Tag: vflw

Shaw eyes positives after disappointing 2020 season

IT has been disappointing year for most Victorian footballers, with few getting a chance to really test themselves competitively. In most cases for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites they have been able to get out on the field and stake their case to be drafted in tomorrow’s 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Unfortunately for players such as former Gippsland Power and Hawthorn VFL Women’s talent Maddi Shaw, she has not been able to get on the park due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Shaw is an over-age prospect who missed out on being picked up in last year’s draft, admitting she was “not ready” to make the next step up to the elite level. But with a big preseason behind her she hoped to be prepared to tackle 2020 in a huge way.

“My plan was to do really, really well in preseason,” Shaw said. “So I really worked quite hard in preseason, really wanted to better myself because I knew last year I was not ready at all. “I was like ‘this year I need to get myself ready’ and become one of those better footballers and make sure I was training really hard, and then coming into the season at my peak. “Making sure I was fitter than I’ve ever been, stronger than I’ve ever been. “But also physically and mentally ready as I’d already had that season to prepare myself and I knew what I was looking forward to.”

It was her first proper full uninterrupted preseasons and her hope to kick-start the year off in style was positive. Despite missing out on being drafted, Shaw said she did not want to look too far ahead other than to have it as a long-term goal, and rather focus on the here and now.

“(I wanted to) just make sure I had a really good preseason, as the last few preseasons I had interruptions and I went to Cambodia, not that that’s an excuse to not be fit, but just making sure I was really prepared and then going into it knowing I was playing for Hawthorn and not aiming for anything other than where I was now and doing my best on each weekend and then looking to the future as it came closer, so trying to work in the moment,” she said.

Her transition from the Power at NAB League Girls level to the VFL Women’s has been a great learning curve, with Shaw getting the opportunity to move through the pathway at local level, through interleague, as well as the elite junior competition and then state-level program.

“It was a bit intimidating at first,” Shaw said. “Walking in as a 17-year-old it was a bit scary, but I had a lot of support around me. “I feel like it was a lot easier than I anticipated. “My experience at Hawthorn’s been awesome, has been really helpful and taught me a lot. “Fitness wise and as an athlete, learning how to take care of my body and also as a footballer. “I’ve learnt so much from not only coaches, but players as well.” 

She said learning off experienced players such as Talia Radan, as well as AFL Women’s premiership coach Bec Goddard and highly respected operator and VFL Women’s premiership coach Paddy Hill, was a great experience for her development.

“You feel really at home in a way so they really help you develop and you have this relationship with them where you can trust everything that they’re saying,” Shaw said. “There’s no second guessing, I like the fact I can walk into training, get my feedback and then go to training, fix what I need to fix, come back and play as a better person. “I don’t have to chase up feedback, they’re always with you and supporting you.”

Picture: Supplied

Like many people, Shaw figured when the season was first postponed, that it would come back in some capacity, but then the disappointment set in and she was resigned to the fact that she would not be able to test herself at the level.

“When it first got postponed I assumed we would only have a few weeks off and we’d be back on track sooner or later,” Shaw said. “But that was definitely not the case, so I was very disappointed when I got there and they told us at training, because I felt like I’d done pretty well throughout preseason and I’d worked hard. “It was kind of hard, you think that that time was wasted, like it definitely wasn’t, but it was very disheartening that we weren’t able to showcase what we’d done throughout preseason. It was really disappointing, but I’m sure we’ll get another chance next year.”

Shaw has always kept a positive mindset when it comes to her football career, never losing sight of being drafted, but also keeping an eye on her present situation to try and produce the best football she can for her side.

“I’d love to get drafted, that’s definitely something I’d really, really want to do,” Shaw said. “I’d also really want to do well in the VFL. “I want to provide and be a high-level player in my team so I can always be trusted to do my job and play my role at Hawthorn and as much as individually I want to get drafted, but as a team at Hawthorn I really just want us to do well and get back to that premiership that we got in 2017, not that I was involved.”

Shaw said her greatest strength was to take on feedback and adapt to whatever role her coaches needed. In terms of on-field traits, Shaw has good athleticism and can provide run out of defence and has been particularly focused on improving her offensive side and developing from a defensive player into a utility.

The Hawks’ teenager said she had been working diligently on her fitness over the break in preparation for the 2021 VFL Women’s season, with help from Hawthorn as well as her university.

“I’ve just been trying to maintain my fitness, so obviously not trying to push myself too hard, we’re going to go into preseason and I don’t want to overwork myself, but really working on my running, keeping my legs ticking over and pushing my body in a way to maintain my readiness coming into preseason,” Shaw said. “Hopefully not get too much of a shock.”

She described 2020 as a “learning curve” and said there was always an opportunity to get drafted regardless of age. Shaw herself sets short-term goals to accompany her long-term aim of being drafted, and said whether it was being selected in the Hawks’ side, having a statistical goal or providing a particular effort for her team, she was always ticking off short-term goals.

As for evolving her game, Shaw still has plenty of belief she has what it takes to make the AFL Women’s in the future.

“I just want to become better, I just want to get drafted,” Shaw said. “That’s going to be my target and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get there. “I’m willing to put in extra hours of training, learn new skills, I really just want to make it because I know that I can because I have the right support around me.”

Shaw is not alone when it comes to disappointment of not having a season to try and improve her form, and she said while some might be tempted to question their future in the sport, she was confident the pendulum would swing back and opportunities would arise in the future.

“I don’t think a lot of people have really turned their back on footy because we’ve missed a whole season,” Shaw said. “I’ve heard a lot of girls who have commented on like ‘maybe this isn’t for me, I’ve missed a whole year, maybe I’m not ready’. “I think a lot of people just think to try and click that reset button and try and push again and try again because there’s always going to be an opportunity that is going to come out of hard work I reckon, so making sure everyone keeps going this year as much as it’s been really hard.”

Shanara Notman – Grasping opportunity through adversity

GIPPSLAND Power prospect Shanara Notman is somewhat of a coach’s dream; versatile, raw, hard-working, and made of leadership material. The 19-year-old narrowly missed out on being drafted last year, and had pegged her 2020 campaign as one which would help garner the experience and game sense required to make the step-up to an AFL Women’s list.

Setbacks have come thick and fast for Notman and her fellow draft hopefuls in a rollercoaster year, but the talented tall has formed a habit of making good on each opportunity to arise across her young footballing career.

She hyperextended her knee five minutes into last year’s NAB League season, but recovered in time to warrant selection in the Vic Country Under 18 squad. It was during the weeklong carnival in Queensland where Notman thrust her name into draft contention, swinging up forward and even through the ruck after cutting her teeth off half-back for Gippsland.

Being overlooked from those dizzying heights would have put many AFLW hopefuls on the back foot, but not Notman.

“Straight after the draft I quickly contacted Chelsea Caple, our talent manager at (Gippsland) Power,” Notman said. “Less than an hour after the draft, my permit for the 2020 season had been approved for Power, so I was going to go in as a 19-year-old. We had an awesome preseason this year and I put in so much effort to get there.”

The effort looked to be paying off, as Notman, with VFLW and representative experience under her belt, returned a couple of outstanding performances at the start of this year’s NAB League competition. But with that season, along with every other league across Victoria written off in due course, Notman found herself facing yet another hurdle.

“We got two games in this year, we had an awesome camp run by our coach, Scotty (Armour)… but since the news about not playing anymore, then hopefully playing later in the year, which obviously got cancelled too, it’s been a bit heartbreaking,” she said.

Notman (left) in action for Vic Country during the 2019 AFLW Under 18 National Championships

Notman is a talented multi-sport athlete, though the art of hurdling has become more of a mental battle in such “chaotic” times.

“To stay motivated, it’s been full of ups and down this year,” she said. “I’ve been fully committed to going to the gym or going for a kick with a few mates who are local and play VFL with us (in line with COVID-19 lockdown regulations of the time). “But it’s an incredibly difficult time, especially because you’ve got to rely on yourself, not your teammates and coaching staff to keep you motivated.”

With lockdown restrictions eased in regional Victoria in mid-September, Notman says she “can’t wait” to get back to some form of normality and group training as soon as possible.

“I find it easier to train with a group of girls than to train by myself, it just keeps you more motivated,” she said. “I’m lucky enough to have one of my best mates, Breanna Pratt, she plays with me at VFL and she lives really close-by so I can go for a kick with her. I’ve got a home gym set up just to keep fit, too.”

“I’m a really social person… I always chat to the Power girls, just helping out the younger ones. “I’m looking forward even in the future to going back down to Power, helping out there and doing whatever I can to help the girls out.”

As the second-eldest member of Gippsland Power’s current squad, Notman has naturally become a leader among the group – despite only featuring in the elite footballing pathway for two years. Having leant on the likes of Daisy Pearce and Gippsland Power graduate, Tyla Hanks during her time at the Casey Demons, the youngster was especially driven to set an example at the start of her over-age NAB League campaign. Earning the vice-captain tag only made it official.

“I was lucky enough to be named the vice-captain of Power this year alongside Grace McRae, who was our captain,” she said. “I was really putting in with that leadership role as I was (one of) the oldest girls on the team – me and Leyla Berry were the over-agers. I was putting in the effort to lead the girls because we’ve got some 15-year-olds and a pretty young group. It was a really exciting time.”

“Girls like Tyla Hanks from the Power, she’s awesome… I trained with the Melbourne girls at the start of the year, with Daisy Pearce and that. They’re great leaders and they help all the NAB League girls come through. They’re just amazing.”

Shanara Notman in action for Gippsland Power. Source: AFL Media

Given Casey’s ties to Melbourne’s AFLW side, Notman has jumped on the Demons’ bandwagon in support of her VFLW teammates, as her beloved Hawthorn does not yet lay claim to a women’s team. But it’s not just players who have mentored Notman throughout her path less travelled by, as the aforementioned Caple, Armour, and former Gippsland Power stalwart, Peter Francis have also played big roles in seeing her through to this point.

“I’m always in contact with Chelsea Caple and Scotty Armour,” she said. “They’re really good mentors for me, they’ve always been there for the last two years and they’ve really encouraged me to be my best… staff like Peter Francis really helped me get into footy, he was a big help at (Gippsland) Power.”

“At Casey I’ve got our assistant coach Troy Hemming, he’s from Warragul so I’m always giving him a call to go for a kick here and there and just catch up.”

As for the ideal path forward, Notman is looking to harness her versatility and play as high a level of football as possible. There lies somewhat of a Plan B as well, as the 19-year-old plies her trade full-time as a support trainee at Drouin Secondary College in the PE and sport and recreation realms.

“The ideal path will obviously be to start playing footy again next year. But my overall goal will be to one day just play footy at the highest level possible and just enjoy footy,” she said.

“I feel like my best position would be running off half-back. Especially at the Power this year, that really benefitted me… (but) it’s really exciting to be versatile and just play wherever the coach wants you to play.”

“If the draft doesn’t go as I hope this year, hopefully VFL actually goes ahead next year and I’ll just keep playing at Casey because I’m really enjoying that.”

At the time of writing, the 2020 AFLW combine testing and All-Stars game in Victoria were cancelled, leaving the October 6 draft as Notman’s next major point of call.

Fast improving Knight doing things differently

FOR most top-agers, the prospect of juggling their final year of school with elite level representative football is a difficult reality. Not for Nell Morris-Dalton, whose journey to this point has been a touch less orthodox than some.

The Northern Knights and Darebin Falcons forward is a step ahead of the competition, currently in her first year of a university nursing degree, allowing her to narrow her focus and “step up (her) game to a new level.

“I think (being at university) made a huge difference this year, allowing me to focus on my footy a bit more,” Morris-Dalton said. “Even when I’m not doing footy I’ve got a lot more free time to just do things that I want to do, so I think that makes a big difference for my enjoyment of footy.”

The enjoyment factor has long been at the forefront of Morris-Dalton’s footballing story, with the Fitzroy junior opting against playing with the boys at a young age because their reluctance to tackle her made it “a little too easy.” But when the Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL) started up a girl’s competition, Morris-Dalton jumped at the opportunity to get back into the action.

“When the girl’s (league) started up at the YJFL I didn’t really look back from there,” she said. “I started at Fitzroy and then my first interaction with the youth girls (pathway) was at the Calder Cannons, and then I obviously got re-zoned when the Knights opened up a team.”

Morris-Dalton’s development at the Preston-based club has been steep, culminating in a top-age season which saw her average 12.6 disposals and 1.4 goals from her 11 NAB League games, highlighted by seven goals across two huge finals performances in the premiership-winning Knights side. The 174cm prospect’s form is something she says took time, coming on the back of a bed of belief and united team environment.

