WE officially head into the second half of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season this round, as the competition continues to heat up. Huge games this week see the once unstoppable NT Thunder looking to bounce back and return to the winners list when it takes on second-placed Geelong Cats. Another huge game pits the league-leading Pies against the explosive Darebin Falcons at Victoria Park.
Casey vs Southern Saints
Saturday July 7, Casey Fields, 11:30AM
The Demons have had a disappointing start to the season and find themselves with just two wins from their first six games. Although not out of contention for the finals, if they wish to play any part in the series at the end of the season they will have to start stringing together some wins, as they did last week in their dominance over the Bombers. Bianca Jakobsson and Katherine Smith have been in great form recent weeks and will be key to the Demons kick-starting their run to the finals. The Saints come off their second bye sitting comfortably at 4-2, right up with the top contenders. This weekend’s clash is a huge game for them, given they take on two flag fancies in Geelong and Hawthorn in the coming weeks, so the Saints will be looking to take care of business in a game they should win. Alison Drennan has been a star for the Saints this season and as always will be instrumental in the Southern Saints earning a victory.
NT Thunder vs Geelong
Saturday July 7, TIO Stadium, 4PM
In the game of the round, the second-placed Geelong takes on the NT Thunder in Darwin. The Thunder had been in unbelievable form prior to faltering the past two weeks against the Saints and the Magpies. With just two points separating them the Thunder from the Cats, the home side can move back into third place and close the gap on the Hawks and Pies at the top of the ladder. Their defence was absolutely dominated last week in the match-up against Collingwood and will need to put in a better collective performance if they wish to beat the impressive Geelong outfit. The Cats’ perfect start to the season came to an end last week, as they suffered their first loss of the season in an extremely disappointing outing which saw them kick just one goal. Star players, Renee Garing and Richelle Cranston missed the game and the team were unable to step up in their absence with poor performances across the ground. Cranston returns to the line-up this week and will be hoping to return to her form from earlier in the season.
Essendon vs Richmond
Sunday July 8, Windy Hill, 11:30AM
A day of rivalries for the Bombers as first they take on Richmond at Windy Hill in the VFLW before their men’s side take on the Pies at the MCG in a blockbuster. The Bombers will look to notch their first win of the competition against a side in Richmond who have also been struggling. The Tigers took out the first meeting between these teams a little over a month ago in a one-sided game, so the Bombers will be looking for revenge. Hayley Bullas continues to be a shining light for the winless side, giving 100 per cent energy and effort each week in the hope of one day pulling her side to victory. For the Tigers, they have rebounded from a slow start to the season and sit at 3-4 from their seven matches. The match-up against the Hawks last week showed they can match it with the best in the league, however they ultimately fell by less than a goal. Phoebe Monahan starred with 26 possessions, Jacqueline Graham added 22 possessions and Kate Dempsey also had an impressive outing.
Hawthorn vs Williamstown
Sunday July 8, Box Hill City Oval, 11:30AM
The Hawks have been fantastic this season and find themselves second on the ladder with six wins from their first seven outings and a healthy percentage. The strength of the Hawks is their ability to get contributions from so many and not be dependent on any one person on a given week. This was exemplified in their close win against the Tigers last week as they had strong games from a number of players including Meg Hutchins, Rebecca Beeson and Jayde Van Dyk to name a few. For Williamstown, it has been a difficult season with only one win to date and it will be extremely difficult to add one more against the red-hot Hawks. Jess Duffin had a game-high 31 possessions last week as she continues to dominate for the Seagulls and make her case as one of the best players in the entire competition. Jenna Bruton also churned out an impressive performance with 27 possessions, but will be duly missed this weekend.
Collingwood vs Darebin
Sunday July 8, Victoria Park, 2:30PM
What an incredible run it has been for the Collingwood Football Club of late! Not only are their men’s side on a six-game win streak and sitting second on the ladder but their VFLW side have been even more impressive, as they are unbeaten in their first seven games (including one draw). Perhaps the most impressive win of the season thus far came last week, when the Pies flew up to Darwin and defeated the Thunder. AFLW Best and fairest runner-up, Chloe Molloy has been in amazing form since returning to the line-up a month ago, not missing a beat from her great performances over the summer. The side as a whole have been firing on all cylinders as well with Sarah D’Arcy, Sophie Alexander and Jaimee Lambert among those. The Falcons sit in the middle of the table with five wins and two losses. A tough, grinding win against Williamstown last week put the Falcons in a good position heading into the stretch, with a favourable schedule coming up. Nat Exon played extremely well with 20 possessions and was her usual aggressive self, with nine tackles. After having a slow start to the year, AFLW standout, Elise O’Dea has started to find form in recent weeks, which will be great for the Falcons midfield as they look to get on top around the contest.
Melbourne Uni vs Western Bulldogs
Sunday July 8, Melbourne Uni Main Oval, 2:30PM
Melbourne Uni has found some form of late and look to build off it heading into the second half of the season. An impressive performance last week got the Mugars the win against Carlton with standout games from Ashleigh Riddell, who had 24 possessions and Katie Angelis, who booted three goals. With only two wins to date, the Mugars need to start stringing together some wins if they are to have any hope of featuring late in the season. The Bulldogs put together their most impressive performance of the season in their win against the previously unbeaten Geelong, holding them to just one goal. Ellie Blackburn dominated with 25 touches and a goal while Brooke Lochland continued her impressive run of late with another strong performance. With impressive outings in recent weeks, the Bulldogs have put themselves right back in contention for finals but like Melbourne Uni, must string the wins together, as two games separate them from the top five teams in the competition.