SANFL Women’s preview: Round 3 – Top of the table clash headlines triple header

A TOP of the table clash between North Adelaide and West Adelaide headlines the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Round 3 this weekend as part of a triple header at Flinders University Stadium. Fellow undefeated side South Adelaide will face Norwood in the final game of the day, with Woodville-West Torrens and Sturt both searching for their first win in the middle game. To open the round, Central District will hope to add another loss to Glenelg’s season, with the Bulldogs also looking to take advantage of the top two sides going at it.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 29, 11.30am
X Convenience Oval

Opening up the third round of action is fifth placed Central District taking on seventh placed Glenelg in what is a crucial game for both clubs. The Bulldogs showed in the opening round against Norwood that they have improved on their inaugural season last year, and while they were taken to town by a rampaging North Adelaide side, will have learnt plenty from that disappointing loss. Heading into this clash, the home side should start as favourites against a Glenelg side yet to make its mark in 2020. For teams battling for a finals spot, this is considered a must-win contest, and one that both clubs no doubt would have marked as a crucial game when the fixture came out. Central will likely jump into the top four with a victory despite the 54-point defeat last week, with the Redlegs who sit fourth, taking on third placed South Adelaide. For Glenelg, a third loss and the season is very quickly slipping away. Last year’s grand finalists North Adelaide had a slow start to 2019, so it is not all lost, but the Tigers need to start picking up the pace and it is worth cutting them some slack as they have played the two most in-form teams in the competition thus far.

Statistically, Glenelg is not all that bad despite the two losses, sitting second overall for hitouts differential (+24), which is area they can exploit the Bulldogs in (-25) who are ranked seventh in the category differential for this season. The Tigers are also third overall for tackles differential with +20, just behind Central (+21). The Bulldogs also have a more predominant kicking style to Glenelg’s mixed style, though the Tigers also have the lowest disposal count of any side this season (339), though the Bulldogs have the lowest differential (-111), which is understandable after last week.

The Bulldogs have lost both Danielle Stewart and Jayme-Lee Sonneman for this clash, while bringing in six players to an extended bench, including Alicia Butler who looks to slot straight into half-back having been recalled for her second game of the season, alongside 19-year-old Keely Cannizzaro. The Bulldogs’ strength this season has been their defence, with the likes of Kimberley Fry (9.5 disposals, 3.5 rebounds) and Demi Sonneman (12.5 disposals, 4.5 rebounds) holding up firmly back there. In her first season at the club, Shelby Smith has been a welcome addition with 15 disposals, 3.5 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.5 clearances and two rebounds per game, working hard through the middle and getting back to support the defenders. Up forward, equal-leading goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig (five goals) showed in Round 1 which she is capable of, and while she only managed the one goal last week, is always a headache for opposition defenders. The only concern will be the fact that Rosenzweig has booted five of the club’s six goals this season, so finding more avenues to goal is key.

Looking at the Tigers, they had plenty of scoring options in Round 1, but wasted them with a 2.10 scoreline against the ladder leaders. They then were completely restricted with just 1.2 in Round 2 against the Bloods, so have technically only booted the three goals this season. Glenelg has brought in a couple of players for their debuts in Lauren Kenny and Brooke Tonon with the latter representing South Australia at Under 16s level last season and is highly touted. The only forced change is the loss of Tasja Batzavalis due to concussion, while bringing in three others, including Tess Morcom back into the middle and Jessica Searle straight to full-back. Sam Franson is the X-factor up forward, with the 20-year-old averaging 10 disposals and laying a massive 6.5 tackles per game, while in defence, Madisyn Freeman has averaging 10.5 disposals, 2.5 tackles and 3.0 clearances.

In order to win this clash, Glenelg must make the most of its chances, while Central Districts must win the midfield battle and restrict Glenelg’s chances of scoring, while getting it forward as often as possible. This should be a thrilling contest with everything on the line.

MATCH OF THE ROUND:

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 29, 3.45pm
Flinders University Stadium

The first match of a bumper triple header at Flinders University Stadium tomorrow pits first and second against each other in what should be the match of the round. With third placed South Adelaide onlooking ahead of its own clash, the loser knows it will likely drop to third, though it is not the end of the world given these two have established themselves as genuine contenders, albeit early in the season. North Adelaide was somewhat fortunate in the opening round to get over the line by four goals against a wayward Glenelg, making the most of its chances with 7.4 to 2.10, before ironing out any cobwebs in the second round with a nine-goal smashing of Central District. West Adelaide looked more convincing in its opening game with a 21-point victory over Sturt, before handing out a 40-point beating of the Tigers in Round 2. Realistically it should have been even more with the Bloods booting 6.12, which is something they simply cannot afford to do here. The winner places themselves in a really good position almost a third of the way through the season in what is ultimately a short season. Both these line-ups have star players and this is anticipated to be an absolute beauty.

Statistically speaking, these sides are ranked top two for disposals, and second and third respectively for disposal differential, as the Roosters have a massive +76 in the category. They love playing a possession style of game, and both are more than comfortable using a handball-style or kick-first mentality. The Roosters are also ranked third in inside 50s differentials with +16, while West Adelaide is marginally ahead with +20. Despite winning both its games comfortably, the Roosters back six deserves credit with only a -2 differential, which ranks them fifth overall. The Bloods on the other hand have just 22 rebounds for the season – the lowest of any side, with the second worst differential. In saying that, they do not allow it to get in there, with a dominant clearance game that has them miles ahead of the competition with a +28 differential in clearances, despite a surprising -29 in hitouts. In other words, the Bloods have been sharking their opposition ruck taps, and doing it so effectively. The midfield is where they can take advantage, whereas the Roosters are happy to build up from the back six and with so many scoring options inside 50, they can cause some damage to a West Adelaide defence that is yet to have a serious threat placed on it.

North Adelaide has made three three changes to its side for Round 3, welcoming in Erica Greet, Mollie McKendrick and Katelyn Pope, with Greet playing her first game of the season, basketballer McKendrick her first with the club, and Pope recalled after playing in Round 1 against Glenelg. Having already mentioned how strong the North Adelaide defence is, the Roosters will be prepared for West Adelaide to win its fair share of inside 50s off a high volume of clearances. Kristi Harvey (9.5 disposals, 2.0 marks and 4.5 rebounds) and Amber Ward (12.5 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3.5 tackles and 2.0 rebounds) have been superb as key defensive posts in the back 50, while Lauren Gauci had an outstanding game in the Roosters win over Central, picking up 21 disposals, six marks (two contested), two clearances and three rebounds in just her second career game at the level. Up forward, Kelly Barltrop is yet to really stamp her authority on the competition after her leading goalkicker award last year, but it is a positive that the Roosters have had plenty of contributors, with Ashleigh Woodland (four goals) and Kathryn Reynolds (three) both having strong starts to the year. Woodland in particular is a damaging player, averaging 14 disposals at 79 per cent efficiency, while booting 4.2 from 19 touches and five marks last week in an outstanding performance. Cristie Castle could well be leading the Roosters’ best and fairest at this stage, with the 29-year-old averaging 19 disposals, 5.5 marks, 2.5 clearances, 2.5 inside 50s, 2.0 tackles and 1.0 goals per game. It will be up to the likes of Leah Tynan (12.5 disposals, 3.0 clearances) and Lauren Daniel (18.5 disposals, 4.0 clearances) to try and quell the influence of the West Adelaide midfielders.

West Adelaide has brought in three players to an extended bench, losing Kasia Culhane to injury, which will be a blow after the forward booted three goals in the first two rounds and looked a lively forward inside 50. Into the side comes Lauren Rodato, Nicole Hooper and Rachael Killian, with Rodato recalled after playing Round 1, and Hooper and Killian playing their first matches since 2018 – if selected. Rodato has been named at centre half-back to support the work of Keeley Kustermann (14.5 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency) who has been reliable as ever in the back 50, despite the Bloods having the lowest amount of rebounds. The reason for that is the work of Rachelle Martin, Abbie Ballard and Zoe Venning who have formed a remarkable midfield trio. Martin has averaged 18 disposals, 5.0 clearances, 7.5 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s per game and while her disposal efficiency could improve (53 per cent), most of her work is done at the coalface which allows her teammates to run the ball forward. She was one of a number of players who really could have had a day out last week, booting three behinds to go with 21 touches, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ballard is leading all-comers when it comes to disposals, averaging 21 per game thanks to her 27 touches in Round 1. Like Martin, she is a contested ball winner who can spread to the outside, averaging 3.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 5.5 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s per game. Venning – who is remarkably only 16-years-old but in her second season at West Adelaide is slightly below the others on volume, but has the highest disposal efficiency from her 15 touches, 3.5 marks, 3.0 tackles, 2.5 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s. Importantly, she also hits the scoreboard, averaging a goal a game thus far this season. Speaking of hitting the scoreboard, Melanie Elsegood is the equal leading goalkicker with five goals from her two marches, making the most of her 7.5-disposal, 2.5-mark averages.

There is a reason this is match of the round. You have the best clearance side up against the dominant scoring team which means both sides are going to be tested in ways they are yet to be tested. If the Bloods can continue to dominate the clearances, then their high volume of inside 50s will undoubtedly lead to a high score, though if North Adelaide can get on top, then they will cause all sorts of problems for the West Adelaide defence, which will have its first big test of the season in this game.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. STURT
Saturday, February 29, 5.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

After a blockbuster top of the table clash, two sides looking to get on the board in season 2020 go at it from 5.30pm. Woodville-West Torrens is yet to win in the SANFL Women’s since joining the competition 12 months ago. The Eagles have come close on a number of occasions, including last week where they led by as much as 19 points against Norwood before suffering a one-point defeat due to a goal in the last minute to help the Redlegs get over the line. In Round 1, they also led South Adelaide for portions of the game, only to fall short by less than a kick, and if form is any indicator to go by, then this should be the time they break the drought. Sturt sits on the bottom of the table having booted just three goals for the season, going down to West Adelaide by 21 points in Round 1, before being handed a 34-point defeat at the hands of the Panthers last week. That could have been a lot worse given South Adelaide booted 5.13 for the game, but in short, Sturt will need to lift for this contest. Similar to the opening game of this round, both these sides would have identified at the start of the season for this game to be a must-win against an opponent it is capable of beating. The winner of this match gets back on track in season 2020, while the loser will be at least two games outside the top four and having to play catch-up which is not ideal in such a short season.

Statistically the Eagles are better off, and are far and away the standout tackling team of the competition. They have laid a whopping 166 tackles this season, with 79 and 87 respectively each round to be the number one side both weeks. Their defensive pressure is not in question, though their handball game can sometimes get them unstuck. They have the lowest kick-to-handball ratio at just 1.42, which compared to the top team in that category (Central) which has 3.3, it shows the Eagles look to move the ball quickly by hand. Depending on the execution this can be a huge advantage, but also hurt going the other way, with the Eagles also only taking the 37 marks – the lowest of any side this season – while Sturt is third overall with 90, and has the second highest differential of +40. It is clear that this game will be a battle between two different styles, with Sturt looking to get to the outside and work their way inside 50 with calculated movement, while the Eagles will use a handball-style game to get it going in quick transition. Sturt’s big deficiency is giving its forwards best chance to score with a competition-low clearance count (31) and inside 50s count (23) with the lowest differential in both stats following a -25 and -33 respectively. This is an area they will no doubt focus on for this game, while the Double Blues defence to their credit has held up with a competition-high differential of +24 in rebounds.

Woodville-West Torrens have made three confirmed changes, with the loss of Adele Gibson due to a knee injury disappointing, and former West Adelaide captain Alison Evans brought in up forward to replace her in the front half having played in the narrow Round 1 loss. They have also brought in the exciting Jaida Tabb, the 15-year-old younger sister of Eagles and AFL Womens’ player Jaimi (13.5 disposals, 7.5 tackles, 3.5 inside 50s and 2.0 rebounds), with the latter named at full-forward to try and mix up the forward half. She will team up with fellow South Australian representative at last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, with Kiana Lee leading the way in terms of scoring for the Eagles, booting three first half goals last week after surprisingly going goalless in round 1. When up and about, Lee knows how to fly for her marks, taking a massive six contested grabs from seven marks this season. While the Eagles have the scoring options, their defenders deserve credit as well, with Jovanka Zecevic (10 disposals, 5.0 tackles) and teenagers, Tesharna Maher (11 disposals at 77 per cent efficiency, and five rebounds) and Jamie Parish (six disposals, three marks) all holding up the back six. Former Adelaide AFL Women’s ruck, Rhiannon Metcalfe played her first game last week and will be better for the run, building into the game and could try and quell the influence of Sturt’s top three ruck ranked division.

The Double Blues have tried to keep as much stability as possible and not panic despite back-to-back losses, as Hannah Dreckow is the sole out for the last placed side, bringing in 18-year-old debutant Arabella Brown, as well as Cherie Bamford and Alysha Healy. Sturt has some serious top-end talent, but it is just about bringing through the next tier of players and continuing the development of the young players running around in the Double Blue. Co-captains, Georgia Bevan (19 disposals, 2.5 marks, 8.0 tackles, 2.0 clearances, 2.0 inside 50s and 3.0 rebounds) and Maya Rigter (15 disposals, 4.5 marks, 9.0 tackles, 2.5 clearances and 2.0 rebounds) running at 82 and 87 per cent efficiency respectively have been the top two players for Sturt, while Hannah Prenzler (13.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.0 tackles and 3.0 rebounds) has been one of the top defenders in a side that has tried to hold up against some fierce attacking movement of top three sides. Sturt just has to find a way to score more, with the defensive set up and midfield duo a tick, and some young talent coming through. Zoe Prowse and Isobel Kuiper are a couple of teenagers who are the next young stars for Sturt, with the 16-year-old Prowse already entrenched as a ruck who can rest forward, while 17-year-old Kuiper has been playing through the middle and averaging five tackles per game to go with her 10 touches.

This game should be a close one with Woodville-West Torrens showing greater signs so far this season, but Sturt have some of the top players who could lift the Double Blues over the line. If the Eagles can get it forward and work it well down the ground with their ball movement to unsettle the Sturt defence it will help, while the Double Blues will look to get it long and try and force the attacking defenders of the Eagles to double think their decisions out of the back 50.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, February 29, 7.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The final game of the round pits two SANFL Women’s heavyweights against each other with inaugural premiers, Norwood going up against recent back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide. The Panthers had the Redlegs’ measure last season, going on to win the flag from second as Norwood tumbled out in straight sets, but both these sides have changed a fair amount since last season. Based on the opening first two rounds, the Panthers have made do by winning both their games, while Norwood has struggled to adapt with a completely new midfield group. To the Redlegs credit though, they came back from 19 points down to win against Woodville-West Torrens last week, largely thanks to three goals from Jo Hill. They cannot afford to drop that far behind against South Adelaide however, though the Panthers too had to come from behind to beat the Eagles back in Round 1, before a much more comfortable win over Sturt last week.

Looking at the stats, South Adelaide is a possession-style team ranked first in both disposal (+97) and kicking (+47) differentials for season 2020 thus far. They also have the most inside 50s of any side (63) and highest differential in that stat (+28). Ranked second overall for handball differential (+50), by sheer weight of numbers they have the most handballs of any side as well, which shows they can use the ball down the field in multiple ways. The Panthers’ defence has the lowest rebound differential of any side (-19), but that comes as no surprise seeing as how often the ball has spent time up the other end of the field. In Round 1, South Adelaide had just nine rebounds against Woodville-West Torrens, but the Eagles were unable to capitalise in that game. What makes Norwood good is the Redlegs’ outside game, with the highest marking differential of any side (+47), well ahead of South Adelaide’s (+5). They also lead the way in hitouts with 30 per game (+29 differential) thanks to the work of Leah Cutting. Defensively, Norwood has been out-pressured by its opposition, with the second lowest tackle count, but more damning is the lowest tackle differential of -52. South Adelaide is the second worst with -20, but only had four less than Sturt last week, whereas in Round 1, Norwood was -17 against Central District. Both sides were well out-tackled by the number one tackling side in the Eagles.

The Panthers have been forced to make at least two changes, with Annabel Gordon and Callie Wilson (both ankle injuries) out of the game among four confirmed outs. Into the side comes six players to an extended bench, with Chloe Jacobs named to make her debut for South Adelaide. The biggest inclusion is Madison Bennett who slots straight into a front six that is already incredibly potent after the 20-year-old was recalled for Round 3. With Cutting’s dominance in the ruck, it will be a great test for young gun, Montana McKinnon to step up again and continue her wonderful form this season with the 18-year-old averaging 16.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 3.5 clearances, 6.0 inside 50s and 2.5 tackles per game. Accumulating the ball like a midfielder, McKinnon can also go forward and provide a tall target, with top draft prospect Teah Charlton (19 disposals at 87 per cent efficiency, 5.5 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 4.0 inside 50s) also in the forward half and capable of the incredible. In the midfield, Czenya Cavouras (17.5 disposals, 6.5 tackles and 4.5 clearances) and Tahlia Meyer (15 disposals, 2.5 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s) are natural ball winners, with Indy Tahau (15 disposals, 4.5 clearances, 3.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s and 2.0 marks) and Elyse Haylock (18 disposals, five tackles) – who played her first game of the season last week – forming a really dangerous onball combination.

Norwood has made four chances to its winning side last week, still trying to find the right mix to build on its performance. Despite having plenty of improvement left in them, the Redlegs have been able to stabilise their season thus far with a 1-1 record. Thrown up either end, Michele Reid has been named in the forward pocket for the match, while Ella Murison comes into the back pocket. Both players are versatile, with the 38-year-old Reid playing a defensive role in the first round, and has been called up for a different spot in Round 3, while Murison was the opposite with a couple of inside 50s against the Bulldogs in Round 1, but now named deep in defence. Cutting has been a huge influence in the midfield with a competition-high 20.5 hitouts to go with 10 disposals, 3.5 marks and 6.0 tackles per game.  She has been working well with the likes of Bella Smith (10 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 4.5 inside 50s) and Matilda Zander (17.5 disposals, 4.0 marks, 3.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 clearances) through midfield, while Mattea Breed (17.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s and 3.5 clearances) really shone in Round 2, and has been roaming up the ground at half-forward clunking some strong marks and leading the way. Sophie Armitstead (14 disposals, 3.5 clearances and 3.0 tackles) is another player who has enjoyed a solid season thus far, and it is expected once Norwood can adjust to its new line-up in season 2020, it will be a threat to any side.

South Adelaide deserve to be favourites in this clash, but Norwood has steadily improved. While the Panthers are more of a running possession side than a tackling one, they would see that defensive pressure has unsettled the Redlegs at times, though Norwood has been a dominant team in the ruck duels and also capable of kicking goals quickly. Neither side can afford to switch off during this game if they are to be triumphant.

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *