NAB League Girls Round 6 preview: The race for finals spots heats up

A BUMPER weekend of NAB League girls football will have onlookers having to choose which games to keep an eye on, with fixtures spread across the state in the 12:45pm timeslot on both Saturday and Sunday. In arguably the game of the round, Bendigo hosts Dandenong for an outcome crucial to their finals aspirations, while some sides will suffer from forced changes on the back of AFL Academy games.

GIPPSLAND POWER v. NORTHERN KNIGHTS

Round 6 – 13/04/2019
12:45pm
Garfield Football Ground

A late fixture change sees Northern Knights travel to Garfield to meet Gippsland Power and open Round 6. After a minor hiccup in the form of a draw against Oakleigh in Round 2, the Knights have hit form once again and rolled on to three-consecutive wins. The travelling side’s depth will be tested though as four of their star players come out of the side due to Academy commitments, but the likes of Jess Fitzgerald and Abigail Bennett should thrive of an extended run in the midfield and deliver well to perennial forward target Nell Morris-Dalton. It has been a much different season for Gippsland, still searching for its first win in season 2019 and coming off a 62-point thumping at the hands of Bendigo. Still, developing talents in the form of Nikia Webber and Chandra Abrahams amongst others continue to show promise in a tough year and should have a good opportunity to shine this week.

OAKLEIGH CHARGERS v. MURRAY BUSHRANGERS

Round 6 – 13/04/2019
12:45pm
Warrawee Park – Oakleigh

Both the Oakleigh Chargers and Murray Bushrangers will be hoping to bounce back from Round 5 losses when they do battle on the metro side’s home turf. After toppling a dangerous Calder side, Oakleigh were upset last week as Sandringham notched its first win for the year, while Murray has suffered consecutive defeats after a big wins over Western and Gippsland in Rounds 2 and 3. With wins on the board for both sides, this will be a tough ask for Oakleigh as it looks to charge back into a top four spot – and can do so if other results go its way. Murray hang on the other side of that chasing pack, and will look to the likes of Millie Brown and Abby Favell to regain their form, while Sophia McCarthy is set to back up her three-goal Round 5 haul. For Oakleigh, Mimi Hill was electric last week, and will be a key player again with Gemma Lagioia one who can build on her Round 5 performance and Alana Porter another in good form. While it will prove a test for the home side, the Charger will be confident of bouncing back onto the winners list here.

BENDIGO PIONEERS v. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Epsom Huntly Reserve – Bendigo

Bendigo Pioneers faces an uphill battle in its push for a finals berth, faced with a Dandenong Stingrays side also poised on 12 premiership points. The Stingrays went down narrowly to the dominant Geelong Falcons last time out, but certainly showed their credentials as a genuine premiership contender with an eye-catching first half. The Pioneers are also staking their claim with three wins from their last four outings, headlined by a standout 62-point drubbing of Gippsland last week. With the sides poised evenly and the race for finals spots heating up, this is shaping to be the game of the round. Brooke Vernon and Zoe Hill have been consistent features for Dandenong thus far, and will have to stand up with Academy prospects Isabella Shannon, Molly McDonald and Tyanna Smith all out this week. The Pioneers managed to keep a relatively steady lineup, with Elizabeth Snell coming off a five-goal haul and Brooke Hards their key ball winner, while Kate Douglass has been immense down back. It will be a good opportunity for Bendigo to prove themselves further, with the home ground advantage in tow.

EASTERN RANGES v. CALDER CANNONS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Bayswater Football Ground

Another exciting match-up with finals ramifications is set to take place on Sunday, with Eastern Ranges playing host to Calder Cannons in Bayswater. Both sides experienced losses over the last couple of weeks, with Calder falling to Oakleigh in Round 4 and Eastern going down to Northern last week. With Calder currently holding the edge over their weekend opponents on four wins as opposed to three, this will prove to be a classic ‘eight-pointer’ in the race for a top four spot. Tarni Brown remains in a weakened Ranges side on the back of Academy selections, with Tess Flintoff another who has recently benefitted from the ruckwork of Serena Gibbs. While Calder faces a similar situation with the loss of Georgia Patrikios, Georgie Prespakis remains alongside Alana Barba in a tight-knit midfield. With plenty on the line, expect these sides to throw everything but the kitchen sink at getting a result here, with either team capable of kicking big scores.

GREATER WESTERN VICTORIA REBELS v. SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Mars Stadium – Ballarat

A second win is up for grabs for both Greater Western Victoria and Sandringham Dragons as they do battle in Ballarat on Sunday. The Rebels have not quite been able to recapture the form that earned them a Round 1 win over Bendigo, since falling in every game coming into this clash on the back of an upset loss to Western. Conversely, the Dragons look to finally be playing themselves into some form after knocking off Oakleigh last week for their first win of the season. Rebels midfield ace Ella Wood will be important in the engine room alongside Chloe Leonard, with Sophie Molan out of the side, while Sandringham will look to Winnie Laing to shoulder most of the midfield load as Alice Burke goes out. With the form of either side differing at this point of the season despite their identical record, the Dragons will be confident of making it two-straight in a tight tussle.

WESTERN JETS v. GEELONG FALCONS

Round 6 – 14/04/2019
12:45pm
Downer Oval – Williamstown

In the round’s last listed fixture, Western Jets faces a tall order in building on last week’s winning effort, as a meeting with the undefeated reigning premiers awaits. The Falcons found themselves behind for the first time in a long time last week against the Stingrays, but rallied in the second half to keep their perfect record in tact. Western will be hoping for more of the same in that respect, as the Jets looked the best they have all year in Round 5 as it overcame GWV for win number one. They will have to do so without the prolific Isabella Grant, leaving a heap of heavy lifting for fellow midfielder Elisabeth Georgostathis. In a testament to their depth, the Falcons will only be without skipper Lucy McEvoy due to Academy duties, with the likes of Luka Lesosky-Hay, Paige Sheppard, and Darcy Moloney able to fill the void in midfield. With the Falcons’ forward line clicking into gear, their defence sturdy as ever, and everything in between up to scratch, it is always hard to look past the undefeated unit in any game.

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