State Leagues Preview: All competitions in full swing

STATE league Aussie rules football is in full swing as we approach round four for most competitions this weekend. With eye-catching matchups galore, expect a weekend chock full of exciting clashes.

VFL

The new-look Victorian Football League (VFL) kicked off its 2021 season last weekend, with a different looking fixture than previous years. Interstate AFL affiliated clubs Gold Coast, Sydney, Brisbane and GWS joined the competition and shook things up a bit. Round 1 delivered what many Victorian football fans had been waiting for and expect more of this in Round 2.

Brisbane and Carlton face off this weekend with plenty of players looking to stake a claim at an AFL spot. Blue Will Setterfield is one to watch this weekend, after tagging Jacob Dawson last weekend. The former top five draft pick has found himself on the outer at Carlton as the club looks to settle on a best 22, and Setterfield’s new role as a run-with player could see him enter calculations once again. As for who he will tag, that question remains up in the air. Lions Rhys Mathieson and Devan Robertson both had stand out performances last week, so if not recalled, expect one of them to receive a bit of attention.

Rivals Collingwood and Essendon will also clash this weekend in the traditional ANZAC round. With AFL sides for this round not announced until later this weekend, the sides are not yet confirmed. Both clubs’ AFL affiliate have been struck with injuries so expect very different lineups to last weekend. If not selected for a recall, American Pie Mason Cox will be relishing the opportunity to tear the game apart this week. Dropped from the AFL side in the last couple of weeks, Cox will be eager to earn a return, and there is no better time to prove his worth than this weekend. Following a disappointing 11-goal defeat last weekend, Essendon will be looking to bounce back in Round 2. Don Andrew Phillips impressed in the ruck last weekend and will hope to continue this form.

The Gold Coast Suns and the Sydney Swans will do battle in a Saturday morning clash at the Council Training Oval. Both interstate sides will be continuing to adjust to life in the VFL instead of their respective competitions in their home states. Looking to put his hand up for a recall, Swans ruckman Callum Sinclair will be desperate to standout at VFL level and he started this last weekend, with 34 hitouts and 17 disposals. The Suns shouldn’t lose too many players to their AFL side with no fresh injuries so expect a similar lineup to last week. Suns recruit Rory Atkins had 26 disposals in his first game for the reserves last week and should prove a class above given his AFL experience.

 

South Australia

A Friday night match kicks off proceedings for Round 4 in the SANFL this weekend with West Adelaide hosting Norwood at Hisense Stadium. Following a 50-point loss last weekend, West Adelaide have made plenty of changes in an attempt to conjure a response out of their side. Last week’s inclusion Sam May has succumbed to a hamstring injury, while Josh Koster and Mitch Maguire have been omitted. Five players have been added to the 25-man squad, including potential debutants Nick Steele and Lucas Meline. Norwood have also made a statement at selection, with gun wingman Dom Barry dropped following the side’s disappointing 92-point loss in Round 3. Both sides will be desperate to improve on last week’s performance, and there is no better opportunity.

Central Districts will take on Adelaide at X Convenience Oval on Saturday afternoon as both sides look to improve on their 1-2 record. Central Districts will lose utility Fraser Fort to injury, opening up a spot for another big man to come into the side, which will be trimmed by three prior to the opening bounce. The Crows side is yet to be determined, with AFL emergencies to be added in the near future. Two outs have already been confirmed with former Richmond midfielder Daniel Jackson rested after a 21-disposal outing, while crafty forward Ben Davis injured.

South Adelaide will be looking to maintain top spot on the ladder with a win over this week’s opponents in Sturt, as they play host at Flinders University Stadium on Saturday. South Adelaide young gun Jason Horne has been named to line up in an AFL academy match this weekend, so the Panthers will be without him this weekend. Talented youngster Fraser Turner has been named on the extended bench and could make his debut. Sturt will be without former Crow Pat Wilson after the midfielder hurt his shoulder in the second term last round, and his return date is yet to be confirmed. In better news for Sturt, key defender Sam Smith will debut after an ACL injury ruled him out for 2020. Tasmanian Jared Dakin could also make his debut, named on the extended bench.

Glenelg will be looking to start the season 4-0 with a victory over Port Adelaide on Saturday, who are searching for their second win of the season. With no forced changes, Glenelg have named three potential debutants on the bench in the form of Brady Searle, Brodie Newman and Will Chandler, who have all performed strongly at reserve level. Port’s side will be heavily influenced by its AFL side’s line up, with only two named on the bench so far and the AFL emergencies yet to be added.

In the final game of the round, Woodville-West Torrens will welcome North Adelaide to Maughan Thiem Kia Oval in search of their third win. Woodville-West Torrens will gain some handy inclusions in the form of Troy Menzel and Angus Poole, but will lose Dane McFarlane to a calf issue. North Adelaide will be hoping to carry forward the momentum they gained after last week’s thumping 92-point win over Norwood. Someone will have to replace Frank Szekely who was injured in the win. In the frame for a debut is midfielder Kaine Mercovich, who will be hopeful he can make his first appearance at league level.

Tasmania

It’s a battle of the Bombers to open the round four action, with Lauderdale hosting North Launceston in an important clash for both sides. With both teams sitting at a less than desirable 1-2 record, the opportunity to move up the ladder with a win will make an exciting contest. Lauderdale have omitted pair Benjamin Steinbauer and Jarrod Westell and welcomed Joshua Williams and Sam Tilley after a three goal loss to Glenorchy last week. North Launceston have made four changes after last week’s loss to Clarence. Utility Tom Donnelly returns to the side following a stint in North Melbourne’s VFL side last week, while Jack Avent, Brandon Leary and Ryley Sanders join him in returning to the side. Oscar Van Dam, Daniel Withers, Angus Jefferies and Matthew Cossins are the outs.

