Preview | AFLW U18s – South Australia vs. Vic Country
TWO states that are coming off very different results from their first AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships matches will meet at Adelaide Oval tomorrow. Going undefeated last year, Vic Country came crashing down in game one against Vic Metro, well beaten last month at Mars Stadium. South Australia on the other hand showed the Croweaters came to play this carnival, completely destroying Western Australia to the tune of 14 goals. It means for the first time in the shorter women’s carnival history, that South Australia will start favourites against the Victorians.
Hannah Ewings (North Adelaide/South Australia)
Playing her first state representative game since 2018, Ewings had a day out between midfield and forward, and looms yet again as the player Vic Country will need to try and limit her influence. She is a matchup nightmare for the opposition given her power overhead and quick first few steps out of the contest, but more so only needing a split second or two to make a decision with her booming right foot.
Mackenzie Eardley (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
The key position defender will arguably be the most important player for Vic Country, because the South Australians showed against the Sandgropers just how much ball they can win, and they use it well going inside 50. If Eardley can position herself well and get to the right spots as she so often does, then she can settle down the defence, and repel the attacks to give Vic Country a chance.
Shineah Goody (WWT Eagles/South Australia)
One of the few players that is simply so difficult to stop because of her near-unbeatable work rate and defensive running. She gets to the defensive goal line faster than any other midfielder, and her balance of skill, athleticism and footy IQ is among the best going around. There might not be an opponent who can match her for all of the above.
Amber Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays/Vic Country)
The speedster is coming off a NAB League Girls best and fairest and will be keen to improve on her first championships game. Not really able to assert her influence against Vic Metro, Clarke has the potential to do a lot of damage on the open spaces of Adelaide Oval.
Matilda Scholz (Glenelg/South Australia)
After acquitting herself well against the athletic pairing of Lauren Wakfer and Georgie Cleaver, Scholz will be much more in her element here. Her opponents – probably Kalani Scoullar and Bianca Lyne – will be taller and stronger, but Scholz has the athleticism on her side likely to allow her to get higher.
Paige Scott (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
Scott showed how much damage she can do at the national championships last year, and she could well be the danger person again. There will be a number of opponents who might take her, and the South Australian defence is quite versatile, but when she is up and about, she is difficult to contain. A confidence player, the Croweaters will look to get on top early to ensure she cannot get too many easy looks.
Amber Clarke vs. Shineah Goody
This could be an absolute dream matchup if it occurred, with both athletically gifted, and equally offensively and defensively measured. Clarke loves coming from midfield and going forward using her speed, and no one covers the ground better defensively than Goody. The Eagles midfielder would be more than comfortable going toe-for-toe with the lightning quick talent when going into Country’s attack, but Goody is also able to provide smart offensive run herself forcing Clarke to be equally aware of her opponent’s capabilities.
Paige Scott vs. Lily Whitcombe
Though Scott is a hard player to matchup on, Whitcomb has some similar traits that could make her appropriate for the the challenge. She is strong and good one-on-one and can read the ball in flight well. Scott can get it done in the air or at ground level, so she may well have a couple of opponents in this contest. Another one if Scott moved higher up the ground is Charlie Scutchings who would provide strong competition with Scott each time she went near the ball.
Given Ewings is effectively two players within a match – one who can extract the ball out of a stoppage and put it forward and one who can go one-out in the goalsquare or lead-up as a forward – it is likely she will rotate between two opponents. Without Charley Ryan to match for speed, Crank can match her for strength, whilst Speakman is similar in defence and Country’s best one-on-one defender who also has enough run to stick with Ewings on the lead. It is unlikely Ewings will be even slowed down considering what she is capable of, but Country has more appropriate opponents than Western Australia did.
Tahlia Walker vs. Mackenzie Eardley
Two athletic talls who know how to find space inside the respective forward and defensive 50s, Walker could be the one with an important job on Eardley. Though Eardley is the defender, the Stingrays co-captain is able to settle down the defence and is too clever for the opposition attack not to be aware of her presence. Walker is a player who can match Eardley athletically, and knows where to lead inside 50, but should also look to be a target for the South Australian mids, so Eardley has to be equally accountable. If South Australia is unable to lower eyes going inside 50, Eardley will pick off the inside 50s, which is something Western Australia could not do consistently.
Though half-back Goodwin is likely to spend more time there, this is a matchup that would be fantastic to watch. In many ways the wing battle is always fascinating, and Gatt has ridiculous speed, but is also able to slice up teams with her use by foot. She does not need a lot of the ball to have a huge impact because of her evasion and skill. Goodwin does exactly that, and she has been finding the ball more and more. If they do cross paths – even in a footrace – that would be huge.
Additionally, the one who could create the biggest headache for Vic Country if selected is Central District’s Georgia McKee. Though the Under 16s – and team lineup – are to be confirmed after this game, if McKee plays, then Country do not really have an ideal matchup to try and stop the incredibly athletic and dual-sided player.
WHY CAN EACH TEAM WIN?
The home side is coming off an ultra-impressive victory over Western Australia, and has the depth to worry Vic Country. The Croweaters have a balance of talls and smalls, offensive and defensive players, and so many who can roll through the midfield, then go forward and hit the scoreboard. Whilst still possessing top-age star power, the South Australians have set themselves up the next couple of years with some incredible rising talents.
The Counts will be quite disappointed with their scoreless first half against Metro, and will be keen to bounce back against South Australia. Dandenong Stingrays – who are coming off a heartbreaking grand final loss – will supply a third of the team, and those players will be very hungry to get the job done here and bounce back. The midfield just has to give a yep, and they cannot afford to drop off the pace early.
The match should be closer than both these side’s last outings respectively, but expect them both to come away with the result. Vic Country will be more competitive than Western Australia, but it will be a case of the midfield and whether or not the Country mid can contain the outstanding depth that the South Australians have. South Australia’s only minor blip is inside 50 and not because of the talent, but more because of the extra young players compared to the more experienced Country defenders. If Country can use the ball well from defensive 50, they are a good chance, but South Australia showed it has talent all over the park and should win by four to five goals.