GOOD-KNIGHT: DRAGONS TAKE DOWN NORTHERN TO SECURE FOURTH WIN
The Sandringham Dragons have won their fourth match of the 2022 NAB League Girls season, defeating the Northern Knights by 30 points at Parade College.
The girls bounced back in fine fashion after last week’s heart-breaking loss to the Dandenong Stingrays.
A combination of star players and promising youngsters combined brilliantly for the Dragons, who were too classy for the Knights.
Zari Mildenhall and Judie Goldman, who earnt their spot in the side after some eye-catching Futures performances, were impressive in their first taste at the level.
Key forward Mia Zielinski was involved in everything, crashing packs and taking strong marks as the key figure up forward, booting two majors for the day.
Zielinski also had 19 disposals and a game-high six marks and has put together a fantastic season for the Pink, White and Blue.
Ruck Maddison Torpey put a minor ankle scare behind her and was terrific around the ground, accumulating 12 disposals, 14 hitouts and three rebound 50s.
Silky midfielder Keely Coyne had another strong showing amassing 22 touches, eight tackles, four inside 50s and a goal, whilst Georgia Foran (16 disposals, seven rebound 50s) stood up as the defensive general in defence after a few regular defenders were ruled out through injury.
FIRST QUARTER SETS THE TONE
The Dragons got off to a hot start at Parade College, putting together a four goal to zero opening quarter.
Assistant coach Danny Byrne was delighted with the teams start to the match.
“We won the ball at the stoppages in the first quarter, and we were able to put a big gap on them early,” said Byrne.
“The first quarter we played was our best for the year.”
The Dragons did the bulk of the damage early and raced out to a 28-point lead at the first change.
“We had patches where we played well and patches where we dropped off in the last three quarters, but I think the damage was done in the first quarter.”
Sandringham put a strong emphasis on ball movement in the lead up to the match and Byrne said that the players were encouraged to take advantage of the stand rule to speed up their transition.
“The pleasing thing for me was our positioning, holding our width, that’s something we did a lot better this week.
The Dragons had contributors all over the ground early on, with many girls who have made their way up through the Futures program also standing up when the heat was on.
SCIBBA ME TIMBERS
Ella Sciberras has made a name for herself as a hard-nosed tackling machine through the midfield so far in 2022.
Sciberras ranks second at the club for tackles, amassing 40 tackles across seven matches so far this season.
However, she spent more time up forward against the Knights and had a significant impact on the contest inside the forward 50.
Sciberras kicked the opening goal of the contest with a composed finish on the run, after taking a strong contested mark before bouncing onto her feet and wheeling off towards goal.
Her pressure inside forward 50 created numerous turnovers from the Knights trying to exit their back half, which ultimately lead to goals for the Dragons.
Sciberras’ ability to set the tone with her ferocity on the contest was a standout for the Dragons on the day.
HURLEY ADDS ANOTHER STRING TO HER BOW
Sofia Hurley has become one of the league’s most prolific ball winners over the first eight weeks of the 2022 season, averaging over 24.5 disposals a match and is the competition’s premier tackler as well, having racked up a league-high 76 tackles so far.
However, Hurley didn’t just win the ball at the coalface against the Knights – she managed to hit the scoreboard as well.
For Hurley’s first goal of the afternoon, she left a trail of three Knights players in her wake after hitting the forward 50 stoppage at speed, before composing and slotting a goal from 25 metres out directly in front.
Her calmness and poise in traffic makes her one of the key cogs in the Dragons midfield set up and her ability to weave in and out of
Her second major came early in the fourth term, when she pounced on a stray kick to slot the Dragons eighth goal.
FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH
Bridie Hipwell has become a force to be reckoned with both forward and in the centre square this season.
After missing the opening match of the season against Tasmania, Hipwell has built her season nicely from there on.
She started at the centre bounce on Monday and was one of the best players in the opening term.
Her height and power make her a difficult matchup for opposition midfielders as she exemplifies the ‘modern prototype’ of midfielder that is coming into vogue.
Hipwell had 12 disposals, four inside 50s and four tackles on Monday but did so in just three quarters, after missing the third term through injury/load management.
Hipwell’s footy IQ is another trait of her game which contributes to her on-field success.
She read the ball in flight far better than her opponent to take the mark, before coolly slotting a set shot halfway through the fourth term to extend the Dragons lead to 47 points.
The Dragons take on the Calder Cannons in the penultimate round of the 2022 NAB League Girls season on Sunday March 20 to keep their faint finals hopes alive.
KNIGHTS 0.0 1.2 1.3 5.3 33
DRAGONS 4.4 5.6 7.8 9.9 63
BEST Hurley, Torpey, Zielinski, Coyne, Sciberras, Foran