WITH a month to go in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, things are heating up in terms of ladder positions and finals ramifications. Norwood is one win away from consolidating a finals spot this season, although they will not want to rest on their laurels with South Adelaide right behind them with five wins from six games. The Panthers take on the mid-table Glenelg who have dropped three on the trot, while North Adelaide and West Adelaide do battle in a huge game on Saturday.
GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, April 5, 5.40pm
ACH Group Stadium
The opening game of the round kicks off tonight with the red-hot South Adelaide travelling to ACH Group Stadium to face the out-of-form Glenelg. The Tigers started the season on fire with three victories, but the wins have dried up and while the wooden spooners are much improved from their 2018 season, their finals hopes are looking shaky with North Adelaide ready to pounce on their fourth spot. The Panthers had a bit of a shock last week against Central District before putting the foot down and doing what they do best – win by plenty. South will be minus Montana McKinnon who has AFL Women’s Academy duties, while Emily Brockhurst is out after a knee injury in last week’s win. Into the side comes three players to an extended bench, with full-forward Brianna Wedding to fill McKinnon’s role down forward, while Alana Browne and Brooklyn Kraft have been added to the interchange. Last week Mykala Walker-Murphy booted four goals in an imposing effort up forward and it will take something special to stop her, although Glenelg’s Ellen Fauser has been in good form this season and could be the match-up for her. The Tigers have opted to make at least two confirmed changes, with Charlotte Dawe and Laura Isaac back into the midfield, while Hannah Crump adds firepower to attack. The Panthers midfield is incredibly strong with Hannah Munyard, Czenya Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Elyse Haussen all enjoying strong seasons, while Teah Charlton has potency in the forward half. For Glenelg. Lucy Bellinger is capable of doing damage up forward, while Caitlin Gould has been named at full-back having enjoyed her time in the ruck, and the likes of Sam Franson and Madisyn Freeman also contributing throughout the season. It is hard to look past South Adelaide in this game given the respective formlines, but Glenelg improved last week and will hope to take its game to another level in this clash.
STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, April 6, 10.15am
Peter Motley Oval
In a game that probably will not feature too much in finals calculations, but certainly has a lot of pride attached, is the bottom two clash between Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Both sides have had their chances this season showing good form at times within matches, but have not been able to sustain their consistency, winning just one game between them. Sturt took it right up to West Adelaide last week and looked like the Double Blues had turned their losing start to the season around, only for the Bloods to run over the top of them in the second half. If Sturt can maintain that intensity for four quarters, expect them to have a much better chance at the two points in this game. The Eagles looked good early in the season, but have managed just the five goals in the past three weeks with scoring drying up. To counteract this and hope for a change, the visitors have brought in half-forward Bronwyn Davey and centre half-forward Taylor McKay, as well as midfielder, Emily Tromans. Jaimi Tabb misses again due to unavailability, while Adele Gibson is out with a knee injury after going down last week. For Sturt, they have made just the two changes, welcoming back two important players for the match, with Georgia Bevan missing last week’s win due to a wedding, while Alex Ballard adds some youthful exuberance to the team. Sturt are deservedly favourites for this game, with Bevan, Caitlyn Swanson and Maya Rigter a good core midfield, while Nicole Baker and Tess Maple can create opportunities up forawrd. The Eagles have a number of players who can turn games, but rely a lot on Kiana Lee down forward, while Natasha Farrier could be a key to getting scores on the board in this game. Stephanie Walker and Tesharna Maher are other players who have shown they can lead the way when required and the Eagles will need a full team effort in this game to get over the line.
NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 6, 4.15pm
The match of the round is certainly the North Adelaide and West Adelaide clash at Prospect oval. Sitting fifth and third on the table respectively, the sides know what is on the line in this game with the last few weeks of the season ahead. North Adelaide lose two key players with AFL Women’s representatives, Brittany Perry and Ashley Woodland out of the side, while Danielle Nunns and Eva Mitchell are the straight swaps for the Roosters. For West Adelaide, they have made four straight changes for the big clash, as ruck Leah Swain returns to the side, while Jayne Taylah, Alex Czabayski and Scarlett Griffiths all come into the team. There is more than two points on the line in this clash from an individuals perspective, as North Adelaide’s Kelly Barltrop and West Adelaide’s Chelsea Biddell go head-to-head up opposite ends. Barltrop leads the competition goalkicking with 16 goals in six games, while Biddell is just four behind in second with two majors a game this season. Madison Newman (leading the competition in rebounds) and Nadia Von Bertouch are their respective sides’ leading ball winners, with the Bloods ball winner averaging just over 19 per game, while Von Bertouch has led her side from the front, with 17.8 disposals per game. Swain has played just three matches this season for the Bloods, and averages 18 hitouts per game to be second overall in the competition, while Jane Altschwager has been as consistent as anyone in the centre square. With a midfield of Von Bertouch, Paige Allan and Leah Tynan, and a strong rebounder in Amber Ward, North Adelaide have every chance of taking home the points in this clash, however Rebecca Owen, Abbie Ballard and Helen Maidment might have something to say about that as the Bloods hope to keep in touch with the top two.
CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, April 6, 4.15pm
X Convenience Oval
The final game of the round will help Central District measure itself against the premiership favourites. Having won two consecutive games before dropping their past couple, the Bulldogs will hope to get a fast start against the Redlegs in this game. Katelyn Rosenzweig returns to the side in a crucial inclusion against a Norwood team that is reeling from injuries. Along with Rosenzweig, Keely Cannizarro returns to the team in defence, replacing captain Nicola Biagi who misses the clash, while half-back Karissa Searle is also into the team. For Norwood, they seem to have limped into this game with five four changes including three injuries and two unavailabilities. Jo Hill, Cassandra Tsoumbris and Matilda Van Riel will miss through injury, while Kate Fenton and key player Ebony O’Dea will miss the match as well. Despite the wide-scale changes at the ladder leaders, it is hard to see them not controlling this game, with Leah Cutting the number one ruck in the competition, and Hannah Dunn (20.7 disposals per game), Najwa Allen (19.8) and Monique Hollick (17.5) all ranked in the top seven biggest ball winners. Hollick has also been the far and away dominant marker this season, averaging almost seven per game, and 14 more than her nearest rival. One thing Central District do well is clear the ball from defence, and Gemma Doughty and Demi Sonneman are ranked in the top five for rebounds in 2019. It will take a massive effort from the Bulldogs to upstage the Redlegs, but with the high number of chances forcing some adjustability to the Norwood side, and a determined effort with a last chance look at finals potentially on the line, Central District will likely step up and put in a strong effort in this clash.