Tag: anne hatchard

2021-22 AFLW early look: Adelaide

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2021-22 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Up first is Adelaide, the 2021 grand finalists set to be another contender in the new-look season.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 1st (Runners-up)
Wins: 7
Losses: 2
Draws: 0
Points For: 446 (1st)
Points Against: 214 (4th)

Adelaide came agonisingly close to a remarkable third premiership, narrowly going down to Brisbane in the 2021 AFL Women’s Grand Final. The Crows were the most potent scoring team all year, and were able to pile on scores quickly in some big wins. From Round 1 through to Round 9, the Crows were in the top four spots all year, picking up three consecutive wins mid-season in their best run until winning the final two games of the season, grabbing top spot and then winning its semi-final against Melbourne to book their place in a home grand final. Whilst it did not go their way, the Crows were once again an entertaining team to watch.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Jasmyn Hewett (Gold Coast), Jasmine Simmons (basketball), Zoe Prowse (Sturt), Brooke Tonon (Glenelg), Abbie Ballard (West Adelaide)
Outs: Chloe Scheer (Geelong), Renee Forth (delisted)
Inactives: Jessica Sedunary, Angela Foley, Rhiannon Metcalfe

The Crows did not need to make many changes to their list given the strength of it, with Chloe Scheer‘s defection to Geelong the biggest talking point coming into the off-season. The Crows will be without a trio of inactive players with Jessica Sedunary (cycling), Rhiannon Metcalfe (work) and Angela Foley (ACL), whilst Renee Forth was the club’s sole unforced cut. Going to the draft, they picked up AFL Women’s Academy ruck Zoe Prowse, as well as smooth moving half-back/wing Brooke Tonon and tough nut mid-forward Abbie Ballard to accompany a returning Jasmyn Hewett, and basketballer Jasmine Simmons.

2021-22 TEAM LIST:

Sarah Allan
Najwa Allen
Abbie Ballard
Chelsea Biddell
Hannah Button
Teah Charlton
Ailish Considine
Dayna Cox
Nikki Gore
Caitlin Gould
Anne Hatchard
Jasmyn Hewett
Eloise Jones
Ebony Marinoff
Rachelle Martin
Montana McKinnon
Hannah Munyard
Justine Mules
Maddi Newman
Erin Phillips
Danielle Ponter
Zoe Prowse
Marijana Rajcic
Chelsea Randall
Jasmine Simmons
Brooke Tonon
Stevie-Lee Thompson
Deni Varnhagen
Ashleigh Woodland
Lisa Whiteley

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can Adelaide blood some new youngsters in 2021-22 and avoid Port Adelaide raiding the list too much at season’s end?
  • Will Erin Phillips play permanent forward?
  • Who replaces Chloe Scheer inside 50?

PREDICTION:

Adelaide will once again be thereabout around the mark, with Scheer the key loss from the side that reached a grand final. The Crows have stocked up with some serious talent who all add something different, and it would be great to see all of Prowse, Tonon and Ballard getting their chance at some stage despite it being such a hard team to crack into. Expect them to be there at the pointy end again.

Picture credit: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos

Versatile Eldridge continues to “find her feet”

WITH only a couple of years of Australian football experience under her belt, North Adelaide utiltiy Jorja Eldridge has had plenty of learning to do in a short space of time. The 19-year-old Whyalla native hails from an ever-fabled basketball background, but committed to football last year and eventually cracked a very strong Roosters side in 2020, as a train-on player.

Eldridge played two SANFL Women’s games last year and added the same amount in 2021, while also earning a spot in South Australia’s Under 19 National Championships squad. Having moved down to Adelaide and taken up a part-time receptionist job at the club, she says she is now starting to “find [her] feet”.

“This season I’ve moved to Adelaide and I trained way more with North Adelaide in pre-season and in-season, so that’s helped me a lot,” Eldridge said.

“At the moment I’m studying exercise and sports science at university and I’m currently working as a casual receptionist at North Adelaide Football Club as well, so that’s taking up most of my time on top of football training.”

Having spent plenty of time around the club, Eldridge has also been able to lean on some key mentors and develop her own craft as a player who can impact across multiple positions. The 173cm prospect said she hadn’t “done too badly” once selected for North in Round 4, and in her three Under 19 carnival outings.

Krissie Steen (North Adelaide coach) told me I just need to keep running, so my sprint efforts are most important to improve on,” she said. “I’ve actually had a new position this season which was being a back-up ruck for North Adelaide, rotating forward and on-ball. With that I feel that I’ve had to develop my skills a lot more, going through the midfield and getting it into the forwardline as well.

“My mentor at North Adelaide has definitely (Steen)… she’s basically been my only coach for football so she has definitely helped me along my journey. Kristi Harvey has definitely taken me under her wing and showed me the ropes. Then obviously at a higher level, the likes of Anne Hatchard (are) really good with younger girls and other players, they’re really inspiring.”

A supporter of the Crows’ AFLW team, Eldridge looks towards Hatchard and Melbourne forward Tayla Harris for inspiration on her own game. While there are still areas for improvement, the talented multi-sport athlete has also been able to transfer some handy traits over from other codes.

“A strength of mine is that I’m able to really use my body well,” Eldridge said. “From a basketball and netball perspective, I’ve had to grow up with the one-on-one body contact and finding the player. I do struggle sometimes with finding my player in defence because I like to zone off and intercept the ball, but then coming to football it’s a bit harder to do that.

“Around the ground stoppages and in the ruck are definitely my strengths (too), and I’ve got pretty good distance on my kick.”

With the AFLW currently holding expansion talks, more and more South Australian prospects like Eldridge are well poised to get the chance to showcase their development at the highest level in years to come.

Running Clark eyes constant improvement

NOTING her steep improvement from her 18th to 19th years, North Adelaide’s Julia Clark is always looking to add strings to her bow. The South Australian state representative at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships has developed through the pathway, and, under the watchful eye of North Adelaide coach Krissie Steen and Adelaide Crows star onballer Anne Hatchard, Clark has really worked hard on her game.

“There’s been quite a few,” Clark said of her mentors.” My parents, school teachers, yeah lots of different people. I think inside of footy, definitely Krissie Steen, my North Adelaide coach at the moment has been a big motivator for me.”

The Adelaide fan has benefited from having Hatchard around the club, with the Crows midfielder sharing the 2020 SANFL Women’s Best and Fairest award in the split season last year. An astute watcher of both the women’s and men’s games, Clark said she draws inspirations from both competitions.

“Anne Hatchard. Her running is great,” Clark said. “Then in Round 1 of the AFL I watched the Carlton game and I really liked Adam Saad’s game and I based my Round 3 game off him. “He really inspired me that round.”

Clark’s football journey started six years ago, and the defensive utility stepped up from the Roosters’ juniors to the senior side, where she played in the North Adelaide premiership last year. Fast forward to 2021, and Clark was one of a number of 19-year-old talents to earn a place for South Australia.

“So I started in 2015 in the Under 14 North Adelaide junior program and then from there I went onto Hope Valley in 2016 and then continued through North and now I’m at state, which is cool,” Clark said. “My goal for this year was just to play better than I did last year, and I came out in the first three rounds and I absolutely felt like I was doing that pretty great. “I was really happy with how I was playing.”

Clark regards her strength as being able to run up the ground, work hard and support her teammates, something she is always looking to improve on to maximise her running capacity. Having played predominantly as a defender in past years, Clark moved further up the ground this season, which is a role she enjoyed adding to her CV.

“I have been training a bit everywhere actually,” Clark said. “I think I’ve mainly been on the wing and in defence. “I enjoy both I think. “I feel a lot, I get the ball a lot more on the wing, but I definitely enjoy the backline as well.”

Whilst her football is coming along nicely, Clark is also heavily focused on her studies, which she balances with her sporting commitments.

“I am at uni studying mechanical engineering and that’s a big chunk of it at the moment,” Clark said. “So just trying to push through that at the moment with footy is a struggle but I’m getting there.”

2021 SANFL Women’s preview: Round 10 – Ladder-defining round of action

IT might not be finals time just yet, but if the top four sides can topple the bottom four sides this weekend in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s action, then it will seal up the finals spots ahead of the last round.

NORWOOD vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Friday, May 7 @ 7:00pm
Coopers Stadium

Coming off their first loss in eight weeks, Norwood will be hungry to get back to business against Central District who did pretty well last week against a strong West Adelaide side, but it was not enough to come away with the points. Unlike the other three sides in the bottom four, the Bulldogs do have a superior percentage to those teams just inside the four – and both above have one draw – meaning an upset win, and a loss to either South Adelaide or North Adelaide this week will hand Central District a top four spot heading into the last week. Norwood is looking pretty good to secure top spot on the table, sitting one-and-a-half games clear of Glenelg, with just one win needed to secure the minor premiership. The likes of Alicia Butler and Ella Mickan will return to the Bulldogs outfit on an extended bench, while the Redlegs have brought back vital ruck, Leah Cutting, and in-form Ella Murison. Youngsters Sarah Branford and Lana Schwerdt are amongst the outs for this game, but the Redlegs are looking very strong. Isabelle Starmer has put together some great form through the ruck and will enjoy a battle with Cutting and possibly youngster Jade Halfpenny who has been named there. Bulldogs captain Shelby Smith and Adelaide AFLW midfielder Najwa Allen could go head-to-head in the midfield, whilst the Norwood defence will need to find a way of slowing down key forward duo Katelyn Rosenzweig and Chantel Reynolds. Sophie Armitstead could be the player to try and quell the red-hot Chloe Scheer, whilst State Academy members Alana Lishmund and Madison Lane could go head-to-head in this clash. Norwood should be too strong, but the Bulldogs have the capacity and talent to beat anyone on their day if they take their chances.

WWT EAGLES vs. GLENELG
Saturday, May 8 @ 10:10am
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval

Whilst finals seems a stretch for the Woodville-West Torrens Eagles – the results needed to occur are near impossible – they can still play the role of party pooper to finals-bound sides, whilst trying to jump off the bottom of the table. The Eagles strung three consecutive wins together this season, but with the return of AFL Women’s talents, they have been more inexperienced, but providing games to great future talents. For Round 9, the Eagles have lost Jessica Evans to concussion, but regain Renee Forth to bolster that minimal AFL Women’s talent. Their opponents Glenelg are not mucking around though, with Ebony Marinoff pulling on the black and gold for the first time this season, returning to the Bays’ outfit with Molly Affolter, Lucy Armitage and Caitlyn Swanson among others for an extended bench after multiple players have dropped out due to illness. Marinoff joins an already strong midfield of Ellie Kellock, Jessica Bates, Tessa Kohn and Brooke Tonon who are all in great form, and Caitlin Gould is a crucial player up forward or through the ruck. The Eagles have so much developing talent that will benefit from the experience against AFLW-listed players with Shineah Goody, Jamie Parish and Charlotte Dolan just a few of them. The reliable combination of Anastasia Falkenberg and Jovanka Zecevic will always stand up in big moments, and they will need to be key players in this game if the Eagles are to cause a massive boilover. The Bays also need to win this to keep touch with Norwood at the top of the table, and fend off last year’s grand finalists in North Adelaide and South Adelaide. It is hard to see the Bays losing this given their side on paper, but this has been one heck of a season for upsets.

STURT vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, May 8 @ 11:00am
Prospect Oval

South Adelaide can go a long way to securing a finals spot with a win over a Sturt team that just refuses to go away in the SANFL Women’s competition. Just when you think the Double Blues are out of the running, they produce a massive performance like they did against the Eagles last week to just remain in contention. A loss here would cut the chord on any finals hopes if North Adelaide get up as well, but a win, and the Double Blues could be in the top four given their percentage is higher than the two sides in there, and they take on the fourth placed Panthers. Captain Maya Rigter will miss with a foot injury, Alysha Healy is out with a shoulder injury and Lane Trenorden suffered a knee injury. They welcome back Tiah Hough, Nicole Baker and Ally Ladas to an extended bench as they try and plot South Adelaide’s downfall. The Panthers are coming off a great win over Norwood, and with their team at full strength, it showed just how good this side could be. Madison Bennett is the sole exclusion from the team, with young key forward Jorja Hooper, and defender Lucy Northcott among the inclusions. Jaslynne Smith will run out for her 50th game this weekend, and will be a key part of that Panthers backline with Lisa Whiteley and Brianna Wedding who have put together strong performances. The Sturt forward line of young talent seems to be ticking over nicely, with Alex Ballard slotting three goals last week, and with Zoe Prowse providing the height, and Chloe Forby and Georgia Swan among the developing talents in there, the Double Blues have enough firepower down there. The Sturt midfield of Alisha Gepp, Jaimee Wittervan and Isobel Kuiper will get its greatest test this weekend with Teah Charlton, Nicole Campbell and Tahlita Buethke all in ripping form and could be the deciding factor. The Panthers should get up based on their lineup, but the Double Blues will not make it easy for them.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, May 8 @ 12:45pm
Prospect Oval

The final game of the round, and the second of a double-header at Prospect Oval sees the Roosters host West Adelaide in a massive clash. The Roosters tentatively sit in third spot, and thanks to their higher percentage compared to South Adelaide, have some sort of a buffer, but they could lose that with West and one of Central District or Sturt getting up. The Westies need to win to keep touch with the top four and frankly their side is too good not to play finals, but the Roosters also have such a consistent lineup it is hard to imagine them not competing at the pointy end. North has just brought in a potential debutant in Monika Ney to an extended bench, with not too much needing changed for the reigning premiers. Despite Marinoff coming back for Glenelg, the Roosters have not unleashed Anne Hatchard yet, with the team having a strong enough team on its own with Leah Tynan, Brianna Arthur and Erica Greet rolling through the midfield. Youngsters Kate Case and Julia Clark are versatile enough to slot in anywhere, whilst the defence of Kristi Harvey, Amber Ward and Talia Radan is just ridiculously strong. Amelie Borg can be utilised as a more athletic tall, whilst Jaimi Tabb has the freedom to play inside or out, add in Lauren Gauci who returned in style to the competition, and Ash Woodland up front, and the Roosters have so much past and present AFLW talent. West Adelaide has plenty of talent itself, as one of the most exciting young sides. Sarah Dargan, Ailish Considine and talented junior Lauren Young form a massive midfield trio, while Chelsea Biddell and Melanie Elsegood are reliable targets to hit up forward. The talls are surrounded by young talent in Zoe Venning, Abbie Ballard and Charlie Scutchings, while Imogen Loftes was one of four players to return, and slots straight onto a wing. Sharni Whiting has been strong overhead in defence for the Westies this season, while Madi Russell and Taylah Jayne have also served as strong interceptors and rebounders. This is a 50/50 game with North Adelaide having an incredibly experienced defence, but there is something about West Adelaide that could see the Bloods grab the win and make the final week interesting.

Picture credit: SANFL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture credit: On The Ball Media

Adelaide eyes off third AFL Women’s flag

REIGNING AFL Women’s premiers Adelaide Crows have booked their ticket to the 2021 AFLW Grand Final with a convincing 5.3 (33) to 1.9 (15) defeat of Melbourne in the preliminary final on Saturday at the Adelaide Oval. Although they lost the inside 50 battle 28 to 30, Adelaide were far more efficient going forward and deserve the opportunity to challenge for their third women’s premiership against an impressive Brisbane outfit next week.

Midfielders Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff were the stars for the Crows and clearly the two best players on the ground. Hatchard started the game brilliantly, collecting 18 disposals in the first half and providing plenty of run and carry through the corridor. She finished with 27 disposals, five marks, four tackles and a goal in one of her best ever performances. Partner-in-crime Marinoff was just as prominent, equalling Hatchard’s AFLW record for the most disposals in an AFLW match with 35. She also laid 13 tackles and took five marks in the victory.

Despite the loss, Melbourne midfielders Karen Paxman and Tyla Hanks did not have their colours lowered. These two gathered 48 disposals and ten tackles between them and led the Demons to winning the clearance battle 25 to 18. Unfortunately, they did not get much help from their teammates, who were ineffective with their ball use and lacked composure going inside 50.

The match was a tight arm wrestle early, with both sides attacking the ball with ferocity and not allowing their opponents to get many uncontested possessions. Melbourne were on top and repeatedly got the ball inside 50, but Adelaide’s defence held up well under the pressure. Their resistance was led by captain Chelsea Randall until she was involved in a heavy collision halfway through the first term with Melbourne’s Eliza McNamara. Despite both players solely having eyes for the ball, they clashed heads, abruptly left the field and were ruled out of the match with concussion. Due to the AFLW’s 12-day concussion protocol rule, Randall will be unable to compete in the Grand Final. This is a major loss for the home side, as her versatility and leadership has been a key part of the Crows’ resurgence in 2021. Youngster McNamara was a big loss for the Demons in this match as well given her elite running capacity and consistently fierce attack on the ball.

As the two players departed the field, Adelaide superstar Erin Phillips earned a free kick in a marking contest and booted the first goal of the game. While Melbourne were well led in the first term by Paxman (nine disposals) and Hanks (seven disposals), their teammates kept blazing away going forward. This allowed Adelaide defenders to zone off and take easy intercept marks. Late in the term, Kate Hore did well to provide Brenna Tarrant with an opportunity to kick her side’s first, but she hit the post due to some relentless pressure from Sarah Allan.

Early in the second, Shelley Scott got Melbourne fans excited with a spectacular mark at half-back. Melbourne’s pressure went to another level in the second, as they won many holding the ball decisions and gained greater inside 50 dominance. However, this was when Hatchard lifted for the Crows, and she was instrumental in setting up Adelaide’s second major, kicked once again by Phillips. Although Phillips had a quiet first half by her standards, she still kicked the only two goals in that timeframe. Marinoff had 20 disposals and four tackles at the main break.

In the third, draftee Rachelle Martin was the one to break the game open with some explosive passages of play. First, she found forward Chloe Scheer on the lead with a well-weighted kick, and Scheer nailed the set shot from a tight angle to extend Adelaide’s lead to three goals. One minute later, Martin caught Paxman holding the ball with a strong tackle inside 50, which allowed Hatchard to take the advantage kick the Crows’ fourth. Martin continued to apply relentless pressure and bamboozle Melbourne defenders throughout the term, creating many more chances for the Crows that they failed to capitalise on. This meant that they remained less than four goals up at the last break. However, Melbourne were still goalless at three-quarter time, demonstrating how brilliantly Adelaide’s defence was holding up.

While Melbourne tried to turn the tide in the last, Crows livewire Eloise Jones had other ideas. Jones, who played predominantly in defence throughout the contest, pushed forward and soccerred one of the goals of the year with her opposite foot under significant pressure. Thankfully for the Demons, Hore was able to get out the back of Adelaide’s defence in the ninth minute and slot her side’s first major. It was a well-deserved goal for Hore, who toiled hard all day and was one of Melbourne’s most consistent contributors. The Demons got several more chances to hit the scoreboard in the final term, but they were very inaccurate in front of goal. Despite the windy conditions, a couple of the misses were inexcusable. It did not matter in the end, as Adelaide ran out 18-point victors. In seven days, they will attempt to become the first ever back-to-back AFLW premiers in a rematch of the 2017 AFLW decider.

ADELAIDE 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 5.3 (33)
MELBOURNE 0.2 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 1.9 (15)

GOALS:

Adelaide: E. Phillips 2, E. Jones, A. Hatchard, C. Scheer.
Melbourne: K. Hore.

DC BEST:

Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, R. Martin, S. Allan, M. Rajcic
Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, K. Hore, S. Scott, E. Zanker

Picture credit: Sarah Reed/AFL Photos

AFL Women’s Preliminary Finals preview: Final four sides set to face off for grand final spots

THE AFL Women’s competition has reached its penultimate week of action, with only the top four sides remaining in the race for the 2021 premiership. Fremantle and North Melbourne were eliminated in last weekend’s qualifying matches, setting up what should be a cracking day of football. Two sides refreshed after a week off and two sides looking to keep their momentum rolling following wins last weekend have fans around Australia ecstatic for the preliminary finals ahead. Will top two sides Adelaide and Brisbane justify their positions on the ladder, or will Collingwood and Melbourne do Victoria proud and make their first grand final?

ADELAIDE vs. MELBOURNE
Saturday April 10, 2:10pm
Norwood Oval

Following a strong finish to the season, the Crows ended the home and away season on top of the AFLW ladder. This earned them a week off and the home ground advantage in Saturday’s prelim final. Their spot on top of the ladder also comes with a target on their backs, as they are the team to beat – a feat the in-form Demons will be looking to achieve in this match, with recent history on their side. When these sides last met, the Demons upset the Crows by 28 points in a convincing win. This result will give them confidence as they enter Saturday’s match with the underdog tag.

The Crows will be looking to apply the same pressure to their opponents that was applied to them the last time these teams met. The Demons put the Crows under constant and fierce tackling pressure as they ran out 28-point winners. The Crows will be using this as motivation, and if their midfield can grab control of the game as expected, it will be hard for the Demons to repeat the result earlier this season. Either way, expect a close contest as both teams will be fighting to the final siren to secure a spot in the grand final.

Melbourne will be without Daisy Pearce who injured her medial cruciate ligament (MCL) in the Dees’ Round 9 match against Brisbane and missed her side’s qualifying final victory over the Dockers. She remained on light duties at training on Thursday and was ruled out last night to face the Crows. Apart from Pearce, both sides have no unexpected niggles or issues, with the only players ruled out being on the long-term injury list.

The midfield battle will be the key matchup, with Adelaide’s midfield famously elite amongst the competition with a combination of Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips. This trio often have a large say on the result of their games, but Melbourne have proven their engine room is more than up to the task. Led by veteran on-baller Karen Paxman, the Demons have the capability to match the Crows in the middle and will be looking to do exactly that on Saturday.

Records:

Adelaide: 7-2 (1st)
Melbourne: 
7-2 (4th)

Last 5:

Adelaide: 4-1
Melbourne: 4-1

2021 meeting:

Round 9 – Melbourne by 28

Most goals:

Adelaide: Erin Phillips (12)
Melbourne: Kate Hore (11)

BRISBANE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday April 10, 4:10pm
Hickey Park

Despite top four finishes, both teams finished the season in less-than-ideal form. The Lions and the Pies both lost their final game of the season, but the similarities end there. The Pies pulled off a stunning win over North Melbourne last weekend, kicking three goals in the last quarter to pull of a heist and knock the Kangaroos out of the finals series. They will be looking to keep this momentum going but face a tough task against an experienced Brisbane outfit. The Lions have been in this position before, looking to make their third grand final appearance since the competition’s birth in 2017. They have stars all over the field, and earning a home ground advantage is a massive help. Refreshed after a week’s break, this Lions team will be refreshed and hungry to advance.

Last time these teams met in round seven, it proved to be a thrilling clash that went down to the wire. Moved from Brisbane to Victoria due to COVID risk, neutral ground VU Whitten Oval delivered strong winds that made things tough for both sides. The Lions just came out winners by three points, and two Pies players were injured in the process in what proved to be a costly game. Both sides will reflect on that result and should conditions permit, improve on their performance.

Both sides are quite fortunate on the injury front, with each side only ruling out one player each. For the Lions, their relatively clean bill of health continues, with only Lily Postlethwaite unfortunately ruled out due to an ACL tear suffered earlier in the season. For the Pies, they emerge from last week’s win with no fresh injuries. While Lauren Butler will miss this week’s match, she may recover in time for next weekend should the Pies advance, while Sophie Casey has returned from a concussion.

Lions tagger Cathy Svarc will likely once again have her eye on negating the impact of star Pie Bri Davey. When the two sides faced off in round seven, Svarc held Davey to only 14 disposals, well below her usual output. Davey can have a huge impact on any game given free reign, and the Lions will be keen to prevent this from happening.

Records:

Brisbane: 7-2 (2nd)
Collingwood: 7-2 (3rd)

Last 5:

Brisbane: 4-1
Collingwood: 3-2

2021 meeting:

Round 4 – Brisbane by 3

Most goals:
Brisbane:
Dakota Davidson (13)
Collingwood: Chloe Molloy (14)

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Crows down Magpies to secure minor premiership

THE Adelaide Crows secured the AFL Women’s minor premiership on Sunday afternoon, downing Collingwood by 14 points and showcasing just how well they can shut down their opposition. Whilst the Magpies showed glimpses of their usual form, the Crows capitalised on their home advantage and piled on the pressure across the ground, coming away with the 4.7 (31) to 2.5 (17) victory.

The Crows earned a week off during the first week of finals for their effort, with a solid first quarter effort credit to the team’s spread across the ground and smothering pressure both on and off the ball. A couple of early majors to Justine Mules and Ash Woodland set the tone as Anne HatchardEbony Marinoff and Erin Phillips controlled movement around attack, and while a Jaimee Lambert major kept the Magpies in it during the first, it was all Crows for the remainder of the match as they piled on the offensive pressure.

A huge second quarter saw Adelaide put on a defensive masterclass, locking the Pies out of their attack and forcing turnovers and stoppages aplenty when they entered. The tight contest remained as the Crows missed a couple of chances, but an early Hatchard goal kept the side well ahead of the Pies with a huge second half expected. The Magpies really lacked their usual spark, and while Lambert, Bri Davey and Britt Bonnici kept on driving forward, applying their typical physicality, a concussion to Sophie Casey following a collision with Stevie-Lee Thompson put the side down a player with little momentum heading into the remainder of the match.

The final term saw an early goal from Chloe Molloy spark a bit of excitement into the Magpies, but while they took advantage of their renewed energy to keep in the match, three behinds showed just how tight the Crows defence remained despite putting 0.2 on the board themselves. A 29 per cent efficiency inside 50 saw the Magpies rue their missed chances, with a big week of finals footy coming up.

For the minor premiers, Hatchard (22 disposals, six marks, one goal) and Marinoff (18 disposals, six tackles) led the way as Chelsea Randall, Phillips and Woodland (booted 1.2 from eight disposals) were also named amongst the best and Teah Charlton put a major on the board. The Magpies’ usual suspects earned top honours again, with Lambert (25 touches, eight tackles) and Davey (22 and eight) wreaking havoc but unable to translate on the scoreboard, as Bonnici and Ruby Schleicher piled on 22 touches apiece.

The Magpies will host the second qualifying final on Saturday afternoon, taking on North Melbourne in what should be a tantalising contest. Adelaide earns the qualifying week off and will host a semi-final in two weeks time.

ADELAIDE 2.2 3.4 4.5 4.7 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 1.1 1.2 2.5 (17)

GOALS
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, J. Mules, A. Woodland, T. Charlton
Collingwood: J. Lambert, C. Molloy

BEST
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, C. Randall, E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, A. Woodland
Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, S. Chiocci, S. Rowe

Picture credit: Getty Images

By: Sophie Taylor

Picture credit: Getty Images

GIANTS TEST BLUES AS DARCY GOES BANG

By: Sophie Taylor

FOR two sides looking to get one more win on the board to finish out the home and away season, only pride was on the line as the GWS GIANTS and Carlton Blues went head-to-head in their last match of the season. While Carlton was out of the running for finals contention following North Melbourne’s win on Saturday, it did not stop the side from putting a tough effort out on the field – something they required, with the GIANTS looking to make one last jump up the ladder. But the Blues only just got over the line in a result that was befitting of their disappointing season, coming away with a tight 4.8 (32) to 4.7 (31) win on the road.

Cora Staunton set the tone early and proved the GIANTS would not relent easily with a goal in the opening minutes, but that was all the GIANTS fans would get for the opening term as the Blues tightened up defensively, creating stoppages and limiting the side’s movement. A Darcy Vescio goal to add to her highlights reel saw the Blues spark into action offensively toward the end of the term, but with a one-point ball-game at quarter time there was still plenty to work on. Maddy Prespakis and Bec Beeson were the predominant ball carriers for their respective sides as Alyce Parker also put on a show.

But the side’s momentum was slashed when Staunton once again opened the second term with another major to edge a lead, seeing a string of behinds before Brooke Walker broke the trend with a major to steady the ship. Two more behinds were made by the Blues before Lauren Brazzale extended the Blues lead but it was a frustrating affair as Carlton continued to waste chances to capitalise on their clear momentum. With a 13-point half-time margin the Blues had plenty of chances to run way with it but lacked potency once more, though they were fortunate that the GIANTS also missed chances. It continued to be the Staunton and Vescio show as Staunton kept GWS driving forward but missed the remainder of her three attempts on goal, while Vescio made history booting her 16th goal of the season, winning the goalkicking award for 2021 and becoming the first AFL Women’s player to boot over 15 goals in a season.

It was not enough though as the Blues slowed down in the final quarter, with Tait Mackrill putting her second goal on the board to go one-point down and keep the GIANTS in the hunt with under 10 minutes left on the clock. But defensively, both sides plied their trade well to ensure the tight encounter went down to the wire, with neither side able to create scoring shots as the Blues ran out with the narrowest of wins to complete their season.

For the GIANTS, Beeson’s 27 disposal, four mark and four tackle game saw her lead the charge as Parker (26 and six tackles) plied her trade and Staunton was dangerous up forward booting 2.4 from 13 touches. For the Blues, Prespakis’ 27 touches were crucial as co-captains Katie Loynes (eight tackles, two behinds) and Alison Downie (three rebounds, three tackles) played their last game in the navy blue, putting out solid performances.

GWS GIANTS 1.0 2.1 3.5 4.7 (31)
CARLTON 1.1 3.8 4.8 4.8 (32)

GOALS
GWS Giants: C. Staunton 2, T. Mackrill 2
Carlton: D. Vescio 2, B. Walker, L. Brazzale

BEST
GWS Giants: A. Parker, R. Beeson, C. Staunton, A. Eva, T. Mackrill
Carlton: M. Prespakis, K. Loynes, D. Vescio, J. Hosking, K. Harrington

Picture credit: AFL Photos

Saints punish disappointing Eagles to end season on a high

By: Liam Badkin

ST Kilda has finished its AFLW season in style, while West Coast enters its offseason with plenty to ponder after falling to the Saints in the final game of the home and away season on Sunday afternoon. The Eagles led the visitors by less than a goal at quarter time, but a four goal to nil second quarter saw the Saints stamp their authority on the contest, running away with the win 11.10 (76) to 3.2 (20).

West Coast started the game in style, with rookie Grace Kelly combining with sister Niamh to open the game’s scoring with a blistering goal on the run. The Eagles looked to take control of the game for the majority of the opening term, before the Saints answered through All-Australian forward Caitlin ‘G-Train’ Greiser to bring themselves back into the contest. With a margin of just four points in favour of the Eagles after a quarter of football, it looked as if the 809-strong crowd would be treated to a close game. The second quarter changed this, as the Saints hit their straps and the Eagles began to fall apart. Goals to Greiser, Jess Matin and Molly McDonald saw St Kilda break the game open, while the Eagles were scoreless for the quarter to see themselves on the end of a 22-point deficit at the main break.

The Eagles started the third term with promising signs, resulting in a second goal to Grace Kelly to cut the margin to 18 points in what looked to be the beginning of a comeback. This hope began to fade as former basketballer Tyanna Smith kicked a remarkable goal to keep the Eagles at bay. With a bandage around her forehead, Smith skilfully tapped the ball to her advantage before gathering and shrugging off a tackle and kicking the goal of the day from a tough angle. The goal proved to be a steadier for the Saints as they entered the final break with a 27-point lead over their opponents. The final quarter was decided shortly after it began as the Saints kicked three goals in three minutes through Darcy Guttridge, Kate Shierlaw and Georgia Patrikios to put the game away and finish their 2021 season in style, taking home the win by 56 points.

For the victors, there were excellent performers all over the ground in a clinical performance, but the midfield duo of Patrikos (30 disposals and a goal) and Smith (24 disposals and a goal) clearly stamped their influence on the game. The Saints were electric through the middle and the pair had plenty to do with this. Meanwhile in the forward line Greiser and Matin combined for five goals to give opposition defenders a constant headache. The only negative for the Saints came in the form of a head knock to forward Jacqui Vogt. For the Eagles, Mikayla Bowen (22 disposals and five tackles) and Belinda Smith (18 disposals) battled bravely in what proved to be a tough day at the office.

With both teams failing to qualify for finals, this match up would be their farewell to the 2021 season, as they look ahead to improve and rise up the ladder next year.

WEST COAST 2.0 2.0 3.0 3.2 (20)
ST KILDA 1.2 5.4 6.9 11.9 (76)

GOALS
West Coast: G. Kelly 2, M. Caulfield
St Kilda: J. Matin 3, C. Greiser 2, M. McDonald, T. Smith, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, G. Patrikios, C. Whitfort

BEST
West Coast: M. Bowen, B. Smith, A. Atkins, G. Kelly, K. Orme, M. Ward
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, T. Smith, J. Matin, D. Guttridge, C. Greiser, C. Phillips, K. Shierlaw

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Inaccurate Tigers outlast Eagles for maiden home win

RICHMOND won its first ever match on home soil at Punt Road, holding out in a dreary and tough slog against the West Coast Eagles. With proceedings marred by continuous rain and Eagles injuries, the Tigers held on under pressure for the 5.12 (42) to 5.4 (34) victory.

It was an inaccurate win but a win nonetheless for the Tigers, with the yellow and black faithful treated to a dominant first half from the rapidly improving side. Ellie McKenzieMon Conti and Sarah Hosking were critical through the midfield as Tayla Stahl found her form early, booting two quick goals to pile on the pressure as the Eagles struggled to press forward. But the Tigers’ inaccuracy and missed opportunities allowed West Coast to capitalise in the third, booting three in quick succession as Grace KellyImahra Cameron and Mikayla Bowen all got on the board, with Bowen executing an impressive snap from the boundary to put some hunt into the Eagles.

But whilst the Eagles committed to their second half comeback with Niamh Kelly and Maddy Collier also stepping up to the plate to drive the footy forward, a second Katie Brennan major enabled the Tigers to retain the lead, as a smattering of behinds closed out the match with an eight-point margin and plenty to take out of the tight contest.

For the losing side, Bowen was amongst the best with 21 touches and six marks to go with her two majors, whilst Bella Lewis (18 touches, five tackles), Hayley Bullas (12 touches, six tackles) and Amber Ward (22 disposals) led the charge. For the Tigers, Conti (24 touches), McKenzie (22) and Brennan (two goals, 14 touches) were instrumental, while Stahl (two goals), Christina Bernardi (nine tackles, eight touches, one goal) and Sarah D’Arcy (16 touches, three marks) also proved influential in the side’s third win of the season.

The Tigers will take the field in their final match of the season under Friday night lights against the Western Bulldogs at VU Whitten Oval, whilst the Eagles will finish off their home-and-away season in the final match of the round, hosting St Kilda at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday night.

RICHMOND 2.2 | 3.6 | 4.9 | 5.12 (42)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.2 | 3.3 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS
Richmond: T. Stahl 2, K. Brennan 2, C. Bernardi
West Coast: M. Bowen 2, G. Kelly, I. Cameron, K Pope

BEST
Richmond: M. Conti, E. McKenzie, T. Stahl, K. Brennan, S. D’Arcy
West Coast: M. Bowen, M. Collier, N. Kelly, I. Lewis, K. Gibson

Image credit: Daniel Pockett / Getty Images

 

Image credit: Sarah Reed / Getty Images

High-flying Crows swoop on Dogs

By: Taylah Melki

IT was a blowout over in the South with the Adelaide Crows trouncing the Western Bulldogs 12.6 (78) to 3.4 (22). The one-sided affair really came to the fore in the final term with the Crows piling on four goals to produce a 56-point win. The Bulldogs struggled to generate scoring power throughout the contest booting just three goals for the match and going goalless in the third term, while the Crows had no troubles finding the big sticks.

It did not take long for the Crows to land the first blow with Chloe Sheer making her presence immediately felt on the scoreboard with a major. Her energy trickled through to her teammates as Adelaide moved the ball with tenacity and ease before Erin Phillips slotted her first major of the game moments later. Trying to keep her side afloat Bonnie Toogood stepped up to the plate for the Doggies kicking a major of her own but her efforts were quickly overshadowed by Caitlin Gould.

Playing with confidence the Crows amped up the pressure in the second term forcing turnovers from the Western Bulldogs and capitalising with Gould and Sheer registering their second majors for the game. Applying scoreboard pressure and stifling the Dogs’ ball movement, the home side extended their lead out to as much as 33 points at half time.

Scoring dried up for both sides in the third quarter with only one goal added to the tally coming off the boot of Ash Woodland. Western Bulldogs could not find the big sticks in the third quarter, unable to slot a single goal as the game turned into an arm wrestle of sorts. Despite holding a commanding lead heading into the final change, Adelaide still had plenty to pprove replicating that hot form from earlier in the game and getting down to business in the fourth. Piling on four goals to one in the last stanza the Crows flexed their muscles, spearheaded by Sheer who seemed to have her kicking boots on while Danielle Ponter sent tongues wagging with a stellar mark.

It was a good day at the office for Sheer who managed three goals from her 13 touches while Gould was also electric nailing two majors and picking up 10 touches. Woodland was the other player to score multiple goals with two as five other players managed to add a sole goal to the Crows winning margin. Ebony Marinoff could not be denied with the star midfielder involved in just about everything to top the table with 25 disposals and six marks. Partner in crime, Anne Hatchard was at her usual dominant best recording 19 touches, five marks and six tackles while 21-year-old Eloise Jones left her mark thanks to her 14 touches, four marks and goal. Stevie-Lee Thompson and Phillips managed 14 disposals apiece as Teah Charlton also threw her weight around to walk away with 12 touches and an impressive seven tackles.

Unfortunately it was a tough day at the office for the Dogs but the efforts of Toogood and Brooke Lochland did not go unnoticed. Toogood was the main port of call inside 50 nailing two goals while Lochland racked up the possessions with a team-high 20. Ellie Blackburn was a strong force for the Dogs amassing 19 touches as Eleanor Brown finished with 15 touches and six tackles. Kirsty Lamb chimed in across the ground, not afraid to put her body on the line and tackle hard in what was a solid outing by the 26-year-old who managed 14 touches, a goal and five tackles.

ADELAIDE 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.4 | 12.6 (78)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Adelaide: C. Scheer 3, C. Gould 2, A. Woodland 2, E. Phillips, E. Jones, R. Martin, H. Button, C. Randall
Western Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, K. Lamb

BEST
Adelaide: C. Scheer, E. Marinoff, A. Hatchard, E. Phillips, A. Woodland, E. Jones
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Lochland, K. Lamb, B. Toogood

 

Image credit: Getty Images

Dees nab finals spot with clutch win over Dockers

By: Sophie Taylor

MELBOURNE has cemented its finals chances with a clutch win over a fast-finishing Fremantle outfit, leading for majority of the contest and holding on in a hugely pressurised final few minutes to run out victors 5.7 (37) to 4.8 (32).

It was an explosive start from the Dees that allowed them to hang on under pressure, with a four goal half time lead whittled down to just five points at the final siren. Two first half goals to Kate Hore set the tone as the Demons commanded ball from the get-go on enemy soil, as Karen Paxman led the way around the ground, with the support across the ground allowing the side to maintain control during the hard fought and physical battle. Tempers fired during the third as Roxy Roux intercepted and kicked truly inside 50, as the likes of Kiara Bowers and Hayley Miller worked their way into the match, setting up a huge final term as the margin closed between the two sides. While Bowers was well held early by a rotation of taggers, proceedings seemed to be getting going on the Dockers’ terms during the final quarter with the Dees soon down a rotation as Sinead Goldrick went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, as Roux booted a second and Gemma Houghton put Fremantle in front for the first time with less than 10 minutes on the clock. But Lauren Pearce‘s consistency and ability to take control through the centre continued to pay off, with the Dees benefiting off her vision and taps with Eliza McNamara and Maddi Gay rarely far from the action, with the latter booting the final goal of the game to seal victory and a spot in the top six a week shy of finals.

To the Demons’ credit, it was not just their first half forward pressure that won them the match, but also the side’s ability to maintain pressure during the Dockers’ excellent comeback, controlling proceedings and creating stoppage after stoppage to whittle down the clock and force Fremantle to take risks downfield. Paxman (24 disposals, six marks), McNamara (21 disposals, four tackles, one goal) and Pearce (20 touches, 16 hitouts) were amongst the best for the Dees, while Gay and Hore stepped up during crucial moments and Eden Zanker had some excellent passages under pressure. For the Dockers, Bowers was kept to just 12 touches but still laid 11 tackles, while Miller (13 touches, seven tackles), Tiah Haynes (16 and six) and Roux (two goals, eight touches, five tackles) also showcased some great form.

Both sides head to Victoria for the final round, and while neither require a Round 9 win given they have secured finals positions, both the Dees and Dockers will look to capitalise on their form ahead of the post-season when they come up against fellow finals-bound sides in North Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

FREMANTLE 0.1 | 0.5 | 2.7 | 4.8 (32)
MELBOURNE 3.2 | 4.5 | 4.7 | 5.7 (37)

GOALS
Fremantle: R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan, G. Houghton
Melbourne: K. Hore 2, D. Pearce, E. McNamara, M. Gay

BEST
Fremantle: R. Roux, H. Miller, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, T. Haynes
Melbourne: L. Pearce, K. Paxman, S. Scott, D. Pearce, M. Gay

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: GIANTS strike early to hold off Saints in wet

GWS GIANTS have picked up an important victory on the road, downing St Kilda Saints by 20 points in a traditional wet weather match at RSEA Park. Despite being a mid-afternoon fixture, both sides soon found the going tough with heavy rain impacting the match and drenching not only the players, but the supporters in the almost exclusively outdoor viewing venue. By the time the final siren sounded for everyone to dry off, the GIANTS had got the job done, 7.3 (45) to 3.7 (25).

Coming back into the line-up Rebecca Privitelli made her presence felt with a goal in the opening three minutes with a clever snap to get the visitors on the board. Soon it was new recruit Katherine Smith who doubled the margin, before Cora Staunton, and then Privitelli with her second piling on the pain for the home team at Moorabbin and making the quarter time margin a massive 23 points. The Saints were held goalless in the opening term, and it would not be until Kate Shierlaw struck in the third minute of the second quarter before the home crowd had something to cheer about. Back-to-back behinds to Molly McDonald, and then Jacqueline Vogt‘s miss left some wondering if they might rue the misses, though the conditions were not making it easy on the players. When Darcy Guttridge finally put one through the big sticks at the 11-minute mark, followed by a late Tamara Luke behind, the Saints had clawed their way back to a five-point deficit at the main break.

The third term was an arm-wrestle as neither side could get on the board in the first half of the quarter, and it took some Staunton class in the wet for the GIANTS to gain some much needed breathing space. Then inclusion Privitelli booted her third, and the pair had five of the six goals for the GIANTS, and the lead was back out to 20 points at the final break. When Staunton matched Privitelli with her third major of the contest two minutes into the final term, the game was effectively done and dusted, and the GIANTS were out to a match-high 26-point lead. The final score of the match was a late goal to Caitlin Greiser who slotted one to cut the final deficit to 20 points, but it would be the orange and charcoal visitors who would be making a Big Sound from Tullamarine back to western Sydney.

The wet made it challenging for disposal efficiency, with the GIANTS able to win more of the ball with a plus-28 in that category, and despite having two less inside 50s (23-25) won the rebound 50s count comfortably (22-15). They also dominated the contested possessions (120-86) and won the uncontested possessions as well (80-63), taking five contested marks of 24 to the Saints’ one of 14. To the Saints credit, the home side dominated the tackle count wit ha. whopping 103 tackles to 46, which ensured the GIANTS did not have many easy exits.

Alyce Parker and Georgia Patrikios thrived in the wet for their respective sides, as Parker racked up 28 touches, six marks and four tackles, while Patrikios was not far behind with 27 disposals, one mark and 10 tackles. Catherine Phillips laid a huge 12 tackles to go with her 15 disposals for the Saints, while Alice Burke also hit double-figure tackles with 10, the same amount as her disposals, as did Tyanna Smith (a match-high 14 tackles for nine disposals. Jayde Van Dyk (14 disposals) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (11 disposals, six tackles) also impressed, while for the GIANTS, Rebecca Beeson (18 disposals, two marks and six tackles), Jess Dal Pos (15 disposals, two tackles), Britt Tully (14 disposals, two tackles) and Tarni Evans (11 disposals, two marks) all found plenty of it. The combined six goals of Privitelli and Staunton proved crucial for the GIANTS in wet conditions, with the pair also combining for 21 disposals and six tackles in the win.

ST KILDA 0.1 | 2.7 | 2.7 | 3.7 (25)
GWS GIANTS 4.0 | 4.0 | 6.3 | 7.3 (45)

GOALS:

St Kilda: K. Shierlaw, D. Guttridge, C. Greiser
GWS: C. Staunton 3, R. Privitelli 3, K. Smith.

DC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, T. White, T. Smith, K. Shierlaw
GWS: A. Parker, R. Privitelli, C. Staunton, R. Beeson, B. Tully

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Steve Bell/Getty Images via AFL Photos

ROOS HOLD OFF BULLISH DOGS

By: Michael Alvaro

NORTH Melbourne held off a determined Western Bulldogs outfit on Saturday, earning an 11-point victory at North Hobart Oval to strengthen its spot in the top six. The Roos skipped away to a three-goal buffer at quarter time and while they led at every break, were challenged in the final term as the Bulldogs pressured with five scoring shots to nil, but ultimately came up short in the 5.7 (37) to 3.8 (26) result.

The young pups were made to rue early lapses and a lack of killer instinct once the game was on their terms, seeing North Melbourne hop to an unassailable lead before holding out despite a scoreless final stanza. It means the Bulldogs have it all to do in the final couple of home-and-away rounds, currently sitting a game and percentage outside of the top six and with a couple of teams breathing down their necks.

Superstar Roos Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner again showed their class to lead North to victory, with the former booting a couple of clutch goals in the process. The latter, meanwhile, led all comers with 28 disposals. Ash Riddell was another of the midfield brigade to snare a major, while Ellie Gavalas proved productive playing in her home state and Jess Duffin had her best outing since returning in Round 5.

Spearhead Izzy Huntington returned to scoring form with two of the Bulldogs’ three goals, as partner-in-crime Bonnie Toogood snared the other. It was no surprise to see skipper Ellie Blackburn and the hardened Kirtsy Lamb top their side’s disposal charts once again, proving reliable figures in midfield. Speedy forward Kirsten McLeod suffered a head knock late in the piece and did not play any further part in the match.

Both sides will prepare to take on top six opposition in Round 8. North faces a slightly shorter turnaround for its next match as Brisbane awaits at the Gabba on Saturday, while the Western Bulldogs are also set to travel to take on Adelaide at Norwood Oval on Sunday.

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 | 4.2 | 5.7 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.4 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: E. Kearney 2, D.Bateman, E. King, A. Riddell.
Western Bulldogs: I. Huntington 2, B. Toogood.

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, J. Duffin
Western Bulldogs: K. Lamb, E. Blackburn, I. Huntington, B. Toogood

Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES TURN UP THE HEAT TO CLIP CROWS

By: Michael Alvaro

MELBOURNE consolidated its top six status with a stirring 28-point win over fellow contender, Adelaide at Casey Fields on Saturday night. In damp conditions on their home patch, the Demons turned up the heat with a terrific pressure game and discipline in their structure to down the star-studded Crows 6.7 (43) to 2.3 (15).

Adelaide was essentially beaten at its own game, unable to get on top in midfield and being strangled up forward with two goalless quarters. Meanwhile, Melbourne led at every break and continually applied scoreboard pressure to earn a victory which does wonders for its finals hopes with just a fortnight left in the home-and-away season.

Young midfielder Tyla Hanks was at the core of her side’s triumph, bossing the engine room with a game-high 25 disposals to go with four marks, five tackles, and one goal. The likes of Lily Mithen and Karen Paxman also ticked over 20 touches, while Kate Hore‘s forward nous was good for three important goals, and Eden Zanker proved lively with four marks and a major.

Ebony Marinoff led the Crows disposal count with 24, aided as usual by Anne Hatchard through midfield. Sarah Allan was kept busy in defence along with Angela Foley, while champion Crows Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall did their best to create some sort of spark moving forward. While the latter booted a goal, the Phillips finished without one for the first time in 2021.

The Crows will look to regroup and rebound with another tricky test against the Western Bulldogs in Round 8, while Melbourne faces another massive test in the form of Fremantle. Both sides are set to play on Sunday evening.

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 3, E. Zanker, T. Hanks, L. Pearce.
Adelaide: C. Randall, R. Martin.

DC BEST:

Melbourne: T. Hanks, K. Hore, K. Paxman, L. Mithen, E. Zanker, M. Gay
Adelaide: E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Hatchard, C. Randall E. Phillips, A. Foley