Tag: Jess Fitzgerald

2022 AFLW early look: Western Bulldogs

IN an early look at the upcoming AFL Women’s 2022 season, Draft Central checks out each of the 14 clubs over the next three weeks ahead of preseason commencing. Wrapping up the series is Western Bulldogs, who finished narrowly outside the top six, four points and percentage behind, but strung four wins together early in the year.

LAST SEASON:

Position: 8th
Wins: 5
Losses: 4
Draws: 0
Points For: 300 (9th)
Points Against: 340 (9th)

No doubt Western Bulldogs fans might have wondered ‘what if?’ they had been able to knock off St Kilda in the opening round of the season, instead going down by nine points, They got on a roll to win the next four games – including a memorable 13-point win over the Demons – before having a couple of wakeup calls against Collingwood (in the second half) and Adelaide which hurt their percentage. A narrow loss to North Melbourne in Round 7 effectively handed the Roos sixth spot, though the young Pups showed they have plenty to look forward to in the coming years.

OFF-SEASON:

Ins: Elle Bennetts (GWS), Richelle Cranston (Geelong), Amanda Ling (Oakleigh Chargers), Aurora Smith (Murray Bushrangers), Elizabeth Snell (Bendigo Pioneers)
Outs: Angelica Gogos, Lauren Spark, Amelia Van Oosterwijck (retired), Katy Herron, Danielle Marshall, Kim Rennie (delisted)

Inactive: Nil.

The Western Bulldogs were able to have a relatively low-key off-season in terms of movement, with Elle Bennetts being the only trade target coming into the club, welcoming the outside runner from the GIANTS and shuffling back down the pick order. There they were able to make three selections in five picks to welcome in some young troops to replace the outgoing retirees and delistees. Katy Herron and Danielle Marshall were two of the three delisted players, with the latter in particular a surprising cut, with Kim Rennie unable to get a deal done to the Roos in trade week, and instead was picked up by North Melbourne in the AFLW Draft. Three players retired with Angelica Gogos and Lauren Spark having memorable careers, whilst youngster Amelia Van Oosterwijck also decided to call time. Post-trade week, Richelle Cranston was quickly snapped up from the Cats as a delisted free agent to add extra punch to the Bulldogs’ lineup inside 50, and then the Dogs went about getting the need for speed in the AFLW Draft. With their three selections, they picked up Oakleigh Chargers’ best on ground in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, Amanda Ling. Tipped to go as high as Top 5 leading into the draft, Ling slid into the second round where the Dogs scooped her up with fellow top-ager, Elizabeth Snell. Aurora Smith completed the trio of speedsters, with an outstanding season playing on a wing for Murray Bushrangers.

2022 TEAM LIST:

Deanna Berry
Elle Bennetts
Ellie Blackburn
Eleanor Brown
Richelle Cranston
Naomi Ferres
Jess Fitzgerald
Ellyse Gamble
Elisabeth Georgostathis
Isabella Grant
Ashleigh Guest
Britney Gutknecht
Sarah Hartwig
Bailey Hunt
Isabel Huntington
Gemma Lagioia
Kirsty Lamb
Amanda Ling
Brooke Lochland
Katie Lynch
Kirsten McLeod
Celine Moody
Nell Morris-Dalton
Gabby Newton
Isabella Pritchard
Hannah Scott
Aurora Smith
Elizabeth Snell
Annabel Strahan
Bonnie Toogood

KEY QUESTIONS:

  • Can the Western Bulldogs force their way into finals in 2022?
  • Will the inclusion of Cranston allow less pressure on their key position options?
  • Will the dominant VFLW talents like Britney Gutknecht (six total AFLW games), Isabelle Pritchard (four) and Isabella Grant (two) take that next step and become AFLW regulars?

PREDICTION:

Western Bulldogs are a side that will be one to keep an eye on over the coming years. There is every chance the Pups graduate into finalists, and should at the very least, contend for AFLW finals again. They will likely be another year off being a title contender, but they are certainly building in the right direction, and their core of youth is as good as any other side in the competition. If they continue their upward trend, expect them to arrive sooner, rather than later.

Picture credit: Kelly Defina/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2021 VFLW team review: Western Bulldogs

IN summarising the 2021 Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) season, Draft Central will run through a team-by-team review of how each of the sides fared, and who some of the standout VFLW-listed performers throughout the clubs were. The next team in the firing line is Western Bulldogs.

Position: 7th
Wins: 7
Losses: 7
Draws: 0
Percentage: 75.8%

Season in a Sentence: “In a somewhat Jekyll and Hyde season, the Western Bulldogs’ best was impressive, but their worst was terrible, culminating in narrowly missing out on finals due to percentage, but taking some good scalps along the way.”

TOP PERFORMERS (VFLW-LISTED):

Simone Ruedin

The key defender was rock solid all year for the Western Bulldogs, picking up the third most disposals and one of only two players to play every game. She also recorded the most marks (41) of any Bulldog, and averaged 2.9 per game to go with 11.0 disposals, 2.3 tackles and 2.4 rebound 50s. She also pinch-hit in the ruck and played plenty of minutes forward late in the season, with her versatility and consistency earning her the club best and fairest.

Brooke Hards

Laying a whopping 34 more tackles than any other Bulldog, Hards was the other player to run out in the red, white and blue in every game. She averaged the 7.5 disposals and 6.1 tackles, thrown forward, back and through the middle to play a variety of roles in 2021. Still only a teenager, one of a number of young Dogs still developing for the future, and able to slot in anywhere.

Katelyn Betts

Another consistent feature in the side, Betts played 13 games in season 2021, averaging the nine disposals and three tackles, rotating between the midfield, and defence later in the season. She looked to create run and carry with Hards and burst out of the stoppages, getting the ball inside 50 and providing that stronger body on the inside at the same time.

Amanda Tessari

Playing the 12 games, Tessari rotated between the ruck and defence, finishing runner-up in the club best and fairest with 8.9 disposals, 4.1 hitouts, 2.4 tackles and 1.3 rebound 50s per game. Given a role each week, Tessari was able to execute that role well and it earned her plenty of internal praise with her best and fairest finish.

AFLW TALENT:

The Western Bulldogs have a lot of young talent on the AFLW list and they made sure they capitalised through the VFLW season. Isabella Grant (11 games), Isabelle Pritchard (nine), Annabel Strahan (nine) and Gemma Lagioia (nine) were all regular features of the side, with automatic AFLW starters Sarah Hartwig and Jess Fitzgerald among others to play once the top level season was over. Britney Gutknecht (182 disposals) only played the six games but looked mighty impressive at the level, whilst Nell Morris-Dalton averaged a goal a game.

OTHERS:

Annabel Scott found plenty of the ball throughout the 2021 season, averaging 12.2 disposals and 3.7 tackles to be the top disposal winner from her 13 games. Eliza Vale and Eliza Morrison both showed promising signs being regular contributors for the Western Bulldogs, as Molly Denahy Maloney and Danielle Marshall stepping up, with the latter having some strong games after being delisted by the Dogs. Meanwhile Nicole McMahon was one of the strongest rucks in the competition with a huge first half of the season.

AFLW Draft Player Diary II: Brooke Hards

THE road to the AFL Women’s is not always straight forward, and for the 2020 draft-eligible players, a global pandemic was thrown in the mix. For aspiring Victorian AFLW Draft players, their top-age year was effectively thrown out the window, not able to play any competitive matches after March, and even were limited with training sessions. In this exclusive Player Diary, we get an insight into one of those player’s journeys.

Like every footballing journey, it starts somewhere and last Thursday, the first of a two-part AFLW Draft Player Diary, ex-Bendigo Pioneers and now Western Bulldogs VFLW Player Brooke Hards outlines the highs and lows of her footballing journey from when she first picked up a ball, to the AFL Women’s Draft.

In this part two, will feature Brooke’s 19th year in the VFLW and how she has adapted to playing senior football. It will also get a few thoughts on the upcoming AFLW Draft.

>> BROOKE HARDS PLAYER PROFILE

2020

AFLW Draft recap from Part I

Night of the draft was a lot of emotions and feelings coming through, my family and best friend Annabel Hocking came over to my dad’s house. I had the closest people to me there supporting me, sadly I did not get drafted. I was down and put out of routine for a bit but was slowly finding my way back into it. Year 12 was becoming to an end and I was waiting to see if I got into university whilst waiting, I got a fair few phone clubs from different clubs wanting me to play VFLW for them and I had a lot of decisions I had to make. Had two meetings with two different clubs and had to make my decision. I got into Victoria University so I chose the Western Bulldogs VFLW team to go to, it was going to make things a lot easier for me and I was super excited.

>> RECAP PART I HERE

Brooke Hards with her first touch in the VFLW against Hawthorn in Round 1.

2021

Bulldogs VFLW

I played all 14 games, played all the positions on the ground, I was very lucky to play against some AFLW players that has helped me grown into the footballer I am today and developing my skills on a larger basis. Playing with such a friendly inspiring team made me feel so comfortable coming into a new team and club. Sean Kavanagh was a great coach, he always pushed us all and his speeches before the games always made me so keen to get out on the ground, it was motivating.

Also, I was very lucky to have Nathan Burke on the sidelines for majority of games helping and using his loud voice to direct us at times when we need it. The coaching staff were incredible and always tried getting the best out of each of us because they’re also so passionate as well as us players. Playing with some top talent for the AFLW Bulldogs team, I learnt a lot off them and look up to them as well. Kicking a goal against St Kilda with Jess Fitzgerald and I doing the double cobra was such a highlight of that particular game.

Upcoming draft 

Upcoming draft will be different, with a lot of talent not getting picked up last year and has played a year of VFLW whilst everyone has improved in their skills. As like everyone, I’m excited but always keeping a level head if the same thing happens like it did last year. The Western Bulldogs improved my skills and I’m only going to keep improving and that is exactly what excites me the most. I would love to be drafted, mainly because I want to continue to improve, and I want to excel. There will always be nerves and stress, but you can only control what you can control and this point of time I can only focus what I can control, which is continuing on trying to be the best version of myself. I will be surrounded by family who have non-stop supported me throughout the process and it will continuously be there no matter what the outcome is on the 27th of July.

Brooke Hards in action against Casey Demons in the final round of the VFLW season.

2021 VFLW Round 14 preview: Dogs, Saints eye last finals spot in vital weekend of action

MATHEMATICALLY every game in the final round of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season has some bearing on the makeup of the top six. What is certain, is the top four teams are locked in – realistically top five but we are just “mathematically” speaking – with the sixth spot to be determined. Barring massive 20-goal-plus wins to Carlton or North Melbourne – or double that for Essendon to lose, then it will realistically be the Saints or Dogs filling out the last spot on the table.

DAREBIN vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, June 26 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Opening up the round is a game that has the potential for Essendon to host a final if they win by enough and the Western Bulldogs take care of Casey Demons, coming up against Darebin Falcons. The last placed Falcons will take home the wooden spoon barring a massive win over the Bombers, but Essendon will be keen to head into finals with a full head of steam. Georgie Prespakis returns for the Bombers in what will be a Calder-flavoured team, as the young Cannons are spread across the field. Tahlia Gillard and Kasey Lennox are named up opposite ends, with Emelia Yassir also named onball. The Falcons have a Cannon of their own with Peppa Poultney named at centre half-forward and could go head-to-head with Lennox at some stage, whilst Trinity Mills and Mikayla Plunkett from the Northern Knights are in the side.

COLLINGWOOD vs. GEELONG
Saturday, June 26 @ 12:00pm
Victoria Park

The top of the table clash might normally see the teams hold back a little because of the potential for a rematch, but there is plenty on the line with Port Melbourne capable of snatching Geelong’s second spot. Collingwood has won its third straight minor premiership, and will be looking for its second straight flag, having gone through the season thus far undefeated. The Cats have been mighty impressive themselves with a 10-3 record, with the first of those losses coming at the hands of the Magpies. That game was a thriller, and a return serve here would set up another clash next week for a spot in the VFL Women’s Grand Final, whilst a loss would open the door for Port Melbourne with the Borough likely to beat Hawthorn and grab the double chance. That means Geelong would have to fight in an elimination final against either Southern Saints or Western Bulldogs the next week. Collingwood has kept a relatively stable side, with Lauren Butler coming into the team, and Eliza James retaining her place in the Magpies squad. Olivia Meagher up forward and Matilda Zander are other crafty talents to keep an eye on, with Imogen Barnett likely to win the leading goalkicker, and Marla Neal in great form too The Cats have plenty of AFLW talent and are not taking any chances, whilst from a youth perspective, Chloe Leonard is in the side from GWV Rebels. The Cats midfield of Darcy Moloney, Bec Garin, Darcy Moloney and Sophie Van De Heuvel is one that will tackle the Pies well.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, June 26 @ 1:00pm
Whitten Oval

The task is simple for the Western Bulldogs, as with all potential mathematical possibilities, at the end of the day, they can put the pressure back on Southern Saints with a victory. The Saints will be favoured to beat North Melbourne the next day, but the stakes will be raised if the Bulldogs can knock off Casey Demons and temporarily take sixth spot. Not only that, but it also eliminates the more ridiculous 20-goal-plus wins that Carlton and even more-so North Melbourne would need in order to grab a top six spot. The Dogs win, they wait on the Saints, they lose and they are out of the running. The Western Bulldogs have retained GWV Rebels’ trio Nyakoat Dojiok, Tahlia Meier and Lilli Condon, with Western Jets’ Trinity Skenderis staying in the team. Brooke Hards has been named in the back pocket returning to the last line again, whilst the Bulldogs have a star-studded midfield of Elisabeth Georgostathis, Isabelle Pritchard, Britney Gutknecht and Jess Fitzgerald. The Demons have their ball-winning talents in Eliza West and Megan Fitzsimon, with Grace Matser getting another crack against an experienced ruck, whilst Alyssa Bannan and potential leading goalkicker Imogen Milford line-up in a strong forward line.

HAWTHORN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Sunday, June 27 @ 11:00am
Box Hill City Oval

Port Melbourne will know if it can secure a top two spot by the time the Borough take the field on Sunday. If the Magpies have knocked off the Cats, then a win will see them grab second spot and the right to face the Magpies next week in a qualifying final. If the Cats win, the percentage difference is too great to make up, and Port will finish third, win, loss or draw. Though a defeat against bottom four side Hawthorn will not be great for the confidence heading into the post-season series. The Hawks might not have finals on the line, but have plenty of motivation with Meg Hutchins playing her final game, retiring at the end of the season after an illustrious career. The Hawks have a great percentage, so a win and losses to Carlton and North Melbourne will see the brown and gold overtake both sides and slot into eighth. Hawthorn continue to back in some great Eastern Ranges talent, with Cadhla Schmidli, Bridget Deed, Keeley Sherar, Eloise Chaston, Sarah Humm and Jess Grace named in the team, as is Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae for the Hawks’ final game of the season. Port Melbourne has handed Murray Bushrangers’ Aurora Smith a debut, running out alongside three other classy talents in Jaide Anthony, Amanda Ling and Brooke Vickers.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, June 27 @ 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Oval

All eyes will be on this game if the Western Bulldogs do upset Casey Demons on Saturday, with all on the line for the Southern Saints. A loss, and it is curtains on the finals series, whilst a win would see them retake sixth spot and play finals. However if the Bulldogs do lose, then the Saints are all but home, barring the Kangaroos handing them an absolute shellacking, where North or slightly more likely Carlton, could take sixth spot. Realistically though barring apocalyptic type winning margins, it’s the Dogs or Saints for sixth spot. Southern Saints have named their trio of AFLW Draft hopefuls in Sandringham Dragons duo Emma Stuber and Pia Staltari, and Dandenong Stingrays’ defender Jemma Radford. With plenty of talent across the field, the Saints will be looking to capitalise against the Roos. North Melbourne has been able to welcome back Sarah Skinner to the fold, lining up at full-forward with Meagan Kiely looking to take control through the midfield, and the sister act in Jayde and Alexia Hamilton hoping to have an impact in the game.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. CARLTON
Sunday, June 27 @ 1:00pm
Downer Oval

Carlton will be favoured to finish off the season in style, and the Blues will overtake Western Bulldogs in seventh with a win. Mathematically the Blues can play finals with a huge 20-odd-goal turn around compared to the Southern Saints, though realistically the percentage gap is a bridge too far. Winning and ending the season on a high will be something to take into the off-season for the Navy Blues, whilst Williamstown cannot move from eleventh barring a big loss and Darebin shocking Essendon the day before. Williamstown have named Geelong Falcons’ Zoe Garth for the Seagulls’ final game of the season, as the home team will still be without any GWS GIANTS AFLW assistance. Megan Williamson and Aimee Whelan will lead the midfield brigade, with Erin Meade a reliable rebounding talent from defence. The Blues have Northern Knights duo Maeve Chaplin and Tarrah Delgado in the team once again, with Amber Micallef, Ally Bild and Akayla Peterson forming a strong defence.

2021 VFLW Round 13 wrap: Saints grab sixth spot as Dogs drop to set up final round ultimatum

THE penultimate round of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition saw several sides ruled out of finals contention, and just two sides set to fight it out in separate Round 14 matches to determine the last finals spot.

HAWTHORN 0.0 | 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
GEELONG 1.5 | 3.6 | 4.6 | 4.8 (32)

Geelong Cats threw the gauntlet down to Port Melbourne with a hard-fought win over a plucky Hawthorn to put themselves in best position for a top two spot ahead of a top-of-the-table clash with Collingwood in the final week. The Cats looked to be on top early, but could not split the big sticks, slotting just one goal from six scoring shots in the opening term. They found their range after that to slot 3.1 over the next two quarters, but a three goals to one second half in favour of the home team had the Hawks come within a whisker of victory. It was not to be however as Geelong held on to win by six points, 4.8 (32) to 4.2 (26). The Geelong AFLW midfielders in Laura Gardiner (33 disposals, three marks, four tackles and a goal), Darcy Moloney (29 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) and Renee Garing (20 disposals, three marks and 10 tackles) all had big days out, while Jess Foley was named best-on for 16 touches, seven marks and three tackles. Annabel Johnson, Madeleine Boyd and Olivia Fuller were also named among the Cats best in the victory. For the Hawks, plenty of the young brigade stood up, with Eastern Ranges’ Isabelle Khoury named best-on for her 12 disposals and eight tackles, with Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae (12 disposals, four tackles) also among the best. In her penultimate game, Meg Hutchins led from the front with 20 disposals, four marks and six tackles, while Tamara Luke had 33 hitouts to go with 13 disposals, three marks and five tackles. Sarah Perkins slotted two goals, and Dominique Carbone and Jenna Richardson were also named amongst the best in the loss.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: S. Perkins 2, D. Carbone, E. Chaston.
Geelong: L. Gardiner, D. Moloney, P. Sheppard, J. Woollett.

BEST:

Hawthorn: I. Khoury, T. Luke, D. Carbone, J. Richardson, K. Hay, G. McRae
Geelong: J. Foley, M. Boyd, A. Johnson, O. Fuller, R. Garing, L. Gardiner

COLLINGWOOD 2.1 | 5.3 | 6.3 | 11.6 (72)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 0.2 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

Collingwood has put a massive dint in the Western Bulldogs’ finals chances after a dominant 64-point thrashing at the Holden Centre on Saturday. The Bulldogs had patches where they contained the Magpies and even held possession in their forward half for long periods of time, but the ease with which the Magpies scored on transition – particularly after the Bulldogs had all the momentum – drove a dagger into red, white and blue hearts. Collingwood slotted five final quarter goals which ultimately saw them run out more than 10-goal winners, but the result was done and dusted by the final break, answering every challenge thrown at them, and then storming to a big win. Imogen Barnett did her AFLW Draft chances no harm with three first half goals to go with eight touches, five marks and passing off a couple of chances too. She teamed up well with Joanna Lin who won it all over the ground but slotted two goals from 12 touches and five marks. The Magpies had eight individual goalkicker in the big win, as Mikayla Cann (25 disposals, three marks and four tackles), Ebony O’Dea (18 disposals, two marks, four tackles and a goal) and Alana Porter (14 disposals) showed their AFLW experience. Matilda Zander was terrific in the black and white with 17 touches, four marks, four tackles and a goal, whilst Stella Reid made a promising VFLW debut with 13 disposals and two marks rotating between defence and midfield. For the Bulldogs, Sarah Hartwig (17 disposals, five marks) and Danielle Marshall (13 disposals, six marks and three tackles) did well out of defence, while Britney Gutknecht (13 disposals, two marks and seven tackles), Jess Fitzgerald (12 disposals, three tackles) and Isabelle Pritchard (13 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and one goal) found their fair share of the pill in the loss.

GOALS:

Collingwood: I. Barnett 3, J. Lin 2, C. Bunker, A. Newman, E. O’Dea, G. Ricardo, A. Velardo, M. Zanker.
Western Bulldogs: I. Pritchard.

BEST:

Collingwood: I. Barnett, A. Newman, E. O”Dea, M. Cann, M. Zander, S. Reid
Western Bulldogs: B. Gutknecht, J. Fitzgerald, A. Strahan, I. Pritchard, D. Marshall, S. Hartwig

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.2 (14)
ESSENDON 1.3 | 2.6 | 3.9 | 4.11 (35)

Essendon has booked its finals spot with a strong second half performance to see off a determined Williamstown. The Bombers only led by two points at quarter time and five points at the main break, but then had seven scoring shots (2.5) to one (0.1) to run out 4.11 (35) to 2.2 (14). Mia-Rae Clifford was the only multiple goal scorer in the match with a couple of majors, as Zali Friswell and Ruby Svarc both slotted one apiece. Georgia Nanscawen (20 disposals, 14 tackles) lead the way, with Courtney Ugle (18 disposals, two marks and four tackles) and Alana Barba (17 disposals, two marks and 11 tackles) both lively. Emelia Yassir impressed from the teenage talents with 13 disposals and seven tackles, while Tara Slender had six disposals, two marks and three tackles on debut. Eloise-Ashley Cooper, Cecilia McIntosh and Jessie Davies were also among the Bombers’ best in the win. Paige Naish was best-on for the Seagulls, booting a goal from 12 touches and two marks, while Ashlea Melnikas (14 disposals) and Lana King (12 disposals, two marks and 14 hitouts) were also amongst the best for the losers. In terms of top ball-winners, Erin Meade and Ruby Tripodi both finished with the 22 touches, while Aimee Whelan (19 touches, eight tackles) was also impressive.

GOALS:

Williamstown: P. Nash, E. Fox.
Essendon: M. Clifford 2, Z. Friswell, R. Svarc.

BEST:

Williamstown: P. Nash, A. Melnikas, L. King, S. Dunell, G. Biedenweg-Webster, R. Tripodi.
Essendon: A. Barba, C. Ugle, J. Davies, C. McIntosh, E. Ashley-Cooper, R. Svarc

CASEY DEMONS 3.3 | 4.3 | 7.4 | 9.6 (60)
DAREBIN 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Casey Demons locked up their finals place in emphatic style with a 53-point victory over last placed Darebin Falcons at home. The Demons had control at the main break with a 20-point lead, but a dominant 5.3 to 0.0 second half saw them run out big winners, 9.6 (60) to 1.1 (7). Imogen Milford kicked a couple of goals to keep in touch with Barnett at the top of the goalkicking leaderboard, whilst Jacqueline Parry also snagged a couple of majors as part of seven individual goalkickers. Meg Macdonald was named best afield for her 16 touches, three marks and three tackles for the Demons, as Eliza McNamara (22 disposals, three marks, three tackles and a goal), Eliza West (22 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and a goal) and Megan Fitzsimon (21 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and a goal) all impressed with big numbers and hitting the scoreboard. Kate Gillespie-Jones and Winnie Laing contributed in their first run for the Demons. For the Falcons, Northern Knights duo Trinity Mills (11 disposals, five marks and four tackles) and Mikayla Plunkett (10 disposals, two marks and eight tackles) were named as the best, whilst the experience of Nicole Callinan (17 disposals, five marks and three tackles) and Alyssa Mifsud (14 disposals, three tackles and five hitouts) shone through. Gena Lawson-Tavan (13 disposals, three marks and five tackles) was also solid in defence, whilst Lucy Schneider topped the match for disposals, with 23 as well as eight marks.

GOALS:

Casey: I. Milford 2, J. Parry 2, E. West, M. Fitzsimon, K. Gillespie-Jones, G. Colvin, E. McNamara.
Darebin: R. Hibbert.

BEST:

Casey: M. Macdonald, E. McNamara, M. Hogg, G. Colvin, A. Brown, K. Gillespie-Jones
Darebin: T. Mills, M. Plunkett, G. Lawson-Tavan, K. McNiece, K. Roe, N. Callinan

CARLTON 1.0 | 1.2 | 6.5 | 6.5 (41)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.0 | 4.3 | 4.3 | 7.5 (47)

Southern Saints have held off a fast-finishing Carlton side to kick away in the last term and give themselves pole position for a finals spot. The Saints needed a win to realistically have the best chance of making finals, and they did just that, pouncing on the Bulldogs’ loss to the Magpies to defeat the Blues by a goal and all but end the Blues’ chances. After the visitors booted four goals to one in the first half, Carlton slotted five goals in the third term to roar to a 14-point lead with a term to play. Just as the points looked to be headed the Blues’ way, the Saints kicked into gear in the final term, booting 3.2 to 0.0 to run over the top of the home team and win, 7.5 (47) to 6.5 (41). The AFL Women’s trio of Tyanna Smith (22 disposals, eight marks, six tackles and two goals), Alice Burke (18 disposals, four marks and eight tackles) and Jess Matin ( eight disposals, three marks, four tackles and two goals) wrecked havoc on the Blues, whilst Deanna Jolliffe (19 disposals, five marks and 12 tackles), Madison Capalis and Gabi De Angelis were also among the better players for the red, white and black. Lucy McEvoy was outstanding for the Blues with a team-high 21 disposals and seven tackles to lead the way for the home team, whilst Bry Gurr (15 disposals, three tackles) and Paige Trudgeon (14 disposals, four marks and seven tackles) were next best, and both Steph Lawrence and Jennifer Lew had 14 disposals, two marks and slotted two goals. Northern Knights’ Maeve Chaplin also played her best VFLW game with 10 touches and five tackles.

GOALS:

Carlton: J. Lew 2, S. Lawrence 2, M. Wilson, E. Wood.
Southern Saints: J. Matin 2, T. Smith 2, T. Bohanna, A. Peck, K. Ripari

BEST:

Carlton: L. McEvoy, P. Trudgeon, E. Honybun, A. Klingbeil, M. Chaplin, B. Gurr
Southern Saints: A. Burke, T. Smith, M. Capsalis, J. Matin, G. De Angelis, F. Hocking

PORT MELBOURNE 1.0 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 8.7 (55)
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 (12)

In the final match of the round, Port Melbourne snuffed out North Melbourne’s chances of making finals with a dominant 43-point win at ETU Stadium yesterday. At the same time, the Borough kept their hopes alive of finishing inside the top two and getting a double chance to take on Collingwood in the first week of finals, thanks to a five goals to zero final term. It was neck-and-neck for the most part, with the Roos understrength due to border restrictions and therefore missing a host of Tasmanian talents, but North kept the fight up for three quarter to be within 10 points at the final break, before the home team kicked away win the last with 5.1 to 0.0, to win 8.7 (55) to 2.0 (12). Sarah D’Arcy was sensational up forward with two goals from 17 disposals, seven marks and nine tackles, as Alice Edmonds (14 disposals, four marks, two tackles and 33 hitouts) and Claire Dyett (15 disposals, three marks, seven tackles and one goal) also impressed. On VFLW debut, Ellie McKenzie (14 disposals, four marks) and Brooke Vickers (13 disposals, two marks) both stood out, while Amanda Ling kicked a goal from 10 touches, three marks and four tackles, and Ash Richards had 11 disposals, four marks and a goal. For North, Meagan Kiely led from the front yet again with a ridiculous 34 disposals, seven marks and six tackles, matched by Airlie Runnalls who also had 34 touches, as well as eight marks and two tackles, Molly Eastman (27 disposals, seven marks) and Reni Hicks (22 disposals, three marks and 16 tackles) were ball magnets, while Alexia Hamilton (13 disposals, four marks, eight tackles and 12 hitous) and Laura Wright (seven disposals, four marks, two tackles and two goals) did their part for the Roos.

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S D’Arcy 2, C. Dyett, A. Edmonds, A. Ling, L. McClelland, A. Richards, E. Wilson.
North Melbourne: L. Wright 2.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: A. Edmonds, C. Dyett, S. D’Arcy, B. Vickers, C. Bromage, O. Barton
North Melbourne: M. Kiely, R. Hicks, A. Hamilton, A. Runnalls, L. Wright, M. Eastman

2021 VFLW Round 13 preview: Future stars return as teams limited by border restrictions

THERE might not be crowds this weekend, but the stakes are as high as ever for the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s teams, as the penultimate Round 13 finally gets underway after a three-week hiatus due to the Victorian lockdown. Three teams cannot be moved out of the finals race – Collingwood, Geelong and Port Melbourne – though only one of the latter two can secure a double-chance.

The other three spots are up for grabs, though Casey Demons and Essendon effectively need one win to book their spots – with the Demons even needing to just not be smashed in their final two matches to make it given their ridiculously high percentage. Western Bulldogs currently holds sixth spot and is the most in danger of missing out, taking on the Magpies and Demons, needing at least one win – but potentially two – to grab a finals place with Southern Saints, Carlton and North Melbourne all knocking down the door.

HAWTHORN vs. GEELONG
Saturday, June 19 @ 12:00pm
Box Hill City Oval

A battle between traditional rivals, Hawthorn and Geelong takes place at Box Hill City Oval from midday tomorrow. The Hawks unfortunately not only need to win their games and have results go their way in other matches, but realistically need a draw in one of the Southern Saints games and the other three teams around them – Western Bulldogs, Carlton and North Melbourne – to lose in the game that isn’t a draw. Geelong on the other hand need to keep winning in order to book a double chance, with third placed Port Melbourne just percentage behind and ready to earn a spot against Collingwood in the qualifying final if the Cats do slip up.

Both teams have past and present AFLW talent, with Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner forming a huge midfield for the Cats. The Hawks have some experience tall timber with Meg Hutchins, Tamara Luke and Sarah Perkins among the names in the side. In terms of AFLW Draft hopefuls, Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae returns for another game in the brown and gold, joining Eastern Ranges’ Bridget Deed, Keeley Sherar, Isabelle Khoury, Eloise Chaston and debutants, Cadhla Schmidli and Sarah Humm in the side. For the Cats, Chloe Leonard returns to the blue and white hoops again, named on the bench for this match, whilst Jess Foley, Madelyn Keryk and Madisen Maguire are among the other Cats experienced talents.

COLLINGWOOD vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, June 19 @ 12:00pm
Olympic Park Oval

It might have been a long time for football to return, but luckily for the Magpies, they sewed up top spot and their third consecutive minor premiership last round. They can now play the role of managing players leading into finals, with Chloe Molloy, Jaimee Lambert, Sophie Livingstone and Sophie Casey among the outs for Round 13. In come the younger group in Amelia Velardo, Abbi Moloney and Alana Porter to face a hungry Western Bulldogs side needing a win. The Bulldogs can put themselves in pole position for a finals spot with an upset win, and have not held make in doing so with their team selection.

The Bulldogs have a mix of AFLW and NAB League Girls talents, with the midfield of Jess Fitzgerald, Britney Gutknecht and Isabelle Pritchard, as well as Isabella Grant, Gemma Lagioia and Sarah Hartwig around the ground, there is plenty of top-end talent that could cause a boil-over to the top of the table Magpies. From an AFLW Draft perspective, potential Top 10 pick Ella Friend is back in the side with Rebels’ teammates Lilli Condon and Tahlia Meier, whilst Brooke Hards and Simone Ruedin remain the only players to not miss a game for the red, white and blue. The Magpies have a couple of top talents making their debuts too, with Stella Reid and Eliza James – both out of the Oakleigh Chargers’ program – coming into the black and white stripes whilst another AFLW Draft Combine invitee in Olivia Meagher is also in the team. With six players in Draft Central’s recent AFLW Draft Power Rankings playing in the game, it is a must-listen via WARF Radio.

The Magpies deserve to be favourites as an unbeaten side, but the Western Bulldogs could arguably have the stronger team on paper for this clash, so it should be a really big contest.

>> AFLW Draft Power Rankings

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, June 19 @ 1:00pm
Downer Oval

Across at Downer Oval, Williamstown and Essendon will look to control the elements and the game, when the Bombers hit the road for a must-win clash. They take on the bottom two sides in the last two rounds and need just one win, so have the easiest draw in the final fortnight. They still need to get it done though, and the Seagulls still have plenty about them coming up against a Bombers side with a lot of talent. Another potential Top 10 selection in Tara Slender will make her debut in this game for the Bombers, with the Bendigo Pioneers’ utility named at centre half-forward.

Slender will join Calder Cannons’ Emelia Yassir, Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell in the starting team, with the experience of Georgia Nanscawen, Cecilia McIntosh and Mia-Rae Clifford across the three lines. Williamstown have had some consistent performers over the time, but the current border restrictions between Victoria and NSW/ACT has limited the GWS GIANTS AFLW players from taking part. The likes of Erin Meade, Scarlett Dunnell, Aimee Whelan and Megan Williamson have all enjoyed solid seasons and will be looked upon to step up in what is ultimately a tough game for them. Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper are recent NAB League Girls graduates and will be keen top put their best foot forward to impress, while the Bombers as a whole just have to win. Williamstown can play the role of party pooper in this game, and have the advantage of knowing the ground well.

CASEY DEMONS vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, June 19 @ 2:00pm
Casey Fields

Casey Demons are a win away from booking a spot in the VFL Women’s finals series, and providing the last placed Darebin do not roll them by a considerable amount, the Cranbourne-based team can potentially secure a home final in the process. They have a mix of past and present AFLW talents – including some recent delistings hoping to earn a second chance – whilst the Falcons will rely on some youngsters and their VFL Women’s players to try and cause an upset at windy Casey Fields.

Former Carlton player Winnie Laing and ex-Roo Kate Gillespie-Jones are lining up for Casey this weekend following their recent delistings from the Blues and North Melbourne respectively, alongside Mietta Kendall who is hoping for another chance in the red and blue, and then the most recent addition to the Demons’ rookie list in midfielder Eliza West. The latter has been a prominent ball winner for the VFL Women’s side and earned a promotion, whilst Imogen Milford is one player with plenty to prove after receiving an AFLW Draft Combine invite. Shelley Heath, Eliza McNamara and Megan Fitzsimon are also in the side, though there is an abundance of VFL Women’s talent in the team for the clash with the Falcons. Darebin have the experience of Nicole Callinan and Alyssia Mifsud who have played at the top level, but otherwise have the NAB League Girls talents of Trinity Mills and Peppa Poultney, as well as another former NAB League Girls player in Katelyn Hazlett. Samara David and Stephanie Simpson have enjoyed impressive seasons up forward, whilst Victoria Blackwood and Gena Lawson-Tavan are reliable players with Callinan in the back 50. Expect Casey to be too strong, but Darebin will be keen to cause an upset.

CARLTON vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Sunday, June 20 @ 11:00am
Ikon Park

A virtual elimination final in many ways, the loser of Carlton and Southern Saints will need to rely on other results in order to make finals, with the Blues in particular having a line put through their name given the percentage difference. If the Saints lose, they will need the Bulldogs to also lose to the Magpies in order to make the finals, or if they win and the Bulldogs win, it will come down to the final round. The Blues cannot overtake the Bulldogs unless they win big and the Bulldogs lose, but it will keep them in the finals hunt with a clash against Williamstown in the final round.

Carlton know the stakes by winning the match, with Lucy McEvoy named once again alongside some AFLW talent in Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans. They do have a lot of VFLW talent in the side still, with Amber Micallef, Ally Bild, Jennifer Lew and Jorja Borg among those who have had some impressive moments this season. Northern Knights duo Maeve Chaplin and Tara Delgado are in the side again to try and stake their claims ahead of the AFLW Draft, while ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Teagan Brett returns to the Navy Blues. The Saints have not fully confirmed their side at the time of publishing, but they were favoured to take it up to the Blues, with Alice Burke, Tyanna Smith, Jess Matin and Alice Burke all named in the side that narrowly went down to Western Bulldogs last round. Dandenong Stingrays’ Jemma Radford has really held her own in the side, with Sandringham Dragons’ Pia Staltari and Emma Stuber among those on the extended list for the Saints.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, June 20 @ 1:00pm
ETU Stadium

Completing Round 13 of action is a game with plenty on the line for both teams in different ways. Port Melbourne is gunning for a second chance if the Borough can get up and hope Geelong loses, whilst North Melbourne can keep their hopes of finals alive with an upset win on the road at ETU Stadium. Much like Williamstown with the GIANTS, the Roos have been impacted by not being able to utilise their Tasmanian contingent, which has meant plenty of changes for the blue and white stripes. Port Melbourne on the other hand have not held back in their selection, with experience and young guns galore in what will be an exciting contest.

Roos captain Meagan Kiely is based in Victoria and the Tasmanian talent will look to continue her ripping form this season teaming up with Brooke Slaney and Reni Hicks in midfield. They have a tough job with Ellie McKenzie making her VFLW debut for the Borough, and Courteney Bromage and Mel Kuys rounding out a strong midfield. The Port Melbourne bench is as exciting as one could be, with Dandenong Stingrays duo Jaide Anthony and Ashleigh Richards, and Oakleigh Chargers duo Amanda Ling and Brooke Vickers – all who received AFLW Draft Combine invites – playing in the match. Sarah D’Arcy also makes her debut up forward for the Borough, alongside Emily Harley and Sophie Locke. The Roos will have Alexia Hamilton through the ruck and Jayde Hamilton and Elisha King up forward, whilst Molly Eastman and Beth Lynch are among those likely to create some run out of defence for the visitors in the Sunday afternoon clash. The Borough have the advantage at home and can snuff out the Roos’ finals chances with a win, but North have proven to put up a fight most weeks so should give the game a shake.

2021 VFLW Round 12 preview: Finals on the line for several sides

THREE rounds remain and some results could ultimately determine finals spots, with last chances in play for a couple of teams, and a top against bottom clash featuring this weekend in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

ESSENDON vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 22 @ 10:00am
Windy Hill

Potential top pick Georgie Prespakis has been named for Essendon in a game where the Bombers can lock up a finals spot, and snuff out North Melbourne’s chances at the same time. The Roos will make history with a record 11 Tasmanians in the side, and a debutant in fellow AFL Women’s Academy Perri King making her debut at VFLW level against Prespakis. Joining King in the side for their second games are Ella Maurer and Jemma Blair at opposite ends, whilst fellow Tasmanians, Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely make it a distinct Apple Isle feeling through the middle. They will have a huge job containing the midfield combination of Prespakis, Georgia Nanscawen, Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper of whom the latter trio have been in great form at the level. The forward line of Daria Bannister, Meg Sinclair, Camilla Taylor and Mia King adds to the Roos’ Tasmanian presence, with Calder’s Kasey Lennox, as well as Zali Friswell and Emelia Yassir up the other end among the talented juniors running around in the red sash.

CASEY DEMONS vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 22 @ 10:30am
Casey Fields

Fresh off a best on ground performance in the NAB League Girls Grand Final, Amanda Ling will run out for Port Melbourne in the Borough’s clash with fellow finals-bound side, Casey Demons. The Oakleigh Chargers midfielder will join AFL Women’s talents Katherine Smith and Kodi Jacques, and past AFL Women’s talent Mel Kuys in the midfield, up against an equally stacked onball brigade of AFL Women’s midfielders Megan Fitzsimon and Casey Sherriff, and ball-winning star Eliza West. The Borough have other youngsters including Oakleigh Chargers’ Taylah Morton and ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke in the forward pockets, whilst the Demons have a stacked outfit including AFL Women’s stars Eden Zanker and Libby Birch, and young guns Brenna Tarrant and Eliza McNamara. Potentially the match of the round, both these sides are coming off disappointing losses, and both will be keen to make amends against quality opposition.

CARLTON vs. GEELONG
Saturday, May 22 @ 11:00am
Ikon Park

Following an upset win over Casey Demons, Carlton return home to Ikon Park against a Geelong side that cashed in its get out of jail free card in the final term last week. The Cats were in real danger against the Southern Saints, but managed to step up with four late goals to get over the line in fantastic style and remain in the top two. This week they take on a Carlton side that is as strong as it has been all season, featuring a core midfield of Lucy McEvoy, Abbie McKay and Grace Egan, as well as Maddy Guerin and Daisy Walker. Northern Knights’ full-back Tarrah Delgado will make her VFL Women’s debut with the Blues, joining teammate Maeve Chaplin in the side, in what will give the consistent talents a good run at state league level. For the Cats, the AFL Women’s midfield of Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Sophie Van De Heuvel is unbelievable, while Olivia Barber has built some great form this season, and the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard are also playing well at the level. Expect Geelong to really step up here, but the Carlton midfield is just as good making there plenty of terrific head-to-heads to watch.

DAREBIN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 22 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

A top against bottom clash featuring Darebin Falcons and Collingwood at Bill Lawry Oval has the potential to be one-sided, but the Falcons will be hoping that a draw against Williamstown has helped build some momentum into the game. Collingwood are rotating through their AFL Women’s talent, and Chloe Molloy, Elise O’Dea and Stacey Livingstone both play their first VFLW games this season, whilst Jaimee Lambert is back for her second game of the year. The Magpies team looks stacked and should be too strong for a Falcons outfit, though Georgia Hammond comes back into the club as the tall target up forward, forming with Samara David, Stephanie Simpson and teenager Trinity Mills. Jess Dal Pos is the prime mover in midfield and could have a tantalising head-to-head with Molloy in there, while Sidney Cubasch will look to take control in the ruck. The Falcons have some good experience in there including Nicole Callinan, but expect the Magpies to have too much depth across the field.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 23 @ 11:00am
Downer Oval

In the first of two matches on Sunday, Williamstown hosts Hawthorn in a huge Sunday morning clash at Downer Oval. The Seagulls are coming off a draw with Darebin, whilst the Hawks had their wings clipped by North Melbourne at Box Hill last week. Coach Bec Goddard just keeps finding AFLW talent to slot into the lineup, and this week Sarah Perkins returns to the club having missed the second half of the AFLW season due to injury. The key forward will team up with Chantella Perera and Kristy Stratton, whilst Jessie Williams has been a damaging goalkicker all season. In defence, Meg Hutchins announced she would hang up the boots at the end of the season, meaning the versatile legend will likely have just three games remaining in her career. Alison Drennan, Georgia Bevan and Nadia von Bertouch are among the other AFLW experienced talents running around in the brown and gold, while Eastern Ranges’ Keeley Sherar, Bridget Deed and Eloise Chaston retain their spots in the side. The Seagulls have some GWS GIANTS talents such as Emily Pease and Lisa Steane, whilst Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle will look to hit the scoreboard alongside Gold Coast’s Bess Keaney up forward. Erin Meade and Aimee Whelan are in good form this year, with Elizabeth McGrath set to have a great contest with opposing ruck Tamara Luke. Hawthorn should win this game, but no doubt the Williamstown breeze will make life difficult in front of the big sticks.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, May 23 @ 12:00pm
Trevor Barker Oval

The final match of the round is the most important for the league as a whole, with the result potentially determining the finals series. Southern Saints hold sixth spot as it stands, but are only percentage ahead of the seventh placed Western Bulldogs. In reality, that percentage will be too difficult to make up for the Bulldogs or other chasing sides, so as long as the Saints win two of the last three – playing North Melbourne and Carlton in the final two rounds – they will get there. The Bulldogs can temporarily grab sixth spot with a win here, though they would need to knock off Casey Demons and Collingwood in the final fortnight – or hope the Saints lose to one of the other teams – in order to stay there. The Saints are not mucking around with a number of elite young talents through the midfield including Tyanna Smith and Georgia Patrikios – the latter of whom returns for her first VFLW game this season. Molly McDonald has been named off half-back, whilst Tarni White makes her VFLW debut for the Saints. All things considered the midfield battle will decide the result, with the Bulldogs having Jess Fitzgerald, Britney Gutknecht, Isabelle Pritchard and Elisabeth Georgostathis running around. Molly Denahy Maloney returns from injury to start in the ruck, whilst full-back Simone Ruedin has been named at full-forward, and forward Danielle Marshall has been named at full-back. Western Jets quartet Caitlin Sargent, Jemima Woods, Stephanie Asciak and Nikita Wright will provide the NAB League Girls factor, with the Saints focusing on VFLW talent for this game, such as the in-form Tara Bohanna, whilst Jayde Van Dyk makes her debut in defence for the red, white and black. This game could go down to the wire, and will have plenty riding on it.

2021 VFLW Round 11 preview: Teams stack up for final month of action

THERE are plenty of NAB League Girls debutants and AFL Women’s players who will run out for the respective teams this round of VFL Women’s (VFLW), in what could make or break some teams’ finals campaigns.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

Opening up the round is a genuine finals-defining clash in the sense that if the Southern Saints can get up at home, they should be home and hosed for the last finals spot. It will not be easy against a red-hot Geelong outfit that has loaded up on talent and looks to be the strongest lineup thus far which will be hard to beat. Focusing on youth and the return of NAB League Girls, Abbey Jordan comes in for her VFLW debut with the Saints, joining Sandringham’s Natasha Morris, whilst Tyanna Smith also makes her VFLW debut after an outstanding debut season at AFLW level. The VFLW talent at the Saints is quite strong, with Tara Bohanna and Hannah Stuart among the consistent performers this year supporting natural ball-winners Molly McDonald and Alice Burke who have shown their class above. The Cats midfield boasts Laura Gardiner, Darcy Moloney and Rebecca Webster with the possibility of Sophie Van De Heuvel rolling through and Olivia Barber rucking is the future of the AFLW side. The depth of the Cats looks to be just too strong, with Tamara Smith, Paige Sheppard and Richelle Cranston forming a dangerous half-forward line with elite level pressure. Expect the Cats to get the job done much to the relief of the chasing pack of VFLW sides just outside the finals places.

CASEY DEMONS vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:30am
Casey Fields

There are a couple of NAB League Girls players representing Casey Demons and Carlton in their battle at Casey Fields from 10:30am. Gippsland Power ruck Grace Matser comes back for her second game after a solid debut last weekend, whilst Northern Knights inside ball-winner Maeve Chaplin will get her first run around with the Blues. After carrying the drinks last match, Lucy McEvoy gets her chance at VFLW level, while Maddy Guerin, Natalie Plane and Charlotte Hammans will be looking to continue their great form stepping down to state league level. The Demons are just loaded across the field though, not mucking around with the likes of Eden Zanker, Casey Sherriff, Libby Birch and Jacqueline Parry in there, whilst Eliza McNamara makes her VFLW debut after a strong first season at AFLW level. The Demons have had one of the more stacked lineups the past few weeks, and with competition leading goalkicker Imogen Milford up forward, it is hard to see them not chalk up another win with the form they are in, even missing competition top ball-winner Eliza West.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 15 @ 10:45am
ETU Stadium

Barring a collapse in the final three rounds, a win here would lock up top spot for the Magpies, coming up against a Port Melbourne side that has now dropped two of its past three games. Only Geelong could catch the Magpies in the final few weeks and even then would need the Magpies to drop all the games – or lose severe percentage – to be a chance to grab top spot. Port Melbourne is always a chance to get up though, having a couple of Dandenong Stingrays in Jaide Anthony and Ash Richards running round whilst having plenty of Richmond AFLW players in the side. Whilst Emily Harley will not be in the side this week, the Borough have Cleo Saxon-Jones and Gabrielle Seymour at opposite ends, with Kodi Jacques returning for her first VFLW game, and Sophie Locke still in contention for the the leading goalkicker. The midfield combination of Katherine Smith, Sophie Molan and Mel Kuys will be difficult to beat, but the inclusion of Magpies AFLW star Jaimee Lambert will have the opposition on notice. Teaming up with Mikala Cann, Maddie Shevlin, Abbi Moloney and Sophie Casey as regular AFLW talents, the Magpies have some good spread across the ground, while Imogen Barnett, Matilda Zander and Marla Neal are all in good form, and Jasmine Ferguson has been a rock at the back. It should be a great game, with the Magpies ticking over the wins, but the Borough having plenty of experience in this match.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
Downer Oval

A bottom two clash at Downer Oval will give Williamstown the opportunity to confirm the Seagulls will avoid the wooden spoon, and effectively lock Darebin into that position with the result. The Seagulls have created that good link with the GWS GIANTS over the past couple of weeks, and bolster the side through some up and coming AFLW talents in Tarni Evans, Georgia Garnett and Emily Pease, whilst Tasmanian Priscilla Odwogo runs out in the blue and gold once again. Perhaps the biggest name from an AFLW Draft perspective in this game is Sydney Swans Academy member Jess Doyle, who has been named on the interchange for the Seagulls to make her debut at the level. There is also a debut on the Falcons side, with Northern Knights key forward Trinity Mills named on the bench. With Jess Dal Pos as the prime mover onball, and the defensive combination of Victoria Blackwood and Gena Lawson-Tavan in the back 50, the Falcons have some composure moving the ball down the ground. The ruck battle between Sidney Cubasch (Darebin) and Elizabeth McGrath (Williamstown) is another one to watch, with Stephanie Simpson and Alyssa Mifsud both capable of kicking multiple goals on their day.

ESSENDON vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 15 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

The latest match on the Saturday is an early 11am fixture at Windy Hill, where the Bombers who are looking to push further up the table and just solidify that finals spot, take on a desperate Western Bulldogs outfit that has to win to stay in finals contention. If you want the best chance at seeing multiple AFLW Draft prospects this weekend, then this is the game to watch. Essendon have brought back Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell, with talented top-age draft-eligible players Neve Crowley and Emelia Yassir also making their debuts. Crowley has been named in the back six with Lennox, though could play at either end, whilst Yassir will come off the bench and likely impact midfield or forward. Friswell is in a forward pocket. For the Western Bulldogs, a trio of Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels will make their debuts, with Ella Friend, Nyakoat Dojiok and Tahlia Meier all named in the Dogs’ squad. With AFLW talent in Sarah Hartwig, Jess Fitzgerald, Britney Gutknecht and Isabella Grant among plenty of others, the Bulldogs are also not mucking around with their lineup and arguably should be favourites in this game on paper alone. The key is to try and quell the strong Bombers’ midfield which includes Georgia Nanscawen, Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper who are always finding the ball, and then Mia-Rae Clifford up forward, and Courtney Ugle creating across the ground.

HAWTHORN vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, May 16 @ 3:30pm
Box Hill City Oval

In a standalone fixture on Sunday, Hawthorn will look to keep alive its slim chance of making finals with a win over North Melbourne. The Hawks have a superior percentage and have some good young talent coming into the side, with Keeley Sherar, Bridget Deed, Eloise Chaston and Matilda Hardy forming a strong Eastern Ranges contingent, and Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae returns for another week after a big Round 10 effort last week. The Kangaroos are also handing out some impressive debuts to young players they might consider for their AFLW list, with a Tasmanian trio of Ella Maurer, Jemma Blair and Amy Bissett – who are all capped at national level with the Allies at the AFLW U19 Championships – set to run out in the blue and white stripes. With Jayde Hamilton another teenager who played alongside them for the Allies also remaining in the side, and then the form of Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely among others, the Roos are going to make a good fist of it. The Hawks just have too much depth across the field, and with Phoebe McWilliams and Kristy Stratton up forward, Meg Hutchins down back and Georgia Bevan and Alison Drennan roving to Tamara Luke through midfield, the brown and gold deserve to be favourites here and take home the win.

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

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

>> ONE-STOP SITE: VFLW page

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

2021 VFLW Round 10 preview: Pride on the line in more ways than one for huge round of action

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Pride Round kicks off in a Super Saturday stretching from the mid-morning to a game under lights, with plenty on the line and a number of virtual elimination finals or finals tuneups.

HAWTHORN vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, May 8 @ 10:00am
Box Hill City Oval

Opening the round is a must-win clash for Hawthorn hosting the last placed Darebin Falcons. If the Hawks get up, they are still a chance for finals, but a loss will all but put a line through their chances. For the Falcons, finals is a bit beyond them, but they will be hoping to double their wins tally with a victory here, and finish strongly in the last five rounds. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae made her debut in the brown and gold last week, and another young talent will join her this week with Ashanti Bush cracking through to team up with fellow Darwin Buffettes prospect Dominique Carbone. The AFL Women’s Academy member will start on the bench, whilst Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is back in the team after her side was eliminated from the NAB League Girls competition, and ex-Pioneer Katelyn Hazlett back for her second game after a strong debut. Given the AFL Women’s experience that keeps building at the Hawks, the latest is Geelong Cats’ Phoebe McWilliams who teams up with fellow experienced tall Meg Hutchins in attack. The Hawks have plenty of present and former AFLW talents, so expect they will be too strong in this one.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 8 @ 12:00pm
Whitten Oval

A virtual elimination final takes place at midday on Saturday, with the loser of Western Bulldogs and Carlton effectively putting a line through their finals hopes. For the winner, they live to fight another day, which means there is plenty on the line for the teams. The Western Bulldogs have brought back Jess Fitzgerald to the team, with Kirsten McLeod and Naomi Ferres coming in for their first games of the season. Brisbane Lions’ Beth Pinchin is an interesting inclusion for the Dogs at centre half-back, while Western Jets’ Caitlin Sargent, Nikita Wright and Stephanie Asciak all remain in the side. For the Blues, they have kept fairly consistent wiht their lineups, getting games into Charlotte Hammans, Maddy Guerin and Serena Gibbs. Abbie McKay, Grace Egan and Daisy Walker all return for their second games back at the level, and Natalie Plane for her first, in what is a tough game on the road. The Dogs have that bit more class about them, but it will be whether or not they can win the midfield in what looks like a star-studded group on both sides.

GEELONG vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, May 8 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

Two teams headed for finals will clash in a blockbuster VFLW match at Deakin University. Geelong have been strong down there, and with Stephanie Williams, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Rebecca Webster and Richelle Cranston all in the side, there is enough AFLW talent to lead by experience. Carly Remmos remains but Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner are out of the side after suffering repeated leather poisoning each week. They take on an Essendon side that is building very nicely, bringing in Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning for her debut this week, switching in for another Pioneer in Elizabeth Snell. The Calder Cannons talents feature all through the emergencies with talls Kasey Lennox and Neve Crowley likely to come in the following week, while Mia-Rae Clifford and Georgia Nanscawen represent AFL Women’s experience. The defence is solid for the Bombers, as Eloise Gardner and Courtney Ugle will provide some run and carry, while Ruby Svarc is a natural ball-winner and will provide good defensive pressure inside 50. At home Geelong has the upper hand, though the Bombers are a chance in this one.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 8 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

In the traditional timeslot on Saturday afternoon, North Melbourne host Collingwood in a must-win clash for the Roos. The Magpies are cruising along nicely at 9-0 and unless the wheels completely fall off, a top two spot – and likely minor premiership beckons. The Magpies have brought in Mikala Cann for her first VFLW game of the season, giving the Pies mostly an AFLW spine including Sophie Alexander, Abbi Moloney and Maddie Shevlin, whilst Jasmine Ferguson has been one of the most reliable defenders in the competition. Add in the dangerous Matilda Zander up forward and the ball-winning Marla Neal in midfield, and the Magpies have plenty of top VFLW talents as well. For North Melbourne, they remain determined to keep a fairly consistent VFLW lineup, with Alexia Hamilton and Reni Hicks a couple of former AFLW players while Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely join them in the midfield as in-form talents. Camilla Taylor returns to the level after Tasmania Devils’ exit from the NAB League Girls competition, while Molly Eastman is another Roo in great form. They have had a real mixed bag this season, but are not without a chance the Roos, though the Pies are deservedly favourites for this clash.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Saturday, May 8 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Southern Saints can go a long way towards securing a finals spot with an upset win over top two side, Port Melbourne at ETU Stadium on Saturday. The Saints hold the precious sixth spot, and still will after this round given their far superior percentage to the chasing pack, but cannot afford to drop too many or the lower teams will pounce. Dandenong Stingrays co-captain Ash Richards and versatile runner Jaide Anthony both make their debuts at VFLW level, but unlike many of their teammates, they will be running out for the opposition side Port Melbourne. They are joined in the side by Maddy Brancatisano who returns to the level for the first time this season, with a host of current and past AFLW talent, including Katherine Smith, Sophie Molan and Emily Harley who stood up last week with four goals. Zoe Hill has been named as an emergency for the Saints, with Jemma Radford retaining her spot in the back pocket for some Dandenong Stingrays flavour, and the AFLW talent led by Alice Burke, Tahlia Meyer and Renee Saulitis. Port Melbourne have more depth in the side and should win, with the Saints needing to make the most of their chances if they are to get up.

WILIAMSTOWN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:00pm
Downer Oval

Playing a special Saturday night game under lights for the Pride Round under lights at Downer Oval, Williamstown will be hoping to cause a boilover agains a strong Casey Demons side that is gearing up for finals. The Seagulls need to win the remainder of their games to qualify for finals just about, and have been able to welcome Gold Coast Suns’ Bess Keaney to the lineup. She will lineup in the back pocket, with Georgia Garnett also coming into the defence for her debut in the VFLW following the announcement that Williamstown had formed a link with the GWS GIANTS. Lisa Steane has also been named in the side, with Ella Baxter, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players. Casey Demons have a damaging forward line with Maddison Gay, Alyssa Bannan and Imogen Milford one of the strong forward trios going around. Libby Birch in defence, Eden Zanker and Megan Fitzsimon in midfield, and the newest debutant Grace Matser – a Gippsland Power ruck – will all provide plenty of talent and depth around the ground.