Following a disappointing loss to Launceston last week, the Tigers have the chance to put themselves back on the winners list with a game against Glenorchy on Saturday, who are fresh off a win. The Tigers were humbled by the reigning premiers in round three and have made changes to rectify this. Thomas Dwyer and Benjamin Donnelly were dropped for in favour pair Marcus Gardner and George O’Neill. Meanwhile, Glenorchy have included Bayley Bester and Braidy Simpson for Cameron Goodsell and Darrean Wyatt.

A North Hobart side looking for their first win will have to take on the tough task of slowing down Launceston at North Hobart Oval this weekend. Launceston delivered a statement performance last week against the Tigers, showing the competition that they will once again be tough to stop, while North Hobart will still be thinking about their disappointing loss against North Launceston in round two. Fresh off the bye, they will be eager to notch their first win, and their five changes this week show this. Riley Higgins, Logan Elphinstone, Keegan Ryan, Isaac Mathewson and Dominic White have entered the side in exchange for Josch Bingham, Jonty Barwick, Nathan Hardy, Joshua Hilder and Austin Keeling. Launceston stand-in skipper and star midfielder Jake Hinds will not play due to suspension, while Miller Hodge and Jacob Boyd will also miss. They are replaced by Hamish Leedham, Colby McKercher and Zach Morris.

Queensland

Redland-Victoria Point and Palm Beach Currumbin will open the ANZAC weekend round in the QAFL at Totally Workwear Park on Saturday. Redland-Point Victoria fell to Labrador by just over three goals last round, and a second win on the board would make a huge difference, with the ladder positioning incredibly tight after three rounds. Full-forward Harrison Kerr kicked four goals last week and should attract the best defender this week, opening opportunities for other forwards such as Matthew Warren to back up his strong performance from last week. Palm Beach Currumbin found their first win of the season last week with a 27-point triumph over Noosa. Mitchell Johnson’s four goal haul has surely caught the eye of opposition coaches, who will put some work into stopping him.

Sherwood District will be keen to bounce back from last week’s disappointing performance with a win over the in form Broadbeach this weekend. Sherwood District were embarrassed by Surfers Paradise, eventually defeated by 88 points. Jack Austin was a shining light on a dark day and his teammates will be hoping he can back up this showing. Broadbeach continue to do their thing, knocking off Morningside by 53 points last weekend. Bradley Lowe will once again be dangerous on the wing after a best on ground performance.

Its fourth place taking on sixth place as Surfers Paradise hosts Labrador at Sir Bruce Small Park on Saturday in an important clash. Both sides sit on 1-1 on the season, and a win here would prove vital in regards to ladder position. Both sides found their way to over 100 points last weekend and this should be a high scoring affair once again. Will Labrador’s Blair Rubock get off the chain again after four goals last week, or will Surfers Paradise’s balanced forward line get the better of their opponents again?

A refreshed Winston Grange side will be eager to move themselves up the ladder as they host a Morningside team that will be out to make up for last weekend’s disappointing showing. Winston Grange had the bye last week and currently sit in ninth place on percentage, but a win would shoot them up into the top half of the ladder in no time. Morningside’s recent loss will be fresh in their minds as they will once again look for Nathan Colenso in the forward line, who has started the year with six goals in two games.

Noosa’s quest to find their first win of the season will be made all the more difficult as they take on the top of the table Maroochydore at the Maroochydore Multisports Complex on Saturday afternoon. Noosa put up a brave fight against Palm Beach Currumbin, but ultimately couldn’t muster enough scoring opportunities to keep up with their opponents and fell by just under five goals. Scoring will be a focal point as they take on a red hot Maroochydore side who have started the season 2-0. Forward Jake Warren will play a key role, kicking five goals in the first two games and will surely be looking to add to that tally this weekend.

 

Western Australia

West Perth will be looking to follow up last week’s heartbreaking loss with a win over East Fremantle this weekend to kick off round four WAFL action. West Perth were defeated by Subiaco by a devastatingly small margin, with Subiaco walking away three-point winners. The players will be still hurting from this, eager to put the result in the past with a win on Saturday. Sam Rotham will not be lacing up the boots for West Perth, with Tyson Moulton his confirmed replacement. East Fremantle are yet to confirm any changes to the side that defeated East Perth last weekend.

Swan Districts will clash with South Fremantle in what should be an exciting match, with both sides sitting on the same win/loss record. Both sides are 2-1 after three rounds, and are sitting in similar positions, with both notching a win last week. Swan Districts backman William Collins will return to the lineup and the club is yet to confirm who will make way. South Fremantle ruckman Brock Higgins will return for his side along with backman Jason Maskos with the bench yet to be finalised.

Claremont’s undefeated streak continued last weekend, as they sit 3-0 in second place on the ladder. They take on Peel Thunder, who were outplayed by South Fremantle to make them 1-2 on the season. Claremont’s Harrison Mccracken is fresh off a four-goal haul last weekend and should have a say in the scoring of this match. The team lineups are yet to be confirmed at time of publication.

Two sides in the midst of very different seasons, West Coast will be hopeful of handing Subiaco their first loss of the season, while finding their first win. Subiaco scraped past West Perth by less than a goal, as they show they can consistently find a way to win. West Coast are having a very different year, starting the season 0-3 as their lineup consistently changes with AFL selections. They will also have their hands full containing Subiaco duo Ben Sokol and Jordan Faraone, who combined for eight goals in the round three win. The team lineups are yet to be confirmed at time of publication.

The final game of the round has plenty of implications for the ladder, with eighth place Perth taking on 10th (and last) placed East Perth. If East Perth can muster a win, it could kickstart their season, while a win for Perth could put them in the top five. With lots on the line for both sides, expect a close battle.

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