Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League Girls – Round 2

ROUND 2 of the 2022 NAB League Girls season played host to record breaking scores, a couple of thrillers, and a grand upheaval of the reigning premier. There were plenty of top individual performances along the way, which we outline in our second Scouting Notes edition for the year.

Note: All comments are opinion of the individual author.

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • Geelong Falcons

By: Peter Williams

Murray Bushrangers:

#1 Olivia Cicolini

The dangerous forward remained active despite not hitting the scoreboard. Cicolini donned a helmet in the opening term, then took it off at the first break, and produced a solid effort across the four quarters. Though she had an early running shot on goal that drifted to the right, Cicolini’s pressure (six tackles) and ability to lead and create space caught the eye. She set up a terrific set shot to Mindy Quade with a lace out kick.

#4 Cassidy Mailer

Clean, classy and damaging, Mailer was superb throughout the four quarters. The talented utility was everywhere on the day, building on a good Round 1 with an even better Round 2. Mailer’s footy IQ, clean hands and pinpoint passing when given time and space was eye-catching. Though she was under pressure often in Round 1, she was able to gain a bit more separation on the weekend, and when she runs she generally makes the right decisions and is strong for her size. In the third term, Mailer kicked a brilliant goal midway through, and put together a four-quarter effort.

#5 Zarlie Goldsworthy

A highlight-filled performance from the second-gamer who backed up her outstanding Round 1 game with another best-on effort for her side, particularly across the first three quarters. Goldsworthy kicked Murray’s first major of the day by reading the ball drop perfectly inside 50, sliding in to mark and converting the set shot. She then provided the goal of the day with a perfectly timed run through the stoppage, pushing off her opponent, fending off a second, getting onto her right side and slamming it home. Goldsworthy set up a third goal with another burst out of the stoppage, fending off a couple of opponents and hitting up a teammate to put the Bushrangers 14 points up in the third term. Her defensive and offensive traits are outstanding, laying 10 tackles to go with her 27 disposals and two goals. The one area of improvement where she can elevate her game is her cleanliness at ground level, because her hands at stoppages and in the air are great, it is just about controlling the ground balls.

#9 Zara Hamilton

The hard-running accumulator played another consistent four quarter game and did what she usually does so well. She covered the ground with ease, won plenty of touches and was able to break the lines and create transitional running down the line. Though her kicking can still be sharpened up, Hamilton is getting to the right spots and able to continually get involved throughout the match.

#17 Keeley Skepper

Stepping up with a more influential performance than in Round 1, Skepper’s ability to weight more of her kicks this game was noticeable, able to hit Cicolini and Quade inside 50 to good effect. She had a flying shot on goal just before the half-time siren but it went out on the full, though her work across the ground was impressive. Her ability to win the ball in defence or attack and set up her teammates was strong, and she was able to burst away from stoppages onto her trusty left side.

#24 Madison Gray

The Bushrangers co-captain took the game on and provided plenty of run along the wing and getting back to support the defence. She had a brilliant play midway through the third term with a spoil and then follow-up tackle on the wing. She looked to break the lines with her ball movement, and her hands were more often than not clean when given the chance.

#27 Tayissa Gray

One of the Bushrangers’ best alongside Goldsworthy and Mailer, Gray was able to consistently take the game on and rebound out of the back 50. She finished the match with a game-high seven inside 50s, and had a real run-and-gun method of transition. She racked up 17 touches and took a couple of marks. She also took a flying shot on goal in the final term, but that went out on the full. Overall it was an eye-catching performance with her work out of defence.

#32 Mindy Quade

The defender-turned-forward had an imposing game inside 50, far too strong for her opponent. Possessing the smarts to time her leads well, Quade’s strength one-on-one and on the lead, as well as he long, penetrating kick helped her finish the match with four goals. Playing as the traditional deep forward, Quade played the role expected of her, taking five grabs from 10 touches and almost kicking a fifth goal form a set shot, but generally being reliable when having her chances.

Zara Hamilton
Murray’s Zara Hamilton racked up plenty of possessions

Geelong Falcons:

#5 Elizabeth Dowling

Best on ground and the match-winner, Dowling could not have done any more than she did, slamming home five of her side’s eight goals, and creating space and setting up teammates. She also found plenty of the ball, moving into the midfield in the final term, eventually finishing with 24 disposals, five marks and five tackles as well. Though a lot of her goals came from one-on-one situations, able to read the ball quicker when going inside 50 to pounce and get on the left boot, Dowling kicked the match-winner out of nothing against three Bushrangers defenders to bounce home. She set up Charlotte Simpson for a goal in the third term, and was the powerhouse target up forward for the Falcons.

