Tag: sally riley

2020 QAFLW season outlook: Back in action for bumper season

PLAYERS are preparing to take to the field once again in the Queensland Australian Football League Women’s (QAFLW) competition this weekend and Draft Central will be providing a weekly wrap on how the teams are performing and who’s taking on who the following week. To catch up on the competition already played – three rounds were completed prior to the season being cancelled due to the COVID19 pandemic – we run through where the teams stood. We also list the AFLW Academy Hub members as per their aligned club, as well as the AFL Women’s aligned players, though with competition returning at a different time to usual, there is no guarantee all will suit up for their respective sides.

1st Maroochydore (3-0, 274.42%, 12 points)

The green and gold Roos sit atop the QAFLW ladder after three rounds with a massive 274.42 per cent and a perfect 3-0 record. Their wins got progressively more nerve-wracking as the season went on, following a 55-point shellacking of Aspley Hornets before notching up a 16-point win over Coorparoo in Round 2, and a narrow four-point win over University of Queensland in the last match back on March 14. They face off against fifth placed Wilston Grange this weekend, to complete matches against the bottom four sides. The Roos are a much improved side this season, but expect them to know exactly where they stand when they face the other top few teams.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Lily Postlethwaite, Isabel Dawes, Shannon Campbell, Tahlia Randall

AFLW Academy Hub members: Bella Smith, Maggie Harmer, Mikayla Pauga

Others to watch: Chloe Gregory, Tahlia Mead, Kathryn Hehir

 

2nd Coolangatta Tweed (3-0, 162.96%, 12 points)

The Bluebirds are one of only two Gold Coast-based sides in the top flight QAFLW and started their season off strongly with an unblemished three from three record. In that time they knocked off rivals, Bond University by five points, defeated Aspley Hornets by 27, and got the better of Yeronga South Brisbane by 19 in the most recent match. They take on fellow Gold Coast side Bond University for a second time this weekend in what should be a massive clash. Having wins over two top four sides, albeit this early in the season would be promising for the confidence as they look to build on their season.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Lauren Ahrens, Hannah Dunn, Georgia Breward, Jasmyn Hewett, Jordann Hickey, Leah Kaslar, Paige Parker, Selina Priest, Sally Riley, Maddy Roberts, Kate Surman

Others to watch: Casey Samuels, Alexandra Hamlyn, Ebony Peterson

 

3rd Yeronga South Brisbane (2-1, 119.40%, 8 points)

The Devils had a promising start to the year with a high-scoring 15-point win over last year’s premiers, Coorparoo before toppling Wilston Grange by five goals. Their strong start was halted at the hands of Coolangatta Tweed who won by 19 points, but there was plenty to like about what the Devils had to offer. They take on University of Queensland this weekend and realistically should get up over the winless Red Lionesses. Their opponents are fairly strong defensively though, so Yeronga South Brisbane will need to line-up well.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Sam Virgo, Lauren Arnell, Emily Bates, Jordan Zanchetta, Jacqui Yorson, Gabby Collingwood, Jessie Keeffe, Dee Heslop, Jade Pregelj

AFLW Academy Hub members: Zimmorlei Farquharson

Others to watch: Emmii-Lee Zanker-Close, Madison Goodwin, Vanessa Hart

 

4th Bond University (1-1-1, 228.21%, 6 points)

Backing up from its maiden QAFLW Grand Final last year, Bond University sits at an even balance with a win, loss and draw to start its season. On face value its 228.21 percentage might seem absurd, but they completely tore apart the University of Queensland, 56-1 in Round 2 to bounce back from a shock five-point loss to Coolangatta Tweed in Round 1. Then the clash with Wilston Grange was called off due to fears over the COVID-19 pandemic, with both teams awarded two points for the game, with the Sharkettes in much better shape considering their massive Round 2 victory.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Molly Ritson, Serene Watson, Ellie Hampson, Kalinda Howarth, Lauren Bella, Tiarna Ernst

AFLW Academy Hub members: Maddison Levi, Tegan Levi, Annise Bradfield

Others to watch: Annie Muir, Esther Boles, Georgia Brehmer

 

5th Wilston Grange (1-1-1, 74.67%, 6 points)

It was only two seasons ago the Gorillas saluted in a memorable grand final win, and after missing out on going back-to-back, they hope to start their season off on the right note. They had indifferent form prior to the break with an 11-point win over University of Queensland before going down to Yeronga South Brisbane by 30 points. The called off game against Bond University meant they headed into the long lay-off with one result in each of the columns, but a lowly 74.67 percentage. They take on Maroochydore this weekend in what will be a tough game, but no one knows what to expect after such a long time off.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Sophie Conway, Rheanne Lugg, Kate Lutkins, Brianna McFarlane, Catherine Svarc

Others to watch: Kaitlyn Day, Sarah Fuller, Imogen Stackelberg

 

6th Coorparoo (1-2, 119.26%, 4 points)

The Kings regained their status as the league’s top club with a record fourth title from the nine years, moving outright first ahead of Yeronga South Brisbane (three). However to make it five, the Kings will need to really pick it up after a slow start, dropping matches to the Devils and then Roos back-to-back, before bouncing back with a 57-point smashing of Aspley Hornets. They take on the Hornets again this week up at Aspley, so will be looking to repeat the dose and further boost their percentage. One thing is for sure, the Kings have no trouble scoring so can really put up some big numbers.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Ally Anderson, Jade Ellenger, Tori Groves-Little, Tahlia Hickie, Hannah Hillman, Jamie Stanton, Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw, Jess Wuetschner, Emma Zielke

Others to watch: Charlize Anderson, Macie Brown, Abby Reynolds

 

7th University of Queensland (0-3, 30.00%, 0 points)

The Red Lionesses had a competitive start to the season if you exclude the Round 2 55-point loss at the hands of Bond University. They pushed Wilston Grange in the first round before going down by 11 points, then lost to top of the table Maroochydore in a four-point heartbreaker. Whilst they might only have a percentage of 30 and no points on the board just yet, expect that to change. Their first match up is against Yeronga South Brisbane which will likely be a tough first encounter. If all of their AFL Women’s players, or even some of them return, expect the Red Lionesses to be a real threat this season.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Maria Moloney, Natalie Grider, Breanna Koenen, Dakota Davidson, Greta Bodey, Sharni Webb

Others to watch: Megan Hunt, Mikayla Martin, Tiarna Jericho

 

8th Aspley Hornets (0-3, 21.47%, 0 points)

The league’s cellar dwellers had struggled to start the season, with a 55-point loss to Maroochydore followed by a 27-point defeat at the hands of Coolangatta Tweed. A 57-point loss to Coorparoo rounded out the first three weeks, but they will have a chance to atone for that coming off the break. They take on the Kings again this weekend at home, and will hopefully use the home crowd support to put in a bigger effort.

AFL Women’s aligned players: Nil.

Others to watch: Courtney Daniec, Isabella Kotatis, Shaye Easton

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

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

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

Taylah Melki

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

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

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

Tip: 

GEELONG

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

Emerg: N.Garner 22 R.Goring 44

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

NORTH MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: D.Bannister 2 E.Humphries 6

In: None
Out: None

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

Sophie Taylor 

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

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

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

Tip: Brisbane by 14 points.

BRISBANE

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

Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 S.Priest 19

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

COLLINGWOOD

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

Emerg: K.Stratton 41 S.Dargan 46

In: None
Out: None

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: St Kilda by 29 points.

ST KILDA

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

Emerg: E.Mackie 3 K.O’Neill 20

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

RICHMOND

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

Emerg: L.Bailey 12 E.Wood 17

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

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

Sophie Taylor

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

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

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

Tip: Melbourne by five points.

MELBOURNE

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

Emerg: K.Petrevski 31 G.Colvin 32

In: None
Out: None

CARLTON

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

Emerg: B.Vernon 31 J.Doonan 26

In: None
Out: None

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

Tip: Fremantle by 21

WESTERN BULLDOGS

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

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

FREMANTLE

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

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

Tip: Adelaide by 18

ADELAIDE

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

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

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

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

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

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

Michael Alvaro

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

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

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

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

Tip: Gold Coast by 13

WEST COAST

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

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

GOLD COAST

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

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

ROUND 6 TIPS: [Total tips in brackets]

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

QAFLW weekly wrap: Devils join Roos and Bluebirds as undefeated sides

THREE teams still remain unbeaten in the Queensland Australian Football League Women’s (QAFLW) competition after Round 2 results. The only side to go down after a win in Round 1 was Wilston Grange who suffered defeat at the hands of Yeronga South Brisbane. The Devils remained undefeated in season 2020 along with Coolangatta Tweed and Maroochydore, whilst Bond University got on the board in convincing fashion.

QAFLW Round 2 Results:

Coolangatta Tweed 6.7 (43) defeated Aspley Hornets 2.4 (16)
Yeronga South Brisbane 9.5 (59) defeated Wilston Grange 4.5 (29)
Bond University 8.8 (56) defeated University of Queensland 0.1 (1)
Maroochydore 7.3 (45) defeated Coorparoo 4.5 (29)

In the opening match of the round, one goal umpire did not have much to do, as Coolangatta Tweed maintained their strong start to the season with a 27-point victory over Aspley Hornets. The wind-affected game meant one end of the ground did not see a single score all game, whilst all of the combined 8.11 went up the other end of the ground. Neither side could capitalise in the opening term with Aspley booting three behinds – the only scores of the quarter. The Bluebirds responded with the wind in the second term, adding 2.4 before the Hornets levelled the scores at the final break using the same wind. Despite the game being delicately poised at the last change, the Bluebirds took full advantage of the wind in the final term, piling on 4.3 to run out that exact score margin of 27 points. Brisbane Lions’ AFL Women’s duo Selena Priest (two goals) and Sally Riley (one) had an impact up forward, whilst Casey Samuels and Madeleine Resinger were named the best from the winning side. Michaela Campbell and Rachel Crawford both booted goals for the Hornets, while Courtney Daniec was the best for the losing side.

