Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League Girls – Round 3

ROUND 3 of the 2022 NAB League Girls season saw four games played at Highgate Recreation Reserve, with a Country themed triple-header allowing for a scintillating showcase of regional talent. 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
  • Eastern Ranges
  • Sandringham Dragons

By: Declan Reeve

Eastern Ranges:

#9 Mia Busch 

Whilst Busch didn’t get the midfield opportunities she did in Round 1, she was still influential with her aggressive ball use, as well as run and carry out of the defensive half. She played with a level of confidence that saw her set up some key plays for Eastern in the second half of the game. Busch’s use by foot has always been a standout, but it was most impressive to see her make those pinpoint kicks under pressure, demonstrating her composure and decision making.

#15 Bridget Deed

Another dominant game from the Eastern over-ager had her as a constant threat through the game, doing all of the things we’ve become accustomed to seeing well with her contested game offering Eastern a big point of difference through the game. Deed once again demonstrated her kicking skills over short to medium distances, managing to hit targets with majority of her kicks well, even under pressure, paired with her accumulation and ability to get in the right spots for marks, making her a standout on the day. 

#16 Isabelle Khoury

Another Eastern over-ager that stood out, particularly when Eastern fought back in the final term, Khoury was electric around stoppages and through congestion with her speed and agility proving too much for Sandringham to handle at times. Khoury was impressive when she was stationed on the forward flank as well, proving her worth as a dual position player by managing to still impact the game just as heavily. Despite being stationed in the forward half a lot, Khoury pushed hard down the ground to impact in the defensive 50, laying a few key tackles to ease the pressure on her defenders.

#17 Georgia Wilson

The opportunistic forward was on fire all game, kicking the opening goal of the game after playing on from a free kick and not slowing down from there. Wilson was strong at ground level and just knew where to be to get the ball off hands, roaming around the front of packs well and reacting quicker than her opponents. It wasn’t just Wilson’s offensive game that stood out, she was consistent in her application of forward half pressure, getting a goal from one of her tackling efforts.

#43 Mia Austin

The draft-eligible tall had a day to remember, proving herself to be a natural forward and ruck through the game. Austin’s work in the forward line showed her impressive athletic traits, beating opponents with her burst speed on the lead and quick reaction time inside 50 giving her two of her goals. She proved late in the piece she’s a difficult match up deep inside 50, with her work below her knees for a taller player superb and her quick hands just as dangerous, giving her the opportunity to beat an opponent to the ball, dodge the tackle and quickly hand off to a teammate for one Eastern’s final quarter goals.

Sandringham Dragons:

#2 Keely Coyne

Despite coming up against a more physical and experienced midfield, Coyne was one that stepped up well to the challenge, continuing to show her composure through traffic and bravery in her hunt for the ball. Whilst she had trouble at stages with the tackling pressure of Eastern, she adjusted quickly and started moving the ball on quicker with deadly precision. Coyne’s delivery inside 50 was a particular highlight, able to balance her kicks between putting it straight to a teammate or putting it in front for them to run onto

#10 Bridie Hipwell

The athletic forward had some flashes of brilliance through the game, highlighting her read of the ball and use by foot throughout. Whilst not afforded as many midfield opportunities as she has been previously, she still found her way up the ground, winning the ball at ground level and moving through traffic or tackles, then bursting away with speed to give herself less pressure to dispose of the ball.

#15 Sofia Hurley

Whilst Hurley found it tougher to play her standard game early on, she adjusted well quickly to get back to her ball winning best, with her movement through traffic and speed away from opponents a heavily leaned on weapon for the match. It was particularly promising to see Hurley start to apply herself more to contested ball winning as the game drew on, growing confidence and backing herself more and more as it went on.

#18 Georgia Foran

Somewhat of a ‘safety net’ in the opening rounds, Foran continued to prove her accountability in the defensive 50 and was one that really stood up in the final quarter when Eastern were coming with more intensity and speed. Once again Foran’s strength in the air and in one-on-one contests stopped multiple promising opportunities for Eastern, where she’d follow up with a long kick out of the backline.

