Tag: nikki gore

2021 AFLW 10 under 10 to watch: #7 Nikki Gore

IN a unique series for the lead-up to the 2021 AFL Women’s season, Draft Central will look at 10 players who have played under 10 games to watch this year. Whilst it would be easy to pick those who finished high in last year’s Rising Star, or top picks this year, we have opted to look at players who have been around at least two seasons but have only managed to play nine games or less. We continue the countdown at number seven with Adelaide’s Nikki Gore.

Being a one-club state and the most successful club in the AFL Women’s history, there are plenty of Adelaide talents yet to really stamp their authority at the elite level. The club is brimming with depth, more so than just about any other club, and it is especially difficult to crack into the midfield of the Crows, with so much experience rolling through there. For recently turned 20-year-old Gore, the 164cm midfielder is one who could really make the transition from prospective talent into star quality.

The eighth selection in the 2018 AFL Women’s National Draft made her debut in Round 6 of the 2019 season, and has managed seven games in her two seasons, booting two goals. Having emerged through the South Australian pathway – playing in a premiership with Christies Beach and then back-to-back flags at South Adelaide – the ball magnet is no stranger to success. It has been Adelaide’s success that has kept the talent biding her time in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition.

Gore is a huge tackler which matches her offensive attributes, not afraid to throw herself at the contest and win the hardball, as well as spread to the outside and use her unbelievable pace to burst away from congestion. Having only played the one game in the Crows’ second premiership season of 2019, Gore started to establish herself in the AFL Women’s side more often, earning six games in 2020, where she averaged the 6.5 disposals.

Her preferred role is on the inside, but when the likes of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff are there, it makes it difficult to have permanent minutes onball. However with Erin Phillips returning to have a proper full season, the likes of Gore playing through the midfield allows the talented Phillips – and players such as Eloise Jones who can play midfield – to play forward and use their strength overhead to dominate opposition defenders.

Whilst South Adelaide fell short of the flag in 2020, Gore was a key contributor to the side, particularly once the competition resumed later in the season, and the midfielder never took a backwards step. With the youth at the Crows continually growing – now including South Adelaide teammates such as Hannah Munyard and Teah Charlton – Adelaide is a huge chance to win its third flag, and the likes of Gore stepping up will only help achieve that goal.

Competitive Morriss loving community aspect of SANFL Women’s

FOR 18-year-old Tamsyn Morriss, her football journey has been interrupted in patches but overall had a speedy rise through the ranks from a junior level. Starting out at Auskick and limited in her pursuit after a couple of years, Morriss did not give in and returned to Aussie rules after exploring other sports.

“I’ve grown up in like a sporting type of family, my dad played footy. As far as growing up, my mum played netball so I’ve obviously got a lot of sporting genes in there,” Morriss said. “It was obviously dad that made me start footy so I started up Auskick when I was five at my dad’s local club… did two years of Auskick and then there was no pathway for girls back then, so I went and played soccer with the boys. 

“Then when I found out that I can play with the boys at footy I jumped back over to Lonsdale. “That’s where it kind of all started, playing under 10s and under 12s with the boys and then I moved over to girls footy at Kenilworth Football Club.”

Despite all the moving around early on in her football journey, Morriss found herself in the unprecedented position of being a 15-year-old on the edge of a South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s berth with Glenelg.

“I then got asked to train with the Glenelg women’s team as a 15 year old, one training I got asked if I wanted to play a game, obviously, with my parents permission, being a 15 year old playing against women. “And that’s when it all started with Glenelg. This upcoming season will be my fourth season with them.”

While Morriss has a focus on football, her past experience with other sports has certainly assisted in her skillset on the footy field, allowing her to utilise and adapt her game depending on what is required of her.

“I did a little bit of little athletics… I had to stop because obviously my footy was blowing up. And I was also involved with surf lifesaving,” she said. “So soccer, obviously it’s a team sport, kicking around a ball you kick around a ball in football as well. I reckon from little athletics I definitely got fitness, got running technique from there, and then the surf lifesaving, was extra fitness as well. I still do that… training and obviously doing patrols as well.”

While Morriss enjoyed – and still enjoys, in some cases – participating in a range of sports, the Glenelg talent says that the competitiveness and community around football is what drew her back to the sport. 

“I definitely have to say, the competitiveness of it and like, the community around it,” Morriss said. “You have so many people around you and people like you. “So it’s hard to leave it. “Yeah, the competitiveness is what I like as well, competing for the ball, competing against each other.”

With some quality talent not only heading up through the pathways but also already making waves at AFL Women’s level, Morriss says she looks to the experienced names in the SANFL system, inspired by their work ethic and skills.

“I have to say, Nikki Gore and Anne Hatchard,” Morriss said. “So I knew them, well I knew Anne before she got big humongous muscles and super super fit, that’s definitely inspired me, so that’s why I’ve been working on strength and fitness as well. “But obviously Nikki Gore, she’s just a great friend. “And she definitely pushes me along the way on and off the field.”

When it comes to strengths and improvements, Morriss suggested her fitness as a focus, with strength critical especially as the level progresses given the continued development of quality players across not just the state but also the country as women’s football continues to grow.

“At the moment, I’m working on strength and fitness. “So I can run longer, be on the ground for longer and compete better with some of the bigger girls out there. Hold my ground a bit more,” she said. 

“Some of my strengths I have to say, work ethic. “Yeah, and competitiveness, I’m working on that… game sense as well. “So reading the ball, using the ball well when I can. “And using the ball well around my teammates.”

Morriss participated in the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships up in Queensland, playing two games for the Central Allies. Still just a middle-ager last year, Morriss was looking to showcase her ability in 2020.

“That was a great experience, it was one of my favourite footy trips away. Just the connections I made with some of the girls, obviously playing with some of the girls from South Australia and then meeting new people from Northern Territory… It was an experience I’ve never done before, but definitely would have liked to do it again,” she said.

“One of my good family friends, Montana McKinnon, I actually grew up with her. “So it was great to play with her one last time. “And then also, obviously, there’s Jaimi Tabb, she just got drafted. “Maddie Newman as well, Hannah Munyard, it was great to play along those girls and then obviously the upcoming girls going up for the draft, Teah Charlton and then like Indy Tahau, it was great to play with them because I’ve obviously played against most of those girls, so it’s good to be on the same team for once.”

While the 2020 championships did not go ahead due to COVID-19 limitations, Morriss instead showcased her talents with a solid performance at the SANFLW All-Stars last week.

SANFL Women’s season review: South Adelaide

SOUTH Adelaide is the next team up in our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s season review series as we look at the eight sides in reverse ladder order and how their 2020 seasons went down.

Position: 2nd
Wins: 10
Losses: 3
Draws: 0

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

The back-to-back premiers showed that despite losing a heap of talent to the AFL Women’s over the summer, they were able to grind out wins early in the season, then continually get the job done when those players returned post-break. Rick Watts‘ side just found a way week-in, week-out, and even in their losses to North Adelaide, were never blown away and just a touch outclassed on the day. Nonetheless, the Panthers showed they have some seriously good young talent coming through which completed the AFL Women’s experience.

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Nicole Campbell

A reliable ball-winning midfielder who was among the bests most weeks, being a real beacon through the midfield and teaming up with a number of AFL Women’s talents and leading the younger players when there was less experience out on the field.

Lauren Clifford

Still a year to go in her junior footy, Clifford showed during the All-Stars game what she is capable of. Still yet to turn 17 until December, the middle-age prospect was able to provide some quick ball movement and slick skills when zeroing in on goal.

Jess Kirk

Playing out of full-forward and leading the league’s goalkicking until her injury late in the season, Kirk was a reliable set shot and great with her positioning. She never needed a lot of touches to have an impact, making the most of her few disposals, often hitting the scoreboard with each one.

Brooklyn Kraft

A raw and developing ruck/forward, Kraft continued to develop in season 2020, and showed that she could fill the role more permanently in 2021. At 182cm, the top-age talent is a late 2002-birth which usually suggests a later development and with her improving marking and set shot routine, Kraft can fill a role in the forward line as well.

Gypsy Schirmer

Stood out coming into the side this year as an athletic forward who could also push up the ground. Her closing speed and her leap were among her good traits, and she even kicked a number of impressive goals, often from tight angles. Schirmer, like Clifton, has another year of development until she is draft-eligible.

Czenya Cavouras

An Adelaide Crows train-on player, it was easy to see why Cavouras was picked because she is one player that you know what to expect of each and every week. Even if she is not winning heaps of the ball – though that is a rarity – she is applying fierce defensive pressure and doing all the right things to assist teammates around the stoppages.

Tahlita Buethke

An athletic mid who managed to play most of her debut season in 2020, Buethke could play as an inside or outside midfielder and showed some terrific traits. Highly competitive, Buethke looks like a late bloomer and is one to watch for the future.

Tahlia Meyer

One of the most underrated players in the competition, Meyer does not always have the big numbers that other midfielders have, but when she is up and about, her precision kicking and decision making is unbelievable. Her ball use going inside 50 is often served on a platter for her forwards, and she can also play multiple roles around the ground.

Rayne Rivalland

Another young middle-age talent who has come through the strong Panthers system developing as a defender who can also be thrown forward. Rivalland showed she is capable of reading the ball well in flight and taking the game on when required and will be a player to keep an eye on next season in the League.

Teah Charlton

One of the most gifted South Australian players to come through the state, Charlton is just about the complete player. The top-age talent is a super competitive player, elite athlete, and ability to take mark of the year and goal of the year – probably off the same play – and then just do the unbelievable time and time again. No doubt the Panthers would love her in their side next year, but the tri-colours of the next level beckon.

Indy Tahau

Similar to Charlton, Tahau is just a naturally gifted player. For a taller athlete, Tahau possesses great athleticism, and an ability to run down opponents or sidestep them with ease. She is so strong above her head as a contested marking specialist, and makes the right decisions with ball-in-hand. Both Tahau and Charlton were unavailable for the All-Stars match, but as Tahau showed in the 2019 SANFL Women’s Grand Final – winning the best on ground medal – she can stand up on the big stage.

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

  • Hannah Munyard
  • Nikki Gore
  • Lisa Whiteley
  • Lauren Buchanan
  • Samantha Pratt
  • Jaslynne Smith

Honestly South’s side was that good – much like North Adelaide’s outfit – that you could have a list of the whole side. Montana McKinnon is one who was not able to play a full season due to injury, but the return of Hannah Munyard, Nikki Gore and Lisa Whiteley to the team from their respective AFL Women’s sides was vital. Whilst they represented three different AFLW teams in 2020, they will all represent the Crows in 2021. Others who shone were defenders, Lauren Buchanan, Samantha Pratt and Jaslynne Smith who continually provided drive out of defence.

Summary

South Adelaide might not have backed up their premierships of the past two seasons, but the Panthers were littered with stars, and no doubt a large majority are currently or will run around at the next level. They were deserving grand finalists, and aside from when playing North Adelaide, found a way to win even when they were down and on the ropes.

Picture: SANFL/Hannah Howard

Roosters crow to win memorable first SANFL Women’s flag

NORTH Adelaide has completed an unblemished season to win the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s premiership in an epic contest against back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide. In what was truly a fitting grand final, the Roosters held off a late Panthers charge and made the most of their chances in front of goal to salute, 5.5 (35) to 4.4 (28) at Thebarton Oval today.

Adelaide AFL Women’s best and fairest winner and All-Australian, Anne Hatchard was named best on ground in the win, producing another sensational performance to cap off her year, picking up 34 disposals, seven marks, nine clearances, four inside 50s and four rebounds to be the clear star around the ground. While South was brave for the vast majority of the game, and even had its own chances to win the match, the Roosters were better for longer, with 10 more clearances and 16 more inside 50s to dominate possession in the forward half.

North captain Leah Tynan won the toss and opted to kick with the breeze in the opening term, with a two-to-three goal breeze estimated for the ladder leaders to begin the game. Despite Bek Rasheed getting the first clearance and inside 50 for the Roosters, it would be South on the board first, as a density rule free kick – the first of a number against the Roosters – saw the Panthers get it inside 50. A downfield free kick resulted in a set shot to Teah Charlton who made no mistake two minutes in, reading the breeze perfectly and hanging it far left for it to violently swing back around the post and through.

Fellow young gun in Hannah Ewings soon made her mark on the day, with the 2020 Breakthrough Player of the Year having a chance, being smothered, then marking out on a lead from a nice Katelyn Pope kick inside 50. Ewings made it look easy from 40m out with her goal sailing home midway through the term to level the scores. North’s ferocity up the forward end was putting pressure on the South defence as the Panthers struggled to clear it beyond half-back. Pope had a chance herself from 50m but it drifted to the left and through for a behind. The forward half dominance eventually won out though with some nice scrapping forward seeing Hatchard get it deep and Britt Perry created something out of nothing close to the line, reading it well and booting it home from a metre out.

No sooner had the Roosters gained some separation from their opponents, did South get it inside 50 off the next clearance. Cheyenne Hammond had a quick kick towards goal that was mopped up, but the rushed exit kick landed in the arms of a waiting Gypsy Schirmer. The teenager took it upon her self to go back and slot the goal from 35m, reading the breeze well herself to keep her team in touch at the break. A late behind to Cristie Castle off what was a golden opportunity put the favourites in front at quarter time, 2.2 to 2.0.

Despite dominating the opening term with a whopping 10-2 clearances and 15-2 inside 50s, North only held a two-point advantage and the Panthers had made the most of their two inside 50s with goals. North began to get a bit more of the momentum, after quarter time as they worked into the game. Another density penalty almost cost the Roosters again, but this time it was the composure of Amber Ward in defence who hit up Hatchard through a number of opponents to clear to half-back. The Roosters pushed forward themselves early in the term, but the work of Lucy Northcott and Nicole Campbell allowed South to have the run in transition.

A few rushed plays from the South defenders when it did get into North’s attacking end resulted in Mollie McKendrick having a number of inside 50s, with the third one finding Perry on the lead 30m out. She worked into the space well and then made no mistake from the set shot, extending the lead out to eight points, eight minutes into the term against the breeze. South continued to press in a bid to force their way back into the contest, with Elyse Haylock having a chance 30m out after an uncontested mark off great work from Nikki Gore, but it fell short and the Roosters cleared again.

Time and time again South had chances, but a run down tackle on Charlton inside forward 50 saved another chance, though eventually some great vision from Czenya Cavouras on the boundary line spotted a leading Indy Tahau who marked and then went back and slotted the goal. It was back to two points and with only a couple of minutes left, looked like heading into half-time that way. Then there was chaos when in the last 30 seconds, Charlotte Taylor won a free kick at half-forward and drilled in a ball to Castle leading out 35m from home. The ball appeared to hit the ground – the South players were appealing – but Castle also had a fair chunk of it before that, and the mark stood. As the siren sounded, the number one put it through the big sticks in what would be a telling contribution. With just two touches to half-time, Castle had added 1.1 and was making the most of it.

Either side of half-time, Castle had an influential period as she kicked the crucial first goal of the third quarter in the seventh minute and handed her side a 12-point advantage. Hatchard was beginning to build into the game – having already amassed her high volume of touches – and was having a real influence with those touches. Hammond had an early chance for the Panthers from 40m, but it was just touched on the line, and then up the other end a few minutes later, it was Hatchard who placed it beautifully for Castle in the goalsquare to mark and extend the lead.

South kept working hard against the breeze, with a terrific smother by retiring captain, Lauren Buchanan saving a scoring opportunity, as both sides had chances but could not quite convert. Ewings had another chance just from inside the 50 from a set shot but her kick went to the right, and then Taylor launched from 50m but it bounced the wrong side of the post. North was firmly in control, but the Roosters had not landed the knockout blow. In the meantime, tempers were flaring with a number of players letting the opposition know how important the game was, with Hannah Munyard and Ewings having a number of fierce words, and actions, throughout the contest.

South needed to kick three unanswered goals in the final term if the Panthers were to get up and cause an upset, but time was against them, and so was the mighty impressive unit of the Roosters. The Panthers’ leading goalkicker and second overall in the competition, Jess Kirk had not touched the ball in the first three terms, but had a chance from the impossible angle early in the last quarter. Her kick was a great effort for a right footer on the wrong side, but it just missed, reducing the deficit to 14 points three minutes into the final stanza.

A crucial turnover in defence by North almost cost a goal but Campbell could not quite gather it and the troops arrived to knock the ball over the line. Every chance they got, North settled and assessed options, with the Panthers trying everything to heap pressure on their opposition. Gore became the only goalkicker in the final term after going for a mark and copping a contact to win a free, converting the major and with four minutes remaining, her side trailed by just seven points.

That solitary extra point was always going to be a pestering one, and coupled with the fact that the oblong ball can be unpredictable, the odds were always in North’s favour. South found that out after a quick kick out from Harvey looked destined to land in the arms of one of a number of South players pushed up to half-forward. Instead, it bounced between them and landed in the arms of Pope who had enjoyed an impressive game, kicking it forward and hitting a target. That bounce all but signalled the end for the Panthers, as with a couple of minutes left, Lauren Gauci took a number of crucial intercept marks, and North had done enough for the siren to sound and the Roosters enjoy the most memorable of victories.

