Academy notes: 2023 SANFLW Round 2
SOUTH Australia’s top AFL Women’s draft prospects returned for Round 2 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s on the weekend. As always, we took a look at each of the state academy athletes running around in the League competition and made notes on their individual performances.
*Each note is the opinion of the individual author.
Central District Womens
By: Peter Williams
#11 Abbey Rigter
The top-ager provided the spark inside 50 early in the match, kicking two goals to set up the game for the Double Blues. After a goal from eight disposals last week, Rigter would finish with two goals from seven touches this week. Her first on Saturday came from a clever snap which bounced home, then a set shot from 20m out went straight through for another major just two minutes later. She looked lively at times, having another couple of chances in the second half, but one hit the post and another snap missed to the right.
#16 Monique Bessen
The second gamer went to another level compared to Round 1, finding plenty of the ball and proving prolific in the front half of the ground. Among the Double Blues’ best, Bessen was clean with ball-in-hand and won quite a few early touches to build her confidence against the Bulldogs. By half time, Bessen had 11 disposals, and a couple of free kicks, using the ball well to deliver to teammates inside 50. Though her second half was quieter, Bessen still had some eye-catching moments, and continued to compete with good second efforts. Bessen recorded 17 disposals – the most of any Sturt player – as well as three marks, three tackles and three clearances.
#24 Lily Whitcombe
Whitcombe played a shut down role on the dangerous Grigg and did really well to nullify the speedster’s impact. Both players ran down each other at times, with Whitcombe using her deceptive speed, along with her smarts to be able to get into the right spots in the defensive 50. She showed good composure under pressure, and while she was often rushed with her kicks, she made a number of safe switch passes or went down the line coming out of defence. The Sturt defender picked up eight disposals, two marks, two tackles and two rebound 50s.
#8 Elaine Grigg
Had a lot less freedom than the previous week as she was tightly guarded by fellow State Academy member Whitcombe in the attacking half of the ground. Spending a fair bit of time forward to try and provided a spark, Grigg still had her moments, but could not quite have enough space to convert chances. One aspect of Grigg’s game that will never drop off is her defensive pressure, with the talented top-ager laying five tackles to go with her seven disposals, two clearances and two inside 50s.
Central District bottom-ager Riggs was the subject of our Player Focus for this week, so for a full run down on her performance, check out that article from earlier today. As a whole, the key defender managed 17 disposals, seven marks – two contested – three tackles and three rebound 50s in the loss.
>> CHARLOTTE RIGGS SANFLW PLAYER FOCUS
#12 Sophie Eaton
Again looked lively inside 50, and though she was not consistently clunking marks due to the pressure around her, she provided the tackling pressure, and won a free kick for a tackle on Jaimee Wittervan inside 50. Taking the set shot, her routine was a work of art, and it sailed home with the greatest ease for Central’s first goal of the contest. Even when she would turn the ball over, Eaton’s technique remained the same, and she was clean at ground level, having a super quick pickup in the last term and quick give off to Grigg in the last quarter.
#27 Jasmine Evans
In a quieter game than Round 1, Evans had four disposals, two marks and two tackles in Round 2. Though she had a few ‘almost’ moments, Evans’ top plays came late in the game where she had a neat kick from the wing going forward, then took a terrific intercept mark at the 16th minute of the final term. The kick from outside 50 went the full journey, just missing to the right, showcasing her booming kick.
West Adelaide Womens
North Adelaide Womens
By: Peter Williams
#2 Lucy Boyd
After a starring performance last round, Boyd was again impressive, albeit in a slightly safer role. She was given the kick-in duties and often played on before kicking long down the line, or chipped sideways to a safe option then ran hard to get on the end of the next play. She was not needed in the opening term other than a clearing kick down the wing, but as North Adelaide gained more ascendancy she began to step up. In the final term she charged down the middle of the ground to receive the handball from Young and bomb it inside 50, though it did end up in a turnover. Overall she did her job and was able to use her long kick to advantage, winning 14 disposals, two marks and 11 rebound 50s.
#30 Lauren Young
Another headache-inducing performance for the opposition and this time premiership coach Krissie Steen, with the top AFLW Draft talent causing plenty of trouble inside 50. She kicked the 2.3 in Round 2, of which from the behinds one was a narrowly missed set shot, another was a snap in a tackle and a third was a soccer off the deck which hit the post. Her two goals came via a snap in the pack four minutes into the second term, and the easiest of set shots 15m out after a one-on-one mark at the top of the goalsquare. She also set up a goal to Tamika May in the final term with a well-weighted pass who ran in and slotted the goal to seal the game. Along with 2.3, Young had 22 disposals, four marks – one contested – eight tackles and four inside 50s.
#42 Steph Tredwell
Bearing similar traits to Elaine Grigg, Tredwell is a promising player with pressure being a fundamental part of her game. The 2007-born forward only had the six disposals and a behind, but laid six tackles which would have pleased the coaching staff. Her behind was a soccer off the deck in the opening term, and what was most noticeable about her performance was even if she was not rewarded with a tackle statistic, her pressure would worry the opposition.
#43 Emma Kilpatrick
The defender played her role to perfection and was a key reason why the North Adelaide attack found it so difficult to score. In an impressive performance, Kilpatrick was able to consistently provide rebound, and an outlet option to clear the ball to safety. She won a free kick in the defensive goalsquare early, and laid a great tackle on Jaimi Tabb at the top of defensive 50 not long after. She did get bumped off it by stronger opponents once or twice, but was neat and composed with ball-in-hand more often than not.
#51 Ruby Ballard
The younger sister of Crows’ Abbie showed off her clean hands and neat skills, with a particularly dominant first half where she was among the top ball-winners. Though not always a high production player, Ballard helped herself to 16 disposals, playing in the forward half of the ground. Considering only a couple of those came in the second half, Ballard got the game rolling with some slick passes inside 50 and was composed under pressure. Though her kicking is usually her weapon, Ballard showed she can be just as effective by hand around the ground.
#9 Laela Ebert
Produced a consistent four-quarter performance in a losing effort, winning her fair share of the ball on her way to 16 disposals. She brought the pressure with her and showcased her burst speed when running into space, and found the ball in each third of the ground. On one occasion she streamed forward towards goal and while the kick to her was poor, she recovered well but chose to take on the opposition and was pinged. With a touch more composure she will only get better because she had some great plays getting into space and then applying pressure to the opposition ball carriers. Ebert recorded the six tackles and four marks to go with her 16 disposals.
#30 Jayde Visser
Like a number of her front half teammates, Visser found herself second to the all due to the delivery inside 50. Though she was not able to have the same impact in terms of her offensive work, her defensive work was outstanding, quite often either nullifying the contest, or laying a fierce tackle on the opposition. Her hard running was again a feature of her game, and she deserved a goal in the third term after marking following a hard run, but her set shot from 30m missed to the right. Visser managed eight disposals and nine tackles.
Woodville-West Torrens Womens
By: Michael Alvaro
The Eagles were restricted to a single goal for three quarters and that meant opportunities were limited for Charity, who plied her trade up forward. She spent much of the first term inside attacking 50 before being made to press higher up the field, where she looked to get her dancing feet moving. The bottom-ager has plenty of talent but Glenelg did well to shut down any major moments of flair, as Charity found herself caught while trying to take on opponents. It hardly deterred her, though, and a terrific rundown effort to catch Piper Window in the fourth quarter proved she never let up.
#30 Marlie Fiegert
Another Eagles youngster utilised up forward, Fiegert had Poppy Scholz for company in the early stages. While cleaner in handling the ball, the top-ager could have had a more profound impact while the Eagles held first term territory, but a few fumbles proved costly. Fiegert’s best moment was a goal assist for Chloe Newton in the second quarter, when she skied a kick towards the hot spot.
#34 Shineah Goody
In the face of a heavy tag from Alice Bradley and plenty of physical pressure, Goody showed a heap of heart to top the Eagles’ disposal tally. She was put down in the motion of disposal or just after several times, and while she was sometimes slow to get up, kept fighting throughout the four quarters. Goody’s weaponous speed was on show with a four-bounce foray along the wing in term two, and her underrated overhead marking ability was highlighted by repeated gutsy grabs. With footy smarts beyond her years, she directed play while in full flight and looked dangerous when able to break the lines on the outside.
Saturday’s game was initially a slow burn for Patterson, but she went on to produce her usual glimpses of promise. Stationed on the wing, she got going with a goal assist for Chelsea Packer in term two, with her speed on the end of a forward handball proving useful. The bottom-ager can work on her kick penetration, but gains meters by driving her legs and carving paths forward – like when she cut inside and hit a short pass to Madisyn Freeman for another goal assist. Patterson also used her speed defensively with an ominous holding the ball tackle in term three, proving she can punch above her weight.
#8 Piper Window
Window has started the season on fire and with Matilda Scholz back in the ruck role, she had an absolute field day at stoppages. The top-ager won a whopping 10 clearances and had as many inside-50 entries, driving forward like a bull out the gate. Window’s timing to rove the ball at stoppages, particularly off Scholz’s hand, was remarkably good and allowed her to burst away without breaking stride. In those instances, she was near-impossible to stop and that momentum aided her ability to deliver the ball deep by foot. Though her kicking remains awkward, Window dished off cleanly by hand and protected her teammates when doing so. She ended up leading all comers with 23 touches after having 10 in the first quarter, but was caught more often as the game went on – coughing up seven free kicks.
#19 Matilda Wilmore
It was a relatively quiet day for Wilmore, though her promise as a double bottom-ager remains evident. Perhaps a bit like Charity for the Eagles, she doesn’t yet have the size and strength to exploit her game-breaking ability at senior level, but is not afraid to take opponents on and work out of tight spots herself. She finished with three disposals in her role as a forward and provided good intensity at the contest.
#20 Poppy Scholz
The younger Scholz sister is coming into her own in a relatively new role across half-back, and began to put it all together during the second half on Saturday. After a couple of fumbles and missed tackles early on, the bottom-ager gained confidence as the game wore on with more running ventures on the outside. She looked at her best when receiving and using her athleticism to snatch metres, but also did so with opponents right on her tail. Scholz used her height to advantage to clunk a mark in the third term, and seemed to play with more freedom as her positive moments stacked up. Her traits as a tall winger will translate well behind the ball with a bit of persistence.
#28 Matilda Scholz
After missing Round 1 off the back of an injury interrupted preseason, Scholz didn’t let heavy rotations stop her from returning with a bang. Her first contribution came inside attacking 50, where she turned AFLW tall Leah Cutting inside-out – not for the last time in the match – and booted Glenelg’s first score. The 187cm top-ager looked confident and strong in possession, with her ridiculously clean handling and rare mobility making for eye-catching plays, including a few fend-offs. Arguably Scholz’s best moments came in the ruck though, where she gave Piper Window silver service with dept taps to advantage. Her leap and size were impossible to combat, and with a greater contested marking presence around the ground, Scholz looms as a complete ruck prospect.
South Adelaide Womens
By: Peter Williams
#2 Holly Ifould
Not quite as prolific as the week before, Ifould still had her moments, particularly when it came to getting into the right spots. Running hard off a wing, Ifould started quietly in the first half, but had a few nice touches including a couple of clean handballs and then a neat short kick at half-back in the opening term. Her third term was busy with multiple efforts at a contest, but the next step is being a touch more composed with ball-in-hand, and also being cleaner at ground level to match her clean aerial ability. She finished with the nine touches, two marks and four tackles in the win.
#23 Esther Schirmer
Another Panther who had a quieter game than Round 1, but provided some run off half-back. She laid a couple of good tackles and looked to kick down the line, but finished with the seven disposals, two marks and two tackles. After an awkward kick midway through the first term, Schirmer was more composed with some release handballs and short kicks.
#37 Brooke Boileau
Boileau backed up her impressive Round 1 effort with another big performance through the midfield. She crashed and bashed her way to 16 disposals, four marks, 11 tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s to again be among the better Panthers. Her strength at the stoppage and clean hands at the coalface were on display, being a prominent clearance player in the win. One clearance she would like back was early in the fourth term where she won the ball, burst away and kicked long to the top of 50, except it was her defensive 50. Other than that mind blank, Boileau was able to have an impact around the ground, and when given time and space she makes good decisions, with her composure under pressure by foot the next key for the talented top-ager.
#56 Lily Baxter
Though she did not win as much of the ball as Round 1, Baxter arguably had more impact playing forward, kicking a couple of classy first half goals in the win. Her first game late in the opening term with a brilliant snap around her body from 25m out off a Nicole Campbell handball inside 50. Her second major came just four minutes into the second term with an outstanding running goal to put her side 20-0 up. Though she only had the four touches, Baxter almost kicked a third goal which would have been the best of the lot with a shot on the run under pressure just falling short. Her fourth kick was a rushed shot on goal that just missed to the left.
#50 Elle Lineage
Stepping up from Development League level last week, Lineage started really strong through the midfield winning a number of early touches and looking lively. Her pressure was up and she won a free kick on the wing, kicking to a half-forward stoppage with that disposal. Her ball-winning dropped off after that busy start to finish with five touches and two marks, but her pressure remained high, laying seven tackles for the Redlegs in the loss.
#51 Coby Morgan
Started on the wing against Ifould early, she went to her usual forward position where she won a few touches in the attacking half. Though often under pressure, she was held trying to get the ball six minutes into the second term, and converted a set shot to kick Norwood’s first goal of the day. Her other major highlight was a terrific run-down tackle on the attacking side of the centre square three minutes into the third term. Morgan finished the match with five disposals, three tackles and a goal.