Category: News

From Eastern to Hawthorn, Ranges duo celebrate flag

EASTERN Ranges duo Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods have basked in the glory of a Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s premiership yesterday. The Ranges and now Hawthorn midfielder/forwards just “played their role” as they said, in Hawthorn’s 13-point victory over Geelong. Cann finished the game with 14 disposals, one mark and a team-high nine tackles, while Woods’ defensive pressure saw her also lay five tackles to go with two touches.

Both players were thrilled after the game, hardly believing the moment.

“It’s just surreal,” Woods said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting this, just coming at such a young age as well coming into the team, just to get a spot (is good) I suppose.” Cann was equally as excited. “You can’t describe it,” she said. “Winning a premiership with the best group of girls, it’s indescribable”

Woods said the speed of the game was the crucial difference between the TAC Cup Girls and VFL Women’s.

“It’s much faster, quick ball movement, pretty hard to keep up at times, but it’s good,” Woods said. Cann said she felt the bigger presence of opponents out there and stronger bodies. “(It’s) a lot more physical, the bodies are larger, but I guess you want to be playing at the highest level so this is one step closer.”

The last quarter saw the game on a knife’s edge and Geelong was attacking fiercely throughout the second half. Cann said the team knew the Cats would come at them, and had prepared for the momentum swing.

“We prepared what we had to do at training with our composure,” she said. “We just knew what we had to do and we implemented it.”

Woods said the most amazing feeling was with the clock counting down, knowing they would soon be premiership players.

“Yeah towards the end of the game, it was a bit of a surreal feeling with 30 seconds to go knowing that we’d won it,” she said.

Now both draft-eligible players will prepare for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine next week ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft in late October.

Subiaco claims third Colts premiership with thrilling victory over Swan Districts

WINNING your way through to the Grand Final is the culmination of a season of considerable progress, but by no means does it mean the job is done. Even though the body is hurting and the mind is tired, a special type of effort is required to get your team over the line.

For some Subiaco and Swan Districts players, Sunday presented a perfect opportunity to taste the ultimate success as they prepare for their potential senior AFL careers.

Read below for all the details on who became the 2018 Premiers.

WAFL Colts Grand Final wrap

Subiaco 9.10 (64) defeated Swan Districts 9.8 (62)

Subiaco have won their first WAFL Colts grand final in 29 years after claiming a thrilling two-point win over Swan Districts in a captivating contest at Optus Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Subiaco came into the contest with confidence on a sky high level after recording twelve straight wins, and were fresh after having the week off following their major semi final win. Swan Districts did not have that luxury, but came in as battle hardened after defeating Peel Thunder twice in this finals series. So the big question was whether Subiaco would keep up that momentum to the final game of the season or if Swan Districts had saved their best performance until last.

Just like their game two weeks ago Swan Districts dominated the early stages of the contest but could not make the most of their opportunities. Subiaco made them pay for their wastefulness with Mitchell Georgiades converting from 45 metres and soon after, Jake McKinnon was in the right spot to goal from a acute angle to give Subiaco the perfect start.

However, some ill-discipline by McKinnon gave Riley Garcia a gift which he duly accepted converting from 15 metres to put Swan Districts on the board. Rebounding defender Joe Hinder then put Swans right back into the contest when he converted from another 50 metre penalty.

It was a fascinating opening term with Swans amassing more than double the inside 50s of Subiaco (17-8) but still trailed by three points. In truth, the two late goals by Garcia and Hinder was what they deserved for their hard work.

Swans started the second quarter with some real purpose courtesy of Atem Deng who set up Jarrod Cameron. The exciting small forward kicked truly to put the underdogs in front for the first time in the contest. Cameron had another chance to extend the lead soon after but missed to the near side.

The overworked Subiaco defence were doing a fine job of keeping their side well and truly in the contest. Their hard work was rewarded at the other end of the ground when Jack Mayo who to that point of time had been well held by Jake Pasini, kicked truly to give the Lions their first goal in over a quarter.

Subiaco looked to have seized some momentum back when Nicolas Martin marked and goaled from close range to give the Lions a seven point lead. Turnovers were now creeping into the play of Swan Districts which would have been a concern to their coaching staff.

Subiaco now sensed a opportunity to take control of the contest when Martin kicked his second for the term and the Lions now had their biggest lead of the game. Needing to respond quickly, some good teamwork by the Black and Whites ended with Deng scoring his first goal from close range which was vital just before the half time interval.

A nine point lead to the Lions only told half the story of a fascinating 50 minutes of action. Swan Districts had 14 more inside 50s (30-16), but lacked a true focal point that Subiaco had with Mayo and French at their disposal.

The key movers for Subiaco were starting to get their hands on the ball with Tristan Hobley (11 disposals), Liam Hickmott and Luke Foley each having ten disposals. Meanwhile Riley Garcia and Mitchell Bain led the way for Swans with 11 and 10 disposals respectively.

Deng gave the black and whites the best possible start to the third quarter with his second major which cut the margin to two points. Once again the pattern of Swans’ amassing a swathe of inside 50s without getting full reward for their efforts looked to be continuing. Martin punished the profligacy of their opponents with a soccer goal and not long after, a pin-point kick by Hobley found Wil Hickmott on the chest and he converted to push the lead out to 12 points once again

A impressive piece of ball movement down the outer wing by Swan Districts saw Patrick Farrant kick truly from 45 metres. Subiaco led by a goal heading into the last change, but this was as close as Swan Districts had been in their four previous meetings in 2018 and were aware that a strong final 25 minutes would give them the flag.

Swans got off to the best possible start when a centre clearance by Cameron set up Farrant who kicked his second. The underdogs were now swarming all over Subiaco and a opportunistic pick-up and goal by Cameron extended their lead to seven points.

With Subiaco needing a goal, it was the key figure of Mayo who stepped up to the plate when his team needed him the most. Nathan French then snapped truly from close range to give us the third lead change of a absorbing fourth term. A frenetic passage of play in the Swans’ forward line caused a collision between Farrant and Cameron which saw the latter taken off with the blood rule at the most inopportune time. It was now end to end action with both teams putting their bodies well and truly on the line.

The calming presence of the likes of Luke Foley and Hobley were proving influential in such a tight contest. Deng missed what looked like Swans’ final chance, but from the resulting kickout Mitchell Bain converted truly with a superb kick from the boundary line.

In grand finals players are remembered for certain acts. It may not always fit the definition of spectacular in the true essence of the word, but its importance cannot be disputed. Subiaco pair Jake McKinnon and Jack Mayo produced such acts in the final few minutes.

With Swan Districts storming out of the the middle and looking to produce another forward 50 entry, McKinnon produced a smother which stopped the Black and Whites in their tracks. Then with Swans looking to clear the ball from their defensive 50 to produce one last scoring thrust, Mayo took a vital mark on the wing and was smart enough to hold onto the ball for his allotted time. Time ticked down and with the final siren came wild celebrations all over the ground for the Subiaco players as their long premiership drought was over.

In contrast, the disappointment on the faces of the Swans players was evident for all to see as they had put absolutely everything into winning a premiership and came incredibly close to doing so. It might be a empty feeling at this point of time, but coach Greg Harding will know that he has a special group of players and they will be heavily favoured to go one better in 2019. Meanwhile, Lions coach Beau Wardman has done a fine job in harnessing the best out of a team which has had a great deal of talent over the years but has underachieved at this level.

It was a game completely befitting of a grand final with no question asked for and none given. Players threw their bodies around like no tomorrow and there will be certainly some sore bodies feeling the effects of a brutal contest.

Not a lot separated the teams in most of the major categories apart from inside 50s which Swan Districts dominated 52-36. That will undoubtedly be a statistic that Swans will rue until they have the opportunity to make amends.

Hobley did his draft prospects a power of good winning the Mel Whinnen Medal for best man on the ground with the midfielder amassing 28 disposals and eight tackles. Foley produced a number of clutch moments in the vital final term finishing with 22 disposals, seven marks and six tackles while the tenacious effort of McKinnon was superb with 23 disposals and eight marks.

For Swan Districts, Deng provided a real spark every time he got his hands on the ball and finished with 18 disposals, four marks four tackles and two goals. Farrant may have been wasteful with the ball in the first half, but he produced some very important moments in the second half and finished with 14 disposals, six marks and two key goals. Bain was the leading possession getter on the day for Swan Districts with 24 disposals and eight tackles.

For many of these youngsters, the attention now switches to the draft combines and the team at AFL Draft Central wishes them all the very best for their future careers.

Scouting notes: 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final

WE witnessed one of the all-time great Grand Finals on the weekend, with Dandenong Stingrays holding on by a goal against the Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park.

Dandenong Stingrays:

By: Peter Bonadio and Peter Williams

#1 Sam Fletcher

Ball magnet during the grand final always finds a way to get the footy in his hands. Pretty good by foot in his sides win, having a massive 11 disposals in the opening term, and 18 by half-time. Won more than half of his touches on the inside, and just worked hard all day long. Finished the day with a sore shoulder and blood down his face and jumper – his second jumper of the day, having to change from the number one, to the number 61 in the second half.

#2 Hayden Young

Solid defender who reads the play well when the ball comes into defence. Great vision to sense where his teammates are and has the ability by foot to get the footy to them. Has distance by foot to switch play effectively as well. Used the ball very well and won the majority of the ball in close, can play inside or outside and will be a top pick next year. All class.

#3 Jamie Plumridge

Good hands to get the ball out of congestion and find open teammates on the outside. He showed good composure and did well when under pressure. Plumridge finished the game with 17 touches four marks, three inside 50s and three tackles.

#7 Jai Taylor

A quieter game for Taylor, but he did try and break the game open at times. Has that electrifying speed when he gets going though and had a couple of eye-catching moments. Finished with the 10 disposals and two inside 50s.

#9 Zac Foot

Two goals in a grand final, Foot has a great goal sense. He was very lively when up forward and applies a lot of pressure on his opponents. Not only was he good overhead in contests, but something good always seems to happen when he is involved in the passage of play. His best finals game with 15 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and the two majors.

#13 Riley Bowman

One of, if not his best game for the season. Bowman was terrific across four quarters and made the most of his height advantage over the smaller Oakleigh ruckmen. He was dominant at the stoppages and got first hands to it on most occasions, but also did the defensive things right, laying tackles, and putting pressure on the ball carrier. He kicked the opening goal of the game and got the crowd up and about early. He did occasionally rush a few kicks to go for distance rather than accuracy, but overall it was a strong game, and he made his presence felt with some good contested marks.

#15 Toby Bedford

He set the tone early with a great tackle inside 50 and just seemed to find space around the ground winning the ball. At times he danced around opponents and tried to set up plays, and while he was not as effective as his past two finals, still had a few eye-catching moments. He kicked an important goal in the second term to keep Dandenong’s momentum high, he just did not have the four quarter consistency on the day, picking up nine of his 10 touches in the middle two quarters.

#16 Jake Frawley

If there is one image that will stick with Dandenong Stingrays fans from the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final, it is Frawley charging off the interchange bench to crunch Will Phillips in a bone-crunching tackle that exemplified Dandenong’s intent on the day. Unfortunately he had a mis-kick with the free he won, and his kicking was a bit hit and miss at times, but his defensive pressure and hands in close was good.

#18 Mitch Riordan

He has built some really solid form since returning from injury, and did a few nice things when the heat was on in the game. Early on he took a good intercept mark at half-back, and just used the ball really cleanly both on the inside and out. He does not win a heap of it, but he gets involved around the stoppages and provided good support along with his other midfielders.

#27 Lachlan McDonnell

The stats sheet does not do McDonnell justice for the game he played. While he was quiet early, his long kick off half-back set up a scoring chain to lead to Bailey Williams’ first goal early in the second term. With the game on the line, McDonnell’s second and third terms were very good, creating run and carry, trying to drive the ball forward. His kicking was a treat to watch, and it was his running goal from 50m in the final term that sealed the game – or so everyone thought at the time. Really strong out of defence and would have high metres gained.

#29 Bailey Williams

Had a quiet first term and was beaten on-on-one by Will Kelly, but then started to get going after that. His one kick in the first term set up a goal with a good, deep inside 50. Williams had a chance in the second term and it looked a bit of a mongrel off the boot but it floated through for his first to get the team up and about. He kicked another important goal in the third term, and missed another chance, when Oakleigh were coming at them. He did not have a massive contribution compared to some weeks, but he did kick two goals at important stages.

#58 Will Hamill

Played a really important role in the back half. He took a crucial intercept mark in the dying minutes when he read the play perfectly, floated in front of an Oakleigh forward, snatched the ball from them and kept running to kick it out of the danger zone. His decision to come off his opponent and chop off the inboard kick could have saved a goal, and potentially the match. He won a number of crucial one-on-ones throughout the match, and even coach, Craig Black praised him post-match for his consistency back there under siege. He just has that touch of class, and is a kick-first type player.

#59 Sam Sturt

The draft bolter looked lively early, and actually beat Isaac Quaynor a couple of times on the lead, forcing Oakleigh to switch Quaynor with Charlie Beasley. Sturt not only provided a presence on the lead, but his effectiveness when kicking inside 50 was a treat. He set up a goal for Zac Foot in the first term when he handballed off the deck to the waiting Foot. In the second half he hit the scoreboard, booting two goals, while finding plenty of the football for a leading forward, taking six marks and firing the ball inside 50 on five occasions.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

By: Craig Byrnes

#1 Riley Collier-Dawkins

The tall midfielder was enjoyable to watch, producing an influential first half in particular that garnered 13 disposals. He was strong and clean in congestion, often getting his arms high to release or accelerating with eye catching flair into the forward half. He kicked a great goal in the first term, turning into the arc to finish brilliantly from 45 metres out. He is good overhead too, which is a pretty handy trait for a mid at 193cm, taking two strong marks from opposition kicks. He even spent some time in the ruck late, winning a couple of hit outs to advantage to the surprise of many. The first round prospect fought hard all day for his 19 disposals.

#3 Joe Ayton-Delaney

The exciting half back won his fair share of the ball, rebounding from the defensive arc with flair and vigour as we have become accustomed to. While he is encouraged to take the game on, he uncharacteristically got caught with the ball on occasions. He lost his feet and fumbled at crucial times in dangerous positions, but a lot of that can be applauded to Dandenong’s brilliant defensive pressure. He still had a good offensive outing though, giving his team drive and carry with the occasional evasive trick during the Charger’s final term comeback to end with 18 disposals.

#4 Will Kelly

Started the game in defence as one of Oakleigh’s KPDs, manning the dangerous and athletic Bailey Williams and began in fine fashion. He killed a couple of difficult entrances to the favour of Williams in the first term and consistently read the flight of the ball well. He won plenty of leather in the first half too with 13 disposals, but this is where he sometimes let himself down. Despite possessing a technically correct and attractive kicking action for his size, he often over hit his kicks which led to turnovers, including one that directly became a Dandenong goal. Spent more time up the ground in the second half, including stints in the ruck where he won eight hit outs. He finished with 19 disposals and is a great looking prospect for Collingwood as a father-son selection.

#5 Xavier O’Neill

The smart midfielder had his moments throughout the afternoon, spending time at the stoppages and finding the ball on the offensive side of the contests. He generally used the ball well, but had times when he could have made better decisions going forward. He did create some fast links though, including a long handball through the corridor in the third quarter and a brilliantly won ground clearance in the final term when Oakleigh were fighting back into contention. He finished with 17 disposals and five tackles in what was a solid outing for the Chargers.

#9 James Rowbottom

The usually prolific midfielder was in and around the ball, but struggled to have his usual influence at the stoppages. While he often finds a way to make time slow down in congestion, that relaxed manner saw him holding the ball for too long against the Stingray’s ferocious pressure in the first term and he was chased down. His intensity lifted after that, as he started accumulating ball and taking the first option to create faster link ups for his side. He released some really creative handballs during the final term in particular, nearly all of which ended as Oakleigh scores. Certainly did not disgrace himself, winning 18 disposals in a consistent performance.

#11 Matt Rowell

If you did not know much about the Charger’s bottom-aged star, you should be all over him now as he again proved to be a high priority selection for clubs at the 2019 Draft by being a rare best on ground recipient in a losing team. He is an elite decision maker with ball in hand, a player that creates comfort for his teammates and coaches. While his 31 possessions provided many excellent moments, his clear highlight was a brilliant kick to Dylan Williams inside 50 under extreme pressure. He took the game on in the corridor to get his side back in the game and while that led to some uncharacteristic errors, he was hugely influential in getting Oakleigh close. This kid is a genuine star and a worthy medallist.

#12 Noah Answerth

I really enjoyed the game of the Charger’s skipper, a competitor that was never going to let Dandenong have anything easy in any circumstance. He started at the first centre bounce and often went back to help his defence by sitting in the hole or directing traffic. He produced a big moment in the second term, chasing down the dangerous Toby Bedford deep in defence who looked like snapping a simple goal. He was effective at the stoppages too, using his body to advantage, spinning out of trouble and quickly releasing at one point in the second quarter. He was not far off Rowell and Collier-Dawkins as Oakleigh’s best, collecting 26 disposals, four clearances and six rebound 50s.

#13 Atu Bosenavualagi

The Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect is giving clubs plenty to think about. He is one of the big improvers in the competition and his AFL attributes are becoming more obvious by the week. He set the early pressure intensity for Oakleigh, making himself known without the ball and being physical towards his opponents. Although it is his attacking play that has really come on in recent weeks. A subtle side step out of traffic to create a goal for Williams gave Oakleigh an early lead late in the first term, while he took a clever mark from behind his opponent later in the first half. In the third term he burned off an opponent to give his side a genuine spark by kicking a bounce and carry goal. He is lively and if he wins 17 disposals like he did on Saturday, he will more than likely have an impact.

#22 Dylan Williams

Another bottom-aged star that had a relevant influence on the close result. Williams continued his outstanding purple patch of goal kicking form to finish with four goals from full-forward. While he only had nine disposals in an underrated one on one battle with Daniel Frampton, he created problems for the Dandenong defender whenever the ball entered his zone. Three of his goals came from left foot snaps or “J-curve” set shots, a skill he already appears to have mastered. His best came from a freakish, almost half-volley pick up from which he swung onto his left again with absolute class. He also smartly went around the corner to set up a goal for Robertson in the opening term and took an excellent contested mark against three opponents in the goal square for his first goal. This latest haul means he has kicked a total of 14 goals for the finals series, a very early indication that this kid has the tools to be a big game player at the top level.

#23 Isaac Quaynor

Probably one of the higher rated players that Oakleigh would have liked to get more out of. Quaynor started the game on Dandenong’s dangerous hybrid forward Sam Sturt, who exposed the Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospect on the lead early. It led to Quaynor being moved off him before the end of the first quarter and he immediately looked more comfortable as the extra defender. With ball in hand he was calm and made good decisions behind the ball, before being moved to the midfield later in the game. He did not get a great opportunity to settle, but we already know what he offers and the Pies will be more than happy to match a bid come November.

#31 Will Golds

The predominantly outside midfielder or wingman consistently found himself with ball in hand, winning it 25 times in a very productive outing. He is a player who loves to be on the move when in possession, whether it is darting through traffic or running to space to create a link up option. He is smart and releases it quickly, often with the next play up the field in mind. He gets in good positions and knows where to find a handball receive, while his kicking was creative despite a missed short pass in the middle that became a turnover during the third term. He did present Collier-Dawkins with a lovely long weighted pass inside 50 in the first quarter that helped earn his teammate a free kick and regularly hit up targets on the run.

