Tag: Olivia Purcell

AFL Women’s preview: Round 3 – Make or break games set the scene for third round of action

IT is now or never for a number of teams who sit on a knifes-edge when it comes to their finals aspirations. While some sides will finish the round undefeated with three wins, other teams will head into Monday doing the maths as to how many wins they need to make finals. With many teams at 1-1, this is the earliest junction in the season where sides can make a getaway from the sides around them, or fall back and have to play catch-up football in the run home.

Friday, February 21

St Kilda v. Melbourne at RSEA Park, 7:10pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

With St Kilda still looking for their first win in AFLW history, Melbourne will be hoping to keep the good times rolling and make it three from three. it has been a tricky initiation for the Saints who have been competitive for large chunks of time but lack that little bit of finesse and experience in the crucial moments as opposed to the Demons. Melbourne have been in hot form downing premiership favourites North Melbourne in Round 1 and dismissing the Dogs by 20 points last round proving just how damaging they can be when on song.

It is hard to deny that Melbourne look like a much better side with Daisy Pearce back in the mix. The skilful footballer can extract the footy out of congestion and use the ball efficiently by hand or foot adding that touch of class to an already strong side. Teammates, Karen Paxman and Elise O’Dea provide an experienced head across the field something they will be hoping to use against a relatively young and inexperienced Saints side. Libby Birch is a ball magnet and will be hoping to once again have a profound impact across the ground with her silky skills. In their second year of AFLW youngsters Tyla Hanks and Shelley Heath have been building into some hot form with their tackling pressure the key aspect of their game play.

Despite taking it to the Crows last round, St Kilda let it slip when it counted and will be hoping for a more rounded four quarter performance against some tough opposition. The Saints have plenty of young talent with Rising Star nominee Georgia Patrikios leading the pack with her cleanliness below her knees, quick hands and spatial awareness. Patrikios has made a seamless transition into AFLW with fellow draftee Tarni White also making a splash with an impressive 18 disposals last round while Molly McDonald and Nicola Xenos will be hoping to leave a lasting imprint this round. Expect the young guns to look to the likes of Tilly Lucas-Rodd, Jessica Sedunary and Rhiannon Watt to lead the way and provide some guidance given their experience and high footy nous.

Tip: Melbourne by 22 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 T.Luke 22
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: C.Munn 13 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 C.Phillips 35
I/C: D.Guttridge 5 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 N.Xenos 27 I.Shannon 11

Emerg: S.Johnson 6 P.Kelly 16

In: T.Luke, I.Shannon
Out: C.Fitzpatrick (concussion), C.Whitfort

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: S.Heath 30 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 C.Sherriff 18 N.McEvoy 17 M.Guerin 22 E.O’Dea 5

Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

In: M.Guerin
Out: A.Kemp (knee)

Saturday, February 22

Western Bulldogs v. Carlton at Whitten Oval, 3:10pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

The Western Bulldogs will be hoping to take advantage of their home ground and inflict pain on the Blues who were well and truly shocked last round by Collingwood. The Dogs have had an up and down start to the 2020 season getting an easy win in the opening round and then well held in Round 2 much like their opposition making for an interesting battle on Saturday. Both sides will be vying for their second win and given it is a short season a win here means everything. But after a seething comment last round expect the Blues to come out firing on all cylinders.

After a relatively disappointing outing the Dogs will be hoping to right their wrongs and get back on the winners list. Once again Bonnie Toogood provided the pressure up forward and will have to keep that going if they are to topple the Blues. The likes of Aisling McCarthy and Naomi Ferres have stepped up to the plate with their ball winning ability on full display while the likes of best and fairest winner Ellie Blackburn is in ripping form. Blackburn is a machine in the midfield able to dig deep and provide a constant threat. Both Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia still have plenty to develop but have shown promising signs with their physical pressure and ability to hunt the footy.

Carlton have a plethora of stars across the ground, none bigger than ball magnet and bull Maddy Prespakis with the 20-year-old not afraid to burrow in. She struggled at times throughout Round 2 given the heavy tag but has shown that she has the class, strength and smarts to think her way through challenges pairing with the likes of fellow youngster Grace Egan. The two proved to be a dominant force last round and will be seeking to replicate their form again this round. After an early goal Tayla Harris faded out of the game against Collingwood something that she won’t let happen twice with the talented footballer able to pluck balls from the sky and kick truly. Another one in the forward brigade that will be seeking retribution is Darcy Vescio who failed to find the big sticks but has shown that she is a force to be reckoned with her goal sense and forward pressure.

Tip: Carlton by 14.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 E.Gamble 14 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 D.Marshall 26 I.Huntington 4 H.Scott 22 B.Lochland 1

Emerg: N.Callinan 10 H.Munyard 20

In: I.Huntington, B.Lochland
Out: N.Callinan, A.Van Oosterwijck

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 C.Jones 22

In: J.Edwards
Out: J.Doonan

Gold Coast v Brisbane, Metricon Stadium, 4.10pm AEST

Tom Cheesman

The first ever AFLW Q Clash will be played on Saturday in the Sunshine State, as expansion side Gold Coast look to topple their undefeated Conference A rival Brisbane. The Lions are sitting pretty on top of the table thanks to a dominant round one victory over Adelaide and a come-from-behind win on the road against Geelong. Meanwhile, the Suns evened their ledger at 1-1 last weekend with an 11-point victory over fellow newcomers Richmond. Both sides have strong percentages to work with and are building momentum heading into round three, so this contest should be a belter.

Ex-North Melbourne and Brisbane midfielder Jamie Stanton has been Gold Coast’s most reliable player through the opening two rounds, rated best for the SUNS by Draft Central in both matches. She averages 18 disposals, four tackles and two marks so far this season. Leah Kaslar was great last week with 15 disposals and four tackles, while Kate Surman is proving to be an excitement machine for the Suns up forward. Northern Territory recruit Tayla Thorn will look to make an impact in defence for the hosts in what will be her first match of the season.

Brisbane NAB rising star nominee Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw plans on replicating last week’s entertaining three-goal performance. She trails Fremantle’s Sabreena Duffy by one in the race for the AFLW Leading Goalkicker award and would love to take the lead through a dominant performance against the Suns. Lion midfielders Emily Bates and Ally Anderson led from the front in Geelong with 38 disposals between them, while Lily Postlethwaite is showing plenty of physicality early in her debut season. She has amassed 11 tackles over the first two rounds and with a physical clash set to take place on Saturday, this number should continue to rise.

Tip: Brisbane by 9.

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo – C 22 L.Ahrens 7 S.Watson 14
C: T.Ernst 19 H.Dunn 24 C.Hammond 29
HF: B.Perry 16 L.Kaslar 11 K.Surman 26
F: E.Hampson 21 K.Howarth 23
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 J.Stanton 17
I/C: J.Hewett 20 D.Heslop 25 P.Parker 1 M.Ritson 12 T.Thorn 15

Emerg: S.Riley 8 A.Hamilton 30

In: T.Thorn
Out: S.Riley

BRISBANE

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

Emerg: J.Ellenger 5 J.Zanchetta 2

In: None
Out: None

Fremantle v. Collingwood at Fremantle Oval, 7:10pm

Taylah Melki

The top of the table clash will bring plenty of excitement with both sides undefeated and looking to make it three straight wins. It is fair to say that both the Dockers and Collingwood have shocked the competition with just how well they are going with Fremantle romping it home last round against cross-town rivals. Collingwood have found a new lease on life with their running style of play paying dividends and often giving them first purchase on the footy whereas the Dockers have a more attacking style.

Scoring has proven no issue for the Dockers posting some hefty totals already this season with the likes of leading goal kicker Sabreena Duffy doing a wealth of damage on the scoreboard. Both Kara Antonio and Ebony Antonio have proven to be a deadly duo with their tackling pressure and intensity a constant feature of their game. Roxy Roux bounded into Rising Star contention last week with a couple of impressive grabs and two goals to her name an effort she will want to repeat again this week while Mim Strom is continuing to ply her trade. Kiara Bowers had a best on field performance last week getting her hands to ball with ease and disposing of it cleanly with teammates Evangeline Gooch and Katie-Jayne Greive others who can inflict pain on the Pies if left unattended.

The return of Magpies star Chloe Molloy has been everything the club could have asked for with her running ability, hard edge and cleanliness along with her versatility a key aspect to the line-up. Molloy is a real excitement machine while livewire Jaimee Lambert has gone from strength to strength already and it is only entering Round 3. The potential return of the injured Bri Davey could further bolster Collingwood’s midfield stocks making them an ominous threat for the Dockers. Defensively the Pies have stood up to the task with damaging duo Stacey Livingstone and Ash Brazill acting as a wall down back and propelling anything that comes their way while in the ruck Sharni Layton has taken her craft to a whole other level. Brittany Bonnici and Mikayla Cann have been in ripping form for the black and white army and will be hoping to front up once again to get their side over the line.

Tip: Fremantle by 10.

FREMANTLE

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

Emerg: E.O’Driscoll 3 M.Clifford 4

In: None
Out: None

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 C.Molloy 2
C: S.Rowe 7 S.Casey 22 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13 B.Bonnici 8
F: M.Cann 25 R.Schleicher 18
Foll: S.Layton 1 E.Fowler 15 S.D’Arcy 4
I/C: S.Dargan 46 B.Davey 3 J.Allen 6 J.Membrey 21 K.Stratton 41

Emerg: M.Shevlin 35 E.O’Dea 50

In: R.Schleicher, B.Davey, K.Stratton
Out: E.O’Dea, S.Alexander, M.Shevlin

Sunday, February 23

Greater Western Sydney v West Coast, Blacktown International Stadium, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Kicking off proceedings on Sunday, one of the expansion clubs makes its longest trip yet when West Coast crosses the country to face GWS GIANTS at Blacktown. The Eagles have shown signs in their opening two games, but have ultimately been overwhelmed, while the GIANTS survived an almighty scare in Round 1 to just get the points against Gold Coast, before going down to North Melbourne last week. It was lucky the GIANTS did get the win against the SUNS, or they could be all but out of the finals race if they dropped this match as well. As it stands, that is the predicament facing West Coast, with realistically three losses the maximum a team could have and still make finals, though not many would expect West Coast to make the post-season series in its first season. The GIANTS on the otherhand are desperate to get there having not yet tasted finals action in three seasons.

The GIANTS have a consistent list across the board with a lot of underrated stars. Alicia Eva and Alyce Parker are a damaging duo in the competition, with Parker one of the top few talents in her second year. She has worked well winning the hard ball out of the middle and using her skills, while Eva’s evasion and speed make her a damaging prospect out of congestion or in space on a wing. The GIANTS have an experienced defence that just nullifies opposition forwards, with Tanya Hetherington and Pepa Randall back on the last line, and Jess Dal Pos providing the touch of class off half-back. Up forward, Cora Staunton is always a player you have to watch out for as an opposition defender, while Rebecca Privitelli is enjoying career-best form. Also in good form is ex-Crow Jess Allen, who becomes even more crucial in this clash in the absence of All-Australian ruck Erin McKinnon.

Parris Laurie will look to continue her great form through the middle as the leading tap ruck, amassing more than 20 hitouts a game so far. She has a very strong midfield at her feet, with Dana Hooker a top five player in the league, and captain Emma Swanson a real talent with ball-in-hand. Imahra Cameron has genuinely lit up moments in games with her breakaway speed and has been a huge inclusion into the side as a mature-age recruit. Mikayla Bowen provides the toughness around the contest, and McKenzie Dowrick adds the class and skill playing off half-back. While the Eagles forward line is still learning to function as a unit, former Dockers, Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins make a damaging duo, and once the midfield and forward lines can link-up regularly, they will be a strong force.

Tip: GWS by 20.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: J.Dal Pos 7 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: Y.Bonner 27 A.Eva – C 2 R.Beeson 6
HF: A.Schmidt 11 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: I.Nielsen 25 R.Privitelli 19
Foll: J.Allan 39 B.Tully 36 A.Parker 3
I/C: N.Barr 8 L.Steane 20 J.Barclay 34 L.Stephenson 12 H.Zreika 24 T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: J.Barclay, T.Mackrill, S.Halvorsen
Out: E.McKinnon

WEST COAST

B: C.Perera 27 T.Radan 26
HB: B.Smith 14 S.McDonald 35 M.Dowrick 5
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: A.Atkins 9 K.Gibson 2 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 T.Tester 23
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: B.Devlyn 7 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32 C.Davidson 33 D.Pisconeri 11

In: E.Bonser, C.Davidson
Out: None

Richmond v North Melbourne, Ikon Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The Sunday mid-afternoon game pits an expansion side against one of last year’s expansion teams when Richmond plays host to North Melbourne at Ikon Park. The Tigers enter this game without a win on the board just yet, and suffered defeats at the hands of Carlton and Gold Coast SUNS who are also 1-1 having lost their other respective matches. North Melbourne also sits at 1-1 from its two games, having gone down to Melbourne in a tight one out at Casey Fields, before bouncing back with a win over the GIANTS in Tasmania last week. It is fair to say the star-studded talent of North Melbourne will head in as strong favourites for this game, but with a number of fresh faces coming into Richmond’s team, it will be interesting to see how they line-up.

Joining Richmond’s extended squad in the game are debutant Ella Wood – with the former Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels midfielder named on the wing – as well as potential debutants, Ciara Fitzgerald and surprise non-listed call-up, Hannah McLaren. Both have been named on the extended bench in case of any injuries, while Tayla Stahl misses with a hamstring problem. The Tigers have a strong top-end with Monique Conti and Katie Brennan leading the midfield. Brennan copped flak throughout the week in the media and is likely to come out firing to silence the critics, which the North Melbourne midfield will have to be aware of for this game. Up forward, Sabrina Frederick provides a tall marking target, while Christina Bernardi and Kodi Jacques have been in good form this season. In defence, Akec Makur Chuot and Phoebe Monahan are just quietly going about their business but are statistically the top one-two duo when thinking about marks and rebounds. Wood adds extra hardness at the contest, and joins GWV teammate Sophie Molan, and a number of other youngsters, such as Laura McClelland and Sarah Sansonetti in the team.

North Melbourne’s depth is one of the envies of the competition and there is a reason the Roos headed into the 2020 season as the premiership favourites. With a strong list despite missing one of its stars in Jess Duffin (maternity leave), North Melbourne has more players that stand up in big moments than any other side. Emma Kearney is a Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner a couple of seasons ago and well heralded, but the work of Jenna Bruton and recently, Ash Riddell should not be underestimated. With Jasmine Garner in career-best form – which is saying something – and Kaitlyn Ashmore roving at the feet of Emma King up forward, the Roos have plenty of scoring options.They are missing that Duffin-type role off half-back, though Tahlia Randall and Danielle Hardiman have provided good strength in the air for the midfielders who drop back and help out to run the ball down the field. Overall, this North Melbourne side on paper should win this game fairly easily, but as we know with any match, games are not won on paper.

Tip: North Melbourne by 28.

RICHMOND

B: S.Sansonetti 18 A.Makur Chuot 34
HB: L.McClelland 16 P.Monahan 2 G.Seymour 28
C: E.Wood 17 K.Brennan – C 3 R.Miller 15
HF: S.Frederick 14 K.Jacques 10 C.Bernardi 6
F: C.Wakefield 8 M.Brancatisano 5
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 G.Campbell 43
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 S.Molan 1 A.Woodward 13 H.Burchell 9 H.McLaren 29 C.Fitzgerald 26

In: E.Wood, H.McLaren, C.Fitzgerald
Out: T.Stahl (hamstring)

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 J.Grierson 19
C: J.Trend 21 A.Riddell 7 E.Kearney – C 9
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 E.King 4
F: E.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 J.Bruton 35
I/C: A.Gilroy 8 D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 B.Lynch 20 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 A.Green 26

In: B.Lynch, M.King
Out: None

Geelong v Adelaide, GMHBA Stadium, 5.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The final game of the round might well be the best of the lot, perhaps barring the top of the table clash between the Dockers and Magpies. Geelong is hungry for a win, sitting at 0-2 despite statistically looking pretty good across the board and plenty of their teenage talents stepping up already in season 2020. Adelaide has been the walking wounded, having to bring in a top-up player back in Round 1 due to the multitude of injuries, and then bouncing back with a win – albeit not entirely convincing – over newcomers St Kilda. This feels like a game that could make or break both these side’s seasons. Geelong win, and the Cats are back in contention, while they lose and it is pretty much curtains for season 2020 unless they really get on a roll. Adelaide win, and the Crows are flying high on confidence and can sustain it long enough to receive some extra troops in the run home to finals, while they lose and the reigning premiers will be in a bit of trouble for their title defence aspirations.

Geelong lost at home last week to Brisbane, and will want to give the home fans who turn up for the second week in a row something to cheer about. The Cats have lost promising youngster, Denby Taylor to an ankle injury, but have regained All-Australian defender Meg McDonald, which would be a huge relief for coach Paul Hood. Maddy Boyd and Rebecca Goring have been added to the squad as well for the clash, as Geelong understands the importance of a win here for its finals calculations. The core group of second year players in the blue and white hoops have been simply sensational and a blueprint for clubs going forward. Olivia Purcell is in the top five ball winners across the league, while Rebecca Webster has been a marking machine and is the most improved player in the competition. Along with Sophie Van De Heuvel and 2018 AFL Women’s number one draft pick Nina Morrison, the Cats have a plethora of talent across the board. They still have more to get out of some of the depth around the ground, but with McDonald back, it releases some of the pressure off captain Mel Hickey, while Phoebe McWilliams will enjoy having Boyd back in the side as another target up forward.

The Crows go in with top selection from last year’s draft, Montana McKinnon – who dominated in the SANFL Women’s competition last week – and Courtney Cramey of whom both have been added to the extended side. The midfield duo of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff is ranked first and second in terms of disposals won, while Eloise Jones have gained some important minutes in the absence of star, Erin Phillips. Up forward, Nikki Gore and Danielle Ponter have improved in their second year, adding extra dimensions to the side, while Courtney Gum‘s new role as a deep forward has been important in providing leadership around the young players. The midfield battle between these teams will be fascinating, and if the Crows can continue their ball-winning and stoppage ways, then expect their forwards to have a good day in Geelong. But if the Cats can neutralise the midfield, then they will also have a huge chance of taking out the contest.

Tip: Geelong by 4.

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Webster 21 N.Morrison 9
HF: J.Crockett-Grills 6 P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
F: M.Boyd 26 R.Garing 12
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 R.Cranston 30 O.Purcell 16
I/C: M.Maguire 7 D.Higgins 2 G.Rankin 10 R.Caris 1 G.Clarke 17 R.Goring 44 A.McDonald 3

In: M.McDonald, M.Boyd, R.Goring
Out: D.Taylor (ankle)

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: S.Li 19 M.Rajcic 32 C.Cramey 22
C: A.Foley – C 3 A.Hatchard 33 J.Mules 23
HF: N.Gore 7 C.Gould 1 S.Thompson 14
F: C.Gum 5 D.Ponter 15
Foll: J.Foley 24 E.Marinoff 10 E.Jones 2
I/C: A.Considine 16 M.McKinnon 21 C.Biddell 12 N.Allen 8 M.Newman 17 N.Campbell 20 R.Forth 27

In: C.Cramey, M.McKinnon
Out: None

ROUND 3 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [10]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Taylah Melki [12]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Collingwood / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Sophie Taylor [10]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide
Peter Williams [9]: Melbourne / Carlton / Brisbane / Fremantle / GWS / North Melbourne / Geelong

AFLW Stats Analysis – Top 5s across the league

IN this week’s AFL Women’s Stats Analysis, we take a look at the top five performers over the first two rounds who have topped the stats sheet in the main statistical categories. The ones who immediately jump off the page include Adelaide’s Anne Hatchard – averaging six more touches than any other player and also second in marks with six per game – and Kiara Bowers who is averaging a mind-boggling 16 tackles per game, as well as finishing top five for inside 50s with 5.5 per game.

A host of young players have already made their way onto top five lists, with first-year stars, Tarni White (St Kilda, marks), Grace Egan (Carlton, tackles) and Roxanne Roux (Fremantle, goals) all making it. Some of the most improved players also make the top five lists, with Geelong young guns, Olivia Purcell (disposals) and Rebecca Webster (marks), Gold Coast ruck Lauren Bella (hitouts) and teammate Jacqui Yorsten (tackles), Fremantle’s Sabreena Duffy (goals) and Brisbane’s Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw (goals) those second year players to make the cut.

The expansion clubs will take time, but the likes of White, Richmond’s Courtney Wakefield (marks),  Phoebe Monahan and Akec Makur Chuot (both rebounds), and West Coast’s Emma Swanson (inside 50s) have already made profound impacts for their new clubs. There is still a long way to go, but the first impacts of these players has already been important.

TOP FIVES:

Disposals:

#1 Anne Hatchard (Adelaide) 29.5
#2 Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide) 23.5
#3 Olivia Purcell (Geelong) 21.5
#4 Emma Kearney (North Melbourne) 20.5
#5 Jaimee Lambert (Collingwood) 19.5

Marks:

#1 Rebecca Webster (Geelong) 6.5
#2 Anne Hatchard (Adelaide) 6.0
eq. #3 Courtney Wakefield (Richmond) 5.5
eq. #3 Tarni White (St Kilda) 5.5
eq. #5 Rebecca Privitelli (GWS) 5.0
eq. #5 Kate Lutkins (Brisbane) 5.0

Hitouts:

#1 Parris Laurie (Fremantle) 21.0
#2 Jessy Keeffe (Brisbane) 20.0
#3 Lauren Bella (Gold Coast) 19.5
#4 Sharni Layton (Collingwood) 18.5
#5 Kim Rennie (Western Bulldogs) 17.5

Tackles:

#1 Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 16.0
#2 Jacqui Yorsten (Gold Coast) 9.5
#3 Jenna Bruton (Western Bulldogs) 9.0
#4 Grace Egan (Carlton) 8.5
#5 Katie-Jayne Grieve (Fremantle) 8.0

Inside 50s:

#1 Jasmine Garner (North Melbourne) 6.5
eq. #2 Kiara Bowers (Fremantle) 5.5
eq. #2 Ash Riddell (North Melbourne) 5.5
eq. #4 Sophie Conway (Brisbane) 4.5
eq. #4 Alicia Eva (GWS GIANTS) 4.5
eq. #4 Emma Swanson (West Coast) 4.5

Rebounds:

#1 Ash Brazill (Collingwood) 7.5
#2 Phoebe Monahan (Richmond) 6.5
#3 Stacey Livingstone (Collingwood) 6.0
#4 Akec Makur Chuot (Richmond) 5.5
#5 Madeline Keryk (Geelong) 5.0

Goals:

#1 Sabreena Duffy (Fremantle) 2.5
#2 Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw (Brisbane) 2.0
eq. #3 Roxanne Roux (Fremantle) 1.5
eq. #3 Bonnie Toogood (Western Bulldogs) 1.5

AFL Women’s Top 15 improvers: Cats youth develop while Crows step up

THE AFL Women’s season is only two games in, but there have already been a number of impressive performers in season 2020. We take a look at the top 15 players who have improved their game from season 2019 to season 2020. While we understand that it is a matter of opinion, we have crunched the numbers to bring a factual approach, looking at those players who have bolstered their Draft Central (DC) Points the most in that time frame. DC Points are similar to the traditional fantasy points, with the exception of not including free kicks for or against, as to not penalise or reward players in that aspect of the game. It is a debate for another day, but overall this method is a good measure of improvement based on statistical areas.

What we have listed are the top 15 players in the AFL Women’s who have shot up the rankings in terms of their DC points, looking at their total points this year compared to last, providing an insight into those players who have really stepped it up this season.

eq #1 Rebecca Webster
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 221st / 20
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 7th / 72 (+52)

The clear standout for the Most Improved if there was such an award, with the former Murray Bushrangers skipper playing more midfield minutes in 2020 and benefiting massively. She has gone from a consistent role player in the defensive half of the ground, where she averaged 6.3 disposals, one mark, one tackle and one rebound per game from four games last season, into a ball winning juggernaut of 17 disposals, 6.5 marks three inside 50s and two rebounds per game, covering the ground more than before. It followed on from her strong VFL Women’s season where she spent a lot of time in the midfield, averaging 16.5 touches per game and showing the coaches that she was capable of taking the next step in her game.

eq #1 Phoebe Monahan
Richmond
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 221st / 20
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 7th / 72 (+52)

Crossing from GWS GIANTS to the Tigers over the off-season, Monahan was not as highly recognised as teammate, Christina Bernardi, but she has really stepped it up in season 2020 to match it with Geelong young gun, Webster. Having played at the GIANTS for two seasons and averaging between seven to eight disposals per game, Monahan has shot up to 17.5 per match getting around the ground and primarily playing out of the back half. She has already recorded a massive 6.5 rebounds and three inside 50s to help the Tigers, and while they have lost both their clashes so far, the 26-year-old has provided some good experience in defence for the young Cubs.

#3 Anne Hatchard
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: 14th / 73
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 1st / 121 (+48)

The only other player close to the top two in season 2020 is Anne Hatchard. Already a prominent ball winner with the Crows, the absence of Erin Phillips from that midfield group has forced Hatchard to shoulder more of the load with Ebony Marinoff and the other Crows midfielders. Having already averaged more than anyone else on this list last season with 73 DC points to accompany 18.9 disposals, she is far and away the top disposals winner in 2020, averaging 29.5 and holding the league record of 35 touches in a game, whilst averaging the six marks as well. While unlikely to maintain those kind of lofty averages throughout the season, her start has certainly been remarkable.

#4 Sharni Layton
Collingwood
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 207th / 22
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 34th / 55 (+33)

There would be very few who would have expected the former Australian Diamonds netballer to be this high up on the list, if at all. Having played six games last season off no real football experience, Layton rarely got near it and was learning from a blank canvas. Fast forward 12 months, and the ruck looks like a natural at the game, averaging 18.5 hitouts and kicking her first AFL Women’s goal in Round 1. She has also more than doubled her disposals and is clunking her marks, laying more tackles and looking a dangerous prospect for any opposition player considering her frame. While it might look like she burst onto the scene this year, the foundations for this kind of form were built in the VFL Women’s last season, averaging 11 disposals, 15.6 hitouts, three tackles and two marks per game. Stunningly, Layton averages the same DC points as Ellie Blackburn and Jenna Bruton, showing the form she is in.

eq. #5 Danielle Ponter
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 127th / 33
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 24th / 61 (+28)

With the high injury toll at the Crows, some of their next tier was bound to stand up, and Danielle Ponter has been one of those players. In 2019, Ponter played as a pure small forward in her debut season, playing eight games and snaring 13 goals in that time at an impressive 1.6 per game. While no doubt benefiting from the strength of the Crows line-up, she held her spot and then this season has moved further up the ground, averaging 12.5 disposals, 3.5 marks and 3.5 inside 50s per game. She is yet to hit the scoreboard, but is setting others up, using her class and poise to work her way through opposition defensive zones and she has a high upside for the future.

eq. #5 Breann Moody
Carlton
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 185th / 25
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 44th / 53 (+28)

Much like Layton, Moody is a player you might not expect to be on this list as the ruck roles are often underrated at AFL Women’s level and the focus being on the midfielders or key forwards. Along with Layton, Moody has been sensational to start the season, averaging 16 hitouts and 10 disposals, after just the 6.4 and 4.4 respectively from eight games last year. While deployed as a forward who rotated through the ruck last year, she has taken the number one ruck role by the horns and is thriving in 2020.

#7 Jasmine Garner
North Melbourne
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 29th / 59
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 3rd / 86 (+27)

Already considered one of the league’s best players, and certainly most damaging, Garner has been played up both ends but seems most at home in the forward half. Last year she broke even with her 2018 season at the Pies, booting the same amount of goals, but without the heavily reliance on her performing, and finding a pure role in attack. At Collingwood she played at both ends, and while 2018 might be considered her best year, she is only track to easily eclipse that in 2020. Right now she is third overall for DC points, and is averaging a massive 19 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal a game from her two matches.

eq. #8 Olivia Purcell
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: 39th / 53
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 4th / 77 (+24)

The second of the Cats young brigade to get a mention in this list, Purcell has bolstered herself up to be a genuine Most Valuable Player (MVP) chance. Not only has she maintained her ball-winning abilities, but she showed she can hit the scoreboard, booting two goals in her Round 2 match against Brisbane. Only in her second season, Purcell is averaging six more disposals and four more marks, getting to the outside more often, and also dropping into defence to help out as a key cog in that midfield group. Another player who build form through the VFL Women’s program with a strong season.

eq. #8 Aasta O’Connor
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 144th / 30
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 39th / 54 (+24)

Having an early season purple patch, O’Connor is back in the form that made her a damaging ruck at the Western Bulldogs a couple of seasons ago. Her first season in the blue and white hoops was interrupted and less consistent, but her start in 2020 has been impressive, coaching the younger rucks such as Rene Caris to come through, and is the perfect centre square ruck in the Cats side with the likes of Purcell, Webster and Nina Morrison all running around – players who O’Connor has mentored and watched develop through her role in the AFL Women’s Academy.

#10 Julia Crockett-Grills
Geelong
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 132nd / 32
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 34th / 55 (+23)

With four players in the top 10, it shows the Cats are doing something right even if it might not be shown on the scoreboard just yet. Crockett-Grills, like Purcell has developed into a fully fledged AFL Women’s midfielder, averaging 15.5 disposals, 3.0 marks and 3.5 tackles per game. She steadily built form in the Cats program last season, playing eight games in the AFLW since being drafted from the premiership-winning Hawks’ outfit. Her VFLW season was even better last year and she has continued that form in 2020 at the elite level.

