Tag: Jess Trend

2021 VFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Pies, Saints battle to keep perfect records

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolls on into Round 2 this weekend, with six fixtures spread evenly across Saturday and Sunday. Southern Saints and Collingwood clash in the only meeting between two week one winners, while the likes of Casey Demons and Port Melbourne will look to build on the strong starts which have them poised atop the ladder. We take you through all the key players and factors across each game in our weekend preview.

Collingwood vs. Southern Saints
Saturday March 6, 12:00pm
Victoria Park

Collingwood and Southern Saints will make up the sole clash between two Round 1 winners when they lock horns at Victoria Park on Saturday. The Magpies held on to win by two points last week, while the Saints also held strong to beat Essendon and start 2021 on just the right note.

After a four-goal performance, Collingwood forward Imogen Barnett will look to back up her early form alongside the likes of Matilda Zander and senior-listed ruck Bella Smith. Eastern Ranges midfielder Olivia Meagher looms as a promising inclusion for the Magpies, named at the heart of the side after making three NAB League appearances this season.

The Saints will have at least three changes with St Kilda-listed guns Jess Matin, Poppy Kelly, and Rebecca Ott all in line for senior call-ups after promising VFLW displays. Canadian small forward Valerie Moreau is one to watch in the red, white and black having booted two majors on debut last week, but the going will be tough with some key outs against a dangerous Collingwood side.

Geelong vs. Williamstown
Saturday March 6, 12:00pm
Deakin University, Waurn Ponds

Williamstown will hope to continue its winning form as it travels to take on Geelong at Deakin University on Saturday afternoon. The Seagulls, who won by two points last week, meet a side in Geelong which lost by the same margin in Round 1 despite a strong finish and the formidable young talent afield.

As an AFLW-aligned team, the Cats will see some key changes to their opening round lineup – starting with the absence of Olivia Barber, Rene Caris, Laura Gardiner, and Darcy Moloney. Senior-listed forwards Stephanie Williams and Maddie Boyd provide some relief, while Geelong Falcons product Renee Tierney also enters the fray as another exciting option.

Williamstown also has some promising young talent to call upon, with its own Falcons coup in Zoe Garth named in defence. Tahlia Merrett is another handy inclusion and promises to provide a touch more firepower up forward, while Danika Di Santo may also get a look in from an extended interchange bench. Despite their current records, Geelong looks the team to beat in this clash.

Casey Demons vs. Essendon
Saturday March 6, 1:00pm
Casey Fields

Casey returns home for its Round 2 clash with Essendon on Saturday afternoon, looking to keep its perfect record in tact. The Demons were comprehensive after half time in their win over Carlton last week, while the Bombers showed some good fight and maturity in their opening round loss to Southern Saints.

Five-goal hero Brenna Tarrant is a key out for Casey after helping kick her side into gear, but the Demons will inject Niamh McEvoy into their forwardline this week. Maggie Caris and Megan Fitzsimon are other senior-listed players to watch through the spine of the side, while Samantha Johnson will again lead from midfield.

The Bombers look to be combining well after experiencing a touch more continuity than other teams, with the likes of Courtney Ugle and Cecilia McIntosh senior players who made a difference last week. They will go around once again, with Mia-Rae Clifford one to watch after a goalless outing and Grace Dicker a promising youngster also entering the fray. The test of another aligned team will be good for the Bombers, who can hopefully compete strongly.

North Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs
Sunday March 7, 9:30am
Arden Street Oval

Sunday’s first fixture sees North Melbourne host a second-straight home game, as the Western Bulldogs come to town in a morning meeting. The Kangaroos were outdone by new team, Port Melbourne in Round 1, but the Bulldogs fared much better with an impressive win over Hawthorn.

Former Richmond-listed youngster Ciara Fitzgerald will make her first appearance for North, who have also called upon Jayde Hamilton and will make at least two changes. Tasmanian Sarah Skinner is one to keep an eye on after her opening round performance, providing terrific drive on the outer.

A trio of senior-listed Bulldogs make way this week through injury and otherwise, but Britney Gutknecht remains after her best afield showing. Louise Bibby and Megan Chadwick are a couple of handy inclusions in the red, white and blue, with at least three changes to be made. The Dogs have some quality running about, but should face a hungry North side looking to bounce back quickly.

Darebin vs. Hawthorn
Sunday March 7, 11:30am
La Trobe University, Bundoora

Two standalone sides are set to do battle in the first game of a La Trobe University double-header, with Darebin taking on Hawthorn at its Bundoora home. Both sides suffered losses in Round 1 but showed promise, with the Falcons falling just short of Williamstown in a low-scoring slog, while Hawthorn fell to a strong Western Bulldogs outfit.

Darebin’s lineup will remain fairly steady following its opening effort in 2021, with just one change expected. Rachel Harris comes into the lineup via the interchange bench, hopefully making a difference for the women’s footballing pioneers. Finishing will be a key area of focus for the Falcons, so watch for Hayley Munro to impact should she be able to capitalise on her chances.

Hawthorn will be forced into a raft of changes this week, with none bigger than skipper Jess Trend missing through injury. The experienced Abbey Holmes is also out along with Dominique Carbone. The likes of Chloe Bain and Olivia Flanagan should provide some respite along with Maddi Shaw, while Eastern Ranges prospects Isabelle Khoury, Tilly Hardy and Jess Grace are promising inclusions. Should they settle amid said changes, the Hawks should prove tough to beat.

Carlton vs. Port Melbourne
Sunday March 7, 2:30pm
La Trobe University, Bundoora

The round’s final game sees Carlton take on Port Melbourne at La Trobe University on Sunday afternoon, with the Blues out to claim their first points in 2021. Their opening round loss to Casey was a far cry from Port’s momentous maiden win over North Melbourne, which makes this contest a tough one to call.

The Blues will make a couple of changes, building on their initial lineup. Experienced senior player Jess Edwards should serve the defence well alongside leaders Jen Lew and Ally Bild, while Paige Trudgeon looks to impact once again after her two-goal outing and Winnie Laing promises to provide plenty of outside run.

The Borough will lose their Round 1 spearhead in Christina Bernardi as she looks to crack the Richmond side, but former Carlton utility Bride Kennedy is a promising inclusion. Melissa Kuys will again be Port’s key player at the heart of the lineup, helping lead some promising young talent listed at AFLW and VFLW level.

Image Credit: Collingwood FC Media

2021 VFLW Round 1 wrap: Port claims maiden win, Pies and Gulls get up in thrillers

PORT Melbourne celebrated its maiden Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s appearance with a win on Saturday morning, helping kick off the 2021 season in style. Collingwood and Williamstown each held on to secure thrilling two-point victories, while Casey, the Southern Saints and Western Bulldogs also started their campaigns on the winners list. That, and more in our Round 1 wrap.

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.0 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.4 (22)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.2 | 3.3 | 6.5 | 8.7 (55)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: B. Brown, A. Hamilton, M. Kiely
Port Melbourne: C. Bernardi 3, S. McNamara, E. Wilson, S. Locke, A. Edmonds, M. Kuys

BEST:

North Melbourne: S. Skinner, M. Kiely, A. Hamilton, A. O’Loughlin, M. Eastman, L. Wright
Port Melbourne: M. Kuys, C. Bernardi, O. Barton, A. Edmonds, E. Wilson, H. McLaren

Port Melbourne’s inaugural VFLW campaign got off to the perfect start on Saturday morning, as the Borough kicked away to a 33-point victory at Arden Street Oval. While Port led at every break, North remained in the hunt up to half time at only eight points adrift, before the Borough kicked away with five goals in the second half to claim a historic 8.7 (55) to 3.4 (22) win. Richmond-listed forward Christina Bernardi found some scoring form with three majors for Port, while fellow goalkickers Melissa Kuys, Alice Edmonds, and Elizabeth Wilson were among the victors’ best players. Meagan Kiely and ruck recruit Lexi Hamilton found the goals for North Melbourne, who also blooded fellow scorer and 2020 draftee Brooke Brown. Skilful winger Sarah Skinner was named the Roos’ best in the loss, as they look to regroup against the Western Bulldogs in Round 2. Meanwhile, Port takes on Carlton next time out.

GEELONG 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 6.6 (42)
COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 4.2 | 6.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS:

Geelong: O. Barber 3, G. Clarke 2, D. Moloney
Collingwood: I. Barnett 4, M. Zander, B. Smith, M. Shevlin

BEST:

Geelong: R. Caris, P. Sheppard, B. Pratt, O. Barber, T. Meissner, L. Gardiner
Collingwood: I. Barnett, M. Zander, M. Shevlin, G. Ricardo, J. Ferguson, E. Jackson

Collingwood warded off a fast finishing Geelong to win by two points on Saturday afternoon, making for a heart-stopping start to both side’s seasons. The Magpies established a handy two-goal buffer at half time and extended it a touch further heading into the final break to put themselves in the box seat. Matilda Zander looked to have wrapped up the result with her goal early in the final term, but the Cats made Collingwood earn the 7.2 (44) to 6.6 (42) win, kicking the last three goals to move agonisingly close to a huge comeback. Geelong’s AFLW influence shone through as top flight Cats kicked each of their goals, led by first year tall Olivia Barber (three). Another tall, Rene Caris was also terrific, while Paige Sheppard made a successful return to high-level football in the hoops. Imogen Barnett was Collingwood’s best with four goals and was supported well by South Australian recruit Zander and AFLW-listed utility Maddie Shevlin was also impactful.

CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)
CASEY 0.1 | 2.4 | 4.9 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:

Carlton: P. Trudgeon 2, S. Lawrence
Casey: B. Tarrant 5, I. Milford, T. Fellows

BEST:

Carlton: J. Lew, W. Laing, C. Hammans, T. Kolevski, P. Trudgeon, T. Zampaglione
Casey: K. Thompson, E. Horne, B. Tarrant, M. Caris, S. Fairchild, T. Fellows

Casey was made to break away twice, but managed to get the job done comfortably against Carlton with a 36-point win at Princes Park on Saturday. A tense deadlock gripped the opening term before things began to open up, and Casey got away to a two-goal lead. Carlton hit back in the third term after a scoreless half, but fell back behind just as quickly as the visitors prettied up their side of the scoreboard. Melbourne-listed forward Brenna Tarrant was terrific in the important moments, finishing with five goals as the best player afield. Maggie Caris and Imogen Milford showed some of their raw ability, while skipper Samantha Johnson was strong in midfield and Kelly Thompson also fared well. Winnie Laing won a heap of ball from the wing for Carlton, while leaders Jen Lew and Ally Bild were solid in defence. New Blue Paige Trudgeon also impressed in bursts, booting two goals in the losing effort.

W. BULLDOGS 3.2 | 5.3 | 8.4 | 11.6 (72)
HAWTHORN 1.2 | 3.3 | 3.3 | 3.6 (30)

GOALS:

W. Bulldogs: B. Gutknecht 2, N. Morris-Dalton, I. Pritchard, A. Scott, V. Murphy, G. Lagioia, B. Hards, I. Grant, M. Sandral, A. van Oosterwijck
Hawthorn: J. Williams, E. Mcilvena, J. Owen

BEST:

W. Bulldogs: B. Gutknecht, K. Betts, N. McMahon, R. Christgoergl, I. Pritchard, M. Sandral
Hawthorn: J. Owen, K. Dudley, J. Williams, A. Holmes, C. Brown, L. Szigeti

Western Bulldogs kicked away after half time to a comfortable 42-point victory over Hawthorn, providing pleasing viewing for home fans at Whitten Oval on Sunday morning. Having built a steady two-goal buffer, the young pups kept Hawthorn goalless after half time while piling on six goals up the other end to achieve a resounding 11.6 (72) to 3.6 (30) result. A strong AFLW-listed contingent helped the Bulldogs hold sway, with midfielder-forward Britney Gutknecht best afield and the leading goalkicker with two majors. Fellow goalkicker Amelia can Oosterwijck found a good amount of ball, while skipper Riley Christgoergl was prominent in midfield and Dogs signing Annabel Strahan impressed. Jemma Owen was the Hawks’ standout figure, with Abbey Holmes‘ experience helping their cause and captain Jess Trend proving influential before coming off with injury.

ESSENDON 0.2 | 0.4 | 2.4 | 4.5 (29)
STH. SAINTS 1.2 | 5.4 | 5.4 | 7.5 (47)

GOALS:

Essendon: A. Quigley 2, C. McIntosh, A. Barba
Sth Saints: J. Matin 3, V. Moreau 2, T. Bohanna, G. De Angelis

BEST:

Essendon: C. Ugle, C. McIntosh, F. Frew, A. Barba, K. Heil, A. Morcom
Sth Saints: J. Matin, H. Stuart, L. Burke, T. Bohanna, E. Vanderheym, R. Ott

Southern Saints put in the work early to set up an 18-point win over Essendon at The Hangar on Sunday morning, making for an ideal start to the Saints’ campaign. After a tight opening term, the Saints broke away to a five-goal lead at the main break, but were slowly pegged back in the third term as Essendon threatened to pounce. In the end, Southern had put enough on the board to hold out for a 7.5 (47) to 4.5 (29) victory. St Kilda-listed newcomer Jess Matin was outstanding with three goals and plenty of work going both ways, as teammate Poppy Kelly dominated the hitouts. Hannah Stuart was another among the Saints’ best, with Valerie Moreau (two goals) also in the action. In a losing effort, Essendon vice-captain Courtney Ugle was judged her side’s best player, while another mainstay in Cecilia McIntosh also impacted, finding the big sticks alongside Alana Barba and Alexandra Quigley.

DAREBIN 0.3 | 1.5 | 1.7 | 1.9 (15)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

Darebin: H. Munro
Williamstown: R. Tripodi, M. Williamson

BEST:

Darebin: S. Cubasch, K. Roe, M. Huta, K. McNiece, H. Munro, S. Elarmaly
Williamstown: M. Williamson, E. Meade, G. Biedenweg-Webster, A. Whelan, R. Tripodi, L. King

Williamstown came out on top in a low-scoring slog between two standalone sides, holding on to beat Darebin by two points at La Trobe University on Sunday. Down by the same margin at the first two breaks, the Seagulls broke ahead in term three and somehow managed to defend their lead thereafter despite some immense pressure from the Falcons. The 2.5 (17) to 1.9 (15) scoreline was indicative of both team’s lack of polish inside 50, but also testament to their structures and defensive acumen. Dynamic midfielder-forward Megan Williamson was among the Seagulls’ best, finding the scoreboard alongside Ruby Tripodi. Leader Erin Meade was also instrumental, and Lana King showed some promise on debut. For Darebin, Sidney Cubasch was named best while Kathleen Roe was reliable as ever from defence, and Hayley Munro proved dangerous as she rotated forward from the ruck.

