SANFL Women’s: 2019 season preview

IN 2019, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Statewide Super Women’s League will feel fully complete for the South Australian fans with the introduction of the final two non AFL-aligned clubs in Central District and Woodville-West Torrens. The Bulldogs and Eagles kick-off their 2019 campaigns with the other six clubs on Friday night with double-headers at Flinders University Stadium and City Mazda Stadium. We take a look at how each of the eight teams went last year and who might influence their campaigns in 2019.

CENTRAL DISTRICT

Last year: DNP
Coach: Shaun Ribbons

The first of the new clubs entering the SANFL Women’s League in 2019 has had no trouble bringing in some young AFL Women’s talent, with Crows’ pair, Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chloe Scheer both joining the club from North Adelaide. While Scheer was recovering from injury last year, she is no stranger to league best and fairest awards and when the AFL Women’s season is over, expect her to have a big impact. Rosenzweig won the league goal kicking last season, and is yet to be named in Adelaide’s best 21, although there is little doubt she will squeeze her way in there soon. They also picked up Jayme-Lee Sonnerman from West Adelaide who will join the pair in the forward line after three goals in two matches last year, while fellow former Bloods player, Shannen Solly managed six matches, named in the best twice. Sonnerman will play alongside sister, Demi who also lands at the Bulldogs. Three cross-coders in netballers, Nicola Biagi – who has been named inaugural captain – Taryn Wills, and cricketer, Sarah-Jane Jameson join the side in what will be a largely unknown team outside the top couple of Crows’ stars.

GLENELG

Last year: 6th – Wooden spooners
Coach: Jason Fairall

The bottom-placed side last season will be keen to build on their performance, but will need to find a way to cover for the injured Angela Moritz. The assistant coach has undergone a knee reconstruction and will miss the season, which will hurt the Tigers considering her impressive performances last season. Moritz joins Sam Allan in recovering from a knee injury, while Brianna Walling has headed to the sunshine state. The trio combined for a total of 19 times in the club’s bests last season, and with leading goal kicker, Lexi Edwards retiring the Tigers will have to fill the holes left by the departing experience. They do have renewed enthusiasm with Jason Fairall taking the reigns at the club for the 2019 season. Given the loss in experience, the Tigers will hope the likes of Morphettville Park duo, Chelsea Packer and Ellen Fauser will help spur the side back up the ladder.

NORTH ADELAIDE

Last year: 3rd – Lost in Preliminary Final
Coach: Matt Slade

While last year’s season ultimately ended in heartbreak with an eight-point loss to Norwood in the preliminary final after finishing second on the home and away season ladder, the Roosters would be thrilled with the amount of talent that reached AFL Women’s level. Former leader, Jess Edwards went to Carlton, Ashleigh Woodland landed at Melbourne, Brittany Perry became a GIANT, and talented forward duo, Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chloe Scheer were recruited by the Crows. With the latter two rezoned to Central District, all of those players will be unable to pull on a North Adelaide jumper in 2019, much like state under 18s captain, Esther Boles who is taking a chance with Richmond’s VFL Women’s side in a bid to be picked up by the Tigers ahead of the 2020 AFL Women’s season. The ins do not match the outs in terms of SANFL Women’s experience, with the exception of Emma Sampson, the assistant coach who has opted to pull on the boots again. Among the inclusions are Andie Zbierski and Amy Reid, while netballer, Elysha Willis is taking a chance on football.

NORWOOD

Last year: 2nd – Lost in Grand Final
Coach: Steve Symonds

In 2019, the Redlegs made a huge run to push South Adelaide all the way in the decider, falling five points short of a premiership. Ebony O’Dea heads the departures after she was recruited to the GIANTS’ AFL Women’s side, and four players – Tess Baxter, Adele Gibson (playing eight games in 2019), Aajiah Jerico and Georgia Taylor – all headed to new club, Woodville-West Torrens. Key players Nicole Campbell and Alana Browne have crossed to reigning premiers, South Adelaide while Nicola Burns has headed to Victoria to try her luck with Carlton’s VFL Women’s side. It means the likes of Monique Hollick and Rhiannon Busch will be among plenty of fresh faces when they kick-off this Friday. Adelaide’s Sophie Armitstead has joined the club and will be available when not selected, while former GIANTS, Hannah Dunn and Najwah Allen will fill the voids left by some of the departing players. Morphettville Park trio, Erika Sporn, Thalia Meyer and Hannah Priest will also be keen to impress in the step up in competition.