#9 Ash Van Loon

Unfortunately the Vic Country hub representative’s day ended early, going down with a knee injury in the first term. It was worth mentioning her for these notes as she had an outstanding first quarter and was arguably best on ground in that time. Her quick hands and clean disposal lead her to pick up six touches in the quarter, before being taken off and not risked for the rest of the game.

#10 Grace Purcell

After a quiet start to the game, Purcell bobbed up as the game went on, having a starring role in the final term. She was not as efficient kicking for goal with three behinds, but showcased her strength overhead and forward craft. Moving into the midfield she was able to win her fair share of the ball, then going forward she lead to the right areas and was able to have a few chances, such as a quick snap late, as well as a set shot from 35m which unfortunately both missed. Though a lot of her touches game later in the game through the midfield, Purcell showcased her versatility to go forward.

#19 Johanna Sunderland

Produced another strong game in defence in her second match for the Falcons. She possesses a lovely long kick, able to hit up teammates outside 50 when either intercepting and rebounding, or kicking out from an opposition behind. She reads the ball well in flight and is able to position herself well, though was outmuscled by Quade when opposed to her in one-on-one contests. Sunderland was able to use the ball well under pressure, and kick long to ease that pressure, running all day long.

#29 Mia Van Dyke

After missing last week, Van Dyke came into the side and provided some big moments. She was able to win an early intercept to lock the ball up inside defensive 50, and then pushed up the ground to win some touches on the wing and then had a late shot that unfortunately flew out on the full. Though not the most influential game of her NAB League career, Van Dyke was still able to provide a link in the chain and finished with 12 touches, two marks and three inside 50s.

#39 Keeley Hardingham

The dominant ruck on the ground, the Falcons’ over-ager used her experience to full effect. She won 23 hitouts against her more inexperienced opponents, but it was her work at ground level that stood out. She laid five tackles and provided a target around the ground, often winning the ball and bombing it long. Her contested work and ground level pressure was very good for a taller player and she provided that option across the ground to win 15 touches for the match.

#44 Charlotte Simpson

It was a typical Simpson game in the sense that she was hard at it from the get-go and plowed in to win her share of contested ball. She was able to spread around the ground and even spend some time forward, but it was no surprise to see the number 44 among the top tacklers on the ground with six. She stepped up with the loss of Van Loon after quarter time, and even kicked a goal off a Dowling handball to deliver on the run. When Dowling moved into midfield, Simpson went forward to be that stronger-bodied target in the last term.

Charlotte Simpson
Charlotte Simpson dug in for the Falcons

  • Team
  • Bendigo Pioneers
  • GWV Rebels

By: Peter Williams

Bendigo Pioneers:

#1 Lila Keck

The standout Pioneer across four quarters, the bottom-age Vic Country hub member showed her class and balance between offensive and defensive impact. She amassed a team-high 23 disposals and five marks, and an equal team-high two goals. Keck’s ability to spread from the stoppage and then get forward to hit the scoreboard is memorable, and her clean hands and decision making very impressive. She is able to pinpoint passes with short kicks, and packs a punch, laying a massive 10 tackles on the day. Overall she has already progressed well from her Under 16s year, and looks to be a standout player as a bottom-ager this season.

#3 Octavia Di Donato

In a similar performance to Round 1, but with lifted consistency, Di Donato showed her class in moments across the ground. Her ability to read the play, intercept and take off from half-back, or to run along a win when in midfield, helps her impact a contest in multiple ways. She laid six tackles and was able to balance her ball-winning skills in all thirds of the ground. Once she has time and space, she is able to drill passes to teammates with ease, and just makes great decisions with ball-in-hand. Not an enormous ball-winner compared to some, but is highly effective.

#5 Lucia Painter

The Under 16s talent had another big game backing up her Round 1 performance with a superb Round 2 effort. She kicked a terrific goal in the second term after a strong first quarter, rotating midfield then forward. She takes the game on and attacks the contest hard, racking up five tackles to go with her 21 disposals. Painter presents as a handball receive option, and has a lovely long kick going forward. At one point she looked to almost have the play of the day, taking a few bounces but then went for a bit too much, fumbled and was tackled.

