Jets fly South for NAB League Girls Round 2

ANOTHER round of NAB League Girls action is about to take place, with Western Jets coming into the fold, heading down to Tasmania as part of a five-game Saturday. Traditional rivals Oakleigh Chargers and Sandringham Dragons will do battle on Sunday to round out the weekend in what will provide plenty of highlights for spectators.

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • Geelong Falcons

Saturday, January 29 @ 10am
Epsom Huntly Reserve

Opening up a big double-header at Epsom Huntly Reserve, the Murray Bushrangers and Geelong Falcons face off following opposite results in Round 1. The Bushrangers were able to weather the heat well up in Yarrawonga and take home the points by putting a massive 13.11 (89) on the board en route to a 38-point win over Bendigo Pioneers. Meanwhile, the Falcons suffered defeat at the hands of Dandenong Stingrays at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds.

After a remarkable debut, Zarlie Goldsworthy will look to repeat the effort she produced against the Pios, amassing 33 disposals, five marks, 10 inside 50s and 4.4. The Falcons have a tough inside midfield lead by Ash Van Loon and Charlotte Simpson, with Keeley Hardingham in good form too. The Bushrangers showcased their depth and versatility with the likes of Keeley Skepper, Cassidy Mailer and Tamika Rourke all adding that hardness. Zara Hamilton added gut running on the wing, whilst India Lehman also slotted four goals in the win. For Geelong, Johanna Sunderland looked good on debut alongside Mackenzie McGrath in defence, whilst Grace Purcell caught the eye in midfield. Geelong also missed Mia Van Dyke from the match.

Murray heads in as favourite for the game after an eye-catching performance, whilst the Falcons will look to bounce back from their Round 1 loss.

  • Team
  • Bendigo Pioneers
  • GWV Rebels

Saturday, January 29 @ 12pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve

Next up at Epsom Huntly Reserve is another clash between two sides with differing results in Round 1. Bendigo Pioneers return home after their 38-point loss to Murray in Yarrawonga, whilst the GWV Rebels easily accounted for Gippsland Power by 59 points. Though the different results, this could be a closer game than the results may suggest, with Gippsland largely matching – and in some cases, winning – key statistics in the loss, whilst Bendigo was certainly able to have some eye-catching moments where they looked impressive in transition. The Pios also still scored a healthy 7.9 (51), and showed they can produce opportunities inside 50.

The Rebels’ forwardline is what impressed the most in Round 1, sharing the scores around with Paige Scott, Ruby Stephens and Paige Glover all kicking two goals from double-digit disposals. That will mean the likes of Eliza Bell, Madeline Marks and Jemmika Douglas will have their work cut out for them. Lucia Painter and Drew Ryan both found plenty of the ball around the ground, with Painter able to drive forward and provide offensive drive to match her defensive focus. Lila Keck also impressed, whilst Octavia Di Donato – though not at her most dominant best – had some standout moments. Over-age talents Lilli Condon and Tahlia Meier lead the way for the Rebels, with Tyla Crabtree and Bindi Crabtree among the impressive debutants in the match, teaming up well with defender-turned-midfielder Molly Walton.

The Rebels have the depth that should see them grab the win, but this is a danger game, because the results in Round 1 showed promising signs for the losing Country teams.

  • Team
  • Gippsland Power
  • Dandenong Stingrays

Saturday, January 29 @ 12pm
Churchill Football Ground

Back at home in Churchill, Gippsland Power plays host to Dandenong Stingrays with the sides coming off completely contrasting Round 1 results. Whilst the Power went down to the Rebels by 59 points – albeit in an incredibly spirited effort – the Stingrays hardly looked like losing thanks to Amber Clarke‘s inspired five-goal performance. The Power were missing Vic Country representative Lily-Rose Williamson in Round 1, and now fellow Vic Country representative Yasmin Duursma will join her on the sidelines. There were plenty of impressive bottom-age talents in the Power colours last week, but the Stingrays have incredible depth making this contest a difficult one for them.

Alisha Molesworth and Sunday Brisbane provided great run, pressure and ability to move the ball in transition last week, with debutant Ash Centra having a commanding performance through the midfield. The Dandenong Stingrays midfield is littered with talent though, as co-captain Felicity Crank is alongside AFLW Under 19s Vic Country Most Valuable Player (MVP) Jaide Anthony, and Clarke when she rolls through there. Key position tall and co-captain Mackenzie Eardley stepped up in the second half against the Falcons last week, with Mikayla Williamson providing strong run out of defence. Olivia Robinson and Emily Shepherd also found plenty of the ball in what was a real even team performance. Gippsland’s Ella Stoddart looked comfortable on debut in defence, whilst Indiana Makai found her fair share of the ball in the midfield.

It is hard to look past Dandenong in pretty much any match this season, but coming off a big win, and Gippsland being such a young side with a couple of key players missing, it will be quite the test for the home team.

  • Team
  • Tasmania Devils
  • Western Jets

Saturday, January 29 @ 12pm
Prospect Park

In the second of three consecutive home games for the Tasmania Devils, the sole Apple Isle side welcomes Western Jets to Launceston. The Jets are yet to play this season after a Round 1 bye, and will now jump on a plane to head to Prospect Park for a midday battle. The Devils went down in a heartbreaking loss to Sandringham Dragons last week, though were more efficient than the Dragons who almost kicked themselves out of the game with 2.13 (25) to 3.4 (22). This week the Devils will be breathing fire themselves to try and get a win at home, whilst the Jets will look to shake off the rust of an additional week preseason to open their account for season 2022.

The Devils have brought in Tunisha Kikoak for injured captain Jemma Blair, leaving vice-captains Claire Ransom and Meghan Gaffney as the on-field leaders. They form a pretty strong onball brigade with AFLW Academy member Brooke Barwick and contested ball-winner Candice Belbin. The Jets’ strength comes in their midfield too, led by a couple of AFLW Academy members themselves. Charlotte Baskaran was named captain for the 2022 season, with Montana Ham also in the leadership group. With Kiera Whiley and Paige Ryan creating run on the outside, the Jets have a nice balance. A couple of future talents to watch who come with high wraps are Lou-Lou Field and Sierra Grieves who have been named up opposite flanks. The ruck battle between Krystal Russell and Charlotte Vandenberg will be one to watch, while Shania Saward and Amy Bissett are impact players.

This is a tight one really coming down to the midfield battle. The Devils will be better for the run last week, but the Jets are building something strong, making this a thrilling contest.

  • Team
  • Calder Cannons
  • Northern Knights

Saturday, January 29 @ 1pm
RAMS Arena

The final game on Saturday takes place at RAMS Arena in Cragieburn where two Round 1 losers will look to get their first win of the season in Round 2. The Calder Cannons return to their spiritual home after going down to Eastern Ranges at Kilsyth last week, whilst the Northern Knights were overrun by a strong Oakleigh Chargers outfit in the opening round. Both teams have a balance of over-age, top-age and bottom-age talent across the board, with the sides able to match it with their opponents in Round 1 before ultimately getting beaten.

Calder’s Mali McLeod was one such over-ager who really impressed with her hard running on the wing, which is something that fellow over-ager Maykaylah Appleby is capable of for the Knights. The Knights have a well-balanced list with top-ager Rylie Wilcox so damaging in the forward half, and the likes of Ava Jordan and Brooke Plummer able to get it forward in transition. Phoebe Nelson also stepped up in Round 1, with Megan Barnes and Tannah Hurst among the more impressive Knights. Abbey McDonald and Tahlia Read found plenty of the pill themselves, whilst a couple of debutants in Amy Gaylor and Bridie Collings caught the eye in Round 1. Then there was Reese Sutton‘s 12 tackles that were hard to miss, with both her and McDonald combining for 20, with their 27 disposals in the match.

This is another difficult game to pick given both had similar performances in Round 1, showing glimpses before being overrun. Northern did have control over one of the benchmark teams in the competition which means the Knights should be marginal favourites here, but Calder showed plenty in its loss as well.

  • Team
  • Sandringham Dragons
  • Oakleigh Chargers

Sunday, January 30 @ 12pm
Trevor Barker Oval

Wrapping up Round 2 of NAB League Girls action, traditional metropolitan rivals Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers do battle at Trevor Barker Oval on Sunday. The standalone clash is the only match of the round that pits two Round 1 winners against each other. The Chargers proved too good for the Knights to start their premiership defence off on the right note at La Trobe University in Bundoora, whilst the Dragons travelled to Tasmania to bring home the four points. Though they grabbed the win, no doubt goalkicking practice will be a talking point, having booted 2.13 (25) and only just escaped with the victory given the Devils slotted 3.4 (22).

In that match, inaccuracy really threatened to hurt the Dragons, with the visitors trailing by a point at three quarter time, 1.13 (19) to 3.2 (20). Though they came back and won, it will be an area to improve for Round 2, with debutant Rebecca Thompson (12 disposals, four marks) so impressive with her hard work, but kicking five behinds on the scoresheet. It was no surprise to see Sofia Hurley picking up the midfield slack in the absence of Bridie Hipwell. She teamed up well with Keely Coyne and Ella Sciberras, whilst Georgia Foran amassed 16 disposals, four marks and 11 rebound 50s in the back half. The Dragons midfield will get a huge test this week with the dominant Oakleigh outfit featuring the likes of Jasmine Fleming and Charlotte Taylor among the standout players. Lily Hart and Charlotte van der Vlies compete well against taller opponents, whilst Kristen Smith had a debut to remember with 19 touches and four goals last week. Alexandra McCulloch, Erin Woodford and Caitlin Matthews form a reliable over-age trio in defence, and they will face-off against the likes of Pia Staltari and Cameron Millias.

Oakleigh will be favourite in any clash, and they will be here, though the Dragons showed they can create chances, it is just about taking them.

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