Tag: aflw 2021

Eagles soar over Geelong to record 39-point win

DESPITE a scrappy start to the game West Coast found their groove as the match got going, kicking away to a 39-point victory – their highest in history – defeating Geelong last night at Mineral Resources Park 8.5 (53) to 2.2 (14). The loss means Geelong still sit bottom of the ladder with zero wins to their name from seven outings while the Eagles have taken their season tally to two.

Controlling the play for majority of the opening term, it was inaccuracy that hindered the Eagles’ dominance only managing to record four behinds. Two of them could have sailed through for majors but desperate efforts from the Cats defence saw them touched off the boot while the other two simply did not have the accuracy. Geelong on the other hand struggled to find any form of composure with ball in hand not even registering a single behind for the opening term such was the pressure stemming from the Eagles.

After a disappointing start to the game, the Eagles well and truly flicked the switch with a dazzling quarter of football, headlined by Imahra Cameron. The West Coast forward set the field alight with her tenacity and goalkicking tendencies on full display nailing two goals in quick succession. She really set the wheels in motion as the rest of the team piggybacked off her energy and momentum to propel the ball forward and create attacking forays. Her work was not done however, popping up at the five minute mark to take a big contested grab coming in from the side and then kicking truly to push the Eagles out to a 21 point lead. Her second quarter heroics did not go unmatched with the Kelly sisters – Niamh and Grace – also plying their trade and proving to be key facilitators for the Eagles across the ground.

Goalless for the opening half of footy, the Cats were well and truly put on the back foot entering the third quarter and unfortunately it did not get any easier for the Victorian-based side as the Eagles maintained their level of composure. But some magic from Amy McDonald as the clock trickled down in the third saw the Cats get on the board. McDonald pulled out all the tricks, winning the ball out of the ruck, spinning out of a tackle and then banging it home to secure the Cats’ first major for the game. By that stage it was all still too little, too late as the home side had established a 33 point lead.

The final term continued much of the same as the Eagles pressed with their slick ball movement and speed out of the stoppage causing damage. Majority of the quarter was played between the two arcs as the ball ebbed and flowed up and down the ground with tired bodies coming to the fore. Grace Kelly nailed an impressive goal on the run to kickstart the final 15 minutes, but left the ground straight after with a suspected groin injury. Georgia Clarke added some respectability to the Cats’ scoreline with a major before Niamh really rammed home the win for West Coast to cap off an impressive performance from the Irish import.

It was hard to deny the influence of Emma Swanson who continuously popped up for the Eagles any time there was a ball to be won walking away with a team-high 21 disposals, six marks and eight tackles as Aisling McCarthy amassed 19 touches. Niamh Kelly had the ball on a string throughout the game and used her dash off half back to cause all sorts of trouble. Her ability to dart forward and utilise her speed to evade her opponents was impressive as was her strong hands, going up for multiple big pack marks finishing with 18 touches, two goals and three marks. Grace slotted two majors which accompanied her 12 touches and three tackles. Youngster Mikayla Bowen was electric (18 disposals, three marks, three tackles) while Maddy Collier contributed to the win thanks to her 18 touches.

Although it was a difficult outing for the Cats, McDonald impressed slotting the first major for her side while also collecting 24 touches and six tackles. She was ably assisted by Rebecca Webster who managed 16 touches as Renee Garing also made her mark thanks to her 13 disposals and five tackles. The ever-reliable Meg McDonald was once again a pillar of consistency despite having her work cut out for her, picking up 13 touches and three tackles.

 

WEST COAST 0.4 | 4.4 | 6.4 | 8.5 (53)
GEELONG 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)

GOALS

West Coast: I. Cameron 3, G.Kelly 2, N.Kelly 2, Caulfield,
Geelong: A. McDonald, G. Clarke

ADC Best: 

West Coast: N. Kelly, I. Cameron, G. Kelly, E. Swanson, A. McCarthy
Geelong: A. McDonald, R. Webster, M. McDonald

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 4 preview – Victorian crowds return for blockbuster fixtures

RETURNING crowds are set to light up some blockbuster fixtures in Round 4 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season, with four top-six foes locking horns while inaugural sides Melbourne and Western Bulldogs play off for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup. The ladder is beginning to take shape with four teams remaining undefeated and another four still out to claim their first points, but things can change very quickly in the middle order – starting this weekend.

