Tag: Madeline Keryk

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Geelong

GEELONG finished its second AFL Women’s campaign half a game away from consecutive finals berths, recovering from three defeats to open the season to end with a 2-4 record. The Cats were thrice beaten on home turf in what was a season of ups and downs, leaning on fixtures against expansion sides to eventually claim their two home-and-away victories. Despite a second knee injury to Nina Morrison and the retirement of inaugural club captain Melissa Hickey, there were plenty of positives to be taken from Geelong’s year; with the exuberance of its developing side shining through in glimpses, and a host of players taking their games to the next level. Revisit the good, bad, and otherwise produced by the Cats this season in our review, with a focus on their outstanding players.

RECORD: 5th (A), 2-4, 80.8%

RESULTS:

R1: lost to Fremantle by 16 points
R2: lost to Brisbane by 19 points
R3: lost to Adelaide by 11 points 
R4:
defeated Richmond by 22 points 
R5:
defeated Gold Coast by 20 points
R6:
lost to North Melbourne by 46 points

Having to recover from three consecutive losses to open the season is far from ideal for any side, and that was just the challenge that Geelong faced this year. After bringing it to Fremantle for three quarters in Perth, the Cats lost twice on their own patch and put a sizeable dent in their finals aspirations. But a roaring win against the Tigers in Round 4 got them on the board, and a rousing comeback victory over Gold Coast a week later had them on track. But again, it was always going to be tough to overcome North Melbourne and lock in a post-season entry, as the Cats finished their season on another low point despite the positives of the previous fortnight.

SEASON HIGH: The spirited win over Gold Coast

This was an ultra-impressive win for Geelong having been tested away from home by a team which always has a crack in the Gold Coast SUNS. The Cats looked to have blown their early ascendancy as a second term lapse saw them fall behind, but the fighting spirit to get back on top and pull away showcased the best of the Cats’ character. 2018 draft class pair Morrison and Olivia Purcell starred in the win with over 20 disposals each, providing a glimpse of what Cats fans can look forward to.

SEASON LOW: Nina Morrison’s second ACL tear

For all the promise around Geelong’s season came bouts of bitter disappointment, and this was arguably the most difficult pill to swallow. After steadily building form in each of the six Rounds, former number one draft pick Morrison looked to be flourishing at the top level, and the shock of a second ACL tear in as many years was felt across the competition. We got to see her potential, but we can only hope to see the end product after another heartbreaking setback.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Olivia Purcell (20.2 disposals, 1.8 marks, 3.2 tackles, 5 clearances, 2 rebound 50s, 2.5 inside 50s, 4 goals)

The highly-touted youngster was one of many Cats to make an enormous step in their development this season, moving into the elite midfield group on the back of a strong campaign. The 19-year-old was her side’s prime mover each week, and added the happy knack of kicking goals to her consistent ball winning capabilities. A clearance machine, Purcell also led her side for disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, score involvements, and inside 50s. The only Cat to earn All Australian squad selection.

Madeline Keryk (12.2 disposals, 2.3 marks, 2 tackles, 3.5 rebound 50s)

Much of the success of Keryk’s season can be put down to a move to the backline, with the former-Blue thriving in her new role behind the ball. In addition to collecting career-best numbers in a range of categories, the 25-year-old also led the Cats for rebound 50s this season while disposing at an efficiency of 70 per cent. A calm user who reads the play well, Keryk was a key part of a solid back five for Geelong.

Julia Crockett-Grills (14 disposals, 2.2 marks, 3.7 tackles, 1.8 rebound 50s, 1.2 inside 50s)

Perhaps one of the midfielders to have flown under the radar at times given the fanfare afforded to others, the hard-working Crockett-Grills finished the year only second to Purcell for disposals as a constant in the engine room. As one of the most-improved Cats this year, the 25-year-old proved her worth at the elite level with a string of solid performances working both ways.

Richelle Cranston (13.8 disposals, 2 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1 rebound 50, 1.7 inside 50s, 5 goals)

‘Rocky’ has been a fan favourite since day one at the Cattery, and did no harm to her reputation with an outstanding 2020 season. Cranston was a terrific generator of speed on the outside, while also finding the goals in four of her six outings. And who could forget her awesome solo effort against Fremantle in Round 1, showcasing everything good about this gutsy footballer.

Meghan McDonald (14.3 disposals, 4 marks, 2 tackles, 2.8 rebound 50s, 1 inside 50)

Rocked by a finger fracture on the eve of the season, McDonald missed the first two round before making a swift recovery to feature prominently in the back half of the year. As arguably the most important member of Geelong’s defence last season, the 28-year-old former-Bulldog got right back to her ways in organising a solid back five and leading as one of the Cats’ 2ICs. A great interceptor and mover of the ball.

SURPRISE PACKET:

Rebecca Webster (12.8 disposals, 3.5 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1.3 rebound 50s, 2 inside 50s)

There may be a slight theme in that much of Geelong’s improvement came from its defence, and Webster was another to take a significant step in her development this season. After taking out the Cats’ VFLW best and fairest award, the 172cm prospect translated that form well to the elite level across all six games, showing marked improvement as an able user in the back half.

YOUNG GUN:

Millie Brown (8.3 disposals, 1.5 marks, 1.2 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 78% efficiency)

The Cats’ prize pick in the 2019 draft was Brown, who lived up to all expectation with a debut campaign beyond her years. The 19-year-old father-daughter recruit played all six games in her maiden season, locking down a role in Geelong’s back five in quick time. Barring a disposalless outing against Richmond in Round 4, Brown showed plenty of promise as a solid play-breaker inside defensive 50.

VERDICT:

Last year’s finals berth despite a negative record did not do much good for the Cats’ draw in 2020, and in all fairness, they won each game they were definitely expected to. The flashes of brilliance were great to watch, however too sparing, but those key lapses in form will be ironed out once this developing squad further improves. If the rate of improvement shown in some players can be matched next year, watch out.

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 preview: Round 4 – Erin Phillips returns for Grand Final rematch

ROUND 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s season is set to be a big one, with a grand final rematch and a bushfire relief match among a number of key matchups. Melbourne has a third Friday night matchup in a row with a battle against Collingwood as a curtain-raiser to the men’s State of Origin for bushfire relief, while Adelaide and Carlton clash on Sunday afternoon with the massive and highly anticipated return of Erin Phillips in tow.

Friday, February 28

Collingwood v. Melbourne, Marvel Stadium, 5:35pm AEDT

Taylah Melki

In the curtain raiser to the AFL Bushfire Relief game at Marvel Stadium, Collingwood will be hoping to return to the winners list with a victory against the fourth placed Melbourne. The Pies were pipped at the post last round, despite dominating inside 50s and possession count and will need to rectify that if they are to win against a strong Demons outfit. It will be an evenly poised game with both teams winning two games and losing one apiece highlighting just how tight the competition is and more importantly how important a victory here would be for their finals chances.

Collingwood have improved rapidly in 2020 with their fast pace ball movement and running style of play on full display throughout each of their games. The return of Chloe Molloy has done wonders to the side with the talented footballer not afraid to get down and dirty, extracting the ball at the coalface and disposing of it cleanly. She is not the only valuable inclusion with Bri Davey making a name for herself in the black and white. Davey is a good ball user and often imposes herself with her physical nature while Jaimee Lambert has taken her game to another level with her attack on the footy and accuracy in front of goal. If this trio can get going on Friday night it will go a long way in getting the Pies over the line. Defensively the likes of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone have put up a wall in defence with the two rebounding well out of the back 50 and taking a host of marks to repel any forward forays. Brit Bonnici and Sarah Rowe are coming off hot performances with the two winning a truck load of the footy last round and will be hoping to repeat those efforts once again this week. Sharni Layton has been a revelation in the ruck for Collingwood with her well-timed taps and physical development making her a real force to be reckoned with.

The Demons are not without star power of their own and will have a real hunger in the belly after a narrow five-point loss in Round 3. Pregnancy does not seem to have stopped Daisy Pearce with her clever ball use and general footy understanding on full display each and every game. Other keys players the likes of Karen Paxman down back and Elise O’Dea through the midfield have been huge for Melbourne consistently winning the ball and using it carefully to hit up targets and not waste opportunities. Libby Birch has continued to develop throughout the opening games of the 2020 season with her consistent ability to put boot to ball while the tackling pressure of Tyla Hanks and Chantel Emonson have been key contributions in the Demons victories. Up forward Melbourne have a wealth of options with Tegan Cunningham able to clunk marks midair and kick truly while the likes of Aliesha Newman will be hoping to return to the scoreboard after a lean couple of weeks.

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 S.D’Arcy 4 R.Schleicher 18
C: S.Rowe 7 M.Cann 25 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: S.Dargan 46 A.Brazill 10 B.Davey 3
F: S.Layton 1 C.Molloy 2
Foll: E.Fowler 15 B.Bonnici 8 J.Allen 6
I/C: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 S.Casey 22 J.Membrey 21 K.Lynch 16

Emerg: E.Hynes 11 K.Stratton 41

In: K.Lynch
Out: K.Stratton

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 E.O’Dea 5 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 T.Cunningham 1 S.Scott 12
F: E.Zanker 29 T.Hanks 28
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 J.Parry 19 N.McEvoy 17 L.Pearce 15 A.Newman 16

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 B.Tarrant 20

In: J.Parry, L.Pearce
Out: S.Heath (Illness), M.Guerin (injured)

Saturday, February 29

Richmond v. Geelong, Queen Elizabeth Oval, 3:10pm

Taylah Melki

Both sides are yet to win a game in season 2020 and with the Tigers chasing their first ever win expect this to be a tough battle. On paper Richmond have a stronger team with a couple of key players able to turn a game on its head but have struggled to generate any real momentum so far while on the other hand the Cats have a plethora of young talents that would be hoping to get the ball rolling in the winning department. Although it is a bottom of the table clash expect both sides to bring plenty of intensity and hunger to win the pill at the coalface.

The Tigers have two key pillars inside the forward 50 with captain Katie Brennan looking to really assert herself on the competition after a slow start to the Richmond legacy. Brennan is renowned for her strong leading patterns, clean hands and ability to hit the scoreboard something she will want to do early in the clash to gain early ascendancy in the match. fellow forward Sabrina Frederick will also be hoping to throw her weight around inside the forward 50 and clunk some big marks to send shock waves through the Cats defensive unit. If both Frederick and Brennan can get the scoreboard clicking over early and apply some heat inside the forward arc it will go a long way in setting up a potential win. Through the midfield Monique Conti has been in hot form with the highly skilled footballer good below the knees and able to sight players on the lead even when in congestion. Grace Campbell is not afraid to apply physical pressure coming off a 10-tackle game last round while Phoebe Monahan will want to keep the good times rolling. Christina Bernardi  will want to lift her output to give the Tigers a chance of toppling the Cats.

With no wins in 2020 the Cats will be hoping to use their possession style of footy to upset the Tigers and create separation at the bottom of the ladder. Although they do not have the likes of Brennan up forward their youth is what drives them with Olivia Purcell and Nina Morrison able to explode out of the middle and cause headaches with their ball winning abilities. Morrison is not afraid to throw her body into the contest, often at the bottom of the pack trying to free the footy and push it down forward. Melissa Hickey is another key cog for the Cats credit to her high footy IQ and clever positioning across the ground while Richelle Cranston can set the game alight with her speed and strength, able to rag doll opponents and break free with ease. when it comes to scoring options the likes of Madeleine Boyd and Phoebe Williams are the main dangers with the two able to sight the goals and kick truly. Both Jordan Ivey and Madeline Keryk have shown their defensive prowess credit to their strong tackling pressure and will want to replicate that form again this round to down the Tigers.

