A NUMBER of State Academy talents filtered back into the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s lineups for Round 12, with some still missing due to the AFLW Academy game. Of those who played, a few younger ones stood up, with some mature-agers also catching the eye.
#11 Jaime Henry
The standout bottom-ager produced her usual output albeit in lower numbers, cracking in hard and shovelling the ball out. Though Claremont comfortably won the midfield and got on top after quarter time, Henry never stopped trying and was often involved in quick handball chains around the ground. She used her strength on the inside to extract it cleanly to a teammate under pressure, and even had a shot on goal that just went wide on the half-time siren.
There were a number of Swans who still had some solid games, with Emma Nanut providing some good dash on the outside and kicking forward on a number of occasions, and even set up a goal to Hope Ugle-Hayward in the first term. Tyla Fitzgerald also had a quieter game by her standards, but still cracked in and tried hard to win the contested ball. Tamzyn Beros slotted the first goal of the game after a good mark inside 50, having an impressive first term before like many of her teammates, went a bit quieter in the final three terms. Kyah Chirichilli also had seven touches and won a couple of free kicks, one for a great tackle and one for being caught high.
The skilful Elkington has the potential to slice up the defensive zone with her elite kicking skills that were on-song once again. She just weights her passes so well and goes inboard with that difficult 45-degree pinpoint kick to teammates in space through the middle. Though often under pressure, Elkington thrives in the contested side of the game as well, making her a dual threat in that regard. She has such great offensive traits, but also so damaging with her defensive footy IQ, whilst being able to play inside, outside or up forward.
#29 Claudia Wright
The 15-year-old talent showed plenty of class in the forward half of the ground for the Tigers, with clean disposal and impressive decision making on the outside. Wright looked comfortable with ball-in-hand and is another one of those Under 16s who has a bright future with a couple of years to develop.
Mackenzie Webb took a very good mark one-on-one against Fitzgerald early in the game, and then took another good mark not long after to kick neatly into defence. After that early couple of touches she only had a couple more, but kept her opponents accountable inside defensive 50. Ella Slocombe had a couple of brain fade moments in the game by giving away a 50m penalty early and then missing a set shot from 15m out in the second term. She worked hard and looked to break the game open in the first term with a terrific run, but the bounce got away from her. Captain Ella Smith and exciting mid-forward Mikayla Western remain two to watch for the upcoming AFLW Draft after promising performances.
#33 Anjelique Raison
Playing up forward and through the ruck, Raison was able to kick two goals in the game, albeit from straight in front close to goal. She knew the positions to get into and kicked her first from the goalsquare after a good tackle and subsequent 25m penalty midway through the second term, then kicked her other major early in the third with a clever dribble goal from the top of the goalsquare under pressure. She competed in the ruck and 15 hitouts, showcasing her versatility.
#38 Zippy Fish
The speedy winger had some good impressive moments, and spread well around the ground to find her own fair share of the ball. She often took a mark then burst away, showcasing nice skills more often than not. Though at times she was forced into rushing the ball, she showed equal measure of defensive pressure to go with her offensive impact, to have an influence on proceedings.
Taya Chambers showed some promising signs playing up forward, picking up nine disposals and kicking a goal from the top of the goalsquare under pressure. She got to the right spots and contributed where she cold. Tiani Teakle was quiet with the six touches and one behind – missing a gettable shot from 15m – but her lead-up play where she showed clean hands was impressive, and kept working hard to get to the right spots, even going into a few ruck stoppages. Her sister Julia Teakle – who is draft-eligible – booted two goals from 17 disposals, and though often under pressure, still showed promising signs.
#22 Kaitlyn Srhoj
The eye-catching winger has had bigger games, but after a quiet start worked her way into it. She cracked in and was even able to get herself a goal 10 minutes into the final term, taking a great one-on-one mark and converting the set shot from 15m out. She spun out of trouble a little earlier which was really impressive, but just needs to improve some of her fundamentals such as ground balls and execution to take her game to the next level and match the exciting moments.
#29 Jorja Haines
The talented forward had some good moments pushing up into the middle, including a really eye-catching burst out a stoppage in the third term. Though her execution under pressure can be sharpened up, she takes the game on and is not afraid to take grass. She moves well in congestion and can extract the ball from a contested situation with speed, all traits which are great to take through her development over the next couple of years.
State Under 18s captain Bella Mann tried her heart out over the four quarters, constantly putting her body on the line on the way to seven disposals and three tackles, even having a goal in the ruck on one occasion. Defender Emily Gunton had the six disposals and competed strongly in the air, whilst Under 16s debutant Lara Thomas might have entered a baptism of fire against the top team, but gave it a red hot crack and even won a free kick for a tackle on the experienced Sharon Wong. Exciting forward Aisha Wright is one name to consider for the AFLW Draft, being the standout Peel player on the day, racking up 20 disposals, three marks and looking dangerous inside 50 with her impressive left boot.
The classy and speedy winger had a chance to play onball before moving back to the wing, adding an extra string to her bow. She was not as efficient as past games, but still caught the eye, showing a neat sidestep and clean kick to the wing. She followed up and hit up another kick shortly after, with that being the strong side of her game. One area the talented teen can improve is in her awareness as she was run down from behind, which has happened a few times this year, but with ball-in-hand she is very classy.
The hard nut cracked in again and was among the better West Perth players, able to extract the ball from the stoppage and get clean hands away. She still has other areas to work on when it comes to running, but in terms of her effort and contested ball-winning, she is right up there. Still a year of development to go before being draft-eligible, Van Den Heever is progressing nicely and is not afraid to put her body on the line.
Stationed back in defence returning to the team, Grassenis is so good off the ball with her reading of the play and intercepting, but just has to clean up her execution by foot. Quite often she will outbody and outposition her opponent one-on-one in the defensive 50, then burst away down the ground evading others, but just misplace the kick. She has a lot of potential with her athleticism and aerial ability, and like Van Den Heever has another year to hone in on her skills.
Defender Kaitlyn Roper had a really impressive first half, providing plenty of drive out of defence, with sister Jessica Roper starting up the field on a wing. Grace Betti and Lea Caccamo tried hard with some good drive going forward, and Betti even converting a goal.
#10 Aaliyah Ugle
Ugle played inside 50 and had some impressive moments in the first half before being shut down in the second half. Her first goal came via a mark over Grassenis inside 50, nailing the 35m set shot. Her second was courtesy of a clever snap with the outside of the boot close to the boundary line eight minutes into the second term. Ugle would finish with 2.1 from 12 touches, just rushing a flying shot on goal in the third term for her sole behind.
#13 Molly O’Hehir
It was another big game from the smooth-moving Under 16s utility who played between onball and defence. O’Hehir moves like the wind and can provide run and carry, with a lot of her work done in the opening quarter. Though still amassing disposals over the last three, O’Hehir was more a “moments” player later in the game, showcasing her run and carry, whilst also applying good defensive pressure to opponents.
Forward Poppy Stockwell has some natural football IQ with her forward craft, kicking two foals from 14 disposals and three marks, whilst outside runner Kiara Templeman continued her good season and is still young at 20, picking up 18 disposals and three marks.