Tag: Elise O’Dea

2020 AFL Women’s preview: Round 4 – Erin Phillips returns for Grand Final rematch

ROUND 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s season is set to be a big one, with a grand final rematch and a bushfire relief match among a number of key matchups. Melbourne has a third Friday night matchup in a row with a battle against Collingwood as a curtain-raiser to the men’s State of Origin for bushfire relief, while Adelaide and Carlton clash on Sunday afternoon with the massive and highly anticipated return of Erin Phillips in tow.

Friday, February 28

Collingwood v. Melbourne, Marvel Stadium, 5:35pm AEDT

Taylah Melki

In the curtain raiser to the AFL Bushfire Relief game at Marvel Stadium, Collingwood will be hoping to return to the winners list with a victory against the fourth placed Melbourne. The Pies were pipped at the post last round, despite dominating inside 50s and possession count and will need to rectify that if they are to win against a strong Demons outfit. It will be an evenly poised game with both teams winning two games and losing one apiece highlighting just how tight the competition is and more importantly how important a victory here would be for their finals chances.

Collingwood have improved rapidly in 2020 with their fast pace ball movement and running style of play on full display throughout each of their games. The return of Chloe Molloy has done wonders to the side with the talented footballer not afraid to get down and dirty, extracting the ball at the coalface and disposing of it cleanly. She is not the only valuable inclusion with Bri Davey making a name for herself in the black and white. Davey is a good ball user and often imposes herself with her physical nature while Jaimee Lambert has taken her game to another level with her attack on the footy and accuracy in front of goal. If this trio can get going on Friday night it will go a long way in getting the Pies over the line. Defensively the likes of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone have put up a wall in defence with the two rebounding well out of the back 50 and taking a host of marks to repel any forward forays. Brit Bonnici and Sarah Rowe are coming off hot performances with the two winning a truck load of the footy last round and will be hoping to repeat those efforts once again this week. Sharni Layton has been a revelation in the ruck for Collingwood with her well-timed taps and physical development making her a real force to be reckoned with.

The Demons are not without star power of their own and will have a real hunger in the belly after a narrow five-point loss in Round 3. Pregnancy does not seem to have stopped Daisy Pearce with her clever ball use and general footy understanding on full display each and every game. Other keys players the likes of Karen Paxman down back and Elise O’Dea through the midfield have been huge for Melbourne consistently winning the ball and using it carefully to hit up targets and not waste opportunities. Libby Birch has continued to develop throughout the opening games of the 2020 season with her consistent ability to put boot to ball while the tackling pressure of Tyla Hanks and Chantel Emonson have been key contributions in the Demons victories. Up forward Melbourne have a wealth of options with Tegan Cunningham able to clunk marks midair and kick truly while the likes of Aliesha Newman will be hoping to return to the scoreboard after a lean couple of weeks.

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 S.D’Arcy 4 R.Schleicher 18
C: S.Rowe 7 M.Cann 25 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: S.Dargan 46 A.Brazill 10 B.Davey 3
F: S.Layton 1 C.Molloy 2
Foll: E.Fowler 15 B.Bonnici 8 J.Allen 6
I/C: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 S.Casey 22 J.Membrey 21 K.Lynch 16

Emerg: E.Hynes 11 K.Stratton 41

In: K.Lynch
Out: K.Stratton

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 E.O’Dea 5 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 T.Cunningham 1 S.Scott 12
F: E.Zanker 29 T.Hanks 28
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 J.Parry 19 N.McEvoy 17 L.Pearce 15 A.Newman 16

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 B.Tarrant 20

In: J.Parry, L.Pearce
Out: S.Heath (Illness), M.Guerin (injured)

Saturday, February 29

Richmond v. Geelong, Queen Elizabeth Oval, 3:10pm

Taylah Melki

Both sides are yet to win a game in season 2020 and with the Tigers chasing their first ever win expect this to be a tough battle. On paper Richmond have a stronger team with a couple of key players able to turn a game on its head but have struggled to generate any real momentum so far while on the other hand the Cats have a plethora of young talents that would be hoping to get the ball rolling in the winning department. Although it is a bottom of the table clash expect both sides to bring plenty of intensity and hunger to win the pill at the coalface.

The Tigers have two key pillars inside the forward 50 with captain Katie Brennan looking to really assert herself on the competition after a slow start to the Richmond legacy. Brennan is renowned for her strong leading patterns, clean hands and ability to hit the scoreboard something she will want to do early in the clash to gain early ascendancy in the match. fellow forward Sabrina Frederick will also be hoping to throw her weight around inside the forward 50 and clunk some big marks to send shock waves through the Cats defensive unit. If both Frederick and Brennan can get the scoreboard clicking over early and apply some heat inside the forward arc it will go a long way in setting up a potential win. Through the midfield Monique Conti has been in hot form with the highly skilled footballer good below the knees and able to sight players on the lead even when in congestion. Grace Campbell is not afraid to apply physical pressure coming off a 10-tackle game last round while Phoebe Monahan will want to keep the good times rolling. Christina Bernardi  will want to lift her output to give the Tigers a chance of toppling the Cats.

With no wins in 2020 the Cats will be hoping to use their possession style of footy to upset the Tigers and create separation at the bottom of the ladder. Although they do not have the likes of Brennan up forward their youth is what drives them with Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison able to explode out of the middle and cause headaches with their ball winning abilities. Morrison is not afraid to throw her body into the contest, often at the bottom of the pack trying to free the footy and push it down forward. Melissa Hickey is another key cog for the Cats credit to her high footy IQ and clever positioning across the ground while Richelle Cranston can set the game alight with her speed and strength, able to rag doll opponents and break free with ease. when it comes to scoring options the likes of Madeleine Boyd and Phoebe Williams are the main dangers with the two able to sight the goals and kick truly. Both Jordan Ivey and Madeline Keryk have shown their defensive prowess credit to their strong tackling pressure and will want to replicate that form again this round to down the Tigers.

Tip: Richmond by 5 points.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 G.Seymour 28
HB: R.Miller 15 P.Monahan 2 H.Whitford 20
C: H.Burchell 9 K.Brennan – C 3 S.Molan 1
HF: M.Brancatisano 5 L.McClelland 16 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 S.Frederick 14
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 K.Jacques 10
I/C: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Campbell 43 E.Wood 17 A.Woodward 13 L.Bailey 12

Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 L.Lesosky-Hay 23

In: H.Whitford
Out: L.Tesoriero (injured)

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: D.Higgins 2 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: R.Cranston 30 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3 K.Darby 8 A.Teague 40 G.Clarke 17

Emerg: G.Rankin 10 C.Blakeway 4

In: K.Darby, A.Teague
Out: M.Boyd, R.Caris

North Melbourne v. Gold Coast, Arden Street Oval, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It may be a battle of second and fifth in Conference A this round, but a lot is at stake for the Kangaroos if they lose this match, only sitting two competition points ahead of the Suns. If both GIANTS and Crows get wins and the Roos go down to the Suns, North are in danger of dropping as low as fifth which could really test the side heading into the mid-point of the season. However, a win for the Suns could put them in an unprecedented position in second on the ladder and facing two currently winless teams in the coming weeks in Geelong and West Coast Eagles, which could set the Suns up for a solid run home and potential finals chance.

For North Melbourne, they will want a fast start at their Victorian home, and with the Suns having to make the trip down to Melbourne, the Roos are sure to make it count, especially given the stakes. With the likes of Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton, Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner providing key options around the field, North are at no risk of running out of ball movers and can be hard to stop once they get inside 50. 2019 Tasmanian draftee Mia King will get her first taste of the big league against Gold Coast, with a chance at proving herself against an unchanged Suns outfit.

