Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League Girls – Round 6
HALF of the NAB League Girls games in Round 6 were decided by under a goal, as players stepped up to the plate in crunch moments. 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: Peter Williams
Though not having as much impact as previous weeks, Baskaran was still among the best players on the ground quite comfortably, such is her ability to control the flow of play and just find the ball. After an uncharacteristically slower start – aside from the first clearance of the game and some neat handballs off half-back – given the attention from the opposition to make sure she earned every kick, Baskaran started to come alive in the second term with another instant clearance out of the middle. Her ability to burst through stoppages was on display again, being too evasive for the majority of opponents, and she was utilised in the play of the day that lead to to a Sargent goal.
Shared the bulk of the ball early to be one of the key midfielders on the ground, amassing 22 disposals across the game. She had a great run-down tackle on an opponent in the opening term and showed great pressure at the clinches even if she was not rewarded with tackles. She put together a strong four-quarter performance for the Jets and was one of the better players.
#8 Paige Ryan
Ryan created plenty of run along a wing and was able to break open the game on occasions. In the second term, the hard runner received a 50m penalty and kicked the set shot goal to keep the Jets on top, and then had another flying shot on goal in the third term. After initially dropping it, Ryan recovered well to have a ping, and though she missed, it still went well off the boot. Her tackling pressure was another feature of her game.
#27 Caitlin Sargent
Really stood up inside 50 in what was a tight, contested game, and finished with 3.3, indicating that she could have had more. She was strong overhead, showed good leading patterns, and was reliable when taking her chances, really being that difference inside 50. Not only did she take a strong contested mark in the second term and turned on her right to snap the goal, but she also took a good intercept mark at half-forward in the third term, with that set shot just missing to the left. Getting on the end of an end-to-end chain, Sargent took a strong grab on the goalline in the fourth term to seal the result, then put the icing on the cake with the last goal of the day in the final 90 seconds.
#34 Kasey Maddock
Though Sargent put the exclamation mark on the performance, the Jets forward got the team started, kicking two first half goals just when they needed it. Her first was the first of the game, showing strong hands overhead to mark and convert the set shot from 20m out, then a free kick on the half-time siren saw her slot the Jets’ fifth and head into half-time with all the momentum. She marked on the lead in the third term just before the siren, but this time it fell short to the right.
#38 Montana Ham
Not as prolific the last few weeks, it is still difficult to keep Ham down. She got more involved as the game went on, winning her usual quota of inside ball and then trying to burst away and bomb it long. She did just that in the third term out of the middle, accumulating a number of touches early in the quarter, and it was her busiest of the lot. Ham still managed the 20 disposals and six inside 50s, and remained fierce at the stoppages with a team-high eight tackles.
#7 Sara Howley
The 2006-born Howley has made a habit of lapping up any loose balls that fall in her direction, and the speedy runner is able to accumulate the ball with ease coming off half-back and running forward. She reads the ball so well, to cut off a Baskaran pass in the first term, and though she missed her subsequent kick, followed up to win the ball back again on the win. Though a bit fumbly at times, she was composed when she had ball-in-hand and was able to produce a lovely weighted kick out of defence using the outside of her boot on a 45-degree angle. Howley finished with the 21 touches, nine marks, five tackles, eight rebound 50s and two inside 50s in the loss.
Chosen to create the drive from deep in defence, Sunderland won plenty of the ball on the last line, and kicked out down the ground, she was able to link up between deep and high defence. Though at times her kicking was not always pinpoint, she kept having a crack and was able to clean up a lot of Jets forward forays and get the ball back in the Falcons’ possession.
#26 Analea McKee
Kicked both of the Falcons goals from limited opportunities, McKee battled hard across the game. Though like many of her teammates had less impact in the second half – due to less inside 50s – McKee did her best work in the opening half, where she competed well in the air and slotted a goal in both the first and third terms, the second coming from 50m with the breeze curling in for a long-range bomb.
#29 Mia Van Dyke
Arguably played one of her best games for the year, Van Dyke was consistent off half-back, particularly doing well early. Though at times she seemed to be caught in two minds due to the Western forward pressure, Van Dyke stuck at it and continued to win the ball off half-back and clear it well. She took a number of strong marks – both intercept and from the kickout – and cleared the ball down the field time and time again. At one stage she did well to force a free kick in a one-against-two contest in the opening term.
The Falcons ruck had more disposals on the ground than anyone else, and really stepped up against a highly-touted ruck in Krystal Russell. Though she had less hitouts (10-25), she worked hard around the ground to amass more disposals (28-11) and take more marks (6-0). Not always directly opposed one-on-one, Hardingham showcased her high-level work rate and endurance level to finish as arguably the best-on, even in a pretty substantial loss. At one stage she took a strong mark on the defensive goal line and was able to clear to half-back, saving a certain goal.
By: Michael Alvaro
She may only have played under a half of football, but Cicolini was arguably the most lively forward afield to that point. Much of Murray’s attacking play went through its goalsneak, who booted the first goal of the game and presented a celebration to match the feat. She had at least three other shies at the big sticks and just lacked that finishing touch, but made a menace of herself with clean marking play and crafty work at the fall of the ball. Unfortunately, Cicolini looked distraught as she held her knee and was helped off the ground in the hands of trainers, after being crunched in a tackle.
She was absolutely in the wars by game’s end, but one could not fault Goldsworthy’s endeavour throughout the match as she worked hard to will her side over the line. While the Bushies fell short, their star midfielder did all she could and again proved a powerhouse around the ball. Her pure presence and aggression at the contest saw her win many a loose ball, bumping opponents out of the way and crushing them in tackles. Her intensity was unmatched, and her attacking intent was evident as she surged the ball forward with every possession. That mentality sometimes saw her blaze away by foot, gaining good meterage nonetheless. Rounding out a balanced game, Goldsworthy’s overhead marking was also terrific and she booted a clutch goal late in term three to put her side ahead. With several other shots on goal, including one in the last 90 seconds, the top-ager very nearly won the game off her own boot.
Edging back towards her best after a couple of steadier outings, Hamilton used her size to advantage in midfield en route to registering 23 disposals and 10 tackles. She showcased a nice balance of inside and outside traits; leaning on her typically strong running power to drive Murray forward with green ball, while also cracking in to make her presence felt on the inside. At 173cm, she has the size to do so and seems to have better implemented those elements on top of the craft she showed as a winger last year. Her kicking, while not outstanding, was also better on Saturday.
#17 Keeley Skepper
As per usual, Skepper had no trouble finding the ball and ended up with an equal game-high of 26 disposals. Very much a kick-first player, the top-ager looked to have made some nice adjustments early on and showed greater poise in possession, but reverted back to her typical approach as the stakes of the game lifted. Starting in midfield, she shifted forward in the first half before rotating back and sweeping across the defensive half. Her ability to read the play came to the fore in the latter stages, and her attempts to move the ball forward quickly helped Murray apply some pressure when behind the game.
#22 Grace Hay
Hay was instrumental in Murray’s constant advances on Northern’s lead, as she kept her side within touch with a rock-solid game in defence. She initially matched up on her opposing number 22, Ella Smallacombe, and did a good job combating her aerially. Hay defended further afield in the first half, but cut off plenty more in deeper positions after half time as the heat began to rise. At 180cm, she impacted many aerial contests but also followed up well and laid a couple of goal-saving tackles on the last line. The top-ager was also clean in a handling sense and given the wealth of work she had to do, stood up valiantly in a losing cause.
#10 Mia Haas
Her final numbers may not reflect it, but Haas was as instrumental as any Knight in their first win of the season. The top-age defender was impassable during the opening term, rising for intercept marks and using her strength to nudge opponents off ground balls on the last line. Haas also laid her share of tackles and if not for her varied defensive efforts, Northern could well have fallen behind early on. She was a little less assured in possession, but just about faultless on Saturday when it came to getting the ball back for her side.
#14 Ava Jordan
There’s not much about Jordan that hasn’t been said already, and she again proved why she is regarded as a bona fide prospect for 2023. She was incredibly clean and slick in her use by hand, but opted for a more kick-heavy approach this time out, with 15 of her 23 touches distributed by foot. Her one-touch handling and smarts allowed for easy contest navigation, and Jordan made all the right decisions when stepping to the outer, despite not always hitting her kicks. While often the go-to at stoppages, Jordan became the receiver at two forward-50 ball-ups in term three and the second of which saw her contribute to a much needed goal. For all her quality with the ball, arguably her most memorable moment was a tackle on the 25cm taller Hamilton, which blew the headband right off Jordan’s forehead. She still stuck it.
#40 Tannah Hurst
Much like Haas, Hurst’s role was compounded in the opening half as Murray did its level best to make early breakthroughs. She initially pressed up to intercept a touch higher up the field than usual, before being made to act deeper in defence with her usual smarts and bustling rebound running. She copped a knock in term two and was a touch quieter thereafter, but still had her moments when called upon – including with a fend and blind turn at centre half-back in the third quarter.
By: Michael Alvaro
#1 Lilli Condon
Condon turned in a true captain’s shift on Saturday, getting her hands dirty with 27 disposals and 10 tackles in midfield. The diminutive ball winner was her typical self in terms of ground level play, proving all-action with her ability to win contested situations and pressure opponents in position to break away. Her use by hand was sound and allowed others to run the ball forward, but as the stakes lifted after half time, Condon looked to do so herself. She got on the board with a crucial goal in the final quarter to draw the Rebels within a goal, but could not quite will her side over the line.
#2 Tahlia Meier
Spending plenty of time forward of centre, Meier proved a key link for the Rebels as they looked to move the ball inside attacking 50. The nifty small worked high up the ground and set off quickly when found, not afraid to take on opponents and run her measure before kicking long. Sometimes those tendencies invited pressure and saw her turn into traffic, but the intent was positive. With the game on the line in term four, she assisted Condon’s goal and almost snuck home a dribbler of her own less than a minute beforehand.
#5 Paige Scott
In an indifferent kind of outing, Scott received and dished out her fair share of hard knocks, bringing a good level of intensity to the contest. She was stationed mostly forward and looked on in the early stages, showcasing her clean hands and ability to collect the ball at pace. While she was hardly afforded time and space, Scott was aggressive once in possession and just as belligerent when opponents looked to pounce on ground balls. She hobbled off in the first quarter, then had her day cut short after a massive hit when running into goal in the third term. It resulted in a rushed behind and the stretcher being called out.
#22 Molly Walton
In arguably her best performance for the season, Walton lead all comers with 29 disposals, six marks and six inside 50s. The top-ager was again utilised through midfield and, suffice to say, had no trouble getting her hands on the ball. Walton’s movement in possession was much improved, as she was confident enough to take ground and advance the Rebels into attacking areas. Her defensive acumen also came to the fore with several strong tackles and overhead marking efforts which helped GWV win the ball back between the arcs. With a couple of centre clearances to round out a positive game in midfield, Walton was easily one of her side’s best in a losing effort.
Speakman again started forward for GWV and the move looked like a masterstroke when she snared the first goal of the game. As a long kick broke out the back, the top-ager latched onto it first and was happy with the result in a joyous celebration. Her clean hands were on display in general play, as Speakman looked to shift the ball on quickly, even if she was a touch rushed at times. She took a great mark from behind her direct opponent in the second quarter, before being swung back to her usual defensive role. She took her second grab down back and was tasked with the kick-ins, capping off a solid outing.
After missing last week, Taylor returned to the fold and was eased in with plenty of minutes spent up forward. When stationed around the contest, her physical presence and ability to hunt the ball were evident, even if she looked a little sore as the game wore on. Taylor displayed her athletic traits with a couple of running forays and proved willing to take on opponents in front of her, moving through traffic and onto her right side. While not quite able to impact the scoreboard herself, Taylor provided Kristen Smith with a memorable assist; chasing down a loose ball near the boundary, shoving her opponent over the line, collecting the ball and handing over the top to secure the score.
#10 Jasmine Fleming
Our Round 6 Player of the Week, Fleming returned after two weeks away and quickly got back to her damaging best. She played much of the game up forward, hitting up to the 50-metre arc and wheeling around to send the ball towards goal. It seemed like she was making a concerted effort to use her left side, and while penetration lacked at times, it paid off with a flukey bouncing goal in the third quarter. That was her second major, and Fleming was made to earn her first in the previous period after being whacked high in a tackle. She converted that chance, and another late in term four to seal the game. Despite her short time off, Fleming’s desire to compete and repeat efforts were evident throughout, earning her some time in midfield during the fourth quarter.
#28 Sienna Tallariti
One of a few impressive 2006-born talents gaining valuable experience with Oakleigh, Tallariti returned arguably her best game yet on Saturday. The 15-year-old booted the first two goals of her fledgling NAB League Girls career – Oakleigh’s first of the day, and another which all-but sealed the result in term four. Tallariti used her size to advantage when operating through midfield and broke forward nicely for a couple of centre clearances, displaying clean touch and good awareness at the contest.
By: Peter Williams
#2 Reese Sutton
A standout, hard-working midfielder all day, Sutton just kept cracking in for the Cannons. She converted the home side’s third goal for the day in the opening term, laying a great tackle 35m out and then nailing the set shot 10 minutes into the term. She went on to win the ball off hands really cleanly and charging forward, able to rack up the ball throughout the course of the game. Without a doubt her evasion ability at stoppages, and her defensive pressure to win the ball back is what stands out regularly, and though her execution by foot on the run could be tinkered with, she is a high metres gained player and is able to impact in that way. Finishing with 23 disposals, 10 tackles, five inside 50s and a goal, Sutton had a good day out.
#10 Olivia Manfre
A traditional forward who just has her moments, Manfre returned to the side after a VFLW dig with the Bombers. She slotted two goals in the space of a minute, both coming from impressive marks. The first was from a 45-degree angle 30m out, and the next was from the following inside 50 where she got front position and backed back to clunk the grab. Converting the set shot from 20m straight in front, she had contributed her two majors for the day, though had a couple of chances in he second half that missed under pressure.
#24 Amy Gaylor
The bottom-ager is another Calder midfielder who just has a crack each and every week, and she covers the ground so well. Winning the ball in all thirds of the field, Gaylor is often best suited to getting it at the coalface, or running off the stoppage to receive the handball and kick long down the ground. Though at times her kicking can be scratchy, she gets into ball-winning positions and her hardness at both the ball and player in possession can never be questioned. A good midfield size at 170cm, Gaylor is enjoying a good debut season for the Cannons.
#47 Chloe Prpic
Playing in the forward half of the ground, Prpic makes things happen and has a nice creativity that was a point of difference to the inside midfielders at the Cannons. She set up both of Manfre’s goals with pinpoint passes inside 50, and her ball use was generally quite impactful. She kicked a goal herself after the half-time siren to make it a 15-point margin at the main break.
#1 Lila Keck
It was a tale of two halves for Keck who seemed frustrated at times with less space than she would usually operate. Making a few uncharacteristic errors by foot from the normally slick ball users, Keck came alive in the final term and almost helped haul her team over the line. She worked hard off half-back to get the ball down the wing and inside 50 for her teammates to score, and had a number of crucial touches late in one-twos, celebrating with teammates after they converted goals in the final quarter.
The cleanest player on the field quite comfortably, Di Donato quietly racked up plenty of the ball and had high impact going forward. She picked up nine inside 50s to go with her 24 disposals, and had she kicked her two goals, she not only would have been the match-winner, but also capped off a really impressive performance. Her second chance came in the final 90 seconds with a flying shot that missed, but it was her sidestep and evasion in traffic that gave the opposition Cannons midfielders headaches, showcasing her cleanliness with ball-in-hand.
The Under 16s talent was lively early before fading out of the game in the second half, she still popped up with a goal in the third term from a perfect set shot. Her routine was smooth and clinical, and it added to her performance, that also included 15 disposals and eight tackles. Her pressure around the ground was always high, and she showcased a nice sidestep out of congestion early. Though she mistimed a hangar in the first term, Painter was instrumental early in the match before the Cannons tightened up on her.
#41 Tegan Williams
The key forward was definitely one of the more influential players on the ground, kicking three goals and being the spearhead up forward that she threatens to be most weeks. Her kicking is sublime when she can unload, and she kicked back-to-back goals in the second term to spark the Pioneers. Her first came from a sliding mark 30m out, and the next from laying a great tackle and winning a free kick. Her third came just when the Pios needed it in the fourth term, booting a ripping goal on the run that bounced home to draw the deficit back to four points. She had a free kick in the pocket later in the term but her set shot just faded to the left.
By: Peter Williams
Producing a lively game at half-forward, Robinson was a hard runner in transition, winning the ball and setting up a goal to Sophie Butterworth in the second term. She had multiple forward forays and just kept popping up when the Stingrays needed her, able to link up well and drive the ball into danger zones. She had a shot herself seven minutes into the second term, but it dribbled to the right as she was brought down, and then though her second quarter was her most productive, she continued finding the ball throughout the second half and managed 16 disposals and five inside 50s.
The co-captain just stepped up when it counted with the game on the line in the third term. After playing her usual role in defence in the first half where she did well with her kicking down the ground, Eardley stationed herself at the Stingrays’ half-forward line to intercept any quick kicks out of the Ranges’ defence by opposition players. Despite kicking into the wind, Eardley held that line throughout the term and had a massive term, marking everything that came her way. At one stage she used her terrific vision to pinpoint Robinson with a perfect kick off the outside of the boot, and continued to hit targets. She even ran down an opposition Eastern player, balancing her offensive and defensive abilities. Eardley took a strong mark at centre half-forward in the final term and also hit up Butterworth on the lead. Crucial in the Stingrays’ third term performance.
#11 Emily Shepherd
Shepherd had a real mixed bag of a performance, but ultimately came up trumps when it counted. Converting the late goal from a set shot that just drifted over opposition hands on the goal line, it helped the Stingrays come back and run over the top of the Ranges. Shepherd tried to do too much at times and gave away a few free kicks for either overzealous tackles, or trying to take on too many opponents, but she also mixed that with some individual brilliance. She won clearances, had multiple shots on goal and had an outstanding spin out of trouble in the third term. Though she only managed the one goal, Shepherd found plenty of the ball and had a few crucial handballs in midfield.
#13 Taylah Gatt
One of the most impactful players going around, it was almost startling to read that Gatt only had the nine touches. Every time she goes near it, something seems to happen, and she is always looking to run and carry the ball forward. One of the higher ratios of bounces to disposals, Gatt backs herself to take the game on and get it inside 50. She can occasionally fumble it at ground level, but Gatt when taking possession, she has no issues taking grass, and she did just that in the final term when she took advantage of the stand rule inside 50, to draw opponents. and then dish off the handball to Crank to kick the winning goal in the final five minutes of the match.
#14 Felicity Crank
Like Eardley, the co-captain stepped up when the Stingrays needed a leader, and she really influenced the game in the second half. She had a terrific third term, racking up the ball at will and just getting involved in close, as well as when drifting forward. She offered herself as an option in transition, and though she finished with 18 disposals – 14 kicks – her best was undoubtedly the game sealer when she received the handball from Gatt and under immense pressure, put it on the boot and it sailed home.
Williamson was another player who creates so much run in transition that she catches the eye, reading it particularly well out of the back 50. Her execution by foot can still be tidied up, but her decision making is still good. Defensively Williamson was impressive, laying five tackles for the match, but looking to give-and-go at every opportunity, and like Gatt, her possessions caught the eye because of the amount of grass she took when bounding down the field.
#27 Charley Ryan
In an even team performance, Ryan produced the most consistent four-quarter effort of the lot, being influential across the ground be it in the middle, up forward or behind the ball. The athletic talent used the ball well by hand or foot and got involved at the stoppages, kicking a goal in the final five minutes of the first term after a strong grab at the top of the goalsquare. Her pinpoint pass to Williamson in the middle of the ground through the second term was s highlight, and even defensively she had some moments with a great smother on Busch in the last quarter. Ryan always looked to put the ball to the most damaging positions, and it usually paid off, hitting teammates inboard or in space, and using her vision well. Ryan could have had a second goal running in during the second term, but just missed when she probably had an extra split second to steady.
#44 Jaide Anthony
Anthony was another player who stepped up in the third term, becoming a strong force behind the ball and bombing it long. She did well into the breeze in both that term, and the first, with her long booming kick coming in handy. She had a flying shot on goal in the third quarter under pressure but just fell short. Late in the game, Anthony laid a great tackle on Deed and brought her down, and though she was quiet in patches, still had her moments to finish with 11 disposals, five tackles and three inside 50s.
After having some early moment, Hardy particularly came alive in the second half, winning a lot of he ball, particularly in the final term as she desperately tried to set up some forward assaults. She was clean by foot, and competed well in the air, finding space and getting involved in some one-twos across the ground, finishing as one of Eastern’s more prominent ball-winners.
#9 Mia Busch
The talented Vic Metro hub defender spent time through the midfield at times, and worked into the game after not having much to do in defence in the first term. She just kept getting better as the game went on, kicking well out of defence in. the second and third terms, working hard against the Stingrays’ forward pressure. Usually effective by hand or foot, Busch was thrown on-ball to try and really chance the momentum for the Ranges, and whilst she had a big fourth quarter to try and guide her side over the line – which included some impressive tackles – she could not quite do it. Overall she finished with 26 disposals, eight marks, seven tackles and five rebound 50s for the day to be one of the standout Ranges.
#13 Alyssia Pisano
A shattering end to the day for the talented bottom-ager who kicked three goals from four kicks and almost single-handedly dragged her side over the line from a scoreboard perspective. She went down with what looked to be a serious injury in the final minute of the game, but it did nor mare her performance on the day, having had limited opportunities – credit to the Dandenong defence – but looked like scoring every time she went near it, and she almost did.
#15 Bridget Deed
Yet another consistent performance from the AFLW-listed skipper who brought her own ball to Seaford. She won it time and time again in close, picked up multiple contested possessions and cracked in from start to finish. At some point there are few ways to describe Deed’s performance, as it has been rinse and repeat each and every week with rare consistency compared to her peers across the competition. So composed with ball in hand, she was clean, and set up Pisano’s final goal in the last term in what seemed like a huge boost for the Ranges’ chances.
#16 Isabelle Khoury
Another hard-at-it Eastern midfielder who had no problems accumulating the pill and looking to drive it inside 50. She cracked in time and time again to get her hands dirty and kick long down the ground, using it fairly well more often than not. In the end, she amassed 20 touches and three inside 50s, a lot of those coming in chains through the middle of the ground.
#18 Laura Stone
A standout performer for the Ranges throughout the four quarters, the bottom-ager just has some eye-catching offensive and defensive traits about her game. She ran down Amber Clarke in the middle, and then continued to apply pressure through tackling and had some fantastic defensive efforts. Offensively, Stone generated run from the defensive 50, either intercepting or picking up the loose ball and running down the ground to be a standout player in the first half for the Ranges. Though impressive then, she almost set up a winning goal going to Austin down the ground in the final minutes, and her composure in defence and with ball-in-hand when on the move was ultra-impressive.
#25 Cadhla Schmidli
The over-age defender was a key pillar in defence, and someone who was under immense pressure most of the time. Though she often dropped off her opponent to come across as a third player up or intercept mark, she read the ball in flight well and then looked to quickly move it on down the ground. She kept within her limitations and the atmosphere of the game, hitting up short targets, or when needed, kicking long to contests to minimise potential turnovers. In the second term she had a clean spoil going back with the flight.
#43 Mia Austin
An exciting prospect for this year, Austin is enjoying quite the season thus far, and that continued with two early goals in the game. She has a nice leap for a 178cm player who also can pull down contested grabs, which she did 15m out from goal early in the game. Austin made no mistake with the set shot, then she won a free kick for a tackle and also nailed that set shot, to head into quarter time with two snags to her name. Though she did not add to that tally over the next three quarters, Austin largely played further up the ground, and was used in transition, hitting targets with nice field kicking and a lovely technique, whilst also providing good pressure on her opponents.
By: Declan Reeve
Despite the loss through the midfield, Gilmour was a consistent road block from congestion for her Sandringham opponents, chasing relentlessly after any opponent that won the ball and applying great tackling pressure throughout the match, with 14 tackles an impressive haul for the game. Gilmour wasn’t just defence around the contest, with the occasions she managed to win the ball in space or from a pack generally resulting in a long kick forward to try and create something for her side.
#16 Ash Centra
It’s no surprise to see the 2006-born talent mentioned as one of the bests in any game she plays, but it felt like she stepped up against the Dragons. Centra’s work in the forward half was consistently exciting, with her strength in the air too difficult for Sandringham to shut down as she pulled in mark after mark, whether it was from a well timed lead to take it uncontested, or flying across a pack to hold a contested mark, there wasn’t an answer for what Centra was doing. Centra managed to secure Gippsland’s first major of the game where she stepped around an opponent on the lead to take it on the chest and put it through easily, but her direct goal assist for Gippsland’s second was arguably more impressive, as she controlled the ground ball well and fired out a darting handball to an oncoming teammate whilst being tackled. Centra has been spending an increasing amount of time in the midfield each week, but took on a new role against Sandringham as a relieving ruck at times, competing well in the hitouts but impressing most with her follow up work at ground level and ability to get from contest-to-contest.
#2 Keely Coyne
As composed as ever under pressure, Coyne continued her stellar form this season with her measured ball use and decision making, providing a few key moments for Sandringham, especially heading into attack. Coyne just seems to have minutes to asses her options where others have seconds and it showed through the contest, especially with a few plays in defence with Gippsland players swarming, when she was able to spot a target and hit it well to keep the ball in Sandringham’s possession.
#6 Zoe Barbakos
One that has impressed in her debut season as an over-ager, Barbakos was an electrifying presence in the forward half for Sandringham all game, as her speed and agility proved too much for Gippsland to contain. Having all the key traits of a small forward; speed, agility, goal sense and defensive pressure, Barbakos showed her ability on the lead and to read the ball in flight with her goals, with two coming from set shots on the boundary line and one coming as she ran into the space in a pack and took a chest mark. Barbakos’s work rate was key to Sandringham early on in the match, as she pushed onto the wings and laid tackles to allow the ball to get forward either through a free kick or her own follow up work.
#10 Bridie Hipwell
Playing majority of her time in the midfield, Hipwell was influential with every disposal she managed, setting up a few goals and looking dangerous around stoppages. With less time forward than has been typical of late, Hipwell was impressive with her set up work, looking for teammates making leads whenever she had the ball inside the attacking half, and hitting most of her targets by foot well by putting it in front of them to run onto. Even Hipwell’s rushed kicks seemed to work out for her, with her forwards able to read the ball better consistently and taking advantage of the scoring opportunities. Hipwell’s work in the air is a noted strength and this was no different, as she looked strong in one-on-ones as she took a few contested grabs, where she always looked to move the ball on quickly to a teammate.
#11 Tayla Jones
Getting more time as an inside midfielder than she’s been given recently, Jones made the most of her opportunity to impress, with her work through traffic and link up play stood out for much of the game. With her ability to time her runs well and burst out of stoppages, Jones was a constant danger, with one of the few times she was left unchecked seeing her win a clearance inside 50, power away from chasing opponents and slot a goal on a 45-degree angle.
#15 Sofia Hurley
With Hurley’s consistency throughout the season, it can become easy to take for granted the performances she puts in every week, however she made that almost impossible with her efforts on Sunday. Once again Hurley racked up disposals with ease, just able to work her way around opponents without much issue and spot a teammate to handball to in close, or put a kick forward into a damaging area. Her work in chain plays was impressive, often applying pressure or laying a tackle and then managing to get the ball back within the next couple of disposals with her work rate. Hurley spent some time forward and showed she could play a damaging role up there in future, with the opportunity to win more ball in space seeing her kicking be more damaging, and her reading of the ball off hands resulting in an impressive goal.
#58 Emily Gough
One of three debutants on the day for Sandringham, the bottom-aged tall was impressive with her work at ground level and her skills as she proved a danger up forward and a safe option in defence. The highlight of Gough’s game was her kicking, as she consistently got penetration behind her kicks and put them into good spots for her teammates to run onto, she looked dangerous whenever she had space in the attacking half. She didn’t rely on this however, looking just as damaging with her quick hands in close when in congestion, releasing teammates well to continue forward.
#63 Mia Zielinski
Once again was a centrepiece in the Sandringham forward line and often looked to when Sandringham were streaming forward, Zielenski proved again that she is a difficult player to stop for anyone with her speed on the lead, strength in the air and ability at ground level a dangerous combination of traits. Zielenski kicked two of her three goals directly from contested marks, where she demonstrated her strength one-on-one well, never giving away a free kick but doing enough to give herself the advantage in the contests.