Note: All start times are local.

ST KILDA (9th, 1-2) vs. GEELONG (14th, 0-3)
Friday February 19, 7:10pm
RSEA Park

Geelong will be out to break its duck in season 2021, but faces a tricky task in doing so as an away trip to face St Kilda awaits on Friday night. The Saints got on the board at the first time of asking this year but have fallen short of strong opposition since. Still, a third outing at their home of RSEA Park in four rounds should serve them well against their winless visitors from up the highway.

Both sides are set to blood debutants, with another of Geelong’s 2020 draftees in Laura Gardiner named on the bench for her maiden senior appearance, replacing Rebecca Goring (managed). St Kilda injury replacement Rebecca Ott is the game’s other debutant, brought in as part of four total changes for the Saints. While they will miss the likes of Molly McDonald (quad) and Nadia von Bertouch (foot), defender Bianca Jakobsson is among the relieving inclusions.

The Cats rank last for points scored and while the Saints have not been all that flash in converting up forward either, they should have enough firepower to boot a winning score. Geelong’s defence is known to be reasonably reliable though, so capitalising on the midfield battle will be key to either team getting on top.

Tip: St Kilda by 10

CARLTON (8th, 1-2) vs. RICHMOND (11th, 0-3)
Saturday February 20, 3:10pm
Princes Park

Traditional rivals Carlton and Richmond lock horns at Princes Park on Saturday, with the hosts eager to shake off a rough start and begin their push towards finals. A premiership hopeful coming into the season, Carlton dropped its first two games but got back on track last week and will fancy its chances against the winless Tigers. Richmond has shown some added bite in 2021 though, shoring up in defence and streaming forward more dangerously.

The Tigers have conceded no more than seven goals against some stiff opposition across the first three rounds, but have a lingering sense of rawness when it comes to their efficiency in attack. A total score of seven goals and 17 behinds does not make for good reading, and such impotence will likely prove costly against the more polished Blues, who are also quite bullish in defence.

Carlton’s strong midfield is set to play a factor too, led by reigning league best and fairest, Madison Prespakis. She may well find herself matched up by former-Blue Sarah Hosking at the centre bounces, with star Richmond ball winner Monique Conti arguably her side’s biggest threat in that department. The Blues’ dynamism and depth across the ground will also prove telling, especially if Richmond put together a good patch.

Tip: Carlton by 28

FREMANTLE (2nd, 3-0) vs. GOLD COAST (13th, 0-3)
Saturday February 20, 2:10pm
Fremantle Oval

Fremantle will fancy its chances of extending its record winning run to 11 matches on Saturday afternoon, when the Gold Coast Suns come to town looking for their first points this season. The Dockers have been in irresistible form, picking up from where they left off in 2020 with three-straight wins – including a crucial one against Adelaide last week in what was their first true test for 2021.

After a promising start against Melbourne, Gold Coast has registered a combined 10 points in its last two outings; first suffering a Q-Clash drubbing and then being edged by GWS in torrential conditions. Needless to say, scoring is a sore point for the Suns, but they have decent stock in a forwardline led by Sarah Perkins, should the ball get there. That is not to mention All Australian Kalinda Howarth, who is yet to register a goal this season.

They will need all the firepower they can get to match that of Fremantle, who have an array of scoring options. Spearhead Gemma Houghton was held relatively well last week but still managed to live up to her two-goal average, while the likes of Sabreena Duffy and Kara Antonio have also proven handy avenues forward. Gold Coast will have its hands full in midfield as well, though the reliable partnership of Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan should provide some resistance to the Kiara Bowers juggernaut.

Tip: Fremantle by 45

NORTH MELBOURNE (5th, 2-1) vs. COLLINGWOOD (3rd, 3-0)
Saturday February 20, 7:10pm
Marvel Stadium

Marvel Stadium hosts one of the games of the round as Victorian powerhouses North Melbourne and Collingwood do battle on Saturday night. Returning fans should be treated to a mouthwatering spectacle, with the elements set to play no factor in hindering North Melbourne’s slick ball movement by foot, or Collingwood’s flowing run-and-gun style under the Marvel Stadium roof.

The Magpies should come in with a great deal of confidence having passed every test put in front of them thus far, but this will easily be their biggest challenge yet. While they dropped points last week, the Kangaroos have the advantage of competing in one of the competition’s most high-level encounters, ever, putting them in good stead for this potential finals sighter.

