THE inaugural AFL Women’s (AFLW) premiers have seen a swift change to their side this season, with a new coach at the helm and a host of exciting draftees getting the opportunity to pull on the Crows guernsey. They experienced heartbreak last season by just missing out on the finals in the last match of the season, but will be willing to turn their fortunes around in 2019.
Last season: 5th – three wins, three losses, one draw.
In: Renee Forth, Nikki Gore, Jess Foley, Chloe Scheer, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Danielle Ponter, Hannah Martin, Ailish Considine, Sophie Li, Maisie Nankivell.
Out: Talia Radan, Sophie Armitstead, Georgia Bevan, Calista Boyd, Abbey Holmes, Rachael Killian, Becchara Palmer, Brianna Walling, Ruth Wallace, Jess Allan.
Prior to the draft, Adelaide’s outs looked like they were going to really impact the Crows’ season. But they have recruited brilliantly, adding to their midfield stocks through the likes of Nikki Gore, and boosting their forward line through picking up players such as Katelyn Rosenzweig and Danielle Ponter. Renee Forth is another huge addition, adding another important boost of experience to the side. The NT Thunder had a successful season in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s season on the back of the cohesion of Adelaide players in the side, so expect them to continue to gel in the AFLW.
Area of strength: Forward line
Adelaide’s forward line looks like one of the most dangerous in the competition. Along with All Australian, Sarah Perkins and AFLW season one Most Valuable Player (MVP), Erin Phillips, who can sometimes push up forward from the midfield, the Crows have some young stars to complement them well. Katelyn Rosenzweig was the leading goal kicker in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) Women’s league at just 18, and also came second in the South Australian Women’s Football League (SAWFL) in the same year. Joining her will be Northern Territory Under-18 representative, Danielle Ponter, who knows how to find the goals. Ponter spent some time in Essendon’s VFLW side this year and kicked six goals from six games, finishing in the top three for the side’s goal kicking. Add the talented forward/ midfielder, Chloe Scheer, and the high-flying Jessica Sedunary, and you have one dangerous contingent inside 50.
Area of weakness: Ruck department
Not too much to be concerned about for Crows fans, as Rhiannon Metcalfe has dominated the last two seasons in the ruck, but they will look to build depth in the position. The departure of Jess Allan does hurt, but will open up the opportunity for Jasmyn Hewett to shoulder some of the duties. But in the VFLW, Hewett was often found up forward kicking goals, so the Crows may utilise her inside 50 or in defence, due to her versatility as a utility player. New recruit, Jess Foley will be key in the ruck department, as she looks to use her basketball background to advantage to assist Metcalfe.
Players to watch:
Scheer was highly likely to get drafted in 2018, but an ACL injury held her back. Since recovering from her injury, she has spent some time in the Northern Territory, kicking four goals in her first game of the season for Nightcliff in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) Women’s competition. In that same game, she helped secure Nightcliff’s first win for the season, highlighting how much of an impact she can make immediately. She has been awarded the Best and Fairest four times (three junior, one senior) in her career at the Adelaide Footy League/ SAWFL, highlighting her immense talent.
Sedunary had a stellar season for the NT Thunder in the VFLW, finishing fifth in the competition’s goal kicking and first in the club’s. She kicked 15 goals in 11 games, including a four-goal haul against the Cats. Sedunary has great take-off speed and is a fitness machine, making her a weapon up forward. She is also a great reader of the play, as she can often play sneakily behind the ball when the defenders crash the packs. Expect her to be a headache for opposition sides this season.
Like Sedunary, Rajcic also starred in the NT Thunder line-up during the VFLW season. She was named in the best in three of her seven games, and was utilised inside 50. In the forward line, she managed 11 goals for the season, averaging 1.57 majors per game. The Crows usually played Rajcic in defence last year, but after her breakout season with the Thunder, she could feature prominently as a high half-forward. She also has the ability to rack up the disposals, averaging 9.6 last year and 13.4 in the VFLW. Rajcic racked up more than 10 disposals in all but one of her appearances for the Thunder, making her a player to certainly keep an eye on.
2019 prediction: 2nd in Conference A
The Crows have a line-up that will really threaten the competition, with the forward line being the focal point. The midfield continues to boast the excitement of the previous seasons, with players like Ebony Marinoff, Erin Phillips and Angela Foley sticking at the club for what is set to be another successful year. It will be interesting to see what new coach, Matthew Clarke does with his strong side and whether he will go in a different direction to Bec Goddard, in terms of player positioning. It’s hard to see Adelaide miss the finals with such a strong side and the envy of missing finals last year. Their main challenges will be the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne in their conference, and those teams happen to be the bookends of their season, and if anyone knows how crucial it is to start and finish the season off well, it’s the Crows. They do have a tough run home with the the Kangaroos, Giants and Demons standing in their way, so Adelaide will want to be securing early wins, and that window for potential will be in rounds two, three and four, when the Crows face the Blues, Cats and Dockers. The Crows will want to time their run to the finals better than they did in 2018 to secure a finals berth in the AFLW’s third season.