Tag: maya rigter

Finals on the agenda for Sturt in 2021

WHILE South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s has been a fantastic initiative for all eight SANFL clubs to be involved in, some sides have had more on-field success than others so far. In Sturt’s three years playing in the SANFL Women’s League, they are yet to make a finals appearance. Changing this record is high on the agenda of Sturt’s senior women’s coach Bruce Dawes in 2021, particularly following their capitulation after returning from the COVID-19 break last season.

“Pre-COVID, we were actually pretty happy with the way we were tracking,” Dawes said. “We were 2-2 at that stage and felt the girls were making pretty good improvements. Having that break really interrupted us. Some girls chose not to come back post-COVID because work and different things changed for them, so after that we certainly didn’t play the football we were hoping to play.”

Sturt did not claim another victory for the 2020 season, concluding the year with two wins, seven losses, one draw and the lowest percentage in the competition, 25.04. This put them in sixth position, just one point ahead of bottom two clubs Woodville-West Torrens and Central District.

“Overall, we were disappointed with the season, no doubt about it,” Dawes said. “You always want to play finals, but I think we’re moving in the right direction now.”

Over the summer period, Dawes has put an emphasis on improving his players’ fitness levels, along with some other key areas of SANFLW football.

“Preseason’s been really good, one thing we felt last year was that we weren’t as fit as we’d like to have been, so there’s certainly been a focus on fitness,” Dawes said. “All of our GPS information is telling us that the girls have been working harder and their intensity is up, so that’s been a real bonus for us. From there, it’s just constant work on developing our skills and our game plan.”

When asked about their game plan, Dawes said he wants to help his players to develop greater football IQ’s and understand match situations when they are out in the heat of battle.

“We do a lot of work on our strategy type of stuff,” he said. “We want to control the footy then get our timing right of when to go fast and when to go slow. That’s what we’re looking at trying to achieve this year.”

As for Sturt’s recruiting strategy this offseason, they have focused on bringing players into the SANFLW system rather than poaching from rival SANFLW clubs.

“We’ve gone to the local clubs,” Dawes said. “We were able to watch a few local games once our season had finished, and from that we were able to attract a few newer girls who are bit older and have played a little bit of football. A couple of girls from Uraidla, Molly Fletcher and Alisha Gepp, who have really added to our group. Another girl Jess Good, who played at Blackwood, is a tall ruckman that’s come into the squad and been excellent for us. Chloe Forby came over from the Eagles, she’s a little goer that plays small forward, she’s added to the group as well.”

At the Under 18 preseason testing day earlier this month, 2020 Club Champion Zoe Prowse revealed that she is planning to play as a midfielder for the Double Blues in 2021. This surprised some given her prowess and expertise as a ruck, but Dawes clarified their reasoning behind the move.

“We just want to try and develop Zoe’s complete game,” he said. “She’s an outstanding athlete. Will she be a ruck at AFL level? She absolutely can be, no doubt, she has the athleticism to do it. But if we can add extra strings to her bow, where she could become a midfielder and then occasionally pinch hit in the ruck, that would really add to her talent as well.”

As for Sturt players that fans should keep an eye on this season, Dawes had several names in mind.

“A crowd favourite is Kate ‘Buba’ Harris– she’s a hard-working half-forward that goes at everything, is intense and just loves the game, the group love her too, she’s outstanding,” Dawes said. “Zoe Prowse, Alex Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler are all in the State program, which is excellent for them. All of those girls have been really good. A couple of left field ones [to keep an eye on]. New ruckman Jess Good is not a household name, but she’ll be very handy for us. Maya Rigter, Isobel Kuiper and girls like that have always been consistent performers for us as well.”

Although a finals berth is firmly on Dawes’ mind, he knows this will be difficult to achieve in 2021 due to the strong competition in SANFLW.

“Our goal is to play finals, no doubt about that,” Dawes said. “We think we were on track last year before the wheels fell off a bit, but we really think the list we’ve got now, the development the girls are putting in, and we’re progressing to a stage where we think we can play finals. Things will have to go right for us to do that, it’s a really tight competition that’s always constantly improving, so hopefully we’re improving a bit more than the other clubs.”

Sturt’s season begins on Saturday morning at X Convenience Oval when they take on Glenelg.

 

Picture credit: SANFL

 

For more SANFL Women’s news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

South Australian AFLW All-Stars to battle it out in blockbuster clash of talent

SOUTH Australia’s best young talents will have a chance to strut their stuff via the SANFL site tonight when 48 of the top talents from the state run around in an AFL Women’s All-Stars match. The teams are named after Adelaide stars, Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff, with no AFL Women’s players, and those in their 16th year or younger playing in an under 16s showcase prior to this game.

For those Adelaide fans keen to get a glimpse as some of the players who received AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitations, unfortunately two of the brightest stars will no be out there. Teah Charlton will miss the game due to injury, while Indy Tahau is unavailable due to other commitments. The others two players who received Draft Combine invitations – Amber Ward and Ashleigh Woodland will both front up for Team Hatchard, coached by North Adelaide premiership coach, Krissie Steen. We take a look at our potential line-ups, though it is anticipated players will be heavily rotated all across the field.

TEAM HATCHARD:

B: Rhiannon Busch – Erin Sundstrom – Julia Clark
HB: Charlotte Dolan – Amber Ward – Madisyn Freeman
C: Matilda Zander – Isobel Kuiper – Tahlia Meyer
HF: Tamsyn Morriss – Ashleigh Woodland – Hannah Prenzler
F: Cristie Castle – Katelyn Rosenzweig – Tahlita Buethke
R: Zoe Prowse – Czenya Cavouras – Abbie Ballard
INT: Alana Lishmund – Brooke Tonon – Jamie Parish – Rayne Rivalland – Zoe Venning – Grace Duffy

With players being so versatile, it is hard to pinpoint a number of players and where they will slot in. For the purpose of our hypothetical 24, any middle-agers (2003-born or later) are automatically on the bench, giving preference to those who are eligible to be picked up this year. The exception to the rule is Zoe Prowse who is the standout ruck not only on the team, but on the field as a whole. She is still only 17, but stands at 180cm and is the obvious choice to be starting ruck.

Ward is a reliable centre half-back with terrific intercepting capabilities. She was one of the more unlucky players not to be picked up in her draft year last year, but she is strong, positions herself well and is extremely good by foot. At the other end, Woodland has already tasted AFL Women’s experience with Melbourne, and, while it did not work out, it is no surprise to see the now 22-year-old as of Wednesday, being considered after winning the competition’s leading goalkicker award.

Another former AFL Women’s player in Katelyn Rosenzweig will play at full-forward, and the forward half as a whole is something to watch, with Tamsyn Morriss and Hannah Prenzler all able to play further up the ground. Prenzler and Morriss are both top-agers who can switch to the opposite end if need be, with Prenzler’s work off half-back and Morriss’ kicking among their eye-catching traits. Abbie Ballard onball is the other top-ager to keep an eye on with her hardness and precision left foot winning plaudits.

Charlotte Dolan running off half-back and along the wing provides great speed and determination to any side, while Julia Clark has become a reliable defender who uses the ball well and makes the right decisions. Tahlita Buethke is another top-age player who cracked into the strong South Adelaide team this year and would have been one to watch – as a dominant goalkicker at local level – at the championships had they occurred.

In terms of mature-agers, Erin Sundstrom often plays off half-back but due to her height – 174cm – she is one of the few likely to play in a key position role. Given her work with Ward back there in the SANFL Womens and with Steen coaching, the pair will make a strong duo. Matilda Zander is a small, tough midfielder who attacks the contest hard and runs all day. She was in line to play for Collingwood in the VFL, and with her former coach Steve Symonds at the helm for the Magpies, expect him to be watching this game carefully.

Some others who have caught the eye this season include Crows’ train-on player Czenya Cavouras who racks up the ball and is hard around the contest, over-ager Isobel Kuiper who will provide good height in midfield, and then the run of another over-ager in Madisyn Freeman. Tahlia Meyer‘s decision making through midfield going forward is superb, winning the preliminary final off her own boot such was her skill. Cristie Castle is a reliable mark and source of goals up front, with Rhiannon Busch as steady as they come down back – though she has the versatility to play at either end – much like Grace Duffy.

Of the 2003 group outside of Prowse, Venning is the top one to watch, regularly dominating through the midfield and half-forward, using her speed and strength to cause headaches for the opposition. Alana Lishmund will provide some rotation up forward, with Brooke Tonon also spending time there, and Jamie Parish showing great signs in the second half of the season for the Eagles. Rayne Rivalland rounds out the prospects as the youngest player on the team – not turning 17 until late November – which shows the depth of talent within South Australia.

TEAM MARINOFF:

B: Tesharna Maher – Kristi Harvey – Teagan Usher
HB: Lauren Gauci – Bella Smith – Tessa Kohn
C: Katelyn Pope – Shelby Smith – Emma Smith
HF: Laitiah Huynh – Kiana Lee – Alex Ballard
F: Jess Kirk – Brooklyn Kraft – Jade Halfpenny
R: Leah Cutting – Nicole Campbell – Jess Macolino
INT: Andie Zbierski – Jorja Eldridge – Kate Case – Lauren Clifton – Madison Lane – Gypsy Schirmer

Turning our attention to Team Marinoff, coached by former international cricketer and North Adelaide footballer Emma Sampson, there are plenty of strong marking key position players in the line-up. Like with Team Hatchard, the 2003-born players automatically got named on the bench as they still have another year to show off their remarkable talents. While none of the players in this team got a Draft Combine invitation, there are some that have certainly showcased their ability at past AFL Women’s Under-18 National Championships.

At either end are the contested marking Bella Smith and Kiana Lee, with ruck Brooklyn Kraft likely to spend time forward given Leah Cutting – Norwood’s star ruck – has been named in the team. Kraft provides extra height to the team at 182cm and will stretch the smaller Hatchard backline. Also coming off championships last year, Alex Ballard often plays at half-forward but can play just about anywhere, the same can be said for Emma Smith who we have named on the wing. Teagan Usher and Tesharna Maher are great runners out of defence, and Maher particularly has got a set of wheels that make her hard to catch.

Of the top-agers, Latiah Huynh is a raw prospect with terrific speed, great defensive pressure and a strong hardness at the contest. She can rotate between half-forward and wing, and often be the link in the transition between midfield and forward. Also in their top-age year is Jade Halfpenny who can play in all thirds of the ground, but given she can take a grab and knows where the goals are, she has been named forward. Jorja Eldridge and Andie Zbierski are the other top-agers named, with Eldridge coming from a basketball background but did not manage to crack into the strong North Adelaide senior outfit, while Zbierski has played predominantly country footy and not playing this year in the SANFL Women’s but did play four games last year.

From the mature-age perspective, Kristi Harvey lines up at her usual full-back spot and she has plenty of experience having played for Carlton’s VFL Women’s side as well as the successful North Adelaide line-up. Another strong contested mark and rebounder, Harvey will be hard to pass in the defensive end. Also back there is Lauren Gauci who will team up well with Roosters teammate Harvey, providing good dash out of defence, while Tessa Kohn is a natural inside midfielder, but has been trialed elsewhere including in defence, and expect her to get a bit of a taste everywhere. On the wing, Katelyn Pope is one of the quickest going around and the Roosters’ speedster will be hard to catch where she gets going.

A couple of the big improvers in 2020, Norwood’s Jess Macolino returned for her second season, and Shelby Smith made her debut and was one of Central District’s most consistent players all year. They will not take a backwards step and match the Hatchard midfield in hardness for the ball. Up forward, Jess Kirk had led the goalkicking up until injury cost her, but she is good overhead and usually a reliable set shot.

Of the middle-agers on the bench, Gypsy Schirmer provided some nice highlights as an athletic tall up forward for the Panthers this year, while Madison Lane continued her good work after captaining South Australia’s Under 16s side last year, and been a strong contributor for the Bulldogs. Lauren Clifton can provide some depth anywhere on the field, playing defence, forward or even on a wing, while Kate Case is another midfielder who could be one to watch in 2020 after some strong performances through midfield.

Along with Charlton and Tahau, others who would have earned spots but were either injured on unavailable for the clash include: inside midfielders, dual league best and fairest winner Rachelle Martin and talented teenager Maya Rigter; the versatile Jaimi Tabb and athletic utility Mattea Breed.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s season review: Sturt

STURT is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and who their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 6th
Wins: 2
Losses: 7
Draws: 1

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

Sturt made the decision not to include any AFL Women’s players in the second half of the season, instead focusing on the youth they had. It was a great result for the players going forward, as while they struggled, were able to still draw with Norwood and avoid the bottom two, whilst showing good improvement at times on a week-to-week basis. The Double Blues just struggled to score and that was ultimately the problem in the end, but they performed admirably all season.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Alex Ballard

A 17-year-old who is experienced at the level over the past three seasons progressing through the South Australian pathway, Ballard is a good ball user who can play multiple roles on the field. She does not win a heap of the ball, but can impact the scoreboard and provide defensive pressure often at half-forward or further up the ground.

Izzy Kuiper

A top-age midfielder who has the ability to play as that taller body around the stoppages, Kuiper took a step up in the 2020 season, providing great consistency throughout the year. She loves a tackle and can win her own ball at the coalface, whilst working hard across the ground to win touches in all thirds of the field.

Hannah Prenzler

Looked ultra-impressive off half-back early in the year and then was trialled up forward and presented well, Prenzler has the versatility to play in multiple positions. She used the ball well and provided good drive off half-back, also being confident in one-on-one situations.

Zoe Prowse

The top South Australian draft prospect for 2021, Prowse is an incredibly gifted athlete and one who when she can use her natural attributes, dominate around the stoppages. Prowse has a high vertical leap, and quick reactions to apply great second efforts with tackles, or just clear the ball herself from the ruck. Prowse can play forward if required, but was the clear standout player all year for the Double Blues, and is still a year off being drafted.

Maya Rigter

Unfortunately the co-captain was unavailable due to injury to play the All-Stars match, but she was among those who were initially nominated. At 19-years-old, Rigter led by example and had another terrific season for the Double Blues, often cracking in and winning the ball in contested situations, or playing defensive roles on opposition midfielders.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Georgia Bevan
  • Alysha Healy
  • Elsie Dawes
  • Georgia Swan
  • Jo-Anna Baltais

Aside from the ones making the All-Star game, former AFL Women’s player Georgia Bevan was the clear standout a the co-captain with Rigter. She always put in a four quarter performance and never let the side down with her effort. In defence, Alysha Healy and Jo-Anna Baltais settled the team when opposition sides were pressing, while Elsie Dawes provided the touch of class from half-back to the wing. Georgia Swan was a good target at half-forward, and at 16-years-old, is one who will be a player to watch for years to come.

Summary

Sturt might have struggled offensively throughout the season as the league’s lowest scoring side, but they held opposition teams to low scores themselves more often than not in a really strong defensive effort. The youth coming through the Double Blues program is evident to see and decision to play youth at senior level will pay dividends sooner rather than later.

Picture: SANFL

SANFL Women’s League Best & Fairest preview

TONIGHT is the night that the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Best and Fairest award is run and won ahead of Sunday afternoon’s decider. From 7.45pm, the league will announce its top player of the season, as well as the SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. North Adelaide’s Ashleigh Woodland already claimed the leading goalkicker award this season, and is among a host of favourites for the overall gong.

CENTRAL DISTRICT:

Top Contender: Shelby Smith

The midfielder played consistent four quarter football throughout the season to be named among her team’s best seven of a possible 10 times this year. The only issue for her will be that Central only won a couple of games, so if she picks up votes it will be the minor votes. Still a ripping season.

Other contenders: Demi Sonneman, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Sarah Allan

Last year’s club best and fairest winner in Sonneman has held up at full-back throughout the year and has dash and dare which catches the umpire’s eye. Rosenzweig was unstoppable when on fire and took out the club’s leading goalkicker award again with 14 majors in 10 games, while Allan only played the six games, but will no doubt pick up some votes as she was among the best on ground even in some losses.

GLENELG:

Top Contender: Caitlin Gould

The Bays are a tough one to determine because they had players that stepped up in different games, but probably not enough, nor enough wins to really cement a standout player for the award. Gould is one who catches the eye with her ruck work, forward craft and goalkicking, and she played seven games which is more than the other AFL Women’s talent on the list.

Other possible contenders: Madisyn Freeman, Sam Franson, Ellie Kellock

It was a very even team performance this year from Glenelg, and hard to determine who will take the votes. It is imagined that they will split the votes very evenly this season, with teenager Freeman always a popular one with the coaches – eight of 10 bests – as well as the tenacious Franson working hard, and Kellock rotating between midfield and defence.

NORTH ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Ash Woodland

Coming off a brilliant season where Woodland claimed the SANFL Women’s goalkicking award, the mid/forward also shone being named among the best in nearly all of her matches. She looms as the top chance from the minor premiership-winning side, but in terms of votes, expect it to be spread.

Other possible contenders: Hannah Ewings, Anne Hatchard, Katelyn Pope

Legitimately there could be a list into double-digits such is the depth of the club. Hatchard should rack up multiple best on grounds and despite only playing the five games, could pick up double-digit votes easily. Ewings is eye-catching with her speed and ability to hit the scoreboard, with the 16-year-old having a remarkable debut season. Pope is another who catches the eye with her run down the wings, but she played a couple less games than the others which may hurt the voting chances.

NORWOOD:

Top Contender: Matilda Zander

Much like North Adelaide, the players will share votes and it could well be one of a number of players who gets lucky enough to poll plenty. In this case we have opted for Zander because of her ability to hit the scoreboard, provide forward pressure and also run around the ground. But there could be half a dozen names that deserve to be there.

Other possible contenders: Sophie Armitstead, Najwa Allen, Jess Macolino

Last year’s winner in Allen always has to be considered given it is proven she catches the umpire’s eye. With only six games this season though, will it be enough? She had others who will fight for votes off her such as the reliable Armitstead who could really be a surprise packet for the Redlegs in the vote count, while Macolino burst onto the scene late and was named in the best in each of her six games.

SOUTH ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Teah Charlton

It feels like even when Charlton is not amongst the best players on the ground, she does something that catches the eye in the match that umpires will remember later. While it is hard to pick how South’s votes will go down with so many players lining up, Charlton will no doubt be amongst it given how much ball she wins and can kick goals.

Other possible contenders: Tahlia Meyer, Indy Tahau, Nicole Campbell

As already mentioned, it is likely players will take votes off each other with the greatest depth going through the list. Meyer might be the most consistent of the lost each week, whiler Campbell managed the eight games which should be enough for votes ahead of some other AFL Women’s talents. Tahau always does something that features in the highlights so will naturally attract votes.

STURT:

Top Contender: Zoe Prowse

The 2021 AFL Women’s Draft prospect might be a sneaky chance here, but it will depend on how favourable the umpires are to giving votes in a losing team effort. Prowse was by far the most dominant ruck in the competition for a stretch with her athleticism and consistency despite being overwhelmed on the scoreboard, which is where it might not quite be enough as the votes will likely be minor ones.

Other possible contenders: Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter, Kate Harris

The co-captains were consistent all year and Bevan will arguably attract the most, potentially even more than Prowse given league best and fairests are midfielder’s awards. Rigter has worked hard throughout the season, while Harris has stepped up playing every game and was named amongst the best six times.

WEST ADELAIDE:

Top Contender: Rachelle Martin

For the overall winner, our prediction is pocket rocket Martin. The uncompromising midfielder was named among the best just about every single week and deservedly so. She made our Team of the Week seven times, and the Westies won more than enough games to suggest she will pick up some threes for best on ground.

Other possible contenders: Zoe Venning, Maddie Newman, Stevie-Lee Thompson

When it comes to umpire votes, it is often those who catch the eye the most, and the Bloods have no shortage of players that fit the bill. Venning had a huge season through the midfield and playing forward, Newman has a super boot that you cannot miss, and Thompson was a match winner on more than one occasion. They might split the votes as a team.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS:

Top Contender: Kiana Lee

The Eagles were the most even team in terms of best players this season in our opinion, and Lee just gets the nod for her work at both ends. Kicking 11 goals in 10 games, which included playing out of full-back late in the year, her contested marking and long kicking will no doubt be something the umpires look at for votes.

Other possible contenders: Jovanka Zecevic, Tesharna Maher, Amie Blanden

It is hard to pinpoint those who will take the votes given the evenness of the team, but Zecevic was one of the most consistent Eagles throughout the year, Maher provided line-breaking speed out of defence, and Blanden was always solid through the middle going forward.

PREDICTION:

It is far from obvious which way the votes will go this year, but our tip is West Adelaide’s Rachelle Martin who had the most consistent season of any player, and was able to play every game. Others who will challenge her include Teah Charlton, Ash Woodland, Anne Hatchard and possibly Zoe Prowse.

Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year nominations

AS the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition came to a close last week, it is time for the Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Year. We name the final team on Sunday night, but the 40-player nomination list – similar to the All-Australian squad – is effectively the extended squad of those in contention.

This list has been compiled of players who had at least three SANFL Women’s Team of the Week nominations, and three additional players who had two, to round up the full list to 40. Two players had seven nominations from a possible 10 rounds, and those players will be nominated as captain and vice-captain.

From the 40-player squad, North Adelaide and South Adelaide lead the league with seven nominations each, ahead of West Adelaide (six) and Norwood (five). Glenelg, Central District and Sturt had four players apiece, while Woodville-West Torrens had three.

CENTRAL DISTRICT: [4]

Sarah Allan
Katelyn Rosenzweig
Shelby Smith
Demi Sonneman

GLENELG: [4]

Sam Franson
Caitlin Gould
Eloise Jones
Tessa Kohn

NORTH ADELAIDE: [7]

Lauren Daniel
Hannah Ewings
Kristi Harvey
Anne Hatchard
Britt Perry
Katelyn Pope
Ash Woodland

NORWOOD: [5]

Najwa Allen
Mattea Breed
Leah Cutting
Bella Smith
Matilda Zander

SOUTH ADELAIDE: [7]

Nicole Campbell
Czenya Cavouras
Teah Charlton
Jess Kirk
Tahlia Meyer
Indy Tahau
Lisa Whiteley

STURT: [4]

Georgia Bevan
Hannah Prenzler
Zoe Prowse
Maya Rigter

WEST ADELAIDE: [6]

Abbie Ballard
Keeley Kustermann
Rachelle Martin
Madison Newman
Stevie-Lee Thompson
Zoe Venning

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS: [3]

Renee Forth
Kiana Lee
Tesharna Maher

SANFL Women’s weekend preview: Round 10 – Four teams bid 2020 farewell as final round takes place

FINALS are set in stone for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) competition, and for Glenelg, Sturt, Central District and Woodville-West Torrens, it is the end of the road with the season completed by Saturday evening. For the four other sides, their seasons are very much alive with both finals opponents set in stone, as North Adelaide should host South Adelaide next weekend, whilst depending on results this weekend, West Adelaide and Norwood will jostle for home ground honours in their respective clashes.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, August 1, 9.30am
Hisense Stadium

In the game of the round, two sides that could well face off at some point during the finals series go at it in Round 10 for a blockbuster clash. Both sides welcome back some big guns for their teams, as Abbie Ballard returns for West Adelaide, while Montana McKinnon has been named for her first Panthers game since returning from injury after the long break. South has also take the chance to blood Willunga debutant Kristen Rothwell, who joins a ridiculous amount of talent coming in. Not only is McKinnon a boost to the reigning premiers, but vital midfielder Czenya Cavouras, and reliable young defender Samantha Pratt return from one-week injury issues, while Lucy Northcott is also back in the team after missing for work purposes. Among the outs are Madison Bennett and Brooklyn Kraft with the former being managed ahead of the finals series.

This clash will be a perfect tune up for the sides ahead of finals, and South Adelaide are humming quite nicely at the moment, getting the job done without being dominant, but just controlling play and doing enough to keep the opposition at arms-length. West Adelaide had looked super impressive up until a bit of a stumble last weekend, when they realistically kicked themselves out of the game and did not have their usual time and space that makes the Bloods so damaging. The game will be potentially won and lost in the midfield with Ballard, Rachelle Martin and Zoe Venning going head-to-head with Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, whilst Hannah Munyard proved to be an inspiration down forward last week. Still missing Jess Kirk, the Panthers will need to combat the strength of the West Adelaide forward line which includes Chelsea Biddell, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Kasia Culhane. Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann off half-back will provide some good speed and skill, whilst Pratt and Lisa Whiteley will do the same up the other end.

South Adelaide is the more reliable choice in this match, as you know what the Panthers will produce. West Adelaide could certainly win this clash if the Bloods can play at their best, but cannot afford to play at the same level as last week or the Panthers will be too strong and make the most of their opportunities.

STURT vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Peter Motley Oval

Neither of these sides can push for finals, but the Eagles have a chance to get off the bottom of the table with a win against the Double Blues, whilst Sturt can move up to fifth on the table with victory. Alex Ballard is one of three inclusions for the double Blues, whilst the Eagles have taken the opportunity to blood a debutant in their final game, with SMOSH West Lakes’ Alysha Fitzgerald coming in and slotting into the back pocket while the absence of Stephane Walker who is out with concussion will be missed.

As the two lowest scoring sides, this could be a real arm-wrestle, but also a territory game. Both sides enjoy the defensive aspects with heavy pressure and lots of strong tackles. Zoe Prowse is in ripping form and likely to have another field day through the ruck, whilst the midfield battle between the likes of Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Isobel Kuiper against Renee Forth, Anastasia Falkenberg and Jovanka Zecevic will be a fascinating one. Kiana Lee has been named at full-forward, and no doubt the Sturt defence led by Larissa Schenscher and JoAnna Baltais will make life difficult for here. Tesharna Maher and Charlotte Dolan provide some good speed for the Eagles, whilst the Double Blues have an abundance of youth, which includes the likes of Ballard, Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler who can all play in multiple positions.

This game is arguably the hardest to tip because both have had big losses to North Adelaide in recent weeks, but Sturt drew with Norwood the week before, so should start favourites. The Eagles are better than a one-win season side, but will need to show it here to double their wins tally in 2020.

 

NORWOOD vs. GLENELG
Saturday, August 1, 11.30am
Coopers Stadium

In what will likely be the second best game of the round, Norwood hosts Glenelg for a chance at grabbing third spot and returning to Coopers Stadium a week later against the Bloods. With South Adelaide every chance to take the points against West Adelaide, the Redlegs can pounce and grab third and all they need is a win. For Glenelg, the Bays might have missed out on the chance to play for a finals spot this round, but knocking off Norwood in the last round would be satisfying. Norwood has lost a bit of talent up forward with captain Alison Ferrall and Alana Lischmund both out of the side, meaning the Redlegs will need to shuffle the magnets around. Chloe Karamoshos and Cassandra Tsoumbris have been named in the starting side with an extended bench ahead of the clash, whilst the Bays have also named an extended bench, but will still be without Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones to close out the season.

Without two of their clever forwards in Ferrall and Lischmund, Norwood will have to think outside the box, and potentially get the midfield group to hit the scoreboard, as Jess Macolino and Matilda Zander can do from time to time. Mattea Breed is a strong contested mark and will likely spend time down there, whilst Najwa Allen can also play deep if required. Another option is throwing either Bella Smith or Leah Cutting into attack to provide some height and strength in the air, while Tessa Hankinson provided some liveliness inside 50 last week. The Glenelg defence does well with its rotations as Deni Varnhagen, Ellie Kellock and Lucy Armitage can all rotate through their from the middle, while Caitlin Gould can play either end, but is more damaging up forward after spending time in the ruck. Tessa Kohn was terrific last week, whilst the young brigade in Sam Franson, Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon were also impressive and provide some exciting moments.

Both teams are missing some quality players, but there is more on the line for Norwood so it makes sense to lean the way of the Redlegs, though Gould is a player who can turn a match. Without their couple of other game-breakers in Jones and Marinoff it will make life a little tougher.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, August 1, 1.15pm
Coopers Stadium

There is no denying this is a huge challenge for Central District. The Bulldogs are a really improved side this season, with the losses a lot more competitive and their best ultra-impressive. Last round they were super, and if they had finished off in front of goal, they would have really pushed the Panthers. In saying that, this North Adelaide side is quite simply a machine at the moment. They have not conceded a goal in eight quarters, and quite frankly destroyed both Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Central District has proven it has more capability to score than both those sides, but they have to get on top in the midfield. They have brought in Nicola Biagi and Nikki Cullen with Ella Mickan and Caitlen Teague out of he side, while the Roosters will be without their star in Anne Hatchard for the final game of the regular season. Never mind that too much because they bring in a former competition leading goalkicker in Kelly Barltrop, as well as their in-from first season ruck, Bek Rasheed to provide greater strength through the middle.

There are many reasons why North can win this game, but the greater analysis is what can Central do to try and cause the biggest upset of the season? The Bulldogs must win the midfield battle and be unpredictable going forward. Shelby Smith, Alicia Butler and Sarah Allan have a great mix of different attributes through the middle from their toughness, speed and penetrating kick that can hurt opposition onball groups in many ways. Without Hatchard in the middle, it takes away the player you know is going to rack up 30-40 touches which is already a plus. But the speed of Hannah Ewings, the class of Ash Woodland and the tenacity of Leah Tynan, before you even get to the wingers in Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet who can both roll forward, the Roosters have depth like no other side. The forward line is so damaging you can try and stop one player and another will pop up. No one has been able to stop the Roosters all season. But while offensively North is a super side, the Roosters also have an unbelievable defence. Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey are rocks back there, which will be why Central has to be smart using the ball forward. Talia Radan and Lauren Gauci add some extra strength to the defensive back six, which is why any opposition to North Adelaide has to be efficient.

North Adelaide is just too big, too strong and too good, but despite this being a top against second bottom clash, this actually could be exciting. Central District is not afraid to throw caution to the wind and go all-out, and realistically, that is what you have to do against the Roosters. Given the Roosters have nothing to lose other than a perfect regular season, the Bulldogs could really pounce. In saying that, North has not even come close to looking vulnerable in the past few weeks and should win comfortably. However you can guarantee the game will be close than the past couple of weeks because this Bulldogs side is one to watch next season.

SANFL Women’s Round 9 preview: Fourth spot up for grabs

A WEEK ago it looked like the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s finals series might be decided a fortnight out from it occurring, but after a stunning effort from Sturt to draw with Norwood, fourth spot is very much up for grabs. The top three sides – North Adelaide, South Adelaide and West Adelaide are locked into finals, the latter for the first time in the club’s history. Fourth spot will be one of Norwood, Sturt or Glenelg, with the Redlegs needing to win just one of their two remaining games.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 25, 12.00pm
Thebarton Oval

Central District takes on South Adelaide in the opening game of the weekend and the first in a double-header at Thebarton Oval. The Bulldogs are mathematically in contention for fourth spot as they are two wins and percentage behind the fourth placed Redlegs. But unlike Glenelg who sit a spot above them on the same amount of wins, a couple of heavy losses prior to the break hurt the Bulldogs’ percentage and they would need to win by record margins in the final two rounds. Adding to the dilemma is the fact they play the top two teams, starting with reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide.

The Panthers are primed to strike but look destined to occupy second spot on the ladder due to North Adelaide far superior percentage. Unable to catch them unless they have a massive final two weeks and North slip up at least once, then it is near-impossible that South takes the minor premiership. That will not both them though as they won the premiership the last couple of seasons without it. In this clash they have lost a number of crucial players to injury and work commitments with Sam Pratt (calf), Czenya Cavouras (eye) and Jess Kirk (toe) covering each third of the ground, with Kirk being the competition leading goalkicker this year. Lucy Northcott will also miss the match due to work, but Tahlia Meyer returns.

For the Bulldogs, they have made a couple of confirmed changes, with Nicola Biagi out but Chantel Reynolds among four players coming into the side. Last week the Bulldogs looked pretty good in defeat, matching it with West Adelaide in patches, but not quite having enough to do it for four quarters. Katelyn Rosenzweig is firing up and looking dangerous, while Demi Sonneman and Gemma Doughty make a formidable and reliable duo down back. Shelby Smith has been a four quarter performer all season, whilst the likes of Alicia Butler and Latiah Huynh provide the speed, and Sarah Allan the class around the ground.

South Adelaide have no shortage of big names in their side, and whilst the outs will hurt, the Panthers have so much depth across the board they will make do. Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau could be South Australia’s top two prospects this year in the AFL Women’s Draft, while Lisa Whiteley had a sensational game in defence last week. Along with Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan, the Panthers will find a way to cover the loss of Pratt. In midfield, Meyer will slot straight in for Cavouras, with Hannah Munyard, Nicole Campbell and Nikki Gore among the rotations through there. Kirk will be the biggest loss, but no doubt coach Rick Watts will find a way to get the job done.

South Adelaide will head in as strong favourites because the Panthers just find a way. Even with backs against the wall and down, they know how to win. Central will give them a fight, and with the outs the Panthers are a bit more vulnerable than usual, but they should still win in a close one.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Saturday, July 25, 1.40pm
Prospect Oval

All eyes will turn to Prospect Oval as Sturt faces an uphill battle in a must-win clash against the top of the table Roosters. For the Double Blues to play finals, they must win their final two games, and would no doubt be ruing the after-the-siren Redlegs goal last week as otherwise one win would have been enough in the remaining two rounds to at least match on points. The Double Blues’ task is made more difficult by the losses of Alysha Healy and Alex Ballard who miss the clash, with an extended bench added to Sturt’s side as the likes of Shae Daly and young talent Kiera Mueller coming in to add some strength to the defensive back six. North Adelaide have only lost ruck Bek Rasheed to general soreness as Hanni Howe comes in as a like-for-like replacement, and West Coast AFL Women’s defender Talia Radan also returns.

One area Sturt can try and take advantage of is in the ruck given the loss of Rasheed, with terrific middle-age AFL Women’s Draft talent Zoe Prowse among the most in-form players in the competition following back-to-back best-on performances for the Double Blues. The trouble will be trying to contain the Roosters midfield led by Adelaide best and fairest winner, Anne Hatchard, One has to expect someone will go to Hatchard to limit her influence, and it could well be Maya Rigter who went head-to-head with Ebony Marinoff a couple of weeks ago. Hatchard is more athletic though, and still strong which makes her a tough matchup for any opponent. Isobel Kuiper is one in that midfield group that might be given a chance, though it would be exciting to see her match up on fellow young talent, Hannah Ewings. The other third of the trio would be Georgia Bevan and Ash Woodland, with both midfields having a great mix of hardness and excitement.

Up either end, the biggest issue for Sturt by far is scoring. The Double Blues come up against a defence of Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward with Radan back in there too, stifling any high ball that comes their way. They might have to try and create a bit of a hazard ball going in there, with Nicole Baker looking good on debut last week, and young talents in Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler providing targets. Up the other end, there is no trouble scoring whatsoever as Kelly Barltrop is surrounded by the likes of Brianna Arthur, Kathryn Reynolds and Cristie Castle all of whom can hit the scoreboard multiple times in a game when required.

Sturt was good last week, certainly their best performance since the break. North Adelaide is a completely different machine though, and without Ballard and Healy, if the Roosters are firing on all cylinders then this spells danger for the Double Blues.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 25, 2.00pm
Thebarton Oval

Given the timing of this week’s fixtures, West Adelaide might have added a few more to the fan base in this game hiding their yellow and black gear. So much rests on this game when it comes to finals after Norwood’s slip-up against Sturt last week when the Redlegs dominated play but could not seemingly find the big sticks until the last kick of the day gave them a couple of points to bank. The celebration post-goal showed everything, that they were a much better chance of making finals than if they had lost that. But they still need to win one of their last two games to qualify, and it is a tough draw. First up is West Adelaide, a side that is frankly in better form and should win here. If the Bloods do, then it opens the door for Glenelg who should take care of Woodville-West Torrens in the final game of the day. In a way, it creates intrigue in the final round of the season given the Redlegs and Bays face off in Round 10. In other words, a virtual elimination final before an elimination final.

A lot of the talk will be around Norwood and whether the Redlegs can secure a finals birth with a win, but one cannot forget there is still plenty on the line for West Adelaide. The Bloods sit in third, three points off South Adelaide and if the Bulldogs upset the Panthers this week, then it is game on for second spot. In exactly the same way it is for Norwood and Glenelg. If West Adelaide wins and South Adelaide lose, then the final round clash between the Bloods and Panthers will be for second spot on the table and a double chance. Moving to the teams, Tiarna Harfield comes into the side with the Adelaide Uni player a straight swap for the injured Abbie Ballard who will be a key loss for the Bloods. The Redlegs have kept the opposition guessing by adding an extended bench with only Georgia Avery out of the side.

No doubt the youth of both sides will be the feature here, with midfield battles between Matilda Zander and Zoe Venning, as well as AFL Women’s experienced Najwa Allen and Rachelle Martin. Without her partner-in-crime in Ballard, Martin will look more to Zoe Greer, as well as Stevie-Lee Thompson to play more minutes in there. Thompson has been getting more dangerous by the week for the Bloods, and she is a part of a dominant forward line in Chelsea Biddell and Rachel Killian who also have that AFL Women’s experience. Norwood will need to contain the forwards, with Bella Smith likely to have a key role at centre half-back. Up the other end, Mattea Breed could be a target for the Redlegs along with captain Alison Ferrall, while it still seems a surprise teams do not try and negate the influence of Madison Newman. Easily one of, if not the most damaging players by foot in the competition, Norwood can not allow her to just run off half-back with ease because she can slice up opposition zones.

West Adelaide is in better form and should win here, but this is match of the round for a reason, so expect there to be plenty of highlights as teams jostle for the finals spots.

 

GLENELG vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, July 25, 4.45pm
ACH Group Stadium

Could Glenelg sneak into a second straight finals series with a late run in the final few rounds? It is certainly possible and for it to be in their own hands, the Bays must put this match to bed without any hiccups. They hold the percentage advantage over Norwood, but only marginally. Four points behind, there is no opportunity for wriggle room. Glenelg must win both remaining games and the Redlegs must lose both. One round luckily is well within the Tigers’ capabilities given they face off with the Redlegs in the final round. By the stage the first ball is bounced at ACH Group Stadium, the players will be well aware of what is on the line. If West Adelaide won in the prior game, then finals are well and truly alive, but if Norwood got up, then the dream is over for 2020. For the Eagles, they can actually avoid the wooden spoon with a win, holding a better percentage than Central District, a second win could see them take seventh spot on the table.

In terms of changes, Glenelg have a fairly huge loss in the form of Marinoff who is out of the side and the Bays will need to get the job done without here. The Eagles have also lost Kate Poole who has been a solid player over the past, but welcome back Stephanie Walker who will provide some excitement coming in at half-forward. The Eagles have a number of questions including where they play contested marking utility, Kiana Lee. She looked good in defence, but given they still lost by 86 points, now is not the time to try and stem the flow. She is the most damaging forward in the team, so should line-up there and potentially surprise the opposition with a few goals. If the midfield can match it with the experience of the Bays, through the likes of Chloe Forby, Jovanka Zecevic and Natasha Holmes, then it will go a long way to getting the win. The Eagles have always struggled in the ruck, and Caitlin Gould had a field day last time out against this team, something the visitors will be well aware of and looking to contain.

Glenelg has the experience in Gould, Eloise Jones and Deni Varnhagen able to play in multiple positions across the ground. With no Marinoff, young talent Tessa Kohn should get into the midfield again where she is not afraid to win the contested ball. Madisyn Freeman, Sam Franson and Brooke Tonon do not might moving the ball, which they will need to do against an Eagles side that has some runners. Jamie Parish played an underrated game off half-back last week, and along with Tesharna Maher and Renee Forth, their half-back line can repel Tigers attacks if they back themselves. Charlotte Dolan has been shifted up to a wing which is a good move as another who takes the game on, while Zahn Anthony has played some impressive football of late. It will not be easy to win, but if the Eagles are to cause an upset, they need to be unpredictable, take chances and run the ball. The midfield cannot afford to be exposed and they have to limit the influence of Gould around the ground.

Glenelg just have too much top-end talent in this game even without Marinoff, but Eagles should make it closer than last time. The 86-point loss last week to North Adelaide was not as bad as the scoreboard might suggest, but they are still a fair way off the top sides. Not without a chance in this game the Eagles, but Glenelg have much more on the line and one cannot see them dropping this game, particularly if Norwood loses and opens the door for the Tigers.

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 8 – Triple header on Super Sunday

A TOP against bottom clash on Saturday is followed by a Super Sunday with three back-to-back games at ACH Group Stadium as Round 8 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) takes place.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, July 18, 3.50pm
Prospect Oval

A couple of crucial injuries to both North Adelaide and Woodville-West Torrens have forced changes at the selection table as AFL Women’s players, Talia Radan (North) and Jess Sedunary (Eagles) are out of the clash. The Roosters regain important defender Lauren Gauci as both teams go with extended benches for the standalone women’s clash at Prospect Oval. It will take a monumental effort from the Eagles to topple the Roosters who have shone this season and are the clear team to beat in season 2020. They are by far the highest scoring team in the competition, with a ridiculous average of 52 points a game, whilst only conceding a competition low 17.3 points per game. The Eagles are the best defensive side outside the clear three standout teams, and have been capable of generating scores at times, though coming up the benchmark in the competition, it will be tough.

Anne Hatchard leads a Roosters midfield that has plenty of depth with the X-factor of Hannah Ewings, the speed of Katelyn Pope and the smarts of Lauren Daniel working through there. A couple of defensive rocks in Amber Ward and Kristi Harvey make it difficult to win one-on-ones in the Roosters back 50, while there are no shortage of goalkickers up front with Kelly Barltrop the main target, and the likes of Britt Perry and Katelyn Reynolds (both two goals last week), and Cristie Castle able to generate scores. The Eagles have some young talent through the list, with Tesharna Maher one who can catch the eye with her line-breaking ability, while Charlotte Dolan has strung together some good form of late. Amie Blanden has been a consistent forward, while Jovanka Zecevic has covered so much ground in 2020. It is fair to say the Roosters will be red-hot favourites in this clash, but stranger things have happened in footy.

 

STURT vs. NORWOOD
Sunday, July 19, 10.10am
ACH Group Stadium

A massive Super Sunday at ACH Group Stadium begins just after 10am when the Double Blues take on the Redlegs in a must-win clash for both sides. If the top four sides win again this round, then the finals will be done and dusted with a five-point gap between fourth and fifth, and in particular lock in year another finals series for Norwood. The inaugural premiers and then unlucky the past two years at the pointy end of the season, the Redlegs have undergone a fair bit of change in 2020, but a number of young guns have emerged and really stepped up at senior level. They have won three, lost three and drawn o in that time, but the issue is they are sixth for scores conceded, with only Central District and Sturt conceding more this season. The Double Blues unfortunately have the least points more and most points against this season. If they can cause an upset here, then final are far from done and dusted, though with North next week it makes it tough.

Norwood’s key talls who can play up either end in young guns, Mattea Breed and Bella Smith control the airways clunking some strong contested marks and providing that extra strength and smarts when reading the ball in flight. They lost Monique Hollick early last week to injury so were one down for the most of the contest against the top placed Roosters. The Redlegs were competitive and take confidence out of that game, they just faded away in the second half. Leah Cutting‘s battle with Zoe Prowse will be massive as the best ruck in the competition goes up against the best young ruck in the competition. Cutting has great body positioning and smarts, while Prowse has the athleticism that can worry opponents.

The midfield battle is just as intense, as Norwood have Najwa Allen, Matilda Zander and Jess Macolino of whom the latter is in some ripping form of late, while Isabel Martin can also pop up and have an impact in the forward half. Sturt looks to its co-captains in Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter, with Isobel Kuiper also a mainstay in there. The youth of the Double Blues is superb and they are trying everything to manufacture scores including throwing Hannah Prenzler and Alex Ballard forward to join Georgia Swan down there, while Elsie Dawes has been impressive of late in the back half. Sturt must win this clash, but to do so, they must find a way to score, and the average of 15 points per game the Double Blues score will likely not cut it, so Norwood head in as strong favourites.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 19, 11.55am
ACH Group Stadium

The middle game at ACH Group Stadium is a third against sixth where it is effectively the last chance for Central District – like the other bottom four sides – to roll the dice and try and secure a finals spot. West Adelaide have that finals spot – barring a complete capitulation, losing all three games and one of the other sides winning all three – but they would still like to put an exclamation mark on their season with a win here. If they win, finals are assured as they will sit at least game and a half – and likely two games and a half – ahead of the bottom five. The Bloods are still in contention of a top two spot if Glenelg can upset South Adelaide and they face the Panthers in the final round of the season. For the Bulldogs, they need a win and need Norwood to lose, but even if the Redlegs do not, finals are not completely out of reach. But it makes life tough as Central would need to find a way to defeat the top two sides – North and South – in the final two weeks, while hoping Norwood lose both its games. Central has a rough fixture to finish the year, and it will be a great test to see where it sits as it comes to the end of its second season.

The Bulldogs have only had to make the one chance with Gemma Doughty returning and replacing Chantel Reynolds who was impressive last week. Doughty will give the Bulldogs some great run off half-back, with their defence holding up well this season. Demi Sonneman is the rock at full-back, and Nicola Biagi has provided extra support there since returning. Last week was about their scoring power, as they piled on a team-high record score of 44, and will need to muster something similar again. Katelyn Rosenzweig is the player that makes things happen in the forward half, booting three goals and providing a presence to set up opportunities for her teammates. However the likes of Latiah Huynh, Shannon Murphy and Amber James up there have been able to hit the scoreboard in the last couple of weeks and just provide that support that was lacking prior to the break. Shelby Smith will have a massive role along withe Lauren Smith and Alicia Butler in trying to quell West Adelaide’s midfield.

The Bloods have Rachelle Martin, Abbie Ballard and Zoe Greer in there who are just sensational, while Kate Walsh has great strength in the ruck and her battle with Sarah Allan will be huge. The Westies’ half-back line of captain Lauren Rodato, and elite kicks Madison Newman and Keeley Kustermann is A-grade, and their forward line is the best in the competition. Stevie-Lee Thompson, Chelsea Biddell and Kasia Culhane to name a few are so damaging, but it will be up to the Bulldogs’ defence to try and quell them. The Bulldogs will be helped by the absence of Melanie Elsegood who is out injured in this game, though there are plenty of targets inside that forward 50. West Adelaide is a real roughie for the flag so the Bloods have earned favouritism, but Central is an impressive outfit that keeps getting better each week and are not afraid to take the game on.

 

GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 19, 1.40pm
ACH Group Stadium

In a rematch from a few weeks earlier, the Tigers try and have another crack at reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide in the final game of the round on Sunday. They have brought back a number of players including ruck talent, Soriah Moon, while the Panthers have a couple of handy ins among four with Elyse Haylock and Brooklyn Kraft both returning as well. In the first round back post-lockdown, Glenelg pushed South all the way for three quarters until three goals to zero in the last term handed the Panthers a 15-point lead. It was at the very ACH Group Stadium where the Tigers almost caused an early upset in what was one of the games of the season. Now to have a hope of making finals, they must win here and indeed their final two games against Eagles and Norwood to make finals. In many ways, this is almost like a virtual elimination final for the Bays, because if they win, they go fourth favourites overall, with Norwood having to play West Adelaide next week. It means the Tigers could overtake them heading into the team’s final round clash, but a loss here and a likely win to Norwood means the Tigers’ finals dreams are dashed. South are into finals, and are hoping North can slip up at some point, but will enjoy heading into the post-season series as underdogs. Though they would not want to get too complacent and drop a couple of games in the run home and potentially slip to third, missing out on that double chance.

Much like the first time these teams played, the midfield battle will be fascinating. They both have star power in there, with Ebony Marinoff leading the charge for Glenelg alongside another AFL Women’s talent in Deni Varnhagen, while Tessa Kohn has been named back on a wing after playing forward the last few weeks. South has that dominant combination of Nikki Gore, Czenya Cavouras and Hannah Munyard through there, as well as Nicole Campbell who can have a real influence. Throw in the young guns of Teah Charlton popping up for crucial goals, and Indy Tahau working hard through the ruck, and they have the youth to match the experience.

Glenelg has some talented young players scattered around the ground as well with Madisyn Freeman and Brooke Tonon both exciting players, while the likes of Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould straight the Bays up and capable of playing up either end and providing height. South’s defence is a real team defence and they work together well, with Samantha Pratt and Lauren Buchanan always working it well out of the back 50. Glenelg has the capability of putting up a big total – as do South – but the Panthers are often more defence-first and make life difficult for the opposition. The Panthers won the first time and they just seem to do that – grinding out wins even when there have been patches that go against them – so expect them to be the favourites, but when a team is backs-against-the-wall like Glenelg, anything can happen and they made it happen last year by scraping into finals with a massive final few rounds to the year.

SANFL Women’s Round 7 preview: Contenders to lock horns in Super Saturday

ROUND 7 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition is almost like a finals series, with 1st against 4th, 2nd against 3rd, and then the bottom four teams facing off in a round that is sure to determine a lot of things in the run home to the finals series. All four games are being played tomorrow in a Super Saturday.

WEST ADELAIDE VS. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 11, 11.00am
Hisense Stadium

The opening game of the round is set to be the best of the lot with a battle of second up against third and two genuine title contenders going at it. The team with the most firepower up forward (West Adelaide) going up against the team that has the most balanced group of the past couple of seasons (South Adelaide) makes for essential viewing. The back-to-back reigning premiers will be hard to beat, but at home the Westies will push the Panthers all the way.

Key questions:

Which midfield will win the battle?

The answer to this question may well determine the match. Both midfields are loaded with talent, as the likes of Rachelle Martin, Abbie Ballard and Zoe Greer go up against Nicole Campbell, Hannah Munyard and a returning Czenya Cavouras.

Will West Adelaide’s high pressing defence work against South?

The Bloods have a highly effective system where the defenders hold a high line, constantly pushing teams back so when a quick kick comes out of the forward 50, there is a defender there ready to mark and send it back in. Madison Newman is particularly strong in this area, and with Newman and Keeley Kustermann both superb kicks off half-back, they are players that are so damaging for the game.

How will South Adelaide handle the toughest forward line?

South is renowned for its sturdy defence that meets every challenge thrown at it. This week it will be the biggest of the lot, with damaging talls in Melanie Elsegood and Chelsea Biddell, and the always dangerous Stevie-Lee Thompson. If the likes of Lauren Buchanan who returns back into the side this week, Jaslynne Smith and Samantha Pratt can contain them, then this will be a tight tussle.

Prediction: Too tight to call. South deserve favouritism and it is hard to tip against them. Every time you do, they find a way to win. But there is something about West Adelaide at the moment that screams they are ready to take the next step, so do not be surprised if the Westies get up in this one.

 

STURT VS. GLENELG
Saturday, July 11, 11.30am
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval

In a battle of the sides that realistically could fight for a finals spot but are just not quite close enough, the youth of Sturt take on the experience of Glenelg. The Bays have been unlucky since loading up on AFL Women’s talent, pushing both North Adelaide and South Adelaide in the past fortnight. It is expected they will be keen to start strongly against a Sturt side that has plenty of bright future stars, and a strong defence, but have struggled to score.

Key questions:

Can Sturt kick a winning score?

No doubt Sturt’s defence is unbelievable. The likes of Hannah Prenzler, Jo-Anna Baltais and Alysha Healy all offer a different defensive aspect. This week Prenzler has been named at half-forward which could be the key to answering the question. Everyone knows Glenelg has the ability to kick a big score, but it will likely need to be a tight, low-scoring contest for Sturt to do the same.

Who will win the midfield battle?

Both these sides have very capable midfields with Sturt’s containing co-captain’s Maya Rigter and Georgia Bevan, as well as Isobel Kuipers, whilst the Tigers are led by Ebony Marinoff and Eloise Jones, and Ellie Kellock has been in some terrific form of late.

How much will AFLW experience count?

The Bays’ AFLW experience will be important up against an inexperienced side. Sturt will never stop throwing everything at its opposition, but Glenelg has enough firepower that it will continue to attack. Glenelg has had patches where the top two teams got on top and kicked multiple goals, so the Tigers will keen to not let that happen here.

Prediction: Glenelg’s experience should see them home here, but Sturt will make life difficult for them so expect a low-scoring battle.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS VS. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, July 11, 1.15pm
Maughan Thiem Kia Oval

Both Woodville-West Torrens and Central District have shown they are much more competitive in year two compared to their inaugural year last year, which is great for the competition as a while. Central grabbed an early win in Round 1, whilst the Eagles snaffled one back in Round 4 just before the season was suspended. This match could be an interesting one because one team is more than capable of moving the ball well, it is just about finding the right targets going forward, whilst the other is a fierce defensive side that wears down its opposition.

Key questions:

Where can Central take the advantage?

The Bulldogs’ spine is stronger with genuine talls at either end in the form of Sarah Allan and Katelyn Rosenzweig, with the former spending the majority of her time through the ruck last week too. Central is a side that opposition teams have to play well against to beat, because the Bulldogs are not going to just let you win. The Bulldogs have found a way to share the scoring load since the break, so now have multiple threats up there, such as Shannon Murphy who kicked two majors.

Where can Eagles take the advantage?

Woodville-West Torrens’ tackling is the best in the business. They make sure the opposition is feeling it throughout games and earn every touch. If their tackles stick, it will go a long way to winning because they can shut down the Bulldogs running game. Central’s style looks good when it moves, but it is often that last kick inside 50 that can sometimes miss and the Bulldogs will know the Eagles will bring the heat. Jess Sedunary has been a massive inclusion fo the Eagles, and Jovanka Zecevic and Amie Blanden – funnily enough the Eagles’ half-forward line this week – have been amongst their most consistent players.

What are some of the key match ups?

A potential young guns match up that could be huge to see if they ended up going head-to-head would be Latiah Huynh (Central) up against Charlotte Dolan (Eagles). Both are not afraid to move the ball, both are courageous and both are fierce at the contest when needing to be. Along with that, a vital match up at opposite ends would be Demi Sonneman up against Kiana Lee, and Ashlee Reid potentially trying to quell Katelyn Rosenzweig. There are no shortage of big one-on-ones here.

Prediction: Another one too close to call. Really like the way both sides have taken it up to the opposition the last few weeks, but Central in particular with the style were great against South and it might hold up here for the Bulldogs’ second win.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE VS. NORWOOD
Saturday, July 11, 1.40pm
Prospect Oval

A massive clash that will have huge ramifications on the run to the finals is up next with the other top four head-to-head between North Adelaide and Norwood. The Roosters are yet to lose this season, keen to avenge their grand final loss in 2019, while the minor premiers from last season have had to undergo some rebuilding with a lot of players being drafted – including their coach – into the AFL Women’s. A number of them have returned and Norwood have been able to string a couple of wins together since the break, but this is a huge test here. If they win, they draw level with West Adelaide, while North run the risk of South catching them at the top. It also means there would be up to a five-point gap between the top four and bottom four, all but guaranteeing the finals teams.

Key questions:

Does North Adelaide have an Achilles heel?

With six wins on the trot and answering every challenge thrown at them, it is hard to point out a weakness in the side. The defence is sturdy and reliable, the midfield is elite, the forward line has a nice mix of talls and smalls, and the depth is very impressive. However like any side, the key is winning the ball out of the midfield, because if they do not do that, it is hard to pile on the high scores that they do. It is imperative that Norwood win the midfield battle if they are to go on their way to claim victory. North Adelaide have not lost for a reason.

How much will the ruck battle play a role?

Leah Cutting is clearly one of, if not the standout ruck in the competition from a state league perspective, whilst Bek Rasheed has come in this season but shown some promising signs for the Redlegs. Most will expect Cutting to win that battle – and she will need to in order to give her midfielders a chance – but if Rasheed can nullify or get on top, then North is already a step ahead. Given North’s midfield of Anne Hatchard, Leah Tynan and Ashleigh Woodland with Katelyn Pope providing the dash off the wing, it will be a difficult one to stop.

How does Norwood kick a winning score against North?

The Roosters lowest score this year is 4.1 (25) and Glenelg’s identical score last week was the highest score against the Roosters. South pushed them all the way in Round 4, and the Redlegs are the only team yet to face them. Norwood on the other hand have score more than four goals once – in the win against Central in Round 5 – so you have to think they will need to do it again to win here. They have the potential through the likes of Alison Ferrall and Mattea Breed who both booted three goals in that aforementioned victory, whilst the midfield of Najwa Allen, Monique Hollick and Jess Macolino can all get forward and contribute. Norwood often has a rolling forward line with a lot of midfielders rotating through there which can also be a huge help. Unfortunately for the Redlegs, North’s defence is the best in the competition with Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward superb rebounders, and now Talia Radan back there too.

Prediction: It is just too hard to look past North. Norwood will give it a real shake and have the talent to do it, but the Roosters just keep getting it done each and every week and it is hard to see them getting beaten.

SANFL Women’s Round 6 preview: Sunday clashes ones to watch in huge round of action

NOW the first games have been done and won, the eight South Australian National Football League (SANFL) teams return for Round 2 in what is a blockbuster round of action. Sunday’s games in particular – between West Adelaide and Sturt, and North Adelaide and Glenelg – are ones to watch.

NORWOOD VS. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, July 4, 11.50am
Coopers Stadium

Opening up the round is a clash between fourth placed Norwood and sixth placed Woodville-West Torrens Eagles. The Redlegs made their way into fourth win an impressive win over Central District last week, leapfrogging Sturt into a finals position at the midpoint of the season. The Eagles have been close in each match they have played, but still remain with just the one win. A victory and a Sturt loss would see the Eagles move up to fifth on the table, whilst a Norwood win would see them draw level with the Bloods if Sturt can get up, or go a full three points clear inside the top four if as expected, West Adelaide wins against the Double Blues.

In terms of changes, the Redlegs have made just the one confirmed change with Lindsay Bigg the only confirmed out of the side, whilst Elisha Gallagher and Bella Smith return in what will be a good boost for the side. The Eagles have made at least two forced changes, with both Stephanie Walker and Natasha Holmes out of the match through injury. Adding to an extended bench for thew visiting side is Bronwyn Davey, Brooke Mullen, Jaida Tabb and Eli Gianakis all named.

For the Eagles to win, their top notch tackling pressure will need to be on show again, and the inclusion of Renee Forth last week added a touch of class to a fiercely defensive side. Tesharna Maher and Jovanka Zecevic impressed in the first round back after a long lay-off, whilst the inclusion of Tabb – the sister of Adelaide’s Jaimi – will show off some of he future talent on the list. One player who will be looking to have a bigger influence on the contest this week is forward, Kiana Lee who can be really influential on her day.

Norwood just has a lot of good solid talent across the park, with some serious young X-factor such as Matilda Zander and Mattea Breed who have plenty of potential to keep developing their football. Given arguably the league’s best ruckman in Leah Cutting is doing her thing and Najwa Allen and Monique Hollick are back in the side, there is plenty to like about Norwood’s premiership credentials. Smith has been named at centre half-back and will be one to watch, whilst Alison Ferrall proved a handful up forward last week booting three goals, the same as Breed.

Norwood head into this as favourites and should win, but the Eagles always make life difficult for opposition teams with their defensive pressure.

 

SOUTH ADELAIDE VS. CENTRAL DISTRICT
Saturday, July 4, 3.30pm
Flinders University Stadium

Reigning back-to-back champions South Adelaide welcome Central District to Flinders University Stadium in a match the Panthers will be keen to win well. They were pushed all the way by Glenelg last weekend, while Central District had its chances but could not convert enough to really threaten Norwood. Heading into this game, South sit second on the table only behind the top of the table Roosters, whilst the Bulldogs are in last, but a win would see them get off the bottom of the table.

Central has the less complicated changes of the teams, with young talent Kimberley Fry the only confirmed out of the side for tomorrow’s match. Emma Keys, Keely Cannizzaro and Amber James are the three players named in an extended squad. The Panthers have been forced to make five changes with some big names out through injury or work. Czenya Cavouras and Elke Jarvis both have work commitments and will miss the game, while an injured trio in captain Lauren Buchanan, Courtney Barry and Elyse Haylock are all out. Naturally South Adelaide has named seven players as possible replacements, including Emily Brockhurst, Sheena Peters, Brianna Wedding and Lauren Clifton who were all named on the field for the clash.

What makes the Panthers so strong in the depth within the starting line-up and very few weaknesses. Glenelg was able to get on top at times last week, but it took some AFL Women’s talent to break down South Adelaide. Then the likes of Nikki Gore, Hannah Munyard and Jess Kirk all fought back to have important roles through the inside midfield, outside midfield and forward line respectively. Add in the fact that the Panthers won without a huge contribution from star young gun Teah Charlton – who started to get going late in the contest, and there is a reason they have been so successful of late. In the absence of Buchanan, Jaslynne Smith and Samantha Pratt have some big jobs ahead of them.

The Bulldogs were gallant at times last week and never looked completely out of the contest. Katelyn Rosenzweig is always a danger up forward with her strong hands and penetrating kick likely to hit the scoreboard each and every week. She will always attract a crowd too at the marking contest, so if the Bulldogs crumbers can get to work, they can have a bit of freedom knowing their opponents can occasionally try and assist a defender in stopping Rosenzweig. The likes of Alicia Butler and Latiah Huynh were really impressive last week, and have some eye-catching traits. Whilst scoring at times has been an issue for Central, their defence stacks up against some of the best, with Sarah Allan returning to the club for the second half of the season and providing that extra experience alongside Demi Sonneman and another returning player in Gemma Doughty who made the successful return from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last week.

South Adelaide will be strong favourites for this one given the midfield strength, but with a couple of key players down in the back half, Central has a chance to take advantage of the reshuffling of magnets.

 

WEST ADELAIDE VS. STURT
Sunday, July 5, 11.50am
Hisense Stadium

Of all the clashes, this could be the most exciting. Both teams have an abundance of youth which they are backing in this week and will make for quite the show at Hisense Stadium. Naturally, the third placed West Adelaide will have the upper hand at home, sitting in a good position to pounce if South Adelaide slips up. The Bloods have a good percentage gap on fourth placed Norwood, and after getting the job done against Woodville-West Torrens eagles in a scrap last week, expect the game to open up more this week. Sturt dropped out of the top four and their percentage took a hit with that huge 77-point defeat to North Adelaide, so getting a win here would be important to try and get their form back.

Amelie Finnimore and Nicole Hooper will miss the Bloods clash through injury this week, while Tamika May and Taylor Hand are also listed on the outs. A debutant in Hannah Scholar from Morphettville Park will join four others on an extended bench. Olivia Smith, Abbey Hardwick, Alex Mason, Scarlett Griffiths and Georgie Gray are all in line to return to the team for the clash. Sturt on the other hand has made just the two changes with Ally Ladas out injured, joining Holly Temby as the two confirmed changes. In line to make their debuts for the Double Blues are Olivia McEvoy and Tiah Hough, the latter of whom is a member of the Crows’ Academy. Caroline Burgess and Aajiah Jericho are the other two named in an extended team.

Whilst Sturt might have been overwhelmed last week, there was always a bit to like about the way they move the ball, and they when using their short kicking and hitting up targets it worked, but North Adelaide knew to add pressure to the mix and it was hard to quell. Hannah Prenzler was a standout down back with Maya Rigter throwing herself everywhere through midfield trying everything to get her team over the. Rigter and her co-captain Georgia Bevan are guiding a young team, and Rigter herself is still only 19. Zoe Prowse had a quieter game last week but has the potential to really get going, whilst Alex Ballard had some purple patches in the game.

West Adelaide was able to do enough to shake off a determined Eagles outfit in Round 5, and their two half-backs in AFL Women’s Crows talent Madison Newman and young gun Keeley Kustermann might be the best one-two combination at that position when it comes to running and hitting targets. Having two terrific ball users coming out of defence is crucial to a team’s success and they certainly offer that. With Rachelle Martin and Abbie Ballard leading the charge in midfield, they can get it down to arguably the most damaging forward line as well. Melanie Elsegood as the deep forward alongside AFL Women’s talent in Chelsea Biddell and Stevie-Lee Thompson is a strong mix, whilst Zoe Venning provides that dash between the arcs.

West Adelaide are one of the dark horses this season and should get the job done here, but both teams will score more than they did last week in a free-flowing contest.

 

GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, July 5, 12pm
ACH Group Stadium

If AFL Women’s talent is what you after, then look no further than the final game of the round between the undefeated North Adelaide and the rising Glenelg. On face value the Tigers are seventh on the table and really need to start making a move to have a chance at finals. But with the return of a number of AFL Women’s players – who all had a big impact last week against South – they are ready to rake in the wins. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they have copped the two best sides in the first two weeks back, and this North Adelaide team is coming off a 77-point demolition job of Sturt.

Glenelg will be without Soriah Moon who is a big loss, joining Cass Hartley as the players out of the side from the loss to Sturt. Coming into the team are Molly Affolter, Sheridan Howell, Lauren Bungey and Rachel Aistrope with at least two to make it into the final term. Alex Fitridge is the only out for the Roosters this week, as North Adelaide welcomes back defender Lauren Gauci, as well as adding Kendall Howell, Charlea Taylor and Brianna Arthur to an extended bench.

North have managed to get stronger with the addition of Gauci who provides extra strength to the league’s best backline. Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward have been mainstays in the key posts this year, but bringing in West Coast’s Talia Radan adds another key talent in there, and Gauci will have the freedom to provide some extra run when needed. Through the midfield, Anne Hatchard would have broken all kinds of statistical records last week when she brought her own ball to the game against the Double Blues. She was simply unstoppable and carried on her best and fairest winning from from the Crows. Teaming up with Ashleigh Woodland and Leah Tynan in midfield, and throwing in the speed and class of Katelyn Pope and Hannah Ewings, and the Roosters outfit are premiership favourites for a reason. There are very few, if any weaknesses in the line-up, and it will take a special effort to beat them on any given day.

Glenelg do have some serious talent that can stretch the Roosters however, led by Ebony Marinoff, Eloise Jones and Caitlin Gould. Marinoff was enormous in the first half for the Bays last week, and Jones was just about their best with her strong hands and work in transition up forward. Caitlin Gould could have had a bigger day and might be ruing her missed chances on goal, something she will no doubt fix for this game. Deni Varnhagen provided great speed on the outside, whilst Grace Duffy and Sam Franson also had impressive moments in the loss. The Tigers top-end talent is class and quality, and whilst North Adelaide have the greater depth, the Bays have a lot of strong contributors who work as one unit and know what each other is capable of, and why they pushed the reigning back-to-back premiers for so long last week.

The Roosters are favourites because they have not lost and on paper are the best team in the competition, but they can also not underestimate what Glenelg is capable of on its day, especially with Marinoff and Jones among those running around.