Scouting Notes: 2023 Talent League Girls – Round 8

A MIXED bag of thrashings and thrillers took place across Round 8 of the Coates Talent League and once again we highlighted a number of players who caught the eye in our latest Talent League Girls scouting notes. All notes are the opinion of the individual author.

  • Team
  • Gippsland Power
  • Calder Cannons

Gippsland Power:

#15 Jasmine Sowden

The bottom-ager had a breakout game against the Cannons, racking up 22 disposals and having an impact on the wing. Early in the game she shrugged off Kavanagh well and also showed a nice sidestep to evade another opponent and kick down the line. Not only did she add that element of speed in transition, but she also brought the defensive heat, laying 12 tackles.

#16 Ash Centra

Playing on all three lines by the end of the match, Centra was a crucial cog in the defence early which restricted Calder’s scoring. The Power talent mopped up and pinpoint passes with her elite kick over all types of distances. She shrugged off a number of tackles and hardly looked fazed by the pressure, before being thrown forward. Her move forward correlated with Calder getting a run-on and ultimately winning the game, with Centra also having stints on-ball.

#19 Ella Stoddart

Stationed in defence alongside Centra, Stoddart also mopped up well and work up and down the ground to put pressure on the opposition. Using that powerful left boot, Stoddart’s second Talent League game for 2023 was another success, and while she did not have as much aerial presence as she can tend to provide, she did a lot of damage in transition and even had stints further afield including at half-forward.

#25 Lilly Leighton

Looking good between the arcs, Leighton started her day with a strong intercept mark on the defensive side of the centre then would get forward to kick a roving goal off a few steps. She looked composed in the front half of the ground and took another couple of marks for the game, putting the ball long inside 50 to set up scoring opportunities.

#29 Rebecca Fitzpatrick

The double bottom-age utility played forward this week and took just six minutes to hit the scoreboard with a great snap around her body inside 50. She has an effective long kick and hit-up a target inside 50, and has potential to develop over the next couple of years. Also strong overhead, Fitzpatrick played her role and looked lively at half-forward.

Calder Cannons:

#18 Sarah Grunden

The dangerous forward might have only had nine touches, but got time up the field and then looked dangerous inside 50. She laid plenty of tackles and was the distributor going forward, and while her team was under siege early, she was relatively composed, and crucially clean at ground level. Has high upside with traits that standout in challenging conditions.

#19 Kyla Forbes

One of the few who stood up early in the match, the bottom-ager was suited to the conditions as a tough midfielder/forward who was clean at ground level. She also provided a leading target when forward, and though she had a quieter patch through the middle two teams, stepped up in the last quarter to find space, mark uncontested and go back and kick the match-winning goal.

#25 Kayley Kavanagh

Easily the most consistent four-quarter player, Kavanagh’s remarkably stable year rolled on, finding plenty of the ball across the four quarters. Against the odds, the Cannons onballer cracked in and created scoring opportunities for the visitors. Unfortunately the midfielder missed the last six minutes of the game after a big tackle saw her a little worse for wear and had to come off, but she still racked up 23 disposals and had five inside 50s and six tackles, as well as kicking a crucial goal, the only one of the first half for her side.

#39 Bridie Collings

Cracked in across the match to provide support to Kavanagh on-ball, Collings often won the pill and thumped it forward playing to the conditions. She got the ball rolling for the comeback in the fourth term with a terrific snap in the opening minute to get the Cannons up and about. A tough player, she works hard around the ground and provides consistent effort.

Kayley Kavanagh continued her strong season against Gippsland Power | Image credit: Rookie Me Central

  • Team
  • Northern Knights
  • Oakleigh Chargers

By: Michael Alvaro

Northern Knights:

#4 Holly Ridewood

It’s not often that wingers are among the highest tacklers on their team, but Ridewood was on Saturday as she laid eight in aggressive fashion. The bottom-ager competed hard and wrapped up direct opponent Amy Cariss-Brett twice in the opening quarter with phenomenal physicality. She also ended up with 10 disposals and four inside 50s, one of which saw her swoop on the ball at centre half forward before unleashing a shot from long-range which ran over the back for a point.

