Scouting Notes: 2022 NAB League Girls – Grand Final

WESTERN Jets celebrated their first ever flag in club history, defeating Dandenong Stingrays with the last kick of the game to win by six points, 7.5 (47) to 5.11 (41). There were plenty of impressive individual performances, and we took note of some of the standouts in the 2022 NAB League Girls Grand Final.

Note: All notes are the opinion of the author.

Dandenong Stingrays:

#4 Olivia Robinson

Capping off a brilliant top age campaign, Robinson worked hard as she always does through the midfield for Dandenong, often within the first two possessions out of stoppage as she did clean work in tight. Robinson found herself in space more often than she has done in recent weeks, able to fully utilise her damage by foot at times with some pinpoint kicks heading forward, there was one that came after she intercepted on the forward 50, quickly hitting a leading forward afterwards right in front of goal.

#6 Amber Clarke

Despite the loss, Clarke stood head and shoulders above the rest coming out with the Best on Ground Medal at the end of the game. Clarke played almost exclusively in the midfield for the contest where her burst speed was unmatched at times as she found ways to win the ball at will, and looked especially dangerous around stoppages where her read of the play shined above the competition. Clarke’s workrate was crucial at times in stopping some promising Western plays, pressuring well in the forward half or gut running to lay smothers on opponents. Unsurprisingly Clarke’s ball use was well measured throughout, knowing when she needed to kick a long ball to clear space, or when to draw an opponent in and hand off to a runner. Clarke still found ways to impact the scoreboard despite a higher amount of midfield time, snagging two goals, one from handballing to a teammate and then following up for a one two, and the other a more ‘classic’ Amber Clarke goal, where she managed to get one-on-one and beat her opponent in a footrace for a loose ball heading back to goal.

#10 Brooke Smith

Had more of an impact on the contest than her seven disposals would suggest. Smith’s positioning behind the ball was crucial at stages in the game to stopping some promising Western attacking chances, as was her tackling pressure as she never gave up a chase on an opponent. Smith’s ball use was exceptional when she won it, always making the best decisions with it and executing well to the advantage of teammates.

#11 Emily Shepherd

Shepherd’s composure and cleanliness with the ball was a stand out for most of the contest, but particularly early on when the pressure was high and the legs were still fresh, she had a few moments where she held her ground well and managed to deliver a damaging disposal out. Despite ending the day 1.4 on the scoreboard, Shepherd’s continued efforts with her leading and tackling inside 50 were impressive and a big reason she managed to get shots away in the first place.

#13 Taylah Gatt

Whilst Gatt did not seem to have her usual impact in the early stages of the game, her final quarter of the 2021 season was superb. At a time where Western had all the moment and the pressure was rising, Gatt held her composure and won two crucial back-to-back clearances despite being on the wing, managing to hold her space well and then make a run at the right time to win the ball off the ground. Her kicking was at a high standard for most of the match, put in front of teammates more often than not.

#26 Charlotte Blair

Another whose impact was felt more than the 16 disposals suggest, Blair continued to what she has done through the season when unleashed through the midfield, with her two way running and speed with ball in hand standout features of her game. Blair seemed to gain more confidence as the contest went on and backed her speed more and more throughout, with that drive giving Dandenong good opportunities up forward.

Western Jets:

#1 Charlotte Baskaran

A strong game from the now premiership captain saw her top the disposal charts for her side, winning most of her touches in close, Baskaran balanced her disposal well between kicking forward and handing off to runners with more space, making the right decision more often than not that saw Western gain some good opportunities from her initial disposal. Baskaran embraced her role as Western’s number one midfielder fully, committed to not only winning the ball but also getting it back from opposition as she led the game for tackles.

#13 Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner

A player sure to excite at the next level, and one to look for in next year’s draft crop, Weston-Turner just got spectators excited every time she was near the ball. Every time Weston-Turner won the ball, she’d back her speed in footraces and go for a run, attempting bounces despite the dewy conditions and keeping the ball moving forward with her efforts. Weston-Turner got on the scoreboard with an impressive show of evasion skill, winning the ball in the middle of the 50 and spinning around her opponent to snap it through, with another opportunity later on coming from an impressive one-on-one chest mark, with the set shot drifting to the right.

#17 Lou-Lou Field

It’s remarkable at only 15-years-old Field managed to have such an impact on the biggest game in the competition, with composure beyond her years seeing her play an influential role, particularly in the second half. Field got more and more aggressive with her positioning as the game went on, beginning to intercept the ball higher up the ground and sending it back inside 50 with her damaging kick. Field was dangerous in the air when around the ball, holding a couple of contested marks in the defensive half and backing herself to hit a target long with the free kick.

#24 Laura Elliott

Usually one to earn most of her disposals from intercept marks, Elliott was more involved in open play than we’ve perhaps become accustomed to over the season. Elliott was similar to Field with her positioning behind the ball, pushing up to win it higher up the ground and get it off to a teammate to allow Western to get forward quickly. Elliott linked up well with teammates to run from behind and get handballs in space, taking the space she had and generally disposing of it well

#28 Montana Ham

Arguably Western’s best on the day, Ham was at times unbeatable with her tenacity in the contest and willingness to take the game on. Using her strength to her advantage, Ham would often break tackles or tear the ball from an opponent’s hands to keep moving forward, where she backed her burst of speed to get her enough clearance to dispose of it cleanly. What stood out most about Ham’s work was her ability to spot forward handballs, precisely passing to her teammates advantage in ways that not many others could, releasing her runners in the best way possible. In the final term Ham’s work aerially was brilliant, taking a couple of contested marks, and one that was deemed touched that she recovered from, and moving the ball into dangerous spots with solid kicks. 

#50 Krystal Russell

The hero of the game, Russell got to live out every players dream with a game deciding goal in the final seconds of the game. Uncharacteristically for a ruck, Russell managed to snag the sealer after reading it off the hands of a pack, getting it off the deck cleanly and putting it through well to secure the win. Prior to this Russell had a solid showing through the ruck, leading the game for hitouts but managing to get good direction on them as well.

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