ROUND six presented us with some of the most even matches this season. The Falcons and Knights came up against tough opponents in the Eastern Ranges and Gippsland Power, respectively, but still both managed to keep their undefeated streaks alive. The Dandenong Stingrays also joined them on the winner’s board with their first victory of the season. With all teams now with a win on the board, we decided to focus on the in-form players of the competition in this week’s opinion-based scouting notes.
Gippsland Power vs. Northern Knights
#6 Emily Haeusler
The dashing defender backed up her form from the week before with another top performance. She provided early run out of defence, winning plenty of the ball in the back half and clearing it wide. She did drop a couple of marks, but recovered well to win the ball back, and had good awareness to turn her opponent inside out at ground level and kick to a teammate cleanly on the wing. She showed clean hands at ground level, having a great one-handed pick-up at full speed off the deck, but unfortunately slipped over as she went to kick. Haeusler also laid a good hip-and-shoulder late in the first term to assist a teammate to win the ball. Throughout the game she took some good intercept marks and generally kicked to space, with only one hesitation coming in the third term where she handballed backwards to a teammate. Other than that, she gained some good metres and then moved onto a wing late in the game and was crucial driving the ball inside 50 in the final term when Gippsland was coming at Northern.
#27 Nikia Webber
Webber was contained more than previous weeks but still got involved where she could. She presented up to the ball at half-forward and had an early snap but it fell short. She started the third term in defence and got an early touch, also taking an intercept mark. She copped a knock at the eight-minute mark of the third quarter, but she came back on, played forward in the final term and booted the first goal to get the momentum flowing. She missed a chance at making it two running into goal, but was looking dangerous. Copped another knock in the final term but got back up.
#28 Tyla Hanks
The Gippsland Power co-captain came back in to the side after a week off with AFLW Academy duties and had an impact in the middle. Arguably her usual influence was somewhat nullified due to the good work of opposing captain Maddy Brancatisano who made sure she always had body contact on Hanks at the stoppages. She moved into defence when the Knights started to get a roll on, and then back into the middle when the Power needed more drive from the clearances. When Gippsland needed someone to step up as the game was starting to slip away, Hanks snapped a great goal off a step from a loose ball. She just continually hunted the football and won a few free kicks for being held and despite being under opposition guard, cracked in hard for some crucial contested possessions. In the third term, she laid a great run-down tackle on Olivia Dikranis as the latter almost got away from the stoppage. She worked well with Emily Haeusler in the final term to keep the Power alive, almost kicking a couple more goals, but one went out on the full and one just missed.
#5 Maddy Brancatisano
I thought it was the captain’s best game of the year, because she not only won the ball herself, but played a crucial role on the inside on Tyla Hanks. The pair had an enthralling battle for most of the contest and neither took a backwards step. Her best work was her hands on the inside, often winning the hardball and releasing a teammate on the outside, almost setting up a goal in the opening term with the subsequent shot missing. In the third term she stood her ground in a marking contest with pressure from Hanks coming at full-speed, and also won a one-on-one in the forward 50 for the Knights to lock it up and stop the Power rebound.
#6 Alyssa Bannan
A solid performance from the versatile tall, with Bannan booting the one goal, but moving well across the ground. She won a crucial contest early in the piece and in Bannan style, kicked the goal of the day with some great running from the half-forward flank, taking a few bounces and kicking a goal on the run in the opening term. She took a strong mark on the lead in the second term and showed both quick hands and a ferocity around the contest throughout the match.
#22 Britney Gutknecht
When the game was hot early on and the Knights were firing, I thought Gutknecht was the one who stood tallest in the match. With Maddy Bracantisano playing a crucial inside role, Gutknecht was the beneficiary on the outside. She booted the knights’ first goal thanks to a good bounce. She copped a hard hit shortly after, managed to spin out of it and kick long to the 50m mark. Gutknecht has that touch of class where she does not have to win a heap of it to influence the contest, and also provided good defensive pressure as well as offensive drive. She capped off a great first half with a goal at the 10-minute mark after Gippsland had a purple patch and momentum was with the Power. She almost kicked a third goal but just missed, then a fourth shot from 50m just went to the left. Was a little quiet in the final term, but her work in the first half was great.
#23 Gabby Newton
A consistent performance from Newton who returned from AFLW Academy duties. Her first touch was a clean one, with a pick-up out of a stoppage and charge forward. She showed quick hands under pressure and dish off to teammates, and showed some almost too unselfish play in the third term where she went to handball to Alyssa Bannan after taking a good mark inside 50. She immediately handballed to Bannan who was not quite expecting it. Luckily, they mopped up and still kicked the goal. She also had a shot on goal herself from long range but it went wide and was intercepted.
