Tag: Paige Sheppard

AFL Women’s Draft Combine: Player Summaries

AFTER the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft Combine list of names were announced earlier in the week, we take a look at each player who was nominated, with a quick summary and link to their profile. Check them out below:

2019 AFLW NAB Draft Combine Nominees

NSW/ACT: [3]

Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
* Eastern Allies captain, member of the GWS GIANTS Academy and a player from the GIANTS heartland of western Sydney

Eloise Hiller-Stanbrook (Dubbo)
* Tireless ruck who averaged 14 hitouts per game at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships

Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)
* All-Australian in 2019 and a crucial key defender who can move up the ground, also from western Sydney heartland

QUEENSLAND: [8]

Georgia Breward (Coolangatta)+
* Suffered a season-ending injury last year but showed plenty of talent and determination

Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
* Classy, smart forward who made All-Australian last year in her middle-age year

Dee Heslop (Yeronga South Brisbane)
* Consistent player who has been reliable in the defensive half and uses the ball well

Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)+
* Ruck prospect who played as an over-ager at the championships and performed strongly

Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
* Dual All-Australian and state captain, super talented midfielder

Taylor Smith (Bond University)+
* Tall target who presented well during the championships up forward, another overage player on the list

Serene Watson (Bond University)
* Another dual All-Australian from Queensland who provided a reliable marking target in the defensive half, repelling opposition attacks time and time again

Tarni White (Coorparoo)
* Returned from an ACL injury to show some promising signs at the championships and has plenty of upside

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: [4]

Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
* Dual All-Australian ruck and dual Most Valuable Player (MVP), South Australian and Central Allies captain, South Adelaide premiership player… the list of accolades is unbelievable. Top ruck in the draft crop

Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide)
* Smart user of the footy with elite athletic traits, premiership player at South Adelaide predominantly through the midfield

Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
* One of the top rebounders in the draft crop, an All-Australian in 2019 and consistent as they come

Jaimi Tabb (Woodville-West Torrens)
* Tackling machine who thrives on the contest and has shown a capability to also win the ball on the outside as well

TASMANIA: [1]

Mia King (Launceston)
* Super talented mover through the midfield with burst speed, King won the Eastern Allies’ MVP for the carnival to go with her All-Australian selection. North Melbourne have first priority being Tasmanian

VIC COUNTRY: [10]

Teagan Brett (Murray Bushrangers)
* Small midfielder who came of age in the championships, playing well on the outside and getting the ball from midfield into attack

Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
* Potential Geelong father-daughter selection, Brown was superb across the championships in defence until injury ruled her out of the final game. 2019 All-Australian

Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
* Accumulator who just finds the football and works hard into space, a key cog in Geelong Falcons’ midfield with Lucy McEvoy

Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
* Hard to even begin with the accolades, but a three-time All-Australian, dual Best and Fairest, premiership captain, Vic Country MVP… just a star and unbelievable leader who has captained for three years at the Falcons

Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
* Natural born leader who captained the Rebels this year and is as versatile as they come, can play anywhere and was a 2019 All-Australian

Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power)
* A late bloomer after having last year off, she can play up either end and is strong in the air and very good athletically

Paige Sheppard (Geelong Falcons)
* Raised her draft stocks at the championships with a terrific carnival following on from a consistent year in the NAB League Girls

Brooke Vernon (Dandenong Stingrays)
* One of Dandenong’s best in the NAB League Girls this year, playing as a rebounding defender who is as good in the air as she is at ground level

Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power)
* Tall forward who can also play through the midfield, Webber is an elite kick of the footy, arguably the best in the draft crop with accuracy and penetration

Ella Wood (GWV Rebels)
* Uncompromising midfielder who loves the contested side of footy and relishes winning the hard ball with great courage

VIC METRO: [15]

Alana Barba (Calder Cannons)
* A tackling machine who stood up particularly later in the year, emerging as a genuine draft chance with great defensive pressure

Molly Denahy-Maloney (Sandringham Dragons)
* Athletic ruck who captained Sandringham Dragons this year and held up Vic Metro’s ruck division in 2019

Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
* Captain of Western Jets and one who always puts her body on the line, Georgostathis was another who raised her draft stocks at the championships with important moments in big games. Can play anywhere on the field too

Isabella Grant (Western Jets)
* Potential Western Bulldogs father-daughter, she is able to play midfield or forward and can take a grab and hit the scoreboard

Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
* Known for her goalkicking last year, Gutknecht became an inside midfielder this year and was a key player in the Knights’ premiership side

Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
* Classy user of the football who can play anywhere on the ground, she was able to develop her inside game at the championships to add another string to her bow

Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
* One of only three Vic Metro All-Australians, McClelland can play anywhere on the ground and is strong in the air and capable of kicking terrific goals

Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
* One of the most consistent players this season, Morris-Dalton had a massive end to the NAB League Girls season and is so strong one-on-one, particularly in the air

Gabrielle Newton (Northern Knights)
* Dual All-Australian, Northern Knights premiership captain and one who is almost copied and pasted into the best every week, Newton hardly puts a foot wrong and has played literally everywhere on the field from the ruck to all thirds of the ground given her athletic talents

Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
* Overall MVP of the championships, Patrikios led her Calder side to a grand final and has the best agility of any player in the draft crop. Uses the ball well and is a dual All-Australian too

Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham Dragons)
* Speedy winger who has developed rapidly this year playing for the Dragons and earned a spot on Vic Metro’s list for the championships, holding her own there

Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
* Reliable defender who stood up in the NAB League Girls Grand Final for Northern and just does the job week-in, week-out

Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
* Key forward who is a strong contested mark and powerful set shot at goal, she thrived on one-on-one situations at the championships

Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons)
* Fierce tackling runner who just works hard all day and attacks the footy and ball carrier with vigour, able to play up either end and provide great defensive pressure

Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)
* Talented running defender who uses the ball well off half-back and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [4]

Sophie McDonald (Claremont)+
* Key defender who repelled opposition attacks and was able to set up attacking plays after some goal-saving moves deep in defence

Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)*
* Did not play up on the Gold Coast, but O’Driscoll is a reliable defender who has good positioning and high level smarts

Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
* Exciting key forward who has a massive vertical leap and could become a human highlight reel with her long kicking, goal sense and work rate; another All-Australian

Mim Strom (South Fremantle)
* Really stood out in the ruck as a key player who not only worked well at stoppages, but at ground level and around the ground, providing an impact – 2019 All-Australian too

+Overage player (ie. born 2000)

2019 AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations announced

FORTY-five players have been invited to the 2019 AFL Women’s NAB Draft Combine, with 25 from Victoria – where eight of the 10 AFL Women’s clubs are based, with Queensland (eight) the next highest. Four players from both South Australia and Western Australia have been invited, as have three from NSW/ACT and one from Tasmania. Among the invitees are five overagers (eligible last year), as well as two father-daughter potential selections in Isabella Grant (Western Bulldogs) and Millie Brown (Geelong). Players who are already pre-listed to clubs such as Gold Coast’s Ellie Hampson, West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen and St Kilda’s Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon were not included in the invitations.

The combine will be held from October 1-3 to align with the AFL Under-18 National Combine. Western Bulldogs hold the first pick in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft.

Extended content on the invitees will come later in the week.

2019 AFLW NAB Draft Combine Nominees

NSW/ACT: [3]
Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles)
Eloise Hiller-Stanbrook (Dubbo)
Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles)

QUEENSLAND: [8]
Georgia Breward (Coolangatta)*
Isabel Dawes (Maroochydore)
Dee Heslop (Yeronga South Brisbane)
Tahlia Hickie (Coorparoo)*
Lily Postlethwaite (Maroochydore)
Taylor Smith (Bond University)*
Serene Watson (Bond University)
Tarni White (Coorparoo)

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: [4]
Montana McKinnon (South Adelaide)
Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide)
Madison Newman (West Adelaide)
Jaimi Tabb (Woodville-West Torrens)

TASMANIA: [1]
Mia King (Launceston)

VIC COUNTRY: [10]
Teagan Brett (Murray Bushrangers)
Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers)
Luka Lesosky-Hay (Geelong Falcons)
Lucy McEvoy (Geelong Falcons)
Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels)
Shanara Notman (Gippsland Power)
Paige Sheppard (Geelong Falcons)
Brooke Vernon (Dandenong Stingrays)
Nikia Webber (Gippsland Power)
Ella Wood (GWV Rebels)

VIC METRO: [15]
Alana Barba (Calder Cannons)
Molly Denahy-Maloney (Sandringham Dragons)
Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western Jets)
Isabella Grant (Western Jets)
Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights)
Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh Chargers)
Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges)
Nell Morris-Dalton (Northern Knights)
Gabrielle Newton (Northern Knights)
Georgia Patrikios (Calder Cannons)
Marguerite Purcell (Sandringham Dragons)
Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights)
Cleo Saxon-Jones (Western Jets)
Felicity Theodore (Calder Cannons)
Nicola Xenos (Oakleigh Chargers)

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: [4]
Sophie McDonald (Claremont)*
Emma O’Driscoll (Swan Districts)*
Roxanne Roux (East Fremantle)
Mim Strom (South Fremantle)

*Overage player (ie. born 2000)

Scouting notes: AFLW U18s – Friday, 12 July

ON the final day of the Under-18 Championships we headed down to Bond University. It was a perfect day for footy with the sun shining and not a cloud in sight allowing the action on the field to do all the talking. Vic Metro continued their dominance finishing undefeated while Vic Country and Central Allies both prevailed in their respective tight contests. Taylah Melki was on hand to provide her opinion-based notes on players from each of the six sides.

EASTERN ALLIES v. VIC METRO

Eastern Allies

#9 Jayde Hamilton

Made her presence felt across the ground with her strength and desperation to win the ball at every contest. Stood up in the tackles and used her composure to think her way through defence. Slick hands out of the stoppages to release teammates and used her long clearing kick to try and get the ball out of danger.

#10 Abby Favell

Constantly involved in the contest and working hard to win the ball at the coalface. She showcased her clean hands in close to flick the ball out of the congestion and to a player in space. Applied strong tackling pressure and put her body on the line with her clever shepherds. Favell displayed her strong set of hands taking a heap of contested marks and intercept marks. Impressive passage of play at the start of the fourth quarter with a long booming kick from just outside defensive 50 towards the attacking 50 for Allies. Was arguably one of the best on field for the Allies who struggled to combat the pressure of Vic Metro.

#11 Mia King

Good read of the tap out of the ruck and good intent to win the ball and push it forward. Constantly involved in the play credit to her football smarts and commitment to the footy, putting her body on the line time and time again. Had the ball on a string for majority of the game showcasing her slick hands in close and working her way through traffic to dish the ball out to passing teammates. Came off early in the last term with a suspected knee injury but overall had a solid performance for the Allies who struggled to penetrate through the defence of Vic Metro.

#19 Sophie Phillips

Phillips displayed her intercept marking abilities taking a wealth of marks coming inside 50. She was under constant pressure and showed great composure to think her way through traffic and move the ball down the field.

#20 Brenna Tarrant

Worked tirelessly throughout the match to nullify the influence of the Vic Metro forwards, picking off errant kicks and showcasing her strong set of hands to take mark after mark. Imposed herself on the contest and used her football nous to bang the ball forward and create some type of forward momentum.

#24 Georgia Garnett

Good clearing kick to move the ball out of congestion and down the ground. She had a relatively up and down game emulating the consistency of her team but when she featured she made her presence with her clean hands and intent to move the ball forward.

#25 Tarni Evans

Evans applied good attacking pressure and showcased her goal sense to bomb the ball from outside 50 with the footy dribbling through only for it to be touched on the line registering their first score of the game. She worked hard throughout the game to win possession for her side and went in hard at every contest showcasing her intent.

Vic Metro

#3 Gemma Lagioia

She won plenty of the footy early on using her long clearing kick to pass the mess and move the ball forward to better options. Utilised her evasive skills to zip through players and create space across the field. She found really good space in the third term and highlighted her accuracy by foot, nailing a pass lace out to a teammate inside 50. She had a flying shot at goal picking the ball up off the deck and going for a run but the ball hit the post.

#4 Nicola Xenos

Xenos showcased her footy smarts to cleanly pick the ball up off the ground and go streaming forward, sidestepping her opponents and kicking the first goal of the game. Popped in and out of the game but when she had ball in hand she made the most of it, delivering slick passes and creating forward thrusts for her side.

#14 Laura McClelland

Good intercept mark and showcased good courage to go back with the flight and stand up in a pack. Went in hard at the footy both attacking in the air and at ground level and won her fair share of the footy throughout the match credit to her tenacity. Constantly hitting the packs with good intent and displayed her footy smarts to know when to leave her player and when to stick with them. Switched forward in the second half and made her presence felt, taking a strong pack mark early in third term and turning and slotting her first goal of the game. Huge tackle in the last quarter to claim a holding the ball credit to her strength and attack on the footy while also highlighting her decision making with a clever ball into the middle channel to open up the ground. Took a huge mark with two minutes left in the last quarter at full stretch on a slight angle and banged it through for her second of the match.

#17 Georgia Patrikios

Continued her hot form to break away from the packs and stream forward with a long booming kick just drifting through for a behind. Showcased her slick hands in close and her evasive skills to manoeuvre her way around opponents and find space in the forward 50 time and time again. Patrikios impressed in the third term with a pinpoint pass to Felicity Theodore resulting in a goal credit to her slick hands and intent to take the game on, going for a run and bounce through the forward 50 and opening up space. Patrikios was in everything and impressed, racking up plenty of touches and treasuring possession when she had ball in hand.

#22 Sarah Hartwig

Really strong mark in the second quarter to take it at full flight over the top of a couple of players. She showcased good elevation and football smarts to read the flight of the footy and drop back into the spot. Goal saving mark a couple of steps out from the goal line to top off a solid performance.

#23 Nell Morris-Dalton

Kicked the first goal of the second quarter with four minutes left on the clock credit to her footy smarts to shrug off the would be tackler and step to the side, bending the ball back and nailing an impressive goal. Constantly posed a threat inside the forward 50 with her commanding presence and goal sense.

#26 Gabby Newton

Good read of the ruck tap straight out of the middle to burst through the middle and take it cleanly to bomb the ball forward into their attacking 50. Newton showcased her accuracy in front of goal winning a free kick and making no mistake to score her first major of the game in the opening term. Ran into good space throughout the game and displayed her impressive vision to kick long into the forward 50 to a one on one. Good use of the angles to slice through the ground and open it up to create space and free running for Metro. Brought out the party tricks in the fourth quarter with an over the shoulder handball to a teammate in space while also doing the one percenters well such as tackling and tracking the ball at ground level.

#29 Cleo Saxon-Jones

Imposed herself in the forward 50 taking a strong mark in the opening term and highlighting her impressive kick to nail it between the big sticks. Good tackling pressure to win a holding the ball call in the third quarter. Impressive passage of play in the third quarter with a piercing kick straight through the middle to hit Patrikios on the lead.

#34 Jessica Fitzgerald

Applied plenty of physical pressure early, contesting hard to win the footy at the coalface and using her body to out muscle other players. Showed great intent to push the ball forward and create potential scoring opportunities. Moved into the forward in the last term and made no mistake taking a strong contested mark inside the goal square and slotting her first goal of the match.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA v. VIC COUNTRY

Western Australia

#7 Taylor Pescud

Worked hard at ground level to pick the ball up off the deck and keep the ball moving in the forward 50. She won her fair share of the footy and worked tirelessly throughout the match to win the ball and extract it out of the stoppages.

#8 Rebecca Viney

Worked hard in transition throughout the match to provide options across the ground. She consistently tried to win the footy at stoppages and was cautious with ball in hand to try and hit targets on the lead.

#13 Kia Buckley

Good contested mark in the forward 50 leading up at the footy resulting in a goal. Took a huge mark in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter but was unable to capitalise with the ball tracking to the right.

#17 Mikayla Bowen

Showcased her speed and good vision to go for a run down the wing and propel the ball long inside forward 50 to create scoring opportunities for WA. Showed good intent to try and win the footy time and time again while also highlighting her clean hands off the deck to pick the ball up off the ground with ease. Bowen was constantly involved in the contest, applying strong physical pressure and covering the ground well to have an impact at the contest.

#22 Nyra Anderson

Laid a huge tackle in the second quarter to claim a holding the ball call credit to her impressive athleticism and speed to trap Sophie Molan and bring her to ground. Showed good decision making to think her way through traffic and know when to burst away from packs.

#23 Mikayla Morrison

Good run and carry to break away from the pack and stream forward to slot her first for the game. She showed good spatial awareness to dodge players and keep her composure to lower her eyes and drill the ball through the big sticks.

#29 Roxanne Roux

The bandage on her head did not slow her down, working hard to win the footy both at ground level and in the air. She showcased her long booming kick once again, bombing the ball long down into the forward line. Bodied up well at the contest and got good separation from the tackler to break free and bomb the ball long down the line into the forward 50. Huge fly in the last quarter to get up high and then work hard to bring the ball to ground.

#35 Mim Strom

Kicked the opening goal of the game credit to her goal sense and ability to work her way through traffic and go for home. Showcased her impressive elevation in the ruck getting up high to tap the ball down to her teammates’ advantage, tracking well across the field.

Vic Country

#3 Paige Sheppard

Involved in everything early in the game getting hands to ball and showcasing her evasive skills to sidestep her opponent. She tracked the ball well at ground level to extract the footy and dish it off to a teammate in a better position.

#9 Darcy Moloney

Really built into the game and had an impact in the second half leading up at the footy and using her speed to get into dangerous positions across the ground. She had a shot at goal in the early stages of the third but just missed. Moloney showcased her skill to impact the play and cause havoc with her footy smarts.

#12 Tyanna Smith

Popped up in the third quarter and injected herself into the forward 50 with an impressive goal from about 35 out, slotting it straight through the middle. She showcased her strong hands to take a good grab and made the most of her leading patterns getting into space.

#14 Abbey Chapman

Showed a good ability to read the flight of the ball and cut off WA’s forward forays with multiple intercept marks across the backline. She worked tirelessly down back to win ball and propel it back down the field while also using her physicality to impact the play.

#21 Sophie Molan

Really built into the game and showed her good hands in close to feed the ball out of congestion and into space. Displayed good footy smarts and vision in the fourth quarter to dish off a loopy handball into space and create forward momentum for Country.

#23 Lucy McEvoy

Showcased her sheer strength and understanding to find the ball and use her body effectively to out muscle opponents. Injected herself into the game in the second quarter with a huge tackle to win a holding the ball call. Dropped forward late in the second quarter and offered a good lead up at the footy taking a strong grab and converting from about 20 metres directly in front for Country’s first goal of the game. Continued to show her dominance and ability to pick holes in defence to weave the ball through and hit targets throughout the match. Her marking was second to none, taking big grabs and getting up high to pick off stray kicks.

#24 Isabella Simmons

Good crumbing goal in the third term to pick the ball up off the deck and soccer it through for her first for the afternoon. Really good lead in the forward 50 and took a juggling mark on a tight angle from about 30 out but was unable to convert only registering a behind.