It was no surprise to see Hatchard named as best-on for her efforts, with an otherwise even team performance across the board. Daniel ended the match with 16 disposals, four tackles and two inside 50s, while Taylor was influential in close with five clearances, four inside 50s and 14 touches. Pope had 15 disposals and three inside 50s, while Harvey was rock solid in defence with 11 disposals, two marks and five rebounds.

For South, Tahlia Meyer just battled away all day and finished with 18 disposals, four marks – one contested – two inside 50s and five rebounds, ahead of Gore (15 disposals, five marks, eight tackles, three inside 50s, two rebounds and two clearances). Whiteley (14 disposals, seven rebounds) and Buchanan (11 disposals, six rebounds) were keys in the back 50, while Campbell (13 disposals, four marks, three tackles and four inside 50s tried hard all day.

NORTH ADELAIDE 2.2 | 4.2 | 5.5 | 5.5 (35)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.4 (28)

GOALS:

North: B. Perry 2, C. Castle 2, H. Ewings.
South: T. Charlton, G. Schirmer, I. Tahau, N. Gore.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Hatchard, K. Pope, L. Daniel, K. Harvey, E. Sundstrom
South: T. Meyer, L. Whiteley, N. Gore, N. Campbell, L. Northcott

Picture: Deb Curtis / SANFL

2020 SANFL Women’s Grand Final preview: North Adelaide vs. South Adelaide

TWELVE months ago – or more accurately 16 months ago given the COVID-19 pandemic postponement – South Adelaide and North Adelaide faced off in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider. Fast forward to 2020 and the same two sides oppose each other to determine this year’s premier in South Australia’s top women’s competition. The two best sides have made it through to the decider, and in Draft Central‘s preview, we take a look at the teams and where the game could be one, and some of the key questions coming out of it.

2020 FORM

North Adelaide come in as the clear favourites in this game simply because they are undefeated in 2020. South Adelaide are the next best side in it though, having only lost to the Roosters this year, first back in Round 4 prior to the SANFL Women’s postponement, and then a fortnight ago in the semi-final. Having backed up from that loss with an imposing win over an confident West Adelaide side, the Panthers will back themselves in to finally topple the Roosters.

The key questions

Can North Adelaide go undefeated in season 2020?

It might not be spoken about as the main aim – and nor it should be – in 2020, because at the end of the day, it does not matter how they are won, as long as they can get the job done. Eleven games in and the Roosters are yet to taste defeat, though they are likely to remember their last loss – the 2019 decider against the Panthers – and be keen to go one better this year.

Could South Adelaide achieve a three-peat?

Anything with the list the Panthers have is achievable. But they will need to rekindle their best form to get up in the match. They have the experience to follow through and get it done, but their opposition is formidable. The Panthers defence showed in the semi-final that it can contain the best of forward lines, and that effort will need to be repeated again here.

Who goes to Anne Hatchard?

There will not necessarily be a hard tag on Hatchard who has the running ability to just power away from her opponents, but Nicole Campbell did well in stints on Stevie-Lee Thompson and might be the player for the job again. Last time they met, Hatchard ran rampant and was clearly best afield, and while you cannot stop her getting her 30-odd touches a game, limiting them to non dangerous areas – ie. out of the stoppages particularly in the forward half – is a must.

Where does South Adelaide have the advantage?

The unpredictability and speed inside 50 is what sets the Panthers aside from many other teams. Jess Kirk is a leading forward and reliable in front of the big sticks, but a lot of the Panthers goals come from finding space inside 50 and lowering the eyes to hit targets from midfielders dropping back, or just by working the ball forward and creating something out of nothing. They can build from defence and run down the ground with speed.

Where does North Adelaide have the advantage?

The midfield is quite simply elite. South Adelaide’s is unbelievable, but the Roosters have the lot with Hatchard, Ash Woodland and Hannah Ewings, as well as Leah Tynan, Katelyn Pope and Erica Greet all capable of rotating through there. The South defence is well structured and back themselves one-on-one, but the Roosters have so many scoring options inside 50 and the midfielders usually pick the right option.

Line-by-line

North Adelaide defence vs. South Adelaide attack

The Roosters defence is tall compared to their opponents, with Kristi Harvey, Amber Ward and Talia Radan all capable of taking contested marks. It means the Panthers cannot afford to kick long and high inside 50. What they need is opening up space to allow one-on-ones because Kirk will struggle to be beaten on the lead, but in a one-on-one contest Harvey for example would take the chocolates. The half-forwards push up to the wings, with Indy Tahau and Gypsy Schirmer able to rotate with the likes of Teah Charlton and Cheyenne Hammond, which creates havoc with matchups. A chaos ball inside 50 while not perfect could help the Panthers at ground level, though Julia Clark and Lauren Gauci have been capable rebounders.

North Adelaide attack vs. South Adelaide defence

Up the other end, the matchups are a dream, with both sides having a number of in-between heights that could play the role of talls or smalls. Britt Perry is the one the Roosters love getting the ball too because of her reliability in front of the big sticks, while Cristie Castle continues to run all day. The pure speed of the attack such as Pope and Ewings might be a key reason why Hannah Munyard has been named in defence this week. She can match those quick players and also take the game on out of the back half, even though she is also capable of hitting the scoreboard up the other end. Woodland will spend time up forward, and like rotate with Ewings, while the South defence of Jaslynne Smith, Lisa Whiteley and Lauren Buchanan in particular is incredibly consistent.

The midfield battle

Starting in the ruck, the Panthers have a couple of young guns in Montana McKinnon and Brooklyn Kraft rotating through there. McKinnon has been getting better each week since returning from injury and capable of taking contested marks around the ground providing strong second efforts. She will be opposed to Bek Rasheed in the middle, with Kendall Howell named as backup on an extended bench. Rasheed has been terrific in her debut season for the Roosters and will need to work McKinnon hard around the ground and be offensively dangerous. The midfield has already been touches on for the Roosters, but for South, Hammond has been a really strong user of the ball, while Tahlia Meyer might be one of the best decision makers in the competition with her low darts inside 50 last week setting up so many scoring opportunities. With Elyse Haylock and Czenya Cavouras also running through there and the speed of Nikki Gore and Munyard, the South side will have no issues batting deep through the middle.

Teams

Prediction

Much like two weeks ago, it would take a brave prediction to go against the Roosters but this build up is going to special. The best team of the year against the best team of the past couple of years. Expect the game to go down to the wire and there be less than a kick between the sides by the final siren. With the Panthers likely to do all they can to restrict Hatchard, expect an Ewings or Woodland to be among the Most Valuable Player (MVP) contenders, while Tahau showed last year they are not afraid to give it to youth, and she and Charlton, along with Munyard and Gore would also be among the contenders if the Panthers get up.

Picture: SANFL/Deb Curtis

SANFL Women’s weekly wrap: Preliminary Final – South salutes to setup North rematch

SOUTH Adelaide has given itself the chance to record a remarkable three-peat after downing a determined yet unlucky West Adelaide in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s Preliminary Final. The Panthers weathered the early pressure and then got away in the third term, holding off a Bloods outfit in their first ever finals series to record a comfortable 30-point win at Thebarton Oval.

Given the early stages of the game, spectators were not to know which side had the finals experience as West Adelaide brought all the heat to really control play early in the contest. Unfortunately despite forward pressure, the Bloods could not seemingly put one through the big sticks. Abbie Ballard and Rachelle Martin were controlling play at half-forward as the ball did not go past the half-back line for the Panthers as West continually drove the ball inside. Stevie-Lee Thompson looked dangerous in the early stages with a few early chances, while Emma Smith and Chelsea Biddell pumped the ball in deep. Amber James had a chance from straight in front, but her kick skewed to the right.

For all of the Bloods great work, the worst possible scenario happened as the Panthers – with their first inside 50 of the contest – got the ball long and deep, and off a chaos ball inside 50 from Indy Tahau, Hannah Munyard read the ball perfectly off the contest and boot a major against the run of flow at the 10-minute mark of the term. West Adelaide had dominated play but failed to land a meaningful blow, and the reining champions, stunned but not knocked out, showed just what they were capable of. The work of Czenya Cavouras in the back half with her tackling pressure, and Nikki Gore and Munyard through the middle was proving the difference. Tahau almost had a chance herself on the siren, but the ball just slipped from her grasp in the dying seconds.

Tahlia Meyer was arguably one of the most influential on the ground with a terrific pass straight to Jess Kirk in the last 90 seconds though the usually reliable Kirk missed from straight in front, giving the Bloods a let off and only a three-point deficit. After one quarter of play, the Bloods were plus seven on the inside 50s count, but could not put through a major. Then, like a wounded champion that was ready for the counter attack, South Adelaide struck three times in the second term to instead turn the tables on their young opponent and head into the main break with a 21-point lead.

