AFLW Previews: Round 4
ROUND three saw the return of reigning AFLW MVP, Erin Phillips, whose presence gifted her side with its first win of the season. Meanwhile, Melbourne suffered its first loss of the season against the Dockers, who are finding some form in recent weeks. Carlton struggled without captain, Brianna Davey, and now without star forward, Tayla Harris for this week, they will have to really step it up against the Bulldogs. Up north, the bottom-of-the-ladder Magpies and the high-flying Dees will battle for premiership points in what will be a memorable match in Darwin.
Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton
Friday February 23, 7.05pm at VU Whitten Oval
The Western Bulldogs’ loss to the reigning premiers came as a surprise, as the Dogs had been dominant and had put their hand up for grand final contention this year. But the loss was not the biggest blow for the game, with the Dogs losing superstar forward, Katie Brennan to an ankle injury. Brennan will be hard to replace, as her presence in front of goal and on-field leadership is second to none. But as one door closes, another opens, making room for code-crosser, Kim Rennie to come into the Bulldogs side for the first time. For the Blues, their impressive start to the season came to an end last week, losing against a dominant Brisbane outfit. The Blues were outclassed, and unfortunately will continue to miss the skill of captain, Brianna Davey, who is out for the season with an ACL injury. Teammate, Tayla Harris will also be missed, after her hit on Brisbane’s Leah Kaslar last week cost her a spot in the round-four team. Last year’s AFLW leading goal-kicker, Darcy Vescio will be out to bag a few majors, after having a slow start to the season. Keep an eye out for debutant, Courtney Webb who will be looking to secure a spot in the midfield for the Blues. Former Carlton captain, Lauren Arnell has also been named in the team, and will be hoping to pull out all stops for the Blues in her first outing since round one. With the Western Bulldogs and Carlton coming off unexpected losses, expect the sides to come out firing, making for a highly contested AFLW Pride Match.
Brisbane vs. Fremantle
Saturday February 24, 4.35pm at South Pine Sports Complex
The Brisbane Lions put on a clinic against the Blues, once again raising their hand for grand final contention. The Lions are yet to feel the loss of marquee player, Tayla Harris, with the likes of star forward, Sabrina Frederick-Traub stepping up to fill the void. Frederick-Traub has impressed with her marking so far, but will be keen to hit the scoreboard in a big way this week. University of Queensland recruit, Gabby Collingwood comes back into the side to replace the injured Sophie Conway, and will be hoping to keep her spot in the team with a promising performance against Fremantle. With two wins under their belt, the Dockers have a spring in their step, and would be aiming for a third consecutive win this week. Their accuracy in front of goal proved to be their point of difference last week, with young gun and Rising Star nominee, Emily McGuire making a name for herself in her first outing as a Docker. Captain, Kara Donnellan stood tall once again for Fremantle, racking up plenty of touches and applying immense pressure on the Melbourne midfield. After serving her suspension, expect Stacey Barr to be out to prove a point at South Pine Sports Complex, and cement her spot in Fremantle’s line-up.
Melbourne vs. Collingwood
Saturday February 24, 7.10pm at TIO Traeger Park
After three rounds, Collingwood is still winless, and will be hoping to end its losing streak against the Demons this week. Brittany Bonnici and Stephanie Chiocci each had dominant starts in last week’s game against the Giants, getting the Pies on the scoreboard. The Magpies showed glimpses of their ability to control games, but fell away late in the match, succumbing to GWS’ pressure. If Collingwood can keep its intensity up throughout the game, the Demons could feel the pressure, after struggling in front of goal last week. Forward, Moana Hope slotted two goals and found some much-needed form, which she will be eager to maintain. Round 1 Rising Star nominee, Chloe Molloy will aiming to continue to show her excellent footy skills and strength for the Pies. Collingwood will be hoping that after serving her two-match ban, Sarah D’Arcy will be firing on all cylinders, and the inclusion of Holly Whitford will give a much-needed spark to the side. Up the other end, Melbourne will be seeking to get back in the winners’ column with a dominant performance over the struggling Pies. The Collingwood defenders will have their work cut out for them, having to control power forward, Tegan Cunningham, who has scored in every match so far. The class of Melbourne’s ever-reliable captain, Daisy Pearce and experienced defender, Karen Paxman may be hard for the Pies to stop. Speedy forward, Aliesha Newman has also proven to be a handy goal-sneak, and may be able to use the conditions to her advantage. The Northern Territory clash will prove to be a difficult one for the players, as they must also contend with the extreme heat and humidity.
GWS vs. Adelaide
Sunday February 25, 4.35pm at Blacktown International Sportspark
With both teams securing their first win for the 2018 season in round three, they will be searching to claim that elusive second win. The Crows had a sluggish start to the year but will be hoping to hit their straps late this season. The return of superstar, Erin Phillips kick-started Adelaide’s season, after struggling without her goal-kicking ability, class through the middle, and leadership across the field. The Adelaide line-up has been further bolstered with the experienced Courtney Cramey set to play her first game for the season. The All-Australian defender will be a huge in for the Crows, who will be hunting to take down GWS. Superstar forward, Sarah Perkins will also be looking to have a big day out this week, as she has struggled in front of goals in the past few outings for the Crows. Down the other end, keep an eye out for GWS forward, Aimee Schmidt who was explosive against the Pies. Star midfielder, Courtney Gum also impressed, and showed that age does not matter in AFLW, racking up plenty of touches and bagging two goals in her outing last week. Nelson Marlins Bay recruit, Pippa Smyth is set to make waves for in her first appearance for GWS, after delivering some promising results in the AFLW Draft Combine last year. The Giants can expect to see big things from the former netballer, and will be hoping that she can perform on the big stage. Sitting on even points on the ladder, the Giants and Crows are evenly poised, making for a close contest between the teams. A win for either team would restore some much-needed faith from their supporters, after a disappointing start to the season.