A TOP against bottom clash on Saturday is followed by a Super Sunday with three back-to-back games at ACH Group Stadium as Round 8 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) takes place.
NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, July 18, 3.50pm
A couple of crucial injuries to both North Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens have forced changes at the selection table as AFL Women’s players, Talia Radan (North) and Jess Sedunary (Eagles) are out of the clash. The Roosters regain important defender Lauren Gauci as both teams go with extended benches for the standalone women’s clash at Prospect Oval. It will take a monumental effort from the Eagles to topple the Roosters who have shone this season and are the clear team to beat in season 2020. They are by far the highest scoring team in the competition, with a ridiculous average of 52 points a game, whilst only conceding a competition low 17.3 points per game. The Eagles are the best defensive side outside the clear three standout teams, and have been capable of generating scores at times, though coming up the benchmark in the competition, it will be tough.
Anne Hatchard leads a Roosters midfield that has plenty of depth with the X-factor of Hannah Ewings, the speed of Katelyn Pope and the smarts of Lauren Daniel working through there. A couple of defensive rocks in Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey make it difficult to win one-on-ones in the Roosters back 50, while there are no shortage of goalkickers up front with Kelly Barltrop the main target, and the likes of Britt Perry and Katelyn Reynolds (both two goals last week), and Cristie Castle able to generate scores. The Eagles have some young talent through the list, with Tesharna Maher one who can catch the eye with her line-breaking ability, while Charlotte Dolan has strung together some good form of late. Amie Blanden has been a consistent forward, while Jovanka Zecevic has covered so much ground in 2020. It is fair to say the Roosters will be red-hot favourites in this clash, but stranger things have happened in footy.
STURT vs. NORWOOD
Sunday, July 19, 10.10am
ACH Group Stadium
A massive Super Sunday at ACH Group Stadium begins just after 10am when the Double Blues take on the Redlegs in a must-win clash for both sides. If the top four sides win again this round, then the finals will be done and dusted with a five-point gap between fourth and fifth, and in particular lock in year another finals series for Norwood. The inaugural premiers and then unlucky the past two years at the pointy end of the season, the Redlegs have undergone a fair bit of change in 2020, but a number of young guns have emerged and really stepped up at senior level. They have won three, lost three and drawn o in that time, but the issue is they are sixth for scores conceded, with only Central District and Sturt conceding more this season. The Double Blues unfortunately have the least points more and most points against this season. If they can cause an upset here, then final are far from done and dusted, though with North next week it makes it tough.
Norwood’s key talls who can play up either end in young guns, Mattea Breed and Bella Smith control the airways clunking some strong contested marks and providing that extra strength and smarts when reading the ball in flight. They lost Monique Hollick early last week to injury so were one down for the most of the contest against the top placed Roosters. The Redlegs were competitive and take confidence out of that game, they just faded away in the second half. Leah Cutting‘s battle with Zoe Prowse will be massive as the best ruck in the competition goes up against the best young ruck in the competition. Cutting has great body positioning and smarts, while Prowse has the athleticism that can worry opponents.
The midfield battle is just as intense, as Norwood have Najwa Allen, Matilda Zander and Jess Macolino of whom the latter is in some ripping form of late, while Isabel Martin can also pop up and have an impact in the forward half. Sturt looks to its co-captains in Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter, with Isobel Kuiper also a mainstay in there. The youth of the Double Blues is superb and they are trying everything to manufacture scores including throwing Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard forward to join Georgia Swan down there, while Elsie Dawes has been impressive of late in the back half. Sturt must win this clash, but to do so, they must find a way to score, and the average of 15 points per game the Double Blues score will likely not cut it, so Norwood head in as strong favourites.
CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 19, 11.55am
ACH Group Stadium
The middle game at ACH Group Stadium is a third against sixth where it is effectively the last chance for Central District – like the other bottom four sides – to roll the dice and try and secure a finals spot. West Adelaide have that finals spot – barring a complete capitulation, losing all three games and one of the other sides winning all three – but they would still like to put an exclamation mark on their season with a win here. If they win, finals are assured as they will sit at least game and a half – and likely two games and a half – ahead of the bottom five. The Bloods are still in contention of a top two spot if Glenelg can upset South Adelaide and they face the Panthers in the final round of the season. For the Bulldogs, they need a win and need Norwood to lose, but even if the Redlegs do not, finals are not completely out of reach. But it makes life tough as Central would need to find a way to defeat the top two sides – North and South – in the final two weeks, while hoping Norwood lose both its games. Central has a rough fixture to finish the year, and it will be a great test to see where it sits as it comes to the end of its second season.
The Bulldogs have only had to make the one chance with Gemma Doughty returning and replacing Chantel Reynolds who was impressive last week. Doughty will give the Bulldogs some great run off half-back, with their defence holding up well this season. Demi Sonneman is the rock at full-back, and Nicola Biagi has provided extra support there since returning. Last week was about their scoring power, as they piled on a team-high record score of 44, and will need to muster something similar again. Katelyn Rosenzweig is the player that makes things happen in the forward half, booting three goals and providing a presence to set up opportunities for her teammates. However the likes of Latiah Huynh, Shannon Murphy and Amber James up there have been able to hit the scoreboard in the last couple of weeks and just provide that support that was lacking prior to the break. Shelby Smith will have a massive role along withe Lauren Smith and Alicia Butler in trying to quell West Adelaide’s midfield.
The Bloods have Rachelle Martin, Abbie Ballard and Zoe Greer in there who are just sensational, while Kate Walsh has great strength in the ruck and her battle with Sarah Allan will be huge. The Westies’ half-back line of captain Lauren Rodato, and elite kicks Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann is A-grade, and their forward line is the best in the competition. Stevie-Lee Thompson, Chelsea Biddell and Kasia Culhane to name a few are so damaging, but it will be up to the Bulldogs’ defence to try and quell them. The Bulldogs will be helped by the absence of Melanie Elsegood who is out injured in this game, though there are plenty of targets inside that forward 50. West Adelaide is a real roughie for the flag so the Bloods have earned favouritism, but Central is an impressive outfit that keeps getting better each week and are not afraid to take the game on.
GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 19, 1.40pm
ACH Group Stadium
In a rematch from a few weeks earlier, the Tigers try and have another crack at reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide in the final game of the round on Sunday. They have brought back a number of players including ruck talent, Soriah Moon, while the Panthers have a couple of handy ins among four with Elyse Haylock and Brooklyn Kraft both returning as well. In the first round back post-lockdown, Glenelg pushed South all the way for three quarters until three goals to zero in the last term handed the Panthers a 15-point lead. It was at the very ACH Group Stadium where the Tigers almost caused an early upset in what was one of the games of the season. Now to have a hope of making finals, they must win here and indeed their final two games against Eagles and Norwood to make finals. In many ways, this is almost like a virtual elimination final for the Bays, because if they win, they go fourth favourites overall, with Norwood having to play West Adelaide next week. It means the Tigers could overtake them heading into the team’s final round clash, but a loss here and a likely win to Norwood means the Tigers’ finals dreams are dashed. South are into finals, and are hoping North can slip up at some point, but will enjoy heading into the post-season series as underdogs. Though they would not want to get too complacent and drop a couple of games in the run home and potentially slip to third, missing out on that double chance.
Much like the first time these teams played, the midfield battle will be fascinating. They both have star power in there, with Ebony Marinoff leading the charge for Glenelg alongside another AFL Women’s talent in Deni Varnhagen, while Tessa Kohn has been named back on a wing after playing forward the last few weeks. South has that dominant combination of Nikki Gore, Czenya Cavouras and Hannah Munyard through there, as well as Nicole Campbell who can have a real influence. Throw in the young guns of Teah Charlton popping up for crucial goals, and Indy Tahau working hard through the ruck, and they have the youth to match the experience.
Glenelg has some talented young players scattered around the ground as well with Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon both exciting players, while the likes of Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould straight the Bays up and capable of playing up either end and providing height. South’s defence is a real team defence and they work together well, with Samantha Pratt and Lauren Buchanan always working it well out of the back 50. Glenelg has the capability of putting up a big total – as do South – but the Panthers are often more defence-first and make life difficult for the opposition. The Panthers won the first time and they just seem to do that – grinding out wins even when there have been patches that go against them – so expect them to be the favourites, but when a team is backs-against-the-wall like Glenelg, anything can happen and they made it happen last year by scraping into finals with a massive final few rounds to the year.