Tag: hannah priest

2021 VFLW Round 10 wrap: Bulldogs remain in the top six hunt

ROUND 10 of the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition saw three sides claim wins by over nine goals, as the top six continues to solidify. Outside challengers are lingering though, headlined by the Western Bulldogs who beat Carlton to remain within striking distance of those all-important finals places. All six fixtures were played out on Saturday this past round, making for an intriguing set of results as the state league action begins to heat up. With senior-listed guns and NAB League talents continuing to filter through, things are building nicely with four rounds left to play.

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HAWTHORN 3.0 | 4.3 | 7.5 | 10.9 (69)
DAREBIN FALCONS 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Hawthorn registered its second win in three weeks, dismantling the Darebin Falcons to the tune of 62 points at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday morning. The Hawks kept their opponents scoreless after the opening term and proved relentless in the second half, pouring on six goals from 10 scoring shots to run out comfortable winners, 10.9 (69) to 1.1 (7). The result sees Hawthorn sit two games outside of the top six, but with the best bottom-six percentage.

Kristy Stratton led a kettle of nine Hawks who found the goals, finishing with two in a best afield outing. The likes of Tamara Luke (24 disposals, 37 hitouts) and Alison Drennan (24 disposals, nine tackles) were also impactful in the win, while second gamer Grace McRae featured in her side’s votes having won 21 touches and laid nine tackles in brown and gold.

Hayley Munro was Darebin’s sole goalkicker on the day, as the ever-reliable Kath Roe topped her side’s disposal charts with 21 (17 kicks) in a gallant display. Victoria Blackwood‘s good form continued for the Falcons, as did that of Alyssa Mifsud. Meanwhile, Annalyse Lister showed no let-up in the heavy loss, laying a whopping 19 tackles for the Falcons as they dropped to 1-9 at the foot of the ladder.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: K. Stratton 2, A. Bush, K. Cox, K. Newton, N. von Bertouch, P. McWilliams, T. Luke, C. O’Malley, D. Carbone
Darebin: H. Munro

BEST:

Hawthorn: K. Stratton, G. McRae, K. Newton, A. Drennan, J. Richardson, T. Luke
Darebin: K. Roe, G. Lawson-Tavan, V. Blackwood, A. Mifsud, A. Lister, S. David

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.4 | 1.9 | 2.11 | 4.14 (38)
CARLTON 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.2 | 3.6 (24)

The Western Bulldogs’ top six charge got back on track with a 14-point win over Carlton, in what was a high-stakes clash at Whitten Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs constantly threatened to break clear in the low-scoring tussle, but their inaccuracy kept Carlton in the contest. Having led at every break, the home side managed to double its goal tally in term four to come away 4.14 (38) to 3.6 (24) winners, sitting just a game outside the top six.

The continued flow of AFLW talent into the state league again proved prominent, with first year Bulldog Jess Fitzgerald putting in a best afield performance from midfield. She topped her side’s disposal chart with 21 alongside Gemma Lagioia, while Eleanor Brown earned full votes from her coaches with 20 touches and eight marks. Second-gamer Stephanie Asciak also got a look-in for the votes, as the Western Jets product notched nine disposals.

Unsurprisingly, the midfield duo of Grace Egan and Abbie McKay played a crucial role for Carlton, as another senior-listed jet in Maddy Guerin led all comers with 32 disposals (28 kicks). Steph Lawrence finished as the game’s sole multiple goalkicker with two majors, while Natalie Plane could only manage two behinds from 13 touches in her first game at the level for 2021.

GOALS:

Bulldogs: E. Morrison, S. Ruedin, K. Betts, C. Moody
Carlton: S. Lawrence 2, S. Gibbs

BEST:

Bulldogs: E. Brown, E. Vale, A. Gogos, E. Morrison, G. Lagioia, S. Asciak
Carlton: G. Egan, A. McKay, M. Guerin, S. Lawrence, E. Honybun, B. Gurr

GEELONG 0.3 | 2.5 | 3.7 | 5.9 (39)
ESSENDON 0.0 | 0.2 | 1.4 | 2.4 (16)

Geelong’s winning streak extended to six games on Saturday, as the Cats accounted for Essendon to the tune of 23 points at Deakin University. The deadlock of a goalless opening quarter was broken by a pair of majors to the hosts in the following period, with Essendon taking until term three to get on the board in a major way. Geelong maintained the scoreboard pressure though, boosting up to second spot with the 5.9 (39) to 2.4 (16) victory.

Sophie Van De Huevel was terrific in the hoops, booting two goals from 19 disposals, with Richelle Cranston finishing as the only other multiple goalkicker afield. Claudia Gunjaca gained full votes from the Geelong staff, as Renee Garing and Rebecca Webster led all comers with 23 disposals apiece. Garing also laid a game-high 13 tackles, while tall prospect Rene Caris led her side for hitouts with 16.

Essendon skipper Georgia Nanscawen continued her brilliant season and was the only Bomber to tick over 20 touches, with goalkicker Alana Barba among a trio of players to reach 15. Eloise Ashley-Cooper was also in that group alongside Gold Coast’s Lauren Ahrens, while Alex Morcom played an important role for her team in the loss.

GOALS:

Geelong: S. Van De Heuvel 2, R. Cranston 2, O. Fuller
Essendon: A. Barba, L. Stepnell

BEST:

Geelong: C. Gunjaca, R. Caris, J. Foley, S. Van De Heuvel, R. Webster, M. Keryk
Essendon: A. Morcom, E. Ashley-Cooper, A. Barba, M. Anthony, E. Hosking, G. Nanscawen

PORT MELBOURNE 0.1 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 3.3 | 5.4 | 8.4 | 8.7 (55)

Southern Saints remain a game clear in the top six, after knocking off Port Melbourne by 27 points on enemy territory in the upset of the round. The Saints stamped their authority early with a three-goal to nil opening quarter, before adding another three majors in the third term to set up an even five-goal lead at the final break. It proved a bridge too far for the Borough, who dropped just their second game, 8.7 (55) to 4.4 (28).

The efforts of Alexandra Hynes (eight disposals, 10 tackles, 17 hitouts) was recognised with full votes from her coaches, as the Saints proved their finals credentials. Meanwhile, Hannah Stuart and Alice Burke both notched over 20 disposals as expected, as Tara Bohanna booted a game-high two goals from her 18 touches, and Rebecca Neaves also got on the scoresheet. Hannah Priest played an important role, clunking five marks and laying six tackles to go with 17 disposals.

Emily Harley, one of Port’s four individual goalkickers, was named best afield for her side, while Hannah McLaren registered an equal game-high 21 disposals. Dandenong Stingrays pair Jaide Anthony (10 disposals, four marks) and Ash Richards (three disposals, one goal) also had their moments on debut, as Richmond-listed midfielder Maddy Brancatisano fared well in her first VFLW appearance for 2021, with 17 touches and four marks.

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: A. Richards, C. Bromage, E. Harley, H. Bailey
Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 2, T. Meyer, T. Kearns, R. Neaves, K. Ripari, A. Harris, M. Capsalis

BEST:

Port Melbourne: E. Harley, J. Anthony, M. Brancatisano, H. McLaren, M. Kuys
Southern Saints: A. Hynes, A. Burke, H. Stuart, T. Bohanna, K. Ripari, H. Priest

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 (13)
COLLINGWOOD 5.3 | 6.6 | 9.9 | 10.15 (75)

Collingwood’s unblemished run rolled on with a comprehensive 62-point drubbing of North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval, making it 10 wins in a row for the black and whites. Signs were ominous as the Magpies posted five goals to one in the first term, while taking advantage of the scoring end once again after half time as the Kangaroos failed to add to their total, making for the lopsided 10.15 (75) to 2.1 (13) final scoreline.

A trio of Magpies snared two goals each, in Sophie Alexander, Imogen Barnett, and Georgia Ricardo. Alexander could well have finished with a bag, having also registered three behinds. Mikala Cann managed a game-high 28 disposals, but it was Jennifer Guy (15 disposals, one goal) who was adjudged her side’s most valuable player in the big win.

Meagan Kiely had her usual say with a team-high 23 touches, as Molly Eastman was the only other ‘Roo to notch over 20 disposals. Tall recruit Alexia Hamilton made an impact with 13 disposals, 17 hitouts and one of her side’s two goals, while Airlie Runnalls and Nadia Moore also returned solid shifts as North fell to 3-7, with their hopes of making finals getting slimmer.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: A. Hamilton, L. Taylor
Collingwood: G. Ricardo 2, S. Alexander 2, I. Barnett 2, L. Durante, K. Colborne-Veel, M. Cann, J. Guy

BEST:

North Melbourne: N. Moore, A. Hamilton, M. Eastman, R. Hicks, A. Runnalls, S. Skinner
Collingwood: J. Guy, S. Alexander, I. Barnett, M. Cann, E. Jackson, H. Bowey

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 (0)
CASEY DEMONS 1.0 | 3.1 | 6.4 | 9.5 (59)

Casey became the first team to hold its opponent scoreless throughout an entire game in 2021, defeating Williamstown by 59 points on Saturday night at Downer Oval. Despite being buoyed by GWS-listed talent, the Seagulls were soundly beaten by a finals-bound outfit which poured on six goals from 11 scoring shots after half time. The Demons now sit pretty in fourth after the 9.5 (59) to 0 triumph.

Maddison Gay finished with a game-high three goals and Eden Zanker led all comers with 25 disposals for Casey, but it was Casey Sherriff (16 disposals, two goals) who claimed best afield honours in the win. Meg McDonald also hit the scoreboard from her 20 touches, as Gippsland Power talent Grace Matser got in the votes with seven disposals and 16 hitouts in her state league debut.

Lisa Steane had a team-high 18 disposals as she suited up for the Seagulls, also laying nine tackles. The likes of Elizabeth Keaney (17 disposals) and Georgia Garnett (14) also impressed in their maiden outings, while mainstays Ella Baxter and Aimee Whelan stood up in what was a tough outing for Williamstown.

GOALS:

Williamstown: Nil
Casey: M. Gay 3, C. Sherriff 2, J. Parry 2, A. Kirkwood, M. Macdonald

BEST:

Williamstown: E. Baxter, L. Steane, E. Graham, E. Keaney, G. Garnett, E. Straford
Casey: C. Sherriff, E. Humphries, M. Macdonald, A. Brown, G. Matser, M. Gay

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: GWS creates GIANT divide to bottom five sides

GWS GIANTS have won their fourth game of the season to sit eight points clear of the bottom five sides, albeit with some Sunday fixtures to come. The GIANTS won in a low-scoring arm-wrestle against Geelong, which saw just one goal kicked after quarter time, and none in the second half, to secure a seven-point victory at GMHBA Stadium. The 2.4 (16) to 1.3 (9) victory was a hard-fought one, but the battle of defences held up well with the game primarily a battle between the arcs.

Haneen Zreika was on the board early with a goal just four minutes into the match to give the GIANTS an early advantage. This was quickly countered within three minutes from Cats key forward Phoebe McWilliams, in what was shaping to be a potential high-scoring contest. However across the next 65 minutes, just one goal was kicked, coming off the boot of reliable goalkicker Cora Staunton in the second minute of the second quarter. That goal quickly split the difference between the sides that had been level with 1.1 apiece at the first break.

Staunton’s goal put the Giants up by six, with a Darcy Moloney behind four minutes later cutting the half-time deficit to five. Neither team could manage to break the deadlock from there, with the GIANTS adding three points to their total in the third term, and then the Cats returning the serve in the final quarter with a solitary behind through Richelle Cranson for the match to end seven points to the favour of the visiting GIANTS team.

It was an even match across the board, with contest after contest, and the Cats marginally ahead by seven in disposals (207-200), with both teams managing the seven shots on goal, with the GIANTS having one more inside 50 entry (24-23) in another low count. It further emphasised the battle between the arcs, with the teams almost identical in both contested and uncontested possessions, while the Cats took six more contested marks (10-4) despite having 10 less overall marks (35-45). The GIANTS certainly had more opportunities for goals with eight of those 45 marks inside 50, to the Cats’ two, whilst the forward pressure and around the ground was in the Cats’ favour with 68 tackles to 54, of which the forward 50 tackles went 13-12 in the blue hoops’ favour.

The GIANTS dominated the hitouts 36-12, with the clearances being relatively even, though marginally in the GIANTS favour, 23-20. This was helped by the performance of Erin McKinnon (21 hitouts) and Jess Allan (11 hitouts) who took control across the ground. Through the midfield, the in-form Alyce Parker dominated with a match-high 25 disposals, as well as five marks, four tackles, five inside 50s and two rebound 50s, also drawing five free kicks for her efforts. The usual suspects in Elle Bennetts (18 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two rebound 50s), Alicia Eva (18 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Rebecca Beeson (15 disposals, two tackles and two inside 50s) were again prominent.

For the Cats, Amy McDonald recorded the most disposals with 21, as well as a whopping 11 tackles, and four inside 50s, while her namesake in Meghan McDonald was not far behind with 19 disposals, six marks, two tackles and six rebound 50s. Julia Crockett-Grills (17 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and first-year player Laura Gardiner (17 disposals, 11 tackles and two rebound 50s) were also productive in the loss. Rebecca Webster (14 disposals, four marks and three rebound 50s) and McWilliams (12 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s) were others who aided in the Cats remaining in the hunt at respective ends of the field.

GEELONG 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 (9)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Geelong: P. McWilliams.
GWS: H. Zreika, C. Staunton.

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, M. McDonald, L. Gardiner, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Webster
GWS: A. Parker, A. Eva, E. Bennetts, E. McKinnon, R. Beeson

Picture credit: via GWS GIANTS website

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

MAGPIES SWOOP PAST SAINTS AND BACK ONTO THE WINNERS LIST

COLLINGWOOD emphatically returned to the winners list on Saturday with a 47-point victory over St Kilda at Victoria Park, solidifying the Magpies’ top two status. A hot start from the home side set an ominous tone, with the Magpies leading at every break and keeping the Saints goalless for two terms across the 8.11 (59) to 2.1 (13) thumping.

It was pure domination from Collingwood, who the early bossed possession and restricted eight Saints players to a grand total of zero touches to quarter time. Meanwhile, Aliesha Newman enjoyed an electric start in black and white with two goals in the first few minutes, though her side spread the scoring well over four quarters despite some greater St Kilda resistance.

Georgia Patrikios proved one of the lone four quarter performers in St Kilda’s tri-colours, leading the charge alongside fellow young gun Tyanna Smith as a heap of more senior players were kept below their usual standards. The Saints now sit 12th with two wins on the board, as Collingwood’s minor premiership tilt heats up.

Newman finished with three majors as the game’s most damaging goalkicker, while Chloe Molloy bagged a double for the winners. Brittany Bonnici led all comers with an equal game-high 29 disposals, with other usual suspects in Bri Davey and Jaimee Lambert also finding plenty of ball. Ruby Schleicher was again outstanding in defence, as Sarah Rowe made a successful return to senior action.

Patrikios also notched 29 touches as the Saint’s best player afield, with Molly McDonald overcoming her slow start to also fare well in the losing team. Smith was another solid performer in black, white and red, as were the likes of Hannah Priest and Rosie Dillon. The Saints may fancy a rebound win as they take on West Coast next week, while Collingwood faces Adelaide in a high stakes battle.

COLLINGWOOD 3.3 | 4.6 | 6.1 | 8.11 (59)
ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 (13)

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Newman 3, C. Molloy 2, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Lin
St Kilda: J. Matin, J. Vogt

DC BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, R. Schleicher, M. Newman
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, T. Smith, H. Priest, R. Dillon

Image Credit: Jono Searle/AFL Photos

LIONS ROAR TO HISTORIC GABBA WIN

BRISBANE claimed its first ever victory on the Gabba turf, overcoming North Melbourne by 15 points on Saturday afternoon to make it four wins on the trot. The Lions were marginally behind at the first break but fought ahead thereafter, booting two goals in the third term and sealing it in the fourth to take out an important 4.11 (35) to 2.8 (20) result.

The Lions looked happy to be back home despite the wet conditions and some inaccuracy in front of goal, marching on towards a potential top two finish with a terrific pressure game and structural solidity. While North held on for much of the day and was within striking distance, an eye-catching Courtney Hodder goal sealed victory for Brisbane in the final term.

Hodder was among the six single goalkickers for the day, as the likes of Isabel Dawes and Emily Bates excelled for the victors. Experienced heads in Kate Lutkins and Emma Zielke played important roles across the defensive half, while Orla O’Dwyer again proved lively up the other end.

North Melbourne’s typical brigade of ball winners again went to work, with Jenna Bruton (26 disposals) leading all comers as Ash Riddell, Jess Duffin, and Emma Kearney all also ticked over 20 touches apiece. Their ball winning prowess counted for little in the grander result, as North was kept relatively quiet inside forward 50.

BRISBANE 1.2 | 1.8 | 3.9 | 4.11 (35) 
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.8 (20)

GOALS
Brisbane: D. Davidson, J. Wuetschner, S. Conway, C. Hodder.
North Melbourne: Abbatangelo, Bateman.

BEST 
Brisbane: I. Dawes, K. Lutkins, E. Zielke, E. Bates, O. O’Dwyer
North Melbourne: J. Bruton, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, J. Duffin

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Lions set up potential top of the table clash

By: Peter Williams

BRISBANE Lions have set up a potential top of the table clash with Collingwood – provided the Pies win today – after grabbing their fifth win of the season against GWS GIANTS yesterday. The Lions were a touch inaccurate, booting 7.13 (55) to 2.5 (17), but it was enough to secure the comfortable 38-point win and temporarily move into top spot. With five individual goalkickers for their seven goals, the Lions shared the goals around on the afternoon, and moved to a 5-1 record heading into the final three rounds of the season.

Dakota Davidson was quick off the mark, scoring a goal in the opening two minutes of the match to get the visitors up and about early. New recruit Courtney Hodder soon added her first at the 12-minute mark with a remarkable effort close to goal in tight space under pressure, and Jess Wuetschner in her second game back converted one, and the Lions were out to an 18-point lead with a few minutes remaining in the first term. The quarter time margin – which extended by one from that point courtesy of a Hodder behind – was 20 points, and the Lions were already looking in control of the match.

That only increased in the second term, as Isabel Dawes scored an early goal two minutes into the quarter, and fellow youngster Jade Ellenger drove the dagger in further with a fifth individual goalkicker in the match. When Davidson snagged her second of the contest late in the quarter, the margin had blown out to 39 points, and would by 41 by half-time. The GIANTS were unable to put one through the big sticks, while the Lions were sharing the ball around going inside 50 and reaping the rewards of doing so.

Dawes kicked her second major of the game again early in the third, as the six-and-a-half minute mark ticked past and Brisbane was out to a 49-point lead. It was at this point, the GIANTS began to rise. Katherine Smith was the first to respond two minutes later, and the goal drought was broken. Whilst the GIANTS would not kick another major until the final stanza through Emily Bennetts, they restricted the visitors to just three behinds in the final half an hour of action. The dried up scoring mattered little for the Lions however, as they claimed the important win.

Davidson snagged two goals from 10 disposals, four marks and five tackles to be lively in the first half, while Dawes managed the 11 disposals and four tackles to go with her two majors. Emily Bates was the top disposal winner for the Lions, picking up 20 touches, three marks and three tackles, while fellow midfielder Ally Anderson, and All-Australian defender Kate Lutkins racked up the 19 disposals. Tahlia Hickie was influential in the ruck, and Wuetschner was again lively, kicking a goal from 12 touches, three marks and four tackles.

For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva picked up 22 disposals, four marks and two tackles, ahead of Britt Tully (19 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Young gun Alyce Parker was again busy across the game with 16 disposals, two marks and six tackles, as was Rebecca Beeson (16 disposals, four tackles) and another rising star talent in Georgia Garnett (15 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Bennetts not only kicked the final goal of the game, but had 15 disposals and five marks to boot as well. Brisbane Lions set their sights on Collingwood next Sunday at Hickey Park, while the GIANTS head to RSEA Park on Saturday to clash with the Saints in what are both expected to be tight contests.

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)
BRISBANE 3.3 | 6.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:
Greater Western Sydney: Smith, Bennetts.
Brisbane: Davidson 2, Dawes 2, Hodder, Wuetschner, Ellenger

DC BEST:
Greater Western Sydney: Eva, Parker, Beeson, Bennetts, Garnett
Brisbane: Davidson, Lutkins, Bates, Dawes, Anderson

Picture credit: via Adelaide FC

ADELAIDE SEND WARNING SHOT WITH RECORD-BREAKING WIN

By: Tom Cheesman

ADELAIDE has continued its strong run of form with a 70-point smashing of Gold Coast at Norwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Crows held their opponents scoreless in the first and third terms while piling on 13 goals of their own for the match, an AFLW record. Adelaide controlled the inside 50s (41-19) and were far more efficient with their disposals inside 50 (56 to 37 per cent). Stevie-Lee Thompson (17 disposals, two marks, one goal) provided plenty of run and carry all day for the Crows, while Anne Hatchard (21 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ebony Marinoff (20 disposals, eight tackles) were influential in the midfield. Superstar Erin Phillips and Danielle Ponter kicked six goals (and had 10 scoring shots) between them, while Alison Drennan (29 disposals, seven tackles) and Kalinda Howarth (18 disposals) worked tirelessly for the visitors.

There were major injury issues for both sides in the opening minutes of the contest. First, Adelaide small defender Nikki Gore courageously flew from the side into a marking contest and went down with a suspected ankle fracture. Two minutes later, Gold Coast midfielder Jamie Stanton‘s ankle buckled underneath her when she laid a tackle in her side’s defensive 50. She was taken from the ground on a stretcher and was seen on crutches after the match. Once the match got going, Sarah Allan immediately set the tone for Adelaide in defence. She made a significant impact defensively but also initiated some counterattacking ball movement with effective forward handballs off half-back. Hatchard was able to kick the Crows’ first after a perfect pass from Phillips, and captain Chelsea Randall soccered through her side’s  second soon after.

For the fourth consecutive week, Adelaide held their opponents scoreless in the opening term. Regardless, it was not all doom-and-gloom for the Suns early. Howarth was classy with her ball use coming out of congestion, Kate Surman found plenty of the ball, and Tori Groves-Little took some spectacular marks up forward in her first quarter of the season. The Suns looked positive at the start of the second term, as Daisy D’Arcy found Leah Kaslar on the lead for their first goal of the day. However, the Crows noticed that the Suns were within a goal and quickly got the game back on their terms.

Ash Woodland earned a free for a hold and kicked truly from 30 metres out, and then Chloe Scheer set up Ponter for her first. Second-gamer Rachelle Martin redeemed herself after dropping a mark inside 50 by applying relentless forward pressure, earning a free kick and snapping her first goal in AFLW. Gold Coast’s only chance to score was from centre clearances at this point because, much like St Kilda last Sunday, they were unable to cleanly move the ball out of their defensive 50 through Adelaide’s zone.

In stark contest, Adelaide ran the ball out of their defence very easily, picking holes in Gold Coast’s defence at will. After Ponter and Phillips kicked back-to-back goals, Gold Coast won a centre clearance and got a late goal through Surman. Although Surman and Drennan had a whopping 33 touches between them at the main break, the Crows held a convincing 30-point lead. Ferocious Adelaide player Scheer extended her side’s lead at the start of the third by earning a free and putting through a set shot. Phillips set the ground alight when she unloaded a huge barrel off half-back, but unfortunately for the home fans it went straight to Elizabeth Keaney, who took several intercept marks in the third term. Thompson continued her impressive performance by running onto a loose ball and drilling the Crows’ ninth, and it was very clear that the Suns had no answers on how to stop Adelaide’s momentum.

After some relentless pressure from Teah Charlton and Woodland, Phillips earned a free for being blocked in a marking contest and kicked her second. Things soured for the Crows at the end of the third term, as Hannah Button dislocated her shoulder while reaching to lay a tackle and left the field in the hands of trainers. Adelaide did not slow down to start the fourth, continuing to pepper the goals and refusing to let the ball out of their forward half. This led to Ponter kicking another, this time from a forward 50 stoppage. Soon after, a duck through traffic and clever handball over the shoulder from Phillips set up Ponter for her fourth.

On the other side, all of Gold Coast’s forward movement came through Groves-Little, who got little-to-no support at that end of the ground. When Crows captain Randall got on the end of some unselfish ball movement from Phillips and Thompson to kick her second, Adelaide’s score moved to 85 points, just one behind shy of the highest score in AFLW history (12.14.86 by the 2018 Western Bulldogs). As Adelaide went for the record, the Suns were finally able to lock the ball in their forward 50 for an extended period. Sally Riley had some good moments during this stretch, but the Suns failed to capitalise on her hard work and only added one behind to their total.

After a late end-to-end transition by the Crows, Dee Heslop laid a brilliant tackle on Ponter in the goal square to save a certain score and keep the Bulldogs’ scoring record intact. Regardless, it was a percentage-boosting win that Adelaide’s coaches will be pleased with as they move into the final three rounds of the home and away season.

Next week, Adelaide hit the road to face Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Gold Coast will aim to get their first win of 2021 when they take on the Tigers in a Friday night clash at Metricon.

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 7.2 | 10.5 | 13.7 (85)
GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:
Adelaide: D. Ponter 4, E. Phillips, C. Randall 2, S. Thompson, A. Woodland, R. Martin, C. Scheer, A. Hatchard.
Gold Coast: L. Kaslar, K. Surman.

DC BEST:
Adelaide: S. Thompson, E. Phillips, D. Ponter, A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, T. Groves-Little, K. Howarth, K. Surman, S. Riley

Picture credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES DOWN SAINTS TO KEEP SEASON ALIVE

By: Sophie Taylor

IT was a tight encounter between Melbourne and St Kilda on Saturday night, with both sides looking to get back on the winners list this season after big losses last round. It was the Demons that got a confident and comfortable percentage-boosting victory on the board on home soil at Casey Fields, running out 9.12 (66) to 3.4 (22) victors, credit to a consistent four-quarter effort.

The Dees were on the offensive from the get-go, driving forward and flooding the 50m to lock the ball in attack. It appeared the Melbourne coaching staff were not afraid to switch things up a bit heading into this matchup, with a couple of shaky matches over the last few weeks making for a different approach in the forward line. A classy kick from Maddi Gay hit Daisy Pearce on a lead at the top of the square with the Dees legend putting the first goal of the game through, before minutes later Alyssa Bannan rid herself off her recent goal drought with an excellent running goal to put a second on the board. The Saints were still yet to make it inside their own 50m though despite piling pressure on through midfield, with the Dees making it tough to clear the footy. Gay and Tyla Hanks were never far from the footy as Sainters Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Cat Phillips contested well, while Kate Shierlaw also kept on the pressure around the ground, rarely beaten.

The remainder of the first was hotly contested with Melbourne unable to put a third major on the board despite locking the footy inside 50, and leading 14-0 at the first change. A huge inside 50 from Georgia Patrikios started the second quarter, surging the footy forward, and while it did not work to the Saints’ favour, the effort paid off with the Saints given a couple of chances to put on the scoreboard pressure, all to no avail. An excellent run down midfield from Hanks earned a free kick down field for a late push in the back, with a goal right in front from Shelley Scott undoing all the hard work the Saints had done early to lock the footy inside 50. While she was well held early, Patrikios fired up in the second quarter, throwing herself at the contest and doing everything she could to pile on the pressure around the ground.

The Saints strung some great minutes together in forward 50 as Nat Exon finally put the Saints on the board, reducing the margin and seeing the Saints build up their confidence with a couple more attempts coming in thick and fast but to no avail. The Dees’ midfield was on fire, and led by Hanks and Karen Paxman, they were crucial in quickly and efficiently driving down the centre. A free kick to Tegan Cunningham kept the scoreboard ticking over, seeing an 18-point half-time margin and an intense contest brewing.

A huge first few minutes of the third quarter saw plenty of argy bargy from both sides, with a tough battle through the midfield and Melbourne’s midfielders doing the trick to drive the footy forward, while St Kilda’s defence was just staying ahead of the pack to maintain possession. Lauren Pearce continued her excellent first half efforts utilising her height and footy smarts, before an excellent passage from Eden Zanker saw the forward kick directly to Daisy Pearce at the top of the square once more, before another goal to Bannan saw the second half kick off to an eerily similar way to the beginning of the match, though this time seeing a 31-point margin with 10 left in the third quarter. 

A goal to Jackie Parry saw the Dees extend their lead further, with the remainder of the match played on Melbourne’s terms as Caitlin Greiser was moved down back to help work the Saints back into the match but to no avail as Rosie Dillon, Rhi Watt and Hannah Priest continued to throw themselves into the contest. But it was a second scoreless term for the Saints, trailing by 39 points at the final change. The Dees needed a percentage boost ahead of the remaining three rounds of the season, and that’s what they got as the Saints failed to close the margin.

Zanker continued her solid work across the ground, putting a couple of behinds on the board and worrying the Saints but ultimately unable to find the big sticks, before Eliza McNamara topped off an excellent effort with her maiden goal. A maiden Claudia Whitfort goal reduced the margin a fraction but it was not enough, with the Dees creating a highlight reel up forward with their continuous hunt on the footy, and Kate Hore joining the party inside 50 with some slick skills towards the latter stage of the match. A Tamara Luke goal with just over two minutes of the clock did plenty for the Saints’ work rate but unfortunately not enough to really shake the Dees, with the home side running out 44-point winners credit to a solid four quarter effort.

For the losing side, Priest, Patrikios and Phillips were the leading ball-winners with 17 disposals apiece, and combining for 15 tackles between them. Dillion picked up 12 touches and eight tackles, whilst Watt (15 touches and five marks) also proved crucial. For the Dees, Lauren Pearce was a revelation in the ruck with 22 touches, 21 hitouts, four tackles, four marks and a behind, whilst Hanks (22 and four tackles), Zanker (23, eight marks and three behinds) and Paxman (24 touches)  were also heavily involved in the contest. Daisy Pearce booted her two from 13 touches and six marks, whilst Lily Mithen and Scott piled on the pressure with six tackles each.

The Dees will have their work cut out for them in the remaining three rounds of the season, currently sitting just outside the top six and matches against Adelaide (second), Fremantle (fourth) and Brisbane (first) awaiting. They host Adelaide during the same Saturday evening timeslot in a week’s time, whilst the Saints host the Giants in the early Saturday timeslot at RSEA Park.

MELBOURNE | 2.2 | 4.3 | 7.6 | 9.12 (66)
ST KILDA | 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Melbourne: D. Pearce 2, A. Bannan 2, S. Scott, T. Cunningham, J. Parry, E. McNamara, K. Hore.
St Kilda: N. Exon, C. Whitfort, T. Luke.

