Tag: ellie blackburn

AFL Women’s Top 15 improvers: Cats youth develop while Crows step up

THE AFL Women’s season is only two games in, but there have already been a number of impressive performers in season 2020. We take a look at the top 15 players who have improved their game from season 2019 to season 2020. While we understand that it is a matter of opinion, we have crunched the numbers to bring a factual approach, looking at those players who have bolstered their Draft Central (DC) Points the most in that time frame. DC Points are similar to the traditional fantasy points, with the exception of not including free kicks for or against, as to not penalise or reward players in that aspect of the game. It is a debate for another day, but overall this method is a good measure of improvement based on statistical areas.

What we have listed are the top 15 players in the AFL Women’s who have shot up the rankings in terms of their DC points, looking at their total points this year compared to last, providing an insight into those players who have really stepped it up this season.

eq #1 Rebecca Webster
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 221st / 20
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 7th / 72 (+52)

The clear standout for the Most Improved if there was such an award, with the former Murray Bushrangers skipper playing more midfield minutes in 2020 and benefiting massively. She has gone from a consistent role player in the defensive half of the ground, where she averaged 6.3 disposals, one mark, one tackle and one rebound per game from four games last season, into a ball winning juggernaut of 17 disposals, 6.5 marks three inside 50s and two rebounds per game, covering the ground more than before. It followed on from her strong VFL Women’s season where she spent a lot of time in the midfield, averaging 16.5 touches per game and showing the coaches that she was capable of taking the next step in her game.

eq #1 Phoebe Monahan
Richmond
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 221st / 20
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 7th / 72 (+52)

Crossing from GWS GIANTS to the Tigers over the off-season, Monahan was not as highly recognised as teammate, Christina Bernardi, but she has really stepped it up in season 2020 to match it with Geelong young gun, Webster. Having played at the GIANTS for two seasons and averaging between seven to eight disposals per game, Monahan has shot up to 17.5 per match getting around the ground and primarily playing out of the back half. She has already recorded a massive 6.5 rebounds and three inside 50s to help the Tigers, and while they have lost both their clashes so far, the 26-year-old has provided some good experience in defence for the young Cubs.

#3 Anne Hatchard
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: 14th / 73
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 1st / 121 (+48)

The only other player close to the top two in season 2020 is Anne Hatchard. Already a prominent ball winner with the Crows, the absence of Erin Phillips from that midfield group has forced Hatchard to shoulder more of the load with Ebony Marinoff and the other Crows midfielders. Having already averaged more than anyone else on this list last season with 73 DC points to accompany 18.9 disposals, she is far and away the top disposals winner in 2020, averaging 29.5 and holding the league record of 35 touches in a game, whilst averaging the six marks as well. While unlikely to maintain those kind of lofty averages throughout the season, her start has certainly been remarkable.

#4 Sharni Layton
Collingwood
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 207th / 22
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 34th / 55 (+33)

There would be very few who would have expected the former Australian Diamonds netballer to be this high up on the list, if at all. Having played six games last season off no real football experience, Layton rarely got near it and was learning from a blank canvas. Fast forward 12 months, and the ruck looks like a natural at the game, averaging 18.5 hitouts and kicking her first AFL Women’s goal in Round 1. She has also more than doubled her disposals and is clunking her marks, laying more tackles and looking a dangerous prospect for any opposition player considering her frame. While it might look like she burst onto the scene this year, the foundations for this kind of form were built in the VFL Women’s last season, averaging 11 disposals, 15.6 hitouts, three tackles and two marks per game. Stunningly, Layton averages the same DC points as Ellie Blackburn and Jenna Bruton, showing the form she is in.

eq. #5 Danielle Ponter
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 127th / 33
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 24th / 61 (+28)

With the high injury toll at the Crows, some of their next tier was bound to stand up, and Danielle Ponter has been one of those players. In 2019, Ponter played as a pure small forward in her debut season, playing eight games and snaring 13 goals in that time at an impressive 1.6 per game. While no doubt benefiting from the strength of the Crows line-up, she held her spot and then this season has moved further up the ground, averaging 12.5 disposals, 3.5 marks and 3.5 inside 50s per game. She is yet to hit the scoreboard, but is setting others up, using her class and poise to work her way through opposition defensive zones and she has a high upside for the future.

eq. #5 Breann Moody
Carlton
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 185th / 25
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 44th / 53 (+28)

Much like Layton, Moody is a player you might not expect to be on this list as the ruck roles are often underrated at AFL Women’s level and the focus being on the midfielders or key forwards. Along with Layton, Moody has been sensational to start the season, averaging 16 hitouts and 10 disposals, after just the 6.4 and 4.4 respectively from eight games last year. While deployed as a forward who rotated through the ruck last year, she has taken the number one ruck role by the horns and is thriving in 2020.

#7 Jasmine Garner
North Melbourne
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 29th / 59
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 3rd / 86 (+27)

Already considered one of the league’s best players, and certainly most damaging, Garner has been played up both ends but seems most at home in the forward half. Last year she broke even with her 2018 season at the Pies, booting the same amount of goals, but without the heavily reliance on her performing, and finding a pure role in attack. At Collingwood she played at both ends, and while 2018 might be considered her best year, she is only track to easily eclipse that in 2020. Right now she is third overall for DC points, and is averaging a massive 19 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal a game from her two matches.

eq. #8 Olivia Purcell
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: 39th / 53
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 4th / 77 (+24)

The second of the Cats young brigade to get a mention in this list, Purcell has bolstered herself up to be a genuine Most Valuable Player (MVP) chance. Not only has she maintained her ball-winning abilities, but she showed she can hit the scoreboard, booting two goals in her Round 2 match against Brisbane. Only in her second season, Purcell is averaging six more disposals and four more marks, getting to the outside more often, and also dropping into defence to help out as a key cog in that midfield group. Another player who build form through the VFL Women’s program with a strong season.

eq. #8 Aasta O’Connor
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 144th / 30
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 39th / 54 (+24)

Having an early season purple patch, O’Connor is back in the form that made her a damaging ruck at the Western Bulldogs a couple of seasons ago. Her first season in the blue and white hoops was interrupted and less consistent, but her start in 2020 has been impressive, coaching the younger rucks such as Rene Caris to come through, and is the perfect centre square ruck in the Cats side with the likes of Purcell, Webster and Nina Morrison all running around – players who O’Connor has mentored and watched develop through her role in the AFL Women’s Academy.

#10 Julia Crockett-Grills
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 132nd / 32
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 34th / 55 (+23)

With four players in the top 10, it shows the Cats are doing something right even if it might not be shown on the scoreboard just yet. Crockett-Grills, like Purcell has developed into a fully fledged AFL Women’s midfielder, averaging 15.5 disposals, 3.0 marks and 3.5 tackles per game. She steadily built form in the Cats program last season, playing eight games in the AFLW since being drafted from the premiership-winning Hawks’ outfit. Her VFLW season was even better last year and she has continued that form in 2020 at the elite level.

#11 Stacey Livingstone
Collingwood
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq 110th / 36
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 27th / 58 (+22)

The reliable defender would be a lock for All-Australian if the team was decided right now, and it is little surprise to see her in this rich vein of form considering her VFLW season. She won the Lisa Hardeman Medal for best on ground in the VFLW Grand Final and has rolled that form into the 2020 AFLW season. Now into her fourth season, Livingston has really stepped up her offensive game to match that of her dire defensive work which saw her nullify many key forwards in the past. Now Livingston has become more of an offensive threat, which has shown in her improvements in disposal numbers (+4), rebounds (+2) and marks (+2).

eq. #12 Ash Riddell
North Melbourne
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 35th / 55
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 6th / 73 (+18)

While we have not included players who missed the season last year, Riddell did get on the park in a couple of games before going down in Round 2. Comparing her two games from last season to 2020, Riddell has been more potent on the attack, with six more disposals and three more inside 50s per game. She is still laying her 4.5 tackles per game and able to hit the scoreboard, but she is pushing up the ground and impacting the contest to a greater degree. After an elite VFLW campaign, Riddell is a good chance for All-Australian form if she can maintain her early season showings.

eq. #12 Christina Bernardi
Richmond
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 90th / 39
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 28th / 57 (+18)

The Richmond forward came with plenty of hype in the off-season as one of the famed trio to land at the yellow and black along with Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick. Her season at the GIANTS was underwhelming, playing deeper that she did at Collingwood and not having the same impact. Now at Richmond, Bernardi is having a greater influence on the game up the field, averaging 13.5 disposals and 3.5 marks per game, back in the form she was in for the black and white in 2018.

eq. #12 Renee Forth
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 90th / 39
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 28th / 57 (+18)

Of all the marquee players from the inaugural season, the 32-year-old Forth is often seen as flying under the radar. She crossed from the GIANTS to the Crows last season and played in a premiership off the back of an improved year without the injury concerns of 2018. In 2020, Forth has already lifted her numbers across the board, and is averaging double-figure disposals as well as a career-high 3.5 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s per game. Not a known huge ball winner like some of her teammates, she has stepped it up so far and is playing her role well.

#15 Gemma Houghton
Fremantle
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 53rd / 46
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 22nd / 63 (+17)

The Fremantle tall forward is flying under the radar this season despite becoming a real target inside 50. With all the talk around the young crop coming through at the Dockers, Houghton is going about her business to average 13.0 disposals, 4.5 marks, 3.0 hitouts, 3.5 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and a goal per game. She covers a lot of ground and is doing well in a number of areas and has already been one of the top key forwards this season.

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

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

Friday, February 14

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

Taylah Melki

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

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

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

Tip: Melbourne by 15.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

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

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: S.Heath 30 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 C.Sherriff 18 N.McEvoy 17 A.Kemp 36 E.O’Dea 5
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 M.Guerin 22

In: N.McEvoy
Out: M.Guerin

Saturday, February 15 

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

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

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

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

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points

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

Taylah Melki

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

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

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

Tip: Richmond by 5.

GOLD COAST

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

In: E.Hampson
Out: A.Hamilton

RICHMOND

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

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

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Fremantle by 35.

WEST COAST

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

In: K.Orme
Out: A.Hill (knee)

FREMANTLE

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

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

Sunday, February 16

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Geelong by 15.

GEELONG

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

In: R.Caris, M.Boyd
Out: None

BRISBANE

B: N.Grider 10 S.Campbell 20
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 C.Svarc 25
C: E.Zielke – C 8 B.Koenen 3 S.Webb 4
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Tawhiao-Wardlaw 30 S.Conway 12
F: D.Davidson 14 G.Bodey 15
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Zanchetta 2 J.Ellenger 5

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

CARLTON

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

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

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 E.Fowler 15
C: S.Rowe 7 B.Bonnici 8 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: C.Molloy 2 S.D’Arcy 4 S.Dargan 46
F: M.Cann 25 J.Allen 6
Foll: S.Layton 1 A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13
I/C: S.Casey 22 K.Stratton 41 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 M.Shevlin 35 E.Hynes 11 E.O’Dea 50

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

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

ADELAIDE

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

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

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: D.Guttridge 5 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: N.Exon 15 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 R.Dillon 25
I/C: I.Shannon 11 A.Brown 2 C.Munn 13 N.Xenos 27 C.Whitfort 4 A.Drennan 8 P.Kelly 16

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

ROUND 2 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

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

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

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

RISING STAR NOMINEES:

Lucy McEvoy (Carlton)

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

Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda)

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

Carlton vs. Richmond

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

GWS vs. Gold Coast

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

Melbourne vs. North Melbourne

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

Brisbane vs. Adelaide

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

Collingwood vs. West Coast

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

St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs

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

Fremantle vs. Geelong

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

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

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

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

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

CARLTON

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

Saturday, February 8

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

GOLD COAST

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

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

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

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

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

ADELAIDE

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

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

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

WEST COAST

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

ST KILDA

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

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

GEELONG

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

ROUND 1 TIPS:

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

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: Western Bulldogs

AFTER a quiet 2019 AFL Women’s season saw the Western Bulldogs finish at the bottom of Conference A, they are sure to switch on in season 2020 with a clean slate but plenty of player turnover to contend with. Losing key cogs in Katie Brennan and Monique Conti to expansion club, Richmond threw a spanner in the works for the side but in return the Dogs picked up some highly talented youngsters in the 2019 AFLW Draft who are sure to provide the excitement needed to spark a big season. 

KEY PLAYER:

Ellie Blackburn (midfielder/forward)

A key cog throughout the Bulldogs’ three seasons, Blackburn’s influence out on the field is even more required than ever with the departure of so many dominant players. Able to generate plenty of excitement with her physical game style and consistency, Blackburn’s leadership will be key to ensure the side stays on track to create an exciting brand of footy to move past a quiet 2019.

RISING STAR:

Gabby Newton (midfielder)

Picked at number one overall at the 2019 AFLW National Draft, Newton has been a key cog across the field throughout her Under-18s career with plenty of accolades to her name despite her youth, making for an exciting player to join the Bulldogs who were lacklustre at best last season. Newton has the cleanliness, speed and tenacity to get the job done, with an innate ability to create something out of nothing thanks to her game smarts and clean hands. With versatility and clean hands to boot, expect big things from Newton. 

WATCH FOR:

Isabel Huntington (forward)

The 2017 number one draft pick will hope for a clean run through injury this season, having not played a full season on the AFL Women’s stage since being drafted. Her clean hands and contested marking ability will be sought after across the field alongside her goalkicking accuracy, and with the versatility to move through the midfield when required, Huntington will hope to prove she still has the talent to back up her exceptional top-age year.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Carlton, Collingwood, Fremantle, Melbourne, St Kilda, West Coast Eagles.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – @ St Kilda
Round 2 – vs. Melbourne
Round 3 – vs. Carlton
Round 4 – @ West Coast Eagles
Round 5 – @ Collingwood
Round 6 – vs. Fremantle
Round 7 – @ North Melbourne
Round 8 – vs. GWS GIANTS

The Bulldogs have an interesting draw this season, with a smattering of predicted high-ladder sides but ultimately plenty of chances to excel and put their best foot forward. An opening round victory against expansion side, St Kilda will be key for the season to get off to a good start with two interesting matches against quality opposition in Melbourne and Carlton coming next, before facing West Coast Eagles in Perth – something they will hope not to throw a spanner in the works. With further matches coming against quality sides in Fremantle and North Melbourne, the Bulldogs will need to take advantage of every winning opportunity.

PREDICTION: 3rd/4th in Conference B

With plenty of young talent in the side expect some strong performances but perhaps some consistency issues with lots of new faces at the club. While a number of 2019 draftees come into the side having played together in the past, the real test will be against the experience of other clubs in the conference. They should not be discounted however, with plenty of familiar faces gracing the field in 2020. This season will ultimately be a rebuilding phase for the Bulldogs after so many key departures following the 2019 season.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Western Bulldogs

AFTER claiming a maiden AFL Women’s premiership in 2018 and looking impressive from the get-go in 2019, the Western Bulldogs fell away in the second half of the 2019 season to finish wooden spooners in Conference A. There was far from any shame in that, because had they been in the other conference, chances are they would have played finals, but it is what it is and the Dogs missed out on finals in 2019.

The AFL Women’s most active team over the off-season – which is saying something considering there are four expansion sides – the Western Bulldogs had eight players walk out the door to other clubs, and made three further changes with Hayley Wildes the sole retiree. Of the 2019 departures, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti would sting the most, with both genuine top 10 players in the competition, but now will don the yellow and black in season 2020. It leaves the Western Bulldogs with one elite established talent in Ellie Blackburn, but unlike a lot of sides, the Dogs have plenty of next tier talent either ready to break into that elite group, or sub-elite group.

Given the departures over the off-season, the Bulldogs headed into the draft with eight selections having only brought in Melbourne’s Ashleigh Guest as part of a trade that saw reliable defender, Libby Birch off to the Demons. With four selections in the top 10, and a new coach in Nathan Burke at the helm, AFL Women’s Draft Day was always going to be an optimistic one. The recruiting team leaned on Vic Metro Under-18 coach Burke, with the seven selections taken on the day coming from his Metro squad. It not only meant the chemistry between coach and players would already be established, but the team cohesion would also be impressive.

Gabby Newton was picked out as the first selection in the draft and can play any role across the ground, but will likely start in the middle. She could be joined by Northern Knights teammate, Britney Gutknecht in there, while Western Jets’ Elisabeth Georgostathis has the versatility to play anywhere, particularly in that back half. Gemma Lagioia and South Adelaide’s Hannah Munyard – the latter of whom was taken post-draft after the Bulldogs passed and the Crows opted not to select her – running down the ground will be a sight to see for Dogs fans. The Bulldogs also addressed the fact they lost some talent inside 50, with father-daughter selection Isabella Grant and Nell Morris-Dalton providing an aerial presence, as well as ground support in the form of Amelia van Oosterwijck.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Ashleigh Guest (Melbourne), Katy Herron (rookie – Gaelic), Danielle Marshall (rookie – soccer), Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton, Britney Gutknecht (Northern Knights), Gemma Laioia, Amelia van Oosterwijck (Oakleigh Chargers), Elisabeth Georgostathis, Isabella Grant (Western Jets), Hannah Munyard (South Adelaide).
OUT: Katie Brennan, Monique Conti (Richmond), Selena Karlson, Emma Mackie (St Kilda), Tiarna Ernst (Gold Coast), Belinda Smith, Kate Bartlett (West Coast), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Tessa Boyd, Jesse Davies (delisted), Hayley Wildes (retired).

2020 TEAM LIST:

Deanna Berry
Ellie Blackburn
Eleanor Brown
Nicole Callinan
Naomi Ferres
Ellyse Gamble
Elisabeth Georgostathis
Angelica Gogos
Isabella Grant
Ashleigh Guest
Britney Gutknecht
Bailey Hunt
Isabel Huntington
Gemma Lagioia
Kirsty Lamb
Brooke Lochland
Aisling McCarthy
Kirsten McLeod
Celine Moody
Nell Morris-Dalton
Hannah Munyard
Gabby Newton
Kim Rennie
Hannah Scott
Lauren Spark
Bonnie Toogood
Aisling Utri
Amelia van Oosterwijck
Rookies: Katy Herron, Danielle Marshall

POTENTIAL SIDE:

B: Nicole Callinan – Hannah Scott – Ashleigh Guest
HB: Eleanor Brown – Lauren Spark – Elisabeth Georgostathis
C: Gabby Newton
HF: Bonnie Toogood – Isabel Huntington – Aisling Utri
F: Aisling McCarthy – Isabella Grant – Brooke Lochland
R: Kim Rennie – Ellie Blackburn – Kirsty Lamb
INT: Angelica Gogos – Nell Morris-Dalton – Gemma Lagioia – Naomi Ferres – Britney Gutknecht
EMG: Deanna Berry, Hannah Munyard, Celine Moody

DEPTH: Kirsten McLeod, Amelia van Oosterwijck, Bailey Hunt, Ellyse Gamble, Katy Herron*, Danielle Marshall*

Trying to work out a best 21 for the Western Bulldogs in season 2020 is near impossible, with so many fresh faces coming into the side. It will be a challenge for Burke to balance experience with youth, given that naturally the youth coming through are more developed than their predecessors and could have a greater impact sooner. But the balance is there to ensure that they are not complete pups, and that there are experienced heads guiding the team. Of the new recruits, Ashleigh Guest could fill a role in defence, with the Dogs’ back six going to be interesting outside of Hannah Scott, Lauren Spark and Nicole Callinan, with Burke possibly looking to adopt a running game, which means Eleanor Brown, Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia could rotate through there, with all of them easily in that best 21. Gabby Newton should play from Round 1 with Knights’ teammate Britney Gutknecht also in the running, as could Isabella Grant and Nell Morris-Dalton, but the forward line structure will be one for the Bulldogs to try and work out given the depth of both talls and smalls up that end. Of the draftees to miss out at this stage, it was the later selections of Amelia Van Oosterwijck and Hannah Munyard, though all two could come in and play a role, with Munyard having tasted senior football, while van Oosterwjck is more of a long-term prospect, but a real goer inside 50. Of the five experienced Dogs we left out – Deanna Berry, Ellyse Gamble, Bailey Hunt, Celine Moody and Kirsten McLeod – Moody is one who could play depending if the Dogs opt for a second ruck with Kim Rennie, Berry is a player who could be in the starting line-up on talent, it is just finding that consistency, while McLeod played six games last season, but with the influx of talent coming in, will be competing for a pot. Hunt and Gamble were on the fringes last season but still managed the three games.

Lesosky-Hay blessed for the opportunities

BY her own admission, Luka Lesosky-Hay has felt very lucky. The balanced midfielder has followed the women’s football pathway at the right time, moving through the system as it continually grew, picking up a premiership with the Geelong Falcons, earning Vic Country representation, and playing Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) for the Geelong Cats. Now Lesosky-Hay hopes she has another chapter to add at the AFL Women’s Draft.

“I started playing when I was eight-years-old,” Lesosky-Hay said. “In my hometown in Aireys (Inlet) there was a team and I was friends with lots of the boys when I was younger, so I sort of just wanted to play. “I guess I’ve sort of kept going and was playing with the boys for a while and while I’d been playing the women’s footy kept developing and I was lucky enough to get picked up by Falcons really early on and stay with them for the last three years. “Then get to do Vic Country and then with the VFL and as I said, I feel like it’s just kept progressing as I’ve been playing so I’ve been really lucky to keep going through it all.”

Her NAB League Girls season where she averaged 19.5 disposals, 2.2 marks, 2.5 inside 50s and 5.0 tackles from 10 games saw the top-age player earn a Vic Country spot to travel up to the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

“It was massive because I really, really wanted it and I was super happy to get to go up to Queensland was pretty awesome,” Lesosky-Hay said. “It was also a big wake up as to how high the standard is. “I’d been playing in NAB League which is obviously a high standard but then taking it to the next level and seeing how many really, really good players there were was pretty awesome and eye-opening.”

Upon return, Lesosky-Hay also got a taste of senior football, running out for the Cats on three occasions, showing her defensive pressure with an averaged of 5.7 tackles per game to accompany her 8.7 disposals. She said it was very different to playing at Under 18s level.

“Bigger bodies, so it was also really nerve-wracking starting it all,” Lesosky-Hay said. “But they were super supportive and it was a different style of game I feel like, but also more exciting again because it’s taking it to another level where you take it against people who have been playing for even longer or who are bigger than you and so you had to really step up and I think that was really cool.”

Her season across the multiple competitions earned her enough interest from recruiters for a National Draft Combine invitation, something she said she was surprised with, not that being surprised was surprising anymore with the opportunities that were presented to her throughout her career.

“Pretty amazing,” Lesosky-Hay said of the combine invitation. “I mean I sort of with everything I keep getting really surprised and grateful for the new opportunities and this sort of stuff and I’m hoping to get the most out of this week as I can, and it’s also awesome seeing everyone from nationals again and it’s really cool.”

Lesosky-Hay has always been a dedicated worker and is determined to continue building her strengths, and improving the deficiencies in her game.

“I’m quite strong in one-on-ones contest as I play inside mid a lot,” she said. “My strength over the ball and clean hands when I’m picking it up and when I get my opportunity, my kick is generally pretty accurate and long. “I want to keep improving on my confidence and knowing how much time and space I have so I can take the game on a little bit more and also building on my repeat running and get as fit as I possibly can and keep going.”

Having had brief chats with various recruiters throughout her time, Lesosky-Hay admitted there were no guarantees when it came to the draft, and it prompted her to nominate all of Victoria for the upcoming AFL Women’s Draft, rather than just Geelong.

“They (recruiters) basically all have to say is that they can’t say anything for sure because it’s such a crazy thing on the day as well with people getting picked from everywhere, so you can’t really know at all,” Lesosky-Hay said. “I went for Vic because I personally want to come up to Melbourne as well and leave down from home as well so I thought I’d give myself the best opportunity as well to have a wider spectrum of clubs to be able to look at me. “So I went all of Victoria.”

It is not just an on-field decision to potentially move to Melbourne, but one for her future career.

“I’d love to do uni up there (in Melbourne),” Lesosky-Hay said. “Probably not straight away, but I want to study art and lots of really great art schools are in Melbourne, so if I do study it I will definitely be coming up to Melbourne.”

Lesosky-Hay said she had plenty of role models over the journey, and while many have those who have forged the path to the AFL Women’s competition, the Geelong midfielder said it was anyone involved in her journey.

“I guess it’s been hard because at the start when I was playing there wasn’t really women football players, so I guess I looked up to my teammates and now again with role models coming up,” she said. “I love the game style of people like Ellie Blackburn who I’ve watched the last few years. “But to be honest my role models have been the people around me as we’ve all been going through it and experiencing it as it comes.”

VFLW Preview: Round 16 – Fight to finals

IN the final round of the VFL Women’s home and away season Collingwood Magpies will look to regain top spot while the Southern Saints will be hoping to maintain their hot form heading into finals. Up the other end of the ladder, Williamstown and Carlton will be hoping to end their season on a high with one last win on the board.

ESSENDON v. WILLIAMSTOWN

Round 16 – 24/8/19
11:00
Windy Hill

Coming off a surprise win last week against the ladder leaders, Essendon will be looking to build on their form and notch up their sixth win of the season. The Bombers have had a relatively up and down season showing glimpses of brilliance but have been unable to do so consistently. Young gun Georgia Patrikios has been a revelation for the side with her ball winning ability, explosiveness and skill across the ground while Georgia Nanscawen has been crucial for the side. If the Bombers can pull out a similar performance to last week it will go a long way in getting them across the line against a desperate Williamstown outfit. Although they are sitting at the bottom of the ladder and have suffered plenty of big losses throughout the season the Seagulls will be wanting to end their year on a high. Emily Gardner has shown that she can hit the scoreboard making her a valuable asset if she is named while Sharnie Whiting is not afraid to go in hard at the contest.

HAWTHORN v. COLLINGWOOD

Round 16 – 24/8/19
11:30
Box Hill City Oval

After suffering their first loss since Round 1 the Magpies will be wanting to get back on the winners list ahead of their finals campaign. They have been the in form team of the competition thanks to their strong structures, clever game play and talented list so expect them to come out all guns blazing in hope to reclaim top spot. Jaimee Lambert has proven to be a sharp shooter for the Magpies line-up, leading the goal kicking tally with 20 goals for the season and will be a welcomed addition into the side if named this week to take on the Hawks. Stacey Livingstone and Brit Bonnici have also made their way back into the side for the final round of the season with their strength and leadership a key aspect of the Pies’ game plan. If the Hawks win they could climb up the ladder and really assert themselves on the competition with the likes of Phoebe McWilliams (named as emergency however) and Rebecca Beeson steering the ship. If both are able to break free against the Magpies they could pose a dominant threat given their ability to hit the scoreboard and win plenty of ball.

DAREBIN v. WESTERN BULLDOGS

Round 16 – 24/8/19
12:00
La Trobe University, Bundoora

After a relatively lacklustre season the Darebin Falcons will be hoping to go out with a bang whereas the Bulldogs will be wanting to iron out all the creases ahead of finals. The Falcons have pushed teams to their limit this season, contesting hard and putting up a strong fight but their inability to put out a four quarter performance has been their Achilles heel. Lauren Arnell has been a handy player for the Falcons and will be wanting to have her usual impact on the game in the final round of the season. Annalyse Lister and Reni Hicks have both been major ball winners for Darebin and if left unattended could pose a dominant threat for the finals-bound Dogs. The Western Bulldogs have shown that they have plenty of game changers but will need to overcome the losses of Ellie Blackburn and Brooke Lochland in order to find victory. The addition of youngsters Elisabeth Georgostathis and Ella Wood has also paid dividends for the side which will be hoping to maintain third spot on the ladder with a win against the 11th placed Falcons.

SOUTHERN SAINTS v. RICHMOND

Round 16 – 24/8/19
12:00
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The Southern Saints have gone from strength to strength throughout the season, only losing the two games for the year. The Saints currently sit in top spot while the Tigers are hot on their tail in fourth making for an exciting and intense battle. Both sides have plenty of star power and will want to hit their straps heading into the finals in hope to claim the coveted premiership. After coming off a disappointing loss last round the Tigers will be hoping to rectify their issues across the ground and impose themselves as competition front-runners. Tayla Stahl has been a focal point in the Tigers forward line giving her accuracy in front of goal and ability to bring ball down with 17 goals for the season while Sabrina Frederick has had a hot and cold season with only a number of games under her belt but definitely can turn a game on its head. Monique Conti has been a real ball magnet for Richmond but could be rivalled by Saints star Alison Drennan who has had the ball on a string in the past couple of games. Up forward, Kate McCarthy and Molly McDonald could create havoc for the Tigers defenders given their ability to hit the scoreboard and take strong contested marks.

GEELONG v. CARLTON

Round 16 – 24/8/19
1:45
GMHBA Stadium

Geelong have plenty to play for with ladder position and finals up the grabs. The Cats put out an impressive performance last round to keep their opponents to one goal while showcasing their ability to hit the scoreboard. With a home ground advantage the Cats will be hoping to put together a strong performance and notch up another win ahead of finals. Rene Caris was crucial last round finding both the goals and ball with ease making her a huge asset heading into this round against Carlton. Richelle Cranston and Amy McDonald have both proven that they can tear games open with their ball winning abilities for the Cats. Although the Blues have not had the season they would have wanted, only managing three wins, they will be wanting to end on a positive note. A hard fought win last round will fill them with some confidence heading into the clash with Katie Loynes and Abbie McKay coming off match winning performances. Lauren Brazzale and Jess Hosking could both play a big role in the match if named credit to their strength and general football nous.

