SANFL Women’s review: Round 5 – Panthers, Roosters impress with statement wins

FOOTBALL returned to South Australia over the weekend and some of the state’s best footballers returned to the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. North Adelaide and South Adelaide further enhanced their premiership credentials, whilst other now top-four sides, West Adelaide and Norwood won their respective matches as well.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.0 | 0.3 | 1.4 | 3.6 (24)
NORWOOD 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.8 | 7.10 (52)

GOALS:

Central: Rosenzweig 2, Reynolds.
Norwood: Breed 3, Ferrall 3, Lishmund.

ADC BEST:

Central: K. Rosenzweig, A. Butler, S. Allan D. Sonneman, L. Huynh
Norwood: M. Zander, N. Allen, M. Breed, R. McMahon, A. Ferrall

Three-goal hauls to Mattea Breed and Alison Ferrall has seen Norwood secure a solid 26-point victory over Central District in the first return game of the SANFL Women’s competition. The Redlegs were in control for the most part, particularly after a strong first half, but despite the score, the Bulldogs were matching it with their highly fancied opponent. Central District managed to find its range in the second half when they booted three goals, and whilst the Bulldogs were still outscored, showed some really promising signs.

Najwa Allen returned to the Redlegs for the restarted season after winning a league best and fairest with the club a season earlier. It did not take her long to have an impact on proceedings, teaming up well with fellow ball-winning star Matilda Zander in midfield to find plenty of it early. Along with Rebekka McMahon who was slicing up the opposition defensive zone, the trio were among the best on ground in a big first term. The Redlegs booted 2.3 to 0.0 to head into the first break with a 15-point advantage.

They did not have it all their own way however, with reliable defender Demi Sonneman taking a great one-on-one contested mark in the defensive goal square, and the Bulldogs would have been thrilled to have Gemma Doughty back from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury. Doughty made a successful return and had remarkably clean hands off the deck for someone who had missed so much football. The two goals in the term went to Ferrall and Alana Lishmund whose majors in the first half of the quarter made it look like it could be a long day for the Bulldogs.

Instead, after that it was largely tight, with the Bulldogs unlucky not to be a lot closer than the 21-point deficit at half-time. They had a number of chances – particularly late – with the ball camped in Central’s forward 50 for the most part of the quarter. Katelyn Rosenzweig was starting to get going with the ball now in her zone, and she had the first chance of the day with a set shot but it fell short. She scored the Bulldogs first score – a behind – a moment later, and that was followed by behinds to Latiah Huynh and Rosenzweig again. Both were within 20m, with Huynh’s set shot just drifting and Rosenzweig’s snap over her head on the wrong side of the post.

In a cruel blow for all their efforts, Central watched as Norwood ran it down the other end, and after a couple of near misses, Ferrall was paid a free kick at the top of the goalsquare as the siren rang out moments later. She converted her second goal easily and the Redlegs were in control despite not having the majority of the play in their forward half.

The third term opened with a flurry as Breed booted her first major after some scrappy play inside 50, turning around, fending off an opponent and putting it through. She almost had a second moments later, but despite it going through, it was brought back due to a free to Doughty. The Northern Territory talent did not have to wait much longer to add another major to her name however, snapping around her body and getting the favourable bounce to clear the defender on the line.

Central refused to give in though, and continued to pepper the goals when given the opportunity. It took until the ninth minute of the third term for Rosenzweig to slot the Bulldogs’ first, and thanks to Central’s defence holding up – namely the work of Sonneman, Kimberley Fry and Shelby Smith – the Bulldogs did not concede another goal. At three quarter time, Breed had created some separation for her side with the two majors and Norwood held a comfortable 28-point lead.

Zander continued to rack up the touches and have a real influence in the early stages of the last term, but she was not the only returning player to have a say, with Doughty producing a massive run-down tackle at half-back to win the ball. She and another inclusion in Sarah Allan were prominent alongside the already reliable defensive unit, but for all their work, it was Breed who capitalised with a third goal following a free kick straight in front.

Alicia Butler was another player who was starting to really influence the contest and a long clearance inside 50 helped Chantelle Reynolds put boot to ball and dribble towards the line – after a quick fumble – but Rosenzweig finished it off with a sliding effort. Norwood responded not long after with Ferrall’s third after plenty of loose Redlegs were running around and a perfect pass from Zander found her teammate at the top of the square. With Leah Cutting also having a big day out in the ruck, the Redlegs were all but home as the time ticked down.

Reynolds got her name in the goalkicking books with a nice conversion after a free kick thanks to perfect kick placement from Huynh, and it was the last major of the day. Both Rosenzweig and Butler had chances in the dying minutes – Butler’s right before the siren – but the pressure, and in Butler’s case an opposition hand out of a stoppage, saw the chances result in behinds. The siren sounded for the Redlegs to win 7.10 (52) to 3.6 (24) and move into the top four.

STURT 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)
NORTH ADELAIDE 4.1 | 8.6 | 11.6 | 12.11 (83)

GOALS: 

Sturt: A. Brown.
North: K. Barltrop 2, M. McKendrick 2, K. Pope 2, B. Perry 2, C. Castle, A. Woodland, H. Ewings, B. Arthur.

ADC BEST:

Sturt: M. Rigter, H. Prenzler, A. Ballard, G. Bevan, A. Brown
North: A. Hatchard, K. Pope, L. Daniel, L. Tynan, H. Ewings

A remarkable run of 23 scoring shots after conceding the first goal of the game saw North Adelaide Roosters send an ominous warning to the rest of the competition. Whilst it was hard to fault the effort and defensive pressure of a young Sturt outfit, the cleanliness and composure of a Roosters outfit, boosted by the inclusions of several AFL Women’s stars, was evident during the massive 77-point victory on Saturday.

The game started with Sturt setting the tone thanks to a huge Maya Rigter run-down tackle on Leah Tynan to win a free at half-back and stop a certain inside 50. Moving it down the ground, a free kick and subsequent 50m penalty moved Arabella Brown from a tight angle 20m out, to point-blank range which she duly converted. The Double Blues were up by a goal, but little did anyone know, that would end up their only score of the game.

From there, North Adelaide took control, with Adelaide best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard suffering leather poisoning, and dominating the contest. No matter what the opposition threw at her, Hatchard moved around the stoppages with grace and continued to find the ball all over the field. The accuracy with the North Adelaide kicks going forawrd was telling, and it benefited full-forward Kelly Barltrop who marked on a lead 30m out and booted the Roosters’ first of the contest seven minutes into the match.

It started a momentum roll-on with Hatchard bursting out of the middle and booting it long which led to a Mollie McKendrick goal. Lauren Daniel joined Hatchard as one of the prime movers, and despite Sturt saving a goal off the boot of Hatchard, the Roosters midfield was starting to swarm, and fellow AFL Women’s talent Britt Perry marked at the top of the goalsquare and put another home. Shortly after, Cristie Castle added her name to the list with a free kick and subsequent goal from 25m out, mostly thanks to the work by Katelyn Pope who used afterburners to blow away any opponent from trying to catch her.

If the danger signs for Sturt were not there before the break, they were shortly after as the first clearance of the second term saw Hatchard burst away, bomb it long and then Barltrop got goalside to soccer through her second. The next clearance saw young gun Hannah Ewings scoop the ball off the deck with remarkable cleanliness to give it by hand to a running Ashleigh Woodland who saluted from outside 50 with the help of a bounce in the square.

Sturt had its chances as well, getting the ball inside 50, but the work of Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward was suffocating any forward moment for the Double Blues. Holly Temby had a brave run into a contest to stop a North Adelaide switch as the Roosters were attacking, but the ladder leaders recovered and soon got it forward where McKendrick won a free out of the stoppage and kicked truly from 40m to see her side’s third in five minutes. By this stage, North was peppering the goals and arguably could have finished with more.

Arabella Prowse was showing some promising signs throughout the games through the ruck for Sturt, but the midfield of the Roosters was just too strong, and when Pope once again put the afterburners on in the 10th minute of the term, there was no stopping her as she slammed another one home and it was party time. To Sturt’s credit, the pressure applied by the likes of Rigter and young defender Hannah Prenzler coming out of the back half was stopping the flood gates opening. Hatchard had a couple of chances herself, as did fellow inclusion, Tayla Gordon whose shot from 35m out straight in front got touched on the line.

Ewings was getting better as the game went on, showing some serious X-factor with her ability to quick turn out of a stoppage and burst away to kick inside 50. She was then on the end of a Hatchard kick to mark 20m out straight in front and slot another Roosters goal. By the end of the term, Brianna Arthur and Pope had both added goals, with Hatchard still being heavily involved in most plays. Sturt also had a number of chances, but a late free kick to Georgia Bevan saw the co-captain opt to hand off the pass with the flying shot falling short and the siren going not long after.

Facing a 66-point deficit at the final break Sturt wanted to come out with fire in the belly in the second half, and Alex Ballard showed serious intent winning a free kick for going in low and hard to grab the ball at ground level. It set the tone for the rest of the quarter as the Double Blues held the Roosters goalless until the last few minutes when Perry converted a great goal. Ballard, Prenzler and Rigter were all strong right until the end, with Prowse again showing great initiative, even if it could be over zealous at times and giving away free kicks.

Whilst the Roosters arguably could have won by more with inaccuracy plaguing them, the midfield was just too deep to beat, and it will be hard to see North Adelaide losing too many games with the inclusions strengthening an already impressive outfit. For Sturt, there were signs of a promising future with some real standouts, but they were just outclassed by the clever zoning of the Roosters.

WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 4.3 (27)
WWT EAGLES 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 (10) 

GOALS:

West: Z. Venning, S. Thompson, R. Martin, C. Biddell.
WWT: J. Zecevic.

ADC BEST:

West: R. Martin, K. Kustermann, M. Newman, A. Ballard, S. Thompson
WWT: R. Forth, J. Zecevic, T. Maher, G. Smallcombe, A. Blanden

West Adelaide have moved clear in third spot on the SANFL Women’s table with a dour win over Woodville-West Torrens Eagles on Sunday. In what was a low-scoring slog that was predominantly a battle of half-back lines and defensive pressure, the Bloods’ defence was able to hold the Eagles to just one goal from five scoring shots, whilst capitalising on four of seven of their own to win by 17 points.

Rachelle Martin was absolutely sensational for the winners, but she was far from alone, teaming up well with partner-in-crime Abbie Ballard, whilst the defensive work of young gun Keeley Kustermann and the equally slick ball user in Madison Newman ensured the opposition had a tough time scoring. For the the Eagles, it was Renee Forth returning to the competition to be the clear standout in a losing side, and while the Eagles were only five points down at half-time, could not capitalise on their few opportunities after the main break.

The match started with Martin and Ballard immediately having an impact, and Zoe Venning capitalising on the opening goal with a long-range set shot. Forth was working hard back in defence alongside Tesharna Maher, whilst Jovanka Zecevic was having a big say in proceedings early on for the Eagles. The composure of 15-year-old Kustermann to switch at times to open up the opposite side of the ground was impressive. Her quick hands in traffic also stood out in a first term that aside from the goal in the first few minutes, yielded just one behind.

Neither defence refused to give in and clear marks inside 50 were hard to come by. Early in the second it was Ballard who put a perfectly weighted kick into Chelsea Biddell leading out 45m from goal. The pressure from the Eagles ensured that any shot that fell short was rebounded, as Maher showed off second and third efforts to desperately clear the danger zone. The goal drought broke with 2019 AFL Women’s leading goalkicker Stevie-Lee Thompson put one through the big sticks off, whilst her midfield partners were still racking up the touches.

An end-to-end play for the Westies almost resulted in a massive play of the day. It started with Kustermann laying a huge tackle to force her opponent to ground and get a stoppage. Martin won the ball at the stoppage and went for a run around the wing, Zoe Greer received it and put it quickly to Melanie Elsegood‘s advantage who put it deep to Kate Walsh near the square, but the ball slipped through her hands. In typical Eagles fashion, reliable defender Grace Smallcombe wrapped up Walsh to force another stoppage.

A couple of behinds to the Eagles were missed opportunities later in the term, before Zecevic stepped up to pick-pocket her opponent attempting to handball then took a long-range shot which sailed through with just a couple of minutes remaining. The quarter ended with just five points separating the sides and the game well and truly in the balance heading into the second half.

The third term saw Martin pick up where she left off, racking up the ball with ease. Ballard was fierce in the contest and won a free kick for a terrific tackle, whilst Forth was still battling hard coming out of defence and using her skills to advantage. The Bloods were able to use their slick short passing game to advantage and get to half-forward, but the convocation of Eagles ensured that a mark close to goal was incredibly difficult. It took until a free kick to the Bloods and Martin sneaking into a pocket to receive the ball uncontested and slot a major from 20m out to give the home side some breathing room.

One of the plays of the day from Thompson came midway through the quarter when she burst out of the middle, kicked it to half-forward, then followed up with a big tackle to lock the ball up and force a stoppage. With another behind added to the Eagles’ total, they were still down on the scoreboard, but not completely out of it.

The fourth term was the biggest arm-wrestle of the lot, with neither team able to really dent the opposition’s sturdy defence. Kustermann and Newman were class acts at half-back, standing out with their terrific ball use, whilst Martin and Ballard were able to spend time resting forward at intervals. Sensing one goal could just about seal the deal, it took a bit of magic from Biddell, who at a stoppage, gathered, snapped and put it through the middle to all but end the contest.

The Eagles had a chance to add a consolation goal through Amie Blanden who worked her opponent under the ball with great body work, got to the goalsquare, gathered the ball and went to kick it through from point blank range. Unfortunately it hit the side of her boot and cannoned into the post. With just one more behind – to West Adelaide – to end the contest, the Bloods secured an important 17-point win.

GLENELG 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 5.3 (33)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 7.6 (48)

GOALS:

Glenelg: E. Jones 2, E. Marinoff, S. Wilton, S. Moon.
South: J. Kirk 3, N. Gore, T. Meyer, M. Bennett, T. Charlton.

ADC BEST:

Glenelg: E. Jones, C. Gould, D. Varnhagen, E. Marinoff, S. Moon
South: N. Gore, H. Munyard, J. Kirk, T. Meyer, L. Whiteley

FOUR unanswered goals from South Adelaide to end the contest saw the Panthers get up by 15 points over Glenelg in a highly entertaining contest on Sunday. Both sides welcomed back a host of AFL Women’s talent for the contest, and it lived up to all expectations with the likes of Nikki Gore and Hannah Munyard controlling the Panthers’ midfield up against Ebony Marinoff and Deni Varnhagen, whilst Eloise Jones, Caitlin Gould and Lisa Whiteley were among the top players too.

The stacked midfields were on song from the get-go with Munyard having the first meaningful inside 50 of the game courtesy of a trademark sidestep. Her opposition midfielders in Marinoff and Varnhagen were both racking up the touches through the middle as Marinoff’s tackling pressure and Varnhagen’s outside run were swinging the contest in favour of the Bays. It took a special moment from athletic ruck, Soriah Moon to put the first scoring chain together, as she beat her opponent, turned swiftly and still got her kick away as she was tackled, with Grace Duffy getting the handball off to Jones who snapped around her body.

Czenya Cavouras was working hard in the middle for the Panthers, whilst Gore’s speed and defensive pressure was causing Glenelg headaches, producing a massive run-down tackle to win the ball back. Cheyenne Hammond put on the afterburners for South and it led to Jess Kirk winning a free and kicking the Panthers’ first. In what was a see-sawing contest, debutant Tiger Sarah Wilton got involved with Marinoff by finding her inside 50. The Crows star played on and quickly kicked a goal, but was called back and nailed the set shot anyway.

Wilton herself almost put one through from an impossible angle in the pocket, but it was touched on the line, and with the likes of Lauren Buchanan and Whiteley in defence, South managed to keep possession towards the dying moments. Kirk had a chance for her second marking strongly moments before the siren but uncharacteristically missed the set shot from straight in front for a straight-kick deficit at the first break.

Both teams were needing to start off on the right note and it was no surprise to see Marinoff on the front foot with her pressure forcing an opposition turnover and getting it down by a series of handballs to the debutant Wilton who put it straight through the middle and hand her team a 12-point lead. Young gun Panther, Indy Tahau was matching it with Moon in the ruck as a really entertaining duel, whilst Munyard and Gore were teaming up with great success. It would be Kirk who got the Panthers back on track however, being in the right place at the right time to soccer through a bouncing shot on goal from Tahlia Meyer for Kirk’s second of the day.

If Gore was not already considered one of the best-ons at that stage, she soon was with a remarkable goal that came from great defence. Gore won the ball, was intercepted, but a team defence inside 50 forced a turnover with the ball back to the Crows’ midfielder who kicked a terrific running goal to level the scores once again. In response, Marinoff stood up to mark in the pocket 35m out, but her set shot surprisingly fell short. However a huge contested grab and subsequent goal from Jones in the goalsquare saw the young star boot her second to match Kirk and hand the Tigers another lead.

Moon’s work across the ground – including getting back into defence to take a strong mark led to a scoring opportunity involving Jones, Marinoff and Wilton, ending with Gould who had a chance from 40m out but sprayed the set shot. It was a missed opportunity as the Tigers had one last chance and it was fitting that Gould would again be the recipient from a similar distance. This time it was on target, but it landed on the line and was punched through for a behind.

Leading by seven points, Glenelg was still in control of the game and needed an early response. After eight minutes of wrestling for momentum, it was Glenelg, through Moon, who got the all-important goal. Varnhagen’s work in defence had saved an earlier chance, and with Moon’s ruck work getting the ball to her midfielders’ advantage, she was on the end of one from a Jones’ set shot that fell short. Moon earned a free kick at the top of the goalsquare and popped it through. At that stage, Glenelg led by a game-high 13 points and looked in complete control of the game. Little did anyone know, it would be the Tigers’ last score of the day.

It would not be the last the crowd saw of South’s scoring though, with Meyer curling a set shot around the goal and in to almost immediately respond and put the deficit back to seven points. The atmosphere rose for the Panthers, with Gore and Cavouras burying in through the middle, and Munyard doing well on the outside. Nicole Campbell who had been quiet to that point took a massive courageous grab. Unfortunately for South, Courtney Barry had to be carried off after injuring herself in the final minutes of the game. Whilst the Panthers had the last few attacking forays, a terrific intercept contested grab by Gould in the dying seconds ensured the Bays headed into the final term with a six-point advantage.

The final term belonged to South Adelaide, though not without an early Tigers’ fight. Whilst they might not have seemed switched on immediately from the break – the Panthers only fielded 17 players and had to be told to bring another on – they were certainly switched on once the ball was bounced. A big tackle from another star who had been quiet to that point, Teah Charlton, led to a chance on goal, but it ricocheted into the post. It might have been a behind, but the pressure stakes were up.

South Adelaide were starting to swarm in numbers and Munyard had a terrific run off half-back to hit-up Charlton and she in turn got it in the Kirk direction. Whilst the ambitious tap behind the head hoped to get into her teammates’ advantage, Ellie Kellock was the first to the ball, but the pressure was there from the losing side. Soon, the breakthrough goal came and it was fitting that Kirk won a one-on-one marking contest straight in front and converted her third for South’s first lead of the game.

The duo of Gore and Munyard had gone from incredibly good to match-winners as they firmly took control of the middle in the final term as Marinoff and her side began to tire. The final term seemed to be a quarter for those to stand up and take their chances, with Madison Bennett soccering home a goal to much jubilation from her teammates. Moments later the swarming Panthers put through another as Charlton got on the board in what had been a big last quarter for the teenager.

Glenelg had a couple of chances through the quarter, but Whiteley further enhanced her credentials and match performance with a huge last term in defence, intercepting plenty of forward forays, as the reigning premiers ensured they did not let the lead slip. The last play of the day was a terrific pass from Meyer into Kirk who marked on a long lead and had a set shot after the siren. In a bizarre end to the game, Glenelg punched the ball back into play, but as the players walked away to shake hands, the ball rolled through for a behind, meaning the score counted and the Panthers had won by 15 points.

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