Tag: gemma lagioia

Reserves wrap: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 7

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s returned for Round 7 on the weekend, with six fixtures split evenly across Saturday and Sunday. With the 2021 AFL Women’s season run and done, top flight players are now filing through the state league system at a greater rate, strengthening the eight aligned teams. We take you through how some of the standouts performed over the weekend in our Reserves Wrap.

>> Results: VFLW Round 7 wrap

Collingwood’s unblemished run rolled on as the Magpies accounted for Southern Saints for their seventh win of the year. Key forward Bella Smith was best afield for the victors, booting a game-high three goals having gained valuable senior experience in 2021. Another returning player, Maddie Shevlin notched 25 disposals, as twin talls Abbey Green (two goals) and Abbi Moloney (one) both hit the scoreboard in black and white.

First year Saints midfielder Alice Burke was easily the most prolific ball winner on the day, finishing with 35 disposals in arguably her best effort to date – at any level. Fellow youngster Molly McDonald (19 disposals, five marks) featured among the votes with Jacqui Vogt (14 disposals, eight tackles, one goal), as Poppy Kelly fared well in the ruck to win 30 hitouts.

While Hawthorn boasted some former AFLW talent of its own, the standalone was up against it as Casey fielded a strong crop of senior players in a 13-point win. Ruck prospect Maggie Caris looks primed to crack a senior berth next season having continued her terrific year in the twos, with another 11 disposals and 22 hitouts. Megan Fitzsimon and Mietta Kendall also featured, contributing 12 touches apiece, as Isabella Simmons booted a goal and Irishwoman Lauren Magee returned to the fold in handy form.

Geelong was another side to blood plenty of youth through its VFLW-aligned lineup, with senior players among the best afield in the Cats’ win over North Melbourne. Dynamic tall forward Olivia Barber booted an equal game-high three goals, as Laura Gardiner topped the disposal charts with 27. Sophie Van De Heuvel had it 22 times to join the aforementioned pair in Geelong’s votes, while Georgie Rankin (18 disposals, seven tackles) and Darcy Moloney (14 disposals, one goal) played their parts.

At the opposite end of the ground to Barber, first year ‘Roo Brooke Brown also snared three majors in another promising display. She was joined by Sarah Wright and Amy Smith in the side, with both finishing on 13 disposals in serviceable outings. Wright also got her hands dirty with nine tackles.

The Western Bulldogs snapped a long losing streak on Sunday, defeating Darebin Falcons with a side loaded up on elite level players. A bunch of them got among the goals too; Danielle Marshall led the way with three, while Gemma Lagioia and usual defender Eleanor Brown both snared two. Angelica Gogos (23 disposals, one goal) was named best afield in the win, while Amelia Van Oosterwijck was also among the productive brigade of senior stars to do damage in red, white, and blue.

In the round’s final game, Port Melbourne snuck home against Carlton to keep its perfect record in tact, with imposing Richmond forward Sabrina Frederick (two goals) leading the attack. For the Blues, Paige Trudgeon was awarded full votes for her 12 disposals and seven tackles, as Maddy Guerin led her side’s disposal count with 21, and Charlotte Hammans also earned votes. Among the other senior Blues to feature, Serena Gibbs took on some ruck duties with 11 hitouts to go with her 10 touches.

2021 VFLW Round 7 wrap: Dogs break five-game losing streak

WESTERN Bulldogs are back on the winners list in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition after snapping their five-game losing streak against Darebin Falcons on the weekend. The Dogs scored the highest score of any side this year with 14.9 (93), having only scored a total of 136 points in the opening five rounds. Collingwood and Port Melbourne remained undefeated after the latter executed a remarkable come-from-behind win over Carlton, while Essendon, Casey Demons and Geelong all kept touch with the top two after important victories over lower-ranked opposition.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 4.2 (26)
COLLINGWOOD 0.2 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 (41)

Collingwood has overcome a slow start to put the Southern Saints away at Trevor Barker Oval and remain undefeated from seven games. The Saints fired early to kick the first two goals of the game, but the Magpies took control with two goals in less than seven minutes in the second term to hit the front and never surrender the lead. The Saints kept pushing and did get within a point – and even within three points in the dying minutes of the match – but a couple of late majors to Bella Smith sealed the 15-point win for the Magpies, 6.5 (41) to 4.2 (26).

Smith’s three goals from 12 disposals and five marks was a highlight, with fellow ex-Norwood talent Matilda Zander again being productive with 16 disposals and nine tackles. Maddie Shevlin was the clear standout in terms of ball-winners for the black and white, as she amassed 25 disposals and four tackles. Jasmine Ferguson (18 disposals, five marks and seven tackles) and Caitlin Bunker (16 disposals, two marks seven tackles) won their fair share of the ball, while Abbey Green booted two majors and Olivia Meagher impressed at the level once again. For the Saints, Alice Burke went haywire with 35 disposals, seven marks and two tackles in a massive effort, whilst Madison Capsalis (25 disposals, six marks and nine tackles) and Molly McDonald (19 disposals, five marks) were not far behind. Poppy Kelly (15 disposals, 30 hitouts) had a day out in the ruck, as Tara Bohanna continued her good form in front of goal with 10 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six hitouts and two majors.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 2, J. Vogt, N. Robertson.
Collingwood: B. Smith 3, A. Green 2, A. Moloney.

BEST:

Southern Saints: M. Capsalis, T. Bohanna, L. Burke, M. McDonald, J. Vogt, V. Moreau
Collingwood: B. Smith, O. Meagher, J. Ferguson, D. Hallett, J. Guy, M. Shevlin

ESSENDON 1.4 | 2.5 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)

Essendon has notched up another win, this time by five goals over Williamstown despite some inaccurate kicking early on. The Bombers had 10 scoring shots to three in the opening three quarters, but only led 3.7 to 1.2, before kicking 3.2 to 1.1 in the final term to run away with the contest by 30 points.The Seagulls battled hard throughout, matching the Bombers in most areas, but could not quite have enough scoring chances to overrun them.

Calder Cannons youngster Zali Friswell kicked the first major of the game to finish with two goals from six touches and nine tackles for the home team, as Federica Frew was best-on thanks to 16 disposals, three tackles and 2.2. Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, six tackles) and Natalie Macdonald (17 disposals, five marks) were both busy, while Cecila McIntosh, Mia-Rae Clifford, Eloise Gardner and another Cannons youngster in Kasey Lennox were also named among the best. For the Seagulls, Ruby Tripodi had 20 disposals, five marks and two tackles, as Erin Meade (19 disposals, three marks and four tackles) and Aimee Whelan (18 disposals, 11 tackles) were also productive. Eliza Straford and Ella Baxter were also named in the Seagulls’ best after double-figure disposals and impact in the game.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 2, Z. Friswell 2, M. Clifford, A. Barba.
Williamstown: A. Whelan, M. Williamson

BEST:

Essendon: F. Frew, C. McIntosh, M. Clifford, E. Gardner, K. Lennox, Z. Friswell
Williamstown: E. Straford, E. Baxter, A. Whelan, E. McGrath, S. Dunell, M. Williamson

HAWTHORN 3.1 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 7.5 (47)
CASEY DEMONS 3.2 | 6.4 | 9.6 | 9.6 (60)

A six-goal haul from Imogen Milford has guided the Casey Demons to a tight 13-point victory over Hawthorn to stay in touch with the top four sides. The teams were evenly matched early in the game with Milford booting two in the first term, her third early in the second, then in the space of three minutes between the final moments of the second term and third minute of the fourth term, added another two goals, with her sixth midway through the third term blowing the lead out to a massive 32 points. The Hawks stormed home with 3.2 to 0.1 from that point onwards, but it would not be enough, going down 9.6 (60) to 7.5 (47).

Milford finished the day with 16 disposals, four marks, nine tackles and 6.1 for her troubles, as Eliza West continued her dominant ball-winning spree in 2021 with 28 disposals, three marks, six tackles and one goal. Maggie Caris impressed through the ruck with 22 hitouts to accompany her 11 disposals, while Shree Fairchild and Meg Macdonald were also named among the Demons’ best in the win. New (and former) Hawk Kristy Stratton made an impact in her first game back for the brown and gold since been delisted by Collingwood, picking up 16 disposals, laying five tackles and kicking a goal. Catherine Brown racked up 17 disposals and four tackles, with Dominique Carbone and Olivia Flanagan also busy, and Emily Gilder named best for the brown and gold.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: T. Luke 2, M. Hutchins, J. Williams, I. Khoury, K. Stratton, D. Carbone.
Casey: I. Milford 6, S. Johnson, E. West, I. Simmons.

BEST:

Hawthorn: E. Gilder, T. Luke, O. Flanagan, C. Bain, K. Stratton, I. Khoury
Casey: E. West, S. Fairchild, I. Milford, M. Macdonald, M. Caris, S. Johnson

GEELONG 2.1 | 4.5 | 6.6 | 7.6 (48)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.0 | 1.0 | 3.2 | 5.2 (32)

Geelong did enough to post a solid 16-point win over North Melbourne at Queen’s Park, winning the first half to build up a 23-point lead at the main break. The Cats were challenged in the second half, but managed to stop the Roos from piling on too many majors, and while the visitors did cut into the deficit, the home team got up, 7.6 (48) to 5.2 (32).

Olivia Barber booted three goals from 16 touches, five marks and nine hitouts in a promising performance, as Laura Gardiner found the ball at will thanks to 27 disposals and 11 tackles. Paige Sheppard (22 disposals, four marks and seven tackles) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (22 disposals, four tackles) also found plenty of the ball. Claudia Gunjaca booted a couple of majors off 12 touches, three marks and five tackles, while Darcy Moloney was another Cats AFLW-listed player who hit the scoreboard off 14 touches and four tackles. Meagan Kiely was the top ball winner for the Roos with 23 disposals, seven marks and eight tackles, ahead of Sarah Skinner (22 disposals, five marks and five tackles). Fellow Tasmanian Brooke Brown kicked the three goals from 17 disposals up forward, while Alexia Hamilton was also impressive through the ruck with 14 disposals, 14 hitouts and eight tackle.

GOALS:

Geelong: O. Barber 3, C. Gunjaca 2, D. Moloney, M. Maguire.
North: B. Brown 3, L. Wright, A. Runnalls.

BEST:

Geelong: P. Sheppard, L. Gardiner, C. Gunjaca, O. Barber, M. Maguire, S. Van De Heuvel
North: B. Brown, A. Hamilton, S. Skinner, M. Kiely, A. Runnalls, R. Hicks

DAREBIN 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 (24)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 6.1 | 7.4 | 9.8 | 14.9 (93)

The return of a number of AFL Women’s listed players helped the Western Bulldogs boot the highest score of the season and snap a five-game losing streak in the process. Slotting six goals to one in the opening term, the visiting side all but won it in the opening 20 minutes. The Falcons were strong over the next couple of quarters, refusing to give in and keeping touch with the Dogs, before a five goals to one final term blew the margin out to 69 points as the Bulldogs won 14.9 (93) to 4.0 (24).

Angelica Gogos returned for her first game this season and had an impact with 23 disposals, six tackles and a goal, teaming up well with the classy Gemma Lagioia (22 disposals, three marks and 2.2). Eleanor Brown also came into the side and kicked a couple of late goals after being an interceptor in the back half, finishing with 16 disposals, seven marks and two majors. Western Jets youngster Jemima Woods made a sterling debut with three goals, the same as Danielle Marshall, while Mary Sandral slotted the two goals. The Dogs also did well defensively with Gogos one of three players – with teenagers Brooke Hards (nine tackles) and Lilli Condon (five) – who recorded their fair share of tackles. Ex-Bulldog Nicole Callinan racked up a match-high 29 disposals, 10 marks and five tackles, with Samara David capitalising on her chances up forward with three goals, and Ashleigh Gunn lively with 18 disposals, five marks and three tackles. Lauren Camilleri was the benchmark for tackles with 10, while Cannons’ youngster Peppa Poultney stood up with 10 touches and two marks playing mostly forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck.

GOALS:

Darebin: S. David 3, A. Caddy.
Western Bulldogs: J. Woods 3, D. Marshall 3, G. Lagioia 2, M. Sandral 2, E. Brown 2, A. van Oosterwijck, A. Gogos.

BEST:

Darebin: S. David, A. Gunn, P. Poultney, K. McNiece, M. Huta, V. Smiljanic
Western Bulldogs: A. Gogos , K. Betts, A. Tessari, G. Lagioia, M. Sandral, E. Brown

PORT MELBOURNE 0.0 | 3.2 | 6.4 | 7.4 (46)
CARLTON 3.0 | 5.1 | 6.3 | 6.4 (40)

Port Melbourne faced its stiffest task to-date in the VFL Women’s 2021 season, having to overcome a 13-point deficit to Carlton late in the third term – after trailing by three goals at quarter time – to eventually come from behind and win by a goal. The Borough kicked the winning goal six minutes into the final term when Claire Dyett converted a major and then the home team held on in a titanic struggle to take home their seventh win of the season, 7.4 (46) to 6.4 (40).

Phillipa Peschke had the most touches for the winners with 22 disposals, three marks and 10 tackles, teaming up well through the midfield with Mel Kuys (20 disposals, three marks and three tackles. Ex-Blue Bridie Kennedy shone against her former side with 10 disposals and five tackles, while Dyett, Elizabeth Wilson and Courteney Bromage were all named among the best. Sabrina Frederick kicked another two goals from 13 touches and three marks, while Oakleigh Chargers’ teenager Taylah Morton had the 10 touches and three tackles in the win. Maddy Guerin won plenty of the ball for Carlton in defeat, picking up 21 disposals, seven marks and nine tackles, while Paige Trudgeon (12 disposals, seven tackles) and Charli Linssen (16 disposals, four tackles) also stood out. Amelia Klingbeil laid a whopping 12 tackles, while Olivia Madden (17 disposals) and Winnie Laing (14) also found their fair share of the ball.

GOALS:

Port: S. Frederick 2, C. Dyett, E. Wilson, H. Bailey, N. Borg, A. Tanner.
Carlton: A. Peterson 2, S. Lawrence, B. Gurr, C. Jones, E. Mangan

BEST:

Port: B. Kennedy, C. Dyett, E. Wilson, C. Bromage, A. Tanner, B. Ousley
Carlton: P. Trudgeon, C. Linssen, M. Guerin, C. Hammans, S. Lawrence, A. Klingbeil

2021 VFLW Round 7 preview: Dogs and Darebin eye off second win in bottom two clash

A BOTTOM two clash between Western Bulldogs and Darebin Falcons will see the winner escape the bottom of the table, whilst the Southern Saints and Collingwood clash for a second time and are set to have a beauty of a contest.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, April 17 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Despite Collingwood joining the rest of the Victorian-based AFL Women’s teams in being eliminated from the finals series, the Magpies have resisted massive changes to the state league side, with Bella Smith and Joanna Lin among those included in the forward half, with other existing AFL Women’s players including Maddie Shevlin, Abbey Green, Amelia Velardo, Imogen Purcell and Abbi Moloney in the team. They currently sit undefeated at the top of the table, with a tough clash down at Trevor Barker Beach Oval against the Southern Saints. Dandenong Stingrays tall Zoe Hill is set to make her debut for the side, alongside the likes of other teenagers in Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis who have established themselves in the side. Molly McDonald is a huge inclusion for the Saints at half-back to create some run, and with Tara Bohanna and Gabriella De Angelis up forward, the home team certainly has the capacity to inflict the Magpies’ first loss of the season. Eastern Ranges youngster Olivia Meagher is among the ones to watch in the black and white, as the Magpies eye off making it seven straight wins.

ESSENDON vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

One of the teams looking to keep in touch with the top two sides is Essendon, after the Bombers came from behind to defeat Hawthorn last week at Box Hill. They managed to do it without star midfielder Georgia Nanscawen who succumbed to injury early in the match, and they will need to do it again without her, relying on the likes of Alana Barba, Courtney Ugle and Eloise Ashley-Cooper in the midfield. Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell returns to the red and black in a five-day turnaround from a successful outing for Vic Country, with Calder Cannons duo Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell remaining in the side. Williamstown stand between Essendon and the Bombers’ fifth win, with the Seagulls not far off the top six despite having just the two wins from six games. The midfield trio of Ashlea Melnikas, Megan Williamson and Aimee Whelan will be hard to beat, with Scarlett Dunnell up forward and Erin Meade in defence among the others to keep an eye out for in the blue and gold. Even without Nanscawen, Essendon will be favoured to get up here at home, but the Seagulls will give them a run for their money.

HAWTHORN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Speaking of Hawthorn at Box Hill, the brown and gold are back again, this time hosting a Casey Demons side looking to bounce back having lost their past two games to the Magpies and Cats. The home team was able to include some AFL Women’s talent last week with the entire half-back line having that experience in Georgia Bevan, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch. However perhaps the most interesting inclusion is former Magpie Kristy Stratton who has been named on the bench after playing for the undefeated Pies throughout the season. Much like Luke and von Bertouch, she has moved to the Bec Goddard-coached Hawks. Up the other end, Meg Hutchins has been a terrific leader with some youngsters inside 50, such as Eastern Ranges’ co-captain Eloise Chaston who kicked the only goal for her side last week. Matilda Hardy is back into the team with Isabelle Khoury and Ruby O’Dwyer some Ranges to hold their places, while Northern Territory talent Dominique Carbone is another one to watch for the home team. For the Demons, Maggie Caris, Megan Fitzsimon, Mietta Kendall and Isabella Simmons are among the future of the red and blue having been picked up in last year’s draft, whilst Emma Humphries‘ experience is crucial, much like defender Alison Brown in the back 50. Casey should be too strong, but the Hawks will give it a red hot crack at home.

GEELONG vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, April 18 @ 11:30am
Queens Park

Some Vic Country youngsters will return for the Cats as they field their strongest side to-date in the Round 7 encounter against North Melbourne. The Cats will be keen to keep in touch with the top two, and should do so against a Kangaroos side that is 2-4 and coming off a loss to the previously winless Darebin Falcons. Annie Lee and Renee Tierney return to the Cats’ VFL Women’s side after playing on Monday, with the side well stacked with AFL Women’s talent. Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Sophie Van De Heuvel in the midfield is the future AFL Women’s midfield, whilst Georgia Clarke, Olivia Barber and Stephanie Williams in attack makes the Cats a potent team when in transition. The Kangaroos remain without a great deal of AFL Women’s talent, instead focusing on the development aspect of the side with Amy Smith and Brooke Brown a couple of listed players in attack, while Sarah Skinner is always a threat inside 50. Molly Eastman and Tarni Nestor will try and contain the Cats’ forward line, while Katelyn Cox will have a great battle with Moloney and Gardiner throughout the day. Geelong should take the match fairly comfortably being at home with a pretty impressive outfit.

DAREBIN vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, April 18 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

A potential match of the round at the other end of the ladder is the one between Darebin Falcons and Western Bulldogs, with both sides sitting at 1-5 for the season. A loss here will really hurt finals hopes, whilst a win keeps the victor in the hunt if they can build momentum in the second half of the season. Coming off a four-goal haul to help her side over the line, Stephanie Simpson will be looking for much of the same for the Falcons. It will be a tough ask against the strongest looking Bulldogs defence all year, with AFL Women’s talents, Eleanor Brown and Isabella Grant, the consistent rock in Simone Ruedin, speedy teenager Brooke Hards and natural ball-winner Katelyn Betts, both of the latter whom have moved into new roles of late. Up the other end, Nell Morris-Dalton has returned to the fold, with Gemma Lagioia and Amelia van Oosterwijck also there, and Isabelle Pritchard rounding out the AFL Women’s contingent. For the Falcons, ex-Bulldog Nicole Callinan was impressive in her first game back and will be a key player in the defence alongside consistent defender Gena Lawson-Tavan. Up the other end, Alyssa Mifsud kicked three goals a couple of rounds back, so between her and Simpson, they have the potential to put some high scores on the board, while Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is another youngster in the side. The Western Bulldogs side is arguably the strongest of the year and should take care of Darebin, but the Dogs cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 18 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Port Melbourne will look to continue its winning streak up against Carlton at ETU Stadium, with Cleo Saxon-Jones named at full-back this week. Up the opposite end is Sabrina Frederick who slotted two goals on debut against Western Bulldogs last week, and will look to provide the smalls of NAB League-listed talents Kate Adams and Taylah Morton in there, whilst Mel Kuys through the midfield is a crucial player. Ex-Carlton talent Bridie Kennedy is back into the side to take on her former team, while Pip Peschke and Courteney Bromage are other key midfielders to watch. Carlton has got a solid contingent of AFL Women’s talent in the team, with Serena Gibbs, Courtney Jones and Winnie Laing all named inside 50, while Charlotte Hammans and Maddy Guerin are up the other end. Akayla Peterson has been named in the back pocket in the opposite side to Ally Bild in a strong last line, while over-age talent Amber Micallef and ex-Northern Knights speedster Marnie Jarvis are also in the side, named on the bench. Port Melbourne should have too much about them at home, but the Borough will be wary of a Blues outfit wanting to lift their efforts from last round when they went goalless against the Magpies at Victoria Park.

2021 VFLW Round 6 wrap: Falcons break winless drought

ALL teams in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition have now recorded a victory in season 2021, after Darebin Falcons defeated North Melbourne at Arden Street by 12 points on Saturday. The victory meant the Falcons joined both Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs on one win, as as other bottom six sides Williamstown and the Kangaroos also suffered defeats.

At the other end of the ladder, Collingwood had a huge defensive effort in the wet against Carlton to knock the Blues out of the top six, whilst Port Melbourne, Essendon and Geelong all celebrated wins, the latter in a tight victory holding on against Casey Demons at Casey fields to leap frog the Demons into fourth spot.

HAWTHORN 0.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.10 (16)
ESSENDON 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 4.5 (29)

Picking themselves off the canvas after skipper Georgia Nanscawen‘s injury left them without a star midfielder, Essendon ground out a win at Box Hill City Oval against Hawthorn by 13 points. The Bombers started the stronger of the two sides thanks to a goal from Mia-Rae Clifford, but it was Hawthorn who managed to put all the scores on the board over the next two terms. The home team could not capitalise through the big sticks, with only Eloise Chaston‘s second quarter major the sole six-pointer. It meant the Hawks led by five points at the final break, but a flurry of three goals in the final term saw the Bombers overrun the Hawks and sit pretty in third spot.

Despite Nanscawen going down, it was the field tackling of Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper (22 tackles apiece) who provided the grunt work, and Lori Stepnell, Eloise Gardner and Cecilia McIntosh who held up in the overcast conditions. Hawthorn had plenty of chances, with Eastern Ranges duo, Isabel Khoury (22 disposals, seven tackles) and Eloise Chaston (14 disposals, three marks, 1.3) lively, with the pair kicking 1.5 of the Hawks’ 1.10 score between them. Jess Grace shared the ruck work with Kate Dudley and Tamara Luke, while Gold Coast Suns’ Georgia Bevan teamed up with her ex-Crows coach Bec Goddard to have an impact for the team in a losing side.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: E. Chaston.
Essendon: M. Clifford 2, N. MacDonald, F. Frew.

BEST:

Hawthorn: T. Luke, E. Chaston, I. Khoury, N. Garner, N. von Bertouch, G. Bevan
Essendon: L. Stepnell, E. Gardner, C. McIntosh, A. Morcom, E. Ashley-Cooper, S. Nalder

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 5.5 (35)
WILLIAMSTOWN 3.0 | 3.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 (25)

Having their work cut out for them early, and forced to come from behind, the Southern Saints also had a strong final term to boot the only two goals of the last term to run over the top of a gallant Williamstown at Trevor Barker Oval. The Seagulls burst out of the blocks in the first half, with three goals kicked in 13 minutes to lead by 12 at the first break, before the home team clawed their way back into it. Tayla Kearns‘ second goal five minutes into the third term put the Saints back up, before Lauren Gooden responded nine minutes later with her own second major to regain the lead at the final break for the Seagulls. Back-to-back goals to the Saints through Tara Bohanna and Gabi De Angelis in the final term saw the home team come from behind and secure the win in front of home fans.

Bohanna was sensation across the forward half with a goal and 13 hitouts from 22 disposals, whilst it was the defensive strength of Jacqui Vogt (11 tackles, 17 disposals), and class in front of goal from De Angelis (14 disposals, five tackles, 2.2) that stood out. Rebecca Neaves and Kearns also stood out, while Ebony Nixon and AFL Women’s Saint, Alice Burke found plenty of it. For the Seagulls, Megan Williamson was again the top-ball winner with 20 touches, whilst it was Ruby Tripodi (16 disposals, three tackles), Scarlett Dunell (19 disposals, four tackles) and Aimee Whelan (19 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) who supported the team strongly.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Kearns 2, G. De Angelis 2, T. Bohanna.
Williamstown: L. Gooden 2, E. Fox, A. Whelan.

BEST:

Southern Saints: J. Vogt, R. Neaves, M. Capsalis, G. De Angelis, T. Kearns, G. McLean
Williamstown: R. Tripodi, E. Straford, L. Gooden, L. Loughnane, P. Nash, A. Whelan

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 | 4.6 (30)
DAREBIN FALCONS 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)

A match between two bottom four sides, including a winless one, is not a match you particularly expect to keep you on the edge of your seat, but that is exactly what North Melbourne and Darebin did at Arden Street on Saturday. The teams were neck-and-neck in the first half, with the Kangaroos taking the one-point lead into half-time of the huge clash, but the Falcons, led by Stephanie Simpson (four goals) up forward, kept pressing to take a 13-point lead into the final break. Each time the Falcons kicked away with a major, the Kangaroos would answer it in the final term, but they could not bridge the gap with the Falcons getting up by 12 points in the end, 6.6 (42) to 4.6 (30).

Simpson’s four goals in a combined 10-goal game was hard to look past for the Falcons in a super effort, whilst Alice Caddy and Samara David also stood out in the win. Nicole Callinan provided the experience coming back into the side, as Victoria Blackwood was also a strong contributor to break the Falcons’ drought in season 2021. Alexia Hamilton slotted two crucial goals for the Roos in defeat, while Molly Eastman, Airlie Runnalls and Katelyn Cox were named the Roos’ best in the win, as the defence did well, but not enough to secure the four points.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: A. Hamilton 2, S. Skinner, C. Fitzgerald.
Darebin Falcons: S. Simpson 4, C. Byrne, A. Reibelt.

BEST:

North Melbourne: M. Eastman, A. Runnalls, K. Cox, M. Kiely, M. McDonald, A. Hamilton
Darebin Falcons: A. Caddy, S. David, N. Callinan, S. Simpson, V. Blackwood, M. Huta

PORT MELBOURNE 2.0 | 4.4 | 4.4 | 6.7 (43)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

Port Melbourne has continued streak to post a comfortable 35-point win over Western Bulldogs at ETU Stadium, moving to 6-0 for the season and handing the Bulldogs a fifth straight loss. The visitors were strong early, and even kept the home team at bay in the third term as the Dogs’ defence starred, but a couple of final term goals just pushed the final margin out to beyond five goals thanks to some strong efforts from Richmond-listed talents in the 6.7 (43) to 1.2 (8) victory.

Sabrina Frederick showed her strength and experience against state-level defenders with two goals from six marks and nine touches, and Emily Harley racked up 16 disposals, three marks and a goal in the win. Holly Bailey also slotted two goals, while Phillipa Peschke had a day of leather poisoning with 25 disposals to accompany her three marks, three tackles and a goal. Courteney Bromage 17 disposals, 11 tackles), Olivia Barton (19 disposals) and Elizabeth Wilson were also strong in the win. Oakleigh Chargers’ Taylah Morton had the 14 touches and three tackles on debut. For the Western Bulldogs, the return of Isabella Grant (15 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Isabelle Pritchard (14 disposals, three marks and three tackles) and Gemma Lagioia (11 disposals, four marks) added that extra run and class they were looking for, while Annabel Scott (20 disposals, six tackles) and Molly Denahy Maloney (17 disposals, six marks and 13 hitouts) also found plenty of it. GWV Rebels’ Lilli Condon was outstanding in the first half, and finished with 10 disposals, three marks and five tackles.

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 2, H. Bailey 2, P. Peschke, E. Harley.
Western Bulldogs: M. Sandral.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: E. Harley, O. Barton, E. Wilson, H. Bailey, C. Bromage, S. McNamara
Western Bulldogs: M. Denahy Maloney, A. Tessari, I. Pritchard, V. Murphy, I. Grant, L. Condon

CASEY DEMONS 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 4.6 (30)
GEELONG 1.1 | 3.1 | 5.2 | 5.2 (32)

Geelong managed to hold its nerve against a fast-finishing Casey Demons outfit at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon, getting up by two points in the contest. The returning AFL Women’s listed players hit the scoreboard early, with Carly Remmos, Darcy Moloney, Georgia Clarke and Laura Gardiner booting their first four goals of the contest, leading by 15 points at three quarter time courtesy of Madisen Maguire‘s fifth team goal. Isabella Simmons did her best in the final term to boot two fourth quarter majors, but it would not be enough as the home team fell two points short, 4.6 (30) to 5.2 (32).

Breanna Pratt led the way for the Cats with 22 disposals, nine marks and six tackles, working in tandem with in-form Theresia Meissner 20 disposals, four marks) and Paige Sheppard (19 disposals, 10 tackles). The return of Moloney (16 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Gardiner (13 disposals, 13 tackles and a goal) and Remmos (13 disposals, five tackles and a goal) was noticeable in the win. Olivia Fuller also dominated the ruck with 28 hitouts to accompany nine disposals and six tackles. For the Demons, ball-winning midfielder Eliza West racked up 23 disposals and four tackles, while Simmons’ two goals from 17 touches and five tackles was an outstanding effort from the youngster. Fellow teenagers, Megan Fitzsimon (16 disposals, nine tackles) and Mietta Kendall (14 disposals, four tackles) also had their fair share of the ball, with Shree Fairchild named best-on for the Demons with 18 disposals and nine tackles, and Meg Macdonald and Emma Humphries also strong.

GOALS:

Casey: I. Simmons 2, H. Thomas, E. Humphries
Geelong: C. Remmos, G. Clarke, D. Moloney, L. Gardiner, M. Maguire

BEST:

Casey: S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, M. Macdonald, E. Humphries, B. Winbanks, E. West
Geelong: T. Meissner, O. Fuller, D. Moloney, B. Pratt, T. Tatlock, C. Remmos

COLLINGWOOD 1.4 | 1.5 | 2.9 | 2.10 (22)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.4 (4)

Collingwood has taken care of traditional rivals Carlton to remain undefeated from six matches in the VFL Women’s competition, keeping the Blues to just four behinds in wet and windy conditions. The Victoria Park venue gave Pies fans the chance to cheer on their heroes and there was plenty to cheer as they kept Carlton scoreless from three quarters, whilst kicking the only two goals of the match. Conditions made goalkicking difficult, and it showed with a dominant 12 scoring shots to four, but a 2.10 (22) to 0.4 (4) final scoreboard.

Tricia Cowan and Mollie Emond were the only players to eventually split the big the sticks for the Magpies, as plenty of players had their chances inside 50. Caitlin Bunker was outstanding for the black and whites in the win, as Maria Neal and Amelia Velardo looked lively, and Nicola Weston was also named in the Magpies’ best on the day. It was a challenging day for any forwards, but particularly Carlton’s forwards in enemy territory, but they had a number of standout players. Akayla Peterson continued her great form in 2021 named Carlton’s best alongside the AFLW-listed Maddy Guerin. Tereza Zampaglione and Stephanie Lawrence were also strong in defeat, as the Blues moved to a 3-2 record and slipped just outside the top six, while Collingwood maintained touch with Port Melbourne at the top of the table.

GOALS:

Collingwood: T. Cowan, M. Emond.
Carlton: Nil.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Bunker, M. Neal, A. Velardo, T. Cowan, M. Emond, N. Weston
Carlton: A. Peterson, M. Guerin, T. Zampaglione, S. Lawrence, E. Honybun, J. Borg

2021 VFLW Round 6 preview: Youngsters and AFLW talent filter into state competition

ROUND 6 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition commences tomorrow with a number of AFL Women’s and NAB League Girls players entering the competition for the first time this season.

HAWTHORN vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, April 10 @ 10am
Box Hill City Oval

In a battle between a couple of traditional rivals, Essendon will travel to Box Hill to take on Hawthorn in what is anticipated to be a great clash for the sides early tomorrow morning. The Hawks have been bolstered by Eastern Ranges talents Jess Grace, Isabelle Khoury, Eloise Chaston and Ruby O’Dwyer, with the likes of Jemma Owen, Amy Malander and Chloe O’Malley among the outs. Calder Cannons and Vic Metro representatives Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell come into the Essendon side, as Elisabeth Hosking also returns to the team with an extended bench. The Bombers can put pressure on the top four sides with a win, and will leap frog one side with a victory, given third and fourth placed Geelong and Casey Demons do battle later in the afternoon.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Saturday, April 10 @ 10am
Trevor Barker Oval

With the AFL Women’s season over, Southern Saints have brought back some serious talent into its VFL Women’s side to try and rejoin the top half of the table with a third win this season. Both sides sit at 2-3 from five rounds, and the likes of Alice Burke, Molly McDonald, Jacqui Vogt and Poppy Kelly all coming back into the team, with Nadia von Bertouch, Melanie Bertuna and Tamara Luke are among the outs. For the Seagulls, Paige Nash and Elizabeth McGrath return into the side, as Asha Price and Chloe Leighton are among those out of the team for this match. If the Seagulls get up, they will then overtake the Saints on the table and balance their own ledger at 3-3.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, April 10 @ 2pm
Arden Street

Back at their spiritual home ground at Arden Street, North Melbourne will eye off going back-to-back for the first time this season if they can get past the winless Darebin Falcons. The. Roos have opted to keep a relatively VFL-focused outfit with Laura Amelung, Olivia Woods and Nadia Moore into the time, as Tahni Nestor and Allies representative at the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships Jayde Hamilton go out of the side. For the Falcons, Sidney Cubasch will slot straight back into the ruck, whilst Nicole Callinan is another important inclusion in defence. North Melbourne will start as favourites, but both sides have a chance in this one.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, April 10 @ 2pm
ETU Stadium

Two sides utilising the return of AFL Women’s talent, the unbeaten Port Melbourne will hope to make it six wins on the trot against a Western Bulldogs side desperately hoping to avoid a fifth straight loss. The Borough have welcomed in Richmond tall forward Sabrina Frederick, as well as Tiger talents Laura McClelland and Sarah Sansonetti. Oakleigh Chargers’ Taylah Morton will also run around in the forward pocket, while Luka Lesosky-Hay, Hannah McLaren and Phoebe Monahan are among the outs. For the Western Bulldogs, Isabelle Pritchard, Gemma Lagioia and Annabel Scott return to the team replacing fellow AFL Women’s listed players Bailey Hunt and Annabel Strahan. GWV Rebels midfielder Lilli Condon will make her debut for the Western Bulldogs, whilst Western Jets’ Nikita Wright also returns to the side.

CASEY DEMONS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, April 10 @ 3pm
Casey Fields

Whilst most sides are able to welcome back some AFL Women’s talent, the still-alive Melbourne AFL Women’s side does not have that luxury, instead having to use their depth against a Geelong Cats side that has brought in some young guns for the Casey Fields clash. Carly Remmos, Georgie Rankin, Madisen Maguire, Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner are all named in the team to inject some serious talent in the midfield and around the ground, while Madeleine Boyd and Stephanie Williams are among the outs for the Cats. The Demons have recalled Georgia Howes and Monica Haraimiuk among others, while Niamh McEvoy, Grace Buchan, Maggie Caris and Chantelle Emonson are all among the outs for the home side.

COLLINGWOOD vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 11 @ 2pm
Victoria Park

Traditional rivals Collingwood and Carlton do battle in a standalone clash at Victoria Park on Sunday with both teams making a host of changes. The Magpies are also still alive in the AFL Women’s competition and have lost the listed Kristy Stratton, whilst recalling Abbi Moloney as well as Eastern Ranges’ Olivia Meagher among a host of ins. For the Blues, Winnie Laing is out of the side, but Carlton-listed Charlotte Hammans and Maddy Guerin are returning to the side with Marnie Jarvis and Jasmine Ware in what will be a game the Blues eye off as a way to continue their form of late and record their fourth win. Sitting equal top with Port Melbourne, the Magpies will want to maintain the gap on the chasing pack below them with a victory.

AFL Women’s draftee watch: Round 9 – Young guns make a statement in final home-and-away round

THE final round of the AFL Women’s home and away season saw youngsters from each team given one last chance to showcase their form whilst a few more will get extra weeks to put their best foot forward during finals footy. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared across the latest weekend, focusing on players in every match under 21 years of age selected from the most recent draft crop.

Western Bulldogs vs. Richmond

It took a tough effort from the Bulldogs to overcome the Tigers on Friday night, and it took strong form from a couple of young guns throughout to really stay ahead of the hungry Tiges. for the winning side, Elisabeth Georgostathis was tasked with tagging out Monique Conti and did so impressively, whilst Nell Morris-Dalton booted her first career goal in the opening term in her best AFLW output yet. Gabby NewtonGemma LaGioia and Isabelle Pritchard all managed 10-plus touches, while Jess Fitzgerald could not find the big sticks but managed nine touches and five tackles. For the yellow and black, Sophie Molan and Ellie McKenzie continue to impress, with the later clutching a huge mark over the back of Brooke Lochland in the second which could come into mark of the year contention, while Maddy Brancatisano managed 10 touches and five tackles.

North Melbourne vs. Fremantle

North sewed up a finals berth with their Round 9 one-point victory over the Dockers, with a Daisy Bateman major assisting the Roos to a critical lead with less than 10 on the clock – a goal which ended up being the sealer. A seven-touch and four-mark effort from Bella Eddey saw the 19-year-old put on one of her better performances this season, while Mia King produced another solid effort. Docker Bianca Webb put on her best effort to-date with 12 touches and seven tackles as Mim StromRoxy Roux and Sarah Verrier put on strong performances in a disappointing outing for Fremantle.

Melbourne vs. Brisbane

The Dees clung for dear life onto victory to claim a home final, with crucial back-to-back goals from Alyssa Bannan and Tyla Hanks in the final term to clinch the win. Eliza McNamara may not have had the footy as much as past weeks with 11 touches of the footy but was clean with ball in hand and did not relent, while Brenna Tarrant held onto her spot on the list and did not disappoint off the backline. For the Lions, livewire Courtney Hodder produced a superb running goal to spark her side into action as Isabel Dawes found the footy 11 times to go with five tackles as Indy Tahau also got hands to the footy.

Gold Coast Suns vs. Geelong

Geelong won its first match of the season in style, defeating the Suns by 17 points as young gun Laura Gardiner showcased what she is capable of with 18 disposals and seven tackles as Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Barber both put on promising performances with 13 and 10 disposals respectively. Gold Coast’s Maddison Levi and Lucy Single plied their trade well while Wallis Randell and Dee Heslop were kept relatively quiet in a disappointing end to the Suns’ season.

Adelaide Crows vs. Collingwood

The Crows reigned supreme to win the minor premiership off the back of this victory, with its experienced faces making the mark in this encounter. Nevertheless, the likes of Teah Charlton remained consistent in her ninth straight match for the side, putting a goal on the board from her seven touches and two tackles. For the Pies, Mikala Cann continues to put her best foot forward with an equal-career-high 15 touches again this round while Tarni Brown (11 touches and four tackles) and Joanna Lin (nine) both plied their trade in the loss.

GWS Giants vs. Carlton

The Blues pipped GWS at the post in the two sides’ final match of the season, with Maddy Prespakis dominating once more to close her second impressive season. With 27 touches, Prespakis led the charge as Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles) and Lucy McEvoy (eight and seven) continued their respective solid strings of form. GIANTS’ Georgia Garnett and Tarni Evans combined for 17 disposals and seven tackles between them.

West Coast vs. St Kilda

It was the young-gun show as the Saints ran down the Eagles to complete the home-and-away season, with Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith driving the side home. Patrikios’ 30-disposal effort was a career-high to lead all comers, as Smith was next in line with 24 while Alice Burke (12 touches) put on her best performance yet, as Jess Matin piled on the offensive pressure with three goals from 11 disposals. Eagles developing talent Mikayla Bowen showcased her footy nous with 22 touches and five tackles, whilst Bella Lewis and Amber Ward both put imposing stats on the board in a great effort from the young stars.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Kelly Defina/AFL Photos

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 2 preview – Pioneer Blues and Bulldogs open Pride Round

PRIDE is the theme of Round 2 in the 2021 AFL Women’s season, as the competition holds its inaugural Pride Round. The Western Bulldogs and Carlton, who have previously hosted annual Pride matches, will open the weekend’s action on Friday night as the remaining fixtures fall into place after multiple shake-ups. Remarkably, all seven games are set to go ahead in the rejigged round, with results as important as ever among the continual pandemic-produced unpredictability.

Note: All start times are local

Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton
Friday February 5, 7:45pm
Whitten Oval

Western Bulldogs and Carlton kick off Pride Round at Whitten Oval on Friday night, marking a historic and important event on the AFL Women’s calendar. Both sides remain searching for their first wins in 2021 after opening round losses, with a dreaded 0-2 start awaiting the team which goes down once again.

Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke has enacted four changes to the side which lost to St Kilda, with young pups Gemma Lagioia and Britney Gutknecht among the casualties. Carlton has been forced into just one change, as key defender Mua Laloifi misses through the updated concussion protocols and is replaced by Jess Edwards at half-back.

Laloifi’s absence may open the door for the Dogs to excel in attack, leaving Charlotte Wilson to shoulder a heap of intercept work against a forwardline spearheaded by Izzy Huntington. But the ball will have to get there first, with Carlton’s hardened midfield out to prove a point having been definitively blitzed by Collingwood in the second term last time out.

Tip: The Bulldogs are slowly finding their feet, but the Blues should come out firing after a shock loss. Wet weather will play a factor in the margin, Blues by 11.

Collingwood vs. Geelong
Saturday February 6, 3:10pm
Victoria Park

A fixture shuffle has seen Collingwood and Geelong land each other in Round 2, with football returning to the Magpies’ spiritual home of Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon. The Cats are coming off a 62-point drubbing at the hands of North Melbourne, while Collingwood opened the season with an impressive upset victory over traditional rival, Carlton, making for very contrasting formlines.

The Magpies’ midfield was excellent last time out and a new-look forwardline featuring Chloe Molloy and Bri Davey looks poised for more success in 2021. One of the Cats’ best lines is its defence though, with skipper Meghan McDonald supported well by the likes of Maddy McMahon, Amy McDonald, and Millie Brown.

Collingwood will be without recruit Aliesha Newman after she was handed a one-week ban for her sling tackle on Carlton’s Laloifi, but the Pies’ confidence should be sky high nonetheless. On the other hand, Geelong will have to quickly pick up the pieces to recover here, especially after an impotent display forward of centre in Round 1.

Tip: Collingwood looks set to be one of the big risers in 2021 and while Geelong has potential, its young side will likely work in peaks and troughs. Another trough here for the Cats, Pies by 23.

Melbourne vs. Richmond
Saturday February 6, 5:10pm
Casey Fields

Riding the wave of a Round 1 win, Melbourne hosts Richmond at Casey Fields on Saturday night looking to go two from two. Both sides took on Queensland teams last week but came out with contrasting results; as the Dees clicked into gear after quarter time to trump Gold Coast, while Richmond could only hang with Brisbane for a half before giving way in a five-goal loss.

The Lions may have uncovered a continued area of weakness for Richmond after tagging Monique Conti out of the first half, with Melbourne’s engine room typically an area of depth and prosperity. The Dees should again thrive in the midfield battle, though look for the likely tussle between first year jets Ellie McKenzie and Eliza McNamara to provide great entertainment on the outer.

Melbourne could quickly stake its claim for another finals berth should it string together some early wins, but the Tigers have shown signs of improvement and will hardly go down easily. Still searching for their maiden AFLW win, the Tigers have plenty to play for and will hope to avoid being the league’s cellar dweller for a second year running.

Tip: Melbourne looks a side determined to keep touch with the true premiership contenders, but cannot be caught lacking against the hungry Tigers. Still, the red and blue side should be too good all around the ground, Dees by 27.

North Melbourne vs. St Kilda
Sunday February 7, 1:10pm
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne will be out to build on its formidable early form, if possible, when St Kilda rolls into Arden Street Oval for their Sunday afternoon clash. The Roos set a high ceiling with their maiden 2021 performance, which yielded the greatest opening round percentage in AFL/AFLW history. St Kilda is also in winning form, though having shaken off the Western Bulldogs in Moorabbin.

It is no secret that North Melbourne bats a ridiculously deep midfield, boasting arguably the most damaging brigade of ball winners in the competition. St Kilda’s young pair of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith will do their best to match the forward run-and-carry of North’s prime movers, especially after such promising showings last week.

North Melbourne has plenty of avenues to goal, with rotating ruck Emma King back to her scoring ways after three goals last week, while the Saints also showed they will not be entirely dependant on spearhead Caitlin Greiser to kick a winning score. Matching the Roos’ firepower will be tough, but could be manageable depending on the conditions and North Melbourne’s mood.

Tip: St Kilda will likely provide a much greater test for North and should stick with them in patches, but do not quite have the stock to go with a switched-on blue and white outfit for four quarters, Roos by 21.

Brisbane vs. Gold Coast
Sunday February 7, 2:10pm
Hickey Park

The second-ever AFL Women’s Q-Clash is set to go down on Sunday afternoon, as the Lions and Suns meet at Hickey Park having initially been poised against Victorian opponents. The makeshift fixture should provide fireworks, with last year’s inaugural all-Queensland dig ending in an enthralling draw, meaning bragging rights are well and truly up for grabs here.

Brisbane will look to replicate last year’s early run of form with a second win on the trot, while Gold Coast is still out to open its account for the season after an opening round loss to Melbourne. Both sides boast some terrific young talent, with the Lions’ Isabel Dawes fresh off a best-afield performance, and Gold Coast’s Kalinda Howarth hungry to hit the scoreboard after a goalless outing last week.

The experience is also there, headlined by Brisbane’s strong foundation crop – which may soon be bolstered by Jess Wuetschner – and opposed by Gold Coast’s new-look forwardline, which features vice-captain Sarah Perkins. Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan will have plenty to do in midfield against the Lions’ strong ball winners, making for an intriguing clearance battle.

Tip: You can never count the fighting Suns out, especially with their youthful exuberance, but the Lions look a slight step ahead and should come away with bragging rights over their neighbours. Lions by 10.

GWS vs. Adelaide
Sunday February 7, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

GWS is back home after a well-travelled preseason, set to host Adelaide at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday evening. Both teams were thrown into isolation after Round 1 and have undergone improvised solo training sessions for most of the week, which will inevitably show in how either side adjusts to the disruptions thrown their way.

Adelaide looks like quickly returning to its fearsome best in 2021, with the Crows’ many stars aligning to win big las week. Erin Phillips will hope to again take hold as she gets a clean run at it, while some added dynamism in the potential moving parts of Chelsea Randall, Ebony Marinoff, and Sarah Allan will give GWS plenty of headaches.

The Giants have showcased their fighting spirit and have the experience to give the Crows a good run here. An even five-goal loss to Fremantle in Round 1 was less than ideal on a pure results basis, but some strong contested work in the first half should put GWS in good stead to compete against top sides, like Adelaide, for periods of time.

Tip: Revenge will be in mind after GWS ended Adelaide’s finals hopes last year, and the visitors should have too much grunt going forward from midfield. Crows by 26.

Fremantle vs. West Coast
Sunday February 7, 4:15pm
Fremantle Oval

The Western Derby is on in Round 2 after last-minute confirmation of the bout came today, with Fremantle and West Coast set to lock horns in the weekend’s closing fixture. Akin to players in the Adelaide-GWS clash, both teams have been limited training-wise with just an hour of exercise permitted under Western Australia’s lockdown laws.

Freo looks every bit the powerhouse last year’s undefeated run suggested, maintaining their winning streak with a powerful Round 1 victory. West Coast looks an improved side despite falling well short of Adelaide in the end. While the Eagles managed 2.6 (18), the Dockers excelled with 8.10 (58) in their opening fixture.

That immense gap in scoring should again prove telling, with Fremantle’s dynamic and game-breaking forward movers in Gemma Houghton and Sabreena Duffy difficult to keep down, especially as Kara Antonio and Kiara Bowers move the ball forward with class from the outside and inside of midfield.

Tip: Fremantle has the early bragging rights in this rivalry and will likely continue to hold as much after Sunday’s clash. With too much going forward, Dockers by 40.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Micallef driven by passion to achieve her dream

OAKLEIGH Chargers defender/midfielder Amber Micallef quintessentially lives and breathes football. It is her “coffee in the morning” that keeps her focused. The talented teenager earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite and spoke to Draft Central about her hopes and dreams of playing at the elite level.