#11 Stacey Livingstone
Collingwood
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq 110th / 36
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 27th / 58 (+22)

The reliable defender would be a lock for All-Australian if the team was decided right now, and it is little surprise to see her in this rich vein of form considering her VFLW season. She won the Lisa Hardeman Medal for best on ground in the VFLW Grand Final and has rolled that form into the 2020 AFLW season. Now into her fourth season, Livingston has really stepped up her offensive game to match that of her dire defensive work which saw her nullify many key forwards in the past. Now Livingston has become more of an offensive threat, which has shown in her improvements in disposal numbers (+4), rebounds (+2) and marks (+2).

eq. #12 Ash Riddell
North Melbourne
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 35th / 55
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 6th / 73 (+18)

While we have not included players who missed the season last year, Riddell did get on the park in a couple of games before going down in Round 2. Comparing her two games from last season to 2020, Riddell has been more potent on the attack, with six more disposals and three more inside 50s per game. She is still laying her 4.5 tackles per game and able to hit the scoreboard, but she is pushing up the ground and impacting the contest to a greater degree. After an elite VFLW campaign, Riddell is a good chance for All-Australian form if she can maintain her early season showings.

eq. #12 Christina Bernardi
Richmond
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 90th / 39
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 28th / 57 (+18)

The Richmond forward came with plenty of hype in the off-season as one of the famed trio to land at the yellow and black along with Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick. Her season at the GIANTS was underwhelming, playing deeper that she did at Collingwood and not having the same impact. Now at Richmond, Bernardi is having a greater influence on the game up the field, averaging 13.5 disposals and 3.5 marks per game, back in the form she was in for the black and white in 2018.

eq. #12 Renee Forth
Adelaide
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 90th / 39
2020 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 28th / 57 (+18)

Of all the marquee players from the inaugural season, the 32-year-old Forth is often seen as flying under the radar. She crossed from the GIANTS to the Crows last season and played in a premiership off the back of an improved year without the injury concerns of 2018. In 2020, Forth has already lifted her numbers across the board, and is averaging double-figure disposals as well as a career-high 3.5 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s per game. Not a known huge ball winner like some of her teammates, she has stepped it up so far and is playing her role well.

#15 Gemma Houghton
Fremantle
2019 DC Rank + Ave: eq. 53rd / 46
2020 DC Rank + Ave: 22nd / 63 (+17)

The Fremantle tall forward is flying under the radar this season despite becoming a real target inside 50. With all the talk around the young crop coming through at the Dockers, Houghton is going about her business to average 13.0 disposals, 4.5 marks, 3.0 hitouts, 3.5 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s and a goal per game. She covers a lot of ground and is doing well in a number of areas and has already been one of the top key forwards this season.

AFL Women’s Round 2 review: Magpies break arch rivals curse as Dees, Lions and Dockers remain unbeaten

COLLINGWOOD has beaten arch-rival Carlton for the first time in its AFL Women’s history, while Melbourne, Brisbane and Fremantle remained undefeated with the Pies at the conclusion of Round 2.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 2.0 (12)
MELBOURNE 2.3 | 2.6 | 4.8 | 4.8 (32)

Peter Williams

Melbourne has remained undefeated in season four of the AFL Women’s competition, claiming a 20-point victory over traditional rivals the Western Bulldogs under lights at Whitten Oval. The Dees were too strong, particularly in the second half where they booted two goals to one, but primarily controlled things in the first and third terms where they were able to build a lead and never let it up. Their overall disposal eficiency was better with 58 per cent to 45, while having an additional 35 more disposals, with a predominant kick-first approach. A telling stat for the Dees was their five marks inside 50 – leading to scoring opportunities – because once the ball hit the ground the Dogs showed some fierce attack on the ball. Melbourne was more prolific in the ruck, winning 31 hitouts to 18, but dominated the inside 50s with 34 for the match compared to just 15. By limiting the flow to the Dogs’ attacking end they never really gave them a chance, coming out deserving winners in the end.

Shelley Scott was the Dees’ top disposals winner with 16 touches, as well as six marks, three inside 50s and one tackle, while Daisy Pearce continued to remarked everyone of what she was capable of, working hard between the arcs with 15 touches, two marks, three tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds. Kate Hore was busy in the forward half with 14 disposals, four marks, four tackles and four inside 50s, while former Dog, Libby Birch got one-up over her former team and assisted strongly with 13 disposals, two marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds. Karen Paxman (16 disposals, two marks, five inside 50s, five tackles and a goal) and Maddison Gay (13 disposals, six tackles and two inside 50s) both his the scoreboard, while Casey Sherriff booted her first AFL Women’s goal in her second game.

The young pups showed some promising signs for the future, but were beaten in the ruck and had 11 more turnovers across the contest, unable to really impact the scoreboard often enough. The two goals came from Deanna Berry in the first quarter and Bonnie Toogood in the last, with the latter providing a good target inside 50 with 10 touches, two marks and a tackle to go with a goal. Aisling McCarthy was the Dogs’ top disposal winner with 15 touches, two marks, three rebounds and eight tackles, while Ellie Blackburn was strong without being her dominant self, finishing with 13 disposals, two marks, six tackles, two rebounds and one inside 50. Kirsty Lamb had 11 disposals – all kicks – as well as three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while 2019 AFL Women’s Draft number one pick, Gabby Newton continued to show great defensive pressure with 11 touches and six tackles.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: D. Berry, B. Toogood.
Melbourne: K. Paxman, M. Gay, C. Sherriff.

ADC BEST:

Western Bulldogs: A. McCarthy, E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, N. Ferres, G. Newton
Melbourne: K. Paxman, D. Pearce, K. Hore, M. Gay, L Birch

NORTH MELBOURNE: 1.0 | 3.0 | 5.1 | 6.1 (37)
GWS GIANTS 1.0 | 1.3 | 2.4 | 2.7 (19)

Michael Alvaro

Pre-season premiership favourite North Melbourne bounced back from a shock Round 1 loss, maintaining its undefeated record on Tasmanian soil with an 18-point win over GWS. While they looked scratchy early, the Kangaroos’ class through midfield shone through and helped the hosts break through for the 6.1 (37) to 2.7 (19) result.

In somewhat of a feeling out process throughout the opening term where both sides had a crack, Jasmine Garner found space inside forward 50 to boot the game’s first goal. Playing more of a midfield-first role, the former Magpie used her improved endurance to break into dangerous positions on the spread and still have an impact forward of centre. But her opening major was levelled by Haneen Zreika’s 50-metre penalty conversion, with the those the only two scores of a tight term.

But as the duo of Ashleigh Riddell – who suffered a season-ending injury against the GIANTS in 2019 – and skipper Emma Kearney started to take over, the ‘Roos began to take ascendancy. The home side’s stoppage superiority and willingness to attack through the corridor was rewarded with Garner’s second goal, while Zreika and Erin McKinnon were unable to capitalise on golden opportunities up the other end to remain in the contest. An Emma King goal with her first touch for the game came between those chances to rub salt in the wounds of GWS as North Melbourne took a nine-point lead into the main break. But North’s success in that term was somewhat soured as game-breaking forward Kaitlyn Ashmore was taken out of the contest following a clash of heads with GIANTS’ Irishwoman, Yvonne Bonner.

Despite the unfortunate and late injury to Ashmore, it was the GIANTS who were put on the ropes in the third quarter as Elisha King nailed a goal immediately after her own set shot attempt fell short. The luck simply seemed to be falling North Melbourne’s way in front of goal, but a coach killer of a free kick gifted Brittany Tully a six-pointer to keep GWS within touch. The GIANTS were organised well behind the ball and began to level the midfield battle as Alicia Eva went to war with Kearney, while Alyce Parker did her best to drive the visitors forward. It was to no avail though as Sophie Abbatangelo converted a tricky set shot from the pocket to make an unlikely comeback even tougher for the GIANTS, who kept kicking themselves out of the game.

Having put just about all their cards on the table during the third term, it seemed the GIANTS had little more to give in the run home. North Melbourne began to take complete control as the contest fizzed out, with Garner dominant at each stoppage and the improvised forward combination of Abbatangelo and Kate Gillespie-Jones too hot to handle. With the game played out on their terms, the ‘Roos ran out comfortable winners and got their season back on track.

North’s ball-winners in Kearney (21 disposals), Garner (20, two goals), Riddell (18 disposals), and Jenna Bruton (20) went a long way to ensuring they bossed the match, with Tahlia Randall’s sweeping efforts in defence massive in protecting the lead. Gillespie-Jones and Abbatangelo’s ability to hit the scoreboard in the absence of Ashmore and quiet form of Emma King was also handy, with contributors coming from across the board.

Eva (21 disposals) and Parker (16) were again at the core of GWS’ effort, while the debut of Lisa Steane (13 disposals) caught plenty of eyes. Zreika’s pressure and knack of finding the ball in advanced areas could have proven gamechanging if it weren’t for inaccuracy, with Pepa Randall and Elle Bennetts holding up the fort down back under immense pressure. Now 1-1, the GIANTS will hope to return to the winners list in Round 3 when they host West Coast, while the Kangaroos do battle with another winless newcomer, Richmond at Ikon Park.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: J. Garner 2, Em. King, El. King, S. Abbatangelo, K. Gillespie-Jones.
GWS: H. Zreika, B. Tully.

ADC BEST:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, A. Riddell, J. Bruton, V. Saad, S. Abbatangelo
GWS: A. Parker, A. Eva, H. Zreika, L. Steane, P. Randall, E. Bennetts

WEST COAST 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)
FREMANTLE 2.2 | 5.3 | 7.6 | 9.6 (60)

Peter Williams

Fremantle has made a mighty statement in the inaugural AFL Women’s Western Derby thanks to a massive 45-point smashing of competition newcomers, West Coast. The Dockers were far too experienced for the new Eagles, despite a number of players donning the gold and blue against their old side. From the get-go it was clear Fremantle was looking to back up its impressive win over Geelong a week earlier, booting two goals to zero in the opening quarter. The Eagles continued that dominance into the second term, booting three consecutive goals early to hand them a 32-point lead in the 14th minute of the term. It was not until former Brisbane talent, McKenzie Dowrick put one through that the Eagles fans had something to celebrate, though with Roxanne Roux’s second goal early in the third quarter and then Gabby O’Sullivan‘s major seven minutes later, the Dockers were home and hosted wit ha 34-point lead at the final break. Booting four goals last week, Sabreena Duffy got her name on the board in the final quarter, while Katie-Jane Grieve slotted a ninth goal for the purple side, pushing the margin out to a whopping 52 points. To their credit, the Eagles managed to get a consolation goal through Tarnee Tester 15 minutes into the last term, to bring the final deficit back to 45.

The Dockers easily won the inside 50 count 30-19, and looked better on the outside with 39 marks despite only having four more disposals. Kiara Bowers had a ridiculous 18 tackles to go with her 13 disposals, two mars, three inside 50s and two rebounds, while Grieve was not far behind her with great forward pressure, laying 11 tackles with 11 disposals, two marks, four inside 50s and two goals. The two tackling machines were the standouts on the day, though Jasmin Stewart was also solid with 12 disposals, three inside 50s, four tackles and two goals, as was teenager Roux who booted two goals and took four marks from limited chances up forward. Kara Antonio tried hard all day with nine touches – all kicks – as well as three marks, three inside 50s and six tackles, while O’Sullivan booted a goal from 11 disposals, three marks, four inside 50s and two tackles.

The Eagles preferred method was winning the ball at the contest, but were well beaten on the outside and then on the scoreboard where it counted. Nonetheless there were still a number of impressive players backing up from their first round performance. Imahra Cameron was superb with 14 disposals, two inside 50s and four tackles, showing off her burst around the contest, joined by Emma Swanson as the equal team-high ball winner thanks to 14 touches, four inside 50s and two tackles. Former Docker, Dana Hooker led by example with 13 disposals, three tackles and three rebounds, while Niamh Kelly had 13 disposals, two marks and three inside 50s. Strong midfielder, Hayley Bullas had 10 disposals and five tackles, while first year talent, Mikayla Bowen finished with nine disposals and four tackles.

GOALS:

West Coast: M. Dowrick, T. Tester.
Fremantle: K. Grieve 2, R. Roux 2, J. Stewart 2, G. O’Sullivan, S. Duffy, G. Houghton.

ADC BEST:

West Coast: I. Cameron. E. Swanson, D. Hooker, N. Kelly, H. Bullas
Fremantle: K. Bowers, K. Grieve J. Stewart, K. Antonio, R. Roux

GEELONG 2.1 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 3.2 (20)
BRISBANE 1.0 | 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.3 (39)

By: Taylah Melki

After a scintillating first half, Geelong fell away in the latter stages of the game, with Brisbane proving too strong. The Cats opened up a 13 point lead at the start of the second term and seemed to have the ascendancy but the tables drastically turned in the third with the Lions piling on three goals to zip. The trip down south did not seem to bother the Lions who after a slow start, put their foot down in the second half only allowing Geelong to add one point to their total. Despite the Cats having a wealth of possession they simply could not capitalise on their opportunities with Brisbane’s intensity inside forward 50 giving them that attacking edge. They took eight marks inside the forward arc compared to their opponents nil and laid a whopping 11 more tackles inside 50 than Geelong which in turn correlated into more scoring chances.

In her first season back from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, youngster Nina Morrison made her presence felt on the footy field with an equal team-high 18 disposals. Morrison threw her weight around from the get go using her clean hands to clear the pack while Olivia Purcell navigated her way around the ground with ease collecting 16 points and two goals. Rene Caris was strong in the ruck reading the flight of the ball well while Millie Brown found plenty of the ball with 18 disposals. Richelle Cranston was up to her usual tricks with her signature run and carry style of footy on display throughout the game but at times had limited options to kick to.

It was a game of two halves for the Lions with Emily Bates leading the way in the midfield brigade with her classy ball movement and go-get it attitude. Bates amassed a game high 22 disposals with 15 of them kicks and five marks to cap off her impressive performance. Ally Anderson was also amongst the best, often on the bottom of the pack or plying the ball out congestion with 16 touches and six tackles. Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw was the key target up forward for the Lions and she did not disappoint, kicking truly on all three occasions showcasing her impressive accuracy and goal sense.

GOALS

Geelong: O. Purcell 2, D. Higgins.
Brisbane: J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw 3, S. Conway, D. Davidson, G. Bodey.

ADC BESTS:

Geelong: N. Morrison, M. Brown, O. Purcell, R. Cranston, M. Brown
Brisbane: E. Bates, A. Anderson, S. Conway, J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw

CARLTON 1.0 | 2.1 | 2.4 | 3.6 (24)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.2 | 4.3 | 6.3 (39)

By: Taylah Melki

For the first time in AFLW history, Collingwood downed old foe Carlton to make it a 2-0 start to the season. The girls in black and white got the jump early in enemy territory, nailing a goal in the first 25 seconds of the game, ultimately setting the tone for the match. The Pies showcased their intensity, slick ball movement and ability to lower the eyes going forward from the get go, establishing a slim lead in the opening quarter and building on it as the game went on. Both sides struggled in the third quarter unable to do any real scoreboard damage thanks to the footy pin-balling around the ground. Carlton will be ruing its missed opportunities, with three shots falling by the wayside. But when it came to crunch time Collingwood capitalised, slotting the first major of the fourth term and putting the nail in the coffin in the dying stages of the game.

Stacey Livingstone had a game to remember with the defender nullifying the influence of Carlton star forward Tayla Harris after her first quarter goal. Livingstone amassed 15 touches for the game, acting as a human wall in defence, not letting the ball pass her while Ash Brazill showed her defensive attributes. Former Diamond, Sharni Layton continued her hot form with some classy work out of the ruck and impressive work below her knees setting up two goals. Jordan Membrey did damage on the scoreboard with two goals while the likes of Chloe Molloy (17 touches, five tackles) and Jaimee Lambert (21 touches) proved to be a force to be reckoned with in the midfield.

The Blues were run by their young guns, with the likes of experienced stars Nicola Stevens and Darcy Vescio struggling to find the footy. Maddy Prespakis was a machine for the Blues powering through the constant physical pressure and using her quick hands to release the footy racking up 17 touches, 10 of which were kicks. Meanwhile 19-year-old Grace Egan was a real ball magnet notching up 18 disposals and laying a whopping game high 11 tackles, while Lauren Brazzale ended her eight-point streak with a well-deserved goal. Injuries to Katie Loynes and Kerryn Harrington further dampened Carlton’s performance with the two limping through the game.

GOALS:

Carlton: B. Walker, L. Brazzale, T. Harris.
Collingwood: J. Membrey 2, S. D’Arcy, S. Casey, J. Allen, A. Sheridan.

ADC BESTS:

Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Egan, K. Harrington, G. Gee, J. Hosking
Collingwood: S. Livingstone, J. Lambert, C. Molloy, B. Bonnici, S. Layton

ADELAIDE 0.0 | 2.1 | 3.2 | 6.4 (40)
ST KILDA 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.2 | 4.3 (27)

Tom Cheesman

Reigning premiers Adelaide have defeated St Kilda by 13 points in a nail-biter at Hisense Stadium. The Crows were held goalless in the first term and trailed until late in the last quarter, but youngster Maddie Newman kicked truly with four minutes remaining to put them front and they did not look back. It was a heartbreaking result for the Saints, who were more efficient with ball-in-hand and appeared on-track for their first ever AFLW victory. Georgia Patrikios thought she extended her side’s lead with a set shot in the last term, but Crows defender Sarah Allan got her fingertips to it on the line. From there, Caitlin Gould levelled the scores after a contested mark in the goal square, then Newman’s goal and a sealer from forward Eloise Jones got Adelaide over the line.

Crows recruit Courtney Gum was outstanding, remaining calm under pressure when many of her teammates lacked composure. She finished with 19 disposals, five tackles and seven marks including a unique one-handed contested mark in the final term. Marijana Rajcic and Angela Foley were solid in defence and continually repelled St Kilda’s attacks, while Ebony Marinoff was dominant in the midfield with 26 disposals, five marks and four tackles.

For St Kilda, Caitlin Greiser provided a dominant presence up forward and kicked two goals. Tarni White was reliable in defence, while Kate McCarthy and Molly McDonald were dynamic up forward throughout the contest.

The Saints will look to reverse their fortunes on Friday night against Melbourne, while the Crows head to Geelong for a clash with the Cats on Sunday.

GOALS:

Adelaide: M. Newman, E. Jones, A. Considine, C. Biddell, S. Thompson, C. Gould.
St Kilda: C. Greiser 2, K. McCarthy, J. Sedunary.

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: C. Gum, M. Rajcic, A. Foley, S. Allan, E. Marinoff, S. Lee-Thompson
St Kilda: C. Greiser, T. White, K. McCarthy, G. Patrikios, K. Shierlaw, M. McDonald

2020 AFL Women’s Round 2 preview: Expansion sides to face off as inaugural sides do battle under lights tonight

ROUND 2 of the AFL Women’s is sure to bring plenty of big clashes and ignite old rivalries with Collingwood and Carlton set to do battle on Sunday while Fremantle and West Coast will take place in their inaugural Western Derby.

Friday, February 14

Western Bulldogs v. Melbourne at Whitten Oval, 7:40pm, AEDT

Taylah Melki

With one win on the board each expect a high intensity battle from the opening bounce in search of each teams’ respective second win. The Demons announced themselves to the rest of the competition last round, downing premiership favourites North Melbourne by two points and will be riding a wave of confidence heading into their Round 2 match-up. Similarly, the Dogs inflicted their fair share of pain on newcomers St Kilda with an impressive 25-point win. The Bulldogs were slick from the beginning, exploiting their oppositions’ inexperience and making them pay while the Dees fought hard to just get over the line and set up the makings of what could be a strong season.

After waiting 693 days the return of Daisy Pearce was exactly what the doctor ordered for Melbourne and their fans. The talented midfielder-turned-defender was right back in the mix, throwing her weight around and winning plenty of the pill around the contest, something that was sorely missed last season. Karen Paxman is as experienced as they come, able to sense the moment and have an impact while the likes of Elise O’Dea and Lily Mithen could prove a handful for the Dogs who lost a couple of key players during the off-season. Forward, Tegan Cunningham will be looking to have a big game after failing to trouble the scorers last round, only registering a point. But if Cunningham and Kate Hore get going the two could pose a dominant force inside forward 50, plus throw in the likes of Eden Zanker and the Dees have a lot to work with.

With Katie Brennan and Monique Conti both departing the kennel, the likes of Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb have taken their game to another level and will be hoping to have the same dominant impact as last round. Blackburn is a class act, able to read the play, apply strong tackles and consistently get involved while Hannah Scott has upped the ante. Number one draft pick Gabby Newton did not look out of place in Round 1 with her contested ball work and cleanliness, but will be keen to prove it was not a one-off with a strong showing against Melbourne. Up forward, Bonnie Toogood will have to deliver for the Dogs if they are to apply scoreboard pressure and get over the line.

Tip: Melbourne by 15.

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: K.Herron 31 E.Gamble 14 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 G.Lagioia 12
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: K.Rennie 24 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: E.Brown 9 D.Marshall 26 N.Callinan 10 H.Scott 22 A.Van Oosterwijck 28
Emerg: N.Morris-Dalton 25 H.Munyard 20

In: E.Brown, A.Van Oosterwijck
Out: I.Huntington (concussion), C.Moody (ankle)

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: S.Lampard 8 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: S.Heath 30 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: G.Colvin 32 C.Sherriff 18 N.McEvoy 17 A.Kemp 36 E.O’Dea 5
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 M.Guerin 22

In: N.McEvoy
Out: M.Guerin

Saturday, February 15 

North Melbourne v. GWS GIANTS at University of Tasmania Stadium, 3:10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

North Melbourne will be looking to make good on a shock Round 1 loss when it hosts the GWS GIANTS in Launceston. Premiership points may soon become a premium for Scott Gowans‘ side as it looks to top a tricky Conference A, and the pre-season premiership fancies will expect to pick up their first set in this clash. But the GIANTS are one of the few sides which can match the ‘Roos for experience throughout their squad, and already ground out a win against league newcomer, Gold Coast in an opening round thriller. While North’s home ground advantage paid dividends in its inaugural season, the GIANTS were already made to endure tough conditions last time out, which should put them in good stead to tackle the often-windy Launceston afternoons. Last year’s result – which swung convincingly to the way of the ‘Roos – will also be in the back of players’ minds, but North knows it cannot take anything for granted.

The debut of Lisa Steane looms as one of the stories of the weekend, with the 24-year-old teacher surprised mid-week with news of her inclusion while working. Steane’s replacement of Ellie Brush in the side is the only change for GWS, with its strong and experienced core remaining for what should be a tough test. The midfield combination of skipper Alicia Eva and young gun Alyce Parker will again look to lead from the engine room, and their work will be cut out for them given the depth and strength of North’s midfield. The Kangaroos have made two changes as Daria Bannister (collarbone) and Bethany Lynch come out of the side for Jas Grierson and local girl, Abbey Green, whose inclusion could free up Emma King to play a more permanent key forward role. It makes the North Melbourne forward line one to behold, with a couple of capable tall targets and the likes of Daisy Bateman and Katlyn Ashmore at their feet.

Given how deep the hosts’ talent runs through midfield and around the ground, they are rightly fancied to bounce back to more typical form. The ‘Roos should also take solace in the feats of reigning premier Adelaide, as the Crows overcame a surprise first round loss in 2019 to go undefeated throughout the rest of the season. While last week’s outcome should drive North Melbourne to better results, the pressure will be on given not many would expect GWS to trouble them a whole lot. Nonetheless, the Kangaroos should fare much better in this clash against a side which looks like battling for mid-conference status, so do not be surprised if a statement is made.

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Trend 21 E.Kearney – C 9 A.Riddell 7
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 K.Ashmore 10
F: E.King 60 D.Bateman 11
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 J.Bruton 35
I/C: E.King 4 S.Wright 17 J.Grierson 19 E.Gavalas 22 A.Green 26
Emerg: M.King 23 B.Lynch 20

In: J.Grierson, A.Green
Out: D.Bannister (collarbone), B.Lynch

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: R.Beeson 6 L.Stephenson 12 A.Lister 14
C: E.Bennetts 22 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H.Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 J.Hicks 5
F: R.Privitelli 19 I.Nielsen 25
Foll: E.McKinnon 23 J.Dal Pos 7 A.Parker 3
I/C: Y.Bonner 27 L.Steane 20 J.Allan 39 A.Schmidt 11 B.Tully 36
Emerg: T.Mackrill 32 S.Halvorsen 30

In: L.Steane
Out: E.Brush (unavailable)

Tip: North Melbourne by 20 points

Gold Coast v. Richmond at Metricon Stadium, 5:10pm AEDT

Taylah Melki

Two expansion teams are set to face off in an exciting clash at Metricon Stadium, the Suns’ first home game of the season. Both teams will be looking for their inaugural AFLW win, meaning there is plenty at stake for each side. The Suns were highly competitive over the weekend, narrowly edged out by the Giants by a mere one point while the Tigers simply had no answers for the rampaging Blues. Gold Coast went down in trying conditions with rain and wind impacting their ability to handle the ball cleanly and hit the scoreboard. On the other hand, Richmond were simply outclassed – unable to combat the torrential storm that was Carlton credit to their onslaught of pressure in the forward 50. But the girls in yellow and black know how to fight, not willing to be bullied across the field and will be hoping to assert themselves on a relatively young and inexperienced Gold Coast Suns outfit.

Richmond has a plethora of star power across the footy field, none bigger than captain Katie Brennan who has showcased her ability to turn a game on its head. Brennan will have to push up through the midfield, more to give players a chop out and provide added support despite her best work being done inside forward 50 with her leading patterns and strong hands. Full forward Sabrina Frederick could prove to be a handful for the Suns given her strength around the contest and ability to gobble up anything that comes her way while the nifty Monique Conti has shown she is all class with ball in hand, able to hit a target from a mile away. Phoebe Monahan was a ball magnet last round along with Christina Bernardi. The two will have to combine once again if they are to trouble the Suns.

Despite not being top-loaded in a-list class the Suns have a wealth of young up and coming stars that can do damage anywhere on the field. Youngsters in Serene Watson and Ellie Hampson offer plenty of excitement for the Suns’ line-up which could give them that upper hand thanks to their raw talent and unpredictability. Lauren Aherns led from the front last round, recording an equal team-high 15 touches running around ragged and burrowing in hard while Jamie Stanton was strong across the ground for the Suns. Captain Leah Kaslar will have her work cut out for her up against a strong Tigers side.

Tip: Richmond by 5.

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 S.Watson 14
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 C.Hammond 29
HF: P.Parker 1 K.Surman 26 L.Kaslar – C 11
F: E.Hampson 21 B.Perry 16
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 H.Dunn 24
I/C: J.Hewett 20 M.Ritson 12 S.Riley 8 D.Heslop 25 K.Howarth 23
Emerg: T.Thorn 15 T.Groves-Little 3

In: E.Hampson
Out: A.Hamilton

RICHMOND

B: R.Miller 15 G.Seymour 28
HB: S.Sansonetti 18 P.Monahan 2 A.Makur Chuot 34
C: K.Jacques 10 K.Brennan – C 3 H.Burchell 9
HF: S.Frederick 14 C.Wakefield 8 T.Stahl 24
F: L.McClelland 16 C.Bernardi 6
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 A.Woodward 13
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 S.Molan 1 M.Brancatisano 5 G.Campbell 43
Emerg: E.Wood 17 C.Fitzgerald 26

In: G.Campbell
Out: H.Whitford (injured)

West Coast Eagles v. Fremantle Dockers at Optus Stadium 7:10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The Western Derby is the pride of Western Australia and for the first time ever at AFL Women’s level, the two sides can continue the tradition. West Coast and Fremantle go head-to-head in a Saturday night blockbuster with both teams coming off varying form. Last week, West Coast looked strong up against Collingwood at Victoria Park, booting the first goal and holding the Magpies scoreless in the opening term, before Collingwood took control and ran away comfortable victors in the end. Fremantle on the other hand did finish the job, knocking over fellow finalist Geelong in Western Australia in an effort that saw youngster, Sabreena Duffy win Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the week with four of her side’s six goals in the win. Both in Conference B – the more competitive conference – every win is absolutely crucial and neither side will want to relent against its biggest rival.

West Coast is the new kid on the block and they showed last week that they will be competitive, it will just be for how long. Dana Hooker plays her former side this week and it will unlikely faze the star who booted the club’s inaugural – and in the end, only – goal last week with a clever snap out of the pack. She was simply sensational across the four quarters, while Emma Swanson was also impressive with the pair leading from the front as vice-captain and captain respectively. Mikayla Bowen brought her tackling pressure from the Under 18s up to the elite level, while Imahra Cameron showed she has a nice set of wheels to burst away from stoppages and cause headaches for the opposition. Add in the smooth skills of McKenzie Dowrick coming off half-back and the reliability of Chantella Perera and Talia Radan on the last line and the Eagles are strong defensively. The Eagles have made just the one change for the this game, with the club’s social media coordinator Kate Orme making her debut for the injured Ashton Hill.

The expansion side will need to be strong defensively against a forward line that has plenty of excitement and X-factor, including Roxanne Roux, who showed exactly why she was the first West Australian taken last year with her high leaping and booming kick. She is a franchise player at centre half-forward, and with fellow teenage talent Mim Strom, the Dockers have a couple of gems they can build a side around through the ruck and key forward spots. Also up forward is Duffy who was simply sensational, and Ebony Antonio, who with partner and captain Kara and tackling machine Kiara Bowers rotating inside 50, there is no shortage of scoring options. The Dockers have made two changes for the team in Round 2 with Leah Mascall and debutant Bianca Webb coming in for Steph Cain – who unfortunately did her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – and Mia-Rae Clifford. The question this season will be around the Dockers’ defence given the young rucks have already earned their stripes, but against an Eagles side still looking to gel, they should be able to contain their yellow and blue state-based rivals. In order to win they will want to shut down Hooker and restrict the flow forward while putting plenty of pressure on the opposition defence. Given many of the Eagles have come from the Dockers, the remaining Fremantle players would love nothing more than to get one-up on them early in the season and it will likely happen.

Tip: Fremantle by 35.

