Tag: nyra anderson

2021 AFLW Draft preview: GWS – Western Bulldogs

TODAY is the day. The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft takes place tonight and the 14 clubs are preparing to welcome a host of new players into the elite system. Draft Central has split its club-by-club draft previews into two parts, starting with the first seven clubs of Adelaide to Gold Coast which was in yesterday’s edition, with the GWS GIANTS through to the Western Bulldogs in this second part. We take a look at the selections your club has, and some of the names who could replace outgoing players, or add something new to the table.

>> 2021 AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW: ADELAIDE – GOLD COAST

>> FINAL SIREN PODCAST: AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW

GWS:

Picks: 37, 49, 55, 59, 60, 61

The GWS GIANTS have the equal most selections of any team in the draft with six, and will be looking to top up after clearing out the list with five delistings, including Aimee Schmidt who signed as a delisted free agent with the Eagles. On top of that, Elle Bennetts and Jess Dal Pos both departed the club, and Jess Allan and Yvonne Bonner were made inactive for the 2022 season, whilst Blues duo Chloe Dalton and Katie Loynes, and North Melbourne’s Jasmine Grierson came in. It left the GIANTS with a host of later selections, coming into the draft second last at Pick 37.

That Pick 37 seems to be a toss up between AFLW Academy member and ruck Ally Morphett, and slick forward and Sydney Swans Academy captain Jess Doyle. Morphett is home grown through the Academy and immediately provides ruck support, with Doyle a highly talented, versatile forward with plenty of upside and viewed as a long-term player, also a part of the AFLW Academy. From there, four NSW-ACT representatives received AFLW Draft Combine invites with Brodee Mowbray a tackling machine, Maddy Hendrie and Teagan Germech tall options who represented the Allies, and Georgie Fowler who has been cutting it up for East Coast Eagles in AFL Sydney. Additionally, All-Australian Isadora McLeay is a defender the GIANTS could look at, with Hayley Macdonald another player who impressed in her GIANTS Academy games as a leading forward.

MELBOURNE:

Picks: 41, 42, 45

After being arguably the most active team in last year’s draft after a trade period that received mixed reviews for plenty of older players leaving the club, Melbourne’s 2021 off-season could not have been any different. Whilst Meg Downie, Tegan Cunningham, Niamh McEvoy and Shae Sloane all retired, the Demons only lost Chantel Emonson via trade, and instead picked up two of the biggest names on the trade table in Geelong’s Olivia Purcell and Carlton’s Tayla Harris, giving them a huge boost in midfield and forward. Later, they signed Casey Demons’ Eliza West who impressed for the VFLW side after crossing from basketball. They first pick in the third round at Pick 41, and then have three selections in five picks – only four are in the Victorian pool and North Melbourne’s selection could well be a Tasmanian meaning three consecutive picks – where they can quickly get in and out with a trio of players they need.

One pick is already decided in Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro’s Georgia Campbell, a ruck who is coming to the club under the father-daughter rule and is a first round prospect on value. The Demons have picked up a highly talented tall, and can be versatile with the other selections. With Melbourne looking at a flag tilt, they could well bring in the returning Leah Kaslar who nominated Victoria, or keep an eye on VFLW talent such as Casey’s Imogen Milford, or perhaps a readymade midfielder in Alana Barba or Georgia Nanscawen from Essendon. The Demons are not afraid to pic country players, and could grab a slider if the likes of Ingrid Houtsma, or Maykaylah Appleby being utilities who can run with ball-in-hand. Jemima Woods is another developing talent, with Tarrah Delgado and Cadhla Schmidli some key position defensive options. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing are two recycled players who played with Casey Demons late in the season.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

Picks: 13, 19, 28, 43, 51, 56

North Melbourne enter the draft with six selections, and a terrific draft hand to use given their draft zone with Tasmania. The Roos delisted five players including Kate Gillespie-Jones, whilst also trading away Jasmine Grierson and Vivien Saad in deals. They did not bring anyone to the club in what was a quiet overall off-season, though Kim Rennie is predicted to head to the Roos, likely with a late selection. Holding the Tasmanian zone link, expect at least two Tasmanians under the rule have their name read out, with AFLW Academy member Perri King the standout junior Tasmanian and one who will be a steal at a later selection for the Roos. Sarah Skinner is commuting from Tasmania each week to play for North’s VFLW side and is one who will be likely to land at the club after a sensational year.

The Tasmanian talents can be taken late in the draft, with the duo and Rennie expected to be in those last three selections. Other Tasmanian players who have run out for the Roos’ VFLW team including Ella Maurer, Jemma Blair and Amy Bissett, whilst the captain of the side Meagan Kiely is one North might be hoping lands at their pick. It will mean North Melbourne at least have a couple more selections from the open Victorian pool, and have versatility to select players on best available, but also potentially grabbing a tall forward. Tahlia Gillard can provide that height if available at their selection, with Imogen Milford or Imogen Barnett readymade goalscoring options if the Roos want to pounce. Gabbi Featherston is a smaller, but athletic option inside 50, whilst Emelia Yassir and Poppy Schaap are clean players they could look at. If Ella Friend was available expect the Roos to read out her name very quickly, whilst GWV Rebels teammate Nyakoat Dojiok, or Geelong Falcons’ Annie Lee could be defensive options around the Roos’ picks.

RICHMOND:

Picks: 5, 16, 48, 50, 54

Richmond is another side with plenty of picks, with five open selections this year after taking the bare minimum three picks – including the number one – last year. They delisted four players early on including key position talents Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones, with Alice Edmonds, Phoebe Monahan and Alana Woodward also delisted in June. Akec Makur Chuot was the Tigers’ final delisting though could be picked up again late in the draft. In the trade period, Richmond shipped off Sabrina Frederick to the Magpies for Maddie Shevlin, and picked up Poppy Kelly from St Kilda for that immediate ruck support, before snaring Carlton’s Jess Hosking in a deadline deal to join her sister Sarah at the club. With another Top 5 pick, and third overall in the Victorian pool, the Tigers can pick best available, with some seriously talented talls in that region.

Given the key position players will be off the board by their second pick, expect the Tigers to look at someone like Tara Slender or Ella Friend with the early pick, knowing Geelong and Carlton would both have multiple chances before Richmond can read out another name. Tess Craven is potentially one of the best available from a midfield perspective at Pick 5, whilst Stella Reid is another hard to overlook. The Tigers will have one more early selection at Pick 16, which is expected to be a best available scenario, with Jaide Anthony and Aurora Smith both Port Melbourne talents who have been carefully watched by Richmond with that alignment. Emelia Yassir is another in that region, with Poppy Schaap and even Tahlia Gillard if still on the board, options at the pick. Later on, Sophie Locke would have to be a consideration for the Tigers after a sensational year for Port Melbourne, with a slider or two coming into play for the Tigers. Maykaylah Appleby would be an apt pick for Richmond with her run and carry, whilst Jemima Woods is a late tall option should they opt for smaller players at the front end. Maeve Chaplin and Elizabeth Snell are other midfielders who could be in contention.

ST KILDA:

Picks: 4, 12, 36

St Kilda had plenty of draft selections after trade week but could only utilise three of them, with Selena Karlson retiring, and the likes of Alison Brown, Nadia von Bertouch and Tamara Luke delisted early, and Clara Fitzpatrick the last player in the competition to be cut. Poppy Kelly and Claudia Whitfort both headed to opposition sides, with the Saints shuffling up the order to grab an another early Victorian selection, then signed Alana Woodward from Richmond and added highly talented up-and-coming basketballer Paige Price. With Pick 4 in the draft, the Saints will grab the second best Victorian on their board, with Georgie Prespakis tipped to go at Pick 3. Amanda Ling is the favourite for the selection, able to fill that need on the inside after a sensationally-consistent year, whilst Tess Craven is another consideration as an inside player ready to impact immediately.

Pick 12 is the eighth pick in the Victorian draft, so the Saints can grab another highly-talented player, potentially a key forward such as Ella Friend if she remains on the board. Whilst unlikely, Tahlia Gillard is a perfect option for the red, white and black, with Tara Slender also unlikely to be there, but could be another name they hope for. Jaide Anthony is one to provide some slick skills out of the back half and could head to the Saints with the pick if they opt for a best-available scenario. With the other selection, St Kilda could pair Anthony up with a Dandenong Stingrays teammate be it Ash Richards or Jemma Radford, the latter who has been impressing for the Saints’ VFLW side. Tahlia Meier is a small who could add to their stocks inside 50, whilst Maeve Chaplin, Chloe Leonard and Keeley Sherar are other options at the pick to improve immediate midfield output if available.

WEST COAST:

Picks: 3, 21, 24, 40, 47

West Coast enter the 2021 AFLW Draft with the first West Australian selection in the pool. They head up with Pick 3, and then have two of the next three selections as well, making it a strong hand with five overall picks. They delisted eight players all at once on June 9, with Chantella Perera and McKenzie Dowrick – the latter who had been inactive for the 2021 season – also exiting the club. They grabbed Evangeline Gooch from the Dockers, and signed Aimee Schmidt as a delisted free agent from the GIANTS, in an overall quiet trade period. With Pick 3, the Eagles are tipped to select AFLW Academy member and skilful midfielder Courtney Rowley. The smooth-moving excitement machine can play on any line which makes her so versatile. Key position utility Amy Franklin is the other option for the Eagles, providing them with the best tall in the draft pool.

Depending on what the Dockers do with the next selection, West Coast could still get, though unlikely, Franklin to pair with Rowley, whilst Charlie Thomas is the other AFLW Academy member who has great versatility as a 175cm forward. Midfielder Dana East and ruck Sarah Lakay are other chances with those early picks, depending on the tall/small balance the Eagles wish to go with from their selections. Makaela Tuhakaraina is another player tipped in the first half of the draft with her elite athletic traits, while the Eagles have some readymade forward options available in Tessa Doumanis, Nyra Anderson and South Australian Jade Halfpenny later in the draft. Up the other end, the likes of Emily Bennett, Emma Nanut and Mel Hardy could be options for the Eagles. Airlie Runnalls and Thereisa Meissner are VFLW players heading west who could be looked as immediate fixes.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Picks: 22, 25, 27

The final team in our AFLW Draft preview are the Western Bulldogs who come in at Pick 22 and have three picks in six selections, similar to Melbourne but earlier on in that second round. Amelia van Oosterwijck, Lauren Spark and Angelica Gogos all retired from the kennel, with Danielle Marshall one of three delistings. Kim Rennie is expected to join the Roos via the draft after that trade could not be facilitated, and the Dogs grabbed GWS GIANTS’ Elle Bennetts and shuffled back in the draft order. They then picked up Richelle Cranston through the delisted free agency in what seemed like a great get, and have three available list spots for players.

As the selections are close together, the Bulldogs will get a sense of multiple options all at the one time. Ella Friend played for their VFLW side but will not be there at that pick, whilst Nyakoat Dojiok could be a possibility if she slides out of the first round. Tahlia Meier is another Bulldogs representative and Vic Country representative who ran around for the Dogs, with VFLW player Brooke Hards a utility with great athleticism, and one of only two players to play every game a possibility to make the transition up to the elite level. From a non-Bulldogs perspective, Chloe Leonard is a player with great versatility able to have an impact through the middle or half-back, with Maykaylah Appleby a possibility to continue the Northern Knights trend at the club. Annie Lee and Ingrid Houtsma are other possibilities as marking players, though the former is unlikely to be there. Elizabeth Snell, Brooke Vickers and if she somehow slid, Jaide Anthony are other running players able to provide some good speed across the ground.

Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Nationwide: July 2021

AFTER releasing the Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool last month, we have gone one step further to include the entire nation. Not only will the Power Rankings feature the Victorians from last month, but the top stars from across the country to give an indication of where they might be rated if the AFL Women’s Draft was truly national. Note that the Power Rankings to do not take into account any draft selections, and are more an opinion-based ranking system on the draft prospects.

We have also not included any players who have previously been on an AFLW list, just undrafted or now draft-eligible players. Please note the rankings are the opinion of the author.

>> Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Victorian Pool: June 2021

 

Georgie Prespakis

#1 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
13/03/2003 | 168cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Ball-winning, tackling, quick hands, footy IQ

The most consistent prospect across the board and has been touted as a star from her debut as a 15-year-old two and a half years ago. There she dominated up forward with 13 goals in 10 games, averaging a massive 22.6 disposals and 5.6 tackles to win the league best and fairest at just 16 years of age. Her numbers have remained consistent going into the middle, and whilst she almost always gets close attention from the opposition, Prespakis is a renowned tackler with 8.8 per game in her top-age season. Her ball winning ability and strength to win the pill at the stoppage and extract it away, as well as have an impact forward of centre, are among her strengths. In terms of improvements, sometimes she can rush the kicks around her body, but she is able to get to enough repeat stoppages, to have more influence than most others.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

There was always the weigh up for Geelong between Prespakis and Rowbottom with the pair the two clear standout Victorian talents. Now that Rowbottom has opted to go to Queensland, the Cats are expected to pounce on Prespakis with Pick 2.

Charlie Rowbottom

#2 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
22/01/2003 | 178cm
Inside Midfielder/Tall Forward

Key strengths: Contested marking, tackling, strength, upside

The powerful, tall inside midfielder has already proven to be a difficult player to try and contain across four quarters, able to win a game off her own boot when up and about. So strong in the air and at ground level, Rowbottom averaged 7.1 tackles to go with 17.6 disposals and 2.8 marks in season 2021, also booting 10 goals in 11 games. Whilst long-term the sister of Sydney’s James will become a midfielder, expect her to be a tall forward who can kick multiple goals in a game. Her upside is one of the best in the draft crop, and her versatility makes her damaging. Her kicking both in-field and on goal is an area of improvement, but her ability to do all the hard stuff – from winning the ball, tackling and clunking the important marks – more than makes up for the ironing out process that will happen with time. An exciting talent for the future.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Rowbottom pulled off the surprise of the AFL Women’s Draft when it was announced she would nominate Queensland, opening the door for Gold Coast with Pick 1. Expect the Suns and new coach Cameron Joyce to be thrilled to pick up Rowbottom with Teagan Levi to bolster the midfield.

Teagan Levi

#3 Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)
14/08/2003 | 169cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Athleticism, strength, kicking, game sense

Touted as the top Gold Coast Suns Academy member, Levi has been an exciting talent for a couple of years now. A bottom-age AFLW Academy member, Levi has all the traits to become a really dominant inside midfielder. A more precise kick than the top two Victorians, Levi also has the athleticism to boot, and whilst she does not have the versatility that Prespakis and Rowbottom have yet, Levi is such a complete inside midfielder with high-level footy smarts that will enable her to add more strings to her bow as she develops. Unfortunately, Levi only got the one AFLW Under 19 Championships game, picking up 17 disposals, six clearances, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds in Queensland’s loss to Vic Country.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Levi was hot favourite to be selected with Pick 1 until Rowbottom nominated Queensland, but it will not matter to the talented midfielder, with the pair set to help fast-track Gold Coast’s rebuild up the AFLW ladder.

Courtney Rowley

#4 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)
24/09/2003 | 167cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Speed, clean hands, marking, kicking

Heading west for the fourth placed spot, Peel Thunder’s Courtney Rowley is similar to Levi with a more outside than inside ability. Whilst the talented teenager proved she could also play inside at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, her ball use and athleticism lends itself to be a slick outside talent who can go inside when needed a la Georgia Patrikios. With such a well balanced profile from her ball use, evasion, overhead strength and versatility – being able to play in any third of the ground – Rowley is definitely one of the more complete players going around. Ready to step straight up to senior level having already won a club best and fairest at Peel Thunder at 15-years-old and played through back-to-back premiers sides – though only won the one flag due to injury late this season – Rowley can compete against bigger-bodied players.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite being the standout West Australian talent in our eyes, West Coast will weigh up whether to go tall or small with the first pick, with Amy Franklin the other considered. Rowley is very deserving of the first West Australian selection, but if not, then her name will be off the board at the next WA pick to the Dockers.

Zoe Prowse

#5 Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)
03/07/2003 | 177cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Athleticism, versatility, clean hands, tackling pressure

Able to get it done in the air or at ground level, Zoe Prowse is just as capable at any role thrown at her. Whilst traditionally being a ruck credit to her athleticism and clean hands, Prowse has trialled as a midfielder at SANFLW level, and also up forward as a marking tall. Able to clunk big grabs, and if not, bring the ball to ground and lay fierce tackles, Prowse is the most complete ruck in the draft. Despite standing a touch under the average ruck height at 177cm – in fact two centimetres smaller than midfielder Rowbottom – Prowse more than makes up for it with her vertical leap. Having the ruck smarts to get the ball to advantageous spots for her teammates, expect the Sturt prospect to be really clean when getting her chance at AFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Adelaide do not need to compete for any players, and whilst curve balls can be thrown at state-based drafts, expect Prowse’s name to be the one the Crows look to first as the player who has been the most consistent over the past few years.

#6 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)
03/11/2003 | 175cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, contested marking, footy smarts, positioning

Despite a somewhat interrupted season for the AFL Women’s Academy member, playing only the five games due to injury and AFLW Under 19s Championships commitments, Slender still showed why she is a top-end prospect; stepping up from her role as a rebounding intercept defender, to be a forward and midfielder this year in a remarkable display of versatility. Arguably the NAB League Girls’ Most Valuable Player for her side, the Pioneers were a far better team with her in it, and averaging a massive 4.2 marks as well as 5.2 tackles along with her 16.2 disposals shows she has no trouble winning the ball in the air, one-on-one or at ground level. A natural leader co-captaining the Pioneers, Slender could fill any role at AFL Women’s level and has some great upside for the future as well.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Slender is one of the most unique and versatile players in the AFLW Draft crop. Whilst the first handful of picks might be midfielders, Slender has already shown she can roll through the midfield if need be, and should not be off the board too long.

#7 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
10/09/2003 | 173cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, spread, skills, goal sense

A natural ball-winner with a slick left foot and smooth-moving ability, Reid has proven she can play on all three lines of the field. Starting off half-back and pushing up to a wing, Reid finished her season up forward and ended up slotting 15 goals in 11 games, including three in Oakleigh’s premiership win. She averaged 1.4 goals for the season from 20.1 disposals, 4.5 marks and 3.2 inside 50s per game, looked to as a key player to move the ball in transition. She used it well by hand or foot and was able to find space with ease. Multiple times a game Reid would make you wonder how she got in so much space even when tearing it up, but credit to her work rate and smarts to be able to find the open space and then punish the opposition through either her disposal or on the scoreboard.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Slender, Reid is as versatile as they come, but from an outside sense. She can play at half-back, half-forward or on a wing, and hits the scoreboard regularly, and that will appeal to clubs. It is anticipated she will be in the first half-dozen Victorian picks alongside her teammates Rowbottom and Amanda Ling.

Ella Friend

#8 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
30/12/2003 | 175cm
Tall Forward/Wing

Key strengths: Contested marking, mobility, upside, penetrating kick

The top contested marking player in the draft crop, Friend will be a highly sought after talent for her ability to not only clunk the big grabs, but use her penetrating left boot in both the midfield and forward lines. Transitioning from centre half-forward to a wing in the second half of the season, Friend showcased her mobility and her knack for for winning the ball in multiple areas of the field. Only two days away from being a bottom-ager, expect Friend to have plenty of upside left in her and would be a great target for a team needing a key target up forward who can also work hard up the ground. She averaged the 16.0 disposals, 4.3 marks and 2.9 tackles per game in the 2021 season, and slotted two goals on debut for the Western Bulldogs’ VFLW side. A good size at 175cm to play anywhere on the ground.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Friend is the dominant key position forward available in the draft, and with safe hands and athleticism to move up the ground, she could easily be considered in the first couple of selections. With the Cats on the lookout for a tall and having multiple picks in the region, she will no doubt be on their radar.

#9 Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

A really smart player who knows the game well and reads the play behind the ball, Anthony was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age talent last year. She showed why through an outstanding yet interrupted season, copping a couple of concussions – including in Vic Country’s win over South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships – to still perform at a high level. She won Vic Country’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, and proved through her actions to be an incredibly courageous player. Whilst standing at 166cm, Anthony is not afraid to go up in the marking contest and bring the ball down, and when she does have ball-in-hand, her kicking is outstanding. A talent who teammates can trust with ball-in-hand, and she has spent time up forward as well at times, kicking a goal in the Stingrays’ loss to the Geelong Falcons in finals.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

The Vic Country MVP winner is one of the better ball users in the Victorian crop and with Carlton among those with back-to-back picks early, Anthony could be a player the Blues look to in order to fill that need.

Amy Franklin

#10 Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)
04/02/2003 | 177cm
Key Position Utility

Key strengths: Athleticism, overhead marking, versatility, upside

The other West Australian vying for the first picked from the state is the high-upside, talented tall in Franklin. Able to pull down some strong grabs at either end of the field, Franklin has athleticism rarely seen in a tall and is a marquee talent long-term. Still raw in some areas and looking to improve her ground balls, Franklin’s ability to mark, turn and go, not only able to keep distance on opponents but often create separation, is remarkable for a player of her size. She has a long kick and is able to hit the scoreboard regularly when inside 50. Whilst still able to impact in defence, and is more than capable of taking on a task at either end of the field, she looms as a future key forward, and her forward craft is very good, able to judge the ball in flight, outbody her opponent then get goal side to kick majors.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

No doubt Franklin will come into consideration for West Coast’s first selection given how hard talented, athletic key position players are to find. If the Eagles swoop on Rowley, expect the Dockers to very quickly read out Franklin’s name, and a pairing of Franklin and Roxy Roux is nightmare-fuelled for any opposition defence.

Jess Doyle

#11 Jess Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy/NSW-ACT)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Medium Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, one-on-ones, competitiveness, forward craft

The smooth-moving Sydney Swans Academy member out of the Manly Warringah Wolves has that touch of class about her whether it is inside 50 or through the midfield. Possessing clean hands and an ability to create space for herself, Doyle can win the ball on the lead or at ground level and do a lot of damage. Eyeing off improving her endurance for the future, her competitiveness and forward craft inside 50 makes her such a talent for the future. Still plenty to learn, expect her to play from early on to fast-track her development against senior bodies as she has already developed at a rapid rate competing at the next step up from local football through the AFLW Under 19 Championships. One to watch for the long-term and no doubt one that the Swans will be eyeing off when they enter the league.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

Without Sydney having a team as of yet, the talented Doyle falls in the GIANTS hands for now, and will be an incredible steal given the GIANTS do not have a pick until the third round. Expect Doyle to either be taken with the first or second pick, depending if the GIANTS opt for their own Academy talent in Ally Morphett first.

#12 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
23/12/2003 | 163cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Clearances, accumulation, consistency, footy IQ

Arguably the best pure inside midfielder in the Victorian pool, Craven has had quite the season for the Falcons. She won the Falcons’ best and fairest award, averaging 21.1 disposals, 4.4 marks, 3.3 inside 50s, 2.0 rebound 50 and 3.9 tackles, then played the two games with Vic Country for 20.5 disposals, 6.0 clearances and 5.0 tackles. She is an inside ball winner and one who can extract it out of the contest going forward. She is smaller than other inside midfielders at 163cm, but she can gain separation at the stoppage and has the footy smarts to be able to use the ball well under pressure. She is also clean and gets her hands dirty at ground level, which is something that stands out in her game at any level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Geelong holds the number one Victorian pick in the draft crop, and whilst they do tend to look to local talent, expect them to gamble Craven will be there with their next selection. Having multiple picks inside the first round, the Cats could bring Craven in straight away to step up, but the question will be whether another club such as St Kilda or Carlton look to pounce and derail the Cats’ plans.

#13 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
09/07/2002 | 161cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, acceleration, endurance, work rate

The first 19th year prospect to feature in this list, Ling has had an outstanding season and shown why the move to an Under 19s competition was important. Despite standing at just 161cm, she is hard to bring down, very slippery in tackles and always able to get her hands free. She is really clean with her hands, and can burst away with a mix of acceleration and endurance, capped off by a high work rate through the midfield. She averaged 17.9 disposals, 2.2 marks, 6.5 tackles and 3.2 inside 50s in season 2021 for the Oakleigh Chargers, whilst playing the two games for Vic Metro thus far, averaging 16 disposals and six tackles. Already managing a game at VFLW level for Port Melbourne and not looking out of place, Ling showed she is a big-game player by taking home the best afield medal in the 2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #7

AFLW Draft notes:

Expect Ling to be the bolter of the AFLW Draft. Whilst long considered inside the Top 10 Victorian prospects at the close of the NAB League Girls season, the 19-year-old Ling could well be taken second in the Victorian pool with St Kilda strongly considering the young gun. If they choose not to, it is hard seeing her slip past Carlton with the Blues’ back-to-back picks given Ling’s obvious appeal and meeting their clean inside needs.

Annie Lee

#14 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/08/2003 | 169cm
Medium Defender

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

The reliable rebounding defender barely put a foot wrong all season and was a player her teammates could rely upon to use the ball well out of defence. Her strengths were clearly her intercept marking, where she latched onto 5.1 marks per game to go with 16.9 disposals and 4.5 rebound 50s. Already she has managed the two games at VFLW level, and was outstanding for Vic Country in her three games, holding up the fort in defence well and providing some good rebound with almost five rebound 50s per game there. At 169cm she can play against tall or small opponents because she reads the ball well in flight and shows good composure when with it. As a whole, Lee just ticks a lot of boxes in terms of what she is capable of doing.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #8

AFLW Draft notes:

One would think Geelong would be eyeing off Lee as another home grown talent, but with so many Falcons and other clubs ready to pounce, it will be interesting to see where he lands. Very consistent and in our Phantom Draft lasted to the Western Bulldogs at Pick 22, which anything in that range is a steal. Expect her to be snapped up earlier, however.

