Tag: Rebecca Beeson

2020 Top 10 AFLW matches: #1 – Mithen saves Demons from finals hell

IN a new countdown, Draft Central recalls the Top 10 AFL Women’s games for season 2020, ending with our top pick which saw Melbourne claim a dramatic come-from-behind finals win over GWS via the boot of an unlikely hero. On the road and in their first ever post-season match, the Demons had to raise hell to come out on top.

The match-up produced an opening term befitting of the tense nature of finals time, with both sides going goalless but the contest hot as GWS snuck ahead 2-1 in a scoreline reminiscent of a soccer game.  GIANTS skipper Alicia Eva made her presence felt early on, snapping through the point to put her side ahead while also getting some attention back after pummelling high into Melbourne star, Karen Paxman. The home side looked set to find the big sticks first when Rebecca Privitelli juggled a mark deep inside 50, but her kick held up in the breeze and proved easy picking for the Melbourne defence to prevent a score altogether.

It took a strike from Lily Mithen, who had never previously kicked a goal in her four-year AFL Women’s career to see the first set of six points tick over, converting from a tight angle to put Melbourne ahead after earning a free kick. The excitement was only made more evident in the absence of a crowd, with her teammates duly getting around her. Despite holding territory at what looked like the scoring end, the Demons almost saw their opponent go coast-to-coast in the last 10 minutes, but Aimee Schmidt pulled her shot badly while streaming into goal. She made amends for the miss with a wonderful effort in the final minute of the half, though, benefitting from a spill created by Privitelli at ground level and snapping home the GIANTS’ first major. The buffer was back to just a sole point at the main break, with the famed premiership quarter ahead.

After a tense opening few minutes, Jess Dal Pos earned a free kick within the forward 50 arc and converted a booming set shot to put GWS back in front. It would prove the catalyst for what seemed like a game-breaking run for the GIANTS, owning the term with 2.3 while holding Melbourne scoreless. The GIANTS may have again spurned some guilt-edged chances in front of goal, but another major in the final minute – this time via Cora Staunton and a lucky falcon – had the home side dreaming of a would-be preliminary final berth. The GIANTS were 14 point to the good come the final turn, a margin which exceeded the score Melbourne had put on the board to that point.

The failure to convert in front of goal would come back to haunt GWS though, and Shelley Scott’s accurate set shot gave the Demons a sniff with seven-and-a-half minutes left to play. The pressure only mounted as Adelaide premiership star and 2020 injury top-up player Sarah Perkins slammed home another major, bringing the margin to within a goal. If Melbourne’s pressure hadn’t already set the alarm bells ringing, then the scoreboard would have for GWS. No warning could prevent what eventuated, as Mithen took a terrific one-on-one mark with a tick over a minute left on the clock, and remarkably converted the shot to give her side the lead once again at the ideal time. The final siren would sound with Melbourne once again heading inside forward 50, and scenes of jubilation ensuing.

The cream rose to the top for Melbourne, with all the usual experienced suspects having their say. Daisy Pearce led her side’s disposal count with 22 from defence alongside 15 from Libby Birch, while elite midfield mover Paxman notched 20. The aerial presence of Lauren Pearce and Eden Zanker proved valuable for the winners, but it was Mithen’s two goals which undeniably made her the hero in just her third outing for the season. For the GIANTS, Alyce Parker was at her usual best with a game-high 23 disposals, aided by Rebecca Beeson and Haneen Zreika. The likes of Eva, Schmidt, and Tait Mackrill had what-if games going forward, with their chances adding to the unfortunate statistic of GWS losing despite managing two more scoring shots. The Dees were poised to go on into the preliminary final round, but of course saw the season cut short and a remarkable run, ended.

GWS GIANTS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
MELBOURNE 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

GWS: A. Schmidt, C. Staunton, J. Dal Pos.
Melbourne: L. Mithen 2, S. Scott, S. Perkins.

ADC BEST:

GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, H. Zreika, J. Allan
Melbourne: K. Paxman, L. Birch, D. Pearce, L. Mithen, E. Zanker

2020 AFL Women’s season review: GWS GIANTS

GWS GIANTS endured a season of ebbs and flows in 2020, but it will undoubtedly be remembered for producing the GIANTS’ first-ever finals appearance, as well as their winningest campaign to date (four) to place second in Conference A. Led by Alicia Eva in the wake of Amanda Farrugia‘s sudden retirement, the inaugural club leant on the experience of its foundation core to often outwork and outmuscle the opposition, with a Rising Star nominee and two All Australian squad members recognised along the way. Relive the highs and lows of GWS’ 2020 effort, with a nod to their most outstanding players in our season review.

RECORD: 2nd (A), 4-2 (0-1 finals), 123.2%

RESULTS:

R1: defeated Gold Coast by 1 point
R2: lost to North Melbourne by 18 points
R3: defeated West Coast by 28 points
R4:
lost to Brisbane by 28 points
R5:
defeated Richmond by 45 points 
R6:
defeated Adelaide by 5 points
SF: lost to Melbourne by 3 points

The ebbs and flows are made no more evident than in GWS’ first month of football, with the win-loss trend continuing into Round 5 before the GIANTS emphatically snared their first set of consecutive wins in Round 6. Although the hardened GWS squad was able to account for the teams it would be expected to – including three expansion sides – it fell short against the true top-end clubs this season. The emphatic win over Adelaide somewhat makes up for that given the Crows’ fabled squad depth, but it ultimately showed again come finals. An impressive campaign nonetheless, with four wins no mean feat.

SEASON HIGH: Raiding Adelaide to lock-in a finals spot

This was the dagger nailed through the heart of Adelaide’s premiership defence, with GWS locking in a maiden finals berth, and ridding the Crows of one in the process. It was an enormous effort in enemy territory, with the GIANTS claiming the lead after quarter time and not looking back to hold on to the unlikely victory. A roaring success, and the clear highlight of the season with star midfielder Alyce Parker leading the way (30 disposals, seven marks).

SEASON LOW: Letting a first-ever finals win slip

In what has been somewhat of a theme throughout each sides’ highs and lows in 2020, the GIANTS’ greatest success was followed by its most crushing defeat. After finally earning a post-season ticket, the GWS looked certain to roll on into the would-be preliminary finals with a lead in-excess of two goals heading into the final term. But the home side could not finish the job, with its finals dream shattered by the boot of Melbourne’s Lily Mithen.

FIVE KEY PERFORMERS:

Alyce Parker (21.1 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2.9 tackles, 4 clearances, 2.6 rebound 50s, 2.9 inside 50s, 377 metres gained)

One of just two GWS All Australian squad members this year, Parker was her side’s prime mover through midfield. The 19-year-old is right up there with Rising Star Madison Prespakis as far as progress goes from their draft year, having developed into an out-and-out star of the competition. Despite heavy opposition attention most weeks, Parker led the GIANTS in disposals, metres gained, contested possessions, clearances, score involvements, and both inside and rebound 50s.

Alicia Eva (14.8 disposals, 2 marks, 7.2 tackles, 1.4 rebound 50s, 2.2 inside 50s)

The skipper was sorely missed in two games by her side this season through injury despite the wins, but was impactful as ever having taken on an elevated leadership role in 2020. Eva started the season brightly as the perfect accompaniment to Parker’s class in midfield, working hard around the ground and at the stoppages to make her presence felt going both ways.

Rebecca Beeson (16 disposals, 71% disposal efficiency, 2 marks, 2.7 tackles, 1.9 inside 50s)

Tasked with making a more permanent move into the midfield having already staked her claim as a forward, Beeson stood up when her side needed her – especially upon Eva’s absence. A great generator of run through the engine room given her speed, Beeson built on her impressive 2019 campaign with another consistent season, and is delivering on all her promise at 23 years of age.

Britt Tully (11.4 disposals, 1 mark, 6.6 tackles, 2.9 clearances, 1.6 inside 50s, 2 goals)

Part of this year’s leadership group, the foundation GIANT achieved career-best numbers in disposals, tackles, and marks this season as a now-seasoned member of the squad. Tully was not afraid to get stuck in and do the dirty work in her midfield-forward role, linking well into the GIANTS’ attacking 50 while also finding the goals herself – twice. She was the clubhouse leader for tackles, showcasing her contested-ball prowess.

Haneen Zreika (12.7 disposals, 2.4 marks, 4 tackles, 1.1 rebound 50s, 1.4 inside 50s, 2 goals)

Another who enjoyed a good bout of midfield time in 2020 was Zreika, who continues to provide effective forward run for the GIANTS. The diminutive, 157cm playmaker was a terrific runner from midfield this year and got forward at the ideal times to find the big sticks on two occasions. Not to be pigeon-holed in that role, Zreika gets an A for effort every week with her defensive work, too.

THE CROSS-CODER:

Elle Bennetts (12.4 disposals, 71% disposal efficiency, 3 marks, 1.9 tackles, 1.6 rebound 50s)

The second GIANT to earn All Australian squad recognition, Bennetts was terrific for her side in a new role across all seven games. At 172cm, the former-netballer was an apt reader of the play from half-back, while also providing great rebound upon the turnover of possession. The 30-year-old is only getting better after three seasons at the elite level, and was a vital part of GWS’ system this year.

THE BOOKENDS:

Cora Staunton (9 disposals, 2 marks, 1.7 tackles, 1.7 inside 50s, 8 goals)
Pepa Randall (6.3 disposals, 80% disposal efficiency, 0.7 marks, 2 tackles, 1.1 rebound 50s)

Both members of GWS’ leadership group, the numbers may not flatter these two, but don’t let it undermine their respective importance to the side up either end. Staunton again found success in front of goal to lead the club with eight majors – a career-best haul – with her four against Richmond a season highlight. At the ripe age of 38, Staunton is far from done and was invaluable for development of the likes of Rebecca Privitelli.

Up the other end, Randall continued to bullock on in her commendable role as a dour defender, taking on the opposition’s best forward each week and doing it selflessly. A cool head in the crisis, the foundation GIANT was a rock among GWS’ back five, helping to maintain the structure while providing a solid last line. Her sweeping on the ball was excellent too, going at a club-high 80 per cent disposal efficiency.

VERDICT:

Another team which improved out of sight on its 2019 effort, GWS was one of the great success stories in 2020. Led by a strong core of foundation players and with some likely types developing well at the elite level, the GIANTS should maintain their status as a finals contender heading into next year.

Demons’ remarkable comeback sees inaugural AFL Women’s finals victory

THE second match of the AFL Women’s semi-finals saw GWS GIANTS host Melbourne in a real battle of the midfield with both sides coming in relatively equal. While the Dees had to ensure they had enough players to take the field – with two of their Irish talents heading home prior to the weekend – the GIANTS had the opportunity to bring back some of their big guns and take advantage of a two-game winning streak. Unfortunately for the stalwart GIANTS however, a massive burst in energy and drive was the clincher, with Melbourne digging deep for three straight goals to defeat the home side, 4.5 (29) to 3.8 (26).

Right from the start it was a tough contest, with both sides going in hard for the footy and relentless in their pursuit. While the first quarter was goalless it was not for a lack of trying, thanks to the impressive defensive effort of both sides. Melbourne’s Libby Birch and Daisy Pearce (15 and 22 touches respectively), and GIANTS’ Elle Bennetts and Tanya Hetherington (13 and 10) were doing the job off the half-back for their respective sides and making it tough to penetrate forward 50. Neither side was able to really apply the scoreboard pressure required to guarantee a lead early, and while an inaugural goal for Demons speedster Lily Mithen early in the second did plenty to raise morale it was only just enough to keep the Dees ahead, with Aimee Schmidt looking dangerous up the other end, finishing with 1.2 alongside fellow goalsneak Cora Staunton. While the return of Lauren Pearce was a handy inclusion for the Dees, it was the GIANTS midfield that had it over the Melbourne outfit, forcing errors and turnovers in the Demons’ forward half with Jess Allan producing clean taps to the GIANTS at the centre bounce. While the Dees had 10 more inside 50s, the GIANTS were much more clinical in the third quarter to take a solid lead and leave the Demons in the dirt, rendering the Dees goalless in the third while goals to Schmidt and Jess Dal Pos saw victory inching away from Melbourne’s sights. Eden Zanker continued to bull her way through the contest, aiding Lauren Pearce in the ruck and using her aerial ability to bring ball to ground, with Karen Paxman using her experience to take the footy from there and drive the ball forward.

Alicia Eva (12 disposals, 10 tackles, two behinds) looked dangerous in the final quarter but was unable to extend the lead – something the GIANTS captain will be ruing as real a missed opportunity, with the side unable to reenter their forward 50 for much of the last quarter. Alyce Parker (23 disposals, four marks) proved why she is such a highly valued player, digging deep and impacting the contest with her ability to find the ball. The GIANTS continued to control much of the ball movement through the middle of the ground, rebounding well with Brittany Tully (11 disposals, six tackles) and Bennetts using their speed to keep the Dees on their toes. But Melbourne’s experience well and truly came to play, with the defensive pressure going up a notch to ensure there were little uncontested marks or clean entries inside their defensive 50. A goal to Shelley Scott had the Dees up on their feet, with a closing margin and all the momentum putting the GIANTS on the defensive. Still down by nine points with less than five minutes to play, Melbourne really came out of the blocks to apply the scoreboard pressure they’d been missing, with a goal to Sarah Perkins putting the Dees within four points of victory. Less than a minute on the clock, and a great mark from Mithen saw the Demon with an opportunity to gift Melbourne its inaugural finals victory and chew up some time – and kicked true for her second career goal. Retaining possession was key for the Dees as the seconds dwindled, with the final siren seeing a massive three-point semi-final victory in the books after trailing for majority of the match. 

Mithen impressed with her two goals and some impressive – and daring – marks getting the job done up the ground for the Dees. Daisy Pearce and Paxman were some of the driving forces in the latter stage of the match, combining for 43 touches, nine tackles and five marks, while Birch was influential as ever down back, consistently providing that rebounding effort with her ability to intercept critical ball. Despite Aleisha Newman being rendered goalless once more – her first goalless season at AFL Women’s level – her drive forward was crucial in the later stages of the match while her speed and intensity saw her collect five tackles, just behind Scott, Perkins and Paxman with six apiece.

For the GIANTS, Jacinda Barclay and Rebecca Privitelli were both kept relatively quiet, and while they were solid targets up the ground, collecting five marks apiece, they were unable to have the impact they have shown in past games. Haneen Zreika and Rebecca Beeson looked dangerous at times, finding plenty of the footy with their respective 17 and 19 disposals, while Eva’s and Tully’s tackling pressure was vital.

GWS GIANTS 0.2 | 1.4 | 3.7 | 3.8 (26)
MELBOURNE 0.1 | 1.5 | 1.5 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

GWS: A. Schmidt, C. Staunton, J. Dal Pos.
Melbourne: L. Mithen 2, S. Scott, S. Perkins.

ADC BEST:

GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, H. Zreika, J. Allan
Melbourne: K. Paxman, L. Birch, D. Pearce, L. Mithen, E. Zanker

GIANTS host Demons in inaugural AFL Women’s finals appearance

TWO inaugural AFL Women’s finalists will face off in the second match of the semi-finals, with second ranked GWS GIANTS (Conference A) and Melbourne (Conference B) both taking the field in a finals scenario for the first time in the competition’s history. Both sides are sitting on four wins from six matches and among the top sides in their respective conferences, making for an enticing battle between two talented teams.  

GWS GIANTS v. Melbourne
Saturday, 21 March, 2.40pm AEDT
GIANTS Stadium

Melbourne and GIANTS did not play during the home and away season in 2020, making for an interesting battle for the opposing conference teams – especially given if the two conferences were combined, Melbourne would sit in fourth ahead of GIANTS on percentage in fifth. While Melbourne will likely come in as favourites this week, another anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury last week – their fifth of the season – sees the Dees down in stocks once more while the GIANTS have the winning streak to get over the line. While the two sides have not come up against each other in 2020, the GIANTS will hope to fight back against recent history with losses to the Dees in both 2018 and 2019 sure to be on their mind, though plenty has changed for both teams since those seasons. 

The GIANTS will hope to welcome back fearless leader Alicia Eva, with the tenacious midfielder a key cog that could help push the Dees to the limit. GIANTS fans are hopeful ruck Jess Allan (averaging 16.8 hitouts) will return to the fray this week after sitting out with sickness in Round 6 to team up with Rebecca Beeson and Alyce Parker who continue to have an influence both on and off the footy, while Brittany Tully is having an impressive season on the track with her tackling pressure, collecting almost seven per match. Cora Staunton and Rebecca Privitelli have been key targets up forward, bearing the brunt of the goalkicking with seven and six respectively, while Elle Bennetts has been influential off the half back averaging 6.3 intercept possessions.

Melbourne will sorely miss dynamic Irish duo in Sinead Goldrick and Niamh McEvoy, with the pair called back home during the week in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, making for a tough ask for the Dees to field a team. Defensively the impact of Daisy Pearce and Libby Birch will prove crucial, with both players averaging 6.2 intercept possessions and sending the footy back forward, settling play in motion with patience. Karen Paxman has been the clear standout for the Demons this season, averaging 21.5 touches (10 contested) and five clearances and doing a wealth of work off the ball to provide that option up the ground. Young gun Tyla Hanks has slot in well and leads the tackle count while Eden Zanker has put an impressive season in the books playing out of her depth as an undersized ruck, but is averaging 11.7 hitouts thanks to her impressive leap and has put a score on the board in all but one match in 2020. Kate Hore has come into her own in front of the big sticks this season, booting the five goals – including a goal of the year contender last round – while her work rate and  run and carry has been phenomenal in season 2020.

2020 AFLW weekend wrap: Round 6 – GIANTS, Blues consolidate finals chances

GWS and Carlton notched huge wins against fellow AFL Women’s finals hopefuls to consolidate their own finals chances in Round 6 of the competition, with reigning premier Adelaide dealt a blow in its premiership defence. Meanwhile, both conference leaders enjoyed wins to continue on their road to the post-season, Collingwood remained in the hunt, while expansion sides Gold Coast and St Kilda both also won out convincingly. In our Match of the Round, Carlton overcame Melbourne in a crucial win in the Top End.

GEELONG 2.1 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.2 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.2 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 10.6 (66)

Peter Williams

North Melbourne has overcome a slow start to run over the top of Geelong in the Friday night fixture at GMHBA Stadium. As the only game allowing fans into the venue for the weekend amid growing fears with the Coronavirus, the Cats put on a show early, booting the only two goals of the first term through Phoebe McWilliams and All-Australian defender, Meg McDonald. By the time Julia Crockett-Grills had converted the Cats’ third major just 62 seconds into the second term, the home team led 3.1 to 0.2 and an upset was brewing. Little did the fans that did turn up know, the visiting team was about to click into gear. While Olivia Purcell again attacked the scoreboard for a behind in the fourth minute, that would turn out to be the last score of the game for the Cats, as the Roos piled on 10.4 to 0.0 over the next hour to completely run away with the match and win by 46 points. Jasmine Garner booted three goals and Brittany Gibson two, with the premiership favourites taking a while, but finally finding their groove in the 10.6 (66) to 3.2 (20) triumph on the road.

Garner finished with 18 disposals, six marks, six tackles and five inside 50s to go with her three goals, while Gibson made the most of her four touches, booting two goals from two marks. In terms of disposals, Ash Riddell continued her fine form with a match-high 23, as well as five marks, three inside 50s and seven tackles. Former Most Valuable Player (MVP) winner, Emma Kearney was prominent again thanks to 22 disposals, six marks, three tackles, six inside 50s and five rebounds. Jenna Bruton (21 disposals, seven tackles and three inside 50s) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, two marks, four tackles and four inside 50s) were busy, while Mia King booted her first AFL Women’s career goal to go with her 12 touches and seven tackles.

For the Cats, Purcell amassed 18 disposals, five tackles and two inside 50s, McDonald had the 14 touches, five marks, three rebounds and a goal, while Amy McDonald had 13 disposals, two marks and four tackles. Also amongst the more prominent ball winners were Crockett-Grills (12 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Danielle Higgins (12 touches, three marks and four tackles) and Madeline Keryk (12 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds). Unfortunately for the Cats, the loss was further soured by a serious knee injury to Nina Morrison with fears that she had done a second anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) on the same right leg. The result meant the Roos stretched their lead out to six points a the top of Conference A, with Geelong’s finals hopes coping a knock to sit four points, percentage and a game behind the top three sides.

GOALS:

Geelong: J. Crockett-Grills, P. McWilliams, M. McDonald.
North Melbourne: J. Garner 3, B. Gibson 2, D. Bateman, S. Abbatangelo, K. Gillespie-Jones, E. King, M. King.

BEST:

Geelong: O. Purcell, J. Crockett-Grills, M. McDonald, R. Cranston, R. Garing
North Melbourne: J. Garner, A. Riddell, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, M. King

BRISBANE LIONS 0.1 | 0.1 | 2.2 | 2.2 (14)
COLLINGWOOD 2.4 | 3.7 | 3.10 | 5.13 (43)

Ryan Dundas

Although Coronavirus halted the fans, Collingwood could not be stopped as they conquered the Brisbane Lions. The last time these two sides met saw the Magpies deny Brisbane finals football and there was a sense of déjà vu for Craig Starcevich’s side as Collingwood cemented early pressure. The Pies were able to control the contested possessions, allowing their side to take an early 15-point lead in the opening term. Led by Brittany Bonnici, a bunch of Magpies were instrumental in providing inside 50s for Collingwood, while seconding to stifle the Lions’ defence. Bonnici was threatening around the contest, offering the Pies options all over the ground. Collingwood’s dictating was not stopped as they kept Brisbane scoreless in the second term.

Down by 24 points at half-time, Brisbane came out strong in the second half and rallied momentum to only trail at the final break by 14. However, the damage was already done as Collingwood controlled the final term to win 5.13 (43) to 2.2 (14). Two consecutive wins for the Magpies ensure they are still in the hunt for a finals berth in the AFLW competition. Conversely, Brisbane’s loss opens the door now for the Gold Coast Suns to obtain the final spot in Conference A.

Bonnici was outstanding in the midfield for Collingwood, recording 26 disposals, three marks and three tackles. Undoubtedly, the best player on the ground, her stocks continue to rise in the AFLW. Sarah D’Arcy‘s willingness to find opportunities in the forward line was also one of Collingwood’s vital strengths against Brisbane. Although 1.4 is not her peak, her best work came off the ball, creating openings for her teammates. Similarly, on the defensive end, Steph Chiocci’s impact against Brisbane influenced the momentum away from the Lions with 18 disposals, six marks and four tackles. For the Brisbane Lions, Rheanne Lugg (18 disposals and eight marks) stepped up in a side that was outplayed by the Collingwood Magpies. Along with her, Sophie Conway in the second half was one of the best players on the ground with 11 disposals and two marks.

