Tag: grace campbell

Top Performers: NAB League Girls – Round 6

THE 2021 NAB League Girls competition treated us to an extended weekend of fixtures in Round 6. Our weekly (self explanatory) Top Performers series delves into some of the best individual feats across each weekend of action. This week produced plenty of highlights as players continue to impress in the elite talent pathway. Starting with AFL Academy-listed prospects, we take a look at the top performers out of an exciting set of fixtures.

Each game’s top performers are the opinion of the individual writer.

SANDRINGHAM DRAGONS vs. OAKLEIGH CHARGERS

By: Declan Reeve

AFLW ACADEMY:

#8 Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh Chargers)

A quiet game compared to her usual lofty standards, Rowbottom’s influence on the game still can’t be understated as she demanded a run with player around the ground throughout the game. Despite this, she still found ways to impact, especially up forward where she was played as the main target, able to hit the scoreboard for her troubles. Still had moments of brilliance where she’d get away from her player and win the clearance, leaving everyone in her dust. 

TOP PERFORMERS:

#10 Stella Reid (Oakleigh Chargers)

Just finds ways to outdo herself throughout the game as it goes on. It felt like she was adding a new string to her bow each quarter with her ball winning early impressive, then adding her speed the next quarter, then adding her overhead marking the next and finally adding her composure in the final quarter, not that any of those were weaknesses earlier on, but became more apparent as the game went on. Really reads the play well and puts herself in great spaces all the time, highlighted by a patch in the third quarter where she got an intercept mark, kicked it back forward and then got another one intercept mark when Sandringham worked it back out. Worked hard throughout the game, with her two-way running being a desirable trait. 

#29 Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers)

Has some really eye catching moments, especially around stoppages, where her in-and-under, unrelenting hunt of the ball, mixed with her burst of speed and equally quick use of the ball by hand, is a real strength. This game she had a presence as a forward as well, taking a few good grabs and setting up some good inside 50 opportunities with her kicks.

#14 Eliza James (Oakleigh Chargers)

Had a solid game splitting her time through the midfield and up forward as a deeper target. Did some good things in the first three quarters around stoppages in particular, where her acceleration was hard for Sandringham to deal with, but it was in the final quarter when the pressure started mounting that she really stepped up and shined, getting involved all around the ground with her in close pressure work, and taking a particularly crucial contested mark to slow down play and run down the clock in the final two minutes, showing a deep understanding of the game and how to deal with those situations. 

#9 Brooke Vickers (Oakleigh Chargers)

Has been a consistent contributor in the Chargers defense and this game was no different, with her tendency to leave her opponent and making contests 2-on-1 in her teams favour, and her confidence to attack incoming balls at ground level and in the air, she’s a very well rounded attacking defender, that doesn’t neglect her defensive responsibilities. She stood up in the big moments, especially in the final quarter as Sandringham were clawing themselves back into the game.

#4 Alexandra McCulloch (Oakleigh Chargers)

Stood up again in the Oakleigh backline, where her willingness to back herself was on show, flying for marks in packs and taking on opponents when tucking the ball under her arm and running with it. Her reliability throughout the game allowed other Oakleigh defenders such as Brooke Vickers to run off their opponents to impact further up the ground, which made her a very valuable part of the win.

#10 Bridie Hipwell (Sandringham Dragons)

Had some really good moments, especially with ball in hand, where she’d use her agility to get around multiple opponents and then getting the ball to a teammate. Not overly crash and bash with her ball winning, but she’s very capable of winning a contested ground ball with her poise around contests, which means that more often than not she’s in a good position to handball off to a teammate effectively 

# 18 Mia Zielinski (Sandringham Dragons)

It’s hard to believe this was just her second game at this level, just plays in such a confident and assured manner, confident to take on opponents in a foot race, on the ground or in the air. Her aerial work is superb, rarely dropping a mark and not wasting a single disposal, she became Sandringham’s main target inside 50, flying for everything, very much one to watch for the 2023 draft. 

#11 Tayla Jones (Sandringham Dragons)

Despite playing as a winger, she got involved quite a bit down deep in defence, where she was winning herself a few free kicks through getting to the ball first. Followed up her kicks if they went wayward which obviously made her teammates much more assured. Further up the ground she was punishing Oakleigh for missed kicks when she was in the area, sweeping up loose balls and delivering accurately to teammates.

#15 Sofia Hurley (Sandringham Dragons)

Followed up her brilliant game against Gippsland with another big performance against a physically stronger midfield, where her athleticism and footy IQ held her in good stead for the game, often selling candy or side stepping opponents with ease then delivering a long accurate kick forward or handballing off to a teammate on the outside, it really looks like her confidence is growing game by game. Was one of the main dragons to take that step up in the final quarter to get them within a kick.

OTHERS:

In such a well rounded performance there’s plenty of others worthy of a mention. From the victors, Erin Woodford and Lily Hart played a big role in pushing their side through for a win. Jemma Rigoni was also good around the ground, getting a goal in her usual forward spot but pushing up and impacting in the midfield, with talented bottom-ager Ameille Smith also having an impact up forward and in the ruck. Sandringham’s winger Charlotte Ryan won plenty of it and did some damage with her signature speed, Pia Staltari was again thrown around in all 3 sections of the ground, but used it well wherever she was. Abby Thompson was a solid aerial presence in defense with captain Kiana Lynch creating plenty going forward.

 

MURRAY BUSHRANGERS vs. GWS GIANTS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

AFLW ACADEMY:

#36 Ally Morphett (GWS GIANTS Academy – but also Murray Bushrangers)

It must have been weird for Morphett lining up against her NAB League teammates, but she certainly had no qualms making an impact in the game. The opening bounce saw the ruck punch a thumping ball forward into the path of her teammates, and then had a number of shots on goal in the opening term. Her set shot from 50m shanked to the right and was intercepted, then her quick snap on goal was good, but went to to the left and stayed in. She kept putting her body on the line and winning her fair share of the ball, thumping it forward. She took a really strong overhead mark, clunking the ball and her ball movement inside 50 led to a goal.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#3 Cynthia Hamilton (GWS GIANTS Academy)

A standout throughout the match for the GIANTS Academy providing run all over the ground. She played between the wing, forward and even dropping back into defence, finding plenty of the ball and keeping it moving in transition. Her work rate was a feature of her game, and she stepped up to kick two goals in the match; the first when she went to full-forward midway through the term thanks to a quick kick running back to it, and then booted a second goal in the third term with a snap out of nothing. Hamilton had a courageous marking attempt in the forward 50 and would continue to run hard throughout the match to be one of the GIANTS’ standout players.

#11 Jayde Hamilton (GWS GIANTS Academy)

Just cracked in for four quarters, and having been one of the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitees from last season, and someone who has already debuted at VFL Women’s level, Hamilton showed her experience and ball-winning abilities. She can tend to throw the ball on the boot at times, but her vision and timing of handballs is quite good, able to release at the right point. She reads the stoppage work well and can get forward for some shots on goal.

#30 Jessica Whelan (GWS GIANTS Academy)

A lovely kick of the ball, Whelan has great technique and and played between midfield and forward, with a few eye-catching highlights. She laid a fierce tackle in the middle of the ground in the opening term, took a great intercept mark on the wing and hit a low dart of a pass inside 50 in the third term which led to a goal, then earned a 50m penalty to have a set shot from the goalsquare and made no mistake.

#31 Hayley Macdonald (GWS GIANTS Academy)

Booted two goals in the game and looked lively inside 50. She arguably could have finished with more majors, given her first set shot from 20m out straight in front missed to the right. She kicked her first early in the third term with a great snap around her body, and continued to present throughout the second half. Early in the fourth quarter Macdonald kicked her second, able to get her boot to the ball in the goalsquare to double her output.

#2 Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers)

Having some sort of season is the outside talent, with her speed and ball-winning capacity on show. At times she just needs that extra touch of composure or awareness to know she has more time than she thinks she does, but when she is up and going it is impressive. She is strong overhead and is not afraid to take on the opposition, at one stage evading two players, but then getting caught by the third. With her athletic traits and aggressive play with ball-in-hand, Smith is perennially an eye-catching player and has some attractive traits to her wing role.

#22 Grace Hay (Murray Bushrangers)

An important player in the Bushrangers’ defensive setup, Hay generally uses the ball well aside from the odd kick, and is always mopping up deep in defence. She is a strong interceptor and takes the game on with running meterage, and then puts her body on the line such as a great smother to save a goal in the third term. She was clean off the deck and able to quickly transition from the pickup to a smooth handball in the final quarter, having put together and impressive overall performance.

#17 Keeley Skepper (Murray Bushrangers)

Another strong performance from the bottom-age talent with a penetrating left boot. She showed clean hands at ground level and her usual defensive pressure, with her sidestepping ability to get on her left side and then wind up with a powerful pass always something to enjoy. Skepper is able to take some strong overhead marks and cover the ground well, laying tackles in each of the thirds of the ground, and it is about refining the left boot to match the execution with the technique. Whilst she courageously went up for a mark late in the game, she landed a little awkwardly and was rested.

#46 Zara Hamilton (Murray Bushrangers)

Working with tandem with Smith as the prime ball mover in transition, Hamilton played an impressive game from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. Often she would apply pressure to the opposition to force a turnover such as a dropped mark inside defensive 50, and when she had the ball used it fairly well. Not afraid to use some athleticism to sidestep and opponent and kick long, Hamilton set up a goal to Olivia Cicolini who made no mistake from a free kick in the third term.

OTHERS:

Sophie Trewartha was impressive for the GIANTS, while Eleanor Bishop won plenty of the footy, and the likes of Georgie Jaques and Anita Manning were also solid. For the Bushrangers, Kristy Whitehead, Mindy Quade, Bonny McKean and Chloe Locke worked well in defence, and Mikayla Jones was also among the better players on the day for the losing side.

 

GEELONG FALCONS vs. SYDNEY SWANS ACADEMY

By: Peter Williams

AFLW ACADEMY:

#7 Jessica Doyle (Sydney Swans Academy)

Whilst Doyle might be lightly built, she certainly packs a punch and plenty of talent with her work in the forward half. Working between midfield and forward as one of those taller mids who can provide a marking target inside 50, Doyle has that X-factor about her that catches the eye. She got the ball rolling for her side against the momentum in the first term with an important goal, then stepped up with her side’s third major of the contest, to finish with the two goals from an equal team-high 19 disposals. Moving well around the ground, Doyle was a key playmaker, driving the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#20 Ella Heads (Sydney Swans Academy)

An absolute rock in defence, Heads was a terrific one-on-one opponent, and took a number of strong intercept marks. She would then take the game on and either go for a run or use her composure to go back and search out a target. As the defence was under siege early, Heads did well to hold the fort up and team up well with the likes of Ruby Sargent-Wilson, and think through the defensive transition into attack.

#10 Ruby Sargent-Wilson (Sydney Swans Academy)

Did not need to win a heap of the ball to have an impact, with five rebound 50s from 10 touches. She popped up from time to time during crucial moments, and was one of the Swans’ best on the day. She used the ball well by foot and was composed when she won it, often weaving away from an opponent to provide teammates with something to run onto.

#19 Maddy Hendrie (Sydney Swans Academy)

Hendrie was someone who caught the eye due to her movement in transition, putting the ball into dangerous spots going inside 50. She was not afraid to get her hands dirty with a number of tackles, and even had a chance on goal but missed. Winning the majority of her touches at ground level, Hendrie was a key playmaker in the front half for the Swans throughout the day.

#13 Danika Spamer (Sydney Swans Academy)

A tough competitor who won her fair share of the ball, Spamer laid the equal most tackles for the Swans and really dug deep at the clinches. She was able to extract the ball from the stoppage and keep it moving, and whilst still developing some areas of her game, she showed she could win the ball and cover the field really well, winning possessions in each third of the ground.

#11 Tess Craven (Geelong Falcons)

The Draft Central Player of the Week was absolutely sensational with a competition season-high 31 disposals on the day. She was everywhere, even kicking a goal off a step from just inside 50 to keep the Falcons in the contest, and popped up constantly around the ground. On a number of occasions she just could not quite hold onto a few marks so could have had even more of the pill, but her complete work rate saw her pick up five or more marks, tackles, inside 50s and rebounds just to give a bit of an indication of just how impressive she was in the match. On the most in-form players in the 2021 season.

#4 Poppy Schaap (Geelong Falcons)

Another consistent performer with clean skills and balance, Schaap worked in tandem with Craven throughout the match to ensure the game was controlled out of the midfield. Whilst the Falcons ultimately fell short of victory, Schaap was someone who would put her body on the line, then create her own space and use it well in transition. She was often the player cracking in under multiple opponents to win the contested ball, and then applying her own defensive pressure.

#44 Charlotte Simpson (Geelong Falcons)

Continuing what has been a consistent season, Simpson is the third player in the trio of ball-winning midfielders, and used her strength to advantage in the contest. She was able to win the loose and hard balls, and thump the pill forward to give teammates best chance. At times she can rush with her disposal, but knows how to win the ball and how to protect the ball at ground level, as well as aide with defensive support.

#33 Taiya Morrow (Geelong Falcons)

Really stepped up in defence with the absence of Annie Lee to team up with Elizabeth Dowling back there. She was someone often mopping up on the last line of defence, and then clearing the ball through a long kick to half-back. She put together a four-quarter performance and really came into her own during the match, and is an underrated player in the Falcons’ back six, completing their array of consistent defenders.

OTHERS:

For the Swans, it really was an even team performance, with rucks, Eloise Morgan and April Devine catching the eye, while Kahli Gilchrist and Isadora McLeay also stood out. For the Falcons, Dowling was her reliable self in defence, while Gabbi Featherston and Mia Van Dyke were impressive, as was Analea McKee who played her best game of the season, and Ash Van Loon was fierce before coming off with an injury.

 

TASMANIA DEVILS vs. DANDENONG STINGRAYS

By: Hamish Spence

AFLW ACADEMY:

#11 Perri King (Tasmania Devils)

King finished off her third game in eight days among the best players on the ground once again. Her poise, speed and timing were impressive in the tough conditions, but she still managed to match it around the contest with her 16 disposals and six tackles. One thing that stands out in King’s game is her intent to keep the ball alive and move it forward. While it doesn’t always come off and can result in the occasional mistake, her attacking mindset would have North Melbourne (the AFLW club with her draft rights) excited.

TOP PERFORMERS:  

#7 Meghan Gaffney (Tasmania Devils)

Gaffney’s enjoyed a strong 2021 campaign this year, but Saturday’s game was her finest performance to date. Her gut-running and agility were a luxury for the Devils, as they could distribute the ball to her on the outside and get it away from the contest, where it lived for large parts of the day. She played a typical wingers game, covering the whole ground and racking up plenty of possessions with her line-breaking speed, ultimately finishing with 20 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and three rebound 50s.

#15 Jemma Webster (Tasmania Devils)

Starred at ground level and on the inside, making an impact at every stoppage she attended. Her contested game style was perfectly suited to the congested conditions at Dial Park, with Webster often distributing the ball from the bottom of the pack with her 11 handballs. She racked up 20 disposals in total and kicked a goal, continuing the excellent form that has seen her named in Draft Central’s Team of the Week for the second week in a row.

#16 Ella Maurer (Tasmania Devils)

It was another great game for Maurer through the midfield, but it was the impact she made up forward that will turn some heads. She was the only multiple goalkicker for the game; her first was a set-shot after being hit-up on a lead, and the second was a classy running goal out of the contest. If Maurer can keep adding this element to her game, it will serve her well going forward. She was also tough as usual around stoppages with her 18 disposals and six tackles, constantly absorbing tackles to hand the ball off one of her teammates.

#49 Charlotte Vandenberg (Tasmania Devils)

Was the most dominant ruck on the ground, easily winning the ruck battle with her game-high 17 hit outs. Dandenong rotated several different players against her, but Vandenberg didn’t lower her standards or tire out, asserting her physicality at each contest. What was equally impressive was her follow-up and second efforts at ground level, her six tackles represent her want to impact the game even after the ball’s been bounced.

#6 Amber Clarke (Dandenong Stingrays)

She worked tirelessly all game for the Stingrays, finishing as their leading possession getter with 19 disposals, despite playing out of the forward line. She pushed hard up the ground and used her speed to provide an option for her side, as evidenced by her game-high nine inside 50s. She had three scoring shots on goal, before finally getting some reward for effort with the last goal of the game.

#38 Felicity Crank (Dandenong Stingrays)

Was arguably Dandenong’s best midfielder in defeat on the weekend. She looked comfortable around stoppages in the wet conditions, constantly pushing past players and forcing her way through packs. While Emily Shepherd being out due to injury was a blow, it gave Crank a chance to step up in her absence, an opportunity she fully embraced with her 18 disposals.

#34 Ashleigh Richards (Dandenong Stingrays)

Another key contributor through the middle, Richards impressed with her toughness and competitiveness around the ball. She featured at most stoppages and made an impact with her 12 disposals and three tackles. She didn’t seem to push forward as much as she has done in the past, possibly signalling a more midfield centric role moving forward.

#17 Zoe Hill (Dandenong Stingrays)

Hill continued her excellent form marshalling the Stingrays down back, reading the ball beautifully, despite the wet conditions, and keeping Tasmania’s forward line in check. She kept the likes of Amy Prokopiec accountable after Prokopiec kicked the first goal of the game, while impacting the contest in her own right with her 13 disposals, three tackles and three rebound 50s.

#27 Charley Ryan (Dandenong Stingrays)

She didn’t gather as much of the ball as some other players, but Ryan made an impact whenever she had it in her hands. Every one of her nine disposals was effective and laced with class, which stood in the tough conditions on Saturday. She drove her side’s attacks up forward with six inside 50s and wasn’t afraid to work defensively with her six tackles.

OTHERS:

Aprille Crooks (18 disposals and three rebound 50s) and Priscilla Odwogo (15 disposals, five tackles and five rebound 50s) were Tasmania’s two main movers out of the backline, constantly cutting off the ball and sending it back out. Amy Bissett was an important link-up forward, gathering 14 disposals and three inside 50s in a strong performance. While her fellow winger, Meghan Gaffney, took most of the attention, Madison Brazendale (15 disposals and five tackles) was good in her own right on the opposing wing. Abbey Jordan (17 disposals and two inside 50s) was strong through the middle for Dandenong, matching it with some of the Devils’ best onballers around stoppages. Jemma Radford (nine disposals, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and Mackenzie Eardley (13 disposals, six tackles and two rebound 50s) held up down back and constantly rebounded the ball. Olivia Robinson (13 disposals, five tackles and three inside 50s) was influential at half-forward, working up the field to impact the contest and applying constant pressure.

 

GWV REBELS vs. WESTERN JETS

By: Declan Reeve

AFLW ACADEMY:

#20 Ella Friend (GWV Rebels)

Positioned on the wing for the day, she really showed off her workrate and game reading ability, drifting into the backline to provide assistance down there, getting herself in the best spots to take intercept marks, but also pushing forward to provide pressure and scoring opportunities. It’s particularly impressive how aerially, even if she doesn’t hold the mark she’s never beaten with the follow up at ground level, where she’s composed and measured with her ball use as well.

#30 Nyakoat Dojiok (GWV Rebels)

Really impressive work creating drive from the backline and setting up outside of forward 50 to get the ball straight back in, making it difficult for the Jets to set themselves up defensively again. She showed she understands the game at a high level as well, always doing all she can with the ball in hand, like going for runs, but never pushing it and overestimating what she can do, that mixed with the distance and penetration of her kick can be really damaging.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#15 Chloe Leonard (GWV Rebels)

Coming into the midfield from her usual back flank role, it was a seamless transition for Leonard who topped the disposal charts for the day. All the same attributes that make her such a danger off of half back; her speed, kicking and game sense, were well on show throughout the day as she was often standing beside the Jets Montana Ham around stoppages, and looked to do well in nullifying her whilst getting a lot of it herself. Her tackling around stoppages was really good as well, making it hard for Jets to break free at any stage 

#5 Paige Scott (GWV Rebels)

Had an amazing game playing mostly as the main target for the Rebels inside deep 50, showing her potential to be one of those midfielders that can effectively rest forward. Standing at just the 166 cm, you would’ve thought she was 10 cm taller the way she was flying for every mark and getting a couple of them. It was her work at ground level and in congestion that was most impressive, able to dance around opponents to set up teammates going forward, or handball to an oncoming runner.

#1 Charlotte Baskaran (Western Jets)

The top ball winner for the Jets, Baskaran was her usual composed and classy self throughout the game, with her ball use highly effective and damaging, which played a big part in the Jets second half surge. I really liked that she very rarely just kicks it down the line, she’s always looking to move the ball inside or across for a switch, making it easier for her forwards to get effective shots if they mark it.

#38 Montana Ham (Western Jets)

There’s something very entertaining about watching Ham run straight through stoppages to get the ball moving forward with a long bomb, and she’s just so hard for opponents to stop from doing it. Particularly impressed with how she set up behind the ball for the game, taking on a more defensive focus than we usually see from her, she really effective in creating contests rather than letting the rebels just go end-to-end

#6 Stella Bridgewater (GWV Rebels)

Lined up at centre half-forward to start with, but played one of those games where she could very well have been a midfielder as well, was just everywhere and involved in every area of the ground. Has some really good athletic traits which make her a difficult matchup, either faster or stronger than the opponents rotating on her throughout the game.

#52 Krystal Russell (Western Jets)

Improves more and more every game which is really good to see, and against the Rebels she started putting really direction and distance on her taps, putting it a few meters out in front of teammates already on the move, with her teammates rarely having to slow down for the ball. Her follow up work is good when it’s called upon as well.

OTHERS:

Lili Condon battled hard in the midfield all day for the Rebels, winning plenty of ball, with defensive duo Molly Walton and Stephanie Glover also putting in a good shift in the defensive half for the Rebels, while Kalani Scoullar won the most hitouts across the round. For the Jets, it was some regular contributors in Jemima Woods, Paige Ryan and Stephanie Asciak that battled hard all day in different areas of the ground, with all doing a lot of their work in the midfield.

 

GIPPSLAND POWER vs. CALDER CANNONS

By: Declan Reeve

AFLW ACADEMY:

#41 Georgie Prespakis (Calder Cannons)

It’s kind of ridiculous that she can play half of the game away from the rover roles but still have such a high disposal count and impact everywhere around the ground. It’s obvious she’s been playing more forward and defense in the last couple of weeks, and her output hasn’t dropped at all which is a really great thing to see. Was really impressive especially when playing in the backline, with her willingness to attack the footy and move up the ground playing a big part in Calder’s constant pressure and ball movement forward. Throw in some of her usual side steps and composure under pressure and it was a top level performance where she made essentially no mistakes.

#18 Tahlia Gillard (Calder Cannons)

Had a good game in the ruck where she was tested against one of the best in the comp. What you’re getting with Gillard is a ruck that, even if she doesn’t win the tap her follow up work is unmatchable, with work below her knees being a major strength for someone as tall as she is. Throw on top of this her ability to impact up forward or around the ground as a really good aerially presence and user of the footy and she’s such a valuable player, which was on show against Power.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#25 Lily Rose Williamson (Gippsland Power)

Her run-and-carry is a delight to watch, she’s got a good mix of power/strength as well as composure to understand what her limits are, so it was rare to see her get herself into trouble despite her tendency for that run-and carry. She’s really accountable in defense, even on the occasion her opponent does win the ball they won’t get an easy disposal afterwards with her tackling and relentless pressure. With more time in the midfield, I have no doubt she’ll become one of the stronger stoppage players in the competition.

#5 Neve Crowley (Calder Cannons)

She has such a high impact with her disposal that even without racking up big numbers she’s one of the most damaging players during any given game, and her switch to the forwardline after spending the last few games as a defender proves that with her game high 3 goal haul. A really impressive part of her game was how much she worked up the ground as well, then worked harder than her opponent in transition to impact the play. Another impressive part of her game was her marking, taking a good contested mark in the first quarter.

#10 Olivia Manfre (Calder Cannons)

She’s been on the verge of having a breakout game for a couple of weeks and all it took was a game where she got a really good run in the midfield to do it. A lot of what she’s displayed up forward with her leading patterns, disposal skills and footy IQ shined in the midfield as well, making really good runs around stoppages to get in the best positions, and could then get the ball to outside runners or kick it forward.. She still had her stints up forward as well, getting a goal for her efforts, showing that she’s got that capability of a midfield/forward split going forward.

#2 Reese Sutton (Calder Cannons)

In a similar sense to Manfre she’s been on the verge of a breakout game for a couple of weeks, and with increased midfield time she took it with both hands, her footy IQ on display around stoppages where she does well to put herself where the ball is going to be. Her kicking is a real delight, finding the better options more often than not with well weighted kicks.

#3 Emelia Yassir (Calder Cannons)

Super impressive through the midfield all day, with her burst of speed in particular looking good coming out of stoppages or contests, always followed by a quality kick forward or handball to an outside team mate. Once again was impressed by her two-way running, where she’d be involved in the forwardline, and then pop up in the backline a minute later when Gippsland got a turn over.

#5 Yasmin Duursma (Gippsland Power)

Looking at her play a game, and she just understands it at a really high level. Despite not racking up huge numbers she has really good moments throughout the game where her game sense and footy IQ are on display with her positioning or runs she’s making, especially when reading the ball off of the rucks hands. Her disposal skills under pressure were also really impressive, and contributed to some really good passages for Gippsland

#1 Sunday Brisbane (Gippsland Power)

Really crafty midfielder, who despite her size isn’t afraid to get involved  in the contested side of the game, and that relentless attack on the ball is really advantageous for Gippsland, especially with her handballing being at a good level, even with Calder tightening up on her later on.

OTHERS:

Gippsland had a few admirable performers despite the loss, with Courtney Fletcher winning quite a bit of ball around the ground. Tall duo Matilda Van Berkel and Grace Matser were solid in defense and the Ruck respectively and Grace McRae still impacted well despite having a quieter game than usual. The Cannons had plenty of others that performed their role well, Zali Friswell again being a good ball winner and contributor in other areas around the ground, bottom-ager Abbey McDonald continues to work into her role as rebounding defender really well, and winger Mia Briedis was winning it plenty.

 

NORTHERN KNIGHTS vs. EASTERN RANGES

By: Michael Alvaro

AFLW ACADEMY:

#11 Maykaylah Appleby (Northern Knights)

Appleby was again promising in patches for the Knights, with her speed and running ability evident but not dominant over the course of a highly contested game. She could have been the perfect player to break the contest open on the outside and threatened to do so with ball in hand. Her class shone through with clean takes and use in possession, especially during the third and fourth quarters as Northern began to arrest momentum and mount its extraordinary comeback.

TOP PERFORMERS:

#36 Ava Jordan (Northern Knights)

The best player afield and at 15 years of age, one who has already set the bar high with many seasons left to prosper in the underage pathways. Jordan was a constant figure at the stoppages, using her zippy turn of speed to burst away with ball in hand and thrust Northern onto the front foot. She dug in hard despite her diminutive stature and was the standout performer across four quarters, while also standing up in the clutch moments. Her third term goal gave Northern a sniff, and her second put the Knights within striking distance during term four, capping off what was an outstanding individual performance which inspired her team to victory.

#4 Keeley Sherar (Eastern Ranges)

Eastern’s most outstanding performer on the day, Sherar worked furiously hard to ensure her side would boss the midfield battle early on. All bar one of her 16 disposals were kicks, highlighting Sherar’s ability to gain meterage from the coalface and make an impact where it matters most. Her marking prowess was also on show and the Ranges coaches would have been pleased by her work-rate to not only win possession in all areas of the ground, but to also tackle hard when required. After kicking the second goal of the game, Sherar was set up for a big day and followed through.

#15 Tarrah Delgado (Northern Knights)

With everything to gain late in the contest, Northern pulled the trigger and sent Delgado into the centre bounces – a move which ultimately played a massive part in the final result. Previously, the reliable top-ager was seen intercepting and rebounding in her usual defensive post, which proved key to Northern remaining a chance to turn around and win. At 173cm, her presence was then felt through midfield where she willed the ball forward and booted a crucial goal at the start of term four to spark Northern’s game-winning charge.

#14 Alyssia Pisano (Eastern Ranges)

Another of the 2005-birth brigade, Pisano continues to find the goals for Eastern and impact games up forward. An impressive 14 of her 15 disposals came via foot, and five of them were inside 50 entries, showcasing the creative threat that Pisano presents. Her two goals came with a touch of class and were taken in quick succession during the first term, helping Eastern skip out to what should have been a defining lead. The 15-year-old has plenty of time to develop further and potentially try her hand up the field, but looks so comfortable at the level as a forward.

#22 Ella Smallacombe (Northern Knights)

One of Northern’s key factors up forward, Smallacombe, or ‘Big Brush’ as she is referred to by teammates notched a career-high 17 disposals as she worked hard up the ground to provide a viable target and help link the Knights into their attacking 50. She may not have found the big sticks in this outing, but moreso played to a role which allowed Northern to keep its forward momentum going and have someone who could skilfully deliver the ball into dangerous areas.

#44 Grace Campbell (Eastern Ranges)

One of the competition’s most exciting ruck prospects, Campbell was able to showcase her athleticism and raw ability on the ball in this outing. At over 180cm, her aerial nous is an obvious strength and she brought it to the fore with a game-high 19 hitouts to go with three eye-catching marks. She is one of the few players who can take the ball at its highest point, but not one to admire her work for long, Campbell also showed a knack for playing on straight away and moving through traffic like a much smaller player. She missed the chance to cap off a promising outing with scoreboard impact, with one guilt-edge chance to put Eastern back ahead during the fourth term drifting into the post.

OTHERS:

Both sides had a raft of handy contributors during the day, with plenty of hard workers placed on each line. Eastern had the likes of Jess Grace and Isabelle Khoury return from VFLW duties with aplomb, while Grace Walsh was strong in defence alongside Cadhla Schmidli, and Bridget Deed was reliable in midfield. Northern leader Teleah Smart was also busy in the engine room, aided by the combativeness of stand-in ruck Monique Ramsay. Lulu Beatty was another to impress, while Rylie Wilcox was lively inside 50 and Trinity Mills popped up for a couple of clutch goals.

2021 AFLW Preview: North Melbourne Kangaroos

PERENNIAL premiership contender, North Melbourne will be hoping to bounce into consecutive finals series’ after its promising 2020 run was cut short. The Roos managed to maintain much of their strong core heading into this season and have added even more quality – not just to the overall squad, but also to the starting lineup with a star returnee. Under new head coach, Darren Crocker, expectations will be high at Arden Street.

2020 RECAP

A shock opening round loss to Melbourne could have derailed North Melbourne’s season before it even started, but instead served to emphatically kick the Roos into gear. The Roos got on the board with a steady three-goal win over GWS in Round 2 and never looked back, notching three victories of over 40 points among a fearsome undefeated run heading into finals. After finishing top of Conference A at 5-1, North was very nearly handed another upset loss in the postseason, but narrowly accounted for Collingwood to qualify for the would-have-been preliminary finals round. Skipper Emma Kearney was named vice-captain of the All Australian squad, joined by fellow midfielders Jasmine Garner and Ash Riddell in the side as outstanding individual performers. Kaitlyn Ashmore finished as leading goalkicker with 10 goals, one major ahead of Garner in the most potent side competition-wide.

NEW FACES

A handful of draftees were joined by emerging former-Richmond midfielder Grace Campbell in finding their way to Arden Street, adding some spark and plenty of potential to the Roos’ squad depth. 25-year-old Campbell is a raw talent who brings plenty of speed and tenacity to the engine room, making the squeeze for spots all the more tight after five appearances in her debut AFLW season.

Bella Eddey headlined the Roos’ draft haul at pick 13 and is aptly nicknamed ‘Silk’, credit to her wonderful skill on the ball. The 18-year-old will likely start forward alongside fellow NAB League graduate Alice O’Loughlin, but both have the potential to move through midfield in future. Also among the fresh faces are surprise father-daughter selection Amy Smith, VFLW coup Georgia Hammond, and Tasmanian Brooke Brown. North VFLW product Katelyn Cox was also given a chance through unlisted free agency after Elisha King‘s season-ending hamstring injury.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Fans of all clubs will likely be looking forward to seeing what Jess Duffin can produce upon her return in 2021, with the former Magpie ready to add to her seven outings in the blue and white during 2019. An All Australian that season, the 31-year-old is far from finished in the top flight and will slot straight back into the Roos’ defensive setup. Her clean skills will only aid North’s ability to move the ball efficiently via foot, only raising her side’s potential to hurt the opposition going forward. With stars aplenty already littered across the Roos’ starting side, Duffin looks primed to serve a reminder of her own talents.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

Kearney, Garner, Riddell, Jenna Bruton – the list goes on. This North Melbourne side is stacked through the midfield and as has already been showcased, the Roos are as lethal as any side going forward. Dominating out of the middle goes a long way to doing exactly that on the scoreboard, which is the most significant factor in North’s premiership potential. Kearney and Garner can find the goals, there’s Emma King rotating forward through the ruck, Kate Gillespie-Jones standing tall, and the dynamic duo of Ashmore and Daisy Bateman inside 50 – all of whom prove that North has the stock to capitalise on its engine room prowess.

QUESTION MARK

It is difficult to find a fault with this North Melbourne side on paper, but one may ponder whether the Roos have missed the boat. 2019 may have been their inaugural season, but the Roos missed finals despite looking like a top two contender. Their run was cut short last year through no fault of their own, so can they maintain that level of performance for a third year running? Other teams like Fremantle and Carlton are only getting better, while Adelaide will be hungry to bounce back from a down season. The Roos have the stock and have only added to that, but the pressure will be on.

FINAL WORD

One of the competition’s powerhouse teams will surely accept nothing less than another finals win in 2021, with the chance for a maiden AFL Women’s premiership beckoning. The Roos’ stars are aligning and there are very few weaknesses to be exploited across the ground, making Crocker’s side one of the teams to beat once again. A tough early-mid-season fixture will truly test North’s credentials.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Top 5 AFLW recruits for 2021

THERE were several important off-season trades that will impact AFL Women’s, as some big names moved to premiership contenders and others relocated in search of a fresh start.

We at Draft Central have decided to name what we consider the top five AFLW recruits ahead of the 2021 season.

Elise O’Dea (Carlton)

Former Melbourne co-captain O’Dea was the biggest coup of the trade period, as she will immediately boost the Blues’ midfield and provide valuable leadership. In her four years at the Demons, O’Dea averaged 17 disposals, four tackles, three inside 50s and three marks per game. It will be daunting for opponents to have to deal with O’Dea playing alongside the likes of AFLW best and fairest Maddy Prespakis and Darcy Vescio at Ikon Park.

Grace Campbell (North Melbourne)

Campbell was a surprise inclusion for North Melbourne over the trade period and will add important depth to their midfield. Coming from Richmond, Campbell has strong contested ball traits and makes good decisions under pressure at stoppages. She averaged 12 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s in her debut season. Learning from the likes of Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney will only help elevate the 24-year-old’s game, so expect her to help the Kangaroos contend for the 2021 premiership.

Sarah D’Arcy (Richmond)

One of three Sarah’s moving to Richmond in 2021, D’Arcy will bring significant experience and football smarts to Punt Road. The 28-year-old played 24 games and kicked ten goals for Collingwood while averaging 10 disposals, three marks and two tackles across her four seasons. Richmond’s Head of Women’s Football Kate Sheehan said that the club hopes to reinvent D’Arcy as an attacking half-back. This will be an interesting development to keep an eye on.

Sarah Hosking (Richmond)

Hosking has not missed a match since AFLW’s launch in 2017 and will be a major addition to the Tigers’ lineup. Crossing from Carlton, the 24-year-old midfielder is brilliant at the contest and will provide fantastic support for Richmond’s reigning best and fairest winner Monique Conti. Hosking averaged 11 disposals, three tackles and three marks in 2020, and she is also capable of hitting the scoreboard.

Aisling McCarthy (West Coast)

McCarthy is an important addition to West Coast’s midfield, as they prioritised increasing their midfield depth in the off-season. The Irishwoman started her AFLW career as a forward but transitioned into the Bulldogs’ engine room in 2020, averaging 13 disposals, four tackles, three marks and two inside 50s across the six matches. For her efforts, McCarthy finished fourth in the Victorian club’s best and fairest. Do not be surprised if she features heavily in West Coast’s count at the conclusion of 2021.

Picture credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

AFLW: Players to watch from your club in 2021 – Part 2

As we lead into the 2021 AFL Women’s season, we are highlighting the top players to watch from each club. In Part 1 Draft Central highlighted key players to keep an eye out for from Adelaide, Brisbane, Carlton, Collingwood and Fremantle as some big names across the AFLW world return ahead of Round 1 for pre-season. With all of this in mind, here is Part 2 of the series detailing our top players to watch from each club in 2021.


Geelong: Meg McDonald
McDonald won Geelong’s 2019 best and fairest after courageously playing the final three games of the season with a stress fracture in her foot. Her injury woes continued in 2020, as she had to miss the first two rounds with a finger fracture. She produced a strong output when she returned, averaging 14 disposals, four marks, two rebound 50s and two tackles across four matches. The former Bulldog is a great intercept mark and reliable mover of the ball. Expect McDonald to make a significant impact in her fourth AFLW season and be one of the favourites for Geelong’s best and fairest once again.

Gold Coast: Kalinda Howarth
Howarth was one of the unexpected stars of the 2020 AFLW season. The crafty forward kicked nine goals in seven matches, including a four-goal haul against West Coast and three goals in the drawn QClash. She also found plenty of the ball and applied some strong tackling pressure, all of which helped her earn a selection in the 2020 AFLW All-Australian team. The 21-year-old will hope to build on that momentum and lead the Suns to their first finals victory in 2021.

GWS: Alyce Parker
One of AFLW’s youngest stars, 19-year-old Parker was her side’s best midfielder in 2020. She averaged an impressive 21 disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s, with her strongest performance coming in round six against the Crows when she had 30 disposals, seven marks and three tackles. GWS were a strong side that finished second in their conference, which only made it more impressive that Parker led the club in disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, clearances, score involvements, inside 50s and rebound 50s. Parker made the All-Australian side for her efforts and looks set to take the next step by challenging for AFLW’s best and fairest award in 2021.

Melbourne: Tyla Hanks
Hanks is undoubtedly one of Melbourne’s brightest young stars and looks set for a huge year in 2021. She had a fantastic second season in 2020, earning more midfield minutes after starting her AFLW career as a forward. The 20-year-old led her side for tackles with an average of just below five per game, and she also averaged ten disposals. Expect her to spend even more time in the middle in 2021 and really showcase that go-get it mentality.

North Melbourne: Grace Campbell
Campbell was a surprise inclusion for North Melbourne over the trade period and will immediately add to a midfield that already includes the likes of Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney. Coming from Richmond, Campbell has strong contested ball traits and makes good decisions under pressure at stoppages. She averaged 12 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s in her debut season. Expect her to build on this and help the Kangaroos contend for the 2021 premiership.

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Geelong & North Melbourne

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Victoria, in Geelong and North Melbourne.

Geelong Cats – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 10 (5), 20 (13), 21 (14), 27 (19)

Off-season summary:

As if often the case, Geelong was rarely sighted throughout the sign and trade period, through the Cats made the bold move of bolstering their draft hand by parting with pick five. In return for said pick, along with number 35 and a fourth rounder, Geelong received selections 10, 20, 27, and 39. The move was in line with the Cats’ strong youth focus and trend of growing from within, with a bumper draft likely to see them build on a two-win 2020 season. Mel Hickey was a major retiree along with Anna Teague, while Gemma Wright and Cassie Blakeway were delisted. A steady turnover of players bodes well for squad stability, and the lure of local players should see some fit right in come draft time.

A draft look:

The forwardline is arguably Geelong’s greatest priority, in need of both tall and small options. Some key position depth up the other end wouldn’t hurt either, while the midfield is a known strength of the squad at full capacity. Local Geelong Falcons guns Laura Gardiner and Darcy Moloney are likely first-rounders, but hardly fit the bill in terms of squad needs as ball winning midfielders. With the Geelong nomination zone scrapped, the Cats can look to a wider Victorian pool with their selections. They’d be thrilled if Alyssa Bannan gets through to the fifth Victorian pick, an athletic key forward who is raring to play Round 1 in 2021. Fellow key position outlets Sarah Hartwig, Olivia Barber and Isabelle Pritchard could also suit a need, while the likes of Maggie Caris, Nikia Webber and Shanara Notman loom as other long-term tall options.

North Melbourne – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 13 (8), 22 (15), 43 (29), 48 (31), 55

Off-season summary:

The Roos didn’t need to add much to their stacked list, but went about securing Grace Campbell as yet another midfield option – nabbing her from Richmond in exchange for pick 43. Slightly improving their draft hand in a three-way trade was also shrewd, moving up to pick 22 from 29 to have two picks within the top 15 in terms of the Victorian pool. North lost two players to other clubs in Abbey Green (Collingwood) and Jess Trend (Fremantle), while Taylor Mesiti was the sole retiree, and Chloe and Libby Haines were among four players to be delisted. Jess Duffin should also act as somewhat of a new recruit as she returns to the fold.

A draft look:

As mentioned, the Roos lay claim to a couple of picks within the top 15 of the Victorian pool. With no real pressing list needs, they can essentially select the best available at that range and get some great value from a strong local crop. With their later selections, a project ruck option could be the way to go in lieu of Green’s departure, with Tasmanian tall Charlie Vandenberg a likely suitor late in the draft. Of course, North Melbourne has also secured an historic father-daughter selection in Amy Smith, the daughter of Shaun. The athletic midfielder was a bolt from the blue among this year’s nominees, with the Kangaroos committing to her despite not being able to play at VFLW level in 2020.

Featured Image: New North Melbourne father-daughter recruit Amy Smith | Source: NMFC.com.au

2020 AFL Women’s Trade and Free Agency Tracker

AFL WOMEN’S TRADE / FREE AGENCY TRACKER:

ADELAIDE:

IN: Jess Sedunary, Lisa Whiteley, Hannah Munyard, Pick 42, Pick 45
OUT: Pick 20, Pick 34, Pick 42

BRISBANE:

IN: Taylor Smith, Pick 37, Pick 51
OUT: Pick 24

CARLTON:

IN: Elise O’Dea, Maddy Guerin, Charlotte Hammans, Pick 36
OUT: Sarah Hosking, Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42, Pick 56

COLLINGWOOD:

IN: Abbey Green, Aliesha Newman, Pick 19, Pick 25, Pick 31, Pick 33
OUT: Sarah D’Arcy, Sarah Dargan, Katie Lynch, Pick 10, Pick 40

FREMANTLE:

IN: Jess Trend, Pick 46
OUT: Tayla Bresland, Pick 44

GEELONG:

IN: Pick 10, Pick 20. Pick 27, Pick 39
OUT: Pick 5, Pick 35, Pick 49

GOLD COAST:

IN: Alison Drennan, Pick 56
OUT: Charlotte Hammans, Taylor Smith, Pick 37, Pick

GWS

IN: Kat Smith, Pick 29, Pick 42
OUT: Lisa Whiteley, Pick 25, Pick 39

MELBOURNE:

IN: Pick 5, Pick 15, Pick 17, Pick 35, Pick 41, Pick 49
OUT: Aleisha Newman, Harriet Cordner, Bianca Jakobsson, Kat Smith, Elise O’Dea, Maddy Guerin, Pick 11, Pick 27

NORTH MELBOURNE:

IN: Grace Campbell, Pick 22, Pick 44, Pick 50
OUT: Abbey Green, Jess Trend, Pick 40, Pick 43, Pick 57

RICHMOND:

IN: Sarah Hosking, Sarah D’Arcy, Sarah Dargan, Harriet Cordner, Pick 43
OUT: Grace Campbell, Pick 17, Pick 31, Pick 45

ST KILDA:

IN: Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 24, Pick 34, Pick 40, Pick 57
OUT: Jess Sedunary, Alison Drennan, Pick 22, Pick 36, Pick 50

WEST COAST:

IN: Aisling McCarthy, Tayla Bresland, Pick 3
OUT: Pick 2, Pick 16, Pick 46

WESTERN BULLDOGS:

IN: Katie Lynch, Pick 2, Pick 11, Pick 16
OUT: Aisling McCarthy, Hannah Munyard, Pick 3, Pick 19, Pick 33

 

2020 AFL WOMEN’S LIVE DRAFT ORDER:

First Round:

1. Richmond
2. Western Bulldogs
3. West Coast
4. Adelaide
5. Melbourne
6. St Kilda
7. Gold Coast
8. Brisbane
9. GWS GIANTS
10. Melbourne
11. Western Bulldogs
12. Carlton
13. North Melbourne
14. Fremantle
15. Melbourne
16. Western Bulldogs

Second Round:

17. Melbourne
18. West Coast
19. Collingwood
20. Geelong
21. Geelong
22. North Melbourne
23. Gold Coast
24. St Kilda
25. Collingwood
26. Collingwood
27. Geelong
28. Carlton
29. GWS GIANTS
30. Fremantle

Third Round:

31. Collingwood
32. West Coast
33. Collingwood
34. St Kilda
35. Melbourne
36. Carlton
37. Brisbane
38. Brisbane
39. Geelong
40. St Kilda
41. Melbourne
42. GWS GIANTS
43. Richmond
44. North Melbourne

Fourth Round:

45. Adelaide
46. Fremantle
47. Western Bulldogs
48. Adelaide
49. Melbourne
50. North Melbourne
51. Brisbane
52. Brisbane
53. GWS GIANTS
54. Collingwood
55. Melbourne
56. Gold Coast
57. St Kilda
58. Fremantle

AFL Women’s Trade and Free Agency update: Monday, August 3 – Richmond, North and Carlton busy on day one

RICHMOND has looked to experience to bolster its AFL Women’s midfield stocks and help Monique Conti out by acquiring Carlton midfielder, Sarah Hosking. The tough ball winner will cross to Punt Road in exchange for Richmond’s end of first round compensation pick, 15th overall. The pick allows Carlton to have two selections inside the top 10 of the Victorian pool, effectively picks seven and nine (12 and 15 overall). Hosking is a clearance player who provides run and will help bolster a Tigers midfield that really struggled in 2019.

However whilst Tigers fans would have rejoiced at the sight of adding an experienced midfielder to the fold, they would also be disappointed to hear one of their brightest stars has left to play for North Melbourne. Grace Campbell will swap her yellow and black for blue and white for the bargain basement price of Pick 43. Campbell averaged 12 touches and six tackles in season 2020, and the 24-year-old showed plenty of promise.

In the game of round-about, Kangaroos’ ruck Abbey Green has headed to the Magpies to provide some support in the ruck for Sharni Layton with the Pies handing over Pick 40 in the process, providing the Roos with another third round pick.

Another trade involving a late swap of picks was between Carlton and St Kilda, with former VFL Women’s Rising Star, Jayde Van Dyk heading to St Kilda with pick 42 in exchange for pick 36, effectively giving the Blues a slight upgrade in the third round. The defender will be a welcome addition to Moorabbin next season, continuing the youth presence there.

Off the trade front, Collingwood 2019 draftee, Machaelia Roberts has called time on her career, joining Eliza Hynes in retirement from the Magpies. Among those also previously having announced their retirements are Adelaide quartet Courtney Cramey, Jess Foley, Courtney Gum and Sophie Li, Richmond duo Laura Bailey and Lauren Tesoriero, St Kilda’s Emma Mackie, West Coast’s Talia Radan, Western Bulldogs’ Nicole Callinan and of course, Demon turned Cats champion, Melissa Hickey.

AFL WOMEN’S TRADE / FREE AGENCY TRACKER:

CARLTON:

IN: Pick 15, Pick 36
OUT: Sarah Hosking, Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42

COLLINGWOOD:

IN: Abbey Green
OUT: Pick 40

NORTH MELBOURNE:

IN: Grace Campbell, Pick 40
OUT: Abbey Green, Pick 43

RICHMOND:

IN: Sarah Hosking, Pick 43
OUT: Grace Campbell

ST KILDA:

IN: Jayde Van Dyk, Pick 42
OUT: Pick 36

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Richmond

A BAPTISM of fire awaited Richmond in its highly-anticipated inaugural AFL Women’s campaign, going winless in the shortened six-round season despite having made one of the more eye-catching expansion team recruiting drives. Skippered by veteran former-Bulldog marquee Katie Brennan, the Tigers began life in the elite competition with a 34-point thumping at the hands of Carlton, and never quite recovered.

Brennan missed the last month of the season, leaving much of the on-field leadership down to Monique Conti‘s brilliance through midfield, while a relatively inexperienced list exterior needed time to settle in. Starting from the bottom, relive the highs and lows of Richmond’s maiden AFLW run in our first of 14 club-by-club reviews, with key players highlighted throughout.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Carlton by 34 points
R2: lost to Gold Coast by 11 points
R3: lost to North Melbourne by 56 points
R4:
lost to Geelong by 22 points
R5:
lost to GWS by 45 points
R6:
lost to St Kilda by 39 points

Five losses by over 22 points tell the story of Richmond’s efforts this season, which were capped off by a record breaking effort in Round 6 – for the wrong reasons – in becoming the first AFLW side to be held goalless for an entire match. There were a total of 17 goalless terms for the Tigers in a season where they clearly struggled for territory and thus, goals. The closest the Tigers came to victory was in Round 2 against fellow expansion team, Gold Coast on the road, but they kicked themselves out of the contest with 0.8 after quarter time. It was tough going from that point with a 56-point loss to North Melbourne coming next, but an entertaining game against Geelong was a relative high point, as the Tigers booted a season-best 7.3 (45).

SEASON HIGH: The four-goal third term against Geelong

While it may not sound like much of a high, Richmond’s big third term effort against Geelong gave fans a taste of what may be to come once the Tigers can jell. In a game where Richmond eclipsed its goal effort from the entire first three rounds, over half of them came in that third quarter and gave the Tigers a sniff of victory. While it was not to be, the four majors across a scintillating 10 minutes contributed to the side’s greatest AFLW score in what was Brennan’s final game for the year.

SEASON LOW: Posting the first ever goalless game against St Kilda

Becoming the competition’s first side to go through a game without a goal is disappointing enough, but to do it against a fellow expansion side would have compounded the hurt following Richmond’s Round 6 fixture. The Tigers were also held scoreless for half the match, with their three points scored over the second and fourth terms at Moorabbin. Credit must go to the fantastic Saints, who were simply on fire on home turf against the lacklustre Tigers.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Katie Brennan (12.3 disposals, 1.5 marks, 4 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1.8 inside 50s, 0.25 goals)

A transition to midfield beckoned for Brennan as her fresh start began, with the experienced former-forward looking to lead from the engine room. While her leadership and invaluable experience put the Tigers in good stead, Brennan unfortunately struggled to get her own game going at times with a season-high disposal haul of 14. Brennan’s season was unfortunately cut short in Round 4 due to concussion, with her best form evading her.

Monique Conti (19.8 disposals, 2.7 marks, 4.8 tackles, 2.7 rebound 50s, 3.2 inside 50s)

Far and away Richmond’s best performer across the whole season, Conti was simply phenomenal as the Tigers’ prime ball winner. In just her third AFLW season, the former prize draft pick became an out-and-out star in returning her greatest disposal average across the six games, while also showing her tenacity on the defensive side. An ever-present for the Tigers, Conti can hold her head up – particularly for her form in the final three weeks when her side struggled most in Brennan’s absence.

Akec Makur Chuot (9.5 disposals, 1.3 marks, 2 tackles, 3.7 rebound 50s, 0.8 inside 50s)

One of the great finds for Richmond this season was 27-year-old Makur Chuot, who worked to provide a cool head among Richmond’s back six in her maiden AFLW season. The 178cm defender impressed on debut in Round 1 against Carlton with her positioning and ability to impact a number of contests, while her rebound 50 numbers across the entire season serve as a reminder of her willingness to turn defence into attack. Full credit for playing a difficult role well.

Phoebe Monahan (17.2 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.8 tackles, 6.8 rebound 50s, 1.8 inside 50s)

Perhaps one of the less-heralded recruits for Richmond among a raft of big names was Monahan, who played arguably the most important and difficult role in the struggling Tigers side. After two seasons with GWS, the 26-year-old upped her numbers massively in shouldering the brunt of her side’s defensive duties. Monahan mopped up as well as any defender this year and was aggressive on the rebound with much of the ball spent in her own half. A fantastic pick-up, who is now a pivotal leader in the side.

Courtney Wakefield (6.4 disposals, 3.8 marks, 2.6 tackles, 4 goals)

One of the great success stories out of this season is that of Wakefield, who flourished upon being involved in the Richmond set-up as early as in its VFLW campaign. The 180cm key forward combined well with marquee recruit Sabrina Frederick close to goal, providing a target but with limited opportunity. She finished as the Tiger’s leading goalkicker (four) in their inaugural season, with her personal best of three majors coming against Geelong in Round 4.

YOUNG GUN:

Kodi Jacques (8.2 disposals, 1.2 marks, 5.3 tackles, 1.2 rebound 50s, 1.2 inside 50s)

Another to be picked up out of Richmond’s VFLW list, Jacques took her opportunity at the elite level with both hands after being overlooked in her draft year. The tenacious midfielder may not have won bucketloads of the ball, but contributed around the contest with her fierce defensive work to keep the Tigers in the hunt. The 19-year-old led her side for tackles (32), and looked comfortable in her debut top flight season with a good base to now improve upon.

SURPRISE PACKET:

Grace Campbell (12.4 disposals, 5.6 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 2 inside 50s)

Yes, another who represented the Tigers at VFLW level. Campbell more than justified her berth in the AFLW squad and captured fans’ attention with a spirited Round 2 debut against Gold Coast. Thrust straight into the midfield, Campbell’s speed and courage at stoppages made her an instant hit and while she may still possess very raw skills, has plenty of time to improve upon a promising first year at just 24 years of age. Another who can work both ways, and works hard.

Others who have stood out: Christina Bernardi, Sabrina Frederick, Sophie Molan

An odd combination of players among the others to have stood out, with big-name recruits Bernardi and Frederick showing glimpses of their outstanding best, while prize draftee Molan had a solid debut campaign. Frederick could arguably have been in the top five performers group on the back of a three-goal season where she led the club for contested marks, but perhaps did not deliver on lofty standards set. Bernardi was a touch unlucky throughout the season in front of goal and had limited opportunities as a permanent forward, but definitely had more expected of her – especially after the first two rounds. Molan, as diligent a worker as any draftee, worked into her first taste of elite senior football well, applying good work at the contest to round out the group.

2020 AFL Women’s Round 5 review: Cats go back-to-back as Pies bounce back

IT was a round of blowouts in the AFL Women’s with the closest game a 20-point win in favour of the Cats. North Melbourne and Melbourne once again showed their class with some impressive performances across the weekend while Collingwood got back into the winner’s books after two straight losses. Our match of the round was Fremantle’s win over Brisbane to remain undefeated on top of the table.

GOLD COAST 0.3 | 2.4 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GEELONG 1.2 | 1.4 | 4.6 | 5.8 (38)

Taylah Melki

In the first game of the round the Cats flexed their muscles away from home with a hard-fought win over inaugural side Gold Coast. The led ebbed and flowed with Geelong getting the early ascendancy before the Suns hit back in the second with two goals to none to claim the lead. But that is where it ended with the Cats putting their foot down in the second half and doing plenty of damage on the scoreboard while limiting Gold Coast to a mere two points across the final half. It was an inaccurate display from both sides with a combined total of 14 missed shots but somehow Geelong found a way to win making it two on the trot. The Cats won a heap of the footy and most importantly were effective by both foot and hand going at 66 per cent compared to Suns 53 per cent while their efficiency inside the forward 50 was where most of their damage was done with Phoebe McWilliams reaping the rewards of good ball movement and space opening the account for the Cats.

Geelong were led by their young brigade of midfielders with star Nina Morrison racking up the touches with a team-high 22. Her ball winning ability has gone from strength to strength this season and paired with her tackling pressure, amassing seven for the game Morrison showed why she is so crucial to the Cats. She was not alone though, with Olivia Purcell chiming in and doing just as much damage with 21 touches, 14 of those kicks. Richelle Cranston continued her merry way with the talented footballer using her booming kick to full effect and slotting a timely goal in the third quarter to establish a handy lead for her side along with 18 touches. Other key contributors such as Renee Garing and Amy McDonald also had a major influence across the ground with their ability to win the footy at the coalface and dispose of it cleanly. McWilliams led the charge in terms of goals with two for the evening while Georgia Clarke and Anna Teague both managed to apply scoreboard pressure with a major each.

Despite going down by 20-points the Suns had plenty of positives to come out of their clash with 24-year-old Jamie Stanton absolutely dominating. Stanton was involved in everything in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 23 touches, two marks, five tackles and a goal. While she will be disappointed she did not kick more accurately finishing with 1.2 Stanton was the shining light for the Suns. Jacqui Yorston was the only other goal scorer with the 165cm forward working hard for each of her 16 touches and putting on a tackling clinic to finish with 10 to her name. Kalinda Howarth also had an impact throughout the four quarters with her 18 disposals while Jade Pregelj was the next best when it came to possessions with 16. Captain Leah Kaslar was relatively well held throughout the match kept to 10 disposals but her physical pressure was up and about laying six tackles.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, J. Yorston
Geelong: P. McWilliams 2, R. Cranston, A. Teague, G. Clarke

BESTS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, K. Howarth, J. Yorston, L. Kaslar, J. Pregelj
Geelong: N. Morrison, O. Purcell, R. Cranston, P. McWilliams, A. McDonald

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 | 5.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)
ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

Tom Cheesman

North Melbourne asserted themselves as a premiership contender with a huge 42-point victory over an undermanned Adelaide in Hobart on Saturday. In wet, blustery conditions the Roos dominated the disposals (268-205), clearances (105-87) and marks inside 50 (14-4). It was North’s fourth consecutive win, strengthening their position in the top two of Conference B. For Adelaide, it was their second poor loss in a row after losing the grand final rematch against Carlton last week.

The first quarter was highly congested with both teams applying significant pressure at stoppages and around the ground. This was expected from North who are one of the best tackling sides in the competition, but Adelaide stepped up in the first term to match their intensity.

North took control of the contest in the second quarter, dominating time in possession by simply outworking Adelaide. The Roos looked dangerous every time they went inside 50 and Adelaide struggled to transition the ball into their forward half. North kicked three goals to nil in the term as small forwards Kaitlyn Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo made a major impact.

Things got even better for North after half time, as Adelaide continued to fumble and make skill errors while North were clean and efficient. The Roos’ pressure proved too much and they kicked the first four goals of the half. Stevie-Lee Thompson kicked two majors in the final five minutes to make the scoreline slightly more appealing for Adelaide fans, but North went home with a comprehensive victory.

Jasmine Garner was best on ground by a long way, simply a class above anyone else. She finished with 24 disposals, four tackles, seven marks and two goals. Ashmore was outstanding up forward with four goals, while midfielders Emma Kearney (26 disposals) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, six tackles) were strong all day. Anne Hatchard was the sole shining light for the Crows with 23 disposals and eight tackles.

North will be confident going into their Friday night blockbuster against the Cats next weekend. Meanwhile, Adelaide will be hoping star Erin Phillips returns from injury next Sunday to help reverse their fortunes in a huge game against GWS.

GOALS:
North Melbourne: K. Ashmore 4, S. Abbatangelo, J. Garner 2, E. King
Adelaide: S. Thompson 2, D. Ponter

ADC BEST:
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, S. Abbatangelo
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, S. Thompson, E. Marinoff

GWS GIANTS 2.5 | 3.8 | 4.13 | 7.14 (52)
RICHMOND 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 (11)

Taylah Melki

Another round, another loss for the Tigers with the GIANTS well and truly trouncing their opposition to run out 41 point victors. It was a convincing performance from the home side who announced their dominance from the opening bounce scoring a goal in the first minute of the game thanks to a red-hot Cora Staunton. The GIANTS maintained that high intensity throughout the game and while they suffered from inconsistency in front of the big sticks across the four quarters they did enough to limit Richmond’s opportunities to a mere goal. Unfortunately, the Tigers had no answers for GWS who seemed to combat everything they threw at them using their tackling pressure and quick ball movement to push the ball inside 50. It was a relatively one-sided affair with the GIANTS winning the possession battle 227-158 highlighting just how much of the footy they monopolised especially inside the forward half constantly peppering the goals.

The load was shared across the board for the GIANTS however it was Staunton that led the way in front of goal walking away with a four-goal haul. Staunton was electric inside 50 winning the ball with ease and showcasing her goal nous while also applying pressure laying four tackles. Rebecca Privitelli also continued her recent string of form with another two goals to add to her growing goalkicking tally while the likes of Brittany Tully and Jodie Hicks could have had a big day out but failed to capitalise with two points apiece. Youngster, Alyce Parker lit up the field once again racking up an impressive 24 disposals with an even ratio of handballs to kicks with 13 to 11 along with four tackles. To go with her two points Tully also won her fair share of the footy with 18 touches and Rebecca Beeson made her presence felt across the four quarters with 18 touches and three marks. Elle Bennetts provided plenty of excitement with her 13 disposals while teammate Haneen Zreika led the way with a team-high six tackles.

Up against her old side, fill in captain Christina Bernardi managed to slot her sides only goal for the game and while she only racked up seven touches her second efforts across the ground were impressive. Despite her big frame and clunking five marks Sabrina Frederick struggled in front of goal registering two points while Phoebe Monahan also missed her chance to slot one home. Although she would be disappointed she did not convert Monahan had a standout performance for the Tigers with a team-high 22 disposals. Monique Conti was not far behind collecting 21 touches for her efforts while also throwing her weight around with six tackles and three marks. Both Grace Campbell and Kate Dempsey worked tirelessly to win the footy with 11 and 10 touches respectively but it was not enough to worry their opposition who went about their business.

GOALS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton 4, R. Privitelli 2, S. Halvorsen
Richmond: C. Bernardi

BESTS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton, A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, B. Tully
Richmond: M. Conti, P. Monahan, C. Bernardi, K. Dempsey, S. Frederick

CARLTON 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 8.2 (50)
ST KILDA  2.0 | 3.0 | 3.2  | 4.5 (29)

Sophie Taylor

CARLTON put in another impressive performance in Round 4 to run home 21-point victors against a lively St Kilda outfit. An even first half kept the Saints well and truly in the race, challenging the Blues in the highly pressurised contest, but it was to no avail with a four goal to one second half seeing the home side confidently dominate in every area of the field.

It was a tight first quarter with St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser doing what she does best, booting her first of two goals and finding plenty of the footy as she exposed holes in Carlton’s defence. But for every goal the Saints got in the first half, the Blues went one better with Sarah Hosking getting two on the board in quick succession before Rhiannon Watt followed up with her first less than a minute later to create an exciting and close contest. An inaugural goal to Blues’ Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles, one goal) put the icing on the cake for Carlton to lead by a goal at the first change, and while it continued to be a tough slog in the second St Kilda were unable to find that same offensive pressure to get back ahead of the Blues.

After an action-packed first term the second was relatively quiet, with only the one goal apiece – to Greiser and Tayla Harris respectively – while standouts from both sides were becoming clear as consistent performers in Maddy Prespakis (26 disposals, three tackles), Kerryn Harrington (21 touches, eight marks), Olivia Vesely (18 touches, four tackles, three marks) and Georgia Patrikios (18 touches, two tackles) stood up in the tight battle. The third saw Carlton just about run away with the match, piling on the pressure and the points thanks to consistent contesting around the ground and phenomenal tackling pressure from the likes of Katie Loynes and Lucy McEvoy, both of whom didn’t find much of the ball but certainly did their bit to earn ball back with their nine and eight respective tackles.

The final quarter saw two early goals that dried up the majors, with St Kilda’s Kate Shierlaw (12 disposals, three marks, one goals) and Carlton’s Georgia Gee both getting on the end of good movement down the field to apply scoreboard pressure. The Saints kept the ball in their half for much of the quarter and while they looked dangerous at times, were not able to take advantage of their opportunities, booting two behinds and one rushed, which could have pushed the side much closer to victory if kicked straight.

Next round will see both sides take the field on Saturday evening, with St Kilda hosting fellow expansion side Richmond at Moorabbin while Carlton travels to Alice Springs to take on Melbourne for a top two Conference B battle.

GOALS

Carlton: S. Hosking 2, B. Walker, T. Harris, N. Stevens, G. Egan, L. McEvoy, G. Gee.
St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw, R. Watt.

ADC BEST

Carlton: K. Harrington, M. Prespakis, V Laloifi, S.Hosking, G. Egan
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, O. Vesely, K. Shierlaw, N. Exon, R. Dillon

COLLINGWOOD 3.0 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

Peter Williams

Collingwood has bounced back from consecutive losses to post an impressive 32-point win over the Western Bulldogs. The home team playing at Morwell never looked like losing from the outside with a couple of goals on the board within five minutes and then a third late in the opening term. Two of those goals belonged to Chloe Molloy who was thrown forward in the clash as a throw-back to her VFL Women’s days where she claimed the leading goalkicker award prior to being drafted. She constantly looked a threat one-on-one inside 50 and gave her teammates opportunities with the Bulldogs’ defence wary of what she was capable of inside 50. The Magpies led by 24 points at half-time and had kept the visitors scoreless in a great defensive display. The second half was more even with the Magpies marginally shading them with 4.3 to 3.1 in the half, but it was a valiant effort from the young pups to keep pushing throughout. Kirsten McLeod booted two of those goals to get her side going and one was as she was thrown to the ground forcing her to do a neat roll and bounce straight back up. Whilst it was too little, too late, there was plenty to come out of the game for both sides as the Magpies got their finals campaign back on track.

Brianna Davey recorded 30 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and 10 tackles in a big performance through the middle, well shared by one of the competition’s best players this year in Jaimee Lambert (24 touches, eight inside 50s and seven tackles). Sarah Rowe chipped in with two goals and had arguably her best career game with 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and four tackles, working hard across the ground, while Molloy booted 3.2 from 12 disposals, six marks and two inside 50s. Others who impressed for the Black and White were Sarah D’Arcy (11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and captain Steph Chiocci (17 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three inside 50s).

For the Western Bulldogs, Ellie Blackburn put in another typical captain’s effort with 17 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds, while Bailey Hunt (15 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and three rebounds) and Kirsty Lamb (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) were busy across the board. Isabel Huntington was a rock in defence with 12 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, two inside 50s and a long-range set shot which just missed. Meanwhile number one pick from last year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Gabby Newton had nine touches and laid six tackles in another solid performance.

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 3, S. Alexander 2, S. Rowe 2, J. Membrey.
Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, K. Lamb.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Molloy, J. Lambert, B. Davey, S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, S. Chiocci.
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, B. Hunt, I. Huntington, K. McLeod, G. Newton.

MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.6 (66)
WEST COAST 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Peter Williams

In a strange day at Casey Fields, the weather was actually pleasant without icy winds or sweltering heat impacting the spectator experience. From the first bounce it was always going to be a question of how much for Melbourne, with the Dees seemingly going at first gear in the opening half to find their feet, whilst the Eagles – as determined and willing as they were – could not find the connection inside 50. Aside from a second term purple patch where the team from the west gave the almost exclusive home fan-crowd a scare, the Demons were rarely troubled, especially after half-time. When Ashlee Atkins kicked a behind midway through the second term, the Dees’ lead was cut to just five points and despite all their dominance with possession and field position there was a little moment where fans would have thought ‘surely not?’. The fears were soon alleviated a little when Sarah Lampard kicked a late goal to stretch the lead to 11 points by half-time, and completed eliminated by the midway point of the third term, when the lead stretched beyond five goals and the game was done and dusted. No doubt the home team would have received a bake at half-time to try and lift the intensity, especially given the importance of percentage, whilst the away team showed some promising signs, but were overran in the second half, going down by 59 points in the end.

Karen Paxman was one of the few four quarter performers, standing up when a lot of her teammates were a little down, picking up 21 disposals, two marks, six tackles, six inside 50s and three rebounds in a clear best on ground performance. Others who impressed throughout the four quarters were the two Irish players in Niamh McEvoy (14 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s) and Sinead Goldrick (13 disposals, two inside 50s) whose run was important. The experienced Daisy Pearce was prominent early with 10 touches and four tackles standing tall in crunch moments, whilst Aliesha Newman (13 disposals, five tackles and six inside 50s) was a star along the wing. Eden Zanker also put in a ripper performance with nine disposals, two marks, six tackles, 19 hitouts and two goals, predominantly playing ruck then floating forward to provide a target with her high leaping and sticky hands. It was also a memorable day for Sarah Perkins who did not look out of place, booting the final goal of the day and always presenting with nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and even sold a bit of candy much to the delight of her new fans.

For the Eagles, the midfield duo of Dana Hooker (14 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and three inside 50s) and Mikayla Bowen (11 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two rebounds) worked hard, whilst Parris Laurie shouldered the ruckload against multiple opponents on her way to 17 hitouts, 10 disposals and five tackles. Emma Swanson (13 disposals, two marks and two tackles) was also solid through midfield, whilst Belinda Smith (12 disposals, four rebounds) and Sophie McDonald (10 disposals, six rebounds) were rocks under pressure in the back 50.

GOALS:

Melbourne: E. Zanker 2, T. Cunningham, C. Emonson, K. Hore, S. Lampard, N. McEvoy, J. Parry, S. Perkins, S. Scott.
West Coast: M. Collier.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Paxman, A. Newman, E. Zanker, S. Goldrick, N. McEvoy, D. Pearce
West Coast: D. Hooker, M. Bowen, B. Smith, S. McDonald, P. Laurie, A. Atkins

 

 

2020 AFL Women’s preview: Round 4 – Erin Phillips returns for Grand Final rematch

ROUND 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s season is set to be a big one, with a grand final rematch and a bushfire relief match among a number of key matchups. Melbourne has a third Friday night matchup in a row with a battle against Collingwood as a curtain-raiser to the men’s State of Origin for bushfire relief, while Adelaide and Carlton clash on Sunday afternoon with the massive and highly anticipated return of Erin Phillips in tow.

Friday, February 28

Collingwood v. Melbourne, Marvel Stadium, 5:35pm AEDT

Taylah Melki

In the curtain raiser to the AFL Bushfire Relief game at Marvel Stadium, Collingwood will be hoping to return to the winners list with a victory against the fourth placed Melbourne. The Pies were pipped at the post last round, despite dominating inside 50s and possession count and will need to rectify that if they are to win against a strong Demons outfit. It will be an evenly poised game with both teams winning two games and losing one apiece highlighting just how tight the competition is and more importantly how important a victory here would be for their finals chances.

Collingwood have improved rapidly in 2020 with their fast pace ball movement and running style of play on full display throughout each of their games. The return of Chloe Molloy has done wonders to the side with the talented footballer not afraid to get down and dirty, extracting the ball at the coalface and disposing of it cleanly. She is not the only valuable inclusion with Bri Davey making a name for herself in the black and white. Davey is a good ball user and often imposes herself with her physical nature while Jaimee Lambert has taken her game to another level with her attack on the footy and accuracy in front of goal. If this trio can get going on Friday night it will go a long way in getting the Pies over the line. Defensively the likes of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone have put up a wall in defence with the two rebounding well out of the back 50 and taking a host of marks to repel any forward forays. Brit Bonnici and Sarah Rowe are coming off hot performances with the two winning a truck load of the footy last round and will be hoping to repeat those efforts once again this week. Sharni Layton has been a revelation in the ruck for Collingwood with her well-timed taps and physical development making her a real force to be reckoned with.

The Demons are not without star power of their own and will have a real hunger in the belly after a narrow five-point loss in Round 3. Pregnancy does not seem to have stopped Daisy Pearce with her clever ball use and general footy understanding on full display each and every game. Other keys players the likes of Karen Paxman down back and Elise O’Dea through the midfield have been huge for Melbourne consistently winning the ball and using it carefully to hit up targets and not waste opportunities. Libby Birch has continued to develop throughout the opening games of the 2020 season with her consistent ability to put boot to ball while the tackling pressure of Tyla Hanks and Chantel Emonson have been key contributions in the Demons victories. Up forward Melbourne have a wealth of options with Tegan Cunningham able to clunk marks midair and kick truly while the likes of Aliesha Newman will be hoping to return to the scoreboard after a lean couple of weeks.

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 S.D’Arcy 4 R.Schleicher 18
C: S.Rowe 7 M.Cann 25 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: S.Dargan 46 A.Brazill 10 B.Davey 3
F: S.Layton 1 C.Molloy 2
Foll: E.Fowler 15 B.Bonnici 8 J.Allen 6
I/C: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 S.Casey 22 J.Membrey 21 K.Lynch 16

Emerg: E.Hynes 11 K.Stratton 41

In: K.Lynch
Out: K.Stratton

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 E.O’Dea 5 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 T.Cunningham 1 S.Scott 12
F: E.Zanker 29 T.Hanks 28
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 J.Parry 19 N.McEvoy 17 L.Pearce 15 A.Newman 16

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 B.Tarrant 20

In: J.Parry, L.Pearce
Out: S.Heath (Illness), M.Guerin (injured)

Saturday, February 29

Richmond v. Geelong, Queen Elizabeth Oval, 3:10pm

Taylah Melki

Both sides are yet to win a game in season 2020 and with the Tigers chasing their first ever win expect this to be a tough battle. On paper Richmond have a stronger team with a couple of key players able to turn a game on its head but have struggled to generate any real momentum so far while on the other hand the Cats have a plethora of young talents that would be hoping to get the ball rolling in the winning department. Although it is a bottom of the table clash expect both sides to bring plenty of intensity and hunger to win the pill at the coalface.

The Tigers have two key pillars inside the forward 50 with captain Katie Brennan looking to really assert herself on the competition after a slow start to the Richmond legacy. Brennan is renowned for her strong leading patterns, clean hands and ability to hit the scoreboard something she will want to do early in the clash to gain early ascendancy in the match. fellow forward Sabrina Frederick will also be hoping to throw her weight around inside the forward 50 and clunk some big marks to send shock waves through the Cats defensive unit. If both Frederick and Brennan can get the scoreboard clicking over early and apply some heat inside the forward arc it will go a long way in setting up a potential win. Through the midfield Monique Conti has been in hot form with the highly skilled footballer good below the knees and able to sight players on the lead even when in congestion. Grace Campbell is not afraid to apply physical pressure coming off a 10-tackle game last round while Phoebe Monahan will want to keep the good times rolling. Christina Bernardi  will want to lift her output to give the Tigers a chance of toppling the Cats.

With no wins in 2020 the Cats will be hoping to use their possession style of footy to upset the Tigers and create separation at the bottom of the ladder. Although they do not have the likes of Brennan up forward their youth is what drives them with Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison able to explode out of the middle and cause headaches with their ball winning abilities. Morrison is not afraid to throw her body into the contest, often at the bottom of the pack trying to free the footy and push it down forward. Melissa Hickey is another key cog for the Cats credit to her high footy IQ and clever positioning across the ground while Richelle Cranston can set the game alight with her speed and strength, able to rag doll opponents and break free with ease. when it comes to scoring options the likes of Madeleine Boyd and Phoebe Williams are the main dangers with the two able to sight the goals and kick truly. Both Jordan Ivey and Madeline Keryk have shown their defensive prowess credit to their strong tackling pressure and will want to replicate that form again this round to down the Tigers.

Tip: Richmond by 5 points.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 G.Seymour 28
HB: R.Miller 15 P.Monahan 2 H.Whitford 20
C: H.Burchell 9 K.Brennan – C 3 S.Molan 1
HF: M.Brancatisano 5 L.McClelland 16 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 S.Frederick 14
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 K.Jacques 10
I/C: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Campbell 43 E.Wood 17 A.Woodward 13 L.Bailey 12

Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 L.Lesosky-Hay 23

In: H.Whitford
Out: L.Tesoriero (injured)

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Webster 21 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: R.Cranston 30 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3 K.Darby 8 A.Teague 40 G.Clarke 17

Emerg: G.Rankin 10 C.Blakeway 4

In: K.Darby, A.Teague
Out: M.Boyd, R.Caris

North Melbourne v. Gold Coast, Arden Street Oval, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It may be a battle of second and fifth in Conference A this round, but a lot is at stake for the Kangaroos if they lose this match, only sitting two competition points ahead of the Suns. If both GIANTS and Crows get wins and the Roos go down to the Suns, North are in danger of dropping as low as fifth which could really test the side heading into the mid-point of the season. However, a win for the Suns could put them in an unprecedented position in second on the ladder and facing two currently winless teams in the coming weeks in Geelong and West Coast Eagles, which could set the Suns up for a solid run home and potential finals chance.

