Tag: Southern Saints

Six sides race for last VFL Women’s spot

THERE are just five rounds remaining in the 2021 VFL Women’s season, and the ladder has well and truly taken shape. With the top five teams having seemingly created enough separation – three wins or 12 points and a percentage difference that will never be matched – from teams in the bottom six, it is fair to say that Essendon and Casey Demons’ 6-3 records and 165 per cent-plus will be enough for them to join the unbeaten Collingwood, and top three sides Port Melbourne (8-1) and Geelong (7-2) in the finals series. This leaves one spot for a side to grab hold of and we look at those in the running.

SOUTHERN SAINTS:

Position: 6th
Wins: 4
Losses: 5
Percentage: 104.8

As the saying goes, sixth spot is the Saints’ to lose. A recent defeat at the hands of the Western Bulldogs would have hurt the Saints, but they bounced back with an important win over Hawthorn last round. They have a superior percentage to the teams below them – 30.7 per cent higher than the next best side – which means they would need to fall in a heap to drop outside on percentage. Effectively they are a game and a half ahead of other sides with that extra percentage, so one would think that two wins in the final five matches should do it, and three wins certainly will do it – as long as the two losses are not severe.

Opponents: Port Melbourne, Geelong, Western Bulldogs, North Melbourne, Carlton

That is one stiff draw for the Saints, coming up against two of the genuine title contenders in the next two rounds means they could slip outside the six from Round 11 if they drop them both. Whilst the final three are a little bit easier, they lost to the Bulldogs a fortnight ago, and the trio of sides are all the next in line to take their spot. Talk about pressure and making them earn it, none are guaranteed, though they should pick up a couple of wins. Will it be enough? Only time will tell.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

Position: 7th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Percentage: 74.1

For a side that has been heavily favouring VFL Women’s listed players compared to many of its AFLW-aligned counterparts, North Melbourne should be pretty happy with where it sits in the scheme of things. If Southern Saints do indeed lose their next two games, then the Roos could pounce with some favourable results. Ticking over an important win two starts ago against Carlton was unfortunately cancelled out by the heavy loss to Casey in Round 9, but they were helped by the fact their nearest rivals – Western Bulldogs and Carlton – both had huge defeats to reduce their percentages further.

Opponents: Collingwood, Hawthorn, Essendon, Southern Saints, Port Melbourne

An even harder draw than the Saints, North Melbourne face three of the top four sides, as well as the Saints in what could ultimately be a do-or-die clash. The game against bottom three side Hawthorn is a must-win for the Roos, as that appears to be the best chance for a win, though if they do load up on some AFL Women’s talent, then they have enough talent on the list to worry most sides. The Hawks are no easy beats either with the list they are assembling, so again, no easy games here.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

Position: 8th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Percentage: 69.6

One step forward, three steps back is probably apt for the Western Bulldogs at the moment, with some great strides made in the past few weeks undone at the hands of a ruthless Geelong outfit last week. On paper the Bulldogs had the talent to match the Cats, but were blown off the park, and will be hungry to make up for it this week. This issue is, now the Bulldogs have copped a huge percentage blow, and will have to earn a finals spot via wins rather than percentage, which will mean they will need a minimum of three wins, and hope the Saints do not grab their two victories. Realistically though, the Dogs probably need to win four out of five to be a chance.

Opponents: Carlton, Essendon, Southern Saints, Casey Demons, Collingwood

Needing four wins to get in – and even then probably needing results to go their way, the Bulldogs simply must beat Carlton to be a chance, especially with four top six teams to round out their year. The Saints are a side they beat, and the only AFLW-aligned side they have managed to defeat this year. They might get two to three wins, but the last fortnight – with Casey and Collingwood not mucking around when it comes to AFLW talent – the Bulldogs need to head into those games with three consecutive wins under their belt.

CARLTON:

Position: 9th
Wins: 3
Losses: 6
Percentage: 71.8

The biggest outsider of the possibilities, the Blues have really struggled to score when they have lost, but have shown patches of brilliance, such as their hard-fought loss to Port Melbourne a couple of weeks back. Had they snatched that one, the Blues would be in prime position for sixth spot, but instead, they have the lowest percentage of the teams jostling to force their way back in the top six, and will be needing a miracle to not only notch up the required likely four of five wins, but hope results go their way as well, much like the Western Bulldogs with a sub-70 per cent.

Opponents: Western Bulldogs, Casey Demons, Geelong, Williamstown, Southern Saints

The fortnight of Casey Demons and Geelong will be a painful one based on recent results, but if the Blues can cause an upset there, then it is game on. The other three matches are winnable, but certainly not guarantees by any stretch. A loss to the Western Bulldogs this week would effectively put a line through the Blues finals chances, as it means they would need to beat both Casey and Geelong, which is asking a fair bit given what those sides have been able to achieve.

HAWTHORN:

Position: 10th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Percentage: 72.3

Hawthorn seem like the side that might not make finals, but they could certainly ruin some chances and play the role of party pooper along the way. They are not completely out of the running despite just winning the two games, but they need a near-perfect run from here, pretty much winning all five games to lock themselves in, or four and hope for the best with results. The one plus is they have the second highest percentage of teams in the bottom six, though that is still too far away from the sixth placed Saints.

Opponents: Darebin, North Melbourne, Williamstown, Port Melbourne, Geelong

What makes Hawthorn intriguing is the fact that they face the two bottom sides, as well as the inconsistent North Melbourne, in the next three weeks. If the Hawks can pull off three wins – one would expect they at least claim two of those – then it would give the other sides competing for a finals spot something to think about. One would suggest they probably fall short with Port Melbourne and Geelong in the final fortnight, but expect them to give it a red hot crack to the line.

WILLIAMSTOWN:

Position: 11th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Percentage: 50.1

Definitely into the mathematical chances now, with the Seagulls having had just the two wins this season and have a really low percentage with some heavy losses. They would need to be in a similar boat to Hawthorn, winning just about all of them, or hoping to win four and have results go their way.

Opponents: Casey Demons, Darebin, Hawthorn, Carlton, Essendon

Admittedly it is not the worst draw for the Seagulls, but they are bottom two for a reason, though they could really cause some headaches for the top sides. They have been competitive for the most part at times, and just blown away here or there to really impact their percentage, but with games against the other bottom four sides, Williamstown on a good day could come away with three wins. It would not be enough for finals though, with Casey and Essendon both having that extra class with AFLW talent.

2021 VFLW season preview: Southern Saints

THE Southern Saints are setting no ceiling on their potential in 2021 according to incoming VFLW head coach, Dale Robinson, who says her players are “super excited” to be back out on the track ahead of season proper. Previously a St Kilda AFLW development coach, Robinson has taken the reigns of the Saints-aligned reserves side this year as both competitions run concurrently.

AFLW-listed players will now gain the opportunity to run out each week even when they are not selected in the senior side, with VFLW talent feeding off the experience of their elite level teammates, and NAB League prospects also filtering into the grade as each season progresses.

Robinson says there is some promising youth coming into the program at an age where their development could be accelerated in a senior competition. She outlined some of the standouts who will look to have an impact on the side in 2021, as well as the style of play fans can expect from the Saints.

“There’s a lot of young kids coming through that are at that age where they might have been out of the NAB League program now for a couple of years, but they’re really ready to develop their senior stuff,” Robinson said. “I’m excited about what some of those young kids can bring with the girls that have been there for a few years and built a really good culture around the club.

“I’m excited to see what Rebecca Ott can bring – she was actually elevated into the AFLW list a couple of weeks ago when, unfortunately, Nicola Xenos had a season-ending injury. “I think this will be a great year for her transition out of basketball to see what she can do from a footy perspective. “Georgia McLean has come across from Casey and I think she’ll add some good experience across our backline.

Maddi Capsalis is another one that I think will have some significant growth this year, the way that she attacks the ball is just phenomenal and it’ll be exciting to see what she does. “Then there’s a couple of the NAB League kids like Abbey Jordan and Zoe Hill to come through the program as well, so there’s some good young talent there that I’m excited to see what they can do.”

“I think the way that we want to try and look at moving the ball is to really open things up and not be too predictable in the way we move the ball. “I’d like to see some really good defensive work all across the ground, that’ll turn into good offensive run.”

As St Kilda transitioned into the AFLW competition, it brought with it a heap of former Southern Saints-listed players who are now thriving at the top level. It meant the VFLW Saints would be forced into a heavy list turnover and talent search, which has been heightened by the loss of a whole season.

Still, Robinson says the group has remained tight and many of the players who were set to go around in 2020 have recommitted to the club. With a “one club” mentality further aiding the connection across both levels, the Saints were able to keep close throughout the unexpected break while maintaining good levels of football fitness and touch.

