THE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Finals Series has been determined a couple of weeks out from it commencing following the completion of Round 9. Norwood locked up the final spot in the top four by defeating West Adelaide, ensuring those teams face off in the elimination final in a couple of weeks, while North Adelaide and South Adelaide are bound for the qualifying final.
CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.4 | 2.8 (20)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 3.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 9.5 (59)
Central: R. Richardson 2.
South: H. Munyard 2, S. Peters, M. Bennett, C. Ross, T. Meyer, I. Tahau, G. Schirmer, N. Campbell.
Central: S. Smith, S. Allan, D. Sonneman, L. Breguet, A. Butler
South: H. Munyard, G. Schirmer, L. Whiteley, T. Charlton, M. Bennett
The reigning premiers were more polished and efficient, but ignoring the final margin, this match was an entertaining battle from start to finish. South Adelaide got the chocolates by 39 points, but if Central District had just finished off the terrific work up the ground by capitalising on more chances in front of goal, this would have been a much tighter contest.
In what would be a sign of things to come for the match, Central District controlled the midfield in the opening half, yet it was the Panthers who would burst out of the blocks kicking the opening four goals of the match. Sienna Peters was the first one on the board after Gypsy Schirmer showed great burst to win the ball at speed and pump it forward for Peters to read it well off the bounce, turn and goal in the opening few minutes. The defence led by Lisa Whiteley and Lauren Buchanan was on song, and despite the inside 50s coming frequent in the opening half, they stood up, limiting the Bulldogs to just one behind in the opening term.
Hannah Munyard provided an early highlight in what would be a game to remember from the teenager, spinning out of an opponents’ grasp to take a few bounces and handball over the top to Madison Bennett in the square to pop through a second major. Both Munyard and Bennett would have chances not long after but missed, though Caitlin Ross would make the most of an errant handball out of a pack to snap around her body for a goal.
When the switched on Munyard pounced on a loose ball close to the boundary line everyone else thought was going out, the Western Bulldogs AFL Women’s player sped off, caught the defence napping and snapped it around the goal post to hand her side a four-goal lead. As frustrating as it would have been for the Central box to see the midfield controlling play but not getting scoreboard reward, they were soon able to celebrate following a neat passage of play out of the middle got to Katelyn Rosenzweig who bombed it long for birthday girl Renai Richardson to run onto and put through from point blank range.
Five minutes later Richardson made it a double after Smith handballed out of a pack at half-forward to set up a scoring chain to Richardson who marked one-on-one and converted her second major. A lot of Central’s young players were starting to have an impact, and the likes of Zoe Perry and Madison Lane were having some good moments. Now back within a manageable margin, Central was getting reward for effort. South tried to hit back late in the term, with Tahlia Meyer winning some important touches at half-forward, with a late chance to Schirmer missing leaving the half-time margin at 13 points.
The third term was where South weathered the Central storm and just pulled away for some breathing space at the final break, as the shared load in front of goal for the Panthers continued. Indy Tahau almost snapped a perfect goal out of nothing thanks to fellow AFL Women’s Academy player Teah Charlton‘s smart thinking to not take possession and punch it to Tahau 30m out from goal, but the ball was deemed touched off the boot. Instead the pair would team up again soon, this time with Charlton giving it off to Meyer who got it in the Tahau direction to snap to the square and bounce home with no interruptions. The goal came moments after Meyer had done a similar thing in play with a quick boot to ball scenario.
Allan and Smith were working hard teaming up in midfield, and it seemed a set play for a Bulldogs player to handball to the running Allan to kick deep, while Rosenzweig was marking most things that came her way. Unfortunately her usually reliable accuracy did not match her hands as she kicked multiple behinds in the match and South went 25 points up at the final break.
The floodgates opened early in the final term as South piled on three goals in eight minutes, with Schirmer, Campbell and then Munyard’s second all helping the Panthers build some good percentage coming out of the game. Indeed Munyard was superb for the Panthers in a standout best on ground performance, while the likes of Schirmer, Tahau, Whiteley and Buchanan were all strong. Central’s Smith and Allan stood out, and Rosenzweig could have had a handful had she kicked straight, though the defence of Sonneman, and cameos from Lane and Latiah Huynh around the ground were good. The Bulldogs had a number of chances in the final term but could not put it through, as South enjoyed a 39-point win.
NORWOOD 2.1 | 2.4 | 2.7 | 4.9 (33)
WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
Norwood: T. Hankinson 2, A. Lischmund, M. Zander.
West: S. Lee-Thompson, R. Killian, C. Biddell.
Norwood: J. Macolino, N. Allen, M. Zander, M. Breed, T. Hankinson
West: S. Thompson, L. Rodato, N. Davis, R. Martin, M. Newman
Norwood became the last piece in the SANFL Women’s finals series puzzle after toppling West Adelaide in a four-quarter armwrestle. The third placed Bloods were not out of the race for second heading into the game, though had secured a finals spot last week, but now will certainly play Norwood in the elimination final after the Redlegs won 4.9 (33) to 3.4 (22). It also ended any chance Glenelg had of playing finals, with the Bays playing later in the day and facing Norwood in the final round in what could have been a virtual elimination final. Instead, Norwood gained a vital advantage ahead of the two teams facing off again in a fortnight.
It is fair to say the game was not one for the highlight reel, though it was not without tension and drama as neither side would give an inch. With a total of four goals kicked in three quarters, it became more about capitalising one chances when presented with them. The first term masked what would be a low-scoring match when Redlegs captain Alison Ferrall got it to Najwa Allen in the pocket who centred it to Tessa Hankinson. She marked in the goalsquare and truly delivered from point-blank range to give her side the lead early in the game. Rachelle Martin had started strong for the Westies, while Mattea Breed was getting busy in the midfield for the Redlegs.
After not much in the way of goals for the first half of the term, it took some terrific work from half-back and a team effort for West Adelaide to rush it down and Chelsea Biddell mark at half-forward. She spotted Stevie-Lee Thompson one-on-one alone inside 50 and put it to her advantage running back with the 2019 AFL Women’s leading goalkicker making good on her chance to put it home with five and a half minutes to spare in the term. With the game neck-and-neck, a costly high tackle on Alana Lischmund 30m out from goal in the last minute proved the difference between the sides with the Redlegs forward converting and handing her team a six-point lead at the first break.
The second term was a bizarre one, and a quarter that looked to be goalless right up until the last 10 seconds of the game when Madison Newman – who had been a little errant with her usual elite kicks – found Thompson at half-forward who got it deep to Rachael Killian to run onto and put it through moments before the half-time siren to draw within two points. Whilst the scoring had been rare, there were some huge individual efforts in the quarter, with Norwood’s Jess Macolino and Breed among the top performers, while Matilda Zander and Jade Halfpenny had some nice moments with their hands in close. Lauren Rodato and Niamh Davis were rocks in the back half for the Westies however, and Thompson and Chelsea Biddell were providing the presence through the middle third of the ground.
Opening the third term, West Adelaide started a player short with Abby Hardwick running on after the Bloods realised, and caused a moment of confusion with the umpires. Once the game got going, the defences came to the fore, as neither team could capitalise. Both teams had chances, but in the end it was Norwood that extended its lead with three behinds to one. Keeley Kustermann was solid off half-back with Newman getting better and better, while ruck Kate Walsh had a big term for the Westies. Breed continued her good form in the game as Macolino went from strength to strength, and Allen and Zander continued to press hard through the middle. A contested mark by Biddell on the wing, and a couple of quick kicks on goal by Zander missed, but Norwood was looking the more damaging of the sides.
With finals on the line for Norwood, and potentially a top two spot in the works for West Adelaide, the last quarter meant a lot to both sides. Straight away Norwood took control with Allen winning the ball on the wing, taking three bounces and slicing up the defence to centre the ball into Zander 25m out on a slight angle. She tugged it to the left, which was fortuitously marked by Halfpenny close to the behind post. The youngster decided to give Zander a second shot on goal instead of trying to snap with the number one Redleg marking in space yet again. Her behind to the left marked Norwood’s seventh straight miss which could have proved costly.
West Adelaide’s defence was holding up well, but the Redlegs kept forcing it forward. Zander continued to get busier and put it to Lischmund’s advantage but her soccer off the ground hit the behind post. Moments later though, Zander managed to snap from congestion and it bounced through to give her side a crucial 11-point lead just over five minutes played. The celebrations did not last long though, because the deficit sparked the Westies into action. The next centre clearance worked its way to Thompson at half-forward who hit-up Biddell. Her subsequent free kick saw her nail a set shot goal and put the deficit back to five points. Not long after, Ferrall had a chance up the other end to extend the lead but missed.
Through the middle of the ground both Zander and Martin were applying fierce pressure, as Martin laid a couple of massive tackles to stop opponents in their tracks. In what was the most bizarre moment of the game that proved fatal to the Bloods’ chances, Hankinson won a free kick for Norwood near the behind post with four minutes left on the clock. Her set shot should have been tucked up against the line, but instead her opponent ran to stand on the line with teammates and a surprise Hankinson played on with no pressure and easily put it through from 10m out to all but seal the game. Biddell had another late chance with two minutes left on the clock but was rushed through on the line and the siren sounded not long after for the Redlegs to finally celebrate and enjoy another finals appearance with a week to spare in the regular season.
NORTH ADELAIDE 6.1 | 8.4 | 10.9 | 14.4 (88)
STURT 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.5 | 0.6 (6)
North: C. Taylor 2, K. Pope 2, E. Greet 2, A. Hatchard 2, A. Woodland 2, C. Castle, B. Perry, H. Ewings, B. Perry.
North: K. Pope, B. Perry, A. Woodland, A. Hatchard, H. Ewings
Sturt: Z. Prowse, G. Bevan, K. Harris, A. Jericho, T. Hough
North Adelaide has made it eight consecutive quarters without conceding a goal after a flexing 82-point thumping over Sturt to secure what was already all but secured – the minor premiership. A six-goal first term set up the huge 14.4 (88) to 0.6 (6) victory at Prospect Oval, with the game perhaps best summarised by the final goal of the match by Erica Greet. Facing a one against two battle at the top of the goalsquare in the final minute of the game, many would have forgiven the Roosters player for not going 100 per cent. But she attacked the ball carrier and not only nullified the contest, but wrestled the ball back and then dribbled it home for a major between her two opponents.
That goal was the last of 14 majors piled on by the Roosters in what was a one-sided contest from midway through the first term. Sturt had its moments, particularly in the second term when it managed to stabilise the damage, but ultimately efficiency inside defensive 50, and the slick skills of the Roosters on the counter attack was too much for the Double Blues. North Adelaide had four multiple goalkickers on the day with Greet’s second major seeing her join speedster Katelyn Pope, Adelaide best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard, and strong forward Charlotte Taylor on a couple of goals.
Britt Perry was first on the board for the Roosters two minutes in off the back of a terrific Pope play using her speed for a one-two handball chain and then getting it forward for Brianna Arthur to try and shoot. While it was smothered, Perry mopped up and kicked a nice goal. Cristie Castle and Perry were involved in a lot of scoring early, as Taylor and then Pope got their names in the goalkickers books. Despite the work of Hannah Prenzler pushing into defence, the ruck dominance of Zoe Prowse and the work horse effort of co-captain Georgia Bevan, the Double Blues could not stop the run of the Roosters. Three late goals in the term really hurt the Double Blues as Greet, Hatchard and then with one second left on the clock, Castle all kicking goals for a 37-point quarter time lead.
The game was effectively done by then, but Sturt would not give up. Though red time goals would prove a factor in the second term, with the Double Blues managing to score a couple of behinds, albeit through rushed behinds, but at least they were keeping the ball inside 50. After not conceding a goal for the first 14 minutes, Sturt watched two late majors sail home as Ewings nailed a nice set shot from 30m, then Woodland did well to beat her opponent near the boundary and get goal side to slam it home with a minute to play and open up a 50-point half-time margin.
Too many mis-kicks early in the third term by the Double Blues were preventing them from getting too far up the ground, but North Adelaide was missing most of the gifts for the last touch out of bounds rule. Five minutes into the quarter, Pope benefited off a loose ball to run onto it, burn off an opponent and finally put one through. A minute later, Taylor took a strong one-on-one mark close to goal off a deep Ewings kick and added a ninth goal to the team’s tally. Sturt had some chances with Ally Ladas‘ shot just missing, and then another attempt from the boundary also going the wrong side of the big sticks. The Double Blues had their moments, but the Roosters were too strong with Woodland and Castle getting involved, and heading into three quarter time with a 64-point advantage.
Whilst the final term could have been playing out time, Pope ensured that would not be the case with another huge run from half-back, taking a bounce, handballing off and receiving it back, then delivering it beautifully to Woodland on the lead to convert an early goal in the third minute. Prowse, Bevan and Kate Harris continued to work hard for Sturt, but the red jumpers around the contest outnumbered them and were dominating possession. Aajiah Jericho had a good last term with a crunching tackle to win a free kick and a few good marks, while Georgia Swan got into the game. Tiah Hough was another who had shown signs throughout the game, but the Roosters had winners all over the park.
The penultimate goal came from Hatchard who receiving a pass in from another last touch free, wheeled around and put through her second, in what had been another professional performance from here. The eventual 82-point margin showed just what North is capable of and look very good to go one better than last year. Crucially, the Roosters were able to throw around the magnets after quarter time with Kristi Harvey thrown forward and Hatchard even playing in a pocket for stints. There were plenty of players in the bests for the Roosters who head into the final round against Central District as they bid to go undefeated in season 2020.
GLENELG 2.1 | 3.2 | 7.4 | 8.5 (53)
WWT EAGLES 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)
Glenelg: C. Gould 3, E. Jones 2, S. Franson 2, M. Affolter.
WWT: G. Smallacombe.
Glenelg: S. Franson, C. Gould, E. Jones, T. Kohn, L. Armitage
WWT: T. Maher, R. Forth, C. Dolan, C. Forby, N. Holmes
Despite being ruled out of a 2020 SANFL Women’s finals appearance only hours earlier, it did not stop Glenelg coming through with an impressive 45-point victory over Woodville-West Torrens Eagles in an evening game. With the second half played under lights, it was a four-goal third term by the Bays that really separated the home team from the last placed side on the day. In the end, despite some confusion with the score, Glenelg got up 8.5 (53) to Eagles’ 1.2 (8).
Caitlin Gould finished with three majors, while Eloise Jones and Sam Franson both booted two as the trio were clearly among the best on the ground for the winners. The Eagles tried to create some run through youngsters, Tesharna Maher and Charlotte Dolan, but after a promising start – where Grace Smallacombe booted the first goal five minutes into the game – it was all Glenelg, piling on eight unanswered goals for the remainder of the match, whilst restricting the Eagles to just two behinds.
The Eagles enjoyed the lead only briefly in the first term, with Franson creating something out of nothing courtesy of a strong contest by Gould putting the Bays back in front. Five minutes later they made it too when pressure through midfield from Ellie Kellock allowed quick ball movements inside 50 and a towering Molly Affolter mark close to goal. She capitalised, and the Bays were up by seven at the first break with the likes of Tessa Kohn and Lucy Armitage also busy.
Jovanka Zecevic tried to set the tone for the Eagles from the opening bounce with a big tackle and first inside 50, as Woodville-West Torrens continued to attack early in the second term. Despite the likes of Chloe Forby and Natasha Holmes doing well, and Maher continually breaking the lines, it was the composure of Madisyn Freeman and the likes of Brooke Tonon getting involved in midfield to aid the AFL Women’s talents for the home side. Midway through the term, a great kick from Franson found Jones on the lead just 15m out with a strong contested grab which she converted, while up the other end, Bronwyn Davey had a chance after a terrific tackle, but her shot missed to the right for the Eagles to trail by 13 points at half-time.
The third term belonged to the Bays as they booted four goals throughout the term, including a couple later in the quarter to Gould who stretched the margin out to an unassailable 39-point advantage by the final break. Franson again created something out of nothing with a kick off the ground two minutes into the quarter, before a touch of magic from Jones under pressure on a tight angle swung home. Gould proved a real handful for the defence, taking a couple of strong marks and converting her opportunities, while the likes of Kellock and Deni Varnhagen were being effective around the ground.
There was not too much to celebrate in the third term for the Eagles, but Dolan was proving productive through the back half of the ground, as Kiana Lee was again consistent on the last line, but struggled to get it past the half-back wall of the Tigers. Woodville-West Torrens would have a couple of early chances in the opening few minutes, but could only put through a behind, as the likes of Chloe Forby and Anastasia Falkenberg were trying to keep the ball moving. Forth tried hard all day for the visitors, but the Tigers were just too strong, as they showed in an end-to-end play for Gould to slot home her third major midway through the quarter. Holmes had a chance in the last couple of minutes to put through another for the Eagles, but it agonisingly fell short and stayed in play, as Glenelg enjoyed a comfortable win.