Tag: zoe prowse

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Hisense Triple Treat

A TRIPLE-header at Hisense Stadium will allow South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s fans to watch three games back-to-back on Saturday in a massive day of action following a blockbuster Friday night fixture this evening. For Round 1 losers, one of South Adelaide or Norwood will at least get points on the board in season 2021, while for Round 1 winners, Glenelg and North Adelaide, something will have to give when they clash in the second game tomorrow.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Friday, March 5 @ 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

Two of the SANFL Women’s most successful teams over the first four seasons go head-to-head after losing their opening round matches in South Adelaide and Norwood. Two-time back-to-back premiers and then reigning grand finalists, South Adelaide will lock horns with Norwood who took it up to West Adelaide last week, but much like the Panthers against the Roosters, were unable to get the job done against pretty stiff opposition. Now the teams head in with a few changes to try and grab their first points of the season.

The home team will have to overcome the loss of key midfielder, Czenya Cavouras who is unavailable for the match, joining Alannah Rochow as unavailabilities, and Brooke Kleinig as omissions from the Round 1 loss. Tough midfielder/forward Madison Bennett returns to the team, with the 21-year-old bringing plenty of experience to the side, whist at the other end of the scale, Amy Gore (four games) and Tess Huxtable (debut) are both in, as Gore has been named on an extended bench, and Huxtable thrown into a forward pocket. Tamara Page and Madison Ross have also been included. For Norwood, they have brought in versatile utility Mattea Breed who was an emergency in the first game, and Lana Schwerdt, who have replaced Lindsay Bigg and Kassandra Stroh in the side.

The ruck battle between Leah Cutting and Montana McKinnon will be a fascinating one, as two strong opponents not will to take a backwards step going head-to-head. Jaslynne Smith looks the heir apparent to the missing Cavouras in midfield, with the natural ball-winner and reliable defender joining Nicole Campbell and Renee Moon onball, while Norwood have thrown a splash of youth in there for the team sheet as forward Jade Halfpenny and fellow teenager Sarah Branford make their way into the midfield alongside the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

South Adelaide had enough chances against North last week, the Panthers could not quite make them stick going inside 50, while Norwood won all the key stats, but the West Adelaide defence was incredible with holding up and driving the ball back. If the Redlegs can get the ball in the hands of runners such as Alana Lishmund or Isabel Martin going forward, the inclusion of Breed gives them another athletic target, while the Panthers have Gypsy Schirmer as the X-factor in the front half, with the top-age talent joining the likes of Lauren Clifton and Tahlita Buethke as young guns will to move the ball quickly in transition and set up scoring opportunities.

Both these sides looked pretty good last week and it looks to be an even contest, though the loss of Cavouras will hurt the Panthers. Norwood might have the upper hand if their midfield can click, but it will be whether South can make more of its chances going forward.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
Saturday, March 6 @ 10.40am
Hisense Stadium

In the first of a triple-header at Hisense Stadium, the ultra-impressive Central District go head-to-head with Sturt to open a Super Saturday of matches. The Double Blues do not mind getting their hands dirty and restricting the opposition from scoring with the defence their strongest area. It makes for a fascinating contrast with the Bulldogs running-and-gunning it to have a number of multiple goalkickers in Round 1 and build on their 2020 season where they showed signs that they were keen to take the game on. Coming off a wooden spoon last season, the Bulldogs not only look to have built on their game, but genuinely were as impressive as any other side in the opening week, and it will be interesting to see how they go second-up, while the Double Blues will make some adjustments after the loss to Glenelg.

Central District have not needed to force a change, heading into tomorrow’s clash with an extended bench. Former vice-captain and talented mover Gemma Doughty returns to the side with Amber James the other key in as the 21-year-old looks to make her mark in the side along with the other blossoming youth. Unfortunately for Sturt, Lane Trenorden is out due to a finger injury, while Nicole Baker is also out of the game, and the Double Blues have opted for an extended bench with the return of bottom-age talent Tiah Hough who is still only 16-years-old, as well as the potential debut of another 16-year-old in Georgia Hamilton. Alysha Healy also comes in to provide some experience in the front half, while over-ager Allani Dawes is the other inclusion for the visiting side.

Hough has been thrown in the deep end to join Alisha Gepp onball after the latter had a solid introduction to SANFL Women’s action with 11 touches and three clearances on debut last week. 18-year-old Gepp is the oldest of the three named onballers with top-age talent Zoe Prowse standing out in her new midfield-ruck split role and one that Central will need to watch in this game. Sturt have an abundance of youth that makes them a potential to really go far, with their opponents Central District also showing off their young talent. In the front half, the strong hands of Lauren Breguet and the perfect small forward game from Laitiah Huynh in Central’s win over Woodville-West Torrens were eye-catching, and Madison Lane has the potential to cross paths with fellow South Australian Academy member, Georgia Swan in the Bulldogs’ defence.

Central District’s hardened midfield with captain Shelby Smith leading the way, and Lauren Smith and Caitlen Teague joining her in there, will make life difficult for the younger Sturt onballers. Key forward targets in Kaitlyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds give the Bulldogs a bit of firepower in the front half along with the medium and small forwards, and perhaps the fact Rosenzweig went goalless in the opening round, and the Bulldogs still had a comfortable win, was the most pleasing considering in past years she has held up the attack. Sturt’s defence has the youth of Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard there to use their footskills to get out of trouble, as well as captain Maya Rigter‘s experience to settle the team down, meaning the Bulldogs will still need to use the ball well going forward. For Sturt, it is about getting their hands on it and keeping possession to spend more time inside 50 and create opportunities.

Central District looked so dangerous last week and the Bulldogs style could match up against a lot of teams, so Sturt’s defence will be tested again this week, though the addition of youth to the side will also make Sturt just as exciting going forward.

GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 6 @ 12.25pm
Hisense Stadium

Two Round 1 winners go head-to-head when Glenelg takes on North Adelaide in the second game of the triple-header tomorrow. The Bays made a statement in the opening round with a strong victory over Sturt, while the Roosters unfurled the flag and claimed the points over South Adelaide to remind teams that even without their AFL Women’s talent of last year, they are still a force to be reckoned with in 2021. The match will be a great test for Glenelg to see where they are at when the go up against the benchmark of the Roosters, while North Adelaide will now test themselves against a side that showed it can pile on the goals when required.

Glenelg will head in with at least a couple of chances, as Molly Affolter returns for the Bays to give them a leg-up in the ruck after the team was smashed in the area last week against Sturt. Casie Coombe and Shae Partington also return to the side as part of an extended bench. For North Adelaide, they have kept it simple with the loss of Kate Ferguson to an ankle injury, and Flagstaff Hill’s Carli Morton gets her chance to debut in Round 2.

The North lineup has very few holes in it, with Kelly Barltrop returning successfully last week and being that forward target, while captain Kristi Harvey has the potential to play at either end, named at centre half-forward but could very easily be thrown back into defence. With the experience of Talia Radan, and the ever-improving Erin Sundstrom back there, the Roosters have some great intercepting ability. Jaimi Tabb and Kate Case are among the young guns going through the team, with Case enjoying the role through the defensive half of the ground last week, and rotating with the likes of another State Academy member in Julia Clark, while at the other end, Brianna Arthur and Cristie Castle have the potential to rotate through midfield or forward.

Glenelg’s inside midfield will need to find a way to contain young gun Hannah Ewings who dominated in Round 1 against the Panthers, but also cannot allow the experienced Leah Tynan or Lauren Daniel to get off the chain either. Ellie Kellock and Sam Franson were ever-reliable, with the latter hitting the scoreboard with multiple goals to go with plenty of touches in an impressive effort. Young talents Tessa Kohn and Brooke Tonon roll through the inside and outside midfield as well as in various spots around the ground for the Bays, while not enough has been said about the debut of 15-year-old Piper Window who racked up 13 touches, two inside 50s and laid four tackles in her first SANFL Women’s match. If the Bays can use the likes of Tonon, Tamsyn Morriss and Window to work the ball forward, they will give the front six the chance to match it with the Roosters on the scoreboard.

As good as Glenelg was last week, penetrating the North Adelaide defence is like entering the final boss battle on a game. If the Bays can do that and kick a winning score, then they will be considered a genuine premiership contender, but the Roosters are the team to beat, and the reigning premiers will be favourites in this game.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, March 6 @ 2.10pm
Hisense Stadium

The final match of the triple-header features the actual home team for the triple-header in West Adelaide, looking to go 2-0 against a Woodville-West Torrens side that was soundly beaten by Central District’s run in Round 1. The Bloods on the other hand were able to take care of Norwood in a tight encounter, and with an abundance of youth, look to be one of the title contenders in season 2021.

The Eagles have lost Audrey Holt to injury for the Round 2 game, while 15-year-old Marlie Fiegert has been recalled, along with the crucial inclusion of some experience in veteran, Renee Forth. Panagiota Pipinis also comes into the Eagles side, as the team heads in with some versatile options before running out on the ground. West Adelaide has lost a crucial player in Ailish Considine, one of the two outs with Samantha Ramm. Back into the side however is key forward Chelsea Biddell who comes back from Adelaide Crows duties, joining a host of players on an extended bench such as State Academy member Tamika May, 16-year-old Charlie Scutchings, 18-year-old Niamh Davis, and potential debutant, Madelyn Zacher who arrives from Adelaide University.

Make no mistake, West Adelaide is a huge chance to win the lot this season, and being able to include Biddell at this level is a massive boost to the side that unleashed Lauren Young into the SANFL Women’s world in Round 1. The fact Young is only 15 and did what she was able to do – lead the league in disposals, marks and rebounds – shows how promising her future is, and she is a name that will be talked about in the coming years. Jovanka Zecevic will lead a midfield looking to contain the likes of Young, and with the help of Stephanie Walker and Forth who could roll through their with their experience, the visitors hope to get on top through that area. Kiana Lee was impressive as that contested marking defender, but is more than suited to playing at full-forward, which is somewhere that fellow youngster Brooklyn Kraft has been named to test herself.

Charlotte Dolan continued to improve to kick-off the season last week with some line-breaking runs to team up with Anastasia Falkenberg and Natasha Holmes who can all find the football. Similarly, Jamie Parish is capable of taking a forward one-on-one and then running off them to provide good link-up work in transition, but she will have her hands full between the twin towers in Melanie Elsegood and Biddell down there. Up the other end, Sharnie Whiting slotted in seamlessly to the defence and will be that intercept option at centre half-back, while Keeley Kustermann and Zoe Venning at opposite flanks have the potential to role through the midfield with their counter contrasting abilities of clean and composed, and hard and uncompromising giving the Westies plenty to like about their side in 2021.

West Adelaide look like one of the top teams in the competition that could build on its preliminary final exit in 2020, and therefore will be favourites to take this game out, while the Eagles will be a better side with their inclusions, but will be tested against the strength of West Adelaide, so will have a good idea of where they stand with one of the potential title contenders after the match.

Picture credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL

2021 SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 1

NORTH Adelaide and Central District lead all-comers in terms of nominations for the Draft Central South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Team of the Week for Round 1. The competition kicked off in style over the weekend, with the Roosters and Bulldogs both picking up impressive wins, whilst fellow Round 1 winners, Glenelg and West Adelaide had three players apiece. Round 2 losers, South Adelaide and Norwood also had three apiece, while Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens were on the end of bigger losses but still had the two players.

North Adelaide’s premiership defence started off in style with a strong win over their grand final victims, South Adelaide on Friday night. The defence was on-point with Talia Radan and Kristi Harvey both named in the Team of the Week back six, alongside teammates, Hannah Ewings and Lauren Daniel. Ewings was the second best performed player of the round, and earned the vice-captain nod, quite the achievement for a 16-year-old.

Central District showed how much it had improved on last year’s wooden spooner effort, with also having four players in the team. Lauren Smith has been named in midfield, while the dynamic tall-small duo of Chantel Reynolds and Laitiah Huynh are deep forward after combining for five goals. Another youngster in Lauren Breguet has made her way onto the bench.

West Adelaide debutant Lauren Young might be only 15-years-old but showed age is no barrier to talent, with the teenager earning the captaincy nod following a clear best on ground performance against Norwood. In the Bloods’ win, Young played between midfield and defence, and led the league in disposals, rebounds and marks for Round 1. Other West Adelaide players in the side are Adelaide’s Ailish Considine off half-back, and Sharnie Whiting who also rounds out the back six with a distinct West flavour.

The final winning side in Glenelg had three players in the team, with forward/midfielder Sam Franson, key target Chelsea Packer, and midfielder Jess Bates all earning a nod in the opening round. In terms of the losers, Norwood had a trio of players this week are through the midfield, with ruck Leah Cutting and midfielders, Sophie Armitstead and Elisha Gallagher making the side. South Adelaide’s trio of Nicole Campbell, Renee Moon and Gypsy Schirmer made their way into the side despite the defeat, in what was an even team performance from the Panthers and many that could easily have been included.

From the heavier losses, Sturt’s Larissa Schenscher joined Zoe Prowse in the Team of the Week, while Woodville-West Torrens’ Natasha Holmes and Kiana Lee both earned places in the 24-player squad. In terms of the emergencies, South Adelaide’s Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg, Glenelg’s Ellie Kellock and Sturt’s Isobel Kuiper were the nominated players.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 1

B: Talia Radan (NA) – Kristi Harvey (NA) – Sharnie Whiting (WA)
HB: Ailish Considine (WA) – Lauren Young (WA) (c) – Larissa Schenscher (ST)
C: Nicole Campbell (SA) – Lauren Smith (CD) – Renee Moon (SA)
HF: Gypsy Schirmer (SA) – Chelsea Packer (GL) – Natasha Holmes (WWT)
F: Sam Franson (GL) – Chantel Reynolds (CD) – Laitiah Huynh (CD)
R: Leah Cutting (NW) – Sophie Armitstead (NW) – Hannah Ewings (NA) (vc)
INT: Jess Bates (GL) – Lauren Breguet (CD) – Lauren Daniel (NA) – Elisha Gallagher (NW) – Kiana Lee (WWT) – Zoe Prowse (ST)

EMG: Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg (SA) – Ellie Kellock (GL) – Isobel Kuiper (ST)

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s – Round 1

SOUTH Australia has plenty of young talent that is impressing at South Australian National Football League (SANFL) level. With four games played every weekend, we will cast our eyes over how the 2021 State Academy – including initial squad members – perform each week. In some cases, such as Lauren Young this week, there might be some young guns who are below the age to be in the Under 19s Academy, but have impressed enough to feature in the article. All notes are the opinion of the author.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE

North Adelaide:

#31 Hannah Ewings

Not only the standout on the ground in North Adelaide’s victory over South Adelaide, but across the entire SANFL Women’s competition. The 16-year-old has such an outstanding balance between offence and defence that she is a readymade talent despite having two seasons remaining before being draft-eligible. Her acceleration around the stoppage to cleanly win the ball and put it forward is terrific, but she is just as touch, with some fierce tackles and contested work at ground level and in the air. Her degree of kicking between low bullets and longer kicks is another string in her bow, and she is clean at ground level which makes her so hard to stop because opponents know what she is going to do, but it is hard to legally stop her before she does it.

#33 Julia Clark

The courageous defender worked hard throughout the contest, and earned a free kick for backing into a marking contest. She matched Gypsy Schirmer in the air early in the game, and while Schirmer got her back later in the game with a fierce tackle across the line, the pair had a fascinating battle when one-on-one. She was sold into trouble a couple of times by her teammates, but played a bit of everywhere including running hard forward to have a dribble goal attempt in the third term only to just miss. She kept pushing right to the final siren.

#38 Kate Case

The outside midfielder who also could roll off half-back kept the ball moving in transition well. She was able to run down Schirmer at half-back but unfortunately fell in her back in doing so. Whilst making the odd decision making error, when she was on the move she looked dangerous and was able to read the ball well in the air such as the 10-minute mark of the third term where she intercepted back in the defensive hole and kicked well to half-back. She would continue to run hard for the full four quarters.

South:

#1 Tahlita Buethke

After a quiet first half, Buethke came alive in the second half of the Panthers’ loss, which started with a long kick from half-back to half-forward. She had a few almost-highlights with a big fly nine minutes into the third term, and had sent the ball long to the goalsquare which almost created a goal-scoring opportunity. The final quarter became highlight-reel stuff, when she picked the ball off the deck and burst away to centre half-forward, then burst from congestion to snap on goal, and moments ladder lead up and took a confident mark just inside 50. Whilst her two attempts on goal fell short or were passed, she finished with a lovely kick into Jess Kirk inside 50 in what was an eye-catching second half.

#5 Sarah Wright

The versatile talent returned for her first game since her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury and had a solid return. Whilst not racking up a ton of it, she often put herself in the way and was able to lay some good tackles. She was sold into trouble once or twice by her teammates, but made the best of it where possible. Her best play came in close where she received the handball in defence and spun her opponent around and kicked effectively to half-back. She finished with a good intercept mark at half-forward to kick inside 50.

#36 Gypsy Schirmer

No surprise that the AFL Women’s Academy member was the standout Panther in terms of her ball-winning and football smarts. After starting off a forward flank, Schirmer moved into the midfield – specifically the wing at times – where she was able to dictate the flow of transition from defence to offence. Her footy IQ is high that she can read the ball from the taps and get into the right positions, or use her speed to worry opponents. Schirmer copped a number of big knocks in the match, but kept getting up and had a number of moments that were memorable. She provided a couple of scoring shots, including a perfect handball under pressure inside 50 that resulted in a goal in the second term, and then nailed a pass late in the game inside 50. She won her fair share of one-on-ones and once the ball hits the ground is as hard to stop as anyone given her acceleration.

#41 Lauren Clifton

Clifton was reliable in defence and composed as a whole, with the only moment she would like to have back coming in the third term where she marked at half-back with two minutes on the clock, and played on only to be run down with an opponent on her. The ball turned over and went through for a Roosters goal, which was unlucky for Clifton who had been mopping up a lot of loose balls in the back 50. Otherwise she was not deterred from moving the ball quickly and she did just that in the third term, winning a free kick for in the back midway through the third term, and then hit her targets in the final term when North was attacking.

 

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE

Norwood:

#15 Alana Lishmund

While not picking up big numbers of disposals, Lishmund was playing an outside role and then going in to create some class at the stoppages. She showed great hands and vision at half-forward to pass it off to a teammate streaming inside 50 midway through the first term. Lishmund’s sticky hands were on show in the third term where she took a strong mark on the second juggle and moved it to the danger sport quickly. A great tackle in the final term forced an opponent to mis-kick and turn the ball back over for her side.

#22 Jade Halfpenny

The marking forward did not need long to have an impact despite West Adelaide being on top across the game, taking a great one-on-one mark midway through the opening term. She protected the ball drop and clutched it to her chest, then moved it on to kick to a one-on-one in the goalsquare. Halfpenny showed clean hands at ground level and was able to punch a low kick into the forward 50, then in the third term showed her athleticism with a spin one way and then the other to five it off to a teammate cleanly. She worked hard later in the quarter to get to the right spot, win the ball but unfortunately scrubbed the kick, though she backed up in the last quarter by helping out in defence and moving the ball quickly in a more direct fashion.

#30 Sarah Branford

In terms of touches, Branford had a quiet game. This did not mean she was not involved though, seemingly around the contests a fair bit and applying good pressure and using her body right. It was just a couple of times she might have overrun the ball or could not cleanly grab it, but once she had the footy, she was able to do something with it. Late in the final quarter, Branford picked it up in the middle, spun and kicked inside 50, hitting a target perfectly.

West Adelaide:

#8 Keeley Kustermann

Like a number of players in the game, had her moments without being at her absolute damaging best. Her kicking is still a treat to watch and when she gets going she is so balanced with her disposal and cleanliness at ground level. She laid a great run-down tackle in the opening term, and continued to go hard at the contest throughout the match. She might have uncharacteristically rushed the odd kick here or there, but the moments that stuck with spectators would be her dance moves late in the third term, getting around opponents to kick clear to Lauren Young, and then hit up her younger teammate with a perfect delivery going inside 50.

#9 Zoe Venning

Had a huge first term where she was involved everywhere, winning the ball in close at the stoppage and her kick inside 50 led to the first goal six minutes into the contest. She was the recipient of a free kick for being held, and kept presenting as an option around the ground. She hit up Young inside 50 on the lead and was being a driving force to get her team going in the first half. Venning had a shot on goal midway through the third term but unfortunately for her the ball bounced the opposite way. She was quieter in the second half, but still showed great courage by standing under a high ball early in the half, and then taking the contact and creating a contest at ground level. Overall was a strong performer early.

#30 Lauren Young

The standout player across the SANFL Women’s in Round 1, it is hard to believe that Young was on debut. Rotating between midfield and defence, she was everywhere to the point of where it almost looked like West Adelaide had invented cloning. She was involved at stoppages, then if the ball turned over and there was a kick in defensive 50, somehow she was back in the hole to mop up. Rebounding time and time again, there was not much you could fault in her game, which happens when you top the league in disposals, marks and rebounds on debut. The only couple of moments where she was beaten was getting caught under the ball in a marking contest early in the second term and getting pinged for trying to dance around one too many opponents close to goal, but otherwise it was an ultra-impressive effort. Her work rate and footy smarts are through the roof, and she can read the ball in flight and take some strong grabs. Managing to win touches in all thirds of the ground, it is hard to believe she still has three seasons at SANFL Women’s level left before being able to step up to the elite level.

 

STURT vs. GLENELG

Sturt:

#3 Georgia Swan

The forward had a quieter day as did most Sturt forwards, but she got involved when the ball came into her vicinity. She held her ground late in the second term in a marking contest with Tamsyn Morriss and won a free kick for front on contact. She took a set shot from just inside 50 which was on target, but it fell short though the Double Blues goaled anyway. The third quarter was her best term, picking up the majority of her touches, and kicking a great goal off the ground doubling back to goal, which came five minutes after she missed on doing the same thing. She gets to the right places, but the game was difficult for the Double Blues’ forwards.

#19 Alex Ballard

Standing off the back of the stoppages, Ballard would mop up the ball a few times and kick it clear up forward. She did not have her usual time and space she has when kicking out of defence, but she still took a strong intercept mark six minutes into the third term and deliver into Swan.

#20 Hannah Prenzler

Had a great first term where she was racking up the ball and getting involved everywhere. She would run past teammates and look to drive the ball up the ground, with her composure and ability to hit targets by hand or foot the strength in her game. In the last minute of the first quarter she had a fantastic run through the middle and kicked to a leading teammate inside 50. Laying a great tackle to lock up the ball in the second term, Prenzler was a little quieter later in the game, but was ever-present around the stoppages and still providing rebound and an option out of defence.

#30 Zoe Prowse

Starting in her new role as a midfielder then going back into the ruck in intervals, Prowse ended up having the best of both worlds. The AFL Women’s Academy member has the athleticism to impact in the ruck, but also outbody opponents at ground level, and her ferocity at the ball carrier and second efforts are a highlight of her game. She took a strong contested mark over the back late in the opening term, and continued to hit the aerial contests hard throughout the match. She would occasionally be pinged for holding the ball, but her clean taps and tackling was fantastic for a player of her size and shows just how versatile she could be.

Glenelg:

#7 Brooke Tonon

Providing run in the back half going forward, Tonon is aggressive with her disposal and tries to break the lines with her run. She won a number of free kicks – including a couple thanks to the last touch rule in the second term – and was able to hit targets on that 45-angle which was fantastic. Her disposal was clean and picked up a goal assist three minutes into the final term after receiving the handball and kicking long to a teammate in the danger zone. She did have a bit of a scrubber kick out of defence a few minutes later, but it worked out to a teammate and then side-stepped an opponent to kick forward midway through the final term.

#12 Tamsyn Morriss

Had a strong first half where she competed strongly one-on-one and was able to nullify a number of contests on the wing. If she did lose a marking contest – such as 14 minutes into the second term, Morriss dug deep with a second effort to win it back. She laid a number of fierce tackles or defensive acts throughout the match, and her body positioning, as well as her impact by foot are among the highlights of her game.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WWT EAGLES

Central:

#28 Lauren Breguet

Looked set for a massive day out after an eye-catching first term that saw her lead out and mark with confidence in the opening minutes and provide a goal assist for a teammate. Not long after, she was getting on the end of one after running hard deep inside 50, sidestepping an opponent and slotting it on the move with a celebration to match the effort. Another strong mark a couple of moments later looked ultra-impressive, though she went a bit too much on this occasion, was almost caught by her opponent when Breguet attempted to side-step, and had to give it off quickly. A defensive effort to lock the ball inside 50 later in the term showed her intensity as well. A second goal assist to a teammate with a lightning handball whilst under pressure less than five minutes into the term was another highlight-reel moment, and while her third quarter was quiet, her fourth term stepped up again with a couple of big marks on the lead and then was moved into the centre where she won the ball and handball quickly to a teammate.

#40 Madison Lane

Playing in defence, Lane did not have a great deal to do in fairness, but she had a mix of memorable moments, and one forgettable one. The only real blip on her performance was getting too close to the person on the mark in the back pocket and kicking off the side of the boot and out on the full. Other than that, her cleanliness at ground level and defensive intent – though giving away a free early – was great. She intercepted a ball on the win in the third term, spun around, was slung and won a free kick, which came after she ran down an opponent on the wing, forced a turnover and kept running as an option.

#41 Laitiah Huynh

Having seen her last season show some promising signs, this game felt like a special performance that was a huge sign of things to come from the tenacious speedster. Her defensive pressure was terrific, and whilst she has always had the break-neck speeds that catch the eye, Huynh matched it with getting to the right positions and remaining involved even when the game was not necessarily going her way. From the get-go she was active, and had her usual high-level tackling pressure on-point. She got into the right position at a forward stoppage for a teammate to tap to her unimpeded, and she was pushed in the back, then nailed the subsequent set shot from 30m out. Her second goal came following hard running forward and snap a goal with nine minutes down in the second quarter as a perfect crumbers’ goal. Expecting her to fade out in the second half as can be the case with smaller forwards, it was fantastic to see Huynh still remain busy and apply plenty of further defensive pressure and still win her fair share of the ball to round out the game.

Eagles:

#8 Charlotte Dolan

Into her second season at the level now, it is clear Dolan is starting to piece more and more together with extra experience. She is starting to really win more of the football in damaging areas and using her run-and-carry to advantage. As a premier athlete, she has the combination of speed and endurance which helps her burn off opponents, as well as a knack for applying great defensive pressure. While her kicking at times still needs some work, her courage and aptitude to the contest could not be questioned. Dolan just found space and made her own room at times, clean off the deck and taking off before an opponent could get to her. Even if she was caught, such as early in the second term, she found a way to get her hands free and dispose of it. A highlight was in the final term when she fended off a couple of opponents and kicked forward to hit a target.

#25 Jamie Parish

Using her bigger body to advantage, Parish built into the game after being quiet in the first term. She applied plenty of pressure to the opposition in the defensive half, and made sure she put body-on-body contact in marking contests. Parish is quick to dispose of the ball when she does win it, and is able to get into intercept marking positions. Predominantly winning it in the bak 50 or along half-back, Parish is another player who takes the game on and is willing to back herself.

#33 Brooklyn Kraft

Playing for her new team, Kraft was getting used to the new structures that come with a new midfield, but gained valuable minutes in the ruck role rather than being a more permanent forward. She was quick with her hands and able to dish off to teammates who could run the ball, and while she could still build on areas such as her contested marking, Kraft held her own at different points around the ground with her stoppage craft.

 

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

SANFL Women’s Round 1 wrap: Dogs and Bays impress as Roosters and Bloods knock off finals scalps again

FOR the first time in their history, Central District recorded the highest South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s score of the round, booting 8.5 (53) during a win against Woodville-West Torrens Eagles to wrap up a huge weekend of action. The Bulldogs showed why they will be a tough team to beat this season, scoring one more point than an equally impressive Glenelg outfit that raced to the top of the table with a 32-point win over Sturt. In the Saturday games of last year’s finalists, North Adelaide won by 21 points over South Adelaide, while West Adelaide defeated Norwood by 14 points.

NORTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 4.2 | 5.3 | 5.3 (33)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 0.3 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS:

North: K. Barltrop 2, T. Gordon 2, C. Castle.
South: N. Campbell.

DC BEST:

North: H. Ewings, T. Radan, E. Sundstrom, K. Harvey, L. Daniel, J. Tabb
South: G. Schirmer, C. Cavouras, N. Campbell, R. Moon, M. McKinnon. S. Flanagan-Sjoberg

Reigning premiers North Adelaide kicked off the 2021 season in style, with a 21-point victory over their grand final victims, South Adelaide. The Roosters kicked the only goal of the first term through Cristie Castle after three Panthers behinds to lead by three points at the first change. A Kelly Barltrop goal straight out of the blocks in the second term saw the Roosters extend the lead out to ads much as 10 points, before Nicole Campbell scored what would be the only South goal on the day. From there, it was all North Adelaide as Barltrop and Tayla Gordon booted three goals in the next 19 minutes, and by the two-minute mark of the third term, the Roosters were out to a 23-point lead. The 24-point final break advantage would be the most of the match, with three behinds to a desperate South in the final term not enough to overthrow the result.

The stats were fairly even in terms of ball-winning, but the Roosters were more efficient, running at 70 per cent compared to 63 per cent, whilst laying 12 more tackles (79-67). The five goals from eight scoring shots was far higher for the home side over the Panthers’ one from seven, but it was the Roosters’ defence that stood tall. South Adelaide dominated the inside 50s (34-26), hitouts (29-14) and clearances (22-17), but the reliable Roosters rebounded the ball 32 times to 21 to ensure they were able to hold up against the Panthers’ advances.

Young gun bottom-ager Hannah Ewings was unbelievable to kick-off the season, racking up 22 disposals, two marks, five tackles, five clearances, eight inside 50s and three rebounds in the win, whilst Kristi Harvey (12 disposals, five rebounds), Talia Radan (17 disposals, four rebounds) and Poppy Waterford (nine disposals, six rebounds) were among the steadfast defenders for the winners. New recruit Jaimi Tabb fitted in seamlessly with 14 disposals, seven tackles, three clearances and three rebounds, while Lauren Daniel (17 disposals, three rebounds) and Erin Sundstrom (17 disposals, three marks and four tackles) also found plenty of the ball.

For the Panthers, AFL Women’s Academy member Gypsy Schirmer had a day out driving the ball forward with 21 disposals, seven inside 50s and a whopping nine tackles in the loss, as Renee Moon came in and stood out thanks to 23 disposals, five clearances and three inside 50s. Campbell (16 disposals, three marks, five tackles, three clearances, three rebounds and a goal) was sensational once again, while Czenya Cavouras‘ tackling pressure (18 disposals, 11 tackles and three clearances) were crucial around the stoppages. Young guns, Tahlia Buethke (12 disposals, three inside 50s) and Montana McKinnon (11 disposals, 20 hitouts), and Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg (19 disposals, five marks and three inside 50s) also shone.

North Adelaide face Glenelg in the second of three games at Hisense Stadium next Saturday afternoon, while South Adelaide host Norwood on Friday night at Flinders University Stadium.

 

NORWOOD 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)
WEST ADELAIDE 1.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.6 (30)

GOALS:

Norwood: E. Drake, K. Fenton
West: A. Considine, M. Newman, B. Owen, G. Ramsay

BEST:

Norwood: L. Cutting, E. Clark. E. Drake. E. Gallagher, S. Armitstead, T. Maher
West: L. Young, M. Newman, A. Considine, Z. Venning, S. Whiting,. B. Owen

A remarkable performance from 15-year-old debutant Lauren Young, and a defence that was hard to penetrate has led to West Adelaide grabbing an important 14-point Round 1 win over Norwood on Friday night. The Bloods were consistent throughout the game, booting a goal in each of the four quarters, and whilst the Redlegs were never out of the contest, could not put enough on the board to surpass them, going down 4.6 (30) to 2.4 (16).

Adelaide AFL Women’s player Ailish Considine suited up for the Bloods and immediately made her presence felt with the first goal of the match seven minutes in. The reply came from Norwood’s Kate Fenton to put her team a point up midway through the term, before a couple of late behinds in favour of the Westies levelled the scores. After near misses from both sides in the second term, Madison Newman kicked truly and the visitors led by seven points at the main break. A low-scoring third term again saw West boot the one goal with Gretel Ramsay adding her name to the list of scorers, whilst an early final quarter goal to Elizabeth Drake cut the deficit to within seven points and give the home team a sniff, only for Bec Owen to kick truly five minutes later and shut the door on the contest.

Norwood’s ball use was strong, winning 13 more disposals at 68 per cent efficiency compared to West Adelaide’s 59 per cent. The Redlegs also dominated the hitouts (35-13) and inside 50s (34-21), but the defence of the Bloods was unbelievable, with 29 rebounds to 16, and scoring almost 50 per cent of the time they went inside 50. Norwood on the other hand could not fully capitalise on their dominance, and managed to score in less than 20 per cent of occasions the ball went inside 50.

All eyes were on the highly-touted Young coming into the side for her first League game, and she did not disappoint, recording a match-high 23 disposals, as well as nine marks – three contested – seven tackles, two clearances, five inside 50s and five rebounds to genuinely do it all for the Bloods. Considine showed why she can play at the highest level with 18 touches, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s, three rebounds and a goal, while boom recruit Sharnie Whiting was symbolic of the Bloods’ defence with six rebounds from 16 touches and two marks. Newman (13 disposals, four marks, nine tackles and three rebounds), Zoe Venning (13 disposals, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Owen (11 disposals, two tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s) were others who stood out.

Leah Cutting used all of her experience to dominate the ruck for the Redlegs with 33 hitouts and five clearances to accompany her 11 disposals, nine tackles and three inside 50s. Emma Clark (12 disposals, four marks, four tackles and five inside 50s) and Drake (11 disposals, four marks and four inside 50s) were busy in the front half, while Elisha Gallagher (16 disposals, three clearances and four inside 50s) and Sophie Armitstead (14 disposals, five tackles, six clearances and two inside 50s) were strong on the inside. Ex-Eagles talent Tesharna Maher also made a solid debut in Redlegs colours with 11 touches, two marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s.

Norwood head to Friday night lights once again when they take on South Adelaide at Flinders University Stadium, while West Adelaide play in the final of three games at Hisense Stadium on Saturday when they take on Woodville-West Torrens Eagles.

 

STURT 0.0 | 1.0 | 2.1 | 3.2 (20)
GLENELG 3.1 | 5.2 | 6.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS:

Sturt: G. Swan, A. Gepp, K. Harris.
Glenelg: C. Packer 3, C. Swanson 2, M. Freeman 2, S. Franson.

DC BEST:

Sturt: Z. Prowse, I. Kuiper, H. Prenzler, K, Mueller, A. Gepp, L. Schenscher
Glenelg: S. Franson, C. Packer, J. Bates, E. Kellock, M. Freeman, C. Swanson

Glenelg has kick-started its 2021 season with an impressive four-quarter performance against the Double Blues, defeating Sturt by 32 points at X Convenience Oval. The Bays booted five goals to one in the opening half to set up the win, and either levelled or won the four quarters to put together a commanding performance.

The first 30 minutes belonged to Glenelg as they piled on 5.1 to 0.0 in a complete domination. By the 12th minute mark of the second term, Chelsea Packer had two goals, as did Caitlyn Swanson, of whom the latter slotted back-to-back majors in the opening term. Madisyn Freeman also kicked an early goal in the second quarter, while Sam Franson was looking dangerous with a couple of behinds. It took until the 16th minute of the second term for Kate Harris to break the drought for Sturt.

Less than two minutes into the second half Franson added more pain to the Double Blues, then stretched the lead out to 33 points midway through the quarter. Georgia Swan responded late in the term, but Sturt was on the back foot, trailing by 26 points at the final break. Any chance of a comeback was soon stuffed out by Freeman three minutes into the final term, and then Packer slotted her third midway through the quarter for a game-high 38-point lead. Alisha Gepp scored a consolation goal in the dying minutes to reduce the final margin to 32 points, but the Tigers were too good with Glenelg securing the 8.4 (52) to 3.2 (20) victory.

Glenelg dominated possession with 41 more disposals, and also lifted the defensive intensity to lay 64-37 tackles in the match. Despite being overwhelmed in the hitouts (Sturt won 40-17), the Bays managed to shark the clearances (29-20) and absolutely smash the Double Blues in the inside 50s (37-12). To Sturt’s credit the defence held up best it could with 28 rebounds to eight, while the forwards managed to score five times from the 12 entries, while Glenelg scored 12 times from 37 entries.

Franson starred for the Bays, picking up 21 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, eight inside 50s and booting 1.3, as she and the likes of Packer (13 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and three goals), Freeman (eight disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s and two goals) and Swanson (eight disposals, two tackles and two goals) all hit the scoreboard multiple times. In midfield, Ellie Kellock (17 disposals, five clearances and three inside 50s), Jess Bates (14 disposals, seven tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s) and Tessa Kohn (10 disposals, three tackles and five clearances) were all strong.

For Sturt, it was no surprise to see Zoe Prowse dominating through the ruck with 20 hitouts to go with 13 touches, six tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s, teaming up well with Isobel Kuiper (18 disposals, four clearances) and Gepp (11 disposals, three marks and three clearances). Helping out in defence, Larissa Schenscher (11 disposals, four rebounds), Hannah Prenzler (seven disposals, four rebounds) and Maya Rigter (seven disposals, five rebounds) all tried hard to keep the game alive.

Sturt and Glenelg both head to Hisense Stadium in Round 2, with the Double Blues taking on Central District, while Glenelg face reigning premiers North Adelaide.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT 3.0 | 5.2 | 5.3 | 8.5 (53)
WWT EAGLES 2.1 | 3.1 | 3.3 | 4.3 (27)

GOALS:

Central: C. Reynolds 3, L. Huynh 2, P. Allan, N. Biagi, L. Breguet.
Eagles: E. Gianakis, A. Gooley, C. Whitington-Charity, J. Zecevic.

DC BEST:

Central: N. Biagi, L. Smith. C. Teague, L. Huyhn, C. Richards
Eagles: A. Falkenberg, N. Holmes, J. Zecevic, K. Lee, C. Dolan

Central District showed just how good it could be these season with an impressive performance against Woodville-West Torrens Eagles to notch up a Round 1 win by 26 points in front of home fans. Whilst the Eagles challenged the Bulldogs throughout the contest, a three goals to one final term saw the home team kick away and win, 8.5 (53) to 4.3 (27).

