THE first week of the VFL Women’s competition produced a variety of different results. Many teams experienced historic wins while competition powerhouses such as Darebin and Melbourne University unusually kicked off their seasons with a loss. Each week, AFL Draft Central writers will be attending games and taking notes on the players from each side who performed well on the day.
Darebin Falcons vs. NT Thunder
By: Michael Alvaro
#11 Kate Tyndall
The former Western Bulldogs forward had a decent showing, kicking two of her side’s five goals. Tyndall got stuck in all day against a formidable Thunder defence, laying six tackles to help stop the flow of NT exiting the Falcons forward half. Her goal in the first quarter came from a handy Stephanie Simpson assist, and she proved to be a rare option up forward in solid patches throughout the day.
#14 Meghan McDonald
McDonald was by far and away the Falcons’ best, providing a cool head across half-back. Often acting as the loose number in defence, she collected a team-high 26 disposals, and spared Darebin’s blushes many a time with some clutch intercept marking to finish with nine overall. She showcased her lovely, fluent kick when sending her side forward and was one of the few Falcons to successfully take the game on.
#17 Stephanie Simpson
Somewhat of a Falcons veteran, Simpson was one of the more consistent players on the day. While she was caught in possession a couple of times early on, Simpson wasn’t afraid to use her dash and really bring it to her opposition on the break-away. She chimed in with a couple of clever plays, providing and assist for Kate Tyndall’s first quarter goal, while making the play from half-back to allow the Falcons to break for their second goal.
#20 Maddy Guerin
Back at Preston City Oval where she played most of her TAC Cup football for Northern Knights, Guerin looked right at home in the VFLW. Attending most of the centre bounces and acting as the Falcons’ primary midfield option, she took on a fair workload throughout the game. Having collected 16 disposals, four marks and four tackles, it was a decent day for the youngster, and she was able to show off her trademark burst with a couple of nice centre clearances.
#40 Hannah Mouncey
The VFLW debutant battled hard with limited opportunities coming for the Falcons forward line. While she wasn’t quite able to stick most of her marks, Mouncey used her body well in the contest and led up time after time from full forward. She broke countless tackles and used that skill to snare a goal from deep in the 50. Her repeat efforts were most impressive, but she lacked polish at times with her disposal – spraying two of her shots at goal quite badly. With the game all but over, Mouncey also had a brief stint in the ruck during the fourth quarter.
#3 Angela Foley
Foley found plenty of the football pushing forward from half-back and the wing, finishing with 30 disposals. She proved damaging with her 24 kicks, using them to gain momentum and get the ball into dangerous areas quickly, where the NT forwards would finish the job. She kicked a nice check-side goal right on the half time siren to really sink the Falcons’ spirit, and her five tackles highlight her good work rate across the ground.
#16 Sophie Armitstead
The Crows midfielder showed no signs of ailment after her season-ending knee injury as she racked up 15 disposals and converted a free-kick goal. A handy touch-rugby player, Armitstead converted her skills well on the day with six tackles and some good pressure through both the midfield and forward half. A good return from a promising player.
#17 Emma Swanson
The GWS marquee was at her best, dominating all parts of the ground on her way to collecting a game-high 31 disposals. A real smooth mover, Swanson looked quick and evasive with ball in hand and was near-on unstoppable around the contest. She was one of the better users of the ball on the day and lurked well around the stoppages. Her two first-quarter goals put the cherry on top of a good performance.
#26 Chelsea Randall
The Adelaide Crows star was outstanding, putting on a clinic in all facets of the game. She wowed the crowd with her aerial marking, blind turns, and one-handed pick ups – having some of her AFLW teammates in the stands yelling ‘stop it Chels!’. It’s hard to miss her with her socks pulled up to her knees, which was handy since you always knew something was going to happen when she approached the contest. She collected 23 disposals, four marks, five tackles and two goals on a day out.
