Tag: Mikayla Bowen

2020 AFLW Draft review: West Coast

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is over, we take a look at each club, who they picked and what they might offer to their team next year. We continue our countdown with West Coast, a team that had the one win over in the west last year and whilst did not manage to get going too much in their debut season, was able to bring in some more experience to the lineup and position itself well heading into the draft.

West Coast:

#3 – Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)
#18 – Shanae Davison (Swan Districts/Western Australia)
#32 – Julie-Anne Norrish (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#53 – Andrea Gilmore (Claremont/Western Australia)
#56 – Amber Ward (North Adelaide/South Australia)
#59 – Lauren Gauci (North Adelaide/South Australia)

West Coast had a balanced draft, picking up a couple of young stars, some experienced West Australian talents and a couple of SANFL Women’s premiership talents. They managed to get three teenagers all up, and three that have had more experience under their belt as they look to rise up the ladder in 2021.

The Eagles’ first pick in the draft came at Pick 3 when they snapped up Claremont’s Bella Lewis. The hard midfielder who can also play at half-forward had an outstanding year that came off a memorable AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last year. A member of the AFL Women’s National Academy, Lewis is one who will join fellow tough nut, Mikayla Bowen in the middle and really create headaches for opposition sides.

Fellow AFL Women’s Academy member Shanae Davison caught attention with her massive hanger earlier in the year, but the Swan Districts product put in a consistent season all up, showing clean hands in the air or at ground level, even in challenging conditions. She will likely play forward with an eye to work into the midfield in the coming years, but is an exciting talent for the future.

Julie-Ann Norrish was consistency personified in the WAFL Women’s competition this year. The East Fremantle defender was a persistent rebounder for the reigning premiers, hardly putting a foot wrong with her intercepting and running ability. Good one-on-one with her positioning and reading the ball in flight, expect her to walk into the starting side.

Andrea Gilmore is a former West Coast Fever netballer who turned her attention to football of late and was a train-on player with the club. The 31-year-old forward/ruck is a towering presence at 183cm and has terrific athleticism. Needing a forward target, the Eagles could look to Gilmore to make an immediate impact, providing further depth to that end after completing a consistent season with Claremont this year.

The Eagles passed their final two selections, but ended up using them on North Adelaide duo, Amber Ward and Lauren Gauci. Ward is an over-age tall defender with a powerful kick and great hands that make her a brick wall at centre half-back. Like Norrish, she could slot straight into the back 50 and provide some resistance for the Eagles, earning a spot after year another brilliant year in a premiership-winning SANFL Women’s outfit.

Gauci was alongside her with the slick ball user also in the back 50. The 23-year-old is one who loves to run off intercept possessions and played in the Roosters’ defence alongside Ward and former Eagle Talia Radan. The glowing reviews gave the Eagles enough to select the pair and allow them to move west together.

Overall the Eagles managed to grab some extra depth in both the front and back halves as well as elite midfield talent which will hold them in good stead for the future.

Picture: West Coast Women’s Twitter

Talented forward Hyde made makes midfield move

MODELLING her game off Collingwood excitement machine Jamie Elliott, Western Australia product Mikayla Hyde draws a lot of similarities between the way she plies her trade on the footy field and that of Elliott. Having pushed into the midfield this year, Hyde noted the evolution of her game from being a forward to a player that can rotate through and have an influence.

“I’ve always been a Jamie Elliott fan. When I watched him I always saw that he was playing forward, before AFLW was even a thing I was always like ‘I want to kick goals like he did’. And then it’s actually funny he moved into the midfield this year, for Collingwood and I also played midfield mostly this year for Swan Districts,” Hyde said.

Drawing inspiration from Elliott from a men’s footy perspective, Hyde also highlighted the work of former Calder Cannons star and current St Kilda player Georgia Patrikios who is renowned for her cleanliness, coverage of the ground and sheer star power.

“In the female side of things probably a player like Georgia Patrikios. I think she is so clean and is a pretty tough midfielder as well. I would like to play exactly like her, I do like to model my game around someone like her.”

Dissimilar to her twin sister Brianna who supports Richmond, Hyde has been a lifelong Pies fan, so much so she made the trek over to the MCG for the 2018 Grand Final between Collingwood and her home state side, West Coast Eagles. Not getting the desired outcome – a Collingwood premiership – the youngster not only had to deal with the loss but so too the venture home.

“Went to the grand final in 2018 and I can confirm that I did lose a few tears after we lost,” Hyde admitted. “Fly over there and then fly home with all the Eagles supporters but we still wore Collingwood stuff because you know, we’re loyal.”

In terms of her own journey, Hyde made mention that it was the influence of her father and brothers that really prompted her love affair with the game and made her hungry to take the field.

“Probably mostly to do with dad, he’s a Collingwood supporter and so am I and we kind of just grew up watching it with him,” she explained. “Both our brothers played footy and we kind of watched them. We didn’t play until about Year 6 in our primary school team with the boys. And then after that we wanted to keep playing but mum wouldn’t let us because we didn’t know there was girls teams out there, and eventually we found girls teams and joined Swan Districts.”

“I played school footy and that led to like an All-Stars game, and we were on the Swan Districts side because that was the closest WAFL club to our house. Then from there the girls that were coaching actually played for Swans and then invited us to come down to the youth girls team,” Hyde said.

When speaking about the moment that she was identified and chosen to join the ranks at Swan Districts, Hyde reminisced on how important it was for her to be able to take the footy field with a group of girls and really get an opportunity to show what she is made of.

“Yeah, it was so good, I was with Mikayla Bowen at the same time, and we wanted to play for so long and mum just kept saying no, she wouldn’t let us play with the boys. So to know it was an actual girls team and actually play was so cool.”

Having grown up watching a lot of footy, Hyde identified that one of her most damaging attributes on the footy field is her ability to read the play and see the patterns unfold. When it comes to areas to improve on, the 18-year-old wants to “develop (her) contested ball on the floor, just being a little bit cleaner”.

Representing Western Australia in 2019, Hyde touched on what an amazing experience it was and the stark differences between playing in that competition and the WAFL Women’s, having to contend with much bigger bodies.

“Yeah it was insane, and the girls that you play with make it even better. When you’re over there you meet girls from eastern states, and that’s even cooler too, I’ve got so many mates up in Queensland and in Victoria. Such a good experience overall.”

“I think it is just body size that you verse, like we verse some pretty big girls. I’m not a huge human as it is,” she joked. “So versing the huge girls in the WAFLW, avoiding contact is harder to take but I got used to it, in the second year of league I got used to the harder hits where at states you can kind of use it to be stronger on the field and take on people and take on tackles.”

In her short career so far, Hyde has had some pretty momentous occasions, not only playing in a grand final but winning the premiership and some added silverware in the form of a best on ground.

“Probably 2017 when Swan Districts went back-to-back to back on the same day, our youth girls, reserves and league had all won the premiership and then I snagged best on ground so I was stoked with that,” she said. “But to win a premiership was good.”

“I was actually really surprised because the microphone cut out, and then someone must have heard it was my name and my mates were trying to tell me get up, and I was like no way, I was not expecting it at all but it was cool.”

Swan Districts has been a part of Hyde’s life for a long time, with the youngster crediting the work of the club for ensuring that women’s football is viable for all girls through their inclusivity and commitment to the program.

“I think we’re such a tight unit like from what people see, externally it’s nothing to what is in between the four walls like, especially we’re the only club in – definitely in WA that has their own female change rooms like the WAFL club. So that just shows that our clubs really care for our females. All of our coaches are always so supportive and we’re a really diverse club as well, we accept everyone,” she explained.

In terms of coaches and people at the club who have had an influence on the 18-year-old, it was hard for her to go past Kara Antonio, crediting the Fremantle captain for her progression, confidence to take the game on and general development as a player.

“Definitely Kara Antonio last year at least, really helped like guided me through on how I could make it all the way up and she still to this day has always been there for me and stuff like that so I’d definitely say Kara Antonio.”

A day out from the draft, Hyde hopes to “end up on an AFLW list” stating that “anyone that would take me I will be there”.

AFLW U18s to Watch: Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Claremont midfielder Bella Lewis who despite standing at 186cm, has the ability to roam through the midfield as well as present up forward.

Bella Lewis (Claremont/Western Australia)

Height: 163cm
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Endurance, acceleration, defensive pressure, strength

2019 AFLW U18 Girls Championships: 3 games | 12.0 disposals | 1.3 marks | 4.3 tackles | 2.3 inside 50s | 1 goal

Lewis is a small midfielder who packs plenty of punch. A natural athlete with high-level endurance and speed, Lewis makes the most of her abilities to be a consistent defensive midfielder who can also use her athletic traits to hurt opposition sides on the counter attack. Lewis trained with Fremantle over the summer and would now be eyeing off a step up to the elite level with the Dockers, and has used that determination to really set herself apart from the competition.

Representing Western Australia in the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, the then middle-ager stood out, being one of the stronger performers at the carnival behind three of the higher drafted/pre-listed players in Roxanne Roux, Mim Strom and Mikayla Bowen. She consistently cracked in and laid plenty of tackles, winning the contested ball and getting it forward to kick a major during the week too.

Her strong endurance base helps her run out games, and her midset to win the ball and dispossess the opposition makes her a danger when running both ways. As Claremont’s top prospect this year, and also alongside fellow youngsters Ella Smith and Jess Low, Lewis unsurprisingly earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite.

She has battled with injury problems over the years but has always pulled through to make herself better at the end, Lewis looks up to Dockers’ tackling machine, Kiara Bowers. Possessing similar traits, Lewis has shown she can match it with taller players and whilst she admits she has areas to work on such as her decision making – particularly at speed – her athletic traits and mindset make her a strong prospect for this year’s draft.

Overall Lewis provides what you want from a midfielder. An ability to run both ways, apply defensive pressure and hit the scoreboard when needed. She is not afraid of any challenge and can play inside, outside or up forward with great versatility.

Lewis crosses country and rekindles love for Aussie rules

“I DECIDED I wasn’t really cut out for it or didn’t really like it too much.”

It is hard to believe that this is was what 10-year-old Bella Lewis thought when she played a one-off game with the boys back in Sydney. Fast forward eight years and the Western Australia State Academy and National Women’s Academy talent could not have a more different opinion. The Claremont midfielder is one of her state’s brightest AFL Women’s Draft prospects, and she credits that to her move to the western seaboard in her early teenage years.

It was definitely a change,” Lewis said. “I think it was at a point in my life going from primary school to high school was a big change in friends groups and pressure like that so it was definitely a big change. “I think it was definitely for the better, I don’t think I’d probably be playing footy if I hadn’t moved.”

It was not just the access to playing the game, but also the feeling amongst her peers. Lewis admitted she went from an area where very few talked about let along played Australian rules, to a school that cannot get enough of the oblong ball game.

I think nowadays with footy every time you go to school, someone’s talking about the game,” Lewis said. “Whereas in Sydney it was more, it wasn’t really talked about thing. “I guess even five or six years ago, female footy there wasn’t an AFLW, there wasn’t a competition. “Definitely now in WA and the difference in Sydney is definitely a big difference.”

While Lewis had the access to play Australian rules football again, it was not until the last couple of years that the tough speedster was looking anything beyond playing with her friends and enjoying the social aspect of the game.

“When I was playing 15s and I was playing 16s, footy was obviously a big part of my life but it wasn’t a main thing that I would obviously think about,” Lewis said. “It was definitely when I made 18s and National Academy, it was kind of becoming more of a real thing. “I thought ‘oh okay, maybe I can make something of this’. “It was for me all the way through just about playing the best footy that I can play and still enjoying it as well.”

Her determination to push herself to her limits and try and get to the elite levels of competition was helped along by seeing West Australian teammates step up to the next level after playing alongside them at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

I think it’s definitely surreal seeing a lot of those players,” Lewis said. “Even some of the players who were drafted last year, you know I knew some of those girls like Mikayla Bowen, and players like that. “That you know and play with them and you see them play at that level, and that inspires you and encourages you to play at a higher level, and playing in a state that has such a high standard of footy I think i would rather play, it would make you a better player and gives you better habits and makes you become the best player that you could.”

It was that kind of competition – the championships – that Lewis thrived on, and she certainly did not look overawed, being the only other played with Bowen to pick up at least 11 disposals in each of the three matches. From that week on the Gold Coast, Lewis took plenty of confidence from her performances to take back to West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s League matches.

I took that trip, went into it as this is a learning experience, if I want to keep playing the game and progressing to the higher levels, this is definitely the kind of competition I need to be familiar with,” Lewis said. “It was just very surreal to play on a stadium like that just to get that opportunity. It’s definitely something you never take for granted.

“Going from last year into this year, the one thing in my game that has lifted is definitely my confidence,” Lewis said. “Last year I was going ‘wow these girls are a lot older, they’re bigger, they’re better’. “I think consistency is something that I’d like to have in my game, just always trying to be consistent is something that’s definitely a powerful attribute so I think you go into the games nervous. “Once you’re out there you play that brand of footy and showcase your skills, but going into this year it’s definitely given me a lot more confidence.”

Lewis might only stand at 163cm, but the 17-year-old packs plenty of punch, with her running power, acceleration and pressure among her best attributes – even if as she concedes, it can sometimes work against her.

I love the physicality of the game, I’ll go into any contest,” she said. “Sometimes I probably should be a bit more careful, but tackling is just a good way to let it out on the field as well.”

For someone who loves tackling, it is no surprise to see who her inspiration at AFL Women’s level is, the tackling machine that is Kiara Bowers. Though not just because of her on-field traits.

“I think the one thing in her game as well is just resilience,” Lewis said. “Coming back from multiple injuries and that’s a big thing that I like to have in my game, not so much injuries but going really physical, bouncing straight back up. “That’s just something I see similar there. “She’s always been one that I’ve watched and looked up to.”

For Lewis, she is ironing out her kicking and decision making at full speed. While she can win the ball and burst away with it, she is keen to lower the eyes and pick out teammates down the field, or just make the best possible decisions with ball-in-hand.

I think my strength is my running, I’m able to use more handballs or be a bit less selfish and use handballs and stuff like that, but I really want to start being powerful by foot and I think that if I’m able to do that, I will improve quite a bit and that as well will give me a lot of confidence, being able to kick,” she said.

Her willingness to take the game on was exemplified in Claremont’s heartbreaking one-point loss to East Fremantle. In her first game back since January, Lewis showed some eye-catching bursts at half-forward, and while she was caught on a couple of occasions, admitted she did not mind it, and helped her adjust to the level again.

I don’t think I’ve broken through the barrier of the level of footy I can play yet, but of course that just comes with being a bit rusty, but I think in the first half I was thinking you always take people on, you’ve got to get more comfortable with doing that again,” Lewis said. “Being caught, I didn’t mind being caught because that gave me some realism, okay well what do you need to do better next time? Better decision making. “So in the second half I definitely I was like ‘okay so how do I use that to help my teammates and make the best decisions quickly in the moment and I think that I definitely got better as the game went on.”

She definitely achieved that with a perfectly weighted pass in the third term to the goalsquare for teammate Mhicca Carter to run onto and kick the Tigers’ first goal of the game and give them some life to roar back into the contest. But it was not just her offensive ability on show, but her defensive work as well. In on instant, she was opposed to Collingwood AFL Women’s player Ruby Schleicher, and while Schleicher fended her off and assumed she had done enough, Lewis lunged back, corralling her much bigger opponent and bringing her to ground.

I think definitely going up against someone like Ruby Schleicher, she’s very quality opposition, just trying to corral them instead of going full for the tackle. “Obviously I know her strengths, you’ve just got to understand how you’ll do better in that situation and for me that kind of just giving it my all but making sure I don’t go all in. “She’s got probably the better footy IQ and how to go around someone like me, but just not giving up that second effort I guess.”

From a team perspective, looking ahead to Claremont’s next game up against winless South Fremantle, Lewis said that the team just needed to make better decisions as a whole, and adapt to the conditions quicker in order to avoid the opposition getting off to a fast start.

“I think we’ve improved in our team since last year to do with structures and the way that we want to play,” she said. “I just think that especially with the wet weather conditions, we were a bit thrown off, we couldn’t play perfect footy. “We couldn’t give off too many handballs… I think as the second half was a lot better from us, the third quarter. “We just need to make a better decision in the moment even if that’s just picking the ball off the ground and kicking it to advantage rather than trying to make it look pretty. “I think that if we get that down, we’ll definitely play the way that we want to play and be successful.”

This week Lewis has a different game to approach, with the WA Academy hosting an intraclub match tonight. While some might prepare differently against younger opponents than a regular League match, Lewis said she would approach the game the same way given the quality running around.

With Western Australia’s best draft hopes taking to the field tonight, Lewis knew there were plenty who had the same aspirations as her – to get on an AFL Women’s list – but the Claremont midfielder said she was comfortable remaining in the moment.

I think going as close to the draft that some people would tend to get a little bit stressed out and who’s watching,” Lewis said. “But I think I just try to play the best footy that I can play and that’s being comfortable around my teammates and try and not think about it too much. “I think some ways that I would go from here is probably going to the gym a bit more. “Looking at the competition, a lot of the AFLW girls who are playing in the WAFLW, that really gives you a standard, they’re big-bodied girls and they’re still agile so I definitely think going to the gym a bit more but not really stressing too much. “You’ve got to think about the present which is something that I like to do quite a bit.”

As for her Tigers season ahead, Lewis is confident the team can reach the pointy end of the finals series if they can maintain their best form when it counted.

I think that if we start playing the way we want to play, I think we can potentially go pretty far. Our culture’s really good, our structure’s really good, we’re all really committed,” she said. “I think everyone in the team wants to be there and everyone deserves to be there, so I think if we play the way we want to play and not overthink and try and play good looking footy. “I think we should be a team to beat and that would be good.”

Davison provides high-flying highlight, but just happy to be out there

IF you are a West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s fan, chances are you have heard of talented AFL Women’s Academy member, Shanae Davison. Her fan base increased on the weekend when she took a massive pack mark in the dying minutes of Swan Districts’ loss to Claremont. While the mark has not defined her career, it has certainly put her in the spotlight this week and she spoke to Draft Central about that moment and her Australian rules football journey.

I’ve talked about it for ages actually,” Davison said of the mark. “I had a bet last year with Ebony Antonio that if I could take a screamer, she’d give me $100. “It was a bit of a build up from last year. “I think the ball was set up very nicely and I actually just went up for a normal mark and ended up getting my knee in her back, which was good, and I just kind of carried.”

While she missed the subsequent set shot, as well as not collecting her reward, she did not have to wait long for a second chance, taking a second mark, albeit a little closer to the ground and nailed that goal with the final kick of the game. The loss marked Swan Districts’ first after winning their opening game of the season a week earlier. Davison said she had enjoyed just running around given the current climate and restrictions in other parts of the country.

It’s been good,” she said. “I’ve just been happy to play again. “(It’s been a) very long preseason and I was injured for most of it. “To be out and just run around and kick the footy again, it was really good to get back out.”

That injury was a serious one resulting in a number of torn ligaments in her ankle, something that is still “a bit of a niggle” but manageable. She certainly showed no signs of issues with her leap on Sunday, and admitted the season delay had helped her have extra preparation.

Oh yeah 100 per cent (the delay helped),” she said. “I think I would have missed a couple of games of footy if it wasn’t delayed.”

Rewinding the clock back to the beginning of her football journey, Davison said she was always a fan of the oblong ball game even as a young child.

I always played footy,” she said. “I grew up in Broome and I played with the boys but when I moved to Perth, one of the girls was like we kind of need more numbers to play community footy so I started there. “Went through all the talent pathways and made my way to Swans and was lucky enough to debut in the first game for League.”

Having originally expected to run out with the Under 18s (Rogers Cup), Davison was fast-tracked into the senior team after showing some impressive form on the track under a pretty talented coach.

I was actually there for Rogers Cup, but I trained with the League girls and Kara Antonio was the coach and she always said it doesn’t matter how old you are and if you could play you were going to be on the field,” Davison said. “So I was very lucky to have her as a coach and the development from her was really good.”

Davison’s love for football blossomed through her family’s support, with her grandfather being a “massive” Geelong supporter. The Swan Districts forward credits both him and her uncle for helping develop her love for the game by having kick-to-kicks and sitting on the couch watching the blue and white hoops.

While last year Davison did not play in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, she spent her time in the Western Australia Academy over summer, and developed through the Swan Districts program over the past few seasons. Last year one of her teammates at the Swans was pre-listed for expansion club West Coast, in Mikayla Bowen.

“We played at Swans together and she’s just such a good person,” Davison said. “She’s always checking on you, seeing how you are. “Making sure you feel comfortable with what you’re doing. “We actually ended up being really good friends and we still are now. It’s been really good to watch her go through what she did last year and the success she had so it’s really helped me to see where she’s at now and that’s where I want to be.”

Even after Bowen was drafted, Davison said the teenager kept in touch with her and was always there offering advice or support.

“I think I’ve asked her a couple of things how she’s going and she’s asked me how I’m feeling about the draft and things like that,” she said. “So it’s really good to have someone to talk to like Mikayla Bowen. “Even a couple of the other girls like Kellie Gibson and that. It’s just been good to have a chat. “But I’m really not trying to think too far into it, just play some footy and have fun.”

In 2020, Davison is just one of a number of talented AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls coming through the program, with fellow Academy member Mikayla Morrison crossing from East Perth, as well as other West Australian talents in Nyra Anderson and Mikayla and Brianna Hyde. Davison said she believed having a strong group of players all aiming for the same thing – being drafted into the AFL Women’s – helped drive the team forward.

Yeah I think that really helped,” Davison said. “I notice that we push each other at training and we can all see that we all want to get drafted, so at training it’s always very competitive, especially the Hyde twins. “I’m really good friends with them, so it’s just the good chats with them about how we’re feeling and I think we’ve just settled each other’s nerves a bit.”

It also helped Davison settle into the West Australian Academy with so many familiar faces. Then came the call about the AFL Women’s National Academy. It was an announcement that surprised the humble forward.

Yeah that was pretty exciting,” she said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting that and that was a very good experience.”

Through the AFL Women’s National Academy, Davison travelled to Darwin and mingled with the most talented players from across the country. It gave her a broader perspective on the talent out there, and from then she took more notice in what was happening around the country. When asked if she was a bit of a ‘footy head’, she was becoming more and more involved in other leagues.

“I am a little bit,” she said. “Honestly last year I didn’t really know much about what was happening in the other states. “It wasn’t until I met the girls and we got talking and things like that. “I think this year I’ve definitely followed it a little bit closer and it’s definitely been cool to see some of the girls’ names chucked in some articles and things like that who I’ve trained and had some really good connections with.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented plenty of challenges, Davison said the Academy players kept in touch over the past few months following the camp. While not able to physically see her friends from the camp, Davison is happy with the West Australian group who are always pushing each other to succeed.

I’ve mainly talked to the WA girls,” she said. “I’ve talked to a couple of girls in Queensland. “I haven’t really had a chat with anyone in Victoria but I imagine it would be very hard over there, especially just when you want to play footy and you can see the other states getting their season along. “We kinda kept in contact just after the camp and COVID we kept in contact, but it’s kinda just drifted off a little bit now.”

Considering the mark on the weekend, it is no surprise that the Swan Districts talent rates her marking as one of her strengths, but also her ability to read the play. Davison is keen to improve her bodywork in one-on-one situations to be able to “do the work early”, enabling her to win more contests.

While she would love to spend some time onball in the future, Davison is just happy to be out there and loving playing football. She is not too sure what the future might hold, but consistency is the key. After missing a bulk of the preseason through her ankle injury, Davison is raring to go and intent on building her fitness week by week and improve her football in any way possible. As for Swan Districts, Davison is quietly confident they will fare well in season 2020.

I think we’ll go alright,” Davison said. “We have a very new team, very young. “But I think we’ll really just want to win, so I think this week we have Subi and that will be a really good test to see where we’re at as a group.”

2020 AFL Women’s season review: West Coast

FRESH off it’s inaugural AFL Women’s campaign, West Coast is the next team under the microscope in our club-by-club reviews.

The Eagles may have landed a couple of handy players at the nest in their maiden recruiting effort, but were one of the expansion sides which struggled to find their feet in faring only better than the winless Richmond with one win for the season. Scoring was real trouble spot for the newcomers, with a competition-low 85 points scored overall, which was far from enough to stay competitive since they would also concede 265 points up the other end.

Despite some hefty losses and a harsh initiation to the elite level, the Eagles’ opening win was a pure footballing highlight, and should give fans and players alike something to look back on fondly. Without further ado, we look back on the highs and lows of West Coasts’ first year in the AFLW, with a focus on the Eagles’ key performers and players to watch for in the future.

2020 RESULTS:

R1: lost to Collingwood by 27 points
R2: lost to Fremantle by 45 points
R3: lost to GWS by 28 points
R4: 
defeated Western Bulldogs by 4 points
R5:
lost to Melbourne by 59 points
R6:
lost to Gold Coast by 25 points

A solitary win perhaps puts some shine on what was an otherwise lacklustre set of results, with the fact that each loss came by 25 points or more not reading well in any capacity. The first AFLW Western Derby ended in a 45-point defeat just a week after Collingwood dismantled the newcomers first-up, but the Eagles’ lowest point arguably came via a 59-point thumping at the hands of Melbourne in Round 5. Barring that sensational Round 4 win over the Bulldogs, West Coast managed to score multiple goals just twice, while also conceding two totals over 60. Those numbers are hard to put a positive spin on, but the win would have given the Eagles a glimpse of hope.

SEASON HIGH: A thrilling maiden win on home turf

Enough of the dower talk – seeing West Coast hold on for its maiden win in the competition was nothing short of heartwarming. After losses of a combined 100 points in their first three outings, the Eagles somehow pulled one out of the hat against the Dogs, clawing their way back from a half time deficit to get ahead and stay there on home turf. West Coast’s 4.6 was double its next-best total for the season and its only venture past two goals in a game, with stars Emma Swanson and Dana Hooker leading the way. The Bulldogs may only have also managed one win for the season, but you would take the four points on any day ending with ‘y’.

SEASON LOW: Posting the (then) lowest-ever AFL Women’s score

Just eight days after West Coast’s spirit-lifting win came its most crushing loss upon a second trip to Victoria, going down to Melbourne by 59 points. It also marked a record no team wants to hold, with the Eagles managing what was then the lowest-ever total in any AFLW game – 1.1 (7). While that unfortunate feat was later taken by Richmond’s goalless effort, it was a fairly sour note to come just over a week after that incredible win. Hooker and Swanson were again the main ball winners, with Maddy Collier chiming in for her side’s only goal for the day.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Dana Hooker (19.7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 6.8 tackles, 3 rebound 50s, 2.8 inside 50s)

An out-and-out star of the competition, Hooker proved her worth as the club’s most high profile signing across another stellar year. The durable former-Fremantle midfielder made history by booting West Coast’s first-ever goal, and carried herself with pride in a team which suffered some heavy defeats. Hooker led the club for disposals, contested possessions, marks, and tackles to end the year as the only Eagle to be named in the All Australian squad.

Emma Swanson (17 disposals, 2.2 marks, 4.5 tackles, 2 rebound 50s, 3.3 inside 50s)

Hooker’s partner in crime through midfield, Swanson had arguably her best season since debuting for GWS in 2017 as another ever-present in the Eagles’ best half-dozen. The 25-year-old provided the perfect midfield partnership with Hooker, working hard to push the Eagles forward from the contest. She would end the year leading her club for clearances, inside 50s, and metres gained, perfectly encapsulating her role in the engine room.

Imahra Cameron (13.8 disposals, 2.5 marks, 3.5 tackles, 1.3 rebound 50s, 1.3 inside 50s)

One of West Coast’s best mature-age finds was Cameron, with the 23-year-old growing strongly into her debut AFLW campaign. Often partnering Swanson and Hooker in midfield while also drifting forward, the zippy 163cm recruit was one of the Eagles’ more consistent contributors despite her more flashy style. Her season total of 1.4 in front of goal could have taken her season to the next level if it were for better accuracy, but Cameron was influential nonetheless.

Parris Laurie (9 disposals, 2 marks, 2.7 tackles, 18 hitouts)

Completing the typical centre bounce quartet is Laurie, who fared well in her second AFLW season through the ruck. Another of West Coast’s recruits from rivals, Fremantle, Laurie upped her aerial impact this year with greater numbers in both the marking and hitout department. While she may have liked to find the goals more when drifting forward, 178cm ruck’s tap craft was solid for a someone slightly undersized in the position.

Belinda Smith (11 disposals, 1.7 marks, 2.8 tackles, 3 rebound 50s)

Plying her trade this year at a third AFLW club, Smith was certainly kept busy as one of the mainstays in West Coast’s defence. Across all six games, Smith was reliable at her best with leading numbers in the intercept possession and rebound 50 stakes, while also boasting a respectable disposal efficiency of 68 per cent. It was a solid year for the 24-year-old in a vital role among an under siege back five, and she will only get better as the Eagles work on possession retention.

YOUNG GUN:

Mikayla Bowen (10.3 disposals, 5.2 tackles, 1 rebound 50)

One of the first Eagles signed was Bowen, who lived up to the bill as a pre-listed player in her debut year after claiming WA’s MVP award at last year’s Under 18 national championships. In a tough side to start out in, Bowen steadily found her feet and performed consistently with a particular liking for the tough stuff. The young gun was only second to Hooker in tackles for West Coast this season, and has a bright future.

SURPRISE PACKET:

Niamh Kelly (9.7 disposals, 1.5 marks, 2.3 tackles, 1 rebound 50)

A surprise packet in the sense of her unknown ability coming into the season, Kelly became a key member in West Coast’s side with her daring run on the outside and ability to sneak forward. She was hard to stop when on song, and should benefit from more time in the game after transitioning from her native sport in Ireland with sister, Grace.

Others who stood out: Ashlee Atkins, Hayley Bullas, Chantella Perera

Three pretty different players round out the list here for West Coast, with a key defender and two forwards playing their part. Atkins was one of the few Eagles to find the big sticks while also setting up others, and Bullas was the only one to find them twice as her side’s inaugural leading goalkicker. Up the other end, mature-age draftee Perera was a rock at the back across five games, playing her role as a dour defender well upon getting a chance at the elite level.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 6

IN our sixth edition of the Young Gun Watch, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 6 focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

Geelong vs. North Melbourne

North Melbourne ended up coasting to a comfortable victory over Geelong on Friday night to maintain top spot on the Conference A ladder. However, star Cat Nina Morrison’s devastating injury would be the main takeaway from the game as she unfortunately ruptured the ACL in her right knee for the second time in two seasons. As things went from bad to worse for Geelong fans, Olivia Purcell gave them something to smile about having collected 18 disposals and five tackles. Millie Brown (nine disposals) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (eight disposals) were also serviceable in what was a tough night for the Cats. Daisy Bateman again provided pressure up forward for the Kangaroos resulting in a goal for her five mark and five tackle effort. Making the most of a high-scoring team performance was Mia King, who managed her first career goal after gathering 12 disposals and an impressive seven tackles.

Brisbane vs. Collingwood

Collingwood collected a dominant road win against Brisbane, keeping them in the hunt for finals footy. Much like the rest of the team, Brisbane’s young talent couldn’t quite get into the game with their first draft pick in 2019, Lily Postlethwaite, collecting just the two disposals. Natalie Grider showed some positive signs out of defence, collecting 10 disposals and laying four tackles having to contend with the sharp and abundant inside 50 use from the Magpies. Full-forward Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw had seven disposals, three marks and six hit outs while Isabel Dawes managed five disposals in what was a quiet night for Brisbane’s forward stocks. Collingwood’s experience led the way as their young talent played roles in the win. Jordyn Allen had nine disposals and five marks while Lauren Butler also collected nine disposals off the half back-flank. Mikala Cann (five disposals, four tackles) and Alana Porter (five disposals) were also useful.

St Kilda vs Richmond

St Kilda boasted contributors across the board as they held Richmond goalless at Moorabbin on Saturday, a first in AFLW history. The Saints’ youth again impressed as their first draft pick, Georgia Patrikios, had 14 disposals and a couple of tackles out of the middle, unfortunately also just missing out on a goal. Dandenong product Molly McDonald showed large improvement with 12 disposals, six marks and three tackles, while Isabella Shannon was serviceable with four disposals and two tackles. Nicola Xenos again applied solid pressure in the centre with six tackles, as she enjoyed a well-rounded 11 disposal performance to go with a goal. The Tiger’s young talent endured a tough day with the rest of the team, with Kodi Jacques (seven tackles) and Sophie Molan (eight disposals) the stand-out players. With finals footy out of the question for Richmond, Nekaela Butler (five disposals, three tackles) and Ciara Fitzgerald (two disposals, two tackles) both debuted in the loss.

Melbourne vs. Carlton

Alice Springs brought the heat on Saturday in more ways than one, with the Blues enjoying a 16-point win over the Demons, propelling them to second on Conference B’s ladder. Sticking with mature-aged players, Melbourne again played just the two players born this century. Tyla Hanks has been the most impressive all season and started in the centre, collecting 11 disposals and laying six tackles. Hanks now averages five tackles per game on the season. Carlton’s youth again showed why they are arguably the best in the league, with Madison Prespakis leading the crop in a typical Prespakis performance of 23 disposals, four marks and a goal. Lucy McEvoy put up impressive numbers with 19 disposals, while last week’s Rising Star nominee, Charlotte Wilson, had 11 disposals and six marks out of defence. Murray product Grace Egan was also important, popping up with a goal to go with her 11 disposals and three tackles.

Western Bulldogs vs. Fremantle

Fremantle maintained its perfect record off the back of a dominant final quarter which saw them outscore the Bulldogs 25 to six at Whitten Oval on Sunday. The highest-scoring game in AFLW history was littered with admirable performances from youth on both sides as fans were treated to the future of the competition. The Bulldogs’ young talent improved greatly on last week’s performance with Gabby Newton (16 disposals, eight tackles) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (13 disposals, four tackles) leading the way. Gemma Lagiola (10 disposals) and Eleanor Brown (11 disposals, three tackles) were also important for the Bulldogs, as Hannah Munyard returned nine disposals, three tackles and a goal. Britney Gutknecht (seven disposals, four tackles) played her second game for the season, while fellow former Northern Knight Nell Morris-Dalton debuted with eight disposals and five tackles. Fremantle’s Mim Strom backed up last week’s effort with an even more dominant 25 hitouts, playing a lone hand in the ruck with Roxanne Roux out. Though it was not four goals, Sabreena Duffy managed to keep the Bulldogs defenders under pressure with five tackles, while Emma O’Driscoll managed seven disposals.

Adelaide vs. GWS GIANTS

The GIANTS defeated the Crows for the first time in franchise history behind closed doors on Sunday, running out five-point victors. Adelaide continue to showcase their young talent as finals footy feels like a long way for them having suffered this loss, with Montana McKinnon again the most impressive. The six-foot ruck again provided the Crows midfielders with deluxe service with 17 hitouts. Danielle Ponter collected six disposals out of full-forward to go with her two tackles, while Jaimi Tabb managed just the five disposals. GWS again opted with just the one player born in this century and you cannot blame them. Star midfielder Alyce Parker enjoyed a best-on-ground performance with 30 disposals, seven marks and three tackles. She led all players in the disposal count as she now averages just over 20 disposals on the season. With just two more 21st century-born players on the list, you hardly expect the GIANTS to change the formula heading toward finals.

West Coast vs. Gold Coast SUNS

The SUNS enjoyed a 25-point win on Sunday against the Eagles after having kept West Coast without a goal for the first three quarters. The Eagles will be looking forward to next year’s draft to secure more young talent as McKenzie Dowrick and Sophie McDonald were both out this week, leaving winger Mikayla Bowen the sole 21st century-born representative. Bowen gathered nine disposals and three tackles in what was a tough day for the Eagles. Inversely, Gold Coast’s youth all enjoyed solid outings as they kept their season alive. Lauren Bella dominated the ruck on her way to 16 hit outs, sharing the load with debutant Taylor Smith who was useful with 10 disposals and four hit outs. Gold Coast’s pressure was pivotal throughout the game with Jacqui Yorston (12 disposals, four marks, nine tackles), Ellie Hampson (12 disposals, six tackles) and Dee Heslop (five disposals, 10 tackles) all driving factors in that aspect.

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 5

IN our fifth edition of the Young Gun Watch, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 5 focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

Gold Coast SUNS vs. Geelong

A convincing win saw Geelong climb above Conference rivals Gold Coast to claim their second win on the trot, however, some impressive performances from Gold Coast youngsters would give the Suns fans something to smile about. Jacqui Yorston continued her good form with 16 disposals, 10 tackles and a goal, while Lauren Bella was impressive again in the ruck with 19 hit-outs. Queenslanders Ellie Hampson and Dee Heslop both brought physicality to the contest with three and four tackles respectively. Geelong’s Nina Morrison was back to her best gathering a team-high 22 disposals and seven tackles, while fellow 2018 graduate Olivia Purcell collected 21 disposals. Rebecca Webster (12 disposals, two tackles) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (nine disposals) were both serviceable for the cats in the victory. Georgia Clarke played a role off the bench with two tackles and a goal, as did father-daughter draftee Millie Brown who found the ball nine times.

North Melbourne vs. Adelaide

North Melbourne secured their spot on top of the Conference A ladder with a commanding win over Adelaide where the Kangaroos experienced players took the reigns. Daisy Bateman was useful up forward without impacting the scoreboard with her nine disposals and four marks. Launceston product Mia King brought plenty to the contest with four tackles but was down on her disposal count from last week with just the six. Adelaide showcased a lot of young talent again with Montana McKinnon the most impressive, accumulating 16 hit-outs in the ruck to go with her nine disposals. Nikki Gore was again kept off the scoreboard but managed seven tackles up forward, however, centre half-forward Danielle Ponter was able to kick a goal after also being held scoreless last week. Jaimi Tabb was able to make an impact out of full-forward despite not kicking a goal with eight disposals, four marks and three tackles.

GWS GIANTS vs. Richmond

GWS’ young talent is scarce with just the one player born this century, yet Alyce Parker and the Giants do not care for that with a dominant display against Richmond keeping them up near the top of the ladder. Parker backed up another impressive outing last week with 24 disposals and four tackles, a performance which could have seen her receive a rising star nomination if she had not have received a Round One nomination. The winless Tigers have blooded plenty of youth this season but again it was Sophie Molan leading the way for Richmond’s young talent with nine disposals and four tackles. Kodi Jacques laid six tackles and collected six disposals, as did Ella Wood. Northern Knights pair Maddy Brancatisano and Sarah Sansonetti had four and two disposals respectively, while Laura McClelland collected four disposals and two tackles.

Carlton vs. St Kilda

Carlton’s accuracy in front of goal led them to a 21-point win over St Kilda with valuable contributions from their young talent. After narrowly missing nomination last week, Charlotte Wilson became Carlton’s third Rising Star nomination for the season after putting in an impressive 12 disposal and eight-mark performance down back for the Blues. 2019 Rising Star Madison Prespakis impressed as usual with 26 disposals to go with three tackles. To continue with the Rising Star trend, fellow 2020 nominees Grace Egan (12 disposals, six tackles) and Lucy McEvoy (four disposals, eight tackles) kicked a goal each. Number five draft pick, Georgia Patrikios continued her stellar debut season collecting 18 disposals while Isabella Shannon gathered 10 disposals and three tackles. Nicola Xenos’ six tackles was important to keep the pressure on the Blues, as Molly McDonald had seven disposals.

Collingwood vs. Western Bulldogs

Collingwood stayed in the race for finals with a strong win over the Bulldogs, led by their more experienced stars. With room for the Magpies youngsters to improve, it was a relatively quiet outing for all of them. Lauren Butler collected nine disposals off the half-back flank, while Mikala Cann collected eight disposals and laid two tackles out of the middle. Jordyn Allen (six disposals) and Alana Porter (four disposals, two tackles) had less output than last week and will be looking to bounce back this week against the Lions. The Bulldogs youth also experienced quieter performances than last week as number one draft pick Gabby Newton picked up nine disposals and six tackles. Fellow top ten draft picks Gemma Lagiola (seven disposals, two tackles) and Elisabeth Georgostathis (six disposals, four tackles) will both also be looking to get back to the form they have displayed throughout the season.

Melbourne vs. West Coast

Melbourne enjoyed an outstanding day out to come out 59-point winners against the Eagles out at Casey Fields on Sunday, in an outing with the least amount of 21st century representatives. Consistently picked for a reason, Tyla Hanks played her role again in Melbourne’s forward rotation collecting 10 disposals and laying two tackles in a well-functioning forward line, while New South Wales product Brenna Tarrant gathered five disposals in the win. Mikayla Bowen was again the standout Under-20 Eagle as she backed up last week’s effort with similar numbers, posting 11 disposals and five tackles. Claremont product Sophie McDonald improved again, putting up another season-high disposal count with 10, while tall McKenzie Dowrick come off the bench for four disposals and three tackles. Despite not enjoying the success in the wins columns this season, West Coast fans would enjoy the performances from their youth.

Fremantle vs. Brisbane

Fremantle secured their place atop the Conference B ladder with a three-goal victory over the Brisbane Lions. Sabreena Duffy became the team’s leading goal-scorer with a terrific four-goal effort which very well could have been eight if she kicked straight. Duffy also had 10 disposals and five marks in her day out, while Emma O’Driscoll collected seven disposals and three tackles. Tall prospect Roxanne Roux found the footy five times to go with three hit outs in a day where fellow tall Mim Strom dominated the ruck with 17 hit-outs with her seven disposals. Key forward Jesse Wardlaw was the standout youth performer for the Lions with seven disposals, four marks, three hit-outs and a goal. Brisbane’s first draft pick, Lily Postlethwaite in 2019 had seven disposals and three tackles, as Natalie Grider (seven disposals) also contributed.

2020 AFL Women’s Round 5 review: Cats go back-to-back as Pies bounce back

IT was a round of blowouts in the AFL Women’s with the closest game a 20-point win in favour of the Cats. North Melbourne and Melbourne once again showed their class with some impressive performances across the weekend while Collingwood got back into the winner’s books after two straight losses. Our match of the round was Fremantle’s win over Brisbane to remain undefeated on top of the table.

GOLD COAST 0.3 | 2.4 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GEELONG 1.2 | 1.4 | 4.6 | 5.8 (38)

Taylah Melki

In the first game of the round the Cats flexed their muscles away from home with a hard-fought win over inaugural side Gold Coast. The led ebbed and flowed with Geelong getting the early ascendancy before the Suns hit back in the second with two goals to none to claim the lead. But that is where it ended with the Cats putting their foot down in the second half and doing plenty of damage on the scoreboard while limiting Gold Coast to a mere two points across the final half. It was an inaccurate display from both sides with a combined total of 14 missed shots but somehow Geelong found a way to win making it two on the trot. The Cats won a heap of the footy and most importantly were effective by both foot and hand going at 66 per cent compared to Suns 53 per cent while their efficiency inside the forward 50 was where most of their damage was done with Phoebe McWilliams reaping the rewards of good ball movement and space opening the account for the Cats.

Geelong were led by their young brigade of midfielders with star Nina Morrison racking up the touches with a team-high 22. Her ball winning ability has gone from strength to strength this season and paired with her tackling pressure, amassing seven for the game Morrison showed why she is so crucial to the Cats. She was not alone though, with Olivia Purcell chiming in and doing just as much damage with 21 touches, 14 of those kicks. Richelle Cranston continued her merry way with the talented footballer using her booming kick to full effect and slotting a timely goal in the third quarter to establish a handy lead for her side along with 18 touches. Other key contributors such as Renee Garing and Amy McDonald also had a major influence across the ground with their ability to win the footy at the coalface and dispose of it cleanly. McWilliams led the charge in terms of goals with two for the evening while Georgia Clarke and Anna Teague both managed to apply scoreboard pressure with a major each.

Despite going down by 20-points the Suns had plenty of positives to come out of their clash with 24-year-old Jamie Stanton absolutely dominating. Stanton was involved in everything in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 23 touches, two marks, five tackles and a goal. While she will be disappointed she did not kick more accurately finishing with 1.2 Stanton was the shining light for the Suns. Jacqui Yorston was the only other goal scorer with the 165cm forward working hard for each of her 16 touches and putting on a tackling clinic to finish with 10 to her name. Kalinda Howarth also had an impact throughout the four quarters with her 18 disposals while Jade Pregelj was the next best when it came to possessions with 16. Captain Leah Kaslar was relatively well held throughout the match kept to 10 disposals but her physical pressure was up and about laying six tackles.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, J. Yorston
Geelong: P. McWilliams 2, R. Cranston, A. Teague, G. Clarke

BESTS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, K. Howarth, J. Yorston, L. Kaslar, J. Pregelj
Geelong: N. Morrison, O. Purcell, R. Cranston, P. McWilliams, A. McDonald

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 | 5.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)
ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

Tom Cheesman

North Melbourne asserted themselves as a premiership contender with a huge 42-point victory over an undermanned Adelaide in Hobart on Saturday. In wet, blustery conditions the Roos dominated the disposals (268-205), clearances (105-87) and marks inside 50 (14-4). It was North’s fourth consecutive win, strengthening their position in the top two of Conference B. For Adelaide, it was their second poor loss in a row after losing the grand final rematch against Carlton last week.

The first quarter was highly congested with both teams applying significant pressure at stoppages and around the ground. This was expected from North who are one of the best tackling sides in the competition, but Adelaide stepped up in the first term to match their intensity.

North took control of the contest in the second quarter, dominating time in possession by simply outworking Adelaide. The Roos looked dangerous every time they went inside 50 and Adelaide struggled to transition the ball into their forward half. North kicked three goals to nil in the term as small forwards Kaitlyn Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo made a major impact.

Things got even better for North after half time, as Adelaide continued to fumble and make skill errors while North were clean and efficient. The Roos’ pressure proved too much and they kicked the first four goals of the half. Stevie-Lee Thompson kicked two majors in the final five minutes to make the scoreline slightly more appealing for Adelaide fans, but North went home with a comprehensive victory.

Jasmine Garner was best on ground by a long way, simply a class above anyone else. She finished with 24 disposals, four tackles, seven marks and two goals. Ashmore was outstanding up forward with four goals, while midfielders Emma Kearney (26 disposals) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, six tackles) were strong all day. Anne Hatchard was the sole shining light for the Crows with 23 disposals and eight tackles.

North will be confident going into their Friday night blockbuster against the Cats next weekend. Meanwhile, Adelaide will be hoping star Erin Phillips returns from injury next Sunday to help reverse their fortunes in a huge game against GWS.

GOALS:
North Melbourne: K. Ashmore 4, S. Abbatangelo, J. Garner 2, E. King
Adelaide: S. Thompson 2, D. Ponter

ADC BEST:
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, S. Abbatangelo
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, S. Thompson, E. Marinoff

GWS GIANTS 2.5 | 3.8 | 4.13 | 7.14 (52)
RICHMOND 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 (11)

Taylah Melki

Another round, another loss for the Tigers with the GIANTS well and truly trouncing their opposition to run out 41 point victors. It was a convincing performance from the home side who announced their dominance from the opening bounce scoring a goal in the first minute of the game thanks to a red-hot Cora Staunton. The GIANTS maintained that high intensity throughout the game and while they suffered from inconsistency in front of the big sticks across the four quarters they did enough to limit Richmond’s opportunities to a mere goal. Unfortunately, the Tigers had no answers for GWS who seemed to combat everything they threw at them using their tackling pressure and quick ball movement to push the ball inside 50. It was a relatively one-sided affair with the GIANTS winning the possession battle 227-158 highlighting just how much of the footy they monopolised especially inside the forward half constantly peppering the goals.

The load was shared across the board for the GIANTS however it was Staunton that led the way in front of goal walking away with a four-goal haul. Staunton was electric inside 50 winning the ball with ease and showcasing her goal nous while also applying pressure laying four tackles. Rebecca Privitelli also continued her recent string of form with another two goals to add to her growing goalkicking tally while the likes of Brittany Tully and Jodie Hicks could have had a big day out but failed to capitalise with two points apiece. Youngster, Alyce Parker lit up the field once again racking up an impressive 24 disposals with an even ratio of handballs to kicks with 13 to 11 along with four tackles. To go with her two points Tully also won her fair share of the footy with 18 touches and Rebecca Beeson made her presence felt across the four quarters with 18 touches and three marks. Elle Bennetts provided plenty of excitement with her 13 disposals while teammate Haneen Zreika led the way with a team-high six tackles.

Up against her old side, fill in captain Christina Bernardi managed to slot her sides only goal for the game and while she only racked up seven touches her second efforts across the ground were impressive. Despite her big frame and clunking five marks Sabrina Frederick struggled in front of goal registering two points while Phoebe Monahan also missed her chance to slot one home. Although she would be disappointed she did not convert Monahan had a standout performance for the Tigers with a team-high 22 disposals. Monique Conti was not far behind collecting 21 touches for her efforts while also throwing her weight around with six tackles and three marks. Both Grace Campbell and Kate Dempsey worked tirelessly to win the footy with 11 and 10 touches respectively but it was not enough to worry their opposition who went about their business.

GOALS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton 4, R. Privitelli 2, S. Halvorsen
Richmond: C. Bernardi

BESTS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton, A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, B. Tully
Richmond: M. Conti, P. Monahan, C. Bernardi, K. Dempsey, S. Frederick

CARLTON 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 8.2 (50)
ST KILDA  2.0 | 3.0 | 3.2  | 4.5 (29)

Sophie Taylor

CARLTON put in another impressive performance in Round 4 to run home 21-point victors against a lively St Kilda outfit. An even first half kept the Saints well and truly in the race, challenging the Blues in the highly pressurised contest, but it was to no avail with a four goal to one second half seeing the home side confidently dominate in every area of the field.

It was a tight first quarter with St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser doing what she does best, booting her first of two goals and finding plenty of the footy as she exposed holes in Carlton’s defence. But for every goal the Saints got in the first half, the Blues went one better with Sarah Hosking getting two on the board in quick succession before Rhiannon Watt followed up with her first less than a minute later to create an exciting and close contest. An inaugural goal to Blues’ Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles, one goal) put the icing on the cake for Carlton to lead by a goal at the first change, and while it continued to be a tough slog in the second St Kilda were unable to find that same offensive pressure to get back ahead of the Blues.

After an action-packed first term the second was relatively quiet, with only the one goal apiece – to Greiser and Tayla Harris respectively – while standouts from both sides were becoming clear as consistent performers in Maddy Prespakis (26 disposals, three tackles), Kerryn Harrington (21 touches, eight marks), Olivia Vesely (18 touches, four tackles, three marks) and Georgia Patrikios (18 touches, two tackles) stood up in the tight battle. The third saw Carlton just about run away with the match, piling on the pressure and the points thanks to consistent contesting around the ground and phenomenal tackling pressure from the likes of Katie Loynes and Lucy McEvoy, both of whom didn’t find much of the ball but certainly did their bit to earn ball back with their nine and eight respective tackles.

The final quarter saw two early goals that dried up the majors, with St Kilda’s Kate Shierlaw (12 disposals, three marks, one goals) and Carlton’s Georgia Gee both getting on the end of good movement down the field to apply scoreboard pressure. The Saints kept the ball in their half for much of the quarter and while they looked dangerous at times, were not able to take advantage of their opportunities, booting two behinds and one rushed, which could have pushed the side much closer to victory if kicked straight.

Next round will see both sides take the field on Saturday evening, with St Kilda hosting fellow expansion side Richmond at Moorabbin while Carlton travels to Alice Springs to take on Melbourne for a top two Conference B battle.

GOALS

Carlton: S. Hosking 2, B. Walker, T. Harris, N. Stevens, G. Egan, L. McEvoy, G. Gee.
St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw, R. Watt.

ADC BEST

Carlton: K. Harrington, M. Prespakis, V Laloifi, S.Hosking, G. Egan
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, O. Vesely, K. Shierlaw, N. Exon, R. Dillon

COLLINGWOOD 3.0 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

Peter Williams

Collingwood has bounced back from consecutive losses to post an impressive 32-point win over the Western Bulldogs. The home team playing at Morwell never looked like losing from the outside with a couple of goals on the board within five minutes and then a third late in the opening term. Two of those goals belonged to Chloe Molloy who was thrown forward in the clash as a throw-back to her VFL Women’s days where she claimed the leading goalkicker award prior to being drafted. She constantly looked a threat one-on-one inside 50 and gave her teammates opportunities with the Bulldogs’ defence wary of what she was capable of inside 50. The Magpies led by 24 points at half-time and had kept the visitors scoreless in a great defensive display. The second half was more even with the Magpies marginally shading them with 4.3 to 3.1 in the half, but it was a valiant effort from the young pups to keep pushing throughout. Kirsten McLeod booted two of those goals to get her side going and one was as she was thrown to the ground forcing her to do a neat roll and bounce straight back up. Whilst it was too little, too late, there was plenty to come out of the game for both sides as the Magpies got their finals campaign back on track.

Brianna Davey recorded 30 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and 10 tackles in a big performance through the middle, well shared by one of the competition’s best players this year in Jaimee Lambert (24 touches, eight inside 50s and seven tackles). Sarah Rowe chipped in with two goals and had arguably her best career game with 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and four tackles, working hard across the ground, while Molloy booted 3.2 from 12 disposals, six marks and two inside 50s. Others who impressed for the Black and White were Sarah D’Arcy (11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and captain Steph Chiocci (17 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three inside 50s).

For the Western Bulldogs, Ellie Blackburn put in another typical captain’s effort with 17 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds, while Bailey Hunt (15 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and three rebounds) and Kirsty Lamb (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) were busy across the board. Isabel Huntington was a rock in defence with 12 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, two inside 50s and a long-range set shot which just missed. Meanwhile number one pick from last year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Gabby Newton had nine touches and laid six tackles in another solid performance.

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 3, S. Alexander 2, S. Rowe 2, J. Membrey.
Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, K. Lamb.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Molloy, J. Lambert, B. Davey, S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, S. Chiocci.
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, B. Hunt, I. Huntington, K. McLeod, G. Newton.

MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.6 (66)
WEST COAST 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Peter Williams

In a strange day at Casey Fields, the weather was actually pleasant without icy winds or sweltering heat impacting the spectator experience. From the first bounce it was always going to be a question of how much for Melbourne, with the Dees seemingly going at first gear in the opening half to find their feet, whilst the Eagles – as determined and willing as they were – could not find the connection inside 50. Aside from a second term purple patch where the team from the west gave the almost exclusive home fan-crowd a scare, the Demons were rarely troubled, especially after half-time. When Ashlee Atkins kicked a behind midway through the second term, the Dees’ lead was cut to just five points and despite all their dominance with possession and field position there was a little moment where fans would have thought ‘surely not?’. The fears were soon alleviated a little when Sarah Lampard kicked a late goal to stretch the lead to 11 points by half-time, and completed eliminated by the midway point of the third term, when the lead stretched beyond five goals and the game was done and dusted. No doubt the home team would have received a bake at half-time to try and lift the intensity, especially given the importance of percentage, whilst the away team showed some promising signs, but were overran in the second half, going down by 59 points in the end.

Karen Paxman was one of the few four quarter performers, standing up when a lot of her teammates were a little down, picking up 21 disposals, two marks, six tackles, six inside 50s and three rebounds in a clear best on ground performance. Others who impressed throughout the four quarters were the two Irish players in Niamh McEvoy (14 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s) and Sinead Goldrick (13 disposals, two inside 50s) whose run was important. The experienced Daisy Pearce was prominent early with 10 touches and four tackles standing tall in crunch moments, whilst Aliesha Newman (13 disposals, five tackles and six inside 50s) was a star along the wing. Eden Zanker also put in a ripper performance with nine disposals, two marks, six tackles, 19 hitouts and two goals, predominantly playing ruck then floating forward to provide a target with her high leaping and sticky hands. It was also a memorable day for Sarah Perkins who did not look out of place, booting the final goal of the day and always presenting with nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and even sold a bit of candy much to the delight of her new fans.

For the Eagles, the midfield duo of Dana Hooker (14 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and three inside 50s) and Mikayla Bowen (11 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two rebounds) worked hard, whilst Parris Laurie shouldered the ruckload against multiple opponents on her way to 17 hitouts, 10 disposals and five tackles. Emma Swanson (13 disposals, two marks and two tackles) was also solid through midfield, whilst Belinda Smith (12 disposals, four rebounds) and Sophie McDonald (10 disposals, six rebounds) were rocks under pressure in the back 50.

GOALS:

Melbourne: E. Zanker 2, T. Cunningham, C. Emonson, K. Hore, S. Lampard, N. McEvoy, J. Parry, S. Perkins, S. Scott.
West Coast: M. Collier.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Paxman, A. Newman, E. Zanker, S. Goldrick, N. McEvoy, D. Pearce
West Coast: D. Hooker, M. Bowen, B. Smith, S. McDonald, P. Laurie, A. Atkins

 

 

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

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

Friday, March 6

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: Geelong by 8 points.

GOLD COAST

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

Emerg: S.Riley 8 A.Hamilton 30

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

GEELONG

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

Emerg: N.Garner 22 C.Blakeway 4

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

Saturday, March 7

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

Troy Hanning

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

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

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

Tip: Kangaroos by 12 points

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

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

ADELAIDE

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

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

GWS GIANTS v Richmond,
Robertson Oval, 5.10pm

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: GIANTS by 20 points

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

Emerg: I.Nielsen 25 T.Davies 16

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

RICHMOND

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

Emerg: A.Woodward 13 N.Butler 22

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

Carlton v. St Kilda
Ikon Park, 7.10pm

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: Carlton by 15 points.

CARLTON

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

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

ST KILDA

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

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

SUNDAY, MARCH 8

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

Tip: Collingwood by 10 points.

COLLINGWOOD

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

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

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

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

Melbourne v. West Coast,
Casey Fields, 3.10pm

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

Tip: Melbourne by 15

MELBOURNE

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

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

WEST COAST

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

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

Fremantle v. Brisbane,
Fremantle Oval, 5.10pm

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tip: Fremantle by 6

FREMANTLE

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

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

BRISBANE

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

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

ROUND 5 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

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