Tag: jasmine garner

AFL Women’s Round 3 review: St Kilda makes history with first win

ROUND 3 of the AFL Women’s saw a number of history-making performances, especially St Kilda with the team from Moorabbin claiming their inaugural win while top of the table clashes lived up to the hype. These are the remaining six game reviews after our Match of the Round – selected prior to the weekend – saw Adelaide down Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.

ST KILDA 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 (19)
MELBOURNE 1.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.8 (14)

It was a history-making performance by the Saints claiming their inaugural AFLW win and stunning the Demons in the meantime. It was a low scoring game with both sides struggling to generate any forward momentum but when it came down to it youngster Caitlin Greiser sealed the deal with a booming kick 55 metres out. Despite the wealth of experience and talent across the field the Saints were not overawed competing hard at every contest and using their dash to find space and create forward forays. Inaccuracy plagued Melbourne who had five more scoring shots than their opponents but could simply not convert in front of the big sticks with eight behinds compared to St Kilda’s one. St Kilda showed just what they are capable of, keeping the Dees scoreless in the final term while they inflicted pain on the scoreboard.

The Saints were once again led by their young talent with talented midfielder Georgia Patrikios dominating. Patrikios won plenty of the footy with 15 possessions and most importantly used it in convincing fashion finding targets and putting her body on the line at contests racking up four tackles while the likes of Tarni White and Nicola Xenos plied their trade across the ground. Olivia Vesley proved she was no slouch tracking the ball well both at ground level and in the air with her equal-high 16 touches as the 20-year-old highlighted her class and finesse. Co-captain Tilly Lucas-Rodd was in scintillating form racking up 16 disposals, fighting hard for every touch and showcased her strong hands with three marks to her name. Nat Exon was a tackling machine applying a wealth of strong physical pressure thanks to her seven tackles with teammate Rosie Dillon equalling her on that tally and going to work with 16 touches of her own. But it was Greiser that stole the show with the 21-year-old sensing the moment and landing the knock-out blow to end any hopes of a Melbourne comeback.

It was a tough night for Melbourne who failed to bring their normal intensity and most importantly kicking boots right from the get go. In the opening quarter the Demons had plenty of momentum peppering the goals but struggled to effectively hit the scoreboard with the likes of normal sharp shooters Aliesha Newman and Tegan Cunningham missing out on the goal scoring action. Despite the loss, the trio in Karen Paxman, Elise O’Dea and Daisy Pearce combined to be a formidable force with Paxman taking home the title of most possessions in the game with 26. O’Dea was not far behind with 20 but did not worry the scoreboard in fact the only player to slot one through for six points was Shelley Scott. Both Libby Birch and Maddison Gay also found their fair share of the footy but it was not enough to change the end result.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser (2), D. Guttridge.
Melbourne: S. Scott.

BESTS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd, G. Patrikios, O. Vesley,
Melbourne: K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, D. Pearce, S. Scott

GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 | 4.4 (28)
BRISBANE 2.0 | 4.3 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

In the first of many Q-Clashes, Gold Coast played host to Brisbane on Saturday with the duel ending in a stalemate with both sides unable to be split at 28 points apiece. Although they snuck out to an early lead, the SUNS showed that they were not about to bow down to their more experienced opponent mustering up a stellar second half performance. The SUNS upped the intensity across the field limiting the Lions to a mere one point after halftime highlighting just how dangerous they can be.

After a slow start, the hosts well and truly built into the game with the likes of Kate Surman and Jaime Stanton controlling and winning a heap of possession. Surman finished the afternoon with 16 touches to her name while Stanton was one behind with 15. Hannah Dunn had a strong outing for the Suns amassing 15 touches of which nine were kicks while her physical pressure was up and about laying a team-high six tackles. When it came to scoreboard pressure there was one main go to girl and that was Kalinda Howarth. The SUNS star clunked just about everything that came her way but most importantly was accurate in front of the big sticks walking away with a bag of three while Brittany Perry rounded out the other scorers for Gold Coast.

Emily Bates once again stood strong for the Lions recording her second consecutive week with 20 or more possessions to her name thanks to a 24-touch disposal game. she was clean with ball in hand able to spot up a target and deliver. Not far behind her was teammate Ally Anderson who displayed her go-get-it attitude with 22 points while both Kate Lutkins and Lauren Arnell used their fire in the belly to win the footy at the coalface. Up forward Sophie Conway provided plenty of attacking prowess slotting an important goal and showcasing her intense defensive pressure with seven tackles. Along with Conway, Rheanne Lugg proved to be a handy target up forward slotting two majors for the Lions to keep them in the hunt. After a blinder last week, Jesse Wardlaw left her mark on the game once again albeit with one major but still provided a strong target.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 3, B. Perry.
Brisbane: R. Lugg, J. Wardlaw, S. Conway.

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth, K. Surman, J. Stanton, H. Dunn
Brisbane: E. Bates, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, S. Conway

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 4.6 (30)
CARLTON 3.1 | 3.1 | 5.3 | 8.3 (51)

Carlton hit back in serious fashion against the Bulldogs claiming a 21-point victory over the 2018 premiers. The Blues raced out of the gates piling on three goals to one in the opening term and did not look back continuing to extend the margin and make the most of their opportunities in the forward 50. On the other hand the Dogs struggled to combat the offensive pressure of the Blues with the footy camped inside Carlton’s forward 50 for large chunks of time and not allowing the ball to leave the vicinity credit to their tenacity and intensity. It was a complete performance from the girls in navy blue with their physical pressure on full display winning the tackle count 57 to 52 along with disposals 223 to 190.

After some fiery post-match comments following Carlton’s loss to Collingwood, forward Tayla Harris found her groove once again and inflicted some scoreboard pain slotting through a major while also taking a couple of handy marks throughout the game. Although Harris is the normal go to girl in the attacking 50 Georgia Gee elevated her game in the contest against the Dogs bagging three majors to go with her eight disposals. She was a real livewire in attack showcasing her strong goal sense and high footy IQ while Darcy Vescio also bobbed up for a timely goal. Maddy Prespakis continued her merry way collecting 24 touches for her efforts through the midfield along with six tackles showing just how much of a force she is. She was ably assisted by the likes of Grace Egan who managed 15 disposals along with Gabriella Pound while Lucy McEvoy slotted her first AFLW goal.

Although it was not the outcome they would have hoped for the Western Bulldogs still had some strong performances from the likes of captain Ellie Blackburn and Aisling McCarthy. The two proved to be ball magnets throughout the match with Blackburn racking up 20 touches while McCarthy chimed in with 16 of her own. Former Western Jet, Elisabeth Georgostathis slotted her first AFLW goal in the loss with fellow draftee and number one pick, Gabby Newton really showcasing her talent and class with 14 touches and four tackles. The scoring load was relatively well spread across the side with Bonnie Toogood managing a major while Kirsten McLeod and Kirsty Lamb nailed a goal apiece as well but they could not muster up enough shots on goal to really trouble the Blues.

GOALS:

Carlton: G. Gee 3, T. Harris, D. Vescio, L. Brazzale, L. McEvoy, N. Stevens.
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, K. Lamb, K. McLeod, B. Toogood.

BESTS:

Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Gee, G. Egan, T. Harris,
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, G. Newton, A. McCarthy, K. McLeod

FREMANTLE 3.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 4.6 (30)

In a top of the table clash, Fremantle pipped the Pies at the post claiming a narrow three-point victory to all but sow-up prime position on the ladder. In true first versus second fashion the lead ebbed and flowed with Fremantle claiming early ascendancy despite Collingwood owning possession deep inside 50 but failing to convert. The Dockers opened up a two goal lead heading into quarter time before the Pies hit back in the second to get it back to a level playing field and in fact go five points up. Collingwood had the chance to blow the Dockers away in the second piling on two goals and five points but inaccuracy kept Fremantle in the game and ultimately cost the Pies the four points. With pressure building inside the final minutes of the fourth quarter Collingwood seemed to have all the chances in the world with Britt Bonicci gifted two possibilities that went astray.

It was a strong effort by the Pies who well and truly brought their a-game but fell short when it counted. Jaimee Lambert seemed to have the ball on a string in the opening half collecting a staggering 21 possession to half-time before finishing the match with 32 to her name. Lambert was in scintillating form laying eight tackles and nailing a goal while Sarah Rowe upped the ante for the Pies racking up 22 touches. After being sidelined with injury last week Bri Davey made her way back into the squad and showed why she is such a strong force laying six tackles and gathering 18 disposals while cross-coder Ash Brazill continued her merry way across the back half with 17 touches and two marks. Sharni Layton hit the scoreboard once again for the Pies with Aishling Sheridan also showing her class in front of the big sticks with an important major.

Although there was no key standout player for the Dockers it was the even contribution from a host of players that got them over the line. 24-year-old Hayley Miller recorded a team-high 13 touches, 11 of which were kicks while Philipa Seth also plied her trade in her third game for the season with 12 touches. It is hard to go past Kiara Bowers’ performance with her physicality, the focal point of her outing against the Pies with a whopping game high 14 tackles showcasing her hunt and aggression for the footy. Both Ebony and Kara Antonio had quiet games compared to their usual standards but still played their role with Ebony slotting a timely major. Youngster Roxy Roux also continued where she left off with a goal and four tackles.

GOALS:

Fremantle: R. Roux, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, K. Flood, A. Sharp.
Collingwood: A. Sheridan, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Membrey.

BESTS:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, H. Miller, P. Seth, R. Roux
Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Rowe, B. Davey, B. Bonicci, A. Brazill

GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 2.2 (14)

The Giants well and truly took control of the game from the opening bounce denying the Eagles any chance to generate scoring momentum or get a feel for the footy. GWS kept West Coast scoreless for the opening three quarters highlighting their strong defensive pressure and in turn ability attacking style to get the scoreboard ticking over. It was a tough day for West Coast who simply had no answers for anything the experienced Giants side threw at them, gifting the Eagles their third straight loss.

Rebecca Privitelli had a game to remember, with the former Carlton player well and truly leaving her mark on the game with three majors and first goal in Giants colours. Privitelli showcased her class and goal sense while the reliable Cora Staunton also hit the scoreboard with a goal of her own in her sides win. Rebecca Beeson proved to be a real ball magnet popping up everywhere across the field and dishing off effectively for her 18 touches while in her second season 19-year-old Alyce Parker led the stats column in disposals with 22. New captain, Alicia Eva has gone from strength to strength throughout 2020 and that continued with another complete performance of seven tackles and 14 possessions.

For the Eagles, captain Dana Hooker had an absolute blinder racking up a game-high 23 touches while also showcasing her strength in the air with four marks and an impressive eight tackles highlighting her commitment. Emma Swanson was not far behind with 19 touches using her strong kick to advantage with 15 of her 19 touches coming off her boot. Mikayla Bowen opened up the Eagles account with the first goal in the fourth quarter while livewire Imahara Cameron chimed in moments later to put through her first and her sides second.

GOALS:

GWS Giants: R. Privitelli (3), C. Staunton, J. Barclay, H. Zreika.
West Coast Eagles: I. Cameron, M. Bowen.

BESTS:

GWS Giants: R. Privitelli, A. Eva, A. Parker, R. Beeson
West Coast Eagles: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen

RICHMOND 0.3 | 0.4 | 2.5 | 2.8 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.0 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 12.4 (76)

North Melbourne completely dismantled the Tigers handing them a whopping 56-point drubbing. There is no denying that Richmond had its chances with more scoring shots in the first quarter but simply could not convert gifting the Kangaroos an early lead, one they continued to build on as the game went on. North looked like a well-oiled machine out on the field hitting up targets with ease and most importantly applying a truckload of pressure to limit the Tigers ability to control the footy and run rampant themselves. The Roos handed Richmond its third straight loss and are staring down the barrel of a winless season if the Tigers do not start to kick into gear.

In a difficult outing, star recruit Monique Conti shone bright with 18 touches and six tackles but missed her opportunity to pile on some scoreboard pain much like captain Katie Brennan who had her fair share of chances to change the tune of the game finishing with 1.2. Brennan could have a big day with three shots at goal and only converting one but found plenty of the footy recording 14 disposals just behind Conti. Both Kodi Jacques and Phoebe Monahan plied their trade recording 12 touches and two tackles apiece in what was a solid performance. Forward Sabrina Frederick had her moments of magic securing a much needed goal and collecting seven touches but will be hoping to increase her volume in the coming rounds.

It was a different tale for the Roos who had a plethora of star players step up to the plate and dominate none bigger than Emma Kearney who found herself doing a wealth of damage on the scoreboard with three majors. Add on her 12 touches and three tackles and Kearney had a strong showing in the blue and white while Ash Riddell claimed top spot in the possessions column with 21 while Jenna Bruton was hot on her heels with 16 of her own. Kearney was not the only one to have a day out in front of goal with Kaitlyn Ashmore walking away with a nice bag of three while Daisy Bateman also managed two goals showcasing the diversity they have inside the forward 50.  Jasmine Garner showed her worth once again with a goal and 16 disposals while Kate Gillespie-Jones also made a lasting impact with 13 touches and a major.

GOALS:

Richmond: K. Brennan, S. Traub.
North Melbourne: E. Kearney 3, K. Ashmore 3, A. Green 2, D, Bateman 2, K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner.

BESTS

Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, G. Campbell, P. Monahan, K. Jacques.
North Melbourne: E. Kearney, J. Garner, A. Riddell, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton

AFL Women’s preview: Round 3 – Make or break games set the scene for third round of action

IT is now or never for a number of teams who sit on a knifes-edge when it comes to their finals aspirations. While some sides will finish the round undefeated with three wins, other teams will head into Monday doing the maths as to how many wins they need to make finals. With many teams at 1-1, this is the earliest junction in the season where sides can make a getaway from the sides around them, or fall back and have to play catch-up football in the run home.

Friday, February 21

St Kilda v. Melbourne at RSEA Park, 7:10pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

With St Kilda still looking for their first win in AFLW history, Melbourne will be hoping to keep the good times rolling and make it three from three. it has been a tricky initiation for the Saints who have been competitive for large chunks of time but lack that little bit of finesse and experience in the crucial moments as opposed to the Demons. Melbourne have been in hot form downing premiership favourites North Melbourne in Round 1 and dismissing the Dogs by 20 points last round proving just how damaging they can be when on song.

It is hard to deny that Melbourne look like a much better side with Daisy Pearce back in the mix. The skilful footballer can extract the footy out of congestion and use the ball efficiently by hand or foot adding that touch of class to an already strong side. Teammates, Karen Paxman and Elise O’Dea provide an experienced head across the field something they will be hoping to use against a relatively young and inexperienced Saints side. Libby Birch is a ball magnet and will be hoping to once again have a profound impact across the ground with her silky skills. In their second year of AFLW youngsters Tyla Hanks and Shelley Heath have been building into some hot form with their tackling pressure the key aspect of their game play.

Despite taking it to the Crows last round, St Kilda let it slip when it counted and will be hoping for a more rounded four quarter performance against some tough opposition. The Saints have plenty of young talent with Rising Star nominee Georgia Patrikios leading the pack with her cleanliness below her knees, quick hands and spatial awareness. Patrikios has made a seamless transition into AFLW with fellow draftee Tarni White also making a splash with an impressive 18 disposals last round while Molly McDonald and Nicola Xenos will be hoping to leave a lasting imprint this round. Expect the young guns to look to the likes of Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Jessica Sedunary and Rhiannon Watt to lead the way and provide some guidance given their experience and high footy nous.

Tip: Melbourne by 22 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 T.Luke 22
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: C.Munn 13 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11

Emerg: S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: T.Luke, I.Shannon
Out: C.Fitzpatrick (concussion), C.Whitfort

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: S.Heath 30 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 C.Sherriff 18 N.McEvoy 17 M.Guerin 22 E.O’Dea 5

Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

In: M.Guerin
Out: A.Kemp (knee)

Saturday, February 22

Western Bulldogs v. Carlton at Whitten Oval, 3:10pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

The Western Bulldogs will be hoping to take advantage of their home ground and inflict pain on the Blues who were well and truly shocked last round by Collingwood. The Dogs have had an up and down start to the 2020 season getting an easy win in the opening round and then well held in Round 2 much like their opposition making for an interesting battle on Saturday. Both sides will be vying for their second win and given it is a short season a win here means everything. But after a seething comment last round expect the Blues to come out firing on all cylinders.

After a relatively disappointing outing the Dogs will be hoping to right their wrongs and get back on the winners list. Once again Bonnie Toogood provided the pressure up forward and will have to keep that going if they are to topple the Blues. The likes of Aisling McCarthy and Naomi Ferres have stepped up to the plate with their ball winning ability on full display while the likes of best and fairest winner Ellie Blackburn is in ripping form. Blackburn is a machine in the midfield able to dig deep and provide a constant threat. Both Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia still have plenty to develop but have shown promising signs with their physical pressure and ability to hunt the footy.

Carlton have a plethora of stars across the ground, none bigger than ball magnet and bull Maddy Prespakis with the 20-year-old not afraid to burrow in. She struggled at times throughout Round 2 given the heavy tag but has shown that she has the class, strength and smarts to think her way through challenges pairing with the likes of fellow youngster Grace Egan. The two proved to be a dominant force last round and will be seeking to replicate their form again this round. After an early goal Tayla Harris faded out of the game against Collingwood something that she won’t let happen twice with the talented footballer able to pluck balls from the sky and kick truly. Another one in the forward brigade that will be seeking retribution is Darcy Vescio who failed to find the big sticks but has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with her goal sense and forward pressure.

Tip: Carlton by 14.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 E.Gamble 14 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 D.Marshall 26 I.Huntington 4 H.Scott 22 B.Lochland 1

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 H.Munyard 20

In: I.Huntington, B.Lochland
Out: N.Callinan, A.Van Oosterwijck

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 C.Jones 22

In: J.Edwards
Out: J.Doonan

Gold Coast v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 4.10pm AEST

Tom Cheesman

The first ever AFLW Q Clash will be played on Saturday in the Sunshine State, as expansion side Gold Coast look to topple their undefeated Conference A rival Brisbane. The Lions are sitting pretty on top of the table thanks to a dominant round one victory over Adelaide and a come-from-behind win on the road against Geelong. Meanwhile, the Suns evened their ledger at 1-1 last weekend with an 11-point victory over fellow newcomers Richmond. Both sides have strong percentages to work with and are building momentum heading into round three, so this contest should be a belter.

Ex-North Melbourne and Brisbane midfielder Jamie Stanton has been Gold Coast’s most reliable player through the opening two rounds, rated best for the SUNS by Draft Central in both matches. She averages 18 disposals, four tackles and two marks so far this season. Leah Kaslar was great last week with 15 disposals and four tackles, while Kate Surman is proving to be an excitement machine for the Suns up forward. Northern Territory recruit Tayla Thorn will look to make an impact in defence for the hosts in what will be her first match of the season.

Brisbane NAB rising star nominee Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw plans on replicating last week’s entertaining three-goal performance. She trails Fremantle’s Sabreena Duffy by one in the race for the AFLW Leading Goalkicker award and would love to take the lead through a dominant performance against the Suns. Lion midfielders Emily Bates and Ally Anderson led from the front in Geelong with 38 disposals between them, while Lily Postlethwaite is showing plenty of physicality early in her debut season. She has amassed 11 tackles over the first two rounds and with a physical clash set to take place on Saturday, this number should continue to rise.

Tip: Brisbane by 9.

GOLD COAST

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

Emerg: S.Riley 8 A.Hamilton 30

In: T.Thorn
Out: S.Riley

BRISBANE

B: C.Svarc 25 S.Webb 4
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 S.Campbell 20
C: E.Zielke – C 8 B.Koenen 3 N.Grider 10
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Wardlaw 30 G.Bodey 15
F: D.Davidson 14 S.Conway 12
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 G.Collingwood 7 M.Moloney 28

Emerg: J.Ellenger 5 J.Zanchetta 2

In: None
Out: None

Fremantle v. Collingwood at Fremantle Oval, 7:10pm

Taylah Melki

The top of the table clash will bring plenty of excitement with both sides undefeated and looking to make it three straight wins. It is fair to say that both the Dockers and Collingwood have shocked the competition with just how well they are going with Fremantle romping it home last round against cross-town rivals. Collingwood have found a new lease on life with their running style of play paying dividends and often giving them first purchase on the footy whereas the Dockers have a more attacking style.

Scoring has proven no issue for the Dockers posting some hefty totals already this season with the likes of leading goal kicker Sabreena Duffy doing a wealth of damage on the scoreboard. Both Kara Antonio and Ebony Antonio have proven to be a deadly duo with their tackling pressure and intensity a constant feature of their game. Roxy Roux bounded into Rising Star contention last week with a couple of impressive grabs and two goals to her name an effort she will want to repeat again this week while Mim Strom is continuing to ply her trade. Kiara Bowers had a best on field performance last week getting her hands to ball with ease and disposing of it cleanly with teammates Evangeline Gooch and Katie-Jayne Greive others who can inflict pain on the Pies if left unattended.

The return of Magpies star Chloe Molloy has been everything the club could have asked for with her running ability, hard edge and cleanliness along with her versatility a key aspect to the line-up. Molloy is a real excitement machine while livewire Jaimee Lambert has gone from strength to strength already and it is only entering Round 3. The potential return of the injured Bri Davey could further bolster Collingwood’s midfield stocks making them an ominous threat for the Dockers. Defensively the Pies have stood up to the task with damaging duo Stacey Livingstone and Ash Brazill acting as a wall down back and propelling anything that comes their way while in the ruck Sharni Layton has taken her craft to a whole other level. Brittany Bonnici and Mikayla Cann have been in ripping form for the black and white army and will be hoping to front up once again to get their side over the line.

Tip: Fremantle by 10.

FREMANTLE

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

Emerg: E.O’Driscoll 3 M.Clifford 4

In: None
Out: None

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 C.Molloy 2
C: S.Rowe 7 S.Casey 22 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 B.Bonnici 8
F: M.Cann 25 R.Schleicher 18
Foll: S.Layton 1 E.Fowler 15 S.D’Arcy 4
I/C: S.Dargan 46 B.Davey 3 J.Allen 6 J.Membrey 21 K.Stratton 41

Emerg: M.Shevlin 35 E.O’Dea 50

In: R.Schleicher, B.Davey, K.Stratton
Out: E.O’Dea, S.Alexander, M.Shevlin

Sunday, February 23

Greater Western Sydney v West Coast, Blacktown International Stadium, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Kicking off proceedings on Sunday, one of the expansion clubs makes its longest trip yet when West Coast crosses the country to face GWS GIANTS at Blacktown. The Eagles have shown signs in their opening two games, but have ultimately been overwhelmed, while the GIANTS survived an almighty scare in Round 1 to just get the points against Gold Coast, before going down to North Melbourne last week. It was lucky the GIANTS did get the win against the SUNS, or they could be all but out of the finals race if they dropped this match as well. As it stands, that is the predicament facing West Coast, with realistically three losses the maximum a team could have and still make finals, though not many would expect West Coast to make the post-season series in its first season. The GIANTS on the otherhand are desperate to get there having not yet tasted finals action in three seasons.

The GIANTS have a consistent list across the board with a lot of underrated stars. Alicia Eva and Alyce Parker are a damaging duo in the competition, with Parker one of the top few talents in her second year. She has worked well winning the hard ball out of the middle and using her skills, while Eva’s evasion and speed make her a damaging prospect out of congestion or in space on a wing. The GIANTS have an experienced defence that just nullifies opposition forwards, with Tanya Hetherington and Pepa Randall back on the last line, and Jess Dal Pos providing the touch of class off half-back. Up forward, Cora Staunton is always a player you have to watch out for as an opposition defender, while Rebecca Privitelli is enjoying career-best form. Also in good form is ex-Crow Jess Allen, who becomes even more crucial in this clash in the absence of All-Australian ruck Erin McKinnon.

Parris Laurie will look to continue her great form through the middle as the leading tap ruck, amassing more than 20 hitouts a game so far. She has a very strong midfield at her feet, with Dana Hooker a top five player in the league, and captain Emma Swanson a real talent with ball-in-hand. Imahra Cameron has genuinely lit up moments in games with her breakaway speed and has been a huge inclusion into the side as a mature-age recruit. Mikayla Bowen provides the toughness around the contest, and McKenzie Dowrick adds the class and skill playing off half-back. While the Eagles forward line is still learning to function as a unit, former Dockers, Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins make a damaging duo, and once the midfield and forward lines can link-up regularly, they will be a strong force.

Tip: GWS by 20.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

In: J.Barclay, T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: E.McKinnon

WEST COAST

B: C.Perera 27 T.Radan 26
HB: B.Smith 14 S.McDonald 35 M.Dowrick 5
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: A.Atkins 9 K.Gibson 2 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 T.Tester 23
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: B.Devlyn 7 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32 C.Davidson 33 D.Pisconeri 11

In: E.Bonser, C.Davidson
Out: None

Richmond v North Melbourne, Ikon Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The Sunday mid-afternoon game pits an expansion side against one of last year’s expansion teams when Richmond plays host to North Melbourne at Ikon Park. The Tigers enter this game without a win on the board just yet, and suffered defeats at the hands of Carlton and Gold Coast SUNS who are also 1-1 having lost their other respective matches. North Melbourne also sits at 1-1 from its two games, having gone down to Melbourne in a tight one out at Casey Fields, before bouncing back with a win over the GIANTS in Tasmania last week. It is fair to say the star-studded talent of North Melbourne will head in as strong favourites for this game, but with a number of fresh faces coming into Richmond’s team, it will be interesting to see how they line-up.

Joining Richmond’s extended squad in the game are debutant Ella Wood – with the former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder named on the wing – as well as potential debutants, Ciara Fitzgerald and surprise non-listed call-up, Hannah McLaren. Both have been named on the extended bench in case of any injuries, while Tayla Stahl misses with a hamstring problem. The Tigers have a strong top-end with Monique Conti and Katie Brennan leading the midfield. Brennan copped flak throughout the week in the media and is likely to come out firing to silence the critics, which the North Melbourne midfield will have to be aware of for this game. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick provides a tall marking target, while Christina Bernardi and Kodi Jacques have been in good form this season. In defence, Akec Makur Chuot and Phoebe Monahan are just quietly going about their business but are statistically the top one-two duo when thinking about marks and rebounds. Wood adds extra hardness at the contest, and joins GWV teammate Sophie Molan, and a number of other youngsters, such as Laura McClelland and Sarah Sansonetti in the team.

North Melbourne’s depth is one of the envies of the competition and there is a reason the Roos headed into the 2020 season as the premiership favourites. With a strong list despite missing one of its stars in Jess Duffin (maternity leave), North Melbourne has more players that stand up in big moments than any other side. Emma Kearney is a Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner a couple of seasons ago and well heralded, but the work of Jenna Bruton and recently, Ash Riddell should not be underestimated. With Jasmine Garner in career-best form – which is saying something – and Kaitlyn Ashmore roving at the feet of Emma King up forward, the Roos have plenty of scoring options.They are missing that Duffin-type role off half-back, though Tahlia Randall and Danielle Hardiman have provided good strength in the air for the midfielders who drop back and help out to run the ball down the field. Overall, this North Melbourne side on paper should win this game fairly easily, but as we know with any match, games are not won on paper.

Tip: North Melbourne by 28.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 A.Makur Chuot 34
HB: L.McClelland 16 P.Monahan 2 G.Seymour 28
C: E.Wood 17 K.Brennan – C 3 R.Miller 15
HF: S.Frederick 14 K.Jacques 10 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 M.Brancatisano 5
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 G.Campbell 43
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 S.Molan 1 A.Woodward 13 H.Burchell 9 H.McLaren 29 C.Fitzgerald 26

In: E.Wood, H.McLaren, C.Fitzgerald
Out: T.Stahl (hamstring)

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 J.Grierson 19
C: J.Trend 21 A.Riddell 7 E.Kearney – C 9
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 E.King 4
F: E.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 J.Bruton 35
I/C: A.Gilroy 8 D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 B.Lynch 20 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 A.Green 26

In: B.Lynch, M.King
Out: None

Geelong v Adelaide, GMHBA Stadium, 5.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The final game of the round might well be the best of the lot, perhaps barring the top of the table clash between the Dockers and Magpies. Geelong is hungry for a win, sitting at 0-2 despite statistically looking pretty good across the board and plenty of their teenage talents stepping up already in season 2020. Adelaide has been the walking wounded, having to bring in a top-up player back in Round 1 due to the multitude of injuries, and then bouncing back with a win – albeit not entirely convincing – over newcomers St Kilda. This feels like a game that could make or break both these side’s seasons. Geelong win, and the Cats are back in contention, while they lose and it is pretty much curtains for season 2020 unless they really get on a roll. Adelaide win, and the Crows are flying high on confidence and can sustain it long enough to receive some extra troops in the run home to finals, while they lose and the reigning premiers will be in a bit of trouble for their title defence aspirations.

Geelong lost at home last week to Brisbane, and will want to give the home fans who turn up for the second week in a row something to cheer about. The Cats have lost promising youngster, Denby Taylor to an ankle injury, but have regained All-Australian defender Meg McDonald, which would be a huge relief for coach Paul Hood. Maddy Boyd and Rebecca Goring have been added to the squad as well for the clash, as Geelong understands the importance of a win here for its finals calculations. The core group of second year players in the blue and white hoops have been simply sensational and a blueprint for clubs going forward. Olivia Purcell is in the top five ball winners across the league, while Rebecca Webster has been a marking machine and is the most improved player in the competition. Along with Sophie Van De Heuvel and 2018 AFL Women’s number one draft pick Nina Morrison, the Cats have a plethora of talent across the board. They still have more to get out of some of the depth around the ground, but with McDonald back, it releases some of the pressure off captain Mel Hickey, while Phoebe McWilliams will enjoy having Boyd back in the side as another target up forward.

The Crows go in with top selection from last year’s draft, Montana McKinnon – who dominated in the SANFL Women’s competition last week – and Courtney Cramey of whom both have been added to the extended side. The midfield duo of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff is ranked first and second in terms of disposals won, while Eloise Jones have gained some important minutes in the absence of star, Erin Phillips. Up forward, Nikki Gore and Danielle Ponter have improved in their second year, adding extra dimensions to the side, while Courtney Gum‘s new role as a deep forward has been important in providing leadership around the young players. The midfield battle between these teams will be fascinating, and if the Crows can continue their ball-winning and stoppage ways, then expect their forwards to have a good day in Geelong. But if the Cats can neutralise the midfield, then they will also have a huge chance of taking out the contest.

Tip: Geelong by 4.

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Webster 21 N.Morrison 9
HF: J.Crockett-Grills 6 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: M.Boyd 26 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 R.Cranston 30 O.Purcell 16
I/C: M.Maguire 7 D.Higgins 2 G.Rankin 10 R.Caris 1 G.Clarke 17 R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3

In: M.McDonald, M.Boyd, R.Goring
Out: D.Taylor (ankle)

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: S.Li 19 M.Rajcic 32 C.Cramey 22
C: A.Foley – C 3 A.Hatchard 33 J.Mules 23
HF: N.Gore 7 C.Gould 1 S.Thompson 14
F: C.Gum 5 D.Ponter 15
Foll: J.Foley 24 E.Marinoff 10 E.Jones 2
I/C: A.Considine 16 M.McKinnon 21 C.Biddell 12 N.Allen 8 M.Newman 17 N.Campbell 20 R.Forth 27

In: C.Cramey, M.McKinnon
Out: None

ROUND 3 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [10]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Taylah Melki [12]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Collingwood / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Sophie Taylor [10]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Peter Williams [9]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Geelong

AFL Women’s Top 15 improvers: Cats youth develop while Crows step up

THE AFL Women’s season is only two games in, but there have already been a number of impressive performers in season 2020. We take a look at the top 15 players who have improved their game from season 2019 to season 2020. While we understand that it is a matter of opinion, we have crunched the numbers to bring a factual approach, looking at those players who have bolstered their Draft Central (DC) Points the most in that time frame. DC Points are similar to the traditional fantasy points, with the exception of not including free kicks for or against, as to not penalise or reward players in that aspect of the game. It is a debate for another day, but overall this method is a good measure of improvement based on statistical areas.

What we have listed are the top 15 players in the AFL Women’s who have shot up the rankings in terms of their DC points, looking at their total points this year compared to last, providing an insight into those players who have really stepped it up this season.

eq #1 Rebecca Webster
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 221st / 20
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 7th / 72 (+52)

The clear standout for the Most Improved if there was such an award, with the former Murray Bushrangers skipper playing more midfield minutes in 2020 and benefiting massively. She has gone from a consistent role player in the defensive half of the ground, where she averaged 6.3 disposals, one mark, one tackle and one rebound per game from four games last season, into a ball winning juggernaut of 17 disposals, 6.5 marks three inside 50s and two rebounds per game, covering the ground more than before. It followed on from her strong VFL Women’s season where she spent a lot of time in the midfield, averaging 16.5 touches per game and showing the coaches that she was capable of taking the next step in her game.

eq #1 Phoebe Monahan
Richmond
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 221st / 20
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 7th / 72 (+52)

Crossing from GWS GIANTS to the Tigers over the off-season, Monahan was not as highly recognised as teammate, Christina Bernardi, but she has really stepped it up in season 2020 to match it with Geelong young gun, Webster. Having played at the GIANTS for two seasons and averaging between seven to eight disposals per game, Monahan has shot up to 17.5 per match getting around the ground and primarily playing out of the back half. She has already recorded a massive 6.5 rebounds and three inside 50s to help the Tigers, and while they have lost both their clashes so far, the 26-year-old has provided some good experience in defence for the young Cubs.

#3 Anne Hatchard
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: 14th / 73
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 1st / 121 (+48)

The only other player close to the top two in season 2020 is Anne Hatchard. Already a prominent ball winner with the Crows, the absence of Erin Phillips from that midfield group has forced Hatchard to shoulder more of the load with Ebony Marinoff and the other Crows midfielders. Having already averaged more than anyone else on this list last season with 73 DC points to accompany 18.9 disposals, she is far and away the top disposals winner in 2020, averaging 29.5 and holding the league record of 35 touches in a game, whilst averaging the six marks as well. While unlikely to maintain those kind of lofty averages throughout the season, her start has certainly been remarkable.

#4 Sharni Layton
Collingwood
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 207th / 22
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 34th / 55 (+33)

There would be very few who would have expected the former Australian Diamonds netballer to be this high up on the list, if at all. Having played six games last season off no real football experience, Layton rarely got near it and was learning from a blank canvas. Fast forward 12 months, and the ruck looks like a natural at the game, averaging 18.5 hitouts and kicking her first AFL Women’s goal in Round 1. She has also more than doubled her disposals and is clunking her marks, laying more tackles and looking a dangerous prospect for any opposition player considering her frame. While it might look like she burst onto the scene this year, the foundations for this kind of form were built in the VFL Women’s last season, averaging 11 disposals, 15.6 hitouts, three tackles and two marks per game. Stunningly, Layton averages the same DC points as Ellie Blackburn and Jenna Bruton, showing the form she is in.

eq. #5 Danielle Ponter
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 127th / 33
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 24th / 61 (+28)

With the high injury toll at the Crows, some of their next tier was bound to stand up, and Danielle Ponter has been one of those players. In 2019, Ponter played as a pure small forward in her debut season, playing eight games and snaring 13 goals in that time at an impressive 1.6 per game. While no doubt benefiting from the strength of the Crows line-up, she held her spot and then this season has moved further up the ground, averaging 12.5 disposals, 3.5 marks and 3.5 inside 50s per game. She is yet to hit the scoreboard, but is setting others up, using her class and poise to work her way through opposition defensive zones and she has a high upside for the future.

eq. #5 Breann Moody
Carlton
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 185th / 25
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 44th / 53 (+28)

Much like Layton, Moody is a player you might not expect to be on this list as the ruck roles are often underrated at AFL Women’s level and the focus being on the midfielders or key forwards. Along with Layton, Moody has been sensational to start the season, averaging 16 hitouts and 10 disposals, after just the 6.4 and 4.4 respectively from eight games last year. While deployed as a forward who rotated through the ruck last year, she has taken the number one ruck role by the horns and is thriving in 2020.

#7 Jasmine Garner
North Melbourne
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 29th / 59
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 3rd / 86 (+27)

Already considered one of the league’s best players, and certainly most damaging, Garner has been played up both ends but seems most at home in the forward half. Last year she broke even with her 2018 season at the Pies, booting the same amount of goals, but without the heavily reliance on her performing, and finding a pure role in attack. At Collingwood she played at both ends, and while 2018 might be considered her best year, she is only track to easily eclipse that in 2020. Right now she is third overall for DC points, and is averaging a massive 19 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal a game from her two matches.

eq. #8 Olivia Purcell
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: 39th / 53
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 4th / 77 (+24)

The second of the Cats young brigade to get a mention in this list, Purcell has bolstered herself up to be a genuine Most Valuable Player (MVP) chance. Not only has she maintained her ball-winning abilities, but she showed she can hit the scoreboard, booting two goals in her Round 2 match against Brisbane. Only in her second season, Purcell is averaging six more disposals and four more marks, getting to the outside more often, and also dropping into defence to help out as a key cog in that midfield group. Another player who build form through the VFL Women’s program with a strong season.

eq. #8 Aasta O’Connor
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 144th / 30
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 39th / 54 (+24)

Having an early season purple patch, O’Connor is back in the form that made her a damaging ruck at the Western Bulldogs a couple of seasons ago. Her first season in the blue and white hoops was interrupted and less consistent, but her start in 2020 has been impressive, coaching the younger rucks such as Rene Caris to come through, and is the perfect centre square ruck in the Cats side with the likes of Purcell, Webster and Nina Morrison all running around – players who O’Connor has mentored and watched develop through her role in the AFL Women’s Academy.

#10 Julia Crockett-Grills
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 132nd / 32
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 34th / 55 (+23)

With four players in the top 10, it shows the Cats are doing something right even if it might not be shown on the scoreboard just yet. Crockett-Grills, like Purcell has developed into a fully fledged AFL Women’s midfielder, averaging 15.5 disposals, 3.0 marks and 3.5 tackles per game. She steadily built form in the Cats program last season, playing eight games in the AFLW since being drafted from the premiership-winning Hawks’ outfit. Her VFLW season was even better last year and she has continued that form in 2020 at the elite level.

#11 Stacey Livingstone
Collingwood
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq 110th / 36
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 27th / 58 (+22)

The reliable defender would be a lock for All-Australian if the team was decided right now, and it is little surprise to see her in this rich vein of form considering her VFLW season. She won the Lisa Hardeman Medal for best on ground in the VFLW Grand Final and has rolled that form into the 2020 AFLW season. Now into her fourth season, Livingston has really stepped up her offensive game to match that of her dire defensive work which saw her nullify many key forwards in the past. Now Livingston has become more of an offensive threat, which has shown in her improvements in disposal numbers (+4), rebounds (+2) and marks (+2).

eq. #12 Ash Riddell
North Melbourne
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 35th / 55
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 6th / 73 (+18)

While we have not included players who missed the season last year, Riddell did get on the park in a couple of games before going down in Round 2. Comparing her two games from last season to 2020, Riddell has been more potent on the attack, with six more disposals and three more inside 50s per game. She is still laying her 4.5 tackles per game and able to hit the scoreboard, but she is pushing up the ground and impacting the contest to a greater degree. After an elite VFLW campaign, Riddell is a good chance for All-Australian form if she can maintain her early season showings.

eq. #12 Christina Bernardi
Richmond
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 90th / 39
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 28th / 57 (+18)

The Richmond forward came with plenty of hype in the off-season as one of the famed trio to land at the yellow and black along with Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick. Her season at the GIANTS was underwhelming, playing deeper that she did at Collingwood and not having the same impact. Now at Richmond, Bernardi is having a greater influence on the game up the field, averaging 13.5 disposals and 3.5 marks per game, back in the form she was in for the black and white in 2018.

eq. #12 Renee Forth
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 90th / 39
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 28th / 57 (+18)

Of all the marquee players from the inaugural season, the 32-year-old Forth is often seen as flying under the radar. She crossed from the GIANTS to the Crows last season and played in a premiership off the back of an improved year without the injury concerns of 2018. In 2020, Forth has already lifted her numbers across the board, and is averaging double-figure disposals as well as a career-high 3.5 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s per game. Not a known huge ball winner like some of her teammates, she has stepped it up so far and is playing her role well.

#15 Gemma Houghton
Fremantle
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 53rd / 46
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 22nd / 63 (+17)

The Fremantle tall forward is flying under the radar this season despite becoming a real target inside 50. With all the talk around the young crop coming through at the Dockers, Houghton is going about her business to average 13.0 disposals, 4.5 marks, 3.0 hitouts, 3.5 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and a goal per game. She covers a lot of ground and is doing well in a number of areas and has already been one of the top key forwards this season.

AFL Women’s Round 2 review: Magpies break arch rivals curse as Dees, Lions and Dockers remain unbeaten

COLLINGWOOD has beaten arch-rival Carlton for the first time in its AFL Women’s history, while Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle remained undefeated with the Pies at the conclusion of Round 2.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 (12)
MELBOURNE 2.3 | 2.6 | 4.8 | 4.8 (32)

Peter Williams

Melbourne has remained undefeated in season four of the AFL Women’s competition, claiming a 20-point victory over traditional rivals the Western Bulldogs under lights at Whitten Oval. The Dees were too strong, particularly in the second half where they booted two goals to one, but primarily controlled things in the first and third terms where they were able to build a lead and never let it up. Their overall disposal eficiency was better with 58 per cent to 45, while having an additional 35 more disposals, with a predominant kick-first approach. A telling stat for the Dees was their five marks inside 50 – leading to scoring opportunities – because once the ball hit the ground the Dogs showed some fierce attack on the ball. Melbourne was more prolific in the ruck, winning 31 hitouts to 18, but dominated the inside 50s with 34 for the match compared to just 15. By limiting the flow to the Dogs’ attacking end they never really gave them a chance, coming out deserving winners in the end.

Shelley Scott was the Dees’ top disposals winner with 16 touches, as well as six marks, three inside 50s and one tackle, while Daisy Pearce continued to remarked everyone of what she was capable of, working hard between the arcs with 15 touches, two marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds. Kate Hore was busy in the forward half with 14 disposals, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, while former Dog, Libby Birch got one-up over her former team and assisted strongly with 13 disposals, two marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds. Karen Paxman (16 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, five tackles and a goal) and Maddison Gay (13 disposals, six tackles and two inside 50s) both his the scoreboard, while Casey Sherriff booted her first AFL Women’s goal in her second game.

The young pups showed some promising signs for the future, but were beaten in the ruck and had 11 more turnovers across the contest, unable to really impact the scoreboard often enough. The two goals came from Deanna Berry in the first quarter and Bonnie Toogood in the last, with the latter providing a good target inside 50 with 10 touches, two marks and a tackle to go with a goal. Aisling McCarthy was the Dogs’ top disposal winner with 15 touches, two marks, three rebounds and eight tackles, while Ellie Blackburn was strong without being her dominant self, finishing with 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, two rebounds and one inside 50. Kirsty Lamb had 11 disposals – all kicks – as well as three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while 2019 AFL Women’s Draft number one pick, Gabby Newton continued to show great defensive pressure with 11 touches and six tackles.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: D. Berry, B. Toogood.
Melbourne: K. Paxman, M. Gay, C. Sherriff.

ADC BEST:

Western Bulldogs: A. McCarthy, E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, N. Ferres, G. Newton
Melbourne: K. Paxman, D. Pearce, K. Hore, M. Gay, L Birch

NORTH MELBOURNE: 1.0 | 3.0 | 5.1 | 6.1 (37)
GWS GIANTS 1.0 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 2.7 (19)

Michael Alvaro

Pre-season premiership favourite North Melbourne bounced back from a shock Round 1 loss, maintaining its undefeated record on Tasmanian soil with an 18-point win over GWS. While they looked scratchy early, the Kangaroos’ class through midfield shone through and helped the hosts break through for the 6.1 (37) to 2.7 (19) result.

In somewhat of a feeling out process throughout the opening term where both sides had a crack, Jasmine Garner found space inside forward 50 to boot the game’s first goal. Playing more of a midfield-first role, the former Magpie used her improved endurance to break into dangerous positions on the spread and still have an impact forward of centre. But her opening major was levelled by Haneen Zreika’s 50-metre penalty conversion, with the those the only two scores of a tight term.

But as the duo of Ashleigh Riddell – who suffered a season-ending injury against the GIANTS in 2019 – and skipper Emma Kearney started to take over, the ‘Roos began to take ascendancy. The home side’s stoppage superiority and willingness to attack through the corridor was rewarded with Garner’s second goal, while Zreika and Erin McKinnon were unable to capitalise on golden opportunities up the other end to remain in the contest. An Emma King goal with her first touch for the game came between those chances to rub salt in the wounds of GWS as North Melbourne took a nine-point lead into the main break. But North’s success in that term was somewhat soured as game-breaking forward Kaitlyn Ashmore was taken out of the contest following a clash of heads with GIANTS’ Irishwoman, Yvonne Bonner.

Despite the unfortunate and late injury to Ashmore, it was the GIANTS who were put on the ropes in the third quarter as Elisha King nailed a goal immediately after her own set shot attempt fell short. The luck simply seemed to be falling North Melbourne’s way in front of goal, but a coach killer of a free kick gifted Brittany Tully a six-pointer to keep GWS within touch. The GIANTS were organised well behind the ball and began to level the midfield battle as Alicia Eva went to war with Kearney, while Alyce Parker did her best to drive the visitors forward. It was to no avail though as Sophie Abbatangelo converted a tricky set shot from the pocket to make an unlikely comeback even tougher for the GIANTS, who kept kicking themselves out of the game.

Having put just about all their cards on the table during the third term, it seemed the GIANTS had little more to give in the run home. North Melbourne began to take complete control as the contest fizzed out, with Garner dominant at each stoppage and the improvised forward combination of Abbatangelo and Kate Gillespie-Jones too hot to handle. With the game played out on their terms, the ‘Roos ran out comfortable winners and got their season back on track.

North’s ball-winners in Kearney (21 disposals), Garner (20, two goals), Riddell (18 disposals), and Jenna Bruton (20) went a long way to ensuring they bossed the match, with Tahlia Randall’s sweeping efforts in defence massive in protecting the lead. Gillespie-Jones and Abbatangelo’s ability to hit the scoreboard in the absence of Ashmore and quiet form of Emma King was also handy, with contributors coming from across the board.

Eva (21 disposals) and Parker (16) were again at the core of GWS’ effort, while the debut of Lisa Steane (13 disposals) caught plenty of eyes. Zreika’s pressure and knack of finding the ball in advanced areas could have proven gamechanging if it weren’t for inaccuracy, with Pepa Randall and Elle Bennetts holding up the fort down back under immense pressure. Now 1-1, the GIANTS will hope to return to the winners list in Round 3 when they host West Coast, while the Kangaroos do battle with another winless newcomer, Richmond at Ikon Park.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: J. Garner 2, Em. King, El. King, S. Abbatangelo, K. Gillespie-Jones.
GWS: H. Zreika, B. Tully.

ADC BEST:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, J. Bruton, V. Saad, S. Abbatangelo
GWS: A. Parker, A. Eva, H. Zreika, L. Steane, P. Randall, E. Bennetts

WEST COAST 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)
FREMANTLE 2.2 | 5.3 | 7.6 | 9.6 (60)

Peter Williams

Fremantle has made a mighty statement in the inaugural AFL Women’s Western Derby thanks to a massive 45-point smashing of competition newcomers, West Coast. The Dockers were far too experienced for the new Eagles, despite a number of players donning the gold and blue against their old side. From the get-go it was clear Fremantle was looking to back up its impressive win over Geelong a week earlier, booting two goals to zero in the opening quarter. The Eagles continued that dominance into the second term, booting three consecutive goals early to hand them a 32-point lead in the 14th minute of the term. It was not until former Brisbane talent, McKenzie Dowrick put one through that the Eagles fans had something to celebrate, though with Roxanne Roux’s second goal early in the third quarter and then Gabby O’Sullivan‘s major seven minutes later, the Dockers were home and hosted wit ha 34-point lead at the final break. Booting four goals last week, Sabreena Duffy got her name on the board in the final quarter, while Katie-Jane Grieve slotted a ninth goal for the purple side, pushing the margin out to a whopping 52 points. To their credit, the Eagles managed to get a consolation goal through Tarnee Tester 15 minutes into the last term, to bring the final deficit back to 45.

The Dockers easily won the inside 50 count 30-19, and looked better on the outside with 39 marks despite only having four more disposals. Kiara Bowers had a ridiculous 18 tackles to go with her 13 disposals, two mars, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Grieve was not far behind her with great forward pressure, laying 11 tackles with 11 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and two goals. The two tackling machines were the standouts on the day, though Jasmin Stewart was also solid with 12 disposals, three inside 50s, four tackles and two goals, as was teenager Roux who booted two goals and took four marks from limited chances up forward. Kara Antonio tried hard all day with nine touches – all kicks – as well as three marks, three inside 50s and six tackles, while O’Sullivan booted a goal from 11 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s and two tackles.

The Eagles preferred method was winning the ball at the contest, but were well beaten on the outside and then on the scoreboard where it counted. Nonetheless there were still a number of impressive players backing up from their first round performance. Imahra Cameron was superb with 14 disposals, two inside 50s and four tackles, showing off her burst around the contest, joined by Emma Swanson as the equal team-high ball winner thanks to 14 touches, four inside 50s and two tackles. Former Docker, Dana Hooker led by example with 13 disposals, three tackles and three rebounds, while Niamh Kelly had 13 disposals, two marks and three inside 50s. Strong midfielder, Hayley Bullas had 10 disposals and five tackles, while first year talent, Mikayla Bowen finished with nine disposals and four tackles.

GOALS:

West Coast: M. Dowrick, T. Tester.
Fremantle: K. Grieve 2, R. Roux 2, J. Stewart 2, G. O’Sullivan, S. Duffy, G. Houghton.

ADC BEST:

West Coast: I. Cameron. E. Swanson, D. Hooker, N. Kelly, H. Bullas
Fremantle: K. Bowers, K. Grieve J. Stewart, K. Antonio, R. Roux

GEELONG 2.1 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 (20)
BRISBANE 1.0 | 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.3 (39)

By: Taylah Melki

After a scintillating first half, Geelong fell away in the latter stages of the game, with Brisbane proving too strong. The Cats opened up a 13 point lead at the start of the second term and seemed to have the ascendancy but the tables drastically turned in the third with the Lions piling on three goals to zip. The trip down south did not seem to bother the Lions who after a slow start, put their foot down in the second half only allowing Geelong to add one point to their total. Despite the Cats having a wealth of possession they simply could not capitalise on their opportunities with Brisbane’s intensity inside forward 50 giving them that attacking edge. They took eight marks inside the forward arc compared to their opponents nil and laid a whopping 11 more tackles inside 50 than Geelong which in turn correlated into more scoring chances.

In her first season back from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, youngster Nina Morrison made her presence felt on the footy field with an equal team-high 18 disposals. Morrison threw her weight around from the get go using her clean hands to clear the pack while Olivia Purcell navigated her way around the ground with ease collecting 16 points and two goals. Rene Caris was strong in the ruck reading the flight of the ball well while Millie Brown found plenty of the ball with 18 disposals. Richelle Cranston was up to her usual tricks with her signature run and carry style of footy on display throughout the game but at times had limited options to kick to.

It was a game of two halves for the Lions with Emily Bates leading the way in the midfield brigade with her classy ball movement and go-get it attitude. Bates amassed a game high 22 disposals with 15 of them kicks and five marks to cap off her impressive performance. Ally Anderson was also amongst the best, often on the bottom of the pack or plying the ball out congestion with 16 touches and six tackles. Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw was the key target up forward for the Lions and she did not disappoint, kicking truly on all three occasions showcasing her impressive accuracy and goal sense.

GOALS

Geelong: O. Purcell 2, D. Higgins.
Brisbane: J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw 3, S. Conway, D. Davidson, G. Bodey.

ADC BESTS:

Geelong: N. Morrison, M. Brown, O. Purcell, R. Cranston, M. Brown
Brisbane: E. Bates, A. Anderson, S. Conway, J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw

CARLTON 1.0 | 2.1 | 2.4 | 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 6.3 (39)

By: Taylah Melki

For the first time in AFLW history, Collingwood downed old foe Carlton to make it a 2-0 start to the season. The girls in black and white got the jump early in enemy territory, nailing a goal in the first 25 seconds of the game, ultimately setting the tone for the match. The Pies showcased their intensity, slick ball movement and ability to lower the eyes going forward from the get go, establishing a slim lead in the opening quarter and building on it as the game went on. Both sides struggled in the third quarter unable to do any real scoreboard damage thanks to the footy pin-balling around the ground. Carlton will be ruing its missed opportunities, with three shots falling by the wayside. But when it came to crunch time Collingwood capitalised, slotting the first major of the fourth term and putting the nail in the coffin in the dying stages of the game.

Stacey Livingstone had a game to remember with the defender nullifying the influence of Carlton star forward Tayla Harris after her first quarter goal. Livingstone amassed 15 touches for the game, acting as a human wall in defence, not letting the ball pass her while Ash Brazill showed her defensive attributes. Former Diamond, Sharni Layton continued her hot form with some classy work out of the ruck and impressive work below her knees setting up two goals. Jordan Membrey did damage on the scoreboard with two goals while the likes of Chloe Molloy (17 touches, five tackles) and Jaimee Lambert (21 touches) proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the midfield.

The Blues were run by their young guns, with the likes of experienced stars Nicola Stevens and Darcy Vescio struggling to find the footy. Maddy Prespakis was a machine for the Blues powering through the constant physical pressure and using her quick hands to release the footy racking up 17 touches, 10 of which were kicks. Meanwhile 19-year-old Grace Egan was a real ball magnet notching up 18 disposals and laying a whopping game high 11 tackles, while Lauren Brazzale ended her eight-point streak with a well-deserved goal. Injuries to Katie Loynes and Kerryn Harrington further dampened Carlton’s performance with the two limping through the game.

GOALS:

Carlton: B. Walker, L. Brazzale, T. Harris.
Collingwood: J. Membrey 2, S. D’Arcy, S. Casey, J. Allen, A. Sheridan.

ADC BESTS:

Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Egan, K. Harrington, G. Gee, J. Hosking
Collingwood: S. Livingstone, J. Lambert, C. Molloy, B. Bonnici, S. Layton

ADELAIDE 0.0 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 6.4 (40)
ST KILDA 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.2 | 4.3 (27)

Tom Cheesman

Reigning premiers Adelaide have defeated St Kilda by 13 points in a nail-biter at Hisense Stadium. The Crows were held goalless in the first term and trailed until late in the last quarter, but youngster Maddie Newman kicked truly with four minutes remaining to put them front and they did not look back. It was a heartbreaking result for the Saints, who were more efficient with ball-in-hand and appeared on-track for their first ever AFLW victory. Georgia Patrikios thought she extended her side’s lead with a set shot in the last term, but Crows defender Sarah Allan got her fingertips to it on the line. From there, Caitlin Gould levelled the scores after a contested mark in the goal square, then Newman’s goal and a sealer from forward Eloise Jones got Adelaide over the line.

Crows recruit Courtney Gum was outstanding, remaining calm under pressure when many of her teammates lacked composure. She finished with 19 disposals, five tackles and seven marks including a unique one-handed contested mark in the final term. Marijana Rajcic and Angela Foley were solid in defence and continually repelled St Kilda’s attacks, while Ebony Marinoff was dominant in the midfield with 26 disposals, five marks and four tackles.

For St Kilda, Caitlin Greiser provided a dominant presence up forward and kicked two goals. Tarni White was reliable in defence, while Kate McCarthy and Molly McDonald were dynamic up forward throughout the contest.

The Saints will look to reverse their fortunes on Friday night against Melbourne, while the Crows head to Geelong for a clash with the Cats on Sunday.

GOALS:

Adelaide: M. Newman, E. Jones, A. Considine, C. Biddell, S. Thompson, C. Gould.
St Kilda: C. Greiser 2, K. McCarthy, J. Sedunary.

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: C. Gum, M. Rajcic, A. Foley, S. Allan, E. Marinoff, S. Lee-Thompson
St Kilda: C. Greiser, T. White, K. McCarthy, G. Patrikios, K. Shierlaw, M. McDonald

Dees celebrate upset win in front of home fans at Casey

MELBOURNE has claimed a huge scalp in the opening round of the AFL Women’s 2020 season, downing one of the premiership favourites in North Melbourne at Casey Fields. In a see-sawing contest, the Demons scored the final goal of the game courtesy of Eden Zanker, in a low-scoring and blustery affair to win 3.4 (22) to 3.2 (20).

A warm and windy day at Casey Fields not only welcomed the return of AFL Women’s to the south-eastern suburbs of Victoria, but also the return of Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce. The Dees’ skipper was playing her first competitive match since 2018, and started at half-back, winning an intercept possession straight off a clearance and getting in the thick of it early. Young gun, Tyla Hanks set the tone with a great tackle in the opening minute at half-back, but the going was tough early with both side’s defences standing up with the blustery conditions doing plenty to impact the inside 50 entries.

It took until the fifth minute when Kaitlyn Ashmore mowed down a Melbourne opponent close to goal and won a free kick 15m out on a 45 degree angle. The breeze did not pose a problem for the talented utility who slotted the first goal of the match. The Roos might have surprised a few by recruiting mature-age Western Bulldogs VFL Women’s recruit, Ellie Gavalas with their first pick, but she showed exactly why they brought her in with some great tackling ability, as did Melbourne Uni recruit, Tahni Nestor with a huge run-down tackle on Zanker to win a free kick. Ashmore’s forward work was looking good with a strong lead and mark about 35m out, but opted to pass which was spoiled.

With only their third inside 50, Melbourne’s Tegan Cunningham took a big contested mark, but her kick got caught in the breeze and fell short. An end-to-end play by the Roos saw Daisy Bateman mark on the 50m line, and knowing the distance was beyond her, looked for options. Luckily though, her opponent took a step too far on the mark, and Bateman was awarded a 50m penalty, converting the major from the goal square to put her side 12 points up with the quarter into red time. The home team was attacking fiercely late in the term, but back-to-back 50m penalties for mark infringements brought North Melbourne back to within goal-scoring range. The kick on goal fell short, and Gavalas nearly got her first major with a quick snap but missed to the right and the siren sounded with the Roos 2.1 (13) to Dees’ 0.0 (0).

Now with the wind at their backs, the Dees could start to mount an offensive themselves. A huge moment came in the sixth minute when Kate Hore produced a perfectly timed run-down tackle as her opponent went to clear the danger out of defence. The ball never connected with her boot and Hore converted the subsequent set shot from straight in front 30m out. Melbourne was on the board just over 20 minutes into the match.

The game was predominantly being played in Melbourne’s half, with the Demons constantly putting pressure on the Kangaroos’ defence. It worried the visitors into giving away a stoppage free to Elise O’Dea in front of goal, but her set shot drifted to the left courtesy of the strong breeze. Melbourne’s ‘Old Firm’ of O’Dea, Pearce and Karen Paxman were standing up and leading the side across the three lines, while the the speed and excitement of Hore and Shelley Heath inside 50 was piling on the pressure for the home side.

Hore was best-on for her impact in the game, pressuring an opponent to force the ball out of bounds and win a free kick deep in the pocket. Her set shot missed, but she would soon put her side in front with the last meaningful play of the quarter, after Zanker’s dribble attempt fortuitously bounced away from the goal, but also a North Melbourne opponent and bounced straight into the arms of the running Hore who converted from point-blank range.

Melbourne had a simple task against the wind – try to clog up the scoring to avoid North Melbourne holding an unassailable lead heading into the last term. For the first four minutes, nothing was able to penetrate past the last line of the Dees’ sturdy defence. With so much experience back there, they were able to work the ball out of the danger zone time and time again. Though the first meaningful chance came via a holding free to Emma King about 35m out straight in front. Her shot looked on target for the most part, but drifted to the left for one behind and levelled the scores.

While Pearce might have been the headline return story for the match, North had one of its own too, with Ash Riddell returning for just her third game after missing the rest of last season after going down in Round 2. She was in the right spot at the right time goal-side to receive a quick handball from Jasmine Garner to snap around her body and put it through with a celebration worthy of a vital match-turning goal. The Roos would need at least one more and now allow the home side to get one on the board of their own if they were to hold enough sway to restrict the opposition in the final term.

The match had shades of last year’s thrilling encounter, and while Cunningham had the chance to put her side back level with a tight shot from the boundary, it went to the right.  Melbourne was attacking fiercely in the dying minutes of the third term to try and get one against the flow, but North kept repelling time and time again, including a potentially match-winning tackle from Bethany Lynch inside defensive 50. The Roos led by five points at the final break, but the Dees would have the all-important win to try and reverse the 2019 result at this venue.

While North did all the attacking early in the fourth term, it was Melbourne’s ability to run and find space that was the difference in the end. Every player was in the Kangaroos’ half and it led to an end-to- end play by the Dees for Zanker to be all alone inside 50 to run into an open goal and put the Dees in front by a point. Melbourne had multiple chances to really ice the game over the next few minutes, but could not seem to put through the final dagger as the North defence stood up time and time again.

The Kangaroos kept trying to pump it long out of defensive 50, but the Demons set up behind the ball so every kick down through midfield was being picked off by the experienced Demons defenders. Both teams were desperate and the Roos coughed up another free kick and with 20 seconds remaining, the Demons were able to lock the ball up enough to win the game by just two points in a thrilling contest.

The 2018 Most Valuable Player (MVP), Emma Kearney finished with 20 touches and nine tackles, shaded by Riddell who was arguably the best on the ground after quarter time, racking up 20 disposals, five tackles and booting that timely third quarter goal, while Jenna Bruton laid 11 tackles and was fierce throughout the four quarters. Aside from Hore (13 disposals, two marks, three tackles and two goals) who was outstanding in crunch moments for the Dees, Paxman and O’Dea (both 15 disposals) and Pearce (12 disposals) were terrific.

MELBOURNE 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.3 | 3.4 (22)
KANGAROOS 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 2, E. Zanker.
Kangaroos: K. Ashmore, D. Bateman, A. Riddell.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Hore, D. Pearce, K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, S. Heath, T. Hanks
Kangaroos: A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, D. Hardiman, K. Ashmore

AFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Four new teams begin elite journey

AFTER nine months of waiting, AFL Women’s 4.0 is here and four more teams enter the fray in a bid to take home the 2020 premiership. Adelaide won its second title in three years last season, with the Western Bulldogs the only other premiership winner in the competition. With the Crows wounded and plenty of movement over the off-season for the four news side – Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast – this round is set to answer quite a few questions.

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The opening night of AFL Women’s 4.0 is under lights at Ikon Park with a familiar feel, but a bit of a twist. Yet again, Carlton opens the season, but instead of Collingwood (as it was in the first two seasons), it will now be Richmond – mirroring the AFL Men’s competition season opener. A lot can change in 12 months, and this time last year Carlton was coming off a wooden spoon with a new coach in charge looking for some respect in the competition. Now looking ahead to 2020, the Blues are fresh off a Grand Final appearance and hungry to go one better.

The big question mark for the Blues in this match will be how they go without their inaugural captain in Brianna Davey who switched to Collingwood for a war chest of draft picks. They should not have to look too far for a replacement with Geelong Falcons premiership skipper, Lucy McEvoy immediately entering the fray for her debut alongside Richmond VFLW and former Murray Bushrangers’ utility, Grace Egan. Both provide a hard edge to the side and crack into a team that is hard to find a spot. Their defence is still relatively inexperienced compared to others, so Kerryn Harrington will be crucial in settling them down back there. Interestingly, exciting forward Darcy Vescio has been named in the centre, which makes for a dynamic contest against fellow traditional forward, Katie Brennan.

The Tigers have a tonne of debutants which does not come as a surprise considering it is Richmond’s inaugural match. First year draftees, Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels), Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights) and Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges) headline the young talent, but the depth of the midfield from the likes of Kodi Jacques (Bendigo Pioneers) and Maddy Brancatisano (Northern Knights via Melbourne AFLW) will be great to see. Monique Conti and Christina Bernardi are the class players, and Carlton will need to find a way to limit their influence. In saying that, with Madison Prespakis and Sarah Hosking in midfield, expect the Blues to get on top through the middle with that extra hard edge. Carlton should win this game based on experience and more readymade players, but Richmond should show some fight and give their fans something to smile about for 2020.

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

B: R.Miller 15 G.Seymour 28
HB: S.Sansonetti 18 P.Monahan 2 A.Makur Chuot 34
C: S.Molan 1 K.Brennan – C 3 H.Burchell 9
HF: S.Frederick 14 C.Bernardi 6 T.Stahl 24
F: C.Wakefield 8 L.McClelland 16
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 A.Woodward 13
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 K.Jacques 10 M.Brancatisano 5 H.Whitford 20
Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 E.Wood 17

CARLTON

B: N.Plane 32 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 J.Van Dyk 36
C: S.Hosking 10 D.Vescio 3 C.Dalton 15
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 J.Doonan 26
F: A.Downie 30 B.Walker 14
Foll: B.Moody 16 K.Loynes 2 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: L.Brazzale 12 G.Pound 6 G.Egan 1 L.McEvoy 13 G.Gee 19
Emerg: J.Edwards 25 A.McKay 5

Saturday, February 8

Greater Western Sydney v Gold Coast, Blacktown International Sportspark, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

While these two sides are the newest teams in AFL Men’s, GWS GIANTS are the far more experienced team in AFL Women’s. One of eight inaugural sides in the competition, they welcome the Gold Coast SUNS to the league at Blacktown in a Saturday afternoon blockbuster. While most Victorian fans might be more focused on games either side of his match, the game is expected to answer a lot of questions, particularly about Gold Coast and where they might be at in their preparation for their inaugural season.

The SUNS on paper have talent, it is just trying to piece it all together and gel, which might take some time for it to work. Jamie Stanton remarkably plays in her third inaugural game for a side, having previously represented Brisbane (2017) and North Melbourne (2019). She will need to use all of her experience to lead a young team into battle, with essentially Tiarna Ernst in midfield, Leah Kaslar down forward and Sam Virgo in defence as the others who can provide that extra experience. Former Crows, Sally Riley and Jasmyn Hewett will no doubt give insight into their last club’s success, but the ones to watch are more so the young talent. Alexia Hamilton is a high-flying tall who can take a grab, Lauren Bella is a developing tap ruck, and both Serene Watson and Dee Heslop are talented young defenders who will only get better with more exposure. You cannot discount Hannah Dunn either, with the former Norwood ball winner thrown straight into the midfield.

Bella will have her work cut out for her against arguably the best pure ruck in the competition – Erin McKinnon. She leads a loaded midfield of Rebecca Beeson, new captain Alicia Eva, young gun Alyce Parker, Jes Dal Pos and Nicola Barr. Despite the last minute retirement of Amanda Farrugia, the GIANTS look as strong as ever on paper, with just the question marks coming over whether they can continue their form from last season on a more consistent basis. Pepa Randall is a great asset to have off half-back, and their experienced defence should be able to contain the SUNS like it did against Brisbane in the practice match not long ago. Cora Staunton continues to be a dangerous option wherever she plays, while Haneen Zreika showed promising signs in her games last year. You would imagine the GIANTS will kick their season off with a strong win here, as the SUNS are young and while they will get there, are not quite in the same window as the GIANTS – but watch out when they are fully developed.

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: L.Stephenson 12 T. Hetherington 9
HB: P.Randall 21 E.Brush 10 E.Bennetts 22
C: J.Dal Pos 7 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H. Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 A.Schmidt 11
F: J.Hicks 5 R. Privitelli 19
Foll: E.McKinnon 23 R. Beeson 6 A.Parker 3
I/C: Y.Bonner 27 I.Nielsen 25 J.Allan 39 A.Lister 14 B.Tully 36
Emerg: L. Steane 20 T. Mackrill 32

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 C.Hammond 29
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 M.Ritson 12
HF: B.Perry 16 A.Hamilton 30 P.Parker 1
F: L.Kaslar – C 11 K.Surman 26
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 H.Dunn 24
I/C: S.Watson 14 J.Hewett 20 S.Riley 8 D.Heslop 25 K.Howarth 23
Emerg: T.Thorn 15 M.Roberts 10

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

Two of last season’s most unlucky finals absentees meet in a cross-conference grudge match, as Melbourne and North Melbourne go head-to-head at Casey Fields. One of the inaugural AFLW sides, the Demons will be seeking to add ultimate glory to an already storied history this year, but an opening fixture against one of the flag favourites makes for a tough initiation. While the Dees’ four wins were only good enough for fourth place in Conference A, the Roos’ can count themselves even more unfortunate as two losses at the end of their maiden campaign saw them heartbreakingly miss finals. Still, with a stacked squad and added depth, North Melbourne have a great opportunity to bounce back in 2020 – starting here.

Scott Gowans‘ side fared well in the off-season to bare no major changes, losing only three players to newly-established clubs and bringing in some mature-aged depth come draft time to hint at a real flag tilt. Sarah Wright and Ellie Gavalas are two VFL Women’s standouts who landed on the Roos’ list and are set to debut off the bench on Saturday, adding some grunt to the already hardened North Melbourne midfield led by skipper, Emma Kearney. There may be some goals to make up inside attacking 50 given 2019 equal-leading goalkicker Mo Hope was unceremoniously delisted, but ruck-forward Emma King has shown her worth in front of the big sticks, while Kate Gillespie-Jones is a capable tall foil and Kaitlyn Ashmore could rotate through the forward line from midfield alongside Jasmine Garner. With the midfield battle a relative stalemate, depth across the ground will be key to the cause of either side.

The Dees will be buoyed by the long-awaited return of captain and women’s football pioneer, Daisy Pearce, who is set to be eased in off half-back given her side’s strength through the middle. Her presence in the back five alongside boom recruit, Libby Birch will be important given the danger North’s forward flankers present, with her trademark ball use sure to make a difference. Further afield, and Melbourne is one of the few sides which boasts an engine room to match the grunt of North’s, with Karen Paxman set to lead the line next to Elise O’Dea and young gun, Tyla Hanks while further depth lies on the bench. The forward half was seldom an issue for the Dees last year too, so their even spread points toward a cracking contest. While Melbourne will come in as a slight underdog, the Demons’ experienced movers and the fact they managed just one fewer win than North during last campaign without Pearce means they stand a real chance here, and could become an instant frontrunner in Conference B with a win. But North Melbourne has proven had to look past despite struggling against the top sides, so should come up trumps.

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: G.Colvin 32 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 E.O’Dea 5
I/C: S.Heath 30 M.Gay 3 M.Guerin 22 A.Kemp 36 S.Lampard 8
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 B.Lynch 20
C: J.Trend 21 A.Riddell 7 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 El.King 4
F: Em.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 E.Kearney – C 9
I/C: D.Bannister 2 A.Gilroy 8 D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 E.Gavalas 22
Emerg: N.Bresnehan 12 J.Grierson 19

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

Inaugural AFLW sides and Conference A rivals, Brisbane and Adelaide are primed to kick off their seasons in the Sunshine State, with the visiting reigning premiers out to defend their 2019 flag in 2020. The Crows were nothing short of dominant during last year’s campaign, going down only in the first regular season round before deservedly being crowned premiers in front of an adoring Adelaide Oval crowd – packed to the brim, no less. Adelaide has only added to its already deep squad over the off-season, despite being dealt a cruel blow weeks out with star defender Chelsea Randall ruled out for the year, but will come as the clear competition benchmark. On the other hand, Brisbane struggled throughout 2019 to notch just two wins having been repeatedly depleted throughout the off-season, but can lean on a reliable spine despite another 15-player coming out of its squad.

The Lions will field eight debutants in its Round 1 side, with top draftees and Academy graduates Lily Postlethwaite and Belle Dawes set to make theirs off the interchange bench. The 2018 best and fairest, Kate Lutkins leads the back six alongside mature-age recruit, Cathy Svarc, while skipper and stalwart Emma Zielke lines up on the wing outside of midfield jets, Ally Anderson and Emily Bates. Recent lightning strike survivor Jess Wuetschner will lead the forward line with Sophie Conway bringing some youthful exuberance and Lauren Arnell, the hard-edged experience. The Lions’ inability to put massive scores on the board will need to be rectified given Adelaide’s strength in that area, with added midfield strength – albeit through draftees – key to ensuring the forwards are given enough opportunity.

The Crows have had to adjust heavily, naming five debutants of their own with further injuries seeing the magnets shuffled before Round 1. Angela Foley and Marijana Rajcic will hold up the defence as Ebony Marinoff moves into midfield to replace recovering reigning MVP Erin Phillips, with Randall’s absence leaving a gaping hole in the back five. Stand-in skipper Jessica Foley is set to ruck with Montana McKinnon also unavailable, while a couple of late changes see emergencies Jaimi Tabb and Caitlin Gould slot in as Sophie Li and Courtney Cramey come out. It is a lot to make good for and while if any side has the depth to cover such losses, it is the Crows, Adelaide proved slow starters against a team it would normally beat last year – making for a bad omen. But even so, the Crows’ depth seems enough to overcome the changes, with a wealth of experience and the confidence of a premiership side holding up their chances. The Lions may struggle this season, but expect them to give it a red hot crack early on.

