Tag: Kelly Barltrop

2020 SANFL Women’s team summary: North Adelaide

WITH no football on given the current COVID-19 global pandemic, the Draft Central team takes a look at where the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s left off, and will examine each of the eight teams from reverse ladder order. Today’s team summary is North Adelaide.

RECORD: 1st (4-0)

RESULTS:

R1: defeated Glenelg by 24 points
R2: defeated Central District by 54 points
R3: defeated West Adelaide by 21 points
R4: defeated South Adelaide by 4 points

North Adelaide was clearly the standout team after four rounds having passed every challenge thrown at the Roosters in the four rounds. They comfortably had three wins to start the season, including against the dangerous West Adelaide, and then survived their biggest challenge in the grand final rematch. While the remainder of the season might be unknown, they more than proved themselves as a genuine title contender.

THE FORMER AFLW STAR:

Ashleigh Woodland (16.0 disposals, 3.8 marks, 4.0 tackles, 2.0. clearances, 1.8 inside 50s, 7 goals)

If we just focused on the potential ceiling of every player not currently tied to an AFL Women’s team in the competition this year, then Woodland’s could well be the highest of the lot. Her two games against Central District and West Adelaide were absolute A Grade quality, booting seven goals from 20.1 disposals, 6.0 marks (one contested), 2.5 tackles, 2.0 clearances and 2.5 inside 50s, averaging more than 100 Dream Team points from those clashes. While her other two games was less effective, she still applied good defensive pressure and showed what she is capable of playing between midfield and forward. She could have led the goal kicking off just about two games had she been accurate with four behinds to go with those seven goals too.

THE PREMIER KEY DEFENDER:

Kristi Harvey (12.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, 2.0 tackles, 5.0 rebounds)

In SuperCoach they have a term ‘set and forget’ and Harvey is one of those players that is the equivalent of that. By that we mean you just know she will play her role each and every week and it is one less to worry about on match day because she is rarely ever beaten. Her marking ability and composure under pressure is superb, and she was the equal top rebounder in the competition despite still having to play a negating role to nullify an opposition forward. She kept getting better throughout the season, and her final game against the Panthers saw her rack up 15 touches, eight marks (two contested), six tackles and eight rebounds in a standout performance under pressure.

THE EXCITING FORWARD:

Cristie Castle (17.0 disposals, 4.8 marks, 1.8 tackles, 1.8 clearances, 2.0 inside 50s, 3 goals)

There are no shortages of best and fairest contenders in this team, but Castle would likely be battling Harvey for pure consistency. She had double-figure disposals each week and made an impact through the midfield and up forward. She was one of the competition’s premier markers – in fact she led the stat – with 4.8 per game, including four contested marks that came in her first two matches. She added three more goals to her 17 career majors over the past two seasons, but also got further up the ground to have an impact.

THE CONSISTENT PERFORMER:

Lauren Daniel (17.8 disposals, 3.8 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.3 clearances, 1.8 inside 50s, 1.8 rebounds, 1 goal)

One of the veterans of the team at 32-years-old, Daniel keeps plugging away in the midfield with great results. She averaged the 17.8 disposals, 3.8 marks, 3.5 tackles and 3.3 clearances having a real impact onball, and in her last three games did not dip below 17 disposals. Her best performance came against Central District where she had the ball on a string on her way to 23 disposals, four marks, seven tackles, six clearances, five inside 50s and a goal. At her best she leads the side by her actions and makes her teammates better around her.

THE RISING STAR:

Hannah Ewings (10.8 disposals, 2.8 marks, 4.0 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s, 3 goals)

A fresh face to the side this year, the 15-year-old certainly wasted no time in making herself known to the competition with a Breakthrough Player nomination in Round 1 during the win against Glenelg. Ewings managed to find a way to go to another level the next week with her best game of the season in the victory over Central District, raking up 17 touches, five marks – one contested – three tackles, a goal and a match-high nine inside 50s. While a little bit quieter in the final couple of rounds, it is clear Ewings is one to watch for the future as an exciting talent who has great development potential.

THE experienced one:

Leah Tynan (13.8 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.3 tackles, 2.8 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s, 1.3 rebounds)

Another consistent performer who you can just rely upon to get the job done. She averaged the 13.8 disposals at 82 per cent efficiency, as well as a couple of marks, clearances, inside 50s and tackles across the board showing how impactful she can be in the front half. She only kicked he one goal, but she can play a multitude of roles, and provide extra experience to the younger players coming through. Still only 28-years-old herself, Tynan has managed 34 games in her time during the competition as one of the most durable players running around. Expect her to add many more to that total in the coming years.

SUMMARY:

Squeezing just six players into this piece is incredibly hard because there is a list of those who could have fit in. North Adelaide has a premiership-contending list, especially when the likes of Katelyn Pope, Kelly Barltrop and Amber Ward are among the next talents in line that are just as promising as those above. There is a reason the Roosters finished the short season undefeated and with plenty of developing talent coming through, it will be an exciting few years for the red and whites.

SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 4 – Panthers and Roosters combine for eight reps

EVERY South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s side has at least two nominees in the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Week 24-player squad for Round 4, with the top of the table clash between North Adelaide and South Adelaide providing a combined eight. Norwood also had four players after drawing with West Adelaide, the Bloods and other winners, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles had three apiece. Sturt, Glenelg and Central District all had two representatives in this week’s Team of the Week.

The triumphant North Adelaide’s quartet of players begins at full-back where the reliable Kristi Harvey cements her spot for the fourth consecutive round after 15 disposals, eight marks (two contested), six tackles and eight rebounds against the Panthers – and is also named captain of the side. Up the opposite end, match-winner Kelly Barltrop has been named at full-forward following two goals, while Katelyn Pope – the player who delivered the ball to Barltrop for the match-winner – had an impressive all-round game with 17 touches, one mark, four tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds. Lauren Gauci also made the team for the Roosters off half-back following 19 disposals, four tackles, one clearance and three rebounds. The game provided plenty of impressive individual performances, with South Adelaide’s Jaslynne Smith recording 11 disposals, five marks and eight rebounds in the back pocket one of four representatives from the Panthers. Through the midfield, Czenya Cavouras (21 disposals, 12 tackles, seven clearances and five inside 50s) and Courtney Barry (23 disposals, two marks, five tackles, eight clearances and three inside 50) are in the starting group, while Nicole Campbell (23 disposals, two marks, nine tackles, three clearances, five inside 50s and a goal) made it into the team of the bench.

Norwood and West Adelaide shared in seven players between them during their draw on the weekend. From the defence are Norwood duo, Michele Reid and Mattea Breed who slot into the back six. Reid had 13 disposals, one mark, two tackles and five rebounds, while Breed was able to impact all across the ground picking up 17 disposals, four marks (three contested), four tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds. Named on a wing is Matilda Zander who amassed 22 disposals, three marks (one contested), seven tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and one rebound, while Jade Halfpenny makes her way onto the bench following 13 disposals, six marks (four contested), four tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and one rebound. West Adelaide’s Madison Newman returned to the side after AFL Women’s duties and had a strong performance, picking up 18 disposals, four marks (one contested), two tackles, one clearance, four inside 50s and four rebounds in the draw. Also in the team are Kasia Culhane who returned to the Westies side as well as our Team of the Week following 15 disposals, five marks (two contested), five tackles and five inside 50s, while Rachelle Martin makes the team again following 21 disposals, three marks, nine tackles and five clearances.

The other team with three representatives is Woodville-West Torrens as three-goal forwards, Kiana Lee and Nicole Collie slot into the respective pockets. Lee also had 11 disposals, four marks (one contested), two tackles and two inside 50s, while Collie made the most of her five disposals, three marks (one contested) and four tackles. Rhiannon Metcalfe also had a standout performance through the ruck for the Eagles, picking up 16 disposals, four tackles, 26 hitouts, four clearances and four inside 50s to make the bench in the side. On the opposition side, Glenelg, Tessa Kohn earned herself another spot in the side following 18 disposals, two marks, five tackles, seven clearances and three inside 50s, while Lucy Armitage made it onto the interchange after 13 disposals, one mark, 10 tackles and seven clearances. The first game of the round between Central District and Sturt saw both teams fill out eight representatives, as Zoe Prowse earned the honour of starting ruck – and the vice-captain honour – after a phenomenal 23 disposals, four marks, three tackles, 20 hitouts, 10 clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds in the win over the Bulldogs. Joining her in the side is teammate, Georgia Bevan (14 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances, two rebounds and a goal), as Central’s two representatives were key forward, Katelyn Rosenzweig (13 disposals, four marks – three contested – four tackles, two inside 50s and two goals) and midfielder Shelby Smith (15 disposals, one mark, 10 tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s).

There were a number of unlucky players to miss out on the 24-player side this week with South Adelaide’s Indy Tahau, North Adelaide’s Lauren Daniel and Woodville-West Torrens’ Chloe Forby named the three emergencies. Tahau was particularly unlucky in a round where so many rucks made their presence felt. Norwood’s Leah Cutting and Glenelg’s Soriah Moon were another couple of players to miss out despite big games in the ruck, while Central duo, Lauren Breguet and Lauren Smith, and Sturt’s Jo-Anna Baltais were also players who came into consideration for spots in the side.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 4

B: Jaslynne Smith (SA) – Kristi Harvey (NA) (c) – Michele Reid (NW)
HB: Madison Newman (WA) – Mattea Breed (NW) – Lauren Gauci (NA)
C: Czenya Cavouras (SA) – Tessa Kohn (GL) – Matilda Zander (NW)
HF: Katelyn Pope (NA) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Kasia Culhane (WA)
F: Kiana Lee (WWT) – Kelly Barltrop (NA) – Nicole Collie (WWT)
R: Zoe Prowse (ST) (vc) – Rachelle Martin (WA) – Courtney Barry (SA)
INT: Lucy Armitage (GL) – Georgia Bevan (ST) – Nicole Campbell (SA) – Jade Halfpenny (NW) – Rhiannon Metcalfe (WWT) – Shelby Smith (CD)
EMG: Indy Tahau (SA) – Lauren Daniel (NA) – Chloe Forby (WWT)

SANFL Women’s Round 4 review: Eagles take home maiden win as Roosters claim outright top

IT has been a long time coming, but it was finally celebration time for Woodville-West Torrens Eagles who celebrated their first win in the club’s history, 14 games into its inauguration. So many times the Eagles have come close, but they got the job done with an impressive second half to down Glenelg by 25 points. In other results, North Adelaide went outright top with a four-point win over South Adelaide, Sturt made it back-to-back wins with victory over Central District, and West Adelaide and Norwood played out the season’s first draw.

WWT EAGLES 1.1 | 2.2 | 4.2 | 7.3 (45)
GLENELG 2.0 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)

GOALS:

WWT: N. Collie 3, K. Lee 3, S. Walker.
Glenelg: M. Althouse, L. Kenny, M. Speechley.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

WWT: R. Metcalfe 15
Glenelg: T. Kohn 18

After so many close games and near misses, there was finally cause for celebration at Woodville-West Torrens after the Eagles produced a second half to remember and run out 25-point winners over Glenelg on Friday night. The Eagles trailed by as much as 13 points five minutes into the second term, but then took total control of the match to boot the final 6.2 of the game and enjoy a comfortable maiden victory in the SANFL Women’s.

The Tigers were missing a number of starters from the game due to Adelaide Crows’ selection and injury or unavailability, but still looked good early in the match, booting two first quarter goals – Molly Althouse and Lauren Kenny – to counter the Kiana Lee major early in the term. When Melinda Speechley converted the Tigers’ third just 39 seconds into the second term and a behind to Althouse shortly followed, the visitors were up by 13 points. Little did they know that a wave of Eagles goals would follow. Rhiannon Metcalfe added a behind in the sixth minute – the first Eagles’ score since Lee’s major seven minutes into the first term – and then Lee had her second not long after to cut the half-time deficit to just six points. Two minutes into the second half and Stephanie Walker had levelled the scores and 10 minutes later, Lee’s third snag had the winless side a goal up at the break. Still only narrowly ahead, the fans were still nervous. Enter Nicole Collie who took the game by the scruff of the neck and booted three consecutive goals every five minutes in the last quarter to help her side to a 7.3 (45) to 3.2 (20) win.

Not known as a high possession side, the Eagles had 30 less touches and seven less marks, but their reputation as the number one tackling side continued with another remarkable effort of 92 tackles to 74. Woodville-West Torrens also dominated the hitouts 43-28, though the Tigers made more opportunities with clearances (30-24) and had an extra inside 50 (21-20). It was once again the Eagles’ defence that held up in the tough times, recording 16 rebounds to 14, but more importantly, finding a way to score from limited opportunities in what was really a battle between the arcs.

Metcalfe had a team-high 15 disposals, 26 hitouts, four clearances and four inside 50s in the win, a huge reason for her side’s ruck work dominance. Up forward, it was Lee (12 disposals, five marks – one contested, three tackles, two inside 50s and three goals) that did the damage early, while Collie made the most of just five disposals to take four marks – one contested – and boot three majors. Also among the best were Chloe Forby (11 disposals, seven tackles, five clearances and five inside 50s) and Walker (11 disposals, three tackles). For the Tigers, Tessa Kohn continued her brilliant form with 18 disposals, seven clearances, five tackles, three inside 50s, two marks and two rebounds in the loss, teaming well with Lucy Armitage (13 disposals, seven clearances, and 10 tackles) through midfield. Tasja Batzavalis made a welcome return with three inside 50s to go with 12 touches, four marks – two contested – and three tackles, while Tess Morcom tried hard in defence with a team-high three rebounds to go with nine touches and five tackles. Soriah Moon had great experience against Metcalfe, still managing 17 hitouts as well as five clearances to accompany seven disposals.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)
STURT 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.2 | 4.2 (26)

GOALS:

Central: K. Rosenzweig 2.
Sturt: G. Bevan, L, Firth, Z. Prowse, G. Swan.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

Central: S. Smith 15
Sturt: Z. Prowse 23

Sturt has won back-to-back matches to move into fourth spot on the SANFL Women’s ladder, downing Central District by 11 points. The result handed the Bulldogs their third consecutive loss, and with the Eagles’ win, fell back to last spot on the table. The Double Blues booted three first half goals to lead throughout the contest, and despite Central drying up the scoring in the second half, could not make up the difference as they fell short of a second victory this season, losing 4.2 (26) to 2.3 (15).

Sturt had the perfect start to the match with Louise Firth converting a major for the visitors just 44 seconds into the match, and then Georgia Swan made it two midway through the quarter to help her side to a 13-point lead at the break, keeping the opposition scoreless to quarter time. Georgia Madigan got the Bulldogs on the board in the opening 30 seconds of the second term, albeit with a behind, before Georgia Bevan converted a third major for the Double Blues in the seventh minute for Sturt to stretch the lead out to a straight three goals. Katelyn Rosenzweig continued her good work in front of goal to use her strength and goal sense to kick one as the term was winding down, and by the main break, Central District trailed by 11 points. The scoring dried up in the second half, but Zoe Prowse made it count in the dying moments of the third quarter with her first of the contest, as the teenager was best on ground in the win. Rosenzweig continued to press hard and booted her second major midway through the final term, but ultimately her efforts would not be enough as the home team fell short.

Central had a different approach to its last couple of weeks, winning the disposal count for the first time this season, whilst also laying 29 more tackles than their opponents. Sturt led the marks (31-20) and dominated the hitouts (32-11) helping its strong midfield to get on top in the clearances (29-23). Central managed to keep the ball out of its defensive 50 a fair bit by winning the inside 50s, 23-16, but the Double Blues’ defence was up to the task with 20 rebounds to 11 in the match.

Prowse was the standout player on the ground for the Double Blues with 23 disposals, four marks, 20 hitouts, 10 clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds making her presence felt. Bevan was also prominent in the midfield group, recording 14 disposals, two marks, three tackles, four clearances and two rebounds, while co-captain Maya Rigter had the nine touches, five tackles and four clearances. Elsie Dawes (eight disposals, four tackles, four clearances and two inside 50s), Jo-Anna Baltais (10 touches, eight tackles and two rebounds) and Isobel Kuiper (10 disposals, eight tackles and two rebounds) were also among the best for the winners.

For the Bulldogs, Shelby Smith amassed a team-high 15 disposals, as well as 10 tackles, three clearances and four inside 50s, while Lauren Breguet was strong through the middle with 12 disposals, seven tackles and four clearances. Up forward Rosenzweig was hard to contain, booting 2.1 from 10 disposals, four marks (three contested), four tackles and two inside 50s, while Alicia Butler (14 disposals, six tackles) and Laitiah Huynh (14 disposals, four tackles) also showed fierce defensive pressure in the loss.

WEST ADELAIDE 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)
NORWOOD 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

West: M. Elsegood 2, K. Culhane.
Norwood: M. Breed, A. Gould, S. Hiscock.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

West: R. Martin 20, M. Newman 18, R. Killian 17, K. Culhane 15
Norwood: M. Zander 22, M. Breed 17, L. Cutting 15

West Adelaide has maintained third sport on the SANFL Women’s table, while Norwood keeps its premiership hopes alive after the pair drew in an exciting Saturday evening contest. In a low-scoring affair, the Bloods looked to have the Redlegs covered at the final break, but a 2.3 to 0.0 final quarter resulted in the visitors drawing level by the final siren.

Neither team could register a goal in the opening term, with West Adelaide scoring a couple of behinds through Melanie Elsegood and Helen Maidment. Norwood then had its chances go begging on the other side of quarter time with back-to-back behinds, before the Bloods made the most of their chances midway through the term. Kasia Culhane had an impact coming back into the team with a good goal, followed by Elsegood making good on a chance five minutes later. Mattea Breed missed a chance early in the term but then saluted near half-time to bring the deficit back to seven points. Elsegood added more pressure to the Redlegs in the third term with an early goal with a couple of behinds either side of the major at opposite ends of the quarter going begging. The main positive for the Bloods was the fact Norwood had not scored since Breed’s late goal in the second term. That would change in the final term as Norwood charged home from a 15-point deficit, as Ashlee Gould and Shai Hiscock converted chances with the latter’s coming with just a few minutes on the clock to level the scores and moments after a flying snap from Breed that bent a little too much. Despite both team’s efforts in the final few minutes – West Adelaide doing the bulk of the attacking – neither could find a winning score and the match fittingly finished as a draw.

Statistically the sides were evenly matched across the board with the Bloods having just six more disposals and two more marks, though Norwood controlled the centre square with 10 more hitouts (22-12) and three more clearances (17-14), while West Adelaide had a lot more chances inside 50 (30-20). The Redlegs defence stepped up however, rebounding 27 times to the Bloods’ 16, while West Adelaide’s tackling pressure was a feature of its game with 65 tackles to 51.

Rachelle Martin was arguably best on ground with 20 disposals, three marks, nine tackles and five clearances, working as the dominant clearance midfielder on the Westies’ side. Madison Newman returned to the team and almost pinpointed a crucial pass inside 50 late, finishing with 18 disposals, four marks (one contested), four inside 50s and four rebounds, while Culhane’s inclusion yielded 15 touches, five marks – two contested – five tackles, five inside 50s and a goal. Abbie Ballard (14 touches, six tackles, two clearances), Kate Walsh (13 disposals, two marks, 12 hitouts, three clearances, two inside 50s and two tackles) and Keeley Kustermann (12 disposals, three rebounds) were solid too.

Matilda Zander was a natural ball-winner once again, amassing 22 touches, three marks – one contested – seven tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Breed was arguably the top player on the Redlegs’ team with 17 disposals, four marks – three contested – four tackles, five clearances, two inside 50s and three rebounds, as well as 1.2. Leah Cutting took control in the ruck and had 15 disposals, four marks, 21 hitouts, six tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s, while Michele Reid (13 disposals, five rebounds) and Rebekka McMahon (eight disposals, five rebounds) held up in defence. Jade Halfpenny was equally strong in the air with three contested marks from her five total, also picking up 13 disposals, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 3.3 (21)
NORTH ADELAIDE 0.0 | 3.0 | 3.0 | 4.1 (25)

GOALS:

South: J. Kirk 2, N. Campbell.
North: K. Barltrop 2, C. Castle, H. Ewings.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

South: C. Barry 23, N. Campbell 22, C. Cavouras 21, I. Tahau 16
North: L. Daniel 18, L. Gauci 18, K. Pope 17, K. Harvey 15

North Adelaide has remained as the sole undefeated side in the SANFL Women’s competition after a late goal to Kelly Barltrop sealed a four-point win over reigning premiers, South Adelaide. In a grand final rematch, last year’s leading goalkicker might have been the hero, but after a slow start and conceding the first three goals of the match, the Roosters kept the Panthers to just two behinds for the rest of the contest as they booted 4.1 themselves during the 4.1 (25) to 3.3 (21) victory.

Early on it was seemingly like it could be a one-sided contest as Nicole Campbell booted a goal midway through the term, and by quarter time, consistent goalkicker and last week’s dominant scorer, Jess Kirk had 2.1 to her name with goals in the ninth and 14th minutes of the quarter. Without a score on the board and trailing by 19 points at the break, North Adelaide fans wanted a response from their faithful – watching from home of course – and it was Cristie Castle who gave it to them with an early goal to break the deadlock. Barltrop soon chipped in with her first goal since Round 1, while Rising Star talent, Hannah Ewings joined the party for the Roosters to be back within a point by the main break having kicked three goals in six minutes. Neither team could elicit a major in the third term, with young gun, Teah Charlton missing a chance at the sixth minute mark of the third quarter, and the next score came a good 20 minutes later when Ashleigh Woodland also added a behind to her name. When Courtney Barry scored a behind for the Panthers at the 14-minute mark of the final term, they held a two-point lead meaning the Roosters would need a major to win. In a remarkable play for a side that had not scored a goal since midway through the second term, the team went end-to-end and while each of the players managed to hit targets, it was Katelyn Pope‘s daring move to take on an opponent, get the extra five metres and deliver the ball quickly enough into Barltrop to not have a third player come over and spoil. Last year’s leading goalkicker turned around and kicked towards goal seemingly between having a shot and passing to a one-on-one and whilst a hand flew up and Panthers defenders appealed for a touched ball, the goal was given the all-clear and the Roosters held on for a remarkable win.

Both these teams love to use the ball and they clocked over 200 disposals each, though the Roosters had 40 marks to 26, while the Panthers still applied plenty of tackling pressure (78-64). South Adelaide won the clearances (28-21) and dominated the inside 50s (31-16) despite losing the hitouts (29-25). Credit must be given to North Adelaide’s defence that held up well with 26 rebounds to 13, surviving the wave of Panther attacks.

The Roosters shared the ball around with Lauren Gauci clocking up the most touches with 19, as well as four tackles and three rebounds, as Lauren Daniel (18 disposals, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three rebounds) and Pope (17 disposals, four tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and four rebounds) both got back to help the back six. Kristi Harvey was unstoppable at full-back, a complete brick wall with 15 disposals, eight marks – two contested – six tackles and eight clearances, while Bek Rasheed stood tall in the ruck with 21 hitouts from 11 touches and five tackles. Woodland was not as dominant as past weeks, but still managed 14 disposals, eight tackles and three clearances, while Castle booted a goal from 13 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s.

South Adelaide had a number of prominent ball winners as Barry led the midfield with 23 disposals, two marks, five tackles, eight clearances and three inside 50s, alongside Czenya Cavouras (21 disposals, 12 tackles, seven clearances and five inside 50s). Campbell was also a prominent ball winner in there with 23 disposals, two marks, nine tackles, three clearances and five inside 50s, as Indy Tahau laid double-figure tackles too with 10, to go with 17 hitouts, 16 disposals and two inside 50s. Jaslynne Smith was the standout defender for the Panthers, having a remarkable eight of her team’s 13 rebounds as well as 11 touches and five marks. Kirk again made the most of her chances with 2.1 from just four disposals, but she laid five tackles too.

SANFL Women’s Round 4 preview: Top of the table clash beckons

AFTER the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s players enjoyed a long weekend off, they return to action tonight and tomorrow night with a couple of double headers played at X Convenience Oval and Flinders University Stadium. The final game of the round is predicted to be the best of the lot with the top two sides, South Adelaide and North Adelaide doing battle, whilst West Adelaide looks to keep breathing space inside the top three when the Bloods take on fifth placed Norwood. In the games tonight, Woodville-West Torrens hopes to open its account against fourth placed Glenelg who found form last round, whilst one of Central District or Sturt will grab their second win of the season in the other game.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. GLENELG
Friday, March 13, 6.30pm
X Convenience Oval

Woodville-West Torrens is still waiting for its maiden SANFL Women’s competition win after pushing reigning premiers, South Adelaide all the way in Round 1, almost having it against Norwood in Round 2, and then getting narrowly beaten by Sturt in Round 3. For Glenelg, its season did not look great early, going down to North Adelaide in the opening round by 24 points, then getting smashed by West Adelaide to the tune of 40 points in the second week. Last week the Tigers turned it around with a smashing of their own to gain back some vital percentage points thanks to a 50-point win over Central District. The win catapulted last year’s fourth placed team into that position and put the Tigers’ season back on track. Now they take on a side that has been so good for long stints of games, but just failed to close it out when it counts.

The Eagles are renowned as the competition’s premier tackling team. Whilst it does mean that often they are second to the ball – ranked seventh for disposals and fifth for disposal differential, they are miles ahead of any other team when it comes to defensive pressure. The Eagles have laid a whopping 237 tackles in just three games – 51 more than their nearest rival. They have a plus 69 in the statistic, and that is an area that Glenelg will have to be wary of, though the Tigers also rank strongly with a plus 26 (second) and 182 total for third overall.

Glenelg’s strength comes in its ruck craft with a competition high 90 and plus 44 in hitouts and hitouts differential respectively. The Eagles have a struggled a tad in that area, ranked sixth for differential, whilst both teams have similar clearance numbers. Often the Eagles defence has to stand up under immense pressure with a minus 30 in inside 50s, ranked seventh in the comp, though Glenelg is only marginally better ranked fifth with a plus seven. Despite losing two games, Glenelg’s rebounding numbers are the equal worst in the comp at 46, with a seventh rank of differential at minute 10. The Eagles are the top side in both areas, with 84 and plus 26 respectively.

Both sides have been forced to make a number of changes to the Round 3 line-ups, with Caitlin Gould the huge out from the Tigers as she was recalled for Adelaide AFL Women’s duty. Along with Chelsea Packer and Sam Franson who are both injured, the Tigers are understrength for the clash, and are missing a number of quality players from the 22. To try and fill the quality lost in the side are Molly Althouse, Molly Affolter and Tasja Batzavalis, with Althouse not playing since Round 1, and the other two recalled after missing Round 2. A player who has been in some ripping form this year is Tessa Kohn, who will look to control the midfield, averaging 12 disposals, 4.7 tackles, 4.3 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s so far this season on the inside. Alongside her is the tackling machine in Lucy Armitage who has laid a whopping 7.3 tackles to go with her 9.3 disposals (86 per cent efficiency). The Tigers coaching staff have also shuffled the magnets with midfielder-defender, Madisyn Freeman named in the forward pocket to try and potentially fill the void left by Franson.

The home team has also been forced to make a number of changes with Georgia Taylor missing through a knee injury and Mikayla Cavallaro suffering concussion, whilst three other changes have been made. Jaida Tabb – sister of Eagles and Adelaide AFL Women’s Jaimi is set to make her debut after just missing out last week, whilst Charlotte Dolan achieves the same milestone in the game. A crucial recall is Adelaide’s Rhiannon Metcalfe who will proved an important presence in the ruck against a Tigers outfit renowned for its stoppage work. Jaimi Tabb (12.3 disposals, 6.7 tackles, 6.7 tackles and 1.0 goals) has been thrown into the midfield after three goals playing out of full-forward last week, joined in there by fellow teenager, Teagan Usher (7.0 disposals, 4.3 tackles, 2.3 clearances). With Tesharna Maher (11.3 disposals, 4.7 rebounds) in defence and Kiana Lee (9.7 disposals, 3.7 marks and 1.3 goals) up in attack, the Eagles’ youth is what drives the team each week and sooner or later the scales will tip and they will close out a game.

Based on what we will witness, it will be a fierce tackling game with two sides who are not renowned for getting a heap of ball inside 50, but Glenelg will need to make the most of its opportunities if it is to capitalise on its ruck dominance. The Eagles’ defence and defensive pressure are rated the best in the league for a reason, and you cannot fault them in that regard. Woodville-West Torrens players just need to hold their nerves during crucial moments, because they could well have been 2-1 or even 3-0 to start the season, though you feel a win is not too far away.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. STURT
Friday, March 13, 8.15pm
X Convenience Oval

The second game of tonight’s double header pits home side, Central District up against Sturt in a battle of seventh against sixth respectively. The Bulldogs started the season with a groundbreaking four-point win over last year’s minor premiers Norwood for the first time. Since then though, they lost to North Adelaide by 54 points, and Glenelg by 50 in what has been a rough couple of weeks in Rounds 2 and 3. They have had a week off to reassess and this game could be a real chance for the Bulldogs to get back on the winners board with Sturt having a similar season, but in reverse. The Double Blues finally grinded out a win by eight points over a plucky Woodville-West Torrens outfit last week, which came after back-to-back losses of 21 (West Adelaide) and 34 points (South Adelaide), but more concerning was the fact the Double Blues had only kicked 3.6 in those games combined. They turned that around last week with 5.6 in the game, and will be hoping to take advantage in this contest. Central District has only scored 2.5 combined in the past two weeks themselves, so the Bulldogs might look to a similar inspiration to bounce back with some more scoring.

Central District’s defence is ranked second in the competition, with 75 total rebounds, and a differential of plus 23, just three behind the leaders in that stat, Woodville-West Torrens. Whilst it might seem obvious the bottom two sides have the highest differential (with sixth placed Sturt third but a bit behind with plus three), they have managed to rebound 76 per cent of the opposition’s inside 50s. The Bulldogs are not a high possession side though, ranked eighth in total disposals and differential, kicking and handballing differentials, clearances, and hitouts and inside 50s total and differential. But it is hard to read into that too early in the season, though they won in Round 1 with these stats in the red. The Bulldogs are a kick-first side with a 3.26 ratio between kicks to handballs (more than three kicks to every handball), whilst their opposition has run at a ratio of 2.1. Their defence is their strength, so that is where they can look to rebound from and counter against Sturt in this game.

The Double Blues have a few more areas where they lead the league, with marks differential (plus 67) and total hitouts (80), which shows that they like to get first hands on it and also play more of a simplified game by hitting targets more so than running and gunning it. Their 2.4 kick-to-handball ratio is higher than the league average, but despite their hitouts dominance, they have not been able to translate that into clearance numbers, ranked eighth in the league with a differential of minus 27. They also only have one more inside 50 than their opponent coming into this game, though with 28 more on differentials. Their matches so far have largely been played between the arcs compared to the Bulldogs, with 131 times going inside 50 at either end of the ground compared to Central District’s 197. They win a bit more of the ball, but again are ranked seventh for disposal differential, so these are two sides that are not huge possession sides, but try and make the most of their opportunities going forward.

With the return of the rebranded National Basketball League (NBL)1 Central, Sturt will be without ruck Stephanie Ratliff, whilst Jaimee Wittervan will play her other sport of touch football this weekend. Lane Trenorden is the other forced out for the Double Blues, missing due to illness, whilst six players have been named in an extended interchange situation. Olivia McEvoy, Kiera Mueller and Louise Firth could make their debuts in the match, while Hannah Dreckow and Cherie Bamford join Elsie Dawes as other ins for the side. The strength of the Double Blues was their hitouts, though it is hard to deny the impact of co-captains, Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter this season. Bevan has averaged a team-high 19.3 disposals, 2.7 marks, 7.3 tackles, 2.7 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s and 2.3 rebounds, while Rigter has put up numbers of 14.7 disposals, 4.0 marks, 8.0 tackles and 2.3 clearances. Right alongside them in the best and fairest contention would have to be 17-year-old Hannah Prenzler who has been a rock in defence, averaging 12.3 disposals (at 81 per cent efficiency), 5.7 marks, 2.3 tackles and 2.3 rebounds from her three games this season. Fellow youngster, Zoe Prowse might have a bigger role in the ruck now Ratliff is out of the side, averaging 10.7 disposals, 2.7 marks and 10.3 hitouts per game thus far.

Central is lucky enough to not have to make any forced changes, instead adding four players to its side with an extended bench ahead of tonight’s big clash. Keely Cannizzaro returns after a couple of weeks out and slots straight into centre half-back, while Ella Mickan (wing), Tess Gerhardy (back pocket) and Hannah Pavlovich (interchange) are the others to come into the team. The focal point up forward is undoubtedly Katelyn Rosenzweig who after booting four goals a game in the win over Norwood, has only managed the two since. She has booted six of the Bulldogs’ seven goals in season 2020, so the home side must find more options to goal if they are to be a threat of kicking a winning score. With Sturt having some strong defenders, the likes of Shannon Murphy (full-forward) and Georgia Madigan (forward pocket) could be targets to add scoreboard pressure. Demi Sonneman (14.7 disposals, 5.0 rebounds) is enjoying a really strong season in the back 50, teaming up well with Kimberley Fry (10 disposals, 3.7 rebounds) and making it difficult for opposition teams to control the airways. Through the midfield, Shelby Smith (14.7 disposals, 43.7 marks, 3.7 clearances, 3.7 tackles, 2.0 inside 50s and 2.0 rebounds) is the one to watch out for as she has been finding her fair share of the ball for the Bulldogs on the inside.

The Bulldogs have put out a really stable side for the next round match, not panicking with changes and backing in their squad. The Double Blues have lost a number of players through various circumstances and that could assist the Bulldogs in bouncing back with a win. In saying that, last round Sturt looked very impressive in its victory over Woodville-West Torrens and if it can replicate its form, then the Double Blues deserve favouritism. With more avenues to goal, the Bulldogs will be a bigger threat and if they can execute that, then watch out.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, March 14, 5.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

Opening up a massive double header at Flinders University Stadium which features four of the top five teams is a clash between third and fifth on the SANFL Women’s ladder. West Adelaide is coming off its first loss of the season, going down to North Adelaide by 21 points last week after accounting for Glenelg (40 points) the week before, and Sturt (21) in Round 1. They head into this match hoping to bounce back, and remain a win clear of the Redlegs inside the top three. Norwood started its season off with a four-point win over Central District in Round 1, before bouncing back with a thrilling last-minute win over Woodville West Torrens by a point in Round 2, then suffering defeat again, this time by 30 points to South Adelaide.

Statistically speaking, West Adelaide is the number one clearance team in the competition. Racking up 77 clearances – nine more than the Bloods’ nearest rival – and 26 more than their opponents across the first three weeks, it is an area that they can really take advantage of here. Unfortunately the stoppage dominance has not always led to inside 50 numbers, ranked sixth overall in that area, and when it does go back the other way, the Bloods are equal lowest in terms of overall rebounds. In many other areas they are middle of the road and not too bad, though they are very much a handball-happy side with a 1.87 kick-to-handball ratio, and are ranked fourth overall for disposals.

One ahead of them in ball-winning numbers is the Redlegs who are ranked third in the competition for total disposals, though in their loss to South Adelaide had 63 less touches despite clocking up 201 disposals themselves. One of Norwood’s top strengths is its marking ability, having clunked the second most marks in the competition (141) and marking differential (plus 57). They also lead the league in clearance differential (plus 32) and pump the ball inside 50 more often than any other team (93) with a healthy plus 18 in that stat differential. Their areas of improvement are defensive ones, with Norwood’s tackling differential (minus 68) and rebounding differential (minus 26) the two key areas where they rank eighth in the competition for.

Looking to the teams and West Adelaide has made three changes, with Nicole Hooper missing the game due to injury, while Tara McDermott and Marie Martino are also listed as outs. Coming into the team is clever forward, Kasia Culhane to boost the attacking stocks, as well as Taylor Hand and Ashlea James. What makes the West Adelaide midfield so deep is the top-end talent of Abbie Ballard (19.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 3.3 tackles, 4.7 clearance and 3.0 inside 50s) and Rachelle Martin (17.3 disposals, 6.3 tackles, 5.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s), while Zoe Greer (11.0 disposals, 6.3 tackles and 3.7 clearances) adds to that talent with all three making life difficult for opposition onballers. Up forward, Melanie Elsegood is a strong target coming out of full-forward with multiple goals in all three goals, while Zoe Venning is just 16, but has been good rotating up the ground for 18.3 disposals, 4.3 marks, 2.3 tackles, 2.7 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s. Throw in Keeley Kustermann (13.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.0 tackles and 3.7 rebounds) off half-back alongside the reliable Helen Maidment and Lauren Rodato and West Adelaide’s defence can be as stringent as its forward line can be potent.

Norwood has been forced to make three changes to its Round 3 side, with Alison Ferrall missing the game due to a wedding, and Rhiannon Busch and Rosette Zeralla both out of the team as well. Kate Fenton is among three changes coming into the Redlegs’ side as they eye off a potential top four spot with a Glenelg loss. While they might be 1-2 from a win-loss perspective, Norwood has some serious top-end talent that has just taken a hit due to the quality of last year’s team which saw players drafted into the AFL Women’s competition. Leading the way for Norwood is Leah Cutting who has been sensational in the ruck and a key reason why the Redlegs are ranked second in the competition for hitout differential. The combination of Matilda Zander (17.7 disposals, 5.0 marks, 3.0 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s) – who has recently signed with Collingwood VFL Women’s side – and Bella Smith (8.3 disposals, 3.3 marks and 3.3 inside 50s) through the midfield has been a strong one in the absence of players such as Najwa Allen, Hannah Dunn and Ebony O’Dea who all left to chase their dreams at the elite level. Veteran, Jo Hill continues to be a source of scoring for the Redlegs, booting six goals from three games and will look for that to continue in this game, while versatile utility Mattea Breed (16.0 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 3.3 clearances, 4.0 inside 50s) has been able to play across all three lines.

The game itself is a hard one to predict, but given West Adelaide’s consistent form – only being overrun by a premiership contender in North Adelaide last week – and Norwood’s inconsistent form, the Bloods start as favourites in the game. Added to the fact the Redlegs have lost a few key players in the game, expect the Bloods to try and dominate the midfield and give their forwards first opportunity at scoring going inside 50.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, March 14, 7.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The top of the table clash is the most anticipated match of the SANFL Women’s season thus far, with the second placed South Adelaide hosting the top ranked North Adelaide. In what is also a replay of last year’s SANFL Women’s Grand Final, the Panthers and Roosters have overcome some serious outs from the off-season to still lead the pack in the 2020 competition. In Round 1, the Panthers survived a scare against Woodville-West Torrens to win by four points, then got their groove going after that with a 34-point triumph over Sturt and a five-goal victory over Norwood. The Roosters have had a flawless start to the season with a 24-point win over Glenelg in the opening week of the season, then dominated Central District by 54 and clocked up a 21-point win over West Adelaide in another top of the table clash just last week.

Statistically, both these teams are the clear standouts throughout the season, ranked in the top two in most areas. Starting with the Panthers, they are ranked first for disposal, kick and handball differential, and second for disposals, kicks, tackles and clearances. They do not have too many Achilles heels in the side, though despite having the second most tackles, are actually minus four in that differential, ranked sixth overall. It has helped them prepare for fierce defensive pressure from their opposition and being able to withstand it, something that will help the reigning premiers along the way. In terms of inside 50s they rank third, and also rank third for rebounds, with the Panthers more than capable to defend and attack between and inside the arcs. They are ranked fifth in hitout differential, but it has not stopped them being a premier clearance side.

North Adelaide has its fair share of elite qualities, proving that sheer weight of numbers can overwhelm opposition sides. They ranked first in disposals, kicks and marks in a simple, yet effective possession-style game. With a slight deficiency in tackling (134 total, plus five differential ranked eighth and fourth respectively), it is hard not to have one given their ridiculous amount of the ball they collect each week. They will need to improve their hitouts and clearance work, ranked in the bottom three sides for both, with their real strength coming in their inside 50s. The Roosters have pumped the ball inside 89 times (ranked second in the competition) and have a plus 26 in that statistic, eight more than their nearest rival, and nine more than the Panthers. The Roosters are ranked lower in their rebounds, with an equal fifth and sixth ranked respectively for total and differential in the stat. North Adelaide can take advantage with its keepings-off style and dominating play through a kick-mark-inside 50 gameplan, whilst the Panthers will look to handball their way down the field with speed, often straight out of the stoppages.

The home side has been forced to make at least four chances to its winning combination which could play a role in the game. Montana McKinnon got her chance for the Crows last week during the bye and has retained her spot after a strong debut which is great news, but not so much for the Panthers who will miss her presence around the ground. Also out due to work and unavailability are Lucy Northcott and Sophie Flanagan-Sjoberg, while Kelli Nijhuis suffered a knee injury and will miss. A procession of players return to the line-up with seven players named on an extended bench. Those named straight into the side are 17-year-old Brooklyn Kraft who replaces McKinnon in the ruck for Kraft’s first game of 2020 after four last year, and 16-year-old Lauren Clifton who slots into centre half-back after missing the last two games. Much of the talk around South Adelaide has been its impressive youngsters with Teah Charlton averaging a massive 21.3 disposals, 5.3 tackles, 3.7 clearances and 4.3 inside 50s per game, having really picked up in the past two weeks in particular. Indy Tahau is another who has not been overawed averaging 14.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.3 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s – ranked equal fourth in contested marks having taken five already this year. Somehow flying under the radar is South Adelaide’s midfield of Czenya Cavouras (18.3 disposals, 6.7 tackles and 4.3 clearances), Tahlia Meyer (16.7 disposals, 2.0 marks, 2.7 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s) and Samantha Pratt (11 disposals, 2.7 marks, 5.3 tackles and 3.0 rebounds) – the latter of whom has been named onball after playing a key role in defence last week.

North’s team selection by comparison is relatively stable with just one player added to the line-up on an extended bench with none yet to come out of the side. Charlea Taylor could potentially make her debut for the red and whites in what is the Roosters’ biggest game of the season. It is hard to fault too much with North Adelaide’s performance this year and many of these players will have fire in the belly after losing to the Panthers in last year’s decider. A win here might not make up for the grand final loss, but it will give them confidence going forward they can stand up in big games against quality opposition. The North Adelaide forward line is an embarrassment of riches, with last year’s leading goalkicker Kelly Barltrop yet to dominate but expected to let loose sometime soon, while the likes of Cristie Castle (18.3 disposals, 5.3 marks and 2.0 inside 50s), Hannah Ewings (12.7 disposals, 3.7 marks, 4.0 tackles and 4.0 inside 50s) and Katelyn Pope (14.0 disposals, 5.5 inside 50s, 2.5 tackles) all troubling opposition defenders, with the latter two roaming up the ground and pumping the ball inside 50 on multiple occasions. The star of the club, if not competition this year so far is Ashleigh Woodland who has been dominating on all fronts on her way to an average of 16.7 disposals, 4.7 marks, 2.7 tackles. 2.3 inside 50s and since going forward, has booted seven goals from an average of 20.5 disposals. Also through the midfield is Leah Tynan (14.3 disposals at 91 per cent efficiency, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 clearances and 2.3 inside 50s) and Lauren Daniel (18.0 disposals, 3.7 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.3 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s), whilst Amber Ward, Kristi Harvey and Lauren Gauci all sure up the defence to give the Roosters a consistent effort across the ground and ensure the opposition team struggles to kick high scores.

The big difference between the teams is the styles that they adopt and while they both are miles ahead of the rest of the competition in terms of disposals, the Panthers look for the quick handball at a competition-low kick-to-handball ratio of 1.3, compared to North Adelaide’s 1.7, which is still below the competition average, but is considerably higher than their opponents. Given North’s strength going inside, if the Roosters can break even in the clearances, then it gives them a huge advantage over their Southern rivals. If the Panthers get on top in the middle, and can find space around the ground, then it gives their chances a huge boost of coming out on top. An absolute ripping contest awaits.

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 3 – Top of the table clash headlines triple header

A TOP of the table clash between North Adelaide and West Adelaide headlines the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Round 3 this weekend as part of a triple header at Flinders University Stadium. Fellow undefeated side South Adelaide will face Norwood in the final game of the day, with Woodville-West Torrens and Sturt both searching for their first win in the middle game. To open the round, Central District will hope to add another loss to Glenelg’s season, with the Bulldogs also looking to take advantage of the top two sides going at it.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 29, 11.30am
X Convenience Oval

Opening up the third round of action is fifth placed Central District taking on seventh placed Glenelg in what is a crucial game for both clubs. The Bulldogs showed in the opening round against Norwood that they have improved on their inaugural season last year, and while they were taken to town by a rampaging North Adelaide side, will have learnt plenty from that disappointing loss. Heading into this clash, the home side should start as favourites against a Glenelg side yet to make its mark in 2020. For teams battling for a finals spot, this is considered a must-win contest, and one that both clubs no doubt would have marked as a crucial game when the fixture came out. Central will likely jump into the top four with a victory despite the 54-point defeat last week, with the Redlegs who sit fourth, taking on third placed South Adelaide. For Glenelg, a third loss and the season is very quickly slipping away. Last year’s grand finalists North Adelaide had a slow start to 2019, so it is not all lost, but the Tigers need to start picking up the pace and it is worth cutting them some slack as they have played the two most in-form teams in the competition thus far.

Statistically, Glenelg is not all that bad despite the two losses, sitting second overall for hitouts differential (+24), which is area they can exploit the Bulldogs in (-25) who are ranked seventh in the category differential for this season. The Tigers are also third overall for tackles differential with +20, just behind Central (+21). The Bulldogs also have a more predominant kicking style to Glenelg’s mixed style, though the Tigers also have the lowest disposal count of any side this season (339), though the Bulldogs have the lowest differential (-111), which is understandable after last week.

The Bulldogs have lost both Danielle Stewart and Jayme-Lee Sonneman for this clash, while bringing in six players to an extended bench, including Alicia Butler who looks to slot straight into half-back having been recalled for her second game of the season, alongside 19-year-old Keely Cannizzaro. The Bulldogs’ strength this season has been their defence, with the likes of Kimberley Fry (9.5 disposals, 3.5 rebounds) and Demi Sonneman (12.5 disposals, 4.5 rebounds) holding up firmly back there. In her first season at the club, Shelby Smith has been a welcome addition with 15 disposals, 3.5 marks, 3.5 tackles, 3.5 clearances and two rebounds per game, working hard through the middle and getting back to support the defenders. Up forward, equal-leading goalkicker Katelyn Rosenzweig (five goals) showed in Round 1 which she is capable of, and while she only managed the one goal last week, is always a headache for opposition defenders. The only concern will be the fact that Rosenzweig has booted five of the club’s six goals this season, so finding more avenues to goal is key.

Looking at the Tigers, they had plenty of scoring options in Round 1, but wasted them with a 2.10 scoreline against the ladder leaders. They then were completely restricted with just 1.2 in Round 2 against the Bloods, so have technically only booted the three goals this season. Glenelg has brought in a couple of players for their debuts in Lauren Kenny and Brooke Tonon with the latter representing South Australia at Under 16s level last season and is highly touted. The only forced change is the loss of Tasja Batzavalis due to concussion, while bringing in three others, including Tess Morcom back into the middle and Jessica Searle straight to full-back. Sam Franson is the X-factor up forward, with the 20-year-old averaging 10 disposals and laying a massive 6.5 tackles per game, while in defence, Madisyn Freeman has averaging 10.5 disposals, 2.5 tackles and 3.0 clearances.

In order to win this clash, Glenelg must make the most of its chances, while Central Districts must win the midfield battle and restrict Glenelg’s chances of scoring, while getting it forward as often as possible. This should be a thrilling contest with everything on the line.

MATCH OF THE ROUND:

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 29, 3.45pm
Flinders University Stadium

The first match of a bumper triple header at Flinders University Stadium tomorrow pits first and second against each other in what should be the match of the round. With third placed South Adelaide onlooking ahead of its own clash, the loser knows it will likely drop to third, though it is not the end of the world given these two have established themselves as genuine contenders, albeit early in the season. North Adelaide was somewhat fortunate in the opening round to get over the line by four goals against a wayward Glenelg, making the most of its chances with 7.4 to 2.10, before ironing out any cobwebs in the second round with a nine-goal smashing of Central District. West Adelaide looked more convincing in its opening game with a 21-point victory over Sturt, before handing out a 40-point beating of the Tigers in Round 2. Realistically it should have been even more with the Bloods booting 6.12, which is something they simply cannot afford to do here. The winner places themselves in a really good position almost a third of the way through the season in what is ultimately a short season. Both these line-ups have star players and this is anticipated to be an absolute beauty.

Statistically speaking, these sides are ranked top two for disposals, and second and third respectively for disposal differential, as the Roosters have a massive +76 in the category. They love playing a possession style of game, and both are more than comfortable using a handball-style or kick-first mentality. The Roosters are also ranked third in inside 50s differentials with +16, while West Adelaide is marginally ahead with +20. Despite winning both its games comfortably, the Roosters back six deserves credit with only a -2 differential, which ranks them fifth overall. The Bloods on the other hand have just 22 rebounds for the season – the lowest of any side, with the second worst differential. In saying that, they do not allow it to get in there, with a dominant clearance game that has them miles ahead of the competition with a +28 differential in clearances, despite a surprising -29 in hitouts. In other words, the Bloods have been sharking their opposition ruck taps, and doing it so effectively. The midfield is where they can take advantage, whereas the Roosters are happy to build up from the back six and with so many scoring options inside 50, they can cause some damage to a West Adelaide defence that is yet to have a serious threat placed on it.

North Adelaide has made three three changes to its side for Round 3, welcoming in Erica Greet, Mollie McKendrick and Katelyn Pope, with Greet playing her first game of the season, basketballer McKendrick her first with the club, and Pope recalled after playing in Round 1 against Glenelg. Having already mentioned how strong the North Adelaide defence is, the Roosters will be prepared for West Adelaide to win its fair share of inside 50s off a high volume of clearances. Kristi Harvey (9.5 disposals, 2.0 marks and 4.5 rebounds) and Amber Ward (12.5 disposals, 3.0 marks, 3.5 tackles and 2.0 rebounds) have been superb as key defensive posts in the back 50, while Lauren Gauci had an outstanding game in the Roosters win over Central, picking up 21 disposals, six marks (two contested), two clearances and three rebounds in just her second career game at the level. Up forward, Kelly Barltrop is yet to really stamp her authority on the competition after her leading goalkicker award last year, but it is a positive that the Roosters have had plenty of contributors, with Ashleigh Woodland (four goals) and Kathryn Reynolds (three) both having strong starts to the year. Woodland in particular is a damaging player, averaging 14 disposals at 79 per cent efficiency, while booting 4.2 from 19 touches and five marks last week in an outstanding performance. Cristie Castle could well be leading the Roosters’ best and fairest at this stage, with the 29-year-old averaging 19 disposals, 5.5 marks, 2.5 clearances, 2.5 inside 50s, 2.0 tackles and 1.0 goals per game. It will be up to the likes of Leah Tynan (12.5 disposals, 3.0 clearances) and Lauren Daniel (18.5 disposals, 4.0 clearances) to try and quell the influence of the West Adelaide midfielders.

West Adelaide has brought in three players to an extended bench, losing Kasia Culhane to injury, which will be a blow after the forward booted three goals in the first two rounds and looked a lively forward inside 50. Into the side comes Lauren Rodato, Nicole Hooper and Rachael Killian, with Rodato recalled after playing Round 1, and Hooper and Killian playing their first matches since 2018 – if selected. Rodato has been named at centre half-back to support the work of Keeley Kustermann (14.5 disposals at 90 per cent efficiency) who has been reliable as ever in the back 50, despite the Bloods having the lowest amount of rebounds. The reason for that is the work of Rachelle Martin, Abbie Ballard and Zoe Venning who have formed a remarkable midfield trio. Martin has averaged 18 disposals, 5.0 clearances, 7.5 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s per game and while her disposal efficiency could improve (53 per cent), most of her work is done at the coalface which allows her teammates to run the ball forward. She was one of a number of players who really could have had a day out last week, booting three behinds to go with 21 touches, five clearances and four inside 50s. Ballard is leading all-comers when it comes to disposals, averaging 21 per game thanks to her 27 touches in Round 1. Like Martin, she is a contested ball winner who can spread to the outside, averaging 3.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 5.5 clearances and 3.0 inside 50s per game. Venning – who is remarkably only 16-years-old but in her second season at West Adelaide is slightly below the others on volume, but has the highest disposal efficiency from her 15 touches, 3.5 marks, 3.0 tackles, 2.5 clearances and 2.0 inside 50s. Importantly, she also hits the scoreboard, averaging a goal a game thus far this season. Speaking of hitting the scoreboard, Melanie Elsegood is the equal leading goalkicker with five goals from her two marches, making the most of her 7.5-disposal, 2.5-mark averages.

There is a reason this is match of the round. You have the best clearance side up against the dominant scoring team which means both sides are going to be tested in ways they are yet to be tested. If the Bloods can continue to dominate the clearances, then their high volume of inside 50s will undoubtedly lead to a high score, though if North Adelaide can get on top, then they will cause all sorts of problems for the West Adelaide defence, which will have its first big test of the season in this game.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. STURT
Saturday, February 29, 5.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

After a blockbuster top of the table clash, two sides looking to get on the board in season 2020 go at it from 5.30pm. Woodville-West Torrens is yet to win in the SANFL Women’s since joining the competition 12 months ago. The Eagles have come close on a number of occasions, including last week where they led by as much as 19 points against Norwood before suffering a one-point defeat due to a goal in the last minute to help the Redlegs get over the line. In Round 1, they also led South Adelaide for portions of the game, only to fall short by less than a kick, and if form is any indicator to go by, then this should be the time they break the drought. Sturt sits on the bottom of the table having booted just three goals for the season, going down to West Adelaide by 21 points in Round 1, before being handed a 34-point defeat at the hands of the Panthers last week. That could have been a lot worse given South Adelaide booted 5.13 for the game, but in short, Sturt will need to lift for this contest. Similar to the opening game of this round, both these sides would have identified at the start of the season for this game to be a must-win against an opponent it is capable of beating. The winner of this match gets back on track in season 2020, while the loser will be at least two games outside the top four and having to play catch-up which is not ideal in such a short season.

Statistically the Eagles are better off, and are far and away the standout tackling team of the competition. They have laid a whopping 166 tackles this season, with 79 and 87 respectively each round to be the number one side both weeks. Their defensive pressure is not in question, though their handball game can sometimes get them unstuck. They have the lowest kick-to-handball ratio at just 1.42, which compared to the top team in that category (Central) which has 3.3, it shows the Eagles look to move the ball quickly by hand. Depending on the execution this can be a huge advantage, but also hurt going the other way, with the Eagles also only taking the 37 marks – the lowest of any side this season – while Sturt is third overall with 90, and has the second highest differential of +40. It is clear that this game will be a battle between two different styles, with Sturt looking to get to the outside and work their way inside 50 with calculated movement, while the Eagles will use a handball-style game to get it going in quick transition. Sturt’s big deficiency is giving its forwards best chance to score with a competition-low clearance count (31) and inside 50s count (23) with the lowest differential in both stats following a -25 and -33 respectively. This is an area they will no doubt focus on for this game, while the Double Blues defence to their credit has held up with a competition-high differential of +24 in rebounds.

Woodville-West Torrens have made three confirmed changes, with the loss of Adele Gibson due to a knee injury disappointing, and former West Adelaide captain Alison Evans brought in up forward to replace her in the front half having played in the narrow Round 1 loss. They have also brought in the exciting Jaida Tabb, the 15-year-old younger sister of Eagles and AFL Womens’ player Jaimi (13.5 disposals, 7.5 tackles, 3.5 inside 50s and 2.0 rebounds), with the latter named at full-forward to try and mix up the forward half. She will team up with fellow South Australian representative at last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, with Kiana Lee leading the way in terms of scoring for the Eagles, booting three first half goals last week after surprisingly going goalless in round 1. When up and about, Lee knows how to fly for her marks, taking a massive six contested grabs from seven marks this season. While the Eagles have the scoring options, their defenders deserve credit as well, with Jovanka Zecevic (10 disposals, 5.0 tackles) and teenagers, Tesharna Maher (11 disposals at 77 per cent efficiency, and five rebounds) and Jamie Parish (six disposals, three marks) all holding up the back six. Former Adelaide AFL Women’s ruck, Rhiannon Metcalfe played her first game last week and will be better for the run, building into the game and could try and quell the influence of Sturt’s top three ruck ranked division.

The Double Blues have tried to keep as much stability as possible and not panic despite back-to-back losses, as Hannah Dreckow is the sole out for the last placed side, bringing in 18-year-old debutant Arabella Brown, as well as Cherie Bamford and Alysha Healy. Sturt has some serious top-end talent, but it is just about bringing through the next tier of players and continuing the development of the young players running around in the Double Blue. Co-captains, Georgia Bevan (19 disposals, 2.5 marks, 8.0 tackles, 2.0 clearances, 2.0 inside 50s and 3.0 rebounds) and Maya Rigter (15 disposals, 4.5 marks, 9.0 tackles, 2.5 clearances and 2.0 rebounds) running at 82 and 87 per cent efficiency respectively have been the top two players for Sturt, while Hannah Prenzler (13.5 disposals, 6.5 marks, 3.0 tackles and 3.0 rebounds) has been one of the top defenders in a side that has tried to hold up against some fierce attacking movement of top three sides. Sturt just has to find a way to score more, with the defensive set up and midfield duo a tick, and some young talent coming through. Zoe Prowse and Isobel Kuiper are a couple of teenagers who are the next young stars for Sturt, with the 16-year-old Prowse already entrenched as a ruck who can rest forward, while 17-year-old Kuiper has been playing through the middle and averaging five tackles per game to go with her 10 touches.

This game should be a close one with Woodville-West Torrens showing greater signs so far this season, but Sturt have some of the top players who could lift the Double Blues over the line. If the Eagles can get it forward and work it well down the ground with their ball movement to unsettle the Sturt defence it will help, while the Double Blues will look to get it long and try and force the attacking defenders of the Eagles to double think their decisions out of the back 50.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, February 29, 7.15pm
Flinders University Stadium

The final game of the round pits two SANFL Women’s heavyweights against each other with inaugural premiers, Norwood going up against recent back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide. The Panthers had the Redlegs’ measure last season, going on to win the flag from second as Norwood tumbled out in straight sets, but both these sides have changed a fair amount since last season. Based on the opening first two rounds, the Panthers have made do by winning both their games, while Norwood has struggled to adapt with a completely new midfield group. To the Redlegs credit though, they came back from 19 points down to win against Woodville-West Torrens last week, largely thanks to three goals from Jo Hill. They cannot afford to drop that far behind against South Adelaide however, though the Panthers too had to come from behind to beat the Eagles back in Round 1, before a much more comfortable win over Sturt last week.

Looking at the stats, South Adelaide is a possession-style team ranked first in both disposal (+97) and kicking (+47) differentials for season 2020 thus far. They also have the most inside 50s of any side (63) and highest differential in that stat (+28). Ranked second overall for handball differential (+50), by sheer weight of numbers they have the most handballs of any side as well, which shows they can use the ball down the field in multiple ways. The Panthers’ defence has the lowest rebound differential of any side (-19), but that comes as no surprise seeing as how often the ball has spent time up the other end of the field. In Round 1, South Adelaide had just nine rebounds against Woodville-West Torrens, but the Eagles were unable to capitalise in that game. What makes Norwood good is the Redlegs’ outside game, with the highest marking differential of any side (+47), well ahead of South Adelaide’s (+5). They also lead the way in hitouts with 30 per game (+29 differential) thanks to the work of Leah Cutting. Defensively, Norwood has been out-pressured by its opposition, with the second lowest tackle count, but more damning is the lowest tackle differential of -52. South Adelaide is the second worst with -20, but only had four less than Sturt last week, whereas in Round 1, Norwood was -17 against Central District. Both sides were well out-tackled by the number one tackling side in the Eagles.

The Panthers have been forced to make at least two changes, with Annabel Gordon and Callie Wilson (both ankle injuries) out of the game among four confirmed outs. Into the side comes six players to an extended bench, with Chloe Jacobs named to make her debut for South Adelaide. The biggest inclusion is Madison Bennett who slots straight into a front six that is already incredibly potent after the 20-year-old was recalled for Round 3. With Cutting’s dominance in the ruck, it will be a great test for young gun, Montana McKinnon to step up again and continue her wonderful form this season with the 18-year-old averaging 16.5 disposals, 4.5 marks, 3.5 clearances, 6.0 inside 50s and 2.5 tackles per game. Accumulating the ball like a midfielder, McKinnon can also go forward and provide a tall target, with top draft prospect Teah Charlton (19 disposals at 87 per cent efficiency, 5.5 tackles, 4.0 clearances and 4.0 inside 50s) also in the forward half and capable of the incredible. In the midfield, Czenya Cavouras (17.5 disposals, 6.5 tackles and 4.5 clearances) and Tahlia Meyer (15 disposals, 2.5 tackles and 2.5 inside 50s) are natural ball winners, with Indy Tahau (15 disposals, 4.5 clearances, 3.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s and 2.0 marks) and Elyse Haylock (18 disposals, five tackles) – who played her first game of the season last week – forming a really dangerous onball combination.

Norwood has made four chances to its winning side last week, still trying to find the right mix to build on its performance. Despite having plenty of improvement left in them, the Redlegs have been able to stabilise their season thus far with a 1-1 record. Thrown up either end, Michele Reid has been named in the forward pocket for the match, while Ella Murison comes into the back pocket. Both players are versatile, with the 38-year-old Reid playing a defensive role in the first round, and has been called up for a different spot in Round 3, while Murison was the opposite with a couple of inside 50s against the Bulldogs in Round 1, but now named deep in defence. Cutting has been a huge influence in the midfield with a competition-high 20.5 hitouts to go with 10 disposals, 3.5 marks and 6.0 tackles per game.  She has been working well with the likes of Bella Smith (10 disposals, 4.5 marks, 2.5 tackles, 4.5 inside 50s) and Matilda Zander (17.5 disposals, 4.0 marks, 3.0 tackles, 2.5 inside 50s, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 clearances) through midfield, while Mattea Breed (17.5 disposals, 2.0 marks, 4.0 tackles, 5.0 inside 50s and 3.5 clearances) really shone in Round 2, and has been roaming up the ground at half-forward clunking some strong marks and leading the way. Sophie Armitstead (14 disposals, 3.5 clearances and 3.0 tackles) is another player who has enjoyed a solid season thus far, and it is expected once Norwood can adjust to its new line-up in season 2020, it will be a threat to any side.

South Adelaide deserve to be favourites in this clash, but Norwood has steadily improved. While the Panthers are more of a running possession side than a tackling one, they would see that defensive pressure has unsettled the Redlegs at times, though Norwood has been a dominant team in the ruck duels and also capable of kicking goals quickly. Neither side can afford to switch off during this game if they are to be triumphant.

SANFL Women’s Round 2 review: Bloods and Roosters size up ahead of blockbuster clash next week

NORTH Adelaide and West Adelaide have sent early messages to the rest of the competition in Round 2 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s, ahead of the side’s huge Round 3 clash next week. South Adelaide became the only other undefeated side in the league taking care of Sturt, while Norwood pinched a come-from-behind win against Woodville-West Torrens in the other game.

WEST ADELAIDE 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.10 | 6.12 (48)
GLENELG 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

West: M. Elsegood 3, T. McDermott, Z. Venning, K. Culhane.
Glenelg: S. Moon.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

West: R. Martin 21, Z. Greer 18, A. Ballard 17, K. Kustermann 15, E. Smith 15
Glenelg: C. Packer 17

West Adelaide has sent a statement to the rest of the SANFL Women’s competition with a 40-point belting of Glenelg. After an impressive win in Round 1 over Sturt, the Bloods took it up a notch to record a massive 18 scoring shots to three, and answering every challenge asked of them. When the Tigers booted their first – and only – goal to get within nine points, West Adelaide kicked away with the last four goals of the match to run out 6.12 (48) to 1.2 (8) winners.

After an inaccurate 2.3 last week, Melanie Elsegood made the most of her chances with three majors, and in what was a super defensive effort from the Bloods, restricted Glenelg from scoring in all bar five minutes of the match. The Tigers’ only goal came at the 10-minute mark of the second term when Soriah Moon broke the drought, but it was all West Adelaide after that, with the Bloods recording the last nine scoring shots of the match. Indeed with a team score of 6.12, the end margin could have been even greater with Rachelle Martin (three behinds) and Zoe Greer (two behinds) among those who could have walked away with some majors.

The stats all pointed to the Bloods, recording 42 more disposals than their opponents, and they dominated both the clearances (30-15) and inside 50s (21-12), despite Glenelg winning the hitouts for the second week in a row (33-17). Greer had a day out in a best on ground performance, picking up 18 disposals, one mark, eight clearances, 12 tackles and two inside 50s, with the two misses potentially adding an extra string to her bow on the night.

Martin was also influential in the middle with 21 disposals, one mark, five clearances, four inside 50s and four tackles, while Emma Smith (15 disposals, 10 tackles) and Olivia Smith (eight disposals, 13 tackles) were incredible with their defensive pressure. While she did not rack up the same numbers as last week, Abbie Ballard still played her role with 17 disposals, two marks, two clearances and three inside 50s, while Keeley Kustermann (15 disposals, four marks, two clearances, two rebounds and two tackles was once again good out of the back half. Zoe Venning also impressed with 13 disposals, five marks, two clearances, two inside 50s and a goal proving to be a dominant force in the forward half.

The Tigers were well beaten on the night, but Chelsea Packer was the standout with a team-high 17 disposals, two marks, six tackles and three rebounds. While the midfield was not able to make use of her dominance, Moon was a star with 24 hitouts and three clearances, as well as four tackles and a goal from just five disposals. Tessa Kohn was the other Tiger with more than two clearances, picking up four to accompany 11 disposals, two marks and seven tackles, while Lucy Armitage led the way for defensive pressure with 12 tackles.

The Tigers will need to bounce back next week when they take on Central District, while the Bloods have a huge clash against North Adelaide.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.2 | 3.7 | 3.11 | 5.13 (43)
STURT 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)

GOALS:

South: J. Kirk 3, E. Haylock, T. Meyer.
Sturt: K. Harris.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

South: T. Charlton 24, T. Meyer 21, C. Barry 20, E. Haylock 18, T. Buethke 15, C. Cavouras 15, M. McKinnon 15
Sturt: G. Bevan 19, H. Prenzler 15

A dominant South Adelaide outfit put Sturt to the sword after quarter time in a comfortable 5.13 (43) to 1.3 (9) win, booting 4.11 to 0.0 in the final three quarters to run away 32-point winners. Jess Kirk got proceedings underway for the home side, before Kate Harris responded for the Double Blues four minutes later. An array of missed chances for the visitors – including two behinds to Ally Ladas back-to-back would come back to bite them as Sturt led by just one point heading into quarter time. It was all South Adelaide after that, with Kirk adding her second and Elyse Haylock getting on the scoreboard for the Panthers to open up a 16-point advantage at half-time. An inaccurate South Adelaide side booted seven straight behinds to go from 3.4 to 3.11 and just give Sturt a sniff heading into the last quarter. Tahlia Meyer took just 32 seconds to close the door on any potential comeback in the final term, with Kirk booting her third goal later in the quarter to lock up the comfortable win.

The Panthers could have won by more with Callie Wilson (four behinds), Indy Tahau (two behinds) and Kirk (3.2) among those that could have had bigger days out. For Sturt, the side was just outplayed by a better unit, as South won 62 more disposals, and had six more contested marks, as well as won the clearances (26-16) and dominated the inside 50s (32-10). Sturt’s defence again tried to hold strong with 16 more rebounds, but were overwhelmed with the volume of inside 50 entries, though their skilful outside game showed at times, with a higher disposal efficiency (76 per cent) and 14 more marks (44-30).

Teah Charlton showed just why she is considered South Australia’s top prospect for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft with 24 disposals, three marks (one contested), five tackles, four clearances and five inside 50s in the win. Meyer (21 disposals, three marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and a goal) was also impressive, while Courtney Barry‘s work on the inside (20 disposals, nine clearances, 10 tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds) was outstanding. Montana McKinnon continued to look a class above with 17 hitouts, three clearances, six inside 50s and 15 touches, while midfielder, Czenya Cavouras helped herself to 15 disposals, three clearances, two inside 50s and two tackles. Haylock was the other big ball winner with 18 disposals, five tackles, two inside 50s and a goal.

The Double Blues’ standout trio from last week again were the three best, with co-captains Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter impressive in midfield, and Hannah Prenzler standing up in defence. Bevan picked up a team-high 19 disposals, as well as eight tackles, three marks, three inside 50s and three rebounds, while Rigter had a team-high 12 tackles to go with 12 disposals, two marks, three clearances and three rebounds. Prenzler finished with 15 disposals, six marks and four rebounds in a quarter back type role. Other Double Blues who showed some nice signs despite the loss were Isobel Kuiper (10 disposals, three marks, nine tackles and two clearances), Jaimee Wittervan (10 disposals, three tackles and three clearances) and Stephanie Ratliff (seven disposals, 13 hitouts, two clearances and six tackles).

Sturt has to come in next week against a hungry Woodville-West Torrens side which keeps falling short of its inaugural win in the competition, while South Adelaide takes on rival Norwood with both games a part of the Triple Header at Flinders University Stadium.

WWT EAGLES 2.2 | 4.3 | 4.5 | 4.5 (29)
NORWOOD 0.0 | 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.6 (30)

GOALS:

WWT: K. Lee 3, J. Zecevic.
Norwood: J. HIll 3, L. Bigg.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

WWT: J. Tabb 16
Norwood: M. Breed 21, S. Armitstead 17, M. Zander 16

So near, yet so far for a disappointed Woodville-West Torrens outfit that for the second consecutive week, fell short of the four points despite an incredibly spirited effort. The Eagles looked unbelievable in the first half of their clash against Norwood having almost toppled reigning premiers, South Adelaide just a week earlier. But while the winless Eagles outfit led by as much 19 points at half-time, they could not sustain it as the Redlegs booted 3.4 to 0.2 in the second half to run over the top of them with a late Lindsay Bigg goal the dagger in the hearts of Eagles fans.

Having missed out on a massive upset the week prior, Woodville-West Torrens looked determined to turn it around in the second match against Norwood. Last year’s minor premiers looked shaky last week with so much turnover from the off-season, while the Eagles lost but were every bit in the contest in Round 1. Kiana Lee started the Eagles off on the right foot with the teenager converting a goal six minutes into the contest, before Jovanka Zecevic made it two and the home side was 14 points up at quarter time without its opponent making an impact on the scoreboard. Jo Hill finally did that early in the second to get the ball rolling for Norwood, but Lee immediately answered a minute later with her second, and then her third came later in the quarter with the lead out to a 19-point advantage by the main break. Looking down and out, Hill stepped up again, booting back-to-back goals, albeit eight minutes apart, to suddenly drag her side back to within seven points at the final break. Both Lee and Eboni Tiller missed chances to give the Eagles some breathing space at the last chance, and the final term was all Norwood. Despite the Redlegs doing all the attacking, they booted four straight behinds from Bigg (two), Mattea Breed and Hill, to still trail by five points as late as the 16th minute of the final term. Then, it was a case of third time lucky with Bigg kicking a match-winning goal with 50 seconds on the clock, to send the Norwood faithful into jubilation, while for the Eagles fans it was another heartbreaking loss.

The stats were fairly even across the board in terms of ball finding and use, with Norwood able to work its way on the outside with 36 marks to 19, including nine contested to five. The Eagles brutal defensive work again stood up with a whopping 88 tackles to 47, not giving the Redlegs an inch. Despite Norwood winning the hitouts (28-20), Woodville-West Torrens won the clearances (22-20), as both the inside-50 and rebound counts were almost identical. There was not much between the sides, and it showed on the scoreboard, with Norwood able to weather the defensive pressure of the Eagles and kick a goal when required to get the job done.

Breed was the standout for the Redlegs with the Central Allies’ Under-18 representative picking up 21 disposals, three marks (one contested), five tackles, four clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds in a good all-round performance. Sophie Armitstead built on her Round 1 game with 17 disposals, one mark, five tackles, three clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Matilda Zander again found plenty of the ball with 16 touches, two marks, four inside 50s, three rebounds, two clearances and two tackles. The top ruck in the competition, Leah Cutting had 23 hitouts and two contested marks to go with four inside 50s, six tackles and 13 touches in the win. Alison Ferrall (10 disposals, three inside 50s) and Bella Smith (10 disposals, four inside 50s, three tackles and four marks) worked hard in the forward half of the ground, while Tessa Hankinson (10 disposals, two marks, two tackles, two clearances and three rebounds) was strong in defence. Hill’s three goals from six touches was ultimately the difference in the end, while Rhiannon Busch had a team-high four rebounds to go with her six touches and three tackles.

Jaimi Tabb put in a huge performance to make the Adelaide AFL Women’s coaching staff take note, recording a team-high 16 touches, as well as two marks, 10 tackles and six inside 50s, setting the tone for her teammates. Speaking of setting the tone, Mikayla Cavallaro laid a huge 14 tackles to go with 11 disposals, while Tesharna Maher was again prolific out of defence with 12 disposals, two marks, two inside 50s, three tackles and four rebounds. Also among the top ball winners for the losing side were Chloe Forby (12 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s) and Stephanie Walker (12 disposals, five tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s). All bar one player on the Eagles side laid at least one tackle in the match, as Grace Smallcombe and Jaime Parish had equal team-high rebounds of four apiece to aide Maher out of defence.

It would have been disappointing for the Eagles who arguably deserved the win between their efforts of the first two rounds, but it showed that whoever stands up when it counts can take the four points. Norwood was the better team on the scoreboard in the second half, and the Redlegs have a great escape heading into such a huge Round 3 match against reigning premiers South Adelaide, while the Eagles will search for that win against bottom of the table, Sturt.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)
NORTH ADELAIDE 2.2 | 5.3 | 7.4 | 9.7 (61)

GOALS:

Central: K. Rosenzweig.
North: A. Woodland 4, K. Reynolds 2, C. Castle, L. Daniel, H. Ewings.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

Central: G. Madigan 13
North: L. Daniel 23, C. Castle 22, L. Gauchi 21, A. Woodland 19, H. Ewings 17, A. Ward 16

It was touted as arguably the match of the round prior to the weekend given it was the only one between two Round 1 winners, but it ended up being a premiership contender endorsement for North Adelaide. Looking to go one step further than their runner-up effort last year, the Roosters flexed their muscles on Central District with the Bulldogs side clearly improved from last season, but unable to make too much leeway against an incredibly impressive North Adelaide outfit. The Roosters ran out 54-point winners with the highest score and biggest winning margin of the season, putting an exclamation mark on their already top of the table position.

The signs looked ominous early on, with former Melbourne AFL Women’s player, Ashleigh Woodland up and about up forward, booting 2.1 in the first term as she led her side to a 14-point lead at the break. By the eighth minute of the second term, North Adelaide was 33 points up and the game seemed done and dusted. Woodland had booted her third, with Kathryn Reynolds and last week’s Breakthrough Player of the Round, Hannah Ewings both hitting the scoreboard. Competition leading goalkicker, Katelyn Rosenzweig broke the drought for her side midway through the term to give them a sniff on the edge of half-time. Alas for the home team, it was the Roosters who continued their dominance after the break, as Woodland narrowly missed a fourth goal early, before Cristie Castle and then Reynolds both capitalised, and the lead was out to 39 points at the last change. Refusing to take the foot off, North Adelaide piled on the pressure with Lauren Daniel booting her first of the contest, then Woodland converted her fourth to head home with 4.2 for the day, and the Roosters headed home with a nine-goal win.

Not surprisingly, the Roosters were dominant on the stats sheet, winning 261 disposals and going at a terrific 74 per cent efficiency. Their handball game was on-point as they moved the ball well down the ground. They took 16 more marks and seven more contested marks, and dominated the inside-50 count, 36-22. Working in the Bulldogs’ favour, they matched it with the Roosters in the middle, with both the hitouts and clearances, and were able to rebound the ball out of the back half 26 times to 21. Unfortunately for the home side, the sheer weight of numbers prevailed and the Roosters managed to score 16 times from 36 entries, with the extra class and experience of Woodlands and her teammates getting the visitors home.

There was no shortage of huge individual performances on the Roosters side, with Woodland the clear standout thanks to 19 disposals, five marks – one contested, three inside 50s, three tackles and of course, four goals from six scoring chances. Daniel was the top ball winner with 23 disposals, four marks, six clearances, four inside 50s, seven tackles and one goal, while Castle was not far behind with 22 touches, five marks – one contested – two clearances and three rebounds. Ewings had a match-high nine inside 50s working the ball brilliantly on the outside to go with her 17 touches, five marks – one contested – and three tackles. Amber Ward was reliable in defence with 16 disposals, five tackles, two rebounds and two inside 50s, while Kristi Harvey had an equal team-high four rebounds to go with 10 touches. Aside from Daniel, Leah Tynan had the most clearances with four, as well as 13 disposals and three tackles. In total, the Roosters had a massive 14 players reach double-figure disposals as they shared the ball around, and arguably what made the huge win more impressive was the fact that last year’s leading goalkicker, Kelly Barltrop was a non-factor in the contest with six touches and one behind.

Central had six players that were in double figures for disposals, with Georgia Madigan leading the way with 13, as well as three marks, three tackles and three inside 50s, while Demi Sonneman had 12 disposals – all kicks – coming out of defence as well as two marks, two tackles and three rebounds. Danielle Stewart (12 disposals, five clearances) worked hard in midfield, while Jayme-Lee Sonneman (three clearances), Shelby Smith (two) and Lauren Smith (two) were the other main midfield extractors. Kimberley Fry held up well under pressure in defence with eight touches and four rebounds, while Amber James provided a presence in the forward half with eight disposals, two marks – one contested – and four inside 50s.

There was little doubt that North Adelaide has its sights set on a premiership this year, with a number of its rivals losing players to the AFL Women’s competitions. While the Roosters also suffered some departures, they are primed for a huge attack on 2020 and would have to be premiership favourites at this stage. While no doubt the loss will sting for the Bulldogs, they have just witnessed the benchmark of the competition, and there will be some good and bad weeks throughout the season, but they have a consistent side across the park and have a great chance of bouncing back against Glenelg next week. The Roosters will take on the Bloods in a top of the table clash not to be missed.

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 2 – Bulldogs and Roosters lock claws in standalone Saturday game

AT least one team will suffer its first loss in Round 2, while another will get on the board with its first win in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, as a blockbuster Friday night is planned across two venues. The undefeated clash between Central District and North Adelaide then takes place on Saturday morning in what could be a blockbuster match.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Friday, February 21, 6.30pm
Hisense Stadium

Opening up the second round of the SANFL Women’s is a clash between two sides with differing results from the opening round of action. Glenelg went down to North Adelaide by 24 points at X Convenience Oval on the back of conceding six consecutive goals, while West Adelaide ran out 21-point winners over Sturt in the game immediately after that contest. Looking across both games, Glenelg had the much higher efficiency, running at 73 per cent in a match that was higher skilled against the Roosters, while the Westies had a 61 per cent efficiency against Sturt, but got the job done. The Tigers dominated the hitouts (+8) and clearances (+7) but lost the inside 50s (-2) and booted 2.10 for the match in a disappointing effort in front of goal. Had it been 10.2 instead, the Tigers win by 16 points. The Bloods were well beaten in the hitouts (-13) but completely dismantled Sturt in the clearances (+15) and inside 50s (+11), while also laying more tackles (+10). One area the Bloods would want to improve on from Round 1 was the opposition’s uncontested ball movement, with Sturt taking 46 marks to 20. What the Round 1 matches tell us is that Glenelg need to make more of its chances inside 50, and limit the influence of West Adelaide’s superb onball division, which included Abbie Ballard – who led the league in disposals with 27 – and Rachelle Martin who both form a damaging contested-ball duo. Glenelg should get first hands to the ball at stoppages with Soriah Moon playing well on debut, and recording more hitouts than the entire West Adelaide side. But with Ballard and Martin combining for 14 hitouts – and ruck Kate Walsh even recording four, it is a tough midfield to combat. Glenelg will rely on the likes of Madisyn Freeman to push up the grounds at times, winning an equal team-high four clearances last week, and if the likes of Sam Franson (two behinds) and Molly Althouse (four marks, two contested) can start to have an impact up forward, then they will be a damaging forward six to combat. Keely Kustermann looked settled last week and covers a lot of ground, while Lauren Rodato is a consistent player in defence for the Bloods. Up forward, Kasia Culhane and Melanie Elsegood both scored multiple goals, and Elsegood could have had a real day out if she put through a few more of her five chances (2.3). West Adelaide will start favourites in this clash due to the onball and forward talent, but Glenelg’s loss last week was not as bad as it might appear on the surface, and it is about taking chances in Round 2.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Friday, February 21, 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

These two teams also come into this clash with different results from Round 1, but both sides would know they can improve on their output from those respective matches. South Adelaide pulled off the great escape against Woodville-West Torrens, while Sturt suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of West Adelaide. In that game, the double Blues were well beaten around the contest with the clearances (-15) and the inside 50s (-11) going the way of the Bloods. This all came despite Sturt winning almost double West Adelaide’s hitouts (+13). The area where Sturt impressed was in its outside ball as the Double Blues took 26 more marks (more than double) and had a solid 68 per cent disposal efficiency, playing a kick-first gamestyle. South Adelaide plays a possession-style brand of football, racking up 33 more disposals than the Eagles in Round 1, nullifying the opposition’s ability to get ball to boot with a low kick-to-handball ratio. The Panthers are great at shutting down the outside run, with the Eagles only taking 18 marks to South Adelaide’s 37, while the Panthers also won the hitouts (+4), clearances (+9) and inside 50s (+6). Despite all this going the reigning premiers way, they won by just four points, and it was the defensive pressure of the Eagles that forced them to overuse the ball, and also the visitors’ inaccuracy that helped the Panthers get home. South Adelaide is an incredible side and it will be expected to put out a similar effort against Sturt in shutting down the outside run and making more chances in front of goal. With Montana McKinnon potentially heading back to AFL Women’s after being named in the extend squad, Sturt will have a advantage in the ruck, and the Double Blues’ defensive setup is quite solid, but they cannot afford to be beaten out of the middle again. Stephanie Ratliff and Zoe Prowse were impressive in the ruck last week, with the mobile Prowse also doing her part around the stoppages. Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter (five combined clearances last week) will have to step up again in this contest, with South Adelaide having the likes of Indy Tahau (eight clearances), Czenya Cavouras (six) and Teah Charlton (four) all standing out as a dominant trio in there. Rachel Dunstan and Hannah Prenzler were able to work hard defensively, with Prenzler picking up two rebounds and seven marks against the Bloods to hold up in the defensive 50. Along with Alysha Healy and Aajiah Jerico, it will be important for the visiting side to hold up back there and drive the ball forward against an unpredictable forward line. South gets a lot of goals out of its midfield, and once it wins the ball, it is hard to stop it being locked in the Panthers’ forward half. Expect South Adelaide to come out firing, with so much depth in its side, but if Sturt can make more of its ruck dominance, then the Double Blues can try and up the tempo and play keepings-off.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. NORWOOD
Friday, February 21, 8.15pm
Hisense Stadium

Yet to have a win in their short history, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles would be seeing this Friday night clash as a real chance to breakthrough and record a ‘W’. The Eagles came agonisingly close to causing a boilover against reigning premiers South Adelaide on the road, and now take on a Norwood side still finding its feet after so much change in the off-season. With a brand new midfield brigade, the Redlegs still looked solid, but will be better for the run during the loss against Central District last week. Norwood had an extra scoring shot than the Bulldogs, and played their traditional possession style game with 33 more disposals and 30 more marks – including seven more contested – but were not able to capitalise on their inside 50 entries (+7). The Central defence was able to pick-off the attacking forays with eight more rebounds and 16 more tackles. Norwood’s ruck, Leah Cutting is the best in the business and dominated the Bulldogs with 21 more hitouts and that helped the Redlegs win three more clearances too – an area that could further improve considering that ruck work dominance. The Eagles will have seen the pressure that Central applied to the Redlegs and bring much of the same, laying 14 more tackles than the Panthers, and three more rebounds. They will need to make more of their opportunities count as well, booting just three goals from nine scoring chances in Round 1, and you cannot afford to do that every week. The Eagles are not a huge disposal-winning team, but instead have that shared brand of football where everyone plays their role and it seemed to be effective for the most part against a highly-credentialed Panthers side last week. Youngster, Tesharna Maher recorded six rebounds in the loss last round, while Allison Evans had three as the pair patrolled the backline. In the middle, Teagan Usher had a team-high four clearances, but the Eagles will need to muster up more of those by sharking the opposition ruck. The tackling pressure is something that the Eagles had no problems bringing, with Evans and Sophie Zuill both laying eight, and Adele Gibson having a team-high four inside 50s. Kiana Lee was quiet on the scoreboard last week but will be better for the run, taking three contested marks and signalling her intent in the air. In the absence of a number of midfielders who made the step up to AFL Women’s this season, Matilda Zander picked up a game-high 20 touches against the Bulldogs last week, well aided by Alison Ferrall (15) and Lindsay Bigg (14). Mattea Breed was also important in that midfield group with three clearances and four inside 50s, while Jo Hill made the most of her chances up forward with two goals. Sophie Armitstead was the leading clearance worker, and while the Redlegs midfield is still developing, they have the talent to make more opportunities from Cutting’s dominance. Norwood have the runs on the board over past years, but the Eagles arguably looked more impressive last week. It will be an absolute blinder of a game.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 22, 11.30am
X Convenience Oval

The only game in Round 2 that features two Round 1 winners is between the sides that finished second and second last, in 2019. A much improved Central District team outlasted last year’s minor premiers Norwood in a nice little upset to start 2020, while North Adelaide booted six consecutive goals to run out four-goal winners over Glenelg and now sit top of the table. In that win, the Roosters actually had five less disposals and seven less tackles, but were so efficient with their scoring accuracy, capitalising on more chances than the Tigers’ 2.10. North lost both the hitouts (-8) and clearances (-7) but rebounded well to win the inside 50 count (+2) and overall were a more efficient side going forward. They will need to continue that throughout the season, because as impressive as the win was, the Roosters can still improve further. The Bulldogs also had less disposals for greater efficiency which makes this an intriguing match. Central had 33 less touches than Norwood in the win last round, and were beaten on the outside with 30 less marks. But the Bulldogs made more of their chances inside 50 and tackled their way to victory (+16). They were smashed in the ruck (-21) and lost the clearances (-3) and inside-50 (-7) counts, but the Bulldogs defence held firm under the attacks with eight more rebounds. The Bulldogs will not be afraid to make it a contested game, with Shelby Smith (20 touches, five clearances and three tackles) leading the way in Round 1, while Jaymee-Lee Sonneman and Lauren Smith both had the three clearances. Demi Sonneman, Kimberley Fry and Abbey Scheer were reliable in defence with a combined 12 clearances, and then Katelyn Rosenzweig was the dominant force up forward with four goals from five scoring chances and seven disposals. North Adelaide has its own goal-scoring machine in Kelly Barltrop, with last year’s leading goalkicker booting two goals in the Round 1 win to start her season off on the right note, while Cristie Castle was sensational across the ground with 17 touches, six marks (three contested), five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Hannah Ewings won the Breakthrough Player for Round 1 after the 16-year-old won 12 disposals and four marks, and also booted a goal on debut. Kristi Harvey will likely have the tough job of containing Rosenzweig in the match, while the likes of Lauren Daniel and Amber Ward provide the offensive run out of the back half. North Adelaide have the experience in big games and go in deserving favourites, but the Bulldogs look to have built on last season and will be up for the fight.

SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 1 – West Adelaide quintuplet lead the way

IN a new addition to our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s coverage for 2020, we have crunched the numbers and gazed across the four games to come up with a hypothetical Team of the Week. Our Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Week features a 24-player team with 18 on the field and six on the bench, allowing for exceptional performances. For Round 1, West Adelaide has a remarkable five players in our Team of the Week, with an even spread across the league with five other teams recording three players, and Glenelg and Woodville-West Torrens having two apiece.

The Bloods cover five of the starting places no less, split across the three thirds of the ground, with one defender, two midfielders and two forwards after a consistent team performance. Abbie Ballard racked up a round-high 27 disposals and nine clearances, as well as five marks (one contested), four tackles and three inside 50s to be our vice-captain for the week. Joining her in the midfield is Rachelle Martin who returned from AFL Women’s to have 15 disposals, 11 tackles and five clearances, while Keeley Kustermann slots in at half-back after a solid showing in defence. Up forward, Zoe Venning had 17 disposals and worked hard up the ground for three clearances, two inside 50s and five tackles, while Melanie Elsegood played deep and booted two goals from five scoring shots.

The captain in our Team of the Week is South Adelaide’s Montana McKinnon who was unlucky to miss out on a spot in Adelaide’s AFL Women’s side, but with the performance she put out, it will not be long before she forces her way in. The 18-year-old racked up a remarkable 18 disposals, 7 marks (five contested), two tackles, 20 hitouts, four clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds in the Panthers’ narrow win over the Eagles. She will be amongst familiar faces with midfielder, Czenya Cavouras on the wing after racking up an equal round second-highest 20 disposals, as well as 11 tackles, six clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while teenager Indy Tahau earned an onball spot thanks to 17 disposals, four tackles, three hitouts, eight clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds.

The last starting midfielder in the side is Sturt’s co-captain Georgia Bevan, who is joined in the side by co-captain Maya Rigter, and centre half-back, Hannah Prenzler. Bevan had 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances and three rebounds in the Double Blues’ loss to West Adelaide, while Rigter was her partner-in-crime through the midfield with 18 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and two clearances. Prenzler stood tall under fierce pressure with 12 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and two rebounds. Filling out the other key defensive position is Kristi Harvey who returned to North Adelaide from Carlton’s VFL side this season. She was steadfast in her strength and approach, having five rebounds to go with nine disposals and two marks. Other Roosters who made the side were Cristie Castle – who booted two goals from 17 disposals, six marks (three contested), five clearances and four inside 50s – and Lauren Daniel who made her way onto the bench after 14 disposals, five marks, two tackles, two clearances and two rebounds.

In a game of multiple impressive individual performances, both Central District and Norwood registered three players apiece. The Bulldogs had defender, Demi Sonneman record 13 disposals and six rebounds up one end, while Katelyn Rosenzweig booted four goals from seven disposals and three marks (one contested) up the other to be the leading goalkicker for the round. Shelby Smith racked up 20 touches and had three marks (one contested), two inside 50s and three rebounds to be the third Bulldog to make the side. For the Redlegs, forward Jo Hill made the starting squad after 11 disposals, two marks, five hitouts, three clearances and two goals, while Bella Smith and Matilda Zander both squeeze onto the bench. Smith had 10 disposals, five marks (two contested), two tackles, six hitouts and five inside 50s, while Zander had 20 touches, six marks, four tackles, two clearances and two rebounds and was unlucky to miss a starting spot but the midfield was stacked.

The two sides with just the two representatives are Woodville-West Torrens and Glenelg. The Eagles’ Tesharna Maher made the squad in the back pocket after 10 disposals, three tackles and an impressive six rebounds, while Alison Evans was her sides’ highest ball winner and will come off the bench following 15 touches, three marks, eight tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds. For the Tigers, Madisyn Freeman‘s run-and-carry from her 14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, four clearances and two rebounds saw her make the side off half-back, while up forward, Sam Franson had 16 disposals, two marks (one contested), six tackles and two inside 50s.

In terms of unlucky players, the first emergency would be Norwood’s Leah Cutting with the ruck the most unluckiest not to be picked. She had a second highest total of hitouts with 19, as well as five marks and six tackles, but with the squad balance there were a number of part-time rucks who would assist McKinnon in that area. Along with Cutting, West Adelaide’s Kasia Culhane booted two goals from 12 touches, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s, while South Adelaide’s Teah Charlton was also solid with 14 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s. Others considered for the team this week were Norwood’s Mattea Breed, Shai Hiscock and Lindsay Bigg, North Adelaide’s Leah Tynan and Kelly Barltrop, Central District’s Kimberley Fry, Abbey Scheer and Latiah Huynh, West Adelaide’s Emma Smith, Woodville-West Torrens’ Jaimi Tabb and Glenelg’s Soriah Moon.

DC SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 1

B: Tesharna Maher (WWT) – Kristi Harvey (NA) – Demi Sonneman (CD)
HB: Madisyn Freeman (GL) – Hannah Prenzler (ST) – Keeley Kustermann (WA)
C: Czenya Cavouras (SA) – Abbie Ballard (WA – vc) – Georgia Bevan (ST)
HF: Jo Hill (NW) – Cristie Castle (NA) – Zoe Venning (WA)
F: Melanie Elsegood (WA) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Sam Franson (GL)
R: Montana McKinnon (SA – c) – Rachelle Martin (WA) – Indy Tahau (SA)
INT: Lauren Daniel (NA) – Alison Evans (WWT) – Maya Rigter (ST) – Bella Smith (NW) – Shelby Smith (CD) – Matilda Zander (NW)

EMG: Leah Cutting (NW), Kasia Culhane (WA), Teah Charlton (SA)

SANFL Women’s review: Round 1 – Panthers survive scare as Bulldogs topple Redlegs

IN a huge first round of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, the reigning premiers just escaped a fierce battle against last year’s wooden spooners, while fellow bottom two side from 2019, Central District claimed a confidence-boosting win over last year’s minor premiers, Norwood.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.2 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 4.4 (28)
WWT EAGLES 1.0 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.6 (24)

GOALS:

South: L. Buchanan, J. Kirk, K. Nijhuis, C. Wilson.
Eagles: M. Cavallaro, N. Collie, J. Zecevic.

DISPOSALS:

South: C. Cavouras 20, M. McKinnon 18, I. Tahau 17, J. Smith 15
Eagles: A. Evans 15

Reigning premiers, South Adelaide survived an almighty scare from Woodville-West Torrens to post a win in its opening game of the season. Heading into the match, the Panthers were strong favourites despite so much off-season turnover with a number of players earning places on AFL Women’s lists. Montana McKinnon was available for South in this game however, while Jaimi Tabb ran out for the Eagles after missing out on Crows selection as well.

The match started relatively as expected with Lauren Buchanan and Kelli Nijhuis both booting goals, the latter of whom was on debut prompting much celebration. The celebrations did not last long though, with Nicole Collie breaking through with a major for the Eagles, before Madison Bennett missed a couple of chances on goal. In a surprise to the home fans, the Eagles showed they were well and truly up for the fight, booting two goals to zero in the second term, courtesy of Jovanka Zecevic and 21-year-old debutant, Mikayla Cavallaro. The quarter put the underdogs up by a goal at the main break, but four minutes in and the scores were level again thanks to a Jess Kirk major for the Panthers. Callie Wilson regained some breathing space for South Adelaide with a major midway through the term, and then an arm-wrestle ensured for the remainder of the contest. Neither side could find the big sticks, with five behinds in the last quarter – four to the Eagles with the breeze, and it meant they fell agonisingly short of an inaugural win and massive upset.

South Adelaide had a kick-first mentality that seemed to work, with 35 more disposals, with 65 per cent of those 204 disposals being kicks, while the Eagles had a much lower 56.7 per cent from 171 disposals. It was the outside marking ability of the Panthers that really stood out, taking 37 marks to 18, eight of which were contested. They also won the hitouts (24-20), clearances (26-17) and inside 50s (31-25), but you could not take the defensive pressure out of the contest with the Eagles winning the tackle (73-59) and rebound 50 (25-22) counts.

McKinnon was absolutely sensational and would have given the Crows’ coaching staff plenty to think about, amassing 18 disposals, 20 hitouts, seven marks (five contested), six inside 50s, two tackles and two rebounds in a clear best on ground performance. Working hard through the midfield roving the teenagers’ taps were fellow teens, Indy Tahau and Teah Charlton. The pair combined for 31 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s and nine marks in a combination that will no doubt be on show at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships later in the year. Czenya Cavouras‘ ball-winning ways continued with 20 touches, 11 tackles and six clearances to be the next best after McKinnon, while Jaslynne Smith (15 disposals, seven rebounds) was superb in defence.

For the Eagles, Allison Evans had a team-high 15 touches, three marks, eight tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Sophie Zuill finished with 13 disposals, eight tackles and two clearances. Providing a hard edge along with that duo was Tabb, who finished the game with 12 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and three rebounds, but was unlucky not to boot a goal in the game, finishing with two behinds. Tesharna Maher was really prominent defending in the back half, having a team-high six rebounds to go with 10 touches and three tackles, while Adele Gibson was fluent in midfield, with four inside 50s, five tackles and 10 disposals.

In the end it was just the overall class of the Panthers and star-stuffed top dozen players that helped them get over the line against a plucky Eagles outfit. Woodville-West Torrens will be better for the run, and come up against a vulnerable Norwood next week at Hisense Stadium, while South Adelaide faces Sturt back at Flinders University Stadium again in a match they should be strong favourites for too.

NORTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 5.4 | 6.4 | 7.4 (46)
GLENELG 1.4 | 1.4 | 2.9 | 2.10 (22)

GOALS:

North: K. Barltrop 2, C. Castle, H. Ewings, T. Gordon, K. Reynolds, L. Tynan.
Glenelg: J. Bates, J. Bradley.

DISPOSALS:

North: C. Castle 17
Glenelg: S. Franson 16

A hungry North Adelaide side desperate for redemption following last year’s SANFL Women’s Grand Final loss sent a message to the rest of the competition with a four-goal victory over an inaccurate Glenelg side. Six unanswered goals from the 12th minute of the first term through to the 12th minute of the third term handed the Roosters the win, and showed exactly why they could well be the team to beat in season 2020.

It was a mid-morning game on Saturday and Jordana Bradley was the first player to seize the moment, pouncing on a goal for the Tigers to put her side in front. For the majority of the first term, Glenelg dominated, booting 1.4 and looking like they would really build a strong lead. Unfortunately inaccuracy plagued them – as it would throughout the contest, and instead thanks to a Leah Tynan goal midway through the term, the Tigers only led by four points at the first break. Any doubts about the Roosters’ premiership credentials were soon put to bed with a massive four-goal second term, booting 4.4 to 0.0 to run away with a 24-point lead at half-time. Last year’s competition leading goalscorer, Kelly Barltrop got on the board for the first time in season 2020 with a couple of goals, while Hannah Ewings and Cristie Castle both booted majors. All three players could have had more, with Ewings missing a couple of chances and Barltrop and Castle also missing the opportunity for an additional major. With the breeze again in the third term, it was up to Glenelg to make the most of it, but four consecutive behinds in the first 10 minutes of the quarter stung deep. When Tayla Gordon converted the Roosters’ sixth consecutive goal, it was like a dagger to the heart. Jessica Bates managed to boot a drought-breaking major a minute later, but the result was decided. Kathryn Reynolds booted a fourth quarter goal – the only one from either side – to help North Adelaide record a 24-point win.

Despite the lop-sided result, it was largely the second term that decided the match, with Glenelg largely matching it with the Roosters across the statistics. The Tigers had three more disposals – and looked to utilise their kicking ability more – with a 73 per cent disposal efficiency, while laying seven more tackles (41-34). They won the hitouts (23-15) and clearances (22-15), but their decision making once inside 50 needed improvement with just two goals from 12 chances – an additional scoring shot to their opponents. The Roosters showed that despite not playing at their best and being beaten in the midfield, they were able to put away a side by four goals, and still show the damaging firepower they have at their disposal which was a feature of their game in 2019.

Castle was a real inspiration in the forward half and through midfield, winning a game-high 17 disposals and five clearances, as well as taking six marks – three contested and four inside 50s. Lauren Daniel was predictably busy around the ground with 14 disposals, five marks, two clearances and two rebounds, while Adrienne Davis had 13 touches, four marks, three tackles and a clearance. All eyes were on Bek Rasheed in the ruck, with the debutant continuing on the famous family ties – father Mick Redden is the club’s games record holder – with the red and white, having 14 hitouts in the bulk of the ruckload, while also helping herself to seven disposals, three clearances, two tackles and two inside 50s. Barltrop booted two goals, but also had three marks and two tackles, while up the other end, Kristi Harvey marked her return from Carlton’s VFL Womens’ side with nine disposals, two marks and five rebounds playing at full-back. Tynan also had a notable game, amassing 12 touches, four marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds, two clearances, two tackles and a goal.

For Glenelg, youngster Madisyn Freeman looked impressive through the midfield, buzzing around with 14 touches, two marks, four clearances, two tackles, two rebounds and one inside 50, only bettered by Sam Franson who looked fierce through the middle, racking up 16 touches, two marks, six tackles and two inside 50s in her first performance back for 2020. Lucy Earl had 13 kicks which were her total amount of disposals, spreading nicely and trying to create run with five marks and three rebounds out of the back half. Tessa Kohn was one of Glenelg’s most prominent midfielders with the debutant looking good thanks to 12 disposals, four clearances, three inside 50s and two tackles. Also making her debut and holding her own against fellow debutant Rasheed, ruck Soriah Moon had 15 hitouts to accompany 10 disposals, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s.

Overall it was a promising, yet not quite perfect performance for the Roosters who once they click across four quarters will be hard to stop. North Adelaide travels to X Convience Oval once again in Round 2, this time being the genuine visiting side against a Central District outfit that looked impressive in Round 1. Glenelg on the other hand takes on West Adelaide at Hisense Stadium in the first game of a double header at the ground on Friday night.

STURT 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 2.3 (15)
WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 2.5 | 4.6 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS:

Sturt: A. Ballard, A. Ladas.
West: K. Culhane 2, M. Elsegood 2, Z. Venning.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

Sturt: G. Bevan 19, M. Rigter 18
West: A. Ballard 27, Z. Venning 17, R. Martin 15

An absolutely inspired performance from pocket rocket, Abbie Ballard has propelled West Adelaide to an opening round win over Sturt. The Westies always looked in control, but stepped it up in the second half to boot three goals to two, restricting the Double Blues to just five scoring shots for the entire match. It was an imposing performance from the West Adelaide line-up that looked desperate to undo the wrongs of last season where the Bloods narrowly missed out on finals. Fast forward to the start of 2020, and they look ready and raring to go for a big season ahead.

The first half was largely anticlimactic for the neutral as West Adelaide completely dominated its opponent. Kasia Culhane kicked the first goal of the match six minutes into the game, before a goal early in the second term to Melanie Elsegood was the only other major in a low-scoring half of action. Elsegood had chances to add to her total with a couple of behinds either side of her goal in the first half, while West Adelaide’s fierce pressure provided plenty of forward entries, four consecutive behinds meant the Westies were not getting value for money going forward. Ally Ladas finally broke the drought for the Double Blues in the opening two minutes of the third term, albeit with a behind, before business returned to normal as Culhane and Elsegood both booted their second goals to race out to a 29-point advantage at the final break. Something clicked in Sturt to start the last term, as co-captains Maya Rigter and Georgia Bevan both had chances in the opening few minutes but missed, while Ladas broke through with her first goal, joined by Alex Ballard four minutes later. The margin was back to 15 points and there was an air of uncertainty about the result for the first time since before the game, though Zoe Venning soon put that to rest with a goal midway through the term to solidify a 5.6 (36) to 2.3 (15) victory.

West Adelaide dominated the clearances and inside 50s which was where the game was won, as the Westies doubled Sturt’s clearances (30-15) and almost doubled the inside-50 count (24-13). This came off the back of Sturt actually dominating the ruck contest (28 hitouts to 15), and taking more marks around the ground (46-20). They used the ball more efficiently with a 68 per cent record on the day, but the Double Blues could not win enough of the ball around stoppages and give their forwards enough chances in front of goal. Their effort and intensity was certainly there, but the Bloods were too strong around the clinches.

In what was not only a best on ground performance, but a Player of the Round performance, Ballard had an absolute field day out on X Convenience Oval, racking up 27 disposals, five marks – one contested – nine clearances, four tackles and three inside 50s. To put that in perspective, Sturt only had 15 clearances, six more than Ballard alone. Her partner-in-crime, Rachelle Martin looked very impressive coming back from her debut with Adelaide as the top-up injury player, amassing 15 disposals, five clearances, a game-high 11 tackles and two inside 50s to support Ballard on the inside. Venning’s late goal capped off a strong performance of 17 disposals, two marks, five tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s, while Keeley Kustermann worked hard around the ground on debut with 14 disposals, two marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds. To go with her two goals, Culhane also had 12 touches, two marks, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Elsegood could have had a real day out with straighter kicking, booting 2.3 from 10 disposals and two marks – one contested.

It was no surprise to see co-captains, Bevan and Rigter lead from the front. Bevan had a team-high 19 disposals, as well as two marks, six tackles, three clearances and three rebounds, while Rigter helped herself to 18 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and two clearances.  In a career-high, Rachel Dunstan‘s homecoming to Sturt – the side she had played with in 2018 before her local club Woodville-West Torrens gained a team and she moved – proved fruitful with the young talent having 11 touches, two marks and two rebounds – five more disposals than any other game last season. Teenager Zoe Prowse showed she will only continue to get better with time, having 11 touches, eight hitouts, three clearances and two inside 50s, working in tandem with ruck Stephanie Ratliff (16 hitouts).

In Round 2, both sides face off in Friday night encounters as West Adelaide returns home to Hisense Stadium where the bloods host Glenelg to try and continue their winning run, while Sturt heads to Flinders University Stadium to take on reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
NORWOOD 1.1 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

Central: K. Rosenzweig 4, M. Lane.
Norwood: J. Hill 2, L. Bigg, J. Halfpenny.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

Central: S. Smith 20, L. Huynh 15
Norwood: M. Zander 20, A. Ferrall 15

It is often said that the gap is closing between the best and worst sides in the competition, and that could not be more true in the SANFL Women’s considering the results in Round 1. While the winless Eagles from 2019 almost toppled the reigning premiers, last year’s second bottom side and fellow inaugural outfit, Central District defeated one of the premier sides of the past three years in Norwood. With a new coach, an almost entirely new midfield group and a high turnover of players due to the success of the Redlegs, Norwood went down to a determined Central District outfit, led by Katelyn Rosenzweig in a come-from-behind win.

Norwood was the first team on the board during the match with Jo Hill getting an early goal two minutes in which followed from an Isabel Martin behind. The visitors were already looking dangerous but the Bulldogs settled down the tempo as Rosenzweig had a chance but missed early, and a dour first term came to an end at 1.1 to 0.1. It was not long before the crowd got up and about in the second term with Madison Lane converting a major two minutes into the quarter. Lindsay Bigg soon responded for the Redlegs and both sides had multiple chances to add to their totals, but in the end it was Norwood up by seven points. What happened next was a mixture of shock and elation for the X Convenience crowd as their Bulldogs – or more accurately Rosenzweig – piled on four of the next five goals to race out to an eight-point lead five minutes into the final term. Hill had added her second goal to briefly grab back the lead midway through the second quarter, but it was not until Jade Halfpenny finally broke the drought in the ninth minute of the final term that Norwood could get back on track. But in a twist, it would not be enough for the favourites, as the Bulldogs held on despite fierce pressure to record a narrow four-point win and start their season off on the right foot.

Unsurprisingly despite a new-look group the Redlegs still played a possession brand of football with 23 more disposals (211-178) and tried to use quick handballs and run to move the ball going forward. They had a whopping 30 more marks (55-25) and were too strong in the air (7-2 contested), as well as dominating the hitouts (32-11) and inside 50s (28-21). The Bulldogs defensive unit – which was underrated last season given the high amount of inside 50s its opposition was getting – played incredibly well with 22 rebounds to 14, whilst the Bulldogs laid 54 tackles to 38. The home side also used the ball better (68-65 per cent) and were more efficiency with five goals from eight chances compared to four from nine.

While the statistics might have looked like Norwood should have been on top, Rosenzweig’s finishing ability – 4.1 from seven touches and three marks – one contested – was the difference and she will prove to be hard to stop not only each game, but for the leading goalkicker trophy overall. Shelby Smith was terrific for the Bulldogs on debut with the 28-year-old having an equal game-high 20 touches, as well as five clearances, three marks and three tackles, getting back to help the defence with three rebounds and getting forward for two inside 50s. Latiah Huynh had her share of the ball with 15 disposals, two marks, two tackles and two inside 50s, while Demi Sonneman played at a high level in defence, racking up six rebounds and 13 touches on the day. Youngster Kimberley Fry had 11 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds, while Abbey Scheer was also strong defensively with 11 touches, six tackles and three rebounds.

One of the few remaining midfielders from last season, Matilda Zander stepped up in the absence of Najwa Allen, Hannah Dunn and Ebony O’Dea, picking up an equal game-high 20 disposals, as well as six marks, four tackles, two clearances and two rebounds. Alison Ferrall had 15 disposals and six inside 50s running hard on the outside, while Lindsay Bigg and tall utility, Mattea Breed both had 14 touches and three clearances, as well as combining for seven inside 50s and five tackles. Sophie Armitstead was another consistent performer with 12 disposals, three tackles and four clearances, while Hill (11 disposals, two marks, five hitouts and three clearances) and Bella Smith (10 disposals, five marks – two contested – two tackles, six hitouts and five inside 50s) aided ruck, Leah Cutting (eight disposals, five marks, six tackles and 19 hitouts well.

Looking ahead to Round 2, Central District faces North Adelaide in a battle of the two most impressive sides from the opening round – at X Convenience Oval – while Norwood has to back up and look to knock off the Eagles at Hisense Stadium on Friday night.

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 1 – Triple header on Saturday the highlight

AFTER a long wait, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition has returned with the eight sides battling it out for a chance at the title. Six of the eight teams have lost players to the AFL Women’s competition, with Norwood and South Adelaide the hardest hit. The Panthers begin their premiership defence against last year’s wooden spooners at home, while a triple header greets the remaining six teams at X Convenience Oval on Saturday.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Friday, February 14, 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

The standalone game on Friday night sees the opposite ends of the ladder from last season face off. South Adelaide will be able to unfurl its 2019 premiership flag – possibly alongside its 2018 one – as it welcomes 2019 wooden spooners Woodville-West Torrens to Flinders University Stadium. Last season this match might have been considered a no-brainer, and considering the occasion, the Panthers will head in as heavy favourites. However the Eagles will be better prepared in 2020 than 12 months ago, so it will be fascinating to see how they fare this season.

To make the match balance more towards the equilibrium is the fact the Panthers have lost a number of quality players to the AFL Women’s competition. Montana McKinnon and Nicole Campbell were both drafted to Adelaide and could still play games at state level, though with their talent and the Crows’ injury crisis, it will not always be the case. Hannah Munyard was picked up by the Western Bulldogs, while Cheyenne Hammond has already donned the red and gold up in the Sunshine State for the SUNS, so neither will feather this year for the reigning premiers. Aside from the four exits, six others have departed the club, meaning the turnover will see a very different line-up in 2020. Three former Panthers have returned to the club with Louella McCarthy (St Kilda VFLW), Lucy Northcott (knee) and Nicole Mark (maternity leave) all coming in, as well Tahlia Meyer crossing from rivals Norwood.

The Eagles have also lost a number of players, predominantly to SANFL Women’s rivals with Hannah Scholar and Taylor Hand heading to the Bloods, Jo Baltias, Rachel Dunstan and Aajiah Jerico to Sturt. The two biggest losses could be Natasha Farrier heading to ice hockey, and AFL Women’s Under-18 All Australian member Jaimi Tabb drafted to the Crows. She has already made her debut at AFL Women’s level, but could feature at some point depending on the Crows’ selection. Three players have joined the Eagles, with Rebecca Catterall coming over from Central District, Ali Evans from West Adelaide and Nicole Collie from North Adelaide which should provide some fresh faces on the field.

Both McKinnon and Campbell have been named in the Crows’ side for Round 2, with the Panthers unveiling as many nine new players named in the extended side. The Eagles also have plenty of fresh faces, with seven players coming in, while Tabb has been named in the center, though is also named in the Crows’ side on the extended bench. The young forward line duo of Kiana Lee and Teagan Usher will be one to watch, while up the other end, Teah Charlton is South Australia’s top Under-18 talent and will be one who can break a game open and with the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Indy Tahau in the midfield, expect the Panthers to be a bit too strong.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 15, 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Opening up the first of a triple header at X Convenience Oval are two finalists from last year going head-to-head in what is predicted to be the match of the round. Both these sides have lost talent to the AFL Women’s so will look to their depth in order to provide the same impact at SANFL Women’s level. The Roosters went all the way to the SANFL Women’s Grand Final last season before falling to the Panthers – knocking out an Ebony Marinoff-inspired Tigers’ outfit on the way through to the deciding match. Glenelg looked down and out with a few weeks remaining in the season, but found the will to not give in, winning the last few matches and qualifying for fourth spot by pipping West Adelaide at the post.

In 2020, the Tigers will be without a couple of talls in Caitlin Gould and Lucy Bellinger, both of whom provided good presence around the ground and an ability to hit the scoreboard. With Brooke Trevena and Ellen Fauser also unavailable due to maternity leave, the Tigers will be short a few of the players that really them reach the post-season series. South Adelaide duo, Emily Woods and Grace Duffy will provide some great insight from the back-to-back premiers and earn more game time in the yellow and black, while Rachel Aistrope and Jessica Bates are two players who have come into the side after impressing at lower levels. They showed last season they have the defensive structures to keep sides to low scores, and if they can continue that blueprint into this season it will hold them in good stead.

For the Roosters, they have also been hit hard by their success with two of their best players heading up to the elite level and will not feature at this level again in 2020. Nadia Von Bertouch – who unfortunately did her knee on debut for St Kilda and will miss the season – was a natural leader, captaining the side to the grand final, while Brittany Perry has already had an influence for the SUNS up there. The Roosters have lost further experience with the retirements of Jane Altschwager and Emma Sampson, while Elysha Willis has turned her attention to her netball. A big including for the side will be the return of Kristi Harvey who impressed in her time at Carlton VFLW, joining the likes of Panther Mollie McKendrick, Blood Taylor Gordon and Redleg Stana Zecevic and Northern Territory’s Elise Fenna making the trip down.

The Roosters have opted for Harvey to hold down full-back in this match, with last year’s leading goalkicker, Kelly Barltrop the other bookend. She is hard to stop when on song, and with Cristie Castle, Ashleigh Woodland and Amber Ward rounding out the spine, the Roosters are predicted to be very strong again. Of all the players to run out in the red and white, it would be hard for anyone to beat 38-year-old Bek Rasheed‘s story. The daughter of club great and games record holder Mick Redden, Rasheed will make her debut at the club as starting ruck with the 42 guernsey that her father wore over his 379 games. Looking over Glenelg’s Round 1 side, youngster Madisyn Freeman will be a key talent coming off half-back, joining forces with Lucy Armitage in defence, while Sam Franson up the other end could apply some scoreboard pressure. Despite the departures, North still seems like a genuine contender so will start as favourite here.

STURT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 15, 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

Last year’s fifth and sixth go at it in the second game at X Convenience Oval with the Double Blues taking on the Bloods. West Adelaide came agonisingly close to finals in 2019 but were narrowly shafted in the final round as the Tigers leapt up and claimed fourth. Sturt on the other hand showed signs early in the season – including a low-scoring win over Glenelg – but were ultimately not able to roll anyone else other than the two expansion sides in other matches. Of all sides heading into the new season, Sturt has been relatively untouched in terms of departures, while the Bloods also have a number of additions likely to strengthen its squad to make a run at the finals in 2020.

Sturt only has two confirmed departures from last season, with Lilla Berry and Della Griffith travelling overseas and focusing on other sports respectively. The Double Blues were one of only two sides – with Central District – not to lose a player to the AFL Women’s competition through the draft. They have managed to pick up some of the Eagles’ depth in Baltias, Dunstan and Jerico, while finding a couple of X-factors in cross-coders, Ally Ladas (soccer) and Stephanie Ratliff (basketball). Louise Firth makes the step up to the SANFL Women’s from Scotch Old Collegians, and then there’s an extra year of development into the Double Blues’ youngsters such as Zoe Prowse. Based on the changes to the list, the experience gained and the inclusions, Sturt could move up in the right direction with a number of its rivals losing quality players over the off-season.

For the Westies, Madison Newman and Chelsea Biddell were both drafted into the AFL Women’s in last year’s draft and will only be available when not running around with the Crows. Much like the other draftees, based on Adelaide’s lengthy injury list and the fact that some like Newman had outstanding debuts, you cannot expect them to always be available for state league level. Evans is one of three others to depart the club with Gordon heading north and the experienced Leah Swain off due to maternity leave. Coming into the team is a couple of Eagles in Hand and Scholar, as well as Norwood’s Zoe Greer and returning from NT Thunder, Rachael Killian. Her experience from the VFL Women’s competition will be important and expect her to player a crucial role. Kate Walsh is the other addition to the side, coming up from SMOSH West Lakes to try her hand at the top level in South Australia.

Five players will make their debuts in the Double Blues, while former Eagle Dunstan has been named in the back pocket. The midfield combination of Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter will make it challenging for the opposition, while Alex Ballard and Lucy Griffith have been named on opposing wings. They take on Greer, youngster Abbie Ballard and Rachelle Martin onball, with the latter of whom has one of the more interesting footballing stories already this year. She got the chance to represent the Crows at the elite level in Round 1 due to the mounting injury toll, and no doubt that experience will hold her in good stead here. West Adelaide will likely be favourite for the depth across the ground such as full-forward Melanie Elsegood who can help kick a winning score, but this is predicted to be the best game of the round.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, February 15, 2.10pm
X Convenience Oval

The game fans at X Convenience Oval will be waiting for is the return to the SANFL Women’s competition of Central District. The only side playing at its home ground during the triple header, the Bulldogs will hope to improve on their seventh placed finish in 2019 with a tough challenge up first. The Redlegs have been one of the most successful teams in the SANFL Women’s era, having won a flag then finishing runner-up and claiming the minor premiership last year before a semi-final exit. They always find a way to be there at the pointy end of the season, though 2020 will provide a new challenge given the amount of departures – including a change of coach – as talent breeds talent.

From the Bulldogs’ perspective, just Catterall (Woodville-West Torrens) and Courtney Jensen (work) have departed the club, with a quartet of relatively unknown quantities coming into the club from the next tier down in South Australian football. Abbie Thomas, Shelby Smith, Madison Kalleske and Hannah Bevington have opted to don the red, white and blue for season 2020 and while they might not have SANFL Women’s experience, the Bulldogs are growing a good young list to compete over the next few seasons.

Norwood on the other hand, has had a high turnover of players due to its successful few years, led by last year’s league best and fairest winner, Najwa Allen drafted by the Crows. Hannah Dunn has already made her debut for Gold Coast SUNS, as has Hannah Priest at St Kilda, while Ebony O’Dea joined former coach Steve Symonds at Collingwood through the AFL Women’s Draft. These departures coupled with the fact Monique Hollick has headed overseas for work, Jane Fitzgerald has retired and a trio of others have left in search of an increased role means the Redlegs will be a very different looking outfit in 2020. Chloe Meyer has joined the club from the Simon Black Academy, while Georgia Avery and Shanae Walker are another couple of inclusions to try and replace those out of the side.

The Bulldogs will head into the new season confident they can cause an upset against a new-look Norwood side. With Katelyn Rosenzweig up forward, the Sonneman sisters (Demi and Jayme-Lee) down back with Kimberley Fry, they will likely benefit from last year’s experience. For the Redlegs, they still have talent all across the park, but the midfield is largely different to its dominant one from last season, with Elisha Gallagher, young star Bella Smith and Michele Reid now replacing Allen, Dunn and O’Dea. Sophie Armistead will help hold down defence with Jo Hill to try and contain the dangerous Bulldogs’ forwards. This is an intriguing game because the Redlegs have the depth from last season to still compete, but it will almost be like being a brand new side again, while Central has remained relatively the same which should excite fans going forward.