IT was a mixture of jubilation and heartbreak for the State Academy members from North Adelaide and Sturt respectively, as the Roosters enjoyed an 18-point win to secure their second flag in three years. We take a look at how each of the six Academy players afield performed on the big day.
All notes are the opinion of the individual author.
#22 Amelie Borg
The key defender stepped up in big moments for the Roosters and took a number of strong intercept marks throughout the contest. Her game started with a nervous, shaky kick off the outside of the boot, but her follow-up work to lay a tackle on Georgia Swan and win a free kick was important for the confidence. She then hit a pass with the subsequent kick. Though not winning a lot of touches through the middle of the game, Borg played her role and then really came to the fore in the last quarter, picking off a good intercept and giving the handball quickly, before setting up well at the forward side of the wing. She took a couple of good marks and was able to take time off the clock to ensure the Roosters remained in control. Borg ended with seven disposals, three marks (one contested), two tackles and two inside 50s in the win.
#30 Elaine Grigg
The defensive forward had some real highs and lows in the game, but came good when it counted. Early on, she gave away a couple of free kicks; one for a late bump, and another when she tried to burst away at half-forward but was dragged down. She kept at it though, producing a terrific flying tackle in the second term to force a miskick, before stepping up in the fourth term. Though not getting her own name on the scoreboard, it was her handball that set up Jaimi Tabb‘s goal to put the Roosters in front, then she capped off the day by winning a free kick from a high tackle and putting it to Jade De Melo to seal the game. Grigg managed 11 disposals, five tackles and three inside 50s.
#31 Hannah Ewings
Finished as one of the Roosters’ best after a real four-quarter performance. She did not start the game on the best of terms, giving away an early free kick to Mueller, and a few more, but her disposal was outstanding as usual, pinpointing brilliant passes from midfield going forward. When her side needed her to step up, Ewings slammed home a massive goal from 45 metres in the second term, and then had a set shot in the third that skewed off the boot but goes down as a goal assist as De Melo marked and goaled from 15 out. She produced a big bump in the second term on Georgia Bevan, but was also pinged in the third for trying to dance through multiple Sturt opponents. Her ability to work back into defence is what she has added to her game lately, and she took a number of marks in the back pocket and was tasked with kicking out of 50 or hitting the second pass from deep in defence. Ewings picked up 19 disposals, four marks (one contested) – four tackles, six clearances, three inside 50s, four rebound 50s and kicked 1.1.
#24 Lily Whitcombe
Always known for her defensive acts, Whitcombe certainly had a few of those, competing well one-on-one and showcasing her aerial defensive ability. She times her jumps well, and if she does not spoil cleanly, will produce a second effort via a tackle or a hard ball get. She had a couple of rebound 50s under pressure as well, and tried hard against the mounting North Adelaide attack. Whitcombe picked up five disposals, three tackles and two rebound 50s in the grand final.
#29 India Rasheed
Had an outstanding first term and was looking like the match winner, kicking two goals from three disposals. Her hands looked good, and both her goals came from marks; with the first out of the early centre clearance, with a 25-metre penalty helping her get within range. She wrote her name into the history books as the first goalscorer of the 2022 SANFL Women’s Grand Final, then would have won goal of the day with her bender from the pocket off her trusty left boot. She kept presenting across the match, and though she also had a couple of turnovers, Rasheed was able to hit Alysha Healy inside 50 in the second term after a clean spin. At one stage she took a mark at half-forward with her opponent all over her, and her opponent signalled to the bench wondering what else she could do, such was Rasheed’s aerial impact. Rasheed recorded nine disposals, four marks (two contested), four tackles, three inside 50s and two goals.
#33 Kiera Mueller
Was arguably Sturt’s next best behind Zoe Prowse and tried hard all game, even copping cramp late in the last quarter. While many of her teammates were slowing down late, Mueller was doing her best to try and drive the ball forward, often winning it in the middle and bursting forward. She had more defensive one-on-ones than in past games, having to compete against both Ewings and Grigg in contests, holding her own. Her last quarter was sensational as she did all she could to get her team over the line. Remarkably, Mueller also had a couple of shots on goal after running hard into the forward 50, finding space and being rewarded with a mark and a free kick in those instances. Unfortunately neither could quite find the accuracy, but nonetheless her performance all over the ground was impressive. Mueller finished with 16 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, four rebound 50s and two behinds.