Tag: Oakleigh Chargers

2022 AFLW Draft – Teams to Watch: Oakleigh Chargers

IN a new series looking towards the 2022 AFL Women’s Draft, we take a look at some teams that have outstanding prospects who showed plenty of promise in their bottom-age years to suggest the team might have plenty of potential for the next season. We continue with Oakleigh Chargers, who have plenty of depth and a number of players already experiencing Vic Metro duties through the Under 17s with a massive six players named, and another young star among the brightest prospects next year.

KEY PLAYERS:

Jasmine Fleming
Midfielder/Forward
05/11/2004 | 165cm

If you know, you know. Fleming only played the last three games of the season and won a flag for her troubles, but her talent is undeniable. The dual sportsperson who has also juggled her football with cricket – unsurprisingly following in her famous father Damien‘s footsteps (while her mother Wendy (nee O’Donnell) represented Australia Diamonds in netball at Under 21s) – looms as one of the best AFLW Draft prospects next season. She stands at 165cm, has already looked good as a midfielder or forward, and moves well, can hit the scoreboard and has class personified. Turning 17 in November, Fleming has enormous upside, and is the player that could take the competition by storm next season. She averaged 20 disposals, four tackles, 3.7 inside 50s and a goal a game from her three matches – two of them being finals against quality opposition – to really stamp her authority on the competition at just 16 years of age.

Charlotte Taylor
Midfielder/Tall Defender
18/01/2004 | 177cm

A tall midfielder who stands at 177cm, Taylor is a similar build to this year’s number one draft selection Charlie Rowbottom. Spending some time in defence where she averaged more than two rebound 50s per game, Taylor showed she will likely be a starting midfielder from Round 1 next season, and be tasked with the ability to get it out of congestion and forward. She caught the eye on a number of occasions moving the ball in transition, and she is a fierce tackler, averaging almost five tackles per game. Much like Fleming, Taylor has already tasted premiership glory, and played six games throughout the year after playing both in her Under 16s season.

Lily Hart
Balanced Midfielder
29/09/2004 | 161cm

A small midfielder who provides plenty of class and zip, Hart is the player who will receive the handball from congestion and take off to distribute down the field. She played all 11 games last season for the Chargers, becoming a rock solid option amongst some pretty talented players when running around. She averaged the 11.5 disposals and 3.2 tackles per game, with a round an inside 50 and rebound 50 per match as well, covering the ground. Hart is another of the Chargers’ brigade expected to lift as one of the more experienced members of the side. Also representing Vic Metro, Hart averaged eight disposals and 4.5 tackles at the Under 17 Championships.

OTHERS:

Oakleigh Chargers had no shortage of players on top of the above trio, with another seven representatives all playing nine or more NAB League Girls matches in 2021. Charlotte Van Der Vlies and Mia Clift played predominantly midfield and defence respectively, running out in every match for the premiers, and earned Vic Metro honours. Jemma Rigoni and Jade McCormack (10 games each) were other defenders who finished with double-digit matches, as Ameille Smith booted seven goals in nine games. Ruby Vandenboom stands at 187cm and is a project ruck, playing three matches and was selected for Metro. Otherwise, Emily Tassiopoulous became a regular in the team as a bottom-ager playing 10 matches. Rianna Thiele, Grace Osborne and Gabriella Rawlings were 04-born talents who managed to taste NAB League Girls action with a couple of games each.

“Competitive” Voss looks for consistency

WATCH Patrick Voss once, and you will know exactly what he is about. The hard-at-it Oakleigh Chargers utility brings a physical, no nonsense kind of style to the field, sighting “competitiveness” as one of his strengths. With powerful fend-offs, bruising tackles and strong overhead marking, the 18-year-old has certainly lived up to that call in 2021.

The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants Academy member, who hails from Wagga Wagga, said during preseason that he was looking forward to getting a run in midfield this year. Having started up forward for Oakleigh before transitioning down back and enjoying spurts in the engine room, Voss has seen a bit of everything.

“I’ve improved on my fitness and that side of things,” Voss said. “I’m more a key forward but also through Giants and maybe Oakleigh I’m looking to play a bit in the midfield. I’ve been working on that side of the game so I’m looking forward to it.”

Along with the shift in roles, the versatile 192cm talent has been able to string together a good run of games at NAB League level despite the many disruptions. Voss turned out six times for the Chargers and once for the Giants Academy, linking with a few old mates in May. Some of the “consistency” he found lead to selection in the Under 19 Allies squad.

“A bit like the other boys, I want to play some consistent footy,” he said. “That’s with the Giants and I’m in Melbourne so hopefully I can play some consistent footy up there and get a few games with the Allies.

“I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Lachie Rankin, Alex Lukic, all the boys. Then with the Giants, probably my best mate Josh Fahey, I haven’t played with him for a while so it should be good.”

Patrick Voss representing the U16 NSW/ACT Rams in 2019

Developing a sense of consistency can be difficult at the best of times – especially in the current climate of uncertainty, or when you’re representing multiple teams. Voss has been tied to his local side, the Giants Academy, Oakleigh Chargers, Wesley College, and the NSW/ACT Rams and Allies at representative level over the years.

Still, he has managed to develop his game at the high level those sides compete at, with some more improvements to come.

“I’m pretty competitive and big-bodied so that works to my advantage a bit,” Voss said. “There’s lots of things I can improve on. Probably using both sides of my body and using clean hands, stuff like that.”

The season is quickly wrapping up and while hope of completing an improvised NAB League finals series or National Championships remains in the balance, Voss impressed enough to earn a National Combine invite. He is one of five talents out of the NSW/ACT pool to receive such honours, along with 85 other players around the nation.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Opportunity awaits Oakleigh at the end of “challenging” year

WHILE Country regions prepare for a return to NAB League action this week, Metro talent programs are holding onto hope they’ll still be able to get on the park before finals. Oakleigh Chargers is one of those regions, the competition’s reigning premier and producer of the last two number one picks – three if you include Charlie Rowbottom‘s selection in the women’s intake last month.

Talent operations lead Jy Bond says he “feels for the kids who’ve missed out on a lot of footy” but is “grateful” that players were able to show their talent at the start of the year, and “optimistic” of the potential for more before season’s end.

“This year’s been a challenging one because it’s been difficult to get continuity in our group,” Bond said. “We’ve had the stop-start nature of the season with lockdowns and what-not, but have done a lot of positive work maintaining connection where possible. It’s also given us opportunities to play pretty much 99 per cent of our list barring a couple of kids with long-term injuries. That’s been a real bonus.

“Obviously Nick Daicos has been pretty handy, Sam Darcy is right up there with him. Then there’s Youseph Dib, Karl Worner, Giorgio Varagiannis, Lochie Jenkins, Paddy Voss and Sam Collins. These are the types of guys that have been able to play the majority of games which has been good.”

While the Chargers’ fleeting premiership defence adds motivation in a team sense, Bond says the chance to play finals serves a greater purpose in terms of opportunity and exposure. Sitting fifth in the Metro pool at 3-6, Oakleigh may need to lean on Wildcard Round entry to the finals, but have a clean injury slate and are “every chance to win some games” at full strength.

“It’s definitely not a win-loss (business) but if you’re a young man or woman in the NAB League and you’re wanting to get to the next level, you’ve got to be competitive,” Bond said. “It helps when you’ve got a full team to pick from, this year we’ve been unable to have a lot of our kids to get some cohesion.

“But the more games you play, the more recruiters can see you and the more exposure you get to potentially get drafted, and that’s the main thing. The more games you play at a high level and under finals pressure, the more chance you are to get more kids drafted which is the aim of the game. That’s my (priority) always.”

Nick Daicos fires off a handball

With two players, father-son prospects at that, well in contention to continue Oakleigh’s streak of number one picks, the often taken for granted opportunity to simply play may have a massive impact on how the draft plays out. Daicos (Collingwood) and Darcy (Western Bulldogs) are the pair in question, but have only played together thrice as Oakleigh teammates.

“In terms of Sam and Nick, either one could be picked number one depending on the team and arguably they’d be hard to split, they’re two very different players,” Bond said. “They’re both top-end characters, they’re both likeable, they’ve both got a bit of cheek about them but they’re also very hard-working and really good upstanding characters.

“We focus on the talent a lot at Oakleigh but something we place quite highly in our players is their character and whether they’re going to fit into a club and come out as good people which is almost more important that their footballing ability.”

Along with the usual crop of top-end talent in a draft eligible sense, the Chargers’ squad strength is well poised to carry on into next year. 10 Oakleigh products were selected for Under 17 representative duties this year, and most have also turned out already at NAB League level. Bond says the region is “buoyant” on its next batch of potential stars.

“We’ve got a really strong group of 17-year-olds which bodes well for the future,” he said. “If you look at that 17s group we’ve got quite a strong nucleus there for next year which is pleasing… and we’ll top that up with a lot of other kids that are running through the program this year and potentially others who if they’re unlucky not to get drafted this year, they’ll get the opportunity to come back as 19-year-olds.”

With one eye on this year’s draft and the other on the future, Oakleigh has been able to achieve great success over the last decade in the sense of draftee production and premiership glory. At the moment, the opportunity for these prospects to show their worth at the highest possible level is what drives a potential flag tilt.

The race to be number one: What separates Daicos and Horne?

IT’S the great debate surrounding this year’s AFL Draft. Nick Daicos and Jason Horne, the race to be number one. On June 1, Draft Central released its first monthly Power Rankings edition for 2021 and there were plenty of questions raised about the pointy end of the list. Daicos has arrived on the scene with plenty of fanfare and has since dominated both the media landscape, and on-field arena. But one prospect remains in the way him being the outright frontrunner this year – Horne.

We take a look at some of the key arguments to spawn on either side of this debate, essentially answer the question of why Horne topped our Power Rankings list and if Daicos stands a chance of snatching the crown come July’s edition.

Nick Daicos
Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro

DOB: 3/01/2003
Height/Weight: 183cm/72kg
Position: Midfielder

Season Averages:
2021 NAB League

4 games | 35.5 disposals | 22.3 kicks | 13.3 handballs | 6.5 marks | 3.8 tackles | 6.0 inside 50s | 2.5 rebound 50s | 2.3 goals (9 total)

Jason Horne
South Adelaide/South Australia

DOB: 21/06/2003
Height/Weight: 184cm/78kg
Position: Midfielder

Season Averages:
SANFL League

8 games | 15.0 disposals | 10.6 kicks | 4.4 handballs | 4.4 marks | 3.9 tackles | 3.4 inside 50s | 0.5 rebound 50s | 0.6 goals (5 total)

MEN AGAINST BOYS

The first place distant draft watchers often look when comparing players is the stats sheet. While it’s a fairly useful performance indicator, in this case it needs much more context than is afforded through pure numbers. Daicos is miles ahead of Horne on that basis alone, averaging 20 more disposals and managing just under double Horne’s goal tally in half the amount of games. He leads the NAB League for total disposals, kicks, and goals, while also topping Oakleigh’s charts in a number of other categories. His numbers are ridiculous, there is no denying it, and Horne’s don’t make for bad viewing either.

