VIC COUNTRY finished the NAB AFL Women's Under-18 Championships as the one of only two undefeated sides, winning all four of its matches across the two-month competition.
With no formal winner announced (not all teams played the same number of games), Country were bellowing their song in the rooms after their impressive win over Western Australia on Friday at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
The Allies, a composite team made up of players from the Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania, were also undefeated (albeit in three matches played this week) in a stunning result for the competition underdogs.
Vic Metro held on in a thriller to defeat NSW/ACT by seven points. Madison Prespakis – named the carnival’s best player – was once again among Metro's best, kicking the first and last goals and winning plenty of contested ball.
NSW/ACT battled hard, was in front at half-time and remained within touching distance of Metro for the remainder of the match. Renee Friend's 50-metre goal, which bounced over several players, was a highlight.
Vic Country cruised to a 22-point victory over Western Australia. The Vics were organised in defence and dangerous around goal, capping off their undefeated campaign with a solid team performance.
Courtney Hodder, back in her customary midfield role after an excellent game on Wednesday playing forward, was again dangerous for Western Australia.
The Allies made it three from three after overrunning Queensland by seven points. The combined side impressed everyone with its cohesion this week, and it was a similar story again on Friday, with ruck Jess Allen's high marking a stand-out.
The Queenslanders had a difficult campaign at times, but weren't going to die wondering. They were physical and ran hard, although struggled with accuracy in front of goal.
Vic Metro: Emerson Woods celebrated her 17th birthday with teammates on Wednesday, and the wiry forward was eye-catching all week. With speed to burn, Woods sometimes takes on one too many tacklers, but will only improve with experience.
NSW/ACT: Jordan Jolliffe represents the future of female football in NSW. The powerful 17-year-old can run through the midfield or play up forward. Kicked two goals against Metro and was involved in most of the play.
Vic Country: Key defender Georgia Clarke had a very steady week. The 17-year-old from the Greater Western Victoria Rebels will have to wait another year before she can be drafted, but her composure and marking skills were highlights.
Western Australia: Versatile forward Kate Bartlett is equally adept in the air and on the ground. She kicked three against Country and was a constant threat. Don't be surprised if she ends up on Fremantle's list next year.
Queensland: Ruby Blair is a top-age defender who was a rock in defence. Took several intercept marks and made good decisions.
Allies: Tasmanian Daria Bannister has played footy for only a few years, but the midfielder has quickly risen through the ranks to sit comfortably among the best. Has superb skills and is very tough around the ball.
Seen and heard
Collingwood's AFLW coach Wayne Siekman and footy operations manager Mathew James were on hand once again, chatting to Vic Country coach (and Carlton AFLW assistant coach) Scott Gowans.
Former Collingwood player Kendra Heil was an assistant coach for Vic Metro, and enjoyed developing her coaching skills as she recovers from her second ACL reconstruction.
Carlton's Damien Keeping was watching Vic Metro and Vic Country's matches with interest, going out on to the field at every break to listen to the coaches.
Western Australia had 11 indigenous girls in their squad of 35, with more than a few who would be on Fremantle coach Michelle Cowan's wishlist for this year's draft, including key forward Emily McGuire and captain Maddison Ugle.
But the best of the lot isn't eligible for another year. Small midfielder Courtney Hodder, who also played forward this week, is quick, agile and has excellent skills. She’s also a rugby sevens star.
Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans was one of several Suns officials to wander down to Broadbeach on Friday afternoon, taking in the Queensland-Allies clash. The Suns were one of eight teams to apply for a 2019 AFLW licence several weeks ago.
Best Player of Championships: Madison Prespakis (Vic Metro)
Leading goalkicker: Eden Zanker (Vic Country)
MVP for each team
Allies: Eloise Jones
NSW/ACT: Alyce Parker
Queensland: Lauren Bella
Vic Metro: Madison Prespakis
Vic Country: Tyla Hanks
Western Australia: Courtney Hodder
That's it this year for girls' state footy, with the top-age footballers having played their last representative game. An All Australian squad will be released on Friday evening, with the final team to be selected later.
RESULTS FROM NAB AFLW UNDER-18 CHAMPIONSHIPS
FRIDAY, JULY 14
VIC METRO 3.1 3.1 4.8 6.8 (44)
NSW/ACT 2.1 3.3 4.5 5.7 (37)
Vic Metro: Prespakis 2, Cornish, Ricardo, Wilson, Woods
NSW/ACT: Miller-Hill 2, Jolliffe 2, Friend
Vic Metro: Prespakis, Flanagan, McLaren, McPherson, Newton, Dargan
NSW/ACT: A Hamilton, Parker, Breward, Jolliffe, Nash, Miller-Hill
VIC COUNTRY 2.2 5.3 7.6 8.8 (56)
WA 1.1 3.1 3.4 5.4 (34)
Vic Country: Zanker 3, Morrison, Hanks, Struylaart, Brown, Kennedy
WA: Bartlett 3, Roux, Muir
Vic Country: Gee, Zanker, Hanks, Purcell, Allen, Van De Huevel
WA: Dowrick, Hodder, McAuliffe, Deegan, Ugle, Bowan
ALLIES 3.2 3.2 4.3 5.3 (33)
QUEENSLAND 2.1 3.5 3.5 3.8 (26)
Allies: Bannister, Ponter, Boyd, Tabb, Bosley
Queensland: White, Henning, Conway
Allies: Bannister, Allan, Baird, Tabb, Boyd, Ponter
Queensland: White, Ahwang, Heslop, Yorston, Blair