Scouting Notes: 2023 Coates Talent League Girls – Round 2
PLAYERS are hitting their stride in the Coates Talent League, and there were many impressive performances across Round 2. In the four games this past weekend, both Sydney-based academies notched wins, as did the GWV Rebels and Dandenong Stingrays for the first time this season. We highlight some of the top performers in our Scouting Notes.
By: Peter Williams
The bottom-age small is an exciting talent who has had a promising fortnight to start the season. She has the burst to escape opposition clutches and is clean under pressure. Able to match up against bigger and stronger opponents, the 160cm defender/midfielder burst away from the quick Keck at one point and even brought a ball to ground against two opponents. She occasionally can do a bit too much and did kick a ball out on the full midway through the third term, but was a star across the fourth quarters and set up many scoring opportunities.
The AFLW Academy member returned for her second match since her severe leg injury and began to get the run back into the legs, literally. She used every opportunity out of defence to take off and break the lines, and really gained a lot of metres working in transition. Her polish, particularly when at full speed needs that polish as she did turn it over a few times and it came straight back, but her instinct to take the game on and move the ball quickly was very impressive. When she turns on the jets, she is hard to run-down, even mowing down the speedy O’Rourke in the opening term.
#11 Molly Walton
Leads from the front in each game and never gives up. She tends to find herself in all thirds of the ground, and though she is mostly playing midfield, works hard to intercept in defence, or sneak into a hole up forward. As she did in Round 1, Walton got inside 50 to convert a goal in the third term from a set shot, and continually applied good defensive pressure. Her execution under pressure is a work in progress, but Walton took a great one-on-one intercept mark at half-back during the second term which was her bread and butter.
#15 Millie Lang
The key defender was again prominent in the back half of the ground and even found herself pushing up to thump the ball inside 50. Her hands are terrific and she is composure under pressure with a raking left foot that can clear the defensive 50 easily. She is not afraid to run from the defensive 50 and will beat most players in the air. Lang did make a mistake in the fourth term where she turned the ball over from a kickout which resulted in a Douglas goal, but she knew she had made a mistake and will be able to use that as learning going forward. Overall another strong game.
#24 Lily Jordan
Right now has a case for the most improved player in the Coates Talent League over the first two rounds, kicking another two goals from three scoring shots, and being unlucky not to kick three or four. She is incredibly clever inside 50 and a great kick of the ball under pressure, with her impact on games lifting from last season. Jordan only had the 14 disposals and two goals, but she just creates so much scoreboard pressure both personally and for her side, running into kick a major in the first term, then kicking a fantastic goal with a snap around her body late in the third term. She hit up targets inside 50 on a number of occasions and looked so damaging inside 50.
#35 Laila Lappin
The ruck/forward stepped up from Round 1 with an important Round 2 game, as the standout tall in the front half of the ground. She did not win a lot of hitouts because she nearly always grabbed the ball with both hands and either handballed to a teammate or bombed it long out of the contest. Her clearance work was really noticeable, and while some were turned over to the opposition due to the bombing nature of the kicks, she also set up her midfielders via her close handballs. Her involvement around the ground from start to finish was noticeable, and she did the team things including tackling and shepherding as well.
#1 Lila Keck
Found the going a lot tougher than in Round 1 where she was a clear best on ground. The Rebels had done their homework on the tenacious and speedy midfielder/forward, and the long-sleeved top-age AFLW Academy member was tackled almost immediately whenever she picked up the ball. She never gave up trying throughout the game and to her credit has definitely improved her mindset when things are not going her way, and did win her fair share of the ball when she could, trying to bring teammates into the game.
Stepped up after a quieter Round 1 game with a big Round 2 match, spending more time in the midfield and racking up the ball with ease. She went in hard, won plenty of ball at the coalface, and even if she was tackled, she stood up to get the ball clear, or won free kicks for being held. She did give away some herself, but showed her class with some nice clean pickups, spins out of traffic then able to hit targets on either side of her body. She started the fourth term with an opening minute fend-off and clearance. Overall was one of the Pioneers’ best with her work around the ground.
#26 Jemmika Douglas
One of the most naturally gifted players out there, Douglas caught the eye with a high impact per possession. She often won the ball either on the wing or at half-forward and rarely wasted an opportunity. She provided a target when inside 50, leading out and marking then putting it to teammates’ advantage. In the fourth term she intercepted a ball from a kick-in, ran in and slotted the major on the run despite being under immense pressure.
By: Michael Alvaro
#21 Kloe McElhinney
Tasked with an enormous load of work in defence, McElhinney was one of Murray’s generals behind the ball and had little trouble getting among the action. She took the kick-ins and looked to gain meterage before showcasing her fluent kicking action, but found it tough to help Murray connect coming out of defensive 50. Especially early on, she was left one-out close to goal and had mixed results mopping up over the back. Still, a solid effort with 17 touches and eight rebound 50s.
#26 Kaylea Kobzan
Another top-ager among Murray’s defensive unit, Kobzan ended up level with McElhinney on eight rebound 50s in a high-pressure role. She took on a couple of tricky matchups against dangerous Sydney forwards and held up well defensively, while her kick penetration came to the fore when tasked with kick-in duties. At 172cm, she can play above her height but still holds her own across the ground.
#39 Alice Voss
Voss has put together a couple of solid games to start the season and continues the trend of top-age Murray defenders in this thread. She looked to take the game on and break lines with touches of speed, having ample opportunity to do so with her team-high 20 disposals. Seven of them were rebound 50s, with Voss kept very busy behind the ball in the Bushies’ 72-point loss.
One of two Swans to pop up with three goals on Saturday, Watton was a threat on the end of Sydney’s seemingly endless supply of inside 50s. She snared two of her majors back-to-back in the opening term; first using her speed to catch a Murray defender in possession, and next converting a set shot from the pocket just before the siren. Watton also proved capable aerially with a couple of strong marks, and capped her game with a straightforward conversion in the final term.
#10 Olivia Morris
The standout player afield in a ball winning sense, Morris racked up a round-high 34 disposals to be recognised as Rookie Me Central’s Player of the Week. She was clearly the most capable accumulator at stoppages, leaning on her running capacity to get from contest to contest and making an impact more often than not. Though at her size (167cm) she can be cleaner at ground level, she was effective enough and flicked out a whopping 19 handballs at the coalface.
#14 Kendra Blattman
One of the finds of the day after a steadier outing last week, Blattman took full toll as Sydney’s primary ruck with 18 disposals and 25 hitouts. Not only did she make her mark at the contest, but the 177cm top-ager also made use of her time up forward with three goals – two of which came in the final term. In a ruck sense, her ability to get first hand to the ball and guide her taps was impressive, and went a long way to feeding the Swans’ prolific midfielders.
#19 Emma Juneja
Juneja took little time to catch the eye on Saturday as she popped up with the first goal of the game. Streaming forward from her primary post on the wing, she steadied beautifully before converting cooly on the run. The touch footy convert held good positions on the outside and ran hard in attacking phases, notching 18 disposals and four inside 50s for her troubles.
#22 Ella Parker
Coming off an outstanding three-goal performance in Round 1, Parker was again keen to make her mark on the scoreboard but ended up impacting in other ways. Though she was matched up by capable opponents, Parker still claimed 15 disposals and five marks as somewhat of a spearhead for the Swans. As all helmet-donning players should, she had a real crack and absorbed a good amount of contact along the way.
In what was potentially her best game yet for the Swans, Turner-Funk finished behind only Morris atop the disposal charts, snaring 22 and pumping forward five inside 50s. The over-ager used her turn of speed and smooth step to break to the outside, and was not afraid to back herself when close to goal. The latter didn’t always come off, though she booted a well deserved goal in term three. The next step will be sharpening up her decision making at the contest.
By: Peter Williams
A very clean and clever player inside 50, she worked hard to win the ball, and though her polish to kick under pressure was not always 100 per cent, she was able to distribute by hand well and looked to spin out of trouble consistently. She took a sliding mark on the wing in the fourth term and was able to deliver to half-forward neatly. Marescuk also had a great run-down tackle to win a free kick in the second term and set up a coring chance.
#7 Sara Howley
Had the ball on a string yet again this week, and while she did not hit the scoreboard like in Round 1, the bottom-age talent battled away to be a prominent player in the Geelong mdifield. Her line-breaking was on display particularly early, but as the pressure mounted she found the going a little tougher. After finding immense amounts of space over the first 30 minutes, the Stingrays tightened up on her and she had to work even harder to get into space. Still having areas to work on in terms of her kicking consistency when under pressure, Howley has a lot of potential with her incredible speed and impact in transition.
The winger was one who was clean and had a great technique throughout the match. She read the ball so well on the outside and was able to find space and take off to break the lines. Her repeat efforts were also noticeable and while she is not always a high possession winner, finished with 18 disposals and laid seven tackles.
#25 Chloe Adams
The Geelong Falcons captain hardly puts a foot wrong in terms of her consistency, and yet again she was a prolific player in the resistance against the Stingrays. She got forward to kick a goal late in the first term, but did her best work through the middle where she covered immense amounts of ground. She cracked in, and won the contested ball and battled on until the end. Though under pressure and forced to rush her touches at times, when having that time and space she could find teammates with clean, neat passes.
The key forward announced herself as an important tall, converting four goals in a strong aerial performance. She was too big for her opponents, and though she did miss a couple of shots she would normally nail, Butterworth came to the party in the third term where she slotted two goals in a few minutes and almost had a third that sprayed to the right. She capped off her day with a fourth major in the last term, with all of her goals coming from set shots. Managed the 15 disposals, five marks and 4.1 for the match.
After injury affected her year in 2022, Robertson started the season promisingly with an impressive Round 1 effort and again in Round 2. Unfortunately she had to be helped off late in the match after a clash in the middle, but prior to that found her fair share of the pill through the middle. She used the ball well and won it both on the inside and in transition and can kick long, finishing with 19 disposals in effectively three quarters, also having four inside 50s and three rebound 50s.
#10 Brooke Smith
The skilful over-ager played forward and managed to hit the scoreboard twice thanks to her smarts. She took a great grab overhead and convert a set shot from 20 metres for her first goal, then snapped a major out of nothing inside 50 later in the game. She is still building up her tank after last year was curtailed due to injury, but has the skill and game sense to do a lot of damage wherever she plays, having been stationed in all thirds of the ground over her career.
#25 Jemma Reynolds
Got into the right place at the right time about 15 metres out from goal and marked off a miskick from a Geelong defender to put the ball straight over the goal umpire’s head. She was clean under pressure at ground level and though often dragged down when she went near it, when she had possession she was able to hit targets and catch the eye with her disposal and decision making.
GIANTS Academy Girls
By: Michael Alvaro
#16 Ash Centra
Arguably the most talented Power player afield, it was a frustrating kind of outing for Centra on Sunday. The bottom-ager started out at centre half-forward and was largely starved of opportunity in the first half, before being shifted on-ball and showcasing some of her talent. What stood out most was Centra’s elite field kicking, and she looks to have learned a few tricks in the way of bodywork despite being pinged for a couple of pushes. Going forward, she can continue to work on her running capacity and consistency of application.
#18 Siena Lane
There was plenty for Lane to do down back as the Giants Academy dominated territory for large parts of the game, but she held up relatively well. As somewhat of a general in the backline, the bottom-ager held her own when intercepting and among a number of Power players to show good fight against the tide.
#21 Amber Schutte
Gippsland’s standout top-ager this year, Schutte was another who had her hands full in defence. She showed a good sense of urgency in possession, looking to take grass and pump the ball long whenever she could, though it often came right back. Schutte even got a late run in midfield as the Power’s prime movers looked to finish on a high note.
One of a number of Giants to show good spurts of athleticism, Prosser-Shaw worked well when able to twist and turn her way onto the outside, where she leant on her turn of speed. She was stationed on the wing and got involved in GWS’ attacking phase, assisting Jaimee Kitchener’s goal before the half time siren.
#16 Ashley Patton
It was another promising showing from Patton, who has some seriously good traits as a bottom-ager. Though she only managed eight touches, her five tackles helped lock the ball inside GWS’ attacking arc, and she showed her class with a fluent set shot goal in the second term. Patton looks at her best when taking opponents on, and her power bodes well for plenty more midfield minutes in the future.
Doing plenty of tough stuff at the contest, de Castella backed up a more prolific Round 1 outing with 13 disposals and seven tackles. Especially in the early stages, she was one of the Giants’ main ball winners and showed good intent going both ways to drive her legs in possession, but also apply herself defensively. While relatively small at 165cm, she proved strong and helped the Giants get on top where it mattered.
#27 Melanie Staunton
Arguably best afield on the day, Staunton took the contest by the scruff of the neck and stamped her authority as a National Academy talent. As is always the case, her hardness at the contest was unquestionable and she leant on similar bursts of power to drive GWS forward. Staunton’s willingness to force stoppage exits was admirable, though it got her caught on a few occasions as opponents scrambled to keep ahold of her. A fourth quarter goal was reward for effort and came through absolutely no lack of trying in that sense.
#35 Cleo Buttifant
Buttifant has been one of the finds of the 2023 Coates Talent League season having recently converted from touch football. Though she looks set to miss next week through national commitments to said code, the top-ager has shown plenty thus far. On Sunday, she racked up 19 disposals, seven inside 50s and four rebound 50s across centre half-back, where she pressed high to intercept before setting off at speed. Her attacking instincts and reading of the play were excellent for a player with such little experience, and those ‘wow’ moments of speed carried on from Round 1. One to watch.