#15 Perri King (Tasmania Devils/Allies)
25/08/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Acceleration, tackling, clearances, accumulation

The sole Tasmanian AFL Women’s Academy member has the best balance between offensive and defensive capabilities, not only able to average 19.7 disposals and 4.2 inside 50s, but she amassed a whopping 9.4 tackles per game for the Devils in the NAB League Girls competition. On debut for North Melbourne VFLW she laid another seven tackles to go with 15 touches, and had the 10.5 tackles with 14.5 disposals, at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. But there is more to King than just ball-winning and tackling, with the athletic talent able to burst out of the stoppage and extract from tight situations. At times could add a touch more composure with her kicking, but her upside compiled with her well-balanced, two-way running is what makes her an outstanding prospect and rounding out the top 10.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #9

AFLW Draft notes:

Whilst King fits a different nomination under the Tasmanian group, she is still included in this as the ninth top prospect for the state. All that means is that North Melbourne – who can take her at any stage given the Tasmanian link – will walk away with a steal. In the Phantom Draft she was taken at Pick 45 as an example of where she could go in the draft, but ignore the number, she is right in the mix among the top players.

#16 Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 170cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Reading the play, intercepting, marking, athleticism

The talented Maroochydore prospect and AFL Women’s Academy member is a well-balanced talent who has a mix of offensive and defensive traits. She reads the ball well in flight, is able to hold onto grabs and is able to drive the ball forward in transition. Setting up at half-back, Harmer is a good size at 170cm to beat most opponents one-on-one, and whilst she is hoping to build her ground ball ability more, her aerial work is strong. A handy athleticism with a balance of speed, agility and endurance make her hard to stop, and she is someone who can roll onto a wing and then provide that key link moving the ball inside 50, able to pinpoint passes well. There is a lot of upside with Harmer making her one to watch for the long-term as well as the short-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With the top two Queensland pool talents in Rowbottom and Levi heading to the Suns, Harmer is in the mix to be the first called out for the Brisbane Lions on AFLW Draft night. Along with Mikayla Pauga, Harmer is also an AFLW Academy member and one whop has shown great signs over the years, so expect no hesitation from the Lions to bring her into their senior program.

Gypsy Schirmer

#17 Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)
18/02/2003 | 178cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, goal sense, contested work, overhead marking

A versatile tall with terrific athleticism, Schirmer is capable in all thirds of the ground, Starting as a forward throughout her bottom-age years, Schirmer proved she could be damaging around goal be it winning possession in the air or at ground level. Over the past 12 months, Schirmer pushed into the midfield, predominantly on the wing, but also won plenty of contested ball in close. Being able to win the hard or loose ball, Schirmer then went into defence late in the year for South Adelaide where she showcased her breakneck acceleration and was able to create fast ball movement in transition. Expect her to be more of a forward to start with at the top level, but the AFL Women’s Academy member certainly has potential to become a midfielder long-term.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like Prowse, Adelaide can select Schirmer unopposed, and as another AFLW Academy member and player with high upside, expect her to be one the Crows snap up with their selections.

#18 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
13/12/2003 | 165cm
Wing

Key strengths: Speed, work rate, accumulation, outside game

The premier pure wing in the NAB League Girls competition bounced back from a quiet game against Vic Metro in the AFLW Under 19 Championships, to really dominate in her final two outings against South Australia and Queensland. She knows how to find the ball and is a natural running wing which she showcased all year for Murray Bushrangers. Another player whom given an extra month would be a bottom-ager, really impressed in her draft-eligibly year, averaging 20.7 disposals – almost double what her prior two seasons were. She drove the ball inside 50 four times per game, and had more than two rebound 50s per match as well, providing great run and carry down the wing going forward, something that really caught the eye on a regular basis.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #10

AFLW Draft notes:

Smith is one of the best outside running options in the draft, and one would expect a team like Carlton or Richmond to look at the Murray talent, with her finding a home somewhere in the first two rounds given her unique traits and ability to break the game open from that specialist wing position.

#19 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
01/09/2003 | 182cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, mobility, forward presence, high impact

The upside for father-daughter eligible prospect Georgia Campbell is quite impressive, with the talented ruck able to rest up forward for parts during games due to Eastern Ranges’ abundance of rucks. There she was still able to kick five goals in eight games to go with her 20.9 hitouts, and also slotted a goal for Vic Metro while averaging a higher 12 disposals, and 12 hitouts at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. The Western Bulldogs supporter is eligible to go to the Dogs, or Melbourne, and will be nominated in the near future. She has great mobility for a ruck and can get around the ground and be an option, and also provide a good presence when inside 50 which makes her difficult to contain.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #11

AFLW Draft notes:

Already signed by Melbourne after the Western Bulldogs supporter opted for the Dees, Campbell will be taken with Pick 42 in the draft – the Demons first – under the father-daughter matching rules. It will be one of the steals of the draft given in an open draft, Campbell could well have been snapped up in the first round.

#20 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
07/01/2003 | 175cm
Tall Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Speed, power, reading the play, intercepting

The running defender has some seriously eye-catching traits with her combination of acceleration and power making her hard to slow down when she is up and about. A traditional half-back, Dojiok can read the ball in flight with ease and float across contests to intercept, or drop into the hole when a high ball comes into defence. She knows where to stand when the play is headed towards her and her metres gained are massive compared to a lot of her contemporaries. She is often a get-and-go player, always looking to move on the ball, and whilst her kicking at times needs sharpening up, her development over the past few years at the Rebels has certainly improved and makes her one of the better intercept defenders going around.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #12

AFLW Draft notes:

The athletic defender will attract plenty of attention as the quickest half-back with height available in the Victorian pool. She could end up with her VFL Women’s side the Western Bulldogs, though Richmond is another side that is in the Dojiok range that could look for speed and see her as a tall midfielder of the future.

Mikayla Pauga

#21 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University/Queensland)
10/04/2003 | 161cm
Medium Forward

Key strengths: Clean hands, ground balls, acceleration, game sense

The Maroochydore talent moved to Bond University under the Riewoldt Family Scholarship to study, and has enjoyed a more consistent 2021 after being plagued by injuries of late. She has the class and cleanliness by hand or foot to do a lot of damage in the forward half, and whilst Pauga needs to build her endurance, she has high footy IQ that makes her read situations well when roaming inside or outside of the forward 50. Able to win the ball aerially or at ground level, Pauga is one who had more of a decision on her hands that most Queenslanders having made the move to the Gold Coast despite being in the Brisbane Lions Academy, but has opted for the Lions zone, continuing her pathway through the club over the years.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Having nominated Brisbane as her zone, Lions staff and supporters will be relieved and pleased to pick up the AFLW Academy member be it with their first or second selection alongside fellow AFLW Academy Harmer.

#22 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
25/09/2003 | 160cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Contested work, aggression, disposal, high impact

Bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old during Calder Cannons’ run to the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Yassir played 11 games in her debut season to hold her own against much older opponents. In her top-age year, Yassir lifted her numbers to 16.7 disposals, 3.9 tackles and 3.1 inside 50s to be a crucial player in the Cannons’ forward half of the ground. Her contested work and aggression around the football makes her a player that would do anything to win the football and shows a high level of football nous, along with high impact in the games. She will generally use it well going forward, and whilst she might only be the 160cm, could settle as a midfielder or defensive forward with her traits and skillset.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #13

AFLW Draft notes:

Yassir is a player who could go first or second round depending on the club’s needs. She has a lot of potential for the future and might be one Carlton looks to with its back-to-back picks, with North Melbourne and Richmond around the right region, and even the Western Bulldogs having a few selections together.

#23 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg/South Australia)
19/09/2003 | 166cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

After being a bit-parts player all over the field for Glenelg in her bottom-age year, Tonon found her home off half-back and playing up on a wing at times. Her ability to read the game, win the ball and use it well out of defence became her niche, and she went on to have a sensational year, cementing her place in the Bays’ best side and winning a SANFL Women’s flag in the process. Whilst her AFLW Under 19 Championships was cut short following a red card from a tackle, Tonon showed enough to suggest that she has built a profile more than capable of stepping up to the next level both with ball-in-hand and off the ball.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

After the two AFLW Academy members, the Crows have quite the decision on their hands, but on form in 2021, Tonon is a player who has arguably stepped up the most to be third in the ranks with her clean ball use and decision making off half-back or further afield. Included in the Academy as a late entry post-championships, the medium defender has plenty to like for the future.

Gabbi Featherston

#24 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
12/11/2003 | 169cm
Medium Forward/Ruck

Key strengths: Vertical leap, penetrating kick, aggression, upside

Standing at 169cm you would not expect someone to be listed as a ruck, but such is Featherston’s leaping ability that she has indeed become a secondary ruck at NAB League Girls level. Pinch-hitting in there to average 4.3 hitouts per game, Featherston is at her most dominant around the half-forward line where she can lead out, clunk grabs and show great courage in the air or at ground level. Whilst she could improve her composure around goal – she had plenty of chances that were opportunities which went begging – her ability to have so many chances and create opportunities is impressive. She is a raw talent with plenty of upside, and with a long, penetrating kick and strong hands, she is a valuable addition to any forward line.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #14

AFLW Draft notes:

Featherston has the potential to be a bolter or slider in the draft depending on where clubs see her. She has enormous potential given her athletic traits, and ability to play anywhere. Geelong might want to bring in another Falcon, though with so many Falcons in the pool, Featherston might be on that a team such as North Melbourne or the Western Bulldogs look to for a forward option. No doubt Collingwood with their three consecutive Victorian pool picks would be considering a player with her skillset too.

#25 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)
05/09/2003 | 175cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Kicking, clean hands, reading he play, decision making

Had it not being for a pesky wrist injury ruling out her 2021 season, Thomas would undoubtedly be higher on this list. Luckily for the tall talent who predominantly plays forward and can roll through the midfield, she has plenty of runs on the board. An AFLW Academy member, Thomas is the third one from Western Australia in the Academy, and as she showed in her bottom-age year, uses it so well with precise ball-use and decision making. Able to assess the situation well, Thomas is a player who could slot in anywhere on the field, and whilst she has spent most of 2021 recovering, she will be right to go for the start of the AFLW season.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

With Rowley and Franklin expected to go in the first two spots, Thomas will likely be the next name to be read out, though if the Dockers were willing to put all chips in based on previous years form, then Thomas could end up second, otherwise it is expected she will head to the Eagles with West Coast holding three of the first four selections.

#26 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/07/2003 | 153cm
Small Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, goal sense, composure, accumulation

A really impressive small midfielder, Schaap might be the smallest one going around at 153cm, but she packs a punch and has some unbelievable traits. Her best trait is her clean hands, rarely making a fumble at ground level and able to dish off to teammates in order to create goal-scoring opportunities. As a forward, Schaap slotted eight goals in nine games, often finding space where few could to snap around her body in big moments. She also slotted three goals in her three Vic Country games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and laid plenty pf tackles along the way. Her defensive pressure is right up there with her other key strengths, though it is hard to look past her ball-winning skills, composure and goal sense, and is a perfect pressure forward who can push up into the midfield.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #15

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Geelong Falcon who the Cats could look to bring through the program, but is a target for anyone looking for a clean forward inside 50. The Kangaroos, Tigers and Bulldogs all have picks in Schaap’s expected draft range, and might consider the reliable talent.

Meagan Kiely

#27 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne/VFLW)
15/12/1994
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Footy IQ, kicking, clean hands, consistency

The first mature-ager and VFLW player to make it into the Power Rankings, Kiely would have to be one of the favourites for the Lambert-Pearce Medal after a dominant display for North Melbourne this season. Relocating from Tasmania, the Roos would be keeping a close eye on the 26-year-old, who could slot straight into any midfield with her natural ball-winning skills, work rate and leadership. As good as any readymade midfielder outside the AFLW, the North captain has lead the competition across disposals and marks this year, showing she can win it at the coal face, or on the outside, with her clean hands and kicking impressive, but most of all her footy IQ shining through. Averaging a massive 22.8 disposals, 4.7 marks and 5.6 tackles from her 12 games, she is the premier VFLW player at this stage.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #16

AFLW Draft notes:

Despite hailing from Tasmania, Kiely is now relocated to Melbourne, so falls under the Victorian rather than Tasmanian zone. Regardless of the fact she will not be a free hit for the Roos, North Melbourne would be certainly considering bringing their VFLW skipper up to the AFLW program, but there will likely be one or two clubs in the mix for an immediate midfield boost. Carlton and Collingwood are two sides that could grab another midfielder with one of their many picks.

#28 Dana East (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
10/06/2002 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Inside game, clean hands, acceleration, contested ball

The most consistent of the West Australians throughout the entire WAFL Women’s season, East shot up into draft projections early in the season with some outstanding performances for Swan Districts. The inside midfielder is just so clean with her hands on the inside, and thrives on the contested ball, shovelling it out to teammates, or tucking it under the arm and bursting away with her quick first few steps. She has offensive and defensive pressure in equal measures, and is someone who can impact a game from the midfield. East has also spent time resting forward and can hit the scoreboard, though she is a future inside midfielder with a great balance of inside and outside traits. After the AFLW Academy members, East looms as the safest option, but also the one that could slot straight in if required, even with some areas to iron out such as her kicking consistency.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Regarded highly in the West Australian State Academy, she could be paired up with Rowley through the midfield at the Eagles, or might slide to Fremantle’s next pick if indeed the Dockers go tall with Franklin. Either way, East is one who would be top of mind for both West Australian clubs, and is someone who could impact from early on in her AFLW career.

Brooke Hards

#29 Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs/VFLW)
19/07/2002 | 167cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Footy smarts, versatility, athleticism, kicking

The former Bendigo Pioneers co-captain is the second VFLW player to feature. The soon-to-be 19-year-old excelled as an inside midfielder at junior level, but chose to step up to VFLW level where she improved on the areas that saw her overlooked. Hards moved to the outside playing every role under the sun from forward, to back and wing, able to win the ball and most importantly build up metres gained with her run and carry. Boasting enormous upside and great footy smarts, when able to get-and-go, Hards is damaging with ball-in-hand and has well-balanced athleticism, mainly her acceleration. While her numbers might be lower than at junior level, her game-impacting moments have been higher making her a valuable prospect.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #17

AFLW Draft notes:

Like a number of VFLW performers, showed more signs in the last couple of rounds, and much like North Melbourne with their VFLW performers, the Western Bulldogs would have her among their thoughts to bring up from the VFLW to AFLW program after playing every game this season. Providing versatility and speed around the ground as well as the ability to impact through the midfield, Carlton or Collingwood are other clubs that might look at a talent with an extra year of senior experience.

#30 Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne VFLW)
15/10/1999
Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Forward craft, accumulation, versatility, consistency

Another VFLW player who might not have earned a Draft Combine invite but simply has to be in the mix to be drafted is a second Tasmanian playing for North Melbourne in Skinner. She has transitioned from being a forward and the TSLW’s best player and consistent talent, into one of the best in the VFLW, showing she can lift at any level. Still only 21-years-old, Skinner has had some huge numbers since primarily staying in the midfield, picking up 18.1 disposals, 3.8 marks and 4.8 tackles for the Roos. It is her ability to play forward or through the midfield and adapt to the play, creating goal scoring opportunities for either herself or her teammates. Skinner is a plug-and-play typer who the Roos would be considering, but other teams would have to be keeping an eye on too.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria/Tasmania): #18

AFLW Draft notes:

Travelling over from Tasmania each week has proved valuable for Skinner who has had a sensational year for the Roos in the VFLW. As a player the Roos can take towards the back-end of the draft, Skinner is a valuable talent who adds both midfield and forward prowess, and much better value than what North Melbourne would pay in an open draft.

Abby Hewett

#31 Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange/Queensland)
12/04/2003 | 162cm
Medium Utility

Key strengths: Contested ball, clearances, goal sense, versatility

There might not be much of Hewett at 162cm, but the talented utility can play anywhere on the field. She knows how to win the ball inside or outside, reads it well in the air or ground level, and whilst she does her best work in close, can play as an outside player too. There are questions over where she will slot in at AFLW level, and she does have to learn to find the ball more often, but that is only because she can do so much damage with ball-in-hand, be it winning it in close and distributing it to the outside, using it in transition, or finding it close to goal and hitting the scoreboard. Whatever she ends up becoming, Hewett is one of the more underrated prospects in this year’s draft given Queensland’s lack of AFLW Under 19 Championships, but no doubt the two Queensland clubs eyes are all over her given her performances at QAFLW level.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

A Brisbane Lions Academy member, Hewett will likely be a third or fourth option for the Lions with Bella Smith being the other Academy member having had an impressive season this year. Brisbane has its own zone to pick players from, so the Wilston Grange product will find a way there, and it will be interesting to see how the Lions chose to utilise her.

#32 Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
20/11/2003 | 176cm
Tall Utility

Key strengths: Versatility, X-factor, athleticism, marking

A player with plenty of upside, Houtsma becomes the remarkable fifth Falcon in the top 18 players showing just how deep the Falcons’ side was this season. She does not need to win a lot of the ball to have an impact, her Houtsma’s athleticism across the ground as a 176cm enabling her to play on a wing, or in a key position player at either end. Strong overhead, and able to win it at ground level, Houtsma attacks the ball at speed on a lead, and generally uses it well when in possession. Still ironing out consistency within games, the versatile utility has already spent time at centre half-back, centre half-forward and on the wing, which is a huge feather in the cap for the teenager.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #19

AFLW Draft notes:

Much like her Falcons teammate Feathertson, Houtsma is one who could bolt or slide given her raw attributes, but she has a lot to like about her game. A player who could be taken second round onwards, Houtsma represents value for any side that picks her up given her size, athleticism and versatility. Geelong might look at her, with the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda bringing plenty of youth through their programs, and Collingwood looking for a versatile tall.

#33 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
12/12/2003 | 190cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

The towering ruck/forward AFL Women’s Academy season makes it into the top 20 on the back of a solid overall season. Whilst she still needs to work on clunking more grabs above her head, Gillard’s work around the ground and ability to get to repeat contests for a ruck and running as a midfielder is really impressive. Often towering over her opponents, Gillard moves incredibly well, and is a tall that teammates are not afraid to use in transition, as she rotated between the ruck and full forward to average 11.3 disposals and 14.1 hitouts, as well as a couple of inside 50s per game. A December birth, Gillard has plenty of upside that with time could develop into a damaging tall.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #20

AFLW Draft notes:

With Campbell already off to the Dees, Gillard looms as the best ruck prospect in the Victorian pool. She can play as a key forward too, and standing at 190cm, she is also clearly the tallest prospect in the AFLW Draft pool. Whilst still rounding out her game, Gillard is one who clubs could pounce on early, with the AFL Women’s Academy member having developed over the past few years, and has plenty of scope for the future. Carlton could be prime for Gillard as a tall target, with Western Bulldogs also likely to want to grab a tall, whist Collingwood would snap her up pretty quick if available given she fits the Magpies’ exact need.

Sarah Lakay

#34 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
20/02/2003 | 186cm
Ruck

Key strengths: Ruck work, vertical leap, marking, defensive pressure

The standout West Australian ruck and a big improver in this year’s AFLW Draft crop, Lakay has come a long way in the past 12 months. From a basketball background, it is no surprise to hear of Lakay’s athleticism, and it was certainly no shock to see her smash the vertical jump records at the recent AFLW Draft Combine. Lakay is a high leaper with clean hands and great upside, able to tap the ball to advantage for her teammates. She is strong overhead, and good at ground level with great defensive pressure, and despite needing to improve her endurance to impact for longer, Lakay has plenty of potential to become a first choice ruck at AFLW level at 186cm.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

West Coast will likely use one of its two picks in the second round to pick up Lakay, especially if paired up with Rowley and Thomas. If the Eagles land Franklin, Lakay may slip to the Dockers who are more than happy to add another talented tall to their list, but both clubs would be very keen to pick up the athletic ruck.

#35 Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Queensland)
05/10/2003 | 167cm
Inside Midfielder

Key strengths: Strength, power, contested ball, clean hands, inside game

The fact Smith is potentially the sixth best player in the Queensland pool speaks volumes for the state and its footballing programs. The hardened inside midfielder could easily be rated in the top few, such is the evenness of the overall pool, with her inside game the second best behind top pick, Levi. She does not quite have the outside game that others do, but her contested ball-winning ability, clearance work and strength is what makes her the player she is. Able to dominate on the inside and extract the ball to the outside, Smith is the prototype inside midfielder and one who could play from early on in her career. She has the power to create separation from her opponents, and can distribute well by hand when exiting the congestion.

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Another Brisbane Lions Academy member, it does not matter what order the Lions take them in, but they have a plethora of great youngsters to pick up, and Smith will only add to their inside brigade.

#36 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Ruck/Key Forward

Key strengths: Ruck work, penetrating kick, contested marking, competitiveness

Whilst the rucks so far in this Power Rankings have been athletic talents who utilise their around the ground speed and vertical leap to impact the contest, whereas Morphett offers a different skillset. Whilst able to still leap high, it is her body positioning and strength that helps her beat opponents, and despite not being as athletic as some of the others, she is the best contested mark of the rucks, and her competitiveness in the air or at ground level is superb. The other way Morphett has an advantage is her ability to play forward, where she can clunk contested marks and unleash her penetrating kick to effect. Being a part of the GIANTS Academy and NSW-ACT zone, Morphett is one who fits a need for the GIANTS as another tall, and would be more likely to start as a key forward and pinch-hit in the ruck.

State-based Pool Ranking (NSW-ACT): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

The GWS GIANTS may well read Morphett’s name out first given the Murray Bushrangers talent is the top pick in their Academy, but either way her name will come off the board, with the AFLW Academy member a player capable of impacting from early on, and working alongside Erin McKinnon at the GIANTS.

Keeley Sherar

#37 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
29/10/2003 | 170cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: X-factor, upside, clearances, tackling

The Eastern Ranges talent was one who really stepped up in 2021 after only managing the one game in the shortened season last year, so not much was known about what she was capable of. Sherar not only stepped up to be a prime ball-mover for the Ranges – particularly in the absence of Olivia Meagher in the second half of the season and Tarni Brown after she was drafted last year – but earned a Vic Metro jumper for her troubles. Averaging 14.8 disposals, 3.4 inside 50s and 4.8 tackles, Sherar is a forward runner with great tackling skills and extraction out of the contest, can move the ball quickly and get it inside 50 well to set up scoring opportunities. One to watch who can add a point of difference to a midfield.

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #21

AFLW Draft notes:

At this stage it is hard to work out where players might end up, with Sherar heading to the Pies in our Draft Central Phantom Draft. Eastern Ranges have a good relationship with the Magpies, and expect Collingwood to consider the midfielder, with Melbourne having some good value picks, and St Kilda also looking for a midfielder on the inside with some good pace to send Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith to the outside.

#38 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
06/03/2003 | 171cm
Medium Defender/Wing

Key strengths: Skills, composure, versatility, reading the play

A medium defender who runs off half-back, hits up targets and then roams along a wing, Vickers is a player with some great upside, and is another Oakleigh Chargers’ premiership player. She averaged the 13.5 disposals, 3.3 tackles and a well-balanced two inside 50s and rebound 50s per game, such was her ability to cover the ground. The Chargers did not see as much of it in their defence as other teams, so Vickers had to hold a high line at times and be that kick behind the ball ready to intercept. She is not a renowned marker, but she is one to receive the handball and go, and uses the ball well in transition. Still developing areas of her game, as an overall prospect Vickers has some great talent

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #22

AFLW Draft notes:

Like Sherar, it is difficult to exactly calculate where Vickers might land given the amount of even talent at this point in the draft, but the skilful defender and outside runner is likely to have a number of possibilities. The Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Melbourne are all teams that like to play quickly with speed, so Vickers would be a name to watch out for there.

#39 Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)
04/11/2003 | 168cm
Inside Midfielder/Forward

Key strengths: Contested ball, inside game, defensive pressure, endurance

Venning is a player who enjoyed a terrific season, not only standing out for West Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s, and representing South Australia at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, but picking up a host of accolades along the way. Venning won All-Australian honours as well as the West Adelaide best and fairest – claiming the latter ahead of teammate and league best and fairest winner Lauren Young – to be one of the more consistent players all season. With the Crows having so much strength at their disposal, and a smaller draft pool, Venning is one who has shown enough to be on a list, and it will come down to list spots and preferences. Her inside game and defensive pressure is superb, and whilst still working on her kicking, Venning has improved over the past couple of years, and has a great balance of athleticism between endurance, speed and agility to impress at the top level.

State-based Pool Ranking (South Australia): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

Following the announcement of the finalised AFLW Draft order, Adelaide only had three selections in its hand, and Venning is considered the fourth one in these rankings. However it indicates where Venning would go in an open draft, and could easily be sourced by interstate clubs, or indeed picked ahead of one of the other three if the Crows find the need for Venning’s role.

Makaela Tuhakaraina

#40 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle/Western Australia)
23/08/2003 | 158cm
Small Utility

Key strengths: Acceleration, agility, power, defensive pressure

A raw potential player with huge upside, Tuharakaina is another West Australian who has come on in leaps and bounds the past 12 months. Cementing her self in South Fremantle’s best side from a rugby background, Tuhakaraina’s acceleration and agility is hard to beat, and the combination might be the best of anyone in the AFLW Draft pool. Despite standing at 158cm, Tuhakaraina is able to do a lot of damage by breaking up the opposition defensive zones, and she can play in any third of the ground. Often up forward running from a high half-forward inside 50, Tuhakaraina is still developing fundamentals of her game which is understandable, but her power and ability to burn off opponents gives clubs a raw canvas to work with going forward. With her defensive ability and offensive switch to burst away, she is a talent who will naturally catch the eye.

State-based Pool Ranking (Western Australia): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

Both clubs could do with her athletic profile, and she is ranked sixth here in this Power Rankings, but she could easily go higher with what she could become. Tuhakaraina might not have the game-on-game consistency of some of the others above her, but her sheer talent and upside would have both West Coast and Fremantle assessing their options.

