Tag: Katherine Smith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 VFLW Round 9 wrap: Contenders solidify the top six

EACH of the current top six Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s sides earned wins in Round 9, as the ladder positions grow increasingly rigid. Among the victors, Essendon, Geelong, and Collingwood all flexed their muscle to come away over 50 points to the good, hitting top form with finals time now just over a month away. We take you through the results from all six fixtures, five of which were played on a super Saturday.

>> ONE-STOP SITE: VFLW page 

ESSENDON 2.4 | 6.9 | 6.11 | 10.12 (72)
CARLTON 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

Essendon solidified its standing in the top six with a thumping win over traditional rival, Carlton on Saturday morning, coming away 53-point victors at Windy Hill. A six-goal to two first half meant the Bombers were well on top and while the Blues managed to bring it back to an arm-wrestle in term three, they had few answers for Essendon’s forward firepower and depth across the field.

Skipper Georgia Nanscawen continued her spectacular season with 24 touches and nine tackles to earn full votes for the Bombers, while Federica Frew led a brigade of eight individual goalkickers with three majors. Also among the goalkickers, Brisbane-listed gun Ruby Svarc returned in the red and black with aplomb, as Mia-Rae Clifford looked lively for her 1.3 from 12 touches.

On a tough day for the Blues, senior-listed midfield pair proved a class above the rest in midfield. Abbie McKay notched a game-high 26 disposals and 10 tackles in her first VFLW hitout for the year, supported well by Grace Egan who added 19 touches and a goal. Courtney Jones was another of Carlton’s three goalkickers, staying busy despite her side’s low score.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 3, M. Clifford, K. Heil, R. Svarc, J. Davies, L. Stepnell, T. Crook, N. MacDonald
Carlton: G. Egan, S. Lawrence, C. Jones

BEST:

Essendon: G. Nanscawen, E. Hosking, F. Frew, R. Svarc, J. Davies, S. Nalder
Carlton: A. McKay, C. Jones, P. Trudgeon, C. Hammans, E. Honybun, G. Egan

DAREBIN FALCONS 2.2 | 4.2 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.5 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 8.10 (58)

Port Melbourne bounced back onto the winners list on Saturday morning, but was made to earn it against a plucky Darebin Falcons outfit at Bill Lawry Oval. After the Falcons made better of their chances to draw level at half time, the Borough managed to edge ahead at the last break before kicking away in term four to secure the 24-point away victory. The result keeps Port firmly in second spot.

Richmond-listed youngster Sophie Molan earned full votes for the Borough with an equal-game high 20 disposals, matched by Courteney Bromage. Recently delisted Tigers forward Emily Harley served a reminder of her potential with four goals, as Katherine Smith slotted seamlessly into the Borough side with 17 touches and five tackles.

For the Falcons, Victoria Blackwood was the third player on the day to notch 20 disposals, supported well by those with AFLW experience in Jess Dal Pos and Nicole Callinan, who each managed 18 touches. Alice Caddy was Darebin’s sole multiple goalkicker, booting three to make up over half of her side’s overall score.

GOALS:

Darebin: A. Caddy 3, A. Reibelt, J. Dal Pos
Port Melbourne: E. Harley 4, S. Locke, L. McClelland, N. Borg, S. Molan

BEST:

Darebin: V. Blackwood, K. Hazlett, J. Dal Pos, N. Callinan, A. Lister, A. Caddy
Port Melbourne: S. Molan, E. Harley, C. Bromage, C. Dyett, S. Frederick, M. Kuys

GEELONG 4.1 | 9.5 | 11.5 | 15.9 (99)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)

Geelong fell just short of registering a ton in its comprehensive win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, extending the Cats’ win streak to five while ending the Dogs’ two-game run. Having shot out of the blocks with nine goals to nil in a first half romp at Deakin University, the Cats never looked back and rode out the match comfortable 75-point victors.

Four of the Cats’ eight individual goalkickers snared multiples, with Georgia Clarke and Richelle Cranston doing the most damage in a riotous outing. Single goalkicker Annabel Johnson was named Geelong’s best, as Laura Gardiner accumulated a game-high 27 disposals, and Madeline Keryk and Amy McDonald both had 23.

Debutant Caitlin Sargent was among the Bulldogs’ two goalkickers, as the likes of Angelica Gogos and Danielle Marshall (both 22 disposals) led the charge. Youngsters Isabelle Pritchard (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Sarah Hartwig (13 and 12) both got their hands dirty in the loss, with the latter playing just her second VFLW game after an outstanding first senior season.

GOALS:

Geelong: G. Clarke 4, R. Cranston 3, S. Williams 2, T. Smith 2, J. Woollett, D. Moloney, A. Johnson, P. Sheppard
Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton, C. Sargent

BEST:

Geelong: A. Johnson, M. Keryk, C. Gunjaca, G. Clarke, A. McDonald, T. Smith
Bulldogs: A. Gogos, D. Marshall, S. Ruedin, S. Hartwig, I. Pritchard, G. Lagioia

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
CASEY DEMONS 3.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 | 10.8 (68)

Casey’s spot in the top six is looking more secure after a 42-point victory over North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Demons boasted a handy half time buffer and continued to apply scoreboard pressure thereafter, with the game all but over at three quarter time as they led by 53 points. North added a couple of consolation goals in term four, but were soundly beaten.

A three-pronged Demon attack of Alyssa Bannan, Imogen Milford, and Gabby Colvin produced six majors as the trio snared two apiece in a show of great firepower. Meanwhile, Eliza West led all comers with 26 disposals and also found the big sticks, as senior-listed players like Libby Birch continue to filter into the state league and make an impact.

Meg Sinclair proved North’s greatest form of response as she booted three of the Roos’ four goals in just her third game for 2021. Reni Hicks dug in to finish with 14 disposals and 10 tackles, while Meagan Kiely managed a team-high 25 touches. Currently a game outside the top six and with stiff competition behind, the Roos will have to dig deep to qualify for finals this season.

GOALS:

North: M. Sinclair 3, B. Lynch
Casey: G. Colvin 2, I. Milford 2, A. Bannan 2, M. Gay, E. West, K. Thompson, M. Harasimiuk

BEST:

North: R. Hicks, M. Sinclair, B. Lynch, S. Wright, A. Runnalls, A. Smith
Casey: E. West, L. Birch, C. Sherriff, A. Kirkwood, M. Macdonald, B. Winbanks

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.2 | 7.2 | 11.3 (69)

Collingwood extended its perfect streak in season 2021 with an ominous 67-point thumping of Williamstown on Saturday afternoon, making it eight wins on the trot. The Magpies kept their opponents goalless throughout, and scoreless for half the game while feasting at the other end with ruthless accuracy. A seven-goal second half truly put the cherry on top of a dominant performance.

The Seagulls had no answer for Abbi Moloney, who snagged four goals from 16 disposals in a best afield display. The young tall was joined by Matilda Zander and Sophie Alexander in the goals as they both booted three and featured among the winners’ votes. Sarah King also battled hard in the ruck for 28 hitouts.

Speaking of the ruck, Eliza McGrath registered a whopping 58 hitouts, as Aimee Whelan was the only Seagull to tick over 20 touches on the day. Tahlia Merrett was named best-on in the losing effort, ahead of the likes of Whelan, and pair Eliza Straford and Ruby Tripodi who combined for 16 disposals and 17 tackles.

GOALS:

Williamstown: Nil
Collingwood: A. Moloney 4, M. Zander 3, S. Alexander 3, A. Newman

BEST:

Williamstown: T. Merrett, A. Whelan, R. Tripodi, E. Straford, A. Dickie, L. Suleiman
Collingwood: A. Moloney, S. Alexander, K. Lee, J. Ferguson, M. Zander, S. King

SOUTHERN SAINTS 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.8 | 6.8 (44)
HAWTHORN 0.2 | 3.2 | 3.3 | 4.8 (32)

The Southern Saints remain clear in sixth spot after fending off a valiant Hawthorn side in Sunday’s standalone fixture, winning by 12 points at Trevor Barker Oval. Having shot to a three-goal lead at the opening break, the Saints were pegged back well in a low-scoring affair and could only edge just over a goal ahead going into the last. They held firm, extending that buffer for their fourth win of the year.

First year midfielder Alice Burke again topped the disposal charts with 21 in the red, white and black, but Alexandra Hynes (10 disposals, 15 hitouts) was named the Saints’ best. Claudia Whitfort registered a goal from her 19 touches, while the likes of Hannah Stuart and Rebecca Neaves also earned votes in the win.

Kristen Hay had arguably her best game of the year with 14 disposals and three marks, seeing her earn plaudits from the Hawthorn staff. Tamara Luke had as many hitouts as disposals (12), while Kristy Stratton again found the goals in her second game for the Hawks, and Grace McRae had a solid debut with 11 touches and five tackles.

GOALS:

Southern: T. Bohanna 2, R. Saulitis, K. Ripari, A. Harris, T. Kearns
Hawthorn: E. Gilder 2, K. Stratton, C. O’Malley

BEST:

Southern: A. Hynes, C. Whitfort, R. Neaves, A. Burke, L. Burke, H. Stuart
Hawthorn: K. Hay, T. Luke, N. Garner, S. Bolding, K. Stratton, E. Gilder

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 9 preview: Youngsters set for debut as AFLW talent filters back

SEVERAL NAB League Girls players make their Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s debuts in Round 9, as more AFL Women’s talents filter back to the state league competition.

ESSENDON vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

In the opening game of the round, Essendon and Carlton clash at Windy Hill in a weekend that will see plenty of opportunities for the rivals to go head-to-head. Ruby Svarc is a crucial in for the Bombers returning after spending her season in Queensland with the Brisbane Lions, and she could well be given the job on Grace Egan who makes her return to state level for the Blues. Searching for a win against a pretty impressive Bombers outfit this season, Carlton has also added Abbie McKay to the side, with the likes of Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans steady in the defence. Georgia Nanscawen has overcome the injury that kept her out for the past couple of weeks, whilst Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell is back for another week, with Pioneers teammate Jemma Finning named as an emergency and expected to make a VFLW debut in the coming weeks. The Bombers will be favoured in this clash with the return of Nanscawen and playing at home.

DAREBIN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 1 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder clash at midday, with the one-win Darebin team taking on a Port Melbourne side coming off its first loss to Casey Demons last week. After gaining Jess Dal Pos back from AFL Women’s last week, the Falcons will be keen to give it all they have against a pretty strong Borough outfit. Nicole Callinan has been an important inclusion for Darebin this season, with Stephanie Simpson and Samara David targets up forward. The Borough just have so much depth, and an incredible forward line led by key targets, Sabrina Frederick and Emily Harley, and reliable source of goals from Sophie Locke. Sophie Molan has returned to state level for the visitors, with GWS GIANTS’ Katherine Smith also set to make her debut for Port Melbourne, in a team that has some how found a way to get stronger. Given the inclusions for the Borough, it is hard to see them dropping this game, but it will be a great test for the Falcons.

GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 1 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

In the longest road trip of the season for the Western Bulldogs, the back-to-back winners take on an in-form Geelong outfit who remain in contention for a top two spot in this season. Since the AFL Women’s season has concluded, the Western Bulldogs have not mucked around with rotating their elite talents, and whilst Elisabeth Georgostathis rotates out of the side this week, the visitors will welcome back Isabella Grant, Isabelle Pritchard and Annabel Strahan, while Jess Fitzgerald has cheekily been named as an emergency so could well be coming into the side soon. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods comes back into the team after her three-goal debut a fortnight ago, and she will be joined by Caitlin Sargent (four goals in NAB League last week) and Trinity Skenderis. The Cats have kept a strong midfield, but have brought in Amy McDonald, whilst giving Sophie Van de Heuvel a rest. Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner still form a dominant group in there, and with Stephanie Williams, Georgia Clarke and the return of Richelle Cranston up forward, the Cats have plenty of firepower. This is a really tight game, and Geelong should be favourites, but the strength of the Bulldogs team means the visitors could cause an upset and make it three wins on the trot.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

Casey Demons showed what they are capable of last week by rolling Port Melbourne to inflict the Borough’s first defeat of the season, whilst North Melbourne dominated Carlton, keeping the Blues to just one goal for the game. With the teams coming into good form, on paper it looks to be a great match but the Demons have really stacked their side with AFL Women’s talent, as Libby Birch, Brenna Tarrant and Shelley Heath are named in defence, Eden Zanker joined Maddison Gay in the midfield, and Alyssa Bannan and Casey Sherriff are up forward. The Roos have mostly kept a consistent lineup of players on the cusp of AFLW footy, though Beth Lynch is an important cog in defence. Bella Eddey is getting some extra minutes running around for the VFLW team, whilst Jayde Hamilton returns from the AFLW Under 19 Championships to play alongside sister Alexia. If North Melbourne can get up in this one it will be the Roos’ best scalp of the season, but with Essendon sniffing around Casey’s recently acquired fourth spot, the Demons must hold onto the place by winning this one.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Downer Oval

Williamstown is the next challenger up to try and knock off Collingwood as the undefeated Magpies rose in the final term to see off Essendon and grab another win in Round 8. The Magpies have plenty of reasons to get up in this game, with 2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid behind the helm of the 2019 wooden spooners side this season. She will have her work cut out for her against a red-hot Magpies lineup, which features both Amelia Velardo and Aliesha Newman who copped knocks last week but have recovered to play. Abbi Moloney returns to the side with Joanna Lin, Maddi Shevlin and Imogen Purcell among the other Collingwood AFLW talents outside the two key forwards in Sophie Alexander and Bella Smith. The Seagulls have some terrific VFLW talent, with Erin Meade, Megan Williamson, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players in the competition, but it will be whether or not they can make the most of their chances as the Pies will give their forwards plenty, particularly after the form of Marla Neal last week who shone in the win at The Hangar. Hard to see the Pies dropping this one, though the Seagulls are strong defensively and will not make it easy for them.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 2 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

The standalone Sunday fixture pits the sixth placed Southern Saints in a must-win fixture against Hawthorn who got up in Meg Hutchins‘ 250th match last week. The Saints cling onto the lowest finals spot – albeit with plenty of time left in the season – and will need to win this one to give themselves some security there. However the Hawks have some tall targets in Hutchins and Tamara Luke up forward, with the dangerous Kristy Stratton and Jessie Williams capable of kicking multiple goals. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae makes her debut for the brown and gold following the conclusion of the NAB League Girls’ season, with another former Gippsland leader in Maddi Shaw running around for the brown and gold. Georgia Bevan, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch have plenty to prove in this game as they look for another chance at AFL Women’s level, with the latter two having played for the Saints at this level earlier this season. For the Saints, they went down to the reformed Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval last Friday and will look to bounce back with Tara Bohanna and Renee Saulitis providing that tall and small option inside 50. Alice Burke and Tahlia Meyer rack up the ball each and every week, and Hannah Stewart has been enjoying a nice season this year at VFLW level. This game could go either way with the Saints ranked higher, but the Hawks are forming a really strong list as the season goes on.

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: GIANTS strike early to hold off Saints in wet

GWS GIANTS have picked up an important victory on the road, downing St Kilda Saints by 20 points in a traditional wet weather match at RSEA Park. Despite being a mid-afternoon fixture, both sides soon found the going tough with heavy rain impacting the match and drenching not only the players, but the supporters in the almost exclusively outdoor viewing venue. By the time the final siren sounded for everyone to dry off, the GIANTS had got the job done, 7.3 (45) to 3.7 (25).

Coming back into the line-up Rebecca Privitelli made her presence felt with a goal in the opening three minutes with a clever snap to get the visitors on the board. Soon it was new recruit Katherine Smith who doubled the margin, before Cora Staunton, and then Privitelli with her second piling on the pain for the home team at Moorabbin and making the quarter time margin a massive 23 points. The Saints were held goalless in the opening term, and it would not be until Kate Shierlaw struck in the third minute of the second quarter before the home crowd had something to cheer about. Back-to-back behinds to Molly McDonald, and then Jacqueline Vogt‘s miss left some wondering if they might rue the misses, though the conditions were not making it easy on the players. When Darcy Guttridge finally put one through the big sticks at the 11-minute mark, followed by a late Tamara Luke behind, the Saints had clawed their way back to a five-point deficit at the main break.

The third term was an arm-wrestle as neither side could get on the board in the first half of the quarter, and it took some Staunton class in the wet for the GIANTS to gain some much needed breathing space. Then inclusion Privitelli booted her third, and the pair had five of the six goals for the GIANTS, and the lead was back out to 20 points at the final break. When Staunton matched Privitelli with her third major of the contest two minutes into the final term, the game was effectively done and dusted, and the GIANTS were out to a match-high 26-point lead. The final score of the match was a late goal to Caitlin Greiser who slotted one to cut the final deficit to 20 points, but it would be the orange and charcoal visitors who would be making a Big Sound from Tullamarine back to western Sydney.

The wet made it challenging for disposal efficiency, with the GIANTS able to win more of the ball with a plus-28 in that category, and despite having two less inside 50s (23-25) won the rebound 50s count comfortably (22-15). They also dominated the contested possessions (120-86) and won the uncontested possessions as well (80-63), taking five contested marks of 24 to the Saints’ one of 14. To the Saints credit, the home side dominated the tackle count wit ha. whopping 103 tackles to 46, which ensured the GIANTS did not have many easy exits.

Alyce Parker and Georgia Patrikios thrived in the wet for their respective sides, as Parker racked up 28 touches, six marks and four tackles, while Patrikios was not far behind with 27 disposals, one mark and 10 tackles. Catherine Phillips laid a huge 12 tackles to go with her 15 disposals for the Saints, while Alice Burke also hit double-figure tackles with 10, the same amount as her disposals, as did Tyanna Smith (a match-high 14 tackles for nine disposals. Jayde Van Dyk (14 disposals) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (11 disposals, six tackles) also impressed, while for the GIANTS, Rebecca Beeson (18 disposals, two marks and six tackles), Jess Dal Pos (15 disposals, two tackles), Britt Tully (14 disposals, two tackles) and Tarni Evans (11 disposals, two marks) all found plenty of it. The combined six goals of Privitelli and Staunton proved crucial for the GIANTS in wet conditions, with the pair also combining for 21 disposals and six tackles in the win.

ST KILDA 0.1 | 2.7 | 2.7 | 3.7 (25)
GWS GIANTS 4.0 | 4.0 | 6.3 | 7.3 (45)

GOALS:

St Kilda: K. Shierlaw, D. Guttridge, C. Greiser
GWS: C. Staunton 3, R. Privitelli 3, K. Smith.

DC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, T. White, T. Smith, K. Shierlaw
GWS: A. Parker, R. Privitelli, C. Staunton, R. Beeson, B. Tully

Image Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Steve Bell/Getty Images via AFL Photos

ROOS HOLD OFF BULLISH DOGS

By: Michael Alvaro

NORTH Melbourne held off a determined Western Bulldogs outfit on Saturday, earning an 11-point victory at North Hobart Oval to strengthen its spot in the top six. The Roos skipped away to a three-goal buffer at quarter time and while they led at every break, were challenged in the final term as the Bulldogs pressured with five scoring shots to nil, but ultimately came up short in the 5.7 (37) to 3.8 (26) result.

The young pups were made to rue early lapses and a lack of killer instinct once the game was on their terms, seeing North Melbourne hop to an unassailable lead before holding out despite a scoreless final stanza. It means the Bulldogs have it all to do in the final couple of home-and-away rounds, currently sitting a game and percentage outside of the top six and with a couple of teams breathing down their necks.

Superstar Roos Emma Kearney and Jasmine Garner again showed their class to lead North to victory, with the former booting a couple of clutch goals in the process. The latter, meanwhile, led all comers with 28 disposals. Ash Riddell was another of the midfield brigade to snare a major, while Ellie Gavalas proved productive playing in her home state and Jess Duffin had her best outing since returning in Round 5.

Spearhead Izzy Huntington returned to scoring form with two of the Bulldogs’ three goals, as partner-in-crime Bonnie Toogood snared the other. It was no surprise to see skipper Ellie Blackburn and the hardened Kirtsy Lamb top their side’s disposal charts once again, proving reliable figures in midfield. Speedy forward Kirsten McLeod suffered a head knock late in the piece and did not play any further part in the match.

Both sides will prepare to take on top six opposition in Round 8. North faces a slightly shorter turnaround for its next match as Brisbane awaits at the Gabba on Saturday, while the Western Bulldogs are also set to travel to take on Adelaide at Norwood Oval on Sunday.

NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 | 4.2 | 5.7 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.4 | 3.8 (26)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: E. Kearney 2, D.Bateman, E. King, A. Riddell.
Western Bulldogs: I. Huntington 2, B. Toogood.

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, E. Gavalas, J. Duffin
Western Bulldogs: K. Lamb, E. Blackburn, I. Huntington, B. Toogood

Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES TURN UP THE HEAT TO CLIP CROWS

By: Michael Alvaro

MELBOURNE consolidated its top six status with a stirring 28-point win over fellow contender, Adelaide at Casey Fields on Saturday night. In damp conditions on their home patch, the Demons turned up the heat with a terrific pressure game and discipline in their structure to down the star-studded Crows 6.7 (43) to 2.3 (15).

Adelaide was essentially beaten at its own game, unable to get on top in midfield and being strangled up forward with two goalless quarters. Meanwhile, Melbourne led at every break and continually applied scoreboard pressure to earn a victory which does wonders for its finals hopes with just a fortnight left in the home-and-away season.

Young midfielder Tyla Hanks was at the core of her side’s triumph, bossing the engine room with a game-high 25 disposals to go with four marks, five tackles, and one goal. The likes of Lily Mithen and Karen Paxman also ticked over 20 touches, while Kate Hore‘s forward nous was good for three important goals, and Eden Zanker proved lively with four marks and a major.

Ebony Marinoff led the Crows disposal count with 24, aided as usual by Anne Hatchard through midfield. Sarah Allan was kept busy in defence along with Angela Foley, while champion Crows Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall did their best to create some sort of spark moving forward. While the latter booted a goal, the Phillips finished without one for the first time in 2021.

The Crows will look to regroup and rebound with another tricky test against the Western Bulldogs in Round 8, while Melbourne faces another massive test in the form of Fremantle. Both sides are set to play on Sunday evening.

GOALS:

Melbourne: K. Hore 3, E. Zanker, T. Hanks, L. Pearce.
Adelaide: C. Randall, R. Martin.

DC BEST:

Melbourne: T. Hanks, K. Hore, K. Paxman, L. Mithen, E. Zanker, M. Gay
Adelaide: E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Hatchard, C. Randall E. Phillips, A. Foley

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Lions set up potential top of the table clash

By: Peter Williams

BRISBANE Lions have set up a potential top of the table clash with Collingwood – provided the Pies win today – after grabbing their fifth win of the season against GWS GIANTS yesterday. The Lions were a touch inaccurate, booting 7.13 (55) to 2.5 (17), but it was enough to secure the comfortable 38-point win and temporarily move into top spot. With five individual goalkickers for their seven goals, the Lions shared the goals around on the afternoon, and moved to a 5-1 record heading into the final three rounds of the season.

Dakota Davidson was quick off the mark, scoring a goal in the opening two minutes of the match to get the visitors up and about early. New recruit Courtney Hodder soon added her first at the 12-minute mark with a remarkable effort close to goal in tight space under pressure, and Jess Wuetschner in her second game back converted one, and the Lions were out to an 18-point lead with a few minutes remaining in the first term. The quarter time margin – which extended by one from that point courtesy of a Hodder behind – was 20 points, and the Lions were already looking in control of the match.

That only increased in the second term, as Isabel Dawes scored an early goal two minutes into the quarter, and fellow youngster Jade Ellenger drove the dagger in further with a fifth individual goalkicker in the match. When Davidson snagged her second of the contest late in the quarter, the margin had blown out to 39 points, and would by 41 by half-time. The GIANTS were unable to put one through the big sticks, while the Lions were sharing the ball around going inside 50 and reaping the rewards of doing so.

Dawes kicked her second major of the game again early in the third, as the six-and-a-half minute mark ticked past and Brisbane was out to a 49-point lead. It was at this point, the GIANTS began to rise. Katherine Smith was the first to respond two minutes later, and the goal drought was broken. Whilst the GIANTS would not kick another major until the final stanza through Emily Bennetts, they restricted the visitors to just three behinds in the final half an hour of action. The dried up scoring mattered little for the Lions however, as they claimed the important win.

Davidson snagged two goals from 10 disposals, four marks and five tackles to be lively in the first half, while Dawes managed the 11 disposals and four tackles to go with her two majors. Emily Bates was the top disposal winner for the Lions, picking up 20 touches, three marks and three tackles, while fellow midfielder Ally Anderson, and All-Australian defender Kate Lutkins racked up the 19 disposals. Tahlia Hickie was influential in the ruck, and Wuetschner was again lively, kicking a goal from 12 touches, three marks and four tackles.

For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva picked up 22 disposals, four marks and two tackles, ahead of Britt Tully (19 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Young gun Alyce Parker was again busy across the game with 16 disposals, two marks and six tackles, as was Rebecca Beeson (16 disposals, four tackles) and another rising star talent in Georgia Garnett (15 disposals, three marks and three tackles). Bennetts not only kicked the final goal of the game, but had 15 disposals and five marks to boot as well. Brisbane Lions set their sights on Collingwood next Sunday at Hickey Park, while the GIANTS head to RSEA Park on Saturday to clash with the Saints in what are both expected to be tight contests.

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 2.5 (17)
BRISBANE 3.3 | 6.7 | 7.11 | 7.13 (55)

GOALS:
Greater Western Sydney: Smith, Bennetts.
Brisbane: Davidson 2, Dawes 2, Hodder, Wuetschner, Ellenger

DC BEST:
Greater Western Sydney: Eva, Parker, Beeson, Bennetts, Garnett
Brisbane: Davidson, Lutkins, Bates, Dawes, Anderson

Picture credit: via Adelaide FC

ADELAIDE SEND WARNING SHOT WITH RECORD-BREAKING WIN

By: Tom Cheesman

ADELAIDE has continued its strong run of form with a 70-point smashing of Gold Coast at Norwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Crows held their opponents scoreless in the first and third terms while piling on 13 goals of their own for the match, an AFLW record. Adelaide controlled the inside 50s (41-19) and were far more efficient with their disposals inside 50 (56 to 37 per cent). Stevie-Lee Thompson (17 disposals, two marks, one goal) provided plenty of run and carry all day for the Crows, while Anne Hatchard (21 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ebony Marinoff (20 disposals, eight tackles) were influential in the midfield. Superstar Erin Phillips and Danielle Ponter kicked six goals (and had 10 scoring shots) between them, while Alison Drennan (29 disposals, seven tackles) and Kalinda Howarth (18 disposals) worked tirelessly for the visitors.

There were major injury issues for both sides in the opening minutes of the contest. First, Adelaide small defender Nikki Gore courageously flew from the side into a marking contest and went down with a suspected ankle fracture. Two minutes later, Gold Coast midfielder Jamie Stanton‘s ankle buckled underneath her when she laid a tackle in her side’s defensive 50. She was taken from the ground on a stretcher and was seen on crutches after the match. Once the match got going, Sarah Allan immediately set the tone for Adelaide in defence. She made a significant impact defensively but also initiated some counterattacking ball movement with effective forward handballs off half-back. Hatchard was able to kick the Crows’ first after a perfect pass from Phillips, and captain Chelsea Randall soccered through her side’s  second soon after.

For the fourth consecutive week, Adelaide held their opponents scoreless in the opening term. Regardless, it was not all doom-and-gloom for the Suns early. Howarth was classy with her ball use coming out of congestion, Kate Surman found plenty of the ball, and Tori Groves-Little took some spectacular marks up forward in her first quarter of the season. The Suns looked positive at the start of the second term, as Daisy D’Arcy found Leah Kaslar on the lead for their first goal of the day. However, the Crows noticed that the Suns were within a goal and quickly got the game back on their terms.

Ash Woodland earned a free for a hold and kicked truly from 30 metres out, and then Chloe Scheer set up Ponter for her first. Second-gamer Rachelle Martin redeemed herself after dropping a mark inside 50 by applying relentless forward pressure, earning a free kick and snapping her first goal in AFLW. Gold Coast’s only chance to score was from centre clearances at this point because, much like St Kilda last Sunday, they were unable to cleanly move the ball out of their defensive 50 through Adelaide’s zone.

In stark contest, Adelaide ran the ball out of their defence very easily, picking holes in Gold Coast’s defence at will. After Ponter and Phillips kicked back-to-back goals, Gold Coast won a centre clearance and got a late goal through Surman. Although Surman and Drennan had a whopping 33 touches between them at the main break, the Crows held a convincing 30-point lead. Ferocious Adelaide player Scheer extended her side’s lead at the start of the third by earning a free and putting through a set shot. Phillips set the ground alight when she unloaded a huge barrel off half-back, but unfortunately for the home fans it went straight to Elizabeth Keaney, who took several intercept marks in the third term. Thompson continued her impressive performance by running onto a loose ball and drilling the Crows’ ninth, and it was very clear that the Suns had no answers on how to stop Adelaide’s momentum.

After some relentless pressure from Teah Charlton and Woodland, Phillips earned a free for being blocked in a marking contest and kicked her second. Things soured for the Crows at the end of the third term, as Hannah Button dislocated her shoulder while reaching to lay a tackle and left the field in the hands of trainers. Adelaide did not slow down to start the fourth, continuing to pepper the goals and refusing to let the ball out of their forward half. This led to Ponter kicking another, this time from a forward 50 stoppage. Soon after, a duck through traffic and clever handball over the shoulder from Phillips set up Ponter for her fourth.

On the other side, all of Gold Coast’s forward movement came through Groves-Little, who got little-to-no support at that end of the ground. When Crows captain Randall got on the end of some unselfish ball movement from Phillips and Thompson to kick her second, Adelaide’s score moved to 85 points, just one behind shy of the highest score in AFLW history (12.14.86 by the 2018 Western Bulldogs). As Adelaide went for the record, the Suns were finally able to lock the ball in their forward 50 for an extended period. Sally Riley had some good moments during this stretch, but the Suns failed to capitalise on her hard work and only added one behind to their total.

After a late end-to-end transition by the Crows, Dee Heslop laid a brilliant tackle on Ponter in the goal square to save a certain score and keep the Bulldogs’ scoring record intact. Regardless, it was a percentage-boosting win that Adelaide’s coaches will be pleased with as they move into the final three rounds of the home and away season.

Next week, Adelaide hit the road to face Melbourne at Casey Fields on Saturday night. Meanwhile, Gold Coast will aim to get their first win of 2021 when they take on the Tigers in a Friday night clash at Metricon.

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 7.2 | 10.5 | 13.7 (85)
GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.2 | 2.2 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:
Adelaide: D. Ponter 4, E. Phillips, C. Randall 2, S. Thompson, A. Woodland, R. Martin, C. Scheer, A. Hatchard.
Gold Coast: L. Kaslar, K. Surman.

DC BEST:
Adelaide: S. Thompson, E. Phillips, D. Ponter, A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, T. Groves-Little, K. Howarth, K. Surman, S. Riley

Picture credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEES DOWN SAINTS TO KEEP SEASON ALIVE

By: Sophie Taylor

IT was a tight encounter between Melbourne and St Kilda on Saturday night, with both sides looking to get back on the winners list this season after big losses last round. It was the Demons that got a confident and comfortable percentage-boosting victory on the board on home soil at Casey Fields, running out 9.12 (66) to 3.4 (22) victors, credit to a consistent four-quarter effort.

The Dees were on the offensive from the get-go, driving forward and flooding the 50m to lock the ball in attack. It appeared the Melbourne coaching staff were not afraid to switch things up a bit heading into this matchup, with a couple of shaky matches over the last few weeks making for a different approach in the forward line. A classy kick from Maddi Gay hit Daisy Pearce on a lead at the top of the square with the Dees legend putting the first goal of the game through, before minutes later Alyssa Bannan rid herself off her recent goal drought with an excellent running goal to put a second on the board. The Saints were still yet to make it inside their own 50m though despite piling pressure on through midfield, with the Dees making it tough to clear the footy. Gay and Tyla Hanks were never far from the footy as Sainters Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Cat Phillips contested well, while Kate Shierlaw also kept on the pressure around the ground, rarely beaten.

The remainder of the first was hotly contested with Melbourne unable to put a third major on the board despite locking the footy inside 50, and leading 14-0 at the first change. A huge inside 50 from Georgia Patrikios started the second quarter, surging the footy forward, and while it did not work to the Saints’ favour, the effort paid off with the Saints given a couple of chances to put on the scoreboard pressure, all to no avail. An excellent run down midfield from Hanks earned a free kick down field for a late push in the back, with a goal right in front from Shelley Scott undoing all the hard work the Saints had done early to lock the footy inside 50. While she was well held early, Patrikios fired up in the second quarter, throwing herself at the contest and doing everything she could to pile on the pressure around the ground.

The Saints strung some great minutes together in forward 50 as Nat Exon finally put the Saints on the board, reducing the margin and seeing the Saints build up their confidence with a couple more attempts coming in thick and fast but to no avail. The Dees’ midfield was on fire, and led by Hanks and Karen Paxman, they were crucial in quickly and efficiently driving down the centre. A free kick to Tegan Cunningham kept the scoreboard ticking over, seeing an 18-point half-time margin and an intense contest brewing.