For North Melbourne, they will want a fast start at their Victorian home, and with the Suns having to make the trip down to Melbourne, the Roos are sure to make it count, especially given the stakes. With the likes of Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton, Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner providing key options around the field, North are at no risk of running out of ball movers and can be hard to stop once they get inside 50. 2019 Tasmanian draftee Mia King will get her first taste of the big league against Gold Coast, with a chance at proving herself against an unchanged Suns outfit.

The likes of Lauren Bella (57 hitouts), Jordann Hickey (averaging 21 intercept possessions) and Jamie Stanton (averaging 20 intercept possessions and 16.7 disposals) will be key for the Suns, but while they have a number of solid forward options they are likely to have a tough time against the Roos who will want to show who’s boss after an impressive win against Richmond last round. Despite a draw last round, the Suns have maintained the same list so will look to retain some of the grunt they had last week against the Lions and build on their consistency.

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: E.Humphries 6 B.Lynch 20

In: D.Hardiman, M.King
Out: B.Lynch, A.Green

GOLD COAST

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

Emerg: T.Groves-Little 3 A.Hamilton 30

In: None
Out: None

West Coast Eagles v. Western Bulldogs, Leaderville Oval, 7:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It’s a high stakes, but low level clash between the two Western sides, with the Eagles one of three teams yet to put a win on the board while the Bulldogs have just the one win on the board so far for the season in a start to the year that eerily mirrors that of 2019. The Bulldogs should be feeling fairly confident going into this match despite being in enemy territory, which is one thing the Eagles will have going for them after a horror start to the season.

The Eagles will look to the experience and star power of Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson to do what they do best, with run and carry and an innate ability to find the footy key for the Eagles to get that inaugural win on the board. Youngster Mickayla Bowen has been steadily improving week by week so will aim to continue that run, while only five players – including Bowen – have put goals on the board for the season, with no multiple goalkickers, making it a real test to see whether the Eagles can apply some scoreboard pressure to get a win. Parris Laurie has averaged 20 hitouts per game to start the season – second in the competition – so will look to use the ball to advantage against a relatively even opposition in Kimberley Rennie (equal third with Lauren Bella) for the Dogs.

The Bulldogs have a number of changes heading into this round, with Ashleigh Guest joining the fray while 18-year-olds Hannah Munyard and Britney Gutnecht will make their debut in the absence of key names in Brooke Lochland, Angelica Gogos and Deanna Berry. Munyard and Gutnecht are sure to fit in well with the relatively young Dogs side, and paired with fellow young guns in Gabby Newton, Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis, will look to have an impact on enemy territory. Bonnie Toogood and Ellie Blackburn will look to maintain control across the field to enable the Dogs opportunities to drive forward.

Tip: Bulldogs by 16 points.

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: C.Perera 27 S.McDonald 35 C.Davidson 33
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 G.Kelly 15 M.Collier 8
F: A.Atkins 9 E.McGuire 31
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: M.Dowrick 5 B.Devlyn 7 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 C.Guard 4

Emerg: K.Orme 32 K.Bartlett 20

In: C.Davidson, E.McGuire
Out: T.Tester (injured), K.Orme

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: E.Gamble 14 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: D.Marshall 26 E.Georgostathis 17
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 A.Guest 19 H.Munyard 20 H.Scott 22 B.Gutknecht 18

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 A.Van Oosterwijck 28

In: A.Guest, H.Munyard, B.Gutknecht
Out: D.Berry (concussion), A.Gogos (knee), B.Lochland (quad)

Sunday, March 1

Adelaide v. Carlton, Hisense Stadium, 1:10pm

Sophie Taylor

Erin Phillips will make a much-awaited return on Sunday when the Crows take on their 2019 grand final foes in Carlton. While Carlton have improved in leaps and bounds since last year’s final, it’s safe to say the Crows will come in favourites despite sitting on the same win-loss record for the season so far (2-1). Both sides come into this round off the back of solid wins in Round 3, but have also fallen to unlikely foes in the opening rounds so will be in for an interesting battle on Sunday afternoon.  Both teams have the ability to jump up the ladder with a win this week to put them in good stead for a finals berth even at this earlier stage of the season, though for Carlton a loss could be catastrophic with a number of teams on their trail and looking to break into the top three of Conference B. Both sides have a plethora of young talent that’s punctuated by a wealth of experience, making for an interesting contest.

With the handy inclusion of Phillips, the Crows will be hard to stop after showing some impressive form this season despite key injuries. The likes of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff have impressed early, sitting on a total of 82 and 72 disposals respectively to start the season, leading the competition and creating a formidable opposition across the ground. With 12 tackles last week, Marinoff will want to provide that same pressure again this week while Hatchard will hope to return to her Round 1 form where she racked up 35 touches. The likes of Danielle Ponter and Madison Newman are able to have an impact when required to make for a real battle of the young guns, and while Newman did not have the desired impact last round, Ponter put four goals on the board to prove her strength in the competition.

Carlton duo Maddy Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy are as consistent as they come despite their youth, creating opportunity down the field and working well with their teammates to provide plenty of ball inside 50. The real test for the Blues will be to find the likes of Tayla Harris, who has booted three goals for the season but needs to lift her game if the Blues want to get past the Crows this round. Defensively, the likes of Kerryn Harrington and Vaomua Laloifi have been stellar with 18 and 17 intercept possessions from their respective three matches, while 19-year-old Grace Egan leads the tackling count with 19.

Tip: Adelaide by 12 points.

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 M.Rajcic 32
HB: J.Mules 23 S.Allan 39 N.Allen 8
C: A.Foley 3 E.Marinoff 10 A.Considine 16
HF: S.Thompson 14 E.Phillips – C 13 E.Jones 2
F: D.Ponter 15 C.Biddell 12
Foll: J.Foley 24 A.Hatchard 33 C.Gum 5
I/C: R.Forth 27 S.Li 19 N.Gore 7 N.Campbell 20 R.Metcalfe 11 C.Gould 1 M.Newman 17

In: A.Considine, E.Phillips, R.Metcalfe
Out: C.Cramey (injured)

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 B.Vernon 31
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 N.Stevens 21
C: C.Dalton 15 G.Gee 19 S.Hosking 10
HF: J.Edwards 25 T.Harris 7 N.Plane 32
F: L.McEvoy 13 D.Vescio 3
Foll: B.Moody 16 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: J.Hosking 11 A.Downie 30 K.Loynes 2 L.Brazzale 12 B.Walker 14 C.Wilson 20 C.Jones 22

In: C.Wilson, C.Jones
Out: None

St Kilda v. Fremantle, RSEA Park, 3:10pm

Tom Cheesman

St Kilda are looking to cause their second major upset in the space of a fortnight when they take on the unbeaten Fremantle at RSEA Park. The Saints got their first win of the season last weekend by taking down premiership fancies Melbourne at Moorabbin. Fremantle are also coming off a major three-point victory against Collingwood to continue their undefeated streak. Given Conference B rivals Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne all have difficult matchups this weekend, the Dockers will be looking to extend their lead on top of the table with a dominant performance. However, if St Kilda can match the intensity they have brought in their last two encounters, this should be a great challenge for the Dockers.

Speedy midfielder Georgia Patrikios has been a revelation for the Saints this season, breaking the lines with run and carry to launch her side into attack. The excitement machine averages 17 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s per game. Key forward Caitlin Greiser has also made a major impact, kicking four goals in her past two matches and providing a strong presence up forward. Tarni White has been tidy for the Saints in defence, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd continues to find plenty of the ball through the midfield.

Fremantle’s forward line has been outstanding so far in 2020, led by Sabreena Duffy and youngster Roxanne Roux. Duffy leads the race for AFLW’s Leading Goalkicker alongside Brisbane’s Jesse Wardlaw, while Roux trails them by just one goal. Roux has also been working up the ground to register three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. Kiara Bowers has been outstanding up the centre of the ground, averaging 15 disposals, four inside 50s and an astonishing 15 tackles per game. Meanwhile, Hayley Miller and Philpa Seth will look to back up their strong performances against Collingwood last week.

Tip: Fremantle by 11 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 T.Luke 22
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 R.Dillon 25 M.McDonald 1
HF: C.Munn 13 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 A.Drennan 8 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 C.Fitzpatrick 24 O.Vesely 23 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11 S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: C.Fitzpatrick, S.Johnson, P.Kelly
Out: J.Sedunary (injured)

FREMANTLE

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

In: E.O’Driscoll, M.Clifford
Out: None

Brisbane Lions v. Greater Western Sydney GIANTS, Hickey Park, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

The final match of the round will see a big one between first and third on the Conference A ladder, with the Lions only ahead thanks to a draw last round against the SUNS. Both sides will come into this match with plenty to prove, with little change to their respective Round 3 lists and potential bragging rights to stay atop the ladder. The undefeated Lions haven’t looked back this season, with impressive wins to start the season before the draw last week marred their perfect record. With an ability to pile on the goals and fairly quickly at that, the GIANTS could be in for a tough one if the Lions have their eye in, especially given their inconsistency staring the season.

Brisbane will welcome back Jess Wuetschner for the first time since Round 1, adding another key cog to their already solid rotation, with Lauren Arnell and Emily Bates having good starts to the season while Jesse Wardlaw booted three goals in Round 2 so will hope to get back to that form this week against the GIANTS, currently leading the sides’ goalkicking tally with five to her name and plenty more opportunities to add to that. Alexandra Anderson has also proved to be a handy inclusion with an average of 18 touches per game for the season so far and has steadily improved and developed her game since her 2017 debut. Young gun Lily Postlethwaite had a slow match last week against a tough outfit in Gold Coast so will want to prove her point in this matchup after collecting a handful of touches and applying some good pressure on the body in the opening rounds.

The GIANTS have some solid names among their group, but this season have ultimately struggled to find their form – up until last round, when they dominated against a lowly West Coast outfit. Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva have been consistent as ever this season, leading from the front and create a contest wherever they go. The pair lead majority of the stats for the GIANTS in what has been a frankly sloppy start to the season, but have kept their heads high to reap the reward of their consistency with the win last round. GWS are another side that has a smattering of goalkickers that have not really had a chance to star yet this season, meaning this could be their opportunity if they can take control early.

TIP: Brisbane by 15 points.

BRISBANE

B: C.Svarc 25 S.Webb 4
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 S.Campbell 20
C: N.Grider 10 B.Koenen 3 S.Conway 12
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Wardlaw 30 G.Bodey 15
F: D.Davidson 14 E.Zielke – C 8
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Wuetschner 23 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 T.Hickie 24

In: J.Wuetschner, T.Hickie
Out: None

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: J.Dal Pos 7 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: Y.Bonner 27 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: I.Nielsen 25 R.Privitelli 19
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: B.Tully 36 L.Steane 20 J.Barclay 34 L.Stephenson 12 A.Schmidt 11 T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: None

ROUND 4 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [16]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Carlton / Fremantle / Brisbane
Taylah Melki [17]: Collingwood/ Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Sophie Taylor [16]: Melbourne / Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Peter Williams [14]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / GIANTS