#29 Marijana Rajcic
Deciding the votes for this game would be a hell of a task, with Rajcic one of many NT players to put their hand up for best-on honours. Spending most of her time forward of the ball, Rajcic provided a real focal point for the Thunder. She had a purple patch during the second quarter where she seemed to be everywhere – taking overhead marks, being hit upon leads and kicking 1.2 from a handful of attempts at goal. Finishing with 3.4 from her 25 disposals and eight marks, she stood out with her clean hands and the variety of avenues to goal that she creates.
Collingwood vs. Williamstown
By: Peter Williams
#4 Sarah D’Arcy
By the end of the game, she was probably the Pies’ best player. Off half-back she was sensational, intercepting nearly anything that came her way, taking some towering marks and putting her body on the line in defence. She continually ran up the ground when needing to impact a contest on the wing and won free kicks for her strong tackles. Throughout the four quarters, D’Arcy showed strong hands and was willing to take the opposition on which was crucial on a wet ground. Had a shot on goal in the second term but it just went wide.
#11 Eliza Hynes
Not a day for the talls, Hynes continued to present around the ground. She dropped a number of marks but considering the wet football it was understandable. The more important aspect was the fact she brought the ball to ground when up forward and always provided a contest. In the ruck she was quite clever with the way she was able to palm the ball down and use her height to advantage.
#13 Jamee Lambert
Kicked a couple of goals early and was dangerous inside 50. Played a great portion of her game in the forward line leading out to the midfielders. She almost had a third late in the game, but was constantly involved, moving up the ground and kicking inside 50 as well as being on the receiving end. Made history with kicking the first Collingwood goal in the VFLW competition.
#46 Sarah Dargan
Relished the full-time midfield role with a number of Pies out, and was one of the best. Her work ethic was great and she continually put her body on the line. She matched up with Jenna Bruton and really took it up to her. She kicked long in the first term to help Lambert kick the first goal of the game and just cracked in hard throughout the match. She was smart around the stoppages and was on the receiving end of a few handballs, while also winning plenty of contested ball.
#65 Emily Browning
I could have gone for a number of non-AFLW listed players here, but I wanted to highlight Emily Browning’s game. The stats sheet probably won’t do her justice, but she continually worked hard inside 50 and as one of the youngest on the ground just pushed up and received the ball on the lead. She had a huge applause from the crowd when she landed a monster goal in the third term to give the Pies some breathing space.
#2 Jess Duffin
The clear best on ground in my eyes, impressive from the first bell to the final siren. She had an impact everywhere she went, winning the first clearance and booting the first goal of the game. She took a number of intercept marks and had a shot on goal which just missed early, then had another crack with a snap from the boundary line but just missed again. She laid a bone-crunching tackle on D’Arcy as the latter was running into goal, and was steady in the back half. Just never wavered and was a huge reason the Seagulls were in the contest for the four quarters.
#16 Andrea Cameron
Cameron was one of the better Seagulls on the day, particularly early on in the contest. She has good core balance and this was shown by the way she was able to use her body well in a one-on-one at ground level. She protected the ball, shifted her balance and dished off the ball. Later on she took a strong mark leading out of the forward 50.
#25 Jasmine Garner
Played at both ends and caused some headaches for her AFLW side. She was good overhead and continually presented, bringing the ball to ground when she didn’t mark it. She won an early free kick and was always tightly watched, but a strong performance overall. She went back in the final term and did some nice things, taking some intercept marks and kicking long to the wing.
#34 Jacinta Reid
Felt Reid held up well in the defensive 50, matching it with a number of opponents. She provided drive out of defence and took a great diving mark early in the game. She was consistent throughout the match and will be one to watch going forward.
#35 Jenna Bruton
The Seagulls captain and Western Bulldogs AFLW premiership player just put her body on the line for four quarters. Opposed to Sarah Dargan most of the time, Bruton continued to crack in hard and won plenty of contested ball. She showed good vision to get the ball into space and used plenty of handballs to get the ball into space for teammates running on the outside. In the second term, Bruton showed her strength by fending off D’Arcy and getting the ball clear.
