FINALS are set in stone for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, and for Glenelg, Sturt, Central District and Woodville-West Torrens, it is the end of the road with the season completed by Saturday evening. For the four other sides, their seasons are very much alive with both finals opponents set in stone, as North Adelaide should host South Adelaide next weekend, whilst depending on results this weekend, West Adelaide and Norwood will jostle for home ground honours in their respective clashes.
WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, August 1, 9.30am
In the game of the round, two sides that could well face off at some point during the finals series go at it in Round 10 for a blockbuster clash. Both sides welcome back some big guns for their teams, as Abbie Ballard returns for West Adelaide, while Montana McKinnon has been named for her first Panthers game since returning from injury after the long break. South has also take the chance to blood Willunga debutant Kristen Rothwell, who joins a ridiculous amount of talent coming in. Not only is McKinnon a boost to the reigning premiers, but vital midfielder Czenya Cavouras, and reliable young defender Samantha Pratt return from one-week injury issues, while Lucy Northcott is also back in the team after missing for work purposes. Among the outs are Madison Bennett and Brooklyn Kraft with the former being managed ahead of the finals series.
This clash will be a perfect tune up for the sides ahead of finals, and South Adelaide are humming quite nicely at the moment, getting the job done without being dominant, but just controlling play and doing enough to keep the opposition at arms-length. West Adelaide had looked super impressive up until a bit of a stumble last weekend, when they realistically kicked themselves out of the game and did not have their usual time and space that makes the Bloods so damaging. The game will be potentially won and lost in the midfield with Ballard, Rachelle Martin and Zoe Venning going head-to-head with Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, whilst Hannah Munyard proved to be an inspiration down forward last week. Still missing Jess Kirk, the Panthers will need to combat the strength of the West Adelaide forward line which includes Chelsea Biddell, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Kasia Culhane. Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann off half-back will provide some good speed and skill, whilst Pratt and Lisa Whiteley will do the same up the other end.
South Adelaide is the more reliable choice in this match, as you know what the Panthers will produce. West Adelaide could certainly win this clash if the Bloods can play at their best, but cannot afford to play at the same level as last week or the Panthers will be too strong and make the most of their opportunities.
STURT vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Peter Motley Oval
Neither of these sides can push for finals, but the Eagles have a chance to get off the bottom of the table with a win against the Double Blues, whilst Sturt can move up to fifth on the table with victory. Alex Ballard is one of three inclusions for the double Blues, whilst the Eagles have taken the opportunity to blood a debutant in their final game, with SMOSH West Lakes’ Alysha Fitzgerald coming in and slotting into the back pocket while the absence of Stephane Walker who is out with concussion will be missed.
As the two lowest scoring sides, this could be a real arm-wrestle, but also a territory game. Both sides enjoy the defensive aspects with heavy pressure and lots of strong tackles. Zoe Prowse is in ripping form and likely to have another field day through the ruck, whilst the midfield battle between the likes of Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Isobel Kuiper against Renee Forth, Anastasia Falkenberg and Jovanka Zecevic will be a fascinating one. Kiana Lee has been named at full-forward, and no doubt the Sturt defence led by Larissa Schenscher and JoAnna Baltais will make life difficult for here. Tesharna Maher and Charlotte Dolan provide some good speed for the Eagles, whilst the Double Blues have an abundance of youth, which includes the likes of Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler who can all play in multiple positions.
This game is arguably the hardest to tip because both have had big losses to North Adelaide in recent weeks, but Sturt drew with Norwood the week before, so should start favourites. The Eagles are better than a one-win season side, but will need to show it here to double their wins tally in 2020.
NORWOOD vs. GLENELG
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
In what will likely be the second best game of the round, Norwood hosts Glenelg for a chance at grabbing third spot and returning to Coopers Stadium a week later against the Bloods. With South Adelaide every chance to take the points against West Adelaide, the Redlegs can pounce and grab third and all they need is a win. For Glenelg, the Bays might have missed out on the chance to play for a finals spot this round, but knocking off Norwood in the last round would be satisfying. Norwood has lost a bit of talent up forward with captain Alison Ferrall and Alana Lischmund both out of the side, meaning the Redlegs will need to shuffle the magnets around. Chloe Karamoshos and Cassandra Tsoumbris have been named in the starting side with an extended bench ahead of the clash, whilst the Bays have also named an extended bench, but will still be without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones to close out the season.
Without two of their clever forwards in Ferrall and Lischmund, Norwood will have to think outside the box, and potentially get the midfield group to hit the scoreboard, as Jess Macolino and Matilda Zander can do from time to time. Mattea Breed is a strong contested mark and will likely spend time down there, whilst Najwa Allen can also play deep if required. Another option is throwing either Bella Smith or Leah Cutting into attack to provide some height and strength in the air, while Tessa Hankinson provided some liveliness inside 50 last week. The Glenelg defence does well with its rotations as Deni Varnhagen, Ellie Kellock and Lucy Armitage can all rotate through their from the middle, while Caitlin Gould can play either end, but is more damaging up forward after spending time in the ruck. Tessa Kohn was terrific last week, whilst the young brigade in Sam Franson, Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon were also impressive and provide some exciting moments.
Both teams are missing some quality players, but there is more on the line for Norwood so it makes sense to lean the way of the Redlegs, though Gould is a player who can turn a match. Without their couple of other game-breakers in Jones and Marinoff it will make life a little tougher.
NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, August 1, 1.15pm
There is no denying this is a huge challenge for Central District. The Bulldogs are a really improved side this season, with the losses a lot more competitive and their best ultra-impressive. Last round they were super, and if they had finished off in front of goal, they would have really pushed the Panthers. In saying that, this North Adelaide side is quite simply a machine at the moment. They have not conceded a goal in eight quarters, and quite frankly destroyed both Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Central District has proven it has more capability to score than both those sides, but they have to get on top in the midfield. They have brought in Nicola Biagi and Nikki Cullen with Ella Mickan and Caitlen Teague out of he side, while the Roosters will be without their star in Anne Hatchard for the final game of the regular season. Never mind that too much because they bring in a former competition leading goalkicker in Kelly Barltrop, as well as their in-from first season ruck, Bek Rasheed to provide greater strength through the middle.
There are many reasons why North can win this game, but the greater analysis is what can Central do to try and cause the biggest upset of the season? The Bulldogs must win the midfield battle and be unpredictable going forward. Shelby Smith, Alicia Butler and Sarah Allan have a great mix of different attributes through the middle from their toughness, speed and penetrating kick that can hurt opposition onball groups in many ways. Without Hatchard in the middle, it takes away the player you know is going to rack up 30-40 touches which is already a plus. But the speed of Hannah Ewings, the class of Ash Woodland and the tenacity of Leah Tynan, before you even get to the wingers in Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet who can both roll forward, the Roosters have depth like no other side. The forward line is so damaging you can try and stop one player and another will pop up. No one has been able to stop the Roosters all season. But while offensively North is a super side, the Roosters also have an unbelievable defence. Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey are rocks back there, which will be why Central has to be smart using the ball forward. Talia Radan and Lauren Gauci add some extra strength to the defensive back six, which is why any opposition to North Adelaide has to be efficient.
North Adelaide is just too big, too strong and too good, but despite this being a top against second bottom clash, this actually could be exciting. Central District is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and go all-out, and realistically, that is what you have to do against the Roosters. Given the Roosters have nothing to lose other than a perfect regular season, the Bulldogs could really pounce. In saying that, North has not even come close to looking vulnerable in the past few weeks and should win comfortably. However you can guarantee the game will be close than the past couple of weeks because this Bulldogs side is one to watch next season.