Tag: Tamara Smith

2021 VFLW Round 8 preview: Anzac Day rivals lock horns at The Hangar

ANZAC Day matches take centre stage, along with a Friday night blockbuster at Whitten Oval, in what is anticipated to be a fantastic round of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s action for Round 8 of the competition.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Friday, April 23 @ 7:30pm
Whitten Oval

A mammoth win last Sunday afternoon against Darebin saw Western Bulldogs jump from eleventh to eighth on the VFL Women’s table, and draw to within four points of the top six. They will have plenty of percentage to catch up on after some disappointing losses, but the team that currently holds sixth spot is their opponents on Friday night, the Southern Saints. The Saints have a healthy percentage thanks to a similar belting of the Falcons back in Round 5, which had actually snapped a three-game losing streak. They did go down to the unbeaten Magpies last week, so will be seeking to bounce back against the Dogs in this clash. Tara Bohanna is a key player for the Saints, booting eight goals in seven games to be within reach of top spot on the table. Valerie Moreau and Gabbi De Angelis have both slotted four majors, to give the Saints a pretty potent forward line. Alice Burke ran rampant last week with 35 touches, whilst the dangerous Renee Saulitis is another small who can inject pace and class around goals. By comparison, Mary Sandral leads the Dogs’ goalkicking with the four majors, but was injured during the clash against the Falcons, On debut Western Jets’ Jemima Woods slotted three majors, though it is expected she will return for the NAB League Girls’ final clash. Danielle Marshall hit the scoreboard last week, while the return of Nell Morris-Dalton and Eleanor Brown to complement the side was important. Last time they were under lights the Dogs had a shocker against the Magpies, but expect them to be much better here against the Saints in what should be a thrilling contest.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 24 @ 10:00am
ETU Stadium

The top of the table Port Melbourne host Casey Demons in an early Saturday morning clash. The Borough saw off their greatest challenge to-date last week, overcoming Carlton from several goals down to remain undefeated from seven matches. The Demons, led by Imogen Milford who slammed home six majors, were too strong for Hawthorn despite the Hawks’ best efforts at Box Hill. If the Demons can continue that form – with more AFL Women’s players available – expect them to really give the ladder leaders a run for their money. Only Port and Collingwood have scored more than the Demons this season, which makes them a potent attack led by Milford (12 goals), while Niamh McEvoy (five) and Brenna Tarrant (five from Round 1) all damaging. Eliza West is the in-form midfielder, having collected more touches than any other player this season at an average of 22.3 disposals, as well as 4.3 tackles. Being able to hit the scoreboard with four majors makes her a threat forward of centre, and the Borough will need to be aware of that, whether it is the likes of Philippa Peschke or Mel Kuys who might be opposed to her. Sophie Locke is second on the goalkicking charts but has been recovering from injury, whilst Emily Harley (five goals) and Cleo Saxon-Jones (four) have been hitting the scoreboard in less games, while Sabrina Frederick has scored two majors in each of her matches thus far. The Borough should be favourites at home, but the Demons have enough talent to bring in that could worry the ladder leaders.

DAREBIN vs. GEELONG
Saturday, April 24 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Back-to-back home games for Darebin Falcons gives the standalone side a chance to jump off the bottom of the table with a win in this contest. The Falcons knocked off North Melbourne a fortnight ago, but felt the pinch of a Dogs side that recalled a number of AFL Women’s talents in Round 7. They have to find a way to knock off a red-hot Cats outfit that will have similar AFL Women’s numbers to the Dogs last week, with most of those players being able to hit the scoreboard. Geelong has only lost to the top two sides, and has won their past three matches to sit fourth overall, percentage behind Essendon. with Casey Demons not too far behind, the visitors cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly. Olivia Barber is a goal-scoring threat when in the side having kicked six goals in just two games, whilst regulars, Claudia Gunjaca (five), Stephanie Williams (five) and Georgia Clarke (four) can also do damage. Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Carly Remmos will be the future of the AFL Women’s side and are teaming up well through the VFLW midfield, while Tamara Smith leads all-comers with tackles, and Paige Sheppard is one of the most prominent ball-winners in the league. Nicole Callinan is the one to stop for the Falcons, averaging 23 disposals, six marks and 5.5 tackles working hard in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to try and drive her team forward. The Bulldogs premiership player has been a welcome addition to the side, with Sidney Cubasch returning last week and likely to assert herself in the ruck, Samara David impressed around the ground having also kicked the five goals this season, while Stephanie Simpson might not have hit the scoreboard last week against a strong Bulldogs defence, but slotted four the previous week. The Falcons will leapfrog Hawthorn – if the Hawks lose on Sunday – but it will be a very tough ask with Geelong in ripping form and expect the Cats to continue that form in Round 8.

HAWTHORN vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Sunday, April 25 @ 10:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Two of the bottom three clash in what could be one of the closest matches of the round. Hawthorn has been pretty impressive this season and arguably undeserving of eleventh on the ladder. They pushed the Demons last week and can leapfrog the Seagulls here with a win, having averaged more points than their opponents, but also having conceded a lot more as well. Each week Bec Goddard manages to bring in AFL Women’s talent, as Georgia Bevan, Kristy Stratton, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch have all swapped their colours to return to their roots of the brown and gold, or with the ties to Goddard. Whilst not having massive ball-winners, the Hawks have been able to develop some young talent through the list, such as renowned tackler Dominique Carbone, and a plethora of Eastern Ranges players such as Isabelle Khoury, Matilda Hardy and Eloise Chaston. Jesse Williams is the danger up forward, and with Stratton in for her second game in the brown and gold, expect her to be a second prong of attack up there. Williamstown on the other hand do not have a reliable source of goals, though Aimee Whelan and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster have each snagged three majors. A total of 14 players have hit the scoreboard in the 2021 season, including prominent ball-winners Ruby Tripodi and Megan Williamson, while Erin Meade continues to provide great run out of defence, and will hope the Seagulls can propel themselves to their third win. With the extra experience coming into the brown and gold though, the Hawks should get up at home.

ESSENDON vs. COLLINGWOOD
Sunday, April 25 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

The traditional Anzac Day rivals will clash at The Hangar before fans head south to the MCG for the AFL men’s edition, with the VFL Women’s clash to provide just as much intensity between the clubs. A potential finals preview looms with the second placed Pies still unbeaten from seven games, coming up against the third placed Bombers who are 5-2 from their season, and building some great form in the middle of the season. The Bombers have been without their spiritual leader for the last game and a half with Georgia Nanscawen on the sidelines. She averaged 23 disposals and 10.2 tackles in her six games, to be a barometer in the side. Alana Barba and Courtney Ugle have stepped up in her absence, while Frederica Frew (eight goals) and Natalie MacDonald (five) have been important up forward with Mia-Rae Clifford (eight). With the NAB League Girls returning this week, expect the Bombers to be without a couple of key youngsters in Zali Friswell and Kasey Lennox, though Elizabeth Snell and soon-to-be Jemma Finning have just the one game remaining in Pioneers colours. The Magpies have been ticking along nicely and now will be able to heavily rotate their AFL Women’s talent if they choose to do so, with the likes of Bella Smith (eight goals in four games), Amelia Velardo in defence and Abbi Moloney (two in three) among those running around in the side. Imogen Barnett has been the standout VFLW-listed Pie with eight goals in six games, while Caitlin Bunker (16.3 disposals, 6.6 tackles) and Matilda Zander (14.3 disposals, 4.1 tackles) are others who have stood out.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 25 @ 12:00pm
Arden Street

The later Anzac Day clash is between another couple of AFLW-aligned clubs in North Melbourne and Carlton. The Roos have enjoyed playing a string of games at Arden Street this season, and whilst they have only won the two games from seven matches, have been steadfast in developing their VFLW-listed talents rather than pouring in AFLW-listed players just for the points. The Blues have been fairly similar, though they were able to bring in some players in recent weeks such as Maddy Guerin, who has been a cut above at the level, averaging 21.7 disposals, 3.3 marks and 7.0 tackles from her three games. Jennifer Lew has been an impressive VFLW-listed Blue with 18.5 disposals, 5.3 marks and 4.3 tackles, whilst Courtney Jones has slotted eight goals in five games, and Akayla Peterson has been utilised at both ends of the field for five goals in seven games. Throw in Serena Gibbs (three in four) who has been supporting Jorja Borg in the ruck, and the form of Winnie Laing this season, and the Blues have a solid team across the board. North Melbourne on the other hand, have had some really consistent ball-winners, but just not enough consistent games to put together wins. Brooke Brown has been sensational up forward with eight goals in four games, while ex-Sun Alexia Hamilton, and Tasmanian Sarah Skinner have both been enjoying outstanding seasons in the blue and white. Meagan Kiely and Molly Eastman both average 20.4 disposals and more than four tackles per game to share the load with Skinner, while Airlie Runnalls and Katelyn Cox are other consistent ball-winning talents. Carlton arguably have the upper hand after pushing Port Melbourne last week, though the development of the Roos will hold them in good stead for the future.

Milford’s half dozen grabs VFLW goalkicking lead as Smith remains top tackler

IMOGEN Milford‘s six-goal haul during Casey Demons’ win over Hawthorn on the weekend has seen the forward grab top spot on the VFL Women’s goalkicking leaderboard. The 21-year-old tall has slotted 12 goals in her seven games, but really helped chalk up her numbers in 2021 with the half dozen majors in Round 7.

Milford now holds a three-goal lead over Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke who has missed the past couple of games through injury, and then seven players are on eight goals apiece. Among them are the likes of AFL Women’s listed pair Brooke Brown (North Melbourne) and Bella Smith (Collingwood) who have achieved that feat in just four games each.

In terms of ball-winners, Casey Demons Eliza West has taken over in the absence of the injured Georgia Nanscawen, as West averages 22.3 disposals per game. She has picked up 12 more disposals than her nearest rival, Geelong’s Paige Sheppard, with North Melbourne trio, Meagan Kiely, Molly Eastman and Sarah Skinner surrounding Nanscawen to round out the top six disposal winners.

In terms of tackles, Tamara Smith is the only player to reach 80 so far this season, with the Geelong midfielder laying 81 tackles at an average of 11.6 per game. Port’s Courteney Bromage is not far behind with 74, ahead of Williamstown’s Ashlea Melnikas, and Nanscawen – who has a game and a half less than her rivals – in fourth. Sheppard also features inside the top 10, averaging 7.6 tackles per game.

In terms of rucks, Collingwood’s Sarah King has put down 141 hitouts, overtaking Casey’s Maggie Caris (135) who missed a match two games ago. Darebin Falcons’ Sidney Cubasch and Western Bulldogs’ Nicole McMahon have arguably been the two top performing rucks this season, and they faced off on the weekend, with the end result seeing them both finishing the round on 128 hitouts at 21.3 per game.

Darebin’s Samara David holds the lead in terms of marks, taking 32 this season at 4.6 per game, one more than Kiel. Southern Saints’ forward/ruck Tara Bohanna has the 29 marks in season 2021, ahead of Geelong’s Claudia Gunjaca, North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Western Bulldogs’ Simone Ruedin.