Western Bulldogs vs. Richmond
By: James Halley
#12 Jessica Francke
She is a really good mark and presented all day for the Dogs. Francke set a good example for her teammates to follow as she was usually at the bottom of packs. She just needed more teammates to help her out.
#14 Ellyse Gamble
Her football understanding was high as she sets up really well and as a result found herself on the end of some Richmond miskicks in the forward line. A highlight of the game was her intercept marking.
#25 Rachel Gastin
She played as all footballers should and that is in front, and it worked for her a couple times as the rushed kick went straight into her lap. She was a constant for the Bulldogs and had a very good technique and kicking skills.
#39 Kerrie Clarke
Clarke had a clever play when she hit-up a teammate for set-shot to end the quarter. She was really creative with her kicking throughout the match.
#45 Erin McLaughlin
Her second efforts were good but she just needs to present at the contest harder. She didn’t always mark the ball on the first go but she never gave up and gave second and third efforts, which would often would result in the Bulldogs making their way up forward.
#53 Kate Dixon
With a good leading mark she converted the first ever goal for Richmond in the VFL Women’s competition. She put on great pressure to intercept a kick-in to set up Emma Gunn for the Tigers’ second major. Dixon slotted the Tigers’ third in a well-taken set shot. She kicked another goal in the third term from a downfield free kick where she got good penetration on her kick from a set shot. Dixon kicked her fourth major when Jenna Colwell set her up in the goal-square. She was the most damaging player on the ground for her 10 disposals.
#59 Alana Woodward
Great tackling and smothering. She had a shot at goal in general play and just missed, bit it was a good effort from the distance she kicked it from. Woodward managed to be around the ball enough to catch the eye of many and her speed and smarts landed her in many dangerous positions on the ground. She was the chain between the middle and the goals.
#68 Alice Edmonds
She played in the ruck for the Tigers and played her role well, winning her fair share of the taps. She is quite imposing on the field and accidentally took out a Bulldogs opponent in the second term due to her size. Edmonds had the confidence to grab the ball out of the ruck a couple of times towards the end of the match. Hopefully she keeps her spot when Collingwood AFLW ruck, Emma King pulls on the yellow and black.
#61 Jenna Colwell
She was really prolific for the Tigers up forward as she finished with two goals. Her and Kate Dixon created many headaches for the Bulldogs defence. A highlight of her game was when she kicked a miraculous goal from the boundary to register her first major for the game.
#63 Jacqueline Graham
She was a general down back. She was one of the reasons why the Bulldogs were held goalless, as she was a constant intercept-marking threat. Graham had very good closing speed and managed to get a spoil on many occasions. Her efforts rewarded her with 21 disposals.
Essendon vs. Hawthorn
#32 Tait Mackrill
Has a really long kick and knows how to find space. Kicked it long down the line a couple of times. Mackrill executed a nice fend-off and high kick, giving her teammates the opportunity to run onto the footy. She saw she couldn’t kick a goal so she found the perfect option beside her inside 50. She also displayed a great spin out of trouble and went one better with a nicely delivered kick to the pocket. Was thrown into the middle in the fourth quarter and got two early clearances, often getting a quick kick away after her great clearance work. Displayed fantastic on-field leadership and was a bull in the contest.
#25 Rebecca Neaves
Did some good work to follow up her dropped mark, trapping the ball and giving away clean a handball. She was able to read the ball really well off a short kick from full back and curled the ball onto her chest. Did the little one per centers for the Bombers and was keen to be in every contest. A highlight of her game was when she executed a good pick-up on the boundary line and a nice kick into space. Neaves killed it in defence and worked so hard for her team throughout the game. Took plenty of contested marks to keep her side in the contest.
#15 Lauren Caruso
Had some really nice patches throughout the game but really made an influence in the last quarter. Laid an excellent tackle and won a free kick for it early on. Did some great work to hack the ball out of defensive 50 and was super lively around the contest. She was really composed around the ground, following the ball wherever it went. Took some nice marks and always pursued the ball after the ball after she kicked it. It was so good to see her playing footy again after captaining the Cannons to a premiership last year in the TAC Cup Girls competition.
