Tag: Sharni Layton

2021 AFLW Preview: Collingwood Magpies

COLLINGWOOD is on a mission to go deeper in the AFL Women’s finals after a promising first season under a new head coach, bouncing back from a last placed finish in 2019.

2020 RECAP

After a disastrous 2019 season which saw the club handed the wooden spoon with just one victory to their name, new coach Steve Symonds turned it around in 2020 for the black and white to play finals for the first time. Brianna Davey lived up to all expectations crossing from arch rivals Carlton, having an impact throughout the season, while Jaimee Lambert had an unbelievable season to win the club best and fairest. Had in-form defender Ash Brazill not torn her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against Melbourne, it is not against the realms of possibility to suggest Collingwood could have gone even deeper than falling to North Melbourne by a kick in the elimination finals.

NEW FACES

The Magpies lost a couple of key players over the off-season, particularly Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan who both headed to Richmond, while Aliesha Newman (Melbourne) and Abbey Green (North Melbourne) came to the club. Whilst not like-for-like, the Magpies targeted size and speed in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Father-daughter selection, Tarni Brown, and Joanna Lin provide the outside class and skill, while Amelia Velardo, Abbi Moloney and Bella Smith add height to the side. Talented sports star Imogen Purcell also joined the club to add natural athleticism to the mix.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

There are plenty to keep an eye on, but perhaps none more exciting than the versatile Chloe Molloy. Expected to return forward like she did in her junior days and in her return season off a long-term injury in 2020, Molloy will be better for the run last season and expected to continue her form from her debut season. Now four preseasons in at the Magpies, the high X-factor marking talent has all the ability to tear games apart and will be crucial in hitting the scoreboard regularly.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

The Magpies showed rapid development from 2019 to 2020, even with the loss of Brazill midway through the season, and Molloy returning from injury having missed so much football. The likes of Sharni Layton, Sarah Rowe, Mikala Cann and Alana Porter all made huge strides last season, and throw in career-best seasons from experienced duos of Brittany Bonnici and Steph Chiocci, it is little wonder why the Magpies could get it done.

QUESTION MARK

Consistency is the big question mark for the Magpies in 2021. Their best was by far good enough to challenge the best sides, as shown by their upset of Carlton, and pushing Fremantle and North Melbourne all the way in finals. Unfortunately it was more lapses within games that cost them, having had chances to win those close ones, and then having the disappointing outing against Melbourne in Round 4. If they can iron out that consistency, particularly four quarter consistency, then they are a side to watch this season.

FINAL WORD

Collingwood is more than capable of challenging the big sides in 2021, and while D’Arcy in particular will be a massive loss for the black and white, they have recruited and drafted well, and will hopefully be at full strength again for a finals tilt.

Picture credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Carlton & Collingwood

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Victoria, in powerhouse clubs Carlton and Collingwood.

Carlton Blues – Victorian Pool

Draft selections (Vic # in brackets): 12 (7), 28 (20), 36 (25)

Off-season summary:

Carlton was involved in a couple of major trade deals during the off-season, with inaugural Blue Sarah Hosking‘s move to Richmond one of the most notable exchanges of the trade period. It was the first confirmed deal made, and would allow the Blues to then land Melbourne gun Elise O’Dea and fellow former-Demon Maddy Guerin, offloading the pick 15 they received for Hosking. The Blues moved up the draft order ahead of a bumper crop, as defender Jayde van Dyk and pick 46 were swapped for pick 36. Add former Gold Coast youngster Charlotte Hammans to the mix, and Carlton remains one of the big winners out of a busy off-season as it enters the premiership window. Four players – Joanne Doonan, Katie Harrison, Sharnie Whiting, and Emerson Woods – were delisted.

A draft look:

While the O’Dea coup will undoubtedly bolster Carlton’s already elite midfield group, Hosking’s departure arguably leaves room for a fast, outside midfielder to enter the fold. With their first selection back at pick 12, the Blues will have access to the seventh Victorian pick.

There are a bunch of high-end hopefuls in the mix; Northern Knights co-captain Jess Fitzgerald would provide a like-for-like Hosking replacement, able to bring speed on the outside and good balance with her inside toughness, while Alyssa Bannan could be a shrewd pick to develop under her idol, Tayla Harris – though the Blues are well stocked in the key forward department. Carlton has a great relationship with the Northern region, and could continue the trend with their latest crop.

The likes of Winnie Laing, Abbey Jordan, and the silky Bella Eddey could all be in the mix for a share in those later two picks. Laing is a leader at the Sandringham Dragons and is a terrific runner, Jordan fits the bill for outside run, while Eddey is a terrific user of the ball who can rotate through the midfield from up forward.

Collingwood Magpies – Victorian Pool

Draft selections (Vic # in brackets): 19 (12), 25 (17), 26 (18), 31 (21), 33 (22)

Off-season summary:

With an incoming father-daughter selection and a forwardline to bolster, the Pies had a mixed off-season. Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan were packaged up to Richmond in exchange for picks in the later rounds, with Katie Lynch also headed to the Bulldogs. It leaves Collingwood a touch lacking in that forward department, with D’Arcy and Lynch doubling as tall depth lost. Abbey Green was nabbed from North Melbourne to support Sharni Layton in the ruck, while exciting Melbourne forward Aliesha Newman is another good get. With four retirees – Emma Grant, Kalia Bentvelzen, Eliza Hynes, and Machaelia Roberts – only one player (Georgia Gourlay) was delisted, with a decent turnover rate meaning the Magpies will have to gel quickly in order to continue their steep rise. It was hardly the big-name signing period Collingwood had last time out, but should set the club up well in future and for the upcoming draft.

A draft look:

Parting with their first round pick means the Pies will likely only have to pay a second round price for gun father-daughter selection, Tarni Brown. She is daughter of 254-game former captain, Gavin and sister of current players Callum and Tyler. The Eastern Ranges product has long been on the elite level radar, and is clearly cut from the same cloth as her brothers with terrific footy smarts and agility through midfield.

Elsewhere, Collingwood may look to re-stock its forwardline with whatever picks remain. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) utility Renee Saulitis would be a handy fit to replace Dargan with some x-factor, while Rebels teammate Isabella Simmons may also be a good fit at 185cm. Incidentally, both are Magpies fans. Another GWV tall, Maggie Caris could also be the developing ruck type Collingwood is after, while Mimi Hill is a classy midfield option should the Pies look to continue their Oakleigh link. Norwood’s Matilda Zander could prove a smokey having played under Steve Symonds in South Australia. She was poised to play for Collingwood’s VFLW side this year.

Surprised McRae loving footy journey

WHEN she first started football, Grace McRae and her father had to “sneak around” behind her mother’s back in order to play the new sport. Eventually her mother caught on and everyone was on board, and now it is hard to keep it a secret after the Gippsland Power midfielder was invited to the AFL Women’s Draft combine. Whilst the combine will not go ahead due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it showed there was enough interest in the teenager that her father made the right choice.

“My friend, it was a local club in Inverloch and they didn’t have enough players and she was playing with them currently, so I asked my dad because I knew my mum wouldn’t let me play,” McRae said. “So I asked my dad if I could fill in for them and play for them for a few games.”

“So me and my dad, he was sneaking me around to go play footy, then eventually my mum found out and then my local coach said ‘hey do you want to play? You’ve been nominated to go play interleague’ and then I went and played interleague that my local coach was my interleague coach and he said ‘Gippsland Power are looking at you’ and then I got an invite to Gippsland Power.”

Having come from a basketball and netball background, McRae enjoyed juggling the sports up until recently, representing Dalyston in the netball right until the most recently completed season, and basketball up until she started at Gippsland Power. It took some work to manage her time, but McRae got it done.

“Netball would clash on the same weekend as Gippsland Power. My local football club, which was Dalyston,” McRae said. “They, the netball club let me (play football) if I had a football game on the same day because Gippsland Power varies from Saturday to Sunday. So if Gippsland Power was on Saturdays, I just said sorry I couldn’t play that game. I’d give them a lot of time, like a heads up so they could find another player to fill in.”

“But luckily for me, most of the games where on Sunday. “So my local club, I just have to give them a lot of notice of what games would be clashing. “And then, yeah, they were happy for me to go play footy because they know that’s sport. I really, really love.”

As for juggling other commitments such as studies or work, McRae said it was all about time management and sticking to it.

“You have to definitely designate your certain times like you have trainings at certain times for different sports,” McRae said. “So you gotta make sure like I have free’s at school. “I have to make sure I really use them if I need to stay in at lunch time at school. “That’s what I had to do. “I designate, like, after school times that I know I didn’t have training or work and all games, and I’d make sure I sit down and do that.”

Looking back on her journey through the junior elite pathway, McRae said she has loved every moment and would not change a thing.

“The pathway has been amazing,” she said. “I didn’t expect it. “Honestly, I thought I was just going to play local footy. “So to actually go through the ranks of interleague and then Gippsland Power has been awesome. “They clearly show that you can have a pathway as well, like they say you can from Gippsland Power. “You can get nominated or you go play these kind of like the pathways and they are clearly highlighted to players, which is absolutely awesome.”

McRae is a predominant midfielder who showcases clean hands and hard running, but most of all a competitive spirit. In recent times she has been thrown forward and back throughout games to increase her versatility, but the inside midfielder loves being at the coalface of the contest. Still hoping to develop her kicking – after all she has only 10 games at NAB League level – the AFL Women’s Draft hopeful still has a chuckle about the first training session she had with the Power.

“I was holding the football wrong apparently the whole time when I came into Gippsland Power,” McRae said. “So they helped me fix that. “And yeah, my kicking definitely has improved, but I know I can approve it further.”

An honest conversation with Gippsland Power Female Talent Manager Chelsea Caple and senior coach Scott Armour helped lift McRae’s intensity in her draft year as she set her sights on the elite level.

“I wasn’t expecting like, named into the combine or anything, but I had a chat with Scotty and Chelsea at Gippsland Power and they asked me what I wanted to do and I said, ‘I definitely want to give getting drafted a crack’, but I’d mostly just wanted to have fun. “Enjoy it because it, like it, just goes too fast. “So my goal is definitely to get drafted. “But also just to have fun.”

Having reached the national championships for basketball, won a couple of Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in the sport, as well as a league best and fairest in the Under 17s despite being two years younger in the age group, it would have been easy for McRae to see her potential in those codes. Instead, she looked to another former netballer who has made the transition into Aussie rules as her inspiration.

“I’m going to say Sharni Layton just because she’s been in netball pretty much a whole life,” McRae said. “And then just to do a 360 and go into footy and just like challenging yourself, I think that that really inspired me just because she she wasn’t 100 per cent sure of footy but she just gave it a crack. “And she’s, she’s loving it, and I I feel like that’s what I look towards as well.”

McRae certainly is loving her football and remembers her debut fondly, marking it as her favourite football memory. In scorching heat at Frankston Oval, the Power went down to Oakleigh Chargers by 50 points but McRae went on to have nine touches and lay an equal game-high eight tackles in the process. She went from strength to strength and has loved the journey.

“The playing group at Gippsland Power, through both years have been excellent, and I think that’s what’s really helped me,” McRae said. “(I) really enjoy … that environment of Gippsland Power and the players I was playing with, we got along as well and it was amazing.”

AFL Women’s Trade and Free Agency update: Monday, August 3 – Richmond, North and Carlton busy on day one

RICHMOND has looked to experience to bolster its AFL Women’s midfield stocks and help Monique Conti out by acquiring Carlton midfielder, Sarah Hosking. The tough ball winner will cross to Punt Road in exchange for Richmond’s end of first round compensation pick, 15th overall. The pick allows Carlton to have two selections inside the top 10 of the Victorian pool, effectively picks seven and nine (12 and 15 overall). Hosking is a clearance player who provides run and will help bolster a Tigers midfield that really struggled in 2019.

However whilst Tigers fans would have rejoiced at the sight of adding an experienced midfielder to the fold, they would also be disappointed to hear one of their brightest stars has left to play for North Melbourne. Grace Campbell will swap her yellow and black for blue and white for the bargain basement price of Pick 43. Campbell averaged 12 touches and six tackles in season 2020, and the 24-year-old showed plenty of promise.

In the game of round-about, Kangaroos’ ruck Abbey Green has headed to the Magpies to provide some support in the ruck for Sharni Layton with the Pies handing over Pick 40 in the process, providing the Roos with another third round pick.

Another trade involving a late swap of picks was between Carlton and St Kilda, with former VFL Women’s Rising Star, Jayde Van Dyk heading to St Kilda with pick 42 in exchange for pick 36, effectively giving the Blues a slight upgrade in the third round. The defender will be a welcome addition to Moorabbin next season, continuing the youth presence there.

Off the trade front, Collingwood 2019 draftee, Machaelia Roberts has called time on her career, joining Eliza Hynes in retirement from the Magpies. Among those also previously having announced their retirements are Adelaide quartet Courtney Cramey, Jess Foley, Courtney Gum and Sophie Li, Richmond duo Laura Bailey and Lauren Tesoriero, St Kilda’s Emma Mackie, West Coast’s Talia Radan, Western Bulldogs’ Nicole Callinan and of course, Demon turned Cats champion, Melissa Hickey.

AFL WOMEN’S TRADE / FREE AGENCY TRACKER:

CARLTON:

IN: Pick 15, Pick 36
OUT: Sarah Hosking, Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42

COLLINGWOOD:

IN: Abbey Green
OUT: Pick 40

NORTH MELBOURNE:

IN: Grace Campbell, Pick 40
OUT: Abbey Green, Pick 43

RICHMOND:

IN: Sarah Hosking, Pick 43
OUT: Grace Campbell

ST KILDA:

IN: Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42
OUT: Pick 36

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW players: #3 Jaimee Lambert

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially coming to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

#3 JAIMEE LAMBERT

AVERAGES: 22.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 4.6 inside 50s, 6.4 tackles, 0.4 goals

There is no denying that Lambert is a real livewire across the ground, constantly able to make something out of nothing. Her crumbing style of play allows her to track the ball at ground level and dispose of it easily, while her dynamic movement and spatial awareness make her one of the most exciting players to watch able to light up the ground with her sheer presence. She is unpredictable and oozes that layer of class able to hit a teammate lace-out thanks to her precision with ball in hand.

Lambert took her game to a whole other level in season 2020 guiding Collingwood to some big wins and using her general nous to have an influence. Her desperation to win the footy and have an impact across the ground was undoubted racking up a whopping 22.3 touches each game. Able to move into the midfield and play a role up forward, Lambert went from strength to strength throughout the season taking everything in her stride.

A real leader on the footy field, Lambert was a ball magnet for the Pies finding the footy at the bottom of every pack. She was not afraid to put her body on the line averaging 6.4 tackles a game such was her intent and physicality at the contest. Her turn of speed allowed her to hunt down opposition players and lay big tackles while her high level of execution was also evident.

Lambert found the big sticks on a couple of occasions, able to dart around inside the forward 50 and lead up at the footy when it came her way. Her clever leading patterns and strong hands made her a key cog for Collingwood while her experience paid dividends able to direct traffic across the ground.

She consistently stood up under pressure winning the footy when it needed to be won and using her pace to evade players and create attacking forays. Although the Pies did not get the job done in the final against North Melbourne, Lambert showcased her array of talents amassing an equal team-high 22 disposals along with six marks, five tackles and two behinds – although she would be ruing those missed chances. Her quick slick hands make her hard to stop when on song, able to dish off a handball to a player flying past.

The Collingwood speedster delivered the ball inside 50 effortlessly able to sight her teammates in space with an average of 4.6 the highest of any of her teammates. She is nimble at ground level and is constantly on the look out for the next play combining well with the likes of Sharni Layton in the ruck and new recruit Bri Davey along with Chloe Molloy to have a demanding presence on the ground. Credit to her impressive season Lambert took out Collingwood’s best and fairest award while also being named in the All-Australian squad.

Draft Central’s Top 50 AFLW Players 2020: #40-#36

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition we move on with the players ranked 40-36, featuring two key members of the Collingwood spine, a couple of boom recruits, and a thriving young key defender. Check out who made the cut in front of the players ranked 45-41.

#40 EMMA SWANSON (WEST COAST)

6 GAMES AVE: 17 disposals, 2.2 marks, 4.5 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 rebound 50s, 3.3 inside 50s

Swanson proved the perfect partner-in-crime to West Coast star Dana Hooker upon making the switch over from GWS to the incoming Eagles, leading her side for clearances, metres gained, and inside 50s at the end of a terrific 2020 campaign. It was arguably the midfielder’s best season since debuting for the GIANTS back in 2017, and the 25-year-old seems to really be hitting her prime now. Swanson was also one of the Eagles’ best in their lone win for the year, collecting a season-high 22 touches and one goal to help her side upset the Bulldogs in Round 4.

#39 STACEY LIVINGSTONE (COLLINGWOOD)

7 GAMES AVE: 9.9 disposals, 2.4 marks, 1.6 tackles, 4.1 rebound 50s, 5.6 intercept possessions

An uncompromising key defender, Livingstone returned another consistent campaign as the leader of Collingwood’s back five. Her experience and competitiveness proved vital as the Pies made a run for finals in the absence of Ash Brazill, taking on the opposition’s best key forward each week with little fuss. Of course, few could forget the job Livingstone did on Carlton gun Tayla Harris in Collingwood’s first ever win over its arch rival, with her no-frills game the perfect counterpart to many a high-flying spearhead. Despite missing out on a spot in the final All Australian side, Livingstone is one of the league’s finest defenders.

#38 SARAH ALLAN (ADELAIDE) 

6 GAMES AVE: 12.5 disposals, 80% efficiency, 3.5 marks, 1.8 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s

Allan’s steady rate of improvement over her four-year AFL Women’s career culminated in a season good enough to earn All Australian recognition, with the 22-year-old slotting into the last line of defence after also being named in the 22 Under 22 team. The reliable key defender was again a calm influence in the Crows’ back half, working well on all levels without possession, while also leading her side in disposal efficiency with ball in hand. Allan started the year off with a bang against Brisbane, collecting a season-high 18 disposals, while her seven-mark performance against GWS was also memorable – despite the losses.

#37 LIBBY BIRCH (MELBOUNRE) 

7 GAMES AVE: 12.1 disposals, 3.6 marks, 1.6 tackles, 2.1 rebound 50s, 6.4 intercept possessions

Melbourne’s boom recruit coming into season 2020 was Birch, who justified the hype and price paid with another outstanding season at the top level. The classy defender led her new side for intercept possessions, reading the play typically well across half-back and using her athleticism at 175cm to provide good fold both in the air and at ground level. Some of Birch’s best numbers for the year came in Melbourne’s epic finals win over GWS, as she collected 15 disposals (13 kicks) and clunked five marks to prove her big game experience at just 22 years of age. Remains one of the many former netballers to have made a seamless transition to football.

#36 SHARNI LAYTON (COLLINGWOOD) 

7 GAMES AVE: 10.1 disposals, 2.4 marks, 2.7 tackles, 17.1 hitouts, 1.1 inside 50s

Speaking of former netballers, Layton improved out of sight to become one of the competition’s prime rucks in 2020, cementing a starting spot in the All Australian side. The 188cm cross-coder backed up a promising VFLW campaign with a stellar effort at the top level, finishing second in the league for total hitouts and adding strings to her bow by also hitting the scoreboard on three occasions. Layton’s marking and follow-up work were also key features of her impressive game throughout the year, with her talent how catching up to her towering frame.

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #2 – North Melbourne take the win in epic battle against Magpies

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, moving onto our #2 which saw North Melbourne wage a massive comeback against Collingwood for a 5.4 (34) to 5.2 (32) semi-final win at Ikon Park. It was both sides’ inaugural AFL Women’s final, making the outcome that much more intense.

It was an intense battle from the get-go with the two sides unable to be split throughout the first quarter, and while each quarter saw a new intensity brew for each side, it came down to the last seconds of the game. The ball was still in the Magpies’ forward half with a minute remaining on the clock and much of the momentum, but a Jasmine Garner intercept mark at half-back in the last 15 seconds of the game helped keep the Roos’ premiership hopes alive. Both teams started well, booting a goal apiece before the first change thanks to North’s Daisy Bateman – through an uncharacteristic error from Magpies veteran Stacey Livingstone – before the Pies bounced back, cleaning up their act as Jordan Membrey got on the board for her first of two. Terrific Magpies efforts saw ball magnets Britt Bonnici, Jaimee Lambert and Bri Davey be their typical threatening selves, unafraid of the contest and doing anything they could to find the footy. While the Kangaroos had much of the momentum in the early stages of the match, again booting the opening goal of the second, they were unable to stay in control with the Magpies hot on their heels, as a punch over the line from Sharni Layton spoiled an almost certain goal which could have seen results go very differently. Collingwood kicked their way ahead with flair and energy, building off their efforts and booting three goals in just over five minutes through the middle of the quarter to be well in control of the Roos coming into half time. 