WEST COAST

B: C.Perera 27 T.Radan 26
HB: B.Smith 14 S.McDonald 35 M.Dowrick 5
C: M.Collier 8 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: A.Atkins 9 K.Gibson 2 M.Bowen 1
F: G.Kelly 15 D.Pisconeri 11
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 B.Devlyn 7 K.Orme 32
Emerg: E.Bonser 6 C.Davidson 33

In: K.Orme
Out: A.Hill (knee)

FREMANTLE

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

In: L.Mascall, B.Webb
Out: S.Cain (knee), M.Clifford

Sunday, February 16

Geelong Cats v. Brisbane Lions at GMHBA Stadium, 1:10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

This Conference A clash on Sunday looms as one of the more intriguing contests of the weekend. The teams head into the match with differing results from Round 1, as Brisbane toppled the Crows at home while the Cats fell to a Duffy-inspired Dockers outfit in the west. Heading into the clash, Geelong will start favourites against the current conference leaders, playing at home and with more experience in the line-up. For the Lions, they have youthful excitement about them and will worry a few teams. They will not win every game in the manner they did in Round 1, but you get the feeling they will push most teams and show that they are building something special for the future.

The Cats have not had to make any major changes to its line-up that fell to the Dockers last Sunday evening, bringing in Rene Caris and Maddy Boyd to their extended squad. Last week it was the developing midfield of Olivia Purcell and Rebecca Webster, teaming with fellow 19-year-olds, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Nina Morrison, while Julia Crockett-Grills found plenty of the ball as well. They are still missing All Australian defender, Meg McDonald from their back five, but the Cats have the reliable Mel Hickey and Maddy McMahon helping youngsters Millie Brown and Denby Taylor. Geelong is growing a great culture of youth all coming through together, and with Phoebe McWilliams and Richelle Cranston bringing experience to the forward half, there is a nice balance of talent that should get the job done in this match.

Brisbane does not necessarily have the names on paper that Geelong has, but some of the players will become household names sooner rather than later. Jess Wuetschner is a big loss for the Lions, having been rested after being struck by lightning on the eve of the season. While she got through the first game, the Lions have erred on the side of caution for a game-by-game basis. Coming into the side on an extended bench are Gabby Collingwood, Jordan Zanchetta and Jade Ellenger. Of the trio, Ellenger has played just the two games and is one of a number of teenagers who are in the Lions line-up alongside recent draftees, Lily Postlethwaite and Isabel Dawes, and second year players, Nat Grider and Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw. Sophie Conway made a successful return from a long term knee injury last round, and along with Ally Anderson and Emily Bates providing plenty of run and hardness through the midfield. Throw in the impenetrable Kate Lutkins at centre half-back and they have enough about them to worry the Cats.

Tip: Geelong by 15.

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.Hickey – C 18 D.Taylor 28
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Cranston 30 N.Morrison 9
HF: J.Crockett-Grills 6 M.Maguire 7 R.Garing 12
F: P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 R.Webster 21 O.Purcell 16
I/C: A.McDonald 3 D.Higgins 2 G.Rankin 10 R.Goring 44 G.Clarke 17 R.Caris 1 M.Boyd 26

In: R.Caris, M.Boyd
Out: None

BRISBANE

B: N.Grider 10 S.Campbell 20
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 C.Svarc 25
C: E.Zielke – C 8 B.Koenen 3 S.Webb 4
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Tawhiao-Wardlaw 30 S.Conway 12
F: D.Davidson 14 G.Bodey 15
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: I.Dawes 17 M.Moloney 28 G.Collingwood 7 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 J.Zanchetta 2 J.Ellenger 5

In: G.Collingwood, J.Zanchetta, J.Ellenger
Out: J.Wuetschner (managed)

Carlton v. Collingwood at Ikon Park, 3:10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

Traditional rivals and Conference B hopefuls Carlton and Collingwood are set to do battle at Ikon Park for a four time in their histories, in what promises to be a test of either sides’ true credentials. Both teams come in having feasted on competition newcomers in their opening fixtures, both running out on home turf in comfortable starts to the season. Bizarrely, last week’s season opener was an away match for Carlton, but the Blues once again hold home status against the ‘Pies in this match-up. While the extended history between these two powerhouse clubs is storied, their AFLW meetings have been much more one-sided – with Carlton taking out all three fixtures but the Magpies getting closer to a win every year. The Blues also fared much better in season 2019, embarking on a grand final run while Collingwood floundered and took out the Conference B wooden spoon. But with marked improvement already shown, Collingwood has the elite talent to take it to the Blues.

Much of the off-season talk and narrative coming in to the match surrounded ex-Carlton skipper and new Magpie, Bri Davey. Unfortunately for both neutrals and ‘Pies fans, the 2017 All Australian is set to miss this game after picking up a lower leg injury in Round 1. Davey’s sole omission opens the door for one of Kristy Stratton, Eliza Hynes, or Ebony O’Dea to enter the winning lineup, which has struggled at times to fill out depth outside of its formidable spine. With Davey out, the emphasis down back will be firmly placed on the pairing of Stacey Livingstone and Ash Brazill, while Brittany Bonnici and skipper Stephanie Chiocci will have to dig in hard to combat a powerhouse Carlton midfield. The ruck battle between Sharni Layton and Carlton’s pairing of Breann Moody and Alison Downie will also be one to watch, with Layton’s ability to provide use to her midfielders potentially key to shutting down a usually dominant Carlton engine room.

Twins Sarah and Jess Hosking will take the field together for the first time this year in navy blue, as the latter slots in on the wing while Jess Edwards and Abbie McKay help make up an extended bench. The Carlton core of Madison Prespakis, co-captain Katie Loynes, Grace Egan, and Georgia Gee remains, while the forward targets of Tayla Harris, Darcy Vescio, and Nicola Stevens should also work to stretch the aerial capabilities of Collingwood’s back five. Round 1 Rising Star nominee Lucy McEvoy is also primed to back up an eye-catching debut performance as part of the midfield-forward rotation, only adding to the hardness of Carlton’s overall unit. The only potential concern for the Blues may come down back as Jayde Van Dyk exits the side through injury, but the half back line of Kerryn Harrington, Lauren Brazzale, and popular mature-age draftee Vaomua Laloifi has already proven solid and will have to be as much against the likes of Chloe Molloy and Sarah Dargan. While this fixture has been somewhat of a mismatch in previous years, the increasing number of intriguing match-ups on across the field suggests this one should be a corker, with the Pies looking to elevate their game against the better-established Blues.

CARLTON

B: G.Pound 6 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 L.Brazzale 12
C: C.Dalton 15 G.Gee 19 J.Hosking 11
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 L.McEvoy 13
F: A.Downie 30 J.Doonan 26
Foll: B.Moody 16 G.Egan 1 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: S.Hosking 10 N.Plane 32 B.Walker 14 K.Loynes 2 D.Vescio 3 J.Edwards 25 A.McKay 5

In: J.Hosking, J.Edwards, A.McKay
Out: J.Van Dyk (injured)

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 E.Fowler 15
C: S.Rowe 7 B.Bonnici 8 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: C.Molloy 2 S.D’Arcy 4 S.Dargan 46
F: M.Cann 25 J.Allen 6
Foll: S.Layton 1 A.Sheridan 14 J.Lambert 13
I/C: S.Casey 22 K.Stratton 41 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 M.Shevlin 35 E.Hynes 11 E.O’Dea 50

In: K.Stratton, E.Hynes, E.O’Dea
Out: B.Davey (shin)

Adelaide Crows v. St Kilda at Hisense Stadium, 5:10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

This is expected to be an exciting show of talent for the future, with one side having been there and done it all – twice – while the other is still looking to find its feet in the new league as part of the expansion. A wounded Adelaide Crows side welcomes back some troops for the Round 2 clash against St Kilda with this match considered a must-win contest for the reigning premiers. The Crows were well beaten by a hungry Brisbane Lions side in Queensland, showing how tight the competition has become. Not even a record-breaking disposal count from Anne Hatchard (35) was enough to help the Crows get up in Round 1, and they will want to get a win on the board before the top sides in their conference get too far away. The benefit for the Crows was that fellow premiership contender, North Melbourne also lost, while last year’s finalist Geelong went down too. For the Saints, there are no expectations on their season with such a young list, but being competitive is the bare minimum expected, and after a nervous first quarter last week, the Saints settled and seemed to match it with the Western Bulldogs for large parts of the second half.

The Crows are still missing a host of names heading into this game led by Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall – the latter of whom will play no further part in the season – but have brought in a couple of debutants in Caitlin Gould and Montana McKinnon. Gould hails from Glenelg and provides a tall presence up either end, while McKinnon is a dual All-Australian at Under 18s level, and could genuinely start ruck if they required her to. Expect her to spend time as a forward however, a role she played in South Adelaide’s premiership side, while rotating through the ruck and providing some strong contested marking ability around the ground. Ebony Marinoff, Hatchard and SANFL Women’s best and fairest winner Najwa Allen form a strong onball brigade and with former MVP, Courtney Gum in the team up forward alongside Danielle Ponter and Stevie-Lee Thompson, they still have the firepower to get the job done. Sophie Li has also come into the side for the Crows, as the only omission was Rachelle Martin – a top-up player who was brought on due to Adelaide’s expansive injury list.

The Saints have made three confirmed changes, with South Australian Nadia Von Bertouch – missing a return to the state where she captained North Adelaide last season – while Kelly O’Neill and Emma Mackie have been omitted. Coming into the side is a mix of youth and experience with former Collingwood talent, Darcy Guttridge and ex-North Melbourne players Alison Drennan and Courteney Munn named in the extended side. Also in to potentially make their debuts are ruck, Poppy Kelly and tall utility, Isabella Shannon who continue the trend of youth at the club. Georgia Patrikios starred in Round 1 with a Rising Star nomination, and expect her to show just as much excitement out on Hisense Stadium. Teaming up with the likes of Molly McDonald, Nicola Xenos and Tarni White, the youth of the Saints will come good in time. They still have experience on the list, with former Crow Jess Sedunary set to make her return to the AFL Women’s having kicked one of the Saints’ two goals last week. While the Saints have plenty to like, expect the Crows to do enough to win in a tight one, even with a few still out. They are desperate, hungry and at home, so a win is non-negotiable when it comes to their premiership aspirations.

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 C.Biddell 12
HB: A.Foley 3 S.Allan 39 M.Rajcic 32
C: S.Li 19 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: E.Jones 2 C.Gum 5 R.Forth 27
F: D.Ponter 15 S.Thompson 14
Foll: J.Foley – C 24 A.Hatchard 33 N.Allen 8
I/C: C.Gould 1 A.Considine 16 M.Newman 17 N.Campbell 20 N.Gore 7 M.McKinnon 21 J.Tabb 28

In: S.Li, C.Gould, M.McKinnon
Out: R.Martin (ineligible)

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: D.Guttridge 5 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: N.Exon 15 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 R.Dillon 25
I/C: I.Shannon 11 A.Brown 2 C.Munn 13 N.Xenos 27 C.Whitfort 4 A.Drennan 8 P.Kelly 16

In: D.Guttridge, I.Shannon, C.Munn, A.Drennan, P.Kelly
Out: K.O’Neill, N.Von Bertouch (knee), E.Mackie

ROUND 2 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [5]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Geelong / Carlton / Adelaide
Taylah Melki [5]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Brisbane / Collingwood / Adelaide
Sophie Taylor [4]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Brisbane / Carlton / Adelaide
Peter Williams [4]: Melbourne / North Melbourne / Richmond / Fremantle / Geelong / Carlton / Adelaide

AFL Women’s Young Gun Watch: Round 1 – McEvoy and Patrikios earn Rising Star noms

IN a new weekly piece, we take a look at some of the top young performers across the AFL Women’s competition in Round 1, focusing on those players born in the 21st century (2000 or 2001). We analyse match-by-match just how they performed and what they did well.

RISING STAR NOMINEES:

Lucy McEvoy (Carlton)

The Carlton young gun had an eye-opening first half where at one stage she was the leading disposal winner on the ground, reaching double figures. Being a prime mover in the middle, McEvoy finished her debut with 12 touches, five marks, four tackles and five inside 50s to show just why she was a top two pick in the AFL Women’s Draft. Readymade to play at the level and a leader to boot – premiership skipper at Geelong Falcons where she was a captain since 16 – she took a huge contested mark on the wing and was not afraid to crack in when required.

Georgia Patrikios (St Kilda)

Last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) was enormous during St Kilda’s loss to the Western Bulldogs. Putting together a four quarter effort, Patrikios was the clear star for the Saints and really thrust herself into Rising Star calculations in a performance that showed she meant business playing against some star players such as Ellie Blackburn. She recorded a game-high 18 disposals, as well as two marks, five tackles and three inside 50s, as well as a goal assist.

Carlton vs. Richmond

Last year’s Rising Star winner, Madison Prespakis had an absolute day out in Carlton’s 34-point victory over Richmond. She racked up 21 disposals, three marks, five tackles, two inside 50s, two rebounds and booted a goal in a best on ground performance. Along with McEvoy, Grace Egan was also prolific, recording 11 disposals and laying six tackles in a fierce effort on the inside. Charlotte Wilson was the other young star who played, picking up nine disposals. The Tigers had a tonne of young guns filter through the team, with Kodi Jacques perhaps the most prolific, recording seven disposals and three rebounds, while laying a massive seven tackles. Northern Knights premiership player, Sarah Sansonetti bested her with a game-high 10 tackles to go with five touches in the loss. Maddy Brancatisano, Laura McClelland and Sophie Molan also played and had some strong moments across the course of the match on debut.

GWS vs. Gold Coast

GWS GIANTS’ first pick in 2018 AFL Women’s Draft was a star once again, stepping up to be her side’s highest disposal winner. Alyce Parker was the only one born this century for the GIANTS, and she represented the Millennium well with 22 touches, two marks, five tackles, three inside 50s and two rebounds. The SUNS had a number of first and second year players, with former Lion, Jacqui Yorsten the pick of the bunch after 13 touches, three rebounds and a huge 12 tackles in torrential rain. Serene Watson had six disposals and four tackles on debut, while Lauren Bella (19 hitouts) held her own against All Australian ruck, Erin McKinnon. Dee Heslop and Lexi Hamilton also played, with Heslop also recording three rebounds and four tackles coming out of the back half.

Melbourne vs. North Melbourne

Both these sides are in the premiership window with experience galore and therefore are unlikely to have too much to say in this piece each week. In saying that, the ones they have are quality, with Tyla Hanks and Shelley Heath running out for Melbourne in the upset two-point win at a windy Casey Fields. Hanks was one of the best throughout, picking up 11 touches, two rebounds and laying four tackles, while Heath did a lot more than her seven touches may suggest, winning a couple of high frees and bursting away to give the Dees some pace with her run and carry. For the Roos, Daisy Bateman booted an important goal in the first term but had just four touches in a role that saw her predominantly play deeper forward.

