Tag: daisy bateman

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 1 – Bottom-age All-Australian shines in South Australia

IN a new weekly piece, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 2, focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

ONES TO WATCH:

Millie Brown (Geelong)

A seemingly ready-made player entering the elite system, Brown showed exactly why she was thrown into the team from the first match, picking up 18 disposals, three marks, four tackles and three rebounds in Geelong’s 19-point loss to Brisbane at GMHBA Stadium. While her side lost, Brown gave fans an indication of what to expect from the smooth moving tall who can play a variety of roles all across the ground. With a penetrating kick and an ability to intercept the ball at its highest point, Brown is a crucial cog in Geelong’s line-up.

Tarni White (St Kilda)

Simply sensational, the AFL Women’s All-Australian representative at 15-years-old showed the signs that she did prior to injury interruptions heading into her top-age year last season. The Queenslander began to build some nice form at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, and copped a knock in Round 1 which limited her influence. Back out on the park and looking strong, White had 18 disposals, 10 marks and five rebounds, causing all sorts of headaches for the opposition who struggled to contain the athlete with some terrific upside going forward.

Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne

The Western Bulldogs brought in a couple of extra young talents in second year player, Eleanor Brown and latest debutant, Amelia Van Oosterwijck to the fold against the Dees. While they might have just had the combined four disposals between them, they laid an impressive nine tackles, which really set the tone for the home side under lights. Continuing on from her strong Round 1 form, Gabby Newton picked up another 11 disposals and laid six tackles, while Gemma Lagioia (nine disposals, two inside 50s) moved the ball well. Elisabeth Georgostathis was the other young gun to play in the match, and similar to Brown and Van Oosterwijck had just four touches, but laid six tackles to no doubt impress the coaches with her defensive pressure. As cited in last week’s article, Melbourne do not have a lot of 21st century-born players, but Tyla Hanks (seven disposals, four tackles) and Shelley Heath (seven disposals, seven tackles) both played well in the Dees win at Whitten Oval.

North Melbourne vs. GWS

The Kangaroos managed to get on the board in season 2020 with a good win over GWS GIANTS, and second year player, Daisy Bateman again looked dangerous around goals. While she only had the four disposals and two tackles, she has plenty of implied pressure and provides an option at the feet of the talls. Neither of these teams have a lot of players who fall under the category for this piece, but Alyce Parker is one of the best ones going around. The uncompromising midfielder with the superb left boot ranked up 16 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds to be second best-on for her side.

Gold Coast vs. Richmond

It was a memorable day for the Gold Coast SUNS, picking up their first win in their AFL Women’s history by downing fellow inaugural side, Richmond. In contrast to the above game, these sides have plenty of youth running around and having an impact. Serene Watson looked impressive coming out of the back 50 with nine disposals, four tackles and two rebounds. The dual Under-18 All-Australian was one of a number of talents who stood out, along with Jacqui Yorsten (seven disposals, seven tackles and one goal), debutant and Queensland AFL Women’s Under-18 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Ellie Hampson (seven disposals, five tackles) and Dee Heslop (five disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s). Second year ruck, Lauren Bella is thriving as the number one ruck in the team, amassing 20 hitouts to win the ruck battle against multiple opponents. For the Tigers, Sarah Sansonetti showed just why she was highly sought after, with the Northern Knights’ premiership defender racking up 20 disposals, two tackles, one mark and one inside 50 to be the equal-second biggest ball winner on the ground. Kodi Jacques (13 disposals, four tackles, three marks and three inside 50s) was crucial in the midfield, working well with Sophie Molan (12 disposals, three marks, two tackles and one inside 50), Laura McClelland (10 disposals, four marks and two hitouts) and Maddy Brancatisano (eight disposals, two marks and three tackles).

West Coast vs. Fremantle

West Coast’s trio of young talent on the list continued to play big roles on the weekend despite the Eagles’ huge loss to their state-based rivals, Fremantle. Mikayla Bowen had nine touches and laid four tackles playing through midfield, while McKenzie Dowrick‘s work out of defence was strong, picking up seven disposals, five tackles and three rebounds, and even got forward booting her side’s first major of the contest. Sophie McDonald also stood tall in defence with four touches, two marks and two rebounds. Playing against an experienced ruck in Parris Laurie, Mim Strom still battled hard despite not winning the ruck battle, picking up eight touches, two marks, four tackles and 14 hitouts, while Roxanne Roux booted another two goals from four disposals and chipped in with five hitouts to win the Rising Star nomination for Round 2. On debut, Fremantle’s Bianca Webb had six touches and three tackles, as well as a mark and a rebound, while last week’s four-goal hero Sabreena Duffy had a quieter day out but still managed seven disposals, a mark and a goal.

Geelong vs. Brisbane

In a win on the road, the Lion cubs kept producing big when it counted, as a number of teenagers were able to stand up and play important roles in the win over the Cats. Lily Postlethwaite was crucial through midfield with seven disposals, six tackles and two inside 50s, as the Queensland Under 18s captain ran out with Isabel Dawes who had six disposals, four tackles and an inside 50 in the match. From the second year players, Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw provided a huge target up forward and assisted in the ruck, booting three goals and amassed eight disposals, three marks and seven hitouts on her way to a Rising Star nomination in the process. Nat Grider also played for the Lions, picking up four disposals, two marks and four tackles. For the Cats, Brown was the standout, but a number of second year players who are ineligible for the Rising Star award also impressed. Nina Morrison continues to build into the form she showed in her only game last season, picking up 18 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds with more midfield minutes than Round 1. Olivia Purcell would be leading the Cats’ best and fairest in the early stages, following up her 27-disposal effort from Round 1 with a 16-disposals, four-rebound and two-goal effort against the Lions. Rebecca Webster had the 13 touches, six marks and four inside 50s doing well through the middle, while Georgia Clarke, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Denby Taylor all had limited touches but were able to build into the match. Rene Caris stepped up as second ruck to Aasta O’Connor with four disposals two tackles, 13 hitouts and two rebounds.

Carlton vs. Collingwood

It might have been in a loss, but the pairing of Grace Egan and Madison Prespakis looks like one for the next decade. Egan was simply sensational in her second AFL Women’s game, picking up 18 disposals, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and two marks, constantly working hard around the ground. Prespakis was her usual self despite some heavy attention from the opposition, finishing with 17 disposals, three tackles, five inside 50s and a rebound. Lucy McEvoy had a solid game with 10 touches, three tackles and two inside 50s after her Rising Star nomination last week, while Charlotte Wilson also played managing six disposals, two marks and two tackles. For the Magpies, after a busy Round 1 match, Alana Porter had just the one touch and one mark, but showed some dash and dare with three tackles and two rebounds. Second year players, Jordyn Allen and Sarah Dargan both had 10 touches, with Allen playing her first game of the season. She also booted a first quarter goal to get her side going. The pick of the group was Lauren Butler who played her best AFL Women’s game through the back half, recording 17 disposals, six marks, three tackles, one inside 50 and one rebound, while Mikala Cann was also strong with 16 disposals, five marks and two tackles in the win.

Adelaide vs. St Kilda

Madison Newman lived out a popular childhood dream with the second-gamer kicking a match-winning goal late in the game. While the Crows kicked another one for good measure, it was Newman’s goal with scores level that broke the last quarter deadlock. She finished the game with an impressive 13 touches, four marks, two tackles and two inside 50s as well as that goal.  Also playing a role in the team as second year players were Danielle Ponter (10 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) and Nikki Gore (nine disposals, three marks, seven tackles and one rebound). For the losing side, White was the far and away standout this round, but it is not to discount last week’s Rising Star, Georgia Patrikios who picked up 18 disposals, five marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and a rebound by covering the ground well. Improving from her first game, Nicola Xenos looked at home for the Saints with 12 disposals, four marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and a rebound, while Molly McDonald had 11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and three rebounds working hard in the back half.

2020 AFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Expansion sides to face off as inaugural sides do battle under lights tonight

ROUND 2 of the AFL Women’s is sure to bring plenty of big clashes and ignite old rivalries with Collingwood and Carlton set to do battle on Sunday while Fremantle and West Coast will take place in their inaugural Western Derby.

Friday, February 14

Western Bulldogs v. Melbourne at Whitten Oval, 7:40pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

With one win on the board each expect a high intensity battle from the opening bounce in search of each teams’ respective second win. The Demons announced themselves to the rest of the competition last round, downing premiership favourites North Melbourne by two points and will be riding a wave of confidence heading into their Round 2 match-up. Similarly, the Dogs inflicted their fair share of pain on newcomers St Kilda with an impressive 25-point win. The Bulldogs were slick from the beginning, exploiting their oppositions’ inexperience and making them pay while the Dees fought hard to just get over the line and set up the makings of what could be a strong season.

After waiting 693 days the return of Daisy Pearce was exactly what the doctor ordered for Melbourne and their fans. The talented midfielder-turned-defender was right back in the mix, throwing her weight around and winning plenty of the pill around the contest, something that was sorely missed last season. Karen Paxman is as experienced as they come, able to sense the moment and have an impact while the likes of Elise O’Dea and Lily Mithen could prove a handful for the Dogs who lost a couple of key players during the off-season. Forward, Tegan Cunningham will be looking to have a big game after failing to trouble the scorers last round, only registering a point. But if Cunningham and Kate Hore get going the two could pose a dominant force inside forward 50, plus throw in the likes of Eden Zanker and the Dees have a lot to work with.

With Katie Brennan and Monique Conti both departing the kennel, the likes of Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb have taken their game to another level and will be hoping to have the same dominant impact as last round. Blackburn is a class act, able to read the play, apply strong tackles and consistently get involved while Hannah Scott has upped the ante. Number one draft pick Gabby Newton did not look out of place in Round 1 with her contested ball work and cleanliness, but will be keen to prove it was not a one-off with a strong showing against Melbourne. Up forward, Bonnie Toogood will have to deliver for the Dogs if they are to apply scoreboard pressure and get over the line.

Tip: Melbourne by 15.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 E.Gamble 14 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 D.Marshall 26 N.Callinan 10 H.Scott 22 A.Van Oosterwijck 28
Emerg: N.Morris-Dalton 25 H.Munyard 20

In: E.Brown, A.Van Oosterwijck
Out: I.Huntington (concussion), C.Moody (ankle)

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: S.Heath 30 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 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 C.Sherriff 18 N.McEvoy 17 A.Kemp 36 E.O’Dea 5
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 M.Guerin 22

In: N.McEvoy
Out: M.Guerin

Saturday, February 15 

North Melbourne v. GWS GIANTS at University of Tasmania Stadium, 3:10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

North Melbourne will be looking to make good on a shock Round 1 loss when it hosts the GWS GIANTS in Launceston. Premiership points may soon become a premium for Scott Gowans‘ side as it looks to top a tricky Conference A, and the pre-season premiership fancies will expect to pick up their first set in this clash. But the GIANTS are one of the few sides which can match the ‘Roos for experience throughout their squad, and already ground out a win against league newcomer, Gold Coast in an opening round thriller. While North’s home ground advantage paid dividends in its inaugural season, the GIANTS were already made to endure tough conditions last time out, which should put them in good stead to tackle the often-windy Launceston afternoons. Last year’s result – which swung convincingly to the way of the ‘Roos – will also be in the back of players’ minds, but North knows it cannot take anything for granted.

The debut of Lisa Steane looms as one of the stories of the weekend, with the 24-year-old teacher surprised mid-week with news of her inclusion while working. Steane’s replacement of Ellie Brush in the side is the only change for GWS, with its strong and experienced core remaining for what should be a tough test. The midfield combination of skipper Alicia Eva and young gun Alyce Parker will again look to lead from the engine room, and their work will be cut out for them given the depth and strength of North’s midfield. The Kangaroos have made two changes as Daria Bannister (collarbone) and Bethany Lynch come out of the side for Jas Grierson and local girl, Abbey Green, whose inclusion could free up Emma King to play a more permanent key forward role. It makes the North Melbourne forward line one to behold, with a couple of capable tall targets and the likes of Daisy Bateman and Katlyn Ashmore at their feet.

Given how deep the hosts’ talent runs through midfield and around the ground, they are rightly fancied to bounce back to more typical form. The ‘Roos should also take solace in the feats of reigning premier Adelaide, as the Crows overcame a surprise first round loss in 2019 to go undefeated throughout the rest of the season. While last week’s outcome should drive North Melbourne to better results, the pressure will be on given not many would expect GWS to trouble them a whole lot. Nonetheless, the Kangaroos should fare much better in this clash against a side which looks like battling for mid-conference status, so do not be surprised if a statement is made.

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Trend 21 E.Kearney – C 9 A.Riddell 7
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 K.Ashmore 10
F: E.King 60 D.Bateman 11
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 J.Bruton 35
I/C: E.King 4 S.Wright 17 J.Grierson 19 E.Gavalas 22 A.Green 26
Emerg: M.King 23 B.Lynch 20

In: J.Grierson, A.Green
Out: D.Bannister (collarbone), B.Lynch

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: R.Beeson 6 L.Stephenson 12 A.Lister 14
C: E.Bennetts 22 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: R.Privitelli 19 I.Nielsen 25
Foll: E.McKinnon 23 J.Dal Pos 7 A.Parker 3
I/C: Y.Bonner 27 L.Steane 20 J.Allan 39 A.Schmidt 11 B.Tully 36
Emerg: T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: L.Steane
Out: E.Brush (unavailable)

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points

Gold Coast v. Richmond at Metricon Stadium, 5:10pm AEDT

Taylah Melki

Two expansion teams are set to face off in an exciting clash at Metricon Stadium, the Suns’ first home game of the season. Both teams will be looking for their inaugural AFLW win, meaning there is plenty at stake for each side. The Suns were highly competitive over the weekend, narrowly edged out by the Giants by a mere one point while the Tigers simply had no answers for the rampaging Blues. Gold Coast went down in trying conditions with rain and wind impacting their ability to handle the ball cleanly and hit the scoreboard. On the other hand, Richmond were simply outclassed – unable to combat the torrential storm that was Carlton credit to their onslaught of pressure in the forward 50. But the girls in yellow and black know how to fight, not willing to be bullied across the field and will be hoping to assert themselves on a relatively young and inexperienced Gold Coast Suns outfit.

Richmond has a plethora of star power across the footy field, none bigger than captain Katie Brennan who has showcased her ability to turn a game on its head. Brennan will have to push up through the midfield, more to give players a chop out and provide added support despite her best work being done inside forward 50 with her leading patterns and strong hands. Full forward Sabrina Frederick could prove to be a handful for the Suns given her strength around the contest and ability to gobble up anything that comes her way while the nifty Monique Conti has shown she is all class with ball in hand, able to hit a target from a mile away. Phoebe Monahan was a ball magnet last round along with Christina Bernardi. The two will have to combine once again if they are to trouble the Suns.

Despite not being top-loaded in a-list class the Suns have a wealth of young up and coming stars that can do damage anywhere on the field. Youngsters in Serene Watson and Ellie Hampson offer plenty of excitement for the Suns’ line-up which could give them that upper hand thanks to their raw talent and unpredictability. Lauren Aherns led from the front last round, recording an equal team-high 15 touches running around ragged and burrowing in hard while Jamie Stanton was strong across the ground for the Suns. Captain Leah Kaslar will have her work cut out for her up against a strong Tigers side.

Tip: Richmond by 5.

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 S.Watson 14
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 C.Hammond 29
HF: P.Parker 1 K.Surman 26 L.Kaslar – C 11
F: E.Hampson 21 B.Perry 16
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 H.Dunn 24
I/C: J.Hewett 20 M.Ritson 12 S.Riley 8 D.Heslop 25 K.Howarth 23
Emerg: T.Thorn 15 T.Groves-Little 3

In: E.Hampson
Out: A.Hamilton

RICHMOND

B: R.Miller 15 G.Seymour 28
HB: S.Sansonetti 18 P.Monahan 2 A.Makur Chuot 34
C: K.Jacques 10 K.Brennan – C 3 H.Burchell 9
HF: S.Frederick 14 C.Wakefield 8 T.Stahl 24
F: L.McClelland 16 C.Bernardi 6
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 A.Woodward 13
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 S.Molan 1 M.Brancatisano 5 G.Campbell 43
Emerg: E.Wood 17 C.Fitzgerald 26

In: G.Campbell
Out: H.Whitford (injured)

West Coast Eagles v. Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium 7:10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The Western Derby is the pride of Western Australia and for the first time ever at AFL Women’s level, the two sides can continue the tradition. West Coast and Fremantle go head-to-head in a Saturday night blockbuster with both teams coming off varying form. Last week, West Coast looked strong up against Collingwood at Victoria Park, booting the first goal and holding the Magpies scoreless in the opening term, before Collingwood took control and ran away comfortable victors in the end. Fremantle on the other hand did finish the job, knocking over fellow finalist Geelong in Western Australia in an effort that saw youngster, Sabreena Duffy win Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the week with four of her side’s six goals in the win. Both in Conference B – the more competitive conference – every win is absolutely crucial and neither side will want to relent against its biggest rival.

West Coast is the new kid on the block and they showed last week that they will be competitive, it will just be for how long. Dana Hooker plays her former side this week and it will unlikely faze the star who booted the club’s inaugural – and in the end, only – goal last week with a clever snap out of the pack. She was simply sensational across the four quarters, while Emma Swanson was also impressive with the pair leading from the front as vice-captain and captain respectively. Mikayla Bowen brought her tackling pressure from the Under 18s up to the elite level, while Imahra Cameron showed she has a nice set of wheels to burst away from stoppages and cause headaches for the opposition. Add in the smooth skills of McKenzie Dowrick coming off half-back and the reliability of Chantella Perera and Talia Radan on the last line and the Eagles are strong defensively. The Eagles have made just the one change for the this game, with the club’s social media coordinator Kate Orme making her debut for the injured Ashton Hill.

