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2021 VFLW Round 10 preview: Pride on the line in more ways than one for huge round of action

THE Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Pride Round kicks off in a Super Saturday stretching from the mid-morning to a game under lights, with plenty on the line and a number of virtual elimination finals or finals tuneups.

HAWTHORN vs. DAREBIN
Saturday, May 8 @ 10:00am
Box Hill City Oval

Opening the round is a must-win clash for Hawthorn hosting the last placed Darebin Falcons. If the Hawks get up, they are still a chance for finals, but a loss will all but put a line through their chances. For the Falcons, finals is a bit beyond them, but they will be hoping to double their wins tally with a victory here, and finish strongly in the last five rounds. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae made her debut in the brown and gold last week, and another young talent will join her this week with Ashanti Bush cracking through to team up with fellow Darwin Buffettes prospect Dominique Carbone. The AFL Women’s Academy member will start on the bench, whilst Calder Cannons’ Peppa Poultney is back in the team after her side was eliminated from the NAB League Girls competition, and ex-Pioneer Katelyn Hazlett back for her second game after a strong debut. Given the AFL Women’s experience that keeps building at the Hawks, the latest is Geelong Cats’ Phoebe McWilliams who teams up with fellow experienced tall Meg Hutchins in attack. The Hawks have plenty of present and former AFLW talents, so expect they will be too strong in this one.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 8 @ 12:00pm
Whitten Oval

A virtual elimination final takes place at midday on Saturday, with the loser of Western Bulldogs and Carlton effectively putting a line through their finals hopes. For the winner, they live to fight another day, which means there is plenty on the line for the teams. The Western Bulldogs have brought back Jess Fitzgerald to the team, with Kirsten McLeod and Naomi Ferres coming in for their first games of the season. Brisbane Lions’ Beth Pinchin is an interesting inclusion for the Dogs at centre half-back, while Western Jets’ Caitlin Sargent, Nikita Wright and Stephanie Asciak all remain in the side. For the Blues, they have kept fairly consistent wiht their lineups, getting games into Charlotte Hammans, Maddy Guerin and Serena Gibbs. Abbie McKay, Grace Egan and Daisy Walker all return for their second games back at the level, and Natalie Plane for her first, in what is a tough game on the road. The Dogs have that bit more class about them, but it will be whether or not they can win the midfield in what looks like a star-studded group on both sides.

GEELONG vs. ESSENDON
Saturday, May 8 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

Two teams headed for finals will clash in a blockbuster VFLW match at Deakin University. Geelong have been strong down there, and with Stephanie Williams, Sophie Van De Heuvel, Rebecca Webster and Richelle Cranston all in the side, there is enough AFLW talent to lead by experience. Carly Remmos remains but Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner are out of the side after suffering repeated leather poisoning each week. They take on an Essendon side that is building very nicely, bringing in Bendigo Pioneers’ Jemma Finning for her debut this week, switching in for another Pioneer in Elizabeth Snell. The Calder Cannons talents feature all through the emergencies with talls Kasey Lennox and Neve Crowley likely to come in the following week, while Mia-Rae Clifford and Georgia Nanscawen represent AFL Women’s experience. The defence is solid for the Bombers, as Eloise Gardner and Courtney Ugle will provide some run and carry, while Ruby Svarc is a natural ball-winner and will provide good defensive pressure inside 50. At home Geelong has the upper hand, though the Bombers are a chance in this one.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 8 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

In the traditional timeslot on Saturday afternoon, North Melbourne host Collingwood in a must-win clash for the Roos. The Magpies are cruising along nicely at 9-0 and unless the wheels completely fall off, a top two spot – and likely minor premiership beckons. The Magpies have brought in Mikala Cann for her first VFLW game of the season, giving the Pies mostly an AFLW spine including Sophie Alexander, Abbi Moloney and Maddie Shevlin, whilst Jasmine Ferguson has been one of the most reliable defenders in the competition. Add in the dangerous Matilda Zander up forward and the ball-winning Marla Neal in midfield, and the Magpies have plenty of top VFLW talents as well. For North Melbourne, they remain determined to keep a fairly consistent VFLW lineup, with Alexia Hamilton and Reni Hicks a couple of former AFLW players while Sarah Skinner and Meagan Kiely join them in the midfield as in-form talents. Camilla Taylor returns to the level after Tasmania Devils’ exit from the NAB League Girls competition, while Molly Eastman is another Roo in great form. They have had a real mixed bag this season, but are not without a chance the Roos, though the Pies are deservedly favourites for this clash.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Saturday, May 8 @ 2:00pm
ETU Stadium

Southern Saints can go a long way towards securing a finals spot with an upset win over top two side, Port Melbourne at ETU Stadium on Saturday. The Saints hold the precious sixth spot, and still will after this round given their far superior percentage to the chasing pack, but cannot afford to drop too many or the lower teams will pounce. Dandenong Stingrays co-captain Ash Richards and versatile runner Jaide Anthony both make their debuts at VFLW level, but unlike many of their teammates, they will be running out for the opposition side Port Melbourne. They are joined in the side by Maddy Brancatisano who returns to the level for the first time this season, with a host of current and past AFLW talent, including Katherine Smith, Sophie Molan and Emily Harley who stood up last week with four goals. Zoe Hill has been named as an emergency for the Saints, with Jemma Radford retaining her spot in the back pocket for some Dandenong Stingrays flavour, and the AFLW talent led by Alice Burke, Tahlia Meyer and Renee Saulitis. Port Melbourne have more depth in the side and should win, with the Saints needing to make the most of their chances if they are to get up.

WILIAMSTOWN vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 8 @ 7:00pm
Downer Oval

Playing a special Saturday night game under lights for the Pride Round under lights at Downer Oval, Williamstown will be hoping to cause a boilover agains a strong Casey Demons side that is gearing up for finals. The Seagulls need to win the remainder of their games to qualify for finals just about, and have been able to welcome Gold Coast Suns’ Bess Keaney to the lineup. She will lineup in the back pocket, with Georgia Garnett also coming into the defence for her debut in the VFLW following the announcement that Williamstown had formed a link with the GWS GIANTS. Lisa Steane has also been named in the side, with Ella Baxter, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players. Casey Demons have a damaging forward line with Maddison Gay, Alyssa Bannan and Imogen Milford one of the strong forward trios going around. Libby Birch in defence, Eden Zanker and Megan Fitzsimon in midfield, and the newest debutant Grace Matser – a Gippsland Power ruck – will all provide plenty of talent and depth around the ground.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 9

A HEAP of young prospects continue to filter through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. While the NAB League finals commenced, Round 9 saw plenty of young talent scattered across each state league side. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have recently graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 9

Essendon’s thumping win over Carlton saw a quartet of graduates get their hands dirty in the red and black. Bendigo Pioneers midfielder Elizabeth Snell continues to impress, with 12 disposals and nine tackles capping her latest effort. Meanwhile, Alana Barba matched the Country coup for tackles, as Eloise Ashley-Cooper and Tamsin Crook each managed nine touches. For Carlton, Marnie Jarvis also worked hard for seven disposals and seven tackles.

Not only did Port Melbourne return to the winners list this past weekend, but Sophie Locke also returned to the scoresheet with 1.2 from 14 touches against Darebin, in what was her second game back. Recently delisted Richmond forward Emily Harley showed her worth with a bag of four goals, as fellow former AFLW players Cleo Saxon-Jones and Bridie Kennedy both contributed six disposals in the win.

Geelong inflicted the round’s biggest margin of victory with a 75-point drubbing of the Western Bulldogs, who fielded two debutants. Current Western Jets prospects Caitlin Sargent (nine disposals, one goal) and Trinity Skenderis (five disposals) ran out alongside fellow NAB Leaguer Jemima Woods, while mainstay Brooke Hards played a defensive role on Stephanie Williams. For Geelong, Tamara Smith (17 disposals, eight tackles, two goals) and Paige Sheppard (22 disposals, one goal) were among the standouts.

The Casey Demons were also big winners on Saturday, with tall Bridie Winbanks playing an important role. She managed 29 hitouts, while Emma Horne seeing the ball six times throughout. In North’s blue and white, Jayde Hamilton returned to the fold after representing the Allies and GWS Academy, while Ciara Fitzgerald had eight touches and laid two tackles.

A hardened Collingwood side trounced Williamstown in Saturday’s final fixture, but it was the Seagulls who fielded the more NAB League graduates. Among them, tall talent Tahlia Merrett (seven disposals, three tackles, eight hitouts) was named her side’s best, while midfielder Ruby Tripodi also featured in the votes for her eight disposals and 10 tackles.

Sunday’s standalone fixture saw the Southern Saints get past Hawthorn, with the Hawks fielding a debutant in the fighting loss. Gippsland Power product and Vic Country representative Grace McRae was the player in question, managing 11 disposals and five tackles. Chloe O’Malley (11 disposals, five tackles, one goal) was also impressive in the brown and gold, as Jenna Richardson and Maddi Shaw also featured. For the Saints, Gabriella De Angelis, Amelia Peck, and Grace Hodder all turned out once again.

Image Credit: Martin Keep/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 9 wrap: Contenders solidify the top six

EACH of the current top six Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s sides earned wins in Round 9, as the ladder positions grow increasingly rigid. Among the victors, Essendon, Geelong, and Collingwood all flexed their muscle to come away over 50 points to the good, hitting top form with finals time now just over a month away. We take you through the results from all six fixtures, five of which were played on a super Saturday.

>> ONE-STOP SITE: VFLW page 

ESSENDON 2.4 | 6.9 | 6.11 | 10.12 (72)
CARLTON 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.1 | 3.1 (19)

Essendon solidified its standing in the top six with a thumping win over traditional rival, Carlton on Saturday morning, coming away 53-point victors at Windy Hill. A six-goal to two first half meant the Bombers were well on top and while the Blues managed to bring it back to an arm-wrestle in term three, they had few answers for Essendon’s forward firepower and depth across the field.

Skipper Georgia Nanscawen continued her spectacular season with 24 touches and nine tackles to earn full votes for the Bombers, while Federica Frew led a brigade of eight individual goalkickers with three majors. Also among the goalkickers, Brisbane-listed gun Ruby Svarc returned in the red and black with aplomb, as Mia-Rae Clifford looked lively for her 1.3 from 12 touches.

On a tough day for the Blues, senior-listed midfield pair proved a class above the rest in midfield. Abbie McKay notched a game-high 26 disposals and 10 tackles in her first VFLW hitout for the year, supported well by Grace Egan who added 19 touches and a goal. Courtney Jones was another of Carlton’s three goalkickers, staying busy despite her side’s low score.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 3, M. Clifford, K. Heil, R. Svarc, J. Davies, L. Stepnell, T. Crook, N. MacDonald
Carlton: G. Egan, S. Lawrence, C. Jones

BEST:

Essendon: G. Nanscawen, E. Hosking, F. Frew, R. Svarc, J. Davies, S. Nalder
Carlton: A. McKay, C. Jones, P. Trudgeon, C. Hammans, E. Honybun, G. Egan

DAREBIN FALCONS 2.2 | 4.2 | 5.3 | 5.4 (34)
PORT MELBOURNE 2.5 | 3.6 | 6.8 | 8.10 (58)

Port Melbourne bounced back onto the winners list on Saturday morning, but was made to earn it against a plucky Darebin Falcons outfit at Bill Lawry Oval. After the Falcons made better of their chances to draw level at half time, the Borough managed to edge ahead at the last break before kicking away in term four to secure the 24-point away victory. The result keeps Port firmly in second spot.

Richmond-listed youngster Sophie Molan earned full votes for the Borough with an equal-game high 20 disposals, matched by Courteney Bromage. Recently delisted Tigers forward Emily Harley served a reminder of her potential with four goals, as Katherine Smith slotted seamlessly into the Borough side with 17 touches and five tackles.

For the Falcons, Victoria Blackwood was the third player on the day to notch 20 disposals, supported well by those with AFLW experience in Jess Dal Pos and Nicole Callinan, who each managed 18 touches. Alice Caddy was Darebin’s sole multiple goalkicker, booting three to make up over half of her side’s overall score.

GOALS:

Darebin: A. Caddy 3, A. Reibelt, J. Dal Pos
Port Melbourne: E. Harley 4, S. Locke, L. McClelland, N. Borg, S. Molan

BEST:

Darebin: V. Blackwood, K. Hazlett, J. Dal Pos, N. Callinan, A. Lister, A. Caddy
Port Melbourne: S. Molan, E. Harley, C. Bromage, C. Dyett, S. Frederick, M. Kuys

GEELONG 4.1 | 9.5 | 11.5 | 15.9 (99)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 (14)

Geelong fell just short of registering a ton in its comprehensive win over the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, extending the Cats’ win streak to five while ending the Dogs’ two-game run. Having shot out of the blocks with nine goals to nil in a first half romp at Deakin University, the Cats never looked back and rode out the match comfortable 75-point victors.

Four of the Cats’ eight individual goalkickers snared multiples, with Georgia Clarke and Richelle Cranston doing the most damage in a riotous outing. Single goalkicker Annabel Johnson was named Geelong’s best, as Laura Gardiner accumulated a game-high 27 disposals, and Madeline Keryk and Amy McDonald both had 23.

Debutant Caitlin Sargent was among the Bulldogs’ two goalkickers, as the likes of Angelica Gogos and Danielle Marshall (both 22 disposals) led the charge. Youngsters Isabelle Pritchard (17 disposals, eight tackles) and Sarah Hartwig (13 and 12) both got their hands dirty in the loss, with the latter playing just her second VFLW game after an outstanding first senior season.

GOALS:

Geelong: G. Clarke 4, R. Cranston 3, S. Williams 2, T. Smith 2, J. Woollett, D. Moloney, A. Johnson, P. Sheppard
Bulldogs: N. Morris-Dalton, C. Sargent

BEST:

Geelong: A. Johnson, M. Keryk, C. Gunjaca, G. Clarke, A. McDonald, T. Smith
Bulldogs: A. Gogos, D. Marshall, S. Ruedin, S. Hartwig, I. Pritchard, G. Lagioia

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.1 | 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.2 (26)
CASEY DEMONS 3.3 | 7.4 | 10.6 | 10.8 (68)

Casey’s spot in the top six is looking more secure after a 42-point victory over North Melbourne at Arden Street Oval on Saturday afternoon. The Demons boasted a handy half time buffer and continued to apply scoreboard pressure thereafter, with the game all but over at three quarter time as they led by 53 points. North added a couple of consolation goals in term four, but were soundly beaten.

A three-pronged Demon attack of Alyssa Bannan, Imogen Milford, and Gabby Colvin produced six majors as the trio snared two apiece in a show of great firepower. Meanwhile, Eliza West led all comers with 26 disposals and also found the big sticks, as senior-listed players like Libby Birch continue to filter into the state league and make an impact.

Meg Sinclair proved North’s greatest form of response as she booted three of the Roos’ four goals in just her third game for 2021. Reni Hicks dug in to finish with 14 disposals and 10 tackles, while Meagan Kiely managed a team-high 25 touches. Currently a game outside the top six and with stiff competition behind, the Roos will have to dig deep to qualify for finals this season.

GOALS:

North: M. Sinclair 3, B. Lynch
Casey: G. Colvin 2, I. Milford 2, A. Bannan 2, M. Gay, E. West, K. Thompson, M. Harasimiuk

BEST:

North: R. Hicks, M. Sinclair, B. Lynch, S. Wright, A. Runnalls, A. Smith
Casey: E. West, L. Birch, C. Sherriff, A. Kirkwood, M. Macdonald, B. Winbanks

WILLIAMSTOWN 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.1 | 0.2 (2)
COLLINGWOOD 2.2 | 4.2 | 7.2 | 11.3 (69)

Collingwood extended its perfect streak in season 2021 with an ominous 67-point thumping of Williamstown on Saturday afternoon, making it eight wins on the trot. The Magpies kept their opponents goalless throughout, and scoreless for half the game while feasting at the other end with ruthless accuracy. A seven-goal second half truly put the cherry on top of a dominant performance.

The Seagulls had no answer for Abbi Moloney, who snagged four goals from 16 disposals in a best afield display. The young tall was joined by Matilda Zander and Sophie Alexander in the goals as they both booted three and featured among the winners’ votes. Sarah King also battled hard in the ruck for 28 hitouts.

Speaking of the ruck, Eliza McGrath registered a whopping 58 hitouts, as Aimee Whelan was the only Seagull to tick over 20 touches on the day. Tahlia Merrett was named best-on in the losing effort, ahead of the likes of Whelan, and pair Eliza Straford and Ruby Tripodi who combined for 16 disposals and 17 tackles.

GOALS:

Williamstown: Nil
Collingwood: A. Moloney 4, M. Zander 3, S. Alexander 3, A. Newman

BEST:

Williamstown: T. Merrett, A. Whelan, R. Tripodi, E. Straford, A. Dickie, L. Suleiman
Collingwood: A. Moloney, S. Alexander, K. Lee, J. Ferguson, M. Zander, S. King

SOUTHERN SAINTS 3.4 | 3.5 | 4.8 | 6.8 (44)
HAWTHORN 0.2 | 3.2 | 3.3 | 4.8 (32)

The Southern Saints remain clear in sixth spot after fending off a valiant Hawthorn side in Sunday’s standalone fixture, winning by 12 points at Trevor Barker Oval. Having shot to a three-goal lead at the opening break, the Saints were pegged back well in a low-scoring affair and could only edge just over a goal ahead going into the last. They held firm, extending that buffer for their fourth win of the year.

First year midfielder Alice Burke again topped the disposal charts with 21 in the red, white and black, but Alexandra Hynes (10 disposals, 15 hitouts) was named the Saints’ best. Claudia Whitfort registered a goal from her 19 touches, while the likes of Hannah Stuart and Rebecca Neaves also earned votes in the win.

Kristen Hay had arguably her best game of the year with 14 disposals and three marks, seeing her earn plaudits from the Hawthorn staff. Tamara Luke had as many hitouts as disposals (12), while Kristy Stratton again found the goals in her second game for the Hawks, and Grace McRae had a solid debut with 11 touches and five tackles.

GOALS:

Southern: T. Bohanna 2, R. Saulitis, K. Ripari, A. Harris, T. Kearns
Hawthorn: E. Gilder 2, K. Stratton, C. O’Malley

BEST:

Southern: A. Hynes, C. Whitfort, R. Neaves, A. Burke, L. Burke, H. Stuart
Hawthorn: K. Hay, T. Luke, N. Garner, S. Bolding, K. Stratton, E. Gilder

Image Credit: Darrian Traynor/AFL Photos

2021 VFLW Round 9 preview: Youngsters set for debut as AFLW talent filters back

SEVERAL NAB League Girls players make their Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s debuts in Round 9, as more AFL Women’s talents filter back to the state league competition.

ESSENDON vs. CARLTON
Saturday, May 1 @ 11:00am
Windy Hill

In the opening game of the round, Essendon and Carlton clash at Windy Hill in a weekend that will see plenty of opportunities for the rivals to go head-to-head. Ruby Svarc is a crucial in for the Bombers returning after spending her season in Queensland with the Brisbane Lions, and she could well be given the job on Grace Egan who makes her return to state level for the Blues. Searching for a win against a pretty impressive Bombers outfit this season, Carlton has also added Abbie McKay to the side, with the likes of Daisy Walker and Charlotte Hammans steady in the defence. Georgia Nanscawen has overcome the injury that kept her out for the past couple of weeks, whilst Bendigo Pioneers’ Elizabeth Snell is back for another week, with Pioneers teammate Jemma Finning named as an emergency and expected to make a VFLW debut in the coming weeks. The Bombers will be favoured in this clash with the return of Nanscawen and playing at home.

DAREBIN vs. PORT MELBOURNE
Saturday, May 1 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Two teams at opposite ends of the ladder clash at midday, with the one-win Darebin team taking on a Port Melbourne side coming off its first loss to Casey Demons last week. After gaining Jess Dal Pos back from AFL Women’s last week, the Falcons will be keen to give it all they have against a pretty strong Borough outfit. Nicole Callinan has been an important inclusion for Darebin this season, with Stephanie Simpson and Samara David targets up forward. The Borough just have so much depth, and an incredible forward line led by key targets, Sabrina Frederick and Emily Harley, and reliable source of goals from Sophie Locke. Sophie Molan has returned to state level for the visitors, with GWS GIANTS’ Katherine Smith also set to make her debut for Port Melbourne, in a team that has some how found a way to get stronger. Given the inclusions for the Borough, it is hard to see them dropping this game, but it will be a great test for the Falcons.

GEELONG vs. WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday, May 1 @ 1:00pm
Deakin University Waurn Ponds

In the longest road trip of the season for the Western Bulldogs, the back-to-back winners take on an in-form Geelong outfit who remain in contention for a top two spot in this season. Since the AFL Women’s season has concluded, the Western Bulldogs have not mucked around with rotating their elite talents, and whilst Elisabeth Georgostathis rotates out of the side this week, the visitors will welcome back Isabella Grant, Isabelle Pritchard and Annabel Strahan, while Jess Fitzgerald has cheekily been named as an emergency so could well be coming into the side soon. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods comes back into the team after her three-goal debut a fortnight ago, and she will be joined by Caitlin Sargent (four goals in NAB League last week) and Trinity Skenderis. The Cats have kept a strong midfield, but have brought in Amy McDonald, whilst giving Sophie Van de Heuvel a rest. Darcy Moloney and Laura Gardiner still form a dominant group in there, and with Stephanie Williams, Georgia Clarke and the return of Richelle Cranston up forward, the Cats have plenty of firepower. This is a really tight game, and Geelong should be favourites, but the strength of the Bulldogs team means the visitors could cause an upset and make it three wins on the trot.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Arden Street

Casey Demons showed what they are capable of last week by rolling Port Melbourne to inflict the Borough’s first defeat of the season, whilst North Melbourne dominated Carlton, keeping the Blues to just one goal for the game. With the teams coming into good form, on paper it looks to be a great match but the Demons have really stacked their side with AFL Women’s talent, as Libby Birch, Brenna Tarrant and Shelley Heath are named in defence, Eden Zanker joined Maddison Gay in the midfield, and Alyssa Bannan and Casey Sherriff are up forward. The Roos have mostly kept a consistent lineup of players on the cusp of AFLW footy, though Beth Lynch is an important cog in defence. Bella Eddey is getting some extra minutes running around for the VFLW team, whilst Jayde Hamilton returns from the AFLW Under 19 Championships to play alongside sister Alexia. If North Melbourne can get up in this one it will be the Roos’ best scalp of the season, but with Essendon sniffing around Casey’s recently acquired fourth spot, the Demons must hold onto the place by winning this one.

WILLIAMSTOWN vs. COLLINGWOOD
Saturday, May 1 @ 2:00pm
Downer Oval

Williamstown is the next challenger up to try and knock off Collingwood as the undefeated Magpies rose in the final term to see off Essendon and grab another win in Round 8. The Magpies have plenty of reasons to get up in this game, with 2019 premiership coach Penny Cula-Reid behind the helm of the 2019 wooden spooners side this season. She will have her work cut out for her against a red-hot Magpies lineup, which features both Amelia Velardo and Aliesha Newman who copped knocks last week but have recovered to play. Abbi Moloney returns to the side with Joanna Lin, Maddi Shevlin and Imogen Purcell among the other Collingwood AFLW talents outside the two key forwards in Sophie Alexander and Bella Smith. The Seagulls have some terrific VFLW talent, with Erin Meade, Megan Williamson, Aimee Whelan and Ruby Tripodi among the in-form players in the competition, but it will be whether or not they can make the most of their chances as the Pies will give their forwards plenty, particularly after the form of Marla Neal last week who shone in the win at The Hangar. Hard to see the Pies dropping this one, though the Seagulls are strong defensively and will not make it easy for them.

SOUTHERN SAINTS vs. HAWTHORN
Sunday, May 2 @ 10:00am
Trevor Barker Oval

The standalone Sunday fixture pits the sixth placed Southern Saints in a must-win fixture against Hawthorn who got up in Meg Hutchins‘ 250th match last week. The Saints cling onto the lowest finals spot – albeit with plenty of time left in the season – and will need to win this one to give themselves some security there. However the Hawks have some tall targets in Hutchins and Tamara Luke up forward, with the dangerous Kristy Stratton and Jessie Williams capable of kicking multiple goals. Gippsland Power’s Grace McRae makes her debut for the brown and gold following the conclusion of the NAB League Girls’ season, with another former Gippsland leader in Maddi Shaw running around for the brown and gold. Georgia Bevan, Alison Drennan and Nadia von Bertouch have plenty to prove in this game as they look for another chance at AFL Women’s level, with the latter two having played for the Saints at this level earlier this season. For the Saints, they went down to the reformed Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval last Friday and will look to bounce back with Tara Bohanna and Renee Saulitis providing that tall and small option inside 50. Alice Burke and Tahlia Meyer rack up the ball each and every week, and Hannah Stewart has been enjoying a nice season this year at VFLW level. This game could go either way with the Saints ranked higher, but the Hawks are forming a really strong list as the season goes on.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 8

A HEAP of young prospects are now filtering through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Despite the NAB League’s resumption, Round 8 saw plenty of young talent scattered across each state league side. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have recently graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 8

The Western Bulldogs are turning their season around, having notched a third win after defeating the Southern Saints by 18 points on Friday night. Brooke Hards (10 disposals, four tackles), who has played every game for the Dogs this season, was one of their best and only graduates afield in her relatively new defensive role. Molly Denahy-Maloney was the other in this category, notching four touches and six hitouts.

The Saints had some promising young talent scattered across their side too, headlined by the debut of Dandenong Stingrays defender Jemma Radford. She earned votes in the loss for her 12 disposals and six marks, getting better as the game wore on. Tall Amelia Peck was another to impress with 18 touches and four marks, while Grace Hodder had it 16 times and laid five tackles.

Casey brought Port Melbourne’s unbeaten run to an end on Saturday, trumping the Borough by 41 points on the road. Forward Sophie Locke made her return and fared well with 10 disposals, but could not quite find the goals. Recently delisted Richmond forward Emily Harley also found it 10 times, as Bridie Kennedy and Kate Adams also got a run for Port. Emma Horne (seven disposals) and Bridie Winbanks (six hitouts) were Casey’s representatives in these parameters.

Geelong’s top four surge roared on with a thumping win over Darebin Falcons, seeing the Cats move to an impressive 6-2 record. Paige Sheppard was among the votes for Geelong, finishing with 18 disposals and five marks as her terrific return season continues. Tamara Smith also found a good amount of ball, working hard for 20 touches and nine tackles in the famous hoops.

On Sunday, Collingwood got the points in a traditional Anzac Day matchup with Essendon, as the Magpies continue to set the competition benchmark. Olivia Meagher started well in black and white, and finished eight disposals. Essendon continues to blood a good amount of youth, with Elizabeth Snell (14 disposals, five tackles) and Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, five tackles) both terrific, while Calder products Grace Dicker (12 and seven) and Alana Barba (11 and three) were others who proved productive.

Hawthorn picked up its second set of points on the weekend after downing Williamstown by 16 points, meaning the Hawks’ two wins have come against fellow standalone entities. Jenna Richardson got among the votes in her side’s victory, while it was no surprise to see Ruby Tripodi again do the same for Williamstown. In North Melbourne’s thumping win over Carlton, Ciara Fitzgerald took three marks in her 12 disposals, as Marnie Jarvis and Taylah Kolevski found touch in the Blues’ loss.

2021 VFLW Round 8 preview: Anzac Day rivals lock horns at The Hangar

ANZAC Day matches take centre stage, along with a Friday night blockbuster at Whitten Oval, in what is anticipated to be a fantastic round of Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s action for Round 8 of the competition.

WESTERN BULLDOGS vs. SOUTHERN SAINTS
Friday, April 23 @ 7:30pm
Whitten Oval

A mammoth win last Sunday afternoon against Darebin saw Western Bulldogs jump from eleventh to eighth on the VFL Women’s table, and draw to within four points of the top six. They will have plenty of percentage to catch up on after some disappointing losses, but the team that currently holds sixth spot is their opponents on Friday night, the Southern Saints. The Saints have a healthy percentage thanks to a similar belting of the Falcons back in Round 5, which had actually snapped a three-game losing streak. They did go down to the unbeaten Magpies last week, so will be seeking to bounce back against the Dogs in this clash. Tara Bohanna is a key player for the Saints, booting eight goals in seven games to be within reach of top spot on the table. Valerie Moreau and Gabbi De Angelis have both slotted four majors, to give the Saints a pretty potent forward line. Alice Burke ran rampant last week with 35 touches, whilst the dangerous Renee Saulitis is another small who can inject pace and class around goals. By comparison, Mary Sandral leads the Dogs’ goalkicking with the four majors, but was injured during the clash against the Falcons, On debut Western Jets’ Jemima Woods slotted three majors, though it is expected she will return for the NAB League Girls’ final clash. Danielle Marshall hit the scoreboard last week, while the return of Nell Morris-Dalton and Eleanor Brown to complement the side was important. Last time they were under lights the Dogs had a shocker against the Magpies, but expect them to be much better here against the Saints in what should be a thrilling contest.

PORT MELBOURNE vs. CASEY DEMONS
Saturday, April 24 @ 10:00am
ETU Stadium

The top of the table Port Melbourne host Casey Demons in an early Saturday morning clash. The Borough saw off their greatest challenge to-date last week, overcoming Carlton from several goals down to remain undefeated from seven matches. The Demons, led by Imogen Milford who slammed home six majors, were too strong for Hawthorn despite the Hawks’ best efforts at Box Hill. If the Demons can continue that form – with more AFL Women’s players available – expect them to really give the ladder leaders a run for their money. Only Port and Collingwood have scored more than the Demons this season, which makes them a potent attack led by Milford (12 goals), while Niamh McEvoy (five) and Brenna Tarrant (five from Round 1) all damaging. Eliza West is the in-form midfielder, having collected more touches than any other player this season at an average of 22.3 disposals, as well as 4.3 tackles. Being able to hit the scoreboard with four majors makes her a threat forward of centre, and the Borough will need to be aware of that, whether it is the likes of Philippa Peschke or Mel Kuys who might be opposed to her. Sophie Locke is second on the goalkicking charts but has been recovering from injury, whilst Emily Harley (five goals) and Cleo Saxon-Jones (four) have been hitting the scoreboard in less games, while Sabrina Frederick has scored two majors in each of her matches thus far. The Borough should be favourites at home, but the Demons have enough talent to bring in that could worry the ladder leaders.

DAREBIN vs. GEELONG
Saturday, April 24 @ 12:00pm
Bill Lawry Oval

Back-to-back home games for Darebin Falcons gives the standalone side a chance to jump off the bottom of the table with a win in this contest. The Falcons knocked off North Melbourne a fortnight ago, but felt the pinch of a Dogs side that recalled a number of AFL Women’s talents in Round 7. They have to find a way to knock off a red-hot Cats outfit that will have similar AFL Women’s numbers to the Dogs last week, with most of those players being able to hit the scoreboard. Geelong has only lost to the top two sides, and has won their past three matches to sit fourth overall, percentage behind Essendon. with Casey Demons not too far behind, the visitors cannot afford to take the Falcons lightly. Olivia Barber is a goal-scoring threat when in the side having kicked six goals in just two games, whilst regulars, Claudia Gunjaca (five), Stephanie Williams (five) and Georgia Clarke (four) can also do damage. Darcy Moloney, Laura Gardiner and Carly Remmos will be the future of the AFL Women’s side and are teaming up well through the VFLW midfield, while Tamara Smith leads all-comers with tackles, and Paige Sheppard is one of the most prominent ball-winners in the league. Nicole Callinan is the one to stop for the Falcons, averaging 23 disposals, six marks and 5.5 tackles working hard in the back 50 and pushing up the ground to try and drive her team forward. The Bulldogs premiership player has been a welcome addition to the side, with Sidney Cubasch returning last week and likely to assert herself in the ruck, Samara David impressed around the ground having also kicked the five goals this season, while Stephanie Simpson might not have hit the scoreboard last week against a strong Bulldogs defence, but slotted four the previous week. The Falcons will leapfrog Hawthorn – if the Hawks lose on Sunday – but it will be a very tough ask with Geelong in ripping form and expect the Cats to continue that form in Round 8.

HAWTHORN vs. WILLIAMSTOWN
Sunday, April 25 @ 10:30am
Box Hill City Oval

Two of the bottom three clash in what could be one of the closest matches of the round. Hawthorn has been pretty impressive this season and arguably undeserving of eleventh on the ladder. They pushed the Demons last week and can leapfrog the Seagulls here with a win, having averaged more points than their opponents, but also having conceded a lot more as well. Each week Bec Goddard manages to bring in AFL Women’s talent, as Georgia Bevan, Kristy Stratton, Tamara Luke and Nadia von Bertouch have all swapped their colours to return to their roots of the brown and gold, or with the ties to Goddard. Whilst not having massive ball-winners, the Hawks have been able to develop some young talent through the list, such as renowned tackler Dominique Carbone, and a plethora of Eastern Ranges players such as Isabelle Khoury, Matilda Hardy and Eloise Chaston. Jesse Williams is the danger up forward, and with Stratton in for her second game in the brown and gold, expect her to be a second prong of attack up there. Williamstown on the other hand do not have a reliable source of goals, though Aimee Whelan and Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster have each snagged three majors. A total of 14 players have hit the scoreboard in the 2021 season, including prominent ball-winners Ruby Tripodi and Megan Williamson, while Erin Meade continues to provide great run out of defence, and will hope the Seagulls can propel themselves to their third win. With the extra experience coming into the brown and gold though, the Hawks should get up at home.

ESSENDON vs. COLLINGWOOD
Sunday, April 25 @ 11:00am
The Hangar

The traditional Anzac Day rivals will clash at The Hangar before fans head south to the MCG for the AFL men’s edition, with the VFL Women’s clash to provide just as much intensity between the clubs. A potential finals preview looms with the second placed Pies still unbeaten from seven games, coming up against the third placed Bombers who are 5-2 from their season, and building some great form in the middle of the season. The Bombers have been without their spiritual leader for the last game and a half with Georgia Nanscawen on the sidelines. She averaged 23 disposals and 10.2 tackles in her six games, to be a barometer in the side. Alana Barba and Courtney Ugle have stepped up in her absence, while Federica Frew (eight goals) and Natalie MacDonald (five) have been important up forward with Mia-Rae Clifford (eight). With the NAB League Girls returning this week, expect the Bombers to be without a couple of key youngsters in Zali Friswell and Kasey Lennox, though Elizabeth Snell and soon-to-be Jemma Finning have just the one game remaining in Pioneers colours. The Magpies have been ticking along nicely and now will be able to heavily rotate their AFL Women’s talent if they choose to do so, with the likes of Bella Smith (eight goals in four games), Amelia Velardo in defence and Abbi Moloney (two in three) among those running around in the side. Imogen Barnett has been the standout VFLW-listed Pie with eight goals in six games, while Caitlin Bunker (16.3 disposals, 6.6 tackles) and Matilda Zander (14.3 disposals, 4.1 tackles) are others who have stood out.

NORTH MELBOURNE vs. CARLTON
Sunday, April 25 @ 12:00pm
Arden Street

The later Anzac Day clash is between another couple of AFLW-aligned clubs in North Melbourne and Carlton. The Roos have enjoyed playing a string of games at Arden Street this season, and whilst they have only won the two games from seven matches, have been steadfast in developing their VFLW-listed talents rather than pouring in AFLW-listed players just for the points. The Blues have been fairly similar, though they were able to bring in some players in recent weeks such as Maddy Guerin, who has been a cut above at the level, averaging 21.7 disposals, 3.3 marks and 7.0 tackles from her three games. Jennifer Lew has been an impressive VFLW-listed Blue with 18.5 disposals, 5.3 marks and 4.3 tackles, whilst Courtney Jones has slotted eight goals in five games, and Akayla Peterson has been utilised at both ends of the field for five goals in seven games. Throw in Serena Gibbs (three in four) who has been supporting Jorja Borg in the ruck, and the form of Winnie Laing this season, and the Blues have a solid team across the board. North Melbourne on the other hand, have had some really consistent ball-winners, but just not enough consistent games to put together wins. Brooke Brown has been sensational up forward with eight goals in four games, while ex-Sun Alexia Hamilton, and Tasmanian Sarah Skinner have both been enjoying outstanding seasons in the blue and white. Meagan Kiely and Molly Eastman both average 20.4 disposals and more than four tackles per game to share the load with Skinner, while Airlie Runnalls and Katelyn Cox are other consistent ball-winning talents. Carlton arguably have the upper hand after pushing Port Melbourne last week, though the development of the Roos will hold them in good stead for the future.

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 7

A HEAP of young prospects are now filtering through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 7 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side and a few players make their debuts. We take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently compete in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

>> Results: VFLW Round 7

Collingwood maintained its unbeaten streak with a win over the Southern Saints on Saturday morning, with Eastern Ranges standout Olivia Meagher enjoying an extended run in the side. She had 11 disposals, laid three tackles and picked up votes for the Magpies in their seventh win. For the Saints, Gabby De Angelis notched 12 touches, while fellow pathway graduates Amelia Peck and Grace Hodder each found the ball nine times.

Essendon boasted a host of current and former Calder Cannons products in its win over Williamstown, with the young brigade making a real impact. Zali Friswell booted two goals to feature among the Bombers’ votes with Kasey Lennox, as former Cannons Alana Barba (11 disposals) and Grace Dicker (10) also fared well.

Meanwhile, country coup Eloise Ashley-Cooper racked up a team-high 17 disposals, while current Bendigo Pioneers standout Elizabeth Snell laid 10 tackles in the sash. For Williamstown, Ruby Tripodi was again superb as she found the ball 20 times, but could only manage two behinds among them. Megan Williamson had it 16 times, booting a goal and laying nine tackles to feature among the Seagulls’ votes.

Casey and Hawthorn treated fans to a relatively high-scoring spectacle, with the Demons coming out on top and the Hawks continuing to blood exciting youth. The Eastern Ranges representation was high in brown and gold, as Ruby O’Dwyer (12 disposals, four tackles), Isabelle Khoury (11 disposals, seven tackles, one goal), Eloise Chaston (six disposals, five tackles), and Tilly Hardy (five disposals, four tackles) all continue to acclimatise to the level alongside graduate, while Jenna Richardson (eight disposals) also impressed.

Emma Horne was arguably Melbourne’s pick of the NAB League products, notching nine disposals and finishing with four tackles. Versatile tall Bridie Winbanks managed two disposals and eight hitouts, as 19-year-old former Dandenong Stingray, Harmony Thomas also ran out for the Demons.

Geelong’s top four charge rages on, as the Cats kept North Melbourne at bay in Sunday’s opening bout. Paige Sheppard was again terrific in the hoops, racking up 22 disposals to go with seven tackles and four marks. Tamara Smith had it 14 times and got her hands dirty with eight tackles, as current Geelong Falcons guns Annie Lee and Renee Tierney returned to the fold. Ciara Fitzgerald had 10 touches for North, while 20-year-old Tasmanian Camilla Taylor collected seven on debut.

The Western Bulldogs returned to the winners list with an emphatic victory over Darebin Falcons, with a continued injection of youth and AFLW-listed players aiding their cause. Western Jets’ Jemima Woods had a memorable debut with three goals, running out for the first time alongside Stephanie Asciak. GWV’s Lilli Condon celebrated her first win at the level with 11 disposals and five tackles, as Brooke Hards and Molly Denahy Moloney continued their runs in the side. For Darebin, youth product and Calder ruck Peppa Poultney entered the fray with 10 disposals and a couple of marks.

The final game of the round saw Port Melbourne come from behind to edge Carlton on home turf, seeing the Borough remain top of the table. Recently delisted Richmond AFLW tall, Cleo Saxon-Jones finished with 11 kicks among her 12 disposals, as former Carlton utility Bridie Kennedy had 10 touches, and current Oakleigh forward Taylah Morton matched that output, but could not quite snare her maiden goal.

For Carlton, Northern Knights graduate Marnie Jarvis collected 12 touches and laid four tackles, as Amber Micallef had it a handful of times and Murray Bushrangers standout Kate Adams came in for her fifth game – ending with three disposals for the third game running.

2021 VFLW Round 7 wrap: Dogs break five-game losing streak

WESTERN Bulldogs are back on the winners list in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition after snapping their five-game losing streak against Darebin Falcons on the weekend. The Dogs scored the highest score of any side this year with 14.9 (93), having only scored a total of 136 points in the opening five rounds. Collingwood and Port Melbourne remained undefeated after the latter executed a remarkable come-from-behind win over Carlton, while Essendon, Casey Demons and Geelong all kept touch with the top two after important victories over lower-ranked opposition.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 2.0 | 3.1 | 3.1 | 4.2 (26)
COLLINGWOOD 0.2 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 6.5 (41)

Collingwood has overcome a slow start to put the Southern Saints away at Trevor Barker Oval and remain undefeated from seven games. The Saints fired early to kick the first two goals of the game, but the Magpies took control with two goals in less than seven minutes in the second term to hit the front and never surrender the lead. The Saints kept pushing and did get within a point – and even within three points in the dying minutes of the match – but a couple of late majors to Bella Smith sealed the 15-point win for the Magpies, 6.5 (41) to 4.2 (26).

Smith’s three goals from 12 disposals and five marks was a highlight, with fellow ex-Norwood talent Matilda Zander again being productive with 16 disposals and nine tackles. Maddie Shevlin was the clear standout in terms of ball-winners for the black and white, as she amassed 25 disposals and four tackles. Jasmine Ferguson (18 disposals, five marks and seven tackles) and Caitlin Bunker (16 disposals, two marks seven tackles) won their fair share of the ball, while Abbey Green booted two majors and Olivia Meagher impressed at the level once again. For the Saints, Alice Burke went haywire with 35 disposals, seven marks and two tackles in a massive effort, whilst Madison Capsalis (25 disposals, six marks and nine tackles) and Molly McDonald (19 disposals, five marks) were not far behind. Poppy Kelly (15 disposals, 30 hitouts) had a day out in the ruck, as Tara Bohanna continued her good form in front of goal with 10 disposals, five marks, four tackles, six hitouts and two majors.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Bohanna 2, J. Vogt, N. Robertson.
Collingwood: B. Smith 3, A. Green 2, A. Moloney.

BEST:

Southern Saints: M. Capsalis, T. Bohanna, L. Burke, M. McDonald, J. Vogt, V. Moreau
Collingwood: B. Smith, O. Meagher, J. Ferguson, D. Hallett, J. Guy, M. Shevlin

ESSENDON 1.4 | 2.5 | 3.7 | 6.9 (45)
WILLIAMSTOWN 0.0 | 1.1 | 1.2 | 2.3 (15)

Essendon has notched up another win, this time by five goals over Williamstown despite some inaccurate kicking early on. The Bombers had 10 scoring shots to three in the opening three quarters, but only led 3.7 to 1.2, before kicking 3.2 to 1.1 in the final term to run away with the contest by 30 points.The Seagulls battled hard throughout, matching the Bombers in most areas, but could not quite have enough scoring chances to overrun them.

Calder Cannons youngster Zali Friswell kicked the first major of the game to finish with two goals from six touches and nine tackles for the home team, as Federica Frew was best-on thanks to 16 disposals, three tackles and 2.2. Eloise Ashley-Cooper (17 disposals, six tackles) and Natalie Macdonald (17 disposals, five marks) were both busy, while Cecila McIntosh, Mia-Rae Clifford, Eloise Gardner and another Cannons youngster in Kasey Lennox were also named among the best. For the Seagulls, Ruby Tripodi had 20 disposals, five marks and two tackles, as Erin Meade (19 disposals, three marks and four tackles) and Aimee Whelan (18 disposals, 11 tackles) were also productive. Eliza Straford and Ella Baxter were also named in the Seagulls’ best after double-figure disposals and impact in the game.

GOALS:

Essendon: F. Frew 2, Z. Friswell 2, M. Clifford, A. Barba.
Williamstown: A. Whelan, M. Williamson

BEST:

Essendon: F. Frew, C. McIntosh, M. Clifford, E. Gardner, K. Lennox, Z. Friswell
Williamstown: E. Straford, E. Baxter, A. Whelan, E. McGrath, S. Dunell, M. Williamson

HAWTHORN 3.1 | 4.3 | 5.3 | 7.5 (47)
CASEY DEMONS 3.2 | 6.4 | 9.6 | 9.6 (60)

A six-goal haul from Imogen Milford has guided the Casey Demons to a tight 13-point victory over Hawthorn to stay in touch with the top four sides. The teams were evenly matched early in the game with Milford booting two in the first term, her third early in the second, then in the space of three minutes between the final moments of the second term and third minute of the fourth term, added another two goals, with her sixth midway through the third term blowing the lead out to a massive 32 points. The Hawks stormed home with 3.2 to 0.1 from that point onwards, but it would not be enough, going down 9.6 (60) to 7.5 (47).

Milford finished the day with 16 disposals, four marks, nine tackles and 6.1 for her troubles, as Eliza West continued her dominant ball-winning spree in 2021 with 28 disposals, three marks, six tackles and one goal. Maggie Caris impressed through the ruck with 22 hitouts to accompany her 11 disposals, while Shree Fairchild and Meg Macdonald were also named among the Demons’ best in the win. New (and former) Hawk Kristy Stratton made an impact in her first game back for the brown and gold since been delisted by Collingwood, picking up 16 disposals, laying five tackles and kicking a goal. Catherine Brown racked up 17 disposals and four tackles, with Dominique Carbone and Olivia Flanagan also busy, and Emily Gilder named best for the brown and gold.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: T. Luke 2, M. Hutchins, J. Williams, I. Khoury, K. Stratton, D. Carbone.
Casey: I. Milford 6, S. Johnson, E. West, I. Simmons.

BEST:

Hawthorn: E. Gilder, T. Luke, O. Flanagan, C. Bain, K. Stratton, I. Khoury
Casey: E. West, S. Fairchild, I. Milford, M. Macdonald, M. Caris, S. Johnson

GEELONG 2.1 | 4.5 | 6.6 | 7.6 (48)
NORTH MELBOURNE 0.0 | 1.0 | 3.2 | 5.2 (32)

Geelong did enough to post a solid 16-point win over North Melbourne at Queen’s Park, winning the first half to build up a 23-point lead at the main break. The Cats were challenged in the second half, but managed to stop the Roos from piling on too many majors, and while the visitors did cut into the deficit, the home team got up, 7.6 (48) to 5.2 (32).

Olivia Barber booted three goals from 16 touches, five marks and nine hitouts in a promising performance, as Laura Gardiner found the ball at will thanks to 27 disposals and 11 tackles. Paige Sheppard (22 disposals, four marks and seven tackles) and Sophie Van De Heuvel (22 disposals, four tackles) also found plenty of the ball. Claudia Gunjaca booted a couple of majors off 12 touches, three marks and five tackles, while Darcy Moloney was another Cats AFLW-listed player who hit the scoreboard off 14 touches and four tackles. Meagan Kiely was the top ball winner for the Roos with 23 disposals, seven marks and eight tackles, ahead of Sarah Skinner (22 disposals, five marks and five tackles). Fellow Tasmanian Brooke Brown kicked the three goals from 17 disposals up forward, while Alexia Hamilton was also impressive through the ruck with 14 disposals, 14 hitouts and eight tackle.

GOALS:

Geelong: O. Barber 3, C. Gunjaca 2, D. Moloney, M. Maguire.
North: B. Brown 3, L. Wright, A. Runnalls.

BEST:

Geelong: P. Sheppard, L. Gardiner, C. Gunjaca, O. Barber, M. Maguire, S. Van De Heuvel
North: B. Brown, A. Hamilton, S. Skinner, M. Kiely, A. Runnalls, R. Hicks

DAREBIN 1.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 | 4.0 (24)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 6.1 | 7.4 | 9.8 | 14.9 (93)

The return of a number of AFL Women’s listed players helped the Western Bulldogs boot the highest score of the season and snap a five-game losing streak in the process. Slotting six goals to one in the opening term, the visiting side all but won it in the opening 20 minutes. The Falcons were strong over the next couple of quarters, refusing to give in and keeping touch with the Dogs, before a five goals to one final term blew the margin out to 69 points as the Bulldogs won 14.9 (93) to 4.0 (24).

Angelica Gogos returned for her first game this season and had an impact with 23 disposals, six tackles and a goal, teaming up well with the classy Gemma Lagioia (22 disposals, three marks and 2.2). Eleanor Brown also came into the side and kicked a couple of late goals after being an interceptor in the back half, finishing with 16 disposals, seven marks and two majors. Western Jets youngster Jemima Woods made a sterling debut with three goals, the same as Danielle Marshall, while Mary Sandral slotted the two goals. The Dogs also did well defensively with Gogos one of three players – with teenagers Brooke Hards (nine tackles) and Lilli Condon (five) – who recorded their fair share of tackles. Ex-Bulldog Nicole Callinan racked up a match-high 29 disposals, 10 marks and five tackles, with Samara David capitalising on her chances up forward with three goals, and Ashleigh Gunn lively with 18 disposals, five marks and three tackles. Lauren Camilleri was the benchmark for tackles with 10, while Cannons’ youngster Peppa Poultney stood up with 10 touches and two marks playing mostly forward and pinch-hitting in the ruck.

GOALS:

Darebin: S. David 3, A. Caddy.
Western Bulldogs: J. Woods 3, D. Marshall 3, G. Lagioia 2, M. Sandral 2, E. Brown 2, A. van Oosterwijck, A. Gogos.

BEST:

Darebin: S. David, A. Gunn, P. Poultney, K. McNiece, M. Huta, V. Smiljanic
Western Bulldogs: A. Gogos , K. Betts, A. Tessari, G. Lagioia, M. Sandral, E. Brown

PORT MELBOURNE 0.0 | 3.2 | 6.4 | 7.4 (46)
CARLTON 3.0 | 5.1 | 6.3 | 6.4 (40)

Port Melbourne faced its stiffest task to-date in the VFL Women’s 2021 season, having to overcome a 13-point deficit to Carlton late in the third term – after trailing by three goals at quarter time – to eventually come from behind and win by a goal. The Borough kicked the winning goal six minutes into the final term when Claire Dyett converted a major and then the home team held on in a titanic struggle to take home their seventh win of the season, 7.4 (46) to 6.4 (40).

Phillipa Peschke had the most touches for the winners with 22 disposals, three marks and 10 tackles, teaming up well through the midfield with Mel Kuys (20 disposals, three marks and three tackles. Ex-Blue Bridie Kennedy shone against her former side with 10 disposals and five tackles, while Dyett, Elizabeth Wilson and Courteney Bromage were all named among the best. Sabrina Frederick kicked another two goals from 13 touches and three marks, while Oakleigh Chargers’ teenager Taylah Morton had the 10 touches and three tackles in the win. Maddy Guerin won plenty of the ball for Carlton in defeat, picking up 21 disposals, seven marks and nine tackles, while Paige Trudgeon (12 disposals, seven tackles) and Charli Linssen (16 disposals, four tackles) also stood out. Amelia Klingbeil laid a whopping 12 tackles, while Olivia Madden (17 disposals) and Winnie Laing (14) also found their fair share of the ball.

GOALS:

Port: S. Frederick 2, C. Dyett, E. Wilson, H. Bailey, N. Borg, A. Tanner.
Carlton: A. Peterson 2, S. Lawrence, B. Gurr, C. Jones, E. Mangan

BEST:

Port: B. Kennedy, C. Dyett, E. Wilson, C. Bromage, A. Tanner, B. Ousley
Carlton: P. Trudgeon, C. Linssen, M. Guerin, C. Hammans, S. Lawrence, A. Klingbeil

The Graduates: 2021 VFLW – Round 6

A HEAP of young prospects are now filtering through the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition, with the revamped structure allowing Under 18 and 19 NAB League players to align with state league sides as both seasons run concurrently. Round 6 saw plenty of talent scattered across each side, and we take a look at how VFLW-listed players who currently play in or have graduated from the NAB League, performed.

Essendon welcomed a couple of fresh faces to the fold as it trumped fellow standalone side, Hawthorn by 14 points on Saturday morning, The Bombers called upon current Calder Cannons guns Kasey Lennox (defender) and Zali Friswell (midfielder), who enjoyed solid runs in their debuts. They ran out alongside former Cannons Alana Barba and Grace Dicker, the former of whom has established a key role in the team.

Hawthorn also had a NAB League product make her debut, in Eastern prospect Ruby O’Dwyer. She was one of three current Ranges to run out in the brown and gold, with Jess Grace and Isabelle Khoury returning for their second games at the level. Khoury, a likely type up forward, was named among the Hawks’ best players.

The Southern Saints notched their third win of the season, also on Saturday morning, as they defeated Williamstown by 10 points on home turf. Gabby De Angelis booted two goals in the winning effort, while Ruby Tripodi claimed full votes for the Seagulls as she continues her stellar season. Promising forward Tahlia Merrett also returned after nearly a month out.

Despite another heavy loss, the Western Bulldogs continue to present strong opportunities to their young players, headlined this week by Molly Denahy Maloney. The tall was named best afield for the Dogs in their loss to Port Melbourne, while debutant Lilli Condon proved lively at ground level and Nikita Wright returned to the fold. Former Bendigo Pioneers skipper Brooke Hards fared well in a new role, trialled in defence and matching up on Borough first-gamer, Taylah Morton.

Elsewhere, Bridie Winbanks featured in the votes for Casey as the Demons went down by two points to a Geelong side boasting the likes of Tamara Smith and Paige Sheppard. Collingwood remains undefeated after keeping Carlton goalless on Sunday, with Olivia Meagher getting an extended run while Amber Micallef and Marnie Jarvis ply their trade in navy blue. Ciara Fitzgerald again found the goals as North Melbourne went down to Darebin, in the Falcons’ first win for the season.

2021 VFLW Round 6 wrap: Falcons break winless drought

ALL teams in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition have now recorded a victory in season 2021, after Darebin Falcons defeated North Melbourne at Arden Street by 12 points on Saturday. The victory meant the Falcons joined both Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs on one win, as as other bottom six sides Williamstown and the Kangaroos also suffered defeats.

At the other end of the ladder, Collingwood had a huge defensive effort in the wet against Carlton to knock the Blues out of the top six, whilst Port Melbourne, Essendon and Geelong all celebrated wins, the latter in a tight victory holding on against Casey Demons at Casey fields to leap frog the Demons into fourth spot.

HAWTHORN 0.4 | 1.5 | 1.8 | 1.10 (16)
ESSENDON 1.1 | 1.2 | 1.3 | 4.5 (29)

Picking themselves off the canvas after skipper Georgia Nanscawen‘s injury left them without a star midfielder, Essendon ground out a win at Box Hill City Oval against Hawthorn by 13 points. The Bombers started the stronger of the two sides thanks to a goal from Mia-Rae Clifford, but it was Hawthorn who managed to put all the scores on the board over the next two terms. The home team could not capitalise through the big sticks, with only Eloise Chaston‘s second quarter major the sole six-pointer. It meant the Hawks led by five points at the final break, but a flurry of three goals in the final term saw the Bombers overrun the Hawks and sit pretty in third spot.

Despite Nanscawen going down, it was the field tackling of Alana Barba and Eloise Ashley-Cooper (22 tackles apiece) who provided the grunt work, and Lori Stepnell, Eloise Gardner and Cecilia McIntosh who held up in the overcast conditions. Hawthorn had plenty of chances, with Eastern Ranges duo, Isabel Khoury (22 disposals, seven tackles) and Eloise Chaston (14 disposals, three marks, 1.3) lively, with the pair kicking 1.5 of the Hawks’ 1.10 score between them. Jess Grace shared the ruck work with Kate Dudley and Tamara Luke, while Gold Coast Suns’ Georgia Bevan teamed up with her ex-Crows coach Bec Goddard to have an impact for the team in a losing side.

GOALS:

Hawthorn: E. Chaston.
Essendon: M. Clifford 2, N. MacDonald, F. Frew.

BEST:

Hawthorn: T. Luke, E. Chaston, I. Khoury, N. Garner, N. von Bertouch, G. Bevan
Essendon: L. Stepnell, E. Gardner, C. McIntosh, A. Morcom, E. Ashley-Cooper, S. Nalder

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 | 2.4 | 3.4 | 5.5 (35)
WILLIAMSTOWN 3.0 | 3.0 | 4.1 | 4.1 (25)

Having their work cut out for them early, and forced to come from behind, the Southern Saints also had a strong final term to boot the only two goals of the last term to run over the top of a gallant Williamstown at Trevor Barker Oval. The Seagulls burst out of the blocks in the first half, with three goals kicked in 13 minutes to lead by 12 at the first break, before the home team clawed their way back into it. Tayla Kearns‘ second goal five minutes into the third term put the Saints back up, before Lauren Gooden responded nine minutes later with her own second major to regain the lead at the final break for the Seagulls. Back-to-back goals to the Saints through Tara Bohanna and Gabi De Angelis in the final term saw the home team come from behind and secure the win in front of home fans.

Bohanna was sensation across the forward half with a goal and 13 hitouts from 22 disposals, whilst it was the defensive strength of Jacqui Vogt (11 tackles, 17 disposals), and class in front of goal from De Angelis (14 disposals, five tackles, 2.2) that stood out. Rebecca Neaves and Kearns also stood out, while Ebony Nixon and AFL Women’s Saint, Alice Burke found plenty of it. For the Seagulls, Megan Williamson was again the top-ball winner with 20 touches, whilst it was Ruby Tripodi (16 disposals, three tackles), Scarlett Dunell (19 disposals, four tackles) and Aimee Whelan (19 disposals, eight tackles and a goal) who supported the team strongly.

GOALS:

Southern Saints: T. Kearns 2, G. De Angelis 2, T. Bohanna.
Williamstown: L. Gooden 2, E. Fox, A. Whelan.

BEST:

Southern Saints: J. Vogt, R. Neaves, M. Capsalis, G. De Angelis, T. Kearns, G. McLean
Williamstown: R. Tripodi, E. Straford, L. Gooden, L. Loughnane, P. Nash, A. Whelan

NORTH MELBOURNE 1.2 | 2.4 | 2.4 | 4.6 (30)
DAREBIN FALCONS 2.1 | 2.3 | 4.5 | 6.6 (42)

A match between two bottom four sides, including a winless one, is not a match you particularly expect to keep you on the edge of your seat, but that is exactly what North Melbourne and Darebin did at Arden Street on Saturday. The teams were neck-and-neck in the first half, with the Kangaroos taking the one-point lead into half-time of the huge clash, but the Falcons, led by Stephanie Simpson (four goals) up forward, kept pressing to take a 13-point lead into the final break. Each time the Falcons kicked away with a major, the Kangaroos would answer it in the final term, but they could not bridge the gap with the Falcons getting up by 12 points in the end, 6.6 (42) to 4.6 (30).

Simpson’s four goals in a combined 10-goal game was hard to look past for the Falcons in a super effort, whilst Alice Caddy and Samara David also stood out in the win. Nicole Callinan provided the experience coming back into the side, as Victoria Blackwood was also a strong contributor to break the Falcons’ drought in season 2021. Alexia Hamilton slotted two crucial goals for the Roos in defeat, while Molly Eastman, Airlie Runnalls and Katelyn Cox were named the Roos’ best in the win, as the defence did well, but not enough to secure the four points.

GOALS:

North Melbourne: A. Hamilton 2, S. Skinner, C. Fitzgerald.
Darebin Falcons: S. Simpson 4, C. Byrne, A. Reibelt.

BEST:

North Melbourne: M. Eastman, A. Runnalls, K. Cox, M. Kiely, M. McDonald, A. Hamilton
Darebin Falcons: A. Caddy, S. David, N. Callinan, S. Simpson, V. Blackwood, M. Huta

PORT MELBOURNE 2.0 | 4.4 | 4.4 | 6.7 (43)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 0.1 | 0.1 | 1.2 | 1.2 (8)

Port Melbourne has continued streak to post a comfortable 35-point win over Western Bulldogs at ETU Stadium, moving to 6-0 for the season and handing the Bulldogs a fifth straight loss. The visitors were strong early, and even kept the home team at bay in the third term as the Dogs’ defence starred, but a couple of final term goals just pushed the final margin out to beyond five goals thanks to some strong efforts from Richmond-listed talents in the 6.7 (43) to 1.2 (8) victory.

Sabrina Frederick showed her strength and experience against state-level defenders with two goals from six marks and nine touches, and Emily Harley racked up 16 disposals, three marks and a goal in the win. Holly Bailey also slotted two goals, while Phillipa Peschke had a day of leather poisoning with 25 disposals to accompany her three marks, three tackles and a goal. Courteney Bromage 17 disposals, 11 tackles), Olivia Barton (19 disposals) and Elizabeth Wilson were also strong in the win. Oakleigh Chargers’ Taylah Morton had the 14 touches and three tackles on debut. For the Western Bulldogs, the return of Isabella Grant (15 disposals, three marks and five tackles), Isabelle Pritchard (14 disposals, three marks and three tackles) and Gemma Lagioia (11 disposals, four marks) added that extra run and class they were looking for, while Annabel Scott (20 disposals, six tackles) and Molly Denahy Maloney (17 disposals, six marks and 13 hitouts) also found plenty of it. GWV Rebels’ Lilli Condon was outstanding in the first half, and finished with 10 disposals, three marks and five tackles.

GOALS:

Port Melbourne: S. Frederick 2, H. Bailey 2, P. Peschke, E. Harley.
Western Bulldogs: M. Sandral.

BEST:

Port Melbourne: E. Harley, O. Barton, E. Wilson, H. Bailey, C. Bromage, S. McNamara
Western Bulldogs: M. Denahy Maloney, A. Tessari, I. Pritchard, V. Murphy, I. Grant, L. Condon

CASEY DEMONS 1.1 | 2.2 | 2.5 | 4.6 (30)
GEELONG 1.1 | 3.1 | 5.2 | 5.2 (32)

Geelong managed to hold its nerve against a fast-finishing Casey Demons outfit at Casey Fields on Saturday afternoon, getting up by two points in the contest. The returning AFL Women’s listed players hit the scoreboard early, with Carly Remmos, Darcy Moloney, Georgia Clarke and Laura Gardiner booting their first four goals of the contest, leading by 15 points at three quarter time courtesy of Madisen Maguire‘s fifth team goal. Isabella Simmons did her best in the final term to boot two fourth quarter majors, but it would not be enough as the home team fell two points short, 4.6 (30) to 5.2 (32).

Breanna Pratt led the way for the Cats with 22 disposals, nine marks and six tackles, working in tandem with in-form Theresia Meissner 20 disposals, four marks) and Paige Sheppard (19 disposals, 10 tackles). The return of Moloney (16 disposals, nine tackles and a goal), Gardiner (13 disposals, 13 tackles and a goal) and Remmos (13 disposals, five tackles and a goal) was noticeable in the win. Olivia Fuller also dominated the ruck with 28 hitouts to accompany nine disposals and six tackles. For the Demons, ball-winning midfielder Eliza West racked up 23 disposals and four tackles, while Simmons’ two goals from 17 touches and five tackles was an outstanding effort from the youngster. Fellow teenagers, Megan Fitzsimon (16 disposals, nine tackles) and Mietta Kendall (14 disposals, four tackles) also had their fair share of the ball, with Shree Fairchild named best-on for the Demons with 18 disposals and nine tackles, and Meg Macdonald and Emma Humphries also strong.

GOALS:

Casey: I. Simmons 2, H. Thomas, E. Humphries
Geelong: C. Remmos, G. Clarke, D. Moloney, L. Gardiner, M. Maguire

BEST:

Casey: S. Fairchild, M. Fitzsimon, M. Macdonald, E. Humphries, B. Winbanks, E. West
Geelong: T. Meissner, O. Fuller, D. Moloney, B. Pratt, T. Tatlock, C. Remmos

COLLINGWOOD 1.4 | 1.5 | 2.9 | 2.10 (22)
CARLTON 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.4 (4)

Collingwood has taken care of traditional rivals Carlton to remain undefeated from six matches in the VFL Women’s competition, keeping the Blues to just four behinds in wet and windy conditions. The Victoria Park venue gave Pies fans the chance to cheer on their heroes and there was plenty to cheer as they kept Carlton scoreless from three quarters, whilst kicking the only two goals of the match. Conditions made goalkicking difficult, and it showed with a dominant 12 scoring shots to four, but a 2.10 (22) to 0.4 (4) final scoreboard.

Tricia Cowan and Mollie Emond were the only players to eventually split the big the sticks for the Magpies, as plenty of players had their chances inside 50. Caitlin Bunker was outstanding for the black and whites in the win, as Maria Neal and Amelia Velardo looked lively, and Nicola Weston was also named in the Magpies’ best on the day. It was a challenging day for any forwards, but particularly Carlton’s forwards in enemy territory, but they had a number of standout players. Akayla Peterson continued her great form in 2021 named Carlton’s best alongside the AFLW-listed Maddy Guerin. Tereza Zampaglione and Stephanie Lawrence were also strong in defeat, as the Blues moved to a 3-2 record and slipped just outside the top six, while Collingwood maintained touch with Port Melbourne at the top of the table.

GOALS:

Collingwood: T. Cowan, M. Emond.
Carlton: Nil.

BEST:

Collingwood: C. Bunker, M. Neal, A. Velardo, T. Cowan, M. Emond, N. Weston
Carlton: A. Peterson, M. Guerin, T. Zampaglione, S. Lawrence, E. Honybun, J. Borg