Tag: Paul Hood

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 – Territory, possession, and efficiency inside 50

LOGIC would tell you that the team which controls the majority of possession and territory puts itself in the best position to win most games of football. That is very often the case in one-sided contests – see Carlton vs. Richmond, Collingwood vs. West Coast, and Western Bulldogs vs. St Kilda – but Round 1’s AFLW results suggest the two areas may be becoming increasingly exclusive of each other.

Fremantle edged out Geelong on Sunday having excelled in its control of the territory, but were constantly pegged back as the Cats managed to slingshot on the end of long periods of possession. While the Dockers dominated the inside 50 count – and thus, territory – 48-13, they allowed Geelong to control the ball in its own half with 214 disposals to 185, and 51 marks to 38. Cats defenders Rebecca Webster (21 disposals) and Madeline Keryk (20 disposals) benefitted from the amount of ball their 50 arc saw, exceeding their previous disposal averages by 14 and nine touches respectively, while going at a combined 80.5 per cent efficiency. So we know that the ball was inside Fremantle’s half a whole lot, but why did they struggle to kick away until late in the final term?

Efficiency inside 50 has become football’s answer to cricket’s “catches win matches” fable, but the Dockers gave up a sizeable discrepancy in that area throughout the contest – scoring from just 42 per cent of their inside 50s, while the Cats excelled at 62 per cent to be only second to Collingwood’s 65 per cent across Round 1. Geelong’s lower amount of scoring shots (eight to Fremantle’s 14) somewhat accounts for the percentage gap, but the Cats’ success in that area was credit to their ability to soak up pressure and find space on the break. Coach Paul Hood even acknowledged as much after the game, saying his side “worked really hard on trying to be more efficient going inside 50 and that was a huge plus from the day”. The best example of that slingshot scoring was Richelle Cranston‘s highlight-reel second term goal, where she burnt her direct opponent and ran into an open 50 on the end of a quick transition.

Sure, the territory game proved vital in one quarter of the game – the last – as Fremantle pulled away with 2.4 to Geelong’s nil, but the Cats stayed alive by keeping the ball and making the most of their opportunities up the other end.

The season opener between Carlton and Richmond provided a similar theme, as the Blues heaped pressure on the Tigers’ defence during the first half, but were unable to translate it to scoreboard pressure. Signs were ominous as Richmond forwards hardly caught sight of the Sherrin, but they were still in the contest at half time at just 12 points adrift despite going goalless. After the main break, Carlton turned it on with 4.1 to nil to break the game open. Like Fremantle, it took one quarter of the game for the winning side to break the back of their opposition through a wealth of territory.

One way or another, gaps in key statistics will show on the scoreboard, but it seems more and more that being efficient inside your own half counts for more than hoarding possession or maintaining greater territory.

2019 VFLW weekend Round 1b preview: Eight teams begin their campagins

AFTER the Southern Saints made a statement in the opening round with a victory over last year’s minor premiers Collingwood, the other Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s sides take to the field, as four games are played across the competition. The Western Bulldogs and Carlton have the bye, as do Williamstown, however the Seagulls are facing off against GWS GIANTS in an invitational match which will see the GIANTS match-up against some of the Victorian sides. Below are the teams and season previews.

ESSENDON v. CASEY DEMONS

Round 1 – 11/05/2019
11:30
Windy Hill

Essendon

B: 7. K. Hicks, 11. M. Warburton, 29. C. Laan
HB: 18. K. Heil, 27. A. Morcom, 21. K. McFadyen
C: 28. R. Svarc, 39. M. Fogas, 1. C. Ugle
HF: 25. L. Stepnell, 23. M. Collier, 24. S. Wilson
F: 3. M. DeMatteo, 38. E. Gogerly, 40. A. Moreen
R: 30. S. Nalder, 22. N. MacDonald, 8. H. Bullas
Int: 13. S. Audley, 2. I. Currenti, 43. G. Nanscawen, 4. A. Saundry
Emg: 45. E. Ashley-Cooper, 15. L. Caruso, 33. E. Hosking, 14. T. Zagontinos
23P: 31. J. Stassi

Casey Demons

B: 50. G. McLean, 13. K. Smith, 15. T. Tatterson
HB: 34. A. Kirkwood, 7. B. Jakobsson, 8. S. Lampard
C: 23. E. Birch, 16. M. Hogg, 22. M. Guerin
HF: 42. H. Bailey, 29. E. Zanker , 11. C. Emonson
F: 24. N. Garner, 40. H. Dyson, 27. B. Winbanks
R: 38. K. Bentvelzen , 41. R. Edmeades, 47. K. Guttridge
Int: 48. E. Archer, 9. A. Johnson, 32. A. McDonough, 54. K. Oates
Emg: 57. L. Davies, 51. A. Francese, 37. T. Nash, 62. G. Speedy
23P: 46. B. Pratt

 

DAREBIN v. RICHMOND

Round 1 – 11/05/2019
12:00
Swinburne Centre

Darebin

B: 32. G. Colvin, 21. K. Roe, 19. R. Hibbert
HB: 16. B. Kennedy, 56. R. Ashley, 43. N. Wolfe
C: 1. E. Honybun, 9. M. Eastman, 28. A. Morrow
HF: 17. S. Simpson, 22. G. Hammond, 7. L. Szigeti
F: 36. E. Buckley, 31. E. Gardner, 23. M. Wilson
R: 37. E. McLaughlin, 15. A. Lister, 33. J. Stanton
Int: 18. C. Byrne, 39. S. David, 25. C. Delbridge, 20. S. Fairchild
Emg: 46. R. Coombs, 55. M. Hubbard, 49. A. Ladson, 50. M. Suzuki
23P: 57. P. Kearney

Richmond

B: 26. E. Burry, 41. S. Last, 15. R. Miller
HB: 19. K. Dempsey, 2. P. Monahan, 34. A. Makur Chuot
C: 25. G. Egan, 5. M. Brancatisano, 8. J. Graham
HF: 33. J. Colwell, 16. C. Wakefield , 36. E. Paterno
F: 17. E. Gunn, 24. T. Stahl-Smith, 46. H. Ibrahim
R: 11. A. Edmonds, 13. A. Woodward, 1. J. Kennedy
Int: 43. G. Campbell, 30. D. Edward, 37. M. Klingbeil , 22. S. Marsh
Emg: 39. M. Lindsay , 32. I. Milford, 23. T. Smith
23P: 29. K. Jacques

 

HAWTHORN v. NT THUNDER

Round 1 – 12/05/2019
11:30
Box Hill City Oval

Hawthorn

B: 25. M. Hutchins, 6. T. Radan, 31. J. Sibley
HB: 13. E. Nixon, 40. E. MacDonald, 21. P. Randall
C: 33. E. Gilder, 24. R. Dillon, 5. C. Perera
HF: 12. N. Cormack , 26. C. Dyett, 18. E. Wroe
F: 17. A. Dowler, 2. K. Henderson, 30. A. Sarec
R: 22. T. Luke, 10. P. Peschke, 8. R. Beeson
Int: 14. O. Flanagan, 11. D. Haines, 15. B. Struylaart, 29. A. Tanner
Emg: 4. S. Carroll, 35. C. O’Donnell, 27. K. Scott
23P: 23. G. Macpherson

NT Thunder

B: 37. M. Rajcic, 33. T. Thorn, 31. A. Stanley
HB: 23. E. Miller, 9. L. Jeffrey, 26. C. Randall
C: 13. L. Roberts, , 12. K. Streader
HF: 11. J. Hickey, 10. A. Chittick, 18. T. Holtze
F: 27. A. Considine, 7. M. Ellis,
R: 20. J. Hewett, 3. A. Foley, 1. M. Johnston
Int: 17. S. Bishop, 24. S. Hoogeveen-Hill, 21. K. Irvine, 5. M. Roberts, 48. K. Rosenzweig, 34. D. Varnhagen
Emg: 32. B. Byers, 29. C. Deegan
23P: 2. J. Baird

 

MELBOURNE UNI v. GEELONG CATS

Round 1 – 12/05/2019
02:30
Melbourne University Main Oval

Melbourne Uni

B: 45. A. Arundel, 3. T. Mesiti, 17. E. Hay
HB: 22. J. Anwyl, 26. N. O’Connor, 32. C. Daniec
C: 53. J. Grierson, 36. N. Julian, 14. M. McDonald
HF: 38. K. Angelis, 51. J. Tancred, 40. A. Runnalls
F: 4. E. King, 57. A. Price, 18. A. Tupper
R: 5. K. Gillespie-Jones, 25. J. Garner, 35. J. Bruton
Int: 34. K. Cox, 47. M. Hare, 46. A. Roan , 52. M. Shone
Emg: 42. L. Amelung, 44. E. Bult, 30. S. Farmer, 41. J. Thomas
23P: 39. V. Saad

Geelong Cats

B: 49. E. Ramsay, 4. C. Blakeway, 23. H. Rowe
HB: 20. R. Pearce, 44. R. Goring, 11. J. Woollett
C: 3. A. McDonald, 27. R. Webster, 10. G. Rankin
HF: 45. M. Keryk, 17. G. Clarke, 9. T. Love
F: 42. B. Beckley, 8. K. Darby, 7. R. Benham
R: 1. R. Caris, 5. J. Ivey, 41. A. Haigh
Int: 14. N. French, 33. Z. Inei, 43. M. Maguire, 13. L. Taylor
Emg: 26. M. Boyd, 15. G. Deller, 16. O. Purcell
23P: 19. S. DeGiacomi

 

SEASON PREVIEWS: (Including byes)

CARLTON BLUES

Coach: Shannon McFerran
Last year: 7th (6-8)

The entire Carlton side would be buzzing with the AFL Women’s achievement of making the Grand Final and hoping to follow in the senior side’s footsteps. Last year the Blues showed signs within games, but could not quite put together a four quarter effort. They had an enormous amount of future AFL Women’s talent on their list last season with Tyla Hanks and Madeline Brancatisano (both Melbourne), Rene Caris (Geelong) and Celine Moody (Western Bulldogs) all poached by other clubs in the draft, while Abbie McKay, Chloe Dalton and Brooke Walker made the transition up to senior football at the Blues. Darcy Vescio won the leading goalkicker award after another terrific season inside 50 and look for her to be a key player in Shannon McFerran‘s side. With the close bond between Carlton and Northern Knights – and the strength of the Knights program in 2019 – do not be surprised for the Blues to be bolstered mid-season by the likes of Gabby Newton and Britney Gutknecht among others. They have picked up Marnie Jarvis and Taylah Manson from the Knights last year, and with continued improvement and recruitment of Madison Prespakis, Emerson Woods and Charlotte Wilson – who all had TAC Cup Girls and VFLW experience prior to being drafted, the Blues are a sleeper side that is not to be taken lightly.

 

CASEY DEMONS

Coach: Damien Keeping
Last year: 10th (5-9)

Despite a disappointing season on the ladder, Casey Demons were raided at the AFL Women’s draft with six drafted on the night, and a further one (Taylor Mesiti) prelisted. Jordyn Allen, Georgia Gourlay and Maddie Shevlin all swapped red and blue for black and white, while Casey Sherriff, Chantel Emonson and Shae Sloane showed enough to be picked up the Dees. The Demons have brought in some height with the recruitment of former Oakleigh Chargers and Essendon ruck, Bridie Winbanks, while putting an emphasis on retaining Melbourne AFLW listed players, something they did not have the luxury of having with many playing at Darebin given the players history with the Falcons. Now just Elise O’Dea, Lauren Pearce and Brooke Patterson are at the Falcons, so the Demons can have a stronger link to the AFLW side. Harriet Cordner and Maddison Gay were two big improvers of the 2019 AFLW season and will be ones to watch for the Demons in the upcoming VFLW season. A couple of key pickups for the Demons include Gippsland Power duo, Nikia Webber and Shanara Notman who could provide service up opposite ends. Overall look for the Demons to improve this year.

 

DAREBIN FALCONS

Coach: Michael Ericson (NEW)
Last year: 5th (8-6)

Darebin Falcons defied odds by finishing fifth last season and on track for finals up until a couple of rounds out from the post-season series. Michael Ericson has taken over from Jane Lange at the helm, and with it faces a new challenge of keeping the side competitive. O’Dea, Pearce and Patterson loom as the keys to the team, while Jamie Stanton who moved from Melbourne University – to align with her shift from North Melbourne to Gold Coast AFLW – is another AFLW listed player. Bridie Kennedy also joins the team from Carlton after having that AFLW experience, but mostly the Falcons will be relying on the yourh of the team and experienced VFLW players. Captain Stephanie Simpson is one of six players with 30 or more VFLW games under her belt which in the scheme of the relatively new competition is vital. Northern Knights, Nell Morris-Dalton and Ciara Fitzgerald have also joined Darebin, while former Eastern Ranges’ Lauren Szigeti will have benefited from her six games last year. Overall the Falcons will still give the top teams something to think about on their day, and rack up wins against the bottom handful, but it will be a test to be a genuine contender.

 

ESSENDON BOMBERS

Coach: Brendan Major
Last year: 13th (1-13)

It was fair to say Essendon did not have the season it had hoped for, winning just the one game and taking out the wooden spoon in season 2019. With limited AFL Women’s experience, the Bombers just lacked that top-end talent that other clubs had, and while the Bombers had that tackling ferocity through best and fairest winner, Hayley Bullas and the class and skill of future Adelaide AFLW premiership player, Danielle Ponter, they did not have enough talent across the board to compete with the sides that were flushed with AFLW signatures. The one win against Richmond was terrific to see, as it meant the Bombers got some reward for effort after a long season. Along with Bullas, Courtney Ugle and Simone Nalder have returned to the club, while former Murray Bushrangers’ defender and Eastern Allies representative, Eloise Ashley-Cooper will add some class to the side. The Bombers have four players with AFLW experience, including Maddy Collier and Hayley Trevean. With NAB League Girls club, Calder Cannons having some great talent coming through the ranks, expect the likes of Georgia Patrikios to open some eyes late in the season with her agility and goal sense, while Felicity Theodore, Alana Barba, Gloria Elamaly and Krstel Petrevski will add a mix of skill and toughness to the Bombers’ team. The Bombers will still lack the star quality other AFLW experienced teams have, so the goal will be to be more competitive and try and get off the bottom of the table this season.

 

GEELONG CATS

Coach: Natalie Wood (NEW)
Last year: 4th (10-3-1) Grand final loss

Natalie Wood has taken over from Paul Hood who opted to just focus on the AFLW side in the blue and white hoops, but has inherited a genuine premiership contender. After Geelong had fewer AFLW listed players compared to others last season, they now have 20 on their VFLW books, topped up by local players including former Geelong Falcons premiership players, Tarryn Love, Zoe Inei and Sachi DeGiacomi who managed six games at VFLW level between them last season. They have not only retained the majority of the their list, but picked up teh likes of Julia Crockett-Grills (Hawthorn), Rebecca Webster (Melbourne University) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (Williamstown), keeping them in the Geelong system. It is hard not to picture a scenario where Geelong are not in finals considering the now deep and strong bond the players have and having reached the grand final, before strengthening their list even more. The Geelong AFLW side made finals in its first year and expect the VFLW side to follow suit with the same talent on its list.

