Tag: vfl

State leagues wrap: Victorian footy returns as TSL produced trio of beltings

WHILST South Australia took another week off from its state league action, most of the other major state leagues took place, with the Victorian Football League (VFL) joining the respective leagues in Tasmania and Western Australia. Though it was not without some controversy, with a snap lockdown in south east Queensland impacting the QAFL, and even calling off one VFL game based in the state at quarter time.

New South Wales/Queensland/Victoria (VFL):

It was a fitting return to action in the VFL for the 2021 season, with two games postponed and a third also called off after just one quarter of action. Gold Coast Suns were leading Southport Sharks 1.2 (8) to 1.0 (6) when the players were told to stop due to the state lockdown, while Aspley’s clash with Essendon, and Brisbane Lions’ match with Sydney Swans were also put on the back burner. It was ironically the complete opposite of the previous week when only Queensland games could be played and Victorian matches were postponed.

Of those games underway, it was hard to go past the thriller that was Coburg and Williamstown at Piranha Park on Sunday. In what was an entertaining contest, a six goals to one third term in favour of the Seagulls had the visitors up by 24 points at the final break, and seemingly home. Coburg had other ideas, as the Lions roared home to kick the next six goals and hit the front to lead by nine points with 10 minutes remaining. The Seagulls dug deep and kicked the last two goals of the game – after only kicking one behind in the first 18 minutes of the quarter – to steal the lead in a memorable last quarter. Mitch Hibberd continued his terrific form with another 35 disposals, nine more than any other player on the field. Nick Mellington (26 disposals and a goal) and Teia Miles (25 disposals and seven marks) were also lively, while ex-Bomber Noah Gown kicked 2.1 from 16 disposals and six marks in a promising display, one of four Seagulls to kick multiple goals. For the Lions, Charlie Thompson kicked 2.2 from 20 touches and three marks, as some former Northern Knights dominated the disposals. Marcus Lentini (25 disposals), Luke Bunker (24) and Tom McKenzie (23) all had some big days out.

Most of the other games were fairly big wins to the victors, with four of the remaining six games decided by 30 points or more. North Melbourne’s recent form continued with a 17-point win over last placed Port Melbourne, getting up 11.11 (77) to 8.12 (60). Harry Jones racked up 31 disposals and kicked a goal, as Charlie Lazzaro (26 disposals, five tackles and a goal) did his chances of a recall no harm. Chris Jansen (31 disposals, six marks and four tackles) and the ever-reliable Eli Templeton (30 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and 2.2) suffered leather poisoning as the Borough came close to a second win, but not quite close enough. Richmond also posted a 16-point victory over Frankston as the Dolphins form of late continues to slide after their fast start to the season. Patrick Naish had a game-high 32 disposals, as well as five marks, six tackles and a goal, with Derek Eggmolesse-Smith (29 disposals, five marks), Riley Collier-Dawkins (26 disposals, three tackles) and Will Martyn (26 disposals, nine marks and five tackles) all letting the Tigers’ selection committee know they are ready to step up. Nathan Freeman (31 disposals, nine marks) and Josh Newman (30 disposals, six marks and eight tackles) were again the best for the Bayside team.

In other results, the Western Bulldogs just somehow found a way to win, conceding six goals to zero in the opening quarter against Casey Demons, to kick 16 of the next 20 majors and storm to a 37-point win to remain undefeated in the 2021 season. Rhylee West (27 disposals, nine tackles and three goals) and Ben Cavarra (21 disposals, six tackles and three goals) both dominated, while Dees’ veteran Nathan Jones kicked 1.3 from 29 disposals, four marks and four tackles. In a similar comeback, Box Hill Hawks were held goalless in the opening term against a red-hot Collingwood outfit, and after hitting the front to lead by seven points at the final break, Box Hill piled on 9.2 to 0.0 to run away with an eye-opening 63-point win and remain in the top four. Fergus Greene, Emerson Jeka and Jackson Callow all combined for 11.6 and 19 marks, while Tom Wilson tried hard for the Magpies with 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal.

Meanwhile Carlton leapfrogged Sandringham with its fourth win of the season, defeating the Zebras by 39 points at Sandringham, as James Parsons and Sam Petrevski-Seton lit it up with 30 touches each, and Lachie Fogarty laid 12 tackles to go with 27 disposals and six marks, though three behinds, Jack Bytel (28 disposals, seven marks and 11 tackles) was the best for the Zebras. In the other match, Werribee took home the points on the road against Northern Bullants, with an 8.5 to 1.1 final term to reverse a 16-point deficit at the final break to turn it into a five-goal victory. Tom Gribble (36 disposals, six marks and nine tackles) and Matt Hanson (32 disposals, three marks, five tackles and a goal) were lively as Hudson Garoni booted 3.6 from 19 touches and 10 marks up forward for the winners. Will Mitchell had 31 touches and eight tackles for the Bullants, with eight more touches than any other teammate, while Paul Ahern slotted 4.1.

Tasmania (TSL):

There was nothing close about the Tasmania State League (TSL) action in Round 18, as the three winners completely dismantled their opposition. With the sides missing a number of their young up-and-comers due to the Tasmania Devils Under 19s and Under 17s exhibition clash on Sunday, it was up to the more experienced players to get it done. Third placed Clarence had the bye, but the other top four sides – Launceston, North Launceston and Tigers – showed no mercy in their victories, combining for a mind-boggling 275 points.

The “close” game of the weekend was the Battle of the Bombers, with North Launceston triumphing 18.7 (125) to 6.5 (41). In what was a fairly comprehensive first three quarters, the home side led by 31 points at the main break, having missed their chances in the third, before piling on a whopping 10.5 to 2.0 in the last quarter to run away with the 64-point victory. Brad Cox-Goodyer slammed home five majors, with Zach Burt and Jack Avent slotting three goals apiece, while Jay Foon and Judah Edmunds were also named among the best. Allen Christensen was the sole multiple goalkicker for Lauderdale, working hard all game, as Josh McGuinness and Luke Paton were also named among the best.

In a top-against-bottom clash with Launceston heading in 13-1 and North Hobart 1-13, it was never expected to be much of a contest, but few could have predicted the 121-point shellacking that the Blues handed out. Keeping the Demons to just one goal in the first three quarters – whilst booting 18 majors from 32 scoring shots – Launceston led by 114 points, though to North Hobart’s credit the Demons rallied in the last to only concede three more goals and kick two themselves for a 21.18 (144) to 3.5 (23) final scoreline. Jake Hinds kicked five goals in a best on ground performance, but what made the game so unique was the fact that the Blues only had four multiple goal kickers, and 14 individual goalkickers. Alex Wright, Cody Thorp and Fletcher Seymour were deemed the best in a strong performance. Jack McCulloch and Bailey Walker were the best for the Demons in a performance they would rather forget.

The game predicted to be the closest of the round turned into a fizzer, as fourth placed Tigers trounced sixth placed Glenorchy at Twin Ovals to the tune of 90 points. The Kingborough-based outfit piled on 12 goals to four in the first half, and then 11 goals to four in the second half, to fall short of bringing up the ton. Will Campbell and Max Collidge both slotted four goals apiece to be among the best on the ground, with Marcus Gardner (one goal) and ex-Carlton player Sam Duigan (three) also lively. Callen Daly (three goals) and Brayden Webb (two) were the multiple goalkickers for the Magpies, with Harrison Gunther (one) named best-on in the losing side.

Western Australia (WAFL):

In Western Australia, Subiaco took full advantage of a Claremont loss to go outright top on the WAFL ladder, as West Coast grabbed its fourth win of the season with victory in the bottom two clash against Perth, and East Perth leapfrogged Peel Thunder with the unlikely win over the Tigers in Round 17 of the League competition.

East Perth’s seven-point upset over Claremont was the biggest result of the round, as they nervously held on in the lat term after leading by 15 points at the final break, to record a 12.6 (78) to 10.11 (71) victory. Jackson Ramsay had 31 disposals, eight tackles and two goals, and the Royals player was only bettered by Claremont ball magnet Jye Bolton (41 disposals, five marks, eight inside 50s and three tackles). Former Carlton talents Rohan Kerr (22 disposals, eight marks and one goal) and Angus Schumacher (26 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) were lively for the Royals, as Bailey Rogers (29 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two goals) and Ben Edwards (27 disposals, four tackles, seven inside 50s and one goal) were important for the Tigers.

West Perth put up a fight against ladder leaders Subiaco, but conceded six gaols to two in the opening half to trailed by 30 points at half-time. They tried to fight back in the second half, but ultimately could not get over the line, going down by 20 points, 10.12 (72) to 8.4 (52). Greg Clark had a team-high 29 disposals for the Lions, as Harrison Marsh (28 disposals, seven mars, five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal) was busy, as was Nick Martin (21 disposals, 10 marks, three inside 50s and two goals). Shane Nelson tried to haul his team across the line with a match-high 34 disposals, as well as four marks and seven tackles, as former Roo and Cat, Aaron Black had 26 touches, four marks and seven tackles.

Meanwhile other top three side South Fremantle showed no mercy in a dominant 116-point thrashing of Peel Thunder. The Bulldogs slammed home a ridiculous 13.2 to 1.2 in the first half to lead by 72 points at the main break. They still managed nine goals after half-time, getting up 22.9 (141) to 3.7 (25). Haiden Schloithe (42 disposals, seven marks, seven inside 50s, three tackles and two goals) unsurprisingly led the way for the Bulldogs, as Jacob Dragovich and Tom Blechynden both had 30 touches. Ex-AFL talents Mason Shaw and Blake Schlensog shared in five goals apiece, as well as 30 disposals and 17 marks. Tyrone Thorne was one of the shining lights for Peel Thunder, picking up 25 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s and a goal.

In the remaining two games, East Fremantle won a low-scoring slot against Swan Districts to the tune of seven points, while West Coast dominated Perth by 56 points in a rare big victory for the AFL-aligned club. The Sharks kept their finals hopes alive with the win over the fifth placed Swans, moving to within 12 points of finals, but not able to make a mistake on the run home. Luke English (25 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Luke Strnadica (19 disposals, seven marks, 39 hitouts and three inside 50s) were impressive for the Sharks. Sam Fisher (27 disposals, three marks, seven inside 50s and a goal) and Jesse Turner (26 disposals, four marks, four tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) topped the charts for the Swans. Alex Witherden (40 disposals, 11 marks and seven inside 50s) suffered leather poisoning in the Eagles big win, with Jarrod Brander (33 disposals, 13 marks, two tackles and thee inside 50s) also putting his hand up for a recall. Jack Avery (26 disposals, 11 marks and three tackles) was the top disposal winner for the Bombers.

Picture credit: AFL Photos

State Leagues wrap: COVID chaos and big boilovers

WHILE Victoria has descended into COVID chaos once more, state leagues rolled on in South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia with a bunch of intriguing results produced. While it was largely business as usual in the SANFL, there was a major boilover in the TSL, while the WAFL top five is firming as three teams continue to battle for top spot. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

South Australia (SANFL):

While Round 16 proceedings are currently under a COVID cloud, Round 15 went ahead without a hitch in the SANFL. There were two clashes between top five teams this past weekend, as ladder position counted for plenty with every higher-ranked side picking up full points across the five-game round.

At the top of the tree, Glenelg extended its perfect run to 14 games with an 18-point win over South Adelaide, who have now in lost three of their last four outings. A three-goal to nil opening term proved the difference, as the Bays put away another finals candidate. Matthew Snook (29 disposals, one goal), Luke Partington (26 and one), and Chris Curran (24 and one) were all prominent in yellow and black, while Bryce Gibbs managed 27 touches, 14 tackles and a goal in his 50th League match, fittingly against his old side.

Saturday’s other top five clash saw reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens power past Norwood, winning by 36 points on the back of a second half surge. The Eagles piled on nine of the last 10 goals after trailing at the main break, flexing their muscle forward of centre. James Tsitas and Mitch Grigg led the disposal count for either side with 29 touches apiece, while Tyson Stengle‘s two goals at the end of term three helped the Eagles push ahead.

Port Adelaide and Sturt remain in the hunt for finals after respective wins against the bottom two sides, though both came by a mere 13 points. The Magpies did enough to get past a plucky West Adelaide on Sunday, remaining one game out of the top five, while the Double Blues bettered Central District in a low-scoring slog to sit two games off the pace. North Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, downing Adelaide by 54 points to strengthen its standing in third.

Tasmania (TSL):

Clarence has shaken up the TSL top four frame, defeating North Launceston by two points in a major boilover. The Roos led by a single point at half time and after extending the margin to eight come the final break, were made to reclaim the ascendancy via Colin Garland‘s boot at the death.

The result sees Clarence close to within a game of its weekend rival, as the Northern Bombers suffer rare consecutive losses in what was meant to be a celebration for player-coach Brad Cox-Goodyer‘s 200th game.

Brandon Leary booted four goals for the victors in a losing effort for the Northern Bombers, while Garland finished with three and James Holmes was named best afield.

Meanwhile, league leader Launceston escaped a similar scare against Tigers, snaring three goals to nil in the final term to sneak home by 13 points. The Blues trailed at every break after the hosts got the jump, but clawed their way back and pounced at the ideal time.

Fletcher Seymour and Cody Thorp (two goals) were among the victors’ best, while Luke Graham booted a game-high three majors for Tigers as Zach Adams claimed full votes.

In the weekend’s sole non-top four clash, Lauderdale powered past Glenorchy on the back of a 13-goal second half, saluting to the tune of 81 points. Leading a brigade of nine individual goalkickers for the Bombers was Edward Stanley (five), while Tyler Martin (four) and Allen Christensen (three) compounded their side’s scoreboard dominance.

Western Australia (WAFL):

East Perth inflicted the sole ladder change after Round 15 of the WAFL League season, jumping Perth in eight after its nine-point road win over the Demons. Former Carlton-listed pair Rohan Kerr (41 disposals, 10 marks) and Angus Schumacher (33 disposals, two goals) were prominent for the Royals, who held off Perth’s final term surge after leading by an even five goals at three quarter time.

A three-way tie for points from first to third remains after Claremont, Subiaco, and South Fremantle all claimed their ninth wins for the season. Subiaco still leads the way on percentage having defeated West Coast by 20 points, with 10 of the Lions 12 goals coming at one end of Leederville Oval.

Claremont isn’t far behind after downing Peel Thunder by nine points on Sunday, while South Fremantle’s 36-point win over Swan Districts proved a definitive result between finals contenders. Fremantle Next Generation Academy (NGA) prospect Jesse Motlop debut for the Bulldogs, booting two goals from 13 touches.

West Perth came away as the round’s other winner after scraping past East Fremantle by five points, overcoming a half time deficit and near-costly inaccuracy to remain clean in fourth. The Falcons were served typically well by Aaron Black (38 disposals, nine marks), as Tyler Keitel and Lachlan Bailey booted four goals for their respective sides.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

Victoria’s recently-extended five-day lockdown saw Round 14 of the VFL scrapped, with the competition currently running on a week-by-week scheduling basis. Victorian teams which travelled to Queensland also had their official fixtures cancelled, though Essendon and North Melbourne combined their reserves to face Brisbane in a scratch match on Saturday. Returning Roos tall Charlie Comben impressed with four goals in that hit-out.

The VFL Women’s finals series has also been impacted, but the VFL says it remains committed to awarding a premier with just the preliminary and grand finals left to play.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton via SANFL

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 13

A BUNCH of the nation’s most promising Under 19 prospects continues to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL), including a raft of top-ups and academy talents. Many have already made their state league debuts, with more to come and a handful sighted this past weekend. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.

>> RESULTS: State leagues wrap

2001-born Sandringham Dragons tall Felix Flockart ran out for his club debut with Port Melbourne on Friday night, notching 10 disposals and 11 hitouts as the Borough went down handily to Frankston. Fellow Dragons product Darby Hipwell continues to turn out for Sandringham Zebras, booting multiple goals for the first time in his VFL career as his side thumped Essendon. Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Jack Hickman was afield for the Bombers, managing four touches.

AFL-aligned clubs from NSW and Queensland again blooded top-up players, with a combined four NAB Leaguers lining up for Gold Coast and Sydney in their respective losses. Tall Dandenong utility Bryce Milford (four disposals) and Geelong Falcons top-ager Lachlan Kidd (five) both lined up for the Suns, while Sam Clohesy (eight disposals, four tackles) and Logan Young (14 disposals, four marks) were drafted into the Swans’ side.

Greater Western Sydney, who downed the Suns, also fielded a handful of academy talents while Sydney gave opportunities to two in its loss to Footscray. Josh Green (16 disposals, six marks), Maximus Monaghan (14 disposals, six tackles) and Harrison Grintell (nine disposals, three inside 50s) were among the Giants’ best youngsters, as Angus Anderson found the goals for the Swans and Pierce Roseby finished with 10 touches.

Bulldogs father-son prospect Ewan Macpherson played his third-straight game in red, white and blue, while Gippsland Power midfielder Chance Doultree also got another run at state league level – his second for the season.

Elsewhere, Brisbane Lions also found room for their academy products, with a quartet of young guns continuing to find their feet. Toby Triffett (14 disposals, five tackles) was solid as his side went down to Southport, while Saxon Crozier and Tahj Abberley each had it 11 times, and Will Tasker contributed five touches.

Western Jets midfielder Harrison White debuted for Werribee in the Tigers’ loss to Casey, while Tasmanian Sam Collins earned a berth with Collingwood and Gippsland Power defender Jess McGrath had his maiden outing for Richmond. Collins’ Oakleigh teammate Lochlan Jennkins reunited with some premiership Chargers in black and white, joined by Eastern Ranges skipper Josh Clarke in the side. Collins was the pick of the bunch, collecting 15 disposals and three marks as the Pies got up by five points against Richmond.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 13

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its 13th round over the weekend, with nine fixtures spread from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 13 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS | State leagues wrap

A bunch of senior-listed youngsters pressed their claims for call-ups in the state league this past weekend, none more so of late than Western Bulldogs midfielder-forward Patrick Lipinski. In the red, white and blue of Footscray, he dished out a round-high 23 handballs to be level with Gold Coast’s Will Brodie. Richmond veteran Josh Caddy had the most disposals overall with 39, while Josh Newman topped the kicking charts (25) in Frankston’s win over Port Melbourne.

Along with Newman, Casey’s Corey Ellison was the only other non AFL-listed player to feature atop his own category this week, after snaring six goals as Casey thumped Werribee. Dominating the airways were Sydney forward Logan McDonald (14 marks) and Collingwood ruck Max Lynch (40), while Richmond midfielder Will Martyn got his hands dirty with a round-high 13 tackles in the Tigers’ loss to the Magpies.

Looking at the overall leaderboard, Coburg ball magnet Marcus Lentini is out in front for disposals and handballs, while fellow standalone standouts Matthew Payne and Matthew Hammelmann (both Aspley) lead the competition for kicks and goals respectively. Emerging Essendon ruck Nick Bryan has also taken over top spot for hitouts, as he searches for another senior berth.

