Day one of the AFL Youth Girls Championships has seen the reigning champs knocked off, the sunshine state on the verge of an historic Grand Final berth and the rise of South Australians.
A cool 14 degree morning greeted almost 300 players, umpires and officials as they gathered for the opening ceremony at Bendigo Bank Stadium in Mandurah.
The honour of being the first match of the championships went to NSW/ACT and last year’s Pool B champions, the all indigenous team, The Woomeras.
The indigenous girls were first out of the blocks with a goal to Northern Territorian, Jessica Stassi, while Mosman’s Blaise Miller-Hill answered with the first of her two for NSW/ACT.
A big second quarter effort from the NSW/ACT side saw them hold The Woomeras scoreless and take a 15-point lead into the main change.
That’s how it would stay for the remainder of the game with The Woomeras unable to make a significant dint into the two goal gap, going down by 14 points.
Pick 34 of the AFL Draft, Jodie Hicks (Riverina Lions) was best on ground for NSW/ACT, while Tayla Thorn from the Northern Territory was the stand-out for the indigenous side.
Just one point separated Queensland and Victoria Country at the final break, but the last quarter would be all one way traffic, with the girls from the sunshine state booting 3.4 to 0.1 and are now within striking distance of a Grand Final berth.
Those in attendance may have well been watching the Shaleise Law (Toowoomba South) show, with her brilliant goal from the forward pocket that impressed coach Craig Starcevich.
“Shaleise was brillant, one of her goals was phenomenal,” Starcevich said.
“A couple of zigs and zags, blind turn, bounced off a few opponents… and looked dangerous every time the ball was in her area.”
|Image provided by Ellie Grounds.|
Law was not the only Queenslander to kick two with Luana Healy (North Cairns) also chipping in.
“Luana’s much better above her head and a bit taller.
“She kicked a little banana from the pocket and she’s willing to try things other players don’t.”
However, best on ground for the Queenslanders was the 16-year-old Gabby Collingwood from Jindalee, who was playing in her second Youth Girls Championships.
“Just courageous when she needs to be, finds the ball at ground level around stoppages, uses the ball really well going forward, she’s just been terrific,” Starcevich said.
On the Victorian Country side of the ledger, Bairnsdale’s Brodi Pedretti was the only multiple goal-scorer with two goals, while Redan’s Amy McDonald was their best.
An increase in support for female football in South Australia has immediately paid dividends with the South Aussies crushing the combined Northern Territory-Tasmania side by 70 points.
The statement was early; just one minute into the match and Morphettville Park’s Sarah Milham kicked her first of three for the South Aussies.
The Thunder Devils were quick to reply just two minutes later, but then Salisbury’s Ashleigh Woodland kicked what would be her first two of three and Central Augusta’s Esther Boles also got on the scoreboard.
A 22-point lead at quarter time was increased by only four points during the second term thanks to some desperate footy from the Thunder Devils, however, the oncoming pressure from the South Aussies could only be held back so much.
Another Morphettville Park player, Taylah Eastwood, would kick two of the quarter’s four goals that would end up being the back breaker of the NT-Tas side.
With 51 points the margin at three-quarter time, it was party time for the red, blue and gold, as Nikki Gore from Christies Beach chipped in with a couple to finish off the Thunder Devils.
The day rounded out with a rematch of last year’s Grand Final, the hosts and premiers Western Australia, versus the giant that is Victoria Metro.
It would be the home side that would bolt out of the blocks, taking a seven-point lead into the quarter time break and a nine-point lead at half-time.
As the WA supporters cheered on social media, one thing football has told us is to never go the early crow, and a fierce third quarter from the Big Sky Blue V brought the margin back to just three points.
A two-goal final quarter would be enough for the Vics, taking out the match and revenge on the West Aussies by 10 points.
The St Kilda Sharks’ Brittany Bonnici was best afield for the Victorian Metro girls and well supported by Sunbury’s Madison Prepakis, Beaconsfield’s Lauren Hojnacki and Blackburn’s Katherine Smith.
For the hosts, Peel’s Demi Oakley and Claremont’s Jasmine Stewart did well.
Day One (Monday, 4th May) results
NSW/ACT (6.8.44) defated The Woomeras (4.6.30)
Queensland (6.7.43) defeated Victoria Country (3.3.21)
South Australia (14.10.94) defeated NT-Tasmania (4.0.24)
Victorian Metro (7.6.48) defeated Western Australia (6.2.38)
Day Two (Tuesday, 5th May) fixture – WA Time
10.30am – Thunder Devils v The Woomeras
12.15pm – Victoria Country v Victoria Metro
2.10pm – NSW/ACT v South Australia
4.00pm – Queensland v Western Australia
Live video stream available via the AFL Community website: