Tag: Brianna Davey

Roos hold on in thriller against determined Magpies

A JASMINE Garner intercept mark in the last 15 seconds of the game at half-back has helped North Melbourne survive an epic fight from Collingwood to keep the Roos’ premiership hopes alive with a 5.4 (34) to 5.2 (32) semi-final win at Ikon Park.

Both teams were hot early on, providing plenty of pressure on the opposition ball carrier with the Roos’ slick kicking helping them kick an early goal through Daisy Bateman. It came from an uncharacteristic error from Stacey Livingstone who kicked straight to Garner who hit up Bateman just 20m out from goal. Moments later Livingstone again kicked it out on the full under pressure and the Roos had a chance for another, with loose checking from the defence seeing Ash Riddell take the free kick and deliver to Emma Kearney who found Sophie Abbatangelo in the pocket. The Pies were able to defend the ball over the line but North controlled the tempo.

Despite’s North Melbourne’s elite kicking above 80 per cent early in the game, the likes of Brit Bonnici and Brianna Davey refused to give in and worked their side back into the contest. Indeed it was a Bonnici tackle that helped set up the Pies for their opening quarter goal. She ran down Jess Trend whose head unfortunately hit the turf. Bonnici found Maddie Shevlin who had a crack but fell short, though a terrific tackle from Jordan Membrey allowed the former Brisbane player to kick a set shot goal from 15m out and bring the margin back to just a point at the first break. Collingwood was winning the contested ball against the Roos’ strong inside brigade, while North Melbourne was equally as surprising winning the outside ball against Collingwood’s runners.

It only took a couple of minutes for North to get an important major in the second term with Kearney creating some run through half-forward to kick to a vacant goalsquare. Kaitlyn Ashmore was the first on the scene and booted a goal from metres out and the lead was back out to seven points. Ashmore was involved again not long after, dropping inside 50 to take an uncontested mark and then putting it lace out to Brittany Gibson against the lighter built Butler, though her subsequent set shot missed. Ashmore was not done though, laying a huge tackle on Sarah Rowe to have a set shot that was deadeye, but unfortunately for the Roo forward, the only player tall enough to reach the set shot – Sharni Layton – was on the line and punched it over.

The game was back on even terms in match play with both team’s defences having an impact. Rebounding off half-back, Ashmore was again involved in the forward half kicking inside 50 but Livingston was back there and reliably rebounded to safety. That effort led the Pies to run it down the field and Mikala Cann got on the end of it with a clever snap around her body to put one through and the margin was just three points. Then came one of the plays of the season courtesy of 2018 Rising Star, Chloe Molloy. The talented utility won the ball at ground level at half-forward against three Roos, sidestepped one and managed to find her way through traffic to deliver it to the open goalsquare to bounce through and the Pies were in front for the first time.

It was a black and white wave at Ikon Park as Collingwood’s prime movers kept the pressure high, and soon it was Jaimee Lambert who at ground level just 15m out from goal kept the ball alive and it ended in the hands of the smart Sarah D’Arcy who put it on her left and slotted it through to hand her team a nine-point lead with two and a half minutes left. Everything was going right for the Magpies as Davey laid a bone-crunching tackle on Garner and Rowe ran down Trend with the defensive measures as impressive as the offensive ones. With 63 seconds left, Nicole Bresnehan did not get low enough for Lambert close to goal and the Magpies star had a chance to pile on another, but her set shot from a tight angle went to the right. A moment of madness saw the Pies almost kick a fifth goal with Molloy reading a play and intercepting it off the bounce but her next kick was well smothered in the dying seconds to ensure the top side only head into half-time with a 10-point deficit.

Layton’s return to the side was proving fruitful with back-to-back tackles on Kearney and Kate Gillespie-Jones to win a free and pump the first ball inside 50 of the second half. The former Diamonds netballer was dominant in the ruck which was a key reason for the Magpies’ dominance since quarter time with Gillespie-Jones replacing the taller Emma King in there for North Melbourne. Garner had the first chance on goal of the second half but opted to pass inboard and the short kick was dropped by Riddell and the Magpies got it to the boundary.

Midway through the term neither side had been able to impact the scoreboard with the arm-wrestle continuing through the middle, though North had more time in the forward half. Abbatangelo almost created some magic by keeping her feet from a forward 50 in a pack of four but missed to the right. From the kick out though, Sarah Wright won a 50m penalty for Eliza Hynes stepping over the mark and the former Carlton VFLW player got on the board from 15m out.

With the Roos now with the momentum, the work of the younger Magpies was crucial. Alana Porter won a great one-on-one at half-back and Cann laid a huge tackle to win the ball back on the wing. Sensing the tide turning, Molloy dropped into defence so each team had an extra number in the back half. With 30 seconds left, Rowe took a sliding mark 30m out from the defensive goal but then went for a short kick and turned it straight over to Gavalas who put it over the goal umpire’s head and as if the whole game had changed, the Roos were now up by three points.

The news went from bad to worse for the Magpies at the final break with best on ground, Bonnici coming off for a concussion test at a time when the underdogs needed an extra push on the inside. Another Collingwood turnover, this time from Layton who kicked to a one-on-two, led to the Roos running it down with an extra number and Abbatangelo marked right on the boundary line to snap and goal with a well-placed banana kick. A minute later the combination between Layton and Membrey was much better with Membrey taking a great contested mark off the boot of Layton and her unbelievable accuracy continued with another deadeye set shot goal.

The Membrey goal broke a three-straight run of majors by North Melbourne and the deficit was back to three points. North was holding up the defence to stop easy outs from the back half for the Magpies, but a strong couple of plays from D’Arcy, Molloy and Davey ensured the line was forced back. There was almost a fitting moment when Davey found a loose Bonnici who had returned to the field without the Kangaroos realising the hardnut had returned to the field. The shot fell short and a Lambert snap missed. Less than two and a half minutes remaining, the margin was just two points in favour of the Conference A winners.

With Pies fans hearts racing, captain Steph Chiocci found Molloy inside 50 who marked but her set shot fell agonisingly short. The ball was still in the Magpies’ forward half with a minute remaining on the clock. Most players were inside Collingwood’s forward 50, but North got it clear and were able to get it back into their half with seconds dying down. One last role of the dice saw the Magpies kick to a Layton-King one-on-one but it was Garner who came over the top to take a match-saving mark and win the game for her side by just two points.

Riddell picked an equal game-high 22 disposals for the Roos, as well as five marks and six tackles, while Garner (15 disposals, five marks and five tackles), Kearney (17 disposals, four tackles) and Gavalas (13 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal) were all impressive. For the Magpies, Bonnici was the best-on with 20 touches – all kicks – three marks and three tackles, while Lambert and Davey both combined for 44 disposals, 11 marks and 10 tackles in the loss. Membrey was he only multiple goalkicker on the day as the teams both spread the scoreboard impact around.

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 (32)
 

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo, S. Wright, K. Ashmore, E. Gavalas, D. Bateman.
Collingwood: J. Membrey 2, M. Cann, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy.

ADC BEST:

North Melbourne: A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore
Collingwood: B. Bonnici, B. Davey, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Membrey

Magpies and Roos to make AFL Women’s finals debut in do-or-die semi-final

THE extraordinary 2020 AFL Women’s season has had another major twist, with the AFL awarding Collingwood their maiden finals berth. Despite holding a 4-2 record and boasting a strong percentage of 153.7, the Magpies finished in Conference B’s fourth position. Under the AFLW system in normal circumstances, this would mean they miss the finals. However, due to the shortened home and away season, the powers that be have extended the finals series so that the top four teams in each conference can compete for the premiership. This all leads us to Ikon Park on Saturday, when North Melbourne will take on Collingwood in a fascinating semi-final.

North Melbourne v.  Collingwood
Saturday, 21 March, 12.40pm AEDT
IKON Park

Although Collingwood players and fans are ecstatic with the AFL’s decision, they also know they have a tough matchup on their hands. North Melbourne have the second-best record in AFL Women’s, have not lost since round one and have dominated each of their opponents since then. Both sides are coming off strong away victories last week, with the Roos taking care of Geelong and the Magpies winning comfortably in Brisbane. North and Collingwood are yet to clash so far in 2020.

The Roos have arguably the best two players in AFLW right now: Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney. These two had remarkably similar averages of 21 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal per game through the home and away season. Collingwood will have to shut down one, if not both of these stars if they are any chance of progressing further in this finals series. Kaitlyn Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo are major threats for the Roos up forward with their ruthless pressure and ability to impact the scoreboard. Ash Riddell and Jenna Bruton continue to find plenty of the ball, while ruckman Emma King has shown the ability to give her star midfielders first use.

Collingwood star Jaimee Lambert has been impeccable through the 2020 season, averaging 22 disposals (12 contested), seven tackles, four inside 50s and a goal per game. This will be Lambert’s first AFLW final, so she would love to prove she is a big-game performer by producing her best on Saturday. Midfielders Brianna Davey and Brittany Bonnici were fantastic against Brisbane last weekend, while Chloe Molloy has been dynamic for the Magpies in attack all season. In the absence of Ash BrazillStacey Livingstone continues to be calm and composed with the ball in hand, which is an important skill to have under finals pressure.

As simple as it sounds, this match will be decided in the midfield. If Bonnici, Davey and Lambert can consistently match it with Garner, Kearney and Riddell at the contest, then Collingwood could cause a major upset. If the Roos’ midfield is dominant akin to the last five weeks, they will be very hard to stop.

Prediction: This contest will be tight early, but North’s star power should prove too much as the game wears on. North Melbourne by 23 points.

 

Follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter

2020 AFL Women’s Round 5 review: Cats go back-to-back as Pies bounce back

IT was a round of blowouts in the AFL Women’s with the closest game a 20-point win in favour of the Cats. North Melbourne and Melbourne once again showed their class with some impressive performances across the weekend while Collingwood got back into the winner’s books after two straight losses. Our match of the round was Fremantle’s win over Brisbane to remain undefeated on top of the table.

GOLD COAST 0.3 | 2.4 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GEELONG 1.2 | 1.4 | 4.6 | 5.8 (38)

Taylah Melki

In the first game of the round the Cats flexed their muscles away from home with a hard-fought win over inaugural side Gold Coast. The led ebbed and flowed with Geelong getting the early ascendancy before the Suns hit back in the second with two goals to none to claim the lead. But that is where it ended with the Cats putting their foot down in the second half and doing plenty of damage on the scoreboard while limiting Gold Coast to a mere two points across the final half. It was an inaccurate display from both sides with a combined total of 14 missed shots but somehow Geelong found a way to win making it two on the trot. The Cats won a heap of the footy and most importantly were effective by both foot and hand going at 66 per cent compared to Suns 53 per cent while their efficiency inside the forward 50 was where most of their damage was done with Phoebe McWilliams reaping the rewards of good ball movement and space opening the account for the Cats.

Geelong were led by their young brigade of midfielders with star Nina Morrison racking up the touches with a team-high 22. Her ball winning ability has gone from strength to strength this season and paired with her tackling pressure, amassing seven for the game Morrison showed why she is so crucial to the Cats. She was not alone though, with Olivia Purcell chiming in and doing just as much damage with 21 touches, 14 of those kicks. Richelle Cranston continued her merry way with the talented footballer using her booming kick to full effect and slotting a timely goal in the third quarter to establish a handy lead for her side along with 18 touches. Other key contributors such as Renee Garing and Amy McDonald also had a major influence across the ground with their ability to win the footy at the coalface and dispose of it cleanly. McWilliams led the charge in terms of goals with two for the evening while Georgia Clarke and Anna Teague both managed to apply scoreboard pressure with a major each.

Despite going down by 20-points the Suns had plenty of positives to come out of their clash with 24-year-old Jamie Stanton absolutely dominating. Stanton was involved in everything in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 23 touches, two marks, five tackles and a goal. While she will be disappointed she did not kick more accurately finishing with 1.2 Stanton was the shining light for the Suns. Jacqui Yorston was the only other goal scorer with the 165cm forward working hard for each of her 16 touches and putting on a tackling clinic to finish with 10 to her name. Kalinda Howarth also had an impact throughout the four quarters with her 18 disposals while Jade Pregelj was the next best when it came to possessions with 16. Captain Leah Kaslar was relatively well held throughout the match kept to 10 disposals but her physical pressure was up and about laying six tackles.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, J. Yorston
Geelong: P. McWilliams 2, R. Cranston, A. Teague, G. Clarke

BESTS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, K. Howarth, J. Yorston, L. Kaslar, J. Pregelj
Geelong: N. Morrison, O. Purcell, R. Cranston, P. McWilliams, A. McDonald

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 | 5.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)
ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

Tom Cheesman

North Melbourne asserted themselves as a premiership contender with a huge 42-point victory over an undermanned Adelaide in Hobart on Saturday. In wet, blustery conditions the Roos dominated the disposals (268-205), clearances (105-87) and marks inside 50 (14-4). It was North’s fourth consecutive win, strengthening their position in the top two of Conference B. For Adelaide, it was their second poor loss in a row after losing the grand final rematch against Carlton last week.

The first quarter was highly congested with both teams applying significant pressure at stoppages and around the ground. This was expected from North who are one of the best tackling sides in the competition, but Adelaide stepped up in the first term to match their intensity.

North took control of the contest in the second quarter, dominating time in possession by simply outworking Adelaide. The Roos looked dangerous every time they went inside 50 and Adelaide struggled to transition the ball into their forward half. North kicked three goals to nil in the term as small forwards Kaitlyn Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo made a major impact.

Things got even better for North after half time, as Adelaide continued to fumble and make skill errors while North were clean and efficient. The Roos’ pressure proved too much and they kicked the first four goals of the half. Stevie-Lee Thompson kicked two majors in the final five minutes to make the scoreline slightly more appealing for Adelaide fans, but North went home with a comprehensive victory.

Jasmine Garner was best on ground by a long way, simply a class above anyone else. She finished with 24 disposals, four tackles, seven marks and two goals. Ashmore was outstanding up forward with four goals, while midfielders Emma Kearney (26 disposals) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, six tackles) were strong all day. Anne Hatchard was the sole shining light for the Crows with 23 disposals and eight tackles.

North will be confident going into their Friday night blockbuster against the Cats next weekend. Meanwhile, Adelaide will be hoping star Erin Phillips returns from injury next Sunday to help reverse their fortunes in a huge game against GWS.

GOALS:
North Melbourne: K. Ashmore 4, S. Abbatangelo, J. Garner 2, E. King
Adelaide: S. Thompson 2, D. Ponter

ADC BEST:
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, S. Abbatangelo
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, S. Thompson, E. Marinoff

GWS GIANTS 2.5 | 3.8 | 4.13 | 7.14 (52)
RICHMOND 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 (11)

Taylah Melki

Another round, another loss for the Tigers with the GIANTS well and truly trouncing their opposition to run out 41 point victors. It was a convincing performance from the home side who announced their dominance from the opening bounce scoring a goal in the first minute of the game thanks to a red-hot Cora Staunton. The GIANTS maintained that high intensity throughout the game and while they suffered from inconsistency in front of the big sticks across the four quarters they did enough to limit Richmond’s opportunities to a mere goal. Unfortunately, the Tigers had no answers for GWS who seemed to combat everything they threw at them using their tackling pressure and quick ball movement to push the ball inside 50. It was a relatively one-sided affair with the GIANTS winning the possession battle 227-158 highlighting just how much of the footy they monopolised especially inside the forward half constantly peppering the goals.

The load was shared across the board for the GIANTS however it was Staunton that led the way in front of goal walking away with a four-goal haul. Staunton was electric inside 50 winning the ball with ease and showcasing her goal nous while also applying pressure laying four tackles. Rebecca Privitelli also continued her recent string of form with another two goals to add to her growing goalkicking tally while the likes of Brittany Tully and Jodie Hicks could have had a big day out but failed to capitalise with two points apiece. Youngster, Alyce Parker lit up the field once again racking up an impressive 24 disposals with an even ratio of handballs to kicks with 13 to 11 along with four tackles. To go with her two points Tully also won her fair share of the footy with 18 touches and Rebecca Beeson made her presence felt across the four quarters with 18 touches and three marks. Elle Bennetts provided plenty of excitement with her 13 disposals while teammate Haneen Zreika led the way with a team-high six tackles.

Up against her old side, fill in captain Christina Bernardi managed to slot her sides only goal for the game and while she only racked up seven touches her second efforts across the ground were impressive. Despite her big frame and clunking five marks Sabrina Frederick struggled in front of goal registering two points while Phoebe Monahan also missed her chance to slot one home. Although she would be disappointed she did not convert Monahan had a standout performance for the Tigers with a team-high 22 disposals. Monique Conti was not far behind collecting 21 touches for her efforts while also throwing her weight around with six tackles and three marks. Both Grace Campbell and Kate Dempsey worked tirelessly to win the footy with 11 and 10 touches respectively but it was not enough to worry their opposition who went about their business.

GOALS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton 4, R. Privitelli 2, S. Halvorsen
Richmond: C. Bernardi

BESTS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton, A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, B. Tully
Richmond: M. Conti, P. Monahan, C. Bernardi, K. Dempsey, S. Frederick

CARLTON 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 8.2 (50)
ST KILDA  2.0 | 3.0 | 3.2  | 4.5 (29)

Sophie Taylor

CARLTON put in another impressive performance in Round 4 to run home 21-point victors against a lively St Kilda outfit. An even first half kept the Saints well and truly in the race, challenging the Blues in the highly pressurised contest, but it was to no avail with a four goal to one second half seeing the home side confidently dominate in every area of the field.

It was a tight first quarter with St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser doing what she does best, booting her first of two goals and finding plenty of the footy as she exposed holes in Carlton’s defence. But for every goal the Saints got in the first half, the Blues went one better with Sarah Hosking getting two on the board in quick succession before Rhiannon Watt followed up with her first less than a minute later to create an exciting and close contest. An inaugural goal to Blues’ Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles, one goal) put the icing on the cake for Carlton to lead by a goal at the first change, and while it continued to be a tough slog in the second St Kilda were unable to find that same offensive pressure to get back ahead of the Blues.

After an action-packed first term the second was relatively quiet, with only the one goal apiece – to Greiser and Tayla Harris respectively – while standouts from both sides were becoming clear as consistent performers in Maddy Prespakis (26 disposals, three tackles), Kerryn Harrington (21 touches, eight marks), Olivia Vesely (18 touches, four tackles, three marks) and Georgia Patrikios (18 touches, two tackles) stood up in the tight battle. The third saw Carlton just about run away with the match, piling on the pressure and the points thanks to consistent contesting around the ground and phenomenal tackling pressure from the likes of Katie Loynes and Lucy McEvoy, both of whom didn’t find much of the ball but certainly did their bit to earn ball back with their nine and eight respective tackles.

The final quarter saw two early goals that dried up the majors, with St Kilda’s Kate Shierlaw (12 disposals, three marks, one goals) and Carlton’s Georgia Gee both getting on the end of good movement down the field to apply scoreboard pressure. The Saints kept the ball in their half for much of the quarter and while they looked dangerous at times, were not able to take advantage of their opportunities, booting two behinds and one rushed, which could have pushed the side much closer to victory if kicked straight.

Next round will see both sides take the field on Saturday evening, with St Kilda hosting fellow expansion side Richmond at Moorabbin while Carlton travels to Alice Springs to take on Melbourne for a top two Conference B battle.

GOALS

Carlton: S. Hosking 2, B. Walker, T. Harris, N. Stevens, G. Egan, L. McEvoy, G. Gee.
St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw, R. Watt.

ADC BEST

Carlton: K. Harrington, M. Prespakis, V Laloifi, S.Hosking, G. Egan
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, O. Vesely, K. Shierlaw, N. Exon, R. Dillon

COLLINGWOOD 3.0 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

Peter Williams

Collingwood has bounced back from consecutive losses to post an impressive 32-point win over the Western Bulldogs. The home team playing at Morwell never looked like losing from the outside with a couple of goals on the board within five minutes and then a third late in the opening term. Two of those goals belonged to Chloe Molloy who was thrown forward in the clash as a throw-back to her VFL Women’s days where she claimed the leading goalkicker award prior to being drafted. She constantly looked a threat one-on-one inside 50 and gave her teammates opportunities with the Bulldogs’ defence wary of what she was capable of inside 50. The Magpies led by 24 points at half-time and had kept the visitors scoreless in a great defensive display. The second half was more even with the Magpies marginally shading them with 4.3 to 3.1 in the half, but it was a valiant effort from the young pups to keep pushing throughout. Kirsten McLeod booted two of those goals to get her side going and one was as she was thrown to the ground forcing her to do a neat roll and bounce straight back up. Whilst it was too little, too late, there was plenty to come out of the game for both sides as the Magpies got their finals campaign back on track.

Brianna Davey recorded 30 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and 10 tackles in a big performance through the middle, well shared by one of the competition’s best players this year in Jaimee Lambert (24 touches, eight inside 50s and seven tackles). Sarah Rowe chipped in with two goals and had arguably her best career game with 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and four tackles, working hard across the ground, while Molloy booted 3.2 from 12 disposals, six marks and two inside 50s. Others who impressed for the Black and White were Sarah D’Arcy (11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and captain Steph Chiocci (17 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three inside 50s).

For the Western Bulldogs, Ellie Blackburn put in another typical captain’s effort with 17 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds, while Bailey Hunt (15 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and three rebounds) and Kirsty Lamb (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) were busy across the board. Isabel Huntington was a rock in defence with 12 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, two inside 50s and a long-range set shot which just missed. Meanwhile number one pick from last year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Gabby Newton had nine touches and laid six tackles in another solid performance.

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 3, S. Alexander 2, S. Rowe 2, J. Membrey.
Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, K. Lamb.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Molloy, J. Lambert, B. Davey, S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, S. Chiocci.
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, B. Hunt, I. Huntington, K. McLeod, G. Newton.

MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.6 (66)
WEST COAST 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Peter Williams

In a strange day at Casey Fields, the weather was actually pleasant without icy winds or sweltering heat impacting the spectator experience. From the first bounce it was always going to be a question of how much for Melbourne, with the Dees seemingly going at first gear in the opening half to find their feet, whilst the Eagles – as determined and willing as they were – could not find the connection inside 50. Aside from a second term purple patch where the team from the west gave the almost exclusive home fan-crowd a scare, the Demons were rarely troubled, especially after half-time. When Ashlee Atkins kicked a behind midway through the second term, the Dees’ lead was cut to just five points and despite all their dominance with possession and field position there was a little moment where fans would have thought ‘surely not?’. The fears were soon alleviated a little when Sarah Lampard kicked a late goal to stretch the lead to 11 points by half-time, and completed eliminated by the midway point of the third term, when the lead stretched beyond five goals and the game was done and dusted. No doubt the home team would have received a bake at half-time to try and lift the intensity, especially given the importance of percentage, whilst the away team showed some promising signs, but were overran in the second half, going down by 59 points in the end.

Karen Paxman was one of the few four quarter performers, standing up when a lot of her teammates were a little down, picking up 21 disposals, two marks, six tackles, six inside 50s and three rebounds in a clear best on ground performance. Others who impressed throughout the four quarters were the two Irish players in Niamh McEvoy (14 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s) and Sinead Goldrick (13 disposals, two inside 50s) whose run was important. The experienced Daisy Pearce was prominent early with 10 touches and four tackles standing tall in crunch moments, whilst Aliesha Newman (13 disposals, five tackles and six inside 50s) was a star along the wing. Eden Zanker also put in a ripper performance with nine disposals, two marks, six tackles, 19 hitouts and two goals, predominantly playing ruck then floating forward to provide a target with her high leaping and sticky hands. It was also a memorable day for Sarah Perkins who did not look out of place, booting the final goal of the day and always presenting with nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and even sold a bit of candy much to the delight of her new fans.

For the Eagles, the midfield duo of Dana Hooker (14 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and three inside 50s) and Mikayla Bowen (11 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two rebounds) worked hard, whilst Parris Laurie shouldered the ruckload against multiple opponents on her way to 17 hitouts, 10 disposals and five tackles. Emma Swanson (13 disposals, two marks and two tackles) was also solid through midfield, whilst Belinda Smith (12 disposals, four rebounds) and Sophie McDonald (10 disposals, six rebounds) were rocks under pressure in the back 50.

GOALS:

Melbourne: E. Zanker 2, T. Cunningham, C. Emonson, K. Hore, S. Lampard, N. McEvoy, J. Parry, S. Perkins, S. Scott.
West Coast: M. Collier.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Paxman, A. Newman, E. Zanker, S. Goldrick, N. McEvoy, D. Pearce
West Coast: D. Hooker, M. Bowen, B. Smith, S. McDonald, P. Laurie, A. Atkins

 

 

AFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Four new teams begin elite journey

AFTER nine months of waiting, AFL Women’s 4.0 is here and four more teams enter the fray in a bid to take home the 2020 premiership. Adelaide won its second title in three years last season, with the Western Bulldogs the only other premiership winner in the competition. With the Crows wounded and plenty of movement over the off-season for the four news side – Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast – this round is set to answer quite a few questions.

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The opening night of AFL Women’s 4.0 is under lights at Ikon Park with a familiar feel, but a bit of a twist. Yet again, Carlton opens the season, but instead of Collingwood (as it was in the first two seasons), it will now be Richmond – mirroring the AFL Men’s competition season opener. A lot can change in 12 months, and this time last year Carlton was coming off a wooden spoon with a new coach in charge looking for some respect in the competition. Now looking ahead to 2020, the Blues are fresh off a Grand Final appearance and hungry to go one better.

The big question mark for the Blues in this match will be how they go without their inaugural captain in Brianna Davey who switched to Collingwood for a war chest of draft picks. They should not have to look too far for a replacement with Geelong Falcons premiership skipper, Lucy McEvoy immediately entering the fray for her debut alongside Richmond VFLW and former Murray Bushrangers’ utility, Grace Egan. Both provide a hard edge to the side and crack into a team that is hard to find a spot. Their defence is still relatively inexperienced compared to others, so Kerryn Harrington will be crucial in settling them down back there. Interestingly, exciting forward Darcy Vescio has been named in the centre, which makes for a dynamic contest against fellow traditional forward, Katie Brennan.

The Tigers have a tonne of debutants which does not come as a surprise considering it is Richmond’s inaugural match. First year draftees, Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels), Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights) and Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges) headline the young talent, but the depth of the midfield from the likes of Kodi Jacques (Bendigo Pioneers) and Maddy Brancatisano (Northern Knights via Melbourne AFLW) will be great to see. Monique Conti and Christina Bernardi are the class players, and Carlton will need to find a way to limit their influence. In saying that, with Madison Prespakis and Sarah Hosking in midfield, expect the Blues to get on top through the middle with that extra hard edge. Carlton should win this game based on experience and more readymade players, but Richmond should show some fight and give their fans something to smile about for 2020.

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

B: R.Miller 15 G.Seymour 28
HB: S.Sansonetti 18 P.Monahan 2 A.Makur Chuot 34
C: S.Molan 1 K.Brennan – C 3 H.Burchell 9
HF: S.Frederick 14 C.Bernardi 6 T.Stahl 24
F: C.Wakefield 8 L.McClelland 16
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 A.Woodward 13
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 K.Jacques 10 M.Brancatisano 5 H.Whitford 20
Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 E.Wood 17

CARLTON

B: N.Plane 32 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 J.Van Dyk 36
C: S.Hosking 10 D.Vescio 3 C.Dalton 15
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 J.Doonan 26
F: A.Downie 30 B.Walker 14
Foll: B.Moody 16 K.Loynes 2 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: L.Brazzale 12 G.Pound 6 G.Egan 1 L.McEvoy 13 G.Gee 19
Emerg: J.Edwards 25 A.McKay 5

Saturday, February 8

Greater Western Sydney v Gold Coast, Blacktown International Sportspark, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

While these two sides are the newest teams in AFL Men’s, GWS GIANTS are the far more experienced team in AFL Women’s. One of eight inaugural sides in the competition, they welcome the Gold Coast SUNS to the league at Blacktown in a Saturday afternoon blockbuster. While most Victorian fans might be more focused on games either side of his match, the game is expected to answer a lot of questions, particularly about Gold Coast and where they might be at in their preparation for their inaugural season.

The SUNS on paper have talent, it is just trying to piece it all together and gel, which might take some time for it to work. Jamie Stanton remarkably plays in her third inaugural game for a side, having previously represented Brisbane (2017) and North Melbourne (2019). She will need to use all of her experience to lead a young team into battle, with essentially Tiarna Ernst in midfield, Leah Kaslar down forward and Sam Virgo in defence as the others who can provide that extra experience. Former Crows, Sally Riley and Jasmyn Hewett will no doubt give insight into their last club’s success, but the ones to watch are more so the young talent. Alexia Hamilton is a high-flying tall who can take a grab, Lauren Bella is a developing tap ruck, and both Serene Watson and Dee Heslop are talented young defenders who will only get better with more exposure. You cannot discount Hannah Dunn either, with the former Norwood ball winner thrown straight into the midfield.

Bella will have her work cut out for her against arguably the best pure ruck in the competition – Erin McKinnon. She leads a loaded midfield of Rebecca Beeson, new captain Alicia Eva, young gun Alyce Parker, Jes Dal Pos and Nicola Barr. Despite the last minute retirement of Amanda Farrugia, the GIANTS look as strong as ever on paper, with just the question marks coming over whether they can continue their form from last season on a more consistent basis. Pepa Randall is a great asset to have off half-back, and their experienced defence should be able to contain the SUNS like it did against Brisbane in the practice match not long ago. Cora Staunton continues to be a dangerous option wherever she plays, while Haneen Zreika showed promising signs in her games last year. You would imagine the GIANTS will kick their season off with a strong win here, as the SUNS are young and while they will get there, are not quite in the same window as the GIANTS – but watch out when they are fully developed.

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: L.Stephenson 12 T. Hetherington 9
HB: P.Randall 21 E.Brush 10 E.Bennetts 22
C: J.Dal Pos 7 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H. Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 A.Schmidt 11
F: J.Hicks 5 R. Privitelli 19
Foll: E.McKinnon 23 R. Beeson 6 A.Parker 3
I/C: Y.Bonner 27 I.Nielsen 25 J.Allan 39 A.Lister 14 B.Tully 36
Emerg: L. Steane 20 T. Mackrill 32

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 C.Hammond 29
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 M.Ritson 12
HF: B.Perry 16 A.Hamilton 30 P.Parker 1
F: L.Kaslar – C 11 K.Surman 26
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 H.Dunn 24
I/C: S.Watson 14 J.Hewett 20 S.Riley 8 D.Heslop 25 K.Howarth 23
Emerg: T.Thorn 15 M.Roberts 10

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

Two of last season’s most unlucky finals absentees meet in a cross-conference grudge match, as Melbourne and North Melbourne go head-to-head at Casey Fields. One of the inaugural AFLW sides, the Demons will be seeking to add ultimate glory to an already storied history this year, but an opening fixture against one of the flag favourites makes for a tough initiation. While the Dees’ four wins were only good enough for fourth place in Conference A, the Roos’ can count themselves even more unfortunate as two losses at the end of their maiden campaign saw them heartbreakingly miss finals. Still, with a stacked squad and added depth, North Melbourne have a great opportunity to bounce back in 2020 – starting here.

Scott Gowans‘ side fared well in the off-season to bare no major changes, losing only three players to newly-established clubs and bringing in some mature-aged depth come draft time to hint at a real flag tilt. Sarah Wright and Ellie Gavalas are two VFL Women’s standouts who landed on the Roos’ list and are set to debut off the bench on Saturday, adding some grunt to the already hardened North Melbourne midfield led by skipper, Emma Kearney. There may be some goals to make up inside attacking 50 given 2019 equal-leading goalkicker Mo Hope was unceremoniously delisted, but ruck-forward Emma King has shown her worth in front of the big sticks, while Kate Gillespie-Jones is a capable tall foil and Kaitlyn Ashmore could rotate through the forward line from midfield alongside Jasmine Garner. With the midfield battle a relative stalemate, depth across the ground will be key to the cause of either side.

The Dees will be buoyed by the long-awaited return of captain and women’s football pioneer, Daisy Pearce, who is set to be eased in off half-back given her side’s strength through the middle. Her presence in the back five alongside boom recruit, Libby Birch will be important given the danger North’s forward flankers present, with her trademark ball use sure to make a difference. Further afield, and Melbourne is one of the few sides which boasts an engine room to match the grunt of North’s, with Karen Paxman set to lead the line next to Elise O’Dea and young gun, Tyla Hanks while further depth lies on the bench. The forward half was seldom an issue for the Dees last year too, so their even spread points toward a cracking contest. While Melbourne will come in as a slight underdog, the Demons’ experienced movers and the fact they managed just one fewer win than North during last campaign without Pearce means they stand a real chance here, and could become an instant frontrunner in Conference B with a win. But North Melbourne has proven had to look past despite struggling against the top sides, so should come up trumps.

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: G.Colvin 32 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 E.O’Dea 5
I/C: S.Heath 30 M.Gay 3 M.Guerin 22 A.Kemp 36 S.Lampard 8
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 B.Lynch 20
C: J.Trend 21 A.Riddell 7 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 El.King 4
F: Em.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 E.Kearney – C 9
I/C: D.Bannister 2 A.Gilroy 8 D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 E.Gavalas 22
Emerg: N.Bresnehan 12 J.Grierson 19

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

Inaugural AFLW sides and Conference A rivals, Brisbane and Adelaide are primed to kick off their seasons in the Sunshine State, with the visiting reigning premiers out to defend their 2019 flag in 2020. The Crows were nothing short of dominant during last year’s campaign, going down only in the first regular season round before deservedly being crowned premiers in front of an adoring Adelaide Oval crowd – packed to the brim, no less. Adelaide has only added to its already deep squad over the off-season, despite being dealt a cruel blow weeks out with star defender Chelsea Randall ruled out for the year, but will come as the clear competition benchmark. On the other hand, Brisbane struggled throughout 2019 to notch just two wins having been repeatedly depleted throughout the off-season, but can lean on a reliable spine despite another 15-player coming out of its squad.

The Lions will field eight debutants in its Round 1 side, with top draftees and Academy graduates Lily Postlethwaite and Belle Dawes set to make theirs off the interchange bench. The 2018 best and fairest, Kate Lutkins leads the back six alongside mature-age recruit, Cathy Svarc, while skipper and stalwart Emma Zielke lines up on the wing outside of midfield jets, Ally Anderson and Emily Bates. Recent lightning strike survivor Jess Wuetschner will lead the forward line with Sophie Conway bringing some youthful exuberance and Lauren Arnell, the hard-edged experience. The Lions’ inability to put massive scores on the board will need to be rectified given Adelaide’s strength in that area, with added midfield strength – albeit through draftees – key to ensuring the forwards are given enough opportunity.

The Crows have had to adjust heavily, naming five debutants of their own with further injuries seeing the magnets shuffled before Round 1. Angela Foley and Marijana Rajcic will hold up the defence as Ebony Marinoff moves into midfield to replace recovering reigning MVP Erin Phillips, with Randall’s absence leaving a gaping hole in the back five. Stand-in skipper Jessica Foley is set to ruck with Montana McKinnon also unavailable, while a couple of late changes see emergencies Jaimi Tabb and Caitlin Gould slot in as Sophie Li and Courtney Cramey come out. It is a lot to make good for and while if any side has the depth to cover such losses, it is the Crows, Adelaide proved slow starters against a team it would normally beat last year – making for a bad omen. But even so, the Crows’ depth seems enough to overcome the changes, with a wealth of experience and the confidence of a premiership side holding up their chances. The Lions may struggle this season, but expect them to give it a red hot crack early on.

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

B: N.Grider 10 S.Campbell 20
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 C.Svarc 25
C: E.Zielke – C 8 B.Koenen 3 S.Webb 4
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Tawhiao-Wardlaw 30 S.Conway 12
F: D.Davidson 14 J.Wuetschner 23
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: G.Bodey 15 M.Moloney 28 I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6
Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 G.Collingwood 7

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: A.Foley 3 M.Rajcic 32 N.Campbell 20
C: R.Forth 27 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: D.Ponter 15 C.Gum 5 C.Gould 1
F: S.Thompson 14 E.Jones 2
Foll: J.Foley – C 24 A.Hatchard 33 N.Allen 8
I/C: 22 M.Newman 17 A.Considine 16 C.Biddell 12 N.Gore 7 J.Tabb
Emerg: R. Martin, C. Cavouras

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Heading back to Collingwood’s traditional home, the Magpies will no doubt give one of the AFL Women’s newest sides a hostile environment from which to make their debut in the competition. Fresh in supporters minds will be the Eagles’ men’s side triumph a couple of years ago in the AFL Grand Final, and with the new kids on the block entering the Magpies nest, it will certainly be a match to watch. Collingwood has been far from successful so far in its short history, failing to make finals and picking up a wooden spoon each year, leading to a coach change in Steve Symonds. West Coast join Fremantle in the west and picked up a host of recycled players to try and get them off to the best possible start.

For the first time in some time, the Magpies head into a match as favourites, having finished the year on a high last year following a victory over Brisbane. They came close against a number of sides, but showed they were gradually working as a cohesive unit following a massive upheaval over the previous off-season. After targeting youth the year before, the Magpies picked up the recruit of the off-season in Davey, who immediately adds grunt and class to an onball group that lacked a bit of pizazz. Sharni Layton‘s improvement in the ruck has been phenomenal, and along with VFL Women’s leading goal kicker and disposal winner, Jaimee Lambert, the Magpies will back themselves to win against most midfields. The only possibly bigger name to don the black and white this round is Chloe Molloy who returns after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. The 2018 AFL Women’s Rising Star has been named in attack after making her name in defence during that season. With Ash Brazill‘s stunning transformation from netballer to footballer, it has allowed Molloy to play in attack and along with Sarah D’Arcy create some scoring opportunities. Oakleigh Chargers’ speedster Alana Porter makes her debut in the side, so watch for her set of wheels as along with the likes of Sarah Rowe and captain Steph Chiocci, give the Magpies some outside run.

While the Magpies will start favourites, the Eagles have gone about recruiting some important players to their line-up. Former Fremantle star Dana Hooker is every bit an equal to the Magpies’ Davey, while former GIANTS’ onballer Emma Swanson and Lambert will have an equally important head-to-head. Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins will be looked upon to provide some goals, while Talia Radan will try to hold down the defence, with the former Adelaide and Melbourne player amongst a host of young stars. McKenzie Dowrick will be better for last year crossing back to her home state from Queensland, while Mikayla Bowen is as talented as any other player entering the AFL Women’s from the Under 18s last year. Former hockey player, Sophie McDonald has been thrown in the deep end to hold down centre half-back, while former Hawthorn VFL Women’s premiership player and best on ground in the premiership, Chantella Perera also has been named on an extended interchange to make her potential debut. The Eagles will give the Magpies a run for their money, and it would not be a complete shock to see the new side get a win, but the Magpies have built more depth, have more experience and are at home, so expect them to get up in a close one.

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 S.Casey 22
C: M.Shevlin 35 B.Bonnici 8 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: C.Molloy 2 S.D’Arcy 4 S.Dargan 46
F: M.Cann 25 J.Allen 6
Foll: S.Layton 1 B.Davey 3 J.Lambert 13
I/C: E.O’Dea 50 E.Fowler 15 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 S.Rowe 7 E.Hynes 11 A.Sheridan 14

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: M.Dowrick 5 S.McDonald 35 A.Hill 16
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 A.Atkins 9 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 D.Pisconeri 11
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 B.Devlyn 7 C.Perera 27 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32

St Kilda v Western Bulldogs, RSEA Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

St Kilda is set to become the fourth of the expansion clubs to take centre stage in Round 1, facing a tough Conference B initiation against inaugural AFLW club, Western Bulldogs. Fielding a side which combines plenty of experience and a blooding of exciting youth, the Saints will have to work for their maiden elite-level win with the Bulldogs a potential season 2020 climber. Under the guidance of new coach, Nathan Burke and with a number one pick in tow, the Bulldogs are primed to rectify the two-win season which saw them finish last in Conference A.

There could be as many as six Western Bulldogs debutants with draftees Gemma Lagioia and Hannah Munyard among seven players named on an extended bench. Confirmed in the starting line-up are star draftee Gabby Newton and internally-hyped Western product Elizabeth Georgostathis; both primed to initially make an impact up forward, with the potential to move further afield – somewhat in the place or mould of now-Tigers, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti. The pair will join stalwarts Bonnie Toogood and Deanna Berry inside forward 50, with Ellie Blackburn and Isabel Huntington making up the remainder of a very strong spine. The Dogs will lean on those experienced movers to keep themselves in games, but a much-welcomed injection of youth will make them a team which proves easy on the eye.

For the Saints, all three co-captains in Cat PhillipsKate Shierlaw and Rhiannon Watt have been named to lead out the new team, with plenty of recognisable names to keep an eye on among each line. Top five draftee Georgia Patrikios has been named up forward, but will likely drift up to a wing or into the midfield given her undeniable class on the ball, while pre-listed draftee Molly McDonald takes up one of those starting wing spots. With an extended bench of seven also set to be narrowed down, there could be even more pace and young stars to come into the fold immediately. An unknown entity, the Saints should come in with nothing to lose and throw caution to the wind with most expecting the Bulldogs to salute in this fixture. We are in that boat.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: K.O’Neill 20 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: N.Exon 15 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 E.Mackie 3
I/C: N.Von Bertouch 28 P.Kelly 16 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 C.Whitfort 4 N.Xenos 27 A.Brown 2

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: E.Gamble 14 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 N.Callinan 10
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: D.Marshall 26 K.Rennie 24 G.Lagioia 12 H.Scott 22 K.Herron 31 E.Brown 9 H.Munyard 20

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

In the final game of the AFL Women’s Round 1, last year’s preliminary final losers go head-to-head at Fremantle Oval. The Dockers host Geelong with a renewed optimism that they can match it with the top sides in the competition, and it will be a good test to see how they have recovered after being pillaged by West Coast in the off-season. The Cats were up and down last season, but have remained relatively untouched, and should go in as favourites based on the list changes. In a quirk, Mia-Rae Clifford will run out in the purple against her former side following her delisting and then free agency acquirement.

The home side will thrive on running out in front of a home crowd, and have named a number of young stars in the team who will drive the team forward over the next few years. Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan) will captain the side, and alongside partner, Ebony Antonio will try and maintain some balance to a team that has lost a number of quality players, led by the departure of star talent, Hooker. Tackling machine, Kiara Bowers and goal sneak Ashlee Sharp still remain as dangers to any opposition, while Gemma Houghton will have big shoes to fill with Parris Laurie leaving for the Eagles among a number of rucks departing the club. Sabreena Duffy got used to the level by season’s end in 2019, and is a future leader of the club, and now she is joined by a number of talented Under 18s stars. Roxanne Roux is a high-flying forward who will provide plenty of highlights over the next few years, while Mim Strom is an athletic ruck who has developed rapidly. While the Dockers side might have lost some star talent, they have also headed to the draft to pick up some more, and you can imagine they will be competitive in 2020.

Geelong might have stayed relatively untouched over the off-season, but have welcomed back a rising star in Nina Morrison. The number one pick in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft was unbelievable on debut against Collingwood 12 months ago, but then injured her knee and missed the next 12 months. She returns to the Round 1 side and has been named on a wing, hoping to repeat the effort from 2019. She is joined in the midfield by fellow 2018 draftees, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Purcell. Denby Taylor, Rebecca Webster and debutant, Millie Brown are all in the back five, held down by experienced skipper, Mel Hickey. Richelle Cranston has that X-factor about her in midfield, and Georgia Clarke looks set for a role change up forward with the former GWV Rebels’ defender named there with goalkicking machine, Phoebe McWilliams. The Cats will be confident heading into this match, with coach Paul Hood no doubt having them ripe and ready to go after a finals appearance in their inaugural season last year. The road trip can be a challenge, but if you are going to do it, at least they have it first up off a long break.

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

B: J.Cuthbertson 29 L.Pugh 32
HB: A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 E.Antonio 12
C: S.Cain 20 L.Rohde 11 K.Flood 44
HF: K.Grieve 13 A.Sharp 1 H.Miller 19
F: G.O’Sullivan 22 S.Duffy 6
Foll: G.Houghton 27 K.Bowers 2 K.Antonio – C 15
I/C: P.Seth 18 L.Mascall 14 B.Webb 26 R.Roux 17 J.Stewart 7 M.Strom 21 M.Clifford 4

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: D.Taylor 28 M.Hickey – C 18 R.Webster 21
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Cranston 30 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 G.Clarke 17 R.Garing 12
F: P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: A.McDonald 3 G.Rankin 10 A.Teague 40 R.Goring 44 R.Caris 1 M.Maguire 7 M.Keryk 45

ROUND 1 TIPS:

Michael Alvaro [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Taylah Melki [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Sophie Taylor [0]: Richmond / GWS / Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / St Kilda / Fremantle
Peter Williams [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Geelong

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: Collingwood

COLLINGWOOD looms as a big improver in the upcoming 2020 AFL Women’s season, with much of its list fresh off a premiership-winning VFLW campaign. The only way is up for last year’s Conference B wooden spooner, and a handful of elite talents should guide the Magpies close to the finals frame, with added dynamism and depth down the all-important spine boding well for a promising year ahead. Their engine room looks mean, and at full strength the Magpies have some serious potential with talent on every line.

KEY PLAYER:

Brianna Davey (utility)

The prize recruit of the off-season finally gets the chance to prove she was worth the hefty cost, albeit having already contributed heavily to the Magpies’ VFLW premiership triumph. An ex-captain of Collingwood’s arch-rival, Davey brings undeniable leadership quality and can win games off her own boot. She showed just that on an almost weekly basis during Carlton’s run to the 2019 AFLW grand final, taking home joint best and fairest honours in the process. Able to play just about anywhere, the 2017 All Australian is as pure a ball winner as they come and is a player who coaches wish they had one of on each line. She is the complete package and may well be the player to turn games for her new club, making her key to their 2020 season.

RISING STAR:

Sarah Dargan (forward/midfielder)

The basketball convert came on well in her second AFLW campaign, earning a Rising Star nomination for her 16-disposal effort in Round 4 and featuring in all seven games. Her rate of development was highlighted by a move to the midfield, with the tenacious Calder Cannons graduate lauded for her attack on the ball and tackling intent. Given the recruit of Davey left the Magpies with a compromised draft hand, Dargan may well be the youngster to make the biggest rise and help her side challenge for the finals spots. Should she continue to play further afield, Dargan’s ability to find the ball will be a key area she improves on.

WATCH FOR:

Chloe Molloy (key position utility)

Molloy served a timely reminder of her talent during Collingwood’s premiership-winning VFLW campaign, completing her comeback from a lisfranc injury which ruled her out of the entire 2019 AFLW season. But the 2018 All Australian and Magpies best-and-fairest will be keen to get back out on the big stage and into her best form after watching her side’s lacklustre 2019 effort from the sidelines. Able to play off every line, Molloy can provide the key position support the Magpies lacked last year up either end, as well as some class through the midfield with a full VFLW campaign and pre-season behind her. It could be a big year for Molloy, who will look to stamp herself as a top-five player once again.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Carlton, Fremantle, Melbourne, St Kilda, West Coast, Western Bulldogs.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – vs. West Coast
Round 2 – @ Carlton
Round 3 – @ Fremantle
Round 4 – vs. Melbourne
Round 5 – vs. Bulldogs
Round 6 – @ Brisbane
Round 7 – vs. St Kilda
Round 8 – @ Geelong

Perhaps a deceptively tough draw for the Magpies, with some must-win bouts coming after a softer Round 1 fixture against league newcomer, West Coast. Games against two finalists from 2019 in Rounds 2 and 3 will be conference defining, but a late-season run against the Bulldogs, Lions, and Saints could push the Magpies into the top three depending on how they fare in the first month of the season. An away clash with Geelong, their second crossover opponent, will be a tough ask to see out the season, but it could definitely have been worse.

PREDICTION: 4th/5th Conference B

Last year’s conference wooden spooner should fare much better this time around, helped by the injection of two elite talents in the returning Molloy and prize recruit, Davey to add to the class of Ash Brazill, Jaimee Lambert, and Brittany Bonnici. A VFLW premiership bodes well for team chemistry, and the Magpies have a bunch of leaders among their high-end talents who can steer their side to a much-improved result. The fight for that third finals spot will be fierce in Conference B, and with last year’s results in mind, expect Collingwood to feature on the precipice of that range.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Collingwood

IT was a disappointing 2019 season for Collingwood, with a combination of rebuilding through youth and unlucky losses culminating in a Conference wooden spoon. The Magpies were competitive in all their cross-conference games and were unlucky not to potentially get an extra couple of wins, but ultimately could not match it with sides for the full four quarters. After a massive influx of youth walked into the club at the start of last season, it was a different approach 12 months later as Collingwood poached the player of the trade period by securing arch rival Carlton’s captain, Brianna Davey for most of the Magpies’ picks. With pick two and AFL Women’s Rising Star Chloe Molloy also returning after missing the entire 2019 season, the Magpies effectively have two elite talents walking into the Round 1 side.

Aside from Davey, Collingwood had a relatively quiet off-season, with Darcy Guttridge and Iilish Ross departing to expansion clubs, Cecilia McIntosh retired, while the Magpies also delisted a further five players. One of those – Jordan Membrey regained a spot on the Magpies’ list, picked up in the recent AFL Women’s Draft alongside Oakleigh Chargers’ speedster Alana Porter who spent the VFL Women’s season on Collingwood’s list, fellow speedster Machaelia Roberts, former GWS GIANTS’ player Ebony O’Dea and Casey Demons key utility, Kaila Bentveltzen. While the AFL Women’s season was fairly disastrous in terms of wins and losses, the VFL Women’s side took home the premiership, with plenty of AFLW-listed players standing out across the year. That belief, along with the vital inclusions are likely to spur the Magpies on to move up the ladder in season 2020.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Brianna Davey (Carlton), Aishling Sheridan (gaelic), Kaila Bentveltzen (Casey Demons VFLW), Alana Porter (Oakleigh Chargers), Ebony O’Dea (GWS GIANTS), Machaelia Roberts (NT Thunder)
OUT: Darcy Guttridge (St Kilda), Iilish Ross (Richmond), Cecilia McIntosh (retired), Nicole Hildebrand, Melissa Kuys, Georgie Parker, Holly Whitford (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Alexander
Jordyn Allen
Kaila Bentveltzen
Britt Bonnici
Ashleigh Brazill
Lauren Butler
Mikala Cann
Sophie Casey
Steph Chiocci
Sarah D’Arcy
Brianna Davey
Sarah Dargan
Erica Fowler
Emma Grant
Georgia Gourlay
Eliza Hynes
Jaimee Lambert
Stacey Livingstone
Katie Lynch
Jordan Membrey
Chloe Molloy
Ebony O’Dea
Alana Porter
Machaelia Roberts
Ruby Schleicher
Maddie Shevlin
Kristy Stratton

Rookies: Sharni Layton, Sarah Rowe, Aishling Sheridan

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Sophie Casey – Stacey Livinstone – Jordyn Allen
HB: Ash Brazill – Ruby Schleicher – Maddie Shevlin
C: Britt Bonnici
HF: Steph Chiocci – Sarah D’Arcy – Sarah Dargan
F: Chloe Molloy – Sophie Alexander – Katie Lynch
R: Sharni Layton* – Brianna Davey – Jaimee Lambert
INT: Eliza Hynes – Emma Grant – Mikala Cann – Georgia Gourlay – Ebony O’Dea
EMG: Sarah Rowe* – Kaila Bentvelzen – Lauren Butler

DEPTH: Erica Fowler, Jordan Membrey, Alana Porter, Machaelia Roberts, Kristy Stratton.

The Magpies’ best 21 is more stable than many other sides, with the draftees likely having to force their way into the side being later picks. Given O’Dea’s links with Steve Symonds through Norwood, the former GWS GIANTS midfielder could well play a specific role within the team and could be a Round 1 starter. The Collingwood defensive back six is pretty settled, with about the last two spots able to be rotated between a number of players, but the likes of Livingstone, Schleicher, Brazill and Casey are pretty set, with Allen and Shevlin able to fill there, or in each of the other thirds on the ground. Bentveltzen has transformed into a defender and could stake a case for a starting role, while Molloy can play at either end. We have her up forward with D’Arcy and Alexander who are the two locks inside 50, while captain Chiocci showed she can play that defensive half-forward role with scoreboard impact as well. Dargan and Lynch fill out the front six because of their upside and rotational ability on wings or through the middle.

The onball brigade is an interesting one. Given Layton’s form at VFLW level, she might well be given first crack at the ruck role, but it is expected they could play the two rucks and Collingwood’s number one ruck from last year – Hynes – will rotate both through that position and up forward. The three midfielders are fairly straight forward, with Davey, Lambert and Bonnici all offering different aspects to the team. The last five to seven spots between the bench and emergency is tough to pick, with the remainder of the list fairly even, and the newbies in Membrey and Roberts already readymade for senior football, while Porter will take some time but could get some games later in the year. Gourlay and Cann made our bench because of their continued improvement at VFLW level and the upside they have, while Grant is a terrific team player likely to be given an early crack to maintain her spot in there.

VFL Women’s wash-up: Round 4

ROUND 4 saw a number of big results in the VFL Women’s, with Casey losing top spot with their first loss for the season, dropping to fourth as the Bulldogs, Saints and Tigers got wins on the board. Meanwhile, three sides still sit winless, with Carlton, Williamstown and Darebin yet to secure the four points but all have had a bye.

HAWTHORN 2.1 | 3.4 | 4.8 | 4.11 (35)
WILLIAMSTOWN 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.2 (26)

By: Nikki Jamieson

GOALS
Hawthorn: R. Beeson 2, M. Hutchins, S. Perkins
Williamstown: S. Whiting 2, M. Hope, E. Crawford

BEST
Hawthorn: M. Hutchins, R. Dillon, T. Radan, O. Flanagan, R. Beeson, P. Randall
Williamstown: A. Melnikas, M. Williamson, L. Suleiman, N. Wallace, S. Whiting, G. Anderson

Hawthorn won their second match for the VFLW season, as Williamstown continues into round five without a win on the board. In what started as a close game with both teams tied at the end of the first quarter, Hawthorn’s defence were then able to keep Williamstown in check. The Hawks only let through one point from Williamstown before the final quarter. Williamstown was able to limit the Hawks’ strong offensive front, sparing them from a total blowout and limiting them to mostly behinds throughout the match. An impactful game from backline players such as Ashlea Melnikas and Nikki Wallace (12 disposals, six tackles) kept Hawthorn in check for most of the game. Seagulls’ Mo Hope (11 disposals, one goal) and Sharnie Whiting (18 disposals, two goals, four tackles) were also key in the final quarter comeback, kicking goals in the dying minutes.
Hawthorn’s season is starting to fare better but most would have expected a stronger performance from them against Williamstown who are at the bottom of the ladder. An important player for Hawthorn in defence was Pepa Randall (11 disposals, four tackles), helping keep the Seagulls’ forwards quiet for most of the match. Another key player for Hawthorn was Meg Hutchins (11 disposals, one goal, three tackles), consistently influencing the contest and winning the ball.Rebecca Beeson had a great match kicking two goals, and Olivia Flanagan (23 disposals, one behind, five tackles) led overall for disposals with 23. Also notable was Rosie Dillon (18 disposals, one behind, four tackles) who played tight on the ball all match.

MELBOURNE UNI 0.1 | 0.4 | 2.7 | 4.10 (34)
RICHMOND 2.3 | 3.4 | 3.5 | 5.7 (37)
By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS:
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner 3, K. Gillespie-Jones
Richmond: T. Stahl, M. Brancatisano, J. Colwell, K. Brennan, L. Bailey

BEST:
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, K. Angelis, K. Gillespie-Jones, A. Riddell, N. Julian, J. Bruton
Richmond: K. Brennan, E. Burry, R. Miller, H. Burchell, T. Stahl, J.Colwell

A fast start from the Tigers saw the Muggars mount a comeback too little too late, as they peppered the goals without luck in an attempt to turn the tides with minutes left on the clock. Tigers were strong early, not only limiting Melbourne Uni to only four behinds by half time with no worries in front of goal as they kicked three goals four by half time. The main break sparked Uni into action, as the side put in the hard yards in an attempt to even up the ledger, only down by seven points at the final change and ready for a fight to the finish. It was the Tigers who had the last laugh however, as their pressing defence caused errors and inaccuracy in front of goal, with Uni finishing with more scoring shots on the board but going down by three credit to Richmond’s early lead and composure to fight through the momentum swing. AFLW players, Jasmine Garner (three goals, 22 disposals, eight marks) and Katie Brennan (31 disposals, nine marks, six tackles and one goal) were best on ground for their respective sides, while Uni’s Ash Riddell, Jenna Bruton and Kate Gillespie-Jones also made an impact around the ground with a combined 82 touches, 24 tackles and 14 marks between them. Tayla Stahl racked up a goal and two behinds from 15 touches, while Alice Edmonds and Jenna Colwell dominated the ruck, combining for 40 of Richmond’s 41 hitouts, compared to Uni’s 19. Richmond’s domination at centre bounce all but tells the tale of this match, with Uni’s ruck woes having a big impact on centre clearances.

ESSENDON 1.1|2.2|4.2|5.2 (32)
CARLTON 2.0|2.1|2.3|2.3 (15)

By: Brandon Hutchinson

GOALS:

ESSENDON: A. Quigley 3, H. Bullas, L. Stepnell
CARLTON: M. Clifford, N. Plane

BEST:
ESSENDON:
S. Nadler, A. Anderson, M. Collier, K. Heil, H. Bullas, A. Quigley
CARLTON: J. Hosking, N. Stevens, C. Wilson, N. Plane, G. Wright, B. Moody

Essendon proved better in the clash with their traditional rivals, the Blues, defeating the visitors by 17-points at Windy Hill. Both sides entered Round 4 winless, and though the Blues looked better in the first, Essendon’s efforts prevailed. The Bombers kept the Blues goalless for the remaining three quarters, adding four more of their own to close out the game. Despite the loss, Carlton dominated the hit-outs 51 to 23, and recorded more inside 50s (31), marks (33) and tackles (89). In the end, the Bombers’ defensive structures were too good for the Blues to penetrate – struggling to get any reward for repeat efforts. Carlton’s Breann Moody dominated in the centre with 14 disposals, four tackles and 31 hit-outs. Sarah Hosking (23 disposals, five marks and seven tackles) and Natalie Plane (25 disposals, one goal, five marks and five tackles) were also among Carlton’s best, as they impressed on-ball. For the Dons, Alex Quigley starred up forward, kicking three goals with nine disposals, four marks and two tackles, putting one away in every quarter except the second. Teammates, Simone Nalder (14 disposals, five marks and 21 hit-outs) and Hayley Bullas (28 disposals, one goal, 19 kicks and eight tackles), also starred through the midfield in Essendon’s win.

COLLINGWOOD 2.4 | 2.8 | 4.10 | 5.10 (40)
NT THUNDER 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)
By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS:
Collingwood:
S. Dargan, G. Lagioia, J. Lambert, J. Allen, C. Molloy
NT Thunder: J. Hewett

BEST:
Collingwood:
B. Bonnici, B. Davey, G. Lagioia, K. Lynch, J. Allen, S. King
NT Thunder: J. Hewett, N. Gore, K. Streader, A. Sheridan, H. Martin, A. Foley

It was Brianna Davey‘s first match in her new colours and she certainly did not disappoint as the Pies well and truly dominated against the thus far high-flying Thunder. The Magpies did a great job to limit the Thunder’s options forward, and without the likes of Chelsea Randall and Ebony Marinoff to create pressure through the midfield, the visitors had a hard time maintaining possession. Davey, Britt Bonnici and Jaimee Lambert were excellent across the field, dominating possession as the Pies swooped on goal, peppering the sticks with attempts. Despite plenty of opportunities inside 50 the side struggled to convert at times, fortunate that the Thunder were cracking under pressure. Chloe Molloy was a big target forward, kicking one goal but missing a further four while Lambert and Jordyn Allen kicked 1.1 apiece. Sarah Dargan and Gemma Lagioia managed 12 touches and a goal apiece. Jasmyn Hewett was best afield for Thunder on an average day, picking up 15 touches, five marks, five tackles and kicking Thunder’s only goal. Leading the disposal count with 25 touches was Angela Foley, while Nikki Gore had low possessions but laid 14 tackles.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 3.1 (19)
GEELONG 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.5 | 1.6 (12)
By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS:
Western Bulldogs:
S. Jolly, D. Marshall, A. Scott
Geelong: K. Darby

BEST:
Western Bulldogs:
B. Lochland, D. Marshall, B. Toogood, S. Jolly, N. McMahon, J. Davies
Geelong: D. Taylor, J. Ivey, R. Webster, R. Goring, C. Blakeway, O. Purcell

The matchup between Geelong and Western Bulldogs was an interesting one, with both sides struggling to hit the board in the low-scoring contest before the Dogs eventually held on for a seven point victory. The Dogs had the momentum early courtesy of a goal from Danielle Marshall, and despite Geelong’s efforts the home side kept the lead for the first half. The third saw the Cats get into the contest, all but peppering the posts with four scoring shots to lead by five points by the final change thanks to a goal from Kate Darby, before the Bulldogs found some of their early offensive pressure to kick two final quarter goals to win the match. Brooke Lochland (24 disposals, six marks, three tackles), Sarah Jolly (21 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Emma Mackay (21 touches, three marks, six tackles) dominated the contest for the Dogs, while Bonnie Toogood racked up 20 touches, nine marks and six tackles. Though not a big ball winner, Nicole McMahon provided plenty of ball in the ruck with 34 hit-outs to dominate the contest. For Geelong, Jordan Ivey, Amy McDonald, Olivia Purcell and Rebecca Webster all collected 21 touches, with Ivey’s clean hands awarding her with five marks while Purcell racked up seven tackles. Geelong Falcons’ Luka Lesoksy-Hay made her mark in her first match for the side, only managing nine touches but applying plenty of pressure with her nine tackles.

CASEY DEMONS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.6 (12)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 | 1.4 | 1.4 | 3.5 (23)
By: Sophie Taylor

GOALS:
Casey:
C. Emonson
Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 2, C. Greiser

BEST:
Casey:
E. Birch, S. Lampard, C. Emonson, B. Jakobsson, K. Oates, M. Guerin
Southern Saints: S. Johnson, E. Keaney, T. Bohanna, M. McDonald, F. Steiert, K. O’Neill

It was a rough day out for the Casey Demons, going down by 11 points in a low scoring affair that dropped the side from top spot to fourth. The Southern Saints were smothering from the get-go, not allowing the Demons any space to move the ball and forcing errors across the field. Yet another side with only one goalkicker for the match, it was Chantel Emonson who stepped up to the plate to boot Casey’s only goal for the match in the third term, also racking up 17 touches and seven tackles in her best performance for the season so far. Despite missing out on Round 3, Maddy Guerin did not seem to miss a beat back in the side with 20 touches, three marks and six tackles. Libby Birch (20 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles) and Bianca Jakobsson (19 touches, three marks, six tackles) were also solid, while Harriet Cordner and Tyla Hanks provided plenty of defensive pressure laying 10 and nine tackles respectively. The Saints did not have much more of the ball than the Dees did, but certainly used it better on the day with three goals on the board, two courtesy of Tara Bohanna who generated plenty of the footy. Samantha Johnson was best on for the Saints, racking up 24 touches, four marks and four tackles while Poppy Kelly dominated hitouts with 29 – the same amount as Casey’s three ruck options combined. Alison Drennan (20 disposals, two marks, four tackles) and Alison Brown (15 disposals, nine tackles) also put in the hard yards, and fortunately did enough to deny the Demons a fourth win on the trot.

Darebin Falcons: BYE

AFLW- Grand Final Wrap

Adelaide Crows 10.3 (63) defeated Carlton 2.6 (18)

THE Adelaide Crows claimed their second premiership after an impressive four quarter performance. In front of a whopping crowd of more than 53,000 the Crows looked dominant from the first bounce. But tragedy struck late in the third term, with superstar Erin Phillips going down with a suspected ACL injury and teammate Chloe Scheer also gone for the game. Though the Blues were favoured by the whistle early on winning three 50m penalties, that did not seem to stop the rampaging Adelaide Crows who controlled the footy from the get go.

It was a fairytale start for Carlton rookie, Maddie Prespakis who nailed the opening goal to kick start their campaign. After winning a 50 metre penalty, the cool, calm and composed 19-year-old nailed a goal right in front. Carlton’s youngsters stood up early with Charlotte Wilson laying a goal saving tackle in the opening quarter against Adelaide speedster, Danielle Ponter, wrapping her up before she could let loose towards the goals. For the Crows, Erin Phillips continued her dominant season, with a beautiful clearance in the opening seconds of the game. Anne Hatchard stepped through traffic and slotted an impressive goal to open the account for the Crows who did not look back, starting a flurry of goals. They applied plenty of attacking pressure early on, creating repeat entries with the ball falling into the lap of Hannah Martin and Irish recruit, Ailish Considine, with both converting in front of goal.

Stevie-Lee Thompson showcased her electric speed, running into an open goal square in the second quarter. Her major was quickly followed by Phillips who nailed a goal off a couple of steps after receiving a free kick from about 20 out on a slight angle. Jess Foley dominated in the ruck, tapping the ball down to the advantage of her teammates while Chloe Scheer took a hug grab in the second quarter, wheeling and going long to Ponter who ran into an open goal and nailed yet another one for the Crows. Ponter slotted her second goal for the quarter after finding herself in the goal square, taking a big contested mark against her opponent. Eloise Jones put on the afterburners going for a run down the wing and drilling a pass to none other than Danielle Ponter who bagged her third consecutive goal. For the Blues, Sarah Hosking worked tirelessly throughout the quarter, while after a quiet start, Tayla Harris got a bit more involved when the ball came down her way. Captain, Brianna Davey steadied the ship before half time converting from about 35 out on a slight angle.

Third quarter saw a lift in intensity from the Blues, laying some strong tackles and hitting targets across the ground. They kept the Crows to only one goal for the term with plenty of the play happening around their attacking 50 but were unable to find the scoreboard. Darcy Vescio injected herself into the game, picking up some good touches across the ground. Chelsea Randall was a real general down back controlling the airways and worked exceptionally well in tandem with Sarah Allen, who proved to be a lynchpin in defence. With the Crows up and about Erin Phillips took centre stage once again with a strong lead and an impressive goal. But minutes later the Adelaide playmaker was helped from the ground with a knee injury.

It was a tight tussle in the last quarter with neither side able to nail a major in the final term. But in the end, it was the Adelaide defence that proved to be hard to overcome, while their work through the midfield was second to none credit to their smooth movement and impeccable vision. Crows stars Ebony Marinoff and Courtney Cramey were inspirational across the ground doing the one percenters well. Though it was a disappointing for the Blues the likes of Nicola Stevens and Alison Downie stood up.

Weekend preview: AFL Women’s – Grand Final

SUNDAY will see the biggest game of the AFL Women’s calendar, with minor premiers of both Conference A and Conference B, Adelaide and Carlton making it to the 2019 AFLW Grand Final. A battle of conferences is a fitting way to end the 2019 season, with both sides hopeful for their best win of the season. Carlton showed a new side of their team in last week’s first preliminary final against Fremantle, convincingly outplaying the Dockers and beating them by 36 points to lock in an inaugural grand final appearance. Adelaide put up a stellar performance against Geelong in the second preliminary final, running over the Cats by a painful 66 point margin and locking in a home grand final on Sunday afternoon. This week will see Adelaide as strong contenders for their second AFLW Grand Final win, only the first club in a position to do so after the competition’s inception in 2017, while Carlton will hope to pull off a big upset similar to their performance last week in order to get the win in front of a hostile Adelaide home crowd.

Adelaide vs. Carlton
Sunday, March 31
1:00pm AEDT, Adelaide Oval

Carlton’s strong win against favourites, Fremantle last week sees the Blues make it into their inaugural Grand Final, while the Crows are the first side to take the field in a Grand Final with one trophy already under their belt, meaning this match will be a one to add to the record books regardless of the outcome. While the Conference system is the only reason Carlton were able to make finals, this match will be a big indicator of the difference between Conference A and Conference B, unless Carlton are able to pull off another shock victory to take out the 2019 AFLW Grand Final. That being said, Carlton have produced fighting scorelines in majority of their matches, winning five of their last six matches to make the Grand Final, so do have the potential to give Adelaide a run for their money. The Crows have won their last seven matches, the first of their run against Carlton in Round 2 2019, so will want to keep their fine form going with another win to add to their season tally.

From the two sides in the mix this week, Carlton’s Madison Prespakis, Lauren Brazzale and Brianna Davey stood out in the big win against the Dockers, with 57 touches, 11 tackles, nine marks and a goal between them. Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff, Jess Foley and Erin Phillips were among the best in the team effort against Geelong, with a combined 69 disposals, 21 tackles, 11 marks and three goals.

Last time they met saw Adelaide prevail as Carlton threw all they had at the Crows, going down by only 13 points in Round 2 at Ikon Park (Carlton 7.2 (44) to Adelaide 9.3 (57)). The Blues led for a good part of the game with a good run out of defence, but struggled with forward options after Tayla Harris was a late omission from the side, allowing turnovers by a clinical and offence-driven Crows side. The Blues’ relentless forward push did mean some goals were bound to break through the Crows’ backline, however a late push from the visitors saw the two sides combine for a competitive seven goal third term, effectively taking the Crows back into the lead ahead of the last quarter. A three goal to one burst in the final term saw Adelaide come away with their first win for the season, while Carlton came away with a lot to think about and build on for their next matchup.

Adelaide’s small forwards were at their best in Round 2, with Stevie-Lee Thompson (four goals, 17 disposals) and Eloise Jones (two goals, five tackles) putting on a show in front of goal and poking holes in Carlton’s defence. Anne Hatchard and Erin Phillips dominated around the ground with 43 touches and 10 marks between them, while Jess Foley had the 17 hitouts and Ebony Marinoff added eight tackles to her season tally. Carlton had a good game in front of the big sticks, only registering two behinds for the day with six individual goalkickers, but were unable to capitalise on opportunities credit to Adelaide’s pressure around the ground and the Blues’ forward 50. Natalie Plane had her best game for the season, kicking two goals and racking up 11 touches and three tackles, while Kerryn Harrington and Madison Prespakis were among Carlton’s best, racking up 20 disposals apiece, with Prespakis kicking her debut goal in AFLW and Harrington notching up six marks. Shae Audley and Amelia Mullane managed seven and six tackles, respectively.

Weekend wash-up: AFLW – Preliminary Finals

THE past weekend saw the first ever AFL Women’s Preliminary Finals, and with it came surprise results that prove the intensity of the 2019 AFLW season and finals campaigns. Fremantle went down to Carlton in a surprising turn of events at Ikon Park, while Adelaide safely cemented themselves as the best side in the 2019 competition.

Carlton Blues 9.10 (64) defeated Fremantle Dockers 4.4 (28)
By: Brandon Hutchinson

Carlton earn their first AFLW Grand Final appearance with an impressive win over a formidable Fremantle. The Blues led the first but struggled to convert (five behinds), only hitting their strides in the second by adding four goals to their tally, while holding Fremantle to a goalless second quarter. The Blues surged away in the second half, kicking two more in the third, and the same in the fourth. Fremantle managed to kick consecutive goals in the fourth but by this time the Blues were already out of reach.

First year player, Madison Prespakis put on another outstanding performance, amassing 19 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal toward the end of the second on her way to a game-high 90 AFLW Fantasy Points. Alison Downie (13 disposals, three marks and three tackles), Brianna Davey (16 disposals, four marks and five tackles) and Lauren Brazzale (22 disposals, 16 kicks and two marks) were also pivotal in the win. Tayla Harris also kicked a goal in the win and amassed 10 disposals, four marks and four tackles with 56 AFLW Fantasy Points. Dana Hooker stood up in the loss for her side with 12 disposals, two marks and five tackles on her way to 63 AFLW Fantasy Points. Kiara Bowers (13 disposals, three marks and six tackles) and Ashley Sharp (10 disposals, one mark and four tackles) also impressed through the middle, while Gabby O’Sullivan kicked well with two goals.

This signals the end of Fremantle’s year after thoroughly impressing throughout the 2019 season. Carlton now face league favourites, Adelaide, at their home ground for a chance to make AFLW history.

Adelaide 11.7 (73) defeated Geelong 1.1 (7)
By: Nikki Jamieson

Adelaide has easily cruised into the 2019 AFLW Grand Final after thrashing Geelong by 66 points over the weekend. The Crows proved to be the stronger team, dominating in possessions and holding the Cats scoreless until 12 minutes into the final quarter. Geelong now hold the unfortunate title for lowest ever score in AFLW, with only seven points for the whole match. The odds were always stacked against Geelong, who had the lowest percentage in the competition, competing against an electric Adelaide team who only lost one game all season.

The Cats battled to get the ball early, but it was clear that the Crows’ experience outmatched even skilled players the likes of Richelle Cranston (one goal, 12 disposals) and young midfielder Olivia Purcell (14 disposals, four tackles). Captain, Mel Hickey (15 disposals) fought valiantly, while defenders, Meghan McDonald (16 disposals) and Anna Teague (nine disposals) worked hard against Adelaide’s overwhelming forward push, but it all was dismal for a not-quite-ready Geelong side.

The Crows displayed ultimate class throughout the match, showing off their best assets effortlessly in front of their home crowd. Co-captains, Erin Phillips (23 disposals, six tackles) and Chelsea Randall (15 disposals, one goal) were influential, but Ebony Marinoff (two goals, 27 disposals, 10 tackles) was the clear star of the show. Marinoff exemplified why she is a common name surrounding this year’s Best and Fairest, as one of the league’s best ball-winners and clearance players. Danielle Ponter (three goals) and Chloe Scheer (two goals) were absolutely damaging to Geelong, erupting in offence.

Adelaide is now to host Carlton in the 2019 AFLW Grand Final next Sunday 31 March at Adelaide Oval, 1pm (AEDST).