The expansion side will need to be strong defensively against a forward line that has plenty of excitement and X-factor, including Roxanne Roux, who showed exactly why she was the first West Australian taken last year with her high leaping and booming kick. She is a franchise player at centre half-forward, and with fellow teenage talent Mim Strom, the Dockers have a couple of gems they can build a side around through the ruck and key forward spots. Also up forward is Duffy who was simply sensational, and Ebony Antonio, who with partner and captain Kara and tackling machine Kiara Bowers rotating inside 50, there is no shortage of scoring options. The Dockers have made two changes for the team in Round 2 with Leah Mascall and debutant Bianca Webb coming in for Steph Cain – who unfortunately did her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – and Mia-Rae Clifford. The question this season will be around the Dockers’ defence given the young rucks have already earned their stripes, but against an Eagles side still looking to gel, they should be able to contain their yellow and blue state-based rivals. In order to win they will want to shut down Hooker and restrict the flow forward while putting plenty of pressure on the opposition defence. Given many of the Eagles have come from the Dockers, the remaining Fremantle players would love nothing more than to get one-up on them early in the season and it will likely happen.

Tip: Fremantle by 35.

WEST COAST

B: C.Perera 27 T.Radan 26
HB: B.Smith 14 S.McDonald 35 M.Dowrick 5
C: M.Collier 8 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: A.Atkins 9 K.Gibson 2 M.Bowen 1
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 K.Orme 32
Emerg: E.Bonser 6 C.Davidson 33

In: K.Orme
Out: A.Hill (knee)

FREMANTLE

B: J.Cuthbertson 29 L.Pugh 32
HB: A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 L.Mascall 14
C: L.Rohde 11 H.Miller 19 J.Stewart 7
HF: E.Antonio 12 R.Roux 17 S.Duffy 6
F: G.O’Sullivan 22 G.Houghton 27
Foll: M.Strom 21 K.Bowers 2 K.Antonio – C 15
I/C: K.Flood 44 B.Webb 26 P.Seth 18 K.Grieve 13 A.Sharp 1
Emerg: E.O’Driscoll 3 M.Clifford 4

In: L.Mascall, B.Webb
Out: S.Cain (knee), M.Clifford

Sunday, February 16

Geelong Cats v. Brisbane Lions at GMHBA Stadium, 1:10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

This Conference A clash on Sunday looms as one of the more intriguing contests of the weekend. The teams head into the match with differing results from Round 1, as Brisbane toppled the Crows at home while the Cats fell to a Duffy-inspired Dockers outfit in the west. Heading into the clash, Geelong will start favourites against the current conference leaders, playing at home and with more experience in the line-up. For the Lions, they have youthful excitement about them and will worry a few teams. They will not win every game in the manner they did in Round 1, but you get the feeling they will push most teams and show that they are building something special for the future.

The Cats have not had to make any major changes to its line-up that fell to the Dockers last Sunday evening, bringing in Rene Caris and Maddy Boyd to their extended squad. Last week it was the developing midfield of Olivia Purcell and Rebecca Webster, teaming with fellow 19-year-olds, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Nina Morrison, while Julia Crockett-Grills found plenty of the ball as well. They are still missing All Australian defender, Meg McDonald from their back five, but the Cats have the reliable Mel Hickey and Maddy McMahon helping youngsters Millie Brown and Denby Taylor. Geelong is growing a great culture of youth all coming through together, and with Phoebe McWilliams and Richelle Cranston bringing experience to the forward half, there is a nice balance of talent that should get the job done in this match.

Brisbane does not necessarily have the names on paper that Geelong has, but some of the players will become household names sooner rather than later. Jess Wuetschner is a big loss for the Lions, having been rested after being struck by lightning on the eve of the season. While she got through the first game, the Lions have erred on the side of caution for a game-by-game basis. Coming into the side on an extended bench are Gabby Collingwood, Jordan Zanchetta and Jade Ellenger. Of the trio, Ellenger has played just the two games and is one of a number of teenagers who are in the Lions line-up alongside recent draftees, Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes, and second year players, Nat Grider and Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw. Sophie Conway made a successful return from a long term knee injury last round, and along with Ally Anderson and Emily Bates providing plenty of run and hardness through the midfield. Throw in the impenetrable Kate Lutkins at centre half-back and they have enough about them to worry the Cats.

Tip: Geelong by 15.

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.Hickey – C 18 D.Taylor 28
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Cranston 30 N.Morrison 9
HF: J.Crockett-Grills 6 M.Maguire 7 R.Garing 12
F: P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 R.Webster 21 O.Purcell 16
I/C: A.McDonald 3 D.Higgins 2 G.Rankin 10 R.Goring 44 G.Clarke 17 R.Caris 1 M.Boyd 26

In: R.Caris, M.Boyd
Out: None

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 G.Bodey 15
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Zanchetta 2 J.Ellenger 5

In: G.Collingwood, J.Zanchetta, J.Ellenger
Out: J.Wuetschner (managed)

Carlton v. Collingwood at Ikon Park, 3:10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

Traditional rivals and Conference B hopefuls Carlton and Collingwood are set to do battle at Ikon Park for a four time in their histories, in what promises to be a test of either sides’ true credentials. Both teams come in having feasted on competition newcomers in their opening fixtures, both running out on home turf in comfortable starts to the season. Bizarrely, last week’s season opener was an away match for Carlton, but the Blues once again hold home status against the ‘Pies in this match-up. While the extended history between these two powerhouse clubs is storied, their AFLW meetings have been much more one-sided – with Carlton taking out all three fixtures but the Magpies getting closer to a win every year. The Blues also fared much better in season 2019, embarking on a grand final run while Collingwood floundered and took out the Conference B wooden spoon. But with marked improvement already shown, Collingwood has the elite talent to take it to the Blues.

Much of the off-season talk and narrative coming in to the match surrounded ex-Carlton skipper and new Magpie, Bri Davey. Unfortunately for both neutrals and ‘Pies fans, the 2017 All Australian is set to miss this game after picking up a lower leg injury in Round 1. Davey’s sole omission opens the door for one of Kristy Stratton, Eliza Hynes, or Ebony O’Dea to enter the winning lineup, which has struggled at times to fill out depth outside of its formidable spine. With Davey out, the emphasis down back will be firmly placed on the pairing of Stacey Livingstone and Ash Brazill, while Brittany Bonnici and skipper Stephanie Chiocci will have to dig in hard to combat a powerhouse Carlton midfield. The ruck battle between Sharni Layton and Carlton’s pairing of Breann Moody and Alison Downie will also be one to watch, with Layton’s ability to provide use to her midfielders potentially key to shutting down a usually dominant Carlton engine room.

Twins Sarah and Jess Hosking will take the field together for the first time this year in navy blue, as the latter slots in on the wing while Jess Edwards and Abbie McKay help make up an extended bench. The Carlton core of Madison Prespakis, co-captain Katie Loynes, Grace Egan, and Georgia Gee remains, while the forward targets of Tayla Harris, Darcy Vescio, and Nicola Stevens should also work to stretch the aerial capabilities of Collingwood’s back five. Round 1 Rising Star nominee Lucy McEvoy is also primed to back up an eye-catching debut performance as part of the midfield-forward rotation, only adding to the hardness of Carlton’s overall unit. The only potential concern for the Blues may come down back as Jayde Van Dyk exits the side through injury, but the half back line of Kerryn Harrington, Lauren Brazzale, and popular mature-age draftee Vaomua Laloifi has already proven solid and will have to be as much against the likes of Chloe Molloy and Sarah Dargan. While this fixture has been somewhat of a mismatch in previous years, the increasing number of intriguing match-ups on across the field suggests this one should be a corker, with the Pies looking to elevate their game against the better-established Blues.

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 L.Brazzale 12
C: C.Dalton 15 G.Gee 19 J.Hosking 11
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 L.McEvoy 13
F: A.Downie 30 J.Doonan 26
Foll: B.Moody 16 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: S.Hosking 10 N.Plane 32 B.Walker 14 K.Loynes 2 D.Vescio 3 J.Edwards 25 A.McKay 5

In: J.Hosking, J.Edwards, A.McKay
Out: J.Van Dyk (injured)

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 E.Fowler 15
C: S.Rowe 7 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 A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13
I/C: S.Casey 22 K.Stratton 41 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 M.Shevlin 35 E.Hynes 11 E.O’Dea 50

In: K.Stratton, E.Hynes, E.O’Dea
Out: B.Davey (shin)

Adelaide Crows v. St Kilda at Hisense Stadium, 5:10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

This is expected to be an exciting show of talent for the future, with one side having been there and done it all – twice – while the other is still looking to find its feet in the new league as part of the expansion. A wounded Adelaide Crows side welcomes back some troops for the Round 2 clash against St Kilda with this match considered a must-win contest for the reigning premiers. The Crows were well beaten by a hungry Brisbane Lions side in Queensland, showing how tight the competition has become. Not even a record-breaking disposal count from Anne Hatchard (35) was enough to help the Crows get up in Round 1, and they will want to get a win on the board before the top sides in their conference get too far away. The benefit for the Crows was that fellow premiership contender, North Melbourne also lost, while last year’s finalist Geelong went down too. For the Saints, there are no expectations on their season with such a young list, but being competitive is the bare minimum expected, and after a nervous first quarter last week, the Saints settled and seemed to match it with the Western Bulldogs for large parts of the second half.

The Crows are still missing a host of names heading into this game led by Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall – the latter of whom will play no further part in the season – but have brought in a couple of debutants in Caitlin Gould and Montana McKinnon. Gould hails from Glenelg and provides a tall presence up either end, while McKinnon is a dual All-Australian at Under 18s level, and could genuinely start ruck if they required her to. Expect her to spend time as a forward however, a role she played in South Adelaide’s premiership side, while rotating through the ruck and providing some strong contested marking ability around the ground. Ebony Marinoff, Hatchard and SANFL Women’s best and fairest winner Najwa Allen form a strong onball brigade and with former MVP, Courtney Gum in the team up forward alongside Danielle Ponter and Stevie-Lee Thompson, they still have the firepower to get the job done. Sophie Li has also come into the side for the Crows, as the only omission was Rachelle Martin – a top-up player who was brought on due to Adelaide’s expansive injury list.

The Saints have made three confirmed changes, with South Australian Nadia Von Bertouch – missing a return to the state where she captained North Adelaide last season – while Kelly O’Neill and Emma Mackie have been omitted. Coming into the side is a mix of youth and experience with former Collingwood talent, Darcy Guttridge and ex-North Melbourne players Alison Drennan and Courteney Munn named in the extended side. Also in to potentially make their debuts are ruck, Poppy Kelly and tall utility, Isabella Shannon who continue the trend of youth at the club. Georgia Patrikios starred in Round 1 with a Rising Star nomination, and expect her to show just as much excitement out on Hisense Stadium. Teaming up with the likes of Molly McDonald, Nicola Xenos and Tarni White, the youth of the Saints will come good in time. They still have experience on the list, with former Crow Jess Sedunary set to make her return to the AFL Women’s having kicked one of the Saints’ two goals last week. While the Saints have plenty to like, expect the Crows to do enough to win in a tight one, even with a few still out. They are desperate, hungry and at home, so a win is non-negotiable when it comes to their premiership aspirations.

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 C.Biddell 12
HB: A.Foley 3 S.Allan 39 M.Rajcic 32
C: S.Li 19 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: E.Jones 2 C.Gum 5 R.Forth 27
F: D.Ponter 15 S.Thompson 14
Foll: J.Foley – C 24 A.Hatchard 33 N.Allen 8
I/C: C.Gould 1 A.Considine 16 M.Newman 17 N.Campbell 20 N.Gore 7 M.McKinnon 21 J.Tabb 28

In: S.Li, C.Gould, M.McKinnon
Out: R.Martin (ineligible)

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: D.Guttridge 5 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 R.Dillon 25
I/C: I.Shannon 11 A.Brown 2 C.Munn 13 N.Xenos 27 C.Whitfort 4 A.Drennan 8 P.Kelly 16

In: D.Guttridge, I.Shannon, C.Munn, A.Drennan, P.Kelly
Out: K.O’Neill, N.Von Bertouch (knee), E.Mackie

ROUND 2 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [5]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Geelong / Carlton / Adelaide
Taylah Melki [5]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Brisbane / Collingwood / Adelaide
Sophie Taylor [4]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Brisbane / Carlton / Adelaide
Peter Williams [4]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Geelong / Carlton / Adelaide

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 1 – McEvoy and Patrikios earn Rising Star noms

IN a new weekly piece, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 1, focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

RISING STAR NOMINEES:

Lucy McEvoy (Carlton)

The Carlton young gun had an eye-opening first half where at one stage she was the leading disposal winner on the ground, reaching double figures. Being a prime mover in the middle, McEvoy finished her debut with 12 touches, five marks, four tackles and five inside 50s to show just why she was a top two pick in the AFL Women’s Draft. Readymade to play at the level and a leader to boot – premiership skipper at Geelong Falcons where she was a captain since 16 – she took a huge contested mark on the wing and was not afraid to crack in when required.

Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda)

Last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) was enormous during St Kilda’s loss to the Western Bulldogs. Putting together a four quarter effort, Patrikios was the clear star for the Saints and really thrust herself into Rising Star calculations in a performance that showed she meant business playing against some star players such as Ellie Blackburn. She recorded a game-high 18 disposals, as well as two marks, five tackles and three inside 50s, as well as a goal assist.

Carlton vs. Richmond

Last year’s Rising Star winner, Madison Prespakis had an absolute day out in Carlton’s 34-point victory over Richmond. She racked up 21 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s, two rebounds and booted a goal in a best on ground performance. Along with McEvoy, Grace Egan was also prolific, recording 11 disposals and laying six tackles in a fierce effort on the inside. Charlotte Wilson was the other young star who played, picking up nine disposals. The Tigers had a tonne of young guns filter through the team, with Kodi Jacques perhaps the most prolific, recording seven disposals and three rebounds, while laying a massive seven tackles. Northern Knights premiership player, Sarah Sansonetti bested her with a game-high 10 tackles to go with five touches in the loss. Maddy Brancatisano, Laura McClelland and Sophie Molan also played and had some strong moments across the course of the match on debut.

GWS vs. Gold Coast

GWS GIANTS’ first pick in 2018 AFL Women’s Draft was a star once again, stepping up to be her side’s highest disposal winner. Alyce Parker was the only one born this century for the GIANTS, and she represented the Millennium well with 22 touches, two marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds. The SUNS had a number of first and second year players, with former Lion, Jacqui Yorsten the pick of the bunch after 13 touches, three rebounds and a huge 12 tackles in torrential rain. Serene Watson had six disposals and four tackles on debut, while Lauren Bella (19 hitouts) held her own against All Australian ruck, Erin McKinnon. Dee Heslop and Lexi Hamilton also played, with Heslop also recording three rebounds and four tackles coming out of the back half.

Melbourne vs. North Melbourne

Both these sides are in the premiership window with experience galore and therefore are unlikely to have too much to say in this piece each week. In saying that, the ones they have are quality, with Tyla Hanks and Shelley Heath running out for Melbourne in the upset two-point win at a windy Casey Fields. Hanks was one of the best throughout, picking up 11 touches, two rebounds and laying four tackles, while Heath did a lot more than her seven touches may suggest, winning a couple of high frees and bursting away to give the Dees some pace with her run and carry. For the Roos, Daisy Bateman booted an important goal in the first term but had just four touches in a role that saw her predominantly play deeper forward.

Brisbane vs. Adelaide

The young Lions were ultra-impressive against a depleted Adelaide outfit, showing they can knock over anyone when on-song. Among the young guns running out in the match, Queensland Under 18s captain, Lily Postlethwaite had nine touches and laid five tackles to show she could match it with more experienced opponents. Nat Grider had nine touches and four tackles in her first game of her second year, while Isabel Dawes and Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw also played up forward, with the latter booting a goal – equalling her one goal from seven games in her debut season last year. The injury list at the Crows allowed a number of youngsters to step up at the elite level, led by second year talent, Danielle Ponter who had four inside 50s from her 15 touches. Of the first years, Madison Newman looked comfortable at the level thanks to 10 touches, two marks, two tackles and two inside 50s, while Nikki Gore and Jaimi Tabb also were able to earn their stripes.

Collingwood vs. West Coast

Returning to Collingwood’s spiritual home at Victoria Park, the Magpies grabbed their first win in Round 1 from four attempts in the AFL Women’s competition. Mikala Cann and Jordyn Allen both showed why they warranted top 15 selections in 2018, with strong performances in the 27-point victory. Cann laid five tackles, had 13 touches as well as two marks and two inside 50s. Allen was a target inside 50, intercepting a number of defensive 50 exits to finish the match with 11 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s. Alana Porter made her debut in the black and white, signalling her intent early with a run-down tackle on Eagles’ speedster Imahra Cameron and providing some dash around the ground. She had nine touches and two tackles in the victory, while Lauren Butler also played and picked up a solid seven touches. Former Brisbane talent, McKenzie Dowrick‘s return to her home state of Western Australia looks to have been a success so far with the second year player recording 10 touches, two marks, two inside 50s and two rebounds on the weekend. Mikayla Bowen captained Western Australia at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last year and brought all of that tenacity to the game with 10 tackles and eight disposals. Sophie McDonald also played, holding down a key role in defence.

St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs

Patrikios was the clear standout from the young guns in this match, but there were plenty to pick from as the future of the AFL Women’s was on full show at Moorabbin. Number one pick and Northern Knights premiership skipper, Gabby Newton played her first game and did not disappoint, rotating in the forward half of the ground and getting some midfield minutes on her way to 13 touches and a game-high eight tackles. The other two pups to earn a debut in Round 1 were Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia, who were also members of the Vic Metro side that impressed in last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. Georgostathis had eight disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s in the win, getting better as the game went on, while Lagioia looked classy with her six touches, two marks, two tackles and two rebounds. For the losing side, Molly McDonald would have arguably earned a Rising Star nomination had it not been for such dominant performances from Patrikios and McEvoy. The former Dandenong Stingrays’ skipper booted the club’s inaugural goal and had 12 kicks for 12 disposals, also amassing four marks, three tackles and two rebounds. Caitlin Greiser played up forward and provided a target with six touches and three inside 50s, while Nicola Xenos and Tarni White both earned debuts and stood up with some classy moments.

Fremantle vs. Geelong

Sabreena Duffy was not eligible for a Rising Star nomination, but her performance was arguably the best of any Rising Star player. The second year former Western Australia captain booted four goals from 12 touches in a match-winning performance to help the Dockers sink the Cats in the west. Alongside her up forward and rotating through the ruck was first round pick and future star, Roxanne Roux who booted 1.2 and showed off her booming kick on her way to seven disposals and 15 hitouts. Her partner-in-crime through the ruck, Mim Strom stood up and had 14 hitouts and seven disposals also on debut to show the pairing is likely to cause some headaches for the opposition in the future. The Cats’ second year players picked up where they left off and look to be an elite core going forward. Olivia Purcell had leather poisoning with 27 touches, five marks, four tackles and five inside 50s, teaming up well with Rebecca Webster (21 touches, seven marks and three rebounds). Denby Taylor (12 touches, three inside 50s and two rebounds) covered plenty of ground, Nina Morrison returned from a long-term knee injury to boot a goal from nine touches in just her second game, while Sophie Van De Heuvel had seven touches and five marks, spreading across the ground well. The Cats’ sole teenage debutant was father-daughter pick, Millie Brown who was solid with eight touches in defence.

Dees celebrate upset win in front of home fans at Casey

MELBOURNE has claimed a huge scalp in the opening round of the AFL Women’s 2020 season, downing one of the premiership favourites in North Melbourne at Casey Fields. In a see-sawing contest, the Demons scored the final goal of the game courtesy of Eden Zanker, in a low-scoring and blustery affair to win 3.4 (22) to 3.2 (20).

A warm and windy day at Casey Fields not only welcomed the return of AFL Women’s to the south-eastern suburbs of Victoria, but also the return of Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce. The Dees’ skipper was playing her first competitive match since 2018, and started at half-back, winning an intercept possession straight off a clearance and getting in the thick of it early. Young gun, Tyla Hanks set the tone with a great tackle in the opening minute at half-back, but the going was tough early with both side’s defences standing up with the blustery conditions doing plenty to impact the inside 50 entries.

It took until the fifth minute when Kaitlyn Ashmore mowed down a Melbourne opponent close to goal and won a free kick 15m out on a 45 degree angle. The breeze did not pose a problem for the talented utility who slotted the first goal of the match. The Roos might have surprised a few by recruiting mature-age Western Bulldogs VFL Women’s recruit, Ellie Gavalas with their first pick, but she showed exactly why they brought her in with some great tackling ability, as did Melbourne Uni recruit, Tahni Nestor with a huge run-down tackle on Zanker to win a free kick. Ashmore’s forward work was looking good with a strong lead and mark about 35m out, but opted to pass which was spoiled.

With only their third inside 50, Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham took a big contested mark, but her kick got caught in the breeze and fell short. An end-to-end play by the Roos saw Daisy Bateman mark on the 50m line, and knowing the distance was beyond her, looked for options. Luckily though, her opponent took a step too far on the mark, and Bateman was awarded a 50m penalty, converting the major from the goal square to put her side 12 points up with the quarter into red time. The home team was attacking fiercely late in the term, but back-to-back 50m penalties for mark infringements brought North Melbourne back to within goal-scoring range. The kick on goal fell short, and Gavalas nearly got her first major with a quick snap but missed to the right and the siren sounded with the Roos 2.1 (13) to Dees’ 0.0 (0).

Now with the wind at their backs, the Dees could start to mount an offensive themselves. A huge moment came in the sixth minute when Kate Hore produced a perfectly timed run-down tackle as her opponent went to clear the danger out of defence. The ball never connected with her boot and Hore converted the subsequent set shot from straight in front 30m out. Melbourne was on the board just over 20 minutes into the match.

The game was predominantly being played in Melbourne’s half, with the Demons constantly putting pressure on the Kangaroos’ defence. It worried the visitors into giving away a stoppage free to Elise O’Dea in front of goal, but her set shot drifted to the left courtesy of the strong breeze. Melbourne’s ‘Old Firm’ of O’Dea, Pearce and Karen Paxman were standing up and leading the side across the three lines, while the the speed and excitement of Hore and Shelley Heath inside 50 was piling on the pressure for the home side.

Hore was best-on for her impact in the game, pressuring an opponent to force the ball out of bounds and win a free kick deep in the pocket. Her set shot missed, but she would soon put her side in front with the last meaningful play of the quarter, after Zanker’s dribble attempt fortuitously bounced away from the goal, but also a North Melbourne opponent and bounced straight into the arms of the running Hore who converted from point-blank range.

Melbourne had a simple task against the wind – try to clog up the scoring to avoid North Melbourne holding an unassailable lead heading into the last term. For the first four minutes, nothing was able to penetrate past the last line of the Dees’ sturdy defence. With so much experience back there, they were able to work the ball out of the danger zone time and time again. Though the first meaningful chance came via a holding free to Emma King about 35m out straight in front. Her shot looked on target for the most part, but drifted to the left for one behind and levelled the scores.

While Pearce might have been the headline return story for the match, North had one of its own too, with Ash Riddell returning for just her third game after missing the rest of last season after going down in Round 2. She was in the right spot at the right time goal-side to receive a quick handball from Jasmine Garner to snap around her body and put it through with a celebration worthy of a vital match-turning goal. The Roos would need at least one more and now allow the home side to get one on the board of their own if they were to hold enough sway to restrict the opposition in the final term.

The match had shades of last year’s thrilling encounter, and while Cunningham had the chance to put her side back level with a tight shot from the boundary, it went to the right.  Melbourne was attacking fiercely in the dying minutes of the third term to try and get one against the flow, but North kept repelling time and time again, including a potentially match-winning tackle from Bethany Lynch inside defensive 50. The Roos led by five points at the final break, but the Dees would have the all-important win to try and reverse the 2019 result at this venue.

While North did all the attacking early in the fourth term, it was Melbourne’s ability to run and find space that was the difference in the end. Every player was in the Kangaroos’ half and it led to an end-to- end play by the Dees for Zanker to be all alone inside 50 to run into an open goal and put the Dees in front by a point. Melbourne had multiple chances to really ice the game over the next few minutes, but could not seem to put through the final dagger as the North defence stood up time and time again.

The Kangaroos kept trying to pump it long out of defensive 50, but the Demons set up behind the ball so every kick down through midfield was being picked off by the experienced Demons defenders. Both teams were desperate and the Roos coughed up another free kick and with 20 seconds remaining, the Demons were able to lock the ball up enough to win the game by just two points in a thrilling contest.

The 2018 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Emma Kearney finished with 20 touches and nine tackles, shaded by Riddell who was arguably the best on the ground after quarter time, racking up 20 disposals, five tackles and booting that timely third quarter goal, while Jenna Bruton laid 11 tackles and was fierce throughout the four quarters. Aside from Hore (13 disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) who was outstanding in crunch moments for the Dees, Paxman and O’Dea (both 15 disposals) and Pearce (12 disposals) were terrific.

MELBOURNE 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
KANGAROOS 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 2, E. Zanker.
Kangaroos: K. Ashmore, D. Bateman, A. Riddell.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Hore, D. Pearce, K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, S. Heath, T. Hanks
Kangaroos: A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, D. Hardiman, K. Ashmore

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: North Melbourne

HAVING made a splash in its inaugural season, North Melbourne had a relatively quiet trade and draft period, retaining the majority of its list and heading to the draft just looking to top up with some readymade talent to go one better than in 2019 and make finals – hopefully pushing for a flag. The Kangaroos lost Jamie Stanton to her third AFL Women’s club, moving back to Queensland to play with the Gold Coast SUNS, whilst Alison Drennan and Courteney Munn returned to their roots by taking up a spot on St Kilda’s inaugural list. The Roos delisted four players, with none bigger than Mo Hope, whose career has been in the spotlight, but now she is taking time off for personal reasons.

In the draft, the Roos pulled a shock selection at Pick 10, taking mature-age midfielder Ellie Gavalas to be the first non top-age selection in the AFL Women’s Draft. Along with Gavalas, the Roos picked up Carlton’s Sarah Wright and from their own backyard, Tahni Nestor, who moved from Hawthorn to Melbourne University over the off-season. A couple of Tasmanians in the incredibly talented Mia King – who arguably could have been a top 10 selection – and Abbey Green who both made their way from Launceston to the Roos under the affiliation with the Apple Isle. The other two inclusions were a couple of Gaelic football converts in Mairead Seoighe and Aileen Gilroy.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Mairead Seoighe, Aileen Gilroy (Gaelic football), Ellie Gavalas (Western Bulldogs VFLW), Sarah Wright (Carlton VFLW), Mia King, Abbey Green (Launceston), Tahni Nestor (Melbourne University)
OUT: Jamie Stanton (Gold Coast), Alison Drennan, Courteney Munn (St Kilda), Mo Hope, Georgia Nanscawen, Maddison Smith, Jessie Williams (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Abbatangelo
Kaitlyn Ashmore
Daria Bannister
Daisy Bateman
Nicole Bresnehan
Jenna Bruton
Jess Duffin
Jasmine Garner
Ellie Gavalas
Britt Gibson
Kate Gillespie-Jones
Abbey Green
Jasmine Grierson
Chloe Haines
Libby Haines
Danielle Hardiman
Emma Humphries
Emma Kearney
Elisha King
Emma King
Mia King
Taylor Mesiti
Tahni Nestor
Tahlia Randall
Ash Riddell
Jess Trend
Sarah Wright

Rookies: Aileen Gilroy, Beth Lynch, Mairead Seoighe

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Jasmine Grierson – Danielle Hardiman – Jess Trend
HB: Jess Duffin – Tahlia Randall – Britt Gibson
C: Emma Kearney
HF: Daisy Bateman – Jasmine Garner – Sophie Abbatangelo
F: Daria Bannister – Kate Gillespie-Jones – Kaitlyn Ashmore
R: Emma King – Jenna Bruton – Ellie Gavalas
INT: Ash Riddell – Elisha King – Sarah Wright – Mia King – Emma Humphries
EMG: Tahni Nestor – Taylor Mesiti – Nicole Bresnehan

DEPTH: Chloe Haines, Libby Haines, Abbey Green, Beth Lynch*, Aileen Gilroy*, Mairead Seoighe*

North Melbourne is lucky enough to head into season 2020 without any major holes to fill, retaining the majority of its list for the year ahead. They might have had to find another midfielder to slot into that onball role left by Stanton, which is why they recruited Gavalas and Wright, with Mia King in turn also likely to be thrown in there. They could move some of their players from defence or attack into that position, but by recruiting readymade midfielders, it allows the likes of Jess Duffin and Kaitlyn Ashmore to continue to play a role in their respective 50s. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Emma King will rotate from ruck to full-forward, with Jasmine Garner being a workhorse roaming in and out of the forward 50. With so many talented players running around at ground level, the firepower of the Roos is clearly notable.

Whilst the Roos did delist their equal leading goalkicker in Hope, they still have Emma King who will provide a strong marking presence and look to build on her eight majors from 2019. There are not many weaknesses in the line-up, and North Melbourne deserve to be one of the title contenders heading into 2020, with even their depth looking quite impressive and realistically more than 25 players capable of slotting into the starting team when the Roos can only pick 21.

VFLW weekly wrap: Finals Week 2 – Bulldogs earn 2019 Grand Final spot

THE Western Bulldogs progressed through to the 2019 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final with a hard fought win over ladder leaders Collingwood, forcing the Pies to a preliminary final against the Southern Saints who claimed a 17-point victory over Melbourne Uni. The loss marks the end of the road for the Mugars, while the Dogs have earned a week off to prepare for the grand final.

COLLINGWOOD 0.4 | 1.6 | 1.8 | 1.8 (14)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.2 | 4.4 (26)

GOALS:
Collingwood:
C. Molloy.
Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland 2, S. Molan, N. McMahon.

BEST:
Collingwood:
B. Bonnici, J. Lambert, G. Buchan, S. Casey, C. Molloy, S. Layton
Western Bulldogs: N. Ferres, N. McMahon, A. Guest, K. McLeod, M. Sandral, K. Lamb

Despite registering more shots at goal, the Magpies simply could not convert while the Bulldogs punished them piling on the pressure and nailing crucial goals. The Bulldogs will be licking their lips able to sit back and relax this week after an impressive effort. With a spot in the grand final up for grabs, Collingwood came out hard peppering the goals and nudging ahead at half-time before the tables turned. The black and white did not manage a score in the final term, while the Dogs went on a scoring spree nailing two goals and clenching victory to progress through to the grand final. Collingwood missed Bri Davey who was a late out replaced by Sharni Layton. Davey’s absence around the stoppages was obvious but Brittany Bonnici flexed her muscles going in hard and winning the ball with nothing but sheer grit and determination with a game-high 22 disposals. Chloe Molloy did her part around the ground leading up at the footy and providing an option inside 50 albeit inaccurate in front of goal with 1.2 for the afternoon. Teammate Jaimee Lambert was electric across the field gathering 20 disposals with 13 of them kicks plus seven tackles. The Dogs had no shortage of stand out players with Brooke Lochland showcasing her explosiveness in front of goal with two majors along with 11 touches. Naomi Ferres was a beast around the contest notching up eight tackles and 13 possessions while highlighting her strong hands with four marks. Ellie Gavalas and Ashleigh Guest were both crucial for the Doggies with both players absorbing the pressure and thinking their way through the contest. The win sees the Western Bulldogs earn a spot in the final hoorah, while the Magpies will face off against the Southern Saints in hope to win their way into the grand final.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 3.1 |6.4 | 10.5 | 10.5 (65)
MELBOURNE UNI 2.1 | 5.2 | 5.3 | 7.6 (48)

GOALS:
Southern Saints:
C. Greiser 4, K. Shierlaw, H. Stuart, C. Phillips, E. Mackie, C. Munn, M. Kuys
Melbourne Uni: D. Bateman 2, J. Garner 2, A. Riddell, S. Abbatangelo, J. Bruton

BEST:
Southern Saints:
E. Mackie, C. Greiser, C. Phillips, T. Lucas-Rodd, O. Vesely, K. O”Neill
Melbourne Uni: K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Bruton, J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, A. Runnalls

The Southern Saints skipped out to an early lead and did not look back maintaining the pressure throughout the four quarters. Despite not scoring in the last term the Saints did enough to establish a commanding lead and keep Melbourne Uni guessing, spurring them into the prelim. The Saints slotted four consecutive goals in the third term to all but end the hopes of the Mugars and although they did mount a fourth quarter comeback it was little too late. With only six disposals to her name Caitlin Greiser made the most of her chances posing a dominant threat inside the forward 50 with her lethal boot on full display. Greiser nailed four goals straight while applying a bucket load of forward pressure with five tackles. She was ably assisted by teammate Emma Mackie who slotted one major for the game to accompany her 20 touches and nine tackles. It was a comprehensive performance by the Saints midfield with Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Alison Drennan doing their part in close with 20 and 17 disposals respectively. Melissa Kuys also had the ball on a string with 17 touches, one goal and five marks showcasing her strength in the air while Rhiannon Watt was no mean feat competing hard in the ruck with 18 hit outs to her name. Ashleigh Riddell put on a show for Melbourne Uni going in hard and winning the ball at the coalface, notching up 30 disposals and a goal for her efforts. Emma Kearney and Jenna Bruton were both crucial for the Mugars who struggled to have their usual impact. Bruton slotted a major in the second quarter to keep her side in the hunt while also showing is not afraid to throw her weight around with seven tackles. In front of goals, Daisy Bateman led the way converting two goals straight credit to her lead up at the footy and goal sense. The loss ends the Mugars 2019 journey while the Saints keep marching on to play Collingwood in the preliminary final.

Magpies ready to swoop on second chance

FOR the second successive year, Collingwood heads into the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) finals series as the team to beat, sitting atop the table and claiming the minor premiership. But while that history repeats, coach Penny Cula-Reid is keen to ensure that the 2018 finals series history – which contained back-to-back losses and a straight sets exit – will not repeat. Cula-Reid said the “uneasy” nature of the AFLW season has the players determined to prove a point, and also take the learnings from last year in the VFLW to go deeper in 2019.

“I think the group itself has really evolved and developed from last year into this year, and same with AFL girls having such an uneasy AFLW season, coming into VFLW they really wanted to prove something and work on the things they needed to work on,” Cula-Reid said. “(We’re doing) nothing differently because I think that the girls have the experience knowing what it was like in the finals series. “Still going in with the mindset of anything is possible. “Obviously we wanted to make sure we have a winning mentality and making sure our mental game is strong. “We all know finals series are a completely different game and anything can happen on day, and it’s really important for us as a collective that we’re all doing it together.”

The Magpies have enjoyed welcoming a host of Oakleigh Chargers players who stepped up from NAB League Girls and AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships level to don the black and white stripes at VFLW level. Cula-Reid said their fast-tracked development compared to predecessors and current AFLW players was noticeable, and while the game style had been tweaked, it was the young “superstars” that were having an impact in 2019.

I still think the anti-density rule that something teams can expose if they know how to stick to a gameplan,” she said. “But really important, I think it’s just the game, you see these young 18-year-olds coming through and they’re just bloody superstars. “You get them when they’re coming off a championships up in Queensland and we’ve got, Gemma Lagioia, Nicola Xenos and Amelia Van Oosterwijck who unfortunately did her ankle, but these are the kids who have been playing high-level football at the highest possible level they can at such a young age and they just bring a completely different dynamic into our team. “We’re just really excited for them and all the other 18-year-olds who are playing through the finals series, and obviously the draft is coming up so no better time to see them in action than the finals series.”

The Oakleigh Chargers link is one that is going strong for the Magpies, with Cula-Reid working with the NAB League Girls club, to continue their development pathway up to the top level.

“It’s been great,” Cula-Reid said of the two club’s affiliation. “We’ve been very fortunate, especially last year. We had two girls from the Oakleigh Chargers in Katie Lynch and Daisy Bateman both getting drafted to teams, so fantastic exposure for them and I get the chance to go down to training, watch a few of their games, have a chat to their coach Luke (O’Shannessy), and it’s just great for us that we get that talent pool. “But we’re juggling the fact that they play private school football as well, so it’s a bit of a catch-22, we get some of the best talent, but we’ve also got to make sure their schooling is number one.”

The Magpies held the key to the 2019 AFL Women’s Draft with multiple first and second round picks to select the likes of Lynch and Mikala Cann. It is a very different looking story heading into 2020, with the club not making a selection until Pick 67. But considering what the Magpies brought in, Cula-Reid said it was worth the wait.

“We had a great recruit in Brianna Davey and I think for that, she’s worth all the draft picks in the world to be honest,” Cula-Reid. “What she brings to the team is phenomenal. “There’s so much young talent out there, the exposure and the opportunity to have access to the resources that we have at Collingwood and we’ve got some of the best coaches there, like Nathan Buckley who was coach of the year last year and we get to tap into the men’s system as well, so fantastic for us that we get that development from a coaching perspective and now we’ve got a new coach in Steve Symonds, and again his expertise in what he brings to the club … look out for us in 2020.”

Cula-Reid said the introduction of Symonds to the club was a massive benefit and that the pair worked well together in terms of their focus on development and coaching beliefs.

“He came in July, so it was sort of just a one person show until then,” she said. “But he’s taken Norwood to three grand finals, he’s worked in coach development, he’s worked in player development, he’s worked coaching at the highest level too, he’s coached at Adelaide as well. “We’ve very excited and very lucky and fortunate to have someone like Steve come in and he’s taken me under his wing, and like I’ve been saying to a lot of the people that we actually read from the same book, he’s just a few chapters in front of me. I come in to say good morning to him and we sit there for like 40 minutes just talking about football and I’m like ‘we haven’t even started my day yet and we’re already talking footy’ but he’s great having around the club. “Very invested, very involved with the girls, especially in the VFL program. “Obviously moving into the AFL program, he wants to build from here and move into the AFL season.”

Potentially the Magpies could look from within to find the next AFLW star, developing their current and possibly future AFLW players.

“It’s really important for our AFL girls to get experience and exposure in other positions, because on gameday anything can happen and to have that flexibility to throw them from one end of the field to the other, chuck them on the wing or inside mid, it’s part of their football development,” Cula-Reid said. “If we think footy IQ is really important, there’s no way better than if you’re a one-dimensional player, you’re not going to get many opportunities, but if we can throw you up one end of the field or the other, that’s great exposure for them and great development for them, and we’ve got such a young list that anything is possible with these girls, so we’re pretty excited about that.”

Now with the finals about to commence, Cula-Reid has squarely focused on the next month as the Magpies look to win their maiden VFLW premiership. While the Saints are the biggest threat to the Magpies on paper, Cula-Reid said any one of the finals sides could take out the premiership.

“You can’t go past Southern Saints,” she said. “They’re pretty phenomenal all season. “We only met them in Round 1, and unfortunately for us we only had 24 players to pick from on our list then, so I think this weekend’s going to be a different story but they’ve come in leaps and bound. “You can’t go past Richmond, lucky enough for us to win after the siren, and Geelong’s back in the finals series again, you’ve got Melbourne Uni also affiliated with North Melbourne and then you can’t go past any of the other teams in the competition, so anything can happen on the day.”

Collingwood hosts Southern Saints at their spiritual home of Victoria Park from 12pm on Saturday, August 31.

U18 Girls season preview: Oakleigh Chargers

AFTER not winning a game in 2017, Oakleigh Chargers powered to three wins in 2018, including an impressive victory over Gippsland Power in Round 1 – their opponents tomorrow. Female Talent Manager Jennifer Phefley said the girls were able to build on their initial season and put in some impressive performances throughout the year to hold them in good stead for 2019.

“Last season was, for me personally was the first time that I was working with the girls so I came up off from the boys program and it was really good to see the development of the girls over the space of time that we had,” she said. “We went about six months or so, maybe a bit more when you include pre-season, but it’s really exciting to see that development and how quickly it’s happening with the girls.”

Oakleigh finished the year with two draftees – Collingwood taking Katie Lynch and North Melbourne adding Daisy Bateman. Both girls had tasted Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) action with Collingwood in the 2018 season post-TAC Cup Girls. Phefley said the experience had built on their time at the Chargers and set them up for a successful transition into the AFL Women’s competition.

“We actually had Daisy come back to chat to the girls at the club and she said it’s a very big step and I’ve actually spoken to Katie as well – both are loving the challenge but it’s definitely still a very big step and as I said, just a good challenge for the girls that want to take that next step with their football,” Phefley said. “Absolutely (the VFLW experience helped the girls). “The thing is with junior footballers, boys or girls, it depends on their maturity in both their body and mind is set to how well they adapt at that next level and getting a taste of it as a junior is really important.”

Like a number of sides, Oakleigh focused its pre-season attention on strength and conditioning. It was an area of improvement identified last year, and Phefley said the girls were taking the changes in their stride. While they felt the team might have been less prepared for the 2018 season, the Chargers Female Talent Manager said 2019 was a different story.

“(It has gone) really well,” Phefley said. “We identified key areas at the end of last season that we wanted to develop on – particularly the strength and conditioning side of things. We found when the girls got onto the full-ground last year they were a bit under-conditioned so that’s been one of the main focuses in pre-season. “And then just things like overhead marking, ball skills on the ground – those sort of key areas that we’re seeing are really important skills to have when you move up through VFLW and into the AFLW. “I think the girls are feeling pretty confident in that they’ve prepared themselves the best they can. We’ve got a lot of new girls in the squad so I think there’s a bit of an exciting vibe from them that this is their first foray into the competition. So I think it’s a really good, positive vibe from all the girls.”

The top prospect to watch in season 2019 is the silky-skilled Gemma Lagioia who roams between the midfield and forward lines. Phefley said Lagioia was a smooth mover who has a game-turning ability.

“She’s been really good (in pre-season),” she said. “Obviously she’s an outside player so we’re working on those really clean skills. We had a practice match on the weekend and a couple of times she just kind of waltzed through and was able to get the ball really cleanly and it allowed us to come out the other side of the stoppage and take control of the game from that aspect.”

Emily Harley is a tall target who switches between forward and defence, and was recently named as vice-captain of the Chargers. Phefley said she might be in for a change of role in 2019, still playing forward but spending time in the midfield to use her stronger body to the teams’ advantage.

“She’s an interesting one,” Phefley said. “We probably would be looking at her as that tall big-bodied midfielder a bit, and also playing as a forward. “She’s got that massive kick, she’s a very powerful athlete so being able to utilise her assets in that matter – she’s very strong obviously in the contest and in stoppages.”

Phefley said the other player who could catch attention this season is 19-year-old Amelia Peck, who is the Chargers’ tallest player at 183cm. She is described as “very strong, (and) has got very good hands overhead and below her knees” and could become an important player for Oakleigh.

“They’re probably our top three in terms of top-agers this year, we’ve obviously got some other girls coming through and it’s just a matter of seeing how they progress in matches,” Phefley said. “We haven’t seen enough of them, or they’ve developed quite rapidly and so it’s just a matter of where they go from here.”

Looking beyond 2019, Phefley said there was a lot of developing talent at the club, with some players already showing leadership on and off the field.

“Our captain is actually a middle-age player, a 17-year-old – Mimi Hill,” she said. “Obviously she was voted in by the girls so she’s highly rated for her skills and the way she goes about her football both on and off the field. “So she’s definitely one that we’re keeping an eye on over the next two years. “(Others) we’ve got as bottom agers, they’re still quite raw but there’s definitely some exciting things there. “We’ve got Charlie Rowbottom, she’s actually the younger sister of James Rowbottom who was drafted last year, and she’s quite a strong big-bodied 16-year-old. “She’s developed and has got some really good upside, unlike a lot of other 16 year olds she’s got the body to play against the older girls so it’s just giving her confidence to break through packs and take on those bigger bodies.”

While Phefley has remained on board in the female space, long-time Male Talent Manager, Craig Notman headed to Tasmania to manage the new Tasmanian Devils side. A number of other talent managers switched allegiances, including Western’s Jy Bond who moved from the Jets to the Chargers over the off-season.

“It’s been good (having Jy Bond on board),” Phefley said. “Obviously Jy’s been a Charger himself so he’s really jumped in and he’s really enjoying the club. “There’s all our old stalwarts that were here when he was here so it’s been really good. “As it is when anyone new comes in, they bring their ideas, their fresh ideas and something new.”

Looking out to Sunday’s clash with Gippsland Power, Phefley said the team was raring to go, and wanted to bring the heat while building both individual and team development in 2019.

“We just want to improve on last year, so as long as we come out the other end having learnt a couple of things – obviously we’ve placed emphasis in our pre-season on our conditioning, being able to run out games, tackling, pressure around the ball, all those sort of things,” she said. “As long as what we’ve been training, we’re able to put into practice and develop along the way – that’s all we can really ask for.”

Draftee Watch: Round 1

IN our new weekly series Draftee Watch, we take a look at the top performing 2018 draftee from each AFL Women’s side to see how they have made the step up to the elite level. In Round 1, Geelong’s Nina Morrison and GWS GIANTS’ Alyce Parker won the Rising Star nominations.

Adelaide: Chloe Scheer

Scheer came into the competition as a great unknown coming off a 12-month knee injury. Her junior career is nothing short of accolade-ridden with multiple league best and fairests, renowned for her high footy IQ and goal sense up forward. She booted Adelaide’s only goal on the weekend and looked lively in a game that was tight defensively. Hannah Martin, Maisie Nankivell and Jess Foley were other Crows who ran out onto Norwood Oval for their first games.

Brisbane: McKenzie Dowrick

The West Australian utility started her AFL Women’s career off strongly, notching up nine disposals in a solid first hit-out in Lions colours. She was one of many Brisbane debutants on the day, and along with the likes of Paige Parker, Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw and Lauren Bella, enjoyed the narrow win over GWS GIANTS.

Carlton: Madison Prespakis

The clear standout for the Navy Blues in a game they would like to move on from quicker rather than later. The top five selection had 13 disposals and laid five tackles in an imposing performance, regarded by the commentary team as the Blues’ top midfielder on the day. She had her work cut out for her, but there is no doubting her potential in the future. Former VFL Women’s players, Collingwood captain Jess Edwards (eight disposals, five tackles and a goal) and Hawthorn Rising Star Award winner, Jayde Van Dyk were others who held their own in the heavy loss to the Roos.

Collingwood: Erica Fowler

Mature-age draftee stories are often just as impressive as teenagers entering the AFL Women’s, and with Eliza Hynes out, Fowler shared the load with Sharni Layton in the ruck. Fowler notched up seven disposals. three marks and eight tackles on her way to 75 AFL Fantasy Points. Eastern Ranges’ speedster, Mikala Cann and Dandenong Stingrays’ captain, Jordyn Allen were among other Magpies who stood up in the loss to Geelong.

Fremantle: Parris Laurie

The 24 year-old Laurie was impressive in the heat across four quarters for the Dockers in their upset win over Melbourne at Casey Fields. Laurie notched up 10 disposals, one mark, six tackles and 66 AFL Fantasy Points to be the top performing Dockers debutant. If starts are anything to go by, the first quarter by Sabreena Duffy was out of this world, booting 1.1 and setting up another goal in what was a dominant first term, before finishing with nine disposals and 42 AFL Fantasy Points.

Geelong: Nina Morrison

Geelong had no shortage of young stars coming through the side, but Morrison produced a terrific performance worthy of her number one selection. Of the debutants in Round 1, Morrison recorded the most disposals and equal most tackles, with 22 and eight. She kicked what would become the winning poster on her way to 92 AFL Fantasy Points. Olivia Purcell (15 disposals, two marks and six tackles), Rebecca Webster (11 disposals and three marks) and Denby Taylor (eight disposals and one tackle) were others who stood out throughout the win over Collingwood.

GWS GIANTS: Alyce Parker

The Thurgoona product was sensational on the weekend in GWS GIANTS’ narrow loss to the Brisbane Lions. Behind Morrison, Parker was the next highest disposal winner of the draftees, and moved around the field like a veteran, amassing 18 touches, four marks and three tackles on her way to 63 AFL Fantasy Points. Haneen Zreika, a teammate of Parker’s at junior level, also impressed on debut with 15 disposals, one mark and three tackles, while Yvonne Bonner booted a goal in the loss.

Melbourne: Tyla Hanks

The Gippsland Power co-captain was the sole Melbourne debutant in the Dees’ loss to Fremantle at Casey Fields on Sunday. Having booted two goals in Gippsland’s first ever Under 18s win at the ground 12 months prior, Hanks played up forward and amassed seven disposals and two tackles in a solid first-up performance.

North Melbourne: Nicole Bresnehan

It was fitting that Bresnehan was the top performing North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos player, with the Clarence local standing out at North Hobart. Bresnehan notched up seven disposals, two marks and two tackles in the Kangaroos’ huge win over Carlton, while former Oakleigh Chargers’ goal sneak, Daisy Bateman also had a taste of AFL Women’s action in the opening round.

Western Bulldogs: Eleanor Brown

The former Sandringham Dragons and Vic Metro winger played her role in the Western Bulldogs’ thrilling interstate win over Adelaide. Brown had five disposals, three marks and two tackles in the defeat, while Celine Moody – the sister of Carlton ruck, Breann – also enjoyed her first win.

AFLW season previews: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne’s recruiting strategy was a bold one, poaching players from all sorts of AFLW clubs. As a result, the Kangaroos did not do much damage in the draft, but still picked up some handy players to go with their experienced line-up.

List: Emma Kearney, Jasmine Garner, Jamie Stanton, Jess Duffin, Danielle Hardiman, Tahlia Randall, Jenna Bruton, Katherine Gillespie-Jones, Maddison Smith, Brittany Gibson, Daria Bannister, Ash Riddell,  Georgia Nanscawen, Elisha King, Kaitlyn Ashmore, Moana Hope, Emma King, Emma Humphries, Jasmine Grierson, Sophie Abbatangelo, Jessie Williams, Taylor Mesiti, Alison Drennan, Jess Trend, Nicole Bresnehan, Libby Haines, Chloe Haines, Courteney Munn, Daisy Bateman, Beth Lynch

The North Melbourne list has a total of four former Collingwood players, four Brisbane players, three Western Bulldogs players, two Carlton players and two Melbourne players. Out of their 30-player list, 15 players have already played AFLW, which will give the Kangaroos plenty of confidence heading into the season. They have also sourced some talented players from the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with Sophie Abbatangelo, Ash Riddell, Jess Trend, Courteney Munn, Alison Drennan and Beth Lynch, adding further depth to their talent pool. Top that off with some exciting Under 18 talent in Daisy Bateman, Chloe Haines and Libby Haines and North Melbourne has one of the strongest lists in the AFLW without even playing a game as a team.

Area of strength: Forward line

North Melbourne has recruited some big names in its forward line, led by former Collingwood forward, Moana Hope. This will be a big year for Hope who has copped criticism from her past two years of AFLW. Interestingly, she played no VFLW in the off-season so she comes into this AFLW season with fresh legs. She will be joined by Abbatangelo, who is arguably just as dangerous. She was dominant for Melbourne University in the VFLW and also knew how to rack up the disposals. Jasmine Garner is also likely to play inside 50, but has versatility to go back in defence as well. Add in Daisy Bateman, who came second in the TAC Cup Girls’ goal kicking, and kicked six goals for Collingwood’s VFLW side in 10 games, and North Melbourne has a pretty exciting line-up inside its forward 50.

Area of weakness: Defence

It is quite hard to find a weakness in North Melbourne’s line-up, but the structure of their defence is quite interesting. The Kangaroos have a lot of running defenders but could struggle when it comes to matching up on dangerous forwards such as Sabrina Frederick-Traub. Garner is a good-sized defender but inexperienced in the backline after spending half a season there for the Pies last year. Kate Gillespie-Jones has the strength to match up on a key position player, but her skills can sometimes disappoint. Tahlia Randall is the one who could potentially play that role but is also inexperienced.

Players to watch:

Sophie Abbatangelo

Abbatangelo was one of the first players recruited to North Melbourne and it’s not hard to see why. From eight games for Melbourne University, she averaged 15.6 disposals and also kicked four goals. Her best game came in Round 1 when she racked up 20 disposals against Geelong. Abbatangelo creates real excitement with the ball in hand and can excel both in the midfield and up forward. Given North Melbourne’s stacked midfield, Abbatangelo is likely to be used up forward for the 2019 season.

Alison Drennan

Alison Drennan was the equal winner of the Southern Saints’ Best and Fairest, along with Rhiannon Watt. She managed to rack up the disposals week in, week out, and used it well both by hand and by foot. A clever footballer that dominates on the inside, Drennan will be a key force in the North Melbourne line-up. She averaged 22.4 disposals per game, and racked up more than 20 touched on nine occasions.

Daisy Bateman

Daisy Bateman scored 14 goals in seven games for the Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup Girls competition. Her best game came against the Bendigo Pioneers where she scored five goals. Bateman then went on to play for Collingwood in the VFLW and scored three goal on debut, proving she has what it takes against the bigger bodies. When representing Vic Metro, Bateman provided a great target up forward and read the ball well, often running out the back for a quick major, which is a trademark of her game.

2019 prediction: 3rd in Conference A

Although North Melbourne has a ready-made AFLW list, it’s always very hard for a new team to go straight into the finals in its first season. The Kangaroos do have a chance to get off to a good start, hosting the first ever AFLW match at Hobart against the Blues to open the season. Following that, they face the Giants, Bulldogs and Melbourne, which may prompt a wake-up call. Expect North Melbourne to be a high-scoring team with some firepower up forward, while the Haines twins should cause some havoc through the midfield and defence.

2019 North Melbourne AFLW Fixture

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North Hobart OvalRound 1
Drummoyne OvalRound 2
University of Tasmania StadiumRound 3
Casey FieldsRound 4
Avalon Airport OvalRound 5
Marvel StadiumRound 6
Fremantle OvalRound 7