 

HAWTHORN HAWKS

Coach: Patrick Hill
Last year: 2nd (12-2) Premiers

The reigning premiers had a number of players drafted including Rising Star Jayde Van Dyk, Emerson Woods and Mikala Cann in what was a perfectly timed season, finishing second, pouncing on Collingwood in the semi-final, and then making the most of their opportunities against Geelong in the decider. In great news for the Hawks, Van Dyk has returned to the club for the VFLW season, as have key forward Phoebe McWilliams (Geelong), Rebecca Beeson and Pepa Randall (both GWS GIANTS). With super coach, Patrick Hill at the reigns again, the Hawks will be predicted to be thereabouts again and a genuine premiership contender. Sarah Perkins will be primed for a big season in the brown and gold, hoping to force her way back onto an AFLW list after being delisted by the Crows following the 2019 season. The forward combination between Perkins and McWilliams is as good as it gets in the competition, and with Eastern Rangers youngsters Serena Gibbs and Laura McClelland in the side later in the year, expect the reigning premiers to have a potent forward line. Gippsland Power’s Maddison Shaw has also joined the Hawks, and is one of just two 2001-birth players on the list. A huge contender.

 

MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY MUGARS

Coach: Scott Gowans
Last year: 9th (5-9)

The Mugars were up and down at times throughout the 2018 VFLW season, finishing with five wins from 14 games, but having some great young talent come into the side last in the year, including Prepsakis and Webster who were both drafted by AFLW clubs. Sophie Abbatangelo, Ashleigh Riddell, Maddison Smith, Chloe Haines, Libby Haines and Nicole Bresnehan all stepped up to the senior side, with many showing their ability to adapt to the faster pace of the game. After a huge season that ultimately fell short of a finals berth in the AFLW, North Melbourne and Melbourne Uni coach, Scott Gowans will be keen to continue the form shown by the Kangaroos at AFLW level, into the VFLW system. Emma Kearney was terrific for the Mugars last year along with Kaitlyn Ashmore, and expect them to be key players once again. They have added experience to their list with Hawthorn duo, Tahni Nestor and Kim Ebb, as well as Essendon’s Jessica Anwyl who showed promising signs last season in the red and black. Throw in league best and fairest winner, Jess Duffin, Jasmine Garner and Jenna Bruton, and the Mugars have to be considered one of the premiership favourites. All up they have 23 AFL Women’s listed players and will be another tough team to beat.

 

NORTHERN TERRITORY THUNDER

Coach: Heidi Thompson (NEW)
Last year: 3rd (11-3) – Semi-final loss

Much was spoken about the Thunder and whether or not the experienced top-heavy side with Adelaide Crows, could be allowed to play so much talent at once. Early in the season it looked like the Thunder would skip through the season, but in the end, ultimately fell in the first week of finals to the Cats. After missing out on her AFLW dream last year, Janet Baird is the biggest junior recruit to the Thunder in season 2019, with the NTFL Women’s top player signing on at the Thunder for the upcoming season. She joins the likes of Madeline Gault, Arthurina Moreen and Tabitha May, who all played for Central Allies in 2018, but missed out on a chance in the AFLW. The top-end and upcoming talent at the Thunder is clear, with Ebony Marinoff, Stevie-Lee Thompson, Marijana Rajcic, Renee Forth, Eloise Jones and Sarah and Jess Allen among a ridiculous among of Crows talent in the side. They were arguably a premiership favourite early in 2018, and should be in that place once again given the improvement of many of the Crows through the 2019 AFLW premiership year. With Heidi Thompson now taking the reigns from Tim Weatherald, it will be interesting to see how she balances the AFLW talent throughout the season.

 

RICHMOND TIGERS

Coach: Tom Hunter
Last year: 12th (4-10)

The Tigers had a disappointing season in 2018, finishing twelfth and losing to Essendon, the only side to do so. They, like the Bombers just lacked that star quality in the 2018 VFLW season, but if their 2019 AFLW trade period is anything to go by, expect them to shoot up the ladder in season 2019. Jessica Kennedy and Jacqueline Graham were two standouts for the Tigers, it was just a case of adding depth to the obvious talent that was coming through the ranks. While some will play limited games, the likes of Monique Conti, Katie Brennan and Sabrina Frederick make for a scary forward line. With Richmond able to pre-list players this season, every player on the list will be keen to impress in front of the Tigers’ hierarchy and see what they can do to try and get an AFLW spot for the 2020 season. Overlooked Murray Bushrangers, Tamara Smith, Grace Egan and Sophie Damon are back at Punt Road, while Kodi Jacques has also joined the club with the Bendigo Pioneers’ midfielder looking to stake her claim this year. Former Magpies, Shayla Marsh and Hannah McLaren will don the yellow and black this year, making the Tigers stocked with young talent that will create run and excitement throughout the 2019 season. Expect the Tigers to rise up the ladder, and while they might lack the AFLW talent other teams have outside their forward 50, they could overtake a number of the clubs around their level in season 2018, this year.

 

WESTERN BULLDOGS

Coach: Sean Kavanagh (NEW)
Last year: 6th (7-7)

Sean Kavanagh has taken over from Debbie Lee who is now VFLW General Manager at the club, and will be looking to reshape the side that has lost some serious AFLW talent. Conti always spent the majority of the season playing basketball, while Brennan will be a big lose inside 50. However with 20 AFLW players on their list, they still have more than enough talent and experience to get them by. Their three top-age players they have picked up from NAB League Girls clubs are Sophie Molan, Ella Wood and Elisabeth Georgostathis which is arguably the best trio of pick-ups across the league. Molan will make an immediate impact, while Wood and Georgostathis can play both off half-back and through the middle. They will be unavailable during the AFLW National Championships, but expect them to show their talent. Overager Georgia Pidgeon will also provide some height for the Bulldogs, while a host of local players joins the likes of Ellie Blackburn, Brooke Lochland, Isabel Huntington and Deanna Berry as key players. When talking about experience, the Bulldogs have 14 players with 30 or more games, making them a very experienced side in the competition, and one that while they might not be in the top handful, could still challenge for finals.