The Bulldogs signalled their intentions early with two quick goals – to Chantel Reynolds and Lauren Breguet – in the opening three minutes of play to race away to an early lead. Eli Gianakis was looking dangerous for the Eagles with an important goal midway through the term, before speedster Laitiah Huynh responded for the bulldogs. A late goal to Jovanka Zecevic saw the Eagles cut the quarter time margin to less than a kick. When Astrid Gooley kicked truly just 47 seconds into the second term, the Eagles had hit the front.

They would not kick another goal until the final term, as ex-Rooster Paige Allan kicked her first in Doggies colours, while Huynh scored a second for the home team to lead by 13 points at the main break. Neither team could put through a major in the premiership quarter, with the Eagles only cutting into the deficit by one point, but back-to-back goals to Reynolds – making it three for the day – and Nicola Biagi put the final nail in the coffin as a consolation goal to Chloe Whitington-Charity only reduced the final margin, with the Bulldogs getting up by just over four goals.

Central District dominated the disposals, with 50 more touches than their opponents, but it was their kick-first mentality (70.3 per cent kicks to Eagles’ 63.2 per cent) that made their efforts more effective. They also had more marks (47-39), tackles (48-37), hitouts (33-20), clearances (24-21), inside 50s (26-25) and rebounds (20-17) in a complete performance. A promising aspect of the Eagles’ play was the fact in many of their statistics they broke even, and had better ball efficiency (74 per cent to 69 per cent).

Lauren Smith led all-comers with 17 disposals, three marks, six tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while Caitlen Teague (16 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s) and Biagi (16 disposals, three marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) also won plenty of it. Youngsters, Huynh (12 disposals, five tackles, two clearances and two goals) and Breguet (11 disposals, five marks, two inside 50s and one goal) both hit the scoreboard and looked dangerous. Reynolds (eight disposals, three goals) managed to make the most of her chances, while Katelyn Rosenzweig (12 disposals, five marks and three behinds) could have been an equal threat with greater accuracy.

For the Eagles, Anastasia Falkenberg had 17 touches, four marks, five tackles, three clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds, teaming up well with Zecevic (18 disposals, three clearances and one goal) through midfield. The Eagles’ youngsters in Kiana Lee (14 disposals, six marks – four contested – two inside 50s and two rebounds), Charlotte Dolan (12 disposals, three marks, two tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s) and Jamie Parish (nine disposals, four marks, four tackles, two clearances and two rebounds) held their own in the match.

Next week the Bulldogs head to Hisense Stadium where they face Sturt in the opening game of a triple-header, while the Eagles meet West Adelaide in the final of the three matches there on on Saturday afternoon.

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Grand Final rematch opens season

AFTER a shorter-than-usual wait for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition to restart due to the delayed 2020 season, the eight sides are ready to go in 2021 starting tonight.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

What better way is there to open a new SANFL Women’s season than with a grand final rematch? The opening game of the double-header at Coopers Stadium sees North Adelaide take on South Adelaide in a massive clash. The Roosters will be able to unfurl the flag against the Panthers, which should give both teams plenty of motivation. It is worth noting that they will be without a number of AFL Women’s talents which means others will have the chance to step up in their place.

Full-forward Kelly Barltrop will be hungry for success after being unlucky to miss out on last year’s flag, while Kristi Harvey has been named at centre half-forward. With league best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard and leading goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland both playing for the Crows in the AFL Women’s the Roosters will need to look for others to play a role. Jaimi Tabb has crossed from the Eagles to Roosters, while Glenelg ruck revelation Soriah Moon will now pull on the Panthers’ jumper. Providing a formidable tag-team with Montana McKinnon, South should get first hands to it, and with a midfield containing the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell, they will be hard to beat.

Gypsy Schirmer is the young gun to watch from the Panthers with the half-forward an excitement machine, whilst the same can be said for reigning Rising Star Hannah Ewings who will have added responsibility this season. Throw in Leah Tynan and Lauren Daniel through the onball, and the likes of Cristie Castle and Brianna Arthur able to rotate between midfield and forward, and the Roosters have plenty of options. It will be great to see full-back Sarah Wright return for the Panthers, with both her and Lauren Clifton providing some great stability in the defence.

This match is hard to predict, with either team capable of getting up, and both have a great history of just getting the job done. Just for the home fans the edge might go to North, but there is something about the South lineup that looks ready to strike.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 8.15pm
Coopers Stadium

The second match of the double-header is predicted to be just as good, with reigning preliminary finalists West Adelaide locking horns with the side they dispelled in the elimination final, Norwood. West Adelaide have a huge opportunity to make the next step up, with such a large contingent of state league players remaining at the club, and then bringing in some serious talent such as key defender Sharnie Whiting from Carlton.

The youth of West Adelaide cannot be stated enough, with Zoe Venning a standout in terms of this year, and then over the next two years, the Bloods have Keeley Kustermann and then Lauren Young respectively who both loom as great talents. Venning will start off half-forward and look to push into the midfield, while Kustermann will form a new partnership with South Adelaide’s Natalie Gibbs off half-back with Madison Newman likely to have Crows AFL Women’s duties this season. The 15-year-old Young has been thrown into the deep end to start in the midfield, potentially on the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

Norwood have an array of young talent themselves, with Alana Lishmund named on a wing, and Jade Halfpenny surprisingly named in defence after making her name as a leading forward predominantly last season. Tesharna Maher is a new name in the Norwood line-up, having crossed from Eagles over the break. Melanie Elsegood is a player to stop for West, with the Norwood defence looking strong, as Isabel Martin has been named back there, while the likes of Jess Macolino will come off the bench to have an impact.

West Adelaide could well be the team to beat this season, and therefore should be favourites in this game, but Norwood has some exciting young talents as well to watch out for, in what should be an entertaining game.

STURT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 27 @ 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Fast forward to Saturday and two sides looking to make a strong start to the season after missing finals do battle in Sturt and Glenelg. The Double Blues were actually strong defensively last season, but they just struggled to score at times, whilst the Bays were ultra-impressive in some games, and then just not themselves in others, so will be eyeing off some consistency in 2021. It will be a big game for Caitlyn Swanson who has cross from the Double Blues to the Bays this season and will come off the bench in Round 1.

Glenelg has some some developing talents to watch out for, with top-ager Brooke Tonon alongside over-ager Madisyn Freeman at half-forward. They will be looking to create some run and carry going inside 50, with the likes of Tamsyn Morriss and Sam Franson transitioning from the wings. Looking strong as outside movers, Tessa Kohn has been slotted in at half-back after being predominantly an inside midfielder last season, while Lucy Armitage will never take a backwards step and is also in defence. Without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones the Bays will need other midfielders to step up, but they have the depth there.

The Double Blues have some of the best young talent running around, and the depth through the key position options is showing, with Zoe Prowse now running around as a midfielder instead of ruck. The 180cm talent has the athleticism to beat much smaller opponents, and she will provide a point of difference at ground level. Alex Ballard looks set for a move into the midfield, while other over-agers such as Hannah Prenzler (half-back) and Isobel Kuiper (half-forward) will be better for another season. Add in top-ager Georgia Swan at centre half-forward, and the inclusion of Eagles’ Chloe Forby, and the Double Blues are starting to build some firepower.

It will be another tough match to pick, and without Georgia Bevan – having been picked up late to Gold Coast Suns – more will fall to the likes of Maya Rigter for Sturt, but they have the young talent to get it done. One cannot discount Glenelg though, as they have some great outside movers.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

The final match of the round takes place with Central District hosting Woodville-West Torrens in a battle of the league’s two newest clubs. Though now into their third seasons, both the Bulldogs and Eagles are becoming well established, and if 2020 is anything to go off, they should be more competitive again. Without a heap of AFL Women’s talent last season, both these sides are well adapted to being without that top level experience, which puts them in good stead to have plenty of developing young guns coming through the programs.

The Bulldogs were one of the more exciting teams in 2020 even if their results may not have shown it. They were willing to run the ball forward, and with the need for speed, were taking it up to sides. Latiah Huynh is a perfect example of the way the Dogs play – with speed and tenacity, as well as confidence – and teaming up with fellow youngster Lauren Breguet in the forward half, Central District will look to share the load outside of notable goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig. Eagles’ key position utility Kiana Lee has been named at full-back with Anastasia Falkenberg another reliable talent in defence, as is Jamie Parish.

The midfield battle will be just as intriguing with new captain and reigning best and fairest winner Shelby Smith leading the Bulldogs onball, and the likes of Caitlen Teague and Lauren Smith in there. A couple of experienced recruits in Paige Allan and Nicole Mark among those inclusions into the Bulldogs’ line-up, while Madison Lane is a top-age talent with reliable foot skills from defence, while Demi Sonneman is always one to watch coming out of the back 50. A big inclusion for the Eagles is former South Adelaide raw ruck/forward prospect Brooklyn Kraft who will make her debut amongst a host of new faces coming out of the local leagues, while Kiley Green has made the move from the ACT and been named at centre-half back. Charlotte Dolan and Jovanka Zecevic are others to keep an eye on in the match for the Eagles.

Central District has beefed up its side in 2021, with more experience to settle the youth down and the Dogs could start favourite in this one, though the Eagles are always tough to score against.

Picture credit: SANFL

Finals on the agenda for Sturt in 2021

WHILE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s has been a fantastic initiative for all eight SANFL clubs to be involved in, some sides have had more on-field success than others so far. In Sturt’s three years playing in the SANFL Women’s League, they are yet to make a finals appearance. Changing this record is high on the agenda of Sturt’s senior women’s coach Bruce Dawes in 2021, particularly following their capitulation after returning from the COVID-19 break last season.

