Tag: tahlia gillard

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Girls – Round 6

ROUND 6 of the NAB League Girls saw a host players out with AFL Women’s Academy duties but that did not stop the Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights from continuing their winning ways. Geelong once again proved to be the front runners of the competition while Oakleigh also flexed their muscles with a big win over Murray. The round also saw some close clashes between the Eastern Ranges and Calder Cannons along with Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Sandringham Dragons with both games coming down to two kicks or less.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER 0.0 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 10.7 (67)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Gippsland: G. McRae, N. Webber, S. Walker.
Northern: L. Picioane 3, J. Simpson 2,  J. Fitzgerald 2, N. Morris-Dalton, T. Smart, M. Ramsay.

BEST:

Gippsland: G. McRae, C. Abrahams , M. Fitzsimon, S. Walker, M. Van Berkel, N. Webber
Northern: J. Fitzgerald, P. Chisholm, N. Morris-Dalton, A. Snow, M. Chaplin, L. Picioane

After a slow start, Northern Knights pulled away from Gippsland Power to ensure they remained undefeated after six rounds and sitting just two points behind Geelong Falcons on top of the table. In the match against the Power, Northern booted nine goals to three after quarter time to secure the 10.7 (67) to 3.4 (22) win, but not without some resistance from the home side. After the match was moved from Preston City Oval to Garfield, the Knights became the visitors but looked all at home once they had settled in despite missing an number of their top stars – Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht, Ellie McKenzie and Sarah Sansonetti – who were all out on AFL Women’s Academy duties. The Knights’ depth stepped up in their absence, with Jess Fitzgerald being the key influencer through the midfield, collecting 16 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s and booting two goals, while Phoebe Chisholm led her side for disposals with 19, as well as two marks, four tackles and five rebounds. Ash Snow was prolific around the ground, while Nell Morris-Dalton continued her strong season rotating between ruck and forward, while Lanarose Picioane who booted three majors in an impressive performance up forward. For Gippsland, Grace McRae was named the best for her 19 disposals, three tackles and a goal, while Chandra Abrahams and Megan Fitzsimon continued their great seasons, combining for 49 disposals, 12 tackles and eight inside 50s in a losing side. Nikia Webber also had a solid performance with a goal, while Matilda Van Berkel was strong at half-back.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.2 | 5.3 | 8.7 | 11.8 (74)
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 (20)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Oakleigh: J. D”Amato 2, M. Bertuna 2, T. Morton, A. Peck, E. Harley, N. Xenos, K. Kearns, T. Cowan, A. van Oosterwijck.
Murray: C. Boschetti 2, T. Verhoeven.

BEST:

Oakleigh: C. O”Malley, M. Bertuna, M. Hill, N. Xenos, J. Lin, G. Byrne
Murray: S. Locke, L. Sharp, K. Adams, C. Boschetti, A. Smith, A. Favell

Oakleigh Chargers have bounced back from their second loss of the season to record a huge nine-goal win over Murray Bushrangers. Both sides were close in the first term with two goals apiece, before the Chargers kicked away with a three goals to one second term to open up a 14-point lead. Despite their determination in the first half, Murray was unable to restrict Oakleigh in the second half as the Chargers booted six goals to zero to run out 11.8 (74) to 3.2 (20) winners. Jasmine D’Amato and Melanie Bertuna both booted two goals for the Chargers among nine individual goalkickers in a massive team effort. Captain Mimi Hill led from the front with 20 touches, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Chloe O’Malley was named best on ground for her 14 disposals, three tackles and two inside 50s. Nicola Xenos was influential in getting the ball inside 50 with 13 disposals, one mark, four tackles, five inside 50s and a goal, while Emily Harley booted another goal to take her season tally to 11. For Murray, Sophie Locke was named the best, collecting 13 disposals, four marks and four rebounds while laying an equal-team high eight tackles. Abby Favell was the top disposal winner once again with 14 touches, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s, while Teagan Brett had 13 disposals and eight tackles in the defeat. Oakleigh now sits sixth after the win, just two points outside the top four, while Murray are ninth but still clear of the Rebels, Jets and Power.

 

EASTERN RANGES 0.1 | 2.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 (29)
CALDER CANNONS 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.7 (25)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Eastern: S. Gibbs, S. Collard, T. Flintoff, J. Dunning.
Calder: G. Prespakis, T. Gillard, E. Yassir.

BEST:

Eastern: T. Flintoff, E. Horne, S. Gibbs, T. Merrett, M. Edwards
Calder: G. Prespakis, F. Theodore, N. Crowley, K. Lennox, T. Gillard, Z. Hardiman

Eastern Ranges have kept themselves in contention for finals heading into the last three rounds after an impressive four-point win over Calder Cannons. The Ranges are now within percentage of the top four, sitting just adrift of both Calder and Bendigo Pioneers who sit third and fourth respectively with 16 points apiece. It was a fairly scrappy game throughout with both sides applying plenty of defensive pressure around the ground as Eastern’s talls stood out with their strong marking at both ends. Where possible the Ranges moved the ball quickly with short, sharp passes, whereas Calder wanted to run the ball and kick long inside 50. Both methods were effective at times throughout the game, but the key defence of Eastern held strong with Tahlia Merrett taking a number of good intercept marks in defensive 50. Serena Gibbs also provided an option between half-back and half-forward, taking marks and booting the ball long to put it in front of the Eastern runners. Tahlia Gillard provided that target for Calder and early looked like breaking the game open, booting a goal and missing a couple of opportunities before the home side restricted the inside 50 entries. Georgie Prespakis and Tess Flintoff were impressive for their respective sides providing plenty of run, while Tarni Brown and Felicity Theodore assisted well through the midfield. In a see-sawing final term that almost saw Calder steal the win through Emelia Yassir, it took until the final minute for Flintoff to mark inside 50 against the boundary and calmly slotted the set shot for the four-point win.

 

WESTERN JETS 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 (1)
GEELONG FALCONS 2.1 | 7.2 | 11.3 | 12.4 (76)

By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Western: Nil.
Geelong: M. Skinner 4, P Schaap 2, R.Tierney 2, T. Lewis 2, J. Robinson, A. McKee

BEST

Western: J. Woods, E. Georgostathis, A. Anthony, C. Singleton, N. Wright, R. Tripodi
Geelong: P. Sheppard, M. Skinner, L. Lesosky-Hay, R. Tierney, A. McKee, G. Featherston

It was tough muck for the Western Jets on Sunday afternoon as they hosted ladder leaders, Geelong Falcons at Williamstown. Despite a relatively even first quarter the undefeated Falcons were able to pull away and deny the Jets opportunities in front of goal, running away to a 75 point win. The Jets started well defensively, crowding the Falcons and making it difficult to get a clear kick on goal, but were unable to move the ball downfield to their advantage. A beautiful kick inside 50 from Geelong debutant, Gabbi Featherston set up the first goal of the game after almost eight minutes of play, showing how well the Jets held their ground early. However, Western’s good fortune dwindled from there as the Falcons used their depth of their talent to kick away.

The Falcons proved to be dangerous up forward as the Jets struggled to contain their opposition without two of their main ball magnets in Isabella Grant and Isabelle PritchardPaige Sheppard (22 disposals, four tackles, five inside 50s) and Luka Lesosky-Hay (20 disposals, two tackles) switched on as the Falcons started to pile on the majors, with the likes of Renee TierneyTamika Lewis and Poppy Schaap kicking two goals apiece while Mia Skinner (four goals, 18 disposals) put on her best performance so far this season. Tierney’s tackling pressure was crucial, notching up eight as the Jets tried to force their way through Geelong’s defensive setup, while Lesosky-Hay showed some good footy smarts as she continuously pushed the contest back up the ground.

The Jets were unable to break through Geelong’s midfield barricade as the Falcons crowded and contested every possession, outrunning the Jets and scooping up the ground ball with precision. The Jets showed some good signs in attack in the third quarter, managing some great passages of play through the middle of the ground. Though unable to capitalise, Western’s defensive pressure inside forward 50 granted them opportunities in front of goal, gifting them their only score of the game – a rushed behind off the back of a good attempt on goal from Taya MeiersElisabeth Georgostathis (14 disposals, six tackles, six rebounds) showed her versatility in the backline, with her ability to read the play enabling her to know where the ball would be placed. Georgostathis was arguably one of the best for the Jets, putting constant pressure on her opposition, while a fantastic tackle in the final quarter saved an almost certain goal. Taylah Kolevski dominated hitouts with 23 alone, also racking up four tackles.

 

BENDIGO PIONEERS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe 2, E. Snell, B. Hards.
Dandenong: S. Stratton.

BEST:

Bendigo: J. Jolliffe, T. Slender, B. Hards, E. Gretgrix, A. Strahan, M. Tupper
Dandenong: Z. Hill, G. Hodder, J. Radford, G. Howes, B. Vernon, K. McKenzie

Bendigo Pioneers have given themselves a terrific shot at finals after overcoming Dandenong Stingrays by three goals at Epsom Huntly Reserve on Sunday. In a low-scoring affair, the Pioneers got the job done by restricting the Stingrays to just one goal in the game, and only four behinds after quarter time. Despite this, the game was tight throughout and it was not until the final goal of the game that the Pioneers could relax and enjoy their fourth win of the season. Jordyn Jolliffe played the best game of the season with 20 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s, two tackles and two goals in a best-on-ground effort, while Tara Slender was terrific up the other end, racking up 12 disposals, five marks, three tackles and two rounds in the win. The midfield of Brooke Hards, Eloise Gretgrix, Maeve Tupper and Annabel Strahan again took control in the absence of key Stingrays, Molly McDonald, Tyanna Smith and Isabella Shannon. Hards and Tupper both had 18 touches with Hards also laying eight tackles and having three inside 50s and four rebounds. For the Stingrays, Zoe Hill stood tall in defence with 12 disposals, three marks and three rebounds, while Brooke Vernon‘s super season continued, amassing 18 touches, four marks, five inside 50s and six rebounds, while Grace Hodder laid seven tackles from her 15 disposals. With Geelong Falcons, Calder Cannons and Oakleigh Chargers in the final three rounds, the finals are within the Pioneers’ control in what is a tough draw on the run home. The Stingrays can still make finals if they can topple Oakleigh Chargers next round with Murray Bushrangers and Western Jets in the final two weeks.

 

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.2 (26)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 (33)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

GWV: E. Friend 3, R. Saulitis.
Sandringham: E. Angelopoulos 2, C. Murphy 2, I. Eddey.

BEST:

GWV: E. Wood, N. Dojiok, N. Butler, A. Trigg, E. Friend, G. Pidgeon
Sandringham: W. Laing, C. Cody, P. Staltari, G. Strangio, I. Eddey, C. Murphy

It was a tight contest from start to finish with Sandringham Dragons claiming a seven-point victory over Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels. It was neck and neck in the first term with either side unable to pull away going into quarter time at seven points apiece. The Dragons piled on two goals in the third term, keeping GWV to just one point for the quarter. But the Rebels were not going down without a fight applying all the scoreboard pressure to come within striking distance but just falling short after a gallant effort. Without Sophie Molan and Maggie Caris, GWV looked to the likes of Renee Saulitis to lead the way. Saulitis made her presence felt on the field slotting a major, she was ably assisted by teammate Ella Friend. Friend dominated for the Rebels kicking three goals, racking up 10 disposals and laying a team high six tackles. Nyakoat Dojiok also led the way for her side with a team high 18 touches and four inside 50s showcasing the work she does across the ground. She was closely followed by Brook Thompson who also amassed four inside 50s, while 12 of her 15 disposals were kicks. Georgia Pidgeon also impressed with 14 touches while Ally Trigg took five marks to accompany her 10 disposals. Sandringham were missing some key players with Alice Burke, Eliza McNamara and Molly Denahy Maloney all out with AFL Women’s Academy duties but that did not seem to stop them from claiming the four points. Charli Murphy showed her hand up forward slotting two majors for the game while Ebony Angelopoulos also chipped in with her two goals. Through the midfield the Dragons were led by Winnie Laing who finished the afternoon with a game high 20 disposals and seven tackles. She was helped out by Chloe Saultry who amassed 16 touches with all of them kicks and a whopping six inside 50s. Bella Eddey was also impressive for Sandringham getting involved on the scoreboard, laying six tackles and racking up 13 touches for her efforts.

Weekend wash-up: NAB League Girls – Round 4

WITH Round 4 of the NAB League Girls complete the Geelong Falcons have continued their winning streak while the Northern Knights have moved into second spot on the ladder after a convincing victory over Sandringham. Up the other end of the table the Jets, Dragons and Power are yet to win a game.

NORTHERN KNIGHTS 1.2 | 2.4 | 5.4 | 5.6 (36)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)

By: Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

Northern: N. Morris-Dalton 2, B. Gutknecht, E. McKenzie, M. Papachristos.
Sandringham: S. Rothfield 2.

BEST:

Northern: G. Newton, N. Morris-Dalton, S. Sansonetti, E. McKenzie, T. Smart, P. Chisholm
Sandringham: W. Laing, C. Saultry, B. Arnold, C. Cody, T. Grasso, D. Walker

Northern Knights remain undefeated in 2019 after an impressive 21-point win over Sandringham Dragons to open the round. After a tight first half under intermittent rain, the Knights could only manage a nine-point buffer at the main break, but broke the game open as prime movers Britney Gutknecht and Ellie McKenzie stood up to hit the scoreboard. Nell Morris-Dalton was another to score in the third term, putting through her second to be the Knights’ only multiple goal kicker, while Sophia Rothfield booted both of the Dragons’ majors. While Gabby Newton was the prime ball-winner for Northern on top of McKenzie and Gutknecht, Winnie Laing and Alice Burke were constants in the engine room for Sandringham and tried hard all day. Bottom-ager Sarah Hartwig was also important for the Dragons having played at both ends, and took a couple of important intercept marks while in defence. With two wins on the trot after a draw to Oakleigh, the Knights moves on to another clash at La Trobe University with the 3-1 Eastern Ranges, who are coming off a big win over Western. Meanwhile, Sandringham faces a tough task to back up this one, set to do battle with Oakleigh at home on Saturday.

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 1.1 | 1.4 | 1.4 | 3.5 (23)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Murray: E. McPherson.
Bendigo: A. Strahan, E. Gretgrix, J. Jolliffe.

BEST:

Murray: M. Quade, H. Doohan, A. Morphett, C. Gogoll, M. Brown, A. Favell
Bendigo: A. Strahan, K. Douglass, B. Hards, J. Jolliffe, M. Tupper, R. Stubbings

Bendigo Pioneers balanced their season ledger with a terrific 14-point win over Murray Bushrangers at Deakin Reserve in Shepparton on Saturday, The Pioneers booted the first goal of the game through captain, Eloise Gretgrix, but it was a tough struggle after that as both teams refused to give an inch. The Bushrangers got on the board through Emilee McPherson in the third term. It wasn’t until the final term when Annabel Strahan and Jordyn Jolliffe put the final nails in the coffin to see the visitors hold Murray scoreless and take home an important four points. Strahan was terrific, picking up more disposals (20) in the game than she had in her first three, while also laying seven tackles, having five inside 50s, two rebounds and booted that all important second goal. Brooke Hards was strong again with a game-high 11 tackles as well as 17 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Maeve Tupper was prominent in the midfield with 16 disposals, while up either end, Jolliffe and Kate Douglass were solid. For the Bushrangers, Millie Brown had her best game of the season with a game-high 27 touches as well as two marks, while Abby Favell had another 22 disposals and eight tackles. Mindy Quade and Hayley Doohan were named among the Bushrangers’ best in the defeat.

WESTERN JETS 0.1 | 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.3 (3)
EASTERN RANGES 1.0 | 2.2 | 5.3 | 7.4 (46)

By: Taylah Melki

GOALS:

Western: Nil.
Eastern: S. Gibbs 2, L. McClelland 2, R. Hall, J. Richardson.

BEST:

Western: N. Wright, R. Tripodi, E. Georgostathis, S. Asciak, L. Wright, I. Pritchard
Eastern: S. Gibbs, L. McClelland, R. Hall, J. Grace, O. Meagher, M. Edwards

It was a close start but in the end, it was the Eastern Ranges who pulled away in the third term kicking three goals to the Jets one point. The Ranges seemed to look more composed with ball in hand and hit up targets across the field, while the Jets had moments of brilliance but they were unable to sustain a four-quarter performance. Elisabeth Georgostathis impressed once again for the Jets but was down on her usual standards. Teammates Ruby Tripodi and Stephanie Asciak were dominant with their timely touches and smooth movement across the ground. While for the Ranges Laura McClelland proved to be hard to stop both in front of goals and across the ground. McClelland nailed two majors while teammate Serena Gibbs also chimed in with two majors to her name. Olivia Meagher also impressed for the Ranges going in hard at the contest and putting her body on the line more than once throughout the game.

GWV REBELS 0.2 | 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.5 (5)
GEELONG FALCONS 0.4 | 1.9 | 3.15 | 4.17 (41)

By: Cameron Ross

GOALS:

GWV: Nil.
Geelong: M. Skinner 2, P. Schaap, D. Moloney.

BEST:

GWV: M. Caris, S. Molan, C. Leonard, N. Butler, E. Friend, A. Stevens
Geelong: L. Lesosky-Hay, L. McEvoy, A. Chapman, E. Vella, D. Smith, M. Skinner

Geelong Falcons took another scalp on their journey towards back-to-back Premierships, defeating the GWV Rebels at City Oval in Ballarat on Saturday. In cold and wet conditions, the Rebels took it up to the Falcons who had the wind in the first quarter. Neither side could kick a goal in the first quarter, and the Rebels took a surprising one-point lead into the first break. The second quarter was wildly frustrating for the Falcons girls, as they simply couldn’t convert on a plethora of opportunities. The Falcons missed five opportunities that should have been kicked, including a magical piece of play from Lucy McEvoy where she turned her opponent inside out, and hit the post from point blank range. At half-time, the Falcons had kicked 1.9 and the Rebels were still in the game. Falcons coach Jason Armistead was fantastic at half-time, reminding the Falcons girls that the game was a four quarter game, and used a finance analogy that “interest accumulates” and to continue to invest in the team and that they will be rewarded like millionaires. Armistead was right, and the Falcons girls looked like millionaires in the third term, absolutely dominating the game. The Falcons did not allow the Rebels one inside 50 in the third term. Rebels coach Rhys Cahir tried desperately to spark his young Rebels into action in the final term, urging them that “team football is your way back into this game”. Captain Sophie Molan did what all good captains should do, putting into action the coaches demands with an outstanding chase down tackle at the start of the final term. Unfortunately, for the Rebels, the Falcons were far too good, and when Mia Skinner kicked a nice goal off a turnover in the third minute, the game was all but over. The Falcons winners by 36 points, 4.17.41 to 0.5.5. Despite his side not kicking a goal, Cahir stated that it was the best four quarter performance for effort he has seen this season from his side. “They just won some cleaner footy, and when the scoreboard pressure came, we struggled to get back into it,” he said. The Rebels will hope to bounce back next week against the Western Jets, while the Falcons look to maintain their impressive form against the Stingrays.

GIPPSLAND POWER 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 4.2 (26)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 1.4 | 3.11 | 5.12 | 6.12 (48)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Gippsland: C. Turner, J. Chila, M. Fitzsimon, M. Gilmour.
Dandenong: G. Howes 2, C. Bell, T. Smith, L. Grocock, S. Stratton.

BEST:

Gippsland: M. Fitzsimon, M. Shaw, S. Beaton, H. Andrews, C. Abrahams , C. Turner
Dandenong: A. Carroll, B. Vernon, G. Howes, Z. Hill, T. Smith, L. Grocock

Dandenong Stingrays made it three consecutive wins after seeing off a late Gippsland Power challenge to record a 22-point victory at Morwell Recreation Reserve. In challenging conditions, Georgia Howes kicked the first two goals of the game, before Shaneece Stratton made it three and the Stingrays were off and away. Jaime Chila pulled the margin back with her first goal for the Power, but a couple more majors in the third term to Caitlin Bell and Lucy Grocock saw the margin out to 35 points by the final break. When Tyanna Smith converted in the third minute of the final term, the Stingrays led by 41 points. To the Power’s credit, they never stopped fighting and made the margin respectable thanks to goals from Macie Gilmour, Chloe Turner and Megan Fitzsimon. The Stingrays were terrific throughout, with Amie Carroll named their best, while Brooke Vernon‘s phenomenal season continued with a strong performance in defence. Full-back Zoe Hill and bottom-age midfielder Tyanna Smith were again named in the best, while Isabella Shannon had a team-high 17 disposals. For the Power, Fitzsimon backed up her effort last week with an even better performance on Saturday, collecting 26 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six inside 50s, five rebounds and a goal. Captain Maddison Shaw was again impressive in defence with six rebounds to go with 17 disposals, while Chandra Abrahams also stood tall in the win.

CALDER CANNONS 0.0 | 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.4 (34)
OAKLEIGH CHARGERS 2.1 | 4.1 | 6.2 | 7.2 (44)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Calder: T. Gillard 2, A. Magri, F. Theodore, G. Elarmaly.
Oakleigh: E. Harley 2, T. Morton, A. van Oosterwijck, M. Bertuna, G. Lagioia, K. Kearns.

BEST:

Calder: E. Yassir, A. Barba, K. Lennox, M. McLeod, T. Gillard, T. Fry
Oakleigh: A. van Oosterwijck, E. Harley, J. Lin, N. Xenos, K. Kearns, D. Lloyd

Oakleigh Chargers handed Calder Cannons their first defeat of the season, with a strong 10-point victory in wet conditions up at RAMS Arena. The Cannons came into the match without dropping any points thus far this season, but Oakleigh looked prepared from the first bounce, holding the Cannons scoreless in the opening term, and by the 13th minute, led 4.1 (25) to 0.1 (1) and it was beginning to look like a one-sided contest. Emily Harley had already converted two goals and looked the dominant goalkicker on the ground. Gloria Elarmaly finally got the Cannons on the board and when Alisa Magri converted early in the third term, the margin was back to 11 points. The Chargers booted the next two goals of the game to give themselves some breathing space before Tahlia Gillard found the big sticks with 21 seconds remaining in the term to give the home side some hope heading into the final break. Just 96 seconds into the final term, Gillard made it two consecutive goals and when Felicity Theodore added another at the six and a half minute mark, the deficit was just six points and it looked like all the momentum was with the Cannons. Amelia Van Oosterwijck settled for the Cannons to five them a two-goal buffer, as a couple of missed opportunities late for Calder meant the Cannons fell short of a fourth consecutive victory. Gemma Lagioia had a team-high 21 disposals and a goal, while Van Oosterwijck was named Oakleigh’s best for her pressure work and match-winning goal. Harley’s attack up forward to set the game up with two majors as well as 14 disposals and five marks was solid, while Mimi Hill and Nicola Xenos both had 17 touches in continued good form. For the Cannons, Emelia Yassir had a team-high 14 disposals and was named in the Cannons’ best, while Alana Barba and Kasey Lennox were also among their side’s top players in the loss.

