Tag: sam franson

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 2 – Bulldogs and Roosters lock claws in standalone Saturday game

AT least one team will suffer its first loss in Round 2, while another will get on the board with its first win in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, as a blockbuster Friday night is planned across two venues. The undefeated clash between Central District and North Adelaide then takes place on Saturday morning in what could be a blockbuster match.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Friday, February 21, 6.30pm
Hisense Stadium

Opening up the second round of the SANFL Women’s is a clash between two sides with differing results from the opening round of action. Glenelg went down to North Adelaide by 24 points at X Convenience Oval on the back of conceding six consecutive goals, while West Adelaide ran out 21-point winners over Sturt in the game immediately after that contest. Looking across both games, Glenelg had the much higher efficiency, running at 73 per cent in a match that was higher skilled against the Roosters, while the Westies had a 61 per cent efficiency against Sturt, but got the job done. The Tigers dominated the hitouts (+8) and clearances (+7) but lost the inside 50s (-2) and booted 2.10 for the match in a disappointing effort in front of goal. Had it been 10.2 instead, the Tigers win by 16 points. The Bloods were well beaten in the hitouts (-13) but completely dismantled Sturt in the clearances (+15) and inside 50s (+11), while also laying more tackles (+10). One area the Bloods would want to improve on from Round 1 was the opposition’s uncontested ball movement, with Sturt taking 46 marks to 20. What the Round 1 matches tell us is that Glenelg need to make more of its chances inside 50, and limit the influence of West Adelaide’s superb onball division, which included Abbie Ballard – who led the league in disposals with 27 – and Rachelle Martin who both form a damaging contested-ball duo. Glenelg should get first hands to the ball at stoppages with Soriah Moon playing well on debut, and recording more hitouts than the entire West Adelaide side. But with Ballard and Martin combining for 14 hitouts – and ruck Kate Walsh even recording four, it is a tough midfield to combat. Glenelg will rely on the likes of Madisyn Freeman to push up the grounds at times, winning an equal team-high four clearances last week, and if the likes of Sam Franson (two behinds) and Molly Althouse (four marks, two contested) can start to have an impact up forward, then they will be a damaging forward six to combat. Keely Kustermann looked settled last week and covers a lot of ground, while Lauren Rodato is a consistent player in defence for the Bloods. Up forward, Kasia Culhane and Melanie Elsegood both scored multiple goals, and Elsegood could have had a real day out if she put through a few more of her five chances (2.3). West Adelaide will start favourites in this clash due to the onball and forward talent, but Glenelg’s loss last week was not as bad as it might appear on the surface, and it is about taking chances in Round 2.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. STURT
Friday, February 21, 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

These two teams also come into this clash with different results from Round 1, but both sides would know they can improve on their output from those respective matches. South Adelaide pulled off the great escape against Woodville-West Torrens, while Sturt suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of West Adelaide. In that game, the double Blues were well beaten around the contest with the clearances (-15) and the inside 50s (-11) going the way of the Bloods. This all came despite Sturt winning almost double West Adelaide’s hitouts (+13). The area where Sturt impressed was in its outside ball as the Double Blues took 26 more marks (more than double) and had a solid 68 per cent disposal efficiency, playing a kick-first gamestyle. South Adelaide plays a possession-style brand of football, racking up 33 more disposals than the Eagles in Round 1, nullifying the opposition’s ability to get ball to boot with a low kick-to-handball ratio. The Panthers are great at shutting down the outside run, with the Eagles only taking 18 marks to South Adelaide’s 37, while the Panthers also won the hitouts (+4), clearances (+9) and inside 50s (+6). Despite all this going the reigning premiers way, they won by just four points, and it was the defensive pressure of the Eagles that forced them to overuse the ball, and also the visitors’ inaccuracy that helped the Panthers get home. South Adelaide is an incredible side and it will be expected to put out a similar effort against Sturt in shutting down the outside run and making more chances in front of goal. With Montana McKinnon potentially heading back to AFL Women’s after being named in the extend squad, Sturt will have a advantage in the ruck, and the Double Blues’ defensive setup is quite solid, but they cannot afford to be beaten out of the middle again. Stephanie Ratliff and Zoe Prowse were impressive in the ruck last week, with the mobile Prowse also doing her part around the stoppages. Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter (five combined clearances last week) will have to step up again in this contest, with South Adelaide having the likes of Indy Tahau (eight clearances), Czenya Cavouras (six) and Teah Charlton (four) all standing out as a dominant trio in there. Rachel Dunstan and Hannah Prenzler were able to work hard defensively, with Prenzler picking up two rebounds and seven marks against the Bloods to hold up in the defensive 50. Along with Alysha Healy and Aajiah Jerico, it will be important for the visiting side to hold up back there and drive the ball forward against an unpredictable forward line. South gets a lot of goals out of its midfield, and once it wins the ball, it is hard to stop it being locked in the Panthers’ forward half. Expect South Adelaide to come out firing, with so much depth in its side, but if Sturt can make more of its ruck dominance, then the Double Blues can try and up the tempo and play keepings-off.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. NORWOOD
Friday, February 21, 8.15pm
Hisense Stadium

Yet to have a win in their short history, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles would be seeing this Friday night clash as a real chance to breakthrough and record a ‘W’. The Eagles came agonisingly close to causing a boilover against reigning premiers South Adelaide on the road, and now take on a Norwood side still finding its feet after so much change in the off-season. With a brand new midfield brigade, the Redlegs still looked solid, but will be better for the run during the loss against Central District last week. Norwood had an extra scoring shot than the Bulldogs, and played their traditional possession style game with 33 more disposals and 30 more marks – including seven more contested – but were not able to capitalise on their inside 50 entries (+7). The Central defence was able to pick-off the attacking forays with eight more rebounds and 16 more tackles. Norwood’s ruck, Leah Cutting is the best in the business and dominated the Bulldogs with 21 more hitouts and that helped the Redlegs win three more clearances too – an area that could further improve considering that ruck work dominance. The Eagles will have seen the pressure that Central applied to the Redlegs and bring much of the same, laying 14 more tackles than the Panthers, and three more rebounds. They will need to make more of their opportunities count as well, booting just three goals from nine scoring chances in Round 1, and you cannot afford to do that every week. The Eagles are not a huge disposal-winning team, but instead have that shared brand of football where everyone plays their role and it seemed to be effective for the most part against a highly-credentialed Panthers side last week. Youngster, Tesharna Maher recorded six rebounds in the loss last round, while Allison Evans had three as the pair patrolled the backline. In the middle, Teagan Usher had a team-high four clearances, but the Eagles will need to muster up more of those by sharking the opposition ruck. The tackling pressure is something that the Eagles had no problems bringing, with Evans and Sophie Zuill both laying eight, and Adele Gibson having a team-high four inside 50s. Kiana Lee was quiet on the scoreboard last week but will be better for the run, taking three contested marks and signalling her intent in the air. In the absence of a number of midfielders who made the step up to AFL Women’s this season, Matilda Zander picked up a game-high 20 touches against the Bulldogs last week, well aided by Alison Ferrall (15) and Lindsay Bigg (14). Mattea Breed was also important in that midfield group with three clearances and four inside 50s, while Jo Hill made the most of her chances up forward with two goals. Sophie Armitstead was the leading clearance worker, and while the Redlegs midfield is still developing, they have the talent to make more opportunities from Cutting’s dominance. Norwood have the runs on the board over past years, but the Eagles arguably looked more impressive last week. It will be an absolute blinder of a game.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 22, 11.30am
X Convenience Oval

The only game in Round 2 that features two Round 1 winners is between the sides that finished second and second last, in 2019. A much improved Central District team outlasted last year’s minor premiers Norwood in a nice little upset to start 2020, while North Adelaide booted six consecutive goals to run out four-goal winners over Glenelg and now sit top of the table. In that win, the Roosters actually had five less disposals and seven less tackles, but were so efficient with their scoring accuracy, capitalising on more chances than the Tigers’ 2.10. North lost both the hitouts (-8) and clearances (-7) but rebounded well to win the inside 50 count (+2) and overall were a more efficient side going forward. They will need to continue that throughout the season, because as impressive as the win was, the Roosters can still improve further. The Bulldogs also had less disposals for greater efficiency which makes this an intriguing match. Central had 33 less touches than Norwood in the win last round, and were beaten on the outside with 30 less marks. But the Bulldogs made more of their chances inside 50 and tackled their way to victory (+16). They were smashed in the ruck (-21) and lost the clearances (-3) and inside-50 (-7) counts, but the Bulldogs defence held firm under the attacks with eight more rebounds. The Bulldogs will not be afraid to make it a contested game, with Shelby Smith (20 touches, five clearances and three tackles) leading the way in Round 1, while Jaymee-Lee Sonneman and Lauren Smith both had the three clearances. Demi Sonneman, Kimberley Fry and Abbey Scheer were reliable in defence with a combined 12 clearances, and then Katelyn Rosenzweig was the dominant force up forward with four goals from five scoring chances and seven disposals. North Adelaide has its own goal-scoring machine in Kelly Barltrop, with last year’s leading goalkicker booting two goals in the Round 1 win to start her season off on the right note, while Cristie Castle was sensational across the ground with 17 touches, six marks (three contested), five clearances, four inside 50s and a goal. Hannah Ewings won the Breakthrough Player for Round 1 after the 16-year-old won 12 disposals and four marks, and also booted a goal on debut. Kristi Harvey will likely have the tough job of containing Rosenzweig in the match, while the likes of Lauren Daniel and Amber Ward provide the offensive run out of the back half. North Adelaide have the experience in big games and go in deserving favourites, but the Bulldogs look to have built on last season and will be up for the fight.

SANFL Women’s Team of the Week: Round 1 – West Adelaide quintuplet lead the way

IN a new addition to our South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s coverage for 2020, we have crunched the numbers and gazed across the four games to come up with a hypothetical Team of the Week. Our Draft Central SANFL Women’s Team of the Week features a 24-player team with 18 on the field and six on the bench, allowing for exceptional performances. For Round 1, West Adelaide has a remarkable five players in our Team of the Week, with an even spread across the league with five other teams recording three players, and Glenelg and Woodville-West Torrens having two apiece.

The Bloods cover five of the starting places no less, split across the three thirds of the ground, with one defender, two midfielders and two forwards after a consistent team performance. Abbie Ballard racked up a round-high 27 disposals and nine clearances, as well as five marks (one contested), four tackles and three inside 50s to be our vice-captain for the week. Joining her in the midfield is Rachelle Martin who returned from AFL Women’s to have 15 disposals, 11 tackles and five clearances, while Keeley Kustermann slots in at half-back after a solid showing in defence. Up forward, Zoe Venning had 17 disposals and worked hard up the ground for three clearances, two inside 50s and five tackles, while Melanie Elsegood played deep and booted two goals from five scoring shots.

The captain in our Team of the Week is South Adelaide’s Montana McKinnon who was unlucky to miss out on a spot in Adelaide’s AFL Women’s side, but with the performance she put out, it will not be long before she forces her way in. The 18-year-old racked up a remarkable 18 disposals, 7 marks (five contested), two tackles, 20 hitouts, four clearances, six inside 50s and two rebounds in the Panthers’ narrow win over the Eagles. She will be amongst familiar faces with midfielder, Czenya Cavouras on the wing after racking up an equal round second-highest 20 disposals, as well as 11 tackles, six clearances, two inside 50s and two rebounds, while teenager Indy Tahau earned an onball spot thanks to 17 disposals, four tackles, three hitouts, eight clearances, three inside 50s and two rebounds.

The last starting midfielder in the side is Sturt’s co-captain Georgia Bevan, who is joined in the side by co-captain Maya Rigter, and centre half-back, Hannah Prenzler. Bevan had 19 disposals, two marks, six tackles, three clearances and three rebounds in the Double Blues’ loss to West Adelaide, while Rigter was her partner-in-crime through the midfield with 18 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and two clearances. Prenzler stood tall under fierce pressure with 12 disposals, seven marks, three tackles and two rebounds. Filling out the other key defensive position is Kristi Harvey who returned to North Adelaide from Carlton’s VFL side this season. She was steadfast in her strength and approach, having five rebounds to go with nine disposals and two marks. Other Roosters who made the side were Cristie Castle – who booted two goals from 17 disposals, six marks (three contested), five clearances and four inside 50s – and Lauren Daniel who made her way onto the bench after 14 disposals, five marks, two tackles, two clearances and two rebounds.

In a game of multiple impressive individual performances, both Central District and Norwood registered three players apiece. The Bulldogs had defender, Demi Sonneman record 13 disposals and six rebounds up one end, while Katelyn Rosenzweig booted four goals from seven disposals and three marks (one contested) up the other to be the leading goalkicker for the round. Shelby Smith racked up 20 touches and had three marks (one contested), two inside 50s and three rebounds to be the third Bulldog to make the side. For the Redlegs, forward Jo Hill made the starting squad after 11 disposals, two marks, five hitouts, three clearances and two goals, while Bella Smith and Matilda Zander both squeeze onto the bench. Smith had 10 disposals, five marks (two contested), two tackles, six hitouts and five inside 50s, while Zander had 20 touches, six marks, four tackles, two clearances and two rebounds and was unlucky to miss a starting spot but the midfield was stacked.

The two sides with just the two representatives are Woodville-West Torrens and Glenelg. The Eagles’ Tesharna Maher made the squad in the back pocket after 10 disposals, three tackles and an impressive six rebounds, while Alison Evans was her sides’ highest ball winner and will come off the bench following 15 touches, three marks, eight tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds. For the Tigers, Madisyn Freeman‘s run-and-carry from her 14 disposals, two marks, two tackles, four clearances and two rebounds saw her make the side off half-back, while up forward, Sam Franson had 16 disposals, two marks (one contested), six tackles and two inside 50s.

In terms of unlucky players, the first emergency would be Norwood’s Leah Cutting with the ruck the most unluckiest not to be picked. She had a second highest total of hitouts with 19, as well as five marks and six tackles, but with the squad balance there were a number of part-time rucks who would assist McKinnon in that area. Along with Cutting, West Adelaide’s Kasia Culhane booted two goals from 12 touches, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s, while South Adelaide’s Teah Charlton was also solid with 14 disposals, five tackles, four clearances and three inside 50s. Others considered for the team this week were Norwood’s Mattea Breed, Shai Hiscock and Lindsay Bigg, North Adelaide’s Leah Tynan and Kelly Barltrop, Central District’s Kimberley Fry, Abbey Scheer and Latiah Huynh, West Adelaide’s Emma Smith, Woodville-West Torrens’ Jaimi Tabb and Glenelg’s Soriah Moon.

DC SANFL WOMEN’S TEAM OF THE WEEK: ROUND 1

B: Tesharna Maher (WWT) – Kristi Harvey (NA) – Demi Sonneman (CD)
HB: Madisyn Freeman (GL) – Hannah Prenzler (ST) – Keeley Kustermann (WA)
C: Czenya Cavouras (SA) – Abbie Ballard (WA – vc) – Georgia Bevan (ST)
HF: Jo Hill (NW) – Cristie Castle (NA) – Zoe Venning (WA)
F: Melanie Elsegood (WA) – Katelyn Rosenzweig (CD) – Sam Franson (GL)
R: Montana McKinnon (SA – c) – Rachelle Martin (WA) – Indy Tahau (SA)
INT: Lauren Daniel (NA) – Alison Evans (WWT) – Maya Rigter (ST) – Bella Smith (NW) – Shelby Smith (CD) – Matilda Zander (NW)

EMG: Leah Cutting (NW), Kasia Culhane (WA), Teah Charlton (SA)

SANFL Women’s review: Round 1 – Panthers survive scare as Bulldogs topple Redlegs

IN a huge first round of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, the reigning premiers just escaped a fierce battle against last year’s wooden spooners, while fellow bottom two side from 2019, Central District claimed a confidence-boosting win over last year’s minor premiers, Norwood.

SOUTH ADELAIDE 2.2 | 2.2 | 4.3 | 4.4 (28)
WWT EAGLES 1.0 | 3.2 | 3.2 | 3.6 (24)

GOALS:

South: L. Buchanan, J. Kirk, K. Nijhuis, C. Wilson.
Eagles: M. Cavallaro, N. Collie, J. Zecevic.

DISPOSALS:

South: C. Cavouras 20, M. McKinnon 18, I. Tahau 17, J. Smith 15
Eagles: A. Evans 15

Reigning premiers, South Adelaide survived an almighty scare from Woodville-West Torrens to post a win in its opening game of the season. Heading into the match, the Panthers were strong favourites despite so much off-season turnover with a number of players earning places on AFL Women’s lists. Montana McKinnon was available for South in this game however, while Jaimi Tabb ran out for the Eagles after missing out on Crows selection as well.

The match started relatively as expected with Lauren Buchanan and Kelli Nijhuis both booting goals, the latter of whom was on debut prompting much celebration. The celebrations did not last long though, with Nicole Collie breaking through with a major for the Eagles, before Madison Bennett missed a couple of chances on goal. In a surprise to the home fans, the Eagles showed they were well and truly up for the fight, booting two goals to zero in the second term, courtesy of Jovanka Zecevic and 21-year-old debutant, Mikayla Cavallaro. The quarter put the underdogs up by a goal at the main break, but four minutes in and the scores were level again thanks to a Jess Kirk major for the Panthers. Callie Wilson regained some breathing space for South Adelaide with a major midway through the term, and then an arm-wrestle ensured for the remainder of the contest. Neither side could find the big sticks, with five behinds in the last quarter – four to the Eagles with the breeze, and it meant they fell agonisingly short of an inaugural win and massive upset.

South Adelaide had a kick-first mentality that seemed to work, with 35 more disposals, with 65 per cent of those 204 disposals being kicks, while the Eagles had a much lower 56.7 per cent from 171 disposals. It was the outside marking ability of the Panthers that really stood out, taking 37 marks to 18, eight of which were contested. They also won the hitouts (24-20), clearances (26-17) and inside 50s (31-25), but you could not take the defensive pressure out of the contest with the Eagles winning the tackle (73-59) and rebound 50 (25-22) counts.

McKinnon was absolutely sensational and would have given the Crows’ coaching staff plenty to think about, amassing 18 disposals, 20 hitouts, seven marks (five contested), six inside 50s, two tackles and two rebounds in a clear best on ground performance. Working hard through the midfield roving the teenagers’ taps were fellow teens, Indy Tahau and Teah Charlton. The pair combined for 31 disposals, eight clearances, six inside 50s and nine marks in a combination that will no doubt be on show at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships later in the year. Czenya Cavouras‘ ball-winning ways continued with 20 touches, 11 tackles and six clearances to be the next best after McKinnon, while Jaslynne Smith (15 disposals, seven rebounds) was superb in defence.

For the Eagles, Allison Evans had a team-high 15 touches, three marks, eight tackles, two inside 50s and three rebounds, while Sophie Zuill finished with 13 disposals, eight tackles and two clearances. Providing a hard edge along with that duo was Tabb, who finished the game with 12 disposals, two marks, seven tackles and three rebounds, but was unlucky not to boot a goal in the game, finishing with two behinds. Tesharna Maher was really prominent defending in the back half, having a team-high six rebounds to go with 10 touches and three tackles, while Adele Gibson was fluent in midfield, with four inside 50s, five tackles and 10 disposals.

In the end it was just the overall class of the Panthers and star-stuffed top dozen players that helped them get over the line against a plucky Eagles outfit. Woodville-West Torrens will be better for the run, and come up against a vulnerable Norwood next week at Hisense Stadium, while South Adelaide faces Sturt back at Flinders University Stadium again in a match they should be strong favourites for too.

NORTH ADELAIDE 1.0 | 5.4 | 6.4 | 7.4 (46)
GLENELG 1.4 | 1.4 | 2.9 | 2.10 (22)

GOALS:

North: K. Barltrop 2, C. Castle, H. Ewings, T. Gordon, K. Reynolds, L. Tynan.
Glenelg: J. Bates, J. Bradley.

DISPOSALS:

North: C. Castle 17
Glenelg: S. Franson 16

A hungry North Adelaide side desperate for redemption following last year’s SANFL Women’s Grand Final loss sent a message to the rest of the competition with a four-goal victory over an inaccurate Glenelg side. Six unanswered goals from the 12th minute of the first term through to the 12th minute of the third term handed the Roosters the win, and showed exactly why they could well be the team to beat in season 2020.

It was a mid-morning game on Saturday and Jordana Bradley was the first player to seize the moment, pouncing on a goal for the Tigers to put her side in front. For the majority of the first term, Glenelg dominated, booting 1.4 and looking like they would really build a strong lead. Unfortunately inaccuracy plagued them – as it would throughout the contest, and instead thanks to a Leah Tynan goal midway through the term, the Tigers only led by four points at the first break. Any doubts about the Roosters’ premiership credentials were soon put to bed with a massive four-goal second term, booting 4.4 to 0.0 to run away with a 24-point lead at half-time. Last year’s competition leading goalscorer, Kelly Barltrop got on the board for the first time in season 2020 with a couple of goals, while Hannah Ewings and Cristie Castle both booted majors. All three players could have had more, with Ewings missing a couple of chances and Barltrop and Castle also missing the opportunity for an additional major. With the breeze again in the third term, it was up to Glenelg to make the most of it, but four consecutive behinds in the first 10 minutes of the quarter stung deep. When Tayla Gordon converted the Roosters’ sixth consecutive goal, it was like a dagger to the heart. Jessica Bates managed to boot a drought-breaking major a minute later, but the result was decided. Kathryn Reynolds booted a fourth quarter goal – the only one from either side – to help North Adelaide record a 24-point win.

Despite the lop-sided result, it was largely the second term that decided the match, with Glenelg largely matching it with the Roosters across the statistics. The Tigers had three more disposals – and looked to utilise their kicking ability more – with a 73 per cent disposal efficiency, while laying seven more tackles (41-34). They won the hitouts (23-15) and clearances (22-15), but their decision making once inside 50 needed improvement with just two goals from 12 chances – an additional scoring shot to their opponents. The Roosters showed that despite not playing at their best and being beaten in the midfield, they were able to put away a side by four goals, and still show the damaging firepower they have at their disposal which was a feature of their game in 2019.

Castle was a real inspiration in the forward half and through midfield, winning a game-high 17 disposals and five clearances, as well as taking six marks – three contested and four inside 50s. Lauren Daniel was predictably busy around the ground with 14 disposals, five marks, two clearances and two rebounds, while Adrienne Davis had 13 touches, four marks, three tackles and a clearance. All eyes were on Bek Rasheed in the ruck, with the debutant continuing on the famous family ties – father Mick Redden is the club’s games record holder – with the red and white, having 14 hitouts in the bulk of the ruckload, while also helping herself to seven disposals, three clearances, two tackles and two inside 50s. Barltrop booted two goals, but also had three marks and two tackles, while up the other end, Kristi Harvey marked her return from Carlton’s VFL Womens’ side with nine disposals, two marks and five rebounds playing at full-back. Tynan also had a notable game, amassing 12 touches, four marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds, two clearances, two tackles and a goal.

For Glenelg, youngster Madisyn Freeman looked impressive through the midfield, buzzing around with 14 touches, two marks, four clearances, two tackles, two rebounds and one inside 50, only bettered by Sam Franson who looked fierce through the middle, racking up 16 touches, two marks, six tackles and two inside 50s in her first performance back for 2020. Lucy Earl had 13 kicks which were her total amount of disposals, spreading nicely and trying to create run with five marks and three rebounds out of the back half. Tessa Kohn was one of Glenelg’s most prominent midfielders with the debutant looking good thanks to 12 disposals, four clearances, three inside 50s and two tackles. Also making her debut and holding her own against fellow debutant Rasheed, ruck Soriah Moon had 15 hitouts to accompany 10 disposals, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s.

Overall it was a promising, yet not quite perfect performance for the Roosters who once they click across four quarters will be hard to stop. North Adelaide travels to X Convience Oval once again in Round 2, this time being the genuine visiting side against a Central District outfit that looked impressive in Round 1. Glenelg on the other hand takes on West Adelaide at Hisense Stadium in the first game of a double header at the ground on Friday night.

STURT 0.0 | 0.0 | 0.1 | 2.3 (15)
WEST ADELAIDE 1.1 | 2.5 | 4.6 | 5.6 (36)

GOALS:

Sturt: A. Ballard, A. Ladas.
West: K. Culhane 2, M. Elsegood 2, Z. Venning.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

Sturt: G. Bevan 19, M. Rigter 18
West: A. Ballard 27, Z. Venning 17, R. Martin 15

An absolutely inspired performance from pocket rocket, Abbie Ballard has propelled West Adelaide to an opening round win over Sturt. The Westies always looked in control, but stepped it up in the second half to boot three goals to two, restricting the Double Blues to just five scoring shots for the entire match. It was an imposing performance from the West Adelaide line-up that looked desperate to undo the wrongs of last season where the Bloods narrowly missed out on finals. Fast forward to the start of 2020, and they look ready and raring to go for a big season ahead.

The first half was largely anticlimactic for the neutral as West Adelaide completely dominated its opponent. Kasia Culhane kicked the first goal of the match six minutes into the game, before a goal early in the second term to Melanie Elsegood was the only other major in a low-scoring half of action. Elsegood had chances to add to her total with a couple of behinds either side of her goal in the first half, while West Adelaide’s fierce pressure provided plenty of forward entries, four consecutive behinds meant the Westies were not getting value for money going forward. Ally Ladas finally broke the drought for the Double Blues in the opening two minutes of the third term, albeit with a behind, before business returned to normal as Culhane and Elsegood both booted their second goals to race out to a 29-point advantage at the final break. Something clicked in Sturt to start the last term, as co-captains Maya Rigter and Georgia Bevan both had chances in the opening few minutes but missed, while Ladas broke through with her first goal, joined by Alex Ballard four minutes later. The margin was back to 15 points and there was an air of uncertainty about the result for the first time since before the game, though Zoe Venning soon put that to rest with a goal midway through the term to solidify a 5.6 (36) to 2.3 (15) victory.

West Adelaide dominated the clearances and inside 50s which was where the game was won, as the Westies doubled Sturt’s clearances (30-15) and almost doubled the inside-50 count (24-13). This came off the back of Sturt actually dominating the ruck contest (28 hitouts to 15), and taking more marks around the ground (46-20). They used the ball more efficiently with a 68 per cent record on the day, but the Double Blues could not win enough of the ball around stoppages and give their forwards enough chances in front of goal. Their effort and intensity was certainly there, but the Bloods were too strong around the clinches.

In what was not only a best on ground performance, but a Player of the Round performance, Ballard had an absolute field day out on X Convenience Oval, racking up 27 disposals, five marks – one contested – nine clearances, four tackles and three inside 50s. To put that in perspective, Sturt only had 15 clearances, six more than Ballard alone. Her partner-in-crime, Rachelle Martin looked very impressive coming back from her debut with Adelaide as the top-up injury player, amassing 15 disposals, five clearances, a game-high 11 tackles and two inside 50s to support Ballard on the inside. Venning’s late goal capped off a strong performance of 17 disposals, two marks, five tackles, three clearances and two inside 50s, while Keeley Kustermann worked hard around the ground on debut with 14 disposals, two marks, three tackles, three inside 50s and three rebounds. To go with her two goals, Culhane also had 12 touches, two marks, four tackles, two clearances and two inside 50s, while Elsegood could have had a real day out with straighter kicking, booting 2.3 from 10 disposals and two marks – one contested.

It was no surprise to see co-captains, Bevan and Rigter lead from the front. Bevan had a team-high 19 disposals, as well as two marks, six tackles, three clearances and three rebounds, while Rigter helped herself to 18 disposals, seven marks, six tackles and two clearances.  In a career-high, Rachel Dunstan‘s homecoming to Sturt – the side she had played with in 2018 before her local club Woodville-West Torrens gained a team and she moved – proved fruitful with the young talent having 11 touches, two marks and two rebounds – five more disposals than any other game last season. Teenager Zoe Prowse showed she will only continue to get better with time, having 11 touches, eight hitouts, three clearances and two inside 50s, working in tandem with ruck Stephanie Ratliff (16 hitouts).

In Round 2, both sides face off in Friday night encounters as West Adelaide returns home to Hisense Stadium where the bloods host Glenelg to try and continue their winning run, while Sturt heads to Flinders University Stadium to take on reigning back-to-back premiers, South Adelaide.

CENTRAL DISTRICT 0.1 | 1.2 | 3.3 | 5.3 (33)
NORWOOD 1.1 | 2.3 | 3.4 | 4.5 (29)

GOALS:

Central: K. Rosenzweig 4, M. Lane.
Norwood: J. Hill 2, L. Bigg, J. Halfpenny.

HIGH DISPOSALS:

Central: S. Smith 20, L. Huynh 15
Norwood: M. Zander 20, A. Ferrall 15

It is often said that the gap is closing between the best and worst sides in the competition, and that could not be more true in the SANFL Women’s considering the results in Round 1. While the winless Eagles from 2019 almost toppled the reigning premiers, last year’s second bottom side and fellow inaugural outfit, Central District defeated one of the premier sides of the past three years in Norwood. With a new coach, an almost entirely new midfield group and a high turnover of players due to the success of the Redlegs, Norwood went down to a determined Central District outfit, led by Katelyn Rosenzweig in a come-from-behind win.

Norwood was the first team on the board during the match with Jo Hill getting an early goal two minutes in which followed from an Isabel Martin behind. The visitors were already looking dangerous but the Bulldogs settled down the tempo as Rosenzweig had a chance but missed early, and a dour first term came to an end at 1.1 to 0.1. It was not long before the crowd got up and about in the second term with Madison Lane converting a major two minutes into the quarter. Lindsay Bigg soon responded for the Redlegs and both sides had multiple chances to add to their totals, but in the end it was Norwood up by seven points. What happened next was a mixture of shock and elation for the X Convenience crowd as their Bulldogs – or more accurately Rosenzweig – piled on four of the next five goals to race out to an eight-point lead five minutes into the final term. Hill had added her second goal to briefly grab back the lead midway through the second quarter, but it was not until Jade Halfpenny finally broke the drought in the ninth minute of the final term that Norwood could get back on track. But in a twist, it would not be enough for the favourites, as the Bulldogs held on despite fierce pressure to record a narrow four-point win and start their season off on the right foot.

Unsurprisingly despite a new-look group the Redlegs still played a possession brand of football with 23 more disposals (211-178) and tried to use quick handballs and run to move the ball going forward. They had a whopping 30 more marks (55-25) and were too strong in the air (7-2 contested), as well as dominating the hitouts (32-11) and inside 50s (28-21). The Bulldogs defensive unit – which was underrated last season given the high amount of inside 50s its opposition was getting – played incredibly well with 22 rebounds to 14, whilst the Bulldogs laid 54 tackles to 38. The home side also used the ball better (68-65 per cent) and were more efficiency with five goals from eight chances compared to four from nine.

While the statistics might have looked like Norwood should have been on top, Rosenzweig’s finishing ability – 4.1 from seven touches and three marks – one contested – was the difference and she will prove to be hard to stop not only each game, but for the leading goalkicker trophy overall. Shelby Smith was terrific for the Bulldogs on debut with the 28-year-old having an equal game-high 20 touches, as well as five clearances, three marks and three tackles, getting back to help the defence with three rebounds and getting forward for two inside 50s. Latiah Huynh had her share of the ball with 15 disposals, two marks, two tackles and two inside 50s, while Demi Sonneman played at a high level in defence, racking up six rebounds and 13 touches on the day. Youngster Kimberley Fry had 11 disposals, two marks, three tackles and three rebounds, while Abbey Scheer was also strong defensively with 11 touches, six tackles and three rebounds.

One of the few remaining midfielders from last season, Matilda Zander stepped up in the absence of Najwa Allen, Hannah Dunn and Ebony O’Dea, picking up an equal game-high 20 disposals, as well as six marks, four tackles, two clearances and two rebounds. Alison Ferrall had 15 disposals and six inside 50s running hard on the outside, while Lindsay Bigg and tall utility, Mattea Breed both had 14 touches and three clearances, as well as combining for seven inside 50s and five tackles. Sophie Armitstead was another consistent performer with 12 disposals, three tackles and four clearances, while Hill (11 disposals, two marks, five hitouts and three clearances) and Bella Smith (10 disposals, five marks – two contested – two tackles, six hitouts and five inside 50s) aided ruck, Leah Cutting (eight disposals, five marks, six tackles and 19 hitouts well.

Looking ahead to Round 2, Central District faces North Adelaide in a battle of the two most impressive sides from the opening round – at X Convenience Oval – while Norwood has to back up and look to knock off the Eagles at Hisense Stadium on Friday night.

SANFL Women’s preview: Round 1 – Triple header on Saturday the highlight

AFTER a long wait, the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition has returned with the eight sides battling it out for a chance at the title. Six of the eight teams have lost players to the AFL Women’s competition, with Norwood and South Adelaide the hardest hit. The Panthers begin their premiership defence against last year’s wooden spooners at home, while a triple header greets the remaining six teams at X Convenience Oval on Saturday.

SOUTH ADELAIDE vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Friday, February 14, 7pm
Flinders University Stadium

The standalone game on Friday night sees the opposite ends of the ladder from last season face off. South Adelaide will be able to unfurl its 2019 premiership flag – possibly alongside its 2018 one – as it welcomes 2019 wooden spooners Woodville-West Torrens to Flinders University Stadium. Last season this match might have been considered a no-brainer, and considering the occasion, the Panthers will head in as heavy favourites. However the Eagles will be better prepared in 2020 than 12 months ago, so it will be fascinating to see how they fare this season.

To make the match balance more towards the equilibrium is the fact the Panthers have lost a number of quality players to the AFL Women’s competition. Montana McKinnon and Nicole Campbell were both drafted to Adelaide and could still play games at state level, though with their talent and the Crows’ injury crisis, it will not always be the case. Hannah Munyard was picked up by the Western Bulldogs, while Cheyenne Hammond has already donned the red and gold up in the Sunshine State for the SUNS, so neither will feather this year for the reigning premiers. Aside from the four exits, six others have departed the club, meaning the turnover will see a very different line-up in 2020. Three former Panthers have returned to the club with Louella McCarthy (St Kilda VFLW), Lucy Northcott (knee) and Nicole Mark (maternity leave) all coming in, as well Tahlia Meyer crossing from rivals Norwood.

The Eagles have also lost a number of players, predominantly to SANFL Women’s rivals with Hannah Scholar and Taylor Hand heading to the Bloods, Jo Baltias, Rachel Dunstan and Aajiah Jerico to Sturt. The two biggest losses could be Natasha Farrier heading to ice hockey, and AFL Women’s Under-18 All Australian member Jaimi Tabb drafted to the Crows. She has already made her debut at AFL Women’s level, but could feature at some point depending on the Crows’ selection. Three players have joined the Eagles, with Rebecca Catterall coming over from Central District, Ali Evans from West Adelaide and Nicole Collie from North Adelaide which should provide some fresh faces on the field.

Both McKinnon and Campbell have been named in the Crows’ side for Round 2, with the Panthers unveiling as many nine new players named in the extended side. The Eagles also have plenty of fresh faces, with seven players coming in, while Tabb has been named in the center, though is also named in the Crows’ side on the extended bench. The young forward line duo of Kiana Lee and Teagan Usher will be one to watch, while up the other end, Teah Charlton is South Australia’s top Under-18 talent and will be one who can break a game open and with the likes of Czenya Cavouras and Indy Tahau in the midfield, expect the Panthers to be a bit too strong.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. GLENELG
Saturday, February 15, 10.40am
X Convenience Oval

Opening up the first of a triple header at X Convenience Oval are two finalists from last year going head-to-head in what is predicted to be the match of the round. Both these sides have lost talent to the AFL Women’s so will look to their depth in order to provide the same impact at SANFL Women’s level. The Roosters went all the way to the SANFL Women’s Grand Final last season before falling to the Panthers – knocking out an Ebony Marinoff-inspired Tigers’ outfit on the way through to the deciding match. Glenelg looked down and out with a few weeks remaining in the season, but found the will to not give in, winning the last few matches and qualifying for fourth spot by pipping West Adelaide at the post.

In 2020, the Tigers will be without a couple of talls in Caitlin Gould and Lucy Bellinger, both of whom provided good presence around the ground and an ability to hit the scoreboard. With Brooke Trevena and Ellen Fauser also unavailable due to maternity leave, the Tigers will be short a few of the players that really them reach the post-season series. South Adelaide duo, Emily Woods and Grace Duffy will provide some great insight from the back-to-back premiers and earn more game time in the yellow and black, while Rachel Aistrope and Jessica Bates are two players who have come into the side after impressing at lower levels. They showed last season they have the defensive structures to keep sides to low scores, and if they can continue that blueprint into this season it will hold them in good stead.

For the Roosters, they have also been hit hard by their success with two of their best players heading up to the elite level and will not feature at this level again in 2020. Nadia Von Bertouch – who unfortunately did her knee on debut for St Kilda and will miss the season – was a natural leader, captaining the side to the grand final, while Brittany Perry has already had an influence for the SUNS up there. The Roosters have lost further experience with the retirements of Jane Altschwager and Emma Sampson, while Elysha Willis has turned her attention to her netball. A big including for the side will be the return of Kristi Harvey who impressed in her time at Carlton VFLW, joining the likes of Panther Mollie McKendrick, Blood Taylor Gordon and Redleg Stana Zecevic and Northern Territory’s Elise Fenna making the trip down.

The Roosters have opted for Harvey to hold down full-back in this match, with last year’s leading goalkicker, Kelly Barltrop the other bookend. She is hard to stop when on song, and with Cristie Castle, Ashleigh Woodland and Amber Ward rounding out the spine, the Roosters are predicted to be very strong again. Of all the players to run out in the red and white, it would be hard for anyone to beat 38-year-old Bek Rasheed‘s story. The daughter of club great and games record holder Mick Redden, Rasheed will make her debut at the club as starting ruck with the 42 guernsey that her father wore over his 379 games. Looking over Glenelg’s Round 1 side, youngster Madisyn Freeman will be a key talent coming off half-back, joining forces with Lucy Armitage in defence, while Sam Franson up the other end could apply some scoreboard pressure. Despite the departures, North still seems like a genuine contender so will start as favourite here.

STURT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, February 15, 12.25pm
X Convenience Oval

Last year’s fifth and sixth go at it in the second game at X Convenience Oval with the Double Blues taking on the Bloods. West Adelaide came agonisingly close to finals in 2019 but were narrowly shafted in the final round as the Tigers leapt up and claimed fourth. Sturt on the other hand showed signs early in the season – including a low-scoring win over Glenelg – but were ultimately not able to roll anyone else other than the two expansion sides in other matches. Of all sides heading into the new season, Sturt has been relatively untouched in terms of departures, while the Bloods also have a number of additions likely to strengthen its squad to make a run at the finals in 2020.

Sturt only has two confirmed departures from last season, with Lilla Berry and Della Griffith travelling overseas and focusing on other sports respectively. The Double Blues were one of only two sides – with Central District – not to lose a player to the AFL Women’s competition through the draft. They have managed to pick up some of the Eagles’ depth in Baltias, Dunstan and Jerico, while finding a couple of X-factors in cross-coders, Ally Ladas (soccer) and Stephanie Ratliff (basketball). Louise Firth makes the step up to the SANFL Women’s from Scotch Old Collegians, and then there’s an extra year of development into the Double Blues’ youngsters such as Zoe Prowse. Based on the changes to the list, the experience gained and the inclusions, Sturt could move up in the right direction with a number of its rivals losing quality players over the off-season.

For the Westies, Madison Newman and Chelsea Biddell were both drafted into the AFL Women’s in last year’s draft and will only be available when not running around with the Crows. Much like the other draftees, based on Adelaide’s lengthy injury list and the fact that some like Newman had outstanding debuts, you cannot expect them to always be available for state league level. Evans is one of three others to depart the club with Gordon heading north and the experienced Leah Swain off due to maternity leave. Coming into the team is a couple of Eagles in Hand and Scholar, as well as Norwood’s Zoe Greer and returning from NT Thunder, Rachael Killian. Her experience from the VFL Women’s competition will be important and expect her to player a crucial role. Kate Walsh is the other addition to the side, coming up from SMOSH West Lakes to try her hand at the top level in South Australia.

Five players will make their debuts in the Double Blues, while former Eagle Dunstan has been named in the back pocket. The midfield combination of Georgia Bevan and Maya Rigter will make it challenging for the opposition, while Alex Ballard and Lucy Griffith have been named on opposing wings. They take on Greer, youngster Abbie Ballard and Rachelle Martin onball, with the latter of whom has one of the more interesting footballing stories already this year. She got the chance to represent the Crows at the elite level in Round 1 due to the mounting injury toll, and no doubt that experience will hold her in good stead here. West Adelaide will likely be favourite for the depth across the ground such as full-forward Melanie Elsegood who can help kick a winning score, but this is predicted to be the best game of the round.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, February 15, 2.10pm
X Convenience Oval

The game fans at X Convenience Oval will be waiting for is the return to the SANFL Women’s competition of Central District. The only side playing at its home ground during the triple header, the Bulldogs will hope to improve on their seventh placed finish in 2019 with a tough challenge up first. The Redlegs have been one of the most successful teams in the SANFL Women’s era, having won a flag then finishing runner-up and claiming the minor premiership last year before a semi-final exit. They always find a way to be there at the pointy end of the season, though 2020 will provide a new challenge given the amount of departures – including a change of coach – as talent breeds talent.

From the Bulldogs’ perspective, just Catterall (Woodville-West Torrens) and Courtney Jensen (work) have departed the club, with a quartet of relatively unknown quantities coming into the club from the next tier down in South Australian football. Abbie Thomas, Shelby Smith, Madison Kalleske and Hannah Bevington have opted to don the red, white and blue for season 2020 and while they might not have SANFL Women’s experience, the Bulldogs are growing a good young list to compete over the next few seasons.

Norwood on the other hand, has had a high turnover of players due to its successful few years, led by last year’s league best and fairest winner, Najwa Allen drafted by the Crows. Hannah Dunn has already made her debut for Gold Coast SUNS, as has Hannah Priest at St Kilda, while Ebony O’Dea joined former coach Steve Symonds at Collingwood through the AFL Women’s Draft. These departures coupled with the fact Monique Hollick has headed overseas for work, Jane Fitzgerald has retired and a trio of others have left in search of an increased role means the Redlegs will be a very different looking outfit in 2020. Chloe Meyer has joined the club from the Simon Black Academy, while Georgia Avery and Shanae Walker are another couple of inclusions to try and replace those out of the side.

The Bulldogs will head into the new season confident they can cause an upset against a new-look Norwood side. With Katelyn Rosenzweig up forward, the Sonneman sisters (Demi and Jayme-Lee) down back with Kimberley Fry, they will likely benefit from last year’s experience. For the Redlegs, they still have talent all across the park, but the midfield is largely different to its dominant one from last season, with Elisha Gallagher, young star Bella Smith and Michele Reid now replacing Allen, Dunn and O’Dea. Sophie Armistead will help hold down defence with Jo Hill to try and contain the dangerous Bulldogs’ forwards. This is an intriguing game because the Redlegs have the depth from last season to still compete, but it will almost be like being a brand new side again, while Central has remained relatively the same which should excite fans going forward.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 8

THE top four sides face off against the bottom four sides this round in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, in a week where finals can just about be locked in. Norwood is secure, South Adelaide is all but in barring a catastrophic end to the season, and North Adelaide has a soft run home. For West Adelaide, Round 8 provides a chance to get breathing space on Glenelg, while for Sturt and Central District, there are no second chances in the final few rounds. Woodville-West Torrens is still searching for its first win and will be hoping to upset North Adelaide this weekend.

STURT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, April 13, 11.30am
Peter Motley Oval

The top-of-the-table Norwood travel to Peter Motley Oval to take on Sturt, which experienced its best win of the season last week, running over the top of Woodville-West Torrens to keep the Double Blues faint finals hopes alive. Unfortunately for the underdogs, a loss here and it is curtains on season 2019. West Adelaide is eight points clear in fourth, and playing Central District, with a win to the Westies making it impossible for Sturt to make it if the Double Blues lose, while even if they win, they need to hope their rivals do not pick up another win. To Sturt’s credit, they have headed in keeping the same team that found winning formula, with Zoe Prowse and Lilla Berry both added to the side. For the Redlegs, they have lost three players through injury and suspension, with Rhiannon Busch (suspended), and Jane Fitzgerald and Elisha Gallagher (both injured). Into the team comes seven players on an extended interchange bench, with Jo Hill named at centre half-back, while Ellen D’Alessandro is in the back six, while Kate Fenton and Cassie Tsoumbris have been added to the midfield rotation. Norwood’s midfield is the most superior in the competition, and along with South Adelaide’s, knows how to just get the job done when down. Najwa Allen has leather poisoning most weeks, and has been named at centre half-forward in Round 8, while Hannah Dunn and Matilda Zander will be crucial rovers to Leah Cutting who is enjoying a good season. luckily for Sturt, the midfield is where the Double Blues also hold plenty of cards, with clearance gem, Georgia Bevan, Maya Rigter and Caitlyn Swanson all capable of winning the ball then going forward and creating scoring opportunities. Alex Ballard will provide run out of defence, while Monique Hollick and Sophie Armitstead will do the same for Norwood.The Redlegs are heavy favourites in this clash and it is hard to see an upset given the depth of the team across the field, but if Sturt can get a fast start, and follow up its work from the week before, anything is possible.

GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 13, 4.15pm
ACH Group Stadium

There will be a sense of deja vu when these sides meet on Saturday evening, having played at the same venue against each other just a week earlier. In that game, South Adelaide were too good, coming away with a 28-point win over the Tigers. From last week, the Tigers have gone in adding potential goalkicking forward, Hannah Crump, and Chelsea Packer to their side, while the Panthers have welcomed back Montana McKinnon after missing due to AFL Women’s Academy duties. They have also added Stacey Huddleston to the starting 18, named in the back pocket alongside the reliable Jaslynne Smith. There is no surprise that South Adelaide will be favourites in this game, having not lost since Round 1 and looking every bit the main challenger to Norwood. The midfield of Hannah Munyard, Czenya Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Elyse Haussen is as good as any, while McKinnon and Teah Charlton add youthful excitement inside 50. Mykala Walker-Murphy has stood up in recent weeks, and with Cheyenne Hammond patrolling the backline, the Panthers have talent across the field. Glenelg is also capable to causing an upset, but unlike the Panthers, come into the game desperate to get out of a run, having lost five games on the trot since bursting out of the blocks with three wins. Lucy Bellinger looms as the danger for the Panthers with the Tigers sharpshooter able to hit the scoreboard and set up her teammates. Ellen Fauser through the middle with Cassie Hartley will no doubt find plenty of the ball, while Tess Morcom and Sam Franson provide good strength and stability in the back half. They will need some luck, and plenty of direct football to topple the mighty Panthers who have one eye on the finals, but Glenelg’s finals hopes are fading, and a loss here would almost certainly spell the end for season 2019 after a promising start. Meanwhile a win for South Adelaide guarantees the Panthers a top two spot.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 13, 4.15pm
X Convenience Oval

While the Tigers/Panthers game has serious finals ramifications, spare a thought for the Bulldogs/Bloods match which will ultimately decide more than one team’s fate this season. If West Adelaide gets up as one would expect the Bloods to, they are all but booked into finals unless Glenelg upsets South Adelaide, and in the process, slamming the door shut on both Sturt and Central District in season 2019. West Adelaide can still grab third too as the Bloods are equal with North Adelaide on points despite a loss to them last week. Given the Roosters face the three bottom teams over the three rounds, this is simply a must-win for the Westies, who while facing the two bottom sides, also have a date with South Adelaide in the final round. But keeping it simple, a win should be enough to book a finals spot. Both sides have opted for a number of changes, and Central District brings back some serious talent with full-forward Katelyn Rosenzweig and captain Nicola Biagi back into the line-up. For the Bloods, Rachelle Martin returns and is a massive inclusion to the on-ball brigade. Chelsea Biddell was quiet last week with just seven touches and three marks, and one can expect a dominant goalscorer to not stay down for too long. She looms as a massive task for the Central District defence, while Niamh Davis could be the one tasked with restricting Rosenzweig who while inaccurate, often finds plenty of opportunities inside 50. Kimberley Fry at full-back will steady the Bulldogs, while Jayme-Lee Sonneman and Demi Sonneman were terrific last week despite the loss, as was Gemma Doughty who has been a ray of consistency off the half-back flank. For West Adelaide, Abbie Ballard will be excited to have Martin back in the midfield mix, while Maddie Newman continues to just find the ball and perform. Helen Maidment is an underrated played in the Bloods line-up, while Melanie Elsegood is also capable of finding the big sticks with a goal a game so far this season. West Adelaide are favourites, but this is expected to be the closest game of the round, so tune in to see two teams battling to keep their seasons alive.

WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 13, 3.45pm
Maughan Thiem Oval

In the final game of the round, the struggling Eagles take on a reborn North Adelaide outfit at Maughan Thiem Oval. The Eagles are yet to win a game in their debut season, while the Roosters are starting to click into gear at the right time of the season. They looked shaky early on against the top sides, and dropped a game to Glenelg as well, but now they have their sights firmly focused on finals. While top two is realistically out of reach, another win will book their spot in the top four given their superior percentage to rivals. With the bottom three sides in the final three rounds, the Roosters could take full advantage of the draw and gather percentage and momentum heading into finals. North Adelaide has made two changes to the line-up with Alex Fittridge and AFL Women’s player, Brittany Perry returning to the line-up, while last week’s top disposal winner, Erica Greet is unavailable, as is Sarah Ellis. After spending most of the season through the midfield, captain Nadia Von Bertouch has been named at half-forward, and with Emma Sampson, Cristie Castle and of course competition leading goalkicker, Kelly Barltrop all in the forward 50, it makes the Roosters front half the most damaging in the league. Their midfield also has plenty of runs on the board with Paige Allen and Leah Tynan, while Jane Altschwager is among the best rucks in the competition, and Amber Ward is a rebounding machine at half-back. There are not too many weaknesses in the North Adelaide line-up and if you were up for backing a roughie in the competition, the Roosters are the perfect side to turn to now they are hitting their straps. Their opponents are the Eagles who have also made at least three changes, with Jaimi Tabb a notable inclusion to the side. They have had fast starts in recent times, but have struggled to go on with it, as Kiana Lee has been the key goalkicker inside 50. Georgia Taylor has been named at half-forward after starting the season in defence, while Natasha Farrier will also be hoping to provide support for Lee in the forward 50. Tesharna Maher and Jovanka Zecevic have been impressive in the back up, while a whole team effort will be required to get up in this game. North Adelaide should continue their winning ways of late, while for the Eagles, the power of breaking the winless drought is something that will keep them focused for the remainder of the season.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 7

WITH a month to go in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s competition, things are heating up in terms of ladder positions and finals ramifications. Norwood is one win away from consolidating a finals spot this season, although they will not want to rest on their laurels with South Adelaide right behind them with five wins from six games. The Panthers take on the mid-table Glenelg who have dropped three on the trot, while North Adelaide and West Adelaide do battle in a huge game on Saturday.

GLENELG vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
Friday, April 5, 5.40pm
ACH Group Stadium

The opening game of the round kicks off tonight with the red-hot South Adelaide travelling to ACH Group Stadium to face the out-of-form Glenelg. The Tigers started the season on fire with three victories, but the wins have dried up and while the wooden spooners are much improved from their 2018 season, their finals hopes are looking shaky with North Adelaide ready to pounce on their fourth spot. The Panthers had a bit of a shock last week against Central District before putting the foot down and doing what they do best – win by plenty. South will be minus Montana McKinnon who has AFL Women’s Academy duties, while Emily Brockhurst is out after a knee injury in last week’s win. Into the side comes three players to an extended bench, with full-forward Brianna Wedding to fill McKinnon’s role down forward, while Alana Browne and Brooklyn Kraft have been added to the interchange. Last week Mykala Walker-Murphy booted four goals in an imposing effort up forward and it will take something special to stop her, although Glenelg’s Ellen Fauser has been in good form this season and could be the match-up for her. The Tigers have opted to make at least two confirmed changes, with Charlotte Dawe and Laura Isaac back into the midfield, while Hannah Crump adds firepower to attack. The Panthers midfield is incredibly strong with Hannah Munyard, Czenya Cavouras, Nicole Campbell and Elyse Haussen all enjoying strong seasons, while Teah Charlton has potency in the forward half. For Glenelg. Lucy Bellinger is capable of doing damage up forward, while Caitlin Gould has been named at full-back having enjoyed her time in the ruck, and the likes of Sam Franson and Madisyn Freeman also contributing throughout the season. It is hard to look past South Adelaide in this game given the respective formlines, but Glenelg improved last week and will hope to take its game to another level in this clash.

STURT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
Saturday, April 6, 10.15am
Peter Motley Oval

In a game that probably will not feature too much in finals calculations, but certainly has a lot of pride attached, is the bottom two clash between Sturt and Woodville-West Torrens. Both sides have had their chances this season showing good form at times within matches, but have not been able to sustain their consistency, winning just one game between them. Sturt took it right up to West Adelaide last week and looked like the Double Blues had turned their losing start to the season around, only for the Bloods to run over the top of them in the second half. If Sturt can maintain that intensity for four quarters, expect them to have a much better chance at the two points in this game. The Eagles looked good early in the season, but have managed just the five goals in the past three weeks with scoring drying up. To counteract this and hope for a change, the visitors have brought in half-forward Bronwyn Davey and centre half-forward Taylor McKay, as well as midfielder, Emily Tromans. Jaimi Tabb misses again due to unavailability, while Adele Gibson is out with a knee injury after going down last week. For Sturt, they have made just the two changes, welcoming back two important players for the match, with Georgia Bevan missing last week’s win due to a wedding, while Alex Ballard adds some youthful exuberance to the team. Sturt are deservedly favourites for this game, with Bevan, Caitlyn Swanson and Maya Rigter a good core midfield, while Nicole Baker and Tess Maple can create opportunities up forawrd. The Eagles have a number of players who can turn games, but rely a lot on Kiana Lee down forward, while Natasha Farrier could be a key to getting scores on the board in this game. Stephanie Walker and Tesharna Maher are other players who have shown they can lead the way when required and the Eagles will need a full team effort in this game to get over the line.

NORTH ADELAIDE vs. WEST ADELAIDE
Saturday, April 6, 4.15pm
Prospect Oval

The match of the round is certainly the North Adelaide and West Adelaide clash at Prospect oval. Sitting fifth and third on the table respectively, the sides know what is on the line in this game with the last few weeks of the season ahead. North Adelaide lose two key players with AFL Women’s representatives, Brittany Perry and Ashley Woodland out of the side, while Danielle Nunns and Eva Mitchell are the straight swaps for the Roosters. For West Adelaide, they have made four straight changes for the big clash, as ruck Leah Swain returns to the side, while Jayne Taylah, Alex Czabayski and Scarlett Griffiths all come into the team. There is more than two points on the line in this clash from an individuals perspective, as North Adelaide’s Kelly Barltrop and West Adelaide’s Chelsea Biddell go head-to-head up opposite ends. Barltrop leads the competition goalkicking with 16 goals in six games, while Biddell is just four behind in second with two majors a game this season. Madison Newman (leading the competition in rebounds) and Nadia Von Bertouch are their respective sides’ leading ball winners, with the Bloods ball winner averaging just over 19 per game, while Von Bertouch has led her side from the front, with 17.8 disposals per game. Swain has played just three matches this season for the Bloods, and averages 18 hitouts per game to be second overall in the competition, while Jane Altschwager has been as consistent as anyone in the centre square. With a midfield of Von Bertouch, Paige Allan and Leah Tynan, and a strong rebounder in Amber Ward, North Adelaide have every chance of taking home the points in this clash, however Rebecca Owen, Abbie Ballard and Helen Maidment might have something to say about that as the Bloods hope to keep in touch with the top two.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. NORWOOD
Saturday, April 6, 4.15pm
X Convenience Oval

The final game of the round will help Central District measure itself against the premiership favourites. Having won two consecutive games before dropping their past couple, the Bulldogs will hope to get a fast start against the Redlegs in this game. Katelyn Rosenzweig returns to the side in a crucial inclusion against a Norwood team that is reeling from injuries. Along with Rosenzweig, Keely Cannizarro returns to the team in defence, replacing captain Nicola Biagi who misses the clash, while half-back Karissa Searle is also into the team. For Norwood, they seem to have limped into this game with five four changes including three injuries and two unavailabilities. Jo Hill, Cassandra Tsoumbris and Matilda Van Riel will miss through injury, while Kate Fenton and key player Ebony O’Dea will miss the match as well. Despite the wide-scale changes at the ladder leaders, it is hard to see them not controlling this game, with Leah Cutting the number one ruck in the competition, and Hannah Dunn (20.7 disposals per game), Najwa Allen (19.8) and Monique Hollick (17.5) all ranked in the top seven biggest ball winners. Hollick has also been the far and away dominant marker this season, averaging almost seven per game, and 14 more than her nearest rival. One thing Central District do well is clear the ball from defence, and Gemma Doughty and Demi Sonneman are ranked in the top five for rebounds in 2019. It will take a massive effort from the Bulldogs to upstage the Redlegs, but with the high number of chances forcing some adjustability to the Norwood side, and a determined effort with a last chance look at finals potentially on the line, Central District will likely step up and put in a strong effort in this clash.

Weekend preview: SANFL Women’s – Round 3

IN Round 3 of the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s league, the most improved sides in the competition will test themselves against some of the best last season, while the two newcomers face off.

GLENELG vs. NORTH ADELAIDE
March 1, 6.30pm
City Mazda Stadium

The two teams in our first SANFL Women’s Round 3 game had different seasons in 2018, with Glenelg claiming the wooden spoon in a disappointing year, while North Adelaide looked every bit a premiership contender, finishing second before bowing out in the preliminary final. In 2019, their seasons have been different for the opposite reasons as Glenelg has managed to string two on the trot – albeit against the two new sides of the competition. For North Adelaide, after a Round 1 loss to their preliminary final conquerors Norwood, the Roosters bounced back with a seven-point win over Sturt. North Adelaide was made to work for it, booting three goals to zero in the third term to come from behind thanks to a five-goal Kelly Barltrop haul. On the other hand, Glenelg always looked in control, leading at each break and restricting the Bulldogs to just one goal in the first three terms, before recording a comfortable 5.7 to 3.2 victory. In season 2019, Roosters captain Nadia Von Bertouch is in the top five for disposals, averaging 17.5 touches from her two games, while Paige Allen is the next highest with 12.5 disposals per game. The Roosters will be in search of finding a more even spread of goalkickers in Round 3, having a low-scoring loss to the Redlegs in Round 1, before Barltrop did all the damage in Round 2. For the Tigers, Lucy Bellinger has been a prominent ball winner in season 2019, averaging 16.5 disposals per game, while Ellen Fauser (15.5) and Elle Kellock (14.5) have also been prolific. Key targets inside 50, Bellinger and Hannah Crump have kicked five goals between them in season 2019 and will look to do more damage this round, while Sam Franson and Fauser have also booted multiple goals this season. Despite ladder positions this could be a huge game with the Roosters capable of defeating anyone on their day, while the Tigers are clearly an improved outfit in season 2019.

CENTRAL DISTRICT vs. WOODVILLE-WEST TORRENS
March 1, 6.30pm
Coopers Stadium

In one of the most anticipated matches of 2019, the two brand new sides will battle it out at Coopers Stadium to try and get on the board this season. Central District lost by 20 points in Round 1 and 17 last week against West Adelaide and Glenelg respectively. The Eagles were overwhelmed in Round 1 when they went down to the Tigers by 35 points, before Adelaide forward, Sarah Perkins helped the Eagles to only just miss out on four points against the Bloods. In terms of changes, the Bulldogs made the one confirmed change with Renai Richardson going out of the side, while Alicia Butler, Megan Boers, Lauren Smith and Demi Sonneman were all named on an extended interchange. For the Eagles, they have rolled the dice with four confirmed changes as Abby Pengelly, Hannah Scholar, Jo-Anna Baltais and Tesharna Maher were named as outs, while Chloe Forby, Natalie Subelli, Shae Pacifico Hart, Zahn Anthony and Courtney Jonson were named back in the side. This season both sides have had some impressive individual performances. Both Perkins and Kiana Lee have booted three goals so far this season, while Jaimi Tabb has two majors. In terms of possessions, Tabb leads the side with 17.5 just ahead of Stephanie Walker (16.5), Madeleine Dufek (16.0) and Georgia Taylor and Maher (15.0). For Central, Danielle Stewart (17 possessions), Hannah Pavlovich (15) and Jayme-Lee Sonneman (13) are the three players in double figures, while Katelyn Rosenzweig has booted 2.4 in her two games this season for her new side. The Eagles will go in as favourites after a promising game last week, but the Bulldogs will be keen to assert themselves against a fellow newcomer.

NORWOOD vs. STURT
March 1, 8.25pm
Coopers Stadium

The second game at Coopers Stadium sees the in-form Norwood taking on the winless, but improving Sturt. The Redlegs passed an important challenge last week by disposing of reigning premiers South Adelaide, while the Double Blues just fell short of victory against North Adelaide in Round 2. Norwood could take top spot if both Glenelg and West Adelaide lose – both sides are playing two of the top three last year – so a win here is important. The two points are even more important for Sturt, with a win keeping them in contention of the top four. Norwood have brought two players into the extended side with Jiarna Zerella and Emma Clark both named, while Sturt have made two direct changes as Holly Temby and Maisie Nankivell come into the side for Brooke-Lee Chaplin and Sophie Yeates. Hannah Dunn is the leading ball winner in the SANFL Women’s competition at 23 possessions per game, one ahead of teammate Najwa Allen and West Adelaide’s Maddi Newman. Sturt’s Georgia Bevan has also been busy around the stoppages, averaging 18 touches in her two games so far. On the scoreboard front, Allen has been the most accurate player in the competition, slotting 4.0 in her two games, the only multiple goalkicker for the Redlegs. For Sturt, Lauren Lovell and Caitlyn Swanson both have two goals apiece to lead the Double Blues’ goalkicking. In the history of the SANFL Women’s Sturt is yet to defeat Norwood, so will hope to turn the tables in this game. Both of Norwood’s wins this season have seen the Redlegs come from behind at one break with the South Adelaide win following a seven-point quarter time deficit, and a three quarter time two-point deficit saw Norwood run over the top of North Adelaide. Sturt has been on the receiving end, having led South by four points at quarter time and North by five points at half-time. Norwood heads into the game as strong favourites given the Redlegs’ record, but you can never discount the Double Blues who have shown promising signs in the past rounds.

WEST ADELAIDE vs. SOUTH ADELAIDE
March 1, 8.25pm
City Mazda Stadium

In the final game of the round, West Adelaide takes on its South counterparts, in what could be a big game for gaining momentum early in the season. The Bloods are undefeated having disposed of the two new sides to the competition, while the Panthers went down to Norwood last week after a victory against Sturt in Round 1. The Bloods have brought in five players on an extended interchange bench with Kelly Whittaker, Phoebe Edwards, Lauren Rodato, Melanie Elsegood and Georgie Pater coming in for Helen Maidment, Alexandra Czabayski and Jacalyn Pickering. The listed changes for Sturt feature a huge inclusion with big ball winner, Nikki Gore returning to the side with Mykala Walker-Murphy, Elyse Haussen, and debutants Caitlin Radbone and Emily Brockhurst, while Lauren Buchanan was unavailable for the clash and both Natalie Gibbs and Emogen Johnson were omitted. Looking at the season so far, West Adelaide’s Maddi Newman has been the most prominent ball winner in the game, averaging 22 touches per game ahead of Abbie Ballard (16.5). For the Panthers, Czenya Cavouras has averaged 17 possessions per game, while bottom-agers Hannah Munyard (16.5) and Montana McKinnon (15.5) have also been prominent. In the goalkicking stakes, Chelsea Biddell‘s six majors last week helped her side get over the line, while for South Adelaide, Teah Charlton leads the team with three majors this season. This game looms as a thrilling contest because South Adelaide has more runs on the board as reigning premiers, but the Bloods are still undefeated and will be confident heading into the game.