“Pre-COVID, we were actually pretty happy with the way we were tracking,” Dawes said. “We were 2-2 at that stage and felt the girls were making pretty good improvements. Having that break really interrupted us. Some girls chose not to come back post-COVID because work and different things changed for them, so after that we certainly didn’t play the football we were hoping to play.”

Sturt did not claim another victory for the 2020 season, concluding the year with two wins, seven losses, one draw and the lowest percentage in the competition, 25.04. This put them in sixth position, just one point ahead of bottom two clubs Woodville-West Torrens and Central District.

“Overall, we were disappointed with the season, no doubt about it,” Dawes said. “You always want to play finals, but I think we’re moving in the right direction now.”

Over the summer period, Dawes has put an emphasis on improving his players’ fitness levels, along with some other key areas of SANFLW football.

“Preseason’s been really good, one thing we felt last year was that we weren’t as fit as we’d like to have been, so there’s certainly been a focus on fitness,” Dawes said. “All of our GPS information is telling us that the girls have been working harder and their intensity is up, so that’s been a real bonus for us. From there, it’s just constant work on developing our skills and our game plan.”

When asked about their game plan, Dawes said he wants to help his players to develop greater football IQ’s and understand match situations when they are out in the heat of battle.

“We do a lot of work on our strategy type of stuff,” he said. “We want to control the footy then get our timing right of when to go fast and when to go slow. That’s what we’re looking at trying to achieve this year.”

As for Sturt’s recruiting strategy this offseason, they have focused on bringing players into the SANFLW system rather than poaching from rival SANFLW clubs.

“We’ve gone to the local clubs,” Dawes said. “We were able to watch a few local games once our season had finished, and from that we were able to attract a few newer girls who are bit older and have played a little bit of football. A couple of girls from Uraidla, Molly Fletcher and Alisha Gepp, who have really added to our group. Another girl Jess Good, who played at Blackwood, is a tall ruckman that’s come into the squad and been excellent for us. Chloe Forby came over from the Eagles, she’s a little goer that plays small forward, she’s added to the group as well.”

At the Under 18 preseason testing day earlier this month, 2020 Club Champion Zoe Prowse revealed that she is planning to play as a midfielder for the Double Blues in 2021. This surprised some given her prowess and expertise as a ruck, but Dawes clarified their reasoning behind the move.

“We just want to try and develop Zoe’s complete game,” he said. “She’s an outstanding athlete. Will she be a ruck at AFL level? She absolutely can be, no doubt, she has the athleticism to do it. But if we can add extra strings to her bow, where she could become a midfielder and then occasionally pinch hit in the ruck, that would really add to her talent as well.”

As for Sturt players that fans should keep an eye on this season, Dawes had several names in mind.

“A crowd favourite is Kate ‘Buba’ Harris– she’s a hard-working half-forward that goes at everything, is intense and just loves the game, the group love her too, she’s outstanding,” Dawes said. “Zoe Prowse, Alex Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler are all in the State program, which is excellent for them. All of those girls have been really good. A couple of left field ones [to keep an eye on]. New ruckman Jess Good is not a household name, but she’ll be very handy for us. Maya Rigter, Isobel Kuiper and girls like that have always been consistent performers for us as well.”

Although a finals berth is firmly on Dawes’ mind, he knows this will be difficult to achieve in 2021 due to the strong competition in SANFLW.

“Our goal is to play finals, no doubt about that,” Dawes said. “We think we were on track last year before the wheels fell off a bit, but we really think the list we’ve got now, the development the girls are putting in, and we’re progressing to a stage where we think we can play finals. Things will have to go right for us to do that, it’s a really tight competition that’s always constantly improving, so hopefully we’re improving a bit more than the other clubs.”

Sturt’s season begins on Saturday morning at X Convenience Oval when they take on Glenelg.

 

Picture credit: SANFL

 

For more SANFL Women’s news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

SANFLW Academy Ones to Watch: South Adelaide and Sturt

IN the third of four SANFL Women’s Ones to Watch, we take a look at those South Adelaide and Sturt players inside the South Australian Under-19 State Academy, and what they could offer to their club.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

Tahlita Buethke
Midfielder | Over-ager

Of the over-agers still in the Academy, Buethke could be one of the biggest movers in terms of her progression in 2021. She has a lot of potential, and felt at home for the Panthers, with her speed and marking among her strengths. She hopes to play on a wing where she can use her strengths to advantage and take the game on.

Lauren Clifton
Forward | Top-ager

As a bottom-ager, Clifton showed her potential to compete against older opponents last season, stepping up to be named in the All-Stars match where she slotted a goal up forward. A player with plenty of potential and a high work rate, Clifton can use the ball well and run hard to get to the right positions.

Gypsy Schirmer
Forward/Midfielder | Top-ager

The most exciting player to keep an eye on from a top-age perspective, Schirmer went from strength to strength last year and was deservedly added to the AFL Women’s National Academy. She has plenty of upside and her nous around goals is terrific. She can push up and play on a wing, with her overhead marking and impact among her best traits. We spoke with her at the preseason testing.

Sarah Wright
Defender | Over-ager

Unfortunately Wright suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury in her top-age year, so will return to try and impact in 2021. Now as an over-ager, Wright is one who is a strong defender and will be keen to have better luck to add extra depth to a strong back six at the Panthers.

STURT:

Alex Ballard
Utility | Over-ager

With a knack to play anywhere on the field, it was Ballard’s performance in the All-Stars game last year that reminded spectators what she is capable of. She plays as a loose intercepting defender with a penetrating kick and an ability to move the ball quickly, which helps transition the ball from one end to the other. Looking to improve her fitness this year, Ballard is one that is more than capable at League level and remains a talent to keep an eye on in 2021.

Hannah Prenzler
Defender | Over-ager

The reliable defender is a natural leader, and possesses a pinpoint kick. Having spent some time at half-forward, the teenager is most suited to half-back where she is able to read the ball in flight, intercept and then drive the ball forward making the right decisions. As someone who has proven to be incredibly coachable over the years, Prenzler is looking to iron out improvements and build on her game.

Zoe Prowse
Ruck/Midfielder | Top-ager

The highly-touted top-ager who is in her second year in the AFL Women’s National Academy is set for a new role in 2021. Speaking to Draft Central at the preseason testing event, Prowse said she would roll through the midfield rather than be the number one ruck, and show off her versatility and athleticism for a taller player. Able to play just about anywhere, Prowse is the top South Australian prospect in 2021.

Georgia Swan
Forward | Top-ager

A talented forward who has shown some real promising signs over the past couple of years, Swan is a crafty forward who adds a different dimension to the Double Blues’ front half. She is strong overhead and knows where the goals are, but often roams up the ground to win the ball and doubles back to aide teammates. One to watch as an improver this year.

Picture credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

Prowse set for a positional change in 2021

ZOE Prowse is one of South Australia’s leading Under 18 Women’s football prospects. The promising Sturt youngster will be eligible for the AFL Women’s Draft at the end of the 2021 season, and she has generated plenty of buzz in women’s football circles in a short space of time.

While Prowse did gain some football exposure as a junior, she did not begin playing competitively until 2017.

“I started by doing Auskick with my brother, but then I stopped for ages,” she said. “It wasn’t until I went to school in Year 8 and there was a girl’s knockout team for me to join. I played and developed my game from there.”

The Mercedes College student said the school has been fantastic for her football development, and she identified two key people that have helped her progress.

“Mercedes have been really good to me, two of my teachers Mr. Caire and Mr. Hill played SANFL League at Westies, so they basically got my footy career started,” Prowse said.

After taking a cheeky dig at her brother Spencer, Prowse said all members of her family have been helpful throughout her football journey.

“My family has been very supportive, she said. “My sister Arabella has come out to every game, so she’s really encouraged it, as well as mum and dad. They all get around it.”

When asked how she thought she went at the South Australian Preseason Testing Day on Sunday, Prowse was her typically modest self.

“I think I did alright, I probably could have done better in some tests, but I think I did okay,” Prowse said. “My jumps are my strength on a day like this, especially my running jumps.”

On the footy field, Prowse is known for her incredible rucking ability and follow-up work, a “fourth-midfielder” style of role that she enjoys. However, she will be looking to develop a new side to her game this season.

“I think I’m not playing in the ruck this year, I’m actually playing as a midfielder, so that will mean a lot more running around,” she said. “Sturt have two new ruckmen this year, so I think we’ll try and get them to take that role so that I can move around, try new positions and continue to develop my game.”

Prowse believes this change will provide a unique opportunity for her to enhance her aerobic base.

“I’m looking to improve my fitness this season, just being able to consistently run out a full game,” she said.

Overall, Prowse has one objective in mind for 2021, and locals will be ecstatic about where she wants to end up.

“My goal for the year is to get drafted, I want to be drafted by the Crows,” Prowse said.

 

Picture credit: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

 

For more SANFLW news, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

2021 AFL Women’s Academy squad announced

TWENTY aspiring AFL Women’s future draftees have been named in the 2021 AFL Women’s Academy, which was announced yesterday. The Academy primarily features players who were in the Academy as middle-age talents, though a number of inclusions have been made.

Off the back of a superb season with grand finalists South Adelaide, talented forward Gypsy Schirmer was included on the list, named as one of the top South Australian talents for the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft alongside Zoe Prowse in our 2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch last month. Also making the list was Launceston midfielder Perri King who made the Academy after stepping up for the Blues in the Tasmanian State League (TSL) Women’s competition, having made history as Tasmania Devils’ first goalkicker in the NAB League earlier this year, while Devils’ teammate Amy Prokopiec was a member of the Academy last year.