U18 Girls season preview: Calder Cannons

NEW Calder Cannons Female Talent Manager, Russell Humphrey is buoyant about the future of the Cannons after a strong pre-season with plenty of standouts. After taking out the inaugural 2017 premiership with future AFL Women’s young guns, Chloe Molloy, Monique Conti and Sarah Dargan on the list, the Cannons had a lot of bottom-agers in 2018, winning only the two games but getting better with every match. Now with another season under their belts, the Cannons are expected to improve again and with plenty of Under 16s forcing their way into the line-up, the next few years are looking good for the Craigieburn-based side.

Humphrey said while new to the role, he was a familiar face around the club, having worked with the premiership-winning girls side in 2017, before assisting the boys last season.

“I was involved in the year before so 2017 when I coached the forward line, and then last year I was moved into a different role with the boys,” Humphrey said. “From afar obviously last season wasn’t as good as the year before. “I think we noticed and we’ve have rectified it with the shape of our bodies so you’ll notice this year hopefully. We’re a different shape; we’re a little bit taller, a little bit more athletic – the competition became like that.”

Humphrey said looking at the practice game against Western Jets, and the clash between Northern Knights and Sandringham Dragons, he felt the Cannons were in a good position.

“We had some games here on Sunday and I noticed we’re a lot closer to the other sides this year than we were last year, so we’re hoping that will help us get some results going our way. “Not that it’s a result-driven competition or things like that, but when you’re playing well that’s when you get a chance to get someone drafted. “The deeper we go in the season, if we can finish in the top four, and no doubt every other club is thinking the same thing, you give your players more of an opportunity, performing in front of recruiters and list managers and everything else that goes with it. “I think we’ll improve.”

This year, Madison Prespakis has joined Conti, Molloy and Dargan in the AFL Women’s competition and already showed why she was taken as the first Victorian metropolitan pick.

“She had a great year,” Humphrey said. “She had a good year the year before as well, we always knew she was a talent. “She’s proven that already in the three games she’s played at AFLW. “Much like Monique Conti and Chloe Molloy and even Sarah Dargan this year has really showed her improvement in the AFLW, which I find quite pleasing to see Sarah going so well. “Obviously we would have liked someone else get drafted but that didn’t happen. “Maybe this year we might get a couple, but Madi’s obviously doing the work and the reward is the way she is playing her AFLW footy at the moment which is fantastic. “Especially from our end.”

While the Cannons will be minus Prespakis in 2019, Humphrey hopes the ball magnet has left a legacy with the now top-age group. Humphrey said the Futures squad of Under 16s were already promising signs for the future.

“You hope that the older girls now being in the system for three years. They’ve gone through the system … and hopefully they can lead this next group coming though. I think every club will agree their under 16s are better than what their under 16s were two years ago and probably better than the under 16s were last year. That’s what I’ve found anyway.”

Stepping up into Prespakis’ shoes is never going to be easy, but AFL Women’s Academy member and All-Australian in her bottom-age year, Georgia Patrikios has been the clear standout over the past few years.

“I think that Georgia’s attributes and her willingness to improve over the three years shows her coachability, her understanding of what needs to be done, her skill up-skilling right across the board,” Humphrey said. “It gives her a great opportunity to be in the top five. “I think if it was an open draft she could go one or two. I’m not sure how that’s going to work next year.”

