2023 Coates Talent League R2 preview: GWV Rebels vs. Bendigo Pioneers

ONE round is in the books and the 2023 Coates Talent League country teams return for the second week of action, welcoming Gippsland Power into the competition. Tasmania joins the metropolitan teams in having a bye for Round 2, while the two NSW/ACT Northern Academies return for a second week with the other Victorian country sides. In today’s preview, we focus on the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Bendigo Pioneers matchup.

  • Team
  • GWV Rebels
  • Bendigo Pioneers

A couple of rivals go head-to-head in Round 2 of the Coates Talent League, with the sides coming off opposite results in tight Round 1 matches. GWV Rebels went down to Geelong Falcons at Waurn Ponds last Saturday, while Bendigo Pioneers scraped home to get over the Murray Bushrangers by a single point at Rumbalara on Sunday.


GWV Rebels:

#5 Jessica Rentsch (GWV Rebels)
11/10/2005 | 172cm | Defender/Wing

The AFLW Academy member made her long awaited return last week from a broken leg and made it through the game unscathed. Still building up her fitness and confidence, Rentsch had a couple of trademark runs through the middle, but largely played off half-back where she could mop up. Expect her to be used in a similar role here, and perhaps even go toe-for-toe with Keck when forward.

#35 Laila Lappin (GWV Rebels)
10/05/2005 | 180cm | Key Forward/Ruck

Spending more time up the ground when rucking and finding the ball in more areas than last year, Lappin provided a good target to kick to, and was able to win her own ball from the stoppages. Though still working on areas of her game to make her a more rounded player, she is strong, can take a contested mark, and roll through a number of positions.

#1 Lila Keck (Bendigo Pioneers)
20/10/2005 | 162cm | Midfielder/Forward

The AFLW Academy member looked a class above in Round 1, with a match-winning performance that quite literally involved the last goal, and a behind to level the scores. She was clean, skilful and just got to the right spots on the ground to be the difference between the sides and ensure the Pioneers came away with the one-point win over the Bushrangers.

#14 Bryde O’Rourke (Bendigo Pioneers)
28/11/2005 | 175cm | Midfielder/Forward

O’Rourke had some dazzling moments in Round 1, with a couple of nice eye-catching bursts, particularly when playing high half-forward. She was able to kick a couple of goals for her troubles, and at 175cm with her explosive speed, she is hard to catch when she gets goalside. A bit of a raw talent still, O’Rourke will be one to watch this season as a high-upside player.


#11 Molly Walton (GWV Rebels)
06/05/2004 | 173cm | Midfielder/Defender

The GWV Rebels leadership group member is one of those players you know exactly what you are going to get each and every week. She is a good size at 173cm and can roll both through defence and the midfield, but critically is getting better at hitting the scoreboard as she did in Round 1. Though composure is a key area for Walton to improve in close, she reads the play so well and often wins most of her possessions from intercepting be it off half-back or a kick behind the play.


#5 Lucia Painter (Bendigo Pioneers)
23/02/2006 | 174cm | Utility

One of the top players in next year’s draft, standing at 174cm with outstanding athletic traits, incredible footy nous and can play on any line. What stands out about Painter perhaps the most is her dual-sidedness, making her extra dangerous the way she can exit a stoppage either side and not have to throw it on the outside of the boot or make her opposite foot look obvious. Started rusty in Round 1 but worked into it in the second half, and will enjoy the open spaces of Mars Stadium.

#15 Millie Lang (GWV Rebels)
06/11/2006 | 177cm | Key Defender

Fresh off a remarkable debut, the Rebels have definitely found one here for next year. Intercept defenders who are 177cm and do as well in the air as they do at ground level do not grow on trees, and Lang fits the bill as one to watch. Throw in her booming kick, Lang was an anchor in the back 50 last week against Geelong Falcons, so the Pioneers will need to be wary of her rather than just bombing long inside 50. A super exciting talent for 2024.


The match promises to be a nail-biter given the Round 1 results. The Pioneers tend to have the top-end class, but the Rebels look to have a slightly deeper list, which makes it an exciting match at Mars Stadium. The fact it is at the Rebels’ home ground means they should get the job done, though it is a genuine coin toss match that could go either way.


Murray Bushrangers vs. Sydney Swans Academy
Saturday, March 25 @ Highgate Recreation Reserve, 12:15pm

Murray Bushrangers are coming off that heartbreaking one-point loss to Bendigo Pioneers and will be looking to bounce back here, while the Sydney Swans Academy got the best possible audition to prepare for Craigieburn with the Hastings breeze last week. AFLW Academy members Olivia Morris and Marnie Robinson are among those to watch, while the Bushrangers reutilised Paige Duffy on-ball, and Kaylea Kobzan showed promising traits off half-back.

Geelong Falcons vs. Dandenong Stingrays
Saturday, March 25 @ Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, 12:30pm

A carbon copy of Round 1 for Geelong Falcons, who return to Waurn Ponds for a clash against a Dandenong Stingrays outfit that would have been disappointed with its Round 1 loss to Sydney Swans Academy. The Stingrays had a crucial late out in AFLW Academy member Mikayla Williamson, while Meg Robertson impressed after an injury-affected 2022 season. For the Falcons, they will be hoping to go back-to-back to start the season, with Sara Howley winning our Player of the Week award in Round 1, while Chloe Adams will not give her opposition an inch.

Gippsland Power vs. GWS GIANTS Academy
Sunday, March 26 @ Highgate Recreation Reserve, 10am

Gippsland Power enters the 2023 Coates Talent League with a “home” fixture against GWS GIANTS Academy first up as part of a Triple Header with the boys’ competition on Sunday at Craigieburn. The Power have a lot of talented young guns coming through headlined by Ash Centra, while Amber Schutte is a name to remember for this season. AFLW Academy member Melanie Staunton held her own down on the Apple Isle against the Devils in a Round 1 loss, while Ashley Patton has caught attention this season with some impressive performances.

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