Undefeated Metro regions open NAB League Girls Round 3

ANOTHER round of NAB League Girls action is upon us, with four of the scheduled six games set to take place at Highgate Recreation Reserve – including an all-country triple-header on Sunday. In what promises to be one of the games of the round undefeated Metro sides Eastern Ranges and Sandringham Dragons do battle on Saturday, with the former coming off a bye.

  • Team
  • Eastern Ranges
  • Sandringham Dragons

The giant-slaying Sandringham Dragons will look to extend their two-win streak to three when they welcome Eastern back to the fold on Saturday morning at Kilsyth Recreation Reserve. The Ranges, 1-0 after downing Calder in Round 1, are back on their home deck after a bye as another all-Metro clash awaits.

With the Metro standings seemingly wide open off a small sample size this season, the opportunity presents for either region to take told from the off. In their return, Ranges like Bridget Deed will be keen to get back on the park after a promising game two weeks ago, and the midfield battle should take a few eyes.

Deed is joined by fellow over-ager Isabelle Khoury in the middle, with the likes of Mia Busch and Alyssia Pisano able to rotate through from either end of the ground. For the Dragons, Sofia Hurley has been in sensational touch, with Keely Coyne also looking sharp and Bridie Hipwell impactful in her maiden outing last week.

The depth of the Dragons on each line should serve them well, with Georgia Foran rock solid in defence as the likes of Pia Staltari and Mia Zielinski fire up forward. Watch out for Dragons over-ager Zoe Barbakos after her debut last week, and for the Ranges’ 2003-born talents to provide cool heads.

  • Team
  • Tasmania Devils
  • Oakleigh Chargers

Two sides coming in with perfectly opposite form clash at North Hobart Oval on Saturday afternoon, as hosts Tasmania Devils look to set up a baptism of fire for the Oakleigh Chargers. If last year’s meeting between these teams is anything to go by, we are in for a cracker. Add the context of this season, and it gets even better.

Tasmania suffered a rare home defeat in Round 1 but bounced back well last week with a strong performance against the incoming Western Jets. The Devils will look to take their second Metro scalp on the trot, but things won’t be easy against the reigning premier.

Oakleigh will be breathing fire after last week’s upset loss to Sandringham, especially after such an impressive first-up victory against Northern. The best Chargers are still performing well, namely Jasmine Fleming, Charlotte Taylor, and Lily Hart through a deep midfield, which is backed by a well organised defence.

The Devils will be up against it, but have some ball winning star power to boot in the likes of Claire Ransom and Brooke Barwick. Ransom’s fellow vice-captain Meghan Gaffney is another in good touch who should provide experience in the absence of skipper Jemma Blair, while a few futures will look to provide a lift in exuberance.

  • Team
  • Western Jets
  • Northern Knights

Western and Northern are the final two Metro sides in action this weekend, set to lock horns at Highgate Recreation Reserve on Saturday afternoon, both looking for their first win. The Jets have some run in their legs having entered the fold with a 31-point loss on the Apple Isle last week, and should provide a tough test for the winless Knights.

Northern’s relatively small midfield brigade featured Ava Jordan and Rylie Wilcox last time out, with the likes of Phoebe Nelson and Brooke Plummer providing plenty of running power on the wings. They’ll have their work cut out for them at the contest, given Western’s mix of class and power through the engine room.

While fellow AFLW Academy member Montana Ham got off to a steady start, Charlotte Baskaran kicked off her campaign like a house on fire with 32 touches last week, and will be supported by the inside work of Stephanie Asciak. On the wings, Paige Ryan and Kiera Whiley will provide great match-ups for Northern’s outside guns.

Western ruck Krystal Russell also promises to be a key factor in the midfield battle, and watch for Northern defender Tarrah Delgado to put an arm across Caitlin Sargent, after both players had top games in Round 2. Conversion will be key for either side, as they both have the cattle to get the play on their terms from the source.