 

WILLIAMSTOWN

Coach: Amy Catterall
Last year: 11th (4-10)

Williamstown finished eleventh in 2019, notching up the four wins, but had some serious top-end talent at the Gulls’ disposal. Duffin won the league best and fairest despite the team struggles, while Garner and Bruton were stars for Williamstown before emulating that for the Kangaroos at AFLW level. Big question marks remain over the Seagulls with all three departing the club. It means the load falls onto their VFLW listed players shoulders and puts them in a similar position to Essendon and Richmond last year. They had a good win over the Western Bulldogs in a pre-season practice match, and can have the continuity that teams with restricted AFLW numbers cannot. However this year is set to be a massive challenge for the Seagulls after losing so much top-end talent, with Demon, Aliesha Newman being a key signing – the only AFLW player on the list – and likely to cause headaches inside 50 for opposition defences. In doing so, there might be some serious youngsters step up and then make a case to land at an AFLW club, like former Bendigo Pioneers’ captain Megan Williamson, Eastern Ranges’ tall Tahlia Merrett and Bendigo Pioneers’ key defender Kate Douglass.

AFLW season previews: Geelong

THE Geelong Cats are one of the two new sides entering the AFLW competition this year, and rather than finding players from other clubs, they have largely focused on adding local talent to their line-up. The Cats received the first two picks in the draft and snapped up two of the most exciting players in Nina Morrison and Sophie Van De Heuvel, who will certainly turn heads as the competition goes on.

List: Rene Caris, Danielle Orr, Hannah Burchell, Cassie Blakeway, Jordan Ivey, Julia Crockett-Grills, Mia-Rae Clifford, Kate Darby, Nina Morrison, Georgie Rankin, Meghan McDonald, Renee Garing, Maighan Fogas, Aasta O’Connor, Olivia Purcell, Georgia Clarke, Melissa Hickey, Rebecca Webster, Phoebe McWilliams, Madaleine McMahon, Elise Coventry, Madeleine Boyd, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Denby Taylor, Richelle Cranston, Hayley Trevean, Anna Teague, Rebecca Goring, Madeline Keryk, Erin Hoare

Local talent dominates this list, with 20 players featuring in Geelong’s 2018 Victorian Football League (VFLW) side. The Cats made the Grand Final and came up short against the Hawks, but showed what they are capable of with their list. Add experienced spearheads like Aasta O’Connor, Melissa Hickey and Phoebe McWilliams to the side and Geelong has a very potent line-up.

Area of strength: Midfield

The Geelong midfield is stacked with talent, led by Geelong Best and Fairest winner, Richelle Cranston. Cranston consistently racked up high numbers of disposals for the Cats during the VFLW season, and was complemented by a core group in Cassie Blakeway, Maighan Fogas and Hannah Burchell, who stepped up each week and are likely to do so again in the AFLW. Add in Geelong Falcons premiership duo, Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell, who both also played in the Grand Final for the Cats. Morrison’s chase-down speed is unbelievable, and she has shown that she can come up against bigger bodies, having to deal with a Meg Hutchins tag in the VFLW Grand Final. Purcell is a tackling machine and led the way for both the Falcons and the Cats with her ferocity, so expect 2019 to be much the same from her.

Area of weakness: Defence

While Geelong has plenty of exciting forwards, its defence may come under pressure with the attacking forward lines that a lot of sides boast. Georgia Clarke will come into the mix as a calm and composed defender, and will have to work with the likes of Elise Coventry and Bec Goring, who were mainstays in the Cats’ defence in the VFLW. While Coventry is a consistent player, she often goes missing in the disposal count, so she will need to work on that coming into the AFLW season. Rebecca Webster is likely to be a key part of Geelong’s defence, even though she can play through the midfield too. Webster has a booming kick and strong hands, so if she floats into the midfield, it could leave a big gap in the defensive 50.

Players to watch:

Nina Morrison

Being the number one pick comes with a lot of pressure, but Morrison knows how to handle it. Having only picked up a football in a competitive environment three years ago, Morrison had a ripper 2018, sharing the TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest and the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the Under 18 Championships. Her outside run is incredible, and her take-off speed is really something to watch. She is a precise kick and has shown that she can use it anywhere, having spent some time up forward for the Falcons last year in the TAC Cup Girls competition. Expect her to get a Rising Star nomination this season.

Olivia Purcell

The Geelong Falcons Best and Fairest was one of the most fierce tacklers in the TAC Cup Girls competition. She’s also a great clearance player, and knows how to hack it out of congestion with ease. She thrived in the Geelong VFLW environment, having played alongside players like Richelle Cranston. Purcell represented Vic Country in 2018 as well and was one of the leading disposal-getters in every match, highlighting her ability to find the footy with ease.

Maddy Boyd

A player that already has experience in the AFLW, Boyd will be a pivotal player for the Cats this year. She thrived in the ruck and through the forward line for Geelong’s VFLW side, taking big grabs and kicking crucial goals when needed. With plenty of ruck support in the team in the form of Aasta O’Connor, Kate Darby and Rene Caris, expect Boyd to spend some time up forward, as her marking prowess will give defenders massive headaches.

2019 prediction: 3rd in Conference B
The Cats certainly have the line-up to turn a few heads this season. With all the focus on North Melbourne’s star-studded line-up, the Cats’ has largely gone unnoticed, which the side will not mind at all. With Melissa Hickey leading the brigade as skipper and VFLW Grand Final coach, Paul Hood at the helm, it is hard to see where the Cats could go wrong in 2019. Gelling together will be the main challenge, as it always is for a new side. They have a hard draw to start off with, taking on the AFLW’s two premiership teams in Adelaide and the Bulldogs in the first four weeks, but those games are bookended by matches against Carlton and Collingwood. Expect Geelong to come out firing in 2019 and turn a few heads.

 

2019 Geelong AFLW Fixture

DateEventTime/ResultsVenueArticleMatch Day
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GMHBA StadiumRound 1
Whitten OvalRound 2
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Norwood OvalRound 3
GMHBA StadiumRound 4
Moreton Bay Sporting ComplexRound 5
GMHBA StadiumRound 6
UNSW Canberra OvalRound 7
Adelaide OvalPreliminary Finals

AFLW Draft review: Geelong

THE Cats trusted in their local talent, drafting six players from either the TAC Cup Girls or Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s team ahead of their inaugural season. Two players were drafted from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels, while one hailed from the Murray Bushrangers. After making it to the VFLW Grand Final, coach, Paul Hood appears to have huge faith in his local ready-made talent.

 

What they needed:

  • Midfield support for Richelle Cranston and Cassie Blakeway
  • Defenders to assist Anna Teague and Melissa Hickey
  • Versatility to cover any injury troubles

 

Players selected:

Nina Morrison – Geelong Falcons

There is not much that hasn’t been said about Nina Morrison. She was long touted as the number one pick, and lived out that dream. At the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Morrison also took home the Vic Country Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the overall tournament MVP with Madison Prespakis. She also shared the TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest award with Prespakis. Now, Morrison has the opportunity to show the nation what she’s made of and undoubtedly, her electric chase-down speed and fierce tackling will be on display. Her explosiveness down the wing combined with her ability to rack up the footy will be invaluable for the Cats.

Sophie Van De Heuvel – GWV Rebels

Van De Heuvel’s versatility will be of much use to the Cats. She played mostly in the forward line during the TAC Cup Girls season but also spent some time in the midfield in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, highlighting her ability to break the lines and penetrate forward. Van De Heuvel was GWV’s leading goal kicker this year with six goals from seven games and made the 2018 TAC Cup Girls and All Australian teams on the half-forward flank. She will be a great help to Kate Darby, Danielle Orr and Phoebe McWilliams inside 50.

Rebecca Webster – Murray Bushrangers

Webster is another versatile player, but thrives off running off the half-back line. She can shift into the midfield when needed as well, due to her valuable booming kick that sends her team forward. She was named at full-back in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year and represented Vic Country this year, making herself known in defence. Webster is a great overhead mark and has brilliant run and carry, which will really assist the smarts of Anna Teague and Melissa Hickey.

Olivia Purcell – Geelong Falcons

Purcell was one of the fiercest players in the TAC Cup Girls competition, hurting players with her clearances and aggressive tackling. Purcell’s immense power helps her break through congestion and enforce her blistering run and carry. She had a marvellous year, taking home the Geelong Falcons’ Best and Fairest, playing in a premiership with the side, playing in a Grand Final for the Cats’ VFLW side, making the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year and All Australian team. She will provide great support for Richelle Cranston, who can also hurt players with her power, aggression and run and carry.

Denby Taylor – Geelong Falcons

Denby Taylor was one of the smartest defenders in the TAC Cup Girls season, hurting players with her solid hands and run and carry off the half-back flank. She can be rotated through any position in defence, and also proved she could dominate on the wing, winning the best on ground award in the TAC Cup Girls Grand Final while playing in that position. It will be interesting to see what Paul Hood does with her, given her capabilities, but undoubtedly, she is a very handy pick-up for the Cats.

Georgia Clarke – GWV Rebels

Another defender with solid hands, Clarke and Taylor should work together in the back half to prevent opposition scoring. The Rebels defender made centre-half back her own in the TAC Cup Girls competition, creating a wall with her strong marking and kicking. Clarke was named in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year as the centre-half back, represented Vic Country in this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships and also spent some time with the AFL Women’s Academy.

Rene Caris – GWV Rebels

With a ruck line-up of Erin Hoare, Aasta O’Connor, Maddy Boyd, Kate Darby and the newly added Rene Caris, the Cats should dominate the midfield. Caris not only has a great leap but is agile at ground level, thanks to her clean hands and precise kicking. She was named in the TAC Cup Girls Team of the Year and also spent some time with the AFL Women’s Academy, giving her valuable experience in the Cats line-up. Caris featured for Carlton in the VFLW season, and proved that she could match it up against the bigger bodies in the AFL Women’s competition.

Maighan Fogas – Geelong VFLW

Maighan Fogas was one of Geelong’s most consistent midfielders this year in the VFLW, thanks to her exciting run and carry, clean hands and accurate kicking. She came second in Geelong’s VFLW Best and Fairest after playing 17 matches and being named in the best seven times. Her ability to fight for the ball in congestion made her a standout during the season, and if she continues to bring this trait into the AFL Women’s season, it will prove vital in the Geelong midfield.

Elise Coventry – Geelong VFLW

Coventry is your traditional no-fuss defender that consistently gets the job done. She is a great lockdown defender, which will prove vital if the Cats are to stop dangerous attacking teams such as the Western Bulldogs. Coventry finished in the top 10 of Geelong’s Best and Fairest and played 17 games for six appearances in the best.

Madeline Keryk – Geelong VFLW

Keryk worked incredibly hard to get back onto an AFL Women’s list in the off-season, after getting delisted by the Blues. She went over to the Cats halfway through the VFLW season and made an immediate impact with her ability to consistently rack up the footy and kick or handball long to get it out of congestion. Out of her 12 games during the season, she featured in the best on eight occasions, proving how damaging she is in the midfield. Her finals series was one to remember as well, gathering double-figure disposals in each match. Keryk’s experience combined with the youth of Morrison and Purcell will be fantastic to watch.

 

How they went:

Geelong has built a fantastic AFL Women’s side ahead of its first season in the competition.The Cats’ midfield will include Morrison, Purcell, Keryk, their forward line will feature the likes of Darby, Orr and McWilliams while their defence will be stacked with Clarke, Taylor and Coventry set to make a big impact. Add the ruck stocks of Aasta O’Connor, Erin Hoare and Rene Caris, and the Cats all of a sudden look very threatening to make a big statement in their first season of AFL Women’s.

Weekend previews: VFLW – Grand Final

THE stage is set for traditional rivals, Hawthorn and Geelong to make history in the inaugural Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Grand Final. The Hawks and Cats have been even all season on the ladder and will get to show what they’re made of in the first game played at Marvel Stadium.

 

HAWTHORN  v. GEELONG CATS

Sunday, September 23, 12.30pm
Etihad Stadium, Docklands

Form line:

Hawthorn:

Ladder position: 2nd
Wins: 12
Losses: 2
Percentage: 180%

Geelong:

Ladder position: 4th
Wins: 10
Losses: 3
Draws: 1
Percentage: 163%

 

Last time they met:

Hawthorn 6.5 (41) defeated Geelong 3.7 (25)

In the biggest match of the round, it was Hawthorn who got the early breakaway after an even first quarter. The Hawks kicked three goals to Geelong’s one in the second quarter, giving them a 14-point lead at the main break. They were able to extend their lead in the third with one goal, while keeping Geelong goalless. The Cats had a chance to fight back in the last quarter, but kicked 1.4, which gave Hawthorn the win.

AFLW duo, Sarah Perkins and Rebecca Beeson each kicked two majors on the day while Claire Dyett and Rosie Dillon booted through one each. Beeson had a dominant game with 22 disposals, five marks and six tackles and was complemented by fellow goal kicker, Rosie Dillon, who racked up 17 disposals and eight tackles. Skipper, Emma Mackie was huge on the day with 20 disposals and five tackles while Jayde Van Dyk was as resilient as ever down back with 18 disposals, four marks and five tackles.

Despite her side’s loss, Richelle Cranston was the leading disposal-getter on the ground with 25 touches as well as three marks and five tackles. Madeline Keryk wasn’t far off though with one goal, 24 disposals and nine tackles in another great game in the blue and white hoops. Kate Darby and Mia-Rae Clifford also got on the scoreboard with one major each. Darby gathered 12 disposals, three marks and eight tackles while Clifford was kept quiet with six disposals.

GOALS

Hawthorn: R. Beeson 2, S. Perkins 2, C. Dyett, R. Dillon
Geelong: M. Clifford, M. Keryk, K. Darby

BEST

Hawthorn: J. Van Dyk, R. Dillon, K. Ebb, S. Perkins, E. Mackie, M. Cann
Geelong: R. Cranston, A. Teague, E. Coventry, R. Goring, M. Keryk, K. Darby

 

Players to watch:

Hawthorn:

#1 Emma Mackie

Mackie has been outstanding this season and has managed to find her form from the start of the year in the last couple of weeks. Last time she faced the Cats, she racked up 20 disposals and five tackles, then followed this up with three goals, 18 disposals and four tackles in the qualifying final against the Pies.

#6 Julia Crockett-Grills

Crocket-Grills is an interesting situation, playing against the team that she has recently been recruited to in the AFL Women’s. An agile midfielder, Crockett-Grills can burst the game open with her speed and footy smarts. Against the Pies two weeks ago, she gathered 10 disposals and laid five tackles.

#8 Rebecca Beeson

Rebecca Beeson has been one of Hawthorn’s most consistent players throughout the season, playing roles in both the forward line and in the midfield. Lately, she has been in the midfield and has made a huge impact. She was dominant against Geelong in Round 16 where she gathered 22 disposals, five marks, six tackles and kicked two goals.   

#24 Rosie Dillon

Dillon has strung together a couple of good games in the lead-up to this match. She arguably played her best game of the season against Collingwood in week one of the finals, as she gathered 20 disposals, two marks and four tackles to go along with her major. Against Geelong in the home and away season, she was again one of the star players for the Hawks with one goal, 17 disposals, three marks and eight tackles.