Tip: Richmond by 5 points.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 G.Seymour 28
HB: R.Miller 15 P.Monahan 2 H.Whitford 20
C: H.Burchell 9 K.Brennan – C 3 S.Molan 1
HF: M.Brancatisano 5 L.McClelland 16 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 S.Frederick 14
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 K.Jacques 10
I/C: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Campbell 43 E.Wood 17 A.Woodward 13 L.Bailey 12

Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 L.Lesosky-Hay 23

In: H.Whitford
Out: L.Tesoriero (injured)

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Webster 21 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: R.Cranston 30 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3 K.Darby 8 A.Teague 40 G.Clarke 17

Emerg: G.Rankin 10 C.Blakeway 4

In: K.Darby, A.Teague
Out: M.Boyd, R.Caris

North Melbourne v. Gold Coast, Arden Street Oval, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It may be a battle of second and fifth in Conference A this round, but a lot is at stake for the Kangaroos if they lose this match, only sitting two competition points ahead of the Suns. If both GIANTS and Crows get wins and the Roos go down to the Suns, North are in danger of dropping as low as fifth which could really test the side heading into the mid-point of the season. However, a win for the Suns could put them in an unprecedented position in second on the ladder and facing two currently winless teams in the coming weeks in Geelong and West Coast Eagles, which could set the Suns up for a solid run home and potential finals chance.

For North Melbourne, they will want a fast start at their Victorian home, and with the Suns having to make the trip down to Melbourne, the Roos are sure to make it count, especially given the stakes. With the likes of Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton, Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner providing key options around the field, North are at no risk of running out of ball movers and can be hard to stop once they get inside 50. 2019 Tasmanian draftee Mia King will get her first taste of the big league against Gold Coast, with a chance at proving herself against an unchanged Suns outfit.

The likes of Lauren Bella (57 hitouts), Jordann Hickey (averaging 21 intercept possessions) and Jamie Stanton (averaging 20 intercept possessions and 16.7 disposals) will be key for the Suns, but while they have a number of solid forward options they are likely to have a tough time against the Roos who will want to show who’s boss after an impressive win against Richmond last round. Despite a draw last round, the Suns have maintained the same list so will look to retain some of the grunt they had last week against the Lions and build on their consistency.

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points.

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: J.Grierson 19 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Trend 21 J.Garner 25 A.Riddell 7
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 K.Ashmore 10
F: E.King 60 E.King 4
Foll: V.Saad 39 E.Kearney – C 9 J.Bruton 35
I/C: D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 T.Nestor 24

Emerg: E.Humphries 6 B.Lynch 20

In: D.Hardiman, M.King
Out: B.Lynch, A.Green

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 S.Watson 14
C: T.Ernst 19 H.Dunn 24 C.Hammond 29
HF: E.Hampson 21 J.Hewett 20 P.Parker 1
F: K.Howarth 23 K.Surman 26
Foll: L.Bella 2 L.Kaslar – C 11 J.Stanton 17
I/C: D.Heslop 25 B.Perry 16 M.Ritson 12 T.Thorn 15 J.Yorston 5

Emerg: T.Groves-Little 3 A.Hamilton 30

In: None
Out: None

West Coast Eagles v. Western Bulldogs, Leaderville Oval, 7:10pm

Sophie Taylor

It’s a high stakes, but low level clash between the two Western sides, with the Eagles one of three teams yet to put a win on the board while the Bulldogs have just the one win on the board so far for the season in a start to the year that eerily mirrors that of 2019. The Bulldogs should be feeling fairly confident going into this match despite being in enemy territory, which is one thing the Eagles will have going for them after a horror start to the season.

The Eagles will look to the experience and star power of Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson to do what they do best, with run and carry and an innate ability to find the footy key for the Eagles to get that inaugural win on the board. Youngster Mickayla Bowen has been steadily improving week by week so will aim to continue that run, while only five players – including Bowen – have put goals on the board for the season, with no multiple goalkickers, making it a real test to see whether the Eagles can apply some scoreboard pressure to get a win. Parris Laurie has averaged 20 hitouts per game to start the season – second in the competition – so will look to use the ball to advantage against a relatively even opposition in Kimberley Rennie (equal third with Lauren Bella) for the Dogs.

The Bulldogs have a number of changes heading into this round, with Ashleigh Guest joining the fray while 18-year-olds Hannah Munyard and Britney Gutnecht will make their debut in the absence of key names in Brooke Lochland, Angelica Gogos and Deanna Berry. Munyard and Gutnecht are sure to fit in well with the relatively young Dogs side, and paired with fellow young guns in Gabby Newton, Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgostathis, will look to have an impact on enemy territory. Bonnie Toogood and Ellie Blackburn will look to maintain control across the field to enable the Dogs opportunities to drive forward.

Tip: Bulldogs by 16 points.

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: C.Perera 27 S.McDonald 35 C.Davidson 33
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 G.Kelly 15 M.Collier 8
F: A.Atkins 9 E.McGuire 31
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: M.Dowrick 5 B.Devlyn 7 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 C.Guard 4

Emerg: K.Orme 32 K.Bartlett 20

In: C.Davidson, E.McGuire
Out: T.Tester (injured), K.Orme

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 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: D.Marshall 26 E.Georgostathis 17
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 A.Guest 19 H.Munyard 20 H.Scott 22 B.Gutknecht 18

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 A.Van Oosterwijck 28

In: A.Guest, H.Munyard, B.Gutknecht
Out: D.Berry (concussion), A.Gogos (knee), B.Lochland (quad)

Sunday, March 1

Adelaide v. Carlton, Hisense Stadium, 1:10pm

Sophie Taylor

Erin Phillips will make a much-awaited return on Sunday when the Crows take on their 2019 grand final foes in Carlton. While Carlton have improved in leaps and bounds since last year’s final, it’s safe to say the Crows will come in favourites despite sitting on the same win-loss record for the season so far (2-1). Both sides come into this round off the back of solid wins in Round 3, but have also fallen to unlikely foes in the opening rounds so will be in for an interesting battle on Sunday afternoon.  Both teams have the ability to jump up the ladder with a win this week to put them in good stead for a finals berth even at this earlier stage of the season, though for Carlton a loss could be catastrophic with a number of teams on their trail and looking to break into the top three of Conference B. Both sides have a plethora of young talent that’s punctuated by a wealth of experience, making for an interesting contest.

With the handy inclusion of Phillips, the Crows will be hard to stop after showing some impressive form this season despite key injuries. The likes of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff have impressed early, sitting on a total of 82 and 72 disposals respectively to start the season, leading the competition and creating a formidable opposition across the ground. With 12 tackles last week, Marinoff will want to provide that same pressure again this week while Hatchard will hope to return to her Round 1 form where she racked up 35 touches. The likes of Danielle Ponter and Madison Newman are able to have an impact when required to make for a real battle of the young guns, and while Newman did not have the desired impact last round, Ponter put four goals on the board to prove her strength in the competition.

Carlton duo Maddy Prespakis and Lucy McEvoy are as consistent as they come despite their youth, creating opportunity down the field and working well with their teammates to provide plenty of ball inside 50. The real test for the Blues will be to find the likes of Tayla Harris, who has booted three goals for the season but needs to lift her game if the Blues want to get past the Crows this round. Defensively, the likes of Kerryn Harrington and Vaomua Laloifi have been stellar with 18 and 17 intercept possessions from their respective three matches, while 19-year-old Grace Egan leads the tackling count with 19.

Tip: Adelaide by 12 points.

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 M.Rajcic 32
HB: J.Mules 23 S.Allan 39 N.Allen 8
C: A.Foley 3 E.Marinoff 10 A.Considine 16
HF: S.Thompson 14 E.Phillips – C 13 E.Jones 2
F: D.Ponter 15 C.Biddell 12
Foll: J.Foley 24 A.Hatchard 33 C.Gum 5
I/C: R.Forth 27 S.Li 19 N.Gore 7 N.Campbell 20 R.Metcalfe 11 C.Gould 1 M.Newman 17

In: A.Considine, E.Phillips, R.Metcalfe
Out: C.Cramey (injured)

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 B.Vernon 31
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 N.Stevens 21
C: C.Dalton 15 G.Gee 19 S.Hosking 10
HF: J.Edwards 25 T.Harris 7 N.Plane 32
F: L.McEvoy 13 D.Vescio 3
Foll: B.Moody 16 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: J.Hosking 11 A.Downie 30 K.Loynes 2 L.Brazzale 12 B.Walker 14 C.Wilson 20 C.Jones 22

In: C.Wilson, C.Jones
Out: None

St Kilda v. Fremantle, RSEA Park, 3:10pm

Tom Cheesman

St Kilda are looking to cause their second major upset in the space of a fortnight when they take on the unbeaten Fremantle at RSEA Park. The Saints got their first win of the season last weekend by taking down premiership fancies Melbourne at Moorabbin. Fremantle are also coming off a major three-point victory against Collingwood to continue their undefeated streak. Given Conference B rivals Collingwood, Carlton and Melbourne all have difficult matchups this weekend, the Dockers will be looking to extend their lead on top of the table with a dominant performance. However, if St Kilda can match the intensity they have brought in their last two encounters, this should be a great challenge for the Dockers.

Speedy midfielder Georgia Patrikios has been a revelation for the Saints this season, breaking the lines with run and carry to launch her side into attack. The excitement machine averages 17 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s per game. Key forward Caitlin Greiser has also made a major impact, kicking four goals in her past two matches and providing a strong presence up forward. Tarni White has been tidy for the Saints in defence, while Tilly Lucas-Rodd continues to find plenty of the ball through the midfield.

Fremantle’s forward line has been outstanding so far in 2020, led by Sabreena Duffy and youngster Roxanne Roux. Duffy leads the race for AFLW’s Leading Goalkicker alongside Brisbane’s Jesse Wardlaw, while Roux trails them by just one goal. Roux has also been working up the ground to register three marks, two tackles and two inside 50s per game. Kiara Bowers has been outstanding up the centre of the ground, averaging 15 disposals, four inside 50s and an astonishing 15 tackles per game. Meanwhile, Hayley Miller and Philpa Seth will look to back up their strong performances against Collingwood last week.

Tip: Fremantle by 11 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 T.Luke 22
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 R.Dillon 25 M.McDonald 1
HF: C.Munn 13 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 A.Drennan 8 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 C.Fitzpatrick 24 O.Vesely 23 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11 S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: C.Fitzpatrick, S.Johnson, P.Kelly
Out: J.Sedunary (injured)

FREMANTLE

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

In: E.O’Driscoll, M.Clifford
Out: None

Brisbane Lions v. Greater Western Sydney GIANTS, Hickey Park, 5:10pm

Sophie Taylor

The final match of the round will see a big one between first and third on the Conference A ladder, with the Lions only ahead thanks to a draw last round against the SUNS. Both sides will come into this match with plenty to prove, with little change to their respective Round 3 lists and potential bragging rights to stay atop the ladder. The undefeated Lions haven’t looked back this season, with impressive wins to start the season before the draw last week marred their perfect record. With an ability to pile on the goals and fairly quickly at that, the GIANTS could be in for a tough one if the Lions have their eye in, especially given their inconsistency staring the season.

Brisbane will welcome back Jess Wuetschner for the first time since Round 1, adding another key cog to their already solid rotation, with Lauren Arnell and Emily Bates having good starts to the season while Jesse Wardlaw booted three goals in Round 2 so will hope to get back to that form this week against the GIANTS, currently leading the sides’ goalkicking tally with five to her name and plenty more opportunities to add to that. Alexandra Anderson has also proved to be a handy inclusion with an average of 18 touches per game for the season so far and has steadily improved and developed her game since her 2017 debut. Young gun Lily Postlethwaite had a slow match last week against a tough outfit in Gold Coast so will want to prove her point in this matchup after collecting a handful of touches and applying some good pressure on the body in the opening rounds.

The GIANTS have some solid names among their group, but this season have ultimately struggled to find their form – up until last round, when they dominated against a lowly West Coast outfit. Alyce Parker and Alicia Eva have been consistent as ever this season, leading from the front and create a contest wherever they go. The pair lead majority of the stats for the GIANTS in what has been a frankly sloppy start to the season, but have kept their heads high to reap the reward of their consistency with the win last round. GWS are another side that has a smattering of goalkickers that have not really had a chance to star yet this season, meaning this could be their opportunity if they can take control early.

TIP: Brisbane by 15 points.

BRISBANE

B: C.Svarc 25 S.Webb 4
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 S.Campbell 20
C: N.Grider 10 B.Koenen 3 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 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Wuetschner 23 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 T.Hickie 24

In: J.Wuetschner, T.Hickie
Out: None

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: J.Dal Pos 7 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: Y.Bonner 27 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: I.Nielsen 25 R.Privitelli 19
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: B.Tully 36 L.Steane 20 J.Barclay 34 L.Stephenson 12 A.Schmidt 11 T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: None

ROUND 4 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [16]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Carlton / Fremantle / Brisbane
Taylah Melki [17]: Collingwood/ Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Sophie Taylor [16]: Melbourne / Richmond / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / Brisbane
Peter Williams [14]: Collingwood / Geelong / North Melbourne / Western Bulldogs / Adelaide / Fremantle / GIANTS

AFL Women’s Round 1 review: Pies win opening round as Lions upset reigning premiers

BRISBANE’s youth stepped up downing reigning premiers Adelaide at home, as Collingwood claimed its first win in Round 1 from four tries. All four expansion sides suffered defeats, with the Gold Coast SUNS getting within one point of victory against the GIANTS. We recap the remaining six games after our Match of the Round saw Melbourne topple North Melbourne at Casey Fields.

RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.2 (14)
CARLTON 1.5 | 1.8 | 5.9 | 6.12 (48)

By: Michael Alvaro

Richmond’s induction into the AFLW proved a baptism of fire as Carlton outclassed the Tigers to come up 34-point winners in Friday night’s season opener. The Blues looked at home on the Ikon Park turf, outmuscling the league newcomers through the engine room and having all the territory in the 6.12 (48) to 2.2 (14) drubbing. Signs were ominous early despite the scoreline not suggesting as much, with Katie Loynes’ first term major the only one in the opening half as Carlton failed to translate its dominance to scoreboard pressure. Even still, the Blues’ midfield trio of Loynes, Madison Prespakis, and Sarah Hosking brutalised that of the Tigers, setting the tone with their work rate, punishing pressure, and superior contested ball winning to get well on top.

The 2019 Rising Star, Prespakis then took over after the main break, inspiring her side to a game-breaking four-goal to nil third term as things began to look ugly. But things were not all bad for the Tigers, with boom forward recruit Sabrina Frederick making history as she slotted Richmond’s first ever AFLW goal three minutes into the final quarter, receiving a good pop from the adoring crowd. Fellow tall target Courtney Wakefield also joined in on the goalkicking action, getting on the end of a fantastic bit of transitional play to give fans a glimpse of what the Tigers may be capable of in time. Monique Conti (13 disposals, four tackles) was arguably the best in a losing side, combining through midfield with skipper, Katie Brennan (10 disposals) but lacking the grunt to turn the game around. Phoebe Monahan and Christina Bernardi also stood up in the yellow and black, while Akec Makur Chuot was terrific in an under-siege defence, positioning expertly to intercept and rebound assuredly.

For the Blues, Prespakis picked up from where she left off in 2019, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles on her way to best afield honours. Hosking worked like the Energizer bunny in the first half to finish with 17 touches, while captain Loynes had it 13 times and Lucy McEvoy debuted impressively with 12 disposals and five marks. The dynamic forward targets of Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio proved troublesome inside 50, while ruck Breann Moody showed improvement from the middle. The Blues will again feature at Ikon Park up next, set to face another traditional rival and bunny side in Collingwood, while the Tigers travel up to Queensland to face fellow newcomer, Gold Coast on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield, S. Frederick.
Carlton:
T. Harris, M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, A. Downie, K. Loynes, B. Walker.

ADC BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, A. Makur Chuot, C. Bernardi, C. Wakefield, P. Monahan, S. Frederick
Carlton:
M. Prespakis, L. McEvoy, S. Hosking, K. Loynes, T. Harris, B. Moody

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)
GOLD COAST 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

By: Nikki Jamieson

GWS narrowly avoided a loss in torrential weather to the Suns in Blacktown doing just enough to limp over the line. The match favourites had to work hard for their victory while the Suns looked to kick off their 2020 campaign with a fairy-tale beginning, taking advantage of the conditions to show that they should not be underestimated. Gold Coast denied any easy access to goals for the GIANTS only registering two points up until half time before the gears started to kick in, in the third term to apply scoreboard pressure. Both sides worked tirelessly, not willing to give an inch and scrapping hard to win the slippery footy but in the end it was the experience of GWS that prevailed.

Gold Coast’s Brittany Perry made history, kicking the team’s debut AFLW goal in the early in the match resulting in an early lead. The experienced co-captains, in Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar, were able to keep the young team under control. Breakout stars for the Suns included ex-Lion Jacqui Yorston who proved she was a tackling machine with a whopping 12 tackles to her name along with 13 disposals while Jamie Stanton also made an impact with 15 disposals and five tackles.

Thankfully for the home side, they gained their lead back through a goal late in the third term by Aimee Schmidt. GWS’ experience proved to be the decider, as outstanding second and third efforts by Alyce Parker led the way racking up 22 disposals and five tackles. Re-listed Rebecca Privitelli was a key factor in the GIANTS narrow win, with 14 disposals and a potentially match winning behind. New captain Alicia Eva had a similarly influential game, with 17 disposals and six tackles.

In Round 2 both teams play on the Saturday again, with GWS taking on North Melbourne in Tasmania and the Suns have their first home match against Richmond at Metricon Stadium.

GOALS:

GIANTS: A. Schmidt.
Gold Coast: B. Perry.

ADC BEST:

GIANTS: A. Parker, A. Eva, B. Tully, C. Staunton, H. Zreika, R. Privitelli.
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, S. Virgo, J. Yorston, H. Dunn, B. Perry, L. Ahrens.

COLLINGWOOD 0.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 5.8 (38)
WEST COAST EAGLES 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.5 (11)

By: Taylah Melki

It was a history making performance for both sides with Eagles captain Dana Hooker scoring the first goal in her club’s inaugural match while also racking up 18 touches. But that was where the fairytale ended for West Coast, with Collingwood securing their first win in Round 1 in AFLW history. It was a sluggish start to the match for the Magpies who went scoreless in the opening term thanks to the Eagles mountain load of defensive pressure applying strong bumps and tackles. But the tables slowly turned in favour of the Pies with Collingwood peppering the forward 50 and capitalising on their opportunities.

After 693 days out of the game, fan favourite and former Rising Star, Chloe Molloy made her presence felt across the footy field nailing the Pies opening goal of the match and racking up 10 touches. Captain, Steph Chiocci also starred in the black and white leading from the front and slotting a nice goal on the run to get her sides nose in front. Former Diamonds goal keeper, Sharni Layton followed suit with a history making performance kicking her first AFLW goal, while Jaimee Lambert and Sarah D’Arcy also found the big sticks with ease. Defensively the Collingwood duo of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone seemed impossible to break through with the two reading the play with ease and picking off passes willy nilly. Brazill made the most of her speed and dynamic movement while Livingstone showcased her strong set of hands. But their victory was soured by a suspected lower leg injury to star recruit Bri Davey who went down midway through the third quarter.

The Eagles had glimpses of magic with Emma Swanson a ball magnet across the ground with her 18 disposals, while teammate Imahra Cameron was a real live wire tackling hard and running the ground with ease. Youngster Mikayla Bowen was also a tackling machine collecting a game-high 10 tackles and while she did not win a heap of the ball, her off the ball pressure was through the roof. Despite a dominant first quarter, West Coast simply could not maintain that high intensity pace allowing Collingwood to wear them down and poke holes in their defence to claim first spot on the ladder.

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Layton, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci
West Coast: D. Hooker

ADC BEST: 

Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, S. Livingstone, B. Bonnici.
West Coast: D.Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen, I. Cameron, M. Dowrick.

BRISBANE 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
ADELAIDE 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

By: Taylah Melki

The Brisbane Lions kicked off their 2020 campaign in style defeating the reigning premiers in style. The Lions got the jump on the Crows early opening up a two-goal lead and did not look back steadily building their attacking momentum and only allowing Adelaide to score one goal up until the fourth quarter. Adelaide fought back in the last quarter to add some respectability to the score line and prove they still have what it takes to score freely despite being well held for majority of the match.

Lauren Arnell was electric for the Lions using her physicality and go get it attitude to win the ball at the coal face while also hitting the scoreboard. Arnell led the way for Brisbane with two majors while reliable defender Kate Lutkins was up to her usual tricks with 17 disposals 14 of which were kicks. In her debut game, Lily Postlethwaite plied her trade across the field amassing nine touches and showcasing her physical intent laying five tackles. Ally Anderson was in hot form racking up the touches across the field with 16, while Emma Zielke did not muck around collecting 15 touches.

Although it was not the Crows day, Anne Hatchard made history with a whopping 35 touches in what was a complete performance from the talented midfield. In the absence of Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, Hatchard stood up and seemed to have the ball on a string while also controlling both the forward and defensive 50. Teammate Ebony Marinoff also played a major role for the Crows with the 22-year-old amassing 21 disposals and throwing her weight around with six tackles. Marinoff was not afraid to go in hard at the contest and extract the footy, using her awareness and vision to sight players in space. New recruit Courtney Gum hit the scoreboard in her first outing as a Crow while Angela Foley also added a major. Sarah Allan showcased her skill set to cover the ground well and win the ball at the coal face with 18 disposals but unfortunately it was not enough to get them over the line, with Brisbane running out comfortably.

GOALS:

Brisbane: (2) L. Arnell, O. O’Dwyer, G. Bodey, J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw.
Adelaide: C.Gum, N.Gore, A. Foley.

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: L. Arnell, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, E. Zielke, L. Postlethwaite
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Foley, C. Gum

ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 | 5.1 | 5.2 | 6.3 (39)

By: Peter Williams

A fast-starting Western Bulldogs team has outclassed St Kilda in its inaugural game, playing the role of party poopers at the Saints’ homecoming to RSEA Park, Moorabbin. The Bulldogs booted the first three goals of the game, including two to Bonnie Toogood and one to Danielle Marshall – who broke history becoming the first American to kick a goal in the AFL Women’s competition. With the game starting to slip by, the Saints gave the crowd something to cheer about with Georgia Patrikios combining with Molly McDonald to slot through the latter’s first in her AFL Women’s career.

The Dogs headed into the the break with a three-goal lead, and while the Saints were never able to head them, it was a much closer contest in the remaining three quarters. St Kilda stepped up and lifted its defensive pressure and used the ball better, booting a last quarter goal to Jess Sedunary – the final one of the match to counter the Western Bulldogs’ only goal of the half – to Kirsty Lamb – which ended any hope of the home side coming back and put it out to a game-high 32 points. The final 25-point margin was an accurate representation of the game, with the Bulldogs a bit too slick and too experienced for the young Saints.

Patrikios looked at home in the competition on debut, racking up 18 touches, two marks, three inside 50s and five tackles, while setting up the Saints’ opening goal with a lovely kick across 50 to hit-up a free McDonald, using her elite vision to find her in space. McDonald herself was very impressive with 12 touches – all kicks – four marks, three tackles, two rebounds, one inside 50 and a goal, while Olivia Vesely also stood out with the second most disposals of anyone in the red, white and black, picking up 14 disposals, one mark and four tackles.

For the Dogs, Ellie Blackburn showed just how elite she is with a standout performance of 17 touches, four marks, five tackles and a poster that caused a premature celebration from the captain believing it had split the big sticks. Hannah Scott and Lamb also picked up 17 disposals each, recording a combined five marks and 10 tackles, while number one draft pick, Gabby Newton had 13 disposals and eight tackles, playing off half-forward and having stints on-ball.

GOALS: 

St Kilda: M. McDonald, J. Sedunary.
Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, D. Marshall, B. Hunt, K. Lamb, B. Hunt.

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, O. Vesely, H. Priest, K. McCarthy, N. Exon
Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Hunt, K. Lamb. H. Scott, A. McCarthy, K. Rennie

FREMANTLE 1.0 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 6.8 (44)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

By: Michael Alvaro

Fremantle made the ideal start in its quest to go one better than its preliminary final-making 2019 campaign, kicking away late to topple Geelong by 16 points on home turf. Fremantle young gun Sabreena Duffy played a starring role, booting more than half of her side’s score with four goals in the 6.8 (44) to 4.4 (28) triumph.

