Tag: zoe venning

PODCAST EXPLAINER | 2021 AFLW Phantom Draft

IN a Final Siren Podcast and Draft Central first, the team ran a “live” Phantom Draft for the upcoming AFL Women’s Draft. Assuming the role of the 14 list managers/recruiters, Peter Williams, Michael Alvaro and Declan Reeve selected pick-by-pick each of the clubs through to the end of the draft, and named others in contention. Each of the team’s selections were determined by list numbers or confirmed total selections clubs intended to take, with the podcast recorded prior to Geelong’s pre-listed players yesterday. Club-by-club comments from the Draft Central team member who selected for the team is included.

Note: All individual selection are the opinion of the selector at the time and do not necessarily represent club views nor those of the other individual selectors.

 — FINAL SIREN PODCAST 2021 AFLW PHANTOM DRAFT

 

Zoe Prowse

ADELAIDE:

#17 Zoe Prowse (Sturt)
#20 Gypsy Schirmer (South Adelaide)
#34 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)
#47 Zoe Venning (West Adelaide)

Peter Williams says …

“As the sole team in South Australia currently, Adelaide’s selections are less tactical in the sense as there is not another opponent to deal with, but also knowing that nailing each pick when there is draftable talent that misses out makes it all the more difficult. The two AFL Women’s Academy members in ruck Zoe Prowse and speedy utility Gypsy Schirmer offer great versatility across the ground, with one of the big improvers this season, Brooke Tonon being the defensive option with great offensive abilities. The fourth selection gets a little trickier, but I opted for Zoe Venning after a sensationally-consistent year and offers that hardness around the ball and up forward. Others I considered were fellow teenage AFLW Draft Combine invites, Abbie Ballard, Lauren Breguet and Tahlita Buethke.”

Maggie Harmer

BRISBANE:

#18 Maggie Harmer (Maroochydore)
#35 Mikayla Pauga (Bond University)
#50 Abby Hewett (Wilston Grange)
#64 Bella Smith (Maroochydore)
#70 Christene Okesene (Yeronga South Brisbane)
#72 Steph O’Brien (University of Queensland)

Peter Williams says …

“Brisbane has an unbelievably strong Academy from which to hand pick players for this year’s AFL Women’s Draft. The two AFL Women’s Academy members in half-back/wing Maggie Harmer and high half-forward Mikayla Pauga were easy selections as top talents coming through the state program. Abby Hewett is as versatile as they come and offer great value at Pick 50 to be able to roll through any position, with inside midfielder Bella Smith a steal at Pick 64. Rounding out the half a dozen players, state captain Christene Okesene can immediately have an impact as a half-back with a powerful boot and strong one-on-one, whilst cross-coder Steph O’Brien earned an AFLW Draft Combine having had a successful state career in netball and really putting herself in the frame to be selected in the elite level Australian rules football. In terms of others considered, whilst we did not include mature-agers from other states who could have nominated Queensland, the likes of Georgia Nanscawen or former Queenslander Matilda Zander are others who might be ones on the board to take post-draft.”

Tess Craven

CARLTON:

#10 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)
#11 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)
#23 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers)
#26 Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers)
#40 Maeve Chaplin (Northern Knights)

Michael Alvaro says …

“The Blues are currently in some serious need of midfield depth and with this crop of Victorian talents, obtain a great balance of styles. Through trading, Carlton is in a great spot among the Victorian pool with its first two picks and at number 11, Tess Craven was too hard to pass up. The Geelong Falcons standout is a tough ball winner at the coalface, but also works hard to accumulate around the ground and makes great decisions. She’s a no-fuss type, and suits Carlton’s robust midfield mix. With Tayla Harris and Al Downie gone, Tahlia Gillard is a key position option who may be in high demand and was snapped up early as a result. At 190cm, she is a dominant kind of ruck who can also roll forward and remain relevant aerially. The Blues quite often dip into the Metro pool and after the success of Mimi Hill, may look at a couple more Oakleigh Chargers products in Brooke Vickers and Eliza James. The former likes to get forward off a wing or half-back, while the latter is an athletic midfielder-forward who offers dynamism and goal threat in either post. Rounding out the crop, Carlton may look towards its Northern link and give Maeve Chaplin her chance, after she earned a VFLW berth in the Blues’ reserves this year. She’s another versatile type who offers inside depth in midfield, but also great composure in defence.”

Keeley Sherar

COLLINGWOOD:

#30 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges)
#32 Olivia Meagher (Eastern Ranges)
#33 Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong Falcons)
#63 Tegan Cunningham (Melbourne AFLW)

Peter Williams says …

“Collingwood has a strong affiliation with taking Eastern Ranges midfielders, and at Pick 30, Keeley Sherar was the top player on my draft board. Capable of being that smooth mover on the inside similar to ex-teammate Tarni Brown, Sherar was joined in the side by inside midfielder and also Collingwood VFLW representative, Olivia Meagher. The 19-year-old put in a body of work this year to earn the call-up, with another mature-ager in Tegan Cunningham taken with the final pick. The fact Cunningham nominated the draft after retiring shows a level of certainty that she will be picked up, and the Pies needing a strong marking key forward could do with Cunningham’s experience down there. A raw talent who is good in the air with great athleticism is Ingrid Houtsma, who was too good at Pick 34 to ignore and joins the black and white. Others considered were Collingwood VFL talents, Matilda Zander and Imogen Barnett, with Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser a chance at Pick 63 to provide the ruck support whilst developing at the club.”

Amy Franklin

FREMANTLE:

#14 Amy Franklin (Claremont)
#31 Dana East (Swan Districts)
#38 Makaela Tuhakaraina (South Fremantle)
#46 Bella Mann (Peel Thunder)
#60 Tessa Doumanis (Claremont)
#69 Pia Staltari (Sandringham Dragons)

Declan Reeve says …

“Fremantle are already a well rounded side, fortunately allowing a bit of freedom with their selections with West Coast getting first dibs at some of the upper end talent. Fremantle’s first pick ended up being Amy Franklin after West Coast selected Courtney Rowley, with Franklin’s versatility to play up either end in a key post and overall athleticism adding to their stocks of exciting talls. Dana East can come in and learn on the job from Kiara Bowers as an inside midfielder, with her hands in close bound to make the outside receivers happy. Makaela Tuhakaraina will provide a lot of speed in the forward line or on the wing. Bella Mann is a strong intercept marker down back and Tessa Doumanis is the teammate of Franklin at Claremont, able to get herself on the scoreboard with ease. Pia Staltari is a utility with good skills and speed that she uses to impact in all roles. With so many picks there were plenty of players that came into consideration at various times, Chloe Reilly was one I really thought about with picks 31 and 38, as well as Beth Schilling and Matilda Dyke for some key defensive reinforcement.”

Georgie Prespakis

GEELONG:

#2 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)
#7 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)
#9 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)
#15 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels)
#52 Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
#65 Olivia Fuller (Geelong VFLW)* (in podcast)
#65 Zali Friswell (Calder Cannons)

Declan Reeve says …

Geelong has a strong draft hand, giving them the opportunity to load up on some of the top talents available in the Victorian pool, leading to me taking who I felt was the best player available with the first 4 selections. Georgie Prespakis is arguably one of the best female draft prospects the competition has seen to date, doing everything she could, including winning the NAB League best and fairest at 16, in the lead up to the 2021 draft. Both Stella Reid and Ella Friend are versatile left footers who have played in all thirds of the ground this year, providing ‘plug and play’ options for Geelong, with Friend being Key Position height. Nyakoat Dojiok is an athletic prospect that has improved game on game, providing run out of the backline for GWV Rebels and Vic Country. At the two later suggestions, Elizabeth Snell was a value selection with her athletic profile, two way running and experience all key features of hers, as well as Geelong VFLW Ruck Olivia Fuller to provide some depth in that area. I strongly considered locals Tess Craven and Annie Lee with picks 7 and 9, as well as Elizabeth Dowling, Zali Friswell and Grace Matser with the last two selections, with all enjoying solid NAB League seasons. With Fuller being announced as a pre-draft selection, I opted for Friswell with the replacement pick.”

*Note: The podcast was recorded prior to Geelong announcing Fuller as a pre-draft selection, which would make her ineligible for the draft, in which case Declan selected Zali Friswell post-recording as the next on his list*

Charlie Rowbottom

GOLD COAST:

#1 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)
#6 Teagan Levi (Bond University)
#8 Madison Goodwin (Yeronga South Brisbane)
#30 Grace Mulvahil (Southern Districts/NT)

Declan Reeve says …

“Gold Coast are bound to have a good draft between their NT and Queensland Academy zones, as well as arguably the best prospect of the draft Charlie Rowbottom, nominating for Queensland, making their selections relatively easy. Rowbottom was the first selection, with her athleticism and ability to impact in the midfield and up forward two of her key strengths that will allow her to play early on. Academy member Teagan Levi will offer a lot of zip in the midfield, with her agility sure to cause some headaches for opposition at the next level. Following on the athletic prospects was Maddison Goodwin, who set a new all-time standing vertical jump record at the recent Queensland State Combine. To wrap up the draft I went with NT defender Grace Mulvahil who will add a touch of composure and aerial strength to their defence. Key position academy pair Giselle Davies and Casey Wynne were considered for the later two picks after solid QAFLW seasons.”

Ally Morphett

GWS GIANTS:

#37 Ally Morphett (Murray Bushrangers)
#56 Jess Doyle (Manly-Warringah)
#67 Brodee Mowbray (Southern Power)
#71 Georgie Fowler (East Coast Eagles)

Declan Reeve says …

The GIANTS selections were pretty straight forward given they won’t be competing with other clubs for players in the NSW/ACT pool. Ally Morphett was first up, with the GWS Academy ruck, a contested beast who can outmuscle opponents well to win taps and marks up forward. Jessica Doyle was the Swans Academy captain but will spend at least the early stages of her career in the charcoal and orange, bringing clean ball use and consistent scoreboard impact with her. Browdee Mowbray is a two way running midfielder who loves to tackle and Georgie Fowler is an exciting forward who can hit the scoreboard well. Key position prospects Maddie Hendrie and Teagan Germech were also considered with the last two picks as the other combine invitees from the region.”

Georgia Campbell

MELBOURNE:

#42 Georgia Campbell (Eastern Ranges)
#44 Maykaylah Appleby (Northern Knights)
#49 Imogen Milford (Casey Demons VFLW)

Declan Reeve says …

“Melbourne invested heavily in the trade period bringing in established talent in exchange for early draft picks, making their selections some of the more interesting with all of them coming from the third round onwards. Georgia Campbell made the decision to nominate for Melbourne under the father-daughter rules, despite also being available for the Western Bulldogs under the same rule, and will more than likely chew up their first selection come draft night. Campbell is arguably the best ruck prospect in Victoria, and her supreme athleticism means she’s got the scope to play a variety of roles with the right development coaching. Winger Maykaylah Appleby possesses great speed and confidence with ball in hand to take the game on, whilst Casey Demons tall Imogen Milford is mobile on field and knows where the goals are, ending the season as runner up leading goal scorer in the VFLW. I also considered Zali Friswell and Ashleigh Richards with the final two picks for additional midfield support.”

Emelia Yassir

NORTH MELBOURNE:

#13 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons)
#19 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons)
#28 Meagan Kiely (North Melbourne VFLW)
#45 Perri King (Tasmania Devils)
#59 Sarah Skinner (North Melbourne VFLW)
#68 Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs)

Peter Williams says …

“North Melbourne have some talented Tasmanians coming through their junior and senior ranks, which made the last few selections fairly easy. Top 10 in my Power Rankings, Perri King would be a steal at Pick 45, with fellow Tasmanian and North Melbourne VFLW talent Sarah Skinner also earning a call-up the elite level after some terrific consistency this year. VFLW skipper Meagan Kiely, whilst not eligible under the Tasmanian connection, would be one in serious consideration to make an immediate impact in the middle at AFLW level, and like Skinner has been sensational at state level. The first two selections were more tricky with North potentially needing some talls, but with Kim Rennie coming with the last pick, I opted to go at the other end of the scale and picked up Emelia Yassir and Poppy Schaap who are two hard nuts with clean hands and capable to creating inside 50. I considered going fellow clean user Brooke Vickers, GWV defender Nyakoat Dojiok or Falcons defender Annie Lee with the two early selections as well. Other Tasmanians who might come into consideration include Ella Maurer and Jemma Blair who both had time with the Kangaroos in the VFLW program.”

Tara Slender

RICHMOND:

#5 Tara Slender (Bendigo Pioneers)
#16 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers)
#55 Sophie Locke (Port Melbourne VFLW)
#57 Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels)
#66 Jorja Livingstone (Eastern Ranges)

Michael Alvaro says …

“With two picks at the top end and a few late selections with which to extract value, Richmond has the chance to bring in a really strong crop. With pick five, third in the Victorian pool, the Tigers would likely be stoked by the opportunity to take Tara Slender. The Bendigo Pioneers standout is a modern day prototype, able to play any position at 175cm. She could come into the side as a key forward or defender, with potential to provide some important long-term cover in the midfield. Speaking of, Aurora Smith adds terrific running power at pick 16. The Murray Bushrangers best and fairest is quite balanced, but looks more comfortable on the wing and would allow a player like Ellie McKenzie to attend more centre bounces. The acquisition of Sophie Locke looms as a familiar one and would be a great story after she was overlooked in her initial draft year. Another Murray product, she found her spot up forward for Port Melbourne in 2021 and is lively around goal. GWV midfielder/defender Chloe Leonard suits the Richmond way and could be one who plays a role early at the next level, while Eastern Ranges winger Jorja Livingstone rounds out the crop as a potential father-daughter choice. Richmond may purely look towards midfield depth in the first round, or some late key forward support to mix up the above combination.”

Amanda Ling

ST KILDA:

#4 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers)
#12 Jaide Anthony (Dandenong Stingrays)
#36 Tahlia Meier (GWV Rebels)

Michael Alvaro says …

“While this three-player haul may look relatively straightforward, St Kilda is perched in a position which requires a lot of hard thinking. With pick four, the second of the Victorian pool, there are a bunch of prospects in the pipeline. With the need of midfield depth in mind and given the style of young stars Tyanna Smith and Georgia Patrikios, Amanda Ling seems like the perfect fold for them. Best afield in Oakleigh’s NAB League premiership triumph, Ling is a 19th year talent with great desire and work-rate at the contest, where her clean hands and sound decision making shine. The Saints could also get a handy slider with pick 12, and there would be high value in selecting Jaide Anthony in this range. The tough Dandenong Stingrays defender was Vic Country’s Under 19 MVP and plays above her 166cm standing with courage and athleticism. She would also maintain the strong link between Dandenong and St Kilda. Down the order, GWV small forward Tahlia Meier could be one the Saints look at with goals in mind, given her knack for finding them. They could also go down the route of targeting a taller type to support Caitlin Greiser, with mature-agers Tegan Cunningham and Leah Kaslar potentially up for grabs.”

Courtney Rowley

WEST COAST:

#3 Courtney Rowley (Peel Thunder)
#21 Sarah Lakay (Swan Districts)
#24 Charlotte Thomas (Subiaco)
#41 Chloe Reilly (East Fremantle)
#53 Emily Bennett (Claremont)

Peter Williams says …

“West Coast has a really strong draft hand, with three of the first four selections in the West Australian pool. Weighing up between tall and small with the first selection, I opted to go Peel Thunder’s Courtney Rowley to add that touch of class to the midfield with the Eagles, and then back up with a couple of taller options in ruck Sarah Lakay and versatile talent Charlie Thomas. All three are different prospects and add a dynamic mix to the team. Versatile small Chloe Reilly represents value as one who could improve in the future and has strong hands and a booming kick, much like Emily Bennett out of Claremont. Both are highly competitive, and Bennett has put together a consistent season for me to pick her up with the final selection for the Eagles. Amy Franklin is a clear consideration for the first selection, in which case it would trigger a different set of next selections, with Dana East being that pure midfield option. Beth Schilling was another potential pick-up late in the mix as well.”

Annie Lee

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

#22 Annie Lee (Geelong Falcons)
#25 Gabbi Featherston (Geelong Falcons)
#27 Brooke Hards (Western Bulldogs VFLW)

Peter Williams says …

“The Western Bulldogs selections were not what I expected coming into the draft, but in the end I opted for best available with each selection. Having three picks so close together, it was a case of waiting and seeing who was on the board at the time and snapping up the respective highest players on my Power Rankings. Whilst Geelong might have overlooked the Falcons in this draft much to my surprise, I was more than happy to pick up my ninth ranked player Annie Lee at Pick 22, with my 15th ranked talent Gabbi Featherston at Pick 25. The Falcons duo can provide some great excitement up either end, and provide some good aerial support despite not being key position players. Featherston can also chop out in the ruck despite being sub-170cm, which is an area the Dogs might look for given the departure of Kim Rennie. With the final selection I went internal and picked up the 20th ranked player in my Power Rankings in Brooke Hards, having played every game for the Bulldogs this season and her versatility to play across the field, along with her athleticism like Featherston, will provide great scope for the future. I strongly considered taking Brooke Vickers with the first selection, whilst Keeley Sherar and Ingrid Houtsma were others in the mix, as was Maeve Chaplin and Maykaylah Appleby to follow on the recent trend of Northern Knights at the Bulldogs.”

Competitive Venning used to putting in the “extra effort”

WINNING your club’s best and fairest award over the league and state Under 19s MVP is no mean feat, but it’s exactly what West Adelaide midfielder Zoe Venning pulled off in 2021. The tenacious ball winner was part of a strong Westies side which surged to this year’s SANFL Women’s grand final, averaging 16.5 disposals, 4.7 tackles, and 2.1 clearances across 12 games.

Having previously played netball at a high level, the 17-year-old says she knew exactly what it would take to be able to put in the “extra effort” required to make such strides at senior level.

“I was quite high up with my netball so I was used to putting the extra effort in off the field,” Venning said. “I always did my running… I know what it takes to put in hard work so that wasn’t something I was inexperienced with, it was more the age gap because I had always played with girls my age.

“Moving to SANFLW and playing with older girls matured my level of training, being a bit more mature was the biggest challenge.”

Venning credited her footballing journey to her dad, who encouraged her to “give it a go” having already excelled in netball and basketball. After starting out with the Mitcham Hawks, she fell in love with the game and soon found team success closer to home.

“I got to where I am now through my dad,” she said. “I first played at Mitcham Hawks when I was 13 and I didn’t want to play at all but dad said ‘come on Zoe, give it a go’ and I really liked it. My first game I got a lot of it, kicking off my shin but I just loved it.

“My dad wanted to make a girl’s program where I live, so he started up the Blackwood Football Club girl’s program and I’ve played there ever since and every year we’ve won the premiership. It’s just been such a good culture, all my best friends play there so that’s really how I started footy.”

Having started out scrubbing the ball off her shin, Venning has since added some polish to her game but remains a tough sort of ball winner who thrives at the contest. When outlining her strengths, the versatile talent was quick to list “contested ball wins” atop the tree.

“I really back myself,” she said. “I don’t really get intimidated by who I’m (against). I control if I’m going to get the ball or not, I’m not an outside receiver.

“I also think my marking’s quite strong. As a midfielder I can take a strong mark and be a link-up player, even on the kick-outs.”

Zoe Venning on the move for West Adelaide | Image Credit: On The Ball Media

Venning’s strengths made her a lock for SANFLW Team of the Year honours, and she brought the same kind of vigour to her state representative duties. With averages of 23 disposals, seven tackles, and four clearances per her three National Championship games, she also earned Under 19 All Australian status.

Speaking amid April’s Victorian leg of the carnival, she had both individual and team goals in mind.

“It’s been a really good achievement and I’m really excited just to show people what I’ve got,” she said. “I’m looking at it as an opportunity for me and the team to really utilise the talent we have in SA because it’s our standalone year.

“I’m just looking forward to showing my teamwork with others and it’s not just me, I want everyone to do well. But I still want to show that I am a strong player and I’m here to get drafted.”

While finding her way onto an AFLW list is the end goal, Venning is also seeking to succeed in her current Year 12 studies and knows missing out may not be the “be all and end all”. She also has a strong source of inspiration to look up to at the next level.

“An inspiration is Rachelle Martin, who was in my Westies team,” she said. “She inspires me because she worked so hard to get where she is now, playing for the Crows. “She’s a really hard worker, really nice, always caring to her teammates and that’s mainly what inspires me to keep going. I see her work ethic and I want to be like that.”

Come July 27 at the 2021 AFLW Draft, Venning has the chance to join Martin at Adelaide.

2021 Under 19 AFLW All-Australian team announced

THE NAB AFL Women’s Under 19 Championship All-Australian Team has just been announced with a number of talented players making the cut after exceptional performances throughout the Championships.

There is a strong mix of talent from across the country but it is Victoria once again that holds the monopoly with a combined 11 players named in the team. There are six players hailing from Vic Country and five from Vic Metro, a testament to the strength of the Victorian developmental pathways despite a wealth of players missing last year due to the COVID-19 enforced lockdown.