2021 VFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Revamped state league returns after lost season

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition returns this weekend, with a revamped structure seeing the season run concurrently with that of the AFL Women’s (AFLW). As somewhat of a reserves league to aligned sides in the top flight, the VFLW features 12 teams in 2021, including Port Melbourne after the Borough took on Richmond’s license. Round 1 sees fixtures spread evenly over Saturday and Sunday, starting at Arden Street as North Melbourne hosts Port Melbourne.

North Melbourne vs. Port Melbourne
Saturday February 27, 10:00am
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne welcomes competition newcomer, Port Melbourne to the VFL Women’s on Saturday morning as the two sides open season 2021 at Arden Street Oval. While still a proud standalone club, the Borough has taken on Richmond’s VFLW license and will thus have access to Tigers players who miss out on AFLW selection. Likewise, North Melbourne’s top flight alignment will see some senior listed Kangaroos line up in the blue and white each week.

The likes of Richmond forward Christina Bernardi and Melissa Kuys will be among the experienced names set to lead the Borough’s efforts, while an all-Richmond half-back line of Hannah McLaren, Sarah Sansonetti, and Laura McClelland should prove difficult to budge. Murray Bushrangers graduate Sophie Locke is another exciting young talent in Port’s side, named in the back pocket.

New Roo Katelyn Cox is set for a reserves outing in North’s midfield, lining up next to Meagan Kiely and Bethany Lynch with Lexi Hamilton a handy ruck to be roving under. Nikki Wallace, another with AFLW experience lines up in defence and Brooke Brown gets a gig at the other end of the ground. Brown was taken by North Melbourne as a surprise father-daughter selection in 2020.

Expect North Melbourne’s hardness and pressure around the ball to be a real feature, as Port looks to bring an exciting transition style to the fore in what should be a competitive start to the 2021 season.

Geelong vs. Collingwood
Saturday February 27, 12:00pm
Deakin University, Geelong (Waurn Ponds)

AFLW-aligned sides Geelong and Collingwood go head-to-head at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds on Saturday afternoon, looking to start their campaigns on the right foot. Both sides boast a strong mix of youth and experience in their Round 1 lineups, with the Cats benefitting significantly from their alignment to the top flight when it comes to the young talent at their disposal. Collingwood, of course, remains the reigning premier after the 2020 season was scrapped.

Among the exciting brigade of up-and-comers, Olivia Barber has been named at full forward and will spearhead the attack alongside skipper, Michelle Fedele. Paige Sheppard is poised to make her return to football in the hoops, named among an exciting midfield with Cats AFLW youngsters Laura Gardiner, Darcy Moloney, and ruck Rene Caris having all gained experience at senior level.

Collingwood’s tall stocks should trouble the Cats, particularly up forward. Senior ruck Bella Smith takes up the full forward spot with Sarah King set to take the first bounce, while Imogen Barnett is another to watch in Collingwood’s front half. Smith’s former Norwood teammate Matilda Zander looms as an exciting addition from the SANFL, with the Magpies’ forward depth pushing Amelia Velardo to half-back.

The Magpies will look to adopt a similar gameplan to their AFLW side, looking to take the game on in transition with an exciting handball style while also taking hold of the game when required. Geelong will also play an attacking brand, with youthful exuberance and instinct also poised to come into the Cats’ thinking.

Carlton vs. Casey Demons
Saturday February 27, 2:00pm
Princes Park

Another all-aligned clash takes place at Princes Park as Carlton and Casey Demons lock horns, rounding out Saturday’s fixtures. The Blues have hit the reset button on their VFLW program and will look a very fresh side this year, adopting a strong youth focus to help feed their AFLW squad. Casey also has strong ties to its AFLW-aligned team in Melbourne, with a fit and strong Demons unit out to prove just how fruitful their preseason has been.

The Blues will be led from the back with skipper Ally Bild lining up next to vice-captain Jen Lew across half-back, while Carlton-listed speedster Charlotte Hammans completes the line. Coming down from Cairns, Jasmine Ware is another to watch in Carlton’s defence, while Akayla Peterson looms as a high-upside type at the other end. Carlton draftees Winnie Laing and Paige Trudgeon will also get some run into their legs in the front half.

Casey captain Samantha Johnson is her side’s major off-season coup and will anchor the midfield alongside first year Melbourne midfielder, Megan Fitzsimon. Both will benefit from the ruckwork of Maggie Caris, while an all-Melbourne half-back line of Mietta Kendall, Isabella Simmons, and Irishwoman Lauren Magee should prove exciting to watch. Brenna Tarrant also features at full back, with three senior games under her belt this year.

With new coach Peter Mercoulia also embedded in Melbourne’s coaching staff, Casey will look to play fast and put heavy scoreboard pressure on. Carlton is led by a new coach of its own in Luke O’Shannessy, who should be able to extract great things from the Blues’ young talent with his vast pathways experience.

Western Bulldogs vs. Hawthorn
Sunday February 28, 10:00am
Whitten Oval

The Western Bulldogs kick off their 2021 campaign at home as Hawthorn rolls into town on Sunday morning, looking to take a big scalp early. The Bulldogs have built one of the best young AFLW lists, with the vast array of talent spilling into its reserves side and making for an exciting squad on paper. The standalone Hawks are also strong on youth, but have attracted some big-name experience with Bec Goddard set to take the reins as head coach for the first time since 2018.

An embarrassment of riches sees the Bulldogs’ forwardline stacked with five AFLW-listed talents, including Isabella Grant, Gemma Lagioia, and the experienced Lauren Spark. Mary Sandral is the lone VFLW-listed player to start in attack, though the likes of Nicole McMahon (ruck), skipper Riley Christgoergl (half-back), and vice-captain Katelyn Betts (centre) will be consistent VFLW figures this year. Under McMahon, the likes of Isabelle Pritchard, Brooke Hards, and Britney Gutknecht should be served well in midfield.

Some well-renowned names in female footballing circles will provide invaluable experience to Hawthorn’s fledgling side, with stalwart Meg Hutchins poised to take on a number of roles aside from her forwardline listing, while Abbey Holmes is a tough body at the contest who will rotate forward through midfield. Skipper Jess Trend is another with AFLW experience who should impact greatly, while Northern Territory recruit Dominique Carbone has serious potential. She is set for her VFLW debut on the same weekend the Darwin Buffettes play finals back home.

The Hawks should prove a well structured side under Goddard and will be sure to crack in hard, though the abundance of promising young options for the Bulldogs will be incredibly tough to overcome. Should they not rely on too few, the Hawks will be ultra competitive in the face of the Dogs’ rawness and fierce style.

