Howley runaway leader after perfect three-game stint
BREAKING away from the post Round 6 logjam, Geelong Falcons bottom-age star Sara Howley picked up a perfect 15 votes in the past three weeks to build serious separation to second spot in the 2023 Rookie Me Central Medal race.
Sitting equal fourth after the first six rounds, Howley came back from the community break in scintillating form and has set the benchmark for the rest of the Coates Talent League Girls competition. She is six votes clear of Calder Cannons midfielder Kayley Kavanagh who was third after six rounds, and has picked up eight votes despite Calder’s drop in form the last few weeks.
Previous co-leader, Millie Lang is still around just off the pace, with 21 votes and leading the way for the competition’s defenders. Her fellow co-leader after those half-dozen games, Eastern’s Laura Stone is still back on 17, but with the Ranges having a bye and Stone missing Round 8, it made building on her lead a difficult task. She remains in outright eighth with no doubt a big finish to the season coming up.
In fourth spot is Tasmania Devils’ Georgia Clark, who despite the Devils dropping two of their past three games since the community break, has picked up six more votes to be on 20 for the season. Following her are a trio of players on 18 votes with Geelong skipper Chloe Adams‘ four votes from the weekend helping her move into equal fifth. Lucia Painter and Emma McDonald have bolted up the leaderboard with eight and nine votes respectively only playing two of the three rounds to share fifth spot.
Rounding out the top 10 is Stone, followed by bottom-age prospects, Gippsland Power’s Ash Centra and Western Jets’ Sierra Grieves. The top 10 has a little separation to 11th with Northern Knights’ Zoe Hargreaves on 14 votes, one clear of teammate Ava Jordan and Eastern Ranges’ Alyssia Pisano. Despite only playing three games in the Coates Talent League, Suns Academy duo, Ava Usher (12 votes) and Havana Harris (11) quickly made up ground in their short stints.
In an interesting fact from a team’s perspective, Dandenong Stingrays is one of only three sides – along with Murray Bushrangers and Sandringham Dragons – to not have a player register 10 or more votes. AFLW Academy member Mikayla Williamson has the highest with eight votes, but is one of eight Stingrays to have five or more votes, showing the evenness of the team. The next highest spread of five-plus votegetters is Northern Knights (five).
RMC MEDAL LEADERBOARDS (POST ROUND 9)
TOP 10 PLAYERS
1. Sarah Howley (Geelong Falcons) – 29 votes
2. Kayley Kavanagh (Calder Cannons) – 23
3. Millie Lang (GWV Rebels) – 21
4. Georgia Clark (Tasmania Devils) – 20
=5. Lucia Painter (Bendigo Pioneers) – 18
=5. Chloe Adams (Geelong Falcons) – 18
=5. Emma McDonald (Oakleigh Chargers) – 18
8. Laura Stone (Eastern Ranges) – 17
=9. Ash Centra (Gippsland Power) – 16
=9. Sierra Grieves (Western Jets) – 16
BEST BY CLUB
Bendigo Pioneers: Lucia Painter (18)
Calder Cannons: Kayley Kavanagh (23)
Dandenong Stingrays: Mikayla Williamson (8)
Eastern Ranges: Laura Stone (17)
Geelong Falcons: Sara Howley (29)
GIANTS Academy: Cleo Buttifant & Mel Staunton (6)
Gippsland Power: Ash Centra (16)
GWV Rebels: Millie Lang (21)
Lions Academy: Jacinta Baldwick (10)
Murray Bushrangers: Holly Egan & Tamika Rourke (4)
Northern Knights: Zoe Hargreaves (14)
Oakleigh Chargers: Emma McDonald (18)
Sandringham Dragons: Sophie McKay & Judie Goldman (8)
Suns Academy: Ava Usher (12)
Swans Academy: Asha Turner Funk (11)
Tasmania Devils: Georgia Clark (20)
Western Jets: Sierra Grieves (16)