THE Geelong Falcons and Northern Knights have proven themselves as powerhouses of the TAC Cup Girls competition, with both teams keeping their winning streaks intact. Dandenong also made it two consecutive wins, getting the job done over Oakleigh. While the top two has already been determined, the two sides will go head-to-head in round eight in a season that continues to deliver. As with last week, we narrowed our focus on a number of players who had been consistent over the past month.
GWV Rebels vs. Murray Bushrangers
#2 Renee Saulitis
An exciting player who uses her outside run to good advantage off a wing and down forward. She just bursts away with a few quick steps and seems to know where to crumb the ball down forward. She snapped a goal off the side of the boot in the second quarter and showed a clean pair of hands picking the ball up at speed but just rushed her snap on goal a little. She took a good mark later in the game but her set shot just dropped short, however continued to buzz around though there was not much action deep inside 50 in the final term for the Rebels.
#16 Lauren Butler
Butler seems to pop up at the right times and get to positions where she can switch play or drive momentum forward. She is quick to dispose of the ball when under pressure, raising her arms in a tackle and handballing clear. Butler drifted into defence at one stage, took a strong intercept mark and kicked long to Saulitis on the wing. With ball in hand, she looks composed and in one instance, took a mark and just calmly side-stepped her opponent with good agility to kick deep inside 50. She defended well through the middle of the ground in the final term, pumping the ball long into the forward line, and took an important intercept mark at half-forward from a kick-out but unfortunately her set shot drifted to the left.
#18 Sophie Van De Heuvel
Across the first three quarters I thought she was best on ground because of the damage she was causing up forward and her ability to bring teammates into the game. The first memorable moment for Van De Heuvel was a great kick in the opening quarter tight against the boundary under pressure. The AFLW Academy member had the composure to hit-up Alyssa Humphries leading out at her. The most noticeable trait about Van De Heuvel is her ability to not waste a possession and she is also strong overhead. She finished the game with two goals, had another from close range in the third term which just missed, and a set shot later on that hit the post. She did kick one of her goals from a powerful set shot. Laid some good tackles as well which was good to see.
#23 Sophie Molan
I have not seen her play a bad game to date, Molan is just that consistent midfielder who is still bottom-age but stands out with or without her AFLW Academy teammates. Molan is clean at ground level with a good burst of acceleration, kicking a great goal after hard running out of midfield. She set up another goal to Saulitis with a fantastic smother on Rebecca Webster, winning the ball and kicking long to the forward. In the third term she found herself all alone inside forward 50 for an uncontested mark, but her set shot just missed. Finished a great game with a lovely kick on the run to hit-up Saulitis again.
#25 Georgia Clarke
The centre half-back was enormous in the first half, pushing up into the midfield when required and winning some crucial one-on-one battles. She laid a couple of tackles to stop Bushrangers in their tracks, and she just reads the ball so well from the half-back line. She positions herself in dangerous positions to both intercept and rebound, and just keeps running all day. She picked up three disposals in one chain of possession in the third term, running from half-back to half-forward.
#35 Rene Caris
Caris had a solid game, particularly standing out early. Her ruckwork is very good, knowing where her midfielders are, and palming down to them with effect. She has quick hands in close and moves well for a taller player, offering up as an option across the ground.
#16 Eloise Ashley-Cooper
Returned to the Bushrangers side and had a few solid moments throughout the game. Playing off half-back, she was opposed to Van De Heuvel at times and created some run out of defence. She put pressure on her opponent and is able to defend in the air or at ground level. She moved up into the midfield at times, providing an inside presence at the stoppages.
#17 Rebecca Webster
A typical hard working performance from the AFLW Academy member. She continually hit the packs hard and never took a backwards step. She was often accompanied by a crowd of Rebels, but still stood out with her good vision and quick hands. She was particularly involved heavily early and she reads the game so well through the midfield. Webster’s strength was underlined at one stage in the third term, fending off two players consecutively. She had a thumping shot on goal from outside 50 but her attempt just fell short. She kicked an important goal in the final term, evading an opponent inside 50 with a feint snap before actually snapping on her other side and nailing the goal.
#22 Tamara Smith
A tireless worker throughout the game, Smith just continued to work hard over four quarters. Early on she won a good one-on-one contest against Molan, showing good body work, but her kick forward was intercepted by Clarke. Smith was composed under pressure and moved well through traffic, laying a good smother to start the third term which saw her win the footy, kick forward and lead to a goal to Claudia McKimmie. A great piece of defensive play was a huge rundown tackle in the fourth term, winning the football moments later on the wing, taking a couple of bounces and kicking forward. Overall, Smith has a good balance of inside and outside traits, showing fantastic closing speed with some bone-crunching rundown tackles.
#25 Grace Egan
Wore a different number in the clash strip to her traditional #42, and was solid, particularly through the middle patches of the game. She often looks for the quick handball off half-back and laid a few great tackles pushing up the ground or as a wall at half-back. She rebounded well and looked to switch play on different occasions. Moved forward in the last term and laid a bruising hip-and-shoulder in the final play when the ball was deep inside 50 and the Bushrangers almost got a score-levelling goal.
Eastern Ranges vs. Gippsland Power
By: Taylah Melki
#3 Emerson Woods
She was one of the best on field for the Ranges with her clean hands in and around the stoppages and her ability to compete well in the air. Even when she did not win the footy in the air she competed hard and brought the ball to ground to give her teammates the chance to win the footy. She took a few strong marks and provided a good option when coming out of defence for the Ranges. Woods was not afraid to go in hard for the footy and scrap for it at ground level to win the ball credit to her courage and commitment to the game.
#37 Georgia Macpherson
She had some really good patches throughout the game laying an impressive smother in the third quarter that stopped her opponent from banging the ball inside their forward 50. Macpherson applied plenty of physical pressure in and around the contest and was clean at ground level, helping to release the run and carry of her teammates.
#38 Laura McClelland
Her physical pressure was really good, harassing players and trying hard to win the footy. She laid plenty of strong tackles and used her body well to set up play. McClelland also showcased her ability to read the play and create an option for the Ranges to kick to up forward.
#6 Emily Haeusler
She worked really hard throughout the match for Gippsland and was probably one of the best for the Power. She was very clean across the ground and consistently imposed herself on the contest. Haeusler was very agile and good in tight spaces, helping to release her teammates. She used her good strong kick and running ability to help propel her team forward especially in the fourth quarter. Her follow-up efforts in the last quarter helped to inspire her teammates.
#28 Tyla Hanks
She was a clear standout for Gippsland once again. She dominated across the ground, taking plenty of strong marks and creating space to help release her teammates into space. Her clean hands in and around the contest were invaluable along with her ability to run and carry. Hanks laid plenty of strong tackles and copped plenty of attention from her opponents, but that did not seem to bother her as she went on to slot an important goal on a tight angle. She showcased her footy smarts and her ability to turn and hit a target, credit to her good kicking ability. Her work at stoppages and clean pick-ups helped to propel the Power forward.
Sandringham Dragons vs. Western Jets
By: Carly McClen
#50 Hannah Bate
Dominant in her role at half-forward. Nobody could get near her. Strong marking and delivery into attacking 50. Great third-quarter goal from 30 metres out, threading it straight though the middle. Kicked another good goal in the last quarter. She kicked the ball into the mark from 20 metres out early on but recomposed and took her time to secure goals for her team. Good marking at half-forward and delivery into attacking 50.
#25 Isabella Eddey
Strong tacking all day and hustling at half-forward. Huge impact in keeping the ball in the attack for the Dragons.
#30 Eleanor Brown
Good marking and setting up opportunities for goal. Good team play in shepherding and following through. Great running and kept her feet, showing good agility.
#64 Eliza McNamara
Played the roving position well. Ran all day with quick hands and following up, pushing the ball forward for her team. Creative inside midfielder who showed great attack on the ball.
#43 Abbie McKay
Good running to collect the ball on the run and jab it through for goal. Played her centre role convincingly.
#16 Elisabeth Georgostathis
Strong tackling creating turnarounds in defence and nice left-foot kicking on the run. Laid a great tackle in the last quarter against the running Eleanor Brown, who is tough to catch.
#30 Isabelle Pritchard
Strong kicking out of defence and pressure on forwards particularly in the last quarter. Great long kick left-foot kick.
#39 Cleo Saxon-Jones
Good direct kicking and was dominant in the ruck.
#40 Sharnie Whiting
Strong and long kicking out of half-back.
Northern Knights vs. Bendigo Pioneers
By: James Halley
#23 Gabrielle Newton
She is very good at picking up the footy below her knees. She was playing out of full-forward at stages and won herself a shot on goal with a great lead, but pulled the kick to the right-hand side.
#4 Neve O’Connor
Dominated the ruck taps all day convincingly. She had a big presence on the field.
#24 Alex Pronesti
She showed great footy knowledge to set up Britney Gutknecht for a goal when she had a set shot on an acute angle. Early in the last quarter she was unselfish once again to set up Gutknecht for a centering pass. Pronesti is becoming a well-rounded player.
