by Kyle Champion
Last Saturday, NT Thunder suffered its third defeat of the season to Williamstown in harsh conditions. Lisa Roberts was disappointed with the result, but now she is more focused on the next challenge.
“It was a tough game,” she said. “Some of the injuries we sustained didn’t help and it was a hard fought out game. But we’re sticking together and now it’s all about recovery and how we can bounce back.”
One area Thunder has struggled with is ruck dominance. Jasmyn Hewett is still being tortured by a foot injury and her substitutes are heavily undersized.
“Jasmyn has had her issues with her foot and ankle,” Roberts said. “Not having her there is a disadvantage for us height wise in the ruck. The other girls in Gemma Cusack and Katrina Simmons can’t match most other rucks for height. However, they’ve been working on body strength and how to out position their opponents and work well across the ground.”
Another ruck that has been sidelined all year is Waratah star, Joanna Kolodziej. Like Roberts, Kolodziej is a multiple NTFL premiership player for Waratah. However, she still seems to be two weeks away from making a possible debut. A hamstring injury has been holding her back.
“She has been battling really hard,” Roberts said. “We’re trying to get her back in the game but it’s taking a while even though she’s rehabbing like a champion. It’s a slow process but we’re hoping to get her out there soon.”
This weekend, NT Thunder will face Carlton for the second time this season. Their last encounter was a battle that was decided by seven points Thunder’s way. This time they meet in Darwin where Roberts expects a hard game.
This weekend Thunder will also be without three of their young stars; Mattea Breed, Alysha Healy and Shantel Miskin-Ripia, who are all travelling ahead of the NAB AFLW Under 18 Championships beginning on Monday.
“Each game for us has been tough,” Roberts said. “Last time it was a hard fight to the end and we’re expecting the same this weekend. This time we have the home soil advantage, but we’re still expecting a tough game from Carlton.”
One of Carlton’s danger players is its most recent AFLW best and fairest winner, Maddison Prespakis. Ever since Prespakis entered the fray, the Blues have looked like a different side.
Prespakis is cut from the same cloth as AFLW greats Chloe Molloy and Monique Conti. Back in 2017, they all played for the Calder Cannons at TAC Cup level under head coach Alicia Eva.
Since they were drafted into the AFLW, they have all made the All-Australian team at least once in the past two years.
Another pair of aces Carlton hold is the Hosking twins.
Sarah Hosking is an aggressive midfielder that has no problem pushing forward for a goal. She was the first rising star of the VFLW in 2016 after it was rebranded from the VWFL.
Jess Hosking, on the other hand, is the complete opposite type of player. She caused Thunder real headaches down back at La Trobe University. Her intercept marking and rebounding are a real asset to the Blues’ backline.
Roberts believes the home side is up to whatever challenge Carlton bring.
“We are confident in our talent and ability and with a few key players like Stevie-Lee and Danielle Ponter set to return we will build on the confidence they bring.
“It’s our last home game in Darwin, we love playing here in front of our family and friends so we hope to leave them with a positive last impression for this year,” she said.
This will be the first time Carlton has travelled north as Thunder wait to see if the Blues can handle the heat.
VFLW Round 9: NT Thunder vs Carlton – 3:30pm ACST Saturday 6 July, TIO Stadium, Darwin