Tag: Sophie Locke

2021 VFLW team review: Port Melbourne

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Port Melbourne.

Position: 3rd
Wins: 10
Losses: 4
Draws: 0
Percentage: 128.9%

Season in a Sentence: “The Borough’s maiden VFLW campaign started like a house on fire with seven-straight wins, culminating in a terrific regular season and finals qualification.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Olivia Barton

Fresh out of the Oakleigh Chargers NAB League program, Barton slotted comfortably into Port Melbourne’s defence and became an important member of the side throughout her 11 appearances. The 20-year-old averaged 12.3 disposals and 2.9 rebound 50s in a solid 2021 campaign, often standing up under immense pressure.

Courteney Bromage

One of the league’s most punishing and prolific tacklers, Bromage averaged 9.5 across 15 outings in 2021 – laying as many as 14 on two occasions and no less than five. She was one of just three Borough players to have featured in all 15 games, and found a good amount of her own ball as she set the tone where it mattered most.

Claire Dyett

Dyett found a home on the wing for Port Melbourne and made it her own with terrific two-way running. A noted team player who gave her all across 14 appearances in 2021, the 23-year-old averaged 11.7 disposals and 4.4 tackles per game while also snaring a handful of goals spread individually across the season.

Melissa Kuys

Kuys was the Borough’s big coup for their maiden VFLW season and an outstanding candidate for captaincy, a role which she carried with class. The former Collingwood and St Kilda-listed midfielder proved reliable in 2021 across all 15 games, averaging 14.3 disposals and a tick over three clearances as a key driver out of the engine room.

Sophie Locke

Another who thrived in her first year out of the NAB League, Locke transitioned to somewhat of a new role up forward and was incredibly effective. While injury halted her early run of form, the 20-year-old still turned out 12 times for the Borough and booted 13 goals, including two hauls of three. She earned an AFLW Draft Combine invite for her exploits.

AFLW TALENT:

While still a proud standalone club, Port Melbourne benefitted greatly from its link with Richmond’s AFLW side. Delisted forward Emily Harley lead the Borough’s goalkicking with 14 goals, and fellow tall Cleo Saxon-Jones also fared well once fit. Hannah McLaren, Sarah Sansonetti, and Laura McCelland all ticked up to 10 games, while youngsters Ellie McKenzie, Maddy Brancatisano, and Sophie Molan, and new Collingwood forward Sabrina Frederick also enjoyed impactful late stints at the level.

OTHERS:

Holly Bailey was the third Borough player alongside Kuys and Bromage to feature in every game, averaging just under 10 touches per game. Ruck Abbey Tanner was part of the leadership group and played her role well, while Philippa Peschke proved another strong contributor. Recent AFLW draftees Aurora Smith, Ashleigh Richards, Brooke Vickers, and Amanda Ling also gained good experience at the level in 2021.

2021 AFLW Draft preview: GWS – Western Bulldogs

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

>> 2021 AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW: ADELAIDE – GOLD COAST

>> FINAL SIREN PODCAST: AFLW DRAFT PREVIEW

GWS:

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

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

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

MELBOURNE:

Picks: 41, 42, 45

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

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

NORTH MELBOURNE:

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

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

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

RICHMOND:

Picks: 5, 16, 48, 50, 54

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

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

ST KILDA:

Picks: 4, 12, 36

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

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

WEST COAST:

Picks: 3, 21, 24, 40, 47

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

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Picks: 22, 25, 27

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

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

Draft Central AFLW Draft Power Rankings – Nationwide: July 2021

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

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

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

 

Georgie Prespakis

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Charlie Rowbottom

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

Key strengths: Contested marking, tackling, strength, upside

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #1

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Teagan Levi

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, strength, kicking, game sense

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Courtney Rowley

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

Key strengths: Speed, clean hands, marking, kicking

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Zoe Prowse

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #2

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Versatility, spread, skills, goal sense

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Ella Friend

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Kicking, marking, courage, footy IQ

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #5

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Amy Franklin

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, overhead marking, versatility, upside

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Jess Doyle

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Clearances, accumulation, consistency, footy IQ

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #7

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Annie Lee

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

Key strengths: Marking, rebounding, consistency, composure

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #8

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Acceleration, tackling, clearances, accumulation

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #3

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Gypsy Schirmer

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #10

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #11

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #12

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Mikayla Pauga

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #13

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Athleticism, kicking, aggression, versatility

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Gabbi Featherston

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #14

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #15

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Meagan Kiely

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #16

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Brooke Hards

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

Key strengths: Footy smarts, versatility, athleticism, kicking

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #17

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Forward craft, accumulation, versatility, consistency

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Abby Hewett

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #4

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #19

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

Key strengths: Mobility, versatility, size, athleticism

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #20

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Sarah Lakay

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Queensland): #6

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Keeley Sherar

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #21

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

State-based Pool Ranking (Victoria): #22

AFLW Draft notes:

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

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

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

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Makaela Tuhakaraina

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

Key strengths: Acceleration, agility, power, defensive pressure

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

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

AFLW Draft notes:

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

Others:

Victorian Pool:

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

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

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

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

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POOL:

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

WEST AUSTRALIAN POOL:

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

QUEENSLAND POOL:

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

NSW-ACT POOL:

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

AFLW Draft Player Diary: Brooke Hards

THE road to the AFL Women’s is not always straight forward, and for the 2020 draft-eligible players, a global pandemic was thrown in the mix. For aspiring Victorian AFLW Draft players, their top-age year was effectively thrown out the window, not able to play any competitive matches after March, and even were limited with training sessions. In this exclusive Player Diary, we get an insight into one of those player’s journeys.