Essendon vs. Southern Saints
Sunday February 28, 10:30am
The Hangar

Essendon is set to unveil its shiny new facilities at The Hangar on Sunday morning, hosting the Southern Saints in what should be a competitive clash. Gunning for an AFLW license, the Bombers remain standalone but have built a strong list with more continuity than other sides heading into 2021. The Saints have their St Kilda alignment to lean on, but are looking strong in their own right after a solid preseason.

Anchoring Essendon’s side will be skipper Georgia Nanscawen, who is part of a terrific spine in the red and black. Cecilia McIntosh lines up down back, while Courtney Ugle provides some grunt, and Mia-Rae Clifford gets a fresh start up forward. Of the up-and-comers, Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba have already performed well in the sash, with a host of young prospects set to filter through Essendon’s lineup as the season progresses.

Tara Bohanna (full back) and Deanna Jolliffe (rover) will lead the Saints out as co-captain Frankie Hocking has not been named. Georgia McLean is one to watch off half-back having crossed from Casey, while Poppy Kelly and Alice Burke are the only St Kilda AFLW players to feature in the lineup – both named on the interchange bench ahead of three emergencies from the senior squad.

The Saints have not put a ceiling on their potential and promise to open the game up with unpredictable ball movement. The Bombers’ continuity as a group and greater poise with such experience could well play a factor in this clash, with both sides backing their cohesion after so long away from competitive action.

Darebin vs. Williamstown
Sunday February 28, 11:30am
La Trobe University, Bundoora

Pioneer club, the Darebin Falcons take on Williamstown in Round 1’s closing fixture on Sunday, set to play out at La Trobe University in Bundoora. Both proud standalone clubs, these two sides will be made up purely of VFLW-listed talent early on before gaining access to NAB League and potentially even AFLW talent as those seasons are run and done. The two sides already faced off during preseason, with Williamstown winning by 11 points at the same venue.

Led by the returning Stephanie Simpson, Darebin has a bunch of leaders set to build the standards under coach Mitch Skelly. In defence, Gena Lawson-Tavan is one who promises to do exactly that as vice-captain, while fellow leaders Cherelle Byrne (centre) and Alyssa Mifsud (full forward) are other leaders littered up and down the spine. One Falcon to watch is Stephanie Elarmaly, a youngster who has come through Darebin’s youth system.

2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid crossed from Collingwood after her flag triumph, and takes over an exciting standalone squad. Skipper Erin Meade has locked in a spot at half-back, with reigning best and fairest winner Megan Williamson set to resume her midfield duties. Asha Price and Eliza Straford should be good value up forward, while Scarlett Dunell, the sister of former Seagull Sam lines up in defence.

There is often a great unknown around the standalone sides, especially after so long away from competitive action, but the two sides will know each other well after their preseason meeting and will get a good assessment of their 2021 chances in this bout.

Image Credit: Kelly Defina/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW season preview: Hawthorn

FOR the first time since 2018, Bec Goddard is set to take the senior coaching reigns during competitive action, when she leads Hawthorn’s VFLW side into battle for Round 1 of the new season. Heading a historic all-female coaching staff, Goddard says she is “excited” to be part of the Hawks’ initiative to provide greater opportunities for women in football – not just on the field.

“For me, and when I talk to the players about it, it was always about the best coach for the job and they happen to be women,” Goddard said. “I’ve got some great teachers on coaching staff that support me, have got a lot of similar values and they just hadn’t had an opportunity at the next level. This is their opportunity.

“It’s one of those things where in five years time when Hawthorn is in the AFLW competition, we could look back and go ‘well, what do we do to get more women in these positions at the club?’ and start from that point, or we could start now. It’s brave and overt leadership by the club to say that we want to change the industry and give opportunities to women, not just in playing but all elements of the football department.”

Goddard will have familiar faces at her disposal in 2021, leaning on some legendary names in the women’s footballing sphere while also attempting to get the most out of some promising young talent. 39-year-old utility Meg Hutchins is among the experienced members of Hawthorn’s revamped squad, described by Goddard as akin to “the timeless piece of furniture in an expensive house.”

“She’s got so much football experience and will bookend our team this year,” Goddard said. “Meg and I often talk about how the end of football is going to wrap up for both of us and I keep saying to Meg ‘well, you’re a long time retired so while you can keep playing, why don’t you?’.

“That’s where she’s at so it’s great to have her playing, and she’s fully fit. In fact, I look at Meg and I think she’s the fittest I’ve ever seen her across her years of women’s football. It’s exciting, hopefully she has a great season and you might see her in some different positions.”

With such vast experience in the women’s coaching ranks comes a handy list of contacts, which has played a part in Hawthorn’s recruitment of players like Abbey Holmes and new skipper Jess Trend. Both have been AFLW-listed players and the latter is a “surprise package” of sorts according to Goddard, hardly missing a beat since deciding to join the brown and gold. She was one of the many signings identified as key members of the side by her new head coach.

“‘I had a couple of texts with (Trend) and then she came down to training and she hasn’t missed a session,” Goddard said. “I think coming out of a global pandemic, we’re looking for a carrier of a good disease and Jess Trend is just that. She’s infectious with her attitude, her happiness to be around football and bringing good elite habits to the group.

“In the middle of the field we’ve brought in some experience in Abbey Holmes. Abbey and I obviously worked together at Adelaide for the inaugural premiership year. She’s got a wealth of football IQ that she brings and shares with the younger players in the group, as well as some great physical attributes for football. She’s tough at the contest, so it’s exciting to see Abbey contribute at Hawthorn.

Olivia Flanagan will play an important role this year. She’s coming back from a little bit of sickness in the last couple of weeks so she’s named as an emergency this week, but I expect ‘Liv’ to play a lot of football. She’ll make an impact up forward and on the ball this year to make her a bit more diverse in what she does.

“We’ve got young Territorian Dominique Carbone coming in from Darwin this weekend to play her first season in the VFLW, she’s a really exciting young talent with a basketball background. She plays low to the ground, looks like an athlete, is an athlete, behaves like an athlete, and she’s ready to take her football to the next level.”

Goddard is also excited to have full access to the next generation of prospects swarming through the elite talent pathways. Through a competition restructure, the NAB League Girls season now runs concurrently with that of the VFLW, allowing Under 18 and 19 players to also ply their trade in the state league system.

Their impressive skill and scope for improvement has impressed many a VFLW coach, no less Goddard who suggested tongue-in-cheek that she is “really looking forward to the (NAB League) byes” in order to gain access to said talent as much as possible.

“They’re such great footballers,” Goddard said. “Their skills are so impressive and they’re just growing in terms of their football IQ each week, understanding how we want to play football. It’s just great to have them there and contributing to a really high standard of training.

Speaking of training, the Hawks returned in “better than expected” shape after a year on the sidelines, though plenty of craft sessions and a heavy incorporation of match simulation into training has lifted their touch back up to scratch. A single scratch match, against Geelong provided even more insight into how the brown and gold are shaping up ahead of Round 1, with 29 players trialled and a bunch of magnets locked in on Goddard’s whiteboard.

Players returning from injury will also have a say on the side’s shape during the season, with a few players who earned high praise from Goddard expected to make a splash once fully fit. The new 12-day concussion mandate has also been a factor in availabilities across the competition.

“We’ve got a couple of players to come back still,” Goddard said. “We’ve got Tayah Kelly who obviously is a fairly damaging midfielder, she’s still out with a bit of an issue with her hip, so I think we’re at least three weeks away with her.

Chloe Bain, who I think is probably going to be one of the most exciting centre half-forwards in the competition – new to the game and she’s an extraordinary athlete with a rowing background, very long levers – is out this week with concussion. But when she’s fully fit and firing she will take the competition by storm, I’ve got no doubt.

Hawthorn’s first point of call in 2021 will be a clash against the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval on Sunday morning. Goddard says she is taking a “simple” approach when it comes to expectations, but is excited to be able to get back into action.

“I think we’re going to keep it really simple and we want to enjoy our first game together as a group, that’ll be the most important thing,” she said. “Also just being in the contest and making a real fist of Round 1 and getting to feel what it’s like to be with the team to achieve a common goal.”

Image Credit: Hawthorn Media

Subiaco ready to roar into 2021

A NEW coach and a renewed focus will see Subiaco amongst the contenders in the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition. After reaching the 2020 WAFL Women’s Grand Final following a few near misses after great regular seasons, the Lions just fell short against a determined Peel Thunder on the day.

In 2021, Subiaco has welcomed a new coach in Michael Farmer coming on board to replace player-turned-coach Amy Lavell for the upcoming season. Despite missing out on the ultimate glory in 2020, the Lions did have a couple of players drafted, with Tiah Haynes returning to Fremantle – and has already made an impact – with Maggie MacLachlan a late replacement player for Jess Trend at the Dockers.

With those two out of the side, the Lions still have plenty of youth and experience to rely on, led by Danica Pisconeri who is the reigning back-to-back league best and fairest, and remains a towering figure through both the ruck and up forward. She has plenty of experience, and whilst the likes of Hayley Miller, Janelle Cuthbertson and Ange Stannett are among those on AFL Women’s lists, if they are available at some point will provide a boost to the Lions.

Tarni Golisano has been voted in as Subiaco captain this year, with other leaders being Jayme Harken and Amy Hunt who were named as vice-captains for the team in 2021.

A young star coming through the program is top-ager Charlie Thomas who is an AFL Women’s Academy member and one who knows how to use the ball in the forward half. She is well complemented by the likes of over-agers Abbey Dowrick and Kia Buckley who are both returning from injury. Another top-ager added to the list is Scarborough junior Selina Spiers, with some over-age talent adding some important depth in there too.

Thomas is the Lions’ top draft prospect for 2021, with the natural footballer able to not only execute well by hand or foot, but make the right decisions in doing so. She still has plenty of improvement left in her, but is touted as one of Western Australia’s most promising talents, and will be a leading player at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships in a couple of months.

Ellie Blackmore was one of Subiaco’s best in defeat from the 2020 WAFL Women’s Grand Final and will be looking to lead the way again, while playmaker Beatrice Devlyn, ruck Jessica Ritchie and the consistent Lindal Rohde are other names to keep any eye on in 2021.

Subiaco takes on South Fremantle on the weekend, with the Bulldogs still searching for their first win after an inaugural season went without collecting any points. Hungry to start off on the right note, expect the Lions to head in as strong favourites for that clash, but should be another contender in 2021, as more youth get opportunities as the season runs concurrently with the AFL Women’s competition.

Picture credit: WAFL

Opinion: Could the AFL Women’s 2021 season be the most competitive yet?

IT is still just over two months until the first bounce of the 2021 AFL Women’s season, but the excitement is growing. The abrupt end to the 2020 season – with no premiership awarded and indeed no last two weeks of finals – left a mixture of disappointment and wondering of what could have been in many minds of AFL Women’s fans. Once the initial disappointment was over, clubs got to work on either re-signing, trading or heading to the draft in what has set up a more even competition next year.

The top sides will contend again, and whilst Fremantle and North Melbourne showed that they arguably deserved to be in the 2020 decider, they were pushed by opponents at times, and those opponents will be battling for a spot. The young pups at the Western Bulldogs and talented bunch at St Kilda will also improve, and even the cellar dwellers in Richmond and West Coast have made net gains over the off-season. Realistically the only club likely to fall next season – through design in many ways – is Melbourne, as the Dees play the long-term game as we have seen with the Dogs who are now building back up the ladder. Here are the contenders, outside chances and rebuilders:

CONTENDERS:

Fremantle

At the top of the list is the side that went unbeaten in 2020 and have no reason not go go there again. They have a really strong defensive unit, and consistent midfield, as well as an attacking front six that were able to regularly hit the scoreboard. Throw in another year of Roxy Roux and the X-factor of Mikayla Morrison and Sarah Verrier, and despite being one of the teams to beat, the West Australian team remain as one of the best in the competition.

North Melbourne:

Similarly to Fremantle, the main loss over the off-season was Jess Trend, though the Roos just continue to stock up on incredibly talented players. They went to the draft and someone like Bella Eddey will slot into an already potent forward line, which was hard to contain. The Roos were pushed by the Magpies in the elimination final, which will give them extra motivation to improve. It is hard not seeing North Melbourne up there at the pointy end of the season.

Adelaide:

The resurgence of the Crows will be swift. They might not have had the year they wanted, but it was no wonder with their two best players out on long-term injuries and a number of others having delayed preseasons. They have added readymade talents in Teah Charlton, Ashleigh Woodland and Rachelle Martin who will compete for spots from Round 1. It would not be unreasonable to think with all the inclusions and returnees, the Crows are favourites again.

Carlton:

A Grand Final two seasons ago and finals last season, the Blues were the only team to knock off North Melbourne last season. You cannot help but feel they are within touching distance of the premiership cup, and have an abundance of youth to go with their talent. Do not forget they added someone called Elise O’Dea over the off-season, and if that elite talent was not enough, they stocked up on captains in Mimi Hill and Winnie Laing from the NAB League who will stop at nothing for success.

OUTSIDE CHANCES:

Collingwood:

It seemed not that long ago that there was a mass exodus at the Pies and people were wondering what the future held. In 12 months the Pies managed to turn it around and surprise with a good 2020 season to almost stun North Melbourne in the elimination final. The loss of Sarah D’Arcy among others will hurt, but they have picked up some versatile players in the draft, and with Tarni Brown joining her brothers at the Magpies, it will be an exciting time for Magpies fans who need something to cheer for next year.

Western Bulldogs:

This might seem like a surprise, but trust me when this group has enough development, they will go through the roof. The amount of sheer X-factor, upside and versatility in the team that added to its stocks at the draft table again, the Dogs can go deep and if you like an outside chance winning the flag, the Dogs could be that bet. They added Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard to the ever-growing list of former Vic Metro stars, and they will push for spots early on. Expect them to be the most exciting team running around.

Geelong

On paper the Cats have the cattle to compete against the best sides, and added some unbelievable talents in the AFL Women’s Draft, such as Darcy Moloney and Olivia Barber. They have not lost a great deal over the off-season with Mel Hickey of course retiring with big shoes to fill in the captain’s absence. The Cats have a well-balanced list and honestly there is no reason they should not be an outside chance for the flag. Their young talents might need another year, but feel they have the jump on the other expansion sides thanks to that extra season.

Brisbane:

A little more outside than the others, but have enough talent to contend if they all click. It will be a competitive group wherever the Lions land as they will be placed with Gold Coast Suns and both should be fairly even. Zimmorlei Farquharson is the draftee to watch next season with her high-flying ability and ground level work, but let us not forget that Lily Postlethwaite, Isabel Dawes and co. will have another year of experience and ready to take the Lions back to the decider.

GWS GIANTS

Arguably the hardest team to place, because they are always competitive, but just off the pace of the top teams. With another year into the younger players such as Alyce Parker, and then adding in Tarni Evans amongst the top teenagers coming in, they should do enough to put themselves in a position to compete against anyone. Whether or not they have enough top-end talent to knock off a Fremantle or North Melbourne, it is yet to be seen, but they make it into this group.

ANOTHER YEAR NEEDED:

St Kilda

Without a doubt the Saints will be in the next bracket in 2022, but for 2021, they will be in a similar position to the Dogs last season. They might not get the wins on the board that they deserve all the time, but they have more than enough talent to worry any side on their day. Once their young guns develop – adding the likes of Tyanna Smith, Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis to an already talented list – they will be a scary proposition. They will fast-track their development in the AFL Women’s too.

Gold Coast

The other expansion team from last year that showed promising signs and made finals, the Suns might be somewhat unlucky not to be in the next bracket up, but depending on the pool they land in, and the finals structure, they still might need the extra year. They have the talent to step up again, with Annise Bradfield coming in and Sarah Perkins providing experience through the draft. It would not be a shock to see them push sides for a finals spot, but willing to give them an extra year to do it.

REBUILDERS:

Melbourne

For the first time since the start of the AFL Women’s, the Demons are in full rebuild mode. They were always thereabouts in terms of competing for a flag, but just could not get it done. Going down this route is the right avenue, particularly with the drafts always getting stronger. The Demons have added some great youth through the draft, led by Alyssa Bannan, and might suffer a few more losses next season than past years, but will reap the benefits long-term.

Richmond

The winless Tigers added some much needed experience to help Monique Conti through the midfield over the break, then grabbed Ellie McKenzie with the top pick in the draft. The Tigers opted for an immediate experience boost, and seem to have everything in place to be more competitive in 2021. In saying that, the other teams are still ahead of them, but the Tigers will not be the easy-beats of 2020 with the trio of Sarah‘s in Hosking, D’Arcy and Dargan among the inclusions next year.

West Coast

The team out west will step up next season to be more competitive in 2021, but have not been able to add as much experience as the Tigers. Bella Lewis and Shanae Davison are a couple of young guns who will have an immediate impact if given the chance, and add to the growing list of young talents like Mikayla Bowen. They are still firmly in the rebuilding phase, but the Eagles should show further signs of development in 2021 and will be one to watch in the future.

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Fremantle Dockers & West Coast Eagles

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Next up in our series are the two sides from Western Australia, in Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles.

Fremantle Dockers – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 14, 30, 46, 58

Off-season summary:

The Dockers made a few moves in the off-season with three players delisted alongside the retirement of Kate Flood. The experienced Mia-Rae Clifford, as well as Sarah Garstone and Lindal Rohde were all delisted by the Dockers, while Tayla Bresland headed to state rivals West Coast for Pick 46. Coming into the side was North Melbourne’s Jess Trend for a bargain basement price of Pick 44, effectively making it a straight swap in Trend for Bresland. The Dockers wrapped up a productive off-season by picking up Tarnee Tester as a delisted free agent seeing enough to suggest she has more to give at the elite level.

Finishing on top of the AFL Women’s table undefeated in 2020, the Dockers will be determined to back it up with a successful year in 2021 and enter with the second and third selections in the AFL Women’s Draft.

A draft look:

The two players the Dockers will likely look at are two hardened competitors in Sarah Verrier and Bella Lewis, who both trained at the Dockers over the summer. Verrier was a member of the premiership-winning Peel Thunder side in the midfield, while Lewis continued to improve through the midfield-half-forward line and is readymade to have an impact if need be. Both would be worthy selections with Verrier a player who has caught the eye for some time at junior level.

Others who fall under the Fremantle catchment include Lewis’ Claremont teammates, Jess Low and Ella Smith, and towering key forward Rosie Walsh who has enjoyed a strong season at senior level for the Sharks. Of course the Dockers could look at a number of West Coast Academy players too if they see fit in the draft.

West Coast Eagles – Western Australia pool

Draft selections: 3, 18, 32

Off-season summary:

West Coast made plenty of moves over the off-season from a list perspective with Kate Bartlett, Cassie Davidson, Emily McGuire, Danika Pisconeri and Tester all delisted. Most of them stepped up at WAFL Women’s level to suggest that they could all earn a call-up if the Eagles – or Dockers as they did with Tester – feel they deserve another chance, while Emily Bonser also announced her retirement.

In terms of trades, Western Bulldogs’ Irish recruit Aisling McCarthy joined the blue and gold for effectively Pick 16, as the Eagles helped the Bulldogs move one spot higher on the draft board which would not impact West Coast having the first selection in the West Australian draft. They also brought in Bresland for Pick 46 who will join the raft of players switching between the teams out west.

A draft look:

The Eagles have a number of top-end talented youngsters in high-flyers Mikayla Morrison and Shanae Davison. Holding pick one and three in the AFL Women’s Draft, they could secure both with those selections, or look at one of the Fremantle prospects too. Morrison has velcro-hands in any conditions and is so classy around the ground, while Davison is an athletic high flyer with a remarkable contested marking ability.

Looking at some of the other West Coast-aligned players, other Swan Districts teammates in twins, Brianna and Mikayla Hyde, and Sarah Wielstra have earned AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, as has Subiaco’s Maggie MacLachlan.

As an overall look at the West Australian draft crop, there is plenty to like about the players on offer, and both sides will be stronger for it with talent at ground level and in the air that could step up and have a massive impact at AFL Women’s level next season.

Roos hold on in thriller against determined Magpies

A JASMINE Garner intercept mark in the last 15 seconds of the game at half-back has helped North Melbourne survive an epic fight from Collingwood to keep the Roos’ premiership hopes alive with a 5.4 (34) to 5.2 (32) semi-final win at Ikon Park.

Both teams were hot early on, providing plenty of pressure on the opposition ball carrier with the Roos’ slick kicking helping them kick an early goal through Daisy Bateman. It came from an uncharacteristic error from Stacey Livingstone who kicked straight to Garner who hit up Bateman just 20m out from goal. Moments later Livingstone again kicked it out on the full under pressure and the Roos had a chance for another, with loose checking from the defence seeing Ash Riddell take the free kick and deliver to Emma Kearney who found Sophie Abbatangelo in the pocket. The Pies were able to defend the ball over the line but North controlled the tempo.

Despite’s North Melbourne’s elite kicking above 80 per cent early in the game, the likes of Brit Bonnici and Brianna Davey refused to give in and worked their side back into the contest. Indeed it was a Bonnici tackle that helped set up the Pies for their opening quarter goal. She ran down Jess Trend whose head unfortunately hit the turf. Bonnici found Maddie Shevlin who had a crack but fell short, though a terrific tackle from Jordan Membrey allowed the former Brisbane player to kick a set shot goal from 15m out and bring the margin back to just a point at the first break. Collingwood was winning the contested ball against the Roos’ strong inside brigade, while North Melbourne was equally as surprising winning the outside ball against Collingwood’s runners.

It only took a couple of minutes for North to get an important major in the second term with Kearney creating some run through half-forward to kick to a vacant goalsquare. Kaitlyn Ashmore was the first on the scene and booted a goal from metres out and the lead was back out to seven points. Ashmore was involved again not long after, dropping inside 50 to take an uncontested mark and then putting it lace out to Brittany Gibson against the lighter built Butler, though her subsequent set shot missed. Ashmore was not done though, laying a huge tackle on Sarah Rowe to have a set shot that was deadeye, but unfortunately for the Roo forward, the only player tall enough to reach the set shot – Sharni Layton – was on the line and punched it over.

The game was back on even terms in match play with both team’s defences having an impact. Rebounding off half-back, Ashmore was again involved in the forward half kicking inside 50 but Livingston was back there and reliably rebounded to safety. That effort led the Pies to run it down the field and Mikala Cann got on the end of it with a clever snap around her body to put one through and the margin was just three points. Then came one of the plays of the season courtesy of 2018 Rising Star, Chloe Molloy. The talented utility won the ball at ground level at half-forward against three Roos, sidestepped one and managed to find her way through traffic to deliver it to the open goalsquare to bounce through and the Pies were in front for the first time.

It was a black and white wave at Ikon Park as Collingwood’s prime movers kept the pressure high, and soon it was Jaimee Lambert who at ground level just 15m out from goal kept the ball alive and it ended in the hands of the smart Sarah D’Arcy who put it on her left and slotted it through to hand her team a nine-point lead with two and a half minutes left. Everything was going right for the Magpies as Davey laid a bone-crunching tackle on Garner and Rowe ran down Trend with the defensive measures as impressive as the offensive ones. With 63 seconds left, Nicole Bresnehan did not get low enough for Lambert close to goal and the Magpies star had a chance to pile on another, but her set shot from a tight angle went to the right. A moment of madness saw the Pies almost kick a fifth goal with Molloy reading a play and intercepting it off the bounce but her next kick was well smothered in the dying seconds to ensure the top side only head into half-time with a 10-point deficit.

Layton’s return to the side was proving fruitful with back-to-back tackles on Kearney and Kate Gillespie-Jones to win a free and pump the first ball inside 50 of the second half. The former Diamonds netballer was dominant in the ruck which was a key reason for the Magpies’ dominance since quarter time with Gillespie-Jones replacing the taller Emma King in there for North Melbourne. Garner had the first chance on goal of the second half but opted to pass inboard and the short kick was dropped by Riddell and the Magpies got it to the boundary.

Midway through the term neither side had been able to impact the scoreboard with the arm-wrestle continuing through the middle, though North had more time in the forward half. Abbatangelo almost created some magic by keeping her feet from a forward 50 in a pack of four but missed to the right. From the kick out though, Sarah Wright won a 50m penalty for Eliza Hynes stepping over the mark and the former Carlton VFLW player got on the board from 15m out.

With the Roos now with the momentum, the work of the younger Magpies was crucial. Alana Porter won a great one-on-one at half-back and Cann laid a huge tackle to win the ball back on the wing. Sensing the tide turning, Molloy dropped into defence so each team had an extra number in the back half. With 30 seconds left, Rowe took a sliding mark 30m out from the defensive goal but then went for a short kick and turned it straight over to Gavalas who put it over the goal umpire’s head and as if the whole game had changed, the Roos were now up by three points.

The news went from bad to worse for the Magpies at the final break with best on ground, Bonnici coming off for a concussion test at a time when the underdogs needed an extra push on the inside. Another Collingwood turnover, this time from Layton who kicked to a one-on-two, led to the Roos running it down with an extra number and Abbatangelo marked right on the boundary line to snap and goal with a well-placed banana kick. A minute later the combination between Layton and Membrey was much better with Membrey taking a great contested mark off the boot of Layton and her unbelievable accuracy continued with another deadeye set shot goal.

The Membrey goal broke a three-straight run of majors by North Melbourne and the deficit was back to three points. North was holding up the defence to stop easy outs from the back half for the Magpies, but a strong couple of plays from D’Arcy, Molloy and Davey ensured the line was forced back. There was almost a fitting moment when Davey found a loose Bonnici who had returned to the field without the Kangaroos realising the hardnut had returned to the field. The shot fell short and a Lambert snap missed. Less than two and a half minutes remaining, the margin was just two points in favour of the Conference A winners.

With Pies fans hearts racing, captain Steph Chiocci found Molloy inside 50 who marked but her set shot fell agonisingly short. The ball was still in the Magpies’ forward half with a minute remaining on the clock. Most players were inside Collingwood’s forward 50, but North got it clear and were able to get it back into their half with seconds dying down. One last role of the dice saw the Magpies kick to a Layton-King one-on-one but it was Garner who came over the top to take a match-saving mark and win the game for her side by just two points.

Riddell picked an equal game-high 22 disposals for the Roos, as well as five marks and six tackles, while Garner (15 disposals, five marks and five tackles), Kearney (17 disposals, four tackles) and Gavalas (13 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal) were all impressive. For the Magpies, Bonnici was the best-on with 20 touches – all kicks – three marks and three tackles, while Lambert and Davey both combined for 44 disposals, 11 marks and 10 tackles in the loss. Membrey was he only multiple goalkicker on the day as the teams both spread the scoreboard impact around.

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.4 (34)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 | 5.2 (32)
 

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo, S. Wright, K. Ashmore, E. Gavalas, D. Bateman.
Collingwood: J. Membrey 2, M. Cann, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy.

ADC BEST:

North Melbourne: A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore
Collingwood: B. Bonnici, B. Davey, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Membrey

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: North Melbourne

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

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

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

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

2020 TEAM LIST:

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

Rookies: Aileen Gilroy, Beth Lynch, Mairead Seoighe

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

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

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

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

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

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 14 – Big margins split the ladder

ROUND 14 saw the top sides in the competition all but separate from the lower sides on the ladder, with the top six only needing to continue winning in order to make finals. Wins to four of the top six this week – with the other two sides in Collingwood and Southern Saints having byes – all but locks finals up, with only positions within the six likely to change over the next few rounds. With only two matches left in the season the only side below the six that really has potential to make finals is Geelong, but the side will need to not only win its remaining two games but also rely on other results to go their way to make it through unscathed.

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.4 (4)
DAREBIN 2.4 | 2.5 | 6.11 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS

Williamstown: Nil.
Darebin: M. Wilson 2, L. Pearce, A. Lister, C. Byrne, S. Simpson, L. Arnell.

BEST

Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, J. Kawa, R. Tripodi, S. Whiting, A. Melnikas
Darebin: L. Pearce, A. Lister, R. Hicks, E. O’Dea, C. Byrne, L. Arnell

It was the second time these sides fought it out in 2019, and the Falcons were not going to let their last match define them with a massive 49-point victory over the weekend proving the side has the ability to be better than some of their scores this season suggest. This match spells disaster for the Seagulls however, with the side running out of opportunities to get a second win on the board and this round arguably their best opportunity of doing so. Elise O’Dea and Lauren Pearce paired well across the field to dominate the contest, managing 25 touches apiece while O’Dea also racked up five tackles. Pearce was phenomenal as ever in the ruck, booting a goal and collecting 49 hitouts and six tackles for her efforts. Maddison Wilson kicked two goals from 11 touches while Annalyse Lister also had a solid performance with 15 disposals, nine tackles and a goal. Reni Hicks was phenomenal as ever, as the number one tackler of the competition with another 17 tackles and 16 disposals to her name. For the Seagulls, Mo Hope and Sharnie Whiting were the usual suspects finding plenty of the footy, picking up 21 and 20 disposals apiece while Megan Williamson (17 disposals, 10 tackles), Ruby Tripodi (12 disposals, nine tackles) and Ashlea Melnikas (nine disposals, nine tackles) played their individual roles well to apply pressure on the Falcons but to no avail.

HAWTHORN 1.4 | 2.6 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)
CASEY 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Luke.
Casey: M. Guerin, H. Cordner, S. Notman.

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Membrey, G. Bevan, C. Perera, E. Nixon, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams
Casey: A. McDonough, T. Hanks, M. Hogg, S. Lampard, K. Hore, B. Winbanks

A late fightback by Casey saw the side almost get away with a shock win over the Hawks, but it was too little too late with the Hawks prevailing despite not putting a score on the board in the final term. This was not the percentage boosting win the Hawks wanted however, with the three point win only scraping by in the race for finals. While Casey will be happy with their ability to come back from the loss, they will be rueing missed opportunities after a dominant final term almost got them the win along with relatively even stats across the board. Phoebe McWilliams kicked two goals from six touches as a solid option forward, while a smattering of players did what they could to get on the board but could not convert. Lou Wotton (44 hitouts, 11 touches, 10 tackles) and Bec Beeson (24 disposals, 10 tackles, six marks) starred as usual for the Hawks, finding plenty of the footy while Georgia Bevan starred in the contest with 17 tackles. For Casey, Sarah Lampard put on a solid performance in ultimately her best match for the season with 28 touches, seven marks and five tackles while Maddy Guerin (seven tackles, five marks, one goal) and Lily Mithen (11 tackles, three marks) were next up with 16 touches apiece. Bridie Winbanks and Harriet Cordner combined for 32 hitouts in the ruck, while Shanara Notman kicked a goal in her second match for the side.

GEELONG 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 4.6 (30)
MELBOURNE UNI 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS

Geelong: M. Maguire 2, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel.
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson 3, K. Angelis, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton.

BEST

Geelong: R. Cranston, K. Darby, A. McDonald, L. McEvoy, M. Maguire, M. Keryk
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, B. Gibson, E. Kearney, K. Ebb, A. Runnalls, J. Bruton

Melbourne Uni prevailed in cold conditions down at Geelong, beating the home side by 14 points to maintain their position in the top six and go one game clear of the Cats. While Geelong perhaps didn’t get off to the start they desired, they evened up to lead at half time before failing to put another goal on the board after half time. With a definite scoring end it was the Mugars who made the most of their opportunities, slotting seven goals for the match to set up a solid win despite not putting a score on the board in the final quarter. Jasmine Garner lead the charge for Uni, collecting 31 touches, 10 marks, nine tackles and a goal on her way to dominating all aspects of the contest while Ashleigh Riddell and Jess Trend followed suit combining for 44 touches and 13 tackles. Meanwhile, Britt Gibson kicked three goals from 12 disposals for her best haul of the season so far while Emma Kearney collected 18 touches, seven tackles and a goal in her first match of the season. While it was an evenly matched ruck contest between Vivien Saad (26 hitouts) and Kate Darby (21 hitouts, 18 disposals, five marks, five tackles), Darby well and truly found her form to follow up with two attempts at goal which unfortunately did not hit their mark. Olivia Purcell was the prime ball magnet for Geelong with 20 disposals, while the likes of Richelle Cranston (18 disposals, five tackles) and Madisen Maguire (two goals) put in the hard yards across the field.

CARLTON 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 (21)
RICHMOND 0.6 | 4.7 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS

Carlton: L. Brazzale, A. McKay, S. Wright.
Richmond: T. Stahl 3, T. Brett 3, C. Wakefield , H. Ibrahim, M. Conti, J. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: S. Wright, C. Bromage, B. Gutknecht, B. Gurr, G. Wright, G. Pound
Richmond: A. Edmonds, T. Brett, T. Stahl, M. Conti, J. Kennedy, C. Wakefield

Richmond finally got the big win they have been waiting for over the weekend, confidently running over the Blues by 48 points. While the Tigers certainly had all the momentum early they had big issues meeting targets with six behinds on the board in the first that could have had them up by close to 40 points early. After the first quarter however they unleashed, with the Blues floored by the Tigers as they kicked 10 goals to one in the remaining three terms. With two players individually almost outscoring Carlton on their own, it was always going to be a big win for the Tigers. While a usual suspect in Tayla Stahl kicking three goals from 11 touches and four marks, it was the effort of debutant Teagan Brett that caught the eyes of many with a respective three goals and 12 disposals in her first match in yellow and black. Monique Conti was also impressive with 26 disposals, six tackles and a goal while Alice Edmonds shared the role in ruck well with 32 hitouts and 14 disposals, pairing with Gabby Seymour who collected a further 15 hitouts. For the Blues, Lauren Brazzale was pivotal with 18 disposals and a goal while Gabby Pound (15 disposals, eight tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (13 disposals, six tackles) put in the hard yards to find plenty of ball.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
ESSENDON 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland 2, M. Ward 2, K. McLeod, E. Blackburn.
Essendon: Nil.

BEST

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland, N. Ferres, D. Berry , E. Georgostathis, A. Guest, M. Ward
Essendon: G. Patrikios, S. Audley, L. Ahrens, M. Fogas, A. Barba, E. Ashley-Cooper

The Bulldogs’ massive win this week mirrored their AFL side’s victory, with a 44 point win keeping the Bombers without a goal for the match in what was an impressive display at home. The Bulldogs got off to a solid start kicking five goals nil in the first half before matching it in the second half and denying the Bombers any easy ball. While their accuracy once again left plenty to be desired, the Dogs played a confidence game and were not scared to take advantage of opportunities to keep the Bombers out of the contest. Despite a disappointing performances from the Bombers as a whole, Georgia Patrikios (21 disposals, 11 tackles) and Georgia Nanscawen (21 disposals, six tackles) found plenty of the footy to spur the side forward while Kendra Heil applied some great pressure with nine tackles and 20 touches to her name. While Simone Nalder matched Celine Moody for hitouts (21 apiece), it was the Bulldogs’ use of a second ruck in Nicole McMahon (17 hitouts) that saw them run away with the match. Ellie Blackburn (25 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ellie Gavalas (25 disposals, four tackles) were phenomenal for the home side, while Brooke Lochland and Mikayla Ward kicked two goals apiece, unstoppable inside 50 and Angelina Gogos provided plenty of ball back forward with 12 tackles.