Plenty of positives in Dragons Girls season opener
Despite going down in their season-opener, there were plenty of positives to take away for the Sandringham Dragons girls side.
“It was really promising for us, from our practice matches to round one, we’ve shown so much improvement,” said head coach Martha Cantwell.
Persistent rain meant the conditions were tough to play in, but Cantwell was impressed with how her team adapted on the fly.
“It was super impressive how they adapted; I couldn’t believe it. Their attitudes the whole day were unbelievable. They had belief and that’s something that is really important. They were really positive and connected, they got around each other and they had the belief that they could play and that what they were doing could work.”
Despite going scoreless in the opening half, the Dragons booted three majors to zero in the third term to open up a two-point lead at the final change.
“In the third quarter we were able to get some points on the board and played a great brand. I’ve only been around a short time but there were some comments around that third quarter and how we played, it was some of the best footy our girls have played as a team.
Cantwell believes that the uptick in urgency was a key element to the Dragons revival.
“The urgency, we matched the oppositions pressure and were proactive rather than reactive, that gave them confidence when they started to win more of the footy.
“The belief was always there, but the added level of urgency and pressure gave them a lot of confidence.”
The Cannons kicked two goals in the last term to run over the top of the Dragons, but there was plenty to like from the girls’ first game of 2023.
MIDFIELD MAESTROS GO TO WORK
Keep an eye on Daisy Flockart in season 2023.
Traditionally a taller target, Flockart has made the move into the midfield this pre-season and has taken like a duck to water.
“From the start of pre-season to now, she’s absolutely trained the house down. Her skills have improved out of sight. She’s a great size, is really fit and can go through the midfield as a tall.”
Flockart had a team-high 22 disposals and five inside 50s, whilst also kicking an impressive goal in the third term.
“She has had a real impact for us, and I was super happy that all her hard work was out on show.”
19-year-old debutant Ash Van Rooyen also caught the eye with her work around the contest.
“She’s so new to footy, it was her first official Talent League game. If you didn’t know the girls, you wouldn’t know that about her. Every time she touched the ball, she did something really important with it.”
Van Rooyen had ten disposals, but four of those were inside 50s and Cantwell is extremely excited to watch the state decathlete improve throughout the year.
“Her ability to drive legs and win clearance was unbelievable, she takes the game on and completely changed the game for us. We are really excited for what she can do this year.”
Scout Howden had 20 possessions and four marks out on a wing, whilst Judie Goldman had 16 touches as well.
Co-captains Maddi Torpey and Annabelle Embelton have been outstanding in their new roles and Cantwell could not be more glowing in praise.
“They’re unbelievable, the two of them are outstanding.
“Some people say that Torpey is our spiritual leader and I truly believe that she is. She’s such a presence and so positive in how she goes about things.”
Torpey had 14 disposals and was lively around the ground, whilst Embelton marshalled the troops in defence racking up 15 touches.
“Torpey’s ability to connect with the mids has been so good. She had an interrupted pre-season but her ability to impact all over the ground was really awesome.
“Embelton did some really impressive things both on and off the field. They used some of the things they’ve learned off field around mindset and motivation and performance anxiety and were utilising these tools and resources on the ground. Our leaders were leading that which was so good to see, they’ve been fantastic.”
The resilience and determination of the defensive unit was outstanding in the face of adversity.
“The backs are great and really stood up as a unit. We were dominated on the inside 50 count (40-26), so their ability to stop the Cannons from scoring was really pleasing.”
A combination of leadership and experience in the back half of the ground has held the line in good stead.
“Our backs were organised, we’ve worked on accountability quite a bit and they did so well. They worked together as a group really well.”
Jas Shepherd (17 disposals, six tackles) provides plenty of rebound, whilst Meg Webster (15 disposals, five tackles) stood up in trying conditions.
“Shepherd had a really sound game, her ability to not only nullify but also create some play. Webster had a number of intercepts and on a day like that was excellent.”
“Georgia Foran has been a sergeant for the girls in the last few years. Her presence and her voice, alongside Embelton, really helps the girls.”
Issy Bacon was also thrust into the defence and fitted in seamlessly, breaking lines and creating plenty of drive out of the back half.
“Having Issy Bacon come into the backline was also key, her speed and ability to create play off half-back was pretty exciting.”
CANNONS 1.2 2.2 2.5 4.7 31
DRAGONS 0.0 0.0 3.1 3.3 21
BEST: Flockart, Van Rooyen, Dale, Torpey, Foran, Shepherd, Webster