Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 5

WITH three rounds remaining, it is becoming vitally important to come home with four points as conferences are really taking shape.

BRISBANE vs. GEELONG
Saturday, March 2, 4.45pm
Moreton Bay Sports Complex

A battle between the top two sides of Conference B looms as Brisbane meets Geelong for the first time in AFLW, with the 2-2 Cats travel north in hope of pouncing on top spot. The Lions’ greater percentage holds them clear of their weekend opponents for now and barring a draw, we will have an outright leader atop the Conference B standings after this clash. While both sides returned to form with wins last time out, a 7.7 Round 4 scoreline puts the Lions in good stead for this bout given the Cats were held goalless in the second half against Carlton on the same day. Goalsneak Jess Wuetschner has led the way in that department Brisbane, with six goals helping her to equal-second for the competition. As part of more astute defensive unit, Geelong’s Phoebe McWilliams and Mia-Rae Clifford hold the best hauls for their side with three majors each, so this should prove an interesting battle between attack and defence.

H2H: Brisbane 0 | Geelong 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Brisbane 1-1-0 | Geelong 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

CARLTON vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, March 2, 7.10pm
Ikon Park

Traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood do battle once again at Ikon Park, with the travelling Magpies still searching for an AFLW win against their nemesis, as well as in season 2019. Waywardness cost the Blues in their last outing, but a star-studded forward line boasting the likes of Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio will hope to bound back into form here. The marking power of Harris will no-doubt be challenged by Magpies netball convert, Ash Brazill, who is second in the competition for intercept possessions (31). Up the other end, Collingwood’s lack of a real target inside forward 50 has been a sore spot, with last week’s score of 27 its highest for the season. If they are to stand a chance in this Conference B clash, the Magpies will need to lock down well in defence and take their chances going the other way.

H2H: Carlton 2 | Collingwood 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Carlton 4-1-2 | Collingwood 0-3-0

Last time they met: Carlton 3.4 (22) defeated Collingwood 2.2 (14) at Ikon Park, Round 1 2018.

In the second time these two teams opened the season, Carlton prevailed once agin in a much tighter, eight-point win over their arch rivals. In a game best remembered for future Rising Star winner Chloe Molloy‘s debut – she had 20 disposals and completely nullified Darcy Vescio in defence – the Blues were more effective inside 50. Captain Brianna Davey amassed 16 disposals, four marks, two clearances, three rebounds and two tackles. Danielle Hardiman (12 touches and three rebounds) was solid, while Gab Pound and former Magpie, Nicola Stevens both amassed 11 touches and four rebounds. For the Magpies, Molloy had six more disposals than any other Pies player and also had four rebounds, while Jaimee Lambert – also making her Collingwood debut – was next best with 14 touches.

GWS GIANTS vs. MELBOURNE
Sunday, March 3, 2.05pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

GWS hosts Melbourne in a game that could prove vital for the Dees’ finals aspirations in Conference A. A much tighter Conference B ladder poises GWS in fourth, identical to their weekend counterparts’ standing, but a big win could propel the Giants into second come the round’s end. The home side will also come in with a bill of confidence having edged out the Magpies for their first win last time out, and will hope to make it two on the trot here. Conversely, Melbourne fought valiantly in a loss to the currently invincible Kangaroos, and a win would put them firmly back into the top two mix. The Dees will look to get back to winning ways after having won consecutively before Round 4, with the likes of Karen Paxman, Lauren Pearce, and Elise O’Dea enjoying terrific seasons through the midfield thus far. Rebecca Beeson is right up there with Paxman and O’Dea in the disposal count, and will look to combine with the class of Alicia Eva to make the engine room battle an even one. The Dees are also usually a healthy scoring side, so look for that to be a feature too.

H2H: GWS GIANTS 1 | Melbourne 1 | Draws 0
Venue: GWS GIANTS 1-3-1 | Melbourne 0-1-0

Last time they met: Melbourne 7.3 (45) defeated GWS GIANTS 6.3 (39) at Casey Fields, Round 1 2018.

