State league preview: SANFL and WAFL return sets up thrilling weekend of action

FOLLOWING a shortened round of action last weekend, state league football returns in full force as we preview a round of what should be exciting entertainment.

Victoria:

VFL action has plenty of enticing matchups scheduled for the weekend, with the first taking place at the Gabba tomorrow morning as Brisbane host Richmond in a crucial clash for both sides. With both sitting with a 2-2 record, Saturday’s match looms as a big one, as there is a big difference between 3-2 and 2-3. Both teams will come out ready to fire in what should make for a high quality matchup. Keep an eye on Lion Cam Ellis-Yolman, who was fantastic in his return to VFL last weekend. The big-bodied midfielder has plenty of talent and should prove dominant again when he faces the Tigers. Richmond big man Callum Coleman-Jones booted five snags last weekend, as his stock continues to rise, and will be a danger up forward on Saturday morning.

North Melbourne’s quest for a maiden 2021 win continues this weekend as they travel to Windy Hill to take on the Bombers on Saturday afternoon. Sitting at 0-5 to start the season, the Kangaroos will be desperate to get the monkey off their back and upset a Bombers side that will be using this game as a free hit in their minds. Young Roo Bailey Scott had a breakout showing last week with 28 disposals and will be looking to build on this moving forward. Bomber forward Patrick Ambrose kicked six goals against Frankston last round as he works his way into the season, so expect the Roos to pay close attention to him.

The VFL action moves to Sunday afternoon, where Hawthorn will head over to Ikon Park to take on Carlton in a clash which has plenty on the line for both sides. The Hawks had a big win over North Melbourne last weekend and scoring another victory this round would prove crucial in getting their season moving. Carlton sit just one win behind them – but have played one less game – and will be eager to stay with the pack ahead. Hawthorn forward Josh Morris walked away with a five-goal haul against the Roos and will be keen to hit the scoreboard as he pushes his claim for an AFL debut.

South Australia:

SANFL action kicks off on Saturday afternoon, as Sturt host Central District at Unley Oval, in a match that could shape the season of both sides. Central District remain cellar-dwellars on the bottom of the ladder, but a win this round could kickstart a season that has been underwhelming so far. Sturt currently sit in seventh place, but taking down the Lions could elevate them into the top five. Expect them to name an unchanged side, while the Lions have named a debutant in athletic Leek Alleer.

Hisense Stadium will host a vital clash as West Adelaide will welcome Woodville-West Torrens on Saturday afternoon. Just one win separates these sides, yet they sit four spots apart on the ladder, so a win would do wonders for both sides. Clearly the ladder is extremely tight after six rounds of action, so all it takes is a nice run of victories to shoot into the upper echelon. West Adelaide will regain premiership forward Jono Beech at centre half-forward, while the Eagles are yet to confirm any changes.

Two teams having contrasting seasons will clash in round seven, as Adelaide travel to Coopers Stadium to try and upset Norwood on Saturday afternoon. Adelaide’s season has been disappointing to date with a 2-4 record, while Norwood are sitting pretty with a 4-2 record. An upset seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened, and Adelaide have the firepower to do it. Norwood will be missing skipper Matthew Nunn, who will nurse an injured hamstring, while Adelaide will benefit from the additions of Elliot Himmelberg, Chris Hall and Daniel Jackson.

In an intriguing clash, Port Adelaide will face off against North Adelaide at Alberton Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Power and the Roosters are both coming off wins, and sit in fifth and sixth place respectively, so both sides will understand the importance of this clash in the context of their respective seasons. Port Adelaide will be stoked to regain the services of speedy defender Marty Frederick from AFL level, while the Roosters have not yet confirmed their changes.

Fans will have to wait until Sunday afternoon for the game of the round, as South Adelaide look to put an end to Glenelg’s undefeated streak at Flinders University Oval. Glenelg have started the season in blistering form to give themselves a 6-0 record after six rounds, but South Adelaide are just one win behind them, and have the best chance of anyone to cause an upset. Glenelg utility Brad Agnew will return to the side after overcoming an ankle injury, while South Adelaide may yet remain unchanged.

Western Australia:

The WAFL returns following last week’s hiatus due to a state game, and the round begins with Claremont travelling to New Choice Homes Park to take on East Fremantle on Saturday afternoon. Just one win separates these teams, so expect two refreshed sides to deliver a match of top-notch football action. East Fremantle have included backman Finn Gorringe into their starting 22 with the hope of shutting down Claremont’s dangerous forward line. Claremont are yet to confirm any changes to their lineup.

Also on Saturday afternoon, Peel Thunder will host West Perth at David Grays Arena in a game that holds an important result for both teams. West Perth sit two spots outside the top five, but a win here could see that gap close quite quickly, while Peel Thunder could shoot as high as third if other results go their way. Peel Thunder have regained Traye Bennell, Stefan Giro, Alex Pearce and Joel Western for the crucial clash. West Perth have included Tyler Keitel, Trent Manzone and Shane Nelson to their side.