Others:

Victorian Pool:

Holding the next two places in our rankings from Victoria are GWV Rebels’ Chloe Leonard and Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin. Top-age talents Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell and Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher are thereabouts, as is Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke, and AFLW Academy member Maykaylah Appleby. GWV Rebels’ Tahlia Meier, Oakleigh Chargers’ Eliza James, Gippsland Power’s Grace Matser, Calder Cannons’ Zali Friswell, Geelong Falcons’ Elizabeth Dowling and Dandenong Stingrays’ Ash Richards are others in contention.

Western Jets’ Jemima Woods, Casey Demons’ Imogen Milford, Eastern Ranges’ Cadhla Schmidli and Northern Knights’ Tarrah Delgado round out the AFLW Draft Combine invites who have the most interest. From a non-Combine invited look, Essendon’s Alana Barba, Collingwood duo Imogen Barnett and Matilda Zander – and as an outside roughy after a good year Marla Neal – are those who might be considered to make the step up, as North Melbourne’ Molly Eastman and Southern Saints’ Tara Bohanna have also enjoyed good seasons.

The Power Rankings do not include past AFLW players who are a chance of regaining a chance such as retirees who have backflipped to return playing such as Tegan Cunningham and Leah Kaslar, and ex-North Melbourne now Essendon VFLW skipper Georgia Nanscawen. Hawthorn VFLW also have plenty of players worthy of another chance, with the likes of Georgia Bevan, Nadia von Bertouch and Kristy Stratton among those in the brown and gold able to step in and make an immediate impact. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing both crossed from their respective clubs to run around with Casey Demons in the hope of being redrafted.

From a Tasmanian perspective, top-age talents Ella Maurer and Jemma Webster, as well as consistent draft-eligible talents Jemma Blair, Amy Prokopiec and Amy Bissett would be among those who have done the most to put their hands up for North Melbourne (and the wider Victorian pool).

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POOL:

South Adelaide speedster Tahlita Buethke, Central District powerful forward Lauren Breguet and small forward/midfielder with the deadly left foot in Abbie Ballard are all very even in terms of whether they might get called up to the Crows or a club takes a look interstate. Ruck Leah Cutting is one you would expect to attract interest from interstate with Collingwood, Western Bulldogs and the West Australian teams always able to add another tall to the mix.

WEST AUSTRALIAN POOL:

East Fremantle’s Chloe Reilly is next in line out west, with mature-age left foot forward Tessa Doumanis, defender Emily Bennett and slick utility Melisha Hardy among the even contingent being considered. Peel Thunder duo Bella Mann and Beth Schilling have good scope for improvement, with Swan Districts duo Emma Nanut and Nyra Anderson and Claremont’s Matilda Dyke the other West Australians to keep an eye on. Norwood’s Jade Halfpenny has chosen West Australia as her nominating state and would be in the Top 60 overall as that athletic forward/midfielder, whilst VFLW talents North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Geelong’s Theresia Meissner are among the others having nominated the state. Sandringham Dragons’ Pia Staltari has nominated the state she grew up in and could be a slick ball user off half-back or on the outside for one of the West Australian sides.

QUEENSLAND POOL:

Giselle Davies is in the next few in our Power Rankings, with the Queenslander a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, and could even be taken in those first few picks. The Suns also have access to the Northern Territory talent including AFLW Academy member Ashanti Bush, and talented, athletic Grace Mulvahil who also would have made it into the Top 50 of the Power Rankings. The 20-year-old Bella Clarke received a Combine invite, as did mature-age Madison Goodwin and Steph O’Brien, whilst Brisbane Lions Academy members Christine Okesene and Casey Wynne are also in the mix to be picked up after their invites.

NSW-ACT POOL:

In our Phantom Draft, top-age tackling machine Brodee Mowbray found her way to the GIANTS and would be next in line with the talented forward in Georgie Fowler. The GIANTS have a number of late picks and with no competition for the Pool, could look to other top-age talents Maddy Hendrie or Teagan Germech who also received and AFLW Draft Combine invite.

2021 AFLW Draft preview: Adelaide – Gold Coast

ONE more sleep remains until the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft and the 14 clubs are preparing to welcome a host of new players into the elite system. Draft Central has split its club-by-club draft previews into two parts, starting with the first seven clubs of Adelaide to Gold Coast in this edition, with the GWS GIANTS through to the Western Bulldogs published tomorrow morning. We take a look at the selections your club has, and some of the names who could replace outgoing players, or add something new to the table.

ADELAIDE:

Picks: 17, 20, 34

The Crows enter the draft with three selections, and an abundance of talent at their disposal. Going all the way to the AFL Women’s Grand Final for the third time, the Crows do not need a great deal of anything in particular, and more can grab best available talent. With Rhiannon Metcalfe ruled inactive for the 2022 season, it opens the door for Zoe Prowse to come in, with fellow AFLW Academy member Gypsy Schirmer capable of playing a similar role to the outgoing Chloe Scheer as well. Both players are expected to take up two of the Crows’ three selections.

From there it gets a little tougher, but there are five genuine South Australian options who could fill roles, with Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon – SANFLW premiership player and late addition to the AFLW Academy post-championships – and Zoe Venning – All-Australian and West Adelaide best and fairest winner – the two front runners. Tahlita Buethke adds a point of difference and could be that athletic type the Crows swoop on, whilst Lauren Breguet is a powerful forward that could play the Scheer role if Schirmer is destined for another position, and Abbie Ballard being that pinpoint left foot mid-forward with hardness.

BRISBANE:

Picks: 18, 35, 46, 53, 58

Brisbane coming off its inaugural flag has a fair bit of experience out the door with captain Emma Zielke and the experienced Lauren Arnell among the retirements, as well as Jordan Zanchetta and Rheanne Lugg also departing. They picked up Phoebe Monahan as a free agent from the Tigers, but will be looking to top up with some terrific talent around the field. Luckily for the Lions, their Academy is brimming with talent. AFL Women’s Academy members Maggie Harmer and Mikayla Pauga are the two names at the top of the list, with Harmer a half-back with a capacity to push up to a wing thanks to her strong running power, and Pauga a clever half-forward with clean hands and a nous for goals.

Outside those two, the likes of Bella Smith and Abby Hewett standout, with Smith that inside bull who will put her body on the line each and every contest, while Hewett can play wherever is required from inside, to outside, forward to back, and has versatility very few have. The quartet have been the standout players this season, with Queensland captain and half-back Christine Okesene a chance with her booming boot, and Casey Wynne another member of the Academy who received an AFLW Draft Combine invite. Steph O’Brien is a mature-age tall with a long netball career.

CARLTON:

Picks: 10, 11, 23, 26, 39

Carlton had a busy trade period, and not in terms of incoming players. They lost serious experience in overhauling the list, as Alison Downie, Katie Loynes, Tayla Harris and Jess Hosking all left, though Jess Dal Pos joined the Navy Blues to regain a bit of readymade experience. Whilst the Blues have Pick 10 and Pick 11 in the overall draft, it equates to Pick 6 and Pick 7 in the Victorian pool. Expect the Blues to pick up a tall and a small with the selections if available, with a midfielder on their radar. Whilst unlikely to slip through two Geelong picks, Tess Craven would be high up on the radar to replace Hosking, with Tara Slender and Ella Friend two key position talls who could play the versatile – even more so – role that Harris did.

With a couple of handy mid-20s picks as well, the Blues would look at Tahlia Gillard – at either set of picks – if Slender and Friend are both unavailable – whilst Stella Reid and Brooke Vickers are a couple of slick ball users that the Blues could bring in. For their last selection, the Blues might grab an experienced VFLW player such as Meagan Kiely, Brooke Hards or Alana Barba to immediately fill a hole through the middle, with the Blues known for picking up other VFLW teams’ players.

COLLINGWOOD:

Picks: 29, 32, 33

The Magpies are coming off a great season, getting within a kick of an AFLW Grand Final and pushing the eventual premiers Brisbane all the way. The Magpies will be in and out of the draft quickly once they start, with three consecutive picks in the Victorian pool. Collingwood will almost certainly look to bring in a tall option given the retirements of Sharni Norder and Abbey Green, though Sabrina Frederick and Alison Downie coming into the side gives them some cover in that area. They might want a tall forward option who can roll through the ruck as a long-term solution, which means Tahlia Gillard is a potential player who they bring in, though they could also look internally at VFLW leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett who is right under the Magpies’ nose.

Other Collingwood VFLW players who have stepped up this year include Jasmine Ferguson and Marla Neal, with Matilda Zander and Olivia Meagher among the most consistent talents for the black and white. From a NAB League Girls perspective, the Eastern Ranges and Oakleigh Chargers have a good connection with Collingwood, and Keeley Sherar or Brooke Vickers could be options for the Magpies. Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser, or Dandenong Stingrays forward Ashleigh Richards are others who could fill needs for the Pies. Ex-Demon Tegan Cunningham is a readymade Round 1 replacement inside 50 as a forward/ruck.

FREMANTLE:

Picks: 14, 31, 38, 44, 52, 57

Fremantle has a lot of list options with six selections given he high volume of outs compared to ins over the trade period. Sabreena Duffy and Ashley Sharp are unavailable next season, with a further five players also exiting the club without bringing anyone in, meaning the Dockers have plenty of room for a mix of youth and experience. The big question mark will be whether or not they go tall or small at their first selection, with West Coast having first dibs on a West Australian prospect. The Eagles are tipped to go Courtney Rowley, which means the Dockers would lean to key position utility Amy Franklin. If the Eagles pick up Franklin, the Dockers will grab Rowley, though Charlotte Thomas is the other possibility, with the AFLW Academy member missing the majority of the 2021 season through a wrist injury.

After their first selection, the Dockers will have a fair bit of free rein at the back-end of the West Australian Pool, with five of the last six picks in that Pool. Dana East is a talented inside midfielder who could be still on the board at the Dockers’ second selection, with Sarah Lakay a ruck potential if the Eagles do not snap her up first. Jade Halfpenny is a Norwood talent choosing to take a chance in Western Australia and is readymade to impact inside 50, whilst Emily Bennett, Bella Mann and Beth Schilling can all play behind the football, and Nyra Anderson and Tessa Doumanis inside 50. Chloe Reilly is a versatile utility with potential to step up to the next level, whilst North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Geelong’s Thereisa Meissner are those from the VFLW opting to head west.

GEELONG:

Picks: 2, 7, 9, 15

Geelong will be quick to finish off its draft given the Cats hold four picks inside the first nine Victorian selections. Knowing they have the first Victorian pick, they will be able to replace the experience like retiring Aasta O’Connor, and a dozen of delisted players headlined by Richelle Cranston. Olivia Purcell headed to the Dees, and Denby Taylor will sit out the year, whilst Chantel Emonson and Chloe Scheer provide much needed experience back into the line-up. Holding the first pick in the AFLW Draft, the favourite is Calder Cannons Georgie Prespakis, who will immediately provide an improvement to the onball brigade, also able to play forward as a strong one-on-one player. She is tipped to be the one chosen at the selection given her standout season, and following in the footsteps of sister Maddison.

As for the remaining three Geelong selections, a tall is tipped to be somewhere in there, with Ella Friend and Tara Slender both likely to be on the radar, whilst a handful of Geelong Falcons would be considered. Tess Craven is a name that jumps off the page, but whether or not the inside midfielder is still there, is yet to be seen, but another few choices include defender Annie Lee and clean forward/mid Poppy Schaap, with Gabbi Featherston another potential local pick. If looking for an additional ruck, Tahlia Gillard is one the Cats might turn to with their final selection.

GOLD COAST:

Picks: 1, 6, 8, 30

Gold Coast kick off proceedings tomorrow night and should have a fairly predictable draft hand for the first two selections. Sally Riley, Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar all departed the club, with experience such as Jordann Hickey among a host of delisted players. St Kilda’s Claudia Whitfort and North Melbourne’s Vivien Saad came into the fold late, and left the Suns with four selections – as well as the opportunity to pick a couple of mature-age talents if required. The first pick is predicted to be Oakleigh Chargers’ Charlie Rowbottom who opted to go to Queensland ahead of her home state Victoria, and the Suns will duly reward her with the first pick in the draft. The other consideration is Suns Academy member Teagan Levi, with both players being talented inside midfielders who can impact with their size around the stoppages.

With the first two selections done and dusted, the Suns have some choices after that, with key defender Giselle Davies one player who might get chosen for Gold Coast as a tall option, whilst Madison Goodwin is another big-bodied midfielder who can impact. Having access to the Northern Territory zone, the Suns would consider 18-year-old Grace Mulvahil out of Southern Districts to provide some run and carry off half-back, whilst dangerous forward Ashanti Bush – eligible for an over-age selection – is another top prospect, with Bella Clarke – a 20-year-old who has come through the junior representative programs – the other AFLW Draft Combine invite this year.