“I think I had a lot of pressure in the first half of my season and once I realised how I play well and worked out things in my game… my confidence started to build and obviously with my confidence building my game kept building too,” Morris-Dalton said. “This year we had a good group of girls and I think what made a huge difference was we were really close so everyone got along really well and it meant that on the field we could just connect well and understand each other’s gameplay… I really enjoyed my time at the Knights. “It was obviously perfect to finish off with a premiership especially in my top-age year and coming off the (grand final) loss the year before.”

Her big game performances meant Vic Metro selection was a relative given, with Morris-Dalton continuing her scoring streak to boot goals in each of her three outings during the national carnival in Queensland. The experience proved another chance to play among a rich team spirit.

“Vic Metro was also really good, I think the big thing about that team was all the girls weren’t playing for themselves and that really showed,” she said. “Everyone on the team connected well and the linkage of play was just really good so it was fun to play in that team with heaps of good girls.”

The theme only continued in Morris-Dalton’s five VFLW games for Darebin Falcons, an historically monumental and “empowering” club which she said was the perfect next step.

“I love Darebin… obviously being all-female, I think that was perfect and exactly where I wanted to go for the rest of my season. “I just really like the club, the whole community vibe of the club is really good and I enjoyed playing with bigger bodies and learning off some of the girls in the team. “Lauren Pearce has been helpful to me, just teaching me a few tips in the ruck and forward line, giving me advice. “It’s the same with Elise O’Dea, just giving me advice about the next level with what it takes and everything.”

The next level is approaching quicker than ever before at this point, with just the National Draft Combine and draft day separating Morris-Dalton from her AFLW dream. She is keen to get through the short period of the unknown.

“We’ve obviously got the combine coming up so that’s my goal at the moment, just to try and test well there. “(I’m) just looking forward to the draft and getting some idea of what I will be doing next year – that is a bit of a hard part of it, it’s all very unknown so I’m pretty excited just to get into it… anywhere I’ll be happy with, but I don’t want to get any ideas in my head and then be disappointed at the end of the day.”

Mugars’ ball movement the key to title run

AFTER missing out on Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s finals last season, Melbourne University has earned a place in the post-season series with a do-or-die clash against Geelong kicking off this weekend. Mugars’ coach Scott Gowans said the competition as a whole has made remarkable strides in overall competitiveness with the gap between the top and bottom sides closing.

“I think the competition overall has increased,” he said. “The level of skill, even just looking at Champion Data the other day. The average chain of possession has gone up which is great for the competition, so my perception was that we’d be competitive this year, which I think our finishing spot said the expectation was met. “I reckon though there are some games now you come up against lower sides, and you just don’t know that you’re gonna win. “2017 and before that, you could almost guarantee the ladder positions and who was going to win each week but that’s gone and you just see Darebin coming on at the end of the year and Essendon, and Casey had some really good wins towards the end. “It’s a much more even competition, and I think for the health of women’s footy in general, it’s a great thing.”

Gowans has the luxury of coaching both in the VFLW space as well as the Mugars’ AFL Women’s affiliate, North Melbourne. This year, North Melbourne’s AFL Women’s players suited up for the VFLW program, which he has described as “incredibly beneficial” for the 2019 season.

“We were able to put the girls on particular programs off-field and programs on-field,” Gowans said. “So we did some individual programs for them and what they needed to work from a physician point of view for AFLW and that’s massive because it just gives you the time where you can take a break because as you guys know you get to AFLW and it’s gone in a flash. “So all the development has to happen in the winter. Some of the development such as Emma King is a classic example, her development is actually not to play. “Her development is all vision and IDP (individual development program) stuff off-field and getting her body right, so that’s a big part of it as well. “But the winter allows you to do that with the VFLW, and hopefully once AFLW pre-season starts which will be really soon, they’ll be in much better place than they were last year.”

While Melbourne Uni has to narrow its focus on Geelong this week, Gowans is aware than any of the six competing finals sides could go the full distance in season 2019.

“Well I was just saying before any of the six can win it,” he said. “Collingwood and St Kilda are clearly the two best for the year to date, but the Bulldogs have got momentum and momentum is massive in football and I think they’ve got a really good show. Geelong who we play this week are a side that if you don’t get on top of them on the scoreboard they’ll get you into a fight stoppage after stoppage, they’re really good at stoppages which is why they try and do it and spread from there. So you’ve got to try and take their game plan away from them. “I honestly believe that any of the six can win, I think if you look at the results throughout the year, the scoreboards reflect that as well so it will be a fascinating finals series.”

Melbourne Uni faces Geelong at Adcon Stadium tomorrow from 11.45am, with the winner to play the loser from the Collingwood-Southern Saints clash the following week.

*For a look inside the VFL Women’s development system, keep an eye out next week as the Melbourne Uni coach gives an insight into the way clubs look to get as many players drafted as possible.*

Ikon Park to host Victorian state league Grand Finals

BOTH the 2019 Victorian Football League (VFL) and VFL Women’s Grand Finals will take place at Ikon Park on Sunday September 22, after the AFL announced the decision to return to the venue in 2019. Previously the game had been held at Marvel Stadium (known as Etihad prior to this year), but a return to a community atmosphere at the Carlton North venue was a deciding factor in the change. The NAB League Boys decider will be played at the same venue the day before.

The men’s and women’s finales will be played at Carlton’s home base to welcome the VFL Grand Final for the first time since 2007. Marvel Stadium has hosted the last 11 VFL deciders, with the VFL/VFL Women’s double-header Grand Final day having been played at the Docklands stadium over the last two years.

AFL Head of Talent Pathways & State League Competitions Tristan Salter said the opportunity to play the final games of the VFL and VFL Women’s Love the Game Finals Series at Ikon Park will be part of a festival of football at the venue on the weekend of September 21-22.

“The return to Ikon Park provides us with an opportunity to hold the Hard Yakka / Totally Workwear VFL and Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s Love the Game Grand Finals at a venue that gives a familiar community feeling and atmosphere to our home-and-away games and lead-up finals for both VFL competitions,” Mr Salter said. “We have the chance to make the weekend a celebration of state-league football, with the NAB League Boys decider to be played on the Saturday, followed by the VFL and VFL Women’s finales on the Sunday. “The VFL / VFL Women’s Grand Final double-header has averaged over 14,500 fans across the last two years, so we are hoping to attract an even bigger crowd this year as we create a festival atmosphere at Ikon Park and fill the venue full of football fans. “There will be no AFL games played in Melbourne on Sunday September 22, so we encourage all football supporters to come and enjoy a great day out, seeing a host of talented VFL and AFL players take to the field in both Grand Final games.”