MELBOURNE UNI v. NT Thunder

Round 16 – 25/8/19
12:00
Ardern Street, North Melbourne

In a disappointing season for the Thunder they will be wanting to go out with a bang while Melbourne Uni will be fighting to claim ascendancy heading into finals. The Mugars are fresh off the bye but on the other hand Thunder are coming off a big loss last round unable to get their clever ball movement and game style up and running. With a week off expect Jasmine Garner and Katie Angelis to be hungry for ball in front of goal with both players proving they know how to score sitting third and fourth respectively on the goal kicking tally. If Jenna Bruton and Emma Kearney can find plenty of ball for Melbourne Uni it will go a long way in helping to set their side up for a victory given their class and vision with ball in hand. Thunder speedster Danielle Ponter has showcased her class and goal smarts in recent weeks and will want to encapsulate that form in the final round while Lisa Roberts has led the way in regards to disposals.

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

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

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

GOALS

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

BEST

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

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

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

GOALS

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

BEST

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

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

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

GOALS

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

BEST

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

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

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

GOALS

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

BEST

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

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

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

GOALS

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

BEST

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

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

VFLW wrap: Round 11 – Richmond drops three on the trot and Casey victory

ROUND 11 of the VFL Women’s saw Casey Demons finally break an eight match losing streak with an impressive win over NT Thunder, while Richmond’s current losing streak extended with a third loss in a row. Meanwhile, Collingwood remain at the top of the ladder after a narrow win against Melbourne Uni and Southern Saints continue to stake a claim on the competition after another confident victory.

ESSENDON 1.5 | 2.7 | 2.9 | 4.10 (34)
DAREBIN 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 4.2 (26)

GOALS

Essendon: C. McIntosh 2, L. Stepnell, M. Collier.
Darebin: L. Arnell 2, J. D’Amato, S. Simpson.

BEST

Essendon: L. Ahrens, M. Warburton, G. Nanscawen, K. Hicks, S. Audley, E. Hosking
Darebin: L. Arnell, B. Patterson, V. Blackwood, A. Lister, E. Gardner, E. O’Dea

It was a frustrating win for Essendon, who despite getting a third win had clear issues getting on the board. However defensively the side was strong enough to keep Darebin out of the contest, leading to an eight point victory won only by the side’s 10 behinds. While Darebin will be happy with their comeback effort to get back into the contest, their slow start left something to be desired with only one point scored in the first. For Essendon, Georgia Nanscawen was impressive with 21 disposals and eight tackles, while Lauren Ahrens (20 disposals, five marks, seven tackles) and Cecilia McIntosh (two goals) were equally important in the victory. Darebin’s Lauren Pearce put in the hard yards in the ruck with 33 hitouts while Elise O’Dea was solid around the ground with 19 touches. Reni Hicks (13 touches, 13 tackles) and Annalyse Lister (16 touches, 12 tackles) impressed with their defensive tackling pressure, while Lauren Arnell‘s two goals kept the Falcons right in the contest.

COLLINGWOOD 2.0 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 6.4 (40)
MELBOURNE UNI 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS

Collingwood: S. Alexander 2, A. Bild , K. Lee, K. Lynch, S. Chiocci.
Melbourne Uni: A. Riddell, K. Cox, K. Gillespie-Jones, S. Abbatangelo, E. King.

BEST

Collingwood: C. Molloy, G. Buchan, K. Lynch, S. Livingstone, M. Shevlin, S. Chiocci
Melbourne Uni: J. Trend, A. Riddell, J. Bruton, K. Ebb, K. Gillespie-Jones

It was a close contest between the two high-ranking sides on the weekend, with Collingwood prevailing to win by four points after a second half comeback from the Mugars. The first quarter saw Uni sit three points ahead before a goalless second term gave the Magpies a push to lead and dominate every contest. While Uni put in the hard yards defensively in the third to deny the Pies a goal, they still trailed by five heading into the final term. With both teams putting two goals on the board in the last it seemed like Uni had the ability to get the job done, however the Magpies held on well. Uni’s Ashleigh Riddell, Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton were solid across the field collecting plenty of ball and amassing a combined 76 disposals and 22 tackles while Riddell also got a goal on the board. Kate Gillespie-Jones had a quiet game compared to her usual lofty standards given the shared effort across the field, collecting 15 touches, 12 tackles and a goal, able to settle with the rest of the side contributing well. For the Magpies, Steph Chiocci lead the charge with 23 touches and a goal to her name, while Sophie Alexander booted two for the second week in a row and Grace Buchan racked up eight tackles from 10 touches.

NT THUNDER 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)
CASEY DEMONS 3.3 | 7.5 | 9.7 | 13.7 (85)

GOALS

NT Thunder: A. Hatchard 2, S. Thompson.
Casey: D. Wearne 3, E. Zanker 3, K. Hore 2, C. Sherriff, B. Jakobsson, H. Cordner, N. Webber, G. Howes.

BEST

NT Thunder: A. Hatchard, L. Jeffrey, D. Cox, K. Duggan, L. Roberts, K. Streader
Casey: T. Hanks, K. Smith, R. Clayton, H. Bailey, S. Heath

Casey Demons finally got a win back on the board for the season, getting a convincing 65 point victory over Thunder. It was a massive four goal second and final quarter effort that got the side over the line, with Thunder unable to take control of any aspect of the match as the Demons ran rampant across the field. The Demons had plenty of ball from the get-go, sharing around possession and finding options with ease to head downfield. For the home side, Anne Hatchard was her usual impressive self with 31 disposals, 10 marks, eight tackles and two goals as arguably Thunder’s best, leading most of the side’s stats. Jordann Hickey and Lisa Roberts combined for 27 touches, five marks and 12 tackles in an altogether lack lustre performance by Thunder. For Casey, Eden Zanker (20 disposals, eight marks) and Danielle Wearne (nine disposals) kicked three goals apiece, aided by Kate Hore‘s two goals and singles to five other players. Libby Birch (22 disposals, eight marks, three tackles) and Lily Mithen (21 disposals, five marks, three tackles) shared plenty of the ball.

CARLTON 2.2 | 3.4 | 4.5 | 9.5 (59)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.2 (26)

GOALS

Carlton: J. Hosking 3, C. Dalton 2, B. Gurr, M. Prespakis, S. Cubasch, N. Stevens.
Williamstown: S. Whiting, M. Hope, J. Kawa, G. Anderson.

BEST

Carlton: S. Wright, S. Hosking, A. Prins, E. Woods, N. Plane, J. Nelson
Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, E. Straford, R. Tripodi, I. Porter, A. Melnikas

Carlton finally got their second win on the board after weeks of close margins, securing a solid 33 point victory over the Seagulls. It was a confident start and finish for the Blues, who started well with two goals to nil on the board in the first before running away with it in the last quarter with five goals to one to secure the win. The Seagulls will be rueing missed opportunities, while their defensive efforts left something to be desired as the Blues took control and did not look back. Jess Hosking (11 disposals, four tackles, three goals) and Chloe Dalton (16 disposals, four marks, two goals) impressed for the Blues, while the likes of Nicola Stevens (19 disposals, five marks, four tackles, one goal) and Maddy Prespakis (13 disposals, six tackles, one goal) held up well against the Seagulls. For Williamstown, Danica Pederson (17 disposals, six marks, six tackles) stuck it out, while Sharnie Whiting and Mo Hope combined for 35 disposals and kicked a goal apiece.

HAWTHORN 2.1 | 4.4 | 6.6 | 7.9 (51)
RICHMOND 2.0 | 2.0 | 4.2 | 6.2 (38)

GOALS

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 4, R. Dillon 2, S. Perkins.
Richmond: S. Frederick 2, C. Wakefield, A. Makur Chuot, G. Egan, G. Seymour.

BEST

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams, R. Beeson, R. Dillon, C. Dyett, G. Bevan, S. Perkins
Richmond: S. Frederick, R. Miller, G. Egan, G. Campbell, M. Brancatisano, G. Seymour

While Hawthorn got another big win on the board, it was a different story for Richmond who look a completely different side to their early season form. While it was an even contest through the first quarter, Hawthorn took control in the second and refused to let it go. They maintained their lead through the middle of the match before winning by 13 points despite a final quarter fight back from the Tigers. The Tigers are fortunate to still sit high on the ladder, with three losses in a row keeping them in third on the ladder based on percentage alone. Bec Beeson collected 35 touches, six marks and six tackles while Phoebe McWilliams was a dominant target with four goals from 17 disposals and five marks while Rosie Dillon had 19 disposals, seven tackles and two goals. Sabrina Frederick kicked two goals from 12 touches in her third match in yellow and black while Grace Egan (17 disposals, six marks, one goal) and Grace Campbell (16 disposals, 10 tackles) also made their mark on the game.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.1 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 5.6 (36)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

GOALS

Southern Saints: C. Greiser 3, T. Bohanna, A. Brown.
Western Bulldogs: M. Ward, C. Moody, E. Blackburn.

BEST

Southern Saints: C. Greiser, S. Johnson, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, C. Fitzpatrick, R. Watt
Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod, B. Hunt, K. Lamb, N. Ferres, V. Laloifi, M. Ward

The Bulldogs will be rueing a missed opportunity to jump into third with this loss, going down to premiership contenders, Southern Saints by 15 points after a slow start all but gifted the Saints an easy victory. The Saints were clinical from the start, much cleaner with the ball than their opposition to deny them easy ball and keep the Dogs off the board in the first. Despite not being able to drag out the margin, the Saints kept drilling the ball forward to stay in the lead and hold on for an all important win heading into the final stretch. For the Dogs, Kirsty Lamb (24 disposals, five marks, seven tackles) and Ellie Blackburn (20 disposals, one goal) were among the best on field while Celine Moody held her own in the ruck with 17 hitouts and a goal. For the Saints, Tilly Lucas-Rodd was up to her usual tricks collecting 24 disposals and three marks, closely followed by Allison Drennan with 19 disposals and seven tackles while Caitlin Greiser kicked three goals from 14 touches.