A huge first few minutes of the third quarter saw plenty of argy bargy from both sides, with a tough battle through the midfield and Melbourne’s midfielders doing the trick to drive the footy forward, while St Kilda’s defence was just staying ahead of the pack to maintain possession. Lauren Pearce continued her excellent first half efforts utilising her height and footy smarts, before an excellent passage from Eden Zanker saw the forward kick directly to Daisy Pearce at the top of the square once more, before another goal to Bannan saw the second half kick off to an eerily similar way to the beginning of the match, though this time seeing a 31-point margin with 10 left in the third quarter. 

A goal to Jackie Parry saw the Dees extend their lead further, with the remainder of the match played on Melbourne’s terms as Caitlin Greiser was moved down back to help work the Saints back into the match but to no avail as Rosie Dillon, Rhi Watt and Hannah Priest continued to throw themselves into the contest. But it was a second scoreless term for the Saints, trailing by 39 points at the final change. The Dees needed a percentage boost ahead of the remaining three rounds of the season, and that’s what they got as the Saints failed to close the margin.

Zanker continued her solid work across the ground, putting a couple of behinds on the board and worrying the Saints but ultimately unable to find the big sticks, before Eliza McNamara topped off an excellent effort with her maiden goal. A maiden Claudia Whitfort goal reduced the margin a fraction but it was not enough, with the Dees creating a highlight reel up forward with their continuous hunt on the footy, and Kate Hore joining the party inside 50 with some slick skills towards the latter stage of the match. A Tamara Luke goal with just over two minutes of the clock did plenty for the Saints’ work rate but unfortunately not enough to really shake the Dees, with the home side running out 44-point winners credit to a solid four quarter effort.

For the losing side, Priest, Patrikios and Phillips were the leading ball-winners with 17 disposals apiece, and combining for 15 tackles between them. Dillion picked up 12 touches and eight tackles, whilst Watt (15 touches and five marks) also proved crucial. For the Dees, Lauren Pearce was a revelation in the ruck with 22 touches, 21 hitouts, four tackles, four marks and a behind, whilst Hanks (22 and four tackles), Zanker (23, eight marks and three behinds) and Paxman (24 touches)  were also heavily involved in the contest. Daisy Pearce booted her two from 13 touches and six marks, whilst Lily Mithen and Scott piled on the pressure with six tackles each.

The Dees will have their work cut out for them in the remaining three rounds of the season, currently sitting just outside the top six and matches against Adelaide (second), Fremantle (fourth) and Brisbane (first) awaiting. They host Adelaide during the same Saturday evening timeslot in a week’s time, whilst the Saints host the Giants in the early Saturday timeslot at RSEA Park.

MELBOURNE | 2.2 | 4.3 | 7.6 | 9.12 (66)
ST KILDA | 0.0 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Melbourne: D. Pearce 2, A. Bannan 2, S. Scott, T. Cunningham, J. Parry, E. McNamara, K. Hore.
St Kilda: N. Exon, C. Whitfort, T. Luke.

DC BEST
Melbourne: L. Pearce, T. Hanks, D. Pearce, E. Zanker, M. Gay
St Kilda: H. Priest, G. Patrikios, C. Phillips, R. Watt, R. Dillon

2021 AFLW Preview: GWS Giants

GWS has been one of the competition’s most consistently solid teams since inauguration, without really breaking through and joining the elites. Last year, the Giants took a massive step towards that status with the club’s first ever finals appearance in its winningest campaign to date. In 2021, the foundation side will again look to match it with the best and go one step further with a postseason victory.

2020 RECAP

Not much was expected of the Giants in 2020, but they broke through for their most successful season yet with four regular season wins and a maiden finals appearance. Unfortunately, their run came to a heartbreaking end at the hands of Melbourne, who beat them by three points in a dramatic come-from-behind effort at GIANTS Stadium.

Earlier in the year, the Giants went win-for-loss in the first five rounds before breaking through for consecutive victories on the eve of finals, placing them second in Conference A at 4-2 overall. A redemptive Round 6 win over Adelaide and one-point opening round thriller against Gold Coast were the highlights, as GWS became a side able to win the games expected of them while remaining just a step off the absolute contenders.

NEW FACES

Former Melbourne youngster Katherine Smith was GWS’ sole trade signing, joining the orange and charcoal on a two-year deal and promising to add some versatility to the squad. While predominantly known as a defender, the Victorian is also able to play as an inside midfielder and is in a good age bracket for her new side’s direction. She spent all of 2020 on the sidelines after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) but should make a return this season.

With Yvonne Bonner out of action in 2021, the Giants picked up another Irishwoman in Brid Stack, who unfortunately suffered a serious neck injury in the club’s preseason hitout against Adelaide. The Giants took on a trio of players at the draft and one undrafted free agent in 34-year-old former basketballer, Erin Todd. Queanbeyan product Tarni Evans headlined the crop at pick nine, a dynamic forward/midfielder who is one of the most talented teenagers around the nation. She could slot straight into the Giants’ starting line-up in her debut season.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

A 2018 All Australian, Erin McKinnon is the Giants’ player to watch this season. She dipped a touch below the lofty standards she had previously set last year, but at just 22-years-old, the 189cm ruck has plenty of scope to come on quickly and dominate for years to come. McKinnon is a monster in the hitouts, averaging over 22 per game across her first three seasons and directing plenty to the advantage of her midfielders. With the potential to move forward and impact more with contested marking, McKinnon could take hold for the Giants this year.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

The Giants have long been lauded for their consistency and the stability of their list overall, which proved a large factor in them exceeding expectations in 2020. With Alicia Eva at the helm of an unchanged leadership group, Alyce Parker quickly becoming a top five player in the competition and a solid spine forming, there is no reason why the Giants cannot continue to perform at a high level.

QUESTION MARK

With a finals spot earned last year, the Giants have been assigned a relatively tough fixture and after a series of challenges over the last six to 12 months, starting well will be the priority. However, Fremantle and Melbourne make for two formidable opponents among the opening fortnight of action, and will help answer the question of whether GWS can truly hang with the top sides.

FINAL WORD

The Giants have a strong core of experienced leaders who should again help them account for the bottom sides, but breaking through to beat those in premiership contention lingers as the next big step for this team. Expect another run to the finals, with the target of a postseason win in both GWS’ sights and the realm of possibility.

Image Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFLW Draft review: GWS GIANTS

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with GWS GIANTS, a team that showed great potential in 2020, and was able to add a couple of terrific junior talents and a train-on player from the season.

GWS GIANTS:

#9 – Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/Eastern Allies)
#29 – Emily Pease (Belconnen Magpies/Eastern Allies)
#42 – Libby Graham (Manly Warringah Wolves)

Having just the three selections in the AFL Women’s Draft, the GIANTS were able to handpick their choices by having a monopoly on the New South Wales group. They picked a couple of highly-rated teenagers out of AFL Canberra in Tarni Evans and Emily Pease, as well as the experienced Libby Graham who was a train-on player for the GIANTS in 2020, coming out of Manly Warringah Wolves.

