2023 Talent League Girls team reviews: Preliminary finalists

ANOTHER season has come to a close in the Coates Talent League Girls and we take a look at how 2023 panned out for each of the 13 sides. In the next of these team reviews articles, we take a look at the two preliminary finals losers, diving into their season, draft prospects and some names to remember in coming years.

>> 2023 Talent League Girls team reviews: Metro non-finalists
>> 2023 Talent League Girls team reviews: Country non-finalists

>> 2023 Talent League Girls team reviews: Metro elimination finalists
>> 2023 Talent League Girls team reviews: Country elimination finalists


Position: 3rd
Country pool: First
Wins: 10
Losses: 3
Percentage: 218.8

Dandenong Stingrays found their best form heading into finals after starting a little shaky in the early rounds. Across the first three weeks, the Stingrays went 1-2 and only knocked off Geelong Falcons by 10 points for that victory, while suffering defeats to the Swans Academy and Eastern Ranges. A commanding 77-point win over Gippsland Power was just what the doctor ordered, before going down to Oakleigh Chargers by three goals.

Coming back from the community break, the Stingrays returned in late May to start what would bbe a formidable winning streak. Having started the season with a 2-3 record in the first five rounds, the Stingrays would go on a tear, smashing out eight consecutive wins to top the country pool and finish percentage behind second spot. After easily accounting for GWV Rebels, the Stingrays’ season came to an end in the preliminary final at the hands of the Oakleigh Chargers.


Dandenong Stingrays’ draft crop is highlighted by first round prospect Mikayla Williamson. Boasting elite athletic traits, Williamson is a player who breaks down opposition defences with her run and carry, and was elected to co-captain Vic Country at the national carnival. Her form in the second half of the season – similar to the Stingrays – was scintillating.

Williamson was one of five AFLW Draft Combine invites, with Talent League runner-up goalkicker Sophie Butterworth and Rays’ skipper and tough defender Jemma Ramsdale earning their chances. Also among the names were versatile duo Bianca Lyne and Meg Robertson who also donned the ‘Big V’ this year.

It is also worth mentioning that over-ager Brooke Smith was selected by Adelaide mid-season as an injury replacement player, so the Stingrays already have an official draftee in the books.


Dandenong has a lively crop for 2024, with the Stingrays expected to be thereabouts again. The Stingrays have an envious ruck/forward duo in Elli Symonds and Zoe Besanko, as well as the class of Jemma Reynolds through the middle. That trio all played in the Under 17s Futures games, while the likes of winger Jemaya Bressan and forward Kayla Dalgleish have been consistent performers.

Looking further ahead, and exciting speedster Nikita Harris, smart forward Evelyn Connolly and hybrid forward Molly Reimers have all had their moments during the season and are not eligible under the 2025 AFLW Draft.


Position: 4th
Country pool: Second
Wins: 8
Losses: 5
Percentage: 139.1

Geelong Falcons carved a similar path to the Stingrays at first, going down to Dandenong and then Oakleigh Chargers in the first three rounds, which were in between two wins over the GWV Rebels in a fixture anomaly. The latter of the two just before the community break kick-started some mindblowing wins upon return in May.

The Falcons stormed past Bendigo Pioneers (91 points), Murray Bushrangers (81), Northern Territory (79) and Tasmania Devils (44) to outscore their opponents by a combined 295 points in that four-game stretch. A loss to Eastern Ranges in July burst that bubble, and while Geelong did knock off Gippsland Power and Western Jets consecutively to secure finals, they only won the one game in the last four – a come-from-behind victory over Tasmania – before bowing out at the hands of the Ranges in the preliminary final.


Geelong has the two main AFLW Draft prospects for 2023, with skipper Chloe Adams and forward Chantal Mason the ones earning Draft Combine invites. Adams is a well-balanced midfielder who can also play off half-back, and showed her balance at the national carnival, where she co-captained Vic Country.

Mason started the season a little slowly with just one goal in the first three rounds, but then went on a tear, piling on 21 goals in four games mid-season to earn the call-up to Vic Country. Just twice from Round 3 onwards was Mason held scoreless, kicking multiple goals in all the other matches.


The Falcons have a strong future crop of young stars, headlined by ball-winning midfielder Sara Howley. The potential top 10 pick averaged 32 disposals in the Talent League season, and won the Rookie Me Central Medal and then the Talent League Best and Fairest. She looms as one who will take control of the midfield next season.

Also in the group for next year are the likes of Vic Country representatives, winger Mekah Morrissy and utility Seisia White. Add in Lucy Marescuk, Chloe Bryant and Caitlin Charles, as well as ruck Kiara Woods and round 17 debutant Rebecca Clottey, and the nucleus for a good side is there. Double bottom-ager Stella Huxtable is another name to remember for the future.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments