The Bendigo Pioneers jumped into the top four at the expense of vanquished opponents the Dandenong Stingrays in NAB League Girls Round 6.
With members of the NAB AFL Women’s Academy out of their NAB League Girls teams due to the Academy’s clash with the Geelong VFL Women’s team last Thursday, Round 6 presented a chance for players to step up in the absence of some highly-rated teammates.
Bendigo (4th on ladder, 4-2 record) certainly capitalised on a Stingrays (7th, 3-3) outfit missing the likes of Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon, leading throughout in a 4.4 (28) to 1.4 (10) victory at Epsom Huntly Reserve.
Pioneers head coach Shawn McCormick said his team’s improvement this year after a one-win season in 2018 was always coming, but “how much improvement was up in the air”.
“The girls have been fantastic in their approach this season and are getting some fantastic results,” McCormick said. “We’ve been able to get all the players playing for the name on the jumper and there’s been a real team ethos as opposed to the individuals.
“It’s all effort-based. The foundation of our game is effort and we build our structures upon that.”
McCormick said the club was now reaping the benefit of work put into developing a range of raw players across several seasons.
“We had Jordyn Jolliffe play her strongest game for the season against Dandenong (two goals from a game-high 20 disposals),” McCormick said. “She was a really strong player two years ago and was then injury-riddled in 2018, so we’ve had to work on a lot of things with her in order to build her confidence that she was still capable at this level.
“The whole defence was fantastic, ably led by the likes of Tara Slender, Eloise Gretgrix and Kate Douglass, while our midfielders like Brooke Hards and Annabel Strahan were fantastic as well.
“A lot those girls who are starting to come through had never played football before 2018; they’d come from elite backgrounds in other sports. We knew there were probably going to be some hard yards last year, but this year they’ve excelled. It’d be fantastic to make the finals, but the main thing is that they all continue to develop as footballers.”
* CLICK HERE to see full match results, goalkickers and best players from NAB League Girls Round 6.
The Eastern Ranges (5th, 4-2) are hot on the heels of Bendigo’s fourth spot following their thrilling triumph over the Calder Cannons (3rd, 4-2) at Bayswater Oval, 4.5 (29) to 3.7 (25). The Ranges only took the lead for the first time late in the third quarter, before Calder’s Emelia Yassir reclaimed the ascendancy for her team with less than seven minutes remaining in the match.
However, Tess Flintoff – Eastern’s best player on the day with game-highs of 22 disposals and nine marks – booted a major with 60 seconds left on the clock to put her side in front again, for good. Emma Horne (18 disposals and a game-high six inside-50s) was also instrumental in the Ranges’ victory.
After an even first quarter and a half, the Oakleigh Chargers (6th, 3-2-1) drew away from the Murray Bushrangers (9th, 2-4) to prevail 11.8 (74) to 3.2 (20) at Warrawee Park. The Bushrangers were within seven points of the lead midway through the second term before Oakleigh piled on seven unanswered goals beyond that point.
Melanie Bertuna and Jasmine D’Amato each kicked two majors for the Chargers, with their captain Mimi Hill (game-high 20 disposals) and teammate Nicola Xenos (13 and five inside-50s) again prolific through Oakleigh’s midfield.
The Sandringham Dragons (8th, 2-4) have strung together two straight wins after four losses to start the season, accounting for the GWV Rebels (10th, 1-5) at Mars Stadium in a 5.3 (33) to 4.2 (26) result. The Dragons had established a match-winning advantage by the time they shot out to a 20-point lead midway through the third term.
Sandringham’s primary ball-getter was Winnie Laing with game-highs of 20 disposals and seven tackles, while Celia Cody (nine disposals and 21 hitouts) and Bella Eddey (13, six tackles and one goal) were others to stand out for the winners.
Despite being hard-hit by the absences of AFLW Academy members such as Gabrielle Newton and Britney Gutknecht, the Northern Knights (2nd, 5-0-1) were still able to defeat the Gippsland Power (12th, 0-6) at Garfield Football Ground, 10.7 (67) to 3.4 (22). The likes of Phoebe Chisholm (19 disposals and five rebound-50s) and Jessica Fitzgerald (16 and two goals) stood up instead, as the Knights controlled the contest throughout.
— Northern Knights (@NthKnights) April 13, 2019
Meanwhile, the Geelong Falcons (1st, 6-0) continued their own unbeaten season with a 12.4 (76) to 0.1 (1) defeat of the Western Jets (11th, 1-5) at Downer Oval. Geelong playmakers Paige Sheppard (game-high 22 disposals and five inside-50s), Luka Lesosky-Hay (20 disposals) and Mia Skinner (four goals from 18 disposals) proved too much for the Jets to handle.