Again it was Meyer who was hitting targets left, right and centre, and when she combined with Kirk for a second time three minutes into the term, the Panthers leading goalkicker made no mistake. An unlucky in-the-back call against Emma Smith deep in defence handed the talented Teah Charlton an easy set shot from 25m out on a slight angle, and she would make it two before the half-time siren. Alexandra Mason had a chance up the other end for the Bloods but her shot from 35m came off hands and rushed through, with work from Munyard a couple of minutes later off the back of a density free kick got it to Charlton who controlled it, kept it in front of her and she kicked the easiest of goals.

South had regained control of the contest with tackling cameos from Gypsy Schirmer and Madison Bennett following the lead of Gore and Munyard through the middle, while Nicole Campbell locked down the dangerous Thompson, limiting her influence. While Martin and Ballard were a couple of standouts, the Bloods could not quite match the Panthers in the second term. Just when the game looked like the sting was out of it in the third term – with West struggling to get it deep and South happy to play controlled football – Biddell worked some of her magic with a monster goal from 50m to sail past the charging back Munyard’s hand on the line, giving her team a small sniff. There was only about 23 minutes left in the match at that stage, but the vital goal drew the Westies to within 15 points.

Munyard was continually getting busy, and while Thompson had a chance to make it two for the Westies, the shot close to goal went a mile in the air and stayed in. The Bloods were getting frustrated by the lack of scoreboard pressure, and Madison Newman and Biddell both gave away 25m penalties, with the last kick of the term going to Charlton for her third. From 35m out she fancied her chances as she came in and began the celebration of icing the game on the siren, only for her shot to cannon into the post as she tried to disguise the premature celebration. Nonetheless, South had a handy lead of 16 points, even with West chewing back a little thanks to the sole goal in the term.

West threw everything they had at South early in the term, but the Bloods were still rushing their kicks inside 50s, and could only muster a couple of behinds. The tackling pressure of South remained, and the likes of Gore, Munyard and Meyer were superb. A forward stoppage six minutes in had the Panthers set up perfectly with the ball falling to Elyse Haylock who slammed it on the boot and sent her team into the grand final with 11 minutes remaining on the clock. Six minutes later, Kirk kicked her second and put the icing on a delicious cake for the second placed side, recording an impressive 6.6 (42) to 1.6 (12) victory to butter up and prepare for the undefeated North Adelaide next week.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.1 | 4.2 | 4.4 | 6.6 (42)
WEST ADELAIDE 0.4 | 0.5 | 1.5 | 1.6 (12)

GOALS:

South: T. Charlton 2, J. Kirk 2, H. Munyard, E. Haylock.
West: C. Biddell.

ADC BEST:

South: T. Meyer, H. Munyard, T. Charlton, N. Gore, C. Cavouras
West: R. Martin, A. Ballard, S. Thompson, C. Biddell, E. Smith

SANFL Women’s Finals preview: Preliminary Final – South Adelaide vs. West Adelaide

TWO teams with contrasting finals records face off in the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s preliminary final tomorrow, as reigning back-to-back premiers South Adelaide take on finals newbies, West Adelaide. The Panthers have a decorated finals history, coming from second last season to win their second consecutive title, knocking off minor premiers Norwood, and third placed North Adelaide along the way. West Adelaide is in unchartered territory. Having never made a SANFL Women’s finals series prior to 2020, the Bloods are here to make waves and they certainly did that in the semi-final with a stunning victory over Norwood to turn around a run of form that included back-to-back losses.

Interestingly enough, West Adelaide lost to Norwood in Round 9 of the season, and then beat them in the first week of finals, just two weeks later. In an eerily similar coincidental matchup, the Bloods lost to South Adelaide in Round 10 of the season, and tomorrow’s match is two weeks since then. Could the Bloods cause an upset and send the Panthers out in straight sets like South Adelaide did to the Redlegs 12 months earlier? It is possible, but the Panthers are a side that are hard to beat. Even against North Adelaide, it genuinely took four quarter to shake off the Panthers, and the Roosters have had their opponents on ice by half-time more often than not. The defence of South Adelaide is elite, and nearly all the midfielders can play forward and hit the scoreboard, which is something the West Adelaide defence must be wary of. Up the other end, West Adelaide is more than capable of kicking a big score, but inaccuracy has hurt the Bloods in the second half of the season, so they will need to back up from last week and continue that run of goalkicking form against South here if they are to win.

YOUNG TALENT:

Anyone interested in the future stars of the AFL Womens – both current young guns on lists and future ones – then this game is perfect. South Adelaide’s Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau are the two top-age members of the AFL Women’s National Academy, and they are not hard to spot because they often have the footy in their hands. Charlton is a ball-winner who can play anywhere on the field, but when she has space in front of her, or an ability to jump, then she is as damaging as they come. Tahau is similar, she has some additional height, but incredible athleticism for her size, and she is not afraid to take the game on. A strong contested mark, Tahau can set plays up or be on the end of it, and quite often the two find each other in passages down the field. Speaking of close bonds, you do not need to look much further than recent draftees, Nikki Gore and Hannah Munyard taken in the past two drafts. Munyard will now join Gore at West Lakes after a season at the Bulldogs, and the pair have a habit of linking up, with similar speed and hardness around the ball and on the outside. Gore will tend to play more inside, while Munyard is let loose on a wing or inside 50, and her form of the past few weeks has been as good as anyone’s.

Looking at the youth of West Adelaide, and current Crow Madison Newman is one of the elite players of the competition. Her penetrating kick can carry 50m with ease and it is not far-fetched to say she is the best long-range kick in the competition. Still only a teenager and only one season into her AFL Women’s career, she has a bright future ahead of her. The potential for her to lineup on fellow South Australian representative, Munyard could be exciting in many ways with both competitive beasts on the field despite being friends off it. On the other half-back flank is a player who still has a couple of years left in the system, but Keeley Kustermann would be one of the brightest stars for the 2022 draft when looking ahead. Having a nice balance of offensive and defensive traits, as well as footy smarts and composure, she is already shaping up to be a terrific player in years to come. West Adelaide also have in-and-under midfielder Abbie Ballard, and future star Zoe Venning who both roll through the midfield or up forward. They are often amongst their best players and along with Emma Smith who was impressive last week, do well across that half-forward line.

AFL WOMENS STARS

Anyone tuning in for the first time to the competition will know a few familiar faces from AFL Women’s, with Stevie-Lee Thompson the most known of the Crows players having won the AFLW leading goalkicker in 2019. She will line-up for West Adelaide and spends a lot of time through the midfield, but as she showed last week, went forward and kicked 3.2 to be the match winner. Newman and versatile utility Chelsea Biddell are also in the red and black, with the latter playing forward as the team’s leading goalkicker in 2020. A couple of players who have thrown on a Crows jumper before are 2017 AFLW premiership player Rachael Killian, and train-on player Rachelle Martin. The Two Westies are important players, with Martin tipped to win the club best and fairest such is her consistency throughout the year. To give you a taste, she racked up 25 touches, three marks, 10 tackles, six clearances and booted a goal last week. Killian was quieter, but still provided a contest and has been known to hit cleanly between the big sticks. South Adelaide has even more AFLW listed players, with Gore and Munyard already mentioned, but GIANT-cum-Crow Lisa Whiteley playing a superb role in defence, while Nicole Campbell is another Crows midfielder who stands out at SANFL Women’s level. Cheyenne Hammond is crucial player adding extra class and runs around for Gold Coast in the AFL Women’s, while Czenya Cavouras was in the same boat as Martin in 2020, signed as a train-on player for the Crows. Meanwhile young ruck and last year’s first round selection Montana McKinnon stands tall through the middle for the Panthers.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Turning the clock back to the two meetings between the sides this season, South Adelaide has got up in both, with the Round 7 match ending up a forgettable one when it came to goalkicking as the Panthers kicked 3.11 (29) to win against the Bloods’ 1.8 (14), as Charlton booted two goals to be the difference between the sides, while Thompson and Kustermann were impressive for the losers. Three weeks later and only a fortnight ago, the Panthers goy up again, but only narrowly as they held on to win 4.5 (29) to 1.6 (12). The defence was key for the Panthers as Jaslynne Smith, Lauren Buchanan and Samantha Pratt were all amongst the best, while Helen Maidment stepped up for the Bloods, and Venning was good through the forward half as well.

WHAT DOES EACH SIDE DO WELL?

Both sides are very strong defensively despite being able to score freely. The Panthers are well structured enough to get numbers back in defence and help out teammates, even if that means running off an opponent, or a midfielder dropping back into the hole to provide extra assistance. They are a side that plays as a team and are really confident of their own ability to get the job done each and every week. Even when down you can never count the Panthers out, and teams cannot afford to just bomb and hope, or muck around with the ball inside 50 for too long. West Adelaide might have to push forwards higher up to open up space inside 50 and reduce congestion, then find the short targets when on the counter attack to limit the effectiveness of the Panthers back six.

West Adelaide’s half-back line is right up there with the best, and the Bloods look to get it into the hands of Kustermann, and in particular Newman. Once Newman can get her boot to it, the ball is long gone and the Westies are on the attack, so the Panthers need to find a way to quell Newman – they tended to put her under more pressure in Round 10 – to avoid easy exit out of their forward 50. The Bloods need to be able to free her up, and also keep structured, because when they have lost in the past, it is either because they tended to lose a bit of shape with their formation, or just could not kick straight. Both areas are within their control, so aside from keeping a firm formation, the Bloods have to make their chances count. Their midfield gives the forwards plenty of goalscoring opportunities, so they cannot afford to squander them.

WHO WINS?

It would be very dangerous to tip against South Adelaide given what the Panthers have achieved. On paper, the Panthers have won twice against their opponents, they are the back-to-back reigning champions and love this time of year. West Adelaide has nothing to lose as the underdogs, but when watching them, the Bloods can go one of two ways. They tend to either look like a team that could score heavily and quickly to roll over any team on their day, but then they can also tend to miss gettable opportunities and proverbially shoot themselves in the foot. If West Adelaide plays to its potential, this is going to be an absolute ripping contest. The Bloods often start fairly well, where the Panthers come home strong, but if the Westies are to cause an upset, they have to kick more than one goal on the board as they did the last couple of matches against this opposition. This match is not to be missed.

SANFL Women’s Semi-Finals review: Roosters through to grand final as Bloods win through to face Panthers

NORTH Adelaide has backed up its unbeaten South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition with an impressive eight-point victory over South Adelaide to book its place in the 2020 Grand Final. Hoping to go one better than last year, the Roosters will await the winner of the Panthers and West Adelaide, following the Bloods’ statement win over Norwood in the do-or-die semi-final.

NORTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 3.7 (25)
SOUTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 1.1 | 2.3 | 2.5 (17)

GOALS:

North: A. Woodland, K. Reynolds, B. Perry.
South: C. Hammond, H. Munyard.

ADC BEST:

North: A. Hatchard, K. Pope, H. Ewings, B. Arthur, C. Castle
South: T. Charlton, H. Munyard, N. Campbell, C. Hammond, J. Smith

If there was ever a prime example of a low-scoring contest being an edge-of-your-seat thriller, then North Adelaide and South Adelaide’s semi-final clash would be it. The Roosters and Panthers kicked just five goals between them, three of which came in the first half, but it was far from a scrap, with the two best teams in the SANFL Women’s going head-to-head in a high-octane battle, eventually won by the undefeated Roosters, 3.7 (25) to 2.5 (17).

Neither side was willing to give an inch early in the game, with Montana McKinnon having an early couple of touches for the Panthers through the ruck, whilst ball magnet Anne Hatchard was dominating through the middle for the Roosters. While Hatchard’s running power – such as her ability to find space and seemingly have no one able to work with her, it was also the slick ball use of Hannah Ewings straight down the throat of Ashleigh Woodland five and a half minutes into the contest. With their first inside 50, the Roosters had a goal on the board, and it would prove golden in the low-scoring contest.

An early injury from the piece of play to Samantha Pratt saw the young defender helped from the ground, but her teammates in Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan were pushing hard to keep the ball out of the danger zone. South had controlled play, but were just not getting on the end of scoring chances until late in the term when the play of the day from Cheyenne Hammond created said opportunity. A huge run-down tackle earned Hammond a free to kick forward and then Hammond pushed up as her kick hit Nicole Campbell who found Jess Kirk. While Kirk’s shot fell in the goalsquare, Hammond dove on it and was awarded a free kick, popping it home to level the scores at quarter time.

Teah Charlton had a busy opening term and would continue that in the second quarter, leading all-comers for her side with seven touches, and then 13 by the main break, but it would be no surprise to see Hatchard in front with 17. The second term saw North kick a crucial goal after pressing for the majority of the contest, as Kathryn Reynolds got on the end of a chain of handballs thanks to Britt Perry‘s work to draw an extra opponent and put through a running goal. Both teams had chances, as Kirk had a shot a couple of minutes likes but hit the post, before Perry missed a chance from 45m out to the right.

The work of both half-back lines was telling in the low-scoring scrap that was quite entertaining thus far and the game on the line. South showed why they were well and truly in the hunt with a great piece of play from young gun Indy Tahau off half-back. The AFL Women’s Academy member got the ball forward and it ended in the hands of Hannah Munyard who used the body well in a marking contest and kicked truly from the goalsquare.

Katelyn Pope was using her speed to advantage for the Roosters, having a big start to the second half, but it was South that was piling on the pressure and realistically should have added an extra goal or two with the Panthers’ forward half domination. Gypsy Schirmer had a couple of chances close to goal, including a tough snap from the boundary with the outside of the boot but it just bounced the wrong side of the post. Both Hammond and Campbell were big influences on the game through the middle, but it was Hatchard and Ewings who really shone, as the latter again had a great kick inside 50 and with four and a half minutes left in the third term, Perry kicked a terrific goal from a spin out of trouble to snap and bounce home after a favourable kick in from Mollie McKendrick.

The stage was set for a terrific last term, and once again this game proved that you do not need goals to be flowing for it to be tense. In fact, neither team kicked a goal, but there was still end-to-end football at times, and plenty of individual plays of brilliance. Tahau and Munyard were continually involved in attacking transitions, while Hatchard and Ewings were always busy. Smith won a good free in defence on Reynolds which had a been a good battle on the day, while a huge tackle on Czenya Cavouras from Ash Woodland and Charlotte Taylor saw the latter come off second best and helped from the field.

South almost had a huge major late in the term when Nikki Gore ran down the usually-elusive Ewings, which saw South play on and get it forward with a quick kick from Charlton heading towards goal but was about to sail home but touched on the line. Most of the last couple of minutes South continued to drive it forward, with Schirmer almost taking a grab on the goal line but the Roosters defence rushed it through. It was a game of almosts for South, as North Adelaide held on, and Perry had the last kick of the game from 40m out, missing, but making it an eight-point victory and her side booked its spot in the 2020 SANFL Women’s Grand Final.

NORWOOD 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)
WEST ADELAIDE 2.0 | 3.2 | 7.3 | 9.4 (58)

GOALS:

Norwood: M. Zander, A. Lishmund.
West: S. Thompson 3, C. Biddell 2, N. Hooper 2, R. Martin, A. Ballard.

ADC BEST:

Norwood: N. Allen, R. Busch, L. Cutting, C. Tsoumbris, K. Fenton
West: R. Martin, M. Newman, S. Thompson, Z. Venning, C. Biddell, E. Smith

West Adelaide won its first ever final and in the process delivered Norwood its fourth consecutive finals loss in the SANFL Women’s competition, saluting by 43 points in the do-or-die semi-finals clash. The Bloods tackling pressure was enormous and they had the numbers on the inside and outside to back up their defensive work, restricting Norwood to just one goal in three quarters as they piled on seven of the first eight majors and finished off with a 9.4 (58) to 2.3 (15) victory.

The first term started with ruck Leah Cutting and 2019 league best and fairest Najwa Allen winning a number of crucial touches to lock the ball inside 50. Madison Newman and Rachelle Martin were working hard in the defensive half of the ground as Abbie Ballard was burrowing in to lay a game-high six tackles in the first term. Despite Norwood having the early ascendancy, once West Adelaide got it forward, the Bloods locked it inside their own forward 50, and after a couple of opportunities, earned a free kick straight in front of goal to Chelsea Biddell. The key position utility made no mistake 20m out and handed her side the early lead.

Norwood tried to answer off the next stoppage by getting it down to Matilda Zander at half-forward but a smart intercepting by Bloods’ captain Lauren Rodato sent the ball back up the field. Not long after, Zander had a great chance running into the open goal but shanked the kick – something both sides would have a tendency of doing throughout the game. In fact, three minutes later, Nicole Hooper sprayed it out on the full herself following a quick snap. But a second chance less than a minute later came via another free kick in front of goal and once against West made no mistake to go 11 points up at the first break.

The Redlegs came out fiercely to try and attack from the get-go in the second term, but a quick shot hits the behind post and yet again Newman was there to mop up. The tenacity of the Bloods was obvious as their pressure went to another level and created a scoring opportunity through Kasia Culhane and then Stevie-Lee Thompson bu the shot just missed. Emma Smith was having a big influence at half-forward, driving the ball in, and Zoe Venning was winning plenty of the ball, but had very little space at times. In the end, the pressure of the Bloods resulted in a third goal, and a second to Biddell who marked strong overhead and converted off a slight angle.

West had a few more chances in the term, but the work of Cassie Tsoumbris coming off half-back, and Cutting through the middle, as well as Allan working hard around the ground, avoided the Redlegs being further down at the half. Rhiannon Busch was also winning plenty of the football with 11 kicks to the main break, only behind Allen for her side, while Neman and Martin led all-comers for disposals at half-time.

The third term is often referred to as the premiership quarter, and while it might not have been a premiership, it is where the game was won. West Adelaide progressed through to a preliminary final with four goals to one off the back of some terrific play. Venning and Thompson were quite often involved, but for the first one it was Biddell who found Rachael Killian inside 50. The kick drifted to the right, but Biddell marked it on the line and rather than go for the snap from the tight angle spotted Martin straight in front of goal 20m out, found her and her teammate rewarded her with a perfect set shot goal. When Ballard crumbed the ball off the pack a couple of minutes later, the lead was out to 31 points and the Bloods fans were sniffing their first ever finals win.

Refusing to give up, the ball raced down the other end off the next stoppage and went from Allen to Zander tight in the pocket. This time the number one made no mistake from the set shot with a perfectly weighted kick that sailed through from 20m and there was a slight pulse. It was soon be put to bed though as the next stoppage also resulted in a goal – to West Adelaide. Straight out of the middle it hit Hooper leading out, and following her clunking mark, nailed the set shot and the lead surpassed five goals. The game was all but sealed and delivered with Keeley Kusterman drifting forward and hitting up Thompson who dropped the mark, but recovered well to quickly snap with the outside of the boot not far from the siren with West leading by 37 points.

Needing a miracle and early goals, Norwood had a hail Mary in the form of Alana Lishmund who won a free kick 90 seconds into the game and kicked truly to put the margin back to 31. Another behind a few minutes later made it a square 30 points, but that was as close as it got with the West Adelaide defence and whole ground pressure overwhelming. Smith was superb, as was Newman, while Ballard and Martin’s tackling pressure all over the field was immense.

It led the way for a couple of Thompson goals late in the piece as Norwood looked to switch inside the defensive 50 and the dangerous pass inside was picked off by Thompson. Moments later, a Zoe Greer tackle in defensive 50 led to an end-to-end play with Thompson out-bodying her opponent and kicking from metres out. Even Newman got in on the party, swung forward late, but her set shot was just touched on the line. It mattered little though as the Bloods got up 9.4 (58) to 2.3 (15) on the back of a superb tackling effort.

SANFL Women’s Finals preview: Semi-Finals – Fans treated to double header at Thebarton

FINALS fever is in the air and the four best teams remain in the race for the 2020 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition. Last year’s grand finalists North Adelaide and South Adelaide do battle in the first game at Thebarton Oval for automatic entry into the grand final, before Norwood and West Adelaide face off to remain in the hunt and head into a preliminary final next week.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Sunday, August 9, 10.30am at Thebarton Oval

It is the clash that many SANFL Women’s fans have been waiting for, the two best teams in the competition going head-to-head at full strength and with so much talent across the field. North Adelaide Roosters, led by Krissie Steen naturally hold favouritism as they are yet to drop a game in 2020. The last time the Roosters looked vulnerable was way back in Round 4 of this season when South Adelaide pushed them for four quarters in an absolute thriller. The four-point margin in favour of the visiting side ultimately determined which order the top sides would finish, as neither side lost another game. South Adelaide might not have been blowing teams off the part to the extent that Roosters have, but Rick Watts has his charges primed for a third consecutive flag knowing the pressure of favouritism is off.

These two teams faced off in the decider last year, where South took control after quarter time and just kept the Roosters at arms-length to get up 4.7 (31) to 1.3 (9). It is expected the scores on the weekend will be much higher with some seriously talented forward lines. In saying that, both teams have remarkable back six’s, so it will not be easy to score against. The aspect about this matchup that people are most intrigued about is that they have not faced off again since their AFL Women’s talents returned.

This arguably gives the Roosters a boost given they have welcomed in arguably the competition’s best player – given she was a club best and fairest winner and All-Australian at the elite level – in Anne Hatchard, as well as reliable and recently retired, Talia Radan, and the dangerous forward in Britt Perry. South Adelaide has added Crows’ teenage ruck Montana McKinnon – who also played games prior to the break while she was waiting to crack into the Crows team – as well as speedster Hannah Munyard, and defender Lisa Whiteley. Both represented Western Bulldogs and GWS GIANTS in 2019, and both have since headed home and will represent the tri-colours next season.

In terms of in-form players from the last two matchups, it is hard to look past South tall, Indy Tahau. Winning the Best on Ground medal in the 2019 SANFL Women’s Grand Final, she booted two goals from 20 touches, and then back it up with a strong 16-disposal, 17-hitout and 10-tackle game earlier this year. Adelaide train-on talent Czenya Cavouras will be a welcome return for the Panthers after missing a couple of games to injury, she is averaging the 21.5 disposals, 3.5 clearances, 4.5 inside 50s and 7.0 tackles. The third Panther to highlight is Teah Charlton who booted a crucial goal in the grand final last year, having 18 touches, four marks and five tackles, before a quieter outing earlier this season with 12 touches, four marks and six tackles.

North Adelaide has changed so much since last year’s grand final with one of the Roosters’ best in Kendall Howell named back in the side this week. She gathered 19 touches and six rebounds in last year’s decider, and had 12 touches and five marks in the 2020 victory over South. Lauren Daniel has been an experienced campaigner who has performed in both matches, picking up 15 disposals, four tackles and three inside 50s in the grand final, and then 18 touches, four marks, three tackles, three clearances and three rebounds earlier this year. Then there is Amber Ward who had eight rebounds from 16 touches and three marks last year, and it was Kristi Harvey this year who won the game with her work in defence racking up 15 disposals, eight marks – two contested, six tackles and eight rebounds.

Fast forward to this matchup today and the Roosters have been in ominous form, only conceding one goal in the past three weeks – not a typo – as they have completely powered past sides, albeit three of the bottom four sides. North Adelaide have booted 33.37 (235) to 1.8 (14) in that time with a percentage of 943. The Roosters are usually accurate but had a down day last round in terms of accuracy with 7.17, but that was as much credit to Central District’s defence as it was to North’s missed chances. In the two matches prior to those three thumpings, the Roosters defeated Glenelg by 18 points, and Norwood by 45 in strong performances.

South Adelaide has had a weird fixture to end the season, playing twice against each of West Adelaide and Central District, as well as Glenelg. The Bloods have provided a great measuring stick against the Panthers, with South getting up by 18 points in Round 7, and and 12 points last round. The trick with South Adelaide is that the Panthers just find a way to get it done. No matter what the score, the Panthers are the best at adapting to a style of playing and then beating the opposition with that style. They might not have belted teams in the last month, but they have beaten quality opposition off the back of terrific defence.

The most exciting area of the ground to watch will be North Adelaide’s forward line up against South Adelaide’s defence, with the likes of Ash Woodland – fresh off another four-goal haul – alongside Cristie Castle, Daniel, Perry and speedster Katelyn Pope going head-to-head with the reliable trio of Jaslynne Smith, Lauren Buchanan and Samantha Pratt, and then no doubt Whiteley and Roosters’ Kelly Barltrop will also be ones who have a bearing on the result of the game.

Up the other end, Ward and Harvey have the best one-two intercept marking and rebounding punch of any side in the competition, but what makes South so good is creating space inside 50 and letting the smaller forwards go to work. Jess Kirk returns and was leading the competition goalkicking prior to injury, while Munyard has kicked multiple goals on occasions, and Madison Bennett is always dangerous at ground level. Tahau and Charlton are South Australia’s top two top-age prospects this year as the pair are in the AFL Women’s National Academy. Radan and Lauren Gauci can provide some good intercepting and run and carry respectively back there, and they will have their work cut out for them.

In the midfield, McKinnon will be keen to impress in her second game back from injury against Bek Rasheed who has been one of the most consistent surprise packets this season since coming to the club. Hatchard leads the Roosters’ onball brigade, but the likes of Leah Tynan and Hannah Ewings will go head-to-head against Nicole Campbell and Tahlia Meyer, with Nikki Gore and Pope providing the dash through the middle, It is likely the team that not only wins the midfield, but has the most effective inside 50 entries will be the winner. Both these teams are capable of locking down the hatches and defending well, while they also know how to score quickly.

If you had to pick a team, North Adelaide is hard to look past given its strength and unbeaten nature, but the general feeling is, if the Roosters are to lose, it will likely be against the Panthers. A grand final spot on the line, this is set to be a ripper.

NORTH

F: Daniel, Castle, Woodland
HF: Pope, McKendrick, Perry
C: Greet, Hatchard, Case
HB: Gauci, Ward, Sundstrom
B: Clark, Harvey, Radan
R: Rasheed, Tynan, Ewings
INT: Arthur, Barltrop, Gallio, Howell, Reynolds, Taylor, Woodards

IN: Hatchard, Howell, Pope

SOUTH

F: Bennett, Kirk, Munyard
HF: Tahau, Cavouras, Schirmer
C: Hammond, Campbell, Charlton
HB: Copley, Pratt, Buchanan
B: Haylock, Smith, Northcott
R: McKinnon, Meyer, Whiteley
INT: Gore, Wedding, Flanagan-Sjoberg, Gibbs, Clifton, Pennifold, Ross

IN: Gore, Kirk, Cavouras, Bennett
OUT: Rothwell, Peters

 

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Sunday, August 9, 12.20pm at Thebarton Oval

The loser of the first game will have the best opportunity to scout its next opponent when Norwood tackles West Adelaide in the second game. Unlike the North Adelaide-South Adelaide clash, there is no turning back for the loser with the defeated team out of contention this year. These teams have played twice this year, and both have been thrillers with Norwood getting the job back in Round 9 with an 11-point win over West Adelaide, while neither team could be split in Round 4 when they headed home with a draw prior to the extended break.

For most of the season, West Adelaide had held third spot on the table, going toe-for-toe with the top two sides, but two losses against them kept them in third. The draw and then loss with Norwood saw the Panthers drop back to fourth in the final round as the Redlegs enjoyed a huge win over a depleted Glenelg, while the Bloods went down in a fight against South Adelaide. In their most recent encounter back in Round 9, it was only a final term burst that saw Norwood create separation and celebrate a 4.9 (33) to 3.4 (22) victory.

The Redlegs almost kicked themselves out of it with seven straight behinds, before midfield dynamo Matilda Zander put through a crucial snap out of congestion. West Adelaide immediately trimmed back the deficit to under a kick through the great work of AFL Women’s teammates, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Chelsea Biddell, but it was loose checking on the defensive goal line that ultimately cost the Bloods third spot. With a free kick near the behind post, Tessa Hankinson was brought back on a sharp angle, but her opponent opted to stand on the goal line leaving the mark unguarded and Hankinson ran in to kick a goal from a couple of metres out, bettering the angle and helping her team to victory.

It was not the first time that Norwood had escaped ill-fated mis-kicking in front of goal. A week earlier, they kicked a frustrating 2.8, in what was a strange match. The Redlegs booted the first goal of the contest, then eight consecutive behinds against a Sturt side that refused to give in. It took until Kate Fenton‘s after-the-siren goal to give the visitors another major, and it levelled the scores and ensured the fourth placed team walked away with some points. A week later they knocked off the Bloods, and then took apart Glenelg in a strong performance.

West Adelaide did enough against Central District back in Round 8 to win by 22 points as Madison Newman and Thompson were dominant, booting four goals to zero in the middle two quarters to guarantee a win. The loss to Norwood cost them third spot, but they would have been pleased by the effort against South Adelaide early. They looked on from the first bounce, but could not sustain it across four quarters as quick goals to the Panthers was the difference.

Looking at this match, the battle of the midfields is absolutely crucial. Rachelle Martin had 21 touches and five clearances against the Redlegs in the Round 4 draw, and Norwood must find a way to try and stop her if they are to win. But she is far from alone in that onball brigade with the young talents of Abbie Ballard, Zoe Venning and Olivia Smith running around, with Mattea Breed a taller option who could play at either end or through the middle. Leah Cutting is one of the league’s best rucks so expect her to have a say on the contest as she leads a strong midfield group in Adelaide AFL Women’s talent and last year’s SANFL Women’s best and fairest, Najwa Allen, as well as Zander, Jess Macolino and Sophie Armitstead in there. The entire midfield is not afraid to get its hands dirty and win the contested ball.

Both these sides have some seriously underrated players in the competition, with Jade Halfpenny able to play at either end, as could Bella Smith who has been relishing the intercept marking role at centre half-back. The Norwood defence is strong, with Armitstead able to drop back there, and the likes of Rhiannon Busch mopping up everything that comes her way. The West Adelaide forward line is one of the most damaging when up and firing, with Biddell a key target, and Rachael Killian filling the role of Melanie Elsegood perfectly. Throw in midfielder Isabel Martin who can hit the scoreboard, along with Kasia Culhane, Thompson and Venning who both float down there, and the Bloods have a formidable group.

Up the other end, Norwood has Breed and captain Alison Ferrall as the targets to watch for, with Breed able to fly and Ferrall powerful on the lead. The latter returns for this game, and with Fenton a known goalkicker, and Zander and Allen both able to rest forward, the Redlegs have a versatile front six. The Bloods half-back line of young guns, Newman and Keeley Kustermann, as well as captain Lauren Rodato is the best in the business, but as Helen Maidment showed last week, she is more than capable of playing high half-back with Rodato dropping back deeper.

Both these sides have some incredible talent which showcases what they are capable of on their day. They can match it with the best sides, but they can also struggle against the lower sides at times. The team that plays its most on-brand game will win this, which by Round 8 looked certain to be West Adelaide, but the last two weeks have shown that Norwood probably deserve to be favourites. West have struggled through the midfield of late, and the Bloods have to win that to take home the points, while Norwood have to be smart with the inside 50s to stop the elite half-back line of the Bloods taking easy intercept marks.

NORWOOD

F: Smith, Bigg, Gould
HF: Tsoumbris, Zander, Macolino
C: Hiscock, Busch, Ferrall
HB: Avery, Cutting, Fenton
B: Allen, Breed, Armitstead
R: Halfpenny, Sporn, Gallagher
INT: Lishmund, Martin, Samuel, Hankinson, Rochow, Zerella, Barisic

IN: Ferrall, Lishmund, Martin, Tsoumbris, Samuel, Barasic
OUT: Karamoshos, Murison

WEST

F: Ballard, Scholar, Scutchings
HF: Kustermann, Biddell, Venning
C: Culhane, Rodato, O. Smith
HB: Newman, Thompson, Martin
B: Maidment, Killian, Doupis
R: Walsh, James, Greer
INT: E. Smith, Mason, Gray, Davis, Hooper, Harfield

IN: Scholar, Gray, Doupis, Hooper
OUT: Hardwick, Griffiths

SANFL Women’s Round 9 preview: Fourth spot up for grabs

A WEEK ago it looked like the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s finals series might be decided a fortnight out from it occurring, but after a stunning effort from Sturt to draw with Norwood, fourth spot is very much up for grabs. The top three sides – North Adelaide, South Adelaide and West Adelaide are locked into finals, the latter for the first time in the club’s history. Fourth spot will be one of Norwood, Sturt or Glenelg, with the Redlegs needing to win just one of their two remaining games.

 

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 25, 12.00pm
Thebarton Oval

Central District takes on South Adelaide in the opening game of the weekend and the first in a double-header at Thebarton Oval. The Bulldogs are mathematically in contention for fourth spot as they are two wins and percentage behind the fourth placed Redlegs. But unlike Glenelg who sit a spot above them on the same amount of wins, a couple of heavy losses prior to the break hurt the Bulldogs’ percentage and they would need to win by record margins in the final two rounds. Adding to the dilemma is the fact they play the top two teams, starting with reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide.

The Panthers are primed to strike but look destined to occupy second spot on the ladder due to North Adelaide far superior percentage. Unable to catch them unless they have a massive final two weeks and North slip up at least once, then it is near-impossible that South takes the minor premiership. That will not both them though as they won the premiership the last couple of seasons without it. In this clash they have lost a number of crucial players to injury and work commitments with Sam Pratt (calf), Czenya Cavouras (eye) and Jess Kirk (toe) covering each third of the ground, with Kirk being the competition leading goalkicker this year. Lucy Northcott will also miss the match due to work, but Tahlia Meyer returns.

For the Bulldogs, they have made a couple of confirmed changes, with Nicola Biagi out but Chantel Reynolds among four players coming into the side. Last week the Bulldogs looked pretty good in defeat, matching it with West Adelaide in patches, but not quite having enough to do it for four quarters. Katelyn Rosenzweig is firing up and looking dangerous, while Demi Sonneman and Gemma Doughty make a formidable and reliable duo down back. Shelby Smith has been a four quarter performer all season, whilst the likes of Alicia Butler and Latiah Huynh provide the speed, and Sarah Allan the class around the ground.

South Adelaide have no shortage of big names in their side, and whilst the outs will hurt, the Panthers have so much depth across the board they will make do. Teah Charlton and Indy Tahau could be South Australia’s top two prospects this year in the AFL Women’s Draft, while Lisa Whiteley had a sensational game in defence last week. Along with Jaslynne Smith and Lauren Buchanan, the Panthers will find a way to cover the loss of Pratt. In midfield, Meyer will slot straight in for Cavouras, with Hannah Munyard, Nicole Campbell and Nikki Gore among the rotations through there. Kirk will be the biggest loss, but no doubt coach Rick Watts will find a way to get the job done.

South Adelaide will head in as strong favourites because the Panthers just find a way. Even with backs against the wall and down, they know how to win. Central will give them a fight, and with the outs the Panthers are a bit more vulnerable than usual, but they should still win in a close one.

 

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Saturday, July 25, 1.40pm
Prospect Oval

All eyes will turn to Prospect Oval as Sturt faces an uphill battle in a must-win clash against the top of the table Roosters. For the Double Blues to play finals, they must win their final two games, and would no doubt be ruing the after-the-siren Redlegs goal last week as otherwise one win would have been enough in the remaining two rounds to at least match on points. The Double Blues’ task is made more difficult by the losses of Alysha Healy and Alex Ballard who miss the clash, with an extended bench added to Sturt’s side as the likes of Shae Daly and young talent Kiera Mueller coming in to add some strength to the defensive back six. North Adelaide have only lost ruck Bek Rasheed to general soreness as Hanni Howe comes in as a like-for-like replacement, and West Coast AFL Women’s defender Talia Radan also returns.

One area Sturt can try and take advantage of is in the ruck given the loss of Rasheed, with terrific middle-age AFL Women’s Draft talent Zoe Prowse among the most in-form players in the competition following back-to-back best-on performances for the Double Blues. The trouble will be trying to contain the Roosters midfield led by Adelaide best and fairest winner, Anne Hatchard, One has to expect someone will go to Hatchard to limit her influence, and it could well be Maya Rigter who went head-to-head with Ebony Marinoff a couple of weeks ago. Hatchard is more athletic though, and still strong which makes her a tough matchup for any opponent. Isobel Kuiper is one in that midfield group that might be given a chance, though it would be exciting to see her match up on fellow young talent, Hannah Ewings. The other third of the trio would be Georgia Bevan and Ash Woodland, with both midfields having a great mix of hardness and excitement.

Up either end, the biggest issue for Sturt by far is scoring. The Double Blues come up against a defence of Kristi Harvey and Amber Ward with Radan back in there too, stifling any high ball that comes their way. They might have to try and create a bit of a hazard ball going in there, with Nicole Baker looking good on debut last week, and young talents in Georgia Swan and Hannah Prenzler providing targets. Up the other end, there is no trouble scoring whatsoever as Kelly Barltrop is surrounded by the likes of Brianna Arthur, Kathryn Reynolds and Cristie Castle all of whom can hit the scoreboard multiple times in a game when required.

Sturt was good last week, certainly their best performance since the break. North Adelaide is a completely different machine though, and without Ballard and Healy, if the Roosters are firing on all cylinders then this spells danger for the Double Blues.

NORWOOD vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, July 25, 2.00pm
Thebarton Oval

Given the timing of this week’s fixtures, West Adelaide might have added a few more to the fan base in this game hiding their yellow and black gear. So much rests on this game when it comes to finals after Norwood’s slip-up against Sturt last week when the Redlegs dominated play but could not seemingly find the big sticks until the last kick of the day gave them a couple of points to bank. The celebration post-goal showed everything, that they were a much better chance of making finals than if they had lost that. But they still need to win one of their last two games to qualify, and it is a tough draw. First up is West Adelaide, a side that is frankly in better form and should win here. If the Bloods do, then it opens the door for Glenelg who should take care of Woodville-West Torrens in the final game of the day. In a way, it creates intrigue in the final round of the season given the Redlegs and Bays face off in Round 10. In other words, a virtual elimination final before an elimination final.

A lot of the talk will be around Norwood and whether the Redlegs can secure a finals birth with a win, but one cannot forget there is still plenty on the line for West Adelaide. The Bloods sit in third, three points off South Adelaide and if the Bulldogs upset the Panthers this week, then it is game on for second spot. In exactly the same way it is for Norwood and Glenelg. If West Adelaide wins and South Adelaide lose, then the final round clash between the Bloods and Panthers will be for second spot on the table and a double chance. Moving to the teams, Tiarna Harfield comes into the side with the Adelaide Uni player a straight swap for the injured Abbie Ballard who will be a key loss for the Bloods. The Redlegs have kept the opposition guessing by adding an extended bench with only Georgia Avery out of the side.

No doubt the youth of both sides will be the feature here, with midfield battles between Matilda Zander and Zoe Venning, as well as AFL Women’s experienced Najwa Allen and Rachelle Martin. Without her partner-in-crime in Ballard, Martin will look more to Zoe Greer, as well as Stevie-Lee Thompson to play more minutes in there. Thompson has been getting more dangerous by the week for the Bloods, and she is a part of a dominant forward line in Chelsea Biddell and Rachel Killian who also have that AFL Women’s experience. Norwood will need to contain the forwards, with Bella Smith likely to have a key role at centre half-back. Up the other end, Mattea Breed could be a target for the Redlegs along with captain Alison Ferrall, while it still seems a surprise teams do not try and negate the influence of Madison Newman. Easily one of, if not the most damaging players by foot in the competition, Norwood can not allow her to just run off half-back with ease because she can slice up opposition zones.

West Adelaide is in better form and should win here, but this is match of the round for a reason, so expect there to be plenty of highlights as teams jostle for the finals spots.

 

GLENELG vs. WWT EAGLES
Saturday, July 25, 4.45pm
ACH Group Stadium

Could Glenelg sneak into a second straight finals series with a late run in the final few rounds? It is certainly possible and for it to be in their own hands, the Bays must put this match to bed without any hiccups. They hold the percentage advantage over Norwood, but only marginally. Four points behind, there is no opportunity for wriggle room. Glenelg must win both remaining games and the Redlegs must lose both. One round luckily is well within the Tigers’ capabilities given they face off with the Redlegs in the final round. By the stage the first ball is bounced at ACH Group Stadium, the players will be well aware of what is on the line. If West Adelaide won in the prior game, then finals are well and truly alive, but if Norwood got up, then the dream is over for 2020. For the Eagles, they can actually avoid the wooden spoon with a win, holding a better percentage than Central District, a second win could see them take seventh spot on the table.

In terms of changes, Glenelg have a fairly huge loss in the form of Marinoff who is out of the side and the Bays will need to get the job done without here. The Eagles have also lost Kate Poole who has been a solid player over the past, but welcome back Stephanie Walker who will provide some excitement coming in at half-forward. The Eagles have a number of questions including where they play contested marking utility, Kiana Lee. She looked good in defence, but given they still lost by 86 points, now is not the time to try and stem the flow. She is the most damaging forward in the team, so should line-up there and potentially surprise the opposition with a few goals. If the midfield can match it with the experience of the Bays, through the likes of Chloe Forby, Jovanka Zecevic and Natasha Holmes, then it will go a long way to getting the win. The Eagles have always struggled in the ruck, and Caitlin Gould had a field day last time out against this team, something the visitors will be well aware of and looking to contain.

Glenelg has the experience in Gould, Eloise Jones and Deni Varnhagen able to play in multiple positions across the ground. With no Marinoff, young talent Tessa Kohn should get into the midfield again where she is not afraid to win the contested ball. Madisyn Freeman, Sam Franson and Brooke Tonon do not might moving the ball, which they will need to do against an Eagles side that has some runners. Jamie Parish played an underrated game off half-back last week, and along with Tesharna Maher and Renee Forth, their half-back line can repel Tigers attacks if they back themselves. Charlotte Dolan has been shifted up to a wing which is a good move as another who takes the game on, while Zahn Anthony has played some impressive football of late. It will not be easy to win, but if the Eagles are to cause an upset, they need to be unpredictable, take chances and run the ball. The midfield cannot afford to be exposed and they have to limit the influence of Gould around the ground.

Glenelg just have too much top-end talent in this game even without Marinoff, but Eagles should make it closer than last time. The 86-point loss last week to North Adelaide was not as bad as the scoreboard might suggest, but they are still a fair way off the top sides. Not without a chance in this game the Eagles, but Glenelg have much more on the line and one cannot see them dropping this game, particularly if Norwood loses and opens the door for the Tigers.