Western Australia is also well represented with three player named, with youngster Ella Roberts leading the pack and well and truly making a name for herself despite only being the ripe age of 16-years-old. She also took out the 2021 NAB Player of the Championships Medal given her star power and impressive performance against Vic Metro where she suffered leather poisoning racking up 31 touches, six inside 50s and two goals. South Australia and the Allies also have three representatives apiece while Queensland managed the two.

It is no surprise to see the likes of Georgie Prespakis, Charlie Rowbottom, Maggie Harmer, Teagan Levi, Jess Doyle, Courtney Rowley, Zoe Prowse, Tahlia Gillard and Tara Slender named in the side given they are all 2020-21 AFLW Academy members. All nine players showcased their wares throughout the tournament, putting their best foot forward and doing no harm to their AFLW Draft potential in the process.

Chloe Leonard is the only top-ager named in the 18-player squad while there are a number of bottom-agers with the likes of Roberts, Lauren Young, Cynthia Hamilton and Paige Scott who made their way into the team, despite not being eligible for the draft this year. Although on the younger side, Hamilton took home the MVP award for the Allies highlighting the bright future the youngster has and her sheer dominance throughout the Championships.

AA Team:

B: Chloe Leonard – Isadora McLeay – Jaide Anthony
HB: Maggie Harmer – Lauren Young – Annie Lee
C: Aurora Smith – Teagan Levi – Courtney Rowley
HF: Jess Doyle – Ella Roberts – Stella Reid
F: Paige Scott – Cynthia Hamilton – Georgia Campbell
R: Zoe Prowse – Charlie Rowbottom – Georgie Prespakis
INT: Makaela Tuhakaraina – Tahlia Gillard – Tara Slender – Zoe Venning

2021 SANFLW team review: West Adelaide

IN summarising the 2021 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is West Adelaide.

Position: 3rd (lost in Grand Final)
Wins: 6
Losses: 5
Draws: 0
Points For: 360 (4th)
Points Against: 352 (7th)

Season in a Sentence: “West Adelaide stood tall when it counted, putting in some remarkable home and away performances – as well as some disappointing ones – to fire at the right time and make its inaugural grand final.”

TOP PERFORMERS:

Lauren Young

About as good as a debut season as anyone could ever have, especially being just 15-years-old. The League Best and Fairest award, Team of the Year honours and Breakthrough Player of the Year nod, Young had her hands full after the season awards, to go with her Most Valuable Player (MVP) gong at the AFL Women’s Under 19s Championships. In season 2021, Young averaged 18.7 disposals, 4.3 marks, 5.6 tackles, 2.6 clearances, 3.3 inside 50s, 2.1 rebound 50s and slotted seven goals, finding the ball in every third of the ground. Her lowest disposal tally was 15, and her highest 25, in a remarkable feat of consistency.

Sharnie Whiting

As rock solid as anyone in defence for her 14 games Whiting earned Team of the Year honours at centre half-back and was clearly one of the top recruits to the SANFL Women’s this season. A powerful kick, good overhead mark and one player who was versatile enough to go forward forward for a few weeks and kick three goals, Whiting had a memorable year. She finished the season with 14.6 disposals, 2.7 marks, 1.6 tackles, 1.6 inside 50s and 4.1 rebound 50s, picking up double-digit disposals in all bar three of her matches, having a season-high 24 disposals and 14 rebound 50s in the grand final.

Zoe Venning

Another State Academy member who put together a better season than her last earned a Breakthrough Player nomination and averaged 16.5 disposals, 2.3 marks, 4.7 tackles, 2.1 clearances, 2.8 inside 50s and 1.2 rebound 50s per game. Predominantly playing inside midfield and then later on as a high half-forward, Venning brought the pressure and work rate that saw her really standout for the Bloods. Receiving an AFLW Draft Combine invite and earning a sport at half-forward in the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year, Venning had a really impressive season.

Chelsea Biddell

Playing 10 matches for the Westies in between her AFLW commitments, Biddell slotted 10 goals and was a force through the ruck as well as forward. Often pinch-hitting in the middle, Biddell was a strong contested mark, taking 15 of them in the season, as well as 4.3 marks total per game. She had the 13.1 disposals, 2.4 tackles and 3.5 inside 50s at SANFL Women’s level, and was a tough player to contain on any given day. After going goalless in two of her first four games, Biddell kicked a goal in each of her last six, including 1.3 in the grand final.

OTHERS:

West Adelaide had plenty of strong contributors throughout the year, with Sarah Dargan coming midseason to bolster the midfield, Keeley Kustermann and Abbie Ballard impressing when they were not injured, and Bec Owen being a rock as captain until suffering a heartbreaking injury in the preliminary final. Madi Russell and Taylah Jayne did some nice things in defence, Ailish Considine starred when in the team, and Louella McCarthy and Kate Walsh were among others who had some impressive games.

Picture credit: SANFL

SANFLW Player Focus: Brooke Tonon (Glenelg)

GLENELG took out the 2021 SANFL Women’s premiership on Saturday afternoon, bossing the game to come away 5.10 (40) to 2.5 (17) victors over West Adelaide. An even team spread helped the Bays claim ultimate glory, with a mix of experience and youth observed across the squad. 17-year-old Brooke Tonon was among the younger prospects to play a part, setting up well in the back half and even enjoying an early tussle with fellow state Under 19 representative, Zoe Venning.

Tonon is the prospect placed under our SANFLW Player Focus microscope this week; we run you through her game quarter-by-quarter, and bring you the key stats out of her Grand Final showing.

 

Brooke Tonon
Glenelg/South Australia

DOB: 19/09/2003
Height: 166cm
Position: Half-Back/Wing

2021 SANFLW Averages:

11 games | 14.7 disposals | 11.2 kicks | 3.5 handballs | 2.5 marks | 3.1 tackles | 1.0 clearances | 0.8 inside 50s | 2.5 rebound 50s

Image Credit: SANFL

2021 SANFLW Grand Final | Glenelg 5.10 (40) def. West Adelaide 2.5 (17)

#7 Brooke Tonon (Glenelg), Half-Back

Stats: 14 disposals (10 kicks, 4 handballs), 2 marks, 2 tackles, 2 clearances, 2 rebound 50s

Quarter-by-quarter:

Q1:

Starting in defence, Tonon was given an early taste of the Grand Final intensity when she dived on a ground ball and was sieged upon, conceding a holding the ball free kick. Her state Under 19s teammate Zoe Venning earned the possession for Westies, and proved a testing matchup in the first half.

Tonon got her own game going shortly after, backing her pace on the wing to burn an opponent and kick long down the line. She was also clean off the deck to flick a handball up to a runner inside defensive 50, showing she can play both sides of the contest.

The 17-year-old often lurked around for handball receives and knew when to run off her opponent, but was forced to kick under pressure and overcooked some of her disposals. Still, she matched Glenelg’s aggressive forward run and looked to take the game on that way, finishing the term with three kicks and one handball.

Q2:

Term two was somewhat of an ‘almost’ term for Tonon, who was done in by dodgy bounces of the ball and heavy pressure from Westies. She remained involved in the play, able to get her hands on the ball in congestion despite being wrapped up or knocked off it quickly as the intensity lifted.

She rose to the level as the quarter wore on, laying a hard joint tackle on Venning, before preventing a West Adelaide shot on goal by applying good body to the kicker. She also forced a ball out of bounds on the wing and did the tough stuff, but was not able to provide her usual drive on the outer – finishing with one kick and one handball.

Q3:

After being crunched in the opening exchanges of term three, Tonon bounced back well and got her usual game back up-and-running. She positioned a little deeper in defence and cut off a long kick inside defensive 50 as Westies broke quickly, holding the relieving mark.

She invited pressure with the resultant kick, but was sure to tighten that area of her game with a couple of better efforts via the kick-ins, sending one long outside 50 and the other short to an easy target.

Tonon’s speed came to the fore with her last two touches; the first was a handball receive at the front of a defensive 50 stoppage, which she used to power away and kick long, while the second was a clean gather in the corridor before dishing off a quick handball all in one motion. The latter contest was a particularly key ball to be won, with Tonon’s reading of the play helping Glenelg maintain possession and territory. She finished a productive quarter with four kicks and one handball.

Q4:

While Glenelg was not made to absorb as much pressure in the second half, Tonon finished solidly and setup shrewdly behind the ball. She attacked the contest well when called upon, taking a full-chested intercept mark on the wing, before kicking quickly over the top.

Her last kick for the day came from a last touch turnover at half-back, which she used to boot long down the line to a contest. Tonon’s last touch overall was a handball in the defensive 50, mopping up over the back with poise and dishing off quickly to set the Bays on the rebound.

There was not too much to be done in the end as the clock ran down, but Tonon capped her day positively and played her role superbly. She managed two kicks and one handball in the final term.

In closing…

Tonon has shown plenty of development in 2021 to become one of South Australia’s most promising Under 19 prospects, performing well at each level and in a variety of roles. Having cut her teeth on the wing, the 17-year-old has also been able to impact in defence with a good balance of line-breaking run on the rebound and defensive acts when required. She was able to open up the hotly contested Grand Final at times but did not shy away from the tough stuff, which should prove another handy tick for her versatility. Her positioning behind the ball as a sweeper and reading of the flow of play saw her win the ball in a variety of ways, able to intercept or be released on the outer.

2021 Academy Watch: SANFL Women’s Grand Final

IN the conclusion of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s finals series, Glenelg defeated West Adelaide by 23 points to take home the Bays’ inaugural women’s premiership. We took a look at the State Academy players running out for the four sides, with all notes the opinion of the individual writer.

Glenelg:

#7 Brooke Tonon

Wrapped up a sensational season with a fitting grand final playing off half-back, providing plenty of run and clean hands throughout the contest. She was good at ground level, and whilst sometimes she would be rushed by foot, she would fire off quick handballs around the contest to keep the ball moving in transition. Defensively she was strong and never took a backwards step, working well in tandem with her other defenders. Whilst she had a quiet third term due to the ball being tup the other end, she stepped up in the final term with a couple of intercepts and driving balls down the line, or quick hands to be an impressive performer in Glenelg’s win.

#12 Tamsyn Morriss

Did not find a lot of the football, but used her trademark skills and long kicking to advantage. Morriss took the first kick out from defence, and put it 60m out to hit a teammate. She had a good pickup on the wing in the second term, and then rotated between pushing up to half-back when there was a high line defence, and dropping back to the last line to mop up when required. Was solid with ball-in-hand.

West Adelaide:

#3 Abbie Ballard

The acting captain on the day played the way you would expect with her attack on the ball and opposition first class. She did not have much space like many of her teammates, but she would win the contested ball and shovel it out well. When in space she used her kick to advantage to get it forward, and never gave up, wrestling the ball out of a stoppage just before the final siren despite the game being done and dusted. A real captain’s performance with her work rate and intensity.

#7 Scarlett Griffiths

Did not manage a touch on the day, but laid a couple of tackles. Her defensive intensity when near the footy was good with a shepherd to allow Chelsea Biddell to have a shot on the ball, then dived on the ball and laid a tackle to her opponent in the third term, despite an overall quiet outing.

#8 Keeley Kustermann

Provided good run out of defence and tried to use her kicking to advantage going down the field. Did not have the space she could have to utilise all her traits, but put together a pretty solid performance. Laid a few good tackles and whilst sometimes she was out-bodied or overran it, Kustermann still was one of West’s more prominent ball winners on the day and kept fighting hard.

#9 Zoe Venning

In many ways was symbolic of West Adelaide as a whole. Had a huge first half with good intent and was one of the Bloods’ most prominent ball winners early, before a quiet third term which followed a busy fourth quarter. As a whole Venning kept having a crack, often under pressure or rushed, but really applied fierce defensive pressure, won some free kicks and was able to get her hands free on a couple of occasions. She did drop a couple of marks she should have taken, but her second efforts were admirable, and she laid some fierce tackles all over the ground, covering the field with ease.

#30 Lauren Young

To no-one’s surprise, Young was never going to have it too easy, with Glenelg ensuring there was a body on her at all times around the stoppages. She was prominent in the first term, then really won a lot of it in the second half, taking some huge contested grabs and winning it in all thirds of the ground. On a number of occasions she won free kicks for being pushed out of marking contests, with the umpires very aware of her height and the opposition’s willingness to nullify her. She made a few mistakes by foot, but then her best included a pinpoint pass inside 50 to Biddell, and was an intercept machine in the defensive half of the ground up to the wing.

SANFLW mature-age talent continues to flourish

READYMADE mature-age talent is something AFL Women’s clubs are often searching for in order to fill needs, or potentially top up areas of depth that they can exploit at the elite level. Last year the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s contribution to the AFL Women’s Draft might have flown under the radar a little because of the view of the current zoning system, but a remarkable 10 players actually got drafted.

It might not seem like a lot in the scheme of things, but in an elite level league which is still not a full-time job, the fact that clubs across the country are taking advantage of the SANFL Women’s for it’s growth and development of talent is a huge tick for the competition and the eight clubs involved. Naturally Adelaide has a smorgasbord of options, picking up young gun Teah Charlton, along with mature-age talents Rachelle Martin and Ash Woodland, whilst another teenager in Indy Tahau went to Brisbane.

By the end of the AFL Women’s Draft, four players had been picked up from the SANFL Women’s. At that stage it might have looked like a low number, but then in came the rookie draft options, with all four free spots on club lists – Collingwood, St Kilda and West Coast (two) – were used on South Australians. North Adelaide duo Lauren Gauci and Amber Ward went to West Coast, Tahlia Meyer headed to the Saints, and Norwood’s Bella Smith teamed up with ex-Redlegs coach and mentor Steve Symonds at the Pies. They were not done yet though, with Sturt’s Georgia Bevan heading to Gold Coast and another North product Katelyn Pope joining her Roosters teammates at the Eagles as replacement players.

The reality is, there is too much South Australian talent to just be filtering into one team, and the other AFLW clubs are well aware of that fact based on the draft results. For players moving interstate, their relocation costs are covered for them if taken after the AFLW Draft, or in other words, if a state they do not nominate opts to select them. Hence only Tahau – who hand family in Queensland – would have needed to cover relocation costs. It is a win-win for clubs and players, with the extra spots available post-draft and mature-age talent being able to live out their dream even if it means moving interstate.

So with that in mind, let us fast forward to the 2021 AFL Women’s Draft. South Australia has two AFL Women’s Academy members in Zoe Prowse and Gypsy Schirmer. Prowse is clearly the standout ruck across the country in terms of this year’s top-age crop and not only that, her versatility to play forward and through the midfield makes her a terrific young talent. Schirmer might be a bit more raw, but her athleticism and attack on the contest, along with her forward ability and upside, make it easy to see why she was included in the AFLW Academy.

The Crows currently have four selections in the AFL Women’s Draft, though with Trade Week still underway, and list lodgements yet to be confirmed, there is still enough in play to be unsure of how many picks they take. West Adelaide’s Zoe Venning and Glenelg’s Brooke Tonon have put in a body of work this year, whilst the likes of South Adelaide’s Tahlita Buethke and Norwood’s Alana Lishmund have also impressed at different stages over the course of their junior careers.

One thing in the mind of South Australians is the fact that with the recent announcement of the AFL Women’s expansion to include all 18 teams, Port Adelaide is anticipated to potentially have a club entering the competition following the 2023 season, meaning players that are looked over even now, could well be considered for the Power in a couple of years time. With 18-year-olds in this year’s draft set to be 20-21 by the time the first round of AFL Women’s in 2024 starts – providing as expected Port does have a team – then they have built up some great consistent state league football in the meantime.

But rewinding back to the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft, we saw the likes of Martin, Meyer and Pope selected having missed out on multiple drafts prior, but then doing enough to suggest they could transition to the elite level. So, in 2021, who could be those players who have missed out on multiple drafts, ie. are – or turning – 20-years-old (or more) that have put in some great consistent efforts in the SANFL Women’s to be considered for the top level?

West Adelaide’s Sharni Whiting has to be near the top of the list. Not only is the key defender – who can play key forward – a lovely contested mark and booming kick, she has proven to do it on the big stage with a standout effort for the Bloods in their loss to Glenelg on the weekend. Whiting played all 14 games, averaging 14.6 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.1 rebound 50s and kicked at an elite 89 per cent. As a readymade key position player, Whiting came out of the Western Jets and Williamstown, having played as a key forward in the VFL Women’s, and now predominantly key back in the SANFL Women’s. Turning 21-years-old in August, she could step straight into a side.

One-time Adelaide Crows key in Katelyn Rosenzweig continues to be a name who could make the step up again. Booting 11 goals in 11 games this season, the Central District prospect who turns 21 at the end of the month, is a readymade contested marking talent. In 2021, Rosenzweig averaged 11.6 disposals, 3.8 marks and 2.0 tackles per game, also taking a contested mark in every match she played, for almost two per game on average. For teams needing a target inside 50, she has the talent and strength to make a difference, but would be a sure target for the Power in a couple of years.

From a midfielder’s perspective, there are a couple of names – among many – that standout. A proven performer at the top level, Sophie Armitstead played four games for the Crows in the inaugural seasons, 2017-18. Injuries played a part in her short career, but she remains one of the more versatile players going around in the SANFL Women’s, averaging 13.4 disposals, 5.8 tackles, 3.7 clearances and 2.2 inside 50s, able to play just about anywhere. She turns 27 in October, so an older option compared to the other names, but one who could slot straight in.

The other midfielder who has also proven capable of playing in multiple positions is Glenelg’s Jess Bates. Making the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year and being co-captain in the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year, Bates enjoyed a terrific second season in the competition, averaging 15.4 disposals, 2.2 marks, 2.2 inside 50s, 3.1 clearances, 1.7 rebound 50s and a massive 8.5 tackles. She is a two-way runner who can impact the play going forward, or winning the ball back from the opposition.

There are plenty more options across the competition who could easily make the step up, with the likes of Erica Greet, Isobel Kuiper and Tessa Kohn all making the starting midfield of the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year following fantastic seasons. Leah Cutting was the standout ruck in 2021, with Norwood’s Morgan Johnston another readymade defender with good composure and had her best season thus far.

Given the success of the SANFL Women’s in fostering talent to the elite level last season, it will be fascinating to see what happens in 2021.

Picture credit: Scott Starkey

Glenelg claims maiden SANFLW premiership with 23-point triumph

GLENELG has claimed its maiden South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s premiership after defeating West Adelaide by 23 points in a hard-fought and memorable grand final yesterday. The Bays lead from start to finish, as Adelaide AFL Women’s star Ebony Marinoff won best on ground honours for a remarkable 31-disposal game. Whilst West Adelaide showed plenty of promising signs for the future, Glenelg showed why they had reached the decider off a direct semi-finals win over Norwood, defeating Westies 5.10 (40) to 2.5 (17).

Glenelg came into the match with fresh legs after the week off, and the first goal in any grand final is important, but to get the ball rolling in the opening 30 seconds is rare. Jess Searle achieved just that with a superb major to get her side on the board. In what would be a fitting effort symbolic of her exploits on the day, Marinoff showed strength, poise and grace to snap a goal midway through the term to help her side to a 12-point quarter time lead.

Fellow AFL Women’s talent Chelsea Biddell got her side on the board seven minutes into the second term, and whilst Searle kicked her second major, soon Sarah Dargan got involved and Westies were back within five points with only a few minutes left in the half. Jessica Bates settled the nerves with an important response in the dying minutes of the first half, and the Bays headed into half-time with another 12-point advantage.

Neither team could really take the advantage in the third term, as Searle missed a chance, and Biddell kicked two behinds for Westies, and the teams were again separated by two straight goals when the break came about. With one quarter to play, Glenelg through everything at maintaining the lead, and whilst they could not quite find the big sticks for the most part – kicking five behinds as part of eight straight behinds since half-time – Marinoff came in and put the icing on the cake in the final minute to hand the Bays a memorable 23-point victory.

Glenelg lead the disposals (plus-36), marks (plus-12) and tackles (plus-12) in a really impressive inside and outside effort. Whilst the clearances did tip the Bays’ way (27-24), it was the hitouts (34-13) and inside 50s (43-14) that really weighed in the second placed side’s favour. West Adelaide did impressively well to clear the ball more often than not with a massive 37 rebound 50s to Glenelg’s 11, but in the end the weight of numbers won out and Glenelg was able to capitalise.

Marinoff was a clear best on ground with 31 disposals, three marks – one contested – five tackles, five clearances, seven inside 50s and two goals. Caitlin Gould dominated through the ruck with 27 hitouts, five clearances and six inside 50s to go with 21 touches, eight marks – six contested – and six tackles. Ellie Kellock (14 disposals, three marks, six clearances and five inside 50s) also dominated on the inside, whilst Brooke Tonon (14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, two clearances and two rebound 50s), Piper Window (13 disposals, two marks, two clearances and five inside 50s) and Sarah Goodwin (12 disposals, two marks, two tackles and seven inside 50s) all provided movement in transition.

For the Bloods, Sharnie Whiting stood up in defence with a whopping 14 rebounds 50s – the most of any individual in a game this year – as well as 24 disposals, two marks and three clearances. Young guns Lauren Young (18 disposals, six marks – five contested – four tackles, two clearances, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s), Keeley Kustermann (15 disposals, three tackles and four rebound 50s), acting captain Abbie Ballard (14 disposals, four tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and Zoe Venning (14 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) were all impressive. AFL Women’s talents in Biddell (14 disposals, six marks – five contested – four tackles, three hitouts, three rebound 50s and 1.3) and Dargan (14 disposals, four tackles, four clearances, two rebound 50s and a goal) also tried to provide a spark.

Upon being announced best on ground, Marinoff spoke of her love for returning to the yellow and black at the end of the AFLW season.

“It’s great to be able to come back to this league and help some players and I love this footy club and I’m so proud to be apart of Tigerland, the Bays,” she said. “The club supports us girls week-in, week-out and I just love coming back and playing for them and having an influence on the younger girls.

Glenelg premiership coach Jason Fairall praised his group saying everyone had helped lead the side to its premiership, not just the team on the day.

“To our squad .. there’s more than 22, there’s a lot more substance to our program than that. We’ve been on an intentional journey over the last four years. There’s been some ups and downs, and a fair bit of blood, sweat and tears and it does take a long, deep squad to contend at this level, so today’s not a result of 22 players, it’s because every single member of our squad has worked their backside off and surrendered the ‘me for we,’ so thank you players.”

In defeat, Ballard said Glenelg was the better team on the day, but praised her teammates for their efforts all season in getting the side to the decider.

“I just wanted to say how proud I am of you girls,” she said. “Devastated we didn’t get the win, but I could not be prouder, we did so well this season, we’ve worked so hard and just to get to the grand final was a huge achievement.”

GLENELG 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.5 | 5.10 (40)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

Glenelg: E. Marinoff 2, J. Searle 2, J. Bates.
West: C. Biddell, S. Dargan.

DC BEST:

Glenelg: E. Marinoff, C. Gould, E. Kellock, P. Window, B. Tonon
West: S. Whiting, A. Ballard, L. Young, K. Kustermann, C. Biddell

Picture credit: SANFL

2021 SANFL Women’s Grand Final preview: Glenelg vs. West Adelaide

THE ultimate glory awaits one side in the 2021 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Grand Final, with either Glenelg or West Adelaide to be crowned premiers after Saturday’s decider. The two teams ranked second and third on the table, knocking off Norwood in straight sets on their way to the final game of the season, though Glenelg comes in with a week’s break, whilst the Westies have played through after eliminating two-time premier South Adelaide in week one of the finals series. We preview the massive clash between two exciting sides in the competition, and how the game might go.

GLENELG vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, June 5 @ 12:40pm
Thebarton Oval

CHANGES:

Glenelg:
In: Sarah Wilton, Lucy Armitage, Molly Affolter
Out: Nil.

West Adelaide:
In: Sadie Lienert, Tiana Fernandez, Madelyn Zacher
Out: Bec Owen (injured)

The bittersweet preliminary final win for West Adelaide was only soured by an early injury to captain Bec Owen. Unfortunately it ruled her out not only for the rest of the game, but the the grand final as well. Teenager Abbie Ballard will step up into the captaincy role as a current vice-captain, while Glenelg’s captain Ellie Kellock will lead an unchanged side which has included three additional players to its lineup on an extended bench.

SEASON RECORD:

Glenelg:
R1: def. Sturt by 32 points
R2: lost to North Adelaide by five points
R3: lost to WWT Eagles by three points
R4: def. West Adelaide by six points
R5: lost to Norwood by two points
R6: drew with Sturt
R7: def. Central District by three points
R8: def. South Adelaide by three points
R9: def. North Adelaide by five points
R10: def. WWT Eagles by 68 points
R11: def. Central District by 11 points
SF: def. Norwood by 23 points

Glenelg fans might not have had any fingernails left between Rounds 2 and 9, with each of the eight games decided by six points or less. They could not seem to close out many of them early, losing three of the first four and then drawing a fifth, before finding what they needed to win their last couple of games, before the return of both the AFLW talents and State Academy players saw them trounce Eagles, and set themselves up for an automatic Grand Final spot thanks to a win over Norwood in the semi-final.

West Adelaide:
R1: def. Norwood by 14 points
R2: def. WWT Eagles by 26 points
R3: lost to North Adelaide by 19 points
R4: lost to Glenelg by six points
R5: lost to Central District by 22 points
R6: def. South Adelaide by 37 points
R7: lost to Sturt by 45 points
R8: lost to Norwood by 10 points
R9: def. Central District by 12 points
R10: def. North Adelaide by 20 points
R11: def. South Adelaide by one point
SF: def. South Adelaide by four points
PF: def. Norwood by 24 points

West Adelaide by contrast have only had three games decided by six points or less and the only one in the first 10 rounds was the loss to Glenelg by a straight kick. Two back-to-back nail-biters against South Adelaide steeled the Bloods for a big win over Norwood last week, and earning the right to challenge Glenelg for the 2021 SANFL Women’s premiership.

THE KEY PLAYERS:

Ebony Marinoff (Glenelg)

It is hard to look past the experienced Adelaide Crows talent who is not only one of the best players in the competition, but one of the best in the country. She is hard to stop and remarkably Glenelg has the flexibility to throw her around the ground, also starting her forward at times, simply because of the strength of the Bays’ midfield.

Lauren Young (West Adelaide)

The youngest player on the field and the most heralded in season 2021, the 15-year-old rising talent won the SANFL Women’s League Best and Fairest, Breakthrough Player Award and Coaches Award, as well as made the Team of the Year. Despite being two years away from being draft-eligible, Young has already proven to be a player the opposition tries to quell, with the teenager receiving the same attention from Norwood tagger Elisha Gallagher last weekend that Marinoff did the week before.

DRAFT PROSPECTS:

From a Glenelg perspective, Brooke Tonon has really enjoyed a promising season with the Bays, after being thrown here, there and everywhere in her debut SANFLW season last year, she has settled at half-back with some time on the wing. Her ability to move the ball in transition and make the right decisions has really caught the eye, and she earned a place in the Team of the Year for her efforts.

Teammate, Tamsyn Morriss is another defender who uses the ball well and is a member of the State Academy, whilst Tessa Kohn is a 20-year-old who continues to improve having been a late arrival to the code. If it were not for the remarkable exploits of Young, then 15-year-old Piper Window might be gaining more attention, with the teenager holding her spot to play 10 games this season, averaging 9.7 disposals, 2.6 inside 50s and 3.0 tackles in her debut year at senior level..

From a 2021 AFLW Draft perspective, Zoe Venning has done her chances no harm this season with a consistent year playing inside and then rolling out to half-forward. She is one who attacks the contest and works hard through four quarters to win plenty of the ball. Another youngster who earned Team of the Year honours, expect her to be a player who wins her fair share early in the game and provide the pressure required on the big stage.

Whilst Young is the obvious name thrust into the spotlight and deservedly so after winning the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships and breaking the disposal record in a game (37) among her SANFL Women’s accolades, the Westies have plenty of other teenagers running around. In fact, 12 of the 24 players named were born this century, and of those in the State Academy, Keeley Kustermann is an exciting prospect to watch out for next year with her composure, poise and balance, as well as versatility across the field. Scarlett Griffiths (2003-born) and Ballard (2002-born) are others in the State Academy, whilst it is easy to forget that reliable centre half-back Sharnie Whiting is still only 20-years-old and would be more than capable to stepping up to the top level if required.

STRENGTHS:

Glenelg’s strength lies in its onball group, with a ridiculous amount of midfielders that can roll off onto flanks and spread around the ground. Kohn, Kellock and Jess Bates are all prominent clearance players, with the latter two able to play off flanks at either end. Add in Marinoff and Window who can roll through there, and the team has the flexibility to throw players around. The experience and leadership from some of those more senior Bays players will ultimately be a huge boost against a younger West Adelaide outfit.

West Adelaide just has all the pieces to have a genuine crack at the flag. They have the midfield, key position players and scoring options, but it is their ability to take contested grabs – be it Young, Whiting or Chelsea Biddell – that really sets themselves apart from the other sides. They can control the airways, and will look to back themselves in running from defence to attack with good speed and movement.

OPPOSITION OPPORTUNITIES:

Glenelg is a pretty consistent outfit, but the area where West Adelaide could get them is in the height department with so many players safe overhead. The Bays have most lines covered, but with size and safe hands of many of the Westies players, some of Bays might be playing undersized. For West Adelaide, they are young and exciting, but certainly less experienced than their opponents, and without captain Owen, the Bloods will need to play beyond their years because Glenelg will play a four-quarter consistent brand of football, so West will need to match that.

WHO WINS?

It all comes down to the midfield. The Glenelg onball group as a whole is outstanding, though you can never discount a West Adelaide side that not only features Young, but the likes of Sarah Dargan, Ballard and Venning. The Bays have more experience in there and one would expect they take out the clearances, but Kate Walsh is an experienced ruck and expect her to put up a fight against Caitlin Gould who has proven to tear teams apart be it in the ruck or down forward.

Glenelg is coming off a week off, so it will be interesting to see how that plays a part compared to the Westies running out last week, with perhaps the Bloods able to use that momentum to start off the grand final, and the fresh legs being a factor later in the game. Glenelg is the side you know what you are going to get and you know the level they will put out. West Adelaide’s youth and excitement means anything could happen, and one thing seems certain a nail-biter will ensure.

Tip: West Adelaide by 4 points

 

Picture credit: SANFL

SANFLW Player Focus: Zoe Venning (West Adelaide)

LEADING the game for disposals, West Adelaide young gun Zoe Venning played a major role in her sides win against Norwood in the recent SANFLW Preliminary Final, where the Wests’ secured their maiden Grand Final berth against Glenelg, who are also appearing on the big stage for the first time. An Under 19s South Australian representative at the recent AFLW National Championships, Venning was a major ball winner, particularly strong around stoppages and on the inside, where her toughness and speed were major weapons, she carried on that style into the game. 

ZOE VENNING | WEST ADELAIDE
4/11/2003 | MIDFIELDER/FORWARD

PLAYER PROFILE:

Arguably one the top South Australian draft prospects for the upcoming 2021 AFLW Draft, Venning is possibly best known for her toughness around the contest and elite endurance, allowing her to run out games without needing an extended break on the bench. She is comfortable either up forward or through the midfield, positioning well to get in front of opponents and create separation, which is particularly handy for her leading and clearance work. Venning is often balanced with her disposal, rarely blazing away and just kicking without assessing her options, where she looks for outside runners to handball to. 

PRELIMINARY FINAL SANFLW v NORWOOD

Q1:

Starting the game in her usual spot at half forward, Venning was involved early, pushing up the ground to be a link up option from the defensive half for West Adelaide, able to get separation a few times and take the marks uncontested and on the chest. The Norwood defence did well to create packs down the line, limiting the effectiveness of her kicks when she did not move the ball quickly. She hung around her ruck when she got a mark or free and attempted to get the handball receive and utilise her kick. She set up Wests first goal, getting the ball from a teammate just inside 50, then kicking into the hot spot about 35 meters in front of goal for a teammate to mark.

With the first term getting her a return of 6 kicks, 2 marks, 1 tackle and 1 free for, she was involved a fair bit and one of the main drivers heading into the forward 50. When she was in the midfield she had the opportunity to win a few clearances but had an opponent tight on her at all stoppages, making it difficult to get separation.

Q2:

With the heightened pressure, in the second term, it was hard for forwards to get clear leads or marks, meaning Venning found it harder to get involved early on playing the link up role. When the ball went in deeper forward 50 she looked dangerous, putting her head over the footy and getting the free kick for a high tackle, taking a shot on goal that was accurate but unfortunately dropped short. She was once again involved around stoppages and got first possession a couple of times, but the Norwood midfield were not giving an inch and were right onto her as soon as she did. Got a free kick for a holding the ball tackle later in the quarter, kicking deep to a contest.

Racked up 5 kicks, 1 handball, 1 tackle and 2 frees for in what was a good quarter overall, playing more midfield than she did in the first and making the most of that opportunity, unfortunately not getting clearances she probably deserves given her positioning work around stoppages, just unable to get through the other side at times.

Q3:

A good display as a balanced type of midfielder for Venning in the third quarter, she played her role really well in the midfield, positioning behind the ball to take an uncontested chest mark early on, and looking to use her kick to get Wests moving quickly. Looking to balance her disposal more she was not so quick to just bomb the ball long, rather assessing if there was a handball option first and then making the decision quickly.

Finishing the quarter with 4 kicks, 2 handballs, 1 mark and 1 free for she was again consistently involved and one of the more noticeable ball winners for the quarter. Again being rewarded for her courage with her head over the ball and drawing the free.

Q4:

A more quiet final term than her first three did not mean Venning had a lesser impact, almost more involved around the play with her pressure work and one-percenters, just unable to convert that into stats. Received a free kick when she was held without the ball in the centre of the ground, with a long kick inside 50 for a teammate to run onto and kick the final goal of the game.

The final quarter saw a return of 1 kick, 2 handballs, 1 free for and 1 clearance as Wests came home strong, securing the win and their maiden Grand Final berth within the SANFLW.

SUMMARY:

21 Disposals, 16 Kicks, 5 Handballs, 3 marks, 2 tackles, 1 clearance, 5 frees for
(Note: Discrepancies from official stats may come down to different interpretation or events happening off screen)

Splitting her time about 50/50 in the forward line and midfield, it was impressive how Venning was able to impact to a high standard in both positions, with her pressure work and run particularly impressive. She was not afraid to go in for the contested footy, and the willingness to go in and put herself on the line resulted in her drawing some free kicks she otherwise would not have gotten. With the likes of Richmond listed Sarah Dargan and recently crowned SANFLW League Best and Fairest Lauren Young, in the side, to come out of the game as the leading ball winner for her side is an impressive result and will certainly catch the eyes of recruiters, not just in SA.