Zippy Zanker stars as Dees stay undefeated

MELBOURNE made it four wins from as many games to start the 2023 AFL Women’s season last night, with a solid 59-point win over Hawthorn down in Frankston.

As they have habitually been doing all of this season they really kicked away in the second half, and it was all kickstarted by young forward Eden Zanker.

Her three-goal third term really started the momentum going for the Dees, who never looked back after that as they kicked six goals to one in the second half. Her first goal came after she was the final link in the chain of handballs, and she slotted it on the run from about 25-30m out.

Zanker’s second goal came after a strong one on one mark where she was running back with the flight of the ball while also not fully looking at the ball, and still managed to mark it half twisted. She then went back and slotted it straight through.

Her third goal came only a minute or so after her second, but again came off the back of a strong one on one mark, this time just outside the goal square.

Zanker’s influence on the game stretched far beyond the forward 50. On a number of occasions she even pushed up into more of a wing like role, using her running capacity to provide a handy link between defence and attack, and really putting her strong marking to good use.

This season, Zanker has come out with a new aura of confidence to her game. She has always had the talent to belong at this level, but there is a new confidence to her game this season that is letting her lift her game even further.

Melbourne coach Shae Sloane even mentioned it in her post-match press conference last night.

“It was brilliant to see Edo clunking a few marks and playing with confidence again, which is what she thrives her game on that, so really pleasing to see her get on the scoreboard and taking a couple of aerials, and she’s worked very, very hard over the preseason to improve her game and it’s exciting to see it starting to pay off.”

Her marking ability is growing into one of her strongest weapons, and she has began to establish a really strong partnership with fellow marking targets Kate Hore and Tayla Harris.

Perhaps a strong encapsulation of her new found confidence is the fact that her three goal final tally from last night was her highest single game tally of her AFLW career.

The exciting thing for Melbourne fans, is that Zanker is only 23 years-old, so there is a long percentage left of her AFLW career still to come. The combination of her talent in the air, her power in her kick and her tank makes her hard to match up on, and with that added confidence in her own game she now has, those skills are only going to grow from here.

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