Melbourne had to come from behind to get the job done in a thrilling contest against the GIANTS at Casey Fields in the opening round last year. They trailed at every break, but booted three of the last four goals to claim the victory. Daisy Pearce was the top ball winner with 19 disposals, seven clearances and five inside 50s, while Elise O’Dea had 17 as well as five inside . 50s, four rebounds and five tackles. Lily Mithen (15 disposals) and Bianca Jakobsson (14) were other Demons who performed well in the victory. For the GIANTS, Courtney Gum was superb with 17 disposals (12 contested), four clearances, two tackles and two inside 50s, while Alicia Eva and Jacinda Barclay both recorded 14 disposals, with the latter slotting two majors.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. ADELAIDE
Sunday, March 3, 4.05pm
Avalon Airport Oval

A top of the table clash looms in Conference A as Adelaide looks to join the undefeated North Melbourne on 16 points atop of the ladder. Adelaide are the only other side who can boast a winning run of over three game, with the Crows’ only loss coming in Round 1 by the slimmest of margins on the back of a 1.11 score. Meanwhile, the Kangaroos have proved a powerhouse since entering the competition, with their lowest score thus far a more than respectable 38, coming last round. The Dees proved their biggest challenge by far on that day, with an otherwise average winning margin of almost 31 points. Since Round 1, the Crows have proved to be no slouches in front of goal either, with three scores over 57 points leading to handy victories and a percentage of 168. The goalkicking prowess on either team is easily identified by the fact that new ‘Roo Emma King and Crows forward Stevie-Lee Thompson each lead the goalkicking charts with seven goals apiece. Both sides boast versatile midfields along with their scoring power, with the likes of Ebony Marinoff and Erin Phillips dominating for the Crows with good meterage and a link into forward 50, while Emma Kearney has led superbly from Jamie Stanton, Jenna Bruton, and Jess Duffin for the ‘Roos. The undoubted game of the round, this one should be a belter between two form sides used to winning.

H2H: North Melbourne 0 | Adelaide 0 | Draws 0
Venue: North Melbourne 0-0-0 | Adelaide 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

FREMANTLE vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, March 3, 6.05pm
Fremantle Oval

Third plays fifth in this Conference A clash between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs, with both sides coming off Round 4 losses. The 3-1 Dockers hold a superior record to the Dogs, and will be looking to breaking the top two of the conference with a win here. The Bulldogs hold the second-worst percentage of the whole competition, but could move up off the bottom of Conference A with four points and results pending. Both sides possess shining lights up forward, with Katie Brennan an established star of the game and leading the competition for contested marks as a link into forward 50 for the Dogs. Meanwhile, Ebony Antonio has been electric for Freo, leading the way in terms of goals and score involvements. In another key comparison, the home side’s hard-nosed midfield duo of Dana Hooker and Kiara Bowers meets the dynamism of Bulldogs pair Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti, with their run and carry a crucial piece of the puzzle this fixture throughs up. Either way, this bout will help give the Conference A ladder some shape, and could prove make or break for the Bulldogs.

H2H: Fremantle 0 | Western Bulldogs 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Fremantle 4-3-0 | Western Bulldogs 0-0-0

Last time they met: Western Bulldogs 7.7 (49) defeated Fremantle 3.5 (23) at Whitten Oval, Round 1, 2018.

For the second consecutive year, the Western Bulldogs were all over Fremantle and had no trouble putting them away at Whitten Oval to start what was going to be a memorable year. Fremantle booted three goals to two in the second half, but it was to no avail as they went down by 26 points. Ellie Blackburn was best on ground with 23 disposals, seven marks, three clearances, three inside 50s and three rebounds, while Emma Kearney ably assisted with 18 touches, six marks, seven clearances, four inside 50s and two rebounds. Katie Brennan slotted three goals in the victory, while Brooke Lochland managed one to go with her 13 touches and six marks. For the Dockers, Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan both had 12 touches but were the only ones into double figures in what was a disappointing game for Dockers fans.

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