Scouting notes: NTFLW vs. Claremont
REPRESENTATIVE football was back on the menu over the weekend, with WAFL Women’s premiers Claremont defeating the NTFL Women’s All-Stars in an 11-point game up in Darwin. In a hard-fought performance from both sides, a number of young guns stepped up at TIO Stadium.
#1 Maria Rioli
The potential Richmond father-daughter talent stepped up against the higher quality opponent and did not look overawed playing inside 50 and then a stint on-ball. She kicked a goal in the second term after remaining alert of a set shot falling short, and marking on the line in between three opponents. She worked hard up and down the ground, showed clean hands and a deadly sidestep, and though she copped some big knocks, kept attacking it hard and had some highlight moments, including an attempted speccy.
One of the most naturally gifted players running around, Perry is all class, and you could hardly fault her vision, skill and decision making. Playing off a wing, Perry impacted the game from the opening minute, with a terrific sidestep and kick. Moments later she produced a run-down tackle and provide the same level of offensive and defensive traits throughout the game. The fact a bottom-ager was the vice-captain of the team speaks volumes of her leadership. An elite user of the ball, and rarely fumbles. Though she could continue to build strength to matchup better in an armwrestle, once the ball hits the deck, it is effectively game over for any opponent.
#13 Tayla Hart-Aluni
Another naturally-gifted player, Hart-Aluni is a 21-year-old who has come through the pathways and become a consistent forward talent in the NTFL Women’s. She has the speed, evasion and skill, and kicked a terrific goal bursting away from the contest inside 50 off a forward ruck stoppage. Though she is not a high production player, Hart-Aluni applies great pressure on opponents, laying a number of key tackles. She spent time in the middle and moved well through there as well.
#19 Cassie McWilliam
The tall forward was playing in defence for the first half, then moved inside 50 in the second half. She was providing some drive out of defence, and utilised her long kicking abilities to advantage, and though at times she would be under pressure, she kept at it. Made a few mistakes here or there such as dropping a sitter in the final term, but showed promising signs for the NTFLW All-Stars and will be another to keep an eye on in the VFL Women’s this year.
#35 Elisa Nikki
The former rugby player was anchored at full-back and provided some important dash from the defensive 50. Not winning a great deal of the football, Nikki found the ball in spurts, often taking a couple of repeat marks in the defensive half of the ground. Possessing a thumping boot and some nice powerful speed, she has good awareness of the situation and is able to make a decision quickly under pressure.
A now top-age talent who kicked a couple of impressive goals back-to-back in the third quarter and broke the game open. She played in the forward half and though she had a quieter first quarter, took a brilliant running mark in the centre and quickly turned and kicked to half-forward just on the half-time siren. She took a strong grab four minutes into the third term in the goalsquare to kick her first major, then read the ball perfectly about six minutes later to snap it around her body from a similar spot. She continued to work the ball inside 50, and did push up the ground at times, laying a good tackle in the wing.
Played at half-forward and worked hard up the ground, getting her hands on the ball plenty in the opening term. She attacks it hard and can gain separation on the lead, with strong hands out in front, or from a standing start. Her kicking at times let her down, but with a lot else going for her and she is only just draft-eligible (December 28), O’Donnell is one to keep tabs on in 2023. Her second and third efforts stood out, as well as her work rate to cover the ground, while her hands were reliable and her smarts inside 50 to find space also caught the eye.
#15 Juliet Kelly
The 2022 Rogers Cup best and fairest winner got to slot into the League side for the first time and did not look out place in the back half. Though she did not win a heap of the ball, Kelly is still lightly built and adjusting to the tempo. When she did win it, she showed nice hands under pressure and impressive smarts, not flustered when confronted by opponents. Her kicking was technically sound and she reads the play well and has those natural smarts.
#19 Claudia Wright
A top AFLW Draft talent for next year, Wright is set for a role change in 2023. Having plied her trade as a half-forward and wing last year, the 171cm talent will move to half-back to fill the void left by Maddy Scanlon. In the match against the NTFLW All-Stars, Wright showed off her trademark sidestep and terrific composure, which was summed up in one play in the first half. She won the ball in defence, started moving, then stopped – seemingly stopping time – propped and hit up a short 45-degree kick into the corridor. She continued to run hard all day, and then when opponent Molly Althouse tried to sidestep her, Wright was having none of it. Was quieter in the second half, and that consistency is an area for her to improve, but she has an abundance of natural talent.
#26 Matilda Dyke
The mature-age key position player held down the number one ruck role in a bid to get noticed ahead of the AFL Women’s Overage Draft. She has been in and around the draft frame in the past, but has made noticeable progress over the off-season, particularly when it comes to her kicking. Dyke’s second and third efforts, and her speed for a 180cm player were particularly impressive, and coach Jack Schwarze said she would play as a “fourth midfielder” through the ruck. Though Jasmyn Hewett got the better of her in the ruck contest, Dyke did well around the ground, and was too quick off the mark for Althouse when opposed to the Darwin ruck.
#30 Jorja Elisseou
Has not lost an ounce of courage from her bottom-age year last year, and Elisseou played the exact way she has always played – with fierce intent. Elisseou plays as a pressure small forward who continually cracks in, and lays multiple tackles to keep the ball inside 50. A low possession-winner, Elisseou got floored by Althouse on the wing, earning a free kick. She loves the hardball and forces her way into contested situations to try and win every play for her team.
#34 Amalie Moe
A developing key position talent, Moe stepped into the Claremont League side for the first time and showed signs that she can hold her spot at the level. She was strong on the lead, good overhead, and a quick disposer of the ball. A high work rate forward, she was clean leading out and even rotated through the middle to have a stint in the ruck. Still some rawness to her game, when she had time and space she did well to present then thump the ball forward to set up a goal for the smaller types.