Sandgropers storm to win over Suns at AFLW U16s

WESTERN Australia kick-started its 2024 AFL Women’s Under 16 Championships on a high, coming back from a slow start to boot the last 10 goals of the match and run away with a commanding 12.8 (80) to 3.0 (18) victory over Gold Coast Suns Academy. Four players kicked multiple goals in the win as the West Australians held the Suns Academy scoreless in the second half.

It was the Suns Academy who go on the board in the opening minute with talented bottom-age midfielder Allie Cameron slotting a great running goal to get her side on the board. Western Australia surprisingly dominated the clearances in the opening term 11-4, but could not get bang for its buck with just four behinds. When Nikki Sandeman marked in front in the goalsquare with four minutes to play and duly delivered the Suns Academy lead by eight points at the first break.

The overwhelming clearance dominance was always going to take its toll on the Suns Academy defence, who to that point had held up well, while the Sandgropers had missed opportunities. However that changed in the second term when Tiama Collard booted a couple of majors back-to-back showing her forward craft to put her state up.

Cameron immediately replied up the other end for the Suns Academy in the 13th minute, but her major would prove to be the last score for her side as Western Australia would 10.3 (63) to 0.0 (0) for the rest of the game. By half-time the West Australian lead was only at six points – courtesy of a Mia Carlshausen goal – but the clearances were up to 20-7, an increase of 9-3 for the quarter. The difference was the inside 50 count – which had been 8-7 in Gold Coast’s favour in the first term – was 22-10 after a 15-2 term for the West Australians.

From that point on, Western Australia had the game on their terms, and were able to kick away with their forwards getting into the right spots, taking good marks and converting set shots. Bella Nelson would get her team going in the third term with her first of two goals in the match, while Ada Duncan would kick two in the quarter – and three for the match – while Collard added another major to her name,

Summer Ajduk kicked back-to-back goals from marks and set shots in the goalsquare during the fourth term to blow the margin out, and by the time Duncan kicked her third and the final of the game, the deficit had grown to a whopping 62 points.

While the forwards were dominant, the clear standout through the middle was Lexi Strachan with the West Perth midfielder racking up 27 disposals, 11 tackles, five clearances and nine inside 50s in the win. She was best-on alongside other standouts in rucks, Avuya Nomlatyu and Cara Dziegielewski who combined for 31 of their side’s 37 hitouts, while also having 31 disposals, six clearances and six inside 50s between them.

Collard’s three goals came from 14 disposals, but she also laid seven tackles, while Nelson (14 disposals, two goals), Carlshausen (13 disposals, two goals) and Adjuk (12 disposals, two goals) all reached double figures. Duncan’s three majors from eight touches was efficient as the Sandgropers finished with a plus-14 advantage in clearances (33-19) and a plus-24 in inside 50s (45-21).

Cameron was a standout for the Suns Academy, kicking two goals from 13 disposals, four marks, eight tckles, four clearances and five inside 50s. Asia Single (16 disposals, four marks, seven tackles and seven rebound 50s) and Maddie Campbell (14 disposals, three tackles and seven rebound 50s) were important out of defence. Broadbeach’s Stephanie Aguinaldo won the most touches with 18 disposals, as well as two marks, four tackles and four rebound 50s.

SUNS ACADEMY 2.0 | 3.0 | 3.0 | 3.0 (18)
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 0.4 | 3.6 | 7.8 | 12.8 (80)

GC: A. Cameron 2, N. Sandeman
WA: T. Collard 3, A. Duncan 3, M. Carlshausen 2, B. Nelson 2, S. Ajduk 2

A. Cameron, A. Single, M. Campbell, S. Aginaldo, J. Large
WA: L. Strachan, T. Collard, A. Nomlatyu, B. Nelson C. Dziegielewski


South Australia continued its dominance at Under 16s level with a commanding 63-point win over Vic Metro at Prospect Oval. The Croweaters jumped out of the blocks to kick three goals in nine minutes, and had seven by the main break. Leading by 42 points at half-time, the home side did not take the foot off the pedal in terms of scoring opportunities, but were more wayward in the second half, kicking 3.9 (27) to Vic Metro’s 1.0 (6), finishing with a 10.12 (72) to 1.3 (9) victory.

Charlee Brooksby – the sister of Port Adelaide’s Molly – booted three goals from 24 disposals, three marks, nine tackles and eight inside 50s in the win, while West Adelaide defender Emily Mableson provided her League experience with 21 disposals, six tackles and four inside 50s. Another sister-of in Emma Charlton (Teah, Adelaide) was outstanding defensively laying 11 tackles from 16 touches, while father-daughter prospect Polly Turner (Peter, Adelaide and Carlton) kicked 4.2 from 16 disposals, five marks and three tackles.

While a disappointing day for Vic Metro, Brylee Anderson won 23 disposals, took six marks and had 10 rebound 50s to be a standout, while Chloe Shipton (18 disposals) and Charli Calleia (17 disposals, five rebounds) tried hard. Collingwood father-daughter prospect Leni Lockyer (Tarkyn) had 14 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances and three rebound 50s in the loss.

South Australia’s Polly Turner celebrates one of her goals. | Image credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

The tightest match of the day was the earlier contest between Vic Country and Brisbane Lions Academy, with the former coming from behind at three quarter time to post a low-scoring, 5.4 (34) to 4.4 (28) win. Down by five points at the last change the home side kicked two goals in the final two minutes including the match-winner by Gippsland Power’s Grace Dillow to secure the six-point victory.

Dillow was a standout for Country in the game, kicking that goal but also having 24 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ava Bilyk finished with the 24 touches as well as five marks and seven rebound 50s coming out of defence. Scarlett Marsh (21 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Sophia Green (16 disposals, five marks, nine tackles, four clearances and two inside 50s) were also prominent in the win.

Star midfielder Molly Ferguson – who has put herself as a top-end talent for the 2026 AFLW Draft – was unsurprisingly dominant with 33 disposals, seven marks, six tackles, three clearances and eight inside 50s. She played as a bottom-ager the year before as did Mia Geere who helped herself to 22 disposals, eight marks, four inside 50s, three rebound 50s and a goal. Enah Desic (23 disposals, five marks, 10 tackles and five rebound 50s) and Annabel Peacock (22 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, three clearances, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s) were among the best as well.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments