Tag: ellie gavalas

Pies last quarter flurry steals victory after Roos mid-match turnaround

COLLINGWOOD has survived an epic qualifying final at Victoria Park, defeating North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos by just six points to advance through to record its first ever finals victory. Twelve months ago these sides went hammer and tongs at each other for four quarters with the Roos getting up in a thriller at Ikon Park, but fast forward 12 months and it was the black and whites – in front of fans at the Magpies’ spiritual home – that saluted, 7.8 (50) to 7.2 (44). The match had a case for one of the games of the season considering the stakes and the topsy-turvy nature. The Magpies took the early ascendancy, then the Roos looked to run away with it, kicking five consecutive goals – and six of seven – only for Collingwood to storm home in the final term and boot the last three goals of the match to record the most memorable of wins and advance through to next week’s preliminary final against Brisbane.

Key forward Sophie Alexander got the home team up and about early with a goal in the third minute, only for former Pie, Jasmine Garner to counter that with a major of her own five minutes later. It already meant the Roos had more goals on the board than their last match against the Magpies when they could only manage eight behinds in a disappointing loss at Etihad Stadium. Soon Chloe Molloy made her impact known with Collingwood’s second, and by the time Jaimee Lambert hit the scoreboard, the margin was out to 14 points and the crowd was excited. Both these teams were backing themselves to run and move the ball quickly, turning defence into offence. A couple of early behinds for the Magpies in the second term was punished by the Roos through Beth Lynch and Sophie Abbatangelo in the space of 90 seconds, cutting the deficit to just three points at the main break.

Whilst the half-time break might have been long enough for teams to reset, for North Melbourne it was just rolling on from the second term, as Abbatangelo kicked her second within 90 seconds, and the Roos were in front for the first time in the match. Lynch converted a second to match her teammate with a clever snap following a free kick, and then Ash Riddell made Sharni Norder pay following an error through pressure with the tackle, as the tightest of set shots proving no problem for the pocket rocket. With Riddell’s goal, it meant the Roos had slotted five consecutive goals in effectively 20 minutes and were out to a 13-point lead with just a few minutes remaining in the third term. Creating something out of nothing, Alexander got boot to ball in a stoppage off a Molloy kick forward, but no sooner had she cut the deficit to seven points, it was back out to 14. Emma King let the home team off with a missed shot 25m out straight in front, but Daria Bannister was not going to make any mistake from point blank range when she crumbed the ball off a pack in the goalsquare.

The largest margin of the game was 14 points, with the Kangaroos now holding a firm advantage in the match and had one foot in the preliminary final. The Magpies needed something, and it came off the boot of Kristy Stratton, who slotted a crucial major less than four minutes into the match. Molloy missed a chance on goal on the run, but the Magpies were trying to play on at every chance, whilst the Roos were trying to control the tempo with possession football. What no one expected was for Molloy to dig deeper than even she had before, pulling out a trick that was unbelievable, snapping quickly under pressure and a right angle bounce that went over the head of the last Roos defender to bounce home and cut the deficit to just one point with 10 minutes to play. North Melbourne rushed it to the Roos’ end, but the Collingwood defence was up to the task and instead got the visitors on transition, booting it to Molloy inside 50, and her presence forced two Roos to spoil, and fortunately for the Magpies, the second black and white player was Tarni Brown who crumbed the ball and ran into an open goal to slam home a major and put her team in front.

After hilariously snapping a goal up the wrong end earlier in the match, Brown made sure she was headed to the right end when she crumbed it cleanly, ran into the open goal and put her side five points up. Alexander had a chance to make it a double-digit lead but missed with a couple of minutes left, making some wonder if the six-point difference might result in a draw. Luckily for the timekeepers it did not, as the Magpies desperately held on despite the Roos’ efforts to move the ball quickly, and Collingwood enjoyed its first finals win, and at Victoria Park to advance through to the preliminary final against Brisbane next week at the Gabba.

Brianna Davey had a ridiculous game, with 31 disposals, four marks and nine tackles, a clear best afield in the match. Despite a quiet first three quarters, Brittany Bonnici worked into the game in the final term with some great one-on-one contests to finish with 16 disposals and three marks, whilst Lambert shook off a knock in the third quarter to return to the field in the final term and end the game with 15 touches, two marks, three tackles and a goal herself. The usually-accurate Aisling Sheridan booted three behinds from 13 disposals and seven marks, whilst Stacey Livingstone (13 disposals, three marks and two tackles) and Ruby Schleicher (11 disposals, three marks) were steady as always in defence. Brown (12 disposals, three tackles), Ash Brazill (11 disposals, two marks and two behinds) and Alexander (10 disposals, three marks and two goals) were amongst the best for the winners.

Riddell was the standout Roo with 22 touches, three marks, three tackles and a goal, as her partners-in-crime, Emma Kearney (19 disposals, three marks and three tackles), Kaitlyn Ashmore (17 disposals, two marks and two tackles) and Jenna Bruton (13 disposals, three marks ad three tackles) were all busy. Garner (16 disposals, five marks, nine tackles and a goal) was right up there with Riddell, having an enormous impact on the game, whilst Ellie Gavalas (11 disposals, four marks and three tackles) and Vivian Saad (11 disposals, two mark s and seven tackles) brought the heat around the ball. Unfortunately for North Melbourne though, the loss meant the end of 2021, and the Roos will begin the planning for 2022.

COLLINGWOOD 3.2 | 3.4 | 4.6 | 7.8 (50)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0 | 3.1 | 7.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. Alexander 2, C. Molloy 2, J. Lambert, K. Stratton, T. Brown.
North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo 2, B. Lynch 2, J. Garner, A. Riddell, D. Bannister.

DC BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, C. Molloy, S. Livingstone, R. Schleicher, J. Lambert
North Melbourne: A. Riddell, J. Garner, E. Kearney. K. Ashmore, J. Bruton

Picture credit: Getty Images

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: GIANTS strike early to hold off Saints in wet

GWS GIANTS have picked up an important victory on the road, downing St Kilda Saints by 20 points in a traditional wet weather match at RSEA Park. Despite being a mid-afternoon fixture, both sides soon found the going tough with heavy rain impacting the match and drenching not only the players, but the supporters in the almost exclusively outdoor viewing venue. By the time the final siren sounded for everyone to dry off, the GIANTS had got the job done, 7.3 (45) to 3.7 (25).

Coming back into the line-up Rebecca Privitelli made her presence felt with a goal in the opening three minutes with a clever snap to get the visitors on the board. Soon it was new recruit Katherine Smith who doubled the margin, before Cora Staunton, and then Privitelli with her second piling on the pain for the home team at Moorabbin and making the quarter time margin a massive 23 points. The Saints were held goalless in the opening term, and it would not be until Kate Shierlaw struck in the third minute of the second quarter before the home crowd had something to cheer about. Back-to-back behinds to Molly McDonald, and then Jacqueline Vogt‘s miss left some wondering if they might rue the misses, though the conditions were not making it easy on the players. When Darcy Guttridge finally put one through the big sticks at the 11-minute mark, followed by a late Tamara Luke behind, the Saints had clawed their way back to a five-point deficit at the main break.

The third term was an arm-wrestle as neither side could get on the board in the first half of the quarter, and it took some Staunton class in the wet for the GIANTS to gain some much needed breathing space. Then inclusion Privitelli booted her third, and the pair had five of the six goals for the GIANTS, and the lead was back out to 20 points at the final break. When Staunton matched Privitelli with her third major of the contest two minutes into the final term, the game was effectively done and dusted, and the GIANTS were out to a match-high 26-point lead. The final score of the match was a late goal to Caitlin Greiser who slotted one to cut the final deficit to 20 points, but it would be the orange and charcoal visitors who would be making a Big Sound from Tullamarine back to western Sydney.

The wet made it challenging for disposal efficiency, with the GIANTS able to win more of the ball with a plus-28 in that category, and despite having two less inside 50s (23-25) won the rebound 50s count comfortably (22-15). They also dominated the contested possessions (120-86) and won the uncontested possessions as well (80-63), taking five contested marks of 24 to the Saints’ one of 14. To the Saints credit, the home side dominated the tackle count wit ha. whopping 103 tackles to 46, which ensured the GIANTS did not have many easy exits.

Alyce Parker and Georgia Patrikios thrived in the wet for their respective sides, as Parker racked up 28 touches, six marks and four tackles, while Patrikios was not far behind with 27 disposals, one mark and 10 tackles. Catherine Phillips laid a huge 12 tackles to go with her 15 disposals for the Saints, while Alice Burke also hit double-figure tackles with 10, the same amount as her disposals, as did Tyanna Smith (a match-high 14 tackles for nine disposals. Jayde Van Dyk (14 disposals) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (11 disposals, six tackles) also impressed, while for the GIANTS, Rebecca Beeson (18 disposals, two marks and six tackles), Jess Dal Pos (15 disposals, two tackles), Britt Tully (14 disposals, two tackles) and Tarni Evans (11 disposals, two marks) all found plenty of it. The combined six goals of Privitelli and Staunton proved crucial for the GIANTS in wet conditions, with the pair also combining for 21 disposals and six tackles in the win.

ST KILDA 0.1 | 2.7 | 2.7 | 3.7 (25)
GWS GIANTS 4.0 | 4.0 | 6.3 | 7.3 (45)

GOALS:

St Kilda: K. Shierlaw, D. Guttridge, C. Greiser
GWS: C. Staunton 3, R. Privitelli 3, K. Smith.

DC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, T. White, T. Smith, K. Shierlaw
GWS: A. Parker, R. Privitelli, C. Staunton, R. Beeson, B. Tully

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Steve Bell/Getty Images via AFL Photos

ROOS HOLD OFF BULLISH DOGS

By: Michael Alvaro

NORTH Melbourne held off a determined Western Bulldogs outfit on Saturday, earning an 11-point victory at North Hobart Oval to strengthen its spot in the top six. The Roos skipped away to a three-goal buffer at quarter time and while they led at every break, were challenged in the final term as the Bulldogs pressured with five scoring shots to nil, but ultimately came up short in the 5.7 (37) to 3.8 (26) result.

The young pups were made to rue early lapses and a lack of killer instinct once the game was on their terms, seeing North Melbourne hop to an unassailable lead before holding out despite a scoreless final stanza. It means the Bulldogs have it all to do in the final couple of home-and-away rounds, currently sitting a game and percentage outside of the top six and with a couple of teams breathing down their necks.

Superstar Roos Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner again showed their class to lead North to victory, with the former booting a couple of clutch goals in the process. The latter, meanwhile, led all comers with 28 disposals. Ash Riddell was another of the midfield brigade to snare a major, while Ellie Gavalas proved productive playing in her home state and Jess Duffin had her best outing since returning in Round 5.

Spearhead Izzy Huntington returned to scoring form with two of the Bulldogs’ three goals, as partner-in-crime Bonnie Toogood snared the other. It was no surprise to see skipper Ellie Blackburn and the hardened Kirtsy Lamb top their side’s disposal charts once again, proving reliable figures in midfield. Speedy forward Kirsten McLeod suffered a head knock late in the piece and did not play any further part in the match.

Both sides will prepare to take on top six opposition in Round 8. North faces a slightly shorter turnaround for its next match as Brisbane awaits at the Gabba on Saturday, while the Western Bulldogs are also set to travel to take on Adelaide at Norwood Oval on Sunday.

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 | 4.2 | 5.7 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.4 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: E. Kearney 2, D.Bateman, E. King, A. Riddell.
Western Bulldogs: I. Huntington 2, B. Toogood.

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, J. Duffin
Western Bulldogs: K. Lamb, E. Blackburn, I. Huntington, B. Toogood

Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES TURN UP THE HEAT TO CLIP CROWS

By: Michael Alvaro

MELBOURNE consolidated its top six status with a stirring 28-point win over fellow contender, Adelaide at Casey Fields on Saturday night. In damp conditions on their home patch, the Demons turned up the heat with a terrific pressure game and discipline in their structure to down the star-studded Crows 6.7 (43) to 2.3 (15).

Adelaide was essentially beaten at its own game, unable to get on top in midfield and being strangled up forward with two goalless quarters. Meanwhile, Melbourne led at every break and continually applied scoreboard pressure to earn a victory which does wonders for its finals hopes with just a fortnight left in the home-and-away season.

Young midfielder Tyla Hanks was at the core of her side’s triumph, bossing the engine room with a game-high 25 disposals to go with four marks, five tackles, and one goal. The likes of Lily Mithen and Karen Paxman also ticked over 20 touches, while Kate Hore‘s forward nous was good for three important goals, and Eden Zanker proved lively with four marks and a major.

Ebony Marinoff led the Crows disposal count with 24, aided as usual by Anne Hatchard through midfield. Sarah Allan was kept busy in defence along with Angela Foley, while champion Crows Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall did their best to create some sort of spark moving forward. While the latter booted a goal, the Phillips finished without one for the first time in 2021.

The Crows will look to regroup and rebound with another tricky test against the Western Bulldogs in Round 8, while Melbourne faces another massive test in the form of Fremantle. Both sides are set to play on Sunday evening.

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 3, E. Zanker, T. Hanks, L. Pearce.
Adelaide: C. Randall, R. Martin.

DC BEST:

Melbourne: T. Hanks, K. Hore, K. Paxman, L. Mithen, E. Zanker, M. Gay
Adelaide: E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Hatchard, C. Randall E. Phillips, A. Foley

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 4 preview – Victorian crowds return for blockbuster fixtures

RETURNING crowds are set to light up some blockbuster fixtures in Round 4 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season, with four top-six foes locking horns while inaugural sides Melbourne and Western Bulldogs play off for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup. The ladder is beginning to take shape with four teams remaining undefeated and another four still out to claim their first points, but things can change very quickly in the middle order – starting this weekend.

Note: All start times are local.

ST KILDA (9th, 1-2) vs. GEELONG (14th, 0-3)
Friday February 19, 7:10pm
RSEA Park

Geelong will be out to break its duck in season 2021, but faces a tricky task in doing so as an away trip to face St Kilda awaits on Friday night. The Saints got on the board at the first time of asking this year but have fallen short of strong opposition since. Still, a third outing at their home of RSEA Park in four rounds should serve them well against their winless visitors from up the highway.

Both sides are set to blood debutants, with another of Geelong’s 2020 draftees in Laura Gardiner named on the bench for her maiden senior appearance, replacing Rebecca Goring (managed). St Kilda injury replacement Rebecca Ott is the game’s other debutant, brought in as part of four total changes for the Saints. While they will miss the likes of Molly McDonald (quad) and Nadia von Bertouch (foot), defender Bianca Jakobsson is among the relieving inclusions.

The Cats rank last for points scored and while the Saints have not been all that flash in converting up forward either, they should have enough firepower to boot a winning score. Geelong’s defence is known to be reasonably reliable though, so capitalising on the midfield battle will be key to either team getting on top.

Tip: St Kilda by 10

CARLTON (8th, 1-2) vs. RICHMOND (11th, 0-3)
Saturday February 20, 3:10pm
Princes Park

Traditional rivals Carlton and Richmond lock horns at Princes Park on Saturday, with the hosts eager to shake off a rough start and begin their push towards finals. A premiership hopeful coming into the season, Carlton dropped its first two games but got back on track last week and will fancy its chances against the winless Tigers. Richmond has shown some added bite in 2021 though, shoring up in defence and streaming forward more dangerously.

The Tigers have conceded no more than seven goals against some stiff opposition across the first three rounds, but have a lingering sense of rawness when it comes to their efficiency in attack. A total score of seven goals and 17 behinds does not make for good reading, and such impotence will likely prove costly against the more polished Blues, who are also quite bullish in defence.

Carlton’s strong midfield is set to play a factor too, led by reigning league best and fairest, Madison Prespakis. She may well find herself matched up by former-Blue Sarah Hosking at the centre bounces, with star Richmond ball winner Monique Conti arguably her side’s biggest threat in that department. The Blues’ dynamism and depth across the ground will also prove telling, especially if Richmond put together a good patch.

Tip: Carlton by 28

FREMANTLE (2nd, 3-0) vs. GOLD COAST (13th, 0-3)
Saturday February 20, 2:10pm
Fremantle Oval

Fremantle will fancy its chances of extending its record winning run to 11 matches on Saturday afternoon, when the Gold Coast Suns come to town looking for their first points this season. The Dockers have been in irresistible form, picking up from where they left off in 2020 with three-straight wins – including a crucial one against Adelaide last week in what was their first true test for 2021.

After a promising start against Melbourne, Gold Coast has registered a combined 10 points in its last two outings; first suffering a Q-Clash drubbing and then being edged by GWS in torrential conditions. Needless to say, scoring is a sore point for the Suns, but they have decent stock in a forwardline led by Sarah Perkins, should the ball get there. That is not to mention All Australian Kalinda Howarth, who is yet to register a goal this season.

They will need all the firepower they can get to match that of Fremantle, who have an array of scoring options. Spearhead Gemma Houghton was held relatively well last week but still managed to live up to her two-goal average, while the likes of Sabreena Duffy and Kara Antonio have also proven handy avenues forward. Gold Coast will have its hands full in midfield as well, though the reliable partnership of Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan should provide some resistance to the Kiara Bowers juggernaut.

Tip: Fremantle by 45

NORTH MELBOURNE (5th, 2-1) vs. COLLINGWOOD (3rd, 3-0)
Saturday February 20, 7:10pm
Marvel Stadium

Marvel Stadium hosts one of the games of the round as Victorian powerhouses North Melbourne and Collingwood do battle on Saturday night. Returning fans should be treated to a mouthwatering spectacle, with the elements set to play no factor in hindering North Melbourne’s slick ball movement by foot, or Collingwood’s flowing run-and-gun style under the Marvel Stadium roof.

The Magpies should come in with a great deal of confidence having passed every test put in front of them thus far, but this will easily be their biggest challenge yet. While they dropped points last week, the Kangaroos have the advantage of competing in one of the competition’s most high-level encounters, ever, putting them in good stead for this potential finals sighter.

Collingwood midfield brigade is one of the few which could well match it with North Melbourne at the centre bounces, with ball magnets Jaimee Lambert, Brittany Bonnici, and the dynamic Bri Davey all averaging over 19 disposals. North Melbourne’s depth runs a touch deeper though, with Emma Kearney, Ashleigh Riddell, and Jenna Bruton among five Roos to average over 16 touches. The other two, Jasmine Garner and Ellie Gavalas, have also booted five and four goals respectively.

Tip: North Melbourne by 5

BRISBANE (1st, 3-0) vs. ADELAIDE (6th, 2-1)
Sunday February 21, 12:10pm
Hickey Park

League frontrunner, Brisbane hosts Adelaide on Sunday afternoon in another game of the round contender, making for Brisbane’s first top six assignment this year. The Lions have been flawless thus far, albeit against three of the bottom four teams, with the league’s most potent attack and stingiest defence. Adelaide went down to Fremantle last week, but has shown its quality as a bonafide premiership threat. This, another clash of contenders, will prove telling.

The Lions’ key forward partnership of Dakota Davidson and Jesse Wardlaw has produced a combined 12 goals this season, as teams have struggled to combat their one-two punch. Add to that the speed of Greta Bodey (five goals) and Courtney Hodder at ground level, and Brisbane’s attack has plenty of bases which need covering.

Adelaide will always back its midfield, consisting of Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, and Erin Phillips to set it on the right foot, while a defence set to be bolstered by skipper Chelsea Randall should combat Brisbane’s firepower well. Having been thrown deep forward with good success last week, Phillips looms as a handy wildcard for the Crows who were incredibly wasteful inside attacking 50 last week. They will need to be on song to kick a winning score in this one.

Tip: Brisbane by 3

WESTERN BULLDOGS (7th, 2-1) vs. MELBOURNE (4th, 3-0)
Sunday February 21, 3:10pm
Whitten Oval

Pioneer clubs Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs will play off for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup at Whitten Oval on Sunday afternoon, with just one game separating them so far this season. Nathan Burke‘s young pups have been ultra impressive in registering their 2-1 record, but the hardness and class of Melbourne’s undefeated side should prove a steep mountain to climb.

The Dees’ new-found scoring power and free-flowing style has been built on the back of some continued solidity in midfield, with stalwart Karen Paxman reliable as ever in 2021 alongside Lily Mithen and Tyla Hanks – all of whom average over 20 disposals per game. Up forward, a tall attack led by Tegan Cunningham has been difficult to counter in the air, while Kate Hore continues to damage at ground level.

Bulldogs skipper Ellie Blackburn has been inspirational as ever this season, dragging her side over the line on two occasions and leading the Dogs for disposals, clearances, inside 50s, and score involvements. She is also top of the tree alongside Izzy Huntington for goals (both four), with the latter a contested marking phenomenon. Plenty of young guns, including Jessica Fitzgerald will have to step up for the Dogs here in what looms as an extremely daunting task.

Tip: Melbourne by 24

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY (10th, 1-2) vs. WEST COAST (12th, 0-3)
Sunday February 21, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

Round 4’s final game sees Greater Western Sydney (GWS) hosting once again against the winless West Coast Eagles, who have proven quite plucky in patches this season. The Giants broke through last week with a 10-point win over Gold Coast, another winless side, to get some points on the board, but West Coast has thrice fallen short of the mark against quality opposition.

This presents as the Eagles’ best chance to get on the board so far in 2021, with a solid half of smothering tackling pressure against Brisbane fresh in their memory. The problems for West Coast have come via a lack of efficiency and class inside forward 50, while the Eagles’ defence has also conceded the most points of any side this season.

Young guns Bella Lewis and Mikayla Bowen have tried hard alongside Emma Swanson and ruck Parris Laurie at the centre bounces, but will be tasked with combating the dominance of powerhouse GWS pair Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson. Both have been among the top three disposal and contested ball winners in the first three rounds, but have seen their hard work come unstuck further afield. The Giants should be able to see the game out better on the basis of experience, but will have to be wary.

Tip: GWS by 11

Image Credit: (Retrieved from) North Melbourne FC

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 3 preview – Four of the top six lock horns on blockbuster weekend

ROUND 3 of the 2021 AFL Women’s season sees two sets of undefeated sides lock horns to find out whose ‘0’ will go, while teams just outside the top six battle to emerge as finals threats. As was the case last time around, fixtures have been shuffled and one matchup – between Brisbane and West Coast – is on hold. But with a couple of mouthwatering clashes and one Victorian grudge match set to go down, there is still plenty to look forward to from this weekend’s action.

Note: All start times are local.

GEELONG (14th, 0-2) vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS (7th, 1-1)
Friday February 12, 7:10pm
Kardinia Park

History will be made in red, white, and blue on Friday night as the Western Bulldogs’ first ever father-daughter selection, Isabella Grant makes her AFLW debut against Geelong at Kardinia Park. The daughter of 341-game Bulldogs champion, Chris missed all of her maiden season through injury, but comes into a winning side in place of the injured Bailey Hunt (calf). Her team will be sniffing out a positive record here, especially seeing that Geelong is currently bolted to bottom spot after losses of a combined 91 points.

The Cats have made a couple of changes, with the experienced Bec Goring called up to help bolster her side’s defence, while mature-age coup Nicole Garner also comes in for her senior debut. The pair’s additions come at the expense of youngsters Darcy Moloney and Georgia Clarke. Having lost handily to premiership fancy North Melbourne at home in Round 1, the Cats will be keen to make good on their advantage this time around and give fans something to cheer about.

The Bulldogs’ youthful exuberance and counter-attacking nature may pose some problems for Geelong, especially given the home side has only scrounged three majors in its first two outings. The Cats are also known for their young talent, but that has seen them fall away in lapses of concentration after positive periods. That could be a worrying factor if they don’t get up or stay level early, because we all saw how the ‘Dogs came back with force against Carlton last week.

Tip: Bulldogs by 13

GWS (11th, 0-2) vs. GOLD COAST (13th, 0-2)
Saturday February 13, 3:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

Two sides coming off hefty losses will look to get off the mark for season 2021, when Greater Western Sydney (GWS) hosts Gold Coast in Blacktown on Saturday afternoon. The Suns were kept to the lowest-ever AFLW score (two points) last time out in a one-sided Q-Clash, which should serve as fuel enough for this game. GWS went down to somewhat a rival of its own in Adelaide last week, making this a clash between two winless teams in desperate need of a confidence boost.

An improved Suns forwardline saw hardly any of the ball last week, but showed in Round 1 that when given the opportunity, goals will come. GWS has also had trouble moving forward with its fluency on the ball – or lack thereof – underselling the dominance of Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson at the clearances. Whichever team can click into gear quicker and find its groove in the front half should coast clear for a much-needed maiden win.

Tip: Giants by 5

ST KILDA (8th, 1-1) vs. CARLTON (9th, 0-2)
Saturday February 13, 5:10pm
RSEA Park

Carlton faces a tricky must-win fixture as it rolls into Moorabbin to take on St Kilda on Saturday night, with both sides poised outside the top six. Touted as a premiership chance coming into the season, the Blues have stumbled in two surprise losses with short bursts from opposition sides hurting them in the long run. The Saints loom as another tricky test having beaten the Blues’ last opponent and remained competitive against North Melbourne a week later.

Perhaps mercifully, the Carlton looks likely to call upon the recently recovered trio of Lucy McEvoy, Mua Laloifi, and Gab Pound, who would all normally feature in the starting lineup. While McEvoy will prove another classy midfield choice, the latter two should shore up the backline. Sturdiness will be important against an improve Saints attack, spearhead by Caitlin Greiser.

The midfield battle will also be an interesting one, with the likes of McEvoy and Maddy Prespakis locking horns with in-form St Kilda jets Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith. The hardened ball winning ability of Carlton’s pair against the classy running Saints should form an intriguing matchup of styles. Making the most of their impact will be key for either side, especially after their respective faults up forward thus far.

Tip: Blues by 15

MELBOURNE (4th, 2-0) vs. NORTH MELBOURNE (2nd, 2-0)
Saturday February 13, 7:10pm
Casey Fields

A mouthwatering contest between two undefeated Victorian sides goes down at Casey Fields on Saturday night, as Melbourne takes on North Melbourne. The Roos have been near-flawless across the opening two rounds; first dismantling Geelong on the road and then pulling away from the plucky St Kilda last week. Melbourne has found its grove after slow starts in both of its opening two fixtures, but now faces easily its toughest test to date.

While the Roos are renowned for their vast avenues to goal, Melbourne has proven somewhat of a surprise packet through its seemingly revitalised attacking nous. The engine room has played a big part, with Tyla Hanks slotting in seamlessly alongside Karen Paxman and Lily Mithen, but North is known to boss the ball and bat incredibly deep. A Kangas midfield quintet of Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton, Jasmine Garner, Ash Riddell, and Ellie Gavalas has proven unbeatable across four quarters thus far, and will be tough to top.

The ruck battle will be another area of interest given how much class lies in either sides’ midfields, with Melbourne’s Lauren Pearce set to tackle an in-form Emma King. King, who has also rediscovered her scoring form, averages nearly double her opponent’s hitouts, but aide from rotating key forward Eden Zanker will likely even the contest up.

Tip: Kangaroos by 11

ADELAIDE (3rd, 2-0) vs. FREMANTLE (5th, 2-0)
Sunday February 14, 12:40pm
Norwood Oval

The round’s second top six clash sees Adelaide do battle with Fremantle at Norwood Oval, with the two undefeated teams battling to maintain their perfect records. Freo’s nine-game unblemished run has continued on from last season and while a tense derby only saw them get up by nine points with two majors on the board last week, the Dockers look every bit the premiership contender. Adelaide is right up there as well, emphatically returning to form in 2021 with the chance now to prove just how serious its flag tilt will be.

The Crows’ elite ball winners in Ebony Marinoff, Anne Hatchard, and Erin Phillips will be difficult to match, while the dynamic wildcard that is Chelsea Randall could prove a game-breaking factor in roles at either end. A heap of responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Fremantle’s Kiara Bowers in midfield, though a greater team spread up and down the spine is more the Dockers’ go.

It is no secret that Gemma Houghton poses a massive threat up forward alongside Sabreena Duffy, while Janelle Cuthbertson has been an absolute rock down back. With running power on the outer and many avenues to goal, Freo should have little trouble managing a winning score. Adelaide will again look to its midfield to fill out the scorebook, while the likes of Danielle Ponter, Ashleigh Woodland, and Teah Charlton loom as individuals who can break the game open.

Tip: Dockers by 1

RICHMOND (12th, 0-2) vs. COLLINGWOOD (6th, 2-0)
Sunday February 14, 3:10pm
Punt Road Oval

A late fixture shuffle sees traditional rivals Richmond and Collingwood go head-to-head on Sunday afternoon, set to provide some nostalgia to fans at Punt Road Oval. The Tigers are still out to claim their first points in the competition having shown signs of improvement thus far, but ultimately fallen short of better opposition. Collingwood looms as another difficult test, currently holding up the top six with a perfect 2-0 record.

The two sides have not yet met in the women’s competition, making for a fresh start and opportunity for either team to grab bragging rights. Collingwood’s rejigged forwardline which boasts Chloe Molloy and Brianna Davey benefitted last week with the inclusion of Sarah Rowe, and will again be in good shape to overpower the opposition. Conversely, scoring continues to be a sore spot for Richmond despite the dominance of Monique Conti in midfield and promise of Ellie McKenzie on the outer.

Tip: Magpies by 33

Note: The Brisbane Lions vs. West Coast Eagles fixture is TBC.

Featured Image: Western Bulldogs’ Isabella Grant (right) with her famous father, Chris | Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Lions secure roaring Q-Clash victory

BRISBANE roared to a record-breaking Q-Clash win on Sunday, gaining bragging rights over its local rival with a 63-point thrashing of Gold Coast at Hickey Park. The 10.5 (65) to 0.2 (2) result served as the first Q-Clash win in AFL Women’s history, while also making for Brisbane’s highest ever score in the competition. On the flip-side, Gold Coast’s two behinds became the lowest-ever total and just the second goalless effort on record.

Dynamic Brisbane tall forward Jesse Wardlaw was awarded the Q-Clash Medal as best afield, booting goals in each quarter and having a hand in plenty more as she dominated both in the air and around the ground. She was a key benefactor of the Lions’ slick and quick ball movement on the outside, which put the Suns’ defence under enormous pressure.

While the scoreboard only showed two goals for Brisbane’s early ascendancy, signs were ominous when the Lions headed into the main break 29 points clear – all while keeping Gold Coast scoreless. In a sign of maturity for the maroon, blue, and gold, they put the foot down after half time with six-straight goals to run away comfortable winners.

Dakota Davidson let fans know it was party time as she sunk four majors for the Lions, while speedy second-year jet Greta Bodey added two more goals to her career tally in an electric display. Ally Anderson and Nat Grider (20 disposals) led all comers, with the likes of Emily Bates (17 disposals), Lauren Arnell (15), and Sophie Conway (14) were prolific going forward.

Lauren Aherns was Gold Coast’s leading ball winner with 19 touches, followed closely by Alison Drennan and Hannah Dunn on 18 apiece. A knee injury to prized 2020 draftee Annise Bradfield in the first term only rubs salt into the wound of Gold Coast’s mammoth loss, on top of an 0-2 record.

Image Credit: Jono Searle/Getty Images via AFL Photos

BRISBANE 2.4 | 4.5 | 6.5 | 10.5 (65)
GOLD COAST 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)

GOALS:

Brisbane: J. Wardlaw 4, D. Davidson 4, G. Bodey 2
Gold Coast: Nil.

DC BEST:

Brisbane: J. Wardlaw, E. Bates, S. Conway, D. Davidson, N. Grider, L. Arnell
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, H. Dunn, L. Aherns, J. Pregelj

Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

HARDENED ROOS HOP PAST SAINTS ON HOME TURF

NORTH Melbourne secured its eighth-straight AFL Women’s victory on Sunday with a 26-point triumph over St Kilda at Arden Street Oval, but it was not enough to hold onto top spot. The Roos were tested for a half and only led by five points at the main break, but kept St Kilda scoreless thereafter to run out 5.6 (36) to 1.4 (10) winners.

The home side was met by a tenacious Saints outfit keen to compete, with the pressure gauge turned up in a competitive contest. But the more mature side, North Melbourne, was able to keep its foot on the gas for longer and eventually opened the game up on its own terms with more fluid ball movement and relentless attack at the contest.

Skipper Emma Kearney led the way for her Roos, collecting 22 touches in a vintage display of her class. Jemma Bruton was North’s leading ball winner with 23 disposals, while Ash Riddell was lively and sunk the sealing goal to boot. Jasmine Garner (18 disposals) and Ellie Gavalas (17) were the other second-half goalkickers who helped North pull away.

Georgia Patrikios broke her own record for the most disposals by a Saint in the AFLW, collecting 27 touches as she continues to go from strength to strength. Second-gamer Tyanna Smith was her side’s lone goalkicker in another promising display, while Cat Phillips (21 disposals) was also influential. The hard luck continues for Bianca Jakobsson though, as she was injured in her club debut, and first game back from collarbone surgery.

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.6 (36)
ST KILDA 0.1 | 1.4 | 1.4 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, A. Riddell, D. Bateman, E. Gavalas, T. Randall
St Kilda: T. Smith

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: E. Kearney, A. Riddell, J. Bruton, J. Garner, E. Gavalas
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, T. Smith, H. Priest, K. Shierlaw

Credit: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images via AFL Photos

CROWS FLY PAST GIANTS IN ROAD ROMP

ADELAIDE looks every bit the premiership contender after another convincing win, this time over the GWS Giants by 47 points at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday. Signs were ominous early as the Crows opened with three quick goals, before closing even better to secure the emphatic 9.8 (62) to 2.3 (15) result.

Danielle Ponter opened the game up in the first half with three majors, causing headaches inside 50 as Adelaide’s scoreboard pressure quickly began to mount. GWS was competitive at the coalface but had little to show for it in goalless second and third terms, a factor which eventually became telling as the Crows cruised to victory.

The Crows’ prime movers in Anne Hatchard (23 disposals), Erin Phillips (19), and skipper Chelsea Randall (14) were all prolific while managing to secure second half goals, while Ebony Marinoff was her side’s leading ball winner with 24 touches. Ponter finished as the game’s lone multiple goalkicker in a game-breaking performance.

Alyce Parker was again the Giants’ most valuable asset, proving monstrous at the contest to lead all comers with 27 disposals – including 16 contested possessions. She put the cherry on top of a big individual game with her first-ever AFLW goal in the final term. Rebecca Beeson also stood up in the charcoal and orange with 22 touches.

GWS 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.3 (15)
ADELAIDE 3.1 | 5.2 | 5.4 | 9.8 (62)

GOALS:

GWS: A. Parker, H. Zreika
Adelaide: D. Ponter 3, C. Randall, A. Woodland, M. Newman, E. Phillips, E. Jones, A. Hatchard

DC BEST:

GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, H. Zreika
Adelaide: E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, A. Hatchard, D. Ponter, S. Allan, C. Randall

Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images via AFL Photos

DOCKERS GIVE EAGLES THE SLIP IN WET WESTERN DERBY

Fremantle slipped, slid, and secured its ninth-consecutive AFL Women’s victory on Sunday, defeating West Coast by nine points in a wet Western Derby. The heavens opened above Fremantle Oval and a hard-fought, contested scrap ensued as the local rivals searched for ascendancy. Having been drawn back to within just six points in the final term, Freo was able to hold on and win 2.11 (23) to 2.2 (14) in an enthralling encounter.

West Coast struck first through Aisling McCarthy, who teamed up with fellow Irishwoman Niamh Kelly for a precise opening goal considering the conditions. But another glorious feat in the wet from Docker Gemma Houghton put Fremantle ahead in the second term, before Kiara Bowers bombed home from 50 to give her side a handy 12-point buffer at the final break. It proved enough, despite Imahra Cameron‘s six-pointer making the final exchanges all the more dramatic in the fourth term.

Bowers won the best afield medal having come up clutch with her goal and led all comers on the back of 23 disposals and 14 tackles in a game which was seemingly made for her. Stephanie Cain (12 disposals, two behinds) and Hayley Miller (15 disposals) both worked two ways with six tackles apiece, while Sabreena Duffy was lively in the front half.

Young gun Mikayla Bowen (18 disposals) was West Coast’s leading ball winner, followed closely by Belinda Smith (17) and skipper Emma Swanson (16). Kelly and McCarthy were also prominent for the Eagles, who came away worse for ware with multiple injuries throughout the bruising battle. The two sides remain on opposite records, with Freo flying at 2-0 while West Coast remains on the hunt for points at 0-2.

FREMANTLE 0.3 | 1.6 | 2.8 | 2.11 (23)
WEST COAST 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.2 (14)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton, K. Bowers
West Coast: I. Cameron, A. McCarthy

BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, S. Cain, H. Miller, S. Duffy, G. Houghton,
West Coast: M. Bowen, B. Smith, E. Swanson, A. McCarthy

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Roos romp to record-breaking opening round victory

NORTH Melbourne sent an early statement to the rest of the competition on Sunday, romping to a mammoth 62-point win over Geelong at Kardinia Park. The Roos took little time to establish their dominance as tall forward Emma King booted three majors in the opening term, setting a strong platform for the 11.5 (71) to 1.3 (9) victory. The result made for North’s largest-ever winning margin, and sets a new record for the highest Round 1 percentage in AFL/AFLW history.

The hardened Kangaroos outfit proved too big and strong both around the ball and up forward for a youthful Geelong side, seeing them accelerate in each term and form a formidable lead. Having been held scoreless for the first three terms, the Cats got on the board early in the final quarter before veteran ruck Aasta O’Connor booted her side’s lone major of the game in the dying minutes.

Along with King, second year forward/midfielder Ellie Gavalas chimed in with three majors of her own, while league best and fairest chance Jasmine Garner snared two to go with 18 disposals. Isabella Eddey had a debut to remember as she also found the big sticks, manufactured by some fearsome work from Daria Bannister as the play unfolded. Emma Kearney (22 disposals), Ash Riddell (20), and Jenna Bruton (19) were typically productive around the ball and far too polished on the attack for Geelong’s lineup to maintain.

Superfluous to say, most of Geelong’s biggest contributors were stationed in defence, with youngster Amy McDonald starting her season on the right foot with an 18-disposal effort. The 23-year-old was a cool head in Geelong’s defensive crisis, but could only do so much on the counter as the ball consistently found its way back. Skipper Meghan McDonald had a tough job on her hands among the undersized and under-siege backline but fared well, while star midfielder Olivia Purcell picked up from where she left off with 17 touches and seven tackles.

The Cats face another tough ask in travelling to face Brisbane next Sunday afternoon, as North Melbourne returns to home base to take on fellow Round 1 winner, St Kilda earlier on the same day. While one side looks every bit the premiership contender, the other will be licking its wounds after a harsh opening to season 2021.

FINAL SCORE:

GEELONG 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.3 (9)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 | 5.2 | 8.4 | 11.5 (71)

GOALS:

Geelong: A. O’Connor
North Melbourne: E. King 3, E. Gavalas 3, J. Garner 2, I. Eddey, S. Abbatangelo, K. Ashmore

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, O. Purcell, M. McDonald
North Melbourne: E. King, J. Garner, E. Kearney, E. Gavalas, J. Bruton, A. Riddell

Image Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

ROARING SECOND HALF SEES LIONS TOPPLE THE TIGERS

Brisbane opened its account for season 2021 at the first time of asking, shaking off Richmond after half time to secure a 29-point win on the road. In the first ever AFL Women’s fixture held at Punt Road Oval, the Tigers’ homecoming was spoiled by Brisbane’s three-goal to nil second half which set up the 5.11 (41) to 1.6 (12) final scoreline.

As expected on the back of its concession-aided recruitment drive, Richmond made noticeable improvements after a winless maiden campaign and was only a goal adrift at the main break. It came after Brisbane utilised the scoring end well in the opening term, gaining good early momentum through its control of the engine room and typically sturdy defensive structure in the face of Richmond’s quick ball movement.

While it was hardly a case of the floodgates being forced open, Brisbane prettied up the scoreboard nicely with a closing effort beyond the years of its young squad, all while keeping the Tigers goalless after half time. Courtney Wakefield‘s second term major from the goalsquare proved her side’s lone goal for the game, as skipper Katie Brennan could only manage a hat-trick of behinds.

Gun Richmond midfielder Monique Conti was contained well by Cathy Svarc, who collected nine of her 10 touches in the opening half, while Gabrielle Seymour led the Tigers’ count with 16 disposals. Under-the-radar recruit Harriet Cordner was also terrific down back in the losing effort, while number one draft pick Ellie McKenzie showed promise on the outer in her AFLW debut.

For the Lions, 19-year-old Isabel Dawes looks a big improver having notched a career-high 21 disposals, leading all comers for the day. Nat Grider is another in that boat as she gathered 16 touches from defence, while Emily Bates and Sophie Conway were not far behind from midfield. Greta Bodey was the game’s only multiple goalkicker with two, as speedy debutant Courtney Hodder managed 1.2.

The Lions will be looking to form an early winning streak as they carry their momentum back home ahead of hosting Geelong at Hickey Park, while Richmond is set to take on Melbourne at Casey Fields in what looks like a tough assignment – if Round 1 results are anything to go by, at least.

FINAL SCORE:

RICHMOND 0.2 | 1.4 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)
BRISBANE 2.3 | 2.4 | 4.8 | 5.11 (41)

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield
Brisbane: G. Bodey 2, C. Hodder, T. Hickie, D. Davidson

DC BEST:

Richmond: H. Cordner, G. Seymour, E. McKenzie
Brisbane: I. Dawes, N. Grider, E. Bates, S. Conway, C. Svarc

Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images via AFL Photos

DOCKERS DEMOLISH GIANTS IN SPARKLING SECOND HALF

Fremantle’s undefeated streak and dominant home record extended into 2021, as the Dockers accounted for a spirited GWS side by 30 points at Fremantle Oval on Sunday. It was a game of great emotion, most significantly for those in charcoal and orange as they commemorated inaugural Giant, Jacinda Barclay, who passed away in October last year.

The travelling team was largely competitive in the early stages, trailing by just five points at each of the first two breaks. But Fremantle’s smothering tackling pressure, dynamism and searing run forward of centre proved too much to handle after half time, with the 8.10 (58) to 4.4 (28) result coming thanks to the Dockers’ five-goal to three second half.

The forward wombo combo of tall Gemma Houghton and small Sabreena Duffy again worked wonders for Freo, with the pair both snaring three goals in scintillating displays. Houghton came to life after the main break to find all of her three goals as the game opened up, with her dual threat of pace and aerial presence a true handful. Duffy was also menacing inside 50, displaying her rare goal sense.

Ever-consistent midfielder Kiara Bowers will again be a key feature through midfield as she amassed a team-high 21 touches, partnered well by Jasmin Stewart on the inside while skipper Kara Antonio bossed the outer. Alyce Parker returned a stellar display for the Giants with 28 touches, a game-high tally matched by teammate Rebecca Beeson.

GWS is booked to face West Coast at Norwood Oval next having escaped Western Australia in time before the state’s proposed lockdown period, while Fremantle has fellow opening round victor, Adelaide next on the agenda at the same venue.

FINAL SCORE:

FREMANTLE 1.2 | 2.3 | 5.8 | 8.10 (58)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.3 | 1.4 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 3, S. Duffy 3, K. Antonio, M. Hyde
GWS: A. Schmidt, R. Beeson, T. Davies, E. Bennetts

DC BEST:

Fremantle: G. Houghton, K. Bowers, S. Duffy, J. Stewart, K. Antonio
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, A. Eva

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #2 – North Melbourne take the win in epic battle against Magpies

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, moving onto our #2 which saw North Melbourne wage a massive comeback against Collingwood for a 5.4 (34) to 5.2 (32) semi-final win at Ikon Park. It was both sides’ inaugural AFL Women’s final, making the outcome that much more intense.

It was an intense battle from the get-go with the two sides unable to be split throughout the first quarter, and while each quarter saw a new intensity brew for each side, it came down to the last seconds of the game. The ball was still in the Magpies’ forward half with a minute remaining on the clock and much of the momentum, but a Jasmine Garner intercept mark at half-back in the last 15 seconds of the game helped keep the Roos’ premiership hopes alive. Both teams started well, booting a goal apiece before the first change thanks to North’s Daisy Bateman – through an uncharacteristic error from Magpies veteran Stacey Livingstone – before the Pies bounced back, cleaning up their act as Jordan Membrey got on the board for her first of two. Terrific Magpies efforts saw ball magnets Britt Bonnici, Jaimee Lambert and Bri Davey be their typical threatening selves, unafraid of the contest and doing anything they could to find the footy. While the Kangaroos had much of the momentum in the early stages of the match, again booting the opening goal of the second, they were unable to stay in control with the Magpies hot on their heels, as a punch over the line from Sharni Layton spoiled an almost certain goal which could have seen results go very differently. Collingwood kicked their way ahead with flair and energy, building off their efforts and booting three goals in just over five minutes through the middle of the quarter to be well in control of the Roos coming into half time. 

But the see-sawing affair continued in the third as the Kangaroos took back some control, booting two and keeping the Pies scoreless to get ahead by three points with 15 minutes left on the clock. Defensively both sides were constant and consistent, with Kaitlyn Ashmore and Livingstone rebounding continuously and providing threatening shadows in defence, storming down their opposition at any opportunity. Ash Riddell continued to hold strong with Ellie Gavalas and captain Emma Kearney, with the trio building their way to dominate at stoppages always getting first hands to the ball. A massive and closely contested final quarter was a testament to the skill-level running amock on the field, with neither team able to penetrate their forward with ease to pile on the goals, instead having to work their way around the field poking at defensive holes to puncture. Both teams managed just the one goal in the final quarter and to the Pies’ detriment was the loss of best on ground, Bonnici, who came off for an untimely concussion test – but fortunately sneakily returned later in the quarter to bolster the Pies’ ranks once more. With less than 20 seconds on the clock, one last roll of the dice saw the Magpies kick to a Layton-Emma King one-on-one but it was Garner who came over the top to take the match-saving mark and win the game for her side by just two points.

Riddell picked an equal game-high 22 disposals for the Roos, as well as five marks and six tackles, while Garner (15 disposals, five marks and five tackles), Kearney (17 disposals, four tackles) and Gavalas (13 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal) all impressed afield. For the Magpies, Bonnici was the best-on with 20 disposals, three marks and three tackles, while Lambert and Davey combined for 44 disposals, 11 marks and 10 tackles in the loss. 

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 (32) 

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo, S. Wright, K. Ashmore, E. Gavalas, D. Bateman.
Collingwood: J. Membrey 2, M. Cann, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy.

ADC BEST:

North Melbourne: A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore
Collingwood: B. Bonnici, B. Davey, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Membrey

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #6 – Demons cause opening round upset over flag favourites

COMING in at number six of our Top 10 count of the best AFL Women’s games for season is the Demons first round win over premiership favourites North Melbourne in a nail-biting contest at Casey Fields. Here’s how we recalled the game:

Melbourne has claimed a huge scalp in the opening round of the AFL Women’s 2020 season, downing one of the premiership favourites in North Melbourne at Casey Fields. In a see-sawing contest, the Demons scored the final goal of the game courtesy of Eden Zanker, in a low-scoring and blustery affair to win 3.4 (22) to 3.2 (20).

A warm and windy day at Casey Fields not only welcomed the return of AFL Women’s to the south-eastern suburbs of Victoria, but also the return of Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce. The Dees’ skipper was playing her first competitive match since 2018, and started at half-back, winning an intercept possession straight off a clearance and getting in the thick of it early. Young gun, Tyla Hanks set the tone with a great tackle in the opening minute at half-back, but the going was tough early with both side’s defences standing up with the blustery conditions doing plenty to impact the inside 50 entries.

It took until the fifth minute when Kaitlyn Ashmore mowed down a Melbourne opponent close to goal and won a free kick 15m out on a 45 degree angle. The breeze did not pose a problem for the talented utility who slotted the first goal of the match. The Roos might have surprised a few by recruiting mature-age Western Bulldogs VFL Women’s recruit, Ellie Gavalas with their first pick, but she showed exactly why they brought her in with some great tackling ability, as did Melbourne Uni recruit, Tahni Nestor with a huge run-down tackle on Zanker to win a free kick. Ashmore’s forward work was looking good with a strong lead and mark about 35m out, but opted to pass which was spoiled.

With only their third inside 50, Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham took a big contested mark, but her kick got caught in the breeze and fell short. An end-to-end play by the Roos saw Daisy Bateman mark on the 50m line, and knowing the distance was beyond her, looked for options. Luckily though, her opponent took a step too far on the mark, and Bateman was awarded a 50m penalty, converting the major from the goal square to put her side 12 points up with the quarter into red time. The home team was attacking fiercely late in the term, but back-to-back 50m penalties for mark infringements brought North Melbourne back to within goal-scoring range. The kick on goal fell short, and Gavalas nearly got her first major with a quick snap but missed to the right and the siren sounded with the Roos 2.1 (13) to Dees’ 0.0 (0).

Now with the wind at their backs, the Dees could start to mount an offensive themselves. A huge moment came in the sixth minute when Kate Hore produced a perfectly timed run-down tackle as her opponent went to clear the danger out of defence. The ball never connected with her boot and Hore converted the subsequent set shot from straight in front 30m out. Melbourne was on the board just over 20 minutes into the match.

The game was predominantly being played in Melbourne’s half, with the Demons constantly putting pressure on the Kangaroos’ defence. It worried the visitors into giving away a stoppage free to Elise O’Dea in front of goal, but her set shot drifted to the left courtesy of the strong breeze. Melbourne’s ‘Old Firm’ of O’Dea, Pearce and Karen Paxman were standing up and leading the side across the three lines, while the the speed and excitement of Hore and Shelley Heath inside 50 was piling on the pressure for the home side.

Hore was best-on for her impact in the game, pressuring an opponent to force the ball out of bounds and win a free kick deep in the pocket. Her set shot missed, but she would soon put her side in front with the last meaningful play of the quarter, after Zanker’s dribble attempt fortuitously bounced away from the goal, but also a North Melbourne opponent and bounced straight into the arms of the running Hore who converted from point-blank range.

Melbourne had a simple task against the wind – try to clog up the scoring to avoid North Melbourne holding an unassailable lead heading into the last term. For the first four minutes, nothing was able to penetrate past the last line of the Dees’ sturdy defence. With so much experience back there, they were able to work the ball out of the danger zone time and time again. Though the first meaningful chance came via a holding free to Emma King about 35m out straight in front. Her shot looked on target for the most part, but drifted to the left for one behind and levelled the scores.

While Pearce might have been the headline return story for the match, North had one of its own too, with Ash Riddell returning for just her third game after missing the rest of last season after going down in Round 2. She was in the right spot at the right time goal-side to receive a quick handball from Jasmine Garner to snap around her body and put it through with a celebration worthy of a vital match-turning goal. The Roos would need at least one more and now allow the home side to get one on the board of their own if they were to hold enough sway to restrict the opposition in the final term.

The match had shades of last year’s thrilling encounter, and while Cunningham had the chance to put her side back level with a tight shot from the boundary, it went to the right.  Melbourne was attacking fiercely in the dying minutes of the third term to try and get one against the flow, but North kept repelling time and time again, including a potentially match-winning tackle from Bethany Lynch inside defensive 50. The Roos led by five points at the final break, but the Dees would have the all-important win to try and reverse the 2019 result at this venue.

While North did all the attacking early in the fourth term, it was Melbourne’s ability to run and find space that was the difference in the end. Every player was in the Kangaroos’ half and it led to an end-to- end play by the Dees for Zanker to be all alone inside 50 to run into an open goal and put the Dees in front by a point. Melbourne had multiple chances to really ice the game over the next few minutes, but could not seem to put through the final dagger as the North defence stood up time and time again.

The Kangaroos kept trying to pump it long out of defensive 50, but the Demons set up behind the ball so every kick down through midfield was being picked off by the experienced Demons defenders. Both teams were desperate and the Roos coughed up another free kick and with 20 seconds remaining, the Demons were able to lock the ball up enough to win the game by just two points in a thrilling contest.

The 2018 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Emma Kearney finished with 20 touches and nine tackles, shaded by Riddell who was arguably the best on the ground after quarter time, racking up 20 disposals, five tackles and booting that timely third quarter goal, while Jenna Bruton laid 11 tackles and was fierce throughout the four quarters. Aside from Hore (13 disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) who was outstanding in crunch moments for the Dees, Paxman and O’Dea (both 15 disposals) and Pearce (12 disposals) were terrific.

MELBOURNE 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
KANGAROOS 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 2, E. Zanker.
Kangaroos: K. Ashmore, D. Bateman, A. Riddell.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Hore, D. Pearce, K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, S. Heath, T. Hanks
Kangaroos: A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, D. Hardiman, K. Ashmore

2020 AFL Women’s season review: North Melbourne

NORTH MELBOURNE was perhaps the side most unlucky to miss finals last year after a scintillating start to life in the AFL Women’s competition, but bounced back beautifully in 2020 to finish top of Conference A at 5-1. Coach Scott Gowans proclaimed his side was in the premiership window during preseason and the Roos’ mature-age heavy draft haul backed that statement up before another impressive on-field campaign. With four All-Australian squad members littered across a talent-rich side, the Kangaroos were one of the final four flag fancies before the season was cut short. Relive the highs and lows of North Melbourne’s second AFLW tilt, with a nod to its most outstanding players.

RECORD: 1st (A), 5-1 (1-0 finals), 227.2%

RESULTS:

R1: lost to Melbourne by 2 points
R2: defeated GWS by 18 points
R3: defeated Richmond by 56 points
R4:
defeated Gold Coast by 13 points
R5:
defeated Adelaide by 42 points 
R6:
defeated Geelong by 46 points
SF: defeated Collingwood by 2 points

A shock Round 1 loss to Melbourne was far from the ideal start North Melbourne would have been after, but perhaps served as an omen given how 2019 premier, Adelaide also went undefeated after losing in its opening fixture last year. From that point, the Kangaroos were near-flawless in dismantling their next six opponents, with three wins over 42 points and only one side getting within a two-goal margin. North’s many avenues to goal made them one of the league’s most dominant attacking threats, with no score falling below five goals after Round 1 with service from a dominant midfield.

SEASON HIGH: Finals glory… just

It is not to say that North Melbourne was not made to earn any of its regular season victories, but having done so with such ease at times, the Kangaroos’ epic two-point win over Collingwood in their semi-finals clash had hearts racing. Down by almost two goals at the main break, the valiant Roos rallied to get the jump heading into the final break and held on in a nail-biting fourth term to win through to the would-be preliminary finals. An instant classic, against a foundation team no less.

SEASON LOW: The Round 1 boilover

With this the sole blemish on North Melbourne’s record for the year, it was a relatively straightforward choice to be the Roos’ low point. But if there is ever a good time to lose, it proved to be in Round 1 for the Kangaroos, with the entire regular season left to make up the points and fulfil their pre-season plaudits. After bouncing to an early lead and again snatching it at three quarter time, North were jumped in a tense final term as Melbourne proved it would also be a contender in 2020.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Jasmine Garner (20.1 disposals, 4.6 marks, 4.7 tackles, 3.4 clearances, 1.6 rebound 50s, 4.1 inside 50s, 335 metres gained, 8 goals)

Earned the AFLW Most Valuable Player (MVP) award today after a career-best campaign where she led the competition for marks, and her club for contested possessions, score involvements, and inside 50s. Having levelled up her endurance, Garner made the switch to midfield and proved a game-breaker, able to find bucketloads of the ball and still hit the scoreboard as one of the league’s most damaging players.

Emma Kearney (20.6 disposals, 3.4 marks, 4.4 tackles, 4.1 clearances, 2 rebound 50s, 4.1 inside 50s, 354 metres gained, 3 goals)

The skipper was at her reliable best in 2020 and while she may have proven animated in the face of opposition attention, was supported well through the engine room throughout another strong season. Seldom is Kearney kept out of the contest, and even when she was not having her usual impact on the ball, found a way to have a say – as proven in her three-goal effort against Richmond. The one-time league best and fairest is going nowhere, and remains one of the true elites.

Ash Riddell (21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.6 tackles, 4.3 clearances, 1 rebound 50, 3.9 inside 50s, 359 metres gained)

After suffering a long-term injury in just her second AFLW appearance last year, Riddell returned with a clean bill of health and had an enormous impact on North Melbourne’s midfield. An absolute ball magnet, the diminutive mover led her side for disposals, clearances, and metres gained from a host of capable teammates, earning All Australian squad recognition in the process. Proved she was more than just fold for Kearney and Garner in the engine room.

Jenna Bruton (17.4 disposals, 2.1 marks, 5.7 tackles, 3.7 clearances, 1.6 rebound 50s, 2.1 inside 50s)

Another zippy small among North Melbourne’s midfield brigade this season was Bruton, who despite her 158cm frame, brought the heat at stoppages as a reliable two-way outlet in the engine room. The fourth of North’s All-Australian squad members, Bruton covered plenty of ground in 2020 and impressively led the Kangaroos for tackles and intercept possessions in another consistent year – her third at the elite level and second at Arden Street.

Kaitlyn Ashmore (7.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.9 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 9 goals)

The inaugural Brisbane Lions forward stood out as North Melbourne’s leading goalkicker in 2020 with a career-high haul of nine majors across all seven games. A dangerous figure inside 50 who simply makes things happen, Ashmore proved her nous around the big sticks with bags of three and four goals this year, but was rubbed out for most of the game against GWS with concussion. Has sticky hands and great goal sense, making her a pleasure to watch.

THE SHREWD RECRUIT:

Ellie Gavalas (13.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 5.4 tackles, 2.1 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 232 metres gained)

North Melbourne turned heads by selecting the 24-year-old with pick 10 in last year’s draft on the back of just one (albeit outstanding) VFLW campaign, but the Tasmanian repaid the faith in spades with a terrific debut season. A round-ball convert, Gavalas steadily acclimatised to the Kangaroos’ midfield, becoming a reliable figure at the stoppages who possesses clean hands and a hard edge. Kicked her first goal in the final game of the season – not for a lack of trying – as great reward for effort.

THE UTILITY:

Kate Gillespie-Jones (12 disposals, 2.9 marks, 4 tackles, 2.4 hitouts, 2.4 inside 50s, 3 goals)

Dominant key position players take time to develop, and after making great strides upon making the switch to Arden Street last year, Gillespie-Jones furthered her reputation in 2020. The 179cm utility was employed mostly as a forward target across all seven games, but enjoyed stints further afield and in the ruck to highlight her flexibility. Her three goals, all in seperate games, made for a career-best haul, with the tall’s work to follow-up her improving aerial efforts compounding her influence on games. Combined well with Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo inside 50.

VERDICT:

The Kangaroos are an experienced and hardened unit which could well have taken out this year’s premiership. While we will never know what could have been, one thing that remains almost certain is that this side will remain a contender in 2021. Boasting one of the league’s best midfields and a forwardline with multiple prongs, there is a lot to like about the Kangaroos going forward.

2020 AFLW weekend wrap: Round 6 – GIANTS, Blues consolidate finals chances

GWS and Carlton notched huge wins against fellow AFL Women’s finals hopefuls to consolidate their own finals chances in Round 6 of the competition, with reigning premier Adelaide dealt a blow in its premiership defence. Meanwhile, both conference leaders enjoyed wins to continue on their road to the post-season, Collingwood remained in the hunt, while expansion sides Gold Coast and St Kilda both also won out convincingly. In our Match of the Round, Carlton overcame Melbourne in a crucial win in the Top End.

GEELONG 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 10.6 (66)

Peter Williams

North Melbourne has overcome a slow start to run over the top of Geelong in the Friday night fixture at GMHBA Stadium. As the only game allowing fans into the venue for the weekend amid growing fears with the Coronavirus, the Cats put on a show early, booting the only two goals of the first term through Phoebe McWilliams and All-Australian defender, Meg McDonald. By the time Julia Crockett-Grills had converted the Cats’ third major just 62 seconds into the second term, the home team led 3.1 to 0.2 and an upset was brewing. Little did the fans that did turn up know, the visiting team was about to click into gear. While Olivia Purcell again attacked the scoreboard for a behind in the fourth minute, that would turn out to be the last score of the game for the Cats, as the Roos piled on 10.4 to 0.0 over the next hour to completely run away with the match and win by 46 points. Jasmine Garner booted three goals and Brittany Gibson two, with the premiership favourites taking a while, but finally finding their groove in the 10.6 (66) to 3.2 (20) triumph on the road.

Garner finished with 18 disposals, six marks, six tackles and five inside 50s to go with her three goals, while Gibson made the most of her four touches, booting two goals from two marks. In terms of disposals, Ash Riddell continued her fine form with a match-high 23, as well as five marks, three inside 50s and seven tackles. Former Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, Emma Kearney was prominent again thanks to 22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, six inside 50s and five rebounds. Jenna Bruton (21 disposals, seven tackles and three inside 50s) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, two marks, four tackles and four inside 50s) were busy, while Mia King booted her first AFL Women’s career goal to go with her 12 touches and seven tackles.

For the Cats, Purcell amassed 18 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s, McDonald had the 14 touches, five marks, three rebounds and a goal, while Amy McDonald had 13 disposals, two marks and four tackles. Also amongst the more prominent ball winners were Crockett-Grills (12 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Danielle Higgins (12 touches, three marks and four tackles) and Madeline Keryk (12 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds). Unfortunately for the Cats, the loss was further soured by a serious knee injury to Nina Morrison with fears that she had done a second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the same right leg. The result meant the Roos stretched their lead out to six points a the top of Conference A, with Geelong’s finals hopes coping a knock to sit four points, percentage and a game behind the top three sides.

GOALS:

Geelong: J. Crockett-Grills, P. McWilliams, M. McDonald.
North Melbourne: J. Garner 3, B. Gibson 2, D. Bateman, S. Abbatangelo, K. Gillespie-Jones, E. King, M. King.

BEST:

Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, M. McDonald, R. Cranston, R. Garing
North Melbourne: J. Garner, A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, M. King

BRISBANE LIONS 0.1 | 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 | 3.7 | 3.10 | 5.13 (43)

Ryan Dundas

Although Coronavirus halted the fans, Collingwood could not be stopped as they conquered the Brisbane Lions. The last time these two sides met saw the Magpies deny Brisbane finals football and there was a sense of déjà vu for Craig Starcevich’s side as Collingwood cemented early pressure. The Pies were able to control the contested possessions, allowing their side to take an early 15-point lead in the opening term. Led by Brittany Bonnici, a bunch of Magpies were instrumental in providing inside 50s for Collingwood, while seconding to stifle the Lions’ defence. Bonnici was threatening around the contest, offering the Pies options all over the ground. Collingwood’s dictating was not stopped as they kept Brisbane scoreless in the second term.

Down by 24 points at half-time, Brisbane came out strong in the second half and rallied momentum to only trail at the final break by 14. However, the damage was already done as Collingwood controlled the final term to win 5.13 (43) to 2.2 (14). Two consecutive wins for the Magpies ensure they are still in the hunt for a finals berth in the AFLW competition. Conversely, Brisbane’s loss opens the door now for the Gold Coast Suns to obtain the final spot in Conference A.

Bonnici was outstanding in the midfield for Collingwood, recording 26 disposals, three marks and three tackles. Undoubtedly, the best player on the ground, her stocks continue to rise in the AFLW. Sarah D’Arcy‘s willingness to find opportunities in the forward line was also one of Collingwood’s vital strengths against Brisbane. Although 1.4 is not her peak, her best work came off the ball, creating openings for her teammates. Similarly, on the defensive end, Steph Chiocci’s impact against Brisbane influenced the momentum away from the Lions with 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles. For the Brisbane Lions, Rheanne Lugg (18 disposals and eight marks) stepped up in a side that was outplayed by the Collingwood Magpies. Along with her, Sophie Conway in the second half was one of the best players on the ground with 11 disposals and two marks.

GOALS:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, C. Svarc
Collingwood: S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Alexander, J. Membrey

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, R. Lugg, S. Conway, C. Svarc
Collingwood:
S. D’Arcy, B. Bonnici, B. Davey, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Lambert

ST KILDA 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)
RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

Tom Cheesman

“The G-Train” Caitlin Greiser led St Kilda to a dominant 39-point victory over the struggling Richmond at RSEA Park on Saturday. Greiser was unstoppable up forward while Richmond were held to just three points for the match, the lowest score ever recorded in AFLW. It has been a disappointing debut AFLW season for the Tigers, who are yet to record their first win and sit with a lowly percentage of 35.7. St Kilda dominated all the key stats including disposals (206-144), clearances (32-15), contested possessions (106-81) and inside 50s (29-19).

Greiser got the Saints off to a dream start, earning a free kick deep in the forward 50 and kicking her side’s first major. Round 5 Rising Star nominee Olivia Vesely was clean at the clearances early, while Clara Fitzpatrick took some nice intercept marks in defence. Greiser’s second gave the Saints a two-goal lead at the first break. Both teams went goalless in the second term, as Richmond did well to lock it in their forward 50 but could not impact the scoreboard. Sabrina Frederick earned two set shots on goal but failed to convert. With fans locked out due to the coronavirus, both sides’ benches made as much noise as possible to help support their sides.

In the third, the Saints got back to applying strong forward pressure while Richmond struggled to transition the ball past the centre of the ground. Greiser kicked her third before Kate Shierlaw got on the end of some great run and carry from Georgia Patrikios to put through their fourth. St Kilda’s dominance at the contest continued in the last as they ran away to a comfortable victory. Greiser was a clear best on ground with three goals, three marks and four tackles. Meanwhile, Rosie Dillon (17 disposals, seven tackles) and Vesely (16 disposals, five tackles) were very impactful at the clearances. For Richmond, Monique Conti was far and away their strongest performer with 22 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser 3, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, N. Xenos
Richmond: Nil

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, R. Dillon, N. Xenos, C. Fitzpatrick, O. Vesely
Richmond: M. Conti, G. Campbell, S. Frederick

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 | 4.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)
FREMANTLE 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)

Lachie Abbott

Fremantle remain undefeated after edging out the Western Bulldogs by 15 points in a high scoring contest at Whitten Oval. The Dockers trailed by four points at three-quarter-time, but rallied to kick four goals, while the Bulldogs could only manage one in the final term.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bulldogs were unable to call upon the support of their home fans to get them off to a flying start, as organisers have closed all AFLW matches from crowds. Nevertheless, the Dogs got off to a strong start with a linking chain of handballs through the centre corridor, with the run of Katy Heron eventually allowing Ellie Blackburn to kick the opening goal of the match.

Hannah Munyard added a second major on the back of a lovely checkside pass from Kirsten McLeod and it was clear the Dogs were up for the fight. However, the Dockers soon showed why they are undefeated and hit back through a strong Kara Antonio mark and set shot, set up by the run of Gemma Houghton from the wing. The Dogs were potent using handballs to drive attacks off half-back through the centre of the ground, whereas the Dockers preferred to keep the ball out of the corridor and utilised their foot skills along the boundary line.

Blackburn began the second term as she finished the first, receiving a handball and firing home from 40 metres to add the much needed classy tough to the Dogs play. The Bulldogs’ defence struggled at times to escape the pressure of Fremantle’s forwards, resulting in several opportunities for the potent Dockers attack, including one set shot for Hayley Miller to cut the margin to four points.

Also up forward for the Dockers, Ashley Sharp was a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs defence for the entirety of the game, scoring multiple opportunistic goals. Laura Pugh added another for the Dockers just before the break after a penetrating inside 50 from Antonio spilled her way. Heading into the main interval, it was the Dockers who had recovered to lead by four points and look ready to break the game open in the second half.

Yet once the second stanza got underway, it was the Dogs who broke the game open. Unfortunately for Katie-Jayne Grieve, she was completely to blame for the first goal of the Dogs’ third-quarter rally, giving away a free kick and two 50-metre penalties to allow an easy goal for the dominant Aisling McCarthy.

Later in the term, McLeod, despite only having six touches for the day, was extremely effective when she got the ball in her hands. The small forward snapped her second major midway through the term to extend the lead back to 10 points with a classy finish. Deanna Berry then added another and suddenly, it looked like the one-win Bulldogs may run away with the match. However, the Dockers roared back into life to kick the last two goals of the quarter through a dribbling Mia-Rae Clifford finish and a strong contested mark from Sharp, on the back of outstanding forward pressure.

With it all to play for at the start of the final term, Ebony Antonio stood up when she was needed most, slotting a classy goal in the early stages of the quarter. Antonio feigned to give off the handball- selling two defenders- before cutting to her right and finishing with poise on the run. Antonio continued to play an inspired final quarter, laying crunching tackles and later drifting back behind the play and taking some important contested marks.

Danielle Marshall responded for the Dogs after almost ruining a golden goal-scoring opportunity by kicking into Kiara Bowers on the mark. Luckily for Marshall, the ricochet fell back into her arms and the American managed to finish from a tight angle. But that was as good as it got for the Bulldogs, and soon after a strong mark from Clifford set up her second. Almost two minutes later, a strong contest from Grieve in the goal square allowed Kate Flood to poke home from close range and suddenly the Dockers had a two goal cushion.

With little time left, the Bulldogs pressed up the field in search of a much needed second major of the term. However, a burst forward on the wing from Houghton made use of the now vacant space in behind the Dogs defence. Sharp knocked Houghton’s kick towards goal and used blistering speed to seal the match. The Dockers defended well in the closing moments to not allow the Bulldogs any clean possession and ultimately claimed their sixth win of the season in a thrilling encounter.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, E. Blackburn 2, H. Munyard, D. Marshall, A. McCarthy, D. Berry.
Fremantle: A. Sharp 3, M. Clifford 2, L. Pugh, K. Flood, E. Antonio, K. Antonio, H. Miller.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, A. McCarthy, G. Newton, I. Huntington, H. Munyard, K. McLeod
Fremantle: E. Antonio, K. Bowers, K. Antonio, A. Sharp, H. Miller, M. Clifford

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.2 (26)

Michael Alvaro

GWS dealt a crushing blow to Adelaide’s premiership defence on Sunday, knocking over the reigning premiers by five points in a thriller at Hisense Stadium. The GIANTS came up clutch in the low-scoring contest, quickly rectifying an early deficit and holding off the Crows’ last-ditch effort to run out 4.2 (26) to 3.3 (21) victors. Not only does the win mean GWS is in the box seat to secure a finals berth, but it was also the GIANTS’ first-ever AFLW victory over Adelaide.

Fresh off a match winning four-goal haul against Richmond, Cora Staunton picked up right from where she left off in Round 5 by floating through the game’s opening goal. But the Crows would work to even the ledger and sneak ahead late in the first term, with the impact of a returning Erin Phillips proving vital. The two-time AFLW best and fairest winner had a hand in both of her side’s goals for the term; hitting Courtney Gum lace out on the lead, and later belting a stoppage clearance towards the goalsquare to be pounced on by Marijana Rajcic and give the home side ascendancy.

Both sides’ maturity shone through as the tackling pressure and physicality of the contest lifted in response to the tightness of the scoreboard, and it showed with only two goals notched for the entire second and third quarters. They both belonged to the GIANTS, who put their noses in front as Jodie Hicks finished well on the end of a slick chain inside forward 50, and extended their lead via a 50-metre penalty to Brittany Tully in the following term. The GIANTS’ ball movement looked to have lifted, remaining composed in the face of some fierce pressure while inflicting some serious tackling of their own.

The last term began much like the first, with Staunton again earning a free kick and for the second time, wobbling home a six-pointer to lift her side. Holding a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, GWS ensured it would stay on top with much of the same lockdown defensive work. Adelaide’s last roll of the dice came 90 seconds from the final siren as Gum marked strongly close to goal and duly converted the set shot. But the Crows’ attempts to blow down the door came up short as the GIANTS’ defence proved just that, helping them claim a second-consecutive victory.

Alyce Parker was instrumental in GWS’ success, collecting a mammoth 30 disposals and seven marks against some seasoned opponents in midfield. Rebecca Beeson and Tait Mackrill each had 20 touches, while Staunton (12 disposals, six marks, 2.1) and Elle Bennetts (16 disposals, three marks) were terrific as the GIANTS’s bookends. For Adelaide, the midfield combination of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff again proved potent as the pair combined for 41 disposals and 17 tackles, with the pacy Justine Mules also pitching in on the tackling front. The supporting hand of Erin Phillips was also impactful early on, as the champion finished with 13 disposals and three tackles in just her second game for the season.

Sitting pretty at 4-2 and in second place among the Conference A contenders, the GIANTS are now primed for finals with games against the lower-ranked Geelong and Western Bulldogs to come. On the other hand, Adelaide faces a fight to stay alive in season 2020, sixth in Conference A but with fixtures awaiting against expansion sides, Gold Coast and Richmond.

GOALS:

Adelaide: C. Gum 2, M. Rajcic
GWS: C. Staunton 2, J. Hicks, B. Tully

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, C. Gum, C. Biddell, A. Foley
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, T. Mackrill, B. Tully, E. Bennetts, C. Staunton

WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.2 (8)
GOLD COAST SUNS 1.2 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

Taylah Melki

It was a convincing performance by the Suns who had control from the get go holding the Eagles goalless for the first three quarters before finally slotting one in the last term. West Coast simply could not generate any forward ball movement mainly in part to Gold Coasts efficiency with ball in hand and ability to shut down options across the ground. Despite having more inside 50s (29-26) the Eagles could not buy a goal showing just how strong the Suns defence was, consistently standing up under pressure and working the ball out of danger areas. Gold Coast pretty much cruised to victory never really challenged on the scoreboard by their opposition and while they lost the possession count and marks tally the Suns somehow managed to assert themselves on the game and claim a 25-point win.

The inaugural captain once again led from the front bullying her way through the packs and applying a wealth of physical pressure with six tackles. Dana Hooker was head and shoulders above the rest racking up 31 touches with 22 of them kicks showcasing her ability to find a target and hit them lace out while also taking six marks in what was a complete performance from the highly talented mid. Imahra Cameron also plied her trade across the ground with 20 disposals while Belinda Smith was constantly involved in the contest with her 18 possessions, three tackles and four marks. Although Hayley Bullas did not win a heap of the footy racking up 10 touches for the game she was the sole goalscorer for the Eagles proving her influence. The reliable Kellie Gibson was up to her usual tricks with 18 disposals while Emma Swanson was not far behind with 16 and five tackles. Despite not being able to post a competitive total the Eagles have plenty of stars that have shown with more time to gel as a side could become a damaging side.

It is fair to say that the ball was relatively evenly shared across the Gold Coast side with 12 players reaching double figures however it was Kate Surman that racked up the most touches of anyone in her squad with 20. Draftee Dee Heslop highlighted her ferocity at the contest multiple times throughout the match with a game high 10 tackles. Fellow youngster Serene Watson also made a lasting impression on the Eagles racking up the touches across the ground with 15 while Jacqui Yorston also inserted herself on the match with nine tackles and 12 disposals. Jamie Stanton, Hannah Dunn and Lauren Aherns managed 16 possessions apiece with the trio creating plenty of excitement with their clever ball use. But when it came to goal kickers, Kalinda Howarth proved to be the go to girl slotting an impressive four goals with two of them coming in the third quarter. Jordann Hickey rounded out the other scorer for the day nailing a major during the second term to help set up the Gold Coast win.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 4, J. Hickey
West Coast: H. Bullas

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Surman, K. Howarth, S. Watson, J. Yorston, J. Stanton
West Coast: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, I. Cameron, B. Smith, K. Gibson