A TRIPLE-header at Hisense Stadium will allow South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s fans to watch three games back-to-back on Saturday in a massive day of action following a blockbuster Friday night fixture this evening. For Round 1 losers, one of South Adelaide or Norwood will at least get points on the board in season 2021, while for Round 1 winners, Glenelg and North Adelaide, something will have to give when they clash in the second game tomorrow.
SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Friday, March 5 @ 7pm
Flinders University Stadium
Two of the SANFL Women’s most successful teams over the first four seasons go head-to-head after losing their opening round matches in South Adelaide and Norwood. Two-time back-to-back premiers and then reigning grand finalists, South Adelaide will lock horns with Norwood who took it up to West Adelaide last week, but much like the Panthers against the Roosters, were unable to get the job done against pretty stiff opposition. Now the teams head in with a few changes to try and grab their first points of the season.
The home team will have to overcome the loss of key midfielder, Czenya Cavouras who is unavailable for the match, joining Alannah Rochow as unavailabilities, and Brooke Kleinig as omissions from the Round 1 loss. Tough midfielder/forward Madison Bennett returns to the team, with the 21-year-old bringing plenty of experience to the side, whist at the other end of the scale, Amy Gore (four games) and Tess Huxtable (debut) are both in, as Gore has been named on an extended bench, and Huxtable thrown into a forward pocket. Tamara Page and Madison Ross have also been included. For Norwood, they have brought in versatile utility Mattea Breed who was an emergency in the first game, and Lana Schwerdt, who have replaced Lindsay Bigg and Kassandra Stroh in the side.
The ruck battle between Leah Cutting and Montana McKinnon will be a fascinating one, as two strong opponents not will to take a backwards step going head-to-head. Jaslynne Smith looks the heir apparent to the missing Cavouras in midfield, with the natural ball-winner and reliable defender joining Nicole Campbell and Renee Moon onball, while Norwood have thrown a splash of youth in there for the team sheet as forward Jade Halfpenny and fellow teenager Sarah Branford make their way into the midfield alongside the experienced Sophie Armitstead.
South Adelaide had enough chances against North last week, the Panthers could not quite make them stick going inside 50, while Norwood won all the key stats, but the West Adelaide defence was incredible with holding up and driving the ball back. If the Redlegs can get the ball in the hands of runners such as Alana Lishmund or Isabel Martin going forward, the inclusion of Breed gives them another athletic target, while the Panthers have Gypsy Schirmer as the X-factor in the front half, with the top-age talent joining the likes of Lauren Clifton and Tahlita Buethke as young guns will to move the ball quickly in transition and set up scoring opportunities.
Both these sides looked pretty good last week and it looks to be an even contest, though the loss of Cavouras will hurt the Panthers. Norwood might have the upper hand if their midfield can click, but it will be whether South can make more of its chances going forward.
CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
Saturday, March 6 @ 10.40am
In the first of a triple-header at Hisense Stadium, the ultra-impressive Central District go head-to-head with Sturt to open a Super Saturday of matches. The Double Blues do not mind getting their hands dirty and restricting the opposition from scoring with the defence their strongest area. It makes for a fascinating contrast with the Bulldogs running-and-gunning it to have a number of multiple goalkickers in Round 1 and build on their 2020 season where they showed signs that they were keen to take the game on. Coming off a wooden spoon last season, the Bulldogs not only look to have built on their game, but genuinely were as impressive as any other side in the opening week, and it will be interesting to see how they go second-up, while the Double Blues will make some adjustments after the loss to Glenelg.
Central District have not needed to force a change, heading into tomorrow’s clash with an extended bench. Former vice-captain and talented mover Gemma Doughty returns to the side with Amber James the other key in as the 21-year-old looks to make her mark in the side along with the other blossoming youth. Unfortunately for Sturt, Lane Trenorden is out due to a finger injury, while Nicole Baker is also out of the game, and the Double Blues have opted for an extended bench with the return of bottom-age talent Tiah Hough who is still only 16-years-old, as well as the potential debut of another 16-year-old in Georgia Hamilton. Alysha Healy also comes in to provide some experience in the front half, while over-ager Allani Dawes is the other inclusion for the visiting side.
Hough has been thrown in the deep end to join Alisha Gepp onball after the latter had a solid introduction to SANFL Women’s action with 11 touches and three clearances on debut last week. 18-year-old Gepp is the oldest of the three named onballers with top-age talent Zoe Prowse standing out in her new midfield-ruck split role and one that Central will need to watch in this game. Sturt have an abundance of youth that makes them a potential to really go far, with their opponents Central District also showing off their young talent. In the front half, the strong hands of Lauren Breguet and the perfect small forward game from Laitiah Huynh in Central’s win over Woodville-West Torrens were eye-catching, and Madison Lane has the potential to cross paths with fellow South Australian Academy member, Georgia Swan in the Bulldogs’ defence.
Central District’s hardened midfield with captain Shelby Smith leading the way, and Lauren Smith and Caitlen Teague joining her in there, will make life difficult for the younger Sturt onballers. Key forward targets in Kaitlyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds give the Bulldogs a bit of firepower in the front half along with the medium and small forwards, and perhaps the fact Rosenzweig went goalless in the opening round, and the Bulldogs still had a comfortable win, was the most pleasing considering in past years she has held up the attack. Sturt’s defence has the youth of Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard there to use their footskills to get out of trouble, as well as captain Maya Rigter‘s experience to settle the team down, meaning the Bulldogs will still need to use the ball well going forward. For Sturt, it is about getting their hands on it and keeping possession to spend more time inside 50 and create opportunities.