The difference is the level they’re playing at. Victoria’s elite talent pathway proudly boasts about providing over half of the total draft pool each year, and while that is fact, the standard of the competition has been a touch sub-par in 2021. That is not to discredit Daicos, talent pathway staff, or any of the footballers who have stuck true to their dream throughout a difficult period, but the game of catch-up remains evident after a year away from competitive action and incredibly rushed preseasons.

On the other hand, Horne’s 2020 campaign was merely disrupted, as opposed to cancelled. He got a taste of senior football as a bottom-ager and is better for it now, performing consistently in what is arguably the nation’s strongest state league at the moment. The 17-year-old has fallen below 10 touches just once in eight games and has impacted with more permanent midfield time. He also performed brilliantly in the SANFL Under 18s competition for two seasons as an under-ager.

Through no real fault of his own, Daicos is yet to get an extended run at senior level. He was due to slot into Collingwood’s VFL set-up during the NAB League’s month-long break, but a lingering corked thigh and overall management of his workload meant that did not come to fruition. The saying goes you can only beat who’s in front of you, and Daicos is doing that, but the different levels these two are competing at is a big factor in what their numbers look like.

THE ACADEMY GAME

So these two compete at different levels currently, but what happened when they ran out on the same field this year? The pair was chosen to represent the AFL Academy in a showcase game against Geelong VFL in April, often seen as a good sighter for the year’s talent. The Under 19 Academy was trounced by 130 points, with few prospects truly able to enhance their credentials on what was a tough day at the office.

Daicos was the AFL Academy captain and carried the role with aplomb having also experienced leadership with Oakleigh in the NAB League. Horne has too, at representative level no less, but Daicos got the nod here. The second big tick for Collingwood’s father-son hopeful was that he ended the game as the Academy’s clear highest ball winner. Not only that, but his 26 disposals were double that of Horne.

Now the context of competition is out of the equation, surely it’s conclusive that Daicos is the better-performed prospect – on pure numbers. It’s not quite that simple, as you’ll find below.

>> Scouting Notes: AFL Academy vs. Geelong VFL

IMPACT PER POSSESSION

It’s all well and good winning bucketloads of the ball, but what are these two doing with it?

Horne’s lower disposal rates in comparison do not necessarily indicate lesser impact. 15 of his disposals are arguably more damaging than if Daicos had the same number, but the latter’s sway on the game comes through sheer accumulation and an uncanny knack for knowing when and where his next possession will come. Horne’s penetrative kick and bullet-like passing can be a real weapon, matched with the positive intent to put the ball in ominous areas. His knack for taking eye-catching overhead marks and laying crunching tackles also point towards his undeniable status as a high-impact player.

Daicos is usually a wonderfully clean and clever user of the ball, with the added trait of bringing his teammates into the play. He constantly looks to give and go; kicking short and running hard to get the handball back, or chaining by hand up the field to help bring some fluency to his side’s play. It means he is a productive and creative type in midfield, just in a different way to Horne. He is better able to find the ball in all areas of the ground with his work-rate and smarts, but is that kind of accumulation always as impactful as possible? The verdict is out, but he can certainly have an overwhelming effect on the game with his rate of accumulation, popping up everywhere.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Judging such high-level AFL Draft prospects to the most minute details is often a fickle exercise which does little to actually highlight what they do so well. In this case, it works to better understand some of the key parameters and contexts required to make such judgements. At the end of the year when both likely attract top two selections, and throughout their careers the discussion will rear its head – again and again. Walsh/Rozee, McCluggage/Taranto/McGrath, Hodge/Judd/Ball – all examples of exactly that. It never goes away, but hopefully now there is a better understanding of which factors weight in the favour of both Daicos and Horne, for fans, pundits and recruiters alike to make their own judgement calls. It’s all subjective.

2021 NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

NEXT up in our NAB League Girls team review series are the Oakleigh Chargers, the benchmark team all season and deserving premiers in the end. Across a campaign which only yielded one defeat, the region’s dynamic squad mixed beautifully with a strong draft eligible core leading the way. We recap the Chargers’ season, and take a look at some of the top performers across the various age groups.

Wins: 7
Losses: 1
Position: 1st (Premier)

SEASON SUMMARY:

Starting the season with a resounding 54-point victory over reigning premiers, Northern Knights, the Chargers stamped themselves as one of the contenders early on in the year, and rarely looked like they weren’t the main premiership threat. They were challenged at times, with a three-game stretch against Tasmania, Dandenong and Sandringham seeing them win collectively by 13 points. Their only loss of the season game against Geelong Falcons by 11 points, in the round before the National Championships. They’d return after the champs with a 100-point win over Gippsland Power, and convincingly won all three of their finals, with the last a 37-point triumph over Geelong to take out their inaugural NAB League Girls premiership.

DRAFT-ELIGIBLE TOP PERFORMERS

Charlie Rowbottom | Midfielder/Key Forward
22/01/2003 | 178cm

The AFLW Academy member and potential Victorian number one pick had a season to be proud of. She started the year off predominantly in the midfield, where her burst, positioning and strength around stoppages made her a key clearance winner and large part of their play going forward. As the season moved on she spent more time as a marking target up forward, where her leap and aerial presence were valuable in one-on-one contests, able to out muscle opponents that tried to make it a grapple, but also blitz them on the lead if they tried to play off her. Often getting extra attention as the season went on, she found ways to stay involved and will be better off for it in future. Representing Vic Metro as captain, she clearly has leadership attributes and may continue that at the next level.