Find the full list of Round 13, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 13 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Josh Caddy* (Richmond) – 39

Kicks:
Josh Newman* (Frankston) – 25

Handballs:
Patrick Lipinski* (Footscray) – 23
Will Brodie* (Gold Coast) – 23

Marks:
Logan McDonald* (Sydney) – 14

Tackles:
Will Martyn* (Richmond) – 13

Hitouts:
Max Lynch* (Collingwood) – 40

Goals:
Corey Ellison (Casey) – 6

* – denotes AFL-listed

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 320 total / 35.6 average

Kicks:
Matthew Payne (Aspley) – 198 / 22.0

Handballs:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 188 / 20.9

Marks:
Colin O’Riordan* (Sydney) – 78 / 9.8

Tackles:
Dom Brew (Werribee) – 82 / 10.3

Hitouts:
Nick Bryan* (Essendon) – 259 / 32.4

Goals:
Matthew Hammelmann (Aspley) – 39 / 4.3

* – denotes AFL-listed

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

State Leagues wrap: Youngsters press claims for senior call-ups

A BUNCH of up-and-coming talents pressed their claims for senior selection across the state leagues this past weekend, with finals time drawing closer in the top tier. The West Australian Football League (WAFL) made its return after a week away due to lockdown, while it was business as usual around the nation with just over a month of home-and-away action left to play out. We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

The Battle of Bell Street headlined Round 13’s action in the VFL, with the Northern Bullants holding on to win by a single point against traditional local rival, Coburg. Players did justice to the resumption of this long-standing rivalry, though the Lions’ last ditch surge was not enough to snatch victory at Piranha Park. Bullants big man Daniel Hughes took home the inaugural Harold Martin Medal as best afield, having finished with 18 disposals and 35 hitouts.

While the Bullants picked up their third-consecutive win, Footscray avoided a major boilover to remain undefeated in 2021, defeating Sydney by seven points on the back of a six-goal final term. The Bulldogs twice trailed by as many as six goals throughout the contest, but did enough to power past the plucky Swans outfit. Patrick Lipinski‘s claims for a recall remain strong after 36 disposals and a goal, while tall Sydney pair Logan McDonald (14 marks, four goals) and Patrick McCartin (27 disposals, 11 marks) dominated the airways.

Collingwood and Geelong remain fixed in the top eight after earning their own closely contested victories, downing 2019 grand finalists Richmond and Williamstown respectively. The Cats lead at every break in their 12-point triumph, while senior-listed midfielder Charlie Constable (30 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continuing his ominous form, while young forwards Jack Ginnivan (four goals) and Noah Cumberland (five) were sensational in the Magpies’ five-point salute on enemy territory.

While Port Melbourne was thumped by 95 points in Frankston on Friday, the Borough’s home deck was used on Saturday to field the clash between Greater Western Sydney (GWS) and Gold Coast. The Giants, who had a handy mix of AFL-listed players and academy products, ran out 40-point winners with Zach Sproule (five goals), Matt De Boer (35 disposals, three goals), and senior skipper Stephen Coniglio (36 disposals, eight tackles) proving a class above.

Casey and Sandringham were the other Victorian sides to register premiership points in Round 13, while Southport returned to the fray with a resounding 109-point romping of Brisbane. The result sees the Sharks sit a win clear in second, still an equal amount of points away from current frontrunner Footscray. The Round 14 fixture has also been announced, with both Sydney teams having the bye while Queensland travel is set to resume for a trio of Victorian clubs.

South Australia (SANFL):

Ladder position counted for plenty in Round 14 of the SANFL, as all of the top five sides registered wins against their bottom five counterparts. The handful of fixtures took part on a super Saturday of state league action, which did little to really shake up the order of things ranking-wise.

Reigning premier Woodville-West Torrens opened proceedings with a 19-point win over the bottom-placed West Adelaide, despite managing just nine goals from 30 scoring shots. Westies tidied up the margin with three final term consolation goals, but the Eagles’ scoring power was all too much in the end. Jack Hayes had a day to remember for the victors, clunking 20 marks (seven contested) and booting two goals, while prolific small forward Tyson Stengle managed 3.4 from eight touches.

Competition frontrunner Glenelg pushed its undefeated streak out to 13 games with a 30-point win over Sturt, kicking away in a five-goal to one third term. Bays spearhead Liam McBean booted six goals in a commanding display, as Lachie Wilsdon snared eight in North Adelaide’s 48-point salute over Central District. The likes of Harrison Wigg (42 disposals, nine clearances), Samuel McInerney (24 disposals, five goals), and Campbell Combe (29 disposals, two goals) were among the Roosters’ other outstanding individual performers.

North’s win opened up a gap to Port Adelaide in sixth, after the Magpies went down to Norwood by 36 points. The usual suspects were amongst it for the Redlegs, with Mitch Grigg (31 disposals, seven clearances, one goal), Richard Douglas (30 disposals, eight clearances), and Brad McKenzie (24 disposals, two goals) all in the thick of things. South Adelaide was the weekend’s other winner, with pick one contender Jason Horne (19 disposals, one goal) again catching plenty of eyes as his Panthers got the better of Adelaide.

Tasmania (TSL):

Launceston took out a crucial TSL top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, downing North Launceston by 53 points to strength its spot as the league leader. The Blues now boast a two-game gap to their closest rival, and consolidated their latest victory with five goals to nil in the final quarter. Brayden Pitcher booted six majors to spearhead the Blues’ win, Jake Hinds and competition stalwart Jay Blackberry took out votes as the best two players afield.

Fellow top four sides Tigers and Clarence also picked up wins against the bottom two teams, in North Hobart and Lauderdale respectively. The Tigers accelerated during a five-goal second term to end up 40-point victors on the road, while Colin Garland snared another bag of six goals as his Roos wrapped up a 49-point win on home turf. Both sides remain locked on 32 points, with Clarence ahead in third by 0.23 per cent.

Western Australia (WAFL):

The WAFL returned after last week’s lockdown with crowds enjoying five fixtures across a stacked Saturday of state league football. The home sides won out in four of those games, while Subiaco shot back to the top of the table as the race for minor premiership honours heats up.

Claremont’s one-point loss to South Fremantle opened the door for Subiaco to reclaim top spot on percentage, though all three teams now sit level on eight wins with a two-pronged chasing pack ready to pounce at just one game adrift. The top five looks relatively set, with a three-game gap now opened up between Swan Districts in fifth and Peel Thunder in sixth.

Swans scraped past the ever-improving West Coast by two points to remain in the hunt with West Perth, as the Falcons had a much easier time defeating East Perth by 30 points. Geelong champion Harry Taylor returned to East Fremantle and booted four goals as Corey Warner, the brother of Chad made his League debut, but their efforts were not enough to help overcome the Thunder in a 26-point loss.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

Young Guns: 2021 VFL Round 12

A BUNCH of the nation’s most promising Under 19 prospects continues to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL), including a raft of top-ups and academy talents. Many have already made their state league debuts, with more to come and a handful sighted this past weekend. We take a look at how the prominent 19th-year players performed as they hit the senior football grade.

Bendigo Pioneers pair Sam Conforti and Jack Hickman returned the Essendon VFL setup, as the Bombers found the going tough against a rampant Geelong side. The nippy small midfielders both got their hands on the ball, with Conforti ticking up to 18 disposals in his sixth outing to bring his season average up to 17.3. Hickman found it 12 times, making for a solid fourth outing at the level.

A strong bunch of top-up players ran out for Gold Coast in the Suns’ loss to Box Hill, taken from four different NAB League regions. Geelong supplied top-agers Lachlan Kidd (16 disposals, seven marks), Blake Reid (nine disposals, four marks), and Noah Gadsby (nine disposals), who fared well given the Hawks’ dominance. Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Giorgio Varagiannis booted a major from his 10 touches, as Dandenong Stingrays utility Bryce Milford also found the goals. Talls Felix Flockart and Henry Walsh also got a run, combining for 11 hit-outs. Walsh is the 203cm brother of Carlton midfielder, Sam and has been playing local football at St Joseph’s.

Sydney was another reserves side to send out plenty of top-ups, with eight NAB Leaguers from six separate regions taking the field in their loss to Frankston. West Australian Logan Young was the pick of the bunch with 21 disposals, five marks and a goal, while Calder Cannons top-ager Sam Clohesy (18 disposals, six marks, five tackles) was also productive on debut. Clohesy was recently signed by Coburg, but got clearance to fill in for this clash.

Geelong Falcons products Sam Witherden, Gennaro Bove, and Kyle Skene each got a run in their second outings, while fellow country talents Cobi Maxted (Bendigo) and Fraser Marris (Greater Western Victoria) were also called up. Eastern Ranges skipper Josh Clarke ramped up his return from injury with the Swans, making the step up to senior football after two consecutive NAB League outings.

Greater Western Sydney brought in a few of its academy hopefuls to take on, and beat, Casey Demons by a single point. All half-dozen of them had 10 disposals or less, topped by midfielder Maximus Monaghan. Fraser Kelly was productive with two goals from his eight touches, while Harrison Grintell also found the big sticks. AFL Academy member Josh Fahey returned to the fold steadily with seven disposals, as defender Sam Frost got his hands dirty with an equal number of tackles, and Luke Fellows rounded out the cohort.

A couple of powerhouse aligned clubs called upon top-aged guns, with Carlton retaining Joel Trudgeon (eight disposals, four tackles) and Richmond giving a late call-up to Will Bravo (eight disposals, three tackles) as both sides suffered losses. Sandringham co-captain Darby Hipwell also turned out in the VFL once more, snaring a goal from his 12 disposals against Collingwood.

Ewan Macpherson was another to enjoy his extended run at the level, upping his output to gather 17 disposals and four marks for the Western Bulldogs. Fellow club-tied prospect Cody Raak also donned the red, white and blue for a third time. Gippsland Power ball winner Chance Doultree was also busy with 15 touches and six marks on debut, while North Melbourne was serviced well by its own debutant in Western Jets product Sam Clifford (11 disposals, seven marks).

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Finals Week One

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

>> Results: VFLW Finals Week One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Graham Denholm/AFL Photos

State Leagues wrap: Finals-bound sides make moves

THERE is a new leader in the Victorian Football League (VFL) and some rising challengers in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) after full rounds of highly entertaining action over the weekend. The top of the tree looks settled down in the Tasmanian State League (TSL), while West Australian fans will have to wait another week for more West Australian Football League (WAFL) action after a lockdown-enforced bye.

We run you through all the results from around the nation and what they mean moving forward in this week’s state leagues wrap.

NSW-ACT / Queensland / Victoria (VFL):

A mixed bag of results saw margins stretched from one to 75 points in Round 12 of the VFL, with eight games played across Friday evening to Sunday night. Geelong opened proceedings with a comprehensive win over Essendon, thumping the Bombers by that round-high margin on home turf. The Cats kicked away early with 11 goals to two in the first half, as Charlie Constable again helped himself to over 40 disposals and Darcy Lang booted five majors. They are finding their groove.

Box Hill was another big winner in Round 12, and got things started on Saturday by feasting on a Gold Coast side littered with top-ups. Six goals to Fergus Greene meant he outgunned the five-goal Suns all on his own, as his Hawks saluted to the tune of 72 points at Box Hill City Oval. They move ahead of Casey in third after the Demons suffered a shock loss to GWS Giants – another team filled with top-ups and academy talent. Giants skipper Stephen Coniglio made his return via the reserves, while Matt de Boer responded well to his axing to claim 25 disposals, and Demon Sam Weideman booted three goals in his claim for a senior recall.

Standalone sides Coburg and Northern Bullants both secured wins over aligned opponents on Saturday afternoon, marking successful hitouts at their respective home venues. The Lions toppled Carlton by 37 points on the back of a seven-goal final term, as Marcus Lentini (39 disposals) and Sam Lowson (four goals) starred, while the Bullants held off Richmond to win by 13 points, with skipper Tom Wilson (31 disposals) leading the way.

Footscray became the new ladder leader on Sunday, ending North Melbourne’s winning run with an 11-point victory at Whitten Oval. The Bulldogs kicked six of their 10 goals in the second term to stream ahead after trailing at quarter time, and never looked back. Frankston and Collingwood also secured wins to retain their spots in the top eight by percentage alone. Jack Ginnivan could soon be in for a debut after booting four goals in the Magpies’ win over Sandringham, while Nathan Freeman (45 disposals) got back to his usual output as the Dolphins downed Sydney.

Six sides enjoyed bye rounds this past weekend, including all three Queensland teams – Aspley, Brisbane Lions, and Southport. Port Melbourne, Werribee, and Williamstown were the Victorian clubs able to put their feet up in Round 12, recharging for the weekend ahead.

