IT is approaching the halfway mark of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season, with the teams able to enjoy a bye this weekend. Five rounds are down and seven more remain, though there is plenty to take out of the season thus far. Rookie Me Central recaps some of the major talking points from the 2022 season thus far.
A week is a long time in football, never mind a season, and Sturt is certainly proving that. Always known as the best defensive side, that has not changed, but in recent weeks, the Double Blues have unleashed on their opposition and moved up to be the second best scoring side as well. Unbeaten from five games, they are averaging a ridiculously stingy 16.4 points against, whilst putting up 45.8 points themselves. The defence of Kiera Mueller, Alex Ballard and Hannah Prenzler among others have been impenetrable at times, whilst the forward line of Ally Ladas, Alysha Healy and Abbey Rigter just keep kicking goals. The two key inclusions of Jasmyn Hewett and former Double Blues co-captain Georgia Bevan have also been superb.
THE EVENNESS OF THE LEAGUE
It has been by far the most even season yet in the SANFL Women’s competition, and that was no better emphasised when the bottom two teams from last year toppled the reigning grand finalists in Round 2. Sturt took down Glenelg, and Woodville-West Torrens upset West Adelaide leaving just one team with two wins – Sturt – and one without any wins – Central District after just two weeks of action. The Bulldogs won the following round to get on the board, and even now from third until eighth just four points separates the sides.
NORTH ADELAIDE THE DARK HORSE
The 2020 SANFL Women’s premiers North Adelaide is the side that is capable of anything on their day, lead by master coach Krissie Steen. They might be 3-2 on the ladder, but that masks up just how well the Roosters have played. A five-point loss to West Adelaide – when the Roosters almost came from the clouds to run over the top of them – and a three-point loss to Sturt in a one-goal game – are the only blemishes. Add in the fact that for the most part North Adelaide has been without its best side due to COVID-19 Heath and Safety Protocols, and it will be a huge danger when the whips are cracking. The Roosters have won the last two games by 46 and 51 points respectively, with the defence of Kristi Harvey, Erin Sundstrom, Ella Metcalfe and Jessica Edwards, and the scoring power of Hannah Ewings, Jade De Melo, Cristie Castle and Doreena Hansen, makes them a well-balanced outfit.
GLENELG FINDING YOUNG GUNS ON THE FLY
The reigning premiers just keep pulling incredibly young talents out of their junior development and giving them a chance at League level. In 2022, Matilda Scholz has held down a key ruck role and shone in her debut season, Ella Boag seamlessly transitioned from Development to League the past fortnight, and Poppy Scholz has shown promising development at the top level as well. Throw in the remarkable improvement of Sarah Goodwin and Piper Window who have stepped up from the year before and it is really a remarkably group of young players. That is before you get to the forward experience of Caitlyn Swanson and Chelsea Packer, and just quietly Jessica Bates would be right up there with the league’s best and fairest leaders at this point.
FUTURE IS BRIGHT FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA’S STATE ACADEMY
A few names have already featured in the 2005-born Window and Poppy Scholz and the 2006-born Matilda Scholz, but the coming years for the Croweaters State Academy looks so promising and a huge opportunity for both Adelaide and expansion club Port Adelaide to grow with all the youth coming through. Central District’s Georgia McKee, South Adelaide’s Shae Archbold and Sturt’s India Rasheed provide plenty of punch up forward, whilst bottom-age talent Molly Brooksby has been impressive for the Redlegs. In 2004, Ewings, Goodwin, West Adelaide’s Keeley Kustermann and Norwood duo Lana Schwerdt and Sachi Syme make up a good midfield core that is versatile, along with Eagles’ bottom-ager Shineah Goody. Then there is not to forget the state’s top prospect for next year, Westies’ Lauren Young who is currently missing the year with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Nonetheless, there is plenty to like about the future of South Australian football.