“The reason why I kept playing AFL is because of the passion of it,” she said. “I wake up to it every day and it’s sort of like a job for me. “I wake up and I have a passion for, I love for it. And I guess it gives me that drive and that optimism that I see in everyday life. “In a way, it’s like my coffee in the morning. “If I go out and kick a footy or play a game of footy, it just brings my hopes up a little bit.”

Micallef is one of those aspiring AFL Women’s footballers who tasted footy as a child, but then took a different path – in this case, basketball – before returning to the sport she loved once a pathway, and more opportunities opened up.

“I never really had that luxury like a couple of the girls, how they’ve been playing for a long time,” Micallef said. “I did Auskick when I was about five for about a season. “Then I got asked to play five games for Bulleen Bullants in the YJFL competition. “And then after those five games, I played basketball for 10 years. “There was no footy in that.”

Fast forward to her high school days, and a chance conversation steered her back to the oblong-shaped ball sport.

“When I was in Year 8, my friends said ‘hey, we’re gonna do school footy, are you interested?’. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll give it a shot’, and from school footy we all loved it, even though most of my friends came from basketball like me. “Then we had this new club, coming up with Beverley Hills. They were going to start a new girls competition, and a couple of my friends were thinking about it and asked to me to join.”

Micallef did just that, and while it was a little different at first, Micallef was familiar with kicking the footy from her junior days and had the fitness and athleticism to match it with others thanks to not only her basketball, but her cross country and athletics as well. What really won her over however, was the community spirit and team atmosphere.

“I love it how it’s a team sport,” Micallef said. “And you know, we train twice a week. “We spend a lot of time with each other and really get to know each other on a personal level. “So I love the competition of it too. “I love how you could play anywhere on the ground if you want to, how you can tackle people, you can run and it’s also a really good for fitness, too. “But more so. I just love the community of it. I love the vibe of it, too.”

Her pathway into Oakleigh was a little more conventional, invited to play at the Chargers in the Under 15s development program. Playing as a midfielder then, Micallef was expecting to make the transition into the NAB League Under 18s side in the same role, but then there was a change.

“I got asked to play in the backline, and I was really unsure because I never really played any defensive work, or played in the backline in general,” Micallef said. “Oakleigh trained me up for about four years and I’ve been playing in the backline and a little bit of in the midfield this year, too, “Which was really cool.”

Micallef was a fast learner and soon she earned a spot in the Vic Metro Under 16s team, following up from representing her state in the Under 15s School Sports Victoria (SSV) side. She described the feeling of running out on GMHBA Stadium against Vic Country as an “awesome experience” and visibly noticed the rise in skill level from both sides compared to her local competition and even NAB League.

Her pathway to follow her dream was tracking nicely as she was putting together consistent performances for Oakleigh each week, playing nine games in her middle-age season, and then averaging a career-high 14 disposals per game in her two games in 2020. Then it all came to a grinding halt. The season was postponed due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. At first, Micallef said she was not too worried, expecting it to return at some stage, before the realisation hit her following the official cancellation in July.

“Well, at the start, I really didn’t believe that it was gonna get cancelled,” Micallef said. “I guess I was always optimistic. “So when it first got called off, I was like, ‘Oh, it’ll come back in a week’ and then a week led to ‘It’ll come back in a month’ or ‘come back in a few months’. “I never really expected it to get called off. “When it got cancelled, that’s when I realised ‘Oh, it’s really not coming back’.

Immediately the natural leader tried to get around her teammates and keep the positivity going and make sure everyone was in the best form of their lives with other opportunities – such as the AFL Women’s Draft Combine – still a possibility.

“I’ve always been training through that,” Micallef said. I always went around the girls saying, ‘you know, you always got to have high hopes, keep on training, you never know what opportunity will come up’, but yeah, it was a bit devastating to hear that the whole competition got called off. “Everyone was in the same boat, so it’s like you control what you control, and you can see how you want to see it.”

Micallef rates her tackling, stoppage work and vision as her greatest strengths, particularly capable of playing behind the ball or through the midfield when required. She is looking to tweak some of her fundamental skills such as her opposite foot kicking, contested marking and fitness, which is what she has done over the break. But for her, it was not being able to play out the season which had promised so much after Oakleigh recorded back-to-back massive wins over Murray Bushrangers and Tasmania Devils prior to the season ending.

“Oakleigh this year was probably the most memorable for me, even though it was only two games,” Micallef said. “We went to Wangaratta in Round 1 against Murray Bushrangers. “By that first game, that first win, I could see, out of all the training stuff that we did a couple of bonding sessions that we did, I think that one hit home for a lot of us and we sort of had a feeling ‘you know what? We actually might win this this season’.

“It was just a really good feeling. “And then going into Tasmania, I’ll say it was one of my favourite games to play. “Even just representing Oakleigh against Tasmania was a great feeling, and I could see a lot of the girls would be the same highlights for them.”

Micallef has always been an analyser of sport, watching others intently to try and learn everything she can about being the best possible player she can be in football. Whether it is teammates or opponents, she always wants to be the best and thrives on learning off others to reach their levels.

“I’ll say my journey of football I never really had an athlete or a celebrity I looked up to. It was more so my teammates on the field, especially when I started in junior level,” Micallef said. “I used to play against Ellie McKenzie a lot, and she used to dominate, as she still does now. “But I used to look up to her and say, ‘why can’t I do that? Why can’t I do what she’s been doing?’ “And then especially going into Oakleigh Chargers, you have Nicola Xenos, Gemma Lagioia, even Mimi Hill. “They’re just amazing players and I’m just like, ‘why can’t I do what they can to do?’ “What they’re doing now, I want to be the best, like them.”

So how exactly does Micallef try and emulate those she wants to match at the level?

“I try to train as much as I can, especially with Mimi,” Micallef said. “I like to watch back on vision and see how each of them play. “So when we went played against Northern Knights, I watch how Ellie McKenzie moved. “Or, Mimi at training, like try to see through her eyes what she sees on the field. “So I always tried to create what they’re doing and always improve on what I need to improve, to be like them.”

As a Rising Star for Marcellin Eagles, and then finishing second overall in the YJFL Division 2 League Best and Fairest and Team of the Year, Micallef’s goal for 2020 was to build confidence. Along with spending more time in the midfield, Micallef just wanted to play the best football she could. As well as watching Tayla Harris and her beloved Blues in the AFL and AFL Women’s for enjoyment, Micallef keeps a sharp eye on how the defenders play to see if she can implement any strategies into her own game.

As for her own personal football memory, it was the Round 1 game this year, but more so for the off-field result rather than the on-field one, though that was the icing on the cake as well.

“Playing in Wangaratta, my nan came along, she lives in Corowa, which is in New South Wales, so she barely comes to watch my games,” Micallef said. “It was just really nice for her to come to that game in particular and actually see me in the midfield and me kicking the ball to my teammates getting goals and overall I was just really happy with the game. “I think she saw I was happy, and it made me happy that she was happy.”

Now Micallef is edging closer to fulfilling her dream to reach the elite level. If she is able to achieve that, then it will be something special, but also seen as a job half done as she looks to always improve.

“It will mean all the hard work that I put in, all the blood, sweat and tears and all the people around these you supported me will finally pay off,” she said. “It’s not totally finished, I’ll always want to improve on stuff and improve on my game. “But I think it would be an absolute dream.”

2020 AFLW Preview: Round 6 – Dees and Blues face off in conference-defining clash

ROUND 6 of AFL Women’s 2020 begins the race to finals with only two rounds to follow and still plenty of changes that could take place on both conference ladders. A few key wins are up for grabs with Richmond still hoping for an inaugural win while North Melbourne and Fremantle will both want to keep top spot on their respective leaderboards. Meanwhile, Melbourne and Carlton will battle it out in what looks like the match of the round.

Geelong v. North Melbourne
Friday 13 March, 7:10pm
GMHBA Stadium

Taylah Melki

The Cats host North Melbourne under lights on Friday night. Geelong currently sit fourth on the ladder while the Kangaroos have first spot locked up. North are on a four game winning streak and will be hoping to extend their run of hot form against a trying Geelong side who have won their past two games.

Although Geelong do not have a host of big name recruits, it is their brigade of young guns that is the most damaging aspect of their side. In her first uninterrupted season, Nina Morrison has enjoyed her time out on the park with her natural ball winning ability, game sense and dynamism on full display. Fellow second year player Olivia Purcell will also be hoping to continue her dominant form in the hotly contested match while the bull-like Richelle Cranston has impressed so far this season with her dash across the ground. Renee Garing has been another consistent performer for the Cats while Aasta O’Connor will once again be hoping to show her aerial strength with her marking ability. A livewire up forward, Phoebe McWilliams will be another to keep an eye on given her ability to bob up and hit the scoreboard while Anna Teague will be hoping to add to their goalkicking tally.

North Melbourne have gone from strength to strength so far this season with Emma Kearney leading the way with her contested ball work. Kearney is in a league of her own, constantly working hard to win the footy at the coalface while also showcasing her impressive defensive efforts laying strong tackles. Jenna Bruton is another key contributor for the Roos with her brute force while the likes of Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner have upped their intensity throughout the season to round out a formidable side. Garner not only increased her influence around the footy but her presence in front of goal too, making her a key component to the Roos’ forward line. Kaitlyn Ashmore is coming off a four goal haul, an effort she will be hoping to repeat this round while Sophie Abbatangelo is also handy in front of the big sticks. Ruck Emma King is also key to the North Melbourne outfit. If King can have a dominant impact out of the middle with her clever taps and ruckwork it will put her side in a good position. Although she is still a young developing player, Mia King is another one to watch out for given her ability to find the footy and most importantly use it effectively.

Tip: 

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: N.Morrison 9 R.Webster 21 S.Van De Heuvel 27
HF: R.Garing 12 P.McWilliams 23 D.Higgins 2
F: R.Cranston 30 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: K.Darby 8 G.Rankin 10 A.McDonald 3 A.Teague 40 C.Blakeway 4

Emerg: N.Garner 22 R.Goring 44

In: J.Ivey, C.Blakeway
Out: R.Goring (Omitted), G.Clarke (Omitted)

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: N.Bresnehan 12 T.Randall 16
HB: S.Wright 17 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Grierson 19 E.Kearney – C 9 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 B.Gibson 18 D.Bateman 11
F: E.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 A.Riddell 7 J.Garner 25
I/C: K.Gillespie-Jones 5 J.Trend 21 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 T.Nestor 24

Emerg: D.Bannister 2 E.Humphries 6

In: None
Out: None

Brisbane v. Collingwood
Saturday, 14 March, 2.10pm 
Hickey Park

Sophie Taylor 

Brisbane lost top spot in Conference A last round so are sure to be back with a vengeance this week when they host Collingwood on Saturday afternoon. While Brisbane have shone for the most part this season, a few blips in the radar have left them wanting and this chance against the Magpies is one they will want to take with both hands. But while the Magpies have had a hard time on the injury front this season, a solid win last week will have left them confident and ready for a tough slog this week when they travel up the east coast.

Brisbane have a host of talent that they aren’t afraid to put out on the field, with forward Jesse Wardlaw up there in the goal count across the competition and a keen eye in front of goal, able to have an impact inside 50 with her clever movement and tenacity going for the ground ball. Wardlaw has booted at least one goal per game this season and was knocked off the goalkicking perch last round so will want to continue her consistency with another bag this week. Emily Bates and Alex Anderson continue to be real threats across the field, averaging 22.6 and 20.8 disposals respectively, and creating a formidable opposition. Meanwhile, the side will rely on the likes of Catherine Svarc and Sophie Conway to continue their tackling ways and maintain possession. Young gun Lily Postlethwaite has had a solid few weeks on the track so will want to replicate that form while Jess Wuetschner booted two goals last round to prove she’s back with a vengeance.

For Collingwood, this is ultimately a make or break game. A win here would see them slot in nicely in the top four of Conference B and set up a good run home, but a loss could see the Magpies miss out on finals contention once more. Jaimee Lambert has continued her impeccable form in recent rounds, leading the way and proving a key cog in attack. Chloe Molloy has an ability to impact wherever she is on the field, creating an exciting contest with her intensity and clean hands. Meanwhile, Sharni Layton leads the hitout tally for the season so far and has had a breakout season in the ruck, with her strength, height and ability to get first to the footy making her a tough opponent to come across. Layton has been named across half back in the absence of Ash Brazill to injury, so will work with the likes of Stacey Livingstone to hold down the fort in defence. Britt Bonnici and Bri Davey have continued their consistent form, backing up Molloy and Lambert in their efforts.

Tip: Brisbane by 14 points.

BRISBANE

B: S.Webb 4 S.Campbell 20
HB: C.Svarc 25 K.Lutkins 13 E.Zielke – C 8
C: R.Lugg 11 A.Anderson 18 S.Conway 12
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Wardlaw 30 J.Wuetschner 23
F: D.Davidson 14 I.Dawes 17
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 B.Koenen 3 E.Bates 1
I/C: N.Grider 10 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 M.Moloney 28 L.Bellinger 26

Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 S.Priest 19

In: L.Bellinger
Out: G.Bodey (Injured)

COLLINGWOOD

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

Emerg: K.Stratton 41 S.Dargan 46

In: None
Out: None

St Kilda v. Richmond
Saturday, 14 March, 5.10pm AEDT
RSEA Park

Sophie Taylor

This match pits two lower ranked sides against each other, with both St Kilda and Richmond sitting at the bottom of their respective conferences. While St Kilda have at least gotten a win on the board, this match is a real opportunity for Richmond to get an inaugural victory before the season is up. Both teams omitted a plethora of names heading into this match, leaving both sides with fresh bodies out on the field in hope of getting a win on the board.

St Kilda are sure to put up a big fight against the ailing Tigers, with some solid form throughout the season despite not necessarily getting the wins. The side has continued to compete throughout the season, going close but no cigar with difficulty putting goals on the board a real issue. Caitlin Greiser will want to continue her solid form which sees her as the leading goalkicker for the Saints with seven majors for the season. Her ability to use her body to find the footy and follow up going for the ground ball is what makes her a real excitement machine for the side, and having booted two goals on three occasions this season, expect her to go one better this week. Georgia Patrikios and Olivia Vesely have been real ball magnets for the side throughout the season while Tilly Lucas-Rodd has been a machine off the half back with 36 intercept possessions and Nat Exon is averaging 6.2 tackles per game, applying solid pressure.

The Tigers will miss Katie Brennan again this week with the captain sidelined once more with concussion, making this a tough battle for Richmond as they continue to fight for their first win of the season. While the side has struggled to stop goals this season, they have also had a tough time putting goals on the board which is the real catch, unable to reduce the margin and ultimately putting in all the effort downfield but getting no return. Monique Conti has been a shining light throughout the season with the 20-year-old proving a constant threat while Sabrina Frederick has been left wanting forward, not having the desired impact but ultimately not getting the footy much inside 50. Kodi Jacques and Phoebe Monahan have continued to ply their trade and apply pressure while the loss of Lauren Tesoriero to precautionary coronavirus isolation is a frustrating blow to an already struggling side.

Tip: St Kilda by 29 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.Luke 22 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 R.Dillon 25 M.McDonald 1
HF: D.Guttridge 5 J.Sedunary 10 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 O.Vesely 23
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 N.Xenos 27 C.Phillips 35
I/C: C.Whitfort 4 P.Kelly 16 G.Patrikios 21 A.Drennan 8 I.Shannon 11

Emerg: E.Mackie 3 K.O’Neill 20

In: T.Luke, J.Sedunary, C.Whitfort
Out: K.O’Neill (Omitted), E.Mackie (Omitted), S.Johnson (Omitted)

RICHMOND

B: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Seymour 28
HB: H.Whitford 20 I.Ross 21 P.Monahan 2
C: C.Bernardi – C 6 S.Molan 1 K.Dempsey 19
HF: M.Brancatisano 5 S.Frederick 14 R.Miller 15
F: C.Wakefield 8 T.Stahl 24
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 G.Campbell 43
I/C: C.Fitzgerald 26 K.Jacques 10 H.Burchell 9 N.Butler 22 A.Woodward 13

Emerg: L.Bailey 12 E.Wood 17

In: I.Ross, C.Wakefield, C.Fitzgerald, N.Butler, A.Woodward
Out: L.Bailey (Omitted), E.Wood (Omitted), L.McClelland (Suspension), L.Tesoriero (Illness), S.Sansonetti (Rested)

Melbourne v Carlton
Saturday, 14 March, 7.40pm AEST
TIO Traeger Park

Sophie Taylor

Melbourne and Carlton head into Round 6 unchanged from last round, with both sides having put impressive wins on the board last week and only separated by percentage heading into the run home. Likely to be the best match of the round, the battle between the Dees and Blues is set to be a close one with both sides boasting a number of key players across the field.

Karen Paxman has been a ball magnet for the Dees in 2020, making her mark with clean hands, good run and carry and an ability to hit targets with ease, while the defensive pressure of Libby Birch, Daisy Pearce and Harriet Cordner down back has been a real task to be reckoned with, with the work off the half back relieving plenty of pressure close to goal. But while the Dees have a smattering of key players in the mix, they had a rough start last week against West Coast and they just can’t afford that this week against the Blues. Eden Zanker has had a breakout season for the Demons in the ruck and heading forward, booting four goals and ultimately a solid threat wherever she is on the field with her aerial ability and clean hands – traits she shares with fellow joint-leading goalkicker Kate Hore.

An even spread of talent across Carlton’s lineup is what will ultimately worry the Demons this round, with consistency and an ability to score quickly both real threats to a Melbourne victory. Maddy Prespakis has thus far backed up a stellar first season of footy, averaging 22 touches per game this season and providing a key run down the field for the Blues. Off the half back, Kerryn Harrington and Vaomua Laloifi have applied some solid pressure with the duo working well to crowd the play and bring the footy to ground, enabling Prespakis and fellow young gun Grace Egan to clear the footy. Tayla Harris continues to be a big threat up forward, having booted at least one goal every match this season and a great target up forward.

Tip: Melbourne by five points.

MELBOURNE

B: H.Cordner 21 L.Birch 9
HB: S.Lampard 8 D.Pearce – C 6 S.Goldrick 23
C: C.Sherriff 18 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 A.Newman 16 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 N.McEvoy 17
Foll: E.Zanker 29 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: J.Parry 19 E.O’Dea 5 S.Perkins 33 B.Tarrant 20 L.Mithen 14

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 G.Colvin 32

In: None
Out: None

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 J.Doonan 26

In: None
Out: None

Western Bulldogs v. Fremantle
Sunday, 15 March, 1.10pm AEDT
VU Whitten Oval

Michael Alvaro

Fremantle’s undefeated record is once again on the line as it travels to Melbourne for a second time this season, taking on the battling Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval. The Dockers stamped their authority as the league’s leading side with an impressive win over Brisbane last time out to take their record to 5-0, and will fancy their chances against a developing Dogs lineup. But in front of an adoring home crowd in Footscray, the young pups will be keen to arrest a four-game losing streak and showcase the promise their list reverberates on paper.

Another member of the class of 2019 is set to debut for the home side, with top 10 pick Nell Morris-Dalton beating out former Northern Knights teammate Britney Gutknecht for the final spot in the Dogs’ lineup to join her Under 18 skipper, Gabby Newton at the top level. Nicole Callinan was the other player in contention to replace the omitted Hannah Scott, but fell just short of returning for her first game since Round 2. Morris-Dalton should add some strength in the air for the Bulldogs inside forward 50, with fellow 2019 draftee Gemma Lagioia swapping defensive duties to lineup at her feet in the pocket. The midfield trio of Ellie Blackburn, Kirsty Lamb, and Aisling McCarthy will take their form into this clash, with their work set to be cut out for them against a strong Fremantle following set.

The Dockers are set to come in with just one change of their own, resting electric draftee Roxy Roux with Mia-Rae Clifford, Sarah Garstone, and Bianca Webb lined up to take the vacant spot. Fremantle will look to stretch the Bulldogs up forward, as is the case most weeks, with the match-up between Gemma Houghton and Isabel Huntington set to catch the eye. The Dockers’ dynamism with Sabreena Duffy – coming off four goals – and Ebony Antonio at ground level makes them hard to stop, and midfield service from Kiara Bowers and Kara Antonio constantly sets the tone for their success.

Expect the Dockers’ weapons from midfield to forward to be too much for the developing Bulldogs, but the travel factor may come into effect later on in the contest, with the Dogs a chance to snatch an unlikely win if they can stay in the contest for long enough.

Tip: Fremantle by 21

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Guest 19 L.Spark 11
HB: E.Brown 9 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 B.Lochland 1
HF: G.Newton 5 K.Rennie 24 K.McLeod 6
F: N.Morris-Dalton 25 G.Lagioia 12
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: K.Herron 31 D.Berry 7 E.Georgostathis 17 D.Marshall 26 H.Munyard 20 B.Gutknecht 18 N.Callinan 10

In: N.Morris-Dalton, B.Gutknecht, N.Callinan
Out: H.Scott (Omitted)

FREMANTLE

B: L.Mascall 14 J.Cuthbertson 29
HB: E.O’Driscoll 3 P.Seth 18 L.Pugh 32
C: K.Antonio – C 15 H.Miller 19 J.Stewart 7
HF: E.Antonio 12 A.Sharp 1 G.O’Sullivan 22
F: G.Houghton 27 S.Duffy 6
Foll: M.Strom 21 K.Bowers 2 K.Grieve 13
I/C: K.Flood 44 A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 L.Rohde 11 S.Garstone 16 B.Webb 26 M.Clifford 4

In: B.Webb, S.Garstone, M.Clifford
Out: R.Roux (Rested)

Adelaide v. Greater Western Sydney
Sunday, 15 March, 3.10pm AEST
Hisense Stadium

Michael Alvaro

Adelaide will be out to make good on a two-game losing run when it hosts GWS at Hisense Stadium on Sunday. The reining premiers have endured an indifferent first half to their flag defence, holding a negative 2-3 record on the back of an injury-hit campaign to date and bearing the brunt of a tricky draw over the last fortnight. On the other hand, the 3-2 GIANTS have taken full advantage of the games they were expected to win – albeit with each one coming over three of the four 2020 expansion teams. The step-up in competition has proven difficult for the Sydneysiders, and Adelaide will provide as tough a test as any team despite its shortcomings this season.

Four inclusions are set to make the Crows side that bit more formidable this week, with dual AFL Women’s best and fairest Erin Phillips headlining the quartet of returnees. The Adelaide champ comes in alongside fellow midfielder Najwa Allen, while Deni Varnhagen and Eloise Jones also crack the extended squad. Coming the other way in terms of omissions will be Madison Newman and ruck Rhiannon Metcalfe, with 2019 draftee Montana McKinnon impressing in the tri-colours on debut last week and retaining her spot. The Crows’ midfield looks to be running smoothly with the combination of Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard winning plenty of ball, so the additional target of Phillips will hopefully aid them in terms of fluency going forward.

A trio of inclusions will be vying for one spot in the GIANTS’ side as Nicola Barr finds herself hamstrung, with Taylah Davies, Georgia Garnett, and Emily Goodsir all up for selection in the 23-player squad. The GIANTS’ wealth of experience will definitely match that of the Crows, with stand-in skipper Jess Dal Pos heading a team which is capable of returning consistent performances. Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson make up a dynamic midfield duo in the continued absence of Alicia Eva, with Beeson also set to rotate forward alongside Haneen Zreika. It may be fitting that the injury blows finally benefit Adelaide, and the fortnight of key casualties for GWS will really test its depth, but that experience should see the GIANTS through to a competitive result.

Speaking of depth, Adelaide’s wealth of genuine options to run through the middle of the ground should prove to be a vital factor as it comes into the game as favourite on home turf, with Phillips adding that third prong despite likely playing predominantly forward. The hard-nosed nature of Hatchard and Marinoff should hold up very well against the more athletic pairing of Parker and Beeson, with McKinnon’s job in the ruck crucial against GWS’ Jessica Allan. Count the GIANTS out at your own peril, but the Crows’ hard edge and top-end talent should see them over the line in front of home fans, with a win able to draw the two sides level on points in Conference A.

Tip: Adelaide by 18

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: A.Foley 3 M.Rajcic 32 S.Li 19
C: J.Mules 23 E.Marinoff 10 A.Considine 16
HF: E.Jones 2 E.Phillips – C 13 S.Thompson 14
F: D.Ponter 15 C.Gum 5
Foll: M.McKinnon 21 A.Hatchard 33 N.Gore 7
I/C: N.Campbell 20 N.Allen 8 R.Forth 27 J.Tabb 28 C.Biddell 12 D.Varnhagen 9 C.Gould 1

In: E.Jones, E.Phillips, N.Allen, D.Varnhagen
Out: M.Newman (Omitted), R.Metcalfe (Omitted)

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: L.Steane 20 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: J.Dal Pos – C 7 B.Tully 36 A.Schmidt 11
HF: S.Halvorsen 30 R.Privitelli 19 J.Hicks 5
F: C.Staunton 13 J.Barclay 34
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: H.Zreika 24 E.McKinnon 23 T.Mackrill 32 L.Stephenson 12 T.Davies 16 E.Goodsir 1 G.Garnett 17

In: E.Goodsir, T.Davies, G.Garnett
Out: N.Barr (Hamstring)

West Coast v. Gold Coast
Sunday, 15 March, 5.10pm AEST
Mineral Resources Park

Michael Alvaro

Two sides coming off losses meet to round out the weekend’s action, with West Coast set to host Gold Coast in a battle of 2020 expansion clubs. The Eagles were hauled back down to earth with a thud in Round 5 after picking up their maiden AFL Women’s win the week before, copping a 59-point thumping at the hands of Melbourne. Gold Coast, only half a game to the better of its weekend opponent, has suffered consecutive losses for the first time in its short history, but the SUNS’ competitive spirit should put them in good stead for an improved performance in this clash.

The visitors are set to welcome back Hannah Dunn after a week on the sidelines, slotting straight back into the SUNS’ midfield to boost their ball winning stocks. Debutant Sally Riley also comes into the lineup as the second confirmed inclusion, with Tori Groves-Little and Jasmyn Hewett the two unlucky omissions while Maddy Roberts and Taylor Smith find their way onto an extended bench. Gold Coast’s engine room has been a highlight in its inaugural campaign, with Dunn adding to the likes of Jacqui Yorston and the red-hot Jamie Stanton this week, while Leah Kaslar and Lauren Aherns heading up a promising back five which features three 2019 draftees.

West Coast’s changes are a touch more forced, with McKenzie Dowrick and Emily Bonser both ruled out through illness, with Melissa Caulfield attached to the managed tag this week. Chantella Perera, the player to be managed in Round 5, returns to her customary full back role in a boost for the Eagles, with Mhicca Carter the second inclusion for the hosts. On an extended bench, Tarnee Tester, Katherine Orme, and Danika Pisconeri are all chances to sneak their way into the side should any more disruptions arise. While the midfield pairing of Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson has worked admirably for the Eagles, they have struggled to find a consistent spread across the field in 2020. The competition’s least potent attack and second most leaky defence are titles which do not bode well against any side, especially given the SUNS’ strength and competitiveness in the back five.

While both teams can only boast one win in their maiden campaigns, the SUNS have arguably made the bigger inroads and have been able to keep each game competitive on the scoreboard. Their better spread of contributors across the field, and an especially stingy defence in this game should carry them to a second AFL Women’s victory. But on home turf, the Eagles will be sure to put up a better fight than the previous week, though the travel factor may be lessened given West Coast is coming off a game in Melbourne.

Tip: Gold Coast by 13

WEST COAST

B: S.McDonald 35 C.Perera 27
HB: C.Davidson 33 B.Smith 14 C.Guard 4
C: M.Bowen 1 N.Kelly 12 K.Gibson 2
HF: M.Collier 8 G.Kelly 15 I.Cameron 19
F: A.Atkins 9 M.Carter 21
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 E.McGuire 31 H.Bullas 24 K.Orme 32 B.Devlyn 7 D.Pisconeri 11 T.Radan 26

In: C.Perera, M.Carter, T.Tester, K.Orme, D.Pisconeri
Out: M.Caulfield (Managed), M.Dowrick (Illness), E.Bonser (Illness)

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 S.Watson 14
HB: L.Kaslar – C 11 L.Ahrens 7 E.Hampson 21
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 P.Parker 1
HF: K.Surman 26 B.Perry 16 K.Howarth 23
F: T.Smith 13 S.Riley 8
Foll: L.Bella 2 H.Dunn 24 J.Yorston 5
I/C: C.Hammond 29 D.Heslop 25 J.Hickey 4 M.Ritson 12 M.Roberts 10 T.Thorn 15 S.Virgo 22

In: T.Smith, S.Riley, H.Dunn, M.Roberts
Out: T.Groves-Little (Omitted), J.Hewett (Omitted)

ROUND 6 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [27]: North Melbourne, Brisbane, St Kilda, Melbourne, Fremantle, Adelaide, Gold Coast
Taylah Melki [27]: North Melbourne, Collingwood, St Kilda, Carlton, Fremantle, Adelaide, Gold Coast
Sophie Taylor [26]: North Melbourne, Brisbane, St Kilda, Melbourne, Fremantle, GIANTS, Gold Coast
Peter Williams [24]: North Melbourne, Collingwood, St Kilda, Carlton, Fremantle, GIANTS, West Coast