The likes of Lauren Bella (57 hitouts), Jordann Hickey (averaging 21 intercept possessions) and Jamie Stanton (averaging 20 intercept possessions and 16.7 disposals) will be key for the Suns, but while they have a number of solid forward options they are likely to have a tough time against the Roos who will want to show who’s boss after an impressive win against Richmond last round. Despite a draw last round, the Suns have maintained the same list so will look to retain some of the grunt they had last week against the Lions and build on their consistency.

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: E.Humphries 6 B.Lynch 20

In: D.Hardiman, M.King
Out: B.Lynch, A.Green

GOLD COAST

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

Emerg: T.Groves-Little 3 A.Hamilton 30

In: None
Out: None

West Coast Eagles v. Western Bulldogs, Leaderville Oval, 7:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It’s a high stakes, but low level clash between the two Western sides, with the Eagles one of three teams yet to put a win on the board while the Bulldogs have just the one win on the board so far for the season in a start to the year that eerily mirrors that of 2019. The Bulldogs should be feeling fairly confident going into this match despite being in enemy territory, which is one thing the Eagles will have going for them after a horror start to the season.

The Eagles will look to the experience and star power of Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson to do what they do best, with run and carry and an innate ability to find the footy key for the Eagles to get that inaugural win on the board. Youngster Mickayla Bowen has been steadily improving week by week so will aim to continue that run, while only five players – including Bowen – have put goals on the board for the season, with no multiple goalkickers, making it a real test to see whether the Eagles can apply some scoreboard pressure to get a win. Parris Laurie has averaged 20 hitouts per game to start the season – second in the competition – so will look to use the ball to advantage against a relatively even opposition in Kimberley Rennie (equal third with Lauren Bella) for the Dogs.

The Bulldogs have a number of changes heading into this round, with Ashleigh Guest joining the fray while 18-year-olds Hannah Munyard and Britney Gutnecht will make their debut in the absence of key names in Brooke Lochland, Angelica Gogos and Deanna Berry. Munyard and Gutnecht are sure to fit in well with the relatively young Dogs side, and paired with fellow young guns in Gabby Newton, Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis, will look to have an impact on enemy territory. Bonnie Toogood and Ellie Blackburn will look to maintain control across the field to enable the Dogs opportunities to drive forward.

Tip: Bulldogs by 16 points.

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: C.Perera 27 S.McDonald 35 C.Davidson 33
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 G.Kelly 15 M.Collier 8
F: A.Atkins 9 E.McGuire 31
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: M.Dowrick 5 B.Devlyn 7 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 C.Guard 4

Emerg: K.Orme 32 K.Bartlett 20

In: C.Davidson, E.McGuire
Out: T.Tester (injured), K.Orme

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: E.Gamble 14 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: D.Marshall 26 E.Georgostathis 17
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 A.Guest 19 H.Munyard 20 H.Scott 22 B.Gutknecht 18

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 A.Van Oosterwijck 28

In: A.Guest, H.Munyard, B.Gutknecht
Out: D.Berry (concussion), A.Gogos (knee), B.Lochland (quad)

Sunday, March 1

Adelaide v. Carlton, Hisense Stadium, 1:10pm

Sophie Taylor

Erin Phillips will make a much-awaited return on Sunday when the Crows take on their 2019 grand final foes in Carlton. While Carlton have improved in leaps and bounds since last year’s final, it’s safe to say the Crows will come in favourites despite sitting on the same win-loss record for the season so far (2-1). Both sides come into this round off the back of solid wins in Round 3, but have also fallen to unlikely foes in the opening rounds so will be in for an interesting battle on Sunday afternoon.  Both teams have the ability to jump up the ladder with a win this week to put them in good stead for a finals berth even at this earlier stage of the season, though for Carlton a loss could be catastrophic with a number of teams on their trail and looking to break into the top three of Conference B. Both sides have a plethora of young talent that’s punctuated by a wealth of experience, making for an interesting contest.

With the handy inclusion of Phillips, the Crows will be hard to stop after showing some impressive form this season despite key injuries. The likes of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff have impressed early, sitting on a total of 82 and 72 disposals respectively to start the season, leading the competition and creating a formidable opposition across the ground. With 12 tackles last week, Marinoff will want to provide that same pressure again this week while Hatchard will hope to return to her Round 1 form where she racked up 35 touches. The likes of Danielle Ponter and Madison Newman are able to have an impact when required to make for a real battle of the young guns, and while Newman did not have the desired impact last round, Ponter put four goals on the board to prove her strength in the competition.

Carlton duo Maddy Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy are as consistent as they come despite their youth, creating opportunity down the field and working well with their teammates to provide plenty of ball inside 50. The real test for the Blues will be to find the likes of Tayla Harris, who has booted three goals for the season but needs to lift her game if the Blues want to get past the Crows this round. Defensively, the likes of Kerryn Harrington and Vaomua Laloifi have been stellar with 18 and 17 intercept possessions from their respective three matches, while 19-year-old Grace Egan leads the tackling count with 19.

Tip: Adelaide by 12 points.

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 M.Rajcic 32
HB: J.Mules 23 S.Allan 39 N.Allen 8
C: A.Foley 3 E.Marinoff 10 A.Considine 16
HF: S.Thompson 14 E.Phillips – C 13 E.Jones 2
F: D.Ponter 15 C.Biddell 12
Foll: J.Foley 24 A.Hatchard 33 C.Gum 5
I/C: R.Forth 27 S.Li 19 N.Gore 7 N.Campbell 20 R.Metcalfe 11 C.Gould 1 M.Newman 17

In: A.Considine, E.Phillips, R.Metcalfe
Out: C.Cramey (injured)

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 B.Vernon 31
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 N.Stevens 21
C: C.Dalton 15 G.Gee 19 S.Hosking 10
HF: J.Edwards 25 T.Harris 7 N.Plane 32
F: L.McEvoy 13 D.Vescio 3
Foll: B.Moody 16 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: J.Hosking 11 A.Downie 30 K.Loynes 2 L.Brazzale 12 B.Walker 14 C.Wilson 20 C.Jones 22

In: C.Wilson, C.Jones
Out: None

St Kilda v. Fremantle, RSEA Park, 3:10pm

Tom Cheesman

St Kilda are looking to cause their second major upset in the space of a fortnight when they take on the unbeaten Fremantle at RSEA Park. The Saints got their first win of the season last weekend by taking down premiership fancies Melbourne at Moorabbin. Fremantle are also coming off a major three-point victory against Collingwood to continue their undefeated streak. Given Conference B rivals Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne all have difficult matchups this weekend, the Dockers will be looking to extend their lead on top of the table with a dominant performance. However, if St Kilda can match the intensity they have brought in their last two encounters, this should be a great challenge for the Dockers.

Speedy midfielder Georgia Patrikios has been a revelation for the Saints this season, breaking the lines with run and carry to launch her side into attack. The excitement machine averages 17 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s per game. Key forward Caitlin Greiser has also made a major impact, kicking four goals in her past two matches and providing a strong presence up forward. Tarni White has been tidy for the Saints in defence, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd continues to find plenty of the ball through the midfield.

Fremantle’s forward line has been outstanding so far in 2020, led by Sabreena Duffy and youngster Roxanne Roux. Duffy leads the race for AFLW’s Leading Goalkicker alongside Brisbane’s Jesse Wardlaw, while Roux trails them by just one goal. Roux has also been working up the ground to register three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. Kiara Bowers has been outstanding up the centre of the ground, averaging 15 disposals, four inside 50s and an astonishing 15 tackles per game. Meanwhile, Hayley Miller and Philpa Seth will look to back up their strong performances against Collingwood last week.

Tip: Fremantle by 11 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 R.Dillon 25 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 A.Drennan 8 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 C.Fitzpatrick 24 O.Vesely 23 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11 S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: C.Fitzpatrick, S.Johnson, P.Kelly
Out: J.Sedunary (injured)

FREMANTLE

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

In: E.O’Driscoll, M.Clifford
Out: None

Brisbane Lions v. Greater Western Sydney GIANTS, Hickey Park, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

The final match of the round will see a big one between first and third on the Conference A ladder, with the Lions only ahead thanks to a draw last round against the SUNS. Both sides will come into this match with plenty to prove, with little change to their respective Round 3 lists and potential bragging rights to stay atop the ladder. The undefeated Lions haven’t looked back this season, with impressive wins to start the season before the draw last week marred their perfect record. With an ability to pile on the goals and fairly quickly at that, the GIANTS could be in for a tough one if the Lions have their eye in, especially given their inconsistency staring the season.

Brisbane will welcome back Jess Wuetschner for the first time since Round 1, adding another key cog to their already solid rotation, with Lauren Arnell and Emily Bates having good starts to the season while Jesse Wardlaw booted three goals in Round 2 so will hope to get back to that form this week against the GIANTS, currently leading the sides’ goalkicking tally with five to her name and plenty more opportunities to add to that. Alexandra Anderson has also proved to be a handy inclusion with an average of 18 touches per game for the season so far and has steadily improved and developed her game since her 2017 debut. Young gun Lily Postlethwaite had a slow match last week against a tough outfit in Gold Coast so will want to prove her point in this matchup after collecting a handful of touches and applying some good pressure on the body in the opening rounds.

The GIANTS have some solid names among their group, but this season have ultimately struggled to find their form – up until last round, when they dominated against a lowly West Coast outfit. Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva have been consistent as ever this season, leading from the front and create a contest wherever they go. The pair lead majority of the stats for the GIANTS in what has been a frankly sloppy start to the season, but have kept their heads high to reap the reward of their consistency with the win last round. GWS are another side that has a smattering of goalkickers that have not really had a chance to star yet this season, meaning this could be their opportunity if they can take control early.

TIP: Brisbane by 15 points.

BRISBANE

B: C.Svarc 25 S.Webb 4
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 S.Campbell 20
C: N.Grider 10 B.Koenen 3 S.Conway 12
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Wardlaw 30 G.Bodey 15
F: D.Davidson 14 E.Zielke – C 8
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Wuetschner 23 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 T.Hickie 24

In: J.Wuetschner, T.Hickie
Out: None

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 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: I.Nielsen 25 R.Privitelli 19
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: B.Tully 36 L.Steane 20 J.Barclay 34 L.Stephenson 12 A.Schmidt 11 T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: None

ROUND 4 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [16]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Carlton / Fremantle / Brisbane
Taylah Melki [17]: Collingwood/ Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Sophie Taylor [16]: Melbourne / Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Peter Williams [14]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / GIANTS

Top 5 questions after AFL Women’s Round 3

WITH three rounds of the AFL Women’s done and dusted we pose five questions surrounding yet another  round of action filled with narrow losses and blowout wins.

Are Fremantle the real deal?

The Dockers showed their class last round with a narrow three-point win against the Magpies, sitting undefeated at the top of Pool B. Fremantle has become well known for its attacking style of play always looking to hit the scoreboard and move the ball forward and while they were starved of opportunities in Round 3 they made the most of their chances with accuracy proving no issue. They have a plethora of key players across the field that have shown that they can lift their game when under pressure and while both Ebony and Kara Antonio did not win a truckload of possession it was what they did with the footy that made the difference. The mix between experience and youth is the key combination with Mim Strom and Roxy Roux making a seamless transition into the elite level while the likes of Kiara Bowers and Sabreena Duffy have continued to evolve making for a very strong and competitive side.

What do Richmond need to do to win their first game?

The Tigers are yet to claim a win in season 2020 but definitely have the star power to cause a couple of upsets with the likes of Monique Conti, Sabrina Frederick and captain Katie Brennan amongst the mix. They have shown that they know what it takes to match it with the best but have struggled to put up a consistent four quarter effort getting blown away as the game dragged on. The trio have experience and ooze class and composure with all three hoping to make an impact in their new colours but failing to really get going so far in 2020. Renowned for her ability to win the ball at the coalface and dispose of the footy cleanly Conti will have to up her intensity while Brennan and Frederick will need to hit the scoreboard more regularly. But to win their first game they will need assistance from the likes of Christina Bernardi, Lauren Tesoriero and Phoebe Monahan to help take the heavy load off them across the ground.

Can North Melbourne win the premiership?

After falling short of finals last year, the Kangaroos have come back with a real vengeance in 2020 with convincing wins in their past two outings. North has shown that it can pile on a hefty total, recording a whopping 76 points last round with 12 goals making up the end score. The Roos are a class outfit that can pick apart their opponents with their attacking momentum and variety of avenues to goal. Emma Kearney is a machine through the midfield and has shown that she can push forward and hit the scoreboard coming off a three goal and 12 disposal game while Kaitlyn Ashmore is a handy option inside forward with three majors. Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton have upped their ante in recent weeks adding to the already potent side.

Could Melbourne be a smoky to make the finals?

Despite dropping their Round 3 clash to the Saints the Dees should not be underestimated. They toppled premiership favourites North Melbourne in the opening round of the season and dismantled the Dogs by 20 points in Round 2 highlighting just how damaging they can be when they get going. Although inaccuracy plagued them in their recent outing, they have proven that they have a wealth of options inside forward 50 that can cause damage with Tegan Cunningham and Kate Hore strong in front of goal while through the midfield Elise O’Dea, Daisy Pearce and Karen Paxman provide good first use to their forwards.

Can Brisbane continue their hot form?

Although they played out a draw last week against state rivals Gold Coast, the Lions have taken the competition by storm downing both Geelong and reigning premiers Adelaide in the opening rounds. With two wins and a draw the Lions are sitting pretty on top of the table and will be hoping to hold onto that spot. Brisbane have allowed their young talent to lead the way with the likes of Isabel Dawes, Lily Postlethwaite and Jesse Wardlaw doing the hard yards. Sophie Conway has also been in hot form in recent weeks and will be hoping to keep that streak going and push her side to another grand final. The midfield brigade of Ally Anderson, Lauren Arnell and Emily Bates along with defender Kate Lutkins have also been in scintillating form.

AFL Women’s Round 3 review: St Kilda makes history with first win

ROUND 3 of the AFL Women’s saw a number of history-making performances, especially St Kilda with the team from Moorabbin claiming their inaugural win while top of the table clashes lived up to the hype. These are the remaining six game reviews after our Match of the Round – selected prior to the weekend – saw Adelaide down Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.

ST KILDA 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 (19)
MELBOURNE 1.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.8 (14)

It was a history-making performance by the Saints claiming their inaugural AFLW win and stunning the Demons in the meantime. It was a low scoring game with both sides struggling to generate any forward momentum but when it came down to it youngster Caitlin Greiser sealed the deal with a booming kick 55 metres out. Despite the wealth of experience and talent across the field the Saints were not overawed competing hard at every contest and using their dash to find space and create forward forays. Inaccuracy plagued Melbourne who had five more scoring shots than their opponents but could simply not convert in front of the big sticks with eight behinds compared to St Kilda’s one. St Kilda showed just what they are capable of, keeping the Dees scoreless in the final term while they inflicted pain on the scoreboard.

The Saints were once again led by their young talent with talented midfielder Georgia Patrikios dominating. Patrikios won plenty of the footy with 15 possessions and most importantly used it in convincing fashion finding targets and putting her body on the line at contests racking up four tackles while the likes of Tarni White and Nicola Xenos plied their trade across the ground. Olivia Vesley proved she was no slouch tracking the ball well both at ground level and in the air with her equal-high 16 touches as the 20-year-old highlighted her class and finesse. Co-captain Tilly Lucas-Rodd was in scintillating form racking up 16 disposals, fighting hard for every touch and showcased her strong hands with three marks to her name. Nat Exon was a tackling machine applying a wealth of strong physical pressure thanks to her seven tackles with teammate Rosie Dillon equalling her on that tally and going to work with 16 touches of her own. But it was Greiser that stole the show with the 21-year-old sensing the moment and landing the knock-out blow to end any hopes of a Melbourne comeback.

It was a tough night for Melbourne who failed to bring their normal intensity and most importantly kicking boots right from the get go. In the opening quarter the Demons had plenty of momentum peppering the goals but struggled to effectively hit the scoreboard with the likes of normal sharp shooters Aliesha Newman and Tegan Cunningham missing out on the goal scoring action. Despite the loss, the trio in Karen Paxman, Elise O’Dea and Daisy Pearce combined to be a formidable force with Paxman taking home the title of most possessions in the game with 26. O’Dea was not far behind with 20 but did not worry the scoreboard in fact the only player to slot one through for six points was Shelley Scott. Both Libby Birch and Maddison Gay also found their fair share of the footy but it was not enough to change the end result.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser (2), D. Guttridge.
Melbourne: S. Scott.

BESTS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd, G. Patrikios, O. Vesley,
Melbourne: K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, D. Pearce, S. Scott

GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 | 4.4 (28)
BRISBANE 2.0 | 4.3 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

In the first of many Q-Clashes, Gold Coast played host to Brisbane on Saturday with the duel ending in a stalemate with both sides unable to be split at 28 points apiece. Although they snuck out to an early lead, the SUNS showed that they were not about to bow down to their more experienced opponent mustering up a stellar second half performance. The SUNS upped the intensity across the field limiting the Lions to a mere one point after halftime highlighting just how dangerous they can be.

After a slow start, the hosts well and truly built into the game with the likes of Kate Surman and Jaime Stanton controlling and winning a heap of possession. Surman finished the afternoon with 16 touches to her name while Stanton was one behind with 15. Hannah Dunn had a strong outing for the Suns amassing 15 touches of which nine were kicks while her physical pressure was up and about laying a team-high six tackles. When it came to scoreboard pressure there was one main go to girl and that was Kalinda Howarth. The SUNS star clunked just about everything that came her way but most importantly was accurate in front of the big sticks walking away with a bag of three while Brittany Perry rounded out the other scorers for Gold Coast.

Emily Bates once again stood strong for the Lions recording her second consecutive week with 20 or more possessions to her name thanks to a 24-touch disposal game. she was clean with ball in hand able to spot up a target and deliver. Not far behind her was teammate Ally Anderson who displayed her go-get-it attitude with 22 points while both Kate Lutkins and Lauren Arnell used their fire in the belly to win the footy at the coalface. Up forward Sophie Conway provided plenty of attacking prowess slotting an important goal and showcasing her intense defensive pressure with seven tackles. Along with Conway, Rheanne Lugg proved to be a handy target up forward slotting two majors for the Lions to keep them in the hunt. After a blinder last week, Jesse Wardlaw left her mark on the game once again albeit with one major but still provided a strong target.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 3, B. Perry.
Brisbane: R. Lugg, J. Wardlaw, S. Conway.

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth, K. Surman, J. Stanton, H. Dunn
Brisbane: E. Bates, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, S. Conway

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 4.6 (30)
CARLTON 3.1 | 3.1 | 5.3 | 8.3 (51)

Carlton hit back in serious fashion against the Bulldogs claiming a 21-point victory over the 2018 premiers. The Blues raced out of the gates piling on three goals to one in the opening term and did not look back continuing to extend the margin and make the most of their opportunities in the forward 50. On the other hand the Dogs struggled to combat the offensive pressure of the Blues with the footy camped inside Carlton’s forward 50 for large chunks of time and not allowing the ball to leave the vicinity credit to their tenacity and intensity. It was a complete performance from the girls in navy blue with their physical pressure on full display winning the tackle count 57 to 52 along with disposals 223 to 190.

After some fiery post-match comments following Carlton’s loss to Collingwood, forward Tayla Harris found her groove once again and inflicted some scoreboard pain slotting through a major while also taking a couple of handy marks throughout the game. Although Harris is the normal go to girl in the attacking 50 Georgia Gee elevated her game in the contest against the Dogs bagging three majors to go with her eight disposals. She was a real livewire in attack showcasing her strong goal sense and high footy IQ while Darcy Vescio also bobbed up for a timely goal. Maddy Prespakis continued her merry way collecting 24 touches for her efforts through the midfield along with six tackles showing just how much of a force she is. She was ably assisted by the likes of Grace Egan who managed 15 disposals along with Gabriella Pound while Lucy McEvoy slotted her first AFLW goal.

Although it was not the outcome they would have hoped for the Western Bulldogs still had some strong performances from the likes of captain Ellie Blackburn and Aisling McCarthy. The two proved to be ball magnets throughout the match with Blackburn racking up 20 touches while McCarthy chimed in with 16 of her own. Former Western Jet, Elisabeth Georgostathis slotted her first AFLW goal in the loss with fellow draftee and number one pick, Gabby Newton really showcasing her talent and class with 14 touches and four tackles. The scoring load was relatively well spread across the side with Bonnie Toogood managing a major while Kirsten McLeod and Kirsty Lamb nailed a goal apiece as well but they could not muster up enough shots on goal to really trouble the Blues.

GOALS:

Carlton: G. Gee 3, T. Harris, D. Vescio, L. Brazzale, L. McEvoy, N. Stevens.
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, K. Lamb, K. McLeod, B. Toogood.

BESTS:

Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Gee, G. Egan, T. Harris,
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, G. Newton, A. McCarthy, K. McLeod

FREMANTLE 3.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 4.6 (30)

In a top of the table clash, Fremantle pipped the Pies at the post claiming a narrow three-point victory to all but sow-up prime position on the ladder. In true first versus second fashion the lead ebbed and flowed with Fremantle claiming early ascendancy despite Collingwood owning possession deep inside 50 but failing to convert. The Dockers opened up a two goal lead heading into quarter time before the Pies hit back in the second to get it back to a level playing field and in fact go five points up. Collingwood had the chance to blow the Dockers away in the second piling on two goals and five points but inaccuracy kept Fremantle in the game and ultimately cost the Pies the four points. With pressure building inside the final minutes of the fourth quarter Collingwood seemed to have all the chances in the world with Britt Bonicci gifted two possibilities that went astray.

It was a strong effort by the Pies who well and truly brought their a-game but fell short when it counted. Jaimee Lambert seemed to have the ball on a string in the opening half collecting a staggering 21 possession to half-time before finishing the match with 32 to her name. Lambert was in scintillating form laying eight tackles and nailing a goal while Sarah Rowe upped the ante for the Pies racking up 22 touches. After being sidelined with injury last week Bri Davey made her way back into the squad and showed why she is such a strong force laying six tackles and gathering 18 disposals while cross-coder Ash Brazill continued her merry way across the back half with 17 touches and two marks. Sharni Layton hit the scoreboard once again for the Pies with Aishling Sheridan also showing her class in front of the big sticks with an important major.

Although there was no key standout player for the Dockers it was the even contribution from a host of players that got them over the line. 24-year-old Hayley Miller recorded a team-high 13 touches, 11 of which were kicks while Philipa Seth also plied her trade in her third game for the season with 12 touches. It is hard to go past Kiara Bowers’ performance with her physicality, the focal point of her outing against the Pies with a whopping game high 14 tackles showcasing her hunt and aggression for the footy. Both Ebony and Kara Antonio had quiet games compared to their usual standards but still played their role with Ebony slotting a timely major. Youngster Roxy Roux also continued where she left off with a goal and four tackles.

GOALS:

Fremantle: R. Roux, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, K. Flood, A. Sharp.
Collingwood: A. Sheridan, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Membrey.

BESTS:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, H. Miller, P. Seth, R. Roux
Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Rowe, B. Davey, B. Bonicci, A. Brazill

GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 2.2 (14)

The Giants well and truly took control of the game from the opening bounce denying the Eagles any chance to generate scoring momentum or get a feel for the footy. GWS kept West Coast scoreless for the opening three quarters highlighting their strong defensive pressure and in turn ability attacking style to get the scoreboard ticking over. It was a tough day for West Coast who simply had no answers for anything the experienced Giants side threw at them, gifting the Eagles their third straight loss.

Rebecca Privitelli had a game to remember, with the former Carlton player well and truly leaving her mark on the game with three majors and first goal in Giants colours. Privitelli showcased her class and goal sense while the reliable Cora Staunton also hit the scoreboard with a goal of her own in her sides win. Rebecca Beeson proved to be a real ball magnet popping up everywhere across the field and dishing off effectively for her 18 touches while in her second season 19-year-old Alyce Parker led the stats column in disposals with 22. New captain, Alicia Eva has gone from strength to strength throughout 2020 and that continued with another complete performance of seven tackles and 14 possessions.

For the Eagles, captain Dana Hooker had an absolute blinder racking up a game-high 23 touches while also showcasing her strength in the air with four marks and an impressive eight tackles highlighting her commitment. Emma Swanson was not far behind with 19 touches using her strong kick to advantage with 15 of her 19 touches coming off her boot. Mikayla Bowen opened up the Eagles account with the first goal in the fourth quarter while livewire Imahara Cameron chimed in moments later to put through her first and her sides second.

GOALS:

GWS Giants: R. Privitelli (3), C. Staunton, J. Barclay, H. Zreika.
West Coast Eagles: I. Cameron, M. Bowen.

BESTS:

GWS Giants: R. Privitelli, A. Eva, A. Parker, R. Beeson
West Coast Eagles: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen

RICHMOND 0.3 | 0.4 | 2.5 | 2.8 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.0 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 12.4 (76)

North Melbourne completely dismantled the Tigers handing them a whopping 56-point drubbing. There is no denying that Richmond had its chances with more scoring shots in the first quarter but simply could not convert gifting the Kangaroos an early lead, one they continued to build on as the game went on. North looked like a well-oiled machine out on the field hitting up targets with ease and most importantly applying a truckload of pressure to limit the Tigers ability to control the footy and run rampant themselves. The Roos handed Richmond its third straight loss and are staring down the barrel of a winless season if the Tigers do not start to kick into gear.

In a difficult outing, star recruit Monique Conti shone bright with 18 touches and six tackles but missed her opportunity to pile on some scoreboard pain much like captain Katie Brennan who had her fair share of chances to change the tune of the game finishing with 1.2. Brennan could have a big day with three shots at goal and only converting one but found plenty of the footy recording 14 disposals just behind Conti. Both Kodi Jacques and Phoebe Monahan plied their trade recording 12 touches and two tackles apiece in what was a solid performance. Forward Sabrina Frederick had her moments of magic securing a much needed goal and collecting seven touches but will be hoping to increase her volume in the coming rounds.

It was a different tale for the Roos who had a plethora of star players step up to the plate and dominate none bigger than Emma Kearney who found herself doing a wealth of damage on the scoreboard with three majors. Add on her 12 touches and three tackles and Kearney had a strong showing in the blue and white while Ash Riddell claimed top spot in the possessions column with 21 while Jenna Bruton was hot on her heels with 16 of her own. Kearney was not the only one to have a day out in front of goal with Kaitlyn Ashmore walking away with a nice bag of three while Daisy Bateman also managed two goals showcasing the diversity they have inside the forward 50.  Jasmine Garner showed her worth once again with a goal and 16 disposals while Kate Gillespie-Jones also made a lasting impact with 13 touches and a major.

GOALS:

Richmond: K. Brennan, S. Traub.
North Melbourne: E. Kearney 3, K. Ashmore 3, A. Green 2, D, Bateman 2, K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner.

BESTS

Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, G. Campbell, P. Monahan, K. Jacques.
North Melbourne: E. Kearney, J. Garner, A. Riddell, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton

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 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

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Melbourne

THE 2019 AFLW season was an interesting one for the Demons, who found themselves in a difficult conference playing against premiers, Adelaide and flag favourites, North Melbourne, winning four of their seven matches and ultimately would have made finals in the alternate conference. However, the Dees have proved they have consistency over the first three seasons, finishing mid-range on the ladder every season. Melbourne were one of the lucky teams heading out of the 2019 AFL Women’s season, managing to retain a large portion of their lineup while adding some impressive names to the list. Ultimately one of the biggest ins to the side is the return of Daisy Pearce following a season out of the sport with pregnancy, something that will surely bolster the Demons’ already impressive midfield. The addition of Western Bulldogs defender, Libby Birch will kick Melbourne’s defensive pressure up a notch, while the core side sticking together will ensure Melbourne continue their consistency and hopefully go one better in 2020.

With Birch the key cog and retaining Pearce key, the Demons had a mostly uneventful off-season, delisting four players and picking up four late picks in the AFL Women’s Draft. Interstaters Jacqueline Parry (Canberra) and Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles) join the side alongside Calder Cannons’ Krstel Petrevski, while Darebin Falcons’ Gabby Colvin will have the chance to prove herself at the top level after three seasons at VFL Women’s. The Dees will also benefit from the addition of Irish recruits, Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy who join the rookie list for 2020.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Libby Birch (Western Bulldogs), Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles), Gabby Colvin (Darebin Falcons), Krstel Petrevski (Calder Cannons), Jacqueline Parry (Canberra), Shae Sloane (promoted from rookie list to primary), Sinead Goldrick (gaelic), Niamh McEvoy (gaelic)
OUT: Maddy Brancatisano (Richmond), Ashleigh Guest (Western Bulldogs), Cat Phillips (St Kilda), Claudia Whitfort (St Kilda), Jordann Hickey, Talia Radan, Brooke Patterson, Ashleigh Woodland (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Libby Birch
Gabrielle Colvin
Harriet Cordner
Tegan Cunningham
Meg Downie
Maddison Gay
Madeleine Guerin
Tyla Hanks
Shelley Heath
Kate Hore
Bianca Jakobsson
Ainslie Kemp
Sarah Lampard
Lily Mithen
Aliesha Newman
Elise O’Dea
Jacqueline Parry
Karen Paxman
Daisy Pearce
Lauren Pearce
Krstel Petrevski
Shelley Scott
Casey Sherriff
Shae Sloane
Katherine Smith
Brenna Tarrant
Eden Zanker

Rookies: Chantel Emonson, Sinead Goldrick, Niamh McEvoy

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Meg Downie, Harriet Cordner, Chantel Emonson
HB: Sarah Lampard, Libby Birch, Karen Paxman
C: Elise O’Dea
HF: Maddison Gay, Kate Hore, Shelley Scott
F: Eden Zanker, Tegan Cunningham, Aliesha Newman
R: Lauren Pearce, Lily Mithen, Daisy Pearce
INT: Bianca Jakobsson – Tyla Hanks – Katherine Smith – Maddy Guerin – Ainslie Kemp
EMG: Jacqueline Parry – Shae Sloane – Shelley Heath

DEPTH: Gabby Colvin, Krstel Petrevski, Casey Sherriff, Brenna Tarrant, Sinead Goldrick, Niamh McEvoy

It will likely be difficult for some of the new recruits to break into the 2020 lineup, with the Demons maintaining a number of key combinations across the field. Harriet Cordner proved her dominance defensively last season and with the addition of Birch they could form a real formidable trio down back. Through the midfield, look to key ruck, Lauren Pearce who had a fantastic run in the 2019 season. She followed up her form awarded with the VFL Women’s Lambert-Pearce Medal over the off-season. Pearce’s ability to find co-captains Elise O’Dea and Shelley Scott plays a massive role in making headway down the field, with key ball movers the likes of Lily Mithen and Daisy Pearce able to have an impact both in the air and at ground level, while young gun Tyla Hanks found her form in a similar manner, playing up the ground with ball magnets Aliesha Newman, Eden Zanker and Kate Hore.

Melbourne’s first draft pick in Jacqueline Parry is a relatively unknown quantity with plenty of class traits but will have to fight her way into the side, while the likes of Krstel Petrevski, Gabby Colvin and Brenna Tarrant will also provide good support and try and force their way in.

Fast improving Knight doing things differently

FOR most top-agers, the prospect of juggling their final year of school with elite level representative football is a difficult reality. Not for Nell Morris-Dalton, whose journey to this point has been a touch less orthodox than some.

The Northern Knights and Darebin Falcons forward is a step ahead of the competition, currently in her first year of a university nursing degree, allowing her to narrow her focus and “step up (her) game to a new level.

“I think (being at university) made a huge difference this year, allowing me to focus on my footy a bit more,” Morris-Dalton said. “Even when I’m not doing footy I’ve got a lot more free time to just do things that I want to do, so I think that makes a big difference for my enjoyment of footy.”

The enjoyment factor has long been at the forefront of Morris-Dalton’s footballing story, with the Fitzroy junior opting against playing with the boys at a young age because their reluctance to tackle her made it “a little too easy.” But when the Yarra Junior Football League (YJFL) started up a girl’s competition, Morris-Dalton jumped at the opportunity to get back into the action.

“When the girl’s (league) started up at the YJFL I didn’t really look back from there,” she said. “I started at Fitzroy and then my first interaction with the youth girls (pathway) was at the Calder Cannons, and then I obviously got re-zoned when the Knights opened up a team.”

Morris-Dalton’s development at the Preston-based club has been steep, culminating in a top-age season which saw her average 12.6 disposals and 1.4 goals from her 11 NAB League games, highlighted by seven goals across two huge finals performances in the premiership-winning Knights side. The 174cm prospect’s form is something she says took time, coming on the back of a bed of belief and united team environment.

“I think I had a lot of pressure in the first half of my season and once I realised how I play well and worked out things in my game… my confidence started to build and obviously with my confidence building my game kept building too,” Morris-Dalton said. “This year we had a good group of girls and I think what made a huge difference was we were really close so everyone got along really well and it meant that on the field we could just connect well and understand each other’s gameplay… I really enjoyed my time at the Knights. “It was obviously perfect to finish off with a premiership especially in my top-age year and coming off the (grand final) loss the year before.”

Her big game performances meant Vic Metro selection was a relative given, with Morris-Dalton continuing her scoring streak to boot goals in each of her three outings during the national carnival in Queensland. The experience proved another chance to play among a rich team spirit.

“Vic Metro was also really good, I think the big thing about that team was all the girls weren’t playing for themselves and that really showed,” she said. “Everyone on the team connected well and the linkage of play was just really good so it was fun to play in that team with heaps of good girls.”

The theme only continued in Morris-Dalton’s five VFLW games for Darebin Falcons, an historically monumental and “empowering” club which she said was the perfect next step.

“I love Darebin… obviously being all-female, I think that was perfect and exactly where I wanted to go for the rest of my season. “I just really like the club, the whole community vibe of the club is really good and I enjoyed playing with bigger bodies and learning off some of the girls in the team. “Lauren Pearce has been helpful to me, just teaching me a few tips in the ruck and forward line, giving me advice. “It’s the same with Elise O’Dea, just giving me advice about the next level with what it takes and everything.”

The next level is approaching quicker than ever before at this point, with just the National Draft Combine and draft day separating Morris-Dalton from her AFLW dream. She is keen to get through the short period of the unknown.

“We’ve obviously got the combine coming up so that’s my goal at the moment, just to try and test well there. “(I’m) just looking forward to the draft and getting some idea of what I will be doing next year – that is a bit of a hard part of it, it’s all very unknown so I’m pretty excited just to get into it… anywhere I’ll be happy with, but I don’t want to get any ideas in my head and then be disappointed at the end of the day.”

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 14 – Big margins split the ladder

ROUND 14 saw the top sides in the competition all but separate from the lower sides on the ladder, with the top six only needing to continue winning in order to make finals. Wins to four of the top six this week – with the other two sides in Collingwood and Southern Saints having byes – all but locks finals up, with only positions within the six likely to change over the next few rounds. With only two matches left in the season the only side below the six that really has potential to make finals is Geelong, but the side will need to not only win its remaining two games but also rely on other results to go their way to make it through unscathed.

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.4 (4)
DAREBIN 2.4 | 2.5 | 6.11 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS

Williamstown: Nil.
Darebin: M. Wilson 2, L. Pearce, A. Lister, C. Byrne, S. Simpson, L. Arnell.

BEST

Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, J. Kawa, R. Tripodi, S. Whiting, A. Melnikas
Darebin: L. Pearce, A. Lister, R. Hicks, E. O’Dea, C. Byrne, L. Arnell

It was the second time these sides fought it out in 2019, and the Falcons were not going to let their last match define them with a massive 49-point victory over the weekend proving the side has the ability to be better than some of their scores this season suggest. This match spells disaster for the Seagulls however, with the side running out of opportunities to get a second win on the board and this round arguably their best opportunity of doing so. Elise O’Dea and Lauren Pearce paired well across the field to dominate the contest, managing 25 touches apiece while O’Dea also racked up five tackles. Pearce was phenomenal as ever in the ruck, booting a goal and collecting 49 hitouts and six tackles for her efforts. Maddison Wilson kicked two goals from 11 touches while Annalyse Lister also had a solid performance with 15 disposals, nine tackles and a goal. Reni Hicks was phenomenal as ever, as the number one tackler of the competition with another 17 tackles and 16 disposals to her name. For the Seagulls, Mo Hope and Sharnie Whiting were the usual suspects finding plenty of the footy, picking up 21 and 20 disposals apiece while Megan Williamson (17 disposals, 10 tackles), Ruby Tripodi (12 disposals, nine tackles) and Ashlea Melnikas (nine disposals, nine tackles) played their individual roles well to apply pressure on the Falcons but to no avail.

HAWTHORN 1.4 | 2.6 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)
CASEY 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Luke.
Casey: M. Guerin, H. Cordner, S. Notman.

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Membrey, G. Bevan, C. Perera, E. Nixon, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams
Casey: A. McDonough, T. Hanks, M. Hogg, S. Lampard, K. Hore, B. Winbanks

A late fightback by Casey saw the side almost get away with a shock win over the Hawks, but it was too little too late with the Hawks prevailing despite not putting a score on the board in the final term. This was not the percentage boosting win the Hawks wanted however, with the three point win only scraping by in the race for finals. While Casey will be happy with their ability to come back from the loss, they will be rueing missed opportunities after a dominant final term almost got them the win along with relatively even stats across the board. Phoebe McWilliams kicked two goals from six touches as a solid option forward, while a smattering of players did what they could to get on the board but could not convert. Lou Wotton (44 hitouts, 11 touches, 10 tackles) and Bec Beeson (24 disposals, 10 tackles, six marks) starred as usual for the Hawks, finding plenty of the footy while Georgia Bevan starred in the contest with 17 tackles. For Casey, Sarah Lampard put on a solid performance in ultimately her best match for the season with 28 touches, seven marks and five tackles while Maddy Guerin (seven tackles, five marks, one goal) and Lily Mithen (11 tackles, three marks) were next up with 16 touches apiece. Bridie Winbanks and Harriet Cordner combined for 32 hitouts in the ruck, while Shanara Notman kicked a goal in her second match for the side.

GEELONG 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 4.6 (30)
MELBOURNE UNI 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS

Geelong: M. Maguire 2, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel.
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson 3, K. Angelis, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton.

BEST

Geelong: R. Cranston, K. Darby, A. McDonald, L. McEvoy, M. Maguire, M. Keryk
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, B. Gibson, E. Kearney, K. Ebb, A. Runnalls, J. Bruton

Melbourne Uni prevailed in cold conditions down at Geelong, beating the home side by 14 points to maintain their position in the top six and go one game clear of the Cats. While Geelong perhaps didn’t get off to the start they desired, they evened up to lead at half time before failing to put another goal on the board after half time. With a definite scoring end it was the Mugars who made the most of their opportunities, slotting seven goals for the match to set up a solid win despite not putting a score on the board in the final quarter. Jasmine Garner lead the charge for Uni, collecting 31 touches, 10 marks, nine tackles and a goal on her way to dominating all aspects of the contest while Ashleigh Riddell and Jess Trend followed suit combining for 44 touches and 13 tackles. Meanwhile, Britt Gibson kicked three goals from 12 disposals for her best haul of the season so far while Emma Kearney collected 18 touches, seven tackles and a goal in her first match of the season. While it was an evenly matched ruck contest between Vivien Saad (26 hitouts) and Kate Darby (21 hitouts, 18 disposals, five marks, five tackles), Darby well and truly found her form to follow up with two attempts at goal which unfortunately did not hit their mark. Olivia Purcell was the prime ball magnet for Geelong with 20 disposals, while the likes of Richelle Cranston (18 disposals, five tackles) and Madisen Maguire (two goals) put in the hard yards across the field.

CARLTON 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 (21)
RICHMOND 0.6 | 4.7 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS

Carlton: L. Brazzale, A. McKay, S. Wright.
Richmond: T. Stahl 3, T. Brett 3, C. Wakefield , H. Ibrahim, M. Conti, J. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: S. Wright, C. Bromage, B. Gutknecht, B. Gurr, G. Wright, G. Pound
Richmond: A. Edmonds, T. Brett, T. Stahl, M. Conti, J. Kennedy, C. Wakefield

Richmond finally got the big win they have been waiting for over the weekend, confidently running over the Blues by 48 points. While the Tigers certainly had all the momentum early they had big issues meeting targets with six behinds on the board in the first that could have had them up by close to 40 points early. After the first quarter however they unleashed, with the Blues floored by the Tigers as they kicked 10 goals to one in the remaining three terms. With two players individually almost outscoring Carlton on their own, it was always going to be a big win for the Tigers. While a usual suspect in Tayla Stahl kicking three goals from 11 touches and four marks, it was the effort of debutant Teagan Brett that caught the eyes of many with a respective three goals and 12 disposals in her first match in yellow and black. Monique Conti was also impressive with 26 disposals, six tackles and a goal while Alice Edmonds shared the role in ruck well with 32 hitouts and 14 disposals, pairing with Gabby Seymour who collected a further 15 hitouts. For the Blues, Lauren Brazzale was pivotal with 18 disposals and a goal while Gabby Pound (15 disposals, eight tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (13 disposals, six tackles) put in the hard yards to find plenty of ball.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
ESSENDON 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland 2, M. Ward 2, K. McLeod, E. Blackburn.
Essendon: Nil.

BEST

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland, N. Ferres, D. Berry , E. Georgostathis, A. Guest, M. Ward
Essendon: G. Patrikios, S. Audley, L. Ahrens, M. Fogas, A. Barba, E. Ashley-Cooper

The Bulldogs’ massive win this week mirrored their AFL side’s victory, with a 44 point win keeping the Bombers without a goal for the match in what was an impressive display at home. The Bulldogs got off to a solid start kicking five goals nil in the first half before matching it in the second half and denying the Bombers any easy ball. While their accuracy once again left plenty to be desired, the Dogs played a confidence game and were not scared to take advantage of opportunities to keep the Bombers out of the contest. Despite a disappointing performances from the Bombers as a whole, Georgia Patrikios (21 disposals, 11 tackles) and Georgia Nanscawen (21 disposals, six tackles) found plenty of the footy to spur the side forward while Kendra Heil applied some great pressure with nine tackles and 20 touches to her name. While Simone Nalder matched Celine Moody for hitouts (21 apiece), it was the Bulldogs’ use of a second ruck in Nicole McMahon (17 hitouts) that saw them run away with the match. Ellie Blackburn (25 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ellie Gavalas (25 disposals, four tackles) were phenomenal for the home side, while Brooke Lochland and Mikayla Ward kicked two goals apiece, unstoppable inside 50 and Angelina Gogos provided plenty of ball back forward with 12 tackles.

VFLW weekend wrap: Round 13 – Top teams remain on the hunt for big wins

ROUND 13 of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s saw a number of big results, with two close matches and two blowouts all but predicting the final match of the round being a close but high scoring affair. With the top three once again putting away wins they are unlikely to slip out of finals contention, though percentage will certainly play a big role coming into the final rounds with a number of teams hoping to make the cut.

ESSENDON 4.0 | 5.0 | 7.1 | 7.2 (44)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS
Essendon:
J. Stassi 2, A. Quigley 2, M. Collier, M. DeMatteo, L. Stepnell.
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw 3, E. Mackie, T. Bohanna, O. Vesely, C. Greiser.

BEST
Essendon:
A. Quigley, G. Nanscawen, M. Collier, K. Heil, F. Frew, J. Stassi
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw, E. Mackie, R. Watt, T. Lucas-Rodd, S. Johnson, O. Vesely

The first match of the round was a down to the wire clash between two sides at completely different ends of the ladder, with the Bombers pushing the Saints at every turn and coming so close to a massive upset. Essendon came out strong, kicking four goals nil in the first to set up a solid lead, however were unable to consolidate their lead in the second, conceding 19 points as the game started to shape up to be an eight-point contest at the main change. The Bombers had another good quarter after the break, finding plenty of the footy and limiting the Saints access, before a massive final quarter from the Saints saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. While Southern Saints fought hard for the victory to continue their winning ways, full credit to the Bombers side keeping the Saints on their toes with accuracy on their side. Jess Stassi and Alexandra Quigley impressed in front of goal, kicking two apiece as the Bombers sought to control the contest. Also right in the action was Georgia Nanscawen, collecting 23 touches and racking up 10 tackles, joined by Shae Audley (22 touches, 10 tackles) and Simone Nalder (30 hitouts). Kate Shierlaw was the sole multiple goalkicker for the Saints with three majors from 15 disposals and five marks, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Emma Mackie (21 disposals, four marks apiece) made their presence felt and Samantha Johnson, Alison Drennan and Fiona Steiert combined for 25 tackles.

RICHMOND 1.4 | 2.12 | 6.15 | 7.16 (58)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS
Richmond:
S. Frederick 2, M. Conti 2, G. Egan, M. Brancatisano, J. Colwell.
Williamstown: S. Whiting.

BEST
Richmond:
M. Conti, K. Dempsey, M. Brancatisano, S. Frederick, A. Woodward, K. Jacques
Williamstown: J. Kawa, S. Whiting, J. Heard, A. Melnikas, I. Porter, E. Straford

It took a dominant performance by the Tigers to jump back into the top four after an average few weeks on the turf, beating a struggling Williamstown by a convincing 48-point margin. But while Richmond well and truly were in control from the get-go, there was little to be happy about with only a 24-point margin at half-time. Granted, the Seagulls had as yet been unable to put a score on the board, however the Tigers’ inaccuracy was a massive issue with 12 behinds and only two goals on the board at the main change – if it were not for the Tigers’ missed opportunities, they would have had a much bigger percentage boosting margin on their hands. The Tigers lifted their game in the second half, kicking five goals to one to cement a convincing win, however the side will be concerned with their accuracy – or lack thereof – heading into the last few rounds before finals. Monique Conti took the field for the first time since early June to bolster the side, kicking two goals on return and collection 18 disposals, five marks and five tackles on her way to best on ground for Richmond. Alice Edmonds was prolific in the ruck with 35 hitouts while Sabrina Frederick kicked two goals from 10 touches in her first win at the club and Alana Woodward collected a whopping 20 tackles. Despite a disappointing overall performance, the likes of Sharnie Whiting (24 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Gemma Anderson (12 disposals, seven tackles) were among the best for the Seagulls.

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 5.5 (35)
CARLTON 0.3 | 0.3 | 2.3 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS
Collingwood:
J. Lambert 2, S. Alexander, N. Hales, S. Chiocci.
Carlton: D. Vescio, C. Leighton, B. Gurr, C. Wilson.

BEST
Collingwood:
B. Davey, J. Lambert, G. Lagioia, A. Porter, S. Casey, G. Buchan
Carlton: C. Dalton, D. Vescio, K. Loynes, L. Brazzale, G. Parker, C. Wilson

It was another close match following Saturday’s battle, with Carlton well and truly taking it to the ladder-leading Magpies to only go down by seven points. The Blues struggled in the first half to put goals on the board, before a four goal to two late resurgence showed some of the impressive intent and intensity this Carlton side can apply. However it was a case of too little and too late with the Magpies just too strong this time around. Once again a match saving goal from Sophie Alexander was what the Pies needed to get over the line, leaving little opportunity for the Blues to claw back. For Collingwood Jaimee Lambert was impressive as ever, kicking another two goals to add to her tally while also picking up 23 touches as she used her footy smarts to both set up clever plays and put goals on the board. Steph Chiocci (20 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continued her good form with another consistent performance while Bri Davey collected 19 touches against her former side despite being ruled out with injury in the final term. For the Blues, Maddy Prespakis was solid with 22 disposals and four marks while Katie Loynes (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Chloe Dalton (16 disposals, 10 tackles) were also right up in the contest.

CASEY 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.6 (18)
DAREBIN 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS
Casey:
K. Hore 2.
Darebin: S. Fairchild, N. Morris-Dalton.

BEST
Casey:
T. Hanks, K. Smith, H. Cordner, G. McLean, M. Downie, A. McDonough
Darebin: L. Pearce, E. O’Dea, V. Blackwood, S. David, A. Lister, K. Roe

In yet another match that kept players on their toes down to the final siren, Darebin gave Casey a scare in a one point thriller at Casey Fields. With two Falcons playing their AFL Women’s side there was a lot on the line for both teams in the relatively low scoring affair, with neither side able to capitalise in front of goal. The Demons started well defensively, keeping the Falcons scoreless in the first but having plenty of issues getting on the board with only one goal in the first half, before the Falcons shot back with one of their own midway through the second to even up the ledger, sitting ahead by one point at half-time. A highly contested third quarter came next, with neither team able to find the goals before a 1.4 final term from the Dees just barely got them over the line after trailing by one at the final change. Kate Hore was Casey’s saving grace, kicking both Demons goals and collecting nine tackles – only behind Shelley Scott with 11 tackles, while Lily Mithen (26 disposals, six marks, seven tackles) and Libby Birch (17 disposals, four tackles) combined well across the field. Meanwhile, Darebin’s Lauren Pearce showcased her versatility to finish with a whopping 35 hitouts, 25 touches, six marks and six tackles, aided by Elise O’Dea who continued her fine form with 24 touches and 10 tackles while Nell Morris-Dalton impressed in her second outing for the side with one goal from 12 touches and six tackles.

GEELONG 4.1 | 6.3 | 7.7 | 9.8 (62)
NT THUNDER 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

GOALS
Geelong:
S. Van De Heuvel 2, G. Clarke 2, R. Caris 2, J. Woollett, M. Maguire, R. Benham.
NT Thunder: T. Thorn, M. Roberts, C. Whan.

BEST
Geelong:
R. Webster, R. Cranston, T. Love, R. Caris, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel
NT Thunder: E. Marinoff, M. Breed, T. Thorn, K. Streader, J. Baird, C. Deegan

In the second blowout margin of the round, Geelong got a convincing win over Thunder to put themselves in a position to push for a top-six finish. A convincing first half all but set up the victory, with six goals to two at the main change giving the Cats plenty of confidence coming into the second half. A more inaccurate second half saw the Cats unable to replicate their strong start, however their defensive effort left little to be desired with only one score on the board to Thunder in the second half. Sophie Van De Heuvel, Georgia Clarke and Rene Caris kicked two goals apiece in a shared effort, collecting a combined 36 touches while Caris followed up her effort in the ruck with 31 hitouts against young gun, Mattea Breed with 18 hitouts and 10 touches. Richelle Cranston racked up 24 touches and 11 tackles in an impressive effort, while Danielle Orr picked up 25 touches and four behinds. For Thunder, Ebony Marinoff made her triumphant return having sat out since Round 2, collecting 25 touches and a phenomenal 19 tackles to be best on ground. Lisa Roberts also put in the hard yards with 15 disposals and seven tackles while Tayla Thorn had 13 touches, five tackles and a goal for her best and most consistent performance this season.

MELBOURNE UNI 2.0 | 6.2 | 7.4 | 8.4 (52)
HAWTHORN 3.0 | 5.0 | 11.0 | 12.3 (75)

GOALS
Melbourne Uni:
K. Angelis 2, K. Gillespie-Jones 2, K. Ashmore, L. Walsh, H. Whitford, J. Garner.
Hawthorn: T. Luke 3, S. Perkins 3, S. Gibbs 2, O. Flanagan 2, P. McWilliams, R. Beeson.

BEST
Melbourne Uni:
K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore, H. Whitford, B. Gibson
Hawthorn: S. Perkins, T. Luke, C. O’Donnell, S. Gibbs, O. Flanagan, J. Sibley

The highest scoring match of the round was always set to be the final game of the weekend with a big battle between fourth and sixth – only separated by percentage. A win to the Hawks sees the two sides all but swap their ladder positions, with Hawthorn jumping into fifth while Uni slip into sixth with Geelong hot on their tail. It was a relatively close affair up to half time with both sides finding patches of good form, before Hawthorn took hold of the lead in the third and refused to let go against a gallant Mugars outfit. The Hawks’ composure and cleanliness impressed, with the side kicking straight for the most part and 11 straight goals by three quarter time to well and truly control the contest. To Uni’s credit they stayed in the match with their tenacity going for the footy, but were unable to consolidate their halftime lead with only two goals after the main break. With six multiple goal kickers spread across the two teams it was an impressive contest, while both sides shared the load well across the field with no dominant standouts. The ruck match between Lou Wotton (34 hitouts, 10 touches, five tackles) and Vivien Saad (28 hitouts, 11 touches, four tackles) was relatively even, making for a very interesting contest with plenty of players getting good access to the footy. Sarah Perkins and Tamara Luke both kicked three for the Hawks, closely followed by Serena Gibbs and Olivia Flanagan with two apiece. For the Mugars, Kate Gillespie-Jones was consistent as ever with 21 disposals and two goals followed by Katie Angelis with another two goals and 14 touches, while Jasmine Garner had another strong performance with 19 touches and a goal.