But the see-sawing affair continued in the third as the Kangaroos took back some control, booting two and keeping the Pies scoreless to get ahead by three points with 15 minutes left on the clock. Defensively both sides were constant and consistent, with Kaitlyn Ashmore and Livingstone rebounding continuously and providing threatening shadows in defence, storming down their opposition at any opportunity. Ash Riddell continued to hold strong with Ellie Gavalas and captain Emma Kearney, with the trio building their way to dominate at stoppages always getting first hands to the ball. A massive and closely contested final quarter was a testament to the skill-level running amock on the field, with neither team able to penetrate their forward with ease to pile on the goals, instead having to work their way around the field poking at defensive holes to puncture. Both teams managed just the one goal in the final quarter and to the Pies’ detriment was the loss of best on ground, Bonnici, who came off for an untimely concussion test – but fortunately sneakily returned later in the quarter to bolster the Pies’ ranks once more. With less than 20 seconds on the clock, one last roll of the dice saw the Magpies kick to a Layton-Emma King one-on-one but it was Garner who came over the top to take the match-saving mark and win the game for her side by just two points.

Riddell picked an equal game-high 22 disposals for the Roos, as well as five marks and six tackles, while Garner (15 disposals, five marks and five tackles), Kearney (17 disposals, four tackles) and Gavalas (13 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal) all impressed afield. For the Magpies, Bonnici was the best-on with 20 disposals, three marks and three tackles, while Lambert and Davey combined for 44 disposals, 11 marks and 10 tackles in the loss. 

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 (32) 

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo, S. Wright, K. Ashmore, E. Gavalas, D. Bateman.
Collingwood: J. Membrey 2, M. Cann, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy.

ADC BEST:

North Melbourne: A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore
Collingwood: B. Bonnici, B. Davey, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Membrey

Prespakis claims best and fairest in second season

CARLTON’S Madison Prespakis has capped off a remarkable 2020 AFL Women’s season by taking out the League Best and Fairest Award at tonight’s W Awards ceremony. While the feeling amongst the room might have been different compared to a packed house at a gala event, Prespakis and the other winners were no less deserving of their awards.

The second-year dynamo has collected just about every award there is to collect, already being a dual best and fairest, dual All-Australian and Rising Star winner. The former Calder Cannons skipper and top five pick has not put a foot wrong in two seasons with the Blues, averaging 20.1 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.1 tackles and booting 10 goals across 16 games.

Prespakis won the award with 15 votes with Fremantle Dockers star Kiara Bowers just three votes behind. In at third was the Kangaroos’ Emma Kearney on 11 votes while Anne Hatchard and Jenna Bruton managed 10 votes apiece to round out the top five.

The awards did not stop there with former number one pick Isabel Huntington taking out the Rising Star award. Huntington might be the feel-good story of the 2020 W Awards. Having to overcome various injury setbacks including long-term knee injuries, Huntington repaid the faith the Bulldogs showed in her by selecting her with Pick 1 back in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft. She had only managed the five games prior to 2020, but doubled that amount this year and averaged 13.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 2.6 tackles and 3.4 rebounds. It was enough for her to earn All-Australian honours this year.

Caitlin Greiser has known since the season’s conclusion that she would receive the Leading goal kicker award, booting 10 goals in her debut season. The former Western Jets talent missed out on being drafted when she played as an overager, but then crossed from Melbourne University to Southern Saints where coach Peta Searle saw enough to offer her a senior list spot. Coming from a soccer background, Greiser did not look overawed on the big stage, with a season-best three majors against Richmond, and the winning goal against Melbourne to spur the Saints onto victory in both those matches.

Announced the night before, the other major achievement bestowed upon 21 of the league’s finest was the All-Australian team. The team featured 11 debutants in Sarah Allen (Adelaide Crows), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Isabelle Huntington (Western Bulldogs), Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood), Olivia Purcell (Geelong Cats), Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda), Kate Hore (Melbourne), Sharni Layton (Collingwood), Kalinda Howarth (Gold Coast SUNS), Alyce Parker (GWS GIANTS) and Ash Riddell (North Melbourne). Along with the debutants, two players maintained their unbeaten streak in the league’s best side with Karen Paxman (captain) and Emma Kearney (vice-captain) handed leadership roles for making a remarkable fourth-straight team.

