Tag: Murray Bushrangers

Player Focus: Ely Smith

MURRAY Bushrangers have secured their spot in the finals race after outclassing the Bendigo Pioneers at Ikon Park over the weekend, defeating them by 27 points.

Ely Smith continues to make a case for a possible late second round pick with another strong showing in the Wild Card round against the Bendigo Pioneers. While originally missing selection in Vic Country’s original side, Smith later received a call up after Country lost their inside midfielders in Jye Caldwell and Mitch Riordan, and Smith’s continued showing of good form.

In the TAC Cup, Smith leads in clearances, sits third in disposals, third in contested possessions, third in handballs, tenth in inside 50s and twelfth in tackles. This strong bodied midfielder knows how to take a tackle and use his size and strength to gain prominent position. While his inside game is easily his most impressive quality, he by no means lacks an ability on the outside.

With stakes increasing heading deeper into finals, we could see a big lift from the Bushrangers’ contested possession winner and a big add to his stocks heading into the 2018 National Draft.

Quarter by quarter:

Ely Smith’s usual impact was nowhere to be seen in the first, tallying only the two possessions for the quarter, and being quickly dealt with on his first touch.

After some time to reflect at the break, and probably some choice words from his coach, Smith entered the second term with a huge lift in form. Off the tap down he read the drop best and manoeuvred well in tight space to burst into the Bushrangers’ attacking half. He shot off a lot of clean passes from the middle, aiding the Bushrangers’ aggressive run forward and picked his man well despite having Pioneers hanging off his back. He continued to boast a perfect read on the ball, spoiling a mark along the wing and collecting it off a bounce. He copped a tackle soon after but got a short pass away, quickly regained possession and chipped it up to the square and affected a Bushranger goal.

He kept lifting in the third, earning a clearance from the first stoppage and locking down a getaway in the second. In the next centre bounce, Smith earned himself a clearance and an inside 50, bursting away with the pill and setting up a shot on goal. He trapped the ball carrier out of the next centre bounce, causing a stoppage, and laid a second tackle to dispossess and hand Dylan Clarke a clearance. Some strong kicking and a burst away from congestion frequently broke Pioneer lines. Breaking one tackle and withstanding a second, Smith kicked clean down the passage which resulted in another Bushrangers goal. He repeated the same action soon after, booting the ball over the centre square out of their defensive half, shattering Pioneer lines. If he was not first to the footy, he was usually a close second, wrapping up his man before they could take a step.

The hitouts stopped going his way at the beginning of the final term, with one thumped long and another hit high. Though unlike the first, Smith turned it around and gained his first disposal with a chip kick inside 50 from a lead through the passage. He went onto to clean up his team’s messy clearance work from the stoppage, extracting it from the congestion and again creating movement. He broke lines with excellent work out of the back, including a strong kick in the defensive 50 which created some easy movement. Not long after, he received the ball at the end of the chain that he started inside 50 but missed to the left with his set shot. He got a second chance at it off the kick in, causing a turnover, but was unsuccessful in converting. Smith is an easy pick for best on ground, for his massive second and third quarter impact, dominating both the inside and outside game for the day.

 

Final Stats:

29 disposals (16 contested)

12 kicks

17 handballs

12 handball receives

6 tackles

6 clearances

6 inside 50s

2 rebounds

 

It cannot be said definitively but it is likely Smith will be taken somewhere in the middle of the Draft. Producing a strong showing in the finals has the potential to catch recruiters’ eyes, so if he is able to keep his form up and goes deeper into finals, that’s more time to affect a positive opinion.

Weekly wrap: NSW/ACT state leagues

A SECOND player from the NSW/ACT contingent that travelled to the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships has emerged as a premiership player this year, while a number of others had the week off due to their sides making their respective grand finals.

Murray Bushrangers star, and NSW/ACT defender, Eloise Ashley-Cooper became the second player from her state side to win a premiership in the 2018 season. Ashley-Cooper joined Eastern Allies teammate, Alyce Parker in celebrating a flag, after her Finley side won the Shepparton and District Junior Football League Youth Girls’ Grand Final. In a low-scoring affair which saw just six goals kicked between the sides – four of which came in the first term – the Cats got up with a 4.9 (33) to 2.0 (12) victory over Shepparton United. Ashley-Cooper’s terrific season ended on a high note, named best on ground and booted a goal in Finley’s victory. Unfortunately it meant Bushrangers teammate Kate Adams was on the wrong side of the result, named in the best for the Demons.

There was a bye in the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, after last week, Angela Priftis enjoyed a 23-point win over fellow NSW/ACT Under-18 representative, Jemima Wrigley. Priftis’ Auburn-Penrith Giants proved too good for Wrigley’s Southern Power, booting seven goals to three after quarter time to record a 8.4 (52) to 4.5 (29) victory. The match was a pre-cursor for the finals series which starts this week as the third placed Giants host the fourth placed Power in a do-or-die semi-final at Blacktown this weekend. Meanwhile Division One played its first week of finals on the weekend, as Brenna Tarrant kept her premiership dream alive in East Coast Eagles’ 18-point win over Pennant Hills Demons. She was named second best for the Eagles in the win, as the home side restricted their opponents to just one behind after quarter time, booting the final four goals of the match. They face Woollongong Saints for a spot in the Division One decider.

In the Sydney Harbour Youth Girls Division One, Willoughby Mosman earned a week off after their semi-final win the week before, so Zoe Hurrell and Alice Mitchell will look forward to the grand final this weekend. They will be hoping for a similar result to the semi-final, with the Southern Power winning their preliminary final to earn a second crack at the top side. The Power’s win did come at the expense of Georgia Garnett and Emily Hurley‘s Kellyville Rouse Hill’s side, as the Magpies went down to 17 points, bundled out of the finals race. In the AFL North Coast Women’s league, Ahlani Eddy rested up after her side Sawtell Toormina Saints won through to the grand final with a semi-final victory the week prior. They easily accounted for the Port Macquarie Magpies – the side that will run out against Eddy and her side in the decider this weekend.

Over in the AFL Broken Hill Women’s competition, both Melisa Keenan and Eliza Cumming earned a week off after their South side won the minor premiership. In the pre-final match, Central knocked off North by 28 points in what was an upset given North had finished three wins ahead of Central and earned the home ground final. The pair will hope to wear premiership medallions by the end of the weekend if South can topple Central in the decider.

Weekly wrap: NSW/ACT state leagues

WITH many seasons coming to a close and finals in full swing, plenty of Under 18 NSW/ACT stars stood up to the occasion on the weekend across the various state leagues.