In terms of Draft Central (DC) points – the basic AFL Dream Team calculations without free kicks factored in – Bohanna and Kiely are the top players to have played every game, with 72 DC points thus far for the 2021 season. Skinner (66), West (64), Sheppard (64) and Eastman (64) are the others with more than 55 points and have played every game, whilst Nanscawen is up at 68 per game from her five-and-a-half matches. Brenna Tarrant‘s five-goal haul in Round 1 has netted her the highest pure DC point total with 92 from that game, whilst Jess Matin (87) and the returned Nicole Callinan (81) rounding out the top three.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 7

A HEAP of young prospects are now filtering through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 7 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side and a few players make their debuts. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 7

Collingwood maintained its unbeaten streak with a win over the Southern Saints on Saturday morning, with Eastern Ranges standout Olivia Meagher enjoying an extended run in the side. She had 11 disposals, laid three tackles and picked up votes for the Magpies in their seventh win. For the Saints, Gabby De Angelis notched 12 touches, while fellow pathway graduates Amelia Peck and Grace Hodder each found the ball nine times.

Essendon boasted a host of current and former Calder Cannons products in its win over Williamstown, with the young brigade making a real impact. Zali Friswell booted two goals to feature among the Bombers’ votes with Kasey Lennox, as former Cannons Alana Barba (11 disposals) and Grace Dicker (10) also fared well.

Meanwhile, country coup Eloise Ashley-Cooper racked up a team-high 17 disposals, while current Bendigo Pioneers standout Elizabeth Snell laid 10 tackles in the sash. For Williamstown, Ruby Tripodi was again superb as she found the ball 20 times, but could only manage two behinds among them. Megan Williamson had it 16 times, booting a goal and laying nine tackles to feature among the Seagulls’ votes.

Casey and Hawthorn treated fans to a relatively high-scoring spectacle, with the Demons coming out on top and the Hawks continuing to blood exciting youth. The Eastern Ranges representation was high in brown and gold, as Ruby O’Dwyer (12 disposals, four tackles), Isabelle Khoury (11 disposals, seven tackles, one goal), Eloise Chaston (six disposals, five tackles), and Tilly Hardy (five disposals, four tackles) all continue to acclimatise to the level alongside graduate, while Jenna Richardson (eight disposals) also impressed.

Emma Horne was arguably Melbourne’s pick of the NAB League products, notching nine disposals and finishing with four tackles. Versatile tall Bridie Winbanks managed two disposals and eight hitouts, as 19-year-old former Dandenong Stingray, Harmony Thomas also ran out for the Demons.

Geelong’s top four charge rages on, as the Cats kept North Melbourne at bay in Sunday’s opening bout. Paige Sheppard was again terrific in the hoops, racking up 22 disposals to go with seven tackles and four marks. Tamara Smith had it 14 times and got her hands dirty with eight tackles, as current Geelong Falcons guns Annie Lee and Renee Tierney returned to the fold. Ciara Fitzgerald had 10 touches for North, while 20-year-old Tasmanian Camilla Taylor collected seven on debut.

The Western Bulldogs returned to the winners list with an emphatic victory over Darebin Falcons, with a continued injection of youth and AFLW-listed players aiding their cause. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods had a memorable debut with three goals, running out for the first time alongside Stephanie Asciak. GWV’s Lilli Condon celebrated her first win at the level with 11 disposals and five tackles, as Brooke Hards and Molly Denahy Moloney continued their runs in the side. For Darebin, youth product and Calder ruck Peppa Poultney entered the fray with 10 disposals and a couple of marks.

The final game of the round saw Port Melbourne come from behind to edge Carlton on home turf, seeing the Borough remain top of the table. Recently delisted Richmond AFLW tall, Cleo Saxon-Jones finished with 11 kicks among her 12 disposals, as former Carlton utility Bridie Kennedy had 10 touches, and current Oakleigh forward Taylah Morton matched that output, but could not quite snare her maiden goal.

For Carlton, Northern Knights graduate Marnie Jarvis collected 12 touches and laid four tackles, as Amber Micallef had it a handful of times and Murray Bushrangers standout Kate Adams came in for her fifth game – ending with three disposals for the third game running.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 6

A HEAP of young prospects are now filtering through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 6 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

Essendon welcomed a couple of fresh faces to the fold as it trumped fellow standalone side, Hawthorn by 14 points on Saturday morning, The Bombers called upon current Calder Cannons guns Kasey Lennox (defender) and Zali Friswell (midfielder), who enjoyed solid runs in their debuts. They ran out alongside former Cannons Alana Barba and Grace Dicker, the former of whom has established a key role in the team.

Hawthorn also had a NAB League product make her debut, in Eastern prospect Ruby O’Dwyer. She was one of three current Ranges to run out in the brown and gold, with Jess Grace and Isabelle Khoury returning for their second games at the level. Khoury, a likely type up forward, was named among the Hawks’ best players.

The Southern Saints notched their third win of the season, also on Saturday morning, as they defeated Williamstown by 10 points on home turf. Gabby De Angelis booted two goals in the winning effort, while Ruby Tripodi claimed full votes for the Seagulls as she continues her stellar season. Promising forward Tahlia Merrett also returned after nearly a month out.

Despite another heavy loss, the Western Bulldogs continue to present strong opportunities to their young players, headlined this week by Molly Denahy Maloney. The tall was named best afield for the Dogs in their loss to Port Melbourne, while debutant Lilli Condon proved lively at ground level and Nikita Wright returned to the fold. Former Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards fared well in a new role, trialled in defence and matching up on Borough first-gamer, Taylah Morton.

Elsewhere, Bridie Winbanks featured in the votes for Casey as the Demons went down by two points to a Geelong side boasting the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard. Collingwood remains undefeated after keeping Carlton goalless on Sunday, with Olivia Meagher getting an extended run while Amber Micallef and Marnie Jarvis ply their trade in navy blue. Ciara Fitzgerald again found the goals as North Melbourne went down to Darebin, in the Falcons’ first win for the season.

2021 Draft Central’s VFL Women’s Team of the Year: Round 6

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition prepares to restart after the Easter Weekend break, Draft Central, in conjunction with Women’s Australian Football Radio (WARF) has compiled a Team of the Year to date in Round 6. It is an even spread across the board with eight of the 12 competing teams recording two players, and the remaining three sides having the one representative in a realistic, 16-starter and four-bench side.

Ladder leaders Port Melbourne have two players in the side, with ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke named in the forward pocket, and experienced former AFL Women’s player in Mel Kuys in the centre. The other undefeated side in Collingwood just has the one player in there, with forward Imogen Barnett making the team after booting eight goals in the first five games, one less than leader Locke. In between the pair of forwards is Hawthorn’s Jessie Williams who straightens the team up at full-forward, the sole Hawk in the team.

At half-forward, ex-Cannon Alana Barba earned a place in the side with the inside midfielder booting a goal a game in her first five games to book a starting spot on the flank. She was named in the side with fellow midfielder Georgia Nanscawen with the ex-Roo named ruck rover. The other onballer in the side is ex-Geelong Falcon Paige Sheppard, with the rover’s teammate Tamara Smith – another ex-Bushranger – named on the bench. In the ruck is Western Bulldogs’ Nicole McMahon who has been superb all season, whilst teammate Simone Ruedin has been a rock in defence.

Holding up the fort at full-back is Carlton’s Jennifer Lew, who is in the back six with another Blue in Akayla Peterson, who has spent time at both ends, also kicking three goals this season. Ex-Magpie Grace Buchan is in the back pocket but instead for Casey Demons this season, whilst teammate Eliza West is on the interchange. At half-back, Williamstown’s Erin Meade will provide some run for the hypothetical team, whilst centre half-back Meagan Kiely rounds out the defence. The North Melbourne tall is in the side with talented Tasmanian goalkicker Sarah Skinner, with the reigning TSL Women’s league best and fairest winner making an impact at VFL Women’s level.

The last remaining starting player is centre half-forward Tara Bohanna with the Southern Saint able to chop out in the ruck when forward. She should not need to though, with Darebin Falcons’ sole representative in Sidney Cubasch to provide that rotation with McMahon, whilst Bohanna’s Saints’ teammate Hannah Stuart rounds out the interchange. In terms of emergencies and those unluckiest to miss out, it is a trio of defensive players in Southern Saints’ Rebecca Neaves, North Melbourne’s Molly Eastman and Darebin Falcons’ Gena Lawson-Tavan.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S VFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR: ROUND 6

B: Simone Ruedin (WB) – Jennifer Lew (CAR) – Grace Buchan (CD)
HB: Akayla Peterson (CAR) – Meagan Kiely (NM) – Erin Meade (WILL)
C: Mel Kuys (PM)
HF: Alana Barba (ESS) – Tara Bohanna (SS) – Sarah Skinner (NM)
F: Sophie Locke (PM) – Jessie Williams (HAW) – Imogen Barnett (COLL)
R: Nicole McMahon (WB) – Georgia Nanscawen (ESS) – Paige Sheppard (GEE)
INT: Sidney Cubasch (DF) – Tamara Smith (GEE) – Hannah Stuart (SS) – Eliza West (CD)

EMG: Rebecca Neaves (SS) – Molly Eastman (NM) – Gena Lawson-Tavan (DF)

2021 VFLW Round 5 preview: Two top four clashes highlight round

ROUND 5 of the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) will play host to a number of action packed clashes as Collingwood and Port Melbourne look to maintain their undefeated status. The competition is only getting started with sides still trying to finalise their most potent line-ups and looking to solidify their standings in the competition.

Collingwood vs. Casey Demons
Saturday, March 27 @10:00am

The Magpies and Casey Demons are set to lock horns in what is set to be an enthralling contest between the two top four teams. Collingwood are yet to drop a game while the Demons have only lost the one and that was back in Round 2. Since then, Casey have really ironed out the creases and managed to apply a wealth of scoreboard pressure. Playing a similar style to the Pies expect both sides to attack the coalface hard and look to extract the ball quickly to give their forwards the best chance to score.

Maddy Shevlin has been a star for the Pies but is a key out this week while Amelia Velardo and Matilda Zander have plied their trade for the black and white constantly backing up their efforts across the ground. At their spiritual home ground expect the Pies to come out firing and to have their kicking boots on after an inaccurate showing last round. For the Demons, Tahlia Fellows has proven to be a key cog in the side but will also miss this round, while Chantel Emonson and Bridie Winbanks are key inclusions for the Dees.

Southern Saints vs. Darebin Falcons
Saturday, March 27 @10:00am

It has not been a great start for either side, but a win here could really change their outlook for the remainder of the season. Darebin sit winless from four games while the Saints have mustered up just the one win but sit seventh on the ladder. The tussle between the two sides will be tantalising to say the least as they look to claim some type of ascendancy and build the foundation for a strong middle part of the season. Typically low scoring sides it will come down to which side is able to create enough opportunities to push forward and convert.

The defensive unit for the Falcons will have their work cut out for them up but will be glad they are not going up against the likes of livewire Renee Saulitis who managed a major last round despite the loss. Other key figures for the Saints consistent of Alexandra Hynes and Madi Capsalis who both impressed last week and will be looking to bring that same level of heat and intensity. Unable to hit the scoreboard last round, the Falcons will be hoping that Steph Simpson and Sally Lynch can find their kicking boots while Kathleen Roe has proven to be a key ball winner for Darebin.

