THE opening round of the Winter Series kicked off last weekend at North Sydney Oval, with the GWS GIANTS and Sydney Swans facing off alongside the Northern Territory and Tasmania’s clash. The Winter Series is aimed at providing more opportunities for draft-eligible players ahead of the AFL Women’s Draft on June 29. In this article, we take a look at the Northern Territory up against Tasmania, noting some of the top performers.
All notes are the opinion of the individual writer.
Northern Territory vs. Tasmania
#11 Emma Stark
Having made headlines last year as the youngest female field umpire in NTFL history, Stark impressed again in the tense loss to Tasmania. She brought plenty of energy and dash around the ball, looking dangerous for all four quarters. She was evasive around the ball and was always looking to apply pressure on the scoreboard and the opposition. While she didn’t top the disposal count, Stark was still damaging with and without the pill, and provided some electricity when her side needed some.
#16 Grace Whittaker
Whittaker was marked as one to watch coming in, and she showed exactly why. Spending time around the ball and up forward, she was one of her sides best despite the result. Whittaker was surgical when extracting the ball and booting it forward, gaining valuable territory for the NT in the process. Not only that, she was also able to pop up and take a nice mark in front of goal and converting the subsequent set shot. She was certainly one of the Northern Territory’s best on the day, particularly in the opening three quarters, for much of which they were the better side.
#25 Kaitey Whittaker
Grace’s namesake also impressed on the day, proving a commanding presence ahead of the ball. She was one of the main targets for the Northern Territory when heading inside-50, and made a contest on most occasions. With the Tasmania defence looking to intercept and rebound the ball, Whittaker did a decent job of bringing the ball to ground, and she was rewarded for these efforts. The tall hit the scoreboard for a few majors, and was one of the key cogs in gaining the Northern Territory’s lead heading into the final term of play.
Bowering entered the game off the interchange and was one of the better players for the Devils in the end. She set the tone early with a terrific run-down tackle in the first term. Despite her opponent having 15 metres on her, Bowering used her pace and hunted down the ball carrier to earn herself a free kick. It was efforts such as these that would have pleased coach Jeromey Webberley, and proved vital on the way to a final-quarter triumph for the team from the Apple Isle.
The talented midfielder was again at the heat of the contest in her side’s thrilling win, finding plenty of the ball and using it with class. Gaffney was able to extract the ball from the tightest of situations, and somehow find a target whether it be by hand or by foot. From the opening bounce, it was evident she was in for a solid outing after racking up quite a few touches in the first term. Despite a bit of attention from the opposition around the stoppages, she managed to produce a telling four-quarter performance.
#24 Georgia Clark
One of the most exciting talls in next year’s draft crop, Clark was busy again for the Devils. She was reasonably well held in the first three quarter by a team effort from the NT, which saw spare defenders float across and foil the impressive marking talents of Clark. However, she managed to get off the chain in the last term, taking a couple of crucial contested marks and hit the scoreboard as Tasmania overran its opponents behind her efforts ahead of the ball on more than one occasion.