Tag: katie brennan

Davey and Bowers crowned best and fairest at 2021 W Awards

THEY were the two favourites coming into the night, and in the end, Collingwood’s Brianna Davey and Fremantle’s Kiara Bowers have capped off fantastic 2021 AFL Women’s seasons by sharing the league’s highest individual honour at the W Awards last night. The pair polled 15 votes apiece, one ahead of Western Bulldogs’ Ellie Blackburn and GWS GIANTS’ Alyce Parker.

Davey averaged 23.8 disposals, 4.8 clearances and won almost 50 per cent of her possessions in a contest, which earned her the AFL Players Association’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). Bowers averaged the 21.1 disposals, 11.0 tackles and 6.5 clearances per game, coming second to Davey in the AFLPA MVP Award.

The Magpies co-captain led her side to its first finals win this year, and had a remarkable finish to the season which saw her claim three consecutive best-on-grounds between Rounds 4-6 to take the lead by Round 5 and stretch her lead out to four votes with three rounds remaining.

Bowers drew within a vote in Round 7 and Monique Conti kept in touch with a best on ground effort for the Tigers. Whilst none of the trio would poll in the penultimate round, it led to a tense final round, which saw Bowers pick up a vote in the final round’s loss to North Melbourne. Davey did not poll in the final two rounds, but had done enough to hold on and share the award with the tackling machine.

A late burst from Melbourne’s Karen Paxman and Parker saw them finish inside the top five, with Blackburn polling three in the final round to add to her early lead where she got out to a two-vote advantage after Round 4.

AFLW LEAGUE BEST AND FAIREST:

Brianna Davey (Collingwood) 15 votes
Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 15 votes
Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs) 14 votes
Alyce Parker (GWS GIANTS) 14 votes
Karen Paxman (Melbourne) 13 votes

Brianna Davey accepts her league best and fairest. Picture credit: AFL Twitter

AFLW ALL-AUSTRALIAN TEAM:

B: Sarah Allan (Adelaide) – Meg McDonald (Geelong)
HB: Ruby Schleicher (Collingwood) – Kate Lutkins (Brisbane) – Janelle Cuthbertson (Fremantle)
C: Monique Conti (Richmond) – Kiara Bowers (Fremantle – vc) – Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda)
HF: Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) – Katie Brennan (Richmond) – Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs)
F: Erin Phillips (Adelaide) – Chloe Molloy (Collingwood)
R: Breann Moody (Carlton) – Brianna Davey (Collingwood) – Alyce Parker (GWS GIANTS)
INT: Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) – Brittany Bonnici (Collingwood) – Darcy Vescio (Carlton) – Karen Paxman (Melbourne) – Emma Kearney (North Melbourne)

Six debutants and two five-time winners highlighted the 2021 AFL Women’s All-Australian team. North Melbourne’s Emma Kearney and Paxman were both named on the interchange, making it the fifth – maximum – time the pair have achieved the honour. At the other end of the scale, a couple of Pies in Brit Bonnici and Ruby Schleicher made their debuts alongside fellow inaugural AFL Women’s players Breann Moody and Katie Brennan. Fremantle’s Janelle Cuthbertson and the youngest member of the squad, second year player Georgia Patrikios rounded out the half dozen first-timers.

Davey was named as captain with Bowers nominated as vice-captain in the team, whilst Davey’s Magpies were represented the most in the side with four players – Davey, Bonnici, Schleicher and Chloe Molloy – whilst the premiers Brisbane Lions have just the one player in the side – best on ground in the 2021 AFLW Grand Final, Kate Lutkins.

AFLW RISING STAR:

Tyla Hanks (Melbourne) – 48 votes
Ellie McKenzie (Richmond) – 32 votes
Mikayla Bowen (West Coast) – 22 votes
Tyanna Smith (St Kilda) – 19 votes
Nat Grider (Brisbane) – 10 votes

Melbourne dynamo Tyla Hanks capped off a fantastic year by taking out the 2021 AFL Women’s Rising Star Award. The former Gippsland Power midfielder topped the leaderboard with 48 out of a possible 50 votes, finishing 16 votes clear of Richmond number one pick, Ellie McKenzie. West Coast’s Mikayla Bowen polled 22 votes to round out the podium, followed by St Kilda’s Tyanna Smith and Brisbane’s Nat Grider.

LEADING GOALKICKER:

Darcy Vescio (Carlton) 16 goals
Gemma Houghton (Fremantle) 14 goals
Chloe Molloy (Collingwood) 14 goals
Katie Brennan (Richmond) 14 goals
Dakota Davidson (Brisbane) 13 goals

The one award that was no surprise coming into the night was the leading goalkicker, with Vescio becoming the first two-time winner of the accolade. Having taken out the award back in the inaugural season of 2017, the clever forward doubled up with a 16-goal season in 2021. She finished two goals clear of Molloy, Brennan and Fremantle’s Gemma Houghton, with Brisbane’s Dakota Davidson rounding out the top five thanks to 13 goals.

Image credit: AFL Women’s

Dogs overcome hungry Tigers in respective final runs of the season

THE final round of AFL Women’s home and away season action started with a bang on Friday night, as the Western Bulldogs and Richmond Tigers went head to head in a huge clash that would see both clubs run out for the final time in season 2021. Whilst it was the Dogs that got off on the right foot with a huge opening quarter, the Tigers would not relent and came out during the second half to really test their opposition. It was not enough though, as the Bulldogs ran home with a 7.3 (45) to 5.2 (32) victory to complete their season on a high.

A four goals to one first term set up the clash, with the Dogs flying out of the blocks and proving accurate as they did so, whilst the Tigers appeared lacklustre as Kirsty Lamb put on a show booting the first goal and was shortly followed by Kirsten McLeod‘s first of two in quick succession. Whilst Tigers’ Tayla Stahl found time for a running goal in the middle, a fourth Doggies goal put the icing on the cake for the home side’s first quarter effort, effectively using the breeze to top off an excellent start.

A tight second quarter was characterised by just two majors as the contest heated up, with little separation as the Bulldogs forced errant kicks downfield but struggled to hit the scoreboard. While goals to Richmond’s Katie Brennan and Bulldogs’ Izzy Huntington broke the stalemate through the middle of the quarter, the third term was where it got busy across the ground as the Tigers lifted.

With a three-goal half-time margin, the Dogs just had to retain their defensive pressure to have the match in the bag. But Brennan and 2020 number one draft pick Ellie McKenzie had other ideas, with the duo putting on a masterclass. Brennan booted two goal in quick succession to reduce the margin to just four points, and while the Dogs had their chances three behinds were added to the scoresheet as the Tigers were on the hunt, not letting anything near the big sticks uncontested.

But Lamb booted an all-important goal within the first five minutes of the final term, and that was what the Dogs needed to lift as the side stepped up across the ground with little time left in a trying season. While a Courtney Wakefield major kept the Tigers in the race, Bonnie Toogood slammed one home with four minutes on the clock to drive the Doggies to the 13-point win and 5-4 win ratio for the season.

Whilst usually a significant contributor, Mon Conti was nowhere to be seen for much of the contest credit to a hard tag from Elisabeth Georgostathis, as Harriet Cordner led the Tigers’ charge down back with 15 touches and four rebounds. Kate Dempsey (15 touches, four marks) also found plenty of the footy, whilst Brennan’s three goals were crucial and earned a bests nod. McKenzie was limited to 13 touches but starred when she had ball in hand, producing one of the marks of the season in the second term. Sarah Hosking was one of the side’s top performers, finishing with 14 touches and seven tackles to equal-lead the tackle count alongside Lamb, who finished with 23 touches and four marks to add to her tally. Brooke Lochland also shone under pressure, piling on 23 touches and five marks, as McLeod’s two goals and four tackles proved useful and Nell Morris-Dalton put on her best performance to-date, finding the footy 14 times, including four marks and her first AFLW major. Ellie Blackburn (20 touches, six tackles) and Eleanor Brown (19 and six) both also proved crucial in the clash.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.0 | 5.0 | 5.3 | 7.3 (45)
RICHMOND 1.0 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 5.2 (32)

GOALS
Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, B. Lochland, N. Morris-Dalton, I. Huntington, K. Lamb, B. Toogood
Richmond: K. Brennan 3, T. Stahl, C. Wakefield

BEST
Western Bulldogs: K. Lamb, E. Blackburn, B. Lochland, E. Brown, N. Morris-Dalton, N. Ferres
Richmond: S. Hosking, G. Seymour, K. Brennan, E. McKenzie, K. Dempsey

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Inaccurate Tigers outlast Eagles for maiden home win

RICHMOND won its first ever match on home soil at Punt Road, holding out in a dreary and tough slog against the West Coast Eagles. With proceedings marred by continuous rain and Eagles injuries, the Tigers held on under pressure for the 5.12 (42) to 5.4 (34) victory.

It was an inaccurate win but a win nonetheless for the Tigers, with the yellow and black faithful treated to a dominant first half from the rapidly improving side. Ellie McKenzieMon Conti and Sarah Hosking were critical through the midfield as Tayla Stahl found her form early, booting two quick goals to pile on the pressure as the Eagles struggled to press forward. But the Tigers’ inaccuracy and missed opportunities allowed West Coast to capitalise in the third, booting three in quick succession as Grace KellyImahra Cameron and Mikayla Bowen all got on the board, with Bowen executing an impressive snap from the boundary to put some hunt into the Eagles.

But whilst the Eagles committed to their second half comeback with Niamh Kelly and Maddy Collier also stepping up to the plate to drive the footy forward, a second Katie Brennan major enabled the Tigers to retain the lead, as a smattering of behinds closed out the match with an eight-point margin and plenty to take out of the tight contest.

For the losing side, Bowen was amongst the best with 21 touches and six marks to go with her two majors, whilst Bella Lewis (18 touches, five tackles), Hayley Bullas (12 touches, six tackles) and Amber Ward (22 disposals) led the charge. For the Tigers, Conti (24 touches), McKenzie (22) and Brennan (two goals, 14 touches) were instrumental, while Stahl (two goals), Christina Bernardi (nine tackles, eight touches, one goal) and Sarah D’Arcy (16 touches, three marks) also proved influential in the side’s third win of the season.

The Tigers will take the field in their final match of the season under Friday night lights against the Western Bulldogs at VU Whitten Oval, whilst the Eagles will finish off their home-and-away season in the final match of the round, hosting St Kilda at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday night.

RICHMOND 2.2 | 3.6 | 4.9 | 5.12 (42)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.2 | 3.3 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS
Richmond: T. Stahl 2, K. Brennan 2, C. Bernardi
West Coast: M. Bowen 2, G. Kelly, I. Cameron, K Pope

BEST
Richmond: M. Conti, E. McKenzie, T. Stahl, K. Brennan, S. D’Arcy
West Coast: M. Bowen, M. Collier, N. Kelly, I. Lewis, K. Gibson

Image credit: Daniel Pockett / Getty Images

 

Image credit: Sarah Reed / Getty Images

High-flying Crows swoop on Dogs

By: Taylah Melki

IT was a blowout over in the South with the Adelaide Crows trouncing the Western Bulldogs 12.6 (78) to 3.4 (22). The one-sided affair really came to the fore in the final term with the Crows piling on four goals to produce a 56-point win. The Bulldogs struggled to generate scoring power throughout the contest booting just three goals for the match and going goalless in the third term, while the Crows had no troubles finding the big sticks.

It did not take long for the Crows to land the first blow with Chloe Sheer making her presence immediately felt on the scoreboard with a major. Her energy trickled through to her teammates as Adelaide moved the ball with tenacity and ease before Erin Phillips slotted her first major of the game moments later. Trying to keep her side afloat Bonnie Toogood stepped up to the plate for the Doggies kicking a major of her own but her efforts were quickly overshadowed by Caitlin Gould.

Playing with confidence the Crows amped up the pressure in the second term forcing turnovers from the Western Bulldogs and capitalising with Gould and Sheer registering their second majors for the game. Applying scoreboard pressure and stifling the Dogs’ ball movement, the home side extended their lead out to as much as 33 points at half time.

Scoring dried up for both sides in the third quarter with only one goal added to the tally coming off the boot of Ash Woodland. Western Bulldogs could not find the big sticks in the third quarter, unable to slot a single goal as the game turned into an arm wrestle of sorts. Despite holding a commanding lead heading into the final change, Adelaide still had plenty to pprove replicating that hot form from earlier in the game and getting down to business in the fourth. Piling on four goals to one in the last stanza the Crows flexed their muscles, spearheaded by Sheer who seemed to have her kicking boots on while Danielle Ponter sent tongues wagging with a stellar mark.

It was a good day at the office for Sheer who managed three goals from her 13 touches while Gould was also electric nailing two majors and picking up 10 touches. Woodland was the other player to score multiple goals with two as five other players managed to add a sole goal to the Crows winning margin. Ebony Marinoff could not be denied with the star midfielder involved in just about everything to top the table with 25 disposals and six marks. Partner in crime, Anne Hatchard was at her usual dominant best recording 19 touches, five marks and six tackles while 21-year-old Eloise Jones left her mark thanks to her 14 touches, four marks and goal. Stevie-Lee Thompson and Phillips managed 14 disposals apiece as Teah Charlton also threw her weight around to walk away with 12 touches and an impressive seven tackles.

Unfortunately it was a tough day at the office for the Dogs but the efforts of Toogood and Brooke Lochland did not go unnoticed. Toogood was the main port of call inside 50 nailing two goals while Lochland racked up the possessions with a team-high 20. Ellie Blackburn was a strong force for the Dogs amassing 19 touches as Eleanor Brown finished with 15 touches and six tackles. Kirsty Lamb chimed in across the ground, not afraid to put her body on the line and tackle hard in what was a solid outing by the 26-year-old who managed 14 touches, a goal and five tackles.

ADELAIDE 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.4 | 12.6 (78)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Adelaide: C. Scheer 3, C. Gould 2, A. Woodland 2, E. Phillips, E. Jones, R. Martin, H. Button, C. Randall
Western Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, K. Lamb

BEST
Adelaide: C. Scheer, E. Marinoff, A. Hatchard, E. Phillips, A. Woodland, E. Jones
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Lochland, K. Lamb, B. Toogood

 

Image credit: Getty Images

Dees nab finals spot with clutch win over Dockers

By: Sophie Taylor

MELBOURNE has cemented its finals chances with a clutch win over a fast-finishing Fremantle outfit, leading for majority of the contest and holding on in a hugely pressurised final few minutes to run out victors 5.7 (37) to 4.8 (32).

It was an explosive start from the Dees that allowed them to hang on under pressure, with a four goal half time lead whittled down to just five points at the final siren. Two first half goals to Kate Hore set the tone as the Demons commanded ball from the get-go on enemy soil, as Karen Paxman led the way around the ground, with the support across the ground allowing the side to maintain control during the hard fought and physical battle. Tempers fired during the third as Roxy Roux intercepted and kicked truly inside 50, as the likes of Kiara Bowers and Hayley Miller worked their way into the match, setting up a huge final term as the margin closed between the two sides. While Bowers was well held early by a rotation of taggers, proceedings seemed to be getting going on the Dockers’ terms during the final quarter with the Dees soon down a rotation as Sinead Goldrick went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, as Roux booted a second and Gemma Houghton put Fremantle in front for the first time with less than 10 minutes on the clock. But Lauren Pearce‘s consistency and ability to take control through the centre continued to pay off, with the Dees benefiting off her vision and taps with Eliza McNamara and Maddi Gay rarely far from the action, with the latter booting the final goal of the game to seal victory and a spot in the top six a week shy of finals.

To the Demons’ credit, it was not just their first half forward pressure that won them the match, but also the side’s ability to maintain pressure during the Dockers’ excellent comeback, controlling proceedings and creating stoppage after stoppage to whittle down the clock and force Fremantle to take risks downfield. Paxman (24 disposals, six marks), McNamara (21 disposals, four tackles, one goal) and Pearce (20 touches, 16 hitouts) were amongst the best for the Dees, while Gay and Hore stepped up during crucial moments and Eden Zanker had some excellent passages under pressure. For the Dockers, Bowers was kept to just 12 touches but still laid 11 tackles, while Miller (13 touches, seven tackles), Tiah Haynes (16 and six) and Roux (two goals, eight touches, five tackles) also showcased some great form.

Both sides head to Victoria for the final round, and while neither require a Round 9 win given they have secured finals positions, both the Dees and Dockers will look to capitalise on their form ahead of the post-season when they come up against fellow finals-bound sides in North Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

FREMANTLE 0.1 | 0.5 | 2.7 | 4.8 (32)
MELBOURNE 3.2 | 4.5 | 4.7 | 5.7 (37)

GOALS
Fremantle: R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan, G. Houghton
Melbourne: K. Hore 2, D. Pearce, E. McNamara, M. Gay

BEST
Fremantle: R. Roux, H. Miller, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, T. Haynes
Melbourne: L. Pearce, K. Paxman, S. Scott, D. Pearce, M. Gay

Tigers bite back with feisty win against ailing Suns

AFL Women’s Round 7 started with a bang with a huge friday night matchup at Metricon Stadium between the Gold Coast Suns and Richmond, as one side was hoping to put a win on the board in 2021, and the other looking to build off its maiden victory just two weeks ago. Despite a couple of exciting moments from the home side it was the Tigers that won their second match to make their historic 2021 even better, with a 6.5 (41) to 4.2 (26) victory.

It seemed to be the Suns that had much of the early control, and whilst the Tigers had plenty of the footy, their early chances were wasted as the tight pressure through midfield kept the footy moving. Lauren Ahrens had the tough task of taking on Katie Brennan, with Suns’ Maddison Levi and Lucy Single putting in the hard yards early as Mon Conti, Sarah Hosking and Harriet Cordner did the job for the Tigers. But it was Levi who ran in for an open goal to kick off the scoring ledger, as the constant Suns buffer across half forward became too much for the Tigers to cope with. Sloppy delivery from both sides saw neither team really control proceedings, and while a Brennan conversion saw the score go back to even, it would be the side that found separation in midfield that would really control the match with tight bodywork making it tough to clear the footy. 

A Hosking minor score opened the second quarter, marginally leading the term with the Suns’ tackling efforts not quite doing the job and instead drawing too much attention from the umpires. Plenty of hustle saw neither side able to take control through the centre, with the footy rebounding between the two 50m lines and little relief on the marking front. After a couple of strong efforts Courtney Wakefield got a chance on goal from directly in front and did not disappoint, taking the margin out to seven points as the Tigers were rewarded for their constant efforts inside 50 across the first half of the quarter. Jade Pregelj made her mark though with her tight pressure on Wakefield, limiting the forward from easy marking chances, but under siege inside 50 there was only so much the Suns defensive unit could do to limit scoring chances as Brennan put her second on the board. The foot race between Cody Jacques and Kalinda Howarth was fascinating with both players putting their hand up to control the footy through the centre, but it seemed the Tigers had all the momentum credit to continuous efforts from Conti, Brennan and Ellie McKenzie. A 2.1 second quarter saw the Tigers lead the charge at half time by 15 points. 

The Suns needed to command control in the second half, and that was exactly what they did within the first 30 seconds of the third quarter, as Levi booted her second for the match credit to an early clearance and inside 50. Despite the fast start the two sides entered a stalemate with neither side really able to change the scoreline, both tackling hard but once more unable to find separation through the centre of the ground. But a Kate Surman major tipped the ledger back the Suns’ way, with the 15-point lead whittled down to three points midway through the term, with their marking efficiency getting better as the match continued. The Suns home crowd began to make itself known as the contest heated up, with better passages of play giving the Suns fans plenty to be excited about. But a Christina Bernardi goal credit to a great setup from Tessa Lavey soon put the crowd to rest, extending the Tigers lead once more to nine points with a couple minutes left on the clock before the final break. The Tigers added another minor score to their tally before the quarter ended, with the hard-fought term setting up a huge fourth quarter. 

A tough first five minutes on the clock saw McKenzie pile on the pressure with another Tigers major to open up the scoreline, before Brennan followed it up with her third major of the game as the Tigers ran away with victory. One last Suns goal upped the spirits for the home side but it was short lived, as the Tigers ran away with a 15-point victory, 6.5 (41) to 4.2 (26).

For the winless Suns, Ahrens and Alison Drennan were workhorses with 21 touches apiece, whilst Howarth (18 disposals), Surman (16 and a goal) and Levi (two goals and nine tackles) also made their mark on the match. On the Tigers front, Conti (25 touches) alongside Kate Dempsey (22 disposals), Hosking (21) and McKenzie (20 and a goal) controlled proceedings. Lavey had plenty of impressive moments in just her fifth match, while Brennan’s three goals were crucial.

The Suns will look to go one better here next Friday night when they host Carlton, whilst the improving Tigers will have a chance to go back-to-back when they host West Coast Eagles next Sunday afternoon.

GOLD COAST SUNS | 1.0 | 1.0 | 3.1 | 4.2 (26)
RICHMOND TIGERS | 1.0 | 3.3 | 4.5 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS

Gold Coast: M. Levi 2, K. Surman, S. Virgo
Richmond: K. Brennan 3, C. Wakefield, C. Bernardi, E. Mckenzie

ADC BEST

Gold Coast: A. Drennan, L. Ahrens, M. Levi, L. Single, K. Surman
Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, E. McKenzie, S. Hosking, K. Dempsey

Roos dominant first half sees them home against Tigers

NORTH Melbourne has strung back-to-back wins to get its AFL Women’s season back on track thanks to a dominant 35-point victory over Richmond. The Tigers, who grabbed the first win in their club’s history last week, were on the back foot from the get-go as the Roos piled on the first six goals of the match, and never looked back from there during the 10.7 (67) to 5.2 (32) victory at the Swinburne Centre.

North Melbourne dominated the opening half, scoring 3.2 in the first term and then 3.3 in the second quarter to race out to a 6.5 to 0.2 lead, keeping the Tigers goalless at half-time. After a three-goal effort for Richmond’s VFL Women’s affiliate Port Melbourne last week, Christina Bernardi was the first goalscorer for the yellow and black, coming two minutes into the third term. There was a minor resurgence for the home team, as Richmond, through Tayla Stahl and Courtney Wakefield, brought the margin back to within 21 points at the final break.

Needing at least four goals to cause an almighty upset, it was Georgia Hammond who put the final nail in the coffin early in the last term, kicking a goal to put the result beyond doubt at 27 points. Bernardi went on to kick her second goal moments later, but when Daisy Bateman, Daria Bannister and Emma Kearney all converted majors, the lead was at a blowout 41 points. Katie Brennan got one back for the Tigers for a final deficit of 35 points.

Bateman finished with two goals from 14 disposals, three marks and two tackles, while Emma King snagged two first half goals up forward. In an even team performance, the Roos had eight individual goalkickers, including the red-hot Jasmine Garner (22 disposals, four marks, five tackles and one goal) and Kearney (17 disposals, three marks, two tackles and one goal). The Tigers had Bernardi as the sole multiple goalkicker, also picking up seven touches, two marks and three tackles upon her return.

The top seven ball-winners were all wearing the blue and white, led by Ash Riddell (25 disposals, four marks and five tackles), Garner, Ellie Gavalas (19 disposals), Kaitlyn Ashmore (19 disposals, seven marks) and Jenna Bruton (18 disposals, seven marks and four tackles). For Richmond, number one selection in last year’s draft, Ellie McKenzie had a team-high 16 disposals, as well as four tackles, while Harriet Cordner (13 disposals, seven marks and two tackles), Iilish Ross (12 disposals, two tackles) and Kate Dempsey (12 disposals, three marks) also won their fair share of the ball.

North Melbourne head down to the Apple Isle in Round 7 to face the Western Bulldogs in a 5.10pm fixture on Saturday, while Richmond will have a straight seven days to recover, flying north to Metricon Stadium to face Gold Coast Suns on Friday night.

RICHMOND 0.1 | 0.2 | 3.2 | 5.2 (32)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.2  | 6.5 | 6.5 | 10.7 (67)

GOALS
Richmond: 
Bernardi 2, Stahl, Wakefield, Brennan.
North Melbourne: King 2, Bateman 2, Garner, Eddey, Abbatangelo, Hammond, Bannister, Kearney.

DC BEST
Richmond: 
McKenzie, Cordner, Brennan, Bernardi, Hosking,
North Melbourne: Riddell, Garner, Ashmore, Gavalas, Bateman, King

Tigers roar to historic maiden victory at Kardinia Park

WITH both teams seeking their first win in 2021, Friday night’s clash between Geelong and Richmond at Kardinia Park was one of the most crucial games of the season, and it was Richmond who came out on top to claim its first ever competitive win in the AFLW. The historic game for the club was a heavily one-sided affair in which the Tigers never looked like losing, keeping Geelong scoreless in the first half, whilst adding six majors of their own. The complete team performance saw their first victory come by a 47-point margin, 9.6 (60) to 2.1 (13)

The opening goal came from Richmond’s Gabrielle Seymour, receiving a free kick and a 50-meter penalty from a ruck contest. Richmond made the most of the momentum from the goal, controlling the rest of the quarter with a well set up backline ready to sweep up anything exiting the forward 50. The only time Geelong looked close to breaking out, was when young forward Stephanie Williams got free and started streaming towards the forward 50, but Richmonds Akec Makur Chuot was relentless in her pursuit and laid a nice rundown tackle to stop the attack in its tracks. The Tigers went into the break leading by 13 thanks to Courtney Wakefield’s one goal and one behind.

The second quarter wasn’t any easier for Geelong, with an injury to reigning best and fairest Olivia Purcell forcing her off for the remainder of the game. Geelong struggled to create any drive through their midfield and despite the best efforts of their defence, it became open season for Richmond who did well to force turn overs inside forward 50 and create scoring opportunities. We saw Wakefield add to her tally, as well as Ellie McKenzie, Katie Brennan and Sabrina Fredrick getting involved with their firsts for the game.

The third term brought the Cats’ first goal through the effort of Richelle Cranston, who got a boot to ball mid-tackle. That was the spark Geelong needed, bringing a much higher pace and pressure style that made Richmond noticeably more rushed. The Tigers got used to it though, highlighted with number one draft pick, McKenzie selling some candy to multiple Geelong players, and then going for a four-bounce run along the wing, leading to a goal for Kodi Jacques. With that, it was one goal each for the quarter for both sides, with the Tigers leading by 40 going into the final break.

By the time the last quarter began, the Cats had been up against an onslaught of Richmond attacks all game, and the Tigers were playing with the confidence of a team that was very clearly excited about getting its first win. Tigers captain, Brennan got one early in the quarter to extend the lead and remove any remaining doubt. The remainder of the quarter was relatively quiet compared to the rest of the game, with Cat Amy McDonald getting her first AFLW goal and Brennan getting her third for the game with 10 seconds to spare. 

Monique Conti led the game for disposals with 26, with Brennan (17 disposals, five marks and three goals) and McKenzie (16, five and one) also very impressive in the victory, splitting time between forward and midfield. The Tigers also had strong contributions from Harriet Cordner (14 disposals, seven marks and three tackles) and Sarah D’Arcy (16, four and two) coming out of the backline. For Geelong,  Amy McDonald and Renee Garing led the disposal count with 17 apiece, with McDonald also managing to get herself a goal.

GEELONG 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 2.1 (13)
RICHMOND 2.1 | 6.3 | 7.4 | 9.6 (60)

GOALS:

Geelong: R. Cranston, A. McDonald
Richmond: K. Brennan 3, C. Wakefield 2, E. McKenzie, S. Frederick, G. Seymour, K. Jacques

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, M. McDonald, R. Garing, D. Higgins, D. Taylor
Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, E. McKenzie, C. Wakefield, S. Hosking

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Prespakis, Vescio inspire almighty Blues escape

CARLTON overcame a horror start on Saturday afternoon to ward off a roaring Richmond outfit at Princes Park, escaping five-point victors against its traditional rival. The Tigers got the jump with the first four goals of the game, before reigning league best and fairest Maddy Prespakis sparked the Blues to life with two second term goals to help claim an unlikely half time lead. From there, the Darcy Vescio show took full toll to help Carlton kick a winning score, eventually reading 8.3 (51) to Richmond’s 7.4 (46).

While still winless in the AFL Women’s competition, green shoots are beginning to appear for Richmond after arguably its best performance to date. The Tigers’ poor conversion and attacking penetration have been a lead story thus far, but that was far from the case on Saturday as they surged forward with ruthless pace and efficiency to catch Carlton unawares on multiple occasions.

The Tigers’ pressure and early midfield dominance were other key signs of their upside, before Carlton’s prime movers began to take the game over. Having started the season at 0-2, the Blues’ finals hopes are still kicking as they sit just outside the top six, but a much more consistent run of form will be required from here on out.

Much of the hype coming into this clash surrounded the potential matchup of twins Jess and Sarah Hosking, who would take little time to acquaint themselves as opponents at the first centre bounce. It marked somewhat of another new role for Carlton’s Jess, who has been utilised up either end of the ground, while Richmond’s Sarah was typically reliable in midfield.

The Hosking in navy blue finished with 19 disposals, while her sibling managed 15 touches to go with six marks and seven tackles despite missing a chunk of action through concussion protocols. The Prespakis tackle which put Hosking out of action was deemed dangerous at the time, and could see Carlton’s star midfielder face more scrutiny from the match review officer this season.

Richmond’s Monique Conti was busy as ever, leading all comers with 26 disposals and seven inside 50s. Skipper Katie Brennan looked lively in the front half, notching two goals among her 17 touches and five marks with strong work in the air and across the ground. Others to impress in yellow and black included Ellie McKenzie (14 disposals, four marks) and the forward duo of Courtney Wakefield (three goals) and Tayla Stahl (two), who helped materialise each of their side’s momentum grabs.

Prespakis dragged her side back into the contest with 19 disposals, five tackles and two goals, aided by the forward 50 presence of Vescio, who clunked six marks and booted 3.2. Grace Egan was excellent as the Blues’ highest ball winner (21 disposals), while skipper Kerryn Harrington formed a wall in defence alongside Charlotte Wilson with seven rebound 50s.

CARLTON 0.2 | 4.2 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)
RICHMOND 3.0 | 4.1 | 5.1 | 7.4 (46)

GOALS:

Carlton: D. Vescio 3, M. Prespakis 2, N. Stevens, L. McEvoy, T. Harris
Richmond: C. Wakefield 3, K. Brennan 2, T. Stahl 2

DC BEST:

Carlton: D. Vescio, M. Prespakis, G. Egan, K. Harrington, J. Hosking, L. McEvoy
Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, S. Hosking, C. Wakefield, R. Miller, E. McKenzie

credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

Dockers endure slow start to overrun Suns

FREMANTLE added another huge win to its premiership tilt as the Dockers overcame the Gold Coast Suns in convincing fashion in Perth, 7.13 (55) to 1.0 (6). Whilst the Suns got the early jump on the premiership contenders, leading for much of the first and boasting a close margin at half time as the Dockers failed to capitalise on opportunities, it was Fremantle that ran down its foes in an excellent six goal second half to maintain top spot on the ladder. 

In an opening term that was dominated by the underdogs, things began with plenty of excitement as an early goal from Leah Kaslar got the ball rolling with the Dockers seemingly unable to find purchase within a tight contest. But whilst Kaslar’s major was the only score of the quarter, it went on to be the Suns’ only major of the match as, from quarter time onwards, the footy was well within the home side’s grasps with plenty of intent and drive into attack. Whilst the Dockers were ultimately unable to provide the scoreboard danger to rival their offensive pressure, producing a 1.5 (11) to 1.0 (6) scoreline to marginally lead at the main change, a huge second half loomed with much of the momentum going the way of the Dockers with Ebony Antonio and Gabby O’Sullivan unsuccessful but proving dangerous inside 50.

The second half saw the match well and truly open up for Fremantle, as its pressing backline led by Janelle Cuthbertson gained further control and confidence to propel ball forward into its waiting forward line. Back-to-back majors from Antonio and O’Sullivan and a maiden goal from Sarah Verrier created a tough buffer for the Suns to crack as the scoreline extended to 25 points by the time the final change arrived. Despite being tagged for much of the contest, Kiara Bowers shone as the match opened up further, proving unstoppable as Suns’ Jamie Stanton worked up a storm for the opposition but to no avail. 

A huge final term saw the Dockers’ class complete their second half rundown of the opposition, piling on another three goals and six minors as O’Sullivan got her second on the board, whilst Hayley Miller and Ash Sharp piled on the offensive pressure. Another inaccurate term could have seen a huge margin from the premiership contenders – who have now won 11 straight – but the side will surely be content with the 49-point victory as they continue to lead the way atop the tables.

Despite being down in contested ball and clearances in the first quarter, once the Dockers stepped up their game there was no stopping them as the work-rate lifted with a whopping 73 tackles to 46, as Bowers stole the show with 15 tackles to go with her 17 touches (15 kicks). Bowers was only beaten on the possessions count by Stanton, who led her side with 18 and five tackles, while Lucy Single showed some glimpses of what she is capable of with a great tag on Bowers, completing the match with seven tackles as Lauren Bella dominated the ruck contest. O’Sullivan was the lone multiple goalkicker with two from her 16 touches, whilst Miller also showcased her ball-magnet ways with 17 disposals and six tackles to her name. 

FREMANTLE | 0.0 | 1.5 | 4.7 | 7.13 (55)
GOLD COAST | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan 2, R. Roux, H. Miller, A. Sharp, E. Antonio, S.Verrier
Gold Coast: L. Kaslar

DC BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, J. Cuthbertson, G. O’Sullivan, H. Miller, R. Roux, J.Stewart
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, L. Bella, L. Single, K. Surman, K. Howarth

Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Hot Pies down shaky Roos in ladder-leading encounter

It was a showstopper waiting to happen, with a fired up North Melbourne side looking to right the wrongs of their Round 3 loss to Melbourne and put another win on the board, coming in hot favourites against an improved Collingwood outfit. But it seemed that once again, the Kangaroos could not compete with a hardened side bursting through the midfield. The side was unable to contain the hot Pies who sit undefeated on four from four, with a low-scoring contest seeing the Roos rendered goalless for the first time, going down 4-4 (28) to 0.8 (8).

An impressive opening term well and truly set the tone for the match, as the Magpies piled on the pressure around the ground to negate any easy forward 50 forays from the Roos. With so many excellent targets within the Kangaroos’ grasps, an Aishling Sheridan goal was exactly what the Magpies needed to spur the side into action as the contest across the field continued to grow, pressurising the midfield as Chloe Molloy looked the goods with an early major to her name. Whilst the Roos forced a tighter contest in the second quarter, it seemingly was already too little, too late as the Magpies had all the momentum and ran with it. Three minors the way of the Roos did little to worry the Pies as Jordan Membrey kicked truly at the other end, with Bri DaveyJaimee Lambert and Molloy running rampant and well and truly outclassing the Kangaroos.

Inaccuracy and a lack of opportunity were the themes of the second half as neither side was really able to exit the tight contest, with North keeping Collingwood to just 1.2 in the second half after a stellar start but also failing to find the big sticks with five more behinds on the board well and truly putting the nail in their own coffin. Despite huge efforts from Jasmine GarnerKait Ashmore and Jenna Bruton, it was not enough as Molloy sealed the deal with a final goal in the last to propel the Magpies up the ladder with the 20-point victory.

For the Magpies, Davey and Lambert led all-comers, with 31 and 27 disposals respectively, whilst Davey racked up six marks and Lambert piled on the pressure with six tackles. Britt Bonnici and Steph Chiocci rang true with 21 and 20 touches, while Molloy’s goal sense saw her finish with two from her 12 touches, four marks and three tackles. Stacey Livingstone was a moving barricade down back with eight marks and seven rebounds. For the flailing Roos, Garner’s 19 disposals led the pack while Bruton (18 and five tackles), Ashmore (17 and six, one behind) and Emma Kearney (15 and five, one behind) also plied their trade.

NORTH MELBOURNE | 0.0 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 0.8 (8)
COLLINGWOOD | 2.2 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:
North Melbourne: 
Nil
Collingwood: C. Molloy 2, A. Sheridan, J. Membrey

DC BEST:
North Melbourne:
J. Garner, K. Ashmore, A. Riddell, J. Bruton
Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, S. Livingstone, C. Molloy

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Roos romp to record-breaking opening round victory

NORTH Melbourne sent an early statement to the rest of the competition on Sunday, romping to a mammoth 62-point win over Geelong at Kardinia Park. The Roos took little time to establish their dominance as tall forward Emma King booted three majors in the opening term, setting a strong platform for the 11.5 (71) to 1.3 (9) victory. The result made for North’s largest-ever winning margin, and sets a new record for the highest Round 1 percentage in AFL/AFLW history.