Collingwood midfield brigade is one of the few which could well match it with North Melbourne at the centre bounces, with ball magnets Jaimee Lambert, Brittany Bonnici, and the dynamic Bri Davey all averaging over 19 disposals. North Melbourne’s depth runs a touch deeper though, with Emma Kearney, Ashleigh Riddell, and Jenna Bruton among five Roos to average over 16 touches. The other two, Jasmine Garner and Ellie Gavalas, have also booted five and four goals respectively.

Tip: North Melbourne by 5

BRISBANE (1st, 3-0) vs. ADELAIDE (6th, 2-1)
Sunday February 21, 12:10pm
Hickey Park

League frontrunner, Brisbane hosts Adelaide on Sunday afternoon in another game of the round contender, making for Brisbane’s first top six assignment this year. The Lions have been flawless thus far, albeit against three of the bottom four teams, with the league’s most potent attack and stingiest defence. Adelaide went down to Fremantle last week, but has shown its quality as a bonafide premiership threat. This, another clash of contenders, will prove telling.

The Lions’ key forward partnership of Dakota Davidson and Jesse Wardlaw has produced a combined 12 goals this season, as teams have struggled to combat their one-two punch. Add to that the speed of Greta Bodey (five goals) and Courtney Hodder at ground level, and Brisbane’s attack has plenty of bases which need covering.

Adelaide will always back its midfield, consisting of Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, and Erin Phillips to set it on the right foot, while a defence set to be bolstered by skipper Chelsea Randall should combat Brisbane’s firepower well. Having been thrown deep forward with good success last week, Phillips looms as a handy wildcard for the Crows who were incredibly wasteful inside attacking 50 last week. They will need to be on song to kick a winning score in this one.

Tip: Brisbane by 3

WESTERN BULLDOGS (7th, 2-1) vs. MELBOURNE (4th, 3-0)
Sunday February 21, 3:10pm
Whitten Oval

Pioneer clubs Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will play off for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup at Whitten Oval on Sunday afternoon, with just one game separating them so far this season. Nathan Burke‘s young pups have been ultra impressive in registering their 2-1 record, but the hardness and class of Melbourne’s undefeated side should prove a steep mountain to climb.

The Dees’ new-found scoring power and free-flowing style has been built on the back of some continued solidity in midfield, with stalwart Karen Paxman reliable as ever in 2021 alongside Lily Mithen and Tyla Hanks – all of whom average over 20 disposals per game. Up forward, a tall attack led by Tegan Cunningham has been difficult to counter in the air, while Kate Hore continues to damage at ground level.

Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn has been inspirational as ever this season, dragging her side over the line on two occasions and leading the Dogs for disposals, clearances, inside 50s, and score involvements. She is also top of the tree alongside Izzy Huntington for goals (both four), with the latter a contested marking phenomenon. Plenty of young guns, including Jessica Fitzgerald will have to step up for the Dogs here in what looms as an extremely daunting task.

Tip: Melbourne by 24

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (10th, 1-2) vs. WEST COAST (12th, 0-3)
Sunday February 21, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

Round 4’s final game sees Greater Western Sydney (GWS) hosting once again against the winless West Coast Eagles, who have proven quite plucky in patches this season. The Giants broke through last week with a 10-point win over Gold Coast, another winless side, to get some points on the board, but West Coast has thrice fallen short of the mark against quality opposition.

This presents as the Eagles’ best chance to get on the board so far in 2021, with a solid half of smothering tackling pressure against Brisbane fresh in their memory. The problems for West Coast have come via a lack of efficiency and class inside forward 50, while the Eagles’ defence has also conceded the most points of any side this season.

Young guns Bella Lewis and Mikayla Bowen have tried hard alongside Emma Swanson and ruck Parris Laurie at the centre bounces, but will be tasked with combating the dominance of powerhouse GWS pair Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson. Both have been among the top three disposal and contested ball winners in the first three rounds, but have seen their hard work come unstuck further afield. The Giants should be able to see the game out better on the basis of experience, but will have to be wary.

Tip: GWS by 11

Image Credit: (Retrieved from) North Melbourne FC

2021 AFLW Preview: Fremantle Dockers

FREMANTLE snuck up on the competition and put together a near-perfect season, eventually only being stopped by a global pandemic and a controversially premature ruling.

2020 RECAP

Fremantle might have lost a number of players to cross-state expansion side West Coast – led by star Dana Hooker – but showed they had more than the required depth to get the job done. Kiara Bowers went from strength to strength, averaging a ridiculous 14.1 tackles per game and falling one short of her century in a short season, while Hayley Miller, Ebony Antonio, Kara Antonio and Gemma Houghton all provided great support. Young guns, Mim Strom and Roxy Roux were among those who caught the eye in standout debut seasons, while Sabreena Duffy backed up her first season with a strong season.

NEW FACES

A quiet trade period in terms of inclusions showed the side to be relatively settled and ready for a second crack at the title, with the Dockers heading to the AFL Women’s Draft instead. They grabbed two elite young talents in Sarah Verrier and Mikayla Morrison, while also bringing in the likes of Maggie Maclachlan and Tiah Haynes who had shown great form throughout the WAFL Women’s season.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Providing she can have a run of luck, it will be exciting to see what Sarah Verrier can provide at the next level. Unfortunately, the teenager had injury issues that impacted her 2020 season, but she has terrific balance between inside and outside traits, and can play just about anywhere on the field. Long-term, Verrier can settle into an already impressive midfield group, and hold her own with her ball-winning ability and high-level skills.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

It is fairly straightforward to suggest the Dockers can go all the way in 2021, having been in the best position to do so in 2020 before it was called off. The only undefeated side heading into the 2020 finals series, Fremantle was destroying teams like few others, and while no doubt they could have been pushed by some – as shown by Collingwood – they were a tough, united squad.

QUESTION MARK

Could the Dockers repeat history? Any football season is long and tough, and for Fremantle, they did all the work to go undefeated and then be two wins away from a premiership that few externally saw coming. Internally the belief was clearly through the roof, but now the challenge is getting them back to that position again. They should have the hunger which is a great tick, but how will other clubs adapt to their style that saw their success ultimately unrewarded by season’s end?

FINAL WORD

Fremantle should be considered one of, if not the team to beat. Adelaide, North Melbourne and Carlton in particular all have claims to be a title contender, but the Dockers have not lost since 2019, and have such a well-balanced team that has lost little, but gained some superb young talents. Expect the purple army to be in full force this season, because it would be a shock not to see Fremantle at the pointy end of the season.

2021 AFLW Preview: Brisbane Lions

BRISBANE made a surprise finals appearance last season and will again be reaching for the stars under coach Craig Starcevich in 2021. Having continually undergone a wealth of list changes, the Lions’ squad is relatively young but more settled now and has the backing of brilliant leaders who look poised to continue their quest in proving the naysayers wrong.

2020 RECAP

The Lions were far and away the biggest surprise packet early last season, going undefeated across the first four rounds and setting the base for eventual finals qualification. A drawn Q-Clash in Round 3 was the only blemish on Brisbane’s record in that time, until a top-of-the-table clash with Fremantle sparked a string of three losses. Having gone down to the Dockers and Collingwood to end the regular season, Brisbane put up a fight against Carlton come finals time, but ultimately fell away in a game indicative of its season as a whole.

At the end of it all, the Lions had a third place finish in Conference A to show for their efforts as stalwart defender Kate Lutkins was named her side’s sole All Australian representative. The likes of best and fairest winner Emily Bates and spearhead tall forward Jesse Wardlaw enjoyed breakout seasons, helping form a good springboard for the Lions to leap off heading into 2021.

NEW FACES

Another promising draft crop should put the Lions in good stead in terms of squad depth, with a good mix of talents entering the den. Zimmorlei Farquharson headlined Brisbane’s intake at pick eight, putting her behind Gold Coast’s Annise Bradfield as the second Queenslander selected overall.

The speedy half-forward/winger is a threat on the attack; impacting both in the air and at ground level while also applying her pace going both ways. She represented her state at the Under 18 National Championships in 2018 and 2019, impressing as an under-ager and going on to win this year’s QAFLW premiership with the Yeronga Devils. The Lions Academy graduate has great versatility, a trait consistent with the remaining draftees.

Indy Tahau was the next taken at pick 37, another athletic type whose dynamism suits a range of roles. The South Adelaide tall has family ties to the Sunshine State and has already played senior football, promising to bring great competitiveness across all levels for the Lions. Mature-age recruit Ruby Svarc, the sister of 2020 standout Cathy, is another promising inclusion. The former Essendon VFLW dasher plays much like her sibling with terrific run-and-carry, moving the game forward aggressively. At 27-years-old, her readymade status suits the Lions’ upward trend.

Elsewhere, Brisbane’s only trade action saw Taylor Smith recruited from Gold Coast. The developing Suns Academy product is a tall with good athleticism and upside. Courtney Hodder was a rookie selection, while Beth Pinchin finally gets her shot at the top level as a replacement player, as Sharni Webb sits out the 2021 season due to pregnancy.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Listed at number five in Draft Central’s AFLW 10 Under 10 to watch series, Nat Grider is one to keep an eye on this year. The 20-year-old is poised to enter her third season of top flight football and after playing just twice in her maiden campaign, will be full of confidence having cemented her spot across all seven games in 2020.

The versatile 171cm defender went from strength to strength last year and now has some solid experience under her belt, making her a dependable option when shutting down opposition forwards, intercepting or rebounding out of the back half. With the potential to also play through midfield, Grider has some promising upside and came into the competition as a highly touted junior. Should she continue her upward trajectory, she could be a key player in Brisbane’s push for consecutive finals berths.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

Most point towards Brisbane’s youth upon first glance at its list, but make no mistake that the famed ‘foundation eight’ will be at the centre of their side’s premiership quest. The crew of inaugural Lions will be shaved down to seven this year with Webb’s absence, but are well represented in the leadership group with skipper Emma Zielke flanked by vice-captain Breanna Koenen, 2020 All Australian Lutkins, Shannon Campbell, and Bates. Fellow foundation members Ally Anderson and Jess Wuetschner are also set to go around once again and have proven their class across multiple seasons. Should these unmistakable leaders continue to bind together and support the Lions’ exciting youth, they could climb to the top of the tree in years to come, if not now.

QUESTION MARK

A lingering theme surrounding Brisbane’s 2020 campaign was its steep fall-off after the halfway mark. The Lions were able to lean on their mix of hardened leaders and youthful exuberance to go undefeated across the first four rounds, but came up short against some stiff opposition thereafter. Capturing greater consistency across the whole season will be key and the growing experience levels of the squad as a whole should put Brisbane in good stead. But having arguably overachieved in 2020, the question remains; will the Lions fall away again in 2021?

FINAL WORD

Brisbane is beginning to look like a settled squad after bearing the brunt of expansion, with the building blocks of a finals contender now set. Experience will count for a lot as the Lions strive to become more consistent and set the standard for a raft of promising youngsters to work towards. A better-than-expected finish in 2020 will perhaps bring some unwanted expectation, but this is a side capable of fighting and causing upsets against highly fancied teams caught lacking. Finals should again be the goal, but it will be tough.

Featured Image: Lions skipper Emma Zielke leads her side out | Credit: Brisbane Lions/AFL Media

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #1 Nina Morrison

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We conclude our countdown with our top player, Geelong’s Nina Morrison.

The top two players in our 2021 AFL Women’s 10 under 10 to watch list were clearly the standouts of the eligible talents. Both North Melbourne’s Ash Riddell and Geelong’s Morrison have the potential to be top 10 players in the competition if they live up to their potential. Unfortunately like most players in this list, injury has just impacted them thus far over their short careers, and only had one full healthy season.

For Morrison, the first pick in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft and inaugural selection at the draft by expansion club Geelong, she had a starring debut against Collingwood in Round 1 of the 2019 season. She picked up a Rising Star nomination thanks to a whopping 22 disposals, eight tackles and kicking the match-winning behind in a clear best on ground effort.

Then it was like a nightmare that no one saw coming. The incredibly talented Morrison was gone for the year, having ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at training during the week without playing another game. It meant the player many had already dubbed as the Rising Star winner and next big thing, would need to wait another 12 months before truly making a sustained impact on the competition.

While her 2020 season was very good – she played all six games – the nightmare reoccured again, with the talented midfielder doing her second ACL in the final match of the season. It was terribly bad luck for such a determined and focused young player, but instead the teenager went to work on recovering again, and just last month, she was back at full speed running as she “eyed an early return” according to coach Paul Hood in the Geelong Advertiser.

Erin Phillips managed to return in 12 months without complication, and whilst Geelong are likely to be overly cautious with the teenager given her age and having done it a second time in 12 months, there is little doubt Morrison will leave anything out there to try and get back.

It might be slightly questionable Morrison being at the top of this list if she cannot get back on the park, but on talent alone, you have to admire what she is capable of, and when she does return – which many hope is sooner rather than later – it will only be good news for everyone involved.

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #2 Ash Riddell

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number two with North Melbourne’s Ash Riddell.

It is always satisfying when researching the list and finding a star player that qualifies by just one game. North Melbourne’s Riddell is just that, having played nine games since coming to the club in 2019. Unfortunately after a star debut in Round 1 of that season, Riddell only managed a part game in her second before missing the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

In case anyone had forgotten just how good Riddell was in the 2019 debut, she had a starring season, averaging 21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.6 tackles and 3.9 inside 50s, finding her place in North Melbourne’s star-studded midfield. Having finished third in North Melbourne’s best and fairest behind Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney, Riddell showed she belonged at the top level, having missed out when she was in her teenage years. Instead, it took until she was 22 for her to be picked up by North Melbourne.

She has not wasted any time since then, and while she had that interrupted debut season, her 2020 season was superb and she ranked 11th overall in the Draft Central Top 50 Rankings for the season. Given that was effectively her first full season, it is exciting to think of what she is capable of in 2021 and beyond, and just how far she can reach having been overlooked for a number of seasons prior to North Melbourne coming into the league.

A natural ball winner, Riddell showed time and time again she was far too good for state league level, winning ridiculous amounts of disposals at VFL Women’s level, and being a hardnut at the contest, whilst spreading well and creating plays down the field. A real consistent player across the board, Riddell will only be strengthened by the return of Jess Duffin as North Melbourne remains a huge contender for the AFL Women’s flag.

Unlike most players on this list, Riddell could no longer fall into the category of “underrated”, and is easily amongst the Top 20 talents in the league on her day, and will be looking to continue her 2020 form into 2021.

Picture credit: AFL Women’s

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #3 Darcy Guttridge

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number three with St Kilda’s Darcy Guttridge.

When thinking about players who have played less than 10 AFL Women’s games, there was a certain double-take when it came to the third ranked player on the list. St Kilda’s Guttridge crossed to the expansion club from Collingwood over the previous off-season, where she played five games in the red, black and white. It was two more than her three matches in the black and white, having had a first year curtailed by injury in 2018.

Having now played three seasons, Guttridge has only managed the eight games, but with a clean run at it, expect the talented utility to add plenty more over time. Having made her debut in Round 5, 2019 and playing the remaining matches for the Magpies before opting to join the Saints, Guttridge played up forward after being a defender for her junior career.

Coming out of Gippsland Power where the Magpies picked her up with selection nine in the 2017 AFL Women’s National Draft, Guttridge has the versatility to play anywhere as she showed with both St Kilda and in the VFL Women’s. What makes Guttridge such a valuable player is her run and dare to take the game on, using the ball well, and having the composure to pick out targets down the field.

A nature leader having captained her club and state sides at junior level, Guttridge is one player that has so much upside and could become one of the top players in the competition. A key cog in St Kilda’s line-up, given the Saints have so much talent up forward, the ex-Power player could slot in off half-back or along a wing and use her precision skills to deliver cleanly inside 50. The fact she got forward and booted two goals for the Saints last season further shows off her versatility.

While she is still adapting to the elite level after injury issues early on in her career, Guttridge is one of those underrated players who could be a huge surprise packet in 2021 with her second consecutive full preseason behind her.

Picture credit: St Kilda AFLW

AFLW: Players to watch from your club in 2021 – Part 2

As we lead into the 2021 AFL Women’s season, we are highlighting the top players to watch from each club. In Part 1 Draft Central highlighted key players to keep an eye out for from Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood and Fremantle as some big names across the AFLW world return ahead of Round 1 for pre-season. With all of this in mind, here is Part 2 of the series detailing our top players to watch from each club in 2021.


Geelong: Meg McDonald
McDonald won Geelong’s 2019 best and fairest after courageously playing the final three games of the season with a stress fracture in her foot. Her injury woes continued in 2020, as she had to miss the first two rounds with a finger fracture. She produced a strong output when she returned, averaging 14 disposals, four marks, two rebound 50s and two tackles across four matches. The former Bulldog is a great intercept mark and reliable mover of the ball. Expect McDonald to make a significant impact in her fourth AFLW season and be one of the favourites for Geelong’s best and fairest once again.

Gold Coast: Kalinda Howarth
Howarth was one of the unexpected stars of the 2020 AFLW season. The crafty forward kicked nine goals in seven matches, including a four-goal haul against West Coast and three goals in the drawn QClash. She also found plenty of the ball and applied some strong tackling pressure, all of which helped her earn a selection in the 2020 AFLW All-Australian team. The 21-year-old will hope to build on that momentum and lead the Suns to their first finals victory in 2021.

GWS: Alyce Parker
One of AFLW’s youngest stars, 19-year-old Parker was her side’s best midfielder in 2020. She averaged an impressive 21 disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s, with her strongest performance coming in round six against the Crows when she had 30 disposals, seven marks and three tackles. GWS were a strong side that finished second in their conference, which only made it more impressive that Parker led the club in disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, clearances, score involvements, inside 50s and rebound 50s. Parker made the All-Australian side for her efforts and looks set to take the next step by challenging for AFLW’s best and fairest award in 2021.

Melbourne: Tyla Hanks
Hanks is undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s brightest young stars and looks set for a huge year in 2021. She had a fantastic second season in 2020, earning more midfield minutes after starting her AFLW career as a forward. The 20-year-old led her side for tackles with an average of just below five per game, and she also averaged ten disposals. Expect her to spend even more time in the middle in 2021 and really showcase that go-get it mentality.

North Melbourne: Grace Campbell
Campbell was a surprise inclusion for North Melbourne over the trade period and will immediately add to a midfield that already includes the likes of Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney. Coming from Richmond, Campbell has strong contested ball traits and makes good decisions under pressure at stoppages. She averaged 12 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s in her debut season. Expect her to build on this and help the Kangaroos contend for the 2021 premiership.

Port Melbourne earns VFLW licence for 2021 in revamped Victorian structure

PORT Melbourne will field a Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side for the first time next season after the Borough was accepted into the competition following Richmond’s decision to withdraw in 2021. The decision came yesterday with a landmark announcement that VFL Women’s competition will run concurrently with the AFL Women’s competition in February next year. The move allows players from the Victorian AFL Women’s clubs to get match practice under their belts without having to rely on just training sessions when not selected for their club.

South Australia was a trailblazer in that approach, having much success over the past few years allowing Adelaide Crows players to represent their South Australia National Football League (SANFL) Women’s side when not picked to play for the Crows. More recently, Queensland applied a similar approach for the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Women’s competition with the introduction of Gold Coast Suns coming into the top league.

Port Melbourne previously played in the AFL South Eastern Women’s Division 1 competition, but has strong ties through the state league with its rich history of its VFL Men’s side. The Borough will play at ETU Stadium, also known as North Port Oval, and will be aligned with Richmond. It means that the Tigers’ AFL Women’s players will pull on the Port Melbourne colours in the competition in 2020.

Port Melbourne CEO Paul Malcolm said on the Port Melbourne website that the alignment was a fantastic opportunity for both clubs.

“We are looking forward to working together with Richmond to create a pathway for women looking to live out their football dream,” he said. “Our club and our existing partnerships with Bendigo Women’s Football Club, St Michaels Grammar, Oakleigh Chargers, Port Colts, and the Tommy Lahiff Cup will benefit greatly from the alignment and our entry into the VFLW.”

The VFL Women’s competition will run beyond the AFL Women’s season, from February through to July.

The other announcement was that the 2020 NAB League Girls competition would be brought forward slightly to also run concurrently with the VFL Women’s and AFL Women’s competitions. In 2020, the NAB League Girls started on February 29, but that will be brought forward four weeks to allow it to run over the same time as the AFL Women’s competition.

It also means the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships will be brought forward to April, 2021 from its usual July date. More information about the competitions will be announced in the future.

Picture: Port Melbourne website

Brown becomes the first Collingwood father-daughter pick

A TRIO of Browns are set to grace the Holden Centre in 2021 as the youngest of the Brown siblings, Tarni Brown joins the black and white. Following in her father’s footsteps, Eastern Ranges star and now Collingwood draftee, Brown is the first father-daughter selection in Collingwood’s history – a moment that felt a little surreal for the youngster.

“It didn’t feel quite real at the start,” Brown said. “I trained down there bit last year and early this year so I already had a bit of a feel for it but it just really came true and I got the call and everything so that was pretty cool.”

Brown decided that she needed a change in her sporting life and given that football has been ingrained in her from a young age given the family history, it is no surprise she picked up the oblong-shaped ball. Brown’s father, Gavin Brown is a well-known name amongst footy fans, especially one-eyed Collingwood supporters given his illustrious career with the club that resulted in 254 games and multiple Copeland trophies. Brown’s brothers Callum and Tyler are into their fourth and second seasons respectively with the Pies.

“Well I played basketball my whole life so I didn’t start footy until I was about 14 or 15,” she said. “So it was probably my basketball, dreaming of footy just wanted to try a different sport. And then I ended up liking it, just as much or nearly more than basketball.”

Receiving plenty of pointers along the way from her family, Brown is determined to make her own path and use her own attributes, ones she picked up from years of basketball to have an influence on the footy field.

“Yeah, I definitely reckon being a basketballer helped with my footy and just, my skills of being able to get out of tight situations, so that definitely all came from my basketball,” she said.

A couple of other key on-field attributes are the speed and agility Brown approaches her footy with, constantly on the lookout for opportunities to run freely into open space and create opportunities for her teammates. However, the youngster did make note of a few areas she wants to hone in on prior to the AFLW season commencing.

“Just trying to perfect my kicking. That’s something I’ve been working on a lot recently so I’m just aiming to get that really good so I can make sure I hit my targets properly and also my goal kicking for going into a more elite level,” Brown said.

Elevated to a leader at the Ranges, Brown noted that it was her on-field actions that set the tone, as the typically quiet footballer focused on playing her role and letting others follow, rather than direct the traffic.

“It was pretty cool. I’ve been at Ranges for three years and I was always a pretty quiet player so I was pretty happy to be able to get named a leader, so obviously not for being the loudest player but maybe just for showing different sort of attributes to the girls,” she said.

“I probably try to lead them obviously not so much for my voice but get around like the younger girls and lead them by the way I play, just being a team player, and like, trying to get on. Probably more so in that way.”

Securing that position on Collingwood’s list is just one of many goals that Brown has ahead of the AFLW season as she looks towards running out in the black and white in season 2021.

“My next goal will be to make my debut at Collingwood and then just play the best footy I can and then once I get that, I’ll make some new goals of what I want to do,” she said.

When asked about whether she was nervous to take the next step up to that elite level of football, Brown highlighted that she was more excited for the challenge and was keen to play against some of the best in the business. One player that she noted was Richmond’s Monique Conti, who is renowned for her classy movement, attack on the footy and all-round footy smarts.

“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous but probably more excited to see how I match up against like older and bigger girls and just see how much improvement I need to get to be at that level,” she said.

“It’d be pretty cool to get the opportunity to play against Monique Conti, she’s the one person who obviously everyone knows how good she is so she’s the one person I’d really like to play against for sure,” Brown said.

Much like many Melburnians it has been a challenging time for Brown, with the youngster not only having to contend with the lockdown but so too the absence of her two brothers and father who were away with their respective AFL clubs up in the Queensland hubs.

“I have my school work to keep me busy obviously my family’s been away, not my mum but my brothers and my dad have all been away so it’s been pretty quiet,” Brown said. “But just studying, going up the oval, kicking with friends and running, trying to stay fit all things like that.”

“For me I find, getting out and going for a run, probably more relaxing than anything. It’s better than just being at home with nothing to do so I prefer to stay busy and go out, go for a kick and things like that.”

“Yeah, it’s very quiet for sure, missing the boys, I’ve got dad back but really missing Cal and Tyler so I’m excited for them to come home,” Brown said. “But they usually have a lot to say at home so that’s different too, but just calling and facetiming them a lot. But excited to get them back.”

For many of the Collingwood faithful the signing of Brown is a momentous occasion with no one prouder than her father, according to the new recruit.

“He said is very proud of, not just me but Cal and Tyler as well, all three of us so he’s pretty happy to have all three of us down there and yeah just obviously proud as well.”