Tag: Nicole McMahon

Milford’s half dozen grabs VFLW goalkicking lead as Smith remains top tackler

IMOGEN Milford‘s six-goal haul during Casey Demons’ win over Hawthorn on the weekend has seen the forward grab top spot on the VFL Women’s goalkicking leaderboard. The 21-year-old tall has slotted 12 goals in her seven games, but really helped chalk up her numbers in 2021 with the half dozen majors in Round 7.

Milford now holds a three-goal lead over Port Melbourne’s Sophie Locke who has missed the past couple of games through injury, and then seven players are on eight goals apiece. Among them are the likes of AFL Women’s listed pair Brooke Brown (North Melbourne) and Bella Smith (Collingwood) who have achieved that feat in just four games each.

In terms of ball-winners, Casey Demons Eliza West has taken over in the absence of the injured Georgia Nanscawen, as West averages 22.3 disposals per game. She has picked up 12 more disposals than her nearest rival, Geelong’s Paige Sheppard, with North Melbourne trio, Meagan Kiely, Molly Eastman and Sarah Skinner surrounding Nanscawen to round out the top six disposal winners.

In terms of tackles, Tamara Smith is the only player to reach 80 so far this season, with the Geelong midfielder laying 81 tackles at an average of 11.6 per game. Port’s Courteney Bromage is not far behind with 74, ahead of Williamstown’s Ashlea Melnikas, and Nanscawen – who has a game and a half less than her rivals – in fourth. Sheppard also features inside the top 10, averaging 7.6 tackles per game.

In terms of rucks, Collingwood’s Sarah King has put down 141 hitouts, overtaking Casey’s Maggie Caris (135) who missed a match two games ago. Darebin Falcons’ Sidney Cubasch and Western Bulldogs’ Nicole McMahon have arguably been the two top performing rucks this season, and they faced off on the weekend, with the end result seeing them both finishing the round on 128 hitouts at 21.3 per game.

Darebin’s Samara David holds the lead in terms of marks, taking 32 this season at 4.6 per game, one more than Kiel. Southern Saints’ forward/ruck Tara Bohanna has the 29 marks in season 2021, ahead of Geelong’s Claudia Gunjaca, North Melbourne’s Airlie Runnalls and Western Bulldogs’ Simone Ruedin.

In terms of Draft Central (DC) points – the basic AFL Dream Team calculations without free kicks factored in – Bohanna and Kiely are the top players to have played every game, with 72 DC points thus far for the 2021 season. Skinner (66), West (64), Sheppard (64) and Eastman (64) are the others with more than 55 points and have played every game, whilst Nanscawen is up at 68 per game from her five-and-a-half matches. Brenna Tarrant‘s five-goal haul in Round 1 has netted her the highest pure DC point total with 92 from that game, whilst Jess Matin (87) and the returned Nicole Callinan (81) rounding out the top three.

2021 Draft Central’s VFL Women’s Team of the Year: Round 6

AS the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition prepares to restart after the Easter Weekend break, Draft Central, in conjunction with Women’s Australian Football Radio (WARF) has compiled a Team of the Year to date in Round 6. It is an even spread across the board with eight of the 12 competing teams recording two players, and the remaining three sides having the one representative in a realistic, 16-starter and four-bench side.

Ladder leaders Port Melbourne have two players in the side, with ex-Murray Bushrangers talent Sophie Locke named in the forward pocket, and experienced former AFL Women’s player in Mel Kuys in the centre. The other undefeated side in Collingwood just has the one player in there, with forward Imogen Barnett making the team after booting eight goals in the first five games, one less than leader Locke. In between the pair of forwards is Hawthorn’s Jessie Williams who straightens the team up at full-forward, the sole Hawk in the team.

At half-forward, ex-Cannon Alana Barba earned a place in the side with the inside midfielder booting a goal a game in her first five games to book a starting spot on the flank. She was named in the side with fellow midfielder Georgia Nanscawen with the ex-Roo named ruck rover. The other onballer in the side is ex-Geelong Falcon Paige Sheppard, with the rover’s teammate Tamara Smith – another ex-Bushranger – named on the bench. In the ruck is Western Bulldogs’ Nicole McMahon who has been superb all season, whilst teammate Simone Ruedin has been a rock in defence.

Holding up the fort at full-back is Carlton’s Jennifer Lew, who is in the back six with another Blue in Akayla Peterson, who has spent time at both ends, also kicking three goals this season. Ex-Magpie Grace Buchan is in the back pocket but instead for Casey Demons this season, whilst teammate Eliza West is on the interchange. At half-back, Williamstown’s Erin Meade will provide some run for the hypothetical team, whilst centre half-back Meagan Kiely rounds out the defence. The North Melbourne tall is in the side with talented Tasmanian goalkicker Sarah Skinner, with the reigning TSL Women’s league best and fairest winner making an impact at VFL Women’s level.

The last remaining starting player is centre half-forward Tara Bohanna with the Southern Saint able to chop out in the ruck when forward. She should not need to though, with Darebin Falcons’ sole representative in Sidney Cubasch to provide that rotation with McMahon, whilst Bohanna’s Saints’ teammate Hannah Stuart rounds out the interchange. In terms of emergencies and those unluckiest to miss out, it is a trio of defensive players in Southern Saints’ Rebecca Neaves, North Melbourne’s Molly Eastman and Darebin Falcons’ Gena Lawson-Tavan.

DRAFT CENTRAL’S VFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE YEAR: ROUND 6

B: Simone Ruedin (WB) – Jennifer Lew (CAR) – Grace Buchan (CD)
HB: Akayla Peterson (CAR) – Meagan Kiely (NM) – Erin Meade (WILL)
C: Mel Kuys (PM)
HF: Alana Barba (ESS) – Tara Bohanna (SS) – Sarah Skinner (NM)
F: Sophie Locke (PM) – Jessie Williams (HAW) – Imogen Barnett (COLL)
R: Nicole McMahon (WB) – Georgia Nanscawen (ESS) – Paige Sheppard (GEE)
INT: Sidney Cubasch (DF) – Tamara Smith (GEE) – Hannah Stuart (SS) – Eliza West (CD)

EMG: Rebecca Neaves (SS) – Molly Eastman (NM) – Gena Lawson-Tavan (DF)

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

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

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

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

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

GOALS:

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

BEST:

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

2021 VFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Revamped state league returns after lost season

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition returns this weekend, with a revamped structure seeing the season run concurrently with that of the AFL Women’s (AFLW). As somewhat of a reserves league to aligned sides in the top flight, the VFLW features 12 teams in 2021, including Port Melbourne after the Borough took on Richmond’s license. Round 1 sees fixtures spread evenly over Saturday and Sunday, starting at Arden Street as North Melbourne hosts Port Melbourne.

North Melbourne vs. Port Melbourne
Saturday February 27, 10:00am
Arden Street Oval

North Melbourne welcomes competition newcomer, Port Melbourne to the VFL Women’s on Saturday morning as the two sides open season 2021 at Arden Street Oval. While still a proud standalone club, the Borough has taken on Richmond’s VFLW license and will thus have access to Tigers players who miss out on AFLW selection. Likewise, North Melbourne’s top flight alignment will see some senior listed Kangaroos line up in the blue and white each week.

The likes of Richmond forward Christina Bernardi and Melissa Kuys will be among the experienced names set to lead the Borough’s efforts, while an all-Richmond half-back line of Hannah McLaren, Sarah Sansonetti, and Laura McClelland should prove difficult to budge. Murray Bushrangers graduate Sophie Locke is another exciting young talent in Port’s side, named in the back pocket.

New Roo Katelyn Cox is set for a reserves outing in North’s midfield, lining up next to Meagan Kiely and Bethany Lynch with Lexi Hamilton a handy ruck to be roving under. Nikki Wallace, another with AFLW experience lines up in defence and Brooke Brown gets a gig at the other end of the ground. Brown was taken by North Melbourne as a surprise father-daughter selection in 2020.

Expect North Melbourne’s hardness and pressure around the ball to be a real feature, as Port looks to bring an exciting transition style to the fore in what should be a competitive start to the 2021 season.

Geelong vs. Collingwood
Saturday February 27, 12:00pm
Deakin University, Geelong (Waurn Ponds)

AFLW-aligned sides Geelong and Collingwood go head-to-head at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds on Saturday afternoon, looking to start their campaigns on the right foot. Both sides boast a strong mix of youth and experience in their Round 1 lineups, with the Cats benefitting significantly from their alignment to the top flight when it comes to the young talent at their disposal. Collingwood, of course, remains the reigning premier after the 2020 season was scrapped.

Among the exciting brigade of up-and-comers, Olivia Barber has been named at full forward and will spearhead the attack alongside skipper, Michelle Fedele. Paige Sheppard is poised to make her return to football in the hoops, named among an exciting midfield with Cats AFLW youngsters Laura Gardiner, Darcy Moloney, and ruck Rene Caris having all gained experience at senior level.

Collingwood’s tall stocks should trouble the Cats, particularly up forward. Senior ruck Bella Smith takes up the full forward spot with Sarah King set to take the first bounce, while Imogen Barnett is another to watch in Collingwood’s front half. Smith’s former Norwood teammate Matilda Zander looms as an exciting addition from the SANFL, with the Magpies’ forward depth pushing Amelia Velardo to half-back.

The Magpies will look to adopt a similar gameplan to their AFLW side, looking to take the game on in transition with an exciting handball style while also taking hold of the game when required. Geelong will also play an attacking brand, with youthful exuberance and instinct also poised to come into the Cats’ thinking.

Carlton vs. Casey Demons
Saturday February 27, 2:00pm
Princes Park

Another all-aligned clash takes place at Princes Park as Carlton and Casey Demons lock horns, rounding out Saturday’s fixtures. The Blues have hit the reset button on their VFLW program and will look a very fresh side this year, adopting a strong youth focus to help feed their AFLW squad. Casey also has strong ties to its AFLW-aligned team in Melbourne, with a fit and strong Demons unit out to prove just how fruitful their preseason has been.

The Blues will be led from the back with skipper Ally Bild lining up next to vice-captain Jen Lew across half-back, while Carlton-listed speedster Charlotte Hammans completes the line. Coming down from Cairns, Jasmine Ware is another to watch in Carlton’s defence, while Akayla Peterson looms as a high-upside type at the other end. Carlton draftees Winnie Laing and Paige Trudgeon will also get some run into their legs in the front half.

Casey captain Samantha Johnson is her side’s major off-season coup and will anchor the midfield alongside first year Melbourne midfielder, Megan Fitzsimon. Both will benefit from the ruckwork of Maggie Caris, while an all-Melbourne half-back line of Mietta Kendall, Isabella Simmons, and Irishwoman Lauren Magee should prove exciting to watch. Brenna Tarrant also features at full back, with three senior games under her belt this year.

With new coach Peter Mercoulia also embedded in Melbourne’s coaching staff, Casey will look to play fast and put heavy scoreboard pressure on. Carlton is led by a new coach of its own in Luke O’Shannessy, who should be able to extract great things from the Blues’ young talent with his vast pathways experience.

Western Bulldogs vs. Hawthorn
Sunday February 28, 10:00am
Whitten Oval

The Western Bulldogs kick off their 2021 campaign at home as Hawthorn rolls into town on Sunday morning, looking to take a big scalp early. The Bulldogs have built one of the best young AFLW lists, with the vast array of talent spilling into its reserves side and making for an exciting squad on paper. The standalone Hawks are also strong on youth, but have attracted some big-name experience with Bec Goddard set to take the reins as head coach for the first time since 2018.

An embarrassment of riches sees the Bulldogs’ forwardline stacked with five AFLW-listed talents, including Isabella Grant, Gemma Lagioia, and the experienced Lauren Spark. Mary Sandral is the lone VFLW-listed player to start in attack, though the likes of Nicole McMahon (ruck), skipper Riley Christgoergl (half-back), and vice-captain Katelyn Betts (centre) will be consistent VFLW figures this year. Under McMahon, the likes of Isabelle Pritchard, Brooke Hards, and Britney Gutknecht should be served well in midfield.

Some well-renowned names in female footballing circles will provide invaluable experience to Hawthorn’s fledgling side, with stalwart Meg Hutchins poised to take on a number of roles aside from her forwardline listing, while Abbey Holmes is a tough body at the contest who will rotate forward through midfield. Skipper Jess Trend is another with AFLW experience who should impact greatly, while Northern Territory recruit Dominique Carbone has serious potential. She is set for her VFLW debut on the same weekend the Darwin Buffettes play finals back home.

The Hawks should prove a well structured side under Goddard and will be sure to crack in hard, though the abundance of promising young options for the Bulldogs will be incredibly tough to overcome. Should they not rely on too few, the Hawks will be ultra competitive in the face of the Dogs’ rawness and fierce style.

Essendon vs. Southern Saints
Sunday February 28, 10:30am
The Hangar

Essendon is set to unveil its shiny new facilities at The Hangar on Sunday morning, hosting the Southern Saints in what should be a competitive clash. Gunning for an AFLW license, the Bombers remain standalone but have built a strong list with more continuity than other sides heading into 2021. The Saints have their St Kilda alignment to lean on, but are looking strong in their own right after a solid preseason.

Anchoring Essendon’s side will be skipper Georgia Nanscawen, who is part of a terrific spine in the red and black. Cecilia McIntosh lines up down back, while Courtney Ugle provides some grunt, and Mia-Rae Clifford gets a fresh start up forward. Of the up-and-comers, Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Alana Barba have already performed well in the sash, with a host of young prospects set to filter through Essendon’s lineup as the season progresses.

Tara Bohanna (full back) and Deanna Jolliffe (rover) will lead the Saints out as co-captain Frankie Hocking has not been named. Georgia McLean is one to watch off half-back having crossed from Casey, while Poppy Kelly and Alice Burke are the only St Kilda AFLW players to feature in the lineup – both named on the interchange bench ahead of three emergencies from the senior squad.

The Saints have not put a ceiling on their potential and promise to open the game up with unpredictable ball movement. The Bombers’ continuity as a group and greater poise with such experience could well play a factor in this clash, with both sides backing their cohesion after so long away from competitive action.

Darebin vs. Williamstown
Sunday February 28, 11:30am
La Trobe University, Bundoora

Pioneer club, the Darebin Falcons take on Williamstown in Round 1’s closing fixture on Sunday, set to play out at La Trobe University in Bundoora. Both proud standalone clubs, these two sides will be made up purely of VFLW-listed talent early on before gaining access to NAB League and potentially even AFLW talent as those seasons are run and done. The two sides already faced off during preseason, with Williamstown winning by 11 points at the same venue.

Led by the returning Stephanie Simpson, Darebin has a bunch of leaders set to build the standards under coach Mitch Skelly. In defence, Gena Lawson-Tavan is one who promises to do exactly that as vice-captain, while fellow leaders Cherelle Byrne (centre) and Alyssa Mifsud (full forward) are other leaders littered up and down the spine. One Falcon to watch is Stephanie Elarmaly, a youngster who has come through Darebin’s youth system.

2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid crossed from Collingwood after her flag triumph, and takes over an exciting standalone squad. Skipper Erin Meade has locked in a spot at half-back, with reigning best and fairest winner Megan Williamson set to resume her midfield duties. Asha Price and Eliza Straford should be good value up forward, while Scarlett Dunell, the sister of former Seagull Sam lines up in defence.

There is often a great unknown around the standalone sides, especially after so long away from competitive action, but the two sides will know each other well after their preseason meeting and will get a good assessment of their 2021 chances in this bout.

Image Credit: Kelly Defina/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW season preview: Western Bulldogs

A BUNCH of Western Bulldogs VFLW players will finally get to pull on the red, white and blue jumper in a competitive match when they take on Hawthorn to kick off their 2021 campaign on Sunday. While 15 new players have entered the squad since 2019, there is a strong sense of continuity according to head coach, Sean Kavanagh after the lost 2020 season.

“It’s really interesting because quite a few of the girls who have been around, they came on board in that preseason before 2020, even as early as September of 2019,” Kavanagh said. “So some of the girls have been around for close to a year and a half, but have never had the opportunity to play.

“The age and experience profile has changed a little bit. We’ve gone for a certain type of player, a very similar methodology to our AFLW side and how we want to make the list up and play our footy. We’re really excited, it’ll take time and the girls will make mistakes… (but) we’ll learn from those areas and hopefully get some nice flow into our game as the season progresses.”

The Bulldogs have returned in “good condition” after a year away from group training and competitive play, testing their progress with dual practice games against Carlton during preseason. While pure results are not the entire focus of such hitouts, the ledger is squared at one win apiece. Kavanagh says his players “just went for it” in both outings.

“Over the course of the year off, we expected the girls to come back pretty rusty,” he said. “There was a little bit of work to do on skills but on the whole, our group came back in great condition and we’re looking forward to being competitive in Round 1.

“The first practice game we played at Ikon (Park) a couple of weeks ago… some girls hadn’t played since September 2019, so it’s a long, long time. It took a little while to adjust but we started to see some really good footy in the second half. We had quite a large bench that day so continuity in game time was a bit tough, but it was great to tick one off.

“We had an intraclub planned a week or so after that but obviously we went into lockdown then so we missed that opportunity and ended up playing Carlton again on the weekend. It was a similar type of game, Carlton jumped us early and played really good footy, then we changed some fundamental things which was great to see because we took great learnings out of it and that’s been a focus of this week.

“We came back in the second half and lost by a couple of goals so we’re pretty much even on the scoreboard with the Blues at the moment which is exciting. We’re 1-1 if we get to play them again through the course of the year.”

A six-person leadership group was announced last week, with Riley Christgoergl set to skipper the squad ahead of vice-captain Katelyn Betts. The pair featured among the names Kavanagh outlined when speaking on the core group of returning players set to head the side’s efforts. An “exciting blend of youth” will also play a part.

Nicole McMahon in the ruck has had another great preseason, Mary Sandral has also been incredible through the preseason, she’ll play at full forward. Riley Christgoergl and Katelyn Betts, our new captain and vice-captain, they’ve had wonderful preseasons and have been a huge support for the entire group during lockdown in 2020, so I’m expecting a lot from them to take that next step as mature and experienced players being around the system for a couple of years.

“Of our new girls, I think we’ve got some exciting under-22s; Brooke Hards, Eliza Vale, and Margie Purcell. Nikita Wright, who’s still eligible to play NAB League, so she’s played a couple of games with the (Western) Jets already and we were really keen to sign her.

“So we’ve got some young talent that’s come in and they’ll find their feet and adjust to the older and stronger bodies having come out of the NAB League only last year in a very shortened season. It’s a nice balance and we’ll see that progression in our returning players with our new, exciting blend of youth.”

With a strong group of young players coming into the Bulldogs’ system and access to even more as the NAB League season progresses, AFLW alignment is as important as ever for helping develop elite level hopefuls. Having that one-club kind of connection has seen many sides adjust their recruiting policies and style of play. The Bulldogs are no different.

“It’s wonderful for our young girls to see the level in conditioning and footy smarts that’s required to be identified as an elite player and to make and an AFLW list,” Kavanagh said. “It’s also nice to hear the feedback from the AFLW girls as well, these VFLW girls are really going in the right direction, they’re doing all the right things, and are really genuinely excited to get the opportunity to play together.

“With the change in the rules, we’ve changed from 18 on the ground to 16, which is the same as the AFLW program. Having the ability to run and cover the ground is really important so we’ve gone for those type of characteristics in our players. Obviously not only do we need to play the game well, but also have those physical and athletic attributes to cover more ground than they would normally have to because we’ve got less players on the ground.

“We’re looking to play a free-flowing game, but also it’s also been our mantra to be really tough to play against, to be strong and physical in the contest but also have the ability to spread hard and provide opportunities for our forwards to kick a winning score.”

Looking towards Round 1, the Bulldogs have a couple of lingering niggles but are “relatively healthy” according to Kavanagh. An accelerated and shortened preseason period has hardly helped in an injury sense, though just about the full list is there to select from.

A “wonderful” breakthrough was also made as Megan Chadwick made her return from an ACL injury during preseason. She came on for a minute against Carlton in the second practice game, which made cause for celebration amongst the tight-knit group.

In terms of expectations ahead of their opening game, Kavanagh says there is sure to be a heap of “pent-up energy” to be released once players cross the white line and attack the first bounce.

“It’s just going to be ‘let’s get out there and play’,” he said. “There’ll be mistakes made, but it’s going to be all about who can settle the quickest, who can get on top in regards to the arm-wrestle early on and  put scoreboard pressure on.

“We usually have so much longer to see where we’re at but it’s still a mystery, we’re hoping for a good result but it’s going to be a great game. I know both sides will be busting to get that first competitive four points in a long time.”

Image Credit: Western Bulldogs Media

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 15 – Plenty of ladder movement in the penultimate round

IN the penultimate round of VFL Women’s there were a number of big results, with ladder leaders Collingwood going down to Essendon – albeit resting most of their big name players, while Casey, Geelong and Western Bulldogs all recorded impressive wins.

CARLTON 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 4.5 (29)
DAREBIN 0.4 | 1.6 | 1.8 | 2.9 (21)

GOALS

Carlton: A. McKay 2, S. Craige, B. Gurr.
Darebin: S. David, B. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: B. Gutknecht, S. Cubasch, S. Wright, A. McKay, K. Loynes, A. Prins
Darebin: J. Stanton, K. Roe, R. Hicks, E. McLaughlin, B. Patterson, L. Arnell

It was a disappointing loss for Darebin in the opening match of Round 15, going down by only eight points despite plenty of chances to get ahead of Carlton. Both sides only had pride on the line with no chance of making finals, but it was the Blues that got the points and their third win on the board. It was a match with constant lead changes, however Carlton ultimately made the most of their opportunities while the Falcons struggled with inaccuracy, spraying the goalposts and getting very little return. The Falcons were missing a big name in Lauren Pearce, and while Erin McLaughlin was impressive in the ruck regardless with 29 hitouts and 15 touches, the Falcons clearly missed Pearce’s forward presence. Also impressive were Jamie Stanton (24 disposals, four marks), Annalyse Lister (18 disposals, 11 tackles) and Reni Hicks (17 disposals, 15 tackles) while young gun Nell Morris-Dalton was threatening forward but ultimately unable to get a goal on the board, managing three minor scores. Katie Loynes was among the best for the Blues, collecting 22 disposals and 11 tackles while Abbie McKay kicked two goals from 13 touches. Bry Gurr was also right up in the contest, racking up 16 touches, eight tackles and a goal while Sidney Cubasch and Jaime Nelson combined for 47 hitouts.

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.2 | 3.4 (22)
ESSENDON 2.1 | 4.6 | 5.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS

Collingwood: R. Grant 2, K. Lynch.
Essendon: G. Patrikios 2, M. DeMatteo 2, M. Fogas, A. Quigley, L. Stepnell.

BEST

Collingwood: A. Porter, K. Lee, C. Bunker, N. Xenos, N. Hales, R. Grant
Essendon: G. Patrikios, G. Nanscawen, C. McIntosh, L. Ahrens, S. Nalder, M. Fogas

It was an interesting match for the table topping Magpies, ultimately putting out a team that was missing a number of big name players yet still going down to Essendon, a side that has struggled to get wins on the board all season. With a big source of firepower in Jaimee Lambert missing from the fray the Pies were still in with a chance despite their inexperience, however it was the Bombers’ mix of skilled youth and experience that got them over the line with impressive performances from 18 year old Georgia Patrikios (15 disposals, two goals) and veteran Cecilia McIntosh (18 disposals, six marks) combining for a solid 27-point victory. Also solid for the Bombers were Georgia Nanscawen (21 touches, seven tackles) and Lauren Ahrens (20 disposals, five marks) who combined well across the field, finding the likes of Patrikios, Monique De Matteo (two goals) and Alex Quigley (one goal, four behinds) inside 50. For Collingwood, Caitlin Bunker put out ultimately her best performance of 11 matches this season, collecting 25 touches and providing a vital run downfield while Emily Bliss, Emily Hastie and Katelyn Lee combined for 22 tackles. Meanwhile, Rebecca Grant (two goals) and Katie Lynch (one goal) contributed to the scoreline, keeping the Bombers on their toes.

RICHMOND 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 (20)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.0 | 4.1 | 7.1 | 10.3 (63)

GOALS

Richmond: A. Woodward, J. Colwell, S. Frederick.
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis 3, K. Rennie 2, D. Marshall 2, D. Berry 2, B. Lochland.

BEST

Richmond: S. Frederick, A. Woodward, M. Conti, P. Monahan, K. Jacques, G. Seymour
Western Bulldogs: N. Ferres, D. Berry , D. Marshall, L. Spark, K. McLeod, C. Moody

While the Bulldogs were the side that started Richmond’s month-long losing streak, for the Dogs to pull out another big win against the Tigers proves that the side should not be underestimated in finals. While the Pies purposely played over the weekend with little experienced players named, the Tigers have no such excuse with a number of big names on the field who were unable to spark the side into action. Monique Conti and Kate Dempsey were among the best for Richmond, collecting 18 touches apiece and combining for seven tackles while Alana Woodward managed a team-high seven tackles and a goal. While Alice Edmonds impressed in the ruck with 31 hitouts and five tackles, she was controlled well by the Bulldogs’ shared rucks in Nicole McMahon (19 hitouts) and Celine Moody (16 hitouts). Also impressive for the Dogs were Bailey Hunt (20 disposals) and Naomi Ferres (19 disposals, seven tackles) while Elisabeth Georgostathis was one of four multiple goalkickers for the Bulldogs with three majors and six tackles from 14 disposals, combining well with Kimberley Rennie (two goals, five tackles), Deanna Berry (two goals, six tackles) and Danielle Marshall (two goals, six marks, five tackles).

CASEY 4.4 | 4.5 | 9.7 | 11.9 (75)
NT THUNDER 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 (18)

GOALS

Casey: K. Hore 3, C. Sherriff 2, M. Downie 2, L. Mithen 2, M. Hogg, S. Scott.
N Thunder: D. Ponter 2, R. Killian.

BEST

Casey: L. Mithen, B. Winbanks, K. Hore, M. Hogg, C. Sherriff, R. Edmeades
NT Thunder: J. Hickey, S. Riley, M. Ellis, E. Morrison, G. Cusack, M. Johnston

Similarly to the Bulldogs, while Casey managed an impressive win over Thunder last time they met there was no guarantee the inconsistent Demons would be able to pull a similar performance out of the bag. While the Dees may not have produced the same impressive score as their Round 11 victory, they were convincing from the get-go flying down field and finding plenty of forward options to put scores on the board. Thunder had patches of solid play, but were ultimately let down once again by their inconsistency and inability to string quarters together. Lily Mithen starred for the Dees, collecting a whopping 35 disposals and seven tackles, also going forward to kick two goals. Meg Downie was solid with 21 touches and two goals while Maddy Guerin put in her best performance since her early season form with 20 disposals, six tackles, three marks and two behinds. Kate Hore (three goals, five tackles) and Casey Sheriff (two goals, six marks, eight tackles) also provided valuable options inside 50 while Bridie Winbanks dominated in the ruck with 41 hitouts and seven tackles, while Thunder collected nine hitouts overall. For Thunder, Lisa Roberts (23 disposals, four tackles) and Sally Riley (20 disposals, 11 tackles) were solid, while Danielle Ponter added two more goals to her season tally and Jordann Hickey put in a season-best performance with 18 disposals and five tackles to her name.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 | 4.3 | 4.4 | 7.9 (51)
HAWTHORN 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 | 3.6 (24)

GOALS
Southern Saints:
M. McDonald 2, K. McCarthy 2, E. Mackie, T. Bohanna, K. Shierlaw.
Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Kelly.

BEST

Southern Saints: K. O’Neill, S. Johnson, T. Lucas-Rodd, K. McCarthy, M. McDonald, O. Vesely
Hawthorn: T. Radan, R. Beeson, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams, L. Wotton, J. Membrey

The Southern Saints leapfrogged the Magpies into top spot this round with a convincing win over Hawthorn. While the Hawks are all but locked in for finals unless Round 16 goes drastically wrong, this win proves the Saints – and Magpies – in top spot are worlds apart from the rest of the top six. Despite a quiet third term the Saints kicked 3.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with the 26 point win. It was a shared effort by the Saints, with Olivia Vesely leading the disposal count with 19, while Alison Drennan returned for a solid performance collecting 17 disposals and seven tackles, matched by Samantha Johnson with 17 and eight tackles. Kate McCarthy (two goals from nine touches) and Molly McDonald (15 disposals, two goals) impressed while Jemima Kelly and Lou Wotton were well-matched in the ruck, collecting a respective 14 and 13 hitouts with neither really able to take control. For the Hawks, Talia Radan was solid with 18 touches while Jayde Van Dyke collected 16 disposals and four tackles and Phoebe McWilliams added two more goals to her tally, having put a score on the board in all but one of her matches this season.

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)
GEELONG 1.0 | 2.0 | 4.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS

Williamstown: E. Gardner.
Geelong: J. Woollett 2, R. Caris 2, T. Love, M. Maguire, D. Taylor, S. Van De Heuvel.

BEST

Williamstown: A. Shannon, E. Straford, T. Merrett, M. Williamson, N. Wallace, E. Gardner
Geelong: S. Van De Heuvel, T. Love, R. Webster, D. Taylor, J. Woollett, R. Caris

Despite an impressive final margin, this match was likely too close for comfort for the Cats, who needed a win this week to raise their chances of a finals berth, very much reliant on a victory next week as well as relying on other results in Round 16. It was an even start to the match that gave Williamstown some hope, however the Cats were just far too good against the cellar dwelling Seagulls, kicking six goals nil in the second half to race away 46 point victors. For the Seagulls, Megan Williamson was impressive with 22 touches and eight tackles, aided by Danica Pederson (21 disposals, three marks, three tackles) and Rachel Achampong (27 hitouts) while Emily Gardner put Williamstown’s only goal on the board midway through the first. For the Cats, Amy McDonald (21 disposals, five tackles) and Tarryn Love (18 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) proved to be big ball movers around the field while Rene Caris (16 hitouts, 12 disposals, five marks, two goals) and Jaime Woollett (13 disposals, six tackles, two goals) provided solid options inside 50. Caris shared the role in the ruck with Kate Darby, who collected 13 hitouts and 16 disposals, also racking up four marks and four tackles.

BYE: Melbourne Uni

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 14 – Big margins split the ladder

ROUND 14 saw the top sides in the competition all but separate from the lower sides on the ladder, with the top six only needing to continue winning in order to make finals. Wins to four of the top six this week – with the other two sides in Collingwood and Southern Saints having byes – all but locks finals up, with only positions within the six likely to change over the next few rounds. With only two matches left in the season the only side below the six that really has potential to make finals is Geelong, but the side will need to not only win its remaining two games but also rely on other results to go their way to make it through unscathed.

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.4 (4)
DAREBIN 2.4 | 2.5 | 6.11 | 7.11 (53)

GOALS

Williamstown: Nil.
Darebin: M. Wilson 2, L. Pearce, A. Lister, C. Byrne, S. Simpson, L. Arnell.

BEST

Williamstown: D. Pedersen, M. Williamson, J. Kawa, R. Tripodi, S. Whiting, A. Melnikas
Darebin: L. Pearce, A. Lister, R. Hicks, E. O’Dea, C. Byrne, L. Arnell

It was the second time these sides fought it out in 2019, and the Falcons were not going to let their last match define them with a massive 49-point victory over the weekend proving the side has the ability to be better than some of their scores this season suggest. This match spells disaster for the Seagulls however, with the side running out of opportunities to get a second win on the board and this round arguably their best opportunity of doing so. Elise O’Dea and Lauren Pearce paired well across the field to dominate the contest, managing 25 touches apiece while O’Dea also racked up five tackles. Pearce was phenomenal as ever in the ruck, booting a goal and collecting 49 hitouts and six tackles for her efforts. Maddison Wilson kicked two goals from 11 touches while Annalyse Lister also had a solid performance with 15 disposals, nine tackles and a goal. Reni Hicks was phenomenal as ever, as the number one tackler of the competition with another 17 tackles and 16 disposals to her name. For the Seagulls, Mo Hope and Sharnie Whiting were the usual suspects finding plenty of the footy, picking up 21 and 20 disposals apiece while Megan Williamson (17 disposals, 10 tackles), Ruby Tripodi (12 disposals, nine tackles) and Ashlea Melnikas (nine disposals, nine tackles) played their individual roles well to apply pressure on the Falcons but to no avail.

HAWTHORN 1.4 | 2.6 | 3.7 | 3.7 (25)
CASEY 0.0 | 1.1 | 2.1 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS

Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Luke.
Casey: M. Guerin, H. Cordner, S. Notman.

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Membrey, G. Bevan, C. Perera, E. Nixon, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams
Casey: A. McDonough, T. Hanks, M. Hogg, S. Lampard, K. Hore, B. Winbanks

A late fightback by Casey saw the side almost get away with a shock win over the Hawks, but it was too little too late with the Hawks prevailing despite not putting a score on the board in the final term. This was not the percentage boosting win the Hawks wanted however, with the three point win only scraping by in the race for finals. While Casey will be happy with their ability to come back from the loss, they will be rueing missed opportunities after a dominant final term almost got them the win along with relatively even stats across the board. Phoebe McWilliams kicked two goals from six touches as a solid option forward, while a smattering of players did what they could to get on the board but could not convert. Lou Wotton (44 hitouts, 11 touches, 10 tackles) and Bec Beeson (24 disposals, 10 tackles, six marks) starred as usual for the Hawks, finding plenty of the footy while Georgia Bevan starred in the contest with 17 tackles. For Casey, Sarah Lampard put on a solid performance in ultimately her best match for the season with 28 touches, seven marks and five tackles while Maddy Guerin (seven tackles, five marks, one goal) and Lily Mithen (11 tackles, three marks) were next up with 16 touches apiece. Bridie Winbanks and Harriet Cordner combined for 32 hitouts in the ruck, while Shanara Notman kicked a goal in her second match for the side.

GEELONG 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 4.6 (30)
MELBOURNE UNI 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 7.2 (44)

GOALS

Geelong: M. Maguire 2, G. Clarke, S. Van De Heuvel.
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson 3, K. Angelis, E. Kearney, J. Garner, J. Bruton.

BEST

Geelong: R. Cranston, K. Darby, A. McDonald, L. McEvoy, M. Maguire, M. Keryk
Melbourne Uni: J. Garner, B. Gibson, E. Kearney, K. Ebb, A. Runnalls, J. Bruton

Melbourne Uni prevailed in cold conditions down at Geelong, beating the home side by 14 points to maintain their position in the top six and go one game clear of the Cats. While Geelong perhaps didn’t get off to the start they desired, they evened up to lead at half time before failing to put another goal on the board after half time. With a definite scoring end it was the Mugars who made the most of their opportunities, slotting seven goals for the match to set up a solid win despite not putting a score on the board in the final quarter. Jasmine Garner lead the charge for Uni, collecting 31 touches, 10 marks, nine tackles and a goal on her way to dominating all aspects of the contest while Ashleigh Riddell and Jess Trend followed suit combining for 44 touches and 13 tackles. Meanwhile, Britt Gibson kicked three goals from 12 disposals for her best haul of the season so far while Emma Kearney collected 18 touches, seven tackles and a goal in her first match of the season. While it was an evenly matched ruck contest between Vivien Saad (26 hitouts) and Kate Darby (21 hitouts, 18 disposals, five marks, five tackles), Darby well and truly found her form to follow up with two attempts at goal which unfortunately did not hit their mark. Olivia Purcell was the prime ball magnet for Geelong with 20 disposals, while the likes of Richelle Cranston (18 disposals, five tackles) and Madisen Maguire (two goals) put in the hard yards across the field.

CARLTON 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 3.3 (21)
RICHMOND 0.6 | 4.7 | 8.8 | 10.9 (69)

GOALS

Carlton: L. Brazzale, A. McKay, S. Wright.
Richmond: T. Stahl 3, T. Brett 3, C. Wakefield , H. Ibrahim, M. Conti, J. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: S. Wright, C. Bromage, B. Gutknecht, B. Gurr, G. Wright, G. Pound
Richmond: A. Edmonds, T. Brett, T. Stahl, M. Conti, J. Kennedy, C. Wakefield

Richmond finally got the big win they have been waiting for over the weekend, confidently running over the Blues by 48 points. While the Tigers certainly had all the momentum early they had big issues meeting targets with six behinds on the board in the first that could have had them up by close to 40 points early. After the first quarter however they unleashed, with the Blues floored by the Tigers as they kicked 10 goals to one in the remaining three terms. With two players individually almost outscoring Carlton on their own, it was always going to be a big win for the Tigers. While a usual suspect in Tayla Stahl kicking three goals from 11 touches and four marks, it was the effort of debutant Teagan Brett that caught the eyes of many with a respective three goals and 12 disposals in her first match in yellow and black. Monique Conti was also impressive with 26 disposals, six tackles and a goal while Alice Edmonds shared the role in ruck well with 32 hitouts and 14 disposals, pairing with Gabby Seymour who collected a further 15 hitouts. For the Blues, Lauren Brazzale was pivotal with 18 disposals and a goal while Gabby Pound (15 disposals, eight tackles) and Britney Gutknecht (13 disposals, six tackles) put in the hard yards to find plenty of ball.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.3 | 3.6 | 5.7 | 6.11 (47)
ESSENDON 0.1 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

GOALS

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland 2, M. Ward 2, K. McLeod, E. Blackburn.
Essendon: Nil.

BEST

Western Bulldogs: B. Lochland, N. Ferres, D. Berry , E. Georgostathis, A. Guest, M. Ward
Essendon: G. Patrikios, S. Audley, L. Ahrens, M. Fogas, A. Barba, E. Ashley-Cooper

The Bulldogs’ massive win this week mirrored their AFL side’s victory, with a 44 point win keeping the Bombers without a goal for the match in what was an impressive display at home. The Bulldogs got off to a solid start kicking five goals nil in the first half before matching it in the second half and denying the Bombers any easy ball. While their accuracy once again left plenty to be desired, the Dogs played a confidence game and were not scared to take advantage of opportunities to keep the Bombers out of the contest. Despite a disappointing performances from the Bombers as a whole, Georgia Patrikios (21 disposals, 11 tackles) and Georgia Nanscawen (21 disposals, six tackles) found plenty of the footy to spur the side forward while Kendra Heil applied some great pressure with nine tackles and 20 touches to her name. While Simone Nalder matched Celine Moody for hitouts (21 apiece), it was the Bulldogs’ use of a second ruck in Nicole McMahon (17 hitouts) that saw them run away with the match. Ellie Blackburn (25 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) and Ellie Gavalas (25 disposals, four tackles) were phenomenal for the home side, while Brooke Lochland and Mikayla Ward kicked two goals apiece, unstoppable inside 50 and Angelina Gogos provided plenty of ball back forward with 12 tackles.

VFLW preview: Round 12 – Top-of-the-table clash for Magpies and Tigers

ROUND 12 of VFL Women’s is set to be a big one, with two of the top three facing off in what could set the tone for the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Hawthorn have their second bye as sides begin to prepare for the final five rounds of the season.

WILLIAMSTOWN v. ESSENDON

Round 12 – 27/7/19
11.30
Downer Oval

With both sides sitting towards the bottom of the ladder, this match will certainly be an interesting one as both sides put their foot on the pedal in the hopes for another win on the board. While Essendon have form on their side coming off a win and securing three victories for the season, Williamstown have the drive for another win since being leapfrogged once again by Darebin. Both sides are coming up against tough opposition in Round 13, so will need a strong performance regardless of the scores this week to be able to hold up against their respective opposition next week. Williamstown’s Mo Hope is currently leading the competition for kicks with 140 so the key for the Bombers will be to shut down Hope and apply pressure to deny easy kicks, while Simone Nalder will be crucial in the ruck to keep the ball in the Bombers’ possession as much as possible.

DAREBIN v. GEELONG

Round 12 – 27/7/19
11.30
Preston City Oval

Geelong come into Round 12 off the back of a bye, so will be ready to go against Darebin who are still sitting towards the bottom of the ladder. The Falcons are in dire need of another win on the board to ensure they do not finish the season at the bottom. However, the Cats are on the brink of a finals spot if they can capitalise in the last five rounds so will be a tough competitor for the relatively inexperienced Falcons side despite having some big names back in the mix. A win for eighth-ranked Geelong could shoot the Cats up to as high as fourth, while a loss could mean a struggle to the finish line. Despite some better performances in recent weeks from the Falcons, the best they can hope for from the rest of the season is a better end than their start. Reni Hicks has applied some great pressure with an average of 10 tackles from eight games for the Falcons this season so is sure to put in the hard yards once more if she takes the field.

MELBOURNE UNI v. CARLTON

Round 12 – 27/7/19
11.50
Arden St North Melbourne

This match has the potential to be a game changer with Uni having a largely impressive few weeks while Carlton, despite sitting in the lower half of the ladder, have taken it to a few teams. The Blues have proved they have the talent and drive to make an impact on the competition, but have so far been mostly unable to execute. While Carlton certainly have the ability to compete with the Mugars, the side’s consistency has been questionable making Uni wildly unpredictable and a potential threat to top sides. From six losses, the Blues have only conceded an average of 15 points, with two margins under 10 points, a draw and a 33 point win in the past four rounds after the bye, showing the side’s steady improvement throughout the season. Carlton will have in-form leading disposal winner Kate Gillespie-Jones to contend with, however they have a solid team lead by Sarah and Jess Hosking that can back up across the board to deny goals, with the Blues’ main problem an issue of getting a winning score on the board.

WESTERN BULLDOGS v. NT THUNDER

Round 12 – 27/7/19
2.00
MARS Stadium

NT Thunder will be looking to bounce back this round, taking on top four side Western Bulldogs in what will be a real test for the side after two tough losses in a row. But while the Bulldogs are up there on the ladder with six wins from 10 games, they have four teams hot on their tail with five wins and higher percentage ready to leap up the ladder with a win – NT being one of them. Despite a bumpy season, both sides will be ready for a win this week after losing in Round 11 to keep their respective sides in finals contention and bring back some consistency in the run home. Bulldogs’ Tayla Dinuccio (97 tackles) and Nicole McMahon (219 hitouts) are leading their respective stats while Danielle Ponter has proved to be a key target for Thunder with two bags of three in her past two matches for the side.

RICHMOND v. COLLINGWOOD

Round 12 – 28/7/19
11.00
Swinburne Centre

In arguably the most interesting match of the round, top of the ladder Collingwood take on third-ranked Richmond. While Collingwood is unbeaten in nine of their 10 matches for the season, Richmond’s impeccable start to the season has been soured in recent weeks with three losses in a row – including a 68 point slaughter in Round 10. The Magpies have been the most convincing team in the competition this season, posting big scores relatively consistently and despite coming close to losses they have kept ahead to continue their winning ways, beating teams by an average of 30 points. Despite Richmond’s average few rounds, the side still sits high on the ladder thanks to their impressive percentage and strong start to the season. A Tigers loss this week could mean they go down a rung on the ladder despite their percentage, while the Magpies will want a win with Southern Saints hot on their tail and only two losses on the board. Collingwood leading goalkicker, Jaimee Lambert sat out last week so could have a massive impact if back in the side this week, while Sabrina Frederick-Traub has the ability to be a big threat if fed well by her Tigers midfield.

SOUTHERN SAINTS v. CASEY

Round 12 – 28/7/19
2.40
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The final match of the round sees the Saints host Casey in what could ultimately be the make or break match for the Demons’ season. While the Dees got a much needed win on the board last round, their six losses did not do them many favours and to be in with a chance to make finals they need to both win every single match to finish the season and rely on the top sides to falter at the final hurdles – Southern Saints included. While the Saints have been sat comfortable in second for a few weeks, the side will want to capitalise on their early success this season and get a win back after a loss to Collingwood last week. Caitlin Greiser is yet to finish a game without a score on the board this season, so is sure to be a big target once again for the Saints credit to her ability to find space and kick truly. For Casey, Bianca Jakobsson is having a consistent season across the board while getting a few goals on the board, while also sitting second on the board for marks across the season with 45, averaging five per game.

BYE: Hawthorn

VFLW Round 7 preview: Cellar dwellers clash as top four fight for dominance

ROUND 7 of VFL Women’s sees one of the biggest match-ups of the season so far when one play three for bragging rights at the midpoint of the season. Meanwhile, the bottom two teams will battle it out for an all important first win of the season.

GEELONG v. CASEY

Round 7 – 22/6/19
11.30
GMHBA Stadium

With both sides coming into this match off the back of a Round 6 bye, this game is set to be an interesting contest between the two sides. Though the Demons got off to a ripping start with three wins on the trot, Geelong were faced with a difficult fixture early as they took on four of the current top five. Though Casey will hope to bounce back this week after two losses prior to the bye, the Cats will have the home ground advantage and be keen to get a second win on the board. Casey have struggled with consistency in recent weeks and will need their big names to stand up to get the job done this week. Based off performance against similar teams, Geelong and Casey seem relatively evenly matched despite their vastly different positions on the ladder. The Dees will hope Maddy Guerin is back in the side this week as Casey’s leading goalkicker, with an ability to free herself and find space inside 50, while Rebecca Webster has proven week in week out that she can be a big target all across the ground.

COLLINGWOOD v. WESTERN BULLDOGS

Round 7 – 22/6/19
11.30
Morwell Recreation Reserve

Both the Magpies and Dogs will travel this round as they head to Gippsland for a battle between first and third on the ladder. While the Magpies have played one more game to sit in top spot, the Bulldogs suffered a shock loss to Carlton last week, pushing the side into third after a dominant start to the season. The Bulldogs had a frankly disappointing outing against the Blues while the Magpies put on a fantastic performance last round with a number of players impressing across the board, so the Pies will want to continue their momentum before heading into a bye next week. Fan favourites, Chloe Molloy and Jaimee Lambert united for an impeccable performance last round, collecting a combined 46 touches and nine goals to lead Collingwood to victory while the Bulldogs struggled in front of goal with only one major for the match. While the Bulldogs only have the one loss on the board, tackling pressure from the likes of Tayla Dinuccio, and hitouts from leading ruck Nicole McMahon will be pivotal to get over the line.

HAWTHORN v. SOUTHERN SAINTS

Round 7 – 22/6/19
11.50
Box Hill City Oval

Hawthorn have crept up the ladder in recent weeks after three wins and a bye from four rounds, so will be a definite contender as they take on fourth ranked Southern Saints this weekend. The Saints may sit in fourth on win-loss ratio, but the Hawks are not too far behind with only one less victory and some high flyers the likes of Philippa Peschke and Rebecca Beeson who can share the load to get the job done. The Saints will hope for another win this week to maintain their position in fourth, and will be in danger of being overtaken by the Demons if they lose this game. Tilly Lucas-Rodd has been a force to be reckoned with for the Saints this season, while the consistency of Caitlin Greiser has been key, despite kicking 7.10 for the season so far. If Greiser can kick straight and the side can provide her plenty of backup inside 50, the Saints should be able to get a fifth win on the board for the season.

DAREBIN v. WILLIAMSTOWN

Round 7 – 22/6/19
2.00
Bill Lawry Oval

The first of two Saturday afternoon matches will be an intriguing matchup between the two cellar dwellers, both of which are yet to win a game this season. While both sides will be hungry to get a win on the board, this match will certainly be a test to see which of the bottom teams has what it takes to get off the bottom of the ladder and make something out of their season. Williamstown are only ahead on the ladder by default, having only played four matches for the season so far, so Darebin will want to give the Seagulls a run for their money and shut down the likes of Mo Hope and Sharnie Whiting who have been pivotal so far this season. Darebin’s season hasn’t been pretty, but the form of Lauren Pearce has been solid, ninth in hitouts despite sitting at the bottom of the ladder while Reni Hicks has been quiet on the ball but been reliable off the ball to lead the league’s tackle count with an average of 10 per match and a whopping 19 alone in Round 5 alone. The Falcons are still looking for the good form that saw them put 11 goals on the board across rounds one and two, so will hope they find it this week against the equally suffering Seagulls.

NT THUNDER v. ESSENDON

Round 7 – 22/6/19
3.30
TIO Stadium

The Thunder will have their second home game on the trot this week when they host Essendon in the hopes of getting a second home win on the board. Meanwhile, the Bombers will be reeling after a frustrating performance last week against the Hawks, so will be itching to get an all important victory in Darwin. A big win for Thunder could land them as high as fifth come the end of this round, so this match is sure to be a big decider in ladder positions at the midway point of the season. Thunder’s inaccuracy last round lost the match for them, with 10 behinds on the board putting them on the back foot all game. Angela Foley continues to be a shining light for the Thunder, while the Bombers will want their major ball getters in Hayley Bullas and Alexandra Anderson right in the mix.

BYE: Richmond, Carlton, Melbourne Uni

VFLW Round 6 preview: Fourth and fifth clash to stay in touch with the top

THREE more sides have the bye this week as the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) competition heads toward the midway point of the season. With most sides playing teams at the opposite end of the ladder, matchups between the middle-ranked sides will set the scene for the competition come Round 7.

CARLTON v. WESTERN BULLDOGS

Round 6 – 15/06/19
10.30
IKON Park

Carlton have a tough slog on Saturday morning as they host top of the ladder Western Bulldogs to open Round 6. Sitting at zero from four after a bye in Round 1, Carlton’s start to the season has been far from ideal, scoring less than 20 points in each of their three away matches in Rounds 2, 3 and 4. However, the side put up a good fight last round when they hosted NT Thunder, kicking seven goals – more than their opening three rounds combined – and only going down by seven points. The Bulldogs have had an incomparable start to the season, starting on a high with a 47 point win over Williamstown in Round 2 before continuing their fine form, keeping all of their opposition to less than 15 points. The Blues will hope for Natalie Plane to have another big one, with an average of 20 touches and a score on the board in every match this season, while young-gun Maddy Prespakis will hope for another dominant performance after accruing 29 disposals and five tackles last week in her first match of the season. The Bulldogs’ success this season has largely been down to the dominant ruck work of Nicole McMahon, averaging 31 hitouts per game, while Bonnie Toogood (averaging 20 disposals) and Tayla Dinuccio (averaging nine tackles) have done a wealth of work around the ground.

ESSENDON v. HAWTHORN

Round 6 – 15/06/19
11.30
Windy Hill

In the first of two closely matched games of the round, ninth placed Essendon and eighth placed Hawthorn will face off with the winner hoping to stay in touch with the top sides. Both teams had a bye last round, and while sitting close on the ladder, Hawthorn will come into this match as the favourites with two wins under their belt – one a dominant 42 point victory over Darebin. Essendon have only won one of their four matches but have no issue getting access to goal having kicked five goals in three of their four matches, but have struggled defensively with an average of 38 points kicked against. The Bombers will hope for another strong performance from Hayley Bullas, who has averaged eight tackles and 18 touches per game this season, while the likes of Jess Sibley and Emily Gilder have shared the brunt of the goalkicking load for the Hawks. It will be an interesting ruck battle between Abbey Tanner (Hawks) and Simone Nalder (Bombers), who are sitting on 95 and 94 hitouts from four matches, respectively. Hawthorn have done a good job sharing the load across the field, with no one player who can be targeted and tagged out.

DAREBIN v. COLLINGWOOD

Round 6 – 15/06/19
12.00
Preston City Oval

Collingwood will aim for their fifth win on the trot this round as they take on cellar dwellers, Darebin Falcons. The Falcons have struggled so far this season, unable to string along consistent performances. While Darebin’s points scored in the opening rounds would have been enough to beat a number of sides, the first five rounds saw Darebin face three of the current top five. A four point win over Casey has solidified Collingwood’s spot in the top four after five rounds, so the side will likely come in confident this week against the severely depleted Falcons side. Collingwood AFLW captain, Steph Chiocci took the field in Round 5 for the first time this season, kicking two goals and gathering 13 touches and three tackles in a solid day out. Meanwhile, Bri Davey will be a big one for the Falcs to watch out for if she returns this week, collecting 57 touches and 14 tackles from just two matches. Jamie Stanton has been one of the big performers for the Falcons this season with an average of 20 touches while Lauren Pearce has had a good run in the ruck with an average of 18 touches and 24 hitouts from three matches.

NT THUNDER v. RICHMOND

Round 6 – 15/06/19
3:30
TIO Stadium

NT Thunder face a massive challenge this round when they host an undefeated Richmond side on Saturday afternoon. A dominant first few rounds was cut short by a bye, with Thunder dropping their next match before sticking it out in a close match against Carlton in Round 5. Richmond have scored over 50 points in three of their four matches, with their closest coming down to three points against sixth place Melbourne Uni in Round 4. Thunder will need to bring their A-game against the Tigers, but will have the added bonus of a home ground advantage in Darwin. Richmond’s Tayla Stahl has been one of the big names this season, sitting atop the goal leaderboard despite a bye in Round 2. Stahl has kicked nine goals and 10 behinds for the season so far, so if she kicks on target she could be a massive threat when coupled with the dominant force of ex-Western Bulldogs pair, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti. If Thunder have Chelsea Randall back in the side she could give them a massive boost, having only played two games but sitting on 59 touches, while Angela Foley has been solid with an average of 23 disposals across three matches. Thunder have struggled with consistency so far this season, unable to click given only five players have taken the field for all four matches.

SOUTHERN SAINTS v. MELBOURNE UNI

Round 6 – 16/06/19
12.00
Trevor Barker Beach Oval

The final match of the round is set to be the best matchup, with the Saints (fourth) taking on Melbourne Uni (fifth) in a bid to stay among the top sides in the competition. The Saints have had a fairly good run this season sitting on three wins from four matches and come into this round fresh off the bye in Round 5. Melbourne Uni had a dominant first few rounds before falling to two of the top sides in consecutive weeks, and were challenged by winless Williamstown last week, so will want to bounce back to prove their position on the ladder. Alison Drennan has been one of the most consistent for the Saints this season, averaging 24 touches and 5.5 tackles across four matches, while Caitlin Greiser has kicked a goal in every game so far. Despite only taking the field for three games, Uni’s Jasmine Garner is sitting second in the competition for goals (eight) and has an average of 26 touches, while Holly Whitford managed a massive 10 tackles against Williamstown last week, taking her season tally to 31. Uni will hope to put out a similar performance to their Round 4 match against Richmond, coming back from an 18 point margin to only go down by three points in the nailbiter.

BYE: Williamstown, Casey, Geelong