While the Dockers enjoyed plenty of time in their forward half with 48 inside 50s to 13, the Cats controlled the uncontested ball and transitioned well while making better use of their opportunities up forward. It meant the visiting side had an answer for each challenge, with the two sides going goal-for-goal in the first three terms with the margin not breaching seven points either way. But Duffy’s fourth goal and one followed by Gemma Houghton sealed the deal for Fremantle late in the final term, with the winners made to earn their first set of premiership points.

Duffy was the spearhead up forward, but had good support in the form of Houghton (17 disposals, five tackles, 1.3) and star debutant Roxanne Roux (seven disposals, 1.2), while Kiara Bowers took on a mammoth workload with 22 touches and 14 tackles from midfield. The Cats’ top end was made to work hard, with promising youngster Olivia Purcell racking up a game-high 27 disposals, while Julia Crockett-Grills (22 disposals, five marks), Rebecca Webster (21 disposals, seven marks), and Madeline Keryk (20 disposals, four marks) stood up in Geelong’s defensive half. Richelle Cranston had arguably the highlight of the day with her second term goal, handballing to herself on the break and slamming the ball home, while Nina Morrison made a steady return to action with a goal from nine touches. A home fixture is up next for the Cats as the Lions come to town, while Fremantle is set to play out in the inaugural AFLW Western derby on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Fremantle: S. Duffy 4, G. Houghton, R. Roux.
Geelong: G. Clarke, R. Cranston, M. Maguire, N. Morrison.

ADC BEST:

Fremantle: S. Duffy, K. Bowers, G. Houghton, R. Roux, H. Miller, K. Antonio
Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Cranston, R. Webster, M. Keryk, D. Taylor

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Geelong

IN arguably the most stable club off-season in the entire AFL Women’s competition, Geelong was quiet on both on the recruiting and trading front. The Cats delisted six players from the inaugural 2019 list that took Geelong to the finals series, while Erin Hoare retired. They did not lose anyone to expansion or through trade, and instead headed to the AFL Women’s Draft to find new talent.

In the draft, Geelong picked up a future captain in Millie Brown who led the Bushrangers this year, matching a bid for the father-daughter prospect to continue the tradition from father Paul in the blue and white hoops. Brown will likely be a Round 1 starter if fit, and she was joined at the club by NAB League Girls’ leading goalkicker Mia Skinner who is the sole Geelong Falcons player to join the team. The Cats then targeted experience, picking up Amy McDonald and Madisen Maguire out of their own VFL Women’s backyard, whilst also selecting Carlton’s Gemma Wright and Casey’s Nicole Garner.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers), Gemma Wright (Carlton VFLW), Mia Skinner (Geelong Falcons), Nicole Garner (Casey Demons), Amy McDonald, Madisen Maguire (Geelong VFLW)
OUT: Erin Hoare (retired), Hannah Burchell, Mia-Rae Clifford, Elise Coventry, Maighan Fogas, Hayley Trevean (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Cassie Blakeway
Madeleine Boyd
Millie Brown
Rene Caris
Georgia Clarke
Richelle Cranston
Julia Crockett-Grills
Kate Darby
Renee Garing
Nicole Garner
Rebecca Goring
Melissa Hickey
Jordan Ivey
Madeline Keryk
Madisen Maguire
Amy McDonald
Meghan McDonald
Phoebe McWilliams
Nina Morrison
Aasta O’Connor
Danielle Orr
Olivia Purcell
Mia Skinner
Denby Taylor
Anna Teague
Sophie Van De Heuvel
Rebecca Webster
Gemma Wright

Rookies: Maddy McMahon, Georgie Rankin

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Denby Taylor – Rebecca Goring – Anna Teague
HB: Millie Brown – Meghan McDonald – Mel Hickey
C: Renee Garing
HF: Olivia Purcell – Madeleine Boyd – Nina Morrison
F: Kate Darby – Phoebe McWilliams – Sophie Van De Heuvel
R: Aasta O’Connor – Richelle Cranston – Julia Crockett-Grills
INT: Rene Caris – Maddy McMahon* – Madeline Keryk – Danielle Orr – Rebecca Webster
EMG: Jordan Ivey – Georgia Clarke – Gemma Wright

DEPTH: Cassie Blakeway, Nicole Garner, Madisen Maguire, Amy McDonald, Mia Skinner, Georgie Rankin*

Geelong’s potential line-up for 2020 is one of versatility, with so many players capable of filling a role in multiple positions. With 2018 number one draft pick, Nina Morrison returning, the Cats will find a spot for her, with Brown another likely chance, while the other mature-age recruits will push for spots but are in the emergencies and depth at this stage. With the departure of Hoare, expect Rene Caris to be handed a greater role through the ruck, learning from Aasta O’Connor and sharing time in the role to eventually take over full-time in the next few seasons. The Cats’ side has a good balance of youth and experience from which is exciting, and its forward line is as damaging as ever.

Expect Morrison to play more of a half-forward role in returning from her knee injury, while fellow 2018 draftees, Olivia Purcell, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Denby Taylor and Georgia Clarke should all become strong members of the side by the end of the season – with some already there. The biggest plus for the Cats is they made the finals despite various injuries and setbacks throughout the year, and conference debate aside, showed they could compete with the majority of teams. They have not lost anyone outside of their control, with Mia-Rae Clifford perhaps the one surprise delisting. Other than that, they retain the majority of their list and head into 2020 full of confidence, and rightfully so.

VFLW weekend wash-up: Hope tears it up as Bulldogs, Tigers and Pies continue good form

ROUND 5 is done and dusted with two teams still sitting undefeated from five rounds of action, meaning the ladder has almost fully shaped up with the teams to beat well and truly sorted. Carlton were pipped at the post once more, going down by only seven points to remain winless, while the Magpies came away with their fourth win on the trot over the Demons. Meanwhile, Mo Hope showed the competition why she was an AFL Women’s marquee player.

CARLTON: 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 7.4 (46)
NT THUNDER 2.1 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 8.5 (53)

By: James Halley

GOALS:

Carlton: B. Moody, N. Plane, N. Stevens, M. Clifford, M. Jarvis, T. Cassar, S. Wright.
NT Thunder: T. Holtze 2, K. Irvine 2, S. Riley 2, M. Roberts, S. Hoogeveen-Hill.

BEST:

NT Thunder: K. Irvine, C. Randall, N. Gore, K. Streader, M. Roberts, S. Miskin-Ripia
Carlton: A. McKay, M. Prespakis, J. Hosking, N. Stevens, T. Cassar

Carlton went down to the Northern Territory in their home away from home at La Trobe University by seven points. There was a strong wind going towards the left side of the ground all day, which Carlton were not able to fully capitalise on in the last quarter. The first quarter was hotly contested which resulted in many turnovers for both sides, but Northern Territory was able to edge ahead by five points at the first break. The Blues dominated the second term, keeping the Thunder goalless while kicking two themselves. Thunder’s Tayla Thorn tried her hardest in defence but the volume of entries was too much to handle. The third quarter belonged to the Thunder as they were able to wrestle the momentum back their way, kicking four goals to one to regain the lead heading into the final term. In the last quarter both teams went goal for goal, until Northern Territory’s Machaelia Roberts was able to shrug off two tacklers and stream inside 50 and kick the winning goal for the Thunder with less than two minutes left on the clock. Maddy Prespakis and Breann Moody were instrumental for the Blues in the midfield, while Fremantle AFLW recruit Mia-Rae Clifford was a focal point for Carlton in the forward line. Thorn was massive for the Thunder on the last line of defence, while Chelsea Randall was very classy, using her speed and agility to make the Blues look second rate. The Thunder were very dangerous up forward with Sally Riley, Tahlia Holtze and Kristy Irvine all kicking two goals apiece. To make the loss worse for Carlton, defender Jess Edwards looked to have seriously injured herself in the dying minutes of the match, needing medical assistance long after the final siren sounded.

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.1 | 1.4 | 3.5 | 4.8 (32)
MELBOURNE UNI 0.5 | 2.7 | 5.7 | 6.7 (43)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Williamstown: S. Whiting 2, G. Anderson, J. Heard.
Melbourne Uni: N. Bresnehan, H. Whitford, D. Bannister, K. Angelis, K. Cox, B. Gibson.

BEST:

Williamstown: M. Hope, A. Newman, M. Williamson, S. Whiting, J. Reid, R. Dardengo
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson, T. Mesiti, E. Hay, A. Runnalls, K. Cox, D. Bannister

A massive game from former Collingwood and North Melbourne AFL Women’s player, Mo Hope was not enough to get Williamstown across the line against Melbourne University on Saturday. The Seagulls led at the first break by two points courtesy of an inaccurate quarter by the Mugars who went goalless with five behinds on the board. The visitors hit the front in the second term, delivering the only two goals of the term to head into half-time with a nine-point advantage. They then extended the lead to 14 points in a high scoring third term which saw five goals kicked, before both teams managed a goal in the final stanza for the Mugars to win and ensure the Seagulls remained winless to start the season. Hope was the talking point in the game, amassing a mind-boggling 39 disposals, two marks, three tackles and a behind, while Melbourne AFLW livewire Aliesha Newman had 22 touches, one mark and four tackles in the defeat. The Mugars on the other hand had an even team effort, with Jess Trend (19 disposals, six marks, one tackle), Sophie Abbatangelo (15 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three behinds) and Daria Bannister (15 disposals, one mark, eight tackles and a goal) all impressive. Sharnie Whiting continued her good form this season for the Seagulls with 2.3 from 14 touches and two marks to be the only multiple goal kicker in the game.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 3.2 | 3.3 | 5.6 (36)
DAREBIN FALCONS 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.2 (8)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: M. Ward, S. Jolly, H. Wildes, M. Sandral, E. Gavalas.
Darebin: S. David.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod, S. Jolly, B. Hunt, E. Gavalas, B. Lochland, B. Toogood
Darebin: B. Patterson, C. Byrne, G. Colvin, S. David, R. Hibbert, A. Lister

Western Bulldogs piled on more pain to Darebin Falcons to remain one of the teams to beat after five rounds, winning four consecutive games to start the season, while Darebin remains winless. The Bulldogs have proven to do it in low-scoring slogs, being only the eighth highest scoring side, but are far and away the number one defensive team, and this weekend was no different, restricting Darebin to just one goal for the match. The Bulldogs had 11 scoring shots throughout the game, starting slowly, and were outscored in the third term when they were held goalless, but steadied to kick the final two goals of the match to win by 28 points. Ellie Gavalas was impressive with 23 disposals, two marks, three tackles and a goal, while Katelyn Betts also played well, notching up 20 touches, one mark and laying a massive nine tackles. Western Bulldogs listed players, Kirstie Lamb and Bonnie Toogood found plenty of the ball too, registering 18 touches each and sharing in 12 marks. For Darebin, the experienced names stood up despite the loss, with Melbourne AFLW ruck, Lauren Pearce helping herself to 22 touches, six marks, three tackles and 23 hitouts, while Gold Coast’s Jamie Stanton finished with 18 touches, one mark and three tackles.

RICHMOND 2.1 | 7.1 | 7.3 | 8.7 (55)
GEELONG 3.2 | 3.3 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Richmond: J. Colwell 2, K. Jacques 2, E. Gunn, T. Stahl, C. Wakefield , J. Kennedy.
Geelong: M. Maguire 2, J. Crockett-Grills, O. Purcell, R. Webster.

BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, G. Campbell, K. Jacques, L. Davie, A. Makur Chuot, G. Egan
Geelong: J. Crockett-Grills, M. Maguire, O. Purcell, R. Goring, R. Webster, M. Keryk

The high-scoring Tigers remain undefeated in season 2019 after another big win, this time over last year’s grand finalists Geelong. The Cats raced out of the blocks to lead by seven points at the first break, before Richmond clicked into gear with five straight majors to the Cats’ one behind. It was Geelong’s turn to take the advantage in the premiership quarter, booting the only goal of the term while restricting Richmond to two behinds, before the Tigers held firm in the final quarter with a goal each, but extending the final margin to 22 points. The Tiger recruits in Monique Conti and Katie Brennan were sensational, as Conti picked up a game-high 29 disposals, three marks and five tackles, while Brennan had 22 disposals, five marks, five tackles and booted two behinds. Of the non AFLW-listed players, Grace Campbell (16 disposals, four marks and 11 tackles) and Grace Egan (13 disposals, one mark) were busy, while Jenna Colwell and Kobi Jacques both snagged two majors. For the Cats, young gun Olivia Purcell was terrific with 23 disposals, one mark, seven tackles and a goal, while Madeline Keryk helped herself to 15 touches, two marks and three tackles. Rene Caris had a tough task in the ruck against Alice Edmonds as her opponent had 12 touches and 30 hitouts, but Caris was always involved, having 11 touches and 13 hitouts, while Madisen Maguire booted two majors for the Cats.

CASEY DEMONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.1 | 5.1 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.4 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Casey: M. Guerin 2, K. Smith, A. Kemp, H. Cordner.
Collingwood: S. Dargan 2, S. Chiocci 2, G. Buchan.

BEST:

Casey: H. Cordner, E. Birch, N. Garner, G. McLean, T. Hanks, B. Winbanks
Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Allen, B. Bonnici, R. Schleicher, P. Nash, K. Lee

Collingwood has held on in a thriller to make it four consecutive wins, while handing Casey its second consecutive loss for season 2019. The victory pushed the Magpies into third spot just behind the Bulldogs and Tigers, and marked the return of AFLW captain, Steph Chiocci. The Demons led early with a seven-point advantage at quarter time, but the Magpies capitalised in the second term with three goals from seven scoring shots while strangling the life out of the home side. Casey hit back in the third term to hold the Magpies goalless and cut the deficit to just four points, but a steadying goal in the final term extended the lead to 10, before Harriet Cordner cut the deficit to four once again, but the time ran out for Casey. Chiocci made a successful return with two goals from 13 touches, one mark and three tackles, while Bri Davey had a massive second game back through the middle with 24 disposals, four marks and nine tackles. Sarah Dargan (19 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles and two goals) was sensational, while Maddie Shevlin won 13 touches, one mark and two tackles against her former side. For the Demons, Libby Birch remains a solid investment with another 20 disposals and whopping 13 tackles, while Tyla Hanks goes from strength to strength with 19 disposals and nine tackles. Cordner also had 15 touches, five marks, four tackles and six hitouts in the loss, while Maddy Guerin added another two majors to her total for the year, as well as 14 disposals, two marks and four tackles.

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 4

THE AFL Women’s season is about to pass the halfway point, with a Conference Round occurring in Round 4. Of the five games, four matches involve same-conference teams, while the cross-conference battle sees the reigning grand finalists go head-to-head in the prime time Saturday night match.

GEELONG vs. CARLTON
Saturday, February 23, 4.45pm
GMHBA Stadium

It seems somewhat strange that these two teams are the top two sides in Conference B with Carlton suffering the heavy Round 1 loss and Geelong going down in the past two encounters, but the sole victory for each side was enough to see them slot into first and second. The winner will take outright first depending if Brisbane can upset the Western Bulldogs, and go a long way to securing a finals place in the 2019 AFL Women’s competition. Carlton have been building over the past two weeks, looking more dangerous under new coach, Daniel Harford with dash and dare from defence to half-forward. Key forward Tayla Harris and young gun, Madison Prespakis both booted three goals last week and gave the GIANTS coaching staff some serious headaches. Geelong will look to counter the forward talent of the Blues, with the likes of Meg McDonald and former Blue, Madeline Keryk in great form this season. Mel Hickey and Richelle Cranston returned last week and will be keen to make a statement, while Darcy Vescio is yet to fire consistently this season and could be one in for a big game.

H2H: Geelong 0 | Carlton 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Geelong 1-0-0 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. BRISBANE
Saturday, February 23, 7.10pm
Whitten Oval

H2H: Western Bulldogs 1 | Brisbane 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Western Bulldogs 5-3-0 | Brisbane 0-0-0

In the only cross-conference game, we have a Grand Final replay between Western Bulldogs and Brisbane at Whitten Oval. It is the first time these teams have clashed at the venue, while the Bulldogs holding a 5-3 record when at home. Brisbane has the upperhand against the Dogs overall, winning both regular season games, with the Dogs’ only win between the sides coming in last year’s grand final. This game is crucial for both sides, but particularly the Bulldogs who sit in a stronger pool. The Dogs had a heavy loss against North Melbourne on the weekend and are anchored to the bottom but level with third placed Melbourne and fourth placed Adelaide. With those two sides playing the undefeated teams, the Bulldogs can jump to third spot with the right results. For Brisbane, they have a chance to try and catch Carlton and Geelong on percentage, and a win would guarantee them a top two spot after four rounds. The battle between midfield duos, Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti against Ally Anderson and Emily Bates will be fascinating, and Sabrina Frederick-Traub will be keen for a big game after being well held by Melbourne’s Harriet Cordner last week, although it does not get any easier this week with a stringent Bulldogs defence.

Last time they met: Western Bulldogs 4.3 (27) defeated Brisbane 3.3 (21) at Ikon Park, Grand Final, 2018

It was the most memorable game of last season, as the Western Bulldogs took home the AFL Women’s Premiership Cup at Ikon Park in the 2018 decider. Monique Conti was best afield for her 13 disposals (12 contested), four clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Ellie Blackburn had 17 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, three inside 50s and two inside 50s. Emma Kearney racked up 15 disposals, one mark, five clearances and a goal. All-Australian full-back Kate Lutkins had a game-high 21 touches as well as six marks, four tackles and four rebounds, while Jamie Stanton had 20 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds.

ADELAIDE vs. FREMANTLE
Saturday, February 23, 9.35pm
TIO Stadium

Up in Darwin the Crows and Dockers clash in what could well be the game of the round. Adelaide lost to the Western Bulldogs by a point in Round 1 but have not missed a beat since, while Fremantle have opened eyes with their performances both at home and away. Now the teams clash in a game that has enormous ramifications, with the winner putting themselves in a great position for finals in the final few rounds, while the loser drops back to the back. For Fremantle, they have the extra game in hand, and could well be primed for a finals spot if they take down the Crows, while Adelaide cannot afford to lose with both Western Bulldogs and Melbourne battling with the Crows in the mid-table. Erin Phillips and Ebony Marinoff have been unbelievable this season, while Anne Hatchard was terrific last round to add an extra dimension to the midfield. Fremantle’s Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan have been a ray of consistency, while Kiara Bowers has been a terrific find for the West Australian side. Fremantle’s forward line against Adelaide’s defence will be a battle within a battle.

H2H: Adelaide 2 | Fremantle 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 1-1-0 | Fremantle 0-1-0

Last time they met: Adelaide 6.4 (40) defeated Fremantle 5.6 (36) at TIO Stadium, Round 6, 2018

In the only game at TIO Stadium in Round 6 last season, these two teams battled it out in a thriller which resulted in the “home” team getting home by four points. The Crows had lost to Melbourne in the only other game at TIO Stadium the year before, so winning in front of the passionate crowd with Northern Territory players in Crows colours was important. Erin Phillips had a day out up forward with three goals from nine disposals, while NT Thunder star Angela Foley had 15 disposals, four marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Fremantle ball winner, Dana Hooker had a game-high 20 disposals, three marks, six clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals, while Lisa Webb racked up 16 touches, three marks, two clearances, five inside 50s and four rebounds.

COLLINGWOOD vs. GWS GIANTS
Sunday, February 24, 2.05pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

After playing in Moe last year, Collingwood returns to Gippsland, this time in Morwell for the Magpies to take on the GIANTS. In contrast to many of the other games, this game is the end of the line for one team, with both sides staring down the barrel of 0-4 starts. The premiership dreams of the loser would appear to be all over for season 2019, while the winner could join two other sides in equal second with victory. Being in the weaker conference, both sides are still in contention for a finals spot, but both sets of supporters’ hopes would be soon draining. Collingwood and the GIANTS’ fanbases are keen for a win, and victory in this clash could change the course of their season. Both are quite young with the likes of Jordyn Allen and Alyce Parker both impressing for the teams after coming in as first round draft picks. Mel Kuys returns for the first game of the season post-injury and helps with the Magpies’ experience, but the loss of Ash Brazill will hurt. For the GIANTS, Nicola Barr is a huge inclusion, while Haneen Zreika also returns to add some excitement into the team. While it might not be a top two blockbuster, both teams will not leave anything behind in search of a much-needed win.

H2H: Collingwood 1 | GWS GIANTS 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Collingwood 0-0-0 | GWS GIANTS 0-0-0

Last time they met: GWS GIANTS 7.6 (48) defeated Collingwood 5.5 (35) at Olympic Park Oval, Round 3, 2018

In reversing the result at the same ground the year before, GWS GIANTS took home an important four points to hand Collingwood its third loss of the season. Former Magpie, Alicia Eva was the star with 23 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s, while Courtney Gum and Phoebe McWilliams both booted two goals from 15 and 12 disposals respectively. Jaimee Lambert was the top Pie with 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Mo Hope found some form booting two goals and Emma King was dominant in the ruck with 18 hitouts, 11 disposals, three inside 50s and four rebounds.

MELBOURNE vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, February 24, 4.05pm
Casey Fields

In the final game of the round, Melbourne hosts North Melbourne in what is a crucial game for the Demons. After a Round 1 loss at Casey Fields, Melbourne will be keen to upset the all-powerful Kangaroos who have emerged as the clear premiership favourites with three high-scoring wins. Harriet Cordner will have a big job on any one of a number of dangerous Kangaroo forwards, while the Melbourne midfield will need to win against the Kangaroos’ onball brigade if they are to be a chance of taking home the four points. Elise O’Dea and Karen Paxman continue to find plenty of the ball, while Aliesha Newman crumbs to Eden Zanker and Tegan Cunningham inside 50. The star power of the Roos might be too much considering the form of Emma Kearney, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Emma King among others, but a loss for Melbourne could see them slip eight points outside the top two, while for North, a defeat could mean they forfeit top spot. North look certain to play finals, while Melbourne would love to grab the four points against a team that has shown to be the benchmark thus far in season 2019.

H2H: Melbourne 0 | North Melbourne 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Melbourne 5-2-0 | North Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

1st : Michael Alvaro [ 11 ]
2nd : Sophie Taylor [ 10 ]
3rd : Taylah Melki [ 9 ]
Eq 4th : Peter Williams, Matthew Cocks [ 8 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
GWS GIANTS
Melbourne

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

Geelong
Western Bulldogs
Fremantle
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Geelong
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Collingwood
Melbourne

 

Michael Alvaro

Men’s Football Editor

Last week: 5

Round 4 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Fremantle
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

 

Matthew Cocks

Guest Tipster

Last week: 3

Round 4 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

Weekend previews: AFLW – Round 2

AFTER an exhilarating first round, which saw four of the five matches go down to the wire, teams prepare to tweak game styles or mix up team sheets in order to get an advantage over their opponents. Four of the first round losers face off, with Melbourne heading to Victoria Park on Saturday to face the Magpies, while Carlton hosts Adelaide at Ikon Park on Sunday. The two sides who head home without any points face an uphill battle in the race for finals action. The fifth losing side from Round 1, GWS GIANTS has its own mammoth effort – trying to take down North Melbourne who simply blitzed Carlton. A maximum of three sides can remain undefeated after Round 2 with first round winners, Geelong and Western Bulldogs, and Fremantle and Brisbane facing off over the weekend.

GWS GIANTS vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Friday, February 8, 7.15pm
Drummoyne Oval

In the opening game of the round, new side North Melbourne fresh off a huge victory over Carlton, head to Drummoyne Oval to face the GIANTS. The GIANTS are playing just their second game at the venue, following a loss to the Blues this time last year. The battle within the contest is the All-Australian rucks going head-to-head with Kangaroos’ Emma King and GIANTS’ Erin McKinnon. North Melbourne’s midfield has great depth to it, lead by last year’s League Best and Fairest winner, Emma Kearney, Jamie Stanton, Jess Duffin and Ash Riddell, of whom the latter was ultra-impressive on debut. North Melbourne’s dynamic forward line features former Magpies, Jasmine Garner and Mo Hope, premiership-winning Bulldog Jenna Bruton, and former Lion Kaitlyn Ashmore. With the strength around the ground, it will be hard to contain the Roos if they win the midfield battle.

The one area the GIANTS could get an upper hand is through rebounding forward with an equally impressive, albeit underrated forward line. Jess Dal Pos, former Magpie Christina Bernardi and defender-turned-forward Cora Staunton are all capable of multiple goals, while Haneen Zreika was impressive on debut last week. The midfield simply has to win its fair share of head-to-heads, with Courtney Gum, Rebecca Beeson, Alicia Eva and Alyce Parker leading the way, while Amanda Farrugia, Emma Swanson and Tanya Hetherington will have big jobs coming out of defence. The Kangaroos took a massive 56 marks in last week’s huge win over Carlton, while still laying 66 tackles. The GIANTS laid just the 42 and only five in the forward 50, and will need to show more pressure inside 50 against a side capable of hurting you on the scoreboard really quickly. Both teams are generally good ball users and make the most of their opportunities so it will be fascinating to see which team can take the early advantage and put it on the scoreboard. North Melbourne will head in as favourites, but it is far from completely clear cut, and this will be a huge win for the GIANTS if they can get the job done at home.

H2H: GWS GIANTS 0 | North Melbourne 0 | Draws 0
Venue: GWS GIANTS 0-1-0 | North Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • Emma Kearney averages 20 disposals, 6.5 tackles, 4.5 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal against the GIANTS from two clashes.
  • Both AFL Women’s All Australian rucks are set to go head-to-head with Emma King taking on Erin McKinnon. In the battle between the pair last year, King won convincingly with 11 disposals and 18 hitouts to McKinnon’s three disposals and 14 hitouts.
  • GWS GIANTS’ only game at the venue resulted in a loss to Carlton last year, while North Melbourne looks to back up its only game – a huge win over Carlton last week.
  • The GIANTS have won two, drawn two and lost three games in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

 

COLLINGWOOD vs. MELBOURNE
Saturday, February 9, 4.45pm
Victoria Park

At one of the homes of traditional football, Collingwood hosts Melbourne in what has become a must-win for both sides. After heart-breaking losses in Round 1 despite leading at the final change, neither team can afford to go 0-2, with the reality that teams need at least four wins to secure a finals berth. A second loss means they must win four of their final five games as a minimum and with both still to play their respective conference favourites, it would spell trouble for their post-season hopes. However, for the winner, it is a chance to balance the ledger and get back on track early in the season. Collingwood has been a slow starter in year’s gone by, and has been overhauled with youth since last season, while Melbourne has also brought a number of young players into the team, furthering the development of players who got their starts last season. With both teams defensively capable, it will make for a great clash. The sides also sit at one win each in the head-to-head, funnily enough after the losing side in each game got a head start, but was run over the top of in the second halves.

Both teams have made two changes, with a debutant and a return from a long-term injury headlining the selection moves. Oakleigh Chargers’ tall, Katie Lynch comes into the side after Sophie Alexander’s concussion last week ruled her out of the game. Kristy Stratton was also ruled out through injury, with the Magpies opting to go tall by bringing in Eliza Hynes to try and stretch the Melbourne defence when forward, while rotating with Sharni Layton and Eliza Fowler. Melbourne have brought in Ainslie Kemp who has not played since 2017 due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear – sadly replacing Shae Sloane who suffered the exact same injury. The Dees have also brought in Ashleigh Guest for Claudia Whitfort. The key to victory for the Demons is restricting the run of Collingwood’s defence, which helped the Magpies hold up against Geelong last week with Ash Brazill causing all sorts of headaches, while Jordyn Allen was equally as impressive. They also need to clamp down on Jaimee Lambert who has the ability to turn a game with great plays, while Catherine Phillips could be the one asked to restrict Sarah D’Arcy from dominating in the air. For the Magpies, they need to be wary of Melbourne’s firepower with Tegan Cunningham and Eden Zanker likely to stretch the defence, while Aliesha Newman has pace to burn and both Kate Hore and Maddison Gay are capable of getting over the back and hurting teams on the rebound. Elise O’Dea, Karen Paxman and Lily Mithen are up there with the best midfields in the competition, and will look to control the stoppages around the ground and give their forwards early opportunities.

H2H: Collingwood 1 | Melbourne 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Collingwood 0-0-0 | Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: Collingwood 9.4 (58) defeated Melbourne 3.6 (24) at TIO Traeger Park, Round 4, 2018

After booting the opening two goals of the match and keeping Collingwood goalless in the opening term, the Demons only managed 1.4 for the rest of the match as the Magpies piled on 9.4 to run away with the match by 34 points. Magpies captain, Steph Chiocchi played one of her best games under lights, booting a goal from 17 disposals, two marks, four clearances and three inside 50s, while Jaimee Lambert had a team-high 19 disposals as well as three inside 50s and two rebounds. Caitlyn Edwards and Mo Hope both booted two goals in the victory, but arguably the best performance was that of Brittany Bonnici who tagged Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce and restricted her to a career-low nine disposals. For the Demons, Elise O’Dea was the top performer with 19 disposals, two clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Karen Paxman had 18 touches and three rebounds.

Fun facts:

  • Of the 42 players to take the field in last year’s clash in the Top End, just 24 players remain available for selection in season 2019. Even more remarkably, just eight players from Collingwood’s first match against the Demons – two years ago – remain on the list.
  • Elise O’Dea (17 disposals) and Karen Paxman (16.5 disposals) average the most disposals against the Magpies from their two clashes.
  • Sarah D’Arcy and Emma Grant average the most disposals against the Demons, with 10 touches apiece.
  • Both sides were in the lead at three quarter time after holding their opponent scoreless in the third term last week only to go on to lose the game in heartbreaking circumstances.

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, February 9, 7.15pm
VU Whitten Oval

H2H: Western Bulldogs 0 | Geelong 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Western Bulldogs 4-3-0 | Geelong 0-0-0

In the other game that will be the first time these teams go head-to-head is between reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs and new side, Geelong. Both teams had a win in Round 1 and this weekend marks the first home game for the Bulldogs, which means they will unfurl the 2018 AFL Women’s flag in front of what is predicted to be a strong crowd at VU Whitten Oval. The winner will most certainly get an early advantage given the strength of their opponent, and it marks the first game for the sides which sees them pitted against a non-conference rival. Both teams also know how to close out tight games, having survived one-point thrillers in the opening round to secure the four points. Given their experience and depth across the field, Western Bulldogs will head in as favourites, but Geelong are expected to throw down a challenge with a couple of key players returning.

The Cats have welcomed back key forward, Phoebe McWilliams and ruck, Erin Hoare to bolster their side against the reigning premiers. Georgie Rankin and Maighan Fogas have been the two unlucky players omitted from the victorious side last Saturday night, with Fogas and key defender, Georgia Clarke named as emergencies for the clash. The Dogs will unveil Irish debutant, Aisling McCarthy who comes into the side, replacing the omitted Belinda Smith. The enticing battle will see which defence holds up the best as both sides proved to have their respective opposition’s measure last week. Co-captain, Katie Brennan booted the Bulldogs’ two goals against the Crows, while Meg McDonald, Rebecca Goring and Madeline Keryk were among the Cats’ best under pressure when the Magpies were attacking. While the heartbreaking story of Nina Morrison doing her ACL at training will dominate headlines, Geelong still has a huge core of youth including Denby Taylor, Olivia Purcell and Sophie Van De Heuvel who will face established young talents in Monique Conti and Bonnie Toogood, and first round draftee, Eleanor Brown. Co-captain Ellie Blackburn is always a crucial player for the Dogs and will look to take control in the midfield, while the Dogs’ defence of Lauren Spark, Libby Birch and Hannah Scott will provide plenty of rebound.

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The Western Bulldogs lost three consecutive matches at VU Whitten Oval in 2017, but have since won all three games they have played there, and is the Dogs’ first home game since winning the 2018 AFL Women’s flag.
  • Aasta O’Connor will play against her old side for the first time, lining up in the ruck to face Kim Rennie, while sharing the ruck duties with Erin Hoare in the blue and white hoops.
  • Ellie Blackburn averaged 16.9 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.25 tackles and 3.25 clearances last season, the most of any current Western Bulldogs player.
  • With Brooke Lochland injured for the season, Phoebe McWilliams will be the leading goal kicker from last season in the match, booting seven goals for the GIANTS.

 

CARLTON vs. ADELAIDE
Sunday, February 10, 4.05pm
Ikon Park

H2H: Carlton 0 | Adelaide 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Carlton 4-1-2 | Adelaide 0-0-0

For the first time in 2019, Ikon Park hosts a match with the Blues heading back home to welcome the Crows in a Sunday evening game. The ground has traditionally been the host of the opening game of the year between bitter rivals, Carlton and Collingwood but that has changed in 2019. These teams are both heading into the match off the back of a loss, with Carlton’s heavy defeat to North Melbourne not the ideal start to the season following a wooden spoon, while the Crows will rue missed opportunities in front of goal after booting 1.11 against the Bulldogs at Norwood Oval. Adelaide is yet to play at Ikon Park, while Carlton has made it somewhat of a fortress winning four and drawing a fifth game from its seven matches at the venue. Considering they have only won one match outside Ikon Park, it has been a comfort zone and the Crows cannot afford to take them lightly. With Adelaide in the tougher conference, they would not want to drop this game and go 0-2 to start the season, while Carlton will look for its first win under Daniel Harford who would have learnt plenty from the round one defeat.

Looking at the Round 1 matches, efficiency inside 50 looks to be key, with Adelaide having a 75 per cent scoring efficiency with 18 shots from 24 attempts, while Carlton had just 10 shots from 29 attempts – 35 per cent scoring efficiency. Both sides have impressive forward lines on paper, but they will need to convert their opportunities. Any forward 50 with Darcy Vescio, Tayla Harris and Brianna Davey – who has actually been named in defence – is going to worry opposition defenders, while Erin Phillips is as good as anyone one-on-one and is lining up at full-forward, while Chloe Scheer is a young star who will only get better. Speaking of young stars, Madison Prespakis carried the weight of the midfield on her shoulders last week and was ultra-impressive on debut, so the Crows will need to be aware of her presence. The Adelaide midfield has greater depth and the Blues should look to limit the influence of Ebony Marinoff who racked up 23 disposals and laid 11 tackles in Round 1. If Carlton can restrict her influence on the inside and win the contested ball – with the likes of Jess Hosking and Katie Loynes getting on top, it will go a long way to causing an upset. Chelsea Randall leads the defence, while the experience of Renee Forth through the midfield will be important. Carlton will need to control the ruck contest through Breann Moody, and break even in the middle, while the Crows will focus on clearance domination to give their forwards first opportunity and more importantly, those forwards need to convert.

Last time they met: Adelaide 8.7 (55) defeated Carlton 2.8 (20) at Norwood Oval, Round 5, 2018.

Adelaide flexed their muscles against the Blues when the sides were heading in opposite directions. The Crows at home booted six goals to one after quarter time to run away from the Blues, but counted the cost of the win with injuries to Erin Phillips and Courtney Cramey. Ruth Wallace booted three goals, while Eloise Jones finished with two, as Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall shared 31 disposals. Breann Moody was dominant in the ruck for the Blues with 29 hitouts from 11 disposals and four clearances, while Tayla Harris had 11 disposals, three marks and booted a goal.

Fun facts:

  • Despite winning the wooden spoon last season, Carlton has a strong record at Ikon Park, having won four and drawn one from seven attempts.
  • If Carlton lose the match, it will mark more than a year since they won their last match.
  • While she picked up an injury in the second game, Erin Phillips was everywhere in the Crows’ first win over the Blues, racking up 21 disposals and eight clearances. In the same game, Ebony Marinoff laid 14 tackles from 16 disposals, her exact disposal average against Carlton.
  • Of the Carlton players to play against Adelaide in both games, the omitted Tilly Lucas-Rodd averages the most disposals with 13.5, while Darcy Vescio averages two goals per game against the Crows.

 

FREMANTLE vs. BRISBANE
Sunday, February 10, 3.05pm
Fremantle Oval

H2H: Fremantle 0 | Brisbane 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Fremantle 2-3-0 | Brisbane 1-0-0

Both sides won against the odds in Round 1, with Fremantle toppling Melbourne in scorching weather at Casey Fields after being 14 points down at the final break, while Brisbane knocked off GWS GIANTS a fortnight after succumbing to the GIANTS in a heavy practice match loss. Both sides had plenty to be positive about last week, most importantly securing an early four points, while also having plenty to improve upon for this week. Fremantle are back at home in Western Australia, but at their only other clash at the venue, Brisbane took home the points, though it was two years ago. Both teams look to be very different to that clash, with the Lions having a host of youth coming through, as do the Dockers while also filtering in some experienced local talent. Brisbane will go in as favourites given their history in the competition, but Fremantle’s performance last week certainly raised eyebrows and showed that everyone could be underrating the Dockers.

Both sides play a different brand of football which is really exciting for this clash. In Round 1, Fremantle battered and bruised their way to an impressive contested ball style, getting the pull forward to record a huge 11 marks inside 50, while laying 10 tackles in the arc. They harassed and pressured the Demons into making uncharacteristic mistakes, laying 77 tackles in the process. The Lions have tall targets up forward, but opted for a balanced possession game and spread well around the ground. They intercepted the GIANTS 51 times and took the game on, trying to unsettle the defence with possession football, but going when required. This game could well be a combination of both styles and sets up for a huge clash. The Lions forward line is severely underrated with Sabrina Frederick-Traub the dominant key position player, while McKenzie Dowrick and Jess Wuetschner are incredibly clever and dangerous around goals. Throw in Jordan Zanchetta, Emma Zielke and the defensively-minded but strong, Lauren Arnell and the Lions front six is as good as any. Ebony Antonio and Tayla Bresland were strong in defence last week, while the midfield of Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan are not huge ball winners, but always effective. They tackle the biggest ball-winning duo of Emily Bates and Ally Anderson who had the ball on a string last week, while the potential match-up of Kiara Bowers and Sam Virgo could be entertaining based on Round 1 form. Both teams have immensely talented youth coming through, and both teams’ first round picks, Sabreena Duffy and Paige Parker, have been named in the side.

Last time they met: Brisbane 3.4 (22) defeated Fremantle 2.3 (15) at South Pine Sports Complex, Round 4, 2018.

In a low-scoring affair that saw just one goal kicked in the first half, Brisbane held on in a thriller to win by seven points and remain on track for a grand final berth. Dynamic forward, Jess Wuetschner booted two goals from 18 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s, while Kate Lutkins and Ally Anderson both had 18 touches in the win. For the Dockers, Lara Filocamo had 18 disposals and laid five tackles. Kara Donnellan laid a whopping 10 tackles and had five clearances and 15 disposals.

Fun facts:

  • In their only clash at the venue, Brisbane defeated Fremantle by 13 points in Round 2, 2017. Fremantle has a 100 per cent winning ratio at Fremantle Oval over Victorian sides, but a zero per cent winning ratio over non-Victorian sides.
  • Jess Wuetschner has been the dominant goal kicker in the matches between these sides, averaging two goals per game.
  • Lara Filocamo averages the most disposals between the sides, with 17.5 per match.
  • Both sides won their opening round matches by less than a kick, with Fremantle getting a dress rehearsal for the scorching West Australian heat, winning at Casey Fields in 38 degrees Celcius.

 

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

Eq. 1st : Sophie Taylor, Matthew Cocks [ 3 ]
Eq. 3rd : Peter Williams, Taylah Melki, Michael Alvaro [ 2 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Collingwood
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Michael Alvaro

Men’s Football Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Matthew Cocks

Guest Tipster

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

GWS GIANTS
Collingwood
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 1

FOOTY is back and for the first time, 10 AFL Women’s clubs are preparing to achieve the ultimate glory. Each week we will preview and review the games, provide a Team of the Week, Draftee Watch piece and analyse the week’s statistics, as well as plenty more for the third season of the competition. Stay tuned on Draft Central for all the coverage.

GEELONG vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, February 2, 6.40pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

The opening game of the AFL Women’s season has a massive question mark for both sides. On one side of the head-to-head is a brand new team with no historical data at the elite level, aside from some of the players who have crossed from other clubs. On the other side is a team that has been gutted in terms of experience, especially in the forward half, but has picked up a number of elite young kids as well as players who can have an impact in the short-term. Playing in front of a home crowd will help the Cats in their inaugural clash,  while the Magpies will be keen to finally get a good start to their season after two losses in opening round games. Both teams are deemed to be in the “weaker” conference – by means of avoiding both past premiers and the heavily stacked North Melbourne – and a win against a conference rival is vitally important in the stakes for securing a top four place. The advantage both these teams have is the fact much of their core group played VFL Women’s together, and therefore in terms of team chemistry over a 12-month period are well adjusted.

Both teams head into the clash with key personnel out, as Collingwood’s Best and Fairest and 2018 AFLW Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy unavailable for the season, while Richelle Cranston will miss the first two rounds through suspension.  When talking about key youth, it is hard to look past some of the talent both clubs picked up in the draft. Geelong looked to its TAC Cup affiliate to select number one pick, Nina Morrison, as well as premiership teammates, Olivia Purcell and Denby Taylor. Add in talented GWV Rebels, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke, as well as Murray Bushrangers’ inside midfielder and defender, Rebecca Webster, and the future is very bright at the Cats. The Magpies also heavily invested in the draft, picking up two first rounders in Dandenong Stingrays’ captain, Jordyn Allen and Oakleigh Chargers’ tall, Katie Lynch. Expected to play up opposite ends, they are well complemented by Eastern Ranges’ speedster, Mikala Cann who 12 months ago was yet to play a competitive match of football. Versatile youngster, Lauren Butler is also expected to become a key feature in the Magpies’ side. With Geelong having the likes of Bec Goring, Madeline Keryk, Julia Crockett-Grills and Meghan McDonald among their contingent of impressive VFLW performers last season, they have a cohesive unit. The Magpies will look to the experience of captain Stephanie Chiocchi, Emma Grant, Sarah D’Arcy and Jaimee Lambert to lead the young side this season.

H2H: Geelong 0 | Collingwood 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Geelong 0-0-0 | Collingwood 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The game marks the first ever AFL Women’s game at GMHBA Stadium, the first time Geelong’s AFL Women’s side will play a match for premiership points, but the third consecutive year Collingwood will be involved in the opening match of the season.
  • Unfortunately for the Magpies, the opening match of the season has not been kind for them, losing both games to Carlton at Ikon Park, albeit in a much closer game in 2018.
  • The last time these two teams played in any form was the VFL Women’s Preliminary Final, which saw the Cats upset the minor premiers to bundle the Magpies out in straight sets and head into the decider against Hawthorn. Collingwood’s loss was compounded by an injury to 2018 Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy that would keep her out of the 2019 AFL Women’s season.
  • Collingwood booted 42 goals in season 2018. Players that contributed 36 of them are now either no longer on the Magpies’ list, or injured (Chloe Molloy – one).

 

ADELAIDE vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, February 2, 8.10pm
Norwood Oval, Adelaide

The game of the round is surely the match between the two AFL Women’s premiers. The 2017 champions, Adelaide take on the reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs in an evening game at Norwood Oval. Last season was a remarkable story for the Bulldogs, who overcame some key injuries, and the suspension of captain, Katie Brennan to topple Brisbane in the 2018 AFL Women’s decider. Adelaide would have been disappointed to not make the decider, but considering their injuries at different times, it was worth applauding their never-say-die attitude. A loss to Collingwood in the final round knocked them out of the race to go back-to-back, but they are now hungry as ever and keen to make amends in this match.

Both teams lost key players to long-term injuries in practice games a fortnight ago, with Adelaide’s number one ruck, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Western Bulldogs’ league leading goalkicker, Brooke Lochland both out. While the Crows will look to try and fill the void in the ruck, the Dogs certainly showed they have no shortage of forwards who can step up, and could turn to the likes of West Australian, Kate Bartlett who comes into the team with great forward nous at Under 18s level. Adelaide do have some serious firepower returning to the team with a fully fit Erin Phillips, and a dangerous youngster by the name of Chloe Scheer causing headaches inside 50. Adelaide could have the edge in the midfield given its depth with Phillips, Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall all running through there, but the Dogs’ key position players could stretch the Crows’ defence. If the Crows can keep it from the Dogs talls getting supply, then it will go a long way to deciding the match, but if the Dogs get on top of the Crows’ highly rated midfield, then they will be able to put on some serious scoreboard pressure. In saying that, the Dogs’ midfield is far from shabby itself with Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti among the most talented in the competition. It all adds up to being a cracker of a match.

H2H: Adelaide 2 | Western Bulldogs 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 2-2-0 | Western Bulldogs 0-1-0

Last time they met: Adelaide 6.5 (41) defeated Western Bulldogs 5.4 (34) at Norwood Oval, Round 3, 2018

Trailing the entire game, the Crows found something special in the final term to overrun the Bulldogs at home by just seven points. Chelsea Randall picked up 24 disposals (15 contested), had five rebounds and laid six tackles, while Ebony Marinoff laid a whopping 15 tackles on her way to 21 disposals, four inside 50s and five rebounds. But the inspiration was inaugural league best and fairest winner, Erin Phillips. The star played exclusively forward and had 15 disposals, but booted four of the Crows’ six goals to single-handedly dominate up forward and show Crows fans that there was going to be no second year blues – until injury unfortunately struck. Jenna McCormick booted the other two goals for the Crows, while for the Bulldogs, Katie Brennan was the multiple goalkicker with two from nine touches and three marks. Emma Kearney (20 disposals, three marks, three clearances, three inside 50s, five rebounds and six tackles) was everywhere, as was Ellie Blackburn (17 disposals, five clearances, five tackles and four inside 50s).

Fun facts:

  • Ebony Marinoff averages 19.5 disposals, four clearances, 10.5 tackles and four inside 50s against the Western Bulldogs from two clashes, the most of any Crow.
  • Now North Melbourne skipper, Emma Kearney averaged the most touches against the Crows in both meetings, with Ellie Blackburn set to take over the mantle, averaging 18 touches, four clearances, four tackles and five inside 50s from two games.
  • It is the first time two AFL Women’s Premiers have met in the history of the competition.
  • Western Bulldogs are yet to lose an opening round match in the AFL Women’s season.

 

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, February 3, 1.05pm
North Hobart Oval, Hobart

The second history making match for Round 1 sees one of the premiership favourites, North Melbourne take on last year’s wooden spooners, Carlton. Both head into the game with relative different looking sides. The Kangaroos strategically targeted experience, picking up players from other AFL Women’s sides as part of the free agency and expansion period, while Carlton headed to the draft. As such, the Kangaroos head into the game as strong favourites in the clash, and their pre-season victory over Melbourne did nothing to sway opinions from the fact they will be a contender this season. Carlton took it up to Geelong at times in the practice game, but much like at times last season, it is just finding some four quarter consistency. The strong football state of Tasmania will get around the clash which is the first of the AFL Women’s competition, and with a number of local talents wearing blue and white, expect there to be a strong contingent of home support.

With no past head-to-head clashes to go by, there are plenty of questions leading into this clash. The biggest question mark is that of the Kangaroos and how they will gel with so many players from other teams. They brought over key Magpies, Emma King, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Mo Hope to supply their forward line and ruck division with power, while securing the biggest name from the 2018 season in Emma Kearney – the league best and fairest winner – to come across from the Dogs. Carlton has the potential to have the best one-two forward combination in the league with Darcy Vescio and Tayla Harris, but it is just getting the talented duo to click. With the midfield and forward half boosted by young guns, Madison Prespakis, Abbie McKay and Emerson Woods, and the defence sured up by Collingwood VFLW captain, Jess Edwards, as well as Charlotte Wilson and Jayde Van Dyk, Carlton’s future is looking bright. Realistically, it will take an unbelievable effort to knock off North Melbourne, but Blues fans will be keen to see what new coach, Daniel Harford can do to create more scoring opportunities – something the Blues lacked last season. A four-goal practice game by returning captain, Brianna Davey gave fans a hint of what to expect, creating all sorts of headaches for opposing teams.

H2H: North Melbourne 0 | Carlton 0 | Draws 0
Venue: North Melbourne 0-0-0 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The match marks the first official match to be played in Tasmania, with the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos opening their season in the Apple Isle, and of course marking their first match in the competition.
  • Carlton’s Brianna Davey has averaged 21 disposals, five rebounds and 2.5 inside 50s in her two opening round clashes, as Carlton beat arch-rivals Collingwood under lights on both occasions.
  • Darcy Vescio booted four goals in the inaugural AFL Women’s match in 2017, before being held goalless by debutant, Chloe Molloy last year, who would go on to win the Rising Star Award.
  • North Melbourne captain, Emma Kearney has averaged 22 disposals, six marks, five clearances and six inside 50s in her two matches against Carlton.

 

MELBOURNE vs. FREMANTLE
Sunday, February 3, 3.05pm
Casey Fields, Cranbourne

With predicted temperatures around the south-eastern suburbs predicted to be mid-to-late thirties, fans heading to the clash between Demons and Fremantle are recommended to stay hydrated. The game at Melbourne’s spiritual home, has become a fortress of late, winning five of a possible six games, including a thrashing victory over their Round 1 opponents back in 2017. Last year the Dockers got the better of Melbourne over in the west, using straight goalkicking to get the job done early in the season and chalk up a win against a premiership contender. The Demons have always been thereabouts, just missing out on the deciders, while Fremantle has had disappointing starts to the seasons which have ultimately cost them. With a new coaching panel and new-look side, Fremantle will be keen to topple the Demons at their home ground, especially a Demons side minus Daisy PearceMel Hickey and Richelle Cranston, among others.

Both teams are bringing in some serious young talent this season, with the Demons looking to the likes of Gippsland Power co-captain, Tyla Hanks and Northern Knights captain, Maddy Brancatisano. Both have incredible work ethics and a desire to just hunt the footballer and play their role, potentially being future leaders at the club. Throw in Dandenong Stingrays’ speedster, Shelley Heath and Casey Demons slick ball user, Casey Sherriff and the Dees have added some speed and skills to their inside grunt and contested ball-winning ability. The Dockers have also added some great local talent to their stocks, led by West Australian Under 18s state captain, Sabreena Duffy as well as overagers, Matilda Sergeant and Jasmin Stewart. The big question mark regarding Fremantle is how they will line-up as the off-season seemed to be a clean-out of sorts through their own choosing, whereas Melbourne lost players due to free agency and expansion. The difference in this game could well be the top-end star factor of the Demons, with Karen Paxman, Lily Mithen, Bianca Jakobsson and Elise O’Dea all roaming through the midfield at times. With Eden Zanker providing a target up forward, they have good depth across the ground, The Dockers have Kara Donnellan and Dana Hooker amongst their arsenal, but with a relatively new-looking side, it will be fascinating to see how they perform.

H2H: Melbourne 1 | Fremantle 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Melbourne 5-1-0 | Fremantle 0-0-0

Last time they met: Fremantle 6.0 (36) defeated Melbourne 4.7 (31) at Fremantle Oval, Round 3, 2018

Fremantle had to come from behind twice as they held Melbourne to a combined one behind in the second and fourth quarters, kicking the only two goals of the final term. In a display of precision accuracy, the Dockers did not kick a behind all game, and after not scoring in the opening term, booted six straight goals to secure a win at Fremantle Oval. Kara Donnellan and Lisa Webb both picked up 17 disposals, while Emily McGuire booted two goals. For the Dees, Daisy Pearce had another day out with 24 disposals, three marks, five clearances and four inside 50s, while Tegan Cunningham booted two majors in the loss.

Fun facts:

  • Since losing their inaugural AFL Women’s Round 1 clash to Brisbane at Casey Fields, Melbourne has not lost a game, winning five consecutive matches at the venue, including a nine-goal win over Fremantle in 2017.
  • Both sides are likely to head into the clash very different to the previous encounter with a maximum of 13 players each from their sides of 21 just 12 months ago, still on their respective lists.
  • Dana Hooker averaged 17 disposals (11 contested) and 5.5 tackles in her two matches for the Dockers against the Demons, and was Fremantle’s best player in the disastrous 54-point belting back in 2017.
  • Melbourne will need to find a way to replace the influence of Daisy Pearce, who has been a headache for the Dockers in the past, averaging 25 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and 3.5 inside 50s.

 

BRISBANE vs. GWS GIANTS
Sunday, February 3, 4.05pm
Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, Moreton Bay

The final game of the round pits back-to-back grand finalist, Brisbane against the team they knocked out of the decider contention in the final round last year, GWS GIANTS. The quirky fact between these teams is they have played each other four times – twice in the pre-season and twice in the regular season. On both occasions, GWS has triumphed in the pre-season practice matches, while Brisbane has got the job done – and convincingly so – when playing for premiership points. The GIANTS average just two goals per game against the Lions during the season, and they will be keen to repeat the effort of a fortnight ago when they were too good for the young Lions. Brisbane has played just the one game at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex – the Lions new home for 2019 – which was a disappointing and almost season-defining loss to Collingwood, whereas the GIANTS are yet to run out at the venue.

Both teams have young line-ups coming through with the teams losing players such as Kaitlyn Ashmore, Jamie Stanton and Tahlia Randall (Brisbane), and Phoebe McWilliams and Renee Forth (GIANTS). They have also picked up some experience with Brisbane scooping up Lauren Arnell from Carlton and the GIANTS adding Magpie, Christina Bernardi to its forward mix. Heading to the draft, the GIANTS picked up one of the most decorated and talented juniors in Alyce Parker who will slot straight into the midfield and undoubtedly be a key cog in that onball division. Former netballer, Taylah Davies is already looking like a valuable pick-up for the GIANTS, while Haneen Zreika hit the scoreboard in the practice match as well. Any team with Alicia Eva, Jessica Dal Pos and Amanda Farrugia has to be respected. Brisbane’s forward power with Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Jess Wuetschner is always going to be a key consideration for opposition coaches, while Lions coach Craig Starcevich has the luxury of bringing up his Queensland Under 18 young guns into the senior team at draft time. All Australian ruck Lauren Bella, state captain Natalie Grider and key Queensland players Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw, Jade Ellenger, Tori Groves-Little and Jacqui Yorston join West Australian, McKenzie Dowrick as the future of the Lions.

H2H: Brisbane 2 | GWS 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Brisbane 0-1-0 | GWS 0-0-0

Last time they met: Brisbane 10.4 (64) defeated GWS GIANTS 3.6 (24) at Blacktown ISP, Round 7, 2018.

With an AFL Women’s Grand Final spot on the line, it was the Brisbane Lions who were all over the GIANTS, running out 40-point winners to keep their premiership dreams alive – albeit with their fate in Collingwood’s hands. The GIANTS had improved remarkably from the inaugural season, but fell short of a grand final place, and will have rued that final game over the summer. Ally Anderson and Emily Bates had days out against the GIANTS, collecting a combined 46 disposals, seven marks and eight clearances. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick-Traub was unstoppable with four goals to go with 18 disposals, five marks and five hitouts. Jess Wuetschner was equally as impressive with three majors from 11 touches, doing all the damage at ground level. For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva tried her best with a team-high 18 disposals, three marks, six tackles and five inside 50s, while Jessica Dal Pos and Amanda Farrugia were the next highest ball winners with 14 apiece.

Fun facts:

  • Brisbane has played just the one match at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, and unfortunately it was one to forget, losing to Collingwood in Round 6, 2018. It put their premiership aspirations in serious doubt, before ironically the Magpies knocked off the Crows in the final round to hand the Lions a second consecutive Grand Final berth.
  • The Lions bounced back from the above loss with that 40-point win over GWS in the last round, knocking out the GIANTS from Grand Final contention, and replacing them in the decider.
  • In the two games against the GIANTS, Sabrina Frederick-Traub has booted five goals, whereas the entire GIANTS team have booted just the four.
  • Emma Swanson averages the most disposals for a GIANT against the Lions, at 15, while Jessica Dal Pos averages 13 touches per game.

AFLW season previews: Geelong

THE Geelong Cats are one of the two new sides entering the AFLW competition this year, and rather than finding players from other clubs, they have largely focused on adding local talent to their line-up. The Cats received the first two picks in the draft and snapped up two of the most exciting players in Nina Morrison and Sophie Van De Heuvel, who will certainly turn heads as the competition goes on.

List: Rene Caris, Danielle Orr, Hannah Burchell, Cassie Blakeway, Jordan Ivey, Julia Crockett-Grills, Mia-Rae Clifford, Kate Darby, Nina Morrison, Georgie Rankin, Meghan McDonald, Renee Garing, Maighan Fogas, Aasta O’Connor, Olivia Purcell, Georgia Clarke, Melissa Hickey, Rebecca Webster, Phoebe McWilliams, Madaleine McMahon, Elise Coventry, Madeleine Boyd, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Denby Taylor, Richelle Cranston, Hayley Trevean, Anna Teague, Rebecca Goring, Madeline Keryk, Erin Hoare

Local talent dominates this list, with 20 players featuring in Geelong’s 2018 Victorian Football League (VFLW) side. The Cats made the Grand Final and came up short against the Hawks, but showed what they are capable of with their list. Add experienced spearheads like Aasta O’Connor, Melissa Hickey and Phoebe McWilliams to the side and Geelong has a very potent line-up.

Area of strength: Midfield

The Geelong midfield is stacked with talent, led by Geelong Best and Fairest winner, Richelle Cranston. Cranston consistently racked up high numbers of disposals for the Cats during the VFLW season, and was complemented by a core group in Cassie Blakeway, Maighan Fogas and Hannah Burchell, who stepped up each week and are likely to do so again in the AFLW. Add in Geelong Falcons premiership duo, Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell, who both also played in the Grand Final for the Cats. Morrison’s chase-down speed is unbelievable, and she has shown that she can come up against bigger bodies, having to deal with a Meg Hutchins tag in the VFLW Grand Final. Purcell is a tackling machine and led the way for both the Falcons and the Cats with her ferocity, so expect 2019 to be much the same from her.

Area of weakness: Defence

While Geelong has plenty of exciting forwards, its defence may come under pressure with the attacking forward lines that a lot of sides boast. Georgia Clarke will come into the mix as a calm and composed defender, and will have to work with the likes of Elise Coventry and Bec Goring, who were mainstays in the Cats’ defence in the VFLW. While Coventry is a consistent player, she often goes missing in the disposal count, so she will need to work on that coming into the AFLW season. Rebecca Webster is likely to be a key part of Geelong’s defence, even though she can play through the midfield too. Webster has a booming kick and strong hands, so if she floats into the midfield, it could leave a big gap in the defensive 50.

Players to watch:

Nina Morrison

Being the number one pick comes with a lot of pressure, but Morrison knows how to handle it. Having only picked up a football in a competitive environment three years ago, Morrison had a ripper 2018, sharing the TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the Under 18 Championships. Her outside run is incredible, and her take-off speed is really something to watch. She is a precise kick and has shown that she can use it anywhere, having spent some time up forward for the Falcons last year in the TAC Cup Girls competition. Expect her to get a Rising Star nomination this season.

Olivia Purcell

The Geelong Falcons Best and Fairest was one of the most fierce tacklers in the TAC Cup Girls competition. She’s also a great clearance player, and knows how to hack it out of congestion with ease. She thrived in the Geelong VFLW environment, having played alongside players like Richelle Cranston. Purcell represented Vic Country in 2018 as well and was one of the leading disposal-getters in every match, highlighting her ability to find the footy with ease.

Maddy Boyd

A player that already has experience in the AFLW, Boyd will be a pivotal player for the Cats this year. She thrived in the ruck and through the forward line for Geelong’s VFLW side, taking big grabs and kicking crucial goals when needed. With plenty of ruck support in the team in the form of Aasta O’Connor, Kate Darby and Rene Caris, expect Boyd to spend some time up forward, as her marking prowess will give defenders massive headaches.

2019 prediction: 3rd in Conference B
The Cats certainly have the line-up to turn a few heads this season. With all the focus on North Melbourne’s star-studded line-up, the Cats’ has largely gone unnoticed, which the side will not mind at all. With Melissa Hickey leading the brigade as skipper and VFLW Grand Final coach, Paul Hood at the helm, it is hard to see where the Cats could go wrong in 2019. Gelling together will be the main challenge, as it always is for a new side. They have a hard draw to start off with, taking on the AFLW’s two premiership teams in Adelaide and the Bulldogs in the first four weeks, but those games are bookended by matches against Carlton and Collingwood. Expect Geelong to come out firing in 2019 and turn a few heads.