VFLW - Round 1 vs Port Melb @ The Hangar, 10am Saturday 23rd March 2024

We lost 4-38 to Port in the first practice match, also at The Hangar.

Port also beat the Saints 27-20 and Casey (away) 43-33.

Possible inclusions for us:

  • Maddison Ford
  • Dani Marshall
  • Sarah Perkins
  • Tayla Hart-Aluni

Robinson and Morrow (key defenders) were arguably our best in the practice game, and adding our two best defenders from the NTFL game should help make a hell of a wall for their scorers to get past. They brought back Frew last weekend.

Perkins is a very significant addition for us (a decent chunk of boosting our score to 58 vs FCFC last week). Bella Clarke has missed all three practice matches for Port (well, she goal-umped at the Bullant Hill end).

Last year we had four AFLW players in our round one match (Busch, Tierney, Barba, and MORCS). I’ve seen various AFLW players on the fringe of VFLW training (Paige Scott the most involved) but can’t attest to any such inclusions this year.


Port couldn’t find anyone who hadn’t played for us.

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OK, if you’re a Port player who knows this is a good place to spy, please stop reading now.


Training started in perfect conditions and ended at “feels like 13º”, which is way too cold if wearing a dress shirt.

First off, the bad news: no Perkins, and she is one of several AFLW players who hasn’t made the perfect transition from end of AFLW season thru VFLW pre-season. The good news is another of those, Bailey Hunt, was present and running at good speed (albeit in sneakers). Huggard continues to play that same role, and yes, she is bored doing that already (one step forward, one step back). Bernadi still on the boundary and occasionally semi-coaching. If we can add all three later it will be very significant to our season.

There was a decent chunk of AFLW players involved tonight, and some (not all) should play on Saturday.

They included:

  • Steph Wales
  • Mia van Dyke
  • Lily-Rose Williamson
  • Ash van Loon
  • Mia Busch
  • and all three of our late 2023 draftees: Emily Gough, Amy Gaylor, and Chloe Adams.

Paige Scott was on the sidelines doing skills work with Nat Wood.

Toogood, Cain, and Bannister doing laps. Daria got a lot of volume in. Toogood and Cain went to the main oval later with Wood.

Unfortunately, early in training vanDyke injured her left ankle. Swelled up quick, and no further part by her tonight.

Looks like we will have the luxury of Wales in the ruck on Saturday, pairing with Krystal Russell. Kalani Scoullar was absent tonight, and Morrow 100% played the role of defender.

Tonight’s other standout from our AFLW list was our 2023 first draft pick of Emily Gough. She was arguably THE dominant mid during gameplay (Chaston the other standout). Danced or busted through congestion a few times. Set shot goal from forty out to finish the gameplay. She and Gallagher are perhaps a centimetre shorter than Russell (who is nominally listed as 180cm).

In the absence of Perkins we had Maddi Ford back in full training, and it looks like she will be our BIG forward. Good leading patterns versus Morrow, and laid a smart shepherd at one point to create an easy score for her side.

Some other positional placements that may not be completely obvious:

  • Backs: Molan, Hart-Aluni, Prpic, Morrow, Murdoch, MadGray
  • Mids: Chaston, Melnikas, Davidge, LilyRose
  • Forwards: MFord

I’d take Hart-Aluni’s role as back pocket on Jordan (she towered over Ava!) with a pinch of salt as it looked like the Hangar end of the ground got most of the players who will be named for us, and despite playing decently I’d say Tayla may be outside the 21 this first round.

Davidge looked to be going a bit faster than most out there; she’s not going to concede a role in the team/midfield without a fight.

Training was pretty to the point tonight. It started with three rotating groups doing:

  • mass keepings-off via handball
  • keepings-off via kicking across a relatively small square (this drill has been documented previously)
  • 2-on-2 contested ground ball collection

Followed by four groups near the corners of the centre square doing continuous and overlapping (MULTI-BALL) leading and passing… and eventually gameplay.

Limited or no involvement:

  • Shaw (skills only) and McNeice (not seen) is a huge hit to our defence and chances in this game
  • den Houting also limited skills session – her and Shaw told “no running!”
  • Huta did almost all of main training, but was yellow-hatted and was not in the gameplay
  • Bernardi very little activity on the sidelines.
  • Scoullar, Perkins, Tassiopoulos, Bateman and Porter not present.

My brain is currently registering no answer on Dani and sFord. I think they were present, but feel free to panic.

I’m not in a position to tell you if we have it “right”, but there has always been extremely specific instructions to those on the sidelines (this much running, etc).

That’s a long list of players on the sidelines, but with the addition of the AFLW players we still had enough available to start gameplay with a full 16-on-16.


Port have got to be extracting the urine with their choices of players for these photos…

They forgot to include the date, though :wink:

The team is (probably) out there somewhere…

Port team has Bella on the bench (did not play in any of their pre-season games).

B L. Davie (6) M. McKellar (10)
HB L. Caruso (5) B. Lyne (3) I. Bacon (57)
C I. Hartog (2) B. Woolcock (9) I. Stutt (29)
HF K. Cox (49) S. Reid (48) M. Ford (59)
F F. Frew (14) E. Harley (17)
R M. Denahy- Maloney (28) A. Seton (36) E. Ashley- Cooper (8)
INT B. Clarke (23) N. Borg (12) M. Patterson (21)
J. Williams (26) K. O’Keefe (18)
EMG K. Adams (7) M. Mottram (24)
G. Pruden (22)

Massive turnover from the practice match three weeks ago. And you’d suggest the INs are better than the OUTs…

A. Peck
A. Rabot
B. Lynch
C. Bromage
E. Rhodes
G. Booth
G. Pruden
K. Adams
L. Graham
L. Hart
M. Buchanan
M. Maloney
M. Mottram
R. Slater

B. Clarke
F. Frew
I. Bacon
I. Stutt
J. Williams
K. Cox
K. O’Keefe
L. Davie
M. Denahy-Maloney
S. Reid

(yes, they had a bench of 8 in the practice match)

B M. Robinson (80) D. Marshall (76)
HB A. Van Loon (26) S. Molan (73) R. Murdoch (72)
C A. Cariss-Brett (41) C. Adams (15) D. Ryan (51)
HF S. Orritt (68) M. Ford (42) E. Chaston (61)
F J. Richardson (52) O. Manfre (43)
R K. Russell (50) L. Williamson (13) R. Mahony (78)
INT C. Prpic (58) T. Crabtree (57) T. Davidge (77)
A. Melnikas (64) A. Jordan (62)
EMG K. Tracey (46) J. Morrow (67) E. Gallagher (66)

Well, we were faster than some clubs…

  • No Sarah Ford.
  • First two emergencies can consider themselves harshly treated (one ruck!)
  • We’ve gone for a smaller team… apart from that Robinson/Marshall/vanLoon/Molan backline of gorillas!
B M. Robinson (80) D. Marshall (76)
HB A. Van Loon (26) S. Molan (73) R. Murdoch (72)
C A. Cariss-Brett (41) C. Adams (15) D. Ryan (51)
HF S. Orritt (68) M. Ford (42) E. Chaston (61)
F J. Richardson (52) O. Manfre (43)
R K. Russell (50) L. Williamson (13) R. Mahony (78)
INT C. Prpic (58) T. Crabtree (57) T. Davidge (77)
A. Melnikas (64) A. Jordan (62)
EMG K. Tracey (46) J. Morrow (67) E. Gallagher (66)

A summary of our changes since the practice match (the verdicts are based on a small sample, and the bottom two pairs may not be too similar).

We’re better off with the talls, and worse off with the small defenders.

OUT IN Role Assessment
Maddison Shaw Ash Melnikas Defender Downgrade
Karly McNeice Ruby Murdoch Defender Downgrade
Emily Gallagher Ash van Loon Tall Upgrade
Jaimee-Lee Morrow Dani Marshall Key defender Upgrade
Kalani Scoullar Maddison Ford Tall Upgrade
Manaia Huta Amy Carriss-Brett Wing Pace for experience
Sarah Ford Lily-Rose Williamson Mid Well, at least one is not broken!
Kyla Tracey Chloe Adams Small ute Neutral?
Lily Bateman Tayla Crabtree Small ute Upgrade

Port’s injury summary: some notable missing players, but we’ve got more scope to improve than they do.

First Name Surname Injury/Issue Period
Jordan Mifsud Hand fracture 4-5 weeks
Olivia Barton Ankle 5-6 weeks
Beth Wilson Concussion 2 weeks
Georgia Alomes Foot TBC
Laura Wright Knee 12 weeks

For comparison, our likely-best-21 outs (injured or otherwise unavailable only): sFord, Bernadi, Perkins, McNeice, Shaw, Porter, Hunt


  • Eloise Ashley-Cooper (Essendon VFLW)
  • Isabel Bacon (Port Melbourne Colts/Sandringham Dragons)
  • Bella Clarke (Essendon VFLW)
  • Mackenzie Ford (Kingborough/Tasmania Devils/North Melbourne VFLW)
  • Bianca Lyne (Casey Demons)
  • Madeleine Patterson (Yarraville-Seddon)
  • Ava Seton (University of Queensland)
  • Belinda Woolcock (Casey Demons)

Missing Barton and Dyett.

There is a LOT of responsibility dumped onto youngsters today. We have Dani at 32yo, Melnikas at 29yo, Mahony at 24yo, and then everyone else is 22 or less. 13 of the 21 are teenagers.

Year New players Average age on game day
2018 37 24.7
2019 26 27.3
2021 17 26.2
2022 17 26.4
2023 33 22.7
2024* 8 21.1

I haven’t checked Port’s team, but their composition will be completely different. If this junior squad can beat them today, lock us in as premiers.

Phone training: DaniMarshall AshMelnikas Mahony Molan Chaston Ryan Manfre JaydaRichardson MFord Orritt Prpic VanLoon LRWilliamson LRWilliamson LRWilliamson LRWilliamson KrystalRussell KrystalRussell KrystalRussell TiaDavidge Murdoch CarrissBrett Jordan Robinson Crabtree ChloeAdams ChloeAdams ChloeAdams ChloeAdams ChloeAdams

Parish and Ridley running on the second ground. A handful of AFLW players, with Wood, also training.


Huta Porter MadGray running too.

Dani sneaks up behind Barto.