#63 Mia Zielinski

Zielinski proved a handful for Eastern despite the loss, seemingly having a hand to play in all of Sandringham’s forward 50 highlights. It was the bottom agers dynamic approach to the game which cause Eastern so many headaches, looking like a danger in the air and at ground level she looked unbeatable one-on-one, ending the game with three majors to show for this, despite the opportunity to kick a few more.

  • Team
  • Tasmania Devils
  • Oakleigh Chargers

By: Michael Alvaro

Tasmania Devils:

#1 Brooke Barwick

The tough bottom-ager cracked in hard for Tasmania, defying her size to have a real impact around the ball once again. She was clean and crafty and the stoppages, digging in at ground level before showcasing a swift step to dart through opponents and manufacture a way to the outer. Barwick’s ability to hit the deck and spring up quickly made her difficult to pin down, and she threw herself into plenty of contested situations – even a marking contest which she won on the juggle. When Tasmania was right in with a chance, Barwick was a big part of that.

#7 Meghan Gaffney

Stationed out in her usual wing post, the hard running Gaffney could not be faulted for effort on what was a tough day for outside types. The over-ager got involved at the coalface and looked to pump her legs into space whenever the opportunity presented. Her kicking was a touch awkward on the run, but Gaffney’s ability to accumulate and surge the ball forward helped open up what was a high pressure, high contest kind of game.

#9 Claire Ransom

While not overly prolific this time out, Ransom stepped up in the big moments for Tasmania and set a good tone with her two-way exploits. The classy top-ager did all her usual work around the ball, demonstrating sound decision making and great awareness in tight spots to work her way out of trouble. She was clean under the heat of the contest and took a couple of handy marks around the ground, but excelled with her clever work to release the ball out of congestion. One who got better as the game wore on.

#24 Georgia Clark

Another impressive future prospect for Tasmania, Clark adjusted her role to good effect having previously shown signs as a forward. The bottom-ager showcased her aerial ability with a nice mark inside forward 50 as she started in attack, and the resultant set shot made for the game’s first score – a behind. She went on to swing back and had some nice moments in the air, reading the flight of the ball to get hands to it as packs formed. She only registered three marks but could have had more, and did her bit with six tackles and nine hitouts in a solid tall’s outing.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#7 Charlotte Taylor

While she has been trialled at either end of the ground in rotation, Taylor again did her best work in midfield where her size was a key factor in the contested ball stakes. The top-ager was ultra clean in the engine room, proving too strong for each opponent and standing up in several tackles, before dishing off to Oakleigh’s damaging outside runners. She went for a dash herself in the third term, but played such a vital role on the inside and consistently allowed others to do the more flashy things. Another mega game from the in-form midfielder.

#10 Jasmine Fleming

In arguably another best afield performance, Fleming benefitted from the shrewd inside work of others but also put in plenty of hard yards herself. A damaging burst player, Fleming struggled to find space early on but eventually found her groove while also cracking in to win her own ball. She could have been a touch cleaner at ground level, though many were found fumbling on Saturday and Fleming looked much improved in her use by hand. Her streaming forward runs and continual hounding of the forward 50 arc went a long way to Oakleigh eventually breaking down Tassie’s dam wall.

#16 Erin Woodford

Part of Oakleigh’s brigade of solid defenders, particularly in the over-age category, Woodford stood up once more under plenty of pressure. She was tasked with taking the kick-ins and was not afraid to snatch as much meterage as possible before sending a kick forward, in multiple attempts to generate some rebounding momentum. Woodford held a high line and along with the likes of Alexandra McCulloch, helped keep Tasmania at bay in the second half.

#27 Kristen Smith

A player who didn’t necessarily put the stats on the board, but made her opportunities count, Smith’s two goals in the second half were crucial. As she has done in each game, the newcomer always looked likely when the ball was inside 50, presenting high up to the arc and applying valuable tackling pressure. Her reading of the play was terrific for both goals; first latching to a long ball over the back just before three quarter time, and then clunking a solid mark in term four before converting the sealer. An effective and natural forward.

  • Team
  • Western Jets
  • Northern Knights

By: Michael Alvaro

Western Jets:

#1 Charlotte Baskaran

It would be near impossible to overstate just how impressive Baskaran was on the weekend, and the Jets skipper looks to have elevated her game to even loftier heights. She dominated the centre bounces and stoppages, often getting first hands to the ball before immediately wheeling away with a zippy first five steps. On the end of her bursts were sound decisions and well placed kicks, and when she didn’t have as much time or space, Baskaran improvised well by hand. In addition to her work with the ball, the 17-year-old was just as impactful without it as she directed her troops and laid her share of tackles. She also copped some decent knocks and bounced straight back up each time. Toughness and class, our Round 3 Player of the Week did it all.

#11 Stephanie Asciak

She may not be as flashy or dynamic as other in Western’s midfield, but Asciak played an important role in generating some forward momentum from the stoppages. The over-ager looked confident on the ball and backed herself to break away from congestion, slapping away the arms of would-be tacklers and arching her back on the march into attack. It was another solid outing for Asciak, who has also accrued some VFLW experience.

#17 Lou-Lou Field

The Jets have often been associate with young, future talent in the pathway and that theme looks set to continue through the agency of Field. The 15-year-old made her debut in Round 2 and looked comfortable in just her second outing, setting up well across the defence. She laid a great holding the ball tackle in term one and was generally solid in one-on-ones both in the air and at ground level. Field advanced higher up the ground as the game wore on, and was able to penetrate both arcs with a largely kick-first approach.

#27 Caitlin Sargent

Though she started steadily, Sargent came to life in the second term and her commandment of the forward 50 helped Western kick clear in term two. The tall forward benefitted from quick entries, reading the play well to react first and take marks in front of her opponent inside 50. She nabbed consecutive majors in the second quarter and could have had more, but missed from tight angles. Her improved mobility and pressure were also impressive.

#38 Montana Ham

After an 11-disposal effort last week, Ham went about collecting near-on the same amount of ball as quickly as she could within the first half, but was not always effective. She lacked a finishing touch throughout the game – as evidenced by her four behinds – but did all the right things in the lead up and was impressive as ever athletically. The midfield powerhouse got her legs pumping on the outer and was able to drive Western forward consistently, while also showcasing her strong marking ability around the ground. With a bit more polish, it would have been a massive outing.

#50 Krystal Russell

You can almost lock in Russell to win the hitout count before a ball is bounced, and she did so again with a strong effort in the ruck. While not massively prolific, the 180cm top-ager followed up well and was handy below her knees at times, while also showing more confidence to take ground when in possession. In the ruck duels, she faced arguably more athletic opponents but played to her strengths and helped supply her stacked midfield with first use.

Montana Ham is getting back to her best

Northern Knights:

#4 Brooke Plummer

The Knights lost some outside running power this week but could rely on Plummer to assume her role on the wing. The top-ager was made to drop back and help her side get back in possession, but sometimes held the ball up for too long after marking in positions which gave Northern the potential to slingshot. When she started moving on with more urgency, Plummer unleashed some booming kicks and was unlucky not to have snared a goal from two long efforts in the second half.

#14 Ava Jordan

The diminutive bottom-ager could not be faulted for her effort on Saturday. She was absolutely battered several times throughout the match but got back up each time and kept on working hard when her side was well behind the game. Her durability and reliability were on full show, and Jordan’s decision making on the ball helped her get out of some tight spots. She just about played a lone hand in a midfield group which was dominated, and never gave up in her pursuit to string plays together and get Northern moving forward.

#15 Tarrah Delgado

Playing a key role down back once again, Delgado’s positioning and intercept abilities proved crucial to Northern’s cause. She was under the pump for most of the match, but stood tall with great defensive spoils and marks as the ball entered the Knights’ back 50 at a high rate. As an over-ager, her experience came to the fore and she looks comfortable in her blend of strength and smarts on the last line.