DC BEST
Melbourne: L. Pearce, T. Hanks, D. Pearce, E. Zanker, M. Gay
St Kilda: H. Priest, G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, R. Watt, R. Dillon

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Giants outlast Suns in wet conditions for maiden 2021 win

THE Greater Western Sydney Giants finally put a win on the board on Saturday afternoon, defeating Gold Coast Suns in a rain-affected encounter at Blacktown International Sportspark, 2.6 (18) to 1.2 (8). Both teams were coming into this match off the back of comprehensive Round 2 losses, and while the Suns pressed hard after a tough first quarter, it was to no avail in the wet weather as they failed to put a major on the board until the final minutes of the match.

In an excellent start to the match the Giants were just about unstoppable, hogging the footy as Alyce Parker and Bec Beeson could not be separated from the action, as Taylah Davies and Alicia Eva slotted early goals to open proceedings and put some space between them and the traveling Suns. While the Suns were relatively composed running out of half back and dominated the marking contest, led by Jade Pregelj who collected a number of rebounds and Alison Drennan who piled on the physicality, the side could not clear the footy through the tightly contested Giants as a clogged midfield continuously sent the ball soaring back inside 50. While the tides changed in the second, with a clear scoring end coming to fruition as the Suns piled on the offensive pressure, the away side just could not pile on the scoreboard intensity they needed with the footy continuously rebounding between Lauren Ahrens and Elle Bennetts. A 15-point margin at quarter time only slightly changed to 16 points as the main break came around, with both sides failing to put a goal on the board.

Whilst the weather cleared up in the second half, the slippery conditions remained as frantic footy was played through the midfield and a tight one-on-one defence from both sides denied any easy chances for clearances. While the Suns denied the Giants a single goal after the first term and Jamie Stanton finally broke the drought with a Suns goal in the last minutes of the match, it was a tough slog for the Suns in a much tighter encounter than the scoreline suggested.

The trio of Parker (24 disposals and five tackles), Beeson (23 and seven) and Eva (15 and one goal) was impressive as ever, while Haneen Zreika was unstoppable early to finish with seven tackles and opposing rucks Erin McKinnon and Lauren Bella racked up 20 hitouts apiece. The Suns’ physicality was excellent with Drennan (22 disposals, 12 tackles) combing well with Serene Watson and Hannah Dunn (eight and seven tackles, respectively) while Ahrens and Stanton were also solid.

Image Credit: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

GWS GIANTS | 2.3 | 2.5 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GOLD COAST SUNS | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Giants: T. Davies, A. Eva
Suns: J. Stanton

DC BEST:

Giants: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, A. Eva, B. Tully
Suns: A. Drennan, J. Stanton, L. Ahrens, M. Levi, S. Watson

Credit: Getty Images

Experienced Blues overawe Saints

The second match of the evening saw the Saints host the Blues at Moorabbin, in the first crowd-less matchup of the round. Perfect conditions in Melbourne saw the home side get off to the perfect start, as Caitlin Greiser would not be rendered goalless for the second straight round and put the first goal through for the match with minute left in the quarter as the Saints dominated the early stages. With Greiser taking centre stage up forward for the Saints, the Blues would not be left wondering what could be playing an extra back to lighten the load of the likes of Mua Laloifi, but Greiser’s beautiful gather and goal from an angle well and truly outclassed the Blues backwoman on return from injury, allowing the Saints some breathing space and a slight seven-point upper hand heading into the first change.

But it was not all doom and gloom for Carlton, as the side picked up their game as the second term rolled around with two shocking weeks behind them and no desire to head in that same direction once more, as the side well and truly took advantage of the blustery wind to pile on the scoreboard pressure in the second quarter. It took only a perfect start from Elise O’Dea who was sent forward to do what she does best, hitting the scoreboard quickly and seeing the rest of the side pick up their game immediately as Maddy Prespakis got in on the action with a snap out of the back of a contest, and seeing a couple of excellent chains of handballs keep the footy moving fast down the field, evading Saints’ possession. While it was the experienced Blues cohort that got the show on the road in the second quarter, it was the young talent that lifted in the second half as Prespakis was aided by Grace Egan, Georgia Gee and Abbie McKay, with the latter two finding much more of the footy as the match opened up. A Kate Shierlaw purple patch – including the Saints’ second goal – was cut short as the tall was briefly sent off the field for a head knock, whilst the likes of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith were influential around the footy, matching up well against the Blues’ talent but unable to apply the offensive pressure the side so sorely needed.

A tough contest was had in the final term, and while the Saints proved they were more than capable of taking the game on, it was not enough as the Blues had the momentum and wind going in their favour. Whilst the Saints midfield and back-end worked in overdrive to push the footy forward once more, the Blues shut down the centre corridor and minimised options on the wing to continuously propel the footy back inside their attacking 50. Nic Stevens‘ second goal of the game – a soccer off the ground from within the square – well and truly put the ice on the cake for the then-winless Blues, as the side ran home with a solid 6-4 (40) to 2.4 (16) victory.

For the successful Blues, Prespakis and Egan led the way with 24 touches apiece, combining for eight tackles between them while McKay was not far behind with 17 touches and seven tackles alone. O’Dea had her best match in the navy blue, piling 21 disposals onto her season tally and booting the side’s opening goal, while Jess Hosking and Breann Moody were solid as ever. For the Saints, Patrikios was excellent with 20 disposals and five tackles, while Hannah Priest (18 disposals, six tackles and five marks) and Rosie Dillon (14 disposals and nine tackles) were also solid targets around the ground.

ST KILDA | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
CARLTON | 0.0 | 3.1 | 5.1 | 6.4 (40)

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw
Carlton: N. Stevens 2, L. Brazzale, M. Downie, E. O’Dea, M. Prespakis

DC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, R. Dillon, H. Priest, K. Shierlaw, T. Lucas-Rodd
Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Egan, E. O’Dea, A. McKay, J. Hosking

Credit: Getty Images

Dees triumph thanks to second term

demolition

Melbourne reigned supreme in an almighty top four battle as the Demons came from behind to claim an emphatic nine-point win over North Melbourne 9.6 (60) to 8.3 (51). Both sides headed into the Round 3 match undefeated but Melbourne proved their status as a powerhouse side in the AFL Women’s competition. highlighting their attacking mentality and peppering away at the goals in the second term to flip the script.

Despite multiple chances throughout the opening term the Dees struggled to find their kicking boots early while North Melbourne nailed the first two goals of the game. With the ball spending majority of time inside 50 for Melbourne, the Demons finally struck their first major as the clock ticked down to quarter time reducing the deficit to three points at the break. That momentum trickled into the second term as the Demons showcased their ability to link up with handballs and weave their way forward to steal the lead and slot four consecutive goals. Tegan Cunningham and Jackie Parry inspired the comeback second term with the pair combining for four goals in that quarter alone, showcasing their ability to get the job done both in the air and at ground level with Parry roving the pack and slotting a nice goal to really give Melbourne the ascendancy heading into half time.

Melbourne stretched the lead out to as much as 25 points before the Kangaroos tightened things up in the third term to pile on the scoreboard pressure and nullify the influence of the Dees. With a number of key cogs in the blue and white, the Roos found a way to be damaging as Daria Bannister picked up the slack with two goals in her side’s four goal term. But sensing a momentum switch, the Demons regathered their composure in the final stanza to keep North Melbourne at bay, trapping the ball inside 50 despite the margin getting as close as three points with only moments to spare.

It was the usual suspects for the Kangaroos that stood up in the contest as Jasmine Garner took the game into her own hands as shown through her mammoth 15 disposals, 12 tackles and two goal effort. Emma Kearney chimed in, amassing 16 touches while also slotting a timely goal to keep the Roos within touching distance of the Demons. Ashleigh Riddell was a key contributor with her 17 disposals as was Kaitlyn Ashmore who managed to find plenty of the footy thanks to her 16 disposals and two tackle performance. Jenna Bruton threw her weight around laying six tackles to accompany her 14 touches while Bannister kept the scoreboard ticking over banging home two majors.

For the Demons, Karen Paxman was a force to be reckoned with directing traffic and picking up a game-high 25 disposals. Paxman was involved in just about everything and made full use of her physical nature to match up against Kearney through the middle while on the goal-scoring front Cunningham was proving too big and too strong, outmuscling her opponents and kicking true out the front. Cunningham finished with two goals for the game as teammate Parry impressed with her three majors. Youngster Tyla Hanks provided that element of run and carry across the ground picking up 23 touches and nine tackles as Kate Hore was a real livewire with 15 touches and three marks. Maddison Gay made her presence felt recording seven tackles and 16 disposals in the win with Lily Mithen also a key playmaker for the Dees amassing 21 touches.

MELBOURNE | 1.3 | 7.4 | 8.4 | 9.6 (60)
NORTH MELBOURNE | 2.1 | 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)

GOALS:

Melbourne: J. Parry 3, T. Cunningham 2, S. Scott 2, K. Hore, K. Paxman
North Melbourne: J. Garner 2, D. Bannister 2, G. Campbell, E. Kearney, S, Abbatangelo, I. Eddey

DC BEST: 

Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, L. Mithen, M. Gay, T. Cunningham,
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell,  J.Bruton, K. Ashmore

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 1 – Triple header on Saturday the highlight

AFTER a long wait, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition has returned with the eight sides battling it out for a chance at the title. Six of the eight teams have lost players to the AFL Women’s competition, with Norwood and South Adelaide the hardest hit. The Panthers begin their premiership defence against last year’s wooden spooners at home, while a triple header greets the remaining six teams at X Convenience Oval on Saturday.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Friday, February 14, 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

The standalone game on Friday night sees the opposite ends of the ladder from last season face off. South Adelaide will be able to unfurl its 2019 premiership flag – possibly alongside its 2018 one – as it welcomes 2019 wooden spooners Woodville-West Torrens to Flinders University Stadium. Last season this match might have been considered a no-brainer, and considering the occasion, the Panthers will head in as heavy favourites. However the Eagles will be better prepared in 2020 than 12 months ago, so it will be fascinating to see how they fare this season.

To make the match balance more towards the equilibrium is the fact the Panthers have lost a number of quality players to the AFL Women’s competition. Montana McKinnon and Nicole Campbell were both drafted to Adelaide and could still play games at state level, though with their talent and the Crows’ injury crisis, it will not always be the case. Hannah Munyard was picked up by the Western Bulldogs, while Cheyenne Hammond has already donned the red and gold up in the Sunshine State for the SUNS, so neither will feather this year for the reigning premiers. Aside from the four exits, six others have departed the club, meaning the turnover will see a very different line-up in 2020. Three former Panthers have returned to the club with Louella McCarthy (St Kilda VFLW), Lucy Northcott (knee) and Nicole Mark (maternity leave) all coming in, as well Tahlia Meyer crossing from rivals Norwood.

The Eagles have also lost a number of players, predominantly to SANFL Women’s rivals with Hannah Scholar and Taylor Hand heading to the Bloods, Jo Baltias, Rachel Dunstan and Aajiah Jerico to Sturt. The two biggest losses could be Natasha Farrier heading to ice hockey, and AFL Women’s Under-18 All Australian member Jaimi Tabb drafted to the Crows. She has already made her debut at AFL Women’s level, but could feature at some point depending on the Crows’ selection. Three players have joined the Eagles, with Rebecca Catterall coming over from Central District, Ali Evans from West Adelaide and Nicole Collie from North Adelaide which should provide some fresh faces on the field.

Both McKinnon and Campbell have been named in the Crows’ side for Round 2, with the Panthers unveiling as many nine new players named in the extended side. The Eagles also have plenty of fresh faces, with seven players coming in, while Tabb has been named in the center, though is also named in the Crows’ side on the extended bench. The young forward line duo of Kiana Lee and Teagan Usher will be one to watch, while up the other end, Teah Charlton is South Australia’s top Under-18 talent and will be one who can break a game open and with the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Indy Tahau in the midfield, expect the Panthers to be a bit too strong.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 15, 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Opening up the first of a triple header at X Convenience Oval are two finalists from last year going head-to-head in what is predicted to be the match of the round. Both these sides have lost talent to the AFL Women’s so will look to their depth in order to provide the same impact at SANFL Women’s level. The Roosters went all the way to the SANFL Women’s Grand Final last season before falling to the Panthers – knocking out an Ebony Marinoff-inspired Tigers’ outfit on the way through to the deciding match. Glenelg looked down and out with a few weeks remaining in the season, but found the will to not give in, winning the last few matches and qualifying for fourth spot by pipping West Adelaide at the post.

In 2020, the Tigers will be without a couple of talls in Caitlin Gould and Lucy Bellinger, both of whom provided good presence around the ground and an ability to hit the scoreboard. With Brooke Trevena and Ellen Fauser also unavailable due to maternity leave, the Tigers will be short a few of the players that really them reach the post-season series. South Adelaide duo, Emily Woods and Grace Duffy will provide some great insight from the back-to-back premiers and earn more game time in the yellow and black, while Rachel Aistrope and Jessica Bates are two players who have come into the side after impressing at lower levels. They showed last season they have the defensive structures to keep sides to low scores, and if they can continue that blueprint into this season it will hold them in good stead.

For the Roosters, they have also been hit hard by their success with two of their best players heading up to the elite level and will not feature at this level again in 2020. Nadia Von Bertouch – who unfortunately did her knee on debut for St Kilda and will miss the season – was a natural leader, captaining the side to the grand final, while Brittany Perry has already had an influence for the SUNS up there. The Roosters have lost further experience with the retirements of Jane Altschwager and Emma Sampson, while Elysha Willis has turned her attention to her netball. A big including for the side will be the return of Kristi Harvey who impressed in her time at Carlton VFLW, joining the likes of Panther Mollie McKendrick, Blood Taylor Gordon and Redleg Stana Zecevic and Northern Territory’s Elise Fenna making the trip down.

The Roosters have opted for Harvey to hold down full-back in this match, with last year’s leading goalkicker, Kelly Barltrop the other bookend. She is hard to stop when on song, and with Cristie Castle, Ashleigh Woodland and Amber Ward rounding out the spine, the Roosters are predicted to be very strong again. Of all the players to run out in the red and white, it would be hard for anyone to beat 38-year-old Bek Rasheed‘s story. The daughter of club great and games record holder Mick Redden, Rasheed will make her debut at the club as starting ruck with the 42 guernsey that her father wore over his 379 games. Looking over Glenelg’s Round 1 side, youngster Madisyn Freeman will be a key talent coming off half-back, joining forces with Lucy Armitage in defence, while Sam Franson up the other end could apply some scoreboard pressure. Despite the departures, North still seems like a genuine contender so will start as favourite here.

STURT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 15, 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

Last year’s fifth and sixth go at it in the second game at X Convenience Oval with the Double Blues taking on the Bloods. West Adelaide came agonisingly close to finals in 2019 but were narrowly shafted in the final round as the Tigers leapt up and claimed fourth. Sturt on the other hand showed signs early in the season – including a low-scoring win over Glenelg – but were ultimately not able to roll anyone else other than the two expansion sides in other matches. Of all sides heading into the new season, Sturt has been relatively untouched in terms of departures, while the Bloods also have a number of additions likely to strengthen its squad to make a run at the finals in 2020.

Sturt only has two confirmed departures from last season, with Lilla Berry and Della Griffith travelling overseas and focusing on other sports respectively. The Double Blues were one of only two sides – with Central District – not to lose a player to the AFL Women’s competition through the draft. They have managed to pick up some of the Eagles’ depth in Baltias, Dunstan and Jerico, while finding a couple of X-factors in cross-coders, Ally Ladas (soccer) and Stephanie Ratliff (basketball). Louise Firth makes the step up to the SANFL Women’s from Scotch Old Collegians, and then there’s an extra year of development into the Double Blues’ youngsters such as Zoe Prowse. Based on the changes to the list, the experience gained and the inclusions, Sturt could move up in the right direction with a number of its rivals losing quality players over the off-season.

For the Westies, Madison Newman and Chelsea Biddell were both drafted into the AFL Women’s in last year’s draft and will only be available when not running around with the Crows. Much like the other draftees, based on Adelaide’s lengthy injury list and the fact that some like Newman had outstanding debuts, you cannot expect them to always be available for state league level. Evans is one of three others to depart the club with Gordon heading north and the experienced Leah Swain off due to maternity leave. Coming into the team is a couple of Eagles in Hand and Scholar, as well as Norwood’s Zoe Greer and returning from NT Thunder, Rachael Killian. Her experience from the VFL Women’s competition will be important and expect her to player a crucial role. Kate Walsh is the other addition to the side, coming up from SMOSH West Lakes to try her hand at the top level in South Australia.

Five players will make their debuts in the Double Blues, while former Eagle Dunstan has been named in the back pocket. The midfield combination of Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter will make it challenging for the opposition, while Alex Ballard and Lucy Griffith have been named on opposing wings. They take on Greer, youngster Abbie Ballard and Rachelle Martin onball, with the latter of whom has one of the more interesting footballing stories already this year. She got the chance to represent the Crows at the elite level in Round 1 due to the mounting injury toll, and no doubt that experience will hold her in good stead here. West Adelaide will likely be favourite for the depth across the ground such as full-forward Melanie Elsegood who can help kick a winning score, but this is predicted to be the best game of the round.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, February 15, 2.10pm
X Convenience Oval

The game fans at X Convenience Oval will be waiting for is the return to the SANFL Women’s competition of Central District. The only side playing at its home ground during the triple header, the Bulldogs will hope to improve on their seventh placed finish in 2019 with a tough challenge up first. The Redlegs have been one of the most successful teams in the SANFL Women’s era, having won a flag then finishing runner-up and claiming the minor premiership last year before a semi-final exit. They always find a way to be there at the pointy end of the season, though 2020 will provide a new challenge given the amount of departures – including a change of coach – as talent breeds talent.

From the Bulldogs’ perspective, just Catterall (Woodville-West Torrens) and Courtney Jensen (work) have departed the club, with a quartet of relatively unknown quantities coming into the club from the next tier down in South Australian football. Abbie Thomas, Shelby Smith, Madison Kalleske and Hannah Bevington have opted to don the red, white and blue for season 2020 and while they might not have SANFL Women’s experience, the Bulldogs are growing a good young list to compete over the next few seasons.

Norwood on the other hand, has had a high turnover of players due to its successful few years, led by last year’s league best and fairest winner, Najwa Allen drafted by the Crows. Hannah Dunn has already made her debut for Gold Coast SUNS, as has Hannah Priest at St Kilda, while Ebony O’Dea joined former coach Steve Symonds at Collingwood through the AFL Women’s Draft. These departures coupled with the fact Monique Hollick has headed overseas for work, Jane Fitzgerald has retired and a trio of others have left in search of an increased role means the Redlegs will be a very different looking outfit in 2020. Chloe Meyer has joined the club from the Simon Black Academy, while Georgia Avery and Shanae Walker are another couple of inclusions to try and replace those out of the side.

The Bulldogs will head into the new season confident they can cause an upset against a new-look Norwood side. With Katelyn Rosenzweig up forward, the Sonneman sisters (Demi and Jayme-Lee) down back with Kimberley Fry, they will likely benefit from last year’s experience. For the Redlegs, they still have talent all across the park, but the midfield is largely different to its dominant one from last season, with Elisha Gallagher, young star Bella Smith and Michele Reid now replacing Allen, Dunn and O’Dea. Sophie Armistead will help hold down defence with Jo Hill to try and contain the dangerous Bulldogs’ forwards. This is an intriguing game because the Redlegs have the depth from last season to still compete, but it will almost be like being a brand new side again, while Central has remained relatively the same which should excite fans going forward.

SANFL Women’s 2020 team preview: Norwood

IN the next of our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s team preview, we take a look at Norwood, one of the most successful teams over the past three seasons, winning a flag and then coming close in the past two years. They lost a heap of talent to AFL Women’s lists – including coach Steve Symonds – and will be looking to their next tier of players to continue the success of the club.

 

2019 BY THE NUMBERS:

Position: 1st (eliminated in Preliminary Final)
Wins: 9
Losses: 1
For: 439
Against: 166
Percentage: 264.5%

 

2020 CHANGES

(as per Zak Milbank’s article on the SANFL site)

IN: Chloe Meyer (Simon Black Academy), Georgia Avery (Keilor), Shanae Walker.
OUT: Najwa Allen (Adelaide AFLW), Hannah Dunn (Gold Coast AFLW), Hannah Priest (St Kilda AFLW), Ebony O’Dea (Collingwood AFLW), Tahlia Meyer (South Adelaide), Stana Zecevic (North Adelaide), Zoe Greer (West Adelaide), Jane Fitzgerald (retired/coaching).

 

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Monique Hollick

Will be vital to the club’s experience given the departures over the off-season. The 30-year-old midfielder averaged 16.4 disposals, 6.7 marks and 4.4 inside 50s per game, showing just how valuable she was on the outside. With a largely inside brigade last season, Hollick will have to work with some fresh faces through the midfield to provide the same run and carry for Norwood.