Like every footballing journey, it starts somewhere and in the first of a two-part AFLW Draft Player Diary, ex-Bendigo Pioneers and now Western Bulldogs VFLW Player Brooke Hards outlines the highs and lows of her footballing journey from when she first picked up a ball, to the AFL Women’s Draft. Part two will feature Brooke’s 19th year in the VFLW and how she has adapted to playing senior football.

>> BROOKE HARDS PLAYER PROFILE

 

AFLW Draft Player Diary

Brooke Hards

How my football journey started…

When it came to inter-schoolgirls footy sign ups, I made myself there pretty quickly, but calmly only because I did not want to show how excited I was until I got to actually play. It came to game days, representing my school Irymple Secondary College, I was in Year 9 at the time being very urged to get onto the football field just to have some fun tackling girls. My mum Nikki, came to watch that year, as a normal mum taking heaps of pictures and videos using up all her storage on her phone; she saw something in me. At the time she had a partner and showed him videos of me playing and she was very impressed because I’ve never played football before. My dad Jason was shown and told from the words “Brooke can play football” but at this time I was playing basketball and representing Sunraysia in netball. Dad knew I picked up a lot of sports quite well, but not this one. The next year came along fast being in my last year at Irymple Secondary College, luckily enough I signed up for the inter-schoolgirls team for the last year, this time not only mum came and watched again, but dad also came along to check it out, and by the end of the day, he was impressed too.

At this time my mind was set on trying to become a netballer, (I know I’m only 166cm) but I at least wanted to give it a crack. Representing Sunraysia for a fair few years, I got picked to try out for the Northern Zone Academy for netball, got knocked back until the next year came along, I got asked again and made it. Being a country girl from Mildura, every training was hours away, travelling majority weekends, clocking over the kilometres on dad’s cruiser car, but it was all worth it. In the meantime, with all that I saw something in the local paper about the Bendigo Pioneers coach Shawn McCormick and a couple of other people were heading to Mildura just to throw a footy even for a couple of hours to see some talent in Mildura. I attended it with my netball friends purely for some fun. A couple of months go by and something exciting was happening. I received an email saying I’ve been selected to represent the Bendigo Pioneers Girls Program in the V/Line Cup…

2017

V/ Line Cup

Starting my football journey later than average, from my first game playing an actual game of football was representing the Bendigo Pioneers team in the V/ Line Cup in 2017 as a 15-year-old. Being selected because not only did my parents see something in me, so did Shawn the Bendigo Pioneers Girl coach, but the funny thing was, I didn’t know all the positions, so dad had to draw me up an oval and mark where the positions were, and I was re-reading it before getting to my game. As you could imagine there was a lot of travelling again to make some trainings, but sometimes the coaches would come to Mildura to run some trainings which were good.

But at this time, I wasn’t only travelling for football, but netball as well. It started getting hectic, playing netball for my local club Irymple Swallows, to also playing Northern Zone netball, a couple games of basketball throughout the week, including training for both sports then increasing to football on weekends too. You’re probably wondering how I, myself, kept up with this and my family, well when your family can see that you have a desire to play these sports and to make it somewhere and to be somebody, they do their best to make it happen. Dad bought a notebook to sit me down to write down what we’ve got on during the week. He also had work throughout the day so you can imagine how tired he would be when it got to after school/work hours trying to get my brother Jordan and I to our trainings. At this time Jordan and I were week by week alternating weeks with both our parents, dad lived about 35km out of town which takes about 25-30 minutes each trip in, whilst mum lived in town which made it less difficult to swing around to trainings.

2018

Brooke Hards in her debut season during Bendigo Pioneers’ 12-point loss to Gippsland Power at Epsom Huntly Reserve.

Bendigo Pioneers – Season 1

From only playing three games, to being asked to train in Mildura to potentially making the Under 18s Bendigo Pioneers team at the age of 15, going on 16 midways through the season, I was excited but very determined. From getting the inspiration from my brother, watching him play at local level in his dominating position full-back, I wanted to be trusted and relied on just like how he was from his coaches and teammates. Luckily enough getting selected in the team as an underage I learnt a lot from being picked every game to play, playing predominately in the back line/wing. There was a lot of great leaders I looked up to Megan Williamson (captain) playing for Williamtown now and Carly Isaac. They were always there offering guidance on and off the football field, but why I looked up to them was because I wanted to play a lot like them, hard at the footy, their endurance, run and carry, I loved it all.

Vic Country Under 16s

Being lucky enough to represent the Bendigo Pioneers, I was also very moved by being selected to represent Victoria in girl’s football! Still trying to learn the pace of football, how to kick properly, running patterns, there was just a lot of learning still to be done, but having the coaching staff we did such as Emma Grant and Katherine Smith they were patient and always tried to deliver the best information as a new footballer coming through.

Brooke Hards representing Vic Country at Under 16s level applying her trademark fend-off.

2019

Bendigo Pioneers – Season 2

From a big preseason ahead, I was pumped to play more football, with not many Mildura girls training to try out there was roughly nine at the most, but not everyone would be coming to training so a lot of it, most there was five and that’s how we trained. Very lucky to have Nathan Manuel coaching us Mildura girls, he always pushed us very hard at training to give us the best opportunity to make the team.

After being selected as my second year for the Bendigo Pioneers team, I played a lot of midfield and won the tackle count out of the whole NAB League girls then got presented with best and fairest as an underage, and that night I got told that I had been selected in the Vic Country under 18s team, and I was only 16 turning 17.

Brooke Hards in her second season with the Pioneers bursting away with ball-in-hand against the GWV Rebels in the opening round of the 2019 NAB League Girls season.

Vic Country Under 18s (bottom age)

A big opportunity was ahead of me and I couldn’t thank my dad driving me to majority of the games, so many hours and kilometres were clocked up and thank my mum always supporting me if she couldn’t make my games. I was picked for the Vic Country vs Vic Metro starting in the midfield, I learnt so much from playing with the likes of Lucy McEvoy, Molly McDonald, Sophie Molan and Sophie Locke. The next three games were in Queensland. I played two of them and didn’t get picked for one of them and Sophie Locke didn’t either. At this time dad flew down to Queensland to watch me and I was very lucky to have him there, whilst a lot of my teammates were very supportive and were there for me. I take that with me, massive learning curve and yes, I was upset but I still had a role for my team to play.

2020

Bendigo Pioneers – Season 3 (COVID-19 Pandemic) Draft Combine/Upcoming Draft 

I was named captain with Annabel Strahan, I played three games and then suddenly COVID hit, no football for the rest of the year, halfway through the year I got a Draft Combine invite, trained hard, running every single day, doing gym, playing around with the football.

Night of the draft was a lot of emotions and feelings coming through, my family and best friend Annabel Hocking came over to my dad’s house. I had the closest people to me there supporting me, sadly I did not get drafted. I was down and put out of routine for a bit but was slowly finding my way back into it. Year 12 was becoming to an end and I was waiting to see if I got into university whilst waiting, I got a fair few phone clubs from different clubs wanting me to play VFLW for them and I had a lot of decisions I had to make. Had two meetings with two different clubs and had to make my decision. I got into Victoria University so I chose the Western Bulldogs VFLW team to go to, it was going to make things a lot easier for me and I was super excited.

Brooke Hards on debut for the Western Bulldogs in the VFLW at Whitten Oval.

TO BE CONTINUED …

2021 VFLW Player Focus: Sophie Locke (Port Melbourne)

OUR second Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Player Focus for the week takes a look at Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke whose season came to an end during the Borough’s defeat at the hands of the Southern Saints, but capped off a really impressive year from the former Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country representative.

Q1:

Starting in the forward line, with a quick start to the game getting it kicked inside their 50m, Locke sprinted for the ball got a handball away and immediately applied a shepherd and resulted in a point, which was very smart play by the Port Melbourne forward with the instinct to straight away to give and defend. Holding width around contest throw ups gives her space to wait for it to come to her with the knowledge that there is a good chance their ruckman will get the advantage hit so she can run onto it. Burrowing into the packs and putting everything on the line just to get some clearance for her team with nothing holding her back. Ten minutes had gone by in the first term with Port Melbourne up by a point, Locke made her way up around the right side of the wing, pushing up making sure the opposition is covered and they do not have any easy targets.

Locke got around a teammate after kicking a goal and playing some real good hard football, where she was always an option for her teammates and pushing hard. With a minute left to go, Locke did what she needed to do off of the top of the 50m down the opposite end she was playing. Running through the middle and kicking it inside 50m with players running after it, she created a stoppage. Port Melbourne were a goal up at quarter time in a tight contest.

Q2:

Starting the term in the top four in disposals in her side, unfortunately a lot of the start of the second quarter – up to seven minutes – the ball was stuck in the Southern Saints forward line where there was not a lot that Locke could do other then be ready for when the ball drifted her way. Locke made her way in the area and impacted straight away with a free kick going the way of St Kilda, with a rushed pressured kick coming off the right side of the boot inside the oppositions 50m where Locke was able to push it over the line. With two minutes to go in the second term, Locke pushed up to help the midfielders out and become an option.

Q3:

Once again Locke pushed hard covering every hole in the opposition’s forward line, making sure everyone has an opponent which just showed the leadership she brought to her side. Being the one at the top of the forward 50m, we see the ball travel to Locke where she attacked it straight away and held it in to help give Port Melbourne a chance to score. Eleven minutes in, the ball was inside Port Melbourne’s 50m. Locke picked the ball up with an opponent on her and fakes to the left and kicks the ball to the right and kicks it through the two big white poles with the ending result being a goal. Locke also showed a nice defensive effort with a big shepherd for teammate Claire Dyett for an un-pressured kick towards goal but goes through as a behind. It was very unselfish play by Locke, recognising her teammate was in the better position and straight away thought to protect her.

Q4:

Southern Saints were up by nine points when the fourth term started. Port Melbourne needed to get a couple goals early to close the score. Halfway through the last quarter, Locke wrapped up an opposition player and won the free kick. She looked to run and carry, sold candy, dodged another player and just missed getting the football to the boot. It was a very smart move to get the ball running and going down field but unfortunately it all did not work out.

Summary:

Sophie Locke showed some great football skills and her development was fast-tracked this year playing with players who are at the top end of the AFLW, not only that, but also being educated by them as well. Showing some great passage of play, to take the game on more and to be aggressive at the ball, whilst showing her confidence more. There will be exciting times ahead for the young footballer. Locke ended up with eight disposals, four kicks, one mark, four handballs, six tackles and one goal.

 

Picture credit: Port Melbourne VFLW

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Finals Week One

FINALS time finally rolled around in the VFL Women’s, with three enthralling games played out over the weekend and even more intriguing matchups to look forward to. A raft of current and former NAB League talents continue to roll through the competition, we take a look at how they performed in the first round of finals.

>> Results: VFLW Finals Week One

Pegged as the closest matchup across all three week one fixtures, Casey and Essendon played out a belter to open proceedings. The Bombers came out on top and remain the sole standalone side left, winning 5.5 (35) to 5.2 (32) on enemy territory. A bunch of high level youngsters aided the victors’ cause, none more so than pick one contender Georgie Prespakis who notched 14 disposals and laid 10 tackles in the famous sash.

Fellow Calder players Zali Friswell (nine disposals), Tahlia Gillard (17 hit-outs), and Emelia Yassir also gained some senior finals experience, while former Cannons Alana Barba (18 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal) and Tamsin Crook were among the Bombers’ best. Top 10 candidate Tara Slender also found the big sticks for Essendon, as Murray Bushrangers graduate Eloise Ashley-Cooper managed seven touches and six tackles.

In the losing Casey side, 18-year-old Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser contributed seven disposals and as many hit-outs in her fourth game at the level. Eastern Ranges product Mietta Kendall, who was recently delisted by Melbourne, also continued in the state league and found eight touches, while former Richmond and Eastern player Emma Horne had it seven times.

In comparison to the Casey-Essendon clash, graduates were more sparse and quiet in the qualifying final between Collingwood and Geelong. The Magpies were pushed all the way in a six-point win, with Olivia Meagher (six disposals, one goal) their only current or VFLW-listed NAB Leaguer afield.

The Cats continued to blood a key trio of graduates, starting with leadership group member Tamara Smith. She was busy with eight touches and two behinds, while also getting stuck in to lay nine tackles. Geelong Falcons graduate Paige Sheppard had it eight times for Geelong, while Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels favourite Chloe Leonard notched nine disposals.

Southern Saints caused the upset of the weekend, advancing to week two via a resounding 34-point victory over the third-ranked Port Melbourne. There was plenty of young talent fielded by both sides, starting with Saints mainstay Gabby De Angelis. She featured among her side’s best players and found the goals, while Melanie Bertuna (13 disposals, five tackles) was also productive.

Sandringham Dragons top-ager Charlotte Ryan proved a handy fold for the Saints with 11 touches in her second game, joined by NAB League teammates Emma Stuber and Pia Staltari in the side. Dandenong Stingrays defender Jemma Radford also ran out in red, white and black, playing against usual teammates Ash Richards and Jaide Anthony, who lined up for the Borough.

Oakleigh Chargers premiership stars Amanda Ling and Brooke Vickers also donned Port colours, while graduates Olivia Barton (15 disposals) and Emily Harley were among their side’s strongest contributors. Vickers and Harley both snared goals, as did AFLW Draft Combine invitee Sophie Locke. Fellow Murray graduate and combine invitee Aurora Smith was another to turn out for Port, earning eight disposals.

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

2021 VFL Women’s: Finals Week 1

THE first week of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals action brought plenty of excitement with close encounters leaving many fans sitting on the edge of their seats with nervous anticipation. In the end it was Collingwood that made their way straight into the semi-final while Casey were knocked out of the race for the premiership.

Collingwood 4.2 (26) defeated Geelong 2.8 (20)

The top of the table Magpies proved why they were the minor premiers and reigning VFLW champions, getting the job done against Geelong by a mere goal in an absolute thriller. The Pies found their kicking boots early, nailing two goals in the opening term and suffocated Geelong’s movement and penetration up forward as they only slotted one major. This intensity continued into the third for the Magpies as they forged ahead to keep the scoreboard ticking over. It was a different story for the Cats however and despite having their fair share of chances they simply could not capitalise, registering just four points for the term.

Holding a 10-point lead at half-time Collingwood were looking to inflict more pain but Geelong youngster Rene Caris had other plans kicking a much needed goal to keep her side within striking distance. But the Pies were not about to lie down as the ever-reliable and crafty Chloe Molloy bobbed up at the right time to bang one home herself and re-establish that 10-point ball-game. More inaccuracy for Geelong left them on the outer as they tried to creep back into the game with the final quarter culminating into a make or break 15 minutes of action. Collingwood simply could not find the big sticks and subsequently did not hit the scoreboard while the Cats had a peg at the goals but could not guide them home. In the end it was the Pies that got the chocolates with some last line defence and never-say-die attitude getting them over the line.

It was another solid outing for Mikala Cann who led the black and white brigade with her 20 disposal and five tackles as Molloy showcased her class with 18 touches and a major to her name. Lauren Butler was influential racking up 14 disposals as both Marla Neal and Amelia Velardo found their share of the footy with 13 touches apiece. Velardo also impressed with her aerial ability taking seven marks as Neal imposed her physicality with eight tackles. The goal-kicking duties were well shared for the Pies as Caitlin Bunker, Olivia Meagher and Ebony O’Dea hit the scoreboard alongside Molloy. For the Cats it was their youngsters that paved the way as Darcy Moloney and Caris managed a major each. Olivia Fuller was the most prolific ball winner collecting 22 touches, six tackles and an impressive 36 hitouts. Rebecca Webster was also amongst the thick of things with her 20 possessions while Renee Garing found her groove picking up 19 touches.

Casey Demons 5.2 (32) defeated by Essendon 5.5 (35)

It was a see-sawing affair to say the least as the Bombers just scraped over the line against Casey Demons. There was no shortage of twists and turns throughout the battle with Casey holding the early ascendancy in what turned out to be a low-scoring opening term before Essendon switched on in the second quarter to blow the socks off their opponents. A huge three goal to nothing term all but set them up for the win as they generated some real momentum heading into the second half.

But momentum meant nothing as the Demons came out with a point to prove in the third quarter. Held scoreless in the second, Casey quickly answered the call off the boot of Alyssa Bannan. The youngster managed two goals in a matter of minutes to bring the Demons back to life and although the Bombers slotted a major of their own the momentum had well and truly changed hands. It was a tantalising final term of action with the Demons up and about and hitting the lead thanks to a Shelley Heath goal but that was short lived as the Bombers unleashed through Lauren Aherns to steal the win.

Bannan had the kicking boots on for Casey finishing the afternoon with two majors to her name while Tahlia Fellows also slotted a goal of her own. In terms of major ball winners it is hard to go past Eliza West who seemed to have the ball on a string with her 23 touches and six clearances as Casey Sherriff also got busy picking up 20 disposals. Jacqueline Parry imposed herself around the contest with her 18 disposals as Brenna Tarrant racked up 17 possessions to accompany her five tackles. There was five individual goal scorers for the Bombers with Aherns slotting the sealer and racking up 19 touches as Alana Barber showcased her wares slotting a major and walking away with 18 disposals and a whopping 11 tackles. Youngster Tara Slender also hit the scoreboard as Georgia Nanscawen and Cecilia McIntosh starred with ball in hand racking up 28 and 20 touches apiece.

 Port Melbourne 3.5 (23) defeated by Southern Saints 7.15 (57)

The Southern Saints claimed a comfortable 34-point win against Port Melbourne on Sunday afternoon to progress to the next stage of finals. The Borough had the upper hand in the opening quarter pegging away at the goal posts and opening up a handy one-goal lead. But the tide slowly started to turn in the second quarter with the Saints trapping the ball inside their 50 and peppering away at the goals. They piled on two goals to none in the second term as they skipped out to a nine-point lead.

With the momentum behind them it was time for the Saints to put the foot down and that they did. An early miss from Tyanna Smith was quickly made up by Jess Matin who nailed her first major for the game to extend the lead for the Saints. From there on out the Southern Saints continued to build and forge ahead. They kept Port Melbourne to one goal for the entire second half while they piled on four. They could have won by more if they were accurate in front of goal with the Saints registering seven behinds in the last term alone as fatigue started to kick in for both sides.

It was a tough day at the office for the Borough but that did not stop Olivia Barton from digging in as she racked up 15 disposals, all of which were by foot. Ellie McKenzie was also amongst the top performers for Port Melbourne finishing with 13 touches and three clearances to her name as Cleo Saxon-Jones got busy across the ground with her 12 disposals. Emily Harley, Sophie Locke and Brooke Vickers were the three goal scorers for the Borough while for the Saints Matin and Tara Bohanna slotted two each. They also topped the table for possessions collecting 20 apiece as Matin dug in deep at the coalface credit to her six clearances. Gabrielle De Angelis also found plenty of the footy with 18 touches and a goal. Hannah Stuart was never far from the ball amassing 18 disposals as teammate Rebecca Neaves registered 17 touches and four marks in the win.

Photo credit: Essendon VFLW Twitter

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 14

IN the final round of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, a number of NAB League graduates stood up and impressed be it via debut, or continuing their form from throughout the season. We recap how they performed.

Essendon had a plethora of Calder Cannons talents past and present, led by Georgie Prespakis who amassed a game-high 24 disposals, as well as nine tackles, seven clearances and three inside 50s. Current Cannons teammates Emelia Yassir (18 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s), Tahlia Gillard (nine disposals, 13 hitouts and six tackles) and Kasey Lennox all played in the game.

Ex-Cannons, Alana Barba (23 disposals, 11 tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s), Grace Dicker and Tamsin Crook. Former Murray talent Eloise Ashley-Cooper continued her form with 10 disposals four clearances and two inside 50s. For the Falcons, Trinity Mills had six touches and laid three tackles, whilst Northern Knights teammate Mikayla Plunkett also took to the field. Katelyn Hazlett amassed seven disposals, three clearances and five inside 50s in the loss, whilst the sole Cannon on the Darebin side in Peppa Poultney had four touches and three tackles.

In Collingwood’s top of the table win over Geelong, Eliza James put together another impressive performance with the Oakleigh Chargers talent picking up 13 disposals, five marks, three tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and kicking her debut VFLW goal. Olivia Meagher also ran out again for the Magpies for seven disposals and two tackles. Current Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels player Chloe Leonard managed the nine disposals six tackles and three inside 50s to be named among the Cats’ best, whilst ex-Falcons Paige Sheppard (15 disposals, six marks, seven tackles, three clearances and two rebound 50s) and Sachi DeGiacomi (two disposals, four tackles) both played, as did ex-Bushranger Tamara Smith (seven disposals, 11 tackles).

Western Bulldogs got the chocolates over the Casey Demons in their clash, with a trio of current GWV Rebels players running around. Nyakoat Dojiok (11 disposals), Tahlia Meier (11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and Lilli Condon (10 disposals, two tackles and three inside 50s) all impressed, with Western Jets talent Trinity Skenderis having the 10 disposals, four tackles and kicking a goal. Ex-Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards had the seven touches, six tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds in another strong performance in the back half. Meanwhile Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser was a standout with 11 touches, 16 hitouts, seven tackles, four clearances and two rebound 50s for the Demons.

Hawthorn’s eight-point triumph over Port Melbourne saw a ton of Eastern Ranges end their VFL Women’s season. Isabelle Khoury was the standout, named best on ground for her nine disposals, seven tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds and one goal. Eloise Chaston (11 disposals, two marks and two inside 50s), Keeley Sherar (nine disposals, three tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s), Bridget Deed (eight disposals, three tackles and two rebound 50s), Cadhla Schmidli, Sarah Humm and Jess Grace all played. Former Ranges talent Jenna Richardson managed the 14 touches, four marks, three tackles, two clearances and four rebound 50s, while Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae had the 13 touches, six tackles and five clearances.

Port Melbourne had a few talented youngsters running around for the Borough, with Murray Bushrangers’ Aurora Smith making her debut for nine disposals, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s. Oakleigh Chargers duo Amanda Ling (11 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and four inside 50s) and Brooke Vickers (15 disposals, two tackles and two rebound 50s) also stood out, whilst Dandenong Stingrays’ Jaide Anthony managed the five touches. Ex-Murray player Sophie Locke returned to good form with 13 touches, five tackles and two goals in the game.

Southern Saints had a trio of Dragons in their win over North Melbourne, as Charlotte Ryan made her debut at VFLW level for five disposals and a couple of tackles. Emma Stuber (10 disposals, two marks and four inside 50s) impressed in her second game alongside Pia Staltari. Dandenong Stingrays’ Jemma Radford managed the six touches and four tackles in another game with the Saints, as Abbey Jordan returned to put out nine touches in a solid effort. Former Eastern forward Gabi De Angelis produced her best game of the season with 24 touches, nine marks, three tackles, eight inside 50s and two goals to be the star. For the Roos, GIANTS Academy talent Jayde Hamilton had 10 disposals, five tackles and two clearances.

In the final game of the season, Carlton got up over Williamstown with a distinct Northern Knight flavour again. Maeve Chaplin was named in the bests for her seven disposals and three tackles, as Tarrah Delgado had five touches, four marks and five tackles in the win. Ex-Knight Marnie Jarvis had the four disposals and three tackles, while form Oakleigh defender Amber Micallef managed seven touches and two marks. Williamstown handed Dandenong’s Sarah Hosking a debut, with the top-age talent having six disposals and three tackles. Former Bendigo skipper Megan Williamson was busy with nine touches, 10 tackles and five clearances, whilst current Geelong Falcons forward Zoe Garth managed five touches and five tackles. Ex-Western Jets midfielder Ruby Tripodi was clearly the standout of the graduates with 23 touches, five tackles and five clearances in the loss.

2021 VFLW Round 14 wrap: Saints clinch finals spot as Hawks end on high for Meg’s final game

IT went right down to the final day of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season, but the Southern Saints clinched the sixth spot in the finals series after winning against North Melbourne, grabbing back their place which was temporarily lost after the Western Bulldogs upset Casey Demons on Saturday. Geelong almost slipped up a double chance when it lost to Collingwood, but the Hawks came to the rescue to send off veteran and football legend Meg Hutchins in style, defeating third placed Port Melbourne in a huge result.

DAREBIN 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.2 (2)
ESSENDON 3.3 | 5.3 | 7.9 | 7.10 (52)

Essendon finished its regular season off on a high, running away with a 50-point victory over wooden spooners Darebin. Despite the Falcons restricting the inaccurate Bombers to only the two goals in the second half, Essendon proved too strong overall, claiming a big 7.10 (52) to 0.2 (2) win at Bill Lawry Oval. Jessie Davies slotted three goals from seven disposals, whilst the midfield of the bombers dominated with 12 more clearances. Lead by Georgia Nanscawen (23 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles and four inside 50s), second gamer and potential top AFLW Draft selection Georgie Prespakis (24 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles and three inside 50s) and the reliable Alana Barba (23 disposals, six clearances, 11 tackles and three inside 50s), Essendon proved too strong for their opponent. Bombers debutant Tahlia Gillard also looked comfortable with nine disposals, two marks and 13 hitouts, whilst Calder teammate Emelia Yassir was amongst the best with 18 touches, four inside 50s  and three tackles. For the Falcons, Alyssa Mifsud had 15 touches, seven clearances, six hitouts and four rebound 50s in a huge effort, whilst Kathleen Roe and Nicole Callinan (both 12 disposals, five tackles and three rebound 50s) were strong in defence. Sidney Cubasch (32 hitouts, four tackles and eight disposals) was busy in the ruck.

GOALS:

Darebin: Nil.
Essendon: J. Davies 3, M. Clifford, G. Nanscawen, T. Crook, S. Nalder.

BEST:

Darebin: K. Roe, S. Cubasch, K. Hazlett, S. David, S. Padovano, E. Buckley
Essendon: A. Barba, E. Yassir, T. Gillard, G. Prespakis, S. Nalder, C. Ugle

COLLINGWOOD 0.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.5 (23)
GEELONG 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.4 (4)

Collingwood completed an undefeated season in the VFL Women’s competition, knocking off second placed Geelong by 19 points at Victoria Park in a curtain raiser to this weekend’s qualifying final. The Magpies won off the back of staunch defence, restricting the Cats to just four behinds for the game, whilst kicking three majors from eight scoring chances themselves. Mikala Cann was a clear best on ground performer, putting up 30 disposals, eight clearances, 11 tackles, five inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal in the win. Matilda Zander (20 disposals, six tackles, three marks and five rebound 50s), Georgia Ricardo (16 disposals, four tackles, three clearances and a goal), Ebony O’Dea (15 disposals, three marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and two clearances) and youngster Eliza James (13 disposals, five marks, three tackles, three inside 50s, two clearances and a goal) all impressed in the win. Olivia Fuller was named best-on for the Cats in her role through the ruck with 12 disposals, 27 hitouts, six tackles, three clearances and three inside 50s. Sophie Van De Heuvel (18 disposals, four tackles, six clearances and seven inside 50s), Renee Garing (19 disposals, 12 tackles) and Paige Sheppard (15 disposals, six marks, seven tackles and three clearances) all impressed as well, with Maddie Boyd trying hard on her way to 11 touches, three marks, five hitouts, five tackles and four rebound 50s.

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Cann, E. James, G. Ricardo.
Geelong: Nil.

BEST:

Collingwood: I. Purcell, A. Newman, E. James, M. Zander, M. Cann, E. O’Dea
Geelong: O. Fuller, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Boyd, P. Sheppard, R. Garing, C. Leonard

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.2 | 3.6 | 3.9 | 5.10 (40)
CASEY DEMONS 0.1 | 3.1 | 4.1 | 4.4 (28)

Whilst in hindsight the win was not enough for the Western Bulldogs to secure a finals spot, they did end their season on a high with a two-goal win over Casey Demons. The Bulldogs had a fight on their hands for the most part, with inaccuracy again plaguing the home team, but two last quarter goals saw them kick away and grab the 5.10 (40) to 4.4 (28) victory. Elisabeth Georgostathis was best-on with 24 disposals, nine clearances, five marks, five tackles and six inside 50s, whilst Britney Gutknecht had the 25 touches, five tackles, two clearances, two marks and three rebound 50s, and Gemma Lagioia booted two goals from 20 touches and four inside 50s. Danielle Marshall (18 disposals, four marks and five rebound 50s) and Brooke Hards (seven disposals, six tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds) teamed up well in defence, and Nicole McMahon (12 disposals, two marks, 25 hitouts, three clearances and three rebound 50s) covered the field well. Eliza West topped the Demons’ disposal count with 24 touches, nine tackles, six clearances, four inside 50s and two rebounds, whilst Nicole Hales (20 disposals, seven rebound 50s) and Alison Brown (20 disposals, six rebound 50s) were both impressive in defence. up the other end, Casey Sherriff had 19 touches, eight marks, six inside 50s and a goal, whilst Jacqueline Parry snagged two goals from 17 touches and five marks.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: G. Lagioia 2, S. Ruedin, M. Sandral, T. Skenderis.
Casey Demons: J. Parry 2, C. Sherriff, A. Bannan.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, G. Lagioia, N. McMahon, D. Marshall, T. Skenderis, T. Meier
Casey Demons: C. Sherriff, N. Hales, S. Heath, E. West, G. Matser, E. Horne

HAWTHORN 1.1 | 2.2 | 6.4 | 8.4 (52)
PORT MELBOURNE 3.0 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 6.8 (44)

In one of the upsets of the season and a phenomenal performance from Hawthorn, the Hawks stepped up in Hutchins’ last game to secure a memorable eight-point victory over the third placed Port Melbourne. The stakes could not have been higher for the Borough with a double-chance on the line, but Hawthorn brought its A-game to the match and booted six goals to two in the second half to run over the visitors at Box Hill and claim an 8.4 (52) to 6.8 (44) win. Jessie Williams was the key player up forward, slotting three goals from 12 disposals, two marks and three inside 50s. Tamara Luke had 20 touches, 33 hitouts, nine clearances, six marks, five tackles, two inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal in a huge all-round effort, with Hutchins named best on in her final game thanks to 12 disposals, two marks and a goal. Grace McRae (13 disposals, five clearances and six tackles) and Isabelle Khoury (nine disposals, six clearances, seven tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) were among the youngsters who stepped up and had an impact around the stoppages. For the Borough, Aurora Smith made her debut and had the nine disposals, two clearances, three inside 50s and three tackles, whilst fellow NAB League Girls talents Amanda Ling (11 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and four inside 50s) and Brooke Vickers (15 disposals, two tackles and two rebound 50s) were also impressive. Sophie Locke slotted two goals from 13 touches, as Cleo Saxon-Jones impressed in defence with five rebound 50s from 11 touches.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: J. Williams 3, I. Khoury, D. Carbone, M. Hutchins, T. Luke, S. Perkins.
Port Melbourne: S. Locke 2, C. Dyett, E. Harley, M. Kuys, A. Edmonds.

BEST:

Hawthorn: M. Hutchins, K. Sherar, I. Khoury, J. Williams, J. Richardson, T. Luke
Port Melbourne: A. Ling, C. Dyett, E. Harley, A. Edmonds, O. Barton, L. McClelland

SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.9 | 8.12 (60)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 3.3 | 3.3 | 3.4 (22)

After a tight first half, Southern Saints kicked away to defeat North Melbourne by 38 points and book a VFL Women’s finals spot. The Saints lead by just a point at quarter time, but 5.8 to 0.1 after the main break – including four goals in the final term – resulted in the home team celebrating with an 8.12 (60) to 3.4 (22) win and securing sixth place on the table. Tara Bohanna slotted three goals from 25 disposals, eight marks, seven hitouts and three inside 50s, teaming up well with the dangerous Gabi De Angelis (24 disposals, nine marks, three tackles, eight inside 50s and two goals) for the bulk of the scoring. Tyanna Smith (23 disposals, six marks, six tackles and four inside 50s) and Hannah Stewart (22 disposals, three marks, six clearances and four inside 50s) were also busy, as Rebecca Neaves and Francesca Hocking both had 12 disposals and combined for nine rebound 50s. Capping off a simply remarkable season, North skipper Meagan Kiely might have saved her best to last. Racking up 36 disposals, 11 marks, three clearances, four inside 50s and six rebounds, Kiely was simply unstoppable around the ground. She teamed up well with Airlie Runnalls (33 disposals, nine marks, five clearances, four tackles, five inside 50s and a goal), whilst Sarah Skinner also slotted two goals returning to the team, along with 17 disposals, seven marks and four inside 50s. Jess Mourney was steadfast in defence with 17 touches, six marks and four rebound 50s.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 3, G. De Angelis 2, A. Peck, J. Matin, T. Kearns
North Melbourne: S. Skinner 2, A. Runnalls

BEST:

Southern Saints: T. Smith, H. Stuart, G. De Angelis, T. Kearns, R. Neaves, T. Bohanna
North Melbourne: A. Runnalls, M. Kiely, J. Mourney, S. Skinner, R. Hicks, A. Hamilton

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.0 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
CARLTON 2.1 | 4.2 | 6.5 | 6.7 (43)
Carlton has capped off its VFL Women’s season with a win, securing seventh place on the final ladder. Whilst it was four points out of the top six, the Blues showed they could compete with the best teams at times, and were able to account for Williamstown by 27 points. Only leading by seven points at the first break, the Blues kicked four goals to one after quarter time to win, 6.7 (43) to 2.4 (16). Jennifer Lew finished with 20 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, four inside 50s and a goal in a best on ground performances, whilst the likes of Akayla Peterson (17 disposals, three marks, six tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s) and Jorja Borg (13 disposals, 39 hitouts, four tackles) were also impressive. Olivia Madden slotted two goals in the victory, whilst young talent Maeve Chaplin was also named in the Blues’ best. Ashlea Melnikas had 24 disposals, five clearances, eight tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds, sharing the high disposals with Ruby Tripodi (23 disposals, five clearances and five tackles) and Aimee Whelan (21 disposals, seven clearances, nine tackles and four rebound 50s. Erin Meade was once against a standout thanks to her 21 disposals, seven clearances and four rebound 50s, whilst Megan Williamson had 10 tackles and five clearances from nine disposals.
GOALS:
Williamstown: E. Meade, C. Leighton.
Carlton: O. Madden 2, S. Lawrence 2, C. Hammans, J. Lew.
BEST:
Williamstown: R. Tripodi, E. Straford, E. Meade, E. Baxter, P. Nash, A. Whelan
Carlton: J. Lew, A. Peterson, J. Borg, A. Klingbeil, O. Madden, M. Chaplin

The Graduates 2021 VFLW – Round 13

AFTER a long-awaited three-week break, the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition returned to action in Round 13, with several sides ruled out of finals contention, whilst others secured their spot in the post-season series. A number of NAB League Girls made their debuts in the competition, as we took a look at how they performed, as well as some of the others who have graduated the elite junior competition.

Geelong held off Hawthorn in a tight battle between the rival clubs, with the Hawks’ plethora of Eastern Ranges talents getting a run around. Isabelle Khoury (12 disposals, eight tackles) was the pick of the bunch, with current teammates Cadhla Schmidli (seven disposals), Eloise Chaston (six disposals and one goal), Keeley Sherar (six disposals, six tackles), Bridget Deed and Sarah Humm all donning the brown and gold.

Former Ranges player Jenna Richardson had the 13 disposals, six marks and four tackles in an impressive effort, whilst Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae (12 disposals, four tackles) and Northern Territory young gun Dominique Carbone (nine disposals, three marks and five tackles) also impressed. For the Cats, ex-Murray midfielder Tamara Smith continued her impressive season with 13 disposals and seven tackles, while former Falcon Paige Sheppard (nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and a goal) and current GWV Rebels utility Chloe Leonard (seven disposals) also played in the tight contest.

Collingwood dominated the Western Bulldogs in the second half on their way to a huge 64-point victory, and had plenty of young talents coming through. Oakleigh’s Stella Reid (13 disposals, two marks) and Eliza James (10 disposals, three tackles) both held their own in the contest, with former Gippsland Power defender Jasmine Ferguson standing up on the last line, and Olivia Meagher also playing through some early soreness to finish the game.

The Western Bulldogs had a trio of GWV Rebels return to the side, led by Ella Friend (seven disposals), Lilli Condon and Tahlia Meier (both five), with Western Jets midfielder Trinity Skenderis picking up the eight touches and ex-Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards laying 13 tackles and having three clearances from her four kicks.

Another former Bendigo skipper in Megan Williamson ran around for the Seagulls again laying five tackles with her five touches, whilst the current Bendigo skipper was on the opposite side – Essendon – with Tara Slender making her debut, picking up six touches, two marks, three tackles and a behind. Calder Cannons’ Zali Friswell booted a goal from three scoring chances for the Bombers, as Calder teammates Emelia Yassir (13 touches, seven tackles) and Kasey Lennox (seven disposals, two marks) also impressed.

Former Cannons Alana Barba (17 disposals, 11 tackles), Grace Dicker and Lauren Caruso also played in the match, with ex-Bushrangers talent Eloise Ashley Cooper picking up 10 touches and laying four tackles in the win.

A couple of former NAB League talents in Emma Horne (seven disposals) and Bridie Winbanks (five disposals, 12 hitouts and five tackles) ran around in Casey Demons’ win over Darebin. For the Falcons, Northern Knights duo Trinity Mills (11 disposals, five marks and four tackles) and Mikayla Plunkett (10 disposals, two marks and eight tackles) were named the best for the losing side. Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney and Katelyn Hazlett were among he present and former NAB Leaguers to pull on the Darebin jumper.

Southern Saints enjoyed a tight win over Carlton to give themselves best chance at a finals spot, and they had a number of young guns running around. Sandringham Dragons’ duo Pia Staltari (nine disposals, four tackles) and Emma Stuber both got their chance at VFLW level, whilst Jemma Radford had another game coming out of the Stingrays’ program. Ex-Ranges forward Gabi De Angelis had 15 disposals, two marks and nine tackles, whilst former Chargers tall Amelia Peck booted a goal from eight touches and four marks. Ex-Stingray Grace Hodder continued her stint at senior level for the Saints.

The Blues welcomed back Northern Knights duo Maeve Chaplin (10 disposals, five tackles) and Tara Delgado (six disposals, two tackles), while ex-Charger Amber Micallef stood up with 11 disposals, three marks and three tackles in the loss.

Port Melbourne had no shortage of young stars running around in its big win over North Melbourne, lead by Oakleigh Chargers’ Brooke Vickers (13 disposals, two marks) and Dandenong Stingrays’ Ashleigh Richards (11 disposals, four marks and a goal). Chargers’ Amanda Ling had another impressive outing with 10 touches, three marks, four tackles and a goal, whilst Dandenong Stingrays’ Jaide Anthony (seven disposals, two marks) and ex-Bushranger Sophie Locke (seven disposals, two marks and five tackles) also worked hard. North Melbourne had GIANTS Academy hard nut Jayde Hamilton back onball for nine touches, four marks and three tackles.