Tag: Dana Hooker

AFL Women’s preview: Round 3 – Make or break games set the scene for third round of action

IT is now or never for a number of teams who sit on a knifes-edge when it comes to their finals aspirations. While some sides will finish the round undefeated with three wins, other teams will head into Monday doing the maths as to how many wins they need to make finals. With many teams at 1-1, this is the earliest junction in the season where sides can make a getaway from the sides around them, or fall back and have to play catch-up football in the run home.

Friday, February 21

St Kilda v. Melbourne at RSEA Park, 7:10pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

With St Kilda still looking for their first win in AFLW history, Melbourne will be hoping to keep the good times rolling and make it three from three. it has been a tricky initiation for the Saints who have been competitive for large chunks of time but lack that little bit of finesse and experience in the crucial moments as opposed to the Demons. Melbourne have been in hot form downing premiership favourites North Melbourne in Round 1 and dismissing the Dogs by 20 points last round proving just how damaging they can be when on song.

It is hard to deny that Melbourne look like a much better side with Daisy Pearce back in the mix. The skilful footballer can extract the footy out of congestion and use the ball efficiently by hand or foot adding that touch of class to an already strong side. Teammates, Karen Paxman and Elise O’Dea provide an experienced head across the field something they will be hoping to use against a relatively young and inexperienced Saints side. Libby Birch is a ball magnet and will be hoping to once again have a profound impact across the ground with her silky skills. In their second year of AFLW youngsters Tyla Hanks and Shelley Heath have been building into some hot form with their tackling pressure the key aspect of their game play.

Despite taking it to the Crows last round, St Kilda let it slip when it counted and will be hoping for a more rounded four quarter performance against some tough opposition. The Saints have plenty of young talent with Rising Star nominee Georgia Patrikios leading the pack with her cleanliness below her knees, quick hands and spatial awareness. Patrikios has made a seamless transition into AFLW with fellow draftee Tarni White also making a splash with an impressive 18 disposals last round while Molly McDonald and Nicola Xenos will be hoping to leave a lasting imprint this round. Expect the young guns to look to the likes of Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Jessica Sedunary and Rhiannon Watt to lead the way and provide some guidance given their experience and high footy nous.

Tip: Melbourne by 22 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 T.Luke 22
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: C.Munn 13 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11

Emerg: S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: T.Luke, I.Shannon
Out: C.Fitzpatrick (concussion), C.Whitfort

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 M.Guerin 22 E.O’Dea 5

Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

In: M.Guerin
Out: A.Kemp (knee)

Saturday, February 22

Western Bulldogs v. Carlton at Whitten Oval, 3:10pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

The Western Bulldogs will be hoping to take advantage of their home ground and inflict pain on the Blues who were well and truly shocked last round by Collingwood. The Dogs have had an up and down start to the 2020 season getting an easy win in the opening round and then well held in Round 2 much like their opposition making for an interesting battle on Saturday. Both sides will be vying for their second win and given it is a short season a win here means everything. But after a seething comment last round expect the Blues to come out firing on all cylinders.

After a relatively disappointing outing the Dogs will be hoping to right their wrongs and get back on the winners list. Once again Bonnie Toogood provided the pressure up forward and will have to keep that going if they are to topple the Blues. The likes of Aisling McCarthy and Naomi Ferres have stepped up to the plate with their ball winning ability on full display while the likes of best and fairest winner Ellie Blackburn is in ripping form. Blackburn is a machine in the midfield able to dig deep and provide a constant threat. Both Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia still have plenty to develop but have shown promising signs with their physical pressure and ability to hunt the footy.

Carlton have a plethora of stars across the ground, none bigger than ball magnet and bull Maddy Prespakis with the 20-year-old not afraid to burrow in. She struggled at times throughout Round 2 given the heavy tag but has shown that she has the class, strength and smarts to think her way through challenges pairing with the likes of fellow youngster Grace Egan. The two proved to be a dominant force last round and will be seeking to replicate their form again this round. After an early goal Tayla Harris faded out of the game against Collingwood something that she won’t let happen twice with the talented footballer able to pluck balls from the sky and kick truly. Another one in the forward brigade that will be seeking retribution is Darcy Vescio who failed to find the big sticks but has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with her goal sense and forward pressure.

Tip: Carlton by 14.

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 I.Huntington 4 H.Scott 22 B.Lochland 1

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 H.Munyard 20

In: I.Huntington, B.Lochland
Out: N.Callinan, A.Van Oosterwijck

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 C.Jones 22

In: J.Edwards
Out: J.Doonan

Gold Coast v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 4.10pm AEST

Tom Cheesman

The first ever AFLW Q Clash will be played on Saturday in the Sunshine State, as expansion side Gold Coast look to topple their undefeated Conference A rival Brisbane. The Lions are sitting pretty on top of the table thanks to a dominant round one victory over Adelaide and a come-from-behind win on the road against Geelong. Meanwhile, the Suns evened their ledger at 1-1 last weekend with an 11-point victory over fellow newcomers Richmond. Both sides have strong percentages to work with and are building momentum heading into round three, so this contest should be a belter.

Ex-North Melbourne and Brisbane midfielder Jamie Stanton has been Gold Coast’s most reliable player through the opening two rounds, rated best for the SUNS by Draft Central in both matches. She averages 18 disposals, four tackles and two marks so far this season. Leah Kaslar was great last week with 15 disposals and four tackles, while Kate Surman is proving to be an excitement machine for the Suns up forward. Northern Territory recruit Tayla Thorn will look to make an impact in defence for the hosts in what will be her first match of the season.

Brisbane NAB rising star nominee Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw plans on replicating last week’s entertaining three-goal performance. She trails Fremantle’s Sabreena Duffy by one in the race for the AFLW Leading Goalkicker award and would love to take the lead through a dominant performance against the Suns. Lion midfielders Emily Bates and Ally Anderson led from the front in Geelong with 38 disposals between them, while Lily Postlethwaite is showing plenty of physicality early in her debut season. She has amassed 11 tackles over the first two rounds and with a physical clash set to take place on Saturday, this number should continue to rise.

Tip: Brisbane by 9.

GOLD COAST

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

Emerg: S.Riley 8 A.Hamilton 30

In: T.Thorn
Out: S.Riley

BRISBANE

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

Emerg: J.Ellenger 5 J.Zanchetta 2

In: None
Out: None

Fremantle v. Collingwood at Fremantle Oval, 7:10pm

Taylah Melki

The top of the table clash will bring plenty of excitement with both sides undefeated and looking to make it three straight wins. It is fair to say that both the Dockers and Collingwood have shocked the competition with just how well they are going with Fremantle romping it home last round against cross-town rivals. Collingwood have found a new lease on life with their running style of play paying dividends and often giving them first purchase on the footy whereas the Dockers have a more attacking style.

Scoring has proven no issue for the Dockers posting some hefty totals already this season with the likes of leading goal kicker Sabreena Duffy doing a wealth of damage on the scoreboard. Both Kara Antonio and Ebony Antonio have proven to be a deadly duo with their tackling pressure and intensity a constant feature of their game. Roxy Roux bounded into Rising Star contention last week with a couple of impressive grabs and two goals to her name an effort she will want to repeat again this week while Mim Strom is continuing to ply her trade. Kiara Bowers had a best on field performance last week getting her hands to ball with ease and disposing of it cleanly with teammates Evangeline Gooch and Katie-Jayne Greive others who can inflict pain on the Pies if left unattended.

The return of Magpies star Chloe Molloy has been everything the club could have asked for with her running ability, hard edge and cleanliness along with her versatility a key aspect to the line-up. Molloy is a real excitement machine while livewire Jaimee Lambert has gone from strength to strength already and it is only entering Round 3. The potential return of the injured Bri Davey could further bolster Collingwood’s midfield stocks making them an ominous threat for the Dockers. Defensively the Pies have stood up to the task with damaging duo Stacey Livingstone and Ash Brazill acting as a wall down back and propelling anything that comes their way while in the ruck Sharni Layton has taken her craft to a whole other level. Brittany Bonnici and Mikayla Cann have been in ripping form for the black and white army and will be hoping to front up once again to get their side over the line.

Tip: Fremantle by 10.

FREMANTLE

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

Emerg: E.O’Driscoll 3 M.Clifford 4

In: None
Out: None

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 C.Molloy 2
C: S.Rowe 7 S.Casey 22 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 B.Bonnici 8
F: M.Cann 25 R.Schleicher 18
Foll: S.Layton 1 E.Fowler 15 S.D’Arcy 4
I/C: S.Dargan 46 B.Davey 3 J.Allen 6 J.Membrey 21 K.Stratton 41

Emerg: M.Shevlin 35 E.O’Dea 50

In: R.Schleicher, B.Davey, K.Stratton
Out: E.O’Dea, S.Alexander, M.Shevlin

Sunday, February 23

Greater Western Sydney v West Coast, Blacktown International Stadium, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Kicking off proceedings on Sunday, one of the expansion clubs makes its longest trip yet when West Coast crosses the country to face GWS GIANTS at Blacktown. The Eagles have shown signs in their opening two games, but have ultimately been overwhelmed, while the GIANTS survived an almighty scare in Round 1 to just get the points against Gold Coast, before going down to North Melbourne last week. It was lucky the GIANTS did get the win against the SUNS, or they could be all but out of the finals race if they dropped this match as well. As it stands, that is the predicament facing West Coast, with realistically three losses the maximum a team could have and still make finals, though not many would expect West Coast to make the post-season series in its first season. The GIANTS on the otherhand are desperate to get there having not yet tasted finals action in three seasons.

The GIANTS have a consistent list across the board with a lot of underrated stars. Alicia Eva and Alyce Parker are a damaging duo in the competition, with Parker one of the top few talents in her second year. She has worked well winning the hard ball out of the middle and using her skills, while Eva’s evasion and speed make her a damaging prospect out of congestion or in space on a wing. The GIANTS have an experienced defence that just nullifies opposition forwards, with Tanya Hetherington and Pepa Randall back on the last line, and Jess Dal Pos providing the touch of class off half-back. Up forward, Cora Staunton is always a player you have to watch out for as an opposition defender, while Rebecca Privitelli is enjoying career-best form. Also in good form is ex-Crow Jess Allen, who becomes even more crucial in this clash in the absence of All-Australian ruck Erin McKinnon.

Parris Laurie will look to continue her great form through the middle as the leading tap ruck, amassing more than 20 hitouts a game so far. She has a very strong midfield at her feet, with Dana Hooker a top five player in the league, and captain Emma Swanson a real talent with ball-in-hand. Imahra Cameron has genuinely lit up moments in games with her breakaway speed and has been a huge inclusion into the side as a mature-age recruit. Mikayla Bowen provides the toughness around the contest, and McKenzie Dowrick adds the class and skill playing off half-back. While the Eagles forward line is still learning to function as a unit, former Dockers, Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins make a damaging duo, and once the midfield and forward lines can link-up regularly, they will be a strong force.

Tip: GWS by 20.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: J.Dal Pos 7 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: Y.Bonner 27 A.Eva – C 2 R.Beeson 6
HF: A.Schmidt 11 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: I.Nielsen 25 R.Privitelli 19
Foll: J.Allan 39 B.Tully 36 A.Parker 3
I/C: N.Barr 8 L.Steane 20 J.Barclay 34 L.Stephenson 12 H.Zreika 24 T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: J.Barclay, T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: E.McKinnon

WEST COAST

B: C.Perera 27 T.Radan 26
HB: B.Smith 14 S.McDonald 35 M.Dowrick 5
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: A.Atkins 9 K.Gibson 2 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 T.Tester 23
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: B.Devlyn 7 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32 C.Davidson 33 D.Pisconeri 11

In: E.Bonser, C.Davidson
Out: None

Richmond v North Melbourne, Ikon Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The Sunday mid-afternoon game pits an expansion side against one of last year’s expansion teams when Richmond plays host to North Melbourne at Ikon Park. The Tigers enter this game without a win on the board just yet, and suffered defeats at the hands of Carlton and Gold Coast SUNS who are also 1-1 having lost their other respective matches. North Melbourne also sits at 1-1 from its two games, having gone down to Melbourne in a tight one out at Casey Fields, before bouncing back with a win over the GIANTS in Tasmania last week. It is fair to say the star-studded talent of North Melbourne will head in as strong favourites for this game, but with a number of fresh faces coming into Richmond’s team, it will be interesting to see how they line-up.

Joining Richmond’s extended squad in the game are debutant Ella Wood – with the former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder named on the wing – as well as potential debutants, Ciara Fitzgerald and surprise non-listed call-up, Hannah McLaren. Both have been named on the extended bench in case of any injuries, while Tayla Stahl misses with a hamstring problem. The Tigers have a strong top-end with Monique Conti and Katie Brennan leading the midfield. Brennan copped flak throughout the week in the media and is likely to come out firing to silence the critics, which the North Melbourne midfield will have to be aware of for this game. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick provides a tall marking target, while Christina Bernardi and Kodi Jacques have been in good form this season. In defence, Akec Makur Chuot and Phoebe Monahan are just quietly going about their business but are statistically the top one-two duo when thinking about marks and rebounds. Wood adds extra hardness at the contest, and joins GWV teammate Sophie Molan, and a number of other youngsters, such as Laura McClelland and Sarah Sansonetti in the team.

North Melbourne’s depth is one of the envies of the competition and there is a reason the Roos headed into the 2020 season as the premiership favourites. With a strong list despite missing one of its stars in Jess Duffin (maternity leave), North Melbourne has more players that stand up in big moments than any other side. Emma Kearney is a Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner a couple of seasons ago and well heralded, but the work of Jenna Bruton and recently, Ash Riddell should not be underestimated. With Jasmine Garner in career-best form – which is saying something – and Kaitlyn Ashmore roving at the feet of Emma King up forward, the Roos have plenty of scoring options.They are missing that Duffin-type role off half-back, though Tahlia Randall and Danielle Hardiman have provided good strength in the air for the midfielders who drop back and help out to run the ball down the field. Overall, this North Melbourne side on paper should win this game fairly easily, but as we know with any match, games are not won on paper.

Tip: North Melbourne by 28.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 A.Makur Chuot 34
HB: L.McClelland 16 P.Monahan 2 G.Seymour 28
C: E.Wood 17 K.Brennan – C 3 R.Miller 15
HF: S.Frederick 14 K.Jacques 10 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 M.Brancatisano 5
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 G.Campbell 43
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 S.Molan 1 A.Woodward 13 H.Burchell 9 H.McLaren 29 C.Fitzgerald 26

In: E.Wood, H.McLaren, C.Fitzgerald
Out: T.Stahl (hamstring)

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

In: B.Lynch, M.King
Out: None

Geelong v Adelaide, GMHBA Stadium, 5.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The final game of the round might well be the best of the lot, perhaps barring the top of the table clash between the Dockers and Magpies. Geelong is hungry for a win, sitting at 0-2 despite statistically looking pretty good across the board and plenty of their teenage talents stepping up already in season 2020. Adelaide has been the walking wounded, having to bring in a top-up player back in Round 1 due to the multitude of injuries, and then bouncing back with a win – albeit not entirely convincing – over newcomers St Kilda. This feels like a game that could make or break both these side’s seasons. Geelong win, and the Cats are back in contention, while they lose and it is pretty much curtains for season 2020 unless they really get on a roll. Adelaide win, and the Crows are flying high on confidence and can sustain it long enough to receive some extra troops in the run home to finals, while they lose and the reigning premiers will be in a bit of trouble for their title defence aspirations.

Geelong lost at home last week to Brisbane, and will want to give the home fans who turn up for the second week in a row something to cheer about. The Cats have lost promising youngster, Denby Taylor to an ankle injury, but have regained All-Australian defender Meg McDonald, which would be a huge relief for coach Paul Hood. Maddy Boyd and Rebecca Goring have been added to the squad as well for the clash, as Geelong understands the importance of a win here for its finals calculations. The core group of second year players in the blue and white hoops have been simply sensational and a blueprint for clubs going forward. Olivia Purcell is in the top five ball winners across the league, while Rebecca Webster has been a marking machine and is the most improved player in the competition. Along with Sophie Van De Heuvel and 2018 AFL Women’s number one draft pick Nina Morrison, the Cats have a plethora of talent across the board. They still have more to get out of some of the depth around the ground, but with McDonald back, it releases some of the pressure off captain Mel Hickey, while Phoebe McWilliams will enjoy having Boyd back in the side as another target up forward.

The Crows go in with top selection from last year’s draft, Montana McKinnon – who dominated in the SANFL Women’s competition last week – and Courtney Cramey of whom both have been added to the extended side. The midfield duo of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff is ranked first and second in terms of disposals won, while Eloise Jones have gained some important minutes in the absence of star, Erin Phillips. Up forward, Nikki Gore and Danielle Ponter have improved in their second year, adding extra dimensions to the side, while Courtney Gum‘s new role as a deep forward has been important in providing leadership around the young players. The midfield battle between these teams will be fascinating, and if the Crows can continue their ball-winning and stoppage ways, then expect their forwards to have a good day in Geelong. But if the Cats can neutralise the midfield, then they will also have a huge chance of taking out the contest.

Tip: Geelong by 4.

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Webster 21 N.Morrison 9
HF: J.Crockett-Grills 6 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: M.Boyd 26 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 R.Cranston 30 O.Purcell 16
I/C: M.Maguire 7 D.Higgins 2 G.Rankin 10 R.Caris 1 G.Clarke 17 R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3

In: M.McDonald, M.Boyd, R.Goring
Out: D.Taylor (ankle)

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: S.Li 19 M.Rajcic 32 C.Cramey 22
C: A.Foley – C 3 A.Hatchard 33 J.Mules 23
HF: N.Gore 7 C.Gould 1 S.Thompson 14
F: C.Gum 5 D.Ponter 15
Foll: J.Foley 24 E.Marinoff 10 E.Jones 2
I/C: A.Considine 16 M.McKinnon 21 C.Biddell 12 N.Allen 8 M.Newman 17 N.Campbell 20 R.Forth 27

In: C.Cramey, M.McKinnon
Out: None

ROUND 3 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [10]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Taylah Melki [12]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Collingwood / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Sophie Taylor [10]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Peter Williams [9]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Geelong

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 Round 1 review: Pies win opening round as Lions upset reigning premiers

BRISBANE’s youth stepped up downing reigning premiers Adelaide at home, as Collingwood claimed its first win in Round 1 from four tries. All four expansion sides suffered defeats, with the Gold Coast SUNS getting within one point of victory against the GIANTS. We recap the remaining six games after our Match of the Round saw Melbourne topple North Melbourne at Casey Fields.

RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.2 (14)
CARLTON 1.5 | 1.8 | 5.9 | 6.12 (48)

By: Michael Alvaro

Richmond’s induction into the AFLW proved a baptism of fire as Carlton outclassed the Tigers to come up 34-point winners in Friday night’s season opener. The Blues looked at home on the Ikon Park turf, outmuscling the league newcomers through the engine room and having all the territory in the 6.12 (48) to 2.2 (14) drubbing. Signs were ominous early despite the scoreline not suggesting as much, with Katie Loynes’ first term major the only one in the opening half as Carlton failed to translate its dominance to scoreboard pressure. Even still, the Blues’ midfield trio of Loynes, Madison Prespakis, and Sarah Hosking brutalised that of the Tigers, setting the tone with their work rate, punishing pressure, and superior contested ball winning to get well on top.

The 2019 Rising Star, Prespakis then took over after the main break, inspiring her side to a game-breaking four-goal to nil third term as things began to look ugly. But things were not all bad for the Tigers, with boom forward recruit Sabrina Frederick making history as she slotted Richmond’s first ever AFLW goal three minutes into the final quarter, receiving a good pop from the adoring crowd. Fellow tall target Courtney Wakefield also joined in on the goalkicking action, getting on the end of a fantastic bit of transitional play to give fans a glimpse of what the Tigers may be capable of in time. Monique Conti (13 disposals, four tackles) was arguably the best in a losing side, combining through midfield with skipper, Katie Brennan (10 disposals) but lacking the grunt to turn the game around. Phoebe Monahan and Christina Bernardi also stood up in the yellow and black, while Akec Makur Chuot was terrific in an under-siege defence, positioning expertly to intercept and rebound assuredly.

For the Blues, Prespakis picked up from where she left off in 2019, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles on her way to best afield honours. Hosking worked like the Energizer bunny in the first half to finish with 17 touches, while captain Loynes had it 13 times and Lucy McEvoy debuted impressively with 12 disposals and five marks. The dynamic forward targets of Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio proved troublesome inside 50, while ruck Breann Moody showed improvement from the middle. The Blues will again feature at Ikon Park up next, set to face another traditional rival and bunny side in Collingwood, while the Tigers travel up to Queensland to face fellow newcomer, Gold Coast on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield, S. Frederick.
Carlton:
T. Harris, M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, A. Downie, K. Loynes, B. Walker.

ADC BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, A. Makur Chuot, C. Bernardi, C. Wakefield, P. Monahan, S. Frederick
Carlton:
M. Prespakis, L. McEvoy, S. Hosking, K. Loynes, T. Harris, B. Moody

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)
GOLD COAST 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

By: Nikki Jamieson

GWS narrowly avoided a loss in torrential weather to the Suns in Blacktown doing just enough to limp over the line. The match favourites had to work hard for their victory while the Suns looked to kick off their 2020 campaign with a fairy-tale beginning, taking advantage of the conditions to show that they should not be underestimated. Gold Coast denied any easy access to goals for the GIANTS only registering two points up until half time before the gears started to kick in, in the third term to apply scoreboard pressure. Both sides worked tirelessly, not willing to give an inch and scrapping hard to win the slippery footy but in the end it was the experience of GWS that prevailed.

Gold Coast’s Brittany Perry made history, kicking the team’s debut AFLW goal in the early in the match resulting in an early lead. The experienced co-captains, in Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar, were able to keep the young team under control. Breakout stars for the Suns included ex-Lion Jacqui Yorston who proved she was a tackling machine with a whopping 12 tackles to her name along with 13 disposals while Jamie Stanton also made an impact with 15 disposals and five tackles.

Thankfully for the home side, they gained their lead back through a goal late in the third term by Aimee Schmidt. GWS’ experience proved to be the decider, as outstanding second and third efforts by Alyce Parker led the way racking up 22 disposals and five tackles. Re-listed Rebecca Privitelli was a key factor in the GIANTS narrow win, with 14 disposals and a potentially match winning behind. New captain Alicia Eva had a similarly influential game, with 17 disposals and six tackles.

In Round 2 both teams play on the Saturday again, with GWS taking on North Melbourne in Tasmania and the Suns have their first home match against Richmond at Metricon Stadium.

GOALS:

GIANTS: A. Schmidt.
Gold Coast: B. Perry.

ADC BEST:

GIANTS: A. Parker, A. Eva, B. Tully, C. Staunton, H. Zreika, R. Privitelli.
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, S. Virgo, J. Yorston, H. Dunn, B. Perry, L. Ahrens.

COLLINGWOOD 0.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 5.8 (38)
WEST COAST EAGLES 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.5 (11)

By: Taylah Melki

It was a history making performance for both sides with Eagles captain Dana Hooker scoring the first goal in her club’s inaugural match while also racking up 18 touches. But that was where the fairytale ended for West Coast, with Collingwood securing their first win in Round 1 in AFLW history. It was a sluggish start to the match for the Magpies who went scoreless in the opening term thanks to the Eagles mountain load of defensive pressure applying strong bumps and tackles. But the tables slowly turned in favour of the Pies with Collingwood peppering the forward 50 and capitalising on their opportunities.

After 693 days out of the game, fan favourite and former Rising Star, Chloe Molloy made her presence felt across the footy field nailing the Pies opening goal of the match and racking up 10 touches. Captain, Steph Chiocci also starred in the black and white leading from the front and slotting a nice goal on the run to get her sides nose in front. Former Diamonds goal keeper, Sharni Layton followed suit with a history making performance kicking her first AFLW goal, while Jaimee Lambert and Sarah D’Arcy also found the big sticks with ease. Defensively the Collingwood duo of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone seemed impossible to break through with the two reading the play with ease and picking off passes willy nilly. Brazill made the most of her speed and dynamic movement while Livingstone showcased her strong set of hands. But their victory was soured by a suspected lower leg injury to star recruit Bri Davey who went down midway through the third quarter.

The Eagles had glimpses of magic with Emma Swanson a ball magnet across the ground with her 18 disposals, while teammate Imahra Cameron was a real live wire tackling hard and running the ground with ease. Youngster Mikayla Bowen was also a tackling machine collecting a game-high 10 tackles and while she did not win a heap of the ball, her off the ball pressure was through the roof. Despite a dominant first quarter, West Coast simply could not maintain that high intensity pace allowing Collingwood to wear them down and poke holes in their defence to claim first spot on the ladder.

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Layton, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci
West Coast: D. Hooker

ADC BEST: 

Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, S. Livingstone, B. Bonnici.
West Coast: D.Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen, I. Cameron, M. Dowrick.

BRISBANE 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
ADELAIDE 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

By: Taylah Melki

The Brisbane Lions kicked off their 2020 campaign in style defeating the reigning premiers in style. The Lions got the jump on the Crows early opening up a two-goal lead and did not look back steadily building their attacking momentum and only allowing Adelaide to score one goal up until the fourth quarter. Adelaide fought back in the last quarter to add some respectability to the score line and prove they still have what it takes to score freely despite being well held for majority of the match.

Lauren Arnell was electric for the Lions using her physicality and go get it attitude to win the ball at the coal face while also hitting the scoreboard. Arnell led the way for Brisbane with two majors while reliable defender Kate Lutkins was up to her usual tricks with 17 disposals 14 of which were kicks. In her debut game, Lily Postlethwaite plied her trade across the field amassing nine touches and showcasing her physical intent laying five tackles. Ally Anderson was in hot form racking up the touches across the field with 16, while Emma Zielke did not muck around collecting 15 touches.

Although it was not the Crows day, Anne Hatchard made history with a whopping 35 touches in what was a complete performance from the talented midfield. In the absence of Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, Hatchard stood up and seemed to have the ball on a string while also controlling both the forward and defensive 50. Teammate Ebony Marinoff also played a major role for the Crows with the 22-year-old amassing 21 disposals and throwing her weight around with six tackles. Marinoff was not afraid to go in hard at the contest and extract the footy, using her awareness and vision to sight players in space. New recruit Courtney Gum hit the scoreboard in her first outing as a Crow while Angela Foley also added a major. Sarah Allan showcased her skill set to cover the ground well and win the ball at the coal face with 18 disposals but unfortunately it was not enough to get them over the line, with Brisbane running out comfortably.

GOALS:

Brisbane: (2) L. Arnell, O. O’Dwyer, G. Bodey, J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw.
Adelaide: C.Gum, N.Gore, A. Foley.

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: L. Arnell, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, E. Zielke, L. Postlethwaite
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Foley, C. Gum

ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 | 5.1 | 5.2 | 6.3 (39)

By: Peter Williams

A fast-starting Western Bulldogs team has outclassed St Kilda in its inaugural game, playing the role of party poopers at the Saints’ homecoming to RSEA Park, Moorabbin. The Bulldogs booted the first three goals of the game, including two to Bonnie Toogood and one to Danielle Marshall – who broke history becoming the first American to kick a goal in the AFL Women’s competition. With the game starting to slip by, the Saints gave the crowd something to cheer about with Georgia Patrikios combining with Molly McDonald to slot through the latter’s first in her AFL Women’s career.

The Dogs headed into the the break with a three-goal lead, and while the Saints were never able to head them, it was a much closer contest in the remaining three quarters. St Kilda stepped up and lifted its defensive pressure and used the ball better, booting a last quarter goal to Jess Sedunary – the final one of the match to counter the Western Bulldogs’ only goal of the half – to Kirsty Lamb – which ended any hope of the home side coming back and put it out to a game-high 32 points. The final 25-point margin was an accurate representation of the game, with the Bulldogs a bit too slick and too experienced for the young Saints.

Patrikios looked at home in the competition on debut, racking up 18 touches, two marks, three inside 50s and five tackles, while setting up the Saints’ opening goal with a lovely kick across 50 to hit-up a free McDonald, using her elite vision to find her in space. McDonald herself was very impressive with 12 touches – all kicks – four marks, three tackles, two rebounds, one inside 50 and a goal, while Olivia Vesely also stood out with the second most disposals of anyone in the red, white and black, picking up 14 disposals, one mark and four tackles.

For the Dogs, Ellie Blackburn showed just how elite she is with a standout performance of 17 touches, four marks, five tackles and a poster that caused a premature celebration from the captain believing it had split the big sticks. Hannah Scott and Lamb also picked up 17 disposals each, recording a combined five marks and 10 tackles, while number one draft pick, Gabby Newton had 13 disposals and eight tackles, playing off half-forward and having stints on-ball.

GOALS: 

St Kilda: M. McDonald, J. Sedunary.
Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, D. Marshall, B. Hunt, K. Lamb, B. Hunt.

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, O. Vesely, H. Priest, K. McCarthy, N. Exon
Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Hunt, K. Lamb. H. Scott, A. McCarthy, K. Rennie

FREMANTLE 1.0 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 6.8 (44)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

By: Michael Alvaro

Fremantle made the ideal start in its quest to go one better than its preliminary final-making 2019 campaign, kicking away late to topple Geelong by 16 points on home turf. Fremantle young gun Sabreena Duffy played a starring role, booting more than half of her side’s score with four goals in the 6.8 (44) to 4.4 (28) triumph.

While the Dockers enjoyed plenty of time in their forward half with 48 inside 50s to 13, the Cats controlled the uncontested ball and transitioned well while making better use of their opportunities up forward. It meant the visiting side had an answer for each challenge, with the two sides going goal-for-goal in the first three terms with the margin not breaching seven points either way. But Duffy’s fourth goal and one followed by Gemma Houghton sealed the deal for Fremantle late in the final term, with the winners made to earn their first set of premiership points.

Duffy was the spearhead up forward, but had good support in the form of Houghton (17 disposals, five tackles, 1.3) and star debutant Roxanne Roux (seven disposals, 1.2), while Kiara Bowers took on a mammoth workload with 22 touches and 14 tackles from midfield. The Cats’ top end was made to work hard, with promising youngster Olivia Purcell racking up a game-high 27 disposals, while Julia Crockett-Grills (22 disposals, five marks), Rebecca Webster (21 disposals, seven marks), and Madeline Keryk (20 disposals, four marks) stood up in Geelong’s defensive half. Richelle Cranston had arguably the highlight of the day with her second term goal, handballing to herself on the break and slamming the ball home, while Nina Morrison made a steady return to action with a goal from nine touches. A home fixture is up next for the Cats as the Lions come to town, while Fremantle is set to play out in the inaugural AFLW Western derby on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Fremantle: S. Duffy 4, G. Houghton, R. Roux.
Geelong: G. Clarke, R. Cranston, M. Maguire, N. Morrison.

ADC BEST:

Fremantle: S. Duffy, K. Bowers, G. Houghton, R. Roux, H. Miller, K. Antonio
Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Cranston, R. Webster, M. Keryk, D. Taylor

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

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

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

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

CARLTON

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

Saturday, February 8

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

GOLD COAST

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

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

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

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

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

ADELAIDE

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

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

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

WEST COAST

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

ST KILDA

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

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

GEELONG

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

ROUND 1 TIPS:

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

2020 AFL Women’s season predictions

WITH the 2020 AFLW season set to commence tomorrow night, we take a look at three potential leading goal kickers, MVPs, premiership favourites and Rising Stars contenders, as well as give our predictions for the season ahead.

Leading goal kickers:

Collingwood – Jaimee Lambert

The talented forward caused many headaches last year with her deceptive speed, strong goal sense and determination. Lambert is a ball magnet in the forward 50 thanks to her sticky hands and skill to get goal side and shoot truly. She is a real excitement machine able to have an impact both in the air and at ground level. Lambert took out the VFLW leading goal kicker in 2019 proving just how dangerous she can be when given time and space to do what she does best and will be looking to bring home the AFLW leading goal kicker title in 2020.

Richmond – Katie Brennan

The key forward will want to make a lasting impact in her new colours and lead from the front with her scoring prowess. The Richmond captain is renowned for her strong leading patterns and strength on the take to reel the ball in despite oncoming pressure. She is relatively accurate in front of goal and has a good turn of speed to attack the goal sticks when need be. Brennan is hard to stop when she is on song able to hit the scoreboard multiple times with her strong marking a key aspect of her game.

Adelaide – Stevie-Lee Thompson

After a stellar 2019 the Crows star will be hoping to back up her performance and make it back-to-back leading goal kicker honours. She is a real livewire at ground level for Adelaide with her smooth pick-ups and electric speed, pair that with her accuracy and Thompson is a dangerous prospect for opposing teams. She is a dynamic mover across the field able to lead up at the footy and take a big grab consistently showcasing her impressive skillset in front of goals.

MVP:

North Melbourne – Emma Kearney

The 2018 MVP will be hoping to back up her stellar past couple of seasons once again in 2020 and guide her side to their inaugural grand final. Kearney can win the ball in any situation able to read the play and constantly get involved. She is a real ball magnet across the field using her on-field leadership to direct traffic and set up both offensively and defensively. She oozes class and composure able to think her way through congestion.

West Coast – Dana Hooker

The former Dockers midfielder made the switch to West Coast and will be hoping to have an immediate impact with her ball winning abilities. She works tirelessly across the field to win the ball at the coalface while her cleanliness with ball in hand puts her in good stead to take out the award. Hooker backs herself in a contest using her footy smarts to out think her opponents while her on-field leadership is another key facet of her game play.

Adelaide – Ebony Marinoff

Marinoff is a physical beast consistently putting her body on the line to win the ball and impose herself on the contest. She is a real leader on the field and will have to stand up in the absence of Phillips and Randall. The Crows star has been a consistent performer unfazed by the physical battle often extracting the ball out of congestion and delivering to teammates in space. She can turn a game on its head able to hit the scoreboard while also get back and do the defensive things well.

Rising Star:

Carlton – Lucy McEvoy:

The former Geelong Falcons captain led from the front throughout her time in the NAB League using her on-field leadership and bullish go-get it attitude to extract the ball time and time again. McEvoy is one of a kind able to slot into any vacant spot on the footy field and fulfil the role to the utmost level thanks to her high level of skill and class with ball in hand. She is a smart player able to think her way through pressure and hit a teammate lace out making her a class above many other. It will be a challenge to play against some of the bigger bodies in the AFLW but if her time in the VFLW is anything to go by it won’t really phase the talented midfielder.

St Kilda – Georgia Patrikios:

Much like McEvoy, Patrikios oozes composure and class able to manoeuvre her way out of traffic and deliver well-weighted handballs to teammates. She works hard to win the ball at the coalface unfazed by the physical nature of the game instead, embracing the contest and nine times out 10 winning it. She is a smooth mover across the field and uses her vision to full effect able to dish off a pass lace out to someone in space. The former Calder Cannons captain is no stranger to the big stage and stands up under pressure making her an exciting prospect for the Saints in 2020.

Brisbane – Lily Postlethwaite

The young Queensland product has skill and class to boot able to weave her way in and out of traffic with ease. The 18-year-old captained Queensland in the AFLW Under 18 Championships and will be looking to bring that natural born leadership to the contest for the Lions. Postlethwaite will offer great versatility to Brisbane with her impressive vision, clean hands and high footy IQ a couple of her main tricks.

Premiership contenders:

Adelaide:

The two-time premiers will be looking to add to their premiership tally in 2020 having tasted success last year. Unfortunately, the Crows have been struck down with a host of injuries with Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall both suffering ACL injuries. But they should not be forgotten about, given their ability to turn games on their head within seconds. Expect the likes of Ebony Marinoff, Courtney Gum and Courtney Cramey to do the damage across the field for the Crows while the likes of youngster Montana McKinnon is another one to keep an eye out.

Carlton:

It would be hard to discount the Blues after making it all the way to the grand final last year and although they lost the likes of Bri Davey over the off-season they have gained another potential rising star in McEvoy. Darcy Vescio and Tayla Harris have proven to be a dynamic duo in the forward 50 with the two able to cause havoc credit to their strong goal sense while through the midfield Maddy Prespakis has been a revelation thanks to her ball winning ability.

North Melbourne:

After a strong showing in the opening half of the 2019 season the Kangaroos fell away when it counted but will be looking to make amends in 2020 and go one better. North definitely, have the star power to take the competition by storm and really announce themselves on the rest of the competition with the likes of Emma Kearney and Emma King at the helm. Throw in the likes of Kaitlyn Ashmore and Jasmine Garner and the Roos will be a hard team to beat throughout the season.

OUR PREDICTIONS:

Michael Alvaro – 2019 Draft Central AFLW Tipping winner
Premier: Adelaide
Runner-up: North Melbourne
Big Improver: Collingwood
MVP: Ebony Marinoff
Leading Goalkicker: Tayla Harris
Rising Star: Gabrielle Newton

Taylah Melki
Premier: North Melbourne
Runner-up: Carlton
Big Improver: Collingwood
MVP: Bri Davey
Leading Goalkicker: Katie Brennan
Rising Star: Georgia Patrikios

Sophie Taylor
Premier: Richmond
Runner-up: Melbourne
Big Improver: Western Bulldogs
MVP: Emma Kearney
Leading Goalkicker: Stevie-Lee Thompson
Rising Star: Lucy McEvoy

Peter Williams
Premier: North Melbourne
Runner-up: Carlton
Big Improver: Western Bulldogs
MVP: Ellie Blackburn
Leading Goalkicker: Emma King
Rising Star: Millie Brown

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: West Coast

WITH a plethora of talent heading up the West Coast Eagles in their inaugural season, the real question will be whether they can find the consistency they need to really contend in the competition having not rally played together all that much prior to the season. With players coming from across Australia it is not a question of ability but really of whether they can rally as a team in their first season together.

KEY PLAYER: Dana Hooker (midfielder)

A real ball magnet, Hooker made the jump from Fremantle to West Coast over the trade period, making for a key player on the Eagles’ list as one of the upper echelon in the AFL Women’s. With speed, class and endurance to boot, Hooker can have an impact wherever required and rarely puts a foot wrong on the field.

RISING STAR: Mikayla Bowen (midfielder)

The tough midfielder has a wealth of talent and will look to really make her mark on the competition in her inaugural season. With clean skills, speed and an ability to find the footy, Bowen will want to break into the side and stand up the same way she did in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under 18 championships – where she was named MVP for Western Australia.

WATCH FOR: Mckenzie Dowrick (utility)

The Eagles were quick to nab Dowrick from Brisbane over the trade period, returning the classy left footer to her home state. With clean hands and strength to boot, Dowrick will apply some good pressure in the air while her height, youth and reliability make her a handy inclusion for the side.

— 

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

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – @ Collingwood
Round 2 – vs. Fremantle
Round 3 – @ GWS GIANTS
Round 4 – vs. Western Bulldogs
Round 5 – @ Melbourne
Round 6 – vs. Gold Coast Suns
Round 7 – @ Carlton
Round 8 – vs. St Kilda

West Coast have an interesting fixture for their inaugural season, taking on their state rivals Fremantle in Round 2, with the Dockers coming off an impressive 2019. The Eagles are fortunate to miss out on taking on reigning premiers, Adelaide, but do come up against Melbourne, a side with a very settled list and Carlton, a side with impressive young talent, making for an unpredictable season. They will host fellow expansion sides in Round 6 (Gold Coast) and Round 8 (St Kilda), so will want to finish the season on a high against other new-look sides.

PREDICTION:  6th/7th in Conference B

While West Coast has some real talent among their ranks, they are unlikely to break through the pack in their inaugural year having not had a wealth of time together. While the teams in their conference are not necessarily the best in the business, their opposition has had plenty of time to iron out their flaws, while the Eagles have had to go from the ground up this season and are likely to be outclassed by cleaner, more settled teams.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: West Coast

WEST Coast might have the biggest question mark against itself for the 2020 AFL Women’s season. It is not a question of talent – the names on the Eagles’ list attest to that – but it is more a question of how the team will adapt to the structures in place and with one another purely because of the four expansion sides, West Coast is the only side not to have played together. St Kilda and Richmond both had VFL Women’s sides, Gold Coast had a Winter Series team, while West Coast has picked up a host of experience and youth from all over the country and it will be fascinating to see how the coaching staff throw the team together and see how fast they can jell at the elite level.

The Eagles were quick to list a couple of young stars on their list back in January, with Mikayla Bowen a standout prospect from Western Australia’s Under 18s, while Rosie Deegan is a talented dual-code basketballer. When the expansion club period opened in April, West Coast immediately went straight to the top, snaffling Fremantle star, Dana Hooker, whilst also convincing former Dockers, Ashlee Atkins, Melissa Caulfield, Brianna Green and Courtney Guard to come across, along with GWS GIANTS’ talent, Emma Swanson. Swanson was soon joined by GIANTS teammate, Maddy Collier, as well as Dockers, Parris Laurie, Kellie Gibson, Alicia Janz, and Western Bulldogs’ Belinda Smith.

The Eagles were more than happy to hand over Pick 13 for Brisbane’s McKenzie Dowrick, then grabbed former West Australian Kate Bartlett from the Dogs, and Cassie Davidson from the Dockers for bargain basement prices. They pre-listed one of the unluckiest players not to be on and AFL Women’s list currently in Essendon’s Hayley Bullas at the end of August, along with local talents from the West Australian Women’s Football League (WAWFL) in Emily Bosner, Beatrice Devlyn, Ashton Hill, Danika Piscoceri and Emily McGuire. Rounding out the pre-draft list, the Eagles picked up twin sisters, Grace and Niamh Kelly from Gaelic football as rookies, as well as Rugby union player, Mhicca Carter.

The Eagles did not have a first round pick in the AFL Women’s Draft, selecting Imahra Cameron with the club’s opening selection down at Pick 19. They had previously matched a bid to pick up Academy athlete Sophie McDonald at Pick 39, then picked up locals Tarnee Tester and Katherine Orme – the latter of whom was able to post about her own recruitment as the social media coordinator at the club. West Coast wrapped up the draft with a couple of Hawthorn VFL Women’s teammates in former Crow and Demon, Talia Radan, and the best on ground in the 2018 VFLW Grand Final Chantella Perera.

2020 TEAM LIST:

Ashlee Atkins
Emily Bonser
Mikayla Bowen
Hayley Bullas
Imahra Cameron
Melissa Caulfield
Maddy Collier
Cassie Davidson
Beatrice Devlyn
McKenzie Dowrick
Kellie Gibson
Brianna Green
Courtney Guard (nee Stubbs)
Ashton Hill
Dana Hooker
Alicia Janz
Emily McGuire
Katherine Orme
Danika Pisconeri
Chantella Perera
Talia Radan
Belinda Smith
Emma Swanson
Tarnee Tester

Rookies: Mhicca Carter, Grace Kelly, Niamh Kelly
Inactive list: Rosie Deegan (basketball)

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Cassie Davidson – Talia Radan – Belinda Smith
HB: McKenzie Dowrick – Sophie McDonald – Emma Swanson
C: Dana Hooker
HF: Melissa Caulfield – Kellie Gibson – Ashlee Atkins
F: Kate Bartlett – Emily McGuire  – Tarnee Tester
R: Parris Laurie – Mikayla Bowen – Emily Bonser
INT: Maddy Collier – Hayley Bullas – Imahra Cameron – Alicia Janz – Brianna Green

EMG: Danika Pisconeri – Beatrice Devlyn – Chantella Perera

DEPTH: Courtney Guard, Ashton Hill, Katherine Orme, Mhicca Carter, Grace Kelly, Niamh Kelly, Rosie Deegan

By far, the West Coast line-up is the hardest to predict for 2020, with plenty of depth through the midifield and defensive end, but more medium and small forwards than talls. They have a number of ruck options who might develop into key forwards, but the Eagles’ strength lies in its inside ball winning ability and danger at ground level once in side 50.

Hooker is the standout player in the side, though the youth of Bowen, Dowrick and McDonald will add to the future, while Swanson and Gibson are quality players on their day. The Eagles will head into the season as one of the underdog teams and hard to predict given their relative lack of matchday experience, but they have a good base for the future.

Newcomer Viney grows in short space of time

EIGHTEEN months ago, Rebecca Viney was running around for North Beach Football Club in Western Australia. While the Tigers are considered Western Australia’s most successful amateur team, it was a far cry from the AFL Women’s competition which at that stage was in its second season. It is hard to believe just two years later, Viney could be running around in just that – the elite level competition – after producing a remarkable rise to represent her state at the Under-18 Championships.

“I started footy last year in an amateur league,” Viney said. “So I played for North Beach Football Club and I just did it because I wanted to have a go at footy and I really enjoyed it and had a lot of fun and I managed to at the end of the season win the best player of the whole comp which was really surprising, but that’s what lead me on to go further and take the State Academy and come here.”

Viney said she loves running around with her teammates and experiencing the camaraderie that comes with Australian rules football. While she has the ultimate goal of getting drafted, she is not getting too far ahead of herself given her limited experience in the code.

“I’d love to go as far as AFLW but right now I just want to keep improving my skills and getting the best out of what I can,” she said. “My strengths are mainly are on the ground picking up ball and using my speed. “I want to keep improving my skills, my handballs, getting that efficiency.”

Viney said she was lucky in the sense she did not have as much travelling to do as some of her West Australian teammates, hailing from the city. But when she did cross the country for the Under-18 Championships, she loved it.

“(It’s a) whole new experience and I’m loving it,” Viney said. “Especially being exposed to the Victorian girls and their game and see how we compare to them. “I just want to keep improving my game like I said and each game keep improving on what I’m doing and learning from the coaches and implementing that in a game.”

As for an inspiration to follow, she has looked at her local West Australian Women’s Football Leagu club, Subiaco.

“Personally I think I look up to some of the AFLW girls,” Viney said. “At the moment playing at Subi, there’s Dana Hooker down there sometimes and she’s a really good player and I love watching her and it’s really cool.”

Weekend wash-up: AFLW – Preliminary Finals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFLW Team Selection: Preliminary Finals

WITH the preliminary finals set to commence this weekend all four sides have pulled out the big guns in the hope to secure a ticket to the grand final.

Shock waves were sent through the Dockers camp last week after Dana Hooker went down against North Melbourne but many will be happy to see her take the field after being cleared of any injury. Teammate Sabreena Duffy has been named in the team but under a big injury cloud after also going down last week.

There were also injury concerns around Adelaide co-captain, Chelsea Randall but the hard-nosed defender is set to pull on the jersey on Sunday, making her a big in for the Crows. Adelaide will be pleased to welcome back deadly forward, Jess Sedunary and defender, Nikki Gore who offer great value to the side.

After a controversial few days off the field, star Carlton forward, Tayla Harris will be set to make her mark on the competition and forge her side into AFLW history, while only one change was made with Jess Edwards named in the squad.

Unfortunately, the Cats will be without damaging forward, Phoebe McWilliams who is set to have surgery on her hand, but they will welcome back the likes of Anna Teague, Rebecca Webster and Georgia Clarke for their inaugural finals push.

CARLTON v. FREMANTLE
Prelim final: Ikon Park, 2.45pm AEDT
Saturday, March 23

CARLTON
B: J.Van Dyk 36 K.Harrington 9 N.Stevens 21
HB: C.Dalton 15 C.Wilson 20 G.Pound 6
C: B.Davey 1
HF: L.Brazzale 12 B.Moody 16 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
F: D.Vescio 3 T.Harris 7 B.Walker 14
Foll: A.Downie 30 M.Prespakis 4 S.Hosking 10
I/C: G.Gee 19 J.Edwards 25 K.Loynes 2 A.Mullane 8 J.Hosking 11
Emerg: N.Plane 32 R.Hicks 24

In: J.Edwards
Out: A.McKay (Omitted)

FREMANTLE
B: P.Laurie 11 T.Bresland 5 A.Stannett 24
HB: K.Donnellan – C 15 E.Gooch 8 P.Seth 18
C: K.Bowers 2
HF: A.Atkins 37 E.Antonio 12 H.Miller 19
F: K.Gibson 21 G.Houghton 27 A.Sharp 1
Foll: A.Janz 30 D.Hooker 17 S.Cain 20
I/C: L.Mascall 14 S.Duffy 6 G.O’Sullivan 22 M.Sergeant 23 M.Caulfield 10 
Emerg: L.Pugh 32 K.Grieve 13

In: –
Out: –

ADELAIDE v. GEELONG
Preliminary Final: Adelaide Oval, 12.40pm
ACDT Sunday, March 24

ADELAIDE
B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39 C.Cramey 22
HB: D.Varnhagen 9 C.Randall 26 A.Foley 3
C: E.Phillips 13
HF: J.Mules 23 M.Rajcic 32 D.Ponter 15
F: E.Jones 2 C.Scheer 4 S.Thompson 14
Foll: J.Foley 24 E.Marinoff 10 A.Hatchard 33
I/C: J.McCormick 5 A.Considine 16 J.Sedunary 17 S.Li 19 R.Forth 27 H.Martin 6 N.Gore 7

In: J.Sedunary, N.Gore
Out: –

GEELONG
B: A.Teague 40 R.Goring 44 M.McMahon 24
HB:M.Hickey – C 18 M.McDonald 11 D.Taylor 28
C: R.Cranston 30
HF: S.Van De Heuvel 27 M.Boyd 26 J.Crockett-Grills 6
F: J.Ivey 5 K.Darby 8 A.O’Connor 14
Foll: E.Hoare 46 R.Garing 12 O.Purcell 16
I/C: D.Orr 2 M.Clifford 7 H.Burchell 3 R.Webster 21 C.Blakeway 4 M.Keryk 45 G.Clarke 17

In: A.Teague, R.Webster, G.Clarke
Out: P.McWilliams (Injured)