Preview | AFLW U18s – NSW/ACT vs. Allies
AN action-packed couple of weeks continues tomorrow with the NSW/ACT taking on an Allied combined side of Northern Territory and Tasmania before the states all combine to form the Allies for the remainder of the championships. The Allies will go on to take on Vic Metro on Friday, before closing out the month with a clash against Queensland on April 30. Tomorrow’s match takes place at Blacktown from 12pm local time.
We take a look at some of the key players, and how the match might go down.
Zarlie Goldsworthy (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
The hardened midfielder-forward won the 2022 Rookie Me Central Medal and has had an incredibly consistent season. Her year did end on an unfortunate note when she collided with a goal post in the final round of the regular NAB League Girls season, but put together a really strong year. She was the only player to kick a goal in every single game – nine matches – and racked up 20-plus disposals in all bar the aforementioned match. She is a player to watch at the championships for the Allies.
Cynthia Hamilton (Queanbeyan Tigers/NSW-ACT)
The inside midfield pairing of Goldsworthy and Hamilton is something to look forward to, with Hamilton being the reigning Allies Most Valuable Player (MVP). She impressed as a bottom-ager at last year’s championships, playing predominantly through the midfield and resting forward, where she would ultimately win All-Australian honours. Back again and fresh Hamilton will be one to keep an eye on, particularly her ferocity around the contest and strength both overhead and at ground level. One of two AFLW Academy members from NSW-ACT.
Dakota Mason (Kiama Power/NSW-ACT)
The leading Sydney Swans top-ager as emphasised by her AFLW Academy inclusion, Mason is one who has not quite had the same exposure as some of her fellow Academy teammates, having played at Under 17s level for the Swans last season. Now in her top-age year, Mason is one who will likely catch the eye and provide a touch of class to the NSW-ACT and then Allies sides, really complimenting the rest of the midfield and going forward in transition.
Zara Hamilton (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)
The high-volume accumulator had a sensational season on the wing for the Bushrangers in the NAB League Girls, with Hamilton also spending time inside and up forward. She covers the ground like few others, and has a booming kick, with nice athleticism on the outside. Some of her numbers in individual games were incredible, and is another experienced midfield to support the NSW-ACT crew.
Claire Ransom (Tasmania Devils/Allies)
Finishing the season in a moon boot, the classy midfielder can play inside or outside, and backed up her impressive bottom-age NAB League Girls season with a strong top-age campaign. She will do a lot of the heavy lifting for the Tasmania-Northern Territory portion of the side in terms of that ball-winning capability and creativeness, with Ransom likely to thrive in the Allies midfield given she can almost exclusively be a second possession winner and utilise that class to full advantage.
Brooke Barwick (Tasmania Devils/Allies)
Providing a balance of hard-at-it footy and clean skill, Barwick might be a sub-160cm player, but she ticks a lot of boxes. She wins the ball and is effective with it by hand or foot, but is just as equally known for her tackling pressure. A high-volume tackler, Barwick runs both ways and will be another who might end up on flanks due to the strength on the inside.
J’Noemi Anderson (Northern Territory/Allies)
The Sandringham Dragons top-ager did not play a NAB League Girls game this season after testing the waters of the competition last year. A highly touted midfielder out of the Top End, Anderson did feature for the NT during the Thunder’s win over the Bushrangers. Having played against a number of the NSW-ACT players already, she will look to provide a similar impact onball for the Allies, and then potentially go forward and snag a goal as well.
Grace Mulvahil (Norwood/Allies)
Having missed out on being drafted last year, Mulvahil made the choice to head down to the SANFL Women’s where she has been playing for Norwood. After spending time in defence, Mulvahil has developed into a forward, and even kicked multiple goals on a number of occasions. She has the athleticism that catches the eye, and the experience of playing in last year’s championships, so could be one to watch now she is coming back to play against her own age group after her League experience.
WHY EACH TEAM COULD WIN?
The Rams have a fair bit of talent, particularly through the midfield, and with the extra depth through the middle, can utilise their known goalkickers in NAB League Girls equal leading goalkicker Mindy Quade, talented medium-tall forward Olivia Cicolini and dangerous small forward India Lehman. There will also be a lot of unknown in terms of the make up given the split between those who have played in Victoria, Canberra and Sydney competitions.
The Allies have a solid midfield too, with a balance between Tasmanian and Northern Territorian talents. They have some exciting players inside 50 such as Kyanne Campbell and