Brisbane vs. Adelaide

The young Lions were ultra-impressive against a depleted Adelaide outfit, showing they can knock over anyone when on-song. Among the young guns running out in the match, Queensland Under 18s captain, Lily Postlethwaite had nine touches and laid five tackles to show she could match it with more experienced opponents. Nat Grider had nine touches and four tackles in her first game of her second year, while Isabel Dawes and Jesse Tawhaio-Wardlaw also played up forward, with the latter booting a goal – equalling her one goal from seven games in her debut season last year. The injury list at the Crows allowed a number of youngsters to step up at the elite level, led by second year talent, Danielle Ponter who had four inside 50s from her 15 touches. Of the first years, Madison Newman looked comfortable at the level thanks to 10 touches, two marks, two tackles and two inside 50s, while Nikki Gore and Jaimi Tabb also were able to earn their stripes.

Collingwood vs. West Coast

Returning to Collingwood’s spiritual home at Victoria Park, the Magpies grabbed their first win in Round 1 from four attempts in the AFL Women’s competition. Mikala Cann and Jordyn Allen both showed why they warranted top 15 selections in 2018, with strong performances in the 27-point victory. Cann laid five tackles, had 13 touches as well as two marks and two inside 50s. Allen was a target inside 50, intercepting a number of defensive 50 exits to finish the match with 11 disposals, four marks and five inside 50s. Alana Porter made her debut in the black and white, signalling her intent early with a run-down tackle on Eagles’ speedster Imahra Cameron and providing some dash around the ground. She had nine touches and two tackles in the victory, while Lauren Butler also played and picked up a solid seven touches. Former Brisbane talent, McKenzie Dowrick‘s return to her home state of Western Australia looks to have been a success so far with the second year player recording 10 touches, two marks, two inside 50s and two rebounds on the weekend. Mikayla Bowen captained Western Australia at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last year and brought all of that tenacity to the game with 10 tackles and eight disposals. Sophie McDonald also played, holding down a key role in defence.

St Kilda vs. Western Bulldogs

Patrikios was the clear standout from the young guns in this match, but there were plenty to pick from as the future of the AFL Women’s was on full show at Moorabbin. Number one pick and Northern Knights premiership skipper, Gabby Newton played her first game and did not disappoint, rotating in the forward half of the ground and getting some midfield minutes on her way to 13 touches and a game-high eight tackles. The other two pups to earn a debut in Round 1 were Elisabeth Georgostathis and Gemma Lagioia, who were also members of the Vic Metro side that impressed in last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships. Georgostathis had eight disposals, three tackles and three inside 50s in the win, getting better as the game went on, while Lagioia looked classy with her six touches, two marks, two tackles and two rebounds. For the losing side, Molly McDonald would have arguably earned a Rising Star nomination had it not been for such dominant performances from Patrikios and McEvoy. The former Dandenong Stingrays’ skipper booted the club’s inaugural goal and had 12 kicks for 12 disposals, also amassing four marks, three tackles and two rebounds. Caitlin Greiser played up forward and provided a target with six touches and three inside 50s, while Nicola Xenos and Tarni White both earned debuts and stood up with some classy moments.

Fremantle vs. Geelong

Sabreena Duffy was not eligible for a Rising Star nomination, but her performance was arguably the best of any Rising Star player. The second year former Western Australia captain booted four goals from 12 touches in a match-winning performance to help the Dockers sink the Cats in the west. Alongside her up forward and rotating through the ruck was first round pick and future star, Roxanne Roux who booted 1.2 and showed off her booming kick on her way to seven disposals and 15 hitouts. Her partner-in-crime through the ruck, Mim Strom stood up and had 14 hitouts and seven disposals also on debut to show the pairing is likely to cause some headaches for the opposition in the future. The Cats’ second year players picked up where they left off and look to be an elite core going forward. Olivia Purcell had leather poisoning with 27 touches, five marks, four tackles and five inside 50s, teaming up well with Rebecca Webster (21 touches, seven marks and three rebounds). Denby Taylor (12 touches, three inside 50s and two rebounds) covered plenty of ground, Nina Morrison returned from a long-term knee injury to boot a goal from nine touches in just her second game, while Sophie Van De Heuvel had seven touches and five marks, spreading across the ground well. The Cats’ sole teenage debutant was father-daughter pick, Millie Brown who was solid with eight touches in defence.

AFL Women’s Round 1 review: Pies win opening round as Lions upset reigning premiers

BRISBANE’s youth stepped up downing reigning premiers Adelaide at home, as Collingwood claimed its first win in Round 1 from four tries. All four expansion sides suffered defeats, with the Gold Coast SUNS getting within one point of victory against the GIANTS. We recap the remaining six games after our Match of the Round saw Melbourne topple North Melbourne at Casey Fields.

RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 2.2 (14)
CARLTON 1.5 | 1.8 | 5.9 | 6.12 (48)

By: Michael Alvaro

Richmond’s induction into the AFLW proved a baptism of fire as Carlton outclassed the Tigers to come up 34-point winners in Friday night’s season opener. The Blues looked at home on the Ikon Park turf, outmuscling the league newcomers through the engine room and having all the territory in the 6.12 (48) to 2.2 (14) drubbing. Signs were ominous early despite the scoreline not suggesting as much, with Katie Loynes’ first term major the only one in the opening half as Carlton failed to translate its dominance to scoreboard pressure. Even still, the Blues’ midfield trio of Loynes, Madison Prespakis, and Sarah Hosking brutalised that of the Tigers, setting the tone with their work rate, punishing pressure, and superior contested ball winning to get well on top.

The 2019 Rising Star, Prespakis then took over after the main break, inspiring her side to a game-breaking four-goal to nil third term as things began to look ugly. But things were not all bad for the Tigers, with boom forward recruit Sabrina Frederick making history as she slotted Richmond’s first ever AFLW goal three minutes into the final quarter, receiving a good pop from the adoring crowd. Fellow tall target Courtney Wakefield also joined in on the goalkicking action, getting on the end of a fantastic bit of transitional play to give fans a glimpse of what the Tigers may be capable of in time. Monique Conti (13 disposals, four tackles) was arguably the best in a losing side, combining through midfield with skipper, Katie Brennan (10 disposals) but lacking the grunt to turn the game around. Phoebe Monahan and Christina Bernardi also stood up in the yellow and black, while Akec Makur Chuot was terrific in an under-siege defence, positioning expertly to intercept and rebound assuredly.

For the Blues, Prespakis picked up from where she left off in 2019, collecting 21 disposals and laying five tackles on her way to best afield honours. Hosking worked like the Energizer bunny in the first half to finish with 17 touches, while captain Loynes had it 13 times and Lucy McEvoy debuted impressively with 12 disposals and five marks. The dynamic forward targets of Tayla Harris and Darcy Vescio proved troublesome inside 50, while ruck Breann Moody showed improvement from the middle. The Blues will again feature at Ikon Park up next, set to face another traditional rival and bunny side in Collingwood, while the Tigers travel up to Queensland to face fellow newcomer, Gold Coast on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Richmond: C. Wakefield, S. Frederick.
Carlton:
T. Harris, M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, A. Downie, K. Loynes, B. Walker.

ADC BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, A. Makur Chuot, C. Bernardi, C. Wakefield, P. Monahan, S. Frederick
Carlton:
M. Prespakis, L. McEvoy, S. Hosking, K. Loynes, T. Harris, B. Moody

GWS GIANTS 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 (9)
GOLD COAST 1.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

By: Nikki Jamieson

GWS narrowly avoided a loss in torrential weather to the Suns in Blacktown doing just enough to limp over the line. The match favourites had to work hard for their victory while the Suns looked to kick off their 2020 campaign with a fairy-tale beginning, taking advantage of the conditions to show that they should not be underestimated. Gold Coast denied any easy access to goals for the GIANTS only registering two points up until half time before the gears started to kick in, in the third term to apply scoreboard pressure. Both sides worked tirelessly, not willing to give an inch and scrapping hard to win the slippery footy but in the end it was the experience of GWS that prevailed.

Gold Coast’s Brittany Perry made history, kicking the team’s debut AFLW goal in the early in the match resulting in an early lead. The experienced co-captains, in Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar, were able to keep the young team under control. Breakout stars for the Suns included ex-Lion Jacqui Yorston who proved she was a tackling machine with a whopping 12 tackles to her name along with 13 disposals while Jamie Stanton also made an impact with 15 disposals and five tackles.

Thankfully for the home side, they gained their lead back through a goal late in the third term by Aimee Schmidt. GWS’ experience proved to be the decider, as outstanding second and third efforts by Alyce Parker led the way racking up 22 disposals and five tackles. Re-listed Rebecca Privitelli was a key factor in the GIANTS narrow win, with 14 disposals and a potentially match winning behind. New captain Alicia Eva had a similarly influential game, with 17 disposals and six tackles.

In Round 2 both teams play on the Saturday again, with GWS taking on North Melbourne in Tasmania and the Suns have their first home match against Richmond at Metricon Stadium.

GOALS:

GIANTS: A. Schmidt.
Gold Coast: B. Perry.

ADC BEST:

GIANTS: A. Parker, A. Eva, B. Tully, C. Staunton, H. Zreika, R. Privitelli.
Gold Coast: J. Stanton, S. Virgo, J. Yorston, H. Dunn, B. Perry, L. Ahrens.

COLLINGWOOD 0.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 | 5.8 (38)
WEST COAST EAGLES 1.2 | 1.2 | 1.4 | 1.5 (11)

By: Taylah Melki

It was a history making performance for both sides with Eagles captain Dana Hooker scoring the first goal in her club’s inaugural match while also racking up 18 touches. But that was where the fairytale ended for West Coast, with Collingwood securing their first win in Round 1 in AFLW history. It was a sluggish start to the match for the Magpies who went scoreless in the opening term thanks to the Eagles mountain load of defensive pressure applying strong bumps and tackles. But the tables slowly turned in favour of the Pies with Collingwood peppering the forward 50 and capitalising on their opportunities.

After 693 days out of the game, fan favourite and former Rising Star, Chloe Molloy made her presence felt across the footy field nailing the Pies opening goal of the match and racking up 10 touches. Captain, Steph Chiocci also starred in the black and white leading from the front and slotting a nice goal on the run to get her sides nose in front. Former Diamonds goal keeper, Sharni Layton followed suit with a history making performance kicking her first AFLW goal, while Jaimee Lambert and Sarah D’Arcy also found the big sticks with ease. Defensively the Collingwood duo of Ash Brazill and Stacey Livingstone seemed impossible to break through with the two reading the play with ease and picking off passes willy nilly. Brazill made the most of her speed and dynamic movement while Livingstone showcased her strong set of hands. But their victory was soured by a suspected lower leg injury to star recruit Bri Davey who went down midway through the third quarter.

The Eagles had glimpses of magic with Emma Swanson a ball magnet across the ground with her 18 disposals, while teammate Imahra Cameron was a real live wire tackling hard and running the ground with ease. Youngster Mikayla Bowen was also a tackling machine collecting a game-high 10 tackles and while she did not win a heap of the ball, her off the ball pressure was through the roof. Despite a dominant first quarter, West Coast simply could not maintain that high intensity pace allowing Collingwood to wear them down and poke holes in their defence to claim first spot on the ladder.

GOALS:

Collingwood: S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Layton, J. Lambert, S. Chiocci
West Coast: D. Hooker

ADC BEST: 

Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, S. Livingstone, B. Bonnici.
West Coast: D.Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen, I. Cameron, M. Dowrick.

BRISBANE 2.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
ADELAIDE 0.0 | 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

By: Taylah Melki

The Brisbane Lions kicked off their 2020 campaign in style defeating the reigning premiers in style. The Lions got the jump on the Crows early opening up a two-goal lead and did not look back steadily building their attacking momentum and only allowing Adelaide to score one goal up until the fourth quarter. Adelaide fought back in the last quarter to add some respectability to the score line and prove they still have what it takes to score freely despite being well held for majority of the match.

Lauren Arnell was electric for the Lions using her physicality and go get it attitude to win the ball at the coal face while also hitting the scoreboard. Arnell led the way for Brisbane with two majors while reliable defender Kate Lutkins was up to her usual tricks with 17 disposals 14 of which were kicks. In her debut game, Lily Postlethwaite plied her trade across the field amassing nine touches and showcasing her physical intent laying five tackles. Ally Anderson was in hot form racking up the touches across the field with 16, while Emma Zielke did not muck around collecting 15 touches.

Although it was not the Crows day, Anne Hatchard made history with a whopping 35 touches in what was a complete performance from the talented midfield. In the absence of Erin Phillips and Chelsea Randall, Hatchard stood up and seemed to have the ball on a string while also controlling both the forward and defensive 50. Teammate Ebony Marinoff also played a major role for the Crows with the 22-year-old amassing 21 disposals and throwing her weight around with six tackles. Marinoff was not afraid to go in hard at the contest and extract the footy, using her awareness and vision to sight players in space. New recruit Courtney Gum hit the scoreboard in her first outing as a Crow while Angela Foley also added a major. Sarah Allan showcased her skill set to cover the ground well and win the ball at the coal face with 18 disposals but unfortunately it was not enough to get them over the line, with Brisbane running out comfortably.

GOALS:

Brisbane: (2) L. Arnell, O. O’Dwyer, G. Bodey, J. Tawhiao-Wardlaw.
Adelaide: C.Gum, N.Gore, A. Foley.

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: L. Arnell, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, E. Zielke, L. Postlethwaite
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, S. Allan, A. Foley, C. Gum

ST KILDA 1.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.1 | 5.1 | 5.2 | 6.3 (39)

By: Peter Williams

A fast-starting Western Bulldogs team has outclassed St Kilda in its inaugural game, playing the role of party poopers at the Saints’ homecoming to RSEA Park, Moorabbin. The Bulldogs booted the first three goals of the game, including two to Bonnie Toogood and one to Danielle Marshall – who broke history becoming the first American to kick a goal in the AFL Women’s competition. With the game starting to slip by, the Saints gave the crowd something to cheer about with Georgia Patrikios combining with Molly McDonald to slot through the latter’s first in her AFL Women’s career.

The Dogs headed into the the break with a three-goal lead, and while the Saints were never able to head them, it was a much closer contest in the remaining three quarters. St Kilda stepped up and lifted its defensive pressure and used the ball better, booting a last quarter goal to Jess Sedunary – the final one of the match to counter the Western Bulldogs’ only goal of the half – to Kirsty Lamb – which ended any hope of the home side coming back and put it out to a game-high 32 points. The final 25-point margin was an accurate representation of the game, with the Bulldogs a bit too slick and too experienced for the young Saints.

Patrikios looked at home in the competition on debut, racking up 18 touches, two marks, three inside 50s and five tackles, while setting up the Saints’ opening goal with a lovely kick across 50 to hit-up a free McDonald, using her elite vision to find her in space. McDonald herself was very impressive with 12 touches – all kicks – four marks, three tackles, two rebounds, one inside 50 and a goal, while Olivia Vesely also stood out with the second most disposals of anyone in the red, white and black, picking up 14 disposals, one mark and four tackles.

For the Dogs, Ellie Blackburn showed just how elite she is with a standout performance of 17 touches, four marks, five tackles and a poster that caused a premature celebration from the captain believing it had split the big sticks. Hannah Scott and Lamb also picked up 17 disposals each, recording a combined five marks and 10 tackles, while number one draft pick, Gabby Newton had 13 disposals and eight tackles, playing off half-forward and having stints on-ball.

GOALS: 

St Kilda: M. McDonald, J. Sedunary.
Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, D. Marshall, B. Hunt, K. Lamb, B. Hunt.

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: G. Patrikios, M. McDonald, O. Vesely, H. Priest, K. McCarthy, N. Exon
Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Hunt, K. Lamb. H. Scott, A. McCarthy, K. Rennie

FREMANTLE 1.0 | 3.3 | 4.4 | 6.8 (44)
GEELONG 1.2 | 3.2 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

By: Michael Alvaro

Fremantle made the ideal start in its quest to go one better than its preliminary final-making 2019 campaign, kicking away late to topple Geelong by 16 points on home turf. Fremantle young gun Sabreena Duffy played a starring role, booting more than half of her side’s score with four goals in the 6.8 (44) to 4.4 (28) triumph.

While the Dockers enjoyed plenty of time in their forward half with 48 inside 50s to 13, the Cats controlled the uncontested ball and transitioned well while making better use of their opportunities up forward. It meant the visiting side had an answer for each challenge, with the two sides going goal-for-goal in the first three terms with the margin not breaching seven points either way. But Duffy’s fourth goal and one followed by Gemma Houghton sealed the deal for Fremantle late in the final term, with the winners made to earn their first set of premiership points.

Duffy was the spearhead up forward, but had good support in the form of Houghton (17 disposals, five tackles, 1.3) and star debutant Roxanne Roux (seven disposals, 1.2), while Kiara Bowers took on a mammoth workload with 22 touches and 14 tackles from midfield. The Cats’ top end was made to work hard, with promising youngster Olivia Purcell racking up a game-high 27 disposals, while Julia Crockett-Grills (22 disposals, five marks), Rebecca Webster (21 disposals, seven marks), and Madeline Keryk (20 disposals, four marks) stood up in Geelong’s defensive half. Richelle Cranston had arguably the highlight of the day with her second term goal, handballing to herself on the break and slamming the ball home, while Nina Morrison made a steady return to action with a goal from nine touches. A home fixture is up next for the Cats as the Lions come to town, while Fremantle is set to play out in the inaugural AFLW Western derby on Saturday night.

GOALS:

Fremantle: S. Duffy 4, G. Houghton, R. Roux.
Geelong: G. Clarke, R. Cranston, M. Maguire, N. Morrison.

ADC BEST:

Fremantle: S. Duffy, K. Bowers, G. Houghton, R. Roux, H. Miller, K. Antonio
Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, R. Cranston, R. Webster, M. Keryk, D. Taylor

AFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Four new teams begin elite journey

AFTER nine months of waiting, AFL Women’s 4.0 is here and four more teams enter the fray in a bid to take home the 2020 premiership. Adelaide won its second title in three years last season, with the Western Bulldogs the only other premiership winner in the competition. With the Crows wounded and plenty of movement over the off-season for the four news side – Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast – this round is set to answer quite a few questions.

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The opening night of AFL Women’s 4.0 is under lights at Ikon Park with a familiar feel, but a bit of a twist. Yet again, Carlton opens the season, but instead of Collingwood (as it was in the first two seasons), it will now be Richmond – mirroring the AFL Men’s competition season opener. A lot can change in 12 months, and this time last year Carlton was coming off a wooden spoon with a new coach in charge looking for some respect in the competition. Now looking ahead to 2020, the Blues are fresh off a Grand Final appearance and hungry to go one better.

The big question mark for the Blues in this match will be how they go without their inaugural captain in Brianna Davey who switched to Collingwood for a war chest of draft picks. They should not have to look too far for a replacement with Geelong Falcons premiership skipper, Lucy McEvoy immediately entering the fray for her debut alongside Richmond VFLW and former Murray Bushrangers’ utility, Grace Egan. Both provide a hard edge to the side and crack into a team that is hard to find a spot. Their defence is still relatively inexperienced compared to others, so Kerryn Harrington will be crucial in settling them down back there. Interestingly, exciting forward Darcy Vescio has been named in the centre, which makes for a dynamic contest against fellow traditional forward, Katie Brennan.

The Tigers have a tonne of debutants which does not come as a surprise considering it is Richmond’s inaugural match. First year draftees, Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels), Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights) and Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges) headline the young talent, but the depth of the midfield from the likes of Kodi Jacques (Bendigo Pioneers) and Maddy Brancatisano (Northern Knights via Melbourne AFLW) will be great to see. Monique Conti and Christina Bernardi are the class players, and Carlton will need to find a way to limit their influence. In saying that, with Madison Prespakis and Sarah Hosking in midfield, expect the Blues to get on top through the middle with that extra hard edge. Carlton should win this game based on experience and more readymade players, but Richmond should show some fight and give their fans something to smile about for 2020.

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

B: R.Miller 15 G.Seymour 28
HB: S.Sansonetti 18 P.Monahan 2 A.Makur Chuot 34
C: S.Molan 1 K.Brennan – C 3 H.Burchell 9
HF: S.Frederick 14 C.Bernardi 6 T.Stahl 24
F: C.Wakefield 8 L.McClelland 16
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 A.Woodward 13
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 K.Jacques 10 M.Brancatisano 5 H.Whitford 20
Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 E.Wood 17

CARLTON

B: N.Plane 32 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 J.Van Dyk 36
C: S.Hosking 10 D.Vescio 3 C.Dalton 15
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 J.Doonan 26
F: A.Downie 30 B.Walker 14
Foll: B.Moody 16 K.Loynes 2 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: L.Brazzale 12 G.Pound 6 G.Egan 1 L.McEvoy 13 G.Gee 19
Emerg: J.Edwards 25 A.McKay 5

Saturday, February 8

Greater Western Sydney v Gold Coast, Blacktown International Sportspark, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

While these two sides are the newest teams in AFL Men’s, GWS GIANTS are the far more experienced team in AFL Women’s. One of eight inaugural sides in the competition, they welcome the Gold Coast SUNS to the league at Blacktown in a Saturday afternoon blockbuster. While most Victorian fans might be more focused on games either side of his match, the game is expected to answer a lot of questions, particularly about Gold Coast and where they might be at in their preparation for their inaugural season.

The SUNS on paper have talent, it is just trying to piece it all together and gel, which might take some time for it to work. Jamie Stanton remarkably plays in her third inaugural game for a side, having previously represented Brisbane (2017) and North Melbourne (2019). She will need to use all of her experience to lead a young team into battle, with essentially Tiarna Ernst in midfield, Leah Kaslar down forward and Sam Virgo in defence as the others who can provide that extra experience. Former Crows, Sally Riley and Jasmyn Hewett will no doubt give insight into their last club’s success, but the ones to watch are more so the young talent. Alexia Hamilton is a high-flying tall who can take a grab, Lauren Bella is a developing tap ruck, and both Serene Watson and Dee Heslop are talented young defenders who will only get better with more exposure. You cannot discount Hannah Dunn either, with the former Norwood ball winner thrown straight into the midfield.

Bella will have her work cut out for her against arguably the best pure ruck in the competition – Erin McKinnon. She leads a loaded midfield of Rebecca Beeson, new captain Alicia Eva, young gun Alyce Parker, Jes Dal Pos and Nicola Barr. Despite the last minute retirement of Amanda Farrugia, the GIANTS look as strong as ever on paper, with just the question marks coming over whether they can continue their form from last season on a more consistent basis. Pepa Randall is a great asset to have off half-back, and their experienced defence should be able to contain the SUNS like it did against Brisbane in the practice match not long ago. Cora Staunton continues to be a dangerous option wherever she plays, while Haneen Zreika showed promising signs in her games last year. You would imagine the GIANTS will kick their season off with a strong win here, as the SUNS are young and while they will get there, are not quite in the same window as the GIANTS – but watch out when they are fully developed.

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: L.Stephenson 12 T. Hetherington 9
HB: P.Randall 21 E.Brush 10 E.Bennetts 22
C: J.Dal Pos 7 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H. Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 A.Schmidt 11
F: J.Hicks 5 R. Privitelli 19
Foll: E.McKinnon 23 R. Beeson 6 A.Parker 3
I/C: Y.Bonner 27 I.Nielsen 25 J.Allan 39 A.Lister 14 B.Tully 36
Emerg: L. Steane 20 T. Mackrill 32

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 C.Hammond 29
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 M.Ritson 12
HF: B.Perry 16 A.Hamilton 30 P.Parker 1
F: L.Kaslar – C 11 K.Surman 26
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 H.Dunn 24
I/C: S.Watson 14 J.Hewett 20 S.Riley 8 D.Heslop 25 K.Howarth 23
Emerg: T.Thorn 15 M.Roberts 10

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

Two of last season’s most unlucky finals absentees meet in a cross-conference grudge match, as Melbourne and North Melbourne go head-to-head at Casey Fields. One of the inaugural AFLW sides, the Demons will be seeking to add ultimate glory to an already storied history this year, but an opening fixture against one of the flag favourites makes for a tough initiation. While the Dees’ four wins were only good enough for fourth place in Conference A, the Roos’ can count themselves even more unfortunate as two losses at the end of their maiden campaign saw them heartbreakingly miss finals. Still, with a stacked squad and added depth, North Melbourne have a great opportunity to bounce back in 2020 – starting here.

Scott Gowans‘ side fared well in the off-season to bare no major changes, losing only three players to newly-established clubs and bringing in some mature-aged depth come draft time to hint at a real flag tilt. Sarah Wright and Ellie Gavalas are two VFL Women’s standouts who landed on the Roos’ list and are set to debut off the bench on Saturday, adding some grunt to the already hardened North Melbourne midfield led by skipper, Emma Kearney. There may be some goals to make up inside attacking 50 given 2019 equal-leading goalkicker Mo Hope was unceremoniously delisted, but ruck-forward Emma King has shown her worth in front of the big sticks, while Kate Gillespie-Jones is a capable tall foil and Kaitlyn Ashmore could rotate through the forward line from midfield alongside Jasmine Garner. With the midfield battle a relative stalemate, depth across the ground will be key to the cause of either side.

The Dees will be buoyed by the long-awaited return of captain and women’s football pioneer, Daisy Pearce, who is set to be eased in off half-back given her side’s strength through the middle. Her presence in the back five alongside boom recruit, Libby Birch will be important given the danger North’s forward flankers present, with her trademark ball use sure to make a difference. Further afield, and Melbourne is one of the few sides which boasts an engine room to match the grunt of North’s, with Karen Paxman set to lead the line next to Elise O’Dea and young gun, Tyla Hanks while further depth lies on the bench. The forward half was seldom an issue for the Dees last year too, so their even spread points toward a cracking contest. While Melbourne will come in as a slight underdog, the Demons’ experienced movers and the fact they managed just one fewer win than North during last campaign without Pearce means they stand a real chance here, and could become an instant frontrunner in Conference B with a win. But North Melbourne has proven had to look past despite struggling against the top sides, so should come up trumps.

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: G.Colvin 32 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 E.O’Dea 5
I/C: S.Heath 30 M.Gay 3 M.Guerin 22 A.Kemp 36 S.Lampard 8
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 B.Lynch 20
C: J.Trend 21 A.Riddell 7 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 El.King 4
F: Em.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 E.Kearney – C 9
I/C: D.Bannister 2 A.Gilroy 8 D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 E.Gavalas 22
Emerg: N.Bresnehan 12 J.Grierson 19

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

Inaugural AFLW sides and Conference A rivals, Brisbane and Adelaide are primed to kick off their seasons in the Sunshine State, with the visiting reigning premiers out to defend their 2019 flag in 2020. The Crows were nothing short of dominant during last year’s campaign, going down only in the first regular season round before deservedly being crowned premiers in front of an adoring Adelaide Oval crowd – packed to the brim, no less. Adelaide has only added to its already deep squad over the off-season, despite being dealt a cruel blow weeks out with star defender Chelsea Randall ruled out for the year, but will come as the clear competition benchmark. On the other hand, Brisbane struggled throughout 2019 to notch just two wins having been repeatedly depleted throughout the off-season, but can lean on a reliable spine despite another 15-player coming out of its squad.

The Lions will field eight debutants in its Round 1 side, with top draftees and Academy graduates Lily Postlethwaite and Belle Dawes set to make theirs off the interchange bench. The 2018 best and fairest, Kate Lutkins leads the back six alongside mature-age recruit, Cathy Svarc, while skipper and stalwart Emma Zielke lines up on the wing outside of midfield jets, Ally Anderson and Emily Bates. Recent lightning strike survivor Jess Wuetschner will lead the forward line with Sophie Conway bringing some youthful exuberance and Lauren Arnell, the hard-edged experience. The Lions’ inability to put massive scores on the board will need to be rectified given Adelaide’s strength in that area, with added midfield strength – albeit through draftees – key to ensuring the forwards are given enough opportunity.

The Crows have had to adjust heavily, naming five debutants of their own with further injuries seeing the magnets shuffled before Round 1. Angela Foley and Marijana Rajcic will hold up the defence as Ebony Marinoff moves into midfield to replace recovering reigning MVP Erin Phillips, with Randall’s absence leaving a gaping hole in the back five. Stand-in skipper Jessica Foley is set to ruck with Montana McKinnon also unavailable, while a couple of late changes see emergencies Jaimi Tabb and Caitlin Gould slot in as Sophie Li and Courtney Cramey come out. It is a lot to make good for and while if any side has the depth to cover such losses, it is the Crows, Adelaide proved slow starters against a team it would normally beat last year – making for a bad omen. But even so, the Crows’ depth seems enough to overcome the changes, with a wealth of experience and the confidence of a premiership side holding up their chances. The Lions may struggle this season, but expect them to give it a red hot crack early on.

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

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

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: A.Foley 3 M.Rajcic 32 N.Campbell 20
C: R.Forth 27 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: D.Ponter 15 C.Gum 5 C.Gould 1
F: S.Thompson 14 E.Jones 2
Foll: J.Foley – C 24 A.Hatchard 33 N.Allen 8
I/C: 22 M.Newman 17 A.Considine 16 C.Biddell 12 N.Gore 7 J.Tabb
Emerg: R. Martin, C. Cavouras

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Heading back to Collingwood’s traditional home, the Magpies will no doubt give one of the AFL Women’s newest sides a hostile environment from which to make their debut in the competition. Fresh in supporters minds will be the Eagles’ men’s side triumph a couple of years ago in the AFL Grand Final, and with the new kids on the block entering the Magpies nest, it will certainly be a match to watch. Collingwood has been far from successful so far in its short history, failing to make finals and picking up a wooden spoon each year, leading to a coach change in Steve Symonds. West Coast join Fremantle in the west and picked up a host of recycled players to try and get them off to the best possible start.

For the first time in some time, the Magpies head into a match as favourites, having finished the year on a high last year following a victory over Brisbane. They came close against a number of sides, but showed they were gradually working as a cohesive unit following a massive upheaval over the previous off-season. After targeting youth the year before, the Magpies picked up the recruit of the off-season in Davey, who immediately adds grunt and class to an onball group that lacked a bit of pizazz. Sharni Layton‘s improvement in the ruck has been phenomenal, and along with VFL Women’s leading goal kicker and disposal winner, Jaimee Lambert, the Magpies will back themselves to win against most midfields. The only possibly bigger name to don the black and white this round is Chloe Molloy who returns after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. The 2018 AFL Women’s Rising Star has been named in attack after making her name in defence during that season. With Ash Brazill‘s stunning transformation from netballer to footballer, it has allowed Molloy to play in attack and along with Sarah D’Arcy create some scoring opportunities. Oakleigh Chargers’ speedster Alana Porter makes her debut in the side, so watch for her set of wheels as along with the likes of Sarah Rowe and captain Steph Chiocci, give the Magpies some outside run.

While the Magpies will start favourites, the Eagles have gone about recruiting some important players to their line-up. Former Fremantle star Dana Hooker is every bit an equal to the Magpies’ Davey, while former GIANTS’ onballer Emma Swanson and Lambert will have an equally important head-to-head. Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins will be looked upon to provide some goals, while Talia Radan will try to hold down the defence, with the former Adelaide and Melbourne player amongst a host of young stars. McKenzie Dowrick will be better for last year crossing back to her home state from Queensland, while Mikayla Bowen is as talented as any other player entering the AFL Women’s from the Under 18s last year. Former hockey player, Sophie McDonald has been thrown in the deep end to hold down centre half-back, while former Hawthorn VFL Women’s premiership player and best on ground in the premiership, Chantella Perera also has been named on an extended interchange to make her potential debut. The Eagles will give the Magpies a run for their money, and it would not be a complete shock to see the new side get a win, but the Magpies have built more depth, have more experience and are at home, so expect them to get up in a close one.

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 S.Casey 22
C: M.Shevlin 35 B.Bonnici 8 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: C.Molloy 2 S.D’Arcy 4 S.Dargan 46
F: M.Cann 25 J.Allen 6
Foll: S.Layton 1 B.Davey 3 J.Lambert 13
I/C: E.O’Dea 50 E.Fowler 15 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 S.Rowe 7 E.Hynes 11 A.Sheridan 14

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: M.Dowrick 5 S.McDonald 35 A.Hill 16
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 A.Atkins 9 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 D.Pisconeri 11
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 B.Devlyn 7 C.Perera 27 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32

St Kilda v Western Bulldogs, RSEA Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

St Kilda is set to become the fourth of the expansion clubs to take centre stage in Round 1, facing a tough Conference B initiation against inaugural AFLW club, Western Bulldogs. Fielding a side which combines plenty of experience and a blooding of exciting youth, the Saints will have to work for their maiden elite-level win with the Bulldogs a potential season 2020 climber. Under the guidance of new coach, Nathan Burke and with a number one pick in tow, the Bulldogs are primed to rectify the two-win season which saw them finish last in Conference A.

There could be as many as six Western Bulldogs debutants with draftees Gemma Lagioia and Hannah Munyard among seven players named on an extended bench. Confirmed in the starting line-up are star draftee Gabby Newton and internally-hyped Western product Elizabeth Georgostathis; both primed to initially make an impact up forward, with the potential to move further afield – somewhat in the place or mould of now-Tigers, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti. The pair will join stalwarts Bonnie Toogood and Deanna Berry inside forward 50, with Ellie Blackburn and Isabel Huntington making up the remainder of a very strong spine. The Dogs will lean on those experienced movers to keep themselves in games, but a much-welcomed injection of youth will make them a team which proves easy on the eye.

For the Saints, all three co-captains in Cat PhillipsKate Shierlaw and Rhiannon Watt have been named to lead out the new team, with plenty of recognisable names to keep an eye on among each line. Top five draftee Georgia Patrikios has been named up forward, but will likely drift up to a wing or into the midfield given her undeniable class on the ball, while pre-listed draftee Molly McDonald takes up one of those starting wing spots. With an extended bench of seven also set to be narrowed down, there could be even more pace and young stars to come into the fold immediately. An unknown entity, the Saints should come in with nothing to lose and throw caution to the wind with most expecting the Bulldogs to salute in this fixture. We are in that boat.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: K.O’Neill 20 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: N.Exon 15 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 E.Mackie 3
I/C: N.Von Bertouch 28 P.Kelly 16 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 C.Whitfort 4 N.Xenos 27 A.Brown 2

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: E.Gamble 14 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 N.Callinan 10
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: D.Marshall 26 K.Rennie 24 G.Lagioia 12 H.Scott 22 K.Herron 31 E.Brown 9 H.Munyard 20

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

In the final game of the AFL Women’s Round 1, last year’s preliminary final losers go head-to-head at Fremantle Oval. The Dockers host Geelong with a renewed optimism that they can match it with the top sides in the competition, and it will be a good test to see how they have recovered after being pillaged by West Coast in the off-season. The Cats were up and down last season, but have remained relatively untouched, and should go in as favourites based on the list changes. In a quirk, Mia-Rae Clifford will run out in the purple against her former side following her delisting and then free agency acquirement.

The home side will thrive on running out in front of a home crowd, and have named a number of young stars in the team who will drive the team forward over the next few years. Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan) will captain the side, and alongside partner, Ebony Antonio will try and maintain some balance to a team that has lost a number of quality players, led by the departure of star talent, Hooker. Tackling machine, Kiara Bowers and goal sneak Ashlee Sharp still remain as dangers to any opposition, while Gemma Houghton will have big shoes to fill with Parris Laurie leaving for the Eagles among a number of rucks departing the club. Sabreena Duffy got used to the level by season’s end in 2019, and is a future leader of the club, and now she is joined by a number of talented Under 18s stars. Roxanne Roux is a high-flying forward who will provide plenty of highlights over the next few years, while Mim Strom is an athletic ruck who has developed rapidly. While the Dockers side might have lost some star talent, they have also headed to the draft to pick up some more, and you can imagine they will be competitive in 2020.

Geelong might have stayed relatively untouched over the off-season, but have welcomed back a rising star in Nina Morrison. The number one pick in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft was unbelievable on debut against Collingwood 12 months ago, but then injured her knee and missed the next 12 months. She returns to the Round 1 side and has been named on a wing, hoping to repeat the effort from 2019. She is joined in the midfield by fellow 2018 draftees, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Purcell. Denby Taylor, Rebecca Webster and debutant, Millie Brown are all in the back five, held down by experienced skipper, Mel Hickey. Richelle Cranston has that X-factor about her in midfield, and Georgia Clarke looks set for a role change up forward with the former GWV Rebels’ defender named there with goalkicking machine, Phoebe McWilliams. The Cats will be confident heading into this match, with coach Paul Hood no doubt having them ripe and ready to go after a finals appearance in their inaugural season last year. The road trip can be a challenge, but if you are going to do it, at least they have it first up off a long break.

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

B: J.Cuthbertson 29 L.Pugh 32
HB: A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 E.Antonio 12
C: S.Cain 20 L.Rohde 11 K.Flood 44
HF: K.Grieve 13 A.Sharp 1 H.Miller 19
F: G.O’Sullivan 22 S.Duffy 6
Foll: G.Houghton 27 K.Bowers 2 K.Antonio – C 15
I/C: P.Seth 18 L.Mascall 14 B.Webb 26 R.Roux 17 J.Stewart 7 M.Strom 21 M.Clifford 4

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: D.Taylor 28 M.Hickey – C 18 R.Webster 21
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Cranston 30 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 G.Clarke 17 R.Garing 12
F: P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: A.McDonald 3 G.Rankin 10 A.Teague 40 R.Goring 44 R.Caris 1 M.Maguire 7 M.Keryk 45

ROUND 1 TIPS:

Michael Alvaro [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Taylah Melki [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Sophie Taylor [0]: Richmond / GWS / Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / St Kilda / Fremantle
Peter Williams [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Geelong

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Geelong

IN arguably the most stable club off-season in the entire AFL Women’s competition, Geelong was quiet on both on the recruiting and trading front. The Cats delisted six players from the inaugural 2019 list that took Geelong to the finals series, while Erin Hoare retired. They did not lose anyone to expansion or through trade, and instead headed to the AFL Women’s Draft to find new talent.

In the draft, Geelong picked up a future captain in Millie Brown who led the Bushrangers this year, matching a bid for the father-daughter prospect to continue the tradition from father Paul in the blue and white hoops. Brown will likely be a Round 1 starter if fit, and she was joined at the club by NAB League Girls’ leading goalkicker Mia Skinner who is the sole Geelong Falcons player to join the team. The Cats then targeted experience, picking up Amy McDonald and Madisen Maguire out of their own VFL Women’s backyard, whilst also selecting Carlton’s Gemma Wright and Casey’s Nicole Garner.

OFF-SEASON CHANGES:

IN: Millie Brown (Murray Bushrangers), Gemma Wright (Carlton VFLW), Mia Skinner (Geelong Falcons), Nicole Garner (Casey Demons), Amy McDonald, Madisen Maguire (Geelong VFLW)
OUT: Erin Hoare (retired), Hannah Burchell, Mia-Rae Clifford, Elise Coventry, Maighan Fogas, Hayley Trevean (delisted)

2020 TEAM LIST:

Cassie Blakeway
Madeleine Boyd
Millie Brown
Rene Caris
Georgia Clarke
Richelle Cranston
Julia Crockett-Grills
Kate Darby
Renee Garing
Nicole Garner
Rebecca Goring
Melissa Hickey
Jordan Ivey
Madeline Keryk
Madisen Maguire
Amy McDonald
Meghan McDonald
Phoebe McWilliams
Nina Morrison
Aasta O’Connor
Danielle Orr
Olivia Purcell
Mia Skinner
Denby Taylor
Anna Teague
Sophie Van De Heuvel
Rebecca Webster
Gemma Wright

Rookies: Maddy McMahon, Georgie Rankin

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Denby Taylor – Rebecca Goring – Anna Teague
HB: Millie Brown – Meghan McDonald – Mel Hickey
C: Renee Garing
HF: Olivia Purcell – Madeleine Boyd – Nina Morrison
F: Kate Darby – Phoebe McWilliams – Sophie Van De Heuvel
R: Aasta O’Connor – Richelle Cranston – Julia Crockett-Grills
INT: Rene Caris – Maddy McMahon* – Madeline Keryk – Danielle Orr – Rebecca Webster
EMG: Jordan Ivey – Georgia Clarke – Gemma Wright

DEPTH: Cassie Blakeway, Nicole Garner, Madisen Maguire, Amy McDonald, Mia Skinner, Georgie Rankin*

Geelong’s potential line-up for 2020 is one of versatility, with so many players capable of filling a role in multiple positions. With 2018 number one draft pick, Nina Morrison returning, the Cats will find a spot for her, with Brown another likely chance, while the other mature-age recruits will push for spots but are in the emergencies and depth at this stage. With the departure of Hoare, expect Rene Caris to be handed a greater role through the ruck, learning from Aasta O’Connor and sharing time in the role to eventually take over full-time in the next few seasons. The Cats’ side has a good balance of youth and experience from which is exciting, and its forward line is as damaging as ever.

Expect Morrison to play more of a half-forward role in returning from her knee injury, while fellow 2018 draftees, Olivia Purcell, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Denby Taylor and Georgia Clarke should all become strong members of the side by the end of the season – with some already there. The biggest plus for the Cats is they made the finals despite various injuries and setbacks throughout the year, and conference debate aside, showed they could compete with the majority of teams. They have not lost anyone outside of their control, with Mia-Rae Clifford perhaps the one surprise delisting. Other than that, they retain the majority of their list and head into 2020 full of confidence, and rightfully so.

McEvoy all class and determination

THREE-time All Australian and Geelong Falcons captain, Lucy McEvoy is one of the highly touted prospects ahead of the draft and for good reason given her impressive skillset and footy brain. McEvoy has never been far from the Sherrin, playing Auskick from a young age and working her way into representative sides credit to her never say die attitude and grit across the footy field.

“I started in Auskick back with the boys when [I was] about five or six,” she said. “Then played junior footy with Collendina Cobras with the boys up until Under 14s then swapped over to the girls league after that. “Played one year at Barwon Heads then went to St Mary’s which is my local club at the moment and managed to make my way into representative sides somehow and kind of just went from there.”

The Falcons recognised her talent from an early age gifting her with the captaincy at 16 and she did not disappoint guiding her side to grand final glory and feeding off her teammates to develop her leadership qualities throughout her time at Geelong.

“It’s been a great experience working with girls that are older and also younger,” McEvoy said. “They’ve been really helpful in helping me build my leadership and really focus on that a lot more, especially this year and even just working with the other girls in the leadership group it’s been really good. “I think I’ve always been quite confident personality wise. “I think it depends who you meet sometimes. “Knowing that they’d voted for me as well gave me the confidence to know that they really did want me to be their captain and their leader. So tried to really embrace it and tried not to really think too much that I was younger than them. But yeah their support in that first season was really crucial for me.”

McEvoy has already had a highly decorated career, winning a premiership last year after going undefeated and will be looking to add to her trophy cabinet in the years to come.

“It was so good,” McEvoy said. “I thought we had a chance this year as well. “We had a really good bunch of girls and considering what we’d been through the year before with the loss of one of our teammates. “I think it made it even more special. “I’ll cherish that forever.”

With a premiership to her name McEvoy capped off her NAB League career as a three-time All Australian with each time more special than the previous.

“When I was younger I probably I took it for granted probably because I was a little immature and not as grown up and didn’t really realise the significance of it,” she said. “But as the second one I managed to get and this year, it’s quite something that I hold quite highly because a lot of the other girls don’t really get a chance to get that achievement. “So I’ve tried to really acknowledge my achievements but also not get ahead of myself and just keep on track and focus on one thing at a time.”

Often referred to as the Falcons’ footy factory, Geelong saw a wealth of talent get drafted last year leaving a gaping hole in the Falcons 2019 side. But that did not deter McEvoy with the captain standing up through the midfield to replace the likes of number one draft pick Nina Morrison along with Olivia Purcell and Denby Taylor.

“As pre-season went on we were able to create our own side and really adapt to each other’s games,” McEvoy said. “We lost some quality players in the midfield, but the girls that stepped up in Paige (Sheppard) and Luka (Lesosky-Hay) and some of the bottom-age girls was credit to them. “They really took it on board and played their role for the team this year.”

The talented footballer has a bright future ahead of her both on and off the football field with the 18-year-old hoping to get into university next year.

“I’m hoping to go into paramedicine,” McEvoy said. “I put Vic Uni as my number one preference. “Who knows whether I’ll get it or not, I’ve still got to finish exams and what not, hopefully I put my best foot forward in that and hopefully get the ATAR that I need.”

With an already solid set of skills, McEvoy is constantly looking to improve herself and develop her craft on the footy field noting her marking as one of strengths, but her short kick as a possible improvement.

“I need to definitely still improve my short kicking and accuracy in that area,” she said. “Then my fitness components which will be tested this week endurance, sprinting and agility, I’d really love to improve that side of my game.”

Throughout her time, she has been heavily influenced by her fellow teammates who have gone on to the next level with AFL clubs.

“Definitely the girls that were part of our side last year,” McEvoy said. “Nina Morrison, Liv Purcell and Denby (Taylor). “They’ve provided some of the great insight into what their experience was like and even in their first year of AFLW so I’ll continue to learn off them and admire what they do.”