2021 SANFL Women’s Round 4 preview: Crucial ladder-defining games for mid-table teams

ROUND 4 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season kicks off tonight with two games across the weekend featuring teams on one win from three games, while Norwood have the chance to knock top of the table North Adelaide off its unbeaten perch.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Friday, March 19 @ 6.30pm
Hisense Stadium

In the first rematch of the season, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles take on Central District under lights at Hisense Stadium tonight. The Eagles are coming in off their first win of the season following their hard-fought slog in the wet against Glenelg, whilst Central District has not won since the Round 1 victory over the Eagles, but were in control for most of the game in their last two narrow losses to Sturt and South Adelaide which were both under a kick. The Bulldogs have been terrific starters this season and will look to do so again when they take on the Eagles, whilst their opponents will be aware that if they can be close enough at half-time they can finish strongly like they did against the Bays last week.

The Eagles do have a couple of forced outs with youngster Brooklyn Kraft missing due to a knee injury, and Renee Forth called up to Adelaide’s AFL Women’s program. They have regained some AFL Women’s experience however, with Jess Sedunary among a host of inclusions on an extended bench. Central has just the one confirmed out with Alicia Butler out, though key midfield Lauren Smith returns alongside a number of inclusions for the Dogs as they hope to go 2-0 against the Eagles this season.

To do so Central will need to put scores on the board throughout the four quarters, and key forward Katelyn Rosenzweig has been named which is fantastic to see after an injury late in the loss to South Adelaide last week. Chantel Reynolds and Laitiah Huynh have found ways to apply scoreboard pressure this season, while Shelby Smith was sensational last week in the middle. She is well supported by Lauren Smith and Caitlen Teague who form a really strong onball group, whilst the defensive trio of Madison Lane, Gemma Doughty and Demi Sonneman provide great run out of the back 50.

The Eagles have to shuffle the magnets around with the loss of Kraft, as Amie Blanden – who took over ruck duties last week – will start there again, as Under 16s talent Shineah Goody will team up with reigning best and fairest winner Jovanka Zecevic at the stoppages. Anastasia Falkenberg and Natasha Holmes have put together some consistent performances this season, while South Australian State Academy members, Charlotte Dolan and Jamie Parish will provide some run for the Eagles. Kiana Lee has been named at centre half-back but as she showed last week, can go forward and kick a crucial goal.

Central District would be favoured to back up their Round 1 win over the Eagles, it will just be a case of making the most of their forward 50 entries, whilst for the Eagles, it is about winning the midfield battle.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Friday, March 19 @ 8.15pm
Hisense Stadium

In the second match at Hisense Arena, the real home team in West Adelaide will host Glenelg in an important game for both sides. The Bloods will welcome back some of their AFL Women’s talent they lost from last week’s game when they went down to North Adelaide. The Bays will also bring some big names back into the side as they look to arrest a two-game losing streak they have suffered at the hands of North Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens the last two rounds. West have the firepower up forward, but the Tigers have also been capable of kicking a big score when not slugging it out in the wet.

West Adelaide will welcome back Madison Newman and Chelsea Biddell to the fold with their AFL Women’s experience crucial, though Louella McCarthy is another key player to be named amongst the ins having kicked two late goals in the win a fortnight ago. The Bays will see a ton of players return with at last five players out of the Round 3 team, including Ellen Fauser, whilst the likes of AFL Women’s Dayna Cox, and goal-scoring threat Sam Franson are back in for the big game. Grace Duffy is another inclusion for the Bays who has proven to provide some high and work in the forward half.

With the West forward line looking bulked up again, it will the likes of Biddell and Newman who have the capacity of putting scores on the board, while Zoe Venning has rotated well between half-forward and onball this season. Lauren Young has been a revelation in her debut season at just 15-years-old, and the likes of Bec Owen and Zoe Greer will rove to Kate Walsh who could take advantage in the ruck. State Academy member Tamsyn Morriss has been thrown in the midfield for this game alongside 15-year-old Piper Window who has made a promising start to her SANFL Women’s career. Ellie Kellock provides that experience in the middle, while Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon are named on the wings to provide some extra run forward.

West Adelaide will be favourites here with plenty of quality coming back, but the Bays have their own talent returning, which makes this a great contest at night.

NORWOOD vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 20 @ 11.00am
Cooper Stadium

Kicking off Saturday’s action, Norwood will have the next crack at trying to end the unbeaten North Adelaide’s run which went to three games last week, but realistically the Roosters have not lost since the 2019 SANFL Women’s Grand Final. The Redlegs have won the past two games and are building some good form, though they did have a scare against Sturt in Round 3, so will want to pick it up here and put in a good performance. The Roosters controlled most of the player after an early goal to the Bloods last week, and will be without a couple of stars so will eye off others stepping up in their place.

Isabel Martin will miss the Redlegs’ Round 4 clash after injuring her ankle, joining State Academy member Sarah Branford, and defender Kate Fenton among the outs for the clash. Norwood does regain the services of Alana Lishmund who returns from suspension. The Roosters on the other hand have suffered some big outs with young gun Hannah Ewings out with the ankle injury she sustained in the second quarter of North Adelaide’s Round 3 win over West Adelaide, while key forward Kelly Barltrop will be unavailable for the clash.

The Redlegs will need to capitalise on the midfield and get the ball forward to allow the likes of athletic talls Mattea Breed and Jade Halfpenny to get plenty of looks inside 50. Lana Schwerdt won the Ellen Maple Medal in the win against Sturt last week and will be keen to back up that performance here, whilst the experience of Jess Macolino, Sophie Armitstead and Elisha Gallagher will help add some composure around the ground. The Redlegs were lucky not to concede a late goal last week, and will be wary of what the Roosters can do.

North Adelaide has a near-impenetrable defence with key posts, Kristi Harvey and Talia Radan providing the strength and smarts to not allow any easy goals. Alana Baker comes into the side and slots straight onto half-back with the running Kate Case, while Case’s State Academy teammate Julia Clark has been thrown in the midfield alongside the in-form Leah Tynan and Cristie Castle. Jaimi Tabb has been named at full-forward to provide some strength down there, whilst Brianna Arthur and Kathryn Reynolds are also among the dangerous forwards inside 50.

North Adelaide should be good enough to go to 4-0, but with the talent out, Norwood has a huge opportunity to cause an upset in this game, particularly in front of home fans.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Saturday, March 20 @ 5.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

‘The final game of the round is an evening game between South Adelaide and Sturt down at Flinders University Stadium. The Panthers finally got on the board last week – albeit just – with a narrow win over Central District. The game against Sturt could be another thriller, with the Double Blues also having plenty of young, developing players running around and are 1-2, though could easily have been 2-1 with a couple of missed opportunities last in the game against the Panthers last week. The winner of this game moves to 2-2 and remains in touch with the top couple of teams.

The Panthers will welcome into the side Amy Gore and Katie Whish – the latter in line for a debut – amongst others including Sheena Peters, Alannah Rochow and Georgia Pennifold, whilst Madison Bennett, Tess Brockhurst and Amy Huxtable are out. The Double Blues have lost youngster Tiah Hough to a hand injury, whilst Allani Dawes, Molly Fletcher and Jessica Good have been named in an extended team, with Good another potential debutant in the game.

Good could well have a baptism of fire, with the tall named in the ruck to face AFL Women’s ruck Montana McKinnon. The South Adelaide ruck has been in terrific form this season, and with the experience of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell in there, the Panthers have the advantage. However the fact Zoe Prowse is just rolling around as a midfielder means the Double Blues have that Plan B ready to go, with the best two young rucks in South Australia likely to cross paths on multiple occasions. Sturt duo Alisha Gepp and Isobel Kuiper are younger than their opponents, but will certainly attack the contest hard, whilst Tahlita Buethke and Sarah Wright are other State Academy members hoping to impress through the midfield.

In defence for the Double Blues, Alex Ballard, Hannah Prenzler and Lauren Clifton are a trio of State Academy members who provide skill and drive out of the back 50, going up against the likes of Gypsy Schirmer, Jess Kirk and Sophia Flanagan-Sjoberg who have all been in great form themselves. Jorja Hooper has acquitted herself successfully in her debut season as a key forward, with the Under 16s talent showing her strength in the air and around goal, while Jaslynne Smith and Georgia Swan are among the other young talents running around for their respective teams in the match.

This game could go either way, with South likely to be favourite given their extra experience, but the Sturt defence has done well yet again to start the season, which makes it a fascinating contest.

 

Picture credit: SANFL / Cory Sutton

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