Tag: gabby newton

Knights seek sustained success after bumper draft

AN undefeated premiership-winning NAB League Girls season, the number one AFL Women’s draft pick, and five players taken overall made for an amazingly successful year in 2019, but the future is still very bright at the Northern Knights according to incoming Female Talent Coordinator, Natalie Grindal.

There is not much more the Knights could have achieved last year in as dominant a season the competition has seen, all despite the list being touted by former Female Talent Coordinator Zoe Slatter for its upcoming youth in the pre-season. Along with the five Northern draftees, three more 2019 top-agers have gone on to train with Carlton at VFLW level, while five middle and bottom-age players are now part of the 2020 AFL Women’s Academy – highlighting the younger talent Slatter was high on.

Grindal acknowledged the success of last year and while she is tapering expectations given the turnover of talent, said she is excited by what the next group of talent can bring to the table, and impressed by the way they have stepped up over the pre-season.

“Obviously for us, a measure of our success is what players go on to do afterwards whether it’s AFLW or VFLW… to be honest it’s really overwhelming to know that you’ve played a part in their journey to help them get to an AFL level,” Grindal said “I was lucky enough last week to go watch Gabby Newton (and) Sarah Sansonetti debut, and Maddy Brancatisano from the year before, so it’s really exciting that those girls have gone through this pathway and onto AFLW. “We were lucky to have a really successful season last year. “Obviously the nature of the competition is each year is a new year with the turnover of teams and players, so it’s really exciting that we had a really good year but each year is a new year for us.”

“We had some really quality players, but also quality leaders leave our program last year so I guess for our girls the challenge has been to step up to that next level and really take on those leadership opportunities and drive the standards for the girls who are new to our club as well. “I guess that’s been the really pleasing aspect for us, that the girls who were in their middle-age year last year and were playing under players like Gabby Newton, Britney Gutknecht and Sarah Sansonetti, they’ve now lifted up to that standard and are now driving the standards for the club. “I think we’ll probably end up having probably 11 or 12 top-age girls… this top-age group were actually quite a strong bottom-age group in 2018, so it’s been really exciting to see their progression through their bottom-age, having their middle-age year last year and now into their top-age year so we’re really excited,” she said.

Coming through a “really good” pre-season unscathed and maintaining positive individual development are two points checked off the list for Grindal and her Knights thus far, with her transition into a the coordinator’s chair made easier through previous connections to the Preston-based program, and a new partnership with RMIT University.

“It’s been really exciting,” Grindal said. “Obviously I was really lucky being involved at the club (over) the last two years so I guess for me transition-wise, I knew a lot of the players, I knew most of the staff and also having existing relationships with Rhy (Gieschen, Talent Manager) and Alex (Davey, Football Administration Officer) in the office, it’s made my transition quite enjoyable, but also a bit easier knowing those people. “We’ve started the partnership with RMIT so have been using the ground out there which is in incredible condition. “That’s been really exciting and we’ll play our first four games there which is really good.”

Despite boasting a couple of early standouts in Ellie McKenzie – the sister of former North Melbourne rookie, Tom – and best afield in the 2019 NAB League Grand Final, Jess Fitzgerald, the Knights are set to maintain that well-renowned spine and a good spread of top-age contributors.

“I still think we’ve got quite a handful of top-age players who will be strong contributors to the team,” Grindal said. “Girls like Ellie McKenzie and Jess Fitzgerald are spoken about a lot and they are exceptional footballers, but we’ve got other girls as well – Maeve Chaplin, Alyssa Bannan, those girls are in the AFLW Academy and who are incredible footballers. “Players like Abigail Bennett and Ashleigh Snow are really strong contributors as well and we’re excited about seeing how they progress through their top-age year this year.

“The one thing we tell our girls and we expect of them is to be willing to try different positions in the field and see where their strengths lie. “I think for us we still have a spread across the field for our top-agers, but again they’ll be challenged to try different positions and take on different opportunities within the team,” she said.

While players will be tested in their final years of junior development, Grindal says there will be no “dramatic changes” to the line-up from week to week, with a Round 1 Grand Final rematch against Calder next on the agenda after two successful practice matches.

“(It’s) really exciting to have a grand final rematch at RMIT, we’re really excited to host that match and have Calder come down,” she said. “As I said before, you don’t know what’s going to happen in the season, we had a fantastic match with them in the Grand Final and we’re excited about playing them again.”

An announcement on the leadership group is also imminent, with a heap of talent again at the Knights’ disposal and a “strong culture” with clear standards ensuring Northern is set for another big year – in both team and individual aspects.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 1 – Bottom-age All-Australian shines in South Australia

IN a new weekly piece, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 2, 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.

ONES TO WATCH:

Millie Brown (Geelong)

A seemingly ready-made player entering the elite system, Brown showed exactly why she was thrown into the team from the first match, picking up 18 disposals, three marks, four tackles and three rebounds in Geelong’s 19-point loss to Brisbane at GMHBA Stadium. While her side lost, Brown gave fans an indication of what to expect from the smooth moving tall who can play a variety of roles all across the ground. With a penetrating kick and an ability to intercept the ball at its highest point, Brown is a crucial cog in Geelong’s line-up.

Tarni White (St Kilda)

Simply sensational, the AFL Women’s All-Australian representative at 15-years-old showed the signs that she did prior to injury interruptions heading into her top-age year last season. The Queenslander began to build some nice form at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, and copped a knock in Round 1 which limited her influence. Back out on the park and looking strong, White had 18 disposals, 10 marks and five rebounds, causing all sorts of headaches for the opposition who struggled to contain the athlete with some terrific upside going forward.

Western Bulldogs vs. Melbourne

The Western Bulldogs brought in a couple of extra young talents in second year player, Eleanor Brown and latest debutant, Amelia Van Oosterwijck to the fold against the Dees. While they might have just had the combined four disposals between them, they laid an impressive nine tackles, which really set the tone for the home side under lights. Continuing on from her strong Round 1 form, Gabby Newton picked up another 11 disposals and laid six tackles, while Gemma Lagioia (nine disposals, two inside 50s) moved the ball well. Elisabeth Georgostathis was the other young gun to play in the match, and similar to Brown and Van Oosterwijck had just four touches, but laid six tackles to no doubt impress the coaches with her defensive pressure. As cited in last week’s article, Melbourne do not have a lot of 21st century-born players, but Tyla Hanks (seven disposals, four tackles) and Shelley Heath (seven disposals, seven tackles) both played well in the Dees win at Whitten Oval.

North Melbourne vs. GWS

The Kangaroos managed to get on the board in season 2020 with a good win over GWS GIANTS, and second year player, Daisy Bateman again looked dangerous around goals. While she only had the four disposals and two tackles, she has plenty of implied pressure and provides an option at the feet of the talls. Neither of these teams have a lot of players who fall under the category for this piece, but Alyce Parker is one of the best ones going around. The uncompromising midfielder with the superb left boot ranked up 16 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds to be second best-on for her side.

Gold Coast vs. Richmond

It was a memorable day for the Gold Coast SUNS, picking up their first win in their AFL Women’s history by downing fellow inaugural side, Richmond. In contrast to the above game, these sides have plenty of youth running around and having an impact. Serene Watson looked impressive coming out of the back 50 with nine disposals, four tackles and two rebounds. The dual Under-18 All-Australian was one of a number of talents who stood out, along with Jacqui Yorsten (seven disposals, seven tackles and one goal), debutant and Queensland AFL Women’s Under-18 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Ellie Hampson (seven disposals, five tackles) and Dee Heslop (five disposals, six tackles and three inside 50s). Second year ruck, Lauren Bella is thriving as the number one ruck in the team, amassing 20 hitouts to win the ruck battle against multiple opponents. For the Tigers, Sarah Sansonetti showed just why she was highly sought after, with the Northern Knights’ premiership defender racking up 20 disposals, two tackles, one mark and one inside 50 to be the equal-second biggest ball winner on the ground. Kodi Jacques (13 disposals, four tackles, three marks and three inside 50s) was crucial in the midfield, working well with Sophie Molan (12 disposals, three marks, two tackles and one inside 50), Laura McClelland (10 disposals, four marks and two hitouts) and Maddy Brancatisano (eight disposals, two marks and three tackles).

West Coast vs. Fremantle

West Coast’s trio of young talent on the list continued to play big roles on the weekend despite the Eagles’ huge loss to their state-based rivals, Fremantle. Mikayla Bowen had nine touches and laid four tackles playing through midfield, while McKenzie Dowrick‘s work out of defence was strong, picking up seven disposals, five tackles and three rebounds, and even got forward booting her side’s first major of the contest. Sophie McDonald also stood tall in defence with four touches, two marks and two rebounds. Playing against an experienced ruck in Parris Laurie, Mim Strom still battled hard despite not winning the ruck battle, picking up eight touches, two marks, four tackles and 14 hitouts, while Roxanne Roux booted another two goals from four disposals and chipped in with five hitouts to win the Rising Star nomination for Round 2. On debut, Fremantle’s Bianca Webb had six touches and three tackles, as well as a mark and a rebound, while last week’s four-goal hero Sabreena Duffy had a quieter day out but still managed seven disposals, a mark and a goal.

Geelong vs. Brisbane

In a win on the road, the Lion cubs kept producing big when it counted, as a number of teenagers were able to stand up and play important roles in the win over the Cats. Lily Postlethwaite was crucial through midfield with seven disposals, six tackles and two inside 50s, as the Queensland Under 18s captain ran out with Isabel Dawes who had six disposals, four tackles and an inside 50 in the match. From the second year players, Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw provided a huge target up forward and assisted in the ruck, booting three goals and amassed eight disposals, three marks and seven hitouts on her way to a Rising Star nomination in the process. Nat Grider also played for the Lions, picking up four disposals, two marks and four tackles. For the Cats, Brown was the standout, but a number of second year players who are ineligible for the Rising Star award also impressed. Nina Morrison continues to build into the form she showed in her only game last season, picking up 18 disposals, four tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds with more midfield minutes than Round 1. Olivia Purcell would be leading the Cats’ best and fairest in the early stages, following up her 27-disposal effort from Round 1 with a 16-disposals, four-rebound and two-goal effort against the Lions. Rebecca Webster had the 13 touches, six marks and four inside 50s doing well through the middle, while Georgia Clarke, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Denby Taylor all had limited touches but were able to build into the match. Rene Caris stepped up as second ruck to Aasta O’Connor with four disposals two tackles, 13 hitouts and two rebounds.

Carlton vs. Collingwood

It might have been in a loss, but the pairing of Grace Egan and Madison Prespakis looks like one for the next decade. Egan was simply sensational in her second AFL Women’s game, picking up 18 disposals, 11 tackles, four inside 50s and two marks, constantly working hard around the ground. Prespakis was her usual self despite some heavy attention from the opposition, finishing with 17 disposals, three tackles, five inside 50s and a rebound. Lucy McEvoy had a solid game with 10 touches, three tackles and two inside 50s after her Rising Star nomination last week, while Charlotte Wilson also played managing six disposals, two marks and two tackles. For the Magpies, after a busy Round 1 match, Alana Porter had just the one touch and one mark, but showed some dash and dare with three tackles and two rebounds. Second year players, Jordyn Allen and Sarah Dargan both had 10 touches, with Allen playing her first game of the season. She also booted a first quarter goal to get her side going. The pick of the group was Lauren Butler who played her best AFL Women’s game through the back half, recording 17 disposals, six marks, three tackles, one inside 50 and one rebound, while Mikala Cann was also strong with 16 disposals, five marks and two tackles in the win.

Adelaide vs. St Kilda

Madison Newman lived out a popular childhood dream with the second-gamer kicking a match-winning goal late in the game. While the Crows kicked another one for good measure, it was Newman’s goal with scores level that broke the last quarter deadlock. She finished the game with an impressive 13 touches, four marks, two tackles and two inside 50s as well as that goal.  Also playing a role in the team as second year players were Danielle Ponter (10 disposals, six marks and three inside 50s) and Nikki Gore (nine disposals, three marks, seven tackles and one rebound). For the losing side, White was the far and away standout this round, but it is not to discount last week’s Rising Star, Georgia Patrikios who picked up 18 disposals, five marks, four tackles, three inside 50s and a rebound by covering the ground well. Improving from her first game, Nicola Xenos looked at home for the Saints with 12 disposals, four marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and a rebound, while Molly McDonald had 11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and three rebounds working hard in the back half.

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 review: Pies win opening round as Lions upset reigning premiers

BRISBANE’s youth stepped up downing reigning premiers Adelaide at home, as Collingwood claimed its first win in Round 1 from four tries. All four expansion sides suffered defeats, with the Gold Coast SUNS getting within one point of victory against the GIANTS. We recap the remaining six games after our Match of the Round saw Melbourne topple North Melbourne at Casey Fields.

RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.2 (14)
CARLTON 1.5 | 1.8 | 5.9 | 6.12 (48)

By: Michael Alvaro

Richmond’s induction into the AFLW proved a baptism of fire as Carlton outclassed the Tigers to come up 34-point winners in Friday night’s season opener. The Blues looked at home on the Ikon Park turf, outmuscling the league newcomers through the engine room and having all the territory in the 6.12 (48) to 2.2 (14) drubbing. Signs were ominous early despite the scoreline not suggesting as much, with Katie Loynes’ first term major the only one in the opening half as Carlton failed to translate its dominance to scoreboard pressure. Even still, the Blues’ midfield trio of Loynes, Madison Prespakis, and Sarah Hosking brutalised that of the Tigers, setting the tone with their work rate, punishing pressure, and superior contested ball winning to get well on top.

The 2019 Rising Star, Prespakis then took over after the main break, inspiring her side to a game-breaking four-goal to nil third term as things began to look ugly. But things were not all bad for the Tigers, with boom forward recruit Sabrina Frederick making history as she slotted Richmond’s first ever AFLW goal three minutes into the final quarter, receiving a good pop from the adoring crowd. Fellow tall target Courtney Wakefield also joined in on the goalkicking action, getting on the end of a fantastic bit of transitional play to give fans a glimpse of what the Tigers may be capable of in time. Monique Conti (13 disposals, four tackles) was arguably the best in a losing side, combining through midfield with skipper, Katie Brennan (10 disposals) but lacking the grunt to turn the game around. Phoebe Monahan and Christina Bernardi also stood up in the yellow and black, while Akec Makur Chuot was terrific in an under-siege defence, positioning expertly to intercept and rebound assuredly.

For the Blues, Prespakis picked up from where she left off in 2019, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles on her way to best afield honours. Hosking worked like the Energizer bunny in the first half to finish with 17 touches, while captain Loynes had it 13 times and Lucy McEvoy debuted impressively with 12 disposals and five marks. The dynamic forward targets of Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio proved troublesome inside 50, while ruck Breann Moody showed improvement from the middle. The Blues will again feature at Ikon Park up next, set to face another traditional rival and bunny side in Collingwood, while the Tigers travel up to Queensland to face fellow newcomer, Gold Coast on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield, S. Frederick.
Carlton:
T. Harris, M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, A. Downie, K. Loynes, B. Walker.

ADC BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, A. Makur Chuot, C. Bernardi, C. Wakefield, P. Monahan, S. Frederick
Carlton:
M. Prespakis, L. McEvoy, S. Hosking, K. Loynes, T. Harris, B. Moody

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)
GOLD COAST 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

By: Nikki Jamieson

GWS narrowly avoided a loss in torrential weather to the Suns in Blacktown doing just enough to limp over the line. The match favourites had to work hard for their victory while the Suns looked to kick off their 2020 campaign with a fairy-tale beginning, taking advantage of the conditions to show that they should not be underestimated. Gold Coast denied any easy access to goals for the GIANTS only registering two points up until half time before the gears started to kick in, in the third term to apply scoreboard pressure. Both sides worked tirelessly, not willing to give an inch and scrapping hard to win the slippery footy but in the end it was the experience of GWS that prevailed.

Gold Coast’s Brittany Perry made history, kicking the team’s debut AFLW goal in the early in the match resulting in an early lead. The experienced co-captains, in Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar, were able to keep the young team under control. Breakout stars for the Suns included ex-Lion Jacqui Yorston who proved she was a tackling machine with a whopping 12 tackles to her name along with 13 disposals while Jamie Stanton also made an impact with 15 disposals and five tackles.

Thankfully for the home side, they gained their lead back through a goal late in the third term by Aimee Schmidt. GWS’ experience proved to be the decider, as outstanding second and third efforts by Alyce Parker led the way racking up 22 disposals and five tackles. Re-listed Rebecca Privitelli was a key factor in the GIANTS narrow win, with 14 disposals and a potentially match winning behind. New captain Alicia Eva had a similarly influential game, with 17 disposals and six tackles.

In Round 2 both teams play on the Saturday again, with GWS taking on North Melbourne in Tasmania and the Suns have their first home match against Richmond at Metricon Stadium.

GOALS:

GIANTS: A. Schmidt.
Gold Coast: B. Perry.

ADC BEST:

GIANTS: A. Parker, A. Eva, B. Tully, C. Staunton, H. Zreika, R. Privitelli.
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, S. Virgo, J. Yorston, H. Dunn, B. Perry, L. Ahrens.

COLLINGWOOD 0.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 5.8 (38)
WEST COAST EAGLES 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.5 (11)

By: Taylah Melki

It was a history making performance for both sides with Eagles captain Dana Hooker scoring the first goal in her club’s inaugural match while also racking up 18 touches. But that was where the fairytale ended for West Coast, with Collingwood securing their first win in Round 1 in AFLW history. It was a sluggish start to the match for the Magpies who went scoreless in the opening term thanks to the Eagles mountain load of defensive pressure applying strong bumps and tackles. But the tables slowly turned in favour of the Pies with Collingwood peppering the forward 50 and capitalising on their opportunities.

After 693 days out of the game, fan favourite and former Rising Star, Chloe Molloy made her presence felt across the footy field nailing the Pies opening goal of the match and racking up 10 touches. Captain, Steph Chiocci also starred in the black and white leading from the front and slotting a nice goal on the run to get her sides nose in front. Former Diamonds goal keeper, Sharni Layton followed suit with a history making performance kicking her first AFLW goal, while Jaimee Lambert and Sarah D’Arcy also found the big sticks with ease. Defensively the Collingwood duo of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone seemed impossible to break through with the two reading the play with ease and picking off passes willy nilly. Brazill made the most of her speed and dynamic movement while Livingstone showcased her strong set of hands. But their victory was soured by a suspected lower leg injury to star recruit Bri Davey who went down midway through the third quarter.

The Eagles had glimpses of magic with Emma Swanson a ball magnet across the ground with her 18 disposals, while teammate Imahra Cameron was a real live wire tackling hard and running the ground with ease. Youngster Mikayla Bowen was also a tackling machine collecting a game-high 10 tackles and while she did not win a heap of the ball, her off the ball pressure was through the roof. Despite a dominant first quarter, West Coast simply could not maintain that high intensity pace allowing Collingwood to wear them down and poke holes in their defence to claim first spot on the ladder.

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Layton, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci
West Coast: D. Hooker

ADC BEST: 

Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, S. Livingstone, B. Bonnici.
West Coast: D.Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen, I. Cameron, M. Dowrick.

BRISBANE 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
ADELAIDE 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

By: Taylah Melki

The Brisbane Lions kicked off their 2020 campaign in style defeating the reigning premiers in style. The Lions got the jump on the Crows early opening up a two-goal lead and did not look back steadily building their attacking momentum and only allowing Adelaide to score one goal up until the fourth quarter. Adelaide fought back in the last quarter to add some respectability to the score line and prove they still have what it takes to score freely despite being well held for majority of the match.

Lauren Arnell was electric for the Lions using her physicality and go get it attitude to win the ball at the coal face while also hitting the scoreboard. Arnell led the way for Brisbane with two majors while reliable defender Kate Lutkins was up to her usual tricks with 17 disposals 14 of which were kicks. In her debut game, Lily Postlethwaite plied her trade across the field amassing nine touches and showcasing her physical intent laying five tackles. Ally Anderson was in hot form racking up the touches across the field with 16, while Emma Zielke did not muck around collecting 15 touches.

Although it was not the Crows day, Anne Hatchard made history with a whopping 35 touches in what was a complete performance from the talented midfield. In the absence of Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, Hatchard stood up and seemed to have the ball on a string while also controlling both the forward and defensive 50. Teammate Ebony Marinoff also played a major role for the Crows with the 22-year-old amassing 21 disposals and throwing her weight around with six tackles. Marinoff was not afraid to go in hard at the contest and extract the footy, using her awareness and vision to sight players in space. New recruit Courtney Gum hit the scoreboard in her first outing as a Crow while Angela Foley also added a major. Sarah Allan showcased her skill set to cover the ground well and win the ball at the coal face with 18 disposals but unfortunately it was not enough to get them over the line, with Brisbane running out comfortably.

GOALS:

Brisbane: (2) L. Arnell, O. O’Dwyer, G. Bodey, J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw.
Adelaide: C.Gum, N.Gore, A. Foley.

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: L. Arnell, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, E. Zielke, L. Postlethwaite
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Foley, C. Gum

ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 | 5.1 | 5.2 | 6.3 (39)

By: Peter Williams

A fast-starting Western Bulldogs team has outclassed St Kilda in its inaugural game, playing the role of party poopers at the Saints’ homecoming to RSEA Park, Moorabbin. The Bulldogs booted the first three goals of the game, including two to Bonnie Toogood and one to Danielle Marshall – who broke history becoming the first American to kick a goal in the AFL Women’s competition. With the game starting to slip by, the Saints gave the crowd something to cheer about with Georgia Patrikios combining with Molly McDonald to slot through the latter’s first in her AFL Women’s career.

The Dogs headed into the the break with a three-goal lead, and while the Saints were never able to head them, it was a much closer contest in the remaining three quarters. St Kilda stepped up and lifted its defensive pressure and used the ball better, booting a last quarter goal to Jess Sedunary – the final one of the match to counter the Western Bulldogs’ only goal of the half – to Kirsty Lamb – which ended any hope of the home side coming back and put it out to a game-high 32 points. The final 25-point margin was an accurate representation of the game, with the Bulldogs a bit too slick and too experienced for the young Saints.

Patrikios looked at home in the competition on debut, racking up 18 touches, two marks, three inside 50s and five tackles, while setting up the Saints’ opening goal with a lovely kick across 50 to hit-up a free McDonald, using her elite vision to find her in space. McDonald herself was very impressive with 12 touches – all kicks – four marks, three tackles, two rebounds, one inside 50 and a goal, while Olivia Vesely also stood out with the second most disposals of anyone in the red, white and black, picking up 14 disposals, one mark and four tackles.

For the Dogs, Ellie Blackburn showed just how elite she is with a standout performance of 17 touches, four marks, five tackles and a poster that caused a premature celebration from the captain believing it had split the big sticks. Hannah Scott and Lamb also picked up 17 disposals each, recording a combined five marks and 10 tackles, while number one draft pick, Gabby Newton had 13 disposals and eight tackles, playing off half-forward and having stints on-ball.

GOALS: 

St Kilda: M. McDonald, J. Sedunary.
Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, D. Marshall, B. Hunt, K. Lamb, B. Hunt.

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, O. Vesely, H. Priest, K. McCarthy, N. Exon
Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Hunt, K. Lamb. H. Scott, A. McCarthy, K. Rennie

FREMANTLE 1.0 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 6.8 (44)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

By: Michael Alvaro

Fremantle made the ideal start in its quest to go one better than its preliminary final-making 2019 campaign, kicking away late to topple Geelong by 16 points on home turf. Fremantle young gun Sabreena Duffy played a starring role, booting more than half of her side’s score with four goals in the 6.8 (44) to 4.4 (28) triumph.

While the Dockers enjoyed plenty of time in their forward half with 48 inside 50s to 13, the Cats controlled the uncontested ball and transitioned well while making better use of their opportunities up forward. It meant the visiting side had an answer for each challenge, with the two sides going goal-for-goal in the first three terms with the margin not breaching seven points either way. But Duffy’s fourth goal and one followed by Gemma Houghton sealed the deal for Fremantle late in the final term, with the winners made to earn their first set of premiership points.

Duffy was the spearhead up forward, but had good support in the form of Houghton (17 disposals, five tackles, 1.3) and star debutant Roxanne Roux (seven disposals, 1.2), while Kiara Bowers took on a mammoth workload with 22 touches and 14 tackles from midfield. The Cats’ top end was made to work hard, with promising youngster Olivia Purcell racking up a game-high 27 disposals, while Julia Crockett-Grills (22 disposals, five marks), Rebecca Webster (21 disposals, seven marks), and Madeline Keryk (20 disposals, four marks) stood up in Geelong’s defensive half. Richelle Cranston had arguably the highlight of the day with her second term goal, handballing to herself on the break and slamming the ball home, while Nina Morrison made a steady return to action with a goal from nine touches. A home fixture is up next for the Cats as the Lions come to town, while Fremantle is set to play out in the inaugural AFLW Western derby on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Fremantle: S. Duffy 4, G. Houghton, R. Roux.
Geelong: G. Clarke, R. Cranston, M. Maguire, N. Morrison.

ADC BEST:

Fremantle: S. Duffy, K. Bowers, G. Houghton, R. Roux, H. Miller, K. Antonio
Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Cranston, R. Webster, M. Keryk, D. Taylor

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.

The ‘big three’s’ take on how the AFLW draft unfolded

GABBY Newton, Lucy McEvoy, and Georgia Patrikios; dubbed pre-draft as the three players vying for the honour of being taken first off the AFL Women’s Draft board.

But ask all three about whether they knew what was to unfold on Tuesday afternoon, and all three almost unanimously insist they had not the slightest clue.

“I wasn’t sure going in,” Bulldogs’ number one pick Newton said. “I knew Lucy and Patrikios were obviously also big contenders but I’m so glad (the Bulldogs) picked me up, I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

“I sort of had no idea coming in so it was just ‘Whatever happens, happens,’ St Kilda’s Patrikios added. “I’m happy to be at the Saints and (I’m) just going to move from there.

“Carlton did say they were keen from the start and I was pretty keen… to get to pick two,” Carlton’s McEvoy told the club’s media team with more conviction. “It’s so good though, so exciting.”

McEvoy was incidentally the one to inadvertently create the ‘big three’ tussle, throwing a spanner in the works as she nominated for the Victorian Metro draft zone. Hailing from Geelong and rising through the Falcons’ junior pathway, it seemed the Cats’ AFLW side was destined to pick up another top-five talent at a cut price after snaring Olivia Purcell with pick 14 last year. That was not to be, with McEvoy’s choice “to get out of (her) comfort zone” planting even more intrigue into the top-end.

“It was pretty much based off my studies next year, I’m hoping to do paramedicine,” she said. “I’ve got my exams coming up so hopefully I can put my best foot forward in that and get the score that I need.”

“I would’ve loved to play at Geelong, I’ve got really good friends there but I think for me to grow, as a person, it would’ve been to tick the Melbourne box.”

In an interesting twist, all three players also had unique ties to pick two holder, Carlton. McEvoy’s father, Phil played 50 reserves games for the Blues during the 1970s and 80s, while Newton played two games this year for their VFLW side and Patrikios is studying sports coaching and development at the club’s College of Sport. Needless to say, they are all still stoked with how it all unfolded nonetheless.

“I just need to pinch myself because I can’t believe it’s actually happening to be honest,” Newton said. “All the girls drafted to the Doggies, Liz (Georgostathis) and Gem (Lagioia) as well and Izzy Grant, they’re all such good friends. “I can’t believe we’re all going in together, it’s so exciting.”

McEvoy, dubbed ‘Big Boy’ as the cousin of Hawthorn ruck Ben, had equal sentiment.

“It’s so exciting… to know that I’m starting at a new club, I get to meet all these new people which I’m so excited about,” she said. “Hopefully I can make a good first impression, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into it.”

Going against the suggested unknown order of events heading into the big day, Patrikios came armed with arguably the best line of any draftee on the day.

“It’s going to be great to bring footy back to Moorabbin,” she said, becoming an instant hit with the Saints faithful – and likely the marketing department, too.

“Lucy and Gabby are amazing players and even (more) amazing people. “They deserved it, they’ve worked so hard, they’ve put a lot of work in over the last couple of years and they’ve been amazing. “I can’t wait to see how they go next season,” she added, becoming an even bigger hit with her fellow big three buddies.”

Fresh and familiar faces to build Bulldogs’ future

HOLDING four top ten picks – including the first – heading into Tuesday’s AFL Women’s Draft, much of the pre-draft chat surrounded how the Western Bulldogs would use their high-end selections.

They lost superstars Katie Brennan and Monique Conti to league newcomer Richmond after ending their premiership defence with just two wins and at the bottom of a strong Conference A. It called for rejuvenation, a new direction, and their raft of new pups would front it.

Brennan replacements now come in the form of pick one, Gabby Newton and pick six, Nell Morris-Dalton – both key members of the undefeated Northern Knights and Vic Metro sides. Skip a selection over to picks eight and nine and the themes become more evident. Classy speedsters Gemma Lagioia (Oakleigh) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (Western) plug the run-and-carry void left by Conti, with father-daughter selection Isabella Grant, Northern’s Britney Gutknecht, and Oakleigh’s Amelia van Oosterwijck filling out a rejuvenated Dogs list.

Player retention is currently a hot topic in the game, and one would think recruiting seven girls who had all played together under the very same coach they would look up to in their first AFLW season goes a long way to solving that issue. Indeed, new Dogs coach and former Sandringham/Vic Metro mentor Nathan Burke had a huge say in how his new side’s draft hand played out, and it saw his club remain a focal point carrying into the post-draft chat.

While the Brennan/Conti replacement theory is rather basic, wide-eyed and bubbly draftee Lagioia gave a similar analysis of how she might fit into the team alongside fellow outside runner, Georgostathis.

“Obviously there’s some pretty big shoes to fill,” she said. “I think working into it, we won’t be at that level this year but hopefully in the next few years we can really pay back what (the Bulldogs) have given us by taking us so early.”

“We’ve played together before, we’re quite similar players so maybe I’ll play on one wing and Liz will play on the other.”

“Obviously Gabby (Newton) and Nell (Morris-Dalton) are very close, they played at Northern and then we all played together at Vic Metro so it’s just really exciting to be able to stick together and go into a club where you know a lot of people already.”

Hailing from the Western region, Georgostathis’ sense of belonging at her new club comes two-fold, with the versatile runner proud to be the first Jet to find an AFLW home in 2019. Coming in alongside the likes of Lagoia, Newton and Morris-Dalton made the occasion that bit sweeter.

“Yeah I am (happy),” she said. “Being the first Western Jet girl is pretty good, the Jets have helped me so much over the past four years and I’m so grateful for them and all the development and all the staff there.”

“I’m sure the Bulldogs have a great development program and all they want is the best for the girls to help us develop into the future, not just this year but hopefully the next five years.”

“Seeing we’ve played with (Gabby and Nell) in the National Championships we know how they play and we all know how each other work a bit so we can use that on the field… I don’t know if Gem remembers but we played together in the Under-15 National Championships. “We didn’t know each other that well back then but then coming again this year and playing Vic Metro together, it’s pretty good and now playing Bulldogs with (Gemma) is really good.”

Rounding off the consensus sentiment among the new pups was number one pick Newton, who sounded a great advertisement for the Dogs’ tactics in the love shown for each teammate she is set to line up alongside for years to come.

“I love Nell, she’s one of my best friends,” she said. “All the girls drafted to the Doggies, Liz and Gem as well and Izzy Grant, they’re all such good friends. “I can’t believe we’re all going in together, it’s so exciting to have fresh faces in and around the club.”

The use of familiarity in building a future spine could prove to be one of the most fruitful draft strategies of recent times, but a lot has to play out until we can say so for sure. For now though, boy is the 2019 Bulldogs draft class chuffed with being reunited, ready to help Footscray find its way firmly back on the map.

Note: The Western Bulldogs also signed South Adelaide young gun and talented athlete Hannah Munyard today as a free agent.