Fans across Australia will have the opportunity to watch both VFL matches, with the grand finals to be broadcast on Channel 7 throughout Victoria and on 7Plus interstate. Three rounds remain in both competitions, with the top eight in the VFL and top six in the VFL Women’s yet to be finalised. Richmond and Essendon currently lead the race to host home finals in week one of the VFL Love the Game Finals Series, with Footscray and Williamstown still in the mix. Collingwood and Southern Saints are battling to host a home final in the expanded VFL Women’s top six this season, with the competition’s finals to be played over four weeks for the first time in 2019.

The VFL and VFL Women’s Love the Game Finals Series – supported by the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation – begins on the weekend of Saturday August 31, with all lead-up finals – outside of the home finals in week one – to be played at Adcon Stadium (North Port Oval).

Hard Yakka / Totally Workwear VFL / Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s
Love the Game Finals Series

Week 1: Saturday August 31 / Sunday September 1, Home Qualifying Finals (TBC) / Elimination Finals Adcon Stadium (Port Melbourne)

VFL
Qualifying Final 1: 1 vs 4
Qualifying Final 2: 2 vs 3
Elimination Final 1: 5 vs 8
Elimination Final 2: 6 vs 7

VFLW
Qualifying Final: 1 vs 2
Elimination Final 1: 3 vs 4
Elimination Final 2: 5 vs 6

Week 2: Saturday September 7 / Sunday September 8, Adcon Stadium (Port Melbourne)

VFL
Semi Final 1: Loser Qualifying Final 1 vs Winner Elimination Final 1
Semi Final 2: Loser Qualifying Final 2 vs Winner Elimination Final 2

VFLW
Semi Final 1: Winner Qualifying Final vs Winner Elimination Final 1
Semi Final 2: Loser Qualifying Final vs Winner Elimination Final 2

Week 3: Saturday September 14 / Sunday September 15, Adcon Stadium (Port Melbourne)

VFL
Preliminary Final 1: Winner Qualifying Final 1 vs Winner Semi Final 2
Preliminary Final 2: Winner Qualifying Final 2 vs Winner Semi Final 1

VFLW
Preliminary Final: Loser Semi Final 1 vs Winner Semi Final 2

Week 4: Sunday September 22, Ikon Park (Carlton North)

VFL
Grand Final: Winner Preliminary Final 1 vs Winner Preliminary Final 2

VFLW
Grand Final: Winner Semi Final 1 vs Winner Preliminary Final

VFLW Round 3 preview: Five undefeated teams look to keep perfect records alive

ROUND 3 of the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) is up this week, with some tight clashes to come as the ladder starts to take shape. Five teams are still undefeated – though two of the five have only played one match – while NT Thunder have the bye this week.

GEELONG v. COLLINGWOOD
Round 3 – 25/05/2019
11:30
GMHBA Stadium

Round 3 opens with a clash between two of the middle ranked teams on the ladder at this early stage of the season, with both sides sitting on one win and one loss apiece after two rounds. Collingwood’s Jaimee Lambert is currently sitting in third for disposals with 51 across the opening rounds, while Geelong’s Kate Darby has kicked four goals to start the season on a strong note. Despite letting in 12 goals in Round 1, Geelong put in a solid performance last week to hold off Essendon, kicking with accuracy in front of goal with 7.2 on the board, also putting on a load of pressure through defence to deny the Bombers space to settle in front of goal. Collingwood come into this match off a solid win over Hawthorn last round, so will want to replicate the shared effort on the ball and strong tackling pressure the likes of Lambert and Mikala Cann put on last week.

DAREBIN v. HAWTHORN
Round 3 – 25/05/2019
12:00
Swinburne Centre

Both Darebin and Hawthorn have struggled so far this season, so look for a tight match for both sides as they come into Round 3 looking for an elusive first win. It makes for an interesting match, with the Hawks struggling to get goals on the board, while the Falcons have had more trouble defensively, letting in more goals – and while Hawthorn’s losing margin is lower than Darebin’s, it seems the Falcons may have the scoreboard pressure and more options forward to get a win on the board. Meg Hutchins will be one to watch out for, averaging 20.5 touches for the season so far, while Emily Gilder kicked three goals last week and Jess Sibley two in Round 1. Darebin’s Jamie Stanton is sitting at an average of 21 disposals, while Lauren Pearce sat out of Round 1 but was solid in the ruck with 28 hitouts and 17 touches last week, also making a good target forward.

RICHMOND v. ESSENDON
Round 3 – 25/05/2019
12:00
Bill Lawry Oval

Richmond take on Essendon in what will be an interesting match, with the Tigers sitting one from one after a bye last week, while Essendon are zero from two but pushed both Casey and Geelong in Rounds 1 and 2 to show they have some fight in them. That being said, the Tigers were convincing in their 35-point victory over Darebin in Round 1, proving the Bombers will need to give this match everything they’ve got to get a win on the board this week. Tayla Stahl-Smith will be one to watch, equal first in goals kicked for the season after kicking 6.2 in Round 1, while Chloe Wakefield kicked two and four other individuals also got on the board. Essendon have some strong goalkickers of their own with the likes of Monique de Matteo and Arthurina Moreen able to put ball to boot, however it will be defensive pressure that the Bombers will need to work on to put a stop to Richmond’s forward options after going down by close margins two weeks in a row.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v. MELBOURNE UNI
Round 3 – 25/05/2019
4:30
VU Whitten Oval

In what looks to be the match to watch this round, early ladder leaders in Melbourne Uni (1st) take on Western Bulldogs (4th) to close out Saturday’s matches with a bang. Melbourne Uni have dominated so far this season, kicking 11 and 12 goals across the opening rounds and setting the sideup for a big and high-scoring season. The Bulldogs had a bye in the opening round, meaning their solid win against Williamstown in Round 2 is all they have to go off on season form so far. The Mugars are currently dominating the stats with the likes of Jasmine Garner (57 disposals from two matches), Asha Price (six goals) and Kate Gillespie-Jones (16 tackles) sitting high on their respective leaderboards with two comfortable and confident wins under their belts. The Dogs will have the home field advantage, so will hope the likes of Bonnie Toogood (24 disposals, six marks, three tackles), Eleanor Brown (19 disposals, six tackles) and Mikayla Ward (four goals, nine touches) turn it on again this week to put out a good performance.