First selection Evans comes out of Queanbeyan Tigers and is a member of the AFL Women’s Academy. A taller forward who can roll through the midfield, Evans moved from Tathra to the nation’s capital in order to test herself in a stronger league. She did just that and she could see plenty of footy in 2021. Likely to start forward and then develop into a genuine utility across the field, she will be a clever forward option for the GIANTS to kick to.

Joining her was fellow AFL Women’s Academy member and AFL Canberra representative, Emily Pease. Both Pease and Evans are former athletic talents, and whilst Pease is a little smaller, she can play through midfielder or off half-back. She is able to provide that run and drive out of the defensive 50 and add a bit of spark to the GIANTS starting side, and will no doubt push for a spot over the summer.

The final selection of Graham was one that rewarded her for her commitment during the 2020 season as a train-on partner and then stepped up for the Wolves in the AFL Sydney Women’s competition. She also plays off half-back, with a bit of added experience as a readymade defender who can step up straight away and slot into the outfit.

The GIANTS had a relatively quiet off-season, but also brought in Katherine Smith from the Demons, so have bolstered their defensive stocks, as well as adding some young class to the line-up in what could be a big 2021.

Picture: GWS GIANTS

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Melbourne & Western Bulldogs

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

Melbourne – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 5 (3), 15 (9), 17 (11), 35 (24), 40 (27), 47 (30)

Off-season summary:

With somewhat of an ageing list and the premiership window closing, Melbourne seemed to recognise both factors during the sign and trade period. As one of the busier clubs, the Dees enacted a big turnover of established players, allowing them to bolster their draft hand to make the most of a bumper crop and regenerate ahead of the 2021 season.

Elise O’Dea was the biggest loss, as she was packaged up and sent to the Blues alongside Maddy Guerin, while defender Harriet Cordner was shipped to Richmond, Aliesha Newman to Collingwood, Bianca Jakobsson to St Kilda, and Katherine Smith to GWS. A strong, established core remains, but that’s a big loss in starting-21 players. Coming the other way, though is a third Irishwoman on the Dees’ list in Lauren Magee, a star of the Gaelic code.

A draft look:

This is as important a draft as ever for Melbourne, with a lot riding on its first pick and the value lying in its remaining hand. The Dees also boast the equal-most selections available with six, ensuring they’ll be able to cover each loss at the least.

With pick five, the third in the Victorian pool, Melbourne will likely look to bolster its defensive stocks. Sandringham Dragons tall Sarah Hartwig seems a good fit to plug a key position gap, while Western’s Isabelle Pritchard is a versatile option who can also move through midfield. Should the Bulldogs (see below) opt to overlook Northern key forward Alyssa Bannan, she could well land at Demonland.

The Demons’ remaining hand should see them further boost that defensive line with depth of all sizes, while potentially targeting another key position forward depending on what happens with pick five. Youth should be the priority, though mature-age recruits have payed off for many clubs throughout the draft, especially last year.

Western Bulldogs – Victorian Pool

Draft selections: 2 (2), 11 (6), 16 (10)

Off-season summary: 

The Bulldogs have been gutted of some serious senior talent over the expansion years, so a quieter sign and trade period would have been a refreshing change for their fans. Still, Aisling McCarthy leaves a gap in midfield as she departs for West Coast, while Hannah Munyard has returned home to Adelaide, and Nicole Callinan is the sole retiree. 20-year-old key forward Katie Lynch was their only recruit, and may well help predict what the Dogs will do with their first pick in the draft. Having traded well to land three top-end selections, the Bulldogs’ rebuild is in decent shape.

A draft look:

Familiar themes could well arise from what the Bulldogs decide to do with picks two, 11, and 16 – the second, sixth, and 10th choices in the Victorian pool. After taking in a bunch of Vic Metro based talent last year, all familiar to coach Nathan Burke, the Bulldogs will likely again revert to the deep Northern Knights well of talent. While the recruit of Lynch fills a massive key position forward requirement, don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs opt for another in Alyssa Bannan with pick two. Otherwise, Olivia Barber could be the key forward they’re after with one of the two later selections.

Should they feel that area is covered, midfield support for Ellie Blackburn is another important area of improvement. Ellie McKenzie could then become the second Northern Knights captain to land at the kennel in as many years, joining Gabby Newton, while Dandenong’s Tyanna Smith is the other likely number one pick who could get a look-in. Both are damaging midfielders who should be ready to set the competition alight from Round 1. Keeping with the Knights’ theme, Jessica Fitzgerald would be a handy choice with either of the two remaining selections, a balanced midfielder who co-captained her side with McKenzie.

Featured Image: Jess Fitzgerald and Gabby Newton at this year’s NAB League Girls launch | Credit: AFL Photos

AFL Women’s Draft preview: Adelaide Crows & GWS GIANTS

THE AFL Women’s Draft is fast approaching and in the lead-up to the draft, we take a look at each of the AFL women’s sides in pairs and see what they might look for, and who might be available with the selections they have. Kick-starting our series are the two sides who have a monopoly on their states in Adelaide Crows and GWS GIANTS.

Adelaide Crows – South Australian pool

Draft selections: 4, 45, 48

Off-season summary:

Adelaide is in the box seat next season and should be another contender for the 2021 flag. After a 2020 season interrupted by multiple injuries, the Crows will regain two of the best players in the competition in Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, whilst saying goodbye to retirees, Jess Foley, Courtney Cramey, Courtney Gum and Sophie Li. Maisie Nankivell also retired to focus on her netball with the Adelaide Thunderbirds, while Nicole Campbell and Jaimi Tabb were two delistings after one season.

In return, the Crows welcomed back a trio of South Australian players with Jess Sedunary (St Kilda), Lisa Whiteley (GWS GIANTS) and Hannah Munyard (Western Bulldogs) all completing trades home. The movements left three available spots on the Crows’ list, and conveniently those picks are 4, 45 and 48.

A draft look:

When it comes to South Australia, it is hard to look past South Adelaide’s Teah Charlton as the standout player from an under-age perspective. She has a bag of tricks and is as dangerous overhead as she is at ground level, knows where the goals are and can play through the midfield or forward line, and even been tested in defence at times. Put simply, in an open draft – ignoring the zoning – she would be taken in the top 10, so expect her to be the likely first selection for the Crows.

With the two remaining picks, Charlton’s Panthers’ teammate Indy Tahau would be the next one to look at, likely to follow her teammate – and last year’s first selection and fellow Panther Montana McKinnon – into the AFL Women’s. Outside the two clear under-age standouts, over-ager defender Amber Ward is a rock in defence and could be called up for a chance at the elite level, whilst South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s leading goalkicker, Ashleigh Woodland has also earned a Draft Combine invite.

Woodland has already tasted the AFL Women’s, after the 22-year-old played four games for Melbourne in 2019 after being a free agent selection in 2018. Putting together a superb season in front of goal for the Roosters, expect Woodland to not only be on the Crows’ radar, but other clubs as well if they have not already looked into the dangerous talent. More mature-age talent that continues to shine at SANFL Women’s level includes Campbell, and train-on players Rachelle Martin and Czenya Cavouras who showed they were in the Crows’ considerations as next best post-draft.

GWS GIANTS – NSW/ACT pool

Draft selections: 9, 29, 42, 53

Off-season summary:

Greater Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS had a relatively quiet off-season, with just three players retiring in Ellie Brush, Ingrid Nielsen and Maggie Gorham last month. The sole trade the GIANTS made welcomes Katherine Smith to the club, replacing the experience lost by Whiteley heading to the Crows. Smith had been an important player for Melbourne, and the GIANTS also picked up picks 29 and 42, whilst parting with picks 25 and 39 in the process.

With a massive 25 players re-signed to the club and only three departures, it leaves three spots for the GIANTS to select players, holding selections nine, 29 and 42 in the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft, with Pick 53 also belonging to them. Much like the Crows, the pick selections matter little given they can handpick the players who have nominated for their NSW/ACT zone.

A draft look:

The GIANTS had a fairly unpredictable draft last year with a number of surprises, including the rapidly developing Gorham from Canberra with their first pick. This year they have some more young guns through the AFL Women’s National Academy who have put their hand up and earned Draft Combine invites, but as we saw with Brenna Tarrant, players can end up in other states.

Looking at those AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites, there are five who have stood up, four of whom have been Academy members this year. Three of those Academy members have risen through the pathways together in Tarni Evans, Emily Pease and Jayde Hamilton who could all be among the consideration for the top 10 pick. Evans is a contested marking player and one who has been touted as a future star since her Under 18s days, while Pease is a running half-back-cum-midfielder, and Hamilton a contested ball-winning talent.

All three have different skillsets and then you can factor in the other two players to receive AFL Women’s National Draft Combine invites – Abby Favell and Kiara Beesley. Favell is an elite runner with strong decision making skills and a high work rate, while Beesley is a former acrobat who is running around with Southern Power and who has a great blend of strength and speed, and more than capable overhead.

Like last year, the GIANTS could end up picking a handful of local players they have been watching through the AFL Sydney and AFL Canberra competitions, but there is enough talented youth there to put their hands up to go to the next level.

Picture: Hannah Howard/SANFL

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Melbourne

THE 2019 AFLW season was an interesting one for the Demons, who found themselves in a difficult conference playing against premiers, Adelaide and flag favourites, North Melbourne, winning four of their seven matches and ultimately would have made finals in the alternate conference. However, the Dees have proved they have consistency over the first three seasons, finishing mid-range on the ladder every season. Melbourne were one of the lucky teams heading out of the 2019 AFL Women’s season, managing to retain a large portion of their lineup while adding some impressive names to the list. Ultimately one of the biggest ins to the side is the return of Daisy Pearce following a season out of the sport with pregnancy, something that will surely bolster the Demons’ already impressive midfield. The addition of Western Bulldogs defender, Libby Birch will kick Melbourne’s defensive pressure up a notch, while the core side sticking together will ensure Melbourne continue their consistency and hopefully go one better in 2020.

With Birch the key cog and retaining Pearce key, the Demons had a mostly uneventful off-season, delisting four players and picking up four late picks in the AFL Women’s Draft. Interstaters Jacqueline Parry (Canberra) and Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles) join the side alongside Calder Cannons’ Krstel Petrevski, while Darebin Falcons’ Gabby Colvin will have the chance to prove herself at the top level after three seasons at VFL Women’s. The Dees will also benefit from the addition of Irish recruits, Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy who join the rookie list for 2020.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Libby Birch (Western Bulldogs), Brenna Tarrant (East Coast Eagles), Gabby Colvin (Darebin Falcons), Krstel Petrevski (Calder Cannons), Jacqueline Parry (Canberra), Shae Sloane (promoted from rookie list to primary), Sinead Goldrick (gaelic), Niamh McEvoy (gaelic)
OUT: Maddy Brancatisano (Richmond), Ashleigh Guest (Western Bulldogs), Cat Phillips (St Kilda), Claudia Whitfort (St Kilda), Jordann Hickey, Talia Radan, Brooke Patterson, Ashleigh Woodland (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Libby Birch
Gabrielle Colvin
Harriet Cordner
Tegan Cunningham
Meg Downie
Maddison Gay
Madeleine Guerin
Tyla Hanks
Shelley Heath
Kate Hore
Bianca Jakobsson
Ainslie Kemp
Sarah Lampard
Lily Mithen
Aliesha Newman
Elise O’Dea
Jacqueline Parry
Karen Paxman
Daisy Pearce
Lauren Pearce
Krstel Petrevski
Shelley Scott
Casey Sherriff
Shae Sloane
Katherine Smith
Brenna Tarrant
Eden Zanker

Rookies: Chantel Emonson, Sinead Goldrick, Niamh McEvoy

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Meg Downie, Harriet Cordner, Chantel Emonson
HB: Sarah Lampard, Libby Birch, Karen Paxman
C: Elise O’Dea
HF: Maddison Gay, Kate Hore, Shelley Scott
F: Eden Zanker, Tegan Cunningham, Aliesha Newman
R: Lauren Pearce, Lily Mithen, Daisy Pearce
INT: Bianca Jakobsson – Tyla Hanks – Katherine Smith – Maddy Guerin – Ainslie Kemp
EMG: Jacqueline Parry – Shae Sloane – Shelley Heath

DEPTH: Gabby Colvin, Krstel Petrevski, Casey Sherriff, Brenna Tarrant, Sinead Goldrick, Niamh McEvoy

It will likely be difficult for some of the new recruits to break into the 2020 lineup, with the Demons maintaining a number of key combinations across the field. Harriet Cordner proved her dominance defensively last season and with the addition of Birch they could form a real formidable trio down back. Through the midfield, look to key ruck, Lauren Pearce who had a fantastic run in the 2019 season. She followed up her form awarded with the VFL Women’s Lambert-Pearce Medal over the off-season. Pearce’s ability to find co-captains Elise O’Dea and Shelley Scott plays a massive role in making headway down the field, with key ball movers the likes of Lily Mithen and Daisy Pearce able to have an impact both in the air and at ground level, while young gun Tyla Hanks found her form in a similar manner, playing up the ground with ball magnets Aliesha Newman, Eden Zanker and Kate Hore.

Melbourne’s first draft pick in Jacqueline Parry is a relatively unknown quantity with plenty of class traits but will have to fight her way into the side, while the likes of Krstel Petrevski, Gabby Colvin and Brenna Tarrant will also provide good support and try and force their way in.