2023 AFLW U18s preview: Western Australia vs South Australia

IN the second of a double-header between the two states, Western Australia’s Under 18s side will host South Australia’s equivalent team in an April special to open the carnival. The Sandgropers lock horns with the Croweaters from 12pm local time in Perth (1:30pm Adelaide time) in the first of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships matches which continue during the middle of Winter.


Western Australia produced the one win at last year’s AFL Women’s carnival, with a handful of bottom-agers making their transition into their top-age year campaign this year. Among them are a trio of AFL Women’s Academy members in Kaitlyn Srhoj, Jaime Henry and Georgie Cleaver, while key position utility Anjelique Raison, talented forward Eva O’Donnell, tall defender-forward Liliana Grassenis and other key position players Charlotte Newland and overager Mackenzie Webb returning for another year.

South Australia will have the five AFL Women’s Academy members at the 2023 national carnival including reigning MVP Shineah Goody, midfielder/forwards Piper Window and Elaine Grigg and balanced midfielder Molly Brooksby. The fifth is 2021 South Australian MVP Lauren Young who returns to the squad after missing out last year due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Sturt defender Lily Whitcombe is the other top-age player who returns for another season.

The Croweaters also blooded a number of double bottom-agers at last year’s carnival, with the now bottom-agers in Charlotte Riggs, Lucy Boyd and India Rasheed all X-factors in the team. Two bottom-agers in Violet Patterson and Jemma Charity did not crack in for a game at last year’s carnival, but were named in the squad, and have been named once again.


Western Australia has an exciting crop of 2006-born talents highlighted by running defender Zippy Fish. She will be among some top-end talents such as Sharks teammate Taya Chambers, South Fremantle duo Noa McNaughton and Molly O’Hehir and West Perth winger Megan Norbury

East Fremantle utility Natasha Entwistle, Peel Thunder defender Dakota Sexton, her ruck teammate Kate Newson and fellow Thunder midfielder/forward Holly Britton – sister of Eagles’ Jaide – are other 2006-born players set to take part in the carnival. Claremont bottom-ager Claudia Wright also made the squad but will miss the carnival due to injury.

Aside from the 2006-born talents the South Australians have brought back from above, there are a few others who have earned a place in the team this year. Central District’s Jasmine Evans and Norwood’s Coby Morgan are two such players who have really stepped up this year for their respective League sides, while Laela Ebert returned from a long-term injury to make an impact in the SANFL Women’s in 2023.

Woodville-West Torrens forward Grace Martin is coming off a three-goal performance, while sisters of, West Adelaide’s Ruby Ballard (Abbie, Adelaide AFLW) and Glenelg’s Poppy Scholz (Matilda, Port Adelaide AFLW) are also in the squad with South Adelaide defender Esther Schirmer.

West Adelaide duo Asha Dufour and Emma Kilpatrick have made the squad but will miss game one as will double bottom-agers Sophie Eaton and Monique Bessen who are playing in the Under 16s game.


Claremont speedster Ella Slocombe is the pick of the new 2005-born talents, with big improvers Caylen Crook and Tayah Palmer also coming into the squad. Subiaco tough nut Madison Dodd steps back into the Black Ducks’ uniform after representing her state in the past, while Swan Districts tall Brooke Edwards is the other top-ager included in the squad. Forwards Mylee Leitch and Eva Popovsky are others who will don the Black Ducks’ uniform as over-agers, though the former will miss this weekend’s game.

For South Australia, South Adelaide ruck Jacinda Schunselaar and Sturt speedster Zara Walsh are fresh faces into the mix. The Panthers have a stack of players brought in for the first time with Brooke Boileau, Holly Ifould, Melissa Anderson and Alissa Brook all top-agers. Eagles’ defender Chloe Charity and midfielder/forward Marlie Fiegert made the full squad this year after missing the cut in 2022 to complete the 2005-born contingent.


Shineah Goody vs. Kaitlyn Srhoj

Both are capable of playing inside and outside with terrific speed and work rate. Goody is the benchmark in terms of her running capacity and pure silk, while Srhoj steps up at representative level, like during the under 17s Futures match where both these players won their respective team’s MVPs.

Lauren Young vs. Taya Chambers/Mackenzie Webb

The potential top AFLW draft prospect returns to the tri-colours for the first time in a couple of years. She will likely go up against either bottom-ager Chambers or over-ager Webb. Chambers has the pace to match her, while Webb is more of the stronger one-on-one defensive types. It has proven near-impossible to contain Young in the past though.

Piper Window vs. Jaime Henry

Of all the matchups, this seems the most suitable at the stoppages and when Window goes forward seeing as Henry developed at Swan Districts as a defender initially. Window has the explosive speed that Henry does not have, but the latter matches her in strength, and her kicking is far more potent which makes it a fascinating matchup.

Jacinda Schunselaar vs. Georgie Cleaver

This could be a huge challenge for Schunselaar who has been South Adelaide’s Development League ruck this season. She stands at 180cm and has great athleticism, which she will need against the equally mobile Cleaver. The East Fremantle talent is coming off an injury-interrupted start to the WAFLW season and has been juggling her netball commitments, but can have a huge impact in games.

Lily Whitcombe/Charlotte Riggs vs Anjelique Raison

The defensive setup of the Croweaters will be very interesting, with Whitcombe and Riggs both likely to play roles through there. Whitcombe is the most suitable in terms of strength to match Raison, while Riggs is not as strong, but will be the more athletic of the two. All three are competitive players with good footy IQ, and Raison will have the strength, but the Sturt and Central District defenders have good closing speed.

India Rasheed vs Zippy Fish

Honestly these two are unlikely to play on each other due to the 12cm height differential in Rasheed’s favour, but it would be a tantalising matchup. Both are incredibly athletic, have strong hands and elite kicking ability. Rasheed will roam up into the midfield and even attend some centre bounces, while Fish starts off half-back and can cut teams apart with her running capacity. Two of the contenders for the top players for next year.


Last time these teams met in 2022, South Australia came away with a massive win. The Sandgropers will be looking for a much closer contest, and have beefed up their talent at a bottom-age level to show off some exciting players. However expect the visitors to be too strong with an array of experienced players at the level across all thirds of the ground.

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