South Australia (SANFL):

Woodville-West Torrens proved the big winner in Round 13 of the SANFL, moving clear of South Adelaide in second spot with a 36-point win on Saturday. The Eagles put through six goals to one after half time in a clinical effort, with former AFL-listed pair Tyson Stengle (five) and Troy Menzel (four) combining for nine majors. The top five could soon be in for a shake-up too, with Sturt and Port Adelaide knocking on the door after respective Round 12 wins.

The Double Blues beat fourth-placed Norwood in a low-scoring slog on Friday night, putting them within a game of the finals places. Port remains level on points with fifth after snapping its three-game losing run to get past Central District, with senior-listed youngster Zak Butters (21 disposals, two goals) making a positive return to action through the reserves side.

It was business as usual for the undefeated Glenelg, who picked up a 12th victory on the back of its eight-goal final term blitz. The Bays trailed at every break but flicked the switch when it mattered most, soaring past Adelaide to win by 15 points. North Adelaide was also victorious on Saturday, proving 44 points better than West Adelaide to maintain its top five standing. The Roosters were served by some big performers, namely Campbell Combe, Harrison Wigg (both 39 disposals) and Keenan Ramsey (five goals).

Tasmania (TSL):

North Launceston showed no signs of letting up in its quest to reign back ladder leader, Launceston, after thumping Glenorchy by 105 points to open Round 14 of the TSL. The Northern Bombers overwhelmed their opponents in the front half with 33 total scoring shots to 13, headlined by their 12-goal to one second half. Zach Burt and Brandon Leary both snared four majors in the win as two of their side’s 10 individual goalkickers.

Despite the result, Launceston remains clear out in front after 14 rounds, having accounted for Lauderdale to the tune of 38 points. The contest was effectively over by three quarter time, as the Blues led by 75 points with just one major score in the Bombers’ account. With that in mind, Launceston’s foot came off the gas and Lauderdale poured on eight goals in the final term to restore some respectability to the scoreboard. Leading the charge was Josh McGuinness, who booted seven of his side’s nine goals, while Cody Thorpe snared three for the Blues to be named best afield.

Clarence rounded out the weekend’s action with a 55-point win over North Hobart, feasting on the cellar dweller to move level on points with third-placed Tigers, who had the bye. Colin Garland spearheaded the Roos’ victory with six goals, as his side kicked away strongly to add seven majors in the final term. Tigers return next week against the Demons, while Glenorchy gets a rest in Round 15.

Western Australia (WAFL):

Western Australia’s lockdown enforced a bye round this week in the WAFL, even cancelling out the women’s grand final – which has since been rescheduled for Sunday. All WAFL and WAFLW clubs were allowed to resume training as of July 3 with restrictions still in place and set to be eased today. All three men’s grades are scheduled to resume this coming weekend for Round 14, with five games fixed on Saturday July 10.

Image Credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

PREVIEW | 2021 VFL Women’s Finals: Week One

THE 2021 VFL Women’s finals series has arrived, with the top six teams set to battle it out for premiership glory after 14 enthralling home-and-away rounds. After a year away, the competition was reformatted to see the AFLW and NAB League seasons run concurrently with Victoria’s state league, seeing players from both the aforementioned leagues filter into all 12 teams in different ways.

This year’s finals campaign sees three sides take part in their maiden finals series, with Port Melbourne among them at the pointy end of its inaugural VFLW season. Reigning premier, Collingwood remains the hot favourite to take out this year’s flag, having become just the second-ever team to go through the regular season undefeated. We preview all three of the week one fixtures, with comment from key players of each team.

>> SCROLL for the finals fixture tree

2ND ELIMINATION FINAL

Casey Demons vs. Essendon
Saturday July 3, 12:00pm
Casey Fields

Records:
Casey – 4th, 8-6, 155.96%
Essendon – 5th, 8-6, 155.95%

2021 H2H:
Round 2 – Casey Demons 3.4 (22) def. by Essendon 4.7 (31) @ Casey Fields

Last 5:
Casey – 2-3
Essendon – 2-3

It is only fitting that Casey and Essendon begin their respective maiden VFLW finals campaigns against each other, as they lock horns at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon. This is the tightest matchup of the lot after 14 home-and-away rounds, with the two sides boasting equal 8-6 records and separated by just 0.1 per cent on the ladder. They are also both 2-3 across their last five outings, with their only previous meeting in 2021 seeing the Bombers salute to the tune of nine points at the same venue.

Plenty has changed since then, though, according to Demons midfielder Eliza West.

“[Essendon] was so physical and I think it surprised us and we weren’t ready for that level of physicality,” West said. “But now after playing for a little while we’ve obviously improved on that because we’ve had to focus on it, and I think coming into the game this week that’ll be a big point for us. We’ll go in ready to play hard and win the footy.”

Bombers skipper Georgia Nanscawen, who has enjoyed a stellar season in the engine room, says calling the matchup close is “pretty spot on.”

“Our matchup against them earlier in the year was a very close game,” Nanscawen said. “When you look at the ladder, I think there was 0.1 of a percent [difference] or something. You can’t get much closer than that so it should be a cracking game.”

While they are incredibly closely matched, there remains a key point of difference between these two adversaries. Essendon is the lone purely non-AFLW aligned team to feature among this year’s finalists, making for another landmark to be “proud” for Nanscawen and her standalone squad of Bombers.

“I’m really loving my time at the Bombers and for our first finals campaign as a club, it’s certainly special to be a part of,” she said. “To be the non-aligned club shows that we can match it with those aligned clubs and hopefully we can have a good finals series.

“We’ve come back refreshed after the break, we’ve had a really good couple of weeks and we’re feeling great so I think anything can happen on the weekend.”

While the Bombers may not be able to lean on its own group of currently senior-listed stars, its emerging crop of youngsters has plenty of fans and pundits alike eager to see how they fare. Having blazed her own trail through the NAB League pathway with Calder Cannons, Essendon forward Alana Barba is excited to see what the next generation can produce come finals time.

“It’s really exciting to see some of the prospects coming through,” Barba said. “A lot of them have done pretty well on their debuts, and going up against the bigger bodies they’ve held their ground and they’ve really come in strong. “It’s exciting to see where they go in the future, whether that’s at the Bombers or anywhere on an AFLW list, they’ll do well.

“I guess I try and take them under my wing a bit because I’ve come through the same pathway as them. But they hold their ground pretty well and they’re very keen as we all are, so it’ll be exciting to see how they go.”

Nanscawen also pointed towards an AFLW draft pick one candidate for her choice of a potential “difference maker”.

