Tag: Aliesha Newman

2021 VFLW Round 9 preview: Youngsters set for debut as AFLW talent filters back

SEVERAL NAB League Girls players make their Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s debuts in Round 9, as more AFL Women’s talents filter back to the state league competition.

ESSENDON vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

In the opening game of the round, Essendon and Carlton clash at Windy Hill in a weekend that will see plenty of opportunities for the rivals to go head-to-head. Ruby Svarc is a crucial in for the Bombers returning after spending her season in Queensland with the Brisbane Lions, and she could well be given the job on Grace Egan who makes her return to state level for the Blues. Searching for a win against a pretty impressive Bombers outfit this season, Carlton has also added Abbie McKay to the side, with the likes of Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans steady in the defence. Georgia Nanscawen has overcome the injury that kept her out for the past couple of weeks, whilst Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell is back for another week, with Pioneers teammate Jemma Finning named as an emergency and expected to make a VFLW debut in the coming weeks. The Bombers will be favoured in this clash with the return of Nanscawen and playing at home.

DAREBIN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 1 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder clash at midday, with the one-win Darebin team taking on a Port Melbourne side coming off its first loss to Casey Demons last week. After gaining Jess Dal Pos back from AFL Women’s last week, the Falcons will be keen to give it all they have against a pretty strong Borough outfit. Nicole Callinan has been an important inclusion for Darebin this season, with Stephanie Simpson and Samara David targets up forward. The Borough just have so much depth, and an incredible forward line led by key targets, Sabrina Frederick and Emily Harley, and reliable source of goals from Sophie Locke. Sophie Molan has returned to state level for the visitors, with GWS GIANTS’ Katherine Smith also set to make her debut for Port Melbourne, in a team that has some how found a way to get stronger. Given the inclusions for the Borough, it is hard to see them dropping this game, but it will be a great test for the Falcons.

GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 1 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

In the longest road trip of the season for the Western Bulldogs, the back-to-back winners take on an in-form Geelong outfit who remain in contention for a top two spot in this season. Since the AFL Women’s season has concluded, the Western Bulldogs have not mucked around with rotating their elite talents, and whilst Elisabeth Georgostathis rotates out of the side this week, the visitors will welcome back Isabella Grant, Isabelle Pritchard and Annabel Strahan, while Jess Fitzgerald has cheekily been named as an emergency so could well be coming into the side soon. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods comes back into the team after her three-goal debut a fortnight ago, and she will be joined by Caitlin Sargent (four goals in NAB League last week) and Trinity Skenderis. The Cats have kept a strong midfield, but have brought in Amy McDonald, whilst giving Sophie Van de Heuvel a rest. Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner still form a dominant group in there, and with Stephanie Williams, Georgia Clarke and the return of Richelle Cranston up forward, the Cats have plenty of firepower. This is a really tight game, and Geelong should be favourites, but the strength of the Bulldogs team means the visitors could cause an upset and make it three wins on the trot.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

Casey Demons showed what they are capable of last week by rolling Port Melbourne to inflict the Borough’s first defeat of the season, whilst North Melbourne dominated Carlton, keeping the Blues to just one goal for the game. With the teams coming into good form, on paper it looks to be a great match but the Demons have really stacked their side with AFL Women’s talent, as Libby Birch, Brenna Tarrant and Shelley Heath are named in defence, Eden Zanker joined Maddison Gay in the midfield, and Alyssa Bannan and Casey Sherriff are up forward. The Roos have mostly kept a consistent lineup of players on the cusp of AFLW footy, though Beth Lynch is an important cog in defence. Bella Eddey is getting some extra minutes running around for the VFLW team, whilst Jayde Hamilton returns from the AFLW Under 19 Championships to play alongside sister Alexia. If North Melbourne can get up in this one it will be the Roos’ best scalp of the season, but with Essendon sniffing around Casey’s recently acquired fourth spot, the Demons must hold onto the place by winning this one.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Downer Oval

Williamstown is the next challenger up to try and knock off Collingwood as the undefeated Magpies rose in the final term to see off Essendon and grab another win in Round 8. The Magpies have plenty of reasons to get up in this game, with 2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid behind the helm of the 2019 wooden spooners side this season. She will have her work cut out for her against a red-hot Magpies lineup, which features both Amelia Velardo and Aliesha Newman who copped knocks last week but have recovered to play. Abbi Moloney returns to the side with Joanna Lin, Maddi Shevlin and Imogen Purcell among the other Collingwood AFLW talents outside the two key forwards in Sophie Alexander and Bella Smith. The Seagulls have some terrific VFLW talent, with Erin Meade, Megan Williamson, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players in the competition, but it will be whether or not they can make the most of their chances as the Pies will give their forwards plenty, particularly after the form of Marla Neal last week who shone in the win at The Hangar. Hard to see the Pies dropping this one, though the Seagulls are strong defensively and will not make it easy for them.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 2 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

The standalone Sunday fixture pits the sixth placed Southern Saints in a must-win fixture against Hawthorn who got up in Meg Hutchins‘ 250th match last week. The Saints cling onto the lowest finals spot – albeit with plenty of time left in the season – and will need to win this one to give themselves some security there. However the Hawks have some tall targets in Hutchins and Tamara Luke up forward, with the dangerous Kristy Stratton and Jessie Williams capable of kicking multiple goals. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae makes her debut for the brown and gold following the conclusion of the NAB League Girls’ season, with another former Gippsland leader in Maddi Shaw running around for the brown and gold. Georgia Bevan, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch have plenty to prove in this game as they look for another chance at AFL Women’s level, with the latter two having played for the Saints at this level earlier this season. For the Saints, they went down to the reformed Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval last Friday and will look to bounce back with Tara Bohanna and Renee Saulitis providing that tall and small option inside 50. Alice Burke and Tahlia Meyer rack up the ball each and every week, and Hannah Stewart has been enjoying a nice season this year at VFLW level. This game could go either way with the Saints ranked higher, but the Hawks are forming a really strong list as the season goes on.

2021 VFLW Round 8 wrap: Dogs move within range of top six as Casey topple Borough

PORT Melbourne suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of a stacked Casey Demons outfit, while Western Bulldogs continued to make their move towards the top six, defeating Southern Saints under lights to kick off Round 8 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

>> VFL WOMEN’S PAGE

WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 | 1.4 | 2.8 | 4.10 (34)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)

Under lights at Whitten Oval, the Western Bulldogs well and truly made up for their last game in the same time slot earlier in the season, taking care of the Southern Saints by 18 points. It was a crucial win for the Bulldogs, who moved to within percentage of the top six, and despite not scoring in the first term, booed three goals to one in the second half to secure the 4.10 (34) to 2.4 (16) victory. They arguably could have won by more with 14 scoring shots to six, though it was the impressive work of Nell Morris-Dalton and Danielle Marshall up front who did the damage, slotting two majors each. Elisabeth Georgostathis and Ellyse Gamble combined for 48 disposals, whilst the defence of Simone Ruedin, Sarah Hartwig and Brooke Hards were instrumental in the win. Angelica Gogos had another strong game in her second match back, while for the Saints, debutant Jemma Radford stood tall with some nice highlights. AFLW-listed players Molly McDonald and Alice Burke were busy, as Tahlia Meyer also feasted upon her debut in the VFLW side, sharing 53 disposals with Burke. Deanna Jolliffe was named best on for the Dogs, kicking one of their two goals, while Rebecca Neaves was also impressive in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

>> Bulldogs out of the dog house and off the leash

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton 2, D. Marshall 2.
Southern Saints: K. Ripari, D. Jolliffe.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, A. Gogos , D. Marshall, E. Gamble, S. Ruedin, A. Scott.
Southern Saints: D. Jolliffe, M. McDonald, R. Neaves, M. Bertuna, J. Radford, A. Burke

PORT MELBOURNE 2.2 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)
CASEY DEMONS 2.0 | 3.4 | 7.6 | 10.8 (68)

A dominant second half has helped Casey Demons inflict Port Melbourne’s first loss of the season, piling on seven goals to two after half-time to win by 40 points. The Demons trailed by two points at the first break, but hit the front by the main break with the only goal of the season term, before pulling away to win, 10.8 (68) to 4.4 (28). Alyssa Bannan made a successful debut at VFLW level with three majors, countering that of her experienced opponent down the other end in Sabrina Frederick who caused headaches for the Demons defence with the first two goals for her side. Fellow Demons AFLW-listed players in Maddison Gay (22 disposals) and Jacqueline Parry (20) also slotted in seamlessly, as Eliza West (21 and eight tackles) and Megan Fitzsimon (18 and six tackles) continued their good form this season. For the Borough, Olivia Barton and Mel Kuys led the way, having 18 and 17 disposals respectively, and laying four tackles apiece. Elizabeth Wilson kicked the other goal for the home side off 14 touches and 18 hitouts, while Phillipa Peschke and Sarah Sansonetti were lively.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 3, E. Wilson.
Casey Demons: A. Bannan 3, E. Humphries 2, S. Johnson, J. Parry, S. Fairchild, I. Milford, K. Thompson.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: P. Peschke, S. Frederick, S. Sansonetti, S. Locke, C. Dyett, M. Kuys
Casey Demons: E. West, I. Milford, S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, A. Bannan, S. Johnson

DAREBIN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.5 | 1.5 (11)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.6 | 6.6 | 11.9 (75)

Geelong Cats took a little while to get going, but then put the foot down against the last placed Darebin, running out 64-point winners at Bill Lawry Oval. The Cats led by a straight kick at quarter time and 21 points at half-time, before piling on 8.3 to 1.2 in the second half, including five goals to zero in the last term in order to secure the 11.9 (75) to 1.5 (11) victory. The AFLW contingent of Sophie Van De Heuvel (25 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Laura Gardiner (24 disposals, 10 tackles and two goals) and Darcy Moloney (22 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) all had plenty of the footy, as Olivia Barber slotted three goals from 15 touches and six marks. Claudia Gunjaca, Georgie Rankin and Paige Sheppard were also among the best as the Cats continued their red-hot recent form. For the Falcons, Jess Dal Pos returned from New South Wales to put up 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles, and aid AFLW-experienced talents in Nicole Callinan (18 disposals, four marks and 11 tackles) and Alyssa Mifsud (14 disposals, six tackles and 17 hitouts). Hayley Munro, Ellen Buckley and Ashleigh Gunn were all named among the team’s best in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Darebin: H. Munro.
Geelong: L. Gardiner 3, O. Barber 3, D. Moloney, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Boyd, A. Johnson, G. Clarke.

BEST:

Darebin: A. Mifsud, N. Callinan, J. Dal Pos, H. Munro, E. Buckley, A. Gunn
Geelong: O. Barber, C. Gunjaca, G. Rankin, B. Beckley, P. Sheppard, D. Moloney

HAWTHORN 1.1 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 5.6 (36)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.6 | 2.8 (20)

Hawthorn leapfrogged Williamstown out of the bottom two with its second win of the season, getting up by 16 points at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday. The Hawks kicked the first three goals of the game to lead by 17 points at half-time, and whilst the Seagulls did manage to keep touch – and kick two of the last four goals – it would not be enough as the brown and gold saluted at home, 5.6 (36) to 2.8 (20). Dominique Carbone kicked a couple of majors and really impressed across the ground, as did key position player Tamara Luke (one goal). It was no surprise to see in her 250th game of senior footy that Meg Hutchins was a standout, while Sophie Bolding was named best on ground. Jenna Richardson and Chloe Bain were also named among the winning side’s best on the day. For Williamstown, Erin Meade was yet again outstanding, as Eliza Straford and Ella Baxter‘s strong seasons continued. Elizabeth McGrath and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster kicked the two goals for their sides, but it would not be enough in the end.

>> MATCH STATISTICS (will be updated once completed on the app)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: D. Carbone 2, T. Luke, E. Mcilvena , A. Malander.
Williamstown: G. Biedenweg-Webster, E. McGrath.

BEST:

Hawthorn: S. Bolding, T. Luke, M. Hutchins, D. Carbone, J. Richardson, C. Bain
Williamstown: E. Meade, E. Straford, E. Baxter, R. Tripodi, A. Whelan, L. Suleiman

ESSENDON 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.8 (38)

Collingwood has held off a determined Essendon at The Hangar, thanks to a strong second half, and in particular final quarter which saw the Magpies boot the last two goals of the game to win by 10 points. The Bombers looked strong early, but could never shake the Pies, and despite Mia-Rae Clifford booting an early goal in the fourth term to cut the deficit to one, the Magpies kicked away with the next two to blow it out to 15 points before a late consolation prize made the final scores 5.8 (38) to 4.4 (28). Collingwood welcomed back some of its AFL Women’s talent, with Sophie Alexander being a threat in the air, clunking seven marks from 17 touches, and while she did not hit the scoreboard in a major way – two behinds – she shared the load inside 50 with Imogen Barnett (13 disposals, six marks and one goal), Matilda Zander (13 disposals, one goal) and Aliesha Newman (12 disposals, one goal). Marla Neal was a clear standout for the Pies though, racking up the ball at will with 28 touches, as well as laying 14 tackles and a slotting a goal, while Jasmine Ferguson (12 disposals, four marks) and Caitlin Bunker (20 disposals, four marks) did well throughout the match. For the Bombers, Cecilia McIntosh dominated in the first half on her way to 22 disposals and six marks, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Elisabeth Hosking (14 disposals, eight tackles), Eloise Gardner (12 disposals) and Elizabeth Snell (14 disposals) all stood strong. Clifford’s three goals from nine touches, three marks and five tackles threatened to change the game.

