PREVIEW | 2023 Talent League Girls Elimination Finals

FINALS are in the air for the Talent League Girls competition, with eight teams remaining in the hunt for the 2023 premiership. Four metropolitan sides and four country teams will contest the finals series, with the winner from each conference to battle it out for ultimate glory. Reigning premiers Western Jets are out of contention, while 2022 runners-up Dandenong Stingrays will be hoping to go one better this year.

  • Team
  • Oakleigh Chargers
  • Calder Cannons

Saturday, September 9
Warrawee Park @ 10:30am

Opening up the weekend is a huge clash between Oakleigh Chargers and Calder Cannons, and few people could forget the clash earlier in the year where the Chargers kept the Cannons scoreless in a dominant win. Both teams have changed plenty since then, so expect the elimination final to be a very differing looking scenario. Though the Chargers will be favourites to advance, Calder has been in super form the past fortnight and is not without claims in the game.

Oakleigh’s strength lies in its balance across the field, with the bottom-age group particularly strong. Inside 50, Emma McDonald provides a terrific marking target and reliable shot for goal, while Sienna Tallariti is a defender to watch for next year, named in an impressive half-back line with Lucy Cronin and Lara Hausegger. Along with that line, the wingers in Amy Cariss-Brett and Jemma Rigoni will create plenty of run down the field.

For Calder, its on-ball brigade is its strength, with AFLW Academy member Amy Gaylor, Vic Metro Under 18s MVP Kayley Kavanagh and Metro Under 16s MVP Chloe Baker-West creating a formidable trio. With a couple of dangerous forwards in Sarah Grunden and Kyla Forbes, as well as the in-form Maddison Ford, Calder has the potential to score well if the Cannons can take control of the midfield.

  • Team
  • Eastern Ranges
  • Northern Knights

Saturday, September 9
Warrawee Park @ 12:40pm

In the second game of the double-header, minor premiers Eastern Ranges host the fourth ranked metropolitan team in Northern Knights. The Ranges have won six on the trot, and knocked off the Knights in Round 4 by 26 points. By contrast, the Knights have only won one of their past four games, but their early season form was enough to see them finish sixth overall on the Talent League ladder.

Eastern Ranges have a great balance of top-age, bottom-age and double bottom-age stars who have rightfully earned the Ranges premiership favouritism. Boasting arguably the top two Victorian prospects in Alyssia Pisano and Laura Stone, as well as a host of Vic Metro representatives such as midfielders Hayley McLaughlin and Georgia Stubs and ruck Jess Vukic, the Ranges have no shortage of depth Defensive duo Grace Baba and Ava Campbell and attacking options, Georgia Knight and Georgie Brisbane are others who fill out an all-round strong lineup.

For the Knights, the forward craft of Ava Jordan adds a point of difference to the side, while bottom-age midfielders Zoe Hargreaves and Marlo Graham have been in some impressive form. Marking targets up forward Kira Lemire and Scarlett Johnson have shown potential for the future, and Hannah Scott is a consistent rebounding defender.

  • Team
  • Geelong Falcons
  • Tasmania Devils

Sunday, September 10
UTAS Stadium @ 11:45am

Geelong Falcons play ‘host’ to Tasmania Devils down on the Apple Isle following the game’s move from Shepley Oval. The Falcons finished fourth overall percentage ahead of the Cannons, but still eight points adrift of the third placed Dandenong Stingrays. Tasmania has shown great form at times, and even pushed Dandenong in tis most recent match a fortnight ago. If the Devils can harness their best form in the clash, it is anticipated to be a ripper.

Geelong Falcons regain gun bottom-ager Sara Howley for the clash after her Under 17 Futures match, re-joining skipper Chloe Adams and Chloe Bryant in the middle. Mekah Morrissy provides great run and carry on the outside, while the scoring options of Chantal Mason and Bella Gilham will stretch the Tasmanian defence. Up the other end, Johanna Sunderland will provide plenty of rebound down the ground.

Tasmania Devils vice-captain Georgia Clark will lead a handy offence that includes bottom-agers Lucy Thompson, Sophie Strong and Ava Read. Captain Candice Belbin and double bottom-ager Priya Bowering will add hardness around the ball, while Mia Anderson and Mackenzie Ford both bring the speed and extraction from the coalface. The Devils are a really even side across the board and being at home, will hope to cause an upset.

  • Team
  • Dandenong Stingrays
  • GWV Rebels

Sunday, September 10
Shepley Oval @ 1:10pm

The top-ranked Country team in Dandenong Stingrays enters finals off a red-hot eight-game winning streak and takes on a GWV Rebels outfit that finished outside the top eight, but fourth in the country pool. Having not lost since Friday, April 14, the Stingrays will hope to make it nine in a row against a Rebels side that has had some up and down form, but ran out the game strongly against Bendigo Pioneers last week.

Dandenong Stingrays have depth across the ground, with a trio of talls in Elli Symonds, Zoe Besanko and Sophie Butterworth who can take contested marks. Throw in skipper Jemma Ramsdale up the other end, and over-ager Abbey Tregellis running through the middle, and the Stingrays have no shortage of marking targets. AFLW Academy member Mikayla Williamson and bottom-ager Jemma Reynolds will be among those rolling up to stoppages and creating run down the ground.

For the Rebels, key position posts at opposite ends – Claire Mahony and Millie Lang – will be critical to the team’s success, while top-ager Lily Jordan has the potential to apply plenty of scoreboard pressure. Through the midfield, Tyla Crabtree and Molly Walton will provide a consistent presence on-ball, as Laila Lappin aims to take the ball out of the ruck and put it forward. Bottom-ager Isabella Davies returns after an eye-catching match a fortnight ago.

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