ON paper, Vic Country is one of the most dangerous sides in the AFL Women’s U18 Championships. Littered with premiership players, the side is a formidable outfit to say the least. Country may have suffered a loss to Vic Metro but will be keen to make amends on the Gold Coast. We took a look at the side’s key players and its upcoming fixture ahead of round two of the National Championships on the Gold Coast.
A 2017 All Australian, a Geelong Falcons premiership player and an AFLW Academy member, Olivia Purcell sure has a fitting résumé for this prestigious tournament. She is a hard-nut midfielder whose tackles were one of the strongest in the competition. Purcell’s penetrating kick and acceleration was often the catalyst for many Geelong forward thrusts. She also has an aggressive side which can challenge the opposition players who have been tasked with the role on her. Purcell will be damaging on the inside for Vic Country.
Hanks too is a 2017 All Australian and an AFLW Academy member. The Gippsland Power co-captain was named in her side’s best players in every match she played in the TAC Cup Girls season, thanks to her versatility. Not only is Hanks a prime inside ball-mover but she can also float down to the forward line and kick some majors in an instant to get her side some points on the board. She was one of the best players for Vic Country in their loss against Vic Metro, which does not come as a surprise, considering she is one of the most in-form players in the Championships.
Coming into the tournament as a premiership captain, Lucy McEvoy will definitely be a player to keep an eye on. McEvoy is a classy defender who has strong hands and a good kick. She too is a 2017 All Australian and an AFLW Academy member, which will allow her to bring poise and experience to the side. The 17 year-old can also play up forward and can be quite dangerous there, thanks to her great marking which she has demonstrated so well in the back line.
Jordyn Allen is a player that will never let you down, as she gives her all in every game. The Vic Country captain led the Dandenong Stingrays this season in the TAC Cup Girls competition, made the All Australian side last year and is in the AFLW Academy, giving her license to let her experience do the talking on the Gold Coast. Allen primarily plays in the back line and creates a wall of her own, intercepting any ball that comes her way. She can also make an impact in the midfield thanks to her booming kick and strong tackling. Allen’s great season with the Stingrays has awarded her with a spot in the Casey Demons Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side, giving her another accolade to add to her growing list.
Georgia Clarke was one of the most consistent players in the TAC Cup Girls competition, as she always did a solid job for the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels at centre half-back. Her fantastic season was rewarded with a club best and fairest win. Clarke too is a member of the AFLW Academy thanks to her unbelievable intercept work and marking in defence. She can play a great lock-down role as well, meaning that it will be very difficult for opposition players to get past her.
Nina Morrison was one of the best outside runners in the TAC Cup Girls competition. Her closing speed was also remarkable, and assists in her tackling, as she would hit her opponents hard. She can run all day and is a good user of the ball both by hand and by foot. A premiership player for the Geelong Falcons and an AFLW Academy member, Morrison has excelled in many assets of her football career, and now adds a Vic Country representation to her accolades.
One of the more underrated midfielders in the Vic Country team, Smith took out the Murray Bushrangers’ Best and Fairest award for season 2018. She has good hands on the inside, is not afraid to win her own ball and propels it forward with tenacity. She does all the defensive things right and expect her to be one that might match up on a strong opposition midfielder and be the one shovelling the ball out to teammates on the outside.
The sole Bendigo Pioneer in the side, Jacques is another underrated midfielder who can play inside or outside. She will work well with the rest of the midfield group and look to win her own ball, while providing an option to run and kick to her forwards. She can play around the ground if needed, but is often in close knuckling down to win the hard ball.
Game 1: vs. Queensland
Monday July 9 at Metricon Stadium
The ruck battle between the AFLW Academy’s Rene Caris and Queensland’s vice-captain, Lauren Bella could be one of the most enthralling battles of the tournament. Both players are coming into the carnival in good form, with both being named amongst their side’s best players in the lead-up matches to the Gold Coast. Expect Lily Postlethwaite to spend some time next to the likes of Olivia Purcell, Nina Morrison and Tyla Hanks, which will be a challenging task but a great battle nonetheless.
Game 2: vs. Central Allies
Wednesday July 11 at Broadbeach
Georgia Clarke could have the job on dangerous forward, Danielle Ponter, who has been on fire for Essendon in the VFLW. Both players have strong hands and position themselves well under the flight of the ball, which could mean that we could have an even battle on our hands. Clarke or fellow defender, Lucy McEvoy could even line up on the Allies’ focal point in the forward line, Katelyn Rosenzweig, who is no stranger to bagging plenty of goals. Seeing 17 year-old midfielder, Nikki Gore go head-to-head against Vic Country midfielder, Tyla Hanks could be one of the best battles of the game, as both players go in hard for the footy and possess sensational skills.
Game 3: vs. Western Australia
Friday July 13 at Bond University
Black Swans dominant goal kicker, Kate Bartlett could have her work cut out for her if she is to match up on the likes of Georgia Clarke or Lucy McEvoy. However, Bartlett is coming to the Gold Coast on good form, having kicked three goals from Western Australia’s two games against Queensland. Undoubtedly all eyes will be on Tyla Hanks and McKenzie Dowrick, as the two versatile midfielders could go head-to-head in this match. Both are huge impact players, meaning the game could be won and lost in the midfield.
B: Bec Webster – Lucy McEvoy – Denby Taylor
HB: Emily Haeusler – Georgia Clarke – Shelley Heath
C: Nina Morrison – Tamara Smith – Jordyn Allen
HF: Julia Harvey – Nikia Webber – Sophie Van De Heuvel
F: Courtney Jones – Isabella Shannon – Lauren Butler
R: Rene Caris – Olivia Purcell – Tyla Hanks
INT from: Kodi Jacques – Lucy Cripps – Molly McDonald – Amy Dunn – Sophie Molan – Mille Brown