THE NAB League Girls finals picture is becoming clearer after the second-to-last regular season round, with only upsets and seismic percentage shifts able to usurp the current Country and Metro standings. While Under 18 representative action caught plenty of eyes this weekend, a full set of fixtures went ahead across Victoria and Tasmania. We recap all six games in our weekly wrap.
By: Peter Williams
An eye-catching performance from Western Jets Under 16s star Lou-Lou Field helped set up a remarkable win for the second placed Metro side, officially booking their spot in the finals. The Jets overcame the GWV Rebels up at Mars Stadium on Saturday, and had to come back from a quarter time deficit, before holding the home team scoreless in the last three quarters to run out 8.8 (56) to 2.2 (14) victors.
Both sides were missing some key players due to the AFLW Under 18 Championships clash between Vic Country and Vic Metro the next day at the same venue, and it allowed other players to step up. After the Jets kicked the first major through Tamara Henry, the Rebels went back-to-back with Lily Jordan and Brook Ward slotting majors and the home team took an eight-point lead into the first break. Unfortunately for them, they would not score again as the visitors piled on 7.8 in the final three quarters, including three majors to Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner to comfortably secured the 44-point win. One of Weston-Turner’s majors, from legitimately the distance of the centre circle, was one of the longest NAB League Girls on record.
Weston-Turner was the biggest threat up forward with 3.1 from 12 disposals and five inside 50s, but it was the work of Field – playing in defence then moving into midfield – that really stood out. Amongst the pressure and scrappy play at times, Field was incredibly clean by hand or foot, and able to evade opponents with ease. She picked up 20 disposals, six marks – mostly intercept – eight tackles, seven inside 50s and six rebound 50s to by far be the best on ground in the win. Fellow Under 16s talent Sierra Grieves also caught the eye with 20 disposals, two marks, three tackles, six inside 50s and a goal, whilst the more experienced names of Kiera Leare, Trinity Skenderis and Stephanie Asciak controlled the midfield. A special mention to Akima Manoah, who did well in the ruck to lay a game-high 14 tackles and have 24 hitouts against strong opposition.
Rebels captain Lilli Condon tried to lift the young team on her shoulders, racking up 31 touches, five inside 50s, four rebound 50s and laying a team-high 13 tackles in a hard-working defensive effort. Also providing some support were Olivia Leonard (19 disposals, nine tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and returning ruck Kalani Scoullar (six disposals, two tackles, 26 hitouts and three rebound 50s). Madeline Seebeck (14 disposals, six tackles, and 10 rebound 50s) also defended against some serious heat.
The Western Jets take on Eastern Ranges for the first of a two-game series effectively, with the Round 10 clash at Healesville Football Ground on Sunday effectively a pre-cursor to the first week of finals the following weekend. Meanwhile GWV Rebels travel to RSEA Park on the same day to face Sandringham Dragons at 1pm.
GWV REBELS 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)
WESTERN JETS 1.0 | 5.4 | 6.5 | 8.8 (56)
GWV: L. Jordan, B. Ward
Western: K. Weston-Turner 3, K. Leare, S. Grieves, B. Page, H. Juricskay, T. Henry
GWV: L. Condon, O. Leonard, M. Seebeck, K. Scoullar, T. Crabtree
Western: L. Field, K. Weston-Turner, S. Grieves, K. Leare, A. Manoah
RMC MEDAL VOTES:
5 – Lou-Lou Field (Western Jets)
4 – Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner (Western Jets)
3 – Sierra Grieves (Western Jets)
2 – Lilli Condon (GWV Rebels)
1 – Kiera Leare (Western Jets)
By: Michael Alvaro
Despite missing a slew of stars, the Dandenong Stingrays extended their perfect record to 9-0 with a 21-point win over Northern Knights at Parade College on Saturday afternoon. The ladder leading region made a hot start in the Bundoora heat, booting three unanswered goals in the opening term. Despite being reigned back in the second, the ‘Rays kept Northern goalless thereafter to grind out their 5.9 (39) to 2.6 (18) road win.
With eight players committed to Country duties this week, the Stingrays unearthed some under-age talent and shuffled the magnets to allow others to enjoy greater responsibility. Among them, Olivia Robinson was outstanding as the leading ball winner and only player to snare multiple goals. Country emergency Sarah Hosking provided great run on the outer alongside Mikayla Williamson, while Jemma Ramsdale proved aggressive in her defensive duties and Brooke Smith looked solid in her long-awaited return from injury.
The Knights were served well by their experienced campaigners, headlined by Tarrah Delgado. The usual defender also spent time in midfield and up forward, but it was Maykaylah Appleby who proved most lively in attack to register exactly half of her side’s total score. Metro squad member Lulu Beatty was also productive, as was forward Ella Smallacombe as she worked up the ground to clunk a game-high nine marks.
In the lead up to finals, Dandenong takes on the Tasmania Devils at The Hangar on Saturday afternoon, looking to cement an unblemished regular season record. Meanwhile, Northern will hope to end its season on a positive note when it travels to Churchill to take on the Gippsland Power.
NORTHERN KNIGHTS 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.6 (18)
DANDENONG STINGRAYS 3.4 | 4.5 | 5.8 | 5.9 (39)
Northern: M. Appleby, D. Cooper
Dandenong: O. Robinson 2, H. Monk, C. Siwes, O. Laity
Northern: T. Delgado, L. Beatty, E. Smallacombe, M. Appleby, A. Fitzpatrick
Dandenong: O. Robinson, S. Hosking, J. Ramsdale, E. Butler, H. Monk
RMC MEDAL VOTES:
5 – Olivia Robinson (Dandenong Stingrays)
4 – Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights)
3 – Sarah Hosking (Dandenong Stingrays)
2 – Lulu Beatty (Northern Knights)
1 – Ella Smallacombe (Northern Knights)
By: Toby Mew
The Eastern Ranges have cemented top spot in the Metro pool with a 75-point walloping of the Geelong Falcons. The Ranges were simply too fast and strong for a depleted Falcons outfit, running amok around the ground. The Ranges impressed with their fast ball movement and pinpoint disposal by foot. The Falcons showed some promising moments, but were ultimately unable to capitalise.
Eastern was led by Isabelle Khoury with an influential 31 disposals, with plenty of support from Hayley McLaughlin and Jade Hutchinson. Georgia Wilson and Georgia Knight were the beneficiaries of the thumping win, picking up three goals each. Matilda Hardy and Matilda Kelly added some extra flair with their kicking ability, whilst Georgie Pruden did everything needed from her as a forward.
Ashleigh Van Loon had another strong game laying a game-high 13 tackles and crashing every stoppage. She was supported by Johanna Sunderland and Kara Stacey, who each played a significant role with their run and carry. Sara Howley put in another quietly underrated performance, and Jess Woods stepped up in defence in her first game of the season with several strong marks.
Round 10, the final game of the home and away season sees Geelong host the Bendigo Pioneers. Eastern will return home to face the Western Jets in a battle for second position on the ladder.
GEELONG FALCONS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 3.0 (18)
EASTERN RANGES 4.2 | 6.5 | 10.9 | 14.9 (93)
Geelong: K. Stacey, B. Gilham, K. Woods
Eastern: G. Wilson 3, G. Knight 3, J. Hutchison 2, J. Hose 2, G. Brisbane 2, M. Bourne, I.
Geelong: A. Van Loon, K. Stacey, J. Sunderland, S. Howley, S. Huxtable
Eastern: I. Khoury, J. Hutchison, G. Wilson, G. Pruden, M. Kelly
RMC MEDAL VOTES:
5 – Isabelle Khoury (Eastern Ranges)
4 – Jade Hutchison (Eastern Ranges
3 – Georgia Wilson (Eastern Ranges)
2 – Ashleigh Van Loon (Geelong Falcons)
1 – Georgie Pruden (Eastern Ranges)
By: Michael Alvaro
The Calder Cannons took down Metro rival Sandringham Dragons to the tune of 30 points on Sunday, putting the home side back on the winners list at Highgate Recreation Reserve. Despite trailing at the first break and seeing just two goals shared between the sides in the opening half, Calder turned the screws with a four-goal to nil third quarter to set up a comfortable 7.10 (52) to 3.4 (22) final scoreline.
Four players lead Calder’s disposal count at 21, though Tahlia Read was the only one to hit the scoreboard. 2006-born talent Kyla Forbes notched two behinds, while Heidi Woodley (five inside 50s) and Kayley Kavanagh (nine tackles) impacted in other ways. Chloe Baker-West was another who showed promise, snaring a goal from 18 touches along with over-ager Mali McLeod. Maddison Ford was the game’s only multiple goalkicker.
Sandringham was also served by a mix of its experienced and younger talent. Over-ager Pia Staltari was the only Dragon to tick up over 20 disposals, with fellow 2003-birth Charlotte Ryan managing 17 and five tackles. Up forward, attacking centrepiece Mia Zielinski booted 1.2 to provide some scoring inspiration for her side. Fellow under-agers Shaedyn Aylen, Meg Webster, and debutant Annabelle Embelton were also solid in the losing effort.
The Cannons will have another Craigieburn clash to see out their season, as they take on the Oakleigh Chargers on Saturday morning. While those two regions kick off Round 10, the Dragons and GWV Rebels will round out the regular season when they lock horns at RSEA Park on Sunday afternoon.
CALDER CANNONS 0.0 | 1.6 | 5.9 | 7.10 (52)
SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.4 (22)
Calder: M. Ford 2, O. Manfre, T. Read, M. McLeod, A. Britt, C. Baker-West
Sandringham: M. Zielinski, E. Sciberras, A. Luca
Calder: K. Forbes, K. Kavanagh, H. Woodley, T. Read, M. McLeod
Sandringham: P. Staltari, M. Zielinski, C. Ryan, M. Webster, A. Embelton
RMC MEDAL VOTES:
5 – Kyla Forbes (Calder Cannons)
4 – Kayley Kavanagh (Calder Cannons)
3 – Pia Staltari (Sandringham Dragons)
2 – Mia Zielinski (Sandringham Dragons)
1 – Tahlia Read (Calder Cannons)
By: Michael Alvaro
Tasmania took full toll on a weakened Bendigo Pioneers outfit on Sunday, earning a thumping 106-point win at North Hobart Oval. Even without starting midfielders Claire Ransom and Priya Bowering, the Devils kicked the first 13 goals of the game unanswered across three quarters, before Maddie Elliott registered Bendigo’s one and only major of the day in term four. In the end, it was a comprehensive 16.17 (113) to 1.1 (7) beating.
Five of Tasmania’s six goalkickers kicked multiples, lead by four each from Georgia Clark and Shania Saward. Clark was best afield for her eight scoring shots from 24 disposals and nine marks, while fellow forward Bellah Parker managed nine (3.6) from 18 touches and five marks. In terms of the major ball winners, Madison Brazendale notched 21 disposals, as Jenna Griffiths had 19 and six inside 50s – clear career-best numbers.
With some experienced talent out of the side, 2006-born prospect Lucia Painter lead all comers by far with 28 disposals (22 kicks) and a competition record 16 rebound 50s in her side’s defeat. Bottom-agers Catlin Evans and Lila Keck were also productive for the Pios, with Elliott finishing as their lone goalkicker on a tough trip over Bass Strait. The positives will come out of the experienced gained by their younger brigade.
To finish their 2022 campaign, the Pioneers face an all-country clash against Geelong Falcons on Saturday morning with both sides set to be replenished after Sunday’s championship game. Meanwhile, the Devils travel to Tullamarine to take on Dandenong in what looms as a tricky final task before the national carnival gets into full swing.
TASMANIA DEVILS 5.5 | 7.9 | 13.13 | 16.17 (113)
BENDIGO PIONEERS 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 (7)
Tasmania: G. Clark 4, S. Saward 4, B. Parker 3, A. Bissett 2, R. Pacey 2, J. Griffiths
Bendigo: M. Elliott
Tasmania: G. Clark, B. Parker, S. Saward, M. Brazendale, J. Griffiths
Bendigo: L. Painter, L. Keck, C. Evans, K. Fullarton, S. Orritt
RMC MEDAL VOTES:
5 – Georgia Clark (Tasmania Devils)
4 – Bellah Parker (Tasmania Devils)
3 – Lucia Painter (Bendigo Pioneers)
2 – Shania Saward (Tasmania Devils)
1 – Madison Brazendale (Tasmania Devils)
By: Michael Alvaro
A steep second half turnaround saw Murray beat the Gippsland Power by seven points on Sunday, in what was easily the tightest contest of Round 9. The Bushrangers found themselves three goals down at the first two breaks, but chipped back to hit the front in term three by a single point. The lead changed five times from midway through the third quarter, but Murray ended up on top in the 8.6 (54) to 7.5 (47) thriller.
Both sides were among the least affected by Vic Country selection, with Gippsland having just one representative play on Sunday. It meant experienced heads like Sunday Brisbane (24 disposals) and Alisha Molesworth (19, seven tackles) remained, guiding promising under-agers. Among them, Ash Centra and Shanae Hawker found the goals, while Ella Stoddart and Jemma Birss provided some rebound power.
It was no surprise to see Zarlie Goldsworthy top the stats sheet for disposals with 27 and 2.1, including the goal to put Murray ahead in term four. Zara Hamilton also ticked up over 20 touches, while Ellie Hall had 19 and kicked a goal, and Mindy Quade was her usual self as an attacking target. Talls Molly Kennedy and Destiny Dodd also returned all-round performances.
The final round of NAB League Girls action sees Gippsland return home for another outing in Churchill, this time against the Northern Knights on Saturday afternoon. The Bushrangers will play a day later at Highgate Recreation Reserve, welcoming the Northern Territory Thunder for their one-off appearance in the competition.
MURRAY BUSHRANGERS 1.2 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 8.6 (54)
GIPPSLAND POWER 4.2 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 7.5 (47)
Murray: M. Quade 2, Z. Goldsworthy 2, T. Power 2, R. Hetherington, E. Hall
Gippsland: A. Centra 2, T. Burn 2, B. Whyte, A. Howe, S. Hawker
Murray: Z. Goldsworthy, Z. Hamilton, E. Hall, M. Quade, M. Kennedy
Gippsland: A. Centra, S. Hawker, A. Molesworth, S. Brisbane, E. Stoddart, J. Birss
RMC MEDAL VOTES:
5 – Zarlie Goldsworthy (Murray Bushrangers)
4 – Ash Centra (Gippsland Power)
3 – Zara Hamilton (Murray Bushrangers)
2 – Ellie Hall (Murray Bushrangers)
1 – Shanae Hawker (Gippsland Power)