Tag: megan fitzsimon

2021 VFLW Round 10 preview: Pride on the line in more ways than one for huge round of action

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Pride Round kicks off in a Super Saturday stretching from the mid-morning to a game under lights, with plenty on the line and a number of virtual elimination finals or finals tuneups.

HAWTHORN vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, May 8 @ 10:00am
Box Hill City Oval

Opening the round is a must-win clash for Hawthorn hosting the last placed Darebin Falcons. If the Hawks get up, they are still a chance for finals, but a loss will all but put a line through their chances. For the Falcons, finals is a bit beyond them, but they will be hoping to double their wins tally with a victory here, and finish strongly in the last five rounds. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae made her debut in the brown and gold last week, and another young talent will join her this week with Ashanti Bush cracking through to team up with fellow Darwin Buffettes prospect Dominique Carbone. The AFL Women’s Academy member will start on the bench, whilst Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is back in the team after her side was eliminated from the NAB League Girls competition, and ex-Pioneer Katelyn Hazlett back for her second game after a strong debut. Given the AFL Women’s experience that keeps building at the Hawks, the latest is Geelong Cats’ Phoebe McWilliams who teams up with fellow experienced tall Meg Hutchins in attack. The Hawks have plenty of present and former AFLW talents, so expect they will be too strong in this one.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 8 @ 12:00pm
Whitten Oval

A virtual elimination final takes place at midday on Saturday, with the loser of Western Bulldogs and Carlton effectively putting a line through their finals hopes. For the winner, they live to fight another day, which means there is plenty on the line for the teams. The Western Bulldogs have brought back Jess Fitzgerald to the team, with Kirsten McLeod and Naomi Ferres coming in for their first games of the season. Brisbane Lions’ Beth Pinchin is an interesting inclusion for the Dogs at centre half-back, while Western Jets’ Caitlin Sargent, Nikita Wright and Stephanie Asciak all remain in the side. For the Blues, they have kept fairly consistent wiht their lineups, getting games into Charlotte Hammans, Maddy Guerin and Serena Gibbs. Abbie McKay, Grace Egan and Daisy Walker all return for their second games back at the level, and Natalie Plane for her first, in what is a tough game on the road. The Dogs have that bit more class about them, but it will be whether or not they can win the midfield in what looks like a star-studded group on both sides.

GEELONG vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, May 8 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

Two teams headed for finals will clash in a blockbuster VFLW match at Deakin University. Geelong have been strong down there, and with Stephanie Williams, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Rebecca Webster and Richelle Cranston all in the side, there is enough AFLW talent to lead by experience. Carly Remmos remains but Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner are out of the side after suffering repeated leather poisoning each week. They take on an Essendon side that is building very nicely, bringing in Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning for her debut this week, switching in for another Pioneer in Elizabeth Snell. The Calder Cannons talents feature all through the emergencies with talls Kasey Lennox and Neve Crowley likely to come in the following week, while Mia-Rae Clifford and Georgia Nanscawen represent AFL Women’s experience. The defence is solid for the Bombers, as Eloise Gardner and Courtney Ugle will provide some run and carry, while Ruby Svarc is a natural ball-winner and will provide good defensive pressure inside 50. At home Geelong has the upper hand, though the Bombers are a chance in this one.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 8 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

In the traditional timeslot on Saturday afternoon, North Melbourne host Collingwood in a must-win clash for the Roos. The Magpies are cruising along nicely at 9-0 and unless the wheels completely fall off, a top two spot – and likely minor premiership beckons. The Magpies have brought in Mikala Cann for her first VFLW game of the season, giving the Pies mostly an AFLW spine including Sophie Alexander, Abbi Moloney and Maddie Shevlin, whilst Jasmine Ferguson has been one of the most reliable defenders in the competition. Add in the dangerous Matilda Zander up forward and the ball-winning Marla Neal in midfield, and the Magpies have plenty of top VFLW talents as well. For North Melbourne, they remain determined to keep a fairly consistent VFLW lineup, with Alexia Hamilton and Reni Hicks a couple of former AFLW players while Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely join them in the midfield as in-form talents. Camilla Taylor returns to the level after Tasmania Devils’ exit from the NAB League Girls competition, while Molly Eastman is another Roo in great form. They have had a real mixed bag this season, but are not without a chance the Roos, though the Pies are deservedly favourites for this clash.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Saturday, May 8 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Southern Saints can go a long way towards securing a finals spot with an upset win over top two side, Port Melbourne at ETU Stadium on Saturday. The Saints hold the precious sixth spot, and still will after this round given their far superior percentage to the chasing pack, but cannot afford to drop too many or the lower teams will pounce. Dandenong Stingrays co-captain Ash Richards and versatile runner Jaide Anthony both make their debuts at VFLW level, but unlike many of their teammates, they will be running out for the opposition side Port Melbourne. They are joined in the side by Maddy Brancatisano who returns to the level for the first time this season, with a host of current and past AFLW talent, including Katherine Smith, Sophie Molan and Emily Harley who stood up last week with four goals. Zoe Hill has been named as an emergency for the Saints, with Jemma Radford retaining her spot in the back pocket for some Dandenong Stingrays flavour, and the AFLW talent led by Alice Burke, Tahlia Meyer and Renee Saulitis. Port Melbourne have more depth in the side and should win, with the Saints needing to make the most of their chances if they are to get up.

WILIAMSTOWN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:00pm
Downer Oval

Playing a special Saturday night game under lights for the Pride Round under lights at Downer Oval, Williamstown will be hoping to cause a boilover agains a strong Casey Demons side that is gearing up for finals. The Seagulls need to win the remainder of their games to qualify for finals just about, and have been able to welcome Gold Coast Suns’ Bess Keaney to the lineup. She will lineup in the back pocket, with Georgia Garnett also coming into the defence for her debut in the VFLW following the announcement that Williamstown had formed a link with the GWS GIANTS. Lisa Steane has also been named in the side, with Ella Baxter, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players. Casey Demons have a damaging forward line with Maddison Gay, Alyssa Bannan and Imogen Milford one of the strong forward trios going around. Libby Birch in defence, Eden Zanker and Megan Fitzsimon in midfield, and the newest debutant Grace Matser – a Gippsland Power ruck – will all provide plenty of talent and depth around the ground.

2021 VFLW Round 8 wrap: Dogs move within range of top six as Casey topple Borough

PORT Melbourne suffered its first loss of the season at the hands of a stacked Casey Demons outfit, while Western Bulldogs continued to make their move towards the top six, defeating Southern Saints under lights to kick off Round 8 of the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

>> VFL WOMEN’S PAGE

WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.0 | 1.4 | 2.8 | 4.10 (34)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)

Under lights at Whitten Oval, the Western Bulldogs well and truly made up for their last game in the same time slot earlier in the season, taking care of the Southern Saints by 18 points. It was a crucial win for the Bulldogs, who moved to within percentage of the top six, and despite not scoring in the first term, booed three goals to one in the second half to secure the 4.10 (34) to 2.4 (16) victory. They arguably could have won by more with 14 scoring shots to six, though it was the impressive work of Nell Morris-Dalton and Danielle Marshall up front who did the damage, slotting two majors each. Elisabeth Georgostathis and Ellyse Gamble combined for 48 disposals, whilst the defence of Simone Ruedin, Sarah Hartwig and Brooke Hards were instrumental in the win. Angelica Gogos had another strong game in her second match back, while for the Saints, debutant Jemma Radford stood tall with some nice highlights. AFLW-listed players Molly McDonald and Alice Burke were busy, as Tahlia Meyer also feasted upon her debut in the VFLW side, sharing 53 disposals with Burke. Deanna Jolliffe was named best on for the Dogs, kicking one of their two goals, while Rebecca Neaves was also impressive in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

>> Bulldogs out of the dog house and off the leash

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton 2, D. Marshall 2.
Southern Saints: K. Ripari, D. Jolliffe.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, A. Gogos , D. Marshall, E. Gamble, S. Ruedin, A. Scott.
Southern Saints: D. Jolliffe, M. McDonald, R. Neaves, M. Bertuna, J. Radford, A. Burke

PORT MELBOURNE 2.2 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 4.4 (28)
CASEY DEMONS 2.0 | 3.4 | 7.6 | 10.8 (68)

A dominant second half has helped Casey Demons inflict Port Melbourne’s first loss of the season, piling on seven goals to two after half-time to win by 40 points. The Demons trailed by two points at the first break, but hit the front by the main break with the only goal of the season term, before pulling away to win, 10.8 (68) to 4.4 (28). Alyssa Bannan made a successful debut at VFLW level with three majors, countering that of her experienced opponent down the other end in Sabrina Frederick who caused headaches for the Demons defence with the first two goals for her side. Fellow Demons AFLW-listed players in Maddison Gay (22 disposals) and Jacqueline Parry (20) also slotted in seamlessly, as Eliza West (21 and eight tackles) and Megan Fitzsimon (18 and six tackles) continued their good form this season. For the Borough, Olivia Barton and Mel Kuys led the way, having 18 and 17 disposals respectively, and laying four tackles apiece. Elizabeth Wilson kicked the other goal for the home side off 14 touches and 18 hitouts, while Phillipa Peschke and Sarah Sansonetti were lively.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 3, E. Wilson.
Casey Demons: A. Bannan 3, E. Humphries 2, S. Johnson, J. Parry, S. Fairchild, I. Milford, K. Thompson.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: P. Peschke, S. Frederick, S. Sansonetti, S. Locke, C. Dyett, M. Kuys
Casey Demons: E. West, I. Milford, S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, A. Bannan, S. Johnson

DAREBIN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.5 | 1.5 (11)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.6 | 6.6 | 11.9 (75)

Geelong Cats took a little while to get going, but then put the foot down against the last placed Darebin, running out 64-point winners at Bill Lawry Oval. The Cats led by a straight kick at quarter time and 21 points at half-time, before piling on 8.3 to 1.2 in the second half, including five goals to zero in the last term in order to secure the 11.9 (75) to 1.5 (11) victory. The AFLW contingent of Sophie Van De Heuvel (25 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Laura Gardiner (24 disposals, 10 tackles and two goals) and Darcy Moloney (22 disposals, seven tackles and a goal) all had plenty of the footy, as Olivia Barber slotted three goals from 15 touches and six marks. Claudia Gunjaca, Georgie Rankin and Paige Sheppard were also among the best as the Cats continued their red-hot recent form. For the Falcons, Jess Dal Pos returned from New South Wales to put up 21 disposals, four marks and five tackles, and aid AFLW-experienced talents in Nicole Callinan (18 disposals, four marks and 11 tackles) and Alyssa Mifsud (14 disposals, six tackles and 17 hitouts). Hayley Munro, Ellen Buckley and Ashleigh Gunn were all named among the team’s best in the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Darebin: H. Munro.
Geelong: L. Gardiner 3, O. Barber 3, D. Moloney, S. Van De Heuvel, M. Boyd, A. Johnson, G. Clarke.

BEST:

Darebin: A. Mifsud, N. Callinan, J. Dal Pos, H. Munro, E. Buckley, A. Gunn
Geelong: O. Barber, C. Gunjaca, G. Rankin, B. Beckley, P. Sheppard, D. Moloney

HAWTHORN 1.1 | 3.2 | 3.4 | 5.6 (36)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.2 | 0.3 | 1.6 | 2.8 (20)

Hawthorn leapfrogged Williamstown out of the bottom two with its second win of the season, getting up by 16 points at Box Hill City Oval on Sunday. The Hawks kicked the first three goals of the game to lead by 17 points at half-time, and whilst the Seagulls did manage to keep touch – and kick two of the last four goals – it would not be enough as the brown and gold saluted at home, 5.6 (36) to 2.8 (20). Dominique Carbone kicked a couple of majors and really impressed across the ground, as did key position player Tamara Luke (one goal). It was no surprise to see in her 250th game of senior footy that Meg Hutchins was a standout, while Sophie Bolding was named best on ground. Jenna Richardson and Chloe Bain were also named among the winning side’s best on the day. For Williamstown, Erin Meade was yet again outstanding, as Eliza Straford and Ella Baxter‘s strong seasons continued. Elizabeth McGrath and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster kicked the two goals for their sides, but it would not be enough in the end.

>> MATCH STATISTICS (will be updated once completed on the app)

GOALS:

Hawthorn: D. Carbone 2, T. Luke, E. Mcilvena , A. Malander.
Williamstown: G. Biedenweg-Webster, E. McGrath.

BEST:

Hawthorn: S. Bolding, T. Luke, M. Hutchins, D. Carbone, J. Richardson, C. Bain
Williamstown: E. Meade, E. Straford, E. Baxter, R. Tripodi, A. Whelan, L. Suleiman

ESSENDON 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 1.1 | 3.3 | 5.8 (38)

Collingwood has held off a determined Essendon at The Hangar, thanks to a strong second half, and in particular final quarter which saw the Magpies boot the last two goals of the game to win by 10 points. The Bombers looked strong early, but could never shake the Pies, and despite Mia-Rae Clifford booting an early goal in the fourth term to cut the deficit to one, the Magpies kicked away with the next two to blow it out to 15 points before a late consolation prize made the final scores 5.8 (38) to 4.4 (28). Collingwood welcomed back some of its AFL Women’s talent, with Sophie Alexander being a threat in the air, clunking seven marks from 17 touches, and while she did not hit the scoreboard in a major way – two behinds – she shared the load inside 50 with Imogen Barnett (13 disposals, six marks and one goal), Matilda Zander (13 disposals, one goal) and Aliesha Newman (12 disposals, one goal). Marla Neal was a clear standout for the Pies though, racking up the ball at will with 28 touches, as well as laying 14 tackles and a slotting a goal, while Jasmine Ferguson (12 disposals, four marks) and Caitlin Bunker (20 disposals, four marks) did well throughout the match. For the Bombers, Cecilia McIntosh dominated in the first half on her way to 22 disposals and six marks, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Elisabeth Hosking (14 disposals, eight tackles), Eloise Gardner (12 disposals) and Elizabeth Snell (14 disposals) all stood strong. Clifford’s three goals from nine touches, three marks and five tackles threatened to change the game.

>> ELIZABETH SNELL PLAYER FOCUS

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

Essendon: M. Clifford 3, E. Mackay.
Collingwood: M. Zander, A. Newman, B. Smith, I. Barnett, M. Neal.

BEST:

Essendon: C. McIntosh, E. Ashley-Cooper, M. Clifford, J. Davies, E. Gardner, K. Heil
Collingwood: S. Alexander, M. Neal, J. Ferguson, M. Shevlin, K. Lee, S. King

NORTH MELBOURNE 4.1 | 4.5 | 4.9 | 6.11 (47)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)

North Melbourne has won its third game of the season in style, proving too strong for Carlton, and keeping the Blues to just one goal in the match. It was the second time in three rounds that the Blues kicked a goal or less after pushing Port Melbourne in between, but on the day, North Melbourne’s four first-quarter goals were the difference during the 6.11 (47) to 1.0 (6) victory. Sarah Skinner‘s unbelievable form continued with a whopping 32 disposals, five marks, five tackles and a goal, teaming up perfectly with those in the back half, as Meagan Kiely (26 disposals, four marks and seven tackles), Molly Eastman (22 disposals, five marks and five tackles) and Bella Eddey (22 disposals, five marks) all finding plenty of the ball. Daria Bannister slotted two goals from 20 touches and 10 tackles in her return to the level with Eddey, while Annalise Vine who switched to the Roos from the Hawks played her best game of the season with 16 disposals and seven marks. Brooke Brown was named best-on by the Roos coaching staff for her 16 touches and nine marks. For the Blues, Teresa Zampaliogne had a team-high 20 disposals as well as five tackles and three marks, while AFLW-listed talents, Charlotte Hammans (19 disposals) and Winnie Laing (18 and six tackles) were both busy. Eliza Wood was named the Blues’ best with 15 disposals, eight marks, three tackles and a goal, while Paige Trudgeon (11 disposals, six tackles) and Bry Gurr (16 disposals) were also busy despite the loss.

>> MATCH STATISTICS

GOALS:

North: L. Wright 2, D. Bannister 2, S. Skinner, N. Celebre.
Carlton: E. Wood.

BEST:

North: B. Brown, M. Eastman, D. Bannister, J. Mourney, S. Skinner, K. Price
Carlton: E. Wood, C. Hammans, P. Trudgeon, T. Zampaglione, B. Gurr, W. Laing

Reserves wrap: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 7

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s returned for Round 7 on the weekend, with six fixtures split evenly across Saturday and Sunday. With the 2021 AFL Women’s season run and done, top flight players are now filing through the state league system at a greater rate, strengthening the eight aligned teams. We take you through how some of the standouts performed over the weekend in our Reserves Wrap.

>> Results: VFLW Round 7 wrap

Collingwood’s unblemished run rolled on as the Magpies accounted for Southern Saints for their seventh win of the year. Key forward Bella Smith was best afield for the victors, booting a game-high three goals having gained valuable senior experience in 2021. Another returning player, Maddie Shevlin notched 25 disposals, as twin talls Abbey Green (two goals) and Abbi Moloney (one) both hit the scoreboard in black and white.

First year Saints midfielder Alice Burke was easily the most prolific ball winner on the day, finishing with 35 disposals in arguably her best effort to date – at any level. Fellow youngster Molly McDonald (19 disposals, five marks) featured among the votes with Jacqui Vogt (14 disposals, eight tackles, one goal), as Poppy Kelly fared well in the ruck to win 30 hitouts.

While Hawthorn boasted some former AFLW talent of its own, the standalone was up against it as Casey fielded a strong crop of senior players in a 13-point win. Ruck prospect Maggie Caris looks primed to crack a senior berth next season having continued her terrific year in the twos, with another 11 disposals and 22 hitouts. Megan Fitzsimon and Mietta Kendall also featured, contributing 12 touches apiece, as Isabella Simmons booted a goal and Irishwoman Lauren Magee returned to the fold in handy form.

Geelong was another side to blood plenty of youth through its VFLW-aligned lineup, with senior players among the best afield in the Cats’ win over North Melbourne. Dynamic tall forward Olivia Barber booted an equal game-high three goals, as Laura Gardiner topped the disposal charts with 27. Sophie Van De Heuvel had it 22 times to join the aforementioned pair in Geelong’s votes, while Georgie Rankin (18 disposals, seven tackles) and Darcy Moloney (14 disposals, one goal) played their parts.

At the opposite end of the ground to Barber, first year ‘Roo Brooke Brown also snared three majors in another promising display. She was joined by Sarah Wright and Amy Smith in the side, with both finishing on 13 disposals in serviceable outings. Wright also got her hands dirty with nine tackles.

The Western Bulldogs snapped a long losing streak on Sunday, defeating Darebin Falcons with a side loaded up on elite level players. A bunch of them got among the goals too; Danielle Marshall led the way with three, while Gemma Lagioia and usual defender Eleanor Brown both snared two. Angelica Gogos (23 disposals, one goal) was named best afield in the win, while Amelia Van Oosterwijck was also among the productive brigade of senior stars to do damage in red, white, and blue.

In the round’s final game, Port Melbourne snuck home against Carlton to keep its perfect record in tact, with imposing Richmond forward Sabrina Frederick (two goals) leading the attack. For the Blues, Paige Trudgeon was awarded full votes for her 12 disposals and seven tackles, as Maddy Guerin led her side’s disposal count with 21, and Charlotte Hammans also earned votes. Among the other senior Blues to feature, Serena Gibbs took on some ruck duties with 11 hitouts to go with her 10 touches.

2021 VFLW Round 7 preview: Dogs and Darebin eye off second win in bottom two clash

A BOTTOM two clash between Western Bulldogs and Darebin Falcons will see the winner escape the bottom of the table, whilst the Southern Saints and Collingwood clash for a second time and are set to have a beauty of a contest.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, April 17 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

Despite Collingwood joining the rest of the Victorian-based AFL Women’s teams in being eliminated from the finals series, the Magpies have resisted massive changes to the state league side, with Bella Smith and Joanna Lin among those included in the forward half, with other existing AFL Women’s players including Maddie Shevlin, Abbey Green, Amelia Velardo, Imogen Purcell and Abbi Moloney in the team. They currently sit undefeated at the top of the table, with a tough clash down at Trevor Barker Beach Oval against the Southern Saints. Dandenong Stingrays tall Zoe Hill is set to make her debut for the side, alongside the likes of other teenagers in Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis who have established themselves in the side. Molly McDonald is a huge inclusion for the Saints at half-back to create some run, and with Tara Bohanna and Gabriella De Angelis up forward, the home team certainly has the capacity to inflict the Magpies’ first loss of the season. Eastern Ranges youngster Olivia Meagher is among the ones to watch in the black and white, as the Magpies eye off making it seven straight wins.

ESSENDON vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

One of the teams looking to keep in touch with the top two sides is Essendon, after the Bombers came from behind to defeat Hawthorn last week at Box Hill. They managed to do it without star midfielder Georgia Nanscawen who succumbed to injury early in the match, and they will need to do it again without her, relying on the likes of Alana Barba, Courtney Ugle and Eloise Ashley-Cooper in the midfield. Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell returns to the red and black in a five-day turnaround from a successful outing for Vic Country, with Calder Cannons duo Kasey Lennox and Zali Friswell remaining in the side. Williamstown stand between Essendon and the Bombers’ fifth win, with the Seagulls not far off the top six despite having just the two wins from six games. The midfield trio of Ashlea Melnikas, Megan Williamson and Aimee Whelan will be hard to beat, with Scarlett Dunnell up forward and Erin Meade in defence among the others to keep an eye out for in the blue and gold. Even without Nanscawen, Essendon will be favoured to get up here at home, but the Seagulls will give them a run for their money.

HAWTHORN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 17 @ 11:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Speaking of Hawthorn at Box Hill, the brown and gold are back again, this time hosting a Casey Demons side looking to bounce back having lost their past two games to the Magpies and Cats. The home team was able to include some AFL Women’s talent last week with the entire half-back line having that experience in Georgia Bevan, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch. However perhaps the most interesting inclusion is former Magpie Kristy Stratton who has been named on the bench after playing for the undefeated Pies throughout the season. Much like Luke and von Bertouch, she has moved to the Bec Goddard-coached Hawks. Up the other end, Meg Hutchins has been a terrific leader with some youngsters inside 50, such as Eastern Ranges’ co-captain Eloise Chaston who kicked the only goal for her side last week. Matilda Hardy is back into the team with Isabelle Khoury and Ruby O’Dwyer some Ranges to hold their places, while Northern Territory talent Dominique Carbone is another one to watch for the home team. For the Demons, Maggie Caris, Megan Fitzsimon, Mietta Kendall and Isabella Simmons are among the future of the red and blue having been picked up in last year’s draft, whilst Emma Humphries‘ experience is crucial, much like defender Alison Brown in the back 50. Casey should be too strong, but the Hawks will give it a red hot crack at home.

GEELONG vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, April 18 @ 11:30am
Queens Park

Some Vic Country youngsters will return for the Cats as they field their strongest side to-date in the Round 7 encounter against North Melbourne. The Cats will be keen to keep in touch with the top two, and should do so against a Kangaroos side that is 2-4 and coming off a loss to the previously winless Darebin Falcons. Annie Lee and Renee Tierney return to the Cats’ VFL Women’s side after playing on Monday, with the side well stacked with AFL Women’s talent. Rene Caris, Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Sophie Van De Heuvel in the midfield is the future AFL Women’s midfield, whilst Georgia Clarke, Olivia Barber and Stephanie Williams in attack makes the Cats a potent team when in transition. The Kangaroos remain without a great deal of AFL Women’s talent, instead focusing on the development aspect of the side with Amy Smith and Brooke Brown a couple of listed players in attack, while Sarah Skinner is always a threat inside 50. Molly Eastman and Tarni Nestor will try and contain the Cats’ forward line, while Katelyn Cox will have a great battle with Moloney and Gardiner throughout the day. Geelong should take the match fairly comfortably being at home with a pretty impressive outfit.

DAREBIN vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Sunday, April 18 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

A potential match of the round at the other end of the ladder is the one between Darebin Falcons and Western Bulldogs, with both sides sitting at 1-5 for the season. A loss here will really hurt finals hopes, whilst a win keeps the victor in the hunt if they can build momentum in the second half of the season. Coming off a four-goal haul to help her side over the line, Stephanie Simpson will be looking for much of the same for the Falcons. It will be a tough ask against the strongest looking Bulldogs defence all year, with AFL Women’s talents, Eleanor Brown and Isabella Grant, the consistent rock in Simone Ruedin, speedy teenager Brooke Hards and natural ball-winner Katelyn Betts, both of the latter whom have moved into new roles of late. Up the other end, Nell Morris-Dalton has returned to the fold, with Gemma Lagioia and Amelia van Oosterwijck also there, and Isabelle Pritchard rounding out the AFL Women’s contingent. For the Falcons, ex-Bulldog Nicole Callinan was impressive in her first game back and will be a key player in the defence alongside consistent defender Gena Lawson-Tavan. Up the other end, Alyssa Mifsud kicked three goals a couple of rounds back, so between her and Simpson, they have the potential to put some high scores on the board, while Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is another youngster in the side. The Western Bulldogs side is arguably the strongest of the year and should take care of Darebin, but the Dogs cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 18 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Port Melbourne will look to continue its winning streak up against Carlton at ETU Stadium, with Cleo Saxon-Jones named at full-back this week. Up the opposite end is Sabrina Frederick who slotted two goals on debut against Western Bulldogs last week, and will look to provide the smalls of NAB League-listed talents Kate Adams and Taylah Morton in there, whilst Mel Kuys through the midfield is a crucial player. Ex-Carlton talent Bridie Kennedy is back into the side to take on her former team, while Pip Peschke and Courteney Bromage are other key midfielders to watch. Carlton has got a solid contingent of AFL Women’s talent in the team, with Serena Gibbs, Courtney Jones and Winnie Laing all named inside 50, while Charlotte Hammans and Maddy Guerin are up the other end. Akayla Peterson has been named in the back pocket in the opposite side to Ally Bild in a strong last line, while over-age talent Amber Micallef and ex-Northern Knights speedster Marnie Jarvis are also in the side, named on the bench. Port Melbourne should have too much about them at home, but the Borough will be wary of a Blues outfit wanting to lift their efforts from last round when they went goalless against the Magpies at Victoria Park.

2021 VFLW Round 6 wrap: Falcons break winless drought

ALL teams in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition have now recorded a victory in season 2021, after Darebin Falcons defeated North Melbourne at Arden Street by 12 points on Saturday. The victory meant the Falcons joined both Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs on one win, as as other bottom six sides Williamstown and the Kangaroos also suffered defeats.

At the other end of the ladder, Collingwood had a huge defensive effort in the wet against Carlton to knock the Blues out of the top six, whilst Port Melbourne, Essendon and Geelong all celebrated wins, the latter in a tight victory holding on against Casey Demons at Casey fields to leap frog the Demons into fourth spot.

HAWTHORN 0.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.10 (16)
ESSENDON 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 4.5 (29)

Picking themselves off the canvas after skipper Georgia Nanscawen‘s injury left them without a star midfielder, Essendon ground out a win at Box Hill City Oval against Hawthorn by 13 points. The Bombers started the stronger of the two sides thanks to a goal from Mia-Rae Clifford, but it was Hawthorn who managed to put all the scores on the board over the next two terms. The home team could not capitalise through the big sticks, with only Eloise Chaston‘s second quarter major the sole six-pointer. It meant the Hawks led by five points at the final break, but a flurry of three goals in the final term saw the Bombers overrun the Hawks and sit pretty in third spot.

Despite Nanscawen going down, it was the field tackling of Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper (22 tackles apiece) who provided the grunt work, and Lori Stepnell, Eloise Gardner and Cecilia McIntosh who held up in the overcast conditions. Hawthorn had plenty of chances, with Eastern Ranges duo, Isabel Khoury (22 disposals, seven tackles) and Eloise Chaston (14 disposals, three marks, 1.3) lively, with the pair kicking 1.5 of the Hawks’ 1.10 score between them. Jess Grace shared the ruck work with Kate Dudley and Tamara Luke, while Gold Coast Suns’ Georgia Bevan teamed up with her ex-Crows coach Bec Goddard to have an impact for the team in a losing side.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: E. Chaston.
Essendon: M. Clifford 2, N. MacDonald, F. Frew.

BEST:

Hawthorn: T. Luke, E. Chaston, I. Khoury, N. Garner, N. von Bertouch, G. Bevan
Essendon: L. Stepnell, E. Gardner, C. McIntosh, A. Morcom, E. Ashley-Cooper, S. Nalder

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 5.5 (35)
WILLIAMSTOWN 3.0 | 3.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 (25)

Having their work cut out for them early, and forced to come from behind, the Southern Saints also had a strong final term to boot the only two goals of the last term to run over the top of a gallant Williamstown at Trevor Barker Oval. The Seagulls burst out of the blocks in the first half, with three goals kicked in 13 minutes to lead by 12 at the first break, before the home team clawed their way back into it. Tayla Kearns‘ second goal five minutes into the third term put the Saints back up, before Lauren Gooden responded nine minutes later with her own second major to regain the lead at the final break for the Seagulls. Back-to-back goals to the Saints through Tara Bohanna and Gabi De Angelis in the final term saw the home team come from behind and secure the win in front of home fans.

Bohanna was sensation across the forward half with a goal and 13 hitouts from 22 disposals, whilst it was the defensive strength of Jacqui Vogt (11 tackles, 17 disposals), and class in front of goal from De Angelis (14 disposals, five tackles, 2.2) that stood out. Rebecca Neaves and Kearns also stood out, while Ebony Nixon and AFL Women’s Saint, Alice Burke found plenty of it. For the Seagulls, Megan Williamson was again the top-ball winner with 20 touches, whilst it was Ruby Tripodi (16 disposals, three tackles), Scarlett Dunell (19 disposals, four tackles) and Aimee Whelan (19 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) who supported the team strongly.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Kearns 2, G. De Angelis 2, T. Bohanna.
Williamstown: L. Gooden 2, E. Fox, A. Whelan.

BEST:

Southern Saints: J. Vogt, R. Neaves, M. Capsalis, G. De Angelis, T. Kearns, G. McLean
Williamstown: R. Tripodi, E. Straford, L. Gooden, L. Loughnane, P. Nash, A. Whelan

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 | 4.6 (30)
DAREBIN FALCONS 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)

A match between two bottom four sides, including a winless one, is not a match you particularly expect to keep you on the edge of your seat, but that is exactly what North Melbourne and Darebin did at Arden Street on Saturday. The teams were neck-and-neck in the first half, with the Kangaroos taking the one-point lead into half-time of the huge clash, but the Falcons, led by Stephanie Simpson (four goals) up forward, kept pressing to take a 13-point lead into the final break. Each time the Falcons kicked away with a major, the Kangaroos would answer it in the final term, but they could not bridge the gap with the Falcons getting up by 12 points in the end, 6.6 (42) to 4.6 (30).

Simpson’s four goals in a combined 10-goal game was hard to look past for the Falcons in a super effort, whilst Alice Caddy and Samara David also stood out in the win. Nicole Callinan provided the experience coming back into the side, as Victoria Blackwood was also a strong contributor to break the Falcons’ drought in season 2021. Alexia Hamilton slotted two crucial goals for the Roos in defeat, while Molly Eastman, Airlie Runnalls and Katelyn Cox were named the Roos’ best in the win, as the defence did well, but not enough to secure the four points.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: A. Hamilton 2, S. Skinner, C. Fitzgerald.
Darebin Falcons: S. Simpson 4, C. Byrne, A. Reibelt.

BEST:

North Melbourne: M. Eastman, A. Runnalls, K. Cox, M. Kiely, M. McDonald, A. Hamilton
Darebin Falcons: A. Caddy, S. David, N. Callinan, S. Simpson, V. Blackwood, M. Huta

PORT MELBOURNE 2.0 | 4.4 | 4.4 | 6.7 (43)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

Port Melbourne has continued streak to post a comfortable 35-point win over Western Bulldogs at ETU Stadium, moving to 6-0 for the season and handing the Bulldogs a fifth straight loss. The visitors were strong early, and even kept the home team at bay in the third term as the Dogs’ defence starred, but a couple of final term goals just pushed the final margin out to beyond five goals thanks to some strong efforts from Richmond-listed talents in the 6.7 (43) to 1.2 (8) victory.

Sabrina Frederick showed her strength and experience against state-level defenders with two goals from six marks and nine touches, and Emily Harley racked up 16 disposals, three marks and a goal in the win. Holly Bailey also slotted two goals, while Phillipa Peschke had a day of leather poisoning with 25 disposals to accompany her three marks, three tackles and a goal. Courteney Bromage 17 disposals, 11 tackles), Olivia Barton (19 disposals) and Elizabeth Wilson were also strong in the win. Oakleigh Chargers’ Taylah Morton had the 14 touches and three tackles on debut. For the Western Bulldogs, the return of Isabella Grant (15 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Isabelle Pritchard (14 disposals, three marks and three tackles) and Gemma Lagioia (11 disposals, four marks) added that extra run and class they were looking for, while Annabel Scott (20 disposals, six tackles) and Molly Denahy Maloney (17 disposals, six marks and 13 hitouts) also found plenty of it. GWV Rebels’ Lilli Condon was outstanding in the first half, and finished with 10 disposals, three marks and five tackles.

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 2, H. Bailey 2, P. Peschke, E. Harley.
Western Bulldogs: M. Sandral.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: E. Harley, O. Barton, E. Wilson, H. Bailey, C. Bromage, S. McNamara
Western Bulldogs: M. Denahy Maloney, A. Tessari, I. Pritchard, V. Murphy, I. Grant, L. Condon

CASEY DEMONS 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 4.6 (30)
GEELONG 1.1 | 3.1 | 5.2 | 5.2 (32)

Geelong managed to hold its nerve against a fast-finishing Casey Demons outfit at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon, getting up by two points in the contest. The returning AFL Women’s listed players hit the scoreboard early, with Carly Remmos, Darcy Moloney, Georgia Clarke and Laura Gardiner booting their first four goals of the contest, leading by 15 points at three quarter time courtesy of Madisen Maguire‘s fifth team goal. Isabella Simmons did her best in the final term to boot two fourth quarter majors, but it would not be enough as the home team fell two points short, 4.6 (30) to 5.2 (32).

Breanna Pratt led the way for the Cats with 22 disposals, nine marks and six tackles, working in tandem with in-form Theresia Meissner 20 disposals, four marks) and Paige Sheppard (19 disposals, 10 tackles). The return of Moloney (16 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Gardiner (13 disposals, 13 tackles and a goal) and Remmos (13 disposals, five tackles and a goal) was noticeable in the win. Olivia Fuller also dominated the ruck with 28 hitouts to accompany nine disposals and six tackles. For the Demons, ball-winning midfielder Eliza West racked up 23 disposals and four tackles, while Simmons’ two goals from 17 touches and five tackles was an outstanding effort from the youngster. Fellow teenagers, Megan Fitzsimon (16 disposals, nine tackles) and Mietta Kendall (14 disposals, four tackles) also had their fair share of the ball, with Shree Fairchild named best-on for the Demons with 18 disposals and nine tackles, and Meg Macdonald and Emma Humphries also strong.

GOALS:

Casey: I. Simmons 2, H. Thomas, E. Humphries
Geelong: C. Remmos, G. Clarke, D. Moloney, L. Gardiner, M. Maguire

BEST:

Casey: S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, M. Macdonald, E. Humphries, B. Winbanks, E. West
Geelong: T. Meissner, O. Fuller, D. Moloney, B. Pratt, T. Tatlock, C. Remmos

COLLINGWOOD 1.4 | 1.5 | 2.9 | 2.10 (22)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.4 (4)

Collingwood has taken care of traditional rivals Carlton to remain undefeated from six matches in the VFL Women’s competition, keeping the Blues to just four behinds in wet and windy conditions. The Victoria Park venue gave Pies fans the chance to cheer on their heroes and there was plenty to cheer as they kept Carlton scoreless from three quarters, whilst kicking the only two goals of the match. Conditions made goalkicking difficult, and it showed with a dominant 12 scoring shots to four, but a 2.10 (22) to 0.4 (4) final scoreboard.

Tricia Cowan and Mollie Emond were the only players to eventually split the big the sticks for the Magpies, as plenty of players had their chances inside 50. Caitlin Bunker was outstanding for the black and whites in the win, as Maria Neal and Amelia Velardo looked lively, and Nicola Weston was also named in the Magpies’ best on the day. It was a challenging day for any forwards, but particularly Carlton’s forwards in enemy territory, but they had a number of standout players. Akayla Peterson continued her great form in 2021 named Carlton’s best alongside the AFLW-listed Maddy Guerin. Tereza Zampaglione and Stephanie Lawrence were also strong in defeat, as the Blues moved to a 3-2 record and slipped just outside the top six, while Collingwood maintained touch with Port Melbourne at the top of the table.

GOALS:

Collingwood: T. Cowan, M. Emond.
Carlton: Nil.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Bunker, M. Neal, A. Velardo, T. Cowan, M. Emond, N. Weston
Carlton: A. Peterson, M. Guerin, T. Zampaglione, S. Lawrence, E. Honybun, J. Borg

Reserves wrap: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 5

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s returned for Round 4 on the weekend, with another six enthralling fixtures spread over Saturday and Sunday. As the season runs concurrently alongside that of the AFLW, top-flight players from Victorian clubs who miss out on senior action will be able to run out for what are effectively reserve sides in the VFLW. Round 5 saw promising elite level talent scattered across the eight aligned teams, as some players stake their claims for call-ups ahead of finals.

>> Results: VFLW Round 5 wrap

Competition for spots at Collingwood and Melbourne will continue to be tight heading into finals, after the Magpies and Casey went to battle on Saturday morning. Kristy Stratton was the standout across both sides, booting three goals in black and white after her standalone senior game last week. Meanwhile, Abbey Green marked her maiden 2021 outing with a goal. For Casey, promising ruck Maggie Caris joined Niamh McEvoy in the votes, as first year midfielder Megan Fitzsimon had one of her best performances at any level in the red and blue.

The Southern Saints celebrated a big win over Darebin on the same morning, with a couple of recently delisted Saints among the victors’ best players. Utility Tamara Luke booted a goal and earned votes for her performance, while Nadia von Bertouch continued her solid run in the twos. Both players managed five senior games in 2021.

Carlton’s newfound form yielded another set of points on Saturday afternoon, as the Blues downed Hawthorn at Princes Park. A trio of Carlton goalkickers found the big sticks, with Courtney Jones booting four majors ahead of raw talls Serena Gibbs (two) and Paige Trudgeon (one). 2020 draftee Winnie Laing also got another run in navy blue.

Two sides with some of the most promising young talent around went to battle, as Geelong comprehensively defeated the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval. Youngsters Annabel Strahan and Isabella Grant were named among the Bulldogs’ best behind Bailey Hunt, as Danielle Marshall marked her return from injury. For the Cats, Stephanie Williams was lively with two goals as the likes of Georgia Clarke and Maddie Boyd also got more game time under their belts.

Port Melbourne’s perfect run to start 2021 raged on with an 11-point win over Essendon, kicking off Sunday’s proceedings. Richmond-listed key forwards Emily Harley and Cleo Saxon-Jones were both named among the Borough’s best players and booted two goals apiece to combine for four of their side’s six majors.

The round’s final game saw North Melbourne edge standalone side Williamstown at Arden Street, with Tahni Nestor featuring in the Roos’ votes. After managing a stretch of three senior games in 2021, she is one pushing to break back into the top flight as North storms into the postseason.  

Image Credit: Jonathan Di Maggio/AFL Photos

2021 VFL Women’s Round 4 preview

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolls on into Round 4 this weekend, starting once again with a Western Bulldogs home game as they battle Williamstown at Whitten Oval on Saturday morning. Among the games of the round, Geelong and Port Melbourne do battle in a top four clash, while Casey and Southern Saints look to climb the rankings. We take you through all the key players and factors across each game in our weekend preview.

Western Bulldogs (7th, 1-2) vs. Williamstown (11th, 1-2)
Saturday March 20, 11:00am
Whitten Oval

Western Bulldogs and Williamstown will both look to shake off losing records when they clash at Whitten Oval on Saturday morning, opening Round 4’s action. The clash also serves as the Bulldogs’ third home game in four weeks, with a second win up for grabs. Both sides come in off consecutive losses having gained points in Round 1, but will field heavily shuffled lineups.

The hosts regain a big name in vice-captain Katelyn Betts returning to the fold among at least four changes. Senior-listed players Isabella Grant and Annabel Strahan are key losses who go the other way, though an exciting inclusion in the form of ex-Richmond youngster Nekaela Butler should buoy the Bulldogs.

Williamstown will also ring the changes as a handful of players come out of last week’s side, headlined by injuries to Tahlia Merrett and Bridget Costello. The Seagulls have named Allana Dickie to return after being managed, as Asha Price slots back into the forwardline and Bridget Hanrahan looks set to feature down the other end.

Geelong (4th, 2-1) vs. Port Melbourne (1st, 3-0)
Saturday March 20, 5:00pm
Deakin University

Arguably the game of the round sees top four sides Geelong and Port Melbourne lock horns at Deakin University on Saturday evening, making for the weekend’s sole top four clash. The Borough have been outstanding in their maiden VFLW campaign, but face arguably their toughest test yet when travelling to face Geelong, a fellow aligned team often littered with young talent.

That factor is set to be no different on Saturday, as the Cats welcome back Georgia Clarke to help fill out an in-form spine which features fellow senior-listed gun Maddie Boyd up the other end. Going the other way, midfielder Laura Gardiner may find herself among the top ranks once again, while Geelong Falcons Annie Lee and Renee Tierney return to the NAB League.

The Borough will also ring a few changes to what has looked a rather settled side, with Richmond-listed youngster Sarah Sansonetti among the inclusions alongside former Carlton utility, Bridie Kennedy. In term of the outs, Murray Bushrangers product Kate Adams stint comes to an end, with goalkicker Sarah McNamara also absent.

Casey Demons (3rd, 2-1) vs. Southern Saints (6th, 1-2)
Sunday March 21, 10:30am
Casey Fields

Casey Demons will hope to protect its winning record when the Southern Saints come to town, as the two sides clash at Casey Fields on Sunday morning. The Demons made an emphatic return to the winners list last time out, but should be tested well by another aligned team in Southern Saints, who will be keen to bounce back from consecutive losses.

The reserves-like system looks to have payed off for Melbourne-listed player Chantel Emonson, who comes out of the Demons’ side after a promising performance last time out. Young tall Bridie Winbanks is the other player missing from Casey’s Round 3 squad, though midfielder Megan Fitzsimon returns for her third game at the level.

Last week’s Saints debutants, Anna Harris and Madi Southam are among the four players to make way for their team, with senior-listed youngster Jess Matin also in that group. The inclusion of Renee Saulitis should buoy the travelling side though, along with Gabby De Angelis who slots back into the forwardline – in the opposite pocket.

Carlton (10th, 1-2) vs. North Melbourne (9th, 1-2)
Sunday March 21, 10:30am
Princes Park

Carlton hosts its second consecutive game at Princes Park on Sunday when fellow 1-2 team North Melbourne arrives for battle. The Blues will also be out for back-to-back wins after opening their account last week, while the Kangaroos’ form has resembled that of a yo-yo with that sole win sitting between their two losses.

In a boost for the home side, a couple of talented young senior-listed players come into the lineup after Charlotte Hammans earned a call-up, with Maddy Guerin set to take her spot at half-back while tall prospect Serena Gibbs promises to add a scoring threat at centre-half forward. The changes see a total of six senior Blues line up in the reserve squad.

North will also benefit from some handy inclusions this week, with Alexia and Jayde Hamilton both in line for returns. The latter will play her second game having recently suited up for the GWS Giants Academy in the NAB League. AFLW-listed forward Brooke Brown looks set to rotate through the ruck having been named there, while Western Jets product Marli Klaumanns-Moller is one of two outs.

Essendon (5th, 2-1) vs. Darebin (12th, 0-3)
Sunday March 21, 10:30am
The Hangar

Darebin’s search for its first win of the 2021 season continues on Sunday, as the Falcons take on Essendon for a morning battle at The Hangar. The travelling side has battled hard and faces a third standalone team in four weeks, while the Bombers will fancy a third victory here having won two on the trot.

With key pillars performing well, Essendon looks set to make just two changes to its winning side with Nicole Julian coming in for her first game in midfield, and Grace Dicker named on the bench for her second outing. Going the other way are Elizabeth Hosking and Elizabeth Snell, the latter of whom earned votes in her VFLW debut last week.

Darebin will have a couple of untimely absences, with the reliable Kathleen Roe and dangerous forward Hayley Munro among three players to come out of the team. In their place, Julia McArdle and Mikayla Meyer come in via the bench as Vanja Smiljanic gets her chance starting in midfield alongside skipper, Steph Simpson.

Collingwood (2nd, 3-0) vs. Hawthorn (8th, 1-2)
Sunday March 21, 11:00am
Victoria Park

Collingwood’s perfect record will once again be put on the line as the Magpies take on Hawthorn at Victoria Park on Sunday morning, rounding out the weekend’s action. This clash marks the home side’s first meeting with a non-aligned club, while the Hawks take on their second aligned team after suffering a second loss last time out.

The Pies’ creative stocks will take a bit of a hit as tall Bella Smith comes out of the side with Imogen Barnett, as well as fellow senior-listed players in Sarah Rowe and Kristy Stratton. Another AFLW Magpie, Abbi Moloney swoops back down to the level to bolster the forwardline, with Maddy Shevlin also in among the four changes.

Hawthorn will make at least three swaps to its Round 3 lineup, with talented Territorian Dominique Carbone among them. She returns home to play for local team, Darwin in the NTFLW grand final. Jemma Owen is out through injury, with Jenna Richardson and Katie Angelis given the opportunity to make their debuts in brown and gold.

2021 VFL Women’s Round 3 preview

THE 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season rolls on into Round 3 this weekend, starting tonight as the Western Bulldogs host Collingwood in a Friday night showcase. Elsewhere, traditional rivals Port Melbourne and Williamstown face off in a historic fixture, while Carlton and Darebin will battle in a clash of the winless sides. We take you through all the key players and factors across each game in our weekend preview.

Western Bulldogs vs. Collingwood
Friday March 12, 8:00pm
Whitten Oval

Round 3 gets underway on Friday night as the Western Bulldogs host Collingwood under the Whitten Oval lights, with the visitors keen to remain unbeaten. A 2-0 start for the Magpies, who remain reigning premiers, has sent a statement to the competition, while the Bulldogs have seen both sides of the coin in 2021 at 1-1.

AFLW talent continues to flow through the grade, as both sides look set to welcome elite level players this week. The Bulldogs will field Bailey Hunt among its three changes, but see hot starter Britney Gutknecht and Nell Morris-Dalton come out of the team. Young pups have serviced the red, white and blue well, though vice-captain Katelyn Betts looms as a big out.

Sarah Rowe is Collingwood’s most significant inclusion as she returns to action, with the Irishwoman named in her usual half-forward post. On the other hand, fellow senior-listed Magpie Maddie Shevlin comes out of the side having impressed in the two games thus far. Collingwood’s forwardline should make for exciting viewing, with Rowe joined by Imogen Barnett and Matilda Zander inside 50.

Essendon vs. Hawthorn
Saturday March 13, 11:00am
The Hangar

Two Round 2 victors with some momentum behind them in Essendon and Hawthorn do battle at The Hangar, kick-starting a string of five Saturday fixtures. Both sides are standalone entities and got on the board last week after opening round losses, making this clash between traditional rivals an intriguing one based on form alone.

Essendon looks poised to make three changes, with Simone Nalder coming in for her first game in the ruck, while Elizabeth Hosking returns to her half-forward spot in the famous sash. Bendigo Pioneers product Elizabeth Snell has also been named, a reward for her promising NAB League form so far in 2021.

The magnets are also shuffling at Hawthorn, as the brown and gold side prepares to make four changes. A trio of Eastern Ranges prospects exit after debuting in Round 2, with the likes of Dominique Carbone and Alexandra Cuss set to make their returns to the starting lineup. This could prove to be one of the closest games of the weekend.

Casey Demons vs. North Melbourne
Saturday March 13, 1:30pm
Casey Fields

Two sides sitting on 1-1 records will look to break into the black as Casey Demons and North Melbourne lock horns at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon. The Demons were mighty impressive in Round 1 but suffered their first loss last week, while North’s form has proven the opposite thus far as the Roos picked up their first win last time out.

Melbourne-listed tall Meg Downie looks set to return to action as she comes into the Casey lineup, joining fellow AFLW squad member Chantel Emonson in the side. The latter is poised to replace first year player Megan Fitzsimon, who has put her hand up for a senior recall in recent weeks.

North has been dealt an injury blow with last week’s three-goal hero Alice O’Loughlin set to miss, along with some key talent in the form of Brooke Brown, Alexia Hamilton, and Jayde Hamilton. The Roos still have some in-form talent to lean on, but may find the going tough against a Casey side which will be eager to bounce back quickly.

Geelong vs. Southern Saints
Saturday March 13, 2:00pm
Deakin University

Geelong will hold yet another home game this weekend, set to welcome the Southern Saints to Deakin University on Saturday afternoon. Both sides currently hold 1-1 records but found differing fortunes last time out; with the Cats picking up their first win in 2021 while the Saints went down in somewhat of an upset loss.

The hosts will again ring about the changes, with young talent coming in and out of the side. Georgia Clarke is a key out as she looks to be rewarded for promising form, while senior-listed midfielder Laura Gardiner falls back down to VFLW level this week. Geelong Falcons products Annie Lee and Renee Tierney will line up at opposite end of the ground, having staked their claims at NAB League level.

Southern Saints will have a raft of changes as well, with at least five impacting last week’s lineup. Senior-listed youngsters Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis are out alongside the injured Rebecca Ott, though Claudia Whitfort and Jess Matin are among the seven names included this time around. Whichever side can settle quicker will set themselves up for a positive outing.

Port Melbourne vs. Williamstown
Saturday March 13, 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Traditional rivals Port Melbourne and Williamstown go to battle in a historic clash on Saturday afternoon, which marks their first ever VFL Women’s meeting. The Borough has proven a competition benchmark in its inaugural season, picking up two wins before its highly anticipated homecoming. Williamstown did just enough to win in Round 1, but comes in off a heavy loss last week.

A rotation of Richmond-listed players could prove significant for Port, with impressive youngsters Sarah Sansonetti and Laura McClelland major exclusions given their recent form. Phoebe Monahan is a big name set to come the other way though, along with versatile tall Cleo Saxon-Jones, who will suit up for her first game in 2021. Meanwhile, Williamstown will make two changes among what seems a settled side.

Carlton vs. Darebin
Saturday March 13, 2:00pm
Princes Park

A battle of the competition’s two winless teams in Carlton and Darebin is set to go down on Saturday afternoon, as the Blues return home to Princes Park. Things have not been easy for either side, with the hosts suffering dual losses and struggling in transition, while the Falcons have been competitive in patches without the end result to show for it.

For the second week running, Carlton will be boosted by some returning senior-listed talent, headed by the speedy Brooke Walker. She slots in on the bench, while Winnie Laing is back after a week away and Brooke Vernon is a handy inclusion to the defence. Courtney Jones is another to watch after her promising preseason performances, named at half-forward. Darebin is also set to make at least three changes, as it searches for the winning formula.

Reserves wrap: 2021 VFL Women’s – Round 2

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s returned for Round 2 on the weekend, with another six enthralling fixtures spread over Saturday and Sunday. As the season runs concurrently alongside that of the AFLW, top-flight players from Victorian clubs who miss out on senior action will be able to run out for what are effectively reserves or sides in the VFLW. Round 2 saw promising elite level talent scattered across the eight aligned teams, with players immediately staking claims for call-ups.

>> Results: VFLW Round 2 wrap

Geelong may have narrowly gone down in Round 1, but saw some impressive young performers earn senior call-ups to shuffle the Cats’ latest lineup. First year forward Stephanie Williams found some scoring form with two majors as the game’s lone multiple goalkicker, while Georgia Clarke also hit the scoreboard and was productive with ball in hand. Maddie Boyd was another to impress, taking on some unexpected ruck duties and holding her own.

In the weekend’s first all-aligned clash, Collingwood went two from two with a 22-point win over the Southern Saints at Victoria Park. Amelia Velardo showed vast signs of her development as she thrived in a new role off half-back for the Magpies, while Maddie Shevlin continues to press for her first senior game in 2021. Tall Bella Smith again found the goals and Kristy Stratton was combative in midfield.

Alice Burke was another to push her case for a second chance at senior level this season, contributing some typically hard work in the engine room for the Saints. Fellow first year Saint Renee Saulitis kicked a goal as she dropped down to state league level, while mature-age recruit Rebecca Ott suffered a leg injury in the first half.

In Casey’s loss to Essendon on Saturday, 2020 Melbourne draftee Maggie Caris was impressive for the Demons. She earned votes for the second week running for her role in the ruck, though the Dees’ senior tall stocks will be difficult to crack. Fellow first year player Megan Fitzsimon booted a goal rotating forward through midfield, while Mietta Kendall proved lively up the other end of the ground.

North Melbourne notched its maiden VFLW win since breaking from the Melbourne Uni Blues mould, defeating the Western Bulldogs by 21 points at Whitten Oval. Young Roos prospect Alice O’Loughlin snagged three goals to account for nearly half of her side’s score, as the likes of Katelyn Cox and Bethany Lynch earned votes for their efforts in midfield.

Britney Gutknecht was again terrific for the Bulldogs despite the result not going their way, as fellow Northern Knights graduate Nell Morris-Dalton was the lone senior-listed pup to hit the scoreboard. A bunch of up-and-coming Bulldogs are working towards call-ups, including father-daughter recruit Isabella Grant and Amelia van Oosterwijck.

The final game of the round saw league newcomer, Port Melbourne continue its perfect start to VFLW life with a 44-point win over Carlton. Richmond-listed forward Emily Harley was dominant early and booted two majors in a physical display, with fellow Tigers Luka Lesosky-Hay and Sarah Sansonetti kicking goals, too. Laura McClelland was also superb for the Borough.

Experienced defender Jess Edwards dropped down to the reserves level to good effect for Carlton, initially as part of an besieged defence and eventually through midfield. She was the lone senior-listed Blue to feature in the votes, while Winnie Laing was a late out and instead ran laps.

2021 VFLW Round 2 wrap: Borough, Magpies go 2-0

ROUND 2 of the 2021 Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season saw Port Melbourne and Collingwood move to 2-0, while four teams registered their first wins of the new campaign. Six fixtures were again stretched evenly across two days, with a double-header at La Trobe University rounding out what was an entertaining weekend of state league football. We recap all the action in our weekly wrap.

GEELONG 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.6 | 7.10 (52)
WILLIAMSTOWN 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 (12)

Geelong picked up its first win of the 2021 season via a 40-point thumping of Williamstown at Deakin University on Saturday afternoon, spelling a resounding start to Round 2. The Cats led at every break and kept the Seagulls scoreless in terms two and three, all while pouring on a handy score of their own. In then end, it was a 7.10 (52) to 2.0 (12) scoreline which put Geelong into third spot on the ladder.

Senior-listed Cats Stephanie Williams (two goals) and Georgia Clarke (one) both found the big sticks, but it was Claudia Gunjaca who earned plaudits as the victors’ best player afield. The likes of Breanna Pratt, Paige Sheppard, and Theresia Meissner were also productive for the second week running.

It was no surprise to see Erin Meade again feature among Williamstown’s most impactful performers, joined in the votes again by Aimee Whelan and Lana King while young forward Tahlia Merrett showed promise in her first outing for the year. Ashlea Melnikas and Sasha Long finished as the Seagulls’ lone goalkickers.

GOALS:

Geelong: S. Williams 2, J. Woollett, S. Elsworthy, G. Clarke, M. Fedele, C. Gunjaca
Williamstown: A. Melnikas, S. Long

BEST:

Geelong: C. Gunjaca, G. Clarke, B. Pratt, P. Sheppard, T. Meissner, T. Smith
Williamstown: E. Meade, A. Whelan, T. Merrett, L. King, C. Leighton

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 2.3 | 6.3 | 7.4 (46)
SOUTHERN SAINTS 0.3 | 0.3 | 0.5 | 3.6 (24)

Collingwood collected its second win of the season on Saturday, this time in much more convincing fashion with a 22-point triumph over the Southern Saints at Victoria Park. The Magpies piled on the first six goals of the game across three terms, all while keeping the Saints goalless in that time. Consolation goals did little to meaningfully cut into the margin, as Collingwood saluted 7.4 (46) to 3.6 (24) on home turf.

The Magpies had seven individual goalkickers in a terrific team performance, with the likes of Matilda Zander and Caitlin Bunker notching goals and votes for the winners. Mollie Edmond and Jasmine Ferguson were among those to lead Collingwood’s charge, while AFLW-listed youngster Amelia Velardo thrived in a role off half-back.

Hannah Stuart earned plaudits for her role in the Southern Saints’ effort, finishing as one of just three Saints goalkickers. Tara Bohanna also found the big sticks and play her part, with Melanie Bertuna another to impress in a Southern side which was missing some key elite level talent from last week’s winning lineup.

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Zander, K. Colborne-Veel, K. Stratton, B. Smith, I. Barnett, C. Bunker, S. King
Southern Saints: T. Bohanna, R. Saulitis, H. Stuart

BEST:

Collingwood: M. Emond, J. Ferguson, M. Zander, M. Neal, A. Velardo, C. Bunker
Southern Saints: H. Stuart, M. Bertuna, A. Curley, G. De Angelis, T. Bohanna, K. Ripari

CASEY DEMONS 0.0 | 1.4 | 2.4 | 3.4 (22)
ESSENDON 1.3 | 2.4 | 3.7 | 4.7 (31)

Essendon led at every break but was made to earn its nine-point victory over Casey Demons on Saturday afternoon, coming out on top for its first win in 2021. The Bombers bossed the opening term with four scoring shots as the Demons remained scoreless, before steadily adding just enough to their total thereafter to keep Casey at bay. Ultimately, the Casey Fields scoreboard read 4.7 (31) to 3.4 (22) in favour of Essendon, an important win for the standalone side.

Alexandra Morcom and Cecilia McIntosh backed up strong opening round performances with important contributions for Essendon, who had four individual goalkickers. Mia-Rae Clifford was among them, as well as former Calder Cannons pair Alana Barba and Felicity Theodore.

Casey was led by the efforts of Emma Horne in the defeat, while Melbourne-listed ruck Maggie Caris continues to push her case for senior selection. Fellow AFLW youngster Megan Fitzsimon found the goals for Casey as she rotated forward, while Eliza West also snared a major.

GOALS:

Casey: M. Fitzsimon, E. West, I. Milford
Essendon: M. Clifford, F. Frew, A. Barba, F. Theodore

BEST:

Casey: E. Horne, M. Caris, E. West, T. Fellows, H. Thomas, C. Conroy
Essendon: A. Morcom, J. Davies, L. Stepnell, E. Mackay, T. Crook, C. McIntosh

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 5.7 (37)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.4 | 2.4 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)

North Melbourne lifted after half time to overcome the Western Bulldogs at Arden Street Oval on Sunday morning, coming from behind to win by 21 points. The Bulldogs led narrowly at the first two breaks before North clicked into gear, keeping the visitors scoreless after the main break while adding three goals of their own to run away 5.7 (37) to 2.4 (16) victors.

First year AFLW Kangaroo Alice O’Loughlin pushed her case for a senior recall with three goals, accounting for nearly half of North’s score. She was joined by Sarah Skinner and former Richmond player Ciara Fitzgerald in the goals, as Meagan Kiely and Bethany Lynch also played large parts in the win.

Simone Ruedin, Amanda Tessari, and Nicole McMahon were among the VFLW-listed Bulldogs to be credited for their efforts. Britney Gutknecht was again terrific through midfield alongside a couple of her side’s leaders, and Nell Morris-Dalton again goaled to be one of just two major scorers in the red, white, and blue.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: A. O’Loughlin 3, S. Skinner, C. Fitzgerald
Western Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton, M. Chadwick

BEST:

North Melbourne: M. Kiely, B. Lynch, A. O’Loughlin, J. Mourney, K. Cox, M. Eastman
Western Bulldogs: S. Ruedin, A. Tessari, N. McMahon, B. Gutknecht, K. Betts, R. Christgoergl

DAREBIN 2.3 | 2.3 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
HAWTHORN 2.0 | 5.3 | 6.5 | 7.7 (49)

The weekend’s sole battle between two standalone sides saw Hawthorn come up trumps over Darebin, reigning victorious to the tune of 23 points at La Trobe University, Bundoora. Both sides brought the heat early as Darebin led at the first break, but the Falcons’ ascendancy proved short-lived as Hawthorn shifted up the gears to post five goals to one thereafter. In the end, it resulted in Bec Goddard‘s first win as Hawthorn head coach, reading 7.7 (49) to 3.8 (26) on the scoreboard.

Jessie Williams set the game alight with four goals in the brown and gold, proving too hot to handle inside 50 as she snapped up multiple opportunities. Veteran defender Meg Hutchins was typically assured down back alongside Lauren Szigeti, who also rotated through midfield. Among the other Hawks to impress, Jemma Owen again found the goals and showed promise.

For Darebin, Gena Lawson-Tavan played an important role down back, while skipper Steph Simpson did her best to spark her side from midfield before rotating inside attacking 50. Kathleen Roe also swung forward and found a goal, with Alyssa Mifsud the Falcons’ only other goalkicker on the day and Sidney Cubasch again impressive.

GOALS:

Darebin: K. Roe, A. Mifsud, S. David
Hawthorn: J. Williams 4, A. Vine, L. Szigeti, J. Owen

BEST:

Darebin: S. Simpson, S. Cubasch, S. Lynch, A. Reibelt, V. Smiljanic, P. Kearney
Hawthorn: J. Williams, M. Hutchins, N. Cormack, E. Gilder, J. Owen, L. Szigeti

CARLTON 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.3 | 2.3 (15)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.3 | 5.5 | 9.5 (59)

Port Melbourne made it two wins from two games in its inaugural VFLW campaign, thumping Carlton by 44 points at La Trobe University on Sunday to round out the weekend’s proceedings. The Borough built a steady 14-point buffer at half time as Carlton struggled to transition out of its own half, before piling on six goals to one after the main break and running out 9.5 (59) to 2.3 (15) winners.

Young Port forward Sophie Locke was excellent inside 50 and snared three goals in a lively outing, while Emily Harley bagged two and provided great physicality. Holly Bailey was named her side’s best player in the win, in front of the likes of Pip Peschke and Ellie Macdonald as the Borough set up well and locked the ball in their half for much of the contest.

Naturally, many of Carlton’s most prolific performers were stationed in defence, with Jessie Coletti recognised for her outstanding outing alongside leaders Ally Bild and Jen Lew. Senior-listed Blue Jess Edwards was also important back there, while fresh import Akayla Peterson was also impressive and finished as one of two Carlton goalkickers.

GOALS:

Carlton: M. Wilson, A. Peterson
Port Melbourne: S. Locke 3, E. Harley 2, L. Lesosky-Hay, S. Sansonetti, C. Dyett, P. Peschke

BEST:

Carlton: J. Coletti, J. Lew, J. Edwards, A. Peterson, M. Wilson, A. Bild
Port Melbourne: H. Bailey, P. Peschke, S. Locke, E. Macdonald, L. McClelland, A. Tanner