Tag: Lauren Ahrens

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Roos book finals spot with clutch win over Dockers

NORTH Melbourne has produced a clutch performance to come from behind and defeat Fremantle at Arden Street and secure a 2021 AFL Women’s finals spot. The Roos trailed by five points at the final break, but kicked the only goal of the last quarter to grind out a win, 4.6 (30) to 4.5 (29) over the finals-bound Dockers. The win meant North Melbourne held off seventh placed Carlton to secure the post-season series wrap, and confirm the finalists for this year.

Back at their spiritual home, North Melbourne took just 57 seconds to kick the first goal of the game off the boot of Sophie Abbatangelo and race off to a six-point lead. Despite the early goal, it was a tight armwrestle for the first term, with just an Emma O’Driscoll behind added to the scoreboard, and the final 15 minutes seeing neither team add to their total. North Melbourne led by five points at the first break, and much like the first term, were out to a flyer in the second. This time it took less than 90 seconds to convert their second goal, this time through Daria Bannister off a perfectly timed crumb, and the lead was out to two straight kicks. In eerily similar circumstances, the Dockers again hit back with a score at the three-minute mark, but this time it was through the big sticks off Gemma Houghton running into goal.

Beth Lynch missed a chance 90 seconds later to respond, and it was Gabby O’Sullivan who capitalised via a free kick for push in the back midway through the term to cut the half-time deficit to just one point. It was neck-and-neck at the main break as neither side could really break away. The key for the Dockers was not allowing North Melbourne another early goal in the third term, and trying to grab the momentum themselves. But alas for the visitors, Jasmine Garner was the first one to create a major, in the first four minutes, and the gap widened to eight as the Roos were edging closer to a finals berth.

Fremantle refused to give in though, and created their own chances in the third quarter with Kiara Bowers being her usual self after being allowed to play in the crucial contest, kicking a goal midway through the quarter. That major cut the deficit to just two points, and when Kara Antonio goaled in the dying minutes of the quarter, Fremantle was out to a five-point lead. The Dockers held that advantage heading into three quarter time, and the onus was on the home side to return fire if the Roos wanted to play finals in 2021.

A Roxy Roux behind in the opening minute was a chance gone begging after a massive contested mark for the Dockers as they came out firing, and the lead was a team-high six points. Three consecutive behinds over the next eight minutes had plenty of nervous moments for the home fans, as North Melbourne slowly clawed its way back into the contest. Daisy Bateman became the hero with a goal in the tenth minute of the term, with her major putting her side three points up after being knocked over going for the mark. It would not be completely done and dusted just yet, as Fremantle would throw everything at the Roos in the last eight minutes to try and win the game. Ironically it would be Bateman again up the opposite end who would again play the role of hero, almost handing the ball across the line in the dying moments, waiting to be tackled for pressure, and it was enough to secure the one-point win.

Ash Riddell was unbelievable in the win, racking up 33 disposals, three tackles and seven inside 50s to lead all-comers, while Garner (24 disposals, six marks, three tackles, three inside 50s, two rebound 50s and a goal) and Emma Kearney (24 disposals, two tackles and six inside 50s) were also prolific. Bateman’s clutch efforts late were important in getting her side over the line, while Bannister (11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and a goal) and Emma King (eight disposals, three marks, two tackles and 23 hitouts) were also among the best on the day.

For the Dockers, Bowers was relentless throughout, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, two inside 50s, five rebound 50s and laying seven tackles. Stephanie Cain (14 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Tiah Haynes (14 disposals, three marks and four tackles) were also impressive, while the experience of O’Sullivan (nine disposals, four marks and a goal) and Kara Antonio (nine disposals, two marks, four tackles and a goal) was vital.

North Melbourne’s win means the Roos will finish sixth, but their opponent is yet to be determined. Collingwood plays Adelaide today, and if the Pies get up, the Roos will remain in Melbourne to face the Demons, whilst if Adelaide get up, the margin will depend on whether or not they head to South Australia, Queensland, or remain in Victoria to face the Magpies in the first week of finals. For the Dockers, they are in a similar boat, with fifth place secured, and as of now will head to South Australia if the Crows lose to the Magpies, but could face the Demons in Melbourne if Adelaide wins against Collingwood.

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0 | 2.2 | 3.3 | 4.6 (30)
FREMANTLE 0.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo, D. Bannister, J. Garner, D. Bateman.
Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, G. Houghton, K. Bowers, K. Antonio.

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: A. Riddell, J. Garner, E. Kearney, D. Bateman, E. King
Fremantle: K. Bowers, S. Cain, T. Haynes, G. O’Sullivan, E. Antonio

 

Picture credit: Robert Cianflone / AFL Photos

 

Image credit: Getty Images

DEMONS CLINCH HOME FINAL FROM LIONS’ CLUTCHES

IT was a two-point ball-game that decided the AFL Women’s top five on Saturday afternoon, as Melbourne pipped Brisbane Lions at the post in a huge battle for a home final next week. Whilst the Lions commanded possession and retained control for much of the middle two thirds, the final quarter was all Demons as the red and blue ran home in front of a home crowd, 6.2 (38) to 6.0 (36).

The win was soured by an early injury though, as Dees superstar Daisy Pearce went down with what appeared to be a knee injury within the opening minutes, which saw the side sent into a flurry rotating the roles to suit the loss. Eden Zanker was pushed up through the midfield and had an immediate impact, piling on 12 touches in the first quarter alone as the Lions stayed in touch by a lone goal to be a minor down at the first break. But the second was where the game broke open, with both sides finding the scoreboard with ease and a tantalising contest became apparent. Dakota Davidson was the first to put a goal on the board in the second term before a huge running goal from Courtney Hodder proved the Lions would not back down on the Dees home turf. The Demons bit back with two of their own as Karen Paxman and Shelley Scott pounced on the ground ball, while a second within the term to Davidson proved the two sides had a game on their hands. A goal to Taylor Smith right on the halftime siren saw the Lions head into the second half with a marginal 11-point lead, with players across the field playing their roles and doing it well to create a phenomenal matchup.

The second half began with another tight quarter, as the two sides remained accurate in front of the big sticks with limited opportunity credit to tight defence. Veteran Lauren Arnell got in on the action and piled on another major to extend the lead, before a third Scott goal showed the Dees would not relent, especially with finals on the line. The match really came to blows in the final term though as the red and blue overcame the 11-point margin and turned it into a two-point win, with two straight goals to young guns Alyssa Bannan and Tyla Hanks, popping up at the right time to force the Lions onto the back foot as the physical matchup went to the dying moments, with Greta Bodey afforded a shot on goal after the siren but falling agonisingly short.

The tight matchup was set up by the likes of Zanker and Cathy Svarc, with the opposing duo both relentless in their own way – Zanker with her game-high 25 touches and Svarc with her whopping 21 tackles. Hodder (eight tackles, 10 touches, one goal), Sophie Conway (10 touches, seven tackles) and Ally Anderson (22 touches, six tackles) also provided plenty of hunt for the Lions, as Lily Mithen (23 touches, five marks), Paxman and Kate Hore (both 18 touches) and Lauren Pearce and Maddi Gay (both 17) were well and truly in the match. Hodder and Eliza McNamara were both lively for their respective sides as Scott’s three goals and Davidson’s two paved the way in the huge matchup.

Next week’s finals encounters will be decided by tomorrow’s Round 9 results, with both sides awaiting confirmation given their guaranteed finals entry, although the Dees will be waiting for news on Pearce’s injury.

MELBOURNE 1.1 3.1 4.1 6.2 (38)
BRISBANE 1.0 5.0 6.0 6.0 (36)

GOALS
Melbourne: S. Scott 3, K. Paxman, A. Bannan, T Hanks.
Brisbane: D. Davidson 2, J. Wardlaw, C. Hodder, T. Smith, L. Arnell.

BEST
Melbourne: E. Zanker, S. Scott, L. Mithen, K. Paxman, L. Pearce, K. Hore
Brisbane: C. Svarc, T. Hickie, A. Anderson, O. O’Dwyer, S. Conway, N. Grider

 

Image Credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

GEELONG GETS UP IN BATTLES OF THE WINLESS

GEELONG claimed its first points of season 2021 at the final time of asking, holding off Gold Coast to win by 17 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The result sees Gold Coast finish the season as wooden spooners, becoming just the second side in AFLW history to go winless through a full campaign. The Cats’ three-goal burst in the first quarter set up their salute, as they held strong thereafter to come away 6.5 (41) to 3.6 (24) victors.

The Cats had many reasons to celebrate on the day; with young ruck Rene Caris booting her first senior goal during the opening term, women’s footballing stalwart Aasta O’Connor sent off to retirement in style, and Rebecca Webster‘s goal on the final siren proving the cherry on top of a memorable day for travelling side. On the other hand, Gold Coast could not scrounge a saving grace in what was a season which earned them a series of unwanted records.

First year midfielder Laura Gardiner finished as the winners’ highest ball winner on 18 disposals, one ahead of Amy McDonald who was one of her side’s revelations during 2021. Veteran forward Richelle Cranston was the game’s sole multiple goalkicker with two, while Webster and Olivia Barber were others to prove impactful while hitting the scoreboard.

For Gold Coast, Alison Drennan capped off a terrific individual campaign to lead all comers with 23 touches, as the reliable Lauren Ahrens also fared well for the second year side. Kalinda Howarth tripled her season goal tally in one go with a couple of majors, arcing back to her roots having become an All Australian forward last year.

The 2021 season ends there for both clubs, with just one win between them and plenty to work on heading into the next campaign. With a bunch of exciting youth scattered across either squad, the green shoots have shown and should give these sets of fans plenty more to cheer about going forward.

GOLD COAST 0.1 | 1.3 | 3.3 | 3.6 (24) 
GEELONG 3.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 2, S. Virgo.
Geelong: R. Cranston 2, O. Barber, R. Caris, P. McWilliams, R. Webster.

DC BEST:

Gold Coast: A. Drennan, K. Howarth, L. Ahrens, M. Levi
Geelong: A. McDonald, L. Gardiner, R. Cranston, R. Webster

The ‘Vescio Show’ takes over the Sunshine State

CARLTON star forward Darcy Vescio put on an absolute clinic at Metricon Stadium to lead the Blues to a dominant 60-point win over Gold Coast. Vescio collected 15 disposals and kicked a personal-best five goals in the performance, becoming the first AFLW player to boot 40 career goals in the process. If not for her unselfishness in the second half, Vescio could well have finished with seven or eight majors.

Vescio was well supported by speedster Georgia Gee (13 disposals, two marks), Breann Moody (16 disposals, six marks, one goal) and Grace Egan (19 disposals, four tackles). For the Suns, Alison Drennan (19 disposals, nine tackles) and Lauren Ahrens (18 disposals, four marks, five tackles) worked hard until the final siren.

With a score of 13.9 (87), the Blues broke the AFLW all-time scoring record of 12.14 (86) set by the Western Bulldogs during their premiership-winning 2018 season. This was a must-win clash for Carlton to stay in the finals hunt, and a healthy percentage boost was always going to help their cause. The match marked the first time that Carlton has played outside Victoria this season, so it was going to be interesting to see how they came out of the blocks.

To the shock of many, it was Gold Coast who got off to a flyer. The hosts got the ball out the back of Carlton’s defence very easily in the opening minutes. Firstly, Samantha Virgo got out the back and dribbled through a clever goal on the outside of her boot, and then Maddison Levi sprinted onto the end of a kick over the top to put through the Suns’ second. Carlton’s defence was slow and shaky at the outset, while Gold Coast were getting first hands on the ball in the middle. After Drennan kicked the Suns’ third, Carlton lifted their intensity and were able shift the momentum. Gee produced some brilliant play down the wing to allow Vescio to kick the Blues’ first. Soon after, reigning AFLW Best and Fairest Maddy Prespakis missed a golden opportunity to kick the Blues’ second, so the Suns took a 12-point advantage into quarter time.

Vescio looked more dangerous up forward in the second, kicking two consecutive left foot snaps out of congestion to give the Blues the lead. While the Suns got multiple inside 50s, they were ineffective with their ball use going forward and Carlton’s defence put up much greater resistance. After Vescio missed a chance at her fourth from straight in front, first-year Sun Lucy Single made her pay by using her pace through the middle of the ground and kicking an incredible Goal of the Year contender. Despite this, Natalie Plane kicked a nice goal straight from the next centre clearance to give Carlton back the lead going into the main break.

Vescio opened the third with her fourth goal, and the Suns were immediately on the back foot. This is where Carlton opened up the margin, as they held the Suns goalless in the third term and kicked five goals of their own. Although Gold Coast could get the ball inside 50, Carlton repeatedly had numbers back and counterattacked with force. They went coast-to-coast and Lucy McEvoy steadied to kick her first, then Nicola Stevens took a strong contested mark and kicked truly. When Vescio set up Brooke Walker for another major, Carlton had kicked eight of the last nine goals for the game. Lauren Brazzale extended the Blues’ lead to an unrecoverable margin for Gold Coast at three-quarter time.

The ‘Vescio Show’ continued in the final term, as she took a classic high mark in the goal square and drilled her fifth. She then unselfishly set up ex-Demon Elise O’Dea for a goal with a handball over the top, and Plane kicked her second to bring the Blues to within striking distance of the AFLW scoring record. With under a minute remaining in the contest, Moody became the player to officially break the record by taking a contested mark and kicking truly from a set shot.

For Carlton’s finals hopes to remain alive, they must win their clash against GWS at Blacktown next Sunday and hope for other results to go their way. Meanwhile, Gold Coast will aim to end their difficult season on a high when they take on the bottom-placed Geelong at Metricon on Saturday.

GOLD COAST 3.1 | 4.2 | 4.2 | 4.3 (27)
CARLTON 1.1 | 4.4 | 9.5 | 13.9 (87)

GOALS:
Gold Coast: L. Single, S. Virgo, M. Levi, A. Drennan 1.
Carlton: D. Vescio 5, N. Plane 2, B. Walker, L. McEvoy, B. Moody, N. Stevens, L. Brazzale, E. O’Dea 1.

DC BEST:
Gold Coast: A. Drennan, L. Ahrens, L. Single, K. Howarth, K. Surman.
Carlton: D. Vescio, G. Gee, B. Moody, V. Laloifi, G. Egan.

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

 

For more AFLW news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

Tigers bite back with feisty win against ailing Suns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS

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

ADC BEST

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

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Adelaide lock down St Kilda to claim one-sided victory

ADELAIDE has moved into fourth position on the AFLW ladder with a 53-point drubbing of St Kilda at Norwood Oval on Sunday afternoon. In what was arguably the Crows’ most complete team performance of the season to date, they had contributors all across the ground and dominated the inside 50s (47-8), contested possessions (110-80) and centre clearances (7-4).

Najwa Allen was a standout for the home side, providing plenty of drive off half-back and halting many of St Kilda’s forward thrusts. Ebony Marinoff (23 disposals, nine tackles) and Anne Hatchard (15 disposals, four marks) were powerful at the stoppages, while superstar Erin Phillips (21 disposals, five marks, one goal) showed her usual class in the midfield and up forward. Georgia Patrikios (24 disposals, three marks, three tackles) was exceptional all day for the visitors.

It was a hot footy early, as both sides applied strong tackling pressure and did not allow the other any space. St Kilda defender Bianca Jakobsson was fantastic in the opening term, as she repelled several of Adelaide’s attacks and showed poise with ball in hand. Kate Shierlaw was prominent early as well, but the Saints struggled to get the ball into their forward 50. Chloe Scheer was busy at the stoppages for the Crows, as was Marinoff, who had four tackles in the first quarter alone. Less than 30 seconds before the quarter-time siren, Phillips earned a free kick for a high tackle and kicked the Crows’ first to give them a nine-point lead.

While St Kilda’s pressure dropped off after the first break, Adelaide’s forward 50 pressure increased to new heights. This meant that they were creating many opportunities, with Randall eventually capitalising and kicking the Crows’ second with a nice snap. Soon after, number four pick Teah Charlton shrugged off a tackle and kicked her maiden AFLW goal. Charlton kicked her second just minutes later, proving once again how comfortable she is competing at AFLW level in just her fifth match. Defenders Lisa Whiteley and Sarah Allan continued to be brick walls for Adelaide at half-back, while Eloise Jones and Justine Mules supported them by providing some outstanding run and carry down the wings. Nadia von Bertouch laid a brilliant tackle on Caitlin Gould to save a certain goal, as Adelaide’s lead stayed at 30 points going into the main break. At half time, the Crows led the inside 50 count 29 to 2.

Adelaide’s pressure continued to be too much for the Saints in the third term, especially when they were exiting the defensive 50. Danielle Ponter kicked her first for the day after earning a free kick 15 metres out from goal, then Ashleigh Woodland extended the Crows’ lead with a nice checkside from the pocket. This was Woodland’s fifth goal for the season, a fantastic start to her career in Crows colours. Shierlaw gave Saints fans something to cheer about at the end of the term when she got on the end of some nice ball movement from Patrikios and kicked St Kilda’s first goal for the day.

Ex-Saint Jess Sedunary rubbed some salt in the wound at the start of the last when she kicked truly from a set shot. Despite this, St Kilda played much better in the final term. They started to control the ball well and were much more effective by foot, finding gaps in Adelaide’s zone as they chipped the ball around. The problem was that, outside of Patrikios, the Saints could not facilitate much attacking play through the middle of the ground. In her 32nd AFLW game, Mules made Adelaide fans even happier when she took a contested mark and kicked her first ever AFLW goal from a set shot on a tight angle. From there, St Kilda created some chances but could not kick straight in front of goal. The Crows ran out comfortable winners.

In Round 6, Adelaide will plan on making it three straight wins when they take on the winless Gold Coast at Norwood Oval on Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, St Kilda will come up against Melbourne in what should be a fascinating clash at Casey Fields on Saturday night.

By Tom Cheesman

ADELAIDE | 1.3 | 4.6 | 6.10 | 8.13 (61)
ST KILDA | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:
Adelaide: T. Charlton 2, J. Mules, J. Sedunary, E. Phillips, C. Randall, D. Ponter, A. Woodland 1.
St Kilda: K. Shierlaw 1.

ADC BEST:
Adelaide: E. Marinoff, N. Allen, A. Hatchard, E. Phillips, J. Mules, S. Allan.
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, B. Jakobsson, R. Dillon, T. Lucas-Rodd, C. Phillips, H. Priest.

Image credit: Getty Images

Image credit: Michael Klein

UNDEFEATED MAGPIES OUTCLASS INACCURATE DEMONS

Collingwood showcased their development in a huge clash against Melbourne, which was ultimately do or die for the red and blue side needing to prove they were capable of holding up under pressure. The Pies well and truly got their revenge on the Demons at Victoria Park, running down Melbourne for an excellent 35-point win 7.7 (49) to 1.8 (14). With this win on the board and given Fremantle’s loss on Saturday, the Magpies remain the only undefeated side on the ladder with five straight on the board.

It was the Chloe Molloy and Bri Davey show as the hot Pies ran down the inaccurate Dees, taking advantage of the young side’s slump in form and punishing Melbourne for its inability to put pressure on the scoreboard. Whilst a slow start from both sides set the scene, it was a huge second quarter that not only put Collingwood on the map, but also on the right path as Melbourne struggled to contain the Magpies’ engine room. Molloy’s work rate and ability to find the scoreboard was punishing for the Dees, who defensively could not compete despite continuous efforts from the usually impenetrable Libby Birch and Daisy Pearce. Molloy finished with three goals and partnered well with Davey who booted two of her own to go with a match-high 25 disposals, and whilst Melbourne certainly had its chances – most remarkably in the third, when the Dees lifted but could only manage 1.4 despite dominating possession and momentum – it was not enough as the Magpies commanded control in another three-goal quarter to finish the match. 

Despite sitting out the remainder of the match after a hit to the shoulder in the final quarter, Molloy’s influence could not be quelled as she head to be a three-way equal-leader on the goalkicking leaderboard for the season with nine majors to her name. Britt Bonnici and Jaimee Lambert also proved to be ball magnets in the tough contest with 23 and 21 touches respectively, whilst Melbourne’s Tyla Hanks continued her terrific form with a 22 disposal, six mark and six tackle effort. Lauren Pearce was the lone goalkicker for Melbourne and also nabbed 15 touches, whilst Karen Paxman was kept relatively quiet with 19 touches, and Kate Hore (17 touches), Maddi Gay (12) and Alyssa Bannan were amongst those who failed to hit the scoreboard with two behinds apiece. Collingwood’s Jordan Membrey unfortunately went down with a knee injury, seeing her season in doubt. The Magpies will host fellow in-form side Western Bulldogs next round once more at Victoria Park, whilst Melbourne host St Kilda on Saturday evening.

COLLINGWOOD | 1.1 | 4.3 | 4.4 | 7.7 (49)
MELBOURNE | 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.6 | 1.8 (14)

GOALS:
Collingwood: C. Molloy 3, B. Davey 2, A. Sheridan, M. Cann
Melbourne: L. Pearce

BEST:
Collingwood: C. Molloy, B. Davey, B. Bonnici, S. Livingstone, J. Lambert, R. Schleicher
Melbourne: T. Hanks, K. Paxman, S. Scott, L. Pearce, K. Hore, L. Mithen

 

Image credit: Daniel Carson / AFL Photos

EAGLES SNAG MAIDEN 2021 WIN IN CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH SUNS

The last match of Round 5 saw the West Coast Eagles pile on the pressure in a tight contest with Gold Coast, gaining ascendancy early and fighting to remain ahead in the 5.4 (34) to 4.9 (33) victory. This win registered the Eagles’ first for the season, and whilst this encounter was bound to see one of the winless sides put points on the board, both teams were tested in a highly offensive contest.

A three goal first quarter from the Eagles well and truly got the ball rolling, but Gold Coast proved they were capable of standing up to the onslaught with an improved second term to limit West Coast’s chances and apply their own forward pressure, rewarded with a goal to go into the second half trailing by eight points and well within their chances. Second year Eagles talent Mikayla Bowen was everywhere throughout the contest, taking the game on and drawing Maddy Collier and Emma Swanson into the fray as the trio piled on the pressure through midfield. Defensively, Lauren Ahrens proved once more how dangerous she can be with 19 touches, five marks and three rebounds, limiting the Eagles from finding avenues to goal after the first quarter as Alison Drennan (14 disposals, 11 tackles) and Jamie Stanton (14 touches, six tackles and 1.3) also switched on across the ground following the first quarter barrage from the Eagles.

Whilst the Suns showed some really good signs, hunting the footy and propelling the ball forward consistently – finishing with 34 inside 50s to the Eagles’ 20 – they were ultimately unable to capitalise under pressure. Sarah Perkins and Kalinda Howarth piled on second half goals for the Suns but it was to no avail, and while Stanton’s snap in the last minutes of the match could have spelled trouble for the Eagles, it was not to be as the Eagles ran out one-point winners in tight circumstances. 

Next round, Gold Coast will continue on the road for a fifth straight match when they look to upset Adelaide on Saturday afternoon, whilst the Eagles will take on Fremantle for the second time this season on Sunday.

WEST COAST | 3.1 | 3.1 | 4.3 | 5.4 (34)
GOLD COAST | 0.4 | 1.5 | 3.7 | 4.9 (33)

GOALS:
West Coast: M. Bowen, I. Cameron, M. Caulfield, G. Kelly, K. Orme
Gold Coast: K. Howarth, A. Parker, S. Perkins, J. Stanton

BEST:
West Coast: M. Bowen, E. Swanson, G. Kelly, M. Collier, I. Lewis, C. Perera
Gold Coast: L. Ahrens, J. Stanton, K. Surman, L. Single, L. Bella, A. Drennan

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Giants outlast Suns in wet conditions for maiden 2021 win

THE Greater Western Sydney Giants finally put a win on the board on Saturday afternoon, defeating Gold Coast Suns in a rain-affected encounter at Blacktown International Sportspark, 2.6 (18) to 1.2 (8). Both teams were coming into this match off the back of comprehensive Round 2 losses, and while the Suns pressed hard after a tough first quarter, it was to no avail in the wet weather as they failed to put a major on the board until the final minutes of the match.

In an excellent start to the match the Giants were just about unstoppable, hogging the footy as Alyce Parker and Bec Beeson could not be separated from the action, as Taylah Davies and Alicia Eva slotted early goals to open proceedings and put some space between them and the traveling Suns. While the Suns were relatively composed running out of half back and dominated the marking contest, led by Jade Pregelj who collected a number of rebounds and Alison Drennan who piled on the physicality, the side could not clear the footy through the tightly contested Giants as a clogged midfield continuously sent the ball soaring back inside 50. While the tides changed in the second, with a clear scoring end coming to fruition as the Suns piled on the offensive pressure, the away side just could not pile on the scoreboard intensity they needed with the footy continuously rebounding between Lauren Ahrens and Elle Bennetts. A 15-point margin at quarter time only slightly changed to 16 points as the main break came around, with both sides failing to put a goal on the board.

Whilst the weather cleared up in the second half, the slippery conditions remained as frantic footy was played through the midfield and a tight one-on-one defence from both sides denied any easy chances for clearances. While the Suns denied the Giants a single goal after the first term and Jamie Stanton finally broke the drought with a Suns goal in the last minutes of the match, it was a tough slog for the Suns in a much tighter encounter than the scoreline suggested.

The trio of Parker (24 disposals and five tackles), Beeson (23 and seven) and Eva (15 and one goal) was impressive as ever, while Haneen Zreika was unstoppable early to finish with seven tackles and opposing rucks Erin McKinnon and Lauren Bella racked up 20 hitouts apiece. The Suns’ physicality was excellent with Drennan (22 disposals, 12 tackles) combing well with Serene Watson and Hannah Dunn (eight and seven tackles, respectively) while Ahrens and Stanton were also solid.

Image Credit: AAP/Dan Himbrechts

GWS GIANTS | 2.3 | 2.5 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GOLD COAST SUNS | 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Giants: T. Davies, A. Eva
Suns: J. Stanton

DC BEST:

Giants: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, A. Eva, B. Tully
Suns: A. Drennan, J. Stanton, L. Ahrens, M. Levi, S. Watson

Credit: Getty Images

Experienced Blues overawe Saints

The second match of the evening saw the Saints host the Blues at Moorabbin, in the first crowd-less matchup of the round. Perfect conditions in Melbourne saw the home side get off to the perfect start, as Caitlin Greiser would not be rendered goalless for the second straight round and put the first goal through for the match with minute left in the quarter as the Saints dominated the early stages. With Greiser taking centre stage up forward for the Saints, the Blues would not be left wondering what could be playing an extra back to lighten the load of the likes of Mua Laloifi, but Greiser’s beautiful gather and goal from an angle well and truly outclassed the Blues backwoman on return from injury, allowing the Saints some breathing space and a slight seven-point upper hand heading into the first change.

But it was not all doom and gloom for Carlton, as the side picked up their game as the second term rolled around with two shocking weeks behind them and no desire to head in that same direction once more, as the side well and truly took advantage of the blustery wind to pile on the scoreboard pressure in the second quarter. It took only a perfect start from Elise O’Dea who was sent forward to do what she does best, hitting the scoreboard quickly and seeing the rest of the side pick up their game immediately as Maddy Prespakis got in on the action with a snap out of the back of a contest, and seeing a couple of excellent chains of handballs keep the footy moving fast down the field, evading Saints’ possession. While it was the experienced Blues cohort that got the show on the road in the second quarter, it was the young talent that lifted in the second half as Prespakis was aided by Grace Egan, Georgia Gee and Abbie McKay, with the latter two finding much more of the footy as the match opened up. A Kate Shierlaw purple patch – including the Saints’ second goal – was cut short as the tall was briefly sent off the field for a head knock, whilst the likes of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith were influential around the footy, matching up well against the Blues’ talent but unable to apply the offensive pressure the side so sorely needed.

A tough contest was had in the final term, and while the Saints proved they were more than capable of taking the game on, it was not enough as the Blues had the momentum and wind going in their favour. Whilst the Saints midfield and back-end worked in overdrive to push the footy forward once more, the Blues shut down the centre corridor and minimised options on the wing to continuously propel the footy back inside their attacking 50. Nic Stevens‘ second goal of the game – a soccer off the ground from within the square – well and truly put the ice on the cake for the then-winless Blues, as the side ran home with a solid 6-4 (40) to 2.4 (16) victory.

For the successful Blues, Prespakis and Egan led the way with 24 touches apiece, combining for eight tackles between them while McKay was not far behind with 17 touches and seven tackles alone. O’Dea had her best match in the navy blue, piling 21 disposals onto her season tally and booting the side’s opening goal, while Jess Hosking and Breann Moody were solid as ever. For the Saints, Patrikios was excellent with 20 disposals and five tackles, while Hannah Priest (18 disposals, six tackles and five marks) and Rosie Dillon (14 disposals and nine tackles) were also solid targets around the ground.

ST KILDA | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)
CARLTON | 0.0 | 3.1 | 5.1 | 6.4 (40)

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw
Carlton: N. Stevens 2, L. Brazzale, M. Downie, E. O’Dea, M. Prespakis

DC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, R. Dillon, H. Priest, K. Shierlaw, T. Lucas-Rodd
Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Egan, E. O’Dea, A. McKay, J. Hosking

Credit: Getty Images

Dees triumph thanks to second term

demolition

Melbourne reigned supreme in an almighty top four battle as the Demons came from behind to claim an emphatic nine-point win over North Melbourne 9.6 (60) to 8.3 (51). Both sides headed into the Round 3 match undefeated but Melbourne proved their status as a powerhouse side in the AFL Women’s competition. highlighting their attacking mentality and peppering away at the goals in the second term to flip the script.

Despite multiple chances throughout the opening term the Dees struggled to find their kicking boots early while North Melbourne nailed the first two goals of the game. With the ball spending majority of time inside 50 for Melbourne, the Demons finally struck their first major as the clock ticked down to quarter time reducing the deficit to three points at the break. That momentum trickled into the second term as the Demons showcased their ability to link up with handballs and weave their way forward to steal the lead and slot four consecutive goals. Tegan Cunningham and Jackie Parry inspired the comeback second term with the pair combining for four goals in that quarter alone, showcasing their ability to get the job done both in the air and at ground level with Parry roving the pack and slotting a nice goal to really give Melbourne the ascendancy heading into half time.

Melbourne stretched the lead out to as much as 25 points before the Kangaroos tightened things up in the third term to pile on the scoreboard pressure and nullify the influence of the Dees. With a number of key cogs in the blue and white, the Roos found a way to be damaging as Daria Bannister picked up the slack with two goals in her side’s four goal term. But sensing a momentum switch, the Demons regathered their composure in the final stanza to keep North Melbourne at bay, trapping the ball inside 50 despite the margin getting as close as three points with only moments to spare.

It was the usual suspects for the Kangaroos that stood up in the contest as Jasmine Garner took the game into her own hands as shown through her mammoth 15 disposals, 12 tackles and two goal effort. Emma Kearney chimed in, amassing 16 touches while also slotting a timely goal to keep the Roos within touching distance of the Demons. Ashleigh Riddell was a key contributor with her 17 disposals as was Kaitlyn Ashmore who managed to find plenty of the footy thanks to her 16 disposals and two tackle performance. Jenna Bruton threw her weight around laying six tackles to accompany her 14 touches while Bannister kept the scoreboard ticking over banging home two majors.

For the Demons, Karen Paxman was a force to be reckoned with directing traffic and picking up a game-high 25 disposals. Paxman was involved in just about everything and made full use of her physical nature to match up against Kearney through the middle while on the goal-scoring front Cunningham was proving too big and too strong, outmuscling her opponents and kicking true out the front. Cunningham finished with two goals for the game as teammate Parry impressed with her three majors. Youngster Tyla Hanks provided that element of run and carry across the ground picking up 23 touches and nine tackles as Kate Hore was a real livewire with 15 touches and three marks. Maddison Gay made her presence felt recording seven tackles and 16 disposals in the win with Lily Mithen also a key playmaker for the Dees amassing 21 touches.

MELBOURNE | 1.3 | 7.4 | 8.4 | 9.6 (60)
NORTH MELBOURNE | 2.1 | 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)

GOALS:

Melbourne: J. Parry 3, T. Cunningham 2, S. Scott 2, K. Hore, K. Paxman
North Melbourne: J. Garner 2, D. Bannister 2, G. Campbell, E. Kearney, S, Abbatangelo, I. Eddey

DC BEST: 

Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, L. Mithen, M. Gay, T. Cunningham,
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell,  J.Bruton, K. Ashmore

Draft Central’s Top 50 AFLW Players 2020: #45-#41

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we move on with the players ranked 45-41, which boasts solid representation in the talls department, some emerging talent, and a certain Queensland-based theme. Check out who made the cut below.

#45 BREANN MOODY (CARLTON)

7 GAMES AVE: 7.3 disposals, 1.4 marks, 1.6 tackles, 16.7 hitouts, 2.1 inside 50s

The foundation Blue hardly missed a beat in 2020 as once again, one of the most improved rucks of the competition. Standing at 180cm, Moody has a sizeable leap to boot and used it brilliantly at the centre bounces while also getting stuck in at ground level. While some of her numbers may have trailed off during the middle of the year, Moody remained an integral part of the Carlton line-up and if it had not been for a couple of other talls exceeding expectations this season, she would have been a lock for the All Australian squad. With her ruck craft already proven, it was the lift in Moody’s impact at stoppages around the ground which would have been most pleasing.

#44 LAUREN AHRENS (GOLD COAST)

7 GAMES AVE: 14.7 disposals, 2.4 marks, 2.9 tackles, 3.4 rebound 50s, 243 metres gained

One of a good bunch of Gold Coast newbies to have made a serious impact in their debut season was Ahrens, who fully justified her priority signing to the SUNS with a seamless transition into their back five. Having impressed at VFLW level, Ahrens more than kept up at with the elite standard of AFLW as a versatile defender who could not only fulfil her one-on-one defensive duties, but also provide solid rebound on the way out. The 28-year-old Gold Coast native is now a key member of the SUNS’ squad and comes in as part of the new age of truly athletic key position players.

#43 KAITLYN ASHMORE (NORTH MELBOURNE)

7 GAMES AVE: 7.7 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2.9 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 0.7 goals

North Melbourne’s leading goalkicker for 2020 was Ashmore, who returned a career-best tally of nine majors – equal to her combined total over the previous three seasons. The dynamic forward continued to show flashes of brilliance, having an impact moving up the ground while also making a menace of herself closer to goal with terrific instinctual play and sticky hands in traffic. Ashmore’s game-breaking ability came to the fore with bags of three and four goals against Richmond and Adelaide respectively, with her Round 3 effort particularly impressive given she was absent for most of her previous outing with concussion. Given the improving support cast around her, Ashmore’s x-factor stands out even more.

#42 JADE PREGELJ (GOLD COAST)

7 GAMES AVE: 11.9 disposals, 1.9 marks, 1.9 tackles, 3.4 rebound 50s, 258 metres gained

A junior footballing prodigy, Pregelj thrived upon her first taste of the big time with an outstanding debut campaign. The 171cm defender quickly became a staple in the SUNS back five, providing solid defensive work with her reading of the play and physicality, while also executing well in transition. Pregelj led her side for intercept possessions and rebound 50s in 2020, and was also prominent in the contested mark and metres gained categories, making for a well-rounded year from defence. The mature-aged draftee proved to be one of the more shrewd recruits of 2019, and should be a constant figure for the SUNS going forward.

#41 JESSE WARDLAW (BRISBANE)

7 GAMES AVE: 6.4 disposals, 3 marks, 1.3 tackles, 3.3 hitouts, 1.3 goals

There is hardly a more exciting young key position talent than Wardlaw, who was kept goalless just once throughout 2020. Marking is arguably the centrepiece of Wardlaw’s game, as she uses all of her 185cm frame and natural athleticism to dominate the airways. The 20-year-old’s goalkicking has also improved from her debut season, with a bag of three majors against Geelong in Round 2 her best effort as she led the competition’s goalkicking charts for much of the early part of the season. Given the steep rate of development on show already, the future looks bright for Brisbane’s spearhead forward.

Fremantle finishes AFL Women’s season undefeated after semi-final win

IT was a mammoth effort from the ladder leaders in Fremantle that led to a phenomenal 70-point win over expansion side, Gold Coast Suns. While the Dockers were undefeated coming into this match and the Suns with only two wins to their name, little could have expected the final margin, with Fremantle far too good at home, winning 12.8 (80) to 1.4 (10). While Gold Coast struggled under Fremantle’s wrath, the home side was clinical and if it had hit more targets inside 50 the result could have been far worse.

A relatively even first quarter saw plenty of intensity with Gold Coast competing well without Fremantle’s crowd to deter the Suns from testing the Dockers early. While Fremantle headed into the second quarter eight points up, it was a solid defensive effort from the Suns that kept them on their toes and forcing hasty kicks on goal. But after the first the Dockers came out all guns blaring, not conceding a major for the rest of the match and denying the Suns any clean penetration of their forward 50, with the side only marking once from 26 inside 50s, a real credit to the defensive pressure and constant tackling effort from the Dockers, combining for 59 tackles compared to Gold Coast’s 33 – lead by Kiara Bowers who racked up 14 to go with her 22 touches. The first saw Sabreena Duffy’s first of three, with the talented goalsneak finding plenty of the footy thanks to her tenacity while her small stature and burst of speed made her hard to stop. Jacqui Yorston and Kate Surman were solid down the field finding plenty of the ball but falling short of options inside 50, with Fremantle’s defensive pressure creating a real buffer downfield.

A four-goal second quarter sparked a significant lead heading into half-time, with near misses giving the Suns some opportunities to get on the board but going scoreless after the second minute mark, with a frustrating miss 15m out from Tiarna Ernst in reward for a brave contest – who later left the field with symptoms of concussion – that could have well and truly changed the game if it had been converted. Gemma Houghton and Kate Flood (two goals apiece) opened their account in the second, joined by young gun Roxy Roux who returned to the side after a brief stint on the sidelines, taking a 27-point lead into the main break and sending an ominous message to the competition with another all-round effort in the forward half producing a dominant performance. Hayley Miller impressed with her tenacity in a great finish to her best season yet, with her consistency clear through the midfield, collecting 20 touches, seven marks and three tackles.

While Fremantle continued to go from strength to strength, the Suns would not give up, with the likes of Jade Pregelj consistent as ever in defence, collecting an equal season-high 16 touches and contributing well to force errant kicks on goal from the Dockers. Lauren Ahrens was equally solid off the half back, managing 17 disposals and three marks in a tough contest. An interesting battle waged between rucks with young gun Mim Strom providing vital footy to her mids, managing 14 hitouts, eight touches and two tackles, while Suns’ Lauren Bella led the hitout count with 17 but did not have the backup required to propel the footy downfield, with Fremantle taking much more advantage of the tap. Gabby O’Sullivan added a second goal to her tally in the third, while a crucial kick on goal late in the third from Jordann Hickey went unrewarded, seeing the margin extend further despite all efforts.

A four-goal final quarter haul from the home side saw Fremantle well and truly shake off any semi-finals worry, with the side enjoying the 70-point victory and plenty of standouts putting the win into practice. Fremantle’s four multiple goalkickers in Duffy (who now finishes ahead of St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser as leading goalkicker in 2020), O’Sullivan (17 touches), Flood and Houghton allowed veterans the likes of Bowers, Ebony Antonio (20 disposals, eight marks, one goal) and Kara Antonio (19 disposals, seven marks) used their experience to provide plenty of footy up the field. Paige Parker was the sole goalkicker for the Suns on a tough day on the track, while Yorston and Surman both enjoyed impressive stats to finish their respective inaugural seasons, racking up 22 and 20 touches and combining for seven tackles. Dangerous forward Kalinda Howarth was unable to have her usual impact on the scoreboard, with the small forward working up the ground with Jamie Stanton, who also was rendered far less impactful than her typical work rate thanks to Fremantle’s constant pressure.

FREMANTLE 2.3 | 5.5 | 8.6 | 12.8 (80)
GOLD COAST 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS:

Fremantle: S. Duffy 3, K. Flood 2, G. O’Sullivan 2, G. Houghton 2, R. Roux, E.Antonio, A. Sharp.
Gold Coast: P. Parker.

ADC BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, E.Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, K. Antonio, H. Miller, S. Duffy
Gold Coast: J. Yorston, J. Pregelj, K. Surman, L. Ahrens,  J. Stanton

2020 AFLW: The run to finals – How do the expansion clubs fare?

THE 2020 AFL Women’s season has seen four new clubs introduced to the competition and with two rounds left, we look at the two new clubs who both have a chance at playing finals footy. Gold Coast sit one game out finals in Conference A, while St Kilda find themselves two games out of finals in Conference B.

The Gold Coast Suns have the best chance out of the four expansion clubs to make finals, currently placed just one game behind cross-town rivals Brisbane who sit securely in the top three. The Suns have won two games, lost three and drawn one, yet still boast a percentage of 101 per cent. The only club below them on the ladder that they have lost to was Geelong who are only two points behind the Suns, however, they have still not defeated a team above them on the ladder. Should they have beaten Brisbane instead of devastatingly drawing, they would find themselves equal third and with every chance of playing finals. The Suns face the sixth-placed Crows (Conference A) at home this weekend, and then the third-placed Demons (Conference B) in Casey to finish off. With Brisbane a high chance of beating Richmond this week, Gold Coast’s best chance at playing finals would be to win both games healthily to get in on percentage, so long as the Lions drop their last game to North Melbourne.

The Suns have enjoyed some brilliant individual performers in their inaugural season with Jamie Stanton (17.7 disposals per game), Lauren Ahrens (14.3 disposals per game) and Hannah Dunn (13.8 disposals and close to six tackles per game) the standouts. After a four-goal effort against the Eagles on Sunday, Kalinda Howarth finds herself the team’s leading goal-kicker having kicked nine for the season. Boasting some impressive young talent, Jacqui Yorston stands out as the best young player having spent last season on Brisbane’s list for just the four games which included a Rising Star nomination. Yorston has played every game averaging 12.5 disposals and over seven tackles to go with two goals. Second year 188cm ruck Lauren Bella also deserves a mention averaging just under 19 hit outs per game.

The Suns’ biggest strength is their ferocious tackling with seven players averaging more than four tackles per game. As a team, they average 14 more tackles per game than their opposition. Where Gold Coast will look to improve is their disposal count and delivery inside 50. On average, the Suns record almost 37 less disposals per game than their opposition, so coach David Lake will be hoping there are more ball-winners across the ground if they want to pose a threat in the post-season. In terms of efficiency, Gold Coast only mark one out of every seven entries inside 50 and will be looking to get more unimpeded shots at goal in the last two rounds if they want to score more.

In Conference B, St Kilda have an outside chance of making finals, however, everything will have to work in their favour. They currently sit two games out of finals behind Melbourne and Collingwood who have both won two of their last three games and are playing confident football. The biggest issue for St Kilda is their percentage in which they will have to make up a minimum of 63 per cent. Still technically possible. The Saints have won two games and lost four. One loss was a one-point heart breaker against undefeated Fremantle in which a win would have seen them just one game out finals contention, much better odds. The Saints face fourth-placed Collingwood (conference B) and seventh-placed West Coast (also Conference B) in Perth to finish the season off. With both must-win games, the Saints’ best chance at playing finals is to win big, and hope Melbourne and Collingwood lose big to secure themselves third spot.

Much like the Suns, the Saints have enjoyed outstanding performances from their youth, with first year players Georgia Patrikios (15.7 disposals per game) and Olivia Vesely (15.2 disposals per game) leading the way for the entire Saints team. 2019 VFLW team of the year player Rosie Dillon (13.5 disposals and almost six tackles per game) has also been important for the Saints with a more mature inside-presence. Donned the “G-Train”, Caitlin Greiser is the leading goal-scorer for the Saints kicking 10 for the season, including a 55m bomb against Melbourne in Round 3. Outside of Patrikios and Vesely, Nicola Xenos (9.3 disposals and more than four tackles per game) and Molly McDonald (9.5 disposals per game), have been the more impressive younger players for St Kilda.

St Kilda’s biggest issue this season has simply been their consistency. They suffered losses in two of their first three games of the season after giving up significant margins in total disposals, clearance and inside 50’s. Since then, they have averaged almost 28 more disposals, nine more clearances and six more inside 50’s per game than their opposition. One point of difference in that time has been the injection of Poppy Kelly in the ruck, who is averaging 14 hit outs in her three appearances this season. To continue the trend, the Saints will be looking for Kelly to continue her aerial prowess to feed Patrikios and Vesely out of the middle.

Whether the Saints or Suns make the finals or not, the end of the AFLW season begs to be an exciting one.

2020 AFLW weekend wrap: Round 6 – GIANTS, Blues consolidate finals chances

GWS and Carlton notched huge wins against fellow AFL Women’s finals hopefuls to consolidate their own finals chances in Round 6 of the competition, with reigning premier Adelaide dealt a blow in its premiership defence. Meanwhile, both conference leaders enjoyed wins to continue on their road to the post-season, Collingwood remained in the hunt, while expansion sides Gold Coast and St Kilda both also won out convincingly. In our Match of the Round, Carlton overcame Melbourne in a crucial win in the Top End.

GEELONG 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 10.6 (66)

Peter Williams

North Melbourne has overcome a slow start to run over the top of Geelong in the Friday night fixture at GMHBA Stadium. As the only game allowing fans into the venue for the weekend amid growing fears with the Coronavirus, the Cats put on a show early, booting the only two goals of the first term through Phoebe McWilliams and All-Australian defender, Meg McDonald. By the time Julia Crockett-Grills had converted the Cats’ third major just 62 seconds into the second term, the home team led 3.1 to 0.2 and an upset was brewing. Little did the fans that did turn up know, the visiting team was about to click into gear. While Olivia Purcell again attacked the scoreboard for a behind in the fourth minute, that would turn out to be the last score of the game for the Cats, as the Roos piled on 10.4 to 0.0 over the next hour to completely run away with the match and win by 46 points. Jasmine Garner booted three goals and Brittany Gibson two, with the premiership favourites taking a while, but finally finding their groove in the 10.6 (66) to 3.2 (20) triumph on the road.

Garner finished with 18 disposals, six marks, six tackles and five inside 50s to go with her three goals, while Gibson made the most of her four touches, booting two goals from two marks. In terms of disposals, Ash Riddell continued her fine form with a match-high 23, as well as five marks, three inside 50s and seven tackles. Former Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, Emma Kearney was prominent again thanks to 22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, six inside 50s and five rebounds. Jenna Bruton (21 disposals, seven tackles and three inside 50s) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, two marks, four tackles and four inside 50s) were busy, while Mia King booted her first AFL Women’s career goal to go with her 12 touches and seven tackles.

For the Cats, Purcell amassed 18 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s, McDonald had the 14 touches, five marks, three rebounds and a goal, while Amy McDonald had 13 disposals, two marks and four tackles. Also amongst the more prominent ball winners were Crockett-Grills (12 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Danielle Higgins (12 touches, three marks and four tackles) and Madeline Keryk (12 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds). Unfortunately for the Cats, the loss was further soured by a serious knee injury to Nina Morrison with fears that she had done a second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the same right leg. The result meant the Roos stretched their lead out to six points a the top of Conference A, with Geelong’s finals hopes coping a knock to sit four points, percentage and a game behind the top three sides.

GOALS:

Geelong: J. Crockett-Grills, P. McWilliams, M. McDonald.
North Melbourne: J. Garner 3, B. Gibson 2, D. Bateman, S. Abbatangelo, K. Gillespie-Jones, E. King, M. King.

BEST:

Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, M. McDonald, R. Cranston, R. Garing
North Melbourne: J. Garner, A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, M. King

BRISBANE LIONS 0.1 | 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 | 3.7 | 3.10 | 5.13 (43)

Ryan Dundas

Although Coronavirus halted the fans, Collingwood could not be stopped as they conquered the Brisbane Lions. The last time these two sides met saw the Magpies deny Brisbane finals football and there was a sense of déjà vu for Craig Starcevich’s side as Collingwood cemented early pressure. The Pies were able to control the contested possessions, allowing their side to take an early 15-point lead in the opening term. Led by Brittany Bonnici, a bunch of Magpies were instrumental in providing inside 50s for Collingwood, while seconding to stifle the Lions’ defence. Bonnici was threatening around the contest, offering the Pies options all over the ground. Collingwood’s dictating was not stopped as they kept Brisbane scoreless in the second term.

Down by 24 points at half-time, Brisbane came out strong in the second half and rallied momentum to only trail at the final break by 14. However, the damage was already done as Collingwood controlled the final term to win 5.13 (43) to 2.2 (14). Two consecutive wins for the Magpies ensure they are still in the hunt for a finals berth in the AFLW competition. Conversely, Brisbane’s loss opens the door now for the Gold Coast Suns to obtain the final spot in Conference A.

Bonnici was outstanding in the midfield for Collingwood, recording 26 disposals, three marks and three tackles. Undoubtedly, the best player on the ground, her stocks continue to rise in the AFLW. Sarah D’Arcy‘s willingness to find opportunities in the forward line was also one of Collingwood’s vital strengths against Brisbane. Although 1.4 is not her peak, her best work came off the ball, creating openings for her teammates. Similarly, on the defensive end, Steph Chiocci’s impact against Brisbane influenced the momentum away from the Lions with 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles. For the Brisbane Lions, Rheanne Lugg (18 disposals and eight marks) stepped up in a side that was outplayed by the Collingwood Magpies. Along with her, Sophie Conway in the second half was one of the best players on the ground with 11 disposals and two marks.

GOALS:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, C. Svarc
Collingwood: S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Alexander, J. Membrey

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, R. Lugg, S. Conway, C. Svarc
Collingwood:
S. D’Arcy, B. Bonnici, B. Davey, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Lambert

ST KILDA 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)
RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

Tom Cheesman

“The G-Train” Caitlin Greiser led St Kilda to a dominant 39-point victory over the struggling Richmond at RSEA Park on Saturday. Greiser was unstoppable up forward while Richmond were held to just three points for the match, the lowest score ever recorded in AFLW. It has been a disappointing debut AFLW season for the Tigers, who are yet to record their first win and sit with a lowly percentage of 35.7. St Kilda dominated all the key stats including disposals (206-144), clearances (32-15), contested possessions (106-81) and inside 50s (29-19).

Greiser got the Saints off to a dream start, earning a free kick deep in the forward 50 and kicking her side’s first major. Round 5 Rising Star nominee Olivia Vesely was clean at the clearances early, while Clara Fitzpatrick took some nice intercept marks in defence. Greiser’s second gave the Saints a two-goal lead at the first break. Both teams went goalless in the second term, as Richmond did well to lock it in their forward 50 but could not impact the scoreboard. Sabrina Frederick earned two set shots on goal but failed to convert. With fans locked out due to the coronavirus, both sides’ benches made as much noise as possible to help support their sides.

In the third, the Saints got back to applying strong forward pressure while Richmond struggled to transition the ball past the centre of the ground. Greiser kicked her third before Kate Shierlaw got on the end of some great run and carry from Georgia Patrikios to put through their fourth. St Kilda’s dominance at the contest continued in the last as they ran away to a comfortable victory. Greiser was a clear best on ground with three goals, three marks and four tackles. Meanwhile, Rosie Dillon (17 disposals, seven tackles) and Vesely (16 disposals, five tackles) were very impactful at the clearances. For Richmond, Monique Conti was far and away their strongest performer with 22 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser 3, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, N. Xenos
Richmond: Nil

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, R. Dillon, N. Xenos, C. Fitzpatrick, O. Vesely
Richmond: M. Conti, G. Campbell, S. Frederick

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 | 4.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)
FREMANTLE 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)

Lachie Abbott

Fremantle remain undefeated after edging out the Western Bulldogs by 15 points in a high scoring contest at Whitten Oval. The Dockers trailed by four points at three-quarter-time, but rallied to kick four goals, while the Bulldogs could only manage one in the final term.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bulldogs were unable to call upon the support of their home fans to get them off to a flying start, as organisers have closed all AFLW matches from crowds. Nevertheless, the Dogs got off to a strong start with a linking chain of handballs through the centre corridor, with the run of Katy Heron eventually allowing Ellie Blackburn to kick the opening goal of the match.

Hannah Munyard added a second major on the back of a lovely checkside pass from Kirsten McLeod and it was clear the Dogs were up for the fight. However, the Dockers soon showed why they are undefeated and hit back through a strong Kara Antonio mark and set shot, set up by the run of Gemma Houghton from the wing. The Dogs were potent using handballs to drive attacks off half-back through the centre of the ground, whereas the Dockers preferred to keep the ball out of the corridor and utilised their foot skills along the boundary line.

Blackburn began the second term as she finished the first, receiving a handball and firing home from 40 metres to add the much needed classy tough to the Dogs play. The Bulldogs’ defence struggled at times to escape the pressure of Fremantle’s forwards, resulting in several opportunities for the potent Dockers attack, including one set shot for Hayley Miller to cut the margin to four points.

Also up forward for the Dockers, Ashley Sharp was a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs defence for the entirety of the game, scoring multiple opportunistic goals. Laura Pugh added another for the Dockers just before the break after a penetrating inside 50 from Antonio spilled her way. Heading into the main interval, it was the Dockers who had recovered to lead by four points and look ready to break the game open in the second half.

Yet once the second stanza got underway, it was the Dogs who broke the game open. Unfortunately for Katie-Jayne Grieve, she was completely to blame for the first goal of the Dogs’ third-quarter rally, giving away a free kick and two 50-metre penalties to allow an easy goal for the dominant Aisling McCarthy.

Later in the term, McLeod, despite only having six touches for the day, was extremely effective when she got the ball in her hands. The small forward snapped her second major midway through the term to extend the lead back to 10 points with a classy finish. Deanna Berry then added another and suddenly, it looked like the one-win Bulldogs may run away with the match. However, the Dockers roared back into life to kick the last two goals of the quarter through a dribbling Mia-Rae Clifford finish and a strong contested mark from Sharp, on the back of outstanding forward pressure.

With it all to play for at the start of the final term, Ebony Antonio stood up when she was needed most, slotting a classy goal in the early stages of the quarter. Antonio feigned to give off the handball- selling two defenders- before cutting to her right and finishing with poise on the run. Antonio continued to play an inspired final quarter, laying crunching tackles and later drifting back behind the play and taking some important contested marks.

Danielle Marshall responded for the Dogs after almost ruining a golden goal-scoring opportunity by kicking into Kiara Bowers on the mark. Luckily for Marshall, the ricochet fell back into her arms and the American managed to finish from a tight angle. But that was as good as it got for the Bulldogs, and soon after a strong mark from Clifford set up her second. Almost two minutes later, a strong contest from Grieve in the goal square allowed Kate Flood to poke home from close range and suddenly the Dockers had a two goal cushion.

With little time left, the Bulldogs pressed up the field in search of a much needed second major of the term. However, a burst forward on the wing from Houghton made use of the now vacant space in behind the Dogs defence. Sharp knocked Houghton’s kick towards goal and used blistering speed to seal the match. The Dockers defended well in the closing moments to not allow the Bulldogs any clean possession and ultimately claimed their sixth win of the season in a thrilling encounter.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, E. Blackburn 2, H. Munyard, D. Marshall, A. McCarthy, D. Berry.
Fremantle: A. Sharp 3, M. Clifford 2, L. Pugh, K. Flood, E. Antonio, K. Antonio, H. Miller.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, A. McCarthy, G. Newton, I. Huntington, H. Munyard, K. McLeod
Fremantle: E. Antonio, K. Bowers, K. Antonio, A. Sharp, H. Miller, M. Clifford

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.2 (26)

Michael Alvaro

GWS dealt a crushing blow to Adelaide’s premiership defence on Sunday, knocking over the reigning premiers by five points in a thriller at Hisense Stadium. The GIANTS came up clutch in the low-scoring contest, quickly rectifying an early deficit and holding off the Crows’ last-ditch effort to run out 4.2 (26) to 3.3 (21) victors. Not only does the win mean GWS is in the box seat to secure a finals berth, but it was also the GIANTS’ first-ever AFLW victory over Adelaide.

Fresh off a match winning four-goal haul against Richmond, Cora Staunton picked up right from where she left off in Round 5 by floating through the game’s opening goal. But the Crows would work to even the ledger and sneak ahead late in the first term, with the impact of a returning Erin Phillips proving vital. The two-time AFLW best and fairest winner had a hand in both of her side’s goals for the term; hitting Courtney Gum lace out on the lead, and later belting a stoppage clearance towards the goalsquare to be pounced on by Marijana Rajcic and give the home side ascendancy.

Both sides’ maturity shone through as the tackling pressure and physicality of the contest lifted in response to the tightness of the scoreboard, and it showed with only two goals notched for the entire second and third quarters. They both belonged to the GIANTS, who put their noses in front as Jodie Hicks finished well on the end of a slick chain inside forward 50, and extended their lead via a 50-metre penalty to Brittany Tully in the following term. The GIANTS’ ball movement looked to have lifted, remaining composed in the face of some fierce pressure while inflicting some serious tackling of their own.

The last term began much like the first, with Staunton again earning a free kick and for the second time, wobbling home a six-pointer to lift her side. Holding a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, GWS ensured it would stay on top with much of the same lockdown defensive work. Adelaide’s last roll of the dice came 90 seconds from the final siren as Gum marked strongly close to goal and duly converted the set shot. But the Crows’ attempts to blow down the door came up short as the GIANTS’ defence proved just that, helping them claim a second-consecutive victory.

Alyce Parker was instrumental in GWS’ success, collecting a mammoth 30 disposals and seven marks against some seasoned opponents in midfield. Rebecca Beeson and Tait Mackrill each had 20 touches, while Staunton (12 disposals, six marks, 2.1) and Elle Bennetts (16 disposals, three marks) were terrific as the GIANTS’s bookends. For Adelaide, the midfield combination of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff again proved potent as the pair combined for 41 disposals and 17 tackles, with the pacy Justine Mules also pitching in on the tackling front. The supporting hand of Erin Phillips was also impactful early on, as the champion finished with 13 disposals and three tackles in just her second game for the season.

Sitting pretty at 4-2 and in second place among the Conference A contenders, the GIANTS are now primed for finals with games against the lower-ranked Geelong and Western Bulldogs to come. On the other hand, Adelaide faces a fight to stay alive in season 2020, sixth in Conference A but with fixtures awaiting against expansion sides, Gold Coast and Richmond.

GOALS:

Adelaide: C. Gum 2, M. Rajcic
GWS: C. Staunton 2, J. Hicks, B. Tully

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, C. Gum, C. Biddell, A. Foley
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, T. Mackrill, B. Tully, E. Bennetts, C. Staunton

WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.2 (8)
GOLD COAST SUNS 1.2 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

Taylah Melki

It was a convincing performance by the Suns who had control from the get go holding the Eagles goalless for the first three quarters before finally slotting one in the last term. West Coast simply could not generate any forward ball movement mainly in part to Gold Coasts efficiency with ball in hand and ability to shut down options across the ground. Despite having more inside 50s (29-26) the Eagles could not buy a goal showing just how strong the Suns defence was, consistently standing up under pressure and working the ball out of danger areas. Gold Coast pretty much cruised to victory never really challenged on the scoreboard by their opposition and while they lost the possession count and marks tally the Suns somehow managed to assert themselves on the game and claim a 25-point win.

The inaugural captain once again led from the front bullying her way through the packs and applying a wealth of physical pressure with six tackles. Dana Hooker was head and shoulders above the rest racking up 31 touches with 22 of them kicks showcasing her ability to find a target and hit them lace out while also taking six marks in what was a complete performance from the highly talented mid. Imahra Cameron also plied her trade across the ground with 20 disposals while Belinda Smith was constantly involved in the contest with her 18 possessions, three tackles and four marks. Although Hayley Bullas did not win a heap of the footy racking up 10 touches for the game she was the sole goalscorer for the Eagles proving her influence. The reliable Kellie Gibson was up to her usual tricks with 18 disposals while Emma Swanson was not far behind with 16 and five tackles. Despite not being able to post a competitive total the Eagles have plenty of stars that have shown with more time to gel as a side could become a damaging side.

It is fair to say that the ball was relatively evenly shared across the Gold Coast side with 12 players reaching double figures however it was Kate Surman that racked up the most touches of anyone in her squad with 20. Draftee Dee Heslop highlighted her ferocity at the contest multiple times throughout the match with a game high 10 tackles. Fellow youngster Serene Watson also made a lasting impression on the Eagles racking up the touches across the ground with 15 while Jacqui Yorston also inserted herself on the match with nine tackles and 12 disposals. Jamie Stanton, Hannah Dunn and Lauren Aherns managed 16 possessions apiece with the trio creating plenty of excitement with their clever ball use. But when it came to goal kickers, Kalinda Howarth proved to be the go to girl slotting an impressive four goals with two of them coming in the third quarter. Jordann Hickey rounded out the other scorer for the day nailing a major during the second term to help set up the Gold Coast win.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 4, J. Hickey
West Coast: H. Bullas

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Surman, K. Howarth, S. Watson, J. Yorston, J. Stanton
West Coast: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, I. Cameron, B. Smith, K. Gibson

2020 AFL Women’s previews: Round 5 – Conference leaders go head to head

ROUND 4 of AFL Women’s 2020 is set to shake up the competition, with a top-of-the-tables clash to end the round coming in as the biggest match of the long weekend. Fremantle will look to go five from five, while Richmond are still aching to put a win on the board.

Friday, March 6

Gold Coast v. Geelong,
Great Barrier Reef Arena, 6.10pm AEST

Sophie Taylor

Opening Round 5 is an interesting match between two sides with only one win between them so far this season, with both sides’ victories coming against winless the Richmond; for the Suns in Round 2 and the Cats just last round. Both teams have the ability to score well and score quickly, but Geelong has a season under its belt already while their ability to improve on every week to put progressively better efforts on the board makes them a tough battle for the Suns this round. The Suns will need to draw on all the tenacity and pressure that kept them neck and neck with the Lions in Round 3 to put a win on the board against the Cats – something that is ultimately achievable, especially since it’s Geelong that is travelling up the coast for this one.

The likes of Jamie Stanton, Lauren Ahrens and Jade Pregelj will be key for Gold Coast this round, while the omission of Hannah Dunn (calf) will be a frustrating loss for the side which has really relied on Dunn’s tenacity and hunt for the ball, leading the side in both clearances and tackles. Ahrens’ ability to impact the play will be key with clean hands and vision to boot, collecting 27 intercept possessions for the season so far to go with Stanton’s 38 contested possessions, able to create something out of nothing. With the loss of Dunn a real blow, the side will need to tighten up across the field to deny Geelong easy entry inside 50 and rebound the ball.

For the Cats, this is a great opportunity to prove their growth since last season with a win on the road. Olivia Purcell has had a major impact this season as expected, averaging 20.5 touches per match so far, ultimately mostly unstoppable with an ability to not only find the footy but create opportunities for her teammates. Purcell is unafraid to enter the contest, averaging 12 contested possessions across the first four matches of the season while racking up 23 clearances, with her clean skills providing a huge bonus for the Cats. While Purcell leads many of the stats for the Cats, the likes of Rebecca Webster, Nina Morrison, Mel Hickey and Julia Crockett-Grills have been key throughout the season so far, finding plenty of ball and working well as a unit to create a formidable opposition, though the side will certainly suffer without their tackling machine in Jordan Ivey, out with suspension this week and leading the side’s tackle count with 22. Geelong ruck, Aasta O’Connor (57 hitouts) will have a tough time taking on Lauren Bella who sits third for hitouts with 78, though the Cats have the tenacity and hunt for the ball to impact off the tap regardless of who wins the ruck contest.

Tip: Geelong by 8 points.

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo – C 22 L.Ahrens 7 T.Groves-Little 3
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 P.Parker 1
HF: K.Surman 26 L.Kaslar 11 B.Perry 16
F: K.Howarth 23 J.Hewett 20
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 D.Heslop 25
I/C: C.Hammond 29 E.Hampson 21 M.Ritson 12 T.Thorn 15 S.Watson 14

Emerg: S.Riley 8 A.Hamilton 30

In: T.Groves-Little
Out: H.Dunn (Calf)

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: N.Morrison 9 R.Webster 21 S.Van De Heuvel 27
HF: R.Garing 12 P.McWilliams 23 D.Higgins 2
F: R.Cranston 30 K.Darby 8
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: R.Goring 44 G.Rankin 10 A.McDonald 3 A.Teague 40 G.Clarke 17

Emerg: N.Garner 22 C.Blakeway 4

In: G.Rankin
Out: J.Ivey (Suspension)

Saturday, March 7

North Melbourne v. Adelaide,
North Hobart Oval, 3.10pm

Troy Hanning

The Kangaroos and the Crows battle on Saturday for the second spot on the Conference A ladder. The Kangaroos, who currently second on the ladder, seek to prevent the Crows in third from snapping their four game win streak. The biggest question mark for Adelaide will be how they go into this match without Erin Phillips once more, having only one game under her belt in an understandably slow return last round and omitted with soreness coming into Round 5. Meanwhile, the Kangaroos will want to carry on from their impressive performance from last week, and lift their winning streak to five on the hop.

Being second and third on the ladder, the teams’ differences in efficiency and statistics are very minuscule, however one important distinction is that the Kangaroos average many more kicks per game. This could show that they are the more composed team, able to maintain possession by marking and not relying on their midfielders to get it back. However, that’s not much of a problem for the Crows when you have someone like Anne Hatchard in the side, who averaged 18.9 disposals last season and is still improving. Hatchard has been dangerous in the midfield all season, being strong on both the inside and the outside of packs, and this game will likely be no different. Defensively, Ebony Marinoff, who averaged 22.8 disposals and 8.3 tackles per game last season and who holds the record for both the most tackles (21) and the highest number of disposals (33), will not make it easy on the Kangaroos’ forward line.

The Kangaroos are going to rely on their superior tackling abilities this game, averaging 10 more tackles per round with 60 compared to the Crows’ 50. The Crows only had 39 while the Roos had 53 in round four, meaning they will need to really address this element of their game. Along with the Kangaroos averaging slightly more possessions, North Melbourne clearly are the much stronger forward line scoring seven goals to the Crows’ five a game. Mostly because of Emma King, the forward ruck threat standing at 187cm tall and who kicked eight goals last season. Nevertheless, all signs point towards the North Melbourne side just finding their groove, as they came off a very impressive performance last round. They smashed their handball average of 77, hitting 91, highlighting their development of moving through contests on the run. Similarly, they tallied 253 disposals while so far averaging 215. Led by stars like Jasmine Garner, North could have a real chance of spoiling the Crows’ party. 

Tip: Kangaroos by 12 points

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: N.Bresnehan 12 T.Randall 16
HB: B.Gibson 18 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Grierson 19 E.Kearney – C 9 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 K.Ashmore 10
F: Em.King 60 D.Bateman 11
Foll: V.Saad 39 A.Riddell 7 J.Garner 25
I/C: S.Wright 17 J.Trend 21 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 T.Nestor 24

Emerg: E.Humphries 6 M.Seoighe 13
In: N.Bresnehan
Out: El.King (Knee)

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: N.Allen 8 M.Rajcic 32 S.Li 19
C: A.Foley 3 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: A.Considine 16 D.Ponter 15 R.Forth 27
F: J.Tabb 28 S.Thompson 14
Foll: R.Metcalfe 11 A.Hatchard 33 C.Gum 5
I/C: N.Campbell 20 C.Gould 1 M.McKinnon 21 N.Gore 7 M.Newman 17

Emerg: C.Biddell 12
In: C.Gould, M.McKinnon, M.Newman
Out: E.Jones (Shoulder), J.Foley (Foot), C.Biddell (Omitted)

GWS GIANTS v Richmond,
Robertson Oval, 5.10pm

Sophie Taylor

This clash between the GIANTS and Tigers is set to be a big one for both sides but ultimately the Tiges need a win on the board stat after a horror start to their inaugural season. The GIANTS on the other hand have had an up and down season, and while they’ve gotten two impressive wins on the board, have missed a bit of consistency. A loss last round puts them in a good position to bounce back, going off their form in earlier rounds, meaning the Tigers will have to watch out against a side that can well and truly put teams under the pump.

The GIANTS will be without the experienced Alicia Eva this week, out with a foot injury alongside Yvonne Bonner (ankle), though the impact the former has on the side is decidedly more, making it a real question mark for the side. Alyce Parker will need to step up once more, something that shouldn’t be hard for the talented 19-year-old, averaging 17.8 disposals and three tackles for the season so far. Parker is another who doesn’t shy away from the contest, getting down and dirty to ensure her side finds the footy while Jess Dal Pos and Elle Bennetts have proven handy down back aiding Parker to propel the footy forward. Jessica Allan has been a solid mainstay in the ruck, averaging 17.5 hitouts per match though has not had too much of an impact on the ground – though had her best performance for the season last round so will hope to replicate that effort. Haneen Zreika and Rebecca Privitelli will hope to flourish against the Tigers, with the classy players both able to impact both across the field and on the scoreboard.

The Tigers will hope to provide some shock value to the GIANTS this week and pull out a win, but will need to put in a shared effort with a few players putting on consistent performances but ultimately unable to have much of a team victory. The side will be without ball magnet Katie Brennan thanks to a third quarter concussion last round, making this a tough one for the side which has struggled to impact on field even with all their star players at their best, while the loss of Courtney Wakefield (also concussion) is just as impactful after a dominant three-goal performance last round put her side in real contention for an inaugural victory. Monique Conti impressed last week on the track with 28 touches so will want to put her best foot forward once more while the likes of Phoebe Monahan and Kodi Jacques have been fairly consistent, able to impact the contest and could be a real hard unit. Christina Bernardi will want to lift after a couple of rough weeks on the field, and while she booted a goal last round her four touches were just not enough.

Tip: GIANTS by 20 points

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: J.Dal Pos – C 7 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: L.Steane 20 B.Tully 36 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 T.Mackrill 32 J.Hicks 5
F: C.Staunton 13 J.Barclay 34
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: S.Halvorsen 30 E.McKinnon 23 R.Privitelli 19 L.Stephenson 12 A.Schmidt 11

Emerg: I.Nielsen 25 T.Davies 16

In: T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen, E.McKinnon
Out: Y.Bonner (Ankle), A.Eva (Foot), I.Nielsen (Omitted)

RICHMOND

B: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Seymour 28
HB: H.Whitford 20 P.Monahan 2 R.Miller 15
C: H.Burchell 9 S.Molan 1 K.Dempsey 19
HF: L.Bailey 12 S.Frederick 14 C.Bernardi – C 6
F: L.McClelland 16 T.Stahl 24
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 G.Campbell 43
I/C: S.Sansonetti 18 E.Wood 17 K.Jacques 10 L.Tesoriero 7 M.Brancatisano 5

Emerg: A.Woodward 13 N.Butler 22

In: K.Dempsey, T.Stahl, L.Tesoriero
Out: K.Brennan (Concussion), A.Woodward (Omitted), C.Wakefield (Concussion)

Carlton v. St Kilda
Ikon Park, 7.10pm

Sophie Taylor

The high flying Blues will want to prove their point in the competition this round when they take on St Kilda, a side with only one win under its belt but a great one at that. Carlton has had a stellar start to the season having recruited well at the end of last year, and are sure to put the Saints under the pump with their ability to apply pressure both on the footy and on the scoreboard. While the Saints have not necessarily had a bad start to the season, they are yet to really apply the scoreboard pressure that would ensure them wins, though a pressurised defensive unit against Melbourne got the job done in Round 3. The Saints also pushed Fremantle to the final seconds last round to prove they can apply phenomenal pressure when required, but will need to do a lot more up forward to give opposition sides little opportunity to come from behind and win.

For the Saints, it seems to be more of a consistency issue with the side floundering in the first few rounds before taking advantage of the likes of Caitlin Greiser, Tilly Lucas-Rodd and Darcy Guttridge who have all had some good games in the mix, while Rosie Dillon and Alison Drennan were key players in the almost-victory last week. However, the side was also shot with season-ending injuries last round forcing some changes, with Tarni White and Kate McCarthy forced to watch from the sidelines and seeing Kelly O’Neill, Samantha Johnson and Emma Mackie enter the fray. The Blues have had an impressive start to the season, and bar a loss to Collingwood in Round 2 have scarcely missed a beat in season 2020.

Darcy Vescio proved last round why she is such a key cog for Carlton and, while she missed more than she kicked (2.3), Tayla Harris had no issue finding the footy inside 50 against the reigning premiers last week in a real hark back to her 2018/19 season form. In her second season on the big stage, Maddy Prespakis is having a stellar start to 2020 with an innate ability to find the footy and the tenacity to get the job done in any scenario. Carlton have made no changes this round and ultimately they had no need to after a solid outing last week, with Kerryn Harrington and Lucy McEvoy also putting on impressive performances. While St Kilda has the defensive pressure to deny the Blues some easy goals, Carlton has a plethora of players who can have an impact forward making them hard to stop once they get going.

Tip: Carlton by 15 points.

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington 9 V.Laloifi 8 J.Edwards 25
C: K.Loynes – C 2 G.Gee 19 S.Hosking 10
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 D.Vescio 3
F: L.McEvoy 13 B.Moody 16
Foll: A.Downie 30 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: N.Plane 32 C.Dalton 15 B.Walker 14 L.Brazzale 12 J.Hosking 11

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 C.Jones 22
In: None
Out: None

ST KILDA

B: K.O’Neill 20 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 R.Dillon 25 M.McDonald 1
HF: D.Guttridge 5 S.Johnson 6 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: P.Kelly 16 N.Xenos 27 C.Phillips 35
I/C: E.Mackie 3 R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 A.Drennan 8 I.Shannon 11

Emerg: C.Whitfort 4 S.Karlson 26
In: K.O’Neill, S.Johnson, E.Mackie
Out: T.White (ACL), C.Munn (Omitted), K.McCarthy (Knee)

SUNDAY, MARCH 8

Collingwood v. Western Bulldogs,
Morwell Recreation Reserve, 1.10pm

Michael Alvaro

It is do-or-die for Collingwood as it takes on the Western Bulldogs in Morwell on Sunday, looking to remain in the finals hunt despite a spade of key injuries. In facing a fellow Conference B and inaugural AFLW side, the Magpies can get a true measure of their improvement this year against another developing list.

But the Pies will have to endure their finals tilt without star key defender Ash Brazill, who heartbreakingly went down last week with an ACL injury, while Ruby Schleicher has also been ruled out for the season with a wrist injury. Ringing in the changes, Collingwood have brought Ebony O’Dea and Maddie Shevlin back into the fold among the back five, while Sophie Alexander slots in up forward and Eliza Hynes has been named on an extended bench. The changes mean Sophie Livingstone will have to shoulder much of the defensive responsibility, with Bri Davey a chance to drift back to her customary defensive role.

Injuries have hit the Dogs too, with Bonnie Toogood’s knee complaint from last week ruling her out for this clash. But in a reprieve for the struggling Footscray unit comes in the form of vice-captain Brooke Lochland’s return, with ruck Celine Moody slotting straight back into the starting lineup and Deanna Berry featuring on an extended bench full of young talent. At 1-3 and equal-last in Conference B, Nathan Burke’s side will hope their current stock has enough in the tank to outgun the wounded Magpies.

The spines of both sides are a key feature, with some high-end movers making up the core of each developing squad. Ellie Blackburn has been ever-present at the heart of the Bulldogs’ side, while young guns Isabel Huntington and Gabby Newton are set to bookend the lineup, but are not locked down to just one role. On the other hand, Collingwood boasts the likes of Davey and Jaimee Lambert through midfield, while Chloe Molloy and Livingstone provide the height up either end, with the former four also all able to have their magnets shuffled.

The youth on show is also notable, with many young pups trusted with key roles. Round 4 Rising Star, Newton heads an impressive list of Under-20s including Elisabeth Georgostathis, Gemma Lagioia, Britney Gutknecht, Hannah Munyard, and Eleanor Brown, while Collingwood is set to line up with Alana Porter, Lauren Butler, Mikala Cann and Jordyn Allen among the starters. With plenty of future guns on show, this match-up should pique the interest of neutrals, especially if either side can get the free-flowing ball movement they are capable of, going. It seems more is on the line for Collingwood, but the Dogs will be in for the hunt and can never be counted out if it all clicks.

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 E.O’Dea 50 M.Shevlin 35
C: S.Rowe 7 M.Cann 25 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: S.Alexander 24 S.D’Arcy 4 B.Davey 3
F: J.Lambert 13 C.Molloy 2
Foll: S.Layton 1 B.Bonnici 8 J.Allen 6
I/C: A.Sheridan 14 E.Fowler 15 S.Casey 22 J.Membrey 21 S.Dargan 46 E.Hynes 11 K.Lynch 16

In: E.O’Dea, M.Shevlin, S.Alexander, E.Hynes
Out: A.Brazill (ACL), R.Schleicher (Wrist)

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: E.Gamble 14 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 B.Lochland 1
HF: G.Newton 5 K.Rennie 24 K.McLeod 6
F: D.Marshall 26 E.Georgostathis 17
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 D.Berry 7 G.Lagioia 12 H.Scott 22 H.Munyard 20 A.Guest 19 B.Gutknecht 18

In: B.Lochland, C.Moody, D.Berry
Out: B.Toogood (Knee)

Melbourne v. West Coast,
Casey Fields, 3.10pm

Michael Alvaro

Round 4 winners Melbourne and West Coast are primed to go head-to-head at Casey Fields, with the chance to notch consecutive victories up for grabs on Sunday afternoon. Home ground advantage should play into the Dees’ favour, unbeaten at their usually blustery fortress this season while the Eagles are yet to notch up an away win from two attempts.

Fresh off a defeating an injury-hit Collingwood side, the Demons will have to manage a string of their own forced omissions, with ruck Meg Downie ill and Lauren Pearce only lasting a week back in the side – out with knee soreness after playing predominantly forward in Round 4. But the Dees have managed to cover their losses in the tall department with youngster Eden Zanker taking up ruck duties, while Adelaide premiership forward Sarah Perkins may be in for an AFLW return having been named on an extended bench. She comes in as a supplementary player, with untried rookies Brenna Tarrant and Krstel Petrevski also again featuring as emergencies in the squad.

The Eagles will take a reasonably steady squad into this clash as they look to back up a memorable maiden AFLW win, with only one change confirmed as they too opt for an extended bench. Mature-age draftee Chantella Perera has been managed for the trip across the Nullarbor, with Melissa Caulfield set to take her spot in the starting side – not exactly as a like-for-like. The uncapped Mhicca Carter and social media coordinator Katherine Orme also slot in as inclusions as the Eagles look to maintain their winning formula on the road.

Engine room operator Karen Paxman, the only Demon to average over 20 disposals to date, will again look to outwork the opposition’s prime movers through midfield, with Dana Hooker and skipper Emma Swanson the Eagles’ key ball winners and in serious form. While Daisy Pearce has injected some drive and class to the competition’s stingiest backline, Melbourne have somewhat fallen short up the other end with a points total only good enough for ninth in the league. But given West Coast boast the lowest points total of any side, it is hard to see the Eagles boot a winning score on this long away trip – with their victorious effort of 30 last time out sticking out among a trio of totals in the teens, and no player kicking more than one goal across the board.

The Eagles will need to get creative forward of centre to break down the experienced and sturdy Dees, but the likes of Hooker, Swanson, Mikayla Bowen, and Imahra Cameron can all find the goals from further afield. In the face of those threats, the Demons will back themselves to outgun their opponent on each line and quell whatever the Eagles can produce in their own half, with a winning score of 46 last week boding well for their chances here against Conference B rivals.

Tip: Melbourne by 15

MELBOURNE

B: H.Cordner 21 L.Birch 9
HB: S.Lampard 8 D.Pearce – C 6 S.Goldrick 23
C: C.Sherriff 18 E.O’Dea 5 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 A.Newman 16 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 J.Parry 19
Foll: E.Zanker 29 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 N.McEvoy 17 L.Mithen 14 B.Tarrant 20 T.Hanks 28 K.Petrevski 31 S.Perkins 33

In: L.Mithen, B.Tarrant, K.Petrevski, S.Perkins
Out: M.Downie (Illness), L.Pearce (Knee soreness)

WEST COAST

B: C.Davidson 33 T.Radan 26
HB: S.McDonald 35 B.Smith 14 C.Guard 4
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: M.Collier 8 G.Kelly 15 M.Caulfield 10
F: K.Gibson 2 A.Atkins 9
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: M.Dowrick 5 E.McGuire 31 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 B.Devlyn 7 K.Orme 32 M.Carter 21

In: M.Caulfield, K.Orme, M.Carter
Out: C.Perera (Managed)

Fremantle v. Brisbane,
Fremantle Oval, 5.10pm

Michael Alvaro

The two conference leaders, Fremantle and Brisbane are set to locks horns at Fremantle Oval on Sunday in a clash between the only remaining undefeated sides.

The hosts sit pretty atop Conference B with an unblemished 4-0 record, one game clear of their next best rivals and with a sizeable percentage of 167.7. Having only travelled once this season, it is fair to say the Dockers have revelled in front of adoring home fans in a successful campaign to date. But a real test on the road in Round 4 against expansion side, St Kilda got a little close for comfort, meaning the Dockers will need to lift this week to stay perfect in season 2020.

On the other hand, the Lions have been the surprise packet of the year, going from strength to strength since downing reigning premier, Adelaide in Round 1 to sit half a game clear atop Conference A. A draw against Gold Coast in the competition’s first-ever Q-Clash remains the only blemish on the Lions’ record thus far, with experienced heads and outstanding rookies helping the them to put a heavy list turnaround firmly in the past.

Both sides look set to come in unchanged, but have the potential to shuffle the magnets with two players each named on respective extended benches. The Dockers have selected Evangeline Gooch and Mia-Rae Clifford as their inclusions, with both looking to break back into a steady line-up after featuring earlier in the season. Similarly, the Lions have added Gabby Collingwood and Jordan Zanchetta to the squad, with the latter yet to get on the park this year.

Each engine room features hardened ball winners, with Fremantle standout Kiara Bowers leading her side for disposals, contested possessions, clearances, tackles, and metres gained to be one of the leading candidates for the league MVP at the mid-way point. She may well be the match-up for exciting Brisbane mature-age draftee Cathy Svarc, who is coming off a breakthrough 23-disposal and two-goal performance against GWS – all while maintaining a tag on GIANTS star, Alyce Parker. But the Lions’ options through midfield seems a touch deeper, with the pair of Emily Bates and Ally Anderson running riot of late to comfortably lead the club’s disposal count.

The area where Fremantle will look to stretch its opponent may be in the tall department, with first-year players Roxanne Roux and Mim Strom already impressing, while Gemma Houghton has been productive both in the air and at ground level – albeit sometimes lacking the finishing touch. Brisbane mainstay and defensive rock Katie Lutkins is sure to have her hands full with the trio should all three drift forward, but will be confident in her ability to intercept given she leads the league in marks, and is only second behind teammate, Svarc in intercept possessions.

The ground-level movers on either side should provide some highlights too, with Fremantle’s Sabreena Duffy and Ebony Antonio always dangerous, while Brisbane’s Lily Postlethwaite and Jess Wuetschner are as classy as any player on the ball under competition leading goalkicker, Jesse Wardlaw. With tantalising match-ups and match-winners across the ground for either side, this one looks poised to go down to the wire as one team’s 0 is set to go.

Tip: Fremantle by 6

FREMANTLE

B: E.O’Driscoll 3 J.Cuthbertson 29
HB: A.Stannett 24 P.Seth 18 L.Pugh 32
C: K.Antonio – C 15 H.Miller 19 E.Gooch 8
HF: E.Antonio 12 R.Roux 17 A.Sharp 1
F: G.Houghton 27 S.Duffy 6
Foll: M.Strom 21 K.Bowers 2 J.Stewart 7
I/C: K.Flood 44 K.Grieve 13 L.Mascall 14 L.Rohde 11 G.O’Sullivan 22 B.Webb 26 M.Clifford 4

In: E.Gooch, M.Clifford
Out: None

BRISBANE

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

In: G.Collingwood, J.Zanchetta
Out: None

ROUND 5 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [21]: Gold Coast / North Melbourne / GWS / Carlton / Collingwood / Melbourne / Fremantle
Taylah Melki [20]: Geelong / North Melbourne / GWS / Carlton / Collingwood / Melbourne / Fremantle
Sophie Taylor [20]: Geelong / North Melbourne / GWS / Carlton / Western Bulldogs / Melbourne / Fremantle
Peter Williams [17]: Geelong / North Melbourne / GWS / Carlton / Collingwood / Melbourne / Fremantle