“We’ve got Georgie Prespakis who had a great game last week,” she said. “That was her second game for us and she’s improved across the two games already, so we’re pretty excited to see what she can do in a finals series.”

On the flip side, Casey will field up to 10 AFLW-listed players on Saturday and have been able to take plenty from the senior Melbourne side – including an exciting gameplan. Demon Ally Kirkwood says her side is excited for the opportunity to implement it throughout the finals campaign.

“I think the gamestyle we want to play is really exciting,” Kirkwood said. “It’s definitely something the Melbourne AFLW girls implemented and it worked for them through finals. “Unfortunately they didn’t make the grand final but I think we will. That’s what’s really exciting for us; we’re all prepared to play [the gameplan], we’ve been training it for the whole season and we’ve gotten really good at it.”

In terms of the key players to watch for Casey, Kirkwood gave West a good pump-up while standing by her side on Monday’s finals launch day. West had a player of her own in mind, and both promise to provide the sort of ball winning intent that Casey is looking for this weekend.

“Eliza West… she’s always there in those [clutch] moments and it’s really great that we have her here at the club,” Kirkwood said.

“We rely on a lot of players in all areas of the field but I really think Meg McDonald,” West followed. “Since she’s come into being an on-baller, she’s added another level of  physicality and toughness. She lays hard tackles, she plays her role really well and I think she’s helped us a lot. “She’ll be one to look out for because it’s hard to beat her – if she’s tackling you, it’s hard to break one of those tackles so good luck to whoever it is.”

QUALIFYING FINAL

Collingwood vs. Geelong
Saturday July 3, 12:00pm
Holden Centre

Records:
Collingwood – 1st, 14-0, 297.1%
Geelong – 2nd, 10-4, 174.3%

2021 H2H:
Round 1 – Geelong 6.6 (42) def. by Collingwood 7.2 (44) @ Deakin University
Round 14 – Collingwood 3.5 (23) def. Geelong 0.4 (4) @ Victoria Park

Last 5:
Collingwood – 5-0
Geelong – 3-2

Collingwood and Geelong face off for the second time in as many weeks on Saturday, opening the 2021 VFLW finals series with a top of the table clash. The two sides jostled in two close encounters during the 2021 regular season, with the Magpies coming out on top amid their 14-0 campaign. Having completed the home-and-away rounds unbeaten, the reigning premiers became the second-ever side to do so and are in the box seat to defend their crown. But the Cats have proven their credentials as a top-tier team, sneaking into second having consistently found a way to win.

Geelong deputy-vice captains Breanna Beckley and Tamara Smith both spoke towards a strong team-oriented culture which included players listed at AFLW level, the NAB League, and local competitions. With the big job of overturning two previous losses to Collingwood at hand, Smith said her side has “so much more to give.”

“We’ve just got to keep playing our way, our style of footy and back our girls in,” Smith said. “Between the start and end of the season our girls would’ve changed and they’ll probably change again going into next week.

Beckley supported the notion, and hopes it’ll be a case of third time’s a charm for the Cats heading into Saturday’s clash, putting previous results behind them.

“We dropped a couple early against really good sides but it was good to see we had the fight from the start,” Beckley said. “Now coming up against Collingwood [in Round 14], although it wasn’t the result we wanted, I think we still held our own and kept them to a pretty low score as well which was really helpful.

“One of our biggest things that we pride ourselves on is our culture. “What we as a leadership group have tried to instil in the girls is that we’re all here as one no matter where you’re coming from – whether that’s AFL, VFL or local leagues. “Culture is the biggest thing no matter how old you are or your background, and it’s something we’ll keep priding ourselves on towards finals.”

With senior, state league and junior competitions running concurrently in 2021, the Cats have also benefitted from having a number of high-level NAB League graduates filter through the team. Smith was particularly glowing in her review of them, while Beckley knows the Falcons products well having worked with the program as talent manager.

Chloe Leonard’s a big one,” Smith said. “She’s played three games for us, we love Chloe. It’s just the good vibes she brings, she’s so confident but she just asks questions and is always wanting to learn. “You give her something to do and she just does it, plays her role so well.

Annie Lee had a few games with us, she takes strong marks down back. She’s a bit quieter than Chloe but it’s the same thing, she just plays her role and slots into the team.

Renee Tierney played a couple of games as well, she played against Southern Saints in a really wet game but she just held her own, backed her skills in. “It’s awesome to have those NAB League girls through because as much as they’re there to learn, they also have so much to give so it’s a really good opportunity for them and for us.”

While the spades of talent across a good range of age groups would make it easy to individualise parts of the squad, Smith maintains the Cats will rely on a team effort, rather than look to a few to get the job done.

“Obviously we have really talented girls in the side and ones which will step up, but as a whole I think we’re all ready for the challenge,” she said. “That’s one thing, if we can all step up together it’s going to make a huge difference across the ground. “I don’t think that we should be relying on just one girl to get the job done or have an outstanding game, if we can all lift and do our part for the team that’s where you get the job done.”

Collingwood also has a raft of stars which will look to make a difference on Saturday, none more so than unbelievably timely inclusion, Chloe Molloy. The dynamic senior-listed forward qualifies for finals after playing just one game in 2021, and will be one of the (up to) 10 AFLW players afield for the Magpies. Should she line up in attack, Molloy could form a deadly partnership with competition leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett and boom recruit Matilda Zander.

Up the other end, Lauren Butler also returned just in time to qualify for finals, while Mikala Cann carries in terrific form through midfield. With such a strong senior-listed and VFLW core, promising NAB Leaguers like Stella Reid and Eliza James look to have been squeezed out, though tough midfielder Olivia Meagher has been named on the Magpies’ bench.

1ST ELIMINATION FINAL

Port Melbourne vs. Southern Saints
Sunday July 4, 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Records:
Port Melbourne – 3rd, 10-4, 128.7%
Southern Saints – 6th, 7-7, 115.2%

2021 H2H:
Round 10 – Port Melbourne 4.4 (28) def. by Southern Saints 8.7 (55)

Last 5:
Port Melbourne – 2-3
Southern Saints – 3-2

In Sunday’s standalone finals fixture, Port Melbourne enters its maiden finals campaign against the Southern Saints having enjoyed a remarkable inaugural VFLW season. After starting the year with a blistering 7-0 run, the Borough ended their regular season at 10-4 – good enough for third spot having occupied one of the top two places for nine rounds. Most intriguingly, one of those losses came at the hands of their weekend adversaries. The Saints have gone 7-7 thus far and went 2-2 after that win against Port, but did enough to claw onto sixth spot and earn a finals berth.

Saints co-captain Deanna Jolliffe says her side is “[peaking] at the right time” after two promising wins in the run-in to Sunday, while youngster Melanie Bertuna outlined the desired approach to knocking Port off for a second time.

“I think our last two weeks of footy have really proved what we’re capable of,” Jolliffe said. “Hopefully we can just continue to play the same sort of footy that we have over the last couple of weeks and bring that in on Sunday against Port Melbourne.”

“Playing a really strong four quarters of footy [is what it takes to beat Port Melbourne],” Bertuna said. “Just not dropping off our pressure and sticking with it the whole game, sticking our heads down and getting the work done.”

The same four-quarter approach was also a theme in Borough captain Melissa Kuys‘ path to victory, as her side looks put together the high-level form they previously found on a more consistent basis. As a leader in Port’s first VFLW finals campaign, the experienced utility is also proud of how much development the competition newcomers have shown this year.

“We just need to play four quarter of good footy,” Kuys said. “We’ve been playing patches unfortunately in the last couple of weeks so we’ve just got to bring that brand of footy we know we can play for longer than them, and hopefully we’ll get the job done.”

“At the beginning of the season we probably [didn’t] think that we would’ve gotten this far, so it’s super pleasing that we are where we are. “It’s been a lot of hard work but we’re super excited to have our first finals.”

Both sides have also had a raft of promising NAB Leaguers come through the respective programs, with a bunch set to line up for either team on Sunday. Having gone through the pathway herself, first year Port Melbourne player Olivia Barton said they have been “really good contributors” overall.

“We’ve loved having the NAB League girls come through,” Barton said. “They’ve all brought something special to the team in their individual ways and obviously our senior players have been really good with teaching them the ropes.”

Jolliffe gave similar praise to the Saints’ next generation of talent, while also giving a nod to the AFLW-listed players who have “lifted” the squad in an all-round learning experience.

“I think the [NAB Leaguers] bring a lot of depth to the team,” she said. “With their young bodies and they’re able to get in and under the ball and they’re just keen to learn and always striving to do better. “I think that also brings a lot of culture to our team because we want to do better for the them, and also want to be able to teach them things.

“Since the AFLW girls have joined our training sessions the intensity has definitely lifted, there seems to be a lot more voice out on the field. “The experience they bring is second to none so we’re all just enjoying that and learning from them as much as we can.”

As the Southern squad looks to implement its ferocious and unsociable “Saints footy”, Jolliffe and Bertuna promise there won’t be any one player carrying their effort.

“The way we’ve always played is Saints footy,” Bertuna said. “Every week that’s always what we want to come back to and play our way, so we’ll come out strong, respect the team we’re going up against and bring our best.”

Kuys and Barton identified a couple of key difference-makers among the Port Melbourne squad, though the spread of contributors is set to be just as even.

“I’d probably go with Courteney Bromage,” Kuys said. “She’s a player that gets in-and-under and she really uses her body and that inspires me to go harder.”

Claire Dyett on the wing,” Barton said. “She’s always going hard at the ball and running hard for us both ways, so she’d definitely be one to step up. Her heart’s right in the team so she’d definitely do it for us.”

Via: VFL

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Stat Leaders: 2021 VFL – Round 11

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) season rolled on into its 11th round over the weekend, with 10 fixtures spread from Friday morning to Sunday evening. There were a number of outstanding individual performances among the Round 11 action, as AFL-listed talent and state league guns alike topped a range of key categories. We take a look at this week’s stat leaders, as well as the season tallies to this point.

>> RESULTS | State leagues wrap

Geelong Cats midfielder Charlie Constable set an ominous tone in the round’s opening game, racking up 44 disposals in his side’s thumping win over Brisbane. The competition’s ball magnets followed suit, with Aspley’s Matthew Payne (32 kicks) and Coburg’s Marcus Lentini (26 handballs) topping the charts in respective categories despite both playing in losses.

Senior-listed Richmond ball winner Jack Ross also worked hard to notch 15 marks as his Tigers went down to Sandringham, and Sydney’s Ryan Clarke dominated the stoppage situations with 12 clearances as the Swans took out Sunday’s Sydney derby. In the same game, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) youngster Xavier O’Halloran managed a high of 11 inside 50s as his side was beaten by 38 points.

North Melbourne had a couple of players feature on this week’s leaderboard, starting with Kade Answerth for his monster 16-tackle effort. Bigman Tom Campbell also returned a big performance in the ruck with 49 hitouts, while fellow AFL-listed tall Ben Brown bagged five majors for Casey Demons to top the Round 11 goalkicking charts, continuing his press for a call-up.

Southport may have had its bout with Gold Coast cancelled, but Jacob Dawson still leads the league for disposals and handballs, while Payne has the most kicks at an average of 20.9 and teammate Matthew Hammelmann is head and shoulders above the rest with 39 goals. Werribee pair Dom Brew (tackles) and Matthew Lobbe (hitouts) also feature on the leaderboards, as Brisbane tall Connor Ballenden is the sole AFL-listed player to lead a category, having clunked the most marks thus far.

Find the full list of Round 11, and 2021 season stat leaders below.

ROUND 11 STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Charlie Constable* (Geelong) – 44

Kicks:
Matthew Payne (Aspley) – 32

Handballs:
Marcus Lentini (Coburg) – 26

Marks:
Jack Ross* (Richmond) – 15

Tackles:
Kade Answerth (North Melbourne) – 16

Clearances:
Ryan Clarke* (Sydney) – 12

Inside 50s:
Xavier O’Halloran* (GWS) – 11

Hitouts:
Tom Campbell* (North Melbourne) – 49

Goals:
Ben Brown* (Casey Demons) – 5

* – denotes AFL-listed

2021 SEASON STAT LEADERS:

Disposals:
Jacob Dawson (Southport) – 282 total / 35.3 average

Kicks:
Matthew Payne (Aspley) – 198 / 22.0

Handballs:
Jacob Dawson (Southport) – 167 / 20.9

Marks:
Connor Ballenden* (Brisbane) – 72 / 9.0

Tackles:
Dom Brew (Werribee) – 71 / 10.1

Hitouts:
Matthew Lobbe (Werribee) – 225 / 32.1

Goals:
Matthew Hammelmann (Aspley) – 39 / 4.3

* – denotes AFL-listed

Image Credit: Jonathan Di Maggio/AFL Photos