#25 Olivia Barber

Imposed herself early on in the game creating good leads and attacking the footy with strong intent. She displayed her strong hands to take a couple of consecutive marks but struggled to convert registering two behinds in the opening term. Showed good courage to go back with the flight of the ball and put her hands to the test taking some good strong marks across the ground acting as the outlet player for Country. She covered the ground well and ran hard to provide constant leads. She found plenty of opportunities in front of goal with another chance in the fourth but could not capitalise.

#29 Maggie Caris

Imposing figure in the last quarter taking two big grabs in the fourth quarter to stop the quick transition play from WA and allow Country to get re-entries into their forward 50. Was solid in the midfield defensive setup, cutting off WA’s clearing ball to the midfield and drilling it back forward.

QUEENSLAND v. CENTRAL ALLIES

Queensland

#4 Lily Postlethwaite

Showcased her strength and footy smarts to win one on ones and deliver well weighted passes to teammates moving past. Her strong hands were also a key feature of her game taking good marks and competing both in the air and at ground level to win the footy. Good vision to lower her eyes and sight a free player and deliver a bullet-like kick straight to her. Displayed her football nous to work her way through traffic and then make the most of her opportunities with ball in hand using it effectively and cleverly.

#8 Isabel Dawes

Good evasive skills to dodge her way through traffic and shrug off opponents to hit an opponent lace out on the wing. She used her quick hands to work her way through traffic and create space for her teammates. Showed a good burst of speed and footy smarts in the last term to zig-zag through the pack, read the tap out of the ruck and then stream inside 50 to kick long to a contest just outside the goal square.

#16 Ellie Hampson

Good out of the middle bursting away from the pack and using her pace to bang the ball long. Stood up in the tackles using her strength to shrug opponents off and showcased her long booming kick to bang it deep inside 50. Constantly involved in the play and displayed her physical nature taking the game on and moving the ball out of dangerous positions. She showed a never say die attitude, always hunting both the ball and the player.

#19 Zimmorlei Farquharson

Impressed throughout the game with her strong intent and desire to win the footy at every occasion. Won a holding the ball call in the first quarter credit to her strong tackling pressure and kicked it deep inside forward 50 to create a scoring opportunity. Was involved in plenty of contests going in hard and using her speed to weave through traffic. Took a strong contested mark inside the forward 50 but was unable to convert, only managing a behind. Made amends for her earlier miss with a strong take and a relaxed and composed run up to slot her first goal of the game. Good read out of the ruck to rove the pack, having a flying shot at goal but the ball just drifted left. She looked electric every time the ball came near her given her goal sense and dynamic movement.

#20 Charlotte Hammans

Worked her way into the game and made her presence felt across the field with her attacking style of play. She worked tirelessly throughout the match to try and extract the ball in close and then burst away.

#21 Taylor Smith

Stood up in the last term taking a big grab directly in front and converting her first for the afternoon to draw back the margin under pressure. She showcased her strong hands to take the ball above her head and displayed great composure to think her way through the shot and nail it.

#24 Annise Bradfield

Took a strong mark in the goal square credit to her footy smarts and clever body positioning and nailed her first goal of the game at the start of the second quarter.

Central Allies

#5 Shantel Miskin-Ripia

Worked tirelessly down in defence to try and chop off any forward forays from Queensland. Consistently got hands to ball taking a couple of intercept marks and dropping into the holes to regain possession for the Allies. Showcased her long booming kick to move it out of defence and push the ball forward.

#9 Jaimi Tabb

Proved to be hard to stop when on song, making her presence felt in and around the stoppages and flicking the ball out to teammates. She was a real bull and won a couple of clearances to move the ball forward and creating scoring pressure.

#10 Madison Newman

Worked her way into the game, winning plenty of footy in the forward half and working it around to better positions. Showcased her strength around the contest to get the ball out of congestion and move it forward with pace.

#11 Teagan Usher

Good read of the flight of the ball to get into the right spots and take numerous marks throughout the game. she tackled hard and applied good physical pressure to worry her opponents out of the contest. She covered the ground well and worked hard to try and create a contest at every opportunity.

#15 Mattea Breed

Really good overhead to take a strong mark inside forward 50 after a clever lead up at the footy slotting her first goal in the opening term. Took a big contested mark in the goal square and slotted her second goal for the game credit to her accurate kicking style and composure with ball in hand.

#23 Stephanie Williams

Impressive run through the forward 50 into an open goal shrugging off the tackler and getting the Allies on the board midway through the first quarter. Used her body well to take a strong grab near the goal square and then play on taking on the tackler and slotting it through for her second. Showcased her electric speed and attacking flair, soccering the ball off the ground and gaining important metres. Her attack on the ball was second to none hunting the ball and player throughout the match.

#25 Teah Charlton

Won plenty of ball throughout the game, going in hard at the contest and using her quick hands to feed the ball out to teammates. Positioned herself well around the stoppages to read the tap and get hands to ball. Extracted the ball with ease from the contest and showed good composure and footy smarts to take a couple of steps, look inside 50 and then deliver a spearing kick into their attacking 50. Displayed her strong set of hands to take an important mark just inside the centre square and then kick long into the forward 50. She applied good tackling pressure contesting hard at every opportunity.

#26 Montana McKinnon

Displayed her strong hands and defensive mindset to slot into holes and pick off errant kicks that came her way. She was really clean below her knees to pick the ball up off the deck all in one motion and then dish it off to a teammate while getting tackled. Applied good physical pressure to lay a strong tackle and win the ball back for the Allies. Took an impressive mark in the last quarter getting up high and showcasing her aerial ability to bring the ball down in a pack. Really good elevation when in the ruck working hard to direct her taps to her teammates.

#27 Tayla Hart-Aluni

Injected herself into the game early with her quick hands and impressive vision to sight players on the lead and dish off clever passes. Hit a perfect kick late in the first quarter lace out to Breed who slotted a goal. Second efforts were second to none competing both in the air and on the ground working tirelessly to regain possession for Central. Clean hands off the deck to pick the ball up and dish it off to a teammate all in one swooping action.

Scouting notes: AFLW U18s – Wednesday, July 10

ON the second day of the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, we headed down to muddy Southport where Vic Metro and Vic Country picked up another two wins against Queensland and Eastern Allies respectively, while Western Australia defeated Central Allies in the final match of the day. All notes are opinion-based of the individual writer.

QUEENSLAND VS. VIC METRO

Queensland

By: Peter Williams

#4 Lily Postlethwaite

Another strong performance from the Queensland captain who just kept getting better as the game went on. Her last quarter was phenomenal as she tried to lift her side to victory. She finds a way out of tight situations and uses the ball well by hand or foot. A couple of times she was forced to pump the ball inside 50 and it was chopped off, but she set up scoring opportunities by teaming up with Zimmorlei Farquharson. She had a highlight play in the final term, winning the ball on the wing, hitting up Farquharson, running past, sidestepping an opponent after receiving the handball and kicking forward, although it was chopped off in the attacking 50. Overall another impressive game, but particularly in the second half.

#6 Allanah Phineasa

Had a couple of chances on goal in the second term with a quick snap under pressure in the goal square missing before she lead out and took a good mark then converted the set shot. Phineasa kept pushing up and being involved in the play.

#8 Isabel Dawes

Hits the ball at speed on a muddy ground which was interesting but impressive at the same time. She is able to work her way through traffic and generally uses the ball fairly well throughout. Dawes had a chance on goal late in the game but it was stopped on the line.

#13 Dee Heslop

Really strong opening term, using quick hands in defence and was able to use the ball well by hand or foot. She was the key to restricting Metro’s flow in that first half, and also laid a massive tackle during the game on Emily Harley to earn a free kick and save a goal scoring opportunity. She won a free kick in the final term and went to take the game on to try and create something, but was wrapped up and called for holding the ball.

#14 Serene Watson

One of, if not Queensland’s best on the day and she really put together a consistent four quarter effort in the back half. She read the ball well in flight and used quick hands to run the ball out of defence in muddy conditions. Watson was good one-on-one at half-back to spoil a difficult kick that was right to her direct opponent, but she was able to nullify that contest. She also made a good decision under pressure to turn away from her opponent earlier in the game, spin and hit up a short target on the wing, and continually showed composure with ball-in -hand to save a potential goal late in the game and still hit-up a teammate in the back pocket despite being chased.

#16 Elle Hampson

A work horse performance in conditions that suited her game style to a tee. While her kicking at times was a bit scrappy, she was able to thrive in the mud with some strong positioning in marking contests and around the ball, firing out crucial handballs at times and suffered leather poisoning with plenty of possessions around the ground. She also had a perfect kick down the middle to a teammate after marking at half-back, and when not in possession was good at protecting the ball drop to mark at half-back.

#19 Zimmorlei Farquharson

Had a much better second game than her first, making a real impact at Southport with strong positioning in marking contests and a presence around the ball that always made her look damaging. Farquhqrson protected the ball drop when leading at the football and was able to simplify her marking by taking it on her chest. She not only showed good offensive attributes, but defensive ones as well, running down an opponent right on the defensive 50 and then producing a lovely kick into Allanah Phineasa.

#26 Maddison Levi

Played well in the back 50 and showed nice composure when under pressure. She won a big one-on-one close to the boundary deep in defence in the first quarter to kick cleanly out of the danger zone. Levi did this a number of times throughout the match and just looked solid throughout. Her work with and without the ball was impressive on the day.

#27 Kitara Whap-Farrar

Had another impressive performance, particularly on the defensive side of things with some great tackles, including a big run-down tackle on Britney Gutknecht on the wing. She showed good acceleration and determination, and put pressure on the ball carrier constantly. Whap-Farrar was also able to use her vision to dispose of the ball cleanly, and showed nice hands when under pressure.

Vic Metro

By: Taylah Melki

#4 Nicola Xenos

Showed good glimpses of spatial awareness to kick to teammates in space and was able to pick the ball up with ease off the deck. Clever read of the play to stay down when all the players went up and used her clean hands to move the ball out of congestion. Good evasive skills to dodge a couple of players and skip through the middle of the ground.

#5 Elisabeth Georgostathis

She made her presence felt going in hard at the contest and competing at every contest possible. Applied good strong physical pressure and showcased her strength to get her arms free in the tackle and dish the ball off. Georgostathis presented hard up at the footy to give Metro options across the ground and used her dynamic movement to cause confusion. Got a good crumbing goal out of the pack midway through the fourth term credit to her consistent attacking pressure and ability to read the play. Had moments of clever play to break away from the pack and break lines but was inaccurate by foot at times.

#16 Emily Harley

Scored the opening goal for Vic Metro credit to a strong mark in the goal square over the top of a couple of players. She showcased her impressive knowledge to out body her opponent and work them under the ball to take a big strong mark and kick truly.

#17 Georgia Patrikios

After a quiet first quarter by her standards Patrikios well and truly imposed herself on the match in the following three quarters. She displayed her football smarts with a perfectly weighted pass in the second term to teammate Britney Gutknecht on the lead. Patrikios steadily built into the game in the second quarter winning plenty of ball and finding good space across the ground. She covered the ground well and ran hard throughout the match to provide options. Really clean hands coming out of defence to work the ball through traffic and hit a teammate in space. Constantly involved in the contest hunting around the back of stoppages and working her way through congestion to win the ball. She provided plenty of attacking and defensive pressure to make her presence felt right across the field with her clever decision making and silky skills.

#20 Sarah Sansonetti

Started the match off with good intent and was clean below the knees to pick the ball up off the ground and dish it off to a teammate. She tracked the ball well at ground level and used her long kick to move the ball out of the back half.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

She worked her way into the match really taking the game on and opening up space credit to her run and carry. Good use of angles and vision to kick to teammates on the lead and displayed her impressive spatial awareness with an over the shoulder handball to a teammate in space. McKenzie’s sheer ability to shrug off tacklers and burst away is second to none while also using her bullet like passes to slice through Queensland’s defence. She is a real bull around the contest going in hard to extract the footy time and time again. McKenzie proved that she is not afraid of the contest laying her body on the line and dishing out some bone bruising bumps to win the ball across the ground.

#23 Nell Morris-Dalton

The forward was awarded a 50 metre penalty in the third term and made no mistake kicking the footy straight through the middle to claim her first for the morning. Grew in confidence as the game went on taking a strong grab in the forward 50 but was unable to convert only registering a behind.

#26 Gabby Newton

Newton showcased her ability to read the play dropping into holes and taking timely intercept marks throughout the match. She was not afraid to apply some strong physical pressure with big tackles through the middle of the ground and used her strong hands to out mark her opponents. Provided a good lead in the forward 50 using her football nous to break away from her opponent. Her cleverly positioned kick put the ball to the top of the square resulting in a mark turned goal to set Metro up for the rest of the game. Utilised her long booming kick to move the ball inside forward 50 and create some possible scoring opportunities. Took a really strong mark on a tricky angle inside forward 50 and made no mistake banging it straight through the middle for her first goal of the game. Good off the deck to take the ball cleanly below her knees and bang it long down the line out of defence late in the fourth term.

#29 Cleo Saxon-Jones

Showcased her ability to be a real presence up forward with her imposing figure and long booming kick. She created a couple of scoring opportunities early in the first half to trap the ball inside the forward 50 but faded out a bit as the game went on.

#34 Jessica Fitzgerald

Really good positioning to take a clever intercept mark in the middle of the ground in the third term. Displayed her footy nous to cut off passes and then quickly transition into attack for Vic Metro. She worked hard throughout the match to win the ball and out position her opponent time and time again.

EASTERN ALLIES VS. VIC COUNTRY

Eastern Allies

By: Peter Williams

#9 Jayde Hamilton

A really strong defensive effort from the forward who capitalised after some hard running in the first term. She ran past her opponent and got to the ball first as it rolled along the ground close to goal for her to soccer it through for the first major of the day. Hamilton was able to create some good run across the ground and also crack in and lay a number of memorable tackles.

#10 Abby Favell

Had a really busy start to the game picking up some early touches, then buzzed around the ground to intercept the ball through either marking, tackling or implied pressure to help her teammates. She showed good hands moving the ball out of defence and was able to get to the right spots around the ground.

#11 Mia King

Got better as the game went on to be an inside machine, laying tackle after tackle with huge amounts of defensive pressure. King not only applied pressure to her opponents, but won the pill herself, racking up the most touches of anyone on her side. What is impressive is she not only uses the ball well, but cracks in at both ground level and in the air and always puts the team first with good bumps and shepherds to lead by example. Once she got going she was hard to stop with good acceleration and a hard edge to her game,

#13 Zoe Hurrell

Booted the second goal for Eastern Allies after a free kick just outside the goalsquare. Hurrell positioned herself well in the marking contest and earned the free, then set up a scoring opportunity for her teammate in Emily Hurley after Hurrell burst away to kick inside 50 nicely. A big tackle on the much taller Olivia Barber on the wing in the third quarter to earn a free kick was an important moment and overall she was really solid across the board.

#19 Sophie Phillips

Did not finish with a huge amount of touches but honestly was one of Eastern Allies’ best. Phillips was terrific in the back half with three big tackles leading to three free kicks and disposals that cleared the danger out of the back half. When the defence was under pressure, Phillips was a shining light and her best tackle came against Sophie Molan, stopping a would-be goal deep in defence.

#20 Brenna Tarrant

Another Eastern Allies player who was strong on the inside and found plenty of it going in hard at the contest. Tarrant showed good vision under pressure to hit-up a target going forward and was able to create some scoring opportunities by moving the ball on in transition. Tarrant also worked hard to push into defence and assist her teammates and play an important role throughout the game.

#21 Olivia O’Donnell

Started the game strongly with a long kick inside 50 to set up a goal, and just patrolled the defensive half of the ground winning the footy and dropping back to assist the defence. She was hard at it around the stoppages on her way to a solid game and the second most touches for her team behind Mia King.

Vic Country

#1 Elise Vella

Went in hard at the footy and was involved in the contest early on. Good attack on the footy to pick the ball up off the ground all in one action and dispose of it. Showed good composure to think her way through the traffic. 

#3 Paige Sheppard 

Found good space and used her long, accurate kick to hit targets. Showcased a safe set of hands to take strong grabs even with players coming at her. Good lead up at the footy in the forward 50 and slotted her first goal of the afternoon from about 35 out directly in front. 

#7 Ella Wood

Worked tirelessly throughout the match winning her fair share of the footy and making the most of her opportunities with ball in hand. Impressive sliding pick up off the ground to regain possession for Vic Country.

#9 Darcy Moloney

Almost kicked an impressive goal on an impossible angle in the first term with the ball hitting the post. She showed good goal sense to take a step and bring it back around but just missed out. Good hands out of congestion and impressive vision to find her teammates. Tracked the ball well at ground level and applied strong tackles. 

#10 Sophie Locke

Played her role across the field doing the little things right and regaining possession many times. Laid a huge tackle in third term and showed good awareness to come off her player and influence the play.

#12 Tyanna Smith 

Impressive through the midfield and at stoppages extracting the ball out of the packs and working it to a teammate in space. Good tackling pressure and intent to win the footy. Lovely kick and pass to McDonald to set up a scoring opportunity for Vic Metro.

#13 Molly McDonald

Good evasive skills to dodge a couple of opponents in the middle of the ground and still dispose of the ball. Good awareness to soccer the ball forward and keep it moving into their forward 50 to help supply forward pressure. Nailed her first goal of the game in the fourth quarter showcasing her good kicking action and strong hands to take a big mark inside 50.

#15 Isabella Shannon

Good long kick, always looking to move the ball on quickly and down the line. Slick hands out of the middle to bang it on the boot and push the ball forward. Clever burst of speed through the middle to kick the ball deep into the forward 50.

#19 Brooke Vernon

Clean pick up off the ground and good sense of spatial awareness to sight a teammate and handball the footy off to her.

#21 Sophie Molan

Really good run and carry through the midfield in the second term to open the ground right up. Strong in and around the contest to extract the footy and dish it off to teammates. Good tackling pressure to bring her opponent to ground. Beautiful snap around the body after reading the tap out of the ruck to top off her solid performance. 

#23 Lucy McEvoy

Hot start once again, finding good space and using her body to put muscle her opponents in the contest. Good both in the air and at ground level scrapping hard to win the footy time and time again. McEvoy showcased her tackling prowess with plenty of strong tackles to bring opponents to ground. Strong hands and displayed her football knowledge to float back into spaces and pick off errant passes and then quickly transition into attack. Really good angled kick through the middle of the ground to open up the whole field. Impressive evasive abilities to sidestep her opponent and palm off a handball. Took a huge contested mark in the fourth quarter using her body and brute strength to win the ball and penetrate inside 50.

#25 Olivia Barber 

Really strong mark above her head and good spatial awareness to move the ball on quickly into an open forward 50. Her forward thrust created a scoring opportunity for Vic County. Constantly stayed in the contest laying strong tackles and making her presence felt across the field. 

#27 Shanara Notman

Really injected herself into the contest going in hard at every opportunity. She worked hard in the ruck contests to try and out body her opponent and tap it to her teams advantage. Really good elevation to get up high and get a tap. Good clean pick up in the second quarter in the forward 50 with the ball rolling forward and kicking her first goal of the game. Showed good intent to keep the ball moving taking a strong mark in the forward 50 and playing on but just missed only managing a behind. Really good hands and composure to stand under the high ball but was unable to convert from a tricky angle in the forward 50. 

WESTERN AUSTRALIA VS. CENTRAL ALLIES

By: Taylah Melki

Western Australia

#9 Isabella Lewis

Contested hard to win the footy on the ground and proved that she was not afraid to take on the physicality of the game. Nailed an impressive goal from the boundary line midway through the second term. Highlighted her attacking abilities and footy smarts to go back and think her way through the shot. Lewis consistently

#10 Mikayla Hyde

Displayed her solid kicking action and strong hands to take a big grab and then convert from directly in front about 30 out in the third quarter. Hyde was clever in traffic to work her way through the players and deliver the ball to teammates in space.

#13 Kia Buckley

Good strong hands to take a contested mark on the chest. Found good space and in the forward 50 to set up play for her teammates. Created a real presence in the forward half using her footy smarts to get into damaging positions and having a ping at goal but just missing.  

#17 Mikayla Bowen

Lifted in intensity hitting the contests hard and using her voice to help set up play. Presented well up at the footy and capitalised on her opportunities in front of goal nailing her first goal in the last quarter. 

#22 Nyra Anderson

Electric around the stoppages always hunting the ball and applying strong tackles in and around the contest. Good evasive skill to get around her opponents and then bomb it long down the line.

#23 Mikayla Morrison

Displayed good footy nous to drop back into an open goal square and dribble one through for her first of the afternoon. She ran hard across the ground and showed good composure to not blaze away. 

#29 Roxanne Roux

Showcased her defensive pressure with a good smother in the midfield to stop the forward foray of Central Allies. Constantly involved in the contest and used her aerial abilities to contest the ball in the air and attack the hands of the opposition. Took a really big leap in the third quarter but was unlucky to not come down with the footy. Roux applied plenty of physicality and worked overtime to try and win the ball for WA. Applied plenty of physical pressure laying bone crunching tackles but copped a head knock in the third and forced her to come off with a blood rule. 

Central Allies

#9 Jaimi Tabb

Real bull around the contest applying strong physical pressure. Did not take a backwards step throughout the game. Good burst through the stoppage in the forward 50 having a shot at goal but had more time than she thought with the ball going out of bounds.

#10 Madison Newman

Good with ball in hand and showed great composure across the field to work the ball through traffic and dish it out to a teammate. Used her long penetrating kick to move the call forward. Good hands in close and impressive spatial awareness to spin out of trouble and into open space. 

#11 Teagan Usher

Impressive diving mark to regain possession for the Allies showcasing her skills and desperation to put her body on the line. Strong booming kick to move the ball forward and great scoring opportunities for the Allies. She was constantly involved in the action and worked tirelessly to try and win the ball.

#13 Kiana Lee

Imposed herself in the forward 50 with a good strong mark directly in front but was unable to covert with the ball just dropping short. Really good strong contested mark on the wing to our body her opponent and bomb the ball forward. Won her fair share of the footy and found good space to work the ball into.

#23 Stephanie Williams

Displayed her speed and skill to burst down the wing and create some run and carry. Good user of the footy and always looked to move the ball on and down the field. She was competitive throughout the match and had glimpses of real excitement.

#26 Montana McKinnon

Really good in the defensive end picking off errant passes and applying good pressure. Strong one on one and tried hard to limit the forward thrusts from Western Australia. She was a real lynchpin down in defence using her voice to help set up play. McKinnon out bodied her opponents on multiple times and showcased her strength above her head to clunk some important and timely marks.

Vic Country pulls away for 30-point win over Eastern Allies

VIC Country prevailed over Eastern Allies in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships in a 30-point victory that saw two completely different halves of footy.

It was a very offensive first term, with both sides finding plenty of the ball inside 50 but a great defensive effort kept both sides off the board. The Eastern Allies opened the scoring for the afternoon, with Jayde Hamilton kicking a beautiful goal from right in front after finding her way out of congestion. However, Country were not to be outplayed, getting one back almost immediately thanks to Olivia Barber on the run, using the ball well out of stoppages credit to clean handballs and movement out of the pack. The Allies’ tackling pressure was impressive, doing their best to dominate every stoppage with physicality and pressure on both the ball and player. Country finished the first term well, stealing the momentum and going into the second with an eight point lead.

The Allies started strong once more, getting an early goal on the board credit to some great movement down the wing, rarely moving through the guts unless turning it over from Country. But Country once again got two goals back, with entries finding good space over the back to the forward line in prime position credit to the side’s ability to clear the ball effectively. The Allies showed some good intent, finding their way out of congestion well and doing a good job to limit Country moving downfield, cutting them off inside 50 and creating two-on-one contests. It was not enough, however, as Country continued to hold onto momentum despite an even quarter.

Both sides tightened up in the third, with only the one minor score to Country to speak for a quarter chock full of massive defensive efforts across the board. Country tightened up across half-back, blocking up entries via the pocket and effectively stopping the Allies at their main access point, however had difficulty getting ball back out once it came inside 50 credit to the offensive pressure from the Allies. The Allies’ defensive unit worked overtime locking the ball in their forward half, with tackling pressure key as Country continued to fight for dominance.

Both sides came into the final term hungry and raring to go after a mostly uneventful third quarter, attacking the ball and fighting for dominance with plenty of time to close the margin. Despite some scrappiness early, Country had no shortage of entries inside 50, finding plenty of it but being cut off by the Allies once more. What was an impressive attacking battle eventuated in a solid defensive contest, seeing Country outlast Eastern Allies with two final quarter goals all but sealing the deal for a 30-point victory.

The victory saw Lucy McEvoy dominate possession, racking up 24 disposals, three marks and three tackles, aided across the field by the likes of Paige Sheppard (17 disposals, one goal) and Molly McDonald (14 touches, eight tackles, four inside 50s). For the losing side, Mia King found plenty of the ball with 18 touches and 14 tackles, joined by Olivia O’Donnell (15 disposals, four clearances) and Hamilton (10 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal).

VIC COUNTRY 2.2 | 4.4 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)
EASTERN ALLIES 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 (12)

GOALS:

VC: P. Sheppard, M. McDonald, S. Molan, O. Barber, B. Hards, S. Notman.
EA: Z. Hurrell, J. Hamilton.

ADC BEST:

VC: L. McEvoy, M. McDonald, P. Sheppard, S. Molan, S. Notman, T. Smith
EA: M. King, B. Tarrant, J. Hamilton, O. O’Donnell, A. Favell, S. Phillips

Scouting notes: AFLW U18 Championships – Vic Metro vs. Vic Country

IN an impressive game of skill and pressure, Vic Metro got the better of Vic Country for the final Round 1 game of the AFL Women’s Under 18s Championships. Metro won by 44 points and now head up to Queensland full of confidence, while Country will be keen to follow last year’s lead and bounce back from the Metro loss to win against their three opponents up there. Below are Taylah Melki‘s opinion-based notes from the weekend’s match.

U18 Vic Metro

#3 Gemma Lagioia

She worked hard throughout the game and won a heap of the footy over the four quarters. Really good mover across the field and showed good football knowledge to use the ball well and think her way through defence. Always seemed to be in the right positions at half-forward or on a wing for the quick kick out of defence by Country opponents. She would often use her composure to think her way through situations and hit-up targets going forward. Playing through the inside, Lagioia also showed a different element to her usual run-and-gun skilled game with some contested ball winning ability too.
 
#5 Elisabeth Georgostathis
 
Georgostathis impressed throughout the game winning the ball time and time again. She had good positioning in the forward 50 taking a clever mark but was unable to capitalise early in the first quarter missing to the side. She continued her hot form with a very impressive goal on the fly off a few steps and slotting it right through the middle early in the second quarter. She showcased her good hands in close and was clean off the deck. She applied good physical pressure with some crunching tackles throughout the match and attacked the ball hard to win the footy and dish it off to teammates.

#14 Laura McClelland 

McClelland was busy early on and did well to try and repel the forward forays that came her way. Good user of the footy to kick lace out through the middle of the ground and find a teammate in space. She was a real bull around the contest and used her physical pressure to try and out body her opponent. McClelland seemed comfortable behind the ball and was able to push up the ground and kick long when requited.

#15 Alyssa Bannan

Bannan made her presence felt on the scoreboard for Vic Metro with a goal right on the siren in the opening term with the ball rolling through. She presented well up at the footy to take a strong mark on the lead but was unable to capitalise in front of goal in the third term. But she quickly made up for inaccuracy credit to some good body positioning and strong hands above her head to take a big mark just inside the goal square and nail her second goal. Bannan showcased some real attacking flair with a run along the wing, pushing off four opponents and working her way through traffic. She went for a bounce but the ball did not sit for her but worked hard to win the ball back. Nailed her third goal in the fourth quarter, highlighting her good movement in the forward 50 and cleanliness with ball in hand.

#17 Georgia Patrikios

Really good around the contest, clever mover through traffic to keep her arms free and release the ball to a teammate. She applied good tackling pressure to bring her opponent to ground time and time again and showcased her strong hands under pressure. Patrikios displayed her ability to read the flight of the ball and take a couple of big grabs while also appearing to have plenty of time and space to make clever decisions with ball in hand.

#21 Ellie McKenzie

Found plenty of the ball throughout the game appearing to have the ball on a string. She used the ball across the field and showcased her vision and intent to move the ball forward on multiple occasions. Used her nice long kick to penetrate through the opposition defence and took a couple of really strong marks credit to her ability to read the flight of the ball. Impressed with arguably one of the plays of the day streaming down wing and showcasing her speed with 5 bounces ending in the forward 50. McKenzie won plenty of the ball and was a real general across the ground dictating space and delivering the ball to her teammates well. Displayed all her skills and spatial awareness to run through the middle of the ground and just open up the forward 50 time and time again.

#22 Sarah Hartwig
 
Hartwig had a day out down in defence and was a real general down back controlling the forward forays. She won plenty of ball and stood up time and time again in one-on-ones. It was easy to identify what she was doing as time and time again once she knew Metro had numbers covered at the stoppages, she would drop back a kick behind play in case Country cleared the ball out of the stoppage with a bomb on the boot. Taking plenty of intercept marks, she was also able to identify targets up the field, and if she did not mark it, she would spoil her direct opponent, or peel off and come across as a third player up. One of Metro’s best and used it well on the attack.

#23 Nell Morris-Dalton
 
Good crumbing goal showcasing her goal sense and footy smarts to take a few steps around her opponent and then snap it straight through the middle after missing her first two shots at goal. Posed a dominant threat in the forward line kicking another goal in the third quarter after picking the ball up off the deck and using her body positioning to get around her opponent and slot it through the big sticks.

#24 Isabella Grant
 
Grant took a big mark in the opening term and kicked the first goal of the game squeezing it through the big sticks to kick start Metro’s campaign. She took another solid mark in the first quarter and was awarded a double 50 metre free kick and kicked truly nailing her second goal of the game in the first quarter. She consistently presented well up at the footy causing havoc in the forward line and won another double 50 metre and scored from directly out the front

#26 Gabrielle Newton

Newton had a hot start, involved in everything early. She showcased good composure to kick a perfectly weighted pass along the wing and found good space across the ground. She ran hard throughout the match to provide strong leads and options across the field. Was not afraid to get involved in the contest applying good tackling pressure and presented well up at the footy. Posed a threat in all areas of the ground offering strong leads in the forward 50 gathering the ball that popped out the back and banged it straight through the big sticks to kick her first for the game. Used her strong hands and good vision to punish the opposition.

Vic Country

#3 Paige Sheppard

Worked hard throughout the four quarters and particularly stepped up in the second half with the game slipping away from Country. Put her body on the line time and time again and ran hard to win touches through the middle and set up attacking plays. Applied great defensive pressure on the ball carrier throughout the match as well and was one of Country’s best in that area.

#4 Renee Saulitis

Relatively quiet day early given Metro’s forward half dominance, but left her mark on the game with a quick couple of steps and a goal midway through the final quarter once Country had a sniff going forward. She showed that she has what it takes to be an impact player slotting another goal in the final term credit to her goal sense and clean hands. Just finds space and is clever around goal.

#5 Luka Lesosky-Hay

Lesosky-Hay was busy early on winning a heap of the ball and working hard across the ground to get into damaging positions. She was not afraid to put her body on the line and contest for the ball both in the air and at ground level.
 
#10 Sophie Locke

A key player down in defence, read the play really well and contested hard at every occasion. Locke took a heap of big contested marks and kept her feet. She used her strong hands to win the ball back for her side and dished off a couple of well weighted kicks to teammates. She showcased her good hands under pressure and covered the ground well to consistently impose herself on the contest winning her fair share of the ball.

#12 Tyanna Smith

Provided some trademark run off half-back and along the wing, trying to break the lines going forward. It was tough for her to get too much happening with the ball camped in the Metro’s defensive half, and with Metro’s defenders, such as Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard so well set up forward of centre. She kept trying throughout the four quarters and did have a few nice plays across the game.

#21 Sophie Molan

Molan was good in close and worked tirelessly around the contest to win the ball for Country. She showcased her strength in the air with a big contested grab and was strong overhead to go back with the flight and put the mitts up.

#22 Millie Brown

Brown had a blinder winning a heap of the footy and using it well. Really safe set of hands and played a solid role down in defence. She really controlled the defensive 50 and worked hard to try and nullify the influence of her opponents. Consistently showed good intent to move the ball forward and make her presence felt across the field. Brown highlighted her footy smarts reading the play well and floating into the right spots in the defensive 50 to regain possession for her side. She was careful and precise with ball in hand making the most of her possessions.

#23 Lucy McEvoy

McEvoy led from the front all game accumulating plenty of the ball and using it efficiently. Lowered the eyes and used the ball well to kick the ball lace out to a teammate on the lead. She showcased her strength to take a big mark despite the oncoming contact and pressure and dropped into the holes taking a good intercept mark. She used her long booming kick to move the ball forward and create scoring opportunities. McEvoy positioned well across the ground and just consistently imposed herself on the contest, involved in everything. She pushed hard in the final term to try and create a spark. She moved forward and applied good pressure to try and create shots on goal but was unable to capitalise in the last quarter only registering a minor score.

Vic Metro claims impressive AFLW U18 win over Country counterparts

VIC Metro has made an impressive statement to the rest of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships teams with a clinical 44-point win over Vic Country at Avalon Airport Oval yesterday. Northern Knights middle-ager Ellie McKenzie was absolutely superb playing around the ground, working hard in a midfield that showed it could balance its share of contested and uncontested work, with McKenzie taking a five-bounce run along the wing – just two shy of her effort in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, despite dewy conditions. Knights teammates Britney Gutknecht and Gabby Newton also worked hard through the midfield, while Alyssa Bannan and Sarah Hartwig were prominent up opposite ends.

From the first bounce it was clear the Metro side, led by Western Jets utility and potential Western Bulldogs father-daughter selection, Isabella Grant was up for the match. Grant herself booted two opening term goals – one of which came from a double 50-metre penalty after her opponent tackled her after mistakingly hearing the umpire call play-on. Despite the dominance of play, Metro still could only muster two goals from five scoring shots, before Isabella Simmons got one back against the flow. Just nine points up, and the game seemingly more in Metro’s control than the scoreline suggested, it took a few pieces of magic down the wing, and a flying shot from Alyssa Bannan just before the quarter time siren, for the ball to bounce past the diving arms of defender Millie Brown and bounce through for Metro’s third goal of the quarter as the siren rang out.

Brown was everywhere for the Country side in defence as she swallowed up a number of Metro forward entries, but was ultimately overwhelmed as Metro’s pressure all but locked the ball in their half for the second quarter. Country had just a couple of inside 50s in that second term, while Nell Morris-Dalton started to turn up the heat, spraying a set shot, just missing a snap and then arguably nailing the hardest shot of the attempts. Over the middle two quarters, Metro controlled play, with Bannan, McKenzie and Newton all impressing, including a great one-on-one goal to Morris-Dalton in the third term that saw her stay on her feet against Lucy McEvoy, win the ball and snap around her body to all but ice the game. It came after Shanara Notman converted a vital goal for the Country team, doing all she could leading up forward and making good on her set shot. For all of Metro’s dominance on the field, they finally had it on the scoreboard with a 44-point margin.

The final quarter looked like a different game to start with, as Country began to win more of the ball out of midfield and give its forwards opportunities to kick goals. Renee Saulitis finally got her chance with a bit of space and she weaved her magic not once, but twice, getting the ball over the top and using her calm, cool composure to slot two goals after a miss earlier in the game. Country cut the deficit back to less than 40 points, but another double 50-metre penalty to Grant – with an opponent getting in the protected area – saw her remarkably kick her third goal of the game, and her second from point-blank. Not to be outdone on the scoreboard, the most clinical play of the day came next with Oakleigh Chargers’ Nicola Xenos roving a tap and pumping the ball inside 50 to a contest. Bannan was the first to pick up the ball cleanly, evade an opponent and kick her third truly to match Grant. This time, for all of Country’s dominance, a purple patch by the Metro team saw them draw level for the quarter and enjoy a big win.

Metro had winners across the park, with McKenzie, Lagioia, Gutknect and Western Jets’ skipper Elisabeth Georgostathis all playing important roles through the midfield, while Sandringham Dragons’ skipper Molly Denahy Maloney played an underrated game through the middle quarters, intercepting a lot of ball through the midfield and half-forward to set up plays. Morris-Dalton and Bannan were the benficiaries up forward, while down back, Hartwig was sensational, knowing when to drop off the contest and stand a kick behind play ready for the quick Country clearance out of a wing stoppage. Despite the ball largely being camped up the other end, Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard rebounded most of what came near them, and loom as a damaging duo not just this year, but next year as well.

For Country, Brown was absolutely sensational throughout the four quarters, often under siege on the last line, she and Murray Bushrangers’ teammate Sophie Locke were often the ones clearing the ball out of the back 50, while Tyanna Smith and Paige Sheppard provided some great run from half-back and through midfield. McEvoy unsurprisingly played a four-quarter game and showed intent laying some massive tackles on opponents as she tried to will the side over the line. Saulitis was another who stood out when given her chance going forward, while the likes of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels middle-agers Maggie Caris and Simmons kept presenting around the ground. Ultimately though, Metro had too many winners across the park, and head up to Queensland full of confidence following a terrific victory over their Victorian Country counterparts.

VIC COUNTRY 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
VIC METRO 3.3 | 5.6 | 8.9 | 10.10 (70)

GOALS:

Vic Country: R. Saulitis (GWV) 2, I. Simmons (GWV), S. Notman (Gippsland)
Vic Metro: I. Grant (Western) 3, A. Bannan (Northern) 3, N. Morris-Dalton (Northern) 2, E. Georgostathis (Western), G. Newton (Northern)

ADC BEST:

Vic Country: M. Brown, L. McEvoy, P. Sheppard, T. Smith, R. Saulitis, M. Caris
Vic Metro: E. McKenzie, G. Lagioia, A. Bannan, S. Hartwig, G. Newton, I. Grant.

AFLW U18 Championships preview: Vic Country vs. Vic Metro

VICTORIA’S top under-age female footballers lock horns in the final game of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships Series One. Vic Country takes on Vic Metro at Avalon Airport Oval tomorrow, with both sides packed to the brim with talent. After facing off in the NAB League Girls competition all year, the best of the best now team up for state pride as they prepare for Series Two of the competition up on the Gold Coast in a fortnight. We take a look at both sides and analyse the key strengths of the teams.

Note: The game will be live streamed via the NAB League website with commentary from Under-18 and VFLW commentator Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central Chief Editor Peter Williams.

VIC COUNTRY

B: 10. Sophie Locke – 22. Millie Brown – 30. Daisy Smith
HB: 19. Brooke Vernon – 14. Abbey Chapman – 15 Isabella Shannon
C: 12. Tyanna Smith – 23. Lucy McEvoy – 13. Molly McDonald
HF: 3. Paige Sheppard – 27. Shanara Notman – 24. Isabella Simmons
F: 4. Renee Saulitis – 25. Olivia Barber – 9. Darcy Moloney
R: 29. Maggie Caris – 11. Brooke Hards – 5. Luka Lesosky-Hay
INT: 21. Sophie Molan – 1. Elise Vella – 28. Georgia Howes – 18. Kate Douglass – 6. Laura Gardiner – 16. Renee Tierney

Vic Country is unsurprisingly packed with 2018 premiers and 2019 finalists, Geelong Falcons, with nine of the 24 players named in the Country squad from the Falcons team. Given exciting forward Mia Skinner is injured, their representation could well have reached double figures for the Aasta O’Connor-coached side. The aspects to like about Vic Country will be their defence, hardness at the ball and the X-factor up forward.

1. Defence

The Country side has two genuine lockdown talls who can also provide some rebound in Abbey Chapman and Kate Douglass, while Millie Brown – named at full-back is an offensive defender with a terrific set of hands and can push up into the midfield to provide support. Brooke Vernon was the best rebounding medium defender this year and having her at half-back will be an asset, while seeing Isabella Shannon named in the back half is a surprise, but just shows her versatility having played mostly through midfield and up forward. She does have the capacity to drop back into the hole in defence, and no doubt she will be required to do so with the tall Metro attack likely to stretch the defence. Sophie Locke will likely lock down on a smaller opponent – perhaps Nicola Xenos or Jess Fitzgerald when forward – while Daisy Smith can do the same, although she is more likely to play tall. Given the height and marking ability of the Metro side, they might need three talls in defence to counteract Metro’s strength in the air.

2. Hardness at the ball

If you look at the starting five midfield of Brooke Hards, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Tyanna Smith, Lucy McEvoy and Molly McDonald, the first thing that comes to mind is – you would not want to be an opposition midfielder. They attack the ball hard, and will rack up the contested ball and is an area they can exploit Metro. Smith has a point of difference with her pace, as does the outside run of Elise Vella coming off the bench, but the speed that Metro possesses will trouble the Country side. It is why winning it at the coalface is so important, and McEvoy, Hards and McDonald in particular will not take a backwards step, being captains and potential future captain of their respective NAB League girls clubs. With Maggie Caris in the ruck, the midfield will get first look at it more often than not, and that midfield also includes the likes of Sophie Molan and Laura Gardiner coming off the bench, as well as Paige Sheppard and Darcy Moloney who can rotate through there, as can Shannon and Brown.

3. X-factor up forward

The named Vic Country forward line is almost one to watch for 2020, with four of the six starting forwards not eligible to be drafted until next year. The two exceptions are Shanara Notman – an exciting key position player with a huge leap and terrific hands, who has spent time in defence this year for Gippsland Power after sitting out last year – and Paige Sheppard – who is one of the better kicks in the team, setting up forward plays with great precision kicking and vision. Otherwise, the remaining four still have plenty of time to develop, with Olivia Barber one of the most exciting key forwards coming through, able to make the right leads and clunk marks, just needing to iron out her set shots at times. Isabella Simmons is a tall prospect with good athleticism who roams up to the wing and can play tall or small at ground level, while Darcy Moloney and Renee Saulitis are clever forwards who if you give them an inch will take a mile. Moloney has spent time in the midfield for the Falcons this year, while Saulitis has also proven to be a more than capable defender, so versatility is something the Country side has in spades. The forward line has the nice balance of talls and smalls, and of course chuck in Renee Tierney and Georgia Howes off the bench – Howes will also share the ruck load with Caris – and there is plenty of scoring potential there.

VIC METRO

B: 2. Felicity Theodore – 28. Isabelle Pritchard – 14. Laura McClelland
HB: 22. Sarah Hartwig – 20. Sarah Sansonetti – 12. Alice Burke
C: 8. Mimi Hill – 13. Britney Gutknecht – 17. Georgia Patrikios
HF: 26. Gabrielle Newton – 29. Cleo Saxon-Jones – 24. Isabella Grant
F: 15. Alyssa Bannan – 23. Nell Morris-Dalton – 4. Nicola Xenos
R: 27. Molly Denahy Moloney – 3. Gemma Lagioia – 21. Ellie McKenzie
INT: 19. Marguerite Purcell – 5. Elisabeth Georgostathis – 34. Jessica Fitzgerald – 10. Alana Barba – 18. Emma Horne – 9. Bella Eddey

Vic Metro will head into this game pretty confident following their win over Vic Country last year as arguable underdogs. This year they will likely go in as favourites, but it is predicted to be a tight contest. There are quite a few reasons for their favouritism, but the forward line marking ability is the number one aspect, while others include their speed, and intercept marking.

1. Marks inside 50

The Metro side has a dynamic forward line, with many incredibly athletic at ground level and can impress in the air or at ground level. The two that are the genuine key position players – Cleo-Saxon Jones and Nell Morris-Dalton – are arguably the two best contested marks in the competition this year, and throwing them into attack with Gabby Newton, Isabella Grant and Alyssa Bannan means the attack has a massive advantage for high balls coming in. The Vic Country defence will need to be on their guard with the forward line also capable of pushing up the ground and rotating through the midfield with any one of those five capable of playing as a key position player, while all have the possibility of giving a chop out in the ruck. Nicola Xenos is the sixth forward, who adds more speed at ground level and can also play out of defence or along the wing. Emma Horne, Jess Fitzgerald or Bella Eddey are all named on the bench, and the trio can add that smaller element to the forward mix, particularly Eddey who can play tall or small with plenty of X-factor.

2. Speed

Having already spoke about Vic Country’s advantage on the inside, Vic Metro’s advantage is on the outside, and particularly with speed. Most of the starting midfield has serious wheels, with Gemma Lagioia, Ellie McKenzie and Mimi Hill all capable to taking off on runs. Georgia Patrikios is the most agile player in the competition, so expect her to use her trademark sidestep to get around opponents, while Britney Gutknecht can also get herself out of trouble. While Country does have more hardness on the inside, McKenzie and Gutknecht will form the same bond they did in the Knights’ premiership side, looking to extract the ball out to their runners, or take the game on themselves. Fitzgerald is another who adds to the speed and is one of the best kicks in the side, while Marguerite Purcell also adds some outside run. Alana Barba was one of the most prolific tacklers in the NAB League Girls competition, so she will assists Gutknecht and McKenzie rotating off the bench, while Elisabeth Georgostathis will likely spend time through the midfield and rotate with Alice Burke off half-back. If the Vic Country midfield gets on top on the inside, do not be surprised to see Georgostathis and Burke thrown into the middle with Gutknecht or McKenzie to add some extra grunt. Molly Denahy Moloney will hope to counteract the leap of Caris, but does have her when it comes to around the ground, with Denahy Moloney one of the better athletes among the talls.

3. Intercept marking

We talked about the strength in the air in attack, but the embarrassment of riches down back in terms of the three tall defenders is a luxury that Vic Metro has. Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard are arguably the two best intercept markers – along with teammate Sarah Sansonetti and Country duo Brown and Chapman – and they will likely pick off anything that comes their way. They can all play as rebounding defenders or to shut down their opponent, with Sansonetti the top shutdown tall, while Hartwig is the top rebounding tall. The mix can be swapped around depending on how games play out at the championships, but to have the three – two of which are middle-age and will form the key defensive partnership next year – is something Metro coach Nathan Burke will love. With running machine Felicity Theodore and Alice Burke also back there, the Metro team have speed and defensive pressure that can run down forwards heading into goal. Laura McClelland is more often known for her ability in the forward half, but she can mark the ball and find space well, adding to the height in defence. As mentioned, Georgostathis is another player who might rotate through the defensive mix, while Barba is also known to drop back into defence at times, allowing for some versatility for the Metro coaching staff.

Draft Central Team of the Year: NAB League Girls

WITH so many impressive individuals performing across the NAB League Girls nine-week season, it was incredibly tough to pick our Draft Central Team of the Year for 2019. The Team of the Year is decided by the amount of Team of the Week nominations a player receives, with everyone in the team receiving between three and seven nominations for the year. There were a further 10 players who were unlucky to miss out on the team despite receiving three nominations, while another 18 players – 52 in total – received at least two nominations.

Three players received the highest amount of nominations, with Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis, Dandenong Stingrays’ Brooke Vernon and Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis making our Team of the Week seven times. Georgostathis has been named captain of the side, having led the Jets in season 2019. Two other club captains – Geelong Falcons’ Lucy McEvoy and Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels’ Sophie Molan – as well as Falcons midfielder Paige Sheppard, received six nominations to make our 24-player squad.

It is a phenomenal effort to even have five nominations – more than half the possible games – and Sandringham Dragons duo, Sarah Hartwig and Alice Burke, Northern Knights duo Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht, Calder Cannons captain Georgia Patrikios, and Eastern Ranges tall Serena Gibbs all achieved that feat. In terms of those players with four nominations and thus automatically qualifying for the side are Stingrays’ key defender Zoe Hill, potential Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, Gippsland Power defender Matilda Van Berkel, Murray Bushrangers’ captain Millie Brown, and Northern Knights middle-age duo Jess Fitzgerald and Ellie McKenzie.

Of the remaining six players chosen to make the side, there were Oakleigh Chargers duo Emily Harley and Gemma Lagioia, both of whom have been electrifying at times in an even team, top five leading goalkicker, Northern’s Nell Morris-Dalton, Geelong Falcons talls; competition leading goalkicker Mia Skinner and reliable defender Abbey Chapman, and Bendigo Pioneers tackling machine Brooke Hards. The emphasis for the remaining players with three nominations was to allow for top-agers to fill the side, but Hards’ efforts were that impressive – summed up by winning the Bendigo Pioneers’ Best and Fairest award – that she earned a spot in the side.

In terms of club spread, it is no surprise to see minor premiers Northern Knights with the most nominees, having five in the side, while reigning premiers Geelong Falcons had four. A number of sides had two each including finalists, Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges, as well as Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons, while Bendigo Pioneers, Gippsland Power, GWV Rebels, Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets had one player each. In terms of the three emergencies, key defenders Kate Douglass (Bendigo) and Isabelle Pritchard (Western), and Murray midfielder Abby Favell were the next three in line for a spot in the team.

Eight players followed up from their Draft Central Team of the Year in 2018 with a second nomination, those being Knights, Newton, Gutknecht and McKenzie, as well as Georgostathis, Burke, McEvoy and Patrikios.

NAB League Girls Preliminary Finals preview – Grand Final spots up for grabs at Shepley

FINALS fever hits the NAB League Girls competition, with a revamped finals series set to get underway at Shepley Oval on Saturday. A spot in the grand final is on the line in both games as first does battle with fourth, and second plays third. In the weekend’s other game, Oakleigh hosts Tasmania at Windy Hill in a one-off exhibition.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS (1st, 8-0-1) vs. EASTERN RANGES (4th, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 12:30pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Greater Western Victoria Rebels 0.5 (5)
Eastern Ranges 3.1 (19) defeated by Sandringham Dragons 3.5 (23)

Last Meeting:
Round 5 – Northern Knights 7.8 (50) defeated Eastern Ranges 4.2 (26) @ La Trobe University Oval

MATCH PREVIEW

The undefeated Knights came into the year as strong premiership fancies, and firmed as favourites with their 36-point Round 8 win over reigning premiers, Geelong – avenging their 2018 grand final defeat and snapping the Falcons’ two-year winning run in one fell swoop. The only hiccup in Northern’s season thus far was a Round 2 draw with Oakleigh, with the best attack in the league and a raft of stars helping them ease to eight wins – including ones over two fellow finals sides. They are only one step away from a second-consecutive grand final berth, but an exciting Eastern team stands in the way. The Ranges are one of the best marking sides in the competition, and can compete with most teams on their day, but suffered a couple of disappointing losses to lower-ranked sides and had a close encounter with Tasmania in Round 7. Their narrow margins of victory and defeat – including three wins by under a goal – make for heart-stopping games, but their more convincing wins like their 51-point one over Gippsland show why they are always a chance. Eastern’s prime movers in the middle include potential 2020 Collingwood father-daughter selection Tarni Brown, as well as gun bottom-ager Tess Flintoff, and Olivia Meagher, but their most potent threats will come through the tall duo of Laura McClelland and Serena Gibbs forward of centre. Northern key back Sarah Sansonetti has been in terrific in recent weeks, and could well find herself playing on both of those Ranges talls throughout the game. While her role will prove vital, if the likes of Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, and Ellie McKenzie are thrown into the middle at the same time as we have seen recently, it may be tough for the Ranges to venture forward in the first place. The versatility of those three will make a huge difference, and one would think the range of Knights weapons could well prove too much as it did in the side’s previous meeting. With Northern getting one back on Geelong two weeks ago to come in as the top seed, and Eastern suffering a defeat in their final regular season outing, this will be a tough mountain to climb for the Ranges.

KEY PLAYERS

Northern:

Gabby Newton

The Northern skipper has been sensational throughout the year, averaging almost 20 disposals over her eight NAB League games. Much has already been made of her basketball background, with the gun midfielder showing off her hops in the ruck at times and her equally impressive composure in traffic to no end. While her starting position will most likely be at the centre bounces, Newton’s role as a general behind the ball will be key in this clash – with a potent Eastern tall duo likely to line up down forward. Her intercept marking and overall overhead prowess is profound, so look for that to be a feature in this game along with her consistent ball-winning ability – with over 20 disposals in five games this year. Versatile and damaging, Newton is key.

Eastern:

Serena Gibbs

Gibbs is one of three Eastern talls who pose an enormous risk to the Northern defence, often trading time between centre half-forward and the ruck. If she is matched up on Northern’s Sarah Sansonetti, the clash becomes one of the more important ones for the game with the likes of Laura McClelland and Tahlia Merrett also able to be freed up should they play forward at the same time. Gibbs has found the goals in seven of her nine NAB League appearances, led by a dominant 3.4 from 18 disposals against Gippsland in Round 8. While her Round 9 return saw her collect under 10 disposals for just the third time, Gibbs has been a consistently dangerous threat and will be a key focal point this time around.

GEELONG FALCONS (2nd, 8-1) vs. CALDER CANNONS (3rd, 6-3)
Saturday May 18, 2:15pm
Shepley Oval, Dandenong

Round 9:
Geelong Falcons 8.7 (55) defeated Murray Bushrangers 1.1 (7)
Calder Cannons 5.7 (37) defeated Gippsland Power 1.0 (6)

Last Meeting:
Round 7 – Geelong Falcons 3.2 (20) defeated Calder Cannons 1.0 (6) @ RAMS Arena

MATCH PREVIEW

The Geelong Falcons bounced back well from their Round 8 loss to Northern – their first since May 2017 – to secure second place with a welcome return to form, toppling Murray by 48 points after conceding the first goal. Their depth across all lines is scary good, but their premiership defence has largely been built on a typically sturdy back six and dominant midfield, with their forward structure taking greater shape across the year. Abbey Chapman has led the league’s stingiest defence all year, with the Falcons’ highest score conceded (43) coming against Northern, while the likes of skipper Lucy McEvoy, Paige Sheppard, and Luka Lesosky-Hay have been instrumental in the engine room. Pair the inside grunt of those three with the outside class of Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney on either wing, and you have a midfield that is hard to beat to say the least. Mia Skinner has been the spearhead forward of centre, booting a league-high 18 goals – including two bags of four – having only been held goalless on two occasions, in Rounds 7 and 8. The Cannons have some firepower of their own, which more often than not comes from star duo, Georgia Patrikios and Georgie Prespakis. Both have the ability to not only find a wealth of the ball through the middle, but to also find the goals – exemplified by Prespakis’ bag of seven in Round 2 from full forward. Prespakis, the sister of Carlton star Maddie, has averaged 23.3 disposals over her eight games with two returns of over 30 touches, while Patrikios averages just over 22 in her seven outings, and the pair should provide a dynamism that Geelong will have to pay great attention to. Include talls at either end, such as the likes of Alana Barba up forward and Krstel Petrevski, along with Makeisha Muller at ground level, and there are some interesting moving parts to the Calder line-up. Having already gotten the better of Calder as recently as in Round 7, Geelong will be confident of repeating the feat and storming into another grand final. If Calder can again keep the Falcons to under four goals though, then anything can happen. Expect fireworks either way.

KEY PLAYERS

Geelong:

Lucy McEvoy

Able to be utilised on each line, the Falcons skipper is arguably her side’s most important player. An ultra-consistent force, McEvoy has only dropped below 20 disposals once in her eight games – incidentally in the Falcons’ only loss – to average 22.2 disposals per outing. Her presence at the centre bounces in undeniable, using her size to prize the ball out and her composure to flick out effective handballs to receivers. In general play, McEvoy utilises a booming kick to rebound and enter either arc, while positioning herself a kick behind the play to act as an impenetrable wall at both ends. Her overhead marking is a feature, but expect to see her mostly in the thick of the midfield action given Calder’s strength in that area.

Calder:

Georgia Patrikios

Patrikios is all but equal to McEvoy in her disposal output, but provides a different kind of threat from midfield. Having shown how damaging she can be on the outside during her bottom-age year, Patrikios has developed into a balanced midfielder very quickly, but is still often seen bursting away from congestion and delivering forward with aplomb. The Cannons star’s best game came in Round 7 against the Falcons, collecting 31 disposals and finding the goals, so she will hope to produce more of the same here. With the strength of Geelong’s midfield obvious, Patrikios’ point of difference in her pace will be key amidst that battle.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS vs. TASMANIA DEVILS
Sunday May 19, 11:00am
Windy Hill

Oakleigh hosts Tasmania on neutral ground for a one-off friendly game, completing a hat-trick of Devils NAB League appearances. With Oakleigh narrowly missing finals, this game poises the travelling side against the best of the rest as finals gets underway, and will be a third opportunity for them to pick up a win in the competition. Tasmania entered in Round 7 with two games over three days, going down to Western by 37 points under Friday night lights, and giving Eastern a mighty scare just two days later. Oakleigh will be keen to finish off the season with another win to make it six all up, but the Devils showed their fighting spirit already and should provide a good test for the Chargers. The game will also be a curtain raiser for the NAB League boys clash between Gippsland and Greater Western Victoria at 1:00.