#11 Hannah Scott

There have been a couple of busy days for Northern defenders this season and Saturday was one, though Scott stood up to the task. She racked up 24 disposals and seven rebound 50s, getting to all the right spots to intercept Oakleigh attacks both in the air and at ground level. She took five marks and laid nine tackles to showcase that balance, reading the play well and hardly letting up throughout the four quarters.

#34 Matilda Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald partnered Scott in defence and was one of Northern’s main interceptors, defying her 163cm standing to pluck a team-high seven marks. She also took on some of the kick-in duties en route to racking up a personal best 24 disposals and seven rebound 50s, and although intercepting Oakleigh kicks became a strength, finding targets with her own proved a touch more difficult on a tough day for the Knights.

Oakleigh Chargers:

#3 Sienna Tallariti

Her side may have kept Northern to just three behinds but Tallariti found a way to get involved in the contest, amassing 26 disposals and eight rebound 50s from defence. She also breached the attacking arc five times, holding a high line to help her Chargers lock the ball in their forward half. The bottom-ager’s best asset is her booming kick, which she unleashed with confidence throughout the game to make transitions much easier for Oakleigh compared to the Knights.

#6 Maggie Mahony

A bottom-ager who has now long been a key part of Oakleigh’s midfield setup, Mahony notched up her third-consecutive game of over 20 disposals on Saturday. She also spent some time in the forward half and often looked to move the ball on quickly, wheeling around onto her right side to get a long kick away. That kind of play made up many of her eight inside 50s, though a goal alluded Mahony as she instead had to settle for two minor scores.

#14 Jorja Jackson

Racking up a game-high 32 disposals, Jackson was a dominant figure around the ball and brought the kind of presence expected of over-age players. She has slowly built her tallies with each game this season and truly broke through on Saturday in a more authoritative outing. With ball in hand, Jackson preferred to go long by foot and it showed in her totals of 23 kicks and seven inside 50s, gaining meterage off a couple of steps as opposed to driving her legs on the outside.

#20 Lily Hart

Another over-ager who has helped the ladder leaders make an ideal start to the season, Hart again snared multiple goals with her two final term majors. She handled the ball well and carried it inside 50 in short bursts, continuing her transition to more of a small forward role. Her scores came consecutively; first with a snap on the handball receive, and then with a set shot after clunking a nice overhead mark.

#25 Emma McDonald

A player who has threatened to tear games apart at times this season, McDonald produced a true breakout performance in Round 8. The 180cm bottom-ager booted 4.2 from 13 disposals and eight marks, putting on a clinic inside 50 with her aerial game and sound conversion. He plucked the ball with ease overhead, holding up in one-on-one contests and reading the flight well when taking the back shoulder. McDonald could well have finished with five or six goals, but had some tricky chances from tight angles which went wide. Nonetheless, three of Oakleigh’s four majors to three-quarter time were next to her name.

  • Team
  • Lions Academy
  • Sandringham Dragons

Brisbane Lions Academy:

#7 Jacinta Baldwick

The Lions Academy’s best in the win, Baldwick was a four-quarter performer and kept finding the ball in a multitude of roles. Though she showed she could win it inside or outside the contest, the 169cm player even had a crack in the ruck, and while that was not her forte, she showed she could be a team player and dig deep. She kicked an important late goal after roving the forward pack with a snap around her body showing good forward craft. With clean hands and a competitive nature, she was a top-ager who has pieced together a couple of solid performances.

#10 Sophie Peters

The AFLW Academy member was a little quieter than the week before, particularly early, but came into the game and impacted through the middle quarters, particularly the third term. When given an inch, Peters can cruise off and use the ball incredibly well, and the next step is about adjusting when under pressure. She has a nice leap to boot, and kicked a nice quick-thinking goal in the third term after Crozier smothered a kickout.

#16 Zimra Hussain

A solid all-round player, Hussain is just a neat kick and smart player who gets into the right spots around the ground. Typically off half-back and knowing when to go forward and provide an extra humber, Hussain is not a long kick but she weights her passes well and also backs herself to take on the opposition’s defensive zones.

#23 Rania Crozier

The athletic tall forward also had a quieter day than the week before, but still found a way to impact the scoreboard with a late goal on the run in the first term. She had a number of other chances throughout the game, with an earlier set shot going wide. Crozier worked up the ground at times to even win the ball at half-back and looked composed with ball0in-hand.

Sandringham Dragons:

#8 Judie Goldman

Goldman is a talented bottom-age prospect who has the inside traits that impact a game with clean hands and a nice sidestep. She wins the majority of her touches at the coalface and feeds out to her outside runners, and even had a brilliant spin and pass off in the second term that cleared the ball from congestion. One area she can continue to build on is backing herself because there were a couple of times where she played the safe first option when she could have taken off and looked for a longer option. Goldman is building nicely for next year though.

#14 Mia Zielinski

Known for her impact on the scoreboard, Zielinski did not kick a goal in the game – having a few shots that either just fell short or just missed, but her work rate was far better in the match. She even found the ball at half-back at certain stages, getting up the ground and then back again as a marking target. Though she will always been that strong marking forward, Zielinski has obviously worked hard on her running over the community break and it showed in the narrow loss.

#15 Sophie McKay

One of the best Dragons in the loss, McKay impacted around the ground, and on the scoreboard, with a goal in the first term. She should have had a shot with her first attempt 20m out, but saw Zielinski and gave it off, before receiving it back and snapping around her body to put it through. She uses the ball well, has that touch of class, and set up another goal in the second term. She finished off the game with a second major taking a mark and converting the set shot from 15m out.

#21 Daisy Flockart

A classy player, Flockart has clean hands and moves well around the ground. She almost kicked a goal earlier in the fourth term but was run-down, though got a second chance in the final 30 seconds and made no mistake. One who catches the eye around the stoppages and in space, Flockart is a name to remember for next year, with a thumping kick to boot, hitting up Zielinski with precision inside 50.

  • Team
  • Bendigo Pioneers
  • Northern Territory Academy

Bendigo Pioneers:

#5 Lucia Painter

The star bottom-ager was again prolific across the ground, winning the ball with ease predominantly through the midfield. She got back to impact the game behind the ball, but with plenty of opportunities to run forward, Painter was particularly influential in transition and putting pressure on the opposition defence. Painter will be our Coates Talent League Girls Player Focus for the week tomorrow which will detail her performance.

#14 Bryde O’Rourke

Not needing a lot of touches to impact the game, O’Rourke’s athleticism stands out, particularly bursting out of the middle and leaving her opponent in her wake. She still has some fundamentals to build on dropping a mark on the wing but then recovered well to give it off. She kicked a big goal in the fourth term with a familiar arrow celebration, and continued to put the Territory on the back foot with her explosiveness.

#26 Jemmika Douglas

The Pioneers utility impacted offensively this week, booting two goals from 21 touches. That included a great snap around her body to put her side in front, but she did work hard to get behind the ball and take an intercept mark inside 50. She looked to breakthrough the stoppages on a number of occasions and showed classy evasion in the process.

Northern Territory:

#2 Marika Carlton

A double bottom-ager, Carlton is a player hard to miss with her slick hands at ground level and explosive speed that catches the eye. She is incredibly clean and quick to get boot to ball, able to get a disposal out before being run-down. Carlton also has enough smarts and skill to use the outside of her boot if needed, and equally applied great defensive pressure. Her 11 disposals seemed about 20 such was her impact.

#4 Emma Stark

A slick winger who can also play forward, Stark kicked a goal from 35m out after reading the play well and getting to the right spot. She was often involved in most link-up chains going forward, and hit-up Carlton all alone at the top of 50. She is quick by hand if tackled and catches the eye with her transitional play.

#6 Tatyana Perry

The standout Territory prospect, Perry is still a bottom-ager but just shines each time she plays. A smooth-moving utility who has been playing in defence for the Territory, Perry is an outstanding kick of the ball and is equally tough despite being a lighter player. She reads the play so well and is able to navigate her way through each situation with a level her. Perry did look a bit sore towards the end of the game, but produced another great effort despite it being in a loss.

  • Team
  • GWV Rebels
  • Tasmania Devils

GWV Rebels:

#5 Jessica Rentsch

Starting on-ball then moving into defence, Rentsch had some nice moments and led by example again, laying a whopping 11 tackles to go with 12 touches. She has that explosiveness that forces opposition players to drag her down quickly and in one instant she was tripped and won a free kick. Rentsch set up a goal to a teammate in the third term and continued to show promising signs in her top-age campaign.

#15 Millie Lang

Though not as influential as her previous games this season, the key defender got better as the game went on and was one of the most busiest players in the second half. After a relatively quiet first half by her standards – though she still won the ball a few times in the defensive half – she came alive later in the game by playing higher and moving it quickly in transition. She was strong overhead and in the contest, and roamed around the high half-back line to impact the contest.

#16 Brook Ward

Ward’s promising bottom-age season continued against the the Devils by playing an important role in midfield and coming away as arguably the Rebels’ best in there. She moves well through the stoppage, is a good size at 170cm and can take a mark hen required. She was tightly watched as the game progressed and came off in the second half with the blood rule, but made her mark on the inside and drew frees when around the ground.

Tasmania Devils:

#24 Georgia Clark

The Devils’ vice-captain tried her heart out up and down the ground and though her marking ability was not a factor in the match, she still impacted the scoreboard when given the opportunity. Clark made it look easy from a tight angle three minutes into the opening term, then a set shot from 35m in the third quarter also went above hands and through the big sticks. She was very strong at ground level for an aerial-dominant player and showcased her footy smarts in setting up her teammates with chances on goal.

#26 Harriet Bingley

A promising talent for a double bottom-ager, Bingley held her own against more senior opponents. She had a few early chances that perhaps needed a bit more composure as they said out of bounds or just wide, but she found her range as the match went on, with a long-range set shot just falling short and a dribble attempt missing to the left narrowly. Eventually she found the big sticks with a close-range free kick, but not only provided that aspect, but also brought defensive pressure as well, laying six tackles for the match.

#33 Mackenzie Ford

Ford cracked in for the Devils and worked in tandem with returning skipper Candice Belbin to provide a presence at the coalface. She sometimes had to rush a kick forward, but given time nad space she delivered to leading targets. Her defensive pressure was also high, as she ended up the best Devil on the day and one of the key reasons they were on top in the first two and a half quarters.

#37 Tunisha Kikoak

Impressive in the ruck, Kikoak found more of the ball playing in that role, having 23 hitouts to go with her 20 touches. She still helped in defence when required, but was largely stationed as attacking player this week, thumping it inside 50 on multiple occasions. Kikoak even took it out of the ruck and cleared the zone, with a consistent, four-quarter effort.

  • Team
  • Dandenong Stingrays
  • Eastern Ranges
Dandenong skipper Jemma Ramsdale played well in defence against the Ranges | Image credit: Rookie Me Central

Dandenong Stingrays:

#3 Ruby Murdoch

Dandenong’s best across the course of the game, Murdoch posses a neat right foot kick and runs hard down the ground. Not afraid to take the game on, Murdoch is clean at ground level and helped out the Stingrays’ in transition. She covered the field across the four quarters and did well when stationed along a wing. She finished with 22 disposals and had four inside 50s and five rebound 50s as a predominant outside running talent.

#5 Sophie Butterworth

One of the most consistent performers for the ‘Rays this season, Butterworth was again a headache inside 50 taking a number of strong marks and presenting on leads. She kicked a great goal on the run during the third term and was able to set up her teammates inside 50 or put it to dangerous spots thanks to her booming left boot.

#6 Jemma Ramsdale

The top-age defender was promising in the win, as the skipper anchored the team at half-back. She cleaned up loose balls in the back 50 and competed in the air, and while she did make some mistakes – such as giving away a 50m penalty for encroachment – she was solid in defending for her side, and usually took the kick outs or was an option to pass to in the defensive half.

#7 Mikayla Williamson

Though Williamson might not have had a huge production day, she did catch the eye on a number of occasions with her burst from the stoppage and ground coverage. Her efficiency – especially considering the conditions – seemed higher than usual, and she was able to hit a couple of targets from weighted kicks coming out of defence. There are still some fundamentals for Williamson to improve on, with one instant late in the fourth term alongside Symonds where she could have put more pressure on the would-be tackler on her teammate to get the ball deeper inside 50. Overall though, she made some nice improvements in the game.

#10 Brooke Smith

The over-age utility provided a strong aerial presence around the ground and fed the ball inside 50 to put pressure on the opposition defence. She kicked a nice goal from a quick pickup in the fourth term showing class, and also kicked off her non-preferred down the wing shortly after. Strong overhead for a player of her size, she was clean when at the contest as well, and cold have walked away with two goals in the match had it not been for an unlucky bounce.

#45 Elli Symonds

It was another strong performance from the bottom-age ruck who acts as a fourth midfielder around the ground with her mobility and ground level work. She can take a grab and also back up with second efforts, even tackling the tricky Pisano. She had a chance on goal from 25m out in the second term but missed that chance, though did not miss her second opportunities in the final term just after the siren.

Eastern Ranges:

#6 Hayley McLaughlin

The most prolific ball-winner for the Ranges, McLaughlin played further behind the ball in Round 8 more so than her usual role spot. She rebounded time and time again with her defence under siege and was clean with ball-in-hand. As a clever player, McLaughlin can read the play well and links up across the ground neatly, able to hit up targets while under pressure.

#14 Alyssia Pisano

The top talent had a tough day out playing forward with the opposition defence working well to intercept any loose balls and Dandenong controlling the midfield. Pisano did hit the scoreboard after a free kick straight in front 30m out late in the opening term, but did not get many more chances after that. She did push up the ground to try and influence the contest kicking inside 50, but the supply was far lower than usual.

#38 Georgia Stubbs

The defender intercepted a lot of plays coming her way and generally used it well from half-back. She has a good technique with her kick and though it did occasionally t turned over, she was quick by hand when at the coalface. She also won a great clearance coming out of the midfield going forward in the fourth term.

  • Team
  • SUNS Academy
  • Western Jets

Gold Coast Suns Academy:

#10 Ava Usher

Our Coates Talent League Player of the Week for Round 8, Usher was outstanding and provided a ton of highlights throughout the match. She booted four goals in the triple-digit win, including one off the back of a stoppage from 45m out and another fending off an opponent and straightening up to deliver from inside 50. Also taking control at the stoppages, Usher is one of the most promising double bottom-agers in her draft crop.

#11 Alannah Welsh

Doing plenty of damage close to goal, Welsh also slotted four majors in the win, three of which came in the space of five minutes during the third term. She got into dangerous spots and made the most of her chances, with some strong marks or good bodywork to get goalside and join the party with her scoreboard impact.

#15 Tara Harrington

Another consistent performer all day, the bottom-ager did not need a lot of disposals to have an impact, and was clean when in midfield or off half-back. She uses the ball well by hand and looked to run in transition or burst away from the stoppage. Harrington is also not afraid to bite off risky kicks for a big payoff.

#21 Charlotte Adamson

Consistent all day coming in for the Suns Academy, the over-age prospect was strong at the coalface and classy inside 50, kicking two goals. One of those included a terrific major from a forward stoppage in the first term, then a running goal midway through the final quarter. She did a lot of her best work in close, and teamed up well with skipper McCabe.

#23 Josie McCabe

Rotating between midfield at attack, McCabe was clean by hand when in close and brought her customary defensive pressure with a game-high 11 tackles. She won a number of clearances as well in the first half, then went forward later in the came and slammed home a set shot from 40m out just clearing the goalline. She had another chance from a similar range after a good lead but that shot hit the post.

#28 Ella Calleja

The over-ager enjoyed another consistent game for the Suns Academy, with similar number of 16 disposals and three marks to her first match against the Rebels, but also hit the scoreboard with a nice long-range goal. She set up her teammates with her disposal and makes good decisions with ball-in-hand. One to keep in mind this season in terms of improved prospects.

#30 Havana Harris

After a best on ground performance against the Rebels, Harris was not too far off again, taking control in the ruck and influencing around the ground. She kicked a goal from 19 disposals and 24 hitouts against a VFLW-listed ruck in Krystal Russell. Harris even showed off her ridiculous burst for a player of her size, sprinting out of the stoppages at different points, with her major also coming on the run from 40m.

Western Jets:

#9 Sierra Grieves

The Jets ball-winner tried hard all day but was up against a strong Suns midfield. Though her numbers were understandably down on her ridiculous output thus far, Grieves still had some highlights, such as spinning out of the contest in the fourth term, then hitting up a forward target from a running clearance. Deservedly, Grieves got on the board with a late goal off a step inside 50.

#11 Lou-Lou Field

Similar to Grieves, Field found the going much tougher than in previous games, but worked through to have some impact, particularly later in the match. She showed off her long kicking and competitive edge, and while her defence was ultimately overwhelmed, she continued to battle on to the final siren.

#19 Akima Manoah

Spending time in the ruck against taller opponents in the final term, Manoah performed admirably and had six hitouts with her 13 disposals. Like her teammates, not a lot went her way, but she applied defensive pressure and did show quick hands out of congestion .

  • Team
  • Geelong Falcons
  • Murray Bushrangers

Geelong Falcons:

#1 Lucy Marescuk

A promising game from the bottom-ager who was most effective in dishing off release handballs to teammates to open the game up. She put the ball into dangerous spots and was able to get involved all over the ground, even winning a free for a good tackle late in the game. Marescuk was one of a number of Falcons who performed strongly all match.

#4 Caitlin Charles

A creative small in the front half, Charles was able to kick two goals from 20 touches while also laying six tackles. She used the ball well by hand or foot and spread into open space to be an option. She kicked a goal in the second term running in, then snapped another major late in the game off a clean pickup. She set up a goal to Gilham for the Falcons’ first in the opening term as well.

#7 Sara Howley

The prime ball-winner again, Howley was everywhere on the field, racking up a match-high 35 disposals – 11 more than anyone else on the field – and looked to get involved in transitional plays, in particular one-twos with teammates. She kicked two goals thanks to her terrific work rate and should have had a third but missed the set shot. Running all day long, Howley was an accumulation machine and continued her outstanding form this season.

#8 Mekah Morrissy

Another Falcons runner who was creative in the forward half and continually made life better for her teammates, Morrissy was every bit up there with Howley despite only the 21 touches in comparison. Just about all of them turned into something good for the Falcons, with the winger having a neat sidestep that opened up angles and she worked up and down the ground to win the ball in each of the thirds. When in close, Morrissy was clean by hand and not afraid to put hr body on the line.

#24 Chantal Mason

After a massive game last week, Mason was dominant again in front of the big sticks, and should have capitalised more than she did with 4.4 from the match. She reads the ball in flight well and can mark going back towards goal or on the lead, and she converted majors on the run, from dribbling or set shots, while setting up teammates when required.

#29 Bella Gilham

Just a crafty small forward who capitalises on her chances from deep inside 50 entries, Gilham kicked a couple of her four goals from the goalline being in the right place at the right time, and worked hard around the forward 50 to not only convert her own goals but hit up teammates for scoring opportunities as well.

Murray Bushrangers:

#1 Destiny Dodd

The top-ager has promising traits and is improving with each coming week. Though she did not hit the scoreboard like the week before, Dodd still presented as a forward 50 target, then pushed up the ground as a marking option. She has a booming kick and one with strong technical skill, as well as the strength to stand up in a tackle.

#2 Tamika Rourke

Rourke was lively through traffic yet again, and though she can run herself into trouble, she is clean by hand and tries to open up the game. She looks to hit up the passes inside the corridor and has that burst speed that catches the eye. At 172cm and still a bottom-ager, there is room to improve for Rourke.

#5 Molly McLaren

The double bottom-ager got on the scoreboard in the first term and ended up being Murray’s only goalkicker for the match, slotting a goal off a step in the 11th minute of the term. She cracked in and continued to win the ball throughout the game and ran hard to earn her touches, winning them in each third of the ground.

#9 Holly Egan

Winning the ball at half-back Egan took a number of marks and was able to use the ball fairly out of defence. Not a huge accumulator, she does read the play well when the ball is in flight. She got run-down at one stage and is still developing some areas of her game, but was clever with a number of touches including a toepoke from congestion to space.

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