Tag: ellie blackburn

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 4

THE AFL Women’s season is about to pass the halfway point, with a Conference Round occurring in Round 4. Of the five games, four matches involve same-conference teams, while the cross-conference battle sees the reigning grand finalists go head-to-head in the prime time Saturday night match.

GEELONG vs. CARLTON
Saturday, February 23, 4.45pm
GMHBA Stadium

It seems somewhat strange that these two teams are the top two sides in Conference B with Carlton suffering the heavy Round 1 loss and Geelong going down in the past two encounters, but the sole victory for each side was enough to see them slot into first and second. The winner will take outright first depending if Brisbane can upset the Western Bulldogs, and go a long way to securing a finals place in the 2019 AFL Women’s competition. Carlton have been building over the past two weeks, looking more dangerous under new coach, Daniel Harford with dash and dare from defence to half-forward. Key forward Tayla Harris and young gun, Madison Prespakis both booted three goals last week and gave the GIANTS coaching staff some serious headaches. Geelong will look to counter the forward talent of the Blues, with the likes of Meg McDonald and former Blue, Madeline Keryk in great form this season. Mel Hickey and Richelle Cranston returned last week and will be keen to make a statement, while Darcy Vescio is yet to fire consistently this season and could be one in for a big game.

H2H: Geelong 0 | Carlton 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Geelong 1-0-0 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. BRISBANE
Saturday, February 23, 7.10pm
Whitten Oval

H2H: Western Bulldogs 1 | Brisbane 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Western Bulldogs 5-3-0 | Brisbane 0-0-0

In the only cross-conference game, we have a Grand Final replay between Western Bulldogs and Brisbane at Whitten Oval. It is the first time these teams have clashed at the venue, while the Bulldogs holding a 5-3 record when at home. Brisbane has the upperhand against the Dogs overall, winning both regular season games, with the Dogs’ only win between the sides coming in last year’s grand final. This game is crucial for both sides, but particularly the Bulldogs who sit in a stronger pool. The Dogs had a heavy loss against North Melbourne on the weekend and are anchored to the bottom but level with third placed Melbourne and fourth placed Adelaide. With those two sides playing the undefeated teams, the Bulldogs can jump to third spot with the right results. For Brisbane, they have a chance to try and catch Carlton and Geelong on percentage, and a win would guarantee them a top two spot after four rounds. The battle between midfield duos, Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti against Ally Anderson and Emily Bates will be fascinating, and Sabrina Frederick-Traub will be keen for a big game after being well held by Melbourne’s Harriet Cordner last week, although it does not get any easier this week with a stringent Bulldogs defence.

Last time they met: Western Bulldogs 4.3 (27) defeated Brisbane 3.3 (21) at Ikon Park, Grand Final, 2018

It was the most memorable game of last season, as the Western Bulldogs took home the AFL Women’s Premiership Cup at Ikon Park in the 2018 decider. Monique Conti was best afield for her 13 disposals (12 contested), four clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Ellie Blackburn had 17 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, three inside 50s and two inside 50s. Emma Kearney racked up 15 disposals, one mark, five clearances and a goal. All-Australian full-back Kate Lutkins had a game-high 21 touches as well as six marks, four tackles and four rebounds, while Jamie Stanton had 20 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds.

ADELAIDE vs. FREMANTLE
Saturday, February 23, 9.35pm
TIO Stadium

Up in Darwin the Crows and Dockers clash in what could well be the game of the round. Adelaide lost to the Western Bulldogs by a point in Round 1 but have not missed a beat since, while Fremantle have opened eyes with their performances both at home and away. Now the teams clash in a game that has enormous ramifications, with the winner putting themselves in a great position for finals in the final few rounds, while the loser drops back to the back. For Fremantle, they have the extra game in hand, and could well be primed for a finals spot if they take down the Crows, while Adelaide cannot afford to lose with both Western Bulldogs and Melbourne battling with the Crows in the mid-table. Erin Phillips and Ebony Marinoff have been unbelievable this season, while Anne Hatchard was terrific last round to add an extra dimension to the midfield. Fremantle’s Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan have been a ray of consistency, while Kiara Bowers has been a terrific find for the West Australian side. Fremantle’s forward line against Adelaide’s defence will be a battle within a battle.

H2H: Adelaide 2 | Fremantle 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 1-1-0 | Fremantle 0-1-0

Last time they met: Adelaide 6.4 (40) defeated Fremantle 5.6 (36) at TIO Stadium, Round 6, 2018

In the only game at TIO Stadium in Round 6 last season, these two teams battled it out in a thriller which resulted in the “home” team getting home by four points. The Crows had lost to Melbourne in the only other game at TIO Stadium the year before, so winning in front of the passionate crowd with Northern Territory players in Crows colours was important. Erin Phillips had a day out up forward with three goals from nine disposals, while NT Thunder star Angela Foley had 15 disposals, four marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Fremantle ball winner, Dana Hooker had a game-high 20 disposals, three marks, six clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals, while Lisa Webb racked up 16 touches, three marks, two clearances, five inside 50s and four rebounds.

COLLINGWOOD vs. GWS GIANTS
Sunday, February 24, 2.05pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

After playing in Moe last year, Collingwood returns to Gippsland, this time in Morwell for the Magpies to take on the GIANTS. In contrast to many of the other games, this game is the end of the line for one team, with both sides staring down the barrel of 0-4 starts. The premiership dreams of the loser would appear to be all over for season 2019, while the winner could join two other sides in equal second with victory. Being in the weaker conference, both sides are still in contention for a finals spot, but both sets of supporters’ hopes would be soon draining. Collingwood and the GIANTS’ fanbases are keen for a win, and victory in this clash could change the course of their season. Both are quite young with the likes of Jordyn Allen and Alyce Parker both impressing for the teams after coming in as first round draft picks. Mel Kuys returns for the first game of the season post-injury and helps with the Magpies’ experience, but the loss of Ash Brazill will hurt. For the GIANTS, Nicola Barr is a huge inclusion, while Haneen Zreika also returns to add some excitement into the team. While it might not be a top two blockbuster, both teams will not leave anything behind in search of a much-needed win.

H2H: Collingwood 1 | GWS GIANTS 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Collingwood 0-0-0 | GWS GIANTS 0-0-0

Last time they met: GWS GIANTS 7.6 (48) defeated Collingwood 5.5 (35) at Olympic Park Oval, Round 3, 2018

In reversing the result at the same ground the year before, GWS GIANTS took home an important four points to hand Collingwood its third loss of the season. Former Magpie, Alicia Eva was the star with 23 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s, while Courtney Gum and Phoebe McWilliams both booted two goals from 15 and 12 disposals respectively. Jaimee Lambert was the top Pie with 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Mo Hope found some form booting two goals and Emma King was dominant in the ruck with 18 hitouts, 11 disposals, three inside 50s and four rebounds.

MELBOURNE vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, February 24, 4.05pm
Casey Fields

In the final game of the round, Melbourne hosts North Melbourne in what is a crucial game for the Demons. After a Round 1 loss at Casey Fields, Melbourne will be keen to upset the all-powerful Kangaroos who have emerged as the clear premiership favourites with three high-scoring wins. Harriet Cordner will have a big job on any one of a number of dangerous Kangaroo forwards, while the Melbourne midfield will need to win against the Kangaroos’ onball brigade if they are to be a chance of taking home the four points. Elise O’Dea and Karen Paxman continue to find plenty of the ball, while Aliesha Newman crumbs to Eden Zanker and Tegan Cunningham inside 50. The star power of the Roos might be too much considering the form of Emma Kearney, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Emma King among others, but a loss for Melbourne could see them slip eight points outside the top two, while for North, a defeat could mean they forfeit top spot. North look certain to play finals, while Melbourne would love to grab the four points against a team that has shown to be the benchmark thus far in season 2019.

H2H: Melbourne 0 | North Melbourne 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Melbourne 5-2-0 | North Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

1st : Michael Alvaro [ 11 ]
2nd : Sophie Taylor [ 10 ]
3rd : Taylah Melki [ 9 ]
Eq 4th : Peter Williams, Matthew Cocks [ 8 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
GWS GIANTS
Melbourne

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

Geelong
Western Bulldogs
Fremantle
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Geelong
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Collingwood
Melbourne

 

Michael Alvaro

Men’s Football Editor

Last week: 5

Round 4 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Fremantle
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

 

Matthew Cocks

Guest Tipster

Last week: 3

Round 4 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 3

TWO round down and the two conference ladders are already starting to show an alarming trend, with all Conference A sides ahead of every Conference B side. In the match of the round, the Western Bulldogs travel to Tasmania to face North Melbourne, while winless sides, GWS GIANTS and Carlton face-off with one team to finally score four points. In the other matches, Collingwood travels west to face Fremantle, Adelaide hosts Geelong, and Brisbane take on Melbourne in a unique round that sees all five games played interstate.
 
NORTH MELBOURNE v. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Friday, February, 15, 7:15pm
University of Tasmania Stadium

After a thumping win in Round 1, North Melbourne head back to the Apple Isle, this time to the University of Tasmania Stadium. While their opponents this time around will be much tougher in the reigning premiers, the Kangaroos will fancy themselves having seen off GWS GIANTS in torrential rain and thunderstorms, a week earlier. The Western Bulldogs will also fancy their chances and are likely the best side to topple the team of champions, which should see plenty of eyes glued to televisions tonight. The winner seems almost destined to secure a finals spot, given their respective opponent will arguably be the toughest opponent they come across, and will go 3-0 up with four rounds remaining. Western Bulldogs have one of the most potent forward lines in the league and that is how they can exploit the Kangaroos. If the Roos, led by former Dog Emma Kearney, can win the midfield battle, then it will go a long way to victory. The North forward line is ultra-impressive and has no trouble kicking goals, but the Bulldogs have a stern defence that will not give them an inch. It all adds up to being an absolute blockbuster with Kearney and Ellie Blackburn going head-to-head.

H2H: North Melbourne 0 | Western Bulldogs 0 | Draws 0
Venue: North Melbourne 0-0-0 | Western Bulldogs 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A
 

GWS GIANTS v. CARLTON
Saturday, February, 16, 4:45pm
Blacktown International Sports Park

If a week is a long time in football, then a year is an eternity, with Carlton’s last victory coming in the Round 2 clash, last year. Carlton has made a habit of upsetting GIANTS fans, winning both of its matches against the GIANTS since the AFL Women’s began. Their contested brand of football tends to work well against the GIANTS and they restrict the run of GWS, however the GIANTS have ensured bigger bodies in the midfield this season. The teams almost match up identically across the board statistically, with Carlton’s tackling inside 50 a highlight – averaging 11 per game. The GWS midfield will be hard to combat, but if the Blues can get the ball forward, they are a huge chance of an upset. The winner gets back on track this season, while the loser will find it tough to recover, needing to win at least three games from its last four games to secure a finals spot. No doubt the match-up to keep an eye on is Madison Prespakis against Alyce Parker with both young guns unbelievably talented, strong and can go forward and have an impact. A head-to-head we will see plenty over the next decade.

H2H: GWS GIANTS 0 | Carlton 2 | Draws 0
Venue: GWS GIANTS 1-1-2 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: Carlton 3.12 (30) defeated GWS GIANTS 1.3 (9), Round 2, 2018

Carlton gave their fans some serious hope in the Round 2 clash between the sides when a inaccurate Blues team got the job done at Drummoyne Oval. The win was the club’s first victory outside Ikon Park, and with the Blues holding the GIANTS to just three behinds after quarter time, the defensive work was terrific. Captain, Brianna Davey had 16 disposals, two marks, six tackles and two rebounds, while Jess Hosking and Shae Audley shared 28 disposals and 10 clearances between them. But the biggest memory was that of Sarah Hosking who smashed the tackle record with 16 to go with 12 disposals. For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva had 17 disposals and a game nine tackles, while Amanda Farrugia and Courtney Gum both finished with 16 touches.

 

FREMANTLE v. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, February, 16, 7:15pm
Fremantle Oval

In one of the first three cross-conference games, Fremantle hosts Collingwood at Fremantle Oval. The sides have been relatively even over the first two seasons, which is to say a little underwhelming overall. This year the teams have taken different paths, with the Dockers winning their opening two games, while the Magpies have suffered two defeats. Collingwood almost toppled Geelong in Round 1 and the Dockers almost fell to Melbourne, so the teams were very close to both being 1-1. With Sophie Alexander returning to the Pies side to strengthen them up forward, and Nicole Hildebrand named in defence; the latter will assist the in-form Ash Brazill in creating run out of defence. For Fremantle, Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan have been dominant through the middle, and with an electric forward line, it will be hard for the Magpies to combat. If Fremantle win, they will move to second in Conference A with the other two undefeated sides facing off the day before. A Collingwood loss means the Magpies go 0-3 for the third consecutive year, almost ruling out finals before the midway point of the season.

H2H: Fremantle 1 | Collingwood 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Fremantle 3-3-0 | Collingwood 0-0-0

Last time they met: Fremantle 6.4 (40) defeated Collingwood 4.3 (27), Round 2, 2018

In front of a home crowd at Optus Stadium, Fremantle recorded an important 13-point win after having won just the one game in Western Australia the year before. Dana Hooker starred for the Dockers, racking up 20 disposals, two marks, five clearances, six inside 50s, six tackles and finishing off with two goals in a clear best on ground performance. Lara Filocamo and Lisa Webb both recorded 17 disposals, while Melissa Caulfield also booted two goals, from 12 disposals. Christina Bernardi was the key goalkicker for the Magpies with two majors, while Melissa Kuys had a game-high 21 touches.

 
ADELAIDE CROWS v. GEELONG CATS
Sunday, February, 17, 2:35pm
Norwood Oval

After escaping with a win last week, Adelaide will be keen to make it two on the trot and keep in touch with the top three in Conference A. The Crows were unlucky not to win against the Dogs at the ground in Round 1, while the Cats also suffered a defeat at the hands of the reigning premiers, last week. A win for Geelong will give them breathing space inside the top two in Conference B, while a Crows loss will make it tough given the relative strength of the Conference, and require them to win against the remainder of their Conference rivals. Chelsea Randall is a massive inclusion for the Crows to strengthen a defence which conceded seven goals to Carlton last week. Geelong captain, Mel Hickey, and the exciting Richelle Cranston return for the Cats in what makes for an entertaining battle around the ground. Expect both teams to bring the heat with everything on the line, especially for the home side.

H2H: Adelaide 0 | Geelong 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 2-3-0 | Geelong 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

 

BRISBANE LIONS v. MELBOURNE
Sunday, February, 17, 5:35pm
Hickey Park, Stafford

In the final game of the round, top of Conference B hosts the bottom of Conference A with both teams even for the season with one win and one loss. The Lions will be keen to maintain top spot in their Conference, while the Demons can ill-afford to drop further behind given the strength of Conference A. A win for the Demons could see them leap-frog a couple of teams and keep in touch with the leaders. Last week both teams had different contests, with Brisbane going down in a high-scoring thriller in the west, while the Demons got their hands dirty against Collingwood in a low-scoring affair to earn the four points. Elise O’Dea was sensational in the win with 26 touches and a drought-breaking second quarter goal, while Ally Anderson recorded 26 disposals, four marks and a goal in the win, to be the highest disposal winner for season 2019 so far, with 48 disposals. The Demons are a contested based team that can clunk strong marks around the ground, while Brisbane are good at controlling the play around the ground, which spells for an entertaining contest when both teams clash.

H2H: Brisbane 1 | Melbourne 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Brisbane 0-0-0 | Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: Melbourne 4.10 (34) defeated Brisbane 4.4 (28), Round 5, 2018

Melbourne survived a scare in their clash with Brisbane last season with both sides keen to keep on top of their finals hopes. The Demons held the Lions scoreless in the first term, and led by 14 points at the final break, before Brisbane booted two of the last three goals to almost seemingly take the points under lights at Casey Fields. Karen Paxman had 25 disposals, while Daisy Pearce was dominant with 24 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and two goals. Elise O’Dea was equally as busy with 23 touches as the experienced trio ensured the Dees came away with the four points. Kate Lutkins was enormous in defence, racking up a massive nine rebounds as well as a game-high 26 possessions, while taking four marks and having three inside 50s as well. Sabrina Frederick-Traub was important up forward with three majors from 15 disposals and three marks.

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

1st : Sophie Taylor [ 7 ]
2nd : Taylah Melki, Michael Alvaro [ 6 ]
3rd : Peter Williams, Matthew Cocks [ 5 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Western Bulldogs
Carlton
Fremantle
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 4

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
GWS GIANTS
Fremantle
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 4

Round 3 selections:

North Melbourne
GWS GIANTS
Fremantle
Geelong
Melbourne

 

Michael Alvaro

Men’s Football Editor

Last week: 4

Round 3 selections:

North Melbourne
Carlton
Fremantle
Adelaide
Melbourne

 

Matthew Cocks

Guest Tipster

Last week: 2

Round 3 selections:

North Melbourne
GWS GIANTS
Fremantle
Adelaide
Brisbane

AFLW H2H Battle: Early 90s v Late 90s

IN our first AFL Women’s Head-to-Head Battle, we have created teams of 24 players to determine which end of the 90s might prevail in a head-to-head clash. For the early 90s team, we have those AFL Women’s players born between 1990-1994, and for the late 90s, we have the 1995-1999 births. We have not included any player that made their debut in season 2019. As you will see from the two different sides, the early 90s is stacked through the forward line with a strong defence, while the late 90s midfield is very deep with strong players up both ends. It made for a very difficult task of picking just 24 players for each side, and picking a winner is just as difficult.

Early 90s – 1990-1994:

B: Nicola Stevens – Chelsea Randall – Hannah Scott
HB: Bianca Jakobsson – Elise O’Dea – Ebony Antonio
C: Alicia Eva – Kara Donnellan – Kaitlyn Ashmore
HF: Christina Bernardi – Katie Brennan – Jasmine Garner
F: Jess Wuetschner – Darcy Vescio – Brooke Lochland
R: Emma King – Dana Hooker – Jessica Dal Pos
INT: Nat Exon – Sarah D’Arcy – Jaimee Lambert –  Kate McCarthy – Sarah Perkins – Deni Varnhagen

The Early 90s team features the best of the best from 1990-1994 births, with a forward line that is All Australian quality, and an enviable spine that would win one-on-ones galore. In defence, captains, Adelaide’s Chelsea Randall and Melbourne’s Elise O’Dea hold down key spots, with Hannah Scott taking the third tall role, and the likes of Nicola Stevens, Bianca Jakobsson and Ebony Antonio providing run from the back half.

In the midfield, the early 90s team features some seriously underrated players. Fremantle duo, Kara Donnellan and Dana Hooker, GWS GIANTS’ duo Jessica Dal Pos and Alicia Eva, and North Melbourne’s Kaitlyn Ashmore fill out the starting five, with Nat Exon, Jaimee Lambert and Deni Varnhagen able to rotate through there, as would O’Dea and Jakobsson who push up the ground. With Emma King in the ruck, the early 90s would have a strong chance to win the hitouts, although the opposition midfield would be hard to combat.

Up forward, it is littered with stars from start to finish, in what is an unbelievably powerful front six. Katie Brennan and Darcy Vescio as a one-two combo would bring the crowds alone, but throw in goal machines, Jess Wuetschner and Brooke Lochland, as well as great playmakers, Christina Bernardi and Jasmine Garner who provide both defensive and offensive pressure respectively, and add a different element to the mix. Add in the likes of Sarah D’Arcy, Nat Exon, Kate McCarthy and Sarah Perkins, and the forward rotation would be the envy of any side.

Even those who missed out could consider themselves incredibly unlucky, with Rhiannon MetcalfeStevie-Lee ThompsonAmelia MullaneMeghan McDonald, Aimee Schmidt, Jacinda Barclay, Lauren Pearce, Catherine Phillips, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Brittany Gibson and Hayley Wildes among some seriously talented depth for the five years.

VS

Late 90s – 1995-1999:

B: Nicola Barr – Libby Birch – Chloe Molloy
HB: Brianna Davey – Tahlia Randall – Emma Swanson
C: Emily Bates – Ebony Marinoff – Ally Anderson
HF: Ashley Sharp – Sabrina Frederick-Traub – Monique Conti
F: Aliesha Newman – Tayla Harris – Rebecca Beeson
R: Erin McKinnon – Ellie Blackburn – Lily Mithen
INT: Deanna Berry – Brittany Bonnici – Jenna Bruton – Sarah Hosking – Breann Moody – Jamie Stanton

The late 90s team has a deep midfield that would worry any opposition midfield with its uncompromising attack on the ball and ball carrier. Around the ground the side has good options in attack and defence, and while they might not be as experienced as their early 90s counterparts, they show the future of the game over the next five to 15 years. In defence, Tahlia Randall and Libby Birch are the two key backs, with Chloe Molloy capable of playing tall or small. Nicola Barr, Brianna Davey and Emma Swanson provide the fierce attack out of the back half, with the ability to roam through the midfield too.

In the middle, talented young ruck Erin McKinnon leads a massively inside midfield brigade, with Ellie Blackburn, Lily Mithen and Ebony Marinoff likely to lay a record amount of tackles in a game between them. Brisbane pair, Emily Bates and Ally Anderson will provide support on the wings, while Sarah Hosking, Brittany Bonnici, Jenna Bruton and Jamie Stanton are able to also rotate off the bench into the team. Breann Moody would be McKinnon’s back-up ruck, and also allows Randall to purely focus on her defensive match-ups.

Up front, Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Tayla Harris join forces inside 50 as the key targets. Around their, feet speed demons, Ashley Sharp, Monique Conti and Aliesha Newman will always have defenders worried, while Rebecca Beeson is consistent as they come. Deanna Berry will add to the pace inside 50 and will add some extra running off the bench.

Among those unlucky, injured talents Jess Hosking and Isabel Huntington would make the team with some luck in the future, while Jasmine GriersonBonnie ToogoodEden ZankerEloise JonesJordan ZanchettaHayley Miller, Stephanie Cain and Maddison Gay are among those in contention for a spot in the 24-player team.

Team of the Week: AFLW – Round 2

AT the conclusion of Round 2 in the AFL Women’s season, clear ladder leaders have emerged. North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and Fremantle have all jumped clear to eight points, showing Conference A to be the stronger of the two conferences.

Round 2 of the AFL Women’s season was highlighted by many individual performances. Elise O’Dea, Ellie Blackburn – whose five rebounds and work in the defensive half allowed us to slot the midfield dynamo onto half-back – and Dana Hooker all polled 10 coaches’ votes for their dominant midfield displays, while Adelaide’s Stevie-Lee Thompson became the third Crow behind Erin Phillips and Sarah Perkins to kick four goals in a match.

North Melbourne’s commanding performance over GWS GIANTS on Friday night saw the Kangaroos rewarded with three players in the 24-player AFL Women’s Draft Central Team of the Week, as did other winners, Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs in an even team performance across the board.

The GIANTS and Collingwood had just the one nominee each, while other losers Carlton and Geelong had two, and Brisbane’s defeat still yielded three nominees in our Team of the Week.

Players who earned back-to-back Team of the Week nominations were Adelaide’s Erin Phillips, Brisbane’s Jess Wuetschner and Ally Anderson, Collingwood’s Ash Brazill, Fremantle’s Dana Hooker and Kiara Bowers, Geelong’s Meg McDonald, GWS GIANTS’ Cora Staunton, Melbourne’s Elise O’Dea and Karen Paxman, North Melbourne’s Jess Duffin and Emma King, and Western Bulldogs’ Ellie Blackburn. Among the first timers in our Team of the Week were Rising Star nominees, Madison Prespakis and Sabreena Duffy, as well as Geelong midfielder, Olivia Purcell.

Weekend previews: AFLW – Round 2

AFTER an exhilarating first round, which saw four of the five matches go down to the wire, teams prepare to tweak game styles or mix up team sheets in order to get an advantage over their opponents. Four of the first round losers face off, with Melbourne heading to Victoria Park on Saturday to face the Magpies, while Carlton hosts Adelaide at Ikon Park on Sunday. The two sides who head home without any points face an uphill battle in the race for finals action. The fifth losing side from Round 1, GWS GIANTS has its own mammoth effort – trying to take down North Melbourne who simply blitzed Carlton. A maximum of three sides can remain undefeated after Round 2 with first round winners, Geelong and Western Bulldogs, and Fremantle and Brisbane facing off over the weekend.

GWS GIANTS vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Friday, February 8, 7.15pm
Drummoyne Oval

In the opening game of the round, new side North Melbourne fresh off a huge victory over Carlton, head to Drummoyne Oval to face the GIANTS. The GIANTS are playing just their second game at the venue, following a loss to the Blues this time last year. The battle within the contest is the All-Australian rucks going head-to-head with Kangaroos’ Emma King and GIANTS’ Erin McKinnon. North Melbourne’s midfield has great depth to it, lead by last year’s League Best and Fairest winner, Emma Kearney, Jamie Stanton, Jess Duffin and Ash Riddell, of whom the latter was ultra-impressive on debut. North Melbourne’s dynamic forward line features former Magpies, Jasmine Garner and Mo Hope, premiership-winning Bulldog Jenna Bruton, and former Lion Kaitlyn Ashmore. With the strength around the ground, it will be hard to contain the Roos if they win the midfield battle.

The one area the GIANTS could get an upper hand is through rebounding forward with an equally impressive, albeit underrated forward line. Jess Dal Pos, former Magpie Christina Bernardi and defender-turned-forward Cora Staunton are all capable of multiple goals, while Haneen Zreika was impressive on debut last week. The midfield simply has to win its fair share of head-to-heads, with Courtney Gum, Rebecca Beeson, Alicia Eva and Alyce Parker leading the way, while Amanda Farrugia, Emma Swanson and Tanya Hetherington will have big jobs coming out of defence. The Kangaroos took a massive 56 marks in last week’s huge win over Carlton, while still laying 66 tackles. The GIANTS laid just the 42 and only five in the forward 50, and will need to show more pressure inside 50 against a side capable of hurting you on the scoreboard really quickly. Both teams are generally good ball users and make the most of their opportunities so it will be fascinating to see which team can take the early advantage and put it on the scoreboard. North Melbourne will head in as favourites, but it is far from completely clear cut, and this will be a huge win for the GIANTS if they can get the job done at home.

H2H: GWS GIANTS 0 | North Melbourne 0 | Draws 0
Venue: GWS GIANTS 0-1-0 | North Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • Emma Kearney averages 20 disposals, 6.5 tackles, 4.5 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal against the GIANTS from two clashes.
  • Both AFL Women’s All Australian rucks are set to go head-to-head with Emma King taking on Erin McKinnon. In the battle between the pair last year, King won convincingly with 11 disposals and 18 hitouts to McKinnon’s three disposals and 14 hitouts.
  • GWS GIANTS’ only game at the venue resulted in a loss to Carlton last year, while North Melbourne looks to back up its only game – a huge win over Carlton last week.
  • The GIANTS have won two, drawn two and lost three games in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

 

COLLINGWOOD vs. MELBOURNE
Saturday, February 9, 4.45pm
Victoria Park

At one of the homes of traditional football, Collingwood hosts Melbourne in what has become a must-win for both sides. After heart-breaking losses in Round 1 despite leading at the final change, neither team can afford to go 0-2, with the reality that teams need at least four wins to secure a finals berth. A second loss means they must win four of their final five games as a minimum and with both still to play their respective conference favourites, it would spell trouble for their post-season hopes. However, for the winner, it is a chance to balance the ledger and get back on track early in the season. Collingwood has been a slow starter in year’s gone by, and has been overhauled with youth since last season, while Melbourne has also brought a number of young players into the team, furthering the development of players who got their starts last season. With both teams defensively capable, it will make for a great clash. The sides also sit at one win each in the head-to-head, funnily enough after the losing side in each game got a head start, but was run over the top of in the second halves.

Both teams have made two changes, with a debutant and a return from a long-term injury headlining the selection moves. Oakleigh Chargers’ tall, Katie Lynch comes into the side after Sophie Alexander’s concussion last week ruled her out of the game. Kristy Stratton was also ruled out through injury, with the Magpies opting to go tall by bringing in Eliza Hynes to try and stretch the Melbourne defence when forward, while rotating with Sharni Layton and Eliza Fowler. Melbourne have brought in Ainslie Kemp who has not played since 2017 due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear – sadly replacing Shae Sloane who suffered the exact same injury. The Dees have also brought in Ashleigh Guest for Claudia Whitfort. The key to victory for the Demons is restricting the run of Collingwood’s defence, which helped the Magpies hold up against Geelong last week with Ash Brazill causing all sorts of headaches, while Jordyn Allen was equally as impressive. They also need to clamp down on Jaimee Lambert who has the ability to turn a game with great plays, while Catherine Phillips could be the one asked to restrict Sarah D’Arcy from dominating in the air. For the Magpies, they need to be wary of Melbourne’s firepower with Tegan Cunningham and Eden Zanker likely to stretch the defence, while Aliesha Newman has pace to burn and both Kate Hore and Maddison Gay are capable of getting over the back and hurting teams on the rebound. Elise O’Dea, Karen Paxman and Lily Mithen are up there with the best midfields in the competition, and will look to control the stoppages around the ground and give their forwards early opportunities.

