AFLW U18 Championships previews: Western Australia

WESTERN Australia (WA) is coming into Series Two of the AFL Women’s National Under 18 Championships with two wins over Queensland. We take a look at some of the players to watch and dissect their fixture ahead of what is set to be an exciting Nationals tournament.

Key players:

McKenzie Dowrick

Dowrick is an AFLW Academy member and is a reigning Under 18 All Australian. She is a primarily a midfielder but can play in defence, which was the position she was named at as an All Australian. The youngster oozes class and has already impressed in the tournament, as she was named best-on-ground and second best-on-ground in each of her two matches for WA. She got the opportunity to travel down to Geelong and play against its Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side in AFLW Academy colours and tore the game to shreds. Dowrick can kick and tackle well, showing good offensive and defensive skills, which will hold her side in good stead ahead of the second round of nationals.

Sabreena Duffy

Hailing from the Peel Thunderbirds, Duffy has a great set of skills that allows her to play great football. She was named in the 2017 AFL Women’s Under 18 All Australian squad and has enjoyed a good start to the tournament with a goal in each game so far. Duffy too is an AFLW Academy member and is no stranger to winning, having won three premierships with the Thunderbirds. She is also a recipient of the Cath Boyce Rookie of the Year award, demonstrating her ability to burst onto the scene immediately. Captain of the side.

Kate Bartlett

A key forward who knows how to find the goals, Bartlett could give her opposing defenders headaches on the Gold Coast. The Peel Thunderbirds product has kicked three goals from two games in the series so far and will be looking to notch up more in round two of the Championships. Bartlett was named in the Under 18 All Australian squad last year after she burst onto the scene with seven goals against NSW/ACT in WA’s first match.

Sonia Dorizzi

Dorizzi is a classy and consistent ruck who was rewarded for this in last year’s tournament with a spot in the AFL Women’s Under 18 All Australian squad. When she played at South Fremantle, she often thrived in key positions, which she could do in the upcoming tournament on the Gold Coast in a bid to counteract some of the most dangerous young defenders.

Shannon Whale

The talented midfielder will spend time in defence as well as midfield in the side for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Having come through the Rookie Me Academy program, Whale has become an important player for the side and will provide good drive out of defence with so many talented midfielders rotating through the side for the championships.

Abbey Dowrick

The younger sister of McKenzie, Abbey has already shown similar signs of talent and is the youngest player in the squad. At just 15 years of age, Abbey will play a key role for the Black Swans and give West Australian fans a glimpse into the future.

Mikayla Bowen

An important player through the midfield, Bowen adds another element to Western Australia’s side. Given the Black Swans have a number of taller players, the 162cm Bowen is a bottom-ager who played last year and showed a hunger for the football. A smart user by hand or foot as well, she is a danger to opposition teams in the middle.

Fixture:

Game 1: vs. Victoria Metro

Monday July 9 at Metricon Stadium

Two powerhouse midfields will go head-to-head in this match. Mikayla Bowen and McKenzie Dowrick will do battle against the likes of Metro’s Madison Prespakis and Abbie McKay, which should make for an enthralling battle. WA key forward, Kate Bartlett could match up on Vic Metro’s Georgia Macpherson, which will be an entertaining battle, as Macpherson’s hands have been all class in the TAC Cup Girls season. Charlotte Wilson or Molly Warburton could be other key defensive options, which will provide Bartlett with a big challenge to get her side over the line inside 50.

Game 2: vs. Eastern Allies

Wednesday July 11 at Broadbeach

This new side combines the best talent from both NSW/ ACT and Tasmania, which will be a good test of Western Australia’s depth. Mikayla Hyde has been one who has been able to stand up in the forward line for WA, and her support will be needed to notch up a win for her side. A couple of AFLW Academy members will go head-to-head in this match, as the likes of Alyce Parker, Libby Haines and Chloe Haines will come up against Dowrick, Hodder and Duffy, which should make for an entertaining battle.

Game 3: vs. Victoria Country

Friday July 13 at Bond University

On paper, Vic Country has a very formidable side but wasn’t able to notch up a win against Vic Metro in round one of the Championships. However, that could change on the Gold Coast as captain, Jordyn Allen can do damage in the back line or in the midfield, meaning that she could cause headaches for players like Dowrick and Hodder in the midfield or Hyde and Bartlett up forward. If she isn’t in defence, she will have plenty of support in GWV Best and Fairest, Georgia Clarke and Geelong Falcons premiership captain, Lucy McEvoy, which could mean that Sonia Dorizzi may have to play forward in this match for WA to provide support to the likes of Bartlett and Hyde.

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