#24 Alexandra Pronesti
Had her moments up forward with great defensive pressure and continual ball movement. She booted a goal in the third term to almost seal the game, and while she has had more dominant performances this season, she was always involved when required, providing one percenters defensively.
Greater Western Victoria Rebels vs. Calder Cannons
By: Cameron Ross
#8 Ella Wood
Wood was the Rebels’ best player until injury in the third quarter curtailed her influence in the final term. She gave the Rebels outside run all game, which was really important as they were struggling to get the ball inside 50 at times and needed her quality ball use and skill level to break down the Cannons defence. Impressed me with her ability to win her own clearances, and a willingness to not only give outside run, but put her head over the ball and win the hard ones too. A really important contributor in the Rebels’ win.
#16 Lauren Butler
The captain was outstanding again, and is proving to be one of the most consistent players in the TAC Cup Girls competition. The Carisbrook native is courageous, athletic and has intangibles that set her apart from many of her peers. An example of this was when she understood that the switch wasn’t on, even though the Rebels had the outnumber in the centre, and that the kick down the line was the smarter play. She also took a big intercept mark in defence and won clearances at the stoppages. One player who is enjoyable to watch.
#18 Sophie Van De Huevel
Tough player who has a great eye for goal and a willingness to do the one percenters. Her attempt at a contested mark was spoiled yet she buttered up with a big second effort, cleanly picking the ball up and kicking it inside 50. Lovely piece of roving earned her a goal with a nice snap on the right boot. A quality performance.
#23 Sophie Molan
The first time I watched Molan against Bendigo, I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what I thought about her. However, she won me over against the Cannons. She is a lovely kick of the ball, and has an ability to not only take big contested marks but also win contested possessions at ground level. Molan is a player that I can see developing into a quality footballer.
#25 Georgia Clarke
A pillar of strength in defence, and read the play well to stop the Cannons attack on a few occasions. Plays the “kick-and-a-half” behind the play role better than anyone.
#27 Nyakoat Dojiok
Dojiok is so exciting to watch. She doesn’t get a lot of the footy, but when she does she always does something amazing. At one stage she received the ball in the middle and launched a 40-45 metre bomb to a one-on-one in the hotspot. She’s just so raw that the Rebels must be excited to see her development over the course of the season.
#3 Madison Prespakis
Prespakis was outstanding, and the best player on the field in a losing side. Had nearly a page of notes on her alone, with “LITERALLY EVERYWHERE” written in capital letters at the bottom of the page. This was written after she won a clearance, had a shot at goal at one end, and then moments later was taking an important mark for her side in defence. Was important for her side at stoppages, using her strength and nous to win clearance after clearance. The complete package and standout player on the day.
#9 Molly Warburton
Warburton played well and was an option for the Cannons on the outside. Finished off a nice bit of play for the Cannons, kicking a goal on the run after they moved the ball quickly and went from defence to attack within four possessions. Overall, played well and will look to build on that performance next week.
#21 Georgia Patrikios
This player is classy. Makes the game look really easy, and clearly has natural ability. Kicked one of the better goals you will see at this level. Flew out of the centre with a clearance, and kicked a long goal from 50 out. Unlucky not to kick three goals, hitting the post and just missing a snap on goal. Enjoyed watching her play.
Dandenong Stingrays vs. Western Jets
By: Julia Montesano
#3 Courtney Jones
Kicked two goals for the game and was really lively inside 50. Her first attempt at goal was off a free kick, where she got the opportunity to kick a major from just inside the boundary line. While the kick missed, she demonstrated a great goal-kicking action, which held her in good stead for the rest of the game. She was able to present well to kicks inside 50 and read the ball really well in the air. Jones was also able to show some great resilience in one instance, when she copped a hard knock from a Jets opponent. While she was on the ground for a bit, she got back up, waved the trainers away and before you knew it, she was having a set-shot at goal. There was also one moment when she picked up the ball well off a Samantha Ryan handball, sold some candy and kicked towards Brooke Struylaart inside 50 with a bend-around-the-body kick.
#15 Jordyn Allen
There was not much work for her to do as the ball was not getting propelled into the Jets forward-line that often early. But she moved into the middle in the second half and never looked back. Displayed good awareness and got the ball in the right places, especially when she took a nice mark at the top of the 50. From that mark, she received a 50 metre penalty and like Jones, her kicking action was impressive. When needed, she would float back down into defence, and was very composed. This was demonstrated when she picked up the ball in the defensive goal-square and kicked off her opposite foot because she saw that there wasn’t an option on the right side of the ground. Allen also displayed great strength when she still got a handball away after being tackled by two players. Stepped up massively in second half and worked her way into the game when she saw it wasn’t coming down her end.
