple header at Craigieburn, there was a noticeable step-up in decision making and run as last year’s grand finalists, Northern Knights looked every bit a contender once again with a 76-point victory over Murray Bushrangers. In 2018, we saw the Knights had no trouble scoring and it looked to be the case once again, with eight individual goalkickers. Britney Gutknecht was the major beneficiary with four goals, three of which came in the second half. Throughout the day, sides struggled to kick goals into the breeze, with just two of a total 13 goals going through the big sticks up the Grand Boulevard end of RAMS Arena. The Knights found a way though, booting six goals, including four in the final term as they ran away with the contest to record 23 scoring shots to two in an impressive victory. There was no shortage of stars for the Knights with Gutknecht, Gabby Newton, Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald all busy, while Maeve Chaplin and Sarah Sansonetti were also named in the best in what could have extended to a few more names as well. For Murray, the largely different side to last season with a lot of new or middle and bottom-age players showed some impressive signs trying to take the game on, but it was hard to get a read because of the strength of the Knights. Olivia Barber tried hard in the ruck throughout the day, while Abby Favell kept running. Ally Morphett and Mindy Quade were named the Bushrangers’ best in the big loss. Murray will have a chance to bounce back in Round 2 when they come up against the Western Jets, while the Knights will meet Oakleigh Chargers who also recorded an impressive win in Round 1.

Dandenong Stingrays 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)
Eastern Ranges 0.2 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS:

Dandenong: H. Thomas, I. Shannon, J. Radford.
Eastern: S. Gibbs, L. McClelland, M. Kendall, S. Collard.

BEST:
Dandenong:
B. Vernon, I. Shannon, Z. Hill, G. Howes, J. Radford, A. Nagtzaam
Eastern: O. Meagher, T. Brown, T. Flintoff, L. McClelland, M. Kendall

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Opening the second triple header for the weekend, Eastern picked up their first win in a tight affair over Dandenong in Frankston. The game broke into the Ranges’ forward half early, but it was Dandenong who drew first blood with Isabella Shannon slotting one from congestion. A revitalised Eastern returned fire in the second with Mietta Kendall hitting the board early. Much of the second quarter continued in Eastern’s forward half with Dandenong defenders getting first hands to the ball but struggling to penetrate the forward press. Eastern were soon rewarded again with a goal from captain, Laura McClelland, while Dandenong remained scoreless for the second. The Stingrays attempted a resurgence following the main break, pushing the ball back up the centre. Jemma Radford kicked Dandenong’s second after snatching the pill mid-flight in congestion to put them within two-points. Though Shae Collard quickly replied for Eastern, snuffing out some of Dandenong’s momentum. In the final period, Harmony Thomas kicked Dandenong’s third while Serena Gibbs secured the win for Eastern in the closing minutes with a big kick from 35 metres out. Though playing without one of their best in captain, Molly McDonald, the Dandenong girls adjusted well with Alice Nagtzaam creating well up forward while Brooke Vernon and Shannon remained prolific. For the Ranges, Olivia Meagher pressured well while Tarni Brown and Tess Flintoff impressed on the move. In Round 2, Eastern Ranges face fellow Round 1 losers, Bendigo Pioneers, while Dandenong Stingrays face fellow losers, Sandringham Dragons.

Oakleigh Chargers 1.1 | 3.1 | 6.3 | 9.9 (63)
Gippsland Power 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 (13)

GOALS:

Oakleigh: E. Harley 4, A. Van Oosterwijck 2, E. James, K. Kearns, J. D’Amato
Gippsland: N. Webber, S. Walker

BEST:

Oakleigh: A. Porter, A. Van Oosterwijck, E. Harley, J. Lin, G. Lagioia, E. James
Gippsland: C. Abrahams, M. Van Berkel, N. Webber, G. Radford, G. McRae, M. Shaw

By: Brandon Hutchinson

Gippsland Power walked away from Sunday afternoon with a 50-point loss dealt by a dominant Oakleigh side at Frankston Oval. Both teams came out hard in the first, mostly locking the ball down in the midfield with repetitive stoppages. Nikia Webber kicked Gippsland’s first from a gather and snap early on, while Gemma Lagioia responded in the closing minutes for Oakleigh to tie the term. In the second, Oakleigh slowly increased their lead after trapping the ball in their forward line. Emily Harley kicked her first goal after a stray rebound found her teammate. Power tried to shift pressure through the centre, but the Chargers broke their lines and soon found their second through Amelia van Oosterwijck before entering the main break. Gippsland remained scoreless up until the final quarter as the Chargers surged on to kick six more. Kalarni Kearns kicked Oakleigh’s first for the third while Harley added two more as she and her teammates continued to dominate the airways. Harley’s fourth came in the final quarter, increasing Oakleigh’s lead early on, while Power replied with their second following a spill in defence. Van Oosterwijck hit back on the other end with her second with Eliza James soon following with Oakleigh’s final goal. Gippsland captain, Maddison Shaw, and teammates, Grace McRae, Chandra Abrahams and Matilda Van Berkel all combined well despite Oakleigh’s dominance. For Oakleigh, Harley and Van Oosterwijck were enormous in front of goals, while Joanna Lin and Lagioia starred through the centre. In Round 2, Oakleigh Chargers face fellow big winners, Northern Knights, while Gippsland Power face Round 1 winners, Geelong Falcons.

Sandringham Dragons 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)
Geelong Falcons 0.0 | 2.3 | 4.5 | 4.8 (32)

GOALS:

Sandringham: C. Murphy.
Geelong: P. Schaap, R. Tierney, D. Moloney, M. Skinner.

BEST:

Sandringham: W. Laing, M. Purcell, D. Walker, T. Grasso, E. McNamara, S. Hartwig
Geelong: L. Lesosky-Hay, P. Sheppard, L. McEvoy, M. Skinner, A. Chapman, D. Moloney

Geelong Falcons overcame an early challenge from Sandringham Dragons to post a 26-point win at Frankston. Neither side managed to trouble the scorers in the first term, before Poppy Schaap and Renee Tierney both entered the goal scorers list with majors in the second quarter, while Charli Murphy booted the Dragons’ only score. An incredible goal from Darcy Moloney in the third term, which saw her handball over an opponent, run on and kick the goal,was the Dragons’ highlight of the game, before Mia Skinner extended the Falcons’ lead to 23 points at the final break. A tight third term saw the ball up the Falcons’ end for almost the entirety of the contest, with Geelong scoring the only three behinds of the term. In the end it was enough to walk away with the four points, scoring 4.8 from 12 scoring shots to Sandringham’s one. Luka Lesosky-Hay was the Falcons’ best running through the midfield and teaming up with Lucy McEvoy well, while Paige Sheppard and Skinner provided good support on the outside. For the Dragons, Winnie Laing did well through the middle on the inside, and Marguerite Purcell solid on the outside. While the Geelong midfield got on top, the Dragons’ defence held up well with Sarah Hartwig strong at centre half-back, and players like Alice Burke working hard defensively to reduce the scoring impact of the reigning premiers.