Season reviews: TAC Cup Girls – Murray Bushrangers

AFTER a positive start to their TAC Cup Girls campaign, the Murray Bushrangers fell away late, losing their last five games of the season. They came out firing, claiming some big wins against the Pioneers and Cannons but struggled to keep that momentum going for the rest of the season.

Position: 7th
Win-loss: 3-5-1
Percentage: 101.72%

Results:

R1: defeated Calder Cannons by 46 points
R2: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 40 points
R3: drew with Gippsland Power
R4: defeated Western Jets by 25 points
R5: lost to Geelong Falcons by 9 points
R6: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 15 points
R7: lost to Greater Western Victoria Rebels by 6 points
R8: lost to Eastern Rangers by 46 points
R9: lost to Northern Knights by 30 points

Key players:

Rebecca Webster: Webster was a key player for the Bushrangers, providing good leadership and demonstrating her silky skills. The AFLW Academy player was a real standout with her ability to create space and shrug tackles. She was not afraid to go in hard and win the footy and was influential around the stoppages. Webster provided good run and carry across the ground and was a real play maker, creating plenty of thrusts forward to help create scoring opportunities for her teammates. She also worked hard down back providing good run out of defence and applying plenty of physical pressure through laying strong tackles on her opponents. Due to her skill and footy smarts, Webster was named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year after receiving four nominations throughout the season for the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week. The talented midfielder continued to impress with her clean hands in congestion and ability to hit players on the lead.

Eloise Ashley-Cooper: Ashley-Cooper was a real workhorse down in defence for Murray with her ability to take impressive intercept marks and impose herself on the contest. She tackled hard throughout the season and was a real general down back, controlling the flow down in defence. Her slick hands were invaluable for the Bushrangers as she helped to get them out of trouble in defence and wasn’t afraid to take on the opposition. Ashley-Cooper’s run and carry was also a great asset for the Bushrangers as she helped to open up the play for her teammates. Her impressive footy smarts won her two nominations in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week and just narrowly missed the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year, instead named in the second team for hard work and class down back.

Olivia Barber: Barber was Murray’s leading goal kicker for the season, slotting seven goals. She was a key player for the Bushrangers with her ability to lead up at the footy and create good forward pressure by laying strong tackles and trapping the ball inside 50. The youngster has been a real revelation, displaying her footy smarts and composure under pressure, and booted two goals for Vic Country in the Under 16s win over NSW/ACT on the weekend.

Tamara Smith: She was a clear standout throughout the season, showcasing her ability to hit the packs hard and use her skills to extract the footy out of stoppages. Smith was creative with ball in hand and more importantly showed great composure when under pressure. The talented midfielder competed hard throughout the season and starred with her dash across the ground. Her ability to create forward bursts was important for the Bushrangers as her kicks into the 50 and tackling pressure added even more forward momentum for her side.  Smith was included in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year after being named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week three times, credit to her classy use of the footy.

Grace Egan: Egan was another star down back for Murray, showcasing her marking talent and hunger to win the footy. She never backed away from a contest and used her quick hands to work the ball out of defence and move the footy forward. Egan imposed herself on the contest, laying strong bone-crunching tackles and being a real workhorse. Throughout the season, she displayed her running power with her ability to rebound off the defensive 50 and create play up ahead for her teammates. Credit to her good year she was named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week three times.

Julia Harvey: The small midfielder/forward always caused headaches for opposition sides, buzzing around the field and winning plenty of the football when at the coal face. She would go forward and hurt opponents on the scoreboard, having good goal sense, and a knack for getting into the right positions to score. One of a number of players who was named in the Vic Country squad, she will look to provide good speed and a hard edge to the team up forward. Booted six goals in the 2018 TAC Cup season.

Millie Brown: The bottom-age AFLW Academy member managed eight games and got better as the season went on, named among the best in her final three matches. In the absence of a number of others including Webster and Egan at various times in the final few rounds, Brown provided the Bushrangers forwards with a penetrating kick from midfield, and good strength when in defence. With a year still remaining at TAC Cup level, she is a player who will be looked upon to step up in 2019.

Season summary: 

The Murray Bushrangers would not have expected to finish seventh in the ladder in 2018, but the main focus of development has been fulfilled. Many Bushrangers players have developed in leaps and bounds, and the team has strong players across every position on the ground. From Julia Harvey in the midfield to Grace Egan in defence to Olivia Barber in the forward line, Murray had options all over the ground. With many top-age players moving on from the program, it allows younger players such as Chelsea Hargreaves, Millie Brown, Kate Adams and Claudia McKimmie to step up in 2019.

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