Suns shine in AFLW Under 16 Q-Clashes
GOLD Coast Suns Academy have taken out the two Q-Clash matches at the Under 16 Championships defeating Brisbane Lions Academy comfortably in both games. The two games – played at Maroochydore and Bond University over the past week, resulted in a total scoreline of 17.24 (126) to 8.13 (61).
In perfect conditions up on the Sunshine Coast, the Suns shone with a comprehensive 65-point victory over the Lions last Monday, before returning home to Bond University in pouring rain on Thursday to edge out the Lions in a slog by 38 points. Along with some 2006-born stars who have already put their names up in lights thanks to the 2022 AFLW Under 18 Championships, there were a number of future talents that also caught the eye.
For the Suns, Nyalli Milne slotted three goals across the two games, sharing the leading goalkicker honour with Dekota Baron. The incredibly athletic ruck-forward duo of Havana Harris and Georja Davies – the fourth Davies in the family production line of outstanding athletes – caused all sorts of headaches for the Lions, and were even able to impact in the wet, particularly Harris. The 2022 Under 18s All-Australian is still two years off being drafted but is one of the most exciting players to watch for the 2024 AFLW Draft.
Young gun Tara Harrington played midfield almost exclusively having spent time in defence and on a wing, while pinch-hitting on-ball for the Queensland Under 18s this season. Racking up the ball with ease, she was consistent across both games, while one name to keep an eye out for is Ava Usher. Sporting the number eight for the Suns, it would have been easy to mistake her for Charlie Rowbottom, with her burst power, strength and clean hands around the stoppage all catching the eye.
Only playing in the second game after representing the Woomeras in a curtain-raiser to the Melbourne-Brisbane AFL Women’s match at Casey Fields the weekend earlier, Heidi Talbot also turned heads with a massive 34-disposal effort in the pouring rain of game two. She matched teammate for the top disposal billing, to be a standout in the match. Her direct opponent was also an opponent at Casey Fields, with Zimra Hussain representing the Medley’s before returning to run out in Lions colours. A fierce tackler who thrived in the wet, Hussain was everywhere across the ground.
Other Lions who stood out included Mia Geere who was arguably the best across the two games combined, while defenders Faradai Hopkins and Rania Shelford were always mopping up in the back half and driving it forward. With the Suns dominating the clearances and inside 50s, the Lions Academy defence was steadfast despite the losses, which could have been even larger. Ashleigh Moyle – who rotated through midfield – was also a busy player across both matches, as co-captain Isabella McDonough tried hard.
The games marked the end of Queensland representative footy for the year, with a number of the 2006 – and perhaps even 2007 – born players set to push for selection in the Under 18s Academy for 2023.
LIONS ACADEMY 0.1 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 2.4 (16)
SUNS ACADEMY 4.3 | 5.8 | 7.9 | 11.15 (81)
Lions Academy: I. McDonough, A. Leigh
Suns Academy: H. Harris 2, D. Baron 2, G. Davies, T. Harrington, N. Milne, S. Lappin, S. Burnham, A. Welsh, C. Gaunt
Lions Academy: M. Geere, F. Hopkins, A. Moyle, R. Shelford, I. McDonough
Suns Academy: H. Harris, G. Davies, T. Harrington, N. Milne, A. Usher
SUNS ACADEMY 2.1 | 4.2 | 5.5 | 6.9 (45)
LIONS ACADEMY 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)
Lions Academy: L. Gilliand
Suns Academy: N. Milne 2, A. Maher 2, S. Lappin, D. Baron
Lions Academy: Z. Hussain, M. Geere, F. Hopkins, A. Moyle, R. Shelford
Suns Academy: A. Usher, H. Talbot, H. Harris, N. Milne, T. Harrington