Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 1

THE opening round of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Statewide Super Women’s League is completed tomorrow with four games across two double headers. Two new sides – Central District and Woodville-West Torrens are making their league debuts, while reigning premiers South Adelaide begin its campaign to go back-to-back.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. GLENELG
Friday, February 15, 5.20pm
Flinders University Stadium

The opening game of Round 1 for the 2019 season sees last year’s wooden spooners taking on one of the new sides of the competition. Woodville-West Torrens will hope to kick off their SANFL Women’s League campaign with a win against Glenelg, who have won four games from their 16 matches played. With plenty of changes at the Tigers, and a number of experienced players departing the club, Glenelg will hope the likes of Morphettville Park duo, Chelsea Packer and Ellen Fauser can step up and help new coach, Jason Fairall gain an early win for season 2019. The Tigers won three of their first four games in 2017, but have won just one game since March, 2017 which was a five-point victory over West Adelaide. With the two new teams up first, the Tigers hope to start their 2019 campaign like they did in 2017. Tigers’ captain, Cass Hartley, vice-captain Elle Hellock, Sheridan Howell and Bonnie Wells are the only four players on the list who played all 10 games last season. Last year’s leading goal kicker, Lexia Edwards retired and the visitors will hope to find a new target in attack this season. The Eagles are harder to gauge given they are a brand new team to the competition, but coach Tess Baxter has brought in some seriously talented youth, which means one can expect they will have plenty of run in their legs. Jaimi Tabb – who booted five goals for West Adelaide last season – and Rachel Dunstan have both headed to the Eagles, while former GWS GIANT, Stephanie Walker looms as the key player in the side. Add in Kiana Lee and the young Eagles will challenge plenty of teams.

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 15, 6.00pm
City Mazda Stadium

Two of the original SANFL Women’s League sides, Norwood and North Adelaide clash for the seventh time in the clubs’ histories, with Norwood holding a 4-2 win-loss record against the Roosters. The Redlegs have a premiership in the bank having defeated their Round 1 opponents in the inaugural grand final, before going down to South Adelaide last year. Norwood have bade farewell to a number of players who have left to play AFL Women’s or VFL Women’s competitions. They need to find a way to replace GWS GIANT, Ebony O’Dea who was drafted last season, however Monique Hollick and Rhiannon Busch – who combined for 293 possessions in season 2018 – will be looking to start off strongly this season. The Redlegs’ lowest score in their history came against North Adelaide last year when Norwood failed to score, but two other wins – including the preliminary final victory – meant they ended the year with a positive win-loss ratio. For North Adelaide, the loss of former captain, Jess Edwards, young ball winner, Esther Boles and Adelaide AFL Women’s players, Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chloe Scheer who were both rezoned, means like the Redlegs, the Roosters will have a vastly different line-up. With GWS GIANT, Britt Perry also out for most of the season, the Roosters will look to assistant coach Emma Sampson who has returned to the playing field, as well as a host of players stepping up to the league. Paige Allan, Kelly Baltrop, Lauren Daniel, Sarah Ellis, Nadia Von Bertouch and Amber Ward all played every game last season and provide some consistency across the field.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Friday, February 15, 7.00pm
Flinders University Stadium

The Round 1 clash between South Adelaide and Sturt is the third time the two teams have clashed, with the Panthers emerging victorious on both previous occasions. Both new teams to last year’s competition, South Adelaide triumphed in Round 2 by 46 points and Round 8 by a thumping 86 points, en-route to the 2018 premiership. Sturt used the third last game of its season to turn the form around, upsetting eventual grand finalists, Norwood by six points, then backing it up with a win over wooden spooners, Glenelg by 16. The Panthers have a number of talented young players who have the potential to cause damage to their opposition, including top-age Under-18 South Australian ruck, Montana McKinnon, and Under 18 representatives from last season, bottom-ager Teah Charlton, now top-ager Hannah Munyard, and Madison Bennett and Jaslynne Smith. Elysse Haussen was one of the more prominent ball winners for the Panthers last season, averaging 15.3 possessions per game, third behind the departed Nikki Gore (19.5) and Czenya Cauvorous (17.3). For Sturt, they have regained Georgia Bevan for the full season after the Crows’ AFL Women’s player averaged 16.8 disposals last season from four games. Once the AFL Women’s season is over, the return of Jess Foley will be handy having averaged 18 touches from her nine games for the Double Blues. Sturt’s test will be finding targets up forward, with Becchara Palmer heading interstate leaving Shae Gundlach as the sole leading goal kicker from last season, having booted four majors. South Adelaide will head into this game as strong favourites, but it will be interesting to see how they shape up.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Friday, February 15, 7.45pm
City Mazda Stadium

In the final game of the round, West Adelaide hosts Central District in the Bulldogs’ first ever SANFL Women’s League game. Last season the Bloods finished just outside the top three, and will be keen to get an early win over the newcomers to the competition. They have some seriously talented young players at the Westies, with Rachelle Martin impressing for South Australia at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships last year, and proving herself to be a ball magnet in this competition, averaging 18 disposals from her 10 games. With older sister Hannah drafted by the Crows, Rachelle will be keen to put in another great season and follow in her footsteps down the track. Abbie Ballard is another player to watch out for as the bottom-ager has shown plenty of talent in her career at the level, and could take her game to the next step ahead of the 2019 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Add in top-ager, Maddi Newman and a couple of basketball recruits in Leah Swain and Alice Gee, and the Westies have some potentially untapped talent. Looking at the Bulldogs’ list, no doubt the club will be carefully monitoring Adelaide’s AFL Women’s team selection since securing Chloe Scheer and Katelyn Rosenzweig from North Adelaide. While Scheer is now seemingly a lock inside Adelaide’s best 22, Rosenzweig is yet to be selected, although many expect a debut not too far away. Last year’s leading goal kicker in the competition would be a huge target inside 50 for the Bulldogs. Former netballer, Nicola Biagi has been named as captain and is a testament to her impact off the field over the pre-season for her to lead the club in 2019. While how Central District performs is a bit of an unknown, they did win a couple of practice games over the summer giving them hope they can match it with the sites this season.

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