>> ELIZABETH SNELL PLAYER FOCUS

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Essendon: M. Clifford 3, E. Mackay.
Collingwood: M. Zander, A. Newman, B. Smith, I. Barnett, M. Neal.

BEST:

Essendon: C. McIntosh, E. Ashley-Cooper, M. Clifford, J. Davies, E. Gardner, K. Heil
Collingwood: S. Alexander, M. Neal, J. Ferguson, M. Shevlin, K. Lee, S. King

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1 | 4.5 | 4.9 | 6.11 (47)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)

North Melbourne has won its third game of the season in style, proving too strong for Carlton, and keeping the Blues to just one goal in the match. It was the second time in three rounds that the Blues kicked a goal or less after pushing Port Melbourne in between, but on the day, North Melbourne’s four first-quarter goals were the difference during the 6.11 (47) to 1.0 (6) victory. Sarah Skinner‘s unbelievable form continued with a whopping 32 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal, teaming up perfectly with those in the back half, as Meagan Kiely (26 disposals, four marks and seven tackles), Molly Eastman (22 disposals, five marks and five tackles) and Bella Eddey (22 disposals, five marks) all finding plenty of the ball. Daria Bannister slotted two goals from 20 touches and 10 tackles in her return to the level with Eddey, while Annalise Vine who switched to the Roos from the Hawks played her best game of the season with 16 disposals and seven marks. Brooke Brown was named best-on by the Roos coaching staff for her 16 touches and nine marks. For the Blues, Teresa Zampaliogne had a team-high 20 disposals as well as five tackles and three marks, while AFLW-listed talents, Charlotte Hammans (19 disposals) and Winnie Laing (18 and six tackles) were both busy. Eliza Wood was named the Blues’ best with 15 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and a goal, while Paige Trudgeon (11 disposals, six tackles) and Bry Gurr (16 disposals) were also busy despite the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

North: L. Wright 2, D. Bannister 2, S. Skinner, N. Celebre.
Carlton: E. Wood.

BEST:

North: B. Brown, M. Eastman, D. Bannister, J. Mourney, S. Skinner, K. Price
Carlton: E. Wood, C. Hammans, P. Trudgeon, T. Zampaglione, B. Gurr, W. Laing

VFLW Player focus: Elizabeth Snell (Essendon)

IT might not have ended in the result the Bombers might have liked, but Essendon teenager Elizabeth Snell was again busy in her debut season at the state league level. Sharing her duties between Bendigo Pioneers and the VFL Women’s competition, Snell opted to continue her stay at the state league level rather than play the final NAB League Girls round, having proven all she could at that level. Snell has also already run out for Vic Country twice at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships, and with her state set to play Queensland next month, could represent the ‘Big V’ again.

History:

Like many country players, Snell began her elite junior pathway in the V/Line Cup for the Pioneers, and made her way up through the NAB League competition, representing Vic Country at Under 16s level, and then being an extended squad member of the Under 18s team in 2019 before missing out. She made the Vic Country Under 19s squad this year, and impressed through the midfield and rotating forward for the team during their two wins over Vic Country and South Australia. Like all Victorian players last year, Snell missed out on getting back on the park, and opted to rejoin the Pioneers as a 19-year-old prospect, while sharing time with Essendon VFL Women’s side.

Elizabeth Snell representing Vic Country against Vic Metro at the AFLW U19s Championships last month.

VFL Women’s season:

Snell made her debut against Hawthorn back in Round 3, using her running capacity and ability to win the ball in close and extract it from the contest to win 15 disposals, four marks and lay eight tackles. Her defensive pressure, combined with her elite agility to often get out of trouble is what makes her a dangerous player for opponents. Returning to the Pioneers and then having Vic Country duties, Snell played her second VFL Women’s game last week in Round 7, as the Bombers celebrated a good win over Williamstown. In that match, Snell had the same amount of tackles as she did touches – 10 – and provided the hard edge she has shown over her junior career.

Player profile:

Snell is a talent with some elite traits and some other areas that are still a work in progress. Her agility, and first few steps out of a contest are what catch the eye the most, while she has clean hands on the inside, able to spot teammates and generally weight the handballs in tight out in order for them to run on. When she wins the ball herself and opts to go, she can often rush her kicks not realising she has more time than she actually does. Her ability to spread around the ground, and have an eye for goals when inside 50 provides her with plenty to work with at the next level, as she continues to develop her kicking and decision making under pressure.

Round 8 vs. Collingwood

Snell started on the bench in the opening term and after an opposition kick went over her head inside defensive 50, she kept pushing hard and won a contested ball close to the pocket and kicked to the danger zone of the square. Whilst her teammate could not quite drag down the mark, Snell kept buzzing around the contest for the rest of the quarter. She laid a couple of good tackles and ton a free kick for a tackle at half-back. From that free kick, Snell hit a direct kick straight down the middle to set up a scoring opportunities, then when the ball was back deep in defence, Snell had a couple of quick handballs in traffic.

Q1 Stats: 2 kicks, 2 handballs, 4 disposals, 2 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1 free for

In the second term, Snell laid a good tackle to force a spill at half-forward and then won the ball cleanly up the other end to quickly give off a handball before being tackled and then apply a shepherd for her teammate. Not only did Snell use her work rate around the ground to accumulate the ball, but she showed a great one-percenter to go back with the flight in a marking contest, spoil the ball and then lay a tackle shortly after at ground level.

She had a rest midway through the term and then came on and made an impact immediately, winning the ball off a handball receive, though the kick was turned over. Snell pushed hard to apply a shepherd once again, then courageously put pressure on a mark inside forward 50 to make her opposition defender earn it. After Essendon won a free kick, Snell quickly spread to just outside the forward 50, then put in a kick towards a one-on-one but it was spoiled out of bounds. She had her fourth touch of the term through a clean handball from in close to the outside at half-forward, and laid another strong tackle late in the term.

Q2 Stats: 2 kicks, 2 handballs, 4 disposals, 1 mark, 2 tackles, 1 inside 50

The third term Snell started right in the middle, though her first interaction with the ball was a free kick against for an overzealous tackle on the wing. She continued to work hard throughout the term, offering as an option in defence, but the ball went over her head, though she backed up quickly and laid a strong tackle close to the line.

She came off for a rest since she had started on the ground, and returned to have a nice pickup and kick from half-back, which was her most damaging kick of the day. Winning it at half-back, she produced a long well-weighted kick to a teammate, but unfortunately the mark was just dropped, though the intent was perfect. After play stopped for a second time due to injury to Aliesha Newman, Snell won the first mark, spreading well on the wing and then kicking forward. She laid a good tackle at half-back after being dispossessed when she was not able to cleanly handball, then got caught holding the ball on the defensive side of the wing. Shortly after she came off the ground.

Q3 Stats: 2 kicks, 0 handballs, 2 disposals, 1 mark, 3 tackles, 2 frees against

The intensity lifted in the last term, and Snell matched that intensity, going in fierce with her tackling across the ground. She started on the bench, but came on after a few minutes, and won the ball at ground level, fended off an opponent and quickly kicked. Once again the kick was a little dangerous, crossing the defensive 50 to make it a task for Courtney Ugle, which was spoiled. Luckily the Bombers mopped it up. Snell kept working hard laying a strong tackle at half-back to lock it in, then her next touch was a scrubber kick along the ground, not able to take possession and then was bumped off it. Snell laid another strong tackle in the middle after a restart from a Pies goal to lock it in, then yet another tackle at half-back, albeit with too much momentum landing in her opponents’ back.

Snell came off for a rest, then came on not long after following another Pies goal as Collingwood were well in control. She won her final kick in congestion through the middle, but her kick went to space where only Matilda Zander was lurking on a wing. She won another touch in close in defence with a handball, then tackled her opponent to back it up.

Q4 Stats: 3 kicks, 1 handball, 4 disposals, 4 tackles, 1 free against

Elizabeth Snell’s disposal map during Round 8.

TOTAL STATS: 9 kicks, 5 handballs, 14 disposals, 2 marks, 11 tackles, 1 inside 50, 1 rebound 50, 1 free for, 3 frees against

Note: Some discrepancies in the official statistics include where a tackle will not be counted due to being second across or a free given away.

Overall game:

Snell was one of the more productive Bombers on the day, and whilst some of her kicks might not have been as accurate as she would have liked, she was clean in close, and had a number of impactful touches. Most importantly, her defensive pressure – as expected – was incredibly high, and she would have been one of the most prolific tacklers on the ground. She did give away a few free kicks through tackles, but her intent was right, and she was well supported by her teammates.

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: GWS creates GIANT divide to bottom five sides

GWS GIANTS have won their fourth game of the season to sit eight points clear of the bottom five sides, albeit with some Sunday fixtures to come. The GIANTS won in a low-scoring arm-wrestle against Geelong, which saw just one goal kicked after quarter time, and none in the second half, to secure a seven-point victory at GMHBA Stadium. The 2.4 (16) to 1.3 (9) victory was a hard-fought one, but the battle of defences held up well with the game primarily a battle between the arcs.

Haneen Zreika was on the board early with a goal just four minutes into the match to give the GIANTS an early advantage. This was quickly countered within three minutes from Cats key forward Phoebe McWilliams, in what was shaping to be a potential high-scoring contest. However across the next 65 minutes, just one goal was kicked, coming off the boot of reliable goalkicker Cora Staunton in the second minute of the second quarter. That goal quickly split the difference between the sides that had been level with 1.1 apiece at the first break.

Staunton’s goal put the Giants up by six, with a Darcy Moloney behind four minutes later cutting the half-time deficit to five. Neither team could manage to break the deadlock from there, with the GIANTS adding three points to their total in the third term, and then the Cats returning the serve in the final quarter with a solitary behind through Richelle Cranson for the match to end seven points to the favour of the visiting GIANTS team.

It was an even match across the board, with contest after contest, and the Cats marginally ahead by seven in disposals (207-200), with both teams managing the seven shots on goal, with the GIANTS having one more inside 50 entry (24-23) in another low count. It further emphasised the battle between the arcs, with the teams almost identical in both contested and uncontested possessions, while the Cats took six more contested marks (10-4) despite having 10 less overall marks (35-45). The GIANTS certainly had more opportunities for goals with eight of those 45 marks inside 50, to the Cats’ two, whilst the forward pressure and around the ground was in the Cats’ favour with 68 tackles to 54, of which the forward 50 tackles went 13-12 in the blue hoops’ favour.

The GIANTS dominated the hitouts 36-12, with the clearances being relatively even, though marginally in the GIANTS favour, 23-20. This was helped by the performance of Erin McKinnon (21 hitouts) and Jess Allan (11 hitouts) who took control across the ground. Through the midfield, the in-form Alyce Parker dominated with a match-high 25 disposals, as well as five marks, four tackles, five inside 50s and two rebound 50s, also drawing five free kicks for her efforts. The usual suspects in Elle Bennetts (18 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two rebound 50s), Alicia Eva (18 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Rebecca Beeson (15 disposals, two tackles and two inside 50s) were again prominent.

For the Cats, Amy McDonald recorded the most disposals with 21, as well as a whopping 11 tackles, and four inside 50s, while her namesake in Meghan McDonald was not far behind with 19 disposals, six marks, two tackles and six rebound 50s. Julia Crockett-Grills (17 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and first-year player Laura Gardiner (17 disposals, 11 tackles and two rebound 50s) were also productive in the loss. Rebecca Webster (14 disposals, four marks and three rebound 50s) and McWilliams (12 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s) were others who aided in the Cats remaining in the hunt at respective ends of the field.

GEELONG 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 (9)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Geelong: P. McWilliams.
GWS: H. Zreika, C. Staunton.

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, M. McDonald, L. Gardiner, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Webster
GWS: A. Parker, A. Eva, E. Bennetts, E. McKinnon, R. Beeson

Picture credit: via GWS GIANTS website

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

MAGPIES SWOOP PAST SAINTS AND BACK ONTO THE WINNERS LIST

COLLINGWOOD emphatically returned to the winners list on Saturday with a 47-point victory over St Kilda at Victoria Park, solidifying the Magpies’ top two status. A hot start from the home side set an ominous tone, with the Magpies leading at every break and keeping the Saints goalless for two terms across the 8.11 (59) to 2.1 (13) thumping.

It was pure domination from Collingwood, who the early bossed possession and restricted eight Saints players to a grand total of zero touches to quarter time. Meanwhile, Aliesha Newman enjoyed an electric start in black and white with two goals in the first few minutes, though her side spread the scoring well over four quarters despite some greater St Kilda resistance.

Georgia Patrikios proved one of the lone four quarter performers in St Kilda’s tri-colours, leading the charge alongside fellow young gun Tyanna Smith as a heap of more senior players were kept below their usual standards. The Saints now sit 12th with two wins on the board, as Collingwood’s minor premiership tilt heats up.

Newman finished with three majors as the game’s most damaging goalkicker, while Chloe Molloy bagged a double for the winners. Brittany Bonnici led all comers with an equal game-high 29 disposals, with other usual suspects in Bri Davey and Jaimee Lambert also finding plenty of ball. Ruby Schleicher was again outstanding in defence, as Sarah Rowe made a successful return to senior action.

Patrikios also notched 29 touches as the Saint’s best player afield, with Molly McDonald overcoming her slow start to also fare well in the losing team. Smith was another solid performer in black, white and red, as were the likes of Hannah Priest and Rosie Dillon. The Saints may fancy a rebound win as they take on West Coast next week, while Collingwood faces Adelaide in a high stakes battle.

COLLINGWOOD 3.3 | 4.6 | 6.1 | 8.11 (59)
ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 (13)

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Newman 3, C. Molloy 2, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Lin
St Kilda: J. Matin, J. Vogt

DC BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, R. Schleicher, M. Newman
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, T. Smith, H. Priest, R. Dillon

Image Credit: Jono Searle/AFL Photos

LIONS ROAR TO HISTORIC GABBA WIN

BRISBANE claimed its first ever victory on the Gabba turf, overcoming North Melbourne by 15 points on Saturday afternoon to make it four wins on the trot. The Lions were marginally behind at the first break but fought ahead thereafter, booting two goals in the third term and sealing it in the fourth to take out an important 4.11 (35) to 2.8 (20) result.

The Lions looked happy to be back home despite the wet conditions and some inaccuracy in front of goal, marching on towards a potential top two finish with a terrific pressure game and structural solidity. While North held on for much of the day and was within striking distance, an eye-catching Courtney Hodder goal sealed victory for Brisbane in the final term.

Hodder was among the six single goalkickers for the day, as the likes of Isabel Dawes and Emily Bates excelled for the victors. Experienced heads in Kate Lutkins and Emma Zielke played important roles across the defensive half, while Orla O’Dwyer again proved lively up the other end.

North Melbourne’s typical brigade of ball winners again went to work, with Jenna Bruton (26 disposals) leading all comers as Ash Riddell, Jess Duffin, and Emma Kearney all also ticked over 20 touches apiece. Their ball winning prowess counted for little in the grander result, as North was kept relatively quiet inside forward 50.

BRISBANE 1.2 | 1.8 | 3.9 | 4.11 (35) 
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.8 (20)

GOALS
Brisbane: D. Davidson, J. Wuetschner, S. Conway, C. Hodder.
North Melbourne: Abbatangelo, Bateman.

BEST 
Brisbane: I. Dawes, K. Lutkins, E. Zielke, E. Bates, O. O’Dwyer
North Melbourne: J. Bruton, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, J. Duffin

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 2 preview – Pioneer Blues and Bulldogs open Pride Round

PRIDE is the theme of Round 2 in the 2021 AFL Women’s season, as the competition holds its inaugural Pride Round. The Western Bulldogs and Carlton, who have previously hosted annual Pride matches, will open the weekend’s action on Friday night as the remaining fixtures fall into place after multiple shake-ups. Remarkably, all seven games are set to go ahead in the rejigged round, with results as important as ever among the continual pandemic-produced unpredictability.

Note: All start times are local

Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton
Friday February 5, 7:45pm
Whitten Oval

Western Bulldogs and Carlton kick off Pride Round at Whitten Oval on Friday night, marking a historic and important event on the AFL Women’s calendar. Both sides remain searching for their first wins in 2021 after opening round losses, with a dreaded 0-2 start awaiting the team which goes down once again.

Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke has enacted four changes to the side which lost to St Kilda, with young pups Gemma Lagioia and Britney Gutknecht among the casualties. Carlton has been forced into just one change, as key defender Mua Laloifi misses through the updated concussion protocols and is replaced by Jess Edwards at half-back.

Laloifi’s absence may open the door for the Dogs to excel in attack, leaving Charlotte Wilson to shoulder a heap of intercept work against a forwardline spearheaded by Izzy Huntington. But the ball will have to get there first, with Carlton’s hardened midfield out to prove a point having been definitively blitzed by Collingwood in the second term last time out.

Tip: The Bulldogs are slowly finding their feet, but the Blues should come out firing after a shock loss. Wet weather will play a factor in the margin, Blues by 11.

Collingwood vs. Geelong
Saturday February 6, 3:10pm
Victoria Park

A fixture shuffle has seen Collingwood and Geelong land each other in Round 2, with football returning to the Magpies’ spiritual home of Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon. The Cats are coming off a 62-point drubbing at the hands of North Melbourne, while Collingwood opened the season with an impressive upset victory over traditional rival, Carlton, making for very contrasting formlines.

The Magpies’ midfield was excellent last time out and a new-look forwardline featuring Chloe Molloy and Bri Davey looks poised for more success in 2021. One of the Cats’ best lines is its defence though, with skipper Meghan McDonald supported well by the likes of Maddy McMahon, Amy McDonald, and Millie Brown.

Collingwood will be without recruit Aliesha Newman after she was handed a one-week ban for her sling tackle on Carlton’s Laloifi, but the Pies’ confidence should be sky high nonetheless. On the other hand, Geelong will have to quickly pick up the pieces to recover here, especially after an impotent display forward of centre in Round 1.

Tip: Collingwood looks set to be one of the big risers in 2021 and while Geelong has potential, its young side will likely work in peaks and troughs. Another trough here for the Cats, Pies by 23.

Melbourne vs. Richmond
Saturday February 6, 5:10pm
Casey Fields

Riding the wave of a Round 1 win, Melbourne hosts Richmond at Casey Fields on Saturday night looking to go two from two. Both sides took on Queensland teams last week but came out with contrasting results; as the Dees clicked into gear after quarter time to trump Gold Coast, while Richmond could only hang with Brisbane for a half before giving way in a five-goal loss.

The Lions may have uncovered a continued area of weakness for Richmond after tagging Monique Conti out of the first half, with Melbourne’s engine room typically an area of depth and prosperity. The Dees should again thrive in the midfield battle, though look for the likely tussle between first year jets Ellie McKenzie and Eliza McNamara to provide great entertainment on the outer.

Melbourne could quickly stake its claim for another finals berth should it string together some early wins, but the Tigers have shown signs of improvement and will hardly go down easily. Still searching for their maiden AFLW win, the Tigers have plenty to play for and will hope to avoid being the league’s cellar dweller for a second year running.

Tip: Melbourne looks a side determined to keep touch with the true premiership contenders, but cannot be caught lacking against the hungry Tigers. Still, the red and blue side should be too good all around the ground, Dees by 27.

North Melbourne vs. St Kilda
Sunday February 7, 1:10pm
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne will be out to build on its formidable early form, if possible, when St Kilda rolls into Arden Street Oval for their Sunday afternoon clash. The Roos set a high ceiling with their maiden 2021 performance, which yielded the greatest opening round percentage in AFL/AFLW history. St Kilda is also in winning form, though having shaken off the Western Bulldogs in Moorabbin.

It is no secret that North Melbourne bats a ridiculously deep midfield, boasting arguably the most damaging brigade of ball winners in the competition. St Kilda’s young pair of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith will do their best to match the forward run-and-carry of North’s prime movers, especially after such promising showings last week.

North Melbourne has plenty of avenues to goal, with rotating ruck Emma King back to her scoring ways after three goals last week, while the Saints also showed they will not be entirely dependant on spearhead Caitlin Greiser to kick a winning score. Matching the Roos’ firepower will be tough, but could be manageable depending on the conditions and North Melbourne’s mood.

Tip: St Kilda will likely provide a much greater test for North and should stick with them in patches, but do not quite have the stock to go with a switched-on blue and white outfit for four quarters, Roos by 21.

Brisbane vs. Gold Coast
Sunday February 7, 2:10pm
Hickey Park

The second-ever AFL Women’s Q-Clash is set to go down on Sunday afternoon, as the Lions and Suns meet at Hickey Park having initially been poised against Victorian opponents. The makeshift fixture should provide fireworks, with last year’s inaugural all-Queensland dig ending in an enthralling draw, meaning bragging rights are well and truly up for grabs here.

Brisbane will look to replicate last year’s early run of form with a second win on the trot, while Gold Coast is still out to open its account for the season after an opening round loss to Melbourne. Both sides boast some terrific young talent, with the Lions’ Isabel Dawes fresh off a best-afield performance, and Gold Coast’s Kalinda Howarth hungry to hit the scoreboard after a goalless outing last week.

The experience is also there, headlined by Brisbane’s strong foundation crop – which may soon be bolstered by Jess Wuetschner – and opposed by Gold Coast’s new-look forwardline, which features vice-captain Sarah Perkins. Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan will have plenty to do in midfield against the Lions’ strong ball winners, making for an intriguing clearance battle.

Tip: You can never count the fighting Suns out, especially with their youthful exuberance, but the Lions look a slight step ahead and should come away with bragging rights over their neighbours. Lions by 10.

GWS vs. Adelaide
Sunday February 7, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

GWS is back home after a well-travelled preseason, set to host Adelaide at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday evening. Both teams were thrown into isolation after Round 1 and have undergone improvised solo training sessions for most of the week, which will inevitably show in how either side adjusts to the disruptions thrown their way.

Adelaide looks like quickly returning to its fearsome best in 2021, with the Crows’ many stars aligning to win big las week. Erin Phillips will hope to again take hold as she gets a clean run at it, while some added dynamism in the potential moving parts of Chelsea Randall, Ebony Marinoff, and Sarah Allan will give GWS plenty of headaches.

The Giants have showcased their fighting spirit and have the experience to give the Crows a good run here. An even five-goal loss to Fremantle in Round 1 was less than ideal on a pure results basis, but some strong contested work in the first half should put GWS in good stead to compete against top sides, like Adelaide, for periods of time.

Tip: Revenge will be in mind after GWS ended Adelaide’s finals hopes last year, and the visitors should have too much grunt going forward from midfield. Crows by 26.

Fremantle vs. West Coast
Sunday February 7, 4:15pm
Fremantle Oval

The Western Derby is on in Round 2 after last-minute confirmation of the bout came today, with Fremantle and West Coast set to lock horns in the weekend’s closing fixture. Akin to players in the Adelaide-GWS clash, both teams have been limited training-wise with just an hour of exercise permitted under Western Australia’s lockdown laws.

Freo looks every bit the powerhouse last year’s undefeated run suggested, maintaining their winning streak with a powerful Round 1 victory. West Coast looks an improved side despite falling well short of Adelaide in the end. While the Eagles managed 2.6 (18), the Dockers excelled with 8.10 (58) in their opening fixture.

That immense gap in scoring should again prove telling, with Fremantle’s dynamic and game-breaking forward movers in Gemma Houghton and Sabreena Duffy difficult to keep down, especially as Kara Antonio and Kiara Bowers move the ball forward with class from the outside and inside of midfield.

Tip: Fremantle has the early bragging rights in this rivalry and will likely continue to hold as much after Sunday’s clash. With too much going forward, Dockers by 40.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Pies shock Blues on AFLW’s return

THE long awaited return of AFL Women’s for season 2021 arrived on Thursday night, with traditional rivals Carlton and Collingwood shaping up at Ikon Park for a huge start to season five. A tribute to Jacinda Barclay opened the match with a moment of silence, before football returned at full throttle with Victorian fans treated to their first live match since mid-2020. While a slow start from both sides kept a full house of fans on the edge of their seats, a stagnant Blues outfit and a huge four-goal second term from the Magpies saw the tides quickly turn as fast-paced footy began, with the Pies running out six-point winners 5.3 (33) to 4.3 (27) to open the season with a bang.

While the match may not have started with the bang many fans were expecting from the two sides, it was a tight battle early with neither side willing to give through the midfield and very little going the way of the scoreboard. Both backlines worked in overdrive limiting movement, with the first score of the game – a behind – going the way of Jaimee Lambert, rendered inaccurate by the continuous efforts of the likes of Mua Laloifi and Charlotte Wilson, who tracked the ball well. But much the same was happening at the other end, with the Blues missing targets and Ruby Schleicher proving a ball magnet and rebounded with ease.

But things quickly switched into gear for the Magpies in the second, with Chloe Molloy moved forward and turned on the foot candy with two goals from right out in front. It saw the Pies pile on the pressure as the Blues remained scoreless in the first half for the first time since 2019. Where the Blues’ defence had held strong in the first, they scrambled in the second term with no answers for the combination of Molloy and Bri Davey out the front, while Aliesha Newman turned on the speed – later reported for a dangerous tackle – and Lambert continued to fire on all cylinders as the Pies went four goals up, looking dangerous as the Blues wasted opportunities. Maddy Prespakis was unafraid of the contest, throwing herself at the footy and at former Blue Davey, while all eyes were on the matchup between Stacey Livingstone and Tayla Harris as the game hit the midway point, with the duo matching in intensity and hunt for the footy.

A talking to from Carlton coach Daniel Harford seemed to do the trick for the Blues, coming out with a renewed sense of intensity and pressure after half-time, hitting back with three straight goals. Nicola StevensDarcy Vescio and Jess Hosking all put majors on the board – with the third coming from a pinpoint precise Prespakis – as a scoring end shaped up. While the Baggers showed a lot more fight, the Pies retained the lead with an excellent running goal from Aishling Sheridan, courtesy of Lambert, seeing the Magpies head into the final change with an 11-point advantage.

After a busy second and third quarter, scoring dried up in the last with neither side able to really break through the fierce defensive buffers down back. While the Pies missed a couple of early chances to extend their lead, Carlton had their own fair share of opportunities too with the footy locked inside their forward 50 for much of the last five minutes. While the last score of the match was a goal to Kerryn Harrington after the siren, it was a sombre celebration as the Magpies started off their 2021 campaign with the solid 33-27 victory and plenty of confidence.

On the stats sheet, Britt Bonnici led all comers with 22 disposals, five marks and four tackles, while Lambert (18 touches, five tackles) and Prespakis (18 and three) were not far behind. Abbie McKay proved she has more in her wheelhouse leading the tackle count with seven to go with her 10 touches, while two players from each side racked up six tackles apiece in the physical battle.

Both teams have just over a week to prepare for their next respective matches, with the Blues heading to VU Whitten Oval next Friday night to take on the Western Bulldogs, while the Pies host the Gold Coast Suns in their first home match of the season next Saturday afternoon at Victoria Park.

CARLTON | 0.0 | 0.0 | 3.1 | 4.3 (27)
COLLINGWOOD | 0.1 | 4.2 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)

GOALS
Carlton: Stevens, Vescio, Hosking, Harrington.
Collingwood: Molloy 2, Sheridan 2, Davey.

ADC BEST
Carlton: Prespakis, Laloifi, Wilson, Egan, Hosking
Collingwood: Bonnici, Lambert, Davey, Molloy, Schleicher

2021 AFLW Preview: Melbourne Demons

ONE of the most consistent sides in the competition, there is no doubt Melbourne have a great team at their disposal with plenty of gamechangers amongst the playing group and exciting talent in their midst. But a mass exodus and flurry of young newcomers in 2021 could see a highly different campaign this season, with many wondering what is next for the Demons and whether they can take that next step in the competition.

2020 RECAP

The Dees took a great step forward in season 2020, launching their maiden finals campaign and winning some excellent matches while they were at it, including a three-point come-from-behind cliffhanger over GWS GIANTS in the semi-final, a 59-point blitz against West Coast Eagles and a 20-point victory over fellow finalists, Collingwood. But losses to newcomer St Kilda and star-studded Carlton did the side no favours, while a constant injury cloud seemed to hang over the club with Ainsley Kemp, Shae Sloane and now-Blue Maddy Guerin sidelined with respective season-ending anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, and both Lily Mithen and Lauren Pearce missing in action throughout the season in patches. Factor in Daisy Pearce’s return from having twins in 2019, and the side exceeded all expectations to finish third in Conference B and on the overall ladder in 2020. Quiet achiever Shelley Scott won the club’s Best and Fairest, while influential trio Karen Paxman, Libby Birch and Goal of the Year winner Kate Hore were all selected for the 2020 AFL Women’s All-Australian team.

NEW FACES

Melbourne welcomed a flurry of newcomers for 2021, adding six new faces during the 2020 AFLW Draft, following a huge trade period in which six experienced names departed the club. The Dees rocketed up the draft order though, leaping into top 10 contention – top three in Victoria – and picking up six young guns – Alyssa Bannan, Eliza McNamara, dual athlete Maggie Caris, Megan Fitzsimon, Mietta Kendall and Isabella Simmons – who will help drive the side into the future. The Dees also picked up a third Irish recruit in Lauren Magee to join the likes of Niamh McEvoy and Sinead Goldrick, who joined the club for 2020.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

With so many talented players at their disposal, any number of Melbourne’s players could be the key link in season 2021. But with big departures across the field, this could be Tyla Hanks’ year to really take the midfield by storm after playing much of her first few seasons up the ground. The 2018 draftee will now enter her third season after showing plenty of promise across her first few seasons, and with an excellent turn of speed and sticky fingers, Hanks’ work rate and impact around the ground are unquestionable.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

While the Dees seem to be one of those sides that continuously sits outside finals contention over the past few seasons, something that could give the side a boost is their consistency. From finishing third in the first two seasons, to sitting fourth overall during the first conference season in 2019 and making finals in 2020 – again finishing overall third if we were to combine the two conference ladders, Melbourne certainly has the ability to remain a clear contender, especially given the talent at their disposal with Mithen, Hore and Eden Zanker all making clear strides last season. But consistency means nothing though if there is no development, so fans will hope for another step forward this season.

QUESTION MARK

Realistically, the main question mark hovering over the Dees in 2021 is how they will fare after losing a heap of experience over the off-season. The loss of goalsneak Aliesha Newman was one thing, but former co-captain Elise O’Dea also departed the club for Carlton – as did Guerin, with both players looking for a fresh start – sees a loss of depth through the midfield and driving forward. Factor in the additional losses of stalwarts Bianca Jakobsson, Harriet Cordner and Kat Smith, and the Dees have quite a few significant holes to fill. 

FINAL WORD

The fact that they have been unable to go that one step further over the past few seasons could be detrimental to the side as it looks to navigate a new season with a flurry of new faces. That being said, the Dees no doubt have the talent at their disposal, but will just need to create some more consistency through a much younger midfield this season. Expect the hunger to well and truly be there after an incomplete season, and a competitive playing group in 2021.

Image Credit: Michael Willson via AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Preview: Collingwood Magpies

COLLINGWOOD is on a mission to go deeper in the AFL Women’s finals after a promising first season under a new head coach, bouncing back from a last placed finish in 2019.

2020 RECAP

After a disastrous 2019 season which saw the club handed the wooden spoon with just one victory to their name, new coach Steve Symonds turned it around in 2020 for the black and white to play finals for the first time. Brianna Davey lived up to all expectations crossing from arch rivals Carlton, having an impact throughout the season, while Jaimee Lambert had an unbelievable season to win the club best and fairest. Had in-form defender Ash Brazill not torn her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) against Melbourne, it is not against the realms of possibility to suggest Collingwood could have gone even deeper than falling to North Melbourne by a kick in the elimination finals.

NEW FACES

The Magpies lost a couple of key players over the off-season, particularly Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan who both headed to Richmond, while Aliesha Newman (Melbourne) and Abbey Green (North Melbourne) came to the club. Whilst not like-for-like, the Magpies targeted size and speed in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Father-daughter selection, Tarni Brown, and Joanna Lin provide the outside class and skill, while Amelia Velardo, Abbi Moloney and Bella Smith add height to the side. Talented sports star Imogen Purcell also joined the club to add natural athleticism to the mix.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

There are plenty to keep an eye on, but perhaps none more exciting than the versatile Chloe Molloy. Expected to return forward like she did in her junior days and in her return season off a long-term injury in 2020, Molloy will be better for the run last season and expected to continue her form from her debut season. Now four preseasons in at the Magpies, the high X-factor marking talent has all the ability to tear games apart and will be crucial in hitting the scoreboard regularly.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

The Magpies showed rapid development from 2019 to 2020, even with the loss of Brazill midway through the season, and Molloy returning from injury having missed so much football. The likes of Sharni Layton, Sarah Rowe, Mikala Cann and Alana Porter all made huge strides last season, and throw in career-best seasons from experienced duos of Brittany Bonnici and Steph Chiocci, it is little wonder why the Magpies could get it done.

QUESTION MARK

Consistency is the big question mark for the Magpies in 2021. Their best was by far good enough to challenge the best sides, as shown by their upset of Carlton, and pushing Fremantle and North Melbourne all the way in finals. Unfortunately it was more lapses within games that cost them, having had chances to win those close ones, and then having the disappointing outing against Melbourne in Round 4. If they can iron out that consistency, particularly four quarter consistency, then they are a side to watch this season.

FINAL WORD

Collingwood is more than capable of challenging the big sides in 2021, and while D’Arcy in particular will be a massive loss for the black and white, they have recruited and drafted well, and will hopefully be at full strength again for a finals tilt.

Picture credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images

2020 AFLW Draft review: Collingwood Magpies

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with Collingwood, a side that reached finals for the first time in its history last year and aimed to target height, as well as speed and class, in this year’s draft.

Collingwood:

#19 – Tarni Brown (Eastern Ranges/Vic Metro)
#25 – Amelia Velardo (Western Jets/Vic Metro)
#26 – Joanna Lin (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#31 – Abbi Moloney (Sandringham Dragons/Vic Metro)
#33 – Bella Smith (Norwood/Central Allies)

Collingwood had another fairly big off-season with a number of changes including the departures of Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan, whilst bringing in Aliesha Newman and Abbey Green from Melbourne and North Melbourne respectively. The changes – which included a number of retirements – allowed the Magpies to end up with five picks in the draft. Knowing their father-daughter selection in Tarni Brown was a top 10 pick on value, the Magpies traded back to gain extra value out of matching the bid, and then worked their way into have four more picks in the space of nine selections. This year they had a Vic Metro focus, taking talls Western Jets’ Amelia Velardo and Sandringham Dragons’ Abbi Moloney, while also selecting Oakleigh Chargers’ Joanna Lin. Passing on their last selection, the Pies then went and picked up Bella Smith from Norwood to provide some extra height up either end as the interstate recruit.

Brown was long touted as a prospect to follow in the footsteps of her famous father Gavin, and brothers Callum and Tyler and join the Magpies. With superb athleticism and an ability to shrug tackles, she is clearly one of the standout prospects in the AFL Women’s Draft and represents huge value for Collingwood at Pick 19. She is one who could step right up to play at the top level sooner rather than later.

Another player who has been playing most of their life is Moloney, with the Dragons tall a strong mark and had a great start to the NAB League season booting eight goals in three games. She could have been a father-daughter selection to the Western Bulldogs thanks to father Troy playing with Footscray, but has instead made her way to the Holden Centre. She becomes that additional tall target along with Velardo, who by comparison, has had very little time in the sport. She only started last year when choosing to train with the Western Jets over continuing her basketball career and it paid off with a couple of big games for the Jets in 2020. She played as an undersized ruck but expect her to be a forward/midfielder for the Magpies.

Lin has also been a relative newcomer to the sport, with only a couple of seasons in NAB League after a season at local level. She has come on in leaps and bounds, and uses the ball well and creates run in transition from half-back to the wing and going forward. A player you can trust with ball-in-hand, she adds some more class to the line-up alongside Brown. Finally, Smith’s addition as another tall provides versatility for former and now reunited coach Steve Symonds, who chose the Norwood prodigy as an option to throw either back or forward. She has had an enormous season at centre half-back for the Redlegs which could free up others at Collingwood to go forward, but she can also play as that leading target too.

Collingwood has been able to address its needs out of this draft, with some established football names, as well as some newcomers, and expect them to all set the standard during the off-season.

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Melbourne & Western Bulldogs

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two inaugural sides from Victoria, in Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

Melbourne – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 5 (3), 15 (9), 17 (11), 35 (24), 40 (27), 47 (30)

Off-season summary:

With somewhat of an ageing list and the premiership window closing, Melbourne seemed to recognise both factors during the sign and trade period. As one of the busier clubs, the Dees enacted a big turnover of established players, allowing them to bolster their draft hand to make the most of a bumper crop and regenerate ahead of the 2021 season.

Elise O’Dea was the biggest loss, as she was packaged up and sent to the Blues alongside Maddy Guerin, while defender Harriet Cordner was shipped to Richmond, Aliesha Newman to Collingwood, Bianca Jakobsson to St Kilda, and Katherine Smith to GWS. A strong, established core remains, but that’s a big loss in starting-21 players. Coming the other way, though is a third Irishwoman on the Dees’ list in Lauren Magee, a star of the Gaelic code.

A draft look:

This is as important a draft as ever for Melbourne, with a lot riding on its first pick and the value lying in its remaining hand. The Dees also boast the equal-most selections available with six, ensuring they’ll be able to cover each loss at the least.

With pick five, the third in the Victorian pool, Melbourne will likely look to bolster its defensive stocks. Sandringham Dragons tall Sarah Hartwig seems a good fit to plug a key position gap, while Western’s Isabelle Pritchard is a versatile option who can also move through midfield. Should the Bulldogs (see below) opt to overlook Northern key forward Alyssa Bannan, she could well land at Demonland.

The Demons’ remaining hand should see them further boost that defensive line with depth of all sizes, while potentially targeting another key position forward depending on what happens with pick five. Youth should be the priority, though mature-age recruits have payed off for many clubs throughout the draft, especially last year.

Western Bulldogs – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 2 (2), 11 (6), 16 (10)

Off-season summary: 

The Bulldogs have been gutted of some serious senior talent over the expansion years, so a quieter sign and trade period would have been a refreshing change for their fans. Still, Aisling McCarthy leaves a gap in midfield as she departs for West Coast, while Hannah Munyard has returned home to Adelaide, and Nicole Callinan is the sole retiree. 20-year-old key forward Katie Lynch was their only recruit, and may well help predict what the Dogs will do with their first pick in the draft. Having traded well to land three top-end selections, the Bulldogs’ rebuild is in decent shape.

A draft look:

Familiar themes could well arise from what the Bulldogs decide to do with picks two, 11, and 16 – the second, sixth, and 10th choices in the Victorian pool. After taking in a bunch of Vic Metro based talent last year, all familiar to coach Nathan Burke, the Bulldogs will likely again revert to the deep Northern Knights well of talent. While the recruit of Lynch fills a massive key position forward requirement, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs opt for another in Alyssa Bannan with pick two. Otherwise, Olivia Barber could be the key forward they’re after with one of the two later selections.

Should they feel that area is covered, midfield support for Ellie Blackburn is another important area of improvement. Ellie McKenzie could then become the second Northern Knights captain to land at the kennel in as many years, joining Gabby Newton, while Dandenong’s Tyanna Smith is the other likely number one pick who could get a look-in. Both are damaging midfielders who should be ready to set the competition alight from Round 1. Keeping with the Knights’ theme, Jessica Fitzgerald would be a handy choice with either of the two remaining selections, a balanced midfielder who co-captained her side with McKenzie.

Featured Image: Jess Fitzgerald and Gabby Newton at this year’s NAB League Girls launch | Credit: AFL Photos