Also included in the new list was Claremont forward Amy Franklin who has unbelievable athletic traits and is as good at ground level as she is in the air. Named as the third top West Australian for next year, Franklin joined West Australian hopefuls, Courtney Rowley and Charlotte Thomas in the Academy. Up north, Ashanti Bush had an impressive Northern Territory All-Stars match to earn a spot in the Academy with the talented forward being the sole representative for her state next year. The Northern Territory have a number of talented prospects coming through in future years, however.

The final inclusion to the squad was NSW/ACT forward Jessica Doyle out of Manly-Warringah who joins Murray Bushrangers’ Ally Morphett as the other state representative in the 20-player squad. Once again when it comes to representation, Maroochydore leads the way with three representatives – Maggie Harmer, Mikayla Pauga and Bella Smith – while Bond University’s Teagan Levi is a clear standout prospect for the Sunshine State, looking to join sister Maddison at the elite level.

The Victorian portion of the Academy has been left untouched from 2020 given the playing cohort has not been able to show its wares this year. Calder Cannons’ Georgie Prespakis – one of the clear front runners for the top Victorian selections – is an unbelievable talent and will be highly sought after to join sister Maddy in the AFL Women’s. Cannons’ teammate Tahlia Gillard has the ability to play up either end as a talented tall, whilst the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels duo of running defender/wing Nyakoat Dojiok and mid/forward Ella Friend return to the Academy.

Keep an eye out for Bendigo Pioneers’ Tara Slender who looms as one of the most impressive key position options in this year’s draft, with the rebounding tall capable of playing both offensive and defensive roles. Rounding out the Academy are Charlie Rowbottom – sister of Sydney Swans’ James – out of the Oakleigh Chargers, as well as slick ball user and outside midfielder, Maykaylah Appleby from the AFL Women’s football factory at Northern Knights.

The AFL Women’s Academy take part annual high-performance camps, of which will include an induction program in January, training with AFL Women’s clubs over the summer, and partaking in a high-performance camp and match in July. It also enables the athletes to have access to a wide variety of high-performance coaches and medical staff who work at the elite level.

2021 NAB AFLW Academy

Jessica Doyle (Manly-Warringah/Swans NSW/ACT)
Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/Giants NSW/ACT)
Ashanti Bush (Darwin NT)
Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Lions Qld)
Teagan Levi (Bond Uni/Suns Qld)
Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Lions Qld)
Bella Smith (Maroochydore/Lions Qld)
Zoe Prowse (Sturt SA)
Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide SA)
Perri King (Launceston Tas)
Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels Vic Country)
Ella Friend (GWV Rebels Vic Country)
Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers Vic Country)
Maykaylah Appleby (Northern Knights Vic Metro)
Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons Vic Metro)
Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons Vic Metro)
Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers Vic Metro)
Amy Franklin (Claremont WA)
Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder WA)
Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco WA)

2021 AFLW Under 18s Ones to Watch

NOW the curtain has closed on the 2020 AFL Women’s off-season period, we turn our attention to the next group of budding stars across the country who will be vying for a spot on an AFL Women’s list. We have named 25 players who have already shown some great signs in their bottom and middle-age seasons, as well as a number of others to watch out for in 2021.

Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A name that has been circulating for a number of years now, it is hard to believe the all-round talent was robbed of what she could potentially do in her middle-age year. She looked more than comfortable at the level in her bottom-age year as a 16-year-old and caught plenty of attention with a seven-goal haul against Greater Western Victoria Rebels. Taller than her sister – AFL Women’s league best and fairest winner Madison – Prespakis is hard at it, has great athleticism and is ridiculously strong one-on-one. A highlight-reel package nearly any time she steps out on the field, Prespakis is a future star and could play just about anywhere, but expect her to play inside midfield and rest forward.

Teagan Levi (Bond University/Queensland)

The sister of recently drafted Gold Coast Suns’ talent Maddison, Levi is 11cm shorter and plays onball rather than forward. Her athletic traits are similar to that of Georgia Patrikios in the way that she can seamlessly get herself out of trouble by wrong-footing and side-stepping opponents with ease. Not only is she able to beat them in congestion, she can run and take the game on down a wing, and then when the opponent wins it, she is the first to lay a strong tackle. Similar to Prespakis, Levi has so many weapons and is as effective defensively as she is offensively, and is the standout Queensland prospect for next year and in the clear top few talents running around.

Courtney Rowley. Picture credit: Owen Davies / Peel Thunder

Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder/Western Australia)

A player who has been building very nicely over in Western Australia over the past two seasons and then was the most impressive of the middle-agers in the WAFL All-Stars game. A really smooth mover, Rowley often plays off a wing and knows how to distribute the ball so well, winning Peel Thunder’s League best and fairest last year as a 16-year-old competing against senior opponents including AFL Women’s talents. Whilst she had more support in 2020 as the Thunder rose from wooden spooners to premiers in a remarkable turnaround, it is hard not to admire what the talented midfielder could be in her top-age season next year.

Zoe Prowse (Sturt/South Australia)

The standout ruck prospect in next year’s draft, Adelaide will have another promising talent on their radar in Prowse. Winning Sturt’s best and fairest award this year, Prowse was just about the best in nearly every game she played for the Double Blues, particularly in the second half of the season. Despite standing at just under 180cm, Prowse has ridiculous athleticism with a high vertical leap and is almost like a fourth midfielder. She can get down and apply second and third efforts to ground level players, and is one who could also play forward if required. With great ruck nous, she can outwork her opponents around the ground, and it was easy to see why she was the sole South Australian AFL Women’s Academy member in her middle-age year.

Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

An absolute star in the making. Capable of playing midfield or forward, Rowbottom just knows how to set scoring opportunities up in transition. The sister of Sydney’s James, Rowbottom has similar ball-winning abilities and defensive attributes, but has a lot to offer offensively as well. She showed in the Chargers’ win over Tasmania that she is not only able to hit the scoreboard herself – kicking two goals – but set up a number of chances for her teammates. One that will really surprise in 2021 as a leader for the Chargers.

Charlie Rowbottom. Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers/Vic Country)

With quite a few tall defenders in this year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Slender would be putting her hand up as potentially the pick of the bunch. Her intercepting capability and reading of the ball in flight is exceptional, and while she did miss her middle-age year, Slender is one who could catch the attention pretty quickly. Having played alongside some Vic Country representatives in the past – and playing at Under 16s level for her state – Slender is good in one-on-ones and looms as a key lynchpin for the Pioneers. It would also not be too surprising to see her take a similar transition to Isabelle Pritchard and move into the midfield given she has the traits to slot right in there.

Makaylah Appleby (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)

Class personified. Appleby has managed to catch the eye on more than a few occasions over the past few seasons despite playing in such a stacked team at the Northern Knights. She often played off a wing or provided run on the outside like during the 2019 NAB League Finals Series. Appleby is now the top prospect at the Knights for the upcoming season as a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and as a damaging ball user, Appleby is one that teammates want to get the ball in the hands of in order to create scoring opportunities up the field.

Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco/Western Australia)

A dangerous forward half player with clean skills and a nous for goals, Thomas is the other AFL Women’s Academy member from Western Australia in her middle-age year along with Rowley and has a big future. Playing in an experienced team like Subiaco, Thomas was able to still stand out, regularly hitting the scoreboard. Standing at 175cm, Thomas has good size and good hands and having made her League debut in 2020, big things are predicted for 2021 with a lot of AFL Women’s talent, and more experienced heads around her.

Nyakoat Dojiok. Picture credit: Draft Central

Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A player who is not afraid to take the game on and really take it to the opposition is GWV Rebels’ Dojiok who has been developing year-on-year over the last few years. Playing as a 15-year-old a few years back, Dojiok is one who when she gets going is hard to contain, and she has that rich blend of power and speed. She is utilised best as that outside runner, playing off half-back or along a wing, but is eye-catching in the way she plays and the way she can bring teammates into the game. Entering her top-age year, expect her to see even more midfield time as she has some seriously great traits.

Elizabeth Dowling (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)

A player who might be flying under the radar that has some casual NAB League Girls watchers reaching for the team lists next year is Dowling. An incredible talent who showed progression in her two games this year, she has only managed to fly under the radar due to the enormous amount of talent coming out of the Falcons’ football factory. She played in defence as a bottom-ager then got time more up the field last year, and expect her to play through the midfield in 2021. She can play anywhere, at that hybrid 171cm-plus size and can be too athletic for talls and too strong for smalls, Dowling is one who should not be forgotten when talking about Vic Country prospects.

Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

The standout NSW/ACT prospect for 2021, Morphett is the sole AFL Women’s Academy member from her state. The developing 189cm-plus ruck is one who improved from her bottom-age season and it would have been fantastic to see her going up against the Melbourne-drafted Maggie Caris if their teams had met in the NAB League Girls before the season ended. She is commanding overhead and able to drift forward if required, Morphett is one of the few NAB League Girls prospects to play this year. Representing Belconnen Magpies in the AFL Canberra League, Morphett finished second in the league best and fairest, and then won best on ground in the Magpies’ premiership win. Not bad for a 17-year-old and she is one anticipated to take a huge step in 2021.

Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Stood tall at senior level in the QAFL Women’s competition for the Roos and is one of a remarkable three players in the AFL Women’s Academy from the side. Harmer showed in the Queensland All-Stars game that she looms as a strong prospect in 2021 with her overhead marking, read of the play and powerful kicking standing out in a tight game. A member of the Brisbane Lions Academy, Harmer is 170cm and could play at half-back as that intercepting rebounder, or through the middle, seemingly able to break down opposition defences on transition by getting in the way and then pumping it long.

