Tag: eliza straford

2021 VFLW Round 9 wrap: Contenders solidify the top six

EACH of the current top six Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s sides earned wins in Round 9, as the ladder positions grow increasingly rigid. Among the victors, Essendon, Geelong, and Collingwood all flexed their muscle to come away over 50 points to the good, hitting top form with finals time now just over a month away. We take you through the results from all six fixtures, five of which were played on a super Saturday.

>> ONE-STOP SITE: VFLW page 

ESSENDON 2.4 | 6.9 | 6.11 | 10.12 (72)
CARLTON 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

Essendon solidified its standing in the top six with a thumping win over traditional rival, Carlton on Saturday morning, coming away 53-point victors at Windy Hill. A six-goal to two first half meant the Bombers were well on top and while the Blues managed to bring it back to an arm-wrestle in term three, they had few answers for Essendon’s forward firepower and depth across the field.

Skipper Georgia Nanscawen continued her spectacular season with 24 touches and nine tackles to earn full votes for the Bombers, while Federica Frew led a brigade of eight individual goalkickers with three majors. Also among the goalkickers, Brisbane-listed gun Ruby Svarc returned in the red and black with aplomb, as Mia-Rae Clifford looked lively for her 1.3 from 12 touches.

On a tough day for the Blues, senior-listed midfield pair proved a class above the rest in midfield. Abbie McKay notched a game-high 26 disposals and 10 tackles in her first VFLW hitout for the year, supported well by Grace Egan who added 19 touches and a goal. Courtney Jones was another of Carlton’s three goalkickers, staying busy despite her side’s low score.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 3, M. Clifford, K. Heil, R. Svarc, J. Davies, L. Stepnell, T. Crook, N. MacDonald
Carlton: G. Egan, S. Lawrence, C. Jones

BEST:

Essendon: G. Nanscawen, E. Hosking, F. Frew, R. Svarc, J. Davies, S. Nalder
Carlton: A. McKay, C. Jones, P. Trudgeon, C. Hammans, E. Honybun, G. Egan

DAREBIN FALCONS 2.2 | 4.2 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.5 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 8.10 (58)

Port Melbourne bounced back onto the winners list on Saturday morning, but was made to earn it against a plucky Darebin Falcons outfit at Bill Lawry Oval. After the Falcons made better of their chances to draw level at half time, the Borough managed to edge ahead at the last break before kicking away in term four to secure the 24-point away victory. The result keeps Port firmly in second spot.

Richmond-listed youngster Sophie Molan earned full votes for the Borough with an equal-game high 20 disposals, matched by Courteney Bromage. Recently delisted Tigers forward Emily Harley served a reminder of her potential with four goals, as Katherine Smith slotted seamlessly into the Borough side with 17 touches and five tackles.

For the Falcons, Victoria Blackwood was the third player on the day to notch 20 disposals, supported well by those with AFLW experience in Jess Dal Pos and Nicole Callinan, who each managed 18 touches. Alice Caddy was Darebin’s sole multiple goalkicker, booting three to make up over half of her side’s overall score.

GOALS:

Darebin: A. Caddy 3, A. Reibelt, J. Dal Pos
Port Melbourne: E. Harley 4, S. Locke, L. McClelland, N. Borg, S. Molan

BEST:

Darebin: V. Blackwood, K. Hazlett, J. Dal Pos, N. Callinan, A. Lister, A. Caddy
Port Melbourne: S. Molan, E. Harley, C. Bromage, C. Dyett, S. Frederick, M. Kuys

GEELONG 4.1 | 9.5 | 11.5 | 15.9 (99)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)

Geelong fell just short of registering a ton in its comprehensive win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, extending the Cats’ win streak to five while ending the Dogs’ two-game run. Having shot out of the blocks with nine goals to nil in a first half romp at Deakin University, the Cats never looked back and rode out the match comfortable 75-point victors.

Four of the Cats’ eight individual goalkickers snared multiples, with Georgia Clarke and Richelle Cranston doing the most damage in a riotous outing. Single goalkicker Annabel Johnson was named Geelong’s best, as Laura Gardiner accumulated a game-high 27 disposals, and Madeline Keryk and Amy McDonald both had 23.

Debutant Caitlin Sargent was among the Bulldogs’ two goalkickers, as the likes of Angelica Gogos and Danielle Marshall (both 22 disposals) led the charge. Youngsters Isabelle Pritchard (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Sarah Hartwig (13 and 12) both got their hands dirty in the loss, with the latter playing just her second VFLW game after an outstanding first senior season.

GOALS:

Geelong: G. Clarke 4, R. Cranston 3, S. Williams 2, T. Smith 2, J. Woollett, D. Moloney, A. Johnson, P. Sheppard
Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton, C. Sargent

BEST:

Geelong: A. Johnson, M. Keryk, C. Gunjaca, G. Clarke, A. McDonald, T. Smith
Bulldogs: A. Gogos, D. Marshall, S. Ruedin, S. Hartwig, I. Pritchard, G. Lagioia

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
CASEY DEMONS 3.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 | 10.8 (68)

Casey’s spot in the top six is looking more secure after a 42-point victory over North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Demons boasted a handy half time buffer and continued to apply scoreboard pressure thereafter, with the game all but over at three quarter time as they led by 53 points. North added a couple of consolation goals in term four, but were soundly beaten.

A three-pronged Demon attack of Alyssa Bannan, Imogen Milford, and Gabby Colvin produced six majors as the trio snared two apiece in a show of great firepower. Meanwhile, Eliza West led all comers with 26 disposals and also found the big sticks, as senior-listed players like Libby Birch continue to filter into the state league and make an impact.

Meg Sinclair proved North’s greatest form of response as she booted three of the Roos’ four goals in just her third game for 2021. Reni Hicks dug in to finish with 14 disposals and 10 tackles, while Meagan Kiely managed a team-high 25 touches. Currently a game outside the top six and with stiff competition behind, the Roos will have to dig deep to qualify for finals this season.

GOALS:

North: M. Sinclair 3, B. Lynch
Casey: G. Colvin 2, I. Milford 2, A. Bannan 2, M. Gay, E. West, K. Thompson, M. Harasimiuk

BEST:

North: R. Hicks, M. Sinclair, B. Lynch, S. Wright, A. Runnalls, A. Smith
Casey: E. West, L. Birch, C. Sherriff, A. Kirkwood, M. Macdonald, B. Winbanks

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.2 | 7.2 | 11.3 (69)

Collingwood extended its perfect streak in season 2021 with an ominous 67-point thumping of Williamstown on Saturday afternoon, making it eight wins on the trot. The Magpies kept their opponents goalless throughout, and scoreless for half the game while feasting at the other end with ruthless accuracy. A seven-goal second half truly put the cherry on top of a dominant performance.

The Seagulls had no answer for Abbi Moloney, who snagged four goals from 16 disposals in a best afield display. The young tall was joined by Matilda Zander and Sophie Alexander in the goals as they both booted three and featured among the winners’ votes. Sarah King also battled hard in the ruck for 28 hitouts.

Speaking of the ruck, Eliza McGrath registered a whopping 58 hitouts, as Aimee Whelan was the only Seagull to tick over 20 touches on the day. Tahlia Merrett was named best-on in the losing effort, ahead of the likes of Whelan, and pair Eliza Straford and Ruby Tripodi who combined for 16 disposals and 17 tackles.

GOALS:

Williamstown: Nil
Collingwood: A. Moloney 4, M. Zander 3, S. Alexander 3, A. Newman

BEST:

Williamstown: T. Merrett, A. Whelan, R. Tripodi, E. Straford, A. Dickie, L. Suleiman
Collingwood: A. Moloney, S. Alexander, K. Lee, J. Ferguson, M. Zander, S. King

SOUTHERN SAINTS 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.8 | 6.8 (44)
HAWTHORN 0.2 | 3.2 | 3.3 | 4.8 (32)

The Southern Saints remain clear in sixth spot after fending off a valiant Hawthorn side in Sunday’s standalone fixture, winning by 12 points at Trevor Barker Oval. Having shot to a three-goal lead at the opening break, the Saints were pegged back well in a low-scoring affair and could only edge just over a goal ahead going into the last. They held firm, extending that buffer for their fourth win of the year.

First year midfielder Alice Burke again topped the disposal charts with 21 in the red, white and black, but Alexandra Hynes (10 disposals, 15 hitouts) was named the Saints’ best. Claudia Whitfort registered a goal from her 19 touches, while the likes of Hannah Stuart and Rebecca Neaves also earned votes in the win.

Kristen Hay had arguably her best game of the year with 14 disposals and three marks, seeing her earn plaudits from the Hawthorn staff. Tamara Luke had as many hitouts as disposals (12), while Kristy Stratton again found the goals in her second game for the Hawks, and Grace McRae had a solid debut with 11 touches and five tackles.

GOALS:

Southern: T. Bohanna 2, R. Saulitis, K. Ripari, A. Harris, T. Kearns
Hawthorn: E. Gilder 2, K. Stratton, C. O’Malley

BEST:

Southern: A. Hynes, C. Whitfort, R. Neaves, A. Burke, L. Burke, H. Stuart
Hawthorn: K. Hay, T. Luke, N. Garner, S. Bolding, K. Stratton, E. Gilder

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 8 wrap: Dogs move within range of top six as Casey topple Borough

PORT Melbourne suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of a stacked Casey Demons outfit, while Western Bulldogs continued to make their move towards the top six, defeating Southern Saints under lights to kick off Round 8 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

>> VFL WOMEN’S PAGE

WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 | 1.4 | 2.8 | 4.10 (34)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)

Under lights at Whitten Oval, the Western Bulldogs well and truly made up for their last game in the same time slot earlier in the season, taking care of the Southern Saints by 18 points. It was a crucial win for the Bulldogs, who moved to within percentage of the top six, and despite not scoring in the first term, booed three goals to one in the second half to secure the 4.10 (34) to 2.4 (16) victory. They arguably could have won by more with 14 scoring shots to six, though it was the impressive work of Nell Morris-Dalton and Danielle Marshall up front who did the damage, slotting two majors each. Elisabeth Georgostathis and Ellyse Gamble combined for 48 disposals, whilst the defence of Simone Ruedin, Sarah Hartwig and Brooke Hards were instrumental in the win. Angelica Gogos had another strong game in her second match back, while for the Saints, debutant Jemma Radford stood tall with some nice highlights. AFLW-listed players Molly McDonald and Alice Burke were busy, as Tahlia Meyer also feasted upon her debut in the VFLW side, sharing 53 disposals with Burke. Deanna Jolliffe was named best on for the Dogs, kicking one of their two goals, while Rebecca Neaves was also impressive in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

>> Bulldogs out of the dog house and off the leash

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton 2, D. Marshall 2.
Southern Saints: K. Ripari, D. Jolliffe.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, A. Gogos , D. Marshall, E. Gamble, S. Ruedin, A. Scott.
Southern Saints: D. Jolliffe, M. McDonald, R. Neaves, M. Bertuna, J. Radford, A. Burke

PORT MELBOURNE 2.2 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)
CASEY DEMONS 2.0 | 3.4 | 7.6 | 10.8 (68)

A dominant second half has helped Casey Demons inflict Port Melbourne’s first loss of the season, piling on seven goals to two after half-time to win by 40 points. The Demons trailed by two points at the first break, but hit the front by the main break with the only goal of the season term, before pulling away to win, 10.8 (68) to 4.4 (28). Alyssa Bannan made a successful debut at VFLW level with three majors, countering that of her experienced opponent down the other end in Sabrina Frederick who caused headaches for the Demons defence with the first two goals for her side. Fellow Demons AFLW-listed players in Maddison Gay (22 disposals) and Jacqueline Parry (20) also slotted in seamlessly, as Eliza West (21 and eight tackles) and Megan Fitzsimon (18 and six tackles) continued their good form this season. For the Borough, Olivia Barton and Mel Kuys led the way, having 18 and 17 disposals respectively, and laying four tackles apiece. Elizabeth Wilson kicked the other goal for the home side off 14 touches and 18 hitouts, while Phillipa Peschke and Sarah Sansonetti were lively.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 3, E. Wilson.
Casey Demons: A. Bannan 3, E. Humphries 2, S. Johnson, J. Parry, S. Fairchild, I. Milford, K. Thompson.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: P. Peschke, S. Frederick, S. Sansonetti, S. Locke, C. Dyett, M. Kuys
Casey Demons: E. West, I. Milford, S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, A. Bannan, S. Johnson

DAREBIN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.5 | 1.5 (11)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.6 | 6.6 | 11.9 (75)

Geelong Cats took a little while to get going, but then put the foot down against the last placed Darebin, running out 64-point winners at Bill Lawry Oval. The Cats led by a straight kick at quarter time and 21 points at half-time, before piling on 8.3 to 1.2 in the second half, including five goals to zero in the last term in order to secure the 11.9 (75) to 1.5 (11) victory. The AFLW contingent of Sophie Van De Heuvel (25 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Laura Gardiner (24 disposals, 10 tackles and two goals) and Darcy Moloney (22 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) all had plenty of the footy, as Olivia Barber slotted three goals from 15 touches and six marks. Claudia Gunjaca, Georgie Rankin and Paige Sheppard were also among the best as the Cats continued their red-hot recent form. For the Falcons, Jess Dal Pos returned from New South Wales to put up 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles, and aid AFLW-experienced talents in Nicole Callinan (18 disposals, four marks and 11 tackles) and Alyssa Mifsud (14 disposals, six tackles and 17 hitouts). Hayley Munro, Ellen Buckley and Ashleigh Gunn were all named among the team’s best in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Darebin: H. Munro.
Geelong: L. Gardiner 3, O. Barber 3, D. Moloney, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Boyd, A. Johnson, G. Clarke.

BEST:

Darebin: A. Mifsud, N. Callinan, J. Dal Pos, H. Munro, E. Buckley, A. Gunn
Geelong: O. Barber, C. Gunjaca, G. Rankin, B. Beckley, P. Sheppard, D. Moloney

HAWTHORN 1.1 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 5.6 (36)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.6 | 2.8 (20)

Hawthorn leapfrogged Williamstown out of the bottom two with its second win of the season, getting up by 16 points at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday. The Hawks kicked the first three goals of the game to lead by 17 points at half-time, and whilst the Seagulls did manage to keep touch – and kick two of the last four goals – it would not be enough as the brown and gold saluted at home, 5.6 (36) to 2.8 (20). Dominique Carbone kicked a couple of majors and really impressed across the ground, as did key position player Tamara Luke (one goal). It was no surprise to see in her 250th game of senior footy that Meg Hutchins was a standout, while Sophie Bolding was named best on ground. Jenna Richardson and Chloe Bain were also named among the winning side’s best on the day. For Williamstown, Erin Meade was yet again outstanding, as Eliza Straford and Ella Baxter‘s strong seasons continued. Elizabeth McGrath and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster kicked the two goals for their sides, but it would not be enough in the end.

>> MATCH STATISTICS (will be updated once completed on the app)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: D. Carbone 2, T. Luke, E. Mcilvena , A. Malander.
Williamstown: G. Biedenweg-Webster, E. McGrath.

BEST:

Hawthorn: S. Bolding, T. Luke, M. Hutchins, D. Carbone, J. Richardson, C. Bain
Williamstown: E. Meade, E. Straford, E. Baxter, R. Tripodi, A. Whelan, L. Suleiman

ESSENDON 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.8 (38)

Collingwood has held off a determined Essendon at The Hangar, thanks to a strong second half, and in particular final quarter which saw the Magpies boot the last two goals of the game to win by 10 points. The Bombers looked strong early, but could never shake the Pies, and despite Mia-Rae Clifford booting an early goal in the fourth term to cut the deficit to one, the Magpies kicked away with the next two to blow it out to 15 points before a late consolation prize made the final scores 5.8 (38) to 4.4 (28). Collingwood welcomed back some of its AFL Women’s talent, with Sophie Alexander being a threat in the air, clunking seven marks from 17 touches, and while she did not hit the scoreboard in a major way – two behinds – she shared the load inside 50 with Imogen Barnett (13 disposals, six marks and one goal), Matilda Zander (13 disposals, one goal) and Aliesha Newman (12 disposals, one goal). Marla Neal was a clear standout for the Pies though, racking up the ball at will with 28 touches, as well as laying 14 tackles and a slotting a goal, while Jasmine Ferguson (12 disposals, four marks) and Caitlin Bunker (20 disposals, four marks) did well throughout the match. For the Bombers, Cecilia McIntosh dominated in the first half on her way to 22 disposals and six marks, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Elisabeth Hosking (14 disposals, eight tackles), Eloise Gardner (12 disposals) and Elizabeth Snell (14 disposals) all stood strong. Clifford’s three goals from nine touches, three marks and five tackles threatened to change the game.

>> ELIZABETH SNELL PLAYER FOCUS

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Essendon: M. Clifford 3, E. Mackay.
Collingwood: M. Zander, A. Newman, B. Smith, I. Barnett, M. Neal.

BEST:

Essendon: C. McIntosh, E. Ashley-Cooper, M. Clifford, J. Davies, E. Gardner, K. Heil
Collingwood: S. Alexander, M. Neal, J. Ferguson, M. Shevlin, K. Lee, S. King

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1 | 4.5 | 4.9 | 6.11 (47)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)

North Melbourne has won its third game of the season in style, proving too strong for Carlton, and keeping the Blues to just one goal in the match. It was the second time in three rounds that the Blues kicked a goal or less after pushing Port Melbourne in between, but on the day, North Melbourne’s four first-quarter goals were the difference during the 6.11 (47) to 1.0 (6) victory. Sarah Skinner‘s unbelievable form continued with a whopping 32 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal, teaming up perfectly with those in the back half, as Meagan Kiely (26 disposals, four marks and seven tackles), Molly Eastman (22 disposals, five marks and five tackles) and Bella Eddey (22 disposals, five marks) all finding plenty of the ball. Daria Bannister slotted two goals from 20 touches and 10 tackles in her return to the level with Eddey, while Annalise Vine who switched to the Roos from the Hawks played her best game of the season with 16 disposals and seven marks. Brooke Brown was named best-on by the Roos coaching staff for her 16 touches and nine marks. For the Blues, Teresa Zampaliogne had a team-high 20 disposals as well as five tackles and three marks, while AFLW-listed talents, Charlotte Hammans (19 disposals) and Winnie Laing (18 and six tackles) were both busy. Eliza Wood was named the Blues’ best with 15 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and a goal, while Paige Trudgeon (11 disposals, six tackles) and Bry Gurr (16 disposals) were also busy despite the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

North: L. Wright 2, D. Bannister 2, S. Skinner, N. Celebre.
Carlton: E. Wood.

BEST:

North: B. Brown, M. Eastman, D. Bannister, J. Mourney, S. Skinner, K. Price
Carlton: E. Wood, C. Hammans, P. Trudgeon, T. Zampaglione, B. Gurr, W. Laing

2021 VFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Revamped state league returns after lost season

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition returns this weekend, with a revamped structure seeing the season run concurrently with that of the AFL Women’s (AFLW). As somewhat of a reserves league to aligned sides in the top flight, the VFLW features 12 teams in 2021, including Port Melbourne after the Borough took on Richmond’s license. Round 1 sees fixtures spread evenly over Saturday and Sunday, starting at Arden Street as North Melbourne hosts Port Melbourne.

North Melbourne vs. Port Melbourne
Saturday February 27, 10:00am
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne welcomes competition newcomer, Port Melbourne to the VFL Women’s on Saturday morning as the two sides open season 2021 at Arden Street Oval. While still a proud standalone club, the Borough has taken on Richmond’s VFLW license and will thus have access to Tigers players who miss out on AFLW selection. Likewise, North Melbourne’s top flight alignment will see some senior listed Kangaroos line up in the blue and white each week.

The likes of Richmond forward Christina Bernardi and Melissa Kuys will be among the experienced names set to lead the Borough’s efforts, while an all-Richmond half-back line of Hannah McLaren, Sarah Sansonetti, and Laura McClelland should prove difficult to budge. Murray Bushrangers graduate Sophie Locke is another exciting young talent in Port’s side, named in the back pocket.

New Roo Katelyn Cox is set for a reserves outing in North’s midfield, lining up next to Meagan Kiely and Bethany Lynch with Lexi Hamilton a handy ruck to be roving under. Nikki Wallace, another with AFLW experience lines up in defence and Brooke Brown gets a gig at the other end of the ground. Brown was taken by North Melbourne as a surprise father-daughter selection in 2020.

Expect North Melbourne’s hardness and pressure around the ball to be a real feature, as Port looks to bring an exciting transition style to the fore in what should be a competitive start to the 2021 season.

Geelong vs. Collingwood
Saturday February 27, 12:00pm
Deakin University, Geelong (Waurn Ponds)

AFLW-aligned sides Geelong and Collingwood go head-to-head at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds on Saturday afternoon, looking to start their campaigns on the right foot. Both sides boast a strong mix of youth and experience in their Round 1 lineups, with the Cats benefitting significantly from their alignment to the top flight when it comes to the young talent at their disposal. Collingwood, of course, remains the reigning premier after the 2020 season was scrapped.

Among the exciting brigade of up-and-comers, Olivia Barber has been named at full forward and will spearhead the attack alongside skipper, Michelle Fedele. Paige Sheppard is poised to make her return to football in the hoops, named among an exciting midfield with Cats AFLW youngsters Laura Gardiner, Darcy Moloney, and ruck Rene Caris having all gained experience at senior level.

Collingwood’s tall stocks should trouble the Cats, particularly up forward. Senior ruck Bella Smith takes up the full forward spot with Sarah King set to take the first bounce, while Imogen Barnett is another to watch in Collingwood’s front half. Smith’s former Norwood teammate Matilda Zander looms as an exciting addition from the SANFL, with the Magpies’ forward depth pushing Amelia Velardo to half-back.

The Magpies will look to adopt a similar gameplan to their AFLW side, looking to take the game on in transition with an exciting handball style while also taking hold of the game when required. Geelong will also play an attacking brand, with youthful exuberance and instinct also poised to come into the Cats’ thinking.

Carlton vs. Casey Demons
Saturday February 27, 2:00pm
Princes Park

Another all-aligned clash takes place at Princes Park as Carlton and Casey Demons lock horns, rounding out Saturday’s fixtures. The Blues have hit the reset button on their VFLW program and will look a very fresh side this year, adopting a strong youth focus to help feed their AFLW squad. Casey also has strong ties to its AFLW-aligned team in Melbourne, with a fit and strong Demons unit out to prove just how fruitful their preseason has been.

The Blues will be led from the back with skipper Ally Bild lining up next to vice-captain Jen Lew across half-back, while Carlton-listed speedster Charlotte Hammans completes the line. Coming down from Cairns, Jasmine Ware is another to watch in Carlton’s defence, while Akayla Peterson looms as a high-upside type at the other end. Carlton draftees Winnie Laing and Paige Trudgeon will also get some run into their legs in the front half.

Casey captain Samantha Johnson is her side’s major off-season coup and will anchor the midfield alongside first year Melbourne midfielder, Megan Fitzsimon. Both will benefit from the ruckwork of Maggie Caris, while an all-Melbourne half-back line of Mietta Kendall, Isabella Simmons, and Irishwoman Lauren Magee should prove exciting to watch. Brenna Tarrant also features at full back, with three senior games under her belt this year.

With new coach Peter Mercoulia also embedded in Melbourne’s coaching staff, Casey will look to play fast and put heavy scoreboard pressure on. Carlton is led by a new coach of its own in Luke O’Shannessy, who should be able to extract great things from the Blues’ young talent with his vast pathways experience.

Western Bulldogs vs. Hawthorn
Sunday February 28, 10:00am
Whitten Oval

The Western Bulldogs kick off their 2021 campaign at home as Hawthorn rolls into town on Sunday morning, looking to take a big scalp early. The Bulldogs have built one of the best young AFLW lists, with the vast array of talent spilling into its reserves side and making for an exciting squad on paper. The standalone Hawks are also strong on youth, but have attracted some big-name experience with Bec Goddard set to take the reins as head coach for the first time since 2018.

An embarrassment of riches sees the Bulldogs’ forwardline stacked with five AFLW-listed talents, including Isabella Grant, Gemma Lagioia, and the experienced Lauren Spark. Mary Sandral is the lone VFLW-listed player to start in attack, though the likes of Nicole McMahon (ruck), skipper Riley Christgoergl (half-back), and vice-captain Katelyn Betts (centre) will be consistent VFLW figures this year. Under McMahon, the likes of Isabelle Pritchard, Brooke Hards, and Britney Gutknecht should be served well in midfield.

Some well-renowned names in female footballing circles will provide invaluable experience to Hawthorn’s fledgling side, with stalwart Meg Hutchins poised to take on a number of roles aside from her forwardline listing, while Abbey Holmes is a tough body at the contest who will rotate forward through midfield. Skipper Jess Trend is another with AFLW experience who should impact greatly, while Northern Territory recruit Dominique Carbone has serious potential. She is set for her VFLW debut on the same weekend the Darwin Buffettes play finals back home.

The Hawks should prove a well structured side under Goddard and will be sure to crack in hard, though the abundance of promising young options for the Bulldogs will be incredibly tough to overcome. Should they not rely on too few, the Hawks will be ultra competitive in the face of the Dogs’ rawness and fierce style.

Essendon vs. Southern Saints
Sunday February 28, 10:30am
The Hangar

Essendon is set to unveil its shiny new facilities at The Hangar on Sunday morning, hosting the Southern Saints in what should be a competitive clash. Gunning for an AFLW license, the Bombers remain standalone but have built a strong list with more continuity than other sides heading into 2021. The Saints have their St Kilda alignment to lean on, but are looking strong in their own right after a solid preseason.

Anchoring Essendon’s side will be skipper Georgia Nanscawen, who is part of a terrific spine in the red and black. Cecilia McIntosh lines up down back, while Courtney Ugle provides some grunt, and Mia-Rae Clifford gets a fresh start up forward. Of the up-and-comers, Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba have already performed well in the sash, with a host of young prospects set to filter through Essendon’s lineup as the season progresses.

Tara Bohanna (full back) and Deanna Jolliffe (rover) will lead the Saints out as co-captain Frankie Hocking has not been named. Georgia McLean is one to watch off half-back having crossed from Casey, while Poppy Kelly and Alice Burke are the only St Kilda AFLW players to feature in the lineup – both named on the interchange bench ahead of three emergencies from the senior squad.

The Saints have not put a ceiling on their potential and promise to open the game up with unpredictable ball movement. The Bombers’ continuity as a group and greater poise with such experience could well play a factor in this clash, with both sides backing their cohesion after so long away from competitive action.

Darebin vs. Williamstown
Sunday February 28, 11:30am
La Trobe University, Bundoora

Pioneer club, the Darebin Falcons take on Williamstown in Round 1’s closing fixture on Sunday, set to play out at La Trobe University in Bundoora. Both proud standalone clubs, these two sides will be made up purely of VFLW-listed talent early on before gaining access to NAB League and potentially even AFLW talent as those seasons are run and done. The two sides already faced off during preseason, with Williamstown winning by 11 points at the same venue.

Led by the returning Stephanie Simpson, Darebin has a bunch of leaders set to build the standards under coach Mitch Skelly. In defence, Gena Lawson-Tavan is one who promises to do exactly that as vice-captain, while fellow leaders Cherelle Byrne (centre) and Alyssa Mifsud (full forward) are other leaders littered up and down the spine. One Falcon to watch is Stephanie Elarmaly, a youngster who has come through Darebin’s youth system.

2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid crossed from Collingwood after her flag triumph, and takes over an exciting standalone squad. Skipper Erin Meade has locked in a spot at half-back, with reigning best and fairest winner Megan Williamson set to resume her midfield duties. Asha Price and Eliza Straford should be good value up forward, while Scarlett Dunell, the sister of former Seagull Sam lines up in defence.

There is often a great unknown around the standalone sides, especially after so long away from competitive action, but the two sides will know each other well after their preseason meeting and will get a good assessment of their 2021 chances in this bout.

