Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League Girls – Round 10
ROUND 10 brought the NAB League Girls regular season to a close for 2022, locking in all four finalists. With plenty to play for, there were several outstanding individual performances across the latest weekend of action. We highlight them in our next edition of Scouting Notes.
Note: All comments are opinion of the individual author.
By: Declan Reeve
#2 Reese Sutton
A brilliant performance from the Vic Metro squad member saw her create plenty of promising plays from the midfield, where she looked near untouchable around stoppages. Sutton has made her stoppage work her bread and butter through the season, consistently able to read the ball well off the rucks hands to get first hands to it, then quickly accelerate away to give herself time to weigh up how, and where, to dispose of it. Whilst Sutton started the game with a few long bombs out of stoppages, she quickly adjusted and started to use her time more effectively to hit handballs to outside runners, or thread one through traffic to a teammate that could move it on better.
Calder’s other Vic Metro representative, McDonald too was influential in her usual role down back, continuing on with the things she does best. She positioned aggressively all day behind the ball, always in contention to intercept any stray kick that came out of the pack or out of the forward 50 to send it right back in, but McDonald’s composure when under pressure in deep defence is what stood out most. There were a couple of times where she was outnumbered, but managed to win the ball and run it out of traffic, pushing players aside at times, then compose herself and place her kick well for a teammate.
#10 Jasmine Fleming
Playing in a new role in the back half, Fleming has added versatility to her long list of draftable traits in an impressive display. Whilst she had to adjust her game a little from how she usually plays, Fleming still managed to impress with how she followed up on her disposals, always running to try and get the ball back via hand to keep it moving forward, and tearing up Calder with her kicking. Fleming also showed solid positioning behind the ball, not always the one spoiling or marking a high kick, but always around to collect it at ground level or get a handball from a teammate to burst away.
#33 Maggie Mahony
Stepping up through the midfield with Fleming playing down back, Mahony managed to stand out with her work rate around the ground and disposal when in space. Whilst the 2024 draft eligible player was impressive in the midfield, Mahony also demonstrated that she can impact well up forward with her crumbing and read of the ball, even managing an impressive contested mark in the goal square to slot a major.
By: Liam Badkin
A clear best-on-ground performance, Dowling was simply fantastic in Geelong’s win. She made an impact all over the ground, but did her best work in the forward half, creating a score nearly every time she got the ball in space. It didn’t matter who was trying to defend her, Dowling had her way as she evaded would-be tacklers with her core strength and ability to keep her arms above her head. Also impressive was her ability to take the ball despite some tricky bounces, as she finished with a mammoth game of 28 touches and two snags.
#7 Sara Howley
The 2006-born talent was again amongst the best for Geelong on Saturday, providing plenty for her side as she worked her way into the match. Howley provided some seriously good run when she was stationed on half back, and this resulted in a game-high seven rebound 50s. Her defensive work also caught the eye, and there were plenty to see early on as she saved a certain goal by reading an attempted dribble kick and rushing the behind in the nick of time. Finishing with 28 disposals, her impact was pretty hard to ignore.
Simpson was great throughout the midfield as she continues her consistent season in a big way. While she didn’t rack up the most amount of touches on the ground, her impact with ball in hand cannot be understated. Simpson was ferocious with her attack on the ball, using her body to get in a ball-winning position. It was a 19-disposal outing and she even got on the scoreboard with a major, and she could have had a couple more had her shots on goal not proven wayward.
#1 Lila Keck
A terrific performance in a losing side, Keck was again Bendigo’s best thanks to her ability to find the ball and make it look easy. She started the game off by earning a free kick after laying a bone-crunching tackle at a midfield stoppage. Keck’s work rate allowed her disposal count to soar and she was the Pioneers’ best player in the first half when the game was up for grabs. She provided some run around the ground and fought hard until the final siren sounded, finishing with 23 touches for the day.
Demeo produced her best game of the season in the loss to the Falcons, proving a shining light on a tough day for her club. She displayed relentless attack on the contest and her work rate was as good as anyone’s on the ground. On a day where quite a few players struggled to maintain control of the ball, Demeo’s cleanliness below her knees certainly caught the eye. She topped the disposal count for her side with 23 touches, 18 of these being kicks.