H2H: Collingwood 1 | Melbourne 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Collingwood 0-0-0 | Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: Collingwood 9.4 (58) defeated Melbourne 3.6 (24) at TIO Traeger Park, Round 4, 2018

After booting the opening two goals of the match and keeping Collingwood goalless in the opening term, the Demons only managed 1.4 for the rest of the match as the Magpies piled on 9.4 to run away with the match by 34 points. Magpies captain, Steph Chiocchi played one of her best games under lights, booting a goal from 17 disposals, two marks, four clearances and three inside 50s, while Jaimee Lambert had a team-high 19 disposals as well as three inside 50s and two rebounds. Caitlyn Edwards and Mo Hope both booted two goals in the victory, but arguably the best performance was that of Brittany Bonnici who tagged Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce and restricted her to a career-low nine disposals. For the Demons, Elise O’Dea was the top performer with 19 disposals, two clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Karen Paxman had 18 touches and three rebounds.

Fun facts:

  • Of the 42 players to take the field in last year’s clash in the Top End, just 24 players remain available for selection in season 2019. Even more remarkably, just eight players from Collingwood’s first match against the Demons – two years ago – remain on the list.
  • Elise O’Dea (17 disposals) and Karen Paxman (16.5 disposals) average the most disposals against the Magpies from their two clashes.
  • Sarah D’Arcy and Emma Grant average the most disposals against the Demons, with 10 touches apiece.
  • Both sides were in the lead at three quarter time after holding their opponent scoreless in the third term last week only to go on to lose the game in heartbreaking circumstances.

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, February 9, 7.15pm
VU Whitten Oval

H2H: Western Bulldogs 0 | Geelong 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Western Bulldogs 4-3-0 | Geelong 0-0-0

In the other game that will be the first time these teams go head-to-head is between reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs and new side, Geelong. Both teams had a win in Round 1 and this weekend marks the first home game for the Bulldogs, which means they will unfurl the 2018 AFL Women’s flag in front of what is predicted to be a strong crowd at VU Whitten Oval. The winner will most certainly get an early advantage given the strength of their opponent, and it marks the first game for the sides which sees them pitted against a non-conference rival. Both teams also know how to close out tight games, having survived one-point thrillers in the opening round to secure the four points. Given their experience and depth across the field, Western Bulldogs will head in as favourites, but Geelong are expected to throw down a challenge with a couple of key players returning.

The Cats have welcomed back key forward, Phoebe McWilliams and ruck, Erin Hoare to bolster their side against the reigning premiers. Georgie Rankin and Maighan Fogas have been the two unlucky players omitted from the victorious side last Saturday night, with Fogas and key defender, Georgia Clarke named as emergencies for the clash. The Dogs will unveil Irish debutant, Aisling McCarthy who comes into the side, replacing the omitted Belinda Smith. The enticing battle will see which defence holds up the best as both sides proved to have their respective opposition’s measure last week. Co-captain, Katie Brennan booted the Bulldogs’ two goals against the Crows, while Meg McDonald, Rebecca Goring and Madeline Keryk were among the Cats’ best under pressure when the Magpies were attacking. While the heartbreaking story of Nina Morrison doing her ACL at training will dominate headlines, Geelong still has a huge core of youth including Denby Taylor, Olivia Purcell and Sophie Van De Heuvel who will face established young talents in Monique Conti and Bonnie Toogood, and first round draftee, Eleanor Brown. Co-captain Ellie Blackburn is always a crucial player for the Dogs and will look to take control in the midfield, while the Dogs’ defence of Lauren Spark, Libby Birch and Hannah Scott will provide plenty of rebound.

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The Western Bulldogs lost three consecutive matches at VU Whitten Oval in 2017, but have since won all three games they have played there, and is the Dogs’ first home game since winning the 2018 AFL Women’s flag.
  • Aasta O’Connor will play against her old side for the first time, lining up in the ruck to face Kim Rennie, while sharing the ruck duties with Erin Hoare in the blue and white hoops.
  • Ellie Blackburn averaged 16.9 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.25 tackles and 3.25 clearances last season, the most of any current Western Bulldogs player.
  • With Brooke Lochland injured for the season, Phoebe McWilliams will be the leading goal kicker from last season in the match, booting seven goals for the GIANTS.

 

CARLTON vs. ADELAIDE
Sunday, February 10, 4.05pm
Ikon Park

H2H: Carlton 0 | Adelaide 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Carlton 4-1-2 | Adelaide 0-0-0

For the first time in 2019, Ikon Park hosts a match with the Blues heading back home to welcome the Crows in a Sunday evening game. The ground has traditionally been the host of the opening game of the year between bitter rivals, Carlton and Collingwood but that has changed in 2019. These teams are both heading into the match off the back of a loss, with Carlton’s heavy defeat to North Melbourne not the ideal start to the season following a wooden spoon, while the Crows will rue missed opportunities in front of goal after booting 1.11 against the Bulldogs at Norwood Oval. Adelaide is yet to play at Ikon Park, while Carlton has made it somewhat of a fortress winning four and drawing a fifth game from its seven matches at the venue. Considering they have only won one match outside Ikon Park, it has been a comfort zone and the Crows cannot afford to take them lightly. With Adelaide in the tougher conference, they would not want to drop this game and go 0-2 to start the season, while Carlton will look for its first win under Daniel Harford who would have learnt plenty from the round one defeat.

Looking at the Round 1 matches, efficiency inside 50 looks to be key, with Adelaide having a 75 per cent scoring efficiency with 18 shots from 24 attempts, while Carlton had just 10 shots from 29 attempts – 35 per cent scoring efficiency. Both sides have impressive forward lines on paper, but they will need to convert their opportunities. Any forward 50 with Darcy Vescio, Tayla Harris and Brianna Davey – who has actually been named in defence – is going to worry opposition defenders, while Erin Phillips is as good as anyone one-on-one and is lining up at full-forward, while Chloe Scheer is a young star who will only get better. Speaking of young stars, Madison Prespakis carried the weight of the midfield on her shoulders last week and was ultra-impressive on debut, so the Crows will need to be aware of her presence. The Adelaide midfield has greater depth and the Blues should look to limit the influence of Ebony Marinoff who racked up 23 disposals and laid 11 tackles in Round 1. If Carlton can restrict her influence on the inside and win the contested ball – with the likes of Jess Hosking and Katie Loynes getting on top, it will go a long way to causing an upset. Chelsea Randall leads the defence, while the experience of Renee Forth through the midfield will be important. Carlton will need to control the ruck contest through Breann Moody, and break even in the middle, while the Crows will focus on clearance domination to give their forwards first opportunity and more importantly, those forwards need to convert.

Last time they met: Adelaide 8.7 (55) defeated Carlton 2.8 (20) at Norwood Oval, Round 5, 2018.

Adelaide flexed their muscles against the Blues when the sides were heading in opposite directions. The Crows at home booted six goals to one after quarter time to run away from the Blues, but counted the cost of the win with injuries to Erin Phillips and Courtney Cramey. Ruth Wallace booted three goals, while Eloise Jones finished with two, as Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall shared 31 disposals. Breann Moody was dominant in the ruck for the Blues with 29 hitouts from 11 disposals and four clearances, while Tayla Harris had 11 disposals, three marks and booted a goal.

Fun facts:

  • Despite winning the wooden spoon last season, Carlton has a strong record at Ikon Park, having won four and drawn one from seven attempts.
  • If Carlton lose the match, it will mark more than a year since they won their last match.
  • While she picked up an injury in the second game, Erin Phillips was everywhere in the Crows’ first win over the Blues, racking up 21 disposals and eight clearances. In the same game, Ebony Marinoff laid 14 tackles from 16 disposals, her exact disposal average against Carlton.
  • Of the Carlton players to play against Adelaide in both games, the omitted Tilly Lucas-Rodd averages the most disposals with 13.5, while Darcy Vescio averages two goals per game against the Crows.

 

FREMANTLE vs. BRISBANE
Sunday, February 10, 3.05pm
Fremantle Oval

H2H: Fremantle 0 | Brisbane 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Fremantle 2-3-0 | Brisbane 1-0-0

Both sides won against the odds in Round 1, with Fremantle toppling Melbourne in scorching weather at Casey Fields after being 14 points down at the final break, while Brisbane knocked off GWS GIANTS a fortnight after succumbing to the GIANTS in a heavy practice match loss. Both sides had plenty to be positive about last week, most importantly securing an early four points, while also having plenty to improve upon for this week. Fremantle are back at home in Western Australia, but at their only other clash at the venue, Brisbane took home the points, though it was two years ago. Both teams look to be very different to that clash, with the Lions having a host of youth coming through, as do the Dockers while also filtering in some experienced local talent. Brisbane will go in as favourites given their history in the competition, but Fremantle’s performance last week certainly raised eyebrows and showed that everyone could be underrating the Dockers.

Both sides play a different brand of football which is really exciting for this clash. In Round 1, Fremantle battered and bruised their way to an impressive contested ball style, getting the pull forward to record a huge 11 marks inside 50, while laying 10 tackles in the arc. They harassed and pressured the Demons into making uncharacteristic mistakes, laying 77 tackles in the process. The Lions have tall targets up forward, but opted for a balanced possession game and spread well around the ground. They intercepted the GIANTS 51 times and took the game on, trying to unsettle the defence with possession football, but going when required. This game could well be a combination of both styles and sets up for a huge clash. The Lions forward line is severely underrated with Sabrina Frederick-Traub the dominant key position player, while McKenzie Dowrick and Jess Wuetschner are incredibly clever and dangerous around goals. Throw in Jordan Zanchetta, Emma Zielke and the defensively-minded but strong, Lauren Arnell and the Lions front six is as good as any. Ebony Antonio and Tayla Bresland were strong in defence last week, while the midfield of Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan are not huge ball winners, but always effective. They tackle the biggest ball-winning duo of Emily Bates and Ally Anderson who had the ball on a string last week, while the potential match-up of Kiara Bowers and Sam Virgo could be entertaining based on Round 1 form. Both teams have immensely talented youth coming through, and both teams’ first round picks, Sabreena Duffy and Paige Parker, have been named in the side.

Last time they met: Brisbane 3.4 (22) defeated Fremantle 2.3 (15) at South Pine Sports Complex, Round 4, 2018.

In a low-scoring affair that saw just one goal kicked in the first half, Brisbane held on in a thriller to win by seven points and remain on track for a grand final berth. Dynamic forward, Jess Wuetschner booted two goals from 18 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s, while Kate Lutkins and Ally Anderson both had 18 touches in the win. For the Dockers, Lara Filocamo had 18 disposals and laid five tackles. Kara Donnellan laid a whopping 10 tackles and had five clearances and 15 disposals.

Fun facts:

  • In their only clash at the venue, Brisbane defeated Fremantle by 13 points in Round 2, 2017. Fremantle has a 100 per cent winning ratio at Fremantle Oval over Victorian sides, but a zero per cent winning ratio over non-Victorian sides.
  • Jess Wuetschner has been the dominant goal kicker in the matches between these sides, averaging two goals per game.
  • Lara Filocamo averages the most disposals between the sides, with 17.5 per match.
  • Both sides won their opening round matches by less than a kick, with Fremantle getting a dress rehearsal for the scorching West Australian heat, winning at Casey Fields in 38 degrees Celcius.

 

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

Eq. 1st : Sophie Taylor, Matthew Cocks [ 3 ]
Eq. 3rd : Peter Williams, Taylah Melki, Michael Alvaro [ 2 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Collingwood
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Michael Alvaro

Men’s Football Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Matthew Cocks

Guest Tipster

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

GWS GIANTS
Collingwood
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

Number Crunching: AFLW – Round 1

THERE are plenty of individual stats to put under the microscope after Round 1 of the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition, with a handful of players starring on the sheet across multiple lines – including a gun draftee, former rising star, and high-profile tradee.

Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff was the talk of the town after her round-leading 23 disposal performance in a losing effort against the ‘Dogs. It was an incredible game from the hard-working midfielder, who topped the fantasy charts at 107 points having also laid 11 tackles and spread her load at almost an even 50 per cent between contested and uncontested possessions. Not to be outdone by the former rising star, Geelong’s number one draft pick, Nina Morrison starred in the season-opener to be the equal-second leading disposal winner for the round with 22. The midfielder showed her balance in the craft with 14 contested possessions and six clearances, while also providing her trademark run with three inside 50’s. Meanwhile, Emily Bates and Ally Anderson had 22 disposals each in the Lions’ midfield to match Morrison as they overcame GWS.

Anderson’s 14 contested possessions were enough for equal-second best alongside Morrison, but Melbourne’s Karen Paxman was the boss of the engine room for Round 1, with a whopping 18 contested possessions from her 21 disposals at a rate of 85 per cent. Stepping up in the absence of stalwart, Daisy Pearce, Paxman also earned a round-high nine clearances to lead in the stat from Fremantle’s Dana Hooker (eight) and Adelaide superstar, Erin Phillips (seven). While Paxman and co won the contested ball in spades, a current and a former Magpie won all of their touches in the clinches. Collingwood’s Sarah Dargan (11 disposals) and Kangaroo ruck recruit, Emma King (10 disposals) both had contested possession rates of 100 per cent in impressively gritty displays. Geelong’s Maddy Keryk was the only player bar-Paxman with over 15 disposals to also have had a rate of over 80 per cent contested possessions. On the other end of the scale, Bates and new-Roo Jess Duffin won the most uncontested ball with 13 apiece, with Duffin’s teammate, Emma Kearney working in tandem for her tally of 10 – matched by GWS draftee Alyce Parker on debut.

The Fremantle duo of Hooker and Kiara Bowers topped the tackle count with 12 each as they put the clamps on Melbourne, with Hooker’s hard work also translating to ball-winning as she had 15 disposals. But it was again the efforts of Marinoff which attracted the headlines, as the premiership Crow laid 11 tackles to bring her career tally to 169 – the only AFLW player to have cracked the ton at the time of writing. Despite all that, Marinoff was amazingly still down on her 2018 tackle average of 11.7. In a sign of things to come, Morrison (eight tackles) was also not far behind as the teenager with the highest count.

Moving from the ground to the air, Lauren Spark reeled in the most marks with her effort of 11 – finding space well to have 13 kicks amongst her 14 disposals (nine uncontested). Spark’s Bulldogs teammate, Ellie Blackburn had six but was narrowly beaten out to second-best honours by Duffin’s seven. She may have only had three, but Carlton’s dynamic forward star, Tayla Harris took an absolute screamer to claim mark of the round. Melbourne’s Lauren Pearce dominated the air in a different fashion with her round-high of 32 hit-outs, while Giant, Erin McKinnon won 31 taps. Carlton’s tall duo of Breann Moody and Alison Downie combined for 29 against the otherwise dominant King in their loss to the ‘Roos.

Brisbane goalsneak Jess Wuetschner bagged the highest goal tally for the week, booting three of the Lions’ four goals as seven others claimed hauls of two. Amongst the group of multiple goal kickers was returning Bulldog gun, Katie Brennan – who came up clutch for her side – as well as arguably the player of the round, King. The worst offenders in front of goal collectively were the Crows with 1.11, however Phillips was the only player in that game to miss more than once. She was not alone though as eight others registered multiple behinds in their respective outings – four of them from the Kangaroos/Carlton game.

Team of the Week: AFLW – Round 1

NORTH Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos’ big win has seen them rewarded with four players in the Draft Central AFL Women’s Team of the Week for Round 1, the most of any club. Other winners, Geelong, Brisbane and Western Bulldogs had three nominees, while Melbourne had three players in the best 24 despite a loss to Fremantle.

Fremantle won in a thriller and have two nominees each in the Team of the Week, as do other close losers, Adelaide, Collingwood and GWS GIANTS. Carlton had a match to forget and while Tayla Harris and Madison Prespakis were both close to making the team, just missed out.

North Melbourne’s Emma King was the standout ruck across the competition in Round 1, earning the starting spot in the followers, joined in the team by fellow former Magpies, Jasmine Garner and Jess Duffin, as well as debutant Ash Riddell. Brisbane midfield duo, Emily Bates and Ally Anderson both squeeze into the starting line-up, as does the competition’s leading goal kicker, Jess Wuetschner who booted three on the weekend.

Western Bulldogs’ heroic victory in South Australia resulted in defenders, Lauren Spark and Hannah Scott making the team, as did co-captain, Ellie Blackburn who slots into the centre position. Despite their narrow loss, Melbourne veterans, Karen Paxman and Elise O’Dea fill the half-back line, while key forward, Eden Zanker was impressive inside 50 and leading up the ground.

Geelong’s victory on Saturday night saw Nina Morrison emerge, with the number one pick collecting 22 disposals and eight tackles, joining teammate Meg McDonald from Darebin Falcons and Madeline Keryk – both on debut – in our Team of the Week. Ebony Marinoff‘s ball-winning efforts of 24 touches and 11 tackles was the most of the round, and earned her the remaining place in the midfield, while 2017 League Best and Fairest, Erin Phillips slots into half-forward.

Of the three remaining teams, dual sport athlete Ash Brazill and Magpies’ teammate, Jaimee Lambert were named in the side, as were Fremantle forwards, Kiara Bowers and Dana Hooker. Young gun GIANTS’ midfielder, Alyce Parker and the versatile, Cora Staunton round out the team of 24.

Weekend wash-up: AFLW – Round 1

WITH a new look 10 team competition, Round 1 of AFL Women’s 2019 was set to be a cracker. Two new sides in North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos and Geelong Cats took the field for the first time in AFLW history, both nabbing a historic win to start the season. Four of the five games were down to the wire, with less than five points margin at the final siren. Only the Kangaroos managed to pull away for a dominant win, with resilient Geelong and Fremantle sides coming from behind to win their respective matches.

 

Geelong 3.6 (24) defeated Collingwood 3.5 (23)
By: Taylah Melki

In a Round 1 thriller it came down to the wire with Geelong sealing the deal with a one-point victory over Collingwood, who are yet to win a first round match in the AFLW. The Magpies dominated the first quarter of play but Geelong fought back hard to take ascendancy going into the half time break. But the fight did not stop there with Collingwood coming back hard to fall agonisingly short come the final siren.

In their inaugural match, Geelong showed they have plenty of stars with the likes of number one draft pick, Nina Morrison tearing up the field. The youngster left her mark on the game with her silky skills, brute force to shrug off tackles and clean hands in traffic to hit up teammates. Other draftees such as Olivia Purcell, Denby Taylor and Sophie Van De Heuvel also showed their worth getting involved in the play. Darebin VFLW star, Meghan McDonald dominated down back taking a heap of marks and stopping the attacking flow of Collingwood with her clever positioning, strong overhead marks and quick recovery making her an integral player in the Cats lineup. Up the other end in the absence of Phoebe McWilliams, Madeleine Boyd made history nailing Geelong’s first goal. The former Melbourne and GWS GIANTS player made her presence felt up forward scoring two goals and getting her hands to plenty of the ball, giving Geelong fans plenty to cheer about.

With a host of stars gone, Collingwood proved they have plenty of depth and are versatile when it comes to positioning with the likes of Cecilia McIntosh moving into a more attacking forward role. But it was the likes of Ash Brazill and Jaimee Lambert that dominated across the field for the Pies. Brazill showed her extreme athleticism with her impressive vertical leap and good sidestep to work her way through traffic and deliver the ball to a teammate. Lambert sent scares through the Collingwood camp after going down with what seemed to be a leg injury, to only return and score an impressive dribble goal to keep the Pies in the game. Youngsters, Jordyn Allen and Mikala Cann also did their part, while the likes of code-crosser Sharni Layton worked well in the ruck. Sophie Alexander looked ominous up forward scoring 1.2 in the opening quarter but suffered a concussion later in the match.

 

Adelaide 1.11 (17) defeated by Western Bulldogs 2.6 (18)
By: Taylah Melki

In another close encounter it was the Western Bulldogs that came away with a one point victory over Adelaide. It is the first time two premiers have gone head-to-head in AFLW history and the match up did not disappoint with it all coming down to the final minutes of the game. The Crows had plenty of the play, but inaccuracy ultimately cost them game, with players unable to capitalise on their opportunities.

Bulldogs captain, Katie Brennan made her presence felt up forward slotting the only two majors for her side. While the likes of Ellie Blackburn starred once again getting her hands on the ball and using her elite skill to move the ball cleanly and quickly through traffic. Blackburn proved she is a real force to be reckoned with, highlighting her dash and general football smarts to hit Brennan up in the goal square with a perfectly weighted kick. Hannah Scott also dominated across the field for the Dogs racking up plenty of marks and using her clever kicks to try and alleviate pressure.

Tackling machine, Ebony Marinoff once again starred for Adelaide going in hard and laying a whopping 11 tackles for the match. Marinoff also accumulated plenty of touches thanks to her clean hands and hard work to go in and win the footy at the contest. Youngster, Eloise Jones showed plenty of courage going back with flight of the ball and taking an impressive mark while also highlighting her footy smarts trying to set up a chance at goal for her teammate.  In her debut match, Chloe Scheer also had her moments of brilliance nailing the Crows only major and showed she has good goal sense attacking the goal face on multiple occasions and taking some impressive marks in the forward 50. Veteran, Erin Phillips also starred thanks to her good hands in close and ability to open up space.

 

North Melbourne 7.10 (52) defeated Carlton 2.4 (16)
By: Carly McClen

The Kangaroos introduced themselves into the competition head on and with force, prevailing to start the second half of round 1 on Sunday, with a dominating 36-point win over the Carlton Blues. It was an ominous memo for every club in the competition, stating that the Roos are a gelled and composed outfit and have made capital of their pre season.

The great start by the Roos was a skilled show of star-studded players who came together, showed mutual respect, made the most of opportunities and played their individual roles. They followed process without dropping off throughout the four quarters and they got results. To win games, you have to kick goals. For Carlton, having Brianna Davey in the forward line meant that she wasn’t around the ball, getting it into the forward line and assisting her team to more inside 50 possessions. Carlton’s star players appeared to go missing throughout the game, reappearing for solid patches but unable to cement any scoring opportunities.

Although the Blues won the hit-outs, the North Melbourne midfielders were winning the possessions, providing the run and carry while haggling and stopping the Blues from penetrating and playing their game. The Blues got pushed under the ball, lacked structure and didn’t appear to have time to lower their eyes to hit targets, largely due to the relentless pressure from the Kangaroos. Ex-Collingwood player Emma King dominated in the Kangaroos colours and was likely the best on ground in her role as a versatile ruck playing forward, kicking two goals, tackling and taking marks. Another ex-Pie, Jasmine Garner also had a great day out, collecting 17 disposals and a goal in her first outing as a Kangaroo. 

Though Roos captain, Emma Kearney was tagged for the game, she collected a solid 18 disposals for her first game out of Bulldogs colours. The evenness and the spread of the side without reliance on their captain to dominate makes them a real threat to the competition in 2019. North Melbourne coach, Scott Gowans appears to be admired and well respected by his newly formed playing group. He was happy to enjoy some celebration post debut, but keen to get back to business and focus on the next encounter, the GWS GIANTS, for the quick turnaround Friday night match.

 

Melbourne 8.7 (55) defeated by Fremantle 9.5 (59)
By: Peter Williams

Fremantle claimed its first AFL Women’s interstate win over Melbourne in scorching temperatures at Casey Fields yesterday. With the maximum heat reaching more than 38 degrees, both sides took advantage of their respective change rooms at each break. The Demons kicked the first two goals of the game, before Fremantle – led by teenager Sabreena Duffy, booted the last three goals of the quarter to take the lead at quarter time. Just to show it was not a once-off, Fremantle piled on another three goals to one, opening up a 20-point lead by the main break.

It did not take long for a different, more direct Melbourne side to come out in the second half, as they banged home five goals to zero – including three in two minutes. Tegan Cunningham was rewarded for her hard running inside 50 with a perfect snap from the tightest of angles, Eden Zanker also snapped truly off a step, while Maddison Gay ran into an open goal for the easiest of six-pointers. By that stage they lead by eight, and when Bianca Jakobsson slotted home the side’s final major of the term, Melbourne fans found themselves 14 points in front.

Against the odds, the West Australian side showed they had plenty of fight left, with tackling machine, Kiara Bowers booting a goal on debut in the sixth minute to draw within eight points. When Ashley Sharp found the big sticks for the second time, Fremantle were just two points adrift midway through the final term. A minute later, Gemma Houghton booted what would be the match winning goal as Melbourne struggled with the breeze to get it out of the defensive 50 in the dying stages, allowing the Dockers to hold on to a terrific four-point win.

Despite the loss, Melbourne had plenty of big ball winners in the absence of Daisy Pearce, as Karen Paxman (21 disposals), Lily Mithen (18) and Elise O’Dea (17) all got amongst it. Zanker and Cunningham were dangerous up forward, but it was the speed and dare of the Dockers that got them over the line. Dana Hooker (15 disposals and 12 tackles) was a standout, as was Bowers who had 13 disposals and 12 tackles, as well as a goal. Ebony Antonio (14 disposals and a goal) and Melissa Caulfield (12 disposals, three marks and a goal).

 

Brisbane Lions 4.5 (29) defeated GWS GIANTS 4.3 (27)
By: Brandon Hutchinson

Capping off Round 1 of the AFL Women’s third season, fans bared witness to another tight finish with the Lions winning over the GIANTS at home. In the first half, however the Lions were a different side. They struggled to capitalise on their opportunities and failed to penetrate the GIANTS’ defence. Come the third term, the game flipped as Brisbane kicked three consecutive goals with Jess Wuetschner at the helm. The GIANTS attempted a comeback in the fourth, but could not free the ball in the dying minutes.

Lions star, Emily Bates impressed with a strong 22 disposals, two marks and four tackles. She showed great awareness and delivered effectively (77 per cent). Alexandra Anderson also picked up 22 possessions, exhibiting her talents more in her contested work, earning four marks and a game-high seven tackles. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Wuetschner led the charge. Frederick-Traub’s goal in the third secured the lead which won them the game, while Wuetschner kicked the remaining three with unmatched goal sense.

The GIANTS had stars in Cora Staunton, Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson. Parker and Beeson both picked up 18 disposals at 72 and 78 per cent efficiency respectively, with Parker also taking four marks and landing three tackles. Staunton remained a pillar up forward, kicking two goals with 14 disposals, two marks and two tackles. She did her best to keep her team in it, but alone could not withstand Brisbane’s pressure.

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 1

FOOTY is back and for the first time, 10 AFL Women’s clubs are preparing to achieve the ultimate glory. Each week we will preview and review the games, provide a Team of the Week, Draftee Watch piece and analyse the week’s statistics, as well as plenty more for the third season of the competition. Stay tuned on Draft Central for all the coverage.

GEELONG vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, February 2, 6.40pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

The opening game of the AFL Women’s season has a massive question mark for both sides. On one side of the head-to-head is a brand new team with no historical data at the elite level, aside from some of the players who have crossed from other clubs. On the other side is a team that has been gutted in terms of experience, especially in the forward half, but has picked up a number of elite young kids as well as players who can have an impact in the short-term. Playing in front of a home crowd will help the Cats in their inaugural clash,  while the Magpies will be keen to finally get a good start to their season after two losses in opening round games. Both teams are deemed to be in the “weaker” conference – by means of avoiding both past premiers and the heavily stacked North Melbourne – and a win against a conference rival is vitally important in the stakes for securing a top four place. The advantage both these teams have is the fact much of their core group played VFL Women’s together, and therefore in terms of team chemistry over a 12-month period are well adjusted.

Both teams head into the clash with key personnel out, as Collingwood’s Best and Fairest and 2018 AFLW Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy unavailable for the season, while Richelle Cranston will miss the first two rounds through suspension.  When talking about key youth, it is hard to look past some of the talent both clubs picked up in the draft. Geelong looked to its TAC Cup affiliate to select number one pick, Nina Morrison, as well as premiership teammates, Olivia Purcell and Denby Taylor. Add in talented GWV Rebels, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke, as well as Murray Bushrangers’ inside midfielder and defender, Rebecca Webster, and the future is very bright at the Cats. The Magpies also heavily invested in the draft, picking up two first rounders in Dandenong Stingrays’ captain, Jordyn Allen and Oakleigh Chargers’ tall, Katie Lynch. Expected to play up opposite ends, they are well complemented by Eastern Ranges’ speedster, Mikala Cann who 12 months ago was yet to play a competitive match of football. Versatile youngster, Lauren Butler is also expected to become a key feature in the Magpies’ side. With Geelong having the likes of Bec Goring, Madeline Keryk, Julia Crockett-Grills and Meghan McDonald among their contingent of impressive VFLW performers last season, they have a cohesive unit. The Magpies will look to the experience of captain Stephanie Chiocchi, Emma Grant, Sarah D’Arcy and Jaimee Lambert to lead the young side this season.

H2H: Geelong 0 | Collingwood 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Geelong 0-0-0 | Collingwood 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The game marks the first ever AFL Women’s game at GMHBA Stadium, the first time Geelong’s AFL Women’s side will play a match for premiership points, but the third consecutive year Collingwood will be involved in the opening match of the season.
  • Unfortunately for the Magpies, the opening match of the season has not been kind for them, losing both games to Carlton at Ikon Park, albeit in a much closer game in 2018.
  • The last time these two teams played in any form was the VFL Women’s Preliminary Final, which saw the Cats upset the minor premiers to bundle the Magpies out in straight sets and head into the decider against Hawthorn. Collingwood’s loss was compounded by an injury to 2018 Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy that would keep her out of the 2019 AFL Women’s season.
  • Collingwood booted 42 goals in season 2018. Players that contributed 36 of them are now either no longer on the Magpies’ list, or injured (Chloe Molloy – one).

 

ADELAIDE vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, February 2, 8.10pm
Norwood Oval, Adelaide

The game of the round is surely the match between the two AFL Women’s premiers. The 2017 champions, Adelaide take on the reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs in an evening game at Norwood Oval. Last season was a remarkable story for the Bulldogs, who overcame some key injuries, and the suspension of captain, Katie Brennan to topple Brisbane in the 2018 AFL Women’s decider. Adelaide would have been disappointed to not make the decider, but considering their injuries at different times, it was worth applauding their never-say-die attitude. A loss to Collingwood in the final round knocked them out of the race to go back-to-back, but they are now hungry as ever and keen to make amends in this match.

Both teams lost key players to long-term injuries in practice games a fortnight ago, with Adelaide’s number one ruck, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Western Bulldogs’ league leading goalkicker, Brooke Lochland both out. While the Crows will look to try and fill the void in the ruck, the Dogs certainly showed they have no shortage of forwards who can step up, and could turn to the likes of West Australian, Kate Bartlett who comes into the team with great forward nous at Under 18s level. Adelaide do have some serious firepower returning to the team with a fully fit Erin Phillips, and a dangerous youngster by the name of Chloe Scheer causing headaches inside 50. Adelaide could have the edge in the midfield given its depth with Phillips, Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall all running through there, but the Dogs’ key position players could stretch the Crows’ defence. If the Crows can keep it from the Dogs talls getting supply, then it will go a long way to deciding the match, but if the Dogs get on top of the Crows’ highly rated midfield, then they will be able to put on some serious scoreboard pressure. In saying that, the Dogs’ midfield is far from shabby itself with Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti among the most talented in the competition. It all adds up to being a cracker of a match.

H2H: Adelaide 2 | Western Bulldogs 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 2-2-0 | Western Bulldogs 0-1-0

Last time they met: Adelaide 6.5 (41) defeated Western Bulldogs 5.4 (34) at Norwood Oval, Round 3, 2018

Trailing the entire game, the Crows found something special in the final term to overrun the Bulldogs at home by just seven points. Chelsea Randall picked up 24 disposals (15 contested), had five rebounds and laid six tackles, while Ebony Marinoff laid a whopping 15 tackles on her way to 21 disposals, four inside 50s and five rebounds. But the inspiration was inaugural league best and fairest winner, Erin Phillips. The star played exclusively forward and had 15 disposals, but booted four of the Crows’ six goals to single-handedly dominate up forward and show Crows fans that there was going to be no second year blues – until injury unfortunately struck. Jenna McCormick booted the other two goals for the Crows, while for the Bulldogs, Katie Brennan was the multiple goalkicker with two from nine touches and three marks. Emma Kearney (20 disposals, three marks, three clearances, three inside 50s, five rebounds and six tackles) was everywhere, as was Ellie Blackburn (17 disposals, five clearances, five tackles and four inside 50s).

Fun facts:

  • Ebony Marinoff averages 19.5 disposals, four clearances, 10.5 tackles and four inside 50s against the Western Bulldogs from two clashes, the most of any Crow.
  • Now North Melbourne skipper, Emma Kearney averaged the most touches against the Crows in both meetings, with Ellie Blackburn set to take over the mantle, averaging 18 touches, four clearances, four tackles and five inside 50s from two games.
  • It is the first time two AFL Women’s Premiers have met in the history of the competition.
  • Western Bulldogs are yet to lose an opening round match in the AFL Women’s season.

 

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, February 3, 1.05pm
North Hobart Oval, Hobart

The second history making match for Round 1 sees one of the premiership favourites, North Melbourne take on last year’s wooden spooners, Carlton. Both head into the game with relative different looking sides. The Kangaroos strategically targeted experience, picking up players from other AFL Women’s sides as part of the free agency and expansion period, while Carlton headed to the draft. As such, the Kangaroos head into the game as strong favourites in the clash, and their pre-season victory over Melbourne did nothing to sway opinions from the fact they will be a contender this season. Carlton took it up to Geelong at times in the practice game, but much like at times last season, it is just finding some four quarter consistency. The strong football state of Tasmania will get around the clash which is the first of the AFL Women’s competition, and with a number of local talents wearing blue and white, expect there to be a strong contingent of home support.

With no past head-to-head clashes to go by, there are plenty of questions leading into this clash. The biggest question mark is that of the Kangaroos and how they will gel with so many players from other teams. They brought over key Magpies, Emma King, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Mo Hope to supply their forward line and ruck division with power, while securing the biggest name from the 2018 season in Emma Kearney – the league best and fairest winner – to come across from the Dogs. Carlton has the potential to have the best one-two forward combination in the league with Darcy Vescio and Tayla Harris, but it is just getting the talented duo to click. With the midfield and forward half boosted by young guns, Madison Prespakis, Abbie McKay and Emerson Woods, and the defence sured up by Collingwood VFLW captain, Jess Edwards, as well as Charlotte Wilson and Jayde Van Dyk, Carlton’s future is looking bright. Realistically, it will take an unbelievable effort to knock off North Melbourne, but Blues fans will be keen to see what new coach, Daniel Harford can do to create more scoring opportunities – something the Blues lacked last season. A four-goal practice game by returning captain, Brianna Davey gave fans a hint of what to expect, creating all sorts of headaches for opposing teams.

H2H: North Melbourne 0 | Carlton 0 | Draws 0
Venue: North Melbourne 0-0-0 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The match marks the first official match to be played in Tasmania, with the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos opening their season in the Apple Isle, and of course marking their first match in the competition.
  • Carlton’s Brianna Davey has averaged 21 disposals, five rebounds and 2.5 inside 50s in her two opening round clashes, as Carlton beat arch-rivals Collingwood under lights on both occasions.
  • Darcy Vescio booted four goals in the inaugural AFL Women’s match in 2017, before being held goalless by debutant, Chloe Molloy last year, who would go on to win the Rising Star Award.
  • North Melbourne captain, Emma Kearney has averaged 22 disposals, six marks, five clearances and six inside 50s in her two matches against Carlton.

 

MELBOURNE vs. FREMANTLE
Sunday, February 3, 3.05pm
Casey Fields, Cranbourne

With predicted temperatures around the south-eastern suburbs predicted to be mid-to-late thirties, fans heading to the clash between Demons and Fremantle are recommended to stay hydrated. The game at Melbourne’s spiritual home, has become a fortress of late, winning five of a possible six games, including a thrashing victory over their Round 1 opponents back in 2017. Last year the Dockers got the better of Melbourne over in the west, using straight goalkicking to get the job done early in the season and chalk up a win against a premiership contender. The Demons have always been thereabouts, just missing out on the deciders, while Fremantle has had disappointing starts to the seasons which have ultimately cost them. With a new coaching panel and new-look side, Fremantle will be keen to topple the Demons at their home ground, especially a Demons side minus Daisy PearceMel Hickey and Richelle Cranston, among others.

Both teams are bringing in some serious young talent this season, with the Demons looking to the likes of Gippsland Power co-captain, Tyla Hanks and Northern Knights captain, Maddy Brancatisano. Both have incredible work ethics and a desire to just hunt the footballer and play their role, potentially being future leaders at the club. Throw in Dandenong Stingrays’ speedster, Shelley Heath and Casey Demons slick ball user, Casey Sherriff and the Dees have added some speed and skills to their inside grunt and contested ball-winning ability. The Dockers have also added some great local talent to their stocks, led by West Australian Under 18s state captain, Sabreena Duffy as well as overagers, Matilda Sergeant and Jasmin Stewart. The big question mark regarding Fremantle is how they will line-up as the off-season seemed to be a clean-out of sorts through their own choosing, whereas Melbourne lost players due to free agency and expansion. The difference in this game could well be the top-end star factor of the Demons, with Karen Paxman, Lily Mithen, Bianca Jakobsson and Elise O’Dea all roaming through the midfield at times. With Eden Zanker providing a target up forward, they have good depth across the ground, The Dockers have Kara Donnellan and Dana Hooker amongst their arsenal, but with a relatively new-looking side, it will be fascinating to see how they perform.

H2H: Melbourne 1 | Fremantle 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Melbourne 5-1-0 | Fremantle 0-0-0

Last time they met: Fremantle 6.0 (36) defeated Melbourne 4.7 (31) at Fremantle Oval, Round 3, 2018

Fremantle had to come from behind twice as they held Melbourne to a combined one behind in the second and fourth quarters, kicking the only two goals of the final term. In a display of precision accuracy, the Dockers did not kick a behind all game, and after not scoring in the opening term, booted six straight goals to secure a win at Fremantle Oval. Kara Donnellan and Lisa Webb both picked up 17 disposals, while Emily McGuire booted two goals. For the Dees, Daisy Pearce had another day out with 24 disposals, three marks, five clearances and four inside 50s, while Tegan Cunningham booted two majors in the loss.

Fun facts:

  • Since losing their inaugural AFL Women’s Round 1 clash to Brisbane at Casey Fields, Melbourne has not lost a game, winning five consecutive matches at the venue, including a nine-goal win over Fremantle in 2017.
  • Both sides are likely to head into the clash very different to the previous encounter with a maximum of 13 players each from their sides of 21 just 12 months ago, still on their respective lists.
  • Dana Hooker averaged 17 disposals (11 contested) and 5.5 tackles in her two matches for the Dockers against the Demons, and was Fremantle’s best player in the disastrous 54-point belting back in 2017.
  • Melbourne will need to find a way to replace the influence of Daisy Pearce, who has been a headache for the Dockers in the past, averaging 25 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and 3.5 inside 50s.

 

BRISBANE vs. GWS GIANTS
Sunday, February 3, 4.05pm
Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, Moreton Bay

The final game of the round pits back-to-back grand finalist, Brisbane against the team they knocked out of the decider contention in the final round last year, GWS GIANTS. The quirky fact between these teams is they have played each other four times – twice in the pre-season and twice in the regular season. On both occasions, GWS has triumphed in the pre-season practice matches, while Brisbane has got the job done – and convincingly so – when playing for premiership points. The GIANTS average just two goals per game against the Lions during the season, and they will be keen to repeat the effort of a fortnight ago when they were too good for the young Lions. Brisbane has played just the one game at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex – the Lions new home for 2019 – which was a disappointing and almost season-defining loss to Collingwood, whereas the GIANTS are yet to run out at the venue.

Both teams have young line-ups coming through with the teams losing players such as Kaitlyn Ashmore, Jamie Stanton and Tahlia Randall (Brisbane), and Phoebe McWilliams and Renee Forth (GIANTS). They have also picked up some experience with Brisbane scooping up Lauren Arnell from Carlton and the GIANTS adding Magpie, Christina Bernardi to its forward mix. Heading to the draft, the GIANTS picked up one of the most decorated and talented juniors in Alyce Parker who will slot straight into the midfield and undoubtedly be a key cog in that onball division. Former netballer, Taylah Davies is already looking like a valuable pick-up for the GIANTS, while Haneen Zreika hit the scoreboard in the practice match as well. Any team with Alicia Eva, Jessica Dal Pos and Amanda Farrugia has to be respected. Brisbane’s forward power with Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Jess Wuetschner is always going to be a key consideration for opposition coaches, while Lions coach Craig Starcevich has the luxury of bringing up his Queensland Under 18 young guns into the senior team at draft time. All Australian ruck Lauren Bella, state captain Natalie Grider and key Queensland players Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw, Jade Ellenger, Tori Groves-Little and Jacqui Yorston join West Australian, McKenzie Dowrick as the future of the Lions.

H2H: Brisbane 2 | GWS 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Brisbane 0-1-0 | GWS 0-0-0

Last time they met: Brisbane 10.4 (64) defeated GWS GIANTS 3.6 (24) at Blacktown ISP, Round 7, 2018.

With an AFL Women’s Grand Final spot on the line, it was the Brisbane Lions who were all over the GIANTS, running out 40-point winners to keep their premiership dreams alive – albeit with their fate in Collingwood’s hands. The GIANTS had improved remarkably from the inaugural season, but fell short of a grand final place, and will have rued that final game over the summer. Ally Anderson and Emily Bates had days out against the GIANTS, collecting a combined 46 disposals, seven marks and eight clearances. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick-Traub was unstoppable with four goals to go with 18 disposals, five marks and five hitouts. Jess Wuetschner was equally as impressive with three majors from 11 touches, doing all the damage at ground level. For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva tried her best with a team-high 18 disposals, three marks, six tackles and five inside 50s, while Jessica Dal Pos and Amanda Farrugia were the next highest ball winners with 14 apiece.

Fun facts:

  • Brisbane has played just the one match at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, and unfortunately it was one to forget, losing to Collingwood in Round 6, 2018. It put their premiership aspirations in serious doubt, before ironically the Magpies knocked off the Crows in the final round to hand the Lions a second consecutive Grand Final berth.
  • The Lions bounced back from the above loss with that 40-point win over GWS in the last round, knocking out the GIANTS from Grand Final contention, and replacing them in the decider.
  • In the two games against the GIANTS, Sabrina Frederick-Traub has booted five goals, whereas the entire GIANTS team have booted just the four.
  • Emma Swanson averages the most disposals for a GIANT against the Lions, at 15, while Jessica Dal Pos averages 13 touches per game.

AFLW season previews: Western Bulldogs

THE reigning premiers will come into 2019 hoping to go back-to-back for the first time in the AFLW competition, having picked up a wealth of experienced players to join their side this year. But with the loss of last year’s Best and Fairest, Emma Kearney to North Melbourne and leading goalkicker, Brooke Lochland to injury for the majority of the season, their Bulldogs’ plans could be skewed.

Last season: 1st – five wins, two losses.

Changes:

In: Belinda Smith, Eleanor Brown, Aisling McCarthy, Kate Bartlett, Selena Karlson, Jessie Davies, Tessa Boyd, Celine Moody

Out: Daria Bannister, Jenna Bruton, Emma Kearney, Aasta O’Connor, Jess Anderson, Rachel Ashley, Laura Bailey, Kim Ebb

With a lot of experience lost in the off-season, the Bulldogs opted to do a straight swap in the draft, opting for more experience over youth. Paul Groves and his assistants would’ve followed the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition closely, picking up four players who had experience in that league. Classy midfielder, Eleanor Brown had the honour of adding TAC Cup Girls and Vic Metro experience to her VFLW experience last year, proving she has what it takes to shine at AFLW level. Brown can play an inside or outside role in the midfield and can roll across to the half-back line, which she did successfully in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships in July. Brown came up against a clever forward in Kate Bartlett during those championships, who she will now play alongside at the Dogs. Bartlett played for Western Australia as a 19 year-old last year, working hard to earn a chance to play AFLW alongside another ‘KB’ in Katie Brennan.

Area of strength: Forward line

The Bulldogs have one of the most attractive forward lines in the competition. This is of course headlined by Brennan, who is a class above with her marking and goal kicking ability. If she can stay injury and suspension free this season, she will be a key part in taking the Bulldogs to the top again. She will also have Kate Bartlett inside 50 to complement her. The Western Australian forward is also strong overhead and has a great goal sense under pressure, playing as a deep or high forward. AFLW fans were starved of seeing Isabel Huntington reach her potential last season due to her heartbreaking Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. While she had another knee scare in the off-season, the 2016 number one draft pick will be ready to go in 2019, and she will certainly be one to watch with her prowess in the air and long kick. Add in the best on ground in the Grand Final, Monique Conti and the Bulldogs have a dangerous forward line that combines dominance in the air and speed on the field.

Area of weakness: Midfield

The Bulldogs lost a key midfield duo in the off-season to North Melbourne, waving goodbye to Kearney and Jenna Bruton. While Aasta O’Connor mainly plays in defence, she was often a key cog in the ruck for the Bulldogs in seasons gone by, meaning she is another loss in the middle of the ground for the reigning premiers. The Bulldogs are fortunate that Ellie Blackburn has still stuck around, as she and Kearney combined to be a lethal duo last season. Blackburn has been elevated to the club’s co-captain alongside Brennan this season, allowing her to relish her on-field leadership as well as her obvious talent. Sandringham Dragons product, Brown could be the one to combine with Blackburn this season, as Blackburn’s great hands and precise kicks have given opposition midfields headaches in past years.

Players to watch:

Isabel Huntington

Huntington’s debut game was cruelly halted in the first half when she ruptured her ACL against Brisbane, not even getting to complete a full game in her debut appearance for the side. Now having been cleared of another ACL rupture after an innocuous training incident, Huntington is on track to play her debut game for the Bulldogs in Round 1, and if last year’s glimpse is anything to go by, she will be a dominant force inside 50. Huntington’s overhead marking is elite and she is strong in the contests. Combine that with her long kick, and she is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Naomi Ferres

Ferres had a brilliant season in the VFLW for the Western Bulldogs, taking out the club’s Best and Fairest at the end of the season. Despite only playing seven matches, Ferres was named in the best in each game, averaging 17.4 disposals per game. This included finishing off her season with three consecutive games in which she racked up 20 disposals per game. Clearly, Ferres is one that knows how to find the football and is clever both by hand and by foot, which will make her a key cog in the Bulldogs’ 2019 midfield, given the loss of Bruton and Kearney.

Eleanor Brown

Brown was one of the most composed players in the TAC Cup Girls competition last year, winning the ball with ease in the midfield. She was often able to clear space with her long kick or create space with her outside running, making her one of Sandringham’s key players across the season. Brown was named in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year at half-forward for her efforts, highlighting her versatility across the field. In the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, she found herself at half-back on the last day of the Gold Coast tournament, and was a key playmaker, racking up plenty of disposals and acting as an anchor across the back line. She made the Under-18 All-Australian team because of this game and her efforts across the tournament for Vic Metro.

2019 prediction: 1st in Conference A

Despite some key losses in the off-season, the Bulldogs should still be the ones to watch when it comes to the premiership race. A forward line containing Brennan, Huntington, Conti and Bartlett, a defence containing the likes of Hannah Scott, Libby Birch and Lauren Spark and a midfield which consists of bona-fide stars in Blackburn, Brown and Ferres still makes the Bulldogs a highly talented team. Considering their success last season, they do have one of the harder draws in the 2019 season, facing off against Adelaide and the two new expansion teams in Geelong and North Melbourne, and hosting a Grand Final rematch against the Lions in the first four rounds of the season. If the Bulldogs can win at least two of those games, they will be well on track for another premiership berth, as they have an easy draw after that, facing off against Fremantle, Melbourne and Carlton in the last three rounds of the season.

2019 AFLW Western Bulldogs Fixture

DateEventTime/ResultsVenueArticleMatch Day
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Norwood OvalRound 1
Whitten OvalRound 2
University of Tasmania StadiumRound 3
Whitten OvalRound 4
Fremantle OvalRound 5
Marvel StadiumRound 6
Whitten OvalRound 7