2021 WAFLW Grand Final Preview

SECOND time’s a charm in the WAFL Women’s, as Peel Thunder and Swan Districts are finally set to square off in this year’s Grand Final. Having been rescheduled from last week due to West Australia’s lockdown, Saturday afternoon’s decider will see crowds allowed in attendance to watch this season’s top two ranked sides battle it out for premiership glory.

We run you through all the key players, figures, and fixtures in our Grand Final preview.

2021 WAFLW GRAND FINAL

Peel Thunder vs. Swan Districts
Saturday June 11, 3:15pm
David Grays Arena, Mandurah

Records:
Peel – 2nd, 10-5, 154.64%
Swans – 1st 14-1, 211.83%

Finals:
Peel (1-0) – def. Swan Districts by 5
Swans (1-1) – def. by Peel Thunder by 5 | def. Subiaco by 38

Last 5:
Peel – 3-2
Swans – 3-2

2021 H2H:
Round 3 – Peel Thunder 5.8 (38) def. by Swan Districts 10.6 (66)
Round 11 – Swan Districts 6.6 (42) def. Peel Thunder 6.5 (41)
Round 14 – Peel Thunder 6.3 (39) def. Swan Districts 2.6 (18)
Finals Wk 1 – Swan Districts 0.11 (11) def. by Peel Thunder 2.4 (16)

Saturday’s clash marks the fifth time Peel and Swans have met in season 2021, with the ledger squared at 2-2. Swan Districts, the minor premiers, got the wood over the reigning premiers early with wins in Rounds 3 and 11, before the Thunder proved they could peak at the right team with redemptive victories in Round 14 and the first week of finals.

The latter result saw Peel advance straight to the big dance, with the club seeking to win consecutive premierships from second place. Meanwhile, Swans made good on their second chance, qualifying for the season’s final game after a 38-point win over Subiaco.

Looking at either sides’ last five outings, and the only blemish on Swans’ latest efforts have been made by their weekend opponents. In fact, the Black Ducks’ sole loss of the regular season came at the hands of Peel. The Thunder, also 3-2 over their last five games, have suffered those losses to fellow finalists Subiaco and Claremont. While the defending champions look ominous at their best, Leigh MatthewsPredator-inspired adage goes “if it bleeds, we can kill it” – and Swan Districts will likely have that in mind.

Both sides have also proven they can score big this year. Only confirming just how evenly matched they are, both finished the season with 716 points-for – almost 200 points more than the next best team. Needless to say, whichever set of forwards can better capitalise on their opportunities will have a massive say on this contest, though neither side can be counted out given the class afield and quick-scoring potential.

THE EXPERIENCE SPECTRUM

As has been the case all year, these two teams will be littered with players on both ends of the experience spectrum. AFLW-listed stars and Under 19 state squad members headline some of the high-end talent afield, making for intriguing team dynamics and versatile structures.

Peel boasts an all-Fremantle AFLW centreline, with star midfielder Sabreena Duffy at the heart of the side while Sarah Verrier and Katie Jayne Grieve line up on either wing. The extended Swans squad also features a trio of Dockers, namely Stephanie Cain (half-forward), Bianca Webb (rover), and Mikayla Hyde (wing). Brianna Hyde has been named on the opposite wing, as one of the many promising Under 19 state representatives to watch.

It is hard to look past Peel powerhouse Ella Roberts as the main event in that department, given she is already a proven finals match-winner at WAFLW level. The 16-year-old was also named her state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) during this year’s national carnival, and will spearhead her side’s attack alongside Kate Bartlett. The speedy Aisha Wright has been named alongside Roberts at half-forward, while AFLW Draft Combine invitee Beth Schilling features on the interchange with Jaide Britton.

Bella Mann and Emily Gunton (both emergencies) are other youngsters to have rolled through the Thunder’s line-up, while All Australian midfielder Courtney Rowley is set to miss through injury. Tajah Griffiths, Jade Briggs, Naomi Wilson are Peel’s remaining Under 19 squad members to miss.

The Swans squad is littered with young talent, and bookended by Sarah Lakay (full forward) and Isabella Edgley (full back). Melisha Hardy and Nyra Anderson join Edgley in defence, while Dana East takes her spot in the centre in a tricky match-up with Duffy. The Under 19 crop is rounded out by Emma Nanut, Tara Stribley, and Naomi Barker, who will all hope to make the cut from a nine-player extended bench.

Image Credit: @WAFLOfficial via Twitter

2021 Draft Central AFLW Draft Top/Mature Age Team to Watch

BE it 19-year-old talents who for one reason or another missed out last year, or mature-age players who have put together breakout seasons, there are plenty of player vying for a spot on an AFL Women’s list. The AFL Women’s Draft occurs on July 27, and plenty of players from almost 19 to 29-year-olds, we have put together a team of players who are in contention for this year’s draft. We have also named a number of others who are also in contention beyond the 24-player limit. The team features only 2002-born or prior players.

BACKS:
Emily Bennett (Claremont/WA)Matilda Dyke (Claremont/WA)Teagan Germech (Belconnen/NSW-ACT)

The deepest three features a Claremont duo who have put together a couple of good seasons, with Emily Bennett providing some one-on-ones and ability to hit targets further afield, and Matilda Dyke being a lockdown player who can move around the ground and not only intercept but provide some drive as proven at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Teagan Germech is a tall who not only can run off half-back, but provide an intercepting option and one who could roll into the ruck as well as she does at the Magpies.

HALF-BACKS:
Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights/Victoria)Maddy Hendrie (UNSW/NSW-ACT)Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs/Victoria)

Chaplin is capable of playing inside or off half-back, providing good versatility as one of the more consistent ball-winners in the NAB League this season. As a year older, Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin showed her experience throughout the season, having opted to head back to the junior age comp then progress into the VFL Women’s. Going straight there was Western Bulldogs’ Brooke Hards who went from being that predominant inside midfielder to a bit of everywhere, but has settled on half-back as someone who can provide great run and carry and uses it well going forward. The other tall rounding out the back six is NSW-ACT’s Maddy Hendrie, a versatile utility for Sydney Swans Academy.

CENTRES:
Tahlita Buethke (South Adelaide/South Australia)Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers/Victoria)Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels/Victoria)

Through the middle there is a mix of speed, hardness and versatility with a trio of 19th-year prospects running around. On one wing is South Adelaide’s Tahlita Buethke who has one of the best athletic profiles going around with her blistering speed and strong endurance. On the other wing is the versatile Chloe Leonard who could play off half-back, inside or outside, and had an ultra-consistent season for the GWV Rebels in NAB League Girls before representing Geelong in the VFLW. In the centre is Oakleigh Chargers’ best on ground in the grand final, Amanda Ling who has a nice balance of inside and outside traits, as well as consistency.

HALF-FORWARDS:
Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers/Victoria)Imogen Milford (Casey Demons/Victoria)Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne/Tasmania)

Three players who have run around at VFL Women’s level – and two as permanent fixtures this season – start off the forward line. The youngest is top-age talent Elizabeth Snell who has represented Essendon as well as Bendigo Pioneers and Vic Country, playing as a midfielder who can go forward and provide great pressure as well as creativity inside 50. North Melbourne’s Sarah Skinner is one of the top mature-age prospects going around, hailing from Tasmania and stepping up in the VFLW to go from a reliable goalkicker to a dominant midfielder. Imogen Milford finished second in the VFLW goalkicking and is still young and developing as a 190cm key position talent.

FORWARDS:
Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)Imogen Barnett (Collingwood/Victoria) Sophie Locke (Port Melbourne/Victoria)

A real mix of sizes and versatilities rounds out the forward line, with VFL Women’s leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett hardly putting a foot wrong, and putting her hand up as a key position mature-age option. She is flanked by another VFLW player in Sophie Locke, with the ex-Murray Bushrangers talent and now Port Melbourne goalkicker leading the goalkicking at the midway point of the season prior to injury. She can also play in defence as she did for Vic Country a couple of years ago, whilst Abbie Ballard is a pocket rocket with a potent left foot who can play midfield or up forward and provide some high-level pressure, as well as scoreboard impact when running around at SANFLW level for the Bloods.

RUCKS:
Leah Cutting (Norwood/South Australia)Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne/Victoria)Dana East (Swan Districts/Western Australia)

The two oldest players in this team are onball, with 29-year-old Leah Cutting the most readymade of any AFLW Draft Combine invite to slot straight into a ruck spot. She was the clear choice for the role in this team, as was North Melbourne’s Meagan Kiely for the ruck rover spot. Kiely was the most dominant ball-winner in the VFLW, and played consistently well each and every week to be amongst the best player in the competition, with the Tasmanian having relocated to Victoria. She is joined in the side by Swan Districts’ Dana East, whose transformation onball at WAFLW level this season has been sensational and really put her hand up for the AFLW Draft.

INTERCHANGE:
Nyra Anderson (Swan Districts/Western Australia)Ashanti Bush (Hawthorn/Northern Territory)Tessa Doumanis (Claremont/Western Australia)Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Victoria) … Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power/NSW-ACT)Christine Okesene (Yeronga/Queensland)

The interchange is always the hardest place to pick as it rounds out the side with plenty more still capable of fitting in. Alphabetically-listed on the bench, there are a couple of West Australians in Nyra Anderson and Tessa Doumanis – both of whom do their best work forward, whilst Ashanti Bush is a classy AFLW Academy member inside 50. Brodee Mowbray is a tackling machine through midfield, with Olivia Meagher expanding her game to play outside this year to go with her inside talents, and Christine Okesene able to play off half-back or through the midfield.

OTHERS:

A few other names who were in contention for a spot include Queensland duo Madison Goodwin and Steph O’Brien, and Northern Territory’s Bella Clarke who all received AFLW Draft Combine invites. In Tasmania, Ella Maurer put together a consistent season, with Matilda Zander and Alana Barba the next two VFLW players to keep an eye on. Over in Western Australia, Jess Low is one known for winning the ball and having an impact, whilst Jade Halfpenny has developed into a versatile tall in the SANFLW for Norwood.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S 2021 TOP/MATURE AGE TEAM TO WATCH:

B: Emily Bennett (CL/WA) – Matilda Dyke (CL/WA) – Teagan Germech (Belconnen/NSW-ACT)
HB: Maeve Chaplin (NK/VIC) – Maddy Hendrie (UNSW/NSW-ACT) – Brooke Hards (WB/VIC)
C: Tahlita Buethke (SA/SA) – Amanda Ling (OC/VM) – Chloe Leonard (GWV/VC)
HF: Elizabeth Snell (BP/VIC) – Imogen Milford (CD/VIC) – Sarah Skinner (NM/TAS)
F: Abbie Ballard (WA/SA) – Imogen Barnett (CM/VIC) – Sophie Locke (PM/VIC)
R: Leah Cutting (NW/SA) – Meagan Kiely (NM/VIC) – Dana East (SD/WA)
INT: Nyra Anderson (SD/WA) – Ashanti Bush (HAW/NT) – Tessa Doumanis (CL/WA) – Olivia Meagher (CM/VIC) – Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power/NSW-ACT) – Christine Okesene (Yeronga/QLD)

Swan Districts book rematch with Thunder after reaching 2021 WAFLW Grand Final

SWAN Districts have utilised their double chance to secure a rematch with reigning premiers Peel Thunder in the 2021 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final after defeating Subiaco by 38 points in yesterday’s preliminary final. The Swans only led by a point at quarter time and four points at the main break, but booted five goals to zero after half-time, restricting Subiaco’s chances with a strong defence, then being able to capitalise on the scoreboard during the 7.8 (50) to 1.6 (12) win.

After not scoring a major last week, it was crucial that the minor premiers got on the board in a big way early, and they did that through goalsneak Nyra Anderson who was calm and composed from close range. It came after some neat play down the field from Bella Edgley to Bianca Webb to set up the goal, and the home team were on the board. Not long after, Hayley Corlett got on the end of a similarly impressive team play, to put one through with an open goalsquare.

Both teams had their chances early with McKenzie Dowrick and Dana East impacting through the midfield for their respective sides, and Mikayla Hyde looking classy in the forward half. Edgley was providing a target at half-forward and Tara Stribley almost added her name to the goalkickers list running back to goal, but a huge defensive effort from Taylisha Brown – who earlier set up the Corlett goal – forced a rushed behind and the favourites heading into the break with a one-point lead.

Dowrick continued her form into the second quarter, thumping it inside 50, but the likes of Lauren Osborne, Eliza Gelmi and captain Emily McGuire were a wall in defence. It almost looked like the Hyde sisters – Mikayla and Brianna – Anderson and Edgley were going to create something out of nothing, as the latter sold some candy to Claire Ortlepp but just missed the quick kick after. Soon it was Taylah Edwards that created something out of nothing from a stoppage with a snap around her body bouncing home midway through the quarter to hand her side a buffer at the break. The Lions almost had a chance to level the scores off the boot of Dowrick on the side, but it missed to the left.

The Subiaco forward line had looked good in the first half, with debutant Madison Dodd playing deep and the likes of Kia Buckley and Jamie Rust in the vicinity. But the experience of the Swan Districts defence was always going to come to the fore, and it did so in the second half, when they ramped up the pressure. Mikayla Hyde set the tone in the opening 30 seconds, going for a mark knowing she was going to get crunched, and then having a snap on goal not long after. The pressure was overwhelming and soon Anderson had her second on the run with a clever goal thanks to some quick thinking from youngsters Stribley and Abbygail Bushby inside 50.

With the forward half dominance, Swans captain McGuire pushed up to create an extra number, and produced an uncharacteristic wobbler off the boot, but it proved effective, sailing home midway through the term. She returned to centre half-back after the goal, but continued to look dangerous around the forward 50 when her team was in possession. Subiaco had a golden chance to score a major through Buckley at the top of the square, but the young talent missed under pressure. Hayley Miller was trying to will her side on, and the defence through Ortlepp was holding up. Though the Lions still found themselves three goals down at the break and needing a spark.

Swan Districts could smell blood in the final term, as a costly 50m penalty for the Lions handed the home team and McGuire another goal, this time the easiest of the lot from the top of the square. When Sarah Wielstra got on the end of one from a clever East kick deep, the margin was out to 30 points and the game was done and dusted. Bushby had a chance herself nine minutes into the term but just missed the set shot to the left, though by this stage it was all inside Swan Districts forward line. The Swans held Subiaco scoreless in the final term, as McGuire bombed her remarkable third goal from 50m out to put a final nail in the coffin.

A shot in the final minute from Steph Cain, and then a thumping kick from Osborne tried to get their names on the goalkicking list after seeing McGuire’s heroics, but they were not to be. In the end, the siren sounded with the minor premiers winning by 38 points. McGuire was a standout at both ends, with Aimee Ralph, Gelmi and Osborne being steadfast back there. Cain was also instrumental, whilst the work of Edgley and Anderson inside 50 and the run of East and Stribley was noticeable. The Lions looked to Dowrick, Corlett and Miller as their standouts, though Brown and Dodd both had some nice moments in the game.

SWAN DISTRICTS 1.3 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 7.8 (50)
SUBIACO 1.2 | 1.5 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS: 

Swan Districts: E. McGuire 3, N. Anderson 2, S. Wielstra, T. Edwards.
Subiaco: H. Corlett.

BEST:

Swan Districts: A. Ralph, E. McGuire E. Gelmi, L. Osborne, S. Cain
Subiaco: M. Dowrick, H. Corlett, H. Miller, M. Dodd, T. Brown

 

Picture credit: Nick Cambridge Photography via Swan Districts

WAFLW preview – Preliminary Final: Swans and Lions to battle it out for grand final spot

TWO teams are one win away from reaching the 2021 West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final. The top of the table Swan Districts went down to Peel Thunder for the second time in a fortnight, forcing the Swans to utilise their double chance against a Subiaco side that turned the tables on Claremont a fortnight earlier. Now the Lions will hope to reach another grand final on the back of peaking at the right time of year and try and seek revenge on the Thunder who claimed their maiden premiership last year.

Focusing on Swan Districts first, the minor premiers will be keen to make sure they capitalise on a strong regular season, and have named an extended bench for Sunday’s clash. Fi Boucher adds extra experience to the team, with Naomi Baker a talent to keep an eye on also named back in the side. Shannon Matthews, Abbygail Bushby and Renee Holwill round out the five names in consideration for the final side, with only Imahra Cameron out of the team for the clash. For Subiaco, Kia Buckley is an important in, joining Tiah Toth and Madison Dodd as the other inclusions, with no omissions to speak of yet.

The midfield battle will be a fascinating one with young ruck Sarah Lakay testing herself up against Jessica Ritchie, whilst a couple of AFL Women’s players in Bianca Webb and Hayley Miller could go head-to-head. Dana East and Jessica Cox round out the Swan Districts’ onball brigade, looking to lock horns with their more experienced opponents in Tarnica Golisano and Lara Filocamo. The Swans’ midfield is star-studded with the experience of Mikayla Hyde and Steph Cain on the wings, whilst Maggie MacLachlan is another elite level player running around for the Lions.

Inside 50 for the Lions, Amy Hunt, McKenzie Dowrick and Jamie Rust are targets teammates can look for, up against the likes of Emily McGuire, Aimee Ralph and Eliza Gelmi. With young guns Melisha Hardy and Jaime Henry also back there, the Swans’ defence is mighty impressive. Similarly up forward, Sarah Wielstra and Taylah Edwards know how to hit the scoreboard, with the run of Tara Stribley and class of Nyra Anderson also providing different dynamics in there. For Subiaco, Caitlin Walker did a good job on Ella Roberts last week and will be up for another big job in the preliminary final, whilst Jayme Harken, Claire Ortlepp and Tayla Thorogood are ever-reliable.

The depth coming off the bench could feature teenagers Brianna Hyde and Kloe Taylor for the Swans, with Buckley the one to watch for Subiaco. With reliable defender Lauren Osborne also capable of locking down on an opponent, the Swans have no shortage of players to call upon to do jobs. Based on the sides, whilst Subiaco have a strong team and are deserving to be in the final three, Swan Districts have stars across every line, and it is hard to see them dropping this game based on their regular season form.

Picture credit: WAFL

2021 AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Small Midfielders/Forwards/Defenders

AFTER announcing the inaugural AFLW Draft Power Rankings Victorian Pool, Draft Central is starting a new series – Positional Analysis. It takes a look across the nation and those players within a certain position, and the impact they have. Next up are those players at or below 160cm be it through the midfield, forward or in defence. All opinions are of the individual author.

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Defenders

#1 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)
25/09/2003 | 160cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Contested work, aggression, disposal, high impact

Bursting onto the scene as a 15-year-old during Calder Cannons’ run to the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Yassir played 11 games in her debut season to hold her own against much older opponents. In her top-age year, Yassir lifted her numbers to 16.7 disposals, 3.9 tackles and 3.1 inside 50s to be a crucial player in the Cannons’ forward half of the ground. Her contested work and aggression around the football makes her a player that would do anything to win the football and shows a high level of football nous, along with high impact in the games. She will generally use it well going forward, and whilst she might only be the 160cm, could settle as a midfielder or defensive forward with her traits and skillset.

#2 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
28/07/2003 | 153cm
Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Clean hands, goal sense, composure, accumulation

A really impressive small midfielder, Schaap might be the smallest one going around at 153cm, but she packs a punch and has some unbelievable traits. Her best trait is her clean hands, rarely making a fumble at ground level and able to dish off to teammates in order to create goal-scoring opportunities. As a forward, Schaap slotted eight goals in nine games, often finding space where few could to snap around her body in big moments. She also slotted three goals in her three Vic Country games at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and laid plenty pf tackles along the way. Her defensive pressure is right up there with her other key strengths, though it is hard to look past her ball-winning skills, composure and goal sense, and is a perfect pressure forward who can push up into the midfield.

#3 Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide/South Australia)
16/04/2002 | 160cm
Midfielder/Forward

Key strengths: Kicking, tackling, footy smarts, contested work

Only turning 19 earlier this year, Ballard captained West Adelaide into the 2021 SANFL Women’s Grand Final, stepping up to the plate after injury struck regular captain Bec Owen in the preliminary final. The teenager has experience beyond her years, having previously played at the national championships, and would have represented South Australia again in 2021 had it not been for injury. She has a potent left foot that is her major weapon around the ground, often going in hard and using it to go forward and hit targets. She has great footy smarts and can win the ball inside or out, but is lauded for her composure with ball-in-hand and able to pinpoint passes going inside 50. As a smaller player, Ballard is often able to win free kicks for being first to the ball and would apply great pressure at the next level.

#4 Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges/Collingwood VFLW)
21/12/2002 | 157cm
Balanced Midfielder

Key strengths: Contested work, balance, strength, accumulation

Another player who went back to her NAB League Girls club Eastern Ranges after missing out on being drafted despite a Draft Combine invite, Meagher spent three games with the Ranges before making the transition into Collingwood’s VFLW team. There she improved her versatility to play inside and outside after being a dominant contested ball-winner for the Ranges in 2020. She is damaging forward of centre, and despite not having high mark numbers, she is strong overhead for her sub-160cm size. She is someone who could play in transition between midfield and forward, and is a fierce player with a great attitude and would be one the Magpies – or another team – could consider calling up to their AFLW list.

#5 Matilda Zander (Collingwood VFLW)
03/04/1998 | 160cm
Midfielder/Forward

Key strengths: Accumulation, speed, competitiveness, goal sense

The tenacious small midfielder/forward finally made the cross-border trek to join the Magpies from Norwood after intending to do so in 2020. Her former coach Steve Symonds heads up the senior AFLW side, so Zander will be one that even when in South Australia caught the eye as a hard worker and one who can impact in the midfield or forward. She knows how to get into ball-winning positions, is highly competitive with good speed and evasion, and a great goal sense she can use to hit the scoreboard regularly. Not afraid to take down opponents bigger than her, Zander just has a crack, and she has those extra traits that make her capable of stepping up to the next level. Despite not having a AFLW Draft Combine invite expect her to be another player in contention.

#5 Tahlia Meier (GWV Rebels/Western Bulldogs VFLW)
19/10/2003 | 151cm
Forward/Midfielder

Key strengths: Speed, defensive pressure, versatility, contested work

The smallest player on this list and with an AFLW Draft Combine invite, Meier has come on in leaps and bounds this year. She has not only been able to hit the scoreboard as a forward, but progressed into the midfield where she finished the NAB League Girls season averaging 14.6 disposals, 2.6 marks and 3.0 tackles, as well as booting four goals in seven games. Stepping up to represent Vic Country, Meier did not look out of place back inside 50 and pushing up the ground, kicking three goals in her two outings. She has strong defensive pressure and good speed to evade opponents, with her contested work and versatility – being able to play both forward and midfield – a key to her success in 2021 and earning herself an AFLW Draft Combine invite.

#6 Melisha Hardy (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
24/04/2003 | 158cm
Defender

Key strengths: Competitiveness, one-on-ones, overhead marking, kicking

For a sub-160cm player, Hardy is strong overhead, and good in one-on-one situations against much taller opponents. There might not be much of her, but Hardy packs a punch with her competitive nature and impressive ability to never give in. She uses the ball well when having time and space, and whilst she is not a huge accumulator, she has a strong pair of hands and is able to intercept the ball both in the air, and at ground level. She is a reliable player to utilise, and she can even go forward and hit the scoreboard as she did at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Showing an ability to play around the ground, Hardy is superb at locking down on an opponent and refusing to be beaten.

#7 Nyra Anderson (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
24/11/2001 | 160cm
Utility

Key strengths: Evasion, goal sense, scoreboard impact, footy smarts

The oldest player at the 2021 AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, Anderson played as a top-ager a couple of years ago, and is now two years removed from her first draft-eligible season. That being said, Anderson continues to remain a name to watch, having been a train-on player at West Coast, and continuing to standout in the WAFLW. She is so crafty inside forward 50, with her ability to create her own space and punish opponents for turnovers, be it through a mark and set shot, or on the run. She has high-level football smarts and just knows where to go, having provided great leadership at the championships, and also been able to play back or through the midfield, such is her versatility.

WAFLW Eye-catchers: Week 1 Finals

WEEK one of the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s finals series was done and run over the weekend, and we took a look at a few of the players who received AFL Womens’ Draft Combine invites that caught the eye, particularly focusing on a mix of AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites and State Academy members, including those Under 17s. Here’s a selection of top performers with the notes opinion of the individual author.

SWAN DISTRICTS vs. PEEL THUNDER

By: Brooke Hards

Swan Districts:

#2 Tara Stribley

Stribley started the game with a strong run and carry along the right side of the wing with a quick kick inside their 50m. Third quarter we saw the speedy winger using her footy smarts making her way into their 50m that resulted in kicking a point but from smart play to try and snap it across her body.

#3 Dana East

A strong tackling inside midfielder, puts her head down in ball ups and tries to win it, fast when on her feet and can easily burst through packs. Throughout the game she showed off her clean hands to be able to distribute from the inside to the outside and keep the ball moving in transition. Whilst she has had bigger games, it is hard not to notice the talented midfielder who played her first WAFL Women’s final with her speed and toughness at the contest.

#16 Nyra Anderson

Outstanding hard tackler that brought almost every opponent to the ground, but is as fair as they come, a very respectful player against her opponents. She got caught high at one stage inside 50 and had a set shot on goal, but like her teammates uncharacteristically missed the set shot. Still applied good pressure when near the ball carrier.

#33 Sarah Lakay

The 186cm talent dominated the ruck with her tall vertical leap that was able to punch the ball forward giving the midfielders more of a chance to win it clearly out of the centre. Whilst being tall, Lakay was also very handy at ground level where she was able to hit it and make a contest if it did not go her team’s way.

#22 Kloe Taylor

A young talent with plenty of upside, Taylor has certainly caught the eye this year in the WAFL Women’s. Against Peel Thunder, Taylor showcased that she is a lovely mark and a great right footer who can hit targets with ease going forward.

Peel Thunder:

#5 Gracie Fenton

Good use of space where she can control both sides of the ground playing through the midfield. Using her endurance to be everywhere the ball is, her ability to keep working hard throughout the match a major key factor for herself and her team. One to watch for the future.