#29 Brooke Struylaart
Did really well to track down the ball inside 50. She was able to demonstrate high footy IQ when she elected to keep kicking a dribbling ball off the ground rather than bending down to pick it up, which would’ve allowed her opponent to beat her. Instead, the ball went deep inside 50 and resulted in a good chance at goal. Struylaart never gave up on the footy when it was about to trickle out of her reach, working hard when it came near her way. In one instance, she spoiled the ball well and demonstrated great awareness to pick up the ball and kick it well. Struylaart had good composure throughout the game, which was especially shown when she delivered a perfect kick just from outside 50, which hit Jones lace-out on the chest. Kicked a nice running goal and deserved it for her efforts. However, her day was turned sour when came off with a suspected knee injury shortly after. Finished the game on crutches.
#44 Samantha Ryan
Ryan proved that she was a high-flyer when she leapt up for a specky! Although she didn’t bring the ball down, she showed how agile she is in the air. Gave off a nice handball to set up a high kick to the goal-square. Was also able to get the ball under pressure, demonstrated by a good quick-fire handball to Jones. Has a great reach, which was demonstrated by touching Caitlin Greiser’s high kick towards goal through for a point. Read the ball well in the air and was composed enough to just let it roll over the line.
#14 Isabella Grant
Started off the day by taking a composed mark and kicking the ball nicely to the wing. Had a fantastic burst out of the back-line where she evaded two players and kicked it long down the ground. That was one of the greatest passages of plays I’ve seen from an individual this year. Grant took a good mark on the wing and kicked it nicely down the line. She demonstrated great strength when she stood up in a tackle and still got a long kick away and got the ball out of congestion. Hands were fantastic all game and she was calm and composed by foot.
#16 Elisabeth Georgostathis
Attempted to clear the ball from congestion and when it didn’t work out, she followed up her efforts, showing how resilient she is in the contest. Tried to trap the ball on the boundary line under pressure, which I thought was great, especially with the ball moving so quickly down the ground. Georgostathis was in every hard contest, and did well when she was able to deliver a nice high kick to get the ball forward. One of her most impressive moments was when she took good mark in the back pocket, reaching towards the side of her body to grab the footy. In one instance, she cleared the ball well out of the stoppage, evaded a couple of players and booted it perfectly in front of Savannah Forbes.
#27 Payton-Ani Ozols
Gave off a nice quick handball to set up some run on the wing. Displayed great speed with a great run-down tackle that saved a Stingrays goal. She also took a good intercept mark and looked up straight away to spot Caitlin Greiser. Demonstrated good run out of the back-line and was able to just get and go. Has amazing acceleration when she gets the ball in hand. This was demonstrated when she burst away from a player and still got a kick away after being tackled. At one point, the ball was kicked into space perfectly for Shelley Heath but Ozols chased her down extremely quickly to stop the ball from being penetrated into Dandenong’s forward line.
#30 Isabelle Pritchard
Pritchard was brave around the contest, which was demonstrated when she took a strong pack mark on the goal-line to save a score. Laid some bone-crunching tackles in defence. But strength wasn’t her only asset on the day as she also demonstrated great agility. This was shown through a good pick-up and handball off the deck.
#39 Cleo Saxon-Jones
Did well in the ruck with her nice leap. Won a lot of hit-outs on the day. Was able to show great awareness when she followed up after the ball got smothered off one of her teammates’ boots. Saxon-Jones thinks fast and moves fast, which helped her when she was able to read the footy in the air and try to mark it. Laid a good shepherd to allow the Jets small midfielders to chase the ground ball. Had good awareness to run back into the square when Forbes, who was playing at full-forward, had to play a role at the stoppage inside 50.
#40 Sharnie Whiting
Took a great mark in the forward pocket with her really strong hands. Demonstrated her long, booming kicking when she was dealt with the task of kicking the ball out of the back-line. Her kick-outs often went past 50 metres! Whiting also did the little things such as when she picked up the ball well under pressure and displayed good intent to hack it out of congestion. To me, Whiting has one of the longest kicks in the competition.
#43 Caitlin Greiser
Was held down well by Stingrays defenders but still got herself involved in the game. Greiser does really well to get the ball forward, always looking ahead for an option inside 50. In one instance, she had great awareness to know that the kick from Ozols was touched and played on straight away, streaming into goal and kicking truly from the goal-square.