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

B: N.Grider 10 S.Campbell 20
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 C.Svarc 25
C: E.Zielke – C 8 B.Koenen 3 S.Webb 4
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Tawhiao-Wardlaw 30 S.Conway 12
F: D.Davidson 14 J.Wuetschner 23
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: G.Bodey 15 M.Moloney 28 I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6
Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 G.Collingwood 7

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: A.Foley 3 M.Rajcic 32 N.Campbell 20
C: R.Forth 27 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: D.Ponter 15 C.Gum 5 C.Gould 1
F: S.Thompson 14 E.Jones 2
Foll: J.Foley – C 24 A.Hatchard 33 N.Allen 8
I/C: 22 M.Newman 17 A.Considine 16 C.Biddell 12 N.Gore 7 J.Tabb
Emerg: R. Martin, C. Cavouras

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Heading back to Collingwood’s traditional home, the Magpies will no doubt give one of the AFL Women’s newest sides a hostile environment from which to make their debut in the competition. Fresh in supporters minds will be the Eagles’ men’s side triumph a couple of years ago in the AFL Grand Final, and with the new kids on the block entering the Magpies nest, it will certainly be a match to watch. Collingwood has been far from successful so far in its short history, failing to make finals and picking up a wooden spoon each year, leading to a coach change in Steve Symonds. West Coast join Fremantle in the west and picked up a host of recycled players to try and get them off to the best possible start.

For the first time in some time, the Magpies head into a match as favourites, having finished the year on a high last year following a victory over Brisbane. They came close against a number of sides, but showed they were gradually working as a cohesive unit following a massive upheaval over the previous off-season. After targeting youth the year before, the Magpies picked up the recruit of the off-season in Davey, who immediately adds grunt and class to an onball group that lacked a bit of pizazz. Sharni Layton‘s improvement in the ruck has been phenomenal, and along with VFL Women’s leading goal kicker and disposal winner, Jaimee Lambert, the Magpies will back themselves to win against most midfields. The only possibly bigger name to don the black and white this round is Chloe Molloy who returns after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. The 2018 AFL Women’s Rising Star has been named in attack after making her name in defence during that season. With Ash Brazill‘s stunning transformation from netballer to footballer, it has allowed Molloy to play in attack and along with Sarah D’Arcy create some scoring opportunities. Oakleigh Chargers’ speedster Alana Porter makes her debut in the side, so watch for her set of wheels as along with the likes of Sarah Rowe and captain Steph Chiocci, give the Magpies some outside run.

While the Magpies will start favourites, the Eagles have gone about recruiting some important players to their line-up. Former Fremantle star Dana Hooker is every bit an equal to the Magpies’ Davey, while former GIANTS’ onballer Emma Swanson and Lambert will have an equally important head-to-head. Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins will be looked upon to provide some goals, while Talia Radan will try to hold down the defence, with the former Adelaide and Melbourne player amongst a host of young stars. McKenzie Dowrick will be better for last year crossing back to her home state from Queensland, while Mikayla Bowen is as talented as any other player entering the AFL Women’s from the Under 18s last year. Former hockey player, Sophie McDonald has been thrown in the deep end to hold down centre half-back, while former Hawthorn VFL Women’s premiership player and best on ground in the premiership, Chantella Perera also has been named on an extended interchange to make her potential debut. The Eagles will give the Magpies a run for their money, and it would not be a complete shock to see the new side get a win, but the Magpies have built more depth, have more experience and are at home, so expect them to get up in a close one.

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 S.Casey 22
C: M.Shevlin 35 B.Bonnici 8 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: C.Molloy 2 S.D’Arcy 4 S.Dargan 46
F: M.Cann 25 J.Allen 6
Foll: S.Layton 1 B.Davey 3 J.Lambert 13
I/C: E.O’Dea 50 E.Fowler 15 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 S.Rowe 7 E.Hynes 11 A.Sheridan 14

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: M.Dowrick 5 S.McDonald 35 A.Hill 16
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 A.Atkins 9 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 D.Pisconeri 11
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 B.Devlyn 7 C.Perera 27 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32

St Kilda v Western Bulldogs, RSEA Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

St Kilda is set to become the fourth of the expansion clubs to take centre stage in Round 1, facing a tough Conference B initiation against inaugural AFLW club, Western Bulldogs. Fielding a side which combines plenty of experience and a blooding of exciting youth, the Saints will have to work for their maiden elite-level win with the Bulldogs a potential season 2020 climber. Under the guidance of new coach, Nathan Burke and with a number one pick in tow, the Bulldogs are primed to rectify the two-win season which saw them finish last in Conference A.

There could be as many as six Western Bulldogs debutants with draftees Gemma Lagioia and Hannah Munyard among seven players named on an extended bench. Confirmed in the starting line-up are star draftee Gabby Newton and internally-hyped Western product Elizabeth Georgostathis; both primed to initially make an impact up forward, with the potential to move further afield – somewhat in the place or mould of now-Tigers, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti. The pair will join stalwarts Bonnie Toogood and Deanna Berry inside forward 50, with Ellie Blackburn and Isabel Huntington making up the remainder of a very strong spine. The Dogs will lean on those experienced movers to keep themselves in games, but a much-welcomed injection of youth will make them a team which proves easy on the eye.

For the Saints, all three co-captains in Cat PhillipsKate Shierlaw and Rhiannon Watt have been named to lead out the new team, with plenty of recognisable names to keep an eye on among each line. Top five draftee Georgia Patrikios has been named up forward, but will likely drift up to a wing or into the midfield given her undeniable class on the ball, while pre-listed draftee Molly McDonald takes up one of those starting wing spots. With an extended bench of seven also set to be narrowed down, there could be even more pace and young stars to come into the fold immediately. An unknown entity, the Saints should come in with nothing to lose and throw caution to the wind with most expecting the Bulldogs to salute in this fixture. We are in that boat.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: K.O’Neill 20 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: N.Exon 15 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 E.Mackie 3
I/C: N.Von Bertouch 28 P.Kelly 16 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 C.Whitfort 4 N.Xenos 27 A.Brown 2

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: E.Gamble 14 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 N.Callinan 10
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: D.Marshall 26 K.Rennie 24 G.Lagioia 12 H.Scott 22 K.Herron 31 E.Brown 9 H.Munyard 20

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

In the final game of the AFL Women’s Round 1, last year’s preliminary final losers go head-to-head at Fremantle Oval. The Dockers host Geelong with a renewed optimism that they can match it with the top sides in the competition, and it will be a good test to see how they have recovered after being pillaged by West Coast in the off-season. The Cats were up and down last season, but have remained relatively untouched, and should go in as favourites based on the list changes. In a quirk, Mia-Rae Clifford will run out in the purple against her former side following her delisting and then free agency acquirement.

The home side will thrive on running out in front of a home crowd, and have named a number of young stars in the team who will drive the team forward over the next few years. Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan) will captain the side, and alongside partner, Ebony Antonio will try and maintain some balance to a team that has lost a number of quality players, led by the departure of star talent, Hooker. Tackling machine, Kiara Bowers and goal sneak Ashlee Sharp still remain as dangers to any opposition, while Gemma Houghton will have big shoes to fill with Parris Laurie leaving for the Eagles among a number of rucks departing the club. Sabreena Duffy got used to the level by season’s end in 2019, and is a future leader of the club, and now she is joined by a number of talented Under 18s stars. Roxanne Roux is a high-flying forward who will provide plenty of highlights over the next few years, while Mim Strom is an athletic ruck who has developed rapidly. While the Dockers side might have lost some star talent, they have also headed to the draft to pick up some more, and you can imagine they will be competitive in 2020.

Geelong might have stayed relatively untouched over the off-season, but have welcomed back a rising star in Nina Morrison. The number one pick in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft was unbelievable on debut against Collingwood 12 months ago, but then injured her knee and missed the next 12 months. She returns to the Round 1 side and has been named on a wing, hoping to repeat the effort from 2019. She is joined in the midfield by fellow 2018 draftees, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Purcell. Denby Taylor, Rebecca Webster and debutant, Millie Brown are all in the back five, held down by experienced skipper, Mel Hickey. Richelle Cranston has that X-factor about her in midfield, and Georgia Clarke looks set for a role change up forward with the former GWV Rebels’ defender named there with goalkicking machine, Phoebe McWilliams. The Cats will be confident heading into this match, with coach Paul Hood no doubt having them ripe and ready to go after a finals appearance in their inaugural season last year. The road trip can be a challenge, but if you are going to do it, at least they have it first up off a long break.

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

B: J.Cuthbertson 29 L.Pugh 32
HB: A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 E.Antonio 12
C: S.Cain 20 L.Rohde 11 K.Flood 44
HF: K.Grieve 13 A.Sharp 1 H.Miller 19
F: G.O’Sullivan 22 S.Duffy 6
Foll: G.Houghton 27 K.Bowers 2 K.Antonio – C 15
I/C: P.Seth 18 L.Mascall 14 B.Webb 26 R.Roux 17 J.Stewart 7 M.Strom 21 M.Clifford 4

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: D.Taylor 28 M.Hickey – C 18 R.Webster 21
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Cranston 30 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 G.Clarke 17 R.Garing 12
F: P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: A.McDonald 3 G.Rankin 10 A.Teague 40 R.Goring 44 R.Caris 1 M.Maguire 7 M.Keryk 45

ROUND 1 TIPS:

Michael Alvaro [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Taylah Melki [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Sophie Taylor [0]: Richmond / GWS / Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / St Kilda / Fremantle
Peter Williams [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Geelong

2020 AFL Women’s season predictions

WITH the 2020 AFLW season set to commence tomorrow night, we take a look at three potential leading goal kickers, MVPs, premiership favourites and Rising Stars contenders, as well as give our predictions for the season ahead.

Leading goal kickers:

Collingwood – Jaimee Lambert

The talented forward caused many headaches last year with her deceptive speed, strong goal sense and determination. Lambert is a ball magnet in the forward 50 thanks to her sticky hands and skill to get goal side and shoot truly. She is a real excitement machine able to have an impact both in the air and at ground level. Lambert took out the VFLW leading goal kicker in 2019 proving just how dangerous she can be when given time and space to do what she does best and will be looking to bring home the AFLW leading goal kicker title in 2020.

Richmond – Katie Brennan

The key forward will want to make a lasting impact in her new colours and lead from the front with her scoring prowess. The Richmond captain is renowned for her strong leading patterns and strength on the take to reel the ball in despite oncoming pressure. She is relatively accurate in front of goal and has a good turn of speed to attack the goal sticks when need be. Brennan is hard to stop when she is on song able to hit the scoreboard multiple times with her strong marking a key aspect of her game.

Adelaide – Stevie-Lee Thompson

After a stellar 2019 the Crows star will be hoping to back up her performance and make it back-to-back leading goal kicker honours. She is a real livewire at ground level for Adelaide with her smooth pick-ups and electric speed, pair that with her accuracy and Thompson is a dangerous prospect for opposing teams. She is a dynamic mover across the field able to lead up at the footy and take a big grab consistently showcasing her impressive skillset in front of goals.

MVP:

North Melbourne – Emma Kearney

The 2018 MVP will be hoping to back up her stellar past couple of seasons once again in 2020 and guide her side to their inaugural grand final. Kearney can win the ball in any situation able to read the play and constantly get involved. She is a real ball magnet across the field using her on-field leadership to direct traffic and set up both offensively and defensively. She oozes class and composure able to think her way through congestion.

West Coast – Dana Hooker

The former Dockers midfielder made the switch to West Coast and will be hoping to have an immediate impact with her ball winning abilities. She works tirelessly across the field to win the ball at the coalface while her cleanliness with ball in hand puts her in good stead to take out the award. Hooker backs herself in a contest using her footy smarts to out think her opponents while her on-field leadership is another key facet of her game play.

Adelaide – Ebony Marinoff

Marinoff is a physical beast consistently putting her body on the line to win the ball and impose herself on the contest. She is a real leader on the field and will have to stand up in the absence of Phillips and Randall. The Crows star has been a consistent performer unfazed by the physical battle often extracting the ball out of congestion and delivering to teammates in space. She can turn a game on its head able to hit the scoreboard while also get back and do the defensive things well.

Rising Star:

Carlton – Lucy McEvoy:

The former Geelong Falcons captain led from the front throughout her time in the NAB League using her on-field leadership and bullish go-get it attitude to extract the ball time and time again. McEvoy is one of a kind able to slot into any vacant spot on the footy field and fulfil the role to the utmost level thanks to her high level of skill and class with ball in hand. She is a smart player able to think her way through pressure and hit a teammate lace out making her a class above many other. It will be a challenge to play against some of the bigger bodies in the AFLW but if her time in the VFLW is anything to go by it won’t really phase the talented midfielder.

St Kilda – Georgia Patrikios:

Much like McEvoy, Patrikios oozes composure and class able to manoeuvre her way out of traffic and deliver well-weighted handballs to teammates. She works hard to win the ball at the coalface unfazed by the physical nature of the game instead, embracing the contest and nine times out 10 winning it. She is a smooth mover across the field and uses her vision to full effect able to dish off a pass lace out to someone in space. The former Calder Cannons captain is no stranger to the big stage and stands up under pressure making her an exciting prospect for the Saints in 2020.

Brisbane – Lily Postlethwaite

The young Queensland product has skill and class to boot able to weave her way in and out of traffic with ease. The 18-year-old captained Queensland in the AFLW Under 18 Championships and will be looking to bring that natural born leadership to the contest for the Lions. Postlethwaite will offer great versatility to Brisbane with her impressive vision, clean hands and high footy IQ a couple of her main tricks.

Premiership contenders:

Adelaide:

The two-time premiers will be looking to add to their premiership tally in 2020 having tasted success last year. Unfortunately, the Crows have been struck down with a host of injuries with Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall both suffering ACL injuries. But they should not be forgotten about, given their ability to turn games on their head within seconds. Expect the likes of Ebony Marinoff, Courtney Gum and Courtney Cramey to do the damage across the field for the Crows while the likes of youngster Montana McKinnon is another one to keep an eye out.

Carlton:

It would be hard to discount the Blues after making it all the way to the grand final last year and although they lost the likes of Bri Davey over the off-season they have gained another potential rising star in McEvoy. Darcy Vescio and Tayla Harris have proven to be a dynamic duo in the forward 50 with the two able to cause havoc credit to their strong goal sense while through the midfield Maddy Prespakis has been a revelation thanks to her ball winning ability.

North Melbourne:

After a strong showing in the opening half of the 2019 season the Kangaroos fell away when it counted but will be looking to make amends in 2020 and go one better. North definitely, have the star power to take the competition by storm and really announce themselves on the rest of the competition with the likes of Emma Kearney and Emma King at the helm. Throw in the likes of Kaitlyn Ashmore and Jasmine Garner and the Roos will be a hard team to beat throughout the season.

OUR PREDICTIONS:

Michael Alvaro – 2019 Draft Central AFLW Tipping winner
Premier: Adelaide
Runner-up: North Melbourne
Big Improver: Collingwood
MVP: Ebony Marinoff
Leading Goalkicker: Tayla Harris
Rising Star: Gabrielle Newton

Taylah Melki
Premier: North Melbourne
Runner-up: Carlton
Big Improver: Collingwood
MVP: Bri Davey
Leading Goalkicker: Katie Brennan
Rising Star: Georgia Patrikios

Sophie Taylor
Premier: Richmond
Runner-up: Melbourne
Big Improver: Western Bulldogs
MVP: Emma Kearney
Leading Goalkicker: Stevie-Lee Thompson
Rising Star: Lucy McEvoy

Peter Williams
Premier: North Melbourne
Runner-up: Carlton
Big Improver: Western Bulldogs
MVP: Ellie Blackburn
Leading Goalkicker: Emma King
Rising Star: Millie Brown

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: North Melbourne

NORTH Melbourne’s inaugural season may not have gone quite to plan in 2019, though they were not far off the mark with some key signings that marked the Kangaroos as a real force to be reckoned with. This season North will be back better than ever with a season in the books, making them a real contender for the flag. North retained a lot of its 2019 playing list so will hope to create a consistent outcome in its second year.

KEY PLAYER:

Emma Kearney (midfielder)

The Kangaroos captain will want to stand up once again this season, after an exceptional start to the side’s season last year saw them lose focus throughout the season. Kearney has a real clear head on her shoulders with the class and smarts to make something out of nothing. Her leadership is vital for North’s success and will be a real barometer for the side’s success.

RISING STAR:

Mia King (midfielder)

Mia King may not have been North Melbourne’s first pick in the 2019 draft but she is certainly a fantastic addition to the Kangaroos, with the all-rounder North’s first Under 18s selection of the night, credit to her speed and tenacity with ball in hand. King will want to insert herself right into the contest which is arguably where she best fits, bringing the ball to ground and clearing to advantage.

WATCH FOR: 

Jasmine Garner (forward

Garner has the match smarts to outwit many, something she has proven time and time again. The former Collingwood forward is impressive when she gets her hands on the footy, able to find the ball with ease inside 50 and create opportunities for others through her innate knowledge of her teammates. She had a stellar first season with the Shinboners in 2019 so is sure to have a similar impact this time around with her strength and clean hands key for the side’s success.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, Gold Coast, GWS GIANTS, Richmond.

FIXTURE:

Round 1 – @ Melbourne
Round 2 – vs. GWS GIANTS
Round 3 – @ Richmond
Round 4 – vs. Gold Coast
Round 5 – vs. Adelaide
Round 6 – @ Geelong
Round 7 – vs. Western Bulldogs
Round 8 – @ Brisbane Lions

North Melbourne have an interesting fixture, seeing the side only take on two expansion sides and a relatively simple run home. Their season will come into question depending on the form of 2019 premiers, Adelaide, who they will not take on this season but will likely be their biggest conference competition – bar Richmond, who look fairly impressive at this early stage. If North can do what they did last year with percentage but keep up the consistency they should have an a huge chance finals and to go all the way.

PREDICTION: 1st/2nd in Conference A

North Melbourne are a real smoky in 2020, with a chance of going all the way as long as they do not succumb to the same season-ending issues as last season, which saw them go out in disappointing fashion just before finals. Given their ability to create a formidable opposition, North are sure to come into this season with plenty to prove.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: North Melbourne

HAVING made a splash in its inaugural season, North Melbourne had a relatively quiet trade and draft period, retaining the majority of its list and heading to the draft just looking to top up with some readymade talent to go one better than in 2019 and make finals – hopefully pushing for a flag. The Kangaroos lost Jamie Stanton to her third AFL Women’s club, moving back to Queensland to play with the Gold Coast SUNS, whilst Alison Drennan and Courteney Munn returned to their roots by taking up a spot on St Kilda’s inaugural list. The Roos delisted four players, with none bigger than Mo Hope, whose career has been in the spotlight, but now she is taking time off for personal reasons.

In the draft, the Roos pulled a shock selection at Pick 10, taking mature-age midfielder Ellie Gavalas to be the first non top-age selection in the AFL Women’s Draft. Along with Gavalas, the Roos picked up Carlton’s Sarah Wright and from their own backyard, Tahni Nestor, who moved from Hawthorn to Melbourne University over the off-season. A couple of Tasmanians in the incredibly talented Mia King – who arguably could have been a top 10 selection – and Abbey Green who both made their way from Launceston to the Roos under the affiliation with the Apple Isle. The other two inclusions were a couple of Gaelic football converts in Mairead Seoighe and Aileen Gilroy.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Mairead Seoighe, Aileen Gilroy (Gaelic football), Ellie Gavalas (Western Bulldogs VFLW), Sarah Wright (Carlton VFLW), Mia King, Abbey Green (Launceston), Tahni Nestor (Melbourne University)
OUT: Jamie Stanton (Gold Coast), Alison Drennan, Courteney Munn (St Kilda), Mo Hope, Georgia Nanscawen, Maddison Smith, Jessie Williams (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Sophie Abbatangelo
Kaitlyn Ashmore
Daria Bannister
Daisy Bateman
Nicole Bresnehan
Jenna Bruton
Jess Duffin
Jasmine Garner
Ellie Gavalas
Britt Gibson
Kate Gillespie-Jones
Abbey Green
Jasmine Grierson
Chloe Haines
Libby Haines
Danielle Hardiman
Emma Humphries
Emma Kearney
Elisha King
Emma King
Mia King
Taylor Mesiti
Tahni Nestor
Tahlia Randall
Ash Riddell
Jess Trend
Sarah Wright

Rookies: Aileen Gilroy, Beth Lynch, Mairead Seoighe

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Jasmine Grierson – Danielle Hardiman – Jess Trend
HB: Jess Duffin – Tahlia Randall – Britt Gibson
C: Emma Kearney
HF: Daisy Bateman – Jasmine Garner – Sophie Abbatangelo
F: Daria Bannister – Kate Gillespie-Jones – Kaitlyn Ashmore
R: Emma King – Jenna Bruton – Ellie Gavalas
INT: Ash Riddell – Elisha King – Sarah Wright – Mia King – Emma Humphries
EMG: Tahni Nestor – Taylor Mesiti – Nicole Bresnehan

DEPTH: Chloe Haines, Libby Haines, Abbey Green, Beth Lynch*, Aileen Gilroy*, Mairead Seoighe*

North Melbourne is lucky enough to head into season 2020 without any major holes to fill, retaining the majority of its list for the year ahead. They might have had to find another midfielder to slot into that onball role left by Stanton, which is why they recruited Gavalas and Wright, with Mia King in turn also likely to be thrown in there. They could move some of their players from defence or attack into that position, but by recruiting readymade midfielders, it allows the likes of Jess Duffin and Kaitlyn Ashmore to continue to play a role in their respective 50s. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Emma King will rotate from ruck to full-forward, with Jasmine Garner being a workhorse roaming in and out of the forward 50. With so many talented players running around at ground level, the firepower of the Roos is clearly notable.

Whilst the Roos did delist their equal leading goalkicker in Hope, they still have Emma King who will provide a strong marking presence and look to build on her eight majors from 2019. There are not many weaknesses in the line-up, and North Melbourne deserve to be one of the title contenders heading into 2020, with even their depth looking quite impressive and realistically more than 25 players capable of slotting into the starting team when the Roos can only pick 21.

VFLW Preview: Finals Week 2 – Minor premiers look to go one-up

IT is semi-finals week in the VFL Women’s, with Collingwood taking on Western Bulldogs and Southern Saints playing Melbourne Uni. Though these sides now make up the final four for the competition, Collingwood defeated Western Bulldogs convincingly back in Round 7, winning by a whopping 74 points while Southern Saints were similarly dominant in their Round 6 clash with Melbourne Uni, beating the Mugars by 28 points. The winner of the major semi-final will secure a grand final berth while the loser will take on the winner of the minor semi-final. Only one side will be eliminated this round, with either Southern Saints or Melbourne Uni set to miss out after this week.

Collingwood v. Western Bulldogs
Major semi-final – 7/9/19
2.40
Adcon Stadium

The minor premiers will have their work cut out for them this week, with the Bulldogs showing some great form towards the end of the season and showing some great composure against the Tigers under pressure. However, the Magpies have proved time and time again they have the experience and talent to get the job done under pressure and produce impressive margins while they’re at it. Last time they met the Bulldogs only put nine points on the scoreboard so they have plenty to improve on, however they can draw from their late form this season to ensure a better turnout this time around. The key for a Magpies victory is ultimately in the form of Jaimee Lambert, who has been their saving grace time and time again. This means that the Western Bulldogs will not only need to stifle the midfield and force the Pies to go back but also ensure they keep an eye on Lambert and deny opportunities inside 50. For the Magpies, it will be equally important to remember the Dogs have gotten to finals of their own volition and really put some strong teams under the pump despite some of their inconsistent form earlier this season. Big Magpies recruit Bri Davey is back this week for her first match since succumbing to injury in Round 13, meaning the already great impact of Lambert, Britt Bonnici and Chloe Molloy will be heavily bolstered. For the Dogs, Kirsty Lamb and Ellie Gavalas have been impressive this season while young gun Elisabeth Georgostathis has burst onto the scene over the past few weeks with her tenacity and tackling pressure proving the youth of the competition have the ability to line up against some of the best.

Southern Saints v. Melbourne Uni
Minor semi-final – 8/9/19
11.45
Adcon Stadium

Last time these two sides met Melbourne Uni were in the lead for the first half before succumbing to Southern Saints’ impressive defensive unit. While the focus this time around will be to make the most of opportunities and keep hold of the footy, another key to Mugars success is to make full use of their plethora of options inside 50, with many big names able to have an impact at stoppages and create opportunities out of nowhere. For the Saints, their loss to Collingwood in last week’s final was only their third of the season so they will be wanting to fully bounce back this week – meaning the Mugars will need to be at their absolute best to combat their full-field pressure. Something Uni could take advantage of however is the Saints’ inaccuracy in front of goal – an issue they had in their last match back in Round 6 and have had some issues with on and off during the season. If Uni can exploit their run inside 50 and reduce the Saints’ opportunities at goal they could have a real chance of spoiling the party. For the Saints, Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Caitlin Greiser have been dominant this season while Kate Shierlaw has been a solid option forward when taking the field. Co-captain Alison Drennan missed the last battle against the Mugars so will be raring to go after a quiet few weeks. While the Saints have a plethora of options, Melbourne Uni are equally as star-studded with the likes of Jasmine Garner, Jess Duffin and Emma Kearney tearing up the field and a number of players who can go forward and boot goals with accuracy.