WILLIAMSTOWN v. CASEY
Round 3 – 26/05/19
11:30
Downer Oval

A strong start to Casey this season will put Williamstown under the pump, with the Demons already having proved they have the star power and players inside 50 to get the job done, while also standing up under pressure in Round 1 to get the chocolates in a close match. The Seagulls come into this match with only one game under their belt – a 47 point loss to Western Bulldogs in Round 2 – so will want to come in strong against the well-rounded Demons. Maddy Guerin (five goals from two matches) and Bianca Jakobbson (averaging 19 touches from two games) have stood up for the Demons thus far, while Sharnie Whiting and Aliesha Newman showed some good signs last week in what was a mostly forgettable start to the season, as the only two to get on the board. Newman will take on a number of her Melbourne AFLW teammates in the Casey side, making for a very interesting contest given her unrivaled speed and ability to snap at goal, while Mo Hope will want to exert some strength this round after a quiet match to start the season.

SOUTHERN SAINTS v. CARLTON
Round 3 – 26/05/19
11:50
Skybus Stadium

Both the Southern Saints and Carlton were dealt losses last week by their respective opponents, so are sure to be raring to go this round. Though Carlton sit in twelfth on the ladder, the side had a bye in Round 1 so will hope it was just a first match blip in the radar before settling into the competition. Both sides kicked a large number of behinds last round so if they can get the ball inside 50 and through the big sticks with accuracy we could have a close game on our hands. Carlton’s Natalie Plane and Abbie McKay were among the best in last week’s loss, collecting a combined 41 touches and 16 tackles, so will want to put on a similar performance as they take on the Saints, with the likes of Alison Drennan (28 disposals, five marks, six tackles) and Olivia Vesely (22, three tackles) able to create opportunities across the field. Carlton will also need to watch out for the Saints’ multiple targets forward, with four goals from eight individual attempts.

NT THUNDER: BYE

VFLW Round 2 weekend preview: Pies bolster experience, while Cats and Dons head to Colac

CARLTON, Western Bulldogs and Williamstown all begin their campaigns this week coming off byes, while Richmond has a break from the VFL Women’s competition to test themselves against GWS GIANTS in an invitational match. With plenty of entertaining contests across the weekend, expect some great clashes.

CASEY DEMONS v. CARLTON
Round 2 – 18/05/2019
11:30
Casey Fields

In the opening game down at Casey Fields, Carlton comes into the 2019 VFL Women’s season for the first time, meeting a relieved Casey Demons outfit who just got over the top of last year’s wooden spooners Essendon last week. Maddy Guerin played her best game in the red and blue with three goals, while Bianca Jakobsson booted two, in the five-goal all game. Key forward Eden Zanker was named best for the Demons in the win, while former Dog Libby Birch was prolific.  The Blues have a number of Carlton AFL Women’s players in their side with the likes of Sarah Hosking, Emerson Woods, Abbie McKay, Charlotte Wilson and Nicola Stevens among those included in the side for the clash tomorrow morning. The Demons deservedly go in as favourites with some more AFLW experience, especially with Birch and Jakobsson in the side, and at home will be home to play well and make it two consecutive victories. For Carlton, it has a young side and will be keen to try and start the season off on the right note and build on its AFLW form.

Casey Demons

B: 40. H. Dyson, 8. S. Lampard, 50. G. McLean
HB: 11. C. Emonson, 29. E. Zanker , 7. B. Jakobsson
C: 42. H. Bailey, 48. E. Archer, 34. A. Kirkwood
HF: 22. M. Guerin, 9. A. Johnson, 13. K. Smith
F: 33. R. Clayton, 27. B. Winbanks, 37. T. Nash
R: 38. K. Bentvelzen , 23. E. Birch, 24. N. Garner
Int: 16. M. Hogg, 32. A. McDonough, 54. K. Oates, 15. T. Tatterson
Emg: 57. L. Davies, 51. A. Francese, 47. K. Guttridge, 56. A. Harris
23P: 46. B. Pratt

In: A. Harris, T. Nash, A. Francese, R. Clayton
Out: R. Edmeades

Carlton

B: 31. N. Burns, 66. M. Neill, 11. J. Hosking
HB: 50. J. Borg, 55. G. Wright, 41. I. Dakis Rofe
C: 21. T. Cassar, 35. M. Clifford, 27. E. Woods
HF: 8. C. Bromage, 7. S. Wright, 39. C. Leighton
F: 9. B. Gurr, 20. C. Wilson, 33. L. Munday
R: 15. K. Neumann Stone, 32. N. Plane, 5. A. McKay
Int: 63. S. Craige, 26. C. Faulks, 17. J. Malouf, 40. S. Mason
Emg: 22. C. Balshaw, 34. I. Gietzmann, 37. A. Prins, 16. N. Stevens
23P: 18. M. Jarvis

 

GEELONG CATS v. ESSENDON
Round 2 – 18/05/2019
12:00
Central Reserve (Colac)

Heading out west, Geelong will be licking its wounds after a 44-point defeat at the hands of a rampaging Melbourne University side, while Essendon will rue a narrow loss against Casey. Young talent Denby Taylor, and the experienced Bec Goring have been brought into the team to change fortunes given the team is relatively settled from the AFLW and last year’s VFLW side. Falcons premiership players, Taylor, Tarryn Love, Zoe Inei and Sachi DeGiacomi are all named in the team, with fellow former TAC Cup players, Georgia Clarke and Rebecca Webster also in the side showing their youth. Essendon has former Calder Cannon, Molly Warbuton and former Murray Bushranger, Eloise Ashley-Cooper in a side that does not have a great deal of AFLW talent outside of West Coast’s Maddy Collier, but has good team cohesion and took it right up to Casey last week. The other AFLW listed player, Maighan Fogas has the unique opportunity to play against her AFLW teammaes in the match. While Geelong got a shock to the system last week, they are still one of the teams to beat this season, although Essendon will put up a fight in this game.

Geelong Cats

B: 44. R. Goring, 17. G. Clarke, 11. J. Woollett
HB: 20. R. Pearce, 4. C. Blakeway, 49. E. Ramsay
C: 3. A. McDonald, 5. J. Ivey, 10. G. Rankin
HF: 45. M. Keryk, 26. M. Boyd, 43. M. Maguire
F: 42. B. Beckley, 8. K. Darby, 7. R. Benham
R: 1. R. Caris, 21. R. Webster, 9. T. Love
Int: 41. A. Haigh, 33. Z. Inei, 23. H. Rowe, 28. D. Taylor
Emg: 15. G. Deller, 14. N. French, 13. L. Taylor
23P: 19. S. DeGiacomi

In: D. Taylor, R. Goring, G. Deller

Essendon

B: 7. K. Hicks, 4. A. Saundry, 29. C. Laan
HB: 18. K. Heil, 27. A. Morcom, 34. F. Puruntatameri
C: 28. R. Svarc, 8. H. Bullas, 1. C. Ugle
HF: 46. L. Ahrens, 38. E. Gogerly, 3. M. DeMatteo
F: 23. M. Collier, 40. A. Moreen, 25. L. Stepnell
R: 30. S. Nalder, 22. N. MacDonald, 39. M. Fogas
Int: 9. A. Anderson, 2. I. Currenti, 21. K. McFadyen, 11. M. Warburton
Emg: 15. L. Caruso, 33. E. Hosking, 20. A. Madden, 14. T. Zagontinos
23P: 45. E. Ashley-Cooper

In: L. Caruso, F. Puruntatameri, L. Ahrens, E. Ashley-Cooper, A. Anderson, E. Hosking,
A. Madden
Out: G. Nanscawen, J. Stassi, S. Audley, S. Wilson

 

COLLINGWOOD v. HAWTHORN
Round 2 – 18/05/2019
02:00
Victoria Park

Last year’s semi finalists both suffered losses in Round 1, with Collingwood having a shock loss at the hands of Southern Saints in the standalone game a fortnight ago, while the Hawks lost to Northern Territory Thunder, the side it booted out of last year’s finals series. Collingwood has recalled a host of AFLW talent including last year’s draftees, Jordyn Allen, Katie Lynch and Georgia Gourlay and key position players Sophie Livingston and Sophie Alexander who will straighten the side up. Add in Ruby Schleicher and Maddie Shevlin and the Magpies team on paper looks considerably more experienced than Round 1. The reigning premiers have backed themselves in with just the one confirmed change in the side this round. It means Collingwood will go in as favourites and keen to atone for the semi-final loss, but one can never discount the strength of the Hawthorn squad and what it is capable of under coach Patrick Hill.

Collingwood

B: 75. E. Bliss, 12. S. Livingstone, 22. S. Casey
HB: 52. N. Hales, 18. R. Schleicher, 13. J. Lambert
C: 32. G. Gourlay, 41. K. Stratton, 49. K. Newton
HF: 6. J. Allen, 70. J. Ferguson, 72. K. Lee
F: 24. S. Alexander, 16. K. Lynch, 25. M. Cann
R: 92. S. King, 60. D. Calautti, 63. P. Nash
Int: 48. A. Bild , 50. G. Buchan, 55. C. Bunker, 35. M. Shevlin
Emg: 58. J. Blecher, 23. L. Butler, 59. A. Levin
23P: 51. A. Curley

In: G. Gourlay, A. Curley, S. Alexander, J. Allen, S. Livingstone, M. Shevlin,
K. Lynch, R. Schleicher
Out: E. Browning, B. Bonnici, A. Malander, M. Doherty, S. Mastras

Hawthorn

B: 5. C. Perera, 6. T. Radan, 31. J. Sibley
HB: 11. D. Haines, 25. M. Hutchins, 13. E. Nixon
C: 33. E. Gilder, 14. O. Flanagan, 40. E. Macdonald
HF: 26. C. Dyett, 29. A. Tanner, 35. C. O’Donnell
F: 12. N. Cormack , 22. T. Luke, 2. K. Henderson
R: 20. L. Kelly, 10. P. Peschke, 24. R. Dillon
Int: 4. S. Carroll, 17. A. Dowler, 15. B. Struylaart, 18. E. Wroe
Emg: 32. N. Bjelan, 16. T. Reiter, 30. A. Sarec, 27. K. Scott
23P: 23. G. Macpherson

In: N. Bjelan, T. Reiter, L. Kelly

 

NT THUNDER v. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Round 2 – 18/05/2019
03:30
TIO Stadium

Both these teams come into the game in winning form, with NT Thunder overcoming Hawthorn and Southern Saints giving Collingwood a touch-up in the opening round of the season. The Thunder bring in the likes of Danielle Ponter and Hannah Martin, the latter of whom has enjoyed a good season for West Adelaide in the SANFL Women’s competition. The Thunder have lost a number of experienced players with Chelsea Randall, Angela Foley and Deni Varnhagen among some very experienced outs, while the Saints have made minimal changes to their side with just bringing in four players to the squad and four emergencies. NT Thunder are one of the teams to beat this season and it is expected at home they take the points in this one, but the Saints have plenty of exciting youngsters that are coming through, such as Caitlin Greiser who crossed from Melbourne University and booted two goals last round, and former AFL Women’s Academy member, Courtney Jones. The Thunder are favourites, but the Saints will be hoping to make it a tight contest.

NT Thunder

B: 50. A. Sheridan, 33. T. Thorn, 31. A. Stanley
HB: 23. E. Miller, 9. L. Jeffrey, 15. D. Ponter
C: 13. L. Roberts, 21. K. Irvine, 12. K. Streader
HF: 11. J. Hickey, 10. A. Chittick,
F: 17. S. Bishop, 7. M. Ellis, 27. A. Considine
R: 20. J. Hewett, 47. A. Hatchard, 1. M. Johnston
Int: 4. K. Duggan, 24. S. Hoogeveen-Hill, 42. H. Martin, 5. M. Roberts, 48. K. Rosenzweig
Emg: 32. B. Byers, 29. C. Deegan
23P: 2. J. Baird

In: B. Byers, A. Hatchard, C. Deegan, D. Ponter, A. Sheridan, H. Martin,
K. Duggan
Out: M. Rajcic, T. Holtze, D. Varnhagen, C. Randall, A. Foley

Southern Saints

B: 26. F. Steiert, 47. F. Hocking, 11. H. Stuart
HB: 30. E. Keaney, 41. R. Neaves, 4. G. Ricardo
C: 22. C. Jones, 2. A. Brown, 20. K. O’Neill
HF: 35. L. McCarthy, 15. T. Bohanna, 16. K. Thompson
F: 49. A. Allsopp, 43. C. Greiser, 10. J. Vogt
R: 12. C. Fitzpatrick, 8. A. Drennan, 7. C. Phillips
Int: 5. D. Jolliffe, 31. T. Lucas-Rodd, 3. D. Smith, 18. O. Vesely
Emg: 34. G. De Angelis, 17. L. Olsen, 36. J. Owen, 46. S. Ryan
23P: 48. J. Kelly