South Fremantle’s rise up the ladder could continue on the weekend as they head to Mineral Resources Park to take on Perth on Saturday afternoon. South Fremantle have lost just the one game so far this season, and look in blistering form, so slowing them down seems a tough task. Perth have the challenge of completing this task, but following a week off, who knows what could happen? South Fremantle have brought in Jye Clark and Corey Hitchcock to bolster their midfield stocks, while Nick Suban and Dylan Main return for Perth.

Those following the ladder would know that this is a vital clash for both sides, as West Coast travel to Leederville Oval to take on East Perth on Saturday afternoon. Both teams are still searching for their first win of the 2021 season with a 0-5 record to start the year, and one of the sides will achieve that goal, while the other will see their season prospects begin to fade. West Coast’s chances will be greatly improved by the addition of AFL star Elliot Yeo, Nathan Vardy, Mark Hutchings, Kieran Hug, Luke Edwards and Luke Foley, while East Perth are yet to confirm their changes.

The final match of the seventh round of WAFL action sees Subiaco defend top spot on the ladder with a clash against Swan Districts at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday afternoon. Subiaco’s grip on first place is slowly loosening with plenty of teams closing the gap that once saw them a game clear of the competition. A loss here would be devastating as they would surely be overtaken, so this will be playing on the mind of both sides. Swan Districts have included Lewis Jetta, Matt Riggio, Jesse Turner and Warwick Wilson as they load up for a big clash, while Liam Hickmott, Hayden Kennedy and Bailey Matera return for Subiaco.

Queensland:

QAFL’s eighth round of footy kicks off at Maroochydore Multisports Complex as Wilston Grange look to cause an upset against Maroochydore when the two sides face off on Saturday afternoon. Wilston Grange sit second last on the ladder at 1-5, so a win is desperately required to get their side back on track, but they face an uphill battle taking on the third-placed Maroochydore. Wilston Grange’s Hugh Fidler has been in ripping form over recent weeks and is expected to once again deliver a strong performance for his side. Also keep an eye on Maroochydore’s Jacob Simpson who has impressed over past few rounds.

Over at Jack Esplen Oval, Morningside will play host to Palm Beach Currumbin as the two teams clash on Saturday afternoon. Morningside are up with the top echelon of the competition with a 4-1 record as they continue to set themselves for a strong finals run later in the season, while Palm Beach Currumbin currently hold a 2-3 record, so there is a clear favourite in this matchup, but nothing is certain. Morningside’s Brad Hodge delivered his best performance of the year last round, so keep an eye on if he can back it up for a second consecutive week.

Noosa’s quest for a drought-breaking win continues this weekend as they head to Southside Toyota Oval to take on a struggling Mt Gravatt side on Saturday afternoon. At 0-6, Noosa couldn’t be sitting in a worse position, but they have a great chance to change that this round, with their Mt Gravatt opponents sitting with a 1-4 record. Noosa’s Aaron Laskey has worked his way into some strong form over the past few games, so expect him to catch the eye on Saturday.

Surfers Paradise’s climb up the ladder will face a tough task in round seven as they face off against Redland-Victoria Point at Totally Workwear Park on Saturday afternoon. Coming off a bye, Surfers Paradise will be refreshed and ready to go as they look to cause a crucial boilover, but Redland-Victoria Point have been strong this season and will prove a tough egg to crack. Surfers Paradise’s fortunes lie heavily on whether they can contain opposition forward Jacob Murphy, who is fresh off a bag of five goals.

The final game of the round will see Sherwood Districts clash with Labrador at Sherwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Labrador are right in the hunt for top spot on the ladder, while Sherwood Districts’ 2-4 record sees their side eager for a win. Labrador are expected to win, but the beauty of sport is the art of an upset, so expect an interesting clash, and if Sherwood Districts’ William Fletcher can maintain his current form, a boilover could be on the cards.

Tasmania:

Round eight of the TSL kicks off with an absolute beauty on Friday night, with North Launceston hosting Launceston in a grand final rematch at UTAS Stadium. Launceston were tested against Lauderdale last weekend, but ultimately found a way to win as they so often do. Their biggest threat comes in the form of North Launceston, who are hot on their tail with just the one loss for the year. Launceston will regain duo Brodie Palfreyman and Miller Hodge to boost their chances, while utility Tom Donnelly returns for North Launceston.

North Hobart will be chasing a second win of the year as they take on the Tigers at the Kingston Twin Ovals on Saturday afternoon. The Demons fell just a solitary point shy of upsetting Clarence last weekend, so this pain will be fresh in their minds as they look to rectify this. The Tigers have faded from their blistering form to start the year, and will need to be on top of their game if they are to hold off their opponents, but if Elijah Reardon can get off the chain, it should hold them in good stead.

The final game of the round sees Lauderdale head to Blundstone Arena to take on Clarence on Saturday afternoon. Clarence escaped with a one-point triumph over cellar dwellars North Hobart, which should prove a wake-up call that any team can win at any given time. Expect them to bounce back this weekend. Lauderdale took the fight right up to Launceston last round, in a performance that should give them plenty of confidence heading into this weekend, especially if Allen Christensen can fire like we all expect.

Picture credit: The Examiner

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