#32 Jack Ross

The thick set inside midfielder has been generating a bit of interest in recent times and again produced some good moments in the Grand Final. He impressed when he went back with the flight and then laid an aggressive tackle, gathered the loose ball cleanly and quickly released to start the chain for an important Dylan Williams goal in the first term. He also won an excellent ground ball in the third term that set up Atu’s memorable running goal, again at a vital period to keep Oakleigh within reach. He then got on the end of one to kick a goal that got his side within two goals in the final term. He is a good player and most importantly rose when his team needed it most in an underrated outing to finish with 19 disposals.

#64 James Jordan

The draft bolter of Oakleigh’s midfield started the game on fire, winning 10 first quarter possessions to be one of the best players on the ground early in the contest. He won two extremely clean ground balls during that period, releasing both to the advantage of his teammates. He was having a genuine influence, but certainly quietened as the match went on. He earned a free kick in the final term after putting his head over the ball, but was rarely sighted otherwise after the first break. He ended the game with a respectable 17 disposals and it will be interesting to see where clubs rate him, as there is certainly some talent.

 

Non-Combine invitees who stood out:

#23 Campbell Hustwaite (Dandenong) – 19 disposals, four marks, five inside 50s, three rebounds and four clearances – huge contributor in the midfield by the co-captain.

#41 Lachlan Stenning (Dandenong) – 21 disposals, two marks, four clearances, four inside 50s, six rebounds – clean out of defence and stood out throughout with some important rebounds.

#10 Charlie Whitehead (Oakleigh) – 17 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s – put pressure in that forward 50 as he always does and could hold his head high.

Stingrays set out to make own history: Black

IT might have been the proverbial “monkey off the back”, but the focus from the Dandenong Stingrays’ playing group for Saturday’s TAC Cup Grand Final was purely centred around the present, rather than the past.

Stingrays coach Craig Black said everyone knew of the club’s grand final heartache – five grand finals all ending in defeat – but after a speech from Western Bulldogs defender Matthew Boyd at training during the week, the mindset was about making history.

“Matthew Boyd came in on Tuesday night and he said you respect the history, but you’re there to create your own, like the Bulldogs did (in their 2016 flag),” Black said. “The players there now, some of them weren’t even born in the 1997 Grand Final I played in. “I’m just rapt to get some reward, there’s been so many great people at our club. “Like you look at the talent managers, you had Steve Kennedy, then you had Darren Flanigan and now you’ve got Wheels’ (Mark Wheeler) who have put in so much work, then the coaches like Rob Dean eight years, Graeme Yeats 10 years and then I’m lucky enough to come in for five. So there’s been a lot of people who have done a lot of work around the club, so hopefully we can all enjoy the monkey off the back.”

Black said the emotions after the game were overwhelming with so many past players in the rooms and around the ground including Collingwood’s Adam Treloar – who is preparing for his own AFL Grand Final – GWS GIANTS’ Aiden Bonar, St Kilda’s Hunter Clark and Carlton’s Tom De Koning to name a few. The Stingrays coach said the feeling amongst the playing group was unbelievable.

“(It’s) amazing actually,” Black said. “It’s probably a mixture (of) we just wanted to get there, when the siren went it was more relief, and then the emotions you know when you see how excited the players are, you know it’s a kick the difference and it’s the end result is completely different. “Like you win by a goal or you lose by a goal, the emotions are completely different. “We’re happy today.”

Black admitted the last term was nerve-wracking with Oakleigh charging home and drawing within a goal in the final minutes.

“(I was) really, really nervous,” Black said. “That stoppage in the forward line I was like ‘don’t let the ball get over the back and we’re right’, ball gets over the back and I’m like ‘oh no’ and just our effort like Will Hamill and that just in the back half that just went ‘you know what, we’re not going to let them get this’ and I’m thinking extra time here, I’m thinking don’t concede a point, but extra time.”

The coach said the players were aware of the procedure if scores were level at the end of regular time and had been reminded on the day.

“Yeah we mentioned it during the week, and at three quarter time I just said to them, remember if it gets to 25 minutes, then it’s next score wins,” Black said.

Luckily for Black and the Stingrays, Dandenong needed just the regular hour to get the job done in what was a thrilling TAC Cup Grand Final, and one of the ages. Black described the win as a team effort.

“I thought our captain was awesome, Campbell Hustwaite,” Black said. “I just love the look of Sam Fletcher at the end of the game, like his shoulder was banged up, he had five stitches in the eye, blood all over his jumper. “That’s what footy means when you get that. “Our backs, like Will Hamill; Bailey Williams his effort to compete, Sam Sturt started the game really well. “Like anything you’ve just got to have contributors and I thought we had that today, and we were running up and down the ground when they were coming, we were looking tired, but we found a way.”

Hawthorn claims VFLW premiership

THE Hawks have made history in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s league after an 11-point win over Geelong in the Grand Final.

Not only did the team lift up its first ever VFLW premiership cup, but it was also stalwarts of female football, Meg Hutchins, Lou Wotton and Phoebe McWilliams who got to experience premiership success for the first time.

Basketball convert, Chantella Perera was the deserving recipient of the Lisa Hardeman medal with 13 disposals, four marks and five tackles in defence. Greater Western Sydney (GWS) forward, Rebecca Beeson (24 disposals, three marks, four tackles), VFLW rising star, Jayde Van Dyk (19 disposals, four marks, six tackles) and Eastern Ranges midfielder, Mikala Cann (14 disposals, nine tackles) also impressed for the Hawks.

If Geelong had won, Vic Country duo, Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison would have been hot favourites to claim the best-on-ground accolade, and could have claimed it even though their side lost. Purcell gathered 19 disposals and a game-high 11 tackles while Morrison racked up 20 disposals and laid five tackles.

New Geelong AFL Women’s forward, McWilliams was up and about early, creating the first goal for her side. She marked the ball just outside 50 and kicked it to the top of the square where Tamara Luke marked and kicked truly for the Hawk’s first of the day. Geelong fought back with a strong goal-line tackle provided by ruck/forward, Maddie Boyd. Boyd dispossessed Hawthorn defender, Jessica Sibley and then booted through the Cats’ first major from a tough angle just outside the goal square. Despite a dominant first quarter for the Hawks, they matched their goal with four behinds, giving them a slim two-point lead at quarter time.

After two behinds from McWilliams and Meg Hutchins to kick off the second quarter, it was unsurprisingly captain, Emma Mackie who steadied the ship with a goal halfway through the term. At the other end, the Hawks’ defence kept Geelong scoreless for the quarter, giving them an 11-point lead at the main break.

The Cats tried to bounce back in the third term but wasted their opportunities. They finished the term goalless, with behinds from Hannah Burchell, Maighan Fogas, Danielle Orr and Mia-Rae Clifford. These wasted opportunities hurt more when Sarah Perkins kicked a major in the dying stages of the game. In the Hawks’ only inside 50 of the quarter, McWilliams was again involved with a long kick inside 50 ending up with Perkins. Perkins gathered the ball with two opponents hanging off her, yet still managed to grab it cleanly and snap it through for the Hawks’ third goal. This gave them a lead of 13 points at the last break, leaving Geelong with a lot of work to do in the last 20 minutes of the game.

The Cats responded immediately though, with a long kick from ruck/forward, Maddy McMahon ending up in the reliable hands of new Geelong AFL Women’s recruit, Kate Darby at the top of the square. She made no mistake from directly in front, reducing the deficit to seven points. But not long after, it was Hawthorn forward, Emily Gilder who kicked the sealer with a set-shot goal from about 25 metres out.

This ended the scoring for both sides, and meant that Hawthorn claimed one of the most historic 11-point wins in female football.

HAWTHORN 1.3 | 2.6 | 3.6 | 4.6 (30)
GEELONG 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.5 | 2.7 (19)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: S. Perkins, T. Luke, E. Mackie, E. Gilder.
Geelong: M. Boyd, K. Darby.

BEST:

Hawthorn: C. Perera, P. McWilliams, M. Hutchins, R. Beeson, T. Luke, J. Van Dyk
Geelong: H. Burchell, N. Morrison, M. McMahon, M. Keryk, C. Blakeway, O. Purcell

2018 WAFL Colts Grand Final preview

THIS Sunday it will be Subiaco taking on Swan Districts in the 2018 WAFL Colts Grand Final at Optus Stadium. Both sides have had sensational seasons, with Subiaco taking out the minor premiership and Swan Districts finishing third. The Lions will be looking to win their first WAFL Colts premiership since 1989, while the Swans will be looking to win their seventh Colts premiership and first since they went back-to-back in 2007 and 2008.

 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

In the four matches they have played each other this year, Subiaco has won all of them by an average 35 points.

In their first encounter in round three, the Lions cruised to a 36-point victory on the back of brilliant performances by the 2018 Jack Clarke Medallist Liam Hickmott (27 possessions and seven tackles) and the 2018 WAFl Colts Leading Goalkicker Jack Mayo (14 possessions and five goals). For the Swans the likes of Graydon Wilson (18 possessions and 10 tackles), and Jackson Beck (17 possessions and nine marks) fought admirably.

In round 12 the Swans sent a scare through the Subiaco line-up when they got within two goals. Ultimately though the Lions prevailed by 21 points, with Jake McKinnon (28 possessions and 13 tackles) leading the way. Livewire forward Jarrod Cameron led the way for the Swans with 26 possessions, six marks, six tackles and five inside 50s.

Then in their final home-and-away encounter in round 18 Kyle Stainsby (26 possessions and 10 tackles), Liam Hickmott (35 possessions and 6 tackles) and Zane Shellabear-Healey (24 possessions and two goals) helped guide the Lions to a 38-point victory. However the likes of Kade Wallrodt (24 possessions and seven marks), Sebastian Bright (15 possessions and 14 tackles) and Joseph Hinder (25 possessions and five marks) never trailed off for the Swans,

In the Second Semi-Final, Subiaco defeated Swan Districts by 46 points on the back of brilliant performances by Luke Foley (22 possessions, five marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and two goals) and Nathan French (25 possessions, five inside 50s and three goals), as well as a host of others. For the Swans Mitchell Bain (24 possessions and six tackles), Wallrodt (15 possessions and four goals) tried hard.

 

KEY STATS

Both Subiaco and Swan Districts rank highly in a number of key categories.

In terms of possessions the Swans rank number one in the competition with a total 6067 possessions at an average of 243 per game, with the likes of Riley Garcia (25 per game), Mitchell Bain (23), Graydon Wilson (20) and Jackson Beck (19 leading the way. While on the other hand, the Lions rank number two in the competition with 6043 at 241 per game. Tristan Hobley (27) and Liam Hickmott (26) rank one and two in the comp while Luke Foley (25), Wil Hickmott (22) and Zane Shellabear-Healey (20) are also prolific ball-winners.

While in terms of firepower inside 50 the Lions are number one after booting 217 goals across the season. Jack Mayo took out the WAFL Colts Leading Goalkicker Award after booting 48 goals from 19 games, while Jordan Faraone (21) goals) and Nathan French (15) have also proven to be dangerous in the forward half for the Lions. For the Swans, Atem Deng led the way with 22 goals with Patrick Farrant (19) also finishing in the top 10 of the competition.

But both sides have also showcased they are excellent two way running teams with Swan Districts ranking number one for tackles and Lions ranking third. The Swans have the number one tackler in the competition in Sebastian Bright (153 tackles), while for the Lions Liam Hickmott (144) and Jake McKinnon (128) are ranked two and three in the competition.

 

KEY PLAYERS

SUBIACO

LUKE FOLEY

The big-bodied midfielder is one of the premier draft prospects this year and is shaping up as a big-game player already in his career. He is tough around the stoppages, has elite skills and has the ability to run all day. He can also drift forward where he uses his marking prowess to be a key focal point.

LIAM HICKMOTT

The Jack Clarke Medallist is one of the best clearance players in the competition due to his clean hands, footy nous and elite skill. He ranked second in the competition for possessions (484 at an average of 26 per game) and for tackles (144 at eight per game). His contested and clearance work is similar to that of North Melbourne star Ben Cunnington.

TRISTAN HOBLEY

The runner-up in the Jack Clarke Medal, Hobley is one of the best outside midfielders in this year’s competition and it isn’t hard to see why. His dazzling skills, incredible vision and sound decision-making make him a threat for opposition teams when he’s on the outside. He ranked first in the competition for possessions (505 at 27 per game), second for marks (100 at five per game) and was in the top 20 for tackles (68 at four per game).

JACK MAYO

The Carine junior took out the WAFL Colts Leading Goalkicker Award after booting 48 goals from just 19 games. He is strong in one-on-one contests, powerful on the lead, is agile, has a great shot for goal and possesses an excellent field kick. He has also shown versatility in his ability to play in the ruck as well as in defence when required.

KYLE STAINSBY

The reigning Newton Screaigh Medallist provides excellent run out of defensive half for the Lions and is often a catalyst for their attacking forays. His ability to either weave his way through congestion or break tackles and then spot a team-mate further up the field makes him one of the most damaging players in the competition.

 

SWAN DISTRICTS

MITCHELL BAIN

The High Wycombe junior is a bonafide midfield star and it isn’t hard to see why. He is tough around the stoppages, he’s got pace to burst away from opponents and has penetrating skills to carve the opposition’s defence to ribbons. He ranks third at Swan Districts for possessions (315 at 23 per game), second for total tackles (78), and sixth for marks (56).

JARROD CAMERON

The West Coast Eagles’ Academy member is always dangerous inside the forward 50 due to his blistering speed, dazzling skills and incredible footy nous. Like his older brother Charlie, Cameron also thrives on defensive pressure and expect him to make the Subiaco defenders nervous.

MATTHEW GERMS

Despite only playing 10 games this year, Germs won the fifth-most hit-outs by any ruckman in this year’s WAFL Colts competition (354 at 35 per game). His ability to control the ruck contests and palm the ball to his midfielders is first class.

JAKE PASINI

The Western Australia State Under 18s Academy member will have his hands full when he lines up on Subiaco’s gun key forward Jack Mayo. But Pasini is more than up to the task. A no-nonsense defender, Pasini has proven this year he can shut down any key forward due to his determination, physicality and aggression in the contest.

GRAYDON WILSON

The Centrals product is one of the best attacking half-back flankers due to his explosive pace and reliable kicking skills. More often than not, Wilson will tuck the ball under his arm, take on the opposition defenders and then lace out a teammate further up the field.

Stung into action, Dandenong delivers first flag

AFTER five heartbreaking TAC Cup Grand Final losses, the Dandenong Stingrays have delivered the long-awaited first flag to the club amidst a huge supporter base which featured past players, families and friends. The Stingrays achieved the dream through a six-point win over Oakleigh Chargers at Ikon Park in what was a fitting decider between the two top sides of the competition this year.

The Stingrays looked home on multiple occasions, leading by as much as 30 points midway through the third term when draft bolter, Sam Sturt nailed an important goal. Even in the fourth term, Sturt popped up for the easiest of goals from the goalsquare to push it to 29 points, the same margin when Lachlan McDonnell kicked a terrific goal on the run in the ninth minute of the final stanza after Noah Anderson had duly replied for the Chargers.

Even by the fourteenth minute, the Chargers needed five goals in nine minutes. Headlines were beginning to be prepared and stories were getting completed, but little did most know that there was still to be a twist in the game. Enter the Oakleigh charge, as Anderson backed up his effort from earlier with a second goal, Jake Gasper put his name on the scoresheet with an important set shot, and Jack Ross created something out of nothing. All of a sudden the Chargers had raced from nowhere near it, to a genuine chance to steal their fifth flag.

There was a sense around the ground that the momentum had changed and with two goals required in four minutes, and Oakleigh having most of the play, there would have been some nervous moments on the Stingrays bench. When bottom-ager Dylan Williams snapped a goal with 90 seconds left on the clock, the fear of a loss, or at least extra time would have crept into the minds of some of the Stingrays supporters who had seen the five grand final losses over the past two and a half decades.

The ball was locked inside Oakleigh’s forward line with repeat stoppages making everyone around the ground unsure of what might happen next. As the ball spilled into space out the back, everyone descended on it, but luckily for the minor premiers, the siren sounded on what was a magnificent victory. For the Chargers, they had fought right until the final siren, throwing players around to both mix up the game, and show off their versatility to recruiters.

The game had started on Oakleigh’s terms early, booting three goals to two in the opening term to lead by seven points at the first break. Both teams were up for the fight, and the second quarter proved to be the gamebreaker with Dandenong piling on four goals to zero and the Chargers were left to rue their misses, booting four behinds with some gettable chances. Despite Oakleigh’s best efforts after the main break, Dandenong still hit hard in the third term, booting four gaols to three to open up a 23-point lead, before the amazing final term which resulted in the Stingrays taking home the flag.

Talented bottom-age prospect, Matthew Rowell took out the best on ground award despite being on the losing side, racking up a terrific 32 disposals, 11 marks, seven inside 50s, four rebounds, two clearances and three tackles. It was a tough pill to swallow for the gallant Chargers, as captain Noah Answerth (27 disposals, two marks, four tackles, four clearances and six rebounds) and Will Golds (26 disposals, six marks, two tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) were also prominent in the midfield, with Answerth providing support in the back half.

When sole, undersized ruck Bailey Wraith had to come off, the Chargers were left to split ruck duties between the likes of Jay Robertson, Will Kelly and even Riley Collier-Dawkins – who humorously won a hitout against Bailey Williams. Up forward, Dylan Williams booted four goals from five kicks (nine touches all up), and Kelly was strong one-on-one in defence on Williams earlier in the match.

But the Stingrays had more contributors across the board, with a real team effort getting them home. Sam Fletcher started massively, and by the end of the game had one shoulder hanging off and blood streaming from his face – symbolic of Dandenong’s dedication to the contest. Fletcher finished the match with 27 disposals, four marks, three tackles, four clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, ahead of defender Lachlan Stenning who amassed 21 touches, two marks, two tackles four clearances, four inside 50s and six rebounds in his best game for the season.

Others who lead the way for Dandenong included co-captain Campbell Hustwaite, laying a massive 10 tackles to go with his 19 disposals, four marks, four clearances, five inside 50s and three rebounds, while Sturt and Zac Foot (both two goals from 15 disposals) provided plenty of headaches for the opposition in attack. Will Hamill played a really underrated game in defence, standing up in the final minutes with a number of crucial intercepts on his way to 15 touches and three marks, while Riley Bowman played his best game of the year in the ruck, having 22 hitouts to go with 13 disposals, six marks, three tackles, five inside 50s, three clearances, three rebounds and a goal.

DANDENONG 2.1 | 6.2 | 10.7 | 12.8 (80)
OAKLEIGH 3.2 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 11.8 (74)

GOALS:

Dandenong: Zac Foot 2, Bailey Williams 2, Sam Sturt 2,Lachlan McDonnell 2, Riley Bowman, Toby Bedford, Ned Cahill, Finlay Bayne.
Oakleigh: Dylan Williams 4, Noah Anderson 2, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Jay Robertson, Atu Bosenavulagi, Jack Ross, Jake Gasper.

ADC BEST:

Dandenong: Campbell Hustwaite, Lachlan Stenning, Riley Bowman, Sam Sturt, Will Hamill, Sam Fletcher.
Oakleigh: Matt Rowell, Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Dylan Williams, Will Kelly

Clarke comes full circle with grand final feat

AS the first former player to coach the club, Oakleigh Chargers coach Leigh Clarke can go one better on Saturday and become the first former player to coach his side to a TAC Cup premiership.

Clarke has endured a longer journey than most to come full circle at the helm of the Chargers, with a Peninsula league playing career, experience as both a strength and conditioning and line coach at the club, and as forward line coach with Richmond’s reserves.

Taking over from dual premiership coach Mick Stinear was never going to be an easy feat, but the talent of the Oakleigh squad speaks for itself, and Clarke revealed his troops all but coach themselves in driving a culture of success.

“Our boys have a really strong connection amongst each other so you can see in the previous couple of weeks they’ve shown that they’re really keen just to turn up,” Clarke said. “We don’t ask them to be perfect, but we certainly ask them to turn up and fix each other’s mistakes which are going to come often in a game of footy. “So yeah they really drive the culture and that connection that we keep getting back to… and they’re a very easy group to coach.”

Oakleigh has been in irresistible form over the last three weeks, with an average winning margin of 101 points seeing them poised better than almost any side in recent memory coming into an Under 18 decider. Clarke is well aware of their recent credentials, but considering the opposition, is keeping a lid on it.

“We’re feeling quietly confident, I think on the back of our wins we just keep playing our way whether it’s five points or 95 points,” he said. “We’ve been really proud of the boys, they’ve been able to continue to play for four quarters of footy throughout the last two weeks and they haven’t dropped off, which is what we’ve challenged them on is to be able to play four times 25 minutes and we’ll need to do that again this week.”

Dandenong have been the benchmark team all year though, and despite being the only side to overcome the ‘Rays this season, Clarke is still wary and respectful of his side’s opposition having also suffered a loss at their hands.

“I’m sure (Craig Black) isn’t planning to lose and we’re not planning to lose either,” he said. “They’ve had a great year consistently and to finish on top is a real credit to ‘Blacky’ and the program they run out there. “Ours has probably ebbed and flowed a little bit, charting through the year but coming into form in the last month… I’m sure both regions just hope it’s injury-free, that everything goes to course and it’s a good sign of 23 talented kids verses 23 talented kids.”

The strength of the Stingrays has undoubtedly been their aerial dominance, with an array of highly talented ruck and forwards, as well as big bodied medium players who can intercept well off half back. Despite being focussed on his own side’s progression and top four aspirations, Clarke inevitably had an eye on Dandenong’s heroics and key threats.

“You’re well aware throughout the year of each other’s wins, losses and who’s playing well, so in terms of what we focus on, we’re more focussed on what we’re doing but yeah you’re right there are some key players that we’ll have to match for height or find a better way of doing it,” Clarke said. “They’ll present with that height… we believe we’ve got the match-ups to go with them, which ultimately just gives you a chance to see the best talent and the best defenders play on the best forwards.”

But with all of the opposition’s talent comes Oakleigh’s undeniable ability, too, with a number of players showing notable improvement throughout the year around the outstanding seasons from each of their recognised stars. Clarke noted the how Collingwood father-son Will Kelly has come on leaps and bounds, while the likes of Collingwood Next Generation Academy prospects Bailey Wraith and Isaac Quaynor have continued to learn, grow, and drive standards.

All of the above have been led by over-ager Noah Answerth, who holds a special connection to TAC Cup grand finals. Having had his top age year marred by a freak back injury, the rebounding half-back has returned to the level hoped of him and has the opportunity to follow in his brother Kade’s footsteps in lifting the trophy aloft.

He is keen to match it against the best and gain reward for effort. “They’re a pretty good team all-round, they wouldn’t be in the Grand Final if they weren’t,” Answerth said. “So, we haven’t really looked at match-ups yet but we have one on ones all around the ground, we’ll find out at the end of the day.”

While favouritism has changed hands throughout the week and depending on who you ask, it is certain that this is as enthralling a grand final match up as we’ve seen in recent memory.

On Saturday, the season’s best will be crowned, with Clarke hoping his Chargers can continue to storm home and continue Dandenong’s grand final wobbles.

Comprehensive 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final Preview

IT is the equivalent of Christmas Day for the TAC Cup competition, with the two best teams for the year facing off in a decider. We have the clear benchmark all season, in the Dandenong Stingrays, taking on the red-hot Oakleigh Chargers, who have been in sensational form since all their school kids returned to the team. We take a look at the big game from multiple angles in our Ultimate Preview of the 2018 TAC Cup Grand Final.

 

2018 SEASON REVIEW

1. Dandenong Stingrays – 15 wins, 1 loss, 211%, 60 points
3. Oakleigh Chargers – 10 wins, 5 losses, 1 draw, 151%, 42 points

HEAD TO HEAD

R5: Oakleigh Chargers 11.6 (72) defeated Dandenong Stingrays 9.12 (66) at Warrawee Park
R9: Dandenong Stingrays 13.17 (95) defeated Oakleigh Chargers 6.4 (40) at Shepley Oval

CHANGES SINCE ROUND 5 THRILLER*

*Including extended benches

Dandenong:
IN: Sam Fletcher, Hayden Young, Toby Bedford, Finlay Bayne, Mitch Riordan, Daniel Frampton, Stephen Cumming, Luca Goonan, Matthew Cumming, Sam Sturt
OUT: Jake Carosella, James Hickey, Jarrod Smith, William Geurts, Sam De Koning, Bailey Angwin

Oakleigh:
IN: Will Kelly, Noah Anderson, James Rowbottom, Matthew Rowell, Kyle Dunkley, Lucas Westwood, Trent Bianco, Bailey Wraith, Will Golds, Jack Ross, Matt Warren, James Jordan
OUT: Sam Harte, Lachlan Bugeja, Xavier Fry, Matthew Fewings, Ben Silvagni, Kyle Viccars, Josh May, Daniel Scala, Lachlan Harry, Sam Elliot

 

WHO HAS COMBINE INVITES?

National:

Dandenong Stingrays [6]: Toby Bedford, Riley Bowman, Zac Foot, Will Hamill, Sam Sturt, Bailey Williams
Oakleigh Chargers [7]: Noah Answerth, Riley Collier-Dawkins, Will Golds, Will Kelly, Xavier O’Neill, Isaac Quaynor, James Rowbottom

State/Rookie Me:

Dandenong Stingrays [10]: Stephen Cumming, Sam Fletcher, Jake Frawley, Matthew Gahan, Lachlan McDonnell, Jamie Plumridge, Mitch Riordan, Bailey Schmidt, Jai Taylor, Lachlan Young
Oakleigh Chargers [6]: Joe Ayton Delaney, Atu Bosenavulagi, Kyle Dunkley, Jake Gasper, James Jordon, Jack Ross

Note: Ben Silvagni (Oakleigh) and Jai Nanscawen (Dandenong) have combine invitations but are unavailable due to injury.

PLAYERS

 

DANDENONG STINGRAYS:

#1 Sam FLETCHER

Just keeps winning the football every week and puts in a consistent effort. He will join Hustwaite on the inside and look to fire out a number of handballs to teammates in space, and will often look to win that one-on-one duel when given the chance. Does not get to the outside as much as other midfielders, but does all the damage at the coal face, expect him to be prominent in there again.

#2 Hayden YOUNG

The potential number one pick next year looked sore throughout the preliminary final last week and got moved from the back pocket to the extended interchange, so it appeared to be a waiting game on whether he would play. Unbelievable talent with and a hardness at the ball, can play anywhere on the field, but he has been used off half-back with that smooth running and deadly foot skills a highlight.

#3 Jamie PLUMRIDGE

Tipped by TAC Cup Radio’s Matthew Cocks for the Best on Ground, Plumridge has been a consistent performer this year. Plumridge is an outside midfielder who often wins it on the wing and pumps it inside 50 to the tall targets.

#7 Jai TAYLOR

An electrifying speedster, Taylor is one of the fastest players in the competition, and with Toby Bedford, has the capability of breaking the lines and causing disruption amongst the opposition zone. While he does not always do it, he can tuck the ball under the arm and take the game on.

#9 Zac FOOT

Burst onto the scene early in the season to make Vic Country after never having made a previous Stingrays’ squad. He played throughout the National Under 18 Championships, and while he did not star, he still had some impressive moments. Adds a different element to the team because he can win it inside or out, play back, forward or through the midfield and has a high impact per possession when he is on.

#10 Lachlan YOUNG

A defender who loves to rebound and use the ball well, he does not find a lot of it – averaging just 12.5 disposals per game. But almost 25 per cent of his possessions are rebounds, with Young ensuring the ball can clear the defensive zone.

#11 Ned CAHILL

Named as the 23rd player, Cahill showed in last week’s preliminary final just how damaging he could be booting two goals and passed off another couple. Still a bottom-age player, Cahill has emerged as a genuine goal sneak at 177cm. Has to be respected because he just gets to the right positions.

#12 Matthew GAHAN

Has enjoyed a really solid season off half-back earning himself a State Combine invitation. Gahan is a strong ball user and a player who his teammates like getting the ball into the hands of. With Oakleigh’s strong forward line, Gahan will need to be used both offensively and defensively in order to still create drive while restricting one of the many dangerous Chargers’ defenders.

#13 Riley BOWMAN

Is suited to the number one ruck role, but can play forward which is where he is expected to play. Often the Stingrays rotate Bowman, Stephen Cumming and Bailey Williams through the ruck such is their luxury. Bowman’s pure ruckwork is arguably the best of the lot, because he gets his hands to most throw-ins or ball-ups and can palm down to his midfielders. Big men seem to be out of fashion lately, so a big game would be huge to determine where he slots in.

#15 Toby BEDFORD

One of the most in-form Stingrays of late, Bedford has a great mix of offensive and defensive skills, providing line-breaking ability as well as tackling pressure in the forward half. He can kick multiple goals in a game, and pinch-hit in the midfield to break up the game. He offers a different element to the Dandenong midfield, and the Melbourne Next Generation Academy player is one who Demons fans will enjoy watching over the years, with the assumption they match the bid that comes in.

#16 Jake FRAWLEY

A strong midfielder who can play out of full-forward such is his strength one-on-one or in the air. Booted six goals against against Bendigo Pioneers at Shepley Oval playing almost exclusively as a forward. He adds some depth to the midfield and his versatility is important when the big day rolls around.