In: L. Olsen, T. Lucas-Rodd, S. Ryan, D. Smith

 

WILLIAMSTOWN v. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Round 2 – 18/05/2019
07:00
Downer Oval

Neither of these sides took part in Round 1 and therefore have a clean slate heading into this Round 2 contest. Williamstown look likely to struggle this season after the off-season losses, while the Western Bulldogs have also lost some big names. The Seagulls’ combination of Mo Hope and Aliesha Newman, two players who have the X-factor and bring plenty of excitement to the team and crowd. While Newman is the only currently listed AFLW player, the Seagulls also have the likes of former Bendigo Pioneers skipper Megan Williamson and Western Jet, Ruby Tripodi, the latter of who is making her debut in the game. The Western Bulldogs have a good core of AFLW players in their team, and will look to Bonnie Toogood – who has been named in defence, alongside Hayley Wildes and Naomi Ferres. First round pick last year, Eleanor Brown has also been named in the Bulldogs’ midfield. The Bulldogs will be favourites, but this is a game the Seagulls can win.

Williamstown

B: 19. E. Meade, 15. D. Pedersen, 30. A. Melnikas
HB: 1. R. Dardengo, 24. J. Thomson, 5. N. Wallace
C: 23. A. Shannon, 7. M. Williamson, 3. L. Suleiman
HF: 4. G. Anderson, 25. S. Whiting, 44. I. Porter
F: 12. S. Navarro, 17. M. Hope, 18. E. Straford
R: 20. S. Seabrook, 2. A. Newman, 6. J. Reid
Int: 38. S. Barbas, 14. K. Carew, 34. E. Crawford, 21. S. Dixon, 29. K. Koropeckyj, 22. M. Lowe, 16. J. Paten
23P: 39. R. Tripodi

Western Bulldogs

B: 35. S. Ruedin, 30. A. Tessari, 17. H. Wildes
HB: 51. R. Christgoergl , 8. B. Toogood, 29. J. Davies
C: 34. E. Mackay, 16. N. Ferres, 50. C. Mullins
HF: 33. S. Jolly, 32. T. Dinuccio, 39. M. Sandral
F: 38. J. Crundall, 44. M. Ward, 41. A. Scott
R: 47. N. McMahon, 9. E. Brown, 48. K. Betts
Int: 49. L. Bibby, 43. E. Gavalas, 31. A. Gunn, 26. D. Marshall
Emg: 54. J. Austin, 52. M. Chadwick, 42. L. Dundon, 53. A. Xanthos
23P: 46. K. McAloon

 

MELBOURNE UNI v. DAREBIN
Round 2 – 19/05/2019
02:30
Melbourne University Main Oval

These two sides come into the match with differing Round 1 results, after Melbourne Uni knocked off Geelong in a 44-point win, while Darebin fell to Richmond by 35 points. Holly Whitford, Ash Riddell and Jessica Trent are among the ins for the Mugars, while Melbourne AFLW ruck, Lauren Pearce comes in as a crucial inclusion for the Falcons against a side that is missing Emma King. Kate Gillespie-Jones will step up to the role and make it an entertraining contest, and with the likes of Jenna Bruton and Jasmine Garner in the midfield, the Mugars will be strong favourites in this clash. Darebin do not quite have the AFLW depth to match it with a premiership contender, but will be hoping the youth in the side such as former Eastern Ranges’ defender, Lauren Szigeti and former Kangaroo Jamie Stanton can have an impact. Stanton is playing against her former side and will be keen to prove a point in this game. Melbourne Uni should win this game with the firepower they have.

Melbourne Uni

B: 45. A. Arundel, 3. T. Mesiti, 17. E. Hay
HB: 32. C. Daniec, 37. K. Ebb, 13. A. Roan
C: 40. A. Runnalls, 36. N. Julian, 21. J. Trend
HF: 19. J. Grierson, 57. A. Price, 14. M. McDonald
F: 38. K. Angelis, 22. J. Anwyl, 7. A. Riddell
R: 5. K. Gillespie-Jones, 35. J. Bruton, 25. J. Garner
Int: 4. L. Amelung, 34. K. Cox, 18. A. Tupper, 16. H. Whitford
Emg: 47. M. Hare, 52. M. Shone, 51. J. Tancred, 50. S. Webb
23P: 39. V. Saad

In: S. Webb, H. Whitford, J. Trend, A. Riddell, K. Ebb
Out: E. King

Darebin

B: 19. R. Hibbert, 21. K. Roe, 16. B. Kennedy
HB: 34. R. Hicks, 32. G. Colvin, 7. L. Szigeti
C: 1. E. Honybun, 9. M. Eastman, 15. A. Lister
HF: 17. S. Simpson, 22. G. Hammond, 23. M. Wilson
F: 39. S. David, 31. E. Gardner, 37. E. McLaughlin
R: 40. L. Pearce, 33. J. Stanton, 43. N. Wolfe
Int: 56. R. Ashley, 36. E. Buckley, 18. C. Byrne, 28. A. Morrow
Emg: 46. R. Coombs, 25. C. Delbridge, 55. M. Hubbard, 50. M. Suzuki
23P: 57. P. Kearney

In: L. Pearce, R. Coombs, M. Suzuki, R. Hicks
Out: S. Fairchild

Taking opportunities pays off for Katie Lynch

IN the midst of Year 12, Katie Lynch had a lot on her plate.

She featured in the TAC Cup Girls competition, represented Vic Metro, played for Collingwood in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition and balanced school sport commitments as well. Although it was a difficult situation to be in for Lynch, she says she had no choice but to take those opportunities that came her way.

“Obviously I was a bit under the pump earlier in the year, well at least I put myself under the pump,” Lynch said. “I had the opportunities come my way and I just had to take them and I thought I did that pretty well so it’s got me here. “I’m proud of myself.”

Now, she finds herself on Collingwood’s AFL Women’s list, with the club selecting her with pick 10 in the draft. Lynch says although it was unexpected, she was relieved to hear her name being called out on draft day.

“It was obviously really exciting, probably something I didn’t expect either,” she said. “But I heard my name get read out and yeah it was just a real relieving feeling I guess but I’m excited to get started.”

Lynch has already experienced playing for the Magpies, having played with them in the VFLW, meaning she will be able to continue playing with some familiar faces. This also signals a new opportunity for Lynch to mingle with the new draftees, who she regards quite highly.

