2023 Coates Talent League Player Focus: Georgia Clark (Tasmania Devils)
PRODUCING an outstanding Round 1 performance in her home state, key forward Georgia Clark was a vital player in the Tasmania Devils’ win over GWS GIANTS Academy to kick off the 2023 Coates Talent League season.
The Devils talent and AFLW Academy member looks like she has taken her game to another level in her top-age year, possessing a high work rate and even greater footy smarts than the previous two seasons at the club. In what is hopefully a sign of things to come, Clark provided a presence in the forward half of the ground and lead by example with the Devils missing key midfielder and fellow AFLW Academy member, Brooke Barwick to injury.
2023 Coates Talent League: Round 1
Tasmania Devils 8.14 (62) defeated GWS GIANTS Academy 7.6 (48)
STATS: 19 disposals (12 kicks, 7 handballs), 9 marks, 4 tackles, 5 inside 50s, 2 goals, 1 behind
It took less than a minute for Clark to feature in the action, pushing up to the forward side of the wing as a leading target, but the ball just went past her and out of bounds. She marked 45m out a minute later and produced an elite pass into the leading Grace White showing her decision making more than anything else. At the two-minute mark, Clark won the ball just outside the forward 50, but this time her kick was intercepted by a defender, though not taken cleanly and locked up.
She nominated herself into the ruck at that next stoppage and won an effective hitout, then a couple of minutes later with the ball pinging up the other end, pushed up to the wing to be a long-leading target. Midway through the term she was again leading, this time inside 50 sliding down, but the pass inside was just a little short and bounced off her chest. Her term would end with another strong mark and then slick pass into the middle with great vision to hit-up a teammate.
A minute and a half into the second term, Clark found space inside 50 and took a great mark, but her set shot missed to the left. She continued to pressure opponents whenever she trailed them around the contest or at a loose ball, but her aerial ability and reading of the play was outstanding, as she once again read the flight of an inside 50 and pulled down the grab. Her set shot on this occasion made not mistake and she slotted her first goal.
Though her aerial dominance was clear, Clark is underrated at ground level, with a great pickup off the deck to give to a teammate effectively, despite being under immense pressure. She did rush a kick at the seven-minute mark though when she was 25m out, instead throwing it high on the boot towards the goalsquare where it was spoiled. During the next five minutes she would compete in a series of ruck contests, winning more than she lost which was impressive for a 173cm player.
Later in the term, Clark clunked a contested mark in the forward pocket, just reading the play to perfection in teh air, and using her body well to protect the drop zone and position herself well. She slotted the 15m goal to make it two for the day, and then three minutes later had a two-grab mark on the top of 50, kicking it to the danger zone.
On the half-time siren she got a handball out to herself as she was tackled before punching it clear to try and create something in the final seconds. By half-time, Clark had picked up the 10 disposals, taken six marks and booted two goals.
Through no fault of her own, the third term was Clark’s quietest, largely because the ball spent the first 10 minutes up the GIANTS Academy’s end. When she realised she was not getting much of the play, Clark worked her way up to half-back to mark at the 11:20 moment, then kicked to a contest on the wing, streaming down the ground. A minute later, she was on the goalline pressuring an opponent to rush a behind.
In the 13th minute, she won the ball in a contest and was able to just get a handball off, then set up a goal from the ruck stoppage in the 15th minute. She pulled the ball down out of the ruck and handballed to a teammate who gave it off for a running goal.
Seeing more of the action again in the final term, Clark found the going a little more tough aerially as her opponents went to work on making sure she could not have that extra few metres to run and lead. The first chance she had at marking came at the four and a half minute mark where she was pushed under the ball. She recovered to win the ball at ground level moments later but was forced to get rid of it as she was tackled.
Pulling down a strong contested mark in the sixth minute followed by an outstanding lace-out pass inside 50 to a leading target between opposing defenders was sensational. Her next two inside 50s were not as ideal, turning both over, though she intercepted a mark in between, and for the second turnover, a free kick was paid to the Devils so the home side ended up having a shot on goal.
At the eight-minute stage of the term, she flew for a mark on the wing but it slipped through her fingers, something that happened again a few minutes later with an opponent bearing down on her. Her last moment of brilliance for the day was a clean pickup at ground level to five off an effective handball to a running Madison Lamb streaming into goal.
CLOSING THOUGHTS …
Georgia Clark looms as one of the most impressive key forwards in the AFLW Draft. In terms of her natural footballing ability and athletic capacity, she has the best balance among the draft prospects, and looked too strong inside 50 against the GIANTS Academy. Incredibly, she could have ended up with double-figure marks had she had a few more around the ground, but as a whole her hands were like velcro. Though her offensive game was outstanding, her defensive one – which has always been up there in terms of key forwards – was just as impressive, but her work rate to cover the ground seemingly better than in previous seasons was on show, and she looms as a key talent to watch in 2023.