#36 Jayde Van Dyk

Jayde Van Dyk well and truly deserved the VFLW Rising Star award after a breakout season in the brown and gold. Van Dyk was a lock in the backline each week and shut down her opponents extremely well. Her agile frame also allowed her to get involved in the contest with great run and carry. She got heavily involved against the Cats in Round 16 where she racked up 18 disposals, took four marks and laid five tackles.

#45 Mikala Cann

The Eastern Ranges midfielder has only played a handful of games for the Hawks, but they have all been of a high quality. Cann is an inside bull who tackles hard and runs hard in and out of stoppages. She’s one who can turn a game on its head with her explosive impact. Cann was the leading disposal-getter on the ground against Collingwood with 21 disposals, three marks and eight tackles.

 

Geelong:

#6 Maddie Boyd

Maddie Boyd’s aerial ability is really going to trouble the Hawks. Her contested and uncontested marking has been superb this season and has played a big part in getting the Cats to Marvel Stadium on Sunday. Against the Pies, she kicked two goals and took seven marks. Last time she faced the Hawks, she gathered 11 disposals and took five marks.

#7 Mia-Rae Clifford

Mia-Rae Clifford’s move into the forward line has been a revelation, as she has kicked 15 goals from 16 games. Clifford also made the VFLW Team of the Year thanks to her consistency with the ball in hand. She didn’t kick a goal against the Pies last week, so she would come into this game hungry for a couple of majors. Clifford still managed to rack up 11 disposals and lay six tackles in the fierce contest.

#16 Olivia Purcell

Olivia Purcell comes into this game with a chance to win her second premiership this season. She has rightfully earned her spot in the team with some great inside work and ferocity around the contest. This was highlighted last week when she laid 14 tackles against the Pies, not giving their midfielders an inch of space. Against the Northern Territory (NT), she got plenty of the ball, racking up 19 disposals and kicking a goal.

#20 Nina Morrison

Purcell’s premiership teammate, Nina Morrison is in the same situation as her, vying for her second premiership this season. There’s not much Morrison hasn’t won this season, winning both the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest alongside Madison Prespakis. Morrison missed last week’s game against the Pies after she was named best-on-ground in the Cats’ win over NT. In that game, she gathered 18 disposals and laid seven tackles. She is a key inclusion in this match.

#30 Richelle Cranston

Richelle Cranston will be a worrying prospect for Hawthorn with her strength around the contest. Cranston has the tenacity to bullock through packs and win the hard ball to get it out of congestion, which has played a big part in Geelong’s success this year. Her finals campaign has been outstanding with two goals, 19 disposals, five marks and six tackles against the NT. Against Collingwood, she racked up 15 disposals and laid seven tackles.

#45 Madeline Keryk

Madeline Keryk gets better as each week goes on, dominating the midfield with her tenacity and footy smarts. Keryk hits the packs hard and her kicking and handballing is precise. She is a ball magnet and has demonstrated this in her last two games. Against the Thunder, Keryk gathered 16 disposals and laid nine tackles. She bettered this when she faced the Pies, with 24 disposals and four tackles.

 

Preview:

These two teams have been evenly poised throughout the season, with both teams always in contention for the premiership flag. Both have knocked off minor premiers, Collingwood, and Geelong has had the added bonus of knocking out the NT. Hawthorn comes into this game off a break, giving a chance for players such as Olivia Flanagan to return from injury and slot back into the side. Geelong has kept it simple in the lead-up to the Grand Final, bringing in star draft prospect, Nina Morrison to impose her outside run on the Hawks’ midfield.

The midfield will be littered with Under 18 Victorian representatives, with Morrison, Olivia Purcell, Mikala Cann and Emerson Woods to all play a role on the day. Experienced players, Rebecca Beeson and Emma Mackie could go up against Richelle Cranston and Rosie Dillon in what should be an enthralling battle. In the 50s, Geelong captain, Rebecca Goring could see eye-to-eye with Adelaide Crows forward, Sarah Perkins while Jayde Van Dyk could match up on Mia-Rae Clifford.

It’s also a match-up of two of the best coaches, with Patrick Hill and Paul Hood matching up tactics against tactics. Geelong coach, Hood believes his side can get revenge on the Hawks after an improvement of form since their last meeting.

“We’re quietly confident we can improve our performance after that day,” he said. “Obviously we learn a bit from playing against the Hawks, they put in a really powerful performance. “It’s no great surprise to us that we’re here but obviously we needed a bit of luck along the way.  “We’re really grateful to get the opportunity to play this weekend.”

Patrick Hill is also grateful to grace Marvel Stadium with his Hawthorn players, admitting that he didn’t see a Grand Final berth coming so fast.

“If you told me I’d be here two years ago in a Grand Final, I probably would’ve laughed at you,” Hill said. “We’re incredibly well supported by our club. “I think it shows how many great athletes there are in women’s sport. “It’s not like men’s sport where they’ve already been through trials and a lot of development programs thrown at them since they were seven years old, they’ve had to sort of fight to be involved. “Once we opened up the doors to all our women in, you see how many amazing athletes there are out there, they’re extremely coachable and a delight to work with.”

Hawthorn has been one of the best offensive sides this year while Geelong has been one of the best defensive outfits, so if the game is played on the Hawks’ terms, it could be a fast-paced game. But if the game is played on the Cats’ terms, it could be a defensive, hard-fought slug which Geelong has been accustomed to this year. Either way, this will be a tight contest with both teams desperate to lift up the first ever VFLW premiership cup on Sunday.