Preview | AFLW U18s – Queensland vs. Vic Metro
QUEENSLAND enters the 2022 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships – the last state to do so this year – with a home fixture against Vic Metro at Metricon Stadium on Tuesday. The Sunshine State has some quality talents on its list, as well as some future starts to keep an eye on, with the Metro clash to be a huge one. That is mainly the case because Metro completely put Country to the sword in their first round clash for the championships, keeping them scoreless in the first half, and eventually running out 53-point winners.
Alana Gee (Southport/Gold Coast Suns Academy)
The top Queensland prospect in the pool, Gee has a terrific balance of skill, smarts and athleticism, having transformed into one of the most consistent top-age midfielders across the country. She has the ability to break the game open and create opportunities for her side forward or centre, and is one the opposition cannot afford to get off the chain. She compliments any midfield well because she can play inside or outside, and easily spreads to other areas of the ground.
Fleur Davies (Southport/Gold Coast Suns Academy)
Likely to predominantly face Western Jets premiership ruck Krystal Russell, Davies has the ability to not just spend time rucking, but also developing as a key forward thanks to Under 16s revelation Havana Harris. The Suns Academy top-ager has proven herself to be a really reliable tap ruck, but also as a lead out forward. Though still some areas to build on, her high level endurance and work rate is evident from her ability to impact games late, consistently.
Imogen Evans (Bond University/Gold Coast Suns Academy)
A really well-balanced midfielder with so many likeable footballing traits that catch the eye. She wins the contested ball, can spread to the outside and win the loose ball. Evans can mark overhead, she has strength aerially in that way, but also follow up with ground level pressure. She brings teammates into the game and can run all day. Aside from perhaps speed compared to many other top-end midfielders, Evans plays her role to perfection and makes the most of her strengths.
Ella Smith (Aspley/Brisbane Lions Academy)
An inside bull who has been tested on a win at different points this year by the Lions Academy, Smith is an AFLW Academy member with Gee and Davies. Smith burrows herself in at the contest and looks to be a first possession winner, but is quite often a quick handballer who dishes off to a nearby teammate to run. She can do enough to find space around the ground, and her overall work rate allows her to accumulate possessions like few others.
Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
Possessing a deadly right foot and an ability to evade opponents, Fleming has pieced together a remarkable season for the Chargers. She came into it highly touted off the back of a remarkable three games for Oakleigh last season, and has been a consistent ball-winner in 2022. She can rest forward and create scoring opportunities, but is best used out of the midfield where she is clean, precise and pinpoint by hand or foot.
Charlotte Baskaran (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
The ultimate professional has capped off her four-year NAB League Girls career with a premiership and second place in the Rookie Me Central Medal, as well as yet more Team of the Year honours. Having played just about every role she can, Baskaran has a complete profile in terms of her skill, decision making, footy smarts and leadership, with few mistakes from the talented midfielder and she is someone to rely on each and every week. Plus she is a high-volume tackler when she does not win it.
Montana Ham (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
Like Baskaran, Ham’s four-year NAB League Girls career came to an end with a premiership at the Jets, and another great year. She is incredibly strong through that midfield, has the size that those above do not, and has a booming kick that can easy travel 50m-plus. Ham is always difficult to matchup on in the midfield given her 178cm frame, but she can work into space and be utilised as an option going forward. After 12 straight behinds in the NAB League Girls, Ham kicked 1.0 against Country and will be hoping for more here.
Rylie Wilcox (Northern Knights/Vic Metro)
Though there were plenty of other midfielders we could have named in this section, we went outside the box with small forward-winger Wilcox. She showed her class in the ‘Big V’ last AFLW Under 18 Championships clash, enjoying he freedom of having the inside work taken care of consistently. She thrived on the outside, took the game on and loves to run. Though many of her highly touted teammates might be found on the inside, she has the need for speed on the outside.
WHY EACH TEAM COULD WIN?
The Sunshine State has a massive test here, but has greater midfield top-end talent than Vic Country, which will help around the ball. Aside from the core named above, they also have Jasmyn Smith, Charlotte Mullins and Ava Seton who will provide great depth to the cause, and also be able to play other positions. They have some height as well with Davies, Harris and Kiara Hillier in good QAFL Women’s form.
The premier team of the championships alongside South Australia, Metro showed just what they could do against Victorian rivals country. Along with the elite names above, others such as Charlotte Taylor, Sofia Hurley and Mia Busch also add plenty of talent to the cause. Their rebounding defenders of Laura Elliott and Georgia Foran are key in this game, whilst they have lost Zoe Barbakos to Hawthorn since their Round 1 win.