GOALS:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, C. Svarc
Collingwood: S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, C. Molloy, S. Alexander, J. Membrey

ADC BEST:

Brisbane: D. Davidson, R. Lugg, S. Conway, C. Svarc
Collingwood:
S. D’Arcy, B. Bonnici, B. Davey, S. Chiocci, C. Molloy, J. Lambert

ST KILDA 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)
RICHMOND 0.0 | 0.2 | 0.2 | 0.3 (3)

Tom Cheesman

“The G-Train” Caitlin Greiser led St Kilda to a dominant 39-point victory over the struggling Richmond at RSEA Park on Saturday. Greiser was unstoppable up forward while Richmond were held to just three points for the match, the lowest score ever recorded in AFLW. It has been a disappointing debut AFLW season for the Tigers, who are yet to record their first win and sit with a lowly percentage of 35.7. St Kilda dominated all the key stats including disposals (206-144), clearances (32-15), contested possessions (106-81) and inside 50s (29-19).

Greiser got the Saints off to a dream start, earning a free kick deep in the forward 50 and kicking her side’s first major. Round 5 Rising Star nominee Olivia Vesely was clean at the clearances early, while Clara Fitzpatrick took some nice intercept marks in defence. Greiser’s second gave the Saints a two-goal lead at the first break. Both teams went goalless in the second term, as Richmond did well to lock it in their forward 50 but could not impact the scoreboard. Sabrina Frederick earned two set shots on goal but failed to convert. With fans locked out due to the coronavirus, both sides’ benches made as much noise as possible to help support their sides.

In the third, the Saints got back to applying strong forward pressure while Richmond struggled to transition the ball past the centre of the ground. Greiser kicked her third before Kate Shierlaw got on the end of some great run and carry from Georgia Patrikios to put through their fourth. St Kilda’s dominance at the contest continued in the last as they ran away to a comfortable victory. Greiser was a clear best on ground with three goals, three marks and four tackles. Meanwhile, Rosie Dillon (17 disposals, seven tackles) and Vesely (16 disposals, five tackles) were very impactful at the clearances. For Richmond, Monique Conti was far and away their strongest performer with 22 disposals, four marks and four tackles.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser 3, D. Guttridge, K. Shierlaw, N. Xenos
Richmond: Nil

ADC BEST:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, R. Dillon, N. Xenos, C. Fitzpatrick, O. Vesely
Richmond: M. Conti, G. Campbell, S. Frederick

WESTERN BULLDOGS 2.0 | 4.1 | 7.3 | 8.3 (51)
FREMANTLE 1.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 | 10.6 (66)

Lachie Abbott

Fremantle remain undefeated after edging out the Western Bulldogs by 15 points in a high scoring contest at Whitten Oval. The Dockers trailed by four points at three-quarter-time, but rallied to kick four goals, while the Bulldogs could only manage one in the final term.

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Bulldogs were unable to call upon the support of their home fans to get them off to a flying start, as organisers have closed all AFLW matches from crowds. Nevertheless, the Dogs got off to a strong start with a linking chain of handballs through the centre corridor, with the run of Katy Heron eventually allowing Ellie Blackburn to kick the opening goal of the match.

Hannah Munyard added a second major on the back of a lovely checkside pass from Kirsten McLeod and it was clear the Dogs were up for the fight. However, the Dockers soon showed why they are undefeated and hit back through a strong Kara Antonio mark and set shot, set up by the run of Gemma Houghton from the wing. The Dogs were potent using handballs to drive attacks off half-back through the centre of the ground, whereas the Dockers preferred to keep the ball out of the corridor and utilised their foot skills along the boundary line.

Blackburn began the second term as she finished the first, receiving a handball and firing home from 40 metres to add the much needed classy tough to the Dogs play. The Bulldogs’ defence struggled at times to escape the pressure of Fremantle’s forwards, resulting in several opportunities for the potent Dockers attack, including one set shot for Hayley Miller to cut the margin to four points.

Also up forward for the Dockers, Ashley Sharp was a thorn in the side of the Bulldogs defence for the entirety of the game, scoring multiple opportunistic goals. Laura Pugh added another for the Dockers just before the break after a penetrating inside 50 from Antonio spilled her way. Heading into the main interval, it was the Dockers who had recovered to lead by four points and look ready to break the game open in the second half.

Yet once the second stanza got underway, it was the Dogs who broke the game open. Unfortunately for Katie-Jayne Grieve, she was completely to blame for the first goal of the Dogs’ third-quarter rally, giving away a free kick and two 50-metre penalties to allow an easy goal for the dominant Aisling McCarthy.

Later in the term, McLeod, despite only having six touches for the day, was extremely effective when she got the ball in her hands. The small forward snapped her second major midway through the term to extend the lead back to 10 points with a classy finish. Deanna Berry then added another and suddenly, it looked like the one-win Bulldogs may run away with the match. However, the Dockers roared back into life to kick the last two goals of the quarter through a dribbling Mia-Rae Clifford finish and a strong contested mark from Sharp, on the back of outstanding forward pressure.

With it all to play for at the start of the final term, Ebony Antonio stood up when she was needed most, slotting a classy goal in the early stages of the quarter. Antonio feigned to give off the handball- selling two defenders- before cutting to her right and finishing with poise on the run. Antonio continued to play an inspired final quarter, laying crunching tackles and later drifting back behind the play and taking some important contested marks.

Danielle Marshall responded for the Dogs after almost ruining a golden goal-scoring opportunity by kicking into Kiara Bowers on the mark. Luckily for Marshall, the ricochet fell back into her arms and the American managed to finish from a tight angle. But that was as good as it got for the Bulldogs, and soon after a strong mark from Clifford set up her second. Almost two minutes later, a strong contest from Grieve in the goal square allowed Kate Flood to poke home from close range and suddenly the Dockers had a two goal cushion.

With little time left, the Bulldogs pressed up the field in search of a much needed second major of the term. However, a burst forward on the wing from Houghton made use of the now vacant space in behind the Dogs defence. Sharp knocked Houghton’s kick towards goal and used blistering speed to seal the match. The Dockers defended well in the closing moments to not allow the Bulldogs any clean possession and ultimately claimed their sixth win of the season in a thrilling encounter.

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, E. Blackburn 2, H. Munyard, D. Marshall, A. McCarthy, D. Berry.
Fremantle: A. Sharp 3, M. Clifford 2, L. Pugh, K. Flood, E. Antonio, K. Antonio, H. Miller.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, A. McCarthy, G. Newton, I. Huntington, H. Munyard, K. McLeod
Fremantle: E. Antonio, K. Bowers, K. Antonio, A. Sharp, H. Miller, M. Clifford

ADELAIDE 2.1 | 2.1 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)
GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 | 4.2 (26)

Michael Alvaro

GWS dealt a crushing blow to Adelaide’s premiership defence on Sunday, knocking over the reigning premiers by five points in a thriller at Hisense Stadium. The GIANTS came up clutch in the low-scoring contest, quickly rectifying an early deficit and holding off the Crows’ last-ditch effort to run out 4.2 (26) to 3.3 (21) victors. Not only does the win mean GWS is in the box seat to secure a finals berth, but it was also the GIANTS’ first-ever AFLW victory over Adelaide.

Fresh off a match winning four-goal haul against Richmond, Cora Staunton picked up right from where she left off in Round 5 by floating through the game’s opening goal. But the Crows would work to even the ledger and sneak ahead late in the first term, with the impact of a returning Erin Phillips proving vital. The two-time AFLW best and fairest winner had a hand in both of her side’s goals for the term; hitting Courtney Gum lace out on the lead, and later belting a stoppage clearance towards the goalsquare to be pounced on by Marijana Rajcic and give the home side ascendancy.

Both sides’ maturity shone through as the tackling pressure and physicality of the contest lifted in response to the tightness of the scoreboard, and it showed with only two goals notched for the entire second and third quarters. They both belonged to the GIANTS, who put their noses in front as Jodie Hicks finished well on the end of a slick chain inside forward 50, and extended their lead via a 50-metre penalty to Brittany Tully in the following term. The GIANTS’ ball movement looked to have lifted, remaining composed in the face of some fierce pressure while inflicting some serious tackling of their own.

The last term began much like the first, with Staunton again earning a free kick and for the second time, wobbling home a six-pointer to lift her side. Holding a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, GWS ensured it would stay on top with much of the same lockdown defensive work. Adelaide’s last roll of the dice came 90 seconds from the final siren as Gum marked strongly close to goal and duly converted the set shot. But the Crows’ attempts to blow down the door came up short as the GIANTS’ defence proved just that, helping them claim a second-consecutive victory.

Alyce Parker was instrumental in GWS’ success, collecting a mammoth 30 disposals and seven marks against some seasoned opponents in midfield. Rebecca Beeson and Tait Mackrill each had 20 touches, while Staunton (12 disposals, six marks, 2.1) and Elle Bennetts (16 disposals, three marks) were terrific as the GIANTS’s bookends. For Adelaide, the midfield combination of Anne Hatchard and Ebony Marinoff again proved potent as the pair combined for 41 disposals and 17 tackles, with the pacy Justine Mules also pitching in on the tackling front. The supporting hand of Erin Phillips was also impactful early on, as the champion finished with 13 disposals and three tackles in just her second game for the season.

Sitting pretty at 4-2 and in second place among the Conference A contenders, the GIANTS are now primed for finals with games against the lower-ranked Geelong and Western Bulldogs to come. On the other hand, Adelaide faces a fight to stay alive in season 2020, sixth in Conference A but with fixtures awaiting against expansion sides, Gold Coast and Richmond.

GOALS:

Adelaide: C. Gum 2, M. Rajcic
GWS: C. Staunton 2, J. Hicks, B. Tully

ADC BEST:

Adelaide: A. Hatchard, E. Marinoff, E. Phillips, C. Gum, C. Biddell, A. Foley
GWS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, T. Mackrill, B. Tully, E. Bennetts, C. Staunton

WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.1 | 0.2 | 1.2 (8)
GOLD COAST SUNS 1.2 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

Taylah Melki

It was a convincing performance by the Suns who had control from the get go holding the Eagles goalless for the first three quarters before finally slotting one in the last term. West Coast simply could not generate any forward ball movement mainly in part to Gold Coasts efficiency with ball in hand and ability to shut down options across the ground. Despite having more inside 50s (29-26) the Eagles could not buy a goal showing just how strong the Suns defence was, consistently standing up under pressure and working the ball out of danger areas. Gold Coast pretty much cruised to victory never really challenged on the scoreboard by their opposition and while they lost the possession count and marks tally the Suns somehow managed to assert themselves on the game and claim a 25-point win.

The inaugural captain once again led from the front bullying her way through the packs and applying a wealth of physical pressure with six tackles. Dana Hooker was head and shoulders above the rest racking up 31 touches with 22 of them kicks showcasing her ability to find a target and hit them lace out while also taking six marks in what was a complete performance from the highly talented mid. Imahra Cameron also plied her trade across the ground with 20 disposals while Belinda Smith was constantly involved in the contest with her 18 possessions, three tackles and four marks. Although Hayley Bullas did not win a heap of the footy racking up 10 touches for the game she was the sole goalscorer for the Eagles proving her influence. The reliable Kellie Gibson was up to her usual tricks with 18 disposals while Emma Swanson was not far behind with 16 and five tackles. Despite not being able to post a competitive total the Eagles have plenty of stars that have shown with more time to gel as a side could become a damaging side.

It is fair to say that the ball was relatively evenly shared across the Gold Coast side with 12 players reaching double figures however it was Kate Surman that racked up the most touches of anyone in her squad with 20. Draftee Dee Heslop highlighted her ferocity at the contest multiple times throughout the match with a game high 10 tackles. Fellow youngster Serene Watson also made a lasting impression on the Eagles racking up the touches across the ground with 15 while Jacqui Yorston also inserted herself on the match with nine tackles and 12 disposals. Jamie Stanton, Hannah Dunn and Lauren Aherns managed 16 possessions apiece with the trio creating plenty of excitement with their clever ball use. But when it came to goal kickers, Kalinda Howarth proved to be the go to girl slotting an impressive four goals with two of them coming in the third quarter. Jordann Hickey rounded out the other scorer for the day nailing a major during the second term to help set up the Gold Coast win.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 4, J. Hickey
West Coast: H. Bullas

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Surman, K. Howarth, S. Watson, J. Yorston, J. Stanton
West Coast: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, I. Cameron, B. Smith, K. Gibson

2020 AFLW Preview: Round 6 – Dees and Blues face off in conference-defining clash

ROUND 6 of AFL Women’s 2020 begins the race to finals with only two rounds to follow and still plenty of changes that could take place on both conference ladders. A few key wins are up for grabs with Richmond still hoping for an inaugural win while North Melbourne and Fremantle will both want to keep top spot on their respective leaderboards. Meanwhile, Melbourne and Carlton will battle it out in what looks like the match of the round.

Geelong v. North Melbourne
Friday 13 March, 7:10pm
GMHBA Stadium

Taylah Melki

The Cats host North Melbourne under lights on Friday night. Geelong currently sit fourth on the ladder while the Kangaroos have first spot locked up. North are on a four game winning streak and will be hoping to extend their run of hot form against a trying Geelong side who have won their past two games.

Although Geelong do not have a host of big name recruits, it is their brigade of young guns that is the most damaging aspect of their side. In her first uninterrupted season, Nina Morrison has enjoyed her time out on the park with her natural ball winning ability, game sense and dynamism on full display. Fellow second year player Olivia Purcell will also be hoping to continue her dominant form in the hotly contested match while the bull-like Richelle Cranston has impressed so far this season with her dash across the ground. Renee Garing has been another consistent performer for the Cats while Aasta O’Connor will once again be hoping to show her aerial strength with her marking ability. A livewire up forward, Phoebe McWilliams will be another to keep an eye on given her ability to bob up and hit the scoreboard while Anna Teague will be hoping to add to their goalkicking tally.

North Melbourne have gone from strength to strength so far this season with Emma Kearney leading the way with her contested ball work. Kearney is in a league of her own, constantly working hard to win the footy at the coalface while also showcasing her impressive defensive efforts laying strong tackles. Jenna Bruton is another key contributor for the Roos with her brute force while the likes of Ash Riddell and Jasmine Garner have upped their intensity throughout the season to round out a formidable side. Garner not only increased her influence around the footy but her presence in front of goal too, making her a key component to the Roos’ forward line. Kaitlyn Ashmore is coming off a four goal haul, an effort she will be hoping to repeat this round while Sophie Abbatangelo is also handy in front of the big sticks. Ruck Emma King is also key to the North Melbourne outfit. If King can have a dominant impact out of the middle with her clever taps and ruckwork it will put her side in a good position. Although she is still a young developing player, Mia King is another one to watch out for given her ability to find the footy and most importantly use it effectively.

Tip: 

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: M.Keryk 45 M.McDonald 11 M.Hickey – C 18
C: N.Morrison 9 R.Webster 21 S.Van De Heuvel 27
HF: R.Garing 12 P.McWilliams 23 D.Higgins 2
F: R.Cranston 30 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: K.Darby 8 G.Rankin 10 A.McDonald 3 A.Teague 40 C.Blakeway 4

Emerg: N.Garner 22 R.Goring 44

In: J.Ivey, C.Blakeway
Out: R.Goring (Omitted), G.Clarke (Omitted)

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: N.Bresnehan 12 T.Randall 16
HB: S.Wright 17 D.Hardiman 31 A.Gilroy 8
C: J.Grierson 19 E.Kearney – C 9 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 B.Gibson 18 D.Bateman 11
F: E.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 A.Riddell 7 J.Garner 25
I/C: K.Gillespie-Jones 5 J.Trend 21 E.Gavalas 22 M.King 23 T.Nestor 24

Emerg: D.Bannister 2 E.Humphries 6

In: None
Out: None

Brisbane v. Collingwood
Saturday, 14 March, 2.10pm 
Hickey Park

Sophie Taylor 

Brisbane lost top spot in Conference A last round so are sure to be back with a vengeance this week when they host Collingwood on Saturday afternoon. While Brisbane have shone for the most part this season, a few blips in the radar have left them wanting and this chance against the Magpies is one they will want to take with both hands. But while the Magpies have had a hard time on the injury front this season, a solid win last week will have left them confident and ready for a tough slog this week when they travel up the east coast.

Brisbane have a host of talent that they aren’t afraid to put out on the field, with forward Jesse Wardlaw up there in the goal count across the competition and a keen eye in front of goal, able to have an impact inside 50 with her clever movement and tenacity going for the ground ball. Wardlaw has booted at least one goal per game this season and was knocked off the goalkicking perch last round so will want to continue her consistency with another bag this week. Emily Bates and Alex Anderson continue to be real threats across the field, averaging 22.6 and 20.8 disposals respectively, and creating a formidable opposition. Meanwhile, the side will rely on the likes of Catherine Svarc and Sophie Conway to continue their tackling ways and maintain possession. Young gun Lily Postlethwaite has had a solid few weeks on the track so will want to replicate that form while Jess Wuetschner booted two goals last round to prove she’s back with a vengeance.

For Collingwood, this is ultimately a make or break game. A win here would see them slot in nicely in the top four of Conference B and set up a good run home, but a loss could see the Magpies miss out on finals contention once more. Jaimee Lambert has continued her impeccable form in recent rounds, leading the way and proving a key cog in attack. Chloe Molloy has an ability to impact wherever she is on the field, creating an exciting contest with her intensity and clean hands. Meanwhile, Sharni Layton leads the hitout tally for the season so far and has had a breakout season in the ruck, with her strength, height and ability to get first to the footy making her a tough opponent to come across. Layton has been named across half back in the absence of Ash Brazill to injury, so will work with the likes of Stacey Livingstone to hold down the fort in defence. Britt Bonnici and Bri Davey have continued their consistent form, backing up Molloy and Lambert in their efforts.

Tip: Brisbane by 14 points.

BRISBANE

B: S.Webb 4 S.Campbell 20
HB: C.Svarc 25 K.Lutkins 13 E.Zielke – C 8
C: R.Lugg 11 A.Anderson 18 S.Conway 12
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Wardlaw 30 J.Wuetschner 23
F: D.Davidson 14 I.Dawes 17
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 B.Koenen 3 E.Bates 1
I/C: N.Grider 10 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6 M.Moloney 28 L.Bellinger 26

Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 S.Priest 19

In: L.Bellinger
Out: G.Bodey (Injured)

COLLINGWOOD

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

Emerg: K.Stratton 41 S.Dargan 46

In: None
Out: None

St Kilda v. Richmond
Saturday, 14 March, 5.10pm AEDT
RSEA Park

Sophie Taylor

This match pits two lower ranked sides against each other, with both St Kilda and Richmond sitting at the bottom of their respective conferences. While St Kilda have at least gotten a win on the board, this match is a real opportunity for Richmond to get an inaugural victory before the season is up. Both teams omitted a plethora of names heading into this match, leaving both sides with fresh bodies out on the field in hope of getting a win on the board.

St Kilda are sure to put up a big fight against the ailing Tigers, with some solid form throughout the season despite not necessarily getting the wins. The side has continued to compete throughout the season, going close but no cigar with difficulty putting goals on the board a real issue. Caitlin Greiser will want to continue her solid form which sees her as the leading goalkicker for the Saints with seven majors for the season. Her ability to use her body to find the footy and follow up going for the ground ball is what makes her a real excitement machine for the side, and having booted two goals on three occasions this season, expect her to go one better this week. Georgia Patrikios and Olivia Vesely have been real ball magnets for the side throughout the season while Tilly Lucas-Rodd has been a machine off the half back with 36 intercept possessions and Nat Exon is averaging 6.2 tackles per game, applying solid pressure.

The Tigers will miss Katie Brennan again this week with the captain sidelined once more with concussion, making this a tough battle for Richmond as they continue to fight for their first win of the season. While the side has struggled to stop goals this season, they have also had a tough time putting goals on the board which is the real catch, unable to reduce the margin and ultimately putting in all the effort downfield but getting no return. Monique Conti has been a shining light throughout the season with the 20-year-old proving a constant threat while Sabrina Frederick has been left wanting forward, not having the desired impact but ultimately not getting the footy much inside 50. Kodi Jacques and Phoebe Monahan have continued to ply their trade and apply pressure while the loss of Lauren Tesoriero to precautionary coronavirus isolation is a frustrating blow to an already struggling side.

Tip: St Kilda by 29 points.

ST KILDA

B: T.Luke 22 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 A.Brown 2 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: N.Exon 15 R.Dillon 25 M.McDonald 1
HF: D.Guttridge 5 J.Sedunary 10 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 O.Vesely 23
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 N.Xenos 27 C.Phillips 35
I/C: C.Whitfort 4 P.Kelly 16 G.Patrikios 21 A.Drennan 8 I.Shannon 11

Emerg: E.Mackie 3 K.O’Neill 20

In: T.Luke, J.Sedunary, C.Whitfort
Out: K.O’Neill (Omitted), E.Mackie (Omitted), S.Johnson (Omitted)

RICHMOND

B: A.Makur Chuot 34 G.Seymour 28
HB: H.Whitford 20 I.Ross 21 P.Monahan 2
C: C.Bernardi – C 6 S.Molan 1 K.Dempsey 19
HF: M.Brancatisano 5 S.Frederick 14 R.Miller 15
F: C.Wakefield 8 T.Stahl 24
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 G.Campbell 43
I/C: C.Fitzgerald 26 K.Jacques 10 H.Burchell 9 N.Butler 22 A.Woodward 13

Emerg: L.Bailey 12 E.Wood 17

In: I.Ross, C.Wakefield, C.Fitzgerald, N.Butler, A.Woodward
Out: L.Bailey (Omitted), E.Wood (Omitted), L.McClelland (Suspension), L.Tesoriero (Illness), S.Sansonetti (Rested)

Melbourne v Carlton
Saturday, 14 March, 7.40pm AEST
TIO Traeger Park

Sophie Taylor

Melbourne and Carlton head into Round 6 unchanged from last round, with both sides having put impressive wins on the board last week and only separated by percentage heading into the run home. Likely to be the best match of the round, the battle between the Dees and Blues is set to be a close one with both sides boasting a number of key players across the field.

Karen Paxman has been a ball magnet for the Dees in 2020, making her mark with clean hands, good run and carry and an ability to hit targets with ease, while the defensive pressure of Libby Birch, Daisy Pearce and Harriet Cordner down back has been a real task to be reckoned with, with the work off the half back relieving plenty of pressure close to goal. But while the Dees have a smattering of key players in the mix, they had a rough start last week against West Coast and they just can’t afford that this week against the Blues. Eden Zanker has had a breakout season for the Demons in the ruck and heading forward, booting four goals and ultimately a solid threat wherever she is on the field with her aerial ability and clean hands – traits she shares with fellow joint-leading goalkicker Kate Hore.

An even spread of talent across Carlton’s lineup is what will ultimately worry the Demons this round, with consistency and an ability to score quickly both real threats to a Melbourne victory. Maddy Prespakis has thus far backed up a stellar first season of footy, averaging 22 touches per game this season and providing a key run down the field for the Blues. Off the half back, Kerryn Harrington and Vaomua Laloifi have applied some solid pressure with the duo working well to crowd the play and bring the footy to ground, enabling Prespakis and fellow young gun Grace Egan to clear the footy. Tayla Harris continues to be a big threat up forward, having booted at least one goal every match this season and a great target up forward.

Tip: Melbourne by five points.

MELBOURNE

B: H.Cordner 21 L.Birch 9
HB: S.Lampard 8 D.Pearce – C 6 S.Goldrick 23
C: C.Sherriff 18 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 A.Newman 16 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 N.McEvoy 17
Foll: E.Zanker 29 K.Paxman 4 M.Gay 3
I/C: J.Parry 19 E.O’Dea 5 S.Perkins 33 B.Tarrant 20 L.Mithen 14

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 G.Colvin 32

In: None
Out: None

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 J.Doonan 26

In: None
Out: None

Western Bulldogs v. Fremantle
Sunday, 15 March, 1.10pm AEDT
VU Whitten Oval

Michael Alvaro

Fremantle’s undefeated record is once again on the line as it travels to Melbourne for a second time this season, taking on the battling Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval. The Dockers stamped their authority as the league’s leading side with an impressive win over Brisbane last time out to take their record to 5-0, and will fancy their chances against a developing Dogs lineup. But in front of an adoring home crowd in Footscray, the young pups will be keen to arrest a four-game losing streak and showcase the promise their list reverberates on paper.

Another member of the class of 2019 is set to debut for the home side, with top 10 pick Nell Morris-Dalton beating out former Northern Knights teammate Britney Gutknecht for the final spot in the Dogs’ lineup to join her Under 18 skipper, Gabby Newton at the top level. Nicole Callinan was the other player in contention to replace the omitted Hannah Scott, but fell just short of returning for her first game since Round 2. Morris-Dalton should add some strength in the air for the Bulldogs inside forward 50, with fellow 2019 draftee Gemma Lagioia swapping defensive duties to lineup at her feet in the pocket. The midfield trio of Ellie Blackburn, Kirsty Lamb, and Aisling McCarthy will take their form into this clash, with their work set to be cut out for them against a strong Fremantle following set.

The Dockers are set to come in with just one change of their own, resting electric draftee Roxy Roux with Mia-Rae Clifford, Sarah Garstone, and Bianca Webb lined up to take the vacant spot. Fremantle will look to stretch the Bulldogs up forward, as is the case most weeks, with the match-up between Gemma Houghton and Isabel Huntington set to catch the eye. The Dockers’ dynamism with Sabreena Duffy – coming off four goals – and Ebony Antonio at ground level makes them hard to stop, and midfield service from Kiara Bowers and Kara Antonio constantly sets the tone for their success.

Expect the Dockers’ weapons from midfield to forward to be too much for the developing Bulldogs, but the travel factor may come into effect later on in the contest, with the Dogs a chance to snatch an unlikely win if they can stay in the contest for long enough.

Tip: Fremantle by 21

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Guest 19 L.Spark 11
HB: E.Brown 9 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 B.Lochland 1
HF: G.Newton 5 K.Rennie 24 K.McLeod 6
F: N.Morris-Dalton 25 G.Lagioia 12
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: K.Herron 31 D.Berry 7 E.Georgostathis 17 D.Marshall 26 H.Munyard 20 B.Gutknecht 18 N.Callinan 10

In: N.Morris-Dalton, B.Gutknecht, N.Callinan
Out: H.Scott (Omitted)

FREMANTLE

B: L.Mascall 14 J.Cuthbertson 29
HB: E.O’Driscoll 3 P.Seth 18 L.Pugh 32
C: K.Antonio – C 15 H.Miller 19 J.Stewart 7
HF: E.Antonio 12 A.Sharp 1 G.O’Sullivan 22
F: G.Houghton 27 S.Duffy 6
Foll: M.Strom 21 K.Bowers 2 K.Grieve 13
I/C: K.Flood 44 A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 L.Rohde 11 S.Garstone 16 B.Webb 26 M.Clifford 4

In: B.Webb, S.Garstone, M.Clifford
Out: R.Roux (Rested)

Adelaide v. Greater Western Sydney
Sunday, 15 March, 3.10pm AEST
Hisense Stadium

Michael Alvaro

Adelaide will be out to make good on a two-game losing run when it hosts GWS at Hisense Stadium on Sunday. The reining premiers have endured an indifferent first half to their flag defence, holding a negative 2-3 record on the back of an injury-hit campaign to date and bearing the brunt of a tricky draw over the last fortnight. On the other hand, the 3-2 GIANTS have taken full advantage of the games they were expected to win – albeit with each one coming over three of the four 2020 expansion teams. The step-up in competition has proven difficult for the Sydneysiders, and Adelaide will provide as tough a test as any team despite its shortcomings this season.

Four inclusions are set to make the Crows side that bit more formidable this week, with dual AFL Women’s best and fairest Erin Phillips headlining the quartet of returnees. The Adelaide champ comes in alongside fellow midfielder Najwa Allen, while Deni Varnhagen and Eloise Jones also crack the extended squad. Coming the other way in terms of omissions will be Madison Newman and ruck Rhiannon Metcalfe, with 2019 draftee Montana McKinnon impressing in the tri-colours on debut last week and retaining her spot. The Crows’ midfield looks to be running smoothly with the combination of Ebony Marinoff and Anne Hatchard winning plenty of ball, so the additional target of Phillips will hopefully aid them in terms of fluency going forward.

A trio of inclusions will be vying for one spot in the GIANTS’ side as Nicola Barr finds herself hamstrung, with Taylah Davies, Georgia Garnett, and Emily Goodsir all up for selection in the 23-player squad. The GIANTS’ wealth of experience will definitely match that of the Crows, with stand-in skipper Jess Dal Pos heading a team which is capable of returning consistent performances. Alyce Parker and Rebecca Beeson make up a dynamic midfield duo in the continued absence of Alicia Eva, with Beeson also set to rotate forward alongside Haneen Zreika. It may be fitting that the injury blows finally benefit Adelaide, and the fortnight of key casualties for GWS will really test its depth, but that experience should see the GIANTS through to a competitive result.

Speaking of depth, Adelaide’s wealth of genuine options to run through the middle of the ground should prove to be a vital factor as it comes into the game as favourite on home turf, with Phillips adding that third prong despite likely playing predominantly forward. The hard-nosed nature of Hatchard and Marinoff should hold up very well against the more athletic pairing of Parker and Beeson, with McKinnon’s job in the ruck crucial against GWS’ Jessica Allan. Count the GIANTS out at your own peril, but the Crows’ hard edge and top-end talent should see them over the line in front of home fans, with a win able to draw the two sides level on points in Conference A.

Tip: Adelaide by 18

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: A.Foley 3 M.Rajcic 32 S.Li 19
C: J.Mules 23 E.Marinoff 10 A.Considine 16
HF: E.Jones 2 E.Phillips – C 13 S.Thompson 14
F: D.Ponter 15 C.Gum 5
Foll: M.McKinnon 21 A.Hatchard 33 N.Gore 7
I/C: N.Campbell 20 N.Allen 8 R.Forth 27 J.Tabb 28 C.Biddell 12 D.Varnhagen 9 C.Gould 1

In: E.Jones, E.Phillips, N.Allen, D.Varnhagen
Out: M.Newman (Omitted), R.Metcalfe (Omitted)

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: P.Randall 21 T.Hetherington 9
HB: L.Steane 20 E.Bennetts 22 A.Lister 14
C: J.Dal Pos – C 7 B.Tully 36 A.Schmidt 11
HF: S.Halvorsen 30 R.Privitelli 19 J.Hicks 5
F: C.Staunton 13 J.Barclay 34
Foll: J.Allan 39 A.Parker 3 R.Beeson 6
I/C: H.Zreika 24 E.McKinnon 23 T.Mackrill 32 L.Stephenson 12 T.Davies 16 E.Goodsir 1 G.Garnett 17

In: E.Goodsir, T.Davies, G.Garnett
Out: N.Barr (Hamstring)

West Coast v. Gold Coast
Sunday, 15 March, 5.10pm AEST
Mineral Resources Park

Michael Alvaro

Two sides coming off losses meet to round out the weekend’s action, with West Coast set to host Gold Coast in a battle of 2020 expansion clubs. The Eagles were hauled back down to earth with a thud in Round 5 after picking up their maiden AFL Women’s win the week before, copping a 59-point thumping at the hands of Melbourne. Gold Coast, only half a game to the better of its weekend opponent, has suffered consecutive losses for the first time in its short history, but the SUNS’ competitive spirit should put them in good stead for an improved performance in this clash.

The visitors are set to welcome back Hannah Dunn after a week on the sidelines, slotting straight back into the SUNS’ midfield to boost their ball winning stocks. Debutant Sally Riley also comes into the lineup as the second confirmed inclusion, with Tori Groves-Little and Jasmyn Hewett the two unlucky omissions while Maddy Roberts and Taylor Smith find their way onto an extended bench. Gold Coast’s engine room has been a highlight in its inaugural campaign, with Dunn adding to the likes of Jacqui Yorston and the red-hot Jamie Stanton this week, while Leah Kaslar and Lauren Aherns heading up a promising back five which features three 2019 draftees.

West Coast’s changes are a touch more forced, with McKenzie Dowrick and Emily Bonser both ruled out through illness, with Melissa Caulfield attached to the managed tag this week. Chantella Perera, the player to be managed in Round 5, returns to her customary full back role in a boost for the Eagles, with Mhicca Carter the second inclusion for the hosts. On an extended bench, Tarnee Tester, Katherine Orme, and Danika Pisconeri are all chances to sneak their way into the side should any more disruptions arise. While the midfield pairing of Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson has worked admirably for the Eagles, they have struggled to find a consistent spread across the field in 2020. The competition’s least potent attack and second most leaky defence are titles which do not bode well against any side, especially given the SUNS’ strength and competitiveness in the back five.

While both teams can only boast one win in their maiden campaigns, the SUNS have arguably made the bigger inroads and have been able to keep each game competitive on the scoreboard. Their better spread of contributors across the field, and an especially stingy defence in this game should carry them to a second AFL Women’s victory. But on home turf, the Eagles will be sure to put up a better fight than the previous week, though the travel factor may be lessened given West Coast is coming off a game in Melbourne.

Tip: Gold Coast by 13

WEST COAST

B: S.McDonald 35 C.Perera 27
HB: C.Davidson 33 B.Smith 14 C.Guard 4
C: M.Bowen 1 N.Kelly 12 K.Gibson 2
HF: M.Collier 8 G.Kelly 15 I.Cameron 19
F: A.Atkins 9 M.Carter 21
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 E.McGuire 31 H.Bullas 24 K.Orme 32 B.Devlyn 7 D.Pisconeri 11 T.Radan 26

In: C.Perera, M.Carter, T.Tester, K.Orme, D.Pisconeri
Out: M.Caulfield (Managed), M.Dowrick (Illness), E.Bonser (Illness)

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 S.Watson 14
HB: L.Kaslar – C 11 L.Ahrens 7 E.Hampson 21
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 P.Parker 1
HF: K.Surman 26 B.Perry 16 K.Howarth 23
F: T.Smith 13 S.Riley 8
Foll: L.Bella 2 H.Dunn 24 J.Yorston 5
I/C: C.Hammond 29 D.Heslop 25 J.Hickey 4 M.Ritson 12 M.Roberts 10 T.Thorn 15 S.Virgo 22

In: T.Smith, S.Riley, H.Dunn, M.Roberts
Out: T.Groves-Little (Omitted), J.Hewett (Omitted)

ROUND 6 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

Michael Alvaro [27]: North Melbourne, Brisbane, St Kilda, Melbourne, Fremantle, Adelaide, Gold Coast
Taylah Melki [27]: North Melbourne, Collingwood, St Kilda, Carlton, Fremantle, Adelaide, Gold Coast
Sophie Taylor [26]: North Melbourne, Brisbane, St Kilda, Melbourne, Fremantle, GIANTS, Gold Coast
Peter Williams [24]: North Melbourne, Collingwood, St Kilda, Carlton, Fremantle, GIANTS, West Coast

2020 AFL Women’s Round 5 review: Cats go back-to-back as Pies bounce back

IT was a round of blowouts in the AFL Women’s with the closest game a 20-point win in favour of the Cats. North Melbourne and Melbourne once again showed their class with some impressive performances across the weekend while Collingwood got back into the winner’s books after two straight losses. Our match of the round was Fremantle’s win over Brisbane to remain undefeated on top of the table.

GOLD COAST 0.3 | 2.4 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)
GEELONG 1.2 | 1.4 | 4.6 | 5.8 (38)

Taylah Melki

In the first game of the round the Cats flexed their muscles away from home with a hard-fought win over inaugural side Gold Coast. The led ebbed and flowed with Geelong getting the early ascendancy before the Suns hit back in the second with two goals to none to claim the lead. But that is where it ended with the Cats putting their foot down in the second half and doing plenty of damage on the scoreboard while limiting Gold Coast to a mere two points across the final half. It was an inaccurate display from both sides with a combined total of 14 missed shots but somehow Geelong found a way to win making it two on the trot. The Cats won a heap of the footy and most importantly were effective by both foot and hand going at 66 per cent compared to Suns 53 per cent while their efficiency inside the forward 50 was where most of their damage was done with Phoebe McWilliams reaping the rewards of good ball movement and space opening the account for the Cats.

Geelong were led by their young brigade of midfielders with star Nina Morrison racking up the touches with a team-high 22. Her ball winning ability has gone from strength to strength this season and paired with her tackling pressure, amassing seven for the game Morrison showed why she is so crucial to the Cats. She was not alone though, with Olivia Purcell chiming in and doing just as much damage with 21 touches, 14 of those kicks. Richelle Cranston continued her merry way with the talented footballer using her booming kick to full effect and slotting a timely goal in the third quarter to establish a handy lead for her side along with 18 touches. Other key contributors such as Renee Garing and Amy McDonald also had a major influence across the ground with their ability to win the footy at the coalface and dispose of it cleanly. McWilliams led the charge in terms of goals with two for the evening while Georgia Clarke and Anna Teague both managed to apply scoreboard pressure with a major each.

Despite going down by 20-points the Suns had plenty of positives to come out of their clash with 24-year-old Jamie Stanton absolutely dominating. Stanton was involved in everything in what was a stats stuffing performance racking up 23 touches, two marks, five tackles and a goal. While she will be disappointed she did not kick more accurately finishing with 1.2 Stanton was the shining light for the Suns. Jacqui Yorston was the only other goal scorer with the 165cm forward working hard for each of her 16 touches and putting on a tackling clinic to finish with 10 to her name. Kalinda Howarth also had an impact throughout the four quarters with her 18 disposals while Jade Pregelj was the next best when it came to possessions with 16. Captain Leah Kaslar was relatively well held throughout the match kept to 10 disposals but her physical pressure was up and about laying six tackles.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, J. Yorston
Geelong: P. McWilliams 2, R. Cranston, A. Teague, G. Clarke

BESTS:

Gold Coast: J. Stanton, K. Howarth, J. Yorston, L. Kaslar, J. Pregelj
Geelong: N. Morrison, O. Purcell, R. Cranston, P. McWilliams, A. McDonald

NORTH MELBOURNE 2.2 | 5.5 | 7.8 | 9.9 (63)
ADELAIDE 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 (21)

Tom Cheesman

North Melbourne asserted themselves as a premiership contender with a huge 42-point victory over an undermanned Adelaide in Hobart on Saturday. In wet, blustery conditions the Roos dominated the disposals (268-205), clearances (105-87) and marks inside 50 (14-4). It was North’s fourth consecutive win, strengthening their position in the top two of Conference B. For Adelaide, it was their second poor loss in a row after losing the grand final rematch against Carlton last week.

The first quarter was highly congested with both teams applying significant pressure at stoppages and around the ground. This was expected from North who are one of the best tackling sides in the competition, but Adelaide stepped up in the first term to match their intensity.

North took control of the contest in the second quarter, dominating time in possession by simply outworking Adelaide. The Roos looked dangerous every time they went inside 50 and Adelaide struggled to transition the ball into their forward half. North kicked three goals to nil in the term as small forwards Kaitlyn Ashmore and Sophie Abbatangelo made a major impact.

Things got even better for North after half time, as Adelaide continued to fumble and make skill errors while North were clean and efficient. The Roos’ pressure proved too much and they kicked the first four goals of the half. Stevie-Lee Thompson kicked two majors in the final five minutes to make the scoreline slightly more appealing for Adelaide fans, but North went home with a comprehensive victory.

Jasmine Garner was best on ground by a long way, simply a class above anyone else. She finished with 24 disposals, four tackles, seven marks and two goals. Ashmore was outstanding up forward with four goals, while midfielders Emma Kearney (26 disposals) and Ellie Gavalas (15 disposals, six tackles) were strong all day. Anne Hatchard was the sole shining light for the Crows with 23 disposals and eight tackles.

North will be confident going into their Friday night blockbuster against the Cats next weekend. Meanwhile, Adelaide will be hoping star Erin Phillips returns from injury next Sunday to help reverse their fortunes in a huge game against GWS.

GOALS:
North Melbourne: K. Ashmore 4, S. Abbatangelo, J. Garner 2, E. King
Adelaide: S. Thompson 2, D. Ponter

ADC BEST:
North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton, E. Gavalas, S. Abbatangelo
Adelaide: A. Hatchard, S. Thompson, E. Marinoff

GWS GIANTS 2.5 | 3.8 | 4.13 | 7.14 (52)
RICHMOND 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 1.5 (11)

Taylah Melki

Another round, another loss for the Tigers with the GIANTS well and truly trouncing their opposition to run out 41 point victors. It was a convincing performance from the home side who announced their dominance from the opening bounce scoring a goal in the first minute of the game thanks to a red-hot Cora Staunton. The GIANTS maintained that high intensity throughout the game and while they suffered from inconsistency in front of the big sticks across the four quarters they did enough to limit Richmond’s opportunities to a mere goal. Unfortunately, the Tigers had no answers for GWS who seemed to combat everything they threw at them using their tackling pressure and quick ball movement to push the ball inside 50. It was a relatively one-sided affair with the GIANTS winning the possession battle 227-158 highlighting just how much of the footy they monopolised especially inside the forward half constantly peppering the goals.

The load was shared across the board for the GIANTS however it was Staunton that led the way in front of goal walking away with a four-goal haul. Staunton was electric inside 50 winning the ball with ease and showcasing her goal nous while also applying pressure laying four tackles. Rebecca Privitelli also continued her recent string of form with another two goals to add to her growing goalkicking tally while the likes of Brittany Tully and Jodie Hicks could have had a big day out but failed to capitalise with two points apiece. Youngster, Alyce Parker lit up the field once again racking up an impressive 24 disposals with an even ratio of handballs to kicks with 13 to 11 along with four tackles. To go with her two points Tully also won her fair share of the footy with 18 touches and Rebecca Beeson made her presence felt across the four quarters with 18 touches and three marks. Elle Bennetts provided plenty of excitement with her 13 disposals while teammate Haneen Zreika led the way with a team-high six tackles.

Up against her old side, fill in captain Christina Bernardi managed to slot her sides only goal for the game and while she only racked up seven touches her second efforts across the ground were impressive. Despite her big frame and clunking five marks Sabrina Frederick struggled in front of goal registering two points while Phoebe Monahan also missed her chance to slot one home. Although she would be disappointed she did not convert Monahan had a standout performance for the Tigers with a team-high 22 disposals. Monique Conti was not far behind collecting 21 touches for her efforts while also throwing her weight around with six tackles and three marks. Both Grace Campbell and Kate Dempsey worked tirelessly to win the footy with 11 and 10 touches respectively but it was not enough to worry their opposition who went about their business.

GOALS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton 4, R. Privitelli 2, S. Halvorsen
Richmond: C. Bernardi

BESTS:

GWS GIANTS: C. Staunton, A. Parker, R. Beeson, E. Bennetts, B. Tully
Richmond: M. Conti, P. Monahan, C. Bernardi, K. Dempsey, S. Frederick

CARLTON 3.0 | 4.1 | 7.2 | 8.2 (50)
ST KILDA  2.0 | 3.0 | 3.2  | 4.5 (29)

Sophie Taylor

CARLTON put in another impressive performance in Round 4 to run home 21-point victors against a lively St Kilda outfit. An even first half kept the Saints well and truly in the race, challenging the Blues in the highly pressurised contest, but it was to no avail with a four goal to one second half seeing the home side confidently dominate in every area of the field.

It was a tight first quarter with St Kilda’s Caitlin Greiser doing what she does best, booting her first of two goals and finding plenty of the footy as she exposed holes in Carlton’s defence. But for every goal the Saints got in the first half, the Blues went one better with Sarah Hosking getting two on the board in quick succession before Rhiannon Watt followed up with her first less than a minute later to create an exciting and close contest. An inaugural goal to Blues’ Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles, one goal) put the icing on the cake for Carlton to lead by a goal at the first change, and while it continued to be a tough slog in the second St Kilda were unable to find that same offensive pressure to get back ahead of the Blues.

After an action-packed first term the second was relatively quiet, with only the one goal apiece – to Greiser and Tayla Harris respectively – while standouts from both sides were becoming clear as consistent performers in Maddy Prespakis (26 disposals, three tackles), Kerryn Harrington (21 touches, eight marks), Olivia Vesely (18 touches, four tackles, three marks) and Georgia Patrikios (18 touches, two tackles) stood up in the tight battle. The third saw Carlton just about run away with the match, piling on the pressure and the points thanks to consistent contesting around the ground and phenomenal tackling pressure from the likes of Katie Loynes and Lucy McEvoy, both of whom didn’t find much of the ball but certainly did their bit to earn ball back with their nine and eight respective tackles.

The final quarter saw two early goals that dried up the majors, with St Kilda’s Kate Shierlaw (12 disposals, three marks, one goals) and Carlton’s Georgia Gee both getting on the end of good movement down the field to apply scoreboard pressure. The Saints kept the ball in their half for much of the quarter and while they looked dangerous at times, were not able to take advantage of their opportunities, booting two behinds and one rushed, which could have pushed the side much closer to victory if kicked straight.

Next round will see both sides take the field on Saturday evening, with St Kilda hosting fellow expansion side Richmond at Moorabbin while Carlton travels to Alice Springs to take on Melbourne for a top two Conference B battle.

GOALS

Carlton: S. Hosking 2, B. Walker, T. Harris, N. Stevens, G. Egan, L. McEvoy, G. Gee.
St Kilda: C. Greiser, K. Shierlaw, R. Watt.

