Scouting notes: 2022 AFLW U18s – Brisbane vs. Gold Coast

IT was a tight contest between Gold Coast and Brisbane in the first all-Queensland Academy match of 2022. The Suns got up in a come-from-behind win, defeating Brisbane 6.9 (45) to 5.3 (33), holding the Lions scoreless in the second half whilst booting three goals themselves. The teams had a number of standout performers, and we took not of those who caught the eye.

BRISBANE LIONS 3.0 | 5.0 | 5.1 | 5.3 (33)
GOLD COAST SUNS 2.0 | 3.3 | 4.7 | 6.9 (45)


Brisbane: C. Howard 2, B. Sheridan 2, S. Rival-Quinn
Gold Coast: R. Collins 2, C. Miller, I. Iverach


Brisbane: A. Seton, K. Hillier, L. Roy, C. Mullins, E. Smith, L. Hung
Gold Coast: H. Harris, A. Gee, J. Smith, L. Cockatoo-Motlap, I. Evans, F. Davies

Brisbane Lions Academy:

#3 Brooke Sheridan

Playing a typical small forward’s game with two goals from her three kicks, both coming in the first half. Sheridan had to wait a long time under a high ball inside 50 before making it at the 18-minute mark of the first term, and she duly saluted with her kick. Early in the second quarter, Sheridan judged the bounced of the ball perfectly, kicking it off the ground under pressure for it to bounce home.

#4 Charlotte Mullins

A fierce competitor who continues to catch the eye, Mullins won a lot of her possessions off half-back or the wing, but also going in to the coal face when rotated to do so. She has a clever sidestep to evade opponents, and showcased it on a couple of occasions. She tried to break the game open in the third term with a fend off on Gee, but was caught. Though her disposal is not always perfect, she has the ability to get into the right spots – particularly behind the ball – and then attack from there.

#6 Charlotte Howard

Similar to Sheridan, Howard had a typical small forward’s game with a few more touches. She impacted the scoreboard with a couple of goals when handed opportunities, kicking the first goal of the game running inside 50 and eventually kicking it off the deck in the goal square two minutes into the match. In an almost identical moment, Howard pounced on a goal two minutes into the second term when a teammate smothered a kick and it spilled out for Howard to convert. She pushed up the ground in a high forward role, winning a few touches in the third term.

#9 Ella Smith

The traditional inside midfielder played a different role on the weekend, often running in from a wing, and taking on fellow AFLW Academy member Gee. She had a running shot on goal in the first half but sprayed it wide, though continued to accumulate the pill without too much fuss. She won a free kick for going in hard at half-back in the third term and was able to amass the second most touches of any Lion on the field. Though still suited to cracking in at the contest, Smith was able to expand her game and show she was capable of playing an outside role.

#15 Kiara Hillier

The rock solid defender was a saviour on the last line on a number of occasions, stopping a Gee goal early in the game, and marking another on the goal line. She would drive the ball out of defence time and time again, and though they were not always pinpoint, they were long and safe. Hillier laid a number of tackles as well in the defensive half, and racked up a team-high five rebound 50s during the game, to prove she was capable of matching her defensive abilities with her offensive ones.

#21 Ava Seton

The main Brisbane extractor picked up three more clearances than any other Lion, and laid a whopping 15 tackles in a massive performance on the inside. She was an accumulator in close, and though she gave away a few free kicks for overzealous tackles, she finished with the equal-most touches on the ground. Her midfield smarts and stoppage positioning is what sets her aside, and then being able to clear the all from congestion going forward was important.

#26 Lilu Hung

Another tackling machine, Hung was a player who caught the eye with her defensive determination. She laid 11 tackles from her 14 disposals in the loss, and won a couple of free kicks from those efforts. Able to accumulate the ball between the arcs, Hung was another who did her best work in close and kept the opposition guessing throughout the match.

#27 Laura Roy

Able to intercept well a kick behind play, Roy could play deeper or higher in defence, spending time through the middle third of the ground as well. She had the third most disposals of the Lions, and though at times she bombed it forward, she was able to take a great third-up mark in the defensive 50 during the second term. She had a good start to the third term winning a lot of disposals, and finished as one of the more prolific Lions in the loss.

