2022 AFLW U18s team review: Vic Metro
PRODUCING a much-improved effort on last year, Vic Metro was one of the team’s to beat in the 2022 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. They might have lost to South Australia by less than a kick, but charged home hard to try and get over the line. Earlier in the carnival, they held Vic Country scoreless in the first half on their way to a big win, then shook off a determined Queensland to make it two victories for the championships.
MVP: Montana Ham (Western Jets)
There would have been no arguments from anyone that Ham was throughly deserving of the MVP honour, having a ridiculous carnival from start to finish. Continuing on her terrific back-end form from the NAB League Girls season, Ham was a powerhouse through the midfield, then went forward and provided a marking presence. She was good against Vic Country, looked incredible against Queensland, then lifted to be basically unstoppable in the final term against South Australia. Ham averaged 23.3 disposals, 5.0 marks, 5.3 tackles, 2.3 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s and 1.0 goals per game for Metro.
Sofia Hurley (Sandringham Dragons)
Another one of five All-Australians from Vic Metro, Hurley was the next best three-game midfielder for Metro, being influential in her work moving between midfield and inside 50. She picked up 22.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 6.3 tackles, 3.0 clearances and 6.0 inside 50s to be a key player in transition. Her stocks rose with the carnival, proving she can once again match it with the best.
Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh Chargers)
Playing her first national championships at this level, Fleming managed the two games prior to injury and looked incredible in both, being amongst the top few players. It was enough for the Oakleigh Chargers jet to earn all-Australian honours, one of only two players to do so off two matches. She averaged 22.5 disposals, 1.5 marks, 4.5 tackles, 5.5 clearances and 5.5 inside 50s across those matches.
Laura Elliott (Western Jets)
Finding herself in the back pocket of the All-Australian team, the Western Jets defender continued her great NAB League Girls form into the AFLW Under 18 Championships. Strong one-on-one and able to showcase her intercepting ability at the next level, Elliott averaged the 9.3 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.0 tackles and 2.0 rebound 50s, mopping up in a defensive half that was able to withstand most challenges.
Rylie Wilcox (Northern Knights)
The forward-winger showed just how classy she can be against the best in the country, being one of the standout performers from outside the AFLW Academy. Wilcox was incredible running along a wing and then impacting on the scoreboard, bolstering her stocks and proving she can match it with anyone despite standing under 160cm. Her athleticism and evasion helped her to an average of 16 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s and two rebound 50s, and she also kicked a couple goals.
Charlotte Baskaran (Western Jets)
The talented midfielder split her time between midfield and forward, and was far more impactful in the former. Though not always as dominant inside 50, when she went on-ball, she was able to immediately influence the game, and had a really solid carnival. Baskaran finished with averages of 16.0 disposals, 12.0 tackles, 3.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s.
Mia Busch (Eastern Ranges)
Plenty of players could have been named in this last spot, but Busch was one who caught the eye with her movement out of the back half and through the middle. She averaged 15.0 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.3 tackles and 2.0 clearances to show she can easily be a rotating midfielder or winger at the next level. Busch has developed greatly in season 2022 and is one to watch in the upcoming AFLW Draft.