Tag: ash woodland

SANFL Women’s Round 10 wrap: Top two decided as two finals spots up for grabs

NORWOOD and Glenelg have confirmed their spots as the top two sides in the South Australian Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition following wins on the weekend. It left two spots up for grabs, with third placed South Adelaide saluting to have one foot in the post-season series, whilst West Adelaide temporarily dislodged North Adelaide in fourth spot thanks to a victory over the Roosters.

STURT 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.1 (13)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.3 | 5.6 | 7.6 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:

Sturt: A. Ballard, C. Forby.
South: J. Hickey 3, J. Hooper 2, N. Campbell 2, S. Flanagan-Sjoberg, J. Kirk.

DC BEST:

Sturt: K. Mueller, J. Good, J. Wittervan, K. Harris, H. Prenzler
South: T. Charlton, T. Buethke, M. McKinnon, J. Hickey, C. Hammond

South Adelaide has moved into third spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder with a commanding 47-point win over Sturt to all but secure yet another finals series for the two-time premier and reigning runner-up. The Panthers piled on seven of the first eight goals – including three to Jordann Hickey and two to Jorja Hooper – to lead by as much as 42 points at the final break. Chloe Forby kicked the first of the final term, but a couple of late ones in favour of the visitors secured the win, 9.6 (60) to 2.1 (13).

Cheyenne Hammond (16 disposals, five marks, four tackles and three rebound 50s) and Jaslynne Smith (15 disposals, six marks, four tackles, three clearances and two rebound 50s) were both lively out of the back half, while Teah Charlton (15 disposals, six marks, three tackles, two clearances and two rebound 50s) and Nicole Campbell (14 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, three inside 50s and two goals) got it done in opposites halves of the ground roaming through the midfield. Tahlita Buethke (13 disposals, four tackles, five clearances and three inside 50s) was again influential, whilst Montana McKinnon (nine disposals, 31 hitouts, four clearances and four inside 50s) stood tall.

Kiera Mueller led the Double Blues out of defence with 20 disposals, three marks, two tackles and four rebound 50s, whilst Hannah Prenzler (16 disposals, four marks, two clearances and two rebound 50s) was also solid back there. Jess Good (18 disposals, four marks, 23 hitouts and five clearances) was influential around the ground having a great battle with McKinnon, while Jaimee Wittervan (19 disposals, six clearances and three inside 50s) and Kate Harris (16 disposals, two tackles and four clearances) were prolific at the stoppages.

South Adelaide take on West Adelaide next week, with the winner to play finals, and the loser to wait on other results. For Sturt, the Double Blues are a part of those other results, with the chance to stop reigning premiers North Adelaide from entering the top four when they host them at Unley Oval.

NORTH ADELAIDE 0.1 | 0.4 | 1.6 | 2.7 (19)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.1 | 2.3 | 4.3 | 6.3 (39)

GOALS:

North: E. Greet, K. Pope.
West: L. Young, C. Biddell, A. Considine, S. Griffiths, B. Owen.

DC BEST:

North: K. Pope, L. Gauci, A. Ward, M. Ney, P. Waterford
West: L. Young, S. Whiting, C. Biddell, Z. Venning, S. Dargan

West Adelaide has kept its finals hopes alive by knocking off reigning premiers North Adelaide and securing fourth spot heading into the final round. Both sides took a while to get going with the ridiculously strong defences standing tall and not allowing much through. It took until young gun Lauren Young split the big sticks in the second term to break the drought, with the Bloods booting the first four goals of the game to lead by 23 points midway through the third term. North Adelaide kicked the next two of the match – and could have had more with the likes of Ash Woodland (three behinds) and Tayla Thorn (two) both having chances, but late majors to State Academy members Young and Scarlett Griffiths sealed the 20-point win.

Young was outstanding once again, collecting 20 disposals, taking seven marks – three contested – laying six tackles, and having two clearances, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s, as well as slotting her two goals. In defence, Sharni Whiting was back to her best, racking up a match-high 22 disposals, as well as seven marks – two contested – and six rebound 50s. The AFLW experience of Ailish Considine (15 disposals, two marks and a goal), Sarah Dargan (15 disposals, two marks, 11 tackles and two clearances) and Chelsea Biddell (14 disposals, five marks – two contested – three tackles, eight hitouts, four inside 50s and a goal) counted for plenty, while Zoe Venning was fierce around the ground picking up 15 disposals, five marks, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

For North, Katelyn Pope kicked a goal and had a team-high 19 disposals, as well as two marks, three tackles and two clearances, while Lauren Gauci (15 disposals, four marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and Amber Ward (14 disposals, three marks and three rebound 50s) were superb bringing back their AFLW experience. Woodland had chances with her three behinds, but still put together a solid performance of 13 disposals, two marks, four tackles and two inside 50s while Poppy Waterford (12 disposals, two marks, two clearances, four inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and debutant Monika Ney (10 disposals, five tackles and five clearances) also impressed.

The final round is huge for both these teams, with West Adelaide needing a win to secure a finals spot when they take on the Panthers, while if they lose, they will need Sturt to knock off North Adelaide, otherwise North will take fourth position back and knock the Bloods out of the finals.

NORWOOD 4.0 | 4.0 | 5.1 | 6.2 (38)
CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.5 (35)

GOALS:

Norwood: E. Drake 2, R. Zerella 2, N. Allen, J. Halfpenny.
Central: A. Butler, K. Rosenzweig, C. Scheer, L. Breguet, C. Wendland.

DC BEST:

Norwood: L. Cutting, N. Allen, A. Ferrall, S. Armitstead, J. Halfpenny
Central: S. Smith. C. Scheer, K. Rosenzweig, L. Breguet, K. Searle

A fast start has helped Norwood secure the minor premiership and sit pretty heading into the final round to prepare for Glenelg in the first week of finals. The Redlegs piled on four goals in the opening term to race out to a 23-point lead at quarter time. Central District showed the amount of development over the past 12 months by fighting back to boot four of the next five goals over the two quarters to head into the final break just three points down. Norwood kicked a steadier early in the quarter, before Katelyn Rosenzweig almost stole the win for the Bulldogs with a couple of chances on goal to boot 1.1, with her second shot in the remaining 10 seconds missing for the Redlegs to win 6.2 (38) to 5.5 (35).

Leah Cutting was enormous around the ground, dominating in the ruck with 17 disposals, six marks – two contested – 10 tackles, 38 hitouts, four clearances, three inside 50s and four rebound 50s in a clear best afield effort. Najwa Allen (18 disposals, two marks, two clearances and 1.2) also impressed in the midfield, while Sophie Armitstead (10 disposals, five tackles, five clearances, three inside 50s and two rebound 50s) aided her cause. Youngsters Jade Halfpenny (11 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) and Alana Lishmund (13 disposals, seven tackles) found their fair share of the ball, as did Alison Ferrall (12 disposals, two marks, three tackles and six rebound 50s) in defence.

Captain Shelby Smith led from the front for the Bulldogs, picking up 14 touches, laying nine tackles and having two clearances and two inside 50s. Rosenzweig (13 disposals, four marks – two contested – four tackles, two hitouts, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Chloe Scheer (13 disposals, three marks – one contested – four tackles, two clearances, four inside 50s and one goal) both hit the scoreboard. State Academy players Lauren Breguet (10 disposals, three marks – one contested – four tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) and Laitiah Huynh (nine disposals, three tackles) had solid performances, while Karissa Searle (eight disposals, four inside 50s and Caitlen Teague (seven disposals, three marks three tackles and two inside 50s) also tried hard throughout the contest.

Norwood takes on Woodville-West Torrens Eagles in the final round in a battle of top-against-bottom, with the result effectively negligible for the Redlegs who have secured top spot. They will still want to head into the post-season series with a win, whilst for the Eagles, a victory could keep them from the wooden spoon. Central District has done enough to ensure they cannot win the wooden spoon in 2021, but are not completely out of the race for finals. They need West Adelaide to lose to South Adelaide, and Sturt to upset North Adelaide in order to grab fourth spot.

WWT EAGLES 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.4 (4)
GLENELG 2.2 | 3.3 | 7.5 | 11.6 (72)

GOALS:

Eagles: Nil.
Glenelg: M. Freeman 3, M. Girvan 2, E. Kellock 2, C. Swanson, C. Gould, S. Franson, C. Packer.

DC BEST:

Eagles: A. Falkenberg, S. Goody, K. Lee, N. Collie, R. Forth
Glenelg: E. Marinoff, M. Girvan, T. Kohn, C. Gould, B. Tonon

In the most one-sided game of the season, Glenelg has stormed to an easy 68-point belting of last placed Woodville-West Torrens Eagles to secure second spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder heading into the finals. The Bays booted eight goals in the second half after only leading by 21 points at the main break, restricting the home side to just two behinds in each quarter. Glenelg had 58 more disposals, 30 more hitouts, 28 more clearances and 25 more inside 50s in an old fashioned shellacking.

A player by the name of Ebony Marinoff did alright upon her return to state level from the AFLW, racking up a casual 30 touches, three marks, five tackles, 10 clearances and five inside 50s, having more clearances than the entire opposition team (10-9). She had plenty of support around her though, with Tessa Kohn (16 disposals, four tackles, six clearances and three inside 50s) and Ellie Kellock (12 disposals, two marks, two tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and two goals) both influential at the stoppages, and Meara Girvan (15 disposals, five marks – two contested – 23 hitouts, three clearances and two goals) and Caitlin Gould (13 disposals, five marks – one contested – four tackles, 22 hitouts, two clearances, two inside 50s and a goal) taking control through the ruck. Brooke Tonon (14 disposals, two marks, five tackles, two clearances and four rebound 50s was again impressive off half-back, while Jessica Bates (13 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and two inside 50s) was consistent yet again.

Anastasia Falkenberg was a clear standout of the Eagles in the heavy loss, collecting a team-high 18 disposals, five marks and 10 tackles, while Shineah Goody continued her strong debut season with 17 touches, four marks, three tackles and two rebound 50s. Kiana Lee (14 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebound 50s), Nicole Collie (12 disposals, three marks and five rebound 50s) and Renee Forth (16 disposals, four marks – two contested – and three tackles) also tried hard against stiff opposition.

Woodville-West Torrens Eagles finish their season up against minor premiers Norwood who come in winning eight of the past nine games, and the Eagles’ hope that the chance of missing the wooden spoon will spur them onto victory against a Redlegs side that already has locked up top spot. For the Bays, second place is secure, but they can knock Central District out of the finals race of they get up in the Saturday afternoon clash at ACH Group Stadium.

Picture credit: John Emery / SANFL

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

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 Saturday wrap: Lions set up potential top of the table clash

By: Peter Williams

BRISBANE Lions have set up a potential top of the table clash with Collingwood – provided the Pies win today – after grabbing their fifth win of the season against GWS GIANTS yesterday. The Lions were a touch inaccurate, booting 7.13 (55) to 2.5 (17), but it was enough to secure the comfortable 38-point win and temporarily move into top spot. With five individual goalkickers for their seven goals, the Lions shared the goals around on the afternoon, and moved to a 5-1 record heading into the final three rounds of the season.

Dakota Davidson was quick off the mark, scoring a goal in the opening two minutes of the match to get the visitors up and about early. New recruit Courtney Hodder soon added her first at the 12-minute mark with a remarkable effort close to goal in tight space under pressure, and Jess Wuetschner in her second game back converted one, and the Lions were out to an 18-point lead with a few minutes remaining in the first term. The quarter time margin – which extended by one from that point courtesy of a Hodder behind – was 20 points, and the Lions were already looking in control of the match.

That only increased in the second term, as Isabel Dawes scored an early goal two minutes into the quarter, and fellow youngster Jade Ellenger drove the dagger in further with a fifth individual goalkicker in the match. When Davidson snagged her second of the contest late in the quarter, the margin had blown out to 39 points, and would by 41 by half-time. The GIANTS were unable to put one through the big sticks, while the Lions were sharing the ball around going inside 50 and reaping the rewards of doing so.

Dawes kicked her second major of the game again early in the third, as the six-and-a-half minute mark ticked past and Brisbane was out to a 49-point lead. It was at this point, the GIANTS began to rise. Katherine Smith was the first to respond two minutes later, and the goal drought was broken. Whilst the GIANTS would not kick another major until the final stanza through Emily Bennetts, they restricted the visitors to just three behinds in the final half an hour of action. The dried up scoring mattered little for the Lions however, as they claimed the important win.

Davidson snagged two goals from 10 disposals, four marks and five tackles to be lively in the first half, while Dawes managed the 11 disposals and four tackles to go with her two majors. Emily Bates was the top disposal winner for the Lions, picking up 20 touches, three marks and three tackles, while fellow midfielder Ally Anderson, and All-Australian defender Kate Lutkins racked up the 19 disposals. Tahlia Hickie was influential in the ruck, and Wuetschner was again lively, kicking a goal from 12 touches, three marks and four tackles.

For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva picked up 22 disposals, four marks and two tackles, ahead of Britt Tully (19 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Young gun Alyce Parker was again busy across the game with 16 disposals, two marks and six tackles, as was Rebecca Beeson (16 disposals, four tackles) and another rising star talent in Georgia Garnett (15 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Bennetts not only kicked the final goal of the game, but had 15 disposals and five marks to boot as well. Brisbane Lions set their sights on Collingwood next Sunday at Hickey Park, while the GIANTS head to RSEA Park on Saturday to clash with the Saints in what are both expected to be tight contests.

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)
BRISBANE 3.3 | 6.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:
Greater Western Sydney: Smith, Bennetts.
Brisbane: Davidson 2, Dawes 2, Hodder, Wuetschner, Ellenger

DC BEST:
Greater Western Sydney: Eva, Parker, Beeson, Bennetts, Garnett
Brisbane: Davidson, Lutkins, Bates, Dawes, Anderson

Picture credit: via Adelaide FC

ADELAIDE SEND WARNING SHOT WITH RECORD-BREAKING WIN

By: Tom Cheesman

ADELAIDE has continued its strong run of form with a 70-point smashing of Gold Coast at Norwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Crows held their opponents scoreless in the first and third terms while piling on 13 goals of their own for the match, an AFLW record. Adelaide controlled the inside 50s (41-19) and were far more efficient with their disposals inside 50 (56 to 37 per cent). Stevie-Lee Thompson (17 disposals, two marks, one goal) provided plenty of run and carry all day for the Crows, while Anne Hatchard (21 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ebony Marinoff (20 disposals, eight tackles) were influential in the midfield. Superstar Erin Phillips and Danielle Ponter kicked six goals (and had 10 scoring shots) between them, while Alison Drennan (29 disposals, seven tackles) and Kalinda Howarth (18 disposals) worked tirelessly for the visitors.

There were major injury issues for both sides in the opening minutes of the contest. First, Adelaide small defender Nikki Gore courageously flew from the side into a marking contest and went down with a suspected ankle fracture. Two minutes later, Gold Coast midfielder Jamie Stanton‘s ankle buckled underneath her when she laid a tackle in her side’s defensive 50. She was taken from the ground on a stretcher and was seen on crutches after the match. Once the match got going, Sarah Allan immediately set the tone for Adelaide in defence. She made a significant impact defensively but also initiated some counterattacking ball movement with effective forward handballs off half-back. Hatchard was able to kick the Crows’ first after a perfect pass from Phillips, and captain Chelsea Randall soccered through her side’s  second soon after.

For the fourth consecutive week, Adelaide held their opponents scoreless in the opening term. Regardless, it was not all doom-and-gloom for the Suns early. Howarth was classy with her ball use coming out of congestion, Kate Surman found plenty of the ball, and Tori Groves-Little took some spectacular marks up forward in her first quarter of the season. The Suns looked positive at the start of the second term, as Daisy D’Arcy found Leah Kaslar on the lead for their first goal of the day. However, the Crows noticed that the Suns were within a goal and quickly got the game back on their terms.

Ash Woodland earned a free for a hold and kicked truly from 30 metres out, and then Chloe Scheer set up Ponter for her first. Second-gamer Rachelle Martin redeemed herself after dropping a mark inside 50 by applying relentless forward pressure, earning a free kick and snapping her first goal in AFLW. Gold Coast’s only chance to score was from centre clearances at this point because, much like St Kilda last Sunday, they were unable to cleanly move the ball out of their defensive 50 through Adelaide’s zone.

In stark contest, Adelaide ran the ball out of their defence very easily, picking holes in Gold Coast’s defence at will. After Ponter and Phillips kicked back-to-back goals, Gold Coast won a centre clearance and got a late goal through Surman. Although Surman and Drennan had a whopping 33 touches between them at the main break, the Crows held a convincing 30-point lead. Ferocious Adelaide player Scheer extended her side’s lead at the start of the third by earning a free and putting through a set shot. Phillips set the ground alight when she unloaded a huge barrel off half-back, but unfortunately for the home fans it went straight to Elizabeth Keaney, who took several intercept marks in the third term. Thompson continued her impressive performance by running onto a loose ball and drilling the Crows’ ninth, and it was very clear that the Suns had no answers on how to stop Adelaide’s momentum.

After some relentless pressure from Teah Charlton and Woodland, Phillips earned a free for being blocked in a marking contest and kicked her second. Things soured for the Crows at the end of the third term, as Hannah Button dislocated her shoulder while reaching to lay a tackle and left the field in the hands of trainers. Adelaide did not slow down to start the fourth, continuing to pepper the goals and refusing to let the ball out of their forward half. This led to Ponter kicking another, this time from a forward 50 stoppage. Soon after, a duck through traffic and clever handball over the shoulder from Phillips set up Ponter for her fourth.

On the other side, all of Gold Coast’s forward movement came through Groves-Little, who got little-to-no support at that end of the ground. When Crows captain Randall got on the end of some unselfish ball movement from Phillips and Thompson to kick her second, Adelaide’s score moved to 85 points, just one behind shy of the highest score in AFLW history (12.14.86 by the 2018 Western Bulldogs). As Adelaide went for the record, the Suns were finally able to lock the ball in their forward 50 for an extended period. Sally Riley had some good moments during this stretch, but the Suns failed to capitalise on her hard work and only added one behind to their total.

After a late end-to-end transition by the Crows, Dee Heslop laid a brilliant tackle on Ponter in the goal square to save a certain score and keep the Bulldogs’ scoring record intact. Regardless, it was a percentage-boosting win that Adelaide’s coaches will be pleased with as they move into the final three rounds of the home and away season.

Next week, Adelaide hit the road to face Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Gold Coast will aim to get their first win of 2021 when they take on the Tigers in a Friday night clash at Metricon.

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 7.2 | 10.5 | 13.7 (85)
GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:
Adelaide: D. Ponter 4, E. Phillips, C. Randall 2, S. Thompson, A. Woodland, R. Martin, C. Scheer, A. Hatchard.
Gold Coast: L. Kaslar, K. Surman.

DC BEST:
Adelaide: S. Thompson, E. Phillips, D. Ponter, A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, T. Groves-Little, K. Howarth, K. Surman, S. Riley

Picture credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES DOWN SAINTS TO KEEP SEASON ALIVE

By: Sophie Taylor

IT was a tight encounter between Melbourne and St Kilda on Saturday night, with both sides looking to get back on the winners list this season after big losses last round. It was the Demons that got a confident and comfortable percentage-boosting victory on the board on home soil at Casey Fields, running out 9.12 (66) to 3.4 (22) victors, credit to a consistent four-quarter effort.

The Dees were on the offensive from the get-go, driving forward and flooding the 50m to lock the ball in attack. It appeared the Melbourne coaching staff were not afraid to switch things up a bit heading into this matchup, with a couple of shaky matches over the last few weeks making for a different approach in the forward line. A classy kick from Maddi Gay hit Daisy Pearce on a lead at the top of the square with the Dees legend putting the first goal of the game through, before minutes later Alyssa Bannan rid herself off her recent goal drought with an excellent running goal to put a second on the board. The Saints were still yet to make it inside their own 50m though despite piling pressure on through midfield, with the Dees making it tough to clear the footy. Gay and Tyla Hanks were never far from the footy as Sainters Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Cat Phillips contested well, while Kate Shierlaw also kept on the pressure around the ground, rarely beaten.

The remainder of the first was hotly contested with Melbourne unable to put a third major on the board despite locking the footy inside 50, and leading 14-0 at the first change. A huge inside 50 from Georgia Patrikios started the second quarter, surging the footy forward, and while it did not work to the Saints’ favour, the effort paid off with the Saints given a couple of chances to put on the scoreboard pressure, all to no avail. An excellent run down midfield from Hanks earned a free kick down field for a late push in the back, with a goal right in front from Shelley Scott undoing all the hard work the Saints had done early to lock the footy inside 50. While she was well held early, Patrikios fired up in the second quarter, throwing herself at the contest and doing everything she could to pile on the pressure around the ground.

The Saints strung some great minutes together in forward 50 as Nat Exon finally put the Saints on the board, reducing the margin and seeing the Saints build up their confidence with a couple more attempts coming in thick and fast but to no avail. The Dees’ midfield was on fire, and led by Hanks and Karen Paxman, they were crucial in quickly and efficiently driving down the centre. A free kick to Tegan Cunningham kept the scoreboard ticking over, seeing an 18-point half-time margin and an intense contest brewing.

A huge first few minutes of the third quarter saw plenty of argy bargy from both sides, with a tough battle through the midfield and Melbourne’s midfielders doing the trick to drive the footy forward, while St Kilda’s defence was just staying ahead of the pack to maintain possession. Lauren Pearce continued her excellent first half efforts utilising her height and footy smarts, before an excellent passage from Eden Zanker saw the forward kick directly to Daisy Pearce at the top of the square once more, before another goal to Bannan saw the second half kick off to an eerily similar way to the beginning of the match, though this time seeing a 31-point margin with 10 left in the third quarter. 

A goal to Jackie Parry saw the Dees extend their lead further, with the remainder of the match played on Melbourne’s terms as Caitlin Greiser was moved down back to help work the Saints back into the match but to no avail as Rosie Dillon, Rhi Watt and Hannah Priest continued to throw themselves into the contest. But it was a second scoreless term for the Saints, trailing by 39 points at the final change. The Dees needed a percentage boost ahead of the remaining three rounds of the season, and that’s what they got as the Saints failed to close the margin.

Zanker continued her solid work across the ground, putting a couple of behinds on the board and worrying the Saints but ultimately unable to find the big sticks, before Eliza McNamara topped off an excellent effort with her maiden goal. A maiden Claudia Whitfort goal reduced the margin a fraction but it was not enough, with the Dees creating a highlight reel up forward with their continuous hunt on the footy, and Kate Hore joining the party inside 50 with some slick skills towards the latter stage of the match. A Tamara Luke goal with just over two minutes of the clock did plenty for the Saints’ work rate but unfortunately not enough to really shake the Dees, with the home side running out 44-point winners credit to a solid four quarter effort.

For the losing side, Priest, Patrikios and Phillips were the leading ball-winners with 17 disposals apiece, and combining for 15 tackles between them. Dillion picked up 12 touches and eight tackles, whilst Watt (15 touches and five marks) also proved crucial. For the Dees, Lauren Pearce was a revelation in the ruck with 22 touches, 21 hitouts, four tackles, four marks and a behind, whilst Hanks (22 and four tackles), Zanker (23, eight marks and three behinds) and Paxman (24 touches)  were also heavily involved in the contest. Daisy Pearce booted her two from 13 touches and six marks, whilst Lily Mithen and Scott piled on the pressure with six tackles each.

The Dees will have their work cut out for them in the remaining three rounds of the season, currently sitting just outside the top six and matches against Adelaide (second), Fremantle (fourth) and Brisbane (first) awaiting. They host Adelaide during the same Saturday evening timeslot in a week’s time, whilst the Saints host the Giants in the early Saturday timeslot at RSEA Park.

MELBOURNE | 2.2 | 4.3 | 7.6 | 9.12 (66)
ST KILDA | 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Melbourne: D. Pearce 2, A. Bannan 2, S. Scott, T. Cunningham, J. Parry, E. McNamara, K. Hore.
St Kilda: N. Exon, C. Whitfort, T. Luke.

DC BEST
Melbourne: L. Pearce, T. Hanks, D. Pearce, E. Zanker, M. Gay
St Kilda: H. Priest, G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, R. Watt, R. Dillon

2021 AFLW Preview: Adelaide Crows

ADELAIDE will aim to catapult itself back into premiership contention after an injury-riddled 2020 season. Head coach Matthew Clarke has made some major changes to his coaching staff, with club greats Scott Thompson and Tom Lynch joining the panel. The trio will restock Adelaide’s side with a number of returning premiership stars.

2020 RECAP
The Crows finished sixth in Conference A last year, winning just two of their six matches. Premiership players Chelsea Randall and Chloe Scheer missed the entire season with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions, while Deni Varnhagen and superstar Erin Phillips only played three matches between them as they returned from their own respective knee issues. Injuries to several other players meant that the Crows were forced to blood more and more youngsters as the season progressed. Adelaide’s two wins came early in the season against St Kilda and Geelong, two sides that did not qualify for finals in 2020. Realistically, the Crows just struggled to move the ball from end to end and failed to apply enough pressure on opposition sides.

A shining light throughout 2020 was midfielder Anne Hatchard, who won their best and fairest and made the AFLW All-Australian side after averaging 25 disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s per game. Tackling machine Ebony Marinoff was effective alongside her at the clearances, but the pair did not get much help from the Crows’ wingers or forwards, particularly late in the season. Sarah Allan was the side’s other strong performer, as she led Adelaide’s defence well and was rewarded with a spot in the All-Australian side.

NEW FACES
Lively forward Jess Sedunary returns to the club after playing one season for expansion side St Kilda. Sedunary was a premiership player for the Crows in 2017 and is a proven goalkicker at senior level. Although she is coming off a broken fibula and may take some time to reach full strength, she will bring a wealth of leadership and experience to the group. Former Giant Lisa Whiteley will be an important addition to the Crows’ defence, while young winger Hannah Munyard, who has good pace and skills, provides some much-needed depth after playing three games for the Bulldogs in her debut season.

Draftees Teah Charlton, Rachelle Martin and Ash Woodland are three readymade recruits that should make an immediate impact for the club. Charlton, taken with pick four in the AFLW Draft, is a talented midfielder and half-forward from South Adelaide with goal sense, effective ball use, overhead marking ability and aggression. Expect her to be in the running for the NAB AFLW Rising Star Award. Midfielder Martin won the South Australian National Football League Women’s (SANFLW) 2020 best and fairest award (alongside Hatchard) and played a match for the Crows last year as an injury-replacement player. Flexible utility Woodland gained AFLW experience for Melbourne in 2019 before winning North Adelaide’s best and fairest award last year in a premiership side. She also won the SANFLW Leading Goalkicker award in 2020.

With Randall, Scheer, Varnhagen, Hannah Button, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Phillips all set for full seasons this year after serious injuries in 2020, they can be considered ‘new faces’ as well. On the other hand, Adelaide loses veteran Courtney Gum along with premiership players Jess Foley, Courtney Cramey and Sophie Li to retirement.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021
Chelsea Randall is the one to watch. She is arguably the most courageous defender in AFLW and her skills, leadership and football IQ were sorely missed last year. With Randall positioned alongside Allan and Marijana Rajcic in defence, Adelaide should prove very difficult to score against.

Justine Mules is the other Crow to keep an eye on. She finished third in Adelaide’s 2020 best and fairest count after averaging 11 disposals, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. The two-time premiership player has shown continuous improvement since her debut season and looks set to have a major impact on a wing in 2021.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT
Two words: premiership experience. With 19 premiership players on their list, the Crows have more of these than any other side in the competition. This experience will prove valuable in finals, and it is well known that the Crows’ top names are made for the biggest stage. With numerous young players rising up the ranks and some veterans nearing the end of their careers, the hunger to recapture premiership glory should be there as well.

QUESTION MARK
Adelaide’s lack of depth is their biggest question mark. This was exposed last season following injuries to their franchise players, as the young Crows struggled to hold up their end of the bargain. However, this experience could prove valuable for the inexperienced players as they should now be more comfortable competing at senior level. Additionally, the inclusions of Sedunary, Whiteley, Munyard and the draftees should help improve their depth.

FINAL WORD
A line-up that includes Randall, Marinoff, Hatchard, Phillips and Allan is a scary proposition for any opposition side. The Crows have elite talents all across the ground and should catapult back into finals contention, but it is unclear whether they are truly premiership contenders. Fremantle, North Melbourne and Carlton were the best sides in 2020 and deserve favouritism ahead of the Crows at this stage.

Much of Adelaide’s hopes depend on the fitness and agility of the seasoned players returning from injury. Their forward line was the main area that struggled last year, as they often failed to lock the ball inside their forward 50 and relied far too heavily on Stevie-Lee Thompson, Eloise Jones and Danielle Ponter. The returns of Scheer, Phillips, Sedunary and Button should help spread the workload in this area.

We we will learn more about the Crows’ premiership aspirations when their season gets underway on the 30th of January against the Demons.



For more AFLW news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Picture: Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images

2020 AFL Women’s Draft preview: The next crop of young stars to find homes tonight

TONIGHT up to 61 players will live out their AFL Women’s dreams when the 14 clubs select the players to fill out the 2021 lists at the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Like most years, the AFL Women’s Draft still has state-based selections with Adelaide (South Australia) and GWS GIANTS (New South Wales) having sole priority to players that nominate that state. In Queensland (Brisbane and Gold Coast) and Western Australia (Fremantle and West Coast) the teams will split the players, whilst the remaining 10 teams will fight over the Victorian pool. The one major change is that there is only a Victorian pool, not split into Metropolitan and Geelong, so the Cats do not have priority on those from the region.

Richmond holds the all-important first pick in the draft which is expected to kick off from 7pm. There are a number of players the Tigers could select, but the frontrunner is Northern Knights’ star Ellie McKenzie, an inside midfielder who can play just about anywhere on the field and has been a proven talent for a number of years now.

[ … Ellie McKenzie feature … ]

Western Bulldogs traded up from Pick 3 to Pick 2 to ensure they could nab the second best player in the draft, with Tyanna Smith high up there in contention. The Dandenong Stingrays’ star has very few flaws in her game and has elite acceleration and a match-winning ability. The other one in contention if the Dogs opt to go tall could be another Northern Knights’ star in Alyssa Bannan as another forward option, as she can play tall or small and even push up into the midfield.

[ … Tyanna Smith feature … ] | [ … Alyssa Bannan feature … ]

Also in the mix for the top Victorian picks are Sandringham Dragons’ Sarah Hartwig, a rebounding defender who could fill the need at Melbourne with Pick 5. Whichever player is left of the trio, expect the Saints to pounce on with Pick 6 in what showcases the elite top-end talent of this year’s group. Another possibility for the pick could be Northern Knights’ Jess Fitzgerald if the Saints choose to add extra midfield class to their side.

[ … Sarah Hartwig feature … ] | [ … Jess Fitzgerald One to Watch  … ]

West Coast and Adelaide also have top five picks coming in at picks three and four, with the Eagles having a decision to make whether they go high-flying Shanae Davison from their own aligned-Academy or if they look at someone like Sarah Verrier, a Peel Thunder talent with a great blend of inside-outside traits or Bella Lewis a hardened midfielder who has been sensational this year. The Crows are expected to be a little more predictable, with Teah Charlton the standout prospect, though given they have a monopoly on the South Australian nominees, they can select anyone in any order.

[ … Shanae Davison feature … ] | [ … Sarah Verrier feature … ] | [… Bella Lewis … ] | [ … Teah Charlton feature … ]

Gold Coast becomes the first Queensland team into the draft at Pick 7, and with players still able to nominate the Gold Coast and Brisbane zones, a Suns Academy member such as Annise Bradfield, Daisy D’Arcy, Maddison Levi or Beth Pinchin could be among those in consideration. For the Lions a pick later, Zimmorlei Farquharson looms as the standout youngster in the group.

[ … Annise Bradfield … ] | [ … Daisy D’Arcy feature … ] | [ … Maddison Levi feature … ] | [ … Zimmorlei Farquharson feature … ]

The final pick inside the top 10 is Geelong and they have the most interesting selection with the top group likely off the board, it is an even balance of players they could choose from. If they opt to go local – knowing they do not have priority – then perhaps the skill and class of Falcons’ Darcy Moloney could be an option. If they want to go a little taller, then Isabelle Pritchard could head down the highway from the Western Jets and provide a strong inside presence, or they could look to a proven big-game performer in Northern Knights’ Fitzgerald.

[ … Darcy Moloney feature … ] | [ … Isabelle Pritchard feature … ]

Western Bulldogs become the first team to make their second selection at Pick 11, which is effectively Pick 6 from the Victorian draft. If they went Smith in the first selection, they could look to go taller here and look to someone like Bulldogs’ supporter Pritchard or perhaps consider Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber. If they went for Bannan with their second selection, perhaps Fitzgerald is one to join the ranks as yet another Knight, whilst the likes of classy forward Bella Eddey or outside mover Mimi Hill could come into consideration through the first round.

[ … Olivia Barber feature … ] | [ … Bella Eddey feature … ] | [ … Mimi Hill feature … ]

Carlton enter the draft at Pick 12, and the names already raised in Fitzgerald, Hill and Eddey could be around the mark, though if they want to add an inside midfielder, then perhaps Falcons’ Laura Gardiner could be a suggestion. North Melbourne are next up and will also be keen to add another midfielder to the ranks, and try and predict what Melbourne (Picks 15 and 17) and Western Bulldogs (Pick 16) are going to do. If the Dees did not end up with Hartwig, then they could look at Dandenong Stingrays’ Zoe Hill with a selection, or if Pritchard has somehow slid, she is another defensive option.

[ … Laura Gardiner feature … ] | [ … Zoe Hill feature … ]

The West Australian teams squeeze in between the Victorian ones, with Fremantle likely to grab one of Verrier or Bella Lewis at the pick. Both are Fremantle-aligned and the Dockers know they can have an immediate impact in last year’s unbeaten side. The Eagles could look to Davison – if not already taken – or the classy Mikayla Morrison with this selection, or go for the ready-made Nyra Anderson at Pick 18.

[ … Bella Lewis feature … ] | [ … Mikayla Morrison feature … ] | [ … Nyra Anderson feature … ]

The last team to enter the draft is Collingwood with Pick 19 the Magpies’ first selection. Expect that to be Tarni Brown because on talent alone she is a top 10 pick, so the black and white army will gladly use their first pick on the Eastern Ranges’ jet. They will look to add some more midfield options, and she adds some extra speed and class to the team. Expect Alice Burke to be read out at the Saints’ Pick 24 – again great value – otherwise anything else is a bargain.

[ … Tarni Brown feature … ] | [ … Alice Burke feature … ]

The draft crop becomes so even outside of that top 20, with so many talented players fighting for spots on AFL Women’s lists. Ash Woodland and Georgia Nanscawen are readymade prospects who can impact immediately at AFL Women’s level, whilst Alana Barba, Shanara Notman, Nikia Webber, Amber Ward and Mattea Breed are all talls who have an extra year of experience as over-agers. Not holding a Draft Combine invite per say, South Australian duo Rachelle Martin and Matilda Zander would be a couple of others on clubs radars as ones who can make an immediate impact.

Some former basketballers who have crossed to football in the last 12-18 months are Amelia Velardo, Annabel Strahan and Carly Remmos, whilst Jess Matin (cricket) and Charlie Vandenberg (hockey) are among others who have forced high-level careers in other sports. Queenslanders, Christine Okesene, Brooke Spence, Laura Blue and Lucy Single are others who have transferred from various codes over the years.

From a Victorian perspective, among other names in various midfield positions are outside midfielder, Abbey Jordan and Joanna Lin, inside midfielders, Brooke Hards, Olivia Meagher and Winnie Laing, balanced midfielders Eliza McNamara, Megan Fitzsimon and Maeve Chaplin. Meanwhile the standout ruck is Maggie Caris.

Up forward, Renee Saulitis is the most dangerous small forward, whilst Isabella Simmons is a taller option, and Abbi Moloney a rapidly improving player. In defence, Ash Snow has great speed, while the likes of Jemma Finning, Mietta Kendall and Amber Micallef have all produced great seasons. As some raw talents, Alice O’Loughlin and Alice Astbury have had glimpses in the few games they have played, whilst Grace McRae and Daisy Walker have been valuable across multiple positions though predominantly in the middle.

From South Australia, Indy Tahau is the other star top-ager who is likely to join her South Adelaide teammate Charlton at the Crows, whilst for NSW/ACT,  Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, midfielder-defender Emily Pease and surprise packet Kiara Beesley were among the Draft Combine invites. From the Northern Territory, top-ager Stephanie Williams leads the charge and has nominated Victoria, while Freda Puruntatameri – who played some games for Calder Cannons – and mature-ager Janet Baird have all caught the eye.

Out west, mature-agers Sarah Wielstra (25 years-old) and 20-year-olds, Ella Smith, Rosie Walsh and Jess Low all earned combine invites. Meanwhile from the top-age group, twins Brianna and Mikayla Hyde have impressed moving into the midfield this season, while leading forward Maggie MacLachlan is another player in contention to be drafted.

[ … FOR FULL FEATURES ON MORE THAN 80 PLAYERS HEAD TO OUR AFLW FEATURES PAGE … ]

TEAM-BY-TEAM PICKS:

Adelaide: 4, 45, 47
Brisbane: 8, 37, 38
Carlton: 12, 28, 36
Collingwood: 19, 25, 26, 31, 33
Fremantle: 14, 30, 46
Geelong: 10, 20, 21, 27, 39
Gold Coast: 7, 23, 50, 54, 57, 58, 60, 61
GWS: 9, 29, 42
Melbourne: 5, 15, 17, 35, 41, 48
North Melbourne: 13, 22, 44, 49, 55
Richmond: 1, 43, 52
St Kilda: 6, 24, 34, 40, 51
West Coast: 3, 18, 32, 53, 56, 59
Western Bulldogs: 2, 11, 16

2020 SANFL Women’s Grand Final preview: North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

TWELVE months ago – or more accurately 16 months ago given the COVID-19 pandemic postponement – South Adelaide and North Adelaide faced off in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider. Fast forward to 2020 and the same two sides oppose each other to determine this year’s premier in South Australia’s top women’s competition. The two best sides have made it through to the decider, and in Draft Central‘s preview, we take a look at the teams and where the game could be one, and some of the key questions coming out of it.

2020 FORM

North Adelaide come in as the clear favourites in this game simply because they are undefeated in 2020. South Adelaide are the next best side in it though, having only lost to the Roosters this year, first back in Round 4 prior to the SANFL Women’s postponement, and then a fortnight ago in the semi-final. Having backed up from that loss with an imposing win over an confident West Adelaide side, the Panthers will back themselves in to finally topple the Roosters.

The key questions

Can North Adelaide go undefeated in season 2020?

It might not be spoken about as the main aim – and nor it should be – in 2020, because at the end of the day, it does not matter how they are won, as long as they can get the job done. Eleven games in and the Roosters are yet to taste defeat, though they are likely to remember their last loss – the 2019 decider against the Panthers – and be keen to go one better this year.

Could South Adelaide achieve a three-peat?

Anything with the list the Panthers have is achievable. But they will need to rekindle their best form to get up in the match. They have the experience to follow through and get it done, but their opposition is formidable. The Panthers defence showed in the semi-final that it can contain the best of forward lines, and that effort will need to be repeated again here.

Who goes to Anne Hatchard?

There will not necessarily be a hard tag on Hatchard who has the running ability to just power away from her opponents, but Nicole Campbell did well in stints on Stevie-Lee Thompson and might be the player for the job again. Last time they met, Hatchard ran rampant and was clearly best afield, and while you cannot stop her getting her 30-odd touches a game, limiting them to non dangerous areas – ie. out of the stoppages particularly in the forward half – is a must.

Where does South Adelaide have the advantage?

The unpredictability and speed inside 50 is what sets the Panthers aside from many other teams. Jess Kirk is a leading forward and reliable in front of the big sticks, but a lot of the Panthers goals come from finding space inside 50 and lowering the eyes to hit targets from midfielders dropping back, or just by working the ball forward and creating something out of nothing. They can build from defence and run down the ground with speed.

Where does North Adelaide have the advantage?

The midfield is quite simply elite. South Adelaide’s is unbelievable, but the Roosters have the lot with Hatchard, Ash Woodland and Hannah Ewings, as well as Leah Tynan, Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet all capable of rotating through there. The South defence is well structured and back themselves one-on-one, but the Roosters have so many scoring options inside 50 and the midfielders usually pick the right option.

Line-by-line

North Adelaide defence vs. South Adelaide attack

The Roosters defence is tall compared to their opponents, with Kristi Harvey, Amber Ward and Talia Radan all capable of taking contested marks. It means the Panthers cannot afford to kick long and high inside 50. What they need is opening up space to allow one-on-ones because Kirk will struggle to be beaten on the lead, but in a one-on-one contest Harvey for example would take the chocolates. The half-forwards push up to the wings, with Indy Tahau and Gypsy Schirmer able to rotate with the likes of Teah Charlton and Cheyenne Hammond, which creates havoc with matchups. A chaos ball inside 50 while not perfect could help the Panthers at ground level, though Julia Clark and Lauren Gauci have been capable rebounders.

North Adelaide attack vs. South Adelaide defence

Up the other end, the matchups are a dream, with both sides having a number of in-between heights that could play the role of talls or smalls. Britt Perry is the one the Roosters love getting the ball too because of her reliability in front of the big sticks, while Cristie Castle continues to run all day. The pure speed of the attack such as Pope and Ewings might be a key reason why Hannah Munyard has been named in defence this week. She can match those quick players and also take the game on out of the back half, even though she is also capable of hitting the scoreboard up the other end. Woodland will spend time up forward, and like rotate with Ewings, while the South defence of Jaslynne Smith, Lisa Whiteley and Lauren Buchanan in particular is incredibly consistent.

The midfield battle

Starting in the ruck, the Panthers have a couple of young guns in Montana McKinnon and Brooklyn Kraft rotating through there. McKinnon has been getting better each week since returning from injury and capable of taking contested marks around the ground providing strong second efforts. She will be opposed to Bek Rasheed in the middle, with Kendall Howell named as backup on an extended bench. Rasheed has been terrific in her debut season for the Roosters and will need to work McKinnon hard around the ground and be offensively dangerous. The midfield has already been touches on for the Roosters, but for South, Hammond has been a really strong user of the ball, while Tahlia Meyer might be one of the best decision makers in the competition with her low darts inside 50 last week setting up so many scoring opportunities. With Elyse Haylock and Czenya Cavouras also running through there and the speed of Nikki Gore and Munyard, the South side will have no issues batting deep through the middle.

Teams

Prediction

Much like two weeks ago, it would take a brave prediction to go against the Roosters but this build up is going to special. The best team of the year against the best team of the past couple of years. Expect the game to go down to the wire and there be less than a kick between the sides by the final siren. With the Panthers likely to do all they can to restrict Hatchard, expect an Ewings or Woodland to be among the Most Valuable Player (MVP) contenders, while Tahau showed last year they are not afraid to give it to youth, and she and Charlton, along with Munyard and Gore would also be among the contenders if the Panthers get up.

Picture: SANFL/Deb Curtis

SANFL Women’s League Best & Fairest preview

TONIGHT is the night that the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Best and Fairest award is run and won ahead of Sunday afternoon’s decider. From 7.45pm, the league will announce its top player of the season, as well as the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. North Adelaide’s Ashleigh Woodland already claimed the leading goalkicker award this season, and is among a host of favourites for the overall gong.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

Top Contender: Shelby Smith

The midfielder played consistent four quarter football throughout the season to be named among her team’s best seven of a possible 10 times this year. The only issue for her will be that Central only won a couple of games, so if she picks up votes it will be the minor votes. Still a ripping season.

Other contenders: Demi Sonneman, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Sarah Allan

Last year’s club best and fairest winner in Sonneman has held up at full-back throughout the year and has dash and dare which catches the umpire’s eye. Rosenzweig was unstoppable when on fire and took out the club’s leading goalkicker award again with 14 majors in 10 games, while Allan only played the six games, but will no doubt pick up some votes as she was among the best on ground even in some losses.

GLENELG:

Top Contender: Caitlin Gould

The Bays are a tough one to determine because they had players that stepped up in different games, but probably not enough, nor enough wins to really cement a standout player for the award. Gould is one who catches the eye with her ruck work, forward craft and goalkicking, and she played seven games which is more than the other AFL Women’s talent on the list.

Other possible contenders: Madisyn Freeman, Sam Franson, Ellie Kellock

It was a very even team performance this year from Glenelg, and hard to determine who will take the votes. It is imagined that they will split the votes very evenly this season, with teenager Freeman always a popular one with the coaches – eight of 10 bests – as well as the tenacious Franson working hard, and Kellock rotating between midfield and defence.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Ash Woodland

Coming off a brilliant season where Woodland claimed the SANFL Women’s goalkicking award, the mid/forward also shone being named among the best in nearly all of her matches. She looms as the top chance from the minor premiership-winning side, but in terms of votes, expect it to be spread.

Other possible contenders: Hannah Ewings, Anne Hatchard, Katelyn Pope

Legitimately there could be a list into double-digits such is the depth of the club. Hatchard should rack up multiple best on grounds and despite only playing the five games, could pick up double-digit votes easily. Ewings is eye-catching with her speed and ability to hit the scoreboard, with the 16-year-old having a remarkable debut season. Pope is another who catches the eye with her run down the wings, but she played a couple less games than the others which may hurt the voting chances.

NORWOOD:

Top Contender: Matilda Zander

Much like North Adelaide, the players will share votes and it could well be one of a number of players who gets lucky enough to poll plenty. In this case we have opted for Zander because of her ability to hit the scoreboard, provide forward pressure and also run around the ground. But there could be half a dozen names that deserve to be there.

Other possible contenders: Sophie Armitstead, Najwa Allen, Jess Macolino

Last year’s winner in Allen always has to be considered given it is proven she catches the umpire’s eye. With only six games this season though, will it be enough? She had others who will fight for votes off her such as the reliable Armitstead who could really be a surprise packet for the Redlegs in the vote count, while Macolino burst onto the scene late and was named in the best in each of her six games.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Teah Charlton

It feels like even when Charlton is not amongst the best players on the ground, she does something that catches the eye in the match that umpires will remember later. While it is hard to pick how South’s votes will go down with so many players lining up, Charlton will no doubt be amongst it given how much ball she wins and can kick goals.

Other possible contenders: Tahlia Meyer, Indy Tahau, Nicole Campbell

As already mentioned, it is likely players will take votes off each other with the greatest depth going through the list. Meyer might be the most consistent of the lost each week, whiler Campbell managed the eight games which should be enough for votes ahead of some other AFL Women’s talents. Tahau always does something that features in the highlights so will naturally attract votes.

STURT:

Top Contender: Zoe Prowse

The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft prospect might be a sneaky chance here, but it will depend on how favourable the umpires are to giving votes in a losing team effort. Prowse was by far the most dominant ruck in the competition for a stretch with her athleticism and consistency despite being overwhelmed on the scoreboard, which is where it might not quite be enough as the votes will likely be minor ones.

Other possible contenders: Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter, Kate Harris

The co-captains were consistent all year and Bevan will arguably attract the most, potentially even more than Prowse given league best and fairests are midfielder’s awards. Rigter has worked hard throughout the season, while Harris has stepped up playing every game and was named amongst the best six times.

WEST ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Rachelle Martin

For the overall winner, our prediction is pocket rocket Martin. The uncompromising midfielder was named among the best just about every single week and deservedly so. She made our Team of the Week seven times, and the Westies won more than enough games to suggest she will pick up some threes for best on ground.

Other possible contenders: Zoe Venning, Maddie Newman, Stevie-Lee Thompson

When it comes to umpire votes, it is often those who catch the eye the most, and the Bloods have no shortage of players that fit the bill. Venning had a huge season through the midfield and playing forward, Newman has a super boot that you cannot miss, and Thompson was a match winner on more than one occasion. They might split the votes as a team.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

Top Contender: Kiana Lee

The Eagles were the most even team in terms of best players this season in our opinion, and Lee just gets the nod for her work at both ends. Kicking 11 goals in 10 games, which included playing out of full-back late in the year, her contested marking and long kicking will no doubt be something the umpires look at for votes.

Other possible contenders: Jovanka Zecevic, Tesharna Maher, Amie Blanden

It is hard to pinpoint those who will take the votes given the evenness of the team, but Zecevic was one of the most consistent Eagles throughout the year, Maher provided line-breaking speed out of defence, and Blanden was always solid through the middle going forward.

PREDICTION:

It is far from obvious which way the votes will go this year, but our tip is West Adelaide’s Rachelle Martin who had the most consistent season of any player, and was able to play every game. Others who will challenge her include Teah Charlton, Ash Woodland, Anne Hatchard and possibly Zoe Prowse.

SANFL Women’s Semi-Finals review: Roosters through to grand final as Bloods win through to face Panthers

NORTH Adelaide has backed up its unbeaten South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition with an impressive eight-point victory over South Adelaide to book its place in the 2020 Grand Final. Hoping to go one better than last year, the Roosters will await the winner of the Panthers and West Adelaide, following the Bloods’ statement win over Norwood in the do-or-die semi-final.

NORTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 3.7 (25)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

North: A. Woodland, K. Reynolds, B. Perry.
South: C. Hammond, H. Munyard.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Hatchard, K. Pope, H. Ewings, B. Arthur, C. Castle
South: T. Charlton, H. Munyard, N. Campbell, C. Hammond, J. Smith

If there was ever a prime example of a low-scoring contest being an edge-of-your-seat thriller, then North Adelaide and South Adelaide’s semi-final clash would be it. The Roosters and Panthers kicked just five goals between them, three of which came in the first half, but it was far from a scrap, with the two best teams in the SANFL Women’s going head-to-head in a high-octane battle, eventually won by the undefeated Roosters, 3.7 (25) to 2.5 (17).

Neither side was willing to give an inch early in the game, with Montana McKinnon having an early couple of touches for the Panthers through the ruck, whilst ball magnet Anne Hatchard was dominating through the middle for the Roosters. While Hatchard’s running power – such as her ability to find space and seemingly have no one able to work with her, it was also the slick ball use of Hannah Ewings straight down the throat of Ashleigh Woodland five and a half minutes into the contest. With their first inside 50, the Roosters had a goal on the board, and it would prove golden in the low-scoring contest.

An early injury from the piece of play to Samantha Pratt saw the young defender helped from the ground, but her teammates in Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan were pushing hard to keep the ball out of the danger zone. South had controlled play, but were just not getting on the end of scoring chances until late in the term when the play of the day from Cheyenne Hammond created said opportunity. A huge run-down tackle earned Hammond a free to kick forward and then Hammond pushed up as her kick hit Nicole Campbell who found Jess Kirk. While Kirk’s shot fell in the goalsquare, Hammond dove on it and was awarded a free kick, popping it home to level the scores at quarter time.

Teah Charlton had a busy opening term and would continue that in the second quarter, leading all-comers for her side with seven touches, and then 13 by the main break, but it would be no surprise to see Hatchard in front with 17. The second term saw North kick a crucial goal after pressing for the majority of the contest, as Kathryn Reynolds got on the end of a chain of handballs thanks to Britt Perry‘s work to draw an extra opponent and put through a running goal. Both teams had chances, as Kirk had a shot a couple of minutes likes but hit the post, before Perry missed a chance from 45m out to the right.

The work of both half-back lines was telling in the low-scoring scrap that was quite entertaining thus far and the game on the line. South showed why they were well and truly in the hunt with a great piece of play from young gun Indy Tahau off half-back. The AFL Women’s Academy member got the ball forward and it ended in the hands of Hannah Munyard who used the body well in a marking contest and kicked truly from the goalsquare.

Katelyn Pope was using her speed to advantage for the Roosters, having a big start to the second half, but it was South that was piling on the pressure and realistically should have added an extra goal or two with the Panthers’ forward half domination. Gypsy Schirmer had a couple of chances close to goal, including a tough snap from the boundary with the outside of the boot but it just bounced the wrong side of the post. Both Hammond and Campbell were big influences on the game through the middle, but it was Hatchard and Ewings who really shone, as the latter again had a great kick inside 50 and with four and a half minutes left in the third term, Perry kicked a terrific goal from a spin out of trouble to snap and bounce home after a favourable kick in from Mollie McKendrick.

The stage was set for a terrific last term, and once again this game proved that you do not need goals to be flowing for it to be tense. In fact, neither team kicked a goal, but there was still end-to-end football at times, and plenty of individual plays of brilliance. Tahau and Munyard were continually involved in attacking transitions, while Hatchard and Ewings were always busy. Smith won a good free in defence on Reynolds which had a been a good battle on the day, while a huge tackle on Czenya Cavouras from Ash Woodland and Charlotte Taylor saw the latter come off second best and helped from the field.

South almost had a huge major late in the term when Nikki Gore ran down the usually-elusive Ewings, which saw South play on and get it forward with a quick kick from Charlton heading towards goal but was about to sail home but touched on the line. Most of the last couple of minutes South continued to drive it forward, with Schirmer almost taking a grab on the goal line but the Roosters defence rushed it through. It was a game of almosts for South, as North Adelaide held on, and Perry had the last kick of the game from 40m out, missing, but making it an eight-point victory and her side booked its spot in the 2020 SANFL Women’s Grand Final.

NORWOOD 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)
WEST ADELAIDE 2.0 | 3.2 | 7.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS:

Norwood: M. Zander, A. Lishmund.
West: S. Thompson 3, C. Biddell 2, N. Hooper 2, R. Martin, A. Ballard.

ADC BEST:

Norwood: N. Allen, R. Busch, L. Cutting, C. Tsoumbris, K. Fenton
West: R. Martin, M. Newman, S. Thompson, Z. Venning, C. Biddell, E. Smith

West Adelaide won its first ever final and in the process delivered Norwood its fourth consecutive finals loss in the SANFL Women’s competition, saluting by 43 points in the do-or-die semi-finals clash. The Bloods tackling pressure was enormous and they had the numbers on the inside and outside to back up their defensive work, restricting Norwood to just one goal in three quarters as they piled on seven of the first eight majors and finished off with a 9.4 (58) to 2.3 (15) victory.

The first term started with ruck Leah Cutting and 2019 league best and fairest Najwa Allen winning a number of crucial touches to lock the ball inside 50. Madison Newman and Rachelle Martin were working hard in the defensive half of the ground as Abbie Ballard was burrowing in to lay a game-high six tackles in the first term. Despite Norwood having the early ascendancy, once West Adelaide got it forward, the Bloods locked it inside their own forward 50, and after a couple of opportunities, earned a free kick straight in front of goal to Chelsea Biddell. The key position utility made no mistake 20m out and handed her side the early lead.

Norwood tried to answer off the next stoppage by getting it down to Matilda Zander at half-forward but a smart intercepting by Bloods’ captain Lauren Rodato sent the ball back up the field. Not long after, Zander had a great chance running into the open goal but shanked the kick – something both sides would have a tendency of doing throughout the game. In fact, three minutes later, Nicole Hooper sprayed it out on the full herself following a quick snap. But a second chance less than a minute later came via another free kick in front of goal and once against West made no mistake to go 11 points up at the first break.

The Redlegs came out fiercely to try and attack from the get-go in the second term, but a quick shot hits the behind post and yet again Newman was there to mop up. The tenacity of the Bloods was obvious as their pressure went to another level and created a scoring opportunity through Kasia Culhane and then Stevie-Lee Thompson bu the shot just missed. Emma Smith was having a big influence at half-forward, driving the ball in, and Zoe Venning was winning plenty of the ball, but had very little space at times. In the end, the pressure of the Bloods resulted in a third goal, and a second to Biddell who marked strong overhead and converted off a slight angle.

West had a few more chances in the term, but the work of Cassie Tsoumbris coming off half-back, and Cutting through the middle, as well as Allan working hard around the ground, avoided the Redlegs being further down at the half. Rhiannon Busch was also winning plenty of the football with 11 kicks to the main break, only behind Allen for her side, while Neman and Martin led all-comers for disposals at half-time.

The third term is often referred to as the premiership quarter, and while it might not have been a premiership, it is where the game was won. West Adelaide progressed through to a preliminary final with four goals to one off the back of some terrific play. Venning and Thompson were quite often involved, but for the first one it was Biddell who found Rachael Killian inside 50. The kick drifted to the right, but Biddell marked it on the line and rather than go for the snap from the tight angle spotted Martin straight in front of goal 20m out, found her and her teammate rewarded her with a perfect set shot goal. When Ballard crumbed the ball off the pack a couple of minutes later, the lead was out to 31 points and the Bloods fans were sniffing their first ever finals win.

Refusing to give up, the ball raced down the other end off the next stoppage and went from Allen to Zander tight in the pocket. This time the number one made no mistake from the set shot with a perfectly weighted kick that sailed through from 20m and there was a slight pulse. It was soon be put to bed though as the next stoppage also resulted in a goal – to West Adelaide. Straight out of the middle it hit Hooper leading out, and following her clunking mark, nailed the set shot and the lead surpassed five goals. The game was all but sealed and delivered with Keeley Kusterman drifting forward and hitting up Thompson who dropped the mark, but recovered well to quickly snap with the outside of the boot not far from the siren with West leading by 37 points.

Needing a miracle and early goals, Norwood had a hail Mary in the form of Alana Lishmund who won a free kick 90 seconds into the game and kicked truly to put the margin back to 31. Another behind a few minutes later made it a square 30 points, but that was as close as it got with the West Adelaide defence and whole ground pressure overwhelming. Smith was superb, as was Newman, while Ballard and Martin’s tackling pressure all over the field was immense.

It led the way for a couple of Thompson goals late in the piece as Norwood looked to switch inside the defensive 50 and the dangerous pass inside was picked off by Thompson. Moments later, a Zoe Greer tackle in defensive 50 led to an end-to-end play with Thompson out-bodying her opponent and kicking from metres out. Even Newman got in on the party, swung forward late, but her set shot was just touched on the line. It mattered little though as the Bloods got up 9.4 (58) to 2.3 (15) on the back of a superb tackling effort.