FOR the first time this season, a NAB League Girls round was stretched across three dates – starting with the Eastern Ranges’ big win under Friday night lights. There were plenty of top individual performances along the way, which we outline in our latest Scouting Notes edition for the year.
Note: All comments are opinion of the individual author.
By: Michael Alvaro
#9 Mia Busch
Spending a good amount of time rotating on-ball, Busch brought her usual aggression and defensive intent to the contest, while also looking to drive away from congestion. She again displayed enough grit to compete for the hard ball and lay strong tackles, but looked to gather at speed and release long kicks to add a little vigour to Eastern’s attack. Busch got good penetration on her kicks despite often kicking off balance, at full tilt, or off a few steps, hitting up at the ball and send it back from whence it came while stationed at half-back.
#13 Alyssia Pisano
Pisano was back to her goalkicking best on the weekend, breaking through to dob four majors in an exciting performance. Her ability to step through traffic at speed made her impossible to catch, and a real menace at forward 50 stoppages. She kicked two goals in said situations, with her effort in the final term – while passing the ball around her back – a highlight of the game. The bottom-ager proved clean with the ball and was clever in her positioning, before finishing off her work each time in devastating fashion.
#15 Bridget Deed
Hawthorn’s first AFLW signing, Deed put on a show through midfield to remind onlookers of just why she earned such an honour. The Ranges captain is simply a level above many of her peers and as an over-ager, stamped her authority on this match. Accumulating possessions around the ground, Deed was as clean as anyone and competed hard at the coalface to help Eastern dominate the midfield battle. Her balance and strength to get her hands out while being tackled were noticeable, as Deed’s pure ball winning class again proved unstoppable.
In what was another solid outing for the Eastern over-ager, she got her hands on the ball 24 times this time out – a new personal best for the consistent midfielder. Khoury started off perhaps trying a bit too much in possession, but adjusted nicely to release the ball more quickly as the game wore on, showcasing her smarts in tight spots and gaining good meterage on her kicks.
#42 Jess Vukic
One of Eastern’s many promising talls, Vukic rotated through the ruck and proved difficult to combat aerially. The 180cm bottom-ager also made her presence known up forward, first with what looked like a smart snap goal over her shoulder. It was touched, but Vukic went on to snare a major in the second term. She rose for three marks, including a handy juggling act in the final term to intercept inside attacking 50.
#43 Mia Austin
Austin continued her breakout season with impactful outing, spend mostly in attack. She started in the ruck though, setting the tone with her sizeable leap and catching eyes with that kind of athleticism. Austin’s clean overhead marking was the highlight of her game, and often went hand-in-hand with her goalkicking. The top-ager slotted three set shots in rather nonchalant style, showcasing great class for such a green talent.
#1 Lily Hart
The hard working Chargers midfielder was up against it considering Eastern’s midfield strength, but has stood up with plenty more time on-ball this season. The top-ager had a real crack and ended up tipping the 20-disposal mark for the first time this season, constantly looking to push the ball forward. Her kicking could have been more polished, but considering the pressure she was often faced with, Hart did well to gain some quick territory each time.
#14 Jorja Jackson
Another who got stuck in around the ball, Jackson laid a whopping 13 tackles and provided a bit of strength at the contest for Oakleigh. Like many of her teammates, she operated in little time and space but still dug in and offered a bit going both ways.
#23 Caitlin Matthews
Tasked with repelling the wealth of Eastern inside 50s which came her way, Matthews not only positioned to intercept, but provided some much needed dash on the rebound. The over-ager used her long boot to put an exclamation mark on various running forays out of defence, moving the ball on quickly under a fair bit of pressure.
#33 Maggie Mahony
In just her third NAB League Girls game, Mahony continued her impressive form with a balanced display in midfield. The 2006-born prospect was strong and tough enough to apply tackling pressure at the contest and worked around the ground to take a couple of nice marks in the second term. Having added ball winning responsibility fall on her in this outing should hold her in good stead over the next couple of seasons.
By: Declan Reeve
#1 Lilli Condon
The ever-reliable midfielder was once again a consistent battler for her side through the game, providing her usual hunt of the ball and opponent around stoppages, making it difficult for Geelong to break out without quick ball movement.
#5 Paige Scott
Somewhat struggling as a deeper forward over recent weeks, Scott was pushed into a role further up the ground on the day, seeing her pushing up the ground as a link up forward early on and then eventually into a midfield role later in the piece. Scott looked as dangerous as ever in the first quarter, providing an option out of defence and being unbeatable in marking contests as she out bodied opponents without issue, often looking to keep the play moving quickly after doing so by playing on quickly. As she had more time in the midfield her aggression at the ball was hard for the Falcons to match as she threw herself on everything and quickly shovelled it out in an effort to get the ball moving forward.
#10 Paige Glover
One of only two Rebels to convert in front of goal all day, Glover was a constant danger inside 50 for the Rebels, finding ways to lose her opponent and position well to receive a handball or pick up a ground ball heading towards goal. Glover was also effective further up the field, showing she could win the ball herself and use it effectively, getting it to teammates in space
#7 Sara Howley
The 2006-born prospect has already proven early that she is one to watch for the future, and this match up was no different. Howley worked well under pressure all game and looked smooth through traffic regardless of how close she was to being taken down, always looking to hold on to the ball for as long as she needed to steady herself before disposing of it, one such instance saw her run the ball from the defensive 50 mark through the middle of the ground, taking a bounce and evading opponents along the way, then deliver a long bomb forward to a 2 on 1 from the centre circle. Her read of the game from the backline was a key part to Geelong’s damage from rebound 50’s, making runs that others wouldn’t and going for options that broke the game open
#10 Grace Purcell
Purcell was consistently seen winning contested ball and bursting away through the game, seemingly unable to be matched for speed despite being in congestion for a lot of the game, seeing her win plenty of clearances around the ground. Whilst she hit the scoreboard well with 2 majors, and setting up a few more, it was Purcell’s strength to stand up in tackles that caught the eye the most, only brought down once all game but constantly holding her balance despite the contact and managing to fire a handball out to an outside teammate.
#26 Analea McKee
The over-agers form in the forward half continued with a 3 goal performance, that still doesn’t quite fully explain how dominant she was on the day. Whilst quite early on, after McKee took her first mark her impact just snowballed from there, with the Rebels unable to stop her dominance in the air no matter how hard they tried, she just held down mark after mark with her leap aiding her in getting above contests. McKee’s use by foot for the game was impressive, able to get penetration and distance on her kicks which gave her teammates every advantage when receiving the ball from her.
By: Michael Alvaro
In what was hardly her most prolific outing (10 disposals), Barwick made up for a lack of ball winning impact with her tackling pressure. The bottom-ager displayed smothering closing speed and hit hard when she had the opportunity. She rotated forward but still looked most at home in midfield, proving clean when roving and using the aforementioned speed to break to the outer.
It is crazy to think that Bowering is a 2007-born prospect, especially given the level of comfort she shows in contested situations. Her application in a tackling sense is outstanding, and is a major factor in just why the under-ager has been an excellent addition to Tasmania’s midfield this year. She won five free kicks on the day, including multiple holding the ball tackles, and capped another solid outing in term four with a handy intercept mark on the stretch.
Utilised in the forward half, Gaffney added a bit of speed and cleanliness to Tasmania’s play inside 50. She showed the ability to hit the ball at pace and collect it with one grab, traits which lacked for both sides on the day and proved a handy point of difference. With her lively play, the over-ager was particularly effective in the first half, before finishing with 11 touches.
Another high class Tasmanian who was perhaps not as prolific as usual, Ransom still managed to showcase her best attributes. She started well with the very first centre clearance, and turned up the pressure early on – including in a big tackle on Ava Jordan. From then on, it was Ransom’s class and clean hands which shone, as she displayed her usual poise in midfield despite spending plenty of time up forward. Her long-range kicking was perhaps the only lacking attribute.
A fairly classic outside runner, Brazendale went about her work on the wing with some handy forward running and good moments behind the ball after half time. The over-ager backed her speed to break into attack and while slightly awkward when kicking in full flight, did well to drive the Devils into space on several occasions.
#24 Georgia Clark
In what was a best on ground, and player of the week performance, Clark did it all in attack. The bottom-aged forward presented beautifully up to half-forward and displayed her marking prowess, but also got busy closer to goal with her ability to follow up and pressure as the ball hit the deck. She dominated aerially and converted her chances well, with three of Clark’s four goals coming from set shots. Having shown signs previously, this was the big outing her form deserved.
#14 Ava Jordan
Jordan was again made to ride the bumps as, at times, a lone hand in midfield. She recovered from a nasty dumping tackle in the first term and got busy as soon as she returned to the action, showcasing unbelievable vision and clean hands at the contest. Add repeat running efforts and her own tackling influence to the game, and this was a monster effort in a losing side. Jordan’s battle with fellow bottom-age star Brooke Barwick was also a good watch, as the two went blow-for-blow.
#23 Lulu Beatty
There were some positive signs for Beatty in her first game of the season, as she slotted straight into Northern’s besieged defence. She took some time to work into the contest and adjust to the speed of the game, but ended up getting her hands on the ball 14 times. The top-ager positioned well to intercept and had to play slightly above her size against Tassie’s talls, but consistently went when her number was called.
#40 Tannah Hurst
Northern owed a lot to the efforts of Hurst on Saturday, with the defender working overtime to sweep up across the defensive 50 and drive her side on the rebound. She won plenty of crucial one-on-ones and was not afraid to back herself in possession, as she pumped her legs and unleashed long kicks out of the danger zone. In a role which saw her clear her lines many a time, Hurst’s gig was a tough one done under plenty of heat.
By: Toby Mew
Mailer was strong particularly in the defensive half of the ground. She racked up 24 disposals, most of them clearing from the backline. She was important around the stoppages, demonstrating her vision with link-up handballs. Mailer will be looking to continue on her form going into next week against the Knights.
The gun midfielder was all over the ground, racking up 23 disposals. Goldsworthy’s aggression provided a point of difference in the Murray midfield, with a game-high 13 tackles. She took multiple crucial contested marks late in the game which gave her team a fighting chance. Her kicking power was also second to none, with plenty of clearances deep inside 50. However, ideally, you’d like to see a player of Goldsworthy’s calibre attempting to hit more targets rather than going long all the time. As the season goes on, expect her to start improving in that part of her game.
Hamilton demonstrated her toughness with several strong tackles, out of a total of seven for the match. She won plenty of the ball and was influential throughout the game. She gathered plenty of contested ground balls and was always hovering around the contest. A better left boot may have come in handy for Hamilton a couple of times, but it didn’t have too much of an effect on her game. One to watch for the rest of the season.
#17 Keeley Skepper
The leading ball winner for the match had her best game of the season. Collecting 32 disposals and 6 marks, Skepper was impressive with her ability to find space. She was frequently running through the middle for an extra handball or kick, and she often picked the right option with the ball in hand. She also had a crucial five inside 50s, with a penetrating kick that almost willed her team across the line in the final quarter.
#2 Reese Sutton
The Cannon’s top performer impressed with her run and carry through the ground. She won a fair chunk of the possessions despite her size, and was an accurate kick inside 50. Sutton would consistently outwork her opponents through second and third efforts, and would keep running for an extra handball while her defender sagged off. Continues to be one of the top names to watch for Calder this year.
#16 Tahlia Read
Read collected plenty of the ball with 19 disposals and five marks. She was an important part of Calder’s linkup possessions from the backline to the forwardline. Her kicking was precise in a scrappy game, giving her forwards plenty of opportunities. Read played an underrated role in the game in general given Sutton and Gaylor’s dominance, but she is vying to be considered as a star name in the engine room.
#24 Amy Gaylor
Gaylor had another strong game, winning 23 disposals, mostly through ground balls. She also laid a team-high nine tackles, leading the way with her pressure. Gaylor was another player who was impressive with her running ability, often spotted on opposite ends of the ground within the same possession chain. She will only get better with more games and another year under in the system next year.
By: Michael Alvaro
#2 Keely Coyne
Facing some stiff opposition in midfield, Coyne worked hard to not only compete at the contest, but also drop back and sweep across the defensive half when the ball eventually broke. Her ability to twist and turn out of tight spots pointed towards great poise in possession, with Coyne able to navigate out of tight spots and find a way forward. She was one of Sandringham’s best on the day.
#6 Zoe Barbakos
One who has been a real find this year is Barbakos, a tennis junior who joined the Dragons in 2022 and has displayed plenty of good traits. The over-ager has great speed and used it break forward on many occasions, before being moved into midfield late in the piece in hopes of adding a competitive streak. While confident enough to back her pace and send shots on goal, a finishing touch was the only thing lacking for Barbakos in just her fourth NAB League outing.
#10 Bridie Hipwell
An AFLW Academy member with high upside, Hipwell spent plenty of time forward on Sunday and arguably looked most effective there. She has improved her kicking since last season, getting much better penetration and looking more fluent in her action. With everything going through her inside Sandringham’s forward 50 in the early stages, Hipwell was able to showcase said improvement, as well as her overhead marking prowess. She later fell into some old habits as she was caught holding the ball a couple of times in midfield, but proved that her best is hard to handle.
#15 Sofia Hurley
Against some pretty stiff direct opposition, Hurley initially found the going tough but slowly found her groove on Sunday. The star midfielder looked to lack a bit of confidence and brought it back with a lift in intensity after half time. She still lead the disposal count for Sandringham (24) and laid a team-high nine tackles, so had an impact in that sense even if there was less room to move and cause damage with ball in hand.
#63 Mia Zielinski
The Sandringham spearhead only managed to snare a single goal, but looked lively inside 50 with her ability to hit up on the lead and follow up when the ball hit the deck. Zielinski was on early, working up the ground and laying a solid holding the ball tackle, but couldn’t quite find the scoring reward until term three. Overall, she proved strong over the ball and was a reliable target in attack – something which other sides lack.