Leah Cutting

The barometer of the team in terms of her defensive pressure, Cutting was fierce in 2019, laying a massive 85 tackles during the SANFL Women’s season at an average of 7.1 per game. She was not a huge ball winner, but stepped up in the final three weeks of the season, averaging 14.7 disposals per game, which was impressive as a ruck, averaging 21 hitouts per game, and 25.3 in the final three weeks. She will be a handful for any opposition ruck during the season, and with a largely new midfield group, she has a huge role from an experience point of view.

Sophie Armistead

Named vice-captain this year after a consistent season in 2019, the 25-year-old was often underrated compared to some of the other names through the midfield, but it was her inside work that allowed others to move the ball in transition. Armistead averaged 13.8 disposals, 4.6 tackles and 3.7 clearances per game, only dropping below 10 touches on one occasion during the season.

Jo Hill

Led the club goalkicking last year with 10 majors from nine games, finishing equal third overall in the league prior to the finals. After going scoreless in her first two games, Hill booted majors in seven of her next eight games, including a haul of four against Central District in the final round. With the team sharing the goals around last season, Hill is just one of many who benefit from the team success.

NAJWA ALLEN

Last year’s league best and fairest was a revelation in her first season at the club since crossing from New South Wales. She was drafted by Adelaide in the AFL Women’s Draft and that would have relieved a lot of Norwood officials knowing she might be available on occasions. The 25-year-old averaged 25.4 disposals per game at 73 per cent efficiency, only dropping below 20 touches once. She also averaged 3.2 clearances, 2.7 tackles, 3.3 inside 50s and 1.9 rebounds in the 2019 season.

 

FIXTURE

1 vs. Central District
2 vs. WWT Eagles
3 vs. South Adelaide
4 vs. West Adelaide
5 vs. Central District
6 vs. WWT Eagles
7 vs. North Adelaide
8 vs. Sturt
9 vs. West Adelaide
10 vs. Glenelg

Norwood has drawn a massively favouring draw based on last season, playing all non-finalists in the double-up games, including matches against bottom two sides, Central District and Woodville West Torrens. South Adelaide in Round 3 will be a challenge, as will the Round 4 clash against West Adelaide with the Bloods and Tigers in the final fortnight of the season. Norwood might have lost a lot of talent, but the depth from last season is still there, so expect others to stand up and be thereabouts in 2020.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: St Kilda

IN the next of our expansion club AFL Women’s off-season reviews, we take a look at St Kilda. The Saints are a side that was able to secure a number of former Southern Saints VFL Women’s players that managed to earn places on other AFL Women’s lists, whilst picking up some talent from other sides, and plenty of local youth in the process.

Prominent midfielder, Alison Brown was the first official signing, which was followed by pre-listing teenagers, Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon from the Dandenong Stingrays. Southern Saints quartet, Kate Shierlaw – formerly of Carlton – Olivia Vesely, Caitlin Grieser and Sammie Johnson all earned places on the list. Former Southern Saints players, Alison Drennan, Rhiannon Watt, Courteney Munn and Selena Karlson all returned to Moorabbin, complemented by the recruitment of Collingwood’s Darcy Guttridge, Brisbane’s Nat Exon, Melbourne’s Cat Phillips and Adelaide’s Jessica Sedunary.

The Saints were also able to add further experience to the list, willing to trade Pick 11 in the AFL Women’s Draft for Kate McCarthy from the Lions, while departing with Pick 9 for Emma Mackie and a couple of top 30 selections. Claudia Whitfort was the final player to join the Saints during the trade period, crossing from the Dees, before adding veterans, Melissa Kuys and Tilly Lucas-Rodd in free agency. Clara Fitzpatrick and Poppy Kelly crossed from Gaelic football and basketball respectively to line-up for the Saints’ VFLW team this season, and then with four selections in the top 30, picked up the incredibly classy Georgia Patrikios, experienced Hawk Rosie Dillon, speedy Nicola Xenos, and Under-18 All Australian at age 16, Queenslander Tarni White. Rounding out the team, the Saints selected veteran ruck Tamara Luke, and experienced Norwood midfielder Hannah Priest, before passing in the AFL Women’s Draft to snap up North Adelaide captain, Nadia von Bertouch.

2020 TEAM LIST:

Alison Brown
Rosie Dillon
Alison Drennan
Nat Exon
Clara Fitzpatrick
Caitlin Greiser
Darcy Guttridge
Sammie Johnson
Selena Karlson
Poppy Kelly
Melissa Kuys
Tilly Lucas-Rodd
Tamara Luke
Emma Mackie
Kate McCarthy
Molly McDonald
Courteney Munn
Kelly O’Neill
Georgia Patrikios
Cat Phillips
Hannah Priest
Jess Sedunary
Isabella Shannon
Kate Shierlaw
Olivia Vesely
Nadia von Bertouch
Rhiannon Watt
Tarni White
Claudia Whitfort
Nicola Xenos

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Claudia Whitfort – Clara Fitzpatrick – Melissa Kuys
HB: Darcy Guttridge – Selena Karlson – Nicola Xenos
C: Molly McDonald
HF: Georgia Patrikios – Kate Shierlaw – Nat Exon
F: Kate McCarthy – Courteney Munn – Caitlin Greiser
R: Rhiannon Watt – Alison Brown – Alison Drennan
INT: Jess Sedunary – Tilly Lucas-Rodd- Isabella Shannon – Olivia Vesely – Tarni White

EMG: Sammie Johnson – Emma Mackie – Rosie Dillon

DEPTH: Poppy Kelly, Cat Phillips Tamara Luke, Kelly O’Neill, Hannah Priest, Nadia von Bertouch

St Kilda seem to have gone with a real youth and experience approach, with players nearing the end of their careers, as well as a lot who are just starting. They used the AFL Women’s expansion period to fill holes in the mid-range age bracket area, but it will be the excitement of their youth coming through that will be the eye-catching area of their side. Much like any of the expansion clubs, it is hard to work out how they will front up in Round 1 and play out throughout the year, but expect them to pile in the youth where possible, with Patrikios, Xenos, McDonald and Shannon all getting plenty of games, and White is another player who should get a crack early on upside alone.

The Saints will rely a lot on the experience of their smaller players in Kuys and Lucas-Rodd to hold down the fort in defence in what is either an inexperienced or young defence that will come good with a full season. Guttridge could be a huge inclusion for the Saints off half-back, while up forward, McCarthy is an underrated pick. Their spine might not have a huge name attached, but a lot of the hard working midfielders will make sure to get the ball out to the youthful runners adding that X-factor.

Weekend wash-up: SANFL Women’s – Semi-finals

THE reigning premiers are back in the decider after a 13-point win over minor premiers, Norwood – South Adelaide’s second win over the Redlegs in three rounds – while North Adelaide breathed a sigh of relief, coming back from a four-point final break deficit against Glenelg to ensure their premiership dream remains alive.

NORTH ADELAIDE 2.0 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.1 (25)
GLENELG 0.3 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

North: Kelly Barltrop 2, Brittany Perry, Leah Tynan.
Glenelg: Ellen Fauser, Melinda Speechley, Tasja Batzavalis.

DISPOSALS:

North: Lauren Daniel 17
Glenelg: Ebony Marinoff 38, Cass Hartley 17, Samantha Franson 16, Caitlin Gould, Ellie Kellock, Chelsea Packer 15.

A herculean effort from Ebony Marinoff and Glenelg was not enough for the Tigers to cause an upset win over North Adelaide in the do-or-die semi-final on Friday. The underdogs conceded the first two goals of the game with Leah Tynan and Kelly Barltrop getting the Roosters on top in the first term, before majors to Ellen Fauser and Melinda Speechley saw the Tigers hit the front at half-time by four points. The third quarter was a titanic struggle with neither side able to score such was the intensity and defensive pressure, and the Rooster fans were feeling nervous still down at the final break having scored one behind since quarter time. Luckily their fears were put to bed early in the fourth with Brittany Perry putting her side in front, before Barltrop booted her second a couple of minutes later to five them an eight-point lead. Tasja Batzavalis picked a good time for her first league goal in the tenth minute and the margin was back to two points. Unfortunately for the Tigers despite their best efforts they were not able to breakthrough and the Roosters breathed a sigh of relief knowing the next two weeks were going to be tough. North Adelaide shared the ball around in the win, with Lauren Daniel amassing a team-high 17 disposals, as well as two marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and four tackles. Amber Ward won 14 touches, laid five tackles and had two rebounds, while Perry worked hard between the arcs with four clearances, four rebounds and three inside 50s, while laying six tackles and having 13 disposals. Barltrop made the most of her opportunities with two goals from six disposals. The clear standout player on the ground to no-one’s surprise was Marinoff, who broke her own league disposal record for a third consecutive week, amassing 38 disposals, taking nine marks (two contested), eight clearances, five inside 50s, four rebounds and laying nine tackles. Cassie Hartley also had 17 touches, while Samantha Franson was fierce around the stoppages with 16 touches, four clearances, three inside 50s and a game-high 12 tackles. Caitlin Gould was busy in the ruck with 24 hitouts, three clearances, seven inside 50s and five tackles as well as 15 disposals. It was a promising season for Glenelg but the Tigers now bow out, while the Roosters face Norwood next week for a spot in the decider.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.2 | 5.4 (34)
NORWOOD 0.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 3.3 (21)

GOALS:

South: Teah Charlton 2, Tamara Page, Jessica Kirk, Tiffany Copley.
Norwood: Kate Fenton 2, Matilda Zander.