Maggie Harmer. Picture credit: Deion Menzies, Highflyer Images

Amy Franklin (Claremont/Western Australia)

If we are talking upside, then Franklin, not too dissimilar to her West Australian namesake, has plenty of that for the future. A tall marking forward, Franklin has speed that makes smaller opponents envious, and standing at 180cm, she is big enough to outmark most opponents. Still quite raw and lightly built compared to more experienced WAFL Women’s defenders she came across, Franklin is one that once the ball gets goalside, you can almost put the glasses down. Terrific athleticism and one who is threatening to be an even bigger threat in 2021, she is yet another exciting tall forward to come out of Western Australia.

Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

If you are talking upside and potential in next year’s AFL Women’s Draft crop then take 186cm Gillard as an example. Only turning 17 in December this year, the key position utility can play in all three lines, starting off as a key defender, spending time up forward and has the size if required to play ruck. For a player of her size, Gillard is so good at ground level and able to create something out of nothing. While she is still a raw and developing talent, she is another from the Cannons’ program who has already had plenty of NAB League Girls experience that will only make her better.

Ella Friend (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)

A second GWV Rebels player making the list, Friend did not get many chances this season to show what she is capable of, but what she did in that short space of time was quite remarkable. Another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Friend looked comfortable in the tight contest against the Western Jets back in Round 3, racking up a ton of the ball – 19 touches – and having a real influence in the forward half. Not only that, but she iced the game for the Rebels with a match-winning goal, and provided as much offence (six inside 50s) and defence (five tackles) to suggest she is a gamechanger and one to look out for next season.

Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)

Made her debut in the NAB League Girls competition and just has that X-factor about her that makes you sit up and take notice. Elite acceleration out of the stoppage and some really top-end traits, Livingstone came into the Ranges’ midfield and assimilated easily that it was hard to believe she was not a top-ager. Behind the experienced Olivia Meagher and Tarni Brown, Livingstone was the next biggest performer onball, and with another preseason behind her, it will be exciting to see just what she can produce with her athletic traits and ability to get forward and look dangerous.

Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

Yassir is just a fierce competitor who can play through the midfield or as a small forward. Standing at just 161cm, Yassir defies her size and is not afraid to take on bigger opponents, laying multiple tackles and is a contested ball winner. She stood up during Calder’s NAB League Girls finals series as a bottom-ager in 2019, and started strongly in 2020. She will have a bigger role in 2021 and has a bucketload of talent that will have opposition players wary of when she is in the zone.

Mikayla Pauga (Maroochydore/Queensland)

Another small forward and member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Pauga might just stand at 161cm like Yassir, but packs plenty of punch as a damaging forward. The second Maroochydore player in this list, Pauga finished second in her club’s goalkicking with 13 majors in 14 games, and was a clear standout. With an eye for goal and a large endurance base that sees her outwork opponents, Pauga is one who could step up again in 2021 and will be one to watch at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships having shown her wares at senior level in the QAFL Women’s already.

Zoe Venning. Picture credit: SANFL

Zoe Venning (West Adelaide/South Australia)

A hard-nosed midfielder/forward from West Adelaide, Venning came on in leaps and bounds throughout her second season in the red and black. She became a crucial member of the Bloods’ midfield, playing between wing and forward, though her attack on the ball shows she can easily translate into an inside midfielder. Providing great assistance to equal league best and fairest winner, Rachelle Martin as well as young talent Abbie Ballard, Venning is one who is dangerous around goals. She is still developing some areas of her game such as her kicking, but her work rate and intensity in play is superb.

Kasey Lennox (Calder Cannons/Vic Metro)

A reliable key defender for the Cannons, Lennox is a fourth member of the Calder side to make this list, and shows just how strong their top-age group will be next season. Lennox is one who is good at ground level for a taller player, being one of the most dominant rebounders in the competition to start the 2020 NAB League Girls season. As a player who stood out on the big stage of the 2019 NAB League Girls Grand Final, Lennox is not afraid of big moments, and will team up well with Gillard as a couple of talls in a really strong Cannons outfit.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

The sole Tasmanian prospect in the AFL Women’s National Academy, Prokopiec became one of the standout defenders for Tasmania Devils, albeit in just a handful of games in her bottom and middle-age years. As she showed with Clarence in the TSL Women’s competition this year and in the Tasmanian All-Stars game, Prokopiec is capable of playing at either end, and becoming that versatile tall utility. As a long kick and strong overhead, she is a crucial cog in the both the Roos and Devils sides, and will be hoping for a full season next year to test herself against the best in the NAB League Girls.

Amy Prokopiec (right). Picture credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide/South Australia)

There are quite a few talls in this list with potential, and Schirmer is another one who just has that look about her that she could be in for a big 2021. In her middle-age season with reigning premiers South Adelaide, she acquitted herself well and while she did have some really outstanding performances, even when she was quieter, there was always a moment or two within games where you could see she was capable of kicking a couple of goals and winning the match for her side. Not far off 180cm, Schirmer can push up to a wing or even in defence, but she always looks damaging inside 50 and a real target for her teammates to kick to.

Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

A good size and capable of hitting the scoreboard, the 176cm James is a damaging prospect. She showed in her two games this year how she has developed both her offensive and defensive traits, and even as an Under 16s player for the Chargers, stood up in nine games and booted five goals. As one of a number of Chargers who were able to provide support to the top-end talent this year, James is another leader in the group to standout in her own top-age year in 2021.

Alana Lishmund (Norwood/South Australia)

Was a prominent member of the Norwood side in her debut SANFL Women’s season, then really stepped up as one of the best in the All-Stars match last month. She is predominantly a forward talent who can push up the ground into the midfield, and then play high or deep forward when required. A reliable kick for goal, she has that X-factor about her inside 50 and can be a leading or crumbing target, playing taller than her 166cm size, and one who will be another South Australian jostling for a spot as one of the more prominent talents in the state.

Alana Lishmund. Picture credit: AFL Media

Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)

A multi-sport talent for the Stingrays, Anthony also has that something special about her game playing as a forward. She can play at either end, and has progressed through the pathway from V/Line Cup to the NAB League Girls. One who has shared her football journey with cricket duties – she has only managed the five games for the Stingrays – she knows how to hit the scoreboard and provide a presence. Despite standing at just 166cm, Anthony plays like a taller forward and finds space, and will be a top talent to watch out for from the Stingrays in 2021.

Others:

Maroochydore’s Bella Smith is another member of the AFL Women’s National Academy who stood up for Maroochydore this season in the QAFL Women’s, whilst Georgia Hutton and Caitlin Thorne are a couple of Gold Coast Academy members who showed some top-end traits during the All-Stars match.

The South Australian group has been sensational with plenty having senior experience, led by South Adelaide’s Lauren Clifton who stood out in the All-Stars match up forward. Central District’s Madison Lane, North Adelaide’s Kate Case, Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon and Woodville-West Torrens’ Jamie Parish are others who have been ones to watch at SANFL Women’s level this season.

Over in the west, Chloe Reilly remains a dangerous forward option for East Fremantle with her work at ground level and around goals, whilst Swan Districts’ Emma Nanut, and South Fremantle trio, Tayla Whincup, Taylah Cruttenden and Poppy Stockwell are also great talents.

Looking to the NAB League and there are plenty of names to throw up, but a few in the mix include Mikayla Jones (Murray Bushrangers), Jemma Radford (Dandenong Stingrays) and Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons) who have shown to be natural players in their respective areas. From the Vic Metro perspective, Peppa Poultney (Calder Cannons), Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers), Caitlin Sargent (Western Jets) and Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights) were terrific this year, while a host of middle-age Sandringham Dragons got their starts and will no doubt produce a number of surprise packets alongside their elite bottom-age talents.

Perri King is another Tasmanian prospect behind Prokopiec to watch, making history as the Devils’ first goalkicker last season and will be keen to build on that again. From Northern Territory, there is a heap of great young talents coming through from 2022 onwards, with one 2021 draft prospect being Georgia Johnson, a 160cm talent from Waratah who stood out in the NT All-Stars match last month. Playing in defence, she was one to take note of as she regularly mopped up and got the ball down the field for Team Hewett.

Alongside the top-age talents, a number of over-age talents who missed out on being drafted this year will no doubt be trying to stake their case against be it via the NAB League or state leagues, including Brooke Hards, Jemma Finning and Annabel Strahan (all Bendigo Pioneers), Zoe Hill, Abbey Jordan and Jess Matin (all Dandenong Stingrays), Ash Snow and Maeve Chaplin (both Northern Knights), Amber Micallef (Oakleigh Chargers), Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges) and Grace McRae (Gippsland Power) who all received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but were unlucky to miss out.

In Western Australia, Maggie MacLachlan (Subiaco), Brianna Hyde and Mikayla Hyde (both Swan Districts) head into 2021 as over-agers, while mature-agers Ella Smith and Jess Low (both Claremont), Rosie Walsh (East Fremantle) and Sarah Wielstra (Swan Districts) are others who missed out on the AFL Women’s Draft but will remain ones to watch.

Elsewhere, Northern Territorian Mattea Breed continues to develop for Norwood in South Australia, whilst Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers), Jayde Hamilton (Queanbeyan Tigers) and Kiara Beesley (Southern Power) were draft combine invitees from NSW/ACT.

In Queensland, Beth Pinchin has shown great resilience as a mature-ager coming back from multiple injuries, while Courtney Bromage and Brooke Spence are other mature-agers who caught attention this year. Christine Okesene, Ebony Peterson, Laura Blue, Chloe Gregory and Madison Goodwin were also in the mix this year with Draft Combine invites so will be kept on close watch in 2021. The other two players to receive AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites but miss out were the exciting Freda Puruntatameri (Calder Cannons/Northern Territory) and Charlie Vandenberg (Wynyard/Tasmania) who have plenty of development left in them.