In the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, Jemima Wrigley featured in the Southern Power’s 23-point loss against the Auburn-Penrith Giants. Her side will face Angela Priftis’ Giants again in the semi-finals next week. In Division One, Brenna Tarrant was named best-on-ground for the East Coast Eagles for the second time this season, despite her team’s loss against the Wollongong Saints.

NSW/ACT representatives, Zoe Hurrell and Alice Mitchell featured in Willoughby Mosman’s 19-point win over the Southern Power in the Youth Girls Division One league. Meanwhile at North Narrabeen Reserve, fellow state representative, Emily Hurley featured in Kellyville Rouse Hill’s 10-point win over the Pittwater Tigers. In the last time the Magpies played against the Tigers, Hurley was named second best.

In the first semi-final of the AFL North Coast Women’s league, Ahlani Eddy’s Sawtell Toormina Saints claimed a 41-point win over the Port Macquarie Magpies. The Saints now go straight through to the grand final, with Port Macquarie and Coffs Breakers to play off for a spot on the big stage this week.

Over in the AFL Broken Hill league, Melisa Keenan kicked three of her side’s five goals in South Football Club’s 35-point win over West Football Club. Consequently, she was named third best with fellow state representative, Eliza Cumming going one better. Cumming was named second best on the day, which is the eighth time she has appeared in the best from 10 games.

Murray Bushrangers star, Eloise Ashley-Cooper continued her wonderful season for Finley, kicking three of her side’s five goals against Shepparton Notre. Ashley-Cooper was named also best afield for her side, which is the fourth time she has been named best-on-ground from nine games. The Cats’ 33-point win earns them a spot in the Grand Final this week against Shepparton United.

Several hours of travel “worth it” for sport fanatic, Julia Harvey

MURRAY Bushrangers midfielder Julia Harvey travels up to three hours to get to a football training session or game.

Tie this in with two nights of netball training, a night of football training, a netball and football game on the weekend, as well as basketball commitments in summer, and you have one dedicated athlete. Behind every dedicated athlete is a dedicated family, and Harvey’s family pushes through the struggles of travelling to help her enjoy playing the sports she loves.

“We’re used to it now,” Harvey said. “We’ve had three years of travelling around with all different sports but some weeks it can be pretty hard. You get to the end of the week at school and you’re absolutely exhausted but it’s all worth it.”

Harvey began playing with the Murray Bushrangers in the second year of the program, unaware of the opportunity that girls had to play footy at a representative level. She admits that being selected was something she never saw coming.

“I never thought it was even possible,” Harvey said. “I used to always see the boys do it and think this is so amazing why haven’t the girls got that? “When I got asked, I was like ‘oh my god there’s actually a girls version’. “I jumped at the opportunity, I thought it was amazing.”

The small 15 year-old arrived at the Bushrangers excited but also slightly intimidated, as she was playing with and against some of the best female footballers in the state. Now in her final year of the program, Harvey reflects on the club’s amazing progression from struggling with numbers to overflowing with them.

“I was probably one of the youngest there so it was pretty hard at the start,” she said. “We barely got a team together and we used to get beaten by a lot so it was pretty tough at the start but it’s just grown so much since then.”

The Bushrangers went undefeated in 2017 and won three games this year but for Harvey, the enjoyment of the program comes from making new friends.

“I made so many friends, this year especially, like Claudia McKimmie and Liv Barber,” the Murray midfielder said. “There’s so many girls here that I didn’t know until I played footy and I’ve created amazing friendships just from a couple of weeks playing footy. I reckon that’s probably the best thing to take away.”

Among three sports, Harvey is also in the midst of Year 12 studies, with an aim to fulfill her childhood ambition of being a physical education teacher. The 18 year-old says her sporting journey has helped her to balance her impressive array of commitments.

“I suppose where I’ve grown up playing so many sports, I’ve probably learnt to manage my time well, especially with school,” Harvey said. “I try to work hard at school and so I can have time outside of school to focus on sport.”

She now has another sport commitment to focus on, as she has been named in the Vic Country squad for the upcoming AFL Women’s Under 18 National Championships.

With a full pathway in place for females to achieve their footballing dreams, Harvey encourages all young girls to join a program like the Murray Bushrangers.

“Make the most of it,” she said. “It’s such an amazing program. Like I said, you make so many friends and even footy wise too, you learn so much. I’d just take everything in because my time’s already come to an end and it’s gone so quick.”

Season reviews: TAC Cup Girls – Murray Bushrangers

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

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

Results:

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

Key players:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Season summary: 

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

Victorian Under 16s Girls prepare for National Championships

VICTORIA’S top Under 16s footballers from the TAC Cup Girls competition will converge on country venues this weekend in a couple of matches to test themselves against the best from other states. Vic Metro takes on South Australia in Horsham on Sunday, while Vic Country heads to the border to face NSW/ACT in Albury. The following week, Vic Metro will face off against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in a curtain raiser to the Under 18 Girls’ sides. For those wondering, the Under 16s are made up of players born in 2002 and are not eligible to be drafted until 2020.

Vic Metro squad:

NoNameHtDOBTAC Region
1Olivia Meagher15110/12/02Eastern Ranges
2Mietta Kendall1543/9/02Eastern Ranges
3Taylah Morton15723/7/02Oakleigh Chargers
4Leah Spargo15728/1/02Western Jets
5Mary Daw15911/3/02Western Jets
6Abigail Bennett16018/10/02Northern Knights
7Jessica Fitzgerald1618/3/02Northern Knights
8Bella Eddey16311/2/02Sandringham Dragons
9Winnie Laing16425/5/02Sandringham Dragons
10Ashleigh Snow15623/10/02Northern Knights
11Eliza McNamara16619/4/02Sandringham Dragons
12Tarni Brown16626/3/02Eastern Ranges
13Alice Burke1683/10/02Sandringham Dragons
15Mimi Hill1674/10/02Oakleigh Chargers
16Alice O’Loughlin1698/7/02Oakleigh Chargers
17Alisa Magri17019/3/02Calder Cannons
18Amber Micallef17021/2/02Oakleigh Chargers
19Sarah Hartwig17312/4/02Sandringham Dragons
20Ellie McKenzie17417/10/02Northern Knights
21Tamsin Crook1763/10/02Calder Cannons
22Isabelle Pritchard1768/3/02Western Jets
23Jess Grace17625/12/02Eastern Ranges
24Alyssa Bannan17713/4/02Northern Knights
25Isabel Young17913/7/02Calder Cannons

Some names to watch:

Isabelle Pritchard
Key Position Defender | 176cm | Western Jets

Strong overhead, great leader and rarely beaten one-on-one. Her game knowledge and awareness is ahead of her years. A standout performer this season for the Jets.