Humphrey said Patrikios has plenty of tricks that will attract AFL Women’s recruiters throughout the year.

“She does a couple of things that are little bit of a ‘wow factor’. She’ll get the ball out and not kick a high ball but kick a flat ball forward to their advantage which I think is how AFLW is going to head. They are going to look for players who can do that, similar to how the men do it. I think Georgia is on the right track for that.”

Having mixed between midfield and forward last year, Humphrey hopes to use Patrikios’ agility and pace as a run-and-carry player to create a “60-metre player”.

“I can see her playing both in the mid but on the wing as well,” Humphrey said. “I think she plays her best footy on the wing so she can use her agility to get out and her leg speed to get out. “I think that one of her major assets is her leg speed. “Being inside sometimes you don’t quite see that. “But on the outside if we can get it out to her quick enough, we know she’s going to carry it 20, we know she can kick it 40, so she becomes automatically a 60m player so if we can do that, for us that is a massive, massive bonus. “We may have missed that a little bit last year because we didn’t get it out as clean as we might have liked to, but hopefully this year we can.”

Other than Patrikios, Humphrey said the Cannons had a few other players to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Krstel Petrevski has got some good attributes,” he said. “She uses the ball well, she can get it … she needs to tidy up below her knees on ground balls, but she’s getting better at it, she just needs to keep improving. “Makeisha Muller is one we got from Gippsland last year who moved into the area. I think she’s draftable, she’s an X-factor player. “She’s worked really hard in the pre-season. “We’ve tracked her with the GPS pretty much the whole pre-season because she wanted that, she wanted to know how hard she was working.

“My smokey from our point of view is Alana Barba who can play in the middle, half-back and can go forward and probably even on the wing. “I see how hard she’s working, her kick’s not elite, but it’s better than okay. “Her leg speed and ability to get out of a pack is probably second to Patrikios at times. She seems to now understand that she’s got to run both ways … I think her playing down back has helped that too.

Felicity Theodore‘s another one who’s got good leg speed. “Her only downside may be her size, but apart from that, she’s in-and-under, she doesn’t get bumped off the ball a lot, she gets it a lot, her kicking needs a little bit more depth. “But having said that, the coaching staff have been working on that at training.”

Humphrey said the coaching staff was pleased with how the girls had prepared for the upcoming season, which begins on March 2 at RAMS Arena. The Cannons face Western Jets, a side they played on the weekend.

“The preparation so far has been pretty good,” Humphrey said. “They’ve bought in what Paul‘s (Tilley, head coach) tried to teach them and what all the coaching staff is trying to teach them, which is three quarters of the battle. “We had a practice match against Western on the weekend, I know they had a few girls out and we played everyone. “The coaching staff were happy with the way we played, so that was a bonus. “We played 18 (players) one quarter, 18 for a half and 18 for the last quarter, so it was a little bit different but we were all a bit closer to our list than what they are, I think they’re another week away and that’s okay.”

One thing to expect is plenty of Futures making their way into the Cannons squad, with Humphrey naming Tahlia Gillard – a 187cm centre half-back – and Georgie Prespakis – sister of Madison but with different attributes – among a host of Under 16s to watch this year.

“When we looked at our list this year, we looked at our under 16 girls as top-age players,” Humphrey said. “What are they going to be like in 2021? “How will they go there as top-age players rather than the now. “I know everyone says it, but you like to think of this Under 16 group we could get two or three drafted again. “Which is a possibility because it will be a bigger pool with other AFL clubs coming in other years.

“Our Under 16 group is a fairly talented group … if I was to have a guess, of the nine or 10 under 16s, eight could play Round 1. “Comfortably play Round 1. “We’re not going to go overboard in it, we’ll be smart about it. “We could quite easily have six under 16s play their first game in under 18 footy in Round 1 and be confident in them doing what they’ve shown at local level.”