  • Team
  • Dandenong Stingrays
  • Bendigo Pioneers

The Dandenong Stingrays’ status as premiership favourites is rising by the game, but Bendigo Pioneers will look to stop that trend in its tracks when the two teams open Sunday’s all-Country triple-header at Highgate Recreation Reserve. Having both displayed their scoring prowess across two rounds, this clash promises some entertainment for the neutral.

The well oiled Dandenong machine has looked increasingly impressive, with depth on each line and scary forward firepower resulting in a combined 184-point winning margin across just two games. Two ‘Rays – Amber Clarke and Charley Ryan – have claimed five-goal hauls, with the likes of Emily Shepherd, Jaide Anthony, and Felicity Crank adding to a super productive mid-forward rotation. When, not if, they get going – look out.

If a Country side was to combat the Stingrays’ might, Bendigo might be it. While not as overtly savage on the scoreboard, the Pios’ average score of 57 points puts them third behind only Dandenong and Murray. A 50-point win over GWV will have the relatively young squad full of confidence, though they will have to be wary not to invite a Stingrays scoring spree with their free flowing style.

Dandenong key defender Mackenzie Eardley may match up on Tegan Williams, though the latter could find herself back in defence depending on how her side starts. The Pios’ futures look bright and have a great opportunity to step up, with Lucia Painter and Lila Keck among the under-agers in dazzling form. Adaptability will be key, so watch for versatile top-ager Octavia Di Donato to play an important role.

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • GWV Rebels

Two teams coming off Round 2 losses will look to rebound as quickly as possible, as the Murray Bushrangers and GWV Rebels go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon. The Bushies were ultra impressive in Round 1 and proved unlucky last time out, while the Rebels started their season with a bang but fell well short of the mark last week.

Murray’s ability to score makes for a dangerous proposition, and while they leaked 10 majors against Bendigo, GWV remains the sole side to keep its opponent scoreless throughout the course of a match this season. Ball movement will be a key factor in this clash, with Murray dangerous out of the middle and GWV potent enough when it creates enough opportunities.

Zarlie Goldsworthy is Murray’s surprise packet no longer, and should provide some headaches for the Rebels’ defence and midfield. Going forward, Keeley Skepper provides plenty of penetration on her left boot, while Zara Hamilton‘s accumulation factor can prove waring, and Cassidy Mailer‘s class is coming to the fore. Up forward, Mindy Quade needs few chances to make her scoreboard impact felt.

The Rebels’ small midfield pairing of skipper Lilli Condon and Tahlia Meier has proven nifty, with former defender Molly Walton providing the size and Paige Scott, the x-factor. The latter accounted for 10 of GWV’s total 12 points last week, and her potential to break games open remains a threat. Coming off an impressive outing last week, Jamie-Lee Speakman also looms as an important figure alongside the reliable Olivia Leonard down back.

  • Team
  • Geelong Falcons
  • Gippsland Power

The Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power are set to see out Round 3 when they face off on Sunday afternoon, closing the curtain on a Country themed triple-header. The Falcons got on the board last week largely off the boot of five-goal hero Elizabeth Dowling, while the Power has struggled to spark in two tough losses thus far.

A well drilled side under 2021 NAB League coach of the year Paul Corrigan, Geelong perhaps showed its potential last week in a win over Murray. The Falcons have winners on each line and some solidity in midfield, with Charlotte Simpson running through there, and Ashleigh Van Loon hopefully getting up for this clash. Newcomer Grace Purcell has also proven a revelation, along with bottom-age defender Johanna Sunderland.

Gippsland has lacked a bit of polish but will always be a difficult side to play against given the tackling pressure and effort the region prides itself on. The Power will again be without Yasmin Duursma after she missed last week as well, leaving the likes of Sunday Brisbane and Alisha Molesworth to lead the line. In a futures sense, the Power will be better for this season given the form of Ella Stoddart and Ash Centra thus far.

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