“We probably look very different from 2019 because obviously the girls that were playing at that time, a lot of them are actually part of our St Kilda AFLW side now,” Robinson said. “That was that real transition year where we led into our first year of AFLW, but we’ve kept the majority of the girls that we were bringing together at the start of the 2020 season and then we’ve added a few players from different areas that have fitted in really seamlessly.

“It’s been great to sort of have 12 months of connection with those girls even though it hasn’t necessarily been on the track… (now) they’ve brought that in and for built on it across the last 10-11 weeks.

“From a fitness perspective, the majority of them kept as much touch and fitness as they could so we found that most of them came back in reasonably good shape. “There’s been quite a bit of work around the touch side of things, just to get that feel of the ball back in the hands, but that’s coming along pretty well and that’ll only get stronger as the season goes on.”

The group’s togetherness showed as it was able to overcome North Melbourne’s reserves in a preseason hitout last week, winning by 28 points at Trevor Barker Beach Oval. With one more scratch match set before season proper, Robinson says the Saints will look to learn from their performances with the chance to cap off a strong preseason.

“There were some really good things to take out of the game from an education perspective,” she said. “To look at the things that we’ve been working on over the season – what works, what we still need to put a little bit of time into… I was really happy with the way they ran out our practice game last week and I think that’ll put us in good stead to have a good season.”

The Saints’ six-player leadership group will be headed by a trio of co-captains in Tara Bohanna, Deanna Jolliffe, and Frankie Hocking. Robinson says the leaders voted in were largely reflective of who the coaching staff had identified for the role.

“We announced our leadership about three weeks ago, we have three co-captains that have really epitomised the way we’ve gone about our preseason and the player vote was reflective of the leaders that I’d seen coming through,” she said.

While no fixture has officially been released as of yet, the Saints are set to commence their VFLW season in late-February, hoping to match the competitiveness shown by their AFLW counterparts.

Image Credit: Lawrence Raja/Sandringham FC Media

VFLW weekly wrap: Preliminary Final – Magpies surge into decider with strong finish

A FEROCIOUS Collingwood Magpies swooped into the 2019 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) Grand Final producing a scintillating lesson in forward pressure. The Magpies knocked off the Southern Saints for the second time in three weeks as they advanced to play the Western Bulldogs in next Sunday’s decider. In a tight contest that was see-sawing at times, the Magpies held form in the final term to kick two of the last three goals of the game to run out 7.5 (47) to 5.3 (33) winners. While the Saints’ defence was up to the task, they were ultimately overwhelmed in the end as the Magpies piled on 27 more inside 50s, 19 more tackles and 35 more disposals to send an ominous sign to their opponent next week.

It was the Southern Saints who were first on the board, keen to atone for the loss to the Magpies a fortnight prior, with former Blue, Kate Shierlaw putting through a major just 54 seconds into the contest. Her major was soon equaled out by Katelyn Lee, but again the Saints struck back midway through the term thanks to recent recruit, Caitlin Greiser who extended the margin to eight. A crucial goal to Oakleigh Chargers’ graduate Nicola Xenos got the Magpies up and about with the margin eventually cut to one by the first break. Bri Davey‘s return in the black and white after injury was proving to be a huge factor through the midfield, while up forward, competition leading goalkicker Jaimee Lambert was about to get to work. She booted two goals in 15 minutes, joined by slick Chargers’ utility Gemma Lagioia who added a major in between Lambert’s goals to extend the lead out to 17, which would be the largest of the match. With the momentum fully with the Magpies, former Pie, Darcy Guttridge booted a much-needed major on the edge of half-time for her side to head into the break with a more manageable 11-point deficit.

Neither side could seem to break through in the third term, with it taking a late goal from Emma Mackie to bring the game back to life heading into the final break. The Magpies lead by just five points at the final change, and with the Saints having booted the last two, needed someone to stand up early. That someone was AFL Women’s Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy who made the most of an opportunity to give the Magpies breathing space, but no sooner had she done that and Southern Saints’ Molly McDonald brought the margin back to a straight kick two minutes later. It would prove to be the last score for the Saints however, as some desperate defending by their back end forced a couple of rushed behinds. The pressure from the Magpies was intense and eventually it won the game, with a fitting goal to Lambert putting the margin out to a match-winning 14 points surging them into the grand final.

