State Academy topples Under 23s in SANFLW showcase

SOUTH Australia’s top young guns proved too strong for the best Under 23s in the SANFL Women’s, coming away with a 51-point victory in the talent showcase at Thebarton Oval today. After a tight tussle in the first term, the Under 18s kicked away with eight consecutive goals, eventually posting an 11.7 (73) to 3.4 (22) win.

The young Croweaters were minus their AFL Women’s Academy members in Lauren Young, Shineah Goody, Piper Window, Molly Brooksby and Elaine Grigg, as well as key defender Charlotte Riggs, but showed off their depth during the big victor.

In the absence of those key midfielders, the likes of top-age onballer Brooke Boileau and bottom-age utilities Poppy Scholz and India Rasheed all had impressive games. For the Under 23s, Sturt goalsneak Alysha Healy and Central District midfielder Caitlin Wendland were among the standouts in an even contribution.

It was fitting that the first quarter saw goals to Rasheed and Healy respectively off clever snaps, both feeling at home at Thebarton. The Sturt talents were incredible throughout those quarters, as the Under 18s missed a few chances on goal including behinds to Ruby Ballard, Coby Morgan and Rasheed.

For the majority of the first term, it belonged in the Under 18s half, but Healy’s late major – along with Wendland’s behind cut the deficit to three points at the first break. That forward half dominance to the younger South Australian cohort started to show on the scoreboard.

Led by Boileau through the midfield who went forward and slotted two goals in the term, the Under 18s grabbed all the ascendancy and piled on four goals to just one behind in the term. Another Sturt forward in Zara Walsh was starting to look dangerous and West Adelaide bottom-ager Lucy Boyd – after a long break due to injury – also converted a major.

The Under 23s were not without their standouts as midfielders Isobel Kuiper, Zoe Venning and Lana Schwerdt were getting their hands on the ball. But while they were winning it in midfield at times, it was the team defence of the South Australians – highlighted by Scholz – who intercepted on a whim and provided plenty of pressure going back the other way.

When Rasheed kicked her second goal and Marlie Fiegert nailed one from a similar 10m distance – both from free kicks – the margin had blown out to 40 points. Though it looked like it was about to get a lot uglier quickly, the Under 23s regained ascendancy over the next 12 minutes, with several chances on goal.

North Adelaide utility Aprille Crooks popped up and looked lively, with Lauren Breguet and Julia Clark also getting involved. Though they had a stack of inside 50s in that final 10 minutes, they could only muster the two behinds which hurt their chances.

The State Academy shut the door on the Under 23s in the opening 10 minutes of the final term with goals to Jemma Charity and Walsh. In responding to that early brace from the Under 18s, Wendland kicked her second goal off the deck to provide another highlight for the losing team. Her Central District teammate Laitiah Huynh also had a huge term providing some drive forward.

Boyd would fill her boots with back-to-back goals in in the last five minutes, while Healy was rewarded for her hard work with a second goal on the run in the last minute. By the time the siren sounded, the Under 18s had won by 51 points in an impressive performance.

Scholz was phenomenal playing both defence and through the middle, with Boileau and Rasheed’s first halves in particular impressive. Walsh and Boyd up forward were dangerous, and the work of Holly Ifould and Fiegert in transition provided the South Australian coaching staff with plenty of selection options ahead of their next AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships match against Vic Metro.

For the Under 23s, there were plenty of rotations as one would expect, but Healy and Wendland were particular standouts, while the entire midfield group caught the eye. In defence, Jaslynne Smith was a rock all game.

SANFLW U23s 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 3.4 (22)
SANFLW U18s 1.4 | 5.6 | 7.7 | 11.7 (73)

U23s: A. Healy 2, C. Wendland
U18s: L. Boyd 3, I. Rasheed 2, B. Boileau 2, Z. Walsh 2, M. Fiegert, J. Charity

U23s: A. Healy, C. Wendland, J. Smith, I. Kuiper, Z. Venning
U18s: P. Scholz, B. Boileau, I. Rasheed, Z. Walsh, H. Ifould

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