Yeronga South Brisbane maintained its undefeated start to the season with an impressive five-goal win over fellow Round 1 winner, Wilston Grange at home.The Devils held the Gorillas scoreless in the opening term, before the visitors fought back to cut the 19-point quarter time deficit to just 11 by the main break. Yeronga South Brisbane again held Wilston Grange scoreless after the half-time break, whilst adding 1.2 to extend the lead out to 19. Instead of allowing the Gorillas to hit back, the Devils booted the first three goals of the term to put away any thought of a comeback on their way to a 30-point victory. Madison Goodwin was one of Yeronga South Brisbane’s best, booting two goals alongside other multiple goalkickers, Natalie Thomas and Courtney McDonnell. Brisbane Lions’ duo, Lucy Bellinger and Gabby Collingwood both represented the Devils and booted goals, whilst Renee Cowan and Emmii-Lee Zanker-Close were named among the best. Sarah Fuller and Ellen Mizzi were deemed the Gorillas’ best in the win, whilst Kristen Tyquin and Kaitlyn Day were also impressive despite the loss.

Bond University bounced back from a shock loss in Round 1 to easily breeze past University of Queensland in Round 2. The Bull Sharks booted eight goals from 16 scoring shots to the Red Lionesses’ one behind during the 55-point smashing at home. The home side booted three goals in the opening term, and whilst the Red Lionesses managed to contain them after that with just five goals for the remainder of the game, the Bull Sharks were just too strong defensively and offensively. AFL Women’s National Academy Maddison Levi booted two goals in a best on ground performance, whilst Lydia Pingel also kicked a couple of majors. Brisbane Lions representative, Taylor Smith kicked a goal and looked impressive in the Bull Sharks win, whilst Shannon Danckert and Annie Muir also contributed well. For the Red Lionesses, Tiarna Jericho and Jessi Henning were nominated as the best for the losing side.

Maroochydore’s strong start to the season continued as well in Round 2 with a 16-point triumph over Coorparoo. In a see-sawing contest, the Kings led for the majority of the match, but a three goals to zero final term resulted in the Roos skipping away with the win. Coorparoo started well with two goals to one in the opening term, before the Roos hit back in the second quarter to only be a point behind at the main break. A titanic struggle ensued in the premiership quarter as the Kings extended the lead to two points as both sides booted a goal, before Maroochydore broke away with a three goals to zero final term to win, 7.3 (45) to 4.5 (29). Ashleigh Hales booted two goals in the win, while counterpart forward, Coorparoo’s Kelsey Crosbie also booted two majors. Tayla Gersch was named the Roos’ best in the win, while Ruby McDowell and Chloe Gregory both booted a goal and were instrumental in the victory. Cooparoo’s Jade Ellenger and Tahlia Hickie used their experience with the Brisbane side to be named the best two for the Kings, while Abbey Brokken was also among the top players on the ground.

QAFLW Development League Round 2 results:

Coolangatta Tweed 7.13 (55) defeated Aspley Hornets 3.2 (20)
Maroochydore 2.2 (14)
defeated Coorparoo 1.0 (6)
Yeronga South Brisbane 6.5 (41) 
defeated Wilston Grange 3.5 (23)
Bond University 9.22 (76) defeated University of Queensland 0.0 (0)

Bond University’s flawless start to the season continued with a 76-point thrashing of University of Queensland, as the Bull Sharks kept their opposition from scoring two consecutive weeks. Lily Tarlinton booted three goals and was named among the best for the winners, as Montana Williams, Jasmyn Davidson and former South Australian Under-18 captain, Esther Boles all booting two majors as well. Georgia Hutton was named best on ground in the win, whilst Natalie Koehler and Portia Ward were among the best for the Red Lionesses. Also remaining undefeated was Yeronga South Brisbane by triumphing over Wilston Grange. After trailing by a goal at half-time, the Devils booted four goals to zero to run away with the contest by 19 points. Laura David (two goals) and Samantha Hopkin (one) starred in the Devils’ victory, whilst Rachel Fillmore and Montana Dove were strong for the Gorillas.

In the other two games, Maroochydore won by eight points over Coorparoo in a low-scoring contest. The Roos were held scoreless for the first half, but booted two third quarter goals whilst keeping the Kings scoreless after quarter time. It was enough to get the win in a 2.2 (14) to 1.0 (6) match, with Taylah Whitehead and Zoe Smith the two goalkickers for the winners. Angela Doyle was named the best for the Roos in the win, whilst Renee Keith and Renee Teys were both impressive for the Kings. Finally, Coolangatta Tweed got up by 35 points over Aspley Hornets in a 7.13 (55) to 3.2 (20) at home. Neesa Doyle kicked two goals in a best on ground performance for the Bluebirds, whilst Faith Alchin also snagged a couple of majors and stood out in the victory. Carissa Jordan kicked two goals for the Hornets during the loss, while Kathleen Page and Jordan McConnell were both among the best in the loss.

QAFLW weekly wrap: First round of action provides surprises

THE 2020 Queensland Football League Women’s (QAFLW) competition and  Development League began last week with a number of tight contests at senior level, and one-sided results at the development level to kick off the new season.

QAFLW results:

Bond University 5.3 (33) defeated by Coolangatta Tweed 5.8 (38)
Wilston Grange 4.3 (27) defeated University of Queensland 2.4 (16)
Yeronga South Brisbane 11.3 (69) defeated Coorparoo 7.12 (54)
Aspley Hornets 0.1 (1) defeated by Maroochydore 8.8 (56)

Coolangatta Tweed caused an early upset in the season, downing last year’s minor premiers and grand finalists, Bond University by five points on the road. It as a tight contest early with neither side able to get a goal on the board, but that soon changed in the second term with the Bluebirds booting two goals to one and heading into the main break with a seven-point advantage. They extended their lead to 16 by the final break, but the Bull Sharks refused to give in, booting three of the final four goals of the match to fight back only to fall short by five points in the end. Lydia Pingel booted two majors in a losing side, while eight other goalkickers got their names in the books. Lauren James was adjudged best afield for the Bluebirds whilst booting a goal, while Grace Moodie and Alexandra Hamlyn were also impressive in the win, as was Sally Riley who returned to the level after playing AFL Women’s and booted a goal. Wallis Randell was named the best for the Bull Sharks, with Arianna Clarke and AFL Women’s National Academy member, Maddison Levi (one goal) also amongst the best on the losing side.

Wilston Grange started the season on a high note, grinding out an 11-point win over University of Queensland. The Gorillas booted the only goal of the first term, and held the Red Lionesses goalless in the third quarter to edge ahead at each break a little bit more. In the end, Wilston Grange won 4.3 (27) to 2.4 (16), with all single goalkickers in the match. Ruby Ker was best on ground in the win, while Mackenzie Findlay and Kaitlyn Day were also among the best for the Gorillas. Isobel Hartog was the best for the losers, while Madi Crowley-Long and Xanthe Cerutti were top players for the visitors.

In a replay of last year’s preliminary final, Yeronga South Brisbane exacted sweet revenge over Coorparoo with an 11.3 (69) to 7.12 (54) victory. The Devils had some serious AFL Women’s talent at their disposal with Jordan Zanchetta putting on a clinic with a goal and starring role for the winning side. Lucy Bellinger booted two goals on debut for the Devils, as the home side’s accuracy proved the difference. With five less scoring shots and held goalless in the first term, Yeronga South Brisbane fired up, particularly in the final term when they piled on four goals to run out 15-point winners. Lexia Edwards and Sarah Duncan also booted a couple of goals each, while Vanessa Hart was impressive for the winners. Kelsey Crosbie could not have done much more up forward for the Kings, booting four goals, well aided by Emma McKenzie. Brisbane’s Jade Ellenger – one of the best on ground – and Hannah Hillman also impressed, while Charlize Anderson – sister of Lions AFL Women’s player Ally – also showed promising signs.

It could be another long year for 2019 wooden spooners, Aspley Hornets after suffering a 55-point loss at the hands of a raging Maroochydore outfit. The Roos showed they meant business from the get-go piling on four first quarter goals to hold the Hornets scoreless. Both sides could only manage a behind in the second term, before the visitors picked up again, booting 4.6 to 0.0 in the second half to run out easy 8.8 (56) to 0.1 (1) winners. Queensland 2019 Under-18 representative Chloe Gregory, as well as Ashleigh Hales and Mikayla Pauga both booted a couple of goals in the win, while AFL Women’s National Academy member, Bella Smith and Kathryn Hehir impressed in the victory. For the Hornets, Courtney Daniec and Shaye Easton were adjudged the top players.

Looking ahead to Round 2 this weekend, Coolangatta Tweed will look to build on its performance with a clash against last placed Aspley Hornets, while Yeronga South Brisbane and Wilston Grange go head-to-head in arguably the two most impressive outfits from Round 1. Also in Round 2 is reigning premiers Coorparoo desperate to bounce back against a red-hot Maroochydore side, while Bond University and University of Queensland do battle to get on the board in season 2020.

QAFLW Development League results:

Wilston Grange 9.8 (62) defeated University of Queensland 2.0 (12)
Bond University 3.8 (26) defeated Coolangatta Tweed 0.0 (0)
Yeronga South Brisbane 7.10 (52) defeated Coorparoo 1.0 (6)
Aspley Hornets 3.1 (19) defeated by Maroochydore 4.14 (38)

Wilston Grange opened the season hoping to last an extra week than 2019, with a triumphant 9.8 (62) to 2.0 (12) win over University of Queensland under lights at Kedron – E.K Andersen Oval. Kitty Adams put in a best-on-ground performance in the win, booting four goals as her side had 11 scoring shots to zero by half-time. The Red Lionesses fought back by booting the only two goals of the third term to cut the deficit to 25 – courtesy of Jane Childes and Meagan Cook – but it would prove futile as the Gorillas piled on 4.1 to 0.0 in the last term to run away with a 50-point victory. Along with Adams, Katie McGlade booted two goals, while Luka Yoshida-Martin (one) was also named in the best. Amy Cahill was the top player on the losing side.

Reigning premiers, Bond University kicked off its season with a terrific low-scoring win over Coolangatta Tweed. The Bull Sharks held the Bluebirds scoreless for the entirety of the game, booting 3.8 (26) to 0.0 (0) as Jess Maher was the hero up forward booting the only goals in the match. Despite inaccuracy at times, the home team proved too good and will be a force to be reckoned with again, hosting names such as AFL Women’s National Academy member, Teagan Levi and 2019 Queensland Under-18 representative, Lily Tarlinton who were both named in the team’s best. For the Bluebirds, while they did not manage to hit the scoreboard, they did keep one of the benchmarks to just three goals. Eilish Grundon and Tayla Jay Daly were both named in the best for the losing side.

Last year’s wooden spooners have already won more matches than they did in 2019, smashing last year’s grand finalists by 46 points in an eye-opening encounter at home. Yeronga South Brisbane was simply sensational across four quarters against Coorparoo, steadily building the lead with a three goals to one third term the highlight of the game. Inaccuracy might have cost them from an even bigger win in the eventual 7.10 (52) to 1.0 (6) victory, but it is fair to say the Devils would have enjoyed the win over such quality opposition. Laura David booted two majors and was one of the Devils’ best, while Kai Bliesner and Madison Satyasiv also managed a couple of goals for the home team. Sherie Sayle booted the only goal for the Kings, while Lydia Blunt and Rose Collins were among the losing sides’ best.

In the final game of the round, Maroochydore doubled Aspley Hornets’ score during an inaccurate 4.14 (38) to 3.1 (19) victory. It was close in the opening term with the Roos leading by just enough points, but the visiting team held the Hornets scoreless over the next two quarters whilst booting 2.8 and peppering the goals. They could only manage a further four behinds in the final quarter as Aspley added 2.1 to its total, but it would be too little, too late going down by 19 points. Marybeth Banks was the only multiple goalkicker in the game with two majors, while Te Aorangi Jordan and Brooke Matheson were also impressive for the winning side. Looking at the Hornets, Jordan McConnell stood tall with a goal and named the losing side’s best player, as Ella Martin and Teegan Stevenson were also among the best.

In Round 2, Coolangatta Tweed and Aspley Hornets go at it to try and get their first wins on the board, while Coorparoo travels to Marochydore to bounce back from its disappointing Round 1 defeat. Yeronga South Brisbane surprised everyone in the opening round and will be keen to keep it rolling against Wilston Grange, while Bond University takes on University of Queensland in a match where the home team will be considered heavy favourites.

AFL Women’s Round 1 preview: Four new teams begin elite journey

AFTER nine months of waiting, AFL Women’s 4.0 is here and four more teams enter the fray in a bid to take home the 2020 premiership. Adelaide won its second title in three years last season, with the Western Bulldogs the only other premiership winner in the competition. With the Crows wounded and plenty of movement over the off-season for the four news side – Gold Coast, Richmond, St Kilda and West Coast – this round is set to answer quite a few questions.

Friday, February 7

Richmond v Carlton at Ikon Park, 7.45pm AEDT

Peter Williams

The opening night of AFL Women’s 4.0 is under lights at Ikon Park with a familiar feel, but a bit of a twist. Yet again, Carlton opens the season, but instead of Collingwood (as it was in the first two seasons), it will now be Richmond – mirroring the AFL Men’s competition season opener. A lot can change in 12 months, and this time last year Carlton was coming off a wooden spoon with a new coach in charge looking for some respect in the competition. Now looking ahead to 2020, the Blues are fresh off a Grand Final appearance and hungry to go one better.

The big question mark for the Blues in this match will be how they go without their inaugural captain in Brianna Davey who switched to Collingwood for a war chest of draft picks. They should not have to look too far for a replacement with Geelong Falcons premiership skipper, Lucy McEvoy immediately entering the fray for her debut alongside Richmond VFLW and former Murray Bushrangers’ utility, Grace Egan. Both provide a hard edge to the side and crack into a team that is hard to find a spot. Their defence is still relatively inexperienced compared to others, so Kerryn Harrington will be crucial in settling them down back there. Interestingly, exciting forward Darcy Vescio has been named in the centre, which makes for a dynamic contest against fellow traditional forward, Katie Brennan.

The Tigers have a tonne of debutants which does not come as a surprise considering it is Richmond’s inaugural match. First year draftees, Sophie Molan (GWV Rebels), Sarah Sansonetti (Northern Knights) and Laura McClelland (Eastern Ranges) headline the young talent, but the depth of the midfield from the likes of Kodi Jacques (Bendigo Pioneers) and Maddy Brancatisano (Northern Knights via Melbourne AFLW) will be great to see. Monique Conti and Christina Bernardi are the class players, and Carlton will need to find a way to limit their influence. In saying that, with Madison Prespakis and Sarah Hosking in midfield, expect the Blues to get on top through the middle with that extra hard edge. Carlton should win this game based on experience and more readymade players, but Richmond should show some fight and give their fans something to smile about for 2020.

Tip: Carlton by 15.

RICHMOND

B: R.Miller 15 G.Seymour 28
HB: S.Sansonetti 18 P.Monahan 2 A.Makur Chuot 34
C: S.Molan 1 K.Brennan – C 3 H.Burchell 9
HF: S.Frederick 14 C.Bernardi 6 T.Stahl 24
F: C.Wakefield 8 L.McClelland 16
Foll: A.Edmonds 11 M.Conti 4 A.Woodward 13
I/C: L.Tesoriero 7 L.Bailey 12 K.Jacques 10 M.Brancatisano 5 H.Whitford 20
Emerg: C.Fitzgerald 26 E.Wood 17

CARLTON

B: N.Plane 32 C.Wilson 20
HB: K.Harrington – C 9 V.Laloifi 8 J.Van Dyk 36
C: S.Hosking 10 D.Vescio 3 C.Dalton 15
HF: N.Stevens 21 T.Harris 7 J.Doonan 26
F: A.Downie 30 B.Walker 14
Foll: B.Moody 16 K.Loynes 2 M.Prespakis 4
I/C: L.Brazzale 12 G.Pound 6 G.Egan 1 L.McEvoy 13 G.Gee 19
Emerg: J.Edwards 25 A.McKay 5

Saturday, February 8

Greater Western Sydney v Gold Coast, Blacktown International Sportspark, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

While these two sides are the newest teams in AFL Men’s, GWS GIANTS are the far more experienced team in AFL Women’s. One of eight inaugural sides in the competition, they welcome the Gold Coast SUNS to the league at Blacktown in a Saturday afternoon blockbuster. While most Victorian fans might be more focused on games either side of his match, the game is expected to answer a lot of questions, particularly about Gold Coast and where they might be at in their preparation for their inaugural season.

The SUNS on paper have talent, it is just trying to piece it all together and gel, which might take some time for it to work. Jamie Stanton remarkably plays in her third inaugural game for a side, having previously represented Brisbane (2017) and North Melbourne (2019). She will need to use all of her experience to lead a young team into battle, with essentially Tiarna Ernst in midfield, Leah Kaslar down forward and Sam Virgo in defence as the others who can provide that extra experience. Former Crows, Sally Riley and Jasmyn Hewett will no doubt give insight into their last club’s success, but the ones to watch are more so the young talent. Alexia Hamilton is a high-flying tall who can take a grab, Lauren Bella is a developing tap ruck, and both Serene Watson and Dee Heslop are talented young defenders who will only get better with more exposure. You cannot discount Hannah Dunn either, with the former Norwood ball winner thrown straight into the midfield.

Bella will have her work cut out for her against arguably the best pure ruck in the competition – Erin McKinnon. She leads a loaded midfield of Rebecca Beeson, new captain Alicia Eva, young gun Alyce Parker, Jes Dal Pos and Nicola Barr. Despite the last minute retirement of Amanda Farrugia, the GIANTS look as strong as ever on paper, with just the question marks coming over whether they can continue their form from last season on a more consistent basis. Pepa Randall is a great asset to have off half-back, and their experienced defence should be able to contain the SUNS like it did against Brisbane in the practice match not long ago. Cora Staunton continues to be a dangerous option wherever she plays, while Haneen Zreika showed promising signs in her games last year. You would imagine the GIANTS will kick their season off with a strong win here, as the SUNS are young and while they will get there, are not quite in the same window as the GIANTS – but watch out when they are fully developed.

Tip: GWS by 35.

GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY

B: L.Stephenson 12 T. Hetherington 9
HB: P.Randall 21 E.Brush 10 E.Bennetts 22
C: J.Dal Pos 7 A.Eva – C 2 N.Barr 8
HF: H. Zreika 24 C.Staunton 13 A.Schmidt 11
F: J.Hicks 5 R. Privitelli 19
Foll: E.McKinnon 23 R. Beeson 6 A.Parker 3
I/C: Y.Bonner 27 I.Nielsen 25 J.Allan 39 A.Lister 14 B.Tully 36
Emerg: L. Steane 20 T. Mackrill 32

GOLD COAST

B: J.Pregelj 42 J.Hickey 4
HB: S.Virgo 22 L.Ahrens 7 C.Hammond 29
C: T.Ernst 19 J.Stanton 17 M.Ritson 12
HF: B.Perry 16 A.Hamilton 30 P.Parker 1
F: L.Kaslar – C 11 K.Surman 26
Foll: L.Bella 2 J.Yorston 5 H.Dunn 24
I/C: S.Watson 14 J.Hewett 20 S.Riley 8 D.Heslop 25 K.Howarth 23
Emerg: T.Thorn 15 M.Roberts 10

Melbourne v North Melbourne, Casey Fields, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

Two of last season’s most unlucky finals absentees meet in a cross-conference grudge match, as Melbourne and North Melbourne go head-to-head at Casey Fields. One of the inaugural AFLW sides, the Demons will be seeking to add ultimate glory to an already storied history this year, but an opening fixture against one of the flag favourites makes for a tough initiation. While the Dees’ four wins were only good enough for fourth place in Conference A, the Roos’ can count themselves even more unfortunate as two losses at the end of their maiden campaign saw them heartbreakingly miss finals. Still, with a stacked squad and added depth, North Melbourne have a great opportunity to bounce back in 2020 – starting here.

Scott Gowans‘ side fared well in the off-season to bare no major changes, losing only three players to newly-established clubs and bringing in some mature-aged depth come draft time to hint at a real flag tilt. Sarah Wright and Ellie Gavalas are two VFL Women’s standouts who landed on the Roos’ list and are set to debut off the bench on Saturday, adding some grunt to the already hardened North Melbourne midfield led by skipper, Emma Kearney. There may be some goals to make up inside attacking 50 given 2019 equal-leading goalkicker Mo Hope was unceremoniously delisted, but ruck-forward Emma King has shown her worth in front of the big sticks, while Kate Gillespie-Jones is a capable tall foil and Kaitlyn Ashmore could rotate through the forward line from midfield alongside Jasmine Garner. With the midfield battle a relative stalemate, depth across the ground will be key to the cause of either side.

The Dees will be buoyed by the long-awaited return of captain and women’s football pioneer, Daisy Pearce, who is set to be eased in off half-back given her side’s strength through the middle. Her presence in the back five alongside boom recruit, Libby Birch will be important given the danger North’s forward flankers present, with her trademark ball use sure to make a difference. Further afield, and Melbourne is one of the few sides which boasts an engine room to match the grunt of North’s, with Karen Paxman set to lead the line next to Elise O’Dea and young gun, Tyla Hanks while further depth lies on the bench. The forward half was seldom an issue for the Dees last year too, so their even spread points toward a cracking contest. While Melbourne will come in as a slight underdog, the Demons’ experienced movers and the fact they managed just one fewer win than North during last campaign without Pearce means they stand a real chance here, and could become an instant frontrunner in Conference B with a win. But North Melbourne has proven had to look past despite struggling against the top sides, so should come up trumps.

Tip: North Melbourne by 7.

MELBOURNE

B: L.Birch 9 M.Downie 2
HB: G.Colvin 32 S.Goldrick 23 D.Pearce – C 6
C: C.Sherriff 18 T.Hanks 28 C.Emonson 11
HF: K.Hore 10 E.Zanker 29 S.Scott 12
F: T.Cunningham 1 A.Newman 16
Foll: H.Cordner 21 K.Paxman 4 E.O’Dea 5
I/C: S.Heath 30 M.Gay 3 M.Guerin 22 A.Kemp 36 S.Lampard 8
Emerg: B.Tarrant 20 K.Petrevski 31

NORTH MELBOURNE

B: T.Randall 16 B.Gibson 18
HB: T.Nestor 24 D.Hardiman 31 B.Lynch 20
C: J.Trend 21 A.Riddell 7 J.Bruton 35
HF: S.Abbatangelo 1 K.Gillespie-Jones 5 El.King 4
F: Em.King 60 K.Ashmore 10
Foll: V.Saad 39 J.Garner 25 E.Kearney – C 9
I/C: D.Bannister 2 A.Gilroy 8 D.Bateman 11 S.Wright 17 E.Gavalas 22
Emerg: N.Bresnehan 12 J.Grierson 19

Brisbane v Adelaide, Hickey Park, 4.10pm AEST

Michael Alvaro

Inaugural AFLW sides and Conference A rivals, Brisbane and Adelaide are primed to kick off their seasons in the Sunshine State, with the visiting reigning premiers out to defend their 2019 flag in 2020. The Crows were nothing short of dominant during last year’s campaign, going down only in the first regular season round before deservedly being crowned premiers in front of an adoring Adelaide Oval crowd – packed to the brim, no less. Adelaide has only added to its already deep squad over the off-season, despite being dealt a cruel blow weeks out with star defender Chelsea Randall ruled out for the year, but will come as the clear competition benchmark. On the other hand, Brisbane struggled throughout 2019 to notch just two wins having been repeatedly depleted throughout the off-season, but can lean on a reliable spine despite another 15-player coming out of its squad.

The Lions will field eight debutants in its Round 1 side, with top draftees and Academy graduates Lily Postlethwaite and Belle Dawes set to make theirs off the interchange bench. The 2018 best and fairest, Kate Lutkins leads the back six alongside mature-age recruit, Cathy Svarc, while skipper and stalwart Emma Zielke lines up on the wing outside of midfield jets, Ally Anderson and Emily Bates. Recent lightning strike survivor Jess Wuetschner will lead the forward line with Sophie Conway bringing some youthful exuberance and Lauren Arnell, the hard-edged experience. The Lions’ inability to put massive scores on the board will need to be rectified given Adelaide’s strength in that area, with added midfield strength – albeit through draftees – key to ensuring the forwards are given enough opportunity.

The Crows have had to adjust heavily, naming five debutants of their own with further injuries seeing the magnets shuffled before Round 1. Angela Foley and Marijana Rajcic will hold up the defence as Ebony Marinoff moves into midfield to replace recovering reigning MVP Erin Phillips, with Randall’s absence leaving a gaping hole in the back five. Stand-in skipper Jessica Foley is set to ruck with Montana McKinnon also unavailable, while a couple of late changes see emergencies Jaimi Tabb and Caitlin Gould slot in as Sophie Li and Courtney Cramey come out. It is a lot to make good for and while if any side has the depth to cover such losses, it is the Crows, Adelaide proved slow starters against a team it would normally beat last year – making for a bad omen. But even so, the Crows’ depth seems enough to overcome the changes, with a wealth of experience and the confidence of a premiership side holding up their chances. The Lions may struggle this season, but expect them to give it a red hot crack early on.

Tip: Adelaide by 30

BRISBANE

B: N.Grider 10 S.Campbell 20
HB: R.Lugg 11 K.Lutkins 13 C.Svarc 25
C: E.Zielke – C 8 B.Koenen 3 S.Webb 4
HF: L.Arnell 16 J.Tawhiao-Wardlaw 30 S.Conway 12
F: D.Davidson 14 J.Wuetschner 23
Foll: J.Keeffe 27 A.Anderson 18 E.Bates 1
I/C: G.Bodey 15 M.Moloney 28 I.Dawes 17 O.O’Dwyer 9 L.Postlethwaite 6
Emerg: J.Zanchetta 2 G.Collingwood 7

ADELAIDE

B: D.Cox 31 S.Allan 39
HB: A.Foley 3 M.Rajcic 32 N.Campbell 20
C: R.Forth 27 E.Marinoff 10 J.Mules 23
HF: D.Ponter 15 C.Gum 5 C.Gould 1
F: S.Thompson 14 E.Jones 2
Foll: J.Foley – C 24 A.Hatchard 33 N.Allen 8
I/C: 22 M.Newman 17 A.Considine 16 C.Biddell 12 N.Gore 7 J.Tabb
Emerg: R. Martin, C. Cavouras

Sunday, February 9

Collingwood v West Coast, Victoria Park, 1.10pm AEDT

Peter Williams

Heading back to Collingwood’s traditional home, the Magpies will no doubt give one of the AFL Women’s newest sides a hostile environment from which to make their debut in the competition. Fresh in supporters minds will be the Eagles’ men’s side triumph a couple of years ago in the AFL Grand Final, and with the new kids on the block entering the Magpies nest, it will certainly be a match to watch. Collingwood has been far from successful so far in its short history, failing to make finals and picking up a wooden spoon each year, leading to a coach change in Steve Symonds. West Coast join Fremantle in the west and picked up a host of recycled players to try and get them off to the best possible start.

For the first time in some time, the Magpies head into a match as favourites, having finished the year on a high last year following a victory over Brisbane. They came close against a number of sides, but showed they were gradually working as a cohesive unit following a massive upheaval over the previous off-season. After targeting youth the year before, the Magpies picked up the recruit of the off-season in Davey, who immediately adds grunt and class to an onball group that lacked a bit of pizazz. Sharni Layton‘s improvement in the ruck has been phenomenal, and along with VFL Women’s leading goal kicker and disposal winner, Jaimee Lambert, the Magpies will back themselves to win against most midfields. The only possibly bigger name to don the black and white this round is Chloe Molloy who returns after missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. The 2018 AFL Women’s Rising Star has been named in attack after making her name in defence during that season. With Ash Brazill‘s stunning transformation from netballer to footballer, it has allowed Molloy to play in attack and along with Sarah D’Arcy create some scoring opportunities. Oakleigh Chargers’ speedster Alana Porter makes her debut in the side, so watch for her set of wheels as along with the likes of Sarah Rowe and captain Steph Chiocci, give the Magpies some outside run.

While the Magpies will start favourites, the Eagles have gone about recruiting some important players to their line-up. Former Fremantle star Dana Hooker is every bit an equal to the Magpies’ Davey, while former GIANTS’ onballer Emma Swanson and Lambert will have an equally important head-to-head. Kellie Gibson and Ashlee Atkins will be looked upon to provide some goals, while Talia Radan will try to hold down the defence, with the former Adelaide and Melbourne player amongst a host of young stars. McKenzie Dowrick will be better for last year crossing back to her home state from Queensland, while Mikayla Bowen is as talented as any other player entering the AFL Women’s from the Under 18s last year. Former hockey player, Sophie McDonald has been thrown in the deep end to hold down centre half-back, while former Hawthorn VFL Women’s premiership player and best on ground in the premiership, Chantella Perera also has been named on an extended interchange to make her potential debut. The Eagles will give the Magpies a run for their money, and it would not be a complete shock to see the new side get a win, but the Magpies have built more depth, have more experience and are at home, so expect them to get up in a close one.

Tip: Collingwood by 12.

COLLINGWOOD

B: A.Porter 9 S.Livingstone 12
HB: L.Butler 23 A.Brazill 10 S.Casey 22
C: M.Shevlin 35 B.Bonnici 8 S.Chiocci – C 17
HF: C.Molloy 2 S.D’Arcy 4 S.Dargan 46
F: M.Cann 25 J.Allen 6
Foll: S.Layton 1 B.Davey 3 J.Lambert 13
I/C: E.O’Dea 50 E.Fowler 15 S.Alexander 24 J.Membrey 21 S.Rowe 7 E.Hynes 11 A.Sheridan 14

WEST COAST

B: B.Smith 14 T.Radan 26
HB: M.Dowrick 5 S.McDonald 35 A.Hill 16
C: M.Bowen 1 I.Cameron 19 N.Kelly 12
HF: K.Gibson 2 A.Atkins 9 M.Collier 8
F: G.Kelly 15 D.Pisconeri 11
Foll: P.Laurie 25 D.Hooker 17 E.Swanson – C 13
I/C: T.Tester 23 C.Guard 4 H.Bullas 24 B.Devlyn 7 C.Perera 27 E.Bonser 6 K.Orme 32

St Kilda v Western Bulldogs, RSEA Park, 3.10pm AEDT

Michael Alvaro

St Kilda is set to become the fourth of the expansion clubs to take centre stage in Round 1, facing a tough Conference B initiation against inaugural AFLW club, Western Bulldogs. Fielding a side which combines plenty of experience and a blooding of exciting youth, the Saints will have to work for their maiden elite-level win with the Bulldogs a potential season 2020 climber. Under the guidance of new coach, Nathan Burke and with a number one pick in tow, the Bulldogs are primed to rectify the two-win season which saw them finish last in Conference A.

There could be as many as six Western Bulldogs debutants with draftees Gemma Lagioia and Hannah Munyard among seven players named on an extended bench. Confirmed in the starting line-up are star draftee Gabby Newton and internally-hyped Western product Elizabeth Georgostathis; both primed to initially make an impact up forward, with the potential to move further afield – somewhat in the place or mould of now-Tigers, Katie Brennan and Monique Conti. The pair will join stalwarts Bonnie Toogood and Deanna Berry inside forward 50, with Ellie Blackburn and Isabel Huntington making up the remainder of a very strong spine. The Dogs will lean on those experienced movers to keep themselves in games, but a much-welcomed injection of youth will make them a team which proves easy on the eye.

For the Saints, all three co-captains in Cat PhillipsKate Shierlaw and Rhiannon Watt have been named to lead out the new team, with plenty of recognisable names to keep an eye on among each line. Top five draftee Georgia Patrikios has been named up forward, but will likely drift up to a wing or into the midfield given her undeniable class on the ball, while pre-listed draftee Molly McDonald takes up one of those starting wing spots. With an extended bench of seven also set to be narrowed down, there could be even more pace and young stars to come into the fold immediately. An unknown entity, the Saints should come in with nothing to lose and throw caution to the wind with most expecting the Bulldogs to salute in this fixture. We are in that boat.

ST KILDA

B: T.White 29 C.Fitzpatrick 24
HB: H.Priest 14 C.Phillips 35 T.Lucas-Rodd 18
C: K.O’Neill 20 J.Sedunary 10 M.McDonald 1
HF: N.Exon 15 K.McCarthy 9 C.Greiser 17
F: K.Shierlaw 12 G.Patrikios 21
Foll: R.Watt – C 7 O.Vesely 23 E.Mackie 3
I/C: N.Von Bertouch 28 P.Kelly 16 R.Dillon 25 A.Drennan 8 C.Whitfort 4 N.Xenos 27 A.Brown 2

WESTERN BULLDOGS

B: A.Gogos 36 L.Spark 11
HB: E.Gamble 14 I.Huntington 4 N.Ferres 16
C: B.Hunt 21 K.Lamb 27 N.Callinan 10
HF: G.Newton 5 B.Toogood 8 K.McLeod 6
F: E.Georgostathis 17 D.Berry 7
Foll: C.Moody 13 E.Blackburn – C 2 A.McCarthy 15
I/C: D.Marshall 26 K.Rennie 24 G.Lagioia 12 H.Scott 22 K.Herron 31 E.Brown 9 H.Munyard 20

Tip: Western Bulldogs by 20.

Fremantle v Geelong, Fremantle Oval, 2.10pm AWST

Peter Williams

In the final game of the AFL Women’s Round 1, last year’s preliminary final losers go head-to-head at Fremantle Oval. The Dockers host Geelong with a renewed optimism that they can match it with the top sides in the competition, and it will be a good test to see how they have recovered after being pillaged by West Coast in the off-season. The Cats were up and down last season, but have remained relatively untouched, and should go in as favourites based on the list changes. In a quirk, Mia-Rae Clifford will run out in the purple against her former side following her delisting and then free agency acquirement.

The home side will thrive on running out in front of a home crowd, and have named a number of young stars in the team who will drive the team forward over the next few years. Kara Antonio (nee Donnellan) will captain the side, and alongside partner, Ebony Antonio will try and maintain some balance to a team that has lost a number of quality players, led by the departure of star talent, Hooker. Tackling machine, Kiara Bowers and goal sneak Ashlee Sharp still remain as dangers to any opposition, while Gemma Houghton will have big shoes to fill with Parris Laurie leaving for the Eagles among a number of rucks departing the club. Sabreena Duffy got used to the level by season’s end in 2019, and is a future leader of the club, and now she is joined by a number of talented Under 18s stars. Roxanne Roux is a high-flying forward who will provide plenty of highlights over the next few years, while Mim Strom is an athletic ruck who has developed rapidly. While the Dockers side might have lost some star talent, they have also headed to the draft to pick up some more, and you can imagine they will be competitive in 2020.

Geelong might have stayed relatively untouched over the off-season, but have welcomed back a rising star in Nina Morrison. The number one pick in the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft was unbelievable on debut against Collingwood 12 months ago, but then injured her knee and missed the next 12 months. She returns to the Round 1 side and has been named on a wing, hoping to repeat the effort from 2019. She is joined in the midfield by fellow 2018 draftees, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Olivia Purcell. Denby Taylor, Rebecca Webster and debutant, Millie Brown are all in the back five, held down by experienced skipper, Mel Hickey. Richelle Cranston has that X-factor about her in midfield, and Georgia Clarke looks set for a role change up forward with the former GWV Rebels’ defender named there with goalkicking machine, Phoebe McWilliams. The Cats will be confident heading into this match, with coach Paul Hood no doubt having them ripe and ready to go after a finals appearance in their inaugural season last year. The road trip can be a challenge, but if you are going to do it, at least they have it first up off a long break.

Tip: Geelong by 2 points.

FREMANTLE

B: J.Cuthbertson 29 L.Pugh 32
HB: A.Stannett 24 E.Gooch 8 E.Antonio 12
C: S.Cain 20 L.Rohde 11 K.Flood 44
HF: K.Grieve 13 A.Sharp 1 H.Miller 19
F: G.O’Sullivan 22 S.Duffy 6
Foll: G.Houghton 27 K.Bowers 2 K.Antonio – C 15
I/C: P.Seth 18 L.Mascall 14 B.Webb 26 R.Roux 17 J.Stewart 7 M.Strom 21 M.Clifford 4

GEELONG

B: M.Brown 19 M.McMahon 24
HB: D.Taylor 28 M.Hickey – C 18 R.Webster 21
C: S.Van De Heuvel 27 R.Cranston 30 N.Morrison 9
HF: D.Higgins 2 G.Clarke 17 R.Garing 12
F: P.McWilliams 23 J.Ivey 5
Foll: A.O’Connor 14 J.Crockett-Grills 6 O.Purcell 16
I/C: A.McDonald 3 G.Rankin 10 A.Teague 40 R.Goring 44 R.Caris 1 M.Maguire 7 M.Keryk 45

ROUND 1 TIPS:

Michael Alvaro [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Taylah Melki [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Fremantle
Sophie Taylor [0]: Richmond / GWS / Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / St Kilda / Fremantle
Peter Williams [0]: Carlton / GWS / North Melbourne / Adelaide / Collingwood / Western Bulldogs / Geelong

2019/20 AFLW off-season review: Gold Coast

IN the first of our four AFL Women’s expansion clubs off-season reviews, we take a look at the Gold Coast SUNS, the second Queensland team to join the competition. The SUNS already have a healthy rivalry with Brisbane given the Winter Series that has been a source of competition during the off-season, as well as plenty of Academy players playing alongside those from the Brisbane Academy in the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships.

Being an expansion side, the SUNS were able to pre-list nine players prior to the AFL Women’s Draft, and as early as February, opted for Charlotte Hammans, Ellie Hampson and Kitara Whap-Farrar. All three justified their pre-listings with strong Under-18 carnivals this year, including Hampson taking out Queensland’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Along with the trio, the SUNS opted for more experience in locals, Maddy Roberts, Molly Ritson and Kate Surman, whilst grabbing Lauren Aherns from Essendon and Tayla Thorn from NT Thunder after both plied their trade in the VFLW. Taylor Smith was the final pre-listed SUN after a strong performance in the Winter Series.

Gold Coast was equally busy in the pre-listing period, announcing North Melbourne’s Jamie Stanton as a signing, who was the first experienced player on the list. They then raided Brisbane across the board with plenty of talent, as names such as Sam Virgo and Leah Kaslar headed south down the highway, while Gold Coast also snapped up Jasmyn Hewett from Adelaide. Serene Watson became the first player to be selected by Gold Coast in an AFL Women’s Draft with the Under-18 All Australian defender set to line-up from Round 1. Dee Heslop was the other Queensland player to earn a spot on the list via the draft, while Alexia Hamilton and Georgia Breward are former Eastern Allies representatives and 19-year-olds.

2020 TEAM LIST:

Lauren Ahrens
Lauren Bella
Georgia Breward
Hannah Dunn
Tiarna Ernst
Tori Groves-Little
Alexia Hamilton
Charlotte Hammans
Cheyenne Hammond
Ellie Hampson
Dee Heslop
Jasmyn Hewett
Jordann Hickey
Kalinda Howarth
Leah Kaslar
Paige Parker
Brittany Perry
Emma Pittman
Jade Pregelj
Sally Riley
Molly Ritson
Maddy Roberts
Taylor Smith
Jamie Stanton
Kate Surman
Tayla Thorn
Sam Virgo
Serene Watson
Kitara Whap-Farrar
Jacqui Yorston

POTENTIAL 2020 SIDE:

B: Cheyenne Hammond – Tayla Thorn – Sam Virgo
HB: Leah Kaslar – Tiarna Ernst – Serene Watson
C: Jamie Stanton
HF: Paige Parker – Taylor Smith – Kitara Whap-Farrar
F: Jordann Hickey – Tori Groves-Little – Sally Riley
R: Lauren Bella – Hannah Dunn – Ellie Hampson
INT: Jasmyn Hewett – Brittany Perry – Jacqui Yorston – Charlotte Hammans – Kate Surman
EMG: Jade Pregelj – Dee Heslop – Molly Ritson

DEPTH: Kalinda Howarth, Maddy Roberts, Lauren Ahrens, Georgia Breward, Alexia Hamilton. Emma Pittman

All fans have to go by heading into 2020 for the Gold Coast SUNS is the Winter Series, and it was not surprising to see the magnets being thrown around to trial out players in different positions in order to find combinations that work. Expect the defence to be fairly experienced with the likes of Ernst, Virgo and Kaslar standing up back there, while Sally Riley and Jordann Hickey provide some AFL Women’s experience to an inexperienced forward half.

Teenage talents, Watson, Whap-Farrar, Hampson and Hammans should all work their way into the best 22 from early-on, while the likes of Smith, Heslop, Breward and Hamilton offer some great excitement particularly in the forward half. Stanton will likely be the leader on-field given her extensive AFL Women’s resume, and while the SUNS are a developing side and unlikely to challenge the top sides, do not be surprised if they surprise a few teams with their run and carry style that will likely come from the strengths of their playing group.

VFLW weekly wrap: Round 15 – Plenty of ladder movement in the penultimate round

IN the penultimate round of VFL Women’s there were a number of big results, with ladder leaders Collingwood going down to Essendon – albeit resting most of their big name players, while Casey, Geelong and Western Bulldogs all recorded impressive wins.

CARLTON 1.2 | 1.2 | 2.3 | 4.5 (29)
DAREBIN 0.4 | 1.6 | 1.8 | 2.9 (21)

GOALS

Carlton: A. McKay 2, S. Craige, B. Gurr.
Darebin: S. David, B. Kennedy.

BEST

Carlton: B. Gutknecht, S. Cubasch, S. Wright, A. McKay, K. Loynes, A. Prins
Darebin: J. Stanton, K. Roe, R. Hicks, E. McLaughlin, B. Patterson, L. Arnell

It was a disappointing loss for Darebin in the opening match of Round 15, going down by only eight points despite plenty of chances to get ahead of Carlton. Both sides only had pride on the line with no chance of making finals, but it was the Blues that got the points and their third win on the board. It was a match with constant lead changes, however Carlton ultimately made the most of their opportunities while the Falcons struggled with inaccuracy, spraying the goalposts and getting very little return. The Falcons were missing a big name in Lauren Pearce, and while Erin McLaughlin was impressive in the ruck regardless with 29 hitouts and 15 touches, the Falcons clearly missed Pearce’s forward presence. Also impressive were Jamie Stanton (24 disposals, four marks), Annalyse Lister (18 disposals, 11 tackles) and Reni Hicks (17 disposals, 15 tackles) while young gun Nell Morris-Dalton was threatening forward but ultimately unable to get a goal on the board, managing three minor scores. Katie Loynes was among the best for the Blues, collecting 22 disposals and 11 tackles while Abbie McKay kicked two goals from 13 touches. Bry Gurr was also right up in the contest, racking up 16 touches, eight tackles and a goal while Sidney Cubasch and Jaime Nelson combined for 47 hitouts.

COLLINGWOOD 1.2 | 1.2 | 3.2 | 3.4 (22)
ESSENDON 2.1 | 4.6 | 5.7 | 7.7 (49)

GOALS

Collingwood: R. Grant 2, K. Lynch.
Essendon: G. Patrikios 2, M. DeMatteo 2, M. Fogas, A. Quigley, L. Stepnell.

BEST

Collingwood: A. Porter, K. Lee, C. Bunker, N. Xenos, N. Hales, R. Grant
Essendon: G. Patrikios, G. Nanscawen, C. McIntosh, L. Ahrens, S. Nalder, M. Fogas

It was an interesting match for the table topping Magpies, ultimately putting out a team that was missing a number of big name players yet still going down to Essendon, a side that has struggled to get wins on the board all season. With a big source of firepower in Jaimee Lambert missing from the fray the Pies were still in with a chance despite their inexperience, however it was the Bombers’ mix of skilled youth and experience that got them over the line with impressive performances from 18 year old Georgia Patrikios (15 disposals, two goals) and veteran Cecilia McIntosh (18 disposals, six marks) combining for a solid 27-point victory. Also solid for the Bombers were Georgia Nanscawen (21 touches, seven tackles) and Lauren Ahrens (20 disposals, five marks) who combined well across the field, finding the likes of Patrikios, Monique De Matteo (two goals) and Alex Quigley (one goal, four behinds) inside 50. For Collingwood, Caitlin Bunker put out ultimately her best performance of 11 matches this season, collecting 25 touches and providing a vital run downfield while Emily Bliss, Emily Hastie and Katelyn Lee combined for 22 tackles. Meanwhile, Rebecca Grant (two goals) and Katie Lynch (one goal) contributed to the scoreline, keeping the Bombers on their toes.

RICHMOND 1.1 | 1.1 | 2.2 | 3.2 (20)
WESTERN BULLDOGS 4.0 | 4.1 | 7.1 | 10.3 (63)

GOALS

Richmond: A. Woodward, J. Colwell, S. Frederick.
Western Bulldogs: E. Georgostathis 3, K. Rennie 2, D. Marshall 2, D. Berry 2, B. Lochland.

BEST

Richmond: S. Frederick, A. Woodward, M. Conti, P. Monahan, K. Jacques, G. Seymour
Western Bulldogs: N. Ferres, D. Berry , D. Marshall, L. Spark, K. McLeod, C. Moody

While the Bulldogs were the side that started Richmond’s month-long losing streak, for the Dogs to pull out another big win against the Tigers proves that the side should not be underestimated in finals. While the Pies purposely played over the weekend with little experienced players named, the Tigers have no such excuse with a number of big names on the field who were unable to spark the side into action. Monique Conti and Kate Dempsey were among the best for Richmond, collecting 18 touches apiece and combining for seven tackles while Alana Woodward managed a team-high seven tackles and a goal. While Alice Edmonds impressed in the ruck with 31 hitouts and five tackles, she was controlled well by the Bulldogs’ shared rucks in Nicole McMahon (19 hitouts) and Celine Moody (16 hitouts). Also impressive for the Dogs were Bailey Hunt (20 disposals) and Naomi Ferres (19 disposals, seven tackles) while Elisabeth Georgostathis was one of four multiple goalkickers for the Bulldogs with three majors and six tackles from 14 disposals, combining well with Kimberley Rennie (two goals, five tackles), Deanna Berry (two goals, six tackles) and Danielle Marshall (two goals, six marks, five tackles).

CASEY 4.4 | 4.5 | 9.7 | 11.9 (75)
NT THUNDER 1.0 | 2.0 | 2.0 | 3.0 (18)

GOALS

Casey: K. Hore 3, C. Sherriff 2, M. Downie 2, L. Mithen 2, M. Hogg, S. Scott.
N Thunder: D. Ponter 2, R. Killian.

BEST

Casey: L. Mithen, B. Winbanks, K. Hore, M. Hogg, C. Sherriff, R. Edmeades
NT Thunder: J. Hickey, S. Riley, M. Ellis, E. Morrison, G. Cusack, M. Johnston

Similarly to the Bulldogs, while Casey managed an impressive win over Thunder last time they met there was no guarantee the inconsistent Demons would be able to pull a similar performance out of the bag. While the Dees may not have produced the same impressive score as their Round 11 victory, they were convincing from the get-go flying down field and finding plenty of forward options to put scores on the board. Thunder had patches of solid play, but were ultimately let down once again by their inconsistency and inability to string quarters together. Lily Mithen starred for the Dees, collecting a whopping 35 disposals and seven tackles, also going forward to kick two goals. Meg Downie was solid with 21 touches and two goals while Maddy Guerin put in her best performance since her early season form with 20 disposals, six tackles, three marks and two behinds. Kate Hore (three goals, five tackles) and Casey Sheriff (two goals, six marks, eight tackles) also provided valuable options inside 50 while Bridie Winbanks dominated in the ruck with 41 hitouts and seven tackles, while Thunder collected nine hitouts overall. For Thunder, Lisa Roberts (23 disposals, four tackles) and Sally Riley (20 disposals, 11 tackles) were solid, while Danielle Ponter added two more goals to her season tally and Jordann Hickey put in a season-best performance with 18 disposals and five tackles to her name.