Stella Reid | Utility
10/09/2003 | 173cm

A versatile left-footer, Reid progressively moved up the ground as the season wore on; starting in the backline and spending a couple of rounds down there before progressing to the midfield for a few rounds, then spending the rest of the season in the forwardline, where she’d go on to be the side’s leading goal kicker. With that versatility comes a wide range of traits that will allow her to slot into whichever area the team she ends up at needs, with her speed, ball use by foot and ability to hold space three of her most impressive strengths. Representing Vic Metro, she was predominantly used on the wing, which perhaps offers some insight into where recruiters picture her playing long-term.

Amanda Ling | Midfielder
09/07/2002 | 161cm

Playing an often under-appreciated role, Ling’s ball winning as an in and under type was vital in allowing her other midfield teammates to prosper during the season. As Rowbottom got more and more attention during the season, Ling consistently stepped up to be the main clearance winner, utilising her side step and quick hands to shift past opponents and get the ball out to teammates. She proved herself as an able forward as well in the last match of the home-and-away season, kicking 3.1 stationed almost permanently in the forward 50. She would step up in the most important game of the year, the Grand Final, to win best on ground honours in the victory. A Vic Metro representative and recent Port Melbourne VFLW debutant, Ling has shown she can maintain that form at the higher levels.

Brooke Vickers | Wing/Defender
06/03/2003 | 171cm

One of the surprise packets for the Chargers this season, Vickers, like Reid, started the season in defence and moved into a more permanent wing role later in the season. That was where she settled in well and became a consistent contributor, receiving handballs from the inside and delivering it to leading teammates by foot. When she was representing Vic Metro, she split her time between the two roles she had at Oakleigh, looking most impressive at half-back where her rebound game was typically strong.

Eliza James | Forward/Midfielder
01/10/2003 | 168cm

Possessing good burst speed and agility, James showed her worth as a medium forward, but has some work to do with her finishing on goal. To her credit, James often looked to give the ball off to teammates inside 50 when she had it rather than blaze away, showing off a selfless approach that led to much of the Chargers’ attacking proficiency. Another Vic Metro representative, she was a key link up player in their fixtures.

FUTURE ONES TO WATCH:

Jasmine Fleming | Midfielder
05/11/2004 | 165cm

With strong family sporting ties, (mother Wendy an Australian Under 21 netballer and father Damien an Australian cricketer) it’s no surprise that after just three games Fleming is one of the best prospects heading into 2022. Faced with the choice of cricket and football in the future, AFLW clubs will be hoping Fleming is leaning towards footy. With her speed and agility being big weapons around the contest, and her follow up ball work also at a high level, she already has a high skill base to start with and develop.

Charlotte Van der Vlies | Wing
19/01/2004 | 162cm

One of the few bottom-agers that started the year where she ended, Van der Vlies was a consistent contributor on the outside for the Chargers, where her deceptive speed and balanced ball use made her a damaging player going forward. She showed she was able to operate in congestion as well, using that speed to get separation on her opponents before disposing of the ball. Representing Vic Metro Under 17s on two occasions, Van der Vlies was a major player, showing her clearance capabilities as well.

Charlotte Taylor | Midfielder/Tall Defender
18/01/2004 | 177cm

Coming into the side in Round 7, Taylor made an immediate impact in the midfield for the Chargers, pairing well with fellow tall midfielder Rowbottom early on. As more players come in for the Chargers, Taylor’s height, and athleticism saw her moved into defence for the finals series, holding her own and offering plenty on the rebound and in the air. When representing Vic Metro Under 17s Taylor rotated between the rover, wing and half forward roles, showing her versatility and piquing the curiosity of watchers with where she’ll end up playing.

Lily Hart | Midfielder
29/09/2004 | 161cm

Spending majority of the season rubbing shoulders with the midfield brigade, Hart added a touch of class and balance through the midfield. Often the player that received the handball from one of the in-and-under teammates she has, Hart’s balanced and polished ball use was always a damaging blow to the opposition from the midfield. Yet another charger that represented Vic Metro Under 17s, she’s one that has enough midfield experience heading into next year to be one of the players to lookout for, who might just explode in 2022.

OTHERS:

Taylah Morton is a 19-year-old prospect that has played for Port Melbourne at VFLW level, as a midfielder-forward she brings a tough edge to whichever line she’s on. Alexandra McCulloch was a consistently reliable defender all season, offering plenty of damaging rebound, while Erin Woodford turned into a more than handy lockdown defender in the latter stages of the season. Looking ahead to next year, the Chargers have more exciting prospects. Key forward, and occasional rotating ruck Ameile Smith is a proven goalkicker who may be the main target up forward next season, Mia Clift is a rebounding defender with the scope to move onto a wing or through the midfield. Melbourne father-daughter prospect, Jemma Rigoni, has played in all thirds of the ground and possesses remarkable speed, whilst Rianna Thiele will be one to watch as the key defender returns from injury next year.

Stat Leaders: 2021 NAB League Girls – Grand Final

THE 2021 NAB League Girls season was completed on Sunday, with the Oakleigh Chargers crowned premiers after a powerhouse campaign. There were a number of outstanding individual performances in the grand final at Werribee, as players from both sides rose to the occasion. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the final season tallies.

>> REPORT: Oakleigh Chargers clinch maiden NAB League flag

Best afield in the big dance, Amanda Ling, was the only player to tick up to 20 disposals on the day as she set Oakleigh on the front foot from midfield. Along with her game-high disposal tally, the zippy midfielder led the game for handballs with 12, distributing with excellent vision and efficiency to release her barnstorming teammates.

Among the teammates to benefit, Jasmine Fleming proved a clearance machine with seven, using her class and turn of speed to help Oakleigh break into attack quickly. On the end of those clearances, the bottom-ager also registered five inside 50s in another game-high. At the same end of the ground, Annie Lee proved rock-solid for Geelong. She managed a game-high six rebound 50s on the back of some long kick-ins and outstanding intercept play.

Usual suspects Tess Craven and Poppy Schaap also topped categories of their own for Geelong, with the former booting forward a high of 11 kicks, while the latter worked her wings off to lay 11 tackles. The Falcons pair set a good level of intensity for their side, as did Oakleigh captain Charlie Rowbottom. The AFLW Academy-listed star clunked four marks and proved pivotal with her strength around the ball, rotating through midfield from the forwardline.

Speaking of strength, Chargers ruck Kalarni Kearns won 27 hitouts for her side in a combative effort. Up forward, Stella Reid capped off a brilliant season with three goals, matched by opportunistic teammate Sarah Morley. It was the sixth-straight game that Reid managed to find the goals, as she became a reliable forward option in the latter half of the season.

Reid also finished top of a few charts in the overall count, leading the league for disposals and marks. Her Oakleigh teammate, Amanda Ling pipped Georgie Prespakis to lead the competition for handballs, with Greater Western Victoria (GWV) midfielder Lilli Condon notching the most kicks. Find the full and final list of grand final, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

GRAND FINAL STAT LEADERS

Disposals:
Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers) – 20

Kicks:
Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons) – 11

Handballs:
Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers) – 12

Marks:
Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers) – 4

Tackles:
Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons) – 11

Clearances:
Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh Chargers) – 7

Inside 50s:
Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh Chargers) – 5

Rebound 50s:
Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons) – 6

Hitouts:
Kalarni Kearns (Oakleigh Chargers) – 27

Goals:
Sarah Morley (Oakleigh Chargers) – 3
Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers) – 3

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS

Disposals:
Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers) – 221 total / 20.1 average

Kicks:
Lilli Condon (GWV Rebels) – 173 / 17.3

Handballs:
Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers) – 101 / 9.2

Marks:
Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers) – 50 / 4.5

Tackles:
Perri King (Tasmania Devils) 85 / 9.4

Inside 50s:
Charlotte Baskaran (Western Jets) 46 / 5.8

Rebound 50s:
Molly Walton (GWV Rebels) – 44 / 4.4

Hitouts:
Kalani Scoullar (GWV Rebels) 204 / 22.7

Goals:
Alyssia Pisano (Eastern Ranges) – 19 / 1.9

Top Performers: 2021 NAB League Girls – Grand Final

OAKLEIGH Chargers took out the 2021 NAB League premiership on Sunday, defeating the Geelong Falcons by 37 points at Avalon Airport Oval. A bunch of stars rose to the occasion in the season’s final game, making for a deep list of top performers from either side. Starting with AFLW Academy-listed prospects, we take a look at those top performers, which are the opinion of the individual author.

NAB League Girls Grand Final
Oakleigh Chargers 11.5 (71) def. Geelong Falcons 5.4 (34)

AFLW Academy:

#8 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)

Freed up to play forward over the last month, Rowbottom returned another powerhouse performance with her strength both in the air and at ground level on full show. The imposing Oakleigh skipper was near-impossible to beat in one-on-one situations, rising to take solid overhead marks and bullocking her way out of would-be tackles to create space where there usually wouldn’t be any. Her intent and physicality were evident from the start and while she was caught holding the ball on a couple of occasions, Rowbottom was key in setting the tone. One of the highlights of her day in that sense was a contested mark in term two, where she leapt into the flight of a high ball with Renee Tierney coming the other way.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Charlotte Taylor

Part of Oakleigh’s sturdy defence, which often flies under the radar, Taylor set her side on the right foot from the get-go. She was a reliable rebounder by foot, able to gain meterage with her run before delivering long kicks down the line. Her work at the contest to force turnovers on a high line was excellent as was her tackling intent throughout the day. Taylor also rotated onto Geelong’s most dangerous forwards at different stages of the game, highlighting her versatility and importance to the Chargers’ defensive set-up.

#10 Stella Reid

Another who has found a home up forward, Reid provided just the spark Oakleigh needed to break away and form an early lead. She was a reliable target up forward and with her combination of smarts and competitiveness, proved very difficult to beat when the ball came her way. Her two first quarter goals were crafty, latching onto the ball close to goal and finishing in quick time with aplomb to create genuine scoreboard pressure. She very nearly had a third in the same term, but hit the post, before posting that next major in term three with a snap. Her bag of three capped a run of six-consecutive games with at least one goal in style.

#14 Eliza James

Although she did not finish with the numbers of others, James was an important part of Oakleigh’s forwardline once more. She’s a powerful type who competes well aerially but also has natural ball winning nous given her time as a midfielder, making her a tough match-up. She proved as much with consistently strong presentation on the lead from half-forward, and some handy passages on the way back towards goal, which helped the Chargers link inside attacking 50. James later got a run in the midfield, having completed her initial job well.

#29 Amanda Ling

The best player afield on the day, those honours were rich reward for Ling’s remarkably consistent season among a team which boasts many stars. Her own star-factor came to the fore on Sunday, with lightning-quick and clean hands on the inside allowing Oakleigh smooth passage out of the centre. She was constantly able to release runners into space with great vision and execution, proving one of the more shrewd decision makers afield. Her zip away from congestion was also evident, as Ling burst away on numerous occasions before sending her side into attack by foot. Usually prominent on the inside, she was able to show nice outside qualities on the day, but was still the primary tone-setter from where it mattered most.

