Tag: Kate Gillespie-Jones

2020 AFL Women’s season review: North Melbourne

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

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

RESULTS:

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

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

SEASON HIGH: Finals glory… just

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

SEASON LOW: The Round 1 boilover

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

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE SHREWD RECRUIT:

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

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

THE UTILITY:

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

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

VERDICT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BESTS:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BESTS:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BESTS:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BESTS:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BESTS:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BESTS

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

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

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

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BEST:

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BEST:

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

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BEST:

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

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

By: Taylah Melki

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

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

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

GOALS

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

ADC BESTS:

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

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

By: Taylah Melki

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BESTS:

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

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

Tom Cheesman

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

ADC BEST:

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

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

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

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

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

CARLTON

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

Saturday, February 8

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

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

GOLD COAST

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

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

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

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

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

ADELAIDE

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

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

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

WEST COAST

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

ST KILDA

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

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

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

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

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

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

GEELONG

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

ROUND 1 TIPS:

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

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: North Melbourne

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

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

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

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

2020 TEAM LIST:

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

Rookies: Aileen Gilroy, Beth Lynch, Mairead Seoighe

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

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

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

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

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

VFLW Preview: Finals Week 1 – Two to be eliminated

WITH four weeks of VFL Women’s finals well and truly upon us, the top six teams in Collingwood, Southern Saints, Western Bulldogs, Richmond, Melbourne Uni and Geelong will be raring to go as they head into the new finals structure. With the two sides bumped out of contention for the second round of finals determined by this week’s results, every team will need to put their best foot forward to come out on top against their respective opposition.

Melbourne Uni v. Geelong
Elimination Final 2 – 31/8/19
11:45am
Adcon Stadium

For one of fifth and sixth placed Melbourne Uni and Geelong, the knowledge that this will be the end of the road for the unfortunate loser will surely be the kick they need to get over the line this weekend. Both sides ultimately only made it into the finals on the back of other results, winning eight and dropping six. While Uni have the highest points-scored in the competition after some impressive margins, they have also conceded the fourth most points – with the three sides higher sitting in the bottom three. Meanwhile, Geelong have conceded 92 less points-against this season, perhaps not having the same flair with big margins as other teams toward the top of the ladder, but keeping sides to close margins in their losses. While both sides have had some impressive wins and disappointing losses, what Geelong will need to look out for is the Mugars’ number of players who can have an impact on the scoreboard. Though the Mugars have not been overly accurate in front of goal this season they have a range of options who pose targets inside 50. AFL Women’s listed Kate Gillespie-Jones and Jasmine Garner have proven to be key throughout the season. North Melbourne AFLW captain, Emma Kearney has also been a massive threat in recent weeks since taking the field. For Geelong, Rene Caris and Renee Garing have been solid finding plenty of the footy and causing mayhem at stoppages, while Richelle Cranston continues to provide a force whenever close to the footy.

Collingwood v. Southern Saints
Qualifying Final – 31/8/19
12.00pm
Victoria Park

Collingwood finished minor premiers for the second year running and are well deserving of top spot after a mostly unblemished season, only dropping two games. While one of those two games was against this week’s opponents in the Southern Saints back in the opening round of the season, both losses saw the Pies put out inexperienced sides making this an unpredictable contest for all involved. The Saints had a similarly impressive season but dropped off the top of the ladder with a third loss of the season on the weekend, missing out on a home advantage this week. While Southern Saints have a solid season under their belt there is still plenty they will want to improve on, namely their ability to put ball to boot inside 50. Both teams certainly have the fire power forward and defensive pressure down back, meaning this match may come down to the better ball users through the midfield, shaping up for an interesting contest. Jaimee Lambert has starred this season for the Magpies, sitting number one in the league for goals with 21.7 from 11 games and in the top three for total disposals. The influence and leadership of Bri Davey on the field this season has been noted, despite only playing five games so far, while Chloe Molloy kicked nine goals from six games so could be a big threat to take some of the load from Lambert. For the Saints, Tilly Lucas-Rodd has been a regular in the bests along with Alison Drennan, while Caitlin Greiser and Samantha Johnson have found some good form to provide solid options around the field.

Western Bulldogs v. Richmond
Elimination Final 1 – 1/9/19
11:45am
Adcon Stadium

This will be an interesting match for the final position in week two of finals, with Richmond sure to come into the contest with all guns blazing but also with the knowledge that the Western Bulldogs defeated them twice this season, by a goal margin the first time and extending it to 43 points only two weeks ago. For the Bulldogs, this match will be as much about locking the ball inside 50 as it is about the mind-game, playing the game at hand without focusing too much on past results. The Tigers have the talent and forward options to provide a big threat if they can take control, with a number of confidence players sitting in the forward half and able to contest marking opportunities if only someone can get them the footy. The likes of Monique Conti and Sabrina Frederick have been big pickups this season while Tayla Stahl has had no issue getting on the board, and with a smattering of talent across the field for both sides the Tigers will need to do more than rely on their big names to get the job done. For the Bulldogs, Emma Mackay, Tayla Dinuccio and Ellie Gavalas played majority of games during the season and have been consistently in the mix for best credit to their respective pressure on the footy and ability to find the ball, while Mickayla Ward (10 goals) and Danielle Marshall (nine goals) have been solid targets inside 50.

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 16 – Magpies minor premiers for second year running

COLLINGWOOD Magpies found themselves with a second consecutive minor premiership in Round 16 of VFL Women’s, leaping the Southern Saints and allowing Geelong to jump into the top six for the first time this season for the last finals spot. Meanwhile, Richmond beat the highly touted Saints and Essendon slaughtered the lowly Williamstown Seagulls in a win that came too little, too late.

ESSENDON 3.0 | 5.4 | 10.8 | 11.12 (78)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 (1)

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 2, A. Quigley 2, M. DeMatteo 2, K. Petrevski, R. Svarc, E. Gogerly, S. Audley, L. Stepnell.
Williamstown: Nil.

BEST:

Essendon: G. Patrikios, L. Ahrens, M. Collier, F. Frew, A. Barba, A. Quigley
Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, K. Douglass, S. Whiting, J. Kawa, J. Heard

Essendon made it back-to-back wins to close out the season after thrashing Williamstown by 77 points at Windy Hill. The Bombers restricted the Seagulls to a solitary behind for the match, piling on 11 goals from 23 scoring shots on their way to their biggest win of the season. It meant they improved from their one-win season last year to now sit ninth on the table with six wins from 14 games. Under-18 talent Georgia Patrikios topped the disposal count with 22, while Lauren Ahrens picked up 20 disposals, four marks and four tackles. Georgia Nanscawen (17 disposals, three marks and six tackles) was again prominent onball, while Calder Cannons young gun Krstel Petrevski had 16 touches, three marks, two tackles and a goal. For the Seagulls, Danica Pedersen was a clear standout with 26 touches, while Sharnie Whiting (14 disposals, two marks and three tackles) and Jasmine Kawa (11 disposals, four marks and four tackles) were the others to reach double figures. Williamstown finished the season with the one win from 14 games, just behind Carlton on the table.

DAREBIN FALCONS 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 3.5 | 3.5 | 5.8 (38)

GOALS:

Darebin: K. Roe, N. Morris-Dalton, S. Simpson.
Western Bulldogs: E. Wood, S. Jolly, K. Betts, M. Sandral, D. Marshall.

