AFLW Academy take home win in wet conditions

CHALLENGING conditions at RSEA Park in Moorabbin confronted the best player from across the nation, but it was the AFLW Academy who came away with a victory, albeit in an accurate outing. The Academy racked out to a 37-0 lead at the 14 and a half minute mark of the second term, but the All-Stars worked their way back into the contest after that.

The final score of 7.11 (53) to 2.6 (18) mattered little in what was essentially an exhibition showcase for recruiters, though the wet conditions made accurate scoring difficult and that contributed to the combined 9.17 for the match.

After smashing the All-Stars in the first game a couple of months ago, the AFLW Academy were fancied to win big again, though did face stiffer opposition with players from South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland joining those from Victoria and Allied states this time.

Potential pick one Ash Centra was a late withdrawal for the Academy, joining Tara Harrington (injured last weekend), Grace Baba, Elli Symonds and Poppy Scholz as others still out injured. By the end of the match, South Fremantle’s Molly O’Hehir (knee) and Sydney Swans Academy’s Emma Juneja (ankle) would also finish on the bench, severely limiting defensive rotations for the Academy.

It looked like being more of a dour struggle than the first game between the sides, with the earlier heavy rain making conditions slippery under foot, and the occasional drizzle shower still blowing in. That did not stop Central District’s Georgia McKee kicking the opening goal of the match just 43 seconds into the contest after winning a free kick for being held.

From there, the Academy shared the goals around, kicking the first five of the game and racing out to a 5.7 (37) to 0.0 (0) lead by the time Zippy Fish used an advantage call close to the goalline to put through her side’s fifth. Danger signs were there for the All-Stars, but the momentum shifted when they started to get some more forward 50 entries.

Zippy Fish was outstanding once again for the AFLW Academy | Image credit: Rookie Me Central

Playing with the wind in the second term, North Melbourne VFLW forward Nyakoat Dojiok got her side on the board – albeit just a behind – before a free kick to Sandringham Dragons’ Daisy Flockart handed her a straightforward set shot and she made no mistake.

At half-time the margin was 30 points, and though the weather cleared up even more in the second half, the scoring – or more accurately the goalkicking – still became hard to come by. The All-Stars kicked five straight behinds to the Academy’s 1.1 (7), with McKee kicking her second goal and becoming the only multiple goalkicker in the match.

Despite the All-Stars having 9-5 inside 50s in the third term, they ultimately could not capitalise and that there was the ball game. With the wind back behind the All-Stars and the Academy down a few numbers, Bendigo Pioneers’ co-captain Alexis Gregor broke through for the All-Stars second goal with five minutes to go, answering a classy combination between McKee and Sophie McKay.

The Academy still dominated field position in the last with 16 inside 05s to five, but to the All-Stars’ defensive credit, only conceded the 1.3 (9) for the quarter. The work of Scout Howden and Jasmine Sowden out of defence was important, with West Australian Taya Chambers also providing a great force.

AFLW Academy’s MVP Sierra Grieves is tackled by South Australian Grace Martin. Image credit: Rookie Me Central

In terms of MVPs, Western Jets’ Sierra Grieves (25 disposals, seven tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s) was awarded the Academy’s best, while Oakleigh Chargers’ Sarah Poustie (24 disposals, two marks, five tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and three rebound 50) was the All-Stars’ MVP.

Across the board the big names for the Academy stepped up with Zippy Fish (18 disposals, sevn marks, seven tackles, four inside 50s and a goal) playing a starring role, as did Gold Coast Suns Academy’s Havana Harris (20 disposals, three marks, four tackles, seven hitouts and eight inside 50s). Emma McDonald (15 disposals, eight marks and five inside 50s) was huge in attack, while Sara Howley, Claudia Wright, Lucia Painter and India Rasheed all had their moments.

For the All-Stars, Howden was very strong out of defence with 20 disposals, eight marks and six rebound 50s, while the midfield combination of Grace Martin, Grace Belloni and Maggie Mahony all worked hard to get on top in the clearances – the All-Stars won them 29-15 – and Sowden was clean and classy.

AFLW ACADEMY 2.4 | 5.7 | 6.8 | 7.11 (53)
U23 ALL-STARS 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.6 | 2.6 (18)

AFLW Academy:
G. McKee 2, Z Fish, S. McKay, I. Rasheed, Z. Besanko, E. Juneja
U23 All-Stars: D. Flockart, A. Gregor

AFLW Academy:
S. Grieves, Z. Fish, E. McDonald, H. Harris, G. McKee
U23 All-Stars: S. Poustie, S. Howden, G. Martin, J. Sowden. G. Belloni

AFLW Academy MVP: Sierra Grieves (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
U23 All-Stars MVP: Sarah Poustie (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)

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