Tag: isobel kuiper

2021 SANFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Grand Final rematch opens season

AFTER a shorter-than-usual wait for the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition to restart due to the delayed 2020 season, the eight sides are ready to go in 2021 starting tonight.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

What better way is there to open a new SANFL Women’s season than with a grand final rematch? The opening game of the double-header at Coopers Stadium sees North Adelaide take on South Adelaide in a massive clash. The Roosters will be able to unfurl the flag against the Panthers, which should give both teams plenty of motivation. It is worth noting that they will be without a number of AFL Women’s talents which means others will have the chance to step up in their place.

Full-forward Kelly Barltrop will be hungry for success after being unlucky to miss out on last year’s flag, while Kristi Harvey has been named at centre half-forward. With league best and fairest winner Anne Hatchard and leading goalkicker Ashleigh Woodland both playing for the Crows in the AFL Women’s the Roosters will need to look for others to play a role. Jaimi Tabb has crossed from the Eagles to Roosters, while Glenelg ruck revelation Soriah Moon will now pull on the Panthers’ jumper. Providing a formidable tag-team with Montana McKinnon, South should get first hands to it, and with a midfield containing the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Nicole Campbell, they will be hard to beat.

Gypsy Schirmer is the young gun to watch from the Panthers with the half-forward an excitement machine, whilst the same can be said for reigning Rising Star Hannah Ewings who will have added responsibility this season. Throw in Leah Tynan and Lauren Daniel through the onball, and the likes of Cristie Castle and Brianna Arthur able to rotate between midfield and forward, and the Roosters have plenty of options. It will be great to see full-back Sarah Wright return for the Panthers, with both her and Lauren Clifton providing some great stability in the defence.

This match is hard to predict, with either team capable of getting up, and both have a great history of just getting the job done. Just for the home fans the edge might go to North, but there is something about the South lineup that looks ready to strike.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Friday, February 26 @ 8.15pm
Coopers Stadium

The second match of the double-header is predicted to be just as good, with reigning preliminary finalists West Adelaide locking horns with the side they dispelled in the elimination final, Norwood. West Adelaide have a huge opportunity to make the next step up, with such a large contingent of state league players remaining at the club, and then bringing in some serious talent such as key defender Sharnie Whiting from Carlton.

The youth of West Adelaide cannot be stated enough, with Zoe Venning a standout in terms of this year, and then over the next two years, the Bloods have Keeley Kustermann and then Lauren Young respectively who both loom as great talents. Venning will start off half-forward and look to push into the midfield, while Kustermann will form a new partnership with South Adelaide’s Natalie Gibbs off half-back with Madison Newman likely to have Crows AFL Women’s duties this season. The 15-year-old Young has been thrown into the deep end to start in the midfield, potentially on the experienced Sophie Armitstead.

Norwood have an array of young talent themselves, with Alana Lishmund named on a wing, and Jade Halfpenny surprisingly named in defence after making her name as a leading forward predominantly last season. Tesharna Maher is a new name in the Norwood line-up, having crossed from Eagles over the break. Melanie Elsegood is a player to stop for West, with the Norwood defence looking strong, as Isabel Martin has been named back there, while the likes of Jess Macolino will come off the bench to have an impact.

West Adelaide could well be the team to beat this season, and therefore should be favourites in this game, but Norwood has some exciting young talents as well to watch out for, in what should be an entertaining game.

STURT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 27 @ 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Fast forward to Saturday and two sides looking to make a strong start to the season after missing finals do battle in Sturt and Glenelg. The Double Blues were actually strong defensively last season, but they just struggled to score at times, whilst the Bays were ultra-impressive in some games, and then just not themselves in others, so will be eyeing off some consistency in 2021. It will be a big game for Caitlyn Swanson who has cross from the Double Blues to the Bays this season and will come off the bench in Round 1.

Glenelg has some some developing talents to watch out for, with top-ager Brooke Tonon alongside over-ager Madisyn Freeman at half-forward. They will be looking to create some run and carry going inside 50, with the likes of Tamsyn Morriss and Sam Franson transitioning from the wings. Looking strong as outside movers, Tessa Kohn has been slotted in at half-back after being predominantly an inside midfielder last season, while Lucy Armitage will never take a backwards step and is also in defence. Without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones the Bays will need other midfielders to step up, but they have the depth there.

The Double Blues have some of the best young talent running around, and the depth through the key position options is showing, with Zoe Prowse now running around as a midfielder instead of ruck. The 180cm talent has the athleticism to beat much smaller opponents, and she will provide a point of difference at ground level. Alex Ballard looks set for a move into the midfield, while other over-agers such as Hannah Prenzler (half-back) and Isobel Kuiper (half-forward) will be better for another season. Add in top-ager Georgia Swan at centre half-forward, and the inclusion of Eagles’ Chloe Forby, and the Double Blues are starting to build some firepower.

It will be another tough match to pick, and without Georgia Bevan – having been picked up late to Gold Coast Suns – more will fall to the likes of Maya Rigter for Sturt, but they have the young talent to get it done. One cannot discount Glenelg though, as they have some great outside movers.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, February 27 @ 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

The final match of the round takes place with Central District hosting Woodville-West Torrens in a battle of the league’s two newest clubs. Though now into their third seasons, both the Bulldogs and Eagles are becoming well established, and if 2020 is anything to go off, they should be more competitive again. Without a heap of AFL Women’s talent last season, both these sides are well adapted to being without that top level experience, which puts them in good stead to have plenty of developing young guns coming through the programs.

The Bulldogs were one of the more exciting teams in 2020 even if their results may not have shown it. They were willing to run the ball forward, and with the need for speed, were taking it up to sides. Latiah Huynh is a perfect example of the way the Dogs play – with speed and tenacity, as well as confidence – and teaming up with fellow youngster Lauren Breguet in the forward half, Central District will look to share the load outside of notable goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig. Eagles’ key position utility Kiana Lee has been named at full-back with Anastasia Falkenberg another reliable talent in defence, as is Jamie Parish.

The midfield battle will be just as intriguing with new captain and reigning best and fairest winner Shelby Smith leading the Bulldogs onball, and the likes of Caitlen Teague and Lauren Smith in there. A couple of experienced recruits in Paige Allan and Nicole Mark among those inclusions into the Bulldogs’ line-up, while Madison Lane is a top-age talent with reliable foot skills from defence, while Demi Sonneman is always one to watch coming out of the back 50. A big inclusion for the Eagles is former South Adelaide raw ruck/forward prospect Brooklyn Kraft who will make her debut amongst a host of new faces coming out of the local leagues, while Kiley Green has made the move from the ACT and been named at centre-half back. Charlotte Dolan and Jovanka Zecevic are others to keep an eye on in the match for the Eagles.

Central District has beefed up its side in 2021, with more experience to settle the youth down and the Dogs could start favourite in this one, though the Eagles are always tough to score against.

Picture credit: SANFL

Finals on the agenda for Sturt in 2021

WHILE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s has been a fantastic initiative for all eight SANFL clubs to be involved in, some sides have had more on-field success than others so far. In Sturt’s three years playing in the SANFL Women’s League, they are yet to make a finals appearance. Changing this record is high on the agenda of Sturt’s senior women’s coach Bruce Dawes in 2021, particularly following their capitulation after returning from the COVID-19 break last season.

“Pre-COVID, we were actually pretty happy with the way we were tracking,” Dawes said. “We were 2-2 at that stage and felt the girls were making pretty good improvements. Having that break really interrupted us. Some girls chose not to come back post-COVID because work and different things changed for them, so after that we certainly didn’t play the football we were hoping to play.”

Sturt did not claim another victory for the 2020 season, concluding the year with two wins, seven losses, one draw and the lowest percentage in the competition, 25.04. This put them in sixth position, just one point ahead of bottom two clubs Woodville-West Torrens and Central District.

“Overall, we were disappointed with the season, no doubt about it,” Dawes said. “You always want to play finals, but I think we’re moving in the right direction now.”

Over the summer period, Dawes has put an emphasis on improving his players’ fitness levels, along with some other key areas of SANFLW football.

“Preseason’s been really good, one thing we felt last year was that we weren’t as fit as we’d like to have been, so there’s certainly been a focus on fitness,” Dawes said. “All of our GPS information is telling us that the girls have been working harder and their intensity is up, so that’s been a real bonus for us. From there, it’s just constant work on developing our skills and our game plan.”

When asked about their game plan, Dawes said he wants to help his players to develop greater football IQ’s and understand match situations when they are out in the heat of battle.

“We do a lot of work on our strategy type of stuff,” he said. “We want to control the footy then get our timing right of when to go fast and when to go slow. That’s what we’re looking at trying to achieve this year.”

As for Sturt’s recruiting strategy this offseason, they have focused on bringing players into the SANFLW system rather than poaching from rival SANFLW clubs.

“We’ve gone to the local clubs,” Dawes said. “We were able to watch a few local games once our season had finished, and from that we were able to attract a few newer girls who are bit older and have played a little bit of football. A couple of girls from Uraidla, Molly Fletcher and Alisha Gepp, who have really added to our group. Another girl Jess Good, who played at Blackwood, is a tall ruckman that’s come into the squad and been excellent for us. Chloe Forby came over from the Eagles, she’s a little goer that plays small forward, she’s added to the group as well.”

At the Under 18 preseason testing day earlier this month, 2020 Club Champion Zoe Prowse revealed that she is planning to play as a midfielder for the Double Blues in 2021. This surprised some given her prowess and expertise as a ruck, but Dawes clarified their reasoning behind the move.

“We just want to try and develop Zoe’s complete game,” he said. “She’s an outstanding athlete. Will she be a ruck at AFL level? She absolutely can be, no doubt, she has the athleticism to do it. But if we can add extra strings to her bow, where she could become a midfielder and then occasionally pinch hit in the ruck, that would really add to her talent as well.”

As for Sturt players that fans should keep an eye on this season, Dawes had several names in mind.

“A crowd favourite is Kate ‘Buba’ Harris– she’s a hard-working half-forward that goes at everything, is intense and just loves the game, the group love her too, she’s outstanding,” Dawes said. “Zoe Prowse, Alex Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler are all in the State program, which is excellent for them. All of those girls have been really good. A couple of left field ones [to keep an eye on]. New ruckman Jess Good is not a household name, but she’ll be very handy for us. Maya Rigter, Isobel Kuiper and girls like that have always been consistent performers for us as well.”

Although a finals berth is firmly on Dawes’ mind, he knows this will be difficult to achieve in 2021 due to the strong competition in SANFLW.

“Our goal is to play finals, no doubt about that,” Dawes said. “We think we were on track last year before the wheels fell off a bit, but we really think the list we’ve got now, the development the girls are putting in, and we’re progressing to a stage where we think we can play finals. Things will have to go right for us to do that, it’s a really tight competition that’s always constantly improving, so hopefully we’re improving a bit more than the other clubs.”

Sturt’s season begins on Saturday morning at X Convenience Oval when they take on Glenelg.

 

Picture credit: SANFL

 

For more SANFL Women’s news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Marinoff overruns Hatchard in impressive display of skills

BOOTING five of the final seven goals of the game, Team Marinoff enjoyed a come-from-behind victory over Team Hatchard in the 2020 South Australian AFL Women’s All-Stars match on Friday night. Under lights at Thebarton Oval, both teams put on a high quality game which featured the top AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls from across the state. Whilst Hatchard flew out of the blocks with three of the first four goals to lead by 14 points at quarter time, the yellow side kicked just six behinds for the rest of the game, as Marinoff piled on 5.1 in that time to run out 6.1 (37) to 3.8 (26) winners.

Whilst the result itself was clearly arbitrary fo the showcase of skills from South Australia’s best non-listed AFL Women’s talents, it did not stop players going in for a real crack across four quarters. In what was an even team performance, some of the standouts from Marinoff included Sturt’s Alex Ballard and North Adelaide’s Kristi Harvey who both controlled the defence. Central District’s Madison Lane worked into the game to being among the best, as was Norwood’s Jess Macolino through the midfield. For Hatchard, Alana Lishmund was a standout and remarkable for her age – having turned 17 last month – while Glenelg’s Grace Duffy, and other middle-age draft talents Zoe Venning and Brooke Tonon were also strong up forward.

The game started all on Hatchard’s terms with the booming kick of Amber Ward setting the yellow side up with an end-to-end play for Tonon to run onto it. About eight minutes later, Marinoff responded with its only goal of the first term through Brooklyn Kraft with the top-age ruck-forward winning a free kick and popping through her first of the night. Not to be outdone, Tonon got clear again after a long kick from Hannah Prenzler, and a 1-2 from Tahlita Buethke and Cristie Castle got it to the teenager to run on and nail the goal. Two minutes later, another talented teenager in Lishmund received the handball from Castle and did not let her down with the quick kick and goal. Whilst Venning had a number of chances in the first term, they kept falling short.

Despite the best efforts of Emma Smith, Marinoff could not get the ball moving deep enough, though the likes of Harvey and Bella Smith were holding up the defence. Tesharna Maher was getting her running game going, whilst Leah Cutting was doing well around the ground outside the stoppages. The experience of Ash Woodland was helping Hatchard, while Matilda Zander and Czenya Cavouras were winning plenty of the ball through midfield. At quarter time, the margin was 14 points in favour of Hatchard.

The second term was a reversal of the first as Marinoff kicked the only two goals of the quarter, and both came late. For the majority of the term, it looked as if Hatchard would remain in front off the back of some great work from Prenzler and Tahlia Meyer, with Isobel Kuiper getting involved through the middle. Alex Ballard remained a thorn in the side for team Marinoff, as she and Bella Smith were vigilant in defence, and the likes of Shelby Smith, Lauren Gauci and Tessa Kohn were all having an impact.

It was Gauci and Kohn who combined to get the ball to Jess Kirk, with the South Adelaide leading goalkicking positioning herself well at the top of the goalsquare to protect the ball drop then kick the regulation set shot 13 and a half minutes into the quarter. Not long after, Shelby Smith did well to stand up in a tackle, and with youngsters Huynh and Laura Clifton combining, gifted the latter a running goal from 40m to draw within two points at the main break.

The third term is often referred to as the premiership quarter, and it was certainly where Marinoff got the job done. They booted three goals – in fact the last three goals of the game – to not only take the lead, but race away to a 15-point advantage themselves. Jorja Eldridge had her moment by keeping front position at the top of the square, and the fend off from Macolino, handball to Huynh who fired it to Kohn for the quick snap landed in Eldridge’s arms. She went back and converted the set shot for Marinoff to hit the front for the first time. They never gave up the lead from there.

Eleven minutes into the quarter and Kraft won a fortunate free kick after trying to take on the tackler, slipped and the tackler fell in her back for a free kick 20m out straight in front. She popped through her second with such fluency, and the red team had some breathing space. When Macolino won a free kick in the last minute and then nailed the set shot from 35m, Marinoff was out to a 15-point advantage and looking incredibly good. It was off the back of Macolino’s stoppage work, and the run of Lane, Gauci and Katelyn Pope who were all influential in the term. For Hatchard, Buethke had really had an impact, while Erin Sundstrom, Duffy and Lishmund were again prominent.

The final term was an arm-wrestle predominantly in Hatchard’s forward half. With a number of injury stoppages and a few casualties from the game, the quarter went into the 23rd minute – six more than the intended no time-on 17-minute terms. Despite Hatchard kicking the only four behinds of the term – and realistically they should have edged a lot closer – Marinoff’s defence, once again led by Ballard and Harvey stood tall. Lane continued her form, working hard with Huynh on a number of occasions as the Central District teammates, along with Kohn were prominent.

For Hatchard, Lishmund finished off a terrific game, with Abbie Ballard, Duffy, Venning and Tonon all amongst the best again in the last term. The last kick of the game was a poster and fitting that Hatchard had got so close to kicking a major in the term, but fell agonisingly short. Overall, the showcase was a success with plenty to take away from the contest.

MARINOFF 1.0 | 3.1 | 6.1 | 6.1 (37)
HATCHARD 3.2 | 3.3 | 3.4 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

Marinoff: B. Kraft 2, J. Kirk, L. Clifton, J. Eldridge, J. Macolino.
Hatchard: B. Tonon 2, A. Lishmund.

ADC BEST:

Marinoff: A. Ballard, J. Macolino, K. Harvey, M. Lane, E. Smith, B. Kraft
Hatchard: A. Lishmund, G. Duffy, A. Ward, M. Zander, C. Cavouras Z. Venning

Picture: AFL Media

South Australian AFLW All-Stars to battle it out in blockbuster clash of talent

SOUTH Australia’s best young talents will have a chance to strut their stuff via the SANFL site tonight when 48 of the top talents from the state run around in an AFL Women’s All-Stars match. The teams are named after Adelaide stars, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff, with no AFL Women’s players, and those in their 16th year or younger playing in an under 16s showcase prior to this game.

For those Adelaide fans keen to get a glimpse as some of the players who received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, unfortunately two of the brightest stars will no be out there. Teah Charlton will miss the game due to injury, while Indy Tahau is unavailable due to other commitments. The others two players who received Draft Combine invitations – Amber Ward and Ashleigh Woodland will both front up for Team Hatchard, coached by North Adelaide premiership coach, Krissie Steen. We take a look at our potential line-ups, though it is anticipated players will be heavily rotated all across the field.

TEAM HATCHARD:

B: Rhiannon Busch – Erin Sundstrom – Julia Clark
HB: Charlotte Dolan – Amber Ward – Madisyn Freeman
C: Matilda Zander – Isobel Kuiper – Tahlia Meyer
HF: Tamsyn Morriss – Ashleigh Woodland – Hannah Prenzler
F: Cristie Castle – Katelyn Rosenzweig – Tahlita Buethke
R: Zoe Prowse – Czenya Cavouras – Abbie Ballard
INT: Alana Lishmund – Brooke Tonon – Jamie Parish – Rayne Rivalland – Zoe Venning – Grace Duffy

With players being so versatile, it is hard to pinpoint a number of players and where they will slot in. For the purpose of our hypothetical 24, any middle-agers (2003-born or later) are automatically on the bench, giving preference to those who are eligible to be picked up this year. The exception to the rule is Zoe Prowse who is the standout ruck not only on the team, but on the field as a whole. She is still only 17, but stands at 180cm and is the obvious choice to be starting ruck.

Ward is a reliable centre half-back with terrific intercepting capabilities. She was one of the more unlucky players not to be picked up in her draft year last year, but she is strong, positions herself well and is extremely good by foot. At the other end, Woodland has already tasted AFL Women’s experience with Melbourne, and, while it did not work out, it is no surprise to see the now 22-year-old as of Wednesday, being considered after winning the competition’s leading goalkicker award.

Another former AFL Women’s player in Katelyn Rosenzweig will play at full-forward, and the forward half as a whole is something to watch, with Tamsyn Morriss and Hannah Prenzler all able to play further up the ground. Prenzler and Morriss are both top-agers who can switch to the opposite end if need be, with Prenzler’s work off half-back and Morriss’ kicking among their eye-catching traits. Abbie Ballard onball is the other top-ager to keep an eye on with her hardness and precision left foot winning plaudits.

Charlotte Dolan running off half-back and along the wing provides great speed and determination to any side, while Julia Clark has become a reliable defender who uses the ball well and makes the right decisions. Tahlita Buethke is another top-age player who cracked into the strong South Adelaide team this year and would have been one to watch – as a dominant goalkicker at local level – at the championships had they occurred.

In terms of mature-agers, Erin Sundstrom often plays off half-back but due to her height – 174cm – she is one of the few likely to play in a key position role. Given her work with Ward back there in the SANFL Womens and with Steen coaching, the pair will make a strong duo. Matilda Zander is a small, tough midfielder who attacks the contest hard and runs all day. She was in line to play for Collingwood in the VFL, and with her former coach Steve Symonds at the helm for the Magpies, expect him to be watching this game carefully.

Some others who have caught the eye this season include Crows’ train-on player Czenya Cavouras who racks up the ball and is hard around the contest, over-ager Isobel Kuiper who will provide good height in midfield, and then the run of another over-ager in Madisyn Freeman. Tahlia Meyer‘s decision making through midfield going forward is superb, winning the preliminary final off her own boot such was her skill. Cristie Castle is a reliable mark and source of goals up front, with Rhiannon Busch as steady as they come down back – though she has the versatility to play at either end – much like Grace Duffy.

Of the 2003 group outside of Prowse, Venning is the top one to watch, regularly dominating through the midfield and half-forward, using her speed and strength to cause headaches for the opposition. Alana Lishmund will provide some rotation up forward, with Brooke Tonon also spending time there, and Jamie Parish showing great signs in the second half of the season for the Eagles. Rayne Rivalland rounds out the prospects as the youngest player on the team – not turning 17 until late November – which shows the depth of talent within South Australia.

TEAM MARINOFF:

B: Tesharna Maher – Kristi Harvey – Teagan Usher
HB: Lauren Gauci – Bella Smith – Tessa Kohn
C: Katelyn Pope – Shelby Smith – Emma Smith
HF: Laitiah Huynh – Kiana Lee – Alex Ballard
F: Jess Kirk – Brooklyn Kraft – Jade Halfpenny
R: Leah Cutting – Nicole Campbell – Jess Macolino
INT: Andie Zbierski – Jorja Eldridge – Kate Case – Lauren Clifton – Madison Lane – Gypsy Schirmer

Turning our attention to Team Marinoff, coached by former international cricketer and North Adelaide footballer Emma Sampson, there are plenty of strong marking key position players in the line-up. Like with Team Hatchard, the 2003-born players automatically got named on the bench as they still have another year to show off their remarkable talents. While none of the players in this team got a Draft Combine invitation, there are some that have certainly showcased their ability at past AFL Women’s Under-18 National Championships.

At either end are the contested marking Bella Smith and Kiana Lee, with ruck Brooklyn Kraft likely to spend time forward given Leah Cutting – Norwood’s star ruck – has been named in the team. Kraft provides extra height to the team at 182cm and will stretch the smaller Hatchard backline. Also coming off championships last year, Alex Ballard often plays at half-forward but can play just about anywhere, the same can be said for Emma Smith who we have named on the wing. Teagan Usher and Tesharna Maher are great runners out of defence, and Maher particularly has got a set of wheels that make her hard to catch.

Of the top-agers, Latiah Huynh is a raw prospect with terrific speed, great defensive pressure and a strong hardness at the contest. She can rotate between half-forward and wing, and often be the link in the transition between midfield and forward. Also in their top-age year is Jade Halfpenny who can play in all thirds of the ground, but given she can take a grab and knows where the goals are, she has been named forward. Jorja Eldridge and Andie Zbierski are the other top-agers named, with Eldridge coming from a basketball background but did not manage to crack into the strong North Adelaide senior outfit, while Zbierski has played predominantly country footy and not playing this year in the SANFL Women’s but did play four games last year.

From the mature-age perspective, Kristi Harvey lines up at her usual full-back spot and she has plenty of experience having played for Carlton’s VFL Women’s side as well as the successful North Adelaide line-up. Another strong contested mark and rebounder, Harvey will be hard to pass in the defensive end. Also back there is Lauren Gauci who will team up well with Roosters teammate Harvey, providing good dash out of defence, while Tessa Kohn is a natural inside midfielder, but has been trialed elsewhere including in defence, and expect her to get a bit of a taste everywhere. On the wing, Katelyn Pope is one of the quickest going around and the Roosters’ speedster will be hard to catch where she gets going.

A couple of the big improvers in 2020, Norwood’s Jess Macolino returned for her second season, and Shelby Smith made her debut and was one of Central District’s most consistent players all year. They will not take a backwards step and match the Hatchard midfield in hardness for the ball. Up forward, Jess Kirk had led the goalkicking up until injury cost her, but she is good overhead and usually a reliable set shot.

Of the middle-agers on the bench, Gypsy Schirmer provided some nice highlights as an athletic tall up forward for the Panthers this year, while Madison Lane continued her good work after captaining South Australia’s Under 16s side last year, and been a strong contributor for the Bulldogs. Lauren Clifton can provide some depth anywhere on the field, playing defence, forward or even on a wing, while Kate Case is another midfielder who could be one to watch in 2020 after some strong performances through midfield.

Along with Charlton and Tahau, others who would have earned spots but were either injured on unavailable for the clash include: inside midfielders, dual league best and fairest winner Rachelle Martin and talented teenager Maya Rigter; the versatile Jaimi Tabb and athletic utility Mattea Breed.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s season review: Sturt

STURT is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and who their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 6th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Draws: 1

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

Sturt made the decision not to include any AFL Women’s players in the second half of the season, instead focusing on the youth they had. It was a great result for the players going forward, as while they struggled, were able to still draw with Norwood and avoid the bottom two, whilst showing good improvement at times on a week-to-week basis. The Double Blues just struggled to score and that was ultimately the problem in the end, but they performed admirably all season.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Alex Ballard

A 17-year-old who is experienced at the level over the past three seasons progressing through the South Australian pathway, Ballard is a good ball user who can play multiple roles on the field. She does not win a heap of the ball, but can impact the scoreboard and provide defensive pressure often at half-forward or further up the ground.

Izzy Kuiper

A top-age midfielder who has the ability to play as that taller body around the stoppages, Kuiper took a step up in the 2020 season, providing great consistency throughout the year. She loves a tackle and can win her own ball at the coalface, whilst working hard across the ground to win touches in all thirds of the field.

Hannah Prenzler

Looked ultra-impressive off half-back early in the year and then was trialled up forward and presented well, Prenzler has the versatility to play in multiple positions. She used the ball well and provided good drive off half-back, also being confident in one-on-one situations.

Zoe Prowse

The top South Australian draft prospect for 2021, Prowse is an incredibly gifted athlete and one who when she can use her natural attributes, dominate around the stoppages. Prowse has a high vertical leap, and quick reactions to apply great second efforts with tackles, or just clear the ball herself from the ruck. Prowse can play forward if required, but was the clear standout player all year for the Double Blues, and is still a year off being drafted.

Maya Rigter

Unfortunately the co-captain was unavailable due to injury to play the All-Stars match, but she was among those who were initially nominated. At 19-years-old, Rigter led by example and had another terrific season for the Double Blues, often cracking in and winning the ball in contested situations, or playing defensive roles on opposition midfielders.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Georgia Bevan
  • Alysha Healy
  • Elsie Dawes
  • Georgia Swan
  • Jo-Anna Baltais

Aside from the ones making the All-Star game, former AFL Women’s player Georgia Bevan was the clear standout a the co-captain with Rigter. She always put in a four quarter performance and never let the side down with her effort. In defence, Alysha Healy and Jo-Anna Baltais settled the team when opposition sides were pressing, while Elsie Dawes provided the touch of class from half-back to the wing. Georgia Swan was a good target at half-forward, and at 16-years-old, is one who will be a player to watch for years to come.

Summary

Sturt might have struggled offensively throughout the season as the league’s lowest scoring side, but they held opposition teams to low scores themselves more often than not in a really strong defensive effort. The youth coming through the Double Blues program is evident to see and decision to play youth at senior level will pay dividends sooner rather than later.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s Round 10 review: Eagles avoid spoon as Norwood heads into finals with big win

WOODVILLE-West Torrens Eagles have avoided the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s wooden spoon after a last-round win against Sturt helped them leap into seventh on the table. Three of the top four sides all had wins heading into the post-season series, with South Adelaide accounting for its western rivals, while both North Adelaide and Norwood accumulated big victories.

WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.4 | 1.4 | 1.6 (12)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

West: R. Killian.
South: T. Charlton, C. Hammond, I. Tahau, G. Schirmer.

ADC BEST:

West: H. Maidment, A. Ballard, Z. Venning, S. Thompson, C. Biddell
South: J. Smith, N. Campbell, T. Meyer, L. Buchanan, S. Pratt

In what has become a typical South Adelaide performance, the reigning premiers played a consistent four-quarter effort to defeat third placed West Adelaide in what could be a finals clash at some point over the next few weeks. The Panthers capitalised with the breeze, slotting two goals in both the first and third quarters, and denying the Bloods a major when West Adelaide had the breeze. In what was a really strong defensive performance, South Adelaide kept its opponent to just six behinds after conceding what would be the only Bloods goal, in the opening minute of the match.

West Adelaide was quick out of the blocks to try and turn its poor form from last week around as Rachael Killian kicked the first major of the game after just 40 seconds. It came about after a couple of good touches from Stevie-Lee Thompson out of the middle and Abbie Ballard at half-forward. Unfortunately for the Bloods, that was where the first term dominance stopped.

South relentlessly attacked for the most part of the remainder of the term, adding a couple of goals in the opening term. After a couple of chances, including an Indy Tahau set shot, and a Hannah Munyard snap, it was Tahlia Meyer who set up an attacking play through an intercept mark on the wing that got things happening. The quick ball movement for the Panthers ended up in the hands of young gun Teah Charlton who easily converted from 30m out straight in front to put her team in front.

Four minutes later, Munyard was involved by marking uncontested inside 50, then waited for the running Cheyenne Hammond to cross her path to give her off the handball and she slotted the goal on the move. Down by nine points and the momentum with South, West began to attack more down the ground, with Zoe Venning and Keeley Kustermann pushing up and causing headaches for the opposition. Charlie Scutchings had a quick snap but it missed to the right.

The second term the Westies had a bit more of a breeze advantage and took complete control of the term, but neither side could really capitalise in front of goal. Kasia Culhane had the best opportunity 20m out straight in front off a free kick but she shanked it and the ball was knocked through for a behind in the square. By half-time the Panthers held onto a straight-kick lead, 2.4 to 1.4. Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan had been superb in defence, Nicole Campbell was busy through the midfield and Charlton always threatening. For the Westies, Abby Hardwick also had a chance to capitalise but was dragged down, while Helen Maidment and Chelsea Biddell were keeping a high line.