Central District looked so dangerous last week and the Bulldogs style could match up against a lot of teams, so Sturt’s defence will be tested again this week, though the addition of youth to the side will also make Sturt just as exciting going forward.
GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 6 @ 12.25pm
Two Round 1 winners go head-to-head when Glenelg takes on North Adelaide in the second game of the triple-header tomorrow. The Bays made a statement in the opening round with a strong victory over Sturt, while the Roosters unfurled the flag and claimed the points over South Adelaide to remind teams that even without their AFL Women’s talent of last year, they are still a force to be reckoned with in 2021. The match will be a great test for Glenelg to see where they are at when the go up against the benchmark of the Roosters, while North Adelaide will now test themselves against a side that showed it can pile on the goals when required.
Glenelg will head in with at least a couple of chances, as Molly Affolter returns for the Bays to give them a leg-up in the ruck after the team was smashed in the area last week against Sturt. Casie Coombe and Shae Partington also return to the side as part of an extended bench. For North Adelaide, they have kept it simple with the loss of Kate Ferguson to an ankle injury, and Flagstaff Hill’s Carli Morton gets her chance to debut in Round 2.
The North lineup has very few holes in it, with Kelly Barltrop returning successfully last week and being that forward target, while captain Kristi Harvey has the potential to play at either end, named at centre half-forward but could very easily be thrown back into defence. With the experience of Talia Radan, and the ever-improving Erin Sundstrom back there, the Roosters have some great intercepting ability. Jaimi Tabb and Kate Case are among the young guns going through the team, with Case enjoying the role through the defensive half of the ground last week, and rotating with the likes of another State Academy member in Julia Clark, while at the other end, Brianna Arthur and Cristie Castle have the potential to rotate through midfield or forward.
Glenelg’s inside midfield will need to find a way to contain young gun Hannah Ewings who dominated in Round 1 against the Panthers, but also cannot allow the experienced Leah Tynan or Lauren Daniel to get off the chain either. Ellie Kellock and Sam Franson were ever-reliable, with the latter hitting the scoreboard with multiple goals to go with plenty of touches in an impressive effort. Young talents Tessa Kohn and Brooke Tonon roll through the inside and outside midfield as well as in various spots around the ground for the Bays, while not enough has been said about the debut of 15-year-old Piper Window who racked up 13 touches, two inside 50s and laid four tackles in her first SANFL Women’s match. If the Bays can use the likes of Tonon, Tamsyn Morriss and Window to work the ball forward, they will give the front six the chance to match it with the Roosters on the scoreboard.
As good as Glenelg was last week, penetrating the North Adelaide defence is like entering the final boss battle on a game. If the Bays can do that and kick a winning score, then they will be considered a genuine premiership contender, but the Roosters are the team to beat, and the reigning premiers will be favourites in this game.
WEST ADELAIDE vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, March 6 @ 2.10pm
The final match of the triple-header features the actual home team for the triple-header in West Adelaide, looking to go 2-0 against a Woodville-West Torrens side that was soundly beaten by Central District’s run in Round 1. The Bloods on the other hand were able to take care of Norwood in a tight encounter, and with an abundance of youth, look to be one of the title contenders in season 2021.
The Eagles have lost Audrey Holt to injury for the Round 2 game, while 15-year-old Marlie Fiegert has been recalled, along with the crucial inclusion of some experience in veteran, Renee Forth. Panagiota Pipinis also comes into the Eagles side, as the team heads in with some versatile options before running out on the ground. West Adelaide has lost a crucial player in Ailish Considine, one of the two outs with Samantha Ramm. Back into the side however is key forward Chelsea Biddell who comes back from Adelaide Crows duties, joining a host of players on an extended bench such as State Academy member Tamika May, 16-year-old Charlie Scutchings, 18-year-old Niamh Davis, and potential debutant, Madelyn Zacher who arrives from Adelaide University.
Make no mistake, West Adelaide is a huge chance to win the lot this season, and being able to include Biddell at this level is a massive boost to the side that unleashed Lauren Young into the SANFL Women’s world in Round 1. The fact Young is only 15 and did what she was able to do – lead the league in disposals, marks and rebounds – shows how promising her future is, and she is a name that will be talked about in the coming years. Jovanka Zecevic will lead a midfield looking to contain the likes of Young, and with the help of Stephanie Walker and Forth who could roll through their with their experience, the visitors hope to get on top through that area. Kiana Lee was impressive as that contested marking defender, but is more than suited to playing at full-forward, which is somewhere that fellow youngster Brooklyn Kraft has been named to test herself.
Charlotte Dolan continued to improve to kick-off the season last week with some line-breaking runs to team up with Anastasia Falkenberg and Natasha Holmes who can all find the football. Similarly, Jamie Parish is capable of taking a forward one-on-one and then running off them to provide good link-up work in transition, but she will have her hands full between the twin towers in Melanie Elsegood and Biddell down there. Up the other end, Sharnie Whiting slotted in seamlessly to the defence and will be that intercept option at centre half-back, while Keeley Kustermann and Zoe Venning at opposite flanks have the potential to role through the midfield with their counter contrasting abilities of clean and composed, and hard and uncompromising giving the Westies plenty to like about their side in 2021.
West Adelaide look like one of the top teams in the competition that could build on its preliminary final exit in 2020, and therefore will be favourites to take this game out, while the Eagles will be a better side with their inclusions, but will be tested against the strength of West Adelaide, so will have a good idea of where they stand with one of the potential title contenders after the match.
Picture credit: Cory Sutton/SANFL