#33 Jasmine Fleming

A handy late-season addition, Fleming has not only freed up others to rotate into attack, but she has also proven an extremely damaging starting midfielder in her own right. The bottom-ager was arguably on par with Ling during the first half in terms of best afield honours, combining beautifully with her fellow midfielder to burst away from congestion and send Oakleigh forward in quick time. Her turn of speed was a real factor in opening the game up, generating valuable forward momentum and putting Geelong’s defence under immediate pressure. She capped off her day with a well-hit set shot goal in the final quarter, and truly is a classy prospect to watch for next year’s draft.

Others:

There were plenty of strong contributors for Oakleigh, who benefitted from another brilliant team spread. From the back, Alexandra McCulloch proved resolute as ever in combination with Taylor, while the wing pairing of Brooke Vickers and Charlotte Van Der Vlies got busy. Sarah Morley again got among the goals with an opportunistic haul of three, as Taylah Morton worked hard in the front half to snare one and Kalarni Kearns was combative in the ruck.

Geelong Falcons:

#4 Poppy Schaap

One of the Falcons’ most hard-working players, Schaap was very nearly the fire starter for Geelong in term one. She started brightly with a well finished snap to ensure Geelong could reply to Oakleigh’s scoreboard pressure, and looked dangerous inside 50 with her combination of tackling pressure and smarts on the ball. She would go on to work up the ground and even spend some time back in midfield, transferring her pressure game against classy opposition. Schaap again got on the board with another sharp finish around the corner in the third quarter, but her feats weren’t quite enough to incite a Falcons comeback.

#11 Tess Craven

Arguably Geelong’s most valuable and consistent player throughout the finals series, Craven was again more than serviceable to her side in midfield. The tough ball winner cracked in and was able to rip some quick clearances away early, before going on to impress with her work on the spread. A player who seems to read the flow of play well, Craven timed her forward runs to provide an option as Geelong broke forward, working really hard in such instances after her initial efforts at the contest. Her intent was also evident through a strong tackling game, which proved important against quite stiff opposition in the engine room. She again won plenty of the ball and capped off a brilliant season with aplomb.

#15 Gabbi Featherston

The dynamic and athletic Falcon was tried in numerous roles, as she has been for most of the season, and finished as one of her side’s most consistent performers. Starting in her usual forward post, Featherston was a solid target for Geelong when they broke forward quickly, with her agility and poise allowing for eye-catching work at the drop of what was a very hot football. She made her usual move into the ruck and displayed a springy leap, cutting the size difference and competing valiantly at the coalface. She also attended centre bounces as a midfielder, showcasing her rare versatility. Overall, Featherston was one who looked to make things happen and her technique to spin out of trouble was great to watch throughout.

#26 Ingrid Houtsma

Geelong’s big inclusion for the day, Houtsma took up her spot on the wing and was a reliable contributor for her side. She was particularly prominent in the early stages, tackling well to win back possession and accumulating on the outer as she sought to send the Falcons forward. Houtsma was usually clean and quite apt in terms of her disposal, which helped in such a high-pressure kind of contest.

#37 Annie Lee

Easily among Geelong’s best players, Lee made the best of a tough role in defence and proved a real leader back there. Her ability to read the play and back herself in to intercept was important as Oakleigh looked to get well on top, while her tackling efforts matched the high-stakes intensity of the occasion. She took the kick-ins and was largely Geelong’s designated distributor for the day, though Oakleigh was eventually able to catch on to her repeat long kicks out to half-back. In terms of competitiveness and the ability to lift on the big stage, Lee did just that and would have really pleased her coaches in that sense. Reliable.

Others:

Chasing her second NAB League premiership, Renee Tierney came into the game late for Geelong, while Charlotte Simpson was lively early with her effort at the contest and tackling pressure. Liz Dowling was down on her usual numbers in defence, but also showed good intent back there, as Zoe Garth popped up in patches further afield.

2021 VFL Player Focus: Ned Moyle (Oakleigh Chargers/Collingwood VFL)

MID-SEASON draft fancy Ned Moyle has taken to senior football with aplomb in 2021, rising steeply to become one of the premium rucks available. The 19-year-old ruck is now three games deep into his Victorian Football League (VFL) career with Collingwood, having managed the same amount of NAB League outings with Oakleigh Chargers. He also turned out for the AFL Academy last month as an additional squad member, making him one of just two 2002-born prospects to earn those representative honours this year.

With the mid-season intake approaching, Moyle has already gotten a taste of what the top level may be like having competed against a bunch of AFL-listed rucks – with no less than three in his latest outing against Sydney. His 205cm frame, work rate and developing craft are traits which stand out, as many top flight clubs scramble to top up on viable rucks for the future. Moyle is the prospect under our VFL Player Focus microscope this week; we run you through his game quarter-by-quarter, and bring you the key stats out of his Round 5 showing.

Ned Moyle
Oakleigh Chargers/Collingwood VFL

DOB: February 15, 2002
Height/Weight: 205cm/87kg
Position: Ruck

2021 Averages:

NAB League: 3 games | 9.0 disposals | 3.0 kicks | 6.0 handballs | 1.7 marks | 4.3 tackles | 27.7 hitouts | 0.3 goals (1)
VFL: 3 games | 11.3 disposals | 3.0 kicks | 8.3 handballs | 3.7 marks | 0.7 tackles | 17.7 hitouts | 0 goals

2021 VFL, Round 5 | Sydney Swans 12.14 (86) def. Collingwood 8.5 (53)

#65 Ned Moyle (Collingwood)

Stats: 8 disposals | 3 kicks | 5 handballs | 2 marks | 1 tackle | 1 rebound 50 | 23 hitouts | 2 behinds

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

As Collingwood’s primary ruck for the evening, Moyle might have been pinching himself as he stared down senior-listed bigman Callum Sinclair at the opening centre bounce. But the youngster started as he sought to go on, not afraid of the physicality such experienced players bring and willing to jump through each ruck contest. While he looks a lumbering type at times, Moyle reacted well to when the ball moved either way by fulfilling his duties on the spread and ensuring the Sydney rucks would not be able to sneak forward or drop back to mark easily.

