The NAB League Girls finals fixtures are set, with reigning premiers the Geelong Falcons to take on the Calder Cannons and 2019 minor premiers the Northern Knights to face the Eastern Ranges in preliminary finals this weekend.
The Falcons, Cannons and Knights were all victorious in Round 9, but the Ranges (4th on ladder, 6-3) dropped from third position to fourth on percentage following a surprise 3.5 (23) to 3.1 (19) loss to the Sandringham Dragons (8th, 3-6) at RSEA Park.
Our girls and their mothers on Mother’s Day ❤️🐉 pic.twitter.com/tLnk7WmTbx
— Sandringham Dragons (@Sandy_Dragons) May 12, 2019
The Dragons held sway for much of the match and weathered two late final-term Eastern goals to deny their higher-ranked opponents. Ranges head coach Tom Humphrey said Sandringham showed his team what it needs to do against Northern at Shepley Oval from 12.30pm on Saturday.
“I think the Dragons were way better at the contest and their intensity was much better than ours around the ball; they fully deserved their victory,” Humphrey said.
“We need to perform better than we did on the weekend, but the Knights are probably the benchmark and are playing at clearly the best standard of footy across the last two years of the competition. We just have to play at our best against them and see what happens.”
Humphrey said Eastern’s biggest strength as a team was its “evenness across the board” but that a handful of key players will need to step up for the Ranges to advance to the NAB League Girls Grand Final.
“We need Laura McClelland (seven disposals and four tackles against Sandringham) to play somewhere near her best for us to go close, as well as Serena Gibbs (nine, 11 hitouts and one goal),” Humphrey said. “We need their marking power and physicality around the ground.
“Olivia Meagher will come back after missing the last couple of games and she’s important for us, driving our hardness around the ball. We need her, Tarni Brown (23 disposals against the Dragons) and Tess Flintoff (23 and six marks) all playing at their best. Tess has just turned 16 but is already an outstanding player. It’s a big call, but I would suggest her work rate and skill level is equal to anyone in the competition.”
* CLICK HERE to see full match results, goalkickers and best players from NAB League Girls Round 9.
Eastern’s opponents this week secured the 2019 minor premiership in style at Mars Stadium, the Knights (1st, 8-0-1) accounting for the GWV Rebels (11th, 2-7) by 45 points, 7.8 (50) to 0.5 (5).
Nell Morris-Dalton (22 disposals and one goal) and Jessica Fitzgerald (21, eight tackles and six inside-50s) stood out for Northern, with Alyssa Bannan booting two goals to take her tally to seven across the last three weeks. Meanwhile, Sophie Molan closed out a prolific season as GWV’s captain with 26 touches and seven tackles.
Undefeated for the home and away season!
Next stop: FINALS#UKNIGHTED
Knights: 7.8 (50)
GWV: 0.5 (5) pic.twitter.com/jtIUxoyxjy
— Northern Knights (@NthKnights) May 12, 2019
Geelong (2nd, 8-1) produced a similar scoreline in an 8.7 (55) to 1.1 (7) defeat of the Murray Bushrangers (9th, 3-6) at Avalon Airport Oval, setting up a preliminary-final clash with Calder at Shepley Oval from 2.15pm on Saturday.
Murray kicked the game’s first goal before a range of Falcons playmakers asserted their authority on the contest. Skipper Lucy McEvoy (27 disposals, eight marks and one goal), Paige Sheppard (23, five inside-50s and one goal) and Mia Skinner (three goals from 16 disposals) all starred for Geelong, while Bushrangers captain Millie Brown racked up 28 touches and five rebound-50s in defeat.
The Cannons (3rd, 6-3) will enter their finals campaign fresh off back-to-back wins, having recorded a 5.7 (37) to 1.0 (6) victory over the Gippsland Power (12th, 1-8) at Morwell Recreation Reserve.
Skipper Georgia Patrikios booted two goals from 19 touches for Calder and was ably assisted by the likes of Georgia Sampson (15 disposals and 14 hitouts), Alana Barba (16 and 10 tackles) and Georgie Prespakis (26, nine inside-50s and one goal).
Meanwhile, the Oakleigh Chargers (5th, 5-3-1) will meet the Tasmania Devils in an invitational match at Windy Hill from 11am on Sunday after finishing in fifth position thanks to a 7.8 (50) to 4.0 (24) win against the Bendigo Pioneers (7th, 4-5) at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
The Chargers kept Bendigo scoreless across the second and third quarters to set up the result, with Nicola Xenos (23 disposals, five rebound-50s and one goal) and Gemma Lagioia (19, six marks and one goal) the leading ball-winners on the ground and Amelia Peck (17, 32 hitouts and five inside-50s) dominant in the ruck.
Finally in Round 9, the Dandenong Stingrays (6th, 5-4) ended their season in strong fashion by prevailing over the Western Jets (10th, 3-6) at Downer Oval, 9.6 (60) to 1.3 (9).
Tyanna Smith enjoyed a standout game for Dandenong with four goals from 23 touches, as highly-rated teammates Molly McDonald (21 disposals and seven inside-50s) and Brooke Vernon (16 and seven rebound-50s) also found plenty of the ball. For the Jets, captain Elisabeth Georgostathis again led from the front with 23 disposals, seven tackles and seven rebound-50s.