Western Bulldogs vs. Geelong
Saturday, March 27 @2:00pm

The Western Bulldogs will host Geelong at Whitten Oval on Saturday in search of their second win of the season. The Cats currently hold higher ladder positioning clinching fifth spot, and a win here could see them jump up the ladder while a loss could add to the ever growing midtable logjam.

Geelong fell short last week despite the best efforts of Michelle Fedele who booted two goals and they will once again be hoping for Fidele to steer the ship in front of goal. Both Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard are likely to cause headaches with the young duo able to win their fair share of ball for the Cats. On the other hand the Dogs have a number of key figures that will be eager to get amongst the action such as the senior-listed Bailey Hunt. Captain Riley Christgoergl is another one to keep an eye out for the Dogs as the ever developing Amelia van Oosterwijck and Annabel Strahan.

Carlton vs. Hawthorn
Saturday, March 27 @2:00pm

The Blues are coming off a narrow eight point win last round, while the Hawks suffered their third loss of the season making for an interesting matchup. Carlton will be playing with a wealth of confidence and looking to use their silky ball movement to put Hawthorn on the back foot in the opening stages of the game. A win here for Carlton could push them into the top six and really help them build some ascendancy.

Veteran Meg Hutchins is a lynchpin for the Hawks no matter where she plays but will miss out this week, meaning the midfiel will need support from the likes of Northern Territory product Dominique Carbone, Lauren Szigeti and Catherine Brown if they are any chance to topple the Blues on Saturday afternoon. For Carlton, youngster Winnie Laing only continues to get better with time, learning off the likes of Serena Gibbs, Maddy Guerin and star recruit Akayla Peterson.

Essendon vs. Port Melbourne
Sunday, March 28 @10:30am

Claiming their third straight win last round the Bombers will be riding a wave of momentum but that could quickly come to an end with their clash on Sunday against the undefeated Port Melbourne side. The Borough are full steam ahead, playing with class and conviction meaning Essendon will have their work cut out for them if they are to upset the apple cart and continue their winning ways.

The Bombers have a strong contingent of youngsters across the ground with Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore proving to be a consistent pair able to burrow in and commit to the hard yards. Georgia Nanscawen is a real game changer for Essendon and will be looking to be at her damaging best coming off a stellar Round 4 performance while Mia-Rae Clifford is also an excitement machine for the red and black. The Borough have no shortage of playmakers with Sophie Locke quickly making a name for herself alongside Cleo Saxon-Jones, though will need to make do without Locke this round. Other contributors that the Bombers will have to be wary of are Phoebe Monahan, Emily Harley and Sarah McNamara who has proven handy in front of the big sticks in recent weeks.

North Melbourne vs. Williamstown
Sunday, March 28 @12:00pm

The final game of the round sees North Melbourne take on Williamstown with the latter looking for their third win of the season. It has been a trying campaign for North Melbourne who have only secured the one win so far but will be chomping at the bit to alter that outcome with a victory over their higher placed opponents. Williamstown come into the clash off a solid win against the Doggies, so expect them to use that momentum to apply some early scoreboard pressure.

The Seagulls have a good spread of players capable of stepping up to the plate and plying their trade with Ruby Tripodi one of those key figures. Erin Meade is another consistent figure for Williamstown while Sofi Georgas is coming in off a strong performance last round. For the Kangaroos Brooke Brown is a real livewire able to navigate her way around the goals and most importantly convert those opportunities while Alexia Hamilton and Ciara Fitzgerald are also viable options.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 4

A HEAP of young prospects are set to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition in 2021, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 4 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

The Western Bulldogs have blooded plenty of youth across all levels in 2021 and that was no different on Saturday, though the young pups went down to Williamstown. Former Richmond player Nekaela Butler made her debut in red, white, and blue, joining a strong contingent of NAB League graduates in the side. Nikita Wright booted a goal, while Brooke Hards tackled strongly and former Sandringham pair Molly Denahy Maloney and Margie Purcell also featured.

For Williamstown, Western Jets product Ruby Tripodi continued her promising season with a performance good enough to earn votes, with former Bendigo Pioneers standout Megan Williamson also a key part of the Seagulls’ cause.

Sophie Locke booted three majors as Port Melbourne claimed the scalp of Geelong on Saturday evening, putting her clear atop the VFLW goalkicking charts. Former Carlton-listed utility Bridie Kennedy also got back into action for the Borough in their win. For Geelong, the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard have established their spots among a talented team which should feature in finals.

Casey fielded a strong side in its win over the Southern Saints on Sunday, with Emma Horne among the standout VFLW-listed youngsters to run out. Meanwhile, Gabby De Angelis returned in the red, white and black after missing last week as Grace Hodder continues to feature at the level.

A Carlton squad stacked with AFLW talent trumped North Melbourne for its second-straight win, pushing some young prospects out of the side. On the other hand, North welcomed Jayde Hamilton back to the fold for her second state league outing after NAB League commitments, while former Richmond defender Ciara Fitzgerald was again named in the votes.

Essendon’s mix of experience and youth shone through in the Bombers’ comprehensive 67-point victory over Darebin, marking their third win for the season. Former Calder Cannons teammates Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore both snared two goals in the victory, with Barba also named in the votes alongside Grace Dicker. Murray graduate Eloise Ashley-Cooper was also among the action in red and black.

In the final game of the round, Collingwood held off a pesky Hawthorn unit to win by 15 points and remain undefeated, with Olivia Meagher and Neve O’Connor both taking the field in black and white. Hawthorn had some strong contributions from Chloe O’Malley and Maddi Shaw, with the versatile Lauren Szigeti also in the thick of things.

Image Credit: Peter Bratuskins/Port Melbourne FC

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 3

A HEAP of young prospects are set to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition in 2021, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 3 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

The Western Bulldogs were again littered with former NAB League talent, but the young pups were soundly outdone by a surging Collingwood side on Friday night. On a positive note for the Bulldogs, Margie Purcell came in for her first game and ended as one of three goalkickers alongside former Sandringham teammate, Molly Denahy Maloney.

2020 Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards gave it everything up forward and through midfield, while Nikita Wright continues to establish her spot. For Collingwood, current Eastern Ranges midfielder Olivia Meagher was again amongst the action and booted a goal in the big win, as tall prospect Neve O’Connor got a third game for the season under her belt.

Standalone rivals Essendon and Hawthorn both fielded some promising NAB League graduates, with the Bombers’ batch proving particularly impactful in their win at The Hangar. Debutant and current Bendigo midfielder Elizabeth Snell was named among the votes alongside Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba. The latter’s ex-Calder teammate, Felicity Theodore also popped up with a goal.

In the brown and gold, Lauren Szigeti‘s strong start to the season continued as she was named among her side’s best players for the third time in as many games. She played a key role as Hawthorn’s prime inside midfielder. Jemma Owen, Maddi Shaw, and Chloe O’Malley were among the other graduates to suit up for the Hawks as they suffered a second loss.

Casey enjoyed a big win over North Melbourne on Saturday, aided by some impactful senior-listed stars. Emma Horne and Bridie Winbanks both notched their third appearances for the Demons, contributing to their side’s second win. Former Richmond youngster Ciara Fitzgerald finished as North’s lone goalkicker and earned votes, while Western Jets defender Marli Klaumanns-Moller ran out for her third VFLW outing in blue and white.

Geelong Falcons pair Annie Lee and Renee Tierney earned VFLW berths with the Cats, with the former being recognised among her team’s best players in the low-scoring victory. Tamara Smith was also influential for Geelong, while Paige Sheppard continues to return promising form in the hoops. Amelia Peck and Grace Hodder were again among Southern Saints’ contingent, battling away in the tough conditions.

Sophie Locke took her season goal tally up to six with two majors in Port Melbourne’s win over traditional rival, Williamstown on Saturday. Fellow Murray Bushrangers product, Kate Adams is another promising youngster to have suited up for the Borough, as Williamstown fielded similarly good youth.

The Seagulls had some high-level youngsters afield too, with Ruby Tripodi again a key figure at the coalface, while the dynamic Megan Williamson earned votes alongside talented forward Tahlia Merrett. Geelong Falcons product Zoe Garth also notched her second game after previously turning out in the NAB League in 2021.

Carlton had a couple of up-and-comers make their third-straight appearances on the season as senior-listed talent continues to filter through, with Amber Micallef and Taylah Kolevski contributing in the Blues’ maiden win for 2021.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 3 wrap: Blues get on the board, Pies & Borough stay unbeaten

ROUND 3 of the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season saw Carlton get on the board at the third time of asking, while league frontrunners Collingwood and Port Melbourne kept their perfect records in tact. Elsewhere, Casey, Essendon, and Geelong added wins to their now-positive tallies as the 12-team ladder begins to take shape and upcoming fixtures trickle through. All that, and more in our weekend wrap.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 | 3.0 | 3.0 | 3.0 (18)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 | 4.4 | 5.9 | 10.10 (70)

Collingwood thrived under the Whitten Oval lights on Friday night with a runaway 52-point win over the Western Bulldogs to go 3-0 in 2021. The Magpies should arguably have been further ahead at half time and while some inaccuracy lingered in the third term, they doubled their goal tally in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went scoreless in the second half, amplifying the 10.10 (70) to 3.0 (18) final scoreline.

Senior-listed tall Bella Smith snared her season-best goal tally of three in the black and white, finishing as one of the Magpies’ seven individual goalkickers. State league standout Matilda Zander also found the goals alongside NAB League jet Olivia Meagher, while Sarah Rowe made a successful return from injury and Imogen Barnett continued her good form. Kristy Stratton was another to do so, named best afield for the winners.

Bulldogs fans will be buoyed to see Bailey Hunt return unscathed from her calf injury, as fellow senior-listed players Annabel Strahan and Amelia Van Oosterwijck pushed their cases for senior berths. Vanessa Murphy earned full votes in red, white and blue, while skipper Riley Christgoergl played an important role in defence alongside Louise Bibby.

GOALS:

Bulldogs: M. Purcell, I. Grant, M. Denahy Maloney.
Collingwood: B. Smith 3, M. Zander, K. Colborne-Veel, O. Meagher, K. Stratton, I. Barnett, S. Rowe, E. Jackson.

BEST:

Bulldogs: V. Murphy, N. McMahon, R. Christgoergl, A. Strahan, L. Bibby, K. Neumann Stone
Collingwood: K. Stratton, S. King, B. Smith, I. Barnett, M. Neal, C. Bunker

ESSENDON 2.3 | 6.5 | 7.6 | 8.7 (55)
HAWTHORN 1.1 | 1.4 | 1.7 | 3.9 (27)

A six-goal to one first half was enough to see Essendon home against Hawthorn on Saturday, in an exciting clash between standalone sides. The Hawks finished strongly after finding themselves 35 points down heading into the last break, booting a couple of consolation goals and showing plenty of fighting spirit as they went down 8.7 (55) to 3.9 (27) at The Hangar.

Two of the Bombers’ three multiple goalkickers also featured among the votes, with Mia-Rae Clifford (three goals) and Natalie MacDonald (two) the pair in question. Skipper Georgia Nanscawen found plenty of the ball, while NAB League graduates Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper were also promising in the famous sash. Debutant Elizabeth Snell was another in that category, fresh off her Under 19 exploits.

Catherine Brown won plaudits as Hawthorn’s best player afield, while fellow goalkicker Olivia Flanagan also impressed for the yellow and gold. Northern Territory talent Dominique Carbone was a handy inclusion for the Hawks as another youngster to show her quality, among her side’s best players with the likes of Meg Hutchins, Lauren Szigeti, and Nicole Cormack, who featured for consecutive weeks.

GOALS:

Essendon: M. Clifford 3, N. MacDonald 2, F. Frew 2, F. Theodore.
Hawthorn: C. Bain, O. Flanagan, C. Brown.

BEST:

Essendon: N. MacDonald, E. Ashley-Cooper, E. Snell, A. Morcom, M. Clifford, A. Barba
Hawthorn: C. Brown, N. Cormack, M. Hutchins, K. Dudley, L. Szigeti, D. Carbone

CASEY DEMONS 3.2 | 3.5 | 8.8 | 9.11 (65)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 | 0.5 | 0.5 | 1.6 (12)

Casey came away comprehensive victors over North Melbourne on Saturday afternoon, making better use of its home conditions to put the game to bed by three quarter time. A five-goal blitz after the main break ensured the Demons would return to the winners list, with North having to wait until term four to register a major score, eventually going down 9.11 (65) to 1.6 (12).

Competition for spots among Melbourne’s senior camp will be hot ahead of finals, with AFLW-listed players Niamh McEvoy (three goals) and Chantel Emonson (two) making an impact as they search for recalls. Casey skipper Samantha Johnson was named best afield, while Eliza West again snared a goal to go with some handy votes.

Former Richmond-listed youngster Ciara Fitzgerald continued her scoring form with North Melbourne’s sole major of the game, seeing the Roos mercifully escape going goalless. Meagan Kiely was adjudged her side’s best player for the second week running, with Tasmania Sarah Skinner another to continue her eye-catching form at state league level.

GOALS:

Casey: N. McEvoy 3, C. Emonson 2, I. Milford, H. Thomas, E. West, A. Kirkwood.
North: C. Fitzgerald,

BEST:

Casey: S. Johnson, C. Emonson, N. McEvoy, E. West, C. Conroy, S. Fairchild
North: M. Kiely, K. Greenacre, M. Lawrence, S. Skinner, C. Fitzgerald, K. Price

GEELONG 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

A low-scoring slog amid wet and windy conditions in Geelong saw the home side claim its second win on the trot, as the Cats defeated Southern Saints by eight points at Deakin University. Only three goals were kicked across the four quarters, with the Cats booting theirs in the first and fourth terms, while Southern Saints remained in touch, but were ultimately outdone 2.4 (16) to 1.2 (8) in the scrappy affair.

The constant rotation of Geelong AFLW and NAB League talent did little to disrupt the Cats, with senior-listed youngster Laura Gardiner finding plenty of the ball, as did the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard. Goalkickers Claudia Gunjaca and Michelle Fedele were also influential, as was NAB Leaguer Annie Lee on debut.

Valerie Moreau was the Saints’ sole goalkicker for the day, as the likes of Nadia von Bertouch and Jess Matin put their hands up for senior selection by picking up a good amount of the pill. VFLW-listed players Tara Bohanna and Hannah Stuart were among Southern’s best players for the third week running, while Alison Brown also earned votes in her first outing.

GOALS:

Geelong: M. Fedele, C. Gunjaca.
Saints: V. Moreau.

BEST:

Geelong: M. Maguire, T. Smith, O. Fuller, C. Gunjaca, M. Fedele, A. Lee
Saints: N. von Bertouch, A. Hynes, T. Bohanna, H. Stuart, A. Brown, K. Ripari

PORT MELBOURNE 2.3 | 5.6 | 6.9 | 6.9 (45)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 | 3.1 (19)

Port Melbourne and Williamstown met for a historic clash of traditional Victorian rivals, with the Borough proving too strong and saluting to the tune of 26 points at ETU Stadium. Having led from the first goal, the home side was able to maintain its ascendancy throughout and held firm in a scoreless final term to run out 6.9 (45) to 3.1 (19) victors.

A pair of Borough players accounted for two thirds of their side’s major scores, with Sarah McNamara and Sophie Locke the players in question. Locke’s exploits come after last week’s three-goal effort. Ellie McDonald and Melissa Kuys were again among Port’s best, along with Richmond-listed talents Phoebe Monahan, Emily Harley, and Luka Lesosky-Hay.

Gabby Biedenweg-Webster was Williamstown’s sole multiple goalkicker with a pair of her own, named in the Seagulls’ best behind Aimee Whelan. Young forward Tahlia Merrett also hit the scoreboard and made her mark, while Ruby Tripodi was impactful at the coalface and Erin Meade again led well for the standalone unit.

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. McNamara 2, S. Locke 2, C. Saxon-Jones, H. Bailey.
Williamstown: G. Biedenweg-Webster 2, T. Merrett.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: E. Macdonald, M. Kuys, P. Peschke, P. Monahan, L. Lesosky-Hay, E. Harley
Williamstown: A. Whelan, G. Biedenweg-Webster, E. Meade, A. Melnikas, T. Merrett, M. Williamson

CARLTON 2.3 | 2.6 | 3.8 | 3.9 (27)
DAREBIN 0.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.2 (20)

Carlton came out on top in Saturday’s bottom of the table clash, overcoming Darebin by seven points to pick up its first win of the season. The Blues caught an early break but were pegged back well, before again advancing and being forced to defend their lead late. Inaccuracy did not prove costly for the home side at Princes Park, as they held on to win 3.9 (27) to 3.2 (20) in a low-scoring affair.