Ellie McKenzie
Tall Utility | 174cm | Northern Knights

Unbelievable impact so far this season, named in the best every game she played. Can play forward, midfield or back, and is strong in the air. Sister of Vic Metro boys’ representative, Tom. Strong in the air, can kick goals at will, shown by her huge day out against Bendigo Pioneers.

Alyssa Bannan
Key Position Forward | 175cm | Northern Knights

Lit up Beaconsfield earlier in the year with three goals in three minutes and provides a good target up forward. Mobile tall who can kick goals and very few players her height are quicker once she gets goal side.

Sarah Hartwig
Key Position Defender | 173cm | Sandringham Dragons

Good one-on-one defender, quick on the lead to spoil and provides good rebounds out of the back half. Will create a strong 1-2 partnership with Pritchard in the back half.

Alice Burke
General Defender | 168cm | Sandringham Dragons

A good user of the footy, can play up the ground but is really settled in the back half. Daughter of St Kilda champion, Nathan. Crossed over from soccer and has been a revelation at the Dragons.

Abigail Bennett
Small Forward | 160cm | Northern Knights

Another Knights player who has had some impressive moments at half-forward. Can push into the midfield as well.

Tarni Brown
General Forward | 166cm | Eastern Ranges

Very raw, but clearly talented. Has a very nice sidestep and can create something out of nothing. Daughter of Gavin and sister to Callum and Tyler.

Olivia Meagher
Small Forward/Midfielder | 151cm | Eastern Ranges

Seemed to get better as the season went on, plays a link-up role at half-forward, and can kick goals or win the footy through the midfield.

Mimi Hill
Outside Midfielder | 167cm | Oakleigh Chargers

Winger who provides good run in transition and played some impressive games throughout the season, especially in the absence of the Chargers top-age midfielders.

Jess Fitzgerald
Small Utility | 161cm | Northern Knights

Tends to play forward, but can play through midfield as well. A creative player who can kick goals from tight angles.

Winnie Laing
Inside Midfielder | 164cm | Sandringham Dragons

As tough as they come on the inside, loves the contest and does not take a backwards step.

Bella Eddey
General Forward | 163cm | Sandringham Dragons

Another creative forward who is good in the air or at ground level and just got better as the season went on.

Alice O’Loughlin
General Forward | 169cm | Oakleigh Chargers

Starred late in the season at half-forward and can push up the ground as well. Creative and a good user of the football going inside 50.

Ashleigh Snow
Small Defender | 156cm | Northern Knights

Was one of the Knights’ best in the grand final and plays taller than her 156cm. Good overhead and creates some great drive out of defence.

Alisa Magri
Tall Forward | 170cm | Calder Cannons

Was a mainstay of the Cannons forward line this season and managed to get on the end of a few goals throughout. Another tall target inside 50 for Metro.

Eliza McNamara
Inside Midfielder | 166cm | Sandringham Dragons

Had a blistering start to the season and had the ball on a string early. A crucial part of the inside midfield at the Dragons, she showed good strength and an ability to move out of traffic.

Vic Country squad:

NoNameDOBHtTAC Region
1Jerusha Devarakonda3/3/02158Geelong Falcons
2Leila Raymond9/3/02158Gippsland Power
3Holly Andrews15/8/02160Gippsland Power
4Elizabeth Snell14/3/02161Bendigo Pioneers
5Megan Fitzsimon10/8/02162Gippsland Power
6Renee Saulitis14/8/02163GWV Rebels
7Jemma Finning19/3/02165Bendigo Pioneers
8Kate Adams15/3/02165Murray Bushrangers
9Emily Nicholson19/3/02165Murray Bushrangers
10Abbey Jordan8/9/02165Dandenong Stingrays
11Brooke Hards19/7/02166Bendigo Pioneers
12Tyanna Smith29/10/02166Dandenong Stingrays
13Chloe Leonard1/2/02167GWV Rebels
15Chandra Abrahams24/3/02169Gippsland Power
16Sharmaine Reilly8/11/02170Bendigo Pioneers
17Sophie Milsome23/4/02172Geelong Falcons
18Zoe Hill13/5/02173Dandenong Stingrays
19Matilda Van Berkel6/9/02174Gippsland Power
20Stephanie Glover11/11/02176GWV Rebels
21Isabella Robson26/4/02176GWV Rebels
22Renee Tierney23/5/02168Geelong Falcons
23Isabella Simmons19/4/02181GWV Rebels
24Olivia Barber14/7/02184Murray Bushrangers
25Maggie Caris21/12/02188GWV Rebels

Renee Tierney
Tall Forward | 168cm | Geelong Falcons

Has had a really consistent season for the Falcons. Good overhead, booted a bag of goals against Oakleigh at Warrawee Park earlier in the season.

Jemma Finning
Balanced Midfielder | 165cm | Bendigo Pioneers

After the two top-age girls in Megan Williamson and Kodi Jacques, Finning was one of the more consistent midfielders at the Pioneers, regularly named in the best.

Brooke Hards
General Defender | 166cm | Bendigo Pioneers

A rebounding defender who can play forward, Hards is good in the air and reads the play well.

Renee Saulitis
Small Forward | 163cm | GWV Rebels

Talented small forward who can kick some great goals from tight angles. Very quick and can pounce on a spillage from a marking contest.

Isabella Simmons
Key Position Forward | 181cm | GWV Rebels

Tall target up forward who pushes up the ground and provides a contest. Raw but has shown some good signs.

Zoe Hill
Key Position Defender | 173cm | Dandenong Stingrays

One of the more consistent 15-16 year-old defenders in the league. Worked well with Lucy Cripps to ensure the Stingrays had good defensive strength in the air.

Olivia Barber
Ruck/Key Position Forward | 184cm | Murray Bushrangers

Rotated between ruck and key forward and was named in the Bushrangers best a number of times. Could rotate with Maggie Caris through the ruck or up forward.

Chandra Abrahams
Tall Utility | 169cm | Gippsland Power

Has played a mixture of forward and back, and while the consistency is still building, she has tricks that not many players have, such as a penetrating kick from 50m on the run from a couple of steps.

Kate Adams
General Forward | 165cm | Murray Bushrangers

Buzzes around the forward line and can push up into the midfield. Fairly clean and clearly talented, will be a player to watch at the Bushies over the next couple of years.

Maggie Caris
Ruck | 188cm | GWV Rebels

With her sister Rene in the AFLW Academy, Maggie followed her into the Rebels program and looked good in the final game of the season against Oakleigh. Already 188cm, Caris will likely play ruck, but could be tried in key position positions as well.

Tyanna Smith
Balanced Midfielder | 166cm | Dandenong Stingrays

Another player who seemed to get better as the season went on, Smith played through the midfield and won her own ball as well as created run in transition.

