RYAN TO BE KEY IN THE FINAL

Meg Ryan, coach Krissie Steen and Jaimi Tabb at the NAFC/SANFL Best & Fairest night.
By Peter Argent

A member of the victorious Northern Zone side at the SA Country Championships in Victor Harbor last year, Broken Hill’s Irish recruit Meg Ryan is on an even biggest stage this Sunday, May 29.

She will play in the SANFL Women’s Grand Final for North Adelaide when the Roosters take on Sturt at The Parade, Norwood, in the season decider, starting at 1.45pm.

Her coach, Krissie Steen, a two-time premiership mentor with flags at both South and North Adelaide, said in the pre-Grand Final interview, “Irishwoman Meg Ryan has taken the competition by storm, winning 17 disposals and 19 hit-outs in the second semi-final win.”

“We’ve been preparing for a long time for this (the Grand Final),” Steen continued.

“I don’t really believe there’s much more we can do to prepare.”

For North Adelaide, this will be a fourth Grand Final appearance, starting with a berth in the inaugural season back in 2017, went they ran into a potent Norwood outfit.

They also made the big dance in 2019, going down to South Adelaide, but after this heartbreak, went through the 2020 campaign undefeated.

Both Sturt and North finished with nine wins across the ’22 minor round, and each spent time perched on top of the ladder.

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The Roosters were emphatic in the second semi-final win two weeks ago, defeating the Double Blues by 57 points.

In the only other clash for the year, back in mid-February, Sturt snuck home by three points in a round two thriller, kicking the only goal of the match deep in the final term to win 1.4 (10) to 0.7 (7), with Ryan on debut that evening.

Ryan, who actually plays an important role as a fourth midfielder, was still equal seventh across the league in hit outs for the 2022 SANFL Women’s season, finishing with an average of 12.9 per game across her 11 games this year.

She is also the Roosters leading clearance winner and sixth across the league, being credited with 50 at an average of 4.5 per game.

Interestingly, but unsurprisingly, due to her dual roles in her inaugural season at state-league level, Ryan has given away the most “free kicks” across the competition – a total of 43 free kicks across the season.

Her direct opponent will be Sturt and Adelaide Crows’ young gun Zoe Prowse, who is equally athletic and hard-working, making their one-on-one match up one of the keys to this contest.

The expected inclement weather will also play a role in this final. The early weather forecast is for rain and high winds, which will make executing skills more difficult under the pressure of Grand Final intensity.

North are the pre-game favourites, but it’s a Grand Final.

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