Tag: Meghan McDonald

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: GWS creates GIANT divide to bottom five sides

GWS GIANTS have won their fourth game of the season to sit eight points clear of the bottom five sides, albeit with some Sunday fixtures to come. The GIANTS won in a low-scoring arm-wrestle against Geelong, which saw just one goal kicked after quarter time, and none in the second half, to secure a seven-point victory at GMHBA Stadium. The 2.4 (16) to 1.3 (9) victory was a hard-fought one, but the battle of defences held up well with the game primarily a battle between the arcs.

Haneen Zreika was on the board early with a goal just four minutes into the match to give the GIANTS an early advantage. This was quickly countered within three minutes from Cats key forward Phoebe McWilliams, in what was shaping to be a potential high-scoring contest. However across the next 65 minutes, just one goal was kicked, coming off the boot of reliable goalkicker Cora Staunton in the second minute of the second quarter. That goal quickly split the difference between the sides that had been level with 1.1 apiece at the first break.

Staunton’s goal put the Giants up by six, with a Darcy Moloney behind four minutes later cutting the half-time deficit to five. Neither team could manage to break the deadlock from there, with the GIANTS adding three points to their total in the third term, and then the Cats returning the serve in the final quarter with a solitary behind through Richelle Cranson for the match to end seven points to the favour of the visiting GIANTS team.

It was an even match across the board, with contest after contest, and the Cats marginally ahead by seven in disposals (207-200), with both teams managing the seven shots on goal, with the GIANTS having one more inside 50 entry (24-23) in another low count. It further emphasised the battle between the arcs, with the teams almost identical in both contested and uncontested possessions, while the Cats took six more contested marks (10-4) despite having 10 less overall marks (35-45). The GIANTS certainly had more opportunities for goals with eight of those 45 marks inside 50, to the Cats’ two, whilst the forward pressure and around the ground was in the Cats’ favour with 68 tackles to 54, of which the forward 50 tackles went 13-12 in the blue hoops’ favour.

The GIANTS dominated the hitouts 36-12, with the clearances being relatively even, though marginally in the GIANTS favour, 23-20. This was helped by the performance of Erin McKinnon (21 hitouts) and Jess Allan (11 hitouts) who took control across the ground. Through the midfield, the in-form Alyce Parker dominated with a match-high 25 disposals, as well as five marks, four tackles, five inside 50s and two rebound 50s, also drawing five free kicks for her efforts. The usual suspects in Elle Bennetts (18 disposals, three marks, three tackles and two rebound 50s), Alicia Eva (18 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Rebecca Beeson (15 disposals, two tackles and two inside 50s) were again prominent.

For the Cats, Amy McDonald recorded the most disposals with 21, as well as a whopping 11 tackles, and four inside 50s, while her namesake in Meghan McDonald was not far behind with 19 disposals, six marks, two tackles and six rebound 50s. Julia Crockett-Grills (17 disposals, three marks, seven tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s) and first-year player Laura Gardiner (17 disposals, 11 tackles and two rebound 50s) were also productive in the loss. Rebecca Webster (14 disposals, four marks and three rebound 50s) and McWilliams (12 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s) were others who aided in the Cats remaining in the hunt at respective ends of the field.

GEELONG 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.3 (9)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.4 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Geelong: P. McWilliams.
GWS: H. Zreika, C. Staunton.

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, M. McDonald, L. Gardiner, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Webster
GWS: A. Parker, A. Eva, E. Bennetts, E. McKinnon, R. Beeson

Picture credit: via GWS GIANTS website

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

MAGPIES SWOOP PAST SAINTS AND BACK ONTO THE WINNERS LIST

COLLINGWOOD emphatically returned to the winners list on Saturday with a 47-point victory over St Kilda at Victoria Park, solidifying the Magpies’ top two status. A hot start from the home side set an ominous tone, with the Magpies leading at every break and keeping the Saints goalless for two terms across the 8.11 (59) to 2.1 (13) thumping.

It was pure domination from Collingwood, who the early bossed possession and restricted eight Saints players to a grand total of zero touches to quarter time. Meanwhile, Aliesha Newman enjoyed an electric start in black and white with two goals in the first few minutes, though her side spread the scoring well over four quarters despite some greater St Kilda resistance.

Georgia Patrikios proved one of the lone four quarter performers in St Kilda’s tri-colours, leading the charge alongside fellow young gun Tyanna Smith as a heap of more senior players were kept below their usual standards. The Saints now sit 12th with two wins on the board, as Collingwood’s minor premiership tilt heats up.

Newman finished with three majors as the game’s most damaging goalkicker, while Chloe Molloy bagged a double for the winners. Brittany Bonnici led all comers with an equal game-high 29 disposals, with other usual suspects in Bri Davey and Jaimee Lambert also finding plenty of ball. Ruby Schleicher was again outstanding in defence, as Sarah Rowe made a successful return to senior action.

Patrikios also notched 29 touches as the Saint’s best player afield, with Molly McDonald overcoming her slow start to also fare well in the losing team. Smith was another solid performer in black, white and red, as were the likes of Hannah Priest and Rosie Dillon. The Saints may fancy a rebound win as they take on West Coast next week, while Collingwood faces Adelaide in a high stakes battle.

COLLINGWOOD 3.3 | 4.6 | 6.1 | 8.11 (59)
ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.1 (13)

GOALS:

Collingwood: M. Newman 3, C. Molloy 2, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Lin
St Kilda: J. Matin, J. Vogt

DC BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Lambert, B. Bonnici, R. Schleicher, M. Newman
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, T. Smith, H. Priest, R. Dillon

Image Credit: Jono Searle/AFL Photos

LIONS ROAR TO HISTORIC GABBA WIN

BRISBANE claimed its first ever victory on the Gabba turf, overcoming North Melbourne by 15 points on Saturday afternoon to make it four wins on the trot. The Lions were marginally behind at the first break but fought ahead thereafter, booting two goals in the third term and sealing it in the fourth to take out an important 4.11 (35) to 2.8 (20) result.

The Lions looked happy to be back home despite the wet conditions and some inaccuracy in front of goal, marching on towards a potential top two finish with a terrific pressure game and structural solidity. While North held on for much of the day and was within striking distance, an eye-catching Courtney Hodder goal sealed victory for Brisbane in the final term.

Hodder was among the six single goalkickers for the day, as the likes of Isabel Dawes and Emily Bates excelled for the victors. Experienced heads in Kate Lutkins and Emma Zielke played important roles across the defensive half, while Orla O’Dwyer again proved lively up the other end.

North Melbourne’s typical brigade of ball winners again went to work, with Jenna Bruton (26 disposals) leading all comers as Ash Riddell, Jess Duffin, and Emma Kearney all also ticked over 20 touches apiece. Their ball winning prowess counted for little in the grander result, as North was kept relatively quiet inside forward 50.

BRISBANE 1.2 | 1.8 | 3.9 | 4.11 (35) 
NORTH MELBOURNE 1.3 | 1.4 | 2.5 | 2.8 (20)

GOALS
Brisbane: D. Davidson, J. Wuetschner, S. Conway, C. Hodder.
North Melbourne: Abbatangelo, Bateman.

BEST 
Brisbane: I. Dawes, K. Lutkins, E. Zielke, E. Bates, O. O’Dwyer
North Melbourne: J. Bruton, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, J. Duffin

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Blues keep touch with top six

CARLTON made an emphatic return to the winners list on Sunday, feasting on a winless Geelong side to salute by 33 points at Princes Park. The Blues were in a scoring mood and proved efficient in front of goal, leading at every break and notching their highest total of the season to run out 10.4 (64) to 4.7 (31) victors. The win also sees Carlton keep touch with the top six.

Geelong booted the first goal of the game through Rebecca Webster, but a quick Darcy Vescio double from deep ensured the Blues would claim the lead and never look back. Along with Vescio, Georgia Gee and Serena Gibbs also finished with two goals as the trio accounted for over half of their side’s score.

Reigning league best and fairest Madison Prespakis shook off an early injury concern to lead all comers on the day, finishing with 28 disposals and a goal on her return from suspension. Both sides have some lingering injury issues coming out of the game though, with Carlton’s Mimi Hill (knee) and Geelong’s Millie Brown (hamstring) having their outings cut short.

Prespakis and Vescio were among Carlton’s best, while skipper Kerryn Harrington proved adventurous from half-back and Grace Egan continued her fine form through midfield. Both collected over 20 disposals. Webster proved Geelong’s best afield with 1.2 from her 22 touches, as Amy and Meghan McDonald again played important roles, and Phoebe McWilliams looked lively for her three minor scores.

Both sides face a seven-day turnaround as they again prepare for games on Sunday, with the Blues again hosting at Princes Park as Fremantle rolls into town, while Geelong travels to take on the West Coast Eagles at Mineral Resources Park.

CARLTON 4.0 | 6.1 | 8.3 | 10.4 (64)
GEELONG 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 4.7 (31)

GOALS:

Carlton: S. Gibbs 2, D. Vescio 2, G. Gee 2, N. Stevens, G. Pound, M. Prespakis, N. Plane
Geelong: R. Webster, O. Barber, R. Cranston, D. Higgins

DC BEST

Carlton: M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, G. Egan, K. Harrington, E. O’Dea, A. McKay
Geelong: 
R. Webster, A. McDonald, M.McDonald, P. McWilliams, J. Crockett-Gills

Image Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

MAGPIES’ SECOND HALF SWOOP SINKS BULLDOGS

COLLINGWOOD kept its perfect record intact and snapped the Western Bulldogs’ win streak in one fell swoop on Sunday, defeating the Dogs by 36 points at Victoria Park. Having only managed seven behinds in the first half, the Pies sunk as many goals thereafter to remain top of the tree with a comprehensive 7.9 (51) to 2.3 (15) triumph.

Young pup Elizabeth Georgostathis booted the sole major in a one-goal first half, before the contest began to open up and Collingwood soared ahead. The Magpies’ superior spread and daring ball use began to pay dividends as the inexperienced Bulldogs fell away under pressure, making for a match befitting of the old ‘game of two halves’ cliche.

Pies fans were treated to some nostalgia as father-daughter selection Tarni Brown launched a terrific goal at Collingwood’s spiritual home, before finishing with 15 disposals and four marks. Bri Davey was excellent with 28 touches and a goal, while Brittany Bonnici was Collingwood’s other key ball winner. Chloe Molloy again proved lively inside 50, booting two goals alongside debutant Abbi Moloney.

Hardened Bulldogs Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb shouldered a heap of responsibility in the midfield battle, but could not quite spark the rest of their side going forward. Ashleigh Guest was strong in defence with five marks among her 16 touches, while Isabelle Pritchard was afforded some midfield time on debut and spearhead Isabel Huntington was kept goalless for the first time this season.

The ladder leading Magpies take on Brisbane next time out in what should be a blockbuster on the road, while the Western Bulldogs are set for another tough test when they lock horns with North Melbourne in Tasmania.

COLLINGWOOD 0.5 | 0.7 | 4.8 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.3 (15)   

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 2, A. Moloney 2, S. Layton, B. Davey, T. Brown
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, J. Fitzgerald

BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, B. Bonnici, C. Molloy, T. Brown, S. Livingstone
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, A. Guest, B. Lochland, J. Fitzgerald

Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

DOCKERS ROMP RIVALS IN REBOUND WIN

FREMANTLE has rebounded from last week’s loss in style, thumping local rival West Coast by 67 points on Sunday to return to the winners list. A 34-point lead was established by half time and the Dockers never looked back, restricting West Coast to just one goal while piling on the second-highest total in AFLW history to come away 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8) victors.

Having been held to just one major of their own last time out, the Dockers regained their spark forward of centre to overwhelm the Eagles and claim a second Western Derby win in 2021. It was also the largest margin managed among these two sides’ three meetings, and an especially far cry from the nine-point thriller in Round 2.

Kiara Bowers claimed another Western Derby medal as best afield, collecting 24 disposals as the leader of her team’s dominant midfield. Gemma Houghton rocketed to equal-top of the goalkicking charts with five goals, supported wonderfully by Sabreena Duffy (three goals) and Roxy Roux (two) in a dynamic forward trio. Ebony Antonio was also prominent with 23 touches.

Aisling McCarthy was West Coast’s best, the only Eagle to tick over 20 touches as young gun Bella Lewis and Niamh Kelly (both 17) also contributed solidly in the loss. Grace Kelly booted her side’s sole goal of the game and was another to stand up despite the lop-sided scoreline.

Fremantle’s next assignment is a trip to Victoria to face Carlton at Princes Park, while West Coast will remain in its home state and host Geelong at Mineral Resources Park, perhaps fancying a second win for the season.

FREMANTLE 2.2 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 11.9 (75)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 5, S. Duffy 3, R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: G. Kelly

BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, G. Houghton, E. Antonio, S. Duffy, R. Roux, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: A. McCarthy, B. Lewis, N. Kelly, G. Kelly, M. Bowen

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Pies’ final quarter finishing too much for Cats

COLLINGWOOD made it two for two after a strong final term saw it take the four points against Geelong at Victoria Park, 6.9 (45) to 2.4 (16). It was a high pressure and hotly contested game throughout, with both teams’ backlines showing strong understanding of team structures and the opposition ball movement.

The Cats started off looking to rectify the result of Round 1, earning themselves the first goal, coming from first gamer Olivia Barber, within the first minute of the game. The opportunity came from a smother on a Ruby Schleicher kick by Richelle Cranston, setting the tone for the intensity of pressure the Cats would continue for the quarter. Schleicher would respond four minutes later, earning herself a free kick and 50-metre penalty after receiving high contact when attempting to intercept a wayward kick out of the Pies’ forward line. With both teams using the ball well and constantly looking threatening it was a quarter that saw the backlines shine.

The Cats clean ball use and preparation around stoppages ended up earning them their second goal from Madeline Boyd. The quarter ended with Collingwood’s Mikala Cann getting a back-to-back 50-metre penalties for herself and kicking a goal from the square right on the siren.

The second quarter started where the first left off, both teams maintaining the tackling pressure that was present earlier, and having their backlines set up well for any attack. Despite having majority of the early play in their forward half, the Pies were largely wasteful in the second, missing some clear cut opportunities with minor scores. The second half of the quarter saw the cats have control, constantly sieging the Pies defence who did well to not concede a goal. We wouldn’t see our first goal until the 14th minute, with Chloe Molloy kicking a brilliant snap out the back of a pack. The efforts of Brittany Bonnici, Brianna Davey, Olivia Purcell and Julia Crockett-Grills made it difficult for either team to have a clear run heading inside forward 50.

The start of the second half was a supreme defensive effort from Geelong, with Jordan Ivey, Meghan McDonald and Rebecca Webster doing everything they could to resist a relentless Pies attack. The Pies found scoring opportunities coming fairly often throughout the quarter, but were unable to capitalise only getting three minor scores for their hard work. It was Sophie Alexander getting herself involved in everything up forward, with one effort from outside of 50 being deemed a touched behind after being chased down by cats players, she also showcased her marking ability with a contested grab that, unfortunately, didn’t eventuate into a score.

With the margin just 10 points despite the Pies controlling most of the third, the Cats were still in with a chance to snatch the game away. The fourth started similar to the last three quarters, hotly contested footy, with both backlines dealing with entries without much trouble and the midfields being hot on each other, not allowing any easy disposal. The Pies got themselves the first of the quarter to extend their lead, Davey finding time in all the chaos to sneak one in. They quickly followed up, with the previous goal kicker booting the ball in long from the centre bounce, having teammate Sarah Rowe reward the effort in her return game. Collingwood’s defence didn’t get complacent despite the lead, consistently repelling Geelong attacks into the late end of the quarter, with Schleicher even using an intercept possession to set up teammate, Alexander for a late goal.

It was a strong game for Davey and with 25 disposals and a goal she’ll be happy with her impact around the ground, as well as teammate, Bonnicci with 24 disposals and nine marks.

Webster and Purcell led the way for the Cats with 18 and 17 disposals respectively, and Crockett-Grills leading all comers for tackles with six. Debutants Barber, Stephanie Williams (Geelong) and Joanna Lin (Collingwood) all had good moments throughout the match as well, showing promise for the future.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

COLLINGWOOD 2.0 | 3.4 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)
GEELONG 2.2 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. Alexander, M. Cann, B. Davey, C. Molloy, R. Schleicher, S. Rowe
Geelong: O. Barber, M. Boyd

DC BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, R. Schleicher, B. Bonnici, J. Lambert, S. Livingstone
Geelong: R. Webster, O. Purcell, A. O’Connor, J. Crockett-Grills, A. McDonald

Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

DEMONS ACCELERATE AWAY FROM TOOTHLESS TIGERS

Melbourne’s perfect start to the season continued on Saturday as the Demons accelerated away from Richmond after quarter time to win by 28 points at Casey Fields. Having booted the opening goal of the game through Sabrina Frederick, the Tigers were kept goalless until the final term as Melbourne steadily increased its advantage, running out 7.2 (44) to 2.4 (16) victors on home turf.

The Demons snuck ahead in the second term via the boot of prize draftee Alyssa Bannan, who snared her first two senior goals in as many minutes to open up a handy buffer. Melbourne’s tall timbers up forward, which included the likes of Bannan, Tegan Cunningham, and Eden Zanker, proved a handful for the Richmond defence as the Dees’ midfield began to get on top of the seemingly single-string Tigers engine room.

Two-goal blocks per term saw Melbourne built insurmountable scoreboard pressure, advancing 34-points clear before new Richmond vice-captain Sarah Hosking claimed her first major in the yellow and black. The goal came with just a couple of minutes left on the clock after the former Carlton midfielder was caught in a dangerous tackle at the top of the goalsquare.

In the end, Melbourne’s hardness at the ball and greater avenues to goal saw them through, with bouncy transition in the second half also proving telling in the result. The Demons’ victory was only soured by what looked to be a serious hamstring injury to young forward Krstel Petrevski, who limped off in the ground in the third quarter.

At the core of Melbourne’s midfield success, the centre bounce combination of Lily Mithen (20 disposals, seven tackles), Tyla Hanks (19 disposals, six tackles), and Karen Paxman (19 disposals, one goal) worked wonders in the win. All Australian Kate Hore was typically productive forward of centre, booting a game-high two goals alongside Bannan.

Monique Conti was unsurprisingly back to her best for Richmond, leading all comers with 27 touches after a touch less opposition attention than last round. 2020 number one pick Ellie McKenzie was again prominent with her explosiveness on the attack, gathering 15 disposals, while talls Frederick and Harriet Cordner dug in at either end of the ground.

The result leaves Richmond 0-2 and with plenty to do to get something out of season 2021, while Melbourne is poised beautifully at 2-0 and looks every bit the finals contender having been thereabouts for many consecutive seasons.

MELBOURNE 1.0 | 3.1 | 5.2 | 7.2 (44)
RICHMOND 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:

Melbourne: A. Bannan 2, K. Hore 2, T. Cunningham, S. Scott, K. Paxman
Richmond: S. Frederick, S. Hosking

DC BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, E. McKenzie, H. Cordner, S. Frederick
Melbourne: L. Mithen, K. Hore, T. Hanks, K. Paxman, A. Bannan, E. Zanker

2021 AFL Women’s: Round 2 preview – Pioneer Blues and Bulldogs open Pride Round

PRIDE is the theme of Round 2 in the 2021 AFL Women’s season, as the competition holds its inaugural Pride Round. The Western Bulldogs and Carlton, who have previously hosted annual Pride matches, will open the weekend’s action on Friday night as the remaining fixtures fall into place after multiple shake-ups. Remarkably, all seven games are set to go ahead in the rejigged round, with results as important as ever among the continual pandemic-produced unpredictability.

Note: All start times are local

Western Bulldogs vs. Carlton
Friday February 5, 7:45pm
Whitten Oval

Western Bulldogs and Carlton kick off Pride Round at Whitten Oval on Friday night, marking a historic and important event on the AFL Women’s calendar. Both sides remain searching for their first wins in 2021 after opening round losses, with a dreaded 0-2 start awaiting the team which goes down once again.

Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke has enacted four changes to the side which lost to St Kilda, with young pups Gemma Lagioia and Britney Gutknecht among the casualties. Carlton has been forced into just one change, as key defender Mua Laloifi misses through the updated concussion protocols and is replaced by Jess Edwards at half-back.

Laloifi’s absence may open the door for the Dogs to excel in attack, leaving Charlotte Wilson to shoulder a heap of intercept work against a forwardline spearheaded by Izzy Huntington. But the ball will have to get there first, with Carlton’s hardened midfield out to prove a point having been definitively blitzed by Collingwood in the second term last time out.

Tip: The Bulldogs are slowly finding their feet, but the Blues should come out firing after a shock loss. Wet weather will play a factor in the margin, Blues by 11.

Collingwood vs. Geelong
Saturday February 6, 3:10pm
Victoria Park

A fixture shuffle has seen Collingwood and Geelong land each other in Round 2, with football returning to the Magpies’ spiritual home of Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon. The Cats are coming off a 62-point drubbing at the hands of North Melbourne, while Collingwood opened the season with an impressive upset victory over traditional rival, Carlton, making for very contrasting formlines.

The Magpies’ midfield was excellent last time out and a new-look forwardline featuring Chloe Molloy and Bri Davey looks poised for more success in 2021. One of the Cats’ best lines is its defence though, with skipper Meghan McDonald supported well by the likes of Maddy McMahon, Amy McDonald, and Millie Brown.

Collingwood will be without recruit Aliesha Newman after she was handed a one-week ban for her sling tackle on Carlton’s Laloifi, but the Pies’ confidence should be sky high nonetheless. On the other hand, Geelong will have to quickly pick up the pieces to recover here, especially after an impotent display forward of centre in Round 1.

Tip: Collingwood looks set to be one of the big risers in 2021 and while Geelong has potential, its young side will likely work in peaks and troughs. Another trough here for the Cats, Pies by 23.

Melbourne vs. Richmond
Saturday February 6, 5:10pm
Casey Fields

Riding the wave of a Round 1 win, Melbourne hosts Richmond at Casey Fields on Saturday night looking to go two from two. Both sides took on Queensland teams last week but came out with contrasting results; as the Dees clicked into gear after quarter time to trump Gold Coast, while Richmond could only hang with Brisbane for a half before giving way in a five-goal loss.

The Lions may have uncovered a continued area of weakness for Richmond after tagging Monique Conti out of the first half, with Melbourne’s engine room typically an area of depth and prosperity. The Dees should again thrive in the midfield battle, though look for the likely tussle between first year jets Ellie McKenzie and Eliza McNamara to provide great entertainment on the outer.

Melbourne could quickly stake its claim for another finals berth should it string together some early wins, but the Tigers have shown signs of improvement and will hardly go down easily. Still searching for their maiden AFLW win, the Tigers have plenty to play for and will hope to avoid being the league’s cellar dweller for a second year running.

Tip: Melbourne looks a side determined to keep touch with the true premiership contenders, but cannot be caught lacking against the hungry Tigers. Still, the red and blue side should be too good all around the ground, Dees by 27.

North Melbourne vs. St Kilda
Sunday February 7, 1:10pm
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne will be out to build on its formidable early form, if possible, when St Kilda rolls into Arden Street Oval for their Sunday afternoon clash. The Roos set a high ceiling with their maiden 2021 performance, which yielded the greatest opening round percentage in AFL/AFLW history. St Kilda is also in winning form, though having shaken off the Western Bulldogs in Moorabbin.

It is no secret that North Melbourne bats a ridiculously deep midfield, boasting arguably the most damaging brigade of ball winners in the competition. St Kilda’s young pair of Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith will do their best to match the forward run-and-carry of North’s prime movers, especially after such promising showings last week.

North Melbourne has plenty of avenues to goal, with rotating ruck Emma King back to her scoring ways after three goals last week, while the Saints also showed they will not be entirely dependant on spearhead Caitlin Greiser to kick a winning score. Matching the Roos’ firepower will be tough, but could be manageable depending on the conditions and North Melbourne’s mood.

Tip: St Kilda will likely provide a much greater test for North and should stick with them in patches, but do not quite have the stock to go with a switched-on blue and white outfit for four quarters, Roos by 21.

Brisbane vs. Gold Coast
Sunday February 7, 2:10pm
Hickey Park

The second-ever AFL Women’s Q-Clash is set to go down on Sunday afternoon, as the Lions and Suns meet at Hickey Park having initially been poised against Victorian opponents. The makeshift fixture should provide fireworks, with last year’s inaugural all-Queensland dig ending in an enthralling draw, meaning bragging rights are well and truly up for grabs here.

Brisbane will look to replicate last year’s early run of form with a second win on the trot, while Gold Coast is still out to open its account for the season after an opening round loss to Melbourne. Both sides boast some terrific young talent, with the Lions’ Isabel Dawes fresh off a best-afield performance, and Gold Coast’s Kalinda Howarth hungry to hit the scoreboard after a goalless outing last week.

The experience is also there, headlined by Brisbane’s strong foundation crop – which may soon be bolstered by Jess Wuetschner – and opposed by Gold Coast’s new-look forwardline, which features vice-captain Sarah Perkins. Jamie Stanton and Alison Drennan will have plenty to do in midfield against the Lions’ strong ball winners, making for an intriguing clearance battle.

Tip: You can never count the fighting Suns out, especially with their youthful exuberance, but the Lions look a slight step ahead and should come away with bragging rights over their neighbours. Lions by 10.

GWS vs. Adelaide
Sunday February 7, 5:10pm
Blacktown International Sportspark

GWS is back home after a well-travelled preseason, set to host Adelaide at Blacktown International Sportspark on Sunday evening. Both teams were thrown into isolation after Round 1 and have undergone improvised solo training sessions for most of the week, which will inevitably show in how either side adjusts to the disruptions thrown their way.

Adelaide looks like quickly returning to its fearsome best in 2021, with the Crows’ many stars aligning to win big las week. Erin Phillips will hope to again take hold as she gets a clean run at it, while some added dynamism in the potential moving parts of Chelsea Randall, Ebony Marinoff, and Sarah Allan will give GWS plenty of headaches.

The Giants have showcased their fighting spirit and have the experience to give the Crows a good run here. An even five-goal loss to Fremantle in Round 1 was less than ideal on a pure results basis, but some strong contested work in the first half should put GWS in good stead to compete against top sides, like Adelaide, for periods of time.

Tip: Revenge will be in mind after GWS ended Adelaide’s finals hopes last year, and the visitors should have too much grunt going forward from midfield. Crows by 26.

Fremantle vs. West Coast
Sunday February 7, 4:15pm
Fremantle Oval

The Western Derby is on in Round 2 after last-minute confirmation of the bout came today, with Fremantle and West Coast set to lock horns in the weekend’s closing fixture. Akin to players in the Adelaide-GWS clash, both teams have been limited training-wise with just an hour of exercise permitted under Western Australia’s lockdown laws.

Freo looks every bit the powerhouse last year’s undefeated run suggested, maintaining their winning streak with a powerful Round 1 victory. West Coast looks an improved side despite falling well short of Adelaide in the end. While the Eagles managed 2.6 (18), the Dockers excelled with 8.10 (58) in their opening fixture.

That immense gap in scoring should again prove telling, with Fremantle’s dynamic and game-breaking forward movers in Gemma Houghton and Sabreena Duffy difficult to keep down, especially as Kara Antonio and Kiara Bowers move the ball forward with class from the outside and inside of midfield.

Tip: Fremantle has the early bragging rights in this rivalry and will likely continue to hold as much after Sunday’s clash. With too much going forward, Dockers by 40.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Roos romp to record-breaking opening round victory

NORTH Melbourne sent an early statement to the rest of the competition on Sunday, romping to a mammoth 62-point win over Geelong at Kardinia Park. The Roos took little time to establish their dominance as tall forward Emma King booted three majors in the opening term, setting a strong platform for the 11.5 (71) to 1.3 (9) victory. The result made for North’s largest-ever winning margin, and sets a new record for the highest Round 1 percentage in AFL/AFLW history.

The hardened Kangaroos outfit proved too big and strong both around the ball and up forward for a youthful Geelong side, seeing them accelerate in each term and form a formidable lead. Having been held scoreless for the first three terms, the Cats got on the board early in the final quarter before veteran ruck Aasta O’Connor booted her side’s lone major of the game in the dying minutes.

Along with King, second year forward/midfielder Ellie Gavalas chimed in with three majors of her own, while league best and fairest chance Jasmine Garner snared two to go with 18 disposals. Isabella Eddey had a debut to remember as she also found the big sticks, manufactured by some fearsome work from Daria Bannister as the play unfolded. Emma Kearney (22 disposals), Ash Riddell (20), and Jenna Bruton (19) were typically productive around the ball and far too polished on the attack for Geelong’s lineup to maintain.

Superfluous to say, most of Geelong’s biggest contributors were stationed in defence, with youngster Amy McDonald starting her season on the right foot with an 18-disposal effort. The 23-year-old was a cool head in Geelong’s defensive crisis, but could only do so much on the counter as the ball consistently found its way back. Skipper Meghan McDonald had a tough job on her hands among the undersized and under-siege backline but fared well, while star midfielder Olivia Purcell picked up from where she left off with 17 touches and seven tackles.

The Cats face another tough ask in travelling to face Brisbane next Sunday afternoon, as North Melbourne returns to home base to take on fellow Round 1 winner, St Kilda earlier on the same day. While one side looks every bit the premiership contender, the other will be licking its wounds after a harsh opening to season 2021.

FINAL SCORE:

GEELONG 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.3 (9)
NORTH MELBOURNE 3.0 | 5.2 | 8.4 | 11.5 (71)

GOALS:

Geelong: A. O’Connor
North Melbourne: E. King 3, E. Gavalas 3, J. Garner 2, I. Eddey, S. Abbatangelo, K. Ashmore

DC BEST:

Geelong: A. McDonald, O. Purcell, M. McDonald
North Melbourne: E. King, J. Garner, E. Kearney, E. Gavalas, J. Bruton, A. Riddell

Image Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

ROARING SECOND HALF SEES LIONS TOPPLE THE TIGERS

Brisbane opened its account for season 2021 at the first time of asking, shaking off Richmond after half time to secure a 29-point win on the road. In the first ever AFL Women’s fixture held at Punt Road Oval, the Tigers’ homecoming was spoiled by Brisbane’s three-goal to nil second half which set up the 5.11 (41) to 1.6 (12) final scoreline.

As expected on the back of its concession-aided recruitment drive, Richmond made noticeable improvements after a winless maiden campaign and was only a goal adrift at the main break. It came after Brisbane utilised the scoring end well in the opening term, gaining good early momentum through its control of the engine room and typically sturdy defensive structure in the face of Richmond’s quick ball movement.

While it was hardly a case of the floodgates being forced open, Brisbane prettied up the scoreboard nicely with a closing effort beyond the years of its young squad, all while keeping the Tigers goalless after half time. Courtney Wakefield‘s second term major from the goalsquare proved her side’s lone goal for the game, as skipper Katie Brennan could only manage a hat-trick of behinds.

Gun Richmond midfielder Monique Conti was contained well by Cathy Svarc, who collected nine of her 10 touches in the opening half, while Gabrielle Seymour led the Tigers’ count with 16 disposals. Under-the-radar recruit Harriet Cordner was also terrific down back in the losing effort, while number one draft pick Ellie McKenzie showed promise on the outer in her AFLW debut.

For the Lions, 19-year-old Isabel Dawes looks a big improver having notched a career-high 21 disposals, leading all comers for the day. Nat Grider is another in that boat as she gathered 16 touches from defence, while Emily Bates and Sophie Conway were not far behind from midfield. Greta Bodey was the game’s only multiple goalkicker with two, as speedy debutant Courtney Hodder managed 1.2.

The Lions will be looking to form an early winning streak as they carry their momentum back home ahead of hosting Geelong at Hickey Park, while Richmond is set to take on Melbourne at Casey Fields in what looks like a tough assignment – if Round 1 results are anything to go by, at least.

FINAL SCORE:

RICHMOND 0.2 | 1.4 | 1.6 | 1.6 (12)
BRISBANE 2.3 | 2.4 | 4.8 | 5.11 (41)

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield
Brisbane: G. Bodey 2, C. Hodder, T. Hickie, D. Davidson

DC BEST:

Richmond: H. Cordner, G. Seymour, E. McKenzie
Brisbane: I. Dawes, N. Grider, E. Bates, S. Conway, C. Svarc

Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images via AFL Photos

DOCKERS DEMOLISH GIANTS IN SPARKLING SECOND HALF

Fremantle’s undefeated streak and dominant home record extended into 2021, as the Dockers accounted for a spirited GWS side by 30 points at Fremantle Oval on Sunday. It was a game of great emotion, most significantly for those in charcoal and orange as they commemorated inaugural Giant, Jacinda Barclay, who passed away in October last year.

The travelling team was largely competitive in the early stages, trailing by just five points at each of the first two breaks. But Fremantle’s smothering tackling pressure, dynamism and searing run forward of centre proved too much to handle after half time, with the 8.10 (58) to 4.4 (28) result coming thanks to the Dockers’ five-goal to three second half.

The forward wombo combo of tall Gemma Houghton and small Sabreena Duffy again worked wonders for Freo, with the pair both snaring three goals in scintillating displays. Houghton came to life after the main break to find all of her three goals as the game opened up, with her dual threat of pace and aerial presence a true handful. Duffy was also menacing inside 50, displaying her rare goal sense.

Ever-consistent midfielder Kiara Bowers will again be a key feature through midfield as she amassed a team-high 21 touches, partnered well by Jasmin Stewart on the inside while skipper Kara Antonio bossed the outer. Alyce Parker returned a stellar display for the Giants with 28 touches, a game-high tally matched by teammate Rebecca Beeson.

GWS is booked to face West Coast at Norwood Oval next having escaped Western Australia in time before the state’s proposed lockdown period, while Fremantle has fellow opening round victor, Adelaide next on the agenda at the same venue.

FINAL SCORE:

FREMANTLE 1.2 | 2.3 | 5.8 | 8.10 (58)
GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY 0.3 | 1.4 | 2.4 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 3, S. Duffy 3, K. Antonio, M. Hyde
GWS: A. Schmidt, R. Beeson, T. Davies, E. Bennetts

DC BEST:

Fremantle: G. Houghton, K. Bowers, S. Duffy, J. Stewart, K. Antonio
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, A. Eva

2021 AFLW Preview: Geelong Cats

GEELONG comes into the 2021 off a disappointing campaign which yielded two wins, both of which came against expansion sides. Under coach Paul Hood, the Cats will be itching for a return to finals and have a wealth of young talent raring to make splash on the competition. While inaugural skipper Melissa Hickey has called time on her career, the Victorian side is in good stead to improve on last season’s effort.

2020 RECAP

The Cats finished fifth at 2-4 among the weaker Conference A, meaning they missed out on backing up a surprise finals appearance in their inaugural season by half a game. After going down in their first three outings, they got on the board in a high-scoring encounter with Richmond and backed it up with another win against Gold Coast. The sting of good form came to an abrupt halt at the hands of North Melbourne thought, seeing Geelong’s season ending on the sour note of a 44-point drubbing.

Green shoots appeared in the form of best and fairest winner Olivia Purcell, with the 20-year-old midfielder establishing herself as one of the premier ball winners in the competition. She was the only Cat named in the final All Australian team. Rebecca Webster was a big improver and 2021 skipper Meghan McDonald showed her class upon an early injury return, while Nina Morrison gave a glimpse into her talents before another heartbreaking ACL tear in the closing stages of the season.

NEW FACES

Geelong was again able to extract great value from the draft with a terrific haul headlined by outstanding local talent. Darcy Moloney was the Cats’ first choice at pick 10 and was followed by fellow Geelong Falcons product Laura Gardiner at number 20. Both showed terrific appetites for finding the ball as juniors and promise to add great balance to Geelong’s emerging midfield, while also taking a load off Purcell at the coalface.

Dynamic tall Olivia Barber was another high-value country selection, with the Murray Bushrangers graduate nothing short of a steal at pick 21. Able to rotate through the ruck from her usual key forward post, Barber is an athletic type who can not only take over in the air, but has clean hands and skills at ground level. Electric forward Stephanie Williams hails from the Northern Territory but was somewhat another local pick having attended Geelong College, while former Falcon Carly Remmos also joined through the draft, coming from an elite basketball background.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

While a second ACL tear sustained late in the 2020 season will again hamper her campaign, Nina Morrison remains the one to watch for Geelong. Fans were able to catch a good glimpse of her last year and she looms as a crucial midseason inclusion this time around. The Cats are taking somewhat of a cautious approach with their young star and have ruled out a Round 1 appearance despite her strong progress, so expect the 20-year-old to come in raring to go. Having mostly been employed on the outside, Morrison has the flexibility to remain there or provide some spark at the centre bounces, with plenty of stock in support to help make her return as smooth as possible.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

Youthful exuberance. The Cats have some of the best young talent going around and have only added to it at this year’s draft. The likes of Moloney and Gardiner should be knocking on the door early and will take a good amount of heat off Purcell through the middle, while Barber is another who can impact early and provide a focal point.

Millie Brown settled into the defence well in 2020 and Webster came on leaps and bounds, with the best yet to come from Morrison and the returning Denby Taylor. That’s not to mention Sophie Van De Heuval, who is primed to have a big impact in her third season. There’s young talent around the ground, all of which are game winners capable of taking Geelong all the way.

QUESTION MARK

With so much youth at their disposal and their inaugural captain now retired, are the Cats too inexperienced to make a real finals impact? Purcell is already arguably their best player at just 20-years-old, while much is also expected from the returning Morrison and Taylor. Improvement is another expectation, with hopes high on Van De Heuval and Rene Caris one who should be looking to soon take over the primary ruck post. Geelong has some established leaders in new skipper, McDonald, Aasta O’Connor, and Renee Garing, all of which will have plenty on their plate in aiding the on-field development of these young stars.

FINAL WORD

Many fans will be high on Geelong given just how well the Cats have drafted each year, with the pieces of the puzzle seeming to come together nicely heading into 2021. Their young guns have some good experience under their belt and while it may not quite be enough yet, expect the hoops to push for finals this season and better challenge some of the top sides.

Image Credit: Geelong Cats

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Geelong

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

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

RESULTS:

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

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

SEASON HIGH: The spirited win over Gold Coast

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

SEASON LOW: Nina Morrison’s second ACL tear

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

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SURPRISE PACKET:

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

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

YOUNG GUN:

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

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

VERDICT:

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

2020 AFL Women’s Round 4 review: Eagles claim maiden win, Dees get back on track

WEST Coast’s maiden win headlined Round 4 of the 2020 AFL Women’s season, with Melbourne returning to winning ways while Fremantle and Brisbane maintained their undefeated records to top the conferences. In our featured game of the weekend, Carlton exacted revenge for last year’s grand final loss with a thrilling win over Adelaide on the road.

COLLINGWOOD 0.1 | 2.1 | 3.1 | 4.1 (26)
MELBOURNE 2.1 | 4.1 | 6.1 | 7.4 (46)

Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Collingwood: S. Rowe 2, J. Lambert, S. Layton.
Melbourne: J. Parry, K. Hore, M. Gay, T. Cunningham, E. Zanker, C. Sherriff, S. Scott.

ADC BEST: 

Collingwood: J. Lambert, B. Davey, B. Bonnici, S. Layton, S. Rowe, A. Brazill
Melbourne: K. Paxman, T. Hanks, K. Hore, L. Birch, E. O’Dea, S. Scott

Melbourne needed a win after a disappointing Round 3 loss to St Kilda, and a win they did get on Friday night at Marvel Stadium, reigning supreme over a flat Collingwood outfit. The Dees well and truly ran over their opponents, though it was not without devastation on the Pies’ part with key defender and crosscoder Ash Brazill going down in the third and stretchered off the field with what has now been confirmed as an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. 

A strong start from the Demons under a closed roof was exactly what they wanted, dominant in defence and transitioning well through the midfield to apply scoreboard pressure against the Magpies. Dees debutant Jacqui Parry booted the opening goal with her first kick in the AFL Women’s competition off the back of a 50m penalty, before Kate Hore opened her own account minutes later to take a good lead into the second term. Collingwood was quick to get a few back however, with ruck Sharni Layton unleashing an impressive major from an angle while a goal from Jamiee Lambert evened up the ledger moments later. The Dees were not about to let this one slip away however, with impressive offensive pressure and persistence inside 50 leading to goals from Eden Zanker and Tegan Cunningham. A midfield stalemate saw neither side able to capitalise for the rest of the quarter with pressure building and Melbourne staying one step ahead of the Magpies. Injury to Brazill halted the game with only minutes left in the third, before both sides continued to press forward in the final term but to no avail, only putting a goal apiece on the board – but not for a lack of trying, with the Dees losing their relative accuracy in the final quarter with three behinds on the board. 

Karen Paxman continued her stellar form this season with another best on ground effort for the Demons, collecting 24 touches and five marks to lead the disposal count ahead of Lambert (23 touches, seven tackles), Bri Davey (23 touches, seven tackles) and Britt Bonnici (22 disposals, six tackles) who were impressive as ever. Libby Birch held up well in defence, rebounding well and collecting 15 disposals and six marks down back, while Tyla Hanks impressed with 15 touches and five tackles. The Dees were far more efficient inside 50, but still will want to improve after only 47 per cent efficiency, while the Pies impressed at the stoppages with eight centre clearances and 26 hitouts, thanks to the height of Layton despite the aerial ability of Zanker.

RICHMOND 1.1 | 3.1 | 7.1 | 7.3 (45)
GEELONG 1.3 | 7.4 | 9.7 | 10.7 (67)

Sophie Taylor

GOALS

Richmond: C. Wakefield 3, S. Frederick, L. McClelland, K. Jacques, C. Bernardi.
Geelong: R. Cranston 2, G. Clarke 2, K. Darby, D. Higgins, O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Garing, A. Teague.

ADC BEST: 

Richmond: M. Conti, C. Wakefield, P. Monahan, K. Jacques, S. Frederick,
Geelong: O. Purcell, R. Cranston, M. McDonald, G. Clarke, J. Crockett-Grills, P. McWilliams

It was a feisty matchup between the two winless Conference B sides, with just about everything on the line. Geelong was poised in its pursuit for a maiden win in 2020, running over the expansion side in Richmond to reign supreme in Bendigo, 67-45. 

An even start saw both sides hungry for the ball, with both quick to get on the board thanks to goals from Kate Darby and Courtney Wakefield – her first of three – before both sides switched on the defensive pressure, making it tough for goals to be scored. Two behinds late in the quarter put Geelong’s nose in front heading into the second, while the likes of Monique Conti (28 disposals and five tackles) and Olivia Purcell (20 disposals, four tackles, one goal) proved their strength early for their respective sides. The second quarter saw the Cats well and truly blow the Tigers away, booting six goals to two and forcing Richmond to rethink their defensive strategy – which they clearly did, only conceding three goals in the second half. Geelong lead by as much as 40 points midway through the third quarter before the Tigers switched back into gear, dominating the second half of the third with four goals in 10 minutes, only separated by a Nina Morrison behind. A slow final term saw only the one goal kicked, with Geelong’s Julia Crockett-Grills cementing victory and leaving Richmond the only side to not yet have a win on the board this season. A head knock to Richmond key recruit Katie Brennan saw the star sidelined for the final quarter.

Wakefield booted a goal in each of the first three quarters as one of Richmond’s key performers alongside Conti, picking up 10 touches and five marks while the likes of Phoebe Monahan (20 disposals), Sabrina Frederick (one goal, nine disposals) and Kodi Jacques (one goal, six tackles) also put in solid performances for the losing side. For the Cats, Purcell was a ball magnet as usual, aided by Meghan McDonald (16 disposals, six marks) and Richelle Cranston (15 disposals, two goals). Georgia Clarke was also a solid option inside 50, booting two goals to go with another six individual goalkickers in an even team performance.

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 4.5 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
GOLD COAST SUNS 2.1 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.4 (34)

Sophie Taylor

GOALS

North Melbourne: D. Bateman 2, Em. King, S. Abbatangelo, El. King, J. Trend.
Gold Coast: K. Howarth 2, K. Surman, T. Ernst, L. Ahrens.

ADC BEST: 

North Melbourne: E. Kearney, J. Garner, E. Gavalas, A. Riddell, D. Bateman, K. Gillespie-Jones
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, J. Yorston, L. Ahrens, H. Dunn, K. Howarth, J. Pregelj

North Melbourne put a third solid 2020 win on the board in Round 4 when they took on the Gold Coast Suns, reigning supreme over the expansion side in a real make-or-break match for the Shinboners. The victory came down to dominant performances from key duo Jasmine Garner and Emma Kearney, with the pair combining for 56 disposals and 10 tackles. While the Kangaroos were not the most accurate on the day, their consistency and early lead kept them in good stead with an all-round team effort. 

While North Melbourne got the chocolates, it was Gold Coast that had the better start, responding well to an opening goal from Kangaroos’ Sophie Abbatangelo with goals from Tiarna Ernst and Kalinda Howarth’s first for the day coming amid behinds for the Roos. But while the Suns had the upper hand heading into the first change, it was North that switched on in the second term, peppering the posts to lead by 15 points at half-time. That buffer disappeared quickly however with the Suns coming within two points midway through the third before North cleaned it up and extended the lead once more thanks to a well-timed Emma King major. The Suns once again proved in the final term that they could get close, backing up their effort to once again come within a goals distance of a lead thanks to a goal from Lauren Ahrens, but a couple of rushed behinds for the Kangaroos proved they had the forward pressure to get the job done if only they cleaned up the contest inside 50. They did just that with less than three minutes left on the clock, with Daisy Bateman booting her second and all but sealing the deal in what was a mostly inaccurate match for the Roos. 

Howarth and Bateman were the top scorers for the match with two goals apiece, while Howarth was among the best for the Suns collecting 12 disposals and four marks to go with the majors. Jamie Stanton (17 disposals, seven marks, four tackles) and Jacqui Yorston (15 disposals, six tackles, five marks) were among the best for the Suns with Ahrens also up there, while Kate Surman collected nine tackles to go with her 12 touches and one goal, while North’s Ellie Gavalas equaled in tackles but racked up 21 touches while she was at it. While Garner and Kearney only booted a behind apiece, Garner’s 30 disposals and Kearney’s 26 ensured the Roos maintained control of the footy.

WEST COAST EAGLES 1.3 | 1.4 | 3.6 | 4.6 (30)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 2.3 | 2.5 | 3.8 (26)

Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

West Coast: G. Kelly, E. Swanson, H. Bullas, A. Atkins
Bulldogs: I. Huntington, D. Marshall, K. Rennie

ADC BEST:

West Coast: E. Swanson, D. Hooker, N. Kelly, G. Kelly, A. Atkins, I. Cameron
Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, G. Newton, K. McLeod, I. Huntington, K. Lamb, G. Lagioia

West Coast broke through to become the third 2020 expansion team to claim its first AFLW premiership points, edging the Western Bulldogs by four points in a tense tussle on home turf. The Eagles passed on some first half inaccuracy to their opponent as they held on for the 4.6 (30) to 3.8 (26) win, with jubilant scenes ensuing upon the final siren.

The Eagles enjoyed good spurts of possession early on, and landed the rightful first blow through a well-wrapped around Ashlee Atkins snap from the pocket. The goal made up most of the difference between the sides in the first term, but it did not take long for the Bulldogs to wrestle back momentum and get on top in the following quarter. Skipper Ellie Blackburn again proved to be the Bulldogs’ main source of inspiration heading inside forward 50, and her kick to find Kimberley Rennie deep helped ensure her side would gain a half time lead. But in a low-scoring contest, the loss of Bonnie Toogood to a knee injury was a body blow to the visitors’ chances of holding on.

West Coast would take full advantage, hitting back as the tide once again began to turn in favour of the home side. After the lead was quickly taken back via some smart Emma Swanson and Imahra Cameron teamwork, Hayley Bullas‘ opportunistic soccer goal from nothing ensured the Eagles had more than a one-goal buffer heading into the final turn. But it could well have been scrapped if Kirsten McLeod‘s dribbler just after the siren had rolled through a couple of seconds earlier, with the forward appealing for the call. Grace Kelly’s goal over the back made things even tougher in the fourth quarter, but the ‘Dogs kept hitting back and were given a sniff through Isabel Huntington‘s precise set shot conversion. It proved too little, too late though as the Eagles toughed out the final five minutes and ran out deserving winners, compounding a frustrating year for the ‘Dogs with a third-straight loss.

Swanson was terrific for the winners with a game-high 22 disposals (20 kicks) and eight tackles, while Dana Hooker (19 disposals) proved a real presence around the ball going both ways with nine tackles. Irish sisters Grace (14 disposals, one goal) and Niamh Kelly (16 disposals, 0.2) continue to show promise going forward, with the likes of Atkins and Cameron also adding to the forward threat. For the Bulldogs, Blackburn’s 19 touches were important, but the emergence of number one draft pick Gabby Newton (16 disposals, 10 tackles, five marks) would be most exciting. Kirsty Lamb, Aisling McCarthy, and McLeod (six behinds combined) all had opportunities close to goal but could not capitalise in what was the story of the Bulldogs’s day, while up the other end Gemma Lagioia proved solid with 12 disposals and three marks. Both 1-3 in Conference B, the two sides will go on to face another set of conference rivals in Round 5 as the ‘Dogs face Collingwood and West Coast travels to do battle with Melbourne – both on Sunday.

ST KILDA 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.4 | 3.5 (23)
FREMANTLE 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 3.6 (24)

Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, O. Vesley, M. McDonald.
Fremantle: J. Stewart, K. Bowers, K. Flood.

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: A. Drennan, R. Dillon, O. Vesley, R. Watt, C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd
Fremantle: K. Bowers, P. Seth, H. Miller, K. Grieve, G. Houghton, E. Antonio

Fremantle pulled off the great escape with a dramatic one-point victory over the desperately unlucky St Kilda, with Gemma Houghton‘s last-minute behind the difference in what was a thriller at Moorabbin. A 50-metre penalty against 18-year-old star Molly McDonald – who was very nearly the Saints’ hero after a lovely final term snap – ultimately proved most costly, gifting Kate Flood the opportunity to level the scores and confirming the footy gods can be nothing short of cruel.

Earlier, the wind played a factor in a low-scoring opener, with the 2-1 scoreline replicating that of a soccer match and the Dockers struggling to adjust in their first real game on the road. But they would be first to find the big sticks in the following stanza as Houghton tapped deftly down to Jasmin Stewart from a forward 50 stoppage to get the ball rolling. The early buffer was reigned back again to within a goal though as Olivia Vesley finished off a rolling Saints passage of play to keep them within striking distance, behind by just two points at the main break.

With Tarni White having already gone down in excruciating pain with a left knee injury, Kate McCarthy‘s awkward leg knock in the third term meant the Saints’ chances of a comeback were dwindling. But no one told that to Caitlin Greiser, who slammed home a major early in the third term to help St Kilda claim the lead. In keeping Freo scoreless up the other end, the Saints found themselves in the box seat for an unlikely upset win, and McDonald’s final term goal looked like being enough for the win. But just as quickly as the pre-listed prospect marked an errand Rhiannon Watt clearance and dropped the ball out of bounds, she realised her mistake as the umpire blew for a costly 50-metre penalty. Houghton’s two opportunities running into an open goal should truly have been the difference though, with the Dockers lucky to come away victors and remain perfect in season 2020.

Philipa Seth (17 disposals) found the most ball of any Docker, but it was the likes of Kiara Bowers (13 disposals, 12 tackles), Ebony Antonio (13 disposals, six tackles), and Katie-Jayne Grieve (12 disposals, six tackles) who had that two-way impact. There were plenty of contributors for the Saints too, with Rosie Dillon having a game-high 18 disposals, while Alison Drennan (17) and Tilly Lucas-Rodd (16) were not far behind. Vesley continued her impressive come-up with 14 touches and a goal, while the ‘G-Train’, Greiser was impactful with her eleven kicks and lone major. The Saints will look to hit back but face a tough ask in battling Carlton at Ikon Park in Round 5, while Fremantle takes on Brisbane in a battle between the two undefeated conference leaders.

BRISBANE LIONS 2.5 | 4.5 | 7.7 | 7.9 (51)
GWS GIANTS 1.0 | 2.5 | 2.5 | 3.5 (23)

Michael Alvaro

GOALS:

Brisbane: J. Wardlaw 2, C. Svarc 2, E. Bates, K. Lutkins, L. Postlethwaite.
GWS: R. Privitelli, A. Schmidt, Y. Bonner.

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: C. Svarc, E. Bates, J. Wardlaw, A. Anderson, K. Lutkins, M. Moloney
GWS: H. Zreika, E. Bennetts, R. Beeson, N. Barr, B. Tully, A. Parker

Brisbane Lions roared back to the top of Conference A with a comprehensive 28-point win over GWS on home turf to close out Round 4, moving to 3-0-1. The winners maintained their undefeated start to the season on the back of some awesome individual efforts, but overpowered the GIANTS across the ground to wow home fans and neutrals alike.

The win was set up in the opening term and consolidated in the third, with the Lions booting 5.7 of their eventual 7.9 total across the two periods of play. Mature-aged draftee Catherine Svarc kicked off the game of her life by latching onto a long ball over the back of a contest and booting the ball out of mid-air through the big sticks, while promising tall forward Jesse Wardlaw also got on the board with a lovely set shot conversion. Rebecca Privitelli‘s contested grab and own set shot up the other end kept the GIANTS in the contest though, with Svarc and Emily Bates running rampant. The theme continued as Katie Lutkins‘ standout second term goal on the run looked to help Brisbane break the shackles, but it was cancelled out late in the half as Aimee Schmidt narrowly slotted GWS’ second major.

Much of the resistance was broken heading into the third term, and the floodgates finally opened mid-way through the quarter as the Lions piled on three majors. One of which was 2019 number three draft pick, Lily Postlethwaite‘s first ever AFLW goal, while Svarc’s second six-pointer from a tight angle got the crowd on its feet shortly after, effectively putting the result beyond doubt. The contest fizzed out in a much less eventful closing stanza, with the GIANTS managing to withstand any more damage while troubling the scorers once more themselves through Irishwoman, Yvonne Bonner‘s booming boot. It made the margin slightly more respectable, but did not take away from what was a dominant Brisbane win.

Svarc’s 23 disposals, 11 tackles and two goals were made even more incredible by the fact that she was tagging Alyce Parker, with the young GIANT managing a subdued 11 touches. Bates also continued to take the next step in her development, amassing 24 disposals and booting a goal, while the reliable Ally Anderson had a game-high 25 touches and Wardlaw showed good signs with two goals from 10 disposals and five marks. For the GIANTS, Haneen Zreika returned another solid shift with her team-high 15 disposals, with defender Elle Bennetts having 14 to stay true to her form. A bunch of GWS ball-winners were good without being outstanding, with Parker kept quieter than usual, and Alicia Eva unable to get going. Eva and the GIANTS will face a winless Richmond side next time out in a good chance to snare a win, while Brisbane is set to take on Fremantle in a battle of the conference table-toppers.

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Geelong

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

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

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

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

2020 TEAM LIST:

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

Rookies: Maddy McMahon, Georgie Rankin

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

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

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

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

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

Weekend wash-up: AFLW – Preliminary Finals

THE past weekend saw the first ever AFL Women’s Preliminary Finals, and with it came surprise results that prove the intensity of the 2019 AFLW season and finals campaigns. Fremantle went down to Carlton in a surprising turn of events at Ikon Park, while Adelaide safely cemented themselves as the best side in the 2019 competition.

Carlton Blues 9.10 (64) defeated Fremantle Dockers 4.4 (28)
By: Brandon Hutchinson

Carlton earn their first AFLW Grand Final appearance with an impressive win over a formidable Fremantle. The Blues led the first but struggled to convert (five behinds), only hitting their strides in the second by adding four goals to their tally, while holding Fremantle to a goalless second quarter. The Blues surged away in the second half, kicking two more in the third, and the same in the fourth. Fremantle managed to kick consecutive goals in the fourth but by this time the Blues were already out of reach.

First year player, Madison Prespakis put on another outstanding performance, amassing 19 disposals, three marks, six tackles and a goal toward the end of the second on her way to a game-high 90 AFLW Fantasy Points. Alison Downie (13 disposals, three marks and three tackles), Brianna Davey (16 disposals, four marks and five tackles) and Lauren Brazzale (22 disposals, 16 kicks and two marks) were also pivotal in the win. Tayla Harris also kicked a goal in the win and amassed 10 disposals, four marks and four tackles with 56 AFLW Fantasy Points. Dana Hooker stood up in the loss for her side with 12 disposals, two marks and five tackles on her way to 63 AFLW Fantasy Points. Kiara Bowers (13 disposals, three marks and six tackles) and Ashley Sharp (10 disposals, one mark and four tackles) also impressed through the middle, while Gabby O’Sullivan kicked well with two goals.

This signals the end of Fremantle’s year after thoroughly impressing throughout the 2019 season. Carlton now face league favourites, Adelaide, at their home ground for a chance to make AFLW history.

Adelaide 11.7 (73) defeated Geelong 1.1 (7)
By: Nikki Jamieson

Adelaide has easily cruised into the 2019 AFLW Grand Final after thrashing Geelong by 66 points over the weekend. The Crows proved to be the stronger team, dominating in possessions and holding the Cats scoreless until 12 minutes into the final quarter. Geelong now hold the unfortunate title for lowest ever score in AFLW, with only seven points for the whole match. The odds were always stacked against Geelong, who had the lowest percentage in the competition, competing against an electric Adelaide team who only lost one game all season.

The Cats battled to get the ball early, but it was clear that the Crows’ experience outmatched even skilled players the likes of Richelle Cranston (one goal, 12 disposals) and young midfielder Olivia Purcell (14 disposals, four tackles). Captain, Mel Hickey (15 disposals) fought valiantly, while defenders, Meghan McDonald (16 disposals) and Anna Teague (nine disposals) worked hard against Adelaide’s overwhelming forward push, but it all was dismal for a not-quite-ready Geelong side.

The Crows displayed ultimate class throughout the match, showing off their best assets effortlessly in front of their home crowd. Co-captains, Erin Phillips (23 disposals, six tackles) and Chelsea Randall (15 disposals, one goal) were influential, but Ebony Marinoff (two goals, 27 disposals, 10 tackles) was the clear star of the show. Marinoff exemplified why she is a common name surrounding this year’s Best and Fairest, as one of the league’s best ball-winners and clearance players. Danielle Ponter (three goals) and Chloe Scheer (two goals) were absolutely damaging to Geelong, erupting in offence.

Adelaide is now to host Carlton in the 2019 AFLW Grand Final next Sunday 31 March at Adelaide Oval, 1pm (AEDST).