#5 Madeline Brancatisano
She is a smooth mover, and dangerous in the small forward role. In the third term she got through two opponents to kick her first goal on the run, in what was a very impressive passage of play.
#22 Britney Gutknecht
Gutknecht was dangerous all day, presented well and was very influential. She capitalised perfectly from a set shot straight in front in the second term from a wonderful Alex Pronesti pass. She kicked her second for the term when she played on from a set shot in a lack of concentration from Bendigo’s defence. This allowed her to ease the pressure and create an easier shot on goal for herself. Late in the third term she kicked her third major from a scrimmage in the goal-square. Pronesti and Gutknecht combined for the second time, where a selfless act from Pronesti displayed the epitome of putting the team first. Gutknecht absolutely dominated the last quarter, finishing off with adding another two goals to her total of six.
#11 Jemma Finning
She played a role on Northern’s Ellie McKenzie and was beaten, but was able to curb her influence at times, such as winning a holding-the-ball decision in the last quarter.
#19 Kodi Jaques
Won a high free kick in the third term and kicked truly for Bendigo’s first goal since the first quarter. She played in the midfield and laid countless tackles. Jacques recorded numerous pressure acts, as the Knights had the ball most of the time. She was amongst the best for Bendigo, and was often found at the bottom of the pack all day, trying her heart out for her side.
Calder Cannons vs. Geelong Falcons
#3 Madison Prespakis
Dominant game as usual by the Cannons star midfielder. What impressed me most during this game was her leadership. When she went off in the first quarter, she was pacing up and down the boundary line and following the play. She yelled out spirited instructions to teammates and even the runner. Prespakis is a player who not only knows her own game but also knows her teammates’ games. She has a great ability to execute structures and can play anywhere. This was shown when she was moved to full forward in the second half and had an immediate impact, kicking two goals. It was the first time I’ve seen her in a one-on-one role and you guessed it- she can do that as well!
#21 Georgia Patrikios
Patrikios was her usual aggressive self. She ran hard all game and worked well up the ground. She kicked a great goal at start of the third quarter which gave Calder some momentum. Patrikios worked hard up forward and got deep into the contest at times. Took a good mark running back with the flight of the ball and cleverly kicked it to the top of the square. Demonstrated her high footy IQ with a really smart kick to hack the ball out of a tight stoppage. Patrikios of course executed her famous side-step wonderfully, continuing to demonstrate her impressive agility. She got to play on-ball at times, which suits her. This gave Patrikios the opportunity to find some space and dominate.
#18 Carla Rendelmann
Played her best game for the Cannons this season. Has an incredible leap in the ruck and won plenty of hit-outs. She also had an impact around the ground, using her body to keep the Falcons away from the ball. Took a huge mark later in the game and demonstrated great hands throughout the day. Had good awareness to be on the goal-line inside defensive 50 when Geelong was pressing forward.
#7 Olivia Purcell
Purcell’s gut-running was really impressive against Calder. This was shown when she sprinted forward to assist Renee Tierney, who tripped in a one-on-one in the goal-square, keeping the ball in the hot zone for Geelong. Delivered nice kicks into space and demonstrated good run and carry. Purcell moved across the ground well and when she couldn’t pick up the footy, she provided a good defensive effort through a shepherd or a tackle. In one instance, she cleverly side-stepped her opponent to buy her some time and find an option.
#23 Lucy McEvoy
McEvoy’s handballing was on display against Calder. She gave away plenty of quick-fire handballs and at times, gave stronger, loopier handballs to create the run and carry for the Falcons. The highlight of her game was when she laid a goal-saving smother in the defensive goal-square, which demonstrated huge courage and simultaneously halted the momentum that the Cannons had in the third quarter. In one instance, McEvoy did really well to trap the ball with her feet rather than bend down and pick it up. She was really calm and composed on last line of defence, shown when she still got a handball away while being tackled.
#18 Nina Morrison
Morrison took a composed chest mark and perfectly hit a target inside 50, something she has been able to do consistently throughout the season. Had good run and carry throughout the game and was speedy with the ball in hand as usual. Had good agility and picked the ball up cleanly off the deck when she needed to. Morrison consistently stopped Cannons midfielders in their tracks while hunting the ball herself. Always completed one effort then followed up with another. Took a great contested grab where she just snatched it out of her opponent’s hands. Morrison is ball magnet and a fantastic reader of the footy. She consistently provided an option for her teammates.