Devils hit the road for first Vic trip
ALL Round 4 NAB League Girls games begin within two hours of each other in a super Saturday of action. Tasmania Devils hit the road – and the air – for the first time in 2022, travelling out of the Apple Isle to clash with Bendigo Pioneers at Highgate Recreation Reserve. With games in Ballarat, Gippsland, Dandenong and Geelong, the Country regions are certainly well represented, whilst Northern Knights are hosting a game where they train at Parade College against Eastern Ranges.
In Round 4, Sandringham Dragons will have the bye, whilst Geelong Falcons host Oakleigh Chargers, Dandenong Stingrays tackle Murray Bushrangers, Gippsland Power welcome Calder Cannons, and GWV Rebels take on Western Jets.
Saturday, February 12 @ 11:00am
The first cab off the rank tomorrow is the clash between the Rebels and Jets, with the Rebels looking to bounce back from consecutive losses, and the Jets hoping to make it two wins on the trot. After defeating the Gippsland Power in Round 1, the Rebels have suffered defeats at the hands of Bendigo Pioneers and Murray Bushrangers, though were right in the contest to the final siren against the latter last week. Now back at home, they hope to make the most of the open Mars Stadium surroundings to knock off the Jets who were well beaten by Tasmania Devils in Round 2, before bouncing back against Northern Knights last week.
Both midfields are quite experienced with the Jets’ duo of Charlotte Baskaran and Montana Ham combining for 70 disposals in the win over the Knights. The visitors have plenty of depth with Paige Ryan and Kiera Whiley, as well as the consistent Stephanie Asciak. They go up against over-agers Lilli Condon and Tahlia Meier, as well as defender-turned-midfielder Molly Walton who has been building some nice form this season. Dynamic forward Paige Scott will be looking to have a big game, while up the other end Caitlin Sargent has done well at converting her opportunities.
Saturday February 12 @ 11:00am
In a repeat of last year’s NAB League Girls Grand Final, both the Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh Chargers head into the clash at 2-1 from their three matches this season. The Falcons were well beaten by Dandenong Stingrays in Round 1, but have since come from behind to defeat Murray Bushrangers, then roll past Gippsland Power. The Chargers suffered a rare loss to Sandringham Dragons in Round 2, either side of wins over Northern Knights and Tasmania Devils. Neither victory looked quite as complete as last season, so both sides come in wanting to put together a four-quarter performance.
There are several players in red-hot form as it stands. Tall forwards Analea McKee and Elizabeth Dowling combined for nine goals in the win against the Power last week, and Dowling is leading all-comers when it comes to goals in the NAB League Girls competition this season with hauls of two, five and four, edging closer to the overall winner’s record last season just three games in. The going will be considerably tougher here though, with the Oakleigh Chargers defence very strong. Fellow overagers Erin Woodford and Alexandra McCulloch are reliable, consistent players behind the ball, whilst the combination of skill and power from Jasmine Fleming and Charlotte Taylor makes their midfield incredibly difficult to beat. Charlotte Simpson has been a consistent performer for the Falcons all year and shook off a mid-game injury last week to finish strongly against the Power. Keep an eye out for Grace Purcell who has been building some terrific form in 2022.
Saturday, February 12 @ 12:00pm
Churchill Football Ground
Gippsland Power returns home to Churchill to take on Calder Cannons in what could be the Power’s tightest contest to-date. Though Gippsland has suffered some heavy defeats – three 59-plus points – there are few teams who fight out a game like the Power, never dropping their heads or intensity. They know the ground at Churchill well, and will be eyeing off the home ground advantage to get the crowd involved. The Cannons managed to get up over the Knights in Round 2 after a loss to Eastern Ranges in Round 1, but will be coming off a bye last weekend. That means they might be fresher later in the game but could take a little while to find the game intensity.
Ash Centra has been a standout Under 16s player thus far in season 2022, standing tall for the Power in tough circumstances. In the loss to the Falcons, Centra slotted two goals, including a long-range set shot following a contested mark. Along with another future talent in 15-year-old Ella Stoddart the Power’s future looks bright. From a shorter-term view, Yasmin Duursma and Macie Gilmour are two who can impact around the stoppages. They will tackle the likes of Abbey McDonald and Reese Sutton, with Tahlia Read another player in strong form for the Cannons this season. In her debut season, 16-year-old Amy Gaylor has shown promising signs.
Saturday, February 12 @ 12:00pm
Highgate Recreation Reserve
After three consecutive home games – yielding one win – the Tasmania Devils head to Victoria for the first time this season. Their 31-point win over the Western Jets came either side of losses to Sandringham Dragons and Oakleigh Chargers, though they were competitive in both outings. Next up is the Bendigo Pioneers, with the Pios travelling south to host the game at Highgate Recreation Reserve. Bendigo is coming off a spirited loss to Dandenong Stingrays, but like Tasmania, sit at 1-2, having split their first two rounds results with a big loss to Murray Bushrangers, before a big win over GWV Rebels.
Lucia Painter has been one of the Pioneers top players this season, with the Under 16s midfielder able to hit the scoreboard when forward. She joins top-age AFLW Academy member Octavia Di Donato and bottom-age talent Lila Keck as ones to watch. Key position talent Tegan Williams returned to her familiar role of defence against the Stingrays last week, having played forward in the opening two games for the Pioneers. The Devils have had a number of prominent ball-winners this season with AFLW Academy talents Claire Ransom and Brooke Barwick unsurprisingly leading the way. They form a strong midfield core that also features Meghan Gaffney and Candice Belbin making them a highly contested team.
Saturday, February 12 @ 12:30pm
One of the games of the round, Dandenong Stingrays will look to extend their winning streak to four games, when they take on the much-improved Murray Bushrangers down in Frankston. The game kicks off at 12:30pm at Skybus Stadium, with the Stingrays having already beaten Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power easily, then shook off the Bendigo Pioneers to move to 3-0 to start the season. Murray Bushrangers could easily have joined the Stingrays as an undefeated team heading into this clash, accounting for GWV Rebels last week and the Pioneers in Round 1, then only conceding two late goals in Round 2 to go down in a heartbreaker to the Geelong Falcons.
Amber Clarke and Zarlie Goldsworthy have been two of the most damaging players in the competition this season, with Clarke having bags of five and four in the opening two rounds, and Goldsworthy having kicked seven across her three games. They are well supported by plenty of talented players though, with the wing battle between Zara Hamilton – coming off a 38-disposal game and leading the competition in that stat – and Taylah Gatt who ran all day against the Pioneers to have nine inside 50s from 15 disposals in Round 3. Emily Shepherd also had a good day out for the Stingrays last weekend, and she could go head-to-head with someone like Madison Gray or Keeley Skepper, with key position utility Mackenzie Eardley set to return after missing Round 3.
Saturday, February 12 @ 12:45pm
Rounding out the weekend of action is the season’s first game at Parade College. The Northern Knights are searching for their first win against Eastern Ranges, who have been able to remain undefeated, albeit from two games. They passed the test against the previously unbeaten Sandringham Dragons last week, and knocked off Calder Cannons in Round 1. The Knights, yet to collect any points this season, have gone down to Oakleigh Chargers, Calder Cannons and Western Jets in succession, but will be hoping to cause an upset at their training ground.
Rylie Wilcox has been a shining light on the outside for the Knights, creating plenty of run and drive, with the top-age talent likely to cross paths with the equally highly-touted Mia Busch. The other battle that could be fascinating to watch is a couple of inside ball-winners in the pint-sized Ava Jordan – whose attack on the ball defies her 148cm standing – and prominent over-ager Bridget Deed who seems destined to step up to VFL Women’s at some point soon after a couple of best on ground performances. Mia Austin is likely to have another good day out in the ruck, with Alyssia Pisano likely to have Tannah Hurst for company. Tarrah Delgado has been a consistent defender in each of the games, always giving the Knights. a chance of rebounding the ball from defence.