Jerusha Devarakonda
Small Defender | 158cm | Geelong Falcons

Raw, but talented defender who pushed up to the wing for the Falcons. Got involved a number of times in the grand final and has plenty of scope for the future. Quick and fierce.

Stephanie Glover
Key Position Utility | 176cm | GWV Rebels

Impressed down back, but also showed she could go forward and kick a goal for the Rebels. Good overhead and nimble, she provides plenty of rebound out of the back half.

Holly Andrews
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward | 160cm | Gippsland Power

Played all nine games this season and was named among the best a couple of times for the Power. Had some nice moments within games.

Chloe Leonard
General Forward | 167cm | GWV Rebels

Booted four goals in eight games, including two against Calder Cannons. Was named in the Rebels’ best a number of times and provided a target inside 50.

Emily Nicholson
General Defender | 165cm | Murray Bushrangers

Played every game this season for the Bushrangers and became a regular in the back six. She was named among the best on a couple of occasions.

U16 Fixtures:

June 10 – Vic Metro vs. South Australia in Horsham & Vic Country vs. NSW/ACT in Albury
June 16 – Vic Country vs Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

From boys footy to Bushrangers: Webster makes perfect transition

MURRAY Bushrangers midfielder, Rebecca Webster grew up with footy in her veins.

As a youngster, Webster would run out in an oversized Auskick jumper and have a kick around with her brother’s team. She admits that her brother, a year her senior, fuelled the competitive fire from within, to play Aussie Rules football.

“I always wanted to be better than him (her brother) and I’ve just gone through the ranks of the boys to 14s, and then all through Youth Girls footy and got here now, end of the journey for the TAC (Cup Girls),” Webster said.

Although Webster’s TAC Cup Girls journey was daunting at first, she is impressed with the program’s progression.

“I remember rocking up to training in Kialla for the first time and I was so scared because I never played footy with the girls before,” Webster said. “I was absolutely petrified. “But I don’t think we had many people to get not selected. “We were combined with Bendigo but you can see how much it’s grown. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Like many TAC Cup Girls players, Webster tried her hand at many different sports when she was younger, but felt her passion for footy shone through.

“I just felt like I gelled a lot more with footy,” Webster said. “I was athletic and stuff but I wasn’t really passionate for the other games. “When I was out on the field I just loved it and because I gelled with the boys and everyone there and just felt like home playing footy.”

Playing with the boys was something Webster had become accustomed to at that point, having roughed it up with them on the field from Auskick to under 14s. But when she was selected for the Murray Bushrangers, she discovered a whole new world of football.

“I grew up all my life playing with boys until I was about 14 where I had to play with the girls so it was very, very different,” Webster said. “I never knew what to expect but I’ve definitely adapted over the years and it’s been a great journey. “To be able to connect with the other girls and see how they’ve come about has been really cool.”

Although her TAC Cup Girls journey has ended, Webster still has a busy schedule of football ahead of her, featuring in the upcoming AFL Women’s National Under 18 Championships on the Gold Coast.

“It’s going to be a ripper,” Webster said. “We played up there last year so [I have] got pretty high expectations again but should be good though.”

Webster has also been selected to play in Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s for Melbourne Uni, in what is shaping to be an incredibly bright future for the talented midfielder.

Travel just part of the package for footy fanatic Tamara Smith

TRAVELLING hours on end to training and matches might be tolling for most teenagers, but for Tamara Smith, she is accepting of the fact that success does not come without sacrifice.

The Murray Bushrangers midfielder has enjoyed a good season in the TAC Cup Girls competition, named the Bushrangers’ best in their final two games, following on from a strong finish to the year. The 17 year-old Mooroopna product is less than a month away from turning 18, is studying Year 12 and travels at least two hours return for any football commitment.

“My home club’s an hour away from where I live,” Smith said. “So that’s just local, so training is an hour there and back, and then games are a minimum an hour away. “Then Bushies is an hour and a half travel, so it’s heaps, but your parents are committed and you’re committed, and it’s really worth it.”

That hour and a half travel does not include away games in the TAC Cup Girls competition, including a round eight trek to Warrawee Park in Oakleigh. It is a tiring lifestyle, especially for someone in the final year of their school studies and trying to source income and play out their dream.

“It’s pretty tough, I don’t live in the town I go to school in,” Smith said. “So I travel there every day and then there’s footy, trying to get a part-time job and turning 18 – it’s all happening all at once. “You’ve just got to learn to work around it because footy’s your life. “It just never stops. “Once you’re committed, you’re committed so you just find a way.”

So what made the talented midfielder choose football?

“I have a very big family,” Smith said. “I have six brothers and my parents ran Auskick since I was in about Prep, so I was kind of straight into footy. “I did Auskick until I was about 12, and then I started playing with the boys for four years, and then when I stopped I had to go find a girls competition and then it all grew from there, and here I am playing for Murray Bushrangers.”

Smith said she had enjoyed the extra four rounds of the TAC Cup Girls competition, which despite not ending the way the Bushrangers had hoped after an unbeaten season last year, still gave the players plenty to enjoy throughout the season.

“I’m really happy with the longer season, you get to verse more of a variety of teams and kind of see what works well with your teammates and how they play under different conditions and things like that, so I really enjoyed that,” she said.

There has also been a noticeable improvement in the standard as a whole at both TAC Cup Girls, and local level as more players flock to the competition in the hope of living out their dream now the AFL Women’s is a reality.

“Absolutely [it’s improved], I remember when I first started playing local footy and there was like five teams and they weren’t very strong,” Smith said. “You showed up and you got a game. “Now you pick a side for the week and you’ve got your better players and the standard has just grown huge, and the game has grown – it’s incredible.”

Now Smith has her sights set on the National Under 18 Championships, with preparation beginning on Sunday – just one day after the TAC Cup Girls Grand Final – with all the Victorian players training together at Ikon Park, before a second training session at Windy Hill on June 3.

“[I’m] nervous but excited,” Smith said. “I’m excited for the next step, and to play against even more talented girls, I can develop my own skills and learn how to hold my own.”

Smith rated her leadership and ability to be clean with the ball as her strengths, while aiming to improve kicking on her opposite foot as well as greater composure with ball in hand and not blazing away.

She hopes continued improvement can help her remain in the spotlight in order for her to chase her dream, one that has only become a reality in the past few years.

“AFL has been my dream since I was a little girl, so for it to be a real opportunity, I just want to go for it,” Smith said. No doubt many in Mooroopna will keep a keen eye on her progress.

Weekend wash-up: TAC Cup Girls – Round 9

THE TAC Cup Girls 2018 season came to an end on Saturday, with all 12 teams playing out games at RAMS Arena. The Northern Knights secured a grand final spot with a win against the Bushrangers, joining Geelong in the grand final on Saturday. The Falcons themselves as well as Dandenong got big wins on the day while the Cannons got their first win since round three. 

