TASSIE Devils' first full NAB League campaign may have come to an end after Saturday's elimination final, but it's been a significant season of growth for the women's program.
The Devils were an invitational side in 2019 and only managed two games last year before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19 but won six of eight regular season matches this year.
In a newly revamped finals series which saw four "Country/Tasmania" and four "Metro" teams qualify, Tassie (who had finished second overall) faced off against fellow "Country" side GWV Rebels, falling short by just one point.
Claire Ransom, Meghan Gaffney and Amy Prokopiec were the Devils' best, while Paige Scott booted all four of the Rebels' goals.
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"The girls had a great season, we played nine games (total), won six and lost three, and those three were by a combined total of 18 points," coach and state talent manager Cameron Joyce told womens.afl.
"The girls were certainly super competitive in every game and got some good rewards for effort throughout the year.
"One of the aims for me was to make sure we looked to improve every time we trained and played, whether that was statistical, individual or some success from the team on the field – probably a combination of all."
There were some challenges in fielding a state team in a weekly competition, with three training bases – in Hobart, Launceston and Penguin on the north-west coast – set up across Tasmania.
The squad of 39 (all of whom got a run at some stage of the season) trained as a collective just three times over the season.
"The girls have done a fantastic job in still being connected," Joyce said.
"That was one of the things from the weekend's loss, they were really enjoying training and playing with one another, they didn't want it to end, which is a good thing.
"The platform of the NAB League is so important, we played against a couple of girls over the weekend who will probably play AFLW next year, so it's great to have a taste against that level of competition.
"Hopefully that holds us in good stead now, but also in a good position in the future."
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Players will now return to regional competitions and school footy, with a number set to be involved in representing Tasmania at under-17 level later in the year.
Camilla Taylor has played two games for North Melbourne's VFLW side, with a few more expected to feature for the Roos later this year, and Priscilla Odwogo has also had a run around with Williamstown.
Other results from the first week of NAB League finals saw top seed Oakleigh Chargers knock off the powerful Calder Cannons by 13 points, Eastern Ranges comfortably account for 2019 premiers Northern Knights by 28 and Geelong Falcons gallop away to a 35-point victory over Dandenong Stingrays.
This weekend's semi-final double-header at Avalon Airport Oval will see the Chargers host the Ranges, with the Falcons and the Rebels then locking horns.
NAB League Girls semi-finals
Saturday, May 8
Oakleigh Chargers v Eastern Ranges at Avalon Airport Oval (Werribee), 10am AEST
Geelong Falcons v GWV Rebels at Avalon Airport Oval (Werribee), 12pm AEST