DISPOSALS:

South: Nicole Campbell 16, Nikki Gore
Norwood: Najwa Allen 20, Hannah Dunn 18, Hannah Priest 17, Sally Riley 15

It was the game talked up as the biggest of the weekend, but South Adelaide almost put the result to bed in the first half, piling on four unanswered goals – including two to Teah Charlton – to lead by as much as 24 points late in the second term. Matilda Zander gave the minor premiers a glimpse of hope in the dying minutes of the second term with the Redlegs’ first goal, before Norwood looked to have found its groove in the third, with Kate Fenton slotting two majors. The Redlegs had drawn within five points at the final break and looked to have the momentum running into the last quarter, but it was only South Adelaide who managed to get on the board, with Tiffany Copley booting the winning goal midway through the quarter as the Panthers ended up winning by 13 points in a more comfortable fashion than predicted. Nicole Campbell and Nikki Gore both had 15 disposals in the win, while combining for eight clearances, 14 tackles, four inside 50s and four rebounds, while Sarah Wright was busy in defence with four rebounds to go with her 14 disposals and three tackles. Hannah Munyard had 13 disposals, while Czenya Cavouras was down on her usual numbers like most of her teammates, but still laid eight tackles. For Norwood, Najwa Allen still managed 20 disposals in the loss, while taking three marks, having three inside 50s and laying three tackles. The usual suspects were all at the top of the disposal tallies with Hannah Dunn (18 touches, five marks, six tackles, three clearances, three rebounds), Hannah Priest (17 disposals, four marks, six tackles and two rebounds) and Sally Riley (15 disposals, two marks, three clearances and three tackles) all important. Leah Cutting was once again strong in the ruck with a game-high 19 hitouts as well as 14 disposals, two marks, four clearances and four tackles. It was a disappointing result for the minor premiers who have had a terrific season but dropped two of their past three games, both to the same opponent. Now the Redlegs must prepare for a preliminary final against North Adelaide who escaped Glenelg’s clutches in order to book a rematch with the Panthers in the 2019 decider and try and reverse the result of last year’s grand final.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 10

AFTER an entertaining nine rounds, everything comes down to the final week with five teams attempting to squeeze into four in what is set to be an entertaining Round 10 of football in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. The only guarantee is Norwood has locked up the minor premiership, with a double-chance on offer for North Adelaide with a win, and a loss to South Adelaide, who will have stiff opposition in West Adelaide with Bloods having to win to book a finals place. Their poor percentage means a loss will certainly see them drop out of the four assuming Glenelg can topple the winless Woodville-West Torrens. For the Eagles, Sturt and Central District, they cannot make finals, but they can certainly shape the top four if they throw spanners in the works with upsets.

STURT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday May 4, 10.45am
Peter Motley Oval

In the first game on Saturday, the only guarantee is that North Adelaide will play finals, and Sturt will not. With a massive percentage of 184, the Roosters have been the dominant scoring team since being 1-3 after four rounds. They have strung together five straight wins, albeit against lower sides, and this is no different with a match against the bottom three side Sturt. With all bottom three sides facing finals hopefuls, it will be a tough ask for them to get up and cause an upset, meaning Sturt will likely finish six ahead of the two newcomers. A win would be a just reward for the Double Blues’ efforts this season, but there is much more on the line for North Adelaide. If the Roosters win, and West Adelaide cause an upset against the Panthers, and North Adelaide slides into second spot, and the double chance. The Roosters percentage is better than South Adelaide, but are a game behind and therefore must win to take the spot. If Glenelg does make it into the finals series, it will mean the Roosters are surrounded by the only three teams they have lost to, but they were incredibly close contests. The last time North Adelaide and Sturt faced off was in Round 2, with the Roosters getting the win in a seven-point contest. It was North Adelaide’s only victory in the first four rounds, while Sturt had to wait until Round 5 for its first triumph. In the Round 2 clash, Roosters’ captain Nadia Von Bertouch lead from the front with 20 disposals, four marks, four clearances and six inside 50s, while Kelly Barltrop announced herself as a genuine leading goalkicker this season with five straight snags from six kicks. For Sturt, Georgia Bevan was her characteristic dominant self, picking up 24 touches as well as eight clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Looking ahead to this weekend, both sides have been forced to make a couple of changes with Ashleigh Woodland injured and Julia Clark unavailable for North, while for Sturt, Jess Schulz and Casey Fraser will miss the Double Blues’ final game of the season. Into the underdogs side comes forwards, Zoe Prowse and Holly Temby, while Paige Allan is a massive inclusion for the Roosters for an already brimming midfield. The midfield battle will be the highlight of the game, with Bevan, Maya Rigter and Caitlyn Swanson going head-to-head with the likes of Allan, Brittany Perry and Kat Reynolds. The Roosters’ forward line is dynamic and hard to stop, with Barltrop leading the way, although Cristie Castle and Leah Tynan have both been able to find avenues to go, and the likes of Paxton Davis-Mattner and Hannah Prenzler will be keen to restrict those players. Up the other end of the ground, Georgia Swan, Nicole Baker and Alex Ballard can cause their own headaches for the Roosters’ defence. but Amber Ward has been as consistent as they come this season, so look to her for plenty of rebound, whereas the Double Blues will be keen to shut her down in this match. North Adelaide have to be overwhelming favourites in this game. The Roosters could take second with a win, but could also drop to fourth with a loss, so everything is on the line, and as far and away the highest scoring team, they should have too much firepower for the Double Blues.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday May 4, 12.20pm
Alberton Oval

The second game of the round pits minor premiers Norwood up against Central District at Alberton Oval at a touch just after midday. It is the only game of the round that does not have a bearing on the finals race, with Norwood having locked up top spot a couple of weeks ago, and could even afford to lose to second placed South Adelaide in Round 9. If there is anything we have come to know about champion teams that have a rare loss, it is that they are fully determined to atone for that loss the next week, which could spell trouble for the Bulldogs. Central District could jump ahead of Sturt with a victory, but cannot fall lower than seventh on the table, safe in the knowledge that fellow newcomer to the competition, Woodville-West Torrens has taken out the wooden spoon for season 2019. These two teams do not have to look far to find the last time they faced off, with the Round 7 match going comfortably the way of the Redlegs. After keeping touch with them in the ladder leaders in the first half, Central District eventually relented as Norwood piled on six consecutive goals before the Bulldogs booted their second major, resulting in a 38-point win to the favourites. Najwa Allen suffered a bout of leather poisoning on the day, racking up 30 touches as well as nine marks, two clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds and 2.2 in a best afield performance. Hannah Dunn and Monique Hollick both had 22 touches and combined for 13 marks and eight inside 50s, while Central’s Jayme-Lee Sonneman did all she could in the ruck with 17 hitouts and eight clearances to go with 13 disposals. Gemma Doughty (13 disposals, four rebounds) and Shannen Solly (12 disposals, three rebounds) also stood up in defence for the losing side. Heading into this match, Central has made at least four changes, with Laitiah Huynh – the Bulldogs’ highest disposal winner in these sides’ last match – back into the team, while Norwood has lost Alison Ferrall to injury, with Jane Fitzgerald coming into a forward pocket. The game may lack the finals-defining quality of the other games over the weekend, but the Redlegs will still have plenty to focus on, finishing the season on a high and heading into a clash with either South Adelaide – who the Redlegs lost to in Round 9 – or the red-hot scoring machine that is North Adelaide. Either way Norwood will have a tough task and will be keen to take care of business in this game. It is spoken about each week in this preview, but the ridiculous depth in the Redlegs midfield is sensational with Allen, Hollick and Dunn, as well as former Adelaide midfielder, Sally Riley, as well as Hannah Priest, Tahlia Meyer and Sophie Armitstead rolling through there. Matilda Zander and Rhiannon Busch have had some terrific games, while Jo Hill and Bella Smith make up a strong key defensive combination, and Leah Cutting is a dominant ruck. Along with the other top three sides, Norwood has all the hallmarks of a premiership side. Central have the beginnings of a great side, but are not quite there. Katelyn Rosenzweig is a developing key forward, the Sonneman sisters (Jayme-Lee and Demi) are always key players in the side, while Kimberley Fry, Chantel Reynolds and Danielle Stewart have all had their moments throughout 2019. It is almost impossible to look past Norwood in this clash. Everyone is hoping the Bulldogs can finish off their season with a strong performance, although with Norwood casting an eye ahead to the next few weeks in what will be a big finals series, the Redlegs must play with finals intensity so expect them to come away with a comfortable win.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday May 4, 4.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The most finals-defining game of the round is that between South Adelaide and West Adelaide, for the simple reason that both teams have so much to gain, and to lose by the result. If South Adelaide triumphs, the Panthers secure second spot and a double chance to try and topple Norwood for the second time in three weeks when they face off in the semi-final next weekend. That result would likely see West Adelaide tumble out of the four with Glenelg taking on the winless Woodville-West Torrens. Despite being a win ahead of the Tigers, the Westies have the worst percentage of any finals hopeful, and it is now coming back to bite them. If however, the Bloods can get up in the game, they will secure a finals birth, and, if North Adelaide somehow drops its game wot Sturt, can even take third on the table. In that scenario, South Adelaide would still retain second, but in the much more likely scenario, the Roosters would have their way with the Double Blues, snatching second spot at the expense of the Panthers in the process. So all in all, this game has everything on the line which makes for a fascinating contest. The last time these teams met was back on March 1 in Round 3 when the Panthers got the job done in a 16-point win. Czenya Cavouras was easily best on ground in the win, amassing 29 disposals, and having a whopping nine clearances, five inside 50s and laying 10 tackles. Teah Charlton showed promise as she has all season, racking up 19 disposals and booting a goal alongside Adelaide midfielder, Nikki Gore. Montana McKinnon was superb in the ruck with 23 hitouts, four clearances and five of her seven marks contested. For West Adelaide, Abbie Ballard had a team-high 18 touches, as well as four clearances, three inside 50s and six tackles, while sharp shooter, Chelsea Biddell snagged two majors from 13 disposals and five marks (two contested). Looking ahead to this weekend, on paper, South Adelaide has the stronger side, the depth across the ground is terrific and the midfield up there with Norwood in terms of both ability and depth. They don’t have a dominant forward like some teams, relying on contributions from not only forwards, but midfielders as well. West Adelaide have Biddell who has shown herself to be capable of kicking a bag on her day when she is on fire, but she will not be there to help them in this clash. The Bloods have made at least three changes to their side, with full-back Kelly Whittaker and forward Ashlea Brown among the inclusions to the side with Leah Swain among those out of the team. For the Panthers, they will miss the impact of Lauren Buchanan who did her knee, but will welcome back Emogen Johnson and Brooklyn Kraft to the forward line, and Samantha Pratt into defence. While Ballard and ball magnet Rachelle Martin can be huge influences for their team, the likes of Cavouras, Hannah Munyard, Elyse Haussen and Nicole Campbell form a dominant midfield brigade, and one of the few that can go toe-for-toe with Norwood’s star-studded line-up. For the likes of Charlton, Munyard and McKinnon, they will have the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships coming up over the next couple of months and will be keen to continue their great form, while from a team perspective, will be excited to tackle the imminent finals series. The Bloods know a loss will more than likely mean the end of their season after sitting in the top four for the entire season, which would leave a bitter taste in their mouths. Melanie Elsegood and Emma Smith will be the ones needing to pile scores on the board for the Bloods, while Maddie Newman and Lauren Rodato will hope to provide good rebound out of defence. Helen Maidment and Rebecca Owen can add to the movement in transition on the outside, but face a stiff opposition this weekend. South Adelaide are the team to beat at the moment having slayed the top side last round, but West Adelaide must be respected as they have done enough thus far to put themselves in a position to contend for finals.

GLENELG vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday May 4, 5.15pm
ACH Group Stadium

The final game of the round is another match with huge consequences for one side, as Glenelg battles to snatch fourth spot. The Tigers need to win against the winless Eagles, who are unable to move off the bottom of the table, but could end their season on a high with their inaugural victory. The biggest problem the Eagles will have in achieving this feat comes in Adelaide Crows star, Ebony Marinoff who simply dominated last week, picking up the most disposals of any player this season, in her debut. She is a class above and will be one that has to be watched and restricted if the Eagles are to be any chance in this match. These two teams first met in Round 1 with Glenelg coming off a wooden spoon but victory in Round 1, and Woodville-West Torrens playing its first match in the competition. Despite hitting the front late in the first quarter courtesy of a Kiana Lee goal, the Eagles were no match for the Tigers as Glenelg piled on six of the last seven goals of the match to record a comfortable 35-point victory. The versatile Lucy Bellinger had 23 disposals, 10 marks (two contested), four inside 50s, five tackles and two goals, while Ellen Fauser and Samantha Franson both booted a goal from 15 disposals. For the Eagles, Jaimi Tabb had a strong performance through the midfield with 17 disposals, five clearances and five inside 50s, while Georgia Taylor played her best game of the season, rebounding the ball nine times while clocking up 17 disposals in the loss. Looking to the final game of the season on Saturday, Hannah Crump and Tamsyn Morriss have been brought in as some extra firepower for the Tigers, with no confirmed outs as of yet. For the Eagles, Rachel Dunstan returns to the side on an extended bench, with Courtney Plowman and Eboni Tiller also named there, while Jo Baltais has slotted into the ruck to allow Taylor McKay to play forward and provide some much needed height inside 50. When looking at the sides on paper, it is hard to look past the influence Marinoff will have, and the importance for the Eagles to send a player to watch her all game. It will not be easy, but if the likes of Natalie Subelli and Natasha Farrier can continue their good form, then it opens up possibilities for the underdogs. Lee is a future star and will find the ball wherever it foes inside 50, while Taylor has been playing forward of late and could be an X-factor in there, as could Tabb who will provide fresh legs off the bench and run all day while finding the pill. Tesharna Maher and Stephanie Walker are the defenders Woodville-West Torrens needs to provide the movement out of the back half, while still minding the likes of Bellinger and Lucy Armitage who can be dangerous forwards. Tess Morcom and Franson are consistent key defenders, while Gould can rotate through the ruck or defence, and Madisyn Freeman has the run to help the Tigers out of trouble. Glenelg would be the overwhelming favourites in this game given their position, the Eagles’ position and the finals predicament that the home side faces, not to mention the star quality they have with Marinoff in the team. The Eagles need to play at their best to secure their first win, but with so much on the line for Glenelg, it is hard to see them slipping up in this contest.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 9

THE PENULTIMATE round of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season is here, with finals spots up for grabs as five teams fight for four spots, and wins for West Adelaide and Glenelg in particular become of the upmost importance.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Friday, April 19, 4.15pm
Prospect Oval

The Roosters have been in ripping form of late and after a slow start to the year which saw North Adelaide start 1-3, last year’s minor premiers have strung four games on the trot to not only all but guarantee a finals spot, but keep the heat on second placed South Adelaide who are just one win ahead. For Central District, their finals dream was doused last week, but there is still plenty of pride in performance on the line as the Bulldogs look to leapforg Sturt into sixth place if they can muster an unlikely away win. North have brought back Melbourne AFL Women’s player Ashleigh Woodland who has returned to the half-back flank alongside Amber Ward and the duo will no doubt make it hard for the Bulldogs to score. The Roosters have lost Paige Allen to a hamstring, while winger Erica Greet also comes into the side among three changes. The Bulldogs have named an extended bench which includes Taryn Wills and Shannen Solly who return to the side, while the Bulldogs were forced to make a change with their half-back general, Gemma Doughty out of the team with a knee injury. The Bulldogs will look to Katelyn Rosenzweig up forward, while Chantelle Reynolds and Abbey Scheer are among the consistent performers thus far, while sisters, Jayme-Lee Sonneman and Demi Sonneman have been crucial cogs since coming into the club this season. For North, they have the dominant Kelly Barltrop who leads all-comers in the goalkicking and beside her is Brittany Perry and Cristie Castle who are potent in attack, while Nadia Von Bertouch has enjoyed her time at half-forward leading the troops, with Jane Altschwager dominant in the ruck and Leah Tynan consistent in midfield. With a strong line-up across the park, North should get the job done here, while Central will miss Doughty who has been an important player in their side.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Friday, April 19, 5.15pm
City Mazda Stadium

West Adelaide hold the coveted fourth spot in the SANFL Women’s competition with Glenelg biting at the Bloods’ heels to sneak into the final four. The Bloods face the winless Woodville-West Torrens Eagles in this clash and will be keen to take the points and set up a huge final round. Youngster Jaimi Tabb has returned for the Eagles to join Kiana Lee in the forward line with the midfielder Tabb looking to add extra firepower up front. Jess Wilson also comes into the forward line amongst at least four changes for the underdog, with Annastasia Falkenberg forced out of the team due to a finger injury. The Eagles have some good developing talent in the team, but have not been able to sustain their intensity for four quarters, with blow-outs often not reflective of the effort, more lapses in play. Natalie Subelli and Natasha Farrier will hope to win the midfield battle, while Stephanie Walker and Tesharna Maher will hope to provide some good movement out of defence. Chelsea Biddell and Melanie Elsegood are a dominant key forward duo, and the likes of Ashlee Reid and Colbie Frankland could have their work cut out for them. For West Adelaide, Kasia Culhane will miss after a great 18-disposal, five-clearance game last week; she has succumbed to a shoulder injury. The big return – both literally and metaphorically – for the the home side is Leah Swain who will be an important presence in the ruck. She, along with Alexandra Mason in the forward pocket, join five potential inclusions on an extended interchange bench. Maddie Newman is the one to watch in defence, sure to rebound time and time again, while through the midfield, Rachelle Martin and Abbie Ballard lead an underrated group who can match it with most sides. West Adelaide have much more to play for and should grab the points in this one, although the Eagle could enjoy spoiling the finals party for their opponents.

GLENELG vs. STURT
Friday, April 19, 7.15pm
ACH Group Stadium

The inclusion of the round, and arguably the season by far is that of Ebony Marinoff, the Adelaide Crows’ star onballer who slots into the Glenelg midfield for her first local game in a few years. Marinoff supported the Tigers growing up and now will run out for Glenelg at home as they try and keep in touch with West Adelaide in the penultimate round. She is joined by ruck, Rhiley Ritchie and Hannah Crump in the side, while Sturt have opted for an unchanged line-up for this game. Sturt’s season unofficially came to an end last week when its hopes for finals were dashed. A win here and the Double Blues can dash those of Glenelg fans too. It will be more than a tough ask for the visitors, with Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Caitlyn Swanson a strong trio onball, but coming up against Marinoff will make the Tigers hard to combat. Throw in the likes of Ellen Fauser and Charlotte Dawe and the Tigers are still solid through midfield. Glenelg is one of the teams which does not have a particular strength, rather relying on efforts across the ground with Tess Morcom and Samantha Franson making a consistent key defensive duo, Lucy Bellinger providing the firepower up forward, and Madisyn Freeman and crucial key position player, Caitlin Gould also have great seasons. All eyes will be on Marinoff given the midfielder had the most touches at AFL Women’s level in a game this season, so seeing what she could do at state level will be reminiscent of the time Nathan Buckley suited up for Williamstown and packed out the stadium – hopefully we see the same at ACH Group Stadium. The Double Blues have a strong midfield, while Alex Ballard has been a talent in defence, and Georgia Swan and Nicole Baker good in the forward half. If they can win the midfield battle while controlling Marinoff, the Double Blues are a solid chance, but like West Adelaide in the previous game, Glenelg have a lot more at stake and should grab the points.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, April 20, 1pm
Flinders University Stadium

The final game of the round and standalone match is that of the top two sides going head-to-head in what could be a Grand Final preview. Last year’s premiers host last year’s grand finalists in what is shaping up to be a sensational clash. Both teams have taken different approaches to their team selection, with South Adelaide making at least seven changes compared to Norwood’s one confirmed change. Both have crucial players returning, with ball-winner and Adelaide Crows midfielder, Nikki Gore coming into the Panthers line-up alongside Mykala Walker-Murphy who booted a bag of four goals earlier in the season. Also returning to the Panthers are defenders Emily Brockhurst and Tiffany Copley, while Rhiannon Busch comes into the fold for Norwood, as does recently departed Crow, Sally Riley. The Panthers will be smiting at their second defeat of the season last weekend when they went down to Glenelg having defeated them a week earlier, while the Redlegs are yet to taste defeat and will look to secure top spot with a victory here. Norwood won the clash between the powerhouses in Round 1, and have had such a settled team throughout the season. Their midfield is the best in the competition, and the inclusion of Riley allows Ellen Maple Medallist Najwa Allen to play forward which is a fantastic luxury to have. Add in Matilda Zander and Hannah Priest in attack, and the defensive rebound duo of Sophie Armitstead and Monique Hollick in defence, and the Redlegs are covered at both ends. Leah Cutting provides first use to her midfielders including Busch and Hannah Dunn, but she will have to contend with the athletic, Montana McKinnon who is a terrific emerging talent. Their young and talented midfield at South Adelaide include Hannah Munyard and Teah Charlton who get forward and apply scoreboard pressure, while Czenya Cavouras, Elyse Haussen and Nicole Campbell make the Panthers have the best depth of anyone in the competition. Basically, the best top-end midfield going against the deepest midfield makes for a fascinating contest. Norwood deservedly go in as favourites for this game, while South Adelaide would have geared itself up for this match as both sides look to go deep in finals. With North Adelaide breathing down the Panthers’ necks, South will hope to get the job done and secure second spot.