 

Northern Knights 6.9 (45) defeated Murray Bushrangers 1.9 (15)

By: Julia Montesano 

The Northern Knights eradicated all mathematical grand final probabilities with a 30-point win over Murray Bushrangers in the first game of the day. Although the Bushrangers applied good attacking pressure, they were plagued by inaccuracy thanks to a strong breeze at RAMS Arena. The win sees the Knights claim a grand final spot on Saturday against Geelong.

Fifteen year-old Ellie McKenzie was the star of the day for Northern. She booted three goals and was a proactive presence in the forward line. Nell Morris-Dalton, Alex Pronesti and Alyssa Bannan were the other goal kickers for the Knights. Northern also had a strong presence in the ruck with Gabby Newton and Neve O’Connor rotating throughout the day. The duo won plenty of hit-outs, allowing Knights midfielders such as Madeline Brancatisano and Abigail Bennett to display good ball-use in the convincing win.

The Bushrangers tried desperately to keep themselves in the game with relentless pressure. They were stunned when Northern got out to an early 30-point lead at quarter time but fought hard in the remaining quarters. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t convert in front of goal, demonstrated by kicking 0.7 in the last quarter. Olivia Barber was the only goal-scorer for Murray and provided a good presence around the ground. Usual suspects in the midfield, Tamara Smith, Julia Harvey and Rebecca Webster were once again the stars for Murray, with all of them having good stints in the heart of the contest.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels 5.8 (38) def. Oakleigh Chargers 2.1 (13)

By: Taylah Melki 

In difficult conditions the Rebels were off to a quick start, scoring the first two goals of the match. They applied a lot of defensive pressure across the ground and kept that momentum up throughout the game, winning by 25 points over the Chargers. The blustery conditions did not seem to favour either side but the Rebels made the most of it and competed hard to win the footy. On the other hand, Oakleigh struggled to match the intensity applied by the Rebels, only managing to score two majors for the match.

Sophie Molan starred for Greater Western Victoria (GWV) with her ability to win the footy at ground level and impact on the contest. She was rewarded for her hard work, slotting a goal in the second term and impressed with her footy smarts to set up her teammates.  The likes of Lauren Butler and Sophie Van De Heuvel also played important roles in the Rebels win, applying plenty of forward pressure and opening up space with their clever leads. AFLW Academy player Rene Caris starred down back for GWV, controlling the play and imposing herself on the contest.

In the last quarter, the likes of Daisy Bateman and Gemma Lagioia really lifted their intensity around the ball and tried hard to create a contest both in the air and at the ground. Alana Porter also provided some good run and carry and was clean at stoppages for the Chargers, helping to propel them forward. Meanwhile Emily Harley kick-started the Chargers’ account, bagging the first major for them in the second quarter.

 

Gippsland Power 2.6 (18) def. by Sandringham Dragons 6.6 (42)

By: Taylah Melki 

Gippsland and Sandringham came to play in the last game of the season with only three points separating them at three quarter time. Both teams were evenly poised, making for a tight tussle across the ground. The Power dominated the play in the third term but were unable to capitalise on their scoring opportunities. But the tables turned in the fourth with the Dragons coming out firing and bagging four unanswered goals to claim victory by 24 points.

The ever-reliable Tyla Hanks starred once again for the Power with her ability to turn opponents inside out and hit targets even while she’s under immense pressure. Hanks’ composure with ball in hand allowed her to set up play for teammates and create forward thrusts for Gippsland. Nikia Webber also played an important role, slotting the first goal of the match and applying plenty of pressure, while Emily Hauesler and Jazz Ferguson continued their hot form, taking big grabs and competing hard for the footy.

For the Dragons, the likes of Jemma Owen stood tall, bagging two last quarter goals within minutes of each other, showcasing her ability to read the play and hit the scoreboard. In their last quarter berth, Isabella Eddey stood up, taking charge in the forward line to score her first major of the game and get the Dragons back in front. Teammate, Eleanor Brown also starred for Sandringham with her impressive work rate across the ground and willingness to compete hard and win the footy.

 

Western Jets 1.2 (8) defeated by Geelong Falcons 9.9 (63)

By: Peter Williams 

A four goals to one first term into the breeze set minor premiers Geelong Falcons up for a comfortable win over Western Jets. Despite the wind heavily favouring the Jets in the opening quarter, it was the Falcons that put the scores on the board, led by Nina Morrison (two goals) who played exclusively forward and was dominant in the air. Caitlin Greiser kicked the Jets’ only goal of the game in the first term, but in a positive, Western restricted Geelong to just five more goals for the game, including three when the Falcons had the breeze.

Olivia Purcell put in another top performance to be best on ground, her work around the stoppages was a real highlight. Denby Taylor showed she is capable of playing up either end, while Sachi DeGiacomi booted two majors to work well with Morrison (three goals). Renee Tierney also slotted two majors, while Tarryn Love and Lucy McEvoy were others who impressed throughout the contest.

For the Jets, it was Elisabeth Georgostathis who was everywhere, producing plenty of strong tackles, including a rundown one on Purcell, and always fighting hard for the losing side. Taylah Kolevski‘s efforts in the ruck against Zoe Inei were superb, while Olivia Forsythe and Sharnie Whiting were others who stood out for Western.

 

Calder Cannons 5.2 (32) defeated Eastern Ranges 1.2 (8)

By: Peter Williams 

In what was probably considered an upset given ladder positions and form, Calder Cannons proved too good for Eastern Ranges, courtesy of a fast start. The Cannons booted three goals in the first term and then held on well against the Ranges in a dour, wet weather affair. Mikala Cann booted the Ranges’ only goal from a free kick, as Georgia Patrikios put her hat in the ring for one of the goals of the year with a snap from the boundary line in the third term. While neither side could make the Grand Final, Calder got the four points and claimed its second win of the season.

Madison Prespakis was best on ground again after a performance everyone has come to expect from the top star. She was everywhere and just dominated at ground level or in the air, booting a great goal in the first term from an intercept mark inside forward 50. Patrikios was also electric up forward, while Carla Rendelmann and Madison’s sister, Georgie Prespakis were also good in the wet. AFLW Academy member, Molly Warburton was named in the best for her work in defence.

For Eastern, Cann showed clean hands throughout the contest, while Emerson Woods produced another hard-working effort around the stoppages. Laura McClelland tried to be creative up forward and worked hard throughout the match, while Sarah Kendall put pressure on her opponents around the stoppages and down back. Co-captain, Charlotte Wilson took a few strong intercept marks in defence.