BEST:

Darebin: A. Lister, K. Roe, S. Sansonetti, S. Simpson, B. Patterson, E. McLaughlin
Western Bulldogs: B. Hunt, D. Marshall, A. Gogos , S. Ruedin, A. Guest, E. Mackay

The Western Bulldogs showed why they sit third on the table heading into finals after seeing off Darebin Falcons in a 15-point victory. Darebin burst out of the blocks to lead by 17 points at quarter time, but the Bulldogs took control after that, booting 5.6 to 0.4 in the remaining three quarters to secure the 5.8 (38) to 3.5 (23) win. Ellie Gavalas earned 20 touches for the Dogs while laying five tackles, while Emma Mackay (15 disposals, two marks and four tackles) and Danielle Marshall (15 disposals, six marks, five tackles, four hitouts and one goal) were also influential in the win. Under-18 stars Ella Wood (13 disposals, two tackles and a goal) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (10 disposals, two marks and six tackles) again looked like they belonged, while the experienced head of Hayley Wildes (13 disposals, three marks and one tackle) was important. For the Falcons, Kathleen Roe stood tall with 22 disposals, two marks, five tackles and a goal, as Annalyse Lister (20 disposals, 10 tackles) was fierce around the stoppages, and Lauren Arnell (21 disposals, three marks) showed off all of her AFLW experience. Northern Knights’ duo Nell Morris-Dalton and Sarah Sansonetti also looked strong in the game.

HAWTHORN 1.2 | 1.3 | 3.6 | 4.8 (32)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.2 | 6.2 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: S. Perkins 3, M. Hutchins.
Collingwood: K. Lee 2, M. Shevlin 2, J. Lambert, R. Grant, M. Cann.

BEST:

Hawthorn: S. Perkins, L. McClelland, R. Beeson, E. Nixon, O. Flanagan, R. Dillon
Collingwood: S. Livingstone, N. Xenos, G. Buchan, M. Shevlin, B. Bonnici, S. Layton

Collingwood regained top spot on the VFLW ladder, taking home its second successive minor premiership in the process after downing Hawthorn by 14 points at Box Hill City Oval. The Magpies knocked the Hawks out of the finals race with the result, as the Pies now prepare for the Southern Saints next weekend. The return of Collingwood’s experience was crucial in the 7.4 (46) to 4.8 (32) victory, as competition leading goalkicker Jaimee Lambert booted a goal from 17 touches, five marks and 11 tackles to take out the award, while Brittany Bonnici returned to rack up a team-high 19 disposals and lay three tackles. Grace Buchan (18 disposals, four marks and four tackles) and Sarah Dargan (18 disposals, one mark and one tackle) were busy around the ground, while Maddie Shevlin and Katelyn Lee were the multiple goalkickers for the Pies. Rebecca Beeson was the Hawks’ biggest ball winner with 19 disposals, one mark and eight tackles, while Georgia Bevan (16 disposals, seven tackles) and Rosie Dillon (16 disposals, five tackles) won plenty of the ball. Up forward, Sarah Perkins booted three of the Hawks’ four goals and clunked four marks from 11 touches, while Lou Wotton and Tamara Luke were strong through the ruck, combining for 38 hitouts from 19 disposals.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.2 | 2.3 | 4.6| 4.6 (30)
RICHMOND 0.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS

Southern Saints: H. Stuart, J. Vogt, C. Greiser, T. Bohanna.
Richmond: S. Frederick 2, T. Stahl, J. Colwell, M. Conti.

BEST

Southern Saints: S. Johnson, T. Lucas-Rodd, O. Vesely, F. Steiert, C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw
Richmond: G. Egan, J. Colwell, S. Frederick, M. Conti, G. Seymour, K. Dempsey

The Southern Saints were knocked out of top spot in the final round of the season after finally taking the lead last round, going down by one goal to Richmond in what could potentially be a finals match up. While the Saints have had a mostly unblemished season, the Tigers have had a couple sloppy weeks so were well and truly ready to come out and prove themselves against the top side. With a 10-point lead at the final break it seemed that Saints had control after a see-sawing first half, before a dominant final stanza from the Tigers saw the Saints go scoreless to finish the match. For Richmond, Monique Conti found plenty of the footy with 23 touches to lead the Tiger’s disposal count, also collecting one goal and five tackles while the likes of Grace Egan (17 disposals, nine tackles) and Sabrina Frederick (two goals from five kicks) also had some good form in what could have been their final match of the year. For the Saints, Cat Philips racked up 17 disposals, providing a solid option moving the ball up the field but to no avail with little other players able to have an impact. Samantha Johnson (10 disposals, eight tackles) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (12 disposals, six tackles) were named among the best with four individual goalkickers thanks to the pressing defensive pressure of the Tigers, limiting regular Saints goalkickers to low impact possessions.

