Tag: rick watts

South Adelaide looks to the future in 2021

SOUTH Adelaide have been the most successful team in the short history of the SANFL Women’s League. After winning the 2018 and 2019 premierships, they made the grand final again in 2020, but fell just short against North Adelaide.

Due to the departures of multiple star players and premiership coach Rick Watts, it will be much tougher for the Panthers to return to the big stage in 2021. However, rather than dwelling on their losses, South Adelaide executives have turned their attention towards the future of the club. This process started in the offseason by hiring new Senior Women’s Coach Andrew Brockhurst.

A former 131-game player for South Adelaide’s SANFL side and 38-game player for Fitzroy, Brockhurst said that although he has a reasonably limited coaching background at senior level, he has been involved with multiple women’s amateur sides in recent seasons.

“I’ve spent the last few years involved in the women’s program,” he said. “I spent a year out at Christies Beach coaching with their senior group, then coached Flagstaff Hill senior women last year in the Southern Football League. Then the role at South Adelaide popped up, which was unexpected, and I felt confident enough to apply.”

Despite some early interruptions due to South Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions (brought on by the Parafield cluster), Brockhurst is pleased with how his first preseason at the helm has gone.

“Preseason has been good, a little bit fragmented like most people’s preseasons, but since the beginning of December our season’s been right on track,” he said. “We usually run a really important six-week program prior to our actual preseason starting [that] helps girls with the mechanics of kicking the football. We lost most of that, so we had to adapt our program into our preseason and the girls actually ended up training an extra night all the way through until the end of January to make sure we fit all that in.”

In addition to the skills initiative, Brockhurst has prioritised improving his side’s speed of ball movement and adjusting his recruits to the frenetic pace of SANFLW football.

“We have a number of new girls in our squad this year, so getting them used to the pace of the game and ensuring that we’re trying to move the ball as quickly as we can have been major focuses for us,” he said. “We’re pretty controlled coming out of our backline generally, so we’re worried that the speed coming out of there is letting us down a bit. We’re just trying to speed that pace up and move the ball quicker into our forward line. We back our forwards being quite strong one-on-one, so the quicker we can get it there the better.”

The Panthers lost Teah Charlton, Indy Tahau and Tahlia Meyer to AFLW clubs over the offseason. Brockhurst knows these players are incredibly talented and will be difficult to replace.

“[Those three] are hard to replace overnight, that takes time,” Brockhurst said. “We certainly have some young girls coming along that will be stars within their own right, but that will take a little bit of time for some of those to settle in.”

Brockhurst was optimistic about his new recruits, especially those coming from other SANFLW clubs.

“We have some good ins to our squad; Soriah Moon coming from Glenelg will fit nicely into our program, and Alannah Rochow from Norwood will also play a major part for us this season,” he said.

Brockhurst also said that his younger players have impressed him over the summer.

Gypsy Schirmer has been a standout throughout preseason for us,” he said. “Lauren Clifton is moving really well and Sarah Wright, who’s coming back from an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) last year, is back into it full swing. We’re looking forward to Sarah finding her way again early on in the season and having another good year for us.”

While regular improvement is the Panthers’ number one focus, Brockhurst said he would not put a ceiling on what his side can achieve this season.

“We will continue to focus mainly on the development of our players,” he said. “Our other aim every single week, as it would be for the every other club, is to win every game that we play in. As for where that ends at the end of season, we will see what happens. But we will be giving 110 per cent to try and compete and be successful in every game we play.”

South Adelaide’s season gets underway on Friday night when they take on the Roosters in a highly-anticipated grand final rematch at Coopers Stadium.

Picture credit: Nick Hook Photography

For more SANFL Women’s news and analysis, follow Tom Cheesman on Twitter.

SANFL Women’s season review: South Adelaide

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

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

2020 IN A NUTSHELL

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

AFL WOMEN’S ALL-STARS GAME REPRESENTATIVES:

Nicole Campbell

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

Lauren Clifford

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

Jess Kirk

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

Brooklyn Kraft

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

Gypsy Schirmer

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

Czenya Cavouras

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

Tahlita Buethke

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

Tahlia Meyer

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

Rayne Rivalland

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

Teah Charlton

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

Indy Tahau

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

OTHERS WHO STOOD OUT:

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

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

Summary

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

Picture: SANFL/Hannah Howard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORTH

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

IN: Hatchard, Howell, Pope

SOUTH

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NORWOOD

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

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

WEST

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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