2023 AFLW U16s Pool A preview: Grand finale

WESTERN Australia and South Australia play off for the title of Pool A champion at the AFL Women’s Under 16 Championships following respective victories over Vic Country and Vic Metro. The two sides looked strong last Sunday at Arden Street, and now the Sandgropers play on their home deck against a Croweaters side that is less experienced, but has plenty of talent.


Western Australia was far too good for Vic Country in the first game of the double-header as the Sandgropers won each of the four quarters to run out 10.15 (75) to 2.3 (15) winners. West Perth young gun Mia Russo starred with 24 disposals – including 15 after half-time – to take control in the midfield with eight clearances, seven inside 50s and a goal. She and bottom-ager India Bonadeo were outstanding, with the latter also picking up 24 disposals, and having seven clearances, five inside 50s and a goal.

South Australia took a little while to get some momentum but a three goals to one final term saw the visitors come away with the 8.5 (53) to 2.9 (21) win over Vic Metro. There were plenty of contributors in the win, with Central District’s Sophie Eaton leading by example with five inside 50s and a goal from 18 touches and four marks, while Charlie Hazelhurst was strong in defence with six rebound 50s to go with 20 touches and seven tackles.


Sunday, April 30 @ Pentanet Stadium, 10:00am Western Australia, 11:30am South Australia

Western Australia returns home to Pentanet Stadium where the Sandgropers host South Australia to determine the AFLW Under 16s Pool A title. Of the sides, the girls from the west were the more impressive of the two, but the Croweaters had a lot of inexperienced players running around in the tri-colours.

A key to the game will be how it is played and whether the conditions suit the taller Western Australia, or the speedier South Australians. In saying that, the home team still has plenty of speed at ground level to complement the talls, while South Australia has a sprinkling of talls, or medium-talls who can play above their height and still provide mobility and speed around the ground.

Subiaco duo Olivia Wolmarans and Olivia Crane were very impressive in game one, with Wolmarans’ let down by her kicking, but she was clunking just about anything in her range. She found plenty of the ball and was a force to be reckoned with, while Crane was a smooth-moving midfielder for the most part, having cut her teeth as a rebounding defender with the Lions.

Norwood’s Hazelhurst might get the job on Wolmarans after impressing for the Croweaters in game one in defence, while the likes of Eaton, Sturt’s Monique Bessen and South Adelaide’s Lily Baxter have the class in the forward half. They will need to be wary of the counter attack though, with Lucy Greenwood and Sienna Gerardi dangerous at ground level.

Up the other end, Evie Cowcher provided her usual run and carry out of the back 50, with forward Steph Tredwell playing further afield against Vic Metro. The smalls of Matilda Wilmore and Sarcha Taylor can do plenty of damage though, with Marie Polimeno and Juliet Kelly having important roles back there.

At home Western Australia will be fancied to get the win, but South Australia will be better for the first match, and it sets up a tantalising head-to-head between the two strongest Pool A sides.

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