Davey finished the match with 30 disposals, three marks and four tackles through the midfield, working well with Lambert who amassed 28 touches herself, as well as six marks, four tackles and three goals. Brit Bonnici had 17 disposals, two marks and four tackles, while Molloy picked up 15 disposals, laid four tackles and booted a crucial major to reignite the Pies. Chargers’ young guns Xenos and Lagioia combined for 27 disposals, six marks, 16 tackles and two goals to show they belong at the level and more. For the Saints, Tilly Lucas-Rodd had a team-high 16 disposals and laid three tackles, while Guttridge (15 disposals, one tackle and a goal) and Olivia Vesely (15 disposals, two marks and four tackles) were both big ball winners. Dandenong Stingrays and future St Kilda AFL Women’s players, McDonald and Isabella Shannon also put in strong performances with a combined 24 touches, five tackles and a goal in defeat. Among those playing underrated team roles were Sharni Layton and Stacey Livingstone, with Layton strong through the ruck with 18 hitouts, 14 disposals and four tackles, while Livingstone had eight touches and was really impressive in the defensive 50. For the Saints, Catherine Phillips was named the Saints’ best with 10 touches and six tackles.

Collingwood faces Western Bulldogs at Ikon Park on Sunday from 11.35am.

Collingwood 2.1 | 5.1 | 5.3 | 7.5 (47)
Southern Saints 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.2 | 5.3 (33)

GOALS:
Collingwood:
J. Lambert 3, N. Xenos, K. Lee, G. Lagioia, C. Molloy.
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw, K. Greiser, Guttridge, E. Mackie, M. McDonald.

BEST:
Collingwood:
J. Lambert, B. Davey, G. Lagioia, S. Layton, S. Livingstone, B. Bonnici
Southern Saints: C. Phillips, C. Fitzpatrick, M. McDonald, E. Mackie, K. O’Neill, I. Shannon

Future Saint already making waves at VFLW level

SINCE earlier this year, Dandenong Stingrays’ Isabella Shannon has known her fate for the 2020 AFL Women’s season. Unlike many of her peers, Shannon was pre-listed by the St Kilda side set to come into the top-level competition at the beginning of next season. Joined by Stingrays’ teammate and captain Molly McDonald, Shannon has followed the same pathway this year, graduating from the Stingrays, to Vic Country, to the Southern Saints’ VFL Women’s side to acquaint herself with the coaching staff and many teammates who will run out in the red, black and white next year.

Shannon initially got into football after having a kick with her father and brother, and once her local club in Mount Eliza started a girls program, the tall utility jumped at the prospect. While her talent is undeniable – pre-listed prior to her top-age year to an expansion AFLW club speaks to that – it is the close bond she has through the sport that keeps her driven to reach her goals.

“Definitely like the friendships that you make, that’s what so good about footy,” Shannon said. “There’s like 25 girls in a team so you get to make so many friends and through the rep stuff, you just know people from all over the country which is awesome.”

An area Shannon has worked on this year is her repeat sprints to try and push hard across four quarters and continually develop her game. As a player who has played in attack, midfield and defence, she has seemed to settle into the back half since taking up her role at the Southern Saints in the back-end of the season. She said the professionalism of being a member of an AFLW club and experiencing that side of sport was “awesome” and she looked forward to building her confidence throughout the season.

Shannon’s coach at the Saints, Peta Searle said the improvement shown by the 18-year-old to not only come in and play a role, but cement her spot in the side was remarkable.

“I’ve really loved watching the growth in her this year,” Searle said. “She’s come into our side and she’s now been picked as part of our best seven defenders and all the girls are now getting picked on, not what we’ve got to achieve in 2020, but what we can achieve in this finals series and definitely Isabella and Molly (McDonald) have earned their spots in our side.”

In season 2019, Shannon averaged 15.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 4.4 tackles and 3.7 inside 50s per game for the Stingrays, predominantly playing through the midfield. She then pushed further back for Vic Country, where she averaged 11.3 disposals and 2.7 tackles per game on the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. While her numbers are lower at VFLW level – just the 4.5 disposals and 1.3 tackles, she has answered the call each week and played her role for the side.

With the Saints still in contention for a VFLW flag, Shannon could experience success with her new teammates before making the step up to the elite level next year.

Young Saints look to take down Magpies

SOUTHERN Saints missed out on the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) minor premiership after going down in the final round of the home and away season, but with a win in their only clash against eventual minor premiers Collingwood, the Saints know they are a huge chance to claim the victory in the huge qualifying final. Coach Peta Searle said the group had achieved everything they wanted to in the regular season for 2019, adjusting goals as they met the next requirement.