Season 2022 has been like clockwork thus far for Baskaran, and the Jets skipper turned in another masterful performance on Sunday. The top-age star stamped her authority on the game, working beautifully in tandem with her fellow midfielders to accelerate away from stoppages and drive her side into attack. She was evasive as ever and remained relevant going both ways – copping hits, and dishing them out. In a showing of even more desirable traits, Baskaran’s confidence to kick on both feet again came to the fore, and she kicked a great goal in the last quarter – recovering better than anyone from a marking contest before running in for the finish.
#14 Kiera Whiley
With fellow winger Paige Ryan also in promising form, Whiley’s size proved a major factor in some of her better plays. The 173cm bottom-ager was not as prolific as others on the inside, but looked particularly good during term three when she laid a strong tackle on the wing, and clunked an intercept mark in defensive 50, before moving the ball on quickly. She blends outside run nicely with that size and ability to compete.
#15 Sierra Grieves
While quiet in the early stages, Grieves came to life during term three with two goals which helped Western break the game open. Her first came from a free kick after initially missing on the run, and her second came after marking on the lead. In both instances, Grieves’ set shot conversion was sweet, and she almost put through another later on. Western has wanted to get her in the side for a while, and the under-ager has delivered thus far.
#24 Laura Elliott
Having been thereabouts in previous games this season, Elliott well and truly broke out on Sunday with an epic performance in defence. All seven of her marks were intercepts, and she proved impassable time and time again with her ability to pop up across the back half. The top-ager showed little regard for her own safety as she rose in packs and brought the ball down cleanly in an impressive defender’s game. She did one particular thing over and over, but did it ridiculously well.
#38 Montana Ham
Much like Baskaran, Ham has worked wonderfully well into the season and starred once more on Sunday. The powerhouse midfielder dominated at the contest, getting first hands to the ball and often releasing her teammates by breaking through congestion. Her power is too much for even the most solid NAB Leaguers, and it also showed in a marking sense as Ham displayed her aerial prowess. As was the case last week, she had a couple of chances to dash through the centre square, moving like a freight train in full flight and snatching plenty of ground.
By: Michael Alvaro
Gippsland’s leading ball winner on the day, Duursma was one who got better as the game wore on. Her smooth side step in traffic held her in good stead in a few sticky situations, but Duursma sometimes invited pressure when holding possession for a touch too long. She adjusted accordingly, and proved clean in her handling amid a fair bit of pressure around the contest. Her ability to drop back and sweep across the defence came to the fore in the final term.
#20 Indiana Makai
Makai is one who embodies the Gippsland style, proving difficult to play against and consistently having a crack no matter how many chips are down. She was strong over the ball in contested situations and put speed on it when unleashed on the outer, bringing a bit of balance to her play. Makai’s tenacity to rip the ball clear or break out of tackles set the tone, and was particularly evident in the first half before Bendigo really got on top.
#1 Lila Keck
On what was somewhat of a day out for Keck, she displayed a great deal of smarts inside 50 and slotted three terrific goals. She was always busy, chasing, creating contests, following up the loose balls and doing so on repeat. The bottom-ager snared majors in the second, third and fourth terms, converting a set shot and two wonderful snaps. In the latter instances, Keck crumbed the ball perfectly and finished with conviction, but could have had even more scoreboard impact with the way she peppered kicked inside 50. Add her midfield craft to the mix, and it was a well-rounded performance for the future talent.
Di Donato was close to her best this time out, again lead all comers with 26 disposals and looking classy as ever in possession. Never fazed, the top-ager would assess her options and wait until the very last moment to make a decision, which proved the correct one more often than not. She snuck forward to mark uncontested and convert a set shot in the first term, but looked at home in midfield and did the basics well. With great fundamentals by hand and foot, it was a productive outing for Di Donato.
The 2006-born talent was damaging as ever on Sunday, spending most of her time in midfield and proving difficult to stop. She is, and was so good at taking the ball on the move and continuing her forward momentum, before unleashing a penetrative kick inside 50. With a ridiculous amount of power and confidence, Painter was constantly bursting out of congestion and stepping her opponents, inspiring her side at the source as its powerhouse in midfield. She kicked a goal in the fourth term and spent a bit more time forward after half time, where her booming boot often released others over the back.
#15 Drew Ryan
Another Pioneer with great smarts, Ryan leant on some of her experience to again find a decent amount of ball among the mid-forward rotation. She popped up in a particular play during term one, winning a free kick in the centre square before jetting inside 50 to take a make in the same play. She competed well at the contest and battled to get the ball loose, while also doing her fair share going the other way.
#26 Jayda Richardson
In just her second game for the season, the over-ager brought all of her experience and size to the fore as a key defender. She did the rucking inside defensive 50 and was often too big and strong for her opponents, positioning well to intercept and looking comfortable when moving with the ball. She got to a good amount of contests, competing in the air and following up at ground level to serve a reminder of her talent in her fourth season at the Pios.