2021 QAFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Grand Final rematch to take place in blockbuster opening round

A GRAND final rematch in the last game of the round caps off a big week of action for the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition that begins tomorrow.

BOND UNIVERSITY vs. MAROOCHYDORE

Two top four sides that impressed in the regular seasons last year but just fell in the semi-final stage will do battle in the opening round of the QAFL Women’s season. Bond University finished on top of the table, but went down to a rampaging Yeronga South Brisbane in the semis as the Devils marched to the premiership. Meanwhile Maroochydore suffered defeat at the hands of Coolangatta Tweed after winning their elimination final in the week before.

Mikayla Pauga is the key player to watch having crossed from Maroochydore to Bond University over the off-season, and will now lead the Sharkettes onball brigade. The midfield group of Georgia Brehmer and Shannon Danckert makes it a tough group to beat, while Annie Muir on the wing is another talented midfielder who can bring the need for speed. Lily Tarlinton is a tall option to provide a target inside 50, named at full-forward for the clash.

For Maroochydore, a number of the AFL Women’s talents will not be avaialble so they will be looking to the likes of Brianna McFarlane and Chloe Gregory through midfield to give the Roos a spark with talented youngster Bella Smith named in the middle as well. Up the other end, Rianna Maloney and Brooke Matheson have been named as crucial forwards, and former Calder Cannons talent Makeisha Muller has joined the green and gold.

Bond University have enough experience in the lineup to suggest they will be difficult to beat, but Maroochydore still has talent even without its AFL Women’s players.

 

WILSTON GRANGE vs. UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND

Next up on Saturday afternoon is a battle between two sides who finished in the bottom three of the competition last year. University of Queensland did make finals, but were knocked out by Maroochydore at the elimination stage, whilst Wilston Grange fell short of the post-season series by four points to be one behind the Red Lionesses in seventh.

The game should be evenly balanced, with Ruby Svarc a name to watch for the Gorillas out on a wing. She will provide the team with some great run and carry, and team up with fellow midfielders, Kylie Welsh, Mackenzie Findlay and Kaitlyn Day in the Round 1 team, with Abby Hewett and Brooke Sheridan named amongst the forwards.

Megan Hunt is a crucial player to have at state level and she will run out with the University of Queensland in the clash, while developing talent Tiarna Jericho has been named at centre half-back. Lucinda Benjamin and Grace Brennan are two of the targets inside 50 for the visitors, while Jane Childes on the outside is likely to have a great head-to-head with Svarc.

It is hard to pick a winner in this game with plenty of state league players on both sides, as well as a couple of young players to watch for.

 

COORPAROO vs. ASPLEY

Playing in the finals last season, Coorparoo will be keen to start off on the right note against an Aspley Hornets side that failed to claim a win in 2020. Ther teams are fairly fresh with some familiar names, but also some fresh faces which will make it difficult to predict how the game is going to go. The Hornets in particular have a few key talents to keep an eye on ahead of the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships in April.

Lucia Liessi is a young gun who will be key for the Hornets. She has been known to play in defence such as the AFL Women’s Under 18 All-Stars game last year, but has been named in a forward pocket for this clash. Off half-back, Isabella Kotatis, Lucy Pengelly and Hayley Moore make a young developing trio, while Courtney Daniec showed last season she is rock-solid in midfield. Phoebe Baird coming off the bench is another to keep an eye on from the wooden spooners who will no doubt be an improved side in 2021.

For the Kings, Lucy Blue remains a crucial player after being in contention to be drafted last season, but missed out, she has been named in the back pocket to potentially play on Liessi. Renee Teys will head up the followers with Jenae Govan and Jessica McLean in the midfield, while Danielle Cox is one of a number of forward options named in the side. The depth of the Kings is obvious with Macie Brown named off the bench.

Coorparoo will be favourites given the team’s respective formlines last season, but Aspley have a lot to like, particularly in the youth department so do not be surprised if the Hornets cause an upset.

 

YERONGA SOUTH BRISBANE vs. COOLANGATTA TWEED

The QAFL Women’s competition might have saved the best until last for Round 1, with a grand final rematch between Yeronga South Brisbane and Coolangatta Tweed. The Devils will be able to unfurl their flag in front of home fans against the team they upset last season in the decider. Coming all the way from fourth they managed to grab the title in a memorable game.

Given Brisbane’s impressive showing in the AFL Women’s this season, both these sides still have plenty of experienced talent, with young gun highlight-reel Zimmorlei Farquharson ready to back up her efforts in last year’s finals series and kick off 2021 on a big note. Lucy Bellinger is another Devils player to watch, though there are no shortage of them, with Madison Goodwin, Emmii-Lee ZankerClose, Christine Okesene and Lexia Edwards among those anticipated to impress in Round 1 of the competition.

The Bluebirds have their own stacked side, with Kitara Farrar set for a big year after having injury interruptions during her time in the AFL Women’s. Beth Pinchin was one who received the call-up to the AFL Women’s via the draft last year and will only get better as the weeks go by, while Keyshia Matenga, Sophie Ure and Ahlani Eddy are other players who have come through the State Under 18s program over the journey. The Bluebirds are going to be a contender once again, and will want to grab this scalp.

Yeronga South Brisbane have to be favourites given their X-factor up forward and the special occasion, but Coolangatta Tweed have so much young talent that is more than capable of spoiling the party.

Picture credit: RF Photography

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