Gold Coast Academy:

#1 Jasmyn Smith

The speedy midfielder had an impressive game for the Suns, and was able to accumulate the ball across the ground. Despite being light compared to many of opponents, she cracked in and put her body on the line when required. She won most of her disposals either in the midfield or the forward half of the ground, and generally was able to hit the shorter targets when she opted to do so. Smith won a number of free kicks for being held high, and put together a real four-quarter effort. By the final siren she had finished with the 16 touches, nine tackles, three clearances and five inside 50s in a strong all-round game.

#18 Imogen Evans

Having missed the Academy Series last year due to border closures, the New South Wales native had a promising start to the game, racking up a lot of touches early. Contending fiercely on the inside, Evans was the feeder from the coalface out to the runners, and applied plenty of defensive pressure to opponents. She won the first Gold Coast clearance from a stoppage, and her tackling was immense. Midway through the first term she opted to handball off to a teammate not at full stride and they were caught, but other than that she was able to keep putting together a consistent effort. When under pressure she could occasionally bomb the ball forward, but has the right technique when having time and space to utilise her kick. Importantly, Evans was clean at ground level even when under pressure which was important.

#21 Litonya Cockatoo-Motlap

The excitement machine threatened to do some damage in the first half, then did so in the second, when she kicked two goals in a minute to effectively win the game for the Suns off her own boot. In the second quarter, Cockatoo-Motlap took two bounces from half-back along the wing and kicked inside 50, then showed slick hands in close to shovel the ball off to a teammate at lightning pace inside 50. The fourth term is where it all came together though, as Cockatoo-Motlap kicked the goal of the day with a running bounce inside 50 close to the line and then composed herself to kick a goal. A minute later she was on the receiving end of a clearance and inside 50 to convert the set shot and give Gold Coast the buffer they needed to win.

#22 Josie McCabe

McCabe had an early chance on goal that was marked on the line, but the attempt did not dampen her spirits, attacking the ball hard and winning a number of free kicks. She had a nice running play at half-forward to give it off by hand cleanly, but the subsequent shot from a teammate just missed. Her ability to run with ball-in-hand is a key feature of the midfielder-forward’s ability. Able to use clean skills to find teammates, she did well to have the composure to kick around her body as she was brought down, to set up a teammate in front of goal.

#23 Ella Calleja

A strong lead-out target, Calleja does not need a lot of touches to do damage and she was finding the ball at half-forward throughout the match. She had a number of nice kicks going inside 50, and though she did not hit the scoreboard, she had an ‘almost moment’ in the third term. She ran into goal, but with pressure all around her, Calleja could not cleanly connect and the kick stayed in play. In the final term she had a great burst of a lead out but could not control the grab, though she continued to apply body pressure on opponents for the final term.

#24 Alana Gee

The start midfielder had a quieter start by her standards playing on the outside, but she built into the game with a dominant second half. Her technical skill and spatial awareness is very impressive, able to spin and turn out of troubles whilst fending someone off. She almost scored a goal in the second term, but it was just touched on the line, and her elite work rate over the game allowed her to rack up the ball in each third of the ground. Gee seemed to run harder for longer than most of the others on the field, and she was impacting the clearances as well when going in there, lifting well when required to help her team get over the line. Gee just has that extra gear that few have, and she finished with 26 disposals, seven marks, five inside 50s and four tackles for the game.

#31 Havana Harris

Shared the ruck duties with Davies and had an outstanding match racking up 18 disposals, 21 hitouts and six clearances. When forward she looked dangerous but could not reward herself on the scoreboard with four behinds for the match. Harris’ leap was eye-catching and her ability to provide an option not only at stoppages, but around the ground as well was what made her performance so good. She occasionally took it out of the ruck and bombed it long down the ground, immediately having a say in the transitional movement.

#33 Fleur Davies

The AFLW Academy ruck started the game strongly, and whilst Harris seemed to star later in the match, Davies still remained a threat in the forward half. She rotated between the ruck and forward, and had a real influence around the stoppages. Her kicking technique was good, and she had clean hands, with her first term being one of the most influential of the game for any player. She had a snap on goal in the final quarter, and though she missed it, Davies showed nice mobility for a tall.

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