2021 SANFL Women’s Preliminary Finals preview: Redlegs second chance against in-from Westies

GLENELG is in and one team will secure the second spot this weekend for the following weekend’s 2021 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Grand Final. The two teams competing for that spot are Norwood and West Adelaide who go head-to-head at Coopers Stadium tomorrow from 11am local time.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, May 29 @ 11:00am
Coopers Stadium

Only one forced change has occurred between the sides, but it is a big one, with Ailish Considine missing the Bloods’ clash due to family reasons. Four players come onto an extended bench for the visitors, with Sadie Lienert, Tiana Fernandez, Madelyn Zacher and Georgie Gray coming into the side. Norwood has not made any forced changes as of yet, with Ella Murison, Charlotte Nenke, Jessica Meachin and Gabrielle Gormlie all coming in to the team.

LAST TIME: West Adelaide 3.7 (25) defeated by Norwood 5.5 (35), Round 8

Norwood never surrendered the lead after taking it midway through the first term, but while the advantage did get out to to as much as four goals at the final break, the game never looked entirely safe. West Adelaide booted two goals in the final term to cut the deficit to eight points with six minutes on the clock, the the Redlegs steadied to win by 10.

Jess Macolino (13 disposals, six tackles, six inside 50s and two clearances), Jade Halfpenny (11 disposals, three marks, four tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s) and Sophie Armitstead (15 disposals, two marks, four tackles and three inside 50s) all worked hard roving to Leah Cutting (nine disposals, five tackles, 30 hitouts and three clearances). Alison Ferrall lead the way from defence with 13 touches, six tackles and four rebound 50s, while Ashlee Gould (nine disposals, three rebound 50s) and Morgan Johnston (eight disposals, three rebound 50s).

For West Adelaide, State Academy talents Lauren Young (16 disposals, four marks, four tackles, three clearances, six inside 50s and two rebound 50s), Zoe Venning (13 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and three rebound 50s) and Abbie Ballard (11 disposals, three clearances, two tackles and two inside 50s) were all lively, while Considine (13 disposals, three tackles, two clearances and five rebound 50s) and Sarah Dargan (15 disposals, five marks, four tackles, four clearances and four inside 50s) both showed their experience.

CHANGES SINCE:

Both teams have remained fairly stable since the Round 8 clash, with Norwood able to include Adelaide AFL Women’s midfielder Najwa Allen back into the side, as well as the likes of Shai Hiscock and Rosette Zerella. Breakthrough Player Emma Clark is one player who is missing from that winning team for this weekend after getting injured in the final week of the regular season. West Adelaide have enjoyed bringing back bottom-age talent Keeley Kustermann, as well as the dangerous Louella McCarthy, and Imogen Loftes since that loss, with Considine and Charlie Scutchings among those missing from the Round 8 encounter.

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Who will win the ruck battle between two of the most experienced talents in Leah Cutting and Kate Walsh?
  • Which Westies player will step up in the absence of Considine who has proven to be damaging at both ends?
  • Elisha Gallagher kept a tight watch on Ebony Marinoff last week, will she head to Lauren Young this weekend?
  • Can Norwood get more midfield dominance this week to hit the scoreboard more frequently?

Norwood has been the top side all year, and is deserving of a grand final spot, but West Adelaide is equally as deserving after playing some sensational football throughout the 2021 season. The Bloods have a great depth of youth, and the inclusion of Dargan with the other AFLW talents in Chelsea Biddell, while the Redlegs have very few weaknesses in the lineup, which lead them to the minor premiership. All of these factors make it set for a huge preliminary final tomorrow.

Picture credit: David Mariuz/SANFL

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