2023 Coates Talent League R3 preview: Tasmania Devils vs. Western Jets
A FULL complement of seven matches takes place this weekend, with all 13 Coates Talent League Girls teams in action across the first two days of April. It will mark the first time for the season that the metropolitan teams enter the fray, with the boys and girls matches having double-headers on the Saturday, before a girls’ double-header on the Sunday.
The Match of the Round sees reigning premiers Western Jets come into the competition with an away trip to the Apple Isle to clash with Tasmania Devils. The Devils kick-started their year off with an impressive win over GWS GIANTS Academy in Launceston, and now head to Dial Park to meet the Jets. These two sides clashed in Round 1 last season, with the Devils causing an upset on the team that would go through the remainder of the season undefeated and win the flag.
TOP-AGE DRAFT WATCH:
#24 Georgia Clark (Tasmania Devils)
12/11/2005 | 174cm | Key Forward
Winding back the clock to Round 1, Clark was outstanding up forward, booting two goals from 19 disposals and nine marks, and after a week off returns to action. She is a figurehead up forward, but has a lot of support in terms of height this season, and the Devils’ defence will stretch a lot of sides. The leading Coates Talent League tall forward talent at this stage.
#36 Bellah Parker (Tasmania Devils)
12/11/2005 | 174cm | Tall Forward
Missing Round 1, Clark’s partner-in-crime in Parker returns, with the pair sharing identical birthdays, and identical heights. That is even before you factor in Parker being the other tall forward inside 50 for the Devils last season. Tasmania found plenty to stand up in her absence, but expect the vice-captain to be tough to match up on, and be a tall target to kick to inside 50.
#14 Kiera Whiley (Western Jets)
07/04/2005 | 173cm | Midfielder
Though the skipper will play midfield this season, Whiley is one of the most balanced players going around. She has the traits that allow her to play inside, outside, forward or back, and ticks a lot of boxes along the way. A member of the AFLW Academy, Whiley is a neat user of the ball, good decision maker and does not have too many flaws to her game.
#13 Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner (Western Jets)
01/07/2005 | 178cm | Midfielder/Forward
The X-factor of the team, and indeed draft crop this year, Weston-Turned is that key position size midfielder/forward who can run like the wind and possesses a booming kick. She is a raw talent who is still improving aspects of her game such as consistency within matches, but her athletic profile and highlights are incredible. Last season she kicked a goal from the centre circle at Mars Stadium so buckle up for a big year.
OVERAGE DRAFT PICK:
#45 Krystal Russell (Western Jets)
22/09/2004 | 180cm | Ruck
Few rucks have pieced together more consistent seasons than Russell over the last couple of years, but due to the lack of rucks being picked up in last year’s AFLW Draft, she returns back to the Western Jets. Likely to have an advantage over most given her height and leap, Russell does her best work in the contest, but who could forget her first goal last season, the winning goal in the grand final.
#11 Lou-Lou Field (Western Jets)
23/02/2006 | 174cm | Defender/Midfielder
Incredibly still a bottom-ager after becoming an automatic selection in the eventual premiers side last season throughout 11 games. Field turned 17 last month, and averaged 14.5 disposals, 2.3 marks, 5.8 tackles and 3.7 rebound 50s. A silky kick of the ball and smooth-mover off half-back, she is looming as an incredible talent for next year’s draft.
#15 Priya Bowering (Tasmania Devils)
02/01/2007 | 168cm | Midfielder
Bowering broke all sorts of ceilings last season, debuting despite being a triple bottom-ager. Born two days into 2007, it means Bowering is not eligible to be drafted until 2025, but looks readymade right now. Across seven games last year, Bowering averaged 15.9 disposals and 6.4 tackles playing through the midfield. She has a while to go, but will standout for her aggressive intent, and natural ball-winning skills.
Tasmania Devils will have the upper hand at home, and having played the one Coates Talent League match already, have the additional runs on the board. Western Jets will be a strong side this season, but it will be interesting to see how quickly it takes them to adapt with a new coach, and minus Top 10 stars, Montana Ham and Charlotte Baskaran.
AROUND THE GROUNDS:
Calder Cannons vs. Sandringham Dragons
Saturday, April 1 @ Highgate Recreation Reserve, 9am
Both teams enter the 2023 season for the first time with an early start at Cragieburn tomorrow. Calder vice-captain Amy Gaylor is the one to watch from the Cannons, set to lead from the middle as a consistent contested ball-winner. She will go head-to-head with overage talent Ella Sciberras, while forward Mia Zielinski is a strong marking target inside 50. Future star, Chloe Baker-West is a 2007-born talent with enormous potential, winning the Vic Metro Under 16s MVP as a bottom-ager last season.
Bendigo Pioneers vs. GWS GIANTS Academy
Saturday, April 1 @ Queen Elizabeth Oval, 9:45am
Both these sides sit at 1-1 after two games, with the Pioneers going down to the Rebels after a Round 1 win over Murray Bushrangers, while the GIANTS Academy bounced back from a loss to the Devils with a victory of the Bushrangers. Based on that form, the GIANTS will be favourites, with co-captain Melanie Staunton and tall defender Cleo Buttifant among the standouts in the first fortnight. For the Pioneers, Lucia Painter brought her own ball last week, while Jemmika Douglas was classy inside 50.
Geelong Falcons vs. Oakleigh Chargers
Saturday, April 1 @ Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, 11am
Geelong Falcons have lived at Deakin University Waurn Ponds this season, with a third straight match there, this time up against Oakleigh Chargers. The Falcons duo of captain Chloe Adams and bottom-age talent Sara Howley have been the standouts as they have won one of two thus far. Oakleigh comes into 2023 off an extended preseason, with running defender Lara Hausegger one of the top-age talents to watch. Melbourne eligible father-daughter Jemma Rigoni has also returned to the Dragons and showed promising signs at times over the last two seasons.
Murray Bushrangers vs. Northern Knights
Saturday, April 1 @ Wangaratta Showgrounds, 12pm
Murray Bushrangers are still searching for the their first win following a narrow defeat to Bendigo, then a heavier loss to the Swans last week. Northern Knights enter the fray for the first time this season, with pocket dynamo Ava Jordan the one to watch in 2023 as she looks to play forward, while co-captain Lulu Beatty is one of the higher touted overagers. The defence of the Bushrangers has found plenty of the ball in recent weeks, with Kloe McElhinney and Kaylea Kobzan having a good first fortnight.
Eastern Ranges vs. Dandenong Stingrays
Sunday, April 2 @ Kilsyth Recreation Reserve, 10am
The other match set to be a bumper one kicks off a double-header at Kilsyth, with Eastern Ranges becoming the last Coates Talent League team to begin proceedings. Eastern has named brilliant left-footer Alyssia Pisano for her first game back after a long-term injury, which ironically and unfortunately, happened against the Dandenong Stingrays last season. The matchup to watch is Ranges’ ruck Jess Vukic taking on Bianca Lyne at times, with the latter also rotating into the midfield. Sophie Butterworth is also coming off a four-goal haul and will likely go head-to-head with tall defender, Ava Campbell.
Gippsland Power vs. GWV Rebels
Sunday, April 2 @ Kilsyth Recreation Reserve, 12pm
The final match of the round sees Gippsland Power hosting GWV Rebels at Kilsyth, with the Rebels searching for back-to-back victories, while the Power hope to build on the Round 2 loss to GIANTS Academy. Lily Jordan has made a blistering start to the 2023 season, while Isabella Davies and Millie Lang have provided great run from defence. Gippsland will look to similar impact from Amber Schutte, with Ash Centra the one who can do a lot of damage for the Power.