#17 Finlay BAYNE

Another dangerous small forward who can play through the midfield. Due to the depth in the Stingrays onball brigade, Bayne has found a nice spot in the forward 50 and is good for a couple of goals a game. He is a good mover with good goal sense.

#18 Mitch RIORDAN

Highly rated at the start of the season, Riordan had injury concerns and missed the bulk of the National Under 18 Championships, and has only recently returned in the past month. He can use the ball well, and while he does not win much of it, he can often be found coming out of a stoppage and kicking forward. Athletically he is very good, testing well in the 20m sprint, agility test and yo-yo test, so it is just getting game time into him.

#23 Campbell HUSTWAITE

The Stingrays captain is another player who has been in fine form the past couple of months and seems made for the big stage. He has lead from the front in the TAC Cup finals series and does everything expected of him. Against a strong Oakleigh midfield, his desire and competitiveness will be called upon to match it with the likes of Jack Ross and James Rowbottom. Hustwaite could be a best on ground chance given you know exactly what you will get from him each week.

#27 Lachlan MCDONNELL

Played at half-forward for the start of the season and has progressed onto the wing. Of all the Dandenong midfielders, McDonnell is one of the Stingrays’ most damaging kicks in transition. He is predominantly outside compared to the others, but he finds space and pumps it long inside 50.

#28 Bailey SCHMIDT

The big man has been unlucky not to play more games because he is a damaging presence up forward with great athleticism. He has just landed at a club in a year with ridiculous amounts of talent in the ruck/forward position. Still earned a State Combine invite, and while he has been named on the extended bench, is still one who has been able to show his wares throughout the 2018 season.

#29 Bailey WILLIAMS

The big key forward/ruck looms as the player Oakleigh must stop if the Chargers are to win their fifth TAC Cup premiership. Williams is an athletic monster forward who has a massive vertical leap and can cause plenty of headaches for any opposition defender. His goal kicking has been an issue for two thirds of the season, so he will need to be on target in the game. Expect him to have a bearing on the game, and if he can get an early major and build confidence – watch out.

#32 Daniel FRAMPTON

Has held down centre half-back at times despite standing at just 188cm. Can intercept the ball and averages 3.5 marks per game. The smaller Oakleigh forward line will suit Frampton as it means he does not have to battle against a 200cm monster.

#36 Stephen CUMMING

Starting in the ruck and even though he came off a little sore early last week, Cumming still played out the game and looks set to start in the centre square tomorrow. The big man will rotate with Riley Bowman and Bailey Williams in the ruck and no doubt try and wear down the undersized Bailey Wraith.

#41 Lachlan STENNING

The defender is likely to take a defensive approach on a forward whether it be Dylan Williams, Jake Gasper or Atu Bosenavulagi and try and limit their influence on the game. He is a low-possession player but one who can play above his height of 178cm.

#45 Luca GOONAN

Still a bottom-ager, Goonan was added to the side for the Grand Final on an extended bench. It is hard to push out the strong top-age presence, but he has had some impressive signs this season. He is readymade at 83kg already, and one to keep an eye on for next year.

#49 Matthew COTTRELL

A genuine honest midfielder who you know what you are going to get. Suited to the inside, but has played outside, he just attacks the ball and tries to clear it forward. Has had some impressive games this season and will likely need to beat his opponent this weekend against a strong Chargers’ midfield.

#52 Corey ELLISON

At 191cm and 88kg, Ellison is that medium size who can play tall or small up forward, and actually averages 2.7 goals per game from seven matches. Has been in and out of the team at times because of the strength up forward, if given the chance he knows how to hit the scoreboard.

#56 Matthew CUMMING

Cumming has played predominantly key position defence this season and just tried to beat his opponent one-on-one. Like his brother, he moves well for a 198cm player, but not sure what match-up he has in this match. With Oakleigh adopting a smaller forward line, he will likely play on a player close to 10cm smaller than him, so he must prepare for that.

#57 Reid NANSCAWEN

Named as the sole emergency for the side, he looks to be the one to come in if injury strikes. He has played a bit of everywhere, and held up the midfield during the National Under 18 Championships when Dandenong had absences galore. Is the type that can come in and play his role and will no doubt be waiting in the wings if the opportunity arises.

#58 Will HAMILL

An underrated player in the Stingrays defensive half. Hamill can play through the midfield, but his class and composure off half-back has been a standout of his game. He glides around the field, and while he is not a huge accumulator, he can hurt opposition with nice delivery forward. Will be held accountable with one of many dangerous Chargers small forwards who just find the goals on a regular basis.

#59 Sam STURT

The late developer has burst onto the scene of late after some impressive performances for Peninsula Grammar. He was boosted from a State Combine invitation to a National Combine invitation, and has already showed why he is in hot demand since playing for the Stingrays. He has electric skills, great smarts and knows where the goals are – so damaging.

 

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS:

#1 Riley COLLIER-DAWKINS

A potential first round prospect, Collier-Dawkins has that blistering first few steps that can burn off an opponent out of a stoppage. He has been trialled up forward, but he is his most dominant on the inside, as he showed last week in the preliminary final. If he can use his strength, acceleration and penetrating kick to effect, then the Chargers will have plenty of hurt factor roaming through the midfield in transition.

#3 Joe AYTON-DELANEY

The running defender was unlucky not to get a National Draft Combine invitation after some impressive performances early in the season. He is one that will be in high demand with a good Grand Final and just finds the ball. Uses it well coming out of the backline and has shiny red boots that stand out. A player Oakleigh looks to get the ball in the hands of, along with Isaac Quaynor, in the backline.

#4 Will KELLY

He will have his work cut out for him, regardless if he takes Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. He often enjoys running off an opponent and providing rebound, but he will need to be tight with the athletic talls. He can also go forward and provide a target if Oakleigh wants to throw a spanner in the works midway through the game. A Collingwood father-son prospect who will be watched closely by any Collingwood contingent that make the trip to Ikon Park.

#5 Xavier O’NEILL

Did not make the final Vic Metro squad, but showed enough throughout the 2018 TAC Cup season to suggest to recruiters he was in their top 50, earning a National Draft Combine invitation. He just does his job each week and is a really solid contributor. He covers the ground well and wins the ball in all thirds of the ground.

#6 Matthew DAY

The former basketballer was unlucky not be thrown a lifeline late last year, and has continued on as a really solid forward prospect as an overager for the Chargers this season. Keeps kicking goals and is strong overhead. A good size for development and one that the Stingrays cannot afford to let off the chain.

#7 Jay ROBERTSON

Did not make the cut at Eastern Ranges hailing from South Belgrave, came across and has been a valuable contributor up forward for Oakleigh. He is a medium tall who just keeps hitting the scoreboard and can fly under the radar with so much talent up that end.

#8 Noah ANDERSON

Another potential number one pick, Anderson is that prototype size for a midfielder, who due to the amazing depth of the Oakleigh midfield, has had the ability to almost play exclusively up forward. He pumps the ball long, can win it inside or out, and knows how to hit the scoreboard – as he did for Vic Metro against Western Australia.

#9 James ROWBOTTOM

The most pure of the inside midfielders, he gives his team a four quarter effort and wins a truckload of the ball on the inside. He is a clearance machine and just finds the ball anywhere on the ground. Dandenong are known for their hardness at the contest, and Rowbottom will be a key contributor for Oakleigh in trying to nullify some of the opposition midfielders.

#10 Charlie WHITEHEAD

A fierce small forward who loves to pressure opponents and just gets to the right positions. He has the capability of kicking multiple goals if given space and has a great goal sense. A pure small forward in every sense, he can push up the ground if the Chargers isolate another forward.

#11 Matthew ROWELL

Another Vic Metro representative in his bottom-age year, Rowell leads by example on the field. He has an uncompromising attack on the ball and is crucial around stoppages, but has had the luxury of playing on the outside, predominantly off a wing. He can play forward and kick goals, as he has the past two finals – kicking the first goal in both games.

#12 Noah ANSWERTH

The over-age captain does not do a lot wrong and can play anywhere on the field. His brother, Kade was best on ground in the TAC Cup Grand Final during Oakleigh Chargers’ last premiership over Eastern Ranges, and Answerth will be keen to put in an equally impressive performance. He made the Vic Metro squad and performed strongly and will leave no stone unturned in getting the most out of himself.

#13 Atu BOSENAVULAGI

Has bolted up into draft consideration after a quieter start to the season. His second half of the TAC Cup competition has been superb, and he is starting to regularly hit the scoreboard, while still applying the defensive pressure he was known for. Has made opposition clubs consider a National Draft bid, with Collingwood able to match if they like him.

#14 Kyle DUNKLEY

Has been on the fringe of getting into the team after spending time with Sydney Swans’ Reserves. With Oakleigh winning its past three games by an average of 101 points, it is a hard team to break into, but the forward will be ready if he gets his chance.

#16 Lucas WESTWOOD

A really reliable defender. With most of the other Oakleigh defenders being offensive players, Westwood adds that defensive hardness and ability to shut down a key opposition forward. He could well be given any number of smalls from the Stingrays who can kick multiple majors.

#17 Trent BIANCO

A skilful player who provides plenty of run and carry off half-back and through the midfield. Expect him to play more on-ball next season, but he has high-end talent and adds to what is a very strong bottom-age core at the Chargers.

#22 Dylan WILLIAMS

The bottom-age small forward is in ripping form, and just keeps kicking goals week-in, week-out. He shared them last week after six snags against Western Jets in the elimination final. He does very little wrong, and after spending time in defence early in the season, Williams’ strength overhead and great goal sense has him as a key player inside 50 for the Chargers. One Dandenong defender will have their work cut out for them.

#23 Isaac QUAYNOR

The running defender takes the game on and has some eye-catching moments. He might have to use his one-on-one ability more than he has had to in the past weeks, because Dandenong’s forward line will make sure he is made accountable. If he can get out and break the lines, using his speed and skill to create run-and-carry, then it will go a long way to Oakleigh winning the match. A Collingwood Next Generation Academy member to watch.

#26 Jake GASPER

The TAC Cup Leading Goalkicker and taking into account post-season goals he is the standalone leader, Gasper has been the most consistent forward in the competition. He has booted goals in every game he has played and his set shot routine is perfect. The Dandenong defence will focus on not letting him get too much air time because he is so smart in that forward 50.

#30 Bailey WRAITH

You have to applaud Wraith, who started as a key defender, but has stood up as an undersized ruck. He is measured at 191cm (though many believe he might be a few centimetres taller), and he has matched up against much taller opponents in the ruck. He will have to play his best game of the season against the Dandenong brigade however, with practically three 200cm rucks with big vertical leaps awaiting him.

#31 Will GOLDS

The most pure outside midfielder for the Chargers, Golds will be the one spreading to the outside and carrying the ball forward when given time and space. He could well match up against Lachlan McDonnell and the pair goes their separate ways, or they run alongside each other. Likes to set up plays forward of centre and has had a really solid finals series.

#32 Jack ROSS

The underrated midfielder from the Chargers has been building consistency very nicely over the past month since returning from school football. He loves the appetite of the contest, but can also spread to the outside and provide long kicks forward. He knows how to find a goal from a stoppage inside 50, and is one of many Oakleigh midfielders who looms as a key player on the weekend and one the Stingrays will put work into.

#33 Matt WARREN

Started the year as a key defender and can play up either end. Had the tough job of manning Max King in the top five pick’s only TAC Cup game and King booted eight goals in that game. At 189cm he has had to play on much taller opponents at times, but continues to battle above his height and weight range. A versatile option if a tall drops out of the Grand Final after being added to the interchange bench.

#36 Charlie BEASLEY

Rated really highly internally, Beasley will have to play taller than his 192cm against Bailey Williams or Riley Bowman. The coach, Leigh Clarke backs him in and he rarely lets him down. Regardless of opponent, Beasley is the type of defender who will stick to the task for four quarters.

#38 Zac HART

Oakleigh’s forward line is harder to break into than Fort Knox, so for the potential Adelaide father-son it has not been easy to find a spot. Hart has been added to the side on the extended interchange bench, and he is a smart forward with good goal sense, but with Oakleigh’s firepower on show the last month, it will probably take an injury for Hart to squeeze in.

#44 Will PHILLIPS

The Under 16s Vic Metro representative has managed to retain his place in the Oakleigh line-up despite it being as strong as it is, playing as the 23rd player. Great skills, good spread and does not seem phased against the bigger bodies, Phillips looks a player for the 2020 National Draft.

#64 James JORDON

Played a couple of games earlier in the season and returned after school football, Jordon has provided good run and carry on the outside. Like Golds, Jordon predominantly is used as a ball carrier with slick skills to take the game on and delivery well inside 50.

 

FATHER/SON AND ACADEMY PROSPECTS

Toby Bedford (Dandenong Stingrays) – Melbourne Next Generation Academy

Atu Bosenavulagi, Isaac Quaynor, Bailey Wraith (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood Next Generation Academy

Will Kelly (Oakleigh Chargers) – Collingwood father/son

Kyle Dunkley* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Sydney father/son

Zac Hart* (Oakleigh Chargers) – Adelaide father/son

*Extended interchange

 

STATISTICS

Dandenong defence vs. Oakleigh attack

The key in this third of the ground, is whether or not Dandenong’s slick foot skills out of defence and springboard rebound can be used against the massive forward pressure of the Chargers. Atu Bosenavulagi (4.5 tackles), Jake Gasper (4.1) and Charlie Whitehead (3.2) provide the tackling heat, while Dylan Williams (62.8 per cent kicking efficiency), Jay Robertson (60.4 per cent) and Noah Anderson (56.6 per cent) provide the skills going inside 50. Gasper has been the dominant goal kicker this season, sharing the overall competition tally and post-finals has the most goals of any player in the league.

For Dandenong, they have some very nice ball users in the back half, lead by Will Hamill and Lachlan Stenning, while five of their six defenders average more than two marks a game. Lachlan Young (3.1 rebounds), Matthew Gahan (2.9) and Daniel Frampton (2.3) are that wall at half-back, while Matthew Cumming is the athletic key position defender who can share ruck duties. The big question mark will be match-ups as Oakleigh have a small forward line, while Cumming will no doubt be matched up on a smaller player.

Dandenong midfield vs. Oakleigh midfield

Two highly talented midfields will go head-to-head with so many crucial head-to-heads. Dandenong generally loves a contested brand of football, whereas Oakleigh love using their outside foot skills to advantage. In saying that, both sides can still play the other’s game. Stingrays captain, Campbell Hustwaite, Sam Fletcher and Mitch Riordan will provide the inside support, whereas Matthew Cottrell can play inside or out. Lachlan McDonnell is the most outside because he has the best skills of the five onballers, and has provided a crucial link between midfield and half-forward.

Will Golds provides just that for Oakleigh, whereas both Matthew Rowell and Jack Ross are equally as impressive inside as they are outside, and can get forward and kick goals as well. Noah Answerth can also play off half-back or half-forward and hit the scoreboard for the Chargers, while Bailey Wraith has been getting the job done in the ruck despite being undersized. If he can get forward and kick a goal, it adds an extra challenge for the Stingrays. He will have his work cut out for him against the best ruck division in the league.

Dandenong attack vs. Oakleigh defence

Dandenong’s attack is likely to cause a lot more headaches for Oakleigh’s defence than other sides have in past weeks. With Bailey Williams and Riley Bowman both athletic talls, it means Charlie Beasley and Will Kelly will have to be prepared to jump as both Dandenong keys are highly athletic – particularly Williams who is second to none with vertical leap. Jai Taylor and Toby Bedford are two of the quickest players going around, while Sam Sturt and Zac Foot consistently hit the scoreboard.

The great strength with Oakleigh’s defence is its ball use out of the back 50, with Isaac Quaynor, Joe Ayton-Delaney and Trent Bianco all wonderful kicks of the football. Often teams can have at least one liability back in their defence, but there is no player in the back 50 who the Chargers would not feel comfortable with kicking the ball out of the back 50. The challenge for the Chargers defence is they have to expect Dandenong to bring the heat. Forward pressure from the Stingrays is a must, and Oakleigh must be up for that challenge.

Extended interchange of both sides:

The depth on both these benches, particularly Oakleigh’s, is madness. Riley Collier Dawkins could be a first round pick but he sits on the pine, while James Jordon and Xavier O’Neill are crucial cogs in Oakleigh’s midfield. Matthew Day has been a really valuable forward for the Chargers this season, while Vic Metro Under 16s talent, Will Phillips has been very slick with his ball use on the outside and shapes as an impressive talent for the 2020 AFL National Draft. With father-son prospects and sneaky small forwards Kyle Dunkley and Zac Hart waiting in the wings, and the versatile Matt Warren also brought in to the extended team, Oakleigh has plenty of options to head into game day.

For Dandenong, Finlay Bayne and Ned Cahill both provide depth in the forward line and showed they can kick multiple goals, as they did against Sandringham Dragons last week. Corey Ellison has been unlucky this season given the strength of talls for the Stingrays, while Hayden Young could be pick one next season, but came off sore last week and whether he makes the final team is yet to be seen. Bailey Schmidt is another athletic tall who could come in to really stretch the Oakleigh defence, while Jake Frawley kicked a bag of six earlier in the season. Jamie Plumridge has been good on  the outside for Dandenong this season, while Luca Goonan is a prospect to watch for next year. Reid Nanscawen has been named as the only emergency in the team.

WHY WILL THEY WIN?

Dandenong Stingrays: They have been the best team all year and attack the footy with numbers. A fierce intent on the ball carrier, any opposition know that the heat will come and it will depend on how they deal with it. The Stingrays are not a high possession team, and opt for sharing the ball around, but still using the ball long and effective. They have the tall timber up forward to put in the air and allow them to mark it, because no-one is spoiling Bailey Williams if he gets a run at it.

Oakleigh Chargers: They are the most skilful team in the competition who are happy to use short possessions rather than take risks with long kicks, but know when to flick the switch. Often they will use a series of short kicks until a player breaks free and then they use run-and-carry to run down the wings and pick a target out inside 50. Without the height in there, the Oakleigh midfielder put low balls out in front of their teammates to run onto with their speed off the mark, key.

 

WHAT DO THEY NEED TO STOP?

Dandenong Stingrays: They absolutely must bring the heat on the weekend. Oakleigh dominate games when they are allowed to over-possess the ball and just wait until options free up. Dandenong need to ensure that firstly, Oakleigh cannot have free numbers wandering into open space, and secondly, that there is a defensive midfielder who is happy to drop back and fill the hole in front of the Oakleigh forwards. Unlike Dandenong where a 200cm athlete will crash into your back, Oakleigh’s passes inside 50 will be low darts, so the Stingrays need to restrict the free space inside 50 and force them wide.

Oakleigh Chargers: They have to be wary of positioning themselves well inside the defensive 50. They will be playing against much taller opponents who can fly high, and some of their usually offensively-minded defenders might have to do more one-on-one defending. Isaac Quaynor is arguably the best small defender in the league one-on-one and he might be the man to go to Sam Sturt, as Quaynor can play taller and is equally as smart. Bailey Wraith will also have his work cut out for him in the ruck, and while he has been fantastic, when you’re going up against high flying rucks that are towering over you, the goal is to nullify as much as possible.

 

GRAND FINAL HISTORY

The two teams have never met in a TAC Cup Grand Final before, but have been involved in 10 between them. Dandenong has heartbreakingly lost all five of their encounters, two of which exceeded 80 points. For Oakleigh, they have won four out of a possible five attempts, including a goal point to Jack Macrae in 2012 getting them over the line against Gippsland Power.

Dandenong Stingrays:

1997: lost to North Ballarat Rebels by 35 points
2005: lost to Gippsland Power by 15 points
2008: lost to Murray Bushrangers by 81 points
2009: lost to Calder Cannons by 14 points
2013: lost to Eastern Ranges by 112 points

Oakleigh Chargers:

2006: defeated Calder Cannons by 27 points
2011: lost to Sandringham Dragons by eight points
2012: defeated Gippsland Power by one point
2014: defeated Calder Cannons by 47 points
2015: defeated Eastern Ranges by 12 points

 

AFL Draft Central tips

 

Peter Williams

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

Michael Alvaro

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Craig Byrnes

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jack Ross

Scott Dougan

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Jake Gasper

Ed Pascoe

Oakleigh Chargers
BOG: Dylan Williams

Cameron Ross

Dandenong Stingrays
BOG: Toby Bedford

 

Total Tips:

Dandenong Stingrays 2
Oakleigh Chargers 4

Best on Ground:

Toby Bedford 2
Dylan Williams 2
Jack Ross 1
Jake Gasper 1

Weekend previews: VFLW – Grand Final

THE stage is set for traditional rivals, Hawthorn and Geelong to make history in the inaugural Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final. The Hawks and Cats have been even all season on the ladder and will get to show what they’re made of in the first game played at Marvel Stadium.

 

HAWTHORN  v. GEELONG CATS

Sunday, September 23, 12.30pm
Etihad Stadium, Docklands

Form line:

Hawthorn:

Ladder position: 2nd
Wins: 12
Losses: 2
Percentage: 180%

Geelong:

Ladder position: 4th
Wins: 10
Losses: 3
Draws: 1
Percentage: 163%

 

Last time they met:

Hawthorn 6.5 (41) defeated Geelong 3.7 (25)

In the biggest match of the round, it was Hawthorn who got the early breakaway after an even first quarter. The Hawks kicked three goals to Geelong’s one in the second quarter, giving them a 14-point lead at the main break. They were able to extend their lead in the third with one goal, while keeping Geelong goalless. The Cats had a chance to fight back in the last quarter, but kicked 1.4, which gave Hawthorn the win.

AFLW duo, Sarah Perkins and Rebecca Beeson each kicked two majors on the day while Claire Dyett and Rosie Dillon booted through one each. Beeson had a dominant game with 22 disposals, five marks and six tackles and was complemented by fellow goal kicker, Rosie Dillon, who racked up 17 disposals and eight tackles. Skipper, Emma Mackie was huge on the day with 20 disposals and five tackles while Jayde Van Dyk was as resilient as ever down back with 18 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

Despite her side’s loss, Richelle Cranston was the leading disposal-getter on the ground with 25 touches as well as three marks and five tackles. Madeline Keryk wasn’t far off though with one goal, 24 disposals and nine tackles in another great game in the blue and white hoops. Kate Darby and Mia-Rae Clifford also got on the scoreboard with one major each. Darby gathered 12 disposals, three marks and eight tackles while Clifford was kept quiet with six disposals.

GOALS

Hawthorn: R. Beeson 2, S. Perkins 2, C. Dyett, R. Dillon
Geelong: M. Clifford, M. Keryk, K. Darby

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Van Dyk, R. Dillon, K. Ebb, S. Perkins, E. Mackie, M. Cann
Geelong: R. Cranston, A. Teague, E. Coventry, R. Goring, M. Keryk, K. Darby

 

Players to watch:

Hawthorn:

#1 Emma Mackie

Mackie has been outstanding this season and has managed to find her form from the start of the year in the last couple of weeks. Last time she faced the Cats, she racked up 20 disposals and five tackles, then followed this up with three goals, 18 disposals and four tackles in the qualifying final against the Pies.

#6 Julia Crockett-Grills

Crocket-Grills is an interesting situation, playing against the team that she has recently been recruited to in the AFL Women’s. An agile midfielder, Crockett-Grills can burst the game open with her speed and footy smarts. Against the Pies two weeks ago, she gathered 10 disposals and laid five tackles.

#8 Rebecca Beeson

Rebecca Beeson has been one of Hawthorn’s most consistent players throughout the season, playing roles in both the forward line and in the midfield. Lately, she has been in the midfield and has made a huge impact. She was dominant against Geelong in Round 16 where she gathered 22 disposals, five marks, six tackles and kicked two goals.   

#24 Rosie Dillon

Dillon has strung together a couple of good games in the lead-up to this match. She arguably played her best game of the season against Collingwood in week one of the finals, as she gathered 20 disposals, two marks and four tackles to go along with her major. Against Geelong in the home and away season, she was again one of the star players for the Hawks with one goal, 17 disposals, three marks and eight tackles.

#36 Jayde Van Dyk

Jayde Van Dyk well and truly deserved the VFLW Rising Star award after a breakout season in the brown and gold. Van Dyk was a lock in the backline each week and shut down her opponents extremely well. Her agile frame also allowed her to get involved in the contest with great run and carry. She got heavily involved against the Cats in Round 16 where she racked up 18 disposals, took four marks and laid five tackles.

#45 Mikala Cann

The Eastern Ranges midfielder has only played a handful of games for the Hawks, but they have all been of a high quality. Cann is an inside bull who tackles hard and runs hard in and out of stoppages. She’s one who can turn a game on its head with her explosive impact. Cann was the leading disposal-getter on the ground against Collingwood with 21 disposals, three marks and eight tackles.

 

Geelong:

#6 Maddie Boyd

Maddie Boyd’s aerial ability is really going to trouble the Hawks. Her contested and uncontested marking has been superb this season and has played a big part in getting the Cats to Marvel Stadium on Sunday. Against the Pies, she kicked two goals and took seven marks. Last time she faced the Hawks, she gathered 11 disposals and took five marks.

#7 Mia-Rae Clifford

Mia-Rae Clifford’s move into the forward line has been a revelation, as she has kicked 15 goals from 16 games. Clifford also made the VFLW Team of the Year thanks to her consistency with the ball in hand. She didn’t kick a goal against the Pies last week, so she would come into this game hungry for a couple of majors. Clifford still managed to rack up 11 disposals and lay six tackles in the fierce contest.

#16 Olivia Purcell

Olivia Purcell comes into this game with a chance to win her second premiership this season. She has rightfully earned her spot in the team with some great inside work and ferocity around the contest. This was highlighted last week when she laid 14 tackles against the Pies, not giving their midfielders an inch of space. Against the Northern Territory (NT), she got plenty of the ball, racking up 19 disposals and kicking a goal.

#20 Nina Morrison

Purcell’s premiership teammate, Nina Morrison is in the same situation as her, vying for her second premiership this season. There’s not much Morrison hasn’t won this season, winning both the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest alongside Madison Prespakis. Morrison missed last week’s game against the Pies after she was named best-on-ground in the Cats’ win over NT. In that game, she gathered 18 disposals and laid seven tackles. She is a key inclusion in this match.

#30 Richelle Cranston

Richelle Cranston will be a worrying prospect for Hawthorn with her strength around the contest. Cranston has the tenacity to bullock through packs and win the hard ball to get it out of congestion, which has played a big part in Geelong’s success this year. Her finals campaign has been outstanding with two goals, 19 disposals, five marks and six tackles against the NT. Against Collingwood, she racked up 15 disposals and laid seven tackles.

#45 Madeline Keryk

Madeline Keryk gets better as each week goes on, dominating the midfield with her tenacity and footy smarts. Keryk hits the packs hard and her kicking and handballing is precise. She is a ball magnet and has demonstrated this in her last two games. Against the Thunder, Keryk gathered 16 disposals and laid nine tackles. She bettered this when she faced the Pies, with 24 disposals and four tackles.

 

Preview:

These two teams have been evenly poised throughout the season, with both teams always in contention for the premiership flag. Both have knocked off minor premiers, Collingwood, and Geelong has had the added bonus of knocking out the NT. Hawthorn comes into this game off a break, giving a chance for players such as Olivia Flanagan to return from injury and slot back into the side. Geelong has kept it simple in the lead-up to the Grand Final, bringing in star draft prospect, Nina Morrison to impose her outside run on the Hawks’ midfield.

The midfield will be littered with Under 18 Victorian representatives, with Morrison, Olivia Purcell, Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods to all play a role on the day. Experienced players, Rebecca Beeson and Emma Mackie could go up against Richelle Cranston and Rosie Dillon in what should be an enthralling battle. In the 50s, Geelong captain, Rebecca Goring could see eye-to-eye with Adelaide Crows forward, Sarah Perkins while Jayde Van Dyk could match up on Mia-Rae Clifford.

It’s also a match-up of two of the best coaches, with Patrick Hill and Paul Hood matching up tactics against tactics. Geelong coach, Hood believes his side can get revenge on the Hawks after an improvement of form since their last meeting.

“We’re quietly confident we can improve our performance after that day,” he said. “Obviously we learn a bit from playing against the Hawks, they put in a really powerful performance. “It’s no great surprise to us that we’re here but obviously we needed a bit of luck along the way.  “We’re really grateful to get the opportunity to play this weekend.”

Patrick Hill is also grateful to grace Marvel Stadium with his Hawthorn players, admitting that he didn’t see a Grand Final berth coming so fast.

“If you told me I’d be here two years ago in a Grand Final, I probably would’ve laughed at you,” Hill said. “We’re incredibly well supported by our club. “I think it shows how many great athletes there are in women’s sport. “It’s not like men’s sport where they’ve already been through trials and a lot of development programs thrown at them since they were seven years old, they’ve had to sort of fight to be involved. “Once we opened up the doors to all our women in, you see how many amazing athletes there are out there, they’re extremely coachable and a delight to work with.”

Hawthorn has been one of the best offensive sides this year while Geelong has been one of the best defensive outfits, so if the game is played on the Hawks’ terms, it could be a fast-paced game. But if the game is played on the Cats’ terms, it could be a defensive, hard-fought slug which Geelong has been accustomed to this year. Either way, this will be a tight contest with both teams desperate to lift up the first ever VFLW premiership cup on Sunday.