#10 Keely Fullerton
Fullerton impacted the game whenever she was given the opportunity despite the final result. She started the game well and found quite a bit of the ball in the first term, and booted the first major of the game, sneaking a kick out in the middle of a pack. When the game was tight in the second quarter, Fullerton found plenty of space and could have hit the scoreboard even more, but missed her next two shots. On a day where Bendigo had a lack of forward presence, Fullerton was certainly a positive to take out of the game.
By: Michael Alvaro
Duursma is a prospect who has been trialled in a few different positions this year, but returned to a relatively familiar role on the wing in this outing. Enjoying expanses of the outside, Duursma pushed forward hard and got Gippsland going on the attack. She was classy moving away from traffic, showing a swift turn of speed and keeping her hands up to get a handball away when required. She rose to the occasion in the final term when Gippsland was pressuring for a goal, kicking one to give the Power a real chance at winning. That was not to be, but the top-ager got her game going in a solid performance.
#16 Ash Centra
There are some players who can win games off their own boot, and despite being a double under-ager, Centra very nearly did that for Gippsland. The mercurial forward started like a house on fire, booting the first two goals of the game with a set shot and classy finish on the run. Her dynamism and athleticism were on full show, as she dominated inside 50 with her clean hands and ability to duck out of traffic with serious power. With every disposal, Centra looked to make something happen and could easily have ended up with seven or eight goals. She kicked one more in the fourth term to put the Power in front despite looking sore, but saw several other shots fall short, spray across the face of goal, or narrowly miss. With more consistent finishing, she will be an absolute weapon for Gippsland in the next few years.
#23 Lulu Beatty
Beatty was one who worked into the game steadily, mostly because she started forward and hardly saw the ball pass halfway in the opening term. With many more looks thereafter, the Vic Metro squad member did well to link Northern into attack as she worked high up the ground, before shifting into midfield. She got her hands on the ball with greater ease after half time, but can work on making the most of each disposal as she constantly looks to move the ball forward.
#37 Rylie Wilcox
It might not have been a massive day for Wilcox numbers-wise, but the standout Knights prospect had some sensational moments throughout the four quarters. Stationed out on the wing, she worked hard both ways at different stages of the game – sweeping back when the Knights were under the pump early, then jetting into attack as they made their run late. Her evasive skills were impossible to blanket, with Wilcox’s ability to turn on a dime and accelerate away making many an opponent look utterly silly. She constantly seemed to find a way to lose her opponent, and the perfect example of her smarts came with the game-sealing goal, where Wilcox got to a loose ball first and split towards goal in a flash before converting from close range. That was her second goal in the final term – talk about stepping up when it counts.
By: Peter Williams
The Stingrays midfielder put together another strong performance as the Vic Country representatives returned, showing she was of the same ilk, and one of the best ball users out on the park. She is able to lower the eyes and hit pinpoint passes at half-forward or going inside 50, and won a free kick for being held in the second term at a stoppage, then converting the set shot goal. One particular highlight from her midfield game was in the final term where she burst out of the middle and hit-up Clarke at half-forward with precision.
The best-on regardless of stats for mine, because she was simply outstanding when the game was there to be won. Tasmania attacked with everything the Devils had in the second term, and Eardley was pulling down grabs left, eriht and centre, and if she did not mark it, she would calmly dispose of the ball whilst under pressure. She stepped up when they needed her to, and she is one of the few key defenders who knows when to play high and have that attacking mindset, and then when to play deep and be the anchor on the last line. Long 50-plus metre bombs from full-back also helped her clear her team’s danger zone.
#6 Amber Clarke
A very productive performance from Clarke after a quieter than expected first-up Vic Country showing. She looked lively and dangerous with ball-in-hand, and had the time and space she was not afforded to in that Mars Stadium clash. She had several shots on goal, and should have had the opener but it just bounced the wrong way. Her best individual play came with a smooth, clean leap over defender Amy Prokopiec before going back to nail the set shot. Earlier in the first term, she showed great vision to spot a free Shepherd close to goal to hit her up in the corridor straight in front of goal.
#11 Emily Shepherd
The beneficiary of her side’s overwhelming inside 50s in the first term and second half, Shepherd played permanent forward and was able to come away with a career-high five goals in the wing. The Stingrays forward looked set for a massive game with three goals in the opening term, the best of which was a tight angle set shot in the final minute of the term. Though the game through the middle quarters was predominantly an arm-wrestle, Shepherd bobbed up again in the last to kick a great snap off the right crumbing the ball well off hands, then nudged her opponent out of the way to mark 45m out and kick the set shot. Shepherd showed the advantages of the stand rule by running around and gaining the extra 10m to slot the goal on the run.
Without her usual midfield teammates in there, the bottom-age AFLW Academy member pieced together a strong performance to be the Devils’ best. She just kept racking tup the ball around the ground and working hard at the stoppages. She uses the ball well and has the game sense that late in the second term she was able to use the stand rule to perfection, to run around her opponent on the mark just inside 50 to straighten and kick the goal from 35m for the last kick of the quarter to cut the half-time deficit to seven points. A renowned tackler herself, Barwick is very good at also drawing free kicks, both through her height for high free kicks – she stands at 158cm – and also when going to ground, knowing when to use the forward momentum for opponents to land in her back.
#24 Georgia Clark
The bottom-age forward did not need to hit the scoreboard in order to catch the eye with her leading patterns, movement and presence in the forward half of the ground. She leads out well, and despite often being accompanied by a very close defender, she can use her clean hands to take strong grabs. She set up a couple of goals in the opening term, and then nearly nailed a set shot from 40m that was just touched on the line. Clark is athletic enough to spin out of trouble as she did in the second quarter, and then almost pulled out the party tricks in the third with a dribbling attempt, but it just missed.
By: Peter Williams
The outstanding talent had a day she might rather forget, but it had nothing to do with her performance, given she was arguably best on ground prior to coming off in the first half. Unfortunately after copping a knock in a tackle and having to come off once, Goldsworthy returned to the field, only to soccer through a goal then collide with the goal post and had to be stretchered off. Her work prior to that was impressive, having amassed 13 disposals in around 25 minutes of game time and being a real strong force at the stoppages and kicking forward. Though her debut NAB League Girls season did not end the way she would have liked, Goldsworthy was the only player to kick a goal in nine games this season, every one she played.
In terms of consistent ball-winning across the four quarters Hamilton was arguably the most balanced on her way to 28 touches and 2.2. She could have had a massive day out had she been able to convert her other chances – which were very gettable – but her overall impact on the game was still profound. The wing would probably like her time again in the second term running into goal, missing the goal from two metres out running in, but she made up with it thanks to back-to-back goals in the third term off the back of some hard running. She had one chance that hit the post from 40m out and another set shot late that missed, but it was not just her forward half work that caught the eye. Hamilton ran hard defensively and got her touches all over the ground, and she laid a strong tackle in the second term to win a free kick as one example of her hard defensive attitude.
#17 Keeley Skepper
Definitely one of her best games for the year, Skepper played a bit of everywhere from defence, to midfield and even snuck forward to kick a couple of goals. She had her second 30-plus disposal game, and the co-captain was able to provide some run and carry down the ground. Skepper’s hard running earned her a goal from two metres out when Mindy Quade unselfishly gave off the set shot – which funnily enough would have won Quade the outright NAB League Girls goalkicking medal – but Skepper also created a long-range goal of her own with a thumping kick from 45m bouncing home to cut the deficit back to two points in what would end up being the last goal of the game. Her defensive pressure – such asa a good smother on the wing in the final term – as well as her teamwork – such as setting up Hamilton for a goal – really stood out.
#22 Grace Hay
A clear best on ground for her work in defence, Hay was a rock at centre half-back being able to not only intercept anything that came her way, but provide support for her teammates and really drive out of defence. She was fantastic with her reading of the play in flight, and also knowing when to run and receive, and when to just bomb it long out of the danger zone. So often tasked with the kickouts, Hay was consistent throughout the match, and always to the right spots. She was safe with both her hands and feet, and whilst others might have lost their composure at times, the defender was a reliable source to go back to for her disposal.
#27 Tayissa Gray
Gray returned to the side this week and had an okay start to the game, but it was her second half where she really came to the fore. Being a real running machine, Gray took the game on and took grass time ad time again as she looked to haul her side over the line. She set up a goal in the third term with a nice placed kick to Hamilton, then had a number of running bounces off half-back and sliced up the opposition defence by looking inboard with that slick 45-degree kick. Gray has a long kick that can be effective, and though it is not always deadly, her short-to-medium passes are generally pinpoint. She took a great intercept mark on the wing late in the game and thumped the ball inside 50, to finish as one of the more prolific Bushrangers on the day.
#7 Grace Whittaker
A clever bottom-age talent who is an exciting prospect along with Campbell for next year, Whittaker just has that goal sense and can do so much damage with limited touches. She could have had a big bag of goals had things gone right for her, finishing with 2.2 from 12 disposals. She took a good mark early in the game but her set shot missed to the left, though it easily travelled the 50m. She did managed to hit the scoreboard twice in the second half with a clever opening goal off the outside of the boot in the third term, then effectively put the icing on the cake later in the third with another great goal. She just knows where to go, and what to do to be impactful and damaging inside 50.
#19 J’Noemi Anderson
As the sole Northern Territory top-age AFLW Academy member, Anderson was looked at as a prolific ball-user through the middle and the player that teammates wanted to utilise going forward. She cracked in as you would expect, and is able to move smoothly enough to be a worry for opposition players. Anderson still has to tidy up her ball use at times as she can rush a bit, and her quarter-to-quarter consistency. One example is her set shot from 35m did not connect well and fell short, but then she kicked a great goal from the top of 50m just a few minutes into the third term. She then set up a goal to Whittaker in the goalsquare with a nice centring kick.
#22 Kyanne Campbell
The dangerous and clever forward showed why she is a member of the AFLW Academy with some clever sidestepping inside 50 and being able to have outstanding goal sense. She kicked a major in the opening goal of the term by tracking the ball, and then using composure to get around her opponent and kick a major. The second term, Campbell shrugged off a would-be Skepper tackle to dart inside and then snap around her body for her second major. Campbell set up a goal to a teammate with a nice sidestep and quick hands inside 50, and was quite often involved in some way when it came to scoring chains.
By: Michael Alvaro
On what ended up being a tough day for the Ranges, Hardy certainly had her positive moments. Out on the wing as usual, she worked hard both ways to link in and out of the arcs and often lost her direct opponent in doing so. Her running capacity on the spread allowed her to make important defensive efforts in the D50, and also send the ball towards goal in the F50. That was the crux of her game, a solid one once more for the over-ager.
#9 Mia Busch
Stationed almost exclusively in defence for this outing, Busch continued to be Eastern’s possession recovery specialist in important areas of the ground. While a touch quieter than usual, she was typically aggressive in her efforts to intercept and was consistently able to split or win contests she impacted. Adding some chest marks behind the ball to her game, the only thing that was arguably missing was Busch’s ability to use the ball effectively in full flight. Her kicking fell short at times when pressured on the run, but that is nothing the top-ager can’t polish up before finals.
#44 Ava Campbell
There was plenty for Campbell and her fellow defenders to do on Sunday, and the bottom-ager went about her work neatly. Intercept marking is clearly her key strength, and that was proven as Campbell snapped up several Western clearances with clean marks before distributing the ball calmly. She looked more comfortable reading the ball aerially but also did enough at ground level, and stood up at times when the Jets midfield was well on top, sending the ball her way frequently.
Baskaran has added so many strings to her bow this year and continued to showcase her evolution with another outstanding performance. While she held her width well and benefitted from some of Montana Ham’s inside work, the Western skipper was unbelievably clean off the deck and drove her legs to accelerate through stoppages with genuine speed. Not only did she win possessions at the contest, but spread well away from it to accumulate a game-high 29 disposals. Among her highlights for the day was an angle-changing kick to the forward 50 arc, displaying Baskaran’s elite decision making and skills. She could have added a bit of polish to many other kicks, but was generally tidy and even added a goal on the run in term four. As far as midfielders go, there are few more complete overall and accomplished at stoppages than Baskaran.
#27 Caitlin Sargent
Fresh off a fine performance for Vic Metro last week, Sargent had no trouble hitting the scoreboard on Sunday. She ended up with a game-high three goals, including her side’s first, and did most of her damage within 20 metres of the big sticks. Sargent’s reactions and reading of the play gave her the edge in one-on-one contests inside 50, but she also worked up the ground at times as a marking target. Overall, job done.
#38 Montana Ham
The second of Western’s star midfielders and another who has developed her game beautifully this year, Ham was a force to be reckoned with on Sunday. The combination of her size and wickedly clean hands proved impossible for Eastern to combat at stoppages, as the top-ager fed her teammates time and time again with silver service on the inside. When able to burst away into space herself, Ham took as much ground as possible and was not afraid to bullock her way forward through the corridor. Ham’s overhead marking ability was also on show, as was her booming kick when required. In another ominous performance, she again brought all of the dynamism that has her pegged as a top prospect.
By: Declan Reeve
#2 Keely Coyne
One of the more consistent Dragons players through the year, Coyne ended her season no differently, bringing her standard class and composure through the midfield to set up some key plays for Sandringham. Coyne’s work by foot was arguably at its most impressive for the season, particularly in the first half where she managed to turn on a dime and hit some corridor kicks going forward
#12 Fern O’Brien
The under-ager has been one that’s been a constant in the Sandringham side for the season, but with the Dragons looking to switch the ball often and get it to outside runners on Sunday she managed to really stamp her influence on the game. O’Brien’s work rate up and down the ground was impressive, gut running to get to the right spots on the outside to get the ball, then working just as hard to get it to a teammate further down the field.
#15 Sofia Hurley
Unsurprisingly, Hurley was again the standout from the Dragons in their final game of the season, displaying her elite work rate and ability to win the ball on the inside or outside. Hurley’s kicking has made positive steps with each appearance, and Sunday was no different as she started to hit more and more targets, even under pressure, generally putting it in front of her teammates to run onto.
#5 Paige Scott
Saving her best performance for the year to the last NAB League game she’s likely to play, Scott was truly the fire starter for the Rebels impressive comeback in the second half. Whilst she was relatively quiet early on, she still made her mark on the game with how often she flew for marks, or dived on the ball to try and win it and handball it off. It didn’t take long from the start of the third for Scott to ‘turn it on’, kicking the first of her three goals with a good set shot from 50 out. Her second came in the same quarter, after she reacted quickly to a snap kick from the boundary and took a chest mark in the goal square. Before she kicked her final goal in the final term, she put in good efforts to set up others with her work at ground level in the forward half, eventually getting her third after an impressive bit of body work in the goal square to take a mark and convert.
Whilst Rentsch didn’t win the most amount of ball, her run and carry work from the back line and wing was pivotal in allowing the Rebels to get opportunities inside 50, as she worked hard to be a releasing handball option from the inside and burnt opponents with her speed. Whilst her disposal was shaky at times, more often than not Rentsch kicked it to advantageous spots for her teammates to run onto.
#22 Molly Walton
Walton’s work rate around the ground and repeat efforts with her defensive acts have been a staple of her game all year, and these traits were crucial in turning the tide for the Rebels in the second half. Walton constantly cracked in to win the ball or pressure opponents, but balanced her approach to the contest well, seemingly always knowing whether she should go for an inside ball or hold her space to receive it on the outside. Walton’s work rate wasn’t just defensively focused for the game, as she ran hard to be a marking option for her teammates, and followed up with clean ball use, giving her forwards the best opportunity to win the ball.