SOUTHERN SAINTS 1.0 | 4.3 | 4.4 | 7.9 (51)
HAWTHORN 1.3 | 1.5 | 2.6 | 3.6 (24)

GOALS
Southern Saints:
M. McDonald 2, K. McCarthy 2, E. Mackie, T. Bohanna, K. Shierlaw.
Hawthorn: P. McWilliams 2, T. Kelly.

BEST

Southern Saints: K. O’Neill, S. Johnson, T. Lucas-Rodd, K. McCarthy, M. McDonald, O. Vesely
Hawthorn: T. Radan, R. Beeson, R. Dillon, P. McWilliams, L. Wotton, J. Membrey

The Southern Saints leapfrogged the Magpies into top spot this round with a convincing win over Hawthorn. While the Hawks are all but locked in for finals unless Round 16 goes drastically wrong, this win proves the Saints – and Magpies – in top spot are worlds apart from the rest of the top six. Despite a quiet third term the Saints kicked 3.5 to 1.0 in the last quarter to run away with the 26 point win. It was a shared effort by the Saints, with Olivia Vesely leading the disposal count with 19, while Alison Drennan returned for a solid performance collecting 17 disposals and seven tackles, matched by Samantha Johnson with 17 and eight tackles. Kate McCarthy (two goals from nine touches) and Molly McDonald (15 disposals, two goals) impressed while Jemima Kelly and Lou Wotton were well-matched in the ruck, collecting a respective 14 and 13 hitouts with neither really able to take control. For the Hawks, Talia Radan was solid with 18 touches while Jayde Van Dyke collected 16 disposals and four tackles and Phoebe McWilliams added two more goals to her tally, having put a score on the board in all but one of her matches this season.

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 | 1.0 (6)
GEELONG 1.0 | 2.0 | 4.3 | 8.4 (52)

GOALS

Williamstown: E. Gardner.
Geelong: J. Woollett 2, R. Caris 2, T. Love, M. Maguire, D. Taylor, S. Van De Heuvel.

BEST

Williamstown: A. Shannon, E. Straford, T. Merrett, M. Williamson, N. Wallace, E. Gardner
Geelong: S. Van De Heuvel, T. Love, R. Webster, D. Taylor, J. Woollett, R. Caris

Despite an impressive final margin, this match was likely too close for comfort for the Cats, who needed a win this week to raise their chances of a finals berth, very much reliant on a victory next week as well as relying on other results in Round 16. It was an even start to the match that gave Williamstown some hope, however the Cats were just far too good against the cellar dwelling Seagulls, kicking six goals nil in the second half to race away 46 point victors. For the Seagulls, Megan Williamson was impressive with 22 touches and eight tackles, aided by Danica Pederson (21 disposals, three marks, three tackles) and Rachel Achampong (27 hitouts) while Emily Gardner put Williamstown’s only goal on the board midway through the first. For the Cats, Amy McDonald (21 disposals, five tackles) and Tarryn Love (18 disposals, seven tackles, one goal) proved to be big ball movers around the field while Rene Caris (16 hitouts, 12 disposals, five marks, two goals) and Jaime Woollett (13 disposals, six tackles, two goals) provided solid options inside 50. Caris shared the role in the ruck with Kate Darby, who collected 13 hitouts and 16 disposals, also racking up four marks and four tackles.

BYE: Melbourne Uni

Travel just the beginning for Bella Smith

TWELVE hours in the car to get to and from training and games is not the first choice for any budding footballer, but for Bella Smith, it was an easy choice when the Eyre Peninsula local opted to play women’s football in Adelaide. Whilst she did end up moving to Adelaide in the recent years, Smith still remembers the long car journeys to begin her career in the sport she loved.

“I’m originally from Eyre Peninsula so I started playing with the boys up until I was 14 until I was told I wasn’t able to play anymore with the boys,” Smith said. “So I gave it up for a bit because I wasn’t allowed in. “I ended up moving to Adelaide when I was 16 and brought it back up. Had my first season with the girls last year and went from there. “(I) went from under 17s with Norwood, and got into the Under 18s team last year and the Allies last year. (I) came back again this year with the Norwood SANFL team.”

The success of Norwood in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s has helped Smith develop and learn from some of the most talented footballers in the country. It was such a successful program that Head Coach Steve Symonds earned the chance at coaching the elite competition at Collingwood in the AFL Women’s for the 2020 season. Smith said the group was close and wanted to achieve success together, and while they missed out on the elusive premiership this year, they still loved the season.

“It was awesome to be in such a successful team,” she said. “We had such a great minor rounds series and we were just a really tight knit group. “We all wanted to get better, we were all training as a squad and it was really good to be in that sort of environment just learning off other players such as Sally Riley when she’d come back from the Crows. “It was just so good to learn from people who had been so successful.”

Over the years, Smith has noticed a marked improvement in the talent across the board in women’s football, with both the competition and training standards held in much higher regards.

“The talent is just growing more and more,” Smith said. “It’s just getting more competitive and the elite standards. “The standards have just grown so much – just over the past year and it’s just going to continue to grow so much.”

For all the travel as she paved the way to her eventual state representation at the 2019 AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, Smith said there was always the passion burning inside her. Smith thanked her parents for their support and credited them for inspiring her to believe in herself and her career.

“I have my parents have to thank for that, they had to give up so much for me to keep travelling and ended up moving me over,” she said. “Just having that support behind me has been awesome.”

As for on-field, an AFL Women’s premiership captain has been one who Smith has looked up to and tried to model her game on and off the field.

“If I’m talking about role models, I’d probably say Chelsea Randall,” Smith said. “I just think she’s such a fierce competitor. Just the way she plays, I just love watching her play, it’s just so awesome. Watching her train and her work ethic, it’s just so admirable.”

While her top-age year has crept up, The 182cm Smith has been working hard to continually improve her game and hope to take it to another level going forward.

“I think working on would be probably my athleticism, just getting more endurance into me,” Smith said. “As well as using my body a bit more, probably my strengths are my hands and my kicking. I’m able to take a few good marks here and there and can kick a fair distance which is good and efficient.”

VFLW weekend wash-up: Hope tears it up as Bulldogs, Tigers and Pies continue good form

ROUND 5 is done and dusted with two teams still sitting undefeated from five rounds of action, meaning the ladder has almost fully shaped up with the teams to beat well and truly sorted. Carlton were pipped at the post once more, going down by only seven points to remain winless, while the Magpies came away with their fourth win on the trot over the Demons. Meanwhile, Mo Hope showed the competition why she was an AFL Women’s marquee player.

CARLTON: 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.4 | 7.4 (46)
NT THUNDER 2.1 | 2.3 | 6.4 | 8.5 (53)

By: James Halley

GOALS:

Carlton: B. Moody, N. Plane, N. Stevens, M. Clifford, M. Jarvis, T. Cassar, S. Wright.
NT Thunder: T. Holtze 2, K. Irvine 2, S. Riley 2, M. Roberts, S. Hoogeveen-Hill.

BEST:

NT Thunder: K. Irvine, C. Randall, N. Gore, K. Streader, M. Roberts, S. Miskin-Ripia
Carlton: A. McKay, M. Prespakis, J. Hosking, N. Stevens, T. Cassar

Carlton went down to the Northern Territory in their home away from home at La Trobe University by seven points. There was a strong wind going towards the left side of the ground all day, which Carlton were not able to fully capitalise on in the last quarter. The first quarter was hotly contested which resulted in many turnovers for both sides, but Northern Territory was able to edge ahead by five points at the first break. The Blues dominated the second term, keeping the Thunder goalless while kicking two themselves. Thunder’s Tayla Thorn tried her hardest in defence but the volume of entries was too much to handle. The third quarter belonged to the Thunder as they were able to wrestle the momentum back their way, kicking four goals to one to regain the lead heading into the final term. In the last quarter both teams went goal for goal, until Northern Territory’s Machaelia Roberts was able to shrug off two tacklers and stream inside 50 and kick the winning goal for the Thunder with less than two minutes left on the clock. Maddy Prespakis and Breann Moody were instrumental for the Blues in the midfield, while Fremantle AFLW recruit Mia-Rae Clifford was a focal point for Carlton in the forward line. Thorn was massive for the Thunder on the last line of defence, while Chelsea Randall was very classy, using her speed and agility to make the Blues look second rate. The Thunder were very dangerous up forward with Sally Riley, Tahlia Holtze and Kristy Irvine all kicking two goals apiece. To make the loss worse for Carlton, defender Jess Edwards looked to have seriously injured herself in the dying minutes of the match, needing medical assistance long after the final siren sounded.

WILLIAMSTOWN 1.1 | 1.4 | 3.5 | 4.8 (32)
MELBOURNE UNI 0.5 | 2.7 | 5.7 | 6.7 (43)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Williamstown: S. Whiting 2, G. Anderson, J. Heard.
Melbourne Uni: N. Bresnehan, H. Whitford, D. Bannister, K. Angelis, K. Cox, B. Gibson.

BEST:

Williamstown: M. Hope, A. Newman, M. Williamson, S. Whiting, J. Reid, R. Dardengo
Melbourne Uni: B. Gibson, T. Mesiti, E. Hay, A. Runnalls, K. Cox, D. Bannister

A massive game from former Collingwood and North Melbourne AFL Women’s player, Mo Hope was not enough to get Williamstown across the line against Melbourne University on Saturday. The Seagulls led at the first break by two points courtesy of an inaccurate quarter by the Mugars who went goalless with five behinds on the board. The visitors hit the front in the second term, delivering the only two goals of the term to head into half-time with a nine-point advantage. They then extended the lead to 14 points in a high scoring third term which saw five goals kicked, before both teams managed a goal in the final stanza for the Mugars to win and ensure the Seagulls remained winless to start the season. Hope was the talking point in the game, amassing a mind-boggling 39 disposals, two marks, three tackles and a behind, while Melbourne AFLW livewire Aliesha Newman had 22 touches, one mark and four tackles in the defeat. The Mugars on the other hand had an even team effort, with Jess Trend (19 disposals, six marks, one tackle), Sophie Abbatangelo (15 disposals, four marks, four tackles and three behinds) and Daria Bannister (15 disposals, one mark, eight tackles and a goal) all impressive. Sharnie Whiting continued her good form this season for the Seagulls with 2.3 from 14 touches and two marks to be the only multiple goal kicker in the game.

WESTERN BULLDOGS 1.0 | 3.2 | 3.3 | 5.6 (36)
DAREBIN FALCONS 0.0 | 0.0 | 1.0 | 1.2 (8)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Western Bulldogs: M. Ward, S. Jolly, H. Wildes, M. Sandral, E. Gavalas.
Darebin: S. David.

BEST:

Western Bulldogs: K. McLeod, S. Jolly, B. Hunt, E. Gavalas, B. Lochland, B. Toogood
Darebin: B. Patterson, C. Byrne, G. Colvin, S. David, R. Hibbert, A. Lister

Western Bulldogs piled on more pain to Darebin Falcons to remain one of the teams to beat after five rounds, winning four consecutive games to start the season, while Darebin remains winless. The Bulldogs have proven to do it in low-scoring slogs, being only the eighth highest scoring side, but are far and away the number one defensive team, and this weekend was no different, restricting Darebin to just one goal for the match. The Bulldogs had 11 scoring shots throughout the game, starting slowly, and were outscored in the third term when they were held goalless, but steadied to kick the final two goals of the match to win by 28 points. Ellie Gavalas was impressive with 23 disposals, two marks, three tackles and a goal, while Katelyn Betts also played well, notching up 20 touches, one mark and laying a massive nine tackles. Western Bulldogs listed players, Kirstie Lamb and Bonnie Toogood found plenty of the ball too, registering 18 touches each and sharing in 12 marks. For Darebin, the experienced names stood up despite the loss, with Melbourne AFLW ruck, Lauren Pearce helping herself to 22 touches, six marks, three tackles and 23 hitouts, while Gold Coast’s Jamie Stanton finished with 18 touches, one mark and three tackles.

RICHMOND 2.1 | 7.1 | 7.3 | 8.7 (55)
GEELONG 3.2 | 3.3 | 4.3 | 5.3 (33)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Richmond: J. Colwell 2, K. Jacques 2, E. Gunn, T. Stahl, C. Wakefield , J. Kennedy.
Geelong: M. Maguire 2, J. Crockett-Grills, O. Purcell, R. Webster.

BEST:

Richmond: M. Conti, G. Campbell, K. Jacques, L. Davie, A. Makur Chuot, G. Egan
Geelong: J. Crockett-Grills, M. Maguire, O. Purcell, R. Goring, R. Webster, M. Keryk

The high-scoring Tigers remain undefeated in season 2019 after another big win, this time over last year’s grand finalists Geelong. The Cats raced out of the blocks to lead by seven points at the first break, before Richmond clicked into gear with five straight majors to the Cats’ one behind. It was Geelong’s turn to take the advantage in the premiership quarter, booting the only goal of the term while restricting Richmond to two behinds, before the Tigers held firm in the final quarter with a goal each, but extending the final margin to 22 points. The Tiger recruits in Monique Conti and Katie Brennan were sensational, as Conti picked up a game-high 29 disposals, three marks and five tackles, while Brennan had 22 disposals, five marks, five tackles and booted two behinds. Of the non AFLW-listed players, Grace Campbell (16 disposals, four marks and 11 tackles) and Grace Egan (13 disposals, one mark) were busy, while Jenna Colwell and Kobi Jacques both snagged two majors. For the Cats, young gun Olivia Purcell was terrific with 23 disposals, one mark, seven tackles and a goal, while Madeline Keryk helped herself to 15 touches, two marks and three tackles. Rene Caris had a tough task in the ruck against Alice Edmonds as her opponent had 12 touches and 30 hitouts, but Caris was always involved, having 11 touches and 13 hitouts, while Madisen Maguire booted two majors for the Cats.

CASEY DEMONS 2.1 | 2.1 | 4.1 | 5.1 (31)
COLLINGWOOD 1.0 | 4.4 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)

By: Peter Williams

GOALS:

Casey: M. Guerin 2, K. Smith, A. Kemp, H. Cordner.
Collingwood: S. Dargan 2, S. Chiocci 2, G. Buchan.

BEST:

Casey: H. Cordner, E. Birch, N. Garner, G. McLean, T. Hanks, B. Winbanks
Collingwood: B. Davey, J. Allen, B. Bonnici, R. Schleicher, P. Nash, K. Lee

Collingwood has held on in a thriller to make it four consecutive wins, while handing Casey its second consecutive loss for season 2019. The victory pushed the Magpies into third spot just behind the Bulldogs and Tigers, and marked the return of AFLW captain, Steph Chiocci. The Demons led early with a seven-point advantage at quarter time, but the Magpies capitalised in the second term with three goals from seven scoring shots while strangling the life out of the home side. Casey hit back in the third term to hold the Magpies goalless and cut the deficit to just four points, but a steadying goal in the final term extended the lead to 10, before Harriet Cordner cut the deficit to four once again, but the time ran out for Casey. Chiocci made a successful return with two goals from 13 touches, one mark and three tackles, while Bri Davey had a massive second game back through the middle with 24 disposals, four marks and nine tackles. Sarah Dargan (19 disposals, four marks, 10 tackles and two goals) was sensational, while Maddie Shevlin won 13 touches, one mark and two tackles against her former side. For the Demons, Libby Birch remains a solid investment with another 20 disposals and whopping 13 tackles, while Tyla Hanks goes from strength to strength with 19 disposals and nine tackles. Cordner also had 15 touches, five marks, four tackles and six hitouts in the loss, while Maddy Guerin added another two majors to her total for the year, as well as 14 disposals, two marks and four tackles.

Weekend wash-up: SANFL Women’s Preliminary Final

NORTH Adelaide has exorcised any lingering demons that haunted the playing group in its previous two finals series, after holding on in a titanic struggle against minor premiers Norwood. The Redlegs have been a source of pain for the Roosters over the past two years, defeating them in the 2017 South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s decider, before sending them packing in the Preliminary Final last year. Twelve months on and the Roosters had to do it tough, but survived in a 2.6 (18) to 1.10 (16) armwrestle. While the Roosters are used to using their firepower to overwhelm teams, they had to do it with a low-scoring struggle, but did it well to move through into the 2019 decider. It was more than remarkable considering the Redlegs won the hitouts (32-17), clearances (29-18) and inside 50s (35-18) but struggled with accuracy which ultimately cost them.

Neither team could score in the opening term as the minor premiers applied plenty of forward pressure, booting four behinds to just one behind in the opening term. The game opened up immediately in the second term with Matilda Zander putting one through the big sticks just 43 seconds into the quarter, before three minutes later Paige Allan responded for the Roosters. A couple of behinds each later and the Redlegs still held a narrow three-point advantage. Norwood continued to pepper the goals after the main break, booting three behinds, but it was competition leading goalkicker Kelly Barltrop who found the opening and slammed it home after two behinds, to give the underdogs the first – and what would be only goal of the second half. Leading by only a point at the final break, Allen and Erica Greet both missed chances in the opening seven minutes to add to the Roosters’ lead, but Norwood could not apply any scoreboard pressure, and when Rhiannon Busch missed the only scoring shot in the final term for Norwood, the Roosters had held on by two points in a low-scoring nail-biter.

Amber Ward stood up gallantly in defence for North Adelaide, starring with 23 disposals and eight rebounds, while Olivia Gallio was also good with 14 disposals, three rebounds and two clearances. Kathryn Reynolds laid six tackles to go with her 14 disposals, while Erica Greet was the other main ball winner with 13 touches, four marks, two tackles, two inside 50s and two rebounds. The usual ball winners were kept quiet, but the Roosters found a way to win against a Norwood side that was missing its biggest ball winner, Najwa Allen. In her absence, Hannah Dunn put out her usual performance with 26 disposals, nine clearances, six tackles and four marks, while Sally Riley was also busy around the stoppages with 22 disposals, five clearances and four tackles, as was Michele Reid (18 disposals, five clearances, four inside 50s and three rebounds. Now Norwood are left ruing what might have been for the second year running, while North Adelaide must find a way to topple reigning premiers South Adelaide and make it a remarkable nine wins on the trot.

NORTH ADELAIDE 0.1 1.3 2.4 2.6 (18)
NORWOOD 0.4 1.6 1.9 1.10 (16)

GOALS:

North: Kelly Barltrop, Paige Allan
Norwood: Matilda Zander

DISPOSALS:

North: Amber Ward 23
Norwood: Hannah Dunn 26, Sally Riley 22, Tahlia Meyer 19, Michele Reid 18, Monique Hollick 17, Sophie Armitstead 16, Leah Cutting 15