He showed he was keen to compete, but that nervous energy was perhaps misplaced in some of the early ruck duels as Sinclair was able to use Moyle’s momentum against him and gain a better read of the ball in flight as they wrestled for position. Still, Moyle showcased some of his reliable ground level work by mopping up when called upon. He was clean by hand and played the percentages, putting his big frame over the ball before keeping it simple to dish out of congestion to his midfielders and essentially bring them into the play.

Around the ground, Moyle’s work rate held up to AFL standards as he got to each contest without fuss, while also doing the one-percenters like competing on the goalline when Sydney was about to have a long-range set shot. He could be caught out in transition with quicker ball movement as speed is not a strong suit, but against similarly athletic talls he is able to keep up and ensure they don’t become easy options. At the contest, he was outdone for upper body strength and that developing mobility meant he looked a touch more comfortable when operating in straight lines, or under the high ball – where his reach could be used to advantage.

Q2:

Starting in the ruck once again, Moyle’s next challenge would be against the athletic Joel Amartey, another AFL-listed tall. He made a good decision early to spread hard as Collingwood won a free kick at the centre bounce, becoming an option in the corridor and being duly rewarded. From the uncontested mark, he again took the team option to hand off to a runner as the Magpies continued their forward break.

He also became an option for long kicks down the line, positioning between the arcs with the ball coming away from either arc and doing his best to compete aerially. Speaking of, the highlight of Moyle’s game was a nice clunk inside forward 50 as he sat under a high ball and rose to take the mark under oncoming heat. While the 35-metre set shot from just about directly in front drifted off to the left, Moyle’s previous act showed a nice area of development in his game.

The Oakleigh Chargers product continued to show no issue in his desire to compete despite the stiff opposition, splitting a bunch of ruck duels and even laying an aggressive lock-up tackle on the wing. Though his more experienced adversaries began to get on top with class, Moyle showed good appetite towards the hard task of taking on (essentially) the sole ruck duties, with Mason Cox giving him a chop-out. The half time break proved a well earned one, with the second term arguably Moyle’s best for the evening.

Q3:

The fatigue of playing a lone hand against stronger and more mature talls perhaps began to set in after the main break, as Moyle’s ability to leap through or into his opponents at the centre bounces became less of a factor. He still managed to notch a few nice taps to advantage, competing well in wrestles to protect the drop zone and hit to viable options at the stoppage.

With the game played at a relatively high intensity and bringing forward a lot of end-to-end action, Moyle really had his work cut out for him in terms of ground coverage. He got a sizeable rotation in after about 13 minutes and came back on with just over five left to continue his work in at least halving a good amount of ruck battles. His confidence showed as he won his lone disposal for the quarter by grabbing from the ruck duel and dishing off by hand – albeit to a teammate under pressure.

Q4:

Moyle did his best to run out the game strongly, continuing to try some new things in the ruck and essentially refusing to be soundly beaten. His bodywork was solid and allowed him to win taps on the right side of the stoppage, though he found himself out-jumped by Sam Naismith at a few centre bounces – lacking the same kind of spring after three hard quarters.

His two disposals for the quarter came by foot. The first was via a free kick for holding inside defensive 50, which he used to bomb long to a contest on the wing. Some nice work to nudge Sinclair under the ball and prize a snap away on goal was the second kick, and also resulted in Moyle’s second behind for the game. Overall, he rose to the occasion of competing against solid AFL rucks and while they outclassed him at times, his competitive spirit kept him in the contest.

Closing thoughts…

With many AFL clubs in need of rucks who can provide decent foil for primary options, Moyle has put his hand up through some solid VFL form. Though his numbers are not always high, he competes well both in the ruck duels and at ground level to impact at that sense at the least, and his 205cm frame is continually building to be able to keep up with the rigours of senior football. Mobility, explosiveness, and building the strength to mark around the ground are all areas of growth, which can be worked on with a few more preseasons. The 19-year-old has shown good development already, so will rightly get attention in June’s mid-season draft.

Image Credit: Michael Klein/Herald Sun

Ling praises team effort in best on ground performance

BEST on Ground Medallist in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, Oakleigh Chargers’ Amanda Ling has praised her teammates for enabling her to perform the way she did in the Chargers’ 2021 premiership victory over Geelong Falcons. The Chargers booted seven goals to two in the first half as the midfield took control and then the side steadied to win 11.5 (71) to 5.4 (34) at Avalon Airport Oval yesterday afternoon.

Whilst there were plenty of impressive performers such as Jasmine Fleming (17 disposals, seven clearances, five inside 50s, three tackles and a goal) and Stella Reid (10 disposals, three marks and three goals), it was the four quarter effort and influence of Ling through the middle who stood tall. The hard-working midfielder picked up 21 disposals, two marks, 10 tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s, leading the game for both disposals and tackles. When asked how she was feeling post-game, Ling was still in a state of euphoria.

“Really overwhelmed right now,” Ling said. “Just it’s unbelievable. “Like the group of girls that we’ve got and the connections that we’ve made. “Like Stella (Reid) said in another interview, it’s unbelievable and it’s going to take a while to soak in. “But yeah it’s amazing, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Ling said the playing group tried to keep the build-up to the decider like any other week, but knew that the stakes were higher and the nerves were certainly there.