The full team is below:

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #4 – Fremantle hold on to top spot despite swooping Magpies

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, moving onto our number four which saw a scintillating top two clash between Fremantle and Collingwood that could have seen the season go far different if the Pies had managed the win.

Round 3 saw a top of the Conference B table clash where Fremantle popped Collingwood at the post by just three points on home turf. While the Dockers had the early lead the Pies brought the intensity in the second, booting 2.4 and keeping Fremantle scoreless but failed to convert at a number of crucial moments putting the Magpies ahead at the main change but not by winning margin. Pressure mounted in the final stages of the match with Britt Bonnici gifted two opportunities to take a lead once more but ultimately went astray, seeing Fremantle remain undefeated.

It was a typical see-sawing affair between the two ladder leading sides, with Fremantle owning possession early before the Pies kicked their way back into the match. Despite the inaccuracy at the goal front, the Magpies seemed to have all the momentum looking to the second half, but just like the Dockers they failed to apply the scoreboard pressure, coming undone with just one goal in the third term which kept them close.

Jaimee Lambert was her usual influential self, seemingly having the ball on a string in the early stages and collecting a whopping 21 touches by halftime. She was kept quiet in the second half in comparison, taking her tally to 32 overall among her eight tackles but it was that first half form – and goal – that saw the Pies take the lead. Bri Davey returned to collect 18 disposals and six tackles while Sarah Rowe impressed with 22 possessions. Cross-coders Sharni Layton and Ash Brazil also continued their impressive form, with Layton hitting the scoreboard and Brazil racking up the 17 touches.

It was the consistent team-wide effort that got the job done for the Dockers with a host of players getting them over the line and bouncing back after the frustrating second term. Hayley Miller collected a team-high 13 disposals while Philipa Seth got 12 to her name, showcasing that team effort with no one player standing out on the possession count. Regular performer Kiara Bowers was physical as ever with the 14 tackles while Roxy Roux booted a goal and collected four tackles in a solid effort for the 18-year-old.

FREMANTLE 3.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 4.6 (30)

GOALS:

Fremantle: R. Roux, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, K. Flood, A. Sharp.
Collingwood: A. Sheridan, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Membrey.

BESTS:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, H. Miller, P. Seth, R. Roux
Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Rowe, B. Davey, B. Bonnici, A. Brazill

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Collingwood

INCOMING Collingwood coach Steve Symonds had a heck of a job ahead of him in 2020, tasked with taking charge at the biggest club in the land on the back of a one-win season. But his Magpies improved out of sight on their 2019 effort, storming to four wins in a couple of scintillating blocks of form and very nearly causing a mammoth finals upset against North Melbourne. With a strong spine and core of leaders aiding the development of their less-experienced outlets, the Magpies became a fun team to watch as they moved the ball stylishly in transition. Relive the highs and lows of Collingwood’s campaign in our season review, with a nod to their most outstanding players – including a league-high five All Australian squad members.

RECORD: 4th (B), 4-2 (0-1 finals), 153.7%

RESULTS:

R1: defeated West Coast by 27 points
R2: defeated Carlton by 15 points
R3: lost to Fremantle by 3 points
R4:
lost to Melbourne by 20 points
R5:
defeated Western Bulldogs by 32 points 
R6:
defeated Brisbane by 29 points
SF: lost to North Melbourne by 2 points

The Pies made a hot start in 2020, first knocking off newcomer, West Coast on home turf and following it up with an outstanding win over Carlton in Round 2 – their first-ever. But a tight loss to Fremantle upon their maiden interstate trip made it hard to back up against Melbourne in Round 4, making it consecutive losses as the early-season momentum fizzed. But on trend with their up-and-down year, the Magpies bounced back emphatically to blow the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane back-to-back. It set up a big clash against the Roos come finals, where Collingwood fell just short of causing a boil-over.

SEASON HIGH: First-ever win over the old enemy

It was fourth time lucky – if that’s even a thing – for Collingwood in its quest for an AFL Women’s win over arch-rival, Carlton, with this year’s crop finally managing to topple the Blues on enemy territory. The triumph gave fans a glimpse of their side’s best form, with the Magpies transitioning sharply to overwhelm the usually well-set Carlton defence. The run-and-gun style would produce one of Collingwood’s highest totals for the season, while Stacey Livingstone infamously accounted for Tayla Harris up the other end.

