2021 SANFL Women’s Round 9 preview: Panthers load up for clash with red-hot Redlegs

TWO late morning games and two evening games mark a huge Round 9 of action in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. STURT
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:30am
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval

Opening the round is unfairly a bottom two clash, with both Woodville-West Torrens and Sturt both playing pretty well this season. The Eagles’ percentage is quite low as the lowest scoring team, though they are just a win outside the eight. A victory here and results going the right way, and the Eagles would be fifth, but the same could be said for the Double Blues, who a fortnight ago showed they could score, and have been their reliable selves defensively to boast the best percentage in the bottom four, but are a point behind the two teams above them. From a State Academy perspective, Charlotte Dolan has proven to be able to play in multiple positions, having started at half-back, spent time on the wing, even gone inside and then played forward at the AFLW Under 19 Championships. Having been named on a forward flank again, the Eagles will be looking for her fierce intent to be a factor, particularly against Double Blues’ captain Maya Rigter. The other State Academy member to watch is Jamie Parish, with the versatile tall named on a wing for the second week in a row, but is more than capable of slotting in up forward or in defence. For future years, Shineah Goody is shaping as a classy prospect with plenty of versatility and an ability to create something out of nothing. For the Double Blues, the forward line is swarming with State Academy members, as Zoe Prowse has been named at full-forward with defenders-cum-forwards Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard either side of her, and Georgia Swan on a flank. It means a very exciting front 50 for the Double Blues, and the game could genuinely go either way.

NORWOOD vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:30am
Coopers Stadium

Norwood has been dealt a blow ahead of its massive clash with South Adelaide, losing 50-gamer Leah Cutting to injury, whilst in-form Ella Murison is also out of the side. The Panthers have lost Lauren Clifton and Lucy Northcott among five changes, but have stacked their side with Jordann Hickey and Indy Tahau returning from Queensland, Teah Charlton and Hannah Munyard from AFL Women’s seasons completing, and Jess Kirk back in the side. Norwood has proven to accept any challenge thrown at the Redlegs, but without Cutting, Montana McKinnon and Soriah Moon will have the run of the mill around the ground. Jade Halfpenny is enjoying a terrific season for the Redlegs, playing through the midfield and rotating forward, while Sarah Branford had one of her best games of the season last week. Lana Schwerdt has been impressing as another young talent coming through, whilst Jess Macolino, Sophie Armitstead and Morgan Johnston have been consistently amongst the best. Even outside the changes, the Panthers have a lineup that is ready to shoot up the ladder, as AFL Women’s Academy talent Gypsy Schirmer has been named at half-back, and Tahlita Buethke in the middle coming off her best game last round. Nicole Campbell and Cheyenne Hammond are completing a star-studded midfield, whilst future key forward talent Jorja Hooper is in great form as well. The Panthers have bulked up and would be favourites to break the Redlegs seven-game winning streak, but if Norwood can beat this Panthers outfit without Cutting, then they are the clear premiership favourites.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Saturday, May 1 @ 4:10pm
Prospect Oval

North Adelaide and Glenelg are both starting to filter their AFL Womens’ talent back, with Amber Ward and Ash Woodland (North) and Caitlin Gould (Glenelg) all returning. The teams have opted not to unleash midfield guns Anne Hatchard (North) and Ebony Marinoff (Glenelg) just yet, though up-and-comer Piper Window has returned for the Bays with Lucy Armitage a key out for the visitors at Prospect Park. North Adelaide got back on the winners list last week to sit third, tantalisingly just behind the second placed Bays. With Ward back to provide support for Kristi Harvey, the Roosters defence is starting to look impenetrable again. Last year’s leading goalkicker Woodland will only be better for the AFLW experience, as Katelyn Pope has already been back in the side. Young guns Kate Case, Julia Clark and bottom-ager Amelie Borg have all been named in the side, with interest around where Borg will play based on the return of Ward to the key defensive post. Kelly Barltrop, Kathryn Reynolds and Tayla Thorn are a damaging trio up front, with Brianna Arthur also in form rolling through the midfield. For the Bays, Brooke Tonon has put together a fantastic season in multiple positions, but came off half-back last week, with Tessa Kohn, Ellie Kellock and Jessica Bates all having racked up the ball and taken control of the midfield. It will be a tough ask against a strong Roosters outfit, though with Gould named at full-forward, the Bays midfield will have a tall target to kick to. Tamsyn Morriss is the other State Academy member who has been named on the bench, but expect her to rotate through the defence in what should be a cracking contest.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, May 1 @ 5:10pm
Hisense Stadium

The final game of the round pits two exciting young teams up against each other, with the fourth placed Central District taking on the sixth placed West Adelaide at Hisense Stadium, Both teams have State Academy members returning, with Scarlett Griffiths at West Adelaide, and Laitiah Huynh at Centrals coming back into their respective lineups. Louella McCarthy (West) and Alicia Butler (Central) are another couple of key inclusions for the respective sides, with AFLW talent and youngsters across the park. From a young gun perspective, West Adelaide’s Lauren Young will continue her outstanding debut season, teaming up with AFL Women’s talents Sarah Dargan and Ailish Considine in the midfield. Chelsea Biddell and Melanie Elsegood are named as the key forwards, with State Academy members, Zoe Venning and Abbie Ballard inside 50. Venning will have the freedom to roll through the midfield but also be a leading target up forward, whilst Ballard is in her second game back from long-term injury. For the Bulldogs, Huynh slots straight back into half-forward, joining forces with fellow State Academy member Lauren Breguet inside 50, while up the other end, Madison Lane has been named off a half-back flank. Nicole Mark has had an impact since crossing from South Adelaide, and the key forward pairing of Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds has proven to be effective, while Caitlen Teague, Shelby Smith and Lauren Smith have worked well with in-form ruck Isabelle Starmer. Chloe Scheer returning to the side last week proved a masterstroke, with the AFL Women’s talent starring in a best on ground performance. This has all the hallmarks of being a cracking contest.

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

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