THE Eastern Allies are a combined side of the most talented female footballers from NSW/ACT and Tasmania who will face off against the Central Allies, Western Australia and Queensland at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. With three AFL Women’s Academy members, the top-end talent is there, and expect there to be plenty of stars who shine throughout the carnival. 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.
The standout player from NSW/ACT, Alyce Parker has won her state’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award two year’s running, and was terrific against Tasmania in the first series. Now she teams up with Tasmania’s brightest stars, expect Parker to be just as important in the midfield and look to back up her 2017 All Australian place.
Mostly played up forward in the AFL Women’s Academy match against Geelong VFL Women’s side, and the Tasmanian showed some good signs leading out from the square. She laid a few good tackles inside 50 causing ball-ups, while also always presenting for her midfielders. She did well with her second efforts at ground level. Has played through the midfield and at half-back for Tasmania in the past. A great athlete and smart reader of the play.
Chloe did not play in the AFL Women’s academy game, but she is primarily an inside midfielder who is tall enough to play down forward and play a key role for the Eastern Allies. Much like her sister, she has crossed from basketball and is athletic with good game smarts. Could be a key to the success of Eastern Allies along with Libby and Alyce Parker.
The Murray Bushrangers defender has put in a consistent season in the TAC Cup Girls and was a mainstay in the backline when representing NSW/ACT in the Division 2 AFL Women’s Championships. Ashley-Cooper is strong one-on-one and a competitive player who has a good recovery and is versatile enough she can play up the field. One to watch who could contain the opposition’s best forward.
An exciting inside midfielder from Launceston who has made a quick rise up the ranks and was a late addition to the Allies team last year before advancing to the All Stars game at Etihad. Having only just turned 17 years-old, she has a long career ahead of her.
She starred for Tasmania in the All Nations Cup last October, and has elite pace and agility. She can play through the midfield and is dangerous up forward. The youngest member of the Eastern Allies squad at a remarkable 15 years of age.
A name to watch at the National Championships, with the Broken Hill product having successful bloodlines through the state. Her brother, Isaac Cumming is on GWS GIANTS list, selected in the top 20 of the 2016 National Draft. Expect her to be one the GIANTS keep a close eye on to keep the family ties strong at the club.
Game 1: vs. Central Allies
Monday July 9 at Metricon Stadium
In the opening game of the series, the Eastern Allies take on the one team in a similar position to them – combining two states/territories to face off against other states in the Central Allies. The South Australian/Northern Territory side has plenty of talent that will trouble its Eastern counterparts with Nikki Gore, Rachel Dunstan and Danielle Ponter among some of the top-end stars who will wreak havoc if given the chance. It will be a great chance for the likes of Alyce Parker, Mia King and Chloe Haines to go head-to-head with them and try and get an early win on the board. A victory here will give them confidence going into the final two matches.
Game 2: vs. Western Australia
Wednesday July 11 at Broadbeach
The biggest challenge of the week will come on Wednesday when the Eastern Allies face one of the contenders in Western Australia. From McKenzie and Abbey Dowrick, to Shannon Whale and Mikayla Bowen, as well as the dangerous goal-scoring machine up forward in Kate Bartlett, the Black Swans have top-end talent and depth that will cause any rival problems. This could be a crucial game for Libby Haines to go back or forward depending on how the match flows, while Eloise Ashley-Cooper could get the job on Bartlett. A danger game for the Eastern Allies, they will need to be at their best to topple Western Australia.
Game 3: vs. Queensland
Friday July 13 at Bond University
In the final game of the week, the Eastern Allies take on Queensland in what should be an exciting contest. The Queenslanders will have the home ground advantage at Bond University and while they have plenty of talent in their line-up, the one most likely to cause headaches for the Eastern Allies is Lauren Bella. The 188cm ruck is eight centimetres taller than any player on the Eastern Allies’ list, so her height could be a key concern for the visitors. Perhaps Alice Mitchell or Emily Hurley – both 180cm – could be used to combat her height, while Netty Garlo might be utilised for her speed to break the lines and trouble the taller Queensland side.