“Obviously it was a little bit disappointing to lose last week and potentially finish off the year on top is a good end to the year isn’t it?” she said. “But our goal coming into the season was to play finals, but once we reassured that up, well then we want a bit more than that so the goal was to finish top two to get the double chance so to be able to do that, is a tick … but I wouldn’t say there’s been very minor hiccups for me, we’ve won some games that we probably could have lost. “Then we’ve lost some games we probably could have won, but that’s football.”

While the Magpies are the only side with the home final this weekend due to finishing on top of the table, Searle said they were far from the only side to worry about, when asked about which side was the biggest threat to her team’s flag campaign.

“That’s a hard question because any of the teams are good enough to win,” she said. “You know you’ve got Melbourne Uni … you have a look at their list and now Emma Kearney‘s in the side running out, it’s just like any team can win it. “Obviously Collingwood hold a bit of pole position finishing the year strongly. “Any team is more than capable, every team is a threat.”

But before the Saints can dream of a maiden premiership, they have to get over the line against Collingwood this weekend and move to just two wins away from the title.

“I think what we’ll do is this week, we’ll build our positivity in our group, look at things we do well, look at things we need to do to try and beat Collingwood,” Searle said. “Collingwood are a class outfit, their midfield is A-Grade elite AFLW class. “Like every game has been for us, it’s an opportunity for our girls to compete with elite people or against elite people and grow and learn something about themselves.”

The Saints are preparing for life in the AFLW next season, and have brought a number of players back to the club after stints with AFLW sides in 2019, while also pre-listing a number of talented Under-18 players. With access to the Dandenong Stingrays and Sandringham Dragons programs to pre-list players ahead of the draft, it was a duo of Stingrays that caught the eye for the Saints.

Isabella Shannon and Molly McDonald have been fantastic,” Searle said. “We would have loved to have them longer, loved to have them for more footy, I think that would have been more beneficial too for them going into AFLW but we understand the requirements around it and we understand too that they should play with their own age group. “But they’ve slotted into the team great, obviously Molly’s had a really good hitout on the wing, she was almost close to one of our best on ground two weeks ago. “A couple of weeks in a row she’s kicked some amazing goals, and Isabella Shannon, I’ve really loved watching the growth in her this year. “She’s come into our side and she’s now been picked as part of our best seven defenders and all the girls are now getting picked on, not what we’ve got to achieve in 2020, but what we can achieve in this finals series and definitely Isabella and Molly have earned their spots in our side.”

Southern Saints travel to Magpies’ heartland on Saturday, August 31 to face Collingwood. The game at Victoria Park kicks off from 12pm with free entry for those keen to check out the top two sides going head-to-head in a qualifying final.

Season reviews: VFLW – Southern Saints

THE Southern Saints were one of the surprise packages of the season, finishing eighth with only two AFL Women’s player on their list in Lauren Arnell and Laura Attard. Many would have expected the new team to finish on the bottom of the ladder but the Saints snuck away with a few crucial wins, including handing NT Thunder its first defeat of the season.

 

Position: 8th
Win-loss: 5-9
Percentage: 92%

Results:

Round 1: Lost against Carlton by 22 points
Round 2: Defeated Williamstown by 30 points
Round 3: Defeated Casey Demons by eight points
Round 4: Defeated Essendon by 36 points
Round 5: Bye
Round 6: Lost against Hawthorn by 33 points
Round 7: Defeated NT Thunder by 20 points
Round 8: Bye
Round 9: Lost against Casey Demons by 11 points
Round 10: Lost against Geelong by 38 points
Round 11: Lost against Melbourne University by three points
Round 12: Lost against Hawthorn by nine points
Round 13: Defeated Western Bulldogs by 31 points
Round 14: Lost against Darebin by four points
Round 15: Lost against Collingwood by 38 points
Round 16: Lost against Richmond by three points

 

Key players:

#8 Alison Drennan

Drennan was one of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premier midfielders, constantly racking up the touches week-in, week-out. She was classy with the ball-in-hand and strong in congestion. She took out the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest, along with Rhiannon Watt, and made the VFLW Team of the Year in what was a stellar season for her. Her season earned her an AFL Women’s contract with North Melbourne. One of her standout games was in Round 2, when she gathered 35 disposals to go along with seven tackles and a goal.

#15 Tara Bohanna

Tara Bohanna was a star up forward for the Southern Saints, kicking 15 goals from 14 matches. She presented well at the football and was able to peel off players inside 50. Bohanna finished inside the top 10 in the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest and finished equal third in the VFLW goal kicking tally. Bohanna had two three-goal hauls during the season, highlighting her impressive ability to hit the scoreboard.

#17 Leah Olsen

Leah Olsen was an extremely reliable defender for the Southern Saints. Often playing on a half-back flank, Olsen could match up on key players and produce exciting run and carry. She finished fourth in the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest with 86 votes. Olsen was a key contributor in almost every game for the Saints. She played a great game in Round 9, when she gathered 18 disposals and laid four tackles.

#24 Kayla Ripari

Ripari excited with her dash across half-forward and her clever ball-use. She was often calm with the ball in hand and aggressive without it, laying some bone-crunching tackles during the season. Ripari finished seventh in the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest after playing every game and making solid contributions. One of her more impressive games was against the NT Thunder when she was named best-on-ground for her side with 14 disposals and two tackles.

#28 Rhiannon Watt

Watt was arguably the best ruck in the VFLW competition, using her height to advantage to give her midfielders prime use of the ball. She was agile at ground level as well, as she was able to rack up the numbers during the season as well. She won the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest, along with Alison Drennan, and made the VFLW Team of the Year as the leading ruck. She had a standout game in Round 12, with 20 disposals, four marks and seven tackles.

 

Season summary:

The Southern Saints should be extremely proud of their season, having hardly any AFL Women’s players on their list. They trusted their young talent to pull through and they did, recording a respectable five wins this season. While the losses outweighed the wins, it wasn’t by much, as five of their nine losses were under 10 points. The Saints are building their list along nicely for an AFL Women’s berth in 2020, and could be a key contender in the VFLW next year if they get some more AFL Women’s talent on their list.

Number Crunching: VFLW – Round 14

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition begins to wrap up, patterns are clearly seen as powerful players dominate in the round-leading stats. In this week’s edition of Number Crunching, we look into those players who lead in goals, disposals, handballs, tackles and marks in Round 14.

Hawthorn has had a fantastic debut season, currently sitting third on the ladder on 40 points. This can be mainly due to great performances from players like Sarah Perkins. Perkins was the leading goal kicker for Round 14 with three in Hawthorn’s big win against the Dogs.

NT Thunder’s Jenna McCormick lead the round in disposals. McCormick’s key role in the blockbuster match-up between first and second was a vital and match-winning one. With 31 disposals in total, the half-back’s presence in NT’s comeback and eventual win in the tight 38-28 game against Collingwood was one to remember.

Saints midfielder, Alison Drennan led the way in handballs. For Round 14, Drennan recorded 22 handballs in the Saints’ clash against Darebin. The Falcons have had a great season thus far, despite her team’s below-average ranking at seventh on the ladder.

Hayley Bullas of Essendon leads this round in tackles. Bullas laid a whopping 17 tackles in the match, but Essendon still conceded to the stronger Geelong side. Bullas continues to be a strong player for Essendon, constantly being top ranked in tackles for her team.

Finally for most marks, two players take out the top position. Hawthorn’s Ebony Nixon as well as previously mentioned round leader, McCormick lead with an equal seven marks. Nixon’s command as a half-back for Hawthorn allowed her to have plenty of space to get six out of seven marks uncontested, assisting her team in another vital win. McCormick’s ability to do the same in difficult conditions against her team’s major competition proved to be also exactly what NT needed.

Round 14: Most individual disposals

Player

Team

Disposals

Jenna McCormick

NT Thunder

31

Jess Duffin

Williamstown

30

Alison Drennan

Southern Saints

30

Angela Foley

NT Thunder

29

Ebony Marinoff

NT Thunder

28

 

Round 14: Most individual handballs

Player

Team

Handballs

Alison Drennan

Southern Saints

22

Eleanor Brown

Southern Saints

15

Maighan Fogas

Geelong Cats

14

Sophie Alexander

Collingwood

13

Hayley Trevean

Geelong Cats

13

 

Round 14: Most individual marks 

Player

Team

Marks

Jenna McCormick

NT Thunder

7

Ebony Nixon

Hawthorn

7

Lauren Spark

Western Bulldogs

6

Meghan McDonald

Darebin Falcons

6

Nicole Callinan

Darebin Falcons

6

 

Father’s influence inspired Jemma Owen’s love for Aussie Rules

BEING the daughter of a man that has played and coached over 500 games in Melbourne’s south east region is no easy feat to live up to.

Throw in an uncle who is a former Victorian Football Association (VFA) player for Oakleigh, and you have one talented football family. But perhaps the most talented of them all is Sandringham Dragons captain, Jemma Owen.

Owen’s name became well-known when she booted a bag of 16 goals for her local team, Highett, and since that moment, has grown in leaps and bounds. The 18 year-old credits her improvement to the dedication of her late father, Kevin.

“So I got into footy through my dad,” Owen said. “My dad coached and played over 500 games. “Just going down to the ground with him and watching the boys play, I was like that’s what I want to do when I grow up, I want to play footy.”

Owen first picked up a football in a competitive environment at Auskick, where many TAC Cup Girls players discovered their love for the game. After playing with the boys for many years, the Sandringham skipper grasped the rising opportunities for females at the time, and reflected on how the pathway has grown over the years.

“Definitely coming through the ranks and going through Auskick and everything to playing with the boys, they’re kind of like oh there’s a girl!,” Owen said. “Now seeing that there’s so many girls playing and having the opportunity to come through is really great.”

Before she started to take her opportunities in football, Owen did athletics for 11 years. She competed in discus and loved playing that sport, as well as many other sports, but football was always in the back of her mind.

“I wanted to do every sport under the sun,” Owen said. “Athletics was always there and I wasn’t bad at it, my thing was discus. “Obviously as I got older, the body started to get bigger and I was still small, and so I couldn’t compete at that level so definitely footy was the big thing for me.”

This year, Owen has been able to grasp an opportunity that not many players get to have. After four years playing in Dragons colours, she led the side in 2018 and was thrilled to do so.

“I’m very honoured to be picked as captain,” Owen said. “I’ve been playing with Sandringham for four years and finally getting the chance to captain them and playing under awesome captains is definitely a proud moment for me and definitely one I’ll remember.”

Another memorable moment for Owen came this year when she was selected in Vic Metro’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships squad. Owen featured in Metro’s match against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium and was just glad to be selected in the first place.

“It’s definitely a massive honour (being selected),” the Dragons captain said. “I’ve probably worked for four years to have this opportunity and to be selected to play. “It’s an amazing opportunity and something I’ve wished for for a long time.”

The hard work has paid off as Owen is now a member of the Southern Saints’ Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s team. The 18 year-old has played six games for the Saints this season and has thoroughly enjoyed the transition to VFLW.

“It’s been an awesome opportunity,” Owen said. “The girls down there have been really great. “They’re really supportive of the TAC girls coming down. “It’s been an awesome opportunity to play at that elite level.”

Number Crunching: VFLW – Round 13

IN this week’s edition of Number Crunching, we look at which teams have been the most damaging in this year’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition. While it is easy to look at the ladder and see who is doing well, we decided to take a look at which teams have recorded the biggest winning margins and the biggest average winning margins this season.

The top three biggest winning margins all belong to the dominant NT Thunder outfit. The Thunder defeated the Bombers, Melbourne University and even the fourth-placed Cats all by more than 60 points. It is easy to see why the Thunder have the highest percentage in the VFLW, sitting on 219.20 after Round 13.

These three big wins, among many others, have helped contribute to NT’s average winning margin. This margin sits at 45.2 points after 13 rounds, but it could get reduced by the season’s end, as the Thunder faces the Pies and Hawks in the closing rounds of the competition. Surprisingly sitting behind the Thunder in second is Carlton, who has an average winning margin of 34.5 points. Although the Blues have only won four games this season, they have been able to beat teams convincingly, with their biggest winning margin of the season being 46 points. One team that has had to work hard for its wins is Melbourne University. The Mugars have won three games this season with an average winning margin of 5.67 points, and are therefore no stranger to close encounters.

 

Biggest winning margins (Rounds 1-13)

Round

Score

Margin

3

NT 14.12.96 def Ess 4.0.24

72 points

4

NT 13.10.88 def Melb Uni 3.1.19

69 points

9

NT 13.7.85 def Geel 2.8.20

65 points

13

Geel 10.7.67 def Rich 1.2.8

59 points

6

WB 12.11.83 def Will 4.3.27

56 points

1

NT 12.14.86 def Darebin 5.2.32

54 points

2

Carlton 9.7.61 def WB 2.3.15

46 points

11

Geel 10.8.68 def Casey 4.3.27

41 points

12

Carl 7.10.52 def Rich 1.5.11

41 points

10

NT 7.8.50 def Darebin 1.4.10

40 points

5

NT 13.5.83 def WB 7.5.47

36 points

7

Coll 8.5.53 def Carl 2.5.17

36 points

8

Casey 6.11.47 def Ess 3.3.21

26 points

 

Highest average winning margins

Rank

Team

Average winning margin

1

NT Thunder

45.2

2

Carlton

34.5

3

Richmond

33.67

4

Geelong Cats

31.62

5

Williamstown*

31

6

Darebin

29.86

7

Western Bulldogs

24.67

8

Collingwood

21.9

9

Hawthorn

19.89

10

Southern Saints

19.4

11

Casey Demons

15.4

12

Essendon*

8

13

Melbourne University

5.67

 

*These teams have only recorded one win this season.

Love of the game inspires De Angelis to chase AFLW dream

LAST year, Eastern Ranges midfielder, Gabriella De Angelis used football as a method of stress relief to calm her nerves.

Now, the 17 year-old has instilled the belief in herself to try and achieve her ultimate goal, thanks to her love of the sport.

“I do (have my sights set on AFLW),” she said. “Since about last year… I said I was just going to play and just go back to loving the game because I’ve always played because I love the game. “So now I’m just going to give it my best shot and see how I go.”

De Angelis discovered her love of the game at a very young age when she began playing Auskick. Even after taking a hiatus from the game, she admits that she still loved playing and was glad that she picked up the sport again.  

“I was playing Auskick at Donvale and then moved with the boys in under 11s and under 12s I think for two or three seasons, and then I stopped because I didn’t think there was anything, I didn’t know there was a girls competition,” De Angelis said. “So I had a break for a season and a bit and then someone told me they were playing footy. “I joined Whitehorse and stayed there ever since and I’ve just loved it.”

Along with Whitehorse, the 17 year-old also played with the Eastern Ranges, represented Vic Metro at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships and now pulls on the boots for the Southern Saints in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

When she was approached to play for the Saints, she was in shock. De Angelis also experienced a feeling that she has become accustomed to in Aussie Rules, feeling the nerves before her first hit-out with the side. But she admits that after she overcame that hurdle, she has enjoyed being a Saints player.

“When they said St Kilda wants to talk to you, I didn’t believe it,” De Angelis said. “I love the game but I never thought it would really go anywhere. “I was really nervous at the start (of my first game) and then I got into the game, I kicked a goal. “I’m really enjoying it there.”

The opportunity to play with the Saints comes after she finished playing with the Eastern Ranges this year. While she admits it’s sad to finish off at the club, this season in particular was one to remember.

“It was my favourite Academy season,” De Angelis said. “I don’t know if that’s just because it’s my last one but I really, really loved it. “I felt I improved a lot more so yeah I really enjoyed it.”

She attributes this improvement to learning off both the older and younger players in the side. De Angelis admits that she often turns to them for advice on her game, which shows the camaraderie of the TAC Cup Girls side.

“I love playing with them because they push me to do better things. “I can look up to even the ones that are younger than me, their skill, their knowledge. “I just love learning from them.”

De Angelis got the opportunity to play with some of her Eastern Ranges teammates in the “Big V”, as they travelled up to the Gold Coast to face off against the best female footballers in the country. The 17 year-old overcame some heartache last year to make the side, but is glad she got to represent her state this year.

“I didn’t make Metro last year, didn’t really expect to and I didn’t really expect it this year so I’m over the moon to get another opportunity,” she said.

Not only has De Angelis played representative football, but she also used to play representative basketball. Like many other TAC Cup Girls players, she juggled basketball and football for many years. After some deep thought, she decided to make football her sole sport.

“It was a very tough decision (to give up basketball),” she said. “In Year 11, I was playing rep basketball and footy and they got a bit too much so mum said ‘you have to choose’. “I’ve stopped playing basketball now to focus on footy.”

Now in Year 12, footy is still the focus for De Angelis, but she also has another career path in mind for the future.

“Eventually, I’d like to go into the police force but I’ve just got to work out what I really want,” the Vic Metro representative said.

At the moment, De Angelis is enjoying her time at the Southern Saints and has excelled in both Eastern Ranges and in Vic Metro colours. In her most recent game for the Saints, De Angelis recorded 10 disposals and laid three tackles. Her side next plays Hawthorn on Saturday at Trevor Barker Beach Oval.