Image Credit: Kelly Defina/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW season preview: Williamstown

WILLIAMSTOWN boasts a squad brimming with fresh faces and young talent ahead of the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season. After the 2020 season was cancelled, the Seagulls have faced an agonising wait to make good on their 2019 campaign which yielded just one victory in 13 games.

The proud standalone club will again prepare to be lead by head coach Penny Cula-Reid, who coached Collingwood to the 2019 premiership. With a list made up of true VFLW talent and strong coups to build on important re-signings, the Seagulls will look to compete with aligned clubs and nurture the draftable talent potentially entering their program from elite pathways.

While the latest round of practice matches was scrapped due to lockdown laws, the Seagulls managed to fit one in before restrictions were put in place. They locked horns with the Darebin Falcons at La Trobe University and came up trumps by 11 points, showing great maturity to start and finish the game strongly. The win came after players participated in a three-day camp in Trafalgar, preparing them mentally and physically for the fast-approaching season proper.

Erin Meade was announced as captain for 2021 having become a mainstay among her side’s defence and midfield, leading a promising mix in the engine room. 2019 best and fairest winner Megan Williamson is set to play a key part in proceedings once again, while the likes of fellow inaugural Seagull Lauren Suleiman, Ruby Tripodi, and Eliza Straford have all also re-committed to the club.

Tahlia Merrett and Asha Price have been identified as two players to watch up forward having both come to the fore during preseason. Merrett is a rising star of the competition who is usually sighted down back, but the raw tall has been pegged for a move to centre half-forward this year. 23-year-old Price was a 2020 signing from Melbourne University and will likely be employed deeper inside the attacking arc.

Among the new recruits, former NAB League trio Zoe Garth, Payton Ozols, and Malaya Rodezno all come in with plenty of promise. Garth hails from the Geelong Falcons region and was a highly touted junior who adds to Williamstown’s outside run. Ozols is a fast-improving defender who also moves well, while Rodezno is a former basketballer who adds to the club’s tall stocks.

The club has also announced the signings of Danika Di Santo, Tori Snelleksz, Bridget Costello, Allana Dickie, Scarlett Dunell, and Sasha Long. No fixture has been released, but the 2021 season is set to get underway in late-February, running adjacently with the AFL Women’s and NAB League Girls seasons which have already commenced.

Image Credit: Williamstown FC

Weekend preview: 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League – Round 3

ROUND 3 of the 2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League season will see all four matches played on Saturday once more, with bottom of the ladder Tracy Village set to sit out with the bye this round. Nightcliff and Pint still remain undefeated at the top of the ladder after solid starts to the season, while this round will be headlined by a 2019/20 grand final rematch between Southern Districts and Waratah with both sides sitting towards the lower end of the ladder after two rounds.

St Mary’s vs. Darwin Buffettes
Saturday, October 17

Darwin Buffettes may have only played the one match for the season so far but well and truly exploded out of the blocks last week, compared to St Mary’s who showcased impressive form in Round 1 but could not consolidate on a huge third quarter fight back and eventually went down in a close affair with Pint. With so many quality players across the field and both teams seemingly in solid form heading into this match, expect the Saints to explode out of the blocks and the Buffs to use their flurry of forward targets to apply plenty of scoreboard pressure. Machaelia Roberts and Zoe Anderson fired on all cylinders last round for Darwin, booting four goals apiece, while both Michaela Long and Ash Melnikas have been handy goalkickers for the Saints. Melnikas and Megan Williamson have been named among the best in both matches for the Saints, while Molly Althouse impressed for the Buffs last round.

Southern Districts vs. Waratah
Saturday, October 17

Southern Districts need a win this week in the grand final rematch to restore some of their 2019/20 dignity after a rough start to the season, going down by 48 points in Round 1 and 49 points in Round 2. While the Crocs are by no means lacking options up forward, they have seemed to lack that forward push and volume up forward, and this could be the side’s best chance to do so against Waratah with the Warriors also coming in off the back of a loss in Round 2 and a default victory in Round 1 – although the default came when the side was ahead. Just two players have hit the scoreboard more than once for Waratah, with usual suspect Jenna Singh and newbie Caitlin Couch kicking two apiece over the first two matches, while Danica Pedersen and Eliza Straford have been solid across the ground. For Districts, Megan Crauford is a solid target. 

Pint vs. Palmerston Magpies
Saturday, October 17

Palmerston will head into this round renewed after the bye, but come in against an improved Pint outfit that sits in second on the ladder with two wins from two. Pint has proved it has a heap of firepower and while an excellent first round victory showcased the side’s winning ability, it was a low-scoring victory in Round 2 that makes this battle so interesting given the side’s ability to outlast under pressure. Look for Amy Chittick and Jasmyn Hewitt inside 50 when it comes to Pint with both players able to hit the scoreboard, while Jacinta Reid, Rebecca Pryer and Cassie Henderson have had solid starts to the season. For the Magpies, fans will hope that Cassie Ormsby can return to the fray after a first round high hit that saw the match finish at half time. Meanwhile, Tabitha May is always a force to be reckoned with.

Wanderers vs. Nightcliff
Saturday, October 17

The lone match between two Round 2 winners, Nightcliff will come into this battle with plenty of confidence given they sit atop the ladder with a significant percentage boost ahead of Pint in second. Meanwhile, Wanderers have one win on the board which came in Round 2 and the significant margin in that match will see the side certainly take it up to Nightcliff. Expect an intriguing matchup here, with the top four goalkickers in the competition likely to take the field in this battle. That being said, three of the four are from Nightcliff who are arguably the team to beat at the moment given their firepower up forward and multitude of options inside forward 50. Emma-Lou Wolsey (eight goals), Mickayla Ward (five goals) and Darcy Elliston (four) have proved to be constant and consistent goalkickers out the front, sitting first, third and fourth on the leading goalkicker tally at this stage, with second spot taken by Wanderers’ Kaitlyn Armstrong who is just one goal behind Wolsey on seven. Just two players across the two teams have been named in the best twice – showcasing the calibre of talent across the two teams – with Ward (Nightcliff) and Djimila Totham (Wanderers) those players.

2020/21 NTFL Women’s Premier League weekly wrap – Round 2

ROUND 2 of NTFL Women’s Premier League saw a huge super Saturday of matches, with all four games producing some solid performances and three matches finishing in blown out scorelines. Nightcliff and Pint continued their winning ways to sit 2-0 apiece at the top of the ladder, while Southern Districts and Tracy Village are the cellar dwellers and Palmerston Magpies had a bye. 

Nightcliff 8.6 (54) defeated Waratah 3.11 (29)

An excellent start bode well for Nightcliff, latching onto their early momentum and building throughout thanks to Waratah’s inaccuracy in front of goal. While Nightcliff failed to score in the final term, an excellent four-goal third quarter allowed the Tigers to run away with the solid 25-point victory, staving off every attempt from the Warriors. Nightcliff’s Emma-Lou Wolsey proved she was more than capable of holding down the front-end once more with three more goals added to her tally, and was assisted by Mickayla Ward and Jacqueline Anyon-Smith who booted two majors apiece. For Waratah, Jenna Singh, Lisa Roberts and Jordan Smyth found the big sticks, with the latter named in the best among Eliza Straford and Isabella Rapson-Staropoli.

Tracy Village 1.3 (9) defeated by Wanderers 10.11 (71)

It was a great return from the Wanderers after last week’s effort, this week putting 71 points on the board to run away with an excellent 62-point win against the Razorbacks who had a couple of issues getting a score on the board once more. That being said, Tracy Village did not let up throughout and were only beaten well in the first and final quarters where they allowed the Wanderers to boot four apiece. For Tracy Village, Indianna Hughes booted the lone goal in the final quarter and was named among the bests alongside Kiri Marschall, Kaitlin Battel and Sarah Wilson – who was back in the best this week after last round. For the Wanderers, Kaitlyn Armstrong was just about unstoppable out the front with five goals on the board, aided by Aleesha Hobbs and Tasheena Rankine who booted two apiece and Georgia Halkitis and Djimila Totham who were named in the best.

Pint 4.4 (28) defeated St Mary’s 2.5 (17)

It was a low-scoring thriller between Pint and St Mary’s, with the former gaining the early ascendancy and the latter fighting back well in the third to draw even on 15 points apiece at the final change. While both sides contested hard in the final term, it was Pint who were able to not only capitalise on their forward 50 entries but also pull away, eventually running away with the 11-point victory. Jasmyn Hewitt booted two for Pint, joined by Amy Chittick and Cara Evans while Kati Streader and Cassie Henderson were both named in the best. For the Saints, Danielle Ponter and Madison Harris booted a goal apiece – both in the second half – while Tesharna Maher and Ash Melnikas were named among the best in the low-scoring matchup.

Darwin Buffettes 11.5 (71) defeated Southern Districts 3.4 (22)

Darwin Buffettes started their season with a quality win over the reigning premiers, obliterating the Crocs by 49 points with a 30-point final quarter effort getting the job done. The Crocs were outplayed for much of the game, unable to compete with the feisty Buffettes outfit and having little opportunity to put scores on the board. Machaelia Roberts was a huge target as ever up forward for the Buffs and was a force to be reckoned with alongside Zoe Anderson, booting four goals apiece and providing multiple options. Roberts was named best on ground for her efforts whilst Molly Althouse was also solid for the victors, and three individuals put a goal on the board for the winners.

Picture: Aaron Black/AFLNT Media