Tag: mim strom

Demons book prelim spot with win over Dockers at windswept Casey Fields

MELBOURNE has earned a chance at toppling two-time AFL Women’s premiers Adelaide in the preliminary final next weekend after defeating Fremantle by 17 points at a windswept Casey Fields yesterday. The Demons kept last year’s minor premiers goalless in the first half, then held on the second half despite some inaccuracy, to win, 5.10 (40) to 3.5 (23). Despite a phenomenal effort from Kiara Bowers with a Bowers-like tackle count of 17, the Demons put together a strong team effort across four quarters to advance through to the penultimate week of the 2021 AFL Women’s season.

After a couple of behinds early in the match, the Demons’ first selection in last year’s draft Alyssa Bannan got them on the board midway through the term, and whilst the Dockers had a couple of chances late in the quarter, could not capitalise and trailed by a straight kick at the first break. Shelley Scott was quick to pile on another major for the Demons, needing just 36 seconds from the restart to slot through the home team’s second goal, and the lead was out to 12. Scott doubled up five minutes later with her second and the Demons’ third, and when Eden Zanker missed a chance, the lead was out to a game-high 19 points at the half. Fremantle was unable to add to its quarter time score of two behinds, and the danger signs were there.

Fremantle had the first chance of the second half through Gemma Houghton, but she scored her second behind of the contest two minutes into the quarter, before Ashley Sharp broke the Dockers’ drought with a crucial major in the fourth minute of the premiership quarter. That cut the deficit to 12, and it did get as low as a 11 points midway through the quarter, before Brenna Tarrant – who had kicked five majors in her VFL Women’s debut earlier in the year – snagged a goal and the Demons had one foot in the preliminary final. Sabreena Duffy had other ideas though, and just as soon as the Demons were looking comfortable, she answered with a goal of her own, and the lead was back to less than two kicks. In the dying moments of the third term, Houghton finally found her range with a great goal and the deficit was just four points heading into the final break.

The first goal of the last term was crucial, but for some reason no matter how many chances they had, the Demons could not split the big sticks. Seven consecutive behinds – including one rushed – opened the term, but the ball was effectively locked inside the Demons 50, when the Dockers needed it up the other end for a chance to win the game. Instead, all of those behinds had pushed the lead from four points to 11 with four minutes on the clock. Eventually it would be the crafty Maddi Gay who put the icing on the cake with a terrific goal in the 15th minute to seal the game for the home team and guarantee them another week in the competition. Unfortunately for the Dockers, it meant the end of the road after their premiership aspirations were cut short last year due to the league cancellation, and now they will head back to go again in 2022. For the Demons, they will take on a red-hot Adelaide in South Australia next week, with the winner to book a place in the 2021 AFL Women’s Grand Final.

Gay was sensational throughout the match, fitting that she kicked the winning goal to go with 19 touches, three marks and nine tackles in the match, while Karen Paxman (20 disposals, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebound 50s), Lily Mithen (17 disposals, two marks, three inside 50s and two tackles) and Scott (13 disposals, two tackles and two goals) were also prolific. Jacqueline Parry (12 disposals, four marks and four tackles), Zanker (10 disposals, three marks and four tackles) and Lauren Pearce (11 disposals, two tackles, 15 hitouts and three inside 50s) were also strong, as Casey Sherriff, Sarah Lampard, Tegan Cunningham, Kate Hore and Tyla Hanks all hit double-figure disposals.

For the Dockers, Bowers continued her remarkable season with 20 disposals and 17 tackles, six more than her nearest teammates in Steph Cain (14 disposals, five marks and three tackles) and Matilda Sergeant (14 disposals, two tackles). Houghton was forever busy up forward with 1.2 from nine disposals, two marks ad thee tackles, while Philippa Seth had 13 disposals, two marks and six rebound 50s. Mim Strom (12 disposals, two marks, 12 hitouts and six tackles), Ange Stannett (12 disposals, seven tackles and two inside 50s), Hayley Miller (11 disposals, six tackles and two rebound 50s) and Laura Pugh (10 disposals, four tackles and four rebound 50s) were others who not only hit double-figure disposals, but laid plenty of tackles as well.

MELBOURNE 1.2 | 3.3 | 4.3 | 5.10 (40)
FREMANTLE 0.2 | 0.2 | 3.5 | 3.5 (23)

GOALS:

Melbourne: S. Scott 2, A. Bannan, B. Tarrant, M. Gay.
Fremantle: A. Sharp, S. Duffy. G. Houghton.

DC BEST:

Melbourne: M. Gay, K. Paxman, L. Mithen, S. Scott, T. Cunningham
Fremantle: K. Bowers, M. Sergeant, M. Strom, H. Miller, S. Cain

Picture credit: Graham Denholm/Getty Images via AFL Photos

AFL Women’s draftee watch: Round 9 – Young guns make a statement in final home-and-away round

THE final round of the AFL Women’s home and away season saw youngsters from each team given one last chance to showcase their form whilst a few more will get extra weeks to put their best foot forward during finals footy. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared across the latest weekend, focusing on players in every match under 21 years of age selected from the most recent draft crop.

Western Bulldogs vs. Richmond

It took a tough effort from the Bulldogs to overcome the Tigers on Friday night, and it took strong form from a couple of young guns throughout to really stay ahead of the hungry Tiges. for the winning side, Elisabeth Georgostathis was tasked with tagging out Monique Conti and did so impressively, whilst Nell Morris-Dalton booted her first career goal in the opening term in her best AFLW output yet. Gabby NewtonGemma LaGioia and Isabelle Pritchard all managed 10-plus touches, while Jess Fitzgerald could not find the big sticks but managed nine touches and five tackles. For the yellow and black, Sophie Molan and Ellie McKenzie continue to impress, with the later clutching a huge mark over the back of Brooke Lochland in the second which could come into mark of the year contention, while Maddy Brancatisano managed 10 touches and five tackles.

North Melbourne vs. Fremantle

North sewed up a finals berth with their Round 9 one-point victory over the Dockers, with a Daisy Bateman major assisting the Roos to a critical lead with less than 10 on the clock – a goal which ended up being the sealer. A seven-touch and four-mark effort from Bella Eddey saw the 19-year-old put on one of her better performances this season, while Mia King produced another solid effort. Docker Bianca Webb put on her best effort to-date with 12 touches and seven tackles as Mim StromRoxy Roux and Sarah Verrier put on strong performances in a disappointing outing for Fremantle.

Melbourne vs. Brisbane

The Dees clung for dear life onto victory to claim a home final, with crucial back-to-back goals from Alyssa Bannan and Tyla Hanks in the final term to clinch the win. Eliza McNamara may not have had the footy as much as past weeks with 11 touches of the footy but was clean with ball in hand and did not relent, while Brenna Tarrant held onto her spot on the list and did not disappoint off the backline. For the Lions, livewire Courtney Hodder produced a superb running goal to spark her side into action as Isabel Dawes found the footy 11 times to go with five tackles as Indy Tahau also got hands to the footy.

Gold Coast Suns vs. Geelong

Geelong won its first match of the season in style, defeating the Suns by 17 points as young gun Laura Gardiner showcased what she is capable of with 18 disposals and seven tackles as Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Barber both put on promising performances with 13 and 10 disposals respectively. Gold Coast’s Maddison Levi and Lucy Single plied their trade well while Wallis Randell and Dee Heslop were kept relatively quiet in a disappointing end to the Suns’ season.

Adelaide Crows vs. Collingwood

The Crows reigned supreme to win the minor premiership off the back of this victory, with its experienced faces making the mark in this encounter. Nevertheless, the likes of Teah Charlton remained consistent in her ninth straight match for the side, putting a goal on the board from her seven touches and two tackles. For the Pies, Mikala Cann continues to put her best foot forward with an equal-career-high 15 touches again this round while Tarni Brown (11 touches and four tackles) and Joanna Lin (nine) both plied their trade in the loss.

GWS Giants vs. Carlton

The Blues pipped GWS at the post in the two sides’ final match of the season, with Maddy Prespakis dominating once more to close her second impressive season. With 27 touches, Prespakis led the charge as Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles) and Lucy McEvoy (eight and seven) continued their respective solid strings of form. GIANTS’ Georgia Garnett and Tarni Evans combined for 17 disposals and seven tackles between them.

West Coast vs. St Kilda

It was the young-gun show as the Saints ran down the Eagles to complete the home-and-away season, with Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith driving the side home. Patrikios’ 30-disposal effort was a career-high to lead all comers, as Smith was next in line with 24 while Alice Burke (12 touches) put on her best performance yet, as Jess Matin piled on the offensive pressure with three goals from 11 disposals. Eagles developing talent Mikayla Bowen showcased her footy nous with 22 touches and five tackles, whilst Bella Lewis and Amber Ward both put imposing stats on the board in a great effort from the young stars.

2021 AFLW Preview: Fremantle Dockers

FREMANTLE snuck up on the competition and put together a near-perfect season, eventually only being stopped by a global pandemic and a controversially premature ruling.

2020 RECAP

Fremantle might have lost a number of players to cross-state expansion side West Coast – led by star Dana Hooker – but showed they had more than the required depth to get the job done. Kiara Bowers went from strength to strength, averaging a ridiculous 14.1 tackles per game and falling one short of her century in a short season, while Hayley Miller, Ebony Antonio, Kara Antonio and Gemma Houghton all provided great support. Young guns, Mim Strom and Roxy Roux were among those who caught the eye in standout debut seasons, while Sabreena Duffy backed up her first season with a strong season.

NEW FACES

A quiet trade period in terms of inclusions showed the side to be relatively settled and ready for a second crack at the title, with the Dockers heading to the AFL Women’s Draft instead. They grabbed two elite young talents in Sarah Verrier and Mikayla Morrison, while also bringing in the likes of Maggie Maclachlan and Tiah Haynes who had shown great form throughout the WAFL Women’s season.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Providing she can have a run of luck, it will be exciting to see what Sarah Verrier can provide at the next level. Unfortunately, the teenager had injury issues that impacted her 2020 season, but she has terrific balance between inside and outside traits, and can play just about anywhere on the field. Long-term, Verrier can settle into an already impressive midfield group, and hold her own with her ball-winning ability and high-level skills.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

It is fairly straightforward to suggest the Dockers can go all the way in 2021, having been in the best position to do so in 2020 before it was called off. The only undefeated side heading into the 2020 finals series, Fremantle was destroying teams like few others, and while no doubt they could have been pushed by some – as shown by Collingwood – they were a tough, united squad.

QUESTION MARK

Could the Dockers repeat history? Any football season is long and tough, and for Fremantle, they did all the work to go undefeated and then be two wins away from a premiership that few externally saw coming. Internally the belief was clearly through the roof, but now the challenge is getting them back to that position again. They should have the hunger which is a great tick, but how will other clubs adapt to their style that saw their success ultimately unrewarded by season’s end?

FINAL WORD

Fremantle should be considered one of, if not the team to beat. Adelaide, North Melbourne and Carlton in particular all have claims to be a title contender, but the Dockers have not lost since 2019, and have such a well-balanced team that has lost little, but gained some superb young talents. Expect the purple army to be in full force this season, because it would be a shock not to see Fremantle at the pointy end of the season.

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.

2020 AFL Women’s season review: Fremantle

FREMANTLE entered its fourth AFL Women’s campaign with little fanfare despite a six-win season in 2019, but backed it up with an unblemished 6-0 run to deliver what would have been a second straight preliminary final appearance. Having undergone a heavy list turnover in the wake of West Coast’s introduction to the league, the Dockers proved their resilience and shrewd list management skills to finish as the competition’s first ever undefeated side. With coach Trent Cooper adjudged the AFL Coaches Association Coach of the Year, and four stars named in the All-Australian squad, there is plenty to dissect out of the highs and lows of Fremantle’s season.

RECORD: 1st (B), 6-0 (1-0 finals), 154.7%

RESULTS:

R1: defeated Geelong by 16 points
R2: defeated West Coast by 45 points
R3: defeated Collingwood by 3 points
R4:
defeated St Kilda by 1 points
R5:
defeated Brisbane by 18 points 
R6:
defeated Western Bulldogs by 15 points
SF: defeated Gold Coast by 70 points

While the 6-0 regular season record may make Fremantle’s season seem relatively straightforward, there were plenty of talking points to come from each fixture. Geelong provided a test first-up but could not hang with the Dockers for longer than three quarters, while West Coast supplied even less resistance in the maiden AFLW Western Derby. Fremantle’s second real test spawned a somewhat sketchy mid-season run, with Collingwood only just falling short of the sturdy home side, while St Kilda were unlucky not to come away with at least two points in a thriller at Moorabbin. It meant Brisbane had every chance to get up in Round 5’s clash between undefeated teams, but the Dockers duly returned to their best before another barnburner against the Bulldogs and an emphatic finals win against Gold Coast. For all the impressive form, it would have been interesting to see how the Dockers would have fared against the next-best sides among the final four; North Melbourne, Carlton, and Melbourne.

SEASON HIGH: Stamping authority in battle of the conference leaders

There was much hype surrounding the Round 5 fixture between Fremantle and Brisbane, with either side the only two left in the competition to boast undefeated records as leaders in their respective conferences. In the fortnight leading in, the Dockers let Collingwood and St Kilda within a goal of victory, so a big lift was required. At home, the hosts delivered a game-breaking first term with five goals to two to set up an unassailable lead, coasting home by 18 points to keep their perfect record in tact.

SEASON LOW: Being robbed of the opportunity to achieve more

This may seem like somewhat of a cop-out, but it is genuinely difficult to pinpoint any real lowlights among Fremantle’s season given the positives shown by its playing list, and the ultimately unblemished record. The only thing which takes away from it all is that the season was cut short, leaving an asterisk next to the feat of becoming the league’s first ever undefeated side, and the lingering unknown of whether the Dockers would have gone all the way for premiership success. While they were the undeniable flag favourites and already achieved so much, we cannot say for sure that the Dockers would have won it all – unfair is an understatement.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Kiara Bowers (17.6 disposals, 2.6 marks, 14.1 tackles, 3.7 clearances, 3.6 inside 50s, 4.9 intercept possessions, 323 metres gained)

Voted by her peers as the competition’s most courageous player, the Fremantle vice-captain enjoyed another stellar year as one of the elite midfielders to earn All-Australian squad status. Bower’s effort in leading the competition for tackles – one shy of 100 in total – and her side for disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, intercept possessions, and inside 50s was remarkable, helping her blossom from an underrated workhorse to an bonafide star.

Ebony Antonio (12.1 disposals, 71% efficiency, 3.3 marks, 4.3 tackles, 2.7 inside 50s, 3.4 score involvements, 4 goals)

One of the classiest players in Fremantle’s squad is Antonio, who continued to bring her game-breaking ability to the fore in her fourth AFLW campaign. The foundation Docker was again lively going forward, mixing her time between half-forward and the midfield to good effect across all seven of her side’s games. The 28-year-old hit the scoreboard in four seperate outings, earning All-Australian squad honours in the process.

Sabreena Duffy (8.3 disposals, 1.4 marks, 1.6 tackles, 1 inside 50, 4 score involvements, 12 goals)

In what was a stellar season for the second-year forward, Duffy finished as the competition’s leading goalkicker (12), while also being named in the All-Australian and 22 Under 22 squads – all at just 20 years of age. A live-wire around the big sticks, Duffy may undergo quiet patches, but proved her match-winning ability with three bags of multiple goals across seven games. The most impressive was her 4.4 effort against Brisbane, with all-but two of her 10 disposals registering a score.

Gemma Houghton (11.1 disposals, 3.7 marks, 2.9 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s, 271 metres gained, 4.9 score involvements, 4 goals)

While forwards are sometimes only as good as the service provided from midfield, Houghton shredded the old adage as one the most important players to Fremantle’s structure this year. The 179cm forward target possesses great athleticism, using it to dominate in the air and double back quickly towards goal to match the Docker’s transition style to a t. The 26-year-old may still prove quite raw in her finishing, but has all the makings to continue as a dominant new-age key forward.

Hayley Miller (13.9 disposals, 2.9 marks, 4.1 tackles, 4 clearances, 3.6 inside 50s, 300 metres gained)

The perfect fold for Bowers in the engine room, Miller returned career-best numbers in almost every key stat in her fourth AFLW season as a mainstay through midfield. The 24-year-old has the 171cm frame to suit her inside midfield role, and led Fremantle for clearances and inside 50s to show her ability to keep up with the competition’s best in her vice-captain. With her rate of development on the up, Miller is gaining on the elite group of midfielders.

THE STALWART:

Kara Antonio (11.4 disposals, 76% efficiency, 3.6 marks, 5.1 tackles, 1.7 rebound 50s, 1.9 inside 50s)

If there is anyone across the whole competition who deserves the ultimate team success, it is Fremantle skipper, Antonio. The 28-year-old inaugural Docker worked tirelessly once again on the outside for her side, making the wing her own in each of Fremantle’s seven games. As an experienced head, Antonio provided great class on the ball to lead her side for disposal efficiency (76 per cent), while returning a terrific back-end to the season.

THE BIG IMPROVER:

Katie-Jayne Grieve (10.6 disposals, 1 mark, 7.3 tackles, 4 clearances, 2.3 inside 50s, 257 metres gained, 2 goals)

One of the quiet achievers among Fremantle’s midfield group is Grieve, who returned a much-improved campaign in her third AFLW season. Another strong body in the engine room, Grieve was an equal-leader for her side for clearances, while finishing second for tackles to Bowers across the entire competition. The 23-year-old is another who looked to be coming into her own in 2020, almost doubling her output in every key stat as a great forward driver.

THE YOUNG TALLS:

Roxanne Roux (6.7 disposals, 2.2 marks, 2 tackles, 5 hitouts, 2.5 inside 50s, 5 goals)

There is just something about Roux, who enjoyed an exciting debut AFLW season having previously staked her claim as an outstanding junior. The high-marking, athletic key forward/ruck showed she has all the tropes to be a real star of the future, earning a Rising Star nomination in Round 2 and missing just one game (rested) to eventually be named in the 2020 22 Under 22 squad.

Mim Strom (7 disposals, 1.4 marks, 3 tackles, 1.6 clearances, 1 inside 50, 16.3 hitouts)

Fremantle’s second pick in last year’s draft, Strom quickly became an integral part of the Docker’s line-up, taking up the primary ruck spot in the wake of injuries and hardly missing a beat across all seven games. A consistent performer, the 184cm tall played her role well throughout the season and impressed with her ability to follow up at ground level after her ruck craft was won and done. Will form a formidable partnership with Roux for years to come.

VERDICT:

There is not much to nit-pick from Fremantle’s roaringly successful season, with the Dockers making history in a year unfortunately cut short. With some exciting youngsters, developing prospects standing up, and some hardened leaders through the middle, the Dockers should fare well again after consecutive six-win campaigns. It would have been great to see them compete against the remainder of the final four, but Fremantle’s status as the competition’s benchmark this year cannot be denied.

AFL Womens Young Gun Watch: Semi-Finals

IN what is the final edition of the AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch round wrap up, we look at the four semi-finals and how each of the young guns stepped up who were born this century.

North Melbourne vs. Collingwood

North Melbourne had a couple of young guns running around in the first semi-final to be played, with forward, Daisy Bateman and first year player, Mia King both in the side. Bateman booted the first goal of the game off a nice Jasmine Garner pass, and collected 10 touches, four marks, two inside 50s and laid four tackles in the game. King copped a knock during the match but courageously came back on to finish the game with six disposals. For the Magpies, they had four players born this century, with Lauren Butler tacking up the most touches courtesy of 11, as well as three marks, three tackles and two rebounds. Mikala Cann booted a crucial goal in the second term to help turn the tide and had seven touches, two marks and laid a huge tackle to win a free kick, while Jordyn Allen (five disposals) and Alana Porter (three disposals, two tackles and two rebounds) also had moments in the loss.

GIANTS vs. Melbourne

Young star, Alyce Parker again was instrumental for the GIANTS, winning the most disposals and trying her best to haul her side to the finish line. She racked up a game-high 23 touches, as well as four marks, three inside 50s and five rebounds in a standout performance. Former GIANTS Academy member, Brenna Tarrant ran out for the opposition and enjoyed a win, picking up three touches in her third game, while former Calder Cannons’ talent, Krstel Petrevski made her debut in the final laying a tackle and having a kick. Shelley Heath returned to the side with success, picking up eight disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s, while Tyla Hanks was the best of the four young guns in the side, amassing 12 touches, six marks, three tackles and three inside 50s in the win.

Fremantle vs. Gold Coast

In a stacked game full of young guns, Fremantle and Gold Coast had five players born this century run out for each of the sides. The Dockers came out on top in a massive 70-point win, and it was the likes of Sabreena Duffy (11 disposals, three goals), Roxanne Roux (11 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two hitouts, five inside 50s and a goal) and Mim Strom (eight disposals, three marks, two tackles, 14 hitouts and one inside 50) who led the way. Emma O’Driscoll had the nine touches and six marks, while Bianca Webb also picked up eight disposals, as well as two marks, two tackles and two inside 50s in the win. For the Suns, Jacqui Yorston was a shining light in the loss, racking up 22 disposals, two marks, three tackles and a rebound, while Ellie Hampson (12 disposals, three marks and four rebounds) and Serene Watson (10 disposals, two rebounds) were impressive out of the back half. Lauren Bella (five disposals, 17 hitouts and two rebounds) did well through the ruck against her opposition one year her junior, while Dee Heslop also played in her first final with four disposals and two inside 50s.

Carlton vs. Brisbane

In the standalone Sunday game, it was Carlton that got up with a strong second half, led once against by some impressive performances from talented youngsters. Last year’s Rising Star, Madison Prespakis picked up a game-high 18 disposals, as well as two marks and two inside 50s, combining with fellow second-year player, Grace Egan (15 disposals). Lucy McEvoy kicked a game-sealing goal for the Blues to go with her 13 touches and three marks to cap off a great debut season, while defender Charlotte Wilson was reliable again with eight disposals and two rebounds. For the Lions, Lily Postlethwaite was the standout of the young brigade, having seven disposals, three tackles and three rebounds in a hardworking effort, while Isabel Dawes (seven disposals, two marks and two tackles), Nat Grider (five disposals, four tackles) and Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw (three disposals, two tackles, two inside 50s and one goal) were the others who tasted finals action.

Fremantle finishes AFL Women’s season undefeated after semi-final win

IT was a mammoth effort from the ladder leaders in Fremantle that led to a phenomenal 70-point win over expansion side, Gold Coast Suns. While the Dockers were undefeated coming into this match and the Suns with only two wins to their name, little could have expected the final margin, with Fremantle far too good at home, winning 12.8 (80) to 1.4 (10). While Gold Coast struggled under Fremantle’s wrath, the home side was clinical and if it had hit more targets inside 50 the result could have been far worse.

A relatively even first quarter saw plenty of intensity with Gold Coast competing well without Fremantle’s crowd to deter the Suns from testing the Dockers early. While Fremantle headed into the second quarter eight points up, it was a solid defensive effort from the Suns that kept them on their toes and forcing hasty kicks on goal. But after the first the Dockers came out all guns blaring, not conceding a major for the rest of the match and denying the Suns any clean penetration of their forward 50, with the side only marking once from 26 inside 50s, a real credit to the defensive pressure and constant tackling effort from the Dockers, combining for 59 tackles compared to Gold Coast’s 33 – lead by Kiara Bowers who racked up 14 to go with her 22 touches. The first saw Sabreena Duffy’s first of three, with the talented goalsneak finding plenty of the footy thanks to her tenacity while her small stature and burst of speed made her hard to stop. Jacqui Yorston and Kate Surman were solid down the field finding plenty of the ball but falling short of options inside 50, with Fremantle’s defensive pressure creating a real buffer downfield.

A four-goal second quarter sparked a significant lead heading into half-time, with near misses giving the Suns some opportunities to get on the board but going scoreless after the second minute mark, with a frustrating miss 15m out from Tiarna Ernst in reward for a brave contest – who later left the field with symptoms of concussion – that could have well and truly changed the game if it had been converted. Gemma Houghton and Kate Flood (two goals apiece) opened their account in the second, joined by young gun Roxy Roux who returned to the side after a brief stint on the sidelines, taking a 27-point lead into the main break and sending an ominous message to the competition with another all-round effort in the forward half producing a dominant performance. Hayley Miller impressed with her tenacity in a great finish to her best season yet, with her consistency clear through the midfield, collecting 20 touches, seven marks and three tackles.

While Fremantle continued to go from strength to strength, the Suns would not give up, with the likes of Jade Pregelj consistent as ever in defence, collecting an equal season-high 16 touches and contributing well to force errant kicks on goal from the Dockers. Lauren Ahrens was equally solid off the half back, managing 17 disposals and three marks in a tough contest. An interesting battle waged between rucks with young gun Mim Strom providing vital footy to her mids, managing 14 hitouts, eight touches and two tackles, while Suns’ Lauren Bella led the hitout count with 17 but did not have the backup required to propel the footy downfield, with Fremantle taking much more advantage of the tap. Gabby O’Sullivan added a second goal to her tally in the third, while a crucial kick on goal late in the third from Jordann Hickey went unrewarded, seeing the margin extend further despite all efforts.

A four-goal final quarter haul from the home side saw Fremantle well and truly shake off any semi-finals worry, with the side enjoying the 70-point victory and plenty of standouts putting the win into practice. Fremantle’s four multiple goalkickers in Duffy (who now finishes ahead of St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser as leading goalkicker in 2020), O’Sullivan (17 touches), Flood and Houghton allowed veterans the likes of Bowers, Ebony Antonio (20 disposals, eight marks, one goal) and Kara Antonio (19 disposals, seven marks) used their experience to provide plenty of footy up the field. Paige Parker was the sole goalkicker for the Suns on a tough day on the track, while Yorston and Surman both enjoyed impressive stats to finish their respective inaugural seasons, racking up 22 and 20 touches and combining for seven tackles. Dangerous forward Kalinda Howarth was unable to have her usual impact on the scoreboard, with the small forward working up the ground with Jamie Stanton, who also was rendered far less impactful than her typical work rate thanks to Fremantle’s constant pressure.

FREMANTLE 2.3 | 5.5 | 8.6 | 12.8 (80)
GOLD COAST 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.4 (10)

GOALS:

Fremantle: S. Duffy 3, K. Flood 2, G. O’Sullivan 2, G. Houghton 2, R. Roux, E.Antonio, A. Sharp.
Gold Coast: P. Parker.

ADC BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, E.Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, K. Antonio, H. Miller, S. Duffy
Gold Coast: J. Yorston, J. Pregelj, K. Surman, L. Ahrens,  J. Stanton

Suns to challenge top dog Fremantle in AFL Women’s semi-finals

GOLD Coast Suns will make history on Saturday afternoon, wth their inaugural AFL Women’s finals appearance also marking the first Suns finals berth in league history. The Suns are also the only 2020 expansion side with a finals opportunity but they come up against a tough opponent, taking on undefeated Fremantle in uncharted territory at Fremantle Oval – though having the Dockers faithful watching from home may help steer the ship the Suns’ way.

Fremantle v. Gold Coast Suns
Saturday, 21 March, 4.40pm AEDT
Fremantle Oval

The Suns will hope for a miracle when they take on the Dockers, with the home side boasting both confidence and stellar form this season. Fremantle will hope to iron out any issues early this time around, with potential flashbacks from their semi-final loss to Carlton in 2019 setting in on the eve of the match. The talent the Dockers have at their disposal this season – despite losing players to expansion team West Coast Eagles – will have the side quietly hopeful especially given their season form. Freo will need to ensure they hit the targets up forward and maintain that intensity that has gotten them to this point, with a shared effort around the ground allowing the Dockers to apply forward pressure. Kiara Bowers continues to be the leading tackler in the competition, averaging 14.2 to go with her 16.8 disposals while Gemma Houghton has had some solid moments in a real shared effort across the ground, averaging 4.8 score involvements, 3.8 marks and 7.5 contested possessions. Youngster Mim Strom has impressed in the ruck with an average of 16.7 hitouts while Philipa Seth and Angelique Stannett have proved useful with their timing and ability to find the footy and impede the opposition.

With only two wins and a draw going the Suns’ way this season, the team will need to draw from its experienced players to hold off a hungry Fremantle forward line. Kalinda Howarth has proved she can be a real threat for the Suns, and while she hasn’t kicked goals in every game this season she has been a real playmaker averaging 3.0 score involvements to go with her averaging of 1.5 goals per game – marked up from last round after a remarkable four goal haul. Jamie Stanton continues to be a real target around the ground not only for her teammates but also the opposition, leading majority of the stats for the Suns including disposals (averaging 17.7) and contested possessions (10.2). Jacqui Yorston and Jade Pregelj have been a couple of handy pickups over the offseason, with the pair playing at different ends of the field but both having a real impact on and off the footy, with Yorston hitting 7.5 tackles and Pregelj on 7.3 intercept possessions to go with her 3.7 rebounds. Lauren Bella will hope to continue her solid season form, averaging 18.8 hitouts to be the leading ruck in the competition.

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.