 

Dandenong Stingrays 10.8 (68) defeated Bendigo Pioneers 1.2 (8)

By: Julia Montesano 

The Dandenong Stingrays finished their season with their biggest win of the year, defeating the Bendigo Pioneers by 60 points. The rain did not seem to bother the Stingrays, who managed to kick 10 goals in the slippery conditions.

AFLW Academy forward, Courtney Jones was sensational for the Stingrays, kicking three goals and laying some strong tackles. Brooke Borchard also got three majors on the board, working in tandem with Jones to cause some headaches for the Pioneers. Regular contributors, Isabella Shannon and Jordyn Allen also got on the scoreboard. Shannon applied fantastic pressure throughout the afternoon while Allen continued to play her signatory composed style of football to get Dandenong over the line.

It was a hard slog for the Pioneers, but there was no shortage of shining lights. Midfielder Kodi Jacques was outstanding for the Pioneers, with her innate ability to clear the ball out of a stoppage. Jacques handled herself with composure during the match and used the ball extremely well. She was complemented as usual by captain, Megan Williamson who has not put a foot wrong all season. Williamson displayed hard running on the day and was a brilliant leader on the field.

Scouting notes: TAC Cup Girls- Round 9

THE 2018 TAC Cup Girls grand final has been set. The Northern Knights successfully defeated Murray Bushrangers in the first game of the day, booking themselves a grand final spot against the Falcons. But the other games throughout the day at Craigieburn were no less entertaining! 

 

Northern Knights vs. Murray Bushrangers 

By: Julia Montesano

Northern Knights:

#4 Neve O’Connor

Laid a nice tackle after her kick got smothered, displaying a good second effort. Got nice elevation in the ruck and was able to tap the ball down nicely. Attempted to take a great mark running back with the flight, but when she didn’t mark it, she laid a strong tackle to hold the ball up.

#5 Madeline Brancatisano

Did well to trap the ball on the ground and got quick hands away. The captain did that on a couple of occasions, showing that she has really good agility to bend down and get straight back up.

#18 Sarah Sansonetti

Great smother off her body which stopped a forward thrust for Murray. Tackled hard throughout the day, especially when she laid a great defensive tackle that saved a goal in the goal-square for Murray. Took a great mark in defensive 50 and stepped up her game in the second half.

#22 Britney Gutknecht

Elevated her body well to get her arms free in a tackle. Was able to take a nice mark in space but her kick got smothered by Webster’s body. Gutknecht again worked some magic in a tackle, getting a handball away while under pressure. Did well to pursue the ball on the boundary line to try and keep it in. Got a great pick-up off the deck and kicked it off one step while being tackled.

#23 Gabrielle Newton

Tapped the ball down well and came down with it swiftly to receive the quick hands from a teammate. She then kicked it into space, creating a forward thrust for Northern. Gave off two great handballs under pressure and stood tall in the tackle. Computed her weight well to gently tackle Tamara Smith, and got a holding-the-ball free kick. Newton took a great mark running back with the flight of the ball. Ended up with two holding-the-ball free kicks from strong tackles.

 

Murray Bushrangers:

#1 Julia Harvey

Got on the end of some quick hands by Millie Brown. Was a good link in the chain throughout the day and was able to showcase her speed. Harvey was a quick thinker and used the ball well, whether it was by hand or by foot. Was on the bottom of the pack plenty of times.

#17 Rebecca Webster

Read the tap well and got a nice kick away. Webster did well to follow up the kick and trap the ball after she got a handball she wasn’t expecting. Great pick-up and acceleration out of the pack. Webster was really good at reading the ball in the air and was able to bring it down to ground on plenty of occasions. Kicked nicely, smothered nicely, and tackled nicely. Produced some good run and kick off half-back. Webster excellently burst off half-back and ran well into space. She then tripped over but somehow managed to get a handball away on her knees. Good all-round performance from her. 

#19 Millie Brown

Did a good job kicking out of full-back when she was required to do so. Nice long kick around the body. Kicked it nicely inside 50, where the ball fell out the back but just went through for a behind. Read the tap well and got a good clearance away.

#22 Tamara Smith

Kicked the ball nicely inside 50 to create a scoring opportunity for Murray. Did well to break away from congestion. Never stopped trying for the Bushrangers all day, showcasing her speed and aggression in the depths of the contest.

 

Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Oakleigh Chargers 

By: Taylah Melki

Greater Western Victoria Rebels:

#2 Renee Saulitis

She was instrumental up forward for the Rebels, bagging two goals for the game and competing hard to win the footy in the forward 50. Saulitis applied plenty of good forward pressure and looked promising when she had the ball in hand.

#16 Lauren Butler

She showed some really good footy smarts throughout the game and helped to open up space across the field with her strong leads. Butler applied plenty of good strong tackles and showed a lot of fight to win the footy both at ground level and in the air. She took a good intercept mark and used her long penetrating kick to propel her team forward. Her clean hands in and around the contest and at stoppages were important for the Rebels.

#18 Sophie Van De Heuvel

Presented a good option up forward and constantly offered good leads. She showcased her ability to run hard and covered the ground really well for the Rebels. In difficult conditions, Van De Heuvel displayed her impressive strong kick and was quite dynamic up forward.  

 #23 Sophie Molan

Molan was a clear standout for the Rebels and worked hard all game to win the ball at the coalface. Her effort in and around the stoppages allowed her to release her teammates and open up space, creating scoring opportunities for GWV. She constantly went in hard at the stoppages and scored a goal in the second term from a free kick. Molan looked dangerous all game and really showcased her footy smarts by putting the ball into space and applying plenty of forward pressure to keep the footy trapped inside their forward 50.

#25 Georgia Clarke

Clarke was solid down back once again for the Rebels and showed great composure with ball in hand. She was a real general down back and helped to control the flow of the play in the defensive end for her side. She went down with a possible back injury and received treatment at three-quarter time but returned to the field in the final term. Clarke impressed with her ability to shut down her opponent.

#35 Rene Caris

Competed really hard in the ruck and showcased her impressive leap. Caris got her hands to plenty of the ball in the ruck and displayed some good tap downs to advantage. Her follow-up work around the ground was also important for the Rebels.

 

Oakleigh Chargers:

#2 Mimi Hill

Hill showcased her physicality, applying plenty of good tackling pressure throughout the match. She fought hard to win the ball and create opportunities for her teammates.

#11 Bridie Winbanks

Had a really consistent game but laid a really strong tackle in the third quarter that affected a shot at goal. She showed great fight for the ball and never gave up around the contest, competing hard to win the ball both in the air and at ground level.

#14 Hannah McLaren

McLaren competed hard all game for Oakleigh and was never far from the contest. She covered the ground really well and was a key player for the Chargers.

#30 Gemma Lagioia

Lagioia shone with her good tackling pressure and persistent fight to win the footy at ground level. She was really clean in and around the stoppages and showcased her footy smarts throughout the match. Her ability to read the play allowed her to take important intercepts and propel her team forward into attack. Lagioia applied plenty of good forward pressure and tried hard all game to create scoring opportunities for her teammates with her long penetrating kick into the forward 50.

#38 Daisy Bateman

In difficult and windy conditions Bateman competed hard all game to try and win the footy when it came her way. Her intensity really lifted in the final term as she showed plenty of run and carry. The full forward imposed herself on the contest and applied some good forward pressure, laying a strong tackle in the last quarter. Bateman used her speed and footy knowledge to try and break through the Rebels pressure and open up space for her teammates. 

 

Gippsland Power vs. Sandringham Dragons

By: Taylah Melki

Gippsland Power:

#6 Emily Haeusler

Haeusler showcased her strong hands for the Power, taking a few strong grabs down in defence and using her long penetrating kick to move the ball forward. Her run and carry for Gippsland was important, and she showcased her footy smarts with a clever shepherd to allow her teammate a free run at the footy.

 #8 Chandra Abrahams

Abrahams imposed herself around the ground, applying strong tackling pressure and applying an impressive smother against her opponent

#27 Nikia Webber

Webber was on fire in the opening minutes of the match, kicking the first major of the game and putting the Power in good stead. She worked hard to try and open up space and displayed her strong set of hands, taking a few big grabs. Webber showcased her versatility and clean hands to pick the ball up in difficult and windy conditions.

 #28 Tyla Hanks

Hanks continued her hot form, dazzling with her impressive evasive skills and clever footwork along the boundary line to turn her opponents inside out. She also showed great composure to be able to hit targets while under pressure. Her ability to read the play allowed her to create opportunities for teammates and help propel her team forward. Whenever Hanks had the ball in hand she seemed to have plenty of time and space to think her options through and impact the play. Hanks took a huge contested grab and her ability to create a contest even when out-numbered was invaluable for the Power.

#45 Lily Van Berkel

Van Berkel took a huge pack mark in the second quarter in blustery conditions. Her ability to read the play and her strong hands made for a good marking contest for the Power. 

 

Sandringham Dragons:

#25 Isabella Eddey

Eddey really stood up in the last quarter, scoring a huge goal to get the Dragons back in front. In testing conditions she showcased her booming and accurate kick that helped to propel her team forward. Eddey applied a lot of good forward pressure to help trap the ball inside Sandringham’s forward 50 and get repeat entries. 

#30 Eleanor Brown

Brown is a really smooth mover and covers the ground well to get herself into damaging positions. She was really good with her follow-up efforts and competed hard to win the footy, whether it be aerially or on the deck. Brown also impressed with her clean pick-ups and quick hands in and around the contest. Her speed and ability to open up space across the ground was really important in creating spread for the Dragons.  

#33 Molly Denahy Maloney

She imposed herself on the contest and covered the ground really well in wet and cold conditions. Denahy Maloney positioned herself well throughout the game and moved into damaging positions to try and create forward pressure.

#36 Jemma Owen

Owen showcased her footy smarts and ability to read the play, bagging an impressive soccer goal in the last quarter of the game. Her forward pressure lifted in the final term, scoring two majors within six minutes which helped her team secure a big win. She worked really hard throughout the game to win the footy at the coalface and was not afraid to go in and scrap for the ball.

#50 Holly Bate

Kicking into the wind, Bate missed a set shot in the second quarter but went on to make amends later in the match, slotting a goal in the dying minutes of the fourth quarter. She impressed with her strong hands and took an impressive mark at full extension in the last quarter.

 

Geelong Falcons vs. Western Jets

By: Peter Williams

Geelong Falcons:

#7 Olivia Purcell

Another top performance from the talented midfielder who enjoyed many tough one-on-one contests with the Jets midfielders. She was the dominant clearance player on the day and won the football on both the inside and outside. Purcell is able to find space where there seems to be none, and can kick out of a stoppage well.

#18 Nina Morrison

Played almost exclusively at full-forward and gave us more of a sneak peak into her versatility as a permanent forward. The wind reeked havoc on any attempt on goal, with Morrison finishing with three majors and a number of behinds as well. She was strong in the air and unbeatable on the lead, she also provided serious forward pressure and continually harassed the ball-carrier to win the football back.

#23 Lucy McEvoy

An anchor off half-back, McEvoy was always there to clean up the crumbs and propel the ball forward. A noticeable trait for the captain is her ability to weigh her kicks and take power off them to find teammates 20 metres away with a “chip” kick over the top of an opponent. She is a fierce tackler and often forces her teammates to lead or run into open space and she puts it to their advantage. A booming kick who was able to be effective going long from half-back to half-forward.

#27 Denby Taylor

Played at both ends like she did in the AFLW Academy match against Geelong. She seems to have a natural aggression at the football and is more of a marking player than a spoiling one which is why she has been able to influence up forward. A huge grab in the second term was a highlight, but she just missed the set shot. Did well with a couple of handballs to teammates in the third term.

#38 Renee Tierney

The forward played her role once again for the Falcons, kicking two goals in the match and also pushed up the ground. She won a contested ball on the wing and had the vision to handball to Stephanie Williams on the outside by putting it in front of her in space.

#39 Tarryn Love

A consistent midfielder who applies fantastic pressure on the ball carrier. For a smaller player she can roost the ball a fair way and just continually buzzes around the contest. Along with Purcell, Love was one of the best midfielders on the ground.

#42 Sachi DeGiacomi

The other permanent Falcons forward had another good day out, booting two goals and causing headaches on the lead for the opposition. Almost assisted in a goal in the second term as well but the shot was touched on the line. DeGiacomi showed good bodywork in one-on-one contests and provided a presence in attack for Geelong.

 

Western Jets:

#16 Elisabeth Georgostathis

A really impressive game from Georgostathis, whose performance is always littered with pressure acts and strong tackles. She wins free kicks from her tackling pressure, and one of her best efforts was a fantastic run-down tackle on Olivia Purcell in the second term when her opponent tried to side-step her. She was composed under pressure and able to dispose of the ball quickly, winning plenty of it throughout the game. In one instance in the third term she won a 1v2 contest when she was out-numbered and was able to clear the ball to a teammate. Really held her own against a number of AFLW Academy midfielders on the day.

#30 Isabelle Pritchard

Saw plenty of the ball down her end but showed good composure when flying for marks. In the third term she took a good contested grab and did push up the ground at times, particularly when Western was kicking with the wind. Early in the fourth term she stopped a certain goal when a couple of Falcons opponents tried to handball through the defence but her pressure was enough to cause a mistake and force a throw in on the boundary line.