ADC BEST

Carlton: K. Harrington, M. Prespakis, V Laloifi, S.Hosking, G. Egan
St Kilda: G. Patrikios, O. Vesely, K. Shierlaw, N. Exon, R. Dillon

COLLINGWOOD 3.0 | 4.2 | 6.3 | 8.5 (53)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.2 | 2.3 | 3.3 (21)

Peter Williams

Collingwood has bounced back from consecutive losses to post an impressive 32-point win over the Western Bulldogs. The home team playing at Morwell never looked like losing from the outside with a couple of goals on the board within five minutes and then a third late in the opening term. Two of those goals belonged to Chloe Molloy who was thrown forward in the clash as a throw-back to her VFL Women’s days where she claimed the leading goalkicker award prior to being drafted. She constantly looked a threat one-on-one inside 50 and gave her teammates opportunities with the Bulldogs’ defence wary of what she was capable of inside 50. The Magpies led by 24 points at half-time and had kept the visitors scoreless in a great defensive display. The second half was more even with the Magpies marginally shading them with 4.3 to 3.1 in the half, but it was a valiant effort from the young pups to keep pushing throughout. Kirsten McLeod booted two of those goals to get her side going and one was as she was thrown to the ground forcing her to do a neat roll and bounce straight back up. Whilst it was too little, too late, there was plenty to come out of the game for both sides as the Magpies got their finals campaign back on track.

Brianna Davey recorded 30 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and 10 tackles in a big performance through the middle, well shared by one of the competition’s best players this year in Jaimee Lambert (24 touches, eight inside 50s and seven tackles). Sarah Rowe chipped in with two goals and had arguably her best career game with 21 disposals, five marks, four inside 50s, two rebounds and four tackles, working hard across the ground, while Molloy booted 3.2 from 12 disposals, six marks and two inside 50s. Others who impressed for the Black and White were Sarah D’Arcy (11 disposals, three marks, four tackles and two inside 50s) and captain Steph Chiocci (17 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three inside 50s).

For the Western Bulldogs, Ellie Blackburn put in another typical captain’s effort with 17 disposals, two marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and two rebounds, while Bailey Hunt (15 disposals, eight marks, two tackles and three rebounds) and Kirsty Lamb (15 disposals, four marks, five tackles, two inside 50s and a goal) were busy across the board. Isabel Huntington was a rock in defence with 12 disposals, six marks, six rebounds, three tackles, two inside 50s and a long-range set shot which just missed. Meanwhile number one pick from last year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Gabby Newton had nine touches and laid six tackles in another solid performance.

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 3, S. Alexander 2, S. Rowe 2, J. Membrey.
Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod 2, K. Lamb.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Molloy, J. Lambert, B. Davey, S. Rowe, S. D’Arcy, S. Chiocci.
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, B. Hunt, I. Huntington, K. McLeod, G. Newton.

MELBOURNE 2.0 | 3.0 | 8.3 | 10.6 (66)
WEST COAST 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.1 | 1.1 (7)

Peter Williams

In a strange day at Casey Fields, the weather was actually pleasant without icy winds or sweltering heat impacting the spectator experience. From the first bounce it was always going to be a question of how much for Melbourne, with the Dees seemingly going at first gear in the opening half to find their feet, whilst the Eagles – as determined and willing as they were – could not find the connection inside 50. Aside from a second term purple patch where the team from the west gave the almost exclusive home fan-crowd a scare, the Demons were rarely troubled, especially after half-time. When Ashlee Atkins kicked a behind midway through the second term, the Dees’ lead was cut to just five points and despite all their dominance with possession and field position there was a little moment where fans would have thought ‘surely not?’. The fears were soon alleviated a little when Sarah Lampard kicked a late goal to stretch the lead to 11 points by half-time, and completed eliminated by the midway point of the third term, when the lead stretched beyond five goals and the game was done and dusted. No doubt the home team would have received a bake at half-time to try and lift the intensity, especially given the importance of percentage, whilst the away team showed some promising signs, but were overran in the second half, going down by 59 points in the end.

Karen Paxman was one of the few four quarter performers, standing up when a lot of her teammates were a little down, picking up 21 disposals, two marks, six tackles, six inside 50s and three rebounds in a clear best on ground performance. Others who impressed throughout the four quarters were the two Irish players in Niamh McEvoy (14 disposals, five tackles and four inside 50s) and Sinead Goldrick (13 disposals, two inside 50s) whose run was important. The experienced Daisy Pearce was prominent early with 10 touches and four tackles standing tall in crunch moments, whilst Aliesha Newman (13 disposals, five tackles and six inside 50s) was a star along the wing. Eden Zanker also put in a ripper performance with nine disposals, two marks, six tackles, 19 hitouts and two goals, predominantly playing ruck then floating forward to provide a target with her high leaping and sticky hands. It was also a memorable day for Sarah Perkins who did not look out of place, booting the final goal of the day and always presenting with nine disposals, two marks, three tackles and even sold a bit of candy much to the delight of her new fans.

For the Eagles, the midfield duo of Dana Hooker (14 disposals, three marks, 10 tackles and three inside 50s) and Mikayla Bowen (11 disposals, three marks, five tackles and two rebounds) worked hard, whilst Parris Laurie shouldered the ruckload against multiple opponents on her way to 17 hitouts, 10 disposals and five tackles. Emma Swanson (13 disposals, two marks and two tackles) was also solid through midfield, whilst Belinda Smith (12 disposals, four rebounds) and Sophie McDonald (10 disposals, six rebounds) were rocks under pressure in the back 50.

GOALS:

Melbourne: E. Zanker 2, T. Cunningham, C. Emonson, K. Hore, S. Lampard, N. McEvoy, J. Parry, S. Perkins, S. Scott.
West Coast: M. Collier.

ADC BEST:

Melbourne: K. Paxman, A. Newman, E. Zanker, S. Goldrick, N. McEvoy, D. Pearce
West Coast: D. Hooker, M. Bowen, B. Smith, S. McDonald, P. Laurie, A. Atkins

 

 

AFL Women’s Round 3 review: St Kilda makes history with first win

ROUND 3 of the AFL Women’s saw a number of history-making performances, especially St Kilda with the team from Moorabbin claiming their inaugural win while top of the table clashes lived up to the hype. These are the remaining six game reviews after our Match of the Round – selected prior to the weekend – saw Adelaide down Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.

ST KILDA 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 (19)
MELBOURNE 1.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.8 (14)

It was a history-making performance by the Saints claiming their inaugural AFLW win and stunning the Demons in the meantime. It was a low scoring game with both sides struggling to generate any forward momentum but when it came down to it youngster Caitlin Greiser sealed the deal with a booming kick 55 metres out. Despite the wealth of experience and talent across the field the Saints were not overawed competing hard at every contest and using their dash to find space and create forward forays. Inaccuracy plagued Melbourne who had five more scoring shots than their opponents but could simply not convert in front of the big sticks with eight behinds compared to St Kilda’s one. St Kilda showed just what they are capable of, keeping the Dees scoreless in the final term while they inflicted pain on the scoreboard.

The Saints were once again led by their young talent with talented midfielder Georgia Patrikios dominating. Patrikios won plenty of the footy with 15 possessions and most importantly used it in convincing fashion finding targets and putting her body on the line at contests racking up four tackles while the likes of Tarni White and Nicola Xenos plied their trade across the ground. Olivia Vesley proved she was no slouch tracking the ball well both at ground level and in the air with her equal-high 16 touches as the 20-year-old highlighted her class and finesse. Co-captain Tilly Lucas-Rodd was in scintillating form racking up 16 disposals, fighting hard for every touch and showcased her strong hands with three marks to her name. Nat Exon was a tackling machine applying a wealth of strong physical pressure thanks to her seven tackles with teammate Rosie Dillon equalling her on that tally and going to work with 16 touches of her own. But it was Greiser that stole the show with the 21-year-old sensing the moment and landing the knock-out blow to end any hopes of a Melbourne comeback.

It was a tough night for Melbourne who failed to bring their normal intensity and most importantly kicking boots right from the get go. In the opening quarter the Demons had plenty of momentum peppering the goals but struggled to effectively hit the scoreboard with the likes of normal sharp shooters Aliesha Newman and Tegan Cunningham missing out on the goal scoring action. Despite the loss, the trio in Karen Paxman, Elise O’Dea and Daisy Pearce combined to be a formidable force with Paxman taking home the title of most possessions in the game with 26. O’Dea was not far behind with 20 but did not worry the scoreboard in fact the only player to slot one through for six points was Shelley Scott. Both Libby Birch and Maddison Gay also found their fair share of the footy but it was not enough to change the end result.

GOALS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser (2), D. Guttridge.
Melbourne: S. Scott.

BESTS:

St Kilda: C. Greiser, T. Lucas-Rodd, G. Patrikios, O. Vesley,
Melbourne: K. Paxman, E. O’Dea, D. Pearce, S. Scott

GOLD COAST 0.0 | 2.0 | 3.1 | 4.4 (28)
BRISBANE 2.0 | 4.3 | 4.4 | 4.4 (28)

In the first of many Q-Clashes, Gold Coast played host to Brisbane on Saturday with the duel ending in a stalemate with both sides unable to be split at 28 points apiece. Although they snuck out to an early lead, the SUNS showed that they were not about to bow down to their more experienced opponent mustering up a stellar second half performance. The SUNS upped the intensity across the field limiting the Lions to a mere one point after halftime highlighting just how dangerous they can be.

After a slow start, the hosts well and truly built into the game with the likes of Kate Surman and Jaime Stanton controlling and winning a heap of possession. Surman finished the afternoon with 16 touches to her name while Stanton was one behind with 15. Hannah Dunn had a strong outing for the Suns amassing 15 touches of which nine were kicks while her physical pressure was up and about laying a team-high six tackles. When it came to scoreboard pressure there was one main go to girl and that was Kalinda Howarth. The SUNS star clunked just about everything that came her way but most importantly was accurate in front of the big sticks walking away with a bag of three while Brittany Perry rounded out the other scorers for Gold Coast.

Emily Bates once again stood strong for the Lions recording her second consecutive week with 20 or more possessions to her name thanks to a 24-touch disposal game. she was clean with ball in hand able to spot up a target and deliver. Not far behind her was teammate Ally Anderson who displayed her go-get-it attitude with 22 points while both Kate Lutkins and Lauren Arnell used their fire in the belly to win the footy at the coalface. Up forward Sophie Conway provided plenty of attacking prowess slotting an important goal and showcasing her intense defensive pressure with seven tackles. Along with Conway, Rheanne Lugg proved to be a handy target up forward slotting two majors for the Lions to keep them in the hunt. After a blinder last week, Jesse Wardlaw left her mark on the game once again albeit with one major but still provided a strong target.

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 3, B. Perry.
Brisbane: R. Lugg, J. Wardlaw, S. Conway.

BESTS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth, K. Surman, J. Stanton, H. Dunn
Brisbane: E. Bates, K. Lutkins, A. Anderson, S. Conway

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.3 | 2.3 | 4.6 (30)
CARLTON 3.1 | 3.1 | 5.3 | 8.3 (51)

Carlton hit back in serious fashion against the Bulldogs claiming a 21-point victory over the 2018 premiers. The Blues raced out of the gates piling on three goals to one in the opening term and did not look back continuing to extend the margin and make the most of their opportunities in the forward 50. On the other hand the Dogs struggled to combat the offensive pressure of the Blues with the footy camped inside Carlton’s forward 50 for large chunks of time and not allowing the ball to leave the vicinity credit to their tenacity and intensity. It was a complete performance from the girls in navy blue with their physical pressure on full display winning the tackle count 57 to 52 along with disposals 223 to 190.

After some fiery post-match comments following Carlton’s loss to Collingwood, forward Tayla Harris found her groove once again and inflicted some scoreboard pain slotting through a major while also taking a couple of handy marks throughout the game. Although Harris is the normal go to girl in the attacking 50 Georgia Gee elevated her game in the contest against the Dogs bagging three majors to go with her eight disposals. She was a real livewire in attack showcasing her strong goal sense and high footy IQ while Darcy Vescio also bobbed up for a timely goal. Maddy Prespakis continued her merry way collecting 24 touches for her efforts through the midfield along with six tackles showing just how much of a force she is. She was ably assisted by the likes of Grace Egan who managed 15 disposals along with Gabriella Pound while Lucy McEvoy slotted her first AFLW goal.

Although it was not the outcome they would have hoped for the Western Bulldogs still had some strong performances from the likes of captain Ellie Blackburn and Aisling McCarthy. The two proved to be ball magnets throughout the match with Blackburn racking up 20 touches while McCarthy chimed in with 16 of her own. Former Western Jet, Elisabeth Georgostathis slotted her first AFLW goal in the loss with fellow draftee and number one pick, Gabby Newton really showcasing her talent and class with 14 touches and four tackles. The scoring load was relatively well spread across the side with Bonnie Toogood managing a major while Kirsten McLeod and Kirsty Lamb nailed a goal apiece as well but they could not muster up enough shots on goal to really trouble the Blues.

GOALS:

Carlton: G. Gee 3, T. Harris, D. Vescio, L. Brazzale, L. McEvoy, N. Stevens.
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, K. Lamb, K. McLeod, B. Toogood.

BESTS:

Carlton: M. Prespakis, G. Gee, G. Egan, T. Harris,
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, G. Newton, A. McCarthy, K. McLeod

FREMANTLE 3.0 | 3.0 | 5.2 | 5.3 (33)
COLLINGWOOD 1.1 | 3.5 | 4.5 | 4.6 (30)

In a top of the table clash, Fremantle pipped the Pies at the post claiming a narrow three-point victory to all but sow-up prime position on the ladder. In true first versus second fashion the lead ebbed and flowed with Fremantle claiming early ascendancy despite Collingwood owning possession deep inside 50 but failing to convert. The Dockers opened up a two goal lead heading into quarter time before the Pies hit back in the second to get it back to a level playing field and in fact go five points up. Collingwood had the chance to blow the Dockers away in the second piling on two goals and five points but inaccuracy kept Fremantle in the game and ultimately cost the Pies the four points. With pressure building inside the final minutes of the fourth quarter Collingwood seemed to have all the chances in the world with Britt Bonicci gifted two possibilities that went astray.

It was a strong effort by the Pies who well and truly brought their a-game but fell short when it counted. Jaimee Lambert seemed to have the ball on a string in the opening half collecting a staggering 21 possession to half-time before finishing the match with 32 to her name. Lambert was in scintillating form laying eight tackles and nailing a goal while Sarah Rowe upped the ante for the Pies racking up 22 touches. After being sidelined with injury last week Bri Davey made her way back into the squad and showed why she is such a strong force laying six tackles and gathering 18 disposals while cross-coder Ash Brazill continued her merry way across the back half with 17 touches and two marks. Sharni Layton hit the scoreboard once again for the Pies with Aishling Sheridan also showing her class in front of the big sticks with an important major.

Although there was no key standout player for the Dockers it was the even contribution from a host of players that got them over the line. 24-year-old Hayley Miller recorded a team-high 13 touches, 11 of which were kicks while Philipa Seth also plied her trade in her third game for the season with 12 touches. It is hard to go past Kiara Bowers’ performance with her physicality, the focal point of her outing against the Pies with a whopping game high 14 tackles showcasing her hunt and aggression for the footy. Both Ebony and Kara Antonio had quiet games compared to their usual standards but still played their role with Ebony slotting a timely major. Youngster Roxy Roux also continued where she left off with a goal and four tackles.

GOALS:

Fremantle: R. Roux, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, K. Flood, A. Sharp.
Collingwood: A. Sheridan, J. Lambert, S. Layton, J. Membrey.

BESTS:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, H. Miller, P. Seth, R. Roux
Collingwood: J. Lambert, S. Rowe, B. Davey, B. Bonicci, A. Brazill

GWS GIANTS 1.1 | 3.2 | 5.4 | 6.6 (42)
WEST COAST EAGLES 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 2.2 (14)

The Giants well and truly took control of the game from the opening bounce denying the Eagles any chance to generate scoring momentum or get a feel for the footy. GWS kept West Coast scoreless for the opening three quarters highlighting their strong defensive pressure and in turn ability attacking style to get the scoreboard ticking over. It was a tough day for West Coast who simply had no answers for anything the experienced Giants side threw at them, gifting the Eagles their third straight loss.

Rebecca Privitelli had a game to remember, with the former Carlton player well and truly leaving her mark on the game with three majors and first goal in Giants colours. Privitelli showcased her class and goal sense while the reliable Cora Staunton also hit the scoreboard with a goal of her own in her sides win. Rebecca Beeson proved to be a real ball magnet popping up everywhere across the field and dishing off effectively for her 18 touches while in her second season 19-year-old Alyce Parker led the stats column in disposals with 22. New captain, Alicia Eva has gone from strength to strength throughout 2020 and that continued with another complete performance of seven tackles and 14 possessions.

For the Eagles, captain Dana Hooker had an absolute blinder racking up a game-high 23 touches while also showcasing her strength in the air with four marks and an impressive eight tackles highlighting her commitment. Emma Swanson was not far behind with 19 touches using her strong kick to advantage with 15 of her 19 touches coming off her boot. Mikayla Bowen opened up the Eagles account with the first goal in the fourth quarter while livewire Imahara Cameron chimed in moments later to put through her first and her sides second.

GOALS:

GWS Giants: R. Privitelli (3), C. Staunton, J. Barclay, H. Zreika.
West Coast Eagles: I. Cameron, M. Bowen.

BESTS:

GWS Giants: R. Privitelli, A. Eva, A. Parker, R. Beeson
West Coast Eagles: D. Hooker, E. Swanson, M. Bowen

RICHMOND 0.3 | 0.4 | 2.5 | 2.8 (20)
NORTH MELBOURNE 2.0 | 7.2 | 9.3 | 12.4 (76)

North Melbourne completely dismantled the Tigers handing them a whopping 56-point drubbing. There is no denying that Richmond had its chances with more scoring shots in the first quarter but simply could not convert gifting the Kangaroos an early lead, one they continued to build on as the game went on. North looked like a well-oiled machine out on the field hitting up targets with ease and most importantly applying a truckload of pressure to limit the Tigers ability to control the footy and run rampant themselves. The Roos handed Richmond its third straight loss and are staring down the barrel of a winless season if the Tigers do not start to kick into gear.

In a difficult outing, star recruit Monique Conti shone bright with 18 touches and six tackles but missed her opportunity to pile on some scoreboard pain much like captain Katie Brennan who had her fair share of chances to change the tune of the game finishing with 1.2. Brennan could have a big day with three shots at goal and only converting one but found plenty of the footy recording 14 disposals just behind Conti. Both Kodi Jacques and Phoebe Monahan plied their trade recording 12 touches and two tackles apiece in what was a solid performance. Forward Sabrina Frederick had her moments of magic securing a much needed goal and collecting seven touches but will be hoping to increase her volume in the coming rounds.

It was a different tale for the Roos who had a plethora of star players step up to the plate and dominate none bigger than Emma Kearney who found herself doing a wealth of damage on the scoreboard with three majors. Add on her 12 touches and three tackles and Kearney had a strong showing in the blue and white while Ash Riddell claimed top spot in the possessions column with 21 while Jenna Bruton was hot on her heels with 16 of her own. Kearney was not the only one to have a day out in front of goal with Kaitlyn Ashmore walking away with a nice bag of three while Daisy Bateman also managed two goals showcasing the diversity they have inside the forward 50.  Jasmine Garner showed her worth once again with a goal and 16 disposals while Kate Gillespie-Jones also made a lasting impact with 13 touches and a major.

GOALS:

Richmond: K. Brennan, S. Traub.
North Melbourne: E. Kearney 3, K. Ashmore 3, A. Green 2, D, Bateman 2, K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner.

BESTS

Richmond: M. Conti, K. Brennan, G. Campbell, P. Monahan, K. Jacques.
North Melbourne: E. Kearney, J. Garner, A. Riddell, K. Ashmore, J. Bruton

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

2020 AFL Women’s team preview: GWS GIANTS

THE Giants were dealt some hefty blows over the off-season with a multitude of big name players departing the club to join expansion clubs with the likes of star Courtney Gum and Christina Bernardi headlining the departures. Captain Amanda Farrugia also announced her shock retirement leaving many onlookers stunned by her decision. But the Giants will back themselves heading into season 2020 with a new look line-up filled with youth. Since their inception the GIANTS have shown glimpses of brilliance, able to string together some handy performances. Despite only winning two games last season GWS finished third in their conference and will be hoping to go one better this year and claim a spot in the top two.

KEY PLAYER:
Alicia Eva (midfielder)

It is hard to deny the impact Eva has across the ground with her on-field leadership and football smarts. The newly appointed captain will have a point to prove and is a real general helping to set up plays and move the ball with ease to create forward forays for her side. She is clean with ball in hand and is not afraid to get down and dirty. Eva is never far from the contest and has good vision, able to sight a player in space and deliver a pass lace out such is her high calibre. She is as versatile as they come, able to fulfil any role given to her and complete it at the highest level possible whether it be down back or in the midfield thanks to her impressive skill-set and footy mind.

RISING STAR:
Georgia Garnett (defender)

Garnett is a potential shining light for the Giants who have been shelled of experience. She is a classy mover and good decision maker but still has plenty to develop with the youngster still perfecting hr craft. She can play up either end credit to her strong hands, lead up at the footy and general footy nous making her a promising prospect for the Giants. Her love to run is evident in her game play willing to take the game on and put on the afterburners.

WATCH FOR:
Alyce Parker (midfield)

After a breakout season in 2019 the 20-year-old will be looking to improve on her form and continue to be a threat in the forward 50 and midfield. With greater exposure to the top echelon of players and an innate ability to find the ball Parker is shaping up to be a key contributor for the Giants in 2020. She can win her own ball and is always involved around the stoppages looking for any chance to extract the footy and send it forward. Parker is clean by hand, often able to spot a teammate and deliver a well-executed handball or kick out of congestion making her a real force to be reckoned with for the Giants.

CONFERENCE OPPONENTS: Adelaide, Brisbane, Geelong, Gold Coast, Kangaroos, Richmond.

FIXTURE:
Round 1: v. Gold Coast
Round 2: @ North Melbourne
Round 3: v. West Coast
Round 4: @ Brisbane
Round 5: v. Richmond
Round 6: @ Adelaide
Round 7: v. Geelong
Round 8: @Bulldogs

The Giants will be forced to travel quite a lot this season with no back-to-back home games but are lucky to avoid the trek across to Western Australia, with the Eagles traveling to New South Wales instead. In Round 6 they face the reigning premiers in Adelaide who will be using their home ground advantage to full effect while also travelling to face the 2018 premiers in Round 8 making it a difficult end to the home and away season for the Giants.

Prediction: 4th/5th in Conference A

It will be a challenging season for the Giants who have landed in a stacked conference with reigning premiers, Adelaide, previous finalists, Brisbane and not to mention North Melbourne. Although the Crows and Lions are down on their stocks they still have plenty of class and know what it takes to win on the big stage. The Kangaroos were favourites to take out the title last year but fell away towards the backend of the season and will be looking to go one better this year. Although the Giants have some key players in Eva, Jessica Dal Pos, Rebecca Beeson and Nicola Barr it will be difficult for them to match the high calibre of the three aforementioned teams. Add into the mix Richmond who have recruited a host of A-listers and 2020 could see the Giants miss the finals once again.