SOUTH ADELAIDE

Last year: 1st – Premiers
Coach: Rick Watts

New Panthers’ coach Rick Watts will lead a vastly different team to the one that Krissie Steen lead to a premiership last season, with a number of players recruited into the AFL Women’s and testing themselves in the VFL Women’s. Young gun, Nikki Gore was recruited by the Crows after another sensational season last year, while Lisa Whiteley joined the GIANTS. Versatile tall, Kristi Harvey opted to stay in Victoria with Carlton’s VFL Women’s side, joined by Jorja Rowe and Louella McCarthy. The Panthers should not be taken lightly however, with Norwood duo, Nicole Campbell and Alana Browne joining the club, as did promising bottom-age junior, Teah Charlton. Cross-coders, Jess Kirk (soccer) and Emma Gryczewski (netball) add an element of the unknown, while the expected inclusion of Courtney Gum late in the season could be huge in the Panthers’ hopes for back-to-back flags. Anne Hatchard, Cheyenne Hammond and Elyse Haussen remain at the club and will be as hungry as ever to repeat the success of 2018.

STURT

Last year: 5th
Coach: Danijel Herbert

The big inclusion for last year’s fifth placed side is Georgia Bevan, with the Adelaide AFL Women’s player signing on for the Double Blues and named co-captain with Caitlyn Swanson. Bevan replaces fellow young talent, Rachel Dunstan who has headed to her home club, Woodville-West Torrens now the Eagles have a side in the competition. Jess Foley has been a crucial player for Adelaide already in the ruck this AFL Women’s season and will be sorely missed by Sturt supporters, while Becchara Palmer has headed to New South Wales. Sturt is relatively untouched in terms of departures, with a number of inclusions from across the state, including Zoe Prowse, Isobel Kuiper and Hannah Dreckow. Bottom-ager Alex Ballard – sister of Gold Coast’s Charlie – will be one to watch over the next couple of years.

WEST ADELAIDE

Last year: 4th
Coach: Shane Moon

West Adelaide is a side that has been relatively quiet over the off-season, picking up a few players, while a number departed to various clubs. Hannah Martin‘s recruitment to AFL Women’s is a big loss for the Bloods, while sister, Rachelle Martin will be keen to drive the team forward to improve on its 5-5 win-loss record from 2018. Fellow youngster, Jaimi Tabb has headed to new club, Woodville-West Torrens, while Taylah Gordon has joined St Kilda’s VFL Women’s side in the hope she can move through the ranks to AFL Women’s when the Saints join the league in 2020. Sophie Armitstead (Norwood) and Shannen Solly (Central District) are others who have departed the club, while South Adelaide’s Helen Maidment and basketballers, Leah Swain and Alice Gee also head to the Westies. Teenager, Abbie Ballard is expected to have a big impact in season 2019 as she develops, while Chelsea Biddell and Allison Evans will be keen to recreate the form they showed in 2018.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS

Last year: DNP
Coach: Tess Baxter

The other new side in the 2019 SANFL Women’s League is Woodville-West Torrens, a side which targeted youth for its upcoming campaign. South Australian Under 18s vice-captain, Rachel Dunstan joined the Eagles, as did fellow Central Allies’ representative, Jaimi Tabb, and up-and-coming talent, Kiana Lee. Adele Gibson leads a list of four players who have crossed to the Eagles from grand finalists, Norwood, while former GWS GIANT, Stephanie Walker headlines the club’s recruits. The Eagles recruitment staff have gone outside the box in forming the side, also looking to ice hockey player, Tash Farrier and Mount Lofty’s Maddie Dufek. Both Gibson and Farrier have been named to lead the club in season 2019, with inaugural coach Tess Baxter knowing what it takes to reach the final game of the season having done so as an assistant at Norwood.

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