South won the game in the third term, taking its chances with the breeze, booting a couple of important goals to create separation and a three-goal lead at the last chance. As much as West tried, they could not have a meaningful deep chance, with the Panthers’ defence up to the task through Buchanan, Lucy Northcott and Samantha Pratt – who laid a terrific tackle on Thompson inside 50.

Instead it was youngster Tahau who launched a ripping bomb from 50m after a lookaway handball over the top from a teammate and her shot bounced home with some help from Charlton in the goalsquare. Five minutes later, Gypsy Schirmer created something out of nothing with a snap on the outside of the boot to break up what had a been a bit of an arm-wrestle. The term was highlighted by Montana McKinnon‘s return and starting to get into it with a couple of crucial intercept marks, whilst Thompson was desperately trying to create something for the losing side with her speed but could not quite finish it off.

The last term mirrored the second with neither team able to score despite the Bloods having the bulk of the forward half possession. Thompson won a free kick from 50m out and kicked towards a one-on-one in the square, but cleared the packed and went out. Brianna Wedding and Pratt racked up some important touches, while the likes of Smith and Buchanan continued to work hard.

Schirmer had a chance of her own for the Panthers but just fell short and while Maidment led a really strong defensive unit, it would be South’s work with the breeze that proved the difference, as West booted six straight behind since the goal in the opening minute, and South booted all four remaining majors for the match. Munyard, Campbell and Charlton were all superb in the front half, while the collective of the back six was equally impressive.

 

NORWOOD 4.0 | 6.4 | 9.8 | 9.9 (63)
GLENELG 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.1 (7)

GOALS:

Norwood: K. Fenton 3, M. Zander, N. Allen, J. Davies, L. Bigg, S. Armistead, M. Breed.
Glenelg: C. Gould.

ADC BEST:

Norwood: S. Armitstead, N. Allen, M. Zander, M. Breed, J. Macolino
Glenelg: D. Varnhagen, L. Armitage, M. Freeman, C. Gould, T. Kohn

Norwood has grabbed third spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder with a dominant 56-point win over Glenelg at Coopers Stadium. The Redlegs knew coming into the match they would face West Adelaide in a do-or-die semi-final, but finished off the way they wanted to with a commanding performance in front of home fans.

Norwood produced a dominant first half at Coopers Stadium where the Redlegs hardly gave Glenelg a chance. Piling on six goals to zero in the opening half and not allowing the Tigers to even register a score, the home team was in fine form. Kate Fenton booted two of those majors, with the zippy Matilda Zander also adding a goal in the opening term with a snap three minutes into the contest. Both Zander and Sophie Armitstead had big opening quarters in the match, while Mattea Breed and Leah Cutting were also controlling play around the ground.

For Glenelg, Lucy Armitage was trying hard, and Madisyn Freeman looking to create some run, but the Redlegs midfield took control against an onball division missing both Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones. Fenton kicked her couple of goals with one coming off a step and then another after some great team play, before Fenton got one in the dying moments for the last kick of the quarter to put her side four goals up at the first change.

The second term belonged to Norwood, controlling the play from the first whistle, and whilst Glenelg had some inside 50s, and even spent some time locked in there early in the term, the Bays could not get on the board. Tessa Kohn and Deni Varnhagen had some nice moments kicking forward, but the work of Zander, Armitstead and Najwa Allen – who by her standards had a quiet first term – had now popped up and was winning a truckload of the ball. It was Allen who broke the goal drought in the first half of the term with an important major, and then Cutting had a great tap down to Jade Davies a couple of minutes later for Norwood to capitalise again.

Sensing the game was slipping away, the Bays tried to steal back some of the momentum, but the defensive efforts of Armitstead and Shai Hiscock – who laid a great tackle in the back 50 – made it hard for the Tigers. Brooke Tonon, Sam Franson and Lauren Kenny had their moments in the term as well, with Tonon having a shot after the siren. Unfortunately for the teenager she was practically in the third row of the grandstand and with the siren blown, she had to keep her line and the banana kick cannoned into the behind post. At half-time, the scores read 6.4 (40) to 0.0 (0).

If the game was not done and dusted by the main break, then Norwood definitely put an exclamation mark on the performance in the third term, with three more goals, two of them coming in the last five minutes of the term. Glenelg started well with an early couple of chances but could only muster up one behind, whilst Norwood absorbed the pressure of the opening five minutes then dominated after that, and Glenelg was on the back foot.

There were a lot of rushed kicks out of the back 50 from the Tigers as they desperately held on, and eventually a quick kick off the line by the Bays was marked by Lindsay Bigg midway through the term and she delivered with her set shot just getting past Soriah Moon on the line. Bigg had a second chance minutes later with a set shot from 25m on a bit of an angle but it started left and never went back. By that point, the Redlegs had booted 1.4, but later goals to Armitstead – off a terrific low dart from Allen – and Breed – who ran into an open goal in the last few minutes – handed the home team a 61-point lead at the break. Cutting had the chance to extend that just before the siren, but her 45m distance fell short and was spoiled away on the siren.

The last term was a real dour affair, with Glenelg actually having the bulk of the play. But much like the opening three terms, the Bays could not capitalise on their chances, with the only major coming in the last two minutes when Caitlin Gould took a strong mark and converted the set shot for Glenelg’s last major of the season. The Bays went down by 56 points, and while they miss out on finals this year, at least finished by outscoring the Redlegs in the final term. Norwood had a number of chances going forward, but only kicked the one behind, not that it mattered in the 9.9 (63) to 1.1 (7) victory.

NORTH ADELAIDE 2.4 | 3.8 | 4.14 | 7.17 (59)
CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 (6)

GOALS:

North: A. Woodland 4, B. Perry 2, C. Taylor.
Central: R. Richardson.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Woodland, K. Harvey, B. Perry, H. Ewings, C. Taylor
Central: M. Lane, D. Sonneman, N. Biagi, L. Huynh, S. Murphy

In rounding out the 2020 season, North Adelaide finished the year with a 10-0 win-loss record thanks to a 53-point win over Central District. Despite the score, the Roosters were not afforded their usual freedom at times with the Bulldogs’ pressure right up there. North Adelaide also missed a lot of chances the Roosters would normally nail, and made it a closer game, but to restrict the top team to four goals in three quarters was regardless a great effort by Central.

With North Adelaide having already secured the minor premiership, the Roosters just had an unbeaten season on the line, whilst Central District was hoping to finish its year on a high after a promising second half to 2020. Whilst North always looked like winning, there were large patches where the Bulldogs matched it with the Roosters, giving Central positives heading into the 2021 season.

A couple of early behinds to North might have been ominous, but the Bulldogs defence, led by Nicola Biagi and Demi Sonneman held up well. Biagi had a couple of really good moments from intercept marks to shepherding her teammates, whilst Sonneman provided the drive off half-back. Kelly Barltrop was looking dangerous one-on-one inside 50, taking a couple of marks but instead giving off to a leading Charlotte Taylor in the 11th minute of the term for the Roosters to break what had been a real struggle in the opening 10 minutes.

They almost had another when Cristie Castle‘s bouncing ball headed towards goal to bounce over the head of the Central defender for Mollie McKendrick to snap at the top of the goalsquare. Unfortunately her snap skewed off the side of the boot for a behind, and then when in an almost identical situation moments later, put it through. Unfortunately for the red and white, the goal would not count as Central was awarded a free kick and ran it out of defence. North would put a second goal on the board however, as Ash Woodland marked 30m out straight in front after finding space and slotted the goal for a 16-point lead.

If one could not see the scoreboard, nor know anything about the competition prior to the match, you would assume these two sides were evenly matched. The Bulldogs were really taking it up to the Roosters, and had it not being for a clumsy late bump on Woodland, Central was poised to avoid conceding a goal to the minor premiers. Unfortunately the free was paid and with loose players forward of the ball, Britt Perry marked straight in front and with the last kick of the goal put through a breakthough major.

The goal was the first after four straight behinds for the Roosters, as Central’s Shelby Smith, Latiah Huynh and Sonneman had been ultra-impressive through the term. If they had not conceded the goal, it would have been the first time since March 14 that North had not kicked a goal in a quarter. But nonetheless, Central had held the usually high-powered scoring machine to just 3.8 in the first half, and whilst they had failed to score themselves, the Bulldogs had their own chances inside 50, but just could not finish off. Heading into half-time, Central would have been confident given their first half play.

The third term was one that could have blown the margin well out of proportion for the Roosters, but a remarkable six straight behinds from the minor premiers only marginally increased the difference between the sides. Yet again the Bulldogs could not score, but had done so well defensively to force misses from their usually-accurate opposition. It was not until an inside 50 and a favourable bounce for the Roosters saw Castle the beneficiary and Madison Lane the unlucky Central defender, as Castle handballed to Woodland to kick her second major of the contest with just two minutes remaining in the term.

The Roosters had a chance for back-to-back goals when Lauren Daniel took on Sonneman at half-forward and kicked to a one-on-one by Lane was up to the task and forced a stoppage. When the siren sounded moments later, North led 4.14 (38) to 0.0 (0) and realistically if the shots had been on target it could have been an ugly scoreline, but it was also credit to the Bulldogs’ defensive pressure to force mistakes.

The flood gates opened a bit more in the final term as the Roosters booted three final quarter goals as they finished the game with a remarkable 24 scoring shots to one. Perry slotted a her second goal four minutes into the quarter which was the quickest start for North in a term thus far. In a relieving effort, Renae Richardson was on the end of a nice end-to-end play from Central as Katelyn Rosenzweig hit up her teammate in the goalsquare and Richardson booted her third goal in two weeks to ensure the Bulldogs went out with a goal on the board.

Woodville-West Torrens came in and kicked a couple of goals to end the term, both on the run with one just strolling into goal, whilst another was a clever snap in the last few minutes. Whilst Woodland’s four-goal haul was superb, and Perry was terrific with her two majors and setting up numerous scoring opportunities, Kristi Harvey was one of the best on with her intercept ability, while Ewings and Daniel were others who stood out. for the Bulldogs, Lane was strong one-on-one, while Sonneman and Biagi were great in the back six, and Huynh and Allan consistent throughout. Zoe Perry was another Bulldogs player who laid a couple of big tackles and showed great signs in the final game of the year. In the end, North Adelaide saluted 7.17 (59) to 1.0 (6)

 

STURT 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
WWT EAGLES 0.3 | 1.8 | 1.8 | 3.13 (31)

GOALS: 

Sturt: H. Prenzler, J. Wittervan.
WWT: C. Forby 2, K. Lee.

ADC BEST:

Sturt: Z. Prowse, H. Prenzler, T. Hough, I. Kuiper, T. Prenzler
WWT: C. Forby, K. Lee, A. Falkenberg, C. Dolan, R. Forth

Woodville-West Torrens has avoided the 2020 SANFL Women’s wooden spoon after a last round victory against Sturt at Peter Motley Oval. It was the Eagles’ second win for both the season and in the club’s history after beating Glenelg back in Round 4 just prior to the break. By winning, the Eagles sentenced Central District to last place by percentage, and showed they are on the improve after a winless 2019 inaugural season.

The match was a scrappy affair and not alway accurate, as the Eagles booted 3.13 (31) to 2.4 (16), taking until the final term to really stamp the authority on the game with a couple of crucial majors in the last 10 minutes guaranteeing them the win. Sturt had led at both quarter time and three quarter time in a seesawing contest, and while the Double Blues managed to have greater accuracy, had far less time in their forward half – albeit from a third term dominance – and therefore were unable to come away with the win.

Sturt started the match in fine form with Hannah Prenzler booting the opening goal just 64 seconds into the match. It would be the only major for the first term as the teams combined for five straight behinds to head into quarter time, 1.2 (8) to 0.3 (3) in favour of the home side. Charlotte Dolan was providing good run early for the eagles, while Jovanka Zecevic, Amie Blanden and Anastasia Falkenberg were all getting their hands on the ball in the opening quarter. Sturt had more than its fair share of opportunities, with one shot hitting the post from a metre out, and then another shot – when Isobel Kuiper and Alex Ballard combined – falling short in the last couple of minutes. Co-captain Georgia Bevan had the last shot of the match but it was off-line for a behind to make it a five-point ball game.

Just two minutes into the second term and Chloe Forby – who had been solid to that point – took a flying shot from outside 50 and somehow there was no one in the goalsquare and it bounced home for a long-range beauty. It handed the Eagles the lead early in the quarter, and they dominated possession, scoring five consecutive behinds to end the first half. Realistically, the Eagles should have been in front by even more than that six behinds, as Forby, Bronwyn Davey and Kiana Lee all had chances to add more majors to the board.

The pressure from Sturt’s defence had to be commended though, with the likes of Taylor Prenzler and JoAnna Baltais settling things down deep in the back 50. Dolan and Forby were among the best Eagles, while Tesharna Maher provided great run off half-back and Zoe Prowse was dominating from the ruck to around the ground.

Unlike the opening half, Sturt took full control of the third term, keeping it in the forward half for the majority of the contest, and holding the Eagles scoreless in the term. It was enough for Jaimee Wittervan‘s goal – a mark and set shot 20m out – to be the turning point and put the Double Blues in front at the final change. Lee was trying hard on the last line, while Jamie Parish was impressing for the Eagles. Prenzler and Prowse continued their good form in the third term for the home team as Sturt as in the box seat, albeit with a narrow two-point lead.

Unfortunately for the home fans, the final term was a reverse of the third one as the Eagles took control from the opening bounce and after a couple of behinds – a rushed one and a set shot from Zecevic – the scores were all tied up. Renee Forth had been a consistent performer throughout the game and continued to apply pressure, as did Falkenberg who forced a miskick in the fifth minute and eventually a turnover. Hannah Prenzler and Tiah Hough were busy through the middle third, but the game finally had another goal when on the counter attack, a kick inside 50 had the Sturt defence outnumbered three to two. The ball hit the deck as two bodies fell, Forby picked up the ball and with the help of a Lee shepherd, booted through another.

Sealing the match four minutes later, Forby was again involved with an intercept handball and kicked deep to the goalsquare where this time the number 18 returned the favour for Lee with a good kick and last year’s club leading goalkicker did not let her down from 15m out. The two-goal term and holding the Double Blues scoreless in the quarter saw the Eagles get up, 3.13 (31) to 2.4 (16).

SANFL Women’s weekend preview: Round 10 – Four teams bid 2020 farewell as final round takes place

FINALS are set in stone for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, and for Glenelg, Sturt, Central District and Woodville-West Torrens, it is the end of the road with the season completed by Saturday evening. For the four other sides, their seasons are very much alive with both finals opponents set in stone, as North Adelaide should host South Adelaide next weekend, whilst depending on results this weekend, West Adelaide and Norwood will jostle for home ground honours in their respective clashes.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, August 1, 9.30am
Hisense Stadium

In the game of the round, two sides that could well face off at some point during the finals series go at it in Round 10 for a blockbuster clash. Both sides welcome back some big guns for their teams, as Abbie Ballard returns for West Adelaide, while Montana McKinnon has been named for her first Panthers game since returning from injury after the long break. South has also take the chance to blood Willunga debutant Kristen Rothwell, who joins a ridiculous amount of talent coming in. Not only is McKinnon a boost to the reigning premiers, but vital midfielder Czenya Cavouras, and reliable young defender Samantha Pratt return from one-week injury issues, while Lucy Northcott is also back in the team after missing for work purposes. Among the outs are Madison Bennett and Brooklyn Kraft with the former being managed ahead of the finals series.

This clash will be a perfect tune up for the sides ahead of finals, and South Adelaide are humming quite nicely at the moment, getting the job done without being dominant, but just controlling play and doing enough to keep the opposition at arms-length. West Adelaide had looked super impressive up until a bit of a stumble last weekend, when they realistically kicked themselves out of the game and did not have their usual time and space that makes the Bloods so damaging. The game will be potentially won and lost in the midfield with Ballard, Rachelle Martin and Zoe Venning going head-to-head with Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, whilst Hannah Munyard proved to be an inspiration down forward last week. Still missing Jess Kirk, the Panthers will need to combat the strength of the West Adelaide forward line which includes Chelsea Biddell, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Kasia Culhane. Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann off half-back will provide some good speed and skill, whilst Pratt and Lisa Whiteley will do the same up the other end.

South Adelaide is the more reliable choice in this match, as you know what the Panthers will produce. West Adelaide could certainly win this clash if the Bloods can play at their best, but cannot afford to play at the same level as last week or the Panthers will be too strong and make the most of their opportunities.

STURT vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Peter Motley Oval

Neither of these sides can push for finals, but the Eagles have a chance to get off the bottom of the table with a win against the Double Blues, whilst Sturt can move up to fifth on the table with victory. Alex Ballard is one of three inclusions for the double Blues, whilst the Eagles have taken the opportunity to blood a debutant in their final game, with SMOSH West Lakes’ Alysha Fitzgerald coming in and slotting into the back pocket while the absence of Stephane Walker who is out with concussion will be missed.

As the two lowest scoring sides, this could be a real arm-wrestle, but also a territory game. Both sides enjoy the defensive aspects with heavy pressure and lots of strong tackles. Zoe Prowse is in ripping form and likely to have another field day through the ruck, whilst the midfield battle between the likes of Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Isobel Kuiper against Renee Forth, Anastasia Falkenberg and Jovanka Zecevic will be a fascinating one. Kiana Lee has been named at full-forward, and no doubt the Sturt defence led by Larissa Schenscher and JoAnna Baltais will make life difficult for here. Tesharna Maher and Charlotte Dolan provide some good speed for the Eagles, whilst the Double Blues have an abundance of youth, which includes the likes of Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler who can all play in multiple positions.

This game is arguably the hardest to tip because both have had big losses to North Adelaide in recent weeks, but Sturt drew with Norwood the week before, so should start favourites. The Eagles are better than a one-win season side, but will need to show it here to double their wins tally in 2020.

 

NORWOOD vs. GLENELG
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Coopers Stadium

In what will likely be the second best game of the round, Norwood hosts Glenelg for a chance at grabbing third spot and returning to Coopers Stadium a week later against the Bloods. With South Adelaide every chance to take the points against West Adelaide, the Redlegs can pounce and grab third and all they need is a win. For Glenelg, the Bays might have missed out on the chance to play for a finals spot this round, but knocking off Norwood in the last round would be satisfying. Norwood has lost a bit of talent up forward with captain Alison Ferrall and Alana Lischmund both out of the side, meaning the Redlegs will need to shuffle the magnets around. Chloe Karamoshos and Cassandra Tsoumbris have been named in the starting side with an extended bench ahead of the clash, whilst the Bays have also named an extended bench, but will still be without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones to close out the season.

Without two of their clever forwards in Ferrall and Lischmund, Norwood will have to think outside the box, and potentially get the midfield group to hit the scoreboard, as Jess Macolino and Matilda Zander can do from time to time. Mattea Breed is a strong contested mark and will likely spend time down there, whilst Najwa Allen can also play deep if required. Another option is throwing either Bella Smith or Leah Cutting into attack to provide some height and strength in the air, while Tessa Hankinson provided some liveliness inside 50 last week. The Glenelg defence does well with its rotations as Deni Varnhagen, Ellie Kellock and Lucy Armitage can all rotate through their from the middle, while Caitlin Gould can play either end, but is more damaging up forward after spending time in the ruck. Tessa Kohn was terrific last week, whilst the young brigade in Sam Franson, Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon were also impressive and provide some exciting moments.

Both teams are missing some quality players, but there is more on the line for Norwood so it makes sense to lean the way of the Redlegs, though Gould is a player who can turn a match. Without their couple of other game-breakers in Jones and Marinoff it will make life a little tougher.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, August 1, 1.15pm
Coopers Stadium

There is no denying this is a huge challenge for Central District. The Bulldogs are a really improved side this season, with the losses a lot more competitive and their best ultra-impressive. Last round they were super, and if they had finished off in front of goal, they would have really pushed the Panthers. In saying that, this North Adelaide side is quite simply a machine at the moment. They have not conceded a goal in eight quarters, and quite frankly destroyed both Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Central District has proven it has more capability to score than both those sides, but they have to get on top in the midfield. They have brought in Nicola Biagi and Nikki Cullen with Ella Mickan and Caitlen Teague out of he side, while the Roosters will be without their star in Anne Hatchard for the final game of the regular season. Never mind that too much because they bring in a former competition leading goalkicker in Kelly Barltrop, as well as their in-from first season ruck, Bek Rasheed to provide greater strength through the middle.

There are many reasons why North can win this game, but the greater analysis is what can Central do to try and cause the biggest upset of the season? The Bulldogs must win the midfield battle and be unpredictable going forward. Shelby Smith, Alicia Butler and Sarah Allan have a great mix of different attributes through the middle from their toughness, speed and penetrating kick that can hurt opposition onball groups in many ways. Without Hatchard in the middle, it takes away the player you know is going to rack up 30-40 touches which is already a plus. But the speed of Hannah Ewings, the class of Ash Woodland and the tenacity of Leah Tynan, before you even get to the wingers in Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet who can both roll forward, the Roosters have depth like no other side. The forward line is so damaging you can try and stop one player and another will pop up. No one has been able to stop the Roosters all season. But while offensively North is a super side, the Roosters also have an unbelievable defence. Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey are rocks back there, which will be why Central has to be smart using the ball forward. Talia Radan and Lauren Gauci add some extra strength to the defensive back six, which is why any opposition to North Adelaide has to be efficient.

North Adelaide is just too big, too strong and too good, but despite this being a top against second bottom clash, this actually could be exciting. Central District is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and go all-out, and realistically, that is what you have to do against the Roosters. Given the Roosters have nothing to lose other than a perfect regular season, the Bulldogs could really pounce. In saying that, North has not even come close to looking vulnerable in the past few weeks and should win comfortably. However you can guarantee the game will be close than the past couple of weeks because this Bulldogs side is one to watch next season.

SANFL Women’s Round 9 preview: Fourth spot up for grabs

A WEEK ago it looked like the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s finals series might be decided a fortnight out from it occurring, but after a stunning effort from Sturt to draw with Norwood, fourth spot is very much up for grabs. The top three sides – North Adelaide, South Adelaide and West Adelaide are locked into finals, the latter for the first time in the club’s history. Fourth spot will be one of Norwood, Sturt or Glenelg, with the Redlegs needing to win just one of their two remaining games.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 25, 12.00pm
Thebarton Oval

Central District takes on South Adelaide in the opening game of the weekend and the first in a double-header at Thebarton Oval. The Bulldogs are mathematically in contention for fourth spot as they are two wins and percentage behind the fourth placed Redlegs. But unlike Glenelg who sit a spot above them on the same amount of wins, a couple of heavy losses prior to the break hurt the Bulldogs’ percentage and they would need to win by record margins in the final two rounds. Adding to the dilemma is the fact they play the top two teams, starting with reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide.

The Panthers are primed to strike but look destined to occupy second spot on the ladder due to North Adelaide far superior percentage. Unable to catch them unless they have a massive final two weeks and North slip up at least once, then it is near-impossible that South takes the minor premiership. That will not both them though as they won the premiership the last couple of seasons without it. In this clash they have lost a number of crucial players to injury and work commitments with Sam Pratt (calf), Czenya Cavouras (eye) and Jess Kirk (toe) covering each third of the ground, with Kirk being the competition leading goalkicker this year. Lucy Northcott will also miss the match due to work, but Tahlia Meyer returns.

For the Bulldogs, they have made a couple of confirmed changes, with Nicola Biagi out but Chantel Reynolds among four players coming into the side. Last week the Bulldogs looked pretty good in defeat, matching it with West Adelaide in patches, but not quite having enough to do it for four quarters. Katelyn Rosenzweig is firing up and looking dangerous, while Demi Sonneman and Gemma Doughty make a formidable and reliable duo down back. Shelby Smith has been a four quarter performer all season, whilst the likes of Alicia Butler and Latiah Huynh provide the speed, and Sarah Allan the class around the ground.

South Adelaide have no shortage of big names in their side, and whilst the outs will hurt, the Panthers have so much depth across the board they will make do. Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau could be South Australia’s top two prospects this year in the AFL Women’s Draft, while Lisa Whiteley had a sensational game in defence last week. Along with Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan, the Panthers will find a way to cover the loss of Pratt. In midfield, Meyer will slot straight in for Cavouras, with Hannah Munyard, Nicole Campbell and Nikki Gore among the rotations through there. Kirk will be the biggest loss, but no doubt coach Rick Watts will find a way to get the job done.

South Adelaide will head in as strong favourites because the Panthers just find a way. Even with backs against the wall and down, they know how to win. Central will give them a fight, and with the outs the Panthers are a bit more vulnerable than usual, but they should still win in a close one.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Saturday, July 25, 1.40pm
Prospect Oval

All eyes will turn to Prospect Oval as Sturt faces an uphill battle in a must-win clash against the top of the table Roosters. For the Double Blues to play finals, they must win their final two games, and would no doubt be ruing the after-the-siren Redlegs goal last week as otherwise one win would have been enough in the remaining two rounds to at least match on points. The Double Blues’ task is made more difficult by the losses of Alysha Healy and Alex Ballard who miss the clash, with an extended bench added to Sturt’s side as the likes of Shae Daly and young talent Kiera Mueller coming in to add some strength to the defensive back six. North Adelaide have only lost ruck Bek Rasheed to general soreness as Hanni Howe comes in as a like-for-like replacement, and West Coast AFL Women’s defender Talia Radan also returns.

One area Sturt can try and take advantage of is in the ruck given the loss of Rasheed, with terrific middle-age AFL Women’s Draft talent Zoe Prowse among the most in-form players in the competition following back-to-back best-on performances for the Double Blues. The trouble will be trying to contain the Roosters midfield led by Adelaide best and fairest winner, Anne Hatchard, One has to expect someone will go to Hatchard to limit her influence, and it could well be Maya Rigter who went head-to-head with Ebony Marinoff a couple of weeks ago. Hatchard is more athletic though, and still strong which makes her a tough matchup for any opponent. Isobel Kuiper is one in that midfield group that might be given a chance, though it would be exciting to see her match up on fellow young talent, Hannah Ewings. The other third of the trio would be Georgia Bevan and Ash Woodland, with both midfields having a great mix of hardness and excitement.

Up either end, the biggest issue for Sturt by far is scoring. The Double Blues come up against a defence of Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward with Radan back in there too, stifling any high ball that comes their way. They might have to try and create a bit of a hazard ball going in there, with Nicole Baker looking good on debut last week, and young talents in Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler providing targets. Up the other end, there is no trouble scoring whatsoever as Kelly Barltrop is surrounded by the likes of Brianna Arthur, Kathryn Reynolds and Cristie Castle all of whom can hit the scoreboard multiple times in a game when required.

Sturt was good last week, certainly their best performance since the break. North Adelaide is a completely different machine though, and without Ballard and Healy, if the Roosters are firing on all cylinders then this spells danger for the Double Blues.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 25, 2.00pm
Thebarton Oval

Given the timing of this week’s fixtures, West Adelaide might have added a few more to the fan base in this game hiding their yellow and black gear. So much rests on this game when it comes to finals after Norwood’s slip-up against Sturt last week when the Redlegs dominated play but could not seemingly find the big sticks until the last kick of the day gave them a couple of points to bank. The celebration post-goal showed everything, that they were a much better chance of making finals than if they had lost that. But they still need to win one of their last two games to qualify, and it is a tough draw. First up is West Adelaide, a side that is frankly in better form and should win here. If the Bloods do, then it opens the door for Glenelg who should take care of Woodville-West Torrens in the final game of the day. In a way, it creates intrigue in the final round of the season given the Redlegs and Bays face off in Round 10. In other words, a virtual elimination final before an elimination final.

A lot of the talk will be around Norwood and whether the Redlegs can secure a finals birth with a win, but one cannot forget there is still plenty on the line for West Adelaide. The Bloods sit in third, three points off South Adelaide and if the Bulldogs upset the Panthers this week, then it is game on for second spot. In exactly the same way it is for Norwood and Glenelg. If West Adelaide wins and South Adelaide lose, then the final round clash between the Bloods and Panthers will be for second spot on the table and a double chance. Moving to the teams, Tiarna Harfield comes into the side with the Adelaide Uni player a straight swap for the injured Abbie Ballard who will be a key loss for the Bloods. The Redlegs have kept the opposition guessing by adding an extended bench with only Georgia Avery out of the side.

No doubt the youth of both sides will be the feature here, with midfield battles between Matilda Zander and Zoe Venning, as well as AFL Women’s experienced Najwa Allen and Rachelle Martin. Without her partner-in-crime in Ballard, Martin will look more to Zoe Greer, as well as Stevie-Lee Thompson to play more minutes in there. Thompson has been getting more dangerous by the week for the Bloods, and she is a part of a dominant forward line in Chelsea Biddell and Rachel Killian who also have that AFL Women’s experience. Norwood will need to contain the forwards, with Bella Smith likely to have a key role at centre half-back. Up the other end, Mattea Breed could be a target for the Redlegs along with captain Alison Ferrall, while it still seems a surprise teams do not try and negate the influence of Madison Newman. Easily one of, if not the most damaging players by foot in the competition, Norwood can not allow her to just run off half-back with ease because she can slice up opposition zones.

West Adelaide is in better form and should win here, but this is match of the round for a reason, so expect there to be plenty of highlights as teams jostle for the finals spots.

 

GLENELG vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, July 25, 4.45pm
ACH Group Stadium

Could Glenelg sneak into a second straight finals series with a late run in the final few rounds? It is certainly possible and for it to be in their own hands, the Bays must put this match to bed without any hiccups. They hold the percentage advantage over Norwood, but only marginally. Four points behind, there is no opportunity for wriggle room. Glenelg must win both remaining games and the Redlegs must lose both. One round luckily is well within the Tigers’ capabilities given they face off with the Redlegs in the final round. By the stage the first ball is bounced at ACH Group Stadium, the players will be well aware of what is on the line. If West Adelaide won in the prior game, then finals are well and truly alive, but if Norwood got up, then the dream is over for 2020. For the Eagles, they can actually avoid the wooden spoon with a win, holding a better percentage than Central District, a second win could see them take seventh spot on the table.

In terms of changes, Glenelg have a fairly huge loss in the form of Marinoff who is out of the side and the Bays will need to get the job done without here. The Eagles have also lost Kate Poole who has been a solid player over the past, but welcome back Stephanie Walker who will provide some excitement coming in at half-forward. The Eagles have a number of questions including where they play contested marking utility, Kiana Lee. She looked good in defence, but given they still lost by 86 points, now is not the time to try and stem the flow. She is the most damaging forward in the team, so should line-up there and potentially surprise the opposition with a few goals. If the midfield can match it with the experience of the Bays, through the likes of Chloe Forby, Jovanka Zecevic and Natasha Holmes, then it will go a long way to getting the win. The Eagles have always struggled in the ruck, and Caitlin Gould had a field day last time out against this team, something the visitors will be well aware of and looking to contain.

Glenelg has the experience in Gould, Eloise Jones and Deni Varnhagen able to play in multiple positions across the ground. With no Marinoff, young talent Tessa Kohn should get into the midfield again where she is not afraid to win the contested ball. Madisyn Freeman, Sam Franson and Brooke Tonon do not might moving the ball, which they will need to do against an Eagles side that has some runners. Jamie Parish played an underrated game off half-back last week, and along with Tesharna Maher and Renee Forth, their half-back line can repel Tigers attacks if they back themselves. Charlotte Dolan has been shifted up to a wing which is a good move as another who takes the game on, while Zahn Anthony has played some impressive football of late. It will not be easy to win, but if the Eagles are to cause an upset, they need to be unpredictable, take chances and run the ball. The midfield cannot afford to be exposed and they have to limit the influence of Gould around the ground.

Glenelg just have too much top-end talent in this game even without Marinoff, but Eagles should make it closer than last time. The 86-point loss last week to North Adelaide was not as bad as the scoreboard might suggest, but they are still a fair way off the top sides. Not without a chance in this game the Eagles, but Glenelg have much more on the line and one cannot see them dropping this game, particularly if Norwood loses and opens the door for the Tigers.

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 8 – Triple header on Super Sunday

A TOP against bottom clash on Saturday is followed by a Super Sunday with three back-to-back games at ACH Group Stadium as Round 8 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) takes place.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, July 18, 3.50pm
Prospect Oval

A couple of crucial injuries to both North Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens have forced changes at the selection table as AFL Women’s players, Talia Radan (North) and Jess Sedunary (Eagles) are out of the clash. The Roosters regain important defender Lauren Gauci as both teams go with extended benches for the standalone women’s clash at Prospect Oval. It will take a monumental effort from the Eagles to topple the Roosters who have shone this season and are the clear team to beat in season 2020. They are by far the highest scoring team in the competition, with a ridiculous average of 52 points a game, whilst only conceding a competition low 17.3 points per game. The Eagles are the best defensive side outside the clear three standout teams, and have been capable of generating scores at times, though coming up the benchmark in the competition, it will be tough.

Anne Hatchard leads a Roosters midfield that has plenty of depth with the X-factor of Hannah Ewings, the speed of Katelyn Pope and the smarts of Lauren Daniel working through there. A couple of defensive rocks in Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey make it difficult to win one-on-ones in the Roosters back 50, while there are no shortage of goalkickers up front with Kelly Barltrop the main target, and the likes of Britt Perry and Katelyn Reynolds (both two goals last week), and Cristie Castle able to generate scores. The Eagles have some young talent through the list, with Tesharna Maher one who can catch the eye with her line-breaking ability, while Charlotte Dolan has strung together some good form of late. Amie Blanden has been a consistent forward, while Jovanka Zecevic has covered so much ground in 2020. It is fair to say the Roosters will be red-hot favourites in this clash, but stranger things have happened in footy.

 

STURT vs. NORWOOD
Sunday, July 19, 10.10am
ACH Group Stadium

A massive Super Sunday at ACH Group Stadium begins just after 10am when the Double Blues take on the Redlegs in a must-win clash for both sides. If the top four sides win again this round, then the finals will be done and dusted with a five-point gap between fourth and fifth, and in particular lock in year another finals series for Norwood. The inaugural premiers and then unlucky the past two years at the pointy end of the season, the Redlegs have undergone a fair bit of change in 2020, but a number of young guns have emerged and really stepped up at senior level. They have won three, lost three and drawn o in that time, but the issue is they are sixth for scores conceded, with only Central District and Sturt conceding more this season. The Double Blues unfortunately have the least points more and most points against this season. If they can cause an upset here, then final are far from done and dusted, though with North next week it makes it tough.

Norwood’s key talls who can play up either end in young guns, Mattea Breed and Bella Smith control the airways clunking some strong contested marks and providing that extra strength and smarts when reading the ball in flight. They lost Monique Hollick early last week to injury so were one down for the most of the contest against the top placed Roosters. The Redlegs were competitive and take confidence out of that game, they just faded away in the second half. Leah Cutting‘s battle with Zoe Prowse will be massive as the best ruck in the competition goes up against the best young ruck in the competition. Cutting has great body positioning and smarts, while Prowse has the athleticism that can worry opponents.

The midfield battle is just as intense, as Norwood have Najwa Allen, Matilda Zander and Jess Macolino of whom the latter is in some ripping form of late, while Isabel Martin can also pop up and have an impact in the forward half. Sturt looks to its co-captains in Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter, with Isobel Kuiper also a mainstay in there. The youth of the Double Blues is superb and they are trying everything to manufacture scores including throwing Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard forward to join Georgia Swan down there, while Elsie Dawes has been impressive of late in the back half. Sturt must win this clash, but to do so, they must find a way to score, and the average of 15 points per game the Double Blues score will likely not cut it, so Norwood head in as strong favourites.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 19, 11.55am
ACH Group Stadium

The middle game at ACH Group Stadium is a third against sixth where it is effectively the last chance for Central District – like the other bottom four sides – to roll the dice and try and secure a finals spot. West Adelaide have that finals spot – barring a complete capitulation, losing all three games and one of the other sides winning all three – but they would still like to put an exclamation mark on their season with a win here. If they win, finals are assured as they will sit at least game and a half – and likely two games and a half – ahead of the bottom five. The Bloods are still in contention of a top two spot if Glenelg can upset South Adelaide and they face the Panthers in the final round of the season. For the Bulldogs, they need a win and need Norwood to lose, but even if the Redlegs do not, finals are not completely out of reach. But it makes life tough as Central would need to find a way to defeat the top two sides – North and South – in the final two weeks, while hoping Norwood lose both its games. Central has a rough fixture to finish the year, and it will be a great test to see where it sits as it comes to the end of its second season.

The Bulldogs have only had to make the one chance with Gemma Doughty returning and replacing Chantel Reynolds who was impressive last week. Doughty will give the Bulldogs some great run off half-back, with their defence holding up well this season. Demi Sonneman is the rock at full-back, and Nicola Biagi has provided extra support there since returning. Last week was about their scoring power, as they piled on a team-high record score of 44, and will need to muster something similar again. Katelyn Rosenzweig is the player that makes things happen in the forward half, booting three goals and providing a presence to set up opportunities for her teammates. However the likes of Latiah Huynh, Shannon Murphy and Amber James up there have been able to hit the scoreboard in the last couple of weeks and just provide that support that was lacking prior to the break. Shelby Smith will have a massive role along withe Lauren Smith and Alicia Butler in trying to quell West Adelaide’s midfield.

The Bloods have Rachelle Martin, Abbie Ballard and Zoe Greer in there who are just sensational, while Kate Walsh has great strength in the ruck and her battle with Sarah Allan will be huge. The Westies’ half-back line of captain Lauren Rodato, and elite kicks Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann is A-grade, and their forward line is the best in the competition. Stevie-Lee Thompson, Chelsea Biddell and Kasia Culhane to name a few are so damaging, but it will be up to the Bulldogs’ defence to try and quell them. The Bulldogs will be helped by the absence of Melanie Elsegood who is out injured in this game, though there are plenty of targets inside that forward 50. West Adelaide is a real roughie for the flag so the Bloods have earned favouritism, but Central is an impressive outfit that keeps getting better each week and are not afraid to take the game on.

 

GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 19, 1.40pm
ACH Group Stadium

In a rematch from a few weeks earlier, the Tigers try and have another crack at reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide in the final game of the round on Sunday. They have brought back a number of players including ruck talent, Soriah Moon, while the Panthers have a couple of handy ins among four with Elyse Haylock and Brooklyn Kraft both returning as well. In the first round back post-lockdown, Glenelg pushed South all the way for three quarters until three goals to zero in the last term handed the Panthers a 15-point lead. It was at the very ACH Group Stadium where the Tigers almost caused an early upset in what was one of the games of the season. Now to have a hope of making finals, they must win here and indeed their final two games against Eagles and Norwood to make finals. In many ways, this is almost like a virtual elimination final for the Bays, because if they win, they go fourth favourites overall, with Norwood having to play West Adelaide next week. It means the Tigers could overtake them heading into the team’s final round clash, but a loss here and a likely win to Norwood means the Tigers’ finals dreams are dashed. South are into finals, and are hoping North can slip up at some point, but will enjoy heading into the post-season series as underdogs. Though they would not want to get too complacent and drop a couple of games in the run home and potentially slip to third, missing out on that double chance.

Much like the first time these teams played, the midfield battle will be fascinating. They both have star power in there, with Ebony Marinoff leading the charge for Glenelg alongside another AFL Women’s talent in Deni Varnhagen, while Tessa Kohn has been named back on a wing after playing forward the last few weeks. South has that dominant combination of Nikki Gore, Czenya Cavouras and Hannah Munyard through there, as well as Nicole Campbell who can have a real influence. Throw in the young guns of Teah Charlton popping up for crucial goals, and Indy Tahau working hard through the ruck, and they have the youth to match the experience.

Glenelg has some talented young players scattered around the ground as well with Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon both exciting players, while the likes of Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould straight the Bays up and capable of playing up either end and providing height. South’s defence is a real team defence and they work together well, with Samantha Pratt and Lauren Buchanan always working it well out of the back 50. Glenelg has the capability of putting up a big total – as do South – but the Panthers are often more defence-first and make life difficult for the opposition. The Panthers won the first time and they just seem to do that – grinding out wins even when there have been patches that go against them – so expect them to be the favourites, but when a team is backs-against-the-wall like Glenelg, anything can happen and they made it happen last year by scraping into finals with a massive final few rounds to the year.

SANFL Women’s Round 5 preview: AFLW stars return as competition kicks off

FOOTBALL is back in South Australia, but it is not just the return of the beloved game which will excite fans, but the fact the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s teams are going to be even stronger than before with a stack of AFL Women’s talent returning to the competition. We preview a huge round five of action which starts tomorrow morning.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, June 27, 11.50am
X Convenience Oval

The first game off the bat in the return of season 2020 is a clash between two sides that had the one win each prior to the break, but the Bulldogs’ victory came at Norwood’s expense back in Round 1. Since then Central had three consecutive losses, two by heavy margins, whilst the Redlegs won one and drew one to move up to fifth in a remarkably close competition after four rounds. With the draw in-hand, Norwood will move up to fourth on the table if they win and the undefeated North Adelaide take care of Sturt. For the Bulldogs, a win would certainly see them lift off the bottom, with both West Adelaide and South Adelaide starting favourites against their respective opponents, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and Glenelg. At the very least, Central would leapfrog Norwood with a second win against them in this clash.

Last time these teams clashed, Central won by four points and Katelyn Rosenzweig proved a problem with three majors for the winners, whilst the Bulldogs tackled their way to victory with 56 tackles to 39. Their defence led them to victory with a plus seven differential in rebounds, whilst the Redlegs dominated most other stats, most notably the marks (plus 30) and the hitouts (plus 21). It was the accuracy in front of goal that let the reigning minor premiers down in the clash, and the Bulldogs made the most of their chances.

Fast forward to this match and the teams are welcoming back a couple of AFL Women’s talents. Sarah Allan comes in for the Bulldogs to provide some much needed experience to a team that whilst impressive defensively, is still young, and will aide young gun Kimberley Fry with support back there, freeing up Demi Sonneman to continue her ripping form of the past 18 months. The Redlegs bring back last year’s league best and fairest, Najwa Allen who provides the cream on top of a well rounded team that just had not gelled prior to the season. Her inclusion could spark a real revival for the Redlegs as they eye off yet another finals series.

With the VFL Women’s not going ahead in its traditional form, Matilda Zander remains in South Australia and will have more freedom with Allen back in the side, whilst Monique Hollick – who was yet to play a game this season – and Rhiannon Busch are among those to return to the team. Whilst the COVID-19 period might have been a terrible time for a lot of people, Gemma Doughty returns from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury she sustained last season, something the Bulldogs talent would never have been able to do if the season had run its course as expected.

The Redlegs will start favourites despite the Round 1 loss, with the key to try and limit Rosenzweig’s opportunities. For Central, they have to bring the heat like they did in Round 1, and if they can reduce the impact of Allen in the midfield whilst getting more opportunities up forward, then this is a huge chance to get off the bottom of the table.

STURT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, June 27, 11.50am
Peter Motley Oval

League disposal records might be in threat when these teams take to the field tomorrow morning with ball magnet Anne Hatchard returning to an already ridiculously stacked Roosters outfit. North Adelaide has some unbelievable top-end experience, and they take on one of the youngest sides going around in Sturt. The Double Blues opted to not bring in any AFL Women’s players for the remainder of the SANFL Women’s season, and will focus on youth to round out 2020 – something that they have an abundance of this year.

When the competition abruptly ended, the Roosters sat on top of the table as the only undefeated team, having knocked off the other top three teams, as well as accounting for both Glenelg and Central District easily in the first two rounds. Sturt on the other hand had started slowly with losses against contenders, West Adelaide and South Adelaide before grinding out wins against Woodville-West Torrens Eagles and Central District.

The Roosters will be incredibly difficult to beat in this side, with Hatchard not being the only AFL Women’s inclusion for the side that was already dominant prior to the boosts. GWS GIANTS’ Britt Perry and West Coast’s Talia Radan both come into the side with Perry being a former Rooster before being drafted last year. She has been named at half-forward, with Radan named in defence alongside Kristi Harvey who was arguably the best state league defender in the competition. With Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci having more freedom to run the ball down the field with Radan’s inclusion, it will be difficult for most sides to try and stop them. In the forward half, Kelly Barltrop will benefit off even better disposal, whilst the likes of Cristie Castle and young star Hannah Ewings will cause havoc inside 50.

Sturt might not have the names fans know now, but they have the names fans will know in the future. Their list is stacked with some of the best young talent in the league, and led by former AFL Women’s talent Georgia Bevan, and a rising star in Maya Rigter. Prior to the break, Hannah Prenzler, Zoe Prowse and Isobel Kuiper were really stamping their authority on the competition, with Alex Ballard another young talent who has shown good signs. They have all the hallmarks of a great future side, but make no mistake this would take a mammoth upset to topple the experience that the other team has. But young teams play with no fear, and Sturt is certainly an exciting team to watch.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. WWT EAGLES
Sunday, June 28, 11.50am
Hisense Stadium

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, West Adelaide had shown some real promising signs in season 2020, with two wins and a draw in four rounds. They would have been disappointed to let slip against Norwood in Round 4, splitting the points instead of taking all two, but now take on a Woodville-West Torrens outfit who the Bloods should start strong favourites against. With favourable inclusions from an AFL Women’s perspective, West Adelaide has every chance of being a dark horse in the competition and you cannot put a line through them given the talent they have injected into the team.

West Adelaide have wasted no time welcoming back some former Bloods, with Chelsea Biddell having a huge 2019 season which resulted in her being drafted. She lines up back at centre half-forward, whilst bringing in 2019 AFL Women’s leading goalkicker Stevie-Lee Thompson to an already damaging forward line presents nightmares for opposition defences. Madison Newman and Rachelle Martin have also been named – but they played in the Round 4 draw so did not need to be inclusions.

The Eagles have welcomed back two AFL Women’s players in Renee Forth and Jess Sedunary from the Crows and Saints respectively. Forth slots onto a half-forward flank, whilst Sedunary has been named on the bench in a side that has also lost a lot of quality for this game. Both former AFLW talent Rhiannon Metcalfe, and current Crows young gun Jaimi Tabb are unavailable, out amongst seven changes to the Round 4 clash. That match was the club’s first ever win in competition, marking a special moment for the Eagles after so many close misses this season.

The Eagles were the number one tackling team in the competition prior to the lockdown, and if they can return as such then they will make every side earn their goals. They have Tesharna Maher and Kiana Lee as talents up either end, with the latter no doubt benefiting off the strength of the team being bolstered. The Bloods have their fair share of young talent too with first time watches expected to hear the names Zoe Venning and Keeley Kustermann a fair time over the next couple of years, whilst Kasia Culhane knows how to hit the scoreboard.

The combination of Biddell and Melanie Elsegood, along with Culhane, Venning and Thompson all inside 50 makes the West Adelaide forward 50 arguably the best in the competition. The Eagles have a strong defence that is built on pressure, but the back six will certainly get a work out if the Westies fire as expected. The underdogs will need to be at their best in order to stem the flow, and winning the midfield is crucial to getting on top of their opposition.

GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, June 28, 12pm
ACH Group Stadium

The final match of the round pits back-to-back premiers South Adelaide up against a Glenelg side that has struggled in the opening month of the season. The Panthers won three straight to open the season, before falling to the red-hot North Adelaide in the grand final replay back in Round 4. Glenelg managed to get one up over Central District in Round 3 thanks to the inclusion of Caitlin Gould who ran rampant and led her side to a huge win. Gould returns to her side, alongside one of the AFLW’s best players in Ebony Marinoff, but South Adelaide’s inclusions are also very good.

The Panthers welcome back Crows talent Nikki Gore and Western Bulldogs’ midfield Hannah Munyard who both slot into the side alongside other listed players Nicole Campbell and Czenya Cavouras who played in Round 4. They face off against a Tigers side that not only has Gould and Marinoff in the team, but also Deni Varnhagen and Eloise Jones to provide some serious X-factor around the ground. This game is shaping up to be the best of the round with so much top-end quality running around, allowing those who had already impressed prior to the break, to have more freedom in their games.

Last year Marinoff returned to the Tigers outfit in the last few rounds to guide Glenelg to a finals series, and whilst they fell short of the grand final-bound Roosters, she showed just how much of an impact she could have. She has been named in the forward pocket, but expect her to rotate with Jones who has been named onball and could easily kick multiple majors up forward. The Tigers should have no trouble generating opportunities, if the duo can get on top of the highly touted Panthers midfield. That is not to discount the likes of rising star Tessa Kohn and up and comer Sam Franson who were in good form prior to the break.

South Adelaide has won the past two flags for a reason, and whilst it would be understandable for them to drop back a peg after a host of their young guns were drafted last year, the Panthers had other ideas. They matched it with the undefeated Roosters and ticked off every other box after almost slipping up in Round 1 against the Eagles. That seemed to be a wake up call and they never looked back. Aside from their great talents of Gore, Cavouras, Campbell and Munyard through the middle who are proven at AFLW level, they also have two of the state’s brightest prospects. Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau are in the AFL Women’s National Academy, with Charlton the potential first pick for the state this year, whilst Tahau stepped up on the big stage to be best on ground in last year’s grand final. They can similarly not be underestimated by the Tigers.

The match is essentially a battle between the midfields. If the highly touted South Adelaide onball brigade get on top, then the Panthers have enough firepower to put a big score on the board. However if Glenelg can get on top, then watch out because Gould showed what she can do with delivery inside 50, and Marinoff and Jones will certainly offer that.