GEELONG 4.1 | 4.3 | 6.6 | 7.6 (48)
CARLTON 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS

Geelong: G. Clarke 3, S. Van De Heuvel, R. Cranston, K. Darby, J. Ivey.
Carlton: M. Clifford, B. Gurr.

BEST

Geelong: J. Ivey, D. Taylor, R. Cranston, G. Clarke, R. Webster, R. Garing
Carlton: B. Gutknecht, G. Wright, S. Wright, G. Pound, J. Hosking, M. Neill

In a match that went vastly different to their reverse fixture back in Round 8, Geelong well and truly pushed for their last ditch effort of finals contention, defeating the Blues by 33 points and jumping the Hawks to land themselves in sixth. While Carlton have put up some solid performances this season to contend with quality teams, they couldn’t compete with the Cats on a mission, only putting two goals on the board to finish their season second from the bottom. While the Cats took an early lead Carlton still looked like they were in it, kicking two goals to Geelong’s four in the first half, however were unable to compete in the second half conceding three goals and only kicking three behinds. Rene Caris impressed in the ruck, collecting 30 hitouts and 17 disposals while sharing the load with Kate Darby (12 hitouts, 11 disposals, one goal). Jordan Ivey and Renee Garing collected 25 and 24 disposals respectively, with Ivey kicking her fourth goal of the season while Garing managed 12 tackles to apply plenty of pressure on the Blues. Georgia Clarke was a big target forward in a solid outing, kicking three goals from eight touches while 18-year-old Lucy McEvoy collected 18 disposals and five tackles in her first win at the Cats. For the Blues, Jess Hosking and Sarah Wright were among the best around the ground, collecting 19 touches apiece and a combined 11 marks and eight tackles. Also impressive was young gun Gabby Newton (17 disposals, 15 tackles), while Mia-Rae Clifford (one goal, seven tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (nine touches, six tackles) applied valuable pressure on and around the ball.

MELBOURNE UNI 1.4 | 2.4 | 5.6 | 6.10 (46)
NT THUNDER 0.1 | 2.5 | 3.5 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS

Melbourne Uni: S. Abbatangelo 2, C. Daniec, C. Saxon-Jones, K. Angelis, E. Kearney.
NT Thunder: D. Ponter 2, L. Jeffrey, M. Ellis.

BEST

Melbourne Uni: S. Abbatangelo, J. Trend, E. Kearney, B. Gibson, J. Bruton, V. Saad
NT Thunder: D. Varnhagen, S. Riley, J. Baird, D. Ponter, L. Roberts, C. Deegan

Melbourne Uni well and truly finished their season on a high, defeating NT Thunder by 17 points despite a mostly inaccurate affair. While Uni put plenty of goals on the board after taking control early in the second half, their kicking in front of goal left something to be desired with the likes of Katie Angelis kicking 1.4 from her nine kicks and six marks. While Thunder took advantage of their opportunities in front of goal, applying scoreboard pressure in every quarter bar the first, their chances were limited thanks to the defensive pressure of the Mugars on the brink of finals. Emma Kearney (29 disposals, six tackles, one goal) and Sophie Abbatangelo (27 disposals, 10 marks, five tackles, two goals) starred for Uni, while Vivien Saad was solid in the ruck with 29 hitouts, finding her teammates with ease as they dominated stoppages. Kate Gillespie-Jones was consistent as ever with 24 touches, nine marks and eight tackles. For Thunder, Stevie-Lee Thompson put in the hard yards with 22 touches, four marks and two behinds, attempting to push forward to create opportunities forward while Deni Varnhagen did a wealth of work behind the ball to finish with 27 disposals and five marks. Meanwhile, young gun Danielle Ponter kicked two of Thunder’s four goals, providing a solid target forward collecting 14 touches and three marks.

VFLW preview: Round 14 – Top sides have bye round as battle for top six continues

TOP two of VFL Women’s have byes this week and while a number of sides are scrabbling for a position come finals, neither Collingwood nor Southern Saints need to worry about their position on the ladder with no chance of moving down regardless of this week’s results. A big match will see sixth placed Melbourne Uni take on Geelong in seventh, with both sides in dire need of a win this week to keep their respective seasons alive and plenty of teams still on the chase for finals chances. Meanwhile, it will be up to Richmond and Western Bulldogs to pull out solid wins this round to remain in control of third and fourth.

CARLTON v. RICHMOND

Round 14 – 10/8/19
11.00
La Trobe University, Bundoora

While Richmond are mostly safe in the top four at this point in the season, their four match losing streak will be right in the front of Carlton’s minds with plenty of firepower in the Blues side if they can drive the ball forward. The Blues may be sitting at the bottom with only two wins for the season but have well and truly put it all on the line a number of times this season with five of their matches resulting in margins less than 10 points. Richmond will be hoping their midseason slump was just that, ready to jump right into finals in the coming weeks. Maddy Prespakis has been impressive in recent weeks so will hope for another solid performance to lift the Blues, and with massive names in Sabrina Frederick and Katie Brennan two potentials up forward for the Tigers this week Carlton will certainly need to lift their game to get over the line or at least put up a fight. Meanwhile, twins Jess and Sarah Hosking were missing from the Blues lineup last week so the side will hope for their return and consistency this week.

WILLIAMSTOWN v. DAREBIN

Round 14 – 10/8/19
11.30
Downer Oval

It will be an interesting match between the two sides, with their last battle in Round 7 lifting Darebin off the bottom of the ladder with a 20 point victory. While both Darebin and Williamstown have improved this season, the Falcons have been able to convert their improvement to wins so are likely to come out of this round with another win on the board. However, the Seagulls do certainly have the talent and drive to get the job done, so Darebin cannot afford to let this one slip away. While the Seagulls are unlikely to lift off the bottom of the ladder with a win, it would be a massive boost for a mostly disappointing season. Lauren Pearce put on a show again last week against the Demons so will look to replicate her phenomenal Round 13 form, while Nell Morris-Dalton has been a great young player for the side adding plenty of firepower to the Darebin lineup. For Williamstown, Sharnie Whiting has stepped up in recent weeks to be a leader in the side while the side will hope for the return of Mo Hope‘s experience.

HAWTHORN v. CASEY

Round 14 – 10/8/19
1.00
Box Hill City Oval

This will be an interesting battle, with Hawthorn sitting toward the top of the ladder but Casey, thanks to a great winning tally at the beginning of the season, only sitting behind by one win and one draw. But while Casey have a chance to redeem themselves after a midseason slump, the Hawks will likely be too strong at home for the inconsistent Demons to get over the line. Hawthorn also have a big opportunity to elevate to a higher position on the ladder with two rounds left after this week so will want to capitalise to set themselves up for finals. Casey’s Kate Hore was fantastic last week kicking the side’s only two goals while Libby Birch and Lily Mithen provided plenty of run against the firing Falcons, so the side will look to maintain possession and push forward against the Hawks. Sarah Perkins and Tamara Luke kicked three goals apiece last round so if left undefended Hawthorn have plenty of players who can pose a dominant force up forward.

