Tag: Monique Conti

Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 4

THE AFL Women’s season is about to pass the halfway point, with a Conference Round occurring in Round 4. Of the five games, four matches involve same-conference teams, while the cross-conference battle sees the reigning grand finalists go head-to-head in the prime time Saturday night match.

GEELONG vs. CARLTON
Saturday, February 23, 4.45pm
GMHBA Stadium

It seems somewhat strange that these two teams are the top two sides in Conference B with Carlton suffering the heavy Round 1 loss and Geelong going down in the past two encounters, but the sole victory for each side was enough to see them slot into first and second. The winner will take outright first depending if Brisbane can upset the Western Bulldogs, and go a long way to securing a finals place in the 2019 AFL Women’s competition. Carlton have been building over the past two weeks, looking more dangerous under new coach, Daniel Harford with dash and dare from defence to half-forward. Key forward Tayla Harris and young gun, Madison Prespakis both booted three goals last week and gave the GIANTS coaching staff some serious headaches. Geelong will look to counter the forward talent of the Blues, with the likes of Meg McDonald and former Blue, Madeline Keryk in great form this season. Mel Hickey and Richelle Cranston returned last week and will be keen to make a statement, while Darcy Vescio is yet to fire consistently this season and could be one in for a big game.

H2H: Geelong 0 | Carlton 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Geelong 1-0-0 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. BRISBANE
Saturday, February 23, 7.10pm
Whitten Oval

H2H: Western Bulldogs 1 | Brisbane 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Western Bulldogs 5-3-0 | Brisbane 0-0-0

In the only cross-conference game, we have a Grand Final replay between Western Bulldogs and Brisbane at Whitten Oval. It is the first time these teams have clashed at the venue, while the Bulldogs holding a 5-3 record when at home. Brisbane has the upperhand against the Dogs overall, winning both regular season games, with the Dogs’ only win between the sides coming in last year’s grand final. This game is crucial for both sides, but particularly the Bulldogs who sit in a stronger pool. The Dogs had a heavy loss against North Melbourne on the weekend and are anchored to the bottom but level with third placed Melbourne and fourth placed Adelaide. With those two sides playing the undefeated teams, the Bulldogs can jump to third spot with the right results. For Brisbane, they have a chance to try and catch Carlton and Geelong on percentage, and a win would guarantee them a top two spot after four rounds. The battle between midfield duos, Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti against Ally Anderson and Emily Bates will be fascinating, and Sabrina Frederick-Traub will be keen for a big game after being well held by Melbourne’s Harriet Cordner last week, although it does not get any easier this week with a stringent Bulldogs defence.

Last time they met: Western Bulldogs 4.3 (27) defeated Brisbane 3.3 (21) at Ikon Park, Grand Final, 2018

It was the most memorable game of last season, as the Western Bulldogs took home the AFL Women’s Premiership Cup at Ikon Park in the 2018 decider. Monique Conti was best afield for her 13 disposals (12 contested), four clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Ellie Blackburn had 17 disposals (12 contested), five clearances, three inside 50s and two inside 50s. Emma Kearney racked up 15 disposals, one mark, five clearances and a goal. All-Australian full-back Kate Lutkins had a game-high 21 touches as well as six marks, four tackles and four rebounds, while Jamie Stanton had 20 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and five rebounds.

ADELAIDE vs. FREMANTLE
Saturday, February 23, 9.35pm
TIO Stadium

Up in Darwin the Crows and Dockers clash in what could well be the game of the round. Adelaide lost to the Western Bulldogs by a point in Round 1 but have not missed a beat since, while Fremantle have opened eyes with their performances both at home and away. Now the teams clash in a game that has enormous ramifications, with the winner putting themselves in a great position for finals in the final few rounds, while the loser drops back to the back. For Fremantle, they have the extra game in hand, and could well be primed for a finals spot if they take down the Crows, while Adelaide cannot afford to lose with both Western Bulldogs and Melbourne battling with the Crows in the mid-table. Erin Phillips and Ebony Marinoff have been unbelievable this season, while Anne Hatchard was terrific last round to add an extra dimension to the midfield. Fremantle’s Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan have been a ray of consistency, while Kiara Bowers has been a terrific find for the West Australian side. Fremantle’s forward line against Adelaide’s defence will be a battle within a battle.

H2H: Adelaide 2 | Fremantle 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 1-1-0 | Fremantle 0-1-0

Last time they met: Adelaide 6.4 (40) defeated Fremantle 5.6 (36) at TIO Stadium, Round 6, 2018

In the only game at TIO Stadium in Round 6 last season, these two teams battled it out in a thriller which resulted in the “home” team getting home by four points. The Crows had lost to Melbourne in the only other game at TIO Stadium the year before, so winning in front of the passionate crowd with Northern Territory players in Crows colours was important. Erin Phillips had a day out up forward with three goals from nine disposals, while NT Thunder star Angela Foley had 15 disposals, four marks, six tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds. Fremantle ball winner, Dana Hooker had a game-high 20 disposals, three marks, six clearances, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two goals, while Lisa Webb racked up 16 touches, three marks, two clearances, five inside 50s and four rebounds.

COLLINGWOOD vs. GWS GIANTS
Sunday, February 24, 2.05pm
Morwell Recreation Reserve

After playing in Moe last year, Collingwood returns to Gippsland, this time in Morwell for the Magpies to take on the GIANTS. In contrast to many of the other games, this game is the end of the line for one team, with both sides staring down the barrel of 0-4 starts. The premiership dreams of the loser would appear to be all over for season 2019, while the winner could join two other sides in equal second with victory. Being in the weaker conference, both sides are still in contention for a finals spot, but both sets of supporters’ hopes would be soon draining. Collingwood and the GIANTS’ fanbases are keen for a win, and victory in this clash could change the course of their season. Both are quite young with the likes of Jordyn Allen and Alyce Parker both impressing for the teams after coming in as first round draft picks. Mel Kuys returns for the first game of the season post-injury and helps with the Magpies’ experience, but the loss of Ash Brazill will hurt. For the GIANTS, Nicola Barr is a huge inclusion, while Haneen Zreika also returns to add some excitement into the team. While it might not be a top two blockbuster, both teams will not leave anything behind in search of a much-needed win.

H2H: Collingwood 1 | GWS GIANTS 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Collingwood 0-0-0 | GWS GIANTS 0-0-0

Last time they met: GWS GIANTS 7.6 (48) defeated Collingwood 5.5 (35) at Olympic Park Oval, Round 3, 2018

In reversing the result at the same ground the year before, GWS GIANTS took home an important four points to hand Collingwood its third loss of the season. Former Magpie, Alicia Eva was the star with 23 disposals, three marks, four tackles, two clearances and four inside 50s, while Courtney Gum and Phoebe McWilliams both booted two goals from 15 and 12 disposals respectively. Jaimee Lambert was the top Pie with 19 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Mo Hope found some form booting two goals and Emma King was dominant in the ruck with 18 hitouts, 11 disposals, three inside 50s and four rebounds.

MELBOURNE vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Sunday, February 24, 4.05pm
Casey Fields

In the final game of the round, Melbourne hosts North Melbourne in what is a crucial game for the Demons. After a Round 1 loss at Casey Fields, Melbourne will be keen to upset the all-powerful Kangaroos who have emerged as the clear premiership favourites with three high-scoring wins. Harriet Cordner will have a big job on any one of a number of dangerous Kangaroo forwards, while the Melbourne midfield will need to win against the Kangaroos’ onball brigade if they are to be a chance of taking home the four points. Elise O’Dea and Karen Paxman continue to find plenty of the ball, while Aliesha Newman crumbs to Eden Zanker and Tegan Cunningham inside 50. The star power of the Roos might be too much considering the form of Emma Kearney, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Emma King among others, but a loss for Melbourne could see them slip eight points outside the top two, while for North, a defeat could mean they forfeit top spot. North look certain to play finals, while Melbourne would love to grab the four points against a team that has shown to be the benchmark thus far in season 2019.

H2H: Melbourne 0 | North Melbourne 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Melbourne 5-2-0 | North Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

1st : Michael Alvaro [ 11 ]
2nd : Sophie Taylor [ 10 ]
3rd : Taylah Melki [ 9 ]
Eq 4th : Peter Williams, Matthew Cocks [ 8 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
GWS GIANTS
Melbourne

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

Geelong
Western Bulldogs
Fremantle
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 3

Round 3 selections:

Geelong
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Collingwood
Melbourne

 

Michael Alvaro

Men’s Football Editor

Last week: 5

Round 4 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Fremantle
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

 

Matthew Cocks

Guest Tipster

Last week: 3

Round 4 selections:

Carlton
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
GWS GIANTS
North Melbourne

U18 Girls season preview: Calder Cannons

NEW Calder Cannons Female Talent Manager, Russell Humphrey is buoyant about the future of the Cannons after a strong pre-season with plenty of standouts. After taking out the inaugural 2017 premiership with future AFL Women’s young guns, Chloe Molloy, Monique Conti and Sarah Dargan on the list, the Cannons had a lot of bottom-agers in 2018, winning only the two games but getting better with every match. Now with another season under their belts, the Cannons are expected to improve again and with plenty of Under 16s forcing their way into the line-up, the next few years are looking good for the Craigieburn-based side.

Humphrey said while new to the role, he was a familiar face around the club, having worked with the premiership-winning girls side in 2017, before assisting the boys last season.

“I was involved in the year before so 2017 when I coached the forward line, and then last year I was moved into a different role with the boys,” Humphrey said. “From afar obviously last season wasn’t as good as the year before. “I think we noticed and we’ve have rectified it with the shape of our bodies so you’ll notice this year hopefully. We’re a different shape; we’re a little bit taller, a little bit more athletic – the competition became like that.”

Humphrey said looking at the practice game against Western Jets, and the clash between Northern Knights and Sandringham Dragons, he felt the Cannons were in a good position.

“We had some games here on Sunday and I noticed we’re a lot closer to the other sides this year than we were last year, so we’re hoping that will help us get some results going our way. “Not that it’s a result-driven competition or things like that, but when you’re playing well that’s when you get a chance to get someone drafted. “The deeper we go in the season, if we can finish in the top four, and no doubt every other club is thinking the same thing, you give your players more of an opportunity, performing in front of recruiters and list managers and everything else that goes with it. “I think we’ll improve.”

This year, Madison Prespakis has joined Conti, Molloy and Dargan in the AFL Women’s competition and already showed why she was taken as the first Victorian metropolitan pick.

“She had a great year,” Humphrey said. “She had a good year the year before as well, we always knew she was a talent. “She’s proven that already in the three games she’s played at AFLW. “Much like Monique Conti and Chloe Molloy and even Sarah Dargan this year has really showed her improvement in the AFLW, which I find quite pleasing to see Sarah going so well. “Obviously we would have liked someone else get drafted but that didn’t happen. “Maybe this year we might get a couple, but Madi’s obviously doing the work and the reward is the way she is playing her AFLW footy at the moment which is fantastic. “Especially from our end.”

While the Cannons will be minus Prespakis in 2019, Humphrey hopes the ball magnet has left a legacy with the now top-age group. Humphrey said the Futures squad of Under 16s were already promising signs for the future.

“You hope that the older girls now being in the system for three years. They’ve gone through the system … and hopefully they can lead this next group coming though. I think every club will agree their under 16s are better than what their under 16s were two years ago and probably better than the under 16s were last year. That’s what I’ve found anyway.”

Stepping up into Prespakis’ shoes is never going to be easy, but AFL Women’s Academy member and All-Australian in her bottom-age year, Georgia Patrikios has been the clear standout over the past few years.

“I think that Georgia’s attributes and her willingness to improve over the three years shows her coachability, her understanding of what needs to be done, her skill up-skilling right across the board,” Humphrey said. “It gives her a great opportunity to be in the top five. “I think if it was an open draft she could go one or two. I’m not sure how that’s going to work next year.”

Humphrey said Patrikios has plenty of tricks that will attract AFL Women’s recruiters throughout the year.

“She does a couple of things that are little bit of a ‘wow factor’. She’ll get the ball out and not kick a high ball but kick a flat ball forward to their advantage which I think is how AFLW is going to head. They are going to look for players who can do that, similar to how the men do it. I think Georgia is on the right track for that.”

Having mixed between midfield and forward last year, Humphrey hopes to use Patrikios’ agility and pace as a run-and-carry player to create a “60-metre player”.

“I can see her playing both in the mid but on the wing as well,” Humphrey said. “I think she plays her best footy on the wing so she can use her agility to get out and her leg speed to get out. “I think that one of her major assets is her leg speed. “Being inside sometimes you don’t quite see that. “But on the outside if we can get it out to her quick enough, we know she’s going to carry it 20, we know she can kick it 40, so she becomes automatically a 60m player so if we can do that, for us that is a massive, massive bonus. “We may have missed that a little bit last year because we didn’t get it out as clean as we might have liked to, but hopefully this year we can.”

Other than Patrikios, Humphrey said the Cannons had a few other players to keep an eye on throughout the season.

Krstel Petrevski has got some good attributes,” he said. “She uses the ball well, she can get it … she needs to tidy up below her knees on ground balls, but she’s getting better at it, she just needs to keep improving. “Makeisha Muller is one we got from Gippsland last year who moved into the area. I think she’s draftable, she’s an X-factor player. “She’s worked really hard in the pre-season. “We’ve tracked her with the GPS pretty much the whole pre-season because she wanted that, she wanted to know how hard she was working.

“My smokey from our point of view is Alana Barba who can play in the middle, half-back and can go forward and probably even on the wing. “I see how hard she’s working, her kick’s not elite, but it’s better than okay. “Her leg speed and ability to get out of a pack is probably second to Patrikios at times. She seems to now understand that she’s got to run both ways … I think her playing down back has helped that too.

Felicity Theodore‘s another one who’s got good leg speed. “Her only downside may be her size, but apart from that, she’s in-and-under, she doesn’t get bumped off the ball a lot, she gets it a lot, her kicking needs a little bit more depth. “But having said that, the coaching staff have been working on that at training.”

Humphrey said the coaching staff was pleased with how the girls had prepared for the upcoming season, which begins on March 2 at RAMS Arena. The Cannons face Western Jets, a side they played on the weekend.

“The preparation so far has been pretty good,” Humphrey said. “They’ve bought in what Paul‘s (Tilley, head coach) tried to teach them and what all the coaching staff is trying to teach them, which is three quarters of the battle. “We had a practice match against Western on the weekend, I know they had a few girls out and we played everyone. “The coaching staff were happy with the way we played, so that was a bonus. “We played 18 (players) one quarter, 18 for a half and 18 for the last quarter, so it was a little bit different but we were all a bit closer to our list than what they are, I think they’re another week away and that’s okay.”

One thing to expect is plenty of Futures making their way into the Cannons squad, with Humphrey naming Tahlia Gillard – a 187cm centre half-back – and Georgie Prespakis – sister of Madison but with different attributes – among a host of Under 16s to watch this year.

“When we looked at our list this year, we looked at our under 16 girls as top-age players,” Humphrey said. “What are they going to be like in 2021? “How will they go there as top-age players rather than the now. “I know everyone says it, but you like to think of this Under 16 group we could get two or three drafted again. “Which is a possibility because it will be a bigger pool with other AFL clubs coming in other years.

“Our Under 16 group is a fairly talented group … if I was to have a guess, of the nine or 10 under 16s, eight could play Round 1. “Comfortably play Round 1. “We’re not going to go overboard in it, we’ll be smart about it. “We could quite easily have six under 16s play their first game in under 18 footy in Round 1 and be confident in them doing what they’ve shown at local level.”

U18 Girls season preview: Dandenong Stingrays

DANDENONG Stingrays have their sights set on fast, attacking football this year, following the recruitment of former Carlton AFL Women’s interim coach, Nick Rutley to coach the side. Rutley coached two games in Damien Keeping‘s absence through illness, and will look to bring that experience at the elite level to the Stingrays. He has teamed up with Female Talent Manager, Matthew Crozier for the year as the Stingrays hope to kick-off how they finished off the season – with four straight wins.

Crozier himself came into the role for the first time last year and said it was fantastic to achieve two draftees – captain Jordyn Allen and Shelley Heath heading to Collingwood and Melbourne respectively via the draft.

“It was a good experience, it was a bit surreal,” Crozier said. “I’ve been in the role for 12 months and watching those girls that played in our team last year that were standout girls – seeing ‘Jordy’ run out there and strut her stuff and look to be a bit of a leader out there amongst the back six was really pleasing to see.”

Crozier said the club looked forward to the girls returning at times to motivate the next crop of AFL Women’s hopefuls.

“We’re looking to (have Allen and Heath return), Jordy has enquired about coming back down to training and maybe speaking to a couple of girls who lead the group,” he said. “We have our camp on the 24th of Feb on Sunday so hopefully we can get her down with a couple of the AFLW girls that Nick’s organised through his connections at Carlton. “But yeah, Jordy’s really a pioneer for what a leader should look like amongst the TAC Cup girls, so hopefully what Jordy’s instilled in the group as a top-ager last year is really going to transcend into our 17 year-olds and top-agers this year.”

The 2018 season saw the Stingrays lose the first five games of the year – often in tight games – before breaking through with a victory against Western Jets at Shepley Oval. That win was followed by three more to end the season with a 4-5 win-loss record.

“I think we knew we had a strong list from underneath, it was just a matter of trying to put all the bits of the puzzle together – we felt that if we had another three games left in the season we’d be pushing for top four,” Crozier said. Obviously it’s not about winning games but as a coaching group and talent coordinator sometimes you get that white-line fever. We felt that we did what we could with the group we had, our main priority was getting as many girls exposed to AFL(W) clubs and recruiters as possible and I feel that we did that the best we could – we look after that and the results took care of themselves towards the end of the year.”

Crozier said the shorter seasons allowed girls to test themselves at senior level in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition.

“It was good because it was a short sort of season and we could really attack it hard, but it was hard with injuries – if you’ve got a soft tissue injury you’re out for half the season,” he said. “I think going forward with the amount of exposure and the expanding of AFLW in the coming years hopefully it will be a stand-alone competition with the TAC Cup boys. “But at the moment for what it is, it’s a really good program. “We’re trying to get the girls back a couple of months after the season to brush up on their skills and make sure that they’re not falling behind – the ones who are coming around next year, the bottom-agers, just so once they go back to local footy their standards are still at a high level and elite level.”

Rutley said he has enjoyed getting back to a grassroots level and adapting to the different styles of the playing group.

“It’s been really good, they’re an enthusiastic bunch which is usually what you get in the female space – they love their footy or their sport in general,” he said. “It’s just getting them to get used to some different terminology, some different ways of coaching – we’ve brought in a little bit of a different look in terms of some different assistants but also, the people that wanted to be involved from last year have stayed on board which is really important to me, so we’ve got a nice little group together and pre-season so far has been good.”

Rutley said adapting into the Stingrays’ program has not been hard thanks to the tireless efforts of boys’ senior coach, Nick Cox and Male Talent Manager, Darren Flanigan.

“Nick Cox has been really good, he’s the boy’s new under 18 coach and he’s been fantastic just as a sort of reference point for me to ring up and talk about coaching, and in terms of integrating programs, all the intentions are there,” Rutley said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work like that but we’ve had a couple of sessions where we’ve been able to do some warm-ups and just some basic craft which is great. “Throughout the year we intend as coaches and maybe some players just to integrate a little bit more, especially with our top-end talent with the girls if we look to have some Vic Country representation potentially they might train on with the boys which I reckon would be a great initiative and is something that Nick spoke about. “I know with Darren Flanigan and Matty’s (Crozier) guidance we’ll be fine.”

Rutley said he could see plenty of talented players who were the future of AFL Women’s.

“This is my first year as a head coach but last year being in the AFLW space with Carlton and seeing girls ranging from 17 to 30 or even older, it’s really evident that the younger girls that have had the privilege of talent pathway programs are now benefitting from that massively,” he said. “Then you just look at the Round 1 games – we spoke about Jordy Allen, (Monique) Conti second year in, (Madison) Prespakis first game, (Nina) Morrison obviously, and there’s a list of many others. “These first or second year girls are showing by being privileged enough to have a pathway to come through, unlike our 30 plus year-old or those from other sports, it’s really telling and beneficial, and we’re only going to see a better product in years to come.”

Dandenong Stingrays are in the unique position of having two guaranteed future AFL Women’s players on their list, with top-agers, Molly McDonald and Isabella Shannon both pre-listed by the Saints who were able to do so as part of the league expansion.

“Molly was one that towards the end of last year we thought was going to be a high draft commodity in 2019 and she’s really turned herself around and started pre-season with Nick (Rutley) coming on board, she’s really taken what Jordy left and run with it and owned it herself in the sense that she doesn’t really need the coach’s direction and really wants to have this group under her own,” Crozier said. “I think from an expansion point of view, the pre-selections give three girls the Sandringham region and the Dandenong Stingrays region a really good opportunity to cement their future and be put on an AFLW list before the season starts.”

For Rutley, he hoped to adapt the fast nature of the AFL Women’s game to his side in order to better prepare the girls for the rigours of the elite league.

“The big thing for me having spoken to AFLW coaches is that they’ve stripped it right back and brought it back to its purest form in skill craft. “If you look at the women’s space and the female game, it hasn’t been alive for that long. It’s growing rapidly and it’s great and really exciting but we need to take a breath as coaches and bring it back and make sure we’re teaching the initial fundamental skills. So we’ve had a really high emphasis on that in terms of” our craft, which is every session and it’s a non-negotiable, then we entered into a bit of a game sense phase just before Christmas and we’ve really started to ramp that up now.”

Rutley said the balance between skills and fitness was something that all clubs had to manage carefully.

“It’s an absolute balance,” he said. “The words marathon and sprint get thrown around in footy, well this is a sprint – 100 per cent. We don’t have a lot of time even in our pre-season phase and we don’t have a lot of time in season so Kelly Fallon has been fantastic in setting up a really good fitness program ranging, not just on the track but also in the gym with their core strength and stability training so we’re pretty happy at the moment that we’ve got a good balance which is important.”

Dandenong had a number of strong defenders last year and it looks to be a similar case this year, with the likes of Lucy Cripps and Zoe Hill potentially being key talls in the back half, having played for Vic Country in their respective age groups in 2018.

“I hope (the defence will be a strength),” Crozier said. “We’re pretty lucky to have those sort of girls coming through the program – it’s pretty rare you get a girl like Lucy Cripps who can mark and kick the footy really well and defend really. This year we have a bit of an emphasis on defence – defence turns into attack so we try and nurture that area of the game pretty well. “But as we said, we want to throw these girls around to different positions and really expose them for the recruiters so you might see Lucy Cripps playing full forward or on-ball or somewhere where she’s not accustomed to and hopefully thrives and catches the eye of AFL(W) recruiters. “Zoe Hill is still a raw talent, only a 17 year-old so hopefully she’ll be better for it this year and next year in 2020 as well she’ll really develop under the coaching group we’ve got at the moment.”

Crozier said the club was lucky to welcome back former female football talent manager, Darren Flanigan who has replaced Mark Wheeler as the Male Talent Manager – with Wheeler moving on to Sandringham Dragons.

“It’s been good because he’s (Flanigan) sort of left us to our own devices in a sense as to it’s our program and how we want to run it, he hasn’t come in over the top which has been good but he’s always been there for myself and Nick to question him about certain things,” Croier said. “The good thing about this year is that Darren’s come back and has been able to give the girls a bit more exposure and love into matching up with the boys program. “In the past, logistically it just hasn’t been able to happen due to not having him in-house but we’re very fortunate to have him and now we have such a great facility (at Seaford), we’ve been able to use the pools and stuff like that similar to the boys so Darren has been fantastic and take no credit away from Mark Wheeler who was the previous talent manager – he was fantastic for the girls and has been a guidance for me over 12 months so they’ve both been great. “Even since Mark left he’s been on the phone giving me advice so they’ve both been great.”

Rutley said he wanted to see as many girls drafted as possible, and therefore would be playing fast, attacking football to catch the attention of recruiters.

“We just want to be exciting and fast,” he said. “I just want the girls to take risks, make lots of mistakes and enjoy their footy. “We won’t be looking to save games and hold possession or play ultra-defensive footy – we will attack on the back of our defence but I just want them to be exciting, take risks and just showcase – at the end of the day they’ve got a real want to win and that’s normal at their age and where they’re at, being competitive, and it’s our job to get a balance of development. “Success will be a by-product of that so if that happens it’s all well and good and if they’re able to do that then they’ll get extra games – if you make finals you get extra games to showcase and that’s important if you’re trying to get to the next level.”

Dandenong Stingrays kick off the season on March 3 against Eastern Ranges at Skybus Stadium, Frankston.

Team of the Week: AFLW – Round 3

ADELAIDE and Melbourne have dominated Draft Central’s AFL Women’s Team of the Week for Round 3, making up almost half of the 24-player squad. Both sides had big wins over their opposition and had plenty of individual performers, with five players apiece named in the Team of the Week. Other winners, Carlton, Fremantle and North Melbourne all had three players named in the side, while the five losing sides had just the one nominee each.

Adelaide’s Ebony Marinoff broke the league disposal record on the weekend with 33 touches and slots straight into the midfield alongside teammate, Anne Hatchard, while Chelsea Randall, Erin Phillips and Jess Foley ensure all thirds of the ground are covered. Melbourne defender, Harriet Cordner‘s work on Brisbane goalkicker Sabrina Frederick-Traub was superb and she earns a place in the team alongside regular Karen Paxman, talls Eden Zanker and Lauren Pearce, and electric small forward, Aliesha Newman.

North Melbourne had another three players make the Team of the Week with debutant Courteney Munn making the side after four goals, while Jenna Bruton and Jamie Stanton also slot into the team. Fremantle captain, Kara Donnellan was named in the centre, while Parris Laurie and Kiara Bowers also made the team. Carlton had its first trio of players in the side, with young gun, Madison Prespakis and key forward, Tayla Harris both combining for six goals in the forward half for the Blues, while Gabriella Pound was terrific off half-back.

For the five losing sides, there was not a lot to cheer about, but Meg McDonald (Geelong), Stacey Livingstone (Collingwood), Ally Anderson (Brisbane), Monique Conti (Western Bulldogs) and Yvonne Bonner (GWS GIANTS) made the squad.

Scoreboard Sweep: AFLW, SANFLW

IN this weekend’s Scoreboard Sweeo, we take a look at how Round 3 in the AFL Women’s went down, as well as the SANFL Women’s League kicking off.

AFLW results:

North Melbourne 8.5 (53) defeated Western Bulldogs 3.4 (22)
GWS GIANTS 5.6 (36) defeated by Carlton 10.5 (65)
Fremantle 7.9 (51) defeated Collingwood 2.6 (18)
Adelaide 10.6 (66) defeated Geelong 6.1 (37)
Brisbane 3.3 (21) defeated by Melbourne 9.6 (60)

  • North Melbourne’s premiership dream in its inaugural season look massively on track after destroying the reigning premiers by 31 points
  • The Kangaroos’ ball use was superb, averaging 68 per cent compared to the Dogs’ 54 per cent.
  • Former Dog, Jenna Bruton recorded a game-high 22 touches, six marks and six tackles, while Jamie Stanton had 20 disposals, seven marks and three tackles in the win.
  • Monique Conti was the sole Bulldog over 15 touches, with 16 disposals, three marks and three tackles, while Katie Brennan had 14 disposals and booted a goal.
  • Carlton won its first game in more than a year, defeating the GWS GIANTS at Blacktown – ironically the last opponent the Blues defeated.
  • The Blues looked a completely different team to a fortnight ago, running at a massive 70 per cent disposal efficiency, while winning the inside 50 count, 33-21.
  • Madison Prespakis put in a stunning performance, booting three goals from 21 disposals, four marks and two tackles, while Tayla Harris also booted three goals in arguably her best AFL Women’s game.
  • Rebecca Beeson had the most GIANTS disposals with 17, while Courtney Gum and Alyce Parker worked hard, racking up 15 touches each in the loss.
  • Fremantle looks the most likely challenger to the Kangaroos, after dominating Collingwood in the first half to post a 33-point win and remain undefeated.
  • Fremantle simply dominated for three quarters, and finished the game with 43-23 inside 50s. Had it not being for the last term, the differential would have been greater. An 11 tackles to two inside forward 50 also showed the pressure in attack by the Dockers.
  • While ball magnet Dana Hooker was relatively held to 12 disposals, Kara Donnellan went on her merry way, racking up 19 touches, while Kiara Bowers was lively again inside 50 with 15 touches, eight tackles and a goal.
  • Sarah D’Arcy looked to Collingwood’s most influential player with 15 disposals and a goal, while there were some nervous times late in the game when the Magpies’ best player so far this season, Ash Brazill came off after being sandwiched by two Dockers.
  • It was a tough game all round, but the strength of the Crows’ resolve up forward was too much for the Cats.
  • Crow Ebony Marinoff broke a disposal record, racking up 33 touches in the win.
  • Richelle ‘Rocky’ Cranston and Mel Hickey took the field as Cats for the first time, with Rocky picking up 18 touches and leading her side in the tough loss.
  • Melbourne’s five second term goals set up the big win, with Aliesha Newman bagging three in the first half and Bianca Jakobsson kicking two. Karen Paxman also kicked a goal to go with her 24 touches and four tackles.
  • Harriet Cordner held Sabrina Frederick-Traub at bay, with the dominant forward only managing four touches to go with her four tackles for the game.
  • Nat Exon and Jordan Zanchetta were dominant, picking up six tackles apiece while Ally Anderson generated 21 touches and five tackles to her name.

SANFLW results:

Woodville-West Torrens 2.4 (16) defeated by Glenelg 7.9 (51)
Norwood 2.10 (22) defeated North Adelaide 1.5 (11)
South Adelaide 6.10 (46) defeated Sturt 2.2 (14)
West Adelaide 6.7 (43) defeated Central District 3.5 (23)

  • Last year’s wooden spooners, Glenelg start the season off with a big win over newcomers, Woodville-West Torrens.
  • Glenelg record 33 inside 50s to 18 in a complete performance forward of centre
  • Kiana Lee boots 2.2 for the Eagles, showing the talent that the teenager has inside 50 despite the loss.
  • Lucy Bellinger has a day out with 23 touches, 10 marks, four inside 50s, five tackles and two goals.
  • Norwood overcomes inaccuracy in the first three terms, going from 0.9 to 2.10 in a term to secure the win over Sturt.
  • Sturt dominated the hitouts 24-14, while Norwood had 30 inside 50s to 17.
  • Norwood’s Hannah Dunn amassed a massive 29 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s for the Redlegs, while Najwah Allen booted two goals from 20 disposals
  • Roosters defender, Amber Ward had a game-high nine rebounds to go with her 17 touches and two marks
  • South Adelaide put in early claim for its premiership defence with big win over Sturt.
  • The Panthers racked up 34 inside 50s to 10, and had 16 scoring shots to four.
  • Panthers young gun Teah Charlton was damaging up forward booting three goals from 14 disposals and four marks, while Nikki Gore and Hannah Munyard both racked up plenty of the ball with 19 disposals apiece.
  • Double Blues’ former AFL Women’s player, Georgia Bevan was gallant in defeat with 12 touches, six tackles and six rebounds.
  • West Adelaide start season on high by downing newcomers, Central District.
  • The teams were evenly matched on the stats sheet, but the Bloods had the upperhand at the stoppages with 27 hitouts to 14.
  • Madison Newman and Rachelle Martin combined for 49 disposals, seven inside 50s and 10 rebounds in a dominating display for West Adelaide.
  • Jayme-Lee Sonneman topped the Bulldogs’ disposal winners in the club’s first game, notching up 16 touches and three marks.

AFLW H2H Battle: Early 90s v Late 90s

IN our first AFL Women’s Head-to-Head Battle, we have created teams of 24 players to determine which end of the 90s might prevail in a head-to-head clash. For the early 90s team, we have those AFL Women’s players born between 1990-1994, and for the late 90s, we have the 1995-1999 births. We have not included any player that made their debut in season 2019. As you will see from the two different sides, the early 90s is stacked through the forward line with a strong defence, while the late 90s midfield is very deep with strong players up both ends. It made for a very difficult task of picking just 24 players for each side, and picking a winner is just as difficult.

Early 90s – 1990-1994:

B: Nicola Stevens – Chelsea Randall – Hannah Scott
HB: Bianca Jakobsson – Elise O’Dea – Ebony Antonio
C: Alicia Eva – Kara Donnellan – Kaitlyn Ashmore
HF: Christina Bernardi – Katie Brennan – Jasmine Garner
F: Jess Wuetschner – Darcy Vescio – Brooke Lochland
R: Emma King – Dana Hooker – Jessica Dal Pos
INT: Nat Exon – Sarah D’Arcy – Jaimee Lambert –  Kate McCarthy – Sarah Perkins – Deni Varnhagen

The Early 90s team features the best of the best from 1990-1994 births, with a forward line that is All Australian quality, and an enviable spine that would win one-on-ones galore. In defence, captains, Adelaide’s Chelsea Randall and Melbourne’s Elise O’Dea hold down key spots, with Hannah Scott taking the third tall role, and the likes of Nicola Stevens, Bianca Jakobsson and Ebony Antonio providing run from the back half.

In the midfield, the early 90s team features some seriously underrated players. Fremantle duo, Kara Donnellan and Dana Hooker, GWS GIANTS’ duo Jessica Dal Pos and Alicia Eva, and North Melbourne’s Kaitlyn Ashmore fill out the starting five, with Nat Exon, Jaimee Lambert and Deni Varnhagen able to rotate through there, as would O’Dea and Jakobsson who push up the ground. With Emma King in the ruck, the early 90s would have a strong chance to win the hitouts, although the opposition midfield would be hard to combat.

Up forward, it is littered with stars from start to finish, in what is an unbelievably powerful front six. Katie Brennan and Darcy Vescio as a one-two combo would bring the crowds alone, but throw in goal machines, Jess Wuetschner and Brooke Lochland, as well as great playmakers, Christina Bernardi and Jasmine Garner who provide both defensive and offensive pressure respectively, and add a different element to the mix. Add in the likes of Sarah D’Arcy, Nat Exon, Kate McCarthy and Sarah Perkins, and the forward rotation would be the envy of any side.

Even those who missed out could consider themselves incredibly unlucky, with Rhiannon MetcalfeStevie-Lee ThompsonAmelia MullaneMeghan McDonald, Aimee Schmidt, Jacinda Barclay, Lauren Pearce, Catherine Phillips, Kate Gillespie-Jones, Brittany Gibson and Hayley Wildes among some seriously talented depth for the five years.

VS

Late 90s – 1995-1999:

B: Nicola Barr – Libby Birch – Chloe Molloy
HB: Brianna Davey – Tahlia Randall – Emma Swanson
C: Emily Bates – Ebony Marinoff – Ally Anderson
HF: Ashley Sharp – Sabrina Frederick-Traub – Monique Conti
F: Aliesha Newman – Tayla Harris – Rebecca Beeson
R: Erin McKinnon – Ellie Blackburn – Lily Mithen
INT: Deanna Berry – Brittany Bonnici – Jenna Bruton – Sarah Hosking – Breann Moody – Jamie Stanton

The late 90s team has a deep midfield that would worry any opposition midfield with its uncompromising attack on the ball and ball carrier. Around the ground the side has good options in attack and defence, and while they might not be as experienced as their early 90s counterparts, they show the future of the game over the next five to 15 years. In defence, Tahlia Randall and Libby Birch are the two key backs, with Chloe Molloy capable of playing tall or small. Nicola Barr, Brianna Davey and Emma Swanson provide the fierce attack out of the back half, with the ability to roam through the midfield too.

In the middle, talented young ruck Erin McKinnon leads a massively inside midfield brigade, with Ellie Blackburn, Lily Mithen and Ebony Marinoff likely to lay a record amount of tackles in a game between them. Brisbane pair, Emily Bates and Ally Anderson will provide support on the wings, while Sarah Hosking, Brittany Bonnici, Jenna Bruton and Jamie Stanton are able to also rotate off the bench into the team. Breann Moody would be McKinnon’s back-up ruck, and also allows Randall to purely focus on her defensive match-ups.

Up front, Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Tayla Harris join forces inside 50 as the key targets. Around their, feet speed demons, Ashley Sharp, Monique Conti and Aliesha Newman will always have defenders worried, while Rebecca Beeson is consistent as they come. Deanna Berry will add to the pace inside 50 and will add some extra running off the bench.

Among those unlucky, injured talents Jess Hosking and Isabel Huntington would make the team with some luck in the future, while Jasmine GriersonBonnie ToogoodEden ZankerEloise JonesJordan ZanchettaHayley Miller, Stephanie Cain and Maddison Gay are among those in contention for a spot in the 24-player team.

Team of the Week: AFLW – Round 2

AT the conclusion of Round 2 in the AFL Women’s season, clear ladder leaders have emerged. North Melbourne, Western Bulldogs and Fremantle have all jumped clear to eight points, showing Conference A to be the stronger of the two conferences.

Round 2 of the AFL Women’s season was highlighted by many individual performances. Elise O’Dea, Ellie Blackburn – whose five rebounds and work in the defensive half allowed us to slot the midfield dynamo onto half-back – and Dana Hooker all polled 10 coaches’ votes for their dominant midfield displays, while Adelaide’s Stevie-Lee Thompson became the third Crow behind Erin Phillips and Sarah Perkins to kick four goals in a match.

North Melbourne’s commanding performance over GWS GIANTS on Friday night saw the Kangaroos rewarded with three players in the 24-player AFL Women’s Draft Central Team of the Week, as did other winners, Adelaide, Fremantle, Melbourne and Western Bulldogs in an even team performance across the board.

The GIANTS and Collingwood had just the one nominee each, while other losers Carlton and Geelong had two, and Brisbane’s defeat still yielded three nominees in our Team of the Week.

Players who earned back-to-back Team of the Week nominations were Adelaide’s Erin Phillips, Brisbane’s Jess Wuetschner and Ally Anderson, Collingwood’s Ash Brazill, Fremantle’s Dana Hooker and Kiara Bowers, Geelong’s Meg McDonald, GWS GIANTS’ Cora Staunton, Melbourne’s Elise O’Dea and Karen Paxman, North Melbourne’s Jess Duffin and Emma King, and Western Bulldogs’ Ellie Blackburn. Among the first timers in our Team of the Week were Rising Star nominees, Madison Prespakis and Sabreena Duffy, as well as Geelong midfielder, Olivia Purcell.

Weekend previews: AFLW – Round 2

AFTER an exhilarating first round, which saw four of the five matches go down to the wire, teams prepare to tweak game styles or mix up team sheets in order to get an advantage over their opponents. Four of the first round losers face off, with Melbourne heading to Victoria Park on Saturday to face the Magpies, while Carlton hosts Adelaide at Ikon Park on Sunday. The two sides who head home without any points face an uphill battle in the race for finals action. The fifth losing side from Round 1, GWS GIANTS has its own mammoth effort – trying to take down North Melbourne who simply blitzed Carlton. A maximum of three sides can remain undefeated after Round 2 with first round winners, Geelong and Western Bulldogs, and Fremantle and Brisbane facing off over the weekend.

GWS GIANTS vs. NORTH MELBOURNE
Friday, February 8, 7.15pm
Drummoyne Oval

In the opening game of the round, new side North Melbourne fresh off a huge victory over Carlton, head to Drummoyne Oval to face the GIANTS. The GIANTS are playing just their second game at the venue, following a loss to the Blues this time last year. The battle within the contest is the All-Australian rucks going head-to-head with Kangaroos’ Emma King and GIANTS’ Erin McKinnon. North Melbourne’s midfield has great depth to it, lead by last year’s League Best and Fairest winner, Emma Kearney, Jamie Stanton, Jess Duffin and Ash Riddell, of whom the latter was ultra-impressive on debut. North Melbourne’s dynamic forward line features former Magpies, Jasmine Garner and Mo Hope, premiership-winning Bulldog Jenna Bruton, and former Lion Kaitlyn Ashmore. With the strength around the ground, it will be hard to contain the Roos if they win the midfield battle.

The one area the GIANTS could get an upper hand is through rebounding forward with an equally impressive, albeit underrated forward line. Jess Dal Pos, former Magpie Christina Bernardi and defender-turned-forward Cora Staunton are all capable of multiple goals, while Haneen Zreika was impressive on debut last week. The midfield simply has to win its fair share of head-to-heads, with Courtney Gum, Rebecca Beeson, Alicia Eva and Alyce Parker leading the way, while Amanda Farrugia, Emma Swanson and Tanya Hetherington will have big jobs coming out of defence. The Kangaroos took a massive 56 marks in last week’s huge win over Carlton, while still laying 66 tackles. The GIANTS laid just the 42 and only five in the forward 50, and will need to show more pressure inside 50 against a side capable of hurting you on the scoreboard really quickly. Both teams are generally good ball users and make the most of their opportunities so it will be fascinating to see which team can take the early advantage and put it on the scoreboard. North Melbourne will head in as favourites, but it is far from completely clear cut, and this will be a huge win for the GIANTS if they can get the job done at home.

H2H: GWS GIANTS 0 | North Melbourne 0 | Draws 0
Venue: GWS GIANTS 0-1-0 | North Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • Emma Kearney averages 20 disposals, 6.5 tackles, 4.5 clearances, four inside 50s and a goal against the GIANTS from two clashes.
  • Both AFL Women’s All Australian rucks are set to go head-to-head with Emma King taking on Erin McKinnon. In the battle between the pair last year, King won convincingly with 11 disposals and 18 hitouts to McKinnon’s three disposals and 14 hitouts.
  • GWS GIANTS’ only game at the venue resulted in a loss to Carlton last year, while North Melbourne looks to back up its only game – a huge win over Carlton last week.
  • The GIANTS have won two, drawn two and lost three games in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory.

 

COLLINGWOOD vs. MELBOURNE
Saturday, February 9, 4.45pm
Victoria Park

At one of the homes of traditional football, Collingwood hosts Melbourne in what has become a must-win for both sides. After heart-breaking losses in Round 1 despite leading at the final change, neither team can afford to go 0-2, with the reality that teams need at least four wins to secure a finals berth. A second loss means they must win four of their final five games as a minimum and with both still to play their respective conference favourites, it would spell trouble for their post-season hopes. However, for the winner, it is a chance to balance the ledger and get back on track early in the season. Collingwood has been a slow starter in year’s gone by, and has been overhauled with youth since last season, while Melbourne has also brought a number of young players into the team, furthering the development of players who got their starts last season. With both teams defensively capable, it will make for a great clash. The sides also sit at one win each in the head-to-head, funnily enough after the losing side in each game got a head start, but was run over the top of in the second halves.

Both teams have made two changes, with a debutant and a return from a long-term injury headlining the selection moves. Oakleigh Chargers’ tall, Katie Lynch comes into the side after Sophie Alexander’s concussion last week ruled her out of the game. Kristy Stratton was also ruled out through injury, with the Magpies opting to go tall by bringing in Eliza Hynes to try and stretch the Melbourne defence when forward, while rotating with Sharni Layton and Eliza Fowler. Melbourne have brought in Ainslie Kemp who has not played since 2017 due to an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear – sadly replacing Shae Sloane who suffered the exact same injury. The Dees have also brought in Ashleigh Guest for Claudia Whitfort. The key to victory for the Demons is restricting the run of Collingwood’s defence, which helped the Magpies hold up against Geelong last week with Ash Brazill causing all sorts of headaches, while Jordyn Allen was equally as impressive. They also need to clamp down on Jaimee Lambert who has the ability to turn a game with great plays, while Catherine Phillips could be the one asked to restrict Sarah D’Arcy from dominating in the air. For the Magpies, they need to be wary of Melbourne’s firepower with Tegan Cunningham and Eden Zanker likely to stretch the defence, while Aliesha Newman has pace to burn and both Kate Hore and Maddison Gay are capable of getting over the back and hurting teams on the rebound. Elise O’Dea, Karen Paxman and Lily Mithen are up there with the best midfields in the competition, and will look to control the stoppages around the ground and give their forwards early opportunities.

H2H: Collingwood 1 | Melbourne 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Collingwood 0-0-0 | Melbourne 0-0-0

Last time they met: Collingwood 9.4 (58) defeated Melbourne 3.6 (24) at TIO Traeger Park, Round 4, 2018

After booting the opening two goals of the match and keeping Collingwood goalless in the opening term, the Demons only managed 1.4 for the rest of the match as the Magpies piled on 9.4 to run away with the match by 34 points. Magpies captain, Steph Chiocchi played one of her best games under lights, booting a goal from 17 disposals, two marks, four clearances and three inside 50s, while Jaimee Lambert had a team-high 19 disposals as well as three inside 50s and two rebounds. Caitlyn Edwards and Mo Hope both booted two goals in the victory, but arguably the best performance was that of Brittany Bonnici who tagged Melbourne captain, Daisy Pearce and restricted her to a career-low nine disposals. For the Demons, Elise O’Dea was the top performer with 19 disposals, two clearances, three inside 50s and a goal, while Karen Paxman had 18 touches and three rebounds.

Fun facts:

  • Of the 42 players to take the field in last year’s clash in the Top End, just 24 players remain available for selection in season 2019. Even more remarkably, just eight players from Collingwood’s first match against the Demons – two years ago – remain on the list.
  • Elise O’Dea (17 disposals) and Karen Paxman (16.5 disposals) average the most disposals against the Magpies from their two clashes.
  • Sarah D’Arcy and Emma Grant average the most disposals against the Demons, with 10 touches apiece.
  • Both sides were in the lead at three quarter time after holding their opponent scoreless in the third term last week only to go on to lose the game in heartbreaking circumstances.

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. GEELONG
Saturday, February 9, 7.15pm
VU Whitten Oval

H2H: Western Bulldogs 0 | Geelong 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Western Bulldogs 4-3-0 | Geelong 0-0-0

In the other game that will be the first time these teams go head-to-head is between reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs and new side, Geelong. Both teams had a win in Round 1 and this weekend marks the first home game for the Bulldogs, which means they will unfurl the 2018 AFL Women’s flag in front of what is predicted to be a strong crowd at VU Whitten Oval. The winner will most certainly get an early advantage given the strength of their opponent, and it marks the first game for the sides which sees them pitted against a non-conference rival. Both teams also know how to close out tight games, having survived one-point thrillers in the opening round to secure the four points. Given their experience and depth across the field, Western Bulldogs will head in as favourites, but Geelong are expected to throw down a challenge with a couple of key players returning.

The Cats have welcomed back key forward, Phoebe McWilliams and ruck, Erin Hoare to bolster their side against the reigning premiers. Georgie Rankin and Maighan Fogas have been the two unlucky players omitted from the victorious side last Saturday night, with Fogas and key defender, Georgia Clarke named as emergencies for the clash. The Dogs will unveil Irish debutant, Aisling McCarthy who comes into the side, replacing the omitted Belinda Smith. The enticing battle will see which defence holds up the best as both sides proved to have their respective opposition’s measure last week. Co-captain, Katie Brennan booted the Bulldogs’ two goals against the Crows, while Meg McDonald, Rebecca Goring and Madeline Keryk were among the Cats’ best under pressure when the Magpies were attacking. While the heartbreaking story of Nina Morrison doing her ACL at training will dominate headlines, Geelong still has a huge core of youth including Denby Taylor, Olivia Purcell and Sophie Van De Heuvel who will face established young talents in Monique Conti and Bonnie Toogood, and first round draftee, Eleanor Brown. Co-captain Ellie Blackburn is always a crucial player for the Dogs and will look to take control in the midfield, while the Dogs’ defence of Lauren Spark, Libby Birch and Hannah Scott will provide plenty of rebound.

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The Western Bulldogs lost three consecutive matches at VU Whitten Oval in 2017, but have since won all three games they have played there, and is the Dogs’ first home game since winning the 2018 AFL Women’s flag.
  • Aasta O’Connor will play against her old side for the first time, lining up in the ruck to face Kim Rennie, while sharing the ruck duties with Erin Hoare in the blue and white hoops.
  • Ellie Blackburn averaged 16.9 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.25 tackles and 3.25 clearances last season, the most of any current Western Bulldogs player.
  • With Brooke Lochland injured for the season, Phoebe McWilliams will be the leading goal kicker from last season in the match, booting seven goals for the GIANTS.

 

CARLTON vs. ADELAIDE
Sunday, February 10, 4.05pm
Ikon Park

H2H: Carlton 0 | Adelaide 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Carlton 4-1-2 | Adelaide 0-0-0

For the first time in 2019, Ikon Park hosts a match with the Blues heading back home to welcome the Crows in a Sunday evening game. The ground has traditionally been the host of the opening game of the year between bitter rivals, Carlton and Collingwood but that has changed in 2019. These teams are both heading into the match off the back of a loss, with Carlton’s heavy defeat to North Melbourne not the ideal start to the season following a wooden spoon, while the Crows will rue missed opportunities in front of goal after booting 1.11 against the Bulldogs at Norwood Oval. Adelaide is yet to play at Ikon Park, while Carlton has made it somewhat of a fortress winning four and drawing a fifth game from its seven matches at the venue. Considering they have only won one match outside Ikon Park, it has been a comfort zone and the Crows cannot afford to take them lightly. With Adelaide in the tougher conference, they would not want to drop this game and go 0-2 to start the season, while Carlton will look for its first win under Daniel Harford who would have learnt plenty from the round one defeat.

Looking at the Round 1 matches, efficiency inside 50 looks to be key, with Adelaide having a 75 per cent scoring efficiency with 18 shots from 24 attempts, while Carlton had just 10 shots from 29 attempts – 35 per cent scoring efficiency. Both sides have impressive forward lines on paper, but they will need to convert their opportunities. Any forward 50 with Darcy Vescio, Tayla Harris and Brianna Davey – who has actually been named in defence – is going to worry opposition defenders, while Erin Phillips is as good as anyone one-on-one and is lining up at full-forward, while Chloe Scheer is a young star who will only get better. Speaking of young stars, Madison Prespakis carried the weight of the midfield on her shoulders last week and was ultra-impressive on debut, so the Crows will need to be aware of her presence. The Adelaide midfield has greater depth and the Blues should look to limit the influence of Ebony Marinoff who racked up 23 disposals and laid 11 tackles in Round 1. If Carlton can restrict her influence on the inside and win the contested ball – with the likes of Jess Hosking and Katie Loynes getting on top, it will go a long way to causing an upset. Chelsea Randall leads the defence, while the experience of Renee Forth through the midfield will be important. Carlton will need to control the ruck contest through Breann Moody, and break even in the middle, while the Crows will focus on clearance domination to give their forwards first opportunity and more importantly, those forwards need to convert.

Last time they met: Adelaide 8.7 (55) defeated Carlton 2.8 (20) at Norwood Oval, Round 5, 2018.

Adelaide flexed their muscles against the Blues when the sides were heading in opposite directions. The Crows at home booted six goals to one after quarter time to run away from the Blues, but counted the cost of the win with injuries to Erin Phillips and Courtney Cramey. Ruth Wallace booted three goals, while Eloise Jones finished with two, as Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall shared 31 disposals. Breann Moody was dominant in the ruck for the Blues with 29 hitouts from 11 disposals and four clearances, while Tayla Harris had 11 disposals, three marks and booted a goal.

Fun facts:

  • Despite winning the wooden spoon last season, Carlton has a strong record at Ikon Park, having won four and drawn one from seven attempts.
  • If Carlton lose the match, it will mark more than a year since they won their last match.
  • While she picked up an injury in the second game, Erin Phillips was everywhere in the Crows’ first win over the Blues, racking up 21 disposals and eight clearances. In the same game, Ebony Marinoff laid 14 tackles from 16 disposals, her exact disposal average against Carlton.
  • Of the Carlton players to play against Adelaide in both games, the omitted Tilly Lucas-Rodd averages the most disposals with 13.5, while Darcy Vescio averages two goals per game against the Crows.

 

FREMANTLE vs. BRISBANE
Sunday, February 10, 3.05pm
Fremantle Oval

H2H: Fremantle 0 | Brisbane 2 | Draws 0
Venue: Fremantle 2-3-0 | Brisbane 1-0-0

Both sides won against the odds in Round 1, with Fremantle toppling Melbourne in scorching weather at Casey Fields after being 14 points down at the final break, while Brisbane knocked off GWS GIANTS a fortnight after succumbing to the GIANTS in a heavy practice match loss. Both sides had plenty to be positive about last week, most importantly securing an early four points, while also having plenty to improve upon for this week. Fremantle are back at home in Western Australia, but at their only other clash at the venue, Brisbane took home the points, though it was two years ago. Both teams look to be very different to that clash, with the Lions having a host of youth coming through, as do the Dockers while also filtering in some experienced local talent. Brisbane will go in as favourites given their history in the competition, but Fremantle’s performance last week certainly raised eyebrows and showed that everyone could be underrating the Dockers.

Both sides play a different brand of football which is really exciting for this clash. In Round 1, Fremantle battered and bruised their way to an impressive contested ball style, getting the pull forward to record a huge 11 marks inside 50, while laying 10 tackles in the arc. They harassed and pressured the Demons into making uncharacteristic mistakes, laying 77 tackles in the process. The Lions have tall targets up forward, but opted for a balanced possession game and spread well around the ground. They intercepted the GIANTS 51 times and took the game on, trying to unsettle the defence with possession football, but going when required. This game could well be a combination of both styles and sets up for a huge clash. The Lions forward line is severely underrated with Sabrina Frederick-Traub the dominant key position player, while McKenzie Dowrick and Jess Wuetschner are incredibly clever and dangerous around goals. Throw in Jordan Zanchetta, Emma Zielke and the defensively-minded but strong, Lauren Arnell and the Lions front six is as good as any. Ebony Antonio and Tayla Bresland were strong in defence last week, while the midfield of Dana Hooker and Kara Donnellan are not huge ball winners, but always effective. They tackle the biggest ball-winning duo of Emily Bates and Ally Anderson who had the ball on a string last week, while the potential match-up of Kiara Bowers and Sam Virgo could be entertaining based on Round 1 form. Both teams have immensely talented youth coming through, and both teams’ first round picks, Sabreena Duffy and Paige Parker, have been named in the side.

Last time they met: Brisbane 3.4 (22) defeated Fremantle 2.3 (15) at South Pine Sports Complex, Round 4, 2018.

In a low-scoring affair that saw just one goal kicked in the first half, Brisbane held on in a thriller to win by seven points and remain on track for a grand final berth. Dynamic forward, Jess Wuetschner booted two goals from 18 disposals, three marks and four inside 50s, while Kate Lutkins and Ally Anderson both had 18 touches in the win. For the Dockers, Lara Filocamo had 18 disposals and laid five tackles. Kara Donnellan laid a whopping 10 tackles and had five clearances and 15 disposals.

Fun facts:

  • In their only clash at the venue, Brisbane defeated Fremantle by 13 points in Round 2, 2017. Fremantle has a 100 per cent winning ratio at Fremantle Oval over Victorian sides, but a zero per cent winning ratio over non-Victorian sides.
  • Jess Wuetschner has been the dominant goal kicker in the matches between these sides, averaging two goals per game.
  • Lara Filocamo averages the most disposals between the sides, with 17.5 per match.
  • Both sides won their opening round matches by less than a kick, with Fremantle getting a dress rehearsal for the scorching West Australian heat, winning at Casey Fields in 38 degrees Celcius.

 

DRAFT CENTRAL TIPPING

Leaderboard:

Eq. 1st : Sophie Taylor, Matthew Cocks [ 3 ]
Eq. 3rd : Peter Williams, Taylah Melki, Michael Alvaro [ 2 ]

 

Peter Williams

Chief Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Collingwood
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Taylah Melki

Assistant Chief Editor

Last week: 2

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
Brisbane

 

Sophie Taylor

Women’s Football Editor

Last week: 3

Round 2 selections:

North Melbourne
Melbourne
Western Bulldogs
Adelaide
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Weekend preview: AFLW – Round 1

FOOTY is back and for the first time, 10 AFL Women’s clubs are preparing to achieve the ultimate glory. Each week we will preview and review the games, provide a Team of the Week, Draftee Watch piece and analyse the week’s statistics, as well as plenty more for the third season of the competition. Stay tuned on Draft Central for all the coverage.

GEELONG vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, February 2, 6.40pm
GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

The opening game of the AFL Women’s season has a massive question mark for both sides. On one side of the head-to-head is a brand new team with no historical data at the elite level, aside from some of the players who have crossed from other clubs. On the other side is a team that has been gutted in terms of experience, especially in the forward half, but has picked up a number of elite young kids as well as players who can have an impact in the short-term. Playing in front of a home crowd will help the Cats in their inaugural clash,  while the Magpies will be keen to finally get a good start to their season after two losses in opening round games. Both teams are deemed to be in the “weaker” conference – by means of avoiding both past premiers and the heavily stacked North Melbourne – and a win against a conference rival is vitally important in the stakes for securing a top four place. The advantage both these teams have is the fact much of their core group played VFL Women’s together, and therefore in terms of team chemistry over a 12-month period are well adjusted.

Both teams head into the clash with key personnel out, as Collingwood’s Best and Fairest and 2018 AFLW Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy unavailable for the season, while Richelle Cranston will miss the first two rounds through suspension.  When talking about key youth, it is hard to look past some of the talent both clubs picked up in the draft. Geelong looked to its TAC Cup affiliate to select number one pick, Nina Morrison, as well as premiership teammates, Olivia Purcell and Denby Taylor. Add in talented GWV Rebels, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke, as well as Murray Bushrangers’ inside midfielder and defender, Rebecca Webster, and the future is very bright at the Cats. The Magpies also heavily invested in the draft, picking up two first rounders in Dandenong Stingrays’ captain, Jordyn Allen and Oakleigh Chargers’ tall, Katie Lynch. Expected to play up opposite ends, they are well complemented by Eastern Ranges’ speedster, Mikala Cann who 12 months ago was yet to play a competitive match of football. Versatile youngster, Lauren Butler is also expected to become a key feature in the Magpies’ side. With Geelong having the likes of Bec Goring, Madeline Keryk, Julia Crockett-Grills and Meghan McDonald among their contingent of impressive VFLW performers last season, they have a cohesive unit. The Magpies will look to the experience of captain Stephanie Chiocchi, Emma Grant, Sarah D’Arcy and Jaimee Lambert to lead the young side this season.

H2H: Geelong 0 | Collingwood 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Geelong 0-0-0 | Collingwood 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The game marks the first ever AFL Women’s game at GMHBA Stadium, the first time Geelong’s AFL Women’s side will play a match for premiership points, but the third consecutive year Collingwood will be involved in the opening match of the season.
  • Unfortunately for the Magpies, the opening match of the season has not been kind for them, losing both games to Carlton at Ikon Park, albeit in a much closer game in 2018.
  • The last time these two teams played in any form was the VFL Women’s Preliminary Final, which saw the Cats upset the minor premiers to bundle the Magpies out in straight sets and head into the decider against Hawthorn. Collingwood’s loss was compounded by an injury to 2018 Rising Star winner, Chloe Molloy that would keep her out of the 2019 AFL Women’s season.
  • Collingwood booted 42 goals in season 2018. Players that contributed 36 of them are now either no longer on the Magpies’ list, or injured (Chloe Molloy – one).

 

ADELAIDE vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, February 2, 8.10pm
Norwood Oval, Adelaide

The game of the round is surely the match between the two AFL Women’s premiers. The 2017 champions, Adelaide take on the reigning premiers, Western Bulldogs in an evening game at Norwood Oval. Last season was a remarkable story for the Bulldogs, who overcame some key injuries, and the suspension of captain, Katie Brennan to topple Brisbane in the 2018 AFL Women’s decider. Adelaide would have been disappointed to not make the decider, but considering their injuries at different times, it was worth applauding their never-say-die attitude. A loss to Collingwood in the final round knocked them out of the race to go back-to-back, but they are now hungry as ever and keen to make amends in this match.

Both teams lost key players to long-term injuries in practice games a fortnight ago, with Adelaide’s number one ruck, Rhiannon Metcalfe and Western Bulldogs’ league leading goalkicker, Brooke Lochland both out. While the Crows will look to try and fill the void in the ruck, the Dogs certainly showed they have no shortage of forwards who can step up, and could turn to the likes of West Australian, Kate Bartlett who comes into the team with great forward nous at Under 18s level. Adelaide do have some serious firepower returning to the team with a fully fit Erin Phillips, and a dangerous youngster by the name of Chloe Scheer causing headaches inside 50. Adelaide could have the edge in the midfield given its depth with Phillips, Ebony Marinoff and Chelsea Randall all running through there, but the Dogs’ key position players could stretch the Crows’ defence. If the Crows can keep it from the Dogs talls getting supply, then it will go a long way to deciding the match, but if the Dogs get on top of the Crows’ highly rated midfield, then they will be able to put on some serious scoreboard pressure. In saying that, the Dogs’ midfield is far from shabby itself with Ellie Blackburn and Monique Conti among the most talented in the competition. It all adds up to being a cracker of a match.

H2H: Adelaide 2 | Western Bulldogs 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Adelaide 2-2-0 | Western Bulldogs 0-1-0

Last time they met: Adelaide 6.5 (41) defeated Western Bulldogs 5.4 (34) at Norwood Oval, Round 3, 2018

Trailing the entire game, the Crows found something special in the final term to overrun the Bulldogs at home by just seven points. Chelsea Randall picked up 24 disposals (15 contested), had five rebounds and laid six tackles, while Ebony Marinoff laid a whopping 15 tackles on her way to 21 disposals, four inside 50s and five rebounds. But the inspiration was inaugural league best and fairest winner, Erin Phillips. The star played exclusively forward and had 15 disposals, but booted four of the Crows’ six goals to single-handedly dominate up forward and show Crows fans that there was going to be no second year blues – until injury unfortunately struck. Jenna McCormick booted the other two goals for the Crows, while for the Bulldogs, Katie Brennan was the multiple goalkicker with two from nine touches and three marks. Emma Kearney (20 disposals, three marks, three clearances, three inside 50s, five rebounds and six tackles) was everywhere, as was Ellie Blackburn (17 disposals, five clearances, five tackles and four inside 50s).

Fun facts:

  • Ebony Marinoff averages 19.5 disposals, four clearances, 10.5 tackles and four inside 50s against the Western Bulldogs from two clashes, the most of any Crow.
  • Now North Melbourne skipper, Emma Kearney averaged the most touches against the Crows in both meetings, with Ellie Blackburn set to take over the mantle, averaging 18 touches, four clearances, four tackles and five inside 50s from two games.
  • It is the first time two AFL Women’s Premiers have met in the history of the competition.
  • Western Bulldogs are yet to lose an opening round match in the AFL Women’s season.

 

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, February 3, 1.05pm
North Hobart Oval, Hobart

The second history making match for Round 1 sees one of the premiership favourites, North Melbourne take on last year’s wooden spooners, Carlton. Both head into the game with relative different looking sides. The Kangaroos strategically targeted experience, picking up players from other AFL Women’s sides as part of the free agency and expansion period, while Carlton headed to the draft. As such, the Kangaroos head into the game as strong favourites in the clash, and their pre-season victory over Melbourne did nothing to sway opinions from the fact they will be a contender this season. Carlton took it up to Geelong at times in the practice game, but much like at times last season, it is just finding some four quarter consistency. The strong football state of Tasmania will get around the clash which is the first of the AFL Women’s competition, and with a number of local talents wearing blue and white, expect there to be a strong contingent of home support.

With no past head-to-head clashes to go by, there are plenty of questions leading into this clash. The biggest question mark is that of the Kangaroos and how they will gel with so many players from other teams. They brought over key Magpies, Emma King, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Mo Hope to supply their forward line and ruck division with power, while securing the biggest name from the 2018 season in Emma Kearney – the league best and fairest winner – to come across from the Dogs. Carlton has the potential to have the best one-two forward combination in the league with Darcy Vescio and Tayla Harris, but it is just getting the talented duo to click. With the midfield and forward half boosted by young guns, Madison Prespakis, Abbie McKay and Emerson Woods, and the defence sured up by Collingwood VFLW captain, Jess Edwards, as well as Charlotte Wilson and Jayde Van Dyk, Carlton’s future is looking bright. Realistically, it will take an unbelievable effort to knock off North Melbourne, but Blues fans will be keen to see what new coach, Daniel Harford can do to create more scoring opportunities – something the Blues lacked last season. A four-goal practice game by returning captain, Brianna Davey gave fans a hint of what to expect, creating all sorts of headaches for opposing teams.

H2H: North Melbourne 0 | Carlton 0 | Draws 0
Venue: North Melbourne 0-0-0 | Carlton 0-0-0

Last time they met: N/A

Fun facts:

  • The match marks the first official match to be played in Tasmania, with the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos opening their season in the Apple Isle, and of course marking their first match in the competition.
  • Carlton’s Brianna Davey has averaged 21 disposals, five rebounds and 2.5 inside 50s in her two opening round clashes, as Carlton beat arch-rivals Collingwood under lights on both occasions.
  • Darcy Vescio booted four goals in the inaugural AFL Women’s match in 2017, before being held goalless by debutant, Chloe Molloy last year, who would go on to win the Rising Star Award.
  • North Melbourne captain, Emma Kearney has averaged 22 disposals, six marks, five clearances and six inside 50s in her two matches against Carlton.

 

MELBOURNE vs. FREMANTLE
Sunday, February 3, 3.05pm
Casey Fields, Cranbourne

With predicted temperatures around the south-eastern suburbs predicted to be mid-to-late thirties, fans heading to the clash between Demons and Fremantle are recommended to stay hydrated. The game at Melbourne’s spiritual home, has become a fortress of late, winning five of a possible six games, including a thrashing victory over their Round 1 opponents back in 2017. Last year the Dockers got the better of Melbourne over in the west, using straight goalkicking to get the job done early in the season and chalk up a win against a premiership contender. The Demons have always been thereabouts, just missing out on the deciders, while Fremantle has had disappointing starts to the seasons which have ultimately cost them. With a new coaching panel and new-look side, Fremantle will be keen to topple the Demons at their home ground, especially a Demons side minus Daisy PearceMel Hickey and Richelle Cranston, among others.

Both teams are bringing in some serious young talent this season, with the Demons looking to the likes of Gippsland Power co-captain, Tyla Hanks and Northern Knights captain, Maddy Brancatisano. Both have incredible work ethics and a desire to just hunt the footballer and play their role, potentially being future leaders at the club. Throw in Dandenong Stingrays’ speedster, Shelley Heath and Casey Demons slick ball user, Casey Sherriff and the Dees have added some speed and skills to their inside grunt and contested ball-winning ability. The Dockers have also added some great local talent to their stocks, led by West Australian Under 18s state captain, Sabreena Duffy as well as overagers, Matilda Sergeant and Jasmin Stewart. The big question mark regarding Fremantle is how they will line-up as the off-season seemed to be a clean-out of sorts through their own choosing, whereas Melbourne lost players due to free agency and expansion. The difference in this game could well be the top-end star factor of the Demons, with Karen Paxman, Lily Mithen, Bianca Jakobsson and Elise O’Dea all roaming through the midfield at times. With Eden Zanker providing a target up forward, they have good depth across the ground, The Dockers have Kara Donnellan and Dana Hooker amongst their arsenal, but with a relatively new-looking side, it will be fascinating to see how they perform.

H2H: Melbourne 1 | Fremantle 1 | Draws 0
Venue: Melbourne 5-1-0 | Fremantle 0-0-0

Last time they met: Fremantle 6.0 (36) defeated Melbourne 4.7 (31) at Fremantle Oval, Round 3, 2018

Fremantle had to come from behind twice as they held Melbourne to a combined one behind in the second and fourth quarters, kicking the only two goals of the final term. In a display of precision accuracy, the Dockers did not kick a behind all game, and after not scoring in the opening term, booted six straight goals to secure a win at Fremantle Oval. Kara Donnellan and Lisa Webb both picked up 17 disposals, while Emily McGuire booted two goals. For the Dees, Daisy Pearce had another day out with 24 disposals, three marks, five clearances and four inside 50s, while Tegan Cunningham booted two majors in the loss.

Fun facts:

  • Since losing their inaugural AFL Women’s Round 1 clash to Brisbane at Casey Fields, Melbourne has not lost a game, winning five consecutive matches at the venue, including a nine-goal win over Fremantle in 2017.
  • Both sides are likely to head into the clash very different to the previous encounter with a maximum of 13 players each from their sides of 21 just 12 months ago, still on their respective lists.
  • Dana Hooker averaged 17 disposals (11 contested) and 5.5 tackles in her two matches for the Dockers against the Demons, and was Fremantle’s best player in the disastrous 54-point belting back in 2017.
  • Melbourne will need to find a way to replace the influence of Daisy Pearce, who has been a headache for the Dockers in the past, averaging 25 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and 3.5 inside 50s.

 

BRISBANE vs. GWS GIANTS
Sunday, February 3, 4.05pm
Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, Moreton Bay

The final game of the round pits back-to-back grand finalist, Brisbane against the team they knocked out of the decider contention in the final round last year, GWS GIANTS. The quirky fact between these teams is they have played each other four times – twice in the pre-season and twice in the regular season. On both occasions, GWS has triumphed in the pre-season practice matches, while Brisbane has got the job done – and convincingly so – when playing for premiership points. The GIANTS average just two goals per game against the Lions during the season, and they will be keen to repeat the effort of a fortnight ago when they were too good for the young Lions. Brisbane has played just the one game at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex – the Lions new home for 2019 – which was a disappointing and almost season-defining loss to Collingwood, whereas the GIANTS are yet to run out at the venue.

Both teams have young line-ups coming through with the teams losing players such as Kaitlyn Ashmore, Jamie Stanton and Tahlia Randall (Brisbane), and Phoebe McWilliams and Renee Forth (GIANTS). They have also picked up some experience with Brisbane scooping up Lauren Arnell from Carlton and the GIANTS adding Magpie, Christina Bernardi to its forward mix. Heading to the draft, the GIANTS picked up one of the most decorated and talented juniors in Alyce Parker who will slot straight into the midfield and undoubtedly be a key cog in that onball division. Former netballer, Taylah Davies is already looking like a valuable pick-up for the GIANTS, while Haneen Zreika hit the scoreboard in the practice match as well. Any team with Alicia Eva, Jessica Dal Pos and Amanda Farrugia has to be respected. Brisbane’s forward power with Sabrina Frederick-Traub and Jess Wuetschner is always going to be a key consideration for opposition coaches, while Lions coach Craig Starcevich has the luxury of bringing up his Queensland Under 18 young guns into the senior team at draft time. All Australian ruck Lauren Bella, state captain Natalie Grider and key Queensland players Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw, Jade Ellenger, Tori Groves-Little and Jacqui Yorston join West Australian, McKenzie Dowrick as the future of the Lions.

H2H: Brisbane 2 | GWS 0 | Draws 0
Venue: Brisbane 0-1-0 | GWS 0-0-0

Last time they met: Brisbane 10.4 (64) defeated GWS GIANTS 3.6 (24) at Blacktown ISP, Round 7, 2018.

With an AFL Women’s Grand Final spot on the line, it was the Brisbane Lions who were all over the GIANTS, running out 40-point winners to keep their premiership dreams alive – albeit with their fate in Collingwood’s hands. The GIANTS had improved remarkably from the inaugural season, but fell short of a grand final place, and will have rued that final game over the summer. Ally Anderson and Emily Bates had days out against the GIANTS, collecting a combined 46 disposals, seven marks and eight clearances. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick-Traub was unstoppable with four goals to go with 18 disposals, five marks and five hitouts. Jess Wuetschner was equally as impressive with three majors from 11 touches, doing all the damage at ground level. For the GIANTS, Alicia Eva tried her best with a team-high 18 disposals, three marks, six tackles and five inside 50s, while Jessica Dal Pos and Amanda Farrugia were the next highest ball winners with 14 apiece.

Fun facts:

  • Brisbane has played just the one match at Moreton Bay Sporting Complex, and unfortunately it was one to forget, losing to Collingwood in Round 6, 2018. It put their premiership aspirations in serious doubt, before ironically the Magpies knocked off the Crows in the final round to hand the Lions a second consecutive Grand Final berth.
  • The Lions bounced back from the above loss with that 40-point win over GWS in the last round, knocking out the GIANTS from Grand Final contention, and replacing them in the decider.
  • In the two games against the GIANTS, Sabrina Frederick-Traub has booted five goals, whereas the entire GIANTS team have booted just the four.
  • Emma Swanson averages the most disposals for a GIANT against the Lions, at 15, while Jessica Dal Pos averages 13 touches per game.

Future is bright for women’s football

IF anyone ever had any doubts about the future of AFL Women’s, then they need look no further than this week’s V/Line Cup. The best 14-16 year-olds from across regional and rural Victoria tackled each other in Gippsland in the annual tournament held at Moe, Morwell and Traralgon. Walking away from the event, I was blown away by the quality of the competitors, not just in terms of skill development, but in terms of game smarts and decision making.

Put it down to coaching, natural development or other factors, the women’s game is growing, fast. Having watched the inaugural TAC Cup Girls competition in 2017, you had your absolute standouts like Chloe Molloy and Monique Conti tearing it up for Calder Cannons, and everyone had been talking about Isabel Huntington for years. Then there were the next group of talented players that made their way onto AFL Women’s lists such as Maddy Guerin, Sarah Dargan, Iilish Ross, Bridie Kennedy and Georgia Gee, plus others.

Fast forward 12 months, and attending the TAC Cup Girls competition in 2018, I attended 26 matches in the nine round season, and instead of having two or three unbelievable players, that had grown into double figures – that is, of players who could seriously impact at senior level almost immediately. Geelong Falcons duo Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell were outstanding against their peers, and had no troubles finding the ball at higher levels. Mikala Cann is a perfect example of how players from other sports can adapt in such a short amount of time, while Emerson Woods joined Cann as a premiership player at senior level.

Even at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, having witnessed all the games on the Gold Coast, you saw those players who had starred at TAC Cup Girls level, go up to face the best players from across the country. Talents like Alyce Parker, McKenzie Dowrick, Nikki Gore, Nat Grider, and Chloe and Libby Haines showed why they had been held in such high regard in their respective states. All of the above earned invites to the National Draft Combine.

But what was just as pleasing at those championships, was the development of the bottom-age players who shone through. It is hard to believe the likes of Georgia Patrikios, Gabby Newton, Lucy McEvoy, Lily Postlethwaite, Montana McKinnon, Mia King and Mikayla Bowen should all be running around on the Gold Coast for their respective states again next year. Remarkably, the 2020 draft crop already has names that are worthy of representing their state, as Abbey Dowrick, Abbie Ballard, Netty Garlo and Zimmorlei Farquharson were among those double bottom-agers who still matched it with more experienced players. Add in the likes of Ellie McKenzie, Isabelle Pritchard, Renee Saulitis and Tyanna Smith who were all impressive for the Victorian Under 16s outfits, and the foundations for the future are certainly there. An extra element will be the possible father-daughter selections, with Abbie McKay (Carlton) being the first possible case study this year, while Tarni Brown (Collingwood) and Alice Burke (St Kilda) loom as two more.

While we will go into more detail about the V/Line Cup recap next week, the overall standard of the competition was arguably equal to or even better than the 2017 TAC Cup competition. Or in other words, the players are two to three years more advanced than their predecessors. In the Geelong Falcons game against Bendigo Pioneers, there were two players that were worth highlighting even early on in the game. In one instance, a player was against two opponents just inside 50 and the easiest option would have been to bring the ball out and cause a forward stoppage. Instead, she tapped the ball in front of her, not taking possession, but maintaining speed, and kept dribbling it ahead of her pursuing opponents, then without even taking possession, managed to kick it off the ground into the goal square, where a teammate soccered it through.

The second example was even better, and exemplified the game sense that players have developed over time. A player had the ball tight against the boundary line under pressure not far from the behind post. In year’s gone by, regardless of competition, most young players, especially at the age where goals are usually the only statistical measure you can brag about to your mates on the league website, would blaze away and go for the miracle snap. With so many opposition players inside 50, it would have been the easy option, and no-one would have blamed her for doing so. Instead, she calmly assessed her options and spotted a teammate amongst the chaos about 25m out, sending a nice kick to her advantage, setting up an easy shot on goal. Without being their live, you do not see these things, but it is little moments like that, which make all the difference.

Another example, just to show it was not just one game, was on the second day when a Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy (GWV Rebels region) player won the ball at half-back. She won the ball in defence, had an opponent chasing her from a 45-degree angle to close her down, and backed her speed to take her on and get around her. She did just that, but looking ahead, the opposition had blocked up the easiest option along the wing. She would have to kick long to a contest, probably outnumbered. Instead she briefly glanced inside and in one of the toughest kicks to do, managed to hit that kick around her body to the defensive 50 where a teammate marked, and not only was it an effective kick, but it opened up the corridor, and the game, with the opponents already set in running towards the wing.

Aside from the few examples, there was more contested marking, more protecting of ball drops and ground balls, more fend-offs, more deft taps to teammates. Areas in which players generally do not always think of as first options. But the past week, it was happening more and more. There is no doubt there has been some serious critics of women’s football, and no doubt that will continue, but if you can stop and look hard enough, you do not have to look too far to see the game is blossoming, and I for one, am excited for what 2019 and beyond holds.