#37 Rylie Wilcox

Another of the Knights who never gave in, Wilcox advanced to a more permanent role on the wing on Saturday. The zippy mover got busy from the get-go and applied great pressure on Western’s ball carriers. Her smarts were also on show, drawing opponents when releasing teammates and backing her turn of speed to burn away on the outer. She looked a touch jaded late on, but continued to move the ball on quickly and brought great vigour to the contest.

Tarrah Delgado has been a leader in Northern’s defence

  • Team
  • Dandenong Stingrays
  • Bendigo Pioneers

By: Michael Alvaro

Dandenong Stingrays:

#6 Amber Clarke

Signs were ominous when Clarke took under a minute to boot her first goal, but that would be her lone six-pointer for the day. Sunday was the first time she looked a touch rushed this season, as Bendigo brought the heat and did not allow Clarke to get off the leash with her customary speed. Still, she found a good amount of ball rotating through midfield from up forward, even spent time on the wing in a solid performance.

#11 Emily Shepherd

Shepherd lead the disposal count for Dandenong (25) and had plenty of opportunities to have a say given her side’s attacking prowess. Her ability to find time and space in tight spots was terrific, showcasing a sweet step and good special awareness. Shepherd was also strong when required, absorbing contact and spinning to break away from congestion. She didn’t end up finding the goals, but had a set shot fall to the line and was always on the look for a hand-off inside 50.

#13 Taylah Gatt

Somewhat of a surprise packet on the day, Gatt was ultra productive on the outside with her line-breaking speed. The pace of the game suited her wonderfully well, and Gatt thrived as the ball shifted her way out of the contest where she instantly burned her opponent and snatched valuable metres in quick time. One the end of her forward forays were several inside 50 entries, which gave Dandenong’s forwards every chance to score. She was one who really broke the game open, super impressive.

#27 Charley Ryan

After a monster performance in Round 2, Ryan was again an important part of Dandenong’s midfield-forward combination. Her size proved difficult to combat, and the top-ager was clean when storming through a pack or clunking overhead marks up forward. She didn’t deal as much of a scoreboard toll this time around, but converted a set shot goal in the first term and was dynamic on each line she played.

#44 Jaide Anthony

There’s no denying Anthony’s skill, and she showed once again on Sunday that she is as naturally gifted a footballer as any over-ager in the country. Starting in midfield, she got her hands on the contested ball early and looked to burst away, but arguably had her biggest impact up forward. She had a happy knack of finding plenty of space inside 50 and timed her leads well, while also snaring scores from smart work in open play closer to goal. She ended up with three majors in the second half and finished with aplomb on each occasion.

Amber Clarke attempts to break with the ball

Bendigo Pioneers:

#1 Lila Keck

One of Bendigo’s many under-age prospects to watch, Keck was super productive in the early stages and proved a slippery customer in midfield. She rotated forward and booted a goal in the first term, working high up the ground and racking up a good amount of ball. While she did not always have the strength to break tackles and get clean kicks away, Keck managed to shrug, duck and weave on many other occasions as she spent more time in midfield.

#3 Octavia Di Donato

Arguably the Pioneers’ standout top-ager, Di Donato racked up a season-high disposal tally but did so in a more unassuming way. She looked classy with each possession, absorbing contact if necessary and taking her time to find the right option in even the tightest of spots. Her ability to step into space and be clean with each touch proved important, and Di Donato also displayed her leadership with some commanding voice from the bench.

#5 Lucia Painter

Even in a losing side, it was hard to look past Painter as one of the best afield. The 2006-born prospect looks a readymade figure already, with her power at the contest and willingness to straightline the ball making for eye-catching passages. Painter was not always clean below her knees, but looked so smooth when gathering off the deck at speed, proving hard to stop in full flight. Her booming kick was also effective and suited the flow of the game well, allowing Bendigo to fight Dandenong blow-for-blow. Add two very impressive goals to the mix, and this was a game to remember.

#15 Drew Ryan

The midfield accumulator racked up a good amount of ball early, helping test Dandenong’s stacked midfield alongside the likes of Di Donato, Painter and Keck. Ryan registered Bendigo’s first score with a snap and was busy from the get-go, playing an important role on-ball and proving a reliable over-age figure in what is a relatively young side. Her mark in centre square during the third term was one of her highlights, and a point of difference from her usual work.

Lila Keck was difficult to pin down on Sunday

  • Team
  • Murray Bushrangers
  • GWV Rebels

By: Declan Reeve

Murray Bushrangers: 

#2 Cassidy Mailer

Mailer showed flashes of brilliance through the game, with her quick use by hand and willingness to take the game on with her run and carry, providing Murray with plenty of quick plays heading forward. Mailer looked at her best running onto the ball from behind, timing her runs well to hit the ball at speed and break away from opponents.

#5 Zarlie Goldsworthy

Providing a spark not many others in the league can, Goldsworthy was once again a consistent danger around the ground, whether it was winning a contested clearance, breaking free up forward for a mark, or just out running an opponent one-on-one, there was very few times she wasn’t a threat. Goldsworthy’s ball use was a standout in the game, with superb kicking technique there were very few times where the ball didn’t hit a target pinpoint on the chest, with one such kick setting up the final goal for Murray after she earned a 50 meter penalty from half-back. Goldsworthy’s read of the ball around the ground was another weapon that was hard for opponents to match, timing her runs well to get out in front for a mark, or burst away from an opponent to kick well forward.

#9 Zara Hamilton

Just seemed to be two of her out there all game, with her gut running and positioning allowing her to collect the ball, whether in tight or from a handball receive, constantly. Whilst not always hitting a target with her disposals, her use by hand in tight was impressive at times and her run and carry saw her be a key part of Murray’s highlight plays.

#22 Grace Hay

In her first game for the year, Hay quickly reminded everyone of her quality as a key defender, with her positioning and marking proving too much for the Rebels to break past early, pushing up the ground at times to intercept high up, and then use the ball aggressively going forward with a few centring kicks.

#24 Madison Gray

Truly played a game that stats don’t do justice to, despite not winning a whole heap of the ball Gray was ferocious all game and impacted for a lot of Murray’s key plays. Splitting her time between half back and midfield, Gray’s aggressive hunt of the ball and ball carrier put an immense amount of pressure on her opponents and caused a lot of turn overs. When she did win the ball, Gray looked confident with her run and carry, as well as delivery, using the ball aggressively as she often looked to use the corridor option.

Grace Hay impressed in her first appearance for 2022

GWV Rebels:

#11 Olivia Leonard

Leonard was a rock in defense for the game, but her first quarter is what stands out above all where she single handedly stopped two Murray goals with her positioning and work rate, with one goal being a run down tackle on an opponent who was running straight into an open goal. Leonard’s positioning and intercepting were strong points of her game, pushing off her opponent confidently to impact other contests in the defensive 50, where she’d follow up with solid and safe ball use

#22 Molly Walton

Continuing her role in the midfield, Walton was an impressive ball winner and user for the Rebels, managing to impact up forward with the opening goal of the game, and down back where she’d often push back hard to assist with some pressure or intercepting. As the game drew on, she seemed to spend more time in defense, looking comfortable meeting the ball higher up in the defensive half and then delivering well forward

#24 Jamie-Lee Speakman

The reliable defender was unbeatable all game, consistently winning her one-on-ones and following up with her usual safe ball use, what was most impressive about Speakman’s game was how she grew in confidence and started to use the ball more aggressively going forward. Once Speakman started doing this, the Rebels immediately looked more dangerous, with her positioning and marking the defensive 50 outstanding, she had plenty of opportunities to kick start some drive out of the back line.