#43 Caitlin Greiser

Greiser kicked Western’s first and only goal late in the opening term before heading to defence. She nailed a powerful set shot with the wind to open the Jets’ account then showed off her versatility by playing in the defensive half, most notably at full-back. In one instance of a kickout she cleared the 50 metre line with the aid of the wind in the third term, and won a one-on-one on the defensive side of the wing, protecting the ball drop area and clearing the ball with a long kick to half-forward.

 

Calder Cannons vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Peter Williams 

Calder Cannons:

#2 Felicity Theodore

A composed user of the ball, Theodore spread well across the course of the game and showed sure hands in the wet conditions with a good mark on the lead at half-back. She can take the game on at times and back herself in as well.

#3 Madison Prespakis

There is not much more that can be said about Prespakis that has not been said 1000 times before. Another best on ground performance and vintage display from the midfielder who just continues to battle hard throughout four quarters. She was a dominant player once again, and aside from working hard and kicking clear of the congestion on a number of occasions, she impacts up forward week-in, week-out. Booted an early foal from a set shot 45 metres out and assisted in more forward entries. Rarely puts a foot wrong.

#21 Georgia Patrikios

I would probably have her up there as one of the most naturally intuitive forwards going around. Every time she gets the ball inside 50, you get a sense that she could kick a clever goal and she did it again on the weekend. In the first term she got goal side of a contest and kicked a fantastic goal, but her second was one for the ages. Bucketing down at times and a heavy ball and wet ground, Patrikios managed to somehow kick a goal from the boundary line with an outside of the boot snap under pressure in which should not only be one of the highlights of the round, but highlights of the season.

#23 Grace Dicker

Talented bottom-ager who has a great blend of courage and natural talent. She won a free sliding into a contest to take a mark in the second term and moments later went back with the flight in another marking contest to impact in defence. She zipped around the ground and showed good acceleration, missed a couple of kicks with the wet ball, but just kept applying enormous amounts of defensive pressure, and applied a great spoil on a much taller opponent in the third quarter.

 

Eastern Ranges:

#3 Emerson Woods

The co-captain has put together a really consistent second half of the season and in the wet, she showed good leadership with strong hands. She wins the ball on the inside and often handballs into the path of her teammates running on the outside, directing them where to run and therefore leading by her actions. She is a quick thinker and has lightning quick hands in a stoppage. Knew to keep the ball moving and get it forward at all costs in poor conditions.

#21 Mikala Cann

A classy display in the wet with another good balance of offensive and defensive acts. Cann provided good tackling pressure and just continued to attack the contest hard throughout the four quarters. Despite the wet ball she seemed to be clean with her disposal and not flustered by the slippery conditions.

#38 Laura McClelland

Not a great day for forwards but McClelland did her best in the wet. She showed good hands out in front and in the pouring rain of the second quarter, managed to collect the ball off the deck with one swift pick-up, turned and disposed of it inside 50. She applied a good shepherd on the wing in the third term to allow her teammate to win the ball and then showed good defensive pressure inside 50 with a bone-crunching tackle.

 

Dandenong Stingrays vs. Bendigo Pioneers 

By: Julia Montesano

Dandenong Stingrays:

#1 Shelley Heath

Displayed a good quick burst out of a stoppage and delivered a nice kick inside 50. Displayed good work to hold the ball up for a stoppage and did nicely to trap the ball in a two-on-one. She won that battle as she got up on her feet first.

#3 Courtney Jones

Executed a nice wrap-around tackle, and her all-round tackling was great on the day. Jones worked hard to get the ball and when it didn’t go her way, she followed up with a second effort and created a stoppage. Took a great mark when she read the ball really well off Brooke Struylaart’s centring kick, just letting the ball go onto her chest. A highlight for me was when she had a set shot at goal. Jones dropped the ball lower on her run-up and just kicked it gently through the goal, which was smart play as she knew she couldn’t hack it because the wind would just take it. Displayed a high footy IQ in that instance. Executed a great one-two with Zoe Hill and then delivered a huge kick on the run which sailed through the goals. Jones really stepped up her game in the fourth quarter but had a good all-round performance.

#15 Jordyn Allen

Executed a great passage of play when she took a nice mark on the lead, gave off a quick handball and performed a nice one-two with a teammate. She was able to evade a tackler and gave off a quick handball on the inside to Lucy Cripps. She then evaded another tackle and got a kick away once the tackle stuck, showing great strength in the contest. Executed a great pick-up and spun her way out of trouble to kick well to a lead. Displayed excellent gut-running throughout the game, despite the trying conditions. 

 

#26 Isabella Shannon

Read the conditions well when she picked up the ball and kicked it along the ground. Executed a nice kick forward and took a great contested mark. Shannon played a good all-round game, not just inside 50 but all around the ground. Did well when she won a free kick for holding the ball, got a 50 metre penalty and scored a goal.  

#35 Lucy Cripps

For wet conditions, Cripps played the boundary line extremely well. This was shown when she displayed some nice work to keep the ball inside the boundary line and keep it alive for the Stingrays. In one instance, she got tackled but followed up well to pursue the ball. Executed a great pick-up on the boundary line and then gave off a nice quick handball to Isabella Shannon. Cripps displayed good work to follow up the ball and kept running after it after it got away from her. She did really well in one instance to shepherd the ball and got a kick into space. A highlight of Cripps’ game was when she managed to kick the ball out of the pack perfectly towards a target.

 

 

 

Bendigo Pioneers:

#19 Kodi Jacques

Jacques was outstanding for Bendigo. She displayed good hustle at the contest and good running to be involved wherever she could. Jacques fought hard for the footy and it paid off when she picked up the ball swiftly off the deck and got the ball into space. Executed a nice clearance, always seeming to find the footy. Jacques was able to get good penetration on her kicks and was rewarded through winning a couple of free kicks. Laid a good smother then did well to trap the ball to ensure it didn’t go anywhere. Executed a nice kick out of a stoppage and a nice fist over the boundary line. Did well in the heart of the contest where she got a few great clearances on the day. She read the taps perfectly and did everything she could for Bendigo. 

#20 Kate Douglass

Took a great mark in the back line and was able to follow up after missed marks. Worked really hard back there.  

#28 Megan Williamson

Displayed hard running towards the footy and was a general on-field leader. Williamson is a great role model for her teammates, always going in hard at the contest. She used the footy really well on the day and tackled hard when she needed to do so. She’s not so much a ‘wow factor’ player, but she’s certainly one that never stops working, and her efforts certainly don’t go unnoticed.