FINALS fever is here in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition, with Maroochydore and University of Queensland facing off, before Yeronga South Brisbane and Coorparoo do battle. For the losers, it is season over, while for the winners, preliminary finals dates with Bond University and Coolangatta Tweed await.
MAROOCHYDORE vs. UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND
The third placed Maroochydore hosts the sixth placed University of Queensland in the opening game of the round, with the winner set to play second place Coolangatta Tweed in the semi-finals. Finishing the season with seven wins, three losses and two draws, Maroochydore will be the clear favourite compared to the Red Lionesses who finished the QAFL Women’s season with three wins, eight losses and a draw.
Prior to the COVID-19 postponement, Maroochydore raced out of the blocks to win all three of its games – including a thriller against the Red Lionesses – then by Round 5 had four wins and a draw to its name. They stumbled a little over the next few rounds with losses to Coolangatta Tweed, Coorparoo and Yeronga South Brisbane around a precautionary draw with top of the table Bond University. A nine-point win over the Red Lionesses gave the Roos confidence again and they went on to finish the season with a three-game winning streak, smashing Aspley Hornets 95-0 to grab third spot on percentage, and then taking care of Wilston Grange, 43-9.
The University of Queensland had the opposite start to the season as Maroochydore, dropping all three games prior to the break, and losing by a narrow two points to Yeronga South Brisbane in the first game back in Round 4. They clicked into gear with impressive wins over Wilston Grange and Aspley Hornets to look like a team on the move up the ladder. Unfortunately for Red Lionesses fans, that was a false mirage as they only won one of the last six games, and that was against the Hornets by four points – the closest the Hornets came to a win. Despite this, the University of Queensland can take plenty out of two narrow losses to the Roos, knowing they match up well and would have been their preferred opponent out of the other top four teams.
Shannon Campbell finished the year with 13 goals in nine games, and was among the best on multiple occasions, Mikayla Pauga remains a huge best and fairest chance, averaging a goal a game and named in the best every second game on average from her 12 matches. Ashleigh Hales (six goals), Chloe Gregory (five), Jacqueline Dupuy (five) and Jennifer Carden-David (five) have also been consistent sources of goals this year. Maggie Harmer‘s seven bests from 11 games has her with the most consistent performances this season for the green and golds, while Brisbane Lions young gun, Lily Postlethwaite has six with Pauga. Others who have shone include Ruby McDowell (five), Bella Smith (four), Isabel Dawes (four) and Tayla Gesch (four).
Dakota Davidson has been the clear standout in front of goal, snagging 13 majors in nine games, named in the best on three occasions for the Red Lionesses. Greta Bodey has not played in a month, but prior to that she kicked eight goals in five games, while Megan Hunt – potentially leading the club’s best and fairest with seven bests – has six majors. Sophie Ure (four goals) has also been productive in her nine games. Aside from Hunt, players further up the field have also been named among the best many times, including Jane Childes and Mikayla Martin (both six). Jamie Stone has five bests ahead of Alexandra Moran, Breanna Koenen, Mia Teubler and Sara-Jane O’Grady who all have four.
Maroochydore go in as strong favourites on recent form, though University of Queensland will have confidence from pushing the Roos twice.
YERONGA SOUTH BRISBANE vs. COORPAROO
In the second match on Saturday, fourth placed Yeronga South Brisbane plays host to fifth placed Coorparoo for the right to take on minor premiers, Bond University in the preliminary finals. There is not much separating both these sides on the ladder, with the Devils snatching the home ground advantage in the final round with a win over the University of Queensland, whilst the Kings went went down to the Sharkettes to drop to fifth. In season 2020, the Devils finished with seven wins, three losses and two draws, while the Kings had the seven wins and five losses, just five points behind.
Yeronga South Brisbane comes into the match off the back of some pretty good form, winning three of the past four games, and that loss came against Bond University a fortnight ago. The Devils have been running hot since the break, starting with a couple of draws in Rounds 4 and 5, then narrowly avoiding a remarkable third draw in a row with a one-point win over Wilston Grange. They found their form again after Round 7’s win over Aspley Hornets, with wins over all the other sides except the top two. In the two matches with Coorparoo, they won in a high scoring Round 1 clash, 69-54, then again three weeks ago, 46-28.
Coorparoo started slowly this season, having a couple of losses in Rounds 1 and 2, then got on the board with a comprehensive 57-point win over Aspley Hornets. Upon returning to the QAFL Women’s, the Kings had the fortune of playing the last placed Hornets again and smashed them by 93 points, a record that would stand until the Roos’ 95-point shellacking over them. They easily accounted for Coolangatta Tweed and looked the team to beat, before falling to Bond University by 21 points in Round 6. From there, the Kings picked up three consecutive wins, before dropping games to both the Devils and Sharkettes in the final three rounds either side of a 40-point triumph over Wilston Grange.
Yeronga South Brisbane shares the goals around with Lexia Edwards (10 goals) averaging a goal a game to lead the Devils in goalkicking this season. Lucy Bellinger is not too far behind with eight goals – five of those in one game against the Hornets – and named among the best four times. Courtney McDonnell (seven), Sam Virgo (seven), Adrienne Keeffe (four) and Madison Goodwin (four) have also been prominent in 2020. Jordan Zanchetta has been the stand out for the Devils, named among the best five times in her 10 games, just ahead of Bellinger, Emily Bates, Jacqueline Yorston and Vanessa Hart who have all earned four bests nominations. Hart has only played the six games since the break, which makes her the in-form player.
For the Kings, the AFL Women’s experience is at the top of the table with Jamie Stanton kicking a competition-high 15 goals to share the leading goalkicker award with Bond University’s Taylor Smith. She has been named in the best on five occasions, and has clearly been the standout and one of the league’s top performers since returning to the Kings’ outfit in July. Also fantastic, Jess Wuetschner has booted 12 goals in eight games, one more than Emma McKenzie (11) and just ahead of Chelsea Chesterfield (10). Kelsey Crosbie who has remarkably not played since March, booted eight goals in three games to remain inside the top five, one ahead of Tori Groves-Little (seven). Jade Ellenger leads all-comers when it comes to bests with eight nominations from 12 games ahead of Stanton’s five, and then a host of experienced players on four such as Ally Anderson, Emma Zielke and Tahlia Hickie.
Yeronga South Brisbane have the form against Coorparoo, but the Kings can never be discounted with the stack of AFL Women’s talent on the list.