Tag: Jenna Bruton

Draft Central 2020 top 50 players: #1 Jasmine Garner

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially coming to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In the final edition of the countdown and taking out the Draft Central Top 50 Players crown, it is no surprise that Jasmine Garner takes the cake after a formidable year in the blue and white stripes. The North Melbourne star had a phenomenal season winning the AFL Players’ Association most valuable player (MVP) award for her efforts while also being named in the All-Australian squad.

#1 JASMINE GARNER

AVERAGES: 20.1 disposals, 4.6 marks, 4.1 inside 50s, 4.7 tackles, 1.1 goals

2020 proved to be the season of Jasmine Garner with the midfielder taking the competition by storm with her brute strength mixed with her finesse. She was simply unstoppable with ball in hand, able to hit a teammate lace-out time and time again and was a real barometer for the side. Garner was a key reason for the Kangaroos’ success throughout the season, guiding them through the challenging moments and most importantly standing up under pressure when it counted.

Constantly hungry for the footy, Garner’s eyes would almost light up when a contest was near, sniffing out the challenge and inserting herself in the battle, often winning the footy and disposing of it effortlessly. Garner was a real workhorse across the ground, not afraid to put her body on the line to win the pill, making her presence felt in every situation possible. Her general football understanding was second to none able to position cleverly to either elicit an attacking foray or drop back to help in defence.

Garner was constantly on the move and looking ahead to create the next play or be the link in transition, often resorting to her solid and sturdy kick to do the damage. She averaged an impressive 20.1 disposals per game credit to her high level of endurance and ability to stay on-ball for large amounts of time. Not only was she clever by foot but so too by hand, able to fire off a handball under pressure or flick it to a teammate in space showcasing not only skill but her spatial awareness.

There is no denying that Garner was a threat in all aspects able to hit the scoreboard with ease averaging a goal a game. She was incredibly crafty inside the forward 50 able to lead up at the footy and take a mark testament to her strong hands while also able to crumb off the ground and find her way to the big sticks. The North Melbourne star proved to be a handful for opposition teams often bursting out of the pack leaving them behind while she ran rampant across the ground.

Her chemistry with teammates Ash Riddell, Emma Kearney and Jenna Bruton also allowed Garner to play her game and help direct traffic whether it be in the middle or at a throw-in. The former Collingwood player has well and truly cemented herself as an integral cog in the Kangaroos outfit as shown in Round 5 where she blew Adelaide out of the water with her explosiveness. Garner shone true in that clash racking up an impressive 24 touches, seven marks and four tackles while nailing two majors to cap off what was a stellar performance by the Draft Central number one.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFL Women’s Players: #11 – Ash Riddell

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look at number 11 in our count, a midfielder whose 2019 season was curtailed by injury but made up for it in a big way in 2020.

#11 ASH RIDDELL

7 GAMES AVE: 21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.6 tackles, 3.9 inside 50s, 1.0 rebounds, 1 goal

Having finally earned her chance after spending time in the VFL Women’s program with Melbourne University, Riddell has played some impressive football in her first nine games at AFL Women’s level. Picked up by North Melbourne in 2019 and making her debut, Riddell burst onto the scene quickly for one of the league’s newest sides.

Unfortunately that dream debut would only last another week, as Riddell would suffer a long-term injury to rule her out of the rest of the 2019 AFL Women’s season. With a strong VFL Women’s season behind her where she averaged 27.6 disposals, 4.2 marks, 5.8 tackles and booted six goals in 10 games, Riddell would enter 2020 fully fit and raring to go.

It showed in her performances as she not only came back where she left off in 2019, but went to another level. Alongside unbelievable talents in Emma Kearney, Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton, Riddell held her own and more as one of the side’s premier ball winners all year. After only playing less than two full games in 2019, Riddell featured in all seven of the Kangaroos’ matches to average 21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.6 tackles and 3.9 inside 50s working hard in the midfield.

Her season earned her a spot on the 2020 AFL Women’s All-Australian team bench, and she finished third in North Melbourne’s best and fairest award – just five and four votes off Garner and Kearney respectively. Her lowest disposal count for the season was 18 against the GIANTS in Round 2, and finished each game with remarkable consistency, including averaging 23 disposals, 4.8 marks and 6.2 tackles in the final three games of the season.

At 24-years-old, Riddell has plenty of improvement left in her, and while the youth coming through are some of the best talent in the league, it shows that before the pathway system were fully developed, there were still plenty of stars biding their time in the state leagues.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #20 – Jenna Bruton

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look number 20 in our count, a hard-working midfielder who is not afraid to burrow in despite her size. 

#20 JENNA BRUTON (NORTH MELBOURNE)

7 GAMES AVE: 17.4 disposals (10.3 contested), 2.1 marks, 5.7 tackles, 3.7 clearances, 1.6 rebound 50s, 2.1 inside 50s

After earning the inaugural North Melbourne best and fairest award to go with All Australian honours, Jenna Bruton had set lofty standards to live up to in 2020. But the diminutive midfielder maintained her outstanding form in a campaign good enough for fourth place in the club best and fairest, and recognition in the extended All Australian squad.

Part of an immensely talented ‘Roos midfield quartet, Bruton was pushed out of the centre circle at times this season upon the return of Ash Riddell, but still managed to have an impact at the stoppages when starting on the outside. Her work rate to impact the play going both ways showed, averaging 17.4 disposals and 3.7 clearances per game while also leading her club for tackles and breaching both arcs regularly.

The 24-year-old has quickly solidified her status as a key member of the Kangaroos’ line-up after crossing from the Western Bulldogs, where she won a premiership in her debut season of 2018. While stars of the competition like Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner may earn most of the plaudits, Bruton’s high-intensity style and work rate help to set a winning tone for what has been a successful expansion side to date.

She may stand at just 158cm, but is usually hard to miss as she buzzes around the ground and crashes in for the ball, with her impact on the contest often right up there with the best. That is where Bruton will aim to get, excelling from providing a supporting cast role to being one of the elites.

 

Prespakis claims best and fairest in second season

CARLTON’S Madison Prespakis has capped off a remarkable 2020 AFL Women’s season by taking out the League Best and Fairest Award at tonight’s W Awards ceremony. While the feeling amongst the room might have been different compared to a packed house at a gala event, Prespakis and the other winners were no less deserving of their awards.

The second-year dynamo has collected just about every award there is to collect, already being a dual best and fairest, dual All-Australian and Rising Star winner. The former Calder Cannons skipper and top five pick has not put a foot wrong in two seasons with the Blues, averaging 20.1 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.1 tackles and booting 10 goals across 16 games.

Prespakis won the award with 15 votes with Fremantle Dockers star Kiara Bowers just three votes behind. In at third was the Kangaroos’ Emma Kearney on 11 votes while Anne Hatchard and Jenna Bruton managed 10 votes apiece to round out the top five.

The awards did not stop there with former number one pick Isabel Huntington taking out the Rising Star award. Huntington might be the feel-good story of the 2020 W Awards. Having to overcome various injury setbacks including long-term knee injuries, Huntington repaid the faith the Bulldogs showed in her by selecting her with Pick 1 back in the 2017 AFL Women’s Draft. She had only managed the five games prior to 2020, but doubled that amount this year and averaged 13.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 2.6 tackles and 3.4 rebounds. It was enough for her to earn All-Australian honours this year.

Caitlin Greiser has known since the season’s conclusion that she would receive the Leading goal kicker award, booting 10 goals in her debut season. The former Western Jets talent missed out on being drafted when she played as an overager, but then crossed from Melbourne University to Southern Saints where coach Peta Searle saw enough to offer her a senior list spot. Coming from a soccer background, Greiser did not look overawed on the big stage, with a season-best three majors against Richmond, and the winning goal against Melbourne to spur the Saints onto victory in both those matches.

Announced the night before, the other major achievement bestowed upon 21 of the league’s finest was the All-Australian team. The team featured 11 debutants in Sarah Allen (Adelaide Crows), Libby Birch (Melbourne), Isabelle Huntington (Western Bulldogs), Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood), Olivia Purcell (Geelong Cats), Caitlin Greiser (St Kilda), Kate Hore (Melbourne), Sharni Layton (Collingwood), Kalinda Howarth (Gold Coast SUNS), Alyce Parker (GWS GIANTS) and Ash Riddell (North Melbourne). Along with the debutants, two players maintained their unbeaten streak in the league’s best side with Karen Paxman (captain) and Emma Kearney (vice-captain) handed leadership roles for making a remarkable fourth-straight team.

The full team is below:

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #6 – Demons cause opening round upset over flag favourites

COMING in at number six of our Top 10 count of the best AFL Women’s games for season is the Demons first round win over premiership favourites North Melbourne in a nail-biting contest at Casey Fields. Here’s how we recalled the game:

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

2020 AFL Women’s season review: North Melbourne

NORTH MELBOURNE was perhaps the side most unlucky to miss finals last year after a scintillating start to life in the AFL Women’s competition, but bounced back beautifully in 2020 to finish top of Conference A at 5-1. Coach Scott Gowans proclaimed his side was in the premiership window during preseason and the Roos’ mature-age heavy draft haul backed that statement up before another impressive on-field campaign. With four All-Australian squad members littered across a talent-rich side, the Kangaroos were one of the final four flag fancies before the season was cut short. Relive the highs and lows of North Melbourne’s second AFLW tilt, with a nod to its most outstanding players.

RECORD: 1st (A), 5-1 (1-0 finals), 227.2%

RESULTS:

R1: lost to Melbourne by 2 points
R2: defeated GWS by 18 points
R3: defeated Richmond by 56 points
R4:
defeated Gold Coast by 13 points
R5:
defeated Adelaide by 42 points 
R6:
defeated Geelong by 46 points
SF: defeated Collingwood by 2 points

A shock Round 1 loss to Melbourne was far from the ideal start North Melbourne would have been after, but perhaps served as an omen given how 2019 premier, Adelaide also went undefeated after losing in its opening fixture last year. From that point, the Kangaroos were near-flawless in dismantling their next six opponents, with three wins over 42 points and only one side getting within a two-goal margin. North’s many avenues to goal made them one of the league’s most dominant attacking threats, with no score falling below five goals after Round 1 with service from a dominant midfield.

SEASON HIGH: Finals glory… just

It is not to say that North Melbourne was not made to earn any of its regular season victories, but having done so with such ease at times, the Kangaroos’ epic two-point win over Collingwood in their semi-finals clash had hearts racing. Down by almost two goals at the main break, the valiant Roos rallied to get the jump heading into the final break and held on in a nail-biting fourth term to win through to the would-be preliminary finals. An instant classic, against a foundation team no less.

SEASON LOW: The Round 1 boilover

With this the sole blemish on North Melbourne’s record for the year, it was a relatively straightforward choice to be the Roos’ low point. But if there is ever a good time to lose, it proved to be in Round 1 for the Kangaroos, with the entire regular season left to make up the points and fulfil their pre-season plaudits. After bouncing to an early lead and again snatching it at three quarter time, North were jumped in a tense final term as Melbourne proved it would also be a contender in 2020.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Jasmine Garner (20.1 disposals, 4.6 marks, 4.7 tackles, 3.4 clearances, 1.6 rebound 50s, 4.1 inside 50s, 335 metres gained, 8 goals)

Earned the AFLW Most Valuable Player (MVP) award today after a career-best campaign where she led the competition for marks, and her club for contested possessions, score involvements, and inside 50s. Having levelled up her endurance, Garner made the switch to midfield and proved a game-breaker, able to find bucketloads of the ball and still hit the scoreboard as one of the league’s most damaging players.

Emma Kearney (20.6 disposals, 3.4 marks, 4.4 tackles, 4.1 clearances, 2 rebound 50s, 4.1 inside 50s, 354 metres gained, 3 goals)

The skipper was at her reliable best in 2020 and while she may have proven animated in the face of opposition attention, was supported well through the engine room throughout another strong season. Seldom is Kearney kept out of the contest, and even when she was not having her usual impact on the ball, found a way to have a say – as proven in her three-goal effort against Richmond. The one-time league best and fairest is going nowhere, and remains one of the true elites.

Ash Riddell (21.3 disposals, 3.3 marks, 4.6 tackles, 4.3 clearances, 1 rebound 50, 3.9 inside 50s, 359 metres gained)

After suffering a long-term injury in just her second AFLW appearance last year, Riddell returned with a clean bill of health and had an enormous impact on North Melbourne’s midfield. An absolute ball magnet, the diminutive mover led her side for disposals, clearances, and metres gained from a host of capable teammates, earning All Australian squad recognition in the process. Proved she was more than just fold for Kearney and Garner in the engine room.

Jenna Bruton (17.4 disposals, 2.1 marks, 5.7 tackles, 3.7 clearances, 1.6 rebound 50s, 2.1 inside 50s)

Another zippy small among North Melbourne’s midfield brigade this season was Bruton, who despite her 158cm frame, brought the heat at stoppages as a reliable two-way outlet in the engine room. The fourth of North’s All-Australian squad members, Bruton covered plenty of ground in 2020 and impressively led the Kangaroos for tackles and intercept possessions in another consistent year – her third at the elite level and second at Arden Street.

Kaitlyn Ashmore (7.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.9 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 9 goals)

The inaugural Brisbane Lions forward stood out as North Melbourne’s leading goalkicker in 2020 with a career-high haul of nine majors across all seven games. A dangerous figure inside 50 who simply makes things happen, Ashmore proved her nous around the big sticks with bags of three and four goals this year, but was rubbed out for most of the game against GWS with concussion. Has sticky hands and great goal sense, making her a pleasure to watch.

THE SHREWD RECRUIT:

Ellie Gavalas (13.3 disposals, 1.9 marks, 5.4 tackles, 2.1 clearances, 3 inside 50s, 232 metres gained)

North Melbourne turned heads by selecting the 24-year-old with pick 10 in last year’s draft on the back of just one (albeit outstanding) VFLW campaign, but the Tasmanian repaid the faith in spades with a terrific debut season. A round-ball convert, Gavalas steadily acclimatised to the Kangaroos’ midfield, becoming a reliable figure at the stoppages who possesses clean hands and a hard edge. Kicked her first goal in the final game of the season – not for a lack of trying – as great reward for effort.

THE UTILITY:

Kate Gillespie-Jones (12 disposals, 2.9 marks, 4 tackles, 2.4 hitouts, 2.4 inside 50s, 3 goals)

Dominant key position players take time to develop, and after making great strides upon making the switch to Arden Street last year, Gillespie-Jones furthered her reputation in 2020. The 179cm utility was employed mostly as a forward target across all seven games, but enjoyed stints further afield and in the ruck to highlight her flexibility. Her three goals, all in seperate games, made for a career-best haul, with the tall’s work to follow-up her improving aerial efforts compounding her influence on games. Combined well with Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo inside 50.

VERDICT:

The Kangaroos are an experienced and hardened unit which could well have taken out this year’s premiership. While we will never know what could have been, one thing that remains almost certain is that this side will remain a contender in 2021. Boasting one of the league’s best midfields and a forwardline with multiple prongs, there is a lot to like about the Kangaroos going forward.

Magpies and Roos to make AFL Women’s finals debut in do-or-die semi-final

THE extraordinary 2020 AFL Women’s season has had another major twist, with the AFL awarding Collingwood their maiden finals berth. Despite holding a 4-2 record and boasting a strong percentage of 153.7, the Magpies finished in Conference B’s fourth position. Under the AFLW system in normal circumstances, this would mean they miss the finals. However, due to the shortened home and away season, the powers that be have extended the finals series so that the top four teams in each conference can compete for the premiership. This all leads us to Ikon Park on Saturday, when North Melbourne will take on Collingwood in a fascinating semi-final.

North Melbourne v.  Collingwood
Saturday, 21 March, 12.40pm AEDT
IKON Park

Although Collingwood players and fans are ecstatic with the AFL’s decision, they also know they have a tough matchup on their hands. North Melbourne have the second-best record in AFL Women’s, have not lost since round one and have dominated each of their opponents since then. Both sides are coming off strong away victories last week, with the Roos taking care of Geelong and the Magpies winning comfortably in Brisbane. North and Collingwood are yet to clash so far in 2020.

The Roos have arguably the best two players in AFLW right now: Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney. These two had remarkably similar averages of 21 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal per game through the home and away season. Collingwood will have to shut down one, if not both of these stars if they are any chance of progressing further in this finals series. Kaitlyn Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo are major threats for the Roos up forward with their ruthless pressure and ability to impact the scoreboard. Ash Riddell and Jenna Bruton continue to find plenty of the ball, while ruckman Emma King has shown the ability to give her star midfielders first use.

Collingwood star Jaimee Lambert has been impeccable through the 2020 season, averaging 22 disposals (12 contested), seven tackles, four inside 50s and a goal per game. This will be Lambert’s first AFLW final, so she would love to prove she is a big-game performer by producing her best on Saturday. Midfielders Brianna Davey and Brittany Bonnici were fantastic against Brisbane last weekend, while Chloe Molloy has been dynamic for the Magpies in attack all season. In the absence of Ash BrazillStacey Livingstone continues to be calm and composed with the ball in hand, which is an important skill to have under finals pressure.

As simple as it sounds, this match will be decided in the midfield. If Bonnici, Davey and Lambert can consistently match it with Garner, Kearney and Riddell at the contest, then Collingwood could cause a major upset. If the Roos’ midfield is dominant akin to the last five weeks, they will be very hard to stop.

Prediction: This contest will be tight early, but North’s star power should prove too much as the game wears on. North Melbourne by 23 points.

 

Follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter

2020 AFLW weekend wrap: Round 6 – GIANTS, Blues consolidate finals chances

GWS and Carlton notched huge wins against fellow AFL Women’s finals hopefuls to consolidate their own finals chances in Round 6 of the competition, with reigning premier Adelaide dealt a blow in its premiership defence. Meanwhile, both conference leaders enjoyed wins to continue on their road to the post-season, Collingwood remained in the hunt, while expansion sides Gold Coast and St Kilda both also won out convincingly. In our Match of the Round, Carlton overcame Melbourne in a crucial win in the Top End.

GEELONG 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 10.6 (66)

Peter Williams

North Melbourne has overcome a slow start to run over the top of Geelong in the Friday night fixture at GMHBA Stadium. As the only game allowing fans into the venue for the weekend amid growing fears with the Coronavirus, the Cats put on a show early, booting the only two goals of the first term through Phoebe McWilliams and All-Australian defender, Meg McDonald. By the time Julia Crockett-Grills had converted the Cats’ third major just 62 seconds into the second term, the home team led 3.1 to 0.2 and an upset was brewing. Little did the fans that did turn up know, the visiting team was about to click into gear. While Olivia Purcell again attacked the scoreboard for a behind in the fourth minute, that would turn out to be the last score of the game for the Cats, as the Roos piled on 10.4 to 0.0 over the next hour to completely run away with the match and win by 46 points. Jasmine Garner booted three goals and Brittany Gibson two, with the premiership favourites taking a while, but finally finding their groove in the 10.6 (66) to 3.2 (20) triumph on the road.

Garner finished with 18 disposals, six marks, six tackles and five inside 50s to go with her three goals, while Gibson made the most of her four touches, booting two goals from two marks. In terms of disposals, Ash Riddell continued her fine form with a match-high 23, as well as five marks, three inside 50s and seven tackles. Former Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, Emma Kearney was prominent again thanks to 22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, six inside 50s and five rebounds. Jenna Bruton (21 disposals, seven tackles and three inside 50s) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, two marks, four tackles and four inside 50s) were busy, while Mia King booted her first AFL Women’s career goal to go with her 12 touches and seven tackles.

For the Cats, Purcell amassed 18 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s, McDonald had the 14 touches, five marks, three rebounds and a goal, while Amy McDonald had 13 disposals, two marks and four tackles. Also amongst the more prominent ball winners were Crockett-Grills (12 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Danielle Higgins (12 touches, three marks and four tackles) and Madeline Keryk (12 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds). Unfortunately for the Cats, the loss was further soured by a serious knee injury to Nina Morrison with fears that she had done a second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the same right leg. The result meant the Roos stretched their lead out to six points a the top of Conference A, with Geelong’s finals hopes coping a knock to sit four points, percentage and a game behind the top three sides.

GOALS:

Geelong: J. Crockett-Grills, P. McWilliams, M. McDonald.
North Melbourne: J. Garner 3, B. Gibson 2, D. Bateman, S. Abbatangelo, K. Gillespie-Jones, E. King, M. King.

BEST:

Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, M. McDonald, R. Cranston, R. Garing
North Melbourne: J. Garner, A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, M. King

BRISBANE LIONS 0.1 | 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 | 3.7 | 3.10 | 5.13 (43)

Ryan Dundas

Although Coronavirus halted the fans, Collingwood could not be stopped as they conquered the Brisbane Lions. The last time these two sides met saw the Magpies deny Brisbane finals football and there was a sense of déjà vu for Craig Starcevich’s side as Collingwood cemented early pressure. The Pies were able to control the contested possessions, allowing their side to take an early 15-point lead in the opening term. Led by Brittany Bonnici, a bunch of Magpies were instrumental in providing inside 50s for Collingwood, while seconding to stifle the Lions’ defence. Bonnici was threatening around the contest, offering the Pies options all over the ground. Collingwood’s dictating was not stopped as they kept Brisbane scoreless in the second term.

Down by 24 points at half-time, Brisbane came out strong in the second half and rallied momentum to only trail at the final break by 14. However, the damage was already done as Collingwood controlled the final term to win 5.13 (43) to 2.2 (14). Two consecutive wins for the Magpies ensure they are still in the hunt for a finals berth in the AFLW competition. Conversely, Brisbane’s loss opens the door now for the Gold Coast Suns to obtain the final spot in Conference A.

Bonnici was outstanding in the midfield for Collingwood, recording 26 disposals, three marks and three tackles. Undoubtedly, the best player on the ground, her stocks continue to rise in the AFLW. Sarah D’Arcy‘s willingness to find opportunities in the forward line was also one of Collingwood’s vital strengths against Brisbane. Although 1.4 is not her peak, her best work came off the ball, creating openings for her teammates. Similarly, on the defensive end, Steph Chiocci’s impact against Brisbane influenced the momentum away from the Lions with 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles. For the Brisbane Lions, Rheanne Lugg (18 disposals and eight marks) stepped up in a side that was outplayed by the Collingwood Magpies. Along with her, Sophie Conway in the second half was one of the best players on the ground with 11 disposals and two marks.

GOALS:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, C. Svarc
Collingwood: S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Alexander, J. Membrey

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, R. Lugg, S. Conway, C. Svarc
Collingwood:
S. D’Arcy, B. Bonnici, B. Davey, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Lambert

ST KILDA 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)
RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

Tom Cheesman

“The G-Train” Caitlin Greiser led St Kilda to a dominant 39-point victory over the struggling Richmond at RSEA Park on Saturday. Greiser was unstoppable up forward while Richmond were held to just three points for the match, the lowest score ever recorded in AFLW. It has been a disappointing debut AFLW season for the Tigers, who are yet to record their first win and sit with a lowly percentage of 35.7. St Kilda dominated all the key stats including disposals (206-144), clearances (32-15), contested possessions (106-81) and inside 50s (29-19).

Greiser got the Saints off to a dream start, earning a free kick deep in the forward 50 and kicking her side’s first major. Round 5 Rising Star nominee Olivia Vesely was clean at the clearances early, while Clara Fitzpatrick took some nice intercept marks in defence. Greiser’s second gave the Saints a two-goal lead at the first break. Both teams went goalless in the second term, as Richmond did well to lock it in their forward 50 but could not impact the scoreboard. Sabrina Frederick earned two set shots on goal but failed to convert. With fans locked out due to the coronavirus, both sides’ benches made as much noise as possible to help support their sides.

In the third, the Saints got back to applying strong forward pressure while Richmond struggled to transition the ball past the centre of the ground. Greiser kicked her third before Kate Shierlaw got on the end of some great run and carry from Georgia Patrikios to put through their fourth. St Kilda’s dominance at the contest continued in the last as they ran away to a comfortable victory. Greiser was a clear best on ground with three goals, three marks and four tackles. Meanwhile, Rosie Dillon (17 disposals, seven tackles) and Vesely (16 disposals, five tackles) were very impactful at the clearances. For Richmond, Monique Conti was far and away their strongest performer with 22 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser 3, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, N. Xenos
Richmond: Nil

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, R. Dillon, N. Xenos, C. Fitzpatrick, O. Vesely
Richmond: M. Conti, G. Campbell, S. Frederick

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 | 4.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)
FREMANTLE 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)

Lachie Abbott

Fremantle remain undefeated after edging out the Western Bulldogs by 15 points in a high scoring contest at Whitten Oval. The Dockers trailed by four points at three-quarter-time, but rallied to kick four goals, while the Bulldogs could only manage one in the final term.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bulldogs were unable to call upon the support of their home fans to get them off to a flying start, as organisers have closed all AFLW matches from crowds. Nevertheless, the Dogs got off to a strong start with a linking chain of handballs through the centre corridor, with the run of Katy Heron eventually allowing Ellie Blackburn to kick the opening goal of the match.

Hannah Munyard added a second major on the back of a lovely checkside pass from Kirsten McLeod and it was clear the Dogs were up for the fight. However, the Dockers soon showed why they are undefeated and hit back through a strong Kara Antonio mark and set shot, set up by the run of Gemma Houghton from the wing. The Dogs were potent using handballs to drive attacks off half-back through the centre of the ground, whereas the Dockers preferred to keep the ball out of the corridor and utilised their foot skills along the boundary line.

Blackburn began the second term as she finished the first, receiving a handball and firing home from 40 metres to add the much needed classy tough to the Dogs play. The Bulldogs’ defence struggled at times to escape the pressure of Fremantle’s forwards, resulting in several opportunities for the potent Dockers attack, including one set shot for Hayley Miller to cut the margin to four points.

Also up forward for the Dockers, Ashley Sharp was a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs defence for the entirety of the game, scoring multiple opportunistic goals. Laura Pugh added another for the Dockers just before the break after a penetrating inside 50 from Antonio spilled her way. Heading into the main interval, it was the Dockers who had recovered to lead by four points and look ready to break the game open in the second half.

Yet once the second stanza got underway, it was the Dogs who broke the game open. Unfortunately for Katie-Jayne Grieve, she was completely to blame for the first goal of the Dogs’ third-quarter rally, giving away a free kick and two 50-metre penalties to allow an easy goal for the dominant Aisling McCarthy.

Later in the term, McLeod, despite only having six touches for the day, was extremely effective when she got the ball in her hands. The small forward snapped her second major midway through the term to extend the lead back to 10 points with a classy finish. Deanna Berry then added another and suddenly, it looked like the one-win Bulldogs may run away with the match. However, the Dockers roared back into life to kick the last two goals of the quarter through a dribbling Mia-Rae Clifford finish and a strong contested mark from Sharp, on the back of outstanding forward pressure.

With it all to play for at the start of the final term, Ebony Antonio stood up when she was needed most, slotting a classy goal in the early stages of the quarter. Antonio feigned to give off the handball- selling two defenders- before cutting to her right and finishing with poise on the run. Antonio continued to play an inspired final quarter, laying crunching tackles and later drifting back behind the play and taking some important contested marks.

Danielle Marshall responded for the Dogs after almost ruining a golden goal-scoring opportunity by kicking into Kiara Bowers on the mark. Luckily for Marshall, the ricochet fell back into her arms and the American managed to finish from a tight angle. But that was as good as it got for the Bulldogs, and soon after a strong mark from Clifford set up her second. Almost two minutes later, a strong contest from Grieve in the goal square allowed Kate Flood to poke home from close range and suddenly the Dockers had a two goal cushion.

With little time left, the Bulldogs pressed up the field in search of a much needed second major of the term. However, a burst forward on the wing from Houghton made use of the now vacant space in behind the Dogs defence. Sharp knocked Houghton’s kick towards goal and used blistering speed to seal the match. The Dockers defended well in the closing moments to not allow the Bulldogs any clean possession and ultimately claimed their sixth win of the season in a thrilling encounter.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, E. Blackburn 2, H. Munyard, D. Marshall, A. McCarthy, D. Berry.
Fremantle: A. Sharp 3, M. Clifford 2, L. Pugh, K. Flood, E. Antonio, K. Antonio, H. Miller.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, A. McCarthy, G. Newton, I. Huntington, H. Munyard, K. McLeod
Fremantle: E. Antonio, K. Bowers, K. Antonio, A. Sharp, H. Miller, M. Clifford

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.2 (26)

Michael Alvaro

GWS dealt a crushing blow to Adelaide’s premiership defence on Sunday, knocking over the reigning premiers by five points in a thriller at Hisense Stadium. The GIANTS came up clutch in the low-scoring contest, quickly rectifying an early deficit and holding off the Crows’ last-ditch effort to run out 4.2 (26) to 3.3 (21) victors. Not only does the win mean GWS is in the box seat to secure a finals berth, but it was also the GIANTS’ first-ever AFLW victory over Adelaide.

Fresh off a match winning four-goal haul against Richmond, Cora Staunton picked up right from where she left off in Round 5 by floating through the game’s opening goal. But the Crows would work to even the ledger and sneak ahead late in the first term, with the impact of a returning Erin Phillips proving vital. The two-time AFLW best and fairest winner had a hand in both of her side’s goals for the term; hitting Courtney Gum lace out on the lead, and later belting a stoppage clearance towards the goalsquare to be pounced on by Marijana Rajcic and give the home side ascendancy.

Both sides’ maturity shone through as the tackling pressure and physicality of the contest lifted in response to the tightness of the scoreboard, and it showed with only two goals notched for the entire second and third quarters. They both belonged to the GIANTS, who put their noses in front as Jodie Hicks finished well on the end of a slick chain inside forward 50, and extended their lead via a 50-metre penalty to Brittany Tully in the following term. The GIANTS’ ball movement looked to have lifted, remaining composed in the face of some fierce pressure while inflicting some serious tackling of their own.

The last term began much like the first, with Staunton again earning a free kick and for the second time, wobbling home a six-pointer to lift her side. Holding a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, GWS ensured it would stay on top with much of the same lockdown defensive work. Adelaide’s last roll of the dice came 90 seconds from the final siren as Gum marked strongly close to goal and duly converted the set shot. But the Crows’ attempts to blow down the door came up short as the GIANTS’ defence proved just that, helping them claim a second-consecutive victory.

Alyce Parker was instrumental in GWS’ success, collecting a mammoth 30 disposals and seven marks against some seasoned opponents in midfield. Rebecca Beeson and Tait Mackrill each had 20 touches, while Staunton (12 disposals, six marks, 2.1) and Elle Bennetts (16 disposals, three marks) were terrific as the GIANTS’s bookends. For Adelaide, the midfield combination of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff again proved potent as the pair combined for 41 disposals and 17 tackles, with the pacy Justine Mules also pitching in on the tackling front. The supporting hand of Erin Phillips was also impactful early on, as the champion finished with 13 disposals and three tackles in just her second game for the season.

Sitting pretty at 4-2 and in second place among the Conference A contenders, the GIANTS are now primed for finals with games against the lower-ranked Geelong and Western Bulldogs to come. On the other hand, Adelaide faces a fight to stay alive in season 2020, sixth in Conference A but with fixtures awaiting against expansion sides, Gold Coast and Richmond.

GOALS:

Adelaide: C. Gum 2, M. Rajcic
GWS: C. Staunton 2, J. Hicks, B. Tully

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, C. Gum, C. Biddell, A. Foley
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, T. Mackrill, B. Tully, E. Bennetts, C. Staunton

WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.2 (8)
GOLD COAST SUNS 1.2 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

Taylah Melki

It was a convincing performance by the Suns who had control from the get go holding the Eagles goalless for the first three quarters before finally slotting one in the last term. West Coast simply could not generate any forward ball movement mainly in part to Gold Coasts efficiency with ball in hand and ability to shut down options across the ground. Despite having more inside 50s (29-26) the Eagles could not buy a goal showing just how strong the Suns defence was, consistently standing up under pressure and working the ball out of danger areas. Gold Coast pretty much cruised to victory never really challenged on the scoreboard by their opposition and while they lost the possession count and marks tally the Suns somehow managed to assert themselves on the game and claim a 25-point win.

The inaugural captain once again led from the front bullying her way through the packs and applying a wealth of physical pressure with six tackles. Dana Hooker was head and shoulders above the rest racking up 31 touches with 22 of them kicks showcasing her ability to find a target and hit them lace out while also taking six marks in what was a complete performance from the highly talented mid. Imahra Cameron also plied her trade across the ground with 20 disposals while Belinda Smith was constantly involved in the contest with her 18 possessions, three tackles and four marks. Although Hayley Bullas did not win a heap of the footy racking up 10 touches for the game she was the sole goalscorer for the Eagles proving her influence. The reliable Kellie Gibson was up to her usual tricks with 18 disposals while Emma Swanson was not far behind with 16 and five tackles. Despite not being able to post a competitive total the Eagles have plenty of stars that have shown with more time to gel as a side could become a damaging side.

It is fair to say that the ball was relatively evenly shared across the Gold Coast side with 12 players reaching double figures however it was Kate Surman that racked up the most touches of anyone in her squad with 20. Draftee Dee Heslop highlighted her ferocity at the contest multiple times throughout the match with a game high 10 tackles. Fellow youngster Serene Watson also made a lasting impression on the Eagles racking up the touches across the ground with 15 while Jacqui Yorston also inserted herself on the match with nine tackles and 12 disposals. Jamie Stanton, Hannah Dunn and Lauren Aherns managed 16 possessions apiece with the trio creating plenty of excitement with their clever ball use. But when it came to goal kickers, Kalinda Howarth proved to be the go to girl slotting an impressive four goals with two of them coming in the third quarter. Jordann Hickey rounded out the other scorer for the day nailing a major during the second term to help set up the Gold Coast win.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 4, J. Hickey
West Coast: H. Bullas

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Surman, K. Howarth, S. Watson, J. Yorston, J. Stanton
West Coast: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, I. Cameron, B. Smith, K. Gibson

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

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

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

Taylah Melki

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

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

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

Tip: 

GEELONG

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

Emerg: N.Garner 22 R.Goring 44

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

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: D.Bannister 2 E.Humphries 6

In: None
Out: None

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

Sophie Taylor 

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

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

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

Tip: Brisbane by 14 points.

BRISBANE

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

Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 S.Priest 19

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

COLLINGWOOD

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

Emerg: K.Stratton 41 S.Dargan 46

In: None
Out: None

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: St Kilda by 29 points.

ST KILDA

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

Emerg: E.Mackie 3 K.O’Neill 20

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

RICHMOND

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

Emerg: L.Bailey 12 E.Wood 17

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

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: Melbourne by five points.

MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 G.Colvin 32

In: None
Out: None

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 J.Doonan 26

In: None
Out: None

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

Tip: Fremantle by 21

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

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

FREMANTLE

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

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

Tip: Adelaide by 18

ADELAIDE

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

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

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

Tip: Gold Coast by 13

WEST COAST

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

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

GOLD COAST

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

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

ROUND 6 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

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

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

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

Friday, February 28

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

Taylah Melki

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

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

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

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

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

Emerg: E.Hynes 11 K.Stratton 41

In: K.Lynch
Out: K.Stratton

MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 B.Tarrant 20

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

Saturday, February 29

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

Taylah Melki

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

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

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

Tip: Richmond by 5 points.

RICHMOND

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

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

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

GEELONG

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

Emerg: G.Rankin 10 C.Blakeway 4

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

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: E.Humphries 6 B.Lynch 20

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

GOLD COAST

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

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

In: None
Out: None

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: Bulldogs by 16 points.

WEST COAST

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

Emerg: K.Orme 32 K.Bartlett 20

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 A.Van Oosterwijck 28

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

Sunday, March 1

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: Adelaide by 12 points.

ADELAIDE

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

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

CARLTON

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

In: C.Wilson, C.Jones
Out: None

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

Tom Cheesman

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

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

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

Tip: Fremantle by 11 points.

ST KILDA

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

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

FREMANTLE

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

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

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

TIP: Brisbane by 15 points.

BRISBANE

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

In: J.Wuetschner, T.Hickie
Out: None

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

In: T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: None

ROUND 4 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

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