#10 Keely Fullerton

Another bottom-age prospect, the pocket rocket was lively throughout the game, not afraid to run and take it on. She had a good run inside 50 and is a high-volume kick-to-handball player with 17 of her 18 disposals coming by foot. Still a raw talent at times, she just seemed to pop up when required, and importantly she laid seven tackles, not afraid to make her presence felt. In the second quarter she had a brilliant run, evaded a couple of opponents looked to kick, then readjusted and kicked a great goal on the run. The next clearance she burst away from the stoppage and kicked inside 50. One to watch for next year.

#20 Scarlett Orritt

A defensively-minded performance from the midfielder whose tackles shaded her disposals (13-12). She was fierce around the ball, burrowing in and trying to win the ball for her team. Though often playing more of a team role, Orritt still had five inside 50s and was able to set up some potential goal scoring opportunities when going forward.

#30 Emma Gilligan

Coming into the side for the first time this year after missing Round 1, Gilligan made an impact in what was an impressive, but somewhat unrewarding performance. She was very good, nailing two goals, but easily could have had four, missing one from about 15m out with the breeze heavily blowing it away. Her long kick is technically sound, and she kicked her first goal on the run as she was pushed over. After a quieter first half by comparison, Gilligan came alive in the second half.

#32 Tia Davidge

There were some almost moments for the hard runner, who looked to take on the world at one point in the second term. She took a couple of bounces, evaded some, but went one too many and was mowed down. Though she should have disposed of it early, her effort was there, and she was willing to take the game on. Though not consistently impacting the game, Davidge still had her eye-catching moments, and once that evens out, then the top-ager could do some damage forward of centre.

Octavia Di Donato
Octavia Di Donato was classy in her side’s win

GWV Rebels:

#1 Lilli Condon

The GWV Rebels captain had another consistent performance, clearly best afield for the visitors in what was a tough loss. Condon racked up the ball with ease across the ground, and was often having to work hard defensively to win it inside the back 50. She finished with team-highs in disposals (29), tackles (eight) and rebound 50s (nine) in what was a really consistent four-quarter effort. One would expect nothing less from Condon who has such a high work rate, and she dug deep despite the mounting momentum against her side.

#5 Paige Scott

Had an inconsistent performance after a solid Round 1 outing, kicking 1.4 from 13 disposals. Scott looked lively in the first term with a great goal off a couple of steps from the top of 50, and looked to be in for a big day. But as the Pioneers took control, Scott could not have the same impact for the next two quarters, except for when she pushed into the midfield. The talented AFLW Academy member came out with some higher intensity in the final term, and whilst she missed a couple of chances on goal, her strength and determination had lifted, and she finished strongly.

#11 Olivia Leonard

Another hard-working performance in the defence, Leonard did her job where she could. She picked up 11 disposals, had five rebound 50s and laid six tackles, and was a reason why the Pioneers did not score more goals, particularly early on. Though overwhelmed eventually, Leonard was certainly a critical member of the Rebels backline this season.

#22 Molly Walton

Walton’s second game in midfield was another step up from her first, picking up 17 disposals, and running both ways. She knows where to go to win the ball and positions herself well, and whilst she is still picking up some tricks when it comes to midfield craft, Walton has the defensive mindset downpat and is generally a consistent user of the ball even when under pressure.

#24 Jamie-Lee Speakman

Another Rebels talent who stepped up from a solid Round 1 game to be another key player in Round 2. Amassing 17 disposals and five rebound 50s, Speakman was an anchor deep in defence, often tasked with kicking the ball long and clear. She worked hard one-on-one in quite often tough situations, but could hold her head high after that performance, but a consistent player throughout the match.

Molly Walton
Molly Walton is thriving in a new role for GWV

  • Team
  • Gippsland Power
  • Dandenong Stingrays

By: Declan Reeve

Gippsland Power:

#1 Sunday Brisbane

Brisbane played the type of game that onlookers have come to expect, making an impact throughout with her ferocious hunt on the ball, seeing her drawn into a more contested style of play than she usually does. Brisbane was typically efficient with the ball when out in space, kicking well to teammates in the best areas she could get to, and looking quick and sharp with her hands in close. 

#16 Ash Centra

Playing a game that was the definition of ‘stats didn’t reflect impact’ Centra was pivotal to a few of Gippsland’s promising plays throughout the game, including their first goal in the fourth quarter where she took a mark on the forward flank and delivered well by foot for a teammate to mark. That brilliant delivery by foot was a constant through the game, with Centra’s technique near flawless but her placement occasionally letting her down. Centra’s work rate shone through when she was trying to follow up her own work, pushing hard to get the ball back once she had gotten rid of it, and often driving the ball 60 or more meters with just a two disposals. Her composure was excellent throughout, best highlighted when she remained calm in a two-on-one in the defensive 50 and nailed a kick to a teammate on the defensive 50.

#19 Ella Stoddart

Despite being just 15-years-old, Stoddart looked one of the most natural and experienced footballers on the field, with her composure and ball use in the defensive half catching the eye of everyone at the ground. Stoddart’s positioning in defensive 50 and when moving up the field was superb, putting herself in excellent positions to receive a handball out the side or sweep up a loose ball from the back of a contest, run with ball in hand and kick well out of 50.

#34 Leesa Guastella

In a day where the defensive 50 was as busy as could be, Guastalla was a consistent rock for the Power as the onslaught of inside 50’s continued. Guastalla did well to approach the ball in an uncompromising manner, often putting herself in harm’s way to secure the ball and then kick the ball long out of defense. 

Dandenong Stingrays:

#5 Mackenzie Eardley

It wasn’t easy going early on for Eardley as she was played in the backline for the first three quarters of the game, and outside of pushing up the ground for some intercept marks, she struggled to get too involved as the traffic was mostly one way. Once she was moved forward in the final term, the floodgates opened for Eardley to make her mark on the game, managing three last quarter goals, all in different ways; one coming as she got forward of the ball for an easy mark and goal, another as she lead well for a chest mark about 35 out, and her last one coming from a contested mark on the goal line.

#6 Amber Clarke

Unsurprisingly, Clarke played another brilliant game, continuing her hot start to the 2022 season to nab herself four goals and hand off a few more in an excellent all round display. Once again, Clarke made a habit of letting the ball get out over the top of her and her opponents, and then beating them for speed on the way back towards goal, picking the ball up at pace and putting it through comfortably. As the game went on she started to spend some more time up the ground, where her pace towards the 50 was consistently an asset, but when paired with her ability to pinpoint kicks, and tendency to pass it to teammates from outside 50, it was arguably the most damaging weapon in the final quarter. Clarke once again was accountable defensively, at one stage sprinting from inside the forward 50 up to the wing to apply pressure on an opponent as they disposed of the footy.

#11 Emily Shepherd

Spending more time in the midfield than Round 1, Shepherd’s natural positioning prowess around the ground shone above all others as she managed to get free inside the forward 50 regularly and looked damaging around stoppages with her clearance work. Shepherd’s ball use was at its best, spotting teammates well around the ground by hand and foot, giving them opportunities to keep the Stingrays moving forward. Whilst she was rushed inside 50 early with her shots at goal, from the second quarter onwards Shepherd gave off almost everything in the forward half and set up some goals, but still managed an exceptional one of her own, where she got a handball receive and snapped well from the boundary line as she was pushed.

#14 Felicity Crank

Similar to the previous game, Crank was just consistently in and under around packs and consistently coming out on top when competing for the ball. Crank’s ability to balance herself swiftly when coming up from a contest was impressive, quickly disposing of the ball efficiently once she had steadied herself.

#27 Charley Ryan

After a relatively steady start to the season in Round 1, Ryan came out with a vengeance and played with a scary level of consistency across the four quarters. Ryan seemingly took it upon herself to be the main midfielder for the Stingrays, often commanding the tap with the timing of her runs and positioning, racking up the clearances for fun at stages in the game. Whilst she was consistent with her accumulation in the midfield and quality of disposal, it was her work in the forward 50 that impressed the most as she just knew where to be to get goals. Whether it was getting loose close to goal or engaging in a one-on-one marking contest, Ryan just did everything right to get her opportunities to hit the scoreboard and did so with devastating efficiency. 

#44 Jaide Anthony

Playing a midfield-forward split again, Anthony was impressive with her work rate around the ground and impact in the air, always contesting opponents well and often winning the follow up contest at ground level. Whilst Anthony may not have had the best day on the scoreboard from a stats perspective (1.5), she handed off a lot of her own easy opportunities to teammates, setting up quite a few goals with her selfless play style.

  • Team
  • Tasmania Devils
  • Western Jets

By: Liam Badkin

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Brooke Barwick

Despite lowering her disposal count from her impressive Round 1 showing, the inside midfielder did not have any less impact in the win over the Jets. Her work inside the contest was ruthless as she equalled or won plenty of contests, particularly at ground level. She was able to extract the ball from the congestion and her hands out to teammates seemed to always create a clearance. She was also able to take a strong pack mark at the top of her team’s 50 as she created another scoring opportunity for the Devils.

#9 Claire Ransom

It was a best-on-ground performance from the talented prospect, proving a class above in her team’s triumph. She had a team-high 25 disposals, with many of them coming at the coalface. Her ability to remain on the move at every stoppage resulted in a number of contested possessions and she seemed to be able to avoid any would-be tacklers with some classy evasiveness. Ransom’s hands below her knees are still up there with the best of the league, and truly separated her from her peers. To top it all off, she was able to hit the scoreboard, booting a major on the run from the forward 50 stoppage, despite the lingering body contact. That was the icing on the cake in what was a terrific day for the classy midfielder.

#24 Georgia Clark

In what was a clear improvement on last week’s performance, the forward was extremely impactful of the contest in the forward half of the ground. Her one-on-one work was terrific, plucking down four big marks, despite not always being in ideal position. She racked up 21 disposals and was involved in a large number of her side’s scores. This also resulted in some reward for effort, as she was able to boot two snags herself in what was a day out for the 2005-born talent.

#46 Georgia Alomes

The defender provided some serious run off half-back, particularly in the second half of the match. Alomes was outstanding in working off her opponent whenever she had the opportunity, giving the midfielders an option on the outside of the contest and driving the ball inside-50. Impressively, she did not sacrifice her defensive work, always working back to cover any loose players in a well-rounded performance.

Western Jets:

#1 Charlotte Baskaran

The talented midfielder found more of the ball than anyone else on the weekend, racking up a game-high 32 disposals in a valiant performance. She was always active around the contest as she fought tooth and nail for every possession for her side. Her footy smarts were on display all day, which was highlighted when she cut off an errant opposition kick and drove the ball inside 50 again. Baskaran was also ferocious around the contest, laying a whopping 10 tackles which was the most of anyone on the ground.

#8 Paige Ryan

The talented youngster had quite the impact in the Jets’ first game of the season, providing some much-needed spark for her side. Even when the margin was less than ideal, Ryan was terrific in injecting her side with some run and carry throughout the match as she looked to play on more often than not. She was also able to affect the contest defensively, taking an intercept mark and booting the ball back inside her team’s 50 metre arc.

#27 Caitlin Sargent

The forward quietly had a day out individually, despite the disappointing result for her team. She booted a match-high four snags as she looked to give her side a desperately-needed lift whenever given the opportunity. Whenever the Jets looked to make a run on the scoreboard, Sargent was well and truly involved and was often able to convert some strong team play.

  • Team
  • Calder Cannons
  • Northern Knights

By: Michael Alvaro

Calder Cannons:

#2 Reese Sutton

Her game may have ended slightly early, but Sutton still managed to lead all comers (22 disposals) in an important midfield shift. The Calder co-captain was busy at ground level and displayed desperate intent going both ways; diving on the ball to win it herself, and shutting down opposition mids with tackling pressure. Sutton’s speed allowed her to consistently break clear of stoppage congestion, and she was terrific at the centre bounces during term three, which set the tone for the Cannons’ breakaway.

#3 Abbey McDonald

Playing a role across the backline this time out, McDonald was matched up on dangerous Northern forward Rylie Wilcox and did well to not only cover said defensive base, but also produce some offence on the rebound. McDonald was rarely beaten in one-on-ones both aerially and at ground level, proving physical and imposing with her pressure to help Calder recover possession. She ended up driving right up the ground as the game wore on, registering three inside 50s to go with six rebounds.

#10 Olivia Manfre

The second of Calder’s co-captains, Manfre put up brilliant numbers of 21 disposals, five inside 50s and two goals in what was a solid overall performance. Starting forward, she snared an opportunist goal off the deck in the opening quarter, before lifting when moved on-ball thereafter. Her second major came in term three after reading the flight of the ball well to mark and convert the set shot, and Manfre helped Calder get on top when it mattered with her scoreboard impact.

#16 Tahlia Read

Shifting through a few roles throughout the day, Read started up forward before plying her trade on both sides of midfield. The top-ager worked hard to push up the ground before breaking back towards goal with intent, driving her side towards goal. Many of her best plays came in those instances, but Read also showed good touch by hand and brought others into the game when attacking or moving into space.

#25 Kayley Kavanagh

Slotting straight into the centre bounces on debut, Kavanagh made an impact around the contest with her solid ball winning acumen and ability to dish to runners on the outer. The bottom-ager flicked out 12 handballs among her 19 disposals and added Calder’s lone final quarter goal, having benefitted from a 50-metre penalty.

Northern Knights:

#1 Phoebe Nelson

Making the wing her own, Nelson stepped up for the Knights with her ability to both set up shrewdly behind the ball, and also recover it for her side in defence. Her positioning was outstanding in either sense, but particularly outside the forward 50 where Nelson used her size to clunk several intercept marks. With Northern behind the eight ball from early on, the top-ager also looked to take off quickly whenever she could.

#4 Brooke Plummer

On the opposite wing to Nelson, Plummer showed some real urgency and a hard edge despite her outside role. In what was a seemingly frustrating game for the Knights, Plummer initially looked to patrol space but shifted tact with some hard bumps and tackles when her side needed a lift. For better or worse, she also looked to slow the frantic pace of the game at times, but usually played with purpose and pumped her legs to surge Northern forward.

#14 Ava Jordan

The bottom-ager will have to get used to growing opposition attention over the next two seasons, and Saturday served as a good test for Jordan. She still led her side’s disposal tally (21) and applied herself defensively (nine tackles), looking as sharp as ever in midfield. She was at her nifty best around the ball, bringing it to the outer with exceptional vision and special awareness, before working hard to chain her possessions and demand it back each time. Though outsized, her endeavour was exceptional all day and her smarts more than made up for it once again.

#15 Tarrah Delgado

After a relatively quiet opening outing last week, Delgado took little time to stamp her authority on this contest. With Northern leaking scores early, the over-ager was one of the few Knights defenders who consistently won each contest she made and did so with astute positioning. Her timing on intercept marks and spoils was terrific, and Delgado also looked to move the ball on with composure on the rebound. She also laid a massive lunging tackle in the second half and plucked a nice speccy over the back during term four, with her seven marks and eight rebound 50s telling the story of her game.

#37 Rylie Wilcox

While 17 disposals, six marks and five tackles are hardly numbers to scoff at, Wilcox’s numbers do not quite do justice to her impact. The zippy small started in her usual high half-forward role and steadily worked into the game, leaning on her incredible work rate to lift the Knights. Her effort could not be faulted, with running shepherds on bigger opponents, diving smothers, and tough inside work complimenting her usually slick movement with the ball. Wilcox was eventually moved up onto the wing and even on-ball, proving a real leader for the Knights in each role through action.

  • Team
  • Sandringham Dragons
  • Oakleigh Chargers

By: Declan Reeve

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Keely Coyne

Coyne enjoyed a more inside focused role for the game, standing next to Oakleigh’s Jasmine Fleming for many of the early stoppages and doing well to keep her accountable both offensively and defensively. Coyne’s ability to balance her approach to winning the ball was a big part of Sandringham’s play around the ground, equally as confident with winning it in close as she was holding space and receiving a releasing handball. As the game wore on and the pressure increased, Coyne stayed composed and consistent with her disposal, keeping her hands free through traffic and pinpointing her disposals, hitting some crucial kicks later in the piece to help keep Sandringham in front.

#6 Zoe Barbakos

An electrifying forward half presence, the over-aged Barbakos was arguably the spark in the final quarter that kept Sandringham in the game when Oakleigh was fighting back hard. With her pace and evasiveness, she proved a handful for the Oakleigh defenders to keep a hold of, regularly getting around opponents without much issue. Barbakos was aggressive at the ball carrier as well out of possession, constantly chasing and applying pressure when called upon, always taking her opponents to ground when she caught them. 

#10 Bridie Hipwell

Playing her first game for the year, Hipwell look ominous in a more forward orientated role than she played last season, used as a regular link up player between the defensive half and forward 50. There, her marking proficiency and leap shone through and caused Oakleigh headaches with her ability to hold contested marks. Hipwell was just as proficient and ground level, able to win the ball at pace and quickly change direction or power away and get rid of ball. She was also defensively focused in her game when she didn’t have possession, working hard to apply pressure and smother opponents’ kicks around the ground, A noticeable improvement in her game was the reduced amount of times she was getting caught in tackles in congestion, seemingly playing more direct and breaking away from opponents rather than trying to evade constantly.

#15 Sofia Hurley

Unsurprisingly, Hurley led all comers for disposals, with her smarts around the ground assisting in her high level of accumulation. Whilst early on she looked a little rushed due to the high pressure around the contest, she quickly adjusted and found ways to get separation on opponents into space to steady up her disposal and hit some really impactful kicks going forward. Hurley positioned well throughout the game, generally putting herself behind the ball to sweep up on any loose kicks out the back and offer her own drive going forward when transitioning. Hurley’s constant commitment to pressuring and tackling opponents was impressive and caused plenty of turnovers throughout the game. Even if she wasn’t quite getting the level of reward the tackles deserved, she never wavered in her approach.

#18 Georgia Foran

Enjoying another week playing a key role in the defensive half, Foran looked improved on the prior round’s performance, pushing up the ground more to intercept the ball higher, and maintaining pressure on the Oakleigh backline constantly. Foran’s kicking was also more damaging against Oakleigh, not just getting distance on her kicks but putting them into advantageous spots for teammates to continue the threat of quick transition. Foran had a few key contested marks through the game, demonstrating her one-on-one ability well. 

#63 Mia Zielinski

The bottom-aged forward impressed in the second half where her constant movement inside 50 and repeated hard leading efforts made it nearly impossible for her opponents to stick to her, getting free and taking marks out in front inside 50 easily. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite her day in front of the big sticks, getting four behinds before she could get a major, the last for Sandringham on its way to victory.

Bridie Hipwell
Bridie Hipwell showed promise in her first game for 2022

Oakleigh Chargers:

#1 Lily Hart

Whilst it took the midfielder a little bit of time to work into the game, her second half was a strong display of her outstanding ball use and smarts around the contest, earning four free kicks through getting to the ball first and being taken high. It was Hart’s kicking going forward that was most impressive, spotting out teammates well on the top of the 50 after winning possession in the middle of the ground.

#4 Alexandra McCulloch

The returning over-ager put in a solid shift in the defensive half for the Chargers, bringing what she brought all of last season with her run and carry on the rebound, and intercepting prowess in the air and at ground level. McCulloch was unrelenting all game, consistently running the ball forward when she had it, but balancing that well with her defensive duties and desire to assist teammates in contests.

#7 Charlotte Taylor

Continuing to look aggressive around stoppages, Taylor didn’t back down from any contest put in front of her, actively looking to engage physical contact to use her strength and power to her advantage around the ground. Whilst occasionally unpolished with her disposal, Taylor was constantly putting the ball into dangerous areas when she disposed of it with her long kicking. In close, Taylor’s hands were precise, often happy to take contact to hold the ball that extra second longer and give her teammates the best opportunity to break away, or even breaking free from congestion with her acceleration. Taylor seemed to work at pace for most of the game, hitting marking contests and the ball at speed, and generally coming out on top.

#10 Jasmine Fleming

It’s probably worth getting used to Fleming putting in outstanding efforts each week, as she managed to come out of the game as a pretty unanimous best-on despite the loss. Fleming’s speed and evasiveness around the ground are unmatched, as she’d often win the ball before immediately bursting away and evading opposition players trying to take her down, then hitting her targets well by foot, able to place the ball straight onto teammates’ chests with ease. Fleming worked hard to assist her defenders, often holding out of a contest to receive a handball and move the ball on efficiently herself. What stands out the most with Fleming over other players is her commitment to following up her efforts, there wasn’t a single time she gave the ball off via hand, or kicked to a target outside of the 50 and didn’t run past in an effort to get the ball back.

Charlotte Taylor
Charlotte Taylor was again impressive for Oakleigh

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