GEELONG v. MELBOURNE UNI

Round 14 – 10/8/19
1.00
Deakin University, Geelong

For Geelong, this matchup will be a do or die contest given they are hanging out of the top six by the tiniest of threads. For Uni, a win this week could lock away a finals spot with a bye next week and a final round clash against the wildly talented but inconsistent NT Thunder to end the season. But while Uni have a high scoring ability in their favour the Cats will have the home field advantage and plenty of experienced players ready to take it to the Mugars. Kate Gillespie-Jones is sure to once again be right up in the action after being one of the go-to players for Uni this season, while Katie Angelis also put in a solid performance again last week applying plenty of scoreboard pressure. Richelle Cranston‘s ability to find the ball is impressive so will be a big threat to the Mugars while Danielle Orr had one of her best performance for the season last week despite collecting four behinds so is sure to look to put on a similar but more accurate performance this round.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v. ESSENDON

Round 14 – 10/8/19
4.00
Whitten Oval, Victoria University

While an interesting matchup between two relatively traditional rivals, this game will be an opportunity for the Bulldogs to cement their finals chances with the Bombers putting in some solid performances this season but mostly yet to back it up on a weekly basis. That being said, the Bulldogs are coming into this round off the bye while the Bombers took it to the Southern Saints last round so there is definitely potential for the Bombers to come away with a shock win to finish up the round. For the Bulldogs, Tayla Dinuccio has been one of the most consistent for the side credit to her adaptability in the contest and impressive tackling pressure, aided by the likes of Kirsty Lamb who has been reliable when on the field. Meanwhile, Georgia Nanscawen has been similarly consistent with the likes of Simone Nalder providing plenty of ball from the ruck contest.

BYE: Southern Saints, Collingwood, NT Thunder

VFLW weekend wrap: Round 13 – Top teams remain on the hunt for big wins

ROUND 13 of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s saw a number of big results, with two close matches and two blowouts all but predicting the final match of the round being a close but high scoring affair. With the top three once again putting away wins they are unlikely to slip out of finals contention, though percentage will certainly play a big role coming into the final rounds with a number of teams hoping to make the cut.

ESSENDON 4.0 | 5.0 | 7.1 | 7.2 (44)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.3 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS
Essendon:
J. Stassi 2, A. Quigley 2, M. Collier, M. DeMatteo, L. Stepnell.
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw 3, E. Mackie, T. Bohanna, O. Vesely, C. Greiser.

BEST
Essendon:
A. Quigley, G. Nanscawen, M. Collier, K. Heil, F. Frew, J. Stassi
Southern Saints: K. Shierlaw, E. Mackie, R. Watt, T. Lucas-Rodd, S. Johnson, O. Vesely

The first match of the round was a down to the wire clash between two sides at completely different ends of the ladder, with the Bombers pushing the Saints at every turn and coming so close to a massive upset. Essendon came out strong, kicking four goals nil in the first to set up a solid lead, however were unable to consolidate their lead in the second, conceding 19 points as the game started to shape up to be an eight-point contest at the main change. The Bombers had another good quarter after the break, finding plenty of the footy and limiting the Saints access, before a massive final quarter from the Saints saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. While Southern Saints fought hard for the victory to continue their winning ways, full credit to the Bombers side keeping the Saints on their toes with accuracy on their side. Jess Stassi and Alexandra Quigley impressed in front of goal, kicking two apiece as the Bombers sought to control the contest. Also right in the action was Georgia Nanscawen, collecting 23 touches and racking up 10 tackles, joined by Shae Audley (22 touches, 10 tackles) and Simone Nalder (30 hitouts). Kate Shierlaw was the sole multiple goalkicker for the Saints with three majors from 15 disposals and five marks, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Emma Mackie (21 disposals, four marks apiece) made their presence felt and Samantha Johnson, Alison Drennan and Fiona Steiert combined for 25 tackles.

RICHMOND 1.4 | 2.12 | 6.15 | 7.16 (58)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS
Richmond:
S. Frederick 2, M. Conti 2, G. Egan, M. Brancatisano, J. Colwell.
Williamstown: S. Whiting.

BEST
Richmond:
M. Conti, K. Dempsey, M. Brancatisano, S. Frederick, A. Woodward, K. Jacques
Williamstown: J. Kawa, S. Whiting, J. Heard, A. Melnikas, I. Porter, E. Straford

It took a dominant performance by the Tigers to jump back into the top four after an average few weeks on the turf, beating a struggling Williamstown by a convincing 48-point margin. But while Richmond well and truly were in control from the get-go, there was little to be happy about with only a 24-point margin at half-time. Granted, the Seagulls had as yet been unable to put a score on the board, however the Tigers’ inaccuracy was a massive issue with 12 behinds and only two goals on the board at the main change – if it were not for the Tigers’ missed opportunities, they would have had a much bigger percentage boosting margin on their hands. The Tigers lifted their game in the second half, kicking five goals to one to cement a convincing win, however the side will be concerned with their accuracy – or lack thereof – heading into the last few rounds before finals. Monique Conti took the field for the first time since early June to bolster the side, kicking two goals on return and collection 18 disposals, five marks and five tackles on her way to best on ground for Richmond. Alice Edmonds was prolific in the ruck with 35 hitouts while Sabrina Frederick kicked two goals from 10 touches in her first win at the club and Alana Woodward collected a whopping 20 tackles. Despite a disappointing overall performance, the likes of Sharnie Whiting (24 disposals, five marks, one goal) and Gemma Anderson (12 disposals, seven tackles) were among the best for the Seagulls.

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 3.4 | 4.4 | 5.5 (35)
CARLTON 0.3 | 0.3 | 2.3 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS
Collingwood:
J. Lambert 2, S. Alexander, N. Hales, S. Chiocci.
Carlton: D. Vescio, C. Leighton, B. Gurr, C. Wilson.

BEST
Collingwood:
B. Davey, J. Lambert, G. Lagioia, A. Porter, S. Casey, G. Buchan
Carlton: C. Dalton, D. Vescio, K. Loynes, L. Brazzale, G. Parker, C. Wilson

It was another close match following Saturday’s battle, with Carlton well and truly taking it to the ladder-leading Magpies to only go down by seven points. The Blues struggled in the first half to put goals on the board, before a four goal to two late resurgence showed some of the impressive intent and intensity this Carlton side can apply. However it was a case of too little and too late with the Magpies just too strong this time around. Once again a match saving goal from Sophie Alexander was what the Pies needed to get over the line, leaving little opportunity for the Blues to claw back. For Collingwood Jaimee Lambert was impressive as ever, kicking another two goals to add to her tally while also picking up 23 touches as she used her footy smarts to both set up clever plays and put goals on the board. Steph Chiocci (20 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) continued her good form with another consistent performance while Bri Davey collected 19 touches against her former side despite being ruled out with injury in the final term. For the Blues, Maddy Prespakis was solid with 22 disposals and four marks while Katie Loynes (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Chloe Dalton (16 disposals, 10 tackles) were also right up in the contest.

CASEY 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.6 (18)
DAREBIN 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS
Casey:
K. Hore 2.
Darebin: S. Fairchild, N. Morris-Dalton.

BEST
Casey:
T. Hanks, K. Smith, H. Cordner, G. McLean, M. Downie, A. McDonough
Darebin: L. Pearce, E. O’Dea, V. Blackwood, S. David, A. Lister, K. Roe

In yet another match that kept players on their toes down to the final siren, Darebin gave Casey a scare in a one point thriller at Casey Fields. With two Falcons playing their AFL Women’s side there was a lot on the line for both teams in the relatively low scoring affair, with neither side able to capitalise in front of goal. The Demons started well defensively, keeping the Falcons scoreless in the first but having plenty of issues getting on the board with only one goal in the first half, before the Falcons shot back with one of their own midway through the second to even up the ledger, sitting ahead by one point at half-time. A highly contested third quarter came next, with neither team able to find the goals before a 1.4 final term from the Dees just barely got them over the line after trailing by one at the final change. Kate Hore was Casey’s saving grace, kicking both Demons goals and collecting nine tackles – only behind Shelley Scott with 11 tackles, while Lily Mithen (26 disposals, six marks, seven tackles) and Libby Birch (17 disposals, four tackles) combined well across the field. Meanwhile, Darebin’s Lauren Pearce showcased her versatility to finish with a whopping 35 hitouts, 25 touches, six marks and six tackles, aided by Elise O’Dea who continued her fine form with 24 touches and 10 tackles while Nell Morris-Dalton impressed in her second outing for the side with one goal from 12 touches and six tackles.