“There’s some really exciting players that we’ve drafted as well,” Lynch said. “We’ve got Jordy Allen so I’m just excited, everyone’s great, I know a lot of the faces there which will really help.”

The 18 year-old admits the VFL experience, along with the TAC Cup Girls and AFL Women’s Under 18 competitions, have helped her adapt to different game styles. This is something that she hopes will hold her in good stead for her upcoming stint in the AFL Women’s.

“TAC Cup, Metro, VFL, they all bring a different kind of game,” Lynch said. “They’re each unique in their own way so it was kind of interesting trying to adapt to each game style. “But at the end of the day, you’re just playing footy so it was good.”

Despite the simplicity of playing the game, Lynch admits she is is still coming to terms with being an AFL Women’s footballer, not accustomed to the prestigious title.

“It’s pretty surreal, hard to believe, really,” she said. “But I guess I’ll start believing it once everything really kicks off into pre-season but at the moment, it’s really surreal.”

Growing up as a Richmond supporter, Lynch has quickly adapted to the black and white, donning the stripes for both the Oakleigh Chargers and Collingwood Magpies this year. Now she will have the opportunity to continue to dominate in those colours at the highest level.

Hanks excited about her next football chapter

NEW Melbourne midfielder, Tyla Hanks has experienced it all coming into her first AFL Women’s season.

After enduring a winless 2017 season with the Gippsland Power, her side improved to a 3-5 season this year. Hanks also represented Vic Country and spent some time with Carlton’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side, leading the way in disposals in her first match. The 18 year-old admits she knew going to Melbourne was something that could happen, but nonetheless is thrilled to be able to pull on the Demons jumper in 2019.

“I didn’t really know what was going to happen before that pick but yeah, I’m really excited to be there and definitely think it’s a place that’s going to be really good for me,” Hanks said.

Hanks was one of the first names to be called out on draft day, walking up on stage as a pick six selection for the Demons. When she realised she had got drafted, a mixture of emotions overwhelmed her.

“It’s a really amazing feeling but it’s pretty raw sometimes,” Hanks said. “It’s a lot of relief once you’re up there so really looking forward to it.”

This milestone also brings an element of sadness though, as Hanks will leave her beloved Gippsland Power to pursue an AFL Women’s career. Gippsland experienced a nice form turnaround this year, getting a couple of wins along the way. Despite being busy with the Demons, the Power midfielder hopes to come back to the club and help out its next generation.

“It was a pretty big turnaround for us but yeah I’m really excited for what they can do in the coming years,” Hanks said. “I was really happy to be a part of that and I’ll still try and keep contact with Gippsland Power and keep helping the development out there.”

Hanks also reflects on her time at Carlton and the AFL Women’s Academy, citing both as memorable and helpful experiences.

“I think playing against Geelong (in the VFLW) really helped me,” she said. “So did the AFL Academy, I think learning about the whole environment really held us in good stead.”

Now a Demon, Hanks of course admires the work of Daisy Pearce. But she also has another player in mind that she is looking forward to playing alongside.

“I think Lily Mithen’s someone that’s a really good character in the group,” Hanks said. “Even though Daisy Pearce will be out, hopefully she’ll still be around and I’ll learn a little bit off her.”

Season reviews: VFLW – Western Bulldogs

THE Western Bulldogs took a while to get going in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season. But when they got going, they looked unstoppable, winning six consecutive games to get their season back on track. With seven wins and seven losses in their first season of VFLW, the Dogs can be happy with their 2018 campaign.

 

Position: 6th
Win-loss: 7-7
Percentage: 84%

Results:

Round 1: Lost against Richmond by 38 points
Round 2: Lost against Carlton by 46 points
Round 3: Bye
Round 4: Lost against Collingwood by eight points
Round 5: Lost against NT Thunder by 36 points
Round 6: Defeated Williamstown by 56 points
Round 7: Defeated Casey Demons by three points
Round 8: Defeated Geelong Cats by 22 points
Round 9: Defeated Melbourne University by 21 points
Round 10: Defeated Essendon by six points
Round 11: Defeated Williamstown by 40 points
Round 12: Bye
Round 13: Lost against Southern Saints by 31 points
Round 14: Lost against Hawthorn by 55 points
Round 15: Lost against Melbourne University by 33 points
Round 16: Defeated Darebin by four points

 

Key players:

#10 Sarah Jolly

Jolly impressed with her run and carry through the midfield and ability to win the ball in congestion. She played all 14 games this season and kicked six goals. Jolly was also named in the best four times, with one of her standout performances coming in Round 10 when she racked up 20 disposals.

#16 Naomi Ferres

Ferres was one of the Bulldogs’ most consistent midfielders all season, consistently going in hard for the football. She won the Western Bulldogs’ Best and Fairest count on 76 votes, highlighting her ability to capture the attention of others. Ferres had an impressive performance against the Mugars with 20 disposals, two marks and six tackles.

#18 Libby Birch

Birch continued her great AFL Women’s form in defence with the Bulldogs’ VFLW side. She was agile and great in the air and impressed with her run and carry as well as her marking. She came third in the Western Bulldogs Best and Fairest count and made the VFLW Team of the Year, which is a remarkable effort considering she only played eight games this season. One of her best games was in Round 6, when she gathered 19 disposals, took six marks and laid two tackles.

#20 Ashleigh Guest

Guest never disappointed in the midfield for the Bulldogs, impressing with her football smarts. She had clean hands under pressure and kicked the ball well too. Like Birch, she only played eight games this season, but she finished ahead of the defender in the Best and Fairest, coming second with 60 votes. Guest was named in the best five times, with one of her stellar performances coming against Darebin. In that game, she led the way on the ground with 23 disposals, and also took six marks to go along with her four tackles.

#47 Nicole McMahon

In her first year of football, McMahon looked right at home in Bulldogs colours. She was trusted with the ruck duties for the season, and did well to give her midfielders first use of the football. She was awarded the Best First Year player at the Bulldogs’ Best and Fairest after a great year.

 

Season summary:

The Bulldogs looked in trouble at the start of the season, losing their first four games. But after this, the side kicked into gear, bringing some of its AFL Women’s talent back in to score some much-needed wins. From Round 6, the Dogs won six straight games and looked like possible finals contenders at that point. But a couple of late losses gave them a sixth place finish, which is a respectable feat in their first season of VFLW.