#8 Ella Roberts

There were a number of plays that showed how Roberts is a smart footballer. She won a free kick and popped it to her teammate on top of their 50m. Her first, second and third efforts inside their 50m trying to win the ball to have a shot at scoring, picked up the ball cleanly in their 50m with 30 seconds left in the first term, hands it off out in front with Katie Jayne Grieve running past who gets the hands and kicks their only goal for both sides in the first quarter. Early in the second term, Roberts got tackled whilst being able to hold herself up and bangs it on the boot close to the flank of their 50m and gives her team a scoring opportunity. Whilst she was not able to have the huge numbers she has had in the past due to being carefully watched, she still stood out with another impressive games.

#24 Aisha Wright

First quarter a free kick went to Wright who has a great penetrating kick and was able to pop it on the top of a group of her teammate’s heads. Whilst not a huge ball-winner, Wright is a pressure player who continues to look dangerous inside 50.

CLAREMONT vs. SUBIACO

By: Peter Williams

Claremont:

#15 Tessa Doumanis

The crafty forward who kicked a couple of goals last week early might not have had the same going in this game, but the wet conditions made life difficult for the left-footer. She set the tone early with a hard lead in the match, and had to work up to half-back in order to get near the ball as Subiaco dominated the early stages. A late 50m penalty in the first term almost cost her side but it was luckily only one behind. Her second quarter was more promising to start with, as she cleanly scooped it off the deck to open up inside 50, then missed a set shot from a tight angle which went to the left for one behind. She had another snap in the third term off a good one-two inside 50 but her snap also just missed. Taking a strong mark inside 50 midway through the third term, Doumanis was close to the boundary line but opted to pass off and it just fell short with the defence onto it, spoiling it away. She had another quick kick inside 50 late in the game but could only just get her boot to it due to the pressure.

#18 Amy Franklin

Having to wait up the opposite end to the ball in the first term, Franklin still had a clever tap in the opening quarter after being under pressure leading up to half-back, using good footy nous to not take possession and give her teammates a chance to run onto it. Her second quarter started with a bang, kicking a goal two and a half minutes into the term after nudging her opponent under the ball well in the one-on-one and running into an open goal. Midway through the term, Franklin was thrown into the ruck, where she spent substantial time throughout the game doing so, then when she went forward fared alright, matching up well with Caitlin Walker. She got caught behind her opponent early in the third term, but then got in front for a flying attempt she could not quite bring down in the quarter, then did a similar thing early in the fourth term only to be spoiled. She won a free kick late in the game and hit up Kate Orme well. Overall an okay game but not favourable to tall forwards.

#26 Matilda Dyke

Kept her opponents in check which is all you can expect of a key defender. Did not need to win much of the ball, going for a big fly at half-back midway through the opening term, and then applying good defensive pressure in the back half. She chopped out in the ruck occasionally, and whilst she only had a few featuring moments, she was always roaming around ready to present for her teammates.

 

Picture credit: WAFL

WAFLW wrap – Semi-finals: Peel Thunder books automatic WAFLW Grand Final spot, as Subiaco tames Tigers

REIGNING premiers Peel Thunder are one win away from back-to-back flags, defeating minor premiers Swan Districts for the second time in three weeks to book an automatic spot in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s Grand Final. The Thunder earned themselves a week off with a hard-fought win in the torrential rain, defeating an inaccurate Swans outfit, 2.4 (16) to 0.11 (11).

Despite the Swans having far more chances on goal reflected by their 11 straight behinds, they could not seem to split the big sticks, through a combination of inaccuracy from set shots, and some desperate defending on the last line by the Peel backline. Three Swans players kicked multiple behinds on their way to the narrow defeat, though they were always in with a shot, only going down by a kick in the end.

Demi Liddle was absolutely sensational on the last line for Peel, saving numerous scoring chances, starting with a big tackle on Taylah Edwards in the opening 90 seconds of the match to force a behind. As the rain poured down, Peel started to have a few repeat forward entries, and whilst Ella Roberts‘ flying shot was off target, the teenager was able to weight a handball perfectly to Katie-Jayne Grieve in the final minute of the term to put through the first goal of the game.

Moments later Grieve had a chance, but strong defender Lauren Osborne was up to the task to put enough pressure on her opponent to force a missed kick and only a behind. Peel dominated the majority of the opening term, but only had a seven-point lead to show for it, with the rain causing all sorts of havoc. Ebony Bilcich and Kira Phillips were both looking dangerous in the forward half of the ground, but the likes of Osborne and Swans captain Emily McGuire were holding up the fort well.

Young defender Mel Hardy almost had a moment to forget early in the second term with the usually reliable ball user opting to kick across goal but mis-hitting the pass and landing in the goalsquare with the dangerous Phillips. Not realising she had more time, Phillips tried to quickly soccer off the ground but missed, much to the relief of the home team. Peel was doing all the attacking early, but the likes of Jaime Henry were standing up under pressure, as the teenager took a great mark in the defensive goalsquare.

Swans then took control of the momentum with repeat forward thrusts, kicking three behinds for the game, with a number of chances – such as Nyra Anderson‘s set shot and Kloe Taylor‘s running attempt – falling short with Phillips working hard to be up the other end with a strong, safe grab on the last line. At half-time, the sole goal to Grieve had the Thunder up by just five points, 1.3 (9) to 0.4 (4).

The third term saw chance after chance go begging for the top of the table side, as they slotted six behinds in some atrocious conditions. The Swans picked the worst quarter to have all the momentum, with the rain pouring down and making any sort of clean chances hard to come by. Sarah Wielstra had a couple of shots on goal early but could not find the big sticks, with the usually-reliable Dana East on the run also missing, and even McGuire, who is one of the safest kicks in the competition, drifted her set shot to the left.

As the rain bucketed down, Aisha Wright had a chance but missed to the left and was rushed through, to give Peel an important two-point buffer. Swans continued to have repeat entries, with the Thunder almost taking full advantage of a rare inside 50, but Aimee Ralph was able to save the day with a vital mark in front of Phillips with two and a half minutes on the clock. Stribley had the final shot of the day, running into goal and was tackled in the back right on the siren, allowing the bottom-ager to have a shot after the siren. Her set shot – like so many of her teammates – drifted for a behind, but the Swans had somehow levelled the scores at the final break despite not kicking a goal.

If anyone was wondering if the Swans could win the game off not kicking a goal, then the curiosity kicked up a notch early in the final term. Liddle was unbelievable on the last line, clearing it from danger, but then required to dive with desperation. East had a flying shot, Mikayla Hyde kicked off the ground, but a terrific defensive effort from Liddle to touch the ball saw it rushed through. Regardless, the unthinkable had happened, Swan Districts lead early in the last without kicking a goal, 0.11 (11) to 1.4 (10).

The final term was mostly an arm wrestle, with Kate Bartlett almost hitting a low bullet to a couple of free teammates inside the goalsquare, but a desperate Henry managed to get in the way and stop a certain goal. Steph Cain had a flying shot towards goal up the other end, but another terrific defensive effort – this time from Greta McKinley – saved the day. McKinley not only got a fist on a bouncing ball towards goal, but put it out of bounds to avoid the deficit going to two points.

Then the moment came. Peel had been bravely defending for the majority of the final term, and the quick ball movement from one end to the other saw a clash of bodies inside 50. Bartlett was on the deck, copped a high whack and made sure the umpire saw it, awarding the competition’s leading goalkicker with a set shot in front of goal. Becoming the first person in the match to split the big sticks from a set shot, Bartlett’s attempt made everyone else look silly as she popped it through and kicked what would be the match-winner for her side with six minutes left on the clock.

The Swans desperately tried getting it forward in the final few minutes, with Stribley trying to run inside 50 but was mowed down by fellow State Academy member Jaide Britton, then a quick passage of play forward by the Swans was intercepted by Cassie Davidson in defence. She along with Liddle had been outstanding, and despite the ball being in the Swans forward half when the siren sounded, Peel had done enough to secure the narrow five-point win and book a spot in the grand final, 2.4 (16) to 0.11 (11).

Eliza Gelmi had done well with Osborne and McGuire in defence, with Bianca Webb, Cain and Stribley all named amongst the best. For the Thunder, Liddle and Davidson were outstanding, with Sabreena Duffy and Chloe Wrigley winning plenty of it through the middle, and Bilcich having some terrific plays in the match. Now the Thunder get a well-earned break before playing at home against the winner of Swan Districts and Subiaco.

SWAN DISTRICTS 0.1 | 0.4 | 0.10 | 0.11 (11)
PEEL THUNDER 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Swan Districts: Nil.
Peel Thunder: K. Grieve, K. Bartlett.

DC BEST:

Swan Districts: L. Osborne, E. Gelmi, S. Cain, T. Stribley, B. Webb
Peel Thunder: D. Liddle, C. Wrigley, S. Duffy, C. Davidson, E. Bilcich

In the do-or-die semi-final, Subiaco held off a determined Claremont by three points in equally wet conditions to remain in contention for the 2021 WAFL Women’s title. The Lions had all the momentum in the first term but could only slot five behinds, as Claremont kicked two of the next three goals to lead by four points at the final break. A late major via a free kick for front-on contact to Amy Hunt handed the Lions the goal they needed, to ensure they won 2.6 (18) to 2.3 (15).

The first quarter was really scrappy but dominated by Subiaco, who did not let it inside the Claremont forward 50 for the majority of the term. There were various shots on goal, but Hayley Miller and Lara Filocamo had the best chances, with the latter after the siren hitting the post to make it five straight behinds for the visitors.

AFL Women’s Academy young gun Amy Franklin kicked the first goal of the game in a stunning against-the-momentum play with a rare inside 50 for the Tigers and beating her opponent one-on-one to win the ball and run into the open goalsquare just two and a half minutes into the game. The sun was back out shining making life a little easier for the players, but Subiaco could still not find the range with Hunt winning a free kick, giving it off to the usually deadly McKenzie Dowrick but her flying shot went out on the full.

Jess Low and Maggie MacLachlan were dominating for their respective sides, and it took a quick kick where luck’s a fortune for Kate Pocsidio to hit-up a sliding Miller. She finally converted her side’s first goal of the contest, and the Lions took a four-point lead into the main break. Both sides had chances late in the term, but the scores stood at 1.5 (11) to 1.1 (7) in favour of the visitors.

Early in the third it was clear the tables had turned in Claremont’s favour, as Low was having a brilliant day alongside midfield partner-in-crime Andie Payne. Tessa Doumanis had a chance from a snap but just skewed it under pressure, before Brooke Whyte and Mikayla Western had opportunities but could not convert. Finally it took some kicks forward in the wet for Amber Goodwin-Wissink to put one through the big sticks, not phased by being brought down, nailing the goal on the run and handing her side the lead midway through the term.

Emily Elkington and Western were getting their hands on the ball to complement Low and Payne, providing good run in forward transition. This time it was Claremont’s turn to have plenty of forward half possession, but make little from it, only kicking the 1.2 in the term. The Tigers did keep Subiaco scoreless in the term, with the respective Ortlepp‘s – Rachel and Claire – toiling hard up opposite ends. By the time the siren sounded, Claremont led by four points, 2.3 (15) to 1.5 (11).

For the most part the final term was a real battle, as Subiaco started strongly with some repeat entries, as the usually reliable Claremont defence was having clanger after clanger coming out of the back 50. They gave the Lions plenty of chances, and eventually the overwhelming pressure was rewarded. A one-on-one between Rachel Ortlepp and Hunt in the forward pocket saw Hunt bump Ortlepp off the ball, win it at ground level and her Claremont opponent desperate to win it back, crashed into her clumsily.

It handed Hunt what seemed like a near-impossible shot in the conditions, about 20m out on the boundary, but the forward made no mistake, popping it through like she was in the goalsquare and the Lions were back in front. Ella Smith was trying to will her side on in the game, with Payne and Low both productive, but Smith’s great tackle inside 50 and attempt to pass to Goodwin-Wissink 15m out was called back. Her shot to the square looked dangerous, but the safe hands of Jayme Harken ensured it did not cause any damage to the visitors.

Tackle after tackle from the Subiaco side really showed their determination late in the contest of what had been a hard slog. Claire Ortlepp mowed down Mhicca Carter, then Taylisha Brown caught Low, accidentally kicking it into the midfielder trying to return it to the field of play. A late intercept mark from Caitlin Walker, then the team defence of Subiaco to gain meterage out of the back 50 in the final minute, followed by a last second tackle by Jamie Rust, ensured the Lions fans went home happy, knowing they had reached a preliminary final.

CLAREMONT 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)
SUBIACO 0.5 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:

Claremont: A. Franklin, A. Goodwin-Wissink.
Subiaco: H. Miller, A. Hunt.

BEST:

Claremont: J. Low, R. Ortlepp, M. Western, E. Smith, A. Payne
Subiaco: A. Hunt, H. Miller, J. Rust, J. Harken, M. MacLachlan

 

Picture credit: Total Sports Photography via Peel Thunder