Jen Lew was again one to lead the way for Carlton as she worked hard all day, while Jorja Borg and goalkicker Akayla Peterson earned votes for their efforts. Speedy midfielder Teresa Zampaglione was again lively, while AFLW-listed youngster Winnie Laing was productive upon her return along with Jess Edwards and Charlotte Hammans.

For the Falcons, the ever-reliable Kathleen Roe stood up in her side’s third loss for the year, but it was Lucy Schneider who claimed full credit in the form of votes ahead of goalkickers Steph Simpson and Sally Lynch. Darebin’s search for win number one will continue next week as it takes on Essendon at The Hangar.

GOALS:

Carlton: P. Trudgeon, A. Peterson, C. Jones.
Darebin: S. Lynch, S. David, S. Simpson.

BEST:

Carlton: J. Borg, A. Peterson, B. Gurr, M. Wilson, T. Zampaglione, J. Lew
Darebin: L. Schneider, V. Blackwood, L. Camilleri, S. Simpson, S. Lynch, S. Cubasch

2021 VFLW season preview: Geelong

GEELONG is not overcomplicating things when it comes to attacking the 2021 VFLW season, according to new head coach, Andrew Bruce. Taking the reigns after being appointed as assistant in 2020, Bruce says his side has worked hard to keep in shape and will try to bring an attacking brand of football to the upcoming campaign.

“We’ve had a really good preseason,” Bruce said. “Obviously most of the girls had most of the year off last year but came back in really good shape and they’ve worked really hard through the preseason. Our skill level has certainly jumped up from the start to where we are now, so we’re really comfortable with where they are.”

“We want to be nice and hard at the football and use it as best we can. It’s very much an attacking style of play where we give ourselves the best opportunity to score. We’re not overcomplicating it at all, we want the players to continue to develop in what they’re doing but also to attack the game as much as they can and try and get some good pressure on the opposition.”

“It’s a good brand of footy where the girls are really confident in what they’re doing and we’re defending really well, so we’ve kind of got both aspects of the game going okay at the moment.”

Having effectively lost a year of competitive football in 2020, the Cats are no different to many other teams in that they will enter this season with a fresh-looking list, “significantly” so in the words of Bruce. He says Geelong will field a group of mixed ages and experience levels throughout the season, with aligned AFLW and NAB League players also set to roll through the squad.

“There’s been a significant change in personnel in the playing list,” he said. “There’s still probably half-a-dozen players who have been around for a bit of time and are quite experienced.”

“Michelle Fedele, who has been with the VFLW group pretty much since it started at Geelong, she’s missed a couple of years with an ankle injury but she’s come back fully fit and is going really well, so it’s exciting to see her play.

“Jamie Woollett has also stayed around and with her experience will be really important for us – Rebecca Pearce is the same. Then we’ve got some newer players; Claudia Gunjaca, who’s originally from Geelong but the last few years has been studying up in New South Wales and played in their state league. She’s come back this year and has been absolutely fantastic for the group – can play at both ends of the ground, is a really strong mark and her leadership is fantastic.”

“We’ve got a couple of younger girls as well. Tamara Smith, who was originally out of the Murray Bushrangers and Paige Sheppard, who was going to have the year off last year anyway, but has come back to footy and has done really well. We’ve got a player who’s crossed from Germany, she was playing in the AFLW Europe League. She’s come across to try her luck here, has settled in really well with the girls and is a very good player.”

“We’ve had a few (NAB League) girls come train with us through preseason. Renee Tierney and Ava McKeegan from Geelong, Chloe Leonard from Greater Western Victoria (GWV), she’s their captain this year. We expect them to play with us at various times through the year and probably a couple of other girls as well like Tess Craven or Annie Lee from Geelong.”

“It’s really exciting for those girls, obviously playing at that high standard in their age group through the NAB League and then also getting the opportunity at different times to play in the VFLW will be fantastic for their development.”

Along with the perks of strong talent pathways, the Cats will also benefit from a green AFLW side in the same region. Brimming with young talent, five to six players from the Geelong AFLW squad will play in the state league each week should they miss out on senior selection. Bruce says the alignment has been “great” for both parties.

“Obviously with COVID restrictions there were restrictions on how many train-on players they could have from the VFLW into AFLW, however a few of the girls did get to do that for a few weeks and they came back saying how great it was, the inclusiveness of it,” he said.

“Without doubt, their training standards picked up from that point, obviously being around some more experienced players and seeing how they go about their business has really had a positive impact on the way our players do that. With the alignment, we have five to six AFLW players (depending on injuries) come back to our games.”

“Again, it’s fantastic for those players to play footy rather than having to sit out when they’re not selected, but also just to assist with the development of our players throughout the matches with direction and different advice that they can give. Both groups are a fantastic bunch of girls and they all get along really well.”

Another area which has gone relatively smoothly thus far is the injury front. Pearce (hip) and a couple of players rehabbing ACL tears are just about the only injury concerns for Geelong ahead of Round 1, with the fitness of the players also up to scratch. The Cats will face off against Collingwood on Saturday afternoon and while Bruce expects stiff opposition, he says it will be difficult to gauge how each side stacks up until competition commences.

The Cats will announce their leadership group at tomorrow night’s jumper presentation, and promise to be raring to go after showing marked improvement in their second practice game, against Hawthorn. Bruce says his troops are simply “excited to have footy back.”

“Everyone’s missed out on so much over the past 12 months,” he said. “To get some positivity through sport is fantastic for everyone; whether it be the players, staff or their supporters. It’s all really good and we’re all just very excited to get back amongst it.”

Image Credit: Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens