Tag: roxy roux

WAFLW preview – Round 15: Final round takes place

AFTER an interrupted 2020 season, the West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s competition had a relatively unscathed year, with only a round missed and previously a brief lockdown in preseason stopping them from having a complete run at it. Now the teams are suiting up for the final regular season round, with the four finalists decided, but plenty still on the line in terms of pride as well as a mental advantage heading into finals.

The match of the round is two finalists up against each other with second placed Peel Thunder travelling to third placed Claremont in what could be a preview of a finals head-to-head at some point. The Tigers are coming off a one-point loss to Subiaco, whilst the Thunder became the first team to topple Swan Districts this year last weekend. Despite the different form lines from the penultimate round, expect this clash to go down to the wire.

Both Katherine Bennett and Emily Bennett are among those unavailable from the Claremont lineup, as Sophie McDonald and Kate Orme return to provide some extra experience. For the Thunder, Sabreena Duffy is out of the game with Demi Liddle, whilst an extended bench comes in, which includes the likes of Hannah Church and Tajah Griffiths. With plenty of great head-to-heads across the field, it will be fantastic to see just how the match goes down.

Tessa Doumanis and Amy Franklin starred up forward for the Tigers booting two goals each for Claremont’s entire goals haul, and will have to be tightly watched this week. The Thunder defence which includes the likes of Beth Schilling, Ebony Dowson and Cassie Davidson is remarkably hard to score against, and the forward line of Ella Roberts, Kate Bartlett and Kira Phillips is even more potent. Claremont has an equally reliable defence thanks to McDonald, Sarah Garstone and Rachel Ortlepp back there. Through the middle, the head-to-head of Mikayla Western and Sarah Verrier could be huge, with Orme taking on Western Australia’s Under 19s co-captain Jaide Britton on the other wing.

The sole Saturday game sees fourth placed Subiaco and fifth placed East Fremantle do battle, but because Subiaco toppled Claremont last week, the result is effectively a dead rubber in terms of finals calculations. Roxy Roux and Gabby Radojkovich are crucial inclusions for the Sharks, as the Lions are keeping everyone guessing with an extended bench that features Taylisha Brown and Dahna Lee among others. Roux has been named in the centre against Tarnica Golisano which is a massive battle, whilst the Sharks’ forward line of Rosie Walsh, Alex Wiliams, Chloe Reilly, Madeline Ross and Radojkovich is a dangerous one. The Sharks have an incredibly strong midfield in Lara Filocamo, Tiah Toth, Maggie MacLachlan and Golisano in what should make for a fascinating close battle.

The final match of the round features a top-against-bottom clash, with the minor premiers Swan Districts coming off its first loss of the season to Peel Thunder, whilst South Fremantle is yet to taste victory in two seasons. The Swans will be without the likes of Mikayla Hyde, Steph Cain, Mel Hardy, Bianca Webb and Emma Nanut for the clash, with Naomi Baker, Tara Stribley and Nyra Anderson among the young talents coming into the Swans’ outfit. South Fremantle has named an extended bench with Kiara Templeman, Nikita Hart, Nikita Little and Melissa Silcock on it.

The Swans do not have a weakness across the ground and expect the midfield of Jess Cox, Dana East and Brianna Hyde to take control, with Sarah Lakay rucking. A huge battle between Lakay and next year’s draftable talent Lauren Wakfer could be huge around the stoppages, with Wakfer and fellow ruck Mim Strom named up forward with other young talents, Makaela Tuhakaraina and Ashleigh Little. Jaime Henry is fresh off an impressive Under 17s couple of clashes with the State Academy, and joins Emily McGuire and Aimee Ralph in that reliable back five.

Picture credit: WAFL

Leader Britton aims to maximise potential

NOT everyone has the honour of representing their state at an AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships carnival, let alone be named as a captain. For Peel Thunder’s Jaide Britton, that honour was bestowed upon her, sharing the role with Swan Districts’ Brianna Hyde. Unfortunately for Hyde, injury ruled her out of the 2021 championships, which meant Britton took the full reigns on-field leading Western Australia to a big win over the Allies, and competitive efforts against South Australia and Vic Metro.

“I’ve been with the State Academy for a couple of years now and it’s always been the perfect environment to grow and mature as a player,” Britton said. “It’s a real honour to be co-captain with Bri (Hyde) this year. “It’s just been really exciting for me because I feel like this has been a year of growth and being a co-captain has really enabled me to grow as my character as well as my player.”

Britton has not always played Australian rules football, having preferred the rounder ball on a court rather than out in the open fields.

“I used to play basketball and netball,” Britton said. “That was pretty much all that I played until a friend asked me to fill in for her team once. “Then from there I really loved it. “I started playing a bit of local club footy and then from there, is where I started playing for Peel Thunder and here I am now.”

The fact she played on a condensed space in those sports makes it somewhat ironic her favoured position is the wing, a role she has thrived with during her West Australian Football League (WAFL) career with the reigning premiers.

“I’m comfortable on the wing, it’s where I’ve learnt my positioning really well and it’s where I’m comfortable playing, but I don’t mind playing a bit off half-back, being thrown inside, playing wherever I am happy to play as long as I’m out there playing some footy,” Britton said.

“I really liked the physicality and the quick pace because it really suited me and how I liked to play, and I really loved the really big team environment, it was really good fun for me.”

Britton was a key member of the Thunder side that under new coach Steve Markham, rose from wooden spooners in 2019 to premiers in 2020, in one of the most remarkable turnarounds in sport. Like anyone involved in the team over the period, Britton has fond memories of the recent success.

“That was just one of the most surreal feelings,” Britton said. “It was really tough for us to bounce back from being the wooden spooners because it’s really hard to keep playing and stay united as a team when you’re just getting smashed every week. “But I was really happy lots of our older girls stuck with us and it was Steve Markham, real credit to him, he turned our team right around and I think once we started winning a couple of games, that fire really ignited within us and we started working well as a team and then from there it was just onwards and upwards, seeing how much potential we really had.”

Having come through the State Academy program, Britton has witnessed a number of past players and friends go on to reach the top level and provide the inspiration she needs with her football.

“I’ve had lots of people who I really look up to, but at the moment lots of AFL players that have come through the Academy too, Mikki (Mikayla) Hyde, Roxy (Roux), Mikayla Bowen, all those girls, it really inspiring to see them come through the same pathway as us and have such a good success in the leagues now,” Britton said.

As for her own personal game, Britton rates her athleticism and endurance having entered the code as a fairly fit player, whilst she is just building little areas of her game to constantly improve.

“I think my biggest strengths are my speed, endurance and agility,” Britton said. “I think that’s what were my biggest strengths when I started playing footy because I obviously wasn’t very skilled but I think that transferred over from my other sports. I think I’m pretty clean on the ground and in the air.”

“I’m really working on my left foot at the moment, especially at training, just trying to use it whenever I can because it is going to be handy in the games. “I’m really working on my long-distance handballs getting it to my teammates out in space and getting them on the run.”

As for her future goal, Britton understands the competitive nature of getting on and AFL Women’s list and said she would be more than happy to play for any club if need be, but the main focus would be to maximise the potential in her game.

“I think my goal in general is just to reach my potential, see how far I can really go,” Britton said. “Obviously the dream is to be drafted to any club, but if that’s not for me then playing good footy at WAFL I’ll be happy, as long as I’m still playing footy, still healthy and fit, I think that’s just the main goal long-term.”

AFL Women’s finals preview: Melbourne and Collingwood to host qualifiers

NINE huge rounds of AFL Women’s action has culminated in the closest finals race of the league’s history, with the 2021 season proving hugely exciting with more and more developing players making their mark and the entire competition kicking up a notch this year. With a tight finish and the first six-team finals series in the competition’s five-year history, hopes are high with realistically all six clubs in with a chance of taking out the trophy this year. With minor premiers Adelaide Crows and runners-up Brisbane Lions handed a week off credit to finishing within the top two, just two matches will play out on Easter Saturday.

Melbourne vs. Fremantle
Saturday April 3, 1:05pm
Casey Fields

Expect another huge clash between the Demons and Dockers to open the qualifying finals proceedings, with the two sides only just split the last time they met. An explosive first term from the Dees set the tone on enemy territory as the Dockers appeared stunned, struggling to connect up the ground or find the big sticks. But a scrappy second half from the Dees saw Roxy Roux lead the charge as Freo came knocking and booted 4.3 to Melbourne’s 1.0 to trail by just five points, with missed chances and the footy inside 50 on the siren telling the story of a disappointing game for Fremantle.

Realistically, both sides are more than capable of coming home with a win in this match, although the Dees’ first chance for finals footy at home at Casey Fields could be a real gamechanger given their continued dominance on home turf. They also have a 4-1 win record across the past five rounds, with four straight wins – a confidence-boosting 44-point blasting of St Kilda before downing fellow top six sides Adelaide, Freo and Brisbane – to complete the season. Comparatively, Fremantle’s past few weeks have not been much to be too excited about, with losses to Melbourne and North Melbourne, as well as a tight four-point victory over Carlton. However, a huge 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8) victory over West Coast in Round 6 shows just how much the side is capable of, so there should be no discounting the Dockers when they get in the groove.

For the Dees, Daisy Pearce is a definite out for the Dees in a huge blow for the side after the veteran went down in the early stages of Round 9. Karen Paxman and Tyla Hanks have starred for the side this season through the midfield with Lauren Pearce‘s past few rounds proving just what she is capable of and Eden Zanker and Kate Hore always dangerous around the footy. For the Dockers, Kiara Bowers is the one to stop given her ability to impact the play whilst Hayley Miller, Steph Cain and Ebony Antonio have all impressed throughout the season. Gemma Houghton and Roux can spark their side into action in a split second.

Records:
Melbourne:
7-2 (4th)
Fremantle: 6-3 (5th)

Last 5:
Melbourne: 4-1
Fremantle: 2-3

2021 meeting:
Round 8
– Melbourne by 5

Most goals:
Melbourne:
Kate Hore (11)
Fremantle:
Gemma Houghton (14)

Collingwood vs. North Melbourne
Saturday April 3, 3:10pm
Victoria Park

Last time these two sides met, a crunching battle was expected with the results overturned by a fired-up Magpies outfit which rendered North Melbourne goalless for the first time in the side’s short history. The Kangaroos allowed the Magpies to get off to a stellar start, and whilst they limited the scoreboard impact in the second half it was not quite enough with inaccuracy and an inability to shut down the Pies’ plethora of midfield standouts. But expect a very different North side this time around, having learned from their mistakes and lost just one match since then – to fellow top side Brisbane in Round 8 –  while the Magpies narrowly missed out on the minor premiership with a Round 9 loss to Adelaide.

Like the other match, both side have plenty to prove coming into this contest and both are more than capable of flying out of the blocks and producing an epic win. Both sides boast a wealth of scoring prowess and viable options across the field, with star players scattered throughout and more than capable of stepping up in the big moments. Realistically, this match will be won and lost through the midfield, with North’s hardened types needing to serve ball on a silver platter up forward and evade the Magpies’ stellar defence, with the black and white leading the competition for the least points conceded. That being said, an even spread of forward firepower from the Roos could be hard to stop.

For the Pies, the trio of Bri DaveyJaimee Lambert and Britt Bonnici has been key throughout the season, able to all rotate across the ground and create forward forays, whilst Chloe Molloy is one to watch out for inside 50 and Stacey Livingstone is a consistent barricade down back. As for North, the combination of Ash RiddellJas Garner and Emma Kearney never fails to withstand pressure and will be a real match for Collingwood’s mids. Kait Ashmore and Emma King are up there for effectiveness with ball in hand, while the Roos will hope to welcome back Jenna Bruton following a one-match ban for rough conduct.

Records:
Collingwood: 
7-2 (3rd)
North Melbourne: 6-3 (6th)

Last 5:

Collingwood: 3-2
North Melbourne: 4-1

2021 meeting:
Round 4
 – Collingwood by 20

Most goals:
Collingwood: Chloe Molloy (14)
North Melbourne: Jasmine Garner, Daisy Bateman (8)

AFL Women’s draftee watch: Round 9 – Young guns make a statement in final home-and-away round

THE final round of the AFL Women’s home and away season saw youngsters from each team given one last chance to showcase their form whilst a few more will get extra weeks to put their best foot forward during finals footy. We run you through how Generation W’s generation next fared across the latest weekend, focusing on players in every match under 21 years of age selected from the most recent draft crop.

Western Bulldogs vs. Richmond

It took a tough effort from the Bulldogs to overcome the Tigers on Friday night, and it took strong form from a couple of young guns throughout to really stay ahead of the hungry Tiges. for the winning side, Elisabeth Georgostathis was tasked with tagging out Monique Conti and did so impressively, whilst Nell Morris-Dalton booted her first career goal in the opening term in her best AFLW output yet. Gabby NewtonGemma LaGioia and Isabelle Pritchard all managed 10-plus touches, while Jess Fitzgerald could not find the big sticks but managed nine touches and five tackles. For the yellow and black, Sophie Molan and Ellie McKenzie continue to impress, with the later clutching a huge mark over the back of Brooke Lochland in the second which could come into mark of the year contention, while Maddy Brancatisano managed 10 touches and five tackles.

North Melbourne vs. Fremantle

North sewed up a finals berth with their Round 9 one-point victory over the Dockers, with a Daisy Bateman major assisting the Roos to a critical lead with less than 10 on the clock – a goal which ended up being the sealer. A seven-touch and four-mark effort from Bella Eddey saw the 19-year-old put on one of her better performances this season, while Mia King produced another solid effort. Docker Bianca Webb put on her best effort to-date with 12 touches and seven tackles as Mim StromRoxy Roux and Sarah Verrier put on strong performances in a disappointing outing for Fremantle.

Melbourne vs. Brisbane

The Dees clung for dear life onto victory to claim a home final, with crucial back-to-back goals from Alyssa Bannan and Tyla Hanks in the final term to clinch the win. Eliza McNamara may not have had the footy as much as past weeks with 11 touches of the footy but was clean with ball in hand and did not relent, while Brenna Tarrant held onto her spot on the list and did not disappoint off the backline. For the Lions, livewire Courtney Hodder produced a superb running goal to spark her side into action as Isabel Dawes found the footy 11 times to go with five tackles as Indy Tahau also got hands to the footy.

Gold Coast Suns vs. Geelong

Geelong won its first match of the season in style, defeating the Suns by 17 points as young gun Laura Gardiner showcased what she is capable of with 18 disposals and seven tackles as Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Barber both put on promising performances with 13 and 10 disposals respectively. Gold Coast’s Maddison Levi and Lucy Single plied their trade well while Wallis Randell and Dee Heslop were kept relatively quiet in a disappointing end to the Suns’ season.

Adelaide Crows vs. Collingwood

The Crows reigned supreme to win the minor premiership off the back of this victory, with its experienced faces making the mark in this encounter. Nevertheless, the likes of Teah Charlton remained consistent in her ninth straight match for the side, putting a goal on the board from her seven touches and two tackles. For the Pies, Mikala Cann continues to put her best foot forward with an equal-career-high 15 touches again this round while Tarni Brown (11 touches and four tackles) and Joanna Lin (nine) both plied their trade in the loss.

GWS Giants vs. Carlton

The Blues pipped GWS at the post in the two sides’ final match of the season, with Maddy Prespakis dominating once more to close her second impressive season. With 27 touches, Prespakis led the charge as Grace Egan (12 touches, six tackles) and Lucy McEvoy (eight and seven) continued their respective solid strings of form. GIANTS’ Georgia Garnett and Tarni Evans combined for 17 disposals and seven tackles between them.

West Coast vs. St Kilda

It was the young-gun show as the Saints ran down the Eagles to complete the home-and-away season, with Georgia Patrikios and Tyanna Smith driving the side home. Patrikios’ 30-disposal effort was a career-high to lead all comers, as Smith was next in line with 24 while Alice Burke (12 touches) put on her best performance yet, as Jess Matin piled on the offensive pressure with three goals from 11 disposals. Eagles developing talent Mikayla Bowen showcased her footy nous with 22 touches and five tackles, whilst Bella Lewis and Amber Ward both put imposing stats on the board in a great effort from the young stars.

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Roos book finals spot with clutch win over Dockers

NORTH Melbourne has produced a clutch performance to come from behind and defeat Fremantle at Arden Street and secure a 2021 AFL Women’s finals spot. The Roos trailed by five points at the final break, but kicked the only goal of the last quarter to grind out a win, 4.6 (30) to 4.5 (29) over the finals-bound Dockers. The win meant North Melbourne held off seventh placed Carlton to secure the post-season series wrap, and confirm the finalists for this year.

Back at their spiritual home, North Melbourne took just 57 seconds to kick the first goal of the game off the boot of Sophie Abbatangelo and race off to a six-point lead. Despite the early goal, it was a tight armwrestle for the first term, with just an Emma O’Driscoll behind added to the scoreboard, and the final 15 minutes seeing neither team add to their total. North Melbourne led by five points at the first break, and much like the first term, were out to a flyer in the second. This time it took less than 90 seconds to convert their second goal, this time through Daria Bannister off a perfectly timed crumb, and the lead was out to two straight kicks. In eerily similar circumstances, the Dockers again hit back with a score at the three-minute mark, but this time it was through the big sticks off Gemma Houghton running into goal.

Beth Lynch missed a chance 90 seconds later to respond, and it was Gabby O’Sullivan who capitalised via a free kick for push in the back midway through the term to cut the half-time deficit to just one point. It was neck-and-neck at the main break as neither side could really break away. The key for the Dockers was not allowing North Melbourne another early goal in the third term, and trying to grab the momentum themselves. But alas for the visitors, Jasmine Garner was the first one to create a major, in the first four minutes, and the gap widened to eight as the Roos were edging closer to a finals berth.

Fremantle refused to give in though, and created their own chances in the third quarter with Kiara Bowers being her usual self after being allowed to play in the crucial contest, kicking a goal midway through the quarter. That major cut the deficit to just two points, and when Kara Antonio goaled in the dying minutes of the quarter, Fremantle was out to a five-point lead. The Dockers held that advantage heading into three quarter time, and the onus was on the home side to return fire if the Roos wanted to play finals in 2021.

A Roxy Roux behind in the opening minute was a chance gone begging after a massive contested mark for the Dockers as they came out firing, and the lead was a team-high six points. Three consecutive behinds over the next eight minutes had plenty of nervous moments for the home fans, as North Melbourne slowly clawed its way back into the contest. Daisy Bateman became the hero with a goal in the tenth minute of the term, with her major putting her side three points up after being knocked over going for the mark. It would not be completely done and dusted just yet, as Fremantle would throw everything at the Roos in the last eight minutes to try and win the game. Ironically it would be Bateman again up the opposite end who would again play the role of hero, almost handing the ball across the line in the dying moments, waiting to be tackled for pressure, and it was enough to secure the one-point win.

Ash Riddell was unbelievable in the win, racking up 33 disposals, three tackles and seven inside 50s to lead all-comers, while Garner (24 disposals, six marks, three tackles, three inside 50s, two rebound 50s and a goal) and Emma Kearney (24 disposals, two tackles and six inside 50s) were also prolific. Bateman’s clutch efforts late were important in getting her side over the line, while Bannister (11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and a goal) and Emma King (eight disposals, three marks, two tackles and 23 hitouts) were also among the best on the day.

For the Dockers, Bowers was relentless throughout, picking up 19 disposals, two marks, two inside 50s, five rebound 50s and laying seven tackles. Stephanie Cain (14 disposals, six marks, three tackles, four inside 50s and three rebound 50s) and Tiah Haynes (14 disposals, three marks and four tackles) were also impressive, while the experience of O’Sullivan (nine disposals, four marks and a goal) and Kara Antonio (nine disposals, two marks, four tackles and a goal) was vital.

North Melbourne’s win means the Roos will finish sixth, but their opponent is yet to be determined. Collingwood plays Adelaide today, and if the Pies get up, the Roos will remain in Melbourne to face the Demons, whilst if Adelaide get up, the margin will depend on whether or not they head to South Australia, Queensland, or remain in Victoria to face the Magpies in the first week of finals. For the Dockers, they are in a similar boat, with fifth place secured, and as of now will head to South Australia if the Crows lose to the Magpies, but could face the Demons in Melbourne if Adelaide wins against Collingwood.

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.0 | 2.2 | 3.3 | 4.6 (30)
FREMANTLE 0.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo, D. Bannister, J. Garner, D. Bateman.
Fremantle: G. O’Sullivan, G. Houghton, K. Bowers, K. Antonio.

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: A. Riddell, J. Garner, E. Kearney, D. Bateman, E. King
Fremantle: K. Bowers, S. Cain, T. Haynes, G. O’Sullivan, E. Antonio

 

Picture credit: Robert Cianflone / AFL Photos

 

Image credit: Getty Images

DEMONS CLINCH HOME FINAL FROM LIONS’ CLUTCHES

IT was a two-point ball-game that decided the AFL Women’s top five on Saturday afternoon, as Melbourne pipped Brisbane Lions at the post in a huge battle for a home final next week. Whilst the Lions commanded possession and retained control for much of the middle two thirds, the final quarter was all Demons as the red and blue ran home in front of a home crowd, 6.2 (38) to 6.0 (36).

The win was soured by an early injury though, as Dees superstar Daisy Pearce went down with what appeared to be a knee injury within the opening minutes, which saw the side sent into a flurry rotating the roles to suit the loss. Eden Zanker was pushed up through the midfield and had an immediate impact, piling on 12 touches in the first quarter alone as the Lions stayed in touch by a lone goal to be a minor down at the first break. But the second was where the game broke open, with both sides finding the scoreboard with ease and a tantalising contest became apparent. Dakota Davidson was the first to put a goal on the board in the second term before a huge running goal from Courtney Hodder proved the Lions would not back down on the Dees home turf. The Demons bit back with two of their own as Karen Paxman and Shelley Scott pounced on the ground ball, while a second within the term to Davidson proved the two sides had a game on their hands. A goal to Taylor Smith right on the halftime siren saw the Lions head into the second half with a marginal 11-point lead, with players across the field playing their roles and doing it well to create a phenomenal matchup.

The second half began with another tight quarter, as the two sides remained accurate in front of the big sticks with limited opportunity credit to tight defence. Veteran Lauren Arnell got in on the action and piled on another major to extend the lead, before a third Scott goal showed the Dees would not relent, especially with finals on the line. The match really came to blows in the final term though as the red and blue overcame the 11-point margin and turned it into a two-point win, with two straight goals to young guns Alyssa Bannan and Tyla Hanks, popping up at the right time to force the Lions onto the back foot as the physical matchup went to the dying moments, with Greta Bodey afforded a shot on goal after the siren but falling agonisingly short.

The tight matchup was set up by the likes of Zanker and Cathy Svarc, with the opposing duo both relentless in their own way – Zanker with her game-high 25 touches and Svarc with her whopping 21 tackles. Hodder (eight tackles, 10 touches, one goal), Sophie Conway (10 touches, seven tackles) and Ally Anderson (22 touches, six tackles) also provided plenty of hunt for the Lions, as Lily Mithen (23 touches, five marks), Paxman and Kate Hore (both 18 touches) and Lauren Pearce and Maddi Gay (both 17) were well and truly in the match. Hodder and Eliza McNamara were both lively for their respective sides as Scott’s three goals and Davidson’s two paved the way in the huge matchup.

Next week’s finals encounters will be decided by tomorrow’s Round 9 results, with both sides awaiting confirmation given their guaranteed finals entry, although the Dees will be waiting for news on Pearce’s injury.

MELBOURNE 1.1 3.1 4.1 6.2 (38)
BRISBANE 1.0 5.0 6.0 6.0 (36)

GOALS
Melbourne: S. Scott 3, K. Paxman, A. Bannan, T Hanks.
Brisbane: D. Davidson 2, J. Wardlaw, C. Hodder, T. Smith, L. Arnell.

BEST
Melbourne: E. Zanker, S. Scott, L. Mithen, K. Paxman, L. Pearce, K. Hore
Brisbane: C. Svarc, T. Hickie, A. Anderson, O. O’Dwyer, S. Conway, N. Grider

 

Image Credit: Matt Roberts/AFL Photos

GEELONG GETS UP IN BATTLES OF THE WINLESS

GEELONG claimed its first points of season 2021 at the final time of asking, holding off Gold Coast to win by 17 points at Metricon Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The result sees Gold Coast finish the season as wooden spooners, becoming just the second side in AFLW history to go winless through a full campaign. The Cats’ three-goal burst in the first quarter set up their salute, as they held strong thereafter to come away 6.5 (41) to 3.6 (24) victors.

The Cats had many reasons to celebrate on the day; with young ruck Rene Caris booting her first senior goal during the opening term, women’s footballing stalwart Aasta O’Connor sent off to retirement in style, and Rebecca Webster‘s goal on the final siren proving the cherry on top of a memorable day for travelling side. On the other hand, Gold Coast could not scrounge a saving grace in what was a season which earned them a series of unwanted records.

First year midfielder Laura Gardiner finished as the winners’ highest ball winner on 18 disposals, one ahead of Amy McDonald who was one of her side’s revelations during 2021. Veteran forward Richelle Cranston was the game’s sole multiple goalkicker with two, while Webster and Olivia Barber were others to prove impactful while hitting the scoreboard.

For Gold Coast, Alison Drennan capped off a terrific individual campaign to lead all comers with 23 touches, as the reliable Lauren Ahrens also fared well for the second year side. Kalinda Howarth tripled her season goal tally in one go with a couple of majors, arcing back to her roots having become an All Australian forward last year.

The 2021 season ends there for both clubs, with just one win between them and plenty to work on heading into the next campaign. With a bunch of exciting youth scattered across either squad, the green shoots have shown and should give these sets of fans plenty more to cheer about going forward.

GOLD COAST 0.1 | 1.3 | 3.3 | 3.6 (24) 
GEELONG 3.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 | 6.5 (41)

GOALS:

Gold Coast: K. Howarth 2, S. Virgo.
Geelong: R. Cranston 2, O. Barber, R. Caris, P. McWilliams, R. Webster.

DC BEST:

Gold Coast: A. Drennan, K. Howarth, L. Ahrens, M. Levi
Geelong: A. McDonald, L. Gardiner, R. Cranston, R. Webster

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Inaccurate Tigers outlast Eagles for maiden home win

RICHMOND won its first ever match on home soil at Punt Road, holding out in a dreary and tough slog against the West Coast Eagles. With proceedings marred by continuous rain and Eagles injuries, the Tigers held on under pressure for the 5.12 (42) to 5.4 (34) victory.

It was an inaccurate win but a win nonetheless for the Tigers, with the yellow and black faithful treated to a dominant first half from the rapidly improving side. Ellie McKenzieMon Conti and Sarah Hosking were critical through the midfield as Tayla Stahl found her form early, booting two quick goals to pile on the pressure as the Eagles struggled to press forward. But the Tigers’ inaccuracy and missed opportunities allowed West Coast to capitalise in the third, booting three in quick succession as Grace KellyImahra Cameron and Mikayla Bowen all got on the board, with Bowen executing an impressive snap from the boundary to put some hunt into the Eagles.

But whilst the Eagles committed to their second half comeback with Niamh Kelly and Maddy Collier also stepping up to the plate to drive the footy forward, a second Katie Brennan major enabled the Tigers to retain the lead, as a smattering of behinds closed out the match with an eight-point margin and plenty to take out of the tight contest.

For the losing side, Bowen was amongst the best with 21 touches and six marks to go with her two majors, whilst Bella Lewis (18 touches, five tackles), Hayley Bullas (12 touches, six tackles) and Amber Ward (22 disposals) led the charge. For the Tigers, Conti (24 touches), McKenzie (22) and Brennan (two goals, 14 touches) were instrumental, while Stahl (two goals), Christina Bernardi (nine tackles, eight touches, one goal) and Sarah D’Arcy (16 touches, three marks) also proved influential in the side’s third win of the season.

The Tigers will take the field in their final match of the season under Friday night lights against the Western Bulldogs at VU Whitten Oval, whilst the Eagles will finish off their home-and-away season in the final match of the round, hosting St Kilda at Mineral Resources Park on Sunday night.

RICHMOND 2.2 | 3.6 | 4.9 | 5.12 (42)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.2 | 3.3 | 5.4 (34)

GOALS
Richmond: T. Stahl 2, K. Brennan 2, C. Bernardi
West Coast: M. Bowen 2, G. Kelly, I. Cameron, K Pope

BEST
Richmond: M. Conti, E. McKenzie, T. Stahl, K. Brennan, S. D’Arcy
West Coast: M. Bowen, M. Collier, N. Kelly, I. Lewis, K. Gibson

Image credit: Daniel Pockett / Getty Images

 

Image credit: Sarah Reed / Getty Images

High-flying Crows swoop on Dogs

By: Taylah Melki

IT was a blowout over in the South with the Adelaide Crows trouncing the Western Bulldogs 12.6 (78) to 3.4 (22). The one-sided affair really came to the fore in the final term with the Crows piling on four goals to produce a 56-point win. The Bulldogs struggled to generate scoring power throughout the contest booting just three goals for the match and going goalless in the third term, while the Crows had no troubles finding the big sticks.

It did not take long for the Crows to land the first blow with Chloe Sheer making her presence immediately felt on the scoreboard with a major. Her energy trickled through to her teammates as Adelaide moved the ball with tenacity and ease before Erin Phillips slotted her first major of the game moments later. Trying to keep her side afloat Bonnie Toogood stepped up to the plate for the Doggies kicking a major of her own but her efforts were quickly overshadowed by Caitlin Gould.

Playing with confidence the Crows amped up the pressure in the second term forcing turnovers from the Western Bulldogs and capitalising with Gould and Sheer registering their second majors for the game. Applying scoreboard pressure and stifling the Dogs’ ball movement, the home side extended their lead out to as much as 33 points at half time.

Scoring dried up for both sides in the third quarter with only one goal added to the tally coming off the boot of Ash Woodland. Western Bulldogs could not find the big sticks in the third quarter, unable to slot a single goal as the game turned into an arm wrestle of sorts. Despite holding a commanding lead heading into the final change, Adelaide still had plenty to pprove replicating that hot form from earlier in the game and getting down to business in the fourth. Piling on four goals to one in the last stanza the Crows flexed their muscles, spearheaded by Sheer who seemed to have her kicking boots on while Danielle Ponter sent tongues wagging with a stellar mark.

It was a good day at the office for Sheer who managed three goals from her 13 touches while Gould was also electric nailing two majors and picking up 10 touches. Woodland was the other player to score multiple goals with two as five other players managed to add a sole goal to the Crows winning margin. Ebony Marinoff could not be denied with the star midfielder involved in just about everything to top the table with 25 disposals and six marks. Partner in crime, Anne Hatchard was at her usual dominant best recording 19 touches, five marks and six tackles while 21-year-old Eloise Jones left her mark thanks to her 14 touches, four marks and goal. Stevie-Lee Thompson and Phillips managed 14 disposals apiece as Teah Charlton also threw her weight around to walk away with 12 touches and an impressive seven tackles.

Unfortunately it was a tough day at the office for the Dogs but the efforts of Toogood and Brooke Lochland did not go unnoticed. Toogood was the main port of call inside 50 nailing two goals while Lochland racked up the possessions with a team-high 20. Ellie Blackburn was a strong force for the Dogs amassing 19 touches as Eleanor Brown finished with 15 touches and six tackles. Kirsty Lamb chimed in across the ground, not afraid to put her body on the line and tackle hard in what was a solid outing by the 26-year-old who managed 14 touches, a goal and five tackles.

ADELAIDE 3.1 | 7.3 | 8.4 | 12.6 (78)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.2 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS
Adelaide: C. Scheer 3, C. Gould 2, A. Woodland 2, E. Phillips, E. Jones, R. Martin, H. Button, C. Randall
Western Bulldogs: B. Toogood 2, K. Lamb

BEST
Adelaide: C. Scheer, E. Marinoff, A. Hatchard, E. Phillips, A. Woodland, E. Jones
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, B. Lochland, K. Lamb, B. Toogood

 

Image credit: Getty Images

Dees nab finals spot with clutch win over Dockers

By: Sophie Taylor

MELBOURNE has cemented its finals chances with a clutch win over a fast-finishing Fremantle outfit, leading for majority of the contest and holding on in a hugely pressurised final few minutes to run out victors 5.7 (37) to 4.8 (32).

It was an explosive start from the Dees that allowed them to hang on under pressure, with a four goal half time lead whittled down to just five points at the final siren. Two first half goals to Kate Hore set the tone as the Demons commanded ball from the get-go on enemy soil, as Karen Paxman led the way around the ground, with the support across the ground allowing the side to maintain control during the hard fought and physical battle. Tempers fired during the third as Roxy Roux intercepted and kicked truly inside 50, as the likes of Kiara Bowers and Hayley Miller worked their way into the match, setting up a huge final term as the margin closed between the two sides. While Bowers was well held early by a rotation of taggers, proceedings seemed to be getting going on the Dockers’ terms during the final quarter with the Dees soon down a rotation as Sinead Goldrick went down with what appeared to be a hamstring injury, as Roux booted a second and Gemma Houghton put Fremantle in front for the first time with less than 10 minutes on the clock. But Lauren Pearce‘s consistency and ability to take control through the centre continued to pay off, with the Dees benefiting off her vision and taps with Eliza McNamara and Maddi Gay rarely far from the action, with the latter booting the final goal of the game to seal victory and a spot in the top six a week shy of finals.

To the Demons’ credit, it was not just their first half forward pressure that won them the match, but also the side’s ability to maintain pressure during the Dockers’ excellent comeback, controlling proceedings and creating stoppage after stoppage to whittle down the clock and force Fremantle to take risks downfield. Paxman (24 disposals, six marks), McNamara (21 disposals, four tackles, one goal) and Pearce (20 touches, 16 hitouts) were amongst the best for the Dees, while Gay and Hore stepped up during crucial moments and Eden Zanker had some excellent passages under pressure. For the Dockers, Bowers was kept to just 12 touches but still laid 11 tackles, while Miller (13 touches, seven tackles), Tiah Haynes (16 and six) and Roux (two goals, eight touches, five tackles) also showcased some great form.

Both sides head to Victoria for the final round, and while neither require a Round 9 win given they have secured finals positions, both the Dees and Dockers will look to capitalise on their form ahead of the post-season when they come up against fellow finals-bound sides in North Melbourne and Brisbane on Saturday afternoon.

FREMANTLE 0.1 | 0.5 | 2.7 | 4.8 (32)
MELBOURNE 3.2 | 4.5 | 4.7 | 5.7 (37)

GOALS
Fremantle: R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan, G. Houghton
Melbourne: K. Hore 2, D. Pearce, E. McNamara, M. Gay

BEST
Fremantle: R. Roux, H. Miller, E. Antonio, G. O’Sullivan, T. Haynes
Melbourne: L. Pearce, K. Paxman, S. Scott, D. Pearce, M. Gay

AFL Women’s Sunday wrap: Blues keep touch with top six

CARLTON made an emphatic return to the winners list on Sunday, feasting on a winless Geelong side to salute by 33 points at Princes Park. The Blues were in a scoring mood and proved efficient in front of goal, leading at every break and notching their highest total of the season to run out 10.4 (64) to 4.7 (31) victors. The win also sees Carlton keep touch with the top six.

Geelong booted the first goal of the game through Rebecca Webster, but a quick Darcy Vescio double from deep ensured the Blues would claim the lead and never look back. Along with Vescio, Georgia Gee and Serena Gibbs also finished with two goals as the trio accounted for over half of their side’s score.

Reigning league best and fairest Madison Prespakis shook off an early injury concern to lead all comers on the day, finishing with 28 disposals and a goal on her return from suspension. Both sides have some lingering injury issues coming out of the game though, with Carlton’s Mimi Hill (knee) and Geelong’s Millie Brown (hamstring) having their outings cut short.

Prespakis and Vescio were among Carlton’s best, while skipper Kerryn Harrington proved adventurous from half-back and Grace Egan continued her fine form through midfield. Both collected over 20 disposals. Webster proved Geelong’s best afield with 1.2 from her 22 touches, as Amy and Meghan McDonald again played important roles, and Phoebe McWilliams looked lively for her three minor scores.

Both sides face a seven-day turnaround as they again prepare for games on Sunday, with the Blues again hosting at Princes Park as Fremantle rolls into town, while Geelong travels to take on the West Coast Eagles at Mineral Resources Park.

CARLTON 4.0 | 6.1 | 8.3 | 10.4 (64)
GEELONG 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.4 | 4.7 (31)

GOALS:

Carlton: S. Gibbs 2, D. Vescio 2, G. Gee 2, N. Stevens, G. Pound, M. Prespakis, N. Plane
Geelong: R. Webster, O. Barber, R. Cranston, D. Higgins

DC BEST

Carlton: M. Prespakis, D. Vescio, G. Egan, K. Harrington, E. O’Dea, A. McKay
Geelong: 
R. Webster, A. McDonald, M.McDonald, P. McWilliams, J. Crockett-Gills

Image Credit: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Credit: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos

MAGPIES’ SECOND HALF SWOOP SINKS BULLDOGS

COLLINGWOOD kept its perfect record intact and snapped the Western Bulldogs’ win streak in one fell swoop on Sunday, defeating the Dogs by 36 points at Victoria Park. Having only managed seven behinds in the first half, the Pies sunk as many goals thereafter to remain top of the tree with a comprehensive 7.9 (51) to 2.3 (15) triumph.

Young pup Elizabeth Georgostathis booted the sole major in a one-goal first half, before the contest began to open up and Collingwood soared ahead. The Magpies’ superior spread and daring ball use began to pay dividends as the inexperienced Bulldogs fell away under pressure, making for a match befitting of the old ‘game of two halves’ cliche.

Pies fans were treated to some nostalgia as father-daughter selection Tarni Brown launched a terrific goal at Collingwood’s spiritual home, before finishing with 15 disposals and four marks. Bri Davey was excellent with 28 touches and a goal, while Brittany Bonnici was Collingwood’s other key ball winner. Chloe Molloy again proved lively inside 50, booting two goals alongside debutant Abbi Moloney.

Hardened Bulldogs Ellie Blackburn and Kirsty Lamb shouldered a heap of responsibility in the midfield battle, but could not quite spark the rest of their side going forward. Ashleigh Guest was strong in defence with five marks among her 16 touches, while Isabelle Pritchard was afforded some midfield time on debut and spearhead Isabel Huntington was kept goalless for the first time this season.

The ladder leading Magpies take on Brisbane next time out in what should be a blockbuster on the road, while the Western Bulldogs are set for another tough test when they lock horns with North Melbourne in Tasmania.

COLLINGWOOD 0.5 | 0.7 | 4.8 | 7.9 (51)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.2 | 1.3 | 1.3 | 2.3 (15)   

GOALS:

Collingwood: C. Molloy 2, A. Moloney 2, S. Layton, B. Davey, T. Brown
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis, J. Fitzgerald

BEST:

Collingwood: B. Davey, B. Bonnici, C. Molloy, T. Brown, S. Livingstone
Western Bulldogs: E. Blackburn, K. Lamb, A. Guest, B. Lochland, J. Fitzgerald

Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

DOCKERS ROMP RIVALS IN REBOUND WIN

FREMANTLE has rebounded from last week’s loss in style, thumping local rival West Coast by 67 points on Sunday to return to the winners list. A 34-point lead was established by half time and the Dockers never looked back, restricting West Coast to just one goal while piling on the second-highest total in AFLW history to come away 11.9 (75) to 1.2 (8) victors.

Having been held to just one major of their own last time out, the Dockers regained their spark forward of centre to overwhelm the Eagles and claim a second Western Derby win in 2021. It was also the largest margin managed among these two sides’ three meetings, and an especially far cry from the nine-point thriller in Round 2.

Kiara Bowers claimed another Western Derby medal as best afield, collecting 24 disposals as the leader of her team’s dominant midfield. Gemma Houghton rocketed to equal-top of the goalkicking charts with five goals, supported wonderfully by Sabreena Duffy (three goals) and Roxy Roux (two) in a dynamic forward trio. Ebony Antonio was also prominent with 23 touches.

Aisling McCarthy was West Coast’s best, the only Eagle to tick over 20 touches as young gun Bella Lewis and Niamh Kelly (both 17) also contributed solidly in the loss. Grace Kelly booted her side’s sole goal of the game and was another to stand up despite the lop-sided scoreline.

Fremantle’s next assignment is a trip to Victoria to face Carlton at Princes Park, while West Coast will remain in its home state and host Geelong at Mineral Resources Park, perhaps fancying a second win for the season.

FREMANTLE 2.2 | 5.5 | 10.6 | 11.9 (75)
WEST COAST 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 1.2 (8)

GOALS:

Fremantle: G. Houghton 5, S. Duffy 3, R. Roux 2, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: G. Kelly

BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, G. Houghton, E. Antonio, S. Duffy, R. Roux, G. O’Sullivan
West Coast: A. McCarthy, B. Lewis, N. Kelly, G. Kelly, M. Bowen

AFL Women’s Saturday wrap: Dogs salute for four consecutive wins

FIVE consecutive goals to the Western Bulldogs after quarter time has seen them claim a fourth straight win in front of home fans at Whitten Oval. The Dogs proved too clinical up front for GWS GIANTS, with Bonnie Toogood and Isabel Huntington dominating the GIANTS’ defence – particularly in the second term with two goals apiece – to prove too much in Indigenous Round, 7.5 (47) to 3.4 (22).

The first term was an even tussle, with Toogood getting the opening goal seven minutes into the match. A Rebecca Privitelli major five minutes later put the GIANTS in front for the first and only time in the match, with a late behind to Ellie Blackburn levelling the scores at quarter time for both sides to be 1.2 (8).

The second term is where the Dogs lit it up, booting four straight goals to storm to a 24-point lead at half-time. Not conceding a single score, the Bulldogs witnessed their two big key forwards take control, with Huntington snagging two majors, and then it was Toogood’s turn, matching it with two of her own. Despite the GIANTS best efforts, they were unable to match their athleticism and power.

Blackburn was leading her side at half-time with 10 touches alongside Kirsty Lamb, while Alyce Parker was having another standout performance with 11 disposals to the main break. Rebecca Beeson (10 disposals), Naomi Ferres (eight), Alicia Eva (eight) and Cora Staunton (eight) were the other prime ball-winners in the match.

With the game firmly in the Bulldogs’ grip, the home side put through the all-important first major thanks to a brilliant piercing kick from Jess Fitzgerald to Kirsten McLeod. Luckily for the GIANTS, Britt Tully was able to respond, but then an unlucky bounce in the goalsquare off a Taylah Davies intercept at half-forward prevented the GIANTS from nailing back-to-back goals.

Instead it was Huntington who slotted her third major to match Toogood, while a towering mark from Erin McKinnon in the goalsquare helped the visitors maintain some hope heading into the break, cutting the deficit by one back to 23 points. Lamb and Beeson had strong third terms to end the quarter with 17 disposals each with Parker next on 14.

The final term was a tight tussle to start, as the Bulldogs peppered the goals with a couple of behinds. Just when it looked like the game would slowly run to its conclusion, Fitzgerald put in another highlight effort with a couple of bounces running towards inside 50. While the GIANTS manage to spoil a potential mark and clear, it was one highlight in an otherwise tight quarter.

The Western Bulldogs’ win did not come without a cost though, with a number of injuries in the final term, including captain Blackburn, but the more serious one was a knee injury to Deanna Berry who had to be helped from the field. Blackburn returned to the field and almost immediately kicked a goal in the final term, but was rushed through by Tarni Evans on the line.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.2 | 5.2 | 7.2 | 7.5 (47)
GWS GIANTS 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 3.4 (22)

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: B. Toogood 3, I. Huntington 3, K. McLeod
GWS GIANTS: R. Privitelli, B. Tully, E. McKinnon

DC BEST:

Western Bulldogs: I. Huntington, B. Toogood, K. Lamb, E. Blackburn, B. Lochland
GWS GIANTS: A. Parker, R. Beeson, A. Eva, B. Tully, G. Garnett

Image Credit: Will Russell/AFL Photos

LIONS RAID FREMANTLE TO SNAP DOCKERS’ RECORD RUN

Fremantle’s record 11-game winning run has come to an end at the hands of Brisbane, as the Lions raided the Fremantle Oval fortress and took home an 11-point victory. In a low-scoring armwrestle which saw pressure and structure shine, the visitors established themselves as a bonafide premiership contender by restricting Freo to just seven behinds in the first three terms, before holding on in the clutch to win 3.7 (25) to 1.8 (14).

It took a brilliant feat from Brisbane forward Courtney Hodder to open the major scoring, as she bent home a classy checkside finish late in term one to give Brisbane the ascendancy. The disciplined Lions then structured up and absorbed plenty of pressure to deny Fremantle in the second term, before Orla O’Dwyer soccered home in the third to help set up her side’s defining two-goal buffer. It came on the back of some immense Brisbane pressure, which saw no easy outs from its forward 50.

Late drama ensued in the run home as Brisbane’s lead was threatened in the final two minutes. Fremantle had previous opportunities to cut the margin, but it was left to Roxy Roux to get the Dockers back to within a goal as she cooly sunk a set shot with 90 seconds left. Somehow, Fremantle had the opportunity to strike. The game was put to bed shortly after though, as the Lions won an all-important centre clearance and Ally Anderson finished with class to seal her side’s victory.

Brisbane’s Emily Bates led all comers with 26 disposals in a best afield performance, while the likes of Anderson and O’Dwyer proved productive moving forward and both hit the scoreboard. Hodder and Greta Bodey were others in that boat with terrific run and a bit of spark, as Kate Lutkins and Shannon Campbell were among the Lions’ key figures in the defensive setup.

Kiara Bowers continued her outstanding form in purple to record 24 touches and eight tackles in a trying effort, with the experience and class of Kara Antonio also proving important. Laura Pugh and Hayley Miller were others to contribute well for the Dockers in their first loss at Fremantle Oval since 2017.

The newly minted Round 6 fixture sees Brisbane travel again to face GWS at Manuka Oval, while Fremantle will look to reload and rebound with a second Western Derby for the season, taking on West Coast at Optus Stadium.

FREMANTLE 0.2 | 0.7 | 0.7 | 1.8 (14)
BRISBANE 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.7 | 3.7 (25)

GOALS:

Fremantle: R. Roux
Brisbane: C. Hodder, O. O’Dwyer, A. Anderson

DC BEST:

Fremantle: K. Bowers, K. Antonio, L. Pugh, H. Miller, R. Roux
Brisbane: E. Bates, A. Anderson, G. Bodey, K. Lutkins, O. O’Dwyer

Image Credit: Steve Bell/Getty Images via AFL Photos

ROOS SHAKE OFF BLUES TO BOUNCE BACK ONTO WINNERS LIST

North Melbourne returned to the winners list on Saturday night, kicking clear of Carlton to finish 22-point victors at UTAS Stadium. After two-straight losses, the Roos rebounded in style with seven goals to Carlton’s three during the second half, seeing them reclaim the lead and a momentary spot in the top six with the 9.5 (59) to 6.1 (37) result.

North skipped away to a two-goal lead thanks to snaps from Kate Gillespie-Jones and Jasmine Garner within the first three minutes, but the Blues charged back into the game in term two via Darcy Vescio. The dynamic forward booted two goals and assisted another to inspire her side to a half time lead, which would carry on late into the third stanza.

Daisy Bateman slotted a set shot chance to put the Kangaroos back in front, but Daria Bannister‘s one-on-two mark deep inside 50 proved the pivotal moment. The grab may have initially been handled by Blues defender Mua Laloifi, but that mattered little as Bannister converted and gave her side an 11-point lead at the final break.

Despite the best efforts of first year Blue Mimi Hill, who twice cut the margin in the final term, Carlton fell short of North Melbourne’s firepower and could not resist it for long enough. The absence of league best and fairest, Maddy Prespakis through suspension played an inevitable role in the Blues’ fortunes, with the Roos’ midfield strong as ever.

Garner led North’s fab four ball winners with 32 and a goal, as the quartet all managed to gather over 23 disposals. Skipper Emma Kearney, Jenna Bruton, and Ash Riddell were the other members of that group, which has overpowered many an opposition midfield. Bateman and Sophie Abbatangelo both finished on two goals, while Jess Duffin made her long-awaited return to the Roos’ defence.

Nicola Stevens was outstanding for Carlton, leading the way with 19 touches and a goal up forward. The two-goal bursts of Vescio and Hill very nearly proved game-changing, while Jess Hosking was typically reliable and Laloifi helped hold up the defence in another balanced display. Young tall Serena Gibbs had four touches and two marks in her senior debut.

North Melbourne’s fight to establish a spot within the top six continues with a clash against Richmond at Punt Road Oval in Round 6, while Carlton will fancy a bounce-back win of its own when it hosts Geelong at Princes Park next time out.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: S. Abbatangelo 2, D. Bateman 2, K. Gillespie-Jones, J. Garner, D. Bannister, G. Campbell, M. King
Carlton: D. Vescio 2, M. Hill 2, L. Brazzale, N. Stevens

DC BEST:

North Melbourne: J. Garner, E. Kearney, J. Bruton, A. Riddell, S. Abbatangelo
Carlton: N. Stevens, M. Hill, D. Vescio, J. Hosking, M. Laloifi

2021 AFLW Preview: Fremantle Dockers

FREMANTLE snuck up on the competition and put together a near-perfect season, eventually only being stopped by a global pandemic and a controversially premature ruling.

2020 RECAP

Fremantle might have lost a number of players to cross-state expansion side West Coast – led by star Dana Hooker – but showed they had more than the required depth to get the job done. Kiara Bowers went from strength to strength, averaging a ridiculous 14.1 tackles per game and falling one short of her century in a short season, while Hayley Miller, Ebony Antonio, Kara Antonio and Gemma Houghton all provided great support. Young guns, Mim Strom and Roxy Roux were among those who caught the eye in standout debut seasons, while Sabreena Duffy backed up her first season with a strong season.

NEW FACES

A quiet trade period in terms of inclusions showed the side to be relatively settled and ready for a second crack at the title, with the Dockers heading to the AFL Women’s Draft instead. They grabbed two elite young talents in Sarah Verrier and Mikayla Morrison, while also bringing in the likes of Maggie Maclachlan and Tiah Haynes who had shown great form throughout the WAFL Women’s season.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Providing she can have a run of luck, it will be exciting to see what Sarah Verrier can provide at the next level. Unfortunately, the teenager had injury issues that impacted her 2020 season, but she has terrific balance between inside and outside traits, and can play just about anywhere on the field. Long-term, Verrier can settle into an already impressive midfield group, and hold her own with her ball-winning ability and high-level skills.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

It is fairly straightforward to suggest the Dockers can go all the way in 2021, having been in the best position to do so in 2020 before it was called off. The only undefeated side heading into the 2020 finals series, Fremantle was destroying teams like few others, and while no doubt they could have been pushed by some – as shown by Collingwood – they were a tough, united squad.

QUESTION MARK

Could the Dockers repeat history? Any football season is long and tough, and for Fremantle, they did all the work to go undefeated and then be two wins away from a premiership that few externally saw coming. Internally the belief was clearly through the roof, but now the challenge is getting them back to that position again. They should have the hunger which is a great tick, but how will other clubs adapt to their style that saw their success ultimately unrewarded by season’s end?

FINAL WORD

Fremantle should be considered one of, if not the team to beat. Adelaide, North Melbourne and Carlton in particular all have claims to be a title contender, but the Dockers have not lost since 2019, and have such a well-balanced team that has lost little, but gained some superb young talents. Expect the purple army to be in full force this season, because it would be a shock not to see Fremantle at the pointy end of the season.

Opinion: Could the AFL Women’s 2021 season be the most competitive yet?

IT is still just over two months until the first bounce of the 2021 AFL Women’s season, but the excitement is growing. The abrupt end to the 2020 season – with no premiership awarded and indeed no last two weeks of finals – left a mixture of disappointment and wondering of what could have been in many minds of AFL Women’s fans. Once the initial disappointment was over, clubs got to work on either re-signing, trading or heading to the draft in what has set up a more even competition next year.

The top sides will contend again, and whilst Fremantle and North Melbourne showed that they arguably deserved to be in the 2020 decider, they were pushed by opponents at times, and those opponents will be battling for a spot. The young pups at the Western Bulldogs and talented bunch at St Kilda will also improve, and even the cellar dwellers in Richmond and West Coast have made net gains over the off-season. Realistically the only club likely to fall next season – through design in many ways – is Melbourne, as the Dees play the long-term game as we have seen with the Dogs who are now building back up the ladder. Here are the contenders, outside chances and rebuilders:

CONTENDERS:

Fremantle

At the top of the list is the side that went unbeaten in 2020 and have no reason not go go there again. They have a really strong defensive unit, and consistent midfield, as well as an attacking front six that were able to regularly hit the scoreboard. Throw in another year of Roxy Roux and the X-factor of Mikayla Morrison and Sarah Verrier, and despite being one of the teams to beat, the West Australian team remain as one of the best in the competition.

North Melbourne:

Similarly to Fremantle, the main loss over the off-season was Jess Trend, though the Roos just continue to stock up on incredibly talented players. They went to the draft and someone like Bella Eddey will slot into an already potent forward line, which was hard to contain. The Roos were pushed by the Magpies in the elimination final, which will give them extra motivation to improve. It is hard not seeing North Melbourne up there at the pointy end of the season.

Adelaide:

The resurgence of the Crows will be swift. They might not have had the year they wanted, but it was no wonder with their two best players out on long-term injuries and a number of others having delayed preseasons. They have added readymade talents in Teah Charlton, Ashleigh Woodland and Rachelle Martin who will compete for spots from Round 1. It would not be unreasonable to think with all the inclusions and returnees, the Crows are favourites again.

Carlton:

A Grand Final two seasons ago and finals last season, the Blues were the only team to knock off North Melbourne last season. You cannot help but feel they are within touching distance of the premiership cup, and have an abundance of youth to go with their talent. Do not forget they added someone called Elise O’Dea over the off-season, and if that elite talent was not enough, they stocked up on captains in Mimi Hill and Winnie Laing from the NAB League who will stop at nothing for success.

OUTSIDE CHANCES:

Collingwood:

It seemed not that long ago that there was a mass exodus at the Pies and people were wondering what the future held. In 12 months the Pies managed to turn it around and surprise with a good 2020 season to almost stun North Melbourne in the elimination final. The loss of Sarah D’Arcy among others will hurt, but they have picked up some versatile players in the draft, and with Tarni Brown joining her brothers at the Magpies, it will be an exciting time for Magpies fans who need something to cheer for next year.

Western Bulldogs:

This might seem like a surprise, but trust me when this group has enough development, they will go through the roof. The amount of sheer X-factor, upside and versatility in the team that added to its stocks at the draft table again, the Dogs can go deep and if you like an outside chance winning the flag, the Dogs could be that bet. They added Jess Fitzgerald, Sarah Hartwig and Isabelle Pritchard to the ever-growing list of former Vic Metro stars, and they will push for spots early on. Expect them to be the most exciting team running around.

Geelong

On paper the Cats have the cattle to compete against the best sides, and added some unbelievable talents in the AFL Women’s Draft, such as Darcy Moloney and Olivia Barber. They have not lost a great deal over the off-season with Mel Hickey of course retiring with big shoes to fill in the captain’s absence. The Cats have a well-balanced list and honestly there is no reason they should not be an outside chance for the flag. Their young talents might need another year, but feel they have the jump on the other expansion sides thanks to that extra season.

Brisbane:

A little more outside than the others, but have enough talent to contend if they all click. It will be a competitive group wherever the Lions land as they will be placed with Gold Coast Suns and both should be fairly even. Zimmorlei Farquharson is the draftee to watch next season with her high-flying ability and ground level work, but let us not forget that Lily Postlethwaite, Isabel Dawes and co. will have another year of experience and ready to take the Lions back to the decider.

GWS GIANTS

Arguably the hardest team to place, because they are always competitive, but just off the pace of the top teams. With another year into the younger players such as Alyce Parker, and then adding in Tarni Evans amongst the top teenagers coming in, they should do enough to put themselves in a position to compete against anyone. Whether or not they have enough top-end talent to knock off a Fremantle or North Melbourne, it is yet to be seen, but they make it into this group.

ANOTHER YEAR NEEDED:

St Kilda

Without a doubt the Saints will be in the next bracket in 2022, but for 2021, they will be in a similar position to the Dogs last season. They might not get the wins on the board that they deserve all the time, but they have more than enough talent to worry any side on their day. Once their young guns develop – adding the likes of Tyanna Smith, Alice Burke and Renee Saulitis to an already talented list – they will be a scary proposition. They will fast-track their development in the AFL Women’s too.

Gold Coast

The other expansion team from last year that showed promising signs and made finals, the Suns might be somewhat unlucky not to be in the next bracket up, but depending on the pool they land in, and the finals structure, they still might need the extra year. They have the talent to step up again, with Annise Bradfield coming in and Sarah Perkins providing experience through the draft. It would not be a shock to see them push sides for a finals spot, but willing to give them an extra year to do it.

REBUILDERS:

Melbourne

For the first time since the start of the AFL Women’s, the Demons are in full rebuild mode. They were always thereabouts in terms of competing for a flag, but just could not get it done. Going down this route is the right avenue, particularly with the drafts always getting stronger. The Demons have added some great youth through the draft, led by Alyssa Bannan, and might suffer a few more losses next season than past years, but will reap the benefits long-term.

Richmond

The winless Tigers added some much needed experience to help Monique Conti through the midfield over the break, then grabbed Ellie McKenzie with the top pick in the draft. The Tigers opted for an immediate experience boost, and seem to have everything in place to be more competitive in 2021. In saying that, the other teams are still ahead of them, but the Tigers will not be the easy-beats of 2020 with the trio of Sarah‘s in Hosking, D’Arcy and Dargan among the inclusions next year.

West Coast

The team out west will step up next season to be more competitive in 2021, but have not been able to add as much experience as the Tigers. Bella Lewis and Shanae Davison are a couple of young guns who will have an immediate impact if given the chance, and add to the growing list of young talents like Mikayla Bowen. They are still firmly in the rebuilding phase, but the Eagles should show further signs of development in 2021 and will be one to watch in the future.