SEASON LOW: Brazill’s crushing knee injury

There is hardly anything more crushing in sport than seeing the game’s brightest stars go down with injury, but that was exactly the case as Ash Brazill was rubbed out with an ACL tear in Round 4. The key defender’s injury against Melbourne all-but ruled her side out of the contest, with the Magpies unable to recover against Melbourne in the 20-point loss. Brazill was having a typically influential season to that point on the back of her groundbreaking 2019 campaign, and will surely continue to be a vital cog in Collingwood’s back five.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Jaimee Lambert (22.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 6.4 tackles, 4.6 clearances, 4.6 inside 50s, 349 metres gained, 3 goals)

Lambert has a strong case for being the competition’s best player after a 2020 season which was nothing short of remarkable. As Collingwood’s prime mover through midfield, the 27-year-old led the competition for disposals and inside 50s, while also leading her club for metres gaines, contested possessions, clearances, tackles, and score involvements. She was duly recognised with All Australian squad selection as one of the more astonishing individual performers.

Brittany Bonnici (19.6 disposals, 3.6 marks, 4.3 tackles, 3.4 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 256 metres gained)

The diminutive midfielder was let off the chain in 2020, transitioning from her usual run-with role to become a star ball winner in her own right. A mainstay in the Magpies’ engine room, Bonnici was incredibly consistent after a steady start to the year, with her standout game coming against Brisbane (26 disposals) as she showed all of her tenacity going both ways.

Bri Davey (20.5 disposals, 72% disposal efficiency, 2.5 marks, 5.3 tackles, 4.7 clearances)

Davey was the most highly-touted recruit across the whole competition heading into 2020, and the former-Blue transitioned seamlessly into the black and white stripes despite an early injury scare. After going down clutching her leg in Round 1 and missing the next week, Davey bounced back strongly to average over 24 disposals in her last four outings. Does all the tough stuff and can play anywhere.

Steph Chiocci (15.6 disposals, 76% disposal efficiency, 3.6 marks, 3.1 tackles, 2.9 inside 50s)

A new lease on life and different gamestyle allowed Chiocci to shine in 2020, with the inaugural Magpies skipper tearing it up on her customary wing across all seven games. It was without a doubt Chiocci’s best season to date, tallying career-highs in disposals, marks, and inside 50s in her two-way bossing of the outside territory. Went at a handy 76 per cent efficiency too, adding class to her hard-edged style.

Chloe Molloy (13.3 disposals, 4.6 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1.9 inside 50s, 6 goals)

The former prized draft pick returned to senior footy with a bang, providing a reliable outlet at either end for the Magpies in 2020. While her best position may still be up in the air, Molloy was particularly dangerous as a key forward – shown best in her game-breaking three-goal performance against the Western Bulldogs in Round 5. The 21-year-old was a vital part of the Magpies’ spine, and will continue to be for years to come.

BIG IMPROVER:

Sharni Layton (10.1 disposals, 2.4 marks, 2.7 tackles, 17.1 hitouts, 2 clearances, 1.1 inside 50s, 3 goals)

A relative newcomer to the game, former-Netball star Layton showed what a year of development can do for an athlete in claiming All Australian squad honours in just her second AFLW season. The larger-than-life ruck not only refined her craft in that area, but also managed to have an impact inside forward 50 with three goals. With international sporting experience behind her, Layton’s value lies deeper than her ever-evolving footballing ability.

THE ROCK:

Stacey Livingstone (9.9 disposals, 2.4 marks, 1.6 tackles, 4.1 rebound 50s, 5.6 intercept possessions)

Don not let the most talked about moment of Livingstone’s season take away from the bigger picture, as the 32-year-old key defender put in absolute shifts for her side each week. The intimidating 176cm foundation Magpie upper her rebound game in the face of Brazill’s absence, and often took the opposition’s best forward out of the game. Led her club for intercept possessions and rebound 50s to boot.

VERDICT:

It is hard to label the four-win season as anything but a roaring success after Collingwood’s 2019 effort, and the rejuvenated squad looks to be headed in the right direction. Symonds’ new run-and-gun gameplan has the Magpies looking like a slick unit, and their exciting brand suits the stock they have. With a solid core and formidable spine, Collingwood is set up well to continue to push for finals football.