Olivia Leonard proved reliable in defence

  • Team
  • Geelong Falcons
  • Gippsland Power

By: Peter Williams

Geelong Falcons:

#5 Elizabeth Dowling

The powerful forward had another day out, and was particularly lively early, with the goals coming thick and fast at Highgate Recreation Reserve. She missed an early chance on goal, but did not miss too many more as she kicked another big bag to the point where the stats were losing track if she had kicked four or five. Though she did not add to her total in the final term, she handed one off to a teammate and continued to present up the ground. Overall she was again a dominant force one-on-one, and will be a player surely set to step up to VFLW to test herself against stronger opponents.

#8 Mekah Morrissy

The Under 16s talent is an eye-catcher usually found running along a wing and creating some nice dash for her side. She wins enough of the ball, particularly for her age, and generally is able to use it quickly and cleanly. Though still young and has some areas to work on such as consistency, she has some really nice traits that will hold her in good stead over the next couple of years.

#10 Grace Purcell

Another strong game from the talented midfielder who hit the scoreboard by running into an open goal early. Though again she hit her fair share of behinds – 1.2 overall – she amassed plenty of ball in close and on the outside, finding that nice balance. In a side missing its best inside midfielder, Purcell stepped up to the plate, laying five tackles and pumping the ball inside 50 four times, whilst winning more disposals than any other player on the ground (23).

#26 Analea McKee

The 183cm forward is making some waves for her performances thus far, and though she did not hit the scoreboard in her opening two games, she capitalised in Round 3 with a big bag against Gippsland. McKee could easily have had half a dozen or so if everything went her way, but it was more the manner at which she controlled the forward 50 and pulled down some big grabs. She is naturally able to dominate smaller opponents one-on-one, but she has a leap that can also win it aerially without having to engage in a wrestle. Though she can play through the ruck or down back, McKee looks more damaging as a key forward and is one to keep an eye on as an over-ager this year.

#44 Charlotte Simpson

Considering Simpson spent time off the ground looking a bit sore, she still managed to rack up another 21 disposals in her best effort yet. Few can match the number 44’s consistency throughout each and every game, and you know exactly what you are going to get from her. Another strong effort on the inside and is good for a goal a game, Simpson was again a prominent ball-winner when on the field and is a reliable contested player.

Mekah Morrissy continues to show promise

Gippsland Power:

#5 Yasmin Duursma

Returned to the side after a week off and did some nice things without having the time or space to be as dominant as she could be. Her hands are clean on the inside, but she was only able to manage the four kicks, credit to the Falcons on-ball brigade. Trying hard throughout the contest, she would pop up at stoppages with some quick-fire handballs, but was overall outmuscled against stronger opponents.

#16 Ash Centra

Gippsland has had some incredibly promising players as Under 16 talents coming through in their first seasons, but at 173cm and capable of playing any role, Centra might just be the most promising yet. Three games in and the birthday girl – she turned 16 on gameday – put on a show with (fittingly) 16 touches, as well as five marks, four inside 50s and 2.2. Her marking is just so clean and her timing of leaps, and technical skill great. Though she missed a couple of chances, her goals were equally as eye-catching, intercepting one early and running into an open goal to put it straight over the umpire’s head. Then came a ridiculous contested mark and set shot goal from 40m out to complete the day.

#19 Ella Stoddart

The talented defender only turned 15 last week, and is already fitting into defence with ease the last fortnight. She has amassed back-to-back games of 20-plus disposals and averaging 8.5 rebound 50s from those games, though it does mostly come from the kickouts. In saying that, trusting a 15-year-old with the kickout duties says a lot about the faith the Power have in Stoddart, and with what she is showing already, it is going to be an exciting few years as she develops.

#20 Indiana Makai

One of the top-age talents at the Power, Makai’s big moment came with a nice goal from the pocket which got her teammates up and about. She had a pretty solid game all-round and was one of Gippsland’s better players, continuing her consistent season. She can win the ball in close or on the outside and pump it long, giving her teammates a chance to apply scoreboard pressure.

Indiana Makai gets a kick away

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