#6 Alex Quigley
Took a good contested mark to start off her good day. Continued to dominate with her strong hands, showcasing some great marking on the lead. What impressed me most was after she took a mark, she would be composed with the ball in hand and not get carried away after a big grab. Quigley was so lively in the forward line and her hard work rewarded her with the ultimate accolade- making history. She won a downfield free kick and kicked the Bombers’ first goal. This generated a magnificent roar and every single one of her teammates got around her. It was brilliant to see.
#8 Hayley Bullas
Bullas is a great one per center player, doing all the little things to keep the Bombers momentum up throughout the day. She was able to lay a great smother that generated plenty of noise from the stands. Another highlight was when she grabbed the ball and reeled around to get a nice kick away, avoiding the player in her way. She was tenacious on the day, laying plenty of aggressive tackles and buzzing around the contest.
#43 Danielle Ponter
Did a really good job inside 50. Always presented even when the Bombers didn’t look like scoring. Took a great grab and kicked it nicely into space. Executed a really nice pick up off the deck and snapped it but just missed. Had a good handball receive about 45m out and bombed long for a great goal in the final term. Was lively throughout the day.
#1 Emma Mackie
The Hawthorn skipper stood up on the big occasion and in my opinion, she was the best player on the ground. Displayed nice quick hands throughout the game, always getting her teammates into the contest. Had a great play when she executed a great overhead pick-up in the contest, bought the ball down to ground, which gave her teammates the opportunity to push forward. Displayed excellent tackling pressure all afternoon. Trapped the ball well and executed a wonderful underground handball. Delivered some nice long kicks down the line and also got on the end of some, taking some huge contested marks.
#7 Phoebe McWilliams
Laid some nice tackles in the heart of the contest inside 50, applying great forward pressure. She was lively throughout the game, itching her way into the contest. She delivered a well-directed kick to the top of square and took a good mark on the lead on the boundary line. Did all her nice work in the forward line and tried hard all day. She was unlucky to miss a set shot on goal but displayed high work ethic. A highlight was when she took a great overhead mark in a contested situation.
#25 Meg Hutchins
Hutchins’ on-field leadership is a huge asset in her game. She played the majority of her career in defence for the Pies but often found herself inside 50 against the Bombers. She did extremely well in the role, kicking a brilliant long-range goal. Hutchins took some nice marks and used them to get and go. Executed some clean run and carry and was so composed with ball in hand. It’s almost as if the ball just flew on her chest at multiple times because she was marking it so cleanly.
#28 Sarah Perkins
Perkins was the standout in terms of marks on the day. Whether it was contested or on a lead, you just knew she was going to clunk the ball. She was excellent in a one-on-one contest and often worked her opponent under the ball. She never took her eyes off the footy. Perkins also demonstrated her agility with a great side step. What stands out about Perkins is that she always backs herself on a set shot, as she would mark the ball and turn around straight away to begin her run-up. She kicked two goals for the game and got reward for her hard work inside 50.
#35 Clare O’Donnell
Ran hard throughout the game and didn’t stop trying for the Hawks. Displayed quick hands and also used the ball well by foot. O’Donnell kicked a really nice goal in the third quarter to put Hawks 28 points in front. Really good work ethic and was a key cog in the contest.
#6 Julia Crockett-Grills
Crockett-Grills was really lively around the contest and did some nice things with the ball in hand. Executed a great fend-off and delivered a stunning blind kick. Leapt fantastically in the air and took the mark on the chest. Delivered a great handball under pressure and followed up her kick. Took a nice agile mark inside 50, where lots of her hard work was done.
#9 Melissa Kuys
Delivered a great kick into space under pressure. Was running hard all game and executed some nice pressure acts throughout. Laid a wonderful run-down tackle where she showed electric pace.