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The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 11

A HEAP of young prospects continue to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. As the NAB League season has now drawn to an end, Round 11 saw plenty more young talent scattered across each state league side. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have recently graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 11

Geelong’s winning run towards the postseason continued on Saturday, as the Cats found a way to edge past the Southern Saints on enemy territory. Usual suspects Tamara Smith (17 disposals, seven tackles) and Paige Sheppard (15 disposals, five marks) were among the winners’ best players, as Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels gun Chloe Leonard landed her VFLW debut in the hoops.

Meanwhile, Leonard’s Vic Country teammate and Dandenong Stingrays product Abbey Jordan marked her maiden game for the Saints with a goal, while Gabby De Angelis also found the big sticks in red, white and black.

Northern Knights standout Maeve Chaplin was another to debut in Round 11, turning out for Carlton in the Blues’ epic win over Casey. She managed six touches, as teammate and former Oakleigh Charger, Amber Micallef booted a goal. Talls Bridie Winbanks (eight tackles, 12 hitouts) and Grace Matser (six disposals, six hitouts) suited up once again for Casey, as did Emma Horne (nine disposals).

Collingwood moved another step closer to an undefeated regular season after accounting for Port Melbourne on the road, though it was the Borough who fielded more NAB League graduates. Dandenong pair Jaide Anthony (10 disposals, four marks) and Ash Richards (seven disposals) again impressed in their second outings, as the only current NAB Leaguers afield.

The likes of Bridie Kennedy, Sophie Locke, and Cleo Saxon-Jones also turned out for the Borough, while tall Neve O’Connor continues her extended run in the black and white.

Standalone sides Williamstown and Darebin played off in the season’s first draw, kicking to 16 points apiece at Downer Oval. Both teams fielded debutants and were served well by each. Sydney Academy skipper and Allies representative Jessica Doyle (15 disposals) suited up for the Seagulls and was one of their best alongside Ruby Tripodi (18 disposals, 11 tackles, one goal), while Northern Knights’ Trinity Mills booted a goal and laid eight tackles in her first outing for Darebin.

A host of past and present NAB Leaguers were scattered across the Essendon and Western Bulldogs lineups on Saturday, as the Bulldogs won out by 18 points. GWV products Nyakoat Dojiok (15 disposals, three marks), Ella Friend (two goals), and Tahlia Meier (10 tackles) were all productive on debut for the Dogs, as the likes of Nikita Wright and Brooke Hards also got on the park once more.

Essendon debuted Calder Cannons prospects Emelia Yassir and Neve Crowley, who joined teammates Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell at state league level. Graduates Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba were among the Bombers’ best, while Tamsin Crook again got a run in red and black.

Sunday’s sole fixture saw North Melbourne topple Hawthorn, with a host of Eastern Ranges and Tasmanian talents getting a chance for either team. Hawthorn fielded four current Ranges, with Bridget Deed the latest to debut. Teammates El Chaston, Tilly Hardy, and Keeley Sherar all returned, running out with graduates Chloe O’Malley and Jenna Richardson, while Gippsland’s Grace McRae earned plaudits for her efforts in brown and gold.

North Melbourne gave debuts to a trio of Tasmanians, in Amy Bissett, Jemma Blair, and Ella Maurer, with more still to come. Jayde Hamilton, another Allies representative, also turned out for the Roos in their win.

Image Credit: Kelly Defina / AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 11 preview: Teams stack up for final month of action

THERE are plenty of NAB League Girls debutants and AFL Women’s players who will run out for the respective teams this round of VFL Women’s (VFLW), in what could make or break some teams’ finals campaigns.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

Opening up the round is a genuine finals-defining clash in the sense that if the Southern Saints can get up at home, they should be home and hosed for the last finals spot. It will not be easy against a red-hot Geelong outfit that has loaded up on talent and looks to be the strongest lineup thus far which will be hard to beat. Focusing on youth and the return of NAB League Girls, Abbey Jordan comes in for her VFLW debut with the Saints, joining Sandringham’s Natasha Morris, whilst Tyanna Smith also makes her VFLW debut after an outstanding debut season at AFLW level. The VFLW talent at the Saints is quite strong, with Tara Bohanna and Hannah Stuart among the consistent performers this year supporting natural ball-winners Molly McDonald and Alice Burke who have shown their class above. The Cats midfield boasts Laura Gardiner, Darcy Moloney and Rebecca Webster with the possibility of Sophie Van De Heuvel rolling through and Olivia Barber rucking is the future of the AFLW side. The depth of the Cats looks to be just too strong, with Tamara Smith, Paige Sheppard and Richelle Cranston forming a dangerous half-forward line with elite level pressure. Expect the Cats to get the job done much to the relief of the chasing pack of VFLW sides just outside the finals places.

CASEY DEMONS vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:30am
Casey Fields

There are a couple of NAB League Girls players representing Casey Demons and Carlton in their battle at Casey Fields from 10:30am. Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser comes back for her second game after a solid debut last weekend, whilst Northern Knights inside ball-winner Maeve Chaplin will get her first run around with the Blues. After carrying the drinks last match, Lucy McEvoy gets her chance at VFLW level, while Maddy Guerin, Natalie Plane and Charlotte Hammans will be looking to continue their great form stepping down to state league level. The Demons are just loaded across the field though, not mucking around with the likes of Eden Zanker, Casey Sherriff, Libby Birch and Jacqueline Parry in there, whilst Eliza McNamara makes her VFLW debut after a strong first season at AFLW level. The Demons have had one of the more stacked lineups the past few weeks, and with competition leading goalkicker Imogen Milford up forward, it is hard to see them not chalk up another win with the form they are in, even missing competition top ball-winner Eliza West.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:45am
ETU Stadium

Barring a collapse in the final three rounds, a win here would lock up top spot for the Magpies, coming up against a Port Melbourne side that has now dropped two of its past three games. Only Geelong could catch the Magpies in the final few weeks and even then would need the Magpies to drop all the games – or lose severe percentage – to be a chance to grab top spot. Port Melbourne is always a chance to get up though, having a couple of Dandenong Stingrays in Jaide Anthony and Ash Richards running round whilst having plenty of Richmond AFLW players in the side. Whilst Emily Harley will not be in the side this week, the Borough have Cleo Saxon-Jones and Gabrielle Seymour at opposite ends, with Kodi Jacques returning for her first VFLW game, and Sophie Locke still in contention for the the leading goalkicker. The midfield combination of Katherine Smith, Sophie Molan and Mel Kuys will be difficult to beat, but the inclusion of Magpies AFLW star Jaimee Lambert will have the opposition on notice. Teaming up with Mikala Cann, Maddie Shevlin, Abbi Moloney and Sophie Casey as regular AFLW talents, the Magpies have some good spread across the ground, while Imogen Barnett, Matilda Zander and Marla Neal are all in good form, and Jasmine Ferguson has been a rock at the back. It should be a great game, with the Magpies ticking over the wins, but the Borough having plenty of experience in this match.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
Downer Oval

A bottom two clash at Downer Oval will give Williamstown the opportunity to confirm the Seagulls will avoid the wooden spoon, and effectively lock Darebin into that position with the result. The Seagulls have created that good link with the GWS GIANTS over the past couple of weeks, and bolster the side through some up and coming AFLW talents in Tarni Evans, Georgia Garnett and Emily Pease, whilst Tasmanian Priscilla Odwogo runs out in the blue and gold once again. Perhaps the biggest name from an AFLW Draft perspective in this game is Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle, who has been named on the interchange for the Seagulls to make her debut at the level. There is also a debut on the Falcons side, with Northern Knights key forward Trinity Mills named on the bench. With Jess Dal Pos as the prime mover onball, and the defensive combination of Victoria Blackwood and Gena Lawson-Tavan in the back 50, the Falcons have some composure moving the ball down the ground. The ruck battle between Sidney Cubasch (Darebin) and Elizabeth McGrath (Williamstown) is another one to watch, with Stephanie Simpson and Alyssa Mifsud both capable of kicking multiple goals on their day.

ESSENDON vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

The latest match on the Saturday is an early 11am fixture at Windy Hill, where the Bombers who are looking to push further up the table and just solidify that finals spot, take on a desperate Western Bulldogs outfit that has to win to stay in finals contention. If you want the best chance at seeing multiple AFLW Draft prospects this weekend, then this is the game to watch. Essendon have brought back Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell, with talented top-age draft-eligible players Neve Crowley and Emelia Yassir also making their debuts. Crowley has been named in the back six with Lennox, though could play at either end, whilst Yassir will come off the bench and likely impact midfield or forward. Friswell is in a forward pocket. For the Western Bulldogs, a trio of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will make their debuts, with Ella Friend, Nyakoat Dojiok and Tahlia Meier all named in the Dogs’ squad. With AFLW talent in Sarah Hartwig, Jess Fitzgerald, Britney Gutknecht and Isabella Grant among plenty of others, the Bulldogs are also not mucking around with their lineup and arguably should be favourites in this game on paper alone. The key is to try and quell the strong Bombers’ midfield which includes Georgia Nanscawen, Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper who are always finding the ball, and then Mia-Rae Clifford up forward, and Courtney Ugle creating across the ground.

HAWTHORN vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, May 16 @ 3:30pm
Box Hill City Oval

In a standalone fixture on Sunday, Hawthorn will look to keep alive its slim chance of making finals with a win over North Melbourne. The Hawks have a superior percentage and have some good young talent coming into the side, with Keeley Sherar, Bridget Deed, Eloise Chaston and Matilda Hardy forming a strong Eastern Ranges contingent, and Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae returns for another week after a big Round 10 effort last week. The Kangaroos are also handing out some impressive debuts to young players they might consider for their AFLW list, with a Tasmanian trio of Ella Maurer, Jemma Blair and Amy Bissett – who are all capped at national level with the Allies at the AFLW U19 Championships – set to run out in the blue and white stripes. With Jayde Hamilton another teenager who played alongside them for the Allies also remaining in the side, and then the form of Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely among others, the Roos are going to make a good fist of it. The Hawks just have too much depth across the field, and with Phoebe McWilliams and Kristy Stratton up forward, Meg Hutchins down back and Georgia Bevan and Alison Drennan roving to Tamara Luke through midfield, the brown and gold deserve to be favourites here and take home the win.

2021 Ones to Watch: VFLW-listed talents impressing

TEAMS have entered the final month of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season and NAB League Girls and AFL Women’s players are now regularly filtering through teams. With the AFL Women’s Draft always a talking point, it is worth remembering some of the VFL Women’s listed players who have held their spots and had really promising seasons. Whilst the below does not include everyone, there are a few names from each team named to keep an eye on.

COLLINGWOOD:

The Magpies have no shortage of VFL Women’s listed talent to keep an eye on. Imogen Barnett has been a powerful force up forward, slotting 11 goals in nine games and not only averaging the three marks, but the 2.7 tackles per match as well. In defence, Jasmine Ferguson is having a terrific season playing on some quality forwards, having really developed each season since her initial days with Gippsland Power. Marla Neal through the midfield has had a purple patch and is as hard as they come, whilst midfielder/forward Matilda Zander has kicked the seven goals and provide the speed and defensive pressure that could see former Norwood mentor Steve Symonds opt for the talented small.

GEELONG:

The Cats’ AFL Women’s talent has certainly been a driving force through the midfield this year, but a couple of hard-at-it midfielders in Paige Sheppard (20.2 disposals, 6.0 tackles) and Tamara Smith (17.5 disposals, 10.8 tackles) are doing their chances no harm with great in-and-under work and spreading to the outside. Claudia Gunjaca is another one who has really caught the eye this season, whilst defender Breanna Pratt has been amongst the best VFL-listed talents for the Cats.

PORT MELBOURNE:

Ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke has developed into an exciting forward who has an eye for goals and would be one that needs to be in consideration to step up, whilst injury replacement player Hannah McLaren continues to be a standout ball-winner at VFL Women’s level. Add in ex-Richmond forwards Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones who are searching for new contracts, and the Borough have some talents with experience that could step up and earn new contracts with other clubs.

CASEY DEMONS:

Eliza West has enjoyed an incredible season with the Demons and is a readymade talent if given the chance to step up. Grace Buchan has not missed a beat since crossing from the Magpies and has been reliable ball user in the back half, whilst Imogen Milford has been the dominant goalkicker this year. Emma Humphries has the AFL Women’s experience in the past to slot straight into a contender if required.

ESSENDON:

Georgia Nanscawen should be the top pick when it comes to selecting mature-age talent out of the VFL Women’s, as a genuine best 21 player at AFL Women’s level when fit. She is averaging 23 touches and almost 10 tackles, including a game where she was injured early. Fellow midfielder, Alana Barba remains on the radar for her attack on the contest and around the ground, whilst Courtney Ugle and Eloise Gardner are among a host of Bombers players that have traits which could be utilised at the next level.

SOUTHERN SAINTS:

A tall versatile option, Tara Bohanna has been a reliable source of goals for the Saints, able to roll through the ruck as well as provide strength in the air and on the ground for 16.2 disposals, 4.3 marks, 4.5 tackles, 7.4 hitouts and more than a goal a game. A mature-age midfielder Hannah Stuart is one for the immediate-impact group, averaging almost 18 touches and six tackles as a tough inside ball-winner, whilst Gabbi De Angelis has always had some special traits since coming through the Eastern Ranges, and Valerie Moreau is one of a number of Saints enjoying good seasons.

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

The AFL Women’s contingent has definitely bolstered the Western Bulldogs’ squad, but in terms of mainstays only two players have played every game. Brooke Hards has been utilised in a multitude of positions and settled at half-back of late whilst rotating through the midfield, possessing great pace and game-breaking ability across the ground. Simone Ruedin is as reliable as they come, and if a club was locking for a rock-solid defender, there have been few better this season. Ruck/forward Molly Denahy Maloney has some eye-catching traits that might catch the eye, whilst Katelyn Betts has shown versatility and hardness around the ball.

HAWTHORN:

The Hawks have a plethora of recently delisted AFL Women’s players that could slot all over this list, with Tamara Luke, Alison Drennan, Kristy Stratton and Georgia Bevan among the long list of talents with prior AFLW-experience. From a VFLW-listed perspective, Jessie Williams‘ development up forward with seven goals in 10 games, as well as young gun and speedster Dominique Carbone and consistent talented midfield Olivia Flanagan among those with some exciting traits to keep an eye off.

NORTH MELBOURNE:

North Melbourne has promoted quite a lot of its VFL Women’s talent this year, with Meagan Kiely and ex-Darebin talent Molly Eastman among the names that the club, or other clubs might consider for the pure ball-winning consistency. Perhaps the most damaging one could be forward-cum-midfielder Sarah Skinner who not only can wreak havoc inside 50, but go inside and find a truckload of the ball as well. Alexia Hamilton is an ex-Sun who has been reliable in the ruck and as a forward target who might earn a call-up.

CARLTON:

Akayla Peterson has been a standout this year, able to play in a multitude of roles, booting five goals playing up forward and in defence, and being able to slot in anywhere. Jorja Borg has been a dominant ruck through that role, while defender Ally Bild is only about to turn 22-years-old and has made strides since crossing from the Magpies. She only played the four games this season, but Jennifer Lew‘s impact in defence was noticeable for the Navy Blues, averaging 18.5 disposals and 5.3 marks in that time.

WILLIAMSTOWN:

The Seagulls might not have had a lot of AFL Women’s experience prior to the GWS GIANTS joining forces, but have had some reliable ball-winners. Megan Williamson is a player who could step up as a readymade inside midfielder, while it is hard to look past the influence that Erin Meade or Aimee Whelan can have on a game, whilst Elizabeth McGrath had almost 60 hitouts recently against one of the premier rucks in the competition.

DAREBIN FALCONS:

Gena Lawson-Tavan has been a rock in defence for the Falcons this season playing every game alongside Samara David who has been one of the premier markers of the competition, also booting five goals in 10 games. Sidney Cubasch has been a reliable ruck option each week she has played, while Victoria Blackwood is still young and developing – only turned 21 in December last year – and really stepped up this season.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 9

A HEAP of young prospects continue to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. While the NAB League finals commenced, Round 9 saw plenty of young talent scattered across each state league side. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have recently graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 9

Essendon’s thumping win over Carlton saw a quartet of graduates get their hands dirty in the red and black. Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Elizabeth Snell continues to impress, with 12 disposals and nine tackles capping her latest effort. Meanwhile, Alana Barba matched the Country coup for tackles, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Tamsin Crook each managed nine touches. For Carlton, Marnie Jarvis also worked hard for seven disposals and seven tackles.

Not only did Port Melbourne return to the winners list this past weekend, but Sophie Locke also returned to the scoresheet with 1.2 from 14 touches against Darebin, in what was her second game back. Recently delisted Richmond forward Emily Harley showed her worth with a bag of four goals, as fellow former AFLW players Cleo Saxon-Jones and Bridie Kennedy both contributed six disposals in the win.

Geelong inflicted the round’s biggest margin of victory with a 75-point drubbing of the Western Bulldogs, who fielded two debutants. Current Western Jets prospects Caitlin Sargent (nine disposals, one goal) and Trinity Skenderis (five disposals) ran out alongside fellow NAB Leaguer Jemima Woods, while mainstay Brooke Hards played a defensive role on Stephanie Williams. For Geelong, Tamara Smith (17 disposals, eight tackles, two goals) and Paige Sheppard (22 disposals, one goal) were among the standouts.

The Casey Demons were also big winners on Saturday, with tall Bridie Winbanks playing an important role. She managed 29 hitouts, while Emma Horne seeing the ball six times throughout. In North’s blue and white, Jayde Hamilton returned to the fold after representing the Allies and GWS Academy, while Ciara Fitzgerald had eight touches and laid two tackles.

A hardened Collingwood side trounced Williamstown in Saturday’s final fixture, but it was the Seagulls who fielded the more NAB League graduates. Among them, tall talent Tahlia Merrett (seven disposals, three tackles, eight hitouts) was named her side’s best, while midfielder Ruby Tripodi also featured in the votes for her eight disposals and 10 tackles.

Sunday’s standalone fixture saw the Southern Saints get past Hawthorn, with the Hawks fielding a debutant in the fighting loss. Gippsland Power product and Vic Country representative Grace McRae was the player in question, managing 11 disposals and five tackles. Chloe O’Malley (11 disposals, five tackles, one goal) was also impressive in the brown and gold, as Jenna Richardson and Maddi Shaw also featured. For the Saints, Gabriella De Angelis, Amelia Peck, and Grace Hodder all turned out once again.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 8 preview: Anzac Day rivals lock horns at The Hangar

ANZAC Day matches take centre stage, along with a Friday night blockbuster at Whitten Oval, in what is anticipated to be a fantastic round of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s action for Round 8 of the competition.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Friday, April 23 @ 7:30pm
Whitten Oval

A mammoth win last Sunday afternoon against Darebin saw Western Bulldogs jump from eleventh to eighth on the VFL Women’s table, and draw to within four points of the top six. They will have plenty of percentage to catch up on after some disappointing losses, but the team that currently holds sixth spot is their opponents on Friday night, the Southern Saints. The Saints have a healthy percentage thanks to a similar belting of the Falcons back in Round 5, which had actually snapped a three-game losing streak. They did go down to the unbeaten Magpies last week, so will be seeking to bounce back against the Dogs in this clash. Tara Bohanna is a key player for the Saints, booting eight goals in seven games to be within reach of top spot on the table. Valerie Moreau and Gabbi De Angelis have both slotted four majors, to give the Saints a pretty potent forward line. Alice Burke ran rampant last week with 35 touches, whilst the dangerous Renee Saulitis is another small who can inject pace and class around goals. By comparison, Mary Sandral leads the Dogs’ goalkicking with the four majors, but was injured during the clash against the Falcons, On debut Western Jets’ Jemima Woods slotted three majors, though it is expected she will return for the NAB League Girls’ final clash. Danielle Marshall hit the scoreboard last week, while the return of Nell Morris-Dalton and Eleanor Brown to complement the side was important. Last time they were under lights the Dogs had a shocker against the Magpies, but expect them to be much better here against the Saints in what should be a thrilling contest.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 24 @ 10:00am
ETU Stadium

The top of the table Port Melbourne host Casey Demons in an early Saturday morning clash. The Borough saw off their greatest challenge to-date last week, overcoming Carlton from several goals down to remain undefeated from seven matches. The Demons, led by Imogen Milford who slammed home six majors, were too strong for Hawthorn despite the Hawks’ best efforts at Box Hill. If the Demons can continue that form – with more AFL Women’s players available – expect them to really give the ladder leaders a run for their money. Only Port and Collingwood have scored more than the Demons this season, which makes them a potent attack led by Milford (12 goals), while Niamh McEvoy (five) and Brenna Tarrant (five from Round 1) all damaging. Eliza West is the in-form midfielder, having collected more touches than any other player this season at an average of 22.3 disposals, as well as 4.3 tackles. Being able to hit the scoreboard with four majors makes her a threat forward of centre, and the Borough will need to be aware of that, whether it is the likes of Philippa Peschke or Mel Kuys who might be opposed to her. Sophie Locke is second on the goalkicking charts but has been recovering from injury, whilst Emily Harley (five goals) and Cleo Saxon-Jones (four) have been hitting the scoreboard in less games, while Sabrina Frederick has scored two majors in each of her matches thus far. The Borough should be favourites at home, but the Demons have enough talent to bring in that could worry the ladder leaders.

DAREBIN vs. GEELONG
Saturday, April 24 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Back-to-back home games for Darebin Falcons gives the standalone side a chance to jump off the bottom of the table with a win in this contest. The Falcons knocked off North Melbourne a fortnight ago, but felt the pinch of a Dogs side that recalled a number of AFL Women’s talents in Round 7. They have to find a way to knock off a red-hot Cats outfit that will have similar AFL Women’s numbers to the Dogs last week, with most of those players being able to hit the scoreboard. Geelong has only lost to the top two sides, and has won their past three matches to sit fourth overall, percentage behind Essendon. with Casey Demons not too far behind, the visitors cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly. Olivia Barber is a goal-scoring threat when in the side having kicked six goals in just two games, whilst regulars, Claudia Gunjaca (five), Stephanie Williams (five) and Georgia Clarke (four) can also do damage. Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Carly Remmos will be the future of the AFL Women’s side and are teaming up well through the VFLW midfield, while Tamara Smith leads all-comers with tackles, and Paige Sheppard is one of the most prominent ball-winners in the league. Nicole Callinan is the one to stop for the Falcons, averaging 23 disposals, six marks and 5.5 tackles working hard in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to try and drive her team forward. The Bulldogs premiership player has been a welcome addition to the side, with Sidney Cubasch returning last week and likely to assert herself in the ruck, Samara David impressed around the ground having also kicked the five goals this season, while Stephanie Simpson might not have hit the scoreboard last week against a strong Bulldogs defence, but slotted four the previous week. The Falcons will leapfrog Hawthorn – if the Hawks lose on Sunday – but it will be a very tough ask with Geelong in ripping form and expect the Cats to continue that form in Round 8.

HAWTHORN vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Sunday, April 25 @ 10:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Two of the bottom three clash in what could be one of the closest matches of the round. Hawthorn has been pretty impressive this season and arguably undeserving of eleventh on the ladder. They pushed the Demons last week and can leapfrog the Seagulls here with a win, having averaged more points than their opponents, but also having conceded a lot more as well. Each week Bec Goddard manages to bring in AFL Women’s talent, as Georgia Bevan, Kristy Stratton, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch have all swapped their colours to return to their roots of the brown and gold, or with the ties to Goddard. Whilst not having massive ball-winners, the Hawks have been able to develop some young talent through the list, such as renowned tackler Dominique Carbone, and a plethora of Eastern Ranges players such as Isabelle Khoury, Matilda Hardy and Eloise Chaston. Jesse Williams is the danger up forward, and with Stratton in for her second game in the brown and gold, expect her to be a second prong of attack up there. Williamstown on the other hand do not have a reliable source of goals, though Aimee Whelan and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster have each snagged three majors. A total of 14 players have hit the scoreboard in the 2021 season, including prominent ball-winners Ruby Tripodi and Megan Williamson, while Erin Meade continues to provide great run out of defence, and will hope the Seagulls can propel themselves to their third win. With the extra experience coming into the brown and gold though, the Hawks should get up at home.

ESSENDON vs. COLLINGWOOD
Sunday, April 25 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

The traditional Anzac Day rivals will clash at The Hangar before fans head south to the MCG for the AFL men’s edition, with the VFL Women’s clash to provide just as much intensity between the clubs. A potential finals preview looms with the second placed Pies still unbeaten from seven games, coming up against the third placed Bombers who are 5-2 from their season, and building some great form in the middle of the season. The Bombers have been without their spiritual leader for the last game and a half with Georgia Nanscawen on the sidelines. She averaged 23 disposals and 10.2 tackles in her six games, to be a barometer in the side. Alana Barba and Courtney Ugle have stepped up in her absence, while Federica Frew (eight goals) and Natalie MacDonald (five) have been important up forward with Mia-Rae Clifford (eight). With the NAB League Girls returning this week, expect the Bombers to be without a couple of key youngsters in Zali Friswell and Kasey Lennox, though Elizabeth Snell and soon-to-be Jemma Finning have just the one game remaining in Pioneers colours. The Magpies have been ticking along nicely and now will be able to heavily rotate their AFL Women’s talent if they choose to do so, with the likes of Bella Smith (eight goals in four games), Amelia Velardo in defence and Abbi Moloney (two in three) among those running around in the side. Imogen Barnett has been the standout VFLW-listed Pie with eight goals in six games, while Caitlin Bunker (16.3 disposals, 6.6 tackles) and Matilda Zander (14.3 disposals, 4.1 tackles) are others who have stood out.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 25 @ 12:00pm
Arden Street

The later Anzac Day clash is between another couple of AFLW-aligned clubs in North Melbourne and Carlton. The Roos have enjoyed playing a string of games at Arden Street this season, and whilst they have only won the two games from seven matches, have been steadfast in developing their VFLW-listed talents rather than pouring in AFLW-listed players just for the points. The Blues have been fairly similar, though they were able to bring in some players in recent weeks such as Maddy Guerin, who has been a cut above at the level, averaging 21.7 disposals, 3.3 marks and 7.0 tackles from her three games. Jennifer Lew has been an impressive VFLW-listed Blue with 18.5 disposals, 5.3 marks and 4.3 tackles, whilst Courtney Jones has slotted eight goals in five games, and Akayla Peterson has been utilised at both ends of the field for five goals in seven games. Throw in Serena Gibbs (three in four) who has been supporting Jorja Borg in the ruck, and the form of Winnie Laing this season, and the Blues have a solid team across the board. North Melbourne on the other hand, have had some really consistent ball-winners, but just not enough consistent games to put together wins. Brooke Brown has been sensational up forward with eight goals in four games, while ex-Sun Alexia Hamilton, and Tasmanian Sarah Skinner have both been enjoying outstanding seasons in the blue and white. Meagan Kiely and Molly Eastman both average 20.4 disposals and more than four tackles per game to share the load with Skinner, while Airlie Runnalls and Katelyn Cox are other consistent ball-winning talents. Carlton arguably have the upper hand after pushing Port Melbourne last week, though the development of the Roos will hold them in good stead for the future.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 7

A HEAP of young prospects are now filtering through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 7 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side and a few players make their debuts. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 7

Collingwood maintained its unbeaten streak with a win over the Southern Saints on Saturday morning, with Eastern Ranges standout Olivia Meagher enjoying an extended run in the side. She had 11 disposals, laid three tackles and picked up votes for the Magpies in their seventh win. For the Saints, Gabby De Angelis notched 12 touches, while fellow pathway graduates Amelia Peck and Grace Hodder each found the ball nine times.

Essendon boasted a host of current and former Calder Cannons products in its win over Williamstown, with the young brigade making a real impact. Zali Friswell booted two goals to feature among the Bombers’ votes with Kasey Lennox, as former Cannons Alana Barba (11 disposals) and Grace Dicker (10) also fared well.

Meanwhile, country coup Eloise Ashley-Cooper racked up a team-high 17 disposals, while current Bendigo Pioneers standout Elizabeth Snell laid 10 tackles in the sash. For Williamstown, Ruby Tripodi was again superb as she found the ball 20 times, but could only manage two behinds among them. Megan Williamson had it 16 times, booting a goal and laying nine tackles to feature among the Seagulls’ votes.

Casey and Hawthorn treated fans to a relatively high-scoring spectacle, with the Demons coming out on top and the Hawks continuing to blood exciting youth. The Eastern Ranges representation was high in brown and gold, as Ruby O’Dwyer (12 disposals, four tackles), Isabelle Khoury (11 disposals, seven tackles, one goal), Eloise Chaston (six disposals, five tackles), and Tilly Hardy (five disposals, four tackles) all continue to acclimatise to the level alongside graduate, while Jenna Richardson (eight disposals) also impressed.

Emma Horne was arguably Melbourne’s pick of the NAB League products, notching nine disposals and finishing with four tackles. Versatile tall Bridie Winbanks managed two disposals and eight hitouts, as 19-year-old former Dandenong Stingray, Harmony Thomas also ran out for the Demons.

Geelong’s top four charge rages on, as the Cats kept North Melbourne at bay in Sunday’s opening bout. Paige Sheppard was again terrific in the hoops, racking up 22 disposals to go with seven tackles and four marks. Tamara Smith had it 14 times and got her hands dirty with eight tackles, as current Geelong Falcons guns Annie Lee and Renee Tierney returned to the fold. Ciara Fitzgerald had 10 touches for North, while 20-year-old Tasmanian Camilla Taylor collected seven on debut.

The Western Bulldogs returned to the winners list with an emphatic victory over Darebin Falcons, with a continued injection of youth and AFLW-listed players aiding their cause. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods had a memorable debut with three goals, running out for the first time alongside Stephanie Asciak. GWV’s Lilli Condon celebrated her first win at the level with 11 disposals and five tackles, as Brooke Hards and Molly Denahy Moloney continued their runs in the side. For Darebin, youth product and Calder ruck Peppa Poultney entered the fray with 10 disposals and a couple of marks.

The final game of the round saw Port Melbourne come from behind to edge Carlton on home turf, seeing the Borough remain top of the table. Recently delisted Richmond AFLW tall, Cleo Saxon-Jones finished with 11 kicks among her 12 disposals, as former Carlton utility Bridie Kennedy had 10 touches, and current Oakleigh forward Taylah Morton matched that output, but could not quite snare her maiden goal.

For Carlton, Northern Knights graduate Marnie Jarvis collected 12 touches and laid four tackles, as Amber Micallef had it a handful of times and Murray Bushrangers standout Kate Adams came in for her fifth game – ending with three disposals for the third game running.

2021 VFLW Round 7 preview: Dogs and Darebin eye off second win in bottom two clash

A BOTTOM two clash between Western Bulldogs and Darebin Falcons will see the winner escape the bottom of the table, whilst the Southern Saints and Collingwood clash for a second time and are set to have a beauty of a contest.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, April 17 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Despite Collingwood joining the rest of the Victorian-based AFL Women’s teams in being eliminated from the finals series, the Magpies have resisted massive changes to the state league side, with Bella Smith and Joanna Lin among those included in the forward half, with other existing AFL Women’s players including Maddie Shevlin, Abbey Green, Amelia Velardo, Imogen Purcell and Abbi Moloney in the team. They currently sit undefeated at the top of the table, with a tough clash down at Trevor Barker Beach Oval against the Southern Saints. Dandenong Stingrays tall Zoe Hill is set to make her debut for the side, alongside the likes of other teenagers in Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis who have established themselves in the side. Molly McDonald is a huge inclusion for the Saints at half-back to create some run, and with Tara Bohanna and Gabriella De Angelis up forward, the home team certainly has the capacity to inflict the Magpies’ first loss of the season. Eastern Ranges youngster Olivia Meagher is among the ones to watch in the black and white, as the Magpies eye off making it seven straight wins.

ESSENDON vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

One of the teams looking to keep in touch with the top two sides is Essendon, after the Bombers came from behind to defeat Hawthorn last week at Box Hill. They managed to do it without star midfielder Georgia Nanscawen who succumbed to injury early in the match, and they will need to do it again without her, relying on the likes of Alana Barba, Courtney Ugle and Eloise Ashley-Cooper in the midfield. Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell returns to the red and black in a five-day turnaround from a successful outing for Vic Country, with Calder Cannons duo Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell remaining in the side. Williamstown stand between Essendon and the Bombers’ fifth win, with the Seagulls not far off the top six despite having just the two wins from six games. The midfield trio of Ashlea Melnikas, Megan Williamson and Aimee Whelan will be hard to beat, with Scarlett Dunnell up forward and Erin Meade in defence among the others to keep an eye out for in the blue and gold. Even without Nanscawen, Essendon will be favoured to get up here at home, but the Seagulls will give them a run for their money.

HAWTHORN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Speaking of Hawthorn at Box Hill, the brown and gold are back again, this time hosting a Casey Demons side looking to bounce back having lost their past two games to the Magpies and Cats. The home team was able to include some AFL Women’s talent last week with the entire half-back line having that experience in Georgia Bevan, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch. However perhaps the most interesting inclusion is former Magpie Kristy Stratton who has been named on the bench after playing for the undefeated Pies throughout the season. Much like Luke and von Bertouch, she has moved to the Bec Goddard-coached Hawks. Up the other end, Meg Hutchins has been a terrific leader with some youngsters inside 50, such as Eastern Ranges’ co-captain Eloise Chaston who kicked the only goal for her side last week. Matilda Hardy is back into the team with Isabelle Khoury and Ruby O’Dwyer some Ranges to hold their places, while Northern Territory talent Dominique Carbone is another one to watch for the home team. For the Demons, Maggie Caris, Megan Fitzsimon, Mietta Kendall and Isabella Simmons are among the future of the red and blue having been picked up in last year’s draft, whilst Emma Humphries‘ experience is crucial, much like defender Alison Brown in the back 50. Casey should be too strong, but the Hawks will give it a red hot crack at home.

GEELONG vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, April 18 @ 11:30am
Queens Park

Some Vic Country youngsters will return for the Cats as they field their strongest side to-date in the Round 7 encounter against North Melbourne. The Cats will be keen to keep in touch with the top two, and should do so against a Kangaroos side that is 2-4 and coming off a loss to the previously winless Darebin Falcons. Annie Lee and Renee Tierney return to the Cats’ VFL Women’s side after playing on Monday, with the side well stacked with AFL Women’s talent. Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Sophie Van De Heuvel in the midfield is the future AFL Women’s midfield, whilst Georgia Clarke, Olivia Barber and Stephanie Williams in attack makes the Cats a potent team when in transition. The Kangaroos remain without a great deal of AFL Women’s talent, instead focusing on the development aspect of the side with Amy Smith and Brooke Brown a couple of listed players in attack, while Sarah Skinner is always a threat inside 50. Molly Eastman and Tarni Nestor will try and contain the Cats’ forward line, while Katelyn Cox will have a great battle with Moloney and Gardiner throughout the day. Geelong should take the match fairly comfortably being at home with a pretty impressive outfit.

DAREBIN vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, April 18 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

A potential match of the round at the other end of the ladder is the one between Darebin Falcons and Western Bulldogs, with both sides sitting at 1-5 for the season. A loss here will really hurt finals hopes, whilst a win keeps the victor in the hunt if they can build momentum in the second half of the season. Coming off a four-goal haul to help her side over the line, Stephanie Simpson will be looking for much of the same for the Falcons. It will be a tough ask against the strongest looking Bulldogs defence all year, with AFL Women’s talents, Eleanor Brown and Isabella Grant, the consistent rock in Simone Ruedin, speedy teenager Brooke Hards and natural ball-winner Katelyn Betts, both of the latter whom have moved into new roles of late. Up the other end, Nell Morris-Dalton has returned to the fold, with Gemma Lagioia and Amelia van Oosterwijck also there, and Isabelle Pritchard rounding out the AFL Women’s contingent. For the Falcons, ex-Bulldog Nicole Callinan was impressive in her first game back and will be a key player in the defence alongside consistent defender Gena Lawson-Tavan. Up the other end, Alyssa Mifsud kicked three goals a couple of rounds back, so between her and Simpson, they have the potential to put some high scores on the board, while Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is another youngster in the side. The Western Bulldogs side is arguably the strongest of the year and should take care of Darebin, but the Dogs cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 18 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Port Melbourne will look to continue its winning streak up against Carlton at ETU Stadium, with Cleo Saxon-Jones named at full-back this week. Up the opposite end is Sabrina Frederick who slotted two goals on debut against Western Bulldogs last week, and will look to provide the smalls of NAB League-listed talents Kate Adams and Taylah Morton in there, whilst Mel Kuys through the midfield is a crucial player. Ex-Carlton talent Bridie Kennedy is back into the side to take on her former team, while Pip Peschke and Courteney Bromage are other key midfielders to watch. Carlton has got a solid contingent of AFL Women’s talent in the team, with Serena Gibbs, Courtney Jones and Winnie Laing all named inside 50, while Charlotte Hammans and Maddy Guerin are up the other end. Akayla Peterson has been named in the back pocket in the opposite side to Ally Bild in a strong last line, while over-age talent Amber Micallef and ex-Northern Knights speedster Marnie Jarvis are also in the side, named on the bench. Port Melbourne should have too much about them at home, but the Borough will be wary of a Blues outfit wanting to lift their efforts from last round when they went goalless against the Magpies at Victoria Park.

Reserves wrap: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 5

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s returned for Round 4 on the weekend, with another six enthralling fixtures spread over Saturday and Sunday. As the season runs concurrently alongside that of the AFLW, top-flight players from Victorian clubs who miss out on senior action will be able to run out for what are effectively reserve sides in the VFLW. Round 5 saw promising elite level talent scattered across the eight aligned teams, as some players stake their claims for call-ups ahead of finals.

>> Results: VFLW Round 5 wrap

Competition for spots at Collingwood and Melbourne will continue to be tight heading into finals, after the Magpies and Casey went to battle on Saturday morning. Kristy Stratton was the standout across both sides, booting three goals in black and white after her standalone senior game last week. Meanwhile, Abbey Green marked her maiden 2021 outing with a goal. For Casey, promising ruck Maggie Caris joined Niamh McEvoy in the votes, as first year midfielder Megan Fitzsimon had one of her best performances at any level in the red and blue.

The Southern Saints celebrated a big win over Darebin on the same morning, with a couple of recently delisted Saints among the victors’ best players. Utility Tamara Luke booted a goal and earned votes for her performance, while Nadia von Bertouch continued her solid run in the twos. Both players managed five senior games in 2021.

Carlton’s newfound form yielded another set of points on Saturday afternoon, as the Blues downed Hawthorn at Princes Park. A trio of Carlton goalkickers found the big sticks, with Courtney Jones booting four majors ahead of raw talls Serena Gibbs (two) and Paige Trudgeon (one). 2020 draftee Winnie Laing also got another run in navy blue.

Two sides with some of the most promising young talent around went to battle, as Geelong comprehensively defeated the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval. Youngsters Annabel Strahan and Isabella Grant were named among the Bulldogs’ best behind Bailey Hunt, as Danielle Marshall marked her return from injury. For the Cats, Stephanie Williams was lively with two goals as the likes of Georgia Clarke and Maddie Boyd also got more game time under their belts.

Port Melbourne’s perfect run to start 2021 raged on with an 11-point win over Essendon, kicking off Sunday’s proceedings. Richmond-listed key forwards Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones were both named among the Borough’s best players and booted two goals apiece to combine for four of their side’s six majors.

The round’s final game saw North Melbourne edge standalone side Williamstown at Arden Street, with Tahni Nestor featuring in the Roos’ votes. After managing a stretch of three senior games in 2021, she is one pushing to break back into the top flight as North storms into the postseason.  

Image Credit: Jonathan Di Maggio/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 5 wrap: Pies and Borough continue runs

IN Round 5 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, Carlton, Southern Saints and North Melbourne both grabbed their second wins, Collingwood and Port Melbourne extended their lead at the top of the table, as Geelong kept its opposition goalless in an impressive win on the road.

COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 | 8.4 (52)
CASEY DEMONS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.5 | 3.6 (24)

Collingwood maintained its perfect start to the VFL Women’s season with a 28-point victory over fellow strong starters Casey Demons at Victoria Park on Saturday. The Magpies got on the board in the opening term with a couple of goals and manage to restrict their opponents to just the one major by half-time. A further four goals to one in the second half meant the home team left happy, kicking 8.4 to 3.6 from only three more scoring shots for a comfortable victory.

Kristy Stratton slotted three majors in the win and was clearly a standout in the forward half of the ground. Tenacious mid/forward Matilda Zander, as well as Jasmine Ferguson, Tricia Cowan and Sarah King were also impressive in the victory. For the Demons, Imogen Milford did all she could with three goals of her own up forward, the only goalkicker in the red and blue. Young gun ruck Maggie Caris impressed, while ex-Pie Nicole Hales, and Samantha Johnson were also among the Demons’ best in the loss.

GOALS:

Collingwood: K. Stratton 3, G. Ricardo, I. Barnett, C. Bunker, A. Green, J. Guy.
Casey: I. Milford 3.

BEST:

Collingwood: M. Zander, K. Stratton, J. Ferguson, T. Cowan, S. King, D. Hallett
Casey: I. Milford, N. Hales, S. Johnson, M. Caris, S. Fairchild, N. McEvoy

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.3 | 3.8 | 6.12 | 9.13 (67)
DAREBIN 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Southern Saints snapped a three-game losing streak in the best possible fashion, dominating the winless Darebin Falcons by 10 goals. The Saints only conceded one goal and two scoring shots for the entire match, including holding the Falcons scoreless in the second half. Up their own end, the home team shook off some inaccuracy concerns, booting 9.13 (67) to take home the points comfortably – including a six-goal second half – by an even 60 points.

Tara Bohanna and Tenaya Sooalo both slotted two majors each for the winners, while Tayla Kearns was named best on ground in the victory. Tamara Luke, Deanna Jolliffe and Madi Capsalis were also among the best, as was ex-Eastern Ranges talent, Gabbi De Angelis. Sabine Cowley Du Parquet was the sole goalkicker for the Falcons and was among the best players alongside Gena Lawson-Tavan, Alyssa Mifsud and Victoria Blackwood.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 2, T. Sooalo 2, V. Moreau, G. De Angelis, M. Capsalis, G. Hodder, K. Ripari.
Darebin: S. Cowley du Parquet.

BEST:

Southern Saints: T. Kearns, T. Luke, D. Jolliffe, M. Capsalis, T. Bohanna, G. De Angelis
Darebin: G. Lawson-Tavan, S. Cowley du Parquet, A. Mifsud, V. Blackwood, A. Caddy, S. Lynch

CARLTON 3.4 | 4.7 | 9.10 | 9.11 (65)
HAWTHORN 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 5.5 (35)

Carlton had its most impressive performance of the year, shutting the lights out against Hawthorn in the first three quarters to win its second match of the year by five goals. The Blues piled on five goals in the third term to stretch its lead out to as much as 54 points at the main break. While the Hawks were admirable in the last quarter, slotting four goals to just one behind to cut the deficit back to 30, the damage was done prior to that, and the Blues got up, 9.11 (65) to 5.5 (35).

AFL Women’s listed Blues Courtney Jones (four goals) and Serena Gibbs (two) both looked impressive up forward and were amongst the standouts, while Ally Bild, Olivia Madden, Teresa Zampaglione and Bryannen Gull were also named in Carlton’s best. For the Hawks, Katie Angelis kicked two majors and tried to inspire the brown and gold, while Jessie Williams and Tayah Kelly also hit the scoreboard and were amongst the best. Nicole Cormack and Catherine Brown were others who drew praise from the coaches despite the loss.

GOALS:

Carlton: C. Jones 4, S. Gibbs 2, M. Wilson, P. Trudgeon, S. Lawrence.
Hawthorn: K. Angelis 2, T. Kelly, J. Williams, A. Malander.

BEST:

Carlton: A. Bild, O. Madden, C. Jones, T. Zampaglione, B. Gurr, S. Gibbs
Hawthorn: K. Angelis, N. Cormack , C. Brown, J. Williams, T. Kelly, J. Richardson

WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.4 | 0.4 | 0.5 | 0.6 (6)
GEELONG CATS 1.0 | 2.4 | 4.6 | 5.10 (40)

Geelong reaffirmed its status as a strong defensive side, keeping its opponent Western Bulldogs to just six points in fairly good conditions at Whitten Oval. The Bulldogs’ woes in front of goal continued for yet another week, having plenty of chances early and not capitalising, and then losing the momentum. Geelong booted a goal in each quarter and two in the third quarter to maintain a distance between them and their opponents, and then things went from bad to worse for the home team as no less than three Dogs were helped off in the last 30 minutes of the match, leaving rotations restricted and some a little sore during the 5.10 (40) to 0.6 (6) defeat.

Stephanie Williams was a livewire up forward for the Cats, slotting two goals and threatening to kick quite a few more, while Paige Sheppard had a day out through the midfield. Olivia Fuller, Teresia Meissner and Tahlia Tatlock were also among the best in the blue hoops, while Claudia Gunjaca kicked a goal and was also in the bests. Bailey Hunt, Katelyn Betts and Isabella Grant never stopped trying for the Dogs, with Annabel Strahan and Eliza Vale also trying to provide run and carry for the home team, and captain Riley Christgoergl putting her body on the line in the contest.

GOALS:

Bulldogs: Nil.
Geelong: S. Williams 2, N. French, P. Sheppard, C. Gunjaca

BEST:

Bulldogs: B. Hunt, A. Strahan, K. Betts, I. Grant, R. Christgoergl, E. Vale
Geelong: P. Sheppard, O. Fuller, T. Meissner, C. Gunjaca, T. Tatlock, S. Williams

ESSENDON 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.3 (27)
PORT MELBOURNE 3.0 | 5.1 | 6.2 | 6.2 (38)

Port Melbourne’s unbeaten start to the season rolled on in Round 5 with a well-fought 11-point victory over Essendon at The Hangar. The Bombers came into the clash with a 3-1 record themselves, but from the start it was clear the Borough were up for a fight. The visitors booted five goals to two in the opening half to open up a handy 18-point advantage, and whilst Essendon restricted the opposition to 1.1 in the second half, could only convert the 2.2 themselves, and ultimately cut down the final score which was in favour of Port Melbourne, to 6.2 (38) to 4.3 (27).

Richmond-listed key forwards, Cleo Saxon-Jones and Emily Harley both slotted two goals apiece, while Kate Adams returned from another match at NAB League Girls level to kick a major herself. Pip Peschke, Sarah McNamara and Courteney Bromage were all amongst the best, as was Claire Dyett (one goal) and the multiple goalkickers. Another ex-Murray Bushrangers talent in Eloise Ashley-Cooper was named best on ground for Essendon in the loss, as Courtney Ugle, Alana Barba and Alexandra Morcom were also impressive, while Federica Flew snagged two goals in defeat.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 2, A. Barba, F. Theodore.
Port Melbourne: C. Saxon-Jones 2, E. Harley 2, K. Adams, C. Dyett.

BEST:

Essendon: E. Ashley-Cooper, C. Ugle, A. Barba, A. Morcom, F. Frew, G. Nanscawen
Port Melbourne: P. Peschke, S. McNamara, E. Harley, C. Dyett, C. Bromage, C. Saxon-Jones

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 1.3 | 3.6 | 4.6 (30)
WILLIAMSTOWN 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 4.2 (26)

In a battle of two sides outside the eight, North Melbourne picked up its second win with a four-point victory over Williamstown, joining the Seagulls on two wins from five games. The Kangaroos only managed one goal in the first half and trailed by 10 points at the main break, but the second half worries for the Seagulls returned with the Kangaroos running over the top of them at Arden Street, booting 3.3 to 1.1 in the second half to win, 4.6 (30) to 4.2 (26).

Meagan Kiely and Jess Mourney impressed and were among four individual goalkickers for the Roos, with Sarah Skinner and Laura Wright also adding their names to the goalkickers list. Alexia Hamilton was named best-on for her performance, while Reni Hicks and Molly Eastman stood strong as well. Aimee Whelan kicked a goal and was named best-on for the Towners, while Olivia Purcell, Lana King and Scarlett Dunnell were among the best in the unfortunate tight loss.

GOALS:

North: S. Skinner, M. Kiely, L. Wright, J. Mourney.
Williamstown: A. Price, A. Whelan, S. Georgas, B. Hanrahan.

BEST:

North: A. Hamilton, M. Kiely, R. Hicks, J. Mourney, M. Eastman, T. Nestor
Williamstown: A. Whelan, L. King, O. Purcell, S. Dunell, E. Baxter, B. Hanrahan

2021 VFLW Round 5 preview: Two top four clashes highlight round

ROUND 5 of the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) will play host to a number of action packed clashes as Collingwood and Port Melbourne look to maintain their undefeated status. The competition is only getting started with sides still trying to finalise their most potent line-ups and looking to solidify their standings in the competition.

Collingwood vs. Casey Demons
Saturday, March 27 @10:00am

The Magpies and Casey Demons are set to lock horns in what is set to be an enthralling contest between the two top four teams. Collingwood are yet to drop a game while the Demons have only lost the one and that was back in Round 2. Since then, Casey have really ironed out the creases and managed to apply a wealth of scoreboard pressure. Playing a similar style to the Pies expect both sides to attack the coalface hard and look to extract the ball quickly to give their forwards the best chance to score.

Maddy Shevlin has been a star for the Pies but is a key out this week while Amelia Velardo and Matilda Zander have plied their trade for the black and white constantly backing up their efforts across the ground. At their spiritual home ground expect the Pies to come out firing and to have their kicking boots on after an inaccurate showing last round. For the Demons, Tahlia Fellows has proven to be a key cog in the side but will also miss this round, while Chantel Emonson and Bridie Winbanks are key inclusions for the Dees.

Southern Saints vs. Darebin Falcons
Saturday, March 27 @10:00am

It has not been a great start for either side, but a win here could really change their outlook for the remainder of the season. Darebin sit winless from four games while the Saints have mustered up just the one win but sit seventh on the ladder. The tussle between the two sides will be tantalising to say the least as they look to claim some type of ascendancy and build the foundation for a strong middle part of the season. Typically low scoring sides it will come down to which side is able to create enough opportunities to push forward and convert.

The defensive unit for the Falcons will have their work cut out for them up but will be glad they are not going up against the likes of livewire Renee Saulitis who managed a major last round despite the loss. Other key figures for the Saints consistent of Alexandra Hynes and Madi Capsalis who both impressed last week and will be looking to bring that same level of heat and intensity. Unable to hit the scoreboard last round, the Falcons will be hoping that Steph Simpson and Sally Lynch can find their kicking boots while Kathleen Roe has proven to be a key ball winner for Darebin.

Western Bulldogs vs. Geelong
Saturday, March 27 @2:00pm

The Western Bulldogs will host Geelong at Whitten Oval on Saturday in search of their second win of the season. The Cats currently hold higher ladder positioning clinching fifth spot, and a win here could see them jump up the ladder while a loss could add to the ever growing midtable logjam.

Geelong fell short last week despite the best efforts of Michelle Fedele who booted two goals and they will once again be hoping for Fidele to steer the ship in front of goal. Both Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard are likely to cause headaches with the young duo able to win their fair share of ball for the Cats. On the other hand the Dogs have a number of key figures that will be eager to get amongst the action such as the senior-listed Bailey Hunt. Captain Riley Christgoergl is another one to keep an eye out for the Dogs as the ever developing Amelia van Oosterwijck and Annabel Strahan.

Carlton vs. Hawthorn
Saturday, March 27 @2:00pm

The Blues are coming off a narrow eight point win last round, while the Hawks suffered their third loss of the season making for an interesting matchup. Carlton will be playing with a wealth of confidence and looking to use their silky ball movement to put Hawthorn on the back foot in the opening stages of the game. A win here for Carlton could push them into the top six and really help them build some ascendancy.

Veteran Meg Hutchins is a lynchpin for the Hawks no matter where she plays but will miss out this week, meaning the midfiel will need support from the likes of Northern Territory product Dominique Carbone, Lauren Szigeti and Catherine Brown if they are any chance to topple the Blues on Saturday afternoon. For Carlton, youngster Winnie Laing only continues to get better with time, learning off the likes of Serena Gibbs, Maddy Guerin and star recruit Akayla Peterson.

Essendon vs. Port Melbourne
Sunday, March 28 @10:30am

Claiming their third straight win last round the Bombers will be riding a wave of momentum but that could quickly come to an end with their clash on Sunday against the undefeated Port Melbourne side. The Borough are full steam ahead, playing with class and conviction meaning Essendon will have their work cut out for them if they are to upset the apple cart and continue their winning ways.

The Bombers have a strong contingent of youngsters across the ground with Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore proving to be a consistent pair able to burrow in and commit to the hard yards. Georgia Nanscawen is a real game changer for Essendon and will be looking to be at her damaging best coming off a stellar Round 4 performance while Mia-Rae Clifford is also an excitement machine for the red and black. The Borough have no shortage of playmakers with Sophie Locke quickly making a name for herself alongside Cleo Saxon-Jones, though will need to make do without Locke this round. Other contributors that the Bombers will have to be wary of are Phoebe Monahan, Emily Harley and Sarah McNamara who has proven handy in front of the big sticks in recent weeks.

North Melbourne vs. Williamstown
Sunday, March 28 @12:00pm

The final game of the round sees North Melbourne take on Williamstown with the latter looking for their third win of the season. It has been a trying campaign for North Melbourne who have only secured the one win so far but will be chomping at the bit to alter that outcome with a victory over their higher placed opponents. Williamstown come into the clash off a solid win against the Doggies, so expect them to use that momentum to apply some early scoreboard pressure.

The Seagulls have a good spread of players capable of stepping up to the plate and plying their trade with Ruby Tripodi one of those key figures. Erin Meade is another consistent figure for Williamstown while Sofi Georgas is coming in off a strong performance last round. For the Kangaroos Brooke Brown is a real livewire able to navigate her way around the goals and most importantly convert those opportunities while Alexia Hamilton and Ciara Fitzgerald are also viable options.