GEELONG 4.1 | 6.3 | 7.7 | 9.8 (62)
NT THUNDER 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

GOALS
Geelong:
S. Van De Heuvel 2, G. Clarke 2, R. Caris 2, J. Woollett, M. Maguire, R. Benham.
NT Thunder: T. Thorn, M. Roberts, C. Whan.

BEST
Geelong:
R. Webster, R. Cranston, T. Love, R. Caris, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel
NT Thunder: E. Marinoff, M. Breed, T. Thorn, K. Streader, J. Baird, C. Deegan

In the second blowout margin of the round, Geelong got a convincing win over Thunder to put themselves in a position to push for a top-six finish. A convincing first half all but set up the victory, with six goals to two at the main change giving the Cats plenty of confidence coming into the second half. A more inaccurate second half saw the Cats unable to replicate their strong start, however their defensive effort left little to be desired with only one score on the board to Thunder in the second half. Sophie Van De Heuvel, Georgia Clarke and Rene Caris kicked two goals apiece in a shared effort, collecting a combined 36 touches while Caris followed up her effort in the ruck with 31 hitouts against young gun, Mattea Breed with 18 hitouts and 10 touches. Richelle Cranston racked up 24 touches and 11 tackles in an impressive effort, while Danielle Orr picked up 25 touches and four behinds. For Thunder, Ebony Marinoff made her triumphant return having sat out since Round 2, collecting 25 touches and a phenomenal 19 tackles to be best on ground. Lisa Roberts also put in the hard yards with 15 disposals and seven tackles while Tayla Thorn had 13 touches, five tackles and a goal for her best and most consistent performance this season.

MELBOURNE UNI 2.0 | 6.2 | 7.4 | 8.4 (52)
HAWTHORN 3.0 | 5.0 | 11.0 | 12.3 (75)

GOALS
Melbourne Uni:
K. Angelis 2, K. Gillespie-Jones 2, K. Ashmore, L. Walsh, H. Whitford, J. Garner.
Hawthorn: T. Luke 3, S. Perkins 3, S. Gibbs 2, O. Flanagan 2, P. McWilliams, R. Beeson.

BEST
Melbourne Uni:
K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner, J. Bruton, K. Ashmore, H. Whitford, B. Gibson
Hawthorn: S. Perkins, T. Luke, C. O’Donnell, S. Gibbs, O. Flanagan, J. Sibley

The highest scoring match of the round was always set to be the final game of the weekend with a big battle between fourth and sixth – only separated by percentage. A win to the Hawks sees the two sides all but swap their ladder positions, with Hawthorn jumping into fifth while Uni slip into sixth with Geelong hot on their tail. It was a relatively close affair up to half time with both sides finding patches of good form, before Hawthorn took hold of the lead in the third and refused to let go against a gallant Mugars outfit. The Hawks’ composure and cleanliness impressed, with the side kicking straight for the most part and 11 straight goals by three quarter time to well and truly control the contest. To Uni’s credit they stayed in the match with their tenacity going for the footy, but were unable to consolidate their halftime lead with only two goals after the main break. With six multiple goal kickers spread across the two teams it was an impressive contest, while both sides shared the load well across the field with no dominant standouts. The ruck match between Lou Wotton (34 hitouts, 10 touches, five tackles) and Vivien Saad (28 hitouts, 11 touches, four tackles) was relatively even, making for a very interesting contest with plenty of players getting good access to the footy. Sarah Perkins and Tamara Luke both kicked three for the Hawks, closely followed by Serena Gibbs and Olivia Flanagan with two apiece. For the Mugars, Kate Gillespie-Jones was consistent as ever with 21 disposals and two goals followed by Katie Angelis with another two goals and 14 touches, while Jasmine Garner had another strong performance with 19 touches and a goal.