“The week, it was nerve-wracking, definitely,” Ling said. “Knowing that we’d come so far and we just wanted to give it all that we can out on the day, and the girls stayed really positive during trainings and stuff like that, and we all just kept it like any other week, just like any other game and just did what we did and it turned out amazing. “It worked well for us.”

Amanda Ling with her Best on Ground and premiership medals.

Oakleigh Chargers region talent operations lead Jy Bond said Ling was incredibly deserving of the honour, and he was not the least bit surprised she stepped up on the big stage.

“She’s fantastic, she’s a ripper,” Bond said. “We had a conversation with her during the week just about what sort of impact she could have on the grand final, on the big stage. “We said ‘you’re the type of player who could potentially get best on ground’ she impacts around the contest, she just accumulates the possessions, she tackles, she chases, she brings other players into the game. “I think she’s got a future in AFLW and it would be such a fantastic story, she’s a wonderful character and I couldn’t be happier for her to be best on ground in a grand final team.”

Despite the pep talk from the Chargers’ staff, Ling said she just tried to play her role, and the accolade was unexpected and humbling, praising her teammates for their roles in assisting with her best on ground performance.

“It’s really unexpected,” she said. “I was not expecting it at all, I was really honoured, really humbled to have this award, it’s credit to the girls though, they played a massive role in it. “Footy’s a team game, and I couldn’t have done it without them.”

A draft-eligible player hoping to step up to the next level if chosen in the AFL Women’s Draft later in the year, Ling said she would aim to get a taste of VFL Women’s action with Port Melbourne as the state league competition plays out the last few rounds. One thing is for sure though, her grand final performance is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.

Bond credits “focused” team in NAB League Girls Grand Final win

OAKLEIGH Chargers region talent operations lead Jy Bond has praised his team for its focused and measured approach in the lead-up to, and during the 2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final. The Chargers toppled the Geelong Falcons 11.5 (71) to 5.4 (34) at Avalon Airport Oval yesterday afternoon, booting seven goals to two in the first half, then withstanding a mini surge either side of half-time to hold out and win the girls’ program’s maiden flag.

Bond said he was “feeling pretty good” after his team came through with the win, though admitted given his relationship with the other talent regions including the Geelong Falcons, it was always going to be a “bittersweet” occasion.

“It’s always nice to end the season with a flag and a premiership cup,” he said. “It’s just a great result for all the hard work that the girls have put in the last few months and the staff and it’s always bittersweet because you have good relationship with the majority of the other NAB League teams, ‘Cora’ (Paul Corrigan, Falcons head coach) and ‘Domsy’ (Tom Lonergan, Falcons region talent operations lead).

“It’s always hard because you always wish their girls win it as well. “It’s one of those scenarios where it’s bittersweet, you’ve obviously pumped for our girls but it’s always disappointing because they’ve done all the same job as we have, they’ve done all the hours we have. “Their playing group is probably just the same as our girls, but we’re fortunate enough to be the ones holding the cup up which is obviously pretty fantastic.”

The Oakleigh Chargers went through the year with only one loss, and that defeat came at the hands at the Falcons down at Deakin University. Bond said the result added some extra incentive to the playing group ahead of the grand final where he declared his side the “underdogs”.

“Yeah it (today’s performance) was a good one, we were the underdogs today,” Bond said. “They did give us a bit of a touch up in Geelong which was good for our girls to probably come in today with a bit more focus. “Having a bit more determination to win today. “I felt like they … took a lot of contested marks down in Geelong and really broke us down that way. “I think today we really put a stop to that, and we obviously won the ball out of the middle fairly well and just hit the scoreboard so not much to it, we just kicked more goals.”

Holding a five-goal lead at half-time, the Chargers squad came out determined not to drop the intensity, with Bond making sure everyone was aware the Falcons side was more than capable of stringing multiple goals together, particularly in the windy conditions.

“Geelong proved that they could turn the game pretty easily,” Bond said. “They are a top team that could kick five or six goals in a quarter like we did and we were under no illusions that could possibly happen. “Especially with the wind. “Lucky our girls came out and stayed focused and ensure that they did keep the scoreboard pressure on, but it could have turned pretty easily. “We were able to do it, Geelong could have done it, but in the end we applied more pressure throughout the game.”

Amanda Ling won best on ground in the premiership victory, collecting match-highs in disposals (21) and tackles (10), but it was her combination of defensive pressure and ability to get to the right spots that earned her the medal.

“She’s fantastic, she’s a ripper,” Bond said. “We had a conversation with her during the week just about what sort of impact she could have on the grand final, on the big stage. “We said ‘you’re the type of player who could potentially get best on ground’, she impacts around the contest, she just accumulates the possessions, she tackles, she chases, she brings other players into the game. “I think she’s got a future in AFLW and it would be such a fantastic story, she’s a wonderful character and I couldn’t be happier for her to be best on ground in a grand final team.”

As for some other players who caught Bond’s eye, he was just impressed with the overall team performance, though said some prime movers had serious impact to get the momentum in the Chargers’ favour.

Stella Reid, Sarah Morley kicked three goals, it was a really good team effort,” Bond said. I know it’s a bit of cliche but it was. “Jasmine Fleming has been fantastic to release ‘Rowy’ (Charlie Rowbottom) down forward. “We’ve just got a lot of ball-winners and ball users throughout the team we can put in dangerous positions.

The team and club will no doubt enjoy the victory for some time, but for Bond, there was not much turnaround before re-shifting his focus to the next competition, the NAB League Boys.

“Here we just reset and we look towards next year and we obviously move onto the boys program, but I just couldn’t be more happy for the girls, it’s a great, great result,” Bond said. said.