The hardened Kangaroos outfit proved too big and strong both around the ball and up forward for a youthful Geelong side, seeing them accelerate in each term and form a formidable lead. Having been held scoreless for the first three terms, the Cats got on the board early in the final quarter before veteran ruck Aasta O’Connor booted her side’s lone major of the game in the dying minutes.

Along with King, second year forward/midfielder Ellie Gavalas chimed in with three majors of her own, while league best and fairest chance Jasmine Garner snared two to go with 18 disposals. Isabella Eddey had a debut to remember as she also found the big sticks, manufactured by some fearsome work from Daria Bannister as the play unfolded. Emma Kearney (22 disposals), Ash Riddell (20), and Jenna Bruton (19) were typically productive around the ball and far too polished on the attack for Geelong’s lineup to maintain.

Superfluous to say, most of Geelong’s biggest contributors were stationed in defence, with youngster Amy McDonald starting her season on the right foot with an 18-disposal effort. The 23-year-old was a cool head in Geelong’s defensive crisis, but could only do so much on the counter as the ball consistently found its way back. Skipper Meghan McDonald had a tough job on her hands among the undersized and under-siege backline but fared well, while star midfielder Olivia Purcell picked up from where she left off with 17 touches and seven tackles.

The Cats face another tough ask in travelling to face Brisbane next Sunday afternoon, as North Melbourne returns to home base to take on fellow Round 1 winner, St Kilda earlier on the same day. While one side looks every bit the premiership contender, the other will be licking its wounds after a harsh opening to season 2021.

FINAL SCORE:

GEELONG 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.3 (9)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 | 5.2 | 8.4 | 11.5 (71)

GOALS:

Geelong: A. O’Connor
North Melbourne: E. King 3, E. Gavalas 3, J. Garner 2, I. Eddey, S. Abbatangelo, K. Ashmore

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, O. Purcell, M. McDonald
North Melbourne: E. King, J. Garner, E. Kearney, E. Gavalas, J. Bruton, A. Riddell

Image Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

ROARING SECOND HALF SEES LIONS TOPPLE THE TIGERS

Brisbane opened its account for season 2021 at the first time of asking, shaking off Richmond after half time to secure a 29-point win on the road. In the first ever AFL Women’s fixture held at Punt Road Oval, the Tigers’ homecoming was spoiled by Brisbane’s three-goal to nil second half which set up the 5.11 (41) to 1.6 (12) final scoreline.

As expected on the back of its concession-aided recruitment drive, Richmond made noticeable improvements after a winless maiden campaign and was only a goal adrift at the main break. It came after Brisbane utilised the scoring end well in the opening term, gaining good early momentum through its control of the engine room and typically sturdy defensive structure in the face of Richmond’s quick ball movement.

While it was hardly a case of the floodgates being forced open, Brisbane prettied up the scoreboard nicely with a closing effort beyond the years of its young squad, all while keeping the Tigers goalless after half time. Courtney Wakefield‘s second term major from the goalsquare proved her side’s lone goal for the game, as skipper Katie Brennan could only manage a hat-trick of behinds.

Gun Richmond midfielder Monique Conti was contained well by Cathy Svarc, who collected nine of her 10 touches in the opening half, while Gabrielle Seymour led the Tigers’ count with 16 disposals. Under-the-radar recruit Harriet Cordner was also terrific down back in the losing effort, while number one draft pick Ellie McKenzie showed promise on the outer in her AFLW debut.

For the Lions, 19-year-old Isabel Dawes looks a big improver having notched a career-high 21 disposals, leading all comers for the day. Nat Grider is another in that boat as she gathered 16 touches from defence, while Emily Bates and Sophie Conway were not far behind from midfield. Greta Bodey was the game’s only multiple goalkicker with two, as speedy debutant Courtney Hodder managed 1.2.

The Lions will be looking to form an early winning streak as they carry their momentum back home ahead of hosting Geelong at Hickey Park, while Richmond is set to take on Melbourne at Casey Fields in what looks like a tough assignment – if Round 1 results are anything to go by, at least.

FINAL SCORE:

RICHMOND 0.2 | 1.4 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)
BRISBANE 2.3 | 2.4 | 4.8 | 5.11 (41)

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield
Brisbane: G. Bodey 2, C. Hodder, T. Hickie, D. Davidson

DC BEST:

Richmond: H. Cordner, G. Seymour, E. McKenzie
Brisbane: I. Dawes, N. Grider, E. Bates, S. Conway, C. Svarc

Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images via AFL Photos

DOCKERS DEMOLISH GIANTS IN SPARKLING SECOND HALF

Fremantle’s undefeated streak and dominant home record extended into 2021, as the Dockers accounted for a spirited GWS side by 30 points at Fremantle Oval on Sunday. It was a game of great emotion, most significantly for those in charcoal and orange as they commemorated inaugural Giant, Jacinda Barclay, who passed away in October last year.

The travelling team was largely competitive in the early stages, trailing by just five points at each of the first two breaks. But Fremantle’s smothering tackling pressure, dynamism and searing run forward of centre proved too much to handle after half time, with the 8.10 (58) to 4.4 (28) result coming thanks to the Dockers’ five-goal to three second half.

The forward wombo combo of tall Gemma Houghton and small Sabreena Duffy again worked wonders for Freo, with the pair both snaring three goals in scintillating displays. Houghton came to life after the main break to find all of her three goals as the game opened up, with her dual threat of pace and aerial presence a true handful. Duffy was also menacing inside 50, displaying her rare goal sense.

Ever-consistent midfielder Kiara Bowers will again be a key feature through midfield as she amassed a team-high 21 touches, partnered well by Jasmin Stewart on the inside while skipper Kara Antonio bossed the outer. Alyce Parker returned a stellar display for the Giants with 28 touches, a game-high tally matched by teammate Rebecca Beeson.

GWS is booked to face West Coast at Norwood Oval next having escaped Western Australia in time before the state’s proposed lockdown period, while Fremantle has fellow opening round victor, Adelaide next on the agenda at the same venue.

FINAL SCORE:

FREMANTLE 1.2 | 2.3 | 5.8 | 8.10 (58)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.3 | 1.4 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 3, S. Duffy 3, K. Antonio, M. Hyde
GWS: A. Schmidt, R. Beeson, T. Davies, E. Bennetts

DC BEST:

Fremantle: G. Houghton, K. Bowers, S. Duffy, J. Stewart, K. Antonio
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, A. Eva

2021 AFLW Preview: Richmond Tigers

RICHMOND entered a baptism of fire in its maiden AFL Women’s campaign, but will be hoping for marked improvements in each department after a busy offseason. The Tigers were granted concessions and used them to trade in established players, while also laying claim to pick one in a highly talented draft. After a winless start, the only way is up for last year’s expansion side.

2020 RECAP

The Tigers will remain on the hunt for their first set of premiership points in 2021 after failing to register any last time around. Year one did not exactly go to plan for Richmond, at all, starting with a 34-point drubbing at the hands of Carlton to open the season. While they got within two goals of fellow expansion team, Gold Coast a week later, the newcomers were trounced by over six goals in three of their final four outings. A high-scoring encounter with Geelong in Round 4 yielded 45 points but the Tigers were otherwise impotent in attack, restricted to two goals or less on every other occasion – including a goalless return against St Kilda in the final home-and-away round.

NEW FACES

Importantly, Richmond was able to bring in some experience with means beyond the concessions afforded by the AFL at season’s end. Pick 15 was used to snare inaugural Blue Sarah Hosking, who slots straight into the leadership group. She promises to bring some competitiveness and a hard edge to the Tigers’ midfield, which is heavily dependant on one or two players.

Sarah D’Arcy and Sarah Dargan crossed from Collingwood, along with former-Dee Harriet Cordner in a three-way trade which again bolstered Richmond’s stocks. D’Arcy is likely to be somewhat reinvented as a defender in the yellow and black, while Cordner will rotate through the defence and ruck, and Dargan provides some spark moving forward with the potential to play midfield.

First pick, Ellie McKenzie headlined the Tigers’ draft haul and is another who should move straight into the starting side. A tall midfielder/forward with terrific speed, overhead marking and x-factor, McKenzie is a future star of the competition and was long touted as the best player in her draft class. Renowned basketballer Tessa Lavey was selected with pick 43 and Luka Lesosky-Hay got her chance after being overlooked in last year’s intake. Hannah McLaren, the daughter of former AFL umpire Scott, also gets her chance as a replacement for Holly Whitford.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

McKenzie would be a relatively easy choice in this category, as is our selection in Hosking. The former Blue is yet to miss an AFLW game and will be exactly the kind of player Tigers fans warm to immediately. She is a tenacious midfielder who runs hard and loves to get her hands dirty, setting a standard which Richmond largely lacked last year.

Should she be thrust into the centre bounce mix, Hosking will inevitably take a load off Monique Conti in the ball winning stakes and can also work to shut down the opposition’s best midfielder. Should she play on the outer or up forward, her defensive pressure will help lock the ball in Richmond’s attacking half, another area which lacked in 2020. The Tigers’ most high profile signing in the offseason will be looking to repay the faith in full, especially as part of her new side’s leadership group.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

After a lacklustre maiden campaign, it would be easy for other teams to overlook Richmond heading into 2021. The Tigers have added well to their squad and should be far more competitive as a result, potentially allowing them to fly under the radar and sneak up on some highly fancied teams who become complacent. The experience and class of Conti, Hosking, and a fully fit Katie Brennan in midfield will count for a lot of that competitiveness, while some much-needed spark up forward comes through McKenzie and the defence will be bolstered by Cordner. A handy spine is forming for Richmond and is something which could see the second-year side get some wins on the board.

QUESTION MARK

The Tigers were severely ineffective in the forward half last season and while a stronger group further afield will help their cause, the attacking movers have plenty to do to help Richmond kick winning scores. Bar a flash in the pan seven-goal game against Geelong, the Tigers failed to boot over two goals in 2020 and were too reliant on too few. That in itself is another factor which the Tigers will have to address, but more experienced heads will help ease pressure on their top-class talent.

FINAL WORD

Snaring a win will be the primary goal for Richmond in 2021 and from there, the sky should be the limit. It is likely the Tigers will be more competitive throughout games and the season as a whole this time around, with some solid talent added to the squad and greater depth beginning to emerge. Like any good Richmond side, fans will undoubtedly like to see some fight from this emerging team which is now better placed to produce exactly that.

Image Credit: Richmond FC

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #9 Maddy Brancatisano

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number nine with Richmond’s Maddy Brancatisano.

The former Northern Knights captain found her groove in 2020 after an unlucky 2019 season with Melbourne. Having been picked up with pick 15 in the 2018 AFL Women’s National Draft, Brancatisano was unable to crack into an experienced Demons’ midfield unit, and instead opted to join Richmond in the expansion period. There, she immediately had an impact, making her AFL Women’s debut in Round 1 and played six games for the season.

Possessing some terrific speed and a desire to win the ball in congestion, Brancatisano had a solid start to her elite level career, averaging 5.3 disposals, 1.2 marks and 1.2 tackles in her six games. She will look to build on that in 2021, and crack into an ever-strengthening Tigers midfield. Alongside the likes of Monique Conti and Sarah Hosking, Brancatisano will be reunited with former Knights’ teammate and 2020 AFL Women’s Draft number one selection, Ellie McKenzie for the 2021 season.

Having gone winless in 2020, Richmond is still searching for its debut win, and Brancatisano is expected to be a big part of the side going forward, which has bulked up on youth in year one, and now added a fair bulk of experience in year two. Unlike in 2020, the Tigers have the midfield depth to get it to tall forwards Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick, and all of a sudden, Richmond’s forward half looks all the more damaging.

Whilst the extra depth through the midfield might make it more challenging for Brancatisano, the natural leader has the right attitude and inside ability to make it work. In a side still building its identity, Brancatisano knows how to set the tone by example, and now that the Tigers